Noah Clement Draper and his wife, Ethel Isabell Nelson, lived on a farm at Adams, Saskatchewan, but were known to leave the cold prairie winters and spend the off-season with their families in North Gwillimbury Township, York County, Ontario.
So when Noah joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) in Toronto, we know Ethel and the kids are either with her parents near Belhaven, or his relatives in the Keswick area, which must have eased his mind somewhat.
This first letter is dated two weeks after Noah joined the RCNVR so we're right there at the start of his journey. The letters will all follow a similar format with the information first, then one page of the actual letter, my transcription of that page, the next actual page, and so on. This enables those who cannot read handwriting to know what is written. Please remember that my transcription will follow exactly as I read what Noah has written, spelling errors, included, and that way we keep the integrity of his writing.
Author of Letter: Noah C Draper, 29 yrs old
Dated: Dec 6/16
Mailed from: Halifax, N.S.
Attached to: HMCS Niobe
Profession: Farmer, Temporary Sailor
Addressed to: Mrs. N.C. Draper, Keswick, Ont.
Writing instrument: Fountain Pen with Black Ink
Writing Paper: Thick, rough standard notepaper of the period. The 10" x 6.5" paper is folded in half and written in booklet form but with the inside page written across the short width and all the way down the length like foolscap. The pages are not numbered.
People (friends and family) mentioned in this letter:
- Mildred aka Midge, 3 yrs old
- James David aka Jay, 6 months (also called JD)
Places/things mentioned in this letter:
- Halifax - historic, protected harbor on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia
- Niobe - HMCS Niobe - a **Depot ship stationed in Halifax
- Petty Officer - Holding a rank below an officer, but above an enlisted sailor
* Look under the Categories/Labels in the right side column for more posts on this
person/place/thing, or use the search box in the header at the top of this page
** see Genealogy Notes below
Halifax, N.S. Dec. 6/16
Mrs. N.C. Draper,
Well I have got this far
on the way but do not know
when we will go on, was
on the Niobe for tea they
have five meals a day here.
breakfast. tea Dinner tea &
supper at 6 don't know what
time we get the other
meals, We arrived here about
3.30 p.m. was met at the
station by a Petty Officer
and taken right on board the
ship and given our hammocks
and showed our place to put
them & then taken to the mess
room & showed our tables there
is 22 at a table so you see we
are not lonely.
There is a draft of 50 men
going over seas Friday but
do not expect we will be among
the number as there is about 75
or a hundred men ahead of us
but I hope so as they do not do
any training here at all and I
do not like to lay around on
the boat doing nothing. the boys
I came with seem very nice
and I hope were sent over
to geather. had to laugh at a
jew they had us lined up at
attention & asked if we wanted
to ask any questions (on the ship)
& we had been there about five
minutes when he walked
up to the officer & said he
was sick & wanted to vomit
he will make a great sailor
Well Ethel I have not much
to tell you but hope to
be able to write longer
letters after a while after
I see something. Kiss the
babies for me every day &
I wish it were possible to do
it my self. Good bye for this
time from your loving husband. N.C.D.
The Niobe was almost lost during the night of July 30-31, 1911 when it ran aground off Cape Sable, Nova Scotia. The damage was extensive and although repairs were completed at the end of 1912, her maximum speed had been permanently reduced.
With the start of World War 1, the Niobe joined the Royal Navy's 4th Cruiser Squadron on contraband patrol off the coast of New York.
17 July 1915 saw the Niobe return to Halifax where she was converted into the Depot ship you see at the top of this post.
On 6 December 1917, exactly one year after Noah wrote the above letter, the upper works of HMCS Niobe was wrecked in the horrific Halifax Explosion. Repaired, she continued to serve until decommissioning in 1920.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Niobe_(1897) (includes links to more)
Update: Thanks going out to Noah's grandson, John W. Draper, for this link... On December 4, 2016 The Chronicle Herald published the article, Blast a Fiery Baptism for Navy Town. The article highlights Tues, December 6, 2016 as the 99th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion and includes links to more informative articles. Also included in the article is an image of the Niobe with this caption, The HMCS Niobe was heavily damaged in the Halifax Explosion, and 26 crew members were killed. The force of the explosion was enough to dislodge the ship’s anchor from the floor of the harbour. (Naval Museum of Halifax).