top of page

Survival in a Northern Wilderness: A Mother's Story--Part XXXV

Violet thought it sure was crowded in the two room cabin that was right above the tidal flats. There was a sawmill near them so the boys could get all the rough lumber and slabs they could use, Orrah and the boys built a lean-to off the side of the little house and was big enough to allow for a stove, three double beds and some furniture. There was a house near their little home, an elderly gentleman who was in a nursing home owned it, the four oldest boys got permission to use it as a bunkhouse. One night a storm came and ripped the tent down over Elnora, Violet, Tony and young Billy’s head so they moved into the lean-to with them.

Orrah, Wesley and Orrah Jr. got work in the nearby sawmill, Elnora got a job in the kitchen at the General Hospital in Prince Rupert but because they would not give her a shift so that she could catch the ferry back and forth everyday they promptly laid her off. The Superintendent of the hospital recommended her to the Miller Bay Tuberculosis Sanitarium which was nine miles up in the mountains from Prince Rupert she was paid $130 a month, her board and room was $30 a month.

Violets time for her ninth child to be born was approaching. Some of the children said “dad isn’t going to deliver this one”, as per Violet she couldn’t see where any of the her children had suffered any ill effects from being delivered by their father. She went into labor in the wee hours of the morning October 25th, 1956. Floyd ran for the nurse who also lived on the island and Violet later thought “it was the biggest mistake that they had ever made”. The nurse was not as efficient as the children’s father in delivering the baby because she could not remove the afterbirth, and complications started setting in after the baby girl was born. Orrah had Wesley and Floyd get a canoe out and he carried her down to the canoe, laid her on a mattress and the boys paddled the canoe across the bay to the wharf. Orrah and the boys picked up the canoe with Violet and baby in it and placed it across the deck of The Wee George, a boat the Wesley had bought upon their arrival on the coast. It was about four miles across the harbor to Prince Rupert. Orrah called an ambulance and they finally got her to the hospital, where, in Violet’s words, “the worst doctor that ever attended her”, finally got the afterbirth removed. Wesley and Elnora helped name her and they settled on Linda Marie. Orrah wanted to call her Tess as a nickname. The kids wouldn’t even think about it because they were still being called Toots and Tots and Frank was still being called Snooks by his dad, however the other children were beginning to call him Frank.

Violet didn’t have Linda home a month when Elnora came home from the Sanitarium with the measles and after about ten days Violet, new baby Linda, and all the other children came down with them. Orrah had the measles when he was a boy and Wesley some years before when he had finished up work at a logging camp. Violet thought that the kids had never been exposed to them before because they lived so remote, and because of this, some of the older children got very sick. As Elnora was recovering and was well enough to look after five of the boys, Violet became “desperately sick”, and Elnora took care of the new baby Linda until she recovered. Elnora went back to work at the Sanitarium, but she left a few months later to her old job in Fort Frances at the La Vandrey Hospital. Floyd left in April of 1957 and went to Chisholm, MN, where he married his fiancee and then moved on up to Namakan Lake on the Ontario side to guide.

Orrah and the boys, even little Billy at four and a-half, found out that there was no end to beach-combing, and they found a lot of things to add to the conglomeration of stuff they already had. One day Billy knocked on the door of their nearby neighbor Claus. He looked around and on the table saw Clause’s teeth and asked, "Where did you get them? The beach?"

Next up the kids start to come and go and it rained, really rained, all winter.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page