By Jody MacPherson
Fort McMurray Express, June 25, 1986
There’s a little bit of tradition at work in Fort McMurray.
That tradition is being carried on by two young women named Linda Murphy and Isabel Wood. They are “nannies.”
Murphy, 21, came to Canada from Toowoomba, Australia. She says she left her job at the local television station because she wanted to travel. She says being a nanny seemed like the ideal opportunity.
Wood, 27, is a native of New Haven in England. she was a nurse but says she thought it might be interesting to come to Canada and see the rest of the world.
Immigrating to Canada is not easy unless one has a job already lined up. There are special agencies which carry listings for nannies. They arrange matches between families and nannies who are continents away.
Both Murphy and Wood put their names on waiting lists to be nannies at two different agencies. They did not have to wait long. Before they knew it they were clutching their “Nanny Handbook,” changing all their money to Canadian currency, and on their way to a stranger’s home.
“I was lucky,” says Murphy, “I settled in really well because the family I am with had three nannies before me and they knew what to do.”
Wood says she was able to adjust well into the household when she arrived, as well.
“My boss’ wife had recently passed away so I was able to move in and quickly take charge,” she says.
Wood says she had feared that as a nanny she would be in a power struggle with the woman of the household.
Wood’s situation is unique and she says going on vacation with her boss is also unusual.
“We stay in the same hotel but in separate rooms and then meet for breakfast,” she says, “people must thing ‘what a strange couple’.”
Murphy looks after two boys aged six and eight, while Wood is a nanny to a three-and-a-half-year-old girl named Jennifer.
Both nannies say they work about a 10 hour day with evenings off. Employers are also obligated to give their nannies time off after having been with them a certain length of time, says Murphy.
One of the hardest things about being a nanny is not being able to leave and go home at the end of the day, say the two women.
Wood says her room is off-limits to everyone and that is where she escapes. She says she still longs for her own apartment.
“I’d love to have a cat,” she says, “but my boss doesn’t like them.”
Murphy says she was worried about meeting people her own age. Her employer’s daughter-in-law turned out to the same age and took her and introduced her to some of her friends.
The nannies also keep in touch with each other and often go out together.
Wood says she sometimes gets tired of explaining to people why she came to Canada, so she embellishes the truth a little.
“I went out with some friends to Digger’s and we told some guys that we were undercover agents for England and I think they believed us,” she says.
Wood has only been in Fort McMurray for about two weeks. Before that she lived in Edmonton. She moved to the city when her boss was transferred here.
Murphy is leaving Fort McMurray next month and travelling around Canada before taking a job in Brantford, Ontario.
Wood says she is going to give Fort McMurray a try and see if she likes it.
I had my palm read and I was told I would meet the man of my dreams here,” she says, “he’s supposed to be in a uniform and a badge so maybe it will be a mountie stopping me for speeding.”
Murphy says she is very career minded. She says she can not imagine getting married, let alone having children, but both she and Wood say they would probably have a nanny for their children because they would be dying to get out of the house.