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Bruce Peel Special Collections Life, Events, and Players in the North-West Patrick, Thomas Alfred
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T. A. Patrick Letters & Correspondence

An archive of 52 interesting and significant letters by Thomas “Alf” Patrick and his wife Marion (1889-1904). Almost all letters come with their original stamped mailing envelopes (49 envelopes in total). 44 letters are by Thomas and 8 by Marion.
Most of the letters are handwritten and signed, ranging from a single page up to five pages, often closely written. 3 are typed and signed.
In the case of letters by Thomas Patrick, many of the letters to his wife are almost in diary form recording events as they happened [often mailed from Regina]. Some letters are written when Patrick was physically sitting in the Legislative Chambers waiting for events to unfold there. These are usually on embossed North West Territory Legislative stationery.
Three themes run through the archive:

  • Significant political matters and events surrounding the period when Patrick served in the North West Territories Legislature
  • Historical events on the Prairies
  • Issues relating to a lack of infrastructure and a changing societal and political landscape due to heavy immigration into the
    Prairies.
  • Life on the Prairies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
  • The close personal relationship and related family matters between two early pioneers in Saskatchewan
    Topics covered include: medical, legislative matters, Indians and half-breeds, railway events, life in Saltcoats and Regina, Saskatchewan, land investments, illnesses on the prairies, people (Clifford Sifton and Frederick Haultain) and related topics, immigration, Mennonites, Hungarians, Doukhobors, infrastructure, visiting patients, and much more.

Patrick, Thomas Alfred

1890, Jan 31 – Letter to Alf

Place: Byron, Ontario

From: Marion [Griffith]

To: Alf / T.A. Patrick M.D., Saltcoats, Assiniboia, N.W.T.

Delivery: Canada Post, postmarked

Details: 8 pp + envelope, banded in black; note on envelope “No. 240;” obituary newspaper clipping for Mr. John Stephens.

Notes: Marion writes to her fiance, Alf [Dr. T.A. Patrick]. Marion describes the funeral arrangements for her grandfather, John Stephens. She repeatedly mentions how tired she feels and how she is suffering from headaches. Marion and her sister, Annie, continue their preparations for moving to Saltcoats, with the encouragement and support of their family.

She mentions that Annie will purchase the wedding ring for Alf and discusses the different shoes that she purchased. She plans to add the moccasins Alf had bought for her to her supply.

Patrick, Marion Griffith

1890, Jan 10 – Letter to Alf

Place: Byron [Ontario]

From: Marion [Griffith]

To: Alf / T.A. Patrick, M.D., Saltcoats, Assiniboia, N.W.T.

Delivery: Canada Post, postmarked

Details: 10 pp + envelope, note on envelope “No. 236”

Notes: Marion writes to her fiance, Alf [Dr. Thomas A. Patrick]. Her Grandpa is doing poorly. He surprised Marion by giving her and her sister Annie a gift of $175.00 the morning after speaking with his doctor. She finishes writing the letter while in Strathroy. She received Alf's photograph and is surprised that he grew a moustache. Marion and Annie continue to make plans to move to Saltcoats in the near future.

Patrick, Marion Griffith

1889, August 25 - Letter to Alf

Place: Byron, Ontario

From: Miss Marion Griffith

To: Alf/ T.A. Patrick, M. D. Saltcoats, Assiniboia, N. W. T

Delivery: Canada Post, postmarked

Details: 8 pp + envelope, note on envelope "214," red wax seal

Notes: Marion writes to her fiance about her worry regarding her church choir's singing, which she though "did not sound well." She writes, "I really hope it did not sound as badly to the congregation as it did to me." She then tells Alf that she would be happy to pick out clothes for him and she hopes that she will "choose material to suit [him]." Marion encourages Alf in his efforts in Saltcoats, telling him that "do not even think of getting discourage Alf." She continues, "you can keep house almost as cheaply as you can board" but she warns him, "you know I am to assist furnishing our house." She then agrees that Alf must take the exam that he mentioned in his last letter although it "will be quite an expense, but a necessary one."

1889, Dec 14 – Letter to Alf

Place: Byron [Ontario]

From: Marion [Griffith]

To: Alf / T.A. Patrick, M.D., Saltcoats, Assiniboia, N.W.T.

Delivery: Canada Post, postmarked

Details: 12 pp + envelope, note on envelope “No. 232,” green wax seal

Notes: Marion writes her weekly letter to her fiance, Alf [Dr. Thomas A. Patrick]. Marion shares the progress she and her sister Annie are making in preparing for Marion's marriage to Alf and both sisters moving to Saltcoats. Marion's family does not know that Annie plans on accompanying her. Annie ran into Alf's brother Rick at the drugstore in London, ON where he works. Financial matters take up a large part of the letter, with Marion sharing Alf's worry over financial security, while also offering him encouragement. Annie and Marion are pleased with their growing herd of sheep, but Marion worries that she will have to sell them soon for the cash. Marion tells of trouble in the church parish, which distresses her especially as her father is one of the causes. She is also dismayed that her father appears to make no effort to repay a loan to her Grandpa. She closes the letter wondering when she should tell her Grandpa that she is leaving, and she wishes Alf a Merry Xmas. In a postscript, she worries about both her and Annie leaving their mother when their Grandpa's health is so poor.

Patrick, Marion Griffith

1889, Dec 20 – Letter to Alf

Place: Byron, Ontario

From: Marion [Griffith]

To: Alf / T.A. Patrick, M.D., Saltcoats, Assiniboia, N.W.T.

Delivery: Canada Post, postmarked

Details: 8 pp + envelope, note on envelope “No. 233”

Notes: Marion writes to her fiance, Alf [Dr. Thomas A. Patrick]. She has been busy in preparations for Christmas. Alf's parents invited her and her sister Annie to spend Xmas [Christmas] evening with them and a few friends. She is pleased and surprised to be invited, although she worries that they will be an imposition as they are unable to arrange a ride home for themselves. Marion anticipates talking with Alf's brother Rick, as they get along well. Marion tells of how pleased Annie was to receive her own letter from Alf, which also pleases Marion. Writing later, Marion tells of how she stayed at home with her Grandpa rather than attending evening church service. He is very lonely and she is glad to play for him and read aloud to him.

Marion received an early Christmas gift from Annie: a cup and saucer for her and a moustache cup for Alf. Marion "was surprised when I saw the cups as it was decided we would do without presents ourselves in order to have a family photograph during the holidays." Marion wishes Alf a belated birthday, a Merry Xmas, and Happy New Year. In a postscript she writes that she has no objections to Alf's cousin travelling to Birtle [Manitoba] to be a witness at their wedding.

Patrick, Marion Griffith

1890, Jan 27 – Letter to Alf

Place: Byron [Ontario]

From: Marion [Griffith]

To: Alf / T. A. Patrick, M.D., Saltcoats, Assiniboia, N.W.T.

Delivery: Canada Post, postmarked

Details: 4 pp + envelope; note on envelope “No. 239,” envelope is bordered in black

Notes: Marion writes to her fiance, Alf. Her Grandpa died at 3 p.m. She describes it as a relief as he suffered so much.

As Alf asked to set their wedding date as Saturday, February 22 in his letter, Marion explains that it is too soon for her to be ready to travel to Birtle and Saltcoats. She asks Alf if February 28th would work as a compromise.

Patrick, Marion Griffith

1890, Feb 8 – Letter to Alf

Place: Byron, Ontario

From: Marion [Griffith] and M.J. Griffith

To: Alf / T.A. Patrick M.D., Saltcoats, Assiniboia, N.W.T.

Delivery: Canada Post, postmarked

Details: 8 pp + envelope banded in black; note on envelope “No. 241;” and a page banded in black

Notes: Marion writes to her fiance, Alf [Dr. T.A. Patrick]. She is recovering after being ill for several days. She is otherwise making progress on the packing to move to Saltcoats and marry Alf.

A second item in the envelope is a sheet of lined paper, folded in half, first page banded in black. It is a letter from Marion's mother, Mrs. M.J. Griffith, to her soon-to-be son-in-law. She and her husband, James, give their blessing to the upcoming marriage.

Patrick, Marion Griffith

1890, Jan 18 – Letter to Alf

Place: Byron, Ont.

From: Marion [Griffith]

To: Alf / T. A. Patrick, M.D., Saltcoats, Assiniboia, N.W.T.

Delivery: Canada Post, postmarked

Details: 4 pp + envelope; note on envelope “No. 237”

Notes: In her weekly letter to her fiance, Alf, Marion gives an account of her grandfather's rapid decline in health. Numerous family members come and go to take shifts and sit with him as he suffers through worsening "bad spells." Dr. Woodruff can do nothing more for his patient. Reverend Evans Davis is sent for. Marion writes, "I understand now Alf why it is best that we did not go to Saltcoats sooner. All is for the best, but we cannot think so sometimes." She finishes the letter, "Yours in sorrow, Marion."

Patrick, Marion Griffith