SCARLET and GOLD:
COLONEL GEORGE H. HAM
THE famous Royal North West Mounted Police of Canada, whose record constitutes a strikingly romantic chapter in the history of Canada, was called into being in 1873 to preserve British law and order in the vast wildernesses lying between the Great Lakes and the mountain ranges of British Columbia. The newly-formed Dominion of Canada had but recently acquired these huge preserves from the Hudson’s Bay Company, subsequently to convert them from the Northwest Territories into the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
It was the duty of the little force, some 300 strong, known as the North West Mounted Police—destined to gain an imperishable name throughout the civilized world for its remarkable efficiency and valour—to administer the law and to represent supreme authority over this immense area of undeveloped Canadian territory. Intrepid pioneers were pushing their way into Western Canadian fastnesses hitherto unknown except to the aboriginal Indians, explorers, and agents of the Hudson’s Bay Company. As may be imagined, the R.N.W.M.P. had to exercise extraordinary discretion and courage in dealing with the free and easy forerunners of civilization and the fierce and untamed Indian tribes. Most of the people feared neither God nor man, and a man had to stand upon his own naked merit and strength of character.
Mere mention of the Mounted Police recalls scores of men whose names were for long and should be for ever household words in the West. For instance, there is Lieut.-Col. George A. French, R.A., the first Commissioner, who personally commanded the expedition of 1874, which opened up the southern section of the country and cleaned out the worst of the Yankee whiskey trading forts. Col. French was Inspector of Artillery and’in command of A Battery, R.C.A., Kingston, when appointed to command the police—a soldier possessing a combination of dash and disregard of red-tape which proved very useful. After returning to the army, he served in Australia and reorganized the defensive forces of that country, retiring from the service as Sir George French.
Lieut.-Col on el James F. Macleod, C.M.G., who was Assistant Commissioner under Col. French, and succeeded him as Commissioner, became better known as a judge perhaps than as a police officer, as he administered justice in the West for many years. Fort Macleod was named after him. He had been an officer in the Ontario militia and was Assistant Brigade Major of Militia in the Red River Expedition of 1870, receiving the C.M.G., for his services. Col. Macleod was pre-eminently a practical administrator of justice.
The first year the police were in southern Alberta (1874-75), Col. Macleod acted as commanding officer of the police and stipendiary magistrate. His men were almost frozen in their beds for lack of proper clothing. A raid upon one of the more or less notorious Yankee traders’ “forts,” which had been doing a roaring trade in Indian horses at a rate of a gallon of rot-gut whiskey per head, produced a welcome supply of buffalo robes; and besides exacting from the illicit traders fines to the full extent of the law, Col. Macleod judiciously seized the robes, and issuing them to his men solved a problem which at one time threatened serious results.
The gallant officer’s influence over the Indians was very great, and resulted in Treaty No. 7 (1877) with the Blackfeet and Blood Indians. It is to be regretted that his services were not adequately appreciated by the Canadian Government, and his widow and children, who had
faithfully shared in the hardships of his pioneer life, were
never provided for.^_ Governments are proverbially ungrateful.
Col. Irvine’s Services Against Riel T IEUT.-COL. A. G. IRVINE, who was Commissioner ' of the force during the Riel Rebellion of 1885, was also a Red River Expedition man, having gone out as second in command of the Quebec Rifles. He was Col. Macleod’s successor (1882) and possessed the same excellent qualities as his predecessor in dealing with the Indians at critical times, and was, like Col. Macleod, idolized by his men. When Sir Garnet Wolseley returned east a provisional battalion of militia was left in the Red River and Col. Irvine had command of it. When the Fenian filibusterer, O’Neil, made his raid across the Manitoba frontier, Col. Irvine had command of the expedition despatched to the frontier, but before the line was reached United States troops had solved the difficulty by the simple process of seizing O’Neil and his gang. Col. Irvine was a thorough gentleman, and those who knew him sympathized heartily with him when the impression somehow or other got abroad that his services had not been satisfactory during the Riel rebellion. Those who are in possession of the facts give the Colonel credit for splendid service to the country upon that occasion.
Previous to the outbreak he repeatedly drew the attention of those in authority to the trouble brewing, and when the outbreak occurred he showed great ability in conducting the march of his force of 100 policemen from Regina to Prince Albert. With the temperature below zero, he covered 291 miles of prairie trail in seven days, and the half-breeds were preparing to intercept this force at Batoche when, to their amazement and disgust, they learned that Col. Irvine had discreetly made a détour, had crossed the Saskatchewan at Agnew’s Crossing, some distance down, and was within a few miles of Prince Albert. Arm-chair critics thought that Col. Irvine should not have remained in Prince Albert, but should have joined General Middleton. However, after the rebellion, Gabriel Dumont, while in the East, confided to me that had it not been for Col. Irvine’s force in Prince Albert and the patrols he kept out, the rebels would have attacked the unguarded supply posts and wagons in the rear of Gen. Middleton’s column, which would have forced that officer to halt or retire, for he had never more than two or three days’ rations with him at the front. The half breeds were afraid to leave their camp and women at Batoche open to attack by Col. Irvine for an adventure in rear of Gen. Middleton’s force.
Commissioner Lawrence Herchmer’s appointment was always a mystery and just why he was brought into the force and made commissioner was never understood by out-
Olden Times In The R. N. W. M. P.
siders. He hac ;erved as subaltern in the British army and had later acted as commissariat officer on the staff of the International Boundary Commission. I was in the Ottawa press gallery and on the day of his appointment received a wire from a friend in Chicago announcing the fact. I rushed over to Fred White, then Comptroller of the force an d showed him the message. He was astounded that the news should have come from Chicago for, he told me, “the appointment was made only ten minutes ago.” I asked if it wasn’t William who had been appointed, but he said: “No, it’s Lawrence.”
A. Bowen Perry, the present Commissioner, was one of the first class of students at the Royal Military College, winning a commission in the Royal Engineers on graduation, but serving only a few years in the Army. He came to the front in the Riel rebellion under General Strange. He had a hine-pounder gun in his charge and risked his life to save it when crossing the Red Deer River. There being no other means of crossing Major Perry decided to make a raft to carry his gun and equipment over. Owing to the extemporized moorings breaking, the raft, with gun and ammunition on it, ran away and was drifting down the swift current when Major Perry managed to get the end of a rope fast to an overhanging tree and it held. Owing to the peculiar position of raft, rope, tree and current had the rope parted again, Major Perry must have been crushed to death or drowned. He took the risk and won.
The force to-day ir 1,800 strong, six times its original strength, and its operations are extended all over the Dominion. Amongst the newly-recruited force, like the first command, are a large number of the brightest and bravest of young Britishers, many of whom are sons of distinguished families, and they are maintaining the enviable high prestige that the force has gained since its organization nearly half a century ago.
CUPERINTENDENT G. E. SAUNDERS was one of '-J several officers of the force who splendidly showed by their records that officers who wear monocles and bestow careful attention upon personal appearance are none the less good men, and efficient, confidence-inspiring officers. Severely wounded in South Africa, he again saw service in the Great War and rendered a splendid account of himself. He was perhaps one of the handsomest officers in a force which was largely composed of good-looking men.
I recall a number of former officers of the force whom it was a treat to look upon—Assistant Commissioner J. H. Mcllree, as plucky and as courteous as he was goo 1-looking; Superintendent Frank Norman, alert, eagle-eyed and active; Superintendent R. B. Deane, one of the fine old school of officers, formerly of the Royal Marines; Superintendent J. D. Moodie, who was the first Mounted Policeman to command a deep sea naval expedition, namely that to Hudson Bay; Col. Walker, of Calgary, is still in the flesh, and like his namesake, Johnny Walker, still going strong.
Inspector W. D. Jarvis was another of the original officers of the force, he having gone out as Inspector in command of A Division and having had charge of the column which proceeded via Qu'Appelle, Touchwood, Batoche, Carlton and Pitt to Edmonton while Col. French and Col. Macleod were marching through Southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. Inspector Jarvis was much beloved in the force. It will be interesting to many friends and admirers of the late Sir Sam Steele to know that Inspector Jarvis was largely instrumental in securing a commission forthat gallant, officer. Sir Sam, who had been a non-commissioned officer in A Battery under Col. French, was sergeant-major of A Division of the Police on Jarvis’ march to Edmonton in 1874. Forage and rations gave out and rotten weather was experienced. It was then that
Sam Steele’s pluck and energy showed up and Inspector Jarvis in his official report spoke very highly of his services, especially mentioning that he had done manual labor of at least two men. Sir Sam’s services at turbulent railhead camps during the construction of the C.P.H. through the mountains, at Loon Lake and Frenchman’s Butte in 1885, in the Yukon In the gold rush days, in South Africa while commanding Lord Strathcona’s Horse, and in England during the recent war, are too well known, or should be, to require reference to them here.
Superintendent A. R. Maedonnell was one of the oldtimers who knew how to handle the noble red man and the half-breed. Upon one occasion in 1885, he set out with three or four men to get eight Indian horse thieves, and located them in a camp of 45 lodges near Wood Mountain. The chief man in the camp presuming to make threats, Supt. Maedonnell simply covered him with his revolver, ordered the thieves to be produced, triumphantly took them and the stolen horses out of the camp, and on returning to headquarters tried the prisoners and sentenced them. Superintendent Maedonnell was commonly known as “Old Paper Collar,” a name bestowed upon him for his alleged partiality to that very practical and at one time economical article of attire.
Treating With Sitting Bull
AMONG the giants of those days Major James M. (“Bob”) Walsh was noted as one of outstanding courage and wisdom in dealing with white men or Indians. His word was law and he never broke his word. His cool fearlessness and his integrity gained for him the absolute confidence and the high regard of the Indian chiefs throughout the Northwest Territories, and this enviable esteem stood him in good stead upon the memorable occasion of his dealing with the great Sioux chief, Sitting Bull, following the Custer massacre in 1876. Gold had been discovered in the U.S. territory allotted to the Indians. Prospectors and miners had invaded the Indians’ hunting-grounds with the result that trouble ensued between the white men and the Indians. Sitting Bull and his braves finally came into conflict with the U.S. authorities, and Gen. Custer and his men were exterminated at the battle of the Little Big Horn River in Montana in June, 1876.
After the battle Sitting Bull and many of his warriors fled northward and entered Canada near Fort Walsh, a police post founded by Major Walsh in 1874 among the Cypress Hills. Sitting Bull was pursued by a party of U.S. troopers, who, incensed by the Custer disaster, were disposed to follow him into British territory and wreak vengeance upon the Sioux chief. ■>
But Sitting Bull claimed sanctuary under the British flag, and it was at this critical juncture that Major Walsh’s courage, sagacity and sound judgment prevented an awkward and dangerous international situation. Major Walsh, under the instructions of Col. Macleod and Col. Irvine, had naturally kept himself closely and accurately informed concerning the warfare between Sitting Bull and the U.S. authorities, and was aware not only of the Custer massacre but also of Sitting Bull’s flight toward Canada. He was promptly on hand when the Sioux chief and his band of warriors crossed the boundary line, and warned the pursuing U.S. forces not to invade Canadian territory or the N.W.M.P. would be compelled to deal vigorously with the situation. Major Walsh was widely known personally and by repute on both sides of the boundary by white men and Indians, by the civil and military authorites. The U.S. troops halted at the border.
Major Walsh, accompanied by one of his sergeants, rode into the camp of Sitting Bull to ascertain his intentions and discuss the situation. The Sioux chief and his men were in a dangerous mood after the Custer engagement and their harsh treatment by the United States, and were ready to light to the last man if need be. They did not know if Major Walsh came as friend or foe, and he certainly took his life in his hand when he rode into Sitting Bull’s camp. But the Major told Sitting Bull that he and his people might remain in Canada so long as they obeyed the laws and created no disturbance, as indeed they did remain, more or less happily, for the rest of their flays.
Sitting Bull maintained an intense hatred for the United States which he claimed had persecuted him infamously and had callously violated its treaties with him repeatedly. But he became a firm friend and ardent admirer of Major Walsh, and in after years it was the Major who arranged and presided over interviews between Sitting Bull and sundry American journalists and politicians. John J. Finnerty, one time war correspondent of the Chicago Times, has given a graphic description of such a meeting, and the Major in his scarlet uniform is a conspicuous figure in the group.
Another characteristic incident occurred in 1877 when hands of the Saulteaux and Assiniboine Indians became involve«] in a tribal fight near Fort Walsh. Major Walsh ami a handful of policemen rode into the Cypress Hills
direct to the headquarters of the warring tribes—many hundred of them -arrested the ringleaders, told them he intended to take them to Fort Walsh to be tried by the law «if their Mother, the Great White Queen, and at once brought about peace and quietness among these fierce and reckless warriors. Those who know the character of the Indians there in those days appreciate the risk run by Major Walsh and his few policemen.
Major Walsh had various titles among the Indian tribes of the great West. By some he was known as "Wahonkeza,” meaning "Long Lance” while the Piegans called
him “The White Chief of the Assiniboines.” The Assiniboines called him “The-one-that ties” from the fact that on his first official visit to the Piegans he shackled four of the wrong-doers with great promptness. He negotiated the cession of the Assiniboia by the Indian chiefs to the Canadian Government.
Major Walsh and the late Dr. G. W.
Beers, of Montreal, were often classed together as fathers of modern lacrosse in Canada. Certain it is that Major Walsh was captain of the Prescott lacrosse team in the days of its championship and when it toured Canada and the U.S.
Assistant Commissioner W. H. Herchmer was dearly beloved in the force as a dare-devil and there was considerable expression of surprise in some quarters when his brother Lawrence Herchmer, was made Commissioner in 1886, instead of him. “Old Bill” Herchmer, as he was was known, came into public notice first as commanding officer of Lord Lome’s escort on his western tour, and again attracted attention as Chief of Staff to Colonel Otter during the 1885 campaign.
He commanded for many years at Calgary, where his sadly tragic death was deeply regretted.
Inspector G. A. Brisbois was known in the force as the founder of Calgary. He commanded B Division under Col. French and was sent up to the forks of the Bow and Elbow to watch some trading posts established near there. He had rough barracks built, which were the first permanent buildings on the site of the present city. Inspector Brisbois dated his first official report in 1875 from “Fort Brisbois,” and for some time the barracks were so designated. Popularly Calgary was known by a variety of names as "The Mouth,”
“Elbow River,” “The Junction,” etc. Confusion resulting, Colonel Macleod was deputed by Sir John Macdonald to confer a name on the post and he called it by the name of his paternal home in Scotland, “Calgarry,” which is Gaelic for “Clear Running Water.” The spelling reformer has since been busy, and so we now have the name with the single “r.”
Of course, there are many others of the former officers and men of the force one could and would like to write about did space permit—men like Supt. Griesbach, the first to join the ranks as a buck policeman, and whose son is now representative of Edmonton in the Dominion parliament; Lawrence Fortesque, C.M.G., I.S.O., who enlisted as a buck policeman and rose to the comptrollership of the force—he is now retired and living in England, but he pays occasional visits to Canada and I had the pleasure of renewing old acquaintance with him the other day in Ottawa; Major Winder; Jacob Carvell: Dalrymple Clarke, a nephew of Sir John Macdonald; Supt. Shortcliffe; Capt. Jack French, who was shot at Batoche in ’85, while attacking a Metis stronghold, and whose posthumous son is an officer of the force and won H’«-
I.S.O. for service in the arctic regions; Dr. Kittson, the original surgeon, a member of Commodore Kittson’s family; Dr. G. H. Kennedy, from Dundas, Ont., who succeeded Dr Kittson; Dr. Dodds; Dr. Jukes, who was possessed of a remarkable memory, and had high literary tastes; Veterinary Surgeon Burnett, who has been 34 years with the force and is a horseman with very few equals anywhere; Supt. Gagnon, 27 years in the force, who married Hon. Joseph Royal’s daughter, who received the surrender of Big Bear and distinguished himself overseas: Supt. L. N. F. Crozier, who commanded at the action at Duck Lake in 1885, and whose reports to the Government previous to the rebellion, if acted upon, might have prevented any uprising; Inspector Joe Howe, the nephew of the great Nova Scotian statesman, who was wounded at Duck Lake and later rendered distinguished service in South Africa; Assistant Commissioner “Zack” Wood, who was an officer in the 90th in 1885, did great service in the Yukon, and is now stationed in the arctic regions; Charlie Constantine; Wroughton; Belcher; Shortcliffe, Morris, who commanded the post at Battleford during the Riel trouble; Routledge; Starnes, the present Assistant Commissioner, a nephew of Hon. Henry Lome of Manitoba; Strickland; poor Chalmers, who died a hero’s death while trying to save the life of his comrade Saunders in South Africa; Jack Cotton; Dickens, of whom mention has been made; Inspector Jack Allen, who figured in the final incident of the “Almighty Voice” tragedy in May, 1897 Jack was a born fighter, and has seen service since che early sixties—at Windsor (Ont.) border, during the Civil War, and during the Fenian raid in ’66, and was through the South African war and did great service in Great Britain during the recent Great War; Supt. Cecil R. Denny, of a distinguished Irish family; Col. Osborne Smith, after whom Fort Osborne in Winnipeg was named, and who was temporary commissioner of the force for a brief period in 1873; Major Charles F. Young, a British officer who fought in the Maori war in New Zealand, and is now police magistrate in Prince Albert (a man of convivial habits, but with a stern sense of duty—a sort of kind-hearted official who would shed tears when illicit liquorwasdestroyedathiscommand); Asst. Commissioner John A. McGibbon, from Montreal: J. O. Wilson, of Dundas, Ont., who did excellent service in the Riel rebellion; Inspector Cuthbert, whose father was one of the seigneurs of the province of Quebec; Supt. Snider from Peterborough, who made a high reputation in different parts of the country; Supt. Primrose, from Pictou, N.S., who is now a police magistrate at Edmonton; Supt. Moffat, of Toronto; Inspector Antrobus; Charlie Wood, who rose from a buck policeman to be editor of the Macleod Gazette, and is now a judge in Saskatchewan; Supt. E. W. Jarvis, who later was a member of the lumber firm of Macaulay and Jarvis in Winnipeg, and commanded the Winnipeg Field Battery during the Riel Rebellion; Victor Williams, who won honor and fame during the late world war and was a worthy son of a distinguished father, Col. Williams of Port Hope, Ont., who died at the front in '85; Asst. Commissioner Routledge, of Sydney, C.B., who died in 1919; Inspector Ed. Allen— and others whose names are deserving of recognition in the scroll of fame, but memory fails me, I regret. But some day when a full and complete history of the force is written, they will not be forgotten. )
One name, however, will be emblazoned in bright Utters that of Col. Fred White, for years comptroller of the force, to whom is due the gratitude of not only the members of the force, but of the people of the Dominion and the Empire for his eminent services.
To tell a tithe of the heroic deeds performed by the Old Rough Riders, of their daring adventures, of their
courage and fearlessness under any, and all circumstances, no matter how hazardous, would fill a huge volume. The taking of a culprit from a hostile camp of 500 or 1,000 warriors by one or two buck policemen, the bringing of murderers and violent lunatics a thousand miles through pathless regions, in the depths of winter, evidenced the long'arm and the strong arm of British law, and gave the force a glory that can never fade.
The Why of the Scarlet Tunic
THE adoption of the scarlet tunic for the Mounted Police was an inspiration, and knowing something of the denseness of the official mind, I often wondered why such a really sensible thing had been done by officialdom tn selecting a uniform for the Mounted Police. It appears that in 1872 the government sent Colonel Robertson Ross, commanding the militia, to reconnoitre the far west, and ne made the trip overland from Winnipeg to the Pacific, fn his report, which recommended the organization of a mounted force to open up the western country, he explained that prejudice existed among the Indians against the color of the dark green uniform worn by the men of Irvine’s provisional (rifle) battalion at Fort Garry.
Many of them had asked: ‘‘Who are those soldiers at tied River wearing dark clothes? Our brothers who lived there many years ago (belonging to a wing of H.M. Sixth Regt, of Foot sent to Red River in 1846) wore red coats, and we know that the old king’s soldiers who fought against the Yankees wore red coats and that the loldiers of our Great White Mother wear red coats now.
The soldiers who wear red coats are friends of the Indians, and if the men in Red River wore red coats we would know that they are the Great White Mother’s warriors, and we would not be suspicious of them.”
8ir John Macdonald appreciated the force of this argument and ordered that the color for the Mounted Police tunic be scarlet instead of rifle green as at one time proposed.
By the way, the term “fort” as used in the far west at this time was found to be very much of a misnomer. Any kind of an old log hut which a trader made his headquarters was dignified by the designation of “Fort.” These forts were usually named after the trader who nuilt them—Fort Kipp, Fort Hamilton, etc. Forts “Whoop Up” and “Stand Off” were in their day central tepots or warehouses for several smaller posts and trjyelling “outfits,” and “Whoop Up” was in comparison with most of the others a real fort with bastions ind defensible barricades.
In 1886, when out for the Toronto Mail to enquire into an expected Indian rising, I wrote an article favoring the use of barbed wire around the alleged forts as a means of entanglement for the Redskin enemy, and a great many people looked upon it as a weak sort of joke. The great part barbed wire played in the recent war ihowed that the Mounted Policemen and pioneers who had suggested the idea to me thirty-four years ago knew what they were talking about.
I do not think it is generally known now that ti e late Henri Julien, probably the most brilliant newspaper artist ever produced in Canada, accompanied French’s expedition into the West, attached to the staff. Julien’s sketches, appeared in the Canadian Illustrated News and did much to draw attention to the then unknown West. He did more than sketch, for in the Commissioner’s diary of September 3, 1874, which I had the privilege to look over the other day, appears the following: “Julien ran a buffalo and killed him. I came in for the finish and had the beast cut up and brought in on an ox ■art. I had the meat placed in one of the water barrels and well salted.”
Some Curious Indian Names CHAPTER could be written about the names of some of the red men whom I have either met or heard >f and who were practically wards of the Mounted Police. A few samples will give an idea of the originality exercised by the Indians in this respect. One of Big Bear’s councillors rejoiced in the modest cognomen “All and a Half.” One of the same old rascal’s head men was known as “Miserable Man.” Incidentally it might be mentioned chat he “dearly lo’ed the lassies, O,” and was possessor of a harem of considerable proportions. Was this responsible for his name? Other names which occur to me are “Piapot,” “Almighty Voice,” “Beardy” (possessed by an Indian chief who had a decided attempt at a beard), “Calf Shirt,” “Mighty Gun,” “Scraping High,” and “Bad Eggs.”
Amongst the great men of these Indians, Crowfoot, chief of the Blackfeet, stood pre-eminent. He was of commanding appearance, with a higher intelligence than many of our clever pale faces possess, and he and Poundmaker, of the Crees, and Red Crow, of the Bloods, made a brainy trio.
To-day, as in the early ’70’s and ever since, those of us who know the valorous deeds of the Rough Riders of the Plains will ever take off our hats to one of the greatest semi-military forces the world has ever seen.
Western Justice As It Was
IN THE days of the Cariboo gold rush sixty thousand miners, adventurers and all the riff-raff that follow in .the wake of a great mining excitement, filled the Cariboo country in Central British Columbia. The C.P.R. had not been built in those days, and the Argonauts crowded in overland through the Yellowhead Pass and down the Fraser to Quesnel, or from Victoria to Yale by steamer, thence on foot, horseback, stage or any other way up the Cariboo Road.
Barkerville became a larger city than Victoria, the seat of government, 500 miles away. Yet with all this rabble of people, rough characters and law-abiding men drawn from every quarter of the globe, Cariboo was maintained as an orderly, safe district through the effort of one man, Sir Mathew Begbie, who was judge and various other officials all in one. He administered justice with a ready and iron hand, and put fear into the hearts of those of lawless tendencies. On one occasion he had convicted and fined a malefactor $200.
“That’s dead easy,” flippantly said the culprit, “I’ve got it right here in my hip pocket.”
“—and six months in jail. Have you got that in your hip pocket, too?” came the ready amendment to the sentence, thus vindicating the dignity of the court and
proclaiming to all and sundry that a British court of justice, even though held under a pine tree, was not to be trifled with.
This story has been told and retold, credited to magistrates and judges mostly in the southern States, but it really happened in Sir Mathew Bcgbie’s court in Cariboo in the early seventies. At least one man is living to-day who was present on the occasion and that is my old friend, Colonel Robert Stevenson, the pioneer prospector, of Similkameen, R.C.
Another characteristic incident is told of the Judge. A sandbagger, who was haled before him for assault and battery and against whom the evidence was pretty clear, was found “not guilty” by the jury—to the Judge’s utter disgust. In disposing of the case, he said to the prisoner:
“You are guilty, and I know you are guilty, but this precious jury has decided that you are not. 5 ou are free—free to go out and sandbag every blessed juryman that has let you off. Now go!”
Another story illustrating Judge Begbie’s ready resourcefulness and sense of justice, combined with a contempt for precedent, was a case where two partners in the ownership of a mining claim quarrelled and then had a dispute over the division of their ground. After listening to a lot of tall swearing and contradictory evidence. Judge Begbie stopped the trial and turning to the litigants said:
“You, Jones and Brown” that wasn’t their names bill nobody remembers now who they were “are agreed that you want to divide this ground?”
“But you can’t agree on how the lines are to he run.
“No, sir ” but they got no further.
“Very well, Jones, you go out to the ground and run a line dividing it the way you think it should be divided.
"Yes, s.r,” responded the exultant Jo:.es “And, Brown,”
“To-morrow you go out and take your choice of the two halves as Jones divides it.”
Probably not since the days of Solomon has a legal dis pute been more equitably or effectually settled than wa» that by Judge Begbie—an Englishman just out from ths Old Country, in a wild frontier mining camp.
Judge Rouleau held court at widely-scattered points throughout the Northwest Territory and he was noted for the rough and ready, but shrewdly-just, quality of his decisions. On one occasion a half-breed, Louis Frechette was charged before Judge Rouleau and a jury with the theft of a mule. The evidence was not very convincing— hardly sufficient for a Carolina mob to hang a nigger on— but the jury evidently believed somebody ought to h» convicted of stealing the mule. There was no doubt th« mule had been stolen. That was the only point that ther» was no doubt about. However, the jury brought in a verdict of “guilty” much to the chagrin of the judge, wh» thereupon was bound to sentence the accused whioh h» did as follows:
“Louis, stan’ up. Louis, you have been convict’ of steal de mule. I sentence you to ‘tree mont’ in the polie
barracks at Regina. An’ Louis, dyou, if I t’ink
you guilt’ of steal dat mule I would give you free year.” Thus did the good judge vindicate the law and at the same time express his contempt for the jury’s verdict.
Another time when a half-breed was up for som» offence or other, the evidence was very conflicting and barely warranted a conviction, if that. But he was found guilty and the judge, addressing the prisoner, said: “Boy, I am not altogether sure you are guilty, an so I will be lenient wit’ you. I sen’ you to de penitent' for five years.” Goodness only knows what penalty would have been inflicted upon the unfortunate culprit if the judge had been absolutely sure of the prisoner’s guilt. But the judge was not so far wrong, after all— he sentenced the disreputable man on general principles, that if he wasn’t guilty of this particular crime, his everyday, dissolute, good-for-nothing life would be all the better for a little enforced retirement, and the countryside would also materially benefit by it.
Geo Ham as a Judge
ÍN ANOTHER case of Western justice, I myself was the presiding magistrate in the Winnipeg police court, owing to the unavoidable absence of Colonel Peebles the regular distributor of justice. A worthless drunker pirate, who had the championship for being the best all-round nuisance in whatever locality he happened to be in, wasbrought up charged withbeingdrunkand disorderly. The evidence was clear, and I felt that full justi» should be sternly administered. So I put on my black Derby hat, and ordered the prisoner to stand up.
“George,” I said with dignity and solemnity, “you have been found guilty of being a general trouble provider and a universal nuisance. The sentence of th» court is that you be taken from the place when» you. came, immediately after breakfast next Friday morning, and be hanged by the neck until you are sur» enough dead, and may the good Lord have mercy on your alleged Protestant soul.”
George stood aghast, but just then the good old Colonel came in, and intimated to me that I couldn’t hang a man for being drunk, even if he was a confounded nuisance.
“I can’t, eh? What on earth am I here for, tell me that Colonel Peebles?”
Chief Murray and other court officials corroborated th» Colonel’s statement and, as I am always willing to oblige I immediately relented and ordered the prisoner to stilt stand and also to stand still.
“George, some warm if misguided friends have inter vened in your miserable behalf, and have pleaded with me to be merciful. I shall—instead of sentencing you to the gallows, where you should go—I shall banish you off the face of the earth. Now get!”
And George did, but before he got very far he came over to St. Boniface, where I had an office, and borrowed $6 00 from me to take him to Pembina, which is just across the international boundary and outside the jurisdiction of the Winnipeg courts. I warmly congratulate myself that tcai was the only time I ever “committed a nuisance.
In the early days of railway construction in British Columbia, John Kirkup was greatly in evidence in the cause of public peace and order. He was generally at the end of the line where the toughs congregated. John was a big husky fellow, strong as an ox, tender as a child, and wore a very pleasant, smiling countenance. He was n police force all bv himself and a terror to law-breakers One night while a couple of C.P.R. civil engineers were playing billiards in one of the camps, three toughs^ front across the boundary came in and began rolling the billiard balls around. Jolin was on hand, and quietly advised the interlopers to desist . When they wanted to know what business it was of his, he coolly told them that if they continued annoying the players he would have to arrçs( tbhlü Continued on page 42
Scarlet and Gold
Continued from page 19
They laughed sardonically and spread themselves in a triangular position to lick him. Before they knew it, every mother’s son of them was on the floor. John, with lightning rapidity, had effectively stunned the trio with his baton, and before they recovered from their surprise, he had them handcuffed and kicked them all the way to the skookum house, where they did time in a chain gang fer a month.
Another time, in the early ’90’s, John and I were strolling down the main street of Rossland when we came across two tramps who were engaged in a violent vocabulary duel. After listening a moment to their unparliamentary language, boisterously addressed to each other, John interfered:
“Here, you fellows, follow me.”
He led them to a quiet vacant lot, a block or so away.
“Now, strip off your coats and go to it, and be mighty quick about it, too.”
They did, and it was one of the finest bits of hit, bite and kick and catch-ascatch-can that I ever beheld. When they were nearly exhausted, John tapped them on the soles of their boots, and pulled them apart.
“Now,” he said, “hit the trail, both of you, and if I«catch you again, I’ll—”
But they didn’t wait to hear what John would do. They were off for the great United States and they stood not upon the order of their going.
John Kirkup was one of the outstanding figures in the early days of British Columbia, and while he was rewarded for hi» admirable services by the appointment to a gokl eommissionership, his great reward for the good he had done on earth awaited him in the Great Beyond.
Strange to relate, a man at Lethbridgistole a row-boat which was tied up to the bank of the lake which is just south of that enterprising town. He \yas arrested, and brought before a local justice of the peace, who decided that according U> high author ity, as set forth in the le;jt.l tomes deal ing with such cases, it was a case cf piracy —and naturally so, to feloniously steal :» vessel off the high seas. There was nothing to do, according to the code, but to sentence the offender to death. The J.P. was a tender-hearted man, and deferred sentence until he hád consulted with higher legal authority, which he did, and tinculprit fortunately escaped the gallows
Then there was—but to tell all the in teresting incidents of the courts would make a volume—and Maclean’s won’t stand for that.