Baker, James

Letter
Date:
June 10, 1943
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
June 10th, 1943

Rockcliffe, Ottawa

Dear Mom,

I suppose by this time you have got my letter explaining where I am and what I am doing here. I did not expect to be here quite this long, but four days have gone by now and it does not seem that we are going to be posted before Monday because we are all going on 48 hr. pass this weekend. I am going to spend mine here in Ottawa. I could go down to Toronto but I haven't got much money and I think the train fare is quite expensive. Anyway, Ottawa is a very lovely city and I have met Marion Bell at last. I had a terrible job finding her because she had moved and I didn't have her new address. However, after spending 45c in nickels and all afternoon at the phone, I managed to find her. She has grown very beautiful and is an extremely nice girl. She and three other girls are renting an apartment here, very beautiful place it is too... had a swell time with them all.

The same day I found Marion I also looked up Tom Reid. He was extremely kind to me, showed me all through the Parliament buildings and then took me to dinner - or rather supper in the restaurant for members and guests. We had as table guests, the member for Peace River (so of course I could tell him all about Messengers) and the member for Winnipeg - a Mr. Fairchild. He was an extremely interesting conversationalist and has invited me to look him up if I get posted out to Winnipeg, as I am expecting to. I am going to do so too because I liked him very much. They all three were very interested in what I had to say about England and when they found out that I had been so recently to the House of Parliament in London, continually plied me with questions about procedure, housing and the atmosphere, etc. I enjoyed myself hugely and I think they did too. They were also talking about rehabilitation in Europe after the war is over. Evidently, Canada has some very extensive plans in that regard and people who are in the know and have a little extra cash, are considering it a very wise investment to buy up all the blooded livestock, especially cattle, pigs and horses they can lay their hands on. Of course, this is all ‘sub rosa' and I want you to keep it under your hat. Tom Reid remembers you and Dad and Grandpa and sends his best regards and good wishes. He certainly is a hard worker and has gained the name around the House of being a ‘Trojan' in the amount of work he does. He gets to the House every morning at nine o'clock so that he can prepare his speeches (he in common with most members, does his own research work in the 180,000 volume library), attend to his voluminous correspondence and do the work required by his constituents. He has one hour for dinner and is usually back at work by 1.30. He then works till sitting time at 3.00. The house sits from 3-6 and then has 2 hrs for supper, at 8.00, it resits and then closes at 11 PM. Thursday.

Tom works 14 hrs. a day and what's more, doesn't get overtime for it. His only relaxation is playing the pipes which he does for 20 mins. every night in his office and at any other time he feels like calming his nerves or temper. His only exercise is walking 2 miles night and morning from his home to the House. He is typically Scotch in that he quotes Bobby Burns by the ream with a good broad rolling accent. No sir, any man who says an MP. doesn't work is just malicious, or misinformed. At least any member who takes his job seriously, works very hard indeed, far harder than most men who make five and six times the money as they do. But I doubt very much if they drive as much personal satisfaction from their work.

I was very sorry to miss Margaret Reid by only a week. She was here a week ago on her way out west. She has been attending college down east here somewhere and has just finished getting her B Sc. I should like to see her very much again. She should be rather interesting to talk to.

The Houses of Parliament are very wonderful. I went up into the ‘Peace Tower' and saw the magnificent view of Ottawa from there. I also went into the war memorial. Here they have a book containing the name of every Canadian soldier killed in the last war. One page is turned over every day showing the names of soldiers. They were up to Holden AJ. Pte. PPCLI. the day I was there. They have also 17 marble plaques arranged around the walls upon which - in letters of gold, the story of the war as applicable to Canadians is told. It was extremely interesting reading. Every badge is there too, carved in marble, everlasting as it is possible for a work of man to be. In the Peace Tower, I also saw the bells ranging from 10 lbs. to 11 tons. They struck 3 o'clock while I was there, nearly deafened me! I saw the library, the Senate, the House of Commons, the committee room where hangs the original of the painting of the War Memorial at Vimy Ridge and many other interesting things. The wood earrings were marvels - as good as any I saw in England. But what a difference there was between the conditions under which members work here and the way English MP.'s have to work. You see in England, MP.'s have no separate offices but must work in common rooms. Here, each has his own office and secretary! I must close this now as it is nearly time for parade.

Please don't write to me yet, I expect to be posted early next week and it would only get lost. We are being issued with our Khalii Drill pretty soon too.

Jim




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