The Letters of Pansy Machon Hawkins
''There are seven warships out in the gulf today, not far off shore. They are on the lookout for German subs. The Airplanes goes ahead of our two car ferry boats, every trip they make so you see that even our little Island is in danger, if they got our car ferry boat, then the Island would be cut off from the mainland.''
The other lady is Pansy Machon Hawkins of Guernsey Cove, and we were lucky to stumble upon her letters to her niece on the Island Register website. Her letters go from 1921 to 1963, and go through many changes in her life. This collection of letters was one of the first things we found when looking into the history of Murray Harbour, and they proved to be an incredible find. Pansy was a descendant of the Machons who came to PEI from the Island of Guernsey in 1806. Her niece, Mary Mashon Job, lived in Dorothy Alberta. The two women had never met; Pansy’s half-brother (Mary’s father) left PEI when Pansy was very young, and Mary was not born yet.
Pansy’s letters document her life on a farm in Guernsey Cove, but they show us so much more than just her everyday life. They talk about the life of the whole community, in a time when schools were moving out of small communities and into bigger ones. They touch on the social changes that were happening from the 1920’s to the 60’s, as Canada became a country of social programs and universal health care. They illustrate the technological changes that Pansy saw in her lifetime, the modernization of her small farm and the market for farm products. They talk about universal struggles with life and death, and the very private struggles of being a woman who couldn’t have children in a time when that was one of the primary roles of women’s lives. And they show us the story of a family, and two women who were closely tied, even though they would never meet.
The letters are housed as PDF's in the digital collection, and are loosely grouped into the four decades that they were written in: