Tuesday, 12 March 2013


Continued: This is the second part of Tom Jeffery's plane trip in 1974  to the northern communities

"At this time, I would like to explain that there are two different ways of entering or leaving the plane when at dock, or sitting on the floats in the water. The main entrance is through a door and down a ladder to the pontoon on the left-hand side of the plane. The other exit or entrance is through a door directly over the cockpit. This door could be raised in a moment by the pilot and we had occasion to use it several times during the trip, when we could not get the door side of the plane near the dock, and had to depart by jumping off the wing. The door on the side of the plane presented several interesting moments several times, which I will explain later.

"Bill had his teeth out again when we got in the canoe to go to the plane, maybe he thought he would get seasick, however, he had them in proper place again, and his health seemed good.

" After a short flight of twenty-eight minutes, we landed at Lansdowne House at eleven twenty-eight A.M. It was raining lightly at this time, but we had quite a number of Indians down at the dock to meet us. Due to school being in session, there were no children among the twenty-five or thirty people.

"His Lordship" and Dennis made no further reference to the crowds of people who would be there to meet us.

"It was raining too much for us to go very far, but I took a walk around and took a number of pictures. It was quite spread out and the Ontario Government maintains a weather reporting station there. I noticed a hospital and nurses' residence, but the school and the Hudson's Bay Post must have been some distance from the dock. (I understand that Fort Hope and Lansdowne House are two of the older Hudson's Bay posts.)

"At this time, I also found out, (to my surprise), that the Band Chief was a young Indian of about nineteen years of age, and he seemed to be the main contact for everything that was about to be done or enquired about. He had an office set up in  a building beside the dock and seemed to have a staff of two other people, one of which took and dispatched all messages on the radio phone connected to our main Bell Canada system. This system seemed to work very well, as I later heard Mr. Weiben talk to his wife at Pays Platt, and Bill also phoned his wife in Nipigon from Superior Airways Office at Big Trout Lake.

"Referring back to the rather young Band Chief, I found out later that seemed to be the case in many places, and formed the opinion that these younger men had been out and obtained education and experience; and I presume, found out how to get more money for the Band in his own area.

" Due to the high level of water, I noticed many gas and oil drums floating in the water along the shore. It must have cost a lot of money to get those drums in there by air freight and I was sure most of them would float away, as there seemed to be no attempt to recover them or pile them up on shore. I wonder how many may have also been full of gas or oil.

" While walking back to the dock area, I met a girl who I presumed to be one of the schoolteachers. This proved to be true, her name was Janice Maloney and her home was in Amherstburg, Ontario. She had been teaching there since January. There were a total of four teachers and one teacher's aid, and they had from kindergarten to grade eight.

" During this trip, I contacted the teachers in every place we stopped, as I found they were a really good source of information. They were hired by the Department of Indian Affairs and in some cases, it was a husband and wife teaching team. Most of them had only signed teaching contracts for one year but all seemed most happy in their work and in one instance, one of the girls had been there for three terms. I enquired if pay was the incentive for a teaching job in so remote an area, but was told that the pay was not that much more, although they did get isolation pay. They seemed to like the idea of teaching the Indian children and said one of the main things they liked was that discipline was no problem at all. They had the most modern living quarters, oil heating and electricity. I could not help but compare the busy street of Toronto and Oakville, where some of these teachers were from, to the quiet solitude of this "Indian Country".

"On arriving back at the Band Office, I found that Mr. Weiben was "laying down the law" to one of the Indian chaps. In other words, he was giving him a blast for not looking after an office of Superior Airways which he was being paid to take care of. Mr. Weiben told me later that the place was a mess, windows broken, dirty, and in a shambles. He requested the Band Chief to try and smarten them up or he would not pay the one thousand dollars he had promised to give this chap for care taking. No one seemed at all concerned over the whole issue except Mr. Weiben.

"Due to the rain, I did not see as much of Lansdowne House as I would have liked to have, so Bill having finished his work there, we boarded the plane and were in the air again at twelve noon and heading north to Webeque. We arrived there at twelve-thirty P.M.

to be continued

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