Archives for posts with tag: preacher’s kid story


Oxford House Hats

The men and boys of Oxford House, northern Manitoba.
1926 Photo by Rev. J.A.C. Kell

Easter was the time when the Swampy Cree of Oxford House, Manitoba came back from winter camp. You had to find just the right hat to make you feel ready for the season of beginning all over again.

They had gone far into the bush, lived in shacks, shot duck and moose, and fished for themselves and their dogs. They were more healthy and contented when they were out in the bush than on the reserve because they had meat to eat. The missionary had given their fathers their school exercise books and made them promise to have their children look at them at least once a day.

Now spring was here and, with it, came travelers from the south. Eager to make some money, the men and boys tried to make a good impression. Strong and swift-footed, with valuable knowledge of nature and skills as craftsmen, they were indispensable as guides to carry the outsiders’ gear, paddle and portage canoes and navigate the trails through the bush. They would also exchange meat for white man’s food such as jam.

Where Did They Get Their Hats From?
Each man or boy in the photo has his own style and no two hats are the same. I suspect they came out of the bales of clothing which were sent up to the reservation from church congregations in the south who wanted to help the aboriginal people. The influence of the new age of aviation was detectable in some of the hat styles.

Look at this Historical Photo:
Chief Jeremiah Chubb is standing second from the left in the back row. He is the one who “although not musical, played the organ as best he could for the church services” (A Book of Kells).

His right hand man, Bobbie Chubb, is standing — on Jeremiah’s right. He liked to brag and had a good sense of humor, which my mother (the missionary’s wife) adored.

One night when he was at mission house, he told her that his children were not let out of the house at night because he locked the door at 10 p.m. Then he looked at his watch and said: “To-night I have locked myself out.”

Which hat in this historical photo appeals to you most?

What’s your new Easter hat like? What’s its attitude and what does it rhyme with?

Thank you for spending some of your precious time reading this post. Please browse around from tip to toe on the Home archive and, if you will, comment.

Happy Reading & Writing from Cozybookbasics!

Margaret Kell Virany, author of:

A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void.  A compelling account of the unique northern adventures of a romantic, idealistic sailor and his war bride living with the Cree in the roaring twenties. Followed up by their youngest daughter’s confessions of a preacher’s kid.

Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.  A loving tribute to my mother’s bravery in coming alone to Canada as a war bride and living her honeymoon years on a northern Aboriginal reservation.  12 photos.

Eating at Church. One hundred and seventy-five recipes from the labor of love of 58 contributors who belong to two congregations in the Ottawa River Valley that perpetuate a long tradition of delicious, practical, time-proven meals prepared for and eaten with others.

Background information is available on my website; books may be purchased on Amazon.


These ten blog posts and eight pix were tops on Cozybookbasics in 2017. A total of 1577 readers from 67 countries clicked for 2454 views. Fifty-five years ago an expert freelancer advised me ‘how-to’ stories were popular and he sure was right!


#2 How Not to Sell Books at the Market. I interviewed the writer/humorist Greg Clark (Birdseye Centre) when I was a high school student. He said, “The only person a writer can make fun of is himself.”


#1 How to Build  a Canoe the Aboriginal Way. My husband Tom sold this story to Mechanics Illustrated in 1970 but they did not publish it. Its time has come. It is particularly popular in Canada, US, Russia, Poland, Belarus and other former SSRs.

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#4 Michele and I paired up for the launch of her first book. She was the army brat and I was the preacher’s kid. We sold our books at $20 each or $30 for the two. Both of us felt we did better by being part of a duo.


#10 How to Sell Books in the Digital/Paper Change. Tom and I took the pictures of each other. A faithful photographer is a must for a writer.


#6 How I Wrote a Letter and Got a Wall. My blog roams far and wide but always come back to roost on the core themes of writing and love. In this guest post, Tom celebrates the 50th anniversary of an important achievement in his engineering career.


#5 How I Sold Books at the Market. The weather started out bad on my birthday. Still, I bet myself I could sell enough books to treat my grandchildren to a picnic and play under the stars on the banks of the Rideau that night.


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#9 Civilized, Simple Thanksgiving Suggestion for Gun Debate. My father was a gunner in WWI but the only weapon of mass destruction we had in our house was a fly swatter.


#3 How We Fell in Love, Built a Canoe and Got a House. Someone in the world is at this moment building a canoe according to Tom’s design. It brings a dream of freedom to life.

I thought a picture was necessary for every post but that’s not so. Two of them made it to the top ten without one. They are #7 “My Brazen Attempts to Write a Classic” and #8 “Reading Classic Books Will Teach Your Children the Sky’s the Limit” My Home page, a scroll-down archive, scored 543 views.

Happy Reading & Writing from Cozybookbasics!