The Cyples Family
What went wrong with the instructions given by L.J. was anyone's guess, as things didn't work out as planned.
Whether contact with him could not be made or he had forgotten, who knows. It was two in the morning of 23rd December 1947 and we had arrived in Vancouver, at last. There was no L.J. to meet us, no ferry operating at that time in the morning and we had still got to cross to North Vancouver, to our new home. There was no alternative but to hail a taxi. We were totally in his hands and at his "mercy", so to speak. He proceeded to North Vancouver via the Lion's Gate Bridge, thus eliminating the ferry. As we approached our destination the cab driver turned on a kind of search light (attached to the side of his vehicle) so that we could pick out the numbers on the houses that we were driving past.
Surely enough number 207, West 3rd St. was found. It was a dark brown sombre looking building of some two storeys. We did as we were told and entered the building and knocked on the appropriate door. After a couple of minutes L. J. appeared at the door wearing his night-shirt and looking like something out of a Dickens novel!
What a shock in more ways than one! The four- roomed suite turned out to be one large room partitioned off to provide four smaller areas. The partitions did not reach the ceiling so there was to be no real privacy at all. The kitchen come living space was the largest of the "rooms". Two small sleeping areas took up most of the remaining space, and a hallway complete with a tiny divan formed the third bedroom! Two of the rooms were curtained off from the kitchen space but the other remaining room had the added luxury of a door. L.J. had the small bedroom off the kitchen. I had the hall while my parents had the "proper" room! The place looked awful in the dim electric light but in the morning light, it was even worse.
Cobwebs hung from the ceiling and mouse dirt was found in the beds. The furniture was quite plain and simple. In the general living space there was a table, a couple of large rocking chairs, a number of dining chairs and a cooking range. The table was fairly large and had two peculiar metal-lined drawers that were like hoppers, containing flour and porridge, which L.J. called "mush". This didn't look very appetising but tasted quite good when served steaming hot, with soft brown sugar.
The range was fuelled by sawdust, just as L.J. had said. It was a fairly large affair, all black and made of metal. There were numerous "rings" that could be lifted off to reveal the hot embers burning in the body of the thing. The sawdust was contained in a hopper attached to one side of the range. The fuel was tipped into this hopper from time to time, as and when it was required. As the sawdust burnt it was replaced, by gravity, from the hopper. If there wasn't a constant supply the fire would go out. There were occasions too, when the fire actually burnt inside the hopper, instead of in the lower part of the range and when this happened, it was necessary to poke it down and get it burning in the stove again. The hot water was provided by the range, as was the central heating in some cases, but not in L.J.'s suite!
There were no "on suite" facilities. The toilet (and shower cubicle) was located in the basement. These facilities were little more than adequate, but after all they were in-doors. As the basement was frequented by rats, my mother did not enjoy using them, unless either my father or myself stood on guard, just outside, to warn off the offending creatures. Life in the "New World" was to be very different from life back home ------no spotless, cosy, pleasantly furnished end terrace. In its place the crude substitute of the "four-roomed suite" complete with added guests!