May 28th, 1943

May 28th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Well I received your letter to-day at dinner time so I thought I better answer it so here goes. I’m glad yous are all okay and well and I hope Daddy gets better pretty soon

I don’t think you would like to taste the dinners I cooked. The only reason I ate it was because I was hungry, although it wasn’t too bad. My boy friends and I had some pictures taken about 3 weeks ago and a few turned out so I’ll send you one. Don’t laugh too much because we were feeling pretty good. Show it to Marg and if it’s alright with you, let her have it then maybe she will send me one of herself.

We finally got out of quarantine last night and soon as we did they got us to work. That’s the trouble with this place, you are on duty 24 hours a day, but tomorrow is Saturday and we only have a half a day so we are going downtown and will have some more pictures taken then I’ll send you some.

Well I can’t think of anything else to say except write soon or sooner.

Lots of love to the best mother in the world.
The East End Kid

See yous soon in July.

May 27th, 1943

May 27th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know I am okay and getting along swell except a bit lonesome, I’ve forgot what everybody looks like but it won’t be long now. Two days ago I found out that I won’t be home until my furlough is due. I met a fellow who lives a couple doors from Ted and he was all through and getting ready to go home this Sat. then they told him that he had to wait until his furlough comes up. I feel sorry for him because he was all ready to go home.

We just now got back from a two day scheme. I can’t tell you what we did but I had fun. If it was like that all the time I wouldn’t mind being away. I don’t know if I will be able to mail this letter tonight because I’m broke and have to bum a couple of stamps. I was expecting some money from home because you said you would send me five dollars every other week but it didn’t come.

How is Pork, Ray, and Sweetipie? Does she still go to school regularly? I don’t know how to spell that word, but I guess it will do. Tell her I’ll be home for her birthday even if I have to give the C.O. a million dollars to get leave. How did Ray’s leg turn out, I hope it’s okay by now.

Marg hasn’t sent me a picture yet, she better hurry up or I’ll get mad…no, I don’t think I could ever get mad at her again.

How is the big sister getting along anyways, still working hard? Tell her I said thanks for all the letters and parcels she sent me. Tell her to tell Jean H. I was asking about her and hope she’s still being true to me. How is Ted getting along? Is he still around or has he left, he hasn’t wrote to me yet.

Well, I can’t think of anything else to say expect write soon or sooner.

Lots of love to the best mother in the world.
The East End Kid

May 19th, 1943

May 19th, 1943

Dear Mom  + Dad

Just a few lines to let you know I got you letter. I got lots to tell you so I’ll start now. On Monday our whole Bty. went to a funeral. Two fellows in our Bty. drowned so they held a funeral for them before they went home to their parents. It was a real nice funeral. I marched in it for about a quarter of a mile.  They had a big band, and seven rifles. When they took them out of the army trucks, they fired three volleys, 21 shots over their caskets. They had all soldiers lined up on each side of the road at attention while we marched past.

The next day we went out on a route march and had to cook our own dinner. We were supposed to be gone just for the morning but the truck was late bringing out our dinner, so we started to dig in the sand for clams and got a lot of them. Then he formed us up in five to a group and we had to build our own fire and boil our own clams. Well when they were done I ate three and that was enough so I went and laid down on the sand and went to sleep. You should see my sunburn, is it ever sore.  Well about 2:30 the truck came with our eats, raw steak, potatoes, and onions. Well I cooked mine, at least I think I did. It tasted alright then I went back to sleep. We got back to camp at five to five, just in time for supper but I was so tired I didn’t go, but it sure was fun. I’d like to do it every day.

You can tell Marg all this if you want because I ain’t going to write to her till she answers my 4letters I wrote over the weekend.

Now comes the best news, like H—. One of the fellows in our hut got Scarlet fever today and we’re CB right in our hut, can’t go to the canteen and we even have to eat at different hours. Last night I bought a ticket to go and get my picture taken like the one you got in the frame, the big one. I was going to send it to Marg, but now I can’t go for ten days then after that I only got 18 more days to go before I’m through.

Tell Sweetipie I dream of her every night. Does she still play hooky from school? Tell her I won’t give her that piggy back if she does and it won’t be very long now (I hope). Tell Ray I’m glad he got his cast off and to take care of himself. I bet he would like to see this place. The only thing is it’s too darn far from home, good old Toronto.

I’m pretty proud of my moustache.  I’m going to grow one all the time. It’s real good when you go on a route march when you get hot and sweating all you have to do is put your tongue on it and there’s some water on it from washing in the morning.

I’ll bet Marg looks swell in her new suit. I wish she would send me a picture. I’ve forgotten what she looks like.

Gosh my arm is getting tired from writing. My boy friend’s girlfriend just wrote to him to-day and said she was sorry for what she did and wants to know if he will forgive her. She wrote a line to me to, I’m doing pretty good.

Well this is the longest letter I’ve wrote yet. I can’t think of anything else except write soon or sooner.

To the best mother in the world,
The East End Kid

May 14th, 1943

May 14th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know I am still alive and kicking and feel in the best of spirits. Maybe it was because yesterday was payday. Well how is everybody at home, fine I hope. How did Ray’s leg turn out, write and let me know.

Right now I am doing nothing so I thought I would drop you a line. I got a letter from Hilda H. today and was I surprised. I wrote to her but I didn’t think she would answer, but she did. I get lots of mail, from you, daddy, Bin, Marg, Edie, Hilda, not bad, eh? I guess you don’t  remember Hilda but I do. She is a very nice girl. I seen her that last leave I had at home. Very, very nice girl. But don’t tell Marg though. That last letter I wrote to Daddy in your letter, tell him it’s not so hard to get a strip either, all you have to do is work a little harder and that’s what  I’m doing. I’ll get ones if I have to die trying, but I won’t give up and if I do  I’ll apply for a course at Long Brach and I got a good chance for it.

I hope you don’t mind the writing because my boy friend is sitting on my bed shining his boots. I  hope you don’t forget the little favour I asked you about  those pictures. Tell Bin there is one record I want to have when I get home and that is Please Think of Me Dear. She will know what it is.

Is it alright if I bring my boy friend home with me when I come? Gosh, here is another weekend, is the time ever flying. I’ll be home before you can count to ten.

Well that’s  all for to-day but if my stamps last I’ll write every night, they may not be very long letters, but I’ll write.

Lots of love to the best mother in the world.
The East End Kid

Shannan’s Note – I have no idea what Gord means when  he mentions getting “a strip” in this letter and the last… Google is failing me, so please comment if you’ve any idea… The way he phrases it above makes me think it might be some sort of commendation, but I’m not sure.

I think that when Gord mentions “Please Think of Me Dear” he means Each Night at Nine,  written by Floyd Tillman, and performed below by Willie Nelson – it’s the only song I could find with that line/title that lines up…  It’s pretty beautiful, but I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Willie Nelson.

A thousand miles dear, a thousand more
Across the water, across the shore
I’ll say a prayer, dear for yours and mine
Please think of me, dear each night at nine

I hold your picture close to my heart
It takes your place, dear while we’re apart
Helps remind me that you’re still mine
To feel your nearness night at nine

The bugle’s playing out go the lights
Even it’s lonely, these army nights
Go tell kids I’m doing fine
Give them my love, dear each night at nine

A thousand miles dear
I’ll say a prayer dear for yours and mine
Please think of me dear each night at nine

May, 11th 1943

May, 11th 1943

Dear Mom + Dad,

This is the second air mail letter I’ve got from you, I don’t know what is wrong with the mail because I write every other night to you Marg + Edie. I’m sorry about Mothers Day, I’ll tell you what happened my boyfriend and I put our money together to telegraph you and his mother some flowers. We had $12 when we got downtown we couldn’t find the $10 and were left with only $2 boy were we mad, so we went and called for this guy we knew, and he went and got 4 girls that he knew and we went for a ride in his car. I had a nice time but these girls could sing and that got us lonesome, don’t tell Marg. If you have very many stamps you can send me some that’s about the only thing that I never have. I haven’t sent the watch yet because I have nothing to put it in but I’ll find something and send it so it will be fixed for when I get home.

Tell Sweetipie not to forget to be at the station that day I said I’d be home and I’ll carry her all the way home Marg too (like H- – -). I have forgotten what Toronto looks like, I’ll bet it is  nice there now. Demps came over at dinner time and asked me to go up to the post office with him so I went up and he got a nice big parcel so I help him eat it.  I hope Ray’s leg turns out alright let me know how it turns out and don’t forget that favour I asked you to do, those pictures. You should see my moustache I  have to clip it with the scissors now I think it looks alright, but Marg won’t like it  but I’ll keep it till I come home and I bet yous won’t know me when I get home. I’ll get off the train and walk right past yous and speak and you won’t know it’s me. I have been away over a month now, the longest I’ve ever been away. I would like to buy an engagement ring, what do you think, I hope you don’t mind.

Well that’s all I can think of for now.
Lots of love to the best mother in the world.


Hello Dad,

Well, I don’t know about coming home with a strip because they are the hardest things to get, at least I think so. Well, I hope you get better pretty soon because I know how you like being home sick. Boy are my legs ever sore. I don’t know what’s wrong so I go to the MD and he says all I need it a bit of exercise, but we take P.T. every day.

I can’t talk about anything down here but they sure do make an awful lot of noise. The guy we got   down here that has the same job you had at Petawa sure has it easy, how do you get such a soft job?

Write again,
The East End Kid

May 7th, 1943

May 7th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Just a few lines to let yous know I am fine and feeling right in the pink. I got two letters from you, one with five bucks that was real nice, one from Bin and one from Edie. I’ve been waiting for that letter ever since I joined up way the first of January.

Yes I got the $1.00 + stamps you sent a while ago. They came in rea handy. I am having lots of fun here, it’s getting better every day and the time is going real fast. I’ll be home a lot sooner than I thought I would for fourteen days. I can hardly believe it, some fun I’m going to have. I met another fellow here from Toronto, he lives just at Broadview and Dundas, another real swell fellow, lots of fun.

Ted hasn’t wrote yet but I’ll give him one more week. If you send me his address, I’ll write to him. He ought to be coming here pretty soon, so I guess I’ll see him soon. It will be just like being at home to meet up with him. We should have lots of fun, him and my boy friends because they have lots of beer here.

I’m going downtown to see what I can get you for Mother’s Day. It may be a couple of days late, but better late than never, so be looking for something about Monday or Tuesday.

Don’t tell Marg  I got a  letter from Edie, and will you do me a favour and get a camera and get Marg’s picture taken? Three or four  of them because I haven’t  got any, I’ve asked Marg so many times that I ran out of breath so please do me that little favour. Get Sweetipie’s and Ray’s and send them too, I got pictures of everybody else. Right now there’s a [word unknown] going nuts here, he’s going on  furlough to-morrow. Maybe I’ll beat him up and take it off him. No, I don’t think I will because mine is coming in a better month.

Well, I think I’ll break off and press my uniform. I’ll be back in a minute. I got to be ready to go out on my weekend to-morrow. We’re going to sleep at the YMCA and are going to have fun. Well, I just got through with my uniform. Pretty good too, even if I do say so myself.

I don’t see Demps very often now. Did I tell you we were separated again? He’s in a different btry. than I am. We only work like a half a day to-morrow, gosh the weeks are just rolling by. I am just lying in my bed writing everything that comes to mind just so I can write a nice long letter. Tell Mill I’ll write a letter to her on Sunday night.

Well I can’t think of anything else to say except please write soon.

To the best mother in the world a son could have.
The East End Kid

May 4th, 1943

May 4th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Well here goes again, every night for the last week I’ve wrote. I’ve been getting lots of mail lately, I got one from you and one from Marg to-day. I’m glad Ray’s home and I bet he’s glad he can get back to school.

Well I get a weekend this week and I don’t know what to do except go to Earl’s for supper on Sunday.

Well I’m getting along swell except my boy friend he got a letter from his girlfriend saying she was through with him and was engaged to another guy. I feel sorry for him, he’s going around with a long face now.

I just got a haircut, the first since I left Brampton and does it ever feel funny. I hope you and Marg keep sending me lots of mail because it helps keep up my morale.

We have got a nice lunch of BDR’s just like the ones at Brampton.

It seems funny calling Earl by his first name when everybody else says sir.

Well I can’t think of anything else to say except keep writing lots of letters.

Lots of love
The East End Kid

May 4

May 2nd, 1943

May 2nd, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Well I just got three letters yesterday, the first for a long time, I don’t know what’s wrong with the mail because I’ve wrote five letters. I was wondering why yous did not write.

On Saturday my boy friend and I went down to look for Earl and after two hours we found him. He didn’t even know my name, but he was awful glad to see me. He invited me and my boy friend to supper next Sunday. He has a very nice wife, nice looking too, but the sailors have all the luck. He was in a nice little house with hardwood floors, nice, place. He has been away for so long he doesn’t know anybody’s name. He didn’t even know Ted was overseas.

Tell Ray I hope he soon gets home. He has been away longer than I have and I’d like to get home but if I get lots of mail I don’t mind so much.

You can send me as much as you can spare out of the cheque, but if you need it keep it.

I broke my watch about a week ago, I can’t  tell you how, so I’ll send it home to get fixed because I took it in down here and they said it would take six weeks and I haven’t got that long. I’ll  be home before that I hope, hope, hope.

What’s wrong with Marg, has she found someone new? I haven’t got a letter for over a week and I just sent her two.

I couldn’t go downtown to send you an Easter Telegram but Mother’s Day is the 14th of May.

Tell Daddy I like it here, but I miss yous all. I guess when I get back to Toronto I’ll get lost so yous will have to meet me at the station or I’ll never get home.

I wrote to Edie when I first come here, but she hasn’t answered so tell Pork to phone her up and ask why she has not wrote, he’ll like that RA 5925.

Where is all the letters and parcels Bin and you were going to send? Bin said she was going to write every night. Tell her if she don’t write, I’ll come home and giver her H—. Tell Bill he was lucky he didn’t get in the Artillery. It’s no good for me, it’s too much brain work.

How did you like that poem I sent yous about Halifax, pretty good un?Too bad Jose went back to Lindsay but write and do tell her to be there when I come home.

Well can’t think of anything else to say expect write soon or sooner.

Lots of love to the best mother in the world
The East End Kid

[Shannan’s Note – Glad to hear Gord in better spirits than the last letter! I’m not entirely sure what RA 5925 means, or how it fits into that sentance… Google searches have come back with nothing, but I’ll keep digging around in the paperwork, perhaps there’s something in the bits and pieces. I’m also not sure who Earl is. The way Gord speaks of him sure makes him sound like family, but I haven’t seen the name in any of the work I have been doing. Ted is my grandfather, and Gord’s letter suggests that Earl and Ted knew one another, so perhaps  a relation there? Another mystery for the stack, I suppose.. ]

April 24th, 1943

April 24th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Just a few lines in answer to your letter that I just received and was I glad. I was broke and that $1.50 came in real handy. I got a letter from you, Bin, and Marg and was I glad. If yous ever have any extra money or stamps, please send them as I sure could use either one.

How did Ray’s cast turn out? Fine I hope. Is he home yet?

Tell Sweetipie to be at the Union station on July the 2nd and I’ll give her a piggy back all the way home.

Don’t worry about me as I’m having lots of fun and getting along well. Tell Ted to write and give me his address as I’d like to write to him.

You say Bessie say Halifax is a lovely place, well I’ll tell you everything there is.


Somewhere near Halifax
Wilderness brush and sand
Where breeze and poison may be sought
Are found on water and land

You can’t go to the movies
The town is far away
You start to drill at daybreak
And drill to close of day

God could have worked another day
And spent it here quite well
I guess he felt a place like this
To show us part of Hell

The sand here is ten feet deep
The sun is scorching hot
The call it the eastern passage
The place the lord forgot


I got your cigs to-day and was I ever glad, I sure did need them. The address on this letter is my new address, so don’t forget to write it instead of the other one or I won’t get any mail at all.

If you or Dad or Bin have any spare cigs, stamps, or money please send them I sure can use them. This is Saturday afternoon, our day off. Right now I am just lying in bed writing this letter, I guess I’ll write till I run out of stamps and that won’t be very long as I only got two stamps left.


Hello Bin,

Well how is the big sister and all the rest? Where is all those cigs and parcels you  were supposed to send me – still waiting. Tell Jean Howie I was asking about her and all the rest. The carb you sent me won’t do any good because we’re all C.B. for 21 days because of Scarlet Fever, 6 guys have gone out of the hut with it.

Well that’s it for to-day.

Lots of love to
Mom xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Dad xxxxxxxx
You xxxxxxx
Marg xxxxxxxxxxx

[Shannan’s Note – Some Googling suggests that Gord’s Halifax poem is in fact an original. As mentioned earlier, Gord’s views during this time were all his own, so please don’t take offense if there are any local Halifax folks reading…]

April 16th, 1943

April 16th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Just a few lines to let yous know I arrived safe and sound and very tired but it was a swell ride. I can’t say anything about the camp except that it’s a swell place. I’ve met all the guys I used to know at the Horse Palace. Demps and I are to-gether again for good I guess. Find out Earls address and I can drop in and see him.

If you have any spare old dollar bills lying around send them I can always use them. Take Demps letter to his mother and ask Marg to drop me a line as I’d like lots of mail.

Well that’s all for to-day. Write again to-morrow. Lots of love

Your son
The East End Kid

Be home soon I hope.


[Shannan’s Note – Gord mentions a place called the Horse Palace in this letter. For those of you that aren’t native Torontonians, you’re probably left wondering if we really see our horses as royalty, worthy of a Palace for a home… Although incredible creatures, yes, the Horse Palace isn’t exactly a Palace in the usual sense of the word. Built in 1931 and once thought of as one of the best equestrian facilities in Canada, the Horse Palace is one of many buildings that make up the entire grounds of Toronto’s Exhibition Place. I will spare you the full history of the grounds themselves, but they are best known as the home to the beloved summer fair, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), affectionately known as The Ex to us locals. The Ex started in August 1879, and aside from 5 war-era years, has been a Canadian tradition ever since.

From 1942 – 1946, the CNE would not be held. The Exhibition Place grounds (including the Horse Palace) were turned over to our Department of National Defence to provide a core training ground for soldiers. In 1945, after the war ended, Exhibition Place was converted from training grounds into a demobilization centre to help integrate returning soldiers back into society. The grounds were turned back over to the city in late summer 1946, but with too little  time left to plan the annual fair, The Ex would begin again in 1947.

Today, the Horse Palace is actually home to horses that may well be royalty after all, Toronto’s much loved Mounted Police Unit have been the main tenants since the late 1960’s and on any given day you can walk by the Horse Palace and see the officers and their four legged partners heading out for duty.]