Vol. 11 No. 2

On December 31, 1912, Nellie Perry Winslow of Saco, Maine, married Joseph Rideout of Kenora, Ontario. The groom’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harding Rideout, lived in Kenora, and it was here that the newlyweds came to live for a few months before proceeding west where Joseph was to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The following are excerpts of letters written by Nellie to her mother describing her new life in Kenora during her first few months of marriage.

JANUARY 24, 1913

Dear Mother:

I hope you will forgive me for not writing before but it has been just impossible for me to get a chance and I have so much to say now that I don’t know where to begin. We arrived here Wednesday night about quarter after seven and Joe’s father and mother met us at the station. I saw them coming and recognized them from the picture I have. I like them both very much, his mother is very pretty and attractive and makes a charming hostess. It is all so different here. Kenora is much more a society place than Saco I think from what I know so far, with lots of different clubs, afternoon teas, receptions, etc. There is a custom new to us which is prevalent all over Canada and that is this, take Kenora for instance – it is divided up into different sections of town and each section has regular receiving days when everyone is supposed to be at home and receive callers from the other sections of town. For this section, it is the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of every month and yesterday afternoon was the day. Mrs. Rideout only had about five callers, for she says she owes nearly every one calls… She served chocolate and little cakes.

An afternoon tea party on Margach’s lawn, 1916.

Of course I had to go in and meet the ladies, I wore my black velvet dress and got through the ordeal quite well…

Mrs. Rideout and the other ladies I have met talk so differently and use expressions constantly like these Just fancy now!, Oh! indeed, Indeed now!, etc. and the inflection is more like the New York way of talking.

They stay up late here and get up late, we haven’t had our breakfast till 9:30 so far, dinner at 1 and supper at 6:30pm…

… I forgot to say what my presents were that were here, two brass candlesticks (beauties) from Joe’s Aunt Ruth, cut-glass salt & pepper shakers from June Doten and a large linen center-piece with lots of embroidery from Edna Smith (Joe’s cousin). Must close now. Hope you are well, have been a little homesick at times…

Lovingly,
Nellie

FEBRUARY 23, 1913

Dear Mother:

I have been a very lucky girl this week to receive so many nice letters…

Papa must have been rattled sure to get my new name so twisted in asking for my letter. I am real used to being called Mrs. Rideout now…

Well, I haven’t told you much about our doings this week. Tuesday a.m. Joe cleaned our room with the $60.00 vacuum cleaner which they own and I embroidered in the after-noon.

Wednesday, Eleanor and I took turns at the big ironing and we finished it without Mrs. Rideout touching it. I have gotten quite used to the electric flat-iron now. In the after-noon Joe took me to the moving pictures. Thursday we began to get ready for the swell luncheon Mrs. Rideout gave in my honor Saturday at 1:30. There were eight girls and two young married ladies about my age invited and Mrs. Ashton and I making twelve who sat down at three little tables, four at a table and Eleanor and Mrs. R. served. The girls were mostly Eleanor’s friends but as she had to help serve, Mrs. R. called the luncheon in my honor and I received them and they all came and said goodbye to me when they left at about four o’clock. Eleanor and I made five kinds of candy Thursday after-noon and then I had time for a little walk with Joe. Friday morning, Eleanor baked a cake and made a mocha frosting and blanched almonds and Mrs. R. cooked a big turkey. I helped what I could at various things. Saturday a.m. we had lots to do but each one helped and Mrs. R. is a great planner and everything was ready with us all dressed before one o’clock. I wore my pink messaline with the lace guinpe (guipure). We sat down to these little tables which looked so pretty. I loaned my two lunch cloths which Mrs. Haley and Grace Perkins gave me as Mrs. R.’s were not just the right size and the knives all had pearl handles and with the cut glass tumblers everything looked fine.

First course was sliced oranges (the fruit course), second course was fish with a nice cream sauce and a sprig of parsley on each plate and bread with butter, and third course was cold roast turkey on a lettuce leaf (a piece of dark and light meat on each plate), a potato croquette and a little mound of cranberry jelly and the last course was preserved peaches with whipped cream, cake (two kinds), coffee and blanched almonds… I wouldn’t mind having some more luncheons in my honor…

Your affectionate daughter,
Nellie

MARCH 2, 1913

Dear Mother:

Here it is Sunday after-noon again and time for me to write you again. We had our breakfast at 10:30 this a.m., went to church (it was 32 below early this a.m. but 22 below when we left for church and a bad wind which made it awfully cold). It is 2 o’clock now and we have all been eating apples to keep us from starving till the next meal which comes between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. I have just been out in the kitchen and I judge by what I see out there that we are going to have cold roast lamb and boiled potatoes, sauer-kraut (I have learned to like that for Joe is so fond of it), bread, and apple pie and tea for dessert. I was thinking this morning how I would like to have some baked beans again as I haven’t seen any since leaving Saco. But I am having lots and lots of nice things to eat and everybody tells me how fat I am getting in the face, I will try to get weighed soon…

Mrs. Scovil’s tea party, 1932.

It is Mrs. Ashton’s (Joe’s great-aunt) birth-day today, she is 75 years old. I like her so much and we have nice talks together. I help her around all I can as she has rheumatism in one leg and arm. Mrs. R. gave a swell after-noon tea in Mrs. Ashton’s honor yesterday after-noon from four to six with twenty ladies invited and Eleanor and I served the refreshments. We had for the first course, fruit salad with whipped cream, and bread and butter sandwiches, next coffee and cake, and lastly ice cream (tutti-frutti) and fancy cakes, salted almonds, divinity fudge and creamed walnuts. I had such a lovely time. I wonder if people are as nice to all the brides as they have been to me. I wore my grey voile and received several very nice compliments about it, everybody admires it and I am having lots of chances to wear it…

The days just seem to fly by, there are so many of us and we spend a lot of time talking and gadding. I have only made three calls and I have nine more on my list. I bought the plain cards and write on them, as that is the way most of the ladies do here, instead of engraved or printed ones. Well, I must close now. I have not been homesick once since that Friday night when we had the dinner party over three weeks ago. I have gotten acclimated, I guess. I made macaroni and cheese the other day and nearly all of us had two helpings. Joe is well and sends love. My cold is over.

Your loving daughter,
Nellie

Did you know?

The Tugboat Mather was the last steam boat on the Lake of the Woods, retiring in 1960.

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