December 22, 1937

c/o C. M. & S. Co. Ltd.

Yellowknife, N. W. T.

Dec 22nd /37.

Dear Mother:

It is hard to realise it is nearly Christmas—it is so much different from any other I have ever had.  Thanks so much for the parcel which came in a few days ago.  I knew the Indian sweater would be there so I had to get it out despite the :Do not open”.  However I did not look at anything else and wrapped the parcel up again ready for Christmas.  Naturally I had to find out what Dad sent me as it was wrapped in the sweater—so I thank you both for these presents.  I have worn the seater quite a lot already.  My own Christmas shopping has been exceedingly limited and very belated—made doubly late by the poor flying conditions.  Such as it is it may still be in the Yellowknife post-office.  Cards were all sold by the time I got to the store and I have only been able to send two.  Altogether I am somewhat ashamed of myself.

I was quite surprised to see a good assortment of mechanical toys in the Yellowknife store.  I cannot imagine a young child with such a toy.  Eric and I bought some tumblers in preparation for the festive season.  They cost $3.00 a dozen for ordinary cheap glasses.  Daily papers are the only item I can think of that cost the same there as in Edmonton.  While we were over there we had a few games of pool which cost us nothing as the barber has not got his license yet.  Even up here he has to buy a $75.00 license.

I have played quite a bit of ping pong lately.  We play on a drafting table which is almost chest high and much wider than our table.  I didn’t find these unusual dimensions much of a disadvantage however and am yet unbeaten.  I am going to rest on my laurels for a while in case I get stale.

We had the first movie in Yellowknife not long ago when Erics [sic] projector came in.  Most of the pictures were taken here or near Goldfields and were very good particularly those in colors.  Unfortunately the show ended very adruptly [sic].  We had put a roll in upside down and backwards.  (It looks very strange to see a plane land backwards.)  Anyway we held the projector upside down so it would only be backwards but this seemed to be against the rules as the only bulb we had burnt out almost immediately.

A load of turkeys came in with my parcel.  Also sausages to go with them.  I hope the cook really excels himself when he cooks them.  Our pilot also picked up several thousand cigarettes in McMurray which were consigned to Goldfields as he knew our supply was exhausted long ago.

Lately it has been much to [sic] warm for flying and the pilots find their engines heat up too much as they have very thin oil.  Also if they run into snow squalls in this type of weather the plane ices badly—even on the propeller.  Page McPhee, our pilot, just beat a storm into Fort Smith a few days [ago] and had 3/16” of ice covering parts of the plane.  A few minutes lately [sic] an M. A. S. plane came in.  It was badly iced up and came down rather heavily even though it was brought down under full throttle.  The weather has taken a turn for the better as fr as flying is concerned—clear and cold.  It is 34° below with a north wind which means it is really cold.

Approximately 45 men have been laid off or quit now which makes my work considerably easier.  Construction work is practically confined to the mill which is coming along very fast.  The contents of a mill seem to consist chiefly of huge wooden tanks—being anywhere from 12 to 18 feet in diameter and 7 to 15 feet tall.  About six so far have been installed.  In the shaft they are now making the second “station” which is just about what you would expect it to be.  This one is at the 250’ level.  When this is finished I believe they will start crosscutting towards the vein.  The ore here is so much more valuable than that at Goldfields you would wonder the latter is worth developing.  The reason is partly that the vein at Goldfields is some 50 feet wide a against 4 feet here and an entirely different method is used.  The Gordon Lake area is yet more valuable as the enclosed article suggests.  The winter road to Gordon Lake is ready I think and I believe the first train will leave so [sic].  I saw two of the sleighs holding oil tanks ready on the ice over town.  Another sleigh is the caboose and still another a warehouse for food.  The tractors are diesel and much larger than ours.  I expect they will each draw about six sleighs at a time and take possibly two days to get there.  Incidentally Gordon Lake is not 100 miles away any more than we have six hotels as the article suggests.  Pete Racine who I have met still has the only hotel.

The camp wood is being hauled from a distance of about three miles away and there is quite a pile of logs on the ice near the staffhouse.  For a while it was almost impossible to keep ahead of the enormous appetite of the boiler furnace but now they have a huge stack some ten feet high between us and the cookhouse which should last over the two holidays of Christmas.

Even should the mill be finished early in the spring there is no possibility of putting it into operation as there is only enough oil for the diesel compressor which have [sic] two small generators attached for lights.  The two large 4-cylinder diesels supposed to be used for the power and the third compressor will have to wait until the oil comes in after break-up.

Archie was asking about magazines on the N .W. T. and mentions “Gold”.  This happens to be the best I have seen about this part of the country.  There is one other but I cannot recall the name at present.

Best love to you all and Happy New Year


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