to his Mother and Step-Dad
(no date / no envelope)
Valcartier CampDear Mother
Just received your letter a few minutes ago and I am more than pleased to hear such a good report about the Hotel. I expected to hear you say that everything was dirty and that you were sorry you ever left the coast, but I am sure that if you and Pa both like it you will sure make a success of it. Your letter in regards to Aunt Rachie did not surprise me in the least. Ina and Bud are thicker than ever now only they have to meet over at Hessie’s place. You were saying that Hessie seemed kind of distant. Well Mother, she thinks that you don’t like her very much. Ever since that rumour of me getting money from her was around. But as long as you don’t believe it and I am out of rumor distance everything is all right.
There was eight tents, 72 men that were found to be had with lice (1), so the doctor detailed me to fumigate the tents and get rid of them. I lined the men up, made them take their clothing off and burn it. Then I marched every darn one of them straight threw the lines, naked up to the regimental stores and had new clothes issued to them. Some job. All the officers started to laugh when they saw me and a bunch of naked men march up to the store tent. (2) We will be leaving here soon but don’t know where. But will always be able to write a military Post-card.
So V-V has gone to College, well I will write her just as soon as I get some more paper. When I left Winnipeg I was 152 lbs and two days ago I was 199 so your see how fat I have got. This morning we were all up at 4 o’clock and walked about six miles before breakfast. It sure is great exercise for a fellow like me. They feed us just like when I was out on the survey.
They said tonight that it may be Ireland that we go for training but so many rumors you can’t believe anything. Well Mother I have to stop.
Remembrance to Pa and VV when you write.
Hoping this will find you and Pa in good health and spirit.
Two postcard views from Valcartier Training Camp that offer a visual record of what Charley describes in this letter home.
Valcartier - Battalion marching to review
Valcartier - Dinner Time
Footnotes(1) "An important problem of the first years of the war was, therefore, how to circumvent these miseries. Now, though we speak of body-lice, doing so we employ a misnomer. Unlike the itch parasite (of scabies), the habitat and breeding-ground of these lice is not the body but the clothing. It is to the clothes they cling, even when they take their two meals a day of their host's blood, and in the clothes and particularly along the seams that they lay their eggs. Strip off the clothing and forthwith the man is free from the pests." [ Source ]
(2) "Mobilization of the medical services was carried out under the Director General of Medical Services, Colonel G. Carleton Jones. Volunteers concentrated at Toronto and Winnipeg as well as at Valcartier. When all had assembled at Valcartier Camp the British request for Line of Communication units made a general reorganization necessary. Sufficient medical personnel were found in camp to form the required units which, in addition to the three divisional field ambulances, included a casualty clearing station, two stationary hospitals (each of 400 beds), and two general hospitals (1040 beds each). The casualty clearing Station and No. I Stationary Hospital took over from N.P.A.M. (Non Permanent Active Militia) units the operation of the two camp hospitals at Valcartier. Hospital admissions for the whole period until embarkation numbered only 856, for in general the health of the troops was excellent. An order to mobilize nursing sisters was issued on 16 September, and by the end of the month 98 had reported at Quebec, where they were billeted at the Immigration Hospital. Provision of veterinary sections, called for at the last minute by the War Office, was not completed until after the First Contingent had sailed"
[ Source ]
Thanks to JG Keller (and James Stoddart) for the two images from Valcartier Training Camp. http://www.jgkeller.ca