January 2, 1938

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

Yellowknife, N. W. T.

Jan 2nd, 1938

Dear Mother:

Many thanks to all of you for your Christmas presents and letters.  They were most welcome.  The calendar picturing “Pip” which I thought excellent came on New Year’s Eve.  Several cards and also Archie’s “brainwave” in the enlargement of Kay actually arrived on Christmas Day, as the mail plane came in on that day.  I received quite a few cards and certainly did not send many so I suppose I should write a bunch of letters.

Christmas was certainly different than usual—most of the celebrating taking place on Christmas Eve.  I was up at the Howes most of the time and their tiny house was absolutely packed.  Later on I went overtown and eventually arrived home about 6:15 on Christmas morning.  Christmas was a beautiful sunny day only about 20 below which was quite a change from the preceding days as it had been hanging around 50 below which is really too cold.  I don’t know how the surface crew could work at all.

On Boxing Day Eric and I walked over to the Indian Village which is some two miles south of here.  [The people who live there call the village Dettah.  For information on the effects of colonization and resource development on the Dene peoples of the Northwest Territories, and it ain’t pretty, see Paying The Land by Joe Sacco, Metropolitan Books, New York, 2020.)  The Indians have chosen the most desolate and windswept site in the neighbourhood.  It is surrounded by the lake on three sides and there are practically no trees so you can imagine what a cold spot it is.  There are about twenty mud-plastered cabins there and a Roman Catholic church and dogs everywhere.  Eric took quite a lot of pictures with his ciné and unlike what I have said before the Indians were not a bit shy and seemed to realise what a camera was.  It was very cold on the way home—about -37° with a headwind.  Despite my parka it was impossible to keep warm.  Eric froze his nose but Tudor, who had skii-ed [sic] over noticed it in time.  As soon as we got home I tried to rewind the finished roll in my camera and promptly snapped the film.  I am hoping I haven’t lost too many pictures as a result, especially the one of me in my parka which Mary was asking about.

On Boxing Day there was a dance but it was not very successful and petered out after about two hours.  There were about a dozen women there.

New Years Day was the big day of the year for the Indians and they all went to town.  They went past our camp in a bunch and we counted 56 dogs in harness.  It was quite an imposing sight which I missed with my camera.

That evening Eric and I had a turkey supper in the restaurant.  It was the best meal in this country yet, although clearly rivalled by some fried eggs and toast I had on Christmas at Pete Racine’s hotel before I came home to bed.

My skiis and ski-poles arrived on the same plane shortly after Christmas.  I tried them out yesterday and was disappointed.  The snow is so light you sink nearly a foot with every step and as a result you are continually scraping rocks.  Also, although I was out hardly an hour, my feet were almost frozen when I got home.

You asked if there were any dogs up here as opposed to huskies.  The doctor and his wife have two red cockers like Amy & Bills and there is also a short-haired terrier of diminutive proportions.  I don’t think this latter one enjoys the winter much but the others love it.

As to the plane going thru the ice—this happened at Goldfields and is not necessarily a serious disaster as the plane is going fairly slowly when it is heavy enough to go thru.  There is no chance of this happening now as the tractors are hauling wood over the ice every day.

All good wishes for the New Year

With love from


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