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Wartime Fun and Family

Flora Nicholson

The War Time Nicholson Letters begin in 1916 with a letter from Herbert Nicholson, Margaret and Norman's prodigal son, who left for the West of Canada in 1910 under a disgrace. It's explained in School Marms and Suffragettes.

I have no 1915  letters for him on hand (as revealed on a previous blog posting) but I think there was one, it got lost. I remember because it had a 'special' observation on it. Herb is in Saskatchewan and writes "Sometimes I feel sorry for the Indians and wonder if we should have taken away their land."

I probably don't have the letter anymore because I sent it aside. In 1916, Herbert is in Florida on some work speculation. The Florida aboriginals had their land taken away too, but he doesn't seem to mind.

The only small indication in these three letters that there is a War going on in Europe is Marion mentioning making a baby outfit from left over material. Canada got lots of its textiles from Britain.  But Marion was by nature a sewer so this isn't THAT unusual.

Flora mentions the movies, so that is around the time the term came into being. In a 1917 letter Edith writes 'the movies' like this, in quotations, so it's still a special term. In 1910, the Essanay Company held a contest to see if a new word for 'motion picture show' could be invented. Well, the term 'movies' I imagine developed organically from the term moving picture.

The Google ngram for 'movie' begins exactly in 1910 (believe me, I clipped it.) Motion Picture stars a little before that around 1900 and get this Moving Picture starts in 1800 but lays low until 1890 and then peaks in 1940.

Southport Florida, Jan 4 1916

Dear Flora,

Must thank you for the fine Christmas present that I received from you. They are simply lovely and I can't tell you how much I appreciate them. I hope and feel that you had a very merry time at Christmas. I am positive that I would have if I could have been at home with  you all. We are having pleasant weather down here. Today is a shade too warm. Suppose it is far from that in Montreal. I would rather be in Montreal, cold as it may be, than here. Will try and be there as soon as I can.

You must find it pleasant staying with Marion. Tell her that I am going to write to her very soon.

Well, Flora, as I cannot give you any news, interesting or not, so I will have to close for the time.

Flora, you know I am a boon letter writer, but just the same when you get time write me a letter and tell me all the news about the others and any others that you like.

Give my love to Marion, Margaret and Hugh.

Your Loving Brother,


The Gallipoli Campaign was ending around this time. This battle is said to have awakened the national consciences of New Zealand and Australia, whose troops were central to the campaign. (Public Domain Photo from Wikipedia)

Montreal Quebec, January 5, 1916

Dear Edith,

Here I am stuck and what pleasure have I. I suppose you won't object to be 'writin' a bit' to you, so you see I am just answering your last letter.

So you start school tomorrow. I am sure you are looking forward to it. Saw B Manson today, said she had afternoon tea at our place yesterday. I don't wonder she couldn't come in Tuesday, suppose she was caught in the storm from Greenwood's Hill.

Will you kindly do me a favor. Thanks very much.  Look for that little tie Biddy gave me at Christmas, I don't have it with me.

These two days seemed like two weeks, but that is always the way after a holiday.

Half a dozen bottles of O'Keefe's malt arrived today, so beware of what you shall see in the Spring a la Billie Keenan.

Mrs. Blair is quite sick with a cold. Hugh has just gone over to see her.

It is pouring here, all our good snow gone, sorry to say.

"Trash" is coming down to play cards when Hugh gets back so we will have some fun. Mrs. Brown was here to clean up, so tell Mother not to worry. We are all right. The babe doesn't seem any the worse for the trip and I will try and 'rit' as often as I can.

Haven't been downtown or to the movies or seen any of my friends, so consequently, haven't any news.

Love to all,

Lovingly, Flora

This headline was on the Front Page of the January 5, 1916 Montreal Gazette

281 Old Orchard, January 25, 1916

Dear Mother

So you are discouraged at not hearing from 281. I leave it to Flora and seemingly she leaves it to me. But for this time you have this one.

Hugh was in Quebec the first part of the week and while he was away I was stoker as well as having to do all the other small jobs that are left to him.

Needless to say, all the clocks are down.

Flora said that were like Annie Hamish in Lingwick, who said one of her clocks said seven and the other eleven and she did not know what to believe.

The baby is a wild rascal.  Her favourite seat now the center of the dining room table. She gets up there when my back is turned and grabs the clock and puts it to her ear.

The house looks like the basement of the church when the chairs are piled away for I have to turn  one up on top of the other if I forget one you may be sure she is not long in seeing it.

Sunday afternoon we went over to the Blairs and in the evening to church and after brought Hope and Billy Snowdon with us, she had quite a few stories to tell and in her peculiar way and they were indeed funny.

Monday evening Trevor spent with us. Wednesday, Stanley came over in the afternoon, had tea with us and spent the evening.

You can tell Edith she better have a care, or her man will be lost as Flora has been to the M.A.A.A. with him, Saturday afternoon and then another Sunday to church.

Pauline is at the Cleveland's but I have not seen her yet. Flora was invited there to a tea on Monday but did not go.

I have made the baby two little dresses like the one you had at home, out of two pieces of gingham  I had left from a dress and they are fine.

Hugh is going away again Sunday Night and will this time go down through New York State and stops in Schenectady, so thought that perhaps he might see Cousin Norman if he has time.

I am going to try to get the baby's photo taken next week so that you can look for one sometime.

Now I think I will not write any more as I am feeling quite "nieau" with a cold and feel that I would like to lie in bed, with love to all