SHAUGHNESSY, THE EFFICIENT

“The Mirrors of Downing Street” and “The Mirrors of Washington” Have Created Sensations of International Importance. This Chapter is from the Canadian Equivalent—“Ottawa in Masquerade,” a Book Which Will Startle Canada When Published

“THE MAKE-UP MAN” September 1 1921

SHAUGHNESSY, THE EFFICIENT

“The Mirrors of Downing Street” and “The Mirrors of Washington” Have Created Sensations of International Importance. This Chapter is from the Canadian Equivalent—“Ottawa in Masquerade,” a Book Which Will Startle Canada When Published

“THE MAKE-UP MAN” September 1 1921

SHAUGHNESSY, THE EFFICIENT

“THE MAKE-UP MAN”

“The Mirrors of Downing Street” and “The Mirrors of Washington” Have Created Sensations of International Importance. This Chapter is from the Canadian Equivalent—“Ottawa in Masquerade,” a Book Which Will Startle Canada When Published

CANADA has a national habit of veneration for the C.P.R. just as England used to have for Kitchener in Egypt. The travels of H.M. Stanley in Africa were not more wonderful than the everyday lives of Sandford Fleming’s engineers routing that great new line through the Rockies: and the legend of Monte Cristo scarcely more fabulous than the exploits of Van Horne in getting the money or the work done without it. The man who bought supplies for Van Horne (when there was money) and wrote letters or sent telegrams when there was none, got a finer preparation for being a great railwayman than most premiers ever get for the duties of public life.

The sensations of the cured Scriptural blind man who saw “men as trees walking” were repeated to Canadians of thirty-five years ago who read about those legendary Scots, Yankees and Canadians who flung that “chemin de fer" over Canada to start making a confederacy into a nation. And there was no Boy's Ovm Annual in Canada to tell the tale, as it should have been done, along with the tales of the Northwest Mounted Police and the adventures of the Hudson’s Bay Company. George Stephen, Donald A. Smith, R. B. Angus, Sandford Fleming, John A. Macdonald, Van Horne, the young Shaughnessy—all seemed then to be not merely doers of the undoable, but men of mighty imagination and a sort of Old Testament morality.

Even the Pacific Scandal seemed as necessary a part of the narrative as the stories of Joseph’s coat and of Jacob and Esau were an integral part of the epic of Israel.

Well, admittedly, most of that has faded from the Canadian Pacific. We read the annual address of the C.P.R. President with yawns. More strenuous profits; rumors of lowered dividends; stocks down on the exchanges; commonplace and stodgy things said about the difficulties of keeping up a system, of paying wages, of making ends meet. It all seems considerably like what is said and done at any directors’ meeting of a rubber factory or a street railway. You read the names of the directors and few of them strike you with any sense of novelty or of awe. The room in which these magnates meet is—just a room; it used to be thought of as a sort of Doges’ palace of finance. You may even note that one of the directors is baggy at the knees, and any two of them may be talking along the corridor about that very ordinary thing the cost

Now that is precisely the frame of imagination from which we have to emerge in order to get a real angle on Lord Shaughnessy. He was made what he has since become in just such hardup times—or worse—as those we read about in the newspapers. Of all the men at any directors’ meeting he knows most about the steep side of finance. He was the spender when there was nothing to spend. The romantic adversities of those days never left him. From the beginning until he came to the presidency he had felt all the ragged edges of C.P.R. life. He had grimly chuckled to Van Horne, the occasionally helpless wizard, over the hard times. And hard times never really left the road until Van Horne handed the C.P. over to Shaughnessy just at the edge of the era when the system was getting ready to handle phenomenal traffic arising out of stupendous immigration.

The C.P. left the zone of high imagination just about when Shaughnessy stepped into the office of president. From then on till the day that he also went out was the epoch when traffic and travel became vaster than the road, and greater than the men. It was his to operate, and to build as well. But the operations were all of a system which had creaked into through traffic from Yokohama to Montreal as far back as 1889; and the new lines built under Shaughnessy were just branches of the old trunk. Shaughnessy took over bulging receipts after he had spent years at painful expenditures. He took over a despotism and made it an autocracy.

The Phenomenal Administrator

IT WAS not in his practical, unromantic temperament to play the Gargantuan role. He had not the mentality. Van Horne left the road when the road threatened to become bigger than its creator. Shaughnessy began to work on it when he knew that the bigger he made the system the greater would be his own executive authority, and the bigger the dividends to the holders of stock.

There was a radical contrast between these two men: and as much between the road built by Van Horne and the system operated and magnified by Shaughnessy.

The former would not have his shadow dwarfed by the dimensions of his own creation. The latter had created nothing: he would have the shadow of the thing fling

itself so vastly over the nation—and the nations—that whenever men spoke of C.P. they thought of Shaughnessy, and when they said his name they mentally took off their

hats to the headship of the greatest system of its kind in the world.

Thismay or may not have been Shaughnessy’s intention. It was certainly the effect. We have all gone through the era of profound respect for the cold autocrat of the twentieth century, as some of us did that of awesome veneration of the railway giants of the nineteenth. We have read newspaper stories—some of them buncombe—about this man’s all-seeing eye as he travelled over the system as we did of the peripatetic omniscience of James J. Hill and the Gargantuan humors of Van Horne. We have consented that the system perfected by Shaughnessy was the most marvellous known of its kind, and therefore the man at its head must be a phenomenal administrator.

Very likely we have been warped by our enthusiasms. Shaughnessy was no miracle man. He was a wonderful maestro of details, a clear-headed organizer of systems and a man to provoke high respect in those who had to deal with him at close range. But he had perhaps less sheer ability for detail than Van Horne who as a rule despised the botheration of it. I have heard Van Horne dictating to his secretary a mass of intimate instructions to a contractor about how to build a rotunda in a hotel in Cuba at the same time with his left hand on a drawer full of complicated'notes on his philosophy of life which with the other lobe of his brain he was traversing in order to engulf an interviewer as soon as the letter was finished. Shaughnessy never could have carried on such an interview, lasting four hours of a busy life. His talks to the press must be curt and comprehensive - or else elliptical. He had no exuding vivacity. When I talked to him--or listened to him—he was cold and exact. He left his chair only to walk erectly to the window. He divagated not a syll-

able from the subject in hand—The System. He worshipped that: as much as any Mikado ever did his ancestry. He paid passing veneration to Van Horne—when from the slant of his remark I surmised that he was critical even in his admiration for that epic character.

Shaughnessy is essentially a syrtem-man. When he travelled he had his practical jokes and his Irish stories and his fondness for the social side. But he was conventionally as correct as a time table. Had there been a spark of genius in him he would have extinguished it for the sake of betterments to the most conventional Colossus in Canada.

Born and Cradled in Politics

DUT in the Shaughnessy program betterments were a gigantic affair. I have no idea where they began or whether when he took the chief buzzer from Van Horne there was any sense of a revolution in the anatomy. No doubt there was; a younger man, a steadier man, a man who would never bother quarelling with Goldwin Smith over commercial union or make any speech or hand out any interview not rubber-stamped with a sort of statesmanship.

Policy of course was never in need of resurrection, the C.P. was born in politics. It had craft at its cradle. The new policy was bigger. It had to do less with Asia, with spectacle, with carved gods; more with Europe, with immigration posters, with land settlement. Shaughnessy had taken over a system which could be used ostensibly as the agent of the Immigration Department and of the Interior, effectively as the base of population-supply on its own account.

Actually as Shaughnessy worked it out the C.P. had a scheme of national expansion that acted independently of government. Its own ships, trains, roads, docks, land-offices, immigration agents, poster-advertising—until the average

European looking for a way out of economic slavery believed that the C.P.R. was the owner and operator of Canada—a belief which was not contradicted except officially at home.

Under Lord Shaughnessy it was unofficially believed that the head of C.P.R. was somehow overlord to governments. Shaughnessy, the impenetrable, the aloof, was more sacrosanct than the premier of Canada. He was not the agent of a democracy, but an emperor. He had his counterpart in Japan. The Orientalism which Van Horne infused into the system even while he laughed it out of court, was solemnly accepted by the man who came after. But it was the Orientalism of efficiency. Shaughnessy was its symbol. Away from it he was of little consequence except as a benevolent citizen with statesmanlike views upon how governments should govern. Within it he was mighty. He felt himself the apex of a thing that knew no provincial boundaries. He consciously made it the instrument of Empire. He was inordinately proud of its morale. To him it was a complicated army. He felt it assimilating men who lived, moved and had their being in C.P.R.—as he had. He was the great human rubber stamp. He had extra power. He lived on fiats and papal bulls. Men learned to tremble at his nod—not at Shaughnessy but at the man who personalized the infallible system. And as governments came up and capsized in the storms of public sentiment, the great system went on, in its sullen but splendid way a sort of solar system in which parties and governments gravitated.

Above All Things—People

IT WOULD have needed a greater soul than Shaughnessy to he cynical about C.P.R. It often needed his latent Irish humor to appreciate the larger cynicism which it expressed concerning the country. The papfed infants of Mackenzie and Hays served but to illustrate by contrast the perfection and the well-oiled might of the dynamo operated bv Shaughnessy. It I •«•came an obsession with him, as it did with Flavello over a «•.••nmcrcial company, that “the king can do no wrong”. Il*s annual report bristled with pride over the conpany’s achievements. He insisted upon the inherent morality of the thing and of the men who were its officials \\ hat it luid done, was all civilization in a tabloid; the old world flung into the new; a national entity in the north half of North America. Van Horne’s Chinese wall buttressed by a tariff which, whether of one party or the other, was always more and more protectionist. The East and tha Continued on Page 35

"Ottawa in Masquerade” is copyrighted by the Maclean Publishing Company and tho Macmillan Company of Canada, and it may not be reprinted, wholly or In part, without apocial permission.

Continued from page 19

West haul—the Hill bogey—was put to rest; but—not to the exclusion of Americans landseeking in Canada. Above all things, people. Next to that the C.P. must build as fast as either Mackenzie or Hays. It was intolerable not to do so. Steamships round the world, C.P. stocks sold abroad—always at a premium. Europe postered with Canadian Pacific Hotels—a chain of them; every one a palace. Imperial Limited, the greatest train system in the world. Princes, potentates and poets rolling in state over the country, at the C.P.’s expense. The contagion of success transcended statistics, and infected every man with a desire to keep C.P. efficiency at the top.

And the older he grew the more Shaughnessy became absorbed in it. He was the president. In his career the office of president reached its climax. It was shorn of much of its aspect of awe as soon as he left it.

Pomp—But Efficiency Still

NO POMP however could undo such efficiency, and in the main such national sanity. Shaughnessy always liked to have a voice in national affairs. That was partly tradition. It also kept the public from remembering that the railway after all was a creature of government and of polities. It sometimes deflected public attention from the “melon patch which in C.P. was the Toronto World's sobriquet for “pork barrel, and from the ever potential lobby maintained by the company at Ottawa. Of course lobbies are always repudiated.^ No self-respecting railway ever knows it by that name. There is no department of lobbyage in head offices. The art is never taught. But it is childish to dodge the public necessity of a great corporation being represented at the centre of national legislation. In fact C.P. has loomed so large in public affairs that a member of Parliament for the company would sometimes have been scarcely ridiculous. Whenever Lord Shaughnessy went to Ottawa, it was public news. He never went for his health, seldom ^ without some issue too big for a subordinate to handle. Had the Minister of Railways gone to Montreal to see Mr. President it would have seemed quite as natural.

The war gave Lord Shaughnessy for a time almost equal prominence with Sir Sam Hughes. His quite sensible speech criticizing the haphazard and costly methods of recruiting made Hughes retort that to raise the First Contingent was as great a chore as building the C.P. R. Lord Shaughnessy earned that absurd retort because of his announcement to the Government that he meant to make the speech; as though the nation would be waiting to hear it. There was room for one super-govemmentarian at Ottawa; never for two. It was Hughes vs. Shaughnessy. The government was not amiable over being chidden by the baron, even though the baron had been made the general purchasing agent for the Imperial Government in Canada, and, as such, with the railway and the ships at his disposal, making him the antecedent of both Hughes and Flavelle in getting war supplies. The Railway War Board also derived most of its efficiency from the C.P.R. pooling its equipment with the less efficient roads.

Lord Shaughnessy’s retirement from the presidency was not sudden. He had reached his zenith. His eyesight was bad. But he had not lost his grip. The war threw such an unusual load on the system and so changed its complexion that it became necessary to have a younger man. There is reason to believe that the war rudely upset much of the Imperial dignity of the great system. The C.P. was no longer a law unto itself. It was part of the national pool. The president was no longer a sublime autocrat; he was a public agent. The life blood of a globegirdling system was drained by the war, even while it retained its supremacy as the greatest railway and more than held up its end compared to the railway muddle in the United States. Never again could the C.P. recover its splendid isolation of greatness. Public ownership was being thrust upon the nation by the bankruptcy of the other roads. Shaughnessy had no real fear that it would ever absorb the C.P.R. But he had reason to suspect that a huge government system would be more or less of a menace-and something of a muddle to the system which he had spent his life to build up.

There was no better way than to retire, leaving the chief administration to a man of his own choice and retaining the post of Chairman and moving to the room formerly occupied by E.W. Beatty. Even here the old autocrat survives. The proposal made by Baron Shaughnessy to pool all the railways except the Grand Trunk and to put them all under C.P. administration with a guarantee of dividends to C.P. shareholders—was a magnificent play to the gallery. The other roads were undeniably bankrupt, when even the splendid showing made by the management could not make their records palatable to the public. It was a strategic time to advertise once, finally and for all the unequalled efficiency of the old trans-continental, along with a certain apparent national magnanimity in the old autocrat still politically its

Suppose the National Progressive Party from the prairie satrapies of the C.P.R. should put that into their platform!