The Hayloft

Feature image (2015): Grandpa’s barn doorway which leads to the stairs and the hayloft. Cats and kittens are welcome on the farm. They even have their own ladder and window entry for their safety and convenience.

Are you a fellow boomer who remembers the thrill of playing in the hayloft; climbing up the stacks of bales, jumping off and flying through the air, landing in a pile of prickly hay?

In 1984, a lovely “spinster,” who was my favorite Sunday School teacher and who often shared her treasure of books from her personal library with me, organized and put together a book called Horndean Heritage. I was asked to submit a special memory that reflected our little country pumpkin town.

I chose to write about grandpa’s hayloft…

The Hayloft

“Little Carrie struggled with the heavy barn door, leaning against it, and then pushing with her whole body. Slowly the massive piece of hardwood creaked open, groaning and complaining as if it did not want to be wakened so early in the morning. Carrie wrinkled her freckled nose in distaste as a strong whiff of warm, pungent barn air hit her full in the face. She stepped inside and scampered up the worn, creaky stairs to the hayloft. Ahh! The sweet fragrance of fresh hay greeted her as she reached the top stair.

A beam of bright sunlight streaked across the center of the otherwise dusky room, revealing particles of dust floating lazily. Bales stacked up to sixteen feet high lined the sides of the hayloft, and in the center of the room was a large pile of yellow hay. Carefully, Carrie clambered to the top of a stack of bales and looked down. Even though she had done this many times before, she still hesitated just a little, and her heart still fluttered just a little faster than usual.

Memory of Grandpa’s Hay loft©

Then she jumped. Her body flew downward gracefully. Her stomach took off on a flight of its own, like a bird swooping through the sky. She sucked in a mouthful of air and held it there. Then she hit the yielding prickly mountain of hay and sank deeply into it. Carrie lay there for just a moment, looking high above her at the vast ceiling with its great curved beams.

A few seconds of leisure and the itch became unbearable. Carrie scrambled out of the hay and began picking the straw off her body. It always seemed to find its way under her shirt and behind her trousers, in her hair and even in her socks. She brushed the last straws from her hair and stuck one in her mouth, thinking how much it tasted like the chamomile tea her mother often gave her before bedtime.

Carrie turned towards the open loft door when suddenly she tripped over a very irate brown and white speckled laying hen. She squawked and screeched and flapped her wings wildly, as she scurried away in fear, or perhaps exasperation and anger at all the commotion. Carrie was rather frightened herself and let out a surprised yell as she stumbled to the floor.

Then she saw the eggs. Carefully she slipped one into each pocket of her trousers, thinking how pleased Grandma would be when she gave them to her. Carrie looked out the loft door and waved to her grandfather who was feeding the pigs. He waved back and smiled, telling her not to come to close to the edge and to be careful.

Hayloft door where Carrie would sit and hang her feet off the edge ©

Here was the place Carrie liked best when she wanted to be alone. She would sit and dangle her feet off the edge and watch the world from a different perspective. She bent down to do just that when…crunch!

Yuk!… she had forgotten about the eggs!”

Published in Horndean Heritage, 1984 – Carrie Wachsmann

Outhouses I Have Known

It may not have WiFi, but it gets the job done

Outhouses are interesting. Mostly, they are interesting because they bring back memories.

The most interesting of memories would be the ones connected to 30 degrees below weather, dead of winter, 8:30 PM…and it’s not only “cold outside” it’s dark outside.

My siblings and I pack on our warm parkas, wool mittens and wool lined high-top boots. Our little legs make their way down the snow-packed narrow path to… you guessed it… the outhouse, our bedtime ritual.

Not something I particularly looked forward to.

I am certain you can imagine what the worst part of that memory would be! 

A typical pit latrine outhouse, popular in Southern Manitoba in by gone days ©

Another interesting outhouse memory is connected to Halloween. Halloween in the country had its own terror. The naughty boys of the town would rampage the neighboring homes and tip over all their outhouses. All except for ours. My Dad was very proud of his outhouse construction – the one outhouse in the village left standing after the day was done. One year, an unlucky outhouse owner discovered his privy on the roof of the local auto mechanic’s shop!

In the country, outhouses remained the toilet of the house, long after city folks hooked up to the modern indoor flush toilet system.

In fact, today I can go to a friend’s farm right here in Abbotsford, and if I have the hankering, I can use one of her outhouses – she has not one, but two – two of the prettiest outhouses I’ve known.

Outhouse #1 – The Little Red outhouse – charming ©
Outhouse #2 – pink and lime – cozy! Even a window to enjoy the scenery.

One, brightly painted red, the other, dusty rose. I step inside the red one and notice the decor. A lace curtain covers a small window. The seat – varnished hardwood. Framed pictures of roosters and such, grace the walls. And there’s plenty of soft toilet paper rolls. 

I step back outside where I find a container of water, a basin, soap and a towel. How convenient is that?

These two outhouses have been the source of healing from those past chilling memories of years gone by.


Silverton, BC, and here we find a rugged, well-used and worn out outhouse; one which has seen some interesting times I’m sure. The door is broken and some of the weathered gray boards are missing… I suppose in a pinch, it could still do the job.

Outhouses had more than one purpose. I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows someone who, hoping to avoid a chore or two, disappeared into the simple structure to read a few pages of a mystery novel. 

pencil sketch

Enough of that… “I have to go see a man about a dog,” as my uncle would say when he had the urge to visit the outhouse.  Carrie Wachsmann ©

Heroic Newfoundland Dog on the Titanic

Image –

(If you enjoy dog stories, you might enjoy my book – Newfies to the Rescue  on Amazon.)


The great Titanic’s demise –  April 14, 1912

Did you know the captain of the Titanic, William McMaster Murdoch, had his Newfoundland dog, Rigel, on board the Titanic?

Did you know Rigel was responsible for rescuing the passengers on Lifeboat #4?

If you appreciate and love the Newfoundland dog as I do, you will know they are bred for water rescue (among other things – draft purposes, acting as nannies, search and rescue, etc.).

Because of their water rescue instincts, “Few ships in the 18th and 19th century set sail without a Newf on board. Their reputation for heroic water rescues was unparalleled.”

Since the Titanic was “unsinkable” and since Captain Murdoch was intent on reaching their destination (New York) in record time, Rigel along with 12 other dogs, was housed in the lower level in the Titanic’s fashionable, safe and comfortable kennel.

In the dark of night on April 14,  surrounded by a thick fog, the crew did not see the enormous iceberg until it was too late. The iceberg tore into the side of the ship, and the Titanic did the unthinkable… it began to sink.




The captain did not have time to release his beloved companion from the kennel. While trying to lower a lifeboat, a large wave washed Captain Murdoch overboard, and he disappeared forever.

A brave unknown passenger took the time to release the dogs from their cages. The smaller dogs that found their masters who were able to board lifeboats were saved. The others did not survive. Except for Rigel.

Newfoundland dogs are well equipped to survive harsh conditions and icy ocean. Their feet are webbed, their tails are strong and thick and act as a rudder.  Their double, water-resistant coat helps them swim and like the polar bear, keeps them from freezing.

Record has it, Rigel swam around looking for his master. Eventually, he swam alongside Lifeboat #4.

More than 2 hours after the Titanic slipped to the bottom of the ocean, the passenger ship, Carpathia, came to the rescue the survivors. Lifeboat #4 had drifted some distance from the other lifeboats. The fog was still low and the passengers too weak to call out for help. After sweeping the area with search lights and finding no more survivors, the Carpathia began to leave the area. The little Lifeboat #4 was directly in their path.

If it had not been for Rigel barking to announce their presence, Lifeboat #4 and all its passengers would have been crushed by the Carpathia. When the captain of the Carpathia heard barking, he ordered the ship to stop. Rigel swam in front of the lifeboat announcing their presence until a crew member spotted the lifeboat and rescued the passengers.

The following day, the New York Herald told the heartwarming story of Rigel’s heroic rescue. Rigel found a home with one of the crewmen and lived out his days in well-deserving comfort and peace.

After my grandfather died, I found this book – Das Ende Der “Titanic” among his possessions that were designated for the thrift store.


I leafed through its fragile pages and discovered notes and markings throughout. Someone said, “Your grandpa was always fascinated by the Titanic.”

Since no one else found the book valuable, I claimed it for my own.

The book is a German translation of an English book written in 1912 by William H. Lee.

Sketches have English notations.

There were many other heroes on board the Titanic that day… but that’s a story for another time.


One woman, whose name my grandfather noted in the book, was one of those heroes.

In the meantime…

I took a few photos from grandpa’s, Das Ende Der “Titanic,” to share with you.

Most of my grandfather’s notes were written in German.






Today, this book along with a few other treasured items that belonged to my grandparents, lies safe underneath the glass of my coffee table in our living room.


Are Dragons Real?


Why are we so fascinated by these mythological, fire-breathing, mysterious, treasure-hording, cunning, terrifying, monster creatures?

I think I just answered that question.

But could dragons be real?

Did you know the Bible has a lot to say about dragons?   

Isaiah 27: 1 (NASB) says:

In that day the Lord will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent,
With His fierce and great and mighty sword,
Even Leviathan the twisted serpent;
And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea..”

Job 41 describes this dragon “creature” as: 

  • having tough skin
  • being very strong
  • having scales
  • having eyes that glow
  • flames coming from his mouth
  • smoke coming from his nose
  • having no fear
  • having a long neck 

Now… if that doesn’t sound like a dragon

There’s more:

The Book of Revelation has some very descriptive words about an enormous  red dragon –  referred to as Satan or the devil.

Revelation 12:3-17 New International Version (NIV)

“3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth…

7Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”

And, Revelations 13:3 says this about the dragon.

The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name…

An interesting article on website has some thought-provoking comments about Isaiah 34:13 (KJV)  reference to dragon.

“13 And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.”

– ” … we can guess that dragons were extremely territorial and wild creatures, being that God placed them as curses to keep people away. This does not equate them to being evil, though. By that logic, one would need to conclude the other creatures above are also evil—such as the hyena, lion, ostrich, moko, jackal, night-raven, arrow-snake, and falcon. Admittedly, if Lilith is speaking of a demon, then that is bad, but the contextual words seem to indicate a demon is not being spoken of. Dragons are being grouped with common and rare animals of various species, and that would make the dragon yet another real animal and no more, though pretty high on the rarity scale.”

Regardless,  whether  dragons be real or not, they make for a

great storytelling adventure.

C.S. Lewis, Voyage of the Dawntreader, Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, and so on and so on.


What do you think so far? Are dragons merely imagery, mythical creatures, or could they be real?

This unidentified ‘sea-monster’ was found washed ashore on a New Zealand beach.

“… one of a series of photographs taken by YouTube user Elizabeth Anne on the Pukehina beach off the coast of New Zealand.”

Read more:

This carcass of some sort of sea creature was found washed up on a remote Russian beach.


“THE remains of a giant sea creature with a bird-like “beak” and fur on its tail have been washed up on a remote Russian beach.”

“One said: “It looks like some mutant sea monster with a beak.”

Have you ever seen a dragon? For real, or in your dreams?

If you’ve never seen a dragon, does that mean they don’t exist?

Newfies to the Rescue – Tales of the Newfoundland dog



52 page book – NEWFIES to the RESCUE – Tales of the Newfoundland dog

is now available on Amazon here:


Visit Newfies to the Rescue FACEBOOK page here.


Back in March, 2016…

I am putting the finishing touches on the cover of: 



In this 52 page book, you will find remarkable stories of very exceptional Newfoundland dogs – both tales of yesteryear and tales of today. 


When our kids were teens, our daughter did a research paper on the Newfoundland dog.

The result – 2 beautiful, unforgettable Newfies joined the family!


Panda Bear & Dandie Lion

Newfies running BW





And what a trip it was…




(1 of 20 sketches and photos inside this book)


And… that is why I wrote this book.

The Newfoundland dog is a fascinating breed with a fascinating history.

Bred for water rescue, hauling heavy loads, acting as nannies, and even serving in the war, these dogs not only make excellent working dogs, but also make exceptional family pets.

Many extraordinary events involving the intriguing Newfoundland have been recorded throughout history.


Did you know the course of world history may have been changed had it not been for the lifesaving instinct of a Newfie?

(Very SOON – Available on Amazon, paper & kindle)

You can find me on Facebook here:  – Carrie Wachsmann – Storyteller 

& here: Roadblocks to Hell – book


Heroes of Isle aux Morts – a 17-year-old girl and her Newfoundland dog

Have you heard of Ann Harvey?

Have you heard of her Newfoundland Dog, Hairy Man?

Have you heard of George Harvey or the Harvey family?


If you live in Newfoundland, you will have this story in your back pocket.

The remarkable story of a 17-year-old girl, whose selfless acts of heroism and bravery earned her the title

“The Grace Darling of Newfoundland.”




The scene:

1828 – The Despatch, a Scottish brig, flounders at Isle aux Morts, Newfoundland. 

A storm is raging – The Despatch is shipwrecked – survivors and crew are desperately clinging to the floundering ship, to rocks, and to broken rigging.

Over the next 3 days, 17-year-old Ann Harvey and her Newfoundland dog, Hairy Man, along with her father and younger brother, demonstrate remarkable courage, intestinal fortitude and acts of heroism as they fight tirelessly to save lives.


The background:

May 29, 1828, a Scottish brig called The Despatch, carrying 200 immigrants and 11 crew members, set sail from Ireland for Quebec.

42  days later, July 10, the Despatch encountered a building storm, heavy fog and ice patches.

Despatch July 1828

The story:   

July 10 – Relentlessly thrashed about by the mighty storm on open seas, the Despatch crashed into the rocks by a small island called Wreck Rock – on the Southeast tip of Newfoundland. (A cluster of Islands 15 miles from Cape Ray )

Efforts by ship’s master William Lancaster to make it to shore in a jolly boat, (dinghy) resulted in tragedy. The towering waves tossed the jolly boat about mercilessly – master Lancaster and several other passengers lost their lives. A hopeful few made it to the almost submerged, Wreck Rock. 1st Officer Coughlan was able to help several passengers to shore using the ship’s longboat.


July 12 – Locals, Ann Harvey and her father George, ventured out to search the beaches. Locals are used to seafaring ships that meet their demise during storms such as these – they are used to the loss and the tragedy that comes with a shipwreck. That day, they found what they hoped not to find – wreckage. A ship was in trouble.


The storm continued to rage.


July 13 – Despite the pouring rain, rough seas and fierce wind, Ann, her father, younger brother and Newfie dog, Hairy Man, got into their fishing boat and rowed to Wreck Rock; the most likely spot where ships flounder if passing the tip during an eastern storm. For 2 hours they rowed, struggling, fighting the wind and the waves.

When they located the surviving passengers, the Harvey’s proceeded to situate themselves as close as possible to the rocks where the survivors clung.

Working together, the Harvey’s tied a piece of rope to a block of wood. Upon instructions, Hairy Man took the block into his jaws and jumped into the water.  Fighting the wind and huge, heaving waves, the powerful dog bravely swam the icy waters to bring the lifeline to those still able to grab it.


Newfie and Shipwreck

With a little bit of photoshopping – here’s what this scene might have looked like. 


The survivors secured the rope and used it to pull themselves to the Harvey’s fishing boat. When the fishing boat was filled with passengers, the Harvey’s rowed them to shore.

George Harvey directed surviving crew to take ropes from the washed ashore longboat and jolly boat, and with Hairy Man’s help, created several more shore-to-survivors, lifelines.

For the next three days and nights, The Harvey’s, as well as neighbors, surviving crew and passengers (those able to do so), build lean-to shelters, and nursed, clothed and fed the rescued. Some passengers died at the rocks, some died on the beaches, some died in the following days.

After two days of holding on, two mothers watched their infants mercilessly swept away by the ocean. One mother, Mrs. Arnott, wrapped her baby tightly in a shawl. She clenched the knot of the shawl with her teeth to free her hands so she could grab the ropes and pull herself and her baby to safety. She and her daughter made it to safety and survived the ordeal. Record states that this shawl is still in the family’s possession.

Fishing boat
One record states 158 survived. Another record states 163 were rescued – yet another states 180 were rescued.

Considering the length and severity of the storm, it is a wonder that even one survived. Thanks to the outstanding courageous efforts of the Harvey family and their Newfoundland dog, most of the immigrants lived to tell their story. 

By the end of the rescue, the Harvey family’s winter food-source was completely depleted. A British warship – HMS Tyne’s – arrived at  week later. The ship’s master generously re-stocked the Harvey’s food supply.


The “Grace Darling of Newfoundland”

 For their heroic efforts, the Harvey family received a reward of 100 pounds. A commemorative medal from The Royal Humane Society was given to Ann, at her father’s request.

10 years later:

Another shipwreck  – the Scottish merchant ship Rankin.  Once again, George Harvey and his daughter Ann, who was now a mother, rescued ALL crew members.

Despatch Wreck 3


From that time on Ann became known as the “Grace Darling of Newfoundland.”


Ann Harvey died in 1860 at the age of 49. Her father, George passed away the year prior.



Isle Aux Morts has a rich maritime heritage of fishing and sailing with many tales of shipwrecks and loss of lives in the treacherous waters offshore. For this reason the French named it Deadman’s Island, or as it is known locally, ‘Island of the Dead.'”

“It is a town noted for its heroism and discovery. One of the first families who settled in the area in the early 1800s was the George Harvey family, well known for their heroic rescues. “
Ann Harvey’s Weblog –

You can find me on Facebook here:  – Carrie Wachsmann – Storyteller 

& here: Roadblocks to Hell – book


Elizabeth McDougall – Canadian Frontier Woman – More Than a Survivor

A few facts to begin with:

Elizabeth (Chandler) McDougall –  1818 – 1903


  • Raised in England as a Quaker.
  • Married to Rev. George McDougall in 1842.  (Wesleyan Methodist minister.)
  • Moved to Saskatchewan in 1862 where Rev. McDougall established Victoria Mission along the North Saskatchewan River.
  • Raised six children.
  • A woman with exemplary courage and strength.

The story begins… 

Elizabeth  knew that to marry the Reverend George McDougall, an adventurous and zealous Wesleyan Methodist minister, meant a future filled with danger, isolation, and often life threatening hardships.

Elizabeth was ready…

Rev. George McDougall’s position took him on many long and dangerous trips throughout the countryside. Whenever she could, Elizabeth traveled with her husband. They traveled by covered wagon, canoe or dog sled.

At other times she remained at home to attend to the business of running the mission.

She took care of the sick and needy, “mothering all in need.”

1870s –  Smallpox epidemic hits the country.

The following account is one I’ve drawn from memory. Some 25 years ago I got my hands on the fascinating book,  “Elizabeth McDougall – Madonna of the Plains” by Frank Anderson (Canadian Historical paperback).

(I’ve read several of Canadian author, Janet Oake’s fictional frontier books – I’ve  met her – a lovely person whom I admire – and her stories are wonderful stories – I recommend them.)

But this… this is reality to the core... Elizabeth’s story has never left me.

I have that book (Elizabeth McDougall – Madonna of the Plains) somewhere, in a box, among other treasured Canadian Historical paperbacks – but do you think I can find that box? We moved. “Things” happen when one moves. Mysterious “things.” “Things” I have no control over it seems, as much as I try. I still hope to find it…

I digress… I was about to recall a memory…

The smallpox epidemic…

Elizabeth was tending to the many sick, including members of her own family. Her husband was away and she must carry on, on her own.
At one point she learned  the pox had reached a native camp 3 days journey – within their mission territory. Elizabeth packed her bags and tackled the three day trip, on her own, in the winter, through the snow and in inclement weather to bring medical aid.

When she arrived, she make a gruesome discovery – each tent she entered – she found only death.

Utterly exhausted, hungry and filled with grief, Elizabeth made the 3 day trip back to the Mission.

I am not certain how many family members Elizabeth lost to the pox. One account states that she lost two daughters, her adopted daughter and a daughter-in-law.

Surely this woman had extra angels surrounding her, protecting her, keeping her from becoming a victim of the pox.

How else did she survive?  Tending to the sick – exposure to the pox germs –  traveling for days – alone – in the cold of winter?

Is it not remarkable that Elizabeth remained well and strong throughout this horrific ordeal?

Beaten down but not undone…

The pox had done it’s worst. “This Mission thrived until a smallpox epidemic devastated both the native encampments and the McDougall family….”

What were they to do now?

They resettled at Fort Edmonton. “There George built the first church outside of the Fort in 1872. Also in 1872 he scouted the Morleyville location…”

In 1876, husband Rev. George joined his son, John, on a buffalo hunt – the intent was to supply food for the Morleyville mission, (Morley Mission).

After the hunt, George did not return back to camp.

Two weeks later his body was found at the Nose Creek.

Elizabeth buried her husband at Stoney Cemetery. (Stoney native land) 

Rev George McDougall

Note:  The Stoney natives  refer to themselves “Nakoda”, meaning friend, ally. The name “Stoney” was given them by white explorers, because of their technique of using fire-heated rocks to boil broth in rawhide bowls.

Not long after, Elizabeth’s son, George Jr., went on a trip to purchase cattle. She did not hear from him for several months. One day Elizabeth got word that George Jr. had died of pneumonia!

Despite yet another devastating loss, Elizabeth remained strong. Her strength and her spirit did not fail. She stayed in Morleyville where she continued to minister to the sick and needy. Her astounding courage  was contagious. One account states: “Elizabeth had the ability to instill courage in others and was a source of strength to many early pioneer women.”

Elizabeth Chandler McDougall lived to the ripe old age of 85. 

When this remarkable, highly respected and loved frontier woman died in 1903, “Six Stoney chiefs stepped forward to carry her casket. They carried it into the Mission Church crowded with native and non-natives waiting to show their respect.”


You can find me on Facebook here:  – Carrie Wachsmann – Storyteller 

& here: Roadblocks to Hell – book

Was Madeleine (Hamilton) Smith Guilty? 1857 Trial


Was Madeleine Smith guilty?

A fascinating piece of historical Ann Swinfen – one of The History Girls  – (A group of best-selling, award-winning writers of historical fiction and non-fiction.)


What do you think?…Was Madeleine Smith guilty of murdering her husband?


Here’s a quote from Ann Swinfen’s January 20th post…

“‘In the words of John Inglis’ biographer: ‘The pale but fresh young face, set in the curtained bonnet of the day, the graceful figure, its lines traceable through the lace of a black mantilla, the lustrous eyes and the full quivering lips as she sat in the seat whence so many have gone to the scaffold, caused even strong men to quail at the mere apprehension of her doom. Guilty or innocent, she made them think, not of the crime, or the possibility that her hand poisoned the fatal cup, but of their own sisters and daughter.

To hang her was impossible….'”

Or was it?…

Read the rest of the story here:

The History Girls 


Moncreiff address the jury at Madeleine Smith's Trail - 1857
Moncreiff addresses the jury at Madeleine Smith’s Trail – 1857

Moncreiff addresses the jury at Madeleine (Hamilton) Smith’s murder trial in 1857.


You can find me on Facebook here:  – Carrie Wachsmann – Storyteller 

& here: Roadblocks to Hell – book