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An Archival Moment: A thoughtful note

December 3, 2015
Source: Crossroads

The text from this remarkable letter reads:

Sept 6th

Dear Scarf –

It is just one year and three months today since Mr. Dunsmuir was taken and I am enclosing this cheque for you – I want you to know I fully appreciate your faithful service to him as well as to one. I hope you do right to Mary as well as to yourself and now get a job to your liking.

Yours always sincerely,

L. Dunsmuir

As the note says, James Dunsmuir had died just over a year before this was written in September of 1921. Oscar Scarf was a master mariner who had captained James’ tug boat “Pilot” from 1903 to 1910. The 1921 census places him in Cowichan where he was again working for the Dunsmuirs as a caretaker at the Dunsmuir hunting and fishing lodge. It is quite possible that Oscar was present when James died there on June 6, 1920. He was also one of the pallbearer's at James' funeral. Laura Dunsmuir’s kindness and consideration for staff is well known, and this note exemplifies that.

Mary, referred to in the letter, is the grandmother of a recent visitor to RRU. Mary came to live at Hatley Park in 1919 when she was 12 as the adopted daughter of Oscar and Martha Scarf, both employees of the Dunsmuirs. She later went to work for Mrs. Butchart and her father went on to move mail and passengers between Tod Inlet and Bamberton on his boat, "Mary S." Hopefully this job was indeed to his liking, as Laura wished for him.

If you have stories to share, know someone who does, or would like to know more about the archives, please contact me at extension 4122, or by email.

Jenny Seeman

Image credit: Linda Boon Collection for Mary Alice Taggart Scarf