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Title: Reminiscences of a Raconteur

Date of first publication: 1921

Author: George H. Ham (1847-1926)

Date first posted: Aug. 13, 2014

Date last updated: Aug. 13, 2014

Faded Page eBook #20140822

This ebook was produced by: David T. Jones, Al Haines. Alex White & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net


(From a recent photograph)





Between the ’40s and the ’20s





Author of “The New West” and “The Flitting of the Gods”






Copyright, Canada, 1921









of Montreal, Canada, and of Ashford, County

Limerick, Ireland,


This book is respectfully dedicated

in grateful remembrance of many

kindnesses in the vanishing past.


I.Seventy Years Ago—My Early Days in Kingston and Whitby—Boyhood Friends—Unspared Rods—Better Spellers Then than Now—A Cub Reporter—Other Jobs I Didn’t Fill—Failure to Become a Merchant Prince—Put Off a First Train
II.A Momentous Election—Meeting Archie McKellar—Go on the Turf—A Sailor Bold—A Close Shave—Stories of Pets—An Exaggerated Report—Following Horace Greeley’s Advice—And Grow Up with the Country
III.Winnipeg a City of Live Wires—Three Outstanding Figures—Rivalry Between Donald A. and Dr. Schultz— Early Political Leaders—When Winnipeg was Putting on its First Pants—Pioneer Hotels—The Trials of a Reporter—Not Exactly an Angelic City—The First Iron Horse—Opening of the Pembina Branch—Profanity by Proxy—The Republic of Manitoba—The Plot to Secede
IV.The Big Winnipeg Boom—Winnipeg the Wicked—A Few Celebrated Cases—Some Prominent Old-Timers—The Inside Story of a Telegraph Deal—When Trouble Arose and Other Incidents
V.The Boys are Marching—The Trent Affair—The Fenian Raid—The Riel Rebellion—A Dangerous Mission—Lost on the Trail—The First and Last Naval Engagement on the Saskatchewan—Rescue of the Maclean Family—A Church Parade in the Wilderness—Indian Signals
VI.Governors-General I Have Met—Dufferins and the Icelanders—The Marquis of Lorne and Wee Jock McGregor—Unpleasantness at Rat Portage—Kindness of Princess Louise—Lord Landsdowne at the Opening of the Galt Railway “My” Excellent Newspaper Report—Talking to Aberdeen—Minto, the Great Horseman—Earl Grey a Great Social Entertainer—The Grand Old Duke and Princess Pat—The Duke of Devonshire
VII.The Hudson’s Bay Company—A Tribute to its Officers—Intrepid Scotch Voyageurs—Daily Papers a Year Old—Royal Hospitality of the Factors—Lord Strathcona’s Foundation for His Immense Fortune—The First Cat in the Rockies—Indian Humor and Imagery
VIII.Around the Banqueting Board—My First Speech—At the Ottawa Press Gallery Dinners—A Race With Hon. Frank Oliver—A Homelike Family Gathering—A Scotch Banquet—Banquets in Winnipeg—Bouquets and Brickbats—The Mayor of New York and the Queen of Belgium
IX.In the Land of Mystery—Planchette and Ouija—Necromancers and Hypnotists and Fortune Tellers—Adventures in the Occult—A Spirit Medium—Mental Telepathy—Fortune Telling by Tea Cups and Cards—Living in a Haunted House
X.Mark Twain, the Great Humorist—A Delightful Speaker—A Chicago Cub Reporter’s Experience—The Celebrated Cronin Case—W. T. Stead and Hinky Dink—When the Former Wrote “If Christ Came to Chicago”
XI.The Canadian Women’s Press Club—How It Originated—With “Kit” of the Toronto Mail at St. Louis and Elsewhere—The Lamented “Francoise” Barry—Successful Triennial Gatherings—The Girls Visit Different Paris of Canada—Threatened Invasion of the Pacific Coast
XII.When Toronto Was Young—The Local Newspapers—The Markham Gang—Some Chief Magistrates of the City—Ned Farrer, the Great Journalist—Theatrical Recollections—Old-Time Bonifaces—And Old-Time Friends.—Toronto’s Pride
XIII.Scarlet and Gold—The Rough Riders of the Plains—The Fourth Semi-Military Force in the World—Its Wonderful Work in the Park—Why the Scarlet Tunic Was Chosen—Some Curious Indian Names—Primitive Western Justice
XIV.In the Hospital—Averting a Shock—A Substantial Breakfast—A Gloomy Afternoon—Down in Washington—The Gridiron Dinners—A Spanish-American War Panic—A Few Stories—Canadian Club
XV.Christmas and Its Cheer—Will Sell Anything for Gin But Children’s Christmas Stockings—Santa Claus No Myth—Dreary Christmas—Mr. Perkins’ Cutter—A Lively Christmas Gathering—Tiny Tim’s Blessing
XVI.The Miracle Man of Montreal—Brother Andre Whose Great Work Has Done Great Good—A Youth With a Strange Power—Authentic Accounts of Some of the Miracles—All Faiths Benefited by Him
XVII.Political Life in Canada—Its Tragedies and Its Pleasantries—The Great Outstanding Figures of the Past—The Social Side of Parliament—Mixed Metaphors and People Who Were Not Good Mixers—A Second Warwick—The Wrong Hat—And Other Incidents
XVIII.The Great Northern Giant—The Early Days of the C.P.R. and its Big Promoters—Where the Aristocracy of Brains Ruled—A Huge Undertaking and a Broad Policy—A Conspicuously Canadian Enterprise—Something About the Men Who Ruled—My Fidus Achates—Captains Courageous—The Active Men of To-Day—And Interesting Facts About the C.P.R.


George H. Ham (From a recent photograph)

Some Early Photographs of George H. Ham

The New and the Old C.P.R. Stations in Winnipeg

How Our Early Settlers Arrived in Winnipeg

Main Street, Winnipeg

Portage Avenue, Winnipeg

The Duke and Duchess of Connaught with Princess Patricia

The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and Daughters the Ladies Cavendish

Lord Minto at His Lodge, Kootenay

Some Early Trading Posts of the Hudson’s Bay Company

At the San Francisco Fair

Waterfront, Toronto, Eighty Years Ago

Fish-Market, Toronto, Eighty Years Ago

Toronto To-Day

Rough Riders of the Plains

Winter Uniforms of R.N.W.M.P.

An Indian Policeman

Indian Camp

Brother Andre

The Oratory of St. Joseph

Lord Strathcona

Lord Mount Stephen

Sir William Van Horne

Baron Shaughnessy, K.C.V.O.

B. W. Beatty, K.C.

I. G. Ogden

D. McNichol

R.B. Angus

A Map Showing Position of Passenger and Freight Trains on the Canadian Pacific Main Lines at 6 P.M. November 1, 1920

Souvenir of the Driving of the Last Spike on the C.P.R.

First C.P.R. Locomotive

The First Locomotive in Toronto



Seventy Years Ago—My Early Days in Kingston and

Whitby—Boyhood Friends—Unspared Rods—Better

Spellers Then than Now—A Cub

Reporter—Other Jobs I Didn’t Fill—Failure

to Become a Merchant

Prince—Put Off a First Train

It has been said by facetious friends that I have several birthplaces. However that may be, Trenton, Ontario, is the first place where I saw light, on August 23rd, 1847, and on the spot where I was born has been erected a touching memorial in the shape of a fine hotel, which was an intimation, if we believe in fate or predestination, that my life should be largely spent in such places of public resort. After events confirmed this idea. Hotels have been largely my abiding place, from London, England, to San Francisco, and from the city of Mexico and Merida in Yucatan as far north as Edmonton.

My father was a country doctor, but, tiring of being called up at all hours of the night to attend a distant kid with the stomach-ache, or a gum-boil, wearied and disgusted with driving over rough roads in all sorts of weather to visit non-paying patients, he gave up the practice of medicine, studied law, passed the necessary examinations, and in 1849 moved to Kingston and was associated with Mr. (afterwards Sir) John A. Macdonald. Two years later he was appointed a sort of Pooh-bah at Whitby, Ontario, when the county of Ontario was separated from the county of York, as part and parcel of the then Home District. When questioned about my early life, it was usual for inquisitive friends to ask: “How long were you in Kingston?” And my truthful answer—“Just two years”—invariably evoked a smile and the satirical remark that that was about the usual sentence.

My first recollections in babyhood were of my arm being vaccinated before I was three years old, and to mollify any recalcitrancy—I didn’t know what that word meant then—a generous portion of fruit cake thickly covered with icing was diplomatically given me. I immediately shoved out my other arm for another dose of vaccine with the cake accompaniment, but it didn’t work. Another recollection is my going out with my sister Alice to see a military parade. We took along the family’s little kitten carefully wrapped in my sister’s new pelisse. At the corner of Princess and Bagot streets, the martial music of the band frightened pussy and with a leap she disappeared under an adjoining building, pelisse and all. That’s seventy-odd years ago, but every time I visit Kingston, even to this day, I watch around Bagot street to see if the cat’s come back. Which she hasn’t; nor has the pelisse. Curious to relate, the C.P.R. office now occupies the site of my boyhood home.

When I Was at School

Whitby was first called Windsor, and I have a map drawn in 1841, on which that name appears. It was changed shortly after. School days at Whitby, at the primitive district Henry Street school, were just about the same as those of any other school boy; and the pleasurable monotony was only broken by such events as the school-house catching fire, or the teacher being ill, which granted us a few real honest-to-goodness holidays. Some of us deeply regretted that the darned old place hadn’t burned down altogether, as the holidays would then have been prolonged indefinitely. Snowballing matches between the Grammar and District schools kept the boys busy, during favorable winter weather, and it was only when the snow disappeared that one school did not invade the precincts of the other, sometimes with disastrous effects. These affairs were not Sunday school picnics, and no quarter was ever asked or given. One of the Grammar army got plugged in the ear in a severe combat by a snowball in which was enclosed a good-sized stone, and when he was keeled over, there was no first aid to the wounded, but a savage reprisal. Cricket was also a favorite game, but it was not aggressive enough. Football and shinny—especially on the ice, where the Town and the Bay met every Saturday for a whole day’s conflict—afforded more and better opportunities for personal encounters and were more popular games. The goals were a mile apart, and I never knew of a game being scored by either side. Golf, croquet and similar sports were unknown, but would have been scorned as too insipid. But we played One-old-cat and Two-old-cat—predecessors of baseball. Prisoner’s base gave fine opportunities for running and wrestling, and had many devotees. Don’t think that the boys were any rougher than the boys in any other school, but in the glorious old days rough and tumble was usually preferred to more sedate and lady-like games.

Some of My Boyhood Friends

There were some pretty bright boys who graduated from those schools and made a name for themselves in the world. John Dryden became Minister of Agriculture for Ontario; Johnny Bengough, who was always handy with his pencil, evolved into a great cartoonist and published Grip in Toronto; Hamar Greenwood, who had a great gift of the gab, went to England, was knighted, and appointed Chief Secretary of State for Ireland; Jack Wetherall went to New York and achieved position and wealth as an advertising manager for Lydia Pinkham, whose female pills are peerless and unparalleled (so he says); Dick Blow became mayor of the town; Jim Bob Mason—his name wasn’t Jim Bob, but that’s what we called him—went to the States where his son, Walt Mason, I am informed, is making a fortune writing popular prose poems. D. F. Burke (we called him Dan) went to Port Arthur, and when he died a few years ago left two widows and a big estate, thus distancing most all his old comrades in worldly good fortune. Dan got a charter for the Port Arthur & Hay Lake Railway, and used to be chaffed over its construction equipment, which jealous-minded people like ex-Mayor George Graham of Fort William and myself said consisted of a mule and a bale of hay, and that when the mule had eaten all the hay, both the charter and the mule expired. George Dickson was one of the prize pupils and afterwards became principal of Upper Canada College, and Billy Ballard won equal distinction in educational work at Hamilton. George Bruce was a model pupil, entered the ministry, and afterwards when I heard him preach in a Presbyterian church, I felt like giving him three cheers. Danforth Roche was a stolid scholar in the school, but when he struck out for himself, he had the biggest departmental store north of Toronto, at Newmarket, and was one of the most enterprising and extensive advertisers in the Province. Joe White is town clerk at Whitby, and a mighty good one. Abe Logan went to the Western States and accumulated a fortune. Frank Warren, who recently passed away, stayed at home, entered the medical profession, and became mayor of the town. Frank Freeman, who belonged to the Freeman Family Band, consisting of father, two sisters and himself—real artists—is still a musician, and I came across him leading the orchestra at Tom Taggart’s big hotel at French Lick Springs, Indiana, a couple of years ago. Fred Lynde went to Madoc in Hastings County, and was successful in the mercantile business. George D. Perry is manager of the Great Northwestern Telegraph Co., and his brother Peter a successful educationalist in Fergus, Ontario. George Ray went to Manitoba and became reeve of a municipality. Bob Perry became a C.P.R. representative at Bracebridge, Ontario, and his brother Jack is a well-to-do resident of Vancouver. Jimmy Lawlor is in the Government service at Ottawa, and Tommy Bengough is one of the best official stenographers in the employment of the same city. The Laing boys became lost to sight. Andrew Jeffrey, Harry Watson and Bill McPherson followed the crowd that went to Toronto, and the sister of the latter name married well, Jessie McPherson becoming the wife of Dr. Burgess, superintendent of the hospital for the insane at Verdun, just outside of Montreal. Jimmy Wallace went to Chicago and entering the audit department of one of the big railway companies forged to the front, and Billy Wolfenden, who unknown to his parents used to steal away at night to learn telegraphy and railway work at the Grand Trunk offices, went west suddenly and finally became General Passenger Agent for the Père Marquette road. When the U. S. Administration took over all the railroads a few years ago, he was appointed to a similar position for his region. John A. McGillivray became a member of Parliament and chief secretary for the Order of Foresters. “Adam at Laing’s” was the only name that Adam Borrowman was known by for years, Laing’s being the largest general store in the town. Now he is more than comfortably fixed near Chicago. The Laurie boys went to Manitoba, started business and farming at Morris and prospered. John H. Gerrie went West, and is now managing editor of the San Francisco Bulletin. Harry McAllan went to Toronto, and then to Montreal, where he is in business.

Later on, Georgie Campbell and her sister, Flo, became brilliant and very popular stars on the American stage as May and Flo Irwin. Many is the time I dandled May on my knee. The last time I saw her, she had become “fair, fat and forty,” and I fear my old rheumatic limbs would now prevent me from repeating the pleasing operation. There are many others that I cannot recall, scattered all over the inhabited globe. Some have gone to the Great Beyond, and of those living the bright eyes by this time have grown dim and the various shades of hair have turned gray, but in my heart of hearts, I believe that if we could only turn back the universe and regain us our youth, there would be general rejoicing amongst us could we gather together.

Getting to Work.

The law was proposed to be my profession—after graduating from Toronto University—but as there were very few who were learned in legal lore and had achieved high distinction and greatly accumulated wealth in the immediate vicinity, I baulked, and went into newspaper-work in the old Chronicle office at Whitby.

One reason for this was my previous experience. When I was a mere kid and visiting grandfather’s old home at South Fredericksburg, opposite the upper gap of the Bay of Quinte, that venerable ancestor of mine confided in me that he wished to make his will without the knowledge of the rest of the family and suggested that I should draw up the document. In school-boy hand the will was drawn up, and while it suited grandfather all right enough, I wasn’t so cocksure it was in the right form and phraseology. So I commandeered a horse the next day and stole off to Napanee, eighteen miles away, and called upon Mr. Wilkinson, afterwards Judge Wilkinson, whom I had met at my father’s house in Whitby. He pronounced the will to be perfectly legal, and, having all of $2.00 in my pocket, I rather ostentatiously asked him his fee.

“Nothing, he smilingly replied. “Nothing at all—we never charge the profession anything—never.”

And thus I was able to get an elaborate twenty-five cent dinner at the hotel. So when the question of my future came up, I thought if it was so blamed easy to be a lawyer, I wanted something harder.

The Rod Was Never Spared

There were stricter teachers in the late fifties and early sixties than there are to-day and the “ruler” was more frequently and generously applied. I got my full share. One day I was unmercifully punished, and for a wonder, I didn’t deserve it. In my wrathful indignation, I told the teacher, a Mr. Dundas, a fine, scholarly Scotchman of the best old type, that I was only a boy, but that when I grew up I was going to kill him. That threat didn’t go with him, and he again vigorously applied the ruler to different parts of my aching anatomy. I dared not go home and tell of this, or I would have run the chance of another whipping—for there were no curled darlings then who could successfully work upon the mistaken sympathies of indulgent but foolish parents. When I had grown up and returned on a visit to Whitby, I met my good old stern teacher and reminded him of my threat. He had not forgotten it. But I told him I wished he would, for he had not thrashed me half as much as I deserved, generally speaking. I put my arms around him, and the tears that flowed down his furrowed cheeks told me I was forgiven. We had veal pot-pie for dinner that night.

I didn’t succeed as well in another episode, when a pupil at the Grammar School, the principal of which was the lamented Mr. William McCabe, afterwards manager of the North American Life Assurance Company in Toronto. We used to call it “playing hookey” in those days when a pupil absented himself from school to loaf around the swimming hole at Lynde’s creek and ecstatically swim and fish the whole day. A note from one’s parents was always a good excuse and my beloved mother, in the kindness of her heart, never failed to provide me with one. But Mr. McCabe got a little leery of these numerous maternal excuses, and insisted I should get a note from my father, which placed me in an uncomfortable fix. It was either expulsion or a paternal note. I explained to father as plausibly as I could and got the note—which was, it struck me, altogether too freely given. Fortunately I could read it by placing it against the light, and it briefly but unmistakably read:

“William McCabe, Esq.—

Please lick the bearer, (sgd.) John V. Ham.”

I had rather an uncomfortable quarter of an hour wending my way to school, when a short distance from that place of learning, I saw a brother scholar, Paddy Hyland, coming up another street. Before he caught up to me, I was limping like a lame duck. Poor Paddy, in the goodness of his great Irish heart, sympathetically asked me what was my trouble, and without a qualm of conscience, I tersely but mendaciously told him:

“Sprained my ankle.”

“Poor old fellow,” said Paddy, and he carefully and gently helped me along to school. “Can I do anything for you?” he asked in great distress at my supposed misfortune.

“You can, Paddy. Just take this note to Mr. McCabe.”

On reaching school I sank into my seat at the rear of the room. Paddy promptly presented the note, and I eagerly awaited the outcome of the interview. Mr. McCabe had a keen sense of humor, and I saw a smile come over his face as he read the note. Then he called to me:

“Here, you, come up here.”

I hobbled up. He tried to look sternly at me and said:

“It’s all right this time, but don’t you try it on me again.”

My sprained ankle miraculously improved immediately.

Any old-timer will tell that the scholars of half-a-century ago could, generally speaking, spell words in the English language better than those of to-day. It is my experience anyway, after trying out a hundred or more applicants for positions as stenographers when the result was that over fifty per cent. couldn’t spell any better than the once-famous Josh Billings, the American humorist. The reason why? The old-fashioned “spelling down” that occupied a large portion of Friday afternoon exercises has been abolished. That reminds me that in other schools—one at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, some years ago, one exercise was for the teacher to call a letter of the alphabet, and the pupils pointed to would respond by naming a city whose initial letter was the one mentioned; thus “A” would be Almonte or Albany; “B” Battleford or Buffalo or Bowmanville; “C” Calgary; and so it went down the list until “F” was called, and a young hopeful who afterwards became an M.P., shouted “Filadelphia”. That closed the afternoon’s exercises.

As we grew up, we youngsters loafed around the street corners or gathered at some store or other convenient meeting place in the evening as boys in other towns did. Later on I spent my nights in the library of the Mechanics’ Institute when, with good old Hugh Fraser and J. E. Farewell, now county attorney, and a full-fledged colonel, we discussed all sorts of social problems and political matters until the cocks began to crow. Then we trudged home in the early dawn, each one perfectly content that he had mastered the others in the discussion, or at any rate had settled many disturbing questions finally and for good, though I am afraid many of them are alive still. My nightly association with these two old friends, both some years my senior and with a few other friends, was of great advantage to me in after life. For one thing, it taught me to be tolerant of other persons’ opinions, that there are always two sides to a question, and that there is nobody alive who can be cocksure of everything like the chap who was absolutely positive that there was only one word in the English language commencing with “su” that was pronounced “shu” and that was “sugar”, but wasn’t so confoundedly certain when quietly asked if he was “sure” of his assertion.

A Cub Reporter

My first assignment on the Chronicle happened this way: While working on the case I had taught myself a hybrid sort of shorthand, which any competent stenographer nowadays would look upon as a Chinese puzzle. Mr. W. H. Higgins, a clever and experienced newspaper man of more than local reputation, composed the sole editorial and reportorial staff, and one day there were two gatherings—a special meeting of the County Council at Whitby and a Conservative convention at Brooklin, six miles north—and only one Mr. Higgins. My opportunity came. In despair at not getting a more suitable representative, he unwillingly sent me to Brooklin. Well, say, when I turned in my report early Monday morning, the boss was astounded. No wonder, I wrote and rewrote that blessed report during all Saturday night, and the greater part of Sunday and it wasn’t till near dawn on Monday that it was finished. And after all it only filled three columns. Any experienced reporter would have written it within three or four hours. I was paid $5.00 for the report, and it wasn’t so much the money I cared for as the encouraging words Mr. Higgins gave me. Thereafter I reported the town council, and brought in news items—frequently written and rewritten and then written again—and some not only written but absolutely rotten—and my salary was increased to eight dollars a week, but I kept on the case at the same time.

Other Adventures in Employment

Failing in health—although apparently robust and strong—inducements of future wealth lured me to Walkerton, way up in Bruce County, where an old friend of the family, Mr. Ed. Kilmer, kept a general store. I was to be a partner, after a little experience behind the counter. That partnership never materialized. I used to practise on tying up parcels of tea and coffee and sugar, and, somehow or other, I would invariably put my thumb clumsily through the paper, and have to start all over again. I could sell axes and bar iron all right enough, but everyone wasn’t buying those articles. One day a lady had me take down the greater part of the dress goods on the shelves and always wanted something else than what was in stock. My patience was exhausted, so I went to Mr. Kilmer, and suggested he should attend to the lady, mentioning incidentally that I honestly believed baled hay was really what she needed—and forthwith resigned. As a complete failure as a clerk in a general store, I always prided myself that I was a huge success. But I left town the next day, and never became a merchant prince.

To indulge in outdoor life, the townships of Darlington and East and West Whitby were traversed by me as sub-agent for a farmers’ insurance company. There was not much difficulty in securing renewals of policies, but it was uphill work to get new business. The general excuse for refusal to insure was that Mr. Farmer had been insured before and had never made anything out of it. My throat used to get dry as a tin horn in trying to explain that the company couldn’t exactly guarantee a “blaze”, but the insurance policy was to protect the insure in case of fire. Perhaps, glibness of tongue was not one of my long suits, and the work did not appeal to me. Consequently I sent in my resignation and returned to more congenial work.

Put Off the First Train

In the fall of 1856, the town schools had a holiday, because on that day the first railway passenger train was to arrive at Whitby. The pupils were assembled up town at the High School, then called the Grammar School. The Public School pupils led the procession, preceded by the town band, and the Grammar School formed the rear of the column, under command of Mr. William McCabe, who was then the only teacher in the Grammar School. Arriving at the station, we were lined up alongside the track. About 3 p.m. a train with three passenger cars arrived from Toronto, filled with invited guests. The locomotive was decorated with flags, and on the front and sides was a piece of bunting on which was painted the words “Fortuna Sequitur.” We were ordered to make a note of these words and produce a translation thereof on the following day. We generally agreed that “Let or may fortune follow” was about the meaning of these Latin words. The train moved on to Oshawa where John Beverley Robinson and others delivered addresses.

On the return of the train from Oshawa, a number of school boys boarded the car during the stoppage at Whitby, and then occurred the first and only time I was ever put off a train. I was bound to make the trip to Toronto as I had never experienced a ride on a railway train. The conductor put my brother, four years my senior, and myself off the rear end of the car. We ran to the front end, only to be again ejected. This was a little discouraging, I will candidly admit, but we made another bolt for the front entrance, and when the irate conductor threateningly ordered us off, some of the compassionate passengers told him to give the boys a show, which he grudgingly did; and to Toronto we went. In the other cars, the invited guests protested against the invasion of the Whitby youths, but they, too, notwithstanding the threats and warnings of the conductor, stuck to the train. Neither my brother nor myself had a cent, but that didn’t worry us at all, and when we arrived in Toronto, it was after dusk. No one knew when the train would leave for Whitby, and so we had to sit in that car, hungry as bears, until good old Hugh Fraser of Whitby loomed up about ten o’clock with some crackers and cheese, after which we didn’t care a continental what old time the train would leave. Crackers and cheese are very invigorating. The other fellows pooled all the money they had and Jack Wall (afterwards Dr. John Wall of Oshawa), who had been attending college in Toronto, rustled some more crackers and cheese, which seemed to be the sole and only article of food on the menu that night. The clock struck 4 a.m. as we reached home, completely tired out but happy as clams. I was the first boy at school next morning and was the hero of the day. Rides on railways then were big events of the mightiest importance. Don’t care so much for them now. I remember that the G. T. R. car was No. 2, and a third of a century later I again rode in the same old car, then on the Caraquet Railway in New Brunswick. But as I had a pass the conductor did not dare throw me off once—let alone twice.

A hot battle was waged between Gordon Brown, of the Globe, and a member of the Grand Trunk engineering staff, as to the road and its equipment and as to its time-table for the excursion train. No one was hurt, although threats were made, and it is alleged that the Grand Trunk engineer sent a challenge to the editor of the Globe, which he did not accept or pay any attention to, except by publishing it in the Globe.



A Momentous Election—Meeting Archie McKellar—Go

on the Turf—A Sailor Bold—A Close

Shave—Stories of Pets—An Exaggerated

Report—Following Horace Greeley’s

Advice—And Grow Up with the


A momentous election was that in South Ontario in 1867—the first one held after the Confederation of Canada had been consummated.

Hon. George Brown, of the Globe, the leader of the Reform party, was standing. The riding had always been staunchly Reform and had returned Oliver Mowat and other Reformers by sweeping majorities. In an election two years previously Hon. T. N. Gibbs, of Oshawa, the Independent Liberal candidate, had joined hands with Sir John Macdonald, whose coalition with Hon. George Brown had not been long-lived, and won. This election was to be a test one, and upon its result depended whether the new Canada should be under Liberal-Conservative or Reform rule. There was open voting in those days, and two days’ polling, it being generally conceded that the candidate who headed the poll on the first day would be the winner. Meetings were held nightly throughout the riding, and the greatest excitement prevailed during the campaign. I was too young to have a vote then, but I had a good deal to say. There were others. Canvassing of votes was kept up continuously and large sums of money were expended. It was necessary in a good many cases to pay men to vote for their own party. On the night of the first day’s polling, I was with Jimmy Cook, then of Robertson & Cook, of the Toronto Telegraph, who was a practical telegrapher. The returns, as Mr. Brown figured them out, gave him a majority of 11, with one poll to hear from. Complete returns, as Jimmy Cook got them, gave Brown a majority of one. But while that was practically an even break, the Reformers were in great glee, and while they were celebrating the Liberal-Conservatives got down to work and arranged for relays of teams to bring the distant voters the next day to the polls. At three o’clock next afternoon the Union Jack went up in front of Jake Bryan’s Tory Hotel—there were Grit and Tory hotels then—and at the close of the poll Gibbs had a majority of 69.

Mr. Brown started for his Toronto home on the following afternoon train, and while at the Whitby station walked up and down the platform with a friend. A man named Jago, an employee of the railway, who had had a serious personal difference with the defeated candidate, was in the waiting room, and on Mr. Brown passing the door, he would stick his head out and tauntingly shout:

“You got licked, Mr. Brown, you got licked.”

Brown kept walking and Jago kept on taunting him upon his defeat. This at last so exasperated the Honorable George, that he made a dash for Jago and grabbed him by the lapels of the coat. But just then the train came in, friends interfered, the conductor shouted, “All aboard” and Mr. Brown was hurried to his coach. It was, of course, reported all over the country that Brown had assaulted the man and grievously injured him, which wasn’t true.

The country gave Sir John Macdonald a majority of only 20; many of us wondered what would have been the result if Mr. Brown had carried South Ontario.



There was a provincial election on the same day when Dr. McGill, the Reform candidate, who afterwards was one of the Nine Martyrs, pilloried by the Globe, won by the handsome majority of 308. At the election in 1871, Abram Farewell, as a straight Reformer, defeated Dr. McGill by 98 votes, and in 1875, N. W. Brown, a local manufacturer, and a straight Conservative, beat Farewell by 33 votes, and four years later, John Dryden, Reformer, defeated Mr. Brown by 382 votes. South Ontario certainly was not wedded to any particular set of political gods in those days—nor is it now.

It was in one of these campaigns that a nice looking gentleman of middle age called the Gazette office and politely asked to see the exchanges. I had no idea of his identity, and we soon entered into an interesting conversation. He asked me my honest opinion of the leading politicians and I with the supreme wisdom and unsuppressible ardor of youth, fell for it. I was a red hot Tory and what he didn’t learn of the Grits from me wasn’t worth knowing. I particularly denounced Archie McKellar, who I termed the black sheep of the political crew at Toronto, and vehemently proceeded to inform him of all that gentleman’s political crimes and misdeeds. He encouraged me to go on with my abusive fulminations, and he went away smiling and told me it was the most pleasant hour he had spent in a long time. I was present at the public meeting that afternoon in my capacity as reporter—for in those days, the editor was generally the whole staff—and was sickeningly astounded when to repeated calls for “Archie McKellar”, my pleasant visitor of the morning arose amidst the loud plaudits of his political supporters. I—say, let’s draw the curtain for a few minutes. After the meeting I met Mr. McKellar and apologized for my seeming rudeness, but he only laughed pleasantly at my discomfiture, and told me how he had thoroughly enjoyed our morning seance and that he really didn’t fully realize before how wicked he was until I picturesquely and vividly depicted his deep, dark, criminal, political career. We became fast friends, and I soon learned that Archie was not nearly as black as he had been painted, as perhaps none of us are—nor as angelic.

I Own a Race Horse

Whitby in the early days was also a great horse-racing centre. There was a mile track up near Lynde’s Creek, which attracted large numbers of sports from all parts of the country—but the number of non-paying spectators, who drove into town and hitched their wagons just outside the fence, was also very large. Nat Ray, and the Ray boys of Whitby, were the leading local sports, and Quimby and Forbes, of Woodstock, were the pool sellers, and such men as Joe Grand, Bob Davies, and Dr. Andrew Smith, Toronto; John White, M.P. for Halton; Roddy Pringle of Cobourg; W. A. Bookless of Guelph, and Gus Thomas of Toronto, were regular attendants. Purses of $400 downwards, big sums in those days, were offered. Black Tom, Charlie Stewart, Lulu, Storm, Jack the Barber, were amongst the horses that ran. Black Tom—Nat Ray’s horse—could trot in 2.40, which was then a good record. Storm—oh, well Storm—it was an appropriately named horse. It was raffled and Jack Stanton—Jack was starter for years at the Ontario Jockey Club in Toronto, and was as good a sport as ever lived—and a couple of other fellows and I had the good or bad fortune to win it. Storm was contrary as a petulant maid, and when we had no money on her would win hands down, and when we bet our last nickel—good-bye to our money. I lost all my little money on Storm, and willingly gave Jack Stanton my share in the contrary horse. If I remember aright, he came out about even. Jack always smoked a certain grade of cigars, which then sold at five cents, and thought they were the best in the land. In after years, when I had recuperated financially, I would bring him up some special Havanas, which cost twenty-five cents, and give him one, just to see him light it, and, while I wasn’t looking, throw it away in disgust, and light one of his own ropes, which he really enjoyed. How I delighted in Jack telling me that the cigar was a fine one, he presuming that I would think he meant the twenty-five-cent cigar, and I knowing he was referring to his nickel nicotine.

Then the sports in town for the races played poker at night at the office of Nat Ray’s livery stable. The first night I played, and in the first hand, I had a pair of deuces, and so green was I that when Charlie Boyle made a raise of $5.00 I senselessly stayed, drew three cards and with the luck of a greenhorn pulled in the two other deuces. Charlie filled his two pair, and had a full house. He bet $5.00 and I, thinking I had two pair, and not knowing their value raised him $5.00. Finally he called and threw down his ace full. I said I had two pair and when I showed the two pair—of deuces—there was a general hilarity; Charlie said he had never in his life ran up against a greenhorn who didn’t beat him. I didn’t know that my two-pair were fours. I cleaned up $65.00 that night and thought, as all greenies do, that I knew all about poker. I learned differently in the following nights.

In 1870, the Queen’s Plate was the great event of the meeting. That was when Charlie Gates’ Jack Bell won. There was a big field, and Charlie’s horse was in it—one of the rank outsiders. Terror was a prime favorite. Charlie always liked the younger generation, and when I asked him what horse to bet on, he said any one but Jack Bell. Such is the perversity of youth that I immediately placed my money on Jack. The favorite led for the first mile, but in the next quarter was passed by Jack on the Green and another horse and Jack Bell closed upon the leaders, and coming down the home stretch forged ahead and won by nearly a length. Terror was fifth, and I was again a capitalist. All the winnings were usually made by such amateurs as myself, and it wasn’t because of our good judgment or experience, but just on luck. That was one of the memorable races of the early days, and is not forgotten to this day by a lot of old-timers.

A Sailor Bold

In a vain but fairly honest endeavor to ascertain exactly what particular line of industry would be most suitable to ensure my future comfort and welfare, I embarked as an A. B. sailor before the mast. My father-in-law was the owner of a small fleet of schooners which plied on Lakes Ontario and Erie. My first voyage on the Pioneer was very successful. I didn’t get seasick, fall overboard, or start a mutiny, could furl or unfurl the mizzen mast sails, handle a tiller in a—well—in a way, and would gleefully have carolled a “Life on the Ocean Wave”, or warbled “Sailing”, which was so popular amongst the boys in ’85, if it had been composed then, and I couldn’t get the tune of the other one. A sailor’s life was a long drawn out sweet dream when we had far away breezes; at other times when the boisterous winds blew furiously, it was a nightmare. The Pioneer was sunk somewhere off Port Hope, but all hands were easily rescued. Then Capt. Allen and Mary, the cook, who was the captain’s wife and myself were transferred to the Marysburg, a larger schooner, which used to labor creakingly along as if there wasn’t any oil procurable to quiet her noisy timbers. One day in the early ’70’s we tried to make Cleveland harbor, when a hurricane came up, and we scampered across the lake and thought we had found shelter behind Long Point. Lake Erie is very shallow, and I can readily testify that we could see its very muddy bottom when the waves rolled sky-high. No fires could be lighted and we rationed on stale cold food for a while. Reaching the haven, the kitchen fire was started, and preparations made for a much needed square meal. But before that could be prepared, the anchor let go, the vessel lurched, I grabbed the cook-stove, and Mary doused the fire with a couple of pails of water. It was no snug harbor for the Marysburg which lurched furiously to starboard and very unlady-like started out for the open lake. Then there was a regular go-as-you-please. The Marysburg pitched and heaved. I only heaved. I would have given a million dollars if I could only have been put ashore in a swamp without any compass—but I didn’t happen to have anywhere near that sum about me. Sailors, who are proverbially high rollers in the spending line when ashore, seldom have that much money on board ship. But the Marysburg and I were high-rollers all the same just then, and took every watery hurdle. If it hadn’t been for the nauseating mal-de-mer, I honestly believe I would have thoroughly enjoyed the excitement. As it was I merely listlessly looked upon the wild scenes as an unconcerned spectator; I knew if I were drowned I never would be hanged. But the storm spent its fury, and once out of troubled waters, down came the main mast, and the big anchor got up all by itself and jumped overboard. I threw up my hat—about the last thing I did throw up. Then I learned something about the law of averages—a vessel has to sustain a certain amount of damages to obtain any insurance. When the vessel arrived at Port Colborne, the claim for damages went through like a shot.

When we were eating our first real meal in the cabin, the Captain quietly remarked that if I, who had recovered from my temporary disability, could handle the tiller or the sails in the same way I handled my knife and fork, I would soon be amongst the greatest mariners of the age, and would soon be a distinguished officer in Her Majesty’s navy. Shiver my timbers, how I might have won the war and fame and a tin-pot title and a pension!

That reminds me that when Port Dalhousie was reached I went to a barber shop for a shave. My face had been nicely lathered, when I noticed the barber making furious flourishes through the air with his razor. Naturally I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he was cutting their heads off. Then he gave another slash at the, to me, invisible objects with heads on, and still another and another. It dawned upon me that he was seeing things that can only be seen by a man with the D.T.’s. “Hold on,” I said, as I rubbed the lather off my face with a towel, “Let me help you”, and arising from the chair I said confidentially to him, “Say, old man, don’t you think we could do the job better if we had a little drink?” This appealed to him favorably and we started out for a nearby saloon, where he ordered brandy and soda and poured out a stiff ’un while I tried to drink a glass of lager, and skipped out and never stopped running until I laid down exhausted in the fo’castle of the Marysburg. That was the closest shave I ever had.

Stories of Pets

We generally have had pet animals in the family, and amongst them were a French-Canadian chestnut stallion, eleven and a quarter hands high, and Major, Fido, Bismarck and Toby, of the canine family, and old Tom of the feline tribe. Pascoe, the pony, was a beauty, and I guess he must have been a Protestant, for one Twelfth of July, when an Orange parade was passing with bands playing, he ran amongst a group of onlookers on the lawn in front of the house and seizing Miss Annie Carroll, a young lady visiting my mother, by the shoulders with his teeth, threw her down and tried to trample on her. Fortunately we interfered in time and prevented her from being hurt. Annie was the only Roman Catholic in the crowd—and, unless Pascoe had had strong religious convictions, it was difficult to understand why he should have deliberately picked on the only Roman in the party.

Fido was a little black and tan with a religious turn of mind, and he knew when Sunday came around. He accompanied the family to St. John’s Church, over a mile away, and always heralded our coming with loud sharp barks, which never ceased until all of us, including Fido, were seated in the pew. This got to be a nuisance, and Fido was confined in the barn the following Sunday morning. When we tried to find Fido the next Sunday morning, to tie him in the barn, his dogship could not be found—until we reached St. John’s, where he, with his infernal loud bark, was waiting at the church door, and joined us as usual in the morning devotions.

Bismarck was named after the ex-Chancellor of Germany, because he looked like him, and was a good watch-dog. I had been away from home for five years, and, returning one evening, was met at the gate by Biz, who growled at me. We stood facing each other for several minutes, Biz evidently determined that I should not go further, and I awaiting developments. Finally I called out, “Why, Biz”. While he had forgotten me, he instantly recognized my voice and jumped joyfully at me, wagged the stump of his short tail vigorously and gave every demonstration of joy. Poor Major, who had reached an advanced age, and for whom food was specially cooked by mother, went out one evening, ate some ground glass mixed with lard which some fiends had placed on the streets, came home and, lying with head on the doorstep, passed away with a wistful look in his great brown eyes, which brought tears to ours. Toby, who joined my family in recent years and is still with us, is a French fox terrier, and can do anything requiring intelligence except talk. Toby is very fond of my grandson George, whose especial pet she is. She had never seen a German helmet to our knowledge, but one day when George put one on she ferociously flew at him in a towering rage. He went out of the room and returned with a German forage cap on his head, and again the dog made a quick, vicious dash at him, and he had to hide the offending headgear before she could be quieted. There was intelligence for you, but not so much as she displayed when, as George wrote me at Atlanta: “Toby is getting along fine. She bit the Chinaman to-day, when he brought the laundry bill.”

Poetry—and Me

I might as well candidly admit two things, and the admission is made with not too much vaunting pride. The first is that I once had great aspirations of being a poet, and while I had not the nerve to imagine I would reach the top-notcher class with Shakespeare, Byron, Tennyson, Bobby Burns, Campbell and other noted writers, I had fond hopes of at least having my effusions printed (at my own expense) in some magazine or other as a starter, until Fame would overtake me, and then—. But Fame couldn’t even catch up to me, let alone overtake me, although some of my effusions were highly spoken of by friends who had borrowed or wanted to borrow money from me. Here is one, which I did not dash off—just like that—but labored several years at it, and forget now whether it is finished or not. It was my intention to make it an epic; as I read it now, it looks most like an epicac. But here it is:

I wonder if in the early dawn,

    When upon God’s great creating plan

He builded sky and sea and land

    And moulded clay into living man,

Why used He earth in this grand work

    Instead of carving hardened stone?

Was it because He knew that man

    Could not—would not—live alone?

Then using the very softest dust

    He made Man plastic—so his coming mate

Could always mould him as she wished,

    Which she has done since Eve He did create.

That reminds me of Bill Smith coming into the Gazette office at Whitby one day a good many years ago, and telling me he was composing an elegy on his little dead brother, and wanted to know if I would print it for him. I told him we were a little short of space, but if it didn’t occupy more than three or four columns I would do my level best. In a couple of weeks, in marched William, and very grandiloquently laid his masterpiece before me. It wasn’t as long as he had been writing it. In fact it read:

“That little brave,

 That little slave,

 They laid him in the cold, cold grave.”


William Smith.

One beautiful thing about it was that, like the speech of one of Joe Martin’s Cabinet ministers, out in British Columbia, it was of his own composure. The circulation of the Gazette increased largely that week, for William came in and absent-mindedly took away a couple of dozen copies to send to sympathizing friends and relatives.

An Exaggerated Report

The other admission is that false reports about a person are never true. For instance, sixteen years ago the Charlottetown, P.E.I., Guardian unblushingly reported my death, and while the reading of the obituary notice was not uninteresting, it was not altogether self-satisfying. It reads as follows:

“With sincere regret many thousands of people will learn of the death of George H. Ham of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Montreal. Very few men had so extensive an acquaintance or so many friends. He was full of good-will for everybody. During his illness letters and telegrams poured in from every quarter expressing most sincere desires for his recovery, but it had been otherwise ordered. He leaves a memory fragrant with the kindnesses that thousands have received at his hands.”

Of course, I didn’t demand a retraction, but when Mr. J. B. McCready, the editor, was seen during my visit to Charlottetown, a year or two later, he was willing to make one. Finally Mac and I agreed that it would not be advisable to spoil a good news item, just because it wasn’t altogether correct. So we let it go at that, although I have always maintained it wasn’t true.

But to this day, the paragraph, neatly framed in becoming black, lies before me on my office desk, and when anything goes wrong, and I feel down in the mouth, I pick it up and read it and say to myself: “Oh, well, things could easily be worse; this might have been true.” Which is some consolation.

A Brief Summary

After a brief newspaper experience in Guelph, Uxbridge, and as correspondent of the Toronto press, I started out in May, 1875, for some western point not then definitely determined on. Prince Arthur’s Landing offered no particular attraction for a rambling reporter in those days, so I headed for Winnipeg, and reached there—after experiencing the first steamboat collision in the Red River—with four dollars in pocket, ten of which I owed. Being a practical printer, I was offered a position on the Free Press, after besieging the office for a week. Then I rose to the dignity of city editor, and in less than four years published a paper of my own—the Tribune—which was afterwards amalgamated with the Times, of which I became managing editor. Then ill-health caused my retirement, and a beneficent Government made me registrar of deeds for the county of Selkirk. The introduction of the Torrens system, which required the registrar to be a barrister of ten years’ standing, knocked me out of the position, although I produced any number of witnesses that I had a longer standing than that at the bar (now abolished) and so I returned to newspaper work. After sixteen years of constant work in the bustling city, I was sent for by Mr. (Sir William) Van Horne, who kindly added my name to the pay-roll of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

Now, in 1921, having passed the allotted three score and ten of the Scriptures and the regulated three score and five of the C.P.R., I plug away at my desk or on the trains just as cheerfully and as hopefully as I did in my younger days—crossing the continent at least twice or more times every year and sometimes visiting nearly every state in the Union, with an occasional odd trip once in an age to the Old Country, Cuba, Mexico, Bahama Islands or Newfoundland. The rest of my time is spent at home.



Winnipeg a City of Live Wires—Three Outstanding

Figures—Rivalry Between Donald A. and Dr.

Schultz—Early Political Leaders—When Winnipeg

was Putting on its First Pants—Pioneer

Hotels—The Trials of a Reporter—Not Exactly

an Angelic City—The First Iron

Horse—Opening of the Pembina Branch—Profanity

by Proxy—The Republic

of Manitoba—The Plot to Secede.

Winnipeg is a live wire city. That does not have to be proven. Almost any one of its progressive business men will admit that, if cornered, but it is doubtful if in its couple of hundred thousand or so of people it holds as many distinguished “live wires” as did the muddy, generally disreputable village that in, say, 1873, with a thousand or perhaps fifteen hundred people, straggled along Main Street from Portage Avenue to Brown’s Bridge, near the present site of the City Hall, and sprawled between Main Street and the river. It was without sidewalk or pavements; it had neither waterworks, sewerage nor street lights. The nearest railroad was at Moorhead on the Red River, 222 miles away. Its connection with the outer world was one, or possibly two, steamers on the Red River in the summer, and by weekly stage in winter. It boasted telegraph connection with the United States and Eastern Canada by way of St. Paul, during the intervals when the line was working. Although essentially Canadian it was practically cut off from direct connection with Canada. The Dawson route to Port Arthur could be travelled with great labor, pains and cost; but did not admit of the transportation of supplies. All freight came by Northern Pacific Railway to Moorhead; then by steamer, flat boat or freight team to Winnipeg.

But the Winnipeg of that day was recognized to be then, as it is now, the gateway to the Canadian Prairie West where lay the hope of Canada’s future greatness. The transfer of governmental authority over Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company to Canada had taken place in 1869; Canadian authority had been established by the first Red River expedition of 1870; a transcontinental railway was to be built at an early date that would displace the primitive conditions then existing. The doors of vast opportunity lay wide open and Canada’s adventurous sons flocked to Winnipeg to have a part in the great expansion—the building of a newer and greater Canadian West. They were big men, come together with big purpose. Their ideas were big, and they fought for the realization of them. They struggled for place and power and advantage, not with regard to the little, isolated village which was the field of their activities and endeavors; but always with an eye to the city that now is and to the great plains as they now are.

They saw what was coming; they were there to bring it. Yet those who lived to see their visions realized, as they are to-day, are few and far between. The boom of 1881 seemed to promise that realization, while the pioneers of the early ’70’s were still to the fore. But the promise of the boom was not fulfilled—then. It was only a mirage, and when it passed it left the majority of the pioneers blown off the map financially and otherwise. And few ever “came back”. Since the boom of 1882, the soul of Winnipeg has never been what it was before. The later Winnipeg may be a better city. It was a short life from ’71 to ’82, but while it lasted, it was life with a “tang” to it—a “tang” born of conditions that cannot be repeated and therefore cannot be reproduced.

The Live Wires of the Seventies

Who were those live wires of the ’70’s? I shall just mention a few whose reputations have been established before the world by after events. No one will deny the outstanding ability and commanding position in national, imperial and even world affairs, achieved by the late Lord Strathcona. In Winnipeg in those early ’70’s he was chief commissioner of the Hudson’s Bay Company, resident in Winnipeg, and took an active part in all that concerned the business or politics of the country.

“Jim” Hill flatboated down the Red River from Abercrombie and Moorhead to Winnipeg in ’70, ’71 and ’72. In ’73 he was the chief member of the firm of Hill, Griggs & Co., owning and operating the small steamer Selkirk on the Red River in opposition to the “Kittson Line” (really the H.B.C.) steamer International. Alex. Griggs was captain of the Selkirk, and Hill rustled business and was general manager. How small that day of small things was may be judged by the fact that these two stern wheel steamboats on the Red River transported all supplies of all kinds used in the trade of the vast Northwest; and at that the International was laid up in the fall for lack of business. Of course they had to meet the competition of flat boats. In any case Hill was squeezed out of the transportation business on the Red River. The Selkirk passed into the service of the “Kittson Line” and Hill entirely withdrew his interest in the development of the Canadian West. Some years afterwards he joined forces with his late opposition on the Red River in organizing and pushing what became the Great Northern railway system of to-day.

Amongst the men of the ’70’s, or indeed before the ’70’s, was James H. Ashdown, one of the many who entered in the business race, and one of the few who has realized to the full the success for which he hoped and planned. Mr. Ashdown was in Winnipeg before the transfer to Canada—no doubt in expectation of the event. As a Canadian he opposed the ambitions of Louis Riel and was imprisoned by Riel during his short reign. A careful but enterprising business man, the boom of 1882, that destroyed so many of his business colleagues and competitors, left him unshaken. His business has steadily expanded since that time. To-day Mr. Ashdown belongs to his business. In the ’70’s he was a fighting force for progress. In the struggle for competition and lower freight rates on the Red River he took a leading part, and was the means of establishing the “Merchants Line”, consisting of the Minnesota and the Manitoba. The Manitoba was sunk on her first trip by a collision with the “Kittson Line” International. While that seemed to put the “Merchants Line” out of business, the course of the subsequent damage litigation was such that a favorable arrangement towards Winnipeg merchants was made by the “Kittson Line”; and this bridged over the river freight conditions until the arrival of the railways. In later days when financial difficulties seemed likely to overcome the big city, Mr. Ashdown became mayor and admittedly put the city on its feet. No one to-day will deny Mr. Ashdown the attribute of being a live wire.

Another old-timer of the early ’70’s to establish his title to rank with the best of them under modern conditions was “Sandy” Macdonald. Mr. Macdonald was a resident of Winnipeg in the ’70’s but did not go into business for himself until after the boom. However, he soon made up for lost time. During the slow moving decades that followed the boom, Mr. Macdonald expanded his wholesale grocery business until it spread all over the west from Winnipeg to the Coast. Some years ago he sold out to a then recently organized company for several millions. But his activities did not cease. With a new organization he is doing as much and as widespread a business as ever, following his own original lines as to cash sales and co-operative employment. Mr. Macdonald is essentially a progressive along all lines and has served the modern city both as alderman and mayor.



But a city must have other interests than commerce and transportation if it is to be a real city. Education is of paramount importance. Now that there is a Manitoba University and a number of colleges given to higher education along all accepted modern lines, representing an expenditure of millions, it is in order to recall that the first Manitoba college was established through the single-minded purpose and almost single-handed efforts of Rev. Dr. Bryce, of the Presbyterian Church, who still occupies a high place amongst the educationists of the West. Manitoba College was begun, like almost all else in those early ’70’s, on faith in the future and a determination to be ready for it when it came. The chief trade of the city was in buffalo robes from the plains; production from the farms, limited as it was at best, had been paralyzed for several successive seasons by the grasshopper plague. The immigrants, who were arriving, needed almost everything more than they did education. And yet Dr. Bryce, having the future in mind, worked on. It is a long road from the Manitoba College of 1873 to the University and College of 1921. But Dr. Bryce has been pushing the cause through every change and has the satisfaction of seeing to-day the realization of the hopes with which he entered on the work.

Lord Strathcona and “Jim” Hill have passed from the scene of their efforts and triumphs. Messrs. Ashdown and Macdonald and Rev. Dr. Bryce are still here to answer for themselves. It is not to be supposed that these names exhaust the list of outstanding figures who held the stage in those early years. They are merely mentioned as examples that prove beyond argument the live wire character of the early population.

The Rivalry Between Smith and Schultz

An instance of the rivalry of those early giants was that between Donald A. Smith and Dr. Schultz. Mr. Smith was commissioner of the Hudson’s Bay Company, by far the most powerful commercial organization in the west, which also controlled the only inlet and outlet of trade or travel by its “Kittson Line” of steamers on the Red River. He was active in civic, provincial and federal politics and was considered by the new Canadian influx to be anti-Canadian and non-progressive. Dr. Schultz was a Canadian physician from Windsor, Ontario, who had come to the Red River settlement and established himself in medical practice before the transfer of 1869. He had championed the Canadian cause both before and during the Riel rebellion, and escaped Riel’s vengeance by leaving the country in the middle of winter; but his property was confiscated by the rebels. When he returned in the wake of the first expedition he was of course in strong favor with the constantly increasing Canadian element of the population. At the same time in his practice as a physician he acquired the confidence of many of the native Red River settlers, so that he was in a strong position to contest the claims of Mr. Smith’s political support. He had some aptitude for trade as well as for medicine, politics and real estate, and there is no doubt that his vision of the future was as far reaching and on much the same lines as that of Mr. Smith, who was the first representative from Manitoba in the Canadian Parliament.

Both were men of boundless energy and ambition. They were in opposition to each other on all points and at all times. While Dr. Schultz helped to ultimately defeat Mr. Smith for parliament, the latter finally carried away the prize of railway construction and control that had been the great dream of Dr. Schultz. Although the doctor was finally distanced in the race by his great rival he nevertheless achieved a large measure of distinction. He sat in the Commons and afterwards in the Senate. He was made a knight and for years was lieutenant-governor of Manitoba. Had his health not broken down, his death following, there is no saying how far he might ultimately have gone. These facts are mentioned not to revive ancient animosities but to prove that the men who achieved success did not do so because they had the field to themselves. They had to fight every inch of the way; then as much as now or possibly then more than now.

The Political Leaders

Generally speaking, the politicians of Manitoba in the ’70’s were of higher calibre than is generally found in new countries. Head and shoulders above all was Hon. John Norquay, a native, who became Premier after the retirement of Hon. A. R. Davis, a very shrewd politician. Mr. Norquay, who personally resembled Sir James Carroll, the Maori-Irishman or Irish-Maorian of New Zealand, was a high minded statesman, eloquent beyond ordinary and his honesty and motives were never questioned, except by the cheap agitating politicians. His sudden death was a loss to Canada, for had he lived he would have left his mark at Ottawa. Hon. Thomas Greenway was his sturdy opponent and they were great bosom friends. There were others like John Winram, William and Robert Bathgate, the former starting the first gas company in the city, Col. McMillan, H. M. Howell, Tom Scott, W. F. McCreary, A. W. Ross, Hugh Sutherland, Gilbert McMicken, Stewart Mulvey, Kenneth Mackenzie, Hon. Joseph Royal, C. P. Brown, D. M. Walker, Tom Daly, Hon. A. A. C. Lariviere, D. B. Woodworth, Isaac Campbell, W. F. Luxton, Joseph Ryan, Dr. O’Donnell, E. P. Leacock, Charlie Mickle, Fred Wade, John Macbeth, Alex. M. Sutherland, E. H. G. Hay, with whom at later date were associated Hon. Joseph Martin, Clifford Sifton, Dr. Harrison, Dr. Wilson, Sir R. P. Roblin, Sir James Aiken, Somerset Aiken, L. M. Jones, J. D. Cameron, Joshua Callaway and Charlie Sharpe, Amos Rowe, Tom Kelly, the big contractor, Hugh John Macdonald, T. W. Taylor, W. B. Scarth, Hon. Robt. Rogers, J. H. D. Munson, Geo. Wallace, now M.P.; Sir Stewart and Willie Tupper, J. P. Curran and Tommy Metcalfe, who now ornament the bench; Heber Archibald was also a prominent figure, and many others, all of whom played their part in the development of the country.

I Strike Winnipeg

When I struck Winnipeg, the embryo city was just putting on its first pants. The route from eastern Canada was made in summer by the Great Lakes to Duluth or by rail through Minnesota to Fargo or Moorhead—just across the river from each other—the one being in Minnesota and the other in Dakota; and then by boat to the future western metropolis. I went up the Great Lakes to Thunder Bay, walked across the ice and rowed up the Kaministiquia River to Fort William on May 24th, 1875. Then I drove over to Port Arthur, where at Julius Sommer’s tavern, I sat down to a table covered with a checkered red and white table cloth for the first time in my life. The food was good enough—what there was of it—and plenty of it such as it was. After a short stay, I took the steamer for Duluth and the Northern Pacific to Moorhead. My seat-mate on the train from Duluth to Moorhead was Billy Bell—now Col. William G. Bell, a prominent citizen of Winnipeg. There were no sleeping cars then. At Aitken, Minnesota, a lumbering centre, one of those wild-eyed lumber-jacks with his red shirt sleeves rolled up and his trousers stuck in his top boots, leaped on the car, and, furiously brandishing a revolver, swaggered down the aisle.

“Who am I?” was his constant cry to the half-scared occupants of the coach. “Say, who am I? blankety, blankety, blank my blankety blank eyes, who am I?”

As he approached our seat, his voice became if possible a little louder and the revolver was flourished a little more frantically. It peeved me. So I grabbed Billy by the arm, and looking the disturber in the eye, sharply remarked:

“Billy, tell the gentleman who he is!”

That’s all there is to the story, for the bully subsided and vamoosed by the rear door amidst the sighs of relief and hearty laughter of the passengers.

The boat trip from Moorhead to Winnipeg occupied a couple of days and nights. There was keen competition between the old Kittson Line and the Merchants Line. I was a passenger on the International, which left first for the north. The Manitoba passed us some distance down the river, reached Winnipeg, and on its return south-bound trip was at Lemay’s Point, about five miles from Winnipeg, during the night. In rounding the bend, the International, doubtless not unintentionally, made a straight run for her, struck her under the guards, and she partially sank. I was unceremoniously thrown out of my berth, and rushed to the cabin, which was the scene of wild confusion and uproar. One scared fellow-passenger loudly shouted that the boat was sinking, and just then the mate came along, and, hitting him a wallop on the ear, which knocked him down, said: “You’re a dom liar. It’s the other boat that’s sinking.”

Something About Hotels

Winnipeg warmly welcomed the new-comer, and made him feel at home. The old Davis House on Main Street had been the only hotel in town, but, as population increased, Ed. Roberts’ Grand Central and the International were its rivals, and afterwards the Queen’s—the palace hotel of the Northwest, as it was ostentatiously advertised—was built, and with it the Merchants.

Later came the Revere, Leland, Winnipeg, Golden, Grand Union, Imperial, Johnny Haverty’s C. P. R. Hotel at the south end of the city, Duncan Sinclair’s Exchange, Scotty Mclntyre’s, Taff’s, Pat O’Connor’s St. Nicholas, George Velie’s Gault House, Denny Lennon’s, Billy O’Connor’s, John Baird’s, Johnny Gurns’, Bob Arthur’s, the Potter House, the Brouse House, Montgomery Brothers’ Winnipeg, John Poyntz’, the Clarendon and many more to fill in the immediate wants, until the Manitoba, an offspring of the Northern Pacific was erected, only to be shortly after destroyed by fire. Now the city has the Royal Alexandra and Fort Garry, which rank amongst the finest hotels on the continent, and a host of smaller but very comfortable places. Winnipeg during and ever since the boom has never lacked splendid restaurants. Clougher’s, Bob Cronn’s, Jim Naismith’s and the Woodbine were the leading ones, but that old veteran, Donald McCaskill, had a mania for opening and closing eating places with astounding regularity. Chad’s place at Silver Heights was a pleasant and well-run resort, but one can’t play ball all winter and so other games were played in some of which what are called chips were substituted to the satisfaction of all concerned, except perhaps the losers.

All of this reminds me that one of the north-end hotels was called the California, and its proprietor was Old Man Wheeler. When in the late ’70’s it was determined to form a Conservative Association, the California was chosen as the place for the gathering of the faithful in that locality. Hon. D. M. Walker, afterwards appointed to a judgeship, and myself were in charge of the meeting. We arrived early to see that all necessary arrangements had been completed. Sitting in an upper room the Judge asked me if I knew what Wheeler’s politics were and I said I didn’t, but would ascertain. So I stamped on the floor, which was the usual signal that someone was wanted. Old Man Wheeler quickly appeared on the scene, and the Judge asked:

“Wheeler, what are your politics?”

“Oh, I don’t mind,” he replied, “I’ll take a little Scotch.”

The meeting was a huge success, after such an auspicious opening. The Judge said it could not help but be.

The Trials of a Reporter

While Winnipeg in the ’70’s was in a sort of Happy Valley, with times fairly good and pretty nearly everybody knowing everybody else or knowing about them, the reporter’s position was not, at all times, a very pleasant one, for on wintry days, when the mercury fell to forty degrees below zero, and the telegraph wires were down, and there were no mails and nothing startling doing locally, it was difficult to fill the Free Press, then a comparatively small paper, with interesting live matter. A half-dozen or so drunks at the police court only furnished a few lines, nobody would commit murder or suicide, or even elope to accommodate the press, and the city council only met once a week; but we contrived to issue a sheet every day that was not altogether uninteresting. Of course, when anything of consequence did happen, the most was made of it. A. W. Burrows (Dad) was a great source of news, and many an item he gave me. He was in the real estate business, and a hustler but lived long before his time in Winnipeg.

The city council was an attraction to many citizens and spirited encounters were frequent and popular with the assembled crowd. At one meeting Ald. Frank Cornish called Ald. Alloway a puppy, and, when asked by the mayor to apologize, did so by saying that when he came to think of it, his brother alderman was not a puppy, but a full-grown dog. This did not meet with the approval of his worship, whereupon Ald. Cornish very humbly and penitently apologized to the entire canine race. Ald. Wright and Ald. Banning had a regular set-to at another meeting, in which both got the worst of it. “Them was the days.” It was said of Mr. Cornish that when he was mayor of Winnipeg—he was the first—he hauled himself up before himself on a charge of being, well, let’s say not too sober, and fined himself $5.00 and costs. The attendants at the police court loudly applauded this Spartan act, until they heard the mayor say to himself:

“Cornish, is this your first offence?” and culprit Cornish blandly informed Mayor Cornish that it was. Then his worship addressing himself to himself, said:

“Well, if it’s your first offence, Cornish, I’ll remit your fine.” And the laughter was resumed.

Not Exactly an Angelic City

It would be a mistake to imagine, that the Winnipeg of the early ’70’s was a city of angels. It is a regrettable fact that some, if not many, of its leading citizens may fairly be described as otherwise.

A difficulty in dealing with the more human and therefore more interesting features of the progress of any community is that the events of a half century ago cannot be fairly read in the light of to-day. Custom is law in a large measure. What was allowable or even commendable under the custom prevailing in one age may be neither allowable nor commendable under the custom of half-a-century later. The reading public do not make allowances. They are apt to judge the facts related of the past by the standards of the present; they do not recognize the absolute truth of the phrase, “Other times, other manners.”

Therefore many legitimately interesting episodes of the old days must go unrecorded rather than that the men of enterprise, energy, foresight and patriotism who put Winnipeg on the map in the years from ’71 to ’82 should be misunderstood.

The men who, so to speak, put the “Win” in Winnipeg deserve the best that those who are the heirs of their efforts and successes, or even failures, can say or think of them. The occasion was great, and they were men of the occasion.

The First Iron Horse

The arrival of the first locomotive in Winnipeg was a red-letter day for the whole Canadian West. It was on October 9, 1877. Brought down the Red River on a barge, with six flat cars and a caboose, towed by the old Kittson Line stern-wheeler, Selkirk, her voyage down stream was one continuous triumphal progress from Pembina at the International boundary to Winnipeg.

The Free Press of that day, on whose staff I was city editor, telegraph editor, news editor, reporter, proof reader and exchange editor, gave the following account from its Pembina correspondent of the eventful affair:

“The steamer Selkirk arrived at Pembina yesterday (Sunday), with three barges, having on board a locomotive and tender, a caboose and six platform cars, in charge of Mr. Joseph Whitehead, contractor on the C.P.R. As this is the pioneer locomotive making its way down the Red River Valley, the steamer was hailed by the settlers with the wildest excitement and greatest enthusiasm, especially as Mr. Whitehead had steam up on his engine, and notified the inhabitants that the iron horse was coming by the most frantic shrieks and snortings. On passing Fort Pembina the flotilla was saluted by the guns of the (U.S.) artillery, and upon arrival at Pembina it was met by Captain McNaught, commanding at Fort Pembina, and his officers, Hon. J. Frankenfield, N. E. Nelson, and his associates in the U. S. customs, and the population en masse. The flotilla was handsomely decorated with flags and bunting, proud of the high distinction of carrying the first locomotive destined to create a new era for travel and traffic in the great northwest.”

The Free Press said in part on October 9th:

“At an early hour this morning, wild, unearthly shrieks from the river announced the coming of the steamer Selkirk, with the first locomotive ever brought into Manitoba; and about 9 o’clock the boat steamed past the Assiniboine. A large crowd of people collected upon the river banks, and, as the steamer swept past the city, mill whistles blew furiously, and bells rang out to welcome the iron horse. By this time the concourse had assembled at No. 6 warehouse (at foot of Lombard street) where the boat landed, and in the crowd were to be noticed people of many different nationalities represented in the prairie provinces.

“The Selkirk was handsomely decorated for the occasion with Union Jacks, Stars and Stripes, banners with the familiar ‘C.P.R.’ and her own bunting; and with the barge conveying the locomotive and cars ahead of her, also gaily decorated with flags and evergreens and a barge laden with railway ties on each side presented a novel spectacle. The whistles of the locomotive and the boat continued shrieking, the mill whistles joined in the chorus, the bells clanged—a young lady, Miss Racine, pulling manfully at the ropes—and the continuous noise and din proclaimed loudly that the iron horse had arrived at last. Shortly after landing three cheers were given for Mr. Joseph Whitehead, and in a few minutes a crowd swarmed on board and examined the engine most minutely. The caboose and flat cars, which also came in for their share of attention, each bearing the name ‘Canadian Pacific’ in white letters. After remaining a couple of hours, during which she was visited by many hundreds, the Selkirk steamed to a point below Point Douglas ferry, where a track had been laid to the water’s edge, on which it was intended to run the engine this afternoon.

“It is a somewhat singular coincidence as mentioned by Mr. Rowan (C.P.R. engineer in charge then) on a recent public occasion, that Mr. Whitehead, who now introduces the first locomotive into this young country, should have operated as fireman to the engine which drew the first train that ran on the very first railway in England—the historic line built in Yorkshire between Stockton-on-Tees and Darlington. Surely the event of to-day is not one whit less important to Canadians in Manitoba than was that in which Mr. Whitehead figured so many years ago to Englishmen, in Yorkshire. It is no wonder that the settlers on the banks of the Red River went almost wild with excitement in witnessing the arrival of the ‘iron-horse.’ ”

A lone blanketed Indian standing on the upper bank of the river looked down rather disdainfully upon the strange iron thing and the interested crowd of spectators who hailed its coming. He evinced no enthusiasm, but stoically gazed at the novel scene. What did it portend? To him it might be the dread thought of the passing of the old life of his race, the alienation of the stamping grounds of his forefathers, the early extinction of their great God-given provider, the buffalo, which for generations past had furnished the red man with all the necessities of life—shelter, food, clothing, shaganappy—a necessity for his cart or travois—and even fuel. The untutored mind may have dimly pictured the paleface usurping his rights to an hitherto unquestioned freedom of the plains, and the driving back of the red man by the overwhelming march of civilization. Whatever he may have thought, this iron horse actually meant that the wild, free, unrestrained life of the Indian was nearing its end, and that the buffalo, with its life-giving gifts and its trails and wallows, would disappear, to be replaced by immense tracts of golden grain fields which would, in years to come, make this fair land the granary of the world. Buffalo and agriculture are an impossibility together, and the law of the survival of the fittest is unfailing. And so it was in this case, when the first locomotive was the avant courier of thousands to come.

The Pembina Branch

In the early days of December, 1878, the last spike of the Pembina Branch of the C.P.R., connecting St. Boniface and St. Vincent, Minnesota, where connection was made with the St. Paul & Pacific road to St. Paul, was driven. There were no palatial sleepers or high-toned parlor cars in those days on the road, and the primitive train consisted of several not very comfortable flat cars and a box car in which were some rude benches, a lot of straw carpeting, and a small wood-burning heater. It was called “Joe Upper’s private parlor car”. There were a great many of the first families of Winnipeg aboard, many of the excursionists being of the gentler sex. The ceremony of driving the last spike took place at Rosseau River. There was a dispute as to which lady should have the honor of doing the driving, and to settle the controversy, U. S. Consul Taylor diplomatically suggested that they all take a whack at it. And they did—gently tapping the spike with a heavy sledge hammer, but not driving it very far into the tie. After all had had their turn, and the spike was still in painful evidence, the consul called upon Mary Sullivan, the big strong buxom daughter of the boss section man, who with one mighty blow drove the spike home amidst the loud cheers of the assembled multitude.

Jack McGinn, now with the Canada Carbide Company, of Shawinigan Falls, Que., was the first paymaster of the road, which was the first completed link of the C.P.R. system, and its first connection with any other railway, and it gave Manitoba and the Northwest their first rail connection with the outside world. The contractors were Upper & Willis, Joe being a Kingston (Ont.) boy. Immediately after, a primitive passenger service was inaugurated. On the first train, on which was a first-class car borrowed from the St. P. & P., were half a dozen or so passengers, and the conductor asked Jack for instructions as to their tickets, of which there weren’t any. Jack was equal to the emergency and wrote on an ordinary sheet of foolscap paper:

Ticket, No. 1, Trip No. 1, St. Boniface to St. Vincent. Passenger—S. Orson Shorey, December 2, 1878. J. St. L. McGinn.

To add to its value as a souvenir, Jack had it pretty well covered, front and back, with signatures, including: Frederick Hayward, conductor; J. Vannaman, driver; R. R. McLennan, road master; R. S. McGinn, master of stores. Big Rory McLennan was afterwards member of Parliament for Cornwall in the House of Commons, and the world’s champion for tossing the caber and throwing the hammer.

The following summer the Pembina Branch was taken over by the Government and was operated by T. J. Lynskey in charge until it passed into the hands of the present Canadian Pacific Railway Company. Mr. Shorey was very proud of his souvenir ticket which he kept carefully framed. Jack McGinn was not only paymaster, but the first superintendent of the C.P.R., then under the control of the contractor.

Lord Strathcona—and Profanity

In the general election of 1878, the then constituency of Lisgar, which included Winnipeg and the country around it, was contested by the then Hon. Donald A. Smith and the Hon. Alex. Morris, who was previously Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba. It was a very closely contested election and Donald A. (as the afterwards Lord Strathcona was generally alluded to) won by the narrow majority of 9. For some hours on the night of the election, the result was in grave doubt, owing to the returns from St. Charles not being received. The general impression was that Mr. Morris was elected. There was deep consternation in the Smith camp and while Mr. Smith himself was not at all a profane man, circumstances caused him to swear by proxy, so to speak. Bob Woods was his right hand man, and when things looked decidedly sombre Bob gave vent to his pent-up feelings and burst forth into language in which he did not usually indulge. Trying to console his chief, he very forcibly remarked:

“Oh, blank, the blank sons of guns, they’re a lot of low-down dirty blankety, blank traitors and scoundrels.”

And the supposed defeated candidate, clasping his hands and rubbing them as if washing them in invisible water—a peculiarity of his—acquiescently replied:

“Are they not, Mr. Woods, are they not?”

“Yes, and they are a miserable black-livered lot of blankety, blank pirates and political prostitutes.”

“Are they not, Mr. Woods, are they not?” Mr. Smith enquiringly coincided.

“Judas Iscariot was a Simon Pure white angel, compared with these blankety, blank blackguards and cut-throats.”

And Mr. Smith again agreed by:

“Was he not, Mr. Woods, was he not?”

“And they can all go to h——” (not heaven) hotly thundered Bob.

“Can they not, Mr. Woods, can they not?” sympathetically came Mr. Smith’s reply.

And this conversation unceasingly kept up, until the missing returns came in, and showed that the expected defeat had been turned into victory.

And that was the nearest that the future Lord Strathcona was ever known to indulge in profanity.

The Republic of Manitoba

A well-known if not very prominent resident of Winnipeg was Mr. Thomas Spence, who arrived in the ’60’s. He was well educated and possessed of the average amount of brains, but he was not by any means in the first or second rank of statesmen, capitalists or commercial magnates. And yet Tom, as he was familiarly called, was the first and only president of a Canadian republic that ever existed. When the authority of the Hudson’s Bay Company was nearing an end, Tom hied himself to Portage la Prairie, then little more than a hamlet, and founded the Republic of Manitoba, which was to be altogether self-supporting and to be separate and distinct from the Hudson’s Bay Company, in fact a government on its own hook. Tom surrounded himself with a committee of five and immediately proceeded to provide for the levying of taxes, the erection of public buildings, the making of Indian treaties, the construction of roads and other public works, all of which he set forth in a letter to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. In a little over four months after the dispatch of his letter, President Spence received a body blow in the shape of an acknowledgement from the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, in which he was plainly told that his “so-called self-supporting government had no force in law” and “no authority to create or organize a government without reference to the Hudson’s Bay Company or the Crown,” and he was officially warned that he and his coadjutors were acting illegally and incurring grave responsibilities. The republic then collapsed—long before it had reached its first birthday. It was an inglorious ending, and Tom’s roseate dreams of a proud presidential career were rudely shattered. The ex-president returned to Winnipeg, and became satisfied with a fairly good position in the local Government service, but he always insisted that, if he had been given a chance, the Republic of Manitoba would have been one of the greatest and most prosperous countries in the universe—at any rate it would have been larger than the Principality of Monaco, more fertile than Greenland, not so torrid as Florida nor as mountainous as Mexico, and would have had as big a navy as Switzerland.



The Plot to Secede

One of the most exciting of the episodes in which I figured was the secession meeting held in the third storey of a big building immediately opposite the city hall. Mack Howse, Charles Stewart and some other disgruntled people called the meeting to pass resolutions that Manitoba should secede from the Dominion. T. J. Lynskey, of the Government Railway, learning this, resolved to head off the disloyal gathering. Obtaining a card of admission, a few hundred imitation ones were printed and distributed where they would do the most good. When the meeting opened with Mr. Stewart in the chair, the hall was packed—but not with faces familiar to many of the organization. Mr. Stewart, who was an Englishman and perfectly sincere in his views, seeing before him what might be a hostile audience, discreetly gave a moderate address, and when the secession resolution was read, there were calls for Mr. Wilson, father of Charlie and Herb Wilson, the lawyers, and himself a barrister of high standing. He was a staunch Liberal and also a staunch Canadian, and the merciless tongue-lashing he gave the seceders in a twenty minute speech would have done credit to Sir Richard Cartwright himself. His peroration, if not grand, was effective. Turning to the chairman, he shouted at him:

“And now, sir, if it were not for your gray hairs and your advanced age I would——”

And he glanced significantly at the open window near him.

There were calls for me and I was trying to keep the young men around me in leash. I simply told them that I had not come to speak, but to listen, but if it would facilitate matters at all, I would move that the chairman be a committee of one to secede. This fully met the views of the great majority of the meeting and when Johnny Gurn, who kept a restaurant which was not run altogether on temperance principles, rose and said: “I seconds the motion,” pandemonium broke loose and the meeting broke up. In descending the long flights of stairs some attempts were made by too enthusiastic individuals to interfere with the malcontents but there were enough of us to safeguard them.

At four o’clock next morning my doorbell rang—I lived in Fort Rouge then—and on going to the door who should be there but Charlie Stewart. Inviting him in, and offering him and myself some liquid refreshments, he began to explain about the meeting. What I wanted to know was who were the real instigators of the affair, but say what I would, he would not betray his friends. All I got out of him as he left the house at daybreak was:

“But I’ll tell you one thing, Mr. Ham, there’ll be no more meetings for me on a third storey. Ground floors for me every time after this.”

And thus ended an important chapter in the history of Manitoba, for if the secession motion had found its way into the American and European press, as it was intended it should, the results might have been serious.



The Big Winnipeg Boom—Winnipeg the Wicked—A

Few Celebrated Cases—Some Prominent

Old-Timers—The Inside Story of a

Telegraph Deal—When Trouble

Arose and Other Incidents.

Then came the boom of 1881-2 and sealskin coats and cloaks and diamond pins and diamond brooches and diamond rings were greatly in evidence. The city was all ablaze with the excitement of prospective riches. Champagne replaced Scotch and soda, and game dinners were very common. Auction sales were held daily and nightly, and in the auction rooms of Jim Coolican, Walter Dufour and Joe Wolf people bought recklessly. Property changed hands quickly at greatly enhanced values. Certainly a land-office business was being done. The craze spread to the rural districts and land surveyors and map artists worked overtime to fill orders. Lots in Winnipeg were plotted for miles beyond the city limits. Some non-existing “cities” were placed on the eastern market, and some swamps were brazenly offered in Winnipeg. If there ever was a fool’s paradise, it sure was located in Winnipeg. Men made fortunes—mostly on paper—and life was one continuous joy-ride.

A lot of us boarded at the Queen’s Hotel, then run by Jim Ross, at whose table a quiet coterie sat. Amongst the personnel of the party was La Touche Tupper, as good a fellow as ever lived, but a little inclined to vain boasting. He was a fairly good barometer of the daily land values. Some days when he claimed to have made $10,000 or $15,000 everything was lovely. The next day, when he could only credit himself with $3,000 or $4,000 to the good, things were not as well, and when the profits dropped, as some days they did, to a paltry $500 or $600, the country was going to the dogs. We faithfully kept count of La Touche’s earnings, and in the spring he had accumulated nearly a million in his mind. There were others. And all went as merry as a marriage bell, with wealth and wine on every hand, until one day, when lots in Edmonton were placed on the market, the craze ran higher than ever before. It was a frightful frenzy. Without any knowledge of the locality of the property, people invested their money in lots at fabulous prices. Many overbought, some tried to unload and the next morning there was a slump, and you couldn’t give away property as a gift. The boom had busted. Where, the day previous, the immense throng had gathered in such numbers that window panes were smashed, in their eagerness to buy, only those who wanted to sell were seen. It was the morning after the night before. And a mighty sad one it was.

And Winnipeg came down to earth again.

For some time after the big boom busted, there was a decided sag in the finances of many a Winnipegger. Of course, I kept in the procession, and managed to worry along pretty well, as I had a very warm friend in the late Chief Justice Howell, then a partner in the law firm of Archibald & Howell. We kept flying kites with a good measure of success, for he had a high financial standing, and we never had a misunderstanding but once. It was all over a similarity of figures and a series of curious coincidences. We had a note for $175 in the bank, and it was overdue. A renewed note was promptly given—most of the promptness being due to the urgent request of the bank manager. It so happened that Mr. Howell’s current account had exactly $175 to his credit, and strange to say I was overdrawn just a similar amount. The bank at once wiped out my indebtedness with the note, and then took Mr. Howell’s $175 to pay it. When my good friend gave a small cheque the next day, it was returned to him with the ominous “N.S.F.” marked legibly upon it. My, but he was wrathy, and in his anger came to me. We were both dumbfounded, but finally it got through my wool how the thing was done, and we both looked at each other like two lost babes in the wood. So we went out and soundly cussed all financial institutions in existence, and were only reconciled to our fate after a prolonged visit to Clougher’s.

Winnipeg the Wicked

In its early days, Winnipeg was reputed to be one of the two wickedest places in Canada. The other was a small Ontario town—Paris, if I remember aright. Winnipeggers didn’t object very much to having the doubtful distinction attributed to it, but they kicked like steers when linked with a small eastern village, where it would naturally be supposed the only outward and visible sign of sin would be the innocent little lambs gamboling on the green. If they were no worse than the Canadian Parisians—well, it was confoundedly humiliating—and they were somewhat ashamed of being put in the amateur class. Probably Paris might have a few who were “a devil of a fellow in his own home town,” but Winnipeg looked down in scorn on that mush-and-milk brand of real sporty life. Of course the city was pretty rapid, with lots to drink and plenty to gamble, and horse racing galore and similar sports were the rage. With dances, operas, swagger champagne suppers, and late hours, it was one continuous merry round. But gay life in Winnipeg was grossly exaggerated, because it was a comparatively small place, running speedily ahead of other places of even larger size in its daily round of gaiety. Hideous crime itself, as it is seen in the cities of its size to-day, was totally unknown. There was scarcely even a murder or a shooting scrap and very few scandals. The demi-mondaines were numerous and hilarious as were their patrons, but the police regulations were usually strictly enforced, and, while the bars were kept open until all hours of the night, the liquor was of a good quality, and there were fewer drunken people staggering on the streets than could be seen in other places which made greater pretensions of a monopoly of all the virtues. The police court records prove this. So while it was called wicked, it held no real genuine carnival of crime. It was simply a wide open frontier outpost of civilization.

Early in its infancy, it was invaded by a band of crooks from the south, who started in on the bad man act, but Chief Justice Wood soon put them where the dogs couldn’t bite them with long sentences in jail or Stoney Mountain penitentiary. Those who didn’t come up before the Judge made a mad dash for liberty across the line. There were a couple of executions, but only one Winnipeg murder, and the Gribben murder, where a whiskey peddler along the line of railway construction shot a cabin boy of one of the river boats to death. Taking it all in all, life in Winnipeg was as safe as it is in Westmount to-day—but a dashed sight more exciting.

Down at Fisher’s Landing in Minnesota, immigrants who there transferred from train to boat were unmercifully fleeced by Farmer Brown, who, driving a sorry looking yoke of oxen and wearing a bucolic make-up, victimized the immigrants with sad, sad tales of sorrow and misfortune, and when their sympathies were aroused through his unfailing flow of tears, he would trim them to a standstill at three card monte, at which he was an adept. There were other sharpers, of course, as there always are where there is a movement of people, but they did nothing actually sensational.

Interviewing a Murderer

Louis Thomas, an Indian, was found guilty of murdering a white man down near Morris, and was sentenced to death. A few days previous to the execution, a friend of mine who was a guard at the jail, which was then located at the bend on Main Street, near the city hall, tipped me off that the Indian wanted to see me. Although it was against the regulations, I managed to smuggle myself into his cell, and he told me the story of the crime. He had just got to the point of saying that two French-Canadians had taken the victim by the legs and thrown him into a well, when the sheriff appeared and ordered me out of the place and demanded my notes. Of course, I had to go, and backed out as dignified-like as I could, protesting that I was willing to give up my notes, until I reached the street door. Once outside the jail, I made a mad rush for the Free Press office, wrote up my report of the day’s exciting event, and that evening there was so much indignation expressed around town that next morning the Government appointed Hon. D. M. Walker to investigate the affair, and I was allowed to be present. The Indian had given me a couple of pages of foolscap on which he said was scribbled a confession in the Iroquois language, but it could easily be seen that it was merely scribbling and nothing more. When Mr. Walker confronted the prisoner he retracted every blessed word he had told me, and when next I saw him on the scaffold, he looked at me in a most careless, half-amused way, and, waving his hand towards me, cheerily said with the greatest nonchalance: “Bon jour, boy, bon jour.” Five minutes later, he dropped into eternity.

Schofield’s Escapade

Another exciting incident was the Schofield affair. Schofield was a trusted employee of the McMillan Bros.—D. H. and W. W.—who ran a flour mill near the river bank. One morning the office was found to be all topsy-turvy. Chairs were upset and other furniture scattered around promiscuously, and a large dent in a wooden desk evidenced that a club had been used. Drops of blood left a trail in the snow to the river and on the ice. The next day and next night ice cutting machines worked overtime making holes in the ice, and grappling irons were unavailingly lowered to rescue the body. People were aghast at the awful crime and Schofield’s pretty wife was the object of everybody’s sympathy. The following day, Schofield’s remains were found—down in Minneapolis, although the waters of the Red River flowed the other way. An American customs officer at St. Vincent, on the boundary, reported a man answering Schofield’s description who had passed through on the St. Paul train the night of the awful tragedy, and that he was dressed like an ordinary working man but had forgotten to discard his white starched shirt, whose cuffs with gold sleeve links had attracted his attention as being a queer sort of a combination for a laboring man. Schofield’s rooms were searched and in them was found a collection of dyes, false moustaches, wigs, etc., with which he had disguised himself. As his accounts were all right, it was puzzling to know why he had put up such a job, until it was discovered that it was to secure a fairly good insurance which he had on his life.

An Express Robbery

Then there was Jim Van Rensaellaer’s case. Jim was a big, fat, good-natured agent of the American Express Company at Winnipeg and of the Winnipeg-Moorhead stage company for years, and was liked by everybody. One day, it was discovered that from the vault in the express office had been taken a package of money—said to be $10,000 but really $15,000 (to save extra express charges) which a bank was sending to Winnipeg. There was absolutely no clue to the robbery. For years Van was shadowed by local and imported detectives and every device resorted to in order to catch him. His friends stood staunchly by him, but the money was gone, and who could have taken it if not Van? Coming on the train from Devil’s Lake, Dakota, to Grand Forks one day, I met Jack Noble, a detective, whom I had known for years. He told me the express company never let up in running down express robbers, and that he expected to catch Van before long—and this was a couple of years after the theft. In a friendly spirit I told Van all this when I reached home, but Van seemed perfectly unconcerned, and said he was as much interested in solving the mystery as the company was. Some years later when in London, England, I spent an evening with H. G. McMicken, who at the time of this robbery occupied part of the express office as a railway and steamship ticket office. He was a sort of amateur detective and could open a safe in first-class Raffles style, and he had given a good deal of attention and thought to this affair. The only solution he could offer—and it was probably the correct one—was that on the eventful day a number of workmen were employed in whitewashing the office. The vault door had been left ajar, and one of the men, seizing the opportunity, had snatched the package and secreted it in his whitewash pail, where it would immediately be covered with the lime solution. He could then easily leave for lunch with his booty in the pail, which he doubtless did. This theory was afterwards corroborated by a contractor who told a friend of mine that the culprit had confessed the crime to him—a long time after it had been committed. And the express company was out only $10,000 besides its expenses for detectives, and the bank lost $5,000. But the latter’s reputation suffered more than Van’s.

The Case of Lord Gordon-Gordon

A remarkable case was that of Lord Gordon-Gordon, a presumed nobleman, who in the early ’70’s cut a wide swath in Minnesota, where he was royally entertained by leading people. He intimated that he was acting for his sister, who desired to invest heavily in western lands. He was “pie” for the Minnesotans, who were willing to unload on her ladyship all the land she coveted. A fine looking gentlemanly fellow, he quickly made hosts of friends. It was not long before it was discovered that his lordship had previously got into difficulties in New York with Jay Gould, the well-known railway magnate, and was out on bail. He promptly immigrated to Manitoba, and to secure his return to the United States an attempt was made to kidnap him. He was forcibly seized at the residence of Hon. James McKay, whose guest he was, and hurried towards the boundary line, but the authorities interfered and brought back Lord Gordon-Gordon and his kidnappers to Winnipeg, where the offenders and their accomplices, who were prominent business men and politicians of Minnesota, were lodged in jail. Amongst them was Loren Fletcher, of St. Paul, who wired his friends a pithy telegram which has been often quoted: “I am in a hell of a fix.” Lord Gordon-Gordon, who had the sympathy of the people, went to a friend’s house in Headingly, and when advised that he would have to be extradited, asked for time to pack a few clothes, went into an adjoining room, from which was heard the sharp report of a revolver, and when his friends rushed in he was dead. Who and what he was has never been revealed, but some years later Chambers’s Journal had a long and interesting article about him, in which it was made to appear that he was the illegitimate offspring of a Cornish family, whose ancestry had accumulated great wealth through smuggling. His remarkable career is now about forgotten, but he set the pace in New York and through Minnesota and created more excitement in Winnipeg than any other event of the early days, excepting perhaps the Riel Rebellion.

The Farr Case

Early in the morning of Saturday, April 13, 1895, the wife and children of William Farr, a C.P.R. locomotive engineer, operating a yard engine at Winnipeg, were awakened by the smell of smoke and fire, and their cries aroused Mr. T. C. Jones, living in the adjoining house, which was a double frame structure on the south-east corner of Ross and Isabel Streets. The aid of neighbors speedily extinguished the flames. On arrival of Chief Billy Code, of the fire brigade, the smell of coal oil aroused his suspicions and he sent for the police. On investigation, it was found that coal oil had been sprinkled on the steps, both front and rear, of the stairways leading upstairs, and also around the windows and doors leading outside. The conduct of Farr while on his engine and following the period of the midnight meal by asking if his mates had not heard a fire alarm, and the conditions at his house, were sufficient to cause his arrest by the police. Only circumstantial evidence was in possession of the police and they could not discover a motive for the dastardly deed by Farr. It was on information which James Hooper, city editor of the Daily Nor’-Wester, of which I was then managing editor, furnished Chief Code and Chief of Police McRae, that they traced his connection with a young woman, whom he had promised to marry. He had attended church and theatres with her and had made her many costly presents of clothing and furs.

Farr escaped from the police station during the early hours of Monday morning, April 15, by wrenching one of the iron bars out and then spreading the others sufficiently to permit him getting his body through, and opening the window, made his escape. He got away and was not recaptured for a considerable period. It is supposed he was concealed in the cab of a westbound locomotive. On his recapture he was tried and convicted, and sentenced to five years in the penitentiary. On his release, after serving his term, he took up residence on the Pacific Coast. The young woman subsequently married a farmer and lived for a number of years in the vicinity of Glenella.

Well I remember the day she came half frightened into the Nor-’Wester office to endeavor to have her name in connection with the affair kept out of the paper. To me behind closed doors she tearfully related her version of her companionship with Farr, whom she said she had frequently seen in church with his family, but which, she alleged, he told her was his dead brother’s widow and children, whom he was supporting. Between her hysterics and weeping, I said consoling words and showed her the futility of suppressing her name, and finally convinced her that her story would, if printed, be better for her. When she left she was, although undoubtedly ill, comparatively in bettered condition, and, as it was raining, I sent her home in a cab, with strict injunctions to take a hot drink and go straight to bed, and to see no one, which she did. That evening the Nor’-Wester had a two column story with startling headings, and the other papers hadn’t a line.

Some Prominent Old-Timers

Among the many outstanding figures of those days was W. F. Luxton, founder of the Free Press. There were three other newspapers published in the village of Winnipeg when Kenney & Luxton issued the Manitoba Free Press, a weekly, in 1872. The Free Press embodied and expressed Mr. Luxton’s views on public questions and also his ideas as to what newspaper service to the public should be. The paper grew from weekly to daily in due course and secured a hold upon the respect and confidence of the people of Manitoba which, under many changes of management and policy, it keeps in a large measure to this day.

Among the clergy of the day, the Rev. George Young, pastor of the Grace Church, may well be mentioned. He had arrived at Fort Garry as Missionary of the Methodist Church, shortly before the transfer to Canada. He was outspoken on behalf of Canadian connection. When Riel assumed control, Mr. Young, because of his office, was not arrested, but he was kept under threat and surveillance. He administered the sacrament to Thomas Scott before his execution by Riel’s partisans. He was not a pulpit orator, but he was always leading in the right direction. Whether preaching to immigrant congregations or Indian bands, administering the last rites to the condemned Scott or helping to organize and cheer on the handful of volunteers hastily gathered to resist the Fenian raid of 1870 at Pembina (his own son, George, in the ranks), or again preaching for honesty and good government to peaceful Grace Church congregations, Rev. Mr. Young was a strong force for right and for Canada at the moment when the future course of events was being set.

During the troublous times both before and after the transfer of 1869, St. John’s Mission Cathedral of the Church of England with its boys’ college in connection held a quiet course and did its allotted work. The fact that the Rev. Dr. Machray of St. John’s during the ’70’s was afterwards elected Metropolitan of Canada is sufficient evidence that in that field also was large ability successfully applied. Rev. Mr. Clarke was the pastor of Holy Trinity Church, succeeded by Rev. Mr. Fortin, who did yeoman service, and Rev. Sam P. Matheson, of St. John’s, became Primate of all Canada, an honor which he deservedly gained. Dean Grisdale, Rev. Mr. Pinkham, afterwards Bishop of Alberta, and Bishop Maclean, universally known as Saskatchewan Jack, were prominent in church work. Canon McKay was an early missionary of the Anglican Church. Rev. Mr. Ewing was the first Congregational minister, and Rev. J. B. Silcox and Rev. Hugh Pedley followed, and I think Rev. Mr. Macdonald was the first Baptist—all earnest workers. Rev. John Semmens, who recently died, was long a missionary amongst the Crees. Rev. Mr. Black, Rev. Dr. Robertson, Rev. Prof. Hart, Rev. Dr. Duval, Rev. C. B. Pitblado, Rev. Alex. Grant and Rev. John McNeil were pioneer Presbyterians of great distinction, and across the river His Grace Archbishop Tache with Fathers Cherrier and Cloutier aided in the great Christianizing work, and were beloved by both Protestant and Catholic; while on the plains the lamented Father Lacombe and others of the black robe carried the Cross and taught the Word with beneficial results.

Speaking of present day industries, the Brown & Rutherford planing mill and sash factory was an institution in 1873, and the Vulcan Iron works were established by Mr. John McKechnie of Dundas, Ont., shortly after. Following these there were the lumber firms of Macauley & Jarvis, Dick Banning, D. E. Sprague, Smith & Melville, and the business firms of A. G. B. Bannatyne, W. H. Lyons, Kew & Stobart, afterwards Stobart & Eden, Andrew and Robert Strang, Alex. McIntyre, Blair & Larmour, Alexander & Bryce, Higgins, Young & Jackson, George Andrews, J. R. Cameron, Noel Chevrier, Kenny Murchison, J. H. Brock, who inaugurated the Great Western Life Assurance Co., the Blue Store, Snyder & Anderson, Scott & Carson, Thomas Ryan, McLennagan & Mallock, J. F. Caldwell, D. McArthur, banker, F. H. Brydges, Geo. R. Crowe, Willie Whitehead, Charlie Enderton, Capt. Donaldson, Bishop & Shelton, Mulholland & Taylor, Fred Ossenbrugge, Fred Brydges, Richard Waugh, and his sons J. C., and Richard D., who became mayor of the city, and is now settling affairs in Europe, Capt. Wm. Robinson, who did effective service in the South African campaign, the Stovels, George Clements, Robert Wyatt, Thos. W. Taylor, Charlie Radiger, who started the first distillery in Winnipeg, and offered five-year-old on the opening day, Trott & Melville, James Stewart, Conklin & Fortune, Hugh and James Sutherland, William Dodd, Alloway & Champion, bankers, Jos. Penrose, John Haffner, Alfred Pearson, W. D. Russell, Dan Campbell, Parsons & Richardson, Geo. Murray, E. L. and Fred Drewry, G. F. & J. Galt, George Wishart, J. W. Winnett, Alex. Calder, W. D. Blackford, Joe Wolf, W. Dufour, Jim Coolican, Doc W. J. Hinman, Stewart Mulvey, E. Brokovski, William Bryden, Geo. Muttlebury, Geo. F. Carruthers, William Wellband, A. H. Bertrand, Benson & Taylor, Scott & Leslie, Gold Seal Jones, Laney Hibbard and his big dog, E. Boyce, who was a partner of Jimmy Steen, and made a fortune publishing a weekly paper in Chicago, and goodness knows how many more, but few of them are now in existence.

Tom Verner and Tom Persse were amongst the singers—saw Tom in the movies recently—and Louis de Plainville, known as Louis Nathal on the stage, was a fine artist. Harry Prince, Charlie Armstrong, Jack McGinn, Bob Halloway, Frank I. Clarke, Graham Boston, Jim Phillips, Goodwin Ford, Charlie Sharpe and many others, were amongst the good fellows of those days.

There were also some real characters in town, notably Ginger Snooks, Dick Burden, and Dublin Dan. Ed. McKeown was a pugilist of more than local repute but he soon retired from the ring.

Amongst the press boys were, besides those already mentioned, Jack Cameron, afterwards with the Hamilton Spectator, Charlie Tuttle, Ned Farrer, Amos Rowe, T. H. Preston, now of Brantford, Billy Dennis (Senator before his untimely passing away), Donald Beaton and his two sons, Fred. C. Wade, Charlie Keeling, Billy Moss, Frank McGuire, later of the San Francisco and New York press, Jimmy Poole, now of Chicago, Col. Scoble, Charlie Handscombe, Walter Payne, W. E. MacLellan, now in Halifax, R. L. Richardson, John Moncrieff, Jim Hooper, Billy Perkins, Thos. E. Morden, Wm. Coldwell, who with William Buckingham, started the first paper in the city, George Brooks of Siftings, Bill Nagle, who started the Sun, The Khan, still alive at his Ontario country house, enlivening the press of Canada with his canticles, A. J. Magurn, Alex McQueen, Acton Burrows, Molyneux St. John, Jim Fahey, who died in Toronto, John Conklin, Robert Houston, W. S. Thompson, Ernie Blow, now publicity agent of the C. N. R. in the West, Walter Nursey and John Lewis, now press agent of the Liberal party. Papers were born and papers were buried, and resurrections were frequent.

And the city hall and court house officials—well, amongst them were A. M. Brown, the veteran city clerk, who was succeeded by his son Charlie, who is still on the job; J. W. Harris, the assessor, and his successor, E. Ward Smith, of Yukon fame, D. S. Curry, comptroller, Tax Collector George Hadskis, T. H. Parr and H. H. Ruttan, city engineers, Dave Marshall of the market, W. G. Scott, the treasurer, and Harry Kirk, the janitor.

At the court house were W. E. Macara, Geoff. Walker, P. A. Macdonald, L. Betourney, county court clerk, Ed. Marston and next door, Pat Lawlor, the jailor, was a faithful official.

And Darby Taylor, too, dear old Darby, and Dr. Kerr gave us another item. Coming in from Stoney Mountain one night, they were overtaken by a blinding blizzard. There was nothing to do but unhitch the horse, wrap themselves up in a buffalo robe as best they could, and as uncomfortably as possible, and await the early dawn, which isn’t very early during the winter months in northern latitudes. Then they discovered that they were only a few yards away from a farmhouse whose occupants would gladly have furnished them shelter.

The Inside Story of a Deal

It was in January, 1882, that Mr. Robert S. White, then, as now, chief editor of the Montreal Gazette, whose casual acquaintance I had previously made in the East, arrived one morning at Winnipeg, on an interesting mission. He was accompanied by General J. S. Williams of New York; or, as Mr. White took pains to tell me, he was merely General Williams’ cicerone for the trip. Their object was to purchase the charter of the Great Northwest Telegraph Company. It came about in this way: the Union Mutual Telegraph Company had been organized in New York a few months previously by Messrs. Evans, Moore and other financial magnates as a competitor of the Western Union. A considerable mileage of wire had been strung and was in operation. It was important for the Union Mutual to obtain connection with Montreal, Toronto and other principal eastern points in Canada. Learning of the existence of the Great Northwest Telegraph charter they decided to buy it if possible. General Williams was deputed to proceed to Montreal to confer with Mr. Charles R. Hosmer, now a leading figure in Canadian finance, railways, banking and industry, who had then left the position of manager of the Dominion Telegraph Company at Montreal to join the staff of the Union Mutual. It was agreed that General Williams with Mr. White should proceed to Winnipeg.

Time pressed. It had leaked out that the Western Union was hot after the G.N.W. charter. The telegraph lines to Winnipeg being under control of that company, the risk of a message to myself to obtain options on the G.N.W. shares held in Winnipeg was deemed too great. So the conspirators, Williams and White, proceeded by rail. Fortune did not favor them, they arriving at Winnipeg about two days after Erastus Wiman’s agent, acting for the Western Union, had secured the plum. And it was a plum, the G.N.W. charter being of the blanket variety; good for all kinds of telegraph construction and operation from Dan to Beersheba within the Dominion of Canada, but it only ran zig-zag from Winnipeg to nowhere in particular. My recollection is that the price paid by the Western Union agent for the whole capital stock of the G.N.W. was about $8,000. When Hon. John Norquay and his associates, who had parted with their stock, learned what General Williams was prepared to pay, what they said was quite unfit for publication. However, we solaced our sorrows in the club and took it out of Mr. Wiman in the manner customary to such incidents. It may be of interest to learn how nearly the Great Northwest Telegraph charter escaped the Western Union, which soon after that date became perpetual lessee of the property linked up under the former name, and in which the old Montreal Telegraph Company was merged.

Real Trouble Arises

When Fort Rouge was taken into the city I began to figure in really troublesome times. Fort Rouge was created a ward of the city, but given no representation in the city council, which its people wouldn’t stand. What they lacked in numbers they made up in noise and determination. A meeting of a score or so residents, nearly all there were, was held, and three aldermen were selected (not elected) to represent the ward in the city council. They were Mr. Thomas Nixon, a well-known citizen, strong with the church-going community, Mr. Stewart Mulvey, a prominent Orangeman and brewer, and myself, without any particular pedigree. We three attended the first council meeting held after our selection, and got a mighty cool reception. Mayor McMicken, while sympathizing with us, followed legal advice and would not recognize us any more than he could help. In attempting to address the chair we were ordered to sit down which we readily did, only to arise again, and receive the same treatment. It was not until the other aldermen were threatened with legal prosecution that we were at all acknowledged. The old municipality of Fort Rouge had $1,700 in its coffers, but just before its termination as a separate municipality, the funds were voted into Mr. Nixon’s hands, as trustee, and we were going to fight the beasts of Ephesus with that money. In fact we had engaged Fred McKenzie, a bright young lawyer, and the city compromised—after an indignation meeting had been held at which Charlie Wishart and other non-residents of Fort Rouge vigorously denounced the council for its disgraceful conduct. We were given our seats, and an act was passed by the Legislature to legalize all that had been done. Then the proceedings deteriorated into what one sagacious alderman termed a “beer garden.” There was a feud between Ald. George Wilson and Ald. Mark Fortune (who was a victim of the Titanic disaster) and these two had no particular love for one another. One night while Ald. Wilson, Mulvey and myself were going to a council meeting, the question of the legality of a certain by-law was discussed. Ald. Wilson said it was ultra vires, and I told him, in discussing its legality in council, to again say it was when I pulled his coat-tail. I sat between the two warring aldermen. Wilson started out on the by-law, and Mark was busy writing a proposed motion. At the psychological moment, I pulled Wilson’s coat-tail, and he addressed the Mayor:

“But, Mr. Mayor, I fear it’s ultra vires.”

Turning to Ald. Fortune I whispered:

“Mark, did you hear what he called you?”

“No, what is it?”

“Why he called you an ultra vires.”

“What’s that?” Mark asked.

“Well, I’d rather be called a dog’s child than that—it’s the meanest thing anybody can be called.”

Mark arose indignantly and, interrupting Wilson’s remarks, shouted—

“Mr. Mayor—Mr. Mayor—”

Then, turning to me, he remarked sarcastically in a stage whisper that everyone could hear:

“Oh, it’s only Wilson. Nobody cares a hang what he says.”

At another time, I walked into the finance committee meeting from one of the license and police I had been attending and found Ald. Nixon—“Dad” we familiarly called him—crouched up and shaking with laughter until the tears rolled down his cheeks. A previous council had been loudly denounced for its incapacity, and “Dad” handed me a slip of paper on which he had written the opinion of a brother alderman:

“Under the old rigma things were in a state of cahose.”

The alderman meant to say that “under the old régime things were in a state of chaos.” I shouldn’t translate his meaning for it spoils a joke to have to explain it.

Always Have Proof

It is always advisable to have positive proof of your assertions, no matter how respectable you may be. I learned this when on a trip on Lake Manitoba in the 80’s. Our party, which consisted of Hon. C. P. Brown, Minister of Public Works, in the Norquay government, Hon. Alex. Sutherland, provincial secretary, F. H. Mathewson, manager of the Merchants Bank, George B. Spencer, the venerable collector of customs at Winnipeg—the two latter being prominent in Episcopal church matters—George Dennison Taylor, who wore a plug hat, and myself. We had gone to the White Mud river by train, then took Pratt’s big tug-boat to the upper end of the lake, where we overtook His Lordship Archbishop Machray and his party, who had been nearly a week longer than we had in reaching Partridge Crop river by driving and canoeing. After the customary greetings, His Lordship casually asked Mr. Brown when he had left Winnipeg. “Yesterday,” promptly answered C. P. The Archbishop looked incredulous, as from his own personal experience, that was impossible. So he turned to Mr. Sutherland and to Mr. Mathewson and to Mr. Spencer and individually made the same enquiry, which evoked the same reply. His Grace could scarcely believe his ears, although he had every confidence in their veracity, and especially of his co-workers and fellow churchmen. So in despair he turned to me, and satirically asked, “Well, then, Mr. Ham, when did you leave Winnipeg?” “Oh, I came with this party and”—producing it—“here’s a copy of yesterday’s Free Press I brought along for you.”

The good prelate was greatly relieved for my positive proof as to the time we left the city had assured him that all men were not liars—as he had really begun to believe the others were. I sat in a front pew the next Sunday in St. John’s Cathedral, and His Lordship preached a thoughtful sermon on the sin of bearing false witness against one’s neighbors and the beneficial advantages of making your statements full and clear.

It had nothing to do with the above incident, but George Dennison Taylor, (who recently passed away in Montreal, deeply lamented), while we were on the tug-boat, persisted in speaking of “Nee-a-gare-a.” We couldn’t make out what on earth he was talking about, and he finally told us it was about the great cataract. He was informed that in civilized and Christian countries, it was pronounced “Niagara,” but he persisted in calling it “Nee-a-gare-a,” until he was threatened with being thrown into the lake if he didn’t give it the proper pronunciation. When he again persisted in his aboriginal pronunciation of the Falls, Aleck Sutherland and I—both husky chaps—grabbed George and threw him overboard. Down he went into the depths—all but his shiny plug, and when he came up we yelled at him, “Niagara or Nee-a-gare-a?” and he answered “Nee-a-gare-a.” Down he went again, but when he came to the surface, submissively announced that the proper pronunciation was Niagara. He was then hauled aboard, and so was the plug, and when he learned that the lake was about forty miles long and only seven miles wide, and goodness knows how deep he cheerfully admitted that “Niagara” was a more picturesque and poetical word than “Nee-a-gare-a.” And so it is.

Winnipeg Doctors Play Practical Jokes

Dr. Patterson was a leading physician of Winnipeg, but he is my medical adviser no longer. This is why. One Hallowe’en about 10 o’clock, when I was handling flimsy on the Free Press—three different services were enough to drive a man to distraction—I was going down to the business office, when the Doctor, collarless and coat unbuttoned, rushed in and excitedly said:

“Great guns, but I am glad to see you have recovered!”

“From what?” I naturally asked.

“Why,” he replied, “just got a ’phone that you had fallen in a fit.” Grabbing my wrist, he encouragingly remarked as he felt my pulse: “Well, it’s not so bad. A little stimulant will put you all right.” And he dragged me across the road to Clougher’s.

As we were returning to the office and had reached the lane in the rear of Clougher’s, we heard footsteps hastening down the sidewalk from Main Street.

“Hold on,” he said, “let’s see what’s up.” The “up” was Dr. Good, and Dr. Jones, and Dr. Cowan and Dr. Neilson and Dr. Benson and Dr. Henderson and Dr. Codd and others, making a round dozen in all, and they were all glad to see me alive. Each mother’s son had received a similar ’phone call to the one Dr. Patterson said he had got. The whole medical fraternity boldly charged me with playing a Hallowe’en trick on them, Dr. Patterson being the loudest in his denunciation. I tried to explain my entire innocence to the whole group at Clougher’s, but it evidently did not go with them. Dr. Good said he had just retired from general practice and had become a specialist, but on account of our old friendship he had left a patient in his office to answer the call. Dr. Jones, who was in his slippers, stated that he was about to retire after a hard day’s work, but couldn’t see me suffer. Dr. Neilson asserted that he had to neglect another patient to answer this fool call, and what the other doctors said was unfit for publication. They all looked upon me with suspicion and if another call had been given them for me that night, I would have died of old age before they would have come to my aid.

It was a long time afterwards when old Alex McLaren, of the McLaren House, and I met in front of Trott & Melville’s drug store on Main Street, just a short distance from the Free Press office. We always stopped and had a chat when we met, and this time Mac burst out laughing and said: “That was a good one we put over you last Hallowe’en, wasn’t it?” Then he realized he had said too much and was as dumb as an oyster. Finally, he admitted that he and Dr. Patterson were walking past that drug store on that fateful evening, and the Doctor put up the job on me and his confreres. He went in and arranged with the telephone exchange to call up the other medical men, then taking off his collar and disarranging his clothes as if he had rushed out to answer a hurry-up call, piked for the Free Press half a block away. And even to this day the Doctor unblushingly asseverates that by his prompt action he actually saved my life. I never received a bill for their services—but they made me spend all my money at Clougher’s that night in rendering continued aid to their injured feelings. And that’s the kind of man Dr. Patterson is.

A Big Scandal

Col. W. N. Kennedy was mayor of Winnipeg when the city bought its first piano. People maliciously said that the instrument was an old one belonging to the mayor which he had palmed off on the city. Of course there was not a word of truth in the report, but it would not down. At a concert one evening, Miss Chambers, a niece of Col. Kennedy, now Mrs. W. W. McMillan, a composer of high ability, was playing a number, when one of the mayor’s detractors who sat beside me said in a stage whisper:

“There, doesn’t that prove that’s the mayor’s old piano? How would his niece know where to put her fingers so well unless she had played upon it before?”

That was proof positive to him of the existence of a big scandal.

Donald McEwan and the Waiter

A great many people throughout Canada will remember with kindly thoughts Mr. Donald McEwan, who represented the well-known clothing house of Shorey & Co., of Montreal, in the West. He used to make his headquarters in Vancouver at the C.P.R. hotel, where he had a favorite waiter in Mike—Mike, the ready witted Irishman. One day we were lunching together, and it happened that one waiter bringing in a loaded tray for one of the guests collided with another waiter returning to the kitchen with a tray full of empty dishes. There was a grand crash and a big smash. “Say, Mike, who got the worst of that?” laughingly asked Donald of Michael. Quicker than a flash came back: “The C.P.R., sor.”

Another time my good friend was trying to get a hurried lunch in order to catch a train. He gave Michael his full order, which included ox-tail soup. The order was promptly filled, but Michael had forgotten the soup. “Where’s the ox-tail?” demanded Mr. McEwan. “Shure,” retorted Mike, “It’s where it ought to be—behind, sor.”

Mistaken Identity

Mistaken identity frequently leads to curious outcomes. For instance, John Macbeth, a popular young lawyer, who was born in Kildonan, and his brother Roddy, now a favorite Presbyterian preacher in Vancouver, didn’t look alike as much as two peas, but there was the usual family resemblance. At this particular time the Reverend Roddy was preaching in Springfield, not far from Winnipeg. One day, as I was talking to John, one of the Macleods of Kildonan, but then a farmer in Springfield, joined us, and began to tell John how much he enjoyed his sermons. “They’re grand, and I feel uplifted by them. Oh, boy, you’re the best preacher I ever heard, and I don’t want any better one, me whatefer boy.” “But,” replied John, “I’m not Roddy; I’m John.” “The hell you are. Come on John, an’ let’s have a drink.” And naturally—.



The Boys are Marching—The Trent Affair—The

Fenian Raid—The Riel Rebellion—A Dangerous

Mission—Lost on the Trail—The First and

Last Naval Engagement on the Saskatchewan—Rescue

of the Maclean

Family—A Church Parade in the

Wilderness—Indian Signals

Of course, the Great World’s War has completely overshadowed all previous unpleasantnesses, but in the old days, minor events, as they are deemed to-day, were of the most vital importance. Take, for instance, the Trent Affair in 1861, when the United States had forcibly taken Mason and Slidell, the Confederate ambassadors, on their way to Great Britain from the British steamer Trent at Nassau, Bahama Islands. Great Britain demanded their instant release, and there being a prolonged delay in complying by the United States, steps were immediately taken to enforce the demand. There was a call to arms and a surprising response in Canada. Many thousands more recruits volunteered than were asked for. Although only fourteen years of age, I, with other Whitby youths who, like myself were tall for their age, enlisted. There was no medical examination in those times, and in a couple of days we donned the now discarded scarlet infantry uniform. We drilled every night, carrying the old heavy Enfield rifle which seemed to weigh a ton, and we kids went through our military exercises until we almost became as lop-sided as a pig with one ear. There wasn’t one of us but devoutly hoped, like the man with the invalid wife that she would get well—or something—only we hoped something or other would happen and we didn’t care a continental what it was, so long as we were relieved of that awful tiring, monotonous drill. The United States, knowing it was in the wrong, according to the laws of nations, gracefully delivered up Messrs. Mason and Slidell and the episode happily ended without any blood being shed.

An Adventure With Colonel Denison

In 1866, there was another call to arms, when the Fenians invaded Canada at Fort Erie. Whitby sent an able bodied contingent, of which I was a high private, to Niagara Falls, which was reached as the skirmish at Ridgeway was being fought. That campaign was a picnic, and as we were billeted at the swagger Cataract House, and afterwards in barracks, it was not so bad. We had particular instructions to allow no one to enter the camp without the password, and one day, Private Jimmy Shier and I were on sentry go. Colonel Bob Denison, a fine soldier, as all the Denisons were, endeavored to pass the lines on horseback. I halted him and demanded the password, and he, evidently to try me out, said:

“You know me, I’m Col. Denison.”

“Yes, sir, you doubtless are, but orders are orders. Password, please.”

He didn’t give it, and I called for Jimmy, who, dropping his rifle, climbed like a cat up the horse’s side, and unceremoniously pulled the colonel to the ground. We called out the guard, and marched the Colonel to headquarters. Then the trouble commenced, and Jimmy and I were brought before the commanding officer, who had issued the orders which we had faithfully fulfilled. We were promptly and properly acquitted.

Col. Bob, who evidently enjoyed the little affair, got even with us. The next day we were out drilling as usual, and when deploying in full extended order, were instructed by Col. Denison to lie down. It was no bed of roses we dropped on, but—well, I never saw so many thistles in all my life, nor ever felt so many. In fact our uniforms were more thistles than clothing, and the gallant Colonel chuckled, as he saw us picking the prickles from every conceivable part of our persons.

Previous to this, on our way to the front, a sergeant’s guard of us were billeted in Toronto at Mike Murphy’s joint—Mike being the Fenian head centre. Well, we bully-ragged that place all night, and had a very frugal breakfast, the chief part of which consisted of playing ball with ill smelling salt-herring and in our throwing boiled potatoes up and trying to catch them in our cups of alleged coffee. Mike had passed the word around, and a menacing gang of big dock wallopers gathered at the door, but we marched steadily, with rifles in one hand our heavy buckled belts in the other, and no attempt was made to interfere with us, but their pointed remarks were just what you would imagine they might be. Then we were sent to the Bay Tree (after the Tremont) and when my bed-mate discovered some apple sauce on the sheets, we marked it with a lead-pencil and recognized it at dinner next day. Such are the horrors of war.

The Riel Rebellion

When the Metis rebellion broke out in 1885, Ned Farrer, then editor of the Toronto Mail, wired me at Winnipeg, to secure a man to represent his paper at the front. My efforts were unavailing and I dropped into the telegraph office to send him a message to that effect, when who should walk in but Davis, of the Toronto Globe, who told me he was getting a team of horses and a buckboard and the Lord only knows what else, and intended joining the troops at Qu’Appelle. There was nothing private about the conversation, and I wired his programme to Ned. Quickly came back the characteristic reply:

“Go thou and do likewise.”

I went, but before I did I engaged Alex. Berard, a Fort Rouge Metis, whom I knew well, to accompany me. I agreed to give him $300 if he got me into Riel’s camp before the troops at Batoche, and as a pledge of good faith gave his wife $18, on the distinct understanding that if I were killed, I wouldn’t pay the $300 and would get my $18 back. Aleck and I, with a lot of provisions, went out to Qu’Appelle where General Middleton and his forces were preparing for the northern movement. Unfortunately, like the parrot who got its neck twisted, I talked too much and disclosed my plan to a comrade, who told it to some one else and finally it reached the ears of the General, who at once sent Aleck home. Thus what might possibly have been one of the greatest newspaper scoops of the day was frustrated and the ultimate decision arrived at by myself was that whenever a blooming idiot was missing I could assuredly find him by gazing into a mirror.

In no cheerful frame of mind I strolled out along the beautiful valley of the Qu’Apelle, which in English means “Who calls?”—and I heard a voice “Hey there, George” calling me—the sweet dulcet voice of Col. Allan Macdonald, the Indian agent at Qu’Appelle.

“Hop in here, old man, and take a drive,” he said.

So I got into his buckboard and innocently asked where he thought his destination might be.

“Oh, just over to the File Hills,” he said. “There’s a report that Nicol, the farm instructor, and his wife have been killed by the Indians and I’m going out to see.”

We passed an Indian on a load of straw en route, and I never realized till then how much better poor Lo looks on a load of straw than he does on the war path. We reached the Superintendent’s house just before dark to find that the report of his death was a little premature, and also ascertained that the File Hill Indians were not in the most beautiful frame of mind. After supper, beds were made for us on the floor, and the Colonel cautioned me to sleep with one eye open and to have my gun ready, which I did by promptly falling sound asleep.

Next morning a band of the Crees appeared in war paint and well-armed. We had a pow-wow in a little shack about 12 feet square, in which there was a large stone chimney. I’ve been to grand opera and five o’clock teas, but I never spent such a delightfully uncomfortable half hour as I did in the ensuing thirty minutes. There were Rosebud, Sparrow Hawk and Star Blanket, brother-in-law of Frank Hunt, an old friend of mine, who must have been an all nighter, for his full name was “The man who has a Star for a Blanket,” and they were all dressed in their war paint and feathers. Their demands were many and urgent, but the sturdy old colonel never blinked an eye. He gave his opinion of them individually and collectively in the most classic of all classical languages. All the while I was gazing up the chimney, and wondering how far I could climb before something or other might happen to me. But nothing did, for the colonel bravely browbeat them so that they skulked out and “we” had a glorious victory.

I’m not going to tell the story of the uprising—that’s too old a story. But I just want to record another adventure—remember these are personal experiences—of a little unpleasantness. At Clarke’s Crossing the General one evening, when there was a stiff breeze blowing, rode out of camp all alone. I rustled up a horse, and without saddle or bridle followed him. Catching up to him, a few miles from camp he hailed me: “Hello, what are you doing here.” I explained I was hunting Indians. He began to admonish the weather. “This beastly wind, you know—why I came out here for a smoke, and I’ll be hanged if I can light my pipe.” “Is that all, General?” I remarked. “That’s no trouble. Just get a little to leeward.” He drew up beside me, I scratched a match, lighted his pipe unconcernedly and he said: “Well, you westerners are a most remarkable people; you can do anything.” And I thanked Providence he didn’t ask me to light his pipe a second time, for it was a thousand to one shot. But it made me his friend for life—and when he was appointed Constable of the Tower of London, he invited me over to see him. Which was not accepted for fear he might want me to strike another match for him.

Middleton and the Queen

General Middleton was a kindly bluff old soldier, and was unmercifully criticized by people who had no knowledge of military affairs. The best answer to those who abused him is that, by request of good old Queen Victoria, he was instructed to spare the lives of his untrained soldier boys, for most of them were mere lads, and of the misguided Indians and Metis, who were her Majesty’s subjects. This is what he told me, and it is another, if another were needed, example of how wise and humane was the Great White Mother across the seas. I think now, if she had been spared she might possibly have subdued rebellious Ireland.

Selected for Dangerous Mission

Just another incident, which, while it does not amount to much, was all-important to me at that critical moment.


Main Street (above); Portage Avenue (below).

It happened on the Saskatchewan whose lazily-rolling waters flow from the far-away Rockies, through the pine lands and plains of the Canadian Northwest and empty into murky Lake Winnipeg, from which they are carried to Hudson Bay, and for all I know mingle with those of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. And it came about through that almost incomprehensible perversity or foolhardiness or obliging disposition which impels one to help a fellow out of a hole and causes a certain class of happy-go lucky people to rush in where white-winged spirits would not attempt to fly, let alone tread. To be exact, it was the day before the beginning of the long-stretched out skirmishing at Batoche, which resulted in the charge which led to the discomfiture of Riel and the dispersal of his dusky forces. The sun shone bright and strong on that lazy May afternoon, with not a breath of air stirring; and Gabriel’s Crossing, where the stern-wheeler Northcote was tied to the bank, was drowsy and sleepy as if the recalcitrant halfbreeds and Indians were a thousand miles away and not lurking in the nearby woods. The arrival of the mail—a not very regular occurrence—was a decided break in the irksome monotony—the pleasantness of which, however, was modified by instant disappointment. The Canadian troops had marched away that morning to take up a position behind the rebel headquarters at Batoche, and the mail carrier would not deliver up the bag for reasons sufficient for him, but insisted on taking it on to the camp sixteen miles away. There was nothing to do but follow after him for our letters and our papers, and George Macleod, one of the couriers attached to the small detachment on the steamer, was detailed for the duty. There was to be a fight on the morrow with a strongly-entrenched savage foe of whose strength we knew very little, but whose wily tactics and deadly aim had been deeply impressed upon us a short time before at Fish Creek, and we were eager to hear what perhaps might be the last word from home. For the Northcote was to take part in the coming engagement—steaming down the river past the rebel stronghold and drawing the enemy’s fire while the troops were to rush in from the rear, and—but this story has nothing whatever to do with that.

Macleod quickly reported himself ready. Then Captain So-and-So asked him to bring something or other from camp, and Lieutenant What’s-his-name wanted him to carry a message to a comrade, and non-coms. and men had requests galore for parcels and other truck until poor Macleod had more commissions than a corporal’s guard could execute in a fortnight. He remarked—sarcastic like—that perhaps it would be easier to march the whole column from Batoche back to the boat than “to git all them things,” so it was decided that someone or other should accompany him. Why that someone should have been myself does not after all these years appear very clearly to me, nor did it then; but Colonel Bedson—God rest his soul—suggested that I should go and even if we didn’t return the naval brigade would not be so seriously handicapped as to render it entirely ineffective. That settled it; so Macleod and I—a humble newspaper correspondent—and Peter Hourie’s pony which was attached to Peter Hourie’s buckboard, kindly loaned for the occasion—Peter was an interpreter—started out on our mission. A well-beaten trail led due south through dense woods, and we followed it for five or six miles and then the freshly broken turf showed that the column had turned sharp to the left, and paralleled the river towards Batoche, marching through a park-like country with bluffs and openings and dotted with little ponds. There was a remarkable similarity in the surroundings for many a mile, so much so that one portion was confusingly like another—but it was a winsome scene whose restfulness and calm were accentuated by the jarring discordant events of previous days. In these northern latitudes, Nature is unusually lavish with her gifts and here she had created a picturesque demesne that was remindful of well-kept ancestral estates in the Old Country. It was Nature in her simple beauty—unadorned except with that adornment which the hand of the Master alone can give. It was the summer dreamland—a scenic poem—a fragment of incomparable Kentish landscape in a glorious Canadian setting.

Lost on the Trail

The stars shone that night in the cloudless northern sky in all their accustomed brilliancy, and the long-drawn out summer twilight, never reaching more than semi-darkness, rendered the surroundings indistinctly visible. Peter Hourie’s played-out pony had been replaced by a captured rebel broncho, unused to the restraint of harness and shafts; commissions had faithfully been executed, the last outpost had bidden us a cheery good-night, and we were bowling along smoothly towards the Northcote. The partially broken broncho, however, did not take kindly to anything like work, and so soon as this one began to realize the ignominy of its task it started in to cavort and swerve around and despite the united efforts of Macleod and myself, we soon found ourselves off the trail. While Macleod held the fractious beast, I groped about in the darkness for the wagon tracks, and having found them, soon lost them again, only to recover and again lose them more frequently than I can now remember. A dim light in the distance was the first indication of anybody’s presence but our own. Macleod couldn’t see it until we were within a few hundred yards of an Indian camp fire carefully secreted in one of the bluffs. We—in some trepidation, so far as I was concerned—managed to make a wide detour and just as we were beginning to congratulate ourselves that we had avoided these emissaries of the enemy, a cry like that of a bittern gave warning that the Indians were signalling to one another. Macleod intimated that I and the broncho and the buckboard should make for a particular bluff which he pointed out, and he would remain where he was and await developments. Then came the bad half-hour of loneliness and anxiety and misgiving for we knew not our exact location—nor the whereabouts of the foe. After what seemed an age, Macleod caught up to me, and reported that we had evidently not been observed.

A moment later other signals were heard issuing from near where the Indian camp was, and answers seemed to come from several different quarters. Macleod, who was as plucky as they make ’em, suggested a repetition of the previous tactics. But I remonstrated. I held that we ought to stand together; I fully realized that if anything happened to him, the Lord only knew how I would get out of that tangled maze of country. Besides, between you and me, there are times when one would rather not be altogether alone, and this was one of them. He persisted, however, in following out his plan of campaign, and told me to take my bearings by a couple of stars which he pointed out. If he didn’t turn up soon, I was to be guided by them until I reached the trail leading to the boat. I went on with the broncho and the buckboard, and if ever an astronomer watched stars as steadfastly as I did, he’s a wonder. My neck would get stiff as a poker from the unusual craning it had to undergo, and then I would bend it down to ease it, and when I again glanced upwards I would catch a couple of other stars, until I honestly believe the whole firmament was completely taken in. My idea of location was disgustingly hazy, but I had a firm impression when I saw what I thought to be a blanketed Indian sneaking towards me that, once I got a fair shot at him, I would make a break for the timber and never stop until I struck the Gulf of Mexico or some other place near a railway. The tension was extreme; it is the dread of the unknown and the unseen and the darkness and the uncertainty that make a fellow’s flesh creep. I—and the broncho-buckboard combination—were strategically placed, and with gun drawn over the animal’s withers I was prepared to make a good Indian out of at least one redskin. The figure came nearer and nearer, and, however it was, while my heart beats sounded like the pounding of a big bass drum, my hand was steady, and my mind strayed away from thoughts of my predicament. Every incident of a lifetime flashed before me, trivial events that had long before been forgotten, occurrences that had not been recalled to memory in many a day. I thought of those at home, and of my first little boy Jack, dead and gone, and wondered if he would know me in the other world. I guess it’s that way when one feels he’s facing death. Mr. Indian was just within good range, but I was waiting to make sure of him, when “all right” was sounded. My fancied Indian was Macleod himself. I never was so glad to see anybody in all my whole life, even my best girl. He had not only evaded the enemy, but—the Indian’s craftiness doesn’t amount to much at night—he had put him on the wrong track. There was but one fly in our pot of ointment. We were off the trail and how far off we didn’t know—but we knew that if we kept due west we would strike the trail leading to the river somewhere or other this side of the Rocky Mountains.

About midnight that long looked for trail was reached. It was a perfect tree-lined avenue, dark as blackness itself, and so we trudged along—Mac as the advance guard, and I carefully leading the broncho. We had not advanced a mile before Mac stepped upon a dry poplar limb that had been placed across the road by the Indians as a signal to their fellows, and it snapped like a pistol. Mac sprang I don’t know how many feet in the air, and I leaned against the broncho and, notwithstanding the seriousness of the occasion, laughed till the tears came. It was a wonderful leap. He assumed all kinds of postures in that jump; it was positively the best bit of ground and lofty tumbling I had ever seen, even in a circus. I didn’t laugh long, though, because as we proceeded through a little opening, to the right I saw a dim camp fire, around which it didn’t require much imagination to see figures flitting. Mac could see this one too, and we watched it growing larger and larger. In whispered consultation, I suggested that we abandon the broncho outfit and take to the woods on the left.

“But we can’t,” remonstrated Mac.

“Why not?” I whisperingly wanted to know.

“Because it’s Peter Hourie’s buckboard, and I told him I’d bring it back.”

“Oh, hang,”—I think that’s the word I used—“hang Peter Hourie’s buckboard.”

But Mac was obdurate and we mournfully and noiselessly moved on. Then came another glimpse of that camp fire, and the awful import of the old saying that silence is golden flashed upon me. Then I laughed again—heartily and boisterously. The confounded old camp fire we had conjured up was only the moon rising!

At three o’clock in the morning, we passed through a spot which I afterwards learned was to have been the gathering place of the rebels at that hour. Fortunately the meeting had not materialized through some providential misunderstanding in their orders.

As the sun’s rays came streaming from the east we reached the Northcote, only to be welcomed by the gruff demand as to what on earth—well, we’ll say it was earth—kept us so long, and that’s the sort of thanks Mac and I got for our trouble. Afterwards, my companion confided in me that, for some reason or other, he couldn’t see very well at night. Others told me he was blind as a bat in darkness. That was some consolation.

A Naval Battle in the West

The next day, orders were to start the steamer at 8 o’clock sharp and steam down the river. I was on the upper deck, indulging in a fragrant five cent cigar when I read a funny paragraph in a newspaper I had brought along. I went down to the barricaded lower deck to show it to Major Bedson, when the rebels opened fire upon us. That part of the Northcote was barricaded with bags of flour so arranged as to make port holes. My old friend, Hugh John Macdonald, was seriously ill, and I grabbed his gun and shoving it through the porthole, banged away, only to set fire to the bags. Quickly extinguishing the burning bags, I hastened to another porthole in the bow of the boat, not barricaded, and fired away, until a lot of splinters struck me in the face—the splinters being the outcome of a fairly well directed rebel shot. Discretion being the better part of valor, just then, I moved to another porthole, and a soldier came up and with his fingers easily picked a bullet from the tendrils of the wood, and quietly remarked, “Pretty close shave.” It was pointing straight for my heart. Then we struck the ferry cable which had been lowered for our especial benefit, and to avoid a rock, Capt. Jim Sheets, an experienced old Missouri steamboat man, in command of the Northcote, let the craft swing around, and we went down stream, stern foremost, with the current. In the meantime the Canadian forces engaged the enemy, an hour late according to schedule. The Northcote stopped a few miles below Batoche, where, ensconced behind a pile of mail-bags which made a splendid barricade, I kept up a steady fire at something unknown. I don’t know whether I hit any clouds or not, but I am assured of one thing: if any lead mines are ever discovered on the banks of the Saskatchewan, I should have a prior claim over anybody in their ownership. This was the first naval battle in the Canadian Northwest, and I imagine it will be the last. At any rate, it will be as far as yours truly is concerned.

Rescuing the Maclean Family

When I was a kid, the favorite literature amongst the youngsters was Beadle’s Dime Novels—long ago discontinued and almost forgotten. There was a remarkable similarity in the different books issued. The same old story was of a lovely heroine who was captured by the wild Indians and rescued by a gallant, brave and loving hero, after no end of miraculous escapes, in which he did many unheard-of feats. I never thought then that I would ever be chasing Indians or be chased by them. The romantic days of fiction had passed. But one fine June morning at Fort Pitt, I found they hadn’t.

While I was strolling along the river bank, trying my best to smoke a real bang-up ten-center, Major Bedson, master of transportation of General Middleton’s column, drove up in a carriage and yelled at me: “Get in, old man.”

I did so and, after we had started off again, I naturally asked where we were going and why. He told me that Big Bear had released the Maclean family and we were going out to find them. Might as well look for a needle in a haystack in that immense tract, but the Major had an idea of their whereabouts, and so we struck for Loon Lake, on reaching which we found in camp about as tough a looking crowd as ever you saw. Unwashed, unkempt, with tattered clothing and little food, there they all were, the twenty-two prisoners who had been allowed, when provisions ran short, to escape from Big Bear’s camp—the Maclean family, father and mother and nine children, Amelia and Eliza being young ladies of 18 and 16 years of age, Kitty being 14, and the others ranging from 12 years to an infant in arms; and George Mann, farm instructor at Frog Lake, his wife and three children, Stanley Simpson and other employees of the Hudson’s Bay Co. at Fort Pitt, Frog Lake and Onion Lake. For once, somebody was mighty glad to see me, and more glad to see Major Bedson, who was a brother-in-law of Maclean. That staunch old Westerner, Major Hayter Reed, who did splendid service during the uprising, came up with supplies and clothes, and when they arrived and the freed captives had donned their new habiliments, and washed up and eaten the first square meal for a long time, the transformation was complete. Sam Steele came too. After all their trekking through wild lands and swamps with little food, here were freedom and liberty and friends. I shall never forget that memorable 21st June—the longest day of the year—when W. J. Maclean, the father, commonly known as Big Bear Maclean, and I trudged along the trail, and he told me the story of their wanderings. They had never been ill-treated, some kindly disposed half-breeds guarding them, but once, at Loon Lake, the squaws whose husbands or sons had been killed wanted to slaughter them, but they were prevented. The only one to complain was Stanley Simpson (who afterwards was accidentally drowned) who confidentially informed me that boiled dog as a regular article of diet was a fraud, a delusion and a sham. What was a delicacy to the red man was sickening to him, and between dog and starvation, the latter was largely preferable in his humble opinion.

However the sun was shining brightly and everybody was joyful and happy. And no wonder, after the days and weeks of terror and hardship which they had endured. We reached Fort Pitt in safety, after a long wearisome trip, most of which we had to tramp or ride in rude, jolting, springless wagons. There was no complaint, no grumbling, no post mortems, and motherly Mrs. Maclean, I could see, silently thanked God for their happy deliverance.

We didn’t know where Big Bear and his aboriginal warriors were, but we kept one eye open to see that, if he had changed his alleged mind, he would get the worst of any encounter with us. And when, after a long fit of silence on my part, Mrs. Maclean kindly asked me what I was thinking about I laconically replied: “Beadle’s Dime Novels.”

A Church Parade in the Wilderness

The banks of the Beaver River have seldom, if ever, witnessed the sight which was to be seen on the morning of June 6th, 1885, a military church parade. There was no stately edifice, no solemn sounding organ, no rich upholstered pews, no carved or gilded pillars, nor fashionably dressed ladies attired in silks and satins. But the place of worship was a grander one, with the blue vaulted Heaven for dome, the fringe of far-extended green budding trees the living walls, while the ripple of a brook and the carolling of birds furnished a sweet accompaniment to the songs of praise sung by the uncultured and unpractised voices of the choir. Nor marble floor nor silk-woven carpet was here, but on the flower-flecked prairie we found easy seats or shaking off the conventionality of eastern etiquette, sought grassy couches and lay prone on the luxuriant verdure. This picture may have been rudely marred by the canvas-covered wagons and clumsily constructed carts which formed the corral, but they were in keeping with the congregation, a mixed and motley crew, mainly red-coats with Sunday shaven faces, slouch-hatted teamsters, booted and spurred rough riders of the plain, buckskin-clad scouts, herders, cowboys, camp cooks, redolent of grease and flour, all semi-circling the preacher—the grand old western Methodist pioneer, Rev. John MacDougal—who for the nonce had donned sombre garments, and listening to the message of Christ and His love to man and man’s duty to Him. The sermon ended—no polished oration, but a simple and earnest discourse—all most reverently, with uncovered heads, stood silent and still while the benediction was pronounced and then they dispersed, not with the rush and hurly-burly of the more cultured churchgoer, but quietly and orderly to their camps, while from the mission house on the crest of the upland, now sacrilegiously occupied by the military, came the dusky-hued Chippewayans, with shawl-enveloped squaws, from the more imposing service of the Catholic Church. The service may soon have been forgotten, the lesson it taught unlearned, but for the nonce at any rate, the roughest and rudest felt the influence of the Word, and the camp was better for the day and the day’s gathering of worshippers.

Indian Signals

The traveller on the plains in the early days soon learned the significance of the spires of smoke that he sometimes saw rising from a distant ridge or hill and that in turn he might see answered from a different direction. It was the signal talk of the Indians across miles of intervening ground, a signal used in rallying the warriors for an attack, or warning them for a retreat if that seemed advisable.

The Indian had a way of sending up the smoke in rings or puffs, knowing that such a smoke column would at once be noticed and understood as a signal, and not taken for the smoke of some camp-fire. He made the rings by covering the little fire with his blanket for a moment and allowing the smoke to ascend, when he instantly covered the fire again. The column of ascending smoke rings said to every Indian within thirty miles, “Look out! There is an enemy near!” Three smokes built close together meant danger. One smoke merely meant attention. Two smokes meant “camp at this place.”

Sometimes at night the settler or the traveller saw fiery lines crossing the sky, shooting up and falling, perhaps taking a direction diagonal to the lines of vision. He might guess that these were signals of the Indians, but unless he were an old-timer, he might not be able to interpret the signals. The old-timer and the squaw man knew that one fire-arrow, an arrow prepared by treating the head of the shaft with gunpowder and fine bark, meant the same as the columns of smoke puffs—“An enemy is near.” Two arrows meant “Danger.” Three arrows said imperatively, “This danger is great.” Several arrows said “The enemy are too many for us.” Thus the untutored savage could telephone fairly well at night as well as at day.

And this was where the red man was ahead of the white, for this long distance system of communication was in daily use years before the Morse code of telegraphy by wire, which was practically on the same lines, was invented.

Another system of wireless telegraphy by mirrors was also operated by the red man, but it would only be used on bright sunshiny days and never at night. The holder of the mirror, by catching the rays of the sun could direct them right into the eyes of a passing person at some distance, and thus attract his attention, and communication between them was thus established.

All of which goes to show the truthfulness of the adage; “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

At the time of the Custer massacre, the first tidings of the fight were learned in the Red River valley from Indians from the Red Lake River, a tributary of the Red River, who came down in canoes in war paint and told the people of Crookston, Minnesota, of the great Indian victory. The Winnipeg Free Press and the St. Paul and Minneapolis evening papers published the story simultaneously, and this was the first intimation given of Custer’s terrible fate. The next day, the news came by wire from Deadwood, but the Indian signals beat out the telegraph companies, and these Red Lake Indians were several hundred miles from the scene of the massacre.

Some Curious Indian Names.

A chapter could be written about the names of some of the red men whom I have either met or heard of and who were practically wards of the Mounted Police. A few samples will give an idea of the originality exercised by the Indians in this respect. One of Big Bear’s councillors rejoiced in the modest cognomen “All and a Half.” One of the same old rascal’s head men was known as “Miserable Man.” Incidentally it might be mentioned that he “dearly lo’ed the lassies, O,” and was possessor of a harem of considerable proportions. Was this responsible for his name? Other names which occur to me are “Piapot,” “Almighty Voice,” “Beardy” (possessed by an Indian chief who had a decided attempt at a beard), “Calf Shirt,” “Mighty Gun,” “Scraping High,” and “Bad Eggs.”

Amongst the great men of these Indians, Crowfoot, chief of the Blackfeet, stood pre-eminent. He was of commanding appearance, with a higher intelligence than many of our clever pale faces possess, and he and Poundmaker, of the Crees, and Red Crow, of the Bloods, made a brainy trio.



Governors-General I Have Met—Dufferins and the

Icelanders—The Marquis of Lorne and Wee Jock

McGregor—Unpleasantness at Rat Portage—Kindness

of Princess Louise—Lord Lansdowne

at the Opening of the Galt Railway—“My”

Excellent Newspaper Report—Talking to

Aberdeen—Minto, the Great Horseman—Earl

Grey a Great Social Entertainer—The

Grand Old Duke and

Princess Pat—The Duke of


There was great enthusiasm displayed upon the arrival of Lord and Lady Dufferin in Winnipeg in the summer of 1877. Theirs was a triumphal tour. The Governor General, while ostensibly travelling through Canada to learn of its possible development, came principally to visit the Icelanders, for whose migration to Canada he was largely if not solely responsible. After having seen Winnipeg and driven the first spike in the Pembina Branch railway of the C.P.R. at St. Boniface, he with his retinue started out on a pilgrimage to the Icelandic settlement. No newspaper correspondents were allowed to accompany the party on account of lack of accommodation. And so the poor Toronto Globe correspondent sat twiddling his thumbs in Winnipeg while the expedition went north. Lord Dufferin’s private secretary was Billy Campbell, who also filled the same position with the Marquis of Lorne and the Marquis of Lansdowne, but was now correspondent for the Winnipeg Free Press on the Icelandic tour. Billy and I were old chums. Lord Dufferin’s visit to Gimli, the Icelandic settlement, was duly reported in the Free Press. Billy would send in the copy, and we would send out the proofs to a designated spot, where the Governor General would revise and return to the F.P. office. They looked like the map of Asia after he had corrected them. His Excellency had given the Icelanders perfect fits, and he was a master mechanic in the uttering of the English or any other language, but it makes an awful lot of difference between telling people disagreeable things and reading those same disagreeable things in cold print. So the Icelanders and the English readers of the Free Press had different views of His Excellency’s opinion of his proteges.

On His Excellency’s departure for the east he was tendered an afternoon banquet in Winnipeg, at which he made that famous speech where the Canadian West was spoken of as the land of illimitable possibilities. Lieut.-Governor Morris also made a speech and the other speaker was to have been Chief-Justice Wood, but the time of the boat’s departure—they were going up Red River to Moorhead—came too early for the latter’s oration, much to his chagrin, as he and the Lieut-Governor hated each other like Christians. This did not altogether spoil the Chief’s oration, for he utilized the greater part of it, with the necessary alterations, in his charge to the grand jury at the next assize. And it made good reading.

Lord Dufferin was an orator. He memorized his speeches, and always supplied the copy to the press. You know His Excellency could imprecate in seventeen different languages, and he usually did so when occasion required. One day in reporting one of Lord Dufferin’s speeches in which he made a happy allusion to Canada and her American cousins, Billy forgot to insert the words, “loud laughter”—and the omission gave a seriousness to the speech that His Excellency did not intend. There was blood on the moon next day.


The Duke and Duchess of Connaught with Princess Patricia (top), the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and Daughters the Ladies Cavendish (centre).
Lord Minto at his Lodge, Kootenay (bottom).

The Highland Laddie.

In 1881 the Marquis of Lorne first went west. The C.P.R. was not completed, but he travelled through Canada all the same. The contractors for Section B., of whom the late John J. Macdonald was the head, undertook to carry him from Eagle Lake to Rat Portage, a distance of about 75 miles, but, as a long detour had to be made to take advantage of the water stretches, the distance travelled was nearly double that mileage. Elaborate preparations were made, camps established at regular intervals, and everything that could be done for the comfort of viceroyalty was done. Live sheep, which scared the Indians who had seen none before, were taken to apparently inaccessible places, Indian boatmen in uniform manned large birch-bark canoes—to ride in which gives one the idea of the poetry of motion—experienced chefs supplied excellent menus, and everything combined to make this a most enjoyable outing. The newspaper representatives which included myself met His Excellency at the western end of Burnt Portage through whose weary, dusty miles he and his staff had walked—and when the tug which brought us to an island where we had camped approached its shores, a piper in kilts struck up “Highland Laddie” to the amazement and delight of His Excellency. At each successive camp there was a new surprise for him, but none so complete as the one at Dryberry Lake, where we camped one Saturday night. The next morning, a bath in the lake was followed by a reviver in the large marquee. As we were about to crook our elbows, the noted Dr. Jock McGregor, the Marquis’ bosom friend and chaplain at Glasgow, who accompanied him on the trip, unexpectedly appeared on the scene. One has to know the Doctor to imagine what followed. He was one of the wittiest and most eloquent as well as the kindest of men I ever met. And he startled us all by loudly calling the Marquis by name and denouncing him for desecrating the Holy Sabbath by putting that into his mouth which would steal away his brains. He dressed the whole crowd of us down for our unseemly and desecrating act, and we all looked shamefaced and about as uncomfortable as could be expected. And when we all felt pretty sheepish and mean, he concluded:

“Out upon you all, you unregenerate sinners, out upon you. But”—after a long pause during which we were all looking for a hole to crawl into, he added: “being a little bit thirsty, I’ll take a wee drappie mysel’.”

Great Caesar! what a relief—why I nearly turned Presbyterian right on the spot.

There was a little unpleasantness when Rat Portage (now Kenora) was reached. Mr. MacPherson, the Indian agent, had written out an address of welcome from the local tribe, but Manitobahiness, the chief, would have none of it. He would prepare the address himself or the Great White Mother’s son-in-law could go hang so far as he was concerned. Manitobahiness was camped on a nearby island, where, seated on a soap-box, with his blanket wrapped about him, he looked every inch a king. The late Ebenezer McColl was superintendent of Indian affairs then, and he took me over to help conciliate the irate chief. We were received with a salvo of gunshots, in true Indian custom, but the arguments and suggestions of Mr. McColl availed nothing. Manitobahiness was firm, and Mr. McColl sensibly gave way to his wishes. The next I saw of the kingly chief, he was ridiculously dancing a dance of welcome with the rest of his tribe. Manitobahiness was no fool. He was wharfinger at one of the river docks, and kept accurate account of the freight received in hieroglyphic style. He was only known to have made one error. Forgetting to put a hole in a circle, he transformed a grindstone into a cheese.

Sir Donald Smith met the party at Rat Portage and lined up the entire tribe in a long row, and personally gave each one a silver coin. You ought to have seen those who first received the gift slip down the line and take up their position at the other end, thus securing two pieces of silver. The poor Indian may be untutored, but he knows how to get there when anything is going.

The Kindness of Princess Louise.

The Marquis’ private secretary was the same Billy Campbell who was with Lord Dufferin. He told me of the kindness and affection he received from His Excellency and the Princess Louise. One time when he was laid up in a Toronto hospital, the Marquis would steal up from Ottawa on Saturday nights, visit him Sundays, and be back at Rideau Hall Monday mornings with nobody but the household any the wiser. When Billy was recuperating and had returned to work, His Excellency asked him one day to bring him a book from a high shelf in the library. Before he could rise from his chair, the Princess laid her hand on his shoulder and said:

“Never mind, Mr. Campbell, I will get it.”

And she ascended the stepladder and brought down the required book.

What of it? some may say. Well, it doesn’t amount to much, but I know a whole lot of people who are not daughters of Royalty who would not have been so thoughtful and considerate.

The Marquis of Lansdowne.

The first time I met Lord Lansdowne was at the opening of the Lethbridge Collieries railway which connected the mines with the main line of the C.P.R. at Dunmore. We were up early in the morning, but the eating facilities had rather fallen down and Mr. W. E. Maclellan (now Inspector of Post Offices at Halifax), who represented the Winnipeg Free Press, and myself, hadn’t much in the way of solids until late in the afternoon. The banquet was held that evening in a large building belonging to the Coal company, and Mac and I thought we would seek a quiet corner to report the speeches. We got in the wrong door, and came out unexpectedly on the platform on which the guests of the evening were seated. Sir Alexander Galt presided, with His Excellency on his right, and Mac and I, feeling very embarrassed, were ushered into seats directly facing them with our backs to the audience. After the chairman and His Excellency’s address, Sir Alexander insisted that both Mac and I should speak, but we begged off, and the next morning we visited some Indian reserves and Port Macleod, where my old friend, Kamoose Taylor, entertained us, the banquet chiefly consisting of liquid refreshments. At one of the reserves Jerry Potts was interpreter, and Jerry got tired of the long-winded talks of the red men. You see, one of them gets up and talks for five minutes or so, and then the interpreter translates his words into English. One chap was especially importunate. He was starving for this and starving for that until the interpreter’s patience ceased. A ten-minute aboriginal declamation was condensed by Jerry as follows: “He wants, he wants to live like the white man. He wants pie.” The conference then suddenly came to a close, with His Excellency doing his best to conceal his laughter.

It was on this trip that Jerry is said to have sent back a message to the gubernatorial party, after having been frequently bothered by enquiries as to what would be seen when the driving party got to the top of the next hill: “Another hill, you d——n fools.”

Next morning we were on the C.P.R. east bound train, and at an early hour, I was busy at work. Sir Alexander came along and seeing me writing so early in the morning, after the previous two days’ strenuousness asked if he could help me. I said he could, as so much had happened so quickly that I might have a hazy idea of some things that had occurred, and asked him if he would look over my report, to which he willingly consented. The introduction pleased him, for I had paid him a deservedly high compliment, and maintained that no matter what might be the official title of the road, it would always be called the Galt Railway, which it isn’t now. The report of his speech at the banquet met with his approval, but when he came to Lord Lansdowne’s he hesitated. “I didn’t hear him say that,” and “I don’t think he said this,” and similar remarks. But I told him I was not bigoted, and he could fix it up to suit himself, which he did, and it was a corking good report. So much so, that a few months later, when I went to Ottawa to represent the Times in the press gallery, Lord Lansdowne sent Billy Campbell to tell me how highly he appreciated my (?) excellent report, and asked me to call and register on the visitor’s list, so that invitations could be sent me for social functions. By which you will learn that if you can’t do a thing yourself, get somebody who can do it better than you to do it for you.

Talking to Aberdeen

Lord Aberdeen was only met incidentally and he always seemed to be very nervous, as if he was afraid of being hit with a brick, which I attributed to his long residence in Ireland. He was affable and trying to do good and was very approachable. When in Winnipeg once, he was in residence at Silver Heights, one of Lord Strathcona’s country houses. I had arranged with him one day to ’phone him in the evening when he would give me his itinerary for the following day. There was an employee at Silver Heights who was very disobliging, especially to the press, and whom I called up that evening. I thought from the way the reply came that this person was answering the ’phone. I told him to get to blazes out of that, and that I wanted to speak to Aberdeen. Then came a quiet gentle voice: “I am Aberdeen,” and then he told me all I wanted to know about his movements. Lady Aberdeen was a most indefatigable worker, and it is to be regretted that their late tour through the United States for some worthy object did not have the results that were expected.

A Great Horseman.

Lord Minto, while democratic in some of his tendencies, as might be expected from his close and intimate contact with the turf, was more of a stickler for the official proprieties and forms than many other Governors General. When the present King and Queen, as Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, visited Canada, he insisted upon his staff personally supervising all arrangements, and while providing for proper respect being shown to Canada’s royal guests, he had it seen to that all honors due to the Governor General as direct representative of the King were forthcoming. So it happened that at all public affairs in the chief cities, there were two official processions with separate guards of honor and cavalry escorts, one of each for the Prince and the other for the Governor General.

When calling at Rideau Hall one day, Lord Minto at once commenced recalling incidents of the Riel rebellion, and enquired after J. H. E. Secretan, Col. Boswell, Billy Sinclair and Peter Hourie and a host of others, with whom he had been associated during the campaign. He had not forgotten a name, and his interest in them was undoubted. Lord Minto was a splendid horseman, of whom it was truly said that when on horseback one could not tell where the man left off and the horse began.

Lord Minto loved the outward trimmings of state. For instance, it was diplomatically represented to the Deputy Ministers at Ottawa who had been accustomed to attend state functions in plain every day dress suits that the proper attire for them to wear upon such occasions was the Windsor uniform of the second or third class, and the deputies had to dig down in their pockets and equip themselves with the regulation gold-laced suits, swords, cocked hats, etc.

Earl Grey.

Soon after Lord Grey’s arrival it was intimated by His Excellency that he desired a complete private train placed at the disposal of the Governor General. The request caused some consternation; but the situation was met by the acquisition on the part of the Government for the Governor General’s use of the two special cars, “Cornwall” and “York,” specially built by the C.P.R. for the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York. Lord Grey had a well-developed taste for real fun, and dearly loved a good story. In addition to the stately functions held at Government House during the Grey régime, when the unrivalled gold table service presented to the first Earl Grey made the great tables in the main dining-room present a scene of oriental gorgeousness with the sheen of the huge and numerous candelabra, trays, vases, dishes, etc., of solid gold, numerous informal dinners, receptions, etc., were held.

One of the closing functions of the régime will never be forgotten. The guests consisted principally of elder parliamentarians and senior newspaper men. After dinner the guests moved to the ballroom, where a well stocked buffet was installed. Then there was a real, old-time jollification, His Excellency being the prime mover and most active spirit in a jubilee of song and story. Perhaps the piece de resistance was the singing of “Annie Laurie” by the Nova Scotian octogenarian, Senator William Ross, with the chorus by the entire company led by one of the officers of the Senate, who is supposed to be the model par excellence of dignity and decorum.

Earl Grey was never happier than when in the company of young people and inciting them to some fun and frolic. A remark made by His Excellency rather in joke than in earnest, I fancy, had unpleasant results for a certain young lady of the ministerial circle of that day. He was joking with a group of the ministers’ daughters about their curtsies at an approaching drawing-room, and remarked that he thought he should give a prize to the girl who would “bob” the lowest without losing her equilibrium. A particularly bright, pretty and ambitious girl set herself out to win the wager, but she went head over heels on the carpet in front of Their Excellencies. His Excellency gallantly assisted the blushing debutante to her feet.

The Grand Old Duke.

The Duke of Connaught was extremely fond of youthful society and particularly that of children. Of all the functions at Government House His Royal Highness appeared to enjoy the children’s fancy dress parties the best, and he would mingle with his little guests and busy himself in the dining-room to see that all had their fill of the good things provided. The Duke possessed in a marked degree the memory for names and faces for which members of the royal family are celebrated and it was uncanny how he would recognize individuals he could not have seen for years. Some of the Senators and Members of Parliament credited His Royal Highness with some remarkable occult faculty on account of his knowledge respecting them when they first had the privilege of meeting him. The Duke, after his arrival, arranged that an appointment should be made for every Senator and Member of the House to call upon him in his office in the Eastern Block. When the parliamentarians thus honored entered the vice-regal office they were surprised to find that His Royal Highness not only knew all about their political careers, antecedents, families and business, but led them off into the discussion of their pet hobbies, etc. The explanation is simple enough—he studied his expected visitors’ records in the Parliamentary Guide and I have been told that in addition he had private confidential notes supplied to him by the Usher of the Black Rod, who is his representative on the staff of the Senate.

While at Government House upon one occasion it was my privilege to be standing in a quiet corner near a desk, which evidently was the working desk of His Royal Highness, and my eye was attracted by a portrait occupying the post of honor upon it. It was the portrait of the Widow of Windsor, our old Queen—“The Queen”—and inscribed on it the motherly words “To Dear Arthur with fond love.” No doubt it was often an inspiration to our royal Governor General, and its position was a touching proof to me of the pure, dutiful human character of the Duke.

When in Ottawa or visiting other cities or towns, the Duke, frequently accompanied by the Princess Pat, had the happy knack of saluting those he met in the early morning strolls, and entering into conversation with them—generally about the town or city or village and its affairs and prospects. He always evinced deep interest in the average citizen who on many occasions was not conscious of the identity of his illustrious companion.

The Duke of Devonshire.

Among all of our Governors General there have been none more distinguished by a kindly and unassuming disposition than the present hospitable occupant of Rideau Hall, and one after being presented to His Excellency soon overcomes any sense of personal insignificance he might have anticipated in the presence of the head of one of England’s most historical families, who is also one of England’s wealthiest men of position to-day, being the owner of 186,000 acres of the most valuable mineral areas in Lancashire and Derbyshire, and of no less than six splendid ancestral estates.

There is something about His Excellency’s genial kindly face which at once makes those privileged to meet him perfectly at ease, while those who know him well describe him as a man of a peculiarly unselfish and generous nature.

As might be expected of the head of the historical Cavendish family, he is especially proud of his English ancestry, and of the part Englishmen have played in the history of the Empire; but he is no jingo, and is not given to idle boasting. My experience has been that the well-bred Englishman is about the least boastful man in the world, his antipathy to anything resembling “swank” often making him painfully unassertive.

The Duke of Devonshire is an English thoroughbred. As immediate successor to the Duke of Connaught, he had a peculiarly difficult position to fill, but he has filled it acceptably, Canadians being particularly impressed with His Excellency’s evident desire to make himself acquainted with every corner of the Dominion, and to comply with all reasonable requests to grace with his presence functions connected with worthy objects. No constitutional difficulties have arisen during His Excellency’s tour of duty in Canada, but if such should occur one may count upon His Majesty’s representative doing his duty according to those fine standards of simple honor and cool, dogged English courage which have characterized the Cavendish family from immemorial times.

I have never forgotten the impression created upon my mind at the time by the conduct of Lord Frederick Cavendish in the historical Phoenix Park tragedy. When the gang of murderers pounced from their place of hiding upon Mr. Burke, Lord Frederick could have easily escaped. If he remained the chance of beating off the well-armed assailants was practically nil, for he had no other weapon than his umbrella—but the courage and honor inherited through generations of staunch fighting Cavendishes impelled him to take the chance, as a matter of course, and he staunchly and vigorously persevered in the hopeless task of protecting his companion until he himself was struck lifeless to the ground by the assassins.

In the little country churchyard where his remains are interred, the simple grave is modestly marked by a small plain headstone, on which are merely inscribed his name, and dates of birth and death. But around the mound is a well-beaten path, worked deeply into the ground by the tread of countless thousands who have paid their last tribute to the assassinated hero, while large monuments and costly mausoleums which mark the resting place of others are left undisturbed by visitors. The well-beaten path is a lasting tribute to the lamented Lord Frederick, and to the Cavendish family.



The Hudson’s Bay Company—A Tribute to Its

Officers—Intrepid Scotch Voyageurs—Daily

Paper a Year Old—Royal Hospitality of the

Factors—Lord Strathcona’s Foundation

for His Immense Fortune—The

First Cat in the Rockies—Indian

Humor and


Before the advent of the railways, the Hudson’s Bay Company was the biggest institution between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean. Its tercentenary was recently celebrated in right royal style, as became the importance of the event. It had posts all through the West, and it was the great purveyor for the few scattered people in that illimitable domain.

It is not my purpose to write a history of the Hudson’s Bay Company, but to pay a tribute to the officers of that company as I knew them. They were, scarcely without exception, either Scotch or of Scotch descent, and whether in the Arctic circle, the broad plains, the northern wilderness or in the growing western cities one was glad to meet them. The MacTavishes, the Andersons, the Macfarlanes, the Macdougalls, Macdonalds, Christies, McMurrays, Campbells, Hamiltons, Stewarts, Sinclairs, Rosses, Cowans, Taylors, McKenzies, Fortescues, Bells, Wattses, Balsillies, Aldous, Simpsons, Rankins, Grahams, Murrays, McLeans, Hardistys, Clarkes, Belangers, Wilsons, Traills, Camsills and others I cannot recall, formed a great group in my days, as their forefathers did before them. In my day, the Commissioners were Messrs. Donald A. Smith, Wrigley, C. J. Brydges and C. C. Chipman.

And with them, over a century and a half ago and since then, many of the noted clansmen of the famous Scottish chiefs, whose fortunes were lost at the memorable battle of Culloden in 1746, which extinguished the hopes of the house of Stuart, afterwards came to Canada. They had participated in that bloody engagement, and having lost all, and to avoid the fierce persecutions which followed, fled to this country of refuge. They were distinguished for heroic courage and daring enterprise. Coming to Canada they at once sought employment in the adventurous schemes of the fur traders of the Northwest. And yet:

“From the lone shieling of the misty island

 Mountains divide us and the waste of seas,

 Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is highland

 And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.”

Intrepid Scotch Voyageurs.

This bold blood gave new vigor and additional energy to the affairs of the traders. These men and their descendants were the intrepid voyageurs who pushed their fortunes to the Saskatchewan and the Athabasca over a century ago. The blood which flowed in the bands of Culloden is the blood of those fearless Scotsmen who dared warring tribes and frozen regions and unknown hardships, who discovered the Mackenzie River, who first crossed the Rocky Mountains, and first planted the British flag on the Arctic seas. In the veins of many Bois Brules and Metis girls on the Red River flows the blood of the men who fought with Lochiel near Inverness on the 15th April, 1746.

The vast region of British America is full of the unwritten traditions of the daring exploits of these men through a wilderness of territory larger than all Europe, and it only needs the glamor of the glittering pen of a Scott to weave these wild annals into stories as fascinating as Waverley, and as charming as the wonderful romances of Fenimore Cooper. In old journals can be read how the great Cardinal Richelieu headed “The Company of the Hundred Partners,” in 1637, engaged in the fur trade in Canada, which company continued for thirty-six years, and which has had successors continuously, till finally merged into the Great Hudson’s Bay Company, which carries on its extensive operations at the present time. So that the Red River, the Saskatchewan and the far-off Athabasca are linked back to the days of Louis XIV in France, and to the great chief and clans of Scotland who fought at Culloden, where the flag of the Stuarts went down forever.

One can recall with pleasant memories the glorious gatherings of the Hudson’s Bay men and their friends. When you met men from the Arctic circle, from the Pacific coast, from the plains and the forests of the great West, from all points of the compass—except the South—men who had grown grey in the service, who had lived lonely but wonderful lives amongst aborigines, you felt that no matter how much the policy of the company in by-gone days might be criticized and condemned—for it’s always the pioneer who gets the worst of it—you were meeting grand old men. The slogan of the company was “Pro pelle cutem”—skin for skin—and in all its dealings with the aboriginal world faith was always strictly kept. That’s what guaranteed the safety of Hudson’s Bay men, wearing Scotch caps and displaying the Union Jack in the dark days of the Sioux massacre in Minnesota. That was the guarantee in the old Fort Garry days that the goods purchased were just what they were represented to be. That’s why the Hudson’s Bay Company and its faithful officials and employees did not palm off cheap goods on the innocent Metis or Indians.

Hospitality was unbounded and they were as glad to see a visitor as the wearied wanderer was to seek their comfortable quarters.

Mr. Hamilton, who was stationed ’way up north where he received his mail only once a year, was a subscriber to the London Times and, as he told me, he had a morning paper every day in the year, his copy being exactly one year old. He religiously read only one copy a day. He died in Peterboro some years ago and his death was greatly regretted.

Joseph Hargrave’s “Red River” was a splendidly written book, now almost forgotten. I remember him in Winnipeg, a cultured gentleman, who had never before worn any foot covering but mossasins. I met him with his first pair of leather boots, and he walked clumsily as an ox. But he didn’t write with his feet.

Lawrence Clarke, of Prince Albert, was a host whose hospitality could never be forgotten by those who enjoyed it. Johnny McTavish, after whom I named my first boy, was everybody’s friend, John Balsillie, James Anderson, Jim McDougall, Horace Belanger from Norway House on Lake Winnipeg, whose laugh was the most infectious I ever heard—who can ever forget them? And they are but a few of the army of Hudson’s Bay men, who in days gone by wielded a great influence amongst the untutored people of the land. Some of the names are familiar to the residents of many an Ontario town, whither several of the factors of the Hudson’s Bay Company retired at the close of their service to spend the evening of their busy lives in peaceful dignity, always men of outstanding character in the community. It was these men who laid the solid foundation of Lord Strathcona’s immense fortune. Money was of no use to them in their isolated homes and they entrusted their savings to “Donald A.” for investment. This he faithfully did and it gave him a strong financial standing. Credit, you know, is sometimes more useful than cash.



The Tale of a Cat.

This is the history of the first cat ever brought into the farther Northwest. The Indians were told it would catch mice and perform other remarkable feats, and they at once concluded that it was a medicine animal of great virtue, so they dubbed it, “the little tiger”. Pussy was stationed at the Hudson’s Bay Post at Head mountain, and thither a band of Blackfeet went to see the wonderful animal. It so happened that no one was in the kitchen of the post when one of the Indians arrived, and finding himself alone with the cat he quickly grabbed it and put it under his robe. Lo, as was the custom in those days, (and perhaps in these, too), wore no undergarments. Just at this moment one of the employees of the company came in, and the Indian, fearing the cat would squeal on him, firmly pressed his arm on its head. The cat naturally resented this treatment, and its sharp claws were driven into the dusky hide of its captor. The Indian didn’t exactly emulate the Spartan youth who allowed the fox to eat out his vitals rather than be exposed, but he tried to hard enough. As the cat scratched, the Indian’s face became distorted and his body and disengaged arm went through such contortions that induced the H. B. man to imagine he was ill.

“Are you sick?” asked the H. B. employee.

“No-n-no,” and just then the cat used his claws again. His arm went up in the air and his body cavorted as if he had an attack of St. Vitus’ dance.

“Oh, yes, you must be,” said the white man with compassion.

“No, not ill”—and again the cat firmly drew its claws down the poor fellow’s bleeding breast. More contortions followed and then the Indian confessed, on condition that he would not be exposed for having stolen the animal. Just at this juncture old Mr. Christie, afterwards chief commissioner of the company, and who then was in charge of the post, came upon the scene, and the Indian motioned the other officer not to expose him. In doing so, he unfortunately squeezed the cat’s head again, and Miss Pussy resented the familiarity by again clawing the Indian, who gave another bound in the air, and went through his contortions while a look of agony settled on his face.

“What is the matter with the poor fellow?” asked Mr. Christie sympathetically. “Nothing,” was the employee’s answer, with a laugh.

“Oh, yes, the poor fellow is very ill. Get him some medicine. See him now—see him,” said Mr. Christie, as the contortions continued. “Quick, get him something—see him again!” for the Indian danced around like a madman under the spur of the cat’s sharp claws. The employee laughed immoderately, and Mr. Christie, enraged at such apparent heartlessness, ordered the man to either get the medicine at once or leave the place. And every little while the Indian would squeeze the cat’s head, and the cat would scratch viciously, and then the Indian would jump vigorously, while poor Mr. Christie stood by gazing pitifully on the sufferer. Finally the employee explained that there was nothing the matter with their acrobatic visitor that medicine could cure, but if Mr. Christie would only let him have what was the matter with him instant relief would come. A little perplexed over this statement, Mr. Christie consented, and the Indian unfolded his robe and exhibited a beautifully lacerated bosom—torn to pieces the full reach of the cat’s four paws. Then the old gentleman laughed, and the employee laughed,—but the Indian didn’t. He started for home pleased with his prize, but his torn bosom became so painful that he revenged his sufferings by killing the little tiger and making a war bonnet of its skin. And that is the history of the first cat in the Rockies.

Indian Humor and Imagery

It is a pretty general belief that the Indian never laughs. This is incorrect. The red man enjoys a joke as well as the white or black or yellow, and his imagery is poetic.

When I visited Mekastino, Chief of the Bloods, (known as Red Crow), and told him I had come to learn about the intended uprising of the Indians in the West, who were charged with the proposed slaughtering of all the whites in the Northwest, he smilingly asked:

“And if you believe this how dare you come here without a gun to defend yourself?”

I nonchalantly replied, putting my hand over my upper vest pocket:

“Oh, I have something here that will kill any Indian I ever met.”

He, very interestedly, wanted to know what it was, and I produced a lead-pencil. The whole tribe present laughed heartily when it was translated to them and dubbed me “The Man with the Lead Pencil.”

Next time I met Red Crow was in Winnipeg on his way to Europe, whither the Canadian Government had sent him and other chiefs for civilizing and education. I took the band to an ice cream parlor and as he ate his first dish, the chief called it “sweet snow” and said that on the next fall of it he would send down all his squaws with baskets galore to secure a plentiful supply.

In taking them to the theatre that night, the electric lights were turned on; gazing up at them, he put his hands over his mouth, and exclaimed, “Oh my, oh my, oh my, the white man is wonderful. See! he has plucked a lot of little stars from the skies and put them on poles to light the village with. He is wonderful.” And to this day Red Crow imagines those lights are little stars captured from heaven and utilized by the angelic corporation of Winnipeg for street lighting purposes. “Around the World in Eighty Days” was the play produced and my dusky guests uninterestedly viewed the opening scenes. But when the Deadwood stage was attacked by Indians there came a decided change in their demeanor. All called out encouragingly in the Indian tongue to their fellow reds on the boards, and they became greatly excited and their unceasing activities of person and guttural whoops attracted more attention to the group than did the actors. After the show we met their brothers in red, who belonged to another tribe, and it was explained to them that this was only play-acting and stage robbery was now obsolete.



Abound the Banqueting Board—My First Speech—At

the Ottawa Press Gallery Dinners—A Race

With Hon. Frank Oliver—A Homelike

Family Gathering—A Scotch Banquet—Banquets

in Winnipeg—Bouquets

and Brickbats—The Mayor of

New York and the Queen

of Belgium.

It was part of my duties for many years to average at least two banquets a week during the open season for public gatherings of that kind, and this continued so long that my good friend and medical adviser, Dr. Frank England, of Montreal, finally gave due warning that if I persisted in the pernicious habit he would have me interdicted as a public feeder. About that time the Great War with what was once the German Empire broke out, and banqueting was largely taboo. So the doctor’s advice was timely, and I could honestly follow it and still not miss much.

My first banqueting speech was made at Whitby when upon the departure of one of the citizens, who had just failed in business, we gathered to give him a farewell at the Royal Hotel. As the only representative of the press present—a callow youth who had never thought of speaking in public—I was called upon, and rose to respond with not too much cheerful alacrity. For the life of me, I didn’t know what to say, but I had to say something and so I started out with my heart in my mouth:

“Mister Chairman, ladies and gentlemen.” Then I remembered there wasn’t a blamed female in the room. The audience laughed heartily at what they thought was an attempt on my part to be funny, when I never was so serious in all my life. But I helplessly went on.

“We are all glad to be here and see our honored guest leave town—” then a long pause, and I realized I had put my foot in it, but quickly recovering, kept making things worse by adding—“and we all wish him in his future home the great success he has met with in Whitby.” A dead silence ensued, and I was wondering what in thunder I could say next. There was no inspiration, but lots of perspiration for me, but I had to say something or other. So I wished him and his family—he was a bachelor without any relatives—all the prosperity that his great talents and business ability—(he was a chump of the first water)—I don’t remember whether I finished the sentence or not, but a friend in need seeing my dilemma started a round of applause, during which I quickly subsided, and spent the rest of the evening very uncomfortably in wondering whether I was a mere common garden variety of pumpkin head or something worse.

Of the hundreds of banquets that I have attended, none were more enjoyable than those of the Parliamentary Press Gallery at Ottawa, which were always held on a Saturday night. There good fellowship, genial companionship and mirth, both in wit and humor, held unbroken sway until midnight when it was run on Winnipeg time and then on Vancouver time, so that we wouldn’t break the Sabbath. The big men spoke freely and so did some of us littler fellows, and seldom was there a tiresome spell, for the speeches were, by an unwritten law, always brief and to the point. These were before the dark days of the Big War and prohibition. They were held from 1870 to 1914, when they ceased altogether during the conflict, and have not been resumed since.

Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir Charles Tupper, Sir John Carling, Sir George Foster frequently were honored guests, and such senators and commoners as Nicholas Flood Davin, Dr. Landerkin, George Casey, Sir Sam Hughes, Hon. R. Lemieux, Col. E. J. Chambers, Col. Smith, Dr. Sproule, Ed. Macdonald, Senator George Fowler, Hon. Geo. P. Graham, Hon. R. F. Sutherland, Charlie Parmalee, Harry Charlton of the Grand Trunk, John P. Knight, Tom Daly, M.P., E. G. Prior, M.P., Robt. S. White. M.P., James Somerville, M.P., J. J. Curran, M.P., and a host of others gladly accepted the highly coveted invitation. My first appearance at one of these was in 1886. The gathering was a comparatively small one, but still very respectable. John T. Hawke, of the Ottawa Free Press and for years subsequently publisher of the Moncton Transcript, was assigned the reply to the toast of “The Conservative Party” and R. S. White that to the toast of “The Liberal Party.” The joke consisted in the fact that Mr. White was about as hard shell a Tory in those days as Mr. Hawke was an adamant Grit. Mr. White treated his subject humorously, reciting as commendable all the faults of the Liberal party, recounting their electoral failures as due to a stupid public, and winding up with the hope that the party which for the nonce he represented might for many years continue to adorn the place they held in the Commons. The Liberals then were in a hopeless minority. Mr. Hawke was nonplussed by the line Mr. White had taken and his attack on the Conservative party fell somewhat flat. He had missed the joke of entrusting him with the toast.

The president of the gallery always occupied the chair, having the Prime Minister on his right and the leader of the Opposition on his left. For sixteen consecutive years I was honored with a seat next Sir Wilfrid, whether he was in office or out of it—bluff old Harry Anderson of the Toronto Globe could tell you why.

The only reason I can give for being chosen to sit beside Sir Wilfrid all these years was that I never wanted anything of him and didn’t worry him by introducing theological, theosophical, social, scientific or any other subject that was not in complete harmony with the spirit and informality of the evening. And Sir Wilfrid did enjoy a joke. One night I called his attention to the fact that the waiter was removing the silverware between courses.

“Why, yes! What does he do that for?” he asked.

“Well, you know, Sir Wilfrid, he’s responsible for the table-ware.”

“Surely,” remarked Sir Wilfrid solemnly, “he doesn’t suspect me, does he?”

“Not yet, Sir Wilfrid, not yet.”

Then again I remarked to him that I supposed he travelled a good deal, and he said he did.

“And you put up at first-class hotels, too, I presume?” He acknowledged that he did.

“Did you ever notice, Sir Wilfrid, how small the cakes of soap in the bedrooms are nowadays?”

He said he had, and wanted to know the reason of their diminished size.

“Because the hotels don’t lose so much soap now.”

And the raillery was just what he wanted to indulge in after, perhaps, a vexatious and trying day at his office.

Hon. Frank Oliver and Yours Truly.

According to a report of one of the press gallery banquets Hon. Frank Oliver, M.P., shortly after I had delivered what I was pleased to think was a speech, was called upon. The former Minister of the Interior according to the report said he had always felt a personal interest and some pride in Mr. Ham, because he had been the means of giving him his first job in the West. In 1875 he (Mr. Oliver) was the foreman in the Winnipeg Free Press printing office, when a young fellow just up from Ontario blew in, told a joke or two and asked for a job at the case. Mr. Oliver said he liked the jokes and also his style, and engaged him then and there, giving him some good advice as to how he might get on if he minded himself. The ex-minister continued: “George took the advice all right, for before many months were over he was writing the editorials for the Free Press and was an alderman of the city of Winnipeg, while I was driving bulls across the prairie.”

That’s all right for Mr. Frank, but it isn’t the whole story. That was 46 years ago, and the reportorial room and the composing room consisted of one and the same room, and we couldn’t even boast of a proof press—we used a mallet and planer—think, you publishers of to-day, a daily paper without a proof press, and the telegraph dispatches were frequently unintelligible. Frank Oliver was foreman and I was a comp. Then I got ahead of him and became city editor, and he pounded a bull train 900 miles across the plains to Edmonton, where he started the Bulletin, a model paper, and got ahead of me. Then I evened up and started the Winnipeg Tribune—not R. L.’s sheet, but, you know, modesty prevents my saying anything further about the two Tribunes. Comparisons are odious. Then Frank forged ahead and was elected to the Northwest Council, and I caught up to him by electing myself alderman of Winnipeg. Hanged, if he didn’t go me one better and Edmonton sent him down to Ottawa as an M.P. In desperation I collared a school trusteeship and a license commissionership under the McCarthy Act, which was declared ultra vires the next week. He wouldn’t stand for that, so he became a Minister in Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s cabinet. Then Sir Sam Hughes came to my rescue, and appointed me an honorary lieutenant-colonel. This was the apex of our greatness. Bad luck set in for us both. Frank was beaten in the Federal elections, and Sir Sam wouldn’t let me go to the war, because he was of the decided and fixed opinion that I would be more useless over there where the bombs and bullets were flying than in Montreal where the prices of everything one consumed or wore were soaring. So no rivalry exists between Frank and me now, and we have agreed to call it a draw.

When Sir Wilfrid Didn’t Blush.

At another press gathering, when I was called upon to speak, I began by timidly asking if there were any reporters present, and loud and continued shouts of “No-o-o” convinced me that there were none.

A second question: “Are there any ladies present?” received an equally demonstrative negative.

To a third one: “Will Sir Wilfrid blush?” there was no mistake. He wouldn’t.

So then I told a story, and I could see, by a side glance of the eye, that Sir Wilfrid felt not a little concerned.

But “Honi soit qui mal y pense” is my motto as well as that of the British Empire, and so I told a story of the Cobalt days—it’s an old one now—when on a stormy night a benighted stranger on the Gowganda trail sought shelter in a road-house only to find it was crowded plumb full. The landlord informed him that there was no place for him there and that he would have to seek for quarters elsewhere.

“But,” pleaded the weary wayfarer, “there is no place to go—no house within half-a-dozen miles, and the storm is growing worse and worse.”

The landlord was inexorable, but just then his handsome young daughter joined the two and having over-heard the conversation, said:

“But, father, you can’t turn the poor man away on such a night as this. We can find room for him, if he’ll sleep in the hired man’s bed. He’s gone away, you know.”

The landlord was willing, and the stranger gladly accepted the offer. Shortly afterwards he was ensconced in the hired man’s bed.

Just before blowing out the candle, he heard a gentle tap on the door, and crying out: “Come in,” beheld as the door partly opened a vision of loveliness—the landlord’s daughter.

“Would you like a nice bed-fellow to-night!” she innocently asked. (Here Sir Wilfrid looked sharply at me, evidently in great concern.)

“You bet,” was the reply. (Sir Wilfrid’s look was agonizing—but just for the moment.)

“Well,” said the maiden, “just roll over then; the hired man’s come back.”

Loud laughter and a sigh of relief which ended in a chuckle from Sir Wilfrid concluded that particular part of my contribution to that evening’s gaiety of the gallery.

One day a party of friends were discussing banquets at the Montreal Club, and I expressed the opinion that they were a delusion and a snare; that they were usually commenced at a late hour instead of at seven or half-past, the hour when people generally dined; that the menu consisted of a large variety of uneatable or unpalatable food, and other words to similar effect. Charlie Foster, the assistant passenger traffic manager of the C.P.R., wanted to know what kind of a bill-of-fare I would suggest, and I named common garden soup, corned beef and cabbage, pumpkin pie, etc., etc., and so forth. In proof of this I related how at the swagger banquet of the Quebec Fish and Game Association held at the Ritz-Carlton some time previously—quite a gorgeous affair—I noticed late in the evening a worried, dissatisfied look come across the classic features of Hon. Frank Carrel, of the Quebec Telegraph, who sat opposite me.

“What’s the matter, Frank?” I asked.

“Don’t know, old dear, don’t know, but I feel rather queer. By Jove, I believe I’m hungry.”

“So am I,” I rejoined. And we went down to Childs’ and as the clock struck midnight were revelling in savory dishes of corned beef hash and poached eggs, (for which, I might add, we were joshed and jibed at many a time.)

A few days after, a deputation of fellow workers in the C.P.R. vineyard dropped into my office, headed by Charlie Benjamin, now passenger traffic manager of the Company’s ocean service, who mentioned that there was a guy who kicked like a steer at banquet foods as usually framed up by chefs, and as this guy was to have a birthday on the near approaching 23rd August, he demanded on behalf of the large and apparently respectable deputation that the aforesaid guy should himself prepare a bill-of-fare for the feed that was to be tendered him. I was the guy. And here is a copy of the menu:

Sliced Tomatoes

Celery              Olives

Pea Soup, Thin, Like Mother Used to Make

A Little Cold Liver and Bacon

Irish Turkey and Cabbage

New Boiled Murphies with the Sweaters on

Buttered White Beans a la Orchestra

Dear Apple Pie            Poor Pumpkin Pie

Tea or Coffee

And, between you and me, no dinner I ever attended filled the long felt want as that one did. Like the Scotchman who boasted that he had gone to bed perfectly sober, the previous night for the first time in 20 years, and felt none the worse for it next morning—neither did any of us after eating the wholesome food.

A Scotch Banquet.

The only banquet I ever attended in the Old Country was at Greenock, Scotland, in honor of George Wallace, who was leaving home for Winnipeg. Capt. Macpherson, commodore of the famed Gourock Yacht Club, Neil Munro, the novelist, and myself had returned to Gourock from the launching of the Empress of Britain at Govan, on the Clyde, and were enjoying some scones and tea—at least they were—just before dinner, when a message came from Greenock to go up at once. So up we went, and as the three of us entered the big well-filled banqueting room of the Tontine Hotel, there was loud applause for my two friends who were very popular. We had a rattling good time, and the Provost, who presided, learning that I was a Canadian, called upon me to speak at just the right time, and I got off a whole lot of guff which, however, seemed to please the assembled multitude. Why they even laughed immoderately when I told them that they would be greatly disappointed if they should come to Montreal expecting to see only French people, for they would find only about one half of that nationality and the other half Scotch (and after a pause) and soda. I almost laughed at it myself. After the banquet, Col. Tillitson, the banker, gave another, and there were more speeches, and I thanked God that the dawn broke on a beautiful Sabbath morning, when a fellow didn’t have to get up. Scotland is a highly civilized country.

Banquets in Winnipeg.

Banquets in the early days in Winnipeg were occasions for the gathering together of kindred spirits. The St. Andrew’s banquets were largely attended and one could always tell when 1st December came around by seeing the unusual number of dress-suited gentlemen in the places of public resort that morning. St. Andrew was a saint who couldn’t be properly honored in a few hours. The attendance was not exclusively confined to Hielan’men but many of other nationalities gladly joined in the festivities and kept them up with a merry whirl long after “God Save the Queen” had been loyally rendered.

The St. George’s Society also had great gatherings. At one, held in the early ’80’s in the now demolished Royal Arms Hotel, amongst the guests of the evening was Mr. McCroskie, the architect who repaired the hotel at the corner of Main and Broadway, and made it habitable. The old gentleman came togged up in his Sunday best and wore a top hat, which for safety he placed under his chair. As hilarity began to work its way about the table, this fact was whispered around, and a good many jokers of the practical type quietly dropped a plateful of tipsy cake or plum pudding or ice cream and goodness knows what else into the plug hat until it was nearly full to the brim. Then a devil-may-care party sitting across the table accused the victim of not being an Englishman, and trouble commenced. Enraged at the insult, Mac arose excitably from his seat, hastily grabbed his hat and after a few steps on his way to the door indignantly clapped it, contents and all, on his head. How that slushy stuff did pour down on his head and his shoulders was a caution. Some of us didn’t see the point of the joke—but were silenced by the thunderous laughter that followed.

Bouquets and Brick-Bats and Democracy.

There is never a rose without a thorn. This is official. Bouquets a-plenty have been showered upon me. Sir Thomas White once called me a great national asset—and I am glad he fortunately added the “et”; Collier’s wrote of me as the greatest imprinted wit unbound in Canada, and other dubbed me Ambassador in Chief of the C.P.R., while I have mistakenly been honored by being called the Mark Twain of Canada—save the Mark—and the British, Australasian, American and Canadian press representatives heaped eulogies and showered gifts upon me, and I never got a swelled head over it, because I had experienced bouquets with bricks in them. Once, when I filled the high and dignified position of chairman of the license and police committee in the city of Winnipeg, Chief Murray came to me one day and told me that Schmidt—I think that was his name—had half-a-dozen teams at work and only one license. I instructed him to make Mr. Schmidt, if that was his name, take out a license for each and every team, and the order was promptly and strictly carried out. The matter escaped my mind altogether, until one bright afternoon when entering a street car amongst whose passengers were several ladies of my intimate acquaintance. After bidding them the time of day, I went to a seat forward, where a fat German in a partially intoxicated condition was lolling. As I neared him, he a little gruffly wanted to know if I was Alderman Ham. Imagining he was one of the free and independent electors of Fort Rouge, which ward I was chosen to represent, I pulled down my vest, puffed out by bosom like a pouter pigeon, and courteously acknowledged that I was—in the blessed hope of securing an additional vote at the approaching election. But it’s the unexpected that always happens. He leered at me and shouted, so that everybody in the car could hear:

“You are, eh? Well, you are a damned old stinker.”

It was Schmidt, the teamster man. I didn’t mind that, but the ladies all heard him, and laughed immoderately, for which no particular blame could, would or should be, as the case may be, attached to them. But it knocked my high and mighty ideas of glorified officialdom into a cocked hat.

Another time, but there was no brick in this one, in travelling through the Canadian Rockies an American lady in the observation car asked the name of a particularly lofty mountain. Here, I thought, was an appreciative audience of one whom I could illuminate. I told her it was Mount Tupper, named after one of Canada’s greatest statesmen, and that on the other side was Mount Macdonald, called after Canada’s Grand Old Man, and that the two mountains had once been united, as Sir John and Sir Charles were, but that in the very long ago the irresistible forces of Nature had split them in twain. The lady seemed greatly interested, and I, in my middle-aged simplicity, went on to point out the “picturesque figure of the Hermit, which with cowl and faithful dog, carved out of hardened rock, had stood watch and ward all through the long centuries of past and gone ages, and that until eternity they would be on guard as living symbols of the wonderful works of an omniscient Creator.” And she said:

“My, how cute!”

Any aspirations I may have had concealed about my person of ever rivalling Demosthenes immediately subsided, and it gradually dawned upon me that as a silver-tongued orator I wasn’t even in the same class with William Jennings Bryan, Newton Rowell or Mayor Hylan of New York.



Mayor Hylan and the Queen

That reminds me of something altogether different—the mention of Mayor Hylan’s name—which has nothing whatever to do with the case, but as I am writing these reminiscences higgledy piggledy, just as they occur to me, the reader needn’t mind.

When the King and Queen of Belgium visited New York, His Honor was greatly in evidence. He is very democratic, you know, whatever that may be. He introduced His Majesty to one of his friends in this way: “King, this is Mister Jack Walsh, one of our very best officials.” That was the democratic way, all right enough, but he went one better in the afternoon, when there was a grand parade of school children, which was reviewed by Belgium’s royalty. The grouped children to the number of ten or fifteen thousand sang the national anthems of America and Belgium to the intense delight of their Majesties.

After the function was ended, Her Majesty gratefully acknowledged to His Honor her great pleasure at witnessing such a sublime spectacle.

“Your Honor,” she said sweetly, “I can scarcely express my feeling at seeing so many well dressed, highly cultured young people and hearing their sweet voices in perfect unison singing the beloved native song of my country. You should be proud of them. America should be, for in them are those who will grow up to be the future fathers and mothers of a race that will make the United States a wonderfully great and grand country—perhaps the greatest in the world.”

And His Honor democratically replied:

“Queen, you said a mouthful that time.”

Then, even Her Majesty smiled, and the others merely laughed.



In the Land of Mystery—Planchette and Ouija—Necromancers

and Hypnotists and Fortune Tellers—Adventures

in the Occult—A Spirit

Medium—Mental Telepathy—Fortune

Telling by Tea Cups and Cards—Living

in a Haunted House.

Whether one believes in the supernatural or not is of no consequence in the reading or writing of these experiences. Some strange things have occurred—and there may or may not be a plausible explanation of them. All I have to do is to say that there is full corroboration for any assertion made.

First, about the mystic boards—Planchette and Ouija. The only difference between them is that Planchette has two legs and the third support is a lead pencil which writes on a sheet of paper spread out on the table; and Ouija has three legs and the board itself has “yes,” “no,” the alphabet and the numerals up to ten.

The first time I used Planchette was in the early ’70’s when I brought one home from Toronto, and with it an unopened bundle of several newspaper exchanges from the post office. Without looking at it I took up an unopened paper, and held it behind my back and asked a casual visitor, Mrs. Kent, and my sister (who acted as the “mediums”) the name of the paper. Planchette wrote Expositor and, on opening it, I found the paper was the Seaforth Expositor. That gave me more confidence in it than I can honestly say I have in Ouija, who is decidedly off color in many of her answers. She has told me different versions of matters asked, and is as unreliable as a star witness in a divorce case. And I am a pretty good medium too, can work it alone, and even with one hand, while I have seen people who couldn’t make it move at all.

I have tried to interview several dead and living people through Ouija, and if I only recorded what he, she or it recorded I would be sent either to jail or to the lunatic asylum. Ouija merely records what your sub-conscious mind impels your hands, unconsciously on your part, to move. The board itself means nothing. It merely tells you what you don’t know you were thinking about.

Then there are the necromancers and the hypnotists and the Anna Eva Fays; also the Georgia Wonders and such like. McKeown, a nephew of the Scotch wizard, Anderson, did remarkable feats which I can’t explain; Malina, who never appeared in public, but received $100 a night at private houses, was a mystery, which he claimed he wasn’t. The Georgia Wonders increased in numbers as the subject of points and angles became known. Charlie Kelly, the well-known Winnipeg singer, travelled with one troupe and at Halifax was astounded when the manager of the show told him he would have to get another “Wonder” as the one he had was getting too fat and wouldn’t “draw.” So he advertised for one—of course discreetly—and after Charlie had witnessed a couple of rehearsals, he resigned in disgust.

Anna Eva Fay performed remarkable feats. One day while visiting Winnipeg I met Billy Seach, manager of the Princess Opera House, and while enjoying an evening stroll he told me of the successes and failures of the previous season. Anna Eva Fay had made the greatest hit and packed the house every night. He then went on to tell me that Miss Fay had scouts out at every place she performed. I knew that, for my next door neighbor in Montreal, Billy Cameron, was one of them.

Well, one morning, Anna’s scout happened to drop into Archibald & Howell’s law office to see a clerk of his acquaintance. There was a minister in the waiting room, and one of the members of the firm came out and greeted him. He was from a little town not far from Winnipeg, in which city he was well known. This reverend gentleman remarked that things were not going well with him, that his little boy had broken his arm, but was getting better, and that he had lost a drove of pigs, but thought he would find them in a slough near a red barn a couple of miles away.

That night, the minister attended Anna Eva Fay’s performance and standing up handed in some written questions. He was directly spotted by the scout, who conveyed the intelligence Miss Fay desired. She answered the questions quite satisfactorily, and the wonder-stricken reverend gentleman freely communicated to those near him the accuracy of the answers. Shortly after Miss Fay predicted that Hugh John Macdonald would beat Joe Martin by 1,435 majority and Peter Rutherford, a staunch Grit and a firm believer in Miss Fay’s prophecies, rushed out of the show and ran down to the Liberal committee rooms and shouted for them to close the place as they were licked already. Hugh John was elected all right, but not by the majority she said he would have.

Adventures in the Occult.

In Los Angeles, I met Miss Dolly Chevrier, daughter of the late Senator Chevrier of Winnipeg, who was an old friend. She asked me to accompany her to the residence of an Irish lady acquaintance, who is the wife of one of the city officials of Los Angeles, and who had the gift of second sight. We had a very pleasant evening and, always incidentally, she brought up some subject or other that demonstrated she had some occult gift. She asked me what person wished to accompany me home, and mentioned the name of one, whom I afterwards discovered had entertained the desire. She told me about my sister, of whose existence she ordinarily could have no knowledge, and informed me of several occurrences in my life which astonished me. In leaving she told me that if I believed in the occult, I should call upon a Madame Lenz, who was a professional fortune teller, which I did.

Just at this time I received a letter from the son-in-law of Mrs. William Stitt, asking if I knew of any property that her husband, who had just died, owned in the West. Madame Lenz’s methods were simple. You wrote five questions and placed them in a sealed envelope; she would then twist the envelope in her hands and return it to you. She first told me that I had recently lost a friend, and that he was buried in Mon-Mon-Mon—she appeared to be in doubt—but finally said Montana. I corrected her and said it was Montreal. She admitted her haziness, but said he was interred on top of a mountain, which was true. She said he had some property in the West, but it was worthless, as it proved to be.

As I was leaving she remarked that September 10th was her birthday, and that, on the anniversary of her birth, I would receive a good sum of money. I wasn’t down at the office next September 10th with an express wagon to carry away any gold that might come, and when the clock struck twelve at midnight, I charitably thought that Madame had had another attack of haziness. A few years went by, and after a peculiar coincidence of circumstances one fine September 10th the prediction was realized, and I was $4,400 the richer. Madame Lenz asked me the whereabouts of a number of my friends, amongst those she mentioned being Mr. A. A. Polhamus; I told her he was sitting out in the auto waiting for me.

Amongst my acquaintances was Saint Nihil Singh, a young Hindoo who came with a letter of introduction from Eddie Coyle, then the C.P.R. representative at Vancouver. He was a bright young fellow and soon made a name for himself in his writings in the Canadian and American press. Taking me by the hand, he read it, and said I was a human fish—sucker, I suppose—and preferred liquids to solids—that is soups and stews to roasts—which was true. I asked him if he had ever seen any of those miraculous feats that the Hindoo fakir (not fakir but fakeer) had done, instancing a boy climbing a rope which had been thrown up into the air and disappearing into space. He had. And how was it done? And he replied, how did I think it was done? I said by hypnotism, and he smilingly agreed with me.

Then came another Singh—I forget his other name—but he was an Indian doctor, and he, too, had seen these wonderful feats, but he explained that they were only done by a certain cult whose forefathers for thousands of years had practised the black art, and had developed an additional sense which enabled them to do the seemingly impossible. So “you pays your money, and takes your choice.”

”Getting the Dope” on the “Prof.”

In the earlier days of Winnipeg Prof. Cecil appeared and gave an exhibition of spectacular table moving and other things. Jim McGregor and I were induced to go on the platform and he and I faced each other at the table while the Professor and his assistant sat on the other sides. The table moved all right enough, and so did my left hand, for I grabbed the Professor by the arm to find that he had attached to his wrists two strong steel bars which, with his hands on the table and the bars under the leaf, acted as levers and the whole thing was done.

He wasn’t exposed of course. It would have spoilt the show.

But he “got it in the neck” a little later. He released himself from handcuffs—which is easily done by slipping the mainspring of a watch into the ratchets and off they come. He, unfortunately, challenged everybody to produce any sort of manacle and he would open it. Dick Power, then chief of the provincial police, came forward with a brand new shackle. It had never been used before. It was locked on Dick’s leg, a handkerchief thrown over it, and the Professor tried in vain to open it. He couldn’t get the mainspring into the ratchet, and was finally compelled to admit his inability to do so.

Telepathy and Fortune Telling.

All this is different from telepathy and spirits. One night not so very long ago I was awakened by hearing Reggie Graves’ voice just outside my bedroom door, saying, “George Ham, George Ham, George H. Ham of the C.P.R.” This continued for some time, and I also recognized Brent MacNab’s voice. It was absurd to imagine that they were in the hallway of my house at that unearthly hour, two o’clock in the morning. When I turned on the light, the voices ceased; when I turned it off Reggie recommenced calling my name. I pinched myself to see if I was awake or dreaming, but after half an hour or so the calling ceased for good and I fell asleep.

The next night at two o’clock I was again awakened by Reggie’s voice calling upon me as it had the night previous. The calling continued while the light was off and ceased when it was turned on. After a while I lighted a cigarette, smoked part of it, and, extinguishing the fire, placed it on a small stand at my bedside. If it was there in the morning, this telepathy calling was no dream. True enough in the morning the cigarette was just where I had put it. Three or four evenings later, Reggie and Brent dropped in to see me, and I related what I have just written.

“It’s true,” exclaimed Reggie, “it’s true—I was in great distress and bodily pain and you were my only sheet anchor and I called you both nights.”

Reggie was at his home at Ste. Rose seventeen miles away.

Another night I was awakened by women’s voices at 4 a.m. and, while I could not hear what they said, could easily distinguish the voice of one of the ladies. Just for fun I ’phoned her next day, and told her she had not gone to bed until four o’clock and she related how a neighbor had been ill and she had gone in to see her and stayed with her until that late hour. The sick woman’s house was nearly a mile away from my residence.

Then there is fortune-telling—by cards and by tea cup. A clever reader of the remaining tea leaves can make up a mighty good story, from one’s imaginative powers and the knowledge of the person whose tea-cup is being read. Cards are different, and apparently are read by the proximity of one card dealt out of the pack to the others that follow. However that may be, I know of several instances where the fortune-teller’s predictions came absolutely true. One happened while crossing the Atlantic on board the old Champlain, when a lady acquaintance one lazy afternoon offered to tell my fortune. The cards told her, and she told me, that I would hear very bad news on my arrival at St. John, and would learn of the death of a very close friend. True enough, I was handed a letter from Mell Duff before I left the ship informing me of the death of my very intimate friend, Bob Morris, general baggage agent of the C.P.R., of Montreal. The other instance occurred in Shediac, N.B., when one rainy afternoon on going to Weldon’s Hotel, I found my wife packing her trunk. She told me that a lady had told her fortune an hour or so before, and the cards predicted that she was to leave the place immediately. Of course, I laughed over her unseemly haste, but a few minutes later received a rush telegram from Mr. McNicoll instructing me to report at once at headquarters. We left for Montreal next morning, and I have been stationed there ever since.

Besides these, there is palmistry. That is an old art, and anyone who studies a book on palmistry can correctly read the lines of anybody’s hand.

Story of the Haunted House.

While I am on this subject I might as well tell you that I once lived in a haunted house for a couple of years. Here’s the story, which in every particular can be corroborated by Major George II. Young, formerly of the Customs office, Winnipeg, the owner and previously the occupant of the house, and by Charlie Bell, for many years secretary of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, who also lived in the place, and by others.

It was on St. Patrick’s Day, 1877, that my wife and I took possession of the little house just south of old Grace Church on Main Street, Winnipeg, our landlord being Mr. Geo. H. Young. Tradition said it was built on an old Indian burial ground. The house was not fully furnished the first day and we fixed up a bed in what was to be the parlor. During the night queer noises were heard. The stove in the adjoining room rattled like mad, and investigation proved nothing. There was no wind or anything else visible that should cause a commotion. A door would slam and on going to it, it was found wide open. One night there was a loud noise as if some tinware hanging up on the wall in the kitchen had fallen. Saying: “There goes the boiler lid,” my mother, who had come from Whitby on a visit, ran downstairs and returned with the assertion that nothing had fallen on the floor to make such a noise. And so it went on.

I spoke to George Young about it, and he laughingly said: “You’re hearing those noises too; well, I won’t raise the rent anyway on that account.” And he didn’t—but that’s not the custom nowadays.

One time the cellar was filled with water, coming from where, goodness only knows, though it was said that there was a slough through that property years ago. Anyway the cellar was full of water, and it had to be baled out. I said, “Leave it to me. Let George do it.” My motto is “Do it now”—“now” being an indefinite time.

After a few days, despairing of any decisive action on my part, my wife engaged the Laurie boys, (who came from Whitby) to empty the cellar. They came one fine morning with pails and ropes and everything was ready to put the cellar in its normal condition. But lo and behold, when the trap door was opened, there wasn’t a blamed drop of water in the blooming cellar. It was dry as a tin horn. Of course I triumphantly boasted, “There, didn’t I tell you. Always leave things to me.” The Laurie boys were puzzled, for they had seen the cellar full the previous day. And I gloated. We never ascertained whence came the water or where it went, but by this time I had got accustomed to the prances and pranks of the house and didn’t care a continental.

After a couple of years’ occupancy of the house, which in the meantime had been purchased by the late George McVicar, we sought a new residence on Logan Street, next to Ald. More’s; and the Main Street house was leased to a Mr. Conlisk, a cigar manufacturer, who hitherto had boarded at John Pointz’s hotel, diagonally opposite. We were to move out on a Saturday morning, but the rain came down in torrents and the muddy streets were almost impassable. Besides our new house wasn’t ready.

I went to Mr. Conlisk and asked him if he would let us stay for a couple of days longer and I would pay his rent and his board at the hotel. But he wouldn’t. He had leased the house and he was going into it Saturday afternoon. And he did. I don’t like to think of unpleasant things, so I’ll skip telling about how we—and our furniture—fared. In less than a week, Jimmy Bennett, a well known citizen who had a room with the Conlisks, left for other—and doubtless quieter—quarters, and before the month was up Conlisk paid another month’s rent in advance, and gave the landlord notice that he was quitting. George McVicar came to me and angrily wanted to know why I was spreading reports that his house was haunted. I told him I had not done anything of the kind, but that it was the spooks who had spoken. The building was removed to the north end, and some years after, on recognizing it, I called to see if the noises still continued. But they wouldn’t let me in.

I don’t pretend to be able to explain the queer noises, nor could George Young, nor Charlie Bell, and Jimmy Bennett would not even speak of them. Whether they were the spirits of the past and gone Indian braves showing their displeasure at our intrusion in their domain, or were caused by some peculiarity in the construction of the house and its environments, I can not offer an opinion. But, as we got accustomed to them, they didn’t disturb us at all, and we got rather proud of our ghostly guests whose board and lodging cost us nothing.



Mark Twain, the Great Humorist—A Delightful

Speaker—A Chicago Cub Reporter’s Experience—The

Celebrated Cronin Case—W.

T. Stead and Hinky Dink—When

the Former Wrote

“If Christ Came to


Mark Twain was, in the minds of a multitude, the greatest humorist that America has ever produced. Some of his works are classics, and he gave that human touch to his characters that endeared them to the hearts of his readers. Although his gifted pen is laid away forever, his writings still live as Dickens’s have lived, his characters are undying. What is more human than his Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, his Col. Mulberry Sellars, in the “Gilded Age,” his “Prince and Pauper,” and what works will outlast his Tales of Western Life, and the “Innocents Abroad”?

While I could not say that I was at all intimate with Mark, I have met him a number of times, and have heard him speak brilliantly, and also, while suffering great bodily pain, pathetically endeavoring to be his own bright sunshiny self at banquets, when another person similarly stricken in health would have been abed at home or in the hospital.

I knew Mark better than many others did, however, through my good friend, Ralph W. Ashcroft, now of Montreal, who for many years was his business manager; his wife, Mrs. Ashcroft, (formerly Miss Lyon) was Mark’s capable secretary. They have a thousand and one recollections of Mark, and could give the world a more realistic insight of the dead author than has ever yet been presented.

Few men who ever spoke in public could sway an audience more readily than could Mark Twain. It was a delight to him to play upon the emotions of his hearers, and to transport them in the twinkling of an eye from the verge of tears to the realm of laughter. But I recall two occasions on which his art failed him.

He had been visiting a friend who lived in a small town in New York state, and while there was asked by the superintendent of a local charitable institute if he would be kind enough to come there and talk to the inmates. He said he would be delighted to do so. The next evening, when Mark stepped on the platform of the auditorium, he viewed an audience of both sexes and all ages, and portraying various degrees of intelligence. This was somewhat perplexing, and, for a moment, he was at a loss to decide what kind of talk to give them. However, he launched forth in a general way, and, after a few moments, as he tells it, “I fired a mild one at them.” But there was no response—not even the faintest suggestion of a laugh. All sat with their eyes glued on him, wrapt in wonderment, admiration and respect. This was a poser to Mark, but he continued to talk, and, in a minute or two, he “selected a stronger one and hurled it into their midst.” The result was the same—a morgue-like silence emanating from a group of animate corpses.

Mark’s friend was on the platform with him, and Mark looked appealingly at him. He detected a twinkle of amusement in his friend’s face, but got no encouraging look from him. Mark paused, mentally surveyed his last joke and its manner of delivery, and found both flawless. He was bewildered, but, nevertheless, decided to make a final attempt. He felt that his reputation as a humorist was at stake.

So he continued talking, and finally launched an anecdote that had never failed in his experience to turn an audience inside out with laughter and shrieks of applause. But not a glimmer of amusement was perceptible in his audience—not the remotest suggestion of a laugh or a smile. He was furious—mad right clear through at his failure—and he commenced to “take it out of” his audience in sarcastic vein, ending his talk by complimenting them on their acute appreciation of humor and wit. When he reached his friend’s home, he asked him if he could explain their stupor.

“Why, didn’t you know?” said his friend: “They’re all deaf mutes!”

Mark and the “High-brows.”

On the other occasion, Mark had quite a different audience—the faculty and the graduating classes of Columbia University in New York. On the platform with him were several eminent men of international reputation. Knowing the company he would be in, Mark decided that this occasion would be a suitable one at which to show an intellectual audience that he was something more than a humorist—to show them that he was a philosopher and a man of parts in a literary way. He selected for this purpose the beautiful poem which he had written in memory of his daughter Susy, and which had not then been published. He decided to read this to the gathering, at the close of his talk. Mark’s turn came, and he delighted his audience with one of the most delicately witty speeches he had ever made. They thought he had finished, but he kept on his feet, and they continued applauding. He raised his hand beseeching silence, and then said: “I would like, now, ladies and gentlemen, to read you some serious verse that I composed recently. It is an appreciation of my—”

The applause was renewed with fourfold force, the laughter fairly shook the building. Mark looked visibly pained; he appeared to be (as he was) deeply distressed. This served only to accentuate and prolong the demonstration. Finally they quieted down, and very solemnly Mark said: “But, ladies and gentlemen, what I wish to read to you is sacred in my eyes. It refers to—”

But it was no use—the shrieks of laughter drowned his words. After exhausting themselves, the audience waited for more, waited for “the joke.” But Mark merely said, in as grieved a tone as he truly felt: “I see, my friends, that you are in no mood this evening to treat me seriously, so I will not burden you further.” And he sat down, amid a deafening demonstration. Such wit, they thought, was delicious. He could have cried with chagrin. Few, if any, in that audience yet know of their unwitting faux pas.

So it was with Harry Lauder, two years ago, when speaking in a Congregational Church in Montreal. He charmed his audience with a few quaint sayings, and then referred to the Great War, and to the loss he had sustained through the death of his son. It was very pathetic, but a number of people sitting in front of him shook with laughter. They thought he was still funny, to Sir Harry’s utter disgust and to the disgust of others, who like myself felt the man’s sorrow and tearfully sympathized with him in his loss.

Mark was a very shrewd investor. Whenever he made a few thousand dollars on a book or lecture tour, he would put the money into some sound enterprise. It is not generally known that he was the man who developed what is now the linotype, the first type-setting machine.

The Human Cash Register.

He was very much interested in the cash register, and, when he died, was one of the owners of a machine which was almost human. It would register a purchase of say $2.65, gobble up a $5 bill, and automatically hand the customer his change, viz: a two dollar bill, a twenty-five cent piece, and a dime. The change would always come out in the highest possible denominations. Mark figured on having a phonograph attached to the cash register, which would say: “Here’s your change, madam. Thank you very much.”

The late H. H. Rogers, of Standard Oil Co. fame, often gave him valuable advice regarding investments. On one occasion Mark decided to have a little fun at Rogers’ expense. He went to his office one day and told him he was going to invest some money in a brickyard that could make bricks cheaper, and better and faster than any other brickyard on earth, and he wanted Rogers to invest $50,000 too. Mark told Rogers all about the wonderful method of making these marvelous bricks, and took up about an hour of Rogers’ valuable time, finally saying: “Now, Henry, I want your cheque for $50,000, and I want it NOW.”

“But,” said Mr. Rogers. “There’s one important thing about the matter that you haven’t told me.”

“What is that?” asked Mark.

“Why,” said Mr. Rogers, “where is this brickyard of yours located?”

“Oh,” exclaimed Mark disgustedly, “if you want to know that, the deal’s off!”

As a matter of fact, the brickyard was a myth. It didn’t exist. All that Mark was after was to get Rogers to write out the cheque, so that he could have the laugh on him.

My Old Friend, the Chicago Cub Reporter.

Amongst my good old friends is Joe Dillabough, for years on the Chicago press. Joe is Canadian born, but drifted to Chicago in the early ’80’s and was the first cub reporter of the Times. What he doesn’t know of the seamy side of life in that great city is not worth knowing. When Joe was taken ill some years ago, we sent him out to the Canadian Rockies to recuperate, and incidentally to tell the world of the magnificence of the scenery around and about them, and how it enthralled the prominent people from the east. Joe’s first dispatch was about the unfortunate disappearance of a bishop and several priests from some outlandish country, the name of which I have forgotten, in a chasm at Banff, and of their timely rescue by Manager Mathews, of the C.P.R. hotel. It appeared in the Montreal evening papers and on going to Toronto that night I sat beside a stranger while the berths were being made up when he casually remarked that: “This is a queer story in to-night’s paper—this rescue of the bishop and priests from a chasm at Banff.” I asked in what particular way was it queer, and he said he came from that far-away land and they never had a bishop there. And I said, “Oh, Joe.”

Then the next dispatch was about the drowning of a large number of Indians in Lake Louise, while crossing the ice on their way to a potlach. It was widely published. I wrote Joe that there were no Indians in that locality, and if there were, they would not cross the lake but follow the trail around Lake Louise, but if they did cross the ice, they couldn’t possibly drown for the ice was a couple of feet thick. Joe naively replied that there were some of the most elegant liars in the Rocky Mountains he had ever known. My experience is that these talented descendants of Ananias are not altogether confined to that scenic region.

Nearly a generation ago the art of alliteration was worked to death in sensational headings. The Times was easily first in this particular, and one fine morning shocked and startled the community by its blasphemous caption “Jerked to Jesus,” which appeared following the hanging of a murderer who was himself the medium for the suggestion. The copyreader was Clinton A. Snowden, then one of the bright young men on the Times’ staff. Snowden went to Tacoma about 1892. It was he who hit upon the plan of sending George Francis Train, the great national crank, around the world on a 60-day tour, “Tacoma to Tacoma,” to beat the record of Phineas Fogg, the Jules Verne character in “Around the World in Eighty Days.” By the same token Train was the original of Fogg in the Verne story. It will be recalled that Nellie Bly, a Canadian newspaper woman working in New York, set out to out-do Train’s record and beat it by a day or so. Nellie was a Brockville girl or from one of the towns near there. Train, by the way, was a financial genius in his younger days and the real father-promoter of the Union Pacific Railway. He introduced “trams” in London and Australia.

Several Gory Sequences.

The celebrated Cronin case was one of Joe’s assignments, and it was one of the most cold-blooded murders in the country’s annals. I am only referring to it, because one of the scenes was laid in Winnipeg. Dr. Cronin was an earnest and honest patriotic Nationalist, and belonged to the notorious Camp 20. Suspecting that the immense sums of money contributed to the “Cause” were being stolen by the “Triangle,” which controlled the Camp and diverted the funds to the Triangle’s personal benefit, he openly denounced Alexander Sullivan, its chief, and, strenuously as they tried to silence him, he still continued to openly charge them with theft. They could only quiet him by getting him out of the way, and he was lured to the Carlson cottage one night and foully murdered. Pat McGarry, Frank T. Scanlan and other friends visited the newspaper offices and told of their suspicions. They were right. John M. Collins, a Camp 20 member, then a traffic cop at Lake and Clark Streets, identified Martin Burke at Winnipeg. John later became chief of police at Chicago. He died of pneumonia a couple of years ago. George Hubbard, chief in 1889, who sent Collins to the ’Peg, recently died in Florida. Alex. S. Ross, assistant chief in ’89, who brought Burke back to Chicago, died some years ago. He was a brother of Duncan C., the great athlete, and Wm. J. Ross, now of Fort William, and former superintendent of bridges, C.P.R., under John M. Egan. Detective John Broderick, who worked up the case in Winnipeg, died a few years ago, and George A. H. Baker, assistant states-attorney for Cook County, committed suicide in Chicago by strangling himself with a trunk strap.

When Alex. Sullivan, head of the Triangle, died at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Chicago, Joe covered the story for the Tribune. He was the son of a British Army Officer, once stationed at Fort Amherstburg, Ont., and was born there. The Cronin murder has been followed by many tragedies on both sides, or factions. It was John Fleming, an ex-policeman, who tipped to Joe the scoop that John Sampson (“Major”) had been offered $100 by Dan Coughlin (Big Dan), a Chicago city detective, to slug Cronin and that tip led to Dan’s connection with the case and to Joe’s story of his hiring of the white horse from Pat Dinan, the liveryman, which was used when Cronin was lured to his death in the Carlson cottage. Dan became a fugitive from justice following the bribing of jurors in an Illinois Central Railway civil court action, and he died in Honduras. He was led into the bribery case by Pat O’Keefe, special agent for the Illinois Central Railway, and formerly in the same capacity for the C.P.R. under Supt. J. M. Egan, in Winnipeg. O’Keefe and Aleck Ross, years before going to Chicago, had been partners as whiskey detectives in and around Rat Portage, Ont. They had quarrelled up there over a pair of rubber boots and remained enemies for years in Chicago until they were brought together in Mel Wood’s saloon on Clark Street, where they shook hands and made up, renewing an old and fast friendship.

Martin Burke was captured by Chief of Police McRae through information give by Alex. Calder and his son Arthur, who had sold him a ticket through to Ireland. Burke’s assumed name was John Cooper. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and nearly every one connected with the case came to a tragic end.

Stead and Hinky Dink.

It was through another Joe—Joe Page, that great Canadian baseball promoter—that I met the notorious “Hinky Dink,” who has been an alderman of Chicago for years and years and has remained one notwithstanding the strenuous efforts of the reform element to defeat him. His real name is Michael McKenna, and his first ward colleague in the council 20 odd years was “Bath House Jawn”—John J. Coughlin. The Dink really is a square little man and became a great pal of W. T. Stead, when he was here getting material for his book, “If Christ Came to Chicago.” On that visit Stead lived among the hobo fellows and, with them, actually was a “white wing,” pushing a broom in the streets that he might get color for his story. Hinky’s special claim for popularity is that he never goes back on “the boys;” no matter at what hour of the night or early morn he arises to go bail for any poor unfortunate in the police toils, and it is said that never has he been deceived by those he has helped out of a hole. His saloon is now closed, the landlord having raised his rent to an exorbitant sum.



The Canadian Women’s Press Club—How It Originated—With

“Kit” of the Toronto Mail at St.

Louis and Elsewhere—The Lamented

“Francoise” Barry—Successful Triennial

Gatherings—The Girls Visit

Different Parts of Canada—Threatened

Invasion of the

Pacific Coast.

One fine day in June, 1904, a handsome and fashionably dressed young lady came into my office at C.P.R. headquarters, and started cyclonically to tell me that while the C.P.R. had taken men to all the excursions to fairs and other things, women had altogether been ignobly ignored and she demonstratively demanded to know why poor downtrodden females should thus be so shabbily treated. When she had finished her harangue—I guess from lack of a further supply of breath—I politely motioned her to a seat and calmly said:

“Sit down, Miggsy, sit down and keep cool,” which she did.

She was Margaret Graham, a writer for the press, and a champion of woman’s rights—which I had already sagaciously surmised.

When quietness was restored, she explained that her mission was to persuade the C.P.R. to take a bunch—I don’t think she used the word bunch—of women to the St. Louis fair, to which I had recently accompanied a party of newspaper men. Miggsy’s idea appealed to me, and we arranged for a party of sixteen—sweet sixteen, though some of them didn’t think they were—to visit St. Louis.

The trip was a huge success in every way, and not only was the Fair taken in, but a visit was paid to Chicago, where the party was entertained by the well-known Jane Addams, at Hull House. On the way home, by a happy inspiration, a woman’s press club was formed with Kit, of the Toronto Mail, as president, and somehow or other—guess for lack of better material—was I made honorary president, and have been the only male member of a female press club in the world ever since. Some are born great, you know, others achieve greatness, and others still have greatness thrust upon them. You can readily see to which class I belong, can’t you? And now at the recent triennial, the club transformed me into an active member. I have qualified through writing these reminiscences, and have been initiated into the solemn mysteries of the lodge. There was no goat—at least no four-legged one—but, there, I must not divulge the secret mysteries of the girls’ conclave.

Since then, this press club has had outings to different parts of Canada every three years—until the Great War broke out—when they were discontinued, but renewed again in 1920 with Montreal as the meeting place, and a delightful visit to Quebec, Ste. Anne de Beaupre and Ottawa, and in 1923 they threaten to invade Vancouver and Victoria. These triennial outings have been very enjoyable and I always came home with a gold-headed umbrella or a swagger valise or hand bag or gold sleeve links and other jewelry, and I firmly believe that if the trips had been made annually instead of triennially, I would have been able to start up a second-hand departmental store with the untaxed luxuries I lugged home. The club has prospered amazingly, notwithstanding my association with it, and its membership has increased from 16 to more than 350.

Amongst the charter members were some writers of note: “Kit” of the Mail, the first president (Mrs. Coleman) and “Francoise” of her own paper (Miss Barry) have passed to the Great Beyond—God rest their souls—and other distinguished writers were “Mary Markwell” (Mrs. Kate Simpson Hayes); “Happiness”, as we called her, (now Mrs. Jerry Snider of Toronto); Irene Love of London, Ont. (now Mrs. Eldred Archibald), who, under the nom de plume, Margaret Currie, daily enlightens the readers of the Montreal Star with words of advice and wisdom; Katherine Hughes, who is now trying to free Ireland with that distinguished person of Spanish parentage and born in the United States, de Valera; Miss Alice Asselin, of Le Nationalist; Mrs. Balmer Watt, of Brantford, now of Edmonton; Miss Gerin-Lajoie; Miss Plouffe; Miss Laberge; Miss Madeleine Gleason; Miss Marie Beaupré (Helene Dumont) of La Presse; Miss Valois of Ottawa and of course Miggsy (Mrs. Albert Horton, of Ottawa) who was the originator of the trip which led to the formation of the club.

With “Kit” in St. Louis.

At St. Louis, impressionable Kit accompanied me to a reproduction of the Passion Play of Oberammergau, and in one scene I heard “Kit” sobbing. “What’s the matter with you, Kit?” I sympathetically whispered. “Oh, see our blessed Saviour; they’re crucifying him,” she tearfully replied. “Well, let’s get out of here,” and I hustled her to an adjoining performance where an Irish-Australian songstress was energetically singing, “The Wearing of the Green,” as we were seated. And Kit, her face wreathed in smiles, was vigorously keeping time with the tune by patting the floor with her foot. What a difference a few minutes makes.

At another show, a trip through Siberia, Kit and I approached the entrance where there was a locomotive with steam up and bell ringing. I was enjoying a cigar, and casually, but confoundedly simply, asked the attendant if I would have time to finish my smoke before the show started. “Hold that engine,” he shouted to the engineer, “all aboard—hurry up.” And like a chump I threw away my butt and we hiked in behind the locomotive only to find, as any one but a rube would have known, that it was a stationary one, and had really nothing to do with the trip.

Kit was great—she never failed me. At a gathering of the club in Toronto, when the Governor General was present, I laughingly offered to wager with some of the girls that I would kiss the prettiest woman that would come into the room. I won hands down, for when Kit came in, she rushed up to me and, putting her arms around me, smacked me on the place where smacks should smack and gaily chirped: “Arrah, George, darlint, how are you? Haven’s seen you for an age.”

“Francoise” was beloved of all, and her charming talk was irresistible. When she passed away, there was many a tear-dimmed eye and many a heavy heart as we reverently laid her to rest.

The Mormons.

There are a whole lot of people who, not knowing the Mormons, have formed a very wrong impression of them. I guess they were bad enough when they had the “Avenging Angels” and harassed and massacred the gentle Gentiles in Utah. But at a later date, I gained knowledge of them, and found that they were not as black as they were painted. Henry Ward Beecher, whom I frequently met, spoke kindly of them and said that their young men and women led beautiful and wholesome lives. Other authorities testified as to their good qualities. My own experience of them was that they were an industrious, hard-working, sober people, the boys helpful and the girls modest; their well laid out and cleanly-kept towns, like a cart-wheel, with the streets running out from the hub like spokes, were models that could be followed with advantage.

Mr. Knight, the founder of the colony at Raymond, Cardston and Magrath in Southern Alberta, told me in Calgary one day how he had selected Canada for his sect. As a boy he had one dream—to be a help to his people—but he had little money to be of much use to them. One night he had a vision of a silver mine in a certain locality. He located the mine and worked it with excellent results and with the proceeds he established the Mormon settlements in Alberta to which he had been providentially directed.

It so happened that on one of the outings of the Canadian Women’s Press Club, Raymond and other villages were on our itinerary. There was a story published at the time that L. O. Armstrong, a leading official of the C.P.R. colonization department, had wired ahead that I was a prominent wealthy Mormon from Wyoming and with a number of my wives and other lady friends would visit their community. The story went on to say that the Mormons turned out in force to meet and greet us, and that I, tumbling to the idea that some one or other had put up a job on me, carried out the imposture to the letter. That wasn’t so, but the girls were cordially received and had a rattling good visit.

Bishop Mackenzie and his wife were very hospitable, but Mrs. Mackenzie wondered why my female friends asked so many queer questions. They wanted to know how many other wives the Bishop had and how she got along with them, but I laughed it off.

George W. Green, the mayor of Raymond, a jolly good fellow, accompanied us on a side trip by train, and, on nearing his town, the girls ranged themselves in the vestibules at both ends of the car, leaving him and myself alone in the body of the coach. Smelling a rat, His Worship, when the train stopped at the station, alertly jumped out the window and waved his adieux. The laugh was on the girls. When we returned to the car, there was a 20-lb. bag of sugar addressed to me with Mayor Green’s compliments. Now, if that were only to-day—but what’s the use of repining? He is now the bishop of the ward at Raymond and enjoys the prominent distinction of having a clean police record during his two years as mayor of the town. There was not an arrest or trial in the place during his term of office.

Amongst the Mormons I met was a Mrs. Silver, one of Brigham Young’s numerous grandchildren. She was a handsome and charming woman, and was accompanied by her husband and two children. She was proud of her ancestry and of her religion, and spoke freely of their home life. The grandchildren lived happily together and formed groups with congenial relatives. Thus Mary and Jane and Susie and Ruth would be bosom companions and Lily and Betty and Rebecca and Rachel and Maude would play together. And they all got along swimmingly. The only thing curious about it was that the little Silver girl called Mrs. Silver mother and Mr. Silver uncle, and the little Silver boy called Mr. Silver father and Mrs. Silver auntie. It did seem queer; still it’s none of my business to butt in on family affairs.

Meeting a Mormon delegate at Washington with some newspaper friends, we were given a very interesting talk on Mormon life. His home—or rather homes—he said, consisted of an eight-apartment house, in which his eight wives and families were separately domiciled. He explained their home life, and when Jack Messenger of the Washington Star asked him what he did, he naively replied, “Me? Oh, I just circulate.”

In all fairness, it should be said that polygamy is not in evidence in Alberta. But I wonder how we alleged Lords of Creation would take it if polyandry were in vogue as polygamy once was.

A magnificent Mormon temple is being erected at Cardston, at a cost of several millions, and it is said will be the finest temple in North America. No Gentile foot is ever to be allowed to desecrate it, so I suppose I shall never see its splendid interior—unless I turn Mormon, which is not amongst the probabilities.



When Toronto Was Young—The Local Newspapers—The

Markham Gang—Some Chief Magistrates

of the City—Ned Farrer, the Great Journalist—Theatrical


Bonifaces—And Old-Time

Friends—Toronto’s Pride.

Toronto is “the Queen City of Canada,” but it was not always thus. Long before my time it was called either “Little York,” or “Muddy York,” and the latter designation was as well deserved as the former, for the town or city—(it became a city with William Lyon Mackenzie as Mayor in 1834)—had much the experience of Winnipeg in its pioneer days owing to the generosity with which mud was lavished upon it. There was an oozy, slippery and sticky quality about the mud of the town of York that made it famous all over Upper Canada.

If, by reason of this pecularity, the town was none too comfortable under foot, neither was it at all times as agreeable overhead. One hundred and eight years ago the Yankees captured the place and the Stars and Stripes decorated what was left of it when the burning of the public buildings and the looting had been stopped.

Nemesis, however, soon overtook the invaders. The British retaliated by taking Washington. Our neighbors have not yet ceased exulting over the defeat of the little garrison at York, and bewailing the barbarity of the attack upon Washington. I wonder if all this would have happened had Tommy Church ruled in those days.

When the Union Jack returned, as it did the following year, rebuilding proceeded briskly. Our forefathers were not restrained by union rules or the eight-hour day. But the Toronto of that time is not the Toronto of 1921. As a matter of fact there have been three Torontos on the present site. The first, known as Little York possibly to distinguish it from its namesake New York, was crowded into half a dozen squares, just east of Sherbourne Street. Then came the second, with King Street up to York Street as its principal thoroughfare, and with nothing much north of Queen Street. Following this we have the Toronto of to-day, covering a large area and boasting a population of more than half a million.

It was while the city was passing from its second to its third stage that I first knew it. You landed from the Grand Trunk at a little brick building in the centre of a long platform at the foot of York Street. This was the predecessor of the new Union Station that is to be opened in the sweet by and by. You at once knew you were in a great metropolis for at the slip running into the Bay, which at that time had not been filled in, and came up nearly to Front street, were the carts loading with barrels of water for distribution among the citizens. It was a sort of primitive water works system, with the wells and distilleries to supplement it for drinking purposes.

Up York Street and along Front were some of the old-fashioned villas. York to Spadina on Front and Wellington Streets had been the fashionable section of the second city of Toronto, with the Parliament Buildings half way along. Here, Sandfield Macdonald, the first premier, ruled the new Province of Ontario. Sandfield’s Government was noted for its unconventionality—from the physical point of view. The Prime Minister was said to have but one lung. The Provincial Treasurer, E. B. Wood, had but one arm, and the Provincial Secretary, M. C. Cameron, had but one foot. No wonder the first Ontario administration did not make a good run.


Above, Waterfront; below, Fish-market.

The Leader’s Drill Shed Story.

Just east of the Parliament Buildings was the huge wooden drill shed built during the Trent excitement when every town in Canada was running to drill sheds instead of to good roads or prohibition. One night this far from elegant structure collapsed under the weight of a fall of snow. The old Leader, of which more anon, made a front page sensation of the accident. Multifarious headlines, nearly a column in length, told the harrowing story, and a single sentence stating that the roof of the shed had fallen in formed the body of the report. Jimuel Briggs was then writing the comic Police Court for the Telegraph, a rival paper. He arraigned a supposititious tramp before the “Beak” on the charge of drunkenness and vagrancy.

“What was the last piece of work you did?” asked the magistrate.

“The Leader’s report on the drill shed,” the prisoner replied.

“Six months with hard labor,” was the penalty promptly imposed. This was the first rebuke I know of to the headline as a newspaper artifice.

King and Yonge were the business and promenade streets. All the big retail stores were on King, and those of prominence were better known by the trade name given to them than by the names of their proprietors. Thus the Golden Lion, the Golden Griffin, the Mammoth, Flags of all Nations, and China Hall were the popular bargain centres. Yonge Street was just beginning to pick up the retail trade. This street was named after an early British secretary of war who never saw it. Up Yonge and just around the corner on Queen next to Knox Church, on the site now covered by Simpson’s, was a fashionable undertaking establishment conducted by Luke Sharp, whose name, displayed in huge letters over an assortment of attractive caskets, seemed to suggest “Safety First” to the passers by. Robert Barr, the famous humorist, who kept Detroit laughing for years, thought so well of the name that he adopted it as his nom de plume. Thus Luke literally leaped from grave to gay.

A more notable example of the coming together of the serious and the not-so-serious was furnished at King and Simcoe Streets where St. Andrew’s Church, Government House, Upper Canada College, and an attractive tavern occupied the four corners. It used to be said that salvation, legislation, education and damnation met at this point. Salvation is all that remains of the big four, and the survival is no doubt attributable to the fact that Toronto is Toronto the Good. Nor is this the only evidence of the Goodness of the City. Joe Clark, of the Toronto Star, whose orchard would have seriously affected the fruit market if he had had more than three trees, once told me that his precious heir-apparent some years ago came home from Sunday School triumphantly bearing a Bible—the big prize for the most industrious pupil. The next year he brought home another Bible, but with diminished enthusiasm. The following year he appeared with a third copy of the Holy Scriptures which he meekly laid on the table, and enquiringly remarked:

“Say, Dad, how many more Bibles have I got to win before I get anything else?”

Thus was the foundation of Toronto’s goodness firmly and permanently laid.

When “Three Pair” Won.

The old Government House at the four corners was supplanted by the new one in Rosedale a few years ago. This building figured in rural politics in the early days of Ontario. Archie McKellar, who was the first U.F.O., though he didn’t know it, used to go up and down the side lines denouncing the extravagance that built such a mansion and put a billiard room in it. His labor with the farmers helped to put Sir Oliver Mowat in power, and oddly enough Sir Oliver lived for years in this very Government House, though I do not think he used the billiard room. Society made Government House its headquarters.

But the Toronto Club, now occupying its palatial quarters at the corner of York and Wellington Streets, was the gathering place for the élite of the male persuasion. A story is told of pre-prohibition days when some of the masculine social stars used to meet at the Club for a little game of draw, or—there being no O. T. A. to interfere with their conscience on the temperance question—for a little of something else. Late in the night, or early in the morning as the case may be, at one of these assemblies the hand of one of the players was “called.” The hand was shown, and it showed three tens. No good; the next man threw down three Queens. Not worth a tinker’s what-do-you-call-it; the next showed three Kings. The same result; three aces followed. The holder of the three aces started to rake in the pot when the last player hiccoughed, “Hold on, will you, I’ve got three pair.” And they all admitted that the pot was his.

The Albany Club on King Street east was and still is the leading Conservative club, and I guess some of the old members are still voting for Sir John.

The Toronto Press.

The newspapers of that period had a hard time to make ends meet, owing to the cost of production and the rarity of subscribers. The Globe, the Leader and the Colonist were the dailies. George Brown, Gordon Brown, Dan Morrison and Charles Lindsey were the chief writers. George Brown thought more of the Globe than of any other of his life associations, excepting perhaps Bow Park. They say that, returning from Edinburgh with his bride, he jumped out of the train when it reached the Toronto station and made for the Globe office, forgetting for the moment that his fair companion required some attention in the strange city to which she had come.

His assaults upon the other side of politics were printed double-leaded on the front page of the paper. People used to think this was because of their importance. But John A. Ewan, who was a boy in the Globe office at the time, and was assigned the duty of running up to Mr. Brown’s house for the editorial copy, used to say that in nine cases out of ten the articles had to go on the front page because, owing to the labor lavished upon them, they were too late for the page devoted to editorial matter. John A. Ewan began newspaper work on the Globe, and was one of the editors of that paper when he passed away. A staunch Liberal and beloved by all, we were warm friends, for he was a good deal like my other bosom friend, Sam Kydd, of the Montreal Gazette, whose quaint humor gave the editorial columns of that paper a brightness that made them very pleasant reading.

One evening John unceremoniously but unintentionally dropped in on a little dinner party I was giving to several members of the Women’s Press Club at the King Edward, and after having enjoyed a pleasant time, insisted when we were alone and the affair was over upon asking the amount of the bill because he wanted to share the expense. I firmly refused to entertain such a proposition, and told him it was not the custom in the neck of the woods I came from to allow anyone else to pay for one’s guests.

“Very well, George, my boy,” said John. “You’ve been very kind to me and I am going to be equally generous to you. Hanged if I don’t get you the Liberal nomination for East Toronto at the next election.”

Funny, wasn’t it? John had just been snowed under in that constituency by a 3,000 Conservative majority. Poor John—dead and gone—his memory is still kept green by all the old-timers who, knowing his kindness of heart, his geniality and his amiability, loved him all the more.

While the Globe was growing in every way some of the other papers were not doing so well. The Telegraph, the first venture in the daily field of my old friend, John Ross Robertson, with Jimmy Cook as his partner, felt the pinch, and so did the Leader after Charles Belford and George Gregg left to help start the Mail.

The Leader’s last days were marked by some journalistic novelties. If you had subscribed to the paper it kept on coming whether you renewed your subscription or not. If you advertised for a cook the “ad” was placed at the top of the “wanted” column, and appeared daily although your want had been supplied, working its way down to the bottom of the column as fast as new “ads” arrived to take the top place. Ultimately the appeal for a cook reached the bottom of the column and was retired.

The Colonist, then a Tory organ, during the panic of 1857, startled the political world with a sensational article, headed “Whither Are We Drifting?” and laid the blame of the distressing condition of the country on the awful extravagance and culpable incapacity of the Government. As I remember, though only a youth of immature years, the paper was financially in a hole, and John Sheridan Hogan, a brilliant young Irishman, who supported the Conservative party, was its editor. The Colonist’s sensational article brought immediate financial relief, for the Reformers swarmed to its assistance by increasing its advertising patronage and its circulation. Hogan was elected as a Liberal to the Local Legislature for one of the Greys, and was shortly afterwards murdered one night while crossing the Don bridge by the notorious Brooks Bush gang, which camped near the scene of the tragedy, and made the locality a veritable hell on earth.

The Markham Gang.

Before I was born or even thought of, the equally notorious Markham gang operated for years on a very large scale, but I used to hear a great deal of their evil doings. The members of this gang were horse-thieves, counterfeiters, desperadoes, and even murder was committed by its members. While apparently well-to-do, respectable people—farmers, millers, tavern-keepers, etc.—they rivalled the scum of the earth in the darkness of their infamous crimes. Their organization was perfect, an iron-bound oath binding them together, and they adroitly scattered their bogus money broadcast, and drove scores upon scores of horses to Detroit and other places on the American frontier, which was crossed without the formality of a visit to the customs house.

Toronto naturally was the scene of many of their operations, being a fairly good distance from Markham. Some years after I accompanied my old friend, Col. J. E. Farewell, of Whitby, on a visit to Dawn township in Lambton county, to inspect a property he had acquired there. It was located in the middle of a good-sized swamp, and to his great surprise he found the cellars of a big house and large stables and other buildings and large apple trees—the headquarters of that part of the gang which operated throughout Western Canada. Here the stock rested and was fixed up so as to be unrecognizable by the rightful owners should they happen to come across the animals.

To the East the gang operated as far as the Bay of Quinte, and even had big establishments in Stafford and Dunham townships in Lower Canada, where the “phoney” money was made. Murders were committed by these lawless desperadoes. After some years, through the exertions of Mr. George Gurnett, police magistrate of Toronto, and Mr. Higgins, high constable of York, and others, several of the leaders of the gang were arrested and punished either by death or imprisonment. The gang was dispersed, and while it is now but a misty memory—it terrorized the country in those primitive days.

Comic and Other Papers.

There were comic papers as well as serious ones in my early days. The Grumbler was one. It was owned by Erastus Wiman, who afterwards led in the unrestricted reciprocity movement, and the chief writer was Bill Rattray, who later on wrote the heavy religious articles, combating German agnosticism, in the Mail. Another was the Poker, conducted by Robert A. Harrison, who rose to the position of Chief Justice of Ontario. Then came Grip, published by my old school-fellow, Johnny Bengough; it succeeded splendidly, until Johnny’s two fads—single tax and prohibition, then ahead of the age—lost it the needed patronage. Johnny was a bright cartoonist and an able writer and is credited with the authorship of that celebrated poem, “On-tay-rio, On-tay-rio, the tyrant’s hand is on thy throat,” which raised a great ruction in Quebec, and which had been attributed to the late Hon. James D. Edgar.

The Mail first appeared in 1872 with T. C. Patteson, the father, along with Harry Good, of the sporting page in the Canadian newspaper. The Globe would not go in for horse racing, so the Mail made a specialty of this sport and ultimately the older paper had to come in. The Mail was to have been started on April 1; but the foreman printer drew attention to the danger involved in the selection of that date for the first number. So the paper came out a day earlier than was intended. Yet the Mail did not escape the sort of humor appropriate to the first of April. It had the city laughing soon after it was founded by reason of some curious typographical errors incident to the haste of production.

One of these arose out of a St. George’s Society service at St. James Cathedral. It appears that a boy in the composing room had been entertaining himself by setting up sections of a dime novel relating the adventures of “Cut Throat Dick, the Bold Roamer of the Western Plains,” or of some other celebrity of that type. When the report of the St. George’s sermon was being placed in the form preparatory to printing the paper, the “make-up” man used instead of the second half of the sermon a selection from the story of “Cut Throat Dick” with the result that the preacher, Rev. Alexander Williams, was represented as using language that was quite unsuited to the pulpit.

In the same paper somebody played a practical joke at the expense of Mr. M. Homer Dixon, the Consul-General for the Netherlands. Mr. Dixon always appeared at state functions wearing the diplomatic uniform of blue cloth and gold lace. A letter appeared in the Mail offering a vigorous defence of this practice and was signed apparently by Mr. Dixon himself. The missive, which was a forgery, set everybody laughing.

But there was a louder laugh at a practical joke played by my old friend, W. R. Callaway, general passenger agent of the Soo Line, and formerly of the C.P.R. at Toronto. Mr. Callaway is nothing if not a wag. The jobs he has put up are innumerable, and this is one of them. He issued “swell” invitations to the leading citizens of Toronto to visit his office on King street and see the first cycle used in the construction of the C.P.R. which had just been completed. The acceptances were many. Amongst those who came to see the wonderful and historic machine were Sir George Kirkpatrick, the mayor and aldermen of Toronto, and many society ladies and gentlemen. They were escorted to a rear room where they beheld a brand new wheel-barrow, especially borrowed for the occasion from Rice Lewis & Son. The crowd took the “sell” good naturedly, but Mr. Callaway was conveniently absent in London.

Returning to the newspapers—in a later day came the Sun, the World, edited by W. F. Maclean, M.P., the Empire, both afterwards absorbed by the Mail, and the Telegram, the last and highly successful venture of John Ross Robertson. John Ross in this enterprise made municipal politics his specialty, and woe to the man he opposed. One candidate for the mayoralty to whom he objected was Angus Morrison. Mr. Morrison was not a good or strictly coherent speaker. John Ross went after him by printing verbatim reports of his campaign speeches, and thus did him no end of harm.

Toronto’s Chief Magistrates.

Toronto’s mayors have been of all types and of all brands of politics. Next to Tommy Church, the most tenacious was Francis H. Metcalfe, “Square Toes” as he was called, who had five terms. Mayor Church has had six, and is now enjoying his seventh. He toes the line with even greater energy than did Mr. Metcalfe. “Square Toes” was a notable member of the Orange Order, and the joke was on him when he had to give protection to the Catholic processions that celebrated the Papal Jubilee. E. F. Clarke and Horatio C. Hocken were also chiefs of the Orange Order. Ned Clarke was taken away all too early.

Some of the mayors had a good streak of humor. Mayor McMurrich was one of these. It falls to the lot of the mayor to give names to the foundlings coming under the protection of the city. One newspaper man, Ephraim Roden, had criticised Mr. McMurrich in the course of his journalistic duties. Shortly afterwards a colored foundling had to be named, and the mayor conferred upon it the full name of his critic. Mr. Withrow was a mayoralty candidate but was not elected.

I remember coming to one of the exhibitions which preceded the establishment of the Industrial. It was held just where the Massey-Harris factories and yards are on King street. King street west then ended at Strachan avenue, and big gates, where King street stopped, guarded the entrance to the fair grounds. The most notable feature of the Fair was the glass structure known as the Crystal Palace. Here all the best exhibits—the quilts, the amateur paintings, the cakes by the farmer’s wife, the sewing machines, the pumpkins, the parlor organs and the stoves were displayed. Outside on the grounds were agricultural implements, animals none too well housed, and mud—for the weather as a rule was hostile to the Fair. Mr. Withrow and some other leading spirits worked for the transfer of the Exhibition to the Garrison Common, and now Toronto has the big show of the country—if not of the continent.

”Ned”—Hon. Edward Farrer.

There had been no better known newspaper man in Canada than Ned Farrer, and none more popular with those who knew him. He was a brilliant writer, an interesting conversationalist with an unlimited fund of information and humor, and knew so many stories and told them so often that he actually believed them himself.

While Ned had been chief editorial editor of the Toronto Mail and the Toronto Globe, he was also on the Winnipeg Times, succeeding me as editor-in-chief in 1882, and in later years he became a free lance and wrote for many papers, chief amongst which was the London Economist, and he was also employed by large corporations on account of his grasp of subjects and the readiness of his pen. A better writer I never knew who could put a case more clearly and succinctly than he could, and his great mind could see both sides of a question, so that he could reply to his own arguments without any difficulty, and then controvert them to the Queen’s taste. His style was incisive and telling.

Once when Chief Justice Wallbridge, of the Manitoba bench, who had reached a good old age, fiercely denounced the reflections of the Winnipeg Times on the court, Ned made very brief reference to it, and concluded: “Senility has its privileges.” That repartee has been quoted to me many a time since. He had been in earlier years on the New York press, but wandered to Canada where his services were always in demand.

So greatly were his talents appreciated, and so esteemed was he by Sir John Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier that, it is said, he wrote the platforms for both political parties on one occasion. While we were most intimate for more than forty years he never admitted it to me, but what he didn’t tell of himself was monumental. No one except his wife and myself knew that he was the Honorable Edward Farrer, and that he was a nephew of Archbishop O’Donnell of Cork.

Many is the story he has told me of how he was the intermediary between the Archbishop and the chief of the Irish Constabulary in dealing with the Fenians when they were the disturbing element in Ireland. If the suspect was a pretty decent, harmless fellow the Archbishop would arrange for him to be freed and sent home; if he was a dangerous character and an undesirable, he would be shipped to America, with passage paid and sufficient money to give him a fair start in the new world.

How he himself happened to come to America is a queer story and has never before been told in print, for I promised not to tell it until he had passed away. While at college in Rome where he was studying for the priesthood, he, with a brother student, as remarkably clever as Ned, were taking a stroll the afternoon before the day of their ordination.

One asked the other: “Do you want to be a priest?” and both agreed they didn’t. Just then, a little breeze blew a piece of an Italian newspaper against Ned’s leg and picking it up he read an advertisement for two interpreters—English and Italian—applications to be made to the captain of a ship, then in port. They hastened to the vessel, but the captain seeing their student’s garb at first refused to engage them on the ground that the college authorities missing them would search and find them before they could get away. They, however, persuaded him that they could hide in the forecastle until the ship sailed, which they did. Shortly before the advertised time of departure, the captain saw the searching party heading for the ship, and, although the tide was unfavorable, immediately cast off ropes and started—landing the two young men in New York almost penniless.

They, however, quickly procured employment, and later Ned became one of the most powerful newspaper writers in Canada, sought after by prominent politicians of both parties. Besides Sir John and Sir Wilfrid, Sir Richard Cartwright was a close personal friend, and many members of the different cabinets sought his sound advice and pleasant company. At Washington, he had many friends in high political positions, Jas. G. Blaine, Senator Hoar and Congressman Hitt being amongst those most intimate with him.

Ned was a good cricketer in his earlier days, and later an enthusiastic baseball fan. He played in cricket matches in England against some noted players, and would travel long distances to see a league baseball game in Canada or the United States. And he dearly loved a game of cards—Black Jack or Catch the Ten, an old Irish game, being his special favorite. He used to wire me Saturday mornings to come up sure—the first one being that Clifford Sifton wanted to see me. When I reached his home in Ottawa that evening, I naturally asked what Sifton wanted to see me about. And he looked apparently amazed, and asked:

“What Sifton?”

“Why, the Minister of the Interior.”

“Never heard of him,” he replied.

“But,” I said, handing him his dispatch, “here’s your telegram.” He took it, scrutinized it carefully, and returning it casually remarked:

“Can’t you see that’s not my handwriting—it’s a forgery.”

And then we would play Black Jack until three or four in the morning and important visitors would be told that “Mr. Farrer was very busily engaged, and could not see them.” He was very busy—trying to beat me, which he usually did.

I couldn’t tell you all the rich stories about Ned Farrer, but one will suffice. The two of us with Mrs. Farrer were on a westbound C.P.R. train. Ned was an early riser, so I asked him to awaken me when he got up as I was very tired.

He and Mrs. Farrer were in lower 11 and I was in lower 7. After they had retired a young lady from Yale, B.C., whom I knew, entered the sleeper and after a few minutes’ conversation told me that she didn’t know where she was going to sleep that night. I told her that I did—in lower 7. She said that she had no berth secured, and I explained that lower 7 was her’s, although it had been mine but I had another. In the middle of the night Mrs. Farrer had occasion to visit the toilet, and on her return accidentally got into the berth of our Mr. Cambie, of Vancouver. Then trouble commenced. She told him to lie over, and he told her to get out of the berth. “Don’t be a fool, Ned, get over farther,” was followed by Mr. Cambie saying, “My name is not Ned.” Then came a half-suppressed shriek, and the flitting of a female form to lower 11. All this I enjoyed from the upper berth in which I was supposed to repose. In the morning, I heard Ned pattering down the aisle, and saw him pull aside the berth curtains and give the poor innocent occupant a well-directed slap in the proper part of her anatomy, accompanied by: “Get up, you old devil, you.”

I think I put nearly all of one of the pillows in my mouth to silence the laughter that was racking my body.

“George,” the porter, having been duly instructed, explained to the lady that a lunatic had escaped from the day coach, but had been recaptured and handcuffed—and the rest of the day I held Ned in awed subjection by threatening to point him out to the lady as the person who had committed the assault, and in dire fear, the well-known editor spent most of the day and part of the night in the baggage car, occasionally sending to the rear to find out if the female was still vengeful, or if she had got off the train, receiving emphatic assurances of “Yes” and “No” with the necessary verbal frills each time.

I breakfasted with the lady and then afterwards told E. F., who sat at the extreme end of the diner, that she had been informed that “the big florid-faced man at the end table was the guilty party” and that “she was laying for him” when he went into the sleeper. Which he did not do until I finally explained matters and then dove-like peace reigned once more.

One Good Friday night, while in Toronto, I got a wire from Mrs. Farrer to come to Ottawa at once for Ned was dying. I stayed with him to the end, and when he passed away, one of the brightest minds and one of the greatest journalists of his time was lost to the world.

Theatrical Recollections.

No visit to Toronto in my early days was complete unless you had an evening at the Royal or, to give it its full title, the Royal Lyceum, on the south side of King between Bay and York. This theatre was not the first to be built in the city. Its immediate predecessor, if I am rightly informed, was on the south side of King between Bay and Yonge. Here Denman Thompson, McKee Rankin, and Cool Burgess got their start. All became famous on the American stage. Cool, by the way, was one of the best of the earlier burnt cork artists, his Nicodemus Johnson being irresistibly funny. He began as a local song and dance performer, lending added humor to his terpsichorean efforts by reason of the length of his feet, which, it is hardly necessary to say, were artificially prolonged. Soon his fame spread throughout the States, and he is said to have literally coined money there.

Report has it that when brother workers adjourned from the theatre to blow in their earnings in liquid refreshments or card games, Cool went to his bed and his money went home. So that, in his advanced years, when the stage had lost its charm for him or vice versa, he was a well-to-do citizen of Toronto, enjoying a life of ease. Denman Thompson created “The Old Homestead,” from which he made a barrel of money. His play was the precursor of “Way Down East,” which is now playing to fine houses in a movie in New York.

The Royal was made famous by the Holmans who managed it and played in it for years. The family was highly talented and exceedingly well balanced from the point of view either of the drama or the opera. There were two girls, Sally and Julia, who sang like nightingales, and two brothers, Alf and Ben, also singers and actors of more than average ability. The former one was also a rattling snare-drummer. Mrs. Holman, the mother, was an accomplished pianist, and an all-round musician. At first the Holmans played the stock dramas with Sally as leading lady, and Alf as the heavy villain. But ultimately they went into opera and made a success of the venture. A night at the Royal certainly was a treat for the boys. The house was not at all gorgeous, nor was it outrageously clean. The mastication of tobacco, a popular method of enjoyment in those days, gave the floors, particularly in the gallery where the twenty-five centers assembled, a pattern and an odor not to be experienced in the modern theatres, where chewing gum is employed and indiscriminately parked. How the habits of the people have changed!


The three tallest buildings in the British Empire. The C.P.R. Building in the centre.

The beginning of the performance was heralded by the appearance of a “supe” who amidst cheers lighted with a taper the gas jets which provided the foot-lights. Then, Mrs. Holman, wearing a comfortable white woollen shawl, squeezed through the musicians’ trap door and made the piano lead the modest orchestra in the tunes appropriate to the occasion. Up went the green baize curtain a few minutes later, and the play was on. Applause for Sally and Julia was continuous and well-deserved. Hushed during the intermissions when the male section of the audience adjourned to the nearby bars for the purpose of acquiring fresh inspiration, it broke out with renewed vigor when the performance was resumed.

Old-timers will remember, too, that the celebrated bass singer, Crane, of Robson and Crane, made his début with the Holmans.

Fire brought the business of the Royal to a standstill and the Holmans gave summer performances, either in the pavilion of the Horticultural Gardens, or in a temporary structure on Front street, just west of the Queen’s. Since then the Royal has been rebuilt and burned again. After the second burning it stayed burned, and the business of catering to the public in a dramatic or operatic way passed to the Grand, which was managed for years by Mrs. Morrison, whose husband, Dan Morrison, had edited the Colonist. They had good bills at the Grand. Once when Sir Henry Irving was there it was given out that the distinguished tragedian required the assistance of a body of young men to play the part of soldiers in one of his Shakesperean plays. The boys volunteered by the hundred. They were going to see Sir Henry at close quarters and on the cheap. When the great night came they were assembled in the basement, uniformed, and provided with pikes—machine guns not having been invented at that period in which they were engaging in war.

After a long wait for Act 3, scene something or other, they were marched upstairs and hustled across the stage a few times, yelling as instructed. Then the door of the basement opened and they descended to disrobe and make for the street without once having cast eyes on Sir Henry, and without seeing a fragment of the play.

The contrast between the theatrical equipment of Toronto in my early days and now is really marvellous. Then there was one struggling theatre. Now there are three devoted to the legitimate, four given up to vaudeville, two to burlesque, fifteen huge picture houses, and a host of small moving picture places too numerous to count. The city certainly loves pleasure.

Bonifaces of the Old Days.

The Queen’s and the Rossin were the swagger hotels. The names of McGaw and Winnett are, and have been for years, intimately connected with the former, and the latter is now the Prince George. There were also the Albion, which John Holderness and James Crocker at different times managed; Lemon’s; Palmer’s; the American; the Walker; the Metropolitan, Revere and many others which were comfortable hostelries and also the Temperance Hotel on Bay street, which was not so comfortable nor so clean as those which had bars attached. Then there was the old Bay Horse and Cherry’s beyond the north end of the city—a popular road house.

Eddie Sullivan’s, Fred Mossop’s, the Merchants on Jordan street (first run by Jewell, then by Morgan and till its close by good old John Cochrane) were favorite places of public resort, not only for leading Torontonians, but for people from all parts of Canada. Eddie’s was at the corner of King street and Leader Lane, and has been demolished to be replaced by an annex to the King Edward. Fred’s was the Dog and Duck on Colborne street, and he afterwards ran the Mossop House on Yonge street, until the O.T.A. put him out of business. When these three disappeared it was a distinct loss to the eating public.

Then there was Carlisle & McConkey’s on King street with a huge terrapin shell on the sidewalk as an inviting sign. Other places were Eddie Clancy’s—he’s now running the Wellington Hotel at Guelph; Gus Thomas’ English Chop House; Sam Richardson’s at the corner of King and Spadina, diagonally opposite which was Joe Power’s Power House. When in Toronto in the early 90’s I used to go up to see Sam, and enjoy a good glass of ale, and it was there that a fine body of mechanics nightly gathered. They found pleasure in a glass of bitter, and didn’t argue or discuss revolutionary questions, as too many of them, deprived of their harmless tipple, do now. On Yonge street there were the Athletic, run by John Scholes, the champion boxer; the Trader by Douglas & Chambers; the St. Charles, which was managed by James O’Neil, until the O.T.A. came into force; and on King street was Headquarters run by the Purrse Bros. They all had their convivial patrons.

Of course, I do not pretend to remember all the places or all the changes that have taken place in the Queen City—no person could—but I have a vivid recollection of a ride on the upper deck of a horse-drawn street car; of the Great Western Railway Station at the foot of Yonge street, now converted into a fruit market; of the old St. Lawrence Market with its wonderful display of meats; of the lacrosse grounds, and of the Queen’s Park, where I first played lacrosse with the newly organized Whitby club against the old Ontarios in the early days of that great national game.

I also remember Capt. Kerr of the then wonderful steamboat, Maple Leaf, which was lost when going to New York during the civil war, having been purchased by the American Government, and I have not forgotten Capt. Bob Moodie, of the little Fire Fly, nor the old lake liners, Highlander, Banshee, and Passport, the fastest vessel on the lake, whose engines are still in active service.

In my frequent visits to Toronto nowadays I meet a lot of old friends, and many new ones, but I sadly miss Charlie Taylor, of the Globe; Bob Patterson, of Miller & Richard’s; Josh Johnston, of the Toronto Type Foundry; John Shields, the contractor; Davy Creighton, who was the first manager of the Empire, and Lou Kribbs, his right hand man; Charlie Ritchie, the lawyer, Moses Oates, who lived on Isabella street, and told me ghostly stories until my hair stood on end; ex-Ald. Crocker; Cliff Shears, of the Rossin; ex-Ald. Jack Leslie; Ned Clarke, Jack Ewan and Tom Gregg, the newspaper men; John Henry Beatty, who was a fast personal friend of Sir John Macdonald; Johnny Small, the collector of customs; John Maughan, father of Col. Walter Maughan of the C.P.R.; Lud Cameron, the King’s Printer; Ned Hanlan, Harry Hill, secretary of the Exhibition, Detective Murray and I really don’t know how many other princes of good fellows.

But I occasionally come across T. C. Irving of Bradstreet’s, who can tell two funny stories where there was only one before; Peter Ryan, who has retired into official life; Fred Nichols, then on the Globe, now a senator; Arthur Wallis, formerly of the Mail, now registrar of the Surrogate Court; the Blachfords, who played lacrosse in Winnipeg in the early days; M. J. Haney, the contractor, under whose direction the Crow’s-Nest Pass Ry. was built; Hartley Dewart, the leader of the Liberal party in the local legislature; the Bengoughs; Geo. H. Gooderham; Col. Noel Marshall; Acton Burrows; Col. Grasett, Chief of Police; Col. George T. Denison, the police magistrate, whose printed reminiscences make very interesting reading; Arthur Rutter, of Warwick Bros. & Rutter; William Littlejohn, the city clerk; and of course, His Worship Mayor Thomas Church, and a big bunch of other live and hospitable citizens.

No matter how large or how small, every city has something or other of which it is pardonably proud. Halifax has it harbor, its citadel and its Point Pleasant Park; St. John has its big fire, its high tides and Reversible Falls; Montreal, its splendid situation Mount Royal and its Royal Victoria Hospital; Ottawa, its Parliament Buildings and Chaudiere Falls; Vancouver, its Stanley Park; Quebec, its romantic history, its citadel, its Dufferin Terrace and its Chateau Frontenac; Moncton, its “bore”; Peterboro, its big Trent Canal lift lock—the biggest in the world; Kenora, its ten thousand islands; Lake Louise, in the Canadian Rockies, its enchanting beauty; Oshawa and Galt their manufactures; but Toronto’s great boast is that it possesses the biggest fair on the continent and the tallest building in the British Empire.



Scarlet and Gold—The Rough Riders of the Plains—The

Fourth Semi-Military Force in the

World—Its Wonderful Work in the

Park—Why the Scarlet Tunic

Was Chosen—Some Curious

Indian Names—Primitive



The famous Royal North West Mounted Police of Canada, whose record constitutes a strikingly romantic chapter in the history of Canada, was called into being in 1873 to preserve British law and order in the vast wildernesses lying between the Great Lakes and the mountain ranges of British Columbia. The newly-formed Dominion of Canada had but recently acquired these huge preserves from the Hudson’s Bay Company, subsequently to convert them from the Northwest Territories into the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

It was the duty of the little force, some 300 strong, known as the North West Mounted Police—destined to gain an imperishable name throughout the civilized world for its remarkable efficiency and valor—to administer the law and to represent supreme authority over this immense area of undeveloped Canadian territory. Intrepid pioneers were pushing their way into Western Canadian fastnesses hitherto unknown except to the aboriginal Indians, explorers, and agents of the Hudson’s Bay Company. As may be imagined, the R.N.W.M.P. had to exercise extraordinary discretion and courage in dealing with the free and easy forerunners of civilization and the fierce and untamed Indian tribes. Most of the people feared neither God nor man, and a man had to stand upon his own naked merit and strength of character.

Mere mention of the Mounted Police recalls scores of men whose names were for long and should be for ever household words in the west. For instance, there is Lieut.-Col. George A. French, R.A., the first Commissioner, who personally commanded the expedition of 1874, which opened up the southern section of the country and cleaned out the worst of the Yankee whiskey trading forts. Col. French was Inspector of Artillery and in command of A Battery, R.C.A., Kingston, when appointed to command the police—a soldier possessing a combination of dash and disregard of red-tape which proved very useful. After returning to the army, he served in Australia and reorganized the defensive forces of that country, retiring from the service as Sir George French.

Lieut.-Colonel James F. Macleod, C.M.G., who was Assistant Commissioner under Col. French, and succeeded him as Commissioner, became better known as a judge perhaps than as a police officer, as he administered justice in the West for many years. Fort Macleod was named after him. He had been an officer in the Ontario militia and was Assistant Brigade Major of Militia in the Red River Expedition of 1870, receiving the C.M.G., for his services. Col. Macleod was pre-eminently a practical administrator of justice.

The first year the police were in southern Alberta (1874-75), Col. Macleod acted as commanding officer of the police and stipendiary magistrate. His men were almost frozen in their beds for lack of proper clothing. A raid upon one of the more or less notorious Yankee traders’ “forts,” which had been doing a roaring trade in Indian horses at a rate of a gallon of rot-gut whiskey per head, produced a welcome supply of buffalo robes; and besides exacting from the illicit traders fines to the full extent of the law, Col. Macleod judiciously seized the robes, and issuing them to his men solved a problem which at one time threatened serious results.

The gallant officer’s influence over the Indians was very great, and resulted in Treaty No. 7 (1877) with the Blackfeet and Blood Indians. It is to be regretted that his services were not adequately appreciated by the Canadian Government, and his widow and children, who had faithfully shared in the hardships of his pioneer life, were never provided for. Governments are proverbially ungrateful.

Col. Irvine’s Services Against Riel.

Lieut.-Col. A. G. Irvine, who was Commissioner of the force during the Riel Rebellion of 1885, was also a Red River Expedition man, having gone out as second in command of the Quebec Rifles. He was Col. Macleod’s successor (1882) and possessed the same excellent qualities as his predecessor in dealing with the Indians at critical times, and was, like Col. Macleod, idolized by his men. When Sir Garnet Wolseley returned east a provisional battalion of militia was left in the Red River and Col. Irvine had command of it. When the Fenian filibusterer, O’Neil, made his raid across the Manitoba frontier, Col. Irvine had command of the expedition despatched to the frontier, but before the line was reached United States troops had solved the difficulty by the simple process of seizing O’Neil and his gang. Col. Irvine was a thorough gentleman, and those who knew him sympathized heartily with him when the impression somehow or other got abroad that his services had not been satisfactory during the Riel rebellion. Those who are in possession of the facts give the Colonel credit for splendid service to the country upon that occasion.

Previous to the outbreak he repeatedly drew the attention of those in authority to the trouble brewing, and when the outbreak occurred he showed great ability in conducting the march of his force of 100 policemen from Regina to Port Albert. With the temperature below zero, he covered 291 miles of prairie trail in seven days, and the half-breeds were preparing to intercept this force at Batoche when, to their amazement and disgust, they learned that Col. Irvine had discreetly made a détour, had crossed the Saskatchewan at Agnew’s Crossing, some distance down, and was within a few miles of Prince Albert. Armchair critics thought that Col. Irvine should not have remained in Prince Albert, but should have joined General Middleton. However, after the rebellion, Gabriel Dumont, while in the East, confided to me that had it not been for Col. Irvine’s force in Prince Albert and the patrols he kept out, the rebels would have attacked the unguarded supply posts and wagons in the rear of Gen. Middleton’s column, which would have forced that officer to halt or retire, for he had never more than two or three days’ rations with him at the front. The half breeds were afraid to leave their camp and women at Batoche open to attack by Col. Irvine for an adventure in rear of Gen. Middleton’s force.

Commissioner Lawrence Herchmer who was a very efficient head of the forces had served as subaltern in the British Army and had later acted as commissariat officer on the staff of the International Boundary Commission. I was in the Ottawa press gallery and on the day of his appointment received a wire from a friend in Chicago announcing the fact. I rushed over to Fred White, then Comptroller of the force, and showed him the message. He was astounded that the news should have come from Chicago for, he told me, “the appointment was made only ten minutes ago.” I asked if it wasn’t William who had been appointed, but he said: “No, it’s Lawrence.”

A. Bowen Perry, the present Commissioner, was one of the first class of students at the Royal Military College, winning a commission in the Royal Engineers on graduation, but serving only a few years in the Army. He came to the front in the Riel rebellion under General Strange. He had a nine-pounder gun in his charge and risked his life to save it when crossing the Red Deer River. There being no other means of crossing Major Perry decided to make a raft to carry his gun and equipment over. Owing to the extemporized moorings breaking, the raft, with gun and ammunition on it, ran away and was drifting down the swift current when Major Perry managed to get the end of a rope fast to an overhanging tree and it held. Owing to the peculiar position of raft, rope, tree and current had the rope parted again, Major Perry must have been crushed to death or drowned. He took the risk and won.

Assistant Commissioner C. Starnes, who is a nephew of the late Hon. Harry Starnes, of Montreal, joined the force in ’86, having previously been adjutant of the 65th Montreal Battalion of Montreal, his native city, during the rebellion of ’85. He served in different parts of the Northwest and on Hudson Bay, and was in the Yukon during the winter of 1897-8 and, relieving Supt. Constantine at Dawson until the arrival of Supt. Sam Steele. He was loaned to the militia during the war, and did excellent service in Quebec. His promotion came in December, 1919, and he is now second in command at Ottawa.

Superintendent G. E. Saunders was one of several officers of the force who splendidly showed by their records that officers who wear monocles and bestow careful attention upon personal appearance are none the less good men, and efficient, confidence-inspiring officers. Severely wounded in South Africa, he again saw service in the Great War and rendered a splendid account of himself. He was perhaps one of the handsomest officers in a force which was largely composed of good-looking men.

I recall a number of former officers of the force whom it was a treat to look upon—Assistant Commissioner J. H. McIlree, as plucky and as courteous as he was good-looking; Superintendent Frank Norman, alert, eagle-eyed and active; Superintendent R. B. Deane, one of the fine old school of officers, formerly of the Royal Marines; Superintendent J. D. Moodie, who was the first Mounted Policeman to command a deep sea naval expedition, namely that to Hudson Bay; Col. Walker, of Calgary, is still in the flesh, and like his namesake, Johnny Walker, still going strong.

Inspector W. D. Jarvis was another of the original officers of the force, he having gone out as Inspector in command of A Division and having had charge of the column which proceeded via Qu’Appelle, Touchwood, Batoche, Carlton and Pitt to Edmonton while Col. French and Col. Macleod were marching through Southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. Inspector Jarvis was much beloved in the force. It will be interesting to many friends and admirers of the late Sir Sam Steele to know that Inspector Jarvis was largely instrumental in securing a commission for that gallant officer. Sir Sam, who had been a non-commissioned officer in A Battery under Col. French, was sergeant-major of A Division of the Police on Jarvis’s march to Edmonton in 1874. Forage and rations gave out and rotten weather was experienced. It was then that Sam Steele’s pluck and energy showed up and Inspector Jarvis in his official report spoke very highly of his services, especially mentioning that he had done manual labor of at least two men. Sir Sam’s services at turbulent railhead camps during the construction of the C.P.R. through the mountains, at Loon Lake and Frenchman’s Butte in 1885, in the Yukon in the gold rush days, in South Africa while commanding Lord Strathcona’s Horse, and in England during the recent war, are too well known, or should be, to require reference to them here.

Superintendent A. R. Macdonnell was one of the old-timers who knew how to handle the noble red man and the half-breed. Upon one occasion in 1885, he set out with three or four men to get eight Indian horse thieves, and located them in a camp of 45 lodges near Wood Mountain. The chief man in the camp presuming to make threats, Supt. Macdonnell simply covered him with his revolver, ordered the thieves to be produced, triumphantly took them and the stolen horses out of the camp, and on returning to headquarters tried the prisoners and sentenced them. Superintendent Macdonnell was commonly known as “Old Paper Collar,” a name bestowed upon him for his alleged partiality to that very practical and at one time economical article of attire.

Treating With Sitting Bull.

Among the giants of those days Major James M. (“Bob”) Walsh was noted as one of outstanding courage and wisdom in dealing with white men or Indians. His word was law and he never broke his word. His cool fearlessness and his integrity gained for him the absolute confidence and the high regard of the Indian chiefs throughout the Northwest Territories, and this enviable esteem stood him in good stead upon the memorable occasion of his dealing with the great Sioux chief, Sitting Bull, following the Custer massacre in 1876. Gold had been discovered in the U.S. territory allotted to the Indians. Prospectors and miners had invaded the Indians’ hunting-grounds with the result that trouble ensued between the white men and the Indians. Sitting Bull and his braves finally came into conflict with the U.S. authorities, and Gen. Custer and his men were exterminated at the battle of the Little Big Horn River in Montana in June, 1876.

After the battle Sitting Bull and many of his warriors fled northward and entered Canada near Fort Walsh, a police post founded by Major Walsh in 1874 among the Cypress Hills. Sitting Bull was pursued by a party of U.S. troopers, who, incensed by the Custer disaster, were disposed to follow him into British territory and wreck vengeance upon the Sioux chief.

But Sitting Bull claimed sanctuary under the British flag, and it was at this critical juncture that Major Walsh’s courage, sagacity and sound judgment prevented an awkward and dangerous international situation. Major Walsh, under the instructions of Col. Macleod and Col. Irvine, had naturally kept himself closely and accurately informed concerning the warfare between Sitting Bull and the U.S. authorities, and was aware not only of the Custer massacre but also of Sitting Bull’s flight toward Canada. He was promptly on hand when the Sioux chief and his band of warriors crossed the boundary line, and warned the pursuing U.S. forces not to invade Canadian territory or the N.W.M.P. would be compelled to deal vigorously with the situation. Major Walsh was widely known personally and by repute on both sides of the boundary by white men and Indians, by the civil and military authorities. The U.S. troops halted at the border.

Major Walsh, accompanied by one of his sergeants, rode into the camp of Sitting Bull to ascertain his intentions and discuss the situation. The Sioux chief and his men were in a dangerous mood after the Custer engagement and their harsh treatment by the United States, and were ready to fight to the last man if need be. They did not know if Major Walsh came as friend or foe, and he certainly took his life in his hand when he rode into Sitting Bull’s camp. But the Major told Sitting Bull that he and his people might remain in Canada so long as they obeyed the laws and created no disturbance, as indeed they did remain, more or less happily, for the rest of their days.

Sitting Bull maintained an intense hatred for the United States which he claimed had persecuted him infamously and had callously violated its treaties with him repeatedly. But he became a firm friend and ardent admirer of Major Walsh, and in after years it was the Major who arranged and presided over interviews between Sitting Bull and sundry American journalists and politicians. John J. Finnerty, one time war correspondent of the Chicago Times, has given a graphic description of such a meeting, and the Major in his scarlet uniform is a conspicuous figure in the group.

Another characteristic incident occurred in 1877 when bands of the Saulteaux and Assiniboine Indians became involved in a tribal fight near Fort Walsh. Major Walsh and a handful of policemen rode into the Cypress Hills direct to the headquarters of the warring tribes—many hundreds of them—arrested the ring-leaders, told them he intended to take them to Fort Walsh to be tried by the law of their Mother, the Great White Queen, and at once brought about peace and quietness among the fierce and reckless warriors. Those who know the character of the Indians there in those days appreciate the risk run by Major Walsh and his few policemen.

Major Walsh had various titles among the Indian tribes of the great West. By some he was known as “Wahonkeza,” meaning “Long Lance”, while the Piegans called him “The White Chief of the Assiniboines.” The Assiniboines called him “The-one-that-ties” from the fact that on his first official visit to the Piegans he shackled four of the wrong-doers with great promptness. He negotiated the cession of Assiniboia by the Indian chiefs to the Canadian Government.

Major Walsh and the late Dr. G. W. Beers, of Montreal, were often classed together as fathers of modern lacrosse in Canada.

Assistant Commissioner W. H. Herchmer was dearly beloved in the force as a dare-devil and there was considerable expression of surprise in some quarters when his brother, Lawrence Herchmer, was made Commissioner in 1886, instead of him. “Old Bill” Herchmer, as he was known, came into public notice first as commanding officer of Lord Lorne’s escort on his western tour, and again attracted attention as Chief of Staff to Colonel Otter during the 1885 campaign. He commanded for many years at Calgary, where his sadly tragic death was deeply regretted.

Inspector G. A. Brisbois was known in the force as the founder of Calgary. He commanded B Division under Col. French and was sent up to the forks of the Bow and Elbow to watch some trading posts established near there. He had rough barracks built, which were the first permanent buildings on the site of the present city. Inspector Brisbois dated his first official report in 1875 from “Fort Brisbois,” and for some time the barracks were so designated. Popularly Calgary was known by a variety of names as “The Mouth,” “Elbow River,” “The Junction,” etc. Confusion resulting, Colonel Macleod was deputed by Sir John Macdonald to confer a name on the post and he called it by the name of his paternal home in Scotland, “Calgarry,” which is Gaelic for “Clear Running Water.” The spelling reformer has since been busy, and so we now have the name with the single “r.”

Of course, there are many others of the former officers and men of the force one could and would like to write about did space permit—men like Supt. Griesbach, the first to join the ranks as a buck policeman, and whose son is now representative of Edmonton in the Dominion parliament; Lawrence Fortesque, C.M.G., I.S.O., who enlisted as a buck policeman and rose to the comptrollership of the force—he is now retired and living in England, but he pays occasional visits to Canada and I had the pleasure of renewing old acquaintance with him the other day in Ottawa; Major Winder; Jacob Carvell; Dalrymple Clarke, a nephew of Sir John Macdonald; Supt. Shortcliffe; Capt. Jack French, who was shot at Batoche in ’85, while attacking a Metis stronghold, and whose posthumous son is an officer of the force and won the I.S.O. for service in the arctic regions; Dr. Kittson, the original surgeon, a member of Commodore Kittson’s family; Dr. G. H. Kennedy, from Dundas, Ont., who succeeded Dr. Kittson; Dr. Dodds; Dr. Jukes, who was possessed of a remarkable memory, and had high literary tastes; Veterinary Surgeon Burnett, who has been 34 years with the force and is a horseman with very few equals anywhere; Supt. Gagnon, 27 years in the force, who married Hon. Joseph Royal’s daughter, who received the surrender of Big Bear and distinguished himself overseas; Supt. L. N. F. Crozier, who commanded at the action at Duck Lake in 1885, and whose reports to the Government previous to the rebellion, if acted upon, might have prevented any uprising; Inspector Joe Howe, the nephew of the great Nova Scotia statesman, who was wounded at Duck Lake and later rendered distinguished service in South Africa; Assistant Commissioner “Zack” Wood, who was an officer in the 90th in 1885, did great service in the Yukon, and is now stationed in the arctic regions; Charlie Constantine; Wroughton; Belcher; Shortcliffe, Morris, who commanded the post at Battleford during the Riel trouble; Routledge; Supt. Alfred Dickens, son of the distinguished Loyalist, who held Fort Pitt to the last and then escaped the Indians by rafting down the river; Strickland; poor Chalmers, who died a hero’s death while trying to save the life of his comrade Saunders in South Africa; Jack Cotton; Inspector Jack Allen, who figured in the final incident of the “Almighty Voice” tragedy in May, 1897, was a born fighter, and has seen service since the early sixties—at Windsor (Ont.) border, during the Civil War, and during the Fenian raid in ’66, and was through the South African war and did great service in Great Britain during the recent Great War; Supt. Cecil R. Denny, of a distinguished Irish family; Col. Osborne Smith, after whom Fort Osborne in Winnipeg was named, and who was temporary commissioner of the force for a brief period in 1873, Major Charles F. Young, a British officer who fought in the Maori war in New Zealand, and is now police magistrate in Prince Albert, (a man of convivial habits, but with a stern sense of duty—a sort of kind-hearted official who would shed tears when illicit liquor was destroyed at his command); Asst. Commissioner John A. McGibbon, from Montreal; J. O. Wilson, of Dundas, Ont., who did excellent service in the Riel rebellion; Inspector Cuthbert, whose father was one of the seigneurs of the province of Quebec; Supt. Snider from Peterborough, who made a high reputation in different parts of the country; Supt. Primrose, from Pictou, N.S., who is now a police magistrate at Edmonton; Supt. Moffat, of Toronto; Inspector Antrobus; Charlie Wood, who rose from a buck policeman to be editor of the Macleod Gazette, and is now a judge in Saskatchewan; Supt. E. W. Jarvis, who later was a member of the lumber firm of Macauley & Jarvis in Winnipeg, and commanded the Winnipeg Field Battery during the Riel Rebellion; Victor Williams, who won honor and fame during the late world war and was a worthy son of a distinguished father, Col. Williams of Port Hope, Ont., who died at the front in ’85; Asst. Commissioner Routledge, of Sydney, C.B., who died in 1919; Inspector Ed. Allen—and others whose names are deserving of recognition in the scroll of fame, but memory fails me, I regret. But some day when a full and complete history of the force is written, they will not be forgotten.



One name, however, will be emblazoned in bright letters—that of Col. Fred White, for years comptroller of the force, to whom is due the gratitude of not only the members of the force, but of the people of the Dominion and the Empire for his eminent services.

To tell a tithe of the heroic deeds performed by the Old Rough Riders, of their daring adventures, of their courage and fearlessness under any, and all circumstances, no matter how hazardous, would fill a huge volume. The taking of a culprit from a hostile camp of 500 or 1,000 warriors by one or two buck policemen, the bringing of murderers and violent lunatics a thousand miles through pathless regions, in the depths of winter, evidenced the long arm and the strong arm of British law, and gave the force a glory that can never fade.

The Why of the Scarlet Tunic.

The adoption of the scarlet tunic for the Mounted Police was an inspiration, and knowing something of the denseness of the official mind, I often wondered why such a really sensible thing had been done by officialdom in selecting a uniform for the Mounted Police. It appears that in 1872 the government sent Colonel Robertson Ross, commanding the militia, to reconnoitre the far west, and he made the trip overland from Winnipeg to the Pacific. In his report, which recommended the organization of a mounted force to open up the western country, he explained that prejudice existed among the Indians against the color of the dark green uniform worn by the men of Irvine’s provisional (rifle) battalion at Fort Garry.

Many of them had asked: “Who are those soldiers at Red River wearing dark clothes? Our brothers who lived there many years ago (belonging to a wing of H.M. Sixth Regt. of Foot sent to Red River in 1846) wore red coats, and we know that the old king’s soldiers who fought against the Yankees wore red coats and that the soldiers of our Great White Mother wear red coats now. The soldiers who wear red coats are friends of the Indians, and if the men in Red River wore red coats we would know that they are the Great White Mother’s warriors, and we would not be suspicious of them.” Sir John Macdonald appreciated the force of this argument and ordered that the color for the Mounted Police tunic be scarlet instead of rifle green as at one time proposed.

By the way, the term “fort” as used in the far west at this time was found to be very much of a misnomer. Any kind of an old log hut which a trader made his headquarters was dignified by the designation of “Fort.” These forts were usually named after the trader who built them—Fort Kipp, Fort Hamilton, etc. Forts “Whoop Up” and “Stand Off” were in their day central depots or warehouses for several smaller posts and travelling “outfits,” and “Whoop Up” was in comparison with most of the others a real fort with bastions and defensible barricades.

In 1886, when out for the Toronto Mail to enquire into an expected Indian rising, I wrote an article favoring the use of barbed wire around the alleged forts as a means of entanglement for the Redskin enemy, and a great many people looked upon it as a weak sort of joke. The great part barbed wire played in the recent war showed that the Mounted Policemen and pioneers who had suggested the idea to me thirty-four years ago knew what they were talking about.

I do not think it is generally known now that the late Henri Julien, probably the most brilliant newspaper artist ever produced in Canada, accompanied French’s expedition into the West, attached to the staff. Julien’s sketches appeared in the Canadian Illustrated News and did much to draw attention to the then unknown West. He did more than sketch, for in the Commissioner’s diary of September 3, 1874, which I had the privilege to look over the other day, appears the following: “Julien ran a buffalo and killed him. I came in for the finish and had the beast cut up and brought in on an ox cart. I had the meat placed in one of the water barrels and well salted.”

For many years the North West Mounted Police were under the administration of Sir John Macdonald, in his capacity as President of the Privy Council. An instance of the ready wit of the “old man” came under my observation in my early days in the Press Gallery. The Mounted Police estimates were under consideration in Committee of Supply. Sir Richard Cartwright, who was following the proceedings, had spotted a suspicious-looking item in the annual report of the Mounted Police, and thought he saw an opportunity of badgering Sir John. “I note in the report of the officer commanding the detachment at Macleod,” said Sir Richard in his most pompous manner, “an extraordinary statement regarding the disappearance of stores. Will the right hon. gentleman deign to inform the House how he accounts for this extraordinary paragraph, ‘2,000 bushels of oats, 10 kegs of nails—eaten by rats.’ ” The old man rose with a smile on his countenance, and quickly replied, “The explanation which I have to offer to my honourable friend, for what he considers an extraordinary circumstance, is a very simple and reasonable one. The rats, having gorged themselves upon the 2,000 bushels of oats, evidently felt that they were in need of an iron tonic.” The committee burst into a roar of laughter, in which Sir Richard himself heartily joined.

To-day, as in the early ’70’s and ever since, those of us who know the valorous deeds of the Rough Riders of the Plains will ever take off our hats to one of the greatest semi-military forces the world has ever seen.

Western Justice As It Was.

In the days of the Cariboo gold rush sixty thousand miners, adventurers and all the riff-raff that follow in the wake of a great mining excitement, filled the Cariboo country in Central British Columbia. The C.P.R. had not been built in those days, and the Argonauts crowded in overland through the Yellowhead Pass and down the Fraser to Quesnel, or from Victoria to Yale by steamer, thence on foot, horseback, stage or any other way up the Cariboo Road.

Barkerville became a larger city than Victoria, the seat of government, 500 miles away. Yet with all this rabble of people, rough character and law-abiding men drawn from every quarter of the globe, Cariboo was maintained as an orderly, safe district through the efforts of one man, Sir Mathew Begbie, who was judge and various other officials all in one. He administered justice with a ready and iron hand, and put fear into the hearts of those of lawless tendencies. On one occasion he had convicted and fined a malefactor $200.

“That’s dead easy,” flippantly said the culprit, “I’ve got it right here in my hip pocket.”

“—and six months in jail. Have you got that in your hip pocket, too?” came the ready amendment to the sentence, thus vindicating the dignity of the court and proclaiming to all and sundry that a British court of justice, even though held under a pine tree, was not to be trifled with.

This story has been told and retold, credited to magistrates and judges mostly in the southern States, but it really happened in Sir Mathew Begbie’s court in Cariboo in the early seventies. At least one man is living to-day who was present on the occasion and that is my old friend, Colonel Robert Stevenson, the pioneer prospector, of Similkameen, B.C.

Another characteristic incident is told of the Judge. A sandbagger, who was haled before him for assault and battery and against whom the evidence was pretty clear, was found “not guilty” by the jury—to the Judge’s utter disgust. In disposing of the case, he said to the prisoner:

“You are guilty, and I know you are guilty, but this precious jury has decided that you are not. You are free—free to go out and sandbag every blessed juryman that has let you off. Now go!”

Another story illustrating Judge Begbie’s ready resourcefulness and sense of justice, combined with a contempt for precedent, was a case where two partners in the ownership of a mining claim quarreled and then had a dispute over the division of their ground. After listening to a lot of tall swearing and contradictory evidence, Judge Begbie stopped the trial and turning to the litigants said:

“You, Jones and Brown”—that wasn’t their names but nobody remembers now who they were—“are agreed that you want to divide this ground?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But you can’t agree on how the lines are to be run.”

“No, sir—” but they got no further.

“Very well, Jones, you go out to the ground and run a line dividing it the way you think it should be divided.”

“Yes, sir,” responded the exultant Jones.

“And, Brown.”

“Yes, sir.”

“To-morrow you go out and take your choice of the two halves as Jones divides it.”

Probably not since the days of Solomon has a legal dispute been more equitably or effectually settled than was that by Judge Begbie—an Englishman just out from the Old Country, in a wild frontier mining camp.

Judge Rouleau held court at widely-scattered points throughout the Northwest Territory and he was noted for the rough and ready, but shrewdly-just, quality of his decisions. On one occasion a half-breed, Louis Frechette, was charged before Judge Rouleau and a jury with the theft of a mule. The evidence was not very convincing—hardly sufficient for a Carolina mob to hang a nigger on—but the jury evidently believed somebody ought to be convicted of stealing the mule. There was no doubt the mule had been stolen. That was the only point that there was no doubt about. However, the jury brought in a verdict of “guilty” much to the chagrin of the judge, who thereupon was bound to sentence the accused which he did as follows:

“Louis, stan’ up. Louis, you have been convict’ of steal de mule. I sentence you to ‘tree mont’ in the polis Barracks at Regina. An’ Louis, d—— you, if I t’ink you guilt’ of steal dat mule I would give you t’ree year.”

Thus did the good judge vindicate the law and at the same time express his contempt for the jury’s verdict.

Another time when a half-breed was up for some offence or other, the evidence was very conflicting and barely warranted a conviction, if that. But he was found guilty and the judge, addressing the prisoner, said:

“Boy, I am not altogether sure you are guilt’, an’ so I will be lenient wit’ you. I sen’ you to de penitent’ for five years.” Goodness only knows what penalty would have been inflicted upon the unfortunate culprit if the judge had been absolutely sure of the prisoner’s guilt. But the judge was not so far wrong, after all—he sentenced the disreputable man on general principles, that if he wasn’t guilty of this particular crime, his everyday, dissolute, good-for-nothing life would be all the better for a little enforced retirement, and the countryside would also materially benefit by it.

Passing Death Sentence on a Nuisance.

In another case of Western justice, I myself was the presiding magistrate in the Winnipeg police court, owing to the unavoidable absence of Colonel Peebles, the regular distributor of justice. A worthless drunken pirate, who had the championship for being the best all-round nuisance in whatever locality he happened to be, was brought up charged with being drunk and disorderly. The evidence was clear, and I felt that full justice should be sternly administered. So I put on my black Derby hat, and ordered the prisoner to stand up.

“George,” I said with dignity and solemnity, “you have been found guilty of being a general trouble provider and a universal nuisance. The sentence of this court is that you be taken from the place from whence you came, immediately after breakfast next Friday morning, and be hanged by the neck until you are sure enough dead, and may the good Lord have mercy on your alleged Protestant soul.”

George stood aghast, but just then the good old Colonel came in, and intimated to me that I couldn’t hang a man for being drunk, even if he was a confounded nuisance.

“I can’t, eh? What on earth am I here for, tell me that, Colonel Peebles?”

Chief Murray and other court officials corroborated the Colonel’s statement and, as I am always willing to oblige, I immediately relented and ordered the prisoner to still stand and also to stand still.

“George, some warm if misguided friends have intervened in your miserable behalf, and have pleaded with me to be merciful. I shall—instead of sentencing you to the gallows, where you should go—I shall banish you off the face of the earth. Now get!”

And George did, but before he got very far he came over to St. Boniface, where I had an office, and borrowed $6.00 from me to take him to Pembina, which is just across the international boundary and outside the jurisdiction of the Winnipeg courts. I warmly congratulate myself that that was the only time I ever “committed a nuisance.”

Grand Old John Kirkup.

In the early days of railway construction in British Columbia, John Kirkup was greatly in evidence in the cause of public peace and order. He was generally at the end of the line where the toughs congregated. John was a big husky fellow, strong as an ox, tender as a child, and wore a very pleasant, smiling countenance. He was a police force all by himself and a terror to law-breakers. One night while a couple of C.P.R. civil engineers were playing billiards in one of the camps, three toughs from across the boundary came in and began rolling the billiard balls around. John was on hand, and quietly advised the interlopers to desist. When they wanted to know what business it was of his, he coolly told them that if they continued annoying the players he would have to arrest them. They laughed sardonically and spread themselves in a triangular position to lick him. Before they knew it, every mother’s son of them was on the floor. John, with lightning rapidity, had effectively stunned the trio with his baton, and before they recovered from their surprise, he had them handcuffed and kicked them all the way to the skookum house, where they did time in a chain gang for a month.

Another time, in the early ’90’s, John and I were strolling down the main street of Rossland when we came across two tramps who were engaged in a violent vocabulary duel. After listening a moment to their unparliamentary language, boisterously addressed to each other, John interfered:

“Hear, you fellows, follow me.”

He led them to a quiet vacant lot, a block or so away.

“Now, strip off your coats and go to it, and be mighty quick about it, too.”

They did, and it was one of the finest bits of hit, bite and kick and catch-as-catch-can that I ever beheld. When they were nearly exhausted, John tapped them on the soles of their boots, and pulled them apart.

“Now,” he said, “hit the trail, both of you, and if I catch you again, I’ll—”

But they didn’t wait to hear what John would do. They were off for the great United States and they stood not upon the order of their going.

John Kirkup was one of the outstanding figures in the early days of British Columbia, and while he was rewarded for his admirable services by the appointment to a gold commissionership, his great reward for the good he had done on earth awaited him in the Great Beyond.

A Lethbridge Pirate.

Strange to relate, a man at Lethbridge stole a row-boat which was tied up to the shore of the lake which is just south of that enterprising town. He was arrested, and brought before a local justice of the peace, who decided that according to high authority, as set forth in the legal tomes dealing with such cases, it was a case of piracy—and naturally so, to feloniously steal a vessel off the high seas. There was nothing to do, according to the code, but to sentence the offender to death. The J.P. was a tender-hearted man, and deferred sentence until he had consulted with higher legal authority, which he did, and the culprit fortunately escaped the gallows.

The Mounted Police To-Day.

The force to-day is 1,800 strong, six times its original strength, and its operations are extended all over the Dominion. Amongst the newly-recruited force, like the first command, are a large number of the brightest and bravest of young Britishers, many of whom are sons of distinguished families, and they are maintaining the enviable high prestige that the force has gained since its organization nearly half a century ago.



In the Hospital—Averting a Shock—A Substantial

Breakfast—A Gloomy Afternoon—Down in

Washington—The Gridiron Dinners—A

Spanish-American War Panic—A

Few Stories—Canadian


Ever been a patient in a hospital? No? Well, I’ve been in them six times—and not always a patient. Sometimes I was an impatient. For a person really ill or injured the hospital is the proper place. My first experience in one was at the Montreal Western Hospital in 1905. I had just arrived from the Pacific Coast by way of St. Paul and Toronto, suffering most intense pain, but utterly oblivious of the cause of the trouble. At Glenwood Lake in Dakota we—I was with a party of United States newspaper men from Washington, D.C.—stopped for a sail on that beautiful water. The craft was a gasoline motor and the boat round and about the engine was saturated with gasoline. The combined captain, pilot and crew was an inveterate cigarette fiend, and the way he lit his “coffin nails” and unconcernedly threw the still-burning matches on the deck was a holy fright. I said to Jerry Jermayne, of the Seattle Times, who sat beside me, as I pointed to the overcast sky, “I wonder, Jerry, what’s beyond those clouds?” “Why do you ask?” he inquired. Racked with pain my rejoinder came, “Well, if that fellow keeps on throwing those lighted matches on this tinder wood, we’ll be going up there—if we don’t go the other way!”

But nothing happened, and after a couple of days and nights of agonizing pain, we reached Toronto, where good-by and God-speed were wished to our American friends. Next morning I was home and still unaware of what painfully ailed me. I sent for Dr. England, who hurriedly called in consultation Dr. Jim Bell, as good an authority on the human anatomy as ever lived. Naturally, I watched their faces as they returned from the consultation after having examined me, and I saw from their drawn facial expression that trouble loomed ahead. They told me I had appendicitis and that an operation to remove the appendix was absolutely and immediately necessary. My father had died of appendicitis—only it wasn’t known by that name then, but as inflammation of the bowels—and my eldest son, Van, succumbed to an operation, and I said to myself, “Three times and out.” But out loud I mentioned to the doctors: “Well, if you have to take out my appendix, go on and do your worst, but for goodness sake, leave me my preface and table of contents.”

Shortly after, the operation, which was a serious one, was performed. I will never forget the awful darkness that overshadowed me as the opiate took effect. My last thought was: “This is eternity.” When I recovered from the effects of the opiate, I found myself in a darkened room and wondered where I was and what it was all about. The kindly-featured nurse quickly discovered that my consciousness had returned, and came to my bedside, and then I remembered everything. “But why this dark room. It was early morning when they operated on me, but now it can’t be night.”

“No, it isn’t,” she seriously responded, “but we were afraid of the shock you might get.”

“Why, what shock?”

“Well, there was a big fire just across the street and we were afraid if you awoke, and saw the flames, you might think that the operation hadn’t been successful.”

That shows you what it is to have a reputation.

A Really “Substantial” Breakfast.

Two years later I was in the hospital again for an operation for hernia, and an incision was made in the same place as the previous one. The morning of the operation, I arose early and hobbled down stairs for a bath, to do which I had to pass the bedroom door of the matron—the sister of a high-titled Canadian now in London. You know, or perhaps you don’t know, that just previous to an operation, the patient is given no more food than would keep a sparrow from starving. But, like a son of Belial, I rapped thunderingly at the matron’s door, and she hopped out of bed and rushed to answer the apparently important summons. When she saw me she anxiously wanted to know what was the matter.

“The matter—well, I want to tell you that you keep a mighty punk boarding-house. My breakfast—”

“What,” she exclaimed in holy horror, “did they give you a breakfast this morning?”

“Of course they did.”

“And what did they give you?”

“Oh,” I said nonchalantly, “I had a shave, and bath, a glass of water, and a copy of this morning’s Gazette.”

When next the matron saw me I was languidly smoking a cigarette and dangling my legs on the operating table. And the look she gave me was as sharp as the doctor’s knife. In a week’s time, I was taken home in an ambulance and several cart drivers, out of morbid curiosity, jumped off their vehicles and on to mine, but when the third one impudently glared at me, I yelled out “smallpox” and, they all instantly skedaddled. One fellow, thank goodness, bruised his epidermis.

An Afternoon of Gloom.

The next time the hospital wards housed me was out in Vancouver, where I had acquired a pretty badly smashed knee while witnessing a lacrosse match at New Westminster where that club played the Shamrocks of Montreal. Thanksgiving Day came round about a week after, and it was a dour, gloomy day, and my game leg ached worse than ever. After a very light lunch, Denah O’Connor, my pretty Irish nurse, quietly informed me that I was to have no evening meal. I thought that dreary afternoon would never come to an end, and conjured up all sorts of things. Would they cut off my leg above the knee, or below the thigh, and would not it be better and save a lot of bother if they knifed me around the neck. Five-thirty came—six o’clock—six-thirty—seven and no visible signs of even tea and toast. I was sure then what was coming and when I heard a bustling outside I said to myself, “There come my executioners, and they’re bringing the undertakers with them just to save time.” * * * * These asterisks, kind reader, represent my unprintable thoughts. And then the door opened and in came two Japanese boys with a huge hamper sent to me by the people of the Vancouver hotel. The hamper contained everything from soup to nuts, and there was enough to feed a dozen people. The nurses and some other patients were called in, the banqueting board was spread, the aching pains thoughtfully diminished, and we had a whale of a time. I was out of the hospital three days later.

Down in Pictou, Nova Scotia, I was laid up with a very serious attack of rheumatism, and my attending physician was Dr. McMillan, a brother of Duncan McMillan, then M.P. for Meddlesex, Ontario, whom I knew very well. After the third daily visit, the doctor came two or three times a day, and I anxiously asked him one day if I was so seriously ill that such frequent visits were necessary. “Not at all, old man, not at all. But I like to hear you talk of the doings at Ottawa and of my brother Duncan. You’ll be out in a couple of days.”

Thus doubt and uncertainty and anxiety were quickly dispelled.

To be “Queen of the May”

Out in the Winnipeg hospital, where I had an attack of pneumonia for a change, another patient was enjoying the weird pleasures that only delirium tremens can furnish the devotees of Bacchus. He would insist on visiting me, and quickly ascertaining that the arm of a big chair was loose, always grabbed it, and the way he slashed it around was a caution. I had plenty of exercise dodging that chair-arm without leaving my bed. Of course, he wouldn’t have hit me for the world, but people with the D. T.’s have a largely distorted vision, and I didn’t know exactly at what juncture he would mistake my pillow for a whale or myself for a fiery dragon. He compromised when the matron came in, and led him out by the ear, notwithstanding his incessant pleading that he owned the hospital, and that I was to be Queen of the May. So you see, even illness has its compensating advantages.

Of course other accidents happened to me and there was no hospital to give treatment. A broken foot in a football game, a broken finger at cricket, and a couple of broken ribs in a bath-tub were amongst them. The latter occurred on a fine Sunday morning when I was getting ready to go to the train to meet Miss Agnes Laut, the well-known Canadian writer, who was then living in New York. A piece of soap—now I know why so many hate soap—and kerflump I went against the side of the porcelain tub. It pained a good deal, but I didn’t know the full meaning of my mishap until evening when the doctor came and telling me I had two broken ribs, proceeded to put that part of my body in plaster. Just then I remembered an appointment made with Brent Macnab for next day, and sent a note that I had been laid up with a couple of broken ribs and informing him that: “While it’s not as bad a smash as that of the Ville Marie bank, I was in plaster and never felt so stuck up in my life.” Which made Brent snicker.

Down in Washington

Washington, the capital of the great United States, is one of the finest cities in the Union. It is well laid out, has fine residential and business sections, and the Capitol itself occupies a commanding position. The city is the great political centre of the Republic and a swell social centre as well. It is a pleasant place to visit, especially if one has lots of friends like I have—the boys of the press gallery and some who are just ordinary, and a few who are not ordinary statesmen. Before the Civil war, it was an almost entirely southern city—but of course it is not now.

Under the big dome of the Capitol is a rotunda on whose walls are pictured historic scenes. One is of Pocahontas, where one of the figures has six fingers on the one hand, and in another work of art two girls are painted, and I’ll be hanged if one of them hasn’t got three arms—one hanging by her side and another around her companion’s waist and—the third around that young lady’s neck. Suppose the artist didn’t like the lay of the second arm and after painting the third forgot to remove the other. The artist’s error has never been corrected.

The dinners of the Gridiron Club at Washington were swell affairs, and the press men had as their guests some of the biggest men in the land. One time I was present. It was during the scandal when prominent people for obvious reasons were accused of paying big money to have their portraits published in the New York Town Topics. Elihu Root, perhaps the brainiest man in the United States political life of the time, but whose cast of countenance was the reverse of jovial, began a speech this way: “At the last Cabinet council (President Roosevelt quickly looked at him in surprise at his publicly mentioning the doings of a cabinet in private session) when you, Mr. President, and we considered (the President very uneasily twisted and turned in his chair) that is, we were considering the advisability (Mr. President looked daggers at him for daring to publicly repeat what was always considered confidential, but Mr. Root went unconcernedly on) the advisability of getting—of getting our pictures in Town Topics—”

The rest of the sentence was lost in the wild hilarious shouts that filled the room.

William H. Taft, afterwards President Taft, and a man of great humor, spoke at another gathering. He was then a member of the Roosevelt cabinet—and he claimed that his “rotundity of person was looming larger in the public eye than the President’s teeth.” and Teddy did have prominent molars.

I heard Mr. Harriman, the widely known railway magnate, try to make a speech, and, after a minute or so, get entirely lost, stick his hands in his pockets, and aimlessly wander around, vainly endeavoring to say something or other, which he couldn’t remember. He was a man of brains, but not of gab. Then Pierpont Morgan, able as he was, couldn’t make an after-dinner speech, for while he was long on money, he was short on language. But everybody was vociferously applauded all the same.

Case of “Much Wants More”

During the Spanish-American war there was great excitement in Boston and all along the coast of the New England states. A cruiser which had patrolled the coast was suddenly ordered elsewhere and the New Englanders, fearing a hostile visit from the enemy, deluged Washington with telegrams and letters and delegations demanding protection at once. I happened to be in Washington at the time, and was accompanying Eddie Hood, of the Associated Press, in his daily round of the Government offices. We dropped into the office of Mr. John Hay, Secretary of State, and there met his assistant, Mr. John Bassett Moore, who afterwards succeeded Mr. Hay. He looks like an Englishman, but isn’t one. After a short stay we were about to leave when Mr. Moore asked us to wait a minute, and disappeared into an adjoining room. On returning, a minute or so later, he asked me if I would like to meet Mr. Hay, and immediately ushered me into his presence. Mr. Hay had a keen piercing eye, and he looked at me searchingly. Then he said, “Mr. Ham, you are from Canada. Would you do me a favor?” Of course I would if I could. “Well,” he went on, “the people of Boston and New England are deluging me with all sorts of messages and delegations and demanding that a cruiser that patrolled their coast line, which we had to send elsewhere, should be replaced at once. That is impossible, but I want to assure them that they will be protected from any Spanish fleet. Could you get me a daily message from Halifax reporting the approach of any Spanish men-of-war?”

I told him I would try, and he gave me the address to which the messages were to be sent. I looked it up and it was the residence of Mr. Wilkie, the head of the U. S. secret service—although his was not the name given. I went to Halifax, and saw Charlie Philps, the local C.P.R. representative, who arranged with the look-out men at the signal station to keep him informed. Every morning a wire was sent: “All’s well.” On the first of every month, a man came into my office and handed me an envelope in which was $100 in brand new U. S. currency which had never before been used. There was no name, but I had a number, which identified me at Washington. This money was forwarded to Halifax to be divided between the four signal men. All went smoothly until all danger of an attack was past, when I was notified that there was no further necessity for the messages. When I conveyed this intelligence to the look-out men, instead of thanks for putting what is called “velvet” in their pockets, I received a letter abusing me like a pickpocket for not continuing the service. Oh, well—perhaps I may get a war medal or some other decoration from Washington some of these days, but I am not banking on it.

At the old Willard Hotel, Jimmy Anderson, the colored porter, put one over me. My room was chilly, and Jimmy came daily and lighted a fire. He told me a sad, sad tale about his wife and children having in the far past been stolen by the Georgia men (men from Georgia) and his life had been one of long sorrow and lonesomeness ever since. The tears trickled down his wrinkled cheeks and he appealed to me so pitifully that I gave him a couple of dollars and temporarily soothed his saddened heart. In about a year I was again at the old Willard, and roomed on the same floor. Meeting the motherly housekeeper one morning, I asked her as to the whereabouts of Jimmy. She enquired if I wanted to see him, to which I replied in the affirmative. The tale Jimmy told me of his kidnapped family had scarcely been commenced, when she laughingly interrupted by saying, “And he told you that terrible story of his wife and children being stolen? Why, the old rascal is over at Atlantic City now with his wife and eleven youngsters, all fat and hearty.” Whereat we both laughed and my deep interest in Jimmy and his woes took a decided slump.

One day Ned Farrer and I were wandering around Chevy Chase, just outside the city, when we casually ran across a fine old type of a Southern gentleman. Entering into conversation he told us we were on historic ground; it was here a group of Confederate soldiers during the Civil War gathered, coming by way of Georgetown, with the avowed purpose of making a quick dash on the White House, kidnapping President Lincoln, and hurriedly carrying him away. That night was a misty one, and the scouts sent out mistook the haycocks, which were in plenty, for the tents of the northern soldiers. Imagining that their venture could not be successfully carried out, they quickly retreated, and sadly said our new-found friend: “I don’t understand how we ever made such an awful blunder.”

He had been one of the foiled Southern troops and a Colonel at that.

Some Anecdotes

A warm personal friend, who had been reading these reminiscences, very kindly writes me his appreciation of them, and adds a few incidents which he thinks I had forgotten. Here they are in all their glory and exaggeration. He says:

“I ran across an American mining man, Col. Jack Ormsby, in Toronto, who told me a typical ‘George Ham Story.’ It appears that the two colonels were travelling together from New York to Washington. Never having met up before, they introduced each other in Western fashion. And after having said: ‘Well, what do you say if we have another one?’ which they had, the American colonel loosened up and explained that he had just come from Arizona to report to J. Pierpont Morgan on a mining proposition, (this was in 1905) and the ‘Old Man’ was so pleased that when his report was handed Mr. Morgan, and passed, Mr. Morgan presented the Colonel (not George) with a cheque for $15,000, the larger portion of which was given as a bonus.

“ ‘I showed Mr. Ham the cheque,’ said Colonel Jack, ‘and he asked me if he might tear a small piece off the corner, and when I enquired what for?’ he said: ‘Well, if that whole bit of paper is worth $15,000, a small piece of it must surely be worth a few thousands—and I need the money.’

“The American colonel who told me this story added: ‘Now that struck me as a funny thing; but not any funnier than the mild and innocent expression on Mr. Ham’s face when he made the droll remark’.”

And another one:

“Here is something which you have probably forgotten. Robert Lincoln O’Brien, of the Boston Herald, is responsible for it. You were ‘meeting’ Theodore Roosevelt in the White House, the morning after the Gridiron Club dinner, back in 1904, I think. ‘Teddy’ was then President, and was in a very talkative mood, standing outside his office in the ante-room addressing his remarks especially to you, stating that when he got clear of his present ‘job,’ he intended to take a trip through Canada.

“ ‘I hope you do,’ said G. H. H. cordially, ‘there’s only one man in the world who would be better or more cordially received than you, Mr. President—and that’s King Edward.’ Whereat President Roosevelt smilingly showed his teeth, seeing as how he generally knew a good thing when he heard it.”

And still another:

“Sam Blythe—he of Saturday Evening Post fame—will vouch for this one. Mr. Ham, under his chaperonage was being escorted through the different congressional members’ rooms (States headquarters) in the Capitol at Washington. There was ‘apple-jack’ in the Jersey room; ‘moonshine’ in the Tennessee tee-pee; peach brandy and honey in the Delaware ‘hang-out,’ and ‘Bourbon’ in the Blue Grass state apartments.

“ ‘How many States are there in this blooming Union of yours anyway, Sam?’ asked G. H. H. anxiously.

“Some one said, ‘Not more than fifty.’

“G. H. H. looked relieved: ‘Oh, is that all—lead me to it.’

“Afterwards there was a steamed clam luncheon at Shoemaker’s; and Samuel said that George put them all to bed.”

Guess that’s all right—but even Ananias would exaggerate.

Canadian Club

Of course everybody who goes south does not linger in Washington. As a matter of fact a great many Canadians flock to Florida during the winter months—thousands of them—and St. Petersburg on the western coast is a favorite resort. They are greatly in evidence everywhere, and last January, on a very warm day, I strolled over to the City Park, which was thronged with merry-makers. The band was playing popular airs, and many Canadians were indulging in dominoes, checkers, euchre, and other old-fashioned card games, and for the first time since boyhood days I saw quite a number pitching quoits with horse-shoes. I took a hand in the game, and nearly hit the man that beat the big drum, goodness knows how many yards away.

It was a grand day. The Canadians are there during the winter in such strong force that they have a club room for themselves, and on the door was a card which read: “Canadian Club,” and beneath it, “7:30”—signifying that a club meeting was to be held that evening at that hour. Mike Heenan, the Michigan Central Railway detective of Detroit, who is well-known throughout Western Ontario, and who was visiting St. Petersburg, didn’t read it exactly in that light.

“Holy Smoke,” he said, “Canadian Club—7:30. Minny’s the bottle I’ve bought for a dollar-tin, aye and for ninety cents.”

And then everybody smiled.



Christmas and Its Cheer—Will Sell Anything for

Gin But Children’s Christmas Stockings—Santa

Claus No Myth—Dreary Christmas—Mr.

Perkins’ Cutter—A Lively Christmas

Gathering—Tiny Tim’s


When my hair was lighter but not so gray, and a great deal thicker than it is now, Christmas-tide was the greatest and the happiest time of all the year. We kids counted the days for a month or six weeks before the Day of Days, and were filled with pleasant anticipation of the coming glorious event, which, it was conveyed to our infantile minds, meant “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

They were halcyon days, and Santa Claus was a mysterious and benificent, sanctified being who scattered lovely gifts with riotous profusion upon all the little ones the world over. Christmas Eve was an ecstatic evening, and when the stockings were hung up, and we all were bundled off to bed, but not to sleep, our little noddles were filled to overflowing with the happiest conjecture and surmises as to what good Old Santa would bring us. And we wondered how on earth he got down the chimney, especially in those houses which had no fireplaces, and if his reindeers were really truly live animals. And when, after a restless night, there was a rush for the stockings in the early dawn, joy filled our hearts and a pandemonium of unrestricted pleasure reigned as we gathered our treasured gifts, and really enjoyed the sugar sticks and sweet bull’s eyes which didn’t make us ill, as they doubtless would to-day. We lovingly caressed the beautiful dolls and exuberantly played with the pleasure-giving toys, free of all care and full of genuine juvenile enthusiasm. Happiness was supreme throughout many a household, and breakfast, for which sturdy, hungry youngsters were usually eager, was listlessly eaten with no particularly keen appetite.

Of course, then as now, there were many houses in which the youngsters were not so prodigally humored by Santa Claus, but in nearly all their childish wants were partially supplied. How many of us wish we could turn back the clock and enjoy those happy days again. Our sublime faith in good Old Santa Claus was far beyond infantile human comprehension and we gloriously revelled in our all-abiding blissful illusion.

But the time came naturally, as we grew up, when our innocent eyes were opened, and we learned to our sorrow and dismay that Santa Claus was really no travelling angel in disguise, but our own matter-of-fact parents. It was a sad awakening. Mine came accidentally. I was looking for something or other, and climbed on a closet shelf, where I found a whistle and a rocking-horse and a variety of other lovely things which I knew would not ordinarily be there. I discreetly kept my mouth shut, but when Christmas morn came, and all these same presents were arrayed in the parlor, I knew Santa Claus was a myth. But I didn’t let on. My father and mother, I figured out, were merely the earthly representatives of the princely gift-giver. Between you and me, I can conscientiously say I actually convinced myself of this fact against my will. But, later on, when I knew it all, I thought that, as is done in this later materialistic age, it is a damnable crime for anyone, man, woman or child, to break a little one’s faith in Santa Claus—as great a crime as it is for an iconoclast to destroy the faith of a child in its prattling prayer at the loved mother’s knee:—

“Now I lay me down to sleep,

 I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

 If I should die before I wake,

 I Pray the Lord, my soul to take.”

A crime——it is diabolically fiendish!

Pawn All But Christmas Stockings.

One time, over in London, England, I met Rev. Mr. Webb and his charming wife, who had lived in Canada, and who were willing and energetic workers amongst the poor of London’s awful slums. Do you know what a wretched life these poor folk have? It would horrify you if you saw their misery and poverty and wretchedness. Mrs. Webb told me that in all her wide experience there was nothing you could give them that was pawnable that they wouldn’t pawn for liquor—except—except the Christmas stockings filled with sweets and toys for the children. These were sacred even to these hardened sinners. Then why should the illusions of these poor unfortunate kids be ruthlessly destroyed? Why not let them, in their dire poverty and distress, have one little ray of sunshine in their belief in the existence of Santa Claus?

The day before one Christmas in Winnipeg, I was endeavouring to convince my children that there was a real sure-enough bona fide Santa Claus. The house had been put in apple-pie order for Christmas Day, when later in the afternoon, it was discovered to be in a deplorable condition. Stove pipes had been taken down and the soot scattered all over the floors. It happened this way: Jack McGinn dropped in, and when closely questioned by the children as to the reality of Santa Claus, and how he could get into houses that had no big chimneys and fireplaces—guess they didn’t believe me—fully explained that Santa could suit himself according to circumstances, and squeeze through a keyhole if necessary. He also informed his eager listeners that Santa always dressed in pure white, and wouldn’t go down dirty pipes. Then having accomplished his diabolical purpose, he left, and the kids took down the sooty stove pipes and scattered the soot on the floors to ensure a visit from good St. Nicholas. Of course, he came.

Personally, while my younger days were blissful at Christmas, in later years some were not so pleasant. One Christmas at Winnipeg, we were all disturbed at an early hour by a conflagration which destroyed the city’s fire hall—fire engine and all—and it was a cold and comfortless day that followed. Another time I was stormbound at Myrtle station on the old C.P.R. line between Toronto and Montreal. I had driven out from Whitby to catch the midnight train, and arrived early at the station and spent quite a little while in gazing at the coal fire and reading Folder A, which combined to make superb scenery and admirable and instructive literature. Then the village folk began to gather—just why they should spend Christmas Eve at a lonely C.P.R. station is beyond me, unless it was to look at the pictures on the wall, and see the trains go by. But they did, and all they talked about was Mr. Perkins’ new cutter, which he had brought from Toronto that day. Finally, Mr. Perkins himself arrived and when questioned a score or so of times, proudly corroborated the satisfying statement that it was the finest cutter purchasable in Toronto, and that it was a real bang-up Jim-dandy. For two solid hours I was regaled with descriptions of that wonderful vehicle, and its superiority over any other cutter that had ever come out of the west. It cost—well, Mr. Perkins didn’t say exactly how much it cost, but the dealer didn’t get the best of him, anyway. He admitted that after a whole lot of haggling as to the price, he was finally asked how much money he had with him, and when he produced his wad, they said that that was what it would cost him. And then—and then—the train came in and the conductor and the porter wished me a Merry Christmas, and in the recesses of my berth I dreamt that the blessed old cutter was in my stocking, which was hanging up on my left foot. It was a lovely Christmas Eve.

About the liveliest Christmas I ever experienced was when dear dead and gone Mina Macdonald, ever the good friend of the Boys’ Club of Montreal, gave a “sunshine” feed to the newsboys of the city in Victoria Hall, Westmount. It was a rare treat. The speakers of the evening were a certain judge and a Montreal newspaper man. How these grave gentlemen had prepared cautionary and exemplary addresses for the betterment of the immature Hebrews, who, in the main, made up the audience! How, after eating the bountiful fare, the little Isaacs, Jacobs and Abrahams, listened dutifully to the judge, as was proper! But when the editor appeared, they could contain themselves no longer—but I anticipate.

My good editorial friend had kindly asked me to accompany him to the intended feast of reason and flow of almost everything else. I went. He was all togged up, even to fresh underclothing, and I accommodatingly put on clean collar and a new necktie, and we hied ourselves to the hall.

There was a sound of revelry as we entered the well-filled spacious public room. There were also plentiful signs of rank disorder. Kids with blouses loaded with apples and cakes and other species of effective missiles predominated. Amicable hostilities had already commenced, and the boys just wallowed in the riot of disorderly merrymaking. I discreetly retired to a back bench where I vigilantly dodged volleys of fruit and gooey cake approaching, and my friend went on the stage. Order having been partially restored—in spots—the speaking part of the proceedings commenced. The editor’s introduction was greeted with the same sort of uproarious applause that was given to the previous speaker, which was accentuated by the smashing of a lot of crockery through the falling of a table. He said he was delighted to be with them to-night, and to show by his presence. . . .

“Where are they?” eagerly demanded a score of urchins.

“Where are what?” queried the speaker.

“The presents.”

“Presents nothing! I am alluding to my being with you.” (Signs of disapproval.)

He went on to speak of journalism. “It is a noble profession—(Say, boys, please keep quiet)—a noble profession—(order, please)—and while you, my brave lads, are merely (will you kindly keep still?) are merely now on the lower rung—(silence, please)—lower rung, the ladder leads to high places—(for goodness’ sake, keep order!)—to high places which—(great Caesar, listen to me)—high places which have been reached by—(say, won’t you listen to me?)—reached by men who—(hang it all, boys, keep still!)—men who once occupied the positions—(for the love of Mike, order! order! I say!)—the humble positions you do now—(continued uproar)—you are all part—(I say, great jumping Jerusalem! won’t you listen to me?)—all part and parcel of the great work of producing—(say Mr. Chairman! Where in blazes is the chairman?)”

“I was going to say that you boys were—(Oh, shut up, you red-headed heretical whelps!)—you boys were—(say, am I making this speech or is it a universal recital by the newsies?) you boys, let me say—(Mr. Chairman—Oh, Mr. Chairman—where is that blooming fool of a chairman?)—Mr. Little, Mr. Little, that is ‘Billy’ Little, our circulation manager, told me—(Oh, for Heaven’s sake, sit still a minute)—he told me that you—(say, Swipesy, sit down)—that you were—(Holy smoke, are you ever going to keep quiet?) Billy Little says—(well, what next? Shut up, you infernal rowdies, you!) The Sunshine Society is doing good work, and—(say, if you don’t stop that whooping I’ll come down and pound the tar out of you)—the Sunshine Society—(keep still there)—has given you a great treat to-night, a splendid supper and a—(will you keep quiet, you pestiferous little hoodlums, you!) a splendid banquet and a delightful drive—(Oh, Holy Moses, what am I up against?)—and—(shut up, will you?) and you ought to be grateful for—(damn you, shut up!)—for their Christian kindness—(now, keep still, you young slobs)—‘Billy,’ that is, Mr. William Little, the Star’s circulation manager, tells me the newsboys of Montreal—(oh, say, boys, keep still!) the newsboys of Montreal are the best in America, and if that is so, it is something—(shut up, will you?)—it is something you should—(shut up, shut up, do you hear me!)—you should be proud of and we all—oh go to blazes, the whole blooming bunch of you, Sunshine Society and all. I am going down to the Windsor for a drink.” (Sounds of uproarious applause, amidst which we went.)

Everybody Should Believe in Christmas.

Dreary Christmases I have spent, as have many others, in country hotels or on the road, but the utter loneliness and longing for home were invariably lightened by the cheerfulness and comradeship of fellow travellers, who, while utter strangers, were filled with the spirit of Christmas, and if it was not a merry one, it was not altogether a miserable day. Many can recall some of their earlier Christmases, as many experience them now-a-days, when they had need of Mark Tapley’s irrepressible disposition in order to enable them to be jolly under rather unpleasant circumstances. To those who catch the spirit of the anniversary in anything like its fullness, Christmas comes with rich rewards. It is the grand festival of the year, is one for all mankind, and for all ages to come, full of pleasant memories, of kindliest feelings and, above all, of that large hearted noble charity which blesses giver and receiver alike. It is the season which should make all hearts glad—a day of universal rejoicing, for it is the celebration of the greatest event in the history of the world—the coming of the meek and lowly One, who “brought light to the Gentiles,” and “salvation unto the ends of the earth.” Greetings, greetings, greetings, and in the immortal words of Tiny Tim: “God bless us, every one.”





The Miracle Man of Montreal—Brother Andre

Whose Great Work Has Done Great Good—A

Youth With a Strange Power—Authentic

Accounts of Some of the Miracles—All

Faiths Benefited by Him.

The day of miracles is not past. Ever since Christ raised the dead, healed His suffering suppliants, gave voice to the dumb, sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf; ever since He turned water into wine at the marriage feast at Cana and fed the multitude with five loaves of bread and two small fishes, down through the long ages, miracles have been wrought. There were many sincere believers in them, but there were more scoffers and doubters. As it was then, so it is with the world to-day. Time was, especially in recent years, that many non-Catholics sincerely believed that these alleged miracles existed merely in the untutored minds of the superstitious followers of the Roman Catholic Church.

But the wonderful works of divine healers of the Protestant faith—notably Rev. Mr. Hickson, an Anglican, and Mrs. McPherson, of another Protestant denomination, in different places in Canada and the United States—have largely dispelled that idea, and thousands of intellectual people of different nationalities and of different creeds are to-day firmly convinced that the healer has an almost supernatural Divine power which is exercised for the benefit of suffering humanity.

Shrines throughout the world have existed for centuries, and some of them gained a world-wide reputation for the remarkable cures and conversions that have been claimed for them. Of these, perhaps Lourdes in France and Sainte Anne de Beaupré, near the city of Quebec, have acquired the greatest fame. It is not of these, however, that I am writing, but of the unpretentious little shrine of St. Joseph on Mount Royal at Montreal, where Brother André, the Miracle Man, whose great work relieving the suffering of their ills for many years has been testified to by hundreds upon hundreds of people who have been restored to health and happiness by his intercession and prayers. He is a remarkable man, with no pretensions whatever of being other than the humble instrument of a higher power through which he is permitted to do good to his fellow-men. He is not the Miracle Man of the movies, which is screened from Frank Packard’s remarkable book. Mr. Packard, who is an old friend of mine, told me that his miracle man was a creation of his own brain.

A Man Who Mastered Self.

Alfred Bassette was born at St. Gregoire d’Iberville, P.Q., on August 9th, 1845, and in his early youth was always known as “a good quiet boy.” He was a most dutiful son, a regular attendant at religious exercises, and in every way was looked upon as an exemplary youth. After the death of his mother, he entered, in 1870, the Congregation of the Holy Cross, a famous teaching order of the Catholic Church; was assigned to, and faithfully performed for upwards of forty years, the duties of a porter, messenger, etc., at the Côté des Neiges Boys’ College, located on the outskirts of the city of Montreal. He had not the advantage of an education that is given freely to the youths of to-day, but he possessed other marvellous qualities that have brought him prominently before the world. He is still of a modest, retiring disposition, a recluse who knows the full meaning of scanty fare—dry bread and water with sometimes a little fruit—and a hard pallette. But the long years of fasting and praying, and dealing continuously with the most distressing cases of disease, accident and trouble, have not given him a gloomy disposition. He looks upon earthly things with bright eyes, is light-hearted, jovial at times, and hugely appreciates a good joke. His position is no sinecure, for at the shrine he is kept busy from early morning till late into the night listening to the sad tales poured out by the sick and the maimed and the blind. So heavy has the work become, that in addition to Brother André, six priests, as secretaries, and five brothers are constantly engaged in receiving and acknowledging the never-ending stream of letters from all over the civilized world, imploring temporal and spiritual assistance. Sometimes as many as four hundred communications a day have been received. These bequests are read to Brother André and are also repeated at the daily services in the church where the congregation unite in prayers for all those imploring aid.

Youth With Strange Power.

As Alfred Bassette (who had taken in religion the name of Brother André) grew up, he displayed a mysterious power that was soon heralded around the countryside. Amongst his earliest miracles was that of healing several victims of smallpox during the epidemic of forty-seven years ago. Another is mentioned as having occurred over thirty years ago, when a young student was badly injured in a game of ball. Before medical assistance could be secured Brother André successfully applied “first aid to the injured,” and when the doctor arrived the patient was again playing ball. Other cures of a minor nature were effected by him, and these gave him a local notoriety. The first major miracle that brought him wider fame occurred in 1910, when Mr. Martin Hannon, a C.P.R. employee at Quebec, who was the victim of a serious accident two years previously by which his legs and feet were terribly crushed through heavy marble blocks falling upon them, visited him. Hannon had been unable to walk without crutches, and on crutches he went to Brother André, who rubbed his mangled limbs with holy oil and prayed over him, and then told him to throw his crutches away, for he was cured. Hannon dispensed with his crutches and walked then and since without even the use of a cane. The following day he visited La Patrie office, told of his miraculous cure, and Brother André’s reputation as a Miracle Man spread afar. I could not tell you of the multitudes that have sought Brother André’s intercession and prayers, comparatively few unavailingly, but I have seen two instances myself, in each of which what appeared to be serious cases, were restored to health. One, a young lady from Plattsburg, N.Y., who had walked on crutches for seventeen years, after a visit to Brother André, handed her crutches to her maid and walked several yards to her automobile. Another was a young lady from near Tupper Lake, N.Y., who was cured of paralysis, and who told me in Windsor St. station how, after seeing Brother André, she was able for the first time in several years, to use her limbs freely. But a still greater miracle, to my lay mind, was one of more recent date, and word of it came from London, England, in a letter from an old friend who is the wife of an Irish nobleman, once a member of the British House of Commons, and who while visiting Montreal last autumn, accompanied me to the shrine, and carried away with her oils and images of St. Joseph and other souvenirs. But here is her letter referring to the miracle:

“I have a little story you may like to tell Brother André. When I came home in November, I found a letter from a young friend I had not seen since he was in a perambulator. It was to ask my prayers for his mother who was dying from the effects of an accident. Her foot caught as she was going down a very steep flight of stairs to the Underground Railway, at Baker street, and she fell the whole length of it, hitting her head and one of her knees very badly. When she was conscious she was taken home, and for three or four days declared she was only severely bruised and shaken. Then suddenly she went clean out of her senses and knew no one and raved about people dead long ago, and she called for me in my maiden name, as I used to know her when I was a girl. It was that that put it into her son’s head to write to me that she was not supposed to live very long, and the doctors had very little hope of her. I was told she was in a mental hospital, and that she did not know her son when he went to see her. I asked permission to go there, and was given leave. They told me she could utter nothing but gibberish, and was very weak. When I came to her bedside, I would not have recognized her, but I looked straight into her eyes and told her I was ‘Alice.’ Then she caught my hand and held it convulsively, and her poor tongue and lips were uttering an incomprehensible jumble over and over again. At last I hit upon it; she was repeating over and over again a prayer in Polish her mother had taught her as a child. I recognized two of the words (her mother was a Pole, a Princess). . . I told the nurse she was saying a prayer in Polish and she was not able to say anything else. I sat by her for some time, and as her memory of years ago seemed to be the only workable part in her brain, I asked her in French was she suffering pain? And at once she responded and said ‘No, not at all,’ and then went off in the ejaculatory prayer. The nurse moved off, and I put my hand into my pocket and brought out Frère André’s little bottle of blessed oil, and I made the sign of the Cross with a little of the oil on her, and St. Joseph’s medal in my hand. And I just asked if there was any merit in Frère André’s prayers that this poor woman might be restored to health for her only son’s sake. I came away. The nurse thought it a bad case. I went to Ireland for three weeks, and on my return sent a ’phone message to the son, fearing he would tell me his mother was dead. But to my joy he said she had completely recovered, and was now at a rest home to get up her strength. Tell Brother André that. You must also tell him to pray for peace in Ireland.”

All Faiths Among Patrons.

You would be surprised if I were to tell you that, in proportion to the number that have applied, probably more Protestants than Roman Catholics have successfully procured aid at this now well-known shrine. And yet it is true.

From the primitive little Oratory of St. Joseph, on the western slope of Mount Royal, there has grown a crypt of large dimensions, in which divine service is daily held, and in the magnificent stained glass windows, the statuary, and other handsome offerings are evidences of the deep and fervent gratitude of those who have been made whole. Overshadowing this is shortly to be erected an imposing massive structure which is to be dedicated as a Basilica in honor of St. Joseph, the holy Patriarch of Nazareth, and which is to be one of the world’s grandest and most magnificent edifices, and to which immense pilgrimages of the maimed and the halt and the sick and the distressed and heavy-burdened will hopefully come for spiritual comfort and bodily relief.

And all this magnificent grandeur of marble and gold and silver and precious stones, picturesquely environed by the wealth of the scenic splendor of the historic mountainside, springs from the unfathomable work of the poor little habitant lad whose whole simple life has been devoted to humbly and faithfully following in the footsteps of the Master.



Political Life in Canada—Its Tragedies and Its

Pleasantries—The Great Outstanding Figures

of the Past—The Social Side of Parliament—Mixed

Metaphors and People

Who Were Not Good Mixers—A

Second Warwick—The Wrong Hat—And

Other Incidents.

Politics in Canada wax warm when the general elections are on, but the average man is fairly sane the rest of the time. At Ottawa, however, especially during the sessions of Parliament, the air fairly seethes with party argumentation. There, of course, the raw material for the next campaign is always being made. The two hundred and thirty-five members of the House, with the ninety-six Senators, and the army of officials, together with the correspondents in the Press Gallery, are busy in the manufacture of issues for the people to quarrel about later on. But while the work proceeds there are other things to sweeten life. The five o’clocks, the dances and dinners, the bridge parties and the generous hospitality of Rideau Hall combine to form an agreeable diversion from the serious business of Parliament.

It so happened that I was sent down from Winnipeg to the Press Gallery in 1886 and for several following years, and as a consequence I mixed a great deal in politics and with politicians, without acquiring bad habits. It is not my purpose to use this experience as a pretext for writing a history of Canada, or for commenting upon political questions. All I want to do is to speak of some happenings that interested me and of some of the great men and personal friends with whom I came in contact. One could not, of course, look down upon Parliament at that time without recognizing the leadership of Sir John Macdonald and Edward Blake, who were then the great combatants. The two statesmen contrasted strangely with one another. Mr. Blake, at the opening of Parliament in a slouch hat and a tweed suit that did not seem to be a very good fit, was the very opposite of Sir John, who came in attired in his Windsor uniform.

The Conservatives had a life-sized portrait of Sir John wearing this uniform painted for their retiring room. The chieftain was fairly gorgeous in gold braid, and the cocked hat he held in his hand was suggestive of a Lord High Admiral. One day Clarke Wallace was admiring it when in came Sir John. “Well, Clarke, how do you like it?” enquired the chieftain.

“It’s all right,” responded Clarke, “but don’t you think you look sort of stiff in it?”

“Do you know,” said Sir John, “the first time I wore that was when the Prince of Wales came to this country. They told us from Downing street that all the Ministers would have to get into uniform, and we did. The morning we assembled, all decked up to receive the Prince, we looked a set of guys.”

“Vankoughnet was there” (Mr. Vankoughnet was one of the pre-Confederation ministers) “and I said to him: ‘Van, you don’t look well in a cocked hat; a cocktail would suit us all better.’ ”

The cocktail, I understand, was a species of beverage obtainable at that time, and much in demand by epicures.

Political Tragedies.

Edward Blake was a commanding figure, and a great master of detail. But he did not pull with his entire party. Some thought he was not a good enough mixer, and Sir Richard Cartwright who ought to have been his right hand man was never one of his admirers. In a short time Mr. Blake resigned the leadership. His departure was really tragic. After so many years of labor it was universally thought to be a pity in view of what he had done to pull the party together that he should pass out of Canadian public life altogether. Alexander Mackenzie, who sat near him, was another tragedy. Mr. Mackenzie had led the House. He had, indeed, been the leading man of the country. His voice echoed through Parliament, as in his hey-day he discussed public matters. Now he was weak in voice and in body, and his comings and his goings were really pathetic. He had sacrificed himself to the public service.

There were other tragedies. The party pot was boiling all the time, and efforts were made to submerge public men in a torrent of scandal. When a Government is old in office the opportunities for this style of warfare are multiplied. The popular form of scandal at that time consisted of the charge that the member had profited through the transactions in public lands. Charlie Rykert, member for Lincoln, who was a fighter from the word “go,” was the leading figure in one of these. Charlie kept a scrap-book, and, with its aid, was able to prove his leading opponents guilty of inconsistency on almost any question that might be under discussion. In Parliament he irritated the Opposition beyond measure and, as a consequence, was thoroughly hated by that section of the House. It was, therefore, with considerable relish that Sir Richard Cartwright made charges against him in the session of 1890. The accusation was that in 1882 or thereabouts, he and another party secured from the Government for a nominal sum a timber limit in the Cypress Hills which was sold by them to an operator at a profit of $150,000, Charlie getting half of the proceeds. As a matter of fact, the transaction was fully in accordance with the law as it stood, and no such profit as that reported was made. Indeed, it is to be doubted that Charlie got enough to pay him for his trouble. However, the charge was pressed and it ended Mr. Rykert’s political career, for he resigned his seat before the session closed. While it was being debated in the House, Charlie sat silent and alone in his room, into which I happened to stray. He was particularly downcast and worried, for Sir John Thompson, the then Minister of Justice, and some other members of the party were assailing him. He asked me to keep him posted as to what they were saying, and for some time I would run into the gallery, listen briefly to the debate, and then report progress to him. I shall never forget his agonized look as he cried, “And he,” (referring to some unfriendly ‘friend’) “he got his share of the campaign funds and wanted more.” Whatever his faults may have been, he was a hard worker in the political field, doing yeoman service, and the gratitude he looked for was wanting when he needed it.

Another tragedy was that of Thomas McGreevy and Mike and Nick Connolly. In this Sir Hector Langevin was mixed up. The Connolly Brothers were contractors for the Quebec harbor works and the graving dock at Esquimalt. Israel Tarte brought against them the accusation that they had over-charged, and had contributed to the Quebec election funds, by way of Thomas McGreevy, and with the consent of Sir Hector. This cause celebre drove Sir Hector out of the Cabinet, and Tom McGreevy out of Parliament, while it sent the Connolly Brothers to jail. Of those who may have benefited not one came to the assistance of the accused men. Nobody turned a finger in their behalf in their time of trouble. Mike and Nick Connolly went to jail rather than turn Queen’s evidence.

The way in which politicians may be misunderstood and suffer in consequence is illustrated in the case of James Beaty, member for West Toronto at this time. He was solicitor for men who were interested in a western branch railway line. In a letter written by him, he was alleged to have said that some proposition that was made was not acceptable because “there is nothing in it for the boy.” The changes were rung in on this. Mr. Beaty was pursued under the nick-name of “the boy,” and it was inferred that “the boy” was looking for something for himself to which he was not entitled. His explanation, as he gave it to me, was that his written words were “There is nothing in it for the Co’y.” It was of the company that he was speaking, and not of himself.

A lot more could be told of members being ostracised for exhibiting independence, on either side of the House, or of members who have labored for their party being deserted in the time of stress.

A Wit-Provoking Stairway.

But, cui bono? Let’s to more pleasant incidents. After the great disallowance debate over that part of the C.P.R. contract which prevented United States railways from entering the Northwest to tap the business, Sir John A. Macdonald met W. B. Scarth, M.P. for Winnipeg, with myself and several others, at the head of the stairs leading to the restaurant. After a cheery salutation, Sir John remarked, “Well, boys, don’t you think we have had enough of disallowance? Let’s go down and take our allowance.” And we went.

The stairway to the restaurant seems to have been provocative of wit, for, it is said, that on this very spot Sir John once met Bob Watson, as strong a party man of the Liberal type as you could find, and asked him what was going on in the House. “Why,” said Bob, “Cartwright is pitching into Foster on the tariff.”

“Too bad, too bad, that they should be so partisan up there,” said Sir John. “I tell you, Bob, if they were all as independent as you and I are, this country would soon get some blankety fine legislation.”

Speaking of Sir John, I remember years ago, when he came from North Ontario to Whitby during a campaign, and regaled himself, as was the custom of those days, with a drink at the bar of Jake Bryan’s hotel. The crowd naturally joined in the “refresher,” and as Sir John—(he was then only John A.)—lifted his glass, a friend drew his attention to the fact that there was a fly in his grog.

“That’s all right,” he quickly replied. “It’s meat as well as drink, and I’m hungry.”

That caught the crowd, and the remark spread far and wide. The Tory majority in Whitby was never so large as it was in that election.

The Old War Horse From Cumberland.

Sir Charles Tupper was really the fighting man of the Conservative party in those days, and he dearly loved a scrap. His command of the English language was complete, and his declamation was powerful. A good field day by Sir Charles in the House gave you something to see and hear. He was outspoken even to friends. When some Portage la Prairie supporters, who were dissatisfied with something or other he had done, wired him from Manitoba that they could not see their way to support him in this particular measure, they received a curt message in reply which read: “You had better vote Grit.”

The Portage people went home, but did not vote that way at the next election. During the campaign of 1900, when Sir Charles had came over to rehabilitate the disorganized Conservative party, I happened to be on the C.P.R. train which was taking him to Nova Scotia. Visiting his private car, I found him resting in bed. I remarked in course of conversation, “I suppose you are going back to Cape Breton.” He was a candidate there.

“No, no,” he said. “I am going to Western Nova Scotia to help our friends there.” And then he told me he could be elected by acclamation in Cape Breton if he would consent to let Alex Johnston, recently Deputy Minister of Marine and Fisheries, and a strong Liberal, be his fellow member. This was offered him by those who controlled the political situation on the other side.

“But,” said Sir Charles, “I absolutely refused the offer, and told them it would be either two Conservatives or two Liberals; besides, as leader of my party, I could not show such an example to my loyal followers. We must sink or swim together. If we win and I should lose in Cape Breton, another seat can easily be found for me; if we are beaten, there are others to take up the fight,” The old Cumberland war-horse was game to the last.

Sir Hibbert Tupper, his son, was also a fighter of the first rank, but when the Bowell Government was disrupted he was among the first to return when peace was declared, and announced his entry into the Council Chamber with, “The cat’s come back!” which was a slang phrase of those days.

Sir John’s Trusted Lieutenant.

Sir John’s most trusted lieutenant for years was Hon. John Henry Pope, of Compton, father of Senator Rufus Pope. “John Henry,” as he was familiarly called, had all the shrewdness and foresight of the statesman, and materially assisted in directing the policy of the party. He was not a polished or verbose speaker, but when he spoke the few words he uttered always meant something. Once when fiercely attacked by Sir Richard Cartwright in the House, he made the shortest but most effective speech ever delivered in the Green Chamber. When Sir Richard had taken his seat amidst the loud applause of his followers, Mr. Pope slowly rose and quaintly said: “Mr. Speaker, there ain’t nothin’ to it.”

The House cheered wildly, and Sir Richard warmly joined in the expressions of admiration. That ended the discussion.

I recall that Bob White, one of the active members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, and one time member for Cardwell, got off a joke at Mr. Pope’s expense about this time. In those days tolls were charged on the St. Lawrence Canal System. A strong deputation came down from the Niagara Peninsula in the month of October to ask that the Welland Canal tolls be lifted for the balance of the season, but “John Henry” was obdurate. There was to be no change in the Government’s policy so far as he was concerned. Mr. White was present when the deputation was presenting its case, and when they went away after receiving the Minister’s answer, Bob, sitting in his place in the Press Gallery, sent a note to the Minister of Railways and Canals to the following effect:—

“In connection with the Welland Canal deputation, how would it do to remove the tolls from December to April?” (when the canal is closed.)

The old man missed the point of the joke and solemnly wrote back to Bob:—

“I see no reason to change the view which I expressed to the deputation.”

Laurier’s Magnetic Personality.

Sir Wilfred, then Mr. Laurier, in his early fifties was one of the outstanding figures of the House. His commanding presence, whether in Parliament or in the lobbies, or on the streets of Ottawa, irresistibly attracted the stranger. I well remember his great speech in the Riel Debate of 1886. While I did not agree with Mr. Laurier’s views, yet on re-reading that speech I am bound to say that I agree with what a distinguished publicist has stated: that his address was one of the most brilliant ever delivered in Canada’s legislative halls. As an example of pure eloquence it cannot be excelled.

Two Tom Whites.

There have been two Thomas Whites in the House, and both of them distinguished members. It is not of the later meteoric Sir Thomas White, who did such great work in finance during the war that I am writing, but Hon. Thomas White, of the Montreal Gazette, who represented, as later did his son, Robert S., the Ontario constituency of Cardwell, now merged into Dufferin. In 1885, he entered Sir John Macdonald’s Cabinet as Minister of the Interior, and his excellent administration of the affairs of that department brought him many friends among staunch Liberals. He was frank and outspoken in his words, and while he displeased many westerners by openly telling them that they were spoon-fed, his honest and courageous course in dealing with intricate western matters won their admiration. He was a pleasing and convincing speaker and had always a full grasp of his subject. When he passed away, Canada lost a great statesman.

It was in July, 1886, that he visited the Pacific Coast, and one day in Vancouver, he accosted me with, “Oh, George, I am going over to Port Moody (then the western terminus of the C.P.R.) to meet the mayor and citizens. Come along.” When we reached Port Moody there was a goodly-sized crowd who enthusiastically welcomed Mr. White. Mayor Scott, togged out in his Sunday best, proceeded to read the usual address, and when he had finished reading it, he turned to Mr. White and remarked, “Mr. White, you will excuse this short but brief address.”

Of course a lot of us couldn’t help but snicker, but Mr. White, with a suppressed smile on his beaming countenance, never blinked an eye-lash, and made a happy reply, which was received with such loud applause that he had time to laugh all by himself.

A Few Veterans.

Another veteran was Sir Mackenzie Bowell, that grand old man whom everybody liked. He entered the House in 1867 and continuously sat for Hastings until he was elevated to the Senate, became Premier, and was in harness until called away by death at a ripe old age. He was genial and kindly and had a host of friends, amongst whom he counted many Roman Catholics, although at one time he was Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of Canada.

Sir Mackenzie was publisher of the Belleville Intelligencer, now successfully carried on by his son, Charlie. In the early ’90’s, he took a trip over the Intercolonial in a private car, and I happened to meet him at Truro, N.S. He complained of the lack of newspapers, and I asked him if he would like a copy of the Intelligencer of the previous day’s date. He expressed his great delight at the possibility of getting a real live newspaper, and with due gravity, I handed out a copy of the “yesterday” Intelligencer—only it had been printed twenty odd years before. I had found it amongst some old papers that had been sent me, but Sir Mackenzie read it with great interest.

John McMillan, who represented South Huron for many years, was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. Although he came to Canada as a lad the Doric was always on his tongue, possibly due to the fact that he had settled in the essentially Scotch section of Ontario. He was a first-class farmer and stock raiser and attained affluence through his activity in the export cattle industry, of which he was one of the pioneers. Pressure of Parliamentary duties, and stalwart sons grown to manhood, induced him to pass over the export cattle trade to the latter, with the result that John did not make as frequent trips across the Atlantic as in the earlier days of the industry. After a lapse of 15 years Mr. McMillan made what proved to be his last journey to the Old Land, and told the story of his visit to Dumfriesshire to Mrs. Sedgwick, wife of Mr. Justice Sedgwick, the following session. This was the only social call he made during the Parliamentary term. In Mrs. Sedgwick he found a lady who sympathized with Scotland, which meant everything to John. In her genial way over a cup of tea one afternoon, she asked Mr. McMillan if he had found many changes in the Old Land on his recent visit. “Aye,” he answered, “I foond that mony of my auld freends had passed awa’.”

“And those whom you met and told about Canada, what astonished them most?”

“Aweel, Mistress Sedgwick, I am boond to say that they were vera mooch surpreezed at mah Amurican occent.”

After John McMillan passed out of Parliament the recollection of his genial presence and kindly nature lingered long with those who knew him.

The Jims.

As some dyed-in-the-wool Grits liked some double-dyed Tories, on the other hand there were Opposition members who were liked personally by their opponents. James Trow, of South Perth, was one of them. He could have had a portfolio in Sir John’s Cabinet had he wished, and had there been room. While he was a staunch Liberal he was moderate in his views, and personally very agreeable. My old friend, Jim Trow, was one whom to know was to honor and respect for his many kind qualities of head and heart. Mr. Trow was a frequent visitor to the Northwest in the early days, and he was the champion of that country on the Liberal side when eastern men were cold and critical. The Opposition in Parliament at that time was wonderfully well supplied with “Jims” of whom Mr. Trow was one. In addition to Jim Trow, it could boast Jim Somerville, Jim Rowand, Jim McMullen, Jim Lister, Jim O’Brien, Jim Armstrong, Jim Edgar, Jim Livingston, Jim Innes, Jim Platt, Jim Yeo, and Jim Sutherland.

There was no better liked man in the House than the last of the “Jims” I have mentioned—Jim Sutherland, of Woodstock, Ontario, the chief Liberal whip and afterwards Minister of Public Works in the Laurier administration. He was a Grit, first, last and all the time. But he had lots of friends among the Tories, and I was one of them. To show his kindness to me, he one day led me into his private office and told me he wanted to enrich my library with one of the greatest volumes that had ever been printed. Thereupon he ostentatiously presented me with that beautiful little red covered book which contained the Liberal platform of 1893, with a full and presumably accurate account of the proceedings of the Liberal convention of that year. Gratitude was fully expressed by me, and I treasured the valued volume. Later on, Ned Clarke, the member for West Toronto, and ex-Mayor of the city, came to me and begged me to give it to him. Imagining I could replace it I gave it to him. Several months afterwards I met Jim and told him Ned Clarke had swiped my precious present and asked for another copy. By this time, as many will remember, the platform had been pretty well shot to pieces. Jim expressed his deep regret at my loss of the pamphlet, and told me that the party had a family gathering a few nights previously and had celebrated the event with a bonfire for which the red covered books furnished the fuel. It is impossible to beg, borrow or steal a copy of his famous work that the unregenerate Tories declared rare fiction, and that is why my library is not complete today. When the Liberal Committee met in Ottawa in 1919 to make arrangements for their convention the only copy available was one borrowed from a former Conservative newspaperman.

A Soured Senator

While in the House members on both sides were, as a rule, kindly disposed toward their opponents, the same conditions were not general in the Senate.

Among the Senators was George Alexander from Western Ontario, an old Conservative who left the party for some real or fancied grievance. He had a special antipathy to Sir David Macpherson, who was at one time Speaker of the Senate and at another a member of the Macdonald Cabinet. In the corridors of the Senate Chamber were oil portraits of past Speakers, some living, some no more, and all of a uniform cabinet size. When Sir David Macpherson’s portrait was added to the collection it was a full length picture and about twice the size of the others. Senator Alexander, who everlastingly took me for T. P. Gorman, the Globe correspondent, and was always giving me pointers which the Globe did not print, and giving Gorman fits because they were not printed by the Globe, pointed out to me one day the traits and peculiarities of the statesmen who had been reproduced in oil. All went well until we reached the outstanding full-length portrait of Sir David. “That, that,” he muttered in tones of disgust, “that—why you could cut that picture in two and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference which half you took away.” And the irate old gentleman snorted vindictively and went off as mad as a wet hen.

Familiar Faces in the Old Days.

Among the leading men in the House was Sir George Kirkpatrick, an ideal Speaker of the Commons. He was the son-in-law of Sir David Macpherson, the bete noir of Senator Alexander. In one of the earlier sessions Sir George presided over the Commons while his father-in-law-to-be was Speaker of the Senate.

A conspicuous figure was the energetic and much-loved member from Hamilton, Adam Brown. Mr. Brown had been prominent in public affairs before entering Parliament and was one of the many fathers of the N.P. The members of the Press Gallery had no better friend. Mr. Brown is one of the few survivors of that Parliamentary period, and was actively serving as postmaster of Hamilton until recently, when he retired. Born in 1826, he is now 95, and his friends are wishing him many more happy years.

Dr. George Landerkin, of Grey, was one of the wits of the House. He had many bouts with Nicholas Flood Davin, but Davin was the more expert in the use of language. He was also quick at repartee; as for example, when Jim McMullen, irritated by some of his remarks, interrupted him to say that he had rooms to let in his upper story, he quietly replied, “So have you; but mine are furnished.” Jim McMullen, a very hard-working member, was known as the “Tall Sycamore from Mount Forest.” His specialty was the scrutiny of the minor expenditures. His enemies used to say that his visits to Rideau Hall were improved by a stocktaking of the spoons with a view to discovering whether or not there was extravagance in viceregal circles. But this was an unkind reflection upon his public services which were useful in that they helped to keep expenditures down. A member with whom he often came into conflict was Samuel R. Hesson, from Perth. Mr. Hesson was very much in earnest as a public man—not a bad fault—and was so demonstrative that he could not refrain during the heated party debates from expressing his disapproval with the aid of the lid of his desk, or his approval by loud shouts of approval. A neighbor of Mr. Hesson’s was Jean Baptiste Morin, the short and rotund French-Canadian from Dorchester, Que. Jean Baptiste was always elected by large majorities, but he denied ever having purchased a vote. He explained, however, that he always had a fine imported bull on his farm, and when an election was expected he got another. It is hardly necessary to say that his was a thoroughly agricultural constituency.

One of the promising Liberal members was George Casey, from Elgin. It was sometimes said that he spoke too frequently. But he was well informed. His chief end in political life was to accomplish Civil Service reform. Curiously enough, when his constituents listened to other voices he reformed the Civil Service by entering it. He dearly enjoyed a fight with Dr. Sproule of Grey. The Doctor was none too mindful of the rules of debate, and was often called to order. For this reason, his election to the office of Speaker, to enforce the rules of order, when the Conservatives got back to power in 1911, was an unusual example of the unexpected. But he was a good Speaker.

Then there was Sir George Foster, from Kings, N.B., who is still in harness, and after nearly forty years’ service delivered a magnificent speech in the House last year with all the vigor and eloquence of his early days. By the way, Sir George, like a good old scout, has surprised the boys by again jumping the broomstick—the bride being Miss Jessie Allen, who is a lady of high attainments.

Others were J. G. H. Bergeron, the boy orator of Beauharnois, Sir John Macdonald’s special pet, who died while postmaster of Montreal; Dalton McCarthy, from Simcoe, who broke away from his party on the Manitoba School question, an able lawyer, who was the father of the McCarthy liquor license act, which was declared ultra vires a week after it came into operation; Hon. Edward Dewdney, a member of the Government, who chose Pile-of-Bones Creek, on the wide, treeless prairie, as the capital of the Northwest Territories, and named it Regina; Hon. Sidney Fisher, from Brome, a gentleman farmer, who was Minister of Agriculture in the Laurier Administration; Walter Shanly from Grenville, a great engineer, who built in the wonderful Hoosac tunnel, and who was a warm friend of my father and myself; Pat Purcell, from Glengarry, whose body was stolen by ghouls from a vault east of Cornwall and was recovered near Stanley Island, the grave robbers being sorely disappointed in not securing the blackmail they expected for its return; Hon. J. C. Patterson, who afterwards became Lieut-Governor of Manitoba; Harry Ward, of Port Hope—“Handsome Harry,” he was called—one of the most popular members of his time; Hon. Desire Girouard, of Jacques Cartier, who defeated that strong fighting Liberal, Hon. R. Laflamme, and who retired from politics to take a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Justice Girouard was the author of a most interesting book, “Lake St. Louis and the Parishes Around,” which is a historical work of great value; “Bob” Watson, from Marquette, now Senator Watson, who had the distinction for years of being the only Liberal from west of the Great Lakes; Joe Kinney, who was the only Conservative elected in Yarmouth in forty-four years; Hon. J. J. Curran, afterwards Judge Curran, who could sit up later hours, sing “Old King Cole” more acceptably, and be brighter next morning with nothing stronger than ginger ale as a stimulant than any other person I ever knew; M. H. Gault was also a distinguished member of the House; James Innis, from South Wellington, one of the old stock, whose paper, the Guelph Mercury, is still prospering under the guidance of his nephew, Innis McIntosh; John Charlton, of North Norfolk, who was one of the big guns and most effective speakers of the Liberal party; Capt. Walsh, from Prince Edward Island, whose hospitality was unbounded, and who told the Minister of Customs, whom he was entertaining at his residence with a lot of the rest of us, that his liquor had never passed through the gauger’s hands. A blue flag off the mouth of Montague River showed an excellent fishing spot, and by pulling up the flag up would come a keg of rare old vintage. Dr. Jenkins was another Prince Edward Islander, whom it was a delight to know, and who was a high class physician. At any rate he cured a gnarled muscle in my left hand by giving it a quick, smashing blow, the operation taking place on the front street of Charlottetown. “Doc” Jenkins was a brawny athlete in his younger days. While in the House he always captained the Parliamentary cricket team which annually tried conclusions with the Press Gallery. I recall an amusing incident which happened one Saturday just before the annual match commenced. There was a great crowd of spectators and it was difficult to keep them off the field of play. Mr. Kimber, the little gentleman usher of the Black Rod, who thought he owned the Parliament buildings, strenuously resented being ordered behind the ropes and the crowd of onlookers greatly enjoyed the polite but forcible way in which Dr. Jenkins enforced the rules against the irate little gentleman. Then there was S. J. Dawson, “Smooth Bore” Dawson, they called him, for the quiet slickness of his speech, who was the builder of the Dawson Road, which first opened the way from the head of Lake Superior through hundreds of miles of wilderness to the Red River. There was also J. Israel Tarte, who, when a Conservative, was defeated in Quebec, if I remember aright, by his Liberal opponents scattering thousands of his photographs with him wearing a masonic apron. One of Mr. Tarte’s trite sayings was, when accused of corrupting a constituency, “Elections are not won with prayers.”

The Social Side of the House.

Parliament has its social side, and I found in the years I was at Ottawa that friendships did not respect party lines there, as was commonly supposed. The case of David Mills and Sir John Macdonald, already mentioned, is on illustration. There we had a repetition of the story of David and “John-A-than.” Sir John loved to hear David hold forth on constitutional questions and would listen to him by the hour, although he once called him “a mass of undigested information.” Often the two would talk matters over sitting side by side in the House, and it was an open secret that the Honorable David might have had a portfolio in Sir John’s cabinet any time he desired.

One of the men who helped personal friendships in a very practical manner was Alonzo Wright, known to the House, if not to the country, as the “King of the Gatineau.” Alonzo was comfortably situated so far as this world’s goods are concerned. He was descended from the first owner of the site of the city of Hull, and he had married the granddaughter of the first owner of the site of the city of Ottawa. At his fine estate at Ironsides up the Gatineau River, he gathered every Saturday members of Parliament from both sides of the House. He was a veritable John Bull in personal appearance, and his hospitality was of the John Bull kind. Party bitterness gave way in the presence of the “King of the Gatineau,” and many a politician found that the member on the opposite side of whom at first he did not think much was not such a bad fellow after all.

The rumor was current that it was here that Sir Adolphe Caron and Sir William Mulock formed their interesting friendship. Sir Adolphe was Minister of Militia, and Sir William was the Opposition critic of the Militia Department. When the Militia vote was coming up in Supply, Minister and critic would sometimes dine together before settling down to the hard hitting. Sir John Macdonald, by the way, had a good opinion of Sir William, and is credited with having said that if he were only ten years younger he “would get Bill over to the Tory side.” This was about the time when Mr. Mulock was restive under the interpretation put upon the party policy of unrestricted reciprocity, and had moved his resolution affirming the loyalty of the people of Canada to the Throne. Sir John had his Saturday night dinners at which politicians of both sides figured. These he held up to the day before the fatal stroke which carried him off. It was at the last dinner he gave that he got off the Chinaman’s description of the electric street car, to the discomfiture of the ladies present. Everybody knows it—“got no horsee; got no steamee; goes like hellee.” It must not be supposed from this that Sir John indulged in extreme language. Far from it. If he made use of an expression that was slightly out of the ordinary, it was in a tone of humorous reluctance.

Within the precincts of the House the members were given to entertaining one another. D. W. Davis from Stand Off in the wild and wooly west, was especially valuable in this connection. When the Mounted Police in 1874 first arrived in the far west and expected to be met by a gang of desperadoes, they found D. W., a trusted official of the big firm of I. G. Baker & Co., behind the counter of the store in his shirt sleeves, unconcernedly smoking a cigar and when they made known their mission, pleasantly bid them search the place for liquor, which they unavailingly did—but it was there all the same. Coming from the west he knew the Indian down to the ground, and he used to delight the members at their sing-songs with imitations of the Indian dance interlarded with war-whoops that threatened to disturb the cogitations of the more sedate statesmen who were arguing or sleeping in the Commons chamber.

Sleeping! Well, they were not likely to be sleeping if William Paterson, of Brant, familiarly known as “Billy Paterson,” after the man who was struck by some unknown person, had the floor. Mr. Paterson was the possessor of the most thunderous voice in Parliament. It used to be said that he could be heard away down in the Rideau Club. One of Dr. Landerkin’s jokes at the expense of a new member was to arouse his interest in Mr. Paterson’s eloquence, and then advise him to occupy the seat immediately in front of Mr. Paterson, so that he could hear him well because he had such a poor voice. The newcomer usually fell for this, with the result that when Mr. Paterson was going under a full head of steam, the new arrival had to slink away in order to protect his ear drums. All the House watched the “freshie” as he selected his “good seat” in front of the orator, and loud was the laughter when, after a few vocal blasts from Billy Paterson, the astonished listener beat a hasty retreat.

“Billy” after being a Minister for some years decided to give a dinner to his Parliamentary friends of both Houses. The list was so lengthy that instead of one function there had to be two. By the “old-timers” they were acknowledged to have been the liveliest gatherings ever held in the old Parliamentary restaurant presided over by Sam Barnett. Mr. Paterson stipulated to “Jim” Sutherland, who was making the arrangements for him, that the dinner should be conducted on strictly temperance principles, but someone must have given Sam Barnett the wink. Scotch and rye were supplied in ginger ale bottles and within an hour there was more hilarity than one finds at ten ordinary banquets. Mr. Paterson was greatly pleased at the success of the function and remarked to Sir Richard Cartwright, who was sitting next to him at the first dinner: “Cartwright, I have always said you could get as much, or more, fun out of a temperance dinner than one where liquor is served; you have a demonstration of it to-night.” Sir Richard, who was wise to what was going on, smilingly acquiesced in the remark but refrained from enlightening his host. To the day of his death, Mr. Paterson never knew of the arrangements that Jim Sutherland and Bill Galliher had made to make the banquets a howling success.

Not Good Mixers.

Two members of the House, Hon. Edward Blake and Sir Richard Cartwright, were not “good mixers.” It is said of the former that when friend remonstrated with him for his chilliness towards his supporters and advised him to be more chummy with them, he asked what he was to do. “Why, be more sociable and crack a joke or two with them.” “How do you mean?” enquired Blake. “Well, for instance, it’s snowing out now, and if someone should pass a remark on the weather, you say ‘Oh, it’s snow matter.’ ” And sure enough a few days later a good Grit follower overtaking the Honorable Edward on the broad walk remarked that it had been snowing hard. Mr. Blake, suddenly remembering the pointer he had received about cracking a joke, but having forgotten the cue, promptly replied, “Oh, it’s quite immaterial.” Mr. Blake was a great lawyer—a much greater lawyer than he was a politician.

When Hansard “Mixed” Metaphors.

Sir Richard was a past-master of the art of invective; a scholarly speaker, his English was perfect, and he could flay a political opponent in five minutes by the clock. He also had a grim sense of humor, and when he spoke one day of “having dipped into the political Styx,” and it appeared in the unrevised edition of Hansard as “having dipped into the political Stinks,” he laughed as immoderately as he did when in another speech he referred to “the ancient Themistocles,” which Hansard transformed into “The ancient Peter Mitchell,” who had just previously passed away. He was a Tory of the old school until Sir Francis Hincks was appointed Finance Minister instead of another person whom he thought was better qualified for the position. A scholarly speaker and a deep thinker, his disposition was vitriolic. The second volume of his Memoirs was never printed for obvious reasons. Sir Richard was a constant sufferer from rheumatism which doubtless warped his disposition and made his utterances so bitter.

Some of the Other Good Fellows.

It is difficult to remember all the good fellows and their peculiarities at this length of time but I can recall handsome Hon. J. D. Hazen, Mr. C. N. Skinner, Major-General Hugh H. McLean and Hon. John Costigan from New Brunswick, who were popular on both sides of the House. Sir Douglas Hazen was afterwards premier of his native province, and now is ornamenting the bench; Sir Clifford Sifton, who inaugurated the first real immigration policy; Captain J. B. Labelle, from Richelieu, commander of the R. & O. steamer, Montreal, was a social lion and one of the best dressed men in the House. His son is General Labelle, of the Montreal Harbor Commission. Sir Adolphe Chapleau ranked among the most brilliant orators of that day, and Honorable C. C. Colby, of Stanstead, was one of the ablest lawyers in the House and personally was very popular, as was Donald MacMaster, now Sir Donald, a distinguished member of the British House of Commons. Then there were good old Billy Smith from South Ontario, still in the Parliamentary pink; George Guillet, from Northumberland, Ontario; Peter Mitchell, from Northumberland, N.B.; Colonel Tisdale, from South Norfolk; Dr. Ferguson, from Welland; Fred Hale, from Carleton, N.B.; J. A. Mara, James Reid, Thomas Earle, E. Crow Baker, who recently passed away, and the late E. G. Prior, recently Lt.-Gov. of British Columbia, from which Province they all came; Mahlon Cowan, the fighting man from Essex, Ont.; David Henderson of Halton; W. C. Edwards, from Russell, the real old genuine free trader of the house; Uriah Wilson, from Lennox, a member of high standing; Hon. John Haggart and Dr. Montague, he of the silver tongue, who were bosom friends, the latter coming to a tragic end in Winnipeg; George Taylor, the Tory whip from Gananoque; Josiah Wood, from Westmoreland, who owns a railway, was afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick and is father-in-law of Eddie Nichols, the newspaperman, of Winnipeg. A. W. Ross, the real estate boss, and W. F. McCreary from Manitoba; Hon. Tom Daly from Brandon, who, like his father, was a broth of a boy; Senator J. B. Plumb, from Niagara, a royal entertainer when Speaker of the Senate; Hon. John Carling, whose election contests with his brother-in-law in London were as fierce as any in the whole Dominion; big Duncan C. Fraser, the giant from Nova Scotia, who like A. G. Jones, another Nova Scotian member, who was charged with having said, “Haul down the flag” at Confederation, filled the position of Lieutenant-Governor of that Province; John V. Ellis from St. John, one of the ablest members of the House, whose newspaper, the Globe, still flourishes under the management of his son Frank; G. R. R. Cockburn, from Toronto, a fine type of an Old Country gentleman; Hon. Mr. Prefontaine, mayor of Montreal, who died in England; Jacques Bureau, whose life is devoted to politics and mirth and Ernest Lapointe; Billy Northrup, of Hastings, (now clerk of the House) a fighter from ’way back, like Billy Bennett of Simcoe; H. H. Cook—“I bet you Cook”—who claimed a toll of $10,000 was demanded of him to obtain a senatorship, which caused him to retire from his party of which he had previously been a staunch supporter.

Who could ever forget Major Tom Beatty, of London, whose death left a great blank that would be difficult to fill? Or Clarke Wallace, from York, as genial a soul as ever lived, whose successor in the House was his good-natured son, the late Capt. Tom? And there was Senator John Yeo, from Prince Edward Island, who for sixty-two years continuously has been a member either of the Legislature of the Island, or of the Commons or Senate of Canada. Then there was Dr. Platt, of Kingston, who was afterwards warden of the Portsmouth penitentiary, and declared that, owing to his official duties, he was the “closest confined person in the pen.” And Jim Metcalfe, who was a dead game sport of the political kind, came from Kingston too; and what shall I say of Hon. W. S. Fielding, the father of reciprocity, still an active member of the House? Or of Hon. James Domville, a meteoric member, still in active life in the Senate; of Kennedy Burns, of Gloucester, who owned the Caraquet Railway, that runs from Bathurst to Shippegan; of Dr. Reid, from Grenville, now Minister of Railways; of John F. Stairs and Thos. E. Kenny, of Halifax, the latter a West Indian merchant; of Harry Corby, from Belleville, who had no personal enemies; of Senator Billy Gibson from Lincoln; of poor George Moffatt of Restigouche, who at a convivial banquet where everything was Irish—tobacco, pipes, whiskey, potatoes and all—a little affair given by A. W. Ross, M.P. for Selkirk—entrusted me with an envelope to keep for him, in which was a draft for £5,000 sterling—George was always for “Safety first,” and he knew I would keep sober if anybody could; of W. G. Perley, father of Sir George Perley, Canada’s High Commissioner at London; of dear old Alex. McLaren, the Cheese King, and Rufus Stephenson from Kent, of Sir Louis Davies, now Chief Justice of Canada, who made rip-roaring speeches, and Al. Lefurgey and Donald Nicholson and Mr. McLean, from “The Island”, of Col. Owney Talbot from down Quebec way; of Alex. McKay, Adam Brown’s running mate from Hamilton, and wee Johnny Small, Toronto’s pet; of George W. Ganong, the Chocolate King from Charlotte, N.B., who was as sweet as his chocolates; of Henry Cargill and John Tolmie, two dear old friends from Bruce? And we all reverently doff our hats to that able statesman, Sir John Thompson, the only Conservative ever elected in Antigonish, who safely piloted the ship of state through troubled waters, and died a tragic death at Windsor Castle; and to Hon. J. J. C. Abbott, who controlled the destinies of Canada when rare statesmanship was needed. Mr. Abbott was one of the ablest lawyers that ever sat in the House, and to him was entrusted the preparation of the contract with the Canadian Pacific Railway Co., the consummation of which has been of the greatest value to the Dominion.

Memory also recalls the gallant Col. Williams, of Port Hope, who gave up his life on the banks of the Saskatchewan from fever in 1885; Big Rory Maclennan, the contractor, one of the world’s greatest athletes, Darby Bergin of Cornwall, John Moncrieff, of Simcoe, J. D. Edgar, of Toronto, Geo. H. Macdonnell, of Algoma, John White, of East Hastings, who, when fiercely attacked by Edward Blake, floored that gentleman completely by recalling how when the great Liberal leader had arrived at Quebec from an ocean voyage so engrossed was he in his political affairs that he left his poor wife to the tender mercies of his political opponent and that he had to neglect his own business to look after her. He also recalled a pathetic incident of the ocean trip when the Honorable Edward was leaning heavily over the taffrail of the ship, paying his devotions to Neptune, that he, John White, offered consolation and encouragement by timely advising him: “Let her go, my boy, let her go, there’s lots of room.” And base ingratitude was the return for his kindness.

Some Well-known Members.

Although I left the Press Gallery in the early 90’s my connection with it did not entirely cease, and I was frequently a visitor within its sacred precincts, and so, as new members came in, new friends were made. To mention them all would be impossible, but I remember kindly Hon. Rodolphe Lemieux, one of the best speakers on the Liberal side; Hon. Hugh Clarke, the inimitable wit from Kincardine, whose Scotch humor was infectious; Ed. Lewis, from Huron, who was eternally initiating new legislation; Clarence Jameson, from Digby, who could imitate Sir Robert Borden better than Sir Robert could himself; Billy Weichel from Kitchener, who was afterwards defeated because he wasn’t German enough for his constituents; A. C. Boyce, the bright boy from the Soo; Sir George Perley, from Argenteuil, who did great service for Canada in London during the war; J. G. Turriff, from Assiniboia, who afterwards became a Senator; Dr. Cash, from Qu’Appelle; Lloyd Harris and W. F. Cockshutt, from Brantford, two very prominent members; Col. Geo. H. Baker, from Brome, who gave up his life in the Great War; John Tolmie, from Bruce; Luggy McCarthy, R. B. Bennett and John Herron, amongst the brightest from the west; John Stanfield, the Government whip from Truro, and now a senator, and F. B. McCurdy, now a member of the Government; Billy Sloan and Herb. Clements, two genial gentlemen from Comox, Alberni; Speaker Rhodes and Hance Logan from Cumberland, N.S.; Theodore Burrows, an old friend from Dauphin, Manitoba; Andy Broder, the David Harum of the House from Dundas; A. B. Ingram and David Marshall from East Elgin, and Tom Crothers, afterwards Minister of Labor, from West Elgin; R. F. Sutherland, now Justice Sutherland, who is an ornament to the bench, and my old friend, Wm. McGregor, both from South Essex; the redoubtable Jim Conmee and his successor, J. J. Carrick, from Thunder Bay; A. B. Crosby, the late Senator, from Halifax, as was the late lamented Senator Dennis; Gus Porter from Hastings. Then there were my old friends Senator John Fisher, who defeated Billy Paterson; Wm. Harty, from Kingston; Fred Pardee, the genial Liberal whip from Lambton; Billy Buchanan, of Lethbridge; Bob McPherson from Vancouver; R. L. Richardson, of Lisgar, and Dr. Rutherford of Macdonald, Manitoba, who is efficient as a railway commissioner and proficient in the art of anecdotal side-splitters in the Scotch vernacular. There was also the fighting Liberal trio from the Maritime Provinces—William Pugsley, Ed. Macdonald and Frank Carvell. Then there was D. A. Macdowell and Tom Davis from Saskatchewan, Walter Scott and W. D. Perley from Assiniboia; Simon Cimon from Charlebois, and Hugh John Macdonald (now Sir Hugh), son of the chieftain, was as popular a member as ever sat in the House.

And who can forget Sam Hughes (now Sir Sam, but the same old Sam) who first came to the House in 1892? He was very vigorous and aggressive, and abuse him as you will, everybody will acknowledge that his feat of sending 33,000 well-equipped stalwart Canadian troops across the sea in two months was something few men could accomplish—and none other did.

For over half-a-century, the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada has existed. It will continue indefinitely, and while there may be carping criticism and factious condemnation of the powers that be, the average thoughtful citizen will credit the great majority of its members with being honestly endeavoring to legislate in what they conscientiously believe to be the best interests of the whole country.

Appointing a Governor.

If Warwick was a King Maker, I couldn’t say that while I didn’t aspire to be his rival, I wasn’t in his class. At any rate, I was the humble means of aiding in appointing Senator John Schultz to the Lieutenant-Governorship of Manitoba. I was in the Ottawa Press Gallery at the time, and in the course of my reportorial duties frequently met the Senator. One day, the question of the Governorship of Manitoba incidentally came up between us. This position had always been held by an eastern man, and of all the names mentioned as a possible appointee, none could be proved to be acceptable to the Manitobans, and this phase of the question arose.

“Why don’t you take it yourself, Senator?” I suggested.

“Haven’t a chance,” he replied.

“Not now, perhaps, but if you’ll accept it, wait till to-morrow.”

I knew that the Governorship was the Senator’s ambition, so when I reached the Press Gallery I told the boys that “Senator Schultz’s appointment to the Manitoba governorship was being favorably considered.” This was sent off to the different newspapers with a little stronger one to the Winnipeg Free Press, which had all along been antagonistic to the Senator, and it came out with a corking editorial in his favor. That settled it. The Conservative Government feared the Liberal Free Press more than any other western paper and the appointment was shortly afterwards made.

It was nothing but the solemn truth I told the press boys about the Senator’s elevation to the Governorship being favourably considered. Both he and I were favourably considering it, weren’t we?

Some One Blundered.

Apropos of the unrestricted reciprocity proposal introduced by Sir Richard Cartwright in 1888 it is interesting to recall the fact that reply to Sir Richard—the first speech in criticism of the reciprocity project—was delivered by Robert S. White, then, as now, editor in chief of the Montreal Gazette. “Bob” White was but a lad in those days, and had just succeeded his father as member for Cardwell. His speech, coming immediately after Sir Richard had concluded, was brimful of information regarding the trade of the country, and became the basis of the anti-reciprocity argument of later days.

While personal friendship refused to observe party lines, personal dislike often manifested itself among men who on the surface were political friends. Edward Blake and Sir Richard Cartwright, for instance, as has already been mentioned, were not at all friendly. Mr. Blake did not like Sir Richard’s unrestricted reciprocity proposition, and Sir Richard thought Mr. Blake overdid it when he made his great attack upon the Orange Bill on March 17. This Orange question, by the way, was a thorn in the side to more persons than one. Mr. McMullen found it to be such in his case during a bye-election in Wellington. On his way to the village in which he was to speak, a scoundrel told him he was going into quite a Catholic settlement. So he thought he would improve the opportunity thus presented to him to win a few votes by dwelling upon the attitude of the party towards the Orangemen. He had not gone far when he experienced a decided coolness on the part of the audience, following which there was an uproar which convinced him that “some one had blundered.”

On the Government side also there were divisions which threatened the party. Dalton McCarthy was forming his group which developed into the element that made it impossible for Sir Charles Tupper to go on with the Manitoba School bill in 1896. It was thought at the time that McCarthy was disgruntled because Sir John Thompson had been brought in over his head as Minister of Justice. That is merely what Dame Rumor said. Then, while the English-speaking section of the Conservative party was up against a possible division, the French section was not happy. The Chapleau wing was dissatisfied with the leadership of Sir Hector Langevin, and the long reign of that statesman was coming to an end. Everything seemed to be moving in the last session I was at Ottawa towards readjustment. And within a year the readjustment came. Sir John Macdonald died, in the middle of the following session, and Sir Hector went out as a result of a scandal.

The Wrong Hat.

Two bosom friends were Messrs. H. McMillan, of Vaudreuil, and J. C. Wilson, the paper manufacturer, who represented Argenteuil. They were a second edition of Damon and Pythias, the only difference being that these Canadians always wore shiny plug hats and D. and P. didn’t. But one day, at the Russell House, when Mac didn’t arrive by the usual train, his room was temporarily given to Mr. Wilson, who retired, and was enjoying a snooze when his colleague came on the scene, a little annoyed at not being able to procure a room, and specially this particular room of his. So he awoke Mr. Wilson, and told him to get out, and at once threw his valise out through the doorway into the corridor, which was followed by his umbrella and his cane and finally by a plug hat which was smashed beyond repair by its contact with the opposite wall. Mr. Wilson laughed heartily, and quickly grabbed the other plug. When Mac wanted to know “what in thunder” was the cause of so much hilarity he was blandly informed that in his anger he had, in mistake, thrown out his own hat, whereupon they adjourned to the Russell bar and hostilities ceased.

A Telephone for Each Language.

Hon. Joseph Royal, a brilliant politician, sat in the House at the time I am writing of, and was afterwards elevated to the Lieut.-Governorship of the Northwest Territories, as was Charlie McIntosh, the urbane editor of the Ottawa Citizen, who was one of the cleverest writers on the Canadian press. Hon. A. A. C. Larvière, afterwards a senator, also came from Manitoba, where, in the local legislature, he had been a Cabinet Minister. He once nearly had to defend himself against the very grave charge of having two telephones in his office, but he was saved the trouble by Kenneth Mackenzie, an out-and-out Grit, who came to his rescue and claimed the minister was perfectly justified in having two telephones—one to talk through in English and the other in French—and this convinced the House.

Old-timers often compare present day members with those of Parliament when there were notable outstanding figures like Macdonald, George Brown, Tilley, Tupper, Mowat, Howe, Cartwright, Chapleau—and wonder whether their successors are of lighter calibre, or if the people have grown up nearer to their standard. If I were asked my own opinion, I would truthfully say, I really don’t know. But Parliament during the time I was at Ottawa and was able to take observations was composed of great men—the pick of the intelligence and progressiveness of the Dominion—men of whom any country might be justly proud. Most of them have gone; but their work, the completed Canada, remains, and is their best monument.



The Great Northern Giant—The Early Days of the

C.P.R. and its Big Promoters—Where the Aristocracy

of Brains Ruled—A Huge Undertaking

and a Broad Policy—A Conspicuously Canadian

Enterprise—Something About the

Men Who Ruled—My Fidus Achates—Captains

Courageous—The Active Men

of To-Day—And Interesting Facts

About the C. P. R.

The completion of the Canadian Pacific railway placed Canada prominently on the map of the world and magically transformed a widely scattered Dominion into a prosperous and progressive nation.

It was in 1857—sixty-four years ago—that the search for a path across British North America was begun by the British Government. Other schemes had been promulgated which involved a diversion through the United States to avoid the rock-bound north shore of Lake Superior, and the St. Paul and Pacific railway was projected to connect the Minnesota city with the Pacific coast through the prairies and mountains of Canada. But it was to be an all-Canadian route, and in the early days of its construction a policy of utilizing the waterways was adopted—a futile one in the light of after events. The building of 3,000 miles partly through an unknown territory was a gigantic undertaking, and the very boldness of the scheme engendered a feeling of doubt which was only dispelled by the inexorable logic of facts.

The great national work was first assumed by the Federal government, but on February 15th, 1881—just forty years ago—a charter was granted to the Canadian Pacific railway company, and through that company’s untiring energy, unceasing efforts, unflagging perseverance and boundless faith in the undertaking, the success of the great work was completely assured. Ten years were specified for the completion of the railway; in five years—and five years ahead of the contract time—the road was completed from ocean to ocean.

The marvellously rapid construction of the road was one of the grandest achievements of the age. The engineering difficulties were appalling. The granite hills of the east and the fastnesses of the Rockies were pierced, and river, lagoon, coulee, morass, rocky defile and broad stretching prairie were crossed and covered with an iron trail, over which daily speeds the iron horse with its long train of heavily laden coaches.

Big Undertaking, Broad Policy.

For completing this herculean task, the present company was given a subsidy of $25,000,000 and 25,000,000 acres of land, the larger portion of which was practically worthless then, owing to its inaccessibility. This land grant has been frequently quoted as a munificent gift to the Company by the people of Canada. Its greatly enhanced value, however, is attributable to the inauguration of a liberal immigration policy by the C.P.R. and the expenditure of millions of dollars in advertising and peopling the land. In its early days, the company was at times sorely pressed financially, but through wise administration and careful management, its difficulties completely disappeared and to-day—well, it’s the “C.P.R.,” of which in former times its worst detractors at home were when abroad the loudest boasters about its marvellous success.

The policy of the company has of necessity been somewhat broader, by reason of the variety of its activities, than that of a purely railway enterprise, and, under Lord Mount Stephen, Sir William Van Horne and Lord Shaughnessy, its affairs have been administered with what Sir John Willison terms “A Nation Vision,” and this is largely responsible not only for the company’s own success, but for the unique position which it occupies in Canada and abroad. In fact, it was due largely to this broadness of view that the company’s prestige in America, England and Europe has reached such a high pinnacle. If there was anything necessary to add to this it was the extra-ordinarily important work which the company was privileged to do during the late war, involving activities so numerous as to be beyond the scope of any ordinary enterprise. The company had more points of contact with the war than any other enterprise outside of Great Britain.

It is now in the fortieth year of its existence, and has had four presidents during that period—Lord Mount Stephen, who occupied the position for seven years; Sir William Van Horne for eleven years, Lord Shaughnessy for nineteen years; and the present incumbent for two and a half years.

The company was fortunate in possessing chief executives whose personal qualities and official abilities were such as to make them specially fitted for the problems which had to be met during their particular term of office. It is safe to say, however, that the problems of to-day are without parallel in the previous history of the company, and therefore require different methods and different men.

Conspicuously Canadian.

The policy of the future will be an extension of the policies of the past, namely that the company should be a good citizen of Canada, which means contributing to Canada’s advancement and its own success, and taking, as it always has, its share of the country’s burden. In this democratic age it is possible that methods may be adopted which would not be thought of in previous times. It is certain that the company and its patrons will be closer together than ever before, because a greater mutual understanding is necessary if the unique problems of the present time are to be dealt with satisfactorily.

Historically, that’s pretty nearly all that is going to be said about the Canadian Pacific Railway, except that when rail communication was established between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in November, 1886, the company had 4,306 miles of track. To-day it operates or controls more than 18,000 miles. That’s going some. But it’s not all. A magnificent ocean service has been established on the Atlantic and the Pacific, and on the inland lakes and rivers of Canada its craft ply. It has become the “World’s Greatest Highway,” carrying the traffic of three continents. It lodges and feeds globe-trotters, so that a person may travel from Great Britain to China and Japan exclusively under its protecting care, on its trains, ships and hotels. It has developed fishing, mining, agricultural, immigration, forestry and other resources and industries. It is not a mere transportation company, as all railways were before its construction. It is an Empire builder.

Let me speak now of those courageous captains of industry to whose activities and counsel are due the great success which has crowned their indefatigable efforts to make the Canadian Pacific the wonder of the world.

The First President.

George Stephen—now Lord Mount Stephen—who came to Montreal from Scotland, an unknown youth, was its first president. He was an earnest worker and a wise counsellor, as was his fellow director, R. B. Angus. In all the hazardous conditions and financial worries of his presidency he never lost heart. He, with his co-workers, pledged their entire fortunes to ensure the company’s very existence. There were dark days, darker perhaps than the world will ever realize, with apparently a hopeless future to face, but their courage never failed them. Their grandest monument is the C.P.R.

Lord Mount Stephen was possessed of that caution which is proverbial of the Scotch. His was a broad mind and a far-seeing vision, dependable in any emergency; self-sacrificing and thoughtful of others. He was of a modest, retiring disposition and his favorite sport was fishing in his salmon pools in New Brunswick. Like infinitely few others he did not accumulate his great wealth exclusively for his own personal enjoyment, but years ago generously gave large sums and valuable properties to those of his kin. None were overlooked. He is spending the evening of his life at Brocket Hall in his native land. His large statue in Windsor Street station is a testimony of his life’s work—a mute reminder for years to come that to him Canada owes a debt of gratitude it never can repay.

A Temporary President.

The C.P.R. once had a temporary president in the person of Rev. Father Lacombe, O.M.I., the well-beloved missionary of the farther west. The arrival of the first through train from Winnipeg to Calgary was the occasion. At luncheon in President Stephen’s private car, at which were several directors and Father Lacombe, it was playfully suggested that in recognition of his invaluable services during the building of the road through an unknown country, largely peopled by savages, the good priest should be elevated to the presidency of the C.P.R. An emergency meeting of the directors was hastily called. Mr. Stephen resigned his office, and Father Lacombe was elected in his stead. His term of office lasted exactly one hour, during which he installed Mr. Van Horne as general manager, but did not enunciate any particular policy, and gracefully retired without drawing his salary. Then Mr. Stephen was reinstalled as president.

Sir William Van Horne.

Prominent amongst the men connected with the construction and completion of the C.P.R. was Sir William Van Horne, who was the first general manager of the road, and afterwards succeeded Sir George Stephen in the presidency. To splendid personal executive ability, indomitable perseverance and wide experience are largely due the great successes which crowned his unceasing labors. Sir William was unconventionality personified, and whether in his palatial residence in Montreal or at his desk or in his private car, was a perfect host.

He was a man of great versatility—a railroad organizer, practical engineer, surveyor, electrician, antiquarian, painter, author, geologist, botanist and student of history and men and a mind-reader. He generally was seen in private with a long Havana cigar in his mouth, and he usually accentuated his language by extra big puffs of circling cigar smoke. The construction of the C.P.R. within five years of its inception now seems to have been an impossible task, but it was accomplished, and accomplished under frequently most discouraging conditions. After he had resigned the presidency in 1899, instead of retiring from active life, he built another line of railway which traversed the island of Cuba.

Sir William loved to indulge in reminiscenses, and dwell on the hardships of early days. One story he delighted in telling was of the dark days of ’84, when Jack Frost had played hob with the wheat crop of the west. Grain was selling at a mere song and to increase the price, Alex Mitchell, an experienced grain man of Montreal, was sent up to Winnipeg by the C.P.R., but not publicly as a representative of the company. On his arrival, prices took a jump upwards and he bought and bought and kept on buying until all the available storage facilities could hold no more, and the wheat was stacked in bags or dumped in huge piles at stations. The enemies of the C.P.R.—and there were lots of kickers in those days—not knowing the circumstances—had these piles of wheat photographed, and sent all over the country to show the awful extremity of the farmers and their ill-treatment by the C.P.R. And—yes, it was C.P.R. wheat all the time.

He Helped Make History.

When the Riel rebellion broke out in the early spring of ’85 the C.P.R. was not completed and the troops from the east could not be sent through the United States. The gaps between the two ends of the track on the north shore of Lake Superior aggregated many miles, and the weather was severe. But Sir William’s genius was greatly in evidence. He ordered all the construction gangs to make their sleighs as comfortable as possible with straw and blankets, and established camps at convenient distances, where coffee and a bite to eat were freely dispensed. Without any particular hardship the eastern volunteers were carried over the gap, and the much-needed reinforcements to the western troops hurriedly forwarded, by which means the rebellion was more quickly suppressed.

Having a keen sense of humor, once he built a spur-line from near the station at Winnipeg, to Silver Heights, a summer residence of Sir Donald Smith, afterwards Lord Strathcona. When that personage arrived one day shortly after, and wanted to leave the car at Winnipeg, he was asked to remain. When the special train ran over the new track for a while Sir Donald noticed familiar objects, and when he reached Silver Heights, he grasped his head and wondered if he had gone crazy. He couldn’t understand that where there had been no railway track before there was one now.

A Well Informed Porter.

Jimmy French was Sir William’s faithful porter on the private car “Saskatchewan,” and Jimmy was a character. One day, down at St. John, en route to Sydney, Cape Breton, a couple of newspaper reporters unceremoniously rushed into the car seeking an interview and met Jimmy.

“Where’s Sir William, and where is he going?”

“Don’ you peoples know that a privat’ cah’s a man’s house, and you wouldn’t go inta a genleman’s house without rappin’, now would ya?” indignantly demanded Jimmy.

The reporters mollified him, and then Jimmy enlightened them: “Don’ know where Sir William is, but I do know he’s goin’ down fishin’ to Great Britain.”

Another time when Hon. Edward Blake, who had been retained by the company in an important case in British Columbia, accompanied Sir William in his car to the Pacific coast, Jimmy, whose ordinary language was somewhat lurid, had been warned not to use any cuss words in Mr. Blake’s presence, as he was a very religious man, and abhorred profanity. All went well, until at a divisional point in the west, the car was being watered. By some accident, the water went the wrong way, and instead of filling the tanks, deluged Jimmy, who thereupon broke out in a violent torrent of abuse and consigned the culprit to the lowest depths of the sultry place, where, they say, there is eternal punishment. The air was blue. Being over-heard, he was taken to task for his pyrotechnical language, and ordered by Sir William to apologize to Mr. Blake. Jimmy was in a bad fix, and thought thoughts, but didn’t go near Mr. Blake. Finally he was commanded to apologize, and he went meekly to Mr. Blake and penitently began the apology.



“I’m sorry, Mistah Blake, that I swore and cussed as I did, an’ I’ve gotta ’pologize, but ye see, Mistah Blake, that blankety, blank son of a black, blank his blank eyes, soaked me good an’ hard wif’ his blankety blank ol’ water an’—”

But he got no further, for Mr. Blake, convulsed with laughter, said it was all right. And Jimmy told me afterwards that it was a hell of an apology.

Early Advertising.

When the passenger service of the C.P.R. was inaugurated, the citizens of Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and other large centres were puzzled and astonished one morning on seeing numerous billboards decorated with streamers on which were printed: “Said the Prince to the Duke: ‘How high we live on the C.P.R.’ ” and “What the Duke said to the Prince: ‘All sensible people travel by the C.P.R.’ ” “Parisian Politeness on the C.P.R.” “Great Salome on the C.P.R.” “Wise Men of the East Go West on the C.P.R.” and “By Thunder-Bay passes the C.P.R.,” the final four words of the latter being in comparatively small type.

They created quite a little stir at the time, being something novel in advertising. Twenty-five years later an advertising man recalled the advertisements and gave as his opinion that they were no good, and also intimated that they were really idiotic. “And yet you remember them for a quarter of a century?” I asked. “They must have been pretty good advertising.”

And they were.

His Work in Cuba.

At the time that Sir William Van Horne was constructing his railroad in Cuba, the “Foracker Resolution” was in force, and its terms prohibited any public concession to build railroads or other public works during the life of the U.S. Interventory Government. In spite of this, however, Sir William went ahead with the Cuba railroad, by getting private right-of-way agreements with owners of land over which the railroad was to run. He skipped all public roads and lands, and at the conclusion of the office of the Interventory Government, the Cuban Administration authorized the road so that the missing stretches were constructed, and the road went into operation almost immediately.

When Sir William was constructing this railroad, he decided to install a typical railroad hotel in Camaguey, and with his keen eye for detail he had an idea for its decoration.

“Why not fit up one of the parlors,” said he, “with panellings of the beautiful native woods of the island? It seems to me that such a room would interest visitors greatly, and give a handsome effect.”

His suggestion was carried out to the letter. Next time he arrived in Camaguey the hotel was practically complete, and Sir William recollected his hardwood room and expressed a desire to see it. There was a singular lack of enthusiasm on the part of the officials, and they didn’t make any effort to hurry out Sir William, who was deaf, dumb and blind to the beauty of the weather, the excellence of the service, and the sudden death of anybody’s great-grandmother. He wanted to see that hardwood room, and with drooping eyes and ears, everybody, checkmated, led him to it.

It had been panelled in all the different varieties of beautiful native hardwoods, according to schedule, from ceiling to floor. It had given a beautiful effect, as Sir William had foreseen. And then a gang of native painters, putting finishing touches on halls and corridors, had wandered in, observed its painlessness, and given it two heavy coats of ivory white.

Like the black on a colored person, it wouldn’t wash off, and ivory-white that parlor still is and provoked Sir William’s great disgust to his dying day.

When Sir William passed away, there was general sorrow, and a feeling that in his death Canada and the world had lost a great man whose name will live in history.

Lord Shaughnessy.

T. G. Shaughnessy was the natural and logical successor to the presidency. He had made a name and acquired distinction in railway circles through the great purchasing system which he formulated, and which, by the way, was adopted by the city of New York. It had been a life’s study with him, and beginning at the age of fifteen with the Milwaukee road, he quickly rose in the service and was selected in 1882 to take charge of the purchasing department of the C.P.R. In two years he was made assistant to the general manager, and in five became assistant to the president. In 1891 he became a director and vice-president. Then came the presidency to him in less than eight years, and with it honors from the King, who created him a Knight Bachelor, a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order, and greatest of all, a Peer of the Realm—Baron Shaughnessy, K.C.V.O., of Montreal, Canada, and of Ashford, County Limerick, Ireland. In another way he has gained an equally high distinction in that of being “the greatest living Canadian,” as he is claimed to be by those who, knowing him best, appreciate his many estimable qualities of head and heart, his great executive ability, his unerring business judgment, his untiring energy, and his undoubted honesty and integrity. He ever enjoyed the fullest confidence of his board of directors and of his subordinates, and was always “the court of last resort” in cases of disagreement between the company and its employees, owing to his high sense of honor and fair play.

While Lord Shaughnessy has acquired wealth, it was not for money alone he labored unceasingly, but from an earnest and honest endeavor to benefit Canada, through making his railroad a powerful factor in its development. Many instances could be given where the interests of the country overshadowed those of the company, and Lord Shaughnessy never hesitated a moment as to what course to pursue when duty called. For instance, during the continued strikes some years ago in the western coal mines, there was every prospect of a dire scarcity of coal on the prairies. Regardless of cost, he instructed that hundreds of thousands of tons of Pennsylvania anthracite should be purchased and distributed at advantageous points to furnish the settlers with fuel should the threatened shortage materialize. Fortunately, the strikes were called off just in time to avert the impending catastrophe, but to ensure the settlers an ample supply, the C.P.R. refused to buy the cheaper coal at the mines, and utilized its own more costly supply. And this cost the company a round million of dollars. But it would have saved many a settler from perishing on the prairies had not the strikes been settled.

Lord Shaughnessy’s Big Heart.

Maintaining the strictest discipline, usually dignified, he was one of the kindest of men, and frequently looked leniently upon the errors of omission and commission of those under him. His generosity was unbounded, and in helping many a “lame dog over the stile”—well, that was a matter solely between the benefactor and the benefited. His home life has always been an ideal one, with Lady Shaughnessy an able and kindly helpmate, and dutiful children to brighten the hearth. But, as in the case of many another household, keen, bitter sorrow has entered. I shall never forget when the news came of the tragic death of his son, Fred, who lost his life in the defence of his country in France in 1916, how rapidly the heart-broken father had aged, and how sympathetically he grasped my hand, and with tear-dimmed eyes recalled memories of the dead boy, of whom I, too, was especially fond. Poor, dear Fred, his memory will linger long with many, for he was a bright cheerful lad—we always looked upon him as a boy—with many admirable qualities. Nor shall I ever forget his coming to me when he was in the service of the C.P.R., and bemoaning his fate. “It’s awful,” he would say to me, “to be the president’s son. Of course, I don’t mind obeying the rules and regulations of the company, and I work the same hours as anybody else, but hang it all, it’s a constant complaint that I am favored because I am the president’s son, when, perhaps, I am favored less than the others. Why, father wouldn’t allow it. I am going to quit.”

And he did.

Of a naturally modest, retiring disposition, except when aggressiveness demanded other qualities, Lord Shaughnessy disliked the limelight into which his prominence in social and business circles forced him, and I doubt if he did not enjoy a quiet game of solitaire or a few hours on the links far better than he did the great glittering banqueting board or other public festivities. He is an ideal host, and enjoys having companionable people with him. I remember meeting him one morning when the Eucharistic Congress was being held in Montreal. He wore a bright cheery smile and laughingly remarked: “Yes, I had a very pleasant morning. Met Cardinal Gibbons and Archbishop Ireland at the station and drove them to my house. When we arrived there, the Cardinal kindly remarked, ‘Make yourself at home, Shaughnessy, we are.’ ”

It was that little touch of human nature that appealed to him.

He Eschewed Public Honors.

Although closely and prominently connected with many public movements, especially those of a patriotic and charitable character, an exceptionally able and forcible speaker, with a full knowledge of the world’s affairs, Lord Shaughnessy could never be induced to enter political life, although he was frequently approached with tempting offers to devote himself to public affairs. He could have at different times been a Cabinet Minister or the leader of the Opposition, but he invariably declined. The presidency of the C.P.R. was the height of his ambition. Besides, between you and me, his ideas of how governments should be run—on strictly business principles—would probably not have retained the staunch support of the practical politician and the ward healer and others of that stripe. This incident may give an idea of his attitude:



In 1911, several weeks before the general election, a telegram—prompted, no doubt, by the appearance of Sir William Van Horne at several of the Conservative meetings—was received from an Ontario news agency. It read:

“Sir Thos. Shaughnessy,


“Reported here that ‘C.P.’ behind anti-reciprocity movement. Is this correct?”

Without a moment’s hesitation the following reply was dictated and sent off:

“Yes! ‘C.P.’ behind anti-reciprocity movement—‘Canadian People.’ T. G. Shaughnessy.”

He held pronounced views on the temperance question, and, while not by any means a total abstainer, believed that intoxicants should be greatly restricted and sparingly used. When the Montreal Witness attacked the C.P.R. for selling liquor on its dining-cars, I called upon my good friend, John Dougall, the editor of that paper, and explained that the flask had almost entirely disappeared from the smoking-rooms in the trains through passengers being able to get a drink in the diner. It was the same old story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit. My argument was that the C.P.R. was as great a temperance reformer as any temperance organization, for no trainman was allowed to go on his run if there was the slightest taint of liquor on his breath, and sobriety was required of all employees when on duty. Besides, when one happened to fall from grace, he was called on the carpet, and a repetition of his offence was punished with dismissal. Then I instanced that once, out at Moose Jaw, when Lord Shaughnessy saw some trainmen entering the bar at the company’s hotel, he called to Sir William Whyte: “Whyte close that bar.” Several hours passed and Lord Shaughnessy noticed that the bar was still open. Calling Sir William, he sharply said: “Whyte, I told you to close that bar. Why wasn’t it closed?”

“I am going to do so to-night at closing time.”

“No, you’re not. Close it now.”

And it was closed instanter.

His Repartee Like Rapier Thrust.

With the sole object of encouraging the thoroughbred horse industry in the Province of Quebec, Lord Shaughnessy not only became a member of the then newly-formed Montreal Jockey Club, but also imported a fashionably-bred race mare. Although highly recommended this mare “Silk Hose” finished in most of her races a very bad last. In one when she had galloped past the stand probably thirty lengths behind the other starters, Charles M. Hays, then president of the G.T.R., who was standing beside Lord Shaughnessy, remarked, “That’s a fast mare you have, Shaughnessy.”

“Yes,” replied Lord Shaughnessy, “she’s about as fast as a Grand Trunk train.”

After her unsuccessful racing career, “Silk Hose” was placed in the stud. Her first foal, a filly named “Lisle Hose,” seemed to inherit the mother’s hoo-doo. She became ill as a yearling; was sick as a two-year-old, and the following season—died. The morning after she “kicked out,” Tom Callary, his secretary, told his lordship that he had bad news for him. “What is it?” he asked. “The trainer has just told me that the filly died last night—”

“That’s not bad news,” replied Lord Shaughnessy. “That’s good news; we won’t have to feed the blessed thing any longer, will we?”

When her second foal—this one a colt—became sick also as a two-year-old, and was thereby unable to race; and when, the following spring—unlike the maple trees—he did not show the least inclination to run, Lord Shaughnessy told Callary to do whatever he pleased with the colt. This colt, that had been named “Silk Bird,” eventually got to the races. Before the first start his secretary informed Lord Shaughnessy that he thought the colt had a good chance to win.

“What is it,” asked his lordship, “a walking race?”

He never could be persuaded to make a bet, remarking on one occasion “that he wouldn’t bet on that horse even if it were alone in the race.” And yet this colt, probably the best thoroughbred raised in the Province of Quebec, won, not only his first start but also nine or ten other races, including the King’s Plate of 1916. But the winnings of that season, that should have gone to recoup the losses sustained during the several lean years, were distributed under his Lordship’s direction, to the hospitals and charitable institutions most in need at the time. Many people must have wondered when they saw the name “Silk Bird” amongst the lists of subscribers, more especially as the contributions were rather “hefty.” And then to cap all, and, as it were, to make it unanimous, his Lordship gave away the colt.

As I stated previously, Lord Shaughnessy absolutely refused to bet on the chances of his colt, but there were employees by the score who backed “the C.P.R. horse,” (as he was known throughout the country) at every start. And as he won with prices ranging against him from “evens” to as high as forty-to-one, his supporters, unlike his owner, came out well ahead. No better indication could be had of the loyalty to, and affection for, “the big boss,” than by the manner in which all those under his Lordship pulled so whole-heartedly and so consistently, in good years and in bad, for the success of the Shaughnessy colors—old gold and scarlet—whenever and wherever they appeared on the Canadian tracks. On race days the secretary was bombarded with telephone calls from vice-presidents right down to call boys, enquiring as to the colt’s chances, his condition, the name of the jockey, etc., etc. But Lord Shaughnessy knew nothing of this very important feature of his secretary’s duties.

Hats Off to the Chief.

When Lord Shaughnessy relinquished the presidency, he became chairman of the board, and is to be found in his office every week-day when in town, maintaining an active interest in the affairs of the company. When his successor was appointed, Lord Shaughnessy, much to Mr. Beatty’s chagrin, insisted upon changing offices with him, and the new president reluctantly took possession of the more pretentious quarters. The next day there was a presentation of a silver shield which Lord Shaughnessy had given to the Order of St. John’s Ambulance Association. It took place in the board room of the Windsor Street Station. The ex-president was a few minutes late, and he cheerfully apologized, quaintly adding: “But it makes no difference. I am only a supernumerary now.” And that showed the kind of man Lord Shaughnessy is.

Beloved by all, with an affection that permeates the ranks from the higher to the lower grades, still in harness, Lord Shaughnessy’s evening of life is pleasantly passed, and the hope is fervently expressed, not only by those who have grown grey in the service, but by thousands of others, that the “T.G.” of years ago, of “Mr. President,” of “Sir Thomas” and “My Lord” will long remain to be the “guide, philosopher and friend” of those, who, like myself, have learned his actual worth, fully realize the true nobility of his character, and fondly cherish the inspiring memories of his unfailing loyalty and deep-rooted affection and friendship.

Hats off to the Chief, boys, hats off!

The Present President.

If I were writing an article about a man, in which I was desirous of exposing the intimate characteristics not generally known, I think I would start with the fundamentals of character, ability and the most obsolete virtue of modesty. I would then pass on to the consideration of other personal qualities, such as humanness, sense of humor and magnetism, and I would tell the extent to which they existed in the subject of the sketch. The next step would be to give instances indicating the possession of the characteristics described, and, if anything further were necessary, I would allow the reader to assume some of the characteristics from the number of activities not connected with his official position that he indulged in.

There is a great deal to be said of the presiding genius of the C.P.R. in this way. To be the youngest president of the greatest transportation company in the world is something to be proud of. But Edward Wentworth Beatty would be the very last one to boast of that or any of the other high honors that have been showered upon him. Why his head wasn’t turned at the overwhelming, fulsome flattery and never-ending high compliments and congratulations and beautiful bouquets that were lavishly thrown at him by voice and pen, is a wonder to those who do not know the man. It could be said that a mighty big percentage of ordinary humanity would have at once affected an English accent, donned a monocle and taken to spats. He didn’t even flicker an eyelash. He must have attended scores upon scores of schools in his youth, and spent most of his time playing football all over the universe, for I have met a mighty multitude of his school-fellows, and a regular regiment of brother chasers of the pigskin, every blessed one of whom claims to know him well. All this doesn’t faze him either. He keeps on the even tenor of his way serenely, familiarly calls his close associates by their first names and is far more approachable than the average man in a similar position of lofty responsibilities. High honors have not affected him in the slightest. He has the same old familiar spirit of his youth and early manhood, with all the same kindly good-natured characteristics and the same creditable creed——to do well whatever there is to be done. He is the “Prince Eddie of Wales of the C.P.R. and of Canada.”

His Father a Transportation Pioneer.

Born in Thorold, Ontario, on October 16, 1877, his father being Henry Beatty, a well-known steamboat man on the Great Lakes, whose steamers of the Beatty Line were amongst the pioneers of navigation on those inland waters, his early youth was spent at Thorold, where he was an apt scholar in the town school. At ten years of age his family moved to Toronto where he attended the Model School, Harbord Collegiate, Toronto University and Osgoode Hall, and in 1898 was articled as a law student with the law firm of McCarthy, Osler, Hoskin & Creelman. On the appointment of the last named as chief counsel of the C.P.R. at Montreal in 1901, Mr. Beatty went with him and five years later was appointed his assistant. He was elevated to the chief solicitorship in 1910. Four years later, on the retirement of Mr. Creelman, he succeeded to the office of chief counsel, and also made a vice-president of the company. Mr. Beatty’s high ability had already been fully recognized, and on Lord Shaughnessy’s retirement, he was chosen to succeed him. Everyone will candidly admit that it is a difficult task to fill Lord Shaughnessy’s shoes, but the ex-president will as candidly admit that they fit his successor admirably.


E. W. BEATTY, K.C. President of the C.P.R.

The president makes no pretence to oratory, but he is a forceful public speaker, who says what he means clearly and succinctly, and has the magnetism to hold his audience deeply interested. The kind of speech that he makes is one that is frequently punctuated with applause, and his enthusiastic reception on rising is invariably magnified into an ovation when he closes his peroration. He always catches the crowd. He has no fads, and, well, he just has an old head on young shoulders. He still enjoys witnessing athletic sports which he indulged in during his boyhood days, likes a good play at the theatre, though I am afraid grand opera may be a little too much for him, delights in a horse race, and plays solitaire and other card games which require four or more players. He still pays the bachelor tax, and I don’t believe he would refuse a drink of Scotch in Quebec or British Columbia, but he wouldn’t chase off to Mexico or Cuba to get one. His politics are “Canada and the Canadian Pacific Railway.” He enjoys the unbounded confidence of his large circle of friends, and the 100,000 officials and employees of the company look to him as one pre-eminently fitted to fill the high position which came to him because of his great personality, clean forceful character, and his many estimable qualities of head and heart.

David McNicoll of the Old Guard.

Amongst the old guard of the C.P.R. the name of David McNicoll will long be remembered. He was with the company almost since its inception, joining the staff in 1883. He had previous railway experience in Scotland and in Canada, to which country he came when a young man, and when he joined the C.P.R., at the age of thirty-one years, his energy and ambition found the vent they could not find in the positions he had previously occupied. Passenger agent, passenger traffic manager, assistant general manager, vice-president and general manager, he graduated from the comparatively humble position to that in which he exerted plenary authority, and always to the advantage of the company.

His judgment was sound, his observation keen, his knowledge of the C.P.R. in all its ramifications remarkable; his perspicacity notable. Close to his desk was a series of maps. These he studied by the hour when a policy of expansion was to be decided upon. He knew every bit of rail on the system; he made the west his familiar companion; he was wedded to the great corporation to which he gave his best powers. A tireless worker, he never spared himself, and mastered even the minutest detail in all his labors, and it was this constant attention to his duties that broke his health. While generous to a fault, he had full possession of the proverbial Scotch thrift, so that no one was surprised when it was told of him that in a certain office there were five clerks and only four desks, and another desk was required, he wanted to know if it wouldn’t be better to fire the extra clerk instead of buying a new desk. He had also Scotch reliance and determination, and was a hard man to bluff.

A bank manager, with a real or fancied grievance, angrily bounced into his office one day and threatened that if a certain thing wasn’t done and done P.D.Q., he would give orders that not a single passenger or pound of freight, or express parcel or telegraph message would be given to the C.P.R.

“Well, sir,” replied Mr. McNicoll, “Just let me know when you issue that order, will you, and I’ll issue an order to all C.P.R. agents to refuse the bills of your confounded old bank.”

The bank manager discreetly pulled in his horns.

Mr. McNicoll was one of the builders of the C.P.R., and he should be accorded a fair measure of the glory which attaches to those who helped to bring the company up to its present proud position.

Vice-President Ogden.

Prominent among the high officials is I. G. Ogden, who is known as the financial genius of the C.P.R. During his long connection with the company, dating from 1881, forty years ago, when he started as auditor on western lines, with headquarters at Winnipeg, until to-day, when he is vice-president in charge of finances, Mr. Ogden has steadily risen in official positions. In 1883 he was appointed auditor for the entire system, in 1887 was comptroller, and in 1901 became vice-president. There is no more popular official in the company’s service, and many a grateful heart there is for his help in hour of financial depression. Of his abilities—why, he wouldn’t have been where he is if he were not big enough for the job. Of course, he is not as young as he used to be, but his years fall lightly upon him, and he trips along the corridors as if he were a care-free lad, and tackles large questions with a full knowledge of the details and great comprehension of his responsibility.

“I.G.,” whose initials on the corner of a cheque and at the bottom of many a pay roll have disseminated happiness and sunshine to thousands, was honored by having the immense Ogden works near Calgary named after him. He doesn’t take very many holidays, but when he does the waters of the Rideau Lakes are considerably lowered by the big catches he pulls out at his camp on the shores of that lake. Mr. Ogden has always surrounded himself by capable men like John Leslie, the kindly and always tactful Comptroller, W. J. Moule, whose untimely death was a distinct loss to the Company, H. L. Penny, Ernie Lloyd, J. H. Shearing, C. J. Flanagan, Jim Steele, Charley Black, the late F. E. Shrimpton, G. C. Gahan; the affable and evergreen George Jackson, W. J. Percival, W. H. Langridge, H. J. Dalton, W. M. Taylor, E. J. Bulgin, W. H. Blackaller, W. J. Sudcliffe, E. Emery, W. J. Cherry, B. Arnum, R. Urwin, and others who have grown old or are getting gray-haired in the Accounting department.

In the early evening of his life—because years do not always make age with some—he is as genial and jovial as ever, with a keen appreciation of the humorous. His frequent sallies always provoke laughter. One of his best was when some time after the formation of the Montreal millionaire club, the Mount Royal, which led to the desertion of some of the habitués of the well-known fashionable St. James’ Club for the new attraction, one day a friend, who had been conspicuous by his absence from the St. James and presence at the Mount Royal, dropped in casually at the former, and when Mr. Ogden saw him gaily greeted him with, “Hello, old man, slumming again?”


I. G. OGDEN          D. McNICHOLL

Mr. Ogden is an indefatigable worker, and seldom is away from his office unless called to New York or elsewhere on business—or to Rideau Lake.

My “Fidus Achates.”

There could be no warmer friend or congenial spirit or lovable companion than William Stitt, general passenger agent of the C.P.R., who represented the company in Winnipeg and Montreal and for several years in Sydney, Australia. He had a great personality, was generous to a fault, and had a happy knack of making and keeping friends. A pleasant-faced Scotchman from Kirkcudbrightshire, which he always contended I could never pronounce properly, though I could—“Kirk-cu-brig-sheer”—he was happily mentioned by a lady writer in one of the Australian papers upon leaving that country: “No man could possibly be as innocent as William Stitt looks.” That was William to a T. Full of Scotch wit, always affable, and pleasant spoken, he had gained the undying friendship of a host of friends, amongst whom was myself. Circumstances frequently brought us together in our work in Windsor Street Station and on the road. To tell all our experiences would require a volume by itself, but a few incidents should be recalled:

Once we were occupying a drawing-room on the C.P.R. train to Quebec. During the night, I went to the toilet, and the opening of the door awakened him.

“What time is it, George?” he drowsily asked.

“It’s 4.10, Weelum,” I replied. I always called him “Weelum” after the character in “Bunty Pulls the Strings.”

Weelum immediately resumed his slumbers, but I didn’t, and after tossing around for half-an-hour or so, I grabbed him by the hand—he was sleeping opposite me—and cried, “Weelum, Weelum, wake up.”

He accommodatingly did, and then I very seriously said to him: “Weelum, do you know that when I said it was 4.10 it wasn’t. It was 4.15.”

“Oh, go to blazes, you old heathen yon. What did you want to wake me up for to tell me that?”

“Weelum, say, Weelum,”—but he would not listen to what I had to say.

Finally I managed to make him hear me, and I explained that I had been brought up by good God-fearing parents, who had admonished me never to go to sleep with a lie on my lips, and that my conscience wouldn’t let me sleep until I had confessed my sin.

His unmistakable directions as to my immediate destination, which wasn’t Quebec, were forcibly given, and to the sweet music of his impassioned declamation as to the innumerable varieties of a blithering idiot that I was, I peacefully fell asleep, while his continued sarcastic remarks were rendered inaudible by the roar of the wheels.

Floored James Oborne.

On another occasion, we were out in James Oborne’s private car through the Muskoka country. James, as you know, besides being general superintendent of the C.P.R. was a total abstainer, and as pernickety as they make them on the liquor question. As James and I were sitting together one morning in the rear end of the car, Weelum’s name came up incidentally, and I remarked quite off-hand-like:

“Weelum is a grand man, a nature’s nobleman, but—but—”

“But, what?” demanded James.

“Oh, I don’t like to tell, but, between you and me, Weelum crooks his elbow too much.”

James was astounded; it wasn’t possible, and he wanted to know if he drank very heavily.

“Like a fish,” I mendaciously retorted.

Just then Weelum entered, and James Oborne immediately informed him of what I had told him.

“Oborne,” said Weelum, “did he say that? And I suppose he told you he never touched a drop himself. Oh, but he’s an awful liar. Did you notice how frequently he goes into his bedroom?” And James bowed affirmatively. “Well, the old villain has a bottle of Scotch in there. That’s why. Do you know that the last time he was in my place, he drank up every drop of liquor there was in the house?”

James reproachfully looked at me and silently awaited some sort of an explanation.

“It’s true, James, alas, it’s only too true,” I unblushingly remarked. “But he hasn’t told you the whole story. You know what a charming woman Mrs. Stitt is. Now, I leave it to you, James, I leave it to you, what would you do if a lovely woman like Mrs. Stitt came up and put her arms around your neck and with tears streaming down her rosy cheeks would say to you: ‘For goodness’ sake, George, drink up all the whiskey there is in this house, or William will have the D.T.’s?”

Mr. Oborne was completely obfuscated, and to the day of his death was undecided whether I was an inveterate liar or William a confirmed drunkard.

Don’t think I got the best of it every time. Weelum generally evened up on me. One day at a little gathering, somebody or other remarked that everybody knew me and that I knew everybody.

“Nothing of the sort,” says Weelum. “Not a word of truth in it. He’s an awful faker. Why I went to see some prominent people who were about to make a trip to the coast, and I told them that George would be on the train, but they didn’t know him at all. I called in the colored porter, and explained that this party was going out, but that George Ham would be on the train, and to see him about them. The porter said: ‘George Ham—who is he? Never heard of him.’ ”

And Weelum led in the laughter in which everybody joined.

Haunted by Presentiment.

When Weelum passed away suddenly on April 1st four years ago, I was in Los Angeles, and could not sleep the previous night. There was a premonition of impending misfortune haunting me, so I hurried to the local C.P.R. office next morning where Polly—Mr. A. A. Polhamus—handed me two telegrams. While I am nearly as blind as a bat without spectacles, I hastily and distinctly read the despatches without glasses. One was from Charlie Foster, saying that Mr. Stitt was dangerously ill; the other of later sending was from my secretary, Bessie James, that he had died that morning in Captain Walsh’s office, adjoining mine. I was grief-stricken, and sadly walked over to where Alex. Calder and John McKechnie, two dear old Winnipeg friends of both Weelum and myself, were awaiting me, and wistfully whispered: “William Stitt is dead.” Their sorrowing downcast looks were pathetic. There was a sickening tugging of the heart-strings and tear-dimmed eyes, for we mourned as many another did over the passing away of one of the dearest souls God ever put life in.

Captains Courageous.

Vessels of the C.P.R. plough the waters of two oceans, and I don’t know how many lakes and rivers, but enough to require a large fleet. Let me tell you something about the sailors bold who have been for years in the company’s service, and some of whom distinguished themselves during the great war.

Capt. Troup, now manager of the B.C. coast steamers, was a “swift-water” man whose early training among the rapids of the Columbia River served him in good stead on the Columbia and Kootenay lakes. He has made a wonderful success of our coast fleet, and is still going strong. His able assistant was Capt. Gore, who is now pensioned.

Capt. Rudhlin, who was of the original crew of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Beaver, the first steamship to ply the waters of the Pacific Ocean, served many years with the C. P. Navigation Company, and after amalgamation with the C.P.R., he was the first commander of the crack Princess Victoria. Capts. Hickey and Griffin keep the boats on the triangular run going with such regularity in all weather that residents of Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle set their watches by the Princess boats.

Of the transpacific officers, Capt. Marshall brought the Empress of India out in 1890, and after successfully sailing her for many years was appointed an Elder Brother of Trinity House, the highest honor open to men of the mercantile marine. Capt. Lee commanded the Abyssinia, when first chartered for the China trade, and took the Empress of Japan, when built in 1891, and had great success with her until his retirement on a well-earned pension.

Capt. Harry Mowatt fitted out the Athenian for the Skagway trade when the Klondyke firs opened up. He made a wonderful record for his ship as a horse and troop transport to the Philippines during the Spanish-American war, and went to Liverpool as marine superintendent when the Atlantic Steamships Line was inaugurated in 1903, where he did yeoman service during the early anxious years of the new venture.

Capt. William Stewart, a fine example of the old school North Atlantic skipper, was in command of the Lake Champlain when first acquired by the company. He took over the Empress of Britain, when built. Originally a ship’s carpenter, he helped to build and was the first commander of the barque Lake Simcoe. She was also his first ship. Going home on the Britain on his last voyage before retirement a vessel on fire was sighted. Approaching closer, the barque was found to be abandoned but was identified as the Lake Simcoe. He and his first ship ended their career together.

Capt. Frank Casey, first commander of the Empress of Ireland, with a humorous cock to his eye and the most delightfully soft Irish brogue, was popular with passengers and greatly beloved by his brother officers. Crossing the banks of Newfoundland in dense fog he could always smell ice, and while he took regulation soundings his officers say it was only a matter of form for he would call the depth and bottom before it was officially reported.

Capt. Murray, who succeeded to the Empress of Britain, was very popular, highly respected and is deeply regretted. He was killed in the Halifax explosion while engaged in war transport work for the Government.

Capt. Walsh, who was taken over with the Elder Dempster fleet in 1903, still remains as manager of the C.P.O.S. at Montreal. He has sailed the seas over for many a year, and was in the Gold Coast of Africa trade before joining the C.P.R.

And then there was Capt. Evans, “Bully” Evans, not nicknamed as you might suppose, but from his many years of piloting cattle ships. He had a keen sense of humor and a wonderfully hearty and infectious laugh. His gruff, bass voice and sometimes frowning eyebrows, hid one of the kindest hearts that ever beat, and now, alas, it’s stilled for ever.

Capt. Smith sailed the Milwaukee for years. She went a long way in a long time. Early in her career, before his command, she lost her nose in an argument with the east coast of Scotland. The new one supplied by the generous owners served a purpose, but did not add to her speed, and although she was credited with 9.2 on her trials her fair sea average was nearer 2.9. Capt. Smith was heading her out into the broad Atlantic, when a submarine broke water on his starboard bow. He was unarmed save for a ten-foot log of wood he had mounted on the bow, and some detonating caps. Swinging his ship bow on, he trained his “ordnance” and one cap exploded so realistically that the sub. promptly ducked. A few hours later the Hesperian went to the bottom through, it is supposed, the same submarine.

Capt. Boothby, whose brother is the English author, Guy Boothby, and Capt. Hodder, who stood six feet two inches in his stocking feet and weighed three and a half pounds for every inch of his height, were born of the sea. I nearly “beat up” Capt. Hodder once, but explained afterward I had refrained principally on account of his size and his sex. One of his boys was torpedoed three times, and he thought the last time was particularly hard luck as the boy only saved his pyjamas and a red flannel undershirt.

Capt. Gillies brought the Keewatin out from the Clyde on her way to her home on the Upper Lakes. Like Silas Wegg, he occasionally dropped into poetry and could see a joke less slowly than most of his fellow-countrymen. He was less concerned about the subs. than he was about the instructions for avoiding them. His verses on the trials of the commander of a convoyed ship are amusing now, but at the time of writing they contained as much truth as they did poetry.

Capt. Jimmy Turnbull, who served with great distinction in the great war, was decorated, mentioned in despatches, and has since been promoted to the highest commissioned rank in the R.N.R., that of full captain. Multum in parvo with a vengeance.

Capt. Clews, whose jovial face and perennial smile compel a return in kind, was going to New York for a few days, and hearing that except for an uncle he was without friends in the American metropolis, I offered some letters of introduction. On his return, he apologized for not having presented them, but explained he found it impossible to get away from his uncle. Long afterwards it developed that the uncle in question was Henry Clews, the great banker.

Capt. Griffiths, now on the Empress of Britain, Capt. Griffith Evans, now I think the senior of the Ocean Service shippers, and Capt. Parry, are all fellow countrymen of Lloyd George, and very properly proud of it. Capt. Webster is also well among the seniors, but as fit and hearty as ever. Capt. Kendall, to whom belongs the credit of the capture of Dr. Crippen, Capt. Murray, who was chief officer on the Lake Champlain when I crossed on her sixteen years ago, bore a gallant part in the action and was severely wounded when the Carmania sank the Cap Trafalgar.

Masters of the Inland Seas.

On the Great Lakes Capt. E. B. Anderson was as well known as the Manitoba was popular with the travelling public. He never told, if he ever knew, the date of his birth, but it is believed he was nearer eighty than seventy when he retired. It would have required much stronger proof than his appearance to credit him with more than fifty summers.

Capt. Jim McAllister commanded the Alberta for many years and afterwards lived in Vancouver and Fort William. To the day of his death he stoutly maintained that there not only had never been, but there never could be, the equal of the Alberta.

Capt. Louis Payette was on the bridge of the Assiniboia making his ship fast in the Canadian lock one day in 1909 when the Perry Walker smashed the lock gates and let both the Assiniboia and Crescent City drop down eighteen feet with the full force of Lake Superior behind them. There was an anxious few minutes, but Capt. Payette’s coolness and good seamanship minimized the damage and he was able to finish his voyage with passengers and cargo intact.

All of the five present-day skippers on the Great Lakes were born and brought upon the shores of the wonderful Georgian Bay—a Bay only in name, and in reality one of the Great Lakes and the only one entirely Canadian. Four of them are of Highland Scotch descent and equally at home in Gælic or English, two in fact had their early education in the weird but musical language of their forefathers, and acquired the tongue of the Sassenach in later years. Capt. Malcolm McPhee is very proud of the “Keewatin,” and the reputation he has made for her arrival on the stroke of the clock is a byword on the Lakes. Capt. James McCannell of the “Assiniboia,” is a Scot of Scots, and regrets that the kilt is hardly suitable for the bridge during the November gales on Lake Superior. He has been known to carry a private piper on his crew. Capt. John Mclntyre is one of the seven boys, six of whom are lake captains and first-class seamen all. Capt. Murdoch MacKay is another stalwart specimen of Canadian of Highland descent. His Gælic is fluent and very useful during moments of stress when ladies are within hearing. Capt. Frank Davis is of English descent and highly popular with all who travel on the good ship “Manitoba”. Built in Owen Sound, she retains the connection with the original home port of the fleet and calls each week during the season to pay her respects to the beautiful city of the Sound.

The Active Men of To-day.

There are so many of the first and second brigades of the C.P.R. men who did yeoman service in building up the company in its earlier days when everything was not so roseate as it is to-day, that to recall them all would make this article look like the register of the heavenly choir. A great deal more could be said of them than the limits of this writing would permit, but it would be unfair if they were not mentioned. Amongst them are the vice-presidents: W. R. Mclnnes, who has been with the company since 1885, and who has risen from a clerkship in the purchasing department; George M. Bosworth, who joined the staff in 1882, became freight traffic manager and vice-president and is now chairman of the Canadian Pacific Ocean Services; Grant Hall, who dated from 1886, but after a few years’ connection with the I.C.R. returned to his first love and rapidly rose in the service until he reached his present position. A. D. MacTier dates from 1887 as a clerk in the baggage department. He became a stenographer to the general superintendent, and filled other positions: general baggage agent, general fuel agent, assistant to the vice-president, general manager of eastern lines, and finally vice-president. D. C. Coleman came into the company in 1899 as a clerk in the engineering department at Fort William, and afterwards was general superintendent, assistant general manager at Winnipeg, and then his present position. Harry Suckling in 1874 went with the Credit Valley road, and the next year became its secretary-treasurer, local treasurer of the C.P.R. in Toronto in ’83, assistant treasurer at Montreal in ’86, and succeeded Mr. Sutherland as treasurer in 1908—they being the only holders of the office. Fred L. Wanklyn has been chief executive officer for many years. Col. John S. Dennis in 1903 inaugurated the irrigation policy of the company in the west, by which large areas of land were reclaimed. Working from Calgary, with excellent results, he was promoted to the office of assistant to the president in 1912, and is now Chief Commissioner of Colonization and Development. It took a few years for J. S. to make his irrigation venture a success, and during that time he learned the truth of the old adage that “a prophet is not without honor save in his own country.” In 1915 the consulting engineers of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who made a thorough investigation of the Alberta irrigation project, said, “Some day a grateful people will honor this pioneer empire builder in much the same way as Italy has honored Count Cavour in the valley of the Po.” That time has come to pass, and Col. Dennis has lived to see the success of the scheme which he worked so hard to accomplish.

Robert Randolph Bruce, the “Pioneer of the Happy Valley” (Columbia), one of the picturesque figures of the West, was on the payrolls of the company from ’87 to ’97. He came to Canada straight from Scotland. When he landed in New York and walked up Broadway, bits of purple heather still stuck to his clothes. He had $40 in his jeans and under the vest, and now he’s a mine owner and bloated capitalist. W. B. Lanigan (Billy) commenced work in 1884 with the C.P.R. as a telegraph operator at Sharbot Lake, and got going up the scale rapidly until now, an expert freight man, he is freight traffic manager of all the C.P.R. lines. He was born at Three Rivers, P.Q., the home of Jacques Bureau, M.P., and they were schoolmates, Billy being the model boy, and Jacques nothing of the sort, with the result that Billy naturally gravitated towards the C.P.R., and Jacques just as naturally gravitated towards politics. Associated with Mr. Lanigan are Harry E. Macdonell who has seen service from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Bob Larmour, who has been stationed in the east and the west and the centre—New York, Fort William, Winnipeg and Vancouver—and is now in Montreal. Major William Kirkpatrick, who after many years’ service is now freight traffic manager at Winnipeg. William C. Bowles started as a clerk in the Soo, and now is general freight agent at Winnipeg, E. N. Todd and A. O. Secord at Montreal, H. A. Plough at Nelson, W. B. Bamford at Nelson, B.C., Marsh Brown at Toronto, and Hamilton Abbott, who was the first freight agent at Calgary. H. A. Beasley is another veteran now managing the E. & N. Railway (C.P.R.) in Vancouver Island. A. Hatton has risen to be general superintendent of transportation.

Some of the Western Men.

In the west is P. L. Naismith, who in 1900 was manager of the A. R. & I. Co., and is now manager of the important department devoted to the expansion of the country’s natural resources. Allan Cameron, now general superintendent of the Natural Resources branch, joined the company in 1883 as a clerk in the freight department at Winnipeg, and afterwards was promoted to the office of assistant general freight agent at Vancouver. After spending four years in the company’s service in China, he was transferred to London, England, and moved to New York city, holding in both places the position of general freight agent. From this position in 1903 he was transferred to Calgary where he became general superintendent of lands, department of Natural Resources. In this department is also Norman Rankin, who has been with the company for years and has high literary ability. W. H. D’Arcy has been general claims agent at Winnipeg since the memory of man, and Chas. Temple has recently been promoted to chief of motive power and rolling stock at Montreal. Frank Peters joined the C.P.R. staff in 1881 in the cashier’s office at Winnipeg. The next year he was agent at Brandon and afterwards freight agent at Port Arthur and Winnipeg and after being stationed in the Kootenay became assistant to Vice-president Whyte at Winnipeg, and is now general superintendent of the B. C. division. Alfred Price was operator and clerk in the general offices of the Credit Valley in 1879; after being superintendent on various divisions he is now general manager of eastern lines at Montreal—and a mighty good one too, for it is said of him that there is no better railroader in North America. Another expert, Charlie Murphy, fills a similar position on Western lines. Then there are general superintendent John Scully of North Bay, Horace Grout, of Toronto, Ken Savage of Montreal, H. P. Timmerman, now Industrial Commissioner with Graham Curtis as his assistant, and Jack McKay of Saskatoon.

Tom Walklate has been buying lumber and ties for the C.P.R. since 1885, and is still buying them but not at the old prices. Chris. Kyle, who was locomotive foreman in ’89 and afterwards master mechanic, is now supervisor of apprentices with headquarters at Montreal. Bob Miller started railroading in 1873 and was station agent at Windsor street station for ten years, and is now passenger train master there. No one knows when Ed. Whelan, at the Windsor Street Station started selling tickets, and his namesake Thomas at the gate has a voice like Caruso, while John Cullin, who looks after the offices, is still to the fore.

Prominent Passenger Men.

In the passenger department are such indefatigable workers as Charlie Ussher, who since 1886 has been in the fold. From a comparatively minor position he has steadily risen until now he is passenger traffic manager, and also has charge of the chain of hotels of the entire system, and spends the rest of his time either in his office or on the train. Charlie McPherson, whom his friends call Cluny, came to the C.P.R. from the Rock Island in 1886, and has been stationed at Montreal, Boston, St. John, Toronto, and is now at Winnipeg, where he is assistant passenger traffic manager. He is a Chatham, Ontario, boy, but wandered into foreign fields at an early age. Then there is Charlie Foster, assistant passenger traffic manager at Montreal. When I first met him in 1891 he was a junior clerk at St. John, N.B. He has during those thirty intervening years risen from the ranks, and he is one of that kind of fellows whose future is not behind him.

Others who have risen from the ranks are W. H. Snell and Col. Walter Maughan, of Montreal; Harry Brodie, of Vancouver; Geo. Walton, of Winnipeg; W. B. Howard, and N. R. DesBrisay, of St. John, N.B.; Dave Kennedy, of every place; Dan Steele, high muck-a-muck at Sherbrooke; Billy Fulton at Toronto; Billy Grant an old timer of the old timers at Hamilton; George McGlade, of Brockville; “Burroughs, of Belleville;” Billy McIlroy, now stationed at Detroit; J. B. Way, at the Canadian Soo; Joe Carter at Nelson; Charlie Philps, of St. John, N.B.; and the company’s representatives in the United States—Fred Perry in New York; Tommy Wall at Chicago; E. L. Sheehan, at St. Louis; Mike Malone, at Cincinnati; A. A. Polhamus at Los Angeles; Fred Nason at San Francisco; Teddy Chesbrough at Atlanta, A. G. Albertson, at Minneapolis, L. R. Hart at Boston, G. B. Burpee at Cleveland, R. C. Clayton at Philadelphia, Clarence Williams at Pittsburg, B. E. Smeed at St. Paul, Fred Sturdee at Seattle, D. C. O’Keefe at Tacoma, E. L. Cardie at Spokane, C. E. Phelps at Washington, and George Walton at Buffalo, all of whom have been with the company for years and upheld the interests of the C.P.R. in the land of the Stars and Stripes.

Geo. C. Wells, whose word is always accepted in railway conferences, began as a clerk in the passenger department in Montreal in ’92, and now he is still at work as assistant to the passenger traffic manager.

George Hodge came into the vineyard in 1890 as a clerk in the passenger department, and steadily rose officially until now he is assistant to the vice-president. Fred Hopkins came to work earlier than George—in ’82—in the passenger department and rose to be assistant general passenger agent. Emile Hebert’s connection with the company dates away back in the ’80’s. To him is assigned the duty of looking after French-Canadian patrons, and he does it so successfully that many of his compatriots imagine that he is the president of the C.P.R. and believe that Ambroise Lalonde, another veteran, is general manager.

Good old Alexander Calder, of Winnipeg, has been associated with the company ever since its birth, and is still doing business at the same old stand. His son Arthur has been with the company for very many years, and now fills a position on the executive staff.

Charles Buell is of the ’95 product, and after a quarter of a century’s service is now staff registrar and secretary of the pension department. “They” say that Charlie knows the age, sex and previous condition of servitude of every blessed one of the 100,000 employes of the C.P.R.

Billy Dockrill, Harry Ibbotson, Jimmy McKenna, and Walter Brett are veteran travelling passenger agents still on deck. R. J. Smith, for years with the company, is now chief ticket agent at Montreal; Fred C. Lydon, who came as a boy, is city ticket agent at Montreal. Geo. Beer and Billy Corbett are well known figures in the Toronto office. Billy Jackson, outside ticket agent at Clinton, is said to be the oldest ticket agent in Canada. W. H. C. Mackay, St. John, N.B., and Jerry Chipman, Halifax, and Arthur Shaw, of Montreal, have been with the company for goodness knows how long. Tom Riddell has been in the claims department since a boy, and is still there.

The present chief engineer, John M. Fairbairn, started in 1892 as topographer on the Soo Road, and quickly rose in position until in 1918 he reached the top of the department. P. B. Motley came as a draughtsman in the same department in the same year, and is now engineer of bridges. And of the others—their name is legion, Angus McMurchy, of Toronto, is perhaps the oldest solicitor of the company, and is still in harness.

H. W. Sweeney was an office boy in the treasurer’s department in ’86, and after being clerk, cashier, paymaster he was appointed local treasurer at Winnipeg in 1908, and still fills that position most efficiently.

Billy Cooper, who is now the head of the sleeping car department, commenced work as a clerk in the general superintendent’s office in Montreal in ’91. He has able assistants in the other old-timers, Bert Mathews, of Winnipeg, and Frank Tingley, of Vancouver, Sid Wertheim, of Toronto, and Jimmy Downs, of Montreal, who can get more lower berths for passengers than any other person—and these are all veterans.


E. N. Bender entered railway work in 1880 as secretary to the general storekeeper of the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway, now a part of the C.P.R. system. In 1902 he succeeded A. C. Henry as general purchasing agent, and has with him a capable staff, many of whom are old-timers.

James Manson (Jim) began railroading with C.P.R. in 1882, then rose to be superintendent, and after experience in Winnipeg and Toronto was transferred to Montreal, where he is assistant to Vice-President Grant Hall. His duties are manifold, and as varied, and he is a fixture for life in smoothing over the rough edges of his fellow-workers.

Harry Oswald is an old-timer, dating away back, and from a subordinate position is now assistant secretary, and secretary of no fewer than eighty-one subsidiary companies.

Teddy Moore came when he was in the bloom of youth which he still retains, and has charge of the insurance of the company which reaches up to the millions.

George Jackson, after many years of service, is now auditor of claims, and Allyn Seymour rose from a minor position to be general tourist agent.

The Train Staff.

Amongst the old-time conductors still shouting “all aboard” are Davy Bell, Ed. Chapman, Aaron Burt, Jack Johnson, George Wood, Charles Clendenning, Ab. and Dick Harshaw—now promoted to superintendencies, Billy Hassard, W. Goodfellow, Dan Cameron, Frank McLean, now at the gate of the Union Station Toronto, Sandy Younger, Howard Moore, the brothers Ed. and Duncan Park, Oscar Westover, Joe Legros, Wm. Reilly, Morley Munro, A. Houle, John Sheldon, on the Boston run, Steve Yates, Bob Clarke, Mac Beaton, Wm. Campbell, A. Conrtney, O. Brushey, Dan Carmichael, Bob Young, James McWilliam, Ed. McCreary, George Henderson, Joe Lappin and Frank Norman.

Amongst the oldest drivers were James Fisher, who ran an engine from Montreal to the end of the line in B.C., in the early days (one trip only); Harry Floyd, who had the Prince of Wales as his companion on the run over the Trenton division, his Royal Highness saving Harry the trouble of blowing the whistle; Dick Christopher, Ed. Tout, and Tom Leonard, a brother of J. W.; Wm. Wilson, John McInnerary, Wm. Johnston, James Mahoney, and John Douglas. Alfred Stewart is now assistant superintendent on the Atlantic division. Roadmaster Gus Erickson, who has risen from the ranks, told the scientific world of Europe, through my writings, why the mountains of the Canadian Rockies wore haloes, and John Riordon (Jerry) is still on his job.

A valued old-timer is Ike McKay, who has been with the company for a score or more of years.

The Advertising Men.

In the publicity department in the early days were such men as Ed. Sandys, Roy Somerville, Molyneaux St. John, Harry Charlton, Wilfred Crighton, and now the presiding genius is John Murray Gibbon, who is also an author of considerable note, and he has surrounded himself with a capable staff. During all the years some of the best descriptive writers in the world have written up the C.P.R. until, with its newspaper advertising, and handsomely printed booklets, its name is known everywhere.

Chief Chamberlain was with the company years ago, and after being chief of police in Vancouver returned. Men in his department include Col. MacLeod, of Winnipeg; J. P. Burns, J. Cadieux and Inspectors Spragge and McGorman, of Vancouver; Neliher, at Calgary; Ashman, at Winnipeg; Chesser, at Moose Jaw; MacFarlane, at North Bay; Morse, at Toronto; Catlow, at St. John, N.B.; and Logan, at Montreal—all veterans.

The Ocean Service.

Notable among the officers of the Canadian Pacific Ocean Services are Wm. T. Payne, manager for Japan and China, who has resided for many years in Yokohama, and has received high honors from the Imperial Japanese Government. Charlie Benjamin joined the traffic department in St. Louis, Mo., and rose to be passenger traffic manager of the C.P.O.S. Weldy Annable, who started in the Ottawa ticket office, transferred to Montreal, and after a term as general baggage agent was promoted to his present position as general passenger agent. Percy Sutherland is general passenger agent in Hongkong, a son of J. N. Sutherland, general freight agent at St. John, N.B., and Toronto for many years. Billy Ballantyne is the capable and popular assistant general passenger agent at Montreal, and Willie Webber, who welcomes the coming and speeds the parting traveller at the gangway of the Atlantic steamers, smooths away their troubles and spreads that gospel of service which is the motto of the C.P.R. W. T. Marlow, now at the head of the Ocean Services freight department, and Dick Clancy is another popular old-timer among the veterans. The former started in Toronto in the early days and served for many years in the Far East before reaching his present position.

The baggage department, over which Joe Apps, a veteran of the veterans, presides, with assistants like W. E. Allison and T. W. McGuire, of Montreal, and Joe Sparks, of Winnipeg, and amongst other workers Mrs. Tracey, who has been in the department for years, is an important one. Last year the total pieces of baggage handled numbered 6,353,308; bicycles, 13,317; dogs, 21,494; baby carriages, 27,905—all sensible babies travel by the C.P.R.;—coupes, 3,475; and cans of milk, 2,831,858. Space forbids mention of the number of cases of hard liquor carried into the arid districts lying between the Ottawa River and the summit of the Rocky Mountains, but—.

It can be readily understood that it is utterly impossible to mention a tithe of the names of the thousands of C.P.R. men whose long service entitles them to recognition, but instances of many will demonstrate that C.P.R. men remained with the company for long periods, irrespective entirely of their walk in life. Many joined when the company was formed; others came in as the lines on which they worked were absorbed, and there are over 1,000 employees on the pension roll, and some of the veterans of the early ’80’s are still at their accustomed posts. I am sorry I can’t recall them all.

On the Retired List.

Amongst those who have retired from the service but who are still in the land of the living, are many grand old veterans: Mr. H. J. Cambie, who did most valuable work in British Columbia from the earliest days of the company, and while not now on active service acts in an advisory capacity. W. R. Baker, C.V.O., was with the Canada Central at Ottawa in 1873, and afterwards with the C.P.R., and then general manager of the Manitoba & Northwestern for several years until it became part of the C.P.R. system when he was appointed executive agent at Winnipeg and, in 1905 he became secretary of the company and resigned in 1917, being succeeded by everybody’s friend, Ernest Alexander, who had graduated from the president’s office, and still efficiently fills the position of official scribe of the company. Arthur Piers, who in 1870 was with the Great Western of Canada, in ’82 came to the C.P.R. as assistant to the general manager when the main offices of the company were on Place d’Armes Square, and his office staff consisted of himself and the office boy. In 1891 he was appointed superintendent of the company’s trans-pacific steamships, and afterwards general manager of all their steamship interests until his retirement in 1913, on account of ill health. He is now residing on England, and is just as much a C.P.R. man as ever. His son, Arthur, keeps up the family traditions of loyalty and efficiency at his office at Windsor Street Station. My old friend, Mel Duff, started in 1891 as the office boy above referred to, and is now the very capable manager of the Great Lakes steamers. W. R. Callaway, still as young as he used to be, is now with the Soo line. William Downie lives at one of my several birthplaces, Whitby, Ont. General Superintendent J. T. Arundel has taken to farming at Oakville, Ont. Harry Charlton is now the efficient publicity manager of the Grand Trunk at Montreal. Hayter Reed and his charming wife, who are living at St. Andrews, left their indelible impress on the entire C.P.R. hotels system. Frank Brady is now one of the bosses on the Canadian National system. James Fullerton, the capable ship’s husband at Vancouver, and Sam Buchanan who filled a similar position for the Great Lakes Steamship service in 1891, are enjoying the luxury of a rest, and Reggie Graves, of the Place Viger Hotel, is now managing two hotels at Iroquois Falls for the Abitibi Paper and Pulp Company. Davy Brown, the evergreen old boy of Vancouver, whose genial welcoming handclasp is just as warm as it was thirty years ago, is still very much alive, and W. F. Salsbury, for many years local treasurer at Vancouver, has recently retired.

Politics Interfere With Business.

Fred Gutelius, as good an operating man as ever lived, came from Heinz’s lines in British Columbia, and when general superintendent in Montreal was induced by the Hon. Frank Cochrane to take charge of the Intercolonial, which he vainly endeavoured to run on business principles, and resigned in disgust at his dismal failure for political influence was too great to overcome. He is now vice-president of the D. & H., with headquarters at Albany, N.Y., where his duties are not interfered with by every ward-heeler. Hugh Lumsdun, an old civil engineer who came to the company in 1884, and after twenty years’ service resigned to accept the chief engineership of the National Transcontinental. He is now living in retirement at Orillia, Ont. N. S. Dunlop, who made the entire line from St. John to Vancouver a road of roses, still resides at Westmount. James A. Sheffield was superintendent of sleeping, dining and parlor cars and hotels from 1882 to 1902 when he resigned on account of ill health. Wm. Cross in 1882 was assistant mechanical superintendent in Montreal, and became master mechanic. In 1887 he was transferred to the western division and was promoted to the office of assistant to Vice-President Whyte, in 1904, and after a quarter of a century’s service was pensioned. Billy Grant, now Col. William A. Grant, was private secretary to Sir William Van Horne for many years.

H. H. Vaughan, who was superintendent of motive power and assistant to the vice-president for many years, retired to become head of an industrial corporation. Col. George Burns, of the audit department, resigned to be of service to his country during the war.

Driver Harry Mills is now Minister of Mines in the Ontario Government, and Andy Ingram, who was in the baggage department, is chairman of the Ontario Railway Board. Frank McLean was at the gate at the Toronto terminals. A great character was Peter Stephen, who joined the merry throng in 1880, and after years of service at Smith’s Falls was pensioned in 1915. Conductor Billy Brown of the West, resigned to become general superintendent of the C.N.R., and Ab. Chapman, of Ottawa, was presented with a gold watch on his retirement after fifty years’ service. D. M. Telford was local treasurer at Winnipeg three years ago, and is now living in retirement. Harry O’Connor, of Winnipeg, commenced with construction, and ended as fire commissioner. W. D. Evanson, of the audit department, is now Comptroller of Winnipeg, and Jimmy Morrison, who for years was in the passenger department is general passenger agent of the C.N.R. John Morrow, right-of-way agent, retired some years ago.

Company Never Evicted a Settler.

Fred T. Griffin entered the company’s service in 1883 as a clerk in the land department, and seven years later succeeded L. A. Hamilton as land commissioner on the retirement of that gentleman who had initiated a generous policy and it was both his and his successor’s boast that the company had never evicted a settler, but had allowed many who had left the country for various reasons to return and re-occupy their farms as if nothing had ever happened. Mr. Griffin retired in 1917. H. L. Penny entered the audit department in 1881 as a clerk, and became general auditor in 1889. After thirty-three years arduous service he resigned in 1914 on account of ill health. George L. Wetmore was another old-timer, commencing his duties as foreman of construction in 1883. He became divisional engineer at several points on the north shore and St. John, N.B., and was pensioned in 1915. Geo. H. Shaw was with Robt. Kerr in Winnipeg for many years, and resigned to go with the C.N.R. W. B. Bulling, who ranks amongst the pioneers of the C.P.R., resigned some years ago and lives in Montreal. Sid Howard is another old-timer who quit railroading to enter commercial life. Ben Grier and Geo. L. Courtney were prominent in railway and steamship circles in Victoria, B.C., but both retired, and Ben is, or was, president of the local Board of Trade. John Corbett, who looked after the export freight for the C.P.R. in Montreal, resigned some years ago and is now living in Philadelphia. Eddie Fitzgerald, who when a lad was a messenger in the House of Commons, a coveted position in those days, became assistant chief purchasing agent of the company and on resigning became vice-chairman of the board of the Hudson’s Bay Company with headquarters at Winnipeg.

Amongst other prominent men connected with the C. P. R. were E. H. McHenry and W. F. Tye and John Sullivan, now of Winnipeg, where he was elected an alderman, and amongst the real original first ones was J. M. Egan, the general superintendent of the road of Winnipeg, who left to accept the presidency of the Central of Georgia Railway and the Seaboard Line, and is now farming not far from St. Louis, Mo.

Ed. James is another old-timer. He joined the C.P.R. in its earliest days, and from a telegraph operator rose until he became general superintendent, and afterwards accepted the general managership of the Canadian Northern, from which he resigned and is now living in Vancouver.

Col. E. W. P. Ramsay, who made a high record during the war, having been mentioned in despatches and honoured with a C.M.G., was an apprentice in the mechanical department in his youth and afterwards engineer of construction of Eastern lines—the building of the Lake Ontario shore line being one of his achievements. Charles W. Monserrat in 1889 was a draughtsman and later a bridge engineer. He had charge of the construction of the Quebec bridge, having left the service in 1910.

Other Old-Timers.

John Persse is a prosperous business man of Winnipeg, and W. O. Somers, of the traffic department, W. J. Ross, bridge builder, now of Port Arthur; of superintendents James Murray, Fred Jones, C. W. Milestone, Tom Kilpatrick, W. A. Perry, J. A. Cameron, C. J. Ambridge and G. D. Henderson; of old conductors Joe Fahey, Leary, Billy Fogg, Larose, Billy Chester, now a prominent figure in labor circles, and Billy Brown, now general superintendent in the C.N.R.; of engineers, Ash, Kennedy, J. Brownlee, Armstrong, H. Phipps, Carey, also Bob Willoughby, Tom Carter, Frank Nelson, Mark Baker and Dunham, whose terms of service range from twenty-five to forty years. Doctors Good and Jones, Blanchard, Brett, now Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta; and Andrew Mackenzie, car service agent, is now of the Dominion Coal Company.

Some Who Have Passed Away.

There are many men whom death has called, bright lights in the early days of the C.P.R., and amongst them Judge Clarke, of Cobourg, was one of the ornaments of the Canadian bar. His legal acumen was of the greatest service to the company. Another historic personage was Mr. Henry Beatty, father of the president, who designed and built the original vessels for the Great Lakes. From this nucleus has grown the splendid fleet of ocean, lake, and river steamers, which in itself would entitle the company to front rank among the outstanding transportation systems of the world. He was associated with the company until his death in 1914. Other outstanding figures are T. A. McKinnon, George Olds and Lucius Tuttle, of the traffic department. Harry Abbott, of Vancouver, did invaluable work in construction days in the mountains of British Columbia, and Richard Marpole, of the same city, who started with the construction of the road in Algoma in 1882, after many years’ arduous and efficient labors in the mountains of B.C., became the chief executive officer on the Canadian Pacific Coast. Mr. Marpole had a wonderful grasp in railway matters and died in June, 1920, deeply regretted.

Some Reminiscences.

W. Sutherland Taylor’s connection with railways commenced in 1868 when he was secretary of construction on the Toronto, Grey & Bruce road, and afterwards treasurer of that company. When the T., G. & B. was absorbed by the C.P.R. he became its treasurer and retired in 1908 when he was succeeded by another old-timer, Mr. H. E. Suckling, who is still actively and efficiently serving the company. Mr. Sutherland Taylor and I were old cronies, and we frequently used to indulge in reminiscences. One of his memories was that when a lad he was going down the Rhine and fell in with a very nice Danish family of father, mother and several children. To him they appeared to belong to that highly respectable class which consists of fairly well-to-do old families. He became intimate with them, and when a little later he met them again in Berlin their friendship was renewed and he was invited to lunch at their hotel. During the luncheon one of the boys, Master George, misbehaved himself and received a gentle cuff on the ear and was dismissed from the table. Years after Mr. Taylor discovered that the head of the friendly family had ascended the throne of Denmark and was none other than King Christian IX., and that of his youthful companions, the eldest daughter had been married to the Prince of Wales and had become Queen Alexandra of Britain, and her sister, Princess Dagmar was the Empress of Russia, and the others were afterwards King Frederick VIII., of Denmark and His Royal Highness Prince Wilhelm of Denmark, and George had occupied the throne of Greece, that Princess Lyra of Denmark had married the Duke of Cumberland, and Prince Vladimar of Denmark was wedded to Princess Marie of Orleans. Never before has a wandering young Canadian boy unconsciously got into so much of the white light which beateth about the throne.

Sir William Whyte came to the C.P.R. in its early days, and after filling several important positions in the east, went to Winnipeg, where he was Vice-President, in which position he exerted a wide influence throughout the west.

Then there was Robert Kerr, who as a boy was connected with the old Northern Railway of Toronto, and in 1884 entered the service of the C.P.R., with headquarters at Winnipeg and afterwards at Montreal, filling the position of passenger traffic manager. He was the son of Capt. Kerr, an old steamboat man of Toronto, who was in command of the favorite Maple Leaf, which plied on Lake Ontario, and with whom I sailed as a non-paying passenger many a time. Robert Kerr served with great distinction during the civil war, fighting for the North. Mr. James W. Leonard, who passed away in April, 1919, was another old-timer who is not forgotten. In his youth he was connected with the old Midland Railway of Canada, and afterwards with the Credit Valley, and in 1880, when it was absorbed by the C.P.R., he became a superintendent and afterwards general manager of the road. Mr. Charles Drinkwater was secretary of the railway in 1881, and in 1908 rose to be assistant to the president. In his youth Mr. Drinkwater was secretary to Sir John Macdonald, and gained an insight into parliamentary matters that were of great assistance to him and to the company in matters of legislation in Ottawa.

A. C. Henry, who succeeded Mr. Shaughnessy as purchasing agent, was with the company from its beginning, and died at a comparatively early age, and when he died there was general regret for he was highly esteemed.

One of the oldest employees of the company was Charles Spencer, who in 1864 was a conductor on the Brockville & Ottawa, and naturally was taken over by the C.P.R. when that road was purchased by the company. He was for years on the Montreal-Ottawa run, and was a great favourite with the travelling public. It was not until 1913 that he was pensioned, and he died at a ripe old age five years later. He was father of Charles and H. B. Spencer, two men who were closely connected with the C.P.R. Charlie became general superintendent and resigned in 1905 to accept a higher position in the Canadian Northern, and died some years ago, but Harry, who commenced work with the Canada Central (now C.P.R.) in 1870, as telegraph operator and assistant agent at Ottawa, is still on duty as superintendent in his native city. W. J. Singleton was another of the early workers, being agent at Ottawa, in 1882, and afterwards superintendent until 1909, passing away early in 1911.

E. J. Duchesney, who did wonderful work at the time of the Frank disaster; Molyneux St. John, of the publicity department, an accomplished writer, was assigned to become editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, and afterwards was appointed Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod at Ottawa.

Others Gone But Still Remembered.

P. A. Peterson was chief engineer in 1881, with John Canadian as chief clerk, who composed nearly the whole staff, and in 1903 was consulting engineer, and left the service the same year. The names of Major Rogers, who found the Rogers Pass, General Rosser, who was the last Southern officer to accept the inevitable, J. S. Schwitzer and A. B. Stickney, who was chief engineer in the West in the early days, are still remembered, although they have been laid at rest for many years. E. V. Skinner, who represented the company in New York city from 1887 to 1908, was a very prominent figure, and Horace Colvin, who was the company’s representative in Boston from 1887 to 1903, has also passed away. Another prominent figure was Archer Baker, who was an accountant on the Brockville & Ottawa road in 1870, and after several promotions was stationed at London, England, and was European manager of the company until his death in 1910. Alex Notman was a well-known figure and represented the company at several points. He was best known in Toronto, and when he died the company lost an energetic official. Then there were A. R. G. Heward, who was with President Van Horne for many years; Fred Tiffin, who was the company’s first freight agent at Toronto, and resigned to join the I.C.R. forces, he being succeeded by J. N. Sutherland, who has also passed away. The memory of J. Francis Lee, of Chicago; Con Sheehy, of Detroit; and Tom Harvey, of the Soo, Michigan, all of whom have gone to their last rest will not soon be forgotten, neither will Fred Gauthier, of Winnipeg, who, commencing as a freight clerk in ’82, became assistant purchasing agent in 1900, and died in 1919. Albert Dana was another one who commenced as general storekeeper in Montreal in 1881, and in ’86 entered the purchasing department in which he reached a high position and died recently. Jack Taylor came from a family of railway men, and began work as a train despatcher in Ottawa in 1878. In 1911 he was made general superintendent on several western divisions. General Superintendent R. R. Jameson, John Niblock and J. A. McLellan are gone.

Medical Staff.

Dr. Girdwood was the first chief surgeon and retired in 1902. Among the medical men on his staff scattered along the lines of the C.P.R. were Dr. Pringle, who for many years did excellent service on the north shore of Lake Superior, and Dr. McKid, of Calgary; Dr. Orton, M.P., and Dr. Brett, now Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta, and still in the land of the living, and Dr. Kerr, who afterwards was a prominent physician in Washington, D.C.

An old-timer was W. H. Kelson, who was general storekeeper from 1882 to 1904, and Jimmy Callaghan, who was with the company from 1886 to his death in 1912, and L. A. Genest, general storekeeper at Winnipeg, have departed this life. Geo. W. Henry was in the treasurer’s department for many years. His father was one of the officers who guarded Napoleon during his captivity at Elba.

Bob Morris, the general baggage agent at Montreal, Joe Heffernan, of Guelph; Joe Milward, of the freight department, who was killed in a bicycle accident at Boston, were connected with the Company for years.

George Duncan, of Ottawa, who came with the company when a boy, represented the C.P.R. at Ottawa for many years until his death. We all remember Major Lydon, who formed the famed Highland Cadets, and who still insisted on working after being pensioned.

Memory also recalls Wm. Harder, of Winnipeg; John H. McTavish, the first land commissioner, and Alex. Begg, his assistant, W. Skead, and R. G. Barnwell, of the tie department, J. D. Farrell, now president of the Oregon Railway and Navigation Co., and Dan O’Leary, who constructed bridges, Supt. Con. Shields and Wm. Brown, brother of Davy, John Niblock and J. R. Cameron, T. J. Lynskey, the first one, Al. Percival and Jack Landers, old-time conductors, and of engineer Dick Smith, Allan McNab, one of the pioneer locomotive engineers of the mountains, Jim Brownlee and Jim Stewart, who ran old “69.”

Conductor Harry Hall, after many years of conducting trains, became the representative of the labor interests at Ottawa. Peter Stewart passed away after many years of service, and so did Dad Clarke, who switched at the Toronto terminals. Another Dad Clarke—its wonderful how long they were affectionately called “Dad”—was for a long time in the purchasing department and died as the result of an accident at Ottawa several years ago.

Conductors James Ferris, John Forrester, A. St. Germain and Ed. Barnes, all veterans, have passed away.

And who can ever forget Charlie Panzer, the roadmaster; old Gideon Swain, who bossed the Winnipeg station for years; Hampton, of the Windsor Station, who used words as big as the side of a house, and that dear old friend of everybody—Constable Richards, now guarding the pearly gates in the other world?

Officials Honored by King.

The King has recognized the valuable service of many C.P.R. directors and officials by giving honors to Lord Mount Stephen, Lord Strathcona, Lord Shaughnessy, Sir William Van Horne, Sir Thomas Tait, who did splendid railway work in Australia; Sir George Bury, for his work in Russia; Sir George McLaren Brown, of London, England, for what he did during the late war; Sir Arthur Harris, Sir William Whyte, Sir Augustus Nanton, and Sir James Aikins, of Winnipeg; Sir E. B. Osler and Sir John Eaton, the merchant prince of Toronto; Sir Vincent Meredith and Sir Herbert Holt, of Montreal; and for many years an official of the company has been and still is Sir Gilbert Johnson, who bears the Nova Scotian baronetcy. W. R. Baker was given a C.V.O. by King George, and deserved higher honours for his services during royal visits to Canada.

The Dominion Express Company.

The Dominion Express Company has been managed since its inception by W. S. Stout, of Toronto, the president, being ably assisted by T. E. McDonnell, the general manager, and W. H. Burr, the traffic manager. The names of Billy Walsh, of Toronto, now passed away; V. G. R. Vickers, who has retired to enter commercial life; Goodwin Ford, of Winnipeg, and Jack Murray, of Toronto, will long be remembered. The first president was Sir George Kirkpatrick.

The Live Wires.

With the telegraph branch of the C.P.R. the name of Mr. Charles R. Hosmer will be long identified, for he was the head and front of the undertaking at its inception. He is a director of the company besides being incidentally a capitalist. Long associated with him was James Kent, who inaugurated a press service and press bulletin for the passenger trains in the West. After thirty years in harness he retired in 1916, and was succeeded by John McMillan, who has been with the company since 1883, and worked his way up from a junior in the construction of telegraphs to the topmost position. The wires of the C.P.R. reach every part of the civilized world, besides several countries that are apparently not entirely civilized. Bill (W.J.) Camp, his assistant, was a C.P.R. electrician in 1886, and there are Geo. H. Ferguson and many others in this branch of the C.P.R. who have been with it for many years. B. S. Jenkins and John Tait and Jack Stronach were old Winnipeg workers. William Marshall is now assistant manager at that city, but he has only been with the company since 1886, and other veterans are Jim Wilson, and Ed. Grindrod, the first superintendent and inspector in B.C., who did good service during the floods in the mountains some years ago.



Important “First” Trains.

The first through train to cross the continent in Canada left Montreal on June 28th, 1886, and reached the western terminus, Port Moody, right on the dot on July 4th. It was a momentous event, for it was the beginning of a service that has revolutionized the travel of the world. At the send-off, the immense throng at the old Dalhousie Station was an enthusiastic one, and would have been more so, but Col. Stevenson’s battery was a little late in arriving to fire a parting salute, and time, tide and the C.P.R. flyers wait for no one. There were only two sleepers attached and they were comfortably filled. The only newspaper man aboard was myself, and I had written up the trip from Montreal to Winnipeg in advance, and sent it by mail—for I had been on the road frequently—only adding the names of the more prominent passengers by wire from Ottawa. When the papers reached us on the north shore of Lake Superior, Mr. Dewey, the superintendent of the postal service of Canada, who was on board, was astonished at the length and accuracy of my report, and wondered how and when I had written it, and as I did not enlighten him, except to say that he had seen me writing on the train, his mystification remained with him until his death. The trip was a glorious one, and the reception all along the line was like a royal progress. The people of fire-stricken Vancouver came over to Port Moody in great numbers by the old Yosemite to welcome us. There was no public reception at Vancouver, for there wasn’t any place to hold one, the original city having been almost totally consumed by fire just previous to our arrival. The flames had destroyed almost everything, but the courage and hope and faith of the pioneers who bravely struggled against the blighting effects of the calamity, and they did this successfully, as can be seen to-day in the magnificent city which has arisen through the splendid results of their indomitable energy and unceasing labors which made Vancouver what it is.

Greeted Train With Music.

I have travelled on many a “first train” since then, but none of more importance than the first Imperial Limited which left Montreal for Vancouver on the evening of June 18, 1899. The train was the acme of comfort for the transcontinental traveller. In order that an opportunity might be given of judging of its equipment, I invited a number of Montreal and Quebec newspapermen to make the run as far as the Federal capital on a special car attached to the new train. Fred Cook was then the dean of the Press Gallery, and Parliament being in session, I sent him a wire telling him of the party, and asking him to meet us at the Central Station when the train arrived at midnight. Fred has the reputation of being able to organize a symposium or birthday party in quick time, but on this occasion he did more than I reckoned. He can also crack a joke or take one with the best. I heard the story later of what happened from his colleague, Frank McNamara, who has been for some years in newspaper work on the Pacific coast. Showing my telegram to McNamara, Cook said, “Frank, we have to do this reception in the best style. Will you join?” McNamara said, “What is the proposal?” “Well,” was the answer, “I will get Jimmy Ellis (the Mayor) to come down to the station and present the keys of the city to George and the press men, and we will also have a fine band of music to welcome the guests, and to speed the Imperial Limited on its initial trip.” “Bah,” snorted McNamara, “where are you going to get a band at that hour?” “There has been a band tooting around the streets of Ottawa for the past week, and for a fiver I am sure they will come out,” was the reply. It was a band of the genuine German variety of five pieces. McNamara fell in with the suggestion, and both hied themselves off to Billy Clements’ hotel on Besserer Street, where the sons of the Fatherland were staying.

They saw the leader, who at first demurred at the suggestion, fearing trouble with the police. When Cook told him that the Mayor was to be there and that he would guarantee that everything would be all right, the Germans consented for a ten-spot to be at the station with their instruments. And so at midnight on that eventful occasion, the first Imperial Limited rolled into the Central Station at Ottawa. The special car with the press party stopped in the yards owing to the length of the train, and we had to walk up the cinder path until we reached the platform. There, at the end of the platform, were those five confounded Germans blowing away for all they were worth “The Watch on the Rhine.” A procession was formed and, headed by the band, now playing “Rule Brittania” (was it a premonition?) with the mayor on my right and the ex-mayor on my left, and thirty newspaper men following two by two, we started up Sparks Street to the Parliament Buildings in which a brass band played for the first time in history. It was one of the funniest of my many varied experiences. Guests in the old Russell House, awakened from their slumbers, stuck their heads out of the windows and gazed in wonderment; the bobbies at the street corners, seeing the mayor in the party, stood and grinned; citizens on the streets enquired, “What’s up?” Swinging up Sparks and Metcalfe Streets, and then across Wellington street and up the centre walk, still headed by the sons of the Fatherland, we marched into the Parliament Buildings. Of the joyous time we had for the next hour or two I say nothing, but next morning there appeared in the newspapers all over the world an account of the arrival of this wonderful train at Ottawa; of the civic reception, and of the triumphal procession through the streets led by the band of the “Governor-General’s Foot Guards.”

The world believed that Ottawa had stood still to let the Imperial Limited pass through.

A Belated Prosperity.

Walking down Notre Dame Street one morning in the summer of ’92 I met Sir William Van Horne, who enquired about the Maritime Provinces, where I was then doing missionary work for the C.P.R. I told him that it was a pleasant country to roam around in—especially in the summer time—but that until more energy was developed in public utilities, increased prosperity could not be expected. The Provinces needed a great developing agency like the C.P.R., instead of the Government-owned road, and until such a developing factor was secured the same old conditions would prevail. I also told him that while the practical politicians of both parties were strong advocates of Government control of the I.C.R. for the peculiar advantages and influences it afforded the political bosses, I didn’t believe the great mass of the people were of the same mind, but would gladly hail the advent of the C.P.R. He said, “Well, go down and buy it.” He didn’t give me any money, but I did try, and found that nearly three-fourths of the newspapers there favored a change. All went well, with the powerful aid of the Toronto Globe and other Western newspapers, but in ’94 Sir John Thompson, then Premier of the Dominion, declared that if the control of the I.C.R. was transferred to the C.P.R. or any other private corporation, he would resign. That ended it, and the Maritime Provinces remained somnolent until other developing factors and more capital infused life into them, and years after gave them the prosperity that would have been theirs a quarter of a century sooner.

An Old-Time Roadmaster.

John Riordan was an old and efficient roadmaster of the C.P.R. western lines, and he ever had an eye to the company’s interests. One day, a navvy was taken ill with cramps, and there being no medical man within hailing distance, and no proper remedies, John seized a sizzling hot mince pie and clapped it on the suffering man’s stomach. He quickly recovered, and when John reported the matter, he was quizzingly asked what he had done with the pie, and he naively said: “Shure, sor, I put it back on the shelf.”

John was a thoroughly loyal employee, and when there was a strike on, he wired his brother, then on strike at Deloraine, in an effort to bring him back to the ranks.

“Tim Riordan,

C.P.R., Deloraine,

You are now roadmaster for the Deloraine division.

(Sgd.) John Riordan.

Quickly came back the answer:

“John Riordan,

C.P.R., Winnipeg,

You are a d—— liar. I am not.

Timothy Riordan.

When Coal Was Costly.

Superintendent Oborne had great economic ideas. He spent quite a time in ascertaining whether two short whistles from a locomotive were not cheaper than one long one. He noticed one day that a lot of coal was dropped off the tenders between Winnipeg and Brandon, and instructed his assistant, Ed. James, to have it gathered up. Of course, Ed. strictly followed instructions, and a week later was asked how it was progressing.

“Fine,” said Ed., “we’ve picked up two tons already, and are still picking.”

“Splendid,” encouragingly replied the boss. “And how much is it costing?”

“$65.00 a ton.” As coal was then laid down at Winnipeg at $4.50 a ton, the collection of black diamonds was instantly discontinued.

Gate-Keeper, I Hope, in Both Worlds.

Constable Richards, head-gateman in the castellated stone structure of the C.P.R. at Windsor Street Station, Montreal, was everybody’s friend. A large sized, well-built, active man, for many years he more than satisfactorily fulfilled his onerous duties, until at a ripe age he passed away mourned by all who knew him. He was an Englishman first and last, and on St. George’s Day, it was for years a great pleasure for me to pin a red rose on his manly breast. One time, I was away in Los Angeles, and didn’t remember that England’s patron saint’s day was on the morrow. But I did think of it in time, and wired to N. S. Dunlop, who was then in charge of the company’s floral department, to send Mr. Richards a rose with my best wishes. When I returned home a fortnight or so later, Constable Richards was on duty at the gate, and when he saw me, he grasped my hand, shook it heartily, and exclaimed: “I knew wherever you were, you wouldn’t forget my rose. It came all right, but how could you send it by wireless?” N. S. D. had put on my card, “By wireless from Los Angeles.”

My old friend honestly believed that the C.P.R. was the only railway in the world and Lord Shaughnessy the greatest man. One time in rearranging increases of salaries, he had been overlooked on account of having passed the age limit, and it was only when Lord Shaughnessy returned home and greeted him at the gate that he had an opportunity of airing his grievance. He told the Baron the case, and the next day was rejoiced to find that he had received a substantial increase and the back pay, which he never knew came from the Chief’s own pocket.

If Constable Richards is assistant to St. Peter as guardian of the gate, I will take my chances on getting in without any difficulty whatever, and will hear his cheery voice resounding through whatever is up there: “Hey, you fellows, make way for the Colonel.”

Don’t Own the Alphabet.

You may realize from what has been written about Canada’s big corporation, that the C.P.R. is—But listen to this: It appears the company issued notices to some hotels, restaurants and storekeepers, protesting against the unauthorized use of its initials, “C.P.R.” One such notice was mailed to Timothy O’Brien, who was the proud proprietor of the “C.P.R. Barber Shop” in a prairie village. Tim’s reply is entitled to a niche in the temple of fame, and is here reproduced without comment:

“Dear Sir:—I got your notis. I don’t want no law soot with yure big company, or I don’t want to paint a wife and family to sport. I no yure company owns most everything—ralerodes, steemers, most of the best land and the time, but I don’t know as you own the hole alphabet. The letters on my shop don’t stand for yure ralerode but for sumthin better. I left a muther in Ireland, she is dead and gawn, but her memories are dear to me. Her maiden name was Christina Patricia Reardon, and what I want to no is what you are going to do about it. I suppose you won’t argue that the balance of my sine what refers to cut rates has got anythink to do with yure ralerodes. There aint been no cut rates round these parts that I nos of.

(Sgd.) Timothy O’Brien...

The officials of the big railroad are reported to have acknowledged themselves answered.

Flour for Lady Macdonald.

When John Niblock was superintendent of the C.P.R. at Medicine Hat, Sir John and Lady Macdonald passed through to the Coast on the second transcontinental train from the east. John was out on the line, and missed the Chief—but disappointed as he was, he was not altogether phazed. He wired to Medicine Hat for the agent to send a bouquet of flowers to the Earnscliffe, the car Sir John always used. The telegraph operator was a green hand, and couldn’t send very well, so when the wire reached Calgary, it read:

“Send boq flour to Lady Macdonald with my compliments. (Sgd.)   John Niblock.

The operator couldn’t make out what a “boq”—the contraction for bouquet—meant, and so substituted “bag.” When the agent lumbered down to the Earnscliffe, the steward absolutely refused the flour as he was already stocked up. So Lady Macdonald lost both the bouquet and the bag of flour.

Good-bye, My Reader, Good-bye.

And now the curtain is rolling down, for seventy-three years make a very long act. Recalling three score and ten of them—thirty-three of which have been spent in the service of the company—remembering the all-important events that have happened during that period, and the radically changed conditions of life and living, remindful of the numerous retirements and demises of fellow-workers in the world-wide vineyard of the C.P.R., one cannot but realize that the corridors of the company’s offices will not long be trodden by the older ones of this generation, and that many of us will soon perhaps not even be a memory. With free one-way transportation to the Great Beyond, and a full consciousness of all our good deeds and misdeeds, of the things we should have done and have not done, and of the things we should not have done but did, with no pretensions to having been too good, nor apprehensions of having been too bad, and with a solemn belief that if we were unable always to be right, we sought to be as nearly right as we could, we shall fearlessly face the great overshadowing problem: “Where do we go from here?” The answer will come from the unknown world.



Mis-spelled words and printer errors have been fixed.

Inconsistency in hyphenation has been retained.

Inconsistency in accents has been retained.

Illustrations have been relocated due to using a non-page layout.

Some photographs have been enhanced to be more legible.

When nested quoting was encountered, nested double quotes were change to single quotes.

Space between paragraphs varied greatly. The thought-breaks which have been inserted attempt to agree with the larger paragraph spacing, but it is quite possible that this was simply the methodology used by the typesetter, and that there should be no thought-breaks.

The map of freight trains has been split into three images. The original was a fold-out which cannot be rendered appropriately in this media.

[The end of Reminiscences of a Raconteur by George H. Ham]