SOLONS OF THE EIGHTIES
COLONEL GEORGE H. HAM
POLITICS in Canada wax warm when the general elections are on, but the average man is fairly sane the rest of the time.
At Ottawa, however, especially during the sessions of Parliament, the air fairly seethes with party argumentation. There, of course, the raw material for the next campaign is always being made. The two hundred and thirty-five members of the House with the ninety-six Senators, and the army of officials, together with the correspondents in the Press Gallery, are busy in the manufacture of issues for the people to quarrel about later on. But while the work proceeds there are other things to sweeten life. The five o’clocks, the dances and dinners, the bridge parties and the generous hospitality of Rideau Hall combine to form an agreeable diversion from the serious business of Parliament.
It so happened that I was sent down from Winnipeg to the Press Gallery in 1886 and for several following years, and as a consequence I mixed a great deal in politics and with politicians, without acquiring bad habits. It is not my purpose to use this experience as a pretext for writing a history of Canada, or for commenting upon political questions. All I want to do is to speak of some happenings that interested me and of some of the great men and personal friends with whom I came in contact. One could not, of course, look down upon Parliament at that time without recognizing the leadership of Sir John Macdonald and Edward Blake, who were then the great combatants. The two statesmen contrasted strangely with one another. Mr. Blake, at the opening of Parliament in a slouch hat and a tweed suit that did not seem to be a very good fit, was the very opposite of Sir John, who came in attired in his Windsor uniform.
The Conservatives had a life-sized portrait of Sir John wearing this uniform painted for their retiring room. The chieftain was fairly gorgeous in gold braid, and the cocked hat he held in his hand was suggestive of a Lord High Admiral. One day Clarke Wallace was admiring it when in came Sir John. “Well, Clarke, how do you like it?” enquired the chieftain.
“It’s all right,” responded Clarke, “but don’t you think you look sort of stiff in it?”
“Do you know,” said Sir John, “the first time I wore that was when the Prince of Wales came to the country. They told us from Downing street that all the Ministers would have to get into uniform and we did. The morning we assembled, all decked up to receive the Prince, we looked a set of guys.”
“Vankoughnet was there” (Mr. Vankoughnet was one of the preConfederation ministers) “and I said to him: ‘Van, you don’t look well in a cocked hat; a cocktail would suit us all better.’ ”
The cocktail, I understand, was a species of beverage obtainable at that time, and much in demand by epicures.
The Tragic Exit of Blake
was a commanding figure, and a great master of detail. But he did not pull with his entire party. Somethought he was not a good enough mixer, and Sir Richard Cartwright, who ought to have been his righthand man, was never one of his admirers. In
a short time Mr. Blake resigned the leadership. His departure was really tragic. After so many years of labor it was universally thought to be a pity in view of what he had done to pull the party together that he should pass out of Canadian public life altogether. Alexander Mackenzie, who sat near him, was another tragedy. Mr. Mackenzie had led the House. He had indeed been the leading man of the country. His voice echoed through Parliament, as in his hey-day he discussed public matters. Now he was weak in voice and in body, and his comings and his goings were really pathetic. He had sacrificed himself to the public service.
There were other tragedies. The party pot was boiling all the time, and efforts were made to submerge public men in a torrent of scandal. When a Government Ls old in office the opportunities for this style of warfare are multi-
plied. The popular form of scandal at that time consisted of the charge that the member had profited through the transactions in public lands. Charlie Rykert, member for Lincoln, who was a fighter from the word “go,” was the leading figure in one of these. Charlie kept a scrap-book, and, with its aid, was able to prove his leading opponents guilty of inconsistency on almost any question that might be under discussion. In Parliament he irritated the Opposition beyond measure and, as a consequence, was thoroughly hated by that section of the House. It was, therefore, with considerable relish that Sir Richard Cartwright made charges against him in the session of 1890. The accusation was that in 1882 or thereabouts, he and another party secured from the Government for a nominal sum a timber limit in the Cypress Hills which was sold by them to an operator at a profit of $150,000, Charlie getting half of the proceeds.
As a matter of fact the transaction was fully in accordance with the law as it stood, and no such profit as that reported was made. Indeed, it is to be doubted that Charlie got enough to pay him for his trouble. However, the charge was pressed and it ended Mr. Rykert’s political career, for he resigned his seat before the session closed. While it was being debated in the House, Charlie sat silent and alone in his room, into which I happened to stray. He was particularly downcast and worried, for Sir John Thompson, the then Minister of Justice, and some other members of the party were assailing him. He asked me to keep him posted as to what they were saying, and for some time I would run into the gallery, listen briefly to the debate, and then report progress to him. I shall never forget his agonized look as he cried, “And he” (referring to some unfriendly “friend”) “he got his share of the campaign funds and wanted more.”
Whatever his faults may have been, he was a hard worker in the political field, doing yeoman service, and the gratitude he looked for was wanting when he needed it.
Another tragedy was that of Thomas McGreevy and Mike and Nick Connolly. In this Sir Hector Langevtn was mixed up. The Connolly Brothers were contractors for the Quebec harbor works and the graving dock at Esquimalt. Israel Tarte brought against them the accusa-
Ayf tion that they had overcharged, and had conTV1 tributed to the Quebec election funds, by way of Thomas McGreevy, and with the consent of Sir Hector. This cause celebre drove Sir Hector out of the Cabinet, and Tom McGreevy out of Parliament, while it sent the Connolly Brothers to jail. Of those who may have benefited not one came to the assistance of the accused men. Nobody turned a finger in therr behalf in their time of trouble. Mike and Nick Connolly went to jail rather than turn Queen’s evidence.
The way in which politicians may be misunderstood and suffer in consequence is illustrated in the case of James Beaty, member for West Toronto at this time. He was solicitor for men who were interested in a Western branch railway line. In a letter written by him, he was alleged to have said that some proposition that was made was not acceptable because “there is nothing in it for the boy.” The charges were rung in on this. Mr. Beaty was pursued under the nick-name of “the boy,” and it was inferred that “the boy” was looking for something for himself to which he was not entitled. His explanation, as he gave it to me, was that his written words were “There is nothing in it for the Co’y.” It was of the company that he was speaking, and not of himself.
A lot more could be told of members being ostracised for exhibiting independence, on either side of the House, or of members who have labored for their party being deserted in the time of stress.
A Wit-Provoking Stairway
DUT, cui bono? Let’s to more pleasant incidents. ■*-* . After the great disallowance debate over that part
of the C.P.R. contract which prevented United States railways from entering the Northwest to tap the business, Sir John A. Macdonald met W. B. Scarth, M.P. for Winnipeg, with myself and several others, at the head of the stairs leading to the restaurant.
After a cheery salutation, Sir John remarked, “Well, boys, don’t you think we have had enough of disallowance? Let’s go down and take our allowance.” And we went. The stairway to the restaurant seems to have been provocative of wit, for it is said that on this very spot Sir John once met Bob Watson, as strong a party man of the Liberal type as you could find, and asked him what was going on in the House. “Why,” said Bob, “Cartwright is pitching into Foster on the tariff.”
“Too bad, too bad that they should be so partisan up there,” said Sir John. “I tell you, Bob, if they were all as independent as you and I are, this country would soon get some blankety fine legislation.”
Speaking of Sir John, I remember years ago when he came from North Ontario to Whitby during a campaign, he regaled himself, as was the custom of those days, with a drink at the bar of Jake Bryan’s hotel. The crowd naturally joined in the “refresher,” and as Sir John—(he was then only John A.)—lifted his glass, a friend drew his attention to the fact that there was a fly in his grog.
“That’s all right,” he quickly replied. “It’s meat as well as drink, and I’m hungry.”
That caught the crowd and the remark spread far and wide. The Tory majority in Whitby was never so large as it was in that election.
Sir Charles Tupper was really the fighting man of the Conservative party in those days, and dearly loved a scrap. His command of the English language was complete, and his declamation was powerful. A good field day by Sir Charles in the House gave you something to see and hear. He was outspoken even to friends.
When some Portage la Prairie supporters, who were dissatisfied with something or other he had done, wired him from Manitoba that they could not see their way to su[>port him in this particular measure, they received a curt message in reply which mad: “You had better
The Portage people went home, but did not vote that way at the next election.
D u r'i-n g the campaign of 1900, when Sir Charles had come over to rehabilitate the disorganized Conservative party, I happened to be on the C.P.R. train which was taking him to Nova Scotia.
Visiting his private car, I found him resting in bed. I remarked in course of conversation, “I suppose you are going back to Cape Breton.” He was a candidate
“No, no,” he said. “I am
going to Western Nova
Scotia to help our friends
there.” And then he told me he could be elected by acclamation in Cape Breton if he would consent to let Alex Johnston, recently Deputy Minister of Marine and Fisheries, and a strong Liberal, be his fellow member.
This was offered him by those who controlled the political situation on the other side.
“But,” said Sir Charles,
“I absolutely refused the offer and told them it would be either two Conservatives or two Liberals; besides, as leader of my party, I could not show such an example to my loyal followers. We must sink or swim together. If we win and I should lose in Cape Breton, another seat can easily be found for me; if we are beaten, there are others to take up the fight.” The old Cumberland war-horse was game to the last.
Sir Hibbert Tupper, his son, was also a fighter of the first rank, but when the Bowell Government was disrupted he was among the first to return when peace was declared and announced his entry into the Council Chamber with, “The cat’s come back!” which was a slang phrase of those days.
Sir John’s most trusted lieutenant for years was Hon. John Henry Pope, of Compton, father of Senator Rufus Pope. “John Henry,” as he was familiarly called, had all the shrewdness and foresight of the statesman, and materially assisted in directing the policy of the party. He was not a polished or verbose speaker, but when he spoke the few words he uttered always meant something. Once when fiercely attacked by Sir Richard Cartwright in the House, he made the shortest but most effective speech ever delivered in the Green Chamber. When Sir Richard had taken his seat amidst the loud applause of his followers Mr. Pope slowly rose and quaintly said: “Mr. Speaker, there aint nothin’ to it.” The House cheered wildly, and Sir Richard warmly joined in the expressions of admiration. That ended the discussion.
I recall that Bob White, one of the active members of the Parliamentary press gallery and one time member for Cardwell, got off a joke at Mr. Pope’s expense about this time. In those days tolls were charged on the St. Lawrence Canal system. A streng deputation came down from the Niagara peninsula in the month of October to ask that the Welland canal tolls be lifted for the balance of the season, but “John Henry” was obdurate. There was to be no change in the Government’s policy so far as he was concerned. Mr. White was present when the deputation was presenting its case and when they went away after receiving the Minister’s ánswer, Bob, sitting in his place in the press gallery, sent a note to the Minister of Railways and Canals to the following effect:—
“In connection with the Welland Canal deputation how would it do to remove the tolls from December to April?” (when the canal is closed.)
The old man missed the point of the joke and solemnly wrote back to Bob:—
“I see no reason to change the view which I expressed to the deputation.”
Laurier's Magnetic Presence
SIR WILFRID, then Mr. Laurier, in his early fifties was one of the outstanding figures of the House. His commanding presence whether in Parliament or in the lobbies, or on the streets of Ottawa, irresistibly attracted the
stranger. I well remember his great speech in the Riel Debate of 1886. While I did not agree with Mr. Laurier’s views, yet on re-reading that speech I am bound to say that I agree with what a distinguished publicist has stated; that this address was one of the most brilliant ever delivered in Canada’s legislative halls. As an example of pure eloquence it cannot be excelled.
I could recall many interesting episodes about Sir Wilfrid but shall only mention one. The youngster of the Parliamentary Press Gallery in my day was chief “push” in the St. George’s Society of Ottawa. It was approaching St. George’s day, April 23rd, and the local society was giving a concert in the old Grand Opera House, in aid of the charitable fund of the organization. The tickets had not been going very fast and financial success or failure of the concert depended upon Parliament. If the House could be induced to adjourn at six o’clock, many members of Parliament, having nothing else to do, would attend the concert. My young newspaper friend waylaid Sir John Macdonald just before the House met in the afternoon and asked him if it could not be arranged to adjourn at six o’clock. “What for?” queried the old man.
“Well, we are holding a concert to-night in aid of the charitable fund of the St. George’s Society and its success depends upon the House adjourning.”
“Oh,” said John A., “If that’s it, you had better go and fix it with Laurier; if he’s willing I am.”
So enlisting the services of Fred Jones, who was one of the chief Liberal newspaper men, the two went off to see Mr. Laurier. “What,” said the Opposition leader, when the modest request had been preferred to him,
“stop the wheels of legislation for a concert?”
“Ah, but for sweet charity’s sake, Mr. Laurier.”
“Well, if you put it that way, I will see what I can do.”
A note was sent to Sir John in his place in the House, stating that Mr.
Laurier did not object to the adjournment providing the subject under discussion had ended before six o’clock. When at a quarter to six the debate closed, Sir John rose, and looking over at his friend,
Mr. Laurier, said, “This is St. George’s day and if my honorable friend does not object I move that the House do now adjourn.”
There was no objection, the House rose and the St. George’s concert was a financial success. Looking back through the vista of years I recall that I could not help thinking that my young confrère had his nerve about him, and would get on. Fifteen
February 15, 1921
years later he was chief magistrate of the-capital of Canada.
There have béen two Thomas Whites in the House,land both of them distinguished members. It is not of the later meteoric Sir Thomas White, who did such great work ÍD finance during the war that I am writing, but Hon. Thomas White, of the Montreal Gazette, who represented, as later did his son, Robert S., the Ontario constituency of Cardwell, now merged into Dufferin. In 1885, he entered Sir John Macdonald’s Cabinet as Minister of the Interior, and his excellent administration of the affairs of that department brought him many friends among staunch Liberals. He was frank and outspoken in his words, and while he displeased many westerners by openly telling them that they were spoon-fed, his honest and courageous course in dealing with intricate western matters won their admiration. He was a pleasing and convincing speaker and had always a full grasp of his subject. When he passed away, Canada lost a great statesman.
It was in July, 1886, that he visited the Pacific Coast, and one day in Vancouver he accosted me with, “Oh. George, I am going over to Port Moody (then the western terminus of the C.P.R.) to meet the mayor and citizens. Come along.” When we reached Port Moody there was a goodly-sized crowd who enthusiastically welcomed Mr White. Mayor Scott, togged out in his Sunday best, proceeded to read the usual address, and when he had! finished reading it, he turned to Mr. White and remarked. “Mr. White, you will excuse this short but brief address.”
Of course a lot of us couldn’t help but snicker, but MrWhite with a suppressed smile on his beaming countenance never blinked an eye-lash, and made a happy reply, which was received with such loud applause that he had time to laugh all by himself.
Another veteran was Sir Mackenzie Bowell, that grand old man whom everybody liked. He entered the House in 1867 and continuously sat for Hastings until he was elevated to the Senate, became Premier, and was in harness until called away by death at a ripe old age. He was genial and kindly and had a host of friends, amongst whom he counted many Roman Catholics, although at one time he was Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of Canada.
Sir Mackenzie was publisher of the Belleville Intelligencer, now successfully carried on by his son, Charlie. In the early ’90’s, hé took a trip over the Intercolonial in a private car and I happened to meet him at Truro, N.S. He complained of the lack of newspapers and I asked him if he would like a copy of the Intelligencer of the previous day’s date. He expressed his great delight at the possibility of getting a real live newspaper, and with due gravity, I handed out a copy of the “yesterday” Intelligencer—only it had been printed twenty odd years before. I had found it amongst some old papers that had been sent me, but Sir Mackenzie read it with great interest.
John McMillan, who represented South Huron for many years, was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. Although he came to Canada as a lad the Doric was always on his tongue, possibly due to the fact that he had settled in the essentially Scotch section of Ontario. He was a first-class farmer and stock raiser and attained affluence through his activity in the export cattle industry, of which he was one of the pioneers. Pressure of Parliamentary duties, and stalwart sons grown to manhood induced him to pass over the export cattle trade to the latter, with the result that John did not make as frequent trips across the Atlantic as in the earlier days of the industry. After a lapse of 15 years Mr. McMillan made what proved to be his last journey to the Old Land and told the story of his visit to Dumfriesshire to Mrs. Sedgwick, wife of Mr. Justice Sedgwick, the following session. This was the only social call he made during the Parliamentary term. In Mrs. Sedgwick he found a lady who sympathized with Scotland, which meant everything to John. In her genial way, over a cup of tea one afternoon, she asked Mr. McMillan if he had found many changes in the Old Land on his recent visit. “Aye,” he answered, “I foond that mony of my auld freends had passed awa’.”
“And those whom you met and told them about Canada, what astonished them most?”
“Aweel, MistressSedgwick, I am boond to say that they were vera mooch surpreezed at my Amurican occent.”
After John McMillan passed out of Parliament the recollection of his genial presence and kindly nature lingered long with those who knew him.
As some dyed-in-the-wool Grits liked some doubledyed Tories, on the other hand there were Opposition members who were liked personally by their opponents. James Trow, of South Perth, was one of them. He could have had a portfolio in Sir John’s Cabinet had he wished, and had there been room. While he was a staunch Liberal he was moderate in his views, and personally very agreeable. My old friend, Jim Trow, was one whom to know was to honor and respect for his many kind qualities of head and heart. Mr. Trow was a frequent visitor to the Northwest in the early days, and he was the champion of that country on the Liberal side when Eastern men were cold and critical. The Opposition in Parliament at that time was wonderfully well supplied with “Jims” of whom Mr. Trow was one. In addition to Jim Trow, it could boast fim Somerville, Jim Rowand, Jim McMullen, Jim Lister, fim O’Brien, Jim Armstrong, Jim Edgar, Jim Livingston, Jim Innes, Jim Platt, Jim Yeo, and Jim Sutherland.
There was no better liked man in the House than the last of the “Jims” I have mentioned—Jim Sutherland, of Woodstock, Ontario, the chief Liberal whip and afterwards Minister of Public Works in the Laurier administration. He was a Grit, first, last and all the time. But he had lots of friends among the Tories, and I was one of them. To show his kindness to me, he one day led me into his private office and told me he wanted to enrich my library with one of the greatest volumes that had ever been printed. Thereupon he ostentatiously presented me with that beautiful little red covered book which contained the Liberal platform of 1893, with a full and presumably accurate account of the proceedings of the Liberal Convention of that year. Gratitude was fully expressed by me and I treasured the valued volume. Later on Ned Clarke, the member for West Toronto, and ex-Mayor of the city, came to me and begged me to give it to him. Imagining I could replace it I mailed it to him. Several months afterwards I met Jim and told him Ned Clarke had swiped my precious present and asked for another copy. By this time, as many will remember, the platform had been pretty well shot to pieces. Jim expressed his deep regret at my loss of the pamphlet, and told me that the party had had a family gathering a few nights previously and had celebrated the event with a bonfire for which the red covered books furnished the fuel. It is impossible to beg, borrow or steal a copy of this famous work that the unregenerate Tories declared rare fiction, and that is why my library is not complete today. When the Liberal Committee met in Ottawa in 1919 to make arrangements for their convention the only copy available was one borrowed from a former Conservative newspaperman.
WHILE in the House members on both sides were, as a rule, kindly disposed toward their opponents, the same conditions were not general in the Senate.
Among the Senators was George Alexander from Western Ontario, an old Conservative who left the party for some real or fancied grievance. He had a special antipathy to Sir David Macpherson, who was at one time Speaker of the Senate and at another a member of the Macdonald Cabinet. In the corridors of the Senate Chamber were oil portraits of past Speakers, some living, some no more, and all of a uniform cabinet size. When Sir David Macpherson’s portrait was added to the collection it was a full length picture and about twice the size of the others. Senator Alexander, who everlastingly took me for T. P. Gorman, the Globe correspondent, and was always giving me pointers which the Globe did not print, and then giving Gorman fits because they were not printed by the Globe, pointed out to me one day the traits and peculiarities of the statesmen who had been reproduced in oil. All went well until we reached the outstanding full length portrait of Sir David. “That, that,” he muttered in tones of disgust, “that—why you could cut that picture in two and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference which half you took away.” And the irate old gentleman snorted vindictively and went off as mad as a wet hen.
Among the leading men in the House was Sir George Kirkpatrick, an ideal Speaker of the Commons. He was the son-in-law of Sir David Macpherson, the bete noir of Senator Alexander. In one of the earlier sessions Sir George presided over the Commons while his father-inlaw-to-be was Speaker of the Senate.
A conspicuous figure was the energetic and much-loved
member from Hamilton, Adam Brown. Mr. Brown had been prominent in public affairs before entering Parliament and was one of the many fathers of the N.P. The members of the Press Gallery had no better friend. Mr. Brown is one of the few survivors of that Parliamentary period, and was actively serving as postmaster of Hamilton until recently, when he retired. Born in 1826, he is now 94, and his friends are wishing him many more happy years.
Dr. George Landerkin, of Grey, was one of the wits of the House. He had many bouts with Nicholas Flood Davin, but Davin was the more expert in the use of language. He was also quick at repartee; as for example, when Jim McMullen, irritated by some of his remarks, interrupted him to say that he had rooms to let in his upper storey, he quietly replied, “So have you; but mine are furnished.” Jim McMullen, a very hard working member, was known as the “Tall Sycamore from Mount Forest.” His specialty was the scrutiny of the minor expenditures. His enemies used to say that his visits to Rideau Hall were improved by a stocktakingof thespoonswith a view to discovering whether or not there was extravagance in viceregal circles. But this was an unkind reflection upon his public services which were useful in that they helped to keep expenditures down. A member with whom he often came into conflict was Samuel R. Hesson, from Perth. Mr. Hesson was very much in earnest as a public man—not a bad fault—and was so demonstrative that he could not refrain during the heated party debates from expressing his disapproval with the aid of the lid of his desk, or his approval by loud shouts of approval. If more members took an intense interest in the proceedings of Parliament it would be a change for the better. A neighbor of Mr. Hesson’s was Jean Baptiste Morin, the short and rotund French-Canadian from Dorchester, Que. Jean Baptiste was always elected by large majorities, but he denied ever having purchased a vote. He explained, however, that he always had a fine imported bull on his farm, and when an election was expected he got another. It is hardly necessary to say that his was a thoroughly agricultural constituency. One of the promising Liberal members was George Casey, from Elgin. It was sometimes said that he spoke too frequently. But he was well informed. His chief end in political life was to accomplish Civil Service reform. Curiously enough, when his constituents listened to other voices he reformed the Civil Service by entering it. He dearly enjoyed a fight with Dr. Sproule from Grey. The Doctor was none too mindful of the rules of debate, and was often called to order. For this reason his election to the office of Speaker, to enforce the rules of order, when the Conservatives got back to power in 1911, was an unusual example of the unexpected. But he was a good Speaker.
Familiar Faces of the Old Days
THEN there was Sir George Foster, from Kings, N.B., who is still in harness, and after nearly forty years’ service delivered a magnificent speech in the House last year with all the vigor and eloquence of his early days. By the way, Sir George, like a good old scout, has surprised the boys by again jumping the broomstick —the bride being Miss Jessie Allen, who is a lady of high attainments. He has also demonstrated the prominence of the Georges in the big affairs of the world. Look at them, King George, George Washington, Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau, the Tiger of France, and Georges Carpentier, the French prize-fighter, two presidents of the C.P.R.
Lord Mount Stephen and Baron Shaughnessy—and the present president should have been—but, oh, very good, Eddie—the grand old boy of the C.P.R., Vice-president Ogden, and the Lord High Admiral of the Fleet, George M. Bosworth. Then there are Sir Georges Etienne Cartier, George Eliot, the authoress, St. George who toyed with the dragon, the Prince of Wales, who incidentally is burdened with half-a-dozen other names, and two other members of Britain’s royal family who bear the Georgian patronymic. Besides there are George Brown, the old Liberal war horse of Ontario,and George Graham, who is president of a newspaper that is a century old, and George Stephenson, who invented the first railway locomotive, which is said to be still running on one of Canada’s alleged railways, and oh, yes, I have a grandson named George, who thinks the C.P.R. is the only real railroad in the whole blooming universe.
Others were J. G. H. Bergeron, the boy orator of Beauharnois; Sir John Macdonald's special pet, who died while postmaster of Montreal ; Dalton McCarthy, from Simcoe, who broke away from his party on the Manitoba School question, an able lawyer, who was the father of the McCarthy liquor license act, which was declared ultra vires a week after it came into operation; Hon. Edward Dewdney, a member of the Government, who chose Pile-of-Bones Creek, on the wide, treeless prairie, as the capital of the Northwest Territories, and named it Regina; Hon. Sidney Fisher, from Brome, a gentleman farmer, who was Minister of Agriculture in the Laurier Administration; Walter Shanly from Grenville, a great engineer, who built in the wonderful Hoosac tunnel, and who was a warm friend of my father and myself; Pat Purcell, from Glengarry, whose body was stolen by ghouls from a vault east of Cornwall and was recovered near Stanley Island, the grave robbers being sorely disappointed in not securing the blackmail they expected for its return; Hon. J. C. Patterson, who afterwards became LieutGovernor of Manitoba; Harry Ward, of Port Hope— “Handsome Harry,” he was called—one of the most popular members of his time; Hon. Désiré Girouard, of Jacques Cartier, who defeated that strong fighting Liberal, Hon. R. Laflamme, and who retired from politics to take a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Justice Girouard was the author of a most interesting book, “Lake St. Louis and the Parishes Around,” which is an historical work of great value; “Bob” Watson, from Marquette, now Senator Watson, who had the distinction for years of being the only Liberal from west of the Great Lakes; Joe Kinney, who was the only Conservative elected in Yarmouth in forty-four years; Hon. J. J. Curran, afterwards Judge Curran, who could sit up later hours, sing “Old King Cole” more acceptably, and be brighter next morning with nothing stronger than ginger ale as a stimulant than any other person I ever knew; M. H. Gault was also a distinguished member of the House; James Innis, from South Wellington, one of the old stock, whose paper, the Guelph Mercury, is still prospering under the guidance of his nephew, Innis McIntosh; John Charlton, of North Norfolk, who was one of the big guns and most effective speakers of the Liberal party; Capt. Walsh, from Prince Edward Island, whose hospitality was unbounded, and who told the Minister of Customs, whom he was entertaining at his residence with a lot of the rest of us, that his liquor had never passed through the gauger’s hands. A blue flag off the mouth of Montague River showed an excellent fishing spot, and by pulling up the flag up would come a keg of rare old vintage. Dr. Jenkins was another Prince Edward Islander, whom it was a delight, to know, a fine physician. At any rate he cured a gnarled muscle in my left hand by giving it a quick, smashing blow, the operation taking place on the front street of Charlottetown. "Doc” Jenkins was a brawny athlete in his younger days. While in the House he always captained the Parliamentary cricket team which annually tried conclusions with the Press Gallery. 1 recall an amusing incident which happened one Saturday just liefere the annual match commenced. There was a great crowd of spectators and it was difficult to keep them off the field of play. .Mr. Kitnber. the little gentleman usher of the Black Rod who thought he owned the Parliament buildings, strenuously resented being ordered behind the ropes and the crowd of onlookers greatly enjoyed the polite but forcible way in which Dr. Jenkins enforced the rules against the irate little gentleman. Then there was S. J. Dawson, “Smooth Bore” Dawson, they called him, for the quiet slickness of his speech, who was the builder of the Dawson Road, which first opened the way from the head of Lake Superior through hundreds of miles of wilderness to the Red River. There was also J. Israel Tarte, who, when a Conservative, was defeated in Quebec, if I remember aright, by his Liberal opponents scattering thousands of his photographs with him wearing a masonic apron. One of Mr. Tarte’s trite sayings was, when accused of corrupting a constituency, “Elections are not won with prayers.”
Continued on page 43
Continued from page 29
Tho Social Side of the House
PARLIAMENT has its social side, and I found in the years I was at Ottawa that friendships did not respect party lines there, as was commonly supposed. The case of David Mills and Sir John Macdonald, already mentioned, is an illustration. There we had a repetition of the story of David and “John-A-than.” Sir John loved to hear David hold forth on constitutional questions and would listen to him by the hour, although he once called him “a mass of undigested information.” Often the two would talk matters over sitting side by side in the House, and it was an open secret that the Honorable David might have had a portfolio in Sir John’s cabinet any time he desired.
One of the men who helped personal friendships in a very practical manner was Alonzo Wright, known to the House, if not to the country, as the “King of the Gatineau.” Alonzo was comfortably situated so far as this world’s goods are concerned. He was descended from the first owner of the site of the City of Hull, and he had married the granddaughter of the first owner of the site of the City of Ottawa. At his fine estate at Ironsides up the Gatineau River, he gathered every Saturday members of Parliament from both sides of the House. He was a veritable John Bull in personal appearance, and his hospitality was of the John Bull kind. Party bitterness gave way in the presence of the “King of the Gatineau,” and many a politician found that the member on the opposite side of whom at first he did not think much was not such a bad fellow after all.
The rumor was current that it was here that Sir Adolphe Caron and Sir William Mulock formed their interesting friendship. Sir Adolphe was Minister of Militia, and Sir William was the Opposition critic of the Militia Department. When the Militia Vote was coming up in Supply Minister and critic would sometimes dine together before settlingdown to the hard hitting. Sir John Macdonald, by the way, had a good opinion of Sir William, and is credited with having said that if he were only ten years younger he “would get Bill over to the Tory side.” This was about the time when Mr. Mulock was restive under the interpretation put upon the party policy of unrestricted reciprocity, and had moved his resolution affirming the loyalty of the people of Canada to the Throne. Sir John had his Saturday night dinners at which politicians of both sides figured. These he held up to the day before the fatal stroke which carried him oil. It was at the last dinner he gave that he got off the Chinaman’s description of the electric street car, to the discomfiture of the ladies present. Everybody knows it —“got no horsee; got no steamer; goes like hellee.” It must, not be supposed from this that Sir John indulged in extreme language. Far from it. If he made use of an expression that was slightly out of the ordinary, it was in a tone of humorous reluctance.
Within the precincts of the House the members were given to entertaining one another. D. W. Davis from Stand Off in the wild and woolly West, was especially valuable in this connection. When the Mounted Police in 1874 first arrived in the far West and expected to be met by a gang of desperadoes, they found D. W., a trusted official of the big firm of I. G. Baker and Co., behind the counter of the store in his shirt sleeves, unconcernedly smoking a cigar and when they made known their mission, pleasantly bidding them search the place for liquor, which they unavailingly did—but it was there all the same.
Coming from the West he knew the Indian down to the ground, and he used to delight the members at their sing-songs with imitations of the Indian dance interlarded with war-whoops that threatened to disturb the cogitations of the more sedate statesmen who were arguing or sleeping in the Commons chamber.
Sleeping! Well, they were not likely to be sleeping if William Paterson, of Brant, familiarly known as "Billy Paterson,” after the man who was struck by some unknown person, had the floor. Mr. Paterson was the possessor of the most thunderous voice in Parliament. It used to be said that he could be heard away down in the Rideau Club. One of Dr. Landerkin’s jokes at the expense of a new member was to arouse his interest in Mr. Paterson’s eloquence, and then to advise him to occupy the seat immediately in front of Mr. Paterson, so that he could hear him well because he had such a poor voice. The newcomer usually fell for this, with the result that when Mr. Pate/son was going under a full head of steam, the new arrival had to slink away in order to prorect his ear drums. All the House watched the “freshie” as he selected his “good seat” in front of the orator, and loud was the laughter when, after a few vocal blasts from Billy Paterson, the astonished listener beat a hasty retreat.
“Billy” after being a Minister for some years decided to give a dinner to his Parliamentary friends of both Houses. The list was so lengthy that instead of one function there had to be two. By the ‘ ‘oldtimers” they were acknowledged to have been the liveliest gatherings ever held in the old Parliamentary Restaurant presided over by Sam Barnett. Mr. Paterson stipulated to “Jim” Sutherland, who was making the arrangements for him, that the dinner should be conducted on strictly temperance principles, but someone must have given Sam Barnett the wink. Scotch and rye were supplied in ginger ale bottles and within an hour there was more hilarity than one finds at ten ordinary banquets. Mr. Paterson was greatly pleased at the success of the function and remarked to Sir Richard Cartwright, who was sitting next to him at the first dinner: “Cartwright, I have always said you could get as much, or more, fun out of a temperance dinner than one where liquor is served; you have a demonstration of it to-night.” Sir Richard, who was wise to what was going on, smilingly acquiesced in the remark but refrained from enlightening his host. To the day of his death, Mr. Paterson never knew of the arrangements that Jim Sutherland and Bill Galliher had made to make the banquets a howling success.
When Hansard “Mixed” Metaphors
TWO members of the House, Hon.
Edward Blake and Sir Richard Cartwright, were not “good mixers.” It is said of the former that when a friend remonstrated with him for his chilliness towards his supporters and advised him to be more chummy with them, he asked what he was to do. “Why, be more sociable and crack a joke or two with them.” “How do you mean?” enquired Blake. “Well, for instance, it’s snowing out now, and if st meone should pass a remark on the weat’ er, you say ‘Oh, it’s snow matter.’ ” And sure enough a few days later a good Grit follower overtaking the Honorable Edwar 1 on the broad walk remarked that it had been snowing hard. Mr. Blake, suddenly remembering the pointer he had received about cracking a joke, but having forgotten the cue, promptly replied, “Oh, it’s quite immaterial.” Mr. Blake was a great lawyer—a much greater lawyer than he was a politician.
Sir Richard was a past-master of the art of invective; a scholarly speaker, his English was perfect, and he could flay a political opponent in five minutes by the clock. He also had a grim sense of humor, and when he spoke one day of “having dipped into the political Styx,” and it appeared in the unrevised edition of Hansard as “having dipped into the political Stinks,” he laughed as immoderately as he did when in another speech he referred to “the ancient Themistocles,” which Hansard transformed into “the ancient Peter Mitchell,” who had just previouslypassed away. He was a Tory of the old school until Sir Francis Hineks was appointed Finance Minister instead of another person whom he thought was better qualified for the position. A scholarly speaker and a deep thinker, his disposition was vitriolic. The second volume of his Memoirs was never printed for obvious reasons. Sir Richard was a constant sufferer from rheumatism which doubtless warped his disposition and made his utterances so bitter.
It is difficult to remember all the good fellows and their peculiarities at this length of time, but I can recall handsome Hon. H. D. Hazen, Mr. C. N. Skinner, Major - General Hugh H. McLean and Hon. John Costigan from New Brunswick, who were popular on both sides of the House. Mr. Hazen was afterwards premier of his native province, and now is_ ornamenting the bench. Sir Clifford Sifton, who inaugurated the first real immigration policy. Captain J. B. Labelle, from Richelieu, commander of the R. & O. steamer, Montreal, was a social lion and one of the best dressed men in the House. His son is General Labelle, of the Montreal Harbor Commission. Sir Adolphe Chapleau ranked among the most brilliant orators of that day, and Honorable C. C. Colby, of Stanstead, was one of the ablest lawyers in the House and personally was very popular. Then there.
were good old Billy Smith from South Ontario, still in the Parliamentary pink; George Guillet, from Northumberland, Ont.; Peter Mitchell, from Northumberland, N.B.; good old Colonel Tisdale, from South Norfolk; Dr. Ferguson, from Welland; Fred Hale, from Carleton, N.B.; J. A. Mara, James Reid, Thomas Earle; E. C. Baker, who recently passed away, and the late E. G. Prior, recently Lt.-Gov. of British Columbia, from which Province they all came; Mahlon Cowan, the fighting man from Essex, Ont.; W. C. Edwards, from Russell, the real old genuine free trader of the house; Uriah Wilson, from Lennox, a member of high standing; Hon. John Haggart and Dr. Montague, who were bosom friends, the latter coming to a tragic end in Winnipeg; George Taylor, the Tory whip from Gananoque; Josiah Wood, from Westmoreland, who owns a railway, was afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick and is fatherin-law of Eddie Nichols, the newspaperman, of Winnipeg. A. W. Ross, the real estate boss, and W. F. McCreary from Manitoba; Hon. Tom Daly from Brandon, who, like his father, was a broth of a boy; Senator J. B. Plumb, from Niagara, a royal entertainer when Speaker of the Senate; Hon. John Carling, whose election
contests with his brother-in-law in London were as fierce as any in the whole Dominion ; big Duncan C. Fraser, the giant from Nova Scotia, who like A. G. Jones, another Nova Scotian member, who was charged with having said, “Haul down the flag” at Confederation, filled the position of Lieutenant-Governor of that Province; John V. Ellis from St. John, one of the ablest members of the House, whose newspaper, the Globe, still flourishes under the management of his son Frank; G. R. R. Cockburn, from Toronto, a fine type of an Old Country gentleman; Hon. Mr. Prefontaine, mayor of Montreal, who died in England; Jacques Bureau, whose life is devoted to politics and mirth and Ernest Lapointe; Billy Northrup, of Hastings, (now clerk of the House), a fighter from ’way back, like Billy Bennett of Simcoe; H. H. Cook—“I bet you Cook”—who claimed a toll of $10,000 was demanded of him to obtain a senatorship, which caused him to retire from his party of which he had previously been a staunch supporter.
WHO could ever forget Major Tom Beatty, of London, whose death left a great blank that would be difficult to fill? Or Clarke Wallace, from York, as genial a soul as ever lived, whose successor in the House is his good-natured son, Capt. Tom? And there was Senator John Yeo, from Prince Edward Island, who for sixtytwo years continuously has been a member either of the Legislature of the Island, or of the Commons or Senate of Canada. Then there was Dr. Platt, of Kingston, who was afterwards warden of the Portsmouth penitentiary, ánd declared that, owing to his official duties, he was the “closest confined person in the pen.” And Jim Metcalfe, who was a dead game sport of the political kind, came from Kingston too; and what shall I say of Hon. W. S. Fielding, the father of reciprocity, still an active member of the House? Or of Hon. James Domville, a meteoric member, still in active life in the Senate; of Kennedy Burns, of Gloucester, who owned the Caraquette Railway, that runs from Bathurst to Shippegan; of Dr. Reid, from Grenville, now Minister of Railways and a prospective Senator; of John F. Stairs and Thos. E. Kenny, of Halifax, the latter a West Indian merchant; of
Harry Corby, from Belleville, who had no personal enemies; of Senator Billy Gibson from Lincoln; of poor George Moffatt, of Restigouche, who at a convivial banquet where everything was Irish—tobacco, pipes, whiskey, potatoes and all—a little affair given by A. W. Ross, M.P. for Selkirk—entrusted me with an envelope to keep for him, in which was a draft for 5,000 pounds sterling—George was always for “Safety first,” and he knew I would keep sober if anybody could; of W. G. Perley, father of Sir George Perley, Canada’s High Commissioner at London; of dear old Alex. McLaren, the Cheese King, and Rufus Stephenson from Kent, of Sir Louis Davies, now Chief Justice of Canada, who made rip-roaring speeches, and Al. Lefurgey and Donald Nicholson and Mr. McLean, from “The Island,” of Col.OwneyTalbot from down Quebec way; of Alex. McKay, Adam Brown’s running mate from Hamilton, and wee Johnny Small, Toronto’s pet; of George W. Ganong, the Chocolate King from Charlotte, N.B., who was as sweet as his chocolates; of Henry Cargill and John Tolmie, two dear old friends from Bruce? And we all reverently doff our hats to that able statesman, Sir John Thompson, the only Conservative ever elected in Antigonish, who safely piloted the ship of state through troubled waters, and died a tragic death at Windsor Castle; and to Hon. J. J. C. Abbott, who controlled the destinies of Canada when rare statesmanship was needed.
jV/lEMORY also recalls the gallant Col. 1V1 Williams, of Port Hope, who gave up his life on the banks of the Saskatchewan from fever in 1885; Big Rory Maclennan, the contractor, one of the world’s greatest athletes, Darby Bergin of Cornwall, John Moncrieff, of Simcoe, Dr. Montague, of the silver tongue, Geo. H Macdonnell, of Algoma, John White, of East Hastings, who, when fiercely attacked by Edward Blake, floored that gentleman completely by recalling how when the great Liberal leader had arrived at Quebec from an ocean voyage so engrossed was he in his political affairs that he left his poor wife to the tender mercies of his politica) opponent and that he had to neglect his own business to look after her.