Letter: An Offer of Employment in 1928

Written on Wednesday, December 5, 1928

She didn’t take it. Or maybe she did? I’m actually not sure.


Dear Miss Hodder.

about the passage I may inform you. We are going in the middle of Jan. with the german ship, “Saarland” via Suez. If you are willing to take care of 2 children, really only the baby of 9 month, the other child being 4 already, I offer you first class cabin for it. Do you like children and have you any experience? If you are still interested call at my house. from 2-5 o’clock you may call anytime, otherwise I am absent, shopping etc. or you write before, than I shall be at home.

We are Germans.

Fran Strehlow

No 9 Tchinotani

Taking the tram no 2, 3 or 4 to the terminus and than a risha, they know us all at the Suma station.

Letters: Finding a New Home in 1945

Written on Wednesday, July 18, 1945

A rather important set of letters, these. Key characters from later in the narrative appear, though briefly.

Will is using his leave from the air force to search out a new home in the Okanagan for the whole family to move to from Pense Saskatchewan. Interesting details:

  • The “Embris” are of course the “Embrees”, old family friends. When I was young, we had an honourary Grandma Embree from that same family, and there are still one or two visits a year between our families, despite my parents’ generation of Embrees moving up north (Vanderhoof).
  • Picking cherries in July.
  • Building materials are in short supply but are being released for houses for “returning men”.
  • The “experimental farm” is, of course, the Summerland Research Station (as it was known when I was young) or the Summerland Research and Development Centre. This is a major fruit growing research centre in western Canada. Most notably, the Spartan apple was developed there and introduced to the world in 1936.

Trout Creek
Filling Station
July 18/45
11:30 am

Dear Kid:

Excuse paper but forgot to bring writing paper. My train was late getting in. 45 minutes. So I missed the 1st bus, but Mr. Freisen was at the station + we went up to the house and he phoned one of the congregation – a car salesman + he drove us out to this place + we met the man he spoke of. He’s an elderly christian and works at the experimental station. He has a ranch where he lives + two acres where he intends building a smaller house where eventually he may live. However he intends to build but has been unable to get material so far but thinks if we lived there that the material could be had as they are releasing it for house for returning men. There’s a two room shack on the experimental station but he doesn’t know if he could get them to rent it, but is going to try. There are no lights or water but the creek runs right by + is clear + OK for washing + there’s drinking water a short distance away. People use to live in it he said. There is also a large house where his wife’s grandmother lives but it belongs to the estate + the will hasn’t been settled yet, but he’s going to enquire about it. or part of it. Mr. Freisen says its one of the best committees + quite a lot of christians – four square + pentecostal + he knows no better for the boys. There’s lots of work. I asked about work at the experimental farm + he said there would likely be work but he would advise waking (?) out as the pay is better. Freisen figures that they will find something in time for you to move out by school time. I think we’ll let Langley Prairie go unless you think you want to go there first. I think these men will keep looking until they find something as they are anxious to have christians there. I called to see another christian – pentecostal family while waiting my bus for Kelowna – people by the name of McNutt + they are sure keen on us coming. They cam there a year last spring from Calgary + say its the best they’ve seen also they wouldn’t go back. They have a small ranch + are doing fine + have a couple of their family attending Bible School. I met a daughter who goes to Saskatoon Bible School + knows the girls. They have a boy about 15 + so have the Embris – the folk who would build the house. Let me know what you think by mail + also I’ll talk it over more fully when I see you at Calgary. Its the place where that soldier got on the bus. Its sure too bad we didn’t look around there that day instead of going to Summerland. I’m at the Kelowna CPR station. I have no stamps here, but managed to make a bus. The weather is lovely not hot like the other time we were here although the sun is shining. It rained slightly last night. Mrs. McNutt picks cherries all morning. Hope you are not too disappointed but I believe something will come of this. If I were out I could start working on that house as soon as they got its material. must close as the train is in. will write again as soon as I get to Calgary.




Sicamous BC
July 18, 8:30pm

Dearest Kid:-

You will likely have had my wire by now + before you get this will have received my hurried letter. I had no stamps + no time to get any so had to mail it without, so hope it arrived OK. Hope you aren’t too dissappointed. Personally I’m really sick at heart tonight to think my two weeks leave has gone + still nothing definite and no chance of more leave to look around. I’m also real homesick for you + sick to think how you will feel about the whole thing. If you should run into anything before coming home + feel like renting, just use your own judgement. I’ve got to where I don’t know what to advise. As I said in my letter Freisen thinks something will turn up. Actually I guess its lack of faith on my part. God knows we want His best and His will is best. We have tried to find a place. I wish we were together so that we could talk it over, but I guess I’m too much of a home guy. I sure wish we were able to have our home somewhere. Try to take some holiday before going home. Hope you are not too tired. I am quite tired tonight + shall be glad to get back to camp to get some sleep. I have to wait here till about 1100 oclock. The trains going West are awfully crowded so no doubt those going East will be also. The mosquitos are awful. Will see you on your way through Calgary, I sure love you kid + wish I could do something about a house. Heaps + heaps of love


Letter: Reunions, Kisses, and the Weirdness of 1920s Consent in 1929

Written on Wednesday, June 26, 1929

This is another letter that leaves me feeling weirdly and awkwardly protective of Gwyneth. But presumably this is what she wanted from the man she loved. Presumably, this is a letter showcasing at least some of the qualities that she found attractive in him. The paragraph about the expected kiss is also a bit weird. There’s no reason to believe that she would resist kissing him (though they haven’t seen each other in months, and anyone might feel slightly shy at first in those circumstances), but it’s made clear that resistance is uncool. Even if she wants to kiss him, which she probably very much does, it’s still somehow framed in this weird slightly coercive way.

Pense, Sask
June 26th

My dearest Gwyneth,

This should reach you about the day before you leave + I thought that even if I wrote on Sunday I had better write one and be sure to catch you before you left so as to cheer you up. Just imagine sweetheart, two weeks from the time you get this, (and) we shall be together again. I hardly dare think too much about it as I get all excited.

Your good letter of the 11th came yesterday and of course made me all the more excited. By the way little girl, what is it that you should tell me, that is worrying you? You say that you don’t know what on earth to do about it, so why not tell me and get it off your chest. I may not be able to help you, and yet I may, and in any case, I believe we should be frank with one another as we expect to be man and wife. In any case don’t worry over whatever it is, + if you don’t care to write it down then tell me after you come out. Remember dear heart I love you learly and want to do everything to make you as happy as possible and after we are married let us both try to remember to give and take. You say too that at times you get a little bit frightened when you think what marriage really means + what a huge responsibility it is, but I hardly think that we should be frightened, sweetheart. Truly it is one of the greatest blessings given us by God if we follow Him. I realize that we should understand the responsibility we have, also the wonderful privilege and holiness of it. God institute it in the beginning, + He knew what was best for man. I realize with you that it is up to both parties to make marriage a success, + I believe if we will both help the other that it should not be so difficult. I also strongly believe that where Christ is given his rightful place in teh home that there should be unity. Cheer up little woman. I believe we should be able to make as good a success of married life as most people, and a good deal better than lots.

I’ve been trying to clean up Andy’s house. Its awfully dirty, + I’m afraid I wont’ be able to make a very good thing of it. One thing, it will be clean when I’m through, even though it doesn’t look very good. One thing its so small that you won’t have so very much house work. Perhaps some day we’ll be able to build us a home + then we’ll have it as we like it.

I heard from Mr. Thornton today + he says that he hates to disappoint us, but he has had to cancel his Canadian trip this year on account of his heart. He has had had another heart attack and has to rest off. The doctor told him that his blood pressure was so low that it was too low to live; but he says he is gradually gaining.

He says too that he doesn’t know if he would be allowed to perform the ceremony here in Canada.

I still think sweetheart that it would be best for us to get married shortly after you arrive, but we’ll see how you feel about it when you get here. If we should, it will be about a month more + we will either be married or be seriously thinking about it. I can hardly imagine it, it seems too good to be true.

Now look after yourself sweetheart + be careful. Don’t forget to send me a telegram and state when you expect to reach Regina. Do you think you’ll recognize me at the station? Anyhow I have your picture + will do my best to make myself known,don’t yell if I try to carry you off. Remember the big kiss you’ve promised me for so long too and don’t try to get out of it. In any case there’ll be lots of chances on teh way home if we come by car, so I’ll try not to be too greedy all at once. I expect Vi will be at the station, so we’ll have to behave to a certain extent, but can make up for it later.

Now I must close, as its an hour after my usual bedtime and I’ll be all in tomorrow, so goodnight sweetheart o’ mine, take good care of yourself + keep looking up. May the Lord richly bless, protect and keep you in safety + satisfy the longings of your heart. With heaps of love + kisses till we meet in Regina,

Ever your own


Letter: Travel, Education, “Delicate” Matters in 1928

Written on Tuesday, January 17, 1928

I don’t know yet if this friend is going to turn up again in the correspondence. Things got a bit complicated in Japan during WWII.

I wonder what the “many causes which are too delicate to be described on the paper” refers to. Of course, I suspect racism and the many macro and microaggressions that even an educated english-speaking young Japanese man would have experienced in the US in 1927. I suppose we’ll never know, of course.

They nigh-habitual bad penmanship referred to by the writer is some of the most legible handwriting I have ever encountered. Far far better than mine, which is no fair comparison anyway.

Y. Urano
#2 Nishidacho Yodogi
Kyoto, Japan.

Jan. 17, ’28

Dear Mr. Woodbridge

I have just come back home after having a long trip around the United States and, to the glad, received your kind letter from Canada. I left Seattle on the 27th of last Dec. where I was wired from father that I had to go home immediately because of the serious condition of my elder sister (another one whom you don’t know.) who had been confined to bed for a long long time. I am glad, however, to tell you her condition to turn a little better after I came home. My impression to America (States) is not so fine, I can’t tell you why, for there are many causes which are too delicate to be described on the paper. I want to let you know why when I meet you again that is not so longer after, to be sure.

I came to Seattle again on first Nov. last year after finishing so-called the observation trip of the education in the Eastern + Southern parts of that country. For about one and a half months from Nov. to Dec. I attended the law colledge (sic) belonging to the University of Washington in Seattle as a auditor. My father advises me to attend the Kioto Imperial University + to take the law course, so that I, on my part, decide to take his advice. Though it is unimaginably severe cold now in Kioto, yet I am sure the warm and cherry blossom season will soon be with us in 6 or 7 weeks. I am eager to meet you again in Japan. My sister + brother-in-law hope me to tell you their good wishes.

Excuse my ill writing which is almost habitual.

Yours most faithfully,

Yasuka Urano.

Envelope Front:

Mr. W.F. Woodbridge
Room 46
Regina, Saskatchewan

Envelope Back:

Yasuka Urano
#2 Nishidacho Yodogi
Kyoto, Japan.

Postmark: Yokohama Japan, 19.1.28