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Antlered monarchs and flim-flam artists: letters from Nelson, 1905-06

Last year I bought three letters on eBay mailed in 1905-06 by Alexander Howard McIntyre from Nelson to his family in Middleville, Lanark County, Ont. I’ve transcribed and annotated them — they’re fun reading, and it was fun to figure out what happened to the man who wrote them.


As a preface, it helps to know that McIntyre was born in 1883 in Middleville, the youngest of five children of Alexander Robb (Allie) McIntyre and Mary Somerville. Mary died scarcely two months after Howard was born. Allie then married Jane (Jennie) Yuill and had two more sons, Arthur and Stanley. Allie ran a general store in Middleville. I don’t know when Howard left home or what brought him west, but it was after 1901. He was 22 or 23 when he wrote these letters.

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Envelope: Nelson postmark Dec. 16, 1905. Lanark, Ont. postmark Dec. 21, 1905

[In pencil: Howard – Dec 21st 1905]


Mrs. A.R. McIntyre

Middleville, Ont.

Lanark Co.


Nelson, BC Dec 16/05


Dear Mother, Father, Arthur, and Stanley –


I am in Nelson again, working at the Smelter. [1] The saw-mill I was working in closed down [2] so I had to rustle another job, much as I disliked to leave the “Golden Lardeau.” [3] I am having good health and packing three good squares a day. Mary Guthrie must have taken ill suddenly. [4]


The M. [Middleville] deer-hunters will have to get up their rep or the berg will be over-run with those antlered monarchs. I noticed Jack was with them this year. It would do him good to be away from the city for a while.


What kind of a flim-flam artist has Charlie Hollinger got to be, that he is now holding repentance sales in order to relieve his conscience. He makes some awful breaks, doesn’t he. [5]


I suppose there has been lots of frost and some skating down there. We have had a little frost but no skating here yet.


Mr. McColl is at Ymir about 18 miles from here, where Uncle Jimie’s Bella lives. [6]


I was surprised to note by Arthur’s letter that JFK had disposed of his drug bis. It must have been something pretty good the Wampole people whispered to him to induce him to do that. [7] I guess the change will knock mother out of perfume for 1906.


Would you send me Charlie’s address if you have heard from him since he went away.

I thought he had more sense than act as he did when at home.


I am sending two handkerchiefs under separate cover, one for Arthur and one for Stanley.


I enclose for mother and father a little of the real thing, knowing that you are in a better position to choose something you would enjoy for this festive season than I be. I send it in this form. Wishing you all a Merry Xmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.


Yours Aff.

A. Howard McIntyre

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  1. The Hall Mines smelter in Nelson’s Rosemont neighbourhood operated from 1896 to 1907.

  2. This could have been any number of sawmills, including operations at Trout Lake or Gerrard.

  3. The nickname Golden Lardeau was first used in the Revelstoke Herald of Jan. 29, 1898.

  4. Mary Guthrie belonged to a prominent Middleville family. She was born in 1865 and died on Oct. 24, 1905, although I’m not sure of the cause.

  5. Charles Hollinger was an auctioneer and drover (another word for teamster). I don’t know what he did that so incensed Howard.

  6. I’m not sure who Uncle Jimie is; I couldn’t find a family tree that listed Howard’s uncles and aunts.

  7. Probably not John F. Kennedy. Wampole was and is a health products company, founded in 1893 by Henry K. Wampole.

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Envelope: Nelson postmark Jan. 28, 1906. Lanark, Ont. postmark Feb. 3, 1906

[In pencil: Jan 29/06]


Mrs. A.R. McIntyre

Middleville, Ont.

Lanark Co.


Nelson BC Jan 29/06


Dear Mother –


I am still in this town and am having good health. We are having very mild weather here and I see where one man found a pansy in bloom in his garden last week. Is there any pansies blooming in M. [Middleville] just now.


You people may think I am working Sundays, but I have not worked a Sunday this year. I see father has a closing out sale on at present. I hope he makes it stick; as I should like to see you people retired, where there would not be so much worry or so many late suppers. [1]


I suppose Arthur still has a notion of studying law. He will make a lawyer too if he gets half a chance. [2]


Charlie was in Fargo, N.D. representing the I.G.S. The last I heard of him was through Will Marks, who used to batch with him in Phoenix, and roomed with him in Winnipeg last fall for some time. [3]


I expect to go down to the land of “Not hard and alkalie [sic] water” in the good old summer time if I have my health.


I wrote some time ago. Did you get the letters? Hoping you are all well.


Your Aff. Son

Howard

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  1. A.R. McIntyre & Co. was in business prior to 1882. That year Allie dissolved his partnership with William Cream and went solo. In 1892-93 Allie was also secretary of the Middleville cheese factory. Howard was listed as a salesman in his father’s store on the 1901 census.

  2. I don’t know if Arthur went to law school, but as of the 1921 census, he was a newspaper editor in Camrose, Alta.

  3. No idea what I.G.S. means. Wikipedia is no help with this one. The Phoenix referred to is presumably BC, not Arizona.

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Envelope: Nelson postmark April 30, 1906, Lanark, Ont. postmark May 5, 1906

[In pencil: Howard’s last from Nelson, BC]


Mr. A.R. McIntyre

Middleville, Ont.

Lanark Co.


Nelson, BC, Apr 30/06


Dear Father:–


Arthur and your letter of 16th and 20th to hand, also the elaborate 3-piece snap from Ottawa. It is hard to find space between the racks here to spread it out so I think I will fly [?] out to the open prairie.


Please have the “Era” address changed to Saskatoon. [1]


We are having excellent weather here.


I notice McD’s nine day sale racket. There was a couple of the merchants in this town tried this last winter. The first agents furnisher, who made a comparative success of it for the first three days but after the novelty of the thing wore off. People settled down to the even tenor of their way considering that their [sic] was more noise made over it than it warranted.


I leave to-morrow morning on the Crow Boat for Saskatoon. [2]


Howard

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  1. The Era was a British weekly newspaper published from 1838 to 1939. The Improvement Era, also known as The Era was a magazine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, published from 1897 to 1970. I’ll guess that Howard received the former. The McIntyres listed their religion as Congregationalist on the 1901 census.

  2. The Crow Boat was the nickname of the sternwheeler that sailed from Nelson to Kootenay Landing, connecting with the CPR’s line through the Crowsnest Pass.

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What happened to Howard and his family afterward? His father’s retirement was short-lived. Allie died in 1909, age 65. Howard is nowhere to be seen on the 1906 or 1911 census, but in 1912 he was listed in the Edmonton city directory as a salesman for F.J. White and living at YMCA.


On April 19, 1916, Howard married Margaret Lena Creighton in Regina. Later that year they appeared on the census in Edmonton, living with Howard’s stepmother Jennie. He was then working as a life insurance agent.


Howard and Margaret moved to Saskatchewan, where they had two children, Dorothy Jean, born about 1919, and Archibald Robb, born in 1921 in Scott — today known as the province’s smallest town by population (73 people on the 2016 census). The 1921 census found them working their own farm. Although I don’t know what happened, Margaret died on May 19, 1923 and was buried in Unity, Sask.


There is a long period where I don’t know what Howard was up to. His stepmother died in Edmonton in 1941, age 93. In 1946, he was living at 11150 85th Avenue in Edmonton and working for Prudential Insurance. Sometime before 1950, he married Eva Wade, a retired teacher and moved in to her home at 11045 83rd Street. According to someone who has studied the Cromdale neighbourhood, this home “was demolished in the mid-1960s to make way for a low-rise apartment building.”


I haven’t been able to determine what became of Howard’s daughter, but his son Archie became an aircraft mechanic and married Charlotte Anne McMillan. He was killed in a car accident in Richmond on Sept. 4, 1960, age 39.


Howard died in July 1967 in Edmonton, age 84, and was buried in Mount Pleasant Municipal Cemetery. I don’t know when his wife died, but an Eva McIntyre was buried in the same cemetery in March 1987.


Howard’s brother Arthur, to whom he addressed one of his letters, died in Edmonton in 1972, age 84. Arthur was predeceased by his wife and son but survived by a daughter. Stanley, the other brother named in the letters, died in Vancouver in 1981, age 92. He had been widowed nearly 50 years earlier and was predeceased by one daughter but survived by three other children. He was buried in Olds, Alta.

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