Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bio #44 - Our Trip to Western Canada

The next morning when we got up, we were a long way along the St. Lawrence River. There was still a lot of snow down east. The second day (not sure this is correct; likely the third day) we got to Winnipeg, where my Aunt Edie and my cousins and their kids met us. As we had a seven hour wait in the city, we were able to have a good bath and clean up. It was a welcome break and we really did enjoy seeing my relatives.
A CPR passenger train from about 1953; likely taken in Toronto
Later that night, we got on the train again. Bob was sick again on this leg of the trip and a kind doctor who was also travelling west examined him. He said he was suffering from bronchitis and travel fatigue, and wouldn't be better until he had settled down for about ten days. Bob wouldn't eat, or go to the toilet, when the train was moving. The trip was a nightmare as far as Bob went, but Linda had a great time with a little girl her age called Jane. She was on her way to Edmonton with her family. She was nice. (I remember marching up and down the train corridor with Jane, she and I singing at the top of our lungs, "We're Canadian girls!" to the amusement of the other passengers. It was all the funnier because of our strong Yorkshire accents. I recall feeling quite superior to Jane because I could dress myself, and she couldn't.)

We finally got to Medicine Hat, where the kids and I got off, and stayed with a friend of mine for a week. Ron went on to Calgary to look for a job and a house, and he stayed with my brother Ed and his wife Margret and son Charles. Charles is five weeks younger than Bob. It took Ron a week to find a job and a house.
Downtown Medicine Hat in the 1950s
After an absence of nine years, Medicine Hat was not the same. Time changes everybody and most things. Dorothy Crane, my friend, lived in the same place, but there were no vacant lots where we used to take short-cuts from our house. Now we had to go the long way round. The city had spread out in all directions, and for a day or two I didn't feel at home. Dorothy and her two boys (in high school now) and we had a really good visit. But Bob and Linda were both sick, so we had to stay three days longer so they could travel. Ice cream upset them, too rich I guess; Linda had tonsillitis too. So after ten days we got on the train for our final destination, Calgary.

As it was 10:30 at night when we reached Calgary, both children were asleep. Mr. Scarlet, a trainman and old family friend, was on the train and said he would help me off with the little ones. We visited all the way up and it was so nice to talk to him. Ed and Ron and Della Miller were at the station to meet us, and it was such a relief to get off the train. Linda woke but not Bob, and I held him while Ron and Ed put our luggage in Ed's car. Then after goodbyes to Della and Mr. Scarlet, we drove to Ed's house, where we lived for two weeks.

 I remember little of our time in Medicine Hat, other than the smell of an old wooden house, so different from the old stone houses in England. The arrival in Calgary, though, I remember my uncle's Pontiac, to me a huge car with an exterior visor (later I learned it was quite a new car, a '52) and wide seats. It is the first car ride I remembered. Level crossings, common in Canada, are unheard of in England, so seeing a car cross the railroad tracks was a novelty too. No doubt my mother was exhausted from the grueling trip with one or two sick children.