January 9th 2014

A 94 Year Old Letter Found in Old Trunk in Rural Australia Makes its Way Back to Vulcan

A 94 Year Old Letter Found in Old Trunk in Rural Australia Makes its Way Back to Vulcan

Letter offers interesting insight into the politics of the day, including strikes, war, the USA, and drought.

VULCAN – In what will surely be an interesting read to history buffs, an old letter has been returned to Vulcan, Alberta after having been discovered in an old trunk filled with rubbish in South Australia. Tim Lacey, of Balaklava, South Australia, purchased a traveller’s trunk several years ago. It was not until just recently that Tim decided to peruse the trunk and found the old letter. Since Tim found that the letter originated from Vulcan, he decided to conduct a Google search and discovered the Vulcan Business Development Society. Tim kindly mailed the letter back to Vulcan, care of the VBDS. As it happens, the VBDS is in the midst of leading a Municipal Heritage Planning and Protection project to come up with a designation process for local governments to protect and preserve the heritage resources of their community. Although the MHPP is geared toward protecting buildings and places, the letter, which arrived January 6th, could not have come at a more appropriate time.

The letter itself is in remarkably good shape, and is a fascinating reflection of the era. It’s also a testament to how some things simply have not changed. The writer mentions that America claims “how they won the war”, “thinking they rule the world,” and that Australia “should feel thankful” they have not got them as neighbours.

Stories of “welcoming all the boys home” from the war are poignant, considering this is the period just following the Treaty of Versailles that ended the Great War. In the letter, one brother is reported to have been killed, while another was sent to Siberia. With the Bolshevik Revolution having just occurred in 1917, the topic of Russia and being sent to Siberia would have been relevant to the day.

The writer also mentioned how things have become “upside down with strikes”, most likely referring to the most influential strike in Canadian history, the Winnipeg General Strike of June 1919.

Other items are mentioned, including how dry the seasons had become, a visit by the Prince of Wales, going on a long ride by auto and getting stuck in the dark when the lights went out, and curling and hockey.

An effort is now being made to return the letter to the author’s descendants, who have been contacted.

For those interested in the letter, a PDF scan of it is attached below. A transcript of the letter, exactly copied with punctuation as written, is attached as well.

Copy of transcript, copied verbatim, including with punctuation.

“My dear Miss Scholz,

By the time this reaches you I guess Xmas won’t be far away, + I wish you all the good things of the season. 
Since writing last I guess you have Mr. [or Ms.] Norman [or Norma] Scholz with you, + I can imagine what great times you had welcoming all the boys home. 
Geoff has his four brothers home now (one was killed, + one sent to Siberia for a year. It does not seem as though things will ever be the same again, since this war, everything here is upside down with strikes, + the United States is in a dreadful state, serves them right though they are always saying “How they won the war,” running down other “Nations”, + thinking they rule the world, you should feel thankful you have not got them as neighbours. We have had a very dry year (the 3rd) again, it’s making things bad, + an early winter has set in since Oct 15 we have had 2 ft of snow on the ground with zero weather cattle are dying for want of feed, hay is an awful price, + can scarcely be got. Govt is talking of helping out more than has been. Geoff has started in business in the Hardware (Ironmongery) with two other fellows one who handles implements, + another, + in the Spring they intend combining the three, Geoffs own business the “Harness”, “Implements”, + the “Hardware” if it’s a good year next year they should do well, + really I don’t see how it possibly can be another dry year. We have had the “Prince of Wales” out here, we drove 95 miles by auto to see him, had a dandy view, he is such a nice open faced boy everybody is in love with him. We had another long ride by auto this summer 104 miles to see a brother of Geoffs, our light’s gave out coming home, a pitch dark night, but we got home alright. How are you all keeping + Mr Scholz? My sister Mabel is well, talks of coming out to see me, she is on easy street, to what I am just now, her husbands people seem to be fairly well connected. Auntie Julia in England does not enjoy very good health she is 85 next birthday. Games on the ice is the order of the day out here now, “Curling”, “Hockey” + Skating. 
How is Miss Atkinson these days. In cannot think of more news just now. So will close. Hoping all are in the best of health. 
Yours sincerely
Violet Collier