Dear Mom & Dad --
I have just received 4 letters today. My first mail since I arrived here. I got your letters of the 13th and of the 3rd. I got one from Jim, written on the 14th of Oct., and one from Alex Macdonald who is at Sea Island, Vancouver.
By now you should have my first letter. I have also written Jim, Mrs. Pyke & Alex. Letter-writing not being one of my habits, it was hard to get started. Although I was glad to receive your letters, the one of the 4th made me laugh. You worry too much. If anything was wrong, you would have heard. As for your jump at the conclusion of my not wanting to write has anything to do with you, well, that was rather silly. When I had time I could not write, and when I felt like writing I had other things to do.
We get P.T. after work and most nights we have either shows or lectures or maybe a trip to Queen Charlotte City, so you see there is not so much spare time as I thought there would be.
Thanks for looking after my clothing. I never heard anything about Thanksgiving out here, and I don't think anybody even thought about it. The same with Hallowe'en. I would have liked very much to have met Brian. I am sure we would have had a good time together. I told you of my experiences on my trip in my first letter, but I think Saskatoon was the cleanest, best-looking city I have ever seen. The highest mountain in the Rockies was Mt. Robinson and that held our interest for a long time. Another sight I shall always remember is a place called Bulkley Canyon. It was awfully deep, with a river at the bottom, and the train trestle high over it.
I was not very tired when we reached Rupert because we had good food and slept well on the train. The trip from P.R. to Alliford Bay really hit me hard. I never ate much for days afterward.
There are some logging camps west of Alliford Bay and Queen Charlotte City, on the channel towards the ocean. I have never seen anything of them because I have not been up for a flip yet and the only boat trips were over to Graham Island. I have seen loggers from the Carstairs Co. and the Morgan Co. when they have been in Charlotte and one sees the odd log in the bay that has been blown in by a storm from the camps. We have to go out and tow them in because they are a hazard for aircraft.
The weather out here is pretty good. It rains every day but the sun shines at some time during the day also so it is not so bad. It has not been cold here yet. The clouds come right down into the trees and move like ghosts. There is a lovely bright moon most nights and this increases the ghost like effect. There is no fog here. The water is only 5 or 6 degrees colder in the winter than in the summer. They say days get long as early as January here. In summer one can read a paper until 10 or 11 in the evening.
The station has acres of potatoes & other vegetables at Sandspit, 10 or 12 miles east along the coast of Moresby Is. The boys get detailed from here to do all the necessary work. As yet I have not been down there.
Too bad about the fuel situation. I think it is just a racket. Out here fuel oil is used mainly. Over the radio in our room we hear the announcers warning the people in towns along the main land to order their oil and watch their tanks instead of their coal bins. Over in Queen Charlotte, Some people have wood-piles also, so I guess they save money that way.
Glad you liked the pin. I guess I nearly did forget it. I wish you hadn't cried at the station. It was not as though I were going away forever. It made me feel kind of funny inside.
I am sorry to hear about Uncle Tom and I suppose the family will have a job to keep going unless they have some insurance or something. I was shocked when, upon reading your second letter, to hear that Aunt Mary passed away, she looked to be in good health when I last saw her but I guess one cannot tell about people around that age. Was she buried near Grandma. Uncle Joe & Uncle Milt must have taken it pretty hard. I was surprised to hear about the property.
Well, with gasoline the way it was when I left, I don't think Dad will be able to get $150.00 for Jim's car. It is a swell little car and all that but if I bought it , the tires would be rotten by the time I got back because I think I will be a year or more before I get out of here. Jim would never sell it to me when I could have used it and now there is no point in me buying it. I think I will have more use for the money, when I do come home. I guess Jim is right when he says the noise over there is bad. They do a little practice-bombing here and one hears gunfire nearly all day from the ranges.
They staged a war bond drive here last week. I bought another 50.00 bond. The one I started buying in Galt is paid up and I think the account section is mailing it to you.
I am in good health in this climate. The touch of asthma I had after my hay fever when on furlough left me on the train. Glad to hear you are both well. How are all the rest of the folks. When I read about the cottage, it made me wish I was back there. Mr. Minchin's nephew is a flight-sergeant-flight-engineer on this station. I talk to him once in a while when I see him. He is a big, likeable chap. He has been here about 2 ½ years, but he was in Montreal a while on a flight engineer's course. Someday, when I become an "A" group mechanic I am going to try and get that course too. The flight engineer is with the aircraft all the time. He start the engines and looks after them. There are 8 men to a crew on the aircraft we have here. They patrol the coast for about 7 hours each day.
Two weeks ago, I was barrack joe. I will be that every 12th week. The job consists of cleaning up and sweeping floors in our hut every day for a week, washing the floor on the last day. Our huts are well-built being 2 storeys high and having 8 rooms, a washroom, a lavatory, shower room, and rumpus room for reading, writing, card games, luggage storage, etc. Our fire escapes are a slide like affair and we use them to get out quickly anytime.
We have 9 or 10 double bunks to a room, a fair sized cupboard at the head of each bunk, and a hanger rail. One large table is in the corner. We also have boot-racks on the wall. There is a window at the foot of each bunk and a light between each 2 bunks so ventilation and light are well taken care of. Fuel oil runs the boiler (one for each building) and there are six radiators to a room. We don't have them on much though, as there is no need for them.
All this week ( and part of next) I have been on commando training. We dig fox-holes, and build hot-dog stands (hill side gun nests overlooking the bay). We go into the forest and cut brush for camouflage. We run on the double over forest trails for about half a mile until we come out on a beach along from the station. Here we learn bayonet fighting and commando hand-to-hand fighting tactics. We also get a little shooting practice at ducks. At supper time, we double back to the station holding our rifles high in the left hand all the way. (very tiring). On Saturday we had lectures on gas and on guns. We dismantled our rifles, the Lewis gun, the Bren gun, and the Sten gun. We had to learn the parts and reassemble them. All this was very interesting. (When you write, get Dad to explain what it was he used to do with the Bren gun, something about the springs, I think). After we finished the lectures we went to the range cut in the mountainside and did a lot of shooting. I didn't do too badly. Boy! It sure is a thrill to stand, there with a Sten gun in your hands, bucking and spitting bullets out, and rake a bomber shaped target to pieces. Our rifles are quite heavy and after 35 or 40 rounds, I began to feel it in my shoulder. I guess I am not used to holding it right. We had to fire a few rounds with our gas masks on. This was rather difficult. We have to clean and oil our guns regularly as they are inspected. We got today off. I did not get my usual day off. (Friday) We also get a 48 after our commando work is finished. I guess I'll do my washing and darn some socks. I might go across to the "city" too.
We are also on duty watch, this week, (the ones on commando). This means we have to load or unload any boats that happen to come in. There is supposed to be one coming in tonight from Vancouver but it is not there yet. It is an R.C.A.S.C. boat bringing supplies. It is 2 A.M. now and no sign of it. It was pretty rough in the channel and out in the straits, it was reported, so the boat might be delayed. I only hope it doesn't come in if I go to bed. I started to get lazy and put on weight from all this good food, so now I don't have breakfast anymore. The last time I was on the other side, I bought 2 lbs of raisins and I eat a few on the way to the hangar in the morning and I feel better for it.
I also bought a souvenir and parcelled it up and sent it to you. I hope you like it. I was talking to the old postmaster quite a while and he told me his family came from Galt 25 years ago. His brother, Dr. Beaven, is still there, on Water St. I was waiting there for the late boat to go back and he asked me into the house for a cup of tea. The people were swell and it sure was nice to sit in a kitchen by a stove with a cup of tea & a bun fresh out of the oven, and a cat rubbing around my legs. It was quite a change from the station. A trip over there once in a while breaks the monotony of station life.
For Christmas, take the money from the bank and buy yourself and Dad and Jim some presents. There are some things in the store in Charlotte but I think it would be better if you got them yourself. That way you can get something you want. The only thing I need and could really use is a camera. I could get films because I am in pretty good with the old druggist on the other side. (On dance nights, once in a while, I go and sit by his stove with him and listen to tales of the coast in its younger days.) The dances don't start until around 9.30 or 10.00 P.M. and break up at 2 or 3 in the morning.
The only drawback to a camera is that one is not allowed in the station.
Well, I think I shall answer Jim's letter and then Alex's letter now. I don't know when this mail will go out, the weather being rough over by the mainland but so long for now ---