Sam’s father was killed in India so he spent his boyhood with his uncle on a farm in Galloway. (This is an area in southern Scotland where our great-great-great grandfather David Vance was born.)
As a young man Sam attended Oxford and had big dreams of earning his living, but when he went job-hunting, he found no one hiring. So he did the only thing he could think of at the time: he enlisted in the army and was sent off to fight in the Boer War.
He made it back alive, but then what to do? A lot of homecoming soldiers were looking for jobs. One evening he sat down with his uncle in their parlour discussing his future and Sam told his uncle that he was thinking of going to Canada. After all, everyone was saying it was a land of unlimited opportunity to brave souls not afraid to work.
“Good man,” his uncle boomed. “Couldn’t do better!” He’d been over there for a few years himself in his younger days and had some fond memories of those wide open spaces.
He told Sam there just wasn’t much future in Great Britain anymore; he believed the struggle between capital and labor would eventually drag England down economically and a lot of people would be forced to see a livelihood elsewhere.
“Yes, emigrate. Excellent idea!” Uncle pounded his cane on the floor enthusiastically. “You’re a lad with good stuff in you — and a lad like that can do well in Canada. You go ahead with that plan and I’ll come over to visit you when you become a successful farmer with fields of wheat and herds of cattle!”
Sam’s courage perked up considerably as he envisioned the vast holdings he might someday have. So he asked his uncle more about Canada and Uncle supplied him with a lot of information, things he remembered from living over there.
“There are two things I won’t tell you about Canada, though,” Uncle added. “The winter and the mosquitoes.”
So Sam collected his belongings and booked his passage over to the new world, then took the train out West and worked for a rancher. It didn’t take him more than a couple of years before he understood just why his uncle had withheld that information.
(I’ve called him Sam; his name wasn’t revealed in the account.)
Comments about Mosquitoes – In the pioneer days they had bear grease and citronella oil for mosquitoes, neither of which was very effective.
The best advice for mosquitoes is to wear light-colored clothing. Leave your dark jeans, black hoodie and cap at home and select light colors. You may still have a mosquito problem but the color of your clothing does make a difference. Pull your socks over your pant legs so mosquitoes and black flies can’t crawl up your legs and wear a long-sleeved shirt. I sometimes wear a light cotton scarf around my neck if the bugs are thick.
Last summer or neighbor Brad took his large black dog for a walk and the poor dog was a walking cloud of mosquitoes, even with mosquito spray. Other dogs in the neighborhood, with light colored hair, did not suffer as badly.