Letter to the Editor:
Request for assistance from community
I am a historian working on a story about Richard and Nan Morenus, a couple from New York City who, in 1940, bought what is now known as Winoga Lodge Island on Abram Lake. The couple lived there for about six years.
Richard later wrote a book, Crazy White Man (1952), about the experience, although he left his by-then-ex-wife Nan completely out of the book.
Here is a bit of information about their connection to Sioux Lookout:
The Morenuses bought the island from David and Mary Dubois, merchants from Superior Junction. The Dubois had bought the land in 1925 and built a tourist camp, most of which was all still there when the New York couple arrived in 1940.
Both Richard and Nan published articles (two each) in Maclean’s magazine during the 1940s about their experiences in northern Ontario, and those articles are available online.
Nan purchased a piece of land directly across from the island on the shore of Abram Lake in 1943 from Reverend Peter G. McPherson and his wife Nettie. It had been the McPherson's summer home after they moved to Edmonton.
Richard and Nan's marriage fell apart sometime between 1943 and 1946. Richard sold his share of the island to Nan in September 1946 for $1.
In February of 1947, Nan was admitted to Sioux Lookout Hospital for eight days.
Nan sold the island to Ernest and Marion Linton of Chicago in March 1947. It was later bought by the current owners, the Mansfields. Apparently, the original cabin occupied by the Morenuses is still standing on the island.
Nan published an article, "The Woman's Bushed," in Maclean's magazine, August 15, 1947. It is an account of her canoe expedition north of Sioux Lookout with a "bushman-prospector" named "Joe" to search for "a rich vein of high grade." Who was Joe?
Nan died on September 3, 1950 from complications of childbirth. Her second husband and father of her baby was John Albrecht, a prospector from northern Saskatchewan. Nan died intestate so her estate went to Crown Trust Company. John and her infant son were her only heirs, but the trust company did not allow John to buy (for $200) her land on the shoreline until 1956.
Albrecht died in 1991, leaving the land on the shore of Abram Lake to his niece, Margret Gumbolt of Maple Ridge, BC. I don't know if she or her Uncle John ever visited the property near Sioux Lookout. Margret may have sold this piece of land a few years ago.
I am wondering if any of the readers of The Sioux Lookout Bulletin might have information about the Morenuses and about their years on the island near Sioux Lookout. I am especially interested in correspondence and photos. If so, I would appreciate it if copies could be shared with me. I am planning to write and publish the story of Richard and Nan in a series of blog posts. I would acknowledge anyone who provides information or photos that I use in the blog.
I will notify the editor of The Sioux Lookout Bulletin once my blog series is posted.
My email address is [email protected] and my mailing address is:
2406 "D" Henderson Drive North Battleford, SK S9A 0Y3