The Story of the Past and Present of an Old Trail Made New THE CRUISE OF THE CRUSADERS
IT WAS a stunt, of course, in which every move was a picture, and many of the stops.
The Big Idea was to ride from Banff to Windermere over the old trail that has become a new motor road, and thus constitute the first tourist party, and probably the last pack train, to push westward over this picturesque route. The story of the trip is to be recorded on the silver screen, as well as handed down to posterity by word of mouth.
Verily, it was the experience of a couple of lifetimes.
Among those present were L. O. Armstrong, lecturer and genial general in charge of the party; Mrs. Elizabeth Bailey Price, of Calgary, who represented the Associated Press, and elected herself, despite furious opposition, chaperone of the outfit. Then there was Merle Hall, president of the Winnipeg Press Club, a ripping good sport, and incidentally, assistant to Mr. Trautman, western publicity agent of the C. P. R. (advt.), and A. Maris Boggs, also an assistant director—of the Bureau of Commercial Economics,
Washington, D. C.—through which organization the moving picture will be widely distributed. A goodly company they were indeed.
John Alexander, editor of the BritishCanadian Pathe News, was the camera man of the party, although that description is, at best, a loose one, for Mr. Alexander exhibited many other claims to distinction during the trip, and every member of the gathering carried a camera. Indeed, Mr. Edwards carried two, chic, little contraptions, like miniature saddle-bags that hung against his sides and clattered gaily as he cantered along.
Mr. Edwards, better known as "Toppie,” is the famous founder of the Topical PresAgency, London, England, the first organization ever created for the distribution of photos graphs to newspapers and periodicals, in the same way that news is distributed by such agencies as the Associated Press, Reuter’s, etc.
Mr. Edwards’ library contains a million and a half photographic subjects, and some two hundred thousand negatives. There is not a person of any distinction whose photograph he cannot supply at a moment’s notice, nor that of an important event occurring within the last twenty years. His venture came into being with the acquiring of two photographs, neither of which he had taken himself, the best known being that of a cat which was credited with saving two lives (not its own).
With an associate who owned a camera, plus ignorance and pushfulness, “Toppie” embarked on the career which has succeeded even beyond his dreams. The work is not drudgery, he says, but sport. Certainly he has not the appearance nor manner of a man oppressed by carking care. His good nature was unbroken, his conversation continuous, and his impudence was not lacking in both charm and humour.
Brains vs. Beauty
HpERRY RAMSAYE, whose less than forty Jyears (soon he will need to diet to get away with this!) have been crowded with adventure gained as cub reporter, amateur detective, assistant editor of a big metropolitan daily, owner of a movie news concern, and now
one of the cleverest title writers in the game—Ramsaye offered a sharp contrast to our English friend. He was disconcertingly temperamental, a man to whom beauty
of face and form is essential, and it irked him to note that the female members of the party had obviously been chosen for their intelligence and endurance rather than their pulchritude. Early in the week his manner expressed pained disapproval which grew in intensity from day to day.
“Smile!” he would urge from over the camera man’s shoulder. “Stop!” he would contradict, an instant later.
“Lookup! look down!" would be the bewildering command on another occasion.
“I must have a full face—no, no! the back of your head, please,” and similar directions, until finally, his disgust culminated in the scathing observation ;
“What faces! They’re on!y fit to eat with!”
Even a sharper contrast was Mr. Oliver, the photographer, of Calgary, who did his best to take action out of the movies and convert them into “stills.” (Hosts of the W. C. T. U. have mercy on him!)
Walter Nixon was chief guide, with Madeline Turner, the only girl guide in the Rockies, as his trusted lieutenant. There were twenty-four horses when we started, and about fifteen when we dashed into Windermere Camp, and— before I forget.—there was ME!
We set out from Banff early one grey Sabbath morn. To save a little time— Heaven knows why!—we motored a few’ miles to Nixon’s camp, where the Marble Canyon and impatient steeds awaited us. Unpacking the motor? provided inspiration for the first picture, during which I wrote a line to sorrowing friends in the effete East, but whatever Terry Ramsaye says I said in that note, I didn’t!
The debarkation was followed by a hearty lunch, and to obviate the necessity of further reference to meals, I will mention that we had four or five daily and lightened the burden of the pack animals with astonishing rapidity, while increasing the weight for our several saddle horses. After lunch, the party made a tour of inspection to the paddock, and argued pleasantly over the horses they wished, or did not wish, to ride. With rare foresight, determination, and the self-interest so necessary for one’s comfort on the trail, Boggsie picked the best of the lot and clung tenaciously to him, thereafter. The mount assigned to me was one Baldy, who, at first glance, signified a definite distaste for feminine society, so after a couple of very false starts, I gladly relinquished him and took on a “blue” animal named Jimmy, whose tastes were more catholic. James, later, had the distinction of carrying Bliss Carman, but even this did not distract him from his self-constituted life-mission. In some previous incarnation Jimmy was certainly a lawn mower. His passion for clipping the fair herbs bordering the roadside was not to be controlled, even with whip and spur. It was perhaps fitting that he should be a member of this Press party, for whom “clippings” have ever an undying fascination!
Ready for the Sleeping Bags
MARBLE CANYON is a miracle of beauty with its great pools of boiling foam and noisy gush of rapid waters. The walls, like those of Maligne and Johnstone Canyons, are so close together in some places, that the intrepid and adventurous could jump from one side to the other. Several pictures were made and the evening closed with the usual campfire gathering and recounting of hoar-frosted stories which somehow sounded intensely humorous accompanied by the crackling logs. The stars blazed, the air grew fearfully
cold. Somebody shivered and yawned. There was a general separating among the tents and a hasty crawling into sleeping bags.
The end of the first day!
Before chronicling the stirring events of the days that followed, it may be interesting to say something of our equipment and the manner of its disposal. Most of us carried army sleeping bags and at least one pair of blankets. The ideal bed for those cool parts, I think, is an eiderdown sleeping bag, but they are rather expensive for a short trip. With the army sleeping bag, really no other piece of luggage is necessary, as everything can be rolled inside. A small pack sack, however, or duffle bag is convenient, as it can be opened more quickly and easily than the cumbersome sleeping bag.
The great thing on a trip of this sort is to travel light.
Speaking for the feminine contingent, each of us carried an extra pair of boots, a change of clothing including a skirt, and a meagre assortment of toilet articles. All these were stowed on pâck horses, which carried as much as two hundred and fifty pounds. Tents and duffle bags were not much problem, but the photographic equipment presented a new difficulty each morning. As every camper knows, there is a definite art in packing a horse.
If incorrectly done, some beasts won’t travel, some start and lie down literally on the job (and your pet mirror)and others plod resignedly on, despite a cruelly chafed back or belly.
When the Flap-Jacks Flap
A HARDENED camper usually makes his pack ready before leaving his tent in the morning. The excellent custom of airing beds is not observed.
Blankets, pyjamas and accessories are folded as soon as dispensed with, so that when the guides break camp, immediately after breakfast, they can determine the disposal of the luggage. There is nothing more irritating than the discovery of a box or bag after all the horses are ready for the trail. Our raincoats and cameras went in our saddle bags.
Well—in the chill dawn of the second day, Walter Nixon strode forth and sounded the call for breakfast on his dishpan. Even as we gathered round the fire, cups of steaming coffee in our hands, the sun stepped over an eastern peak and warned us that the day would be exceedingly hot. Dead to all sense of shame, we ate Nixon’s flap-jacks—flapped from the pan with unerring aim right on to our plates—until even the most expansive could expand no more. Then we mounted heavily and rode off to the “Paint Pots.”
This is one of the most amazing, natural freaks that the imagination can conjure. In a sense, no other description than the name is necessary. Nature, in one of her capricious moods, has provided sufficient colouring to supply the world with vermilion and ochre for years. The “Paint Pots” are actually three large pools of natural, liquid paint, lying in an extensive field of ochre, which might be likened to a yellow muskeg. No manufactured product excels in richness or softness of shade this natural product, which has been known to the Indians for many centuries and used by them not only as the base of their beautiful dyes, but as a medium of trade.
To attempt a scientific description of this geological curiosity, would be, for me, an act of supreme recklessness. Up to the time of writing, I have been unable to find anyone who cared to speak authoritatively upon the subject. As a matter of fact, the district through which we passed is so “new,” that there is little or no scientific data concerning certain phases of it. The best that I can do, is to set forth just what I saw, and what I deduced therefrom.
We left the main road about two miles above our camp, worked through thick brush, forded a small stream, and found ourselves floundering in what looked and felt like a brilliant yellow muskeg. It was so soft that stern treatment had to be applied to several of the horses (including my Jimmy) before they could be induced to proceed. None of us had known exactly what to expect, and none of us found just what we had anticipated—with the possible exception of Mr. Armstrong and Nixon.
“Is this it?” we asked, as our steeds struggled across an expanse of oozing mud.
“Part of it,” we were told, and we plunged on.
Fifty yards or so brought us to a sylvan path and solid ground. Then we came upon a second “bog,” but one with several dry patches in it. We dismounted, and picked our way out to the centre of this ochre field, where three pools, or vats, of natural liquid coloring, were located. These were about five feet in diameter and
the one we “sounded” was four feet deep. For the benefit of the camera man, Mr. Armstrong decorated his white horse with tepees, arrows and all manner of cabalistic signs, using the liquid from this pool to do his painting. Some little distance farther on, we found great dark
Top:—Summit Lake, Briscoe Range. The cavalcade is now well on its way to Sinclair Hot Springs. Lower Left:—Between the lowering walls of Sinclair Canyon. From left to right: Madeleine Turner, Merle Hall, Madge Macbeth, Mrs. Price, A. Maris Boggs. Oval: Coming through the Red Cates at Sinclair Canyon.
red masses of earthy substance, which proved to be vermilion in its raw state, or an outcrop of cinnabar ore.
That both the red and yellow deposits passed through some sort of washing process was evident from the rickety wooden trough to which was attached an ancient waterwheel. As the work was suspended and the entire district deserted save for our party, I have no idea what the process entails. In a nearby shed, however, I saw enough powdered vermilion to paint the whole of British Columbia red! How much was represented in dollars by that powder, I am unable to say, but considering that vermilion is rare and expensive, I should judge that it represented quite an impressive sum of money.
Vermilion was used by the Indians as a medium of trade, and it is said that our Canadian pigment found its way as far afield as Mexico.
It certainly is durable. I painted a pair of moccasins with a diluted mixture of the powder and water, and have been unable to remove it even with gasoline. Like the yellow, its richness and softness of color are remarkable, and surpass the effect of any manufactured product I have seen.
"The Paint Pots” then, I should say, is a term loosely applied to a considerable area which appears to be a fine illustration of hydrate of iron oxide; it is a display of natural, mineral pigment. Pigment—may I explain?—is
used in its general sense, distinguishing raw colors from the product which is mixed with some vehicle such as oil, to form paint. Pigments are obtained from animal life, vegetable and mineral; for example, compounds from such metals as oxide, silicate, carbonate and chromate. Natural mineral pigment must have been the first
' coloring matter employed by man. The earliest survival of painting dates from the Paleozoic period, 50,000 years B. C., at which time it is safe to surmise that no chemically-manufactured product was available. The Indians of North America have used the natural pigments for
many centuries both as a means of personal adornment and as the base of their beautiful dyes.
We returned from the “Paint Pots” to find that camp had been broken and everything packed save lunch, which was left for us to stow away! Then the Crusaders started on a six-hour ride to the next camp site, on the shores of the Vermilion River.
“How do you explain that yellow deposit?” some one asked the supper table at large.
“Toppie” Edwards answered the question. “Dead policeman,” he replied.
“What do you mean by 'dead policeman’?” demanded Boggsie, whose education has been neglected in the matter of English humor.
“Copper deposit!” called “Toppie” over his shoulder, as he ran out of range Betimes the next morning, the camera men were on the job, and when the women-folk appeared, they were returning in state on a hay waggon, driven by no less a personage than Major-General Oswald Critchley, who won the D. S. 0.. Croix de Guerre, and an Italian order during the war. He is now enrolled in the Parks Service, whose personnel is largely composed of that stuff of which heroes are
It seemed to me, during my brief excursion through the National Playgrounds, that the term “gentleman rawncher,” might aptly be modified to “gentleman ranger/’ or warden, and that the romance always ascribed to the body of the R. N. W. M. P., the Sentinels of the Plains, might be credited equally to the Parks Department and to the men who patrol our forest areas.
An Explosion Dispels Ennui
THAT third day was fruitful of much adventure. Our first taste was gained by several fordingsof the Vermilion River, which seemed to grow deeper and swifter at each crossing, until it became necessary to fold our ankles over the back of the horse and pull up the saddle bags.
Real pioneering stuff, b’gad!
On the trail once more, I found myself at the rear of the procession with Walter Nixon beside me.
“Now that the danger’s all over,” he drawled, in his inimitable, smileless manner, “I think I’ll light my pipe.”
The soothing effect of the weed was short-lived, however, for the party came upon the stretch of uncompleted roadway, where the first and only real contretemps of the trip occurred. It seemed a terrible one at the time.
Nothing was more interesting than the sight of this roadway under construction. Even the most superficial observation was sufficient to give us an idea of what the undertaking known as the Banff-Windermere Road has entailed in breadth of vision, technical skill, immunity to discouragement and persistent effort. Frankly, the job held, to my limited outlook, all the elements of utter impossibility, and yet I was told that the section was one of the least formidable!
Imagine a considerable stretch of sticky, red clay, in which the horses floundered deeply, and which was broken every few feet by standing tree trunks or immense hollows from which trees had been blasted. At first sight it looked easier to step from stump to stump than to pick a cautious way between them.
Suddenly, without the least warning, there were three loud explosions. Simultaneously, the horses stampeded, tearing frantically about in all directions. I had a confused view of pack animals racing past, of a shower o. mud from some steed’s flying hoofs and then, stumps, workmen, and the bordering timber melted into a rapidlymoving blur as Jimmy plunged away with the accelerator
full on. , , . ,
I faced death calmly. My entire past flashed before
Continued on page 63
The Cruise of the Crusaders
Continued from page 25
my mind, and my misdeeds rebuked me.
“I’ll be a beastly, muddy corpse,” I reflected, sorrowfully. “What an end to my career!”
With rare presence of mind and very little breath, I reasoned with James, assuring him that all was well and that no harm would come to him. He gave a flattering ear to my words. The passing landscape slowed down, and presently stopped. James had acquired his characteristic rationality and calm.
My life was spared to further adorn Canadian literature. Bismillah!
“ ’Ware Timber!”
ONE by one the terrified animals were brought back to the trail. The forest was paged for the missing horses, packs were plucked from trees and salvaged from mud holes: and finally, order was restored. The train advanced single file, and those at the rear had almost passed beyond the construction gang, when a sort of anti-climax occurred. Pack horses, by the way, are provided with locomotive inspiration by a peculiar cry somewhat reminiscent of the old song, “I-yip-i-addy-i-ay!” Should one stop, or move at a slower pace than the guide deems necessary, he calls, “I-yip—” almost on the same notes as those used in the song.
Nixon rose in his stirrups and sounded the musical command. The horses trotted round the bend of the road, leaving three of us alone.
“Timber!” shouted a man nearby.
“Yes,” agreed the Other Lady, pleasantly. “I never saw finer trees.”
At that moment, a great monarch of the fir dynasty flung himself to earth, and our three horses again took fright. The lady in question came perilously near to being parked in an evergreen tree, as her steed started on the return journey to Banff. Nixon lost his hat in the Marathon, and Jimmy, for once forgetful of the succulent herbage, made every possible preparation for a nonstop flight to Mars.
The lady would have understood “Fore!” called on the golf links, but how was she to know that the cry of “Timber,” in the forest held a similar warning?
Before making camp that night, I learned that the trail, which will soon become a famous motor road, was cut twenty years ago by our self-same Nixon, who was then Provincial Game Warden, and who figures prominently in that most interesting book by Lewis Freeman, “Down the Columbia.”
Nixon was the guide of Mr. Freeman’s outfit when he explored the Lake of the Hanging Glaciers and lent himself, as did the members of our party, to the exigencies of the moving picture industry.
The camp site selected for our fourth night’s rest was at Kootenay Crossing. Here, within an area of a few miles, we touched the hem of tragedy’s garment, for farm after farm, and cabin after cabin stood silent—deserted! The men who had settled there had enlisted for service overseas, had lain down the ploughshare and taken up the sword—and, they had not come back!
In many of the cabins, clothes were hanging on the wall and photographs gazed wonderingly down from homemade frames. In some, food had been left as though in preparation for a meal, the open boxes and tin cans telling their tale of hasty departure. In one, there was a letter from the wife in England— it seemed to have been forgotten in the rush of packing.
However, our camp was gay.
As soon as we arrived, the men started off to fish, and we were overjoyed at the prospect of having trout for the evening meal. Despite stringent advice to the contrary, I bathed in the green glacial waters of the Kootenay.
At the supper table, my first demand was for fish.
“Here you are,” said “Toppie,” and passed me a can of salmon.
“Nothing doing!” I argued, firmly. “I want fresh fish—where are the trout?” A tin of sardines was the answer. “Speed is the slogan of the day,” I was told. “Here, we catch fish and can them, while other people are baiting their hooks. Eat, pretty creature, eat!”
NEXT morning, I awoke to find the prosaic world turned to Fairyland! The teepees and tents had been transformed from structures of mere canvas into palaces gleaming with a myriad jewels, and every blade of grass glittered with frost. There was a thin coating of ice on the water tin, and, lying in my toofew four blankets, I looked out upon our little, tented village and felt that I had become part of the picture on a Christmas card.
We had a long ride that day, for the next camp site was MacLeod Meadows, just a few miles from The Summit and the downgrade into British Columbia.
A short time before reaching camp, we passed through one of the most beautiful sections of the route. A tree-bordered avenue, three miles in length and looking about fifty yards, with an immense, snow-crowned peak as the focal point of the view. The Banff-Windermere Road has a number of somewhat similar stretches, where a bit of perfectly straight roadway separates a series of thrilling, corkscrew curves, but this portion is especially memorable as being one of the longest and most striking.
On the following morning, we left camp considerably after schedule time, owing to the fact that the horses had broken parole.
Crossing the Great Divide, we came presently to a jade jewel known as Summit Lake, and then through the most spectacular part of the roadway—the approach to Sinclair Hot Springs. For several miles before the Springs were reached, the rocks took on a rich red color, attaining the height of their brilliance at the Iron Gates, which, contrary to expectations, were towering stone barriers—a grim canyon, indeed, through which Sinclair Creek foamed an angry passage.
The roadway has been hewn out of solid rock, which projects overhead like a mammoth balcony, or, should the tourist’s mind lean towards gruesome comparisons, the rock is poised like some instrument of the Inquisition, that may at will be lowered, and crush the maggots that crawl beneath it. People, horses— the whole pack train—seemed as insects in comparison with this one great rock.
ON THE opposite side of the stream, we saw a collection of interesting, Indian hieroglyphics painted in red— doubtless the same vermilion of which I have already spoken—and whose message to the ignorant would seem to be that a horse and rider had plunged over a three-hundred foot cliff to the rocks below.
We slept that night at the Sinclair Hot Springs.
The temperature of the water at Sinclair Springs is only one hundred and sixteen, and at first, I am bound to confess that this was just about one hundred degrees too hot, but after a few moments of uncomfortable parboiling, the body accommodates itself to the heat.anditisto the fact of the high degree of radium content, and the bracing qualities of the atmosphere which one is breathing while immersed in this out-of-door pool, that I attribute the absence of enervation.
We came back to real beds, and the first pillows we had seen since leaving ■ Banff, and after the mummyfying experience of a sleeping bag, a sure-enough, honest-to-goodness cot, suggested the spaciousness of ten miles on the open prairie!
It seems like sacrilege to pass over with a word the Big Canyon at Sinclair, and to have left but a paragraph for the David Thompson Memorial and the Indian Pageant at Windermere. But the Sinclair Canyon has to be seen to be appreciated, and the dedication of the Fort, with its consequent festivities, has been already recorded in the press.
The Hegira was the thing, for there will never be another. Next year, when the road is open, I doubt not but that a motor a minute will dot its length, and the picturesque pack train will belong to the past that is fragrant with the memory of trails, and canoes, and the more primitive forms of travel which obtained before the Rockies were conquered by men.