“We had spent a year out in civilization in Vancouver in British Columbia, but were both anxious to get back to the old life, and the prospect of living amongst the natives once again sounded like going back home to us.” (“A Year with a Fur Trader”, Life in the Yukon, 53)
“Part of the waterfront Vancouver, March 1935.”
Yukon Archives: 91/112 #664, PHO 607
“In my own case, on two separate and distinct occasions after my retirement from the Police my wife and I tried to make a home in civilization, but each time the ‘Spell of the Yukon’ proved too strong and we returned north.” (“A Year with a Fur Trader”, Life in the Yukon, 53)
“Stables and portion of Parade-Ground in Vancouver.”
Yukon Archives: 91/112 #666, PHO 607
The first attempt “to make a home in civilization“
(i.e. Vancouver) was in 1935, shortly before Claude’s retirement from the RCMP. There is only one page of one letter to document it, but apparently this sojourn in the city was relatively comfortable. Claude pursued his photography, with a friend he met at the RCMP barracks, and through a photography club he joined. Mary found maintaining their new large apartment somewhat taxing, but perhaps she tended to forget what a chore it was to keep a northern cabin clean without benefit of running water and electricity.
There is a great deal more housework in this new apartment, - but it looks so nice when it has been gone over that I rather enjoy keeping it nice…. The hardest part of the cleaning is the floor, I think. There are yards and yards of polished surface (or supposed to be). There is a great deal of woodwork, too, – and a lot of black soot comes in the windows from the chimneys round about. Everyone who comes to see us seems to like our home, and that is a satisfaction to me. Claude likes it better all the time…(91/112 f. 5, MSS 365)
R.C.M.P. Claude Tidd salutes during the ceremony at which he was decorated with the R.C.M.P. Long Service Medal. Vancouver, 1935.
Yukon Archives: #8531
The Governor General of Canada, Lord Bessborough, and his wife visited Vancouver while the Tidds were there. The Governor General presided over an awards ceremony. “There is to be a ceremony for the presentation of medals to the R.C.M.P. by His Excellency, – and since Claude is one of about only five, to receive one, here, – I think I shall be very proud of him on the occasion. It is a long service and good conduct medal….” (91/112 f. 5, MSS 365)
“Reminder of a few weeks strike duty on Ballantyne Pier, 1935.”
Yukon Archives: 91/112 #668, PHO 607
The urban environment provided myriad new sights and subjects for Claude to photograph. His work during this time demonstrates the vast contrast between their life in Vancouver and life in the Yukon: cityscapes vs. modest town scenes; lush fauna in Stanley Park vs. Mary’s Ross River garden; factories vs. trading posts. Most interesting of all is perhaps the views out their window: in Ross River they glimpsed snow-covered trees, and perhaps Roy Buttle’s store; in Vancouver, streetcars and traffic and King Edward High School.
“Taken from our front window.”
Yukon Archives: 91/112 #661, PHO 607
However much Claude enjoyed the new photographic challenges offered by the city, ultimately life there proved intolerable, and they were back in Mayo by 1936. Then, as we have already seen, they were in Forty Mile for a few years, then back to Vancouver again! This time, Claude worked as a guard at the Dominion Bridge Company Ordnance Plant. But Claude was discontented, as he soon returned to the Yukon and applied for work with the White Pass and Yukon Route Company in Whitehorse, stating that his reason for leaving his previous job was “to better myself.”
Mary joined Claude once he had secured a position as a purser on the company’s steamboats.