July 2, 1939

Yellowknife, N. W. T.

July 2nd, 1939

Dear Mother:

Today was a holiday for almost the whole camp as Con had its first Annual Picnic.  The site chosen was Frame Lake about two miles away, an ideal spot, had it not been for the ravages of the fires last year.  Near to the lake shore there is a sandy field suitable for races and softball etc which we had but being covered with ashes and twigs of charred wood everyone was black when the day was over, particularly those that had to slide for the home plate.  Those that went in swimming said the water was almost to [sic] warm so I think on the whole the day was very successful.

The fires this year have been extremely bad and it is only with a great deal of fire-fighting that the Ptarmigan camp was saved.  Once the show place of this locality it is now completely encircled with gaunt tree-skeletons.  At night if there is no wind a pall of smoke settles down so that you cannot see accross [sic] the bay nor as far as town from town [sic].  

Well the liquor store has opened at last tho’ not for us the first night.  It never occurred to us that the place would close early on the first night and we reached town at five to seven.  The store is about fifty feet back from the shore and we had covered half this distance only to see the door close almost in our faces.  What a blow!  Of course we made signals to friends inside to get us something but under the restrictive N. W. T. ordinance a man is only allowed to buy one bottle a day.  Also after having bought twelve he is required to renew his $2.00 license.  Prices are about $1.65 per bottle more than outside.

Last weekend four of us made an overnight trip in the sail-boat.  We set sail early Saturday afternoon heading dead in to a very strong south wind.  There was quite a heavy sea as well so that we made very slow forward progress as we tacked back and forth.  We followed the same route as the previous Sunday when we got in the shelter of the Islands and eventually arrived at the “Cabins”.  It is an Indian village but one dog was the soul [sic] inhabitant at the time.  We continued south until we had cleared the string of islands then east to the mainland for the night.  We chose a good place for the night, a sort of rocky niche sheltered on all sides.  It was a good place for a fire and didn’t smoke a tall [sic] but the slanting floor of rock was not very good for sleeping.  Nevertheless the others who had brought two heavy eiderdown robes between them rested there.  I had brought one flannelette sheet and was the only one who had brought a mosquito bar.  I found a very comfortable bed of moss around which I built a shelter of small logs about a foot high and I believe I would have slept well had it not been for the noise of the others fighting mosquitoes and collecting wood, the just-not-quite-warm-enoughness of my blanket and the strange environment.  We went to bed about one not having reached the mainland till twelve and I think I slept from 3 to six.  The others may have slept a bit but the next morning they all had a good sleep in the sun with the wind keeping the mosquitoes away while I went on a tour of inspection.

We headed south again about eleven but the wind was even harder than the day before and with the danger of unknown reefs amongst the Islands we decided the best policy was to return.  In the trip we hooked two fish, landed one, which we had for supper.  I measured the course on a map and in straight lines without correction for tacking it was twenty four miles so we must have gone around forty.

Howard Carruthers was married yesterday.  The accountant at the Ptarmigan mine, recently transferred from Goldfields, was the only one to go from here for the occasion.

With love from


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