The category “Memories” on this blog has covered my early years in our logging camp at Port Renfrew, British Columbia, circa 1940.
That era was captured in a series of posts named “From The Logging Camps” that were drawn from a scrapbook my father constructed for me, in 2000. He called it “Forest Regeneration”. 1 Dad detailed our family life while sharing his work at Hemmingsen-Cameron Co. Ltd. It included descriptions and pictures of logging equipment, operations and forest management.
A new thread will now start. It will be on Newfoundland, to show what came next for my nuclear family.
Concurrently, “Memories” will reach back with help from a very much larger volume of Dad’s work. He did an excellent job as the first amateur genealogist in the family, teasing out both sides of our Hemmingsen/Alexander – Dickson/McArthur ancestry. 2 However, even with professional aid, grandfather Dickson’s early background seemed undiscoverable, at that time. It became subject of my “Double Genealogy: The Adoption Witness” published earlier this year. The intention at this website is not to duplicate Dad’s work or mine, but to supplement both.
By the next post. we will have moved from the temperate rainforest wilderness of Port Renfrew, on the southwest coast of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, to the colder, humid continental climate of Corner Brook, on the southwest coast of The Rock, aka Newfoundland. It is a very large island way out there in the North Atlantic. Both were humid situations, the difference being, that their significant heavenly emissions of H2O would now fall as snow.
CROSSING CANADA: WINTER 1947
So now, here is a picture of an unknown grown-up with my big brother John and myself, in Victoria.2 We had just disembarked from our final sail aboard the “Princess Maquinna” after passage through the “Graveyard of the Pacific”. That is, the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
We would soon depart Victoria via another ferry, to Vancouver, to catch the Canadian Pacific Railway on our grand trip across Canada.
Mum was on her own for this mega trip of about a week long, as Dad was already in Newfoundland. Parents probably planned the trip to provide maximum wow-age to entertain the kids. She was absent her magic wand that waved “Go outside to play”. Imagine how many hours could be used up, building anticipation for those amazing train tunnels that lay long in the distance. It had to be daylight when the train would snake through the mountain ranges of BC! Then, the hush through utter black, in whispered countdown of minutes that ticked through each tunnel, to emerge back to the light. One after the other, revealing ever changing snow laden giants. That tunnel was longer; this mountain is higher! Or, trestles over gorges, until the flats of the prairies could relieve.
The novelty of all things train began to wane by the time prairie was the horizon. Board games came out and the train had wonderful cars to accommodate. Then came telephone pole counting. First the number of “tees”, then double tees, and even sightings of poles with birds on them. Or naming of animals upon the plain. Quite the education. By then, I was a formidable PITA, exclaiming to anyone who would listen “I’m going to Newfoundland!”
Somewhere along the line we transferred to the Canadian National Railway. Maybe the transfer was in Regina, Saskatchewan. There must be some other reason for a Regina stop to be memorable over 70 years later, besides its breath robbing cold. Why ever would we be standing so long on that platform, other than to transfer luggage from one train to another? I’m sure the only reason my younger brother settled in Saskatoon, was because he was not standing on that platform. Don’t get me wrong. If ever one flies into Saskatoon when blue flax and yellow canola undulate in the breeze, they would forget that crust would soon overlay the South Saskatchewan River. Only those who love white breath on white environs can truly enjoy the luscious blue-purple Saskatoon Berry. The sky is so big in Saskatchewan that horizon clouds serve as mountains, as large as can be seen.
Towns and cities reappeared with the three provinces of the Northern Great Plain behind us, providing all sorts of new things to count. But Great Lakes were not as fascinating to little kids as tunnels and trestles and epic mountains. New voices in French were the next novelty. But there were more kid fights for the upper berth at night. Nothing was more soothing than the repetitious clack of the track when snuggled high in the car. Then we were back to the more rural, as we passed through the Maritimes. Things looked different again; new things to count. Mum had one thing going for her; I was civilized.
We alighted in Sydney, Nova Scotia, our last stop in the Dominion of Canada. There we boarded a ferry to Port-Aux-Basque in our sister Dominion; that of Newfoundland. More than a nine hour trip. While passage through the “Graveyard” is not memorable from this Cross-Canada transit, that from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland most definitely is. Poor Mum. It was a rather choppy go on the winter Atlantic for her Pacific kids. Truth is, even the seasoned turned green on that trip. We recouped quickly, for, there was our Dad.
We swapped Pacific for Atlantic, but a sea was still ours. Conifers too, and pleasing relief in topography, just, not as dramatic. Newfoundland has its own special brand of beauty, including its people, it did then, and we loved it. Please stay tuned for our life in Corner Brook, and my father’s endeavors, logging in Newfoundland.
Copyright and Notes & Sources
- From Marilee Wein scrapbook, authored by John Oliver Hemmingsen (1913-2008). All postings and pictures are © 2018 The Hemmingsen Family Collection. Posthumously published at this blog under its copyright, below. All rights reserved.
- The Hemmingsen Family Collection including “John O Hemmingsen/Mary Margaret (Dickson) Hemmingsen Family” authored in 1999 by John Oliver Hemmingsen. All materials posthumously published at this blog are protected by © copyright 2018 The Hemmingsen Family Collection. All rights reserved.