By Barbara E. Kelcey
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Extra resources for Alone in Silence: European Women in the Canadian North before 1940
46 Two dimensions characterized this force. The simple inability to go anywhere else during the winter was the first. The second was more complex: a package of acceptance, all tied up with the ribbons of duty and the women’s own understanding of their role. It was unlikely that any white European woman travelled into the Arctic without a specific goal in mind, unless she had convinced herself that she could at least make an effort. Wallace Manning explained how she “shrugged mentally and said goodbye to clean white sheets.
Flossie Hirst at Pangnirtung wrote about her inability to explain her feelings the moment the boat was seen: “It is one thing to expect the boat but when expectations are finally realized, the feeling is altogether awful. ”8 Decisions of some importance to one’s life came with the boat. Who was aboard could signal the need for some speedy packing. At Pangnirtung, as the ship appeared on the horizon the hospital staff would run up the flag, then watch through field glasses for signs of the bishop and, more significantly, for a mission uniform at the ship’s railings.
Some women kept annual diaries so they would be prepared to write their letters when the ship arrived; some simply sent the journals home intact. Keeping the journals meant real self-discipline. ”13 More than one woman noted it was easy to put off recording daily events, knowing the ship would not arrive for months. There was almost a universal scramble to write letters before the ship left. ” asked E. Wallace Manning. “I cannot very well explain, but if you were to live in the Arctic a few years, doubtless you would understand.