handwritten by his mother, Edith Leonard
Etheridge was born in R.M.B. Hospital*, Vegreville, Alta., on Dec. 21st/12 (Grandmother Weekes' birthday), two weeks later went to Edmonton with Mother and Catherine. The following Oct. when just past nine months we all sailed for China landing in Shanghai Oct. 24; by river steamer to Ichang, by houseboat to Kiating, by chair to Chengtu reaching the home of Rev. J. L. Stewart on Jan 28th/14. Two weeks later we settled in the city at Lao Kuan Miao.
The summer of 1914 we spent in Junghsien at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Sibley - an exceedingly hot summer and Etheridge nearly died of dysentery. All returned to L.K.M. in Sept., and soon he began to go to S.S. in the Hospital Chapel with Mother and Catherine. After the opening singing etc., he used to go out to the lawn with Lo Da Niang (the old Chinese nurse) until S.S. was over.
At that Christmas time (1914) a most wonderful Christmas tree was prepared in the Westaway home when Etheridge with the other children, was fairly deluged with gifts from a too generous Santa Claus.
The summer of '15 we went to Cave Mt. where we lived in an old temple (Niang Niang Miao). The old nurse carried him on her back up and down hill wherever he was not able to climb. A fall of some fifteen feet from the wall of a temple built on a side hill gave him a bad cut on the head, an almost miraculous escape from death as the alley was covered with stones and broken tile.
In Dec. '15 we moved to the University Campus where "father" had begun three buildings, Hart College, Canadian School, and No. 6 House for our residence. We lived in the kitchen for six months until the main house was completed.
In '16 we could not go to the mountain because of the threatened war in the province, but in '17, '18 and '19 we spent July and August on Cave Mountain in our old temple home. In '17 we had been gone but a few days when terrific fighting accompanied by robbery, murder and fire broke out in Chengtu and kept everyone in terror for two weeks. Thousands were killed and thousands more were homeless.
The summer of '18 was memorable for "tramps" and "picnics" on the mountain. Two important places visited were "Five Dragons cave," the source of a mountain stream, and the Paper mill.
The next spring the foreign children's S.S. was transferred to the new Administration Bldg. of the University, Etheridge's teachers here were Mrs. Bayne and Mrs. Wallace, again Mrs. Bayne and Mrs. Stewart.
He started to school Sept. 20 '19. For a few months Mrs. Kern was teacher and later Miss Grainger. All preparations for Thanksgiving and Christmas were upset by an epidemic of measles:- Etheridge with the other children on Cave Mt. had measles in summer of '19.
He greatly enjoyed school games, kite flying and scout tramps with the other boys and Mrs. Muir.
In the spring of '20 nothing pleased him better than to help clear shelves and storerooms preparatory to packing up for Canada. Left Chengtu by river boat on April 29 '20 with parents.
Twelve days later reached Chungking, having visited Earle's, Joliffe's & Wolfendale's. To Shanghai by steamers Meitan, Siangtan and Ngankin, all fair sailing except for loss of two large trunks at Ichang, stolen by northern soldiers.
Sixteen days in Shanghai, the seven of us crowded in one upper room, then embarked for Canada. Vancouver on June 21st, and Glencoe, Ontario June 27.
A free summer playing or "helping mother," then school in September, Miss Morrison teacher. Automobile rides helped to make a pleasant fall, harvest and fall apples thoroughly enjoyed, and all the season abundance of ice cream which the little folk first tasted in Shanghai.
Christmas 1920 at Aunt Alice's (Mrs. Fred Aldred). But four days earlier Dec 21st, Etheridge was 8 years old, his grandmother Weekes was 87 on the same day, "Uncle Herb" brought her with horse and buggy to share his birthday "duck" a present from Aunt Sara. Grandmother gave him a large silver spoon as a memento of the day.
Dec 28th was snowy and he had the joy of "hooking on" to bobs with his little handsleigh.
Returned to China in fall 1921. Reached Luchow Nov. Etheridge & Cath. at school in Chengtu from Nov. to May/22, summer in Luchow. Another term in Chengtu school, summer of '23 in Fowchow, then at school in Chungking, back to Fowchow, part of summer of '24 at Gin Tang Si, then to Canada by "Australia." One year in Glencoe, then moved to Delhi, County Norfolk, Oct 23, 1925. In Miss Durward's room, passed Entrance 1926.
A note in the "Playmates" section of the book
Playmates were rare, because of very extensive traveling, my playmate was my sister Catherine, when we arrived away into interior of China, got to Chengtu I played mostly with my old Chinese nurse whose language I soon learned.
Where Father went to build at the University there I had Martin Johns, Alice Carscallen, Beth Stewart, Murray Bayne, Tom, and Glynn Silcock and a big campus to play on._____________
* Note: R.M.B. Hospital = Roland M. Boswell Hospital. See a 1906 photo of the hospital at archive1.lse.ualberta.ca/asp/photo_main.aspx?ItemName=81-104-5-135.