December 17, 1938

Yellowknife, N. W. T.

Dec. 17th, 1938

Dear Mother:

I finally got back to Yellowknife on Tuesday.  Bud Potter came in to McMurray on Monday but the weather was very bad in the north on the following day and we had to wait.  But that afternoon Ben arrived with Howard etc. and soon after he landed a wind-storm which had got up very suddenly blew Bud’s plane against Ben’s.  Bud had a section of the trailing edge smashed in and the landing wire broken and Ben had a leading edge cut by the wire and a slightly bent strut.  Neither plane has come north yet and I think Bud is still repairing his.  The only other plane in McMurray on that day belonged to Jimmy Warren.  His plane was having an engine change and as a truck was backing up with the new engine it skidded somehow and smashed a wing tip.  I was rather annoyed to think that I could have waited and come in with Ben Harrop after all.  Particularly as my hotel bill at McMurray was 16.00 and I stayed at the fraternity house the same length of time for $5.00.

The next morning Ernie Demers woke me up to tell me I was going on a commercial plane.  It turned out to be the same Bellanca that took me as far as McMurray.  Our flying time was about three hours twenty minutes.  This time there were three passengers and far more freight.  Part of the freight was movie reels and I noticed the name “Stella Dallas” on one of them.  I guess I’ve seen it but remember only the name.

The first thing that I noticed when going over Yellowknife was what looked to be an automobile.  Upon landing this first impression was found correct.  It was a new Terraplane (or small Hudson) fixed up with a cab and used as a taxi and it was this vehicle that brought me to my final destination.

That evening Eric and I went up to the Hamiltons where we finished the first of my two bottles and I heard all the news of town and camp.  Eric told me I would be going out to the Lily-Jack (now called Ptarmigan Mines Ltd) in about a week.  This was what I was hoping for and rather expected that was shy there was such a rush to bring me in.  As far as I can find out the man there at present is not particularly busy but there is a great deal of variety and hence good experience to the work.

So imagine my surprise and disappointment when Tudor tells me that he is sending my room-mate Gray out there until the end of January.  This was so unexpected that I had no answer to it.  Tudor tries to impress upon me that this is a responsible position and no doubt it is as it is the only department that hands out cheques fairly often and at very short notice but I still don’t see any future in it.  Before I went out I knew I would but hoped I wouldn’t be coming back.  When you are out you don’t think much about looking for something else and have no idea what to look for.  I still harbour thoughts of chartered accountancy, wishing now that I had never veered from the path toward it, and while in Edmonton I called on one of my professors who is also a chartered accountant and from him I find that should I article in Alberta I would have to do so for three years, then, if I wished, move to any other province & write the final examinations at any time.  I would not have to touch the intermediate exams.  Should I article in B. C. (where I believe I ultimately want to be) it would take me four years, writing both sets of exams.  Eric is also somewhat fed up with the company and when he goes out next freeze-up hopes not to come back.  He is also thinking of a C. A. although he would have to article for five years.

Gray and I have moved into the big room that Tudor had last year which I a very great improvement.  It has a good sized cupboard and Gray had one of the carpenters put up a desk and has himself equipped the window with curtains so that the room now is very comfortable with plenty of space.

One of our tractor drivers nearly lost his life when his tractor broke thru the ice into twenty feet of water.  Fortunately the door of the cab had come off earlier in the day but when he first tried to get out the water pushed him back and it wasn’t till he got to the bottom that he was sucked out with the air.  He was lucky to find the right place to come up.

One of the mail planes went through the ice somewhere and the pilot was very fortunate to escape alive.  When the mail finally arrived here the sacks must have been practically blocks of ice as they weighed about ten times the original weight.

Gray has been frightfully busy while I have been away and has had to work three or four nights a week to keep up.  All the construction gang will be laid off by Christmas so I won’t have quite so much to handle but I can still see a goodly bit of night work ahead.  Gray will appreciate the comparative rest of Ptarmigan, I imagine.

The town continues to grow with little slackening of pace and no apparent excuse to frow at all during this time of the year.  Since I left two new restaurants have started up.  But the most impressive new building is the pool hall.  This is quite large and has six tables.  The back portion is set aside for gambling and there are at least three games there.

I haven’t been up to our new recreation hall yet but I don’t think there is very much there besides the one bowling alley and a few card tables.

There is about eight inches of snow here and so far the weather has not been cold, hovering just below zero for the last few days.

With love from


P. S.  I found two letters here from you dated October and one form the Georgia.  Your first day in Vancouver, at least, seems to have been a very busy one.

Next Letter