Canadians in New York

Beatrice Redpath May 1 1917

Canadians in New York

Beatrice Redpath May 1 1917

Canadians in New York

Beatrice Redpath

CANADIANS in New York! Where are they, you wonder, and where are they to be found? You ask the first American whom you meet, but he appears vague. “Canadians in New York?” he responds, blankly. No, he has never heard of them. For the truth is that the Canadian who has come to New York has been so successful that the New Yorker claims him as his own. But there are plenty of Canadians in New York, and this is realized by referring to the various Canadian societies in the Metropolis.

Perhaps the most interesting of these, and one with the most national spirit, is the Canadian Society. Its ex-president, and one of its most active members, is Dr. MacPhee, who was born in Prince Edward Island, and who wa9 a gold medallist before he came to New York to take up the study of nervous and mental diseases. He is now a professor of mental and nervous diseases at the New ^ ork Post Graduate Medical School and Hospital.

Dr. MacPhee is a staunch Imperialist, and his aim has been to make the Canadian Society stand for Imperial Unity, for Canadian Nationalism and AngloAmerican amity. He contends that in another country a Canadian society will not represent public opinion if it does not ■»tand for the Empire.

“A society of this description must be a charitable one,” he says; and in his efforts in this direction he has lived up to his ideals. He has always subordinated his own interests to those of the club, assisting it largely financially and with his time and interest.

DURÍNG the war the Canadian Society has suspended its public banquets, and the members do not expect to hold any national functions until the war is ended. The reason for this is that they

are fearful of appearing to attempt the influencing of public opinion. Also they wish to devote all their resources to the relief of the dependents of the Canadian soldiers living in the States. Apparently no provision was made by the Canadian Patriotic Society for the families of these men. and the Canadian Society in New York has the satisfaction of being able to say that they have provided for all the applicants on this side of the border without any aid from Ottawa. This has been due in a very large degree to Dr. MacPhee, although he declines to admit it.

This society has also a bed endowed at the Presbyterian Hospital, and a fund for sending indigent Canadians back to Canada. It is almost with surprise that one learns of the numbers of Canadians living in the States who have gone over to France to join the Allies. It would have seemed as if after years spent in another country tfcey would have become more or les9 dis-associated with the land of their birth, but there appears, to be no diminishing of nationality in the hearts of the Canadians living in New York. They are eager to be known as Canadians, though at the same time cautious in their speech on the subject of nationality, feeling as they do the sensitiveness of their friends, the Americans, because of the manner in which they feel their real sentiments have been misrepresented to the world.

AN interesting club that has grown up in New York and that now has a long list of prominent members, is the Canadian Camp. Its obiect, like that of the Canadian Club in . New \rork. is purely social, its purpose being to create a feeling of friendliness between sportsmen, its only requisition being that a member must have at some time camped in Canada.

The idea of the Camp was originated by Dr. Curtis about fourteen years ago. and he has been entirely responsible for

its success. The members meet once a year at a large banquet. Speeches are made on all subjects of interest to sportsmen, such as forestry, natural history, and travel, by men who know their subjects thoroughly. Besides this, they attempt to have an unusual menu of different kinds of vegetables and animal flesh not usually found in our markets, so as to show the members how different food may be prepared so that in case of shortage of provisions on an exploring trip, they could make the most of what they found growing in the neighborhood. There are quite a number of Canadian members who every year make a point of attending the dinner.

THERE are so many successful Canadians in New York that it is only possible to mention a few. It seems as though in all parts of the world Canada was beginning to stand for success whether on the blood-stained fields of Flanders, where the name of Canada has been spelled in blood and tears, to here in a neutral land, where, whether in art or literature, business or politics, medicine, or any other profession, those from Canada seem to win through to achievement in whatever they undertake to do. There are so many that.it is possible in this article to deal only with one class of successful Canadians; and it has been elected to deal with those yrho have made headway in arts and letters.

Consider first one young Canadian who has in a literal sense interpreted New York to the New Yorkers. As O. Henry has done for Broadway, so has Harvey O’Higgins done for the East Side. He has depicted largely the life of the Irish who have settled there. He has done it with a humor, an Irish drollery, and a pathos that have made his stories a permanent contribution to the literature of “Gotham.” The day laborer, the night watchman, the mother of the tenements, the little servant, they are all here. Mr. O’Higgins has portrayed them all with an infinite humor and tenderness and with a realism that brings both a laugh „and a tear.

l_I ARVE Y O’HIGGINS was born in ^ *■ London, Ontario. While at Toronto University he made up his mind to be a journalist, so he devoted most of his time to the study of history and fiction. To help out his rather meagre resources, he worked as a purser during the summer months on one of the Niagara River Line steamboats.

His first journalistic work was done for the Toronto Star as a reporter, and during this time he did some work that received recognition. But, not satisfied with the prospects ahead of him, he thrèw up this position to go to New York, his mind filled with dreams of what he would accomplish there.

It took six years of hard work. From space writing for Sunday papers at from five to ten dollars a column, he went into more active newspaper work, doing special assignments as an interviewer and as a telegraph editor.

“I wrote up everything from Chinatown to Harlem, and then 1 went on the telegraph desk of a daily till I had some words, with the editor and he told me that I couldn’t write English, and so I went back to rfewspaper work." relates Mr. O’Higgins. And all the while he was sending in stories to the magazines, refusing to be discouraged by rejections. At length he wrote a prije story for Collier’s Weekly, for which he received twelve hundred dollars. About this time he was doing stories of the New York Fire Brigade, which later were published in book form as “The Smoke Eaters/'

Mr. O’Higgins tells an amusing incidënt about this series of stories. He had a fireman friend in the Greenwich Village dis-!

trict, and he would go in to see him. One of the men in this fire department remarked to his friend that he didn't think much of Mr. O’Higgins’ stories.

“They’re not literature.” he said. “It’s what any fireman knows. That book wasn’t written by an author. Some fireman wrote it.”

It is interesting to know that during these days, Har0Vey O’Higgins. Arthur Stringer. and Arthur MacFarlane shared a flat together in Greenwich Village, and together these three young Canadians dreamed, worked and struggled towards recognition and success. And now that success has come to all of them, they are still friends, with a friendship born of the struggle.

O’Higgins’ first novel, “Don o’ Dreams,” was finished before he commenced to write Irish stones of which, by the way. he has written o\er a hundred. Among his most successful plays are, “The Argyle Case.” “the Dummy,” and “Polygammy.” i he New Yotk papers proclaim Mi. O’Higgins as “the one man who can write Irish stories.”

A N O T H E R interesting Canadian and one who has been unusually successful at a very early age. is Arthur William Brown, whose illustrations are to be found in any of the best current magazines. Born in Hamilton, his great

desire was always to go to a large city where there would be scope to realize his ambitions. His insistent thought was that as soon as he had four hundred dollars he would go to New York, and this wish being at length gratified, he went, and duly started work at the Art Stud ents’ League.

But studying at the League was a slow process on the road to success, and Mr. Brown evolved the enterprising idea of going on the road with Barnum and Bailey’s Circus, to do sketches of circus life. The originality of starting a career with a traveling circus appeals so much to the imagination that you feel that the man who carried it through will undoubtedly* have succeeded. Slivers, the clown, who killed himself so tragically about a year ago. was the clown of Barnum and Bailey’s at the time, and Mr. Brown, who says he found him an interesting and unusual character, would often assist him in the ring, taking the part of a clown himself. At the time he looked upon his circus experiences in the light of a oke. but it was the first step towaids success for his sketches, which he sold to the Saturday Evening Cost, brought him recognition. But. even so. it was a struggle, and for some years Mr. Brown was glad to have the opportunity of doing trifling work of any description for the magazines.

Arthur William Brown is now one of a notable group of illustrators which also includes F. R. (iruger, Wallace Morgan and Henry Raleigh. Like all in this group, his idea of illustrating it to bring the personality into the picture. His people are alive and vital, the people you know, the people you see every day. He has a special fondness for doing young girl and boy illustrations at the falling-in-love stage. His illustrations for Booth Tarkington’s “Seventeen,” are, he considers his best work to date. He is perhaps best known for his baseball picture?. many of which have appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. To do these. Mr. Brown does not sit in his studio and draw what he fancies,will delineate what he desires to express. Instead, he either goes to the spring training camp, or travels with one of the major league teams. There he gets the expression, the living personality, the real spirit of baseball; and that, is why his people live and are not dead clay — puppets that the author pulls about by wire. Mi*. Brown’s illustrations could of themselves tell the story without the need of an author at all.

Mr. Brown is the youngest of this group of illustrators and with a vivid personality and a large amount of energy, he will unquestionably go far on the road to his ambitions.

ARTHUR CRISP, the mural artist, is another Canadian who has aitomplished much by continuous hard work. Work, he says, has been the dominant thing in his life.

He-met w'ith an accident when very young, and most of his boyhood was spent as an invalid. Consequently, his parents thought that he would never be able to stand the hard work of an office day by day, and so they began to think of something easier, some less laborious work for him to do. So one day seeing him busily at work drawing pictures, they decided that the problem was solved. He would he an artist!

“They could not very well have thought of anything that entailed more hard work,” says Mr. Crisp now, “especially as mural decoration was the form that apfiealed to me. When executing a large canvas, I am like a day laborer, running up and down ladders all the time.” Arthur Crisp went to New* York when he was nineteen. He worked in the office of the Art Students’ League at night and attended the classes.during the day. After a year and a half he left the League and did not attend any school after. For a time he designed book plates at hi? studio on Fifth Avenue. Then he did decorative pen drawings, magazine covers, and so on, step by step, until he finally reached the goal of his ambition, mural painting, the oldest art. and, in his opinion, the highest. He got his first opportunity in this line from David Belasco. who commissioned him to paint seven mural panels for the Belasco Theatre, covering a space of one thousand square feet. It was

while executing this tremendous piece of work, he says, that he really learned to

oaint.

“Mr. Belasco didn’t know that I had never done any mural decoration before,” laughed Mr. Crisp. “But you can do anything if you have to. and those panels are among the most successful I have ever painted.”

Any man with ideas and ambitions such as these Í9 sure to be successful, so it is with no surprise that one learns he has won a medal for a portrait of the Pan Pacific Í Exposition, and the first Hallgarten prize at the National Academy, as well as the collaboration prize at the Architectural League. He has three of his panels in the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, New Jersey, and is at present working on another for the same hotel.

beside? doing a large panel for a private house.

Although his success has come to him young, Mr. Crisp has not arrived where he is without hard times. He says it makes him smile to read of the Chicago Board of Health planning how rt is possible to feed a person on forty cents a day. Two dollars a week was his average allowance for food when he first came to New' York, and l^e says he has never enjoyed life more than when living with five or six other artists equally povertystricken. They were all struggling to get on, not caring how little they had nor what they went without.

nr O be an editor and a publisher at the A age of thirty-three, appears to be something of an achievement, especially when it is attended with such success as in the case of Francis G. Wickware. the editor of the American Year Book.

Mr. Wickware seems to have all the necessary requisites for a career—an indefatigable spirit for work, a quiet strength, and a capability for sustained thought and effort being among his chief characteristics, a? his article published in the American Year Book of 1915 is proof of.

This article concerns the history “of the reactions of the European war in America,” and is an intensely interesting treatise on trade conditions and international law. It touches also on the American notes regarding the outrages on American shipping, and in fact deaU with everything that has affected AYnerica during the period of the war.

. Mr. Wickware was born near Smith’s Falls, Ontario. He graduated at McGill, and there took his degree, at present being President of the McGill Society in New York, spending a large portion of his time seeking out the McGill students who come to New York. After a course in Mining Engineering, in which he led his class, he was appointed to the Dawson Fellowship in Mining, and became an instructor in both engineering and English, while during the summers he undertook some surveying and railroad work in British Columbia.

But before he had served the full year of the Fellowship, and at the age of twenty-three, he was offered the associate editorship of the leading engineering monthly of Jjpth New’ York and London. Leaving college to become an editor seems so unusual as to be almost unheard of. SucCont inusd on page 93. cess has come to Mr. Wickware so easily, with none of the struggle with which most men are familiar who have started out on the road to their ambitions.

Canadians in New York

Continued from page 33.

After five years as editor of this engineering magazine, he was offered the editorship of The American Year Book. Thi6 is an annual encyclopedia of general information, including scientific subjects.

Mr. Wickware has also a general editorial supervision over Appleton’s serious hfpks, and he is now editing a two-volume Municipal Encyclopedia in conjunction with Clinton Rodgers Woodruff, Secretary of the National Municipal League.

Meeting Mr. Wickware, you would not imagine that the making of Encyclopedias occupied so much of his time, for he has a sense of humor and a mind that does not despise the more frivolous side of things.

“It all sounds very serious,” he says, -speaking of his life, “but it has been a very full and interesting one.”

O ROFESSOR SHOTWELL. of Colum* bia University, who is one of the most promnent Canadians living in New York, is oftenest to be found sitting in his study in a building situated close to the gold figure of the enthroned Alma Mater, who guards the entrance to this splendid college, for Mr. Shotwell has a mind seriously inclined toward work, having written as many as two hundred and fifty articles for the Encyclopedia Britannica, besides ither literary work of value.

Professor Shotwell was born in Strathroy, Ontario, and is a graduate of Toronto University, through which he made his own way by doing private tutoring in his spare time, later going to Columbia University on a Scholarship. At first he followed the study of literature, but later aimed his attention to history, the study >f the moral and economical forces that are the structure of civilization, appealing more to his very serious turn of mind. U one time Mr. Shotwell worked on the London Time», during a leave of absence from the University.

' I ' HEN there is Julian Street, famous A novelist and magazine writer. “He is a Canadian,” any one in Canada will tell you. “He was educated at Ridley College. His family come from St. Catharines.” “But he is an American,” the New Yorker insists. “He was born in Chicago.”

In any case. Mr. Street appears to have an inherited fondness for Canada. “There is an atmosphere of romance there,” he himself says. “This country (the United States) is a country of commercialism."

Mr. Street was at one time a reporter, and he has also done dramatic criticism for a New York paper. Besides numerous I other books, for the last few years he has ! been writing travel sketches which are ! lightly and amusingly written. They are not the record of a tedious jourpeying from place to place, with minute and wearying descriptions, but contain, instead, the personal note, the little human experiences that happen to all of us when we start out on our travels, but which the general run of writers so sadly ignore. In his books you feel the spirit of the place of which he writes, the little humorous idiosyncracies of the people who live there.

In “Abroad at Home,” he starts off on his travels saying, “that the typical New Yorker really thinks that any man who leaves Manhattan Island for any destination other than Europe or Palm Beach must be either a fool who leaves voluntarily or a criminal taken off by force. For the picturesque criminal he may be sorry, but for the fool he has scant pity.” But Mr. Street evidently cares little whether the man from M anhatten takes him for a fool or a criminal, for he has started another book of the same description, this time having started on his travel» through the South.

“It is such a big undertaking to give a fair view of the South,” he says, “with its troublesome race question, that I feel like a man starting out to build a skyscraper all by myself." Mr. Street is slight and dark, with a very boyish manner. The afternoon that I met him he was more engrossed with a plate of buns than anything else having forgotten his luncheon in his pressure of work*

EDITOR’S Note.—Thu U the first of « series of articles by Mrs. Redpath. The next will appear m an early issue.