August 8, 1939

Yellowknife, N.W.T.

Aug 8th /39

Dear Mother:

I suddenly realise that it is very long since I last wrote so please accept my humble apologies.  I think the last was July 13—I had specially written this down so that I would write more regularly and it seems to have had the opposite effect.  How this month has flown.

I am sure you must have had a wonderful holiday if the photograph you sent is any criterion of the places you saw.

Lord knows when I will get my holidays again.  Eric wants to go out over breakup and I don’t think we can very well both go out together.  Also the winter is the time of year when I least want to be out and I could never wait till breakup.  I wonder what the answer to this one is.

The first barge load of beer had all been sold within three weeks.  There were twenty four thousand bottles in the shipment—so apparently everybody had been waiting for nothing but the beer.  There was a dry spell for almost ten days before the second lot came in.

Weather has been perfect lately—with both wind and sun except on Sundays when it rains.  Consequently we haven’t been on  any all day sailing trips for a long time—but just as far as town for show or supper.

Eric and I went for a swim one night quite unintentionally.  We had started out for town in a small canoe but were soon attacked by so-called friends in a larger freighter canoe.  In the ensuing melee we turned over and were not rescued till they had made a couple of triumphant circles around us.  Undaunted we changed and continued on our way still in the same prospector’s canoe.

One evening we went over to a tea dance at the Indian Village.  It was just after the treaty money had been paid and the tribe had been having a celebration lasting over several days.  When we got there they were all sitting down for supper (as in the photo) but they weren’t eating.  It took a good two hours to get every plate ready with its one egg, bannock, sticky rice and less tasty looking mixtures and then the new chief made his speech.  Quite a long speech too for an Indian so if the food hadn’t been cold to start with it most certainly was when they eventually got around to eating it.

After this was over the dancing started—very dull to watch as it is nothing but a shuffle or hopping in a big circle.  There is not a vestige of expression on their faces and the monotony and seriousness is only broken by occasional whoops from the bucks.  I was more interested in the music which really was primitive and reminded me of native music you sometimes hear in a jungle picture.  It was accomplished by three crude drums which I was amused to see had to be heated over a small fire after each dance to keep them tight and by a weird singing which seemed to have no words only guttural sounds.  I don’t know how long the dance lasted but as there was little variety to the music and none to the dancing we left after an hour of it.

I had a letter from Doug Sharpe tonight.  His father has retired and lives at the coast so Doug is managing the store himself and says it keeps him very busy.

One of my fraternity brothers, Harold Wright, whom I had not met before stayed a night here in his capacity as salesman for Denver Equipment Co who supplied much of our mill equipment.  He was on the Canadian Olympic team for Los Angeles and I once saw him race against Alan Poole in Penticton.  His job covers all Canada and Newfoundland and takes in Denver and Salt Lake City as well so he’s going to slide down to the World Fair on the southern leg of his travels.

With love from Tony

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