September 3, 1937

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

Yellowknife, N. W. T.

via Goldfields, Sask.

Sept 3rd ‘37

Dear Mother:

I don’t think it will be long before winter sets in judging by how cold it is now.  It is cold enough in the office to see your breath all day and only warms up slightly at night with the aid of the gas lanterns.  I am wearing the heaviest underwear I can get and as many clothes as I can put on and I am still freezing.  There is a bet on with the construction engineer that the heat won’t be on by Sunday so I hope he wins.  Men were busy all day installing about eleven radiators around the staff house.  There is a huge boiler something on the style of a locomotive’s which has already been placed in the power house, not without some difficulty.  The lights should be on in a week or so also.  There are wires strung in all directions ready for the power.  We even have a telephone now between here and the mine.  The phone is just beside my desk so I have used it most so far.  Yesterday a plane load consisting of chiefly radio equipment arrived to the supreme joy of the radio operator.  There was an eleven tube very professional-looking receiver and a 250 watt transmitter and several miscellaneous parts such as the ‘mike’ etc.  We will be able to communicate direct with Trail when the transmitter is put into operation.

The draughtsman had a narrow escape the other day when a railing on one of the bunkhouses gave way.  He fell about thirty feet landing on his back on solid rock.  No bones were broken and he was on the job again the next morning.  He didn’t look very well and a few days later he was sent down to goldfields to see a doctor but he is now back again.

Not long ago one of our pilots was forced down by a storm.  Our radio operator could him calling [sic] but the pilot gave no details and could not receive anything himself.  However it was not serious at all as he was but a few miles from Goldfields and got there as soon as the storm cleared.

Sept 4th

Two letters and the Courier arrived tonight.  I was having difficulty in thinking of what to write about but your letters have given me some suggestions.  

I will send the negatives of my pictures down some time.  I think you will be surprised when you see how minute they are.  You will find a few pictures that are not included in the ones I sent.

I don’t know what the accommodation is like at Giant now.  There were log cabins and tents there when I was down but since then a lot of lumber has been shipped in, and they plan to build a bunkhouse sometime.  There will be no central heating or electric light through this winter.

As to the cost of things up here, cigarettes are the same as elsewhere, razor blades cheaper and clothes about the same.  The stuff is all bought wholesale and sold to make 10% I think.  I bought some ski slacks and flannels on Wednesday at $4.00 for each pair.  However I would like my winter underwear sent up (I am under the impression that I have two fairly good pairs) and my ski slacks and also some long stockings which should be around somewhere.  The best way is to ship by rail addressed as follows


“Con” Property, Yellowknife

c/o Ernie Demers,

Ft. McMurray, Alta.

Ernie is our agent in McMurray and should see that the parcel is put on a company plane.  It would be a good opportunity to send some “Lifes” if you will.

Dad asks for a normal days work.  In thinking it over I don’t seem to know what a normal day’s work is as we are always trying to get caught up.  I usually get up at seven o’clock now just in time to catch the last sitting at breakfast.  This cuts both ways as toast and coffee have past [sic] their prime by the time I get there.

Work starts just before eight in a refrigerator-like office.  Usually I start with yesterday’s time reports figuring how much each man gets and what his work is charged to.  All this information is collected on a distribution sheet and the time for each man is posted in the time book.  All this takes from two to three hours depending on whether it wants to balance or not.  Usually it doesn’t seem to be very keen on the idea.  Lately when this has been down [sic] I have been typing receipted invoices on to warehouse receipt sheets.  This was a very long job as each item is posted on the sheets seperately [sic].  The sheets show the unit cost of each article.  For instance a sack of potatoes coming by air freight costs up to $17.00.  The same sack in Edmonton costs $1.55 or so.  The job took several days as I had to cover every invoice since the first boat arrived.  When it was completed I started to type the information from the sheets to stock cards, a separate card for each item.  These cards then show how many units of any particular item has come in and and [sic] when any units are requisitioned this is also shown so that we always know how much is on hand.  A new boy for the office has just come in from Edmonton and he is now doing this job.  When it is finished there is a huge stack of requisitions to be entered on the stock cards, so we won’t be caught up for some time yet.  For the last few days I have been making up the payroll.  I hope I don’t have to do it by myself again as it is a rotten job.  When it is finished time statements are made up from it for each man.  I hope to be finished this tomorrow.  Then I will have to spend a few days on nothing but my daily time sheets which have not been touched for three days.  I have rather got off the track of a day’s work but it makes little difference.  We take about half an hour off for meals and then get back to the office again.  Of course there are variations.  I usually go up to the mine about twice a week after supper to see how it is coming along and perhaps to have a shower.  One usually goes down to meet the planes and see what has come in and grab the mail bag etc.  Not so many men are coming in now and in any case the job of signing them on has been practically turned over to the new lad.  Now he knows why I cursed every time I saw a new man climbing out of a plane.  However I don’t really work quite as hard as the foregoing might lead you to expect.  I take time out to see how construction is proceeding around the camp at any time or visit the radio operator etc.  Our radio operator some times [sic] get [sic] ambitious and types news as it comes in by code.  He gets behind occasionally but you can piece it together fairly accurately.  The most popular newspaper that comes in is the Nelson News, helped out with a few Edmonton Bulletins, so we have most of the news of the outside world.

The boats that bring all the freight here are either H. B. C. boats or Northern Transportation Co. boats.  They come from somewhere close to McMurray.  Everything has to be portaged at some place en route but I am not sure where.  One of the boats goes all the way up to the Arctic and can only make three trips a year.

For Archie’s information I saved the dollar stamp.

With love


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