Labrador History - 6.2 FURLOUGH

Mary Taylor6.2 FURLOUGH
I was quite excited as I left Forteau at the start of my furlough, for I was to meet my sister Brenda, her husband and their little girl and drive across Canada with them. Bob, a soldier in the Canadian army overseas, was being transferred to Calgary and they were coming to Montreal by boat, bringing their vehicle with them. Bob and Brenda had married in England, but lived in Germany, where he was stationed, so I had not met him, nor my little niece Debbie, now nine months old.
Before they arrived I flew to Ottawa to spend a few days with friends, Pauline and Jerry and then we took off. We took turns driving and had a nice drive across Canada and, as Brenda had not met her in-laws, we stopped in Winnipeg for a couple of days with Bob’s family, before going on to Calgary.
Brenda and Bob rented a basement apartment in Calgary and I stayed with them until they were settled in, as Brenda was pregnant. It was Stampede time in Calgary, which turned out to be a bit of a thrill for me, for I had always loved horses and often attended horse shows in England. The native parade through town was spectacular too.
I bought a new car, a Ford Consul, before I left Calgary and drove it to Vancouver alone. It was quite a drive. Although I arrived at Radium Hot Springs in the early evening of the first day, I spent the night there because the snow was heavy in the mountains. I enjoyed a swim in the hotel’s hot pool, surrounded on all sides by snow covered trees - it was beautiful but cold - and followed this with a hot supper. The day concluded with a curl-up by a roaring fire until bedtime
Next day I got chains on my back wheels but not before skidding all over icy roads trying to get to a garage. A cowboy on horseback saw my predicament but only laughed! How I wished that I had one of our burley fishermen with me to give me a push! The roads were icy for the early part of the journey, but improved as snow changed to heavy rain as I drove further south. Then I got a flat tyre! Some kind people saw my dilemma and stopped to help me, thankfully. I could not get a replacement that day (the “flat” had been a blow-out) so stayed the night at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and got a new tyre in Spokane next morning.
The snow was heavy by late afternoon and I didn’t want to go through the mountains in the dark, so I stopped that night at a motel just east of the Snoqualmie Pass. Radio news reported that an escaped convict was at large in the area, taking an edge off any thrill I might have been experiencing, but I committed myself to the Lord and slept until morning. Nevertheless, I was glad to get on my way.
The snow had stopped by morning and I reached Seattle in time for lunch. Parking my car on a hill, I went shopping, had lunch and found a parking ticket on my windshield when I got back! I did a little better in Vancouver that night, when I went through a red light - no one was coming and no one saw me! Obviously I was quite tired by this time, but I had made it.
I spent the weekend with George’s aunt and uncle in Vancouver (his namesake actually) and caught up with news of the east, especially that George and Mona were engaged! So George had found the time to take the nurse around after all!
Christmas 1960 was a happy time, because our family was all together for the first time in many years. We met in Victoria, B.C. My sister Jean and her two children had moved to Victoria from Ontario and she was working as a ward clerk at the Veterans’ Hospital, having recently separated from her husband. Dad had returned from Australia, my brother Tom (still in the Navy) was there with his new bride and Brenda and Bob came from Calgary. We celebrated little Debbie’s first birthday on Christmas Eve, and Dad and I spent Christmas Day with Jean and her two children at their apartment. Bobby was six and Susan four, so they enjoyed being spoiled by their Grampa and Aunt Mary.

Aunt Mary, her niece and baby, and I (left).

Aunt Mary, her niece and baby, and I (left).

A major purpose of a furlough is to retrain, so I was glad of an opportunity to work at the Jubilee Hospital in Victoria for a couple for months. Dad and I rented an apartment near the hospital for that time. Brushing up my skills in Outpatients and Emergency Departments, I was happy to get updated and see how doctors in large Hospitals coped with some of the problems I encountered in Labrador. I also worked in the eye department, an area in which I felt the need for further training, and observed some surgery. These courses were always valuable and we made the most of them. (In later years I returned to England to do a three-month refresher course in midwifery.) While I was working at the Jubilee Hospital, a newspaper reporter interviewed me, because he had heard there was a nurse there, who was working on the Labrador coast.
I was friendly with one of the nurses at the Jubilee Hospital and visited her on my days off. She showed me a litter of newborn Lakeland terrier pups, just after Mona had written me that my little dog “Twinkle” had died, so I asked her to keep one for me and that was how I left Victoria with six week old “Mr. Chips”.
In March, I set off for Forteau with Mr. Chips and Dad decided to make the return trip with us.

The author and "Mr. Chips" 1963.

The author and "Mr. Chips" 1963.