MB: living and writing the early days of parks canada

MB Williams to her niece Ruth ("Rufus"), 1947

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3270 W. 37th Friday
Vancouver BC about 47
Dearest Rufus,

It is somewhere between 5 & 6 in the morning but Morpheus seems to be off the job so I’ve had a cup of bedside coffee, very weak —and have had a look at the rose garden — all wet with dew - & then thought, by a natural sequence, of you. For you would enjoy this garden. It’s not only that there are so many roses, but that they are such beautiful varieties and such superb blooms. M. [Sampson?] is a member of the Royal Rose Society of England and out of the 12 best roses, selected by them, he has 11 in the garden. The “Oscar”

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selection is a lovely pink, called by the unromantic name of Mrs. Sam McGredy. It has 50 petals & opens from a long deep bud to a full bloom that would just nicely fill a small bowl. In the reds they prefer “Etoile de Hollande - know it? Then there is “Lemon pillar,” a white climber with a tinge of greenish yellow and a faint lemonish suggestion in the perfume. It’s a beauty. Something like “Silver Moon,” only more petalled and cup-like. M. [Sampson] has been showing us how to bud roses. He grows briars, or

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Rugosas, then he splits open a cane stock & inserts a bud from a fine rose, ties it in & lo, the new rose grows out of the old. He fertilizes very richly early in the spring & sprays as soon as the leaves appear, “early and often.” And then he picks off about half the buds, very early, so that he will get large blooms. He says anyone can grow roses who can grow cabbages - no more trouble!! That’s because he knows how. But he grew up in a garden of 100,000 bushes & as a boy used to sit up at night watching.

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their prize blooms for fear someone would steal them before Exhibition day. Sounds like race horses, doesn’t it. Our - (Mrs. H. & mine) 6x9 of annuals is coming on apace. Delphiniums almost out & pansies doing splendidly double Clarkia, Nigella (love-in-the mist) pimpernal, asters & stocks, all doing well. Only the zinnias seem likely to disappoint. When everything is out it should be like a Dutch bouquet. Our double pink and white cosmos (in another bed) should be nice for cutting & I’ve transplanted several hundreds of stocks - every shade. The green peas are almost

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ready & the sweet peas are on the way up, with mums to come along at the tail of the procession. You can see we have lots to interest us and now that the young Hilchies have moved next door there is another garden to plan for. Wilfred has gone in for vegetables. You should see him digging, stripped to a pair of short shorts. He looks very handsome.

All this about the gardens because they are the chief interest and will give you a sort of picture of our background. I wish I had a wee house of my own with a garden. Tho’ I’d be starting about 20 yrs. too late - & you in it.

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To get back to your last letter. The Mil. talk & visit sounded very interesting. Isn’t it queer how you are repeating the kind of life I lived. I used to be running down to Montreal (not to speak) but to work with the Rys. or the Associated Screen News but I didn’t attend so many “conferences.” They’ve just had a good Regional Library one here. They brought Mr. Crouch out to speak to them as the “head of the most progressive library in Canada.” He spoke of the library as a cultural centre as it is in London. They have a terribly antiquated and inadequate

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building here & are urging the construction of a new one. Did I tell you about their “Friends of the Library Assoc” $1.00 fee. Idea is to build up public interest & support behind the Library. Our Univ. Club subscribed 25.00 to it & Labour organ’n & Men’s Clubs did likewise. Suppose they spend the money in propaganda. The plan now is for a new Civic Centre uniting Library, museum & Concert Hall as a war memorial.

I liked the “patterns” (as the Eng. say) of your furniture covering. Think it

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should work out beautifully. Was a little in doubt about the navy blue at first, but think its all right. You have to have something to give a bit of solidity I suppose. That queer “pink”. I like and can see it against the rug. No. you’re going to like it too, and its’ fun to try it. Couldn’t consider putting it into a house coat. It will fade a little & become a sort of neutral very soon. I think . Go ahead & do it. Am sure it will be interesting. Have been studying my new John Park. Just got it back from the

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frames & like it very much. He is an Englishman - something of an artist himself & he recognized John’s quality at once & took an interest. Natural wood with gold rubbed in or brushed lightly on, just enough to show wood tho’. It suits the spring colours. John’s chord is purplish pink (the Cherry tree in foreground). Clear spring greens, (fields) with purple line of hills in background. Also have a new water color by Mabel Bayne. Just a big mountain but I like it as well or better than Frau’s “Leighton.” Saw Lauren Harris at the Spring Show at the Art Gallery

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the other night. He has a lovely head of grey hair, is tall & slim & looks both distinguished & very friendly. He had a lovely “abstract” one in the show. Mountain forms - purples & white. Wonderful effect of light on the peaks. Then there were 6 or 7 remarkable Amy Carr’s. She was verging on the abstract, too towards the end, especially interested in rhythms. Wish they had copies of them but these were loans. A very “personal” interpretation - not at all imitative. Wish I knew Lawren Harris, he looks nice. Is a theosophist, has been divorced, & now

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married to a very pretty woman. I’m talking of taking the trip to Alaska - think I’d like to see the coast all the way up - an Englishwoman, I’ve got to like who lives near will go too. Probably 1st week in July. What are you planning? Only other item of new is my new Tip-top suit 3-piece-black & white check, Hope it will be nice. Greenish blue felt hat (I hope). Nice for travel & trotting.

I’ve ordered “Sat Night” for two years for your birthday. They

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don’t accept 1 year subscrip & thought might as well take it for 2. I dropped my Herald-Tribune book review - got tired of it - you’ll enjoy the “News.” Judith has become a master of the ironical style. Whole paper very bright. This week on Wm. L. Mac. King is devastating. The N. Yorker fallen off since Clifton Fadiman left.

I’ve been wondering whether to come home in the fall, settle up my London affairs & sell or otherwise dispose of the furniture. Ernie discovered a cockroach in their cellar & diagnosed

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It as an [enhaut] in my stuff, so sent it to storage (!) Silly to keep it (not the cockroach but the furniture) & if Fran & Bill would like some it might help them out. Then I could run down to Ottawa & see you & Mrs. Herridge. I know just what you mean about her. She gets a bit lost intellectually. Wish she’d come & live out here. Wonder if Blanche will go to England. She always said she would. Think Lynn & Betty Lang might make a success of it. She’d be better than his mother for him.

Isn’t this a long letter? Breakfast time and am I hungry? But I like to have a good talk with you. Last no. of Can. Art very good, wasn’t it? Haven’t mentioned books. Best love Tante

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P.S. Seem to have missed this sheet. Think Jacola may go up now. If it ever reaches what we paid for it better sell. I think. Expect they’ve not done much on it. Nickel & Brazil have staged a splendid come-back. I’m clear with both of them but they’re still climbing. No. You are wise not to touch stocks — too much like horse racing. Saw “For Whom the Bell Tolls” & Song to Remember (Life of Chopin) First very dreary, too much fighting, but Paul Muni & Merle Oberon & the music good in second. Isn’t Bergman lovely only flaw is her nose.

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“MB Williams to her niece Ruth ("Rufus"), 1947,” MB: Living and Writing the Early Years of Parks Canada, accessed September 24, 2017, http://mbwilliams.academic-news.org/items/show/54.

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