Lilian in Quatsino to Mary Madden – 11th October 1929

January 25th, 2016


Quatsino, B.C.
11th October 1929

My dear Mary,

You mother wrote me such a nice letter I am writing her a line. It is wonderful she can write so clearly, blindness must be a great affliction, but may be less so when one is old and doubtless there are compensations even for that. My eyesight is going slowly. I cannot see to read by lamp light except large print. Do you know of any good occulist in Victoria who could send me a test by mail and let me try glasses. It is evidently my near sight or focus that is going.

Yes I know all you’ve told me already. I know it is for Patricia a happy release and freedom, tho she herself did not want to die. She was full of hope and youth. It was I who worried all the time for her. She would never take any care of herself, in spite of my entreaties. Wet feet, wet clothes all day long and she was always having pains and aches as a result. I hated the long hours of work for her, tho she never kicked, and would often make me go rest while she finished up. Not strong physically but she had wonderful willpower. Only two days before she got ill I said to her “I wish we were both dead. This life is not worth living.” Patricia thoughtfully said “Oh don’t worry Mum, better days are coming.” Then she was taken and I was left and my sorrow is a purely selfish one.

My money went in California, as you know, and we are on Mr B’s twenty dollars a month and what we can make, hence the struggle to make enough for the necessities of life, and it is a hard one. Patricia and I longing to get off to the woods, and Patricia with her growing interest in photography, nature studies and other interests had to grind away at work, work, all the time. Often Patricia and I were at it night and day, picking berries all day, taking the launch in the evening to catch the mail boat, sleeping in the boat and back here at dawn for another day’s work. Patricia loved these boat trips but the life was an eternal grind, and at that we lost more than half the crop with rain and had to meet, for the first time, competition from the Vancouver market owing to the new fast mail boat which brought stuff in fresh enough to Port Alice, so that the people there bought fruit at town slump prices.

Patricia and I wanted to fur farm, starting as a sideline, but Mr B is always against it. We had our license and and trap line registered this year and I was getting pretty good at catching coon. Patricia caught two and was getting better at it. Mr B has been thinking of getting a knitting machine to make money thru the winter, but at present we cannot raise the money and still have bills to pay.

I would like to sell some of my old silver, and there you might possibly help me, if you know any people who are well off and would like to try things for themselves or Xmas presents, or if you could see Colonel Spencer of  David Spencer’s  or the manager of /// Bay, get them to make a cash offer for the stuff and I can send it to you for them to see. I hate sending it direct to them as they are so careless. If you care to undertake it I will send you a list with the valuation price made in England. The prices out here should be almost three or four times more.

With regard to Jackie’s schooling, I most certainly would not send him to a school for nice English boys. God save us from such an ignorant bunch of fools, unable to use their heads or bodies. We have had two fine specimens from the best public schools. No thanks. But you might if you like put by some money for him so that, when he gets to the right age, it might help him get a technical education in whatever line his talent may lie. So far he says “Engineer with Big Boats !”

My dear Mary, don’t forget all you learned here. All the men who have been of real value to the world have been poor men, self educated. Jackie will get the best schooling for life right here for a starter, to use his mind and body, to learn to read, write and figure. Mr B told him that someone wanted to send him to school and you should have seen Jackie’s face of horror. He flew into a perfect rage. “You would not dare.” If you want to use a horrible threat on Jackie, ‘school’ is the word. It would be hell for the poor little man and would do him far more harm than good.

I could not possibly afford a trip to Victoria, even if I wanted to, and I can see no reason why you ask me to meet you in the street ? I am not scared to meet any of your family and if they are stupid enough to be rude to me, I would soon put them where they belong. I have nothing to be ashamed of, neither have you, and whatever they choose to scare you with, when it comes to a showdown they can do nothing to us or to you. They can only make fools of themselves – and that is the truth Mary, believe me.

I do not understand your remarks about God having made you perfect in yourself. God has not made anything perfect. If he had there would be no progress or evolution. You may say the world and humanity through the ages are progressing slowly towards higher forms – man “in his image” the highest form – but as yet a caricature of that image at best. You have only to look around you at the city types to see every form of bird and beast in the face of men. How often do you see anything godlike or goodly ! No, the world today is a world lacking in humanity, a world of greed and grab and hypocrisy, with great talk of peace, and great preparation for the next war – secretly. That’s all. And it is to be hoped that the next debacle will kill off a large proportion of the beasts and put an end to the horrors of war forever. Then, only in despair, will the world turn to its true leaders and best men to save them.


Well I must end now. That handkerchief I will look for, but doubt its existence. Nordstrum’s place is near /// in the bay before you get to the wharf.



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