c/o C. M. & S. Co Ltd.
July 19th /37
I really don’t know where to start this letter so I guess I will start back in Edmonton. I didn’t leave when I said I would due to heavy rains in Edmonton. Actually I did not leave till Friday afternoon and was really fed up with waiting as the weather reports came in about every four hours and I had to keep myself more or less ready to go. There were 4 passengers in the plane and lots of baggage. So there was no seating accommodation—you sat on what you could find. Arrived at McMurray where I stayed the night. Flying is interesting though unexciting—the only exciting moment on this trip being when the engine suddenly stopped for some 5 long seconds.
We left McMurray on Saturday afternoon in a C. M. & S. Fairchild. Just before I got on the plane I found to my surprise I was going to Yellowknife not Goldfields as the letter said. (I won’t tell you where it is yet.) This time there were only two passengers but there was so much baggage we couldn’t see the pilot. The load was almost too heavy for the plane and we taxied so far along the river I thought it would never rise. Several times the pilot tried to lift the plane and it fell back onto the water. Soon after leaving McMurray we came to an enormous fire. We tried to fly around yet [sic] but eventually found ourselves in the thick of it. We could see the flames and even smell the smoke and we lost quite a bit of altitude probably due to the thin hot air.
We stopped for supper and gas at Ft. Smith (wherever that is). We eat [sic] on a sternwheeler something like the S. S. Okanagan. It was the best meal I’ve had since I left home.
All the country we flew over was almost as flat as a pancake and very bleak. Now it was very rocky with little vegetation and just a mass of small lakes. I don’t think you could walk 100 yds. In any direction without stepping into a lake. Around 9:30 my companion nudged me to look out his way. To my surprise I saw what looked to be an ocean. He yelled that it was Grt. Slave Lake and that is where I am. It was the first time I realised where I was going. I noticed the sun setting at 10:00 and we got to Yellowknife about 11:00
(Evidently my letters go thru Goldfields though I didn’t so use the address I’ve given).
As to the camp itself—it was started last summer in a half-hearted way. At present I am sleeping with 6 others in last year’s cookhouse. It is a big double tent with shiplap sides and flooring. The whole camp is being rebuilt about ¼ mile away and we have to walk that far for our meals (which is hardly worth it, as they are rotten). The new bunkhouse is in the course of construction. It is a 2-storey affair with rooms to hold two men in each. At present there are some sixty men here. The office is only just getting under way and just today over 700 lbs. of stationery and office supplies arrived so we will be very busy for awhile [sic]. And we might as well be—there is nothing else to do. Sundays are just the same as any other day and hours mean nothing; we worked till 9:30 last night. There are four of us in the office now—one arriving the same day I did. My chief work is looking after the daily time reports of the workmen turned in by various foremen but most of my time is spent helping the assistant accountant so as to learn the system they use. I think they are training me for a camp called Giant which is two miles away. At present there are only three down there—one of whom is Doug Wilmot—but they are going to start a larger camp there some time.
I really don’t know whether I like it here or not. It will be alright for a while but I think that if I stay with C. M. & S. it means staying in places such as this for an indefinite number of years. If it does it is not worth it—one misses too much. However I am here till next spring anyway, I guess, before I get a chance to come out. I am beginning to wish I had found the time to interview Rutherford now. As far as I know my $85 a month is clear profit. There aren’t even any cigs. to be bought yet.
Remind Archie to send up the photographs.
With love from