July 13, 1916


Dear Mother and Father

Well I am writing from a very unsteady Pullman on the Intercolonial about 125 miles east of Montreal on a very rough road. We have been travelling all night very slowly. There are about six [troop] trains all going east. We will likely be about 6 hours [aboard] train. We had breakfast this morning. Likely sailing Saturday. It’s getting a little tiresome as we had a [land] day yesterday. We struck all the tents and cleaned up all the [lines]. It was terribly hot.

Margaret, - I got those snaps all right and they were certainly nicely done. You will have quite a crowd this next week when all come down. I sent $13.00 by Mr. Armstrong. We are going through a monotonous country now. All flat and the farm houses are all white [monstrous] churches and ramshackle houses.

Well will telegraph when sailing and will write soon.

Your Loving Son,

Vincent

So, as you might be able to tell with all the red words above, I had a little trouble getting some of the words right for this one. Below is a copy of the letter so you can take a look yourselves. I will be scanning them in at some point but since I do not have a scanner with me this picture should give you a pretty good idea of what I am dealing with.



As he says in the letter, he is in a train and it is a bumpy ride. Now, the first thing that threw me off a bit at the start of the letter is the terminology that he uses. A "Pullman" and the "Intercolonial". Apparently these threw me off because I did not know enough about trains. After some digging I found out that a Pullman was a brand name for a train car that was used exclusively on the Intercolonial, a railway that spread from Quebec and into the Maritimes to connect them to the rest of Canada. It lasted under that name from 1872 - 1918 when it became part of the Canadian National Railway. I had found that Pullman had received the rights to the Intercolonial Railway to provide all of the cars for the trains that ran it. Below is one of the only decent maps that I could find of the railway and the Sessional Papers from Parliament talking about the Pullman company being the sole outfitter for the Intercolonial.


http://www.trainweb.org/oldtimetrains/CNR/icr/history_2.htm


From the Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada 1885

So, after a little history on trains, let's get back to the letter. He had said that he was 125 miles east of Montreal, which going with what I know about the train route, and with the help of Google, I believe might be just past Quebec City. Obviously they are heading out to the East Coast to make the journey over to England. I find this letter interesting as you don't see many updates from soldiers of this time on the trek across Canada before filling up the boats to head to war.

The rest of the letter includes Vincent discussing some laborious activities the day before and the scenery that he is passing along the way. This is the first letter that he addresses a part to Margaret, which is the woman that he will eventually marry and become my Great-Grandmother *So after some more research, I have come to find out that he is talking to his sister Margaret, not his wife to be Margaret*. He discusses her sending him something, either snacks or socks, and how she will be hosting people in the coming weeks. As we saw in the first letter, there is nothing overly exciting or out of the normal written, yet I still find it fascinating to read the things important to him while on his way to be shipped half way across the world!

As you might be able to tell from all of the words in [], I had some trouble distinguishing what he wrote on several occasions, so if you are reading this feel free to let me know what you think! The first couple I didn't really know so I put something that made some sort of sense that seemed to have most of the letters (troop, more by, something). Some at the end such as sailing, I was just guessing.

Well I hope you enjoyed this letter and the dissection of it, and I hope you can help me narrow down some of the words I struggled to get! Let me know if there is anything that I am missing or suggestions about the blog. I will try to do one letter once a week until they are all finished!

Thanks again for reading!

Michael Ritchie

#intercolonialrailway #pullman #WWI #montreal #CanadianMilitary #canada

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