By A. J. Jackson
Booklet by means of Jackson, A. J.
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Extra info for Blackburn aircraft since 1909
Fortunately, the crew was short an axeman, and after months of clearing his homestead, George qualified easily. Almost immediately the party set out for the area north of Fort McMurray (now Waterways) on the Athabasca River. The trip lasted over six months, and it gave George a fascinating glimpse of Canadian frontier life which even then was beginning to disappear. , transferred their instruments, equipment, and personal gear into wagons which carried them to Athabasca Landing. When they arrived, there were scenes of great activity: the terminus of the railway was under construction, loads of freight were arriving at all hours, and on the shores of the Athabasca River flatbottomed scows were being built for the Hudson's Bay brigade.
Swords and lances were used only at military gymkhanas. Thus the rifle bucket replaced the sword scabbard, and the Vickers machine gun section was capable of doing more damage than the entire regiment armed with lances. Training was comparatively limited and in a sense unrealistic. Most of the men still thought they would go to the Middle East and fight in Palestine, Egypt, or somewhere on the rim of the Turkish Empire. In France the war seemed to be reaching a stalemate with trench warfare sapping mobility.
The Pearkes family became acquainted with their neighbours—the Baileys, the Sinclairs, the Hankinsons, and others—during the course of their first year. Many were English immigrants who, for one reason or another, had come to Canada and were meeting with some measure of success in their new environment. Others were Canadians from Ontario and Quebec, who brought a greater familiarity with Canadian ways and carried on a social life somewhat similar to what they had known in the East. The vastness of the area, the distance between the farms, and the lack of community services all made for a casual and spontaneous social life.