We are very pleased to bring you the first in a series of letters from historical Edmontonians represented at Fort Edmonton Park! We hope you will forgive us for being a few days late.
Lovisa Jane McDougall was born in Cannington, Ontario in 1854. She married John A. McDougall in 1878 and shortly thereafter moved out west where “Johnnie” worked as a trader and businessman. Although this letter comes from Winnipeg, the couple were shortly to move to Edmonton where prospects, it was said, were good. You can visit the couple’s general store on 1885 Street.
The original letter, with its odd spelling and criss-cross sentences to save paper, can be found at the Provincial Archives, reference 71.365/3. Lovisa’s many letters from Edmonton were published by the archives as Occasional Paper No. 1 “Letters of Lovisa McDougall 1878-1887” edited by Elizabeth M. McCrum to whom we are indebted.
Winnipeg Man. Jan 28th 1879
My dear Brother Your very welcome letter was duly received last week and I was so glad to get it. I would have written before but I thought I would get that pictures taken to send you, but Johnnie has been buisy [all sic] bookkeeping for some parties in town and would not go but I will send it to you next time I write without fail. ¦I would give anything to see some of my old chums sometimes, I often get so homesick. We have lots of company, nearly all young fellows. We have some good music sometimes. The other night a friend of Johnnies brought a good singer up. His name was Mr. Vick, he is a good singer, but that is about all he does. I know his collar was up to the top of his ears & when he made a bow his nose near touched the floor. We had lots of fun that night. A night or two after that Mr. Mathe & Charlie Andrews was here. Mr. Mathe is a good singer, he sang some French songs. He is French. I often wish you was here, so does Johnnie. We have pretty good times, we never play cards, nothing but chequers. We have not had a card in our house yet. It would be just splendid if we lived nearer home. I have a new jacket, I only wish you could see it. It is the nicest one in Winnipeg. Everyone says they never saw such a beautifull coat. It cost Johnnie about $60.00 to get it up altogether & it is worth $150.00. Wont it be nice to take home? It is lined with brown satin. ¦It is annoying but I would not care about us going back to Edmonton. I cannot say for sure yet wheather we will or not, but I would much rather go out their to live. I like the country better, the only thing is it is so far but as far as going home is conserned, I will get home as soon & sooner than I would if we lived here. Johnnie can make far more out their & we can live cheaper. Next summer the steamboats will run direct from here to Edmondton & will take only a week or ten days to get up, so 2 weeks after leaving Cannington you could be in Edmonton. I want you to come & see me as soon as we are settled. I was just thinking today how nice it is travelling out on the Prairie riding along in the fresh air with nothing to bother you. You cannot imagine what a different feeling one has. Everything around seems to be your own. I just love camping out as we was last summer, & there is no one I ever met that ever tried it but likes it to. Every body is so friendly, meet an Indian he comes up & shakes hands & is glad to see you. I hope you will have a trip out west yet. It is not a bit like people emagine. I was in Andrew Smiths stoar Saturday he says Mrs. Smith writes from C______ & says half of Cannington is coming out in the spring. ¦The weather here is lovely since New Years, their has not been any very cold weather. I do not see any different in our winter and the winters here.
Johnnie is writing a letter. Their has been no one in this evening. I laughed so the other night, Charlie Andrews come up & brought his sewing. He is a comical little fellow, just keeps you laughing all the time, but a very nice fellow. He brought me a pan of prairie chickens & a can of oysters Friday. I thought it is so kind. Every person treats us well. Well, I think I have told you call I can think of now. I wish you would write every week & I would write anything. I don’t care wheather you have any news or not. If you only knew how I love to get letters from home.
Johnnie will write to you before long. I was so glad of that little bit of cake, I have some of it yet. I think anything Ma makes nicer than any person else does. Now good by, write immediately & ever believe your
Loving sister Lovisa
I intend to write to Ma tomorrow night. Johnnie send his love to you all.