Wow, what a happy picture!
Isn’t it! No prizes for guessing when it was taken – and where.
Well, they look even happier than on that river in Cambridge during the war, don’t they. It must be after the war, and I bet that’s Vancouver.
Well done. It was at Kitsilano beach in the summer of 1919. The war was over, Rufus was out of hospital and working at the Province, and they had an apartment at 1521 Arbutus Street, two minutes walk from the water. They used this picture for their Christmas card that year.
Why was Rufus in hospital?
Actually, both of them were that year, himself and Bee. Rufus had some kind of nervous bowel condition, thanks to his wartime job – it had become especially bad when dear old General Loomis had been his boss. A spell in hospital, paid for by the military, sorted him out, but it would always come back when he was stressed. Poor Bee had awful pain from an unspecified gynecological condition. The pain would come and go, and she had an operation in September that year. It gave her relief for a while, but wasn’t a permanent solution.
I see they got a new dog. Was this one called Nick?
Rather disappointingly, it was called Jerry and we don’t know a lot about him. They got him in 1920, when they were still living on Arbutus. But they didn’t have him for long.
It looks like Rufus liked him – what happened?
Yes, Rufus was good with animals, but he wasn’t goofy about them. They got Jerry – not as a puppy, obviously – from some people in Kerrisdale in May. In late June Rufus wrote in his diary – “Jerry bit grocer’s boy” and the next day – “Jerry bit young Dixon rather badly – had to be shut up.” There’s no more for ten days, then – “Reg Harwood came and fetched Jerry away.”
Who was Reg Harwood?
A nephew of the famous Sir Sam Steele of the mounties – Sam’s widow, Lady Steele, was a Harwood, and one of Bee’s and Rufus’s early Vancouver friends. And, as Reg wasn’t the dog-catcher, that probably means that Jerry lived to bite another grocer’s boy! Maybe Harwood wanted to keep Jerry, or perhaps he knew someone who did.
Bee must have said “get that dog out of our house.”
Perhaps – she wouldn’t have wanted a difficult dog around if she wasn’t very well, that’s for sure. But, of the two of them, she was more of a dog lover.
And both liked horses, I presume, from the looks of them.
Rufus was quite a horseman – he’d had to learn to ride in Saskatchewan and of course he had to ride in the army. But he was no horse lover, either – he once complained, when he was farming in Ontario, about ‘having no-one to talk to but a horse’.
This was the first time she’d been on a horse – it was 1923. That’s perhaps why farmer Owen’s family and Derek looks so pleased – they had got her to try it. She was game for anything.
She would need to be – married to Rufus!