By Barbara E. Kelcey
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Extra info for Alone in Silence: European Women in the Canadian North before 1940
Until that time in the Western Arctic – and until later in the Eastern Arctic – mail delivery was otherwise sporadic, dependent on the rcmp patrol or other official visitors. In the north, it was the supply ship which moved the goods and brought the news and shiptime played such an important part in the lives of Arctic residents that many viewed the boat’s arrival as the beginning of their year. The supply boat brought the food and supplies for the next year’s physical sustenance. It was also a time of spiritual renewal, whether that took the form of personal mail, the arrival of the bishop (both Roman Catholic and Anglican), or the incoming alcohol ration.
Wallace Manning explained how she “shrugged mentally and said goodbye to clean white sheets. After all, it wasn’t the end of clean white sheets. ” In fact, she said she “rather dreaded it; didn’t expect to like it much [and] my hunch was right – I didn’t like it, and I don’t like it yet, and I’m sure I won’t, at least until winter is here. But all that doesn’t matter really; we didn’t expect to come here to enjoy the scenery, nor the social life. ”48 Keeping busy was important. Selina Bompas insisted that constant occupation was a cure for faint-heartedness in women in the north.
The surgery was performed by an Oblate priest at the settlement, the closest surgeon being at The Pas. Four men were in attendance to treat Mrs Clay: the two Mounties, the priest, and the hbc man. Although anaesthetics and morphine were available and the operation itself was successful, Mrs Clay apparently died of shock due to blood loss. The rcmp report noted that Mrs Clay was familiar with northern conditions, implying that she had accepted the risks and therefore presumably absolved the rcmp of any blame.