Woman of the Week, Mrs. Lester Burry, Evening Telegram, 1946, October 19, p.9
The beauties of the Labrador are famed, but it doubtful whether two more enthusiastic boasters of its attractions exist than Rev. and Mrs. Lester Burry, who are staying in St. John’s for the duration of the National Convention, to which Rev. Burry is the Labrador delegate. Mr. Burry is a United Church Missionary.
“It is a different country altogether from Newfoundland,” Mrs. Burry told your reporter. “There is food in abundance. We grow celery, tomatoes, as well as the common kitchen vegetables. There is plenty of game and fish. It’s really amazing how little we have to bring in from the outside world. We can a great many foods, greens, and other vegetables; salmon, duck, venison, geese, so that we have plenty in all seasons. We have home pressure cookers, fifteen pounds to the square inch, and use these for canning. Nature provides a bountiful supply of food. We don’t grow fruit, but we do have berries in abundance, the bakeapples for which the Labrador is well-know, and the partridge berries, which we call the red berries.”
Mrs. Burry recalled reading that there was as much vitamin content in one tablespoon of the Labrador bakeapple as in one orange, so why bring oranges all the way out from California..
Eighteen years ago, Mrs. Burry left her home at St. Anthony, where she met and married Rev. Burry who was stationed there at the time. After spending three years at Little Bay Islands, the couple went to make their home at North West River, on Labrador. She described the settlement “as beautiful, with the white, red-roofed houses of the trappers making a contrast with the green background of foliage.”
“We built the church and parsonage there,” she continued, “and since we have spent the last fifteen years there, it has become part of us. It is home.”
Mrs. Burry interests herself in the usual activities, the Women’s Association, Sunday School, and the L.G.I.T. (Labrador Girls in Training). North West River also has a Girl Guide Company.
Nearly every year, Mrs. Burry accompanies her husband on one of his extensive trips covering his mission, taking several weeks to complete. She travels with him to Cartwright, a distance of three hundred miles or more, and back. Travelling is not easy, as there “is not fifty miles of road in the whole of Newfoundland Labrador.” The trip is made by dogteam in winter, and the reliable “huskies” pull steadily through miles of snowclad wilderness.
“There are only two stations between North West River and Cartwright,” said Mrs. Burry. “We spend the night wherever we must, in tilt, village, or tent. We spend half or more of our nights sheltering in settlers’ homes along the route.” The couple carry a tent, stove, food and sleeping bags, and in these warm and cozy bags they sleep comfortably anywhere.
When she makes these trips, Mrs. Burry stops off at Cartwright while her husband continues on his mission. The women look forward to her visits, but her trip, although pleasurable is not undertaken solely with that aim. Mrs. Burry feels that she can help her husband’s work by going along with him, that, together, they can render more assistance, can make a greater contribution to the social and moral welfare of the people of the mission.
“The women are really clever,” Mrs. Burry said, in admiration. “They do basketry from the natural grass, embroider on deerskin and duffle, and make the most attractive gauntlets and moccasins. The handicrafts are, of course, sponsored by the Grenfell ission [sic], but the people are naturally artistic. Many of the old people handed down exquisite embroideries, which have remained in the family. The women’s organizations do really marvelous work.” In fact, this sort of work is done almost entirely by women, and since the construction of the base, a distance of twenty miles from North West River, remuneration for these handicrafts has increased, and the people have augmented their income a great deal.”
Rev. and Mrs. Burry hope to return to their home as soon as the Convention is over. “The North does something to you,” they say, “and you have to reckon with it.”