In early 1934, the Red Deer Advocate published several essays by its editor, F.W. Galbraith — also first mayor of the City of Red Deer and my great-grandfather — as he looked back on a career in the Canadian newspaper industry. Red Deer historian Michael Dawe kindly supplied me with a copy of a booklet compiling F.W.’s essays, published shortly after his death in March 1934. I have scanned the booklet and am posting the contents here, for want of a better home.
I have italicized newspaper names (where “The” was capitalized, I have italicized that as well) and added paragraph breaks for legibility; the rest appears as originally published. An incomplete index follows:
Foreword & Introduction
- An overview of Canada’s newspaper industry
- Growing up in Guelph, Ontario in the 1870s
- Penniless, looking for work and walking 44 miles back from Detroit along the Canada Southern Railway; the Jesuits Estates bill
- Wherein F.W. Galbraith, eager local reporter, holds up a funeral procession
- A storm removes the roof from the offices off the Guelph Mercury
- A brutal murder, a trial and a hanging
- The Mercury faces a libel suit after F. W. denounces a man for “selling liquor freely on Sunday”
- Notable notables of the Mercury; a trip to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition
- The churches of Guelph
- James Gay: self-described poet laureate of Canada (more accurately described as Canada’s McGonagall)
- The rivalry between the Mercury and the Guelph Herald
- The Liberal party in South Wellington, and a garden party with the Governor General
- Touring the British Isles in 1905—from Inverness to London to Land’s End to Dublin to Sligo
- Mrs. Galbraith contracts tuberculosis; a surprise move to Alberta
- F.W. buys the Advocate in Red Deer; brings in electricity and a troublesome secondhand monoline typesetting machine
- Raising advertising rates just before a housing market crash; the Advocate moves to a new home
- Objections to advertising “some intoxicating liquor”; a muted endorsement for Minard’s Liniment
- The Galbraiths build a new home in Red Deer
- F.W. on the Municipal Council and his election as mayor; Red Deer is incorporated as a city
- Thrilling tales of the construction of cement walkways
- The Canadian Pacific Railway contemplates a line west through the Rockies via Red Deer; F.W. travels to Montreal to interview C.P.R President Shaughnessy
- The shooting of Red Deer Chief of Police George Bell
- Party politics in Red Deer; Red Deer’s failed attempt to be named provincial capital
- F.W. is named Unionist candidate in a 1918 provincial by-election
- A failed attempt at farming; views on the C.C.F. policy on farm ownership
- A 1924 trip to Europe with the Canadian Weekly Newspapers’ Association
- The C.W.N.A. enjoys an official reception from President Gaston Doumergue
- The group travels to London; F.W. & co. encounter Lord Beaverbrook, Lloyd George, H.G. Wells and Their Majesties; and attend a reception and ball at the Guildhall
- A visit to the Kenley aerodrome and a short flying trip
FIFTY YEARS of NEWSPAPER WORK
By F.W. GALBRAITH
Guelph Mercury 1884-1906
Red Deer Advocate 1906-1934
The Red Deer Advocate takes pleasure in presenting in this little booklet the articles written by Mr. F. W. Galbraith which appeared in the Advocate during the months of January, February and March. These articles were the last that Mr. Galbraith wrote before his death on March 9th, and the Advocate hopes that they may prove of interest to you.
Red Deer, March 1934.
This month of January, 1934, has completed fifty years of newspaper service for the Advocate’s editor—close on 23 years in small city daily newspaper work on the Guelph, Ont., Mercury, and over 27 years on the Red Deer Advocate in weekly publication. He has no regrets for the steady grind—week-days, evenings and Sundays—which the newspaper demand has called for over the fifty years, though the limit of his capacity is pretty well reached: he believes he has been happier in this work than he would have been in any other occupation.
Fifty years ago the hand-setters of type in newspaper offices had become apprehensive of the incoming of type-setting and type-casting machines: these were being formed on the plan of a typewriter, The first machine the Mercury had was the Rogers typograph; there were also monolines: then the linotype. The latter was first put into practical use by the New York Tribune in 1886: it is the standard machine today. The compositors in the Mercury office, married men with families, were being paid $8 a week, one $9 at that time; the machine operators today in Ontario would probably be paid $25 to $35 a week. The investment required for a daily newspaper and job plant fifty years ago, in a town of 5,000 to 10,000 people, would hardly be one-tenth of that necessary today.
Guelph had three weeklies before Confederation, but the Daily Mercury had taken over the Advertiser before the editor’s time, and today there is only one daily, The Mercury having bought out The Herald some years ago. That is the order all over the continent, in fact all over the world: the immensely enlarged investment, due to type-casting machines, more extended and intricate presses and other power machines for stereotyping, handling advt. types, etc., with the vastly greater services of newspapers in wider news fields, in varied departments, having demanded consolidation of newspapers. Guelph’s experience is only that of hundreds of communities.
The political party gospel preached, owing largely to this consolidation, is by no means so bitter today as it was in past days. In a community like Guelph the chief diversion in editorial expression was over politics. In Toronto, while Hon. George Brown on the Globe pretty well dictated the Liberal party policy, yet the “Clear Grits” and the Blake Liberals established The Liberal and an earlier daily to advocate more advanced views because they thought Mr. Brown was too set in his ways.
The regular Conservatives found themselves, too, with opposition: Sir John Willison established The News. And while The Globe and The Mail-Empire may carry Liberal and Conservative teaching similar to that which they did fifty years ago, because they serve in Toronto and in Ontario, something of the definite political belief in a larger population that they did in those days, yet the capitalistic dominance and consolidation has governed the political party teaching.
The protective tariff policy which carried Sir John A. Macdonald and the Conservatives back to power in 1878 and separated the parties up to Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s time, the Liberals proposing a revenue tariff policy, does not separate them today except when some notable excess of tariff rates spurts out, and the Liberal party stands to gain by nibbling at the old revenue tariff platform. It was only the outstanding British preferential tariff of 1897, generally credited to Fielding, which saved the Liberals in tariff matters until 1911, when Clifford Sifton swung to the Conservatives over the Laurier reciprocity tariff policy with the States, and ousted Sir Wilfrid from power: many Liberals believed Clifford Sifton took his course at that time because of a grievance or feud with Sir Wilfrid, and not on public grounds.
An interesting development in the past fifty years has been “chains” of papers, like the chain of Eaton stores. The editor remembers when the Southams took over open control of the Hamilton, Ont., Spectator. Today they have at least six or seven larger Canadian city dailies in the Southam Press, with its distinctive services. One gratifying Southam policy is that when they put a paper in charge of a man, they stay with that man until death or disaster separates them, and let him govern the policy of his paper to suit his local field. The Ottawa Citizen, a Southam Press paper, is the most radical daily in Canada. In the Canadian Press, in the various press bureaus, and in other news services, the daily papers have cooperated largely in assembling news and supplying special matter in later days.
Today it is only Macklin and Dafoe, of the Winnipeg Free Press; Atkinson, of the Toronto Star; Woods and Buchanan, of Alberta dailies, and one or two others whose names are known all over the Dominion, as George Brown, J. S. Willison and a score of men of their standing (newspapermen and politicians) were in the former days, except in the newspaper realm. Hon. George Brown went into a coalition government with Sir John A. Macdonald to put through Confederation in Canada. To his eternal honor, George Brown went down from Toronto to Montreal in the seventies to refuse a title which the Governors-General, Dufferin and Lorne, and many of his colleagues and friends wished to have him receive for his work for Confederation.
My father died when I was eight years old, and my mother was left with a family of five small children, with a home, rented rooms, and a ward grocery store to look after. I was rather unfortunate in my boyhood games: I was always tenth man in ball games or a substitute lower down. I had a finger broken when sleigh riding “bellygutter”. In turning into a lane I crashed into another sleigh: the other boys could not get clear owing to the icy surface. Fortunately, however, in the last sleigh riding one spring on a hill street, I crossed between the forelegs and hindlegs of a big horse on a wood box delivery in the more important street: the corners with houses and banks shut off the view. When teetering on the big beams which were fashioned for the foundation of the central school, I fell off my end on to another beam and was carried home insensible: “he is dead this time, Mrs. Galbraith,” the boys announced to my mother when she opened the door.
I was, however, fortunate in my school work: I got started before I was five years old and won several prizes. I wanted a prize in Grade 8 “—Johnny Jordan and His Dog” (I never had a dog, our stay was cats)—but the teacher thought that “Higgins on the Earth”, a scientific work, and Prescott’s “History of Ferdinand and Isabella”, were more suitable: I never finished either of these books. The Grammar School, or high school, teachers wanted me to go to the university, but there was no money.
The first watch I got was a secondhand silver one which I paid for with $3 I earned one harvest time. My mother’s cousin had two farms that year, and had a male staff in harvest of ten men, including his own. The uncle came in for role to relieve others for more responsible duties: it was before the days of binders. I well remember the first supper I had at which the men outdistanced me completely, and had it not been for one of the kindly girls, who observed that I was almost left at the post in eating, I would have finished very hungry.
I got fifty cents on Saturdays for helping in delivering for one of the central stores. When I left the high school I worked nine months in the official assignee’s office, helping with insolvent estates. My next shift was to a tinsmith’s shop: I was apprenticed for four years at $3, $3.25, $3.75 and $4 a week—I went to this shop because it offered the most money. I never made much of a mechanic, as the boss used me more for the office and the store: the chief was Mayor of the city a couple of years and was engaged in other public and political lines. As apprentice I pumped and delivered coal oil, packed rags, repaired kettles, cleaned furnaces and put up stovepipes —once the step-ladder spread out, and I came down with fifty feet of pipe in a long hall—and worked on eavetroughs and galvanized iron roofs.
When I was in charge of the store I had opportunity of reading daily papers, and I had not been two years in the tinsmith business before I realized that I wanted to go into a newspaper office: my call was clear. When my four-year apprenticeship was closing, I contributed one of two newspaper stories.
In January, 1884, I went to the Mercury editorial office. Mr. Innes McIntosh, the bosses’ nephew, came in to handle the editorial and news work, when Mr. James Innes, M.P., was absent at Ottawa. Mr. McIntosh was mighty glad to get some help, as he had been a stenographer and private secretary at the Legislative buildings at Toronto and was not so thoroughly posted on the newspaper work. The assistant did not get any wages, only the training.
When Mr. Innes resumed charge in the spring, I started out to hunt for a newspaper job, covering Toronto, Buffalo, Cleveland and Detroit without success. When I headed for home from Detroit, my money was shot. I walked 44 miles on the Canada Southern the first day, and played out at the end of 12 miles on the second day. I got on a passenger train to reach Woodstock where there was a Methodist minister and family I knew: I had not enough money for the railway ticket, but the conductor let me through for what I had. The Woodstock people hardly knew me: I was looking rather disreputable. However, they kindly lent me $5 and I got home.
I had not been more than a couple of days at home before Mr. Davidson, head of the Mercury business office, formerly foreman of the printing end of the business, sent up for me to assist in his office. His regular assistant had been on the sick list; in fact, he was played out. Mr. Cavidson offered me this man’s place: I objected to displacing him, but the boss said he would have to get some other new assistant if I did not come. So I went.
Mr. Davidson considered I was not entitled to so much wages as the experienced assistant, but I differed from Mr. Davidson, and the boss finally started me on the $3 a week he had been paying the other man. I was being paid $16 a week when I became a partner in 1898, borrowing enough money then to buy out Mr. Davidson’s interest, as, with the maintenance of my home, I had saved very little. The three years in the business office gave me a pretty good line on the bookkeeping, advertising and subscriptions so that I was able to take charge there in later days. I had charge at first of the carrier boys, the route boys, and the newsboys, who sold on the street. I grew a moustache in order to give me a little more age and standing with the boys as delivery manager.
When Mr. Innes was starting for the session at Ottawa in January, 1887, the regular substitute for a couple of years, who was troubled with tuberculosis, found himself unable to continue the work. It was too late to bring in another outsider, so the business assistant was transferred upstairs and a good citizen came from Winnipeg, where the boom had collapsed, to take his place: this new business assistant stayed in the office for forty years or so. Mr. Innes sent some editorial from the capital, and a regular weekly letter for Wednesday which took the place that day of the editorial.
The great issue at Ottawa that winter was over the Jesuits Estates bill. This was a payment of $400,000, if I remember aright, by the Quebec Legislature to the Order of the Jesuit Fathers, to extinguish their claim on some land which the province had taken over. The strong Protestants thought it a claim not justified by the facts, and they campaigned the eastern provinces—I remember Rev. Dr. McVicar, of Montreal, speaking at Guelph—and carried their protest to Parliament at Ottawa. It was not made a party issue: the Liberals stood behind their policy of “provincial rights.” Like all such issues, it was a catchy one, and Mr. Innes kept pretty clear of it.
After Dr. McVicar came to Guelph, the green editor wrote a two-column editorial, his first of importance. Mr. Innes sent to the Mercury office from Ottawa to know if Donald Guthrie, K.C., had written it. Donald Guthrie had been the member at Ottawa, and later at Toronto—he would have been, they say, a member of the Cabinet at Toronto had it not been for his deafness: he was Hon. Hugh Guthrie’s father. Bye the bye, Donald Guthrie was the bete noir of the compositors: a proof of every report in the Mercury of Donald Guthrie’s speeches had to be sent to him for revision, and the proofs when they got back were a fright: he went beyond accuracy to polishing.
To return to the Jesuits. Mr. Davidson was pleased to be able to reply to Mr. Innes’ inquiry that they did not need to go outside the office for such editorial: Mr. Innes sent the editor $10 as evidence of appreciation. Parliament voted 188 to 13, I think, against interference with the Quebec legislation. The only Liberal member of my knowledge who voted with the thirteen was from one of the Oxford “Grit hives”, and he explained, it was said, that he voted that way in order to save himself the trouble of defending the majority vote among his constituents.
When your humble servant was local man, he rested under accusation, so they told him, of holding up a funeral to get particulars of the deceased. The incident was like this. Our office building was opposite a popular hotel, whose proprietor, with his family, attended the Norfolk St. Wesleyan Methodist Church. On busy days the sidewalks on both sides of the street were lined with buggies, democrats and wagons backed against the walks. Mr. Davidson had his own time keeping a vacancy there for the Mercury customers and he used to think that the hotel had better luck in keeping their front clear, or partly clear, than the Mercury had. The bar was generally in demand.
One morning the office heard that a former Guelph lady had died in Peterboro, but was to be brought to Guelph for burial beside her husband. The reporter could not find anyone who knew anything about the lady for a report for the paper, and was finally referred to one of the Presbyterian ministers (Church of Scotland). Mr. Smith was not at his house when the Mercury enquired, and when I had cleaned up the local for the day, I went downstairs to telephone again.
As I was waiting at the window at the telephone I saw the minister in question driving slowly past on the street opposite me. To hang up the phone, run back through the front door, and along the more or less occupied walk and out through between the wagons to the wanted minister was the work of a moment almost. The minister was rather an austere man, normally, and the answers to the reporter’s questions were far from being affable. I was pegging away, however, finally halting the minister. When I found that l had halted him and that he was not speaking to me, I also found that I was under the heads of a team of black horses, which had been stopped either by the driver or by me: it was the team drawing the hearse. The funeral director was only second in his gravity to the minister, as he looked at the reporter and got the funeral again under way. But I had obtained a few lines for the newspaper report.
While our section of the street was not on the main street, it was not far from it, say one-third of a block, and with hotels, factories, and the sides of offices and stores cornering the main street it was built up fairly high—two and three stories and basements—and occasionally we had high blustery winds from the river valley east.
One morning it was pretty blustery and we had hardly got settled down to work when we were scared by a tremendous rattling, crackling noise accompanied by a dense darkness. We did not take time to figure out the cause, but unanimously concluded that we had better remove ourselves from the building before it collapsed.
Mr. McIntosh had just got back to work after being laid aside with a broken leg, and he and the news foreman were first in the rush, jamming together for a moment in the narrow door near them at the head of the steep stairs. One of the new apprentices was the only one who did not get out, and he was lame: they found him sitting at his case, where they had left him, when they returned.
The scare was caused by the high southwest wind lifting the galvanized iron roof of the sawing and planing section of the Bell Piano and Organ factories adjoining us, together with the mass of sawdust which had accumulated under it in the long range of the roof. The iron roof was lifted clean over the Mercury office and was tilted into the lane to the southwest, reaching up to the middle of our second story windows, one right where the lame lad was sitting. He was never a talkative lad, and he had less than ever to say on this occasion. One of the store window sills of a big store back wall across the lane from our office was torn clean out of the solid stone wall by the iron roof, and there were other marks of the passage of the roof—some of the bricks from our chimney had to be replaced. But no one was hurt.
A scholarly, cultured, Englishman, with a bald domed head, had been about a year in Guelph with his family, having uncertain office work: he did not get along in his main job with an aggressive book sales agency headed by a successful citizen from across the line, and was retired. What iron entered the man’s soul, or what history he brought with him from England—there were rumors of that later—I do not know, but one afternoon not far from press time, word floated into the Mercury newsroom that some people had been shot in his house.
I rushed up street, and the constable let me in the door which he was guarding. There, on the floors of the kitchen, of the upper hall, and of a bedroom, I saw the bodies of the mother and of two daughters in their usual dresses, all shot dead by the father who had followed them to these rooms as they sought to escape him: he had brought the younger girl across the street from the private school which she was attending. And the father was absent, off to Toronto to get the boy, with the idea, the police believed, of ending his own life afterwards. The police interfered with his plans by arresting him in Toronto. Some normal neighborly or friendly happening caused the discovery of the tragedy after the father had left the home, in time to save the boy. He had been assisting as a S.S. Superintendent, and the clergyman and one of his chief men—the latter was head of a private mental sanitarium in their town—took upon themselves his defence at the trial: his church people stood by the man loyally.
The Mercury reporter well remembers his anxieties at the trial as to getting entrance to, and accommodation in, the court room which was very short of space, with scores pressing for entrance. I had an impression that the chief of police took himself very seriously, and perhaps rightly so, as director of affairs on police lines and that the local newspaper reporters had to shift for themselves—the Toronto men got off better, with greater experience. I never could count on entrance to the court room without a strenuous battle in crowding and advertising my duties, but the last day or two my chiefs put up a protest, and I had better luck.
The defence was insanity—among the witnesses for the defence were the heads of the provincial asylums at Ringston, London and Toronto. Their views were that the terrible homicides were the acts of a man out of his mind, that his anxieties regarding work and regarding support of his family had unbalanced him. E. F. B. Johnston, K.C., Toronto, formerly at Guelph, and probable political candidate there, was the Crown prosecutor and he gave months of preparation to the study of insanity, as he knew something of the expert evidence he would have to face. I always thought, as I have told the Advocate readers, that the turning point with the jury was the answer of the prisoner’s expert friend at Guelph to the Crown prosecutor’s question: “Then you want us to believe that a man may be perfectly sane one minute and perfectly insane the next?” “Yes, I do, under some circumstances.”
The study of mental troubles had not reached the development at that time that it has since, and the Crown considered that the viewpoints of the experts were to be taken very cautiously if there was to be any safety whatever for the public from the vindictiveness and hate of desperate men, and even from men who had lost heart for themselves and for their families, as in this case. After a reasonable time for consideration, the jury found the prisoner guilty of murder, and at that court he was sentenced to death.
The hanging of the unfortunate man took place comparatively early one morning in the jail yard. The most vivid picture I recall was the small group walking slowly from the jail to the platform close to the high stone wall, and the two men I remember clearly were the prisoner and the clergyman side by side, the latter reading the service. I rather think Ellis, as in hundreds of similar cases, was the executor of the law: the name was not then given out. An inquest was held about half an hour later and the usual formal verdict rendered. I was called to account by my chief, as I had not turned in my story when I should have done, as I was highly strung up by my experience. My report of the final event was an imperfect one.
We were mixed up in one special libel suit. I denounced one prominent hotel man because the latter had broken, or was breaking, the liquor act by selling liquor freely on Sunday. Owing to my inexperience in barroom procedure I left my story open to the implication or declaration that the illegal Sunday selling was at the time of writing—in January, when it had been in the previous July.
The hotelman would not have gone to court probably had the Mercury revealed the name of the man who gave them the information as to the selling, which they did not propose to do. They had not much defence on the point of Sunday selling in January, but the hotelman’s record on observing the law was not of the best, and the battle had a good deal of bluff in it.
When I was asked as to who had given me the information, I refused to disclose the name. The other people had a pretty fair idea as to the man, but they wanted to have the Mercury acknowledge it. The prosecuting counsel, Maybee, of Stratford, after pressing the question for a minute or two, left it unanswered, much to my surprise. I had decided on my course—that I would go to jail rather than reveal the name. The judge, Chief Justice W. R. Meredith, in his review of the evidence, said that he would have compelled witness to answer, had Mr. Maybee persisted.
The jury gave their verdict in our favor—not on our legal position, probably, but on our good intentions, and the hotel’s doubtful observance of the Sunday liquor law. The costs went against the hotelman: it cost him some $750, while the Mercury’s costs were about $150: our lawyer, I think, was Nesbitt. The hotelman was so incensed over losing out that he sold out his business in Guelph and bought another hotel in Toronto. So far as the money went, the suit was a fortunate thing for him, as he made far more money in Toronto than he would have made in Guelph. Some years afterwards he and his good lady made a trip to Europe, attending a reception at the Vatican at Rome, and visiting their people in Germany. The editor met him in later years, and he had no grievance, but was always kindly.
My partnership with Mr. McIntosh on the Mercury lasted from August 1, 1898, to December 31, 1905. At Mr. Innes’ death, Mr. McIntosh found himself both partner, creditor and landlord, and as the business was demanding the investment of new capital in linotypes, press, etc., they agreed that, as Mr. McIntosh had the means, and his partner had not, that it was better that they should dissolve partnership: I agreed to stay on the staff for a year.
My relations with the Mercury and Advocate people and with Mr. McIntosh and Mr. Turnbull were always of the happiest character. Mr. McIntosh purchased The Herald in the nineteen twenties and in 1928 sold out to the late W. J, Taylor, of The Woodstock Sentinel-Review and his associates. I have often wondered whether the wonderful assemblage by the Mercury of material for the observance of Guelph’s centennial in special editions did not shorten Mr. McIntosh’s days: he died not long after 1927.
Mr. Fred Turnbull came on the Mercury in 1899 as an apprentice, and has been with me, with one or two minor gaps, ever since; he has been partner nearly all the years at Red Deer. It was the custom of the Mercury to take on an apprentice every year, if conditions were normal. After Mr. Turnbull’s first year was up, he thought the foreman was rather slow in bringing in his successor, so he protested, and was told to get a successor himself. That same day he met one of his friends, Fred White, and brought him in to fill the place. Fred White is today a member of the Legislature of Alberta for Calgary, and is head of the Alberta Federation of Labor, so he and the printing have done well by one another: he has been an influential Labor leader for twenty-five years in Calgary.
In my first years the Mercury had John R. Robinson, later editor for forty years or so for J. Ross Robertson on the Toronto Telegram. Mr. Robinson was studying shorthand in our early acquaintance: I have heard his mother read to him. His style was half a dozen short, grippy, sarcastic, editorials for a single daily column of The Telegram. It is a coincidence that Charles O. Knowles, the present news editor of The Toronto Telegram, also started his newspaper writing on The Mercury: he is a Guelph boy: I recall his grandfather, a rather ponderous citizen of standing in the town.
For a couple of winters Mrs. Galbraith and I had Turnbull, White, R. Humphries, now mechanical superintendent on The Regina Leader-Post, and occasional others up to the house for an evening class. Mr. J. W. Tyson, now editor of The Financial Times, Montreal, is one of the Mercury graduates. For years before we came West, Mr. Hereward K. Cockin, author of “Galloping Dick o’ the Greys: and other poems”, was a member of the Mercury staff. He had cut quite a swath earlier in literary and social circles in Toronto: he was an almost perfect figure; “well born”, if we may use the term, his father being a Church of England rector in the old land: he had seen military service. He wrote a special Saturday half-page and read the proofs. I have still a copy of the third edition of his poems: they were dedicated to Prof. Goldwin Smith. Mr. Cockin’s most popular poem in Guelph was some verses in the Mercury as a tribute to Daddy Downs, a foremost baseball hero in the Guelph Maple Leafs of his day.
Mr. Cockin and I went to the St. Louis Fair together in 1904. I was attracted by a small marble bust of Psyche as a gift for Mrs. Galbraith, and wanted to buy it from the exhibitor—a U.S. Italian, I think. He offered to make me a, duplicate, but I was willing to buy what I could see. So we compromised by my paying him his charge, he to send me the bust on view after the Fair. The bust arrived at Guelph several months after, on February 14, when I had given up hope of seeing it, safe and sound—outside cost, with duty, $6.50. Would not that strengthen your faith in your fellowmen?
Another Mercury graduate was Fred W. H. Jacombe, M.A., for probably thirty years an officer of the Forestry Department at Ottawa. While we had no “Reds” of the political type, our faithful reporter, John Mortimer, had the full red in red hair and red features. In crowding in a late local, he informed the Mercury readers one day: “The smiling face of Dr. Macaulay was seen jumping on to the platform from the six o’clock train this morning.” Dr. Macaulay had been away on an overseas trip, as I remember.
In my boyhood I went with my schoolmates the round of the churches. In the Church of Scotland they had no organ, and the praise was led by the precentor who had a desk or pulpit over the minister’s pulpit and which was reached by a stairway on the back wall. He saw great changes in church music in his day: he died at 92.
The Canada Presbyterian church on the central school hill, was not continued after the Presbyterian union, if indeed that long. There were two Free Presbyterian churches in the same block and on the same street, not one hundred yards apart: I knew well both manses. One minister was Rev. W. S. Ball, a tall figure of military cast and presence, who had married a sister of Hon. Geo. Brown, Toronto. His military leanings, as I remember, offended an influential minority, and they formed a second church with Rev. Dr. Wardrope from Ottawa as minister. Dr. Wardrope had a very mild voice and a lovable manner. He served in two churches—Ottawa and Guelph—over his fifty years.
One sore trial fell on their family one Thanksgiving Day, when the youngest son, aged 17, was brought home dying or dead, having been accidentally shot at a Gun Club tournament. Rev. Dr. Wardrope held up until the Wesleyan Methodist minister, Rev. Dr. Griffin, came over in the evening—he had been out of town most of the day. Then Dr. Wardrope threw his arms round him and broke down completely. “You know, you know,” he exclaimed. Rev. Dr. Griffin and Mrs. Griffin had lost their youngest son, aged 21, by drowning in Hamilton Bay, not long before. Gordon Maclean, one of the Bank of Commerce staff, and who brought his bride to Red Deer, I think, during his stay here, is a grandson of Rev. W. S. Ball, and Prof. W. H. Alexander, of the University of Alberta, is a grandson of Rev. Dr. Wardrope.
The Roman Catholic friends had a square on a hill towards the centre of the city—the gift of John Galt, the Scottish novelist, Commissioner of the Canada Company, to his friend, Bishop Macdonnell. The Catholic people built the basement of a special stone church building on the west corner of this block, but later decided to locate the church on the central high point of the block, facing Macdonnell St., which did not run through the block.
Archdeacon Palmer was the rector of the Church of England: his church then occupied a small knoll half way up the main street; he took his primacy seriously. The Baptist church faced the Congregational church on Norfolk St.; my grandfather was a deacon most of his Guelph life of over forty years in the Baptist church. The Wesleyan Methodist church, which our family attended, was built on a large scale during the boom times of the Grand Trunk railway extension in Western Ontario: when the boom collapsed they had to go back to candles regularly for a number of the church meetings. The Primitive Methodist and the British Methodist Episcopal (negro), as church buildings at least, are no more.
In my day the reputable citizens all attended church regularly: the man who did not attend church was the exception and incurred doubts as to his character. Our church had class meetings, lovefeast, quarterly fasts for the devout, Sunday Schools at 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., watch night meetings, tea meetings, socials, and special events. One old patriarch sat in the pew next us; he, at times, accompanied the preacher with interjections which could be heard over most of the church—“Amen! Amen!”, “Praise the Lord”, “Thank God”, “Yes, yes,” and now and then “No, no”, to the great delight of the boys.
The Chief of Police sat across the aisle from us a little way up—we were strong in civic officials—his big lady was a powerful adjunct in the Ladies’ Aid. He had a small head, vigilant features, piercing eyes, iron grey hair, and wore a monocle, with guard. He had been the first sexton. He pretty well sized up the congregations at the Sunday services. Communications were not so free and extensive as today, and ministers were glad to have relief odd Sundays from visiting brethren. The Chief identified one fairly gifted preacher as a man wanted in Iowa for forgery. It was afterwards a matter of debate in shoemakers’ shops and other places of public resort as to whether the Iowa man’s sermons could bring forth fruit in the conversion of souls and the spiritual enlargement of the elect: and, if so, what credit the preacher would get for it. My grandparents entertained an “angel unawares” for a couple of weeks, and their little cause had the benefit of his ministrations until justice camped on his trail so closely as to render it advisable for him to vamoose. But these were minor unpleasantnesses: the great bulk of the ministrations of the churches tended to upright living and cooperative helpfulness.
The pews in our church had doors on them, and a full pew cost $4.20 per quarter. The minister’s family had first claim on the centre one of the three double square pews at the front of the church, and his boys were under the eye of the whole congregation. Dancing, of course, and card playing were taboo, except in the case of one family of bright and popular girls, who were allowed to fall from grace occasionally: their father was an eloquent lay-preacher, and he never got through a sermon that I remember without warning us of the penalties of hell.
Old country working people were quite a factor in the class meetings: most were sincere and trusted, others took themselves seriously and wanted the more worldly to do the same, and one good brother took every class meeting available in order to relate his “experiences” and give his advice, whether it was his regular leader’s class meeting or not. Once, in my time, the Church of England rector and the Wesleyan Methodist minister had a prolonged argument in the Mercury as to whether John Wesley ever left the Church of England, while controversies as to whether immersion was the only right method of baptism gradually were left to the Churches interested.
St. George’s, St. Andrew’s and St., Patrick’s patriotic societies did much benevolent and social work, and celebrated the natal days of their peoples with special events, St. Andrew’s Society—we had a Caledonian Society at one time—usually had on November 30 a banquet, concert and ball, I think that was the order. There was a tradition that at 3 a.m. on December 1 one year Donald Guthrie, Q.C., James Innes, afterwards M.P., and John Hogg, perhaps our leading merchant, who carried the trade name of “The Wonderful Man”, with one or two others of lesser note, danced a Highland fling on the Eramosa bridge on their way home, but I cannot vouch for the truth of the story. The St. Patrick’s people usually brought in an outstanding speaker for their banquet. St. George’s Society deployed the old British ideals, and forecasts of the Imperial future. I might put in the Board of Trade here: One fall the business men put in two afternoons hoeing sugar beets for a progressive farmer who had planted some 200 acres over his district: I don’t think he made much out of it. The reporter did not incline much to these special events, as they entailed a lot of writing and night hours, but what Would the paper be without them, he reflected in his saner moments?
I well recall Canada’s Poet—“Yours always, James Gay, poet laureate of Canada and Master of All Poets this day”—a lone, old, bright-eyed, Clovelly, Devon man, who made his home at Guelph as a jack-of-all-trades. He had a repair stall and quarters in the partly-open frame market building, and repaired umbrellas, iron and wooden utensils, guns, etc., as a side line, played his flute for the boys, but whose real life-interest was poetry. Noticing in the Detroit Free Press an appreciative criticism of Gay’s poems, a written application was sent from London, England: “Send us a volume of your poems and we will remit.” A printed volume was expected with a charge, say, of half a dollar or so, as the publishers put it, but in place the poet, mailed a batch of original manuscript for publication:
“Then you can publish
These poems and send
Them through England,
And no mistake you will
Find they will sell like
Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press, E.C., however, were game and they issued in London a copy of Gay’s Poems, with a satiric introduction by James Millington. Simpkin, Marshall & Co., and Hamilton, Adams & Co. associated with Field & Tuer in responsibility for the volume. I could keep the Advocate readers interested for a page or more in quoting from this unique collection of poems. Mr. Gay made a little money, but “went security for our Tax Collector, who came behind in his funds, which ruined me.” So his trip to the old country was postponed:
“Your Honour (Marquis of Lorne, Governor-General–Ed.) I crossed the seas to go to see my gracious Queen;
She left for Balmoral on her birthday, so by me she could not be seen.”
It is perhaps to this incident, as Mr. Millington says, that Gay alludes in “the beautiful poem.” upon page 49.
“I have studied the feathered tribe, also my fellow-man,
As for their rascality it’s hard to understand;
It seems to be with them from their youth,
Everything, as it were, but honesty and truth.”
In his dedication of his volume of poems to “Dr. C. L. Alfred Tennyson, poet laureate of England, Baron, etc., etc.,” he writes:
Now Longfellow is gone there are only two of us left. There ought to be no rivalry between us two.
‘A poet’s mind is clear and bright,
No room for hatred, malice or spite.’
To my brother poet I affectionately dedicate these original verses, not before printed. Other verses from my pen, when so inspired, have been numerously printed in Canadian and American papers:
‘Giving a few outlines of my fellow-man,
As high as I can see or understand.’”
He goes on:
“Almost the first poetry I can remember is the beautiful line:
‘Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do;’
And sentiments likewise occur in my own poems:
‘Up, up with your flag, let it wave where it will:
A natural-born poet his mind can’t keep still.’
I do not know whether a Baron or a Poet Laureate gets any wages in England. In Canada there is no pay.
‘Ambition is a great thing, of this I must say;
This has been proved by the poet James Gay;
He feels like Lord Beaconsfield, and best left alone;
Respects every man and yet cares for none.’
It is a solemn thing to reflect that I am the link connecting two great countries. I hope when I am gone another may raise up.
I believe you have one boy, dear Sir, and I read in the papers the other day as he had been playacting somewheres. I once exhibited a two-headed colt myself at several fairs, ten cents admission, and know something about playacting and the like.
DON’T YOU LET HIM.
I hope to be in England sometime during the present year, if spared, and shall not fail to call round, if not too far from my lodging for a man nigh upon seventy-four which, dear Sir, is the age of
Poet Laureate of Canada, (this day)
and Master of all Poets.
Royal City of Guelph, Ontario.”
Mr. Gay was a great admirer of the Queen, to whom he sent four addresses, and of the Marquis and Marchioness of Lorne (Princess Louise), to whom he sent two addresses, and a Welcome to Ottawa. He received a medal from the citizens of Guelph, where he had lived twenty-six years before his trip to England. He received from Whitehall, London, No. 82626-2, an acknowledgement from A. J. O. Liddell of an address to the Queen: the letter had been forwarded to Lieut.-General Sir Henry Ponsonby, the Keeper of Her Majesty’s Privy Purse.
Mr. Gay was very fond of animals and birds, of whom he often wrote, and put in a lot of verses on current events—the assassination of Garfield, the death of Captain Webb in the Niagara Rapids, the war in Egypt, etc. He was a great patriot, a warm disciple of temperance, and a loyal, if detached, evangelical.
One upset we had in our usually friendly, but keenly competitive, relations with The Herald was when we sent down our Mr. Phillips—he afterwards went to Detroit and opened some unorthodox medical office—to Halifax to meet the Guelph district boys who were returning with other Canadians from the South African War. The Herald got wind of Phillips’ trip. With a daily paper, you have to keep in touch with your opposition almost every hour of the day: if the opposition is not on his regular beat, where is he? What is he after? It was too late then for the Herald to send a man down, so they wired the Halifax Herald for a special despatch and a special interview with the Guelph boys, which was duly forwarded, and our story had the edge taken off it, as Mr. Phillips would be little better known to the soldier boys than the Halifax interviewer. But the Halifax interviewer followed his story with an item in his paper commending the Guelph Herald‘s enterprise in getting the special story from Halifax. Whether he knew the Mercury had sent a man down I do not recall.
There was something doubtful in this commendatory item from the Halifax paper as re-published in The Guelph Herald, so The Mercury wired to a leading Halifax legal firm to have a search made of the Halifax paper to find what actually was said. Two juniors were assigned to this work, and they reported that no such item had appeared in the Halifax paper of that date. So we roasted the Guelph Herald, and Mr. Gummer, its owner, a short, stout, rather testy, successful, English business man, came down to The Mercury office and threatened us with a libel suit unless we retracted our statements: they had the Halifax paper with the item. So we wired the Halifax lawyers again, and the seniors in that office took the matter in hand, and were advised that the item was in one issue of that day: there were three issues that day, and the legal juniors had only searched two of them—poor fellows, they lost their jobs because of their oversight, we heard.
The Mercury had to make some sort of half-hearted explanation or apology—the play was on the use of the characterization of “special representative”. While we got the worse of it, I guess, we had the satisfaction that our constituency became well informed that The Mercury had gone to the expense of sending its local editor down to Halifax, while The Herald had got its despatches from Halifax men. The Guelph Herald did not go on with the libel Suit.
South Wellington, of which Guelph has always been a part, could usually be relied upon to return a Liberal member, owing to the strong Scotch proportion in it. Mr. Christian Kloepfer, wholesale carriage hardware, was the first man, I think, to break the Liberal hold for the Commons in 1891. He was not a speaker, nor posted on public affairs, but an outsider spent some three months in organizing. The Liberals were over-confident, and did not put in much work until the last ten days or so when it was too late: they got the shock of their lives in the election.
At the following Dominion election, our Mercury people were supporting the President of the Liberal Association in the convention. He was an excellent candidate, as we saw it—long residence, public-spirited, head of a carriage supplies factory. But a more aggressive element were backing Hugh Guthrie, who had with him also the strength of the Guthrie tradition in the townships: he carried the convention.
I remember meeting Hugh Guthrie on the street when he told me of his plans, and I said that I felt bound to stand by the Mercury people with the other man, but if Guthrie carried the convention, we would support him. Guthrie won the election, I think in 1896 when Laurier went into power. And he has retained the seat ever since, with membership in the Cabinet most of the time: he gave Mr. Bennett a run for the Conservative leadership. I was reading only this month where he had at the opening of Parliament in January, 1909, been promoted to the second row of seats in the Liberal section of the House of Commons. As is well known, he was one of the Liberal members who joined with Sir Robert Borden in 1917 in support of a Unionist (war) administration. He is perhaps the only man in the Commons of the front rank who has changed from the Liberal support to the Conservative, or Unionist, support and held the same seat all through the years; he has the second longest service in Parliament.
I owe Mr. Guthrie thanks for one courtesy. When Mrs. Galbraith and I were visiting in Ontario in 1920 we attended the Imperial Press Conference at Ottawa, long after we had left Guelph. We had no standing as to membership, but Mr. Guthrie went out of his way to procure for us entree to the state banquet, and to the Governor-General’s garden party, to the delegates: Premier Meighen was the chief speaker at the banquet.
The hold of the Liberals On South Wellington for the Legislature was broken mainly by Mr. Joseph P. Downey, M.P.P., of the Herald, an able and clever speaker and manager. Then Hon. Lincoln Goldie held it for two or three terms when a member of the Conservative cabinet. After his death, John R. Howitt, lawyer, was the Conservative member. I never understood why Howitt was beaten by Munro, Liberal, when the Conservatives swept the province at the last election, unless that the Conservatives did not get down to work, while the Liberals did.
Talking at the table at an entertainment in connection with the Winter Stock Fair at Guelph, Mr. W. L. Smith, of the Farmers’ Sun, Toronto, nearly all his life an Ontario farm journalist and leader, invited me to accompany him on a trip to the old country the next Summer (1905), each to pay his way. The idea seized me, but when I met Mr. Smith in March, the latter had forgotten, or had abandoned, the plan. So that was that.
Later I was talking with the Baptist minister at Guelph in the post office, and he told me that his father, Rev. Dr. Thomas, pastor of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church, Toronto, had been invited to occupy the pulpit of a prominent Baptist church in London, England, for the summer. The father could not go, but he suggested that the young minister might meet their needs: unfortunately, the answer was not favorable. But, from the talk with the younger Thomas, flared up again all the thought and desire to make the overseas trip, and I arranged to go at the end of June from Montreal by the C.P.R. steamer Virginian—the first trip of the new boat eastward: she was sunk by a German submarine in the Irish Sea in the Great War, I believe.
A couple of days before I was due to leave, Prof. Dean, head of the Dairy Department of the Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph, sent word that he was going for a trip to old country dairy centres by the Virginian. So we travelled together off and on for two months—I had the advantage in first class social boat accommodation both ways with the Professor, while I was only entitled to second class quarters, and his dairy associates gave us a luncheon at Glasgow. Owing to a misunderstanding, we lost one another once in London, but fortunately we recognized one another on busses passing on a main street, and resumed company.
The editor was a little free with his time in his earlier days in England, and travelled mostly on a bicycle from Liverpool to Manchester and Birmingham and to Land’s End, Cornwall, taking in Portsmouth, Plymouth, Weston-Super-Mare with its tides, Penzance, and back as far as Exeter, on the way to London: the bicycle was very handy for the shorter trips.
I might tell of visits to the old cathedrals and Castles, and sight-seeing at many points. I was as far north as Inverness, across by the Caledonian canal to Oban, where fell the first really heavy rain in five weeks—though we had rain in Devon and Cornwall during my journeying—since the downpour when we landed at Liverpool.
I went down through Stirling to Glasgow and Ayr, then over to Dublin and across Ireland to Sligo and return: We had a week-end at Paris on a Cook’s tour. My total cost, with four days with relatives, for the two months round, was $325: I went on a second-class scale. Often I paid 3s. (75¢) for bed and breakfast, and once, between fairs at Chester, they only charged me $1.25 for two nights and two days, breakfast and dinner. I ate meals where I had five knives, four forks, and three spoons as the machinery, down to a breakfast where two spoons, no knives and no forks, were the limit.
In the Market Hotel at Chester I had a room alone with four beds, each bed fitted for four persons: it served the Irish drovers and English livestock dealers for the twice-a-week fairs. In the first month, as I remember it, I went to bed with candles for close on eleven nights; I hadn’t seen a coal oil lamp at rooms before I got to London. I had a Baedeker guide book, and I got a pretty fair grip of my trails: I reached my lodging-quarters at Bristol one midnight without difficulty, having started from Stratford at 1 p.m.: the policemen were always helpful.
At Cradlehall, close to Inverness, I visited Mrs. Galbraith’s kin, the MacBeans. I never ate so much in two days before or since as I did in that hospitable home. One of my hosts introduced me to the provost of Inverness, who bore the same name as he did. While the provost had a wide range of experience with his fellowmen, and was a broadly trained man, he related one story of how the Hielan’ tradition remained in his consciousness. On an official trip to Westminister, he took seriously ill at a London hotel, and his wife told him that, in a semi-conscious or subconscious state, when he had the idea that his call had come, he had appealed to her, “Don’t bury me in their dirty English clay.”
At Dublin I was taking a night train across Ireland to Sligo on the eve of Bank Holiday. The compartment doors of the railway carriages were locked and I trailed up and down the platform. In time I saw two good women with a couple of juniors in one compartment, and found the door still locked. The answers as to how they got in were not informing, and they left with me the impression that I had better get in through the window, which same I did. The compartment had a normal capacity of eight or ten, but we had fourteen that night. An ardent Home Ruler and a Constabulary man got at loggerheads, and had it not been for the lack of room and the steadying down of the constable, we would have had a free fight.
One jarvey out of Sligo to Dromohair, where my father’s cousins and second cousins lived, orated to me as to the blessings of good feeling between Irish and English, between Catholic and Protestant, but when we met a redcoat rounding a bend on the road, and I saw my driver’s eye steel and his face grow grim, I discounted considerable of his palaver: perhaps I remember this brother rather unkindly because I figured that he overcharged me—one of the times of which I had knowledge on my trip; once a porter tried to charge me 2s., but I would only pay 1s.; I found afterwards the legal rate was 6d.
My father’s cousin and his sister had just leased their farm and were preparing for their latter end in meditation, Scripture reading and prayer: the sister kissed me affectionately. However, when Dr. Galbraith, my brother, went over in 1932 he found the male cousin still living in his nineties, 27 years after.
One second cousin, a merchant, upheld the British tradition. It was expected that I should attend church twice on Sunday with him and his family, which same I did: he had just beaten out a Home Rule doctor for the possession of a piece of property, and was being subject to a measure of boycotting in his business therefor. The farmer cousin was not so rigidly attached to the Church of England as was the merchant: the latter thought the farmer had no right to allow the use of a small hall on his place to the John-the-Baptist Pilgrims, a travelling evangelistic group: he admitted, however, that the farmer cousin could get work done by his Roman Catholic neighbors when no one else could, so I judged he stood well as a good neighbor, and a good man.
I saw practically all the front rank politicians in the House one day when an Irish debate was on – Premier Balfour, Joseph Chamberlain, Campbell-Bannerman, Asquith, John Morley, Sir Edward Grey, Mr. Redmond, Mr. Herbert Gladstone, and heard Mr. Dillon, Mr. Healy, Mr. T. W. Russell, Mr. Devlin, Mr. Long, secretary for Ireland; the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General were seated beside Mr. Long to resist the Irish attack. When our Press man visited Parliament in 1921, he ran into another Irish day, Premier Lloyd George being the chief speaker. I owed my access to the strangers’ gallery in the Commons in the afternoon in 1905 to Mr. Griffiths, the Canadian High Commissioner’s secretary, and to Mr. C. R. Devlin, M.P., who sponsored me at Mr. Griffith’s request, and I got back in the evening “through the judicious application of the current coin of the realm”. This was a phrase used by C. R. Robertson, the Associated Press representative, one of my hosts in London. Through Prof. Dean in London, I had invitation to luncheon with the Major Bros., one an economist of some standing, who showed us through their warehouse, “The Red Lion and Three Cranes”, with just such an office as Nicholas Nickleby worked in at Cheeryble Bros., in Chas. Dickens’ time.
Mr. Thos. Clement, of Glasgow, entertained us to luncheon at the National Liberal Club in London. We visited the British Museum, with its wealth of ancient and original manuscripts of famous writings, including Magna Carta; the Tower of London; the Zoo; Westminster Abbey, with its tombs of Gladstone, Livingstone, Darwin, Herschell, and the biers of Edward the Confessor, the Tudor monarchs, and Mary Queen of Scots, among other notables: those of Nelson and Wellington were at St. Paul’s. Philip and I saw the tombs of Karl Marx, his wife and daughter, of Herbert Spencer, and of Geo. Eliot, at Highgate in 1924. In 1905, Dean and I heard the Archbishop of Canterbury in Westminster Abbey: we enjoyed the choir, but I was too sleepy and too far back to get the benefit of the sermon. I visited City Road Chapel and John Wesley’s house and tomb, and Westminster Cathedral.
Calling on the parents of one of our printers, which parents were engaged in work among the outcast under Brethren auspices, I was introduced to some pretty queer slum places in the Spitalfields and Whitechapel districts, and saw such poverty and degradation as I never saw equalled until I came to Edinburgh: I went through Dorset Lane, reputed the worst street, in London. Of course, we toured the better West End. At Edinburgh I saw more of poverty in and about High St. and the Canongate and the narrow wynds which branch off them, though not to the extent as at London. It is rather a peculiar feeling to be recognized as “an American” by your voice: in my judgment, my English was a good deal straighter than theirs.
A peculiar entanglement of travellers is similarity of names. One of my boat friends from Manitoba was credited on the records with being from Winnipeg, and there was also on the records a lady of the same name also from Winnipeg, when his wife was in the asylum; he might have to give account of himself. To add to his troubles, in the list of those landing their luggage at Moville, Ireland, was a man of the same name as himself, so he had to keep vigilant watch on his goods.
Besides the famous church buildings I have mentioned, I visited “Ian Maclaren’s” church at Sefton Park, Liverpool; and Notre Dame and The Madeleine in Paris: the choirs gave us solemn music. It was fete day at The Madeleine, and they had choir answering to choir: at one Paris service it seemed to us that the priest came down after his ten-minute address and took up the collection: we had the Jesuit Choir Of men and boys at Notre Dame at 3 p.m.
I heard Gypsy Smith, the evangelist, speak to 6,000 at Manchester. At Manchester, too, I heard Keir Hardie, the outstanding leader, advocate the Labor cause: in the back upper gallery seat beside me was a man whose conduct was not satisfactory, and the police took him out. I heard speaking from four Labor platforms in a park in the afternoon at Manchester. At a church convention in London, they wanted 1s, for entrance, and I doubted whether I could afford it.
I had the pleasure of seeing the Canadians win the Kolapore cup at Bisley. We saw our friend, Captain Crowe, score second with 97 in the Canadian group, his shooting mate, Elliott, of Toronto, making the magnificent figure of 103 out of 105. I had a fine game of bowling on the green of the South London Club at Wandsworth Common, and another at Edinburgh. I watched a Yorkshire v Surrey cricket match for a couple of hours at Kennington Oval: I have an impression Jackson was playing for Yorks. I tried to extract some information from a chap standing beside me, but he was not communicative, and moved off: I do not remember that he was smoking, either. I was in the shuffleboard tournament on ship and our team reached the semi-finals.
I have spoken recently in The Advocate as to the times in Western Ontario when they paid tolls for roads, when we paid public school fees, when the baseball pitchers had their delivery speeded up and the curve ball was introduced in order to get them a better balance with the batters. I do not think that I was ever taught in the public and high schools of Guelph by a lady teacher: there was a lady teacher for the senior public school girls, and I remember the first lady teacher for the High School. There were three girls of rather mature years in several of our senior High School classes.
I find, in my reference to Hon. Hugh Guthrie, that I put his first election in 1896. That was the year Mr. Kloepfer was elected on the Conservative ticket, the year the Laurier government attained to power at Ottawa. Mr. Guthrie was elected at the next general election.
In 1906 Mrs. Galbraith weakened in strength, and we did not know but she might have tuberculosis from which her mother died when Mrs. Galbraith was a small girl. The Guelph doctor could not be sure, but believed that a trip would be of benefit. So, as we had an intelligent and faithful maid with whom to leave the boys, and the Mercury people were willing, we started out for the Pacific Coast.
On our return journey we stopped off at Lethbridge, to which city my brother had gone in 1890 as assistant with J. D. Higinbotham & Co., druggists, and had later taken a medical course at McGill University, Montreal. He was in 1906 junior partner with Dr. Mewburn. They gave Mrs. Galbraith a thorough examination, and reported that she was not to go back east, so Mrs. Galbraith, who had left Guelph on a six-week trip—railway travel was mot so fast then—did not see Guelph for fourteen years.
I went back to work but, though our Lethbridge folks were most kind, the good lady fretted for her boys, and I decided to come out, so the maid and the juniors came out with me to Lethbridge the last days of October and we took up housekeeping. I shall never forget the kindness shown me by the Guelph people—it had been my home since I was born in 1862, living in the family house until I was married, and then in a second house until we came West. Mainly through the brotherly activity of the late J. P. Downey, M.P.P., for years my “opposition” on the Herald, the citizens gave me a civic farewell and a handsome parting gift, while the church people were not behind hand. Mr. McIntosh facilitated my plans also.
It may be that I had a letter in Guelph from the late John T. Moore asking me to visit Red Deer, but I think it came when I reached Lethbridge, I am not sure. Senator Buchanan, head of the Lethbridge Herald, and Mr. A. B. Watt, editor of The Edmonton Journal—the former from St. Thomas, the latter from Woodstock—had preceded me on trips of inspection and location. Mr. John R. Cowell, who had come out with his family from The Isle of Man, and who later became Clerk of the Alberta Legislature until his death, was then the editor of The Advocate, but he, I believe, was anxious to be freed for the more speculative openings: he was an able writer and speaker.
The understanding was that The News, which had been purchased that year by Mr. J. A. Carswell, an old Oshawa newspaper man but who had been farming in Horn Hill since the eighties, was owned by Love, the editor, Michener and, possibly, Moore, while The Advocate was owned by Cowell, the editor, Moore and Michener. When I came up from Lethbridge to Red Deer in November, Mr. Cowell was away on a trip to the Coast with Mr. Michener, if I remember aright, and Mr. Oliver Franks had come in to take charge. Mr. Moore, however, offered me the job of editor and manager at $96 a month. He made me also an offer to take over the business, which I concluded was preferable and, as I had brought some money with me from the net proceeds of my interest in The Mercury, we arranged terms.
The Advocate at that time was a patent-inside paper, and had a circulation of 600 to 700. It was supposed to be issued on Friday mornings, but the foreman, who had not been on the job at Red Deer much longer than that year, and Mr. Cowell, who was not experienced, did not always make the grade: the week before I came in I believe most of the issue went out on Monday morning.
We had enough help, but it seemed to me that it was not used by the foreman to good advantage. We had a regular outside helper to turn the wheel on the newspaper press, and he had varying assistants. As Reg. Taylor would have had to put up most of the supply of power if the regular man could not be found when wanted for the newspaper run, Reg. was vigilant in keeping track of Mr. Wright, whose habits were uncertain. The first week I was in possession neither of our outside helpers could be found, so the staff took turns at the wheel, the new proprietor helping some. Mr. Cowell gave me a flattering editorial introduction, and I told the Advocate advertisers and subscribers in a short and quiet talk as to Mr. Cowell’s work on The Advocate, and as to my own purpose towards improvements in the plant and business, that,
“In taking over The Advocate, the new proprietor trusts that the relationship between himself and the readers of the paper may be a long and pleasant one. He will aim, so far as in him lies, to promote the peace, welfare and prosperity of the people of the district and the town of Red Deer. If he had any very special convictions as to the mutual relationship of the members of a community, they are that the progress of this district and town can only be secured by united effort and mutual confidence, that every citizen should get an adequate return for his labor, and that no man should get return for which he does not give value.”
Now, the editor’s Socialistic views today are not far away from that, are they?
In a week or so we had the staff organized on a more permanent basis. Mr. A. O. Franks took over the job of foreman until the spring of 1907 when he became joint partner in an hotel at Evarts: he is now one of the publishers of the Prince Rupert, B.C., Empire. Mr. J. H. Salton is now editor of the Castor Advance. Mr. A. G. Ayres, who was a member of the staff at that time, went to the City Office in 1908.
When Mr. Franks was leaving, I wrote to Mr. Fred Turnbull who had intimated, on my leaving The Mercury at Guelph, that if there was an opening he would be glad to come out—he had been at Cranbrook, B.C., for some months in 1905—and he came out early in June, and has been in Red Deer ever since. To him The Advocate owes much of its standing today: he was Mayor in 1931 and 1932.
The Western General Electric Co. was installing in November, 1906, its first electric power motor for commercial purposes in Mr. Frank Michener’s meat shop in the Michener block on Gaetz Avenue, and I have an idea that a hole had been broken in the wall between our premises to allow the electric power wire to be carried through to the Advocate presses: we had the electric power in December. But our tribulations with a Secondhand monoline I brought in were legion. Mr. Loftus gave up in disgust; he is now on the Edmonton Journal mechanical staff. Later we went back to the hand typesetting, discarding the old monoline.
Mr. Beaumont Came down from Edmonton in these days for his first job with us in 1909, leaving in 1917 and returning to us in 1924. After an unsatisfactory experience with our monoline over some years, we had our type set on the News monoline by Mr. Beaumont, and afterwards by Mr. England. We gave our order in 1917 for the linotype we now have, and the News also gave an order for a linotype with the same traveller. Theirs was delivered first. Mr. England came over from the News office to take charge of the linotype.
Mr. Carswell held Mr. Fawcus, now on the Edmonton Bulletin, until Mr. Cecil Carswell returned from the war. Mr. Harris has given us part reporting service since 1911, except for his ambulance work during the war. Mr. Ralph Griffin came to Red Deer in May, 1904, and started work at The Advocate in December, going to The News next month when it was started. He was sent over to help with its first issue in January, 1905, and continued with it, mostly as foreman, until it was incorporated with The Advocate in May, 1926, when he returned to The Advocate. In 1904 The Advocate was being run by Shoemaker & McLean, the latter taking an interest in The News and the management of the same, with Mr. Love as editor. Mr. Griffin, during a slack spell, worked for a month in the spring of 1905 on The Wetaskiwin Times while Mr. French, who is still its publisher, was away in the East getting married.
I found in a few weeks after I started that the earnings were not sufficient to meet the expenses, if I was to have anything for my family, so I proposed that an advance of 50 per cent be made on the regular advertising rates. In those days of stimulation and speculation, of briliiant prospects and free movement, 50 per cent was looked upon hardly more seriously than 10 per cent today: even five or six ministers and lay preachers were in the real estate line. I told the advertisers The Advocate prices would have to be advanced to a fair balance with the free and increasing prices of all other demands on me. I remember Commissioner Stephenson and, I think, his partner, Mr. Illsey, coming into The Advocate office one morning and reasoning with me seriously over such an advance, but, as they had one of the top corners on the front page, I persuaded them to try it out. On April 1, 1907, the new rates went into effect and I had hardly got the accounts out on May 1 for the first month’s space at the higher rates when the real estate business collapsed. However, the advertisers stood by me loyally, and we all worried through with the more moderate movement in business until the next boom came in 1909 (?).
Paying rent monthly for front street premises is not the rule with newspaper offices. They are just off the main blocks unless they are built in with stores and offices and apartments where investment is as much an object as newspaper accommodation. So I discussed with Mr. Michener the matter of a site for a new office. He offered me options on two lots—one on First St. South, then Mann St., half a block from Gaetz Ave. on the east corner of the lane back of the front street Michener and Teco blocks: there the Advocate office now stands. The other was on First St. North, then Blowers St., where the Elks’ hall is located. The price of the first was $1250; the second was $300.
As I was not posted on the advantages and prospects of the two lots, I took the advice of Mr. Michener, Mr. H. H. Gaetz and Mr. W. A. Moore, all three of whom favored the First St. South site. When I came to pay for it, Mr. Michener reduced the price to $1150, and took the First St. North lot back at $310. The Advocate office lot is now assessed at $1200. I may say, in passing, that I have always received the utmost kindness from Senator Michener, Mr. John T. Moore and Mr. W. A. Moore in my business relations with them. While I do not recall any striving for control in newspaper interest in my time, these appeared to be part of the speculative conditions of boom times.
I objected to advertising some intoxicating liquor or some objectionable patent medicine advt. on the “patent inside” of the paper, and arranged with the Toronto Type Co. at Winnipeg, from whom the Advocate had been getting that service, to have our “patent inside” without the objectionable advt. I was to pay $2 a week extra for the special service. As the Winnipeg people had contracted to circulate the advt. in Red Deer territory, they paid The News extra, perhaps all the $2, so we heard years after, in order to have it carried at Red Deer. The Advocate has not carried liquor advertisements: the editor did not believe in private profit—or public profit, if it can be avoided—in this doubtful business. The Advocate has also limited the number of patent medicine advts. to three or four, mostly liniments. Minard’s Liniment from Nova Scotia has been with the Advocate since we took it over, and before: it seems a reliable medicine.
In the spring of 1907, we were having a newspaper office built on First St. South by McKee & Cruickshank, which we occupied on May 24, and Mr. Hugh Clarke was building for Mr. W. A. Moore on our lots on Waskasoo Ave. North, residences for Mr. F. S. Simpson and myself. My family had come up from Lethbridge in May and we had taken the Owens house on the Creek, now owned by Mrs. C. A. J. Sharman, until our own was ready in October. Mr. Simpson had camped with his family in the fall in one or two tents on his lots, and they will remember their trials with the earlier snowfalls before they got into the house. The financial slump had come before these buildings were finished, and the outlook for full payments looked blue for a time, but the editor was able to float a loan with Dr. Galbraith for the office building, which he paid off in four or five years.
The residence financing had a more checkered career. Mr. W. A. Moore was responsible to the contractor for the payments, as we had little money. Mr. Moore had sold me my first square lot 100×110 for $100: they were anxious to get more buildings out Waskasoo Ave. North in their subdivision. Mr. Clarke let his payments of contract go to the last legal day, indeed the last legal hour, before he registered a mechanic’s lien on the properties to secure himself. He took action against Mr. Moore in court to get his money; Mr. Simpson and I were more or less associated with Mr. Moore in the defence, which was handled by Mr. Crawford. Mr. Payne was acting for Mr. Clarke.
The defence on the lien was that the legal limit had passed by one minute, I think, before Mr. Clarke had registered his lien at the clerk’s office. Mr. Payne was discussing with myself as witness in a friendly way the course of the construction of the houses and the expectations regarding payment: I was quite willing to admit that I had no desire to have Mr. Clarke deprived of his legal protection in the mechanic’s lien for payment. Mr. Crawford took umbrage at my attitude and withdrew himself from any defence of mine. Mr. Simpson had made some changes in the plan of his house, and was allowed consideration by Mr. Justice Harvey in the settling of the cost, while my unorthodox evidence, I always thought, did not gain me any consideration from the court beyond the full claim. Mrs. Galbraith always holds that she owes to Mr. Clarke the moving of the sitting rooms on the ground floor of our house to the south side instead of on the north side, as in the original plan, leaving the north side to the hall, staircases and kitchen, with results much more comfortable for the domestic superintendent.
Mr. W. A. Moore raised the balance of the money owing Mr. Clarke on a second mortgage on the house, which I gradually paid off, but the first mortgage, a company one of $1500, in monthly payments, I did not get discharged until twenty years or more: it carried eleven per cent. I increased it to $2,000 after five years when I needed money for various purposes. In my troublous financing of 1907-8 I had to abandon a $5,000 insurance policy of the Mutual Life, and I never got it reinstated: I held older and smaller policies, which came in handy for loans.
In one boom I had to pay some $600 to J. C. Moore for the two triangular lots I purchased to round out my third of the inner crescent residence property: I question if anyone else would have bought them, but I did not challenge his price. When I first occupied our house, the Subdivision had the one Crescent: later the Moore people and Seymour & Dawe broke the property up around two crescents, the original one between the two present crescents being thrown back with the re-subdivided lots of the subdivision. To complete the outer crescent the road was filled out on the river front with a platform and railing, and I shall never forget Mr. W. A. Moore’s almost tragic countenance during the high flood only a year or two afterwards, which carried away this roadway construction along the river—it was a hard crack—and threatened Mr. A. H. Russell’s (now Mr. Fred Castle’s) residence. If the City Council and Commissioners require more public works construction for the unemployed, they might consider redirecting the outer crescent road along the river which has been abandoned since that flood, practically all the lots round the creek, east side, having been thrown back to the town; they had been sold at $200 each.
Mr. John T. Moore, in his original subdividing, laid out Waskasoo Ave. North so as to carry lots on both sides outside the town to save town taxation. The boundary between the town and the L.I.D. and M.D. for years north of Fifth St. North and south of the river was the middle line of section 21: the front 83 feet of our residence lots belonged to the M.D. jurisdiction, the back part to the town. So long as the M.D. taxation was on land alone, we came out with somewhat lighter taxation, but when they assessed residences also on two-thirds value, we found ourselves with little difference, and came into the town, as we had advantages in fire protection, police protection, health service, road maintenance, etc. We always paid the same school tax rate as the town, as the school district extended beyond the town limits. I paid once several dollars to the three town firemen who came down to put out a chimney fire; the Moore people gave us electric light and power, and telephone service.
The Advocate men looked for payment of wages on Saturdays, I was given to understand when I took over, and I made out the cheques on the bank book of the office the first Saturday, intending, I expect, to go into the bank office and make some temporary arrangement with the manager. But some urgent claim on my time prevented this until the first cheque had been presented. It was promptly turned down, and then——.
The banking records of the newspapers had not been like that of Teco, and mine was, perhaps, only another phase of the game. Another bank manager heard of the trouble—he had probably word from Guelph to look me up—and he offered me a loan of $250, on my presenting my case. The Advocate banked with this office for several years, but when I wanted some $1500 in 1910 I was turned down flat. So I applied to the original bank, and a new manager had just arrived. Fortunately Inspector Manning, whom I knew pretty well, came in and, through his mediation, I got the money I wanted from Mr. F. M. Hacking, and had him paid off in reasonable time—those were boom years.
I served twelve years on the Municipal Council in three four-year periods. I reported the Council meetings for three years and concluded that, as I was due to attend the Council meetings, I might as well have a say in the proceedings sometimes. My first election was in the end of 1909, for the 1910-11 term. Those citizens inside and outside the Council who were most interested in the Council election had settled on three good candidates, one or two of them retiring members, and my announcement of my intention to seek election rather upset their laudable plans. I do not recall that anyone asked me to run for the Council.
I quickly found myself up against the objection that I was the representative of the Western General and John T. Moore, and I had to send a circular letter to the electors outlining my position and platform, and affirming my independence. I just squeezed in as third man in the election by eight votes: there were four of us running. At the end of 1912 Mr. Welliver was concluding a two-year term as Mayor in prosperous times. I had a hunch that I should run for Mayor for 1913, though I was not what might be called the senior alderman, and I had only served one year of my two year term. Two other citizens announced their candidature, but withdrew, and I was elected by acclamation.
It was in 1913 that Red Deer was incorporated as a city. We had a fairly strong council—Botterill, Carscallen, Carswell, Lord, Murrin, G. W. Smith. Five of the six had been or became Mayor. Lt.-Col. Cruickshank came up from Calgary and fixed on the site on the city square for the Armoury. The Commissioner’s policy has always been to hold the square for civic purposes exclusively, but he gave in that time. The Armoury was built within a year and then the war broke, and the Armoury was used to the limit. I stepped out at the end of 1913, after one year’s service as Mayor, as I felt that Ald. Carscallen, who had had what I considered perhaps the prior claim for 1913, should have his term. It was in 1913, too, that, in my official capacity, I spoke at the opening of the Parish Hall.
I sat with Dr. Collison as alderman in later years, and I have vivid recollections of that worthy alderman on his feet at times across the table, expressing his opinion in forcible terms of me and my suggestions, while I endeavored to take down notes of his utterances for my council report for The Advocate. It had a ludicrous aspect for the other members. I was scrupulously careful to see that the Doctor was fairly reported, especially that his opinions of me and my views should be properly set forth. Dr. Collison was Mayor for four years, the longest term in Red Deer’s history, and two of these years he served voluntarily without salary. We just squeezed through a majority against him in 1912 for building the bridge over Waskasoo Creek on Gaetz Ave. South the full width of the street, as Engineer Dawe recommended, instead of the normal 24 ft. roadway width: the wider span has come in useful in these automobile days.
Commissioner Stephenson and the Mayor spent an anxious hour in the city office one morning in one of the spring months of 1913. Cement walk construction contracts, I think for Gaetz Ave. South, had been directed by the Council, on petition of the property-owners on the west side: the Townsite Co. had the east side lots, and they did not want to carry the cost of a walk on their side, though it was the rule, owing to the construction of roadways and utilities, that the cement walks should be built on both sides. But the main point for decision was this. The contractors wanted to go ahead with the walks, while the boom had collapsed. Should we go ahead, or should we not? New sidewalks were needed, or would soon be needed there, but the sight of a score of unemployed men opposite the office windows hoping for work on the walks and waiting for decision turned the scale, and the contracts were signed.
Owing to the Creek water breaking up on the north side into minor channels on the flat, the marshy foundation gave us rather broken cement walks. The C. & E. Townsite Co. abandoned their lots, as they did all their other unsold city lots, after they had sold a right-of-way through the town to the Canadian National for some $42,000, I think, and the town has had to carry the cost of the east walk—but, on the whole, perhaps it was better, in view of the Hospital and the house construction on Victoria Ave. and in West Park, and later the building of the Nazarene Bible Schools, and the use made of the walks, that the cement walks were built.
Most, if not all, of the cement walks built in those years were financed on thirty-year debentures and were to be paid for on frontage taxes. The Advocate will have paid $150 at the end of the term or its 25½ foot frontage, interest amounting to about $2 to $1 of original capital cost. But the walks will be paid for in five or six years now, and practically all the walks will be useful for many years beyond the years of final payment. The life of wooden sidewalks was some seven years. It was in 1913 that our first serious arrears of taxes faced us, and early in 1914 that our banking relations became strained.
Mr. H. H. Gaetz and myself were sent by the Council to Montreal in 1913 to interview C.P.R. President Shaughnessy as to the extension of the Alberta Central west through the Rockies. I do not think that there can be much doubt that the Canadian Pacific seriously contemplated another line west through the Rockies, in view of the standard of construction of the Alberta Central and the deploying of the line to cross the Red Deer River and in view of the investment made in vacant lots in Red Deer in the boom years of 1910-13 by C.P.R. folks.
Dr. Grant, one of our stormy petrels for many years, always declared that there was not a pass through the Rocky Mountain ridges west of Red Deer to allow of the building of a railway. And, whether the C.P.R. engineers found that to be the case, or whether the directors could not raise the money for construction, or whether they concluded that the commercial outlook of this central district at that time did not warrant construction and a sufficient return on the investment, or whether Calgary interests blocked the way, as Senator Michener said, the project, if it ever reached a definite stage, was dropped. President Shaughnessy gave us ten minutes of his valuable time and illustrated his talk on a large map on a wall in his office, but his answer as to our main question was non-committal—I don’t suppose any definite decision had been reached at that time—and we returned little wiser as to C.P.R. purposes as to western railway extension than when we set out.
Perhaps one of the most hectic municipal incidents in Red Deer’s history was the shooting of Chief of Police George Bell in 1911. Mr. H. G. Munro, one of our merchant tailors at that time, had been working late and, in returning home over the commons then in the southeast end of the town, now Third and Fourth Streets South, was held up by a transient named Kelly. The Chief set out to search for him and finding him, was shot by Kelly in the abdomen with a revolver. His constables got him to the hospital, while the Commissioners and Fire Chief Horace Meeres organized the campaign to try and trace the man suspected of the criminal act. At that time the stealing of autos for theft purposes and escape was not known in our parts, and the only way of escape from town was by freight trains north and south on the C.P.R. or by the trails. I remember the Commissioners and Chief Meeres sitting at the city hall until well into the night, not knowing but that Chief Bell was dying and receiving no word of the suspected man from outside the town.
It was thought then that perhaps the man had not left the town and had been unaware in the dark of the effect of his shooting. The Boy Scouts, under Scoutmasters Gibson and Moore, turned out in the morning to make a search of the wooded section by the Fair Grounds east of where Mr. Munro was held up, and they located Kelly, and he was arrested and got seven years at his trial. Chief Bell, thanks to a good constitution and skilful attention, recovered. As a mark of appreciation of the work of the Boy Scouts, the citizens, headed by the Commissioners, contributed some $500 to send two of the senior Scouts to the World Jamboree of Boy Scouts at Windsor, England, being held that summer.
I might mention my support of McClure to obtain wider range of use of the city hall for citizens of all classes of political and religious opinions. I thoroughly enjoyed my Council work and my relations with the Commissioners and the Aldermen were always harmonious, even if we did not always agree.
Red Deer’s political party history has always been an unorthodox one—Moore, Michener, Dr. Clark, are three names at least, which will recall interesting issues and campaigns. Red Deer’s first provincial election, after Alberta was constituted a province in 1905, took place before I reached Red Deer. John T. Moore, who was the moving spirit in the Saskatchewan Land and Homestead Co., which settled a lot of land at and near Red Deer, was brought out by himself and others as an Independent candidate, with the main purpose of making a fight for the location of the provincial capital at Red Deer. In nearly all the states across the line, the capitals are not located in the larger commercial centres, and although Edmonton was at the centre of the Province physically, Red Deer was nearer the centre of the Province commercially, even with the opening of the Peace River country.
The Liberals, however, backed from Ottawa, determined to put up an organized Liberal party campaign in Alberta, and “John T.” swung to the Liberal side, and was selected as the Liberal candidate in Red Deer constituency, to the intense disgust of a rather turbulent Liberal group who professed to have no faith in Mr. Moore. They put A. D. McKenzie, of Penhold, into the field as their representative, and Rev. Dr. Gaetz was prevailed upon by the Conservatives to stand in their interest. The provincial Liberal convention did not decide on the respective claims of the two Red Deer Liberal delegations and excluded both of them from the convention so far as voting therein was concerned. Mr. Moore won the election handily, as quite a number considered him the better man to advance Red Deer’s interests economically in the Legislature, and this viewpoint had more influence than family and business connections.
It was not for want of effort on Mr. Moore’s part that the capital was not located at Red Deer: he brought the Legislature down—there were only two Conservatives had survived the election, one of them, I think, Mr. Hoadley—and the citizens gave them a swell banquet, toured them through the pretty townsite and environs, especially the east hill in section 15, and extended to them the utmost of hospitality. But I guess it was more or less of a dumb show, as the north country forces had practically decided on Edmonton, and they had the dominating power, both in Alberta and at Ottawa.
Then we had two strenuous provincial election struggles between Welliver, Liberal, and Michener, Independent, or Independent Conservative: I gave Welliver a run in one Liberal convention, but Welliver’s campaign justified his choice. Mr. Michener became the Conservative leader in the Legislature, and afterwards senator. Mr. Michener got through with very narrow majorities: in the second election, I think, Mr. Welliver was ahead several votes with one poll to hear from, a small poll in the Rocky Mt. House west district, and his friends counted him elected. But that refractory poll turned up stronger than usual, and the vote went almost solidly for Michener, giving him a very narrow majority on the total Red Deer voting, but carrying the seat. At one provincial election, Mr. Andy Forrester drove me out to Aspelund (?) one very cold night to speak for the Liberals, but the bills had not reached the responsible party and the schoolhouse was closed and dark, and we could do nothing at that stage to assemble an audience. So back we came.
When Mr. Michener retired from the Legislature in 1917 to become Senator, the Unionist (War) administration was in power at Ottawa, and those Liberals who had stood by Dr. Clark, M.P., in his support of the Borden government, were somewhat at sea as to a policy for the local bye-election. Finally it was resolved to run the bye-election, for our part, on the Same Unionist lines as were in operation at Ottawa. A joint convention was held, and I was chosen as the Unionist candidate. I always considered that my selection was due to the influence of Commissioner Stephenson, with whom I had been associated for years on the Council. The Michener wing of the Conservatives—I do not know that Senator Michener himself took my part—favored Mr. H. F. Kenny, an energetic promoter, and speaker and organizer then in the city, who has left us the mill and grain warehouse north of Campbell, Wilson & Horne. He got an excellent vote in the convention.
As an aside, I may recall that Mr. Kenny came from the same town east as I did: I knew his people and him well. Further, that he had better fortune with me in the Sunday school at Red Deer we attended. An energetic pastor favored Mr. Kenny as S.S. Superintendent, as I had too much work in hand, and two of the lady teachers waited on me and suggested that I resign in his favor. Seeing how the land lay, I quickly retired, and Mr. Kenny took charge. The S.S. never had such an attendance before or since as in his comparatively brief administration; it was a high water mark.
As to the 1918 bye-election. The Liberal government at Edmonton did not take kindly to this Unionist game in the Provincial affairs and, as the U.F.A. seemed also to be growing in strength and in interest in politics, they determined to hit hard and put an end, by decisive election action in the Red Deer bye-election, to these anti-party and independent movements. I went up to Edmonton and interviewed Premier Chas. Stewart, but though I assured him of my good faith towards the government as a non-party representative, they wanted a straight supporter. Hon. John R. Boyle and Chief Whip McNaughton established Liberal campaign rooms about where the Canadian Cafe is now located three weeks before the election, and after John J. Gaetz had been chosen as the straight Liberal candidate. They put up a strenuous campaign, bringing in practically all the ministers to speak and subdividing the constituency for organizing purposes in charge of members of the Legislature. I remember Speaker Pringle, of Medicine Hat, was at Delburne for eight or ten days, and there were two members at least in the west country for the same period of time. It is doubtful if the riding has ever been so thoroughly organized before or since as in that election.
Our organization was fragmentary, our platform indefinite, and there was a strong reaction against War conscription. So we were trimmed to a finish, and I lost my deposit, being ten votes short. I always thought that Returning Officer W. T. Coote got a hint from Mr. Boyle to allow any doubtful votes in my favor: they had beaten me two to one, and did not want my money, too. But the R.O. could not work it out that way, though he did his best. The election campaign cost me $700, and the Advocate did not charge me for advertising and printing. Mr. Gaetz moved the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne in the Legislature in January, 1919.
And then in 1921 came the U.F.A. swing against the Stewart government, and the Liberals have not been in power at Edmonton since that year. Nor has anything definite resulted either at Edmonton or Ottawa in coalition government since the War, except that the Radical forces, especially the Farmers in the West, have made a notable contribution to the administration of public affairs. As distinct from the political party system of Conservatives and Liberals, which has been seriously shattered all over the world, the economic forces are now more openly dividing the political parties and forcing the political issues. Though there may be political party victories in the future, economic issues and divisions are more openly organizing and dominating: the protective tariff and the stock exchanges have governed largely in Canada the past fifty years, though we have not been conscious of it.
I ostensibly farmed half of section 8, next W. P. Code’s farm in Springvale in 1914 and 1915. Some sixty acres was cultivated. I had one man in 1914, and another the next year, and when the family went out in the fall of 1915, we bought milk from the neighbors and eggs in the town—what little we had on our farm went to the man and his small family. I bought a range of farm outfit, mostly secondhand, and extended and improved the buildings. Our power consisted mainly of two mules. The secondhand binder played out and I had to get a new one, and we lost a mare and a foal the second year through some trouble. I figured that it cost me some $2,000 to $2,500, and it would have cost me more had not the good brother from whom I bought the farm released me from the deal after the second year. Why I went out to the farm I do not know, except that I had always a hankering to try out the farm.
It is only the very exceptional case, as I see it, where the owner can get return on sixty to seventy acres of land with some pasture, if he has little or no experience, and he has to maintain a hired man thereon. The C.C.F. policy regarding farm ownership should work out if the working farmer had enough land upon which to make a living, but a capitalist owner or farmer should not have six to ten quarter sections, with a view of making money, beyond his fellows—not making money in these days, of course. As to how the working farmer should hold the land he occupies, that would not matter so much so long as he has secured opportunity and scope for his living. The C.C.F. people want to weed out the private money-maker, who does not work on the farm or at anything else, but who counts on successful manipulation of assets or credit, or both, for kid-glove maintenance and position.
The settlement of the West was originally designed along the working farmer line—with free homestead and pre-emption, but as that was likely to be slow owing to the working farmer having little capital, the colonization companies took over land at $2 an acre when the railways came through, and sold farms on their own account, according mainly to the farm’s fertility and its location to market centres. A lot of settlement schemes have been floated and operated by railway companies and other corporations, but it is doubtful whether the land can normally stand two returns—for the owner or creditor, and for the tenant and worker.
As Mrs. Galbraith could not go overseas with me in 1905, we formed the purpose of celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary by a similar trip, only the second one, as befitting, was more “splendiferous”. It was a great deal nearer the 30th anniversary, however, before we made the grade in 1924 with the annual gathering of the Canadian Weekly Newspapers’ Association. This 1924 trip overseas grew out of the conference of the Empire Press Union at Ottawa in 1920; only in 1920 the Canadian daily men and public men were the hosts, the late M. R. Jennings, of the Edmonton Journal, being indefatigable in this service—he was never happier than in organizing a jolly time for his confreres. Mr. W. Rupert Davies, now of the Kingston, Ont., Whig-Standard, was our chief man in those days and he conducted the correspondence from this side for the return trip and went over in 1921 and 1923 to settle on arrangements for the 1924 journeyings.
It was fortunate that the contracts were made a year ahead with Thos. Cook & Sons, the world-known tourist agents of London, England, as the Empire exhibition was held at Wembley in 1924, and hotel accommodation at the Cecil and the Russell, where we mostly stayed in London, was at a premium. Mr. E. Roy Sayles, of the Renfrew, Ont., Mercury, who has been the C.W.N.A. secretary-treasurer for fifteen years, handled the finances of the trip, and returned us about $30 each on our set charges. Our contracts with the Cook people covered trips through England, the lowlands of Scotland, Belgium, and France. The party also called at Belfast on their way home through courtesy, so often shown on our trip, of the C.P.R. representatives. The Cook people procured steamship, railway and motor bus tickets—we travelled hundreds of miles on the charabancs–hotel and cafe accommodation for the party, while individually we took the costs to and from Montreal, and any side trips in Ontario or Britain, as well as the etceteras. It cost us two about $1500, the balance of which I got paid up at the bank a couple of years afterwards. Our Association had to pledge, I expect, to the Cook agency some 175 to 200 on the contracts signed in 1923, a year ahead, to procure the service and prices paid, and when a comparatively small number of our members could not make the trip as they had planned, we filled in with outsiders: a couple of doctors came in handy: We had 171 in all.
The Cook people gave us two good men who travelled with us from Antwerp, where we landed, to Glasgow, where the party took boat for home: one of these officers had been nine times round the world with Cook parties. With 170 people and one or two suitcases and a handbag each—the trunks were only used in London—no one had to give their baggage a thought after they had labelled it—labels supplied—in the hotel bedroom. And when we walked into the hotel at the next stopping place we were handed our room number and key, and found the baggage in the room before us: in practically all places, the party had to break up for rooms and go to several hotels. The newspaper men in Britain detailed a man to watch over our welfare at each London hotel used.
The only hitch of any account in the Cook plans, I believe, was when three railway carriages were not there, as they had been planned for, when we entrained at Arras for Paris, and most of us had to stand in the corridors. The Belgian government and municipal authorities assigned M. Camille Joset; as our guide, counsellor and friend during our four days in Belgium, while the French Welcome League and Madame Boas de Jouvenel, honorary secretary, did the handsome thing in Paris, with a luncheon at the Grand Trianon at Versailles.
We saw the statues of the eight cities of France in the Place de la Concorde in Paris, in their order of over fifty years before: the statue of Strasbourg had never been removed. When I was over in 1905 the statue of Strasbourg was draped in mourning, as at that time that city and the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine had been lost to Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1. They were not returned until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919: its continued presence had been a constant reminder of France’s grief and hopes.
We had an official reception from President Doumergue, who has been called from his retirement; this month “to save his country” by undertaking again the Premiership in the riotous outbreaks and the political uncertainties in France, and he shook hands with the whole party. Premier and Mrs. Herriot and Marshal Foch met us. Mr. Philippe Roy, the Canadian Agent-General, and his staff, were also wonderful helpers. Everywhere on the trip we met with the most kindly and generous hospitality from government and municipal officers, newspaper men, and public leaders. We were received by King Albert, President Doumergue, and King George and Queen Mary, all in some recognition of the service of the Canadian troops in the Great War: we had been perhaps the largest and most representative Canadian party abroad since the war.
I missed one of the days at Brussels, as I had to go to hospital at Malines, where Mrs. Galbraith and I were the care of Cardinal Mercier and his secretary, Canon Dessains: we had interesting, if fragmentary, talks with the doctor and the nurses—at least Mrs. Galbraith had. The Flemish nurse could not understand my not drinking beer. The party placed wreaths on the graves of The Unknown Soldier in each country visited and at Railway Dugouts Burying Ground not far from Ypres, we saw the graves of Colin Broughton and Marc Berton, our car kindly waiting.
We had ten days in London and thereabouts, the English Newspaper Society and the Empire Press Union having appointed a joint committee in 1923. Astle, Armstrong, Newnes, Lady Newnes, Knapp, Astor, Stuart, Burnham, Riddell, Ball, Brittain, Hurd, Turner, Buchan, and others, with the ladies, were most assiduous in looking after our comfort: there was another week’s entertainment available, with the invitations in hand, could the party have stayed. We went out to the beautiful country places of Major Astor, Colonel Grant Morden, and Lord Burnham, while Lord Riddell and Lord Beaverbrook were hosts at the opening luncheon in London and the closing dinner with six hundred guests. Lloyd George was the chief speaker at the dinner: I remember H. G. Wells trailing across the hall to his table. Mr. John Buchan gave a few of us an hour’s stay at Reuters, While The Times had different parties to see their plant and offices. And so on.
We were presented on our arrival with a detailed outline of our London program in a handsome leather case, while we had free passes for the underground railways and the omnibuses, and a complete London guide. Daylight saving came in handy, while the camera men were on our trail. And so I might go on. At Hyde Park one Sunday morning we heard advocates of Labor, of Prohibition, of Reduced Taxes on Beer, of Catholicism, of anti-Catholicism (this man had not much success in breaking in on the Pro crowd), of Mohammedanism, of the Christian Evidence Society, etc. One constable told Mrs. Galbraith, in reply to her inquiry as to what was the time for speaking, that “when they have their breakfast and a tramp round and a dip in the Serpentine and get agitated a bit, they are at it.”
Mr. Rupert Davies, who was our constant director—we owe him more than we can realize—kept due order in his society functions, his high hat and his orthodox attire representing us properly when many of us were somewhat at sea. The Lord Chamberlain commanded our presence to meet Their Majesties on a beautiful afternoon, when some ten thousand were present at an afternoon party at Buckingham Palace. Their Majesties shook hands with our directors and their ladies, as they headed the party which was lined up by provinces. The invitations directed “morning dress” and practically all of our men hired the proper outfit for the occasion where they had not brought it with them. John Mackenzie, a leal Scot, then of the Strathmore Standard, and myself tried to render ourselves inconspicuous in our regular travelling suits at the back of the line. Mr. Mackenzie is now publishing a paper in Rothesay, in the Island of Bute, west coast.
Mr. Davies had one mishap, as I remember, in Paris. He was sending two dozen picture postcards to Canada. He got some few of the cards stamped at the hotel, when he was called for some duty, and he handed the cards, stamps or money for the remaining cards, and a tip, to a porter: none of the cards reached their destination.
I deployed one day from the Wales trip to visit the parental home of ex-Mayor E. G. Johns and Mr. T. R. Johns, of Red Deer, at Ross-on-Wye. Things seemed unusually quiet when I arrived at the town at noon, and I found it was a half-holiday for the Sunday School picnics on the spacious common. The Johns home was on a gentle rise overlooking the far-reaching common and carried an attractive view. I went down to the picnic of the Sunday School with which the Johns people were associated, and had pleasant conversations with the teachers and friends, while one brother took me over the parish church and its memorials. I was most hospitably entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Johns and family: it was a beautiful afternoon.
Though only directors of our Association and their ladies of our party were eligible for the reception and ball given on June 30 by the Lord Mayor of London at the Guildhall, in honor of visitors from overseas who were in London for the great Empire exhibition, we were interested to participate in the function; there was variety of entertainment, especially music, for those who did not dance. My press standing failing, I fell back on my municipal standing. Commissioner Stephenson and Mayor Collison had very kindly furnished me with an official certificate of character when I left Red Deer, so I went up to the Guildhall in the afternoon and found the Clerk, Mr. T. Lewes Sayer, in his office. I stated my case, and presented my certificate. Mr. Sayer was not inclined to take the responsibility of procuring us entrance to the big affair; it was likely to be overcrowded. Finally he said he would give me one card with which I had to leave content. But I had just turned the corner from the narrow corridor to his office into the main corridor when I heard some one calling, and Mr. Sayer came hurriedly, saying, “Here, you might as well have the other.” We have a nice autograph letter from Mr. Sayer of the following January, in reply to written Christmas greetings from us. So we loomed up at the Empire reception at the Guildhall in the evening, much to the surprise of our executive: our supervisor wanted to know how on earth we got in: possibly we played up our lines of influence for his edification.
I had to go to the top again at the C.P.R. offices in London, when I wanted to get our return boat tickets with the party exchanged for tickets for a boat two weeks later, as we planned to spend a couple of weeks with Philip in Richmond and London after the party had gone home. I had no luck at the main office downstairs, so went upstairs to the office of the chief, Sir George McLaren Browne, who came down promptly, and we got, not alone the exchange, but a pretty swell cabin to boot, it was pretty nearly the best cabin on the boat, next to the lounge: we had all kinds of equipment, including an electric heater.
One function I must not forget was our visit to the Kenley military aerodrome, where the staff put on a demonstration of flying movements and manoeuvres. We were invited for short flying trips. I had an impression that the chiefs had an idea, from previous experience, that not many would go up, but 159, nearly our whole party, were ready to fly, and the staff had to hustle to provide the machines. Mrs. Galbraith and I went up in an aeroplane which accommodated twelve—the first and last air trip we have had, and a fascinating experience it was in our sight of the country below. We met the only officer who escaped in the Humber disaster, when a dirigible broke in two, and some thirty, I think, were drowned. Our party went down to Weymouth to see the Atlantic Squadron, but we took a rest that day. We had a delightful trip up the Thames to Hampton Court. We visited also Eastbourne, Torquay, Bath and Harrogate.
We visited the Houses of Parliament twice, On our second visit we were shown around by a Labor member who is a Canadian, Mr. A. W. Haycock. He afterwards entertained us to tea on the terrace and introduced us to Mr. Vernon Hartshorn, the Postmaster-General, and to Mr. James Maxton, the Labor leader.