Tag Archives: Rimbey

Last Letter From Rimbey

W will be heading home this week from his extended stay in Ontario.  I’m not kidding with the ‘extended’ part.  He’s been gone for almost six months.  My comfy, lazy, living alone days are about to come to an end.  The huge difference between 2012 and 1936 – when my dad left for his extended adventure in the wild west – is that we can phone and text daily if we feel like it.  For my mom and dad there were only a couple of letters back and forth in a month or so.  I think that must have made it feel like their time apart would go on forever as they lead their separate lives.

In this letter (the last one I have) dad seems to be winding down and wearing out from working hard and playing harder.  He’s sounding ready to head back home.

Rimbey, Alberta

October 1, 1936

Dear Marg,

I received your very welcome newsy letter last week and was I glad to hear from you, or was I?   Well I’ll say so.  I’m so glad you got a school.  What’s Marguerite doing now?  You didn’t say.  I suppose Newton is still at the same school.  There are so many questions I would like to ask it would take most of the night so I’ll quit.  I hope to see you before Santa Claus comes and when I do, Oh boy!  Won’t you see a happy boy.

I wouldn’t try to fool you by telling you I haven’t been enjoying myself here because I have really been having a whale of a time and am only half decided on whether I want to leave or not.  I told Alvin Boetger I’d call for him at Moosejaw on the way home, so I guess I’ll strike out anyway, although I haven’t any idea when. It will likely be some time yet because this job lasts for at least a month if I’ll stay.  I don’t know my own mind for any length of time.

The night I posted that last letter I broke the axle of the car and I rode to Springdale on horseback and what a night.  Twelve miles both ways.  I left here about ten and got there for three dances, then rode back again.  I let the horse walk and the sun was just coming over the edge of the hills when I arrived home.  I certainly felt great the next few days.  I was hobbling around like an old man.  It’s all worn off by now of course.

There’s another dance tomorrow night at the same place, so I’ll say goodbye to everybody just in case I take a notion.  The way I did when leaving home.  I don’t know whether it would be safe for me to land in home now or not.  I might have some difficult questions to answer.  Oh well, I’ve had lots of things to figure out for myself all summer.  Harold tells me I’ve changed a hell of a lot this summer – what do you think of that?  I hope it’s for the better.  I sort of have my doubts though.  I’ll ask you when I see you.  (next spring??)

Threshing Scene
Threshing Scene (Photo credit: Galt Museum & Archives on The Commons)

I hear nearly everybody is getting married up there.  I hope you haven’t any such foolish notion!?  I think it’s too much fun this way myself.  I’ve been disking the last few days with six horses abreast and is it dusty.  I got in seven days of threshing – wasn’t that a lot?  Oh well, I’m still living.  We certainly had a whale of a time threshing.  Harold was the life of the gang.  He sure was foolish.  Well I’ve been talking here for a long time and forgot anything I was going to say, so I’ll sign off for now.

***

Another night.  How are you doing, etc.  Saturday in fact.  I’m waiting for my boss to bring back my car from town and then I’m going places, to post this letter, etc.  The dance last night was a howling success.  A big time, but not so much fun today.  They tell me I’m getting thin, but I don’t believe it.  I haven’t had a good appetite for the last three weeks but I’m still feeling not too bad.  They tell me I’m  homesick.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re right.  You’ll have to try like a school teacher to make connections in this letter.

Smithson Museum in Rimbey
Smithson Museum in Rimbey (Photo credit: Sherlock77 (James))

There really hasn’t been anything overly exciting happen and I don’t know what to write being you don’t know the people here.  There’s a girl here wants to go back east with us.  She’s taken a shine to Harold I think.  I told her we had a load, sorry, etc.  I’m getting good at saying things I don’t mean – I guess that’s bad, what?

Well kid, I’ll have to call this a letter.  Anyway, I made a stab at it, which is more than I did during the summer.  The car is coming, so toodeloo.

With loads of love and kisses,

Hank.

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A Letter From Rimbey 2

August 24, 1936

Dear Margaret,

What do you suppose would be the best thing to do with me.  I have a notion to get behind a wicked horse and ask him to kindly oblige by giving me partly what I deserve for neglecting to write.  I received your letter about four weeks ago and I certainly was glad to get it.  I’ve been pretty busy and haven’t had a  very good opportunity to write but of course that’s no excuse.  I suppose I had better start at the beginning and tell you some of the things that have been happening.  We went to the stampede in Rimbey and it was really good.  I was thinking I’d like to go and ride some of them but I had my good clothes on so I didn’t try it.  It was a good excuse, anyway.

English: Blindman River, near Rimbey, Alberta
English: Blindman River, near Rimbey, Alberta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, kid, how’s it going with you?  Have you got a school, etc.  I hope you don’t have to say no.  I just hired with a dairy farmer here the other day and he wants me to stay all winter.  Should I should, or should I shouldn’t?  I wonder.  If Marg is going to be away from home, I might just as well be.  I haven’t decided yet but you’ll let me know what you think, then I’ll decide whether you’re right or not, eh?Last Saturday morning I got a telephone message there was a wiener roast in Springdale and oh boy did I have fun.  I almost forgot I wasn’t with our own crowd at home.  They’re surely full of fun here and everybody enjoyed themselves.  There is one big trouble with this country and that is the mud roads.  They’re fine when they’re dry but when they’re wet, oh boy, watch out.  The car just goes about where it wants to.  Harold and I were going into town the other night in the rain and we were driving pretty carefully behind another car and that other car took the ditch over the river bank.  Well that gave me a start, and how.  Nobody hurt – pretty lucky.

They all piled in with me and we got to Rimbey and home again safely and was I glad!  I thought I did pretty well to keep on the road when the other fellows couldn’t.  On the way home from the wiener roast the rain came down in torrents and I was alone so I stopped for a while.  When it was over I started on again but the road was so slippery I got square across the road and had to back into the ditch to get going again and nearly didn’t get going.  I was afraid to go down the river hill when it was so slippery in the dark so I stopped and went to sleep in the car until daylight.

Then willy wouldn’t start!  Oh oh!  I got a guy out of bed and he gave me a pull with a team and I got home about ten thirty.  Did I get razzed or did I.  That’s enough of muddy roads for me.  If it gets wet, I stay home.

I think I’ll sign off for tonight and go to bed.  Maybe I’ll think of something more to write before another evening, so Good night kid.   Hank.

****

Smithson Museum in Rimbey, Alberta
Smithson Museum in Rimbey, Alberta (Photo credit: Sherlock77 (James))

And here I go again.  Nothing much out of the ordinary happening, except that I was the object of an accident yesterday while riding the plough.  I was standing on it striking out a land when i hit a stone pretty solid.  I fell forward and hit my face on the iron rigging in front and you should see me now.  I look somewhat different.  It doesn’t hurt anymore but still looks bad.  Of course it isn’t nearly as bad as your accident with your hand last winter.

There is supposed to be a dance in Springdale tonight, so I guess I’ll go.  I don’t know what a person would do in this country if they didn’t dance.  Things would certainly be dull.

I’m going to try another page.  I surely wish I could write letters like you do, kid – they’re great.  The crops aren’t  very good out here, in fact they’re so poor that the boss and I invented a rig to use without twine.  We have a platform fixed on behind the binder and there I ride and fix the stuff into a coil then shove it off.  It was rather hard work the first day but I got used to it and it’s nothing but a day’s work now.

We don’t believe in hard work out here, they even have rigs to put hay on a stack without using the wagon.  It is pulled into the stack by a large rake affair and put on a stacker which throws it about twenty feet high.  All the forking is in making the stack.

Say kid, do you know if Newton is going back to the same school?  I’d like to see him.  I wouldn’t go to see him if I didn’t know for sure he’s there.

I can’t think of anything more to write except I’d like an answer lots sooner than I wrote.  You can send my letters to Rimbey in care of Irwin Budd, or to my farmer address – either one will get me.

I guess there’s no use writing when you’re out of things to write, so signing off for this evening.

With love and kisses, I remain, Hank

A Letter From Rimbey

English: Blindman River, near Rimbey, Alberta
English: Blindman River, near Rimbey, Alberta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rimbey, Alberta, June 12, 1936

Dear Margaret,

I received your letter on Tuesday and was certainly glad to get it.  Its the first one for over a month and it does me good.  We only get mail delivery twice a week here.  If I’d stayed in Nanton I would have got it some time sooner.  It was a dandy too – everything in it was interesting.  Well I’ll try to go on from where I left off last time.

We finished our job on the Thursday at noon the day you got my letter and we just bummed around town for the rest of the day and part of Friday, then we decided to come up here.  We got to Calgary as you’ll know by the card I expect you received.  We fooled around there looking at the city until about eleven o’clock, then pulled out to the top of a hill to sleep.  We didn’t get up till the sun was high up in the sky next morning, and then got going again.  We arrived here Saturday evening about five o’clock.

On the way we saw a good many fields of stooked grain that had never been thrashed.  The hail had shelled it so badly it wasn’t worth thrashing.  That’s the kind of country this is, very undependable.  I’ve been driving six and eight horses at a time – it’s quite nice for a change.  I feel as if I’m doing something.A field of stooked grain

As I said before, we arrived here on a Saturday.  Well I sowed grain on the following Sunday and ploughed with six horses on Monday and several days hence.  Oh!  I mustn’t forget to tell you I was given a government job shortly after I reached Alberta.  I was on the road surveying and cutting brush for a few days.  Isn’t that getting up in the world, working for the government?

I was ploughing about two and a half miles from here today and a thunderstorm came up without much warning.  I turned toward the old barn and just got there in time for the hail and rain started to come and did it come!  The hail was no ordinary size either.  I couldn’t get the horses to go around to the side of the barn where the door was because the storm was blowing so hard.  They just stayed in shelter beside the barn.  Of course I had to stay and watch them, and got sort of damp.

There was supposed to be a dance in Bluffton tonight and I suppose we would have gone only the rain made the roads so muddy.  You see they don’t gravel the roads in the pioneer district and they certainly get greasy with very little rain.  The soil is mostly clay.

I guess by the time this reaches Ontario you’ll be home so I’ll address it to Turners.  How was our Blanche when you last saw her?  I guess I’d better write to her, I do so enjoy her letters and I guess that’s the only way of getting one.  That certainly is interesting about the colt and the calves, that’s what I’d call real news.  It’s much better than a lot of idle gossip.

I hope you’ll forgive me kid, something tragic happened to that letter you sent and I only had a chance to read it once.  The boss’s wife says she noticed an envelope in the sweeping but thought it one of her old letters, so it went into the stove.  I guess that’s what happened.  I remember you saying you didn’t want to go out and not enjoy yourself.  That’s swell of you because I feel the same way myself.  I’ve also met a lot of people, of course some very nice girls too, but they’ll have to go some distance yet to come up near the mark of a little girl I know in the east.

We’ve almost decided to go to the coast in July for the jubilee there.  What do you think of that?  Then when harvest is over we can go back home if we don’t land a job here or something.  I think it will be much nicer travelling in July than late in November.  There ought to be more to see while the jubilee is on.  I’ll try to take a swim in the Pacific Ocean.  Won’t that be something.  Of course I’ll send you some cards from Victoria and Vancouver.

King George-VI
King George-VI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I asked Harold if he could think of any news.  He said King George died and King Eddie is now on the throne.  He says to threaten you that he might write to you sometime.  Well kid, my brain is beginning to go hooey again.  I know you’ll be thinking I’ve neglected to write but I couldn’t get it away any sooner anyway, so I guess you’ll just have to wait.  You can keep sending my mail to Nanton because I’ll likely be going back there before long.  I’ll be looking for a letter before long kid, so I’ll be signing off.  I wish I could think of more to write to the best girl in the world, but seeing it’s impossible –

I’ll be thinking of my darling until I hear from her,

with love,

Your Hank.

Postcards Home

In 1936 my mom was attending teachers college in Stratford, Ontario.  The love of her life, my dad, was off to see the world.  Well, western Canada, actually, but in those days, worlds away from home.  He and a buddy headed west to find work and adventure.

Amongst the treasures I gleaned from home this visit were pieces of correspondence between my parents, and letters they sent to, or received from other people.  Interesting stuff.  And amazing that it has survived all these years.


This was written on the 15th of May, 1936.

Dear Marg,  We reached Grand Forks North Dakota at two o’clock Friday.  We’re getting along fine now.  Hope you’re keeping well.  This is a big city.  I don’t like it.  The surrounding country is prairie.  Love Hank.

“Getting along fine now” suggests that things might not have been quite so fine before that.  Imagine two young men with minimal mechanical abilities setting off across Canada in a Model T Ford.

It may have looked like this new, but after thousands of miles and many flat tires and gravel roads later, perhaps not quite so lovely.

On the 30th of May, fifteen days later, he sent this postcard from Calgary.

Dear Margaret, We’re in Calgary.  We can’t keep still in one spot.  We’re heading for Rimbey for a while.  It’s about 250 miles.  Send mail to Newton and I’ll get it.  I hope you’re taking good care of yourself.  I’m having the time of my life.  Although I sometimes get rather lonesome.  We worked for about a week.  I’ll write later.  Love Hank

Dad was travelling with a friend from home, also off on an adventure, kind of like the ‘work as you go’ holidays people go off on today.  Except they go to Europe or somewhere slightly more interesting than Rimbey, Alberta.  Dad also kept in close touch with his family back home, thus the reference to Newton, his older brother.

There was work in Rimbey and I know that he stayed there for awhile.  When my parents came here to visit us in the 1990’s we drove them out there to look up the people he knew way back when.  Obviously they made quite an impression on eachother.

It’s unfortunate that I didn’t pay closer attention to the details of the stories dad used to tell us in bits and pieces about his time “out west”.  I was more concerned about the fact that they were so far apart for so long and either one of them might have married someone else.  Apparently both of them were worth waiting for.