The letters from Val Cartier are written by a 10 year old filled with enthusiasm and adventure. Reading them is to have an intimate glimpse of what army training was like at that time. The men had no uniforms, no weapons, no military preparedness. The camp was filled with thousands of Canadians from all walks of life who had to be outfitted, trained and prepared. Whoever was in charge of stationary was worked hard. The post cards and letter cards are remarkable, but boots for marching didn’t exist. Feet and blisters were a major problem.
Hugh’s letters to his family are heart warming and his ability to communicate, to tease, to share and think about home, is endearing. Each letter is somewhat dog eared from being so well read and reread and it is a miracle that they exist. The scrapbook is a handmade affair with odd pages, odd paper, bits of canvas sewn and glued together. The collection of memorabilia is not chronological but happily stuck and stitched in a most fascinating manner. One can almost feel the mother devoting love and hours to create what could be the final chapter of the life of her first born son. She was no stranger to war.
Hugh joined the Signal Corps. The letters describe the process of signalling and its complicated demands. Nowadays it is hard to comprehend that armies could only communicate with flags, runners and field telephone using wires run along the ground.