528 4th Avenue East, Owen Sound
July 22, 1917
Our terrible suspense was ended on Tuesday afternoon when we got the definite word that Tom was really gone. We had hopes right up to the last, although there seemed to be from the first telegram we received that terrible dread that perhaps something had happened to him. It has been a terrible time for us, the anxiety has been so great we haven’t been able to either eat or sleep.
George came back from the Park Saturday night and Monday we got a message saying “Found Tom this morning”. We thought by the message he was possibly alive and nearly everyone thought so. We wired right away to enquire if he were living and the connections were so poor that we had to wait for over a day for an answer.
Messages we sent them and messages they sent us were delayed so that it made this terrible and they sent us a message that the body was awaiting burial and it was delayed a day or more. They buried his body in the Park as the undertaker said it would be impossible to ship the body. He didn’t know his business at all and made a regular mess of things. Sinnie (?) and I were called to the telephone one night at twelve o’clock. It was Miss Traynor a friend of Tom’s who was calling us. She told us the body had been buried and wanted to know if we would like anything done. We told her we wanted him home, so she did everything in her power and stayed up all night to help us. She called George at three o’clock that night again and in the meantime she was doing everything she could to help make arrangements.
George went the next afternoon to Canoe Lake and brought Tom’s body on the Friday night train to Owen Sound. The body was left at the undertakers Friday night and the funeral was Saturday morning at ten o’clock. At one time we dreaded the time when he would be brought home but when the time came, it seemed so good to have him with us. The funeral was private, just the old Leith friends were here and a few from town who had known him and it made it so nice and peaceful not to have the crowd of curious strangers, We all tired to be a brave as possible. Dr. Fraser opened the service by prayer and Mr. Pilkey then took charge of it. Sinnie , Jessie, Jean, and I, Father, Tom and George went out to Leith. Birdie McNeil came up early that morning and we cannot forget her kindnesses in a hurry. She just seemed to know what to do.
There are some beautiful flowers sent some from Mr. and Mrs. Fraser of Canoe Lake but we were glad that there was not an overabundance of them. People no doubt understood his tastes and knew he would not like a display. That was one reason we wanted the funeral private.
It is very very hard indeed to have one taken we all thought so much of but it wasn’t in our hands. The night the first telegram came I was sure that some one of the family was gone and each one came up before me and I didn’t see how we could part with one. They couldn’t tell me at first and I dreaded asking where the message was from. Mother and Father and Auntie feel terribly but they have all been pretty brave. His visits meant so much to them, as he came so regularly. He always came home so happy and he though so much of us all.
I feel disappointed when I think of his last visit as we had a few little arguments which I wish we had never had. It was just after my operation and I suppose that accounted for it. I wasn’t able to enjoy his visit as had done every time before. I had intended writing him a nice letter after coming home and I intended to send him candy and some magazines.
I often think now that he was many times lonely when all by himself and none of us did anything when he was away to cheer him up. We might have written him letters even though he didn’t answer them. These things make me feel badly now when he is gone from us, At Christmas time he went off with a big basket filled with all kinds of things. Mother put fruit in it, part of your Christmas cake and I gave him a whole lot of candy which I made. He helped stir the candy and he liked it and wanted to know how I made it. Mother says she wants to remember him as he went off with the basket at Christmas time. None of us wanted to see him even if the body had been fit to see. His face just seems to come up before me every little while and I just groan when I think he is gone. His life meant so much to us here at home. He was alone and no one else was taking his affections and he always enjoyed his visits so much. His friends in Toronto just worshipped him and they are going to erect and memorial cairn in Algonguin Park.
Sinnie and I are thinking of going down to Toronto to see Tom’s studio. He has many wonderful pictures. I want to buy one real good sketch. I think we should each have one at least of his finest sketches. They are thinking of having a memorial exhibition and sale of his pictures in the winter. His artist friends say that if he had lived two or three years more he would have been to the very top of the ladder.
We feel very sorry for the ones who were away from home, that would be the hard part.
It would do the folkes at home good if you folkes could only come down for a while. Fraser says he is going to try to come down soon. George and Jean expect to go on Tuesday morning.
Well Minnie, I will have to stop writing. We all hope you are well.
Love to all, Peg