Saturday, October 29, 2016

Walter McKenzie to Colin McKenzie 26th December 1920

12 Marchmont Road
26th Dec. 1920

My Dear Colin, 

We were glad to receive three letters from you last night also 2 Daily Mails on Thursday last. You seem to have been having exceptionally severe weather with hailstones as large as eggs; I was wondering how the glass in the back verandah in our old Northgate House stood the storm.

I see the Labour Party have still a strong hold in Queensland. You would perhaps see from the papers how the Liquor referendum went in Scotland. One or two district in Edinburgh voted against Prohibition which we were surprised at as we thought a few of the better class districts would have gone "dry", not even one voting for reduction of licenses.

"Three Liquor Referendums." The Armidale Chronicle (NSW : 1894 - 1929) 1 December 1920: 2. Web. 29 Oct 2016 <>.

You mentioned in your letter to John that Cameron Bros did not receive a single bid at their sale of House properties. Business seems to be pretty bad in Australia just now from what I hear in fact I notice the prices are rising very high.

The firm I am with send carpets & co out to nearly all the big firms in Brisbane in fact we do a large Australian Trade.

We seem to have reached the high price limit here and a number of things are already dropping in price.  Since I arrived home sugar was 1/2 per lb and only 6 ozs were rationed to each person per week. If you required more than that we could get free sugar at 1/7 per lb but now it is all free which means that we can buy as much as we like and the price has fallen to 10ˀ per lb. Bread is going down also being ¼ˀ cheaper for the 2lb loaf this week.

The Edinburgh trams are now in the hands of the Corporation who are converting them slowly into sometime (sic) more mordern (sic).  Some routes they will electrify and others are already running with Motor buses. The Mound to Toll X was the first to be done and now the Comely Bank route is also a bus route. The buses are only one storey so do not hold as many passengers as the trams did but they go much quicker and look much nicer.

As for the Climate here when I arrived it was just before harvest time and a sight worth seeing after the dried up land of Queensland. The trees were lovely and green far beyond any you could ever see in Australia and then the fields with their rich crops of golden grain and deep green vegetation far exceed anything you see in Queensland. The weather too is not all wet and dark; summer time with its long glorious summer evenings is just perfect and even winter although the days are very short the sun rising at 8.46 am and setting at 3.37pm on 22nd Dec. has some fine days epecially in the country, the town however is rather foggy. We certainly get a lot of rain but I have never seen it so far come down as heavy as the average shower of rain in Queensland. In fact the winter time in Queensland with its Westerly winds (although it is much shorter than our winter here) is under the condition of living in Queensland just about as disagreeable as our winter here. Then the summer time here has no scorching heat and no vicious mosquitoes to spoil a decent country walk in the heart of a wood.

Conditions too have changed a lot, the workers now getting far better conditions shorter hours and no early start in the morning as they used to. Some of the routes in the Edinburgh Trams do not start until after seven. 

At the present moment however there is a terrible lot of unemployment mostly unskilled labour but on the other hand there is also a shortage of high efficient skilled men. There are thousands of unemployed in nearly every large town in the country in fact I think it is pretty general all over the world. If I wanted to get on I would need to study but as I intend to go in for Poultry it would be useless.

I have no intention of returning to Australia as I am satisfied that this is a more agreeable country to live in.

This is all my news at present

Hope you are well

Your loving brother Walter

Note by Alex: In pencil in the top left hand corner of this letter "Recd 19/2/21 Answered 20/2/21" in presumably Colin's hand.  Finding Creative Commons photos of Edinburgh in the 1920s was a bit of a challenge for me this morning so if anyone wants to offer advice in this regard, please do so.  I found two great sites for research - Canmore and Capital Collections but if you know of any others please share.

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