Grandma’s Grand Tour Part 1: From Chicago to the Atlantic


The first five days of my grandmother’s 1936 cruise abroad.  I’m correcting minor spelling/writing errors, unless I think they are interesting.  (For background information, read the introduction.)

Michigan Central Train
June 24, ’36

After a glorious send off by the Froehlichs, Newmans and my folks we left the 12th street station at 10:30 A.M. on the Michigan Central railroad bound for Montreal.  Mr. Judson, representative of the Sanger tours, joined Joan, Bertha and me and we quickly found a drawing room where we spend the remainder of the day playing bridge and drinking.  At 4 o’clock Charlotte and Marie got on at Detroit and we had quite a hilarious evening; which ended about 10:30 when we all went to bed completely exhausted from the excitement of the day and the days before.

Sanger Tours, incidentally, seems to still exist.

Montreal Canada
June 25, ’36

We arrived in Montreal this morning at 1:00 and went to the Windsor Hotel where we registered for rooms and left our luggage.  Then down to the coffee shop for breakfast to which Mr. Judson again treated.  Then as all loyal members of our sex we remembered a bit of last minute shopping that we had to do; so we hiked ourselves off to the best stores in town among which as my old standby the V and X.  At eleven we started on a two and a half hour bus ride around the city which proved to be very interesting.  We went thru the campus of McGill University; thru the French and English sections of the town and thru the beautiful residential districts.  We stopped at the Notre Dame church, which is quite an old cathedral but very beautiful.  We then went thru the Shrine of Brother Andre which is a large church on the top of a hill.  It is still in the process of being built and when completed will be the highest point in the city.  This afternoon after a hurried lunch at “Childs” we took a horse & carriage ride up to the top of Mount Royal.  Before dinner we went to a cocktail party in Mr. Judson’s room.  Mr. & Mrs. Nicholson & Mr. Eagles and our gang were there.  This evening we spent very quietly in our room.

My grandmother’s old standby store, the V and X, was also called “the five and ten” or “the five and dime.”  It was a variety store where everything cost five or ten cents.  The “Shrine of Brother Andre” is now known as St. Josephs Oratory.

S.S. Duchess of Atholl
June 26, ’36

We were up at the crack of dawn (6:30) in order to get down to the boat and make our final arrangements.  Then Bert and I did some final shopping for crazy gifts for [Rory?] Judson.  The boat sailed at eleven thirty amidst quite a lot of excitement.  The five of us were nearly crazy we were so thrilled.  After sailing we went down and got our mail and opened the flowers some of the girls got.  We had cocktails with Mr. Judson, Mr. Buck & Mr. Nicholson & Miss Ray Fauss  up in 1st class lounge then luncheon which was quite hilarious.  In the afternoon we wrote letters and at 8 P.M. bid farewell to Ray & Mr. Buck then settled down to a quiet evening.

It is kind of illegible who the “crazy gifts” are for.  I’m guessing that Mr. Judson had a son named Rory.

S.S. Duchess of Atholl
Saturday, June 27, ’36

We were still in the St. Lawrence River.  The day has been beautiful and we were all up early and out in our deck chairs right after breakfast.  Our chairs are situated on the port side near the stern of the boat; right along side of the rail.  Behind us is a set up for “Quoits” and then a double row of chairs; then a deck Tennis court and the same set up of chairs on the other side.  At 11 the deck steward served bouillon and crackers then we relaxed and napped until luncheon at 1:30.  Again around the deck until Muster drill at 3:45 P.M.  It was just grand sitting and watching the deep blue water with an occasional view of the coast of the Province of Quebec.  At 5 o’clock there was Horse racing on the cabin deck at which I lost 50¢ and if I hadn’t had a bath at 5:30 probably would have lost more.  Dinner at 7:30 a nice English waiter with absolutely no sense of humor.  After dinner we went on deck to watch the sunset which was indescribable it was so gorgeous.  A keno game in the lounge at which Bert won $5.  Then down to the first class dinner room to see “Ruggles of Red Gap” and then to bed.

Lots of stuff in this one.  I wasn’t familiar with quoits, but it seems to be a ring tossing game similar to horseshoes.  The horse racing on the ship was done with wooden cutouts of horses, with their progress determined by rolling dice.  Ruggles of Red Gap was a 1935 film based on a bestselling novel by Harry Leon Wilson.  It was a comedy about an English valet who finds himself in the American west and has to assimilate.

S.S. Duchess of Atholl
Sunday, June 28th [1936]

At a slight tap on the door at 8:30 and with a very English accent Miss Battens our stewardess awakened us to another glorious day.  As soon as breakfast was over we went on deck where we were kept busy all morning watching the patches of snow and the lonely shrubbery on the coasts of Newfoundland on our right and Labrador on our left.  It is hardly possible to describe the gorgeous billowy clouds and the deep blue of the water that met our eyes as we passed thru the Straits of Belle Isle in to the beautiful Atlantic.  These straits are also called the path of ice bergs.  To the right and to the left we saw some dozen and a half bergs snow white and very majestic against the deep blue sky.  We passed one berg at a distance of 4 miles and were told that it was only about 1/12 above water.  I can’t put into words what a glorious sight an a thrill this all was.  At 12:45 P.M. we passed Belle Isle and entered the Atlantic.  As we sat in our deck chairs watching the calm blue water we just marveled at the tranquility of it all.

Luncheon at 1:30 and a quiet afternoon.  After dinner a concert in the lounge, then a stroll on the deck neath the Atlantic star stroon [sic] sky and then to bed.  The first bit of humor from an English officer was when Bert asked him how deep the water was and he answered “Oh ’tis not verry dip — only about three miles.”  Clock set back 1 hr.

From Wikipedia, the strait my grandmother sailed through.


Belle Isle is the unlabeled island just past the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.


Add yours →

  1. This is great! A wonderful document. I love the mix of the exotic and prosaic. How else would any of us know about “Ruggles of Red Gap,” or that it was a bestseller?

    Makes me sad that my grandparents weren’t journal keepers.

  2. Oh, this is such a great idea! I’m definitely going to be looking forward to reading this. In middle school, I did a family history project, and discovered an old journal her mother had kept. It was such an amazing read, because she was still trying to learn to write in English, so half of it was in French as well.


  3. Hmm, I seem to have lost a few words in my comment above. The journal had belonged to my great grandmother. 🙂

Leave a Reply