The Leonards in China, 1914-1924
The following excerpts are from the Catherine Edith Leonard record book created about 1946
by her mother Edith Leonard

Appointment to China - 1914
       Then came our appointment to China, the breaking up of our home, selling furniture and packing. When her white crib disappeared, Cath. enquired "my bed gone home?" She associated home with gone because her playmates had gone home.
Katherine Hockin (age 3) with Catherine Leonard (2½) on the Empress of Russia
Katherine Hockin (age 3) with Catherine Leonard (2½)
on the Empress of Russia
Following these busy days came the train - the ship - new playmates, running on deck, getting lost and being found playing with steamer rug fringe in Dr. Birks' stateroom - sliding the bolt of our door so father and mother were both locked out in the corridor, lacing father's shoes for a pastime so he could not put them on in a hurry. Finally, while waiting for the tender to take us from the Empress of Russia into Shanghai, C. amusing herself by sliding off a suitcase onto the couch, there originated "Gate doke mama" which proved to be quite a saying on the houseboat until she became tired of it and retorted impatiently to Mr. "Weave" (Rev. Jas. Neave) "No doke at all."
First Chinese home, Lao Kuan Miao in Chengtu
First Chinese home, Lao Kuan Miao in Chengtu

       Up river day after day first in steamer to Hankow, a week's delay, a smaller steamer to Ichang, another delay while houseboats were hired and loaded, through the gorges, up rushing roaring rapids to Chungking, a cold dreary busy week there, on to Kiating where we slept in an immense room with a bed five feet and more wide. Then leaving the boats and travelling by chair two days to Jenshow (Renshow) and two more days to Chengtu to the home of Rev. J. L. Stewart and finally in Feb. we moved once more to our own first Chinese home, Lao Kuan Miao.
From there a summer with Sibley's at Junghsien-where Cath. annoyed Mary by repeating “You're naken Mury, you're naken” (mistaken); where Cath. became three years old and Etheridge nearly died of dysentery.

Mary Sibley (6), Catherine (3) and Etheridge (1½) at Sibley's home in Junghsien

Catherine in Junghsien
Mary Sibley (6), Catherine (3), Edith and
Etheridge (1½) at Sibley's home in Junghsien
Catherine in Junghsien, July 1914
It was a very hot summer. (Note the costume.) To Chengtu again for the rest of 1914 (when the Great War I began) and all of 1915 except for six weeks at Cave Mt. As we journeyed on and on, stopping in Chinese inns to eat and sleep, being surrounded by crowds of curious people until Cath. despairingly asked "Father, where is our home?" It was then too she first saw ducks swimming, "floating like little boats."

       On Cave Mt. there were walks up and down hills, among the trees and along the streams, picnics and games, and always Lo Da Niang, our faithful helper and guardian of the children. She came to us in 1914 when we first went to Lao Kuan Miao, and stayed until we left for Canada again in April 1920.
Rear view of Hart College (under construction) on WCUU campus
Rear view of Hart College (under construction) on
West China Union University campus

       During those years we moved from the city out to University Cresc. in early 1916, and Evelyn was born in the new house, No. 6. There Cath. started to school. At the age of 7, she sang her first solo as Maggie the flower girl, Miss Marcellus playing the melody only, less Cath. get off the tune. We used to sometimes ask the children who lived at the school to come to our house for a meal. One afternoon Cath. came in, nearly supper time, and said "I know you like the children, Mother, so I've brought five home for supper." It was quite a shock, but the good natured cook put another pot of rice to boil and everyone had plenty to eat.

William, Etheridge, Edith, Alice, Catherine and Evelyn at the campus home, early 1918
William, Etheridge, Edith, Alice, Catherine and Evelyn Leonard at their campus home, early 1918

       In the summer of 1916 we could not go to Cave Mt. because of civil war so, after a couple of weeks at Mr. Hibbard's, came back to our No. 6 home. Finally, with Alice and Wesley added to the family in Dec. 1917 and March 1920, we packed up again and left for Canada, by houseboat, visiting Earls' at Kiating, Joliffe's at Luchow, by-passing Chungking because of small-pox there, but transferring to an American oil boat (Meitan) which took us down the rapids and gorges to Ichang.

       At Ichang occurred a near tragedy: As our goods were being moved from the Meitan to a larger down river steamer (Siangtan), Chinese bandit soldiers seized two of our largest trunks, banged them open and took the contents. Father and Mr. Olsen, a C. I. M. missionary, were threatened but managed to escape, father with the Chinaman [sic] who had brought the trunks. The rest of the baggage was taken back to the Meitan and the boatman took father far downstream, then led him back to the Mission Home by another route. We were afterward compensated by the Chinese government.

       Then to Shanghai, delay for ocean steamer, plays and slides in Quinsan Gardens, rides to Hongkew Park, some shopping and aboard the Empress of Asia, June 6th. From the time we left sunny Japan, the weather became very cold as we sailed far north. All the children were sick with colds, Etheridge and Alice had earache, only baby Wesley was warm and happy. When we finally neared Victoria and quarantine doctors came on board, Cath. was so sick she did not want to get up. Etheridge, himself sick, cried "Catherine won't get up and they won't let us into Canada". But Cath. did get up and we all entered Canada. In the Cassell Hotel, Dr. Wm. E. Weekes, intern in Vancouver Hospital, called on us and several of Mother's old college friends. But we could not go to their homes because of a whooping cough epidemic. Then the train again, children recovering, one day Cath. and Evelyn climbed back to their upper berth and slept nearly all day. Etheridge took fresh cold and was bedfast till we neared Toronto. But now the weather was good and everyone was happy when we reached N. Glencoe station (June 27, 1920). Met there by the Aldreds, Herbs, and various friends who came with their cars to help transport us and our baggage to Aldred's (Uncle Fred and Aunt Alice). Before long we were in a house of our own which Aunt Alice had rented and fitted out with borrowed furniture. We had a garden too and berries to pick.

Return to China - 1921
       In May 1921 Grandmother died. July was a terribly hot month, bad enough for China, yet we packed and visited and prepared for another long trip. On July 21st we left Glencoe, accompanied by Aunt Alice as far as Sarnia whence we sailed for Fort William, then entrained for Winnipeg, (saw Abel a few minutes at the station) on to Edmonton, visiting at Mary's, Frank's and homes of old friends. There was a visit to Alfred's at Strome and Tom's at Hardisty where was a real lake to swim in.

       From Edmonton too, we went by train to Bellis thence to Hensher's and to Wahstao. And here is the family in front of Wahstao the W.M.S. home, Sept. '21.

William, Catherine, Alice, Evelyn, Edith, Wesley and Etheridge, Wahstao, Sept. 1921
William, Catherine, Alice, Evelyn, Edith, Wesley and Etheridge at Wahstao, Sept. 1921
On the Empress of Russia at Yokohama
On the Empress of Russia at Yokohama

       Soon we bade good-bye to our Edmonton friends and before the end of September we were in Vancouver again, then on board the Empress of Russia for China. The weather was calm and the voyage uneventful, but the presence on board of five young men (missionaries) and their brides, also Mrs. Hockey going out to visit her daughters, made it more interesting. A week or so in Shanghai buying supplies, and we were ready for upriver. A message came that the district was infested by bandits, no room for us at the Missionary Home in Ichang, we must go to Kuling, a summer resort, and perhaps stay the winter. The Leonards and five new W.M.S. workers left first, our party being too large to all go at once.
On rocky bank of stream at Kuling
On rocky bank of stream at Kuling
Leaving the steamer at Kiu Kiang, we went by chair up the mountains to Kuling, a beautiful place of mountains, valleys and streams. Unfortunately it rained so much we were not able to get any good pictures, and at the end of a week we received word that the river was clear, to come down and proceed to Ichang. This we did, but the steamer was so crowded we from Kuling slept either on cots on the deck outside or on mattresses on the floor of dining saloon. Thus to Ichang and by the next steamer through the gorges and on to Chungking. For the first time we saw the Gorges without fog or rain.

Ichang pagoda View of the Yangtze Gorges
Ichang pagoda
View of the Yangtze Gorges

       After a few days at Business Agency in Chungking, we went by houseboat upriver to Luchow. There of course we used our own bedding and cots, and took a cook with us. He had bought food for the [trip], all the bread he could get, and flour, also a small stove. Unfortunately he forgot yeast, so we older folk and older children had to eat hard tack compounded of flour and milk while the bit of bread was saved for the baby, now 1½ years old. When near enough for a coolie to go and return, we sent a man on foot to Mrs. Would. Her cook immediately baked bread and it was brought back to us while we were still more than a day's travel from Luchow.

       At Luchow we lived in a large square brick house from Nov. '21 to Jan. '23. But Catherine and Etheridge had been taken by father on up to Chengtu in Nov. to the Canadian School. At school Catherine's teacher was Miss Amy Bruce and there a year later, Christmas '22, Cath. passed her entrance exam, and received a silver medal for her high standing.

       But before that was the summer of '22 spent in Luchow. Cath. and Etheridge were brought down by Mr. Franck of Bible Society. The summer was hot, the "pongo" shaded the yard, much time was spent in games and in violin practicing, in boat rides on the river, (at tributary of the Yangtze called only "the little river"), with picnic lunches. Once we went to Sinton's (C.I.M.), and that was a fine long ride. In their yard grew a fig tree, the only one we saw, which the Chinese called "the without flower fruit tree" for it had no blossoms, the fruit grew right on the twigs like lichen.

       Miss Lamb, matron of Canadian School in Chengtu, took the 3 to a Chinese photographer for Xmas 1922, with this result!

Etheridge, Evelyn and Catherine
Etheridge, Evelyn and Catherine, Dec. 1922

       In Sept. '22 father again took Cath. and Etheridge to Chengtu school, Evelyn also was with them. Cath. and Evelyn went to Mrs. Small's for Christmas vacation, but Evelyn had to leave on Christmas morning on account of mumps, and Cath. had tonsilitis during the next term and both girls had whooping cough.

       In June 1923, three girls and three boys were brought to Chungking escorted by a French doctor, his wife and son. Three boats in the party, one for the French, one for three Catholic nuns, and one for the children, with a Chinese cook to attend them. At night however, when the boats tied, the three girls, Catherine, Evelyn and Marg. Neave, went on board the nuns' boat to sleep. The boys remained on their own boat with the Chinese men. Mother, Wesley and Alice went by steamer to Chungking to meet and bring them home to Fowchow, the family having moved there in January, Luchow to Fowchow by small crowded houseboat.

       There we lived in a one-story mud house, each room with a door opening on the long verandah. The summer was very hot, but we hung wet sheets over the doorways, sprinkled the verandah floor, and had a coolie to pull the cord of the "punka" to make a breeze so we could sleep a little while after dinner. Then there was violin practice, the three Longleys joining our three in practice.
Fowchow, July 31, 1923
In Fowchow, July 31, 1923

       The great event of the summer as usual was on Catherine's birthday, July 31st, when all the Canadians at home there assembled on our verandah for a program of organ and violin music, songs and recitations, followed by refreshments. The youngest reciters were Jean Bridgmen and Gordon Longley. (This birthday party was a custom established on Cave Mt.)

       Sept. '23 again came school time and Mrs. Longley escorted her three and our three by steamer to Chungking, where a 2nd Canadian school had been built. The five were left there but a few weeks later Cath. went on to Chengtu with Dr. and Mrs. Hartwell. On this trip there really was danger of bandits firing from the shore. When the shout came for everyone to go below decks, Cath. started down, but realizing she was in stocking feet, ran back for her shoes. Fortunately the barricade of sand bags stopped any bullets that might have caused injury.
Catherine by the morning glories, 1924
Catherine by the morning glories, 1924

       So passed another winter and spring, and in June (or May) '24 Catherine came down with Brocken's partly by chair and partly by houseboat down a smaller river, not Yangtze, to Chungking. Again mother went to Chungking-the approaches along the bank to the city were still hot from the terrible fire which had burned all the small houses along the beach, the steps too were hot as we climbed, both from fire and from sun. The school being on the opposite side of the river, Eth. and Evelyn were brought over, and next morning we all boarded the Alice Dollar steamer and returned to Fowchow.

       In early summer, 1924, we had moved into a new small brick house where the morning glories grew most luxuriantly, from the ground up to shade even the upstairs verandah. July 1st, being a very rainy day, was celebrated there with the two Would children for guests. July 31st also was celebrated in the little house, making it a combination party as both Etheridge and Evelyn had been away at the time of their birthdays-there were gifts and a happy time for all.

       Outside a broad stone table proved a fine place for play if it were piled with grass and "Topsy" there for playmate.
Among the trees on Gin Tang Si
Among the trees on Gin Tang Si, 1924

       As the heat became greater we went across a small river and up the mountains to "Gin Tang Si" * (the Golden Hall Temple) where we lived upstairs, though only half the floor had any boards. Our food was prepared on a tiny clay stove using charcoal, or a coal oil brass stove, except that the cook went down to Fowchow to bake our bread. Here there were lovely walks among rocks, rivers and spring. There was even a spring from which we drank unboiled water. After three weeks here, we went down again and began our preparations for final return to Canada.
On the Empress of Australia
On the Empress of Australia, 1924

       The trip across the ocean on board the "Australia" was uneventful except for storms which delayed us a day at Kobe Japan, and again as we neared Victoria. The children played on the deck, sometimes studied a little, lest they forget the lessons of the early part of the year.

       Reaching Vancouver Oct. 30 '24, we were met by Aunt Alice Aldred, also by Miss Annie Martin, a cousin of mother's who gave a dollar to each, Cath. And Eth. Aunt Alice took us beyond New Westminster to spend a night and day at her daughter's, Mary Baird. It rained very heavily and at New Westminster Cath. spent her dollar for rubbers and Eth. his for a flashlight-both of which proved very useful as we tramped in the night from the bus to Mary's home.

Mary Baird's home on bank of Fraser River, B.C.
Mary Baird's home on bank of Fraser River, near Port Hammond B.C., Oct. 31, 1924

       Then on we went, stopping only in Winnipeg for a day at Abel's home on Maryland St. Reaching Glencoe we spent a few days at Aldred's where Annie was in charge, Aunt Alice being still in B.C. Then into our own rented house on Main Street. The family all started to school, except Wesley who was only four. Catherine to High School, the principal being Mr. York.
* Mischa points out that in modern pinyin transliteration the spelling would be: Jin Tang Si.

See also the William Mark Leonard Autobiography and Leonard Links

Park Family Scrapbook Main Contents

More about West China Union University