How Weak Lungs Made Canadian Millionaires
Some of the world’s busiest and most successful men have achieved their greatest triumphs after a breakdown in health. They were forced to take an extended rest, following which they took up their life work and attained signal success. In this article some outstanding instances of the benefits of the “Rest Cure” are cited in the cases of prominent men, including two leaders in Canadian finance, all of whom, following a restoration to health through open-air treatment, have become millionaires1
James P. Moir
IS THERE some virtue in lung troubles? To most people the question will appear almost absurd. All they know about pulmonary diseases has mighty little virtue in it. But that is merely one side of the picture, and it is the darker side at that. The other is much brighter; indeed, to view it is a genuine inspiration.
The virtue in lung troubles lies in a sort of recompense which frequently accompanies them. Whether or not one is prepared to admit this, the fact remains that some of the great things done by big men have been accomplished as a result of weak lungs.
Behind the lungs somehow lurks the secret of their achievements. The fact that they temporarily broke down in health, were given up to die, and were forced to seek rest and strength in the open, seems to have a direct connection with their subsequent success. Just what that connection is and why, they cannot themselves always tell you. But it is there all the same, and has forced them to the front in record time—in short, has made them millionaires.
Cecil Rhodes is a historic example of an incipient “lunger” whose threatened complaint ended in placing him among the “world forces.” At school he was a delicate boy and neither there nor at Oriel College as a young man did he show many more indications of greatness that the average young man by whom he was surrounded—except that he dreamed dreams.
He broke down twice. First, after his school days at Bishop Stortford, he was sent to his brother’s cotton plantation in Natal; and if this was not exactly wild bush life it was at all events a healthy, open-air life in a country which then—1870—was fairly free from stress and hurry of civilization. A couple of years in Natal and at Cölesburg Kopje—which in time was to become Kimberley—did a great deal for the delicate lad and sent him back to England fit, as everyone thought, to finish his education. But he tried to “keep fit” in a civilized fashion. He became a “rowing man” at Oxford and nearly killed himself thereby. After a hard row he caught a chill, it settled on his lungs and his essay at “civilized” exercise ended in a doctor’s death warrant. He was given no more than a year of life.
Back, therefore, to Colesburg Kopje and “uncivilization” he went. The pale, coughing, weak-chested lad— whose ideas had always been bigger than his capacity for carrying them out—started to live his allotted year in the open ; going on shooting expeditions with tent and ox wagon; living in a primitive shack in what was just beginning to be the biggest diamond camp of the world ; and. in time, working hard with his hands in the diggings.
The warrant ran out and the death sentence was not executed. Everyone knows the rest of Rhodes’ history. The consumptive undergraduate became the burly, broad-shouldered, massive figure with which the world later became so familiar. With physical energy came the capacity for putting into practice the big ideas of which the young undergraduate had vaguely dreamed and been ridiculed for dreaming. Out of Cecil Rhodes the hunter, the digger, grew that stupendous figure which dominated the whole sub-continent.
Another historic example is the inventor of the telephone. It was early in 1870 that young Bell, born 23 years before in Glasgow, Scotland, was brought to Canada by his parents—to die. He was given only six months.
The father, Alexander Melville Bell, professor of elocution at London Unb versity, lost two sons from consumption, then decided to come to Canada with the remaining one, who, too, had been attacked by the disease.
In less than two years the invigorating breeze, which swept Tutela Heights, Brantford, Ont., where the family settled, had restored the patient to health and strength, and sent him forth into
the world to achieve great triumph, in the field of invention, and incidentally, to amass a fortune.
Dr. Bell, speaking of the days of his slow convalescence, said: “All I am, my health, strength and life itself, I owe to the open air life I lived.” To-day he is a splendid specimen of physique, one of the world’s busiest men, and in the lines which he has followed, one of the most useful and successful.
Two recent cases in Canada are of particular interest, one in Montreal and the other in Toronto. The principals figuring in them were sent away to die in the below-zero health resorts; yet they came back and have since done the big work of their lives—work that has made them leaders in Canadian finance and millionaires.
Nearly five years ago D. Lome McGibbon, Montreal financier and President of the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Co., left Montreal for Saranac Lake, the great health resort of the Adirondack Mountains. His disease as diagnosed by his physicians was acute tuberculosis of the lungs; and he was told that he might live a modified life if he took the best care of himself.
At the time, Mr. McGibbon was barely thirty-eight years of age, in the prime
of life. He had just organized the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Co., to the hum-drum management of which he was likely to settle down for life.
Sanitarium treatment and outdoor life was recommended as the only hope.
To Saranac Lake, in the Adirondack Mountains, Mr. McGibbon went. For the first few months, absolute relaxation from business cares was enjoyed and strictly sanitarium treatment given.-By exerting every effort to get well the pa-
tient responded quickly and in a few months, recovery was assured, but to make certain of the cure, Mr. McGibbon stayed at Saranac Lake two and a half years until his health was completely established. Long before this time, however, his mental and physical energies had become so aggressive that he could not keep quiet. Big ideas evolved themselves and he simply had to do something. He had direct long distance telephone connection established with Montreal and New York and from his reclining chair on the verandah, while still undergoing treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis, directed his “big business.” Here was completed the Canadian Consolidated Felt Company, of which he is president.
It was, while lying upon his verandah chair that the re-organization of the La Rose Mines was planned. When Mr. McGibbon learned of the condition of affairs and being a large holder of stock, bought at high prices, he and his friends went to New York and took over the*control and management and have since devoted time and energy in its rehabilitation.
In 1910, Mr. McGibbon returned to his new home at St. Agathe des Monts, near Montreal, where in the heart of the Laurentians he had been building a quarter million dollar summer resi-
dence, nestling high in the mountains at an elevation similar to that of Saranac Lake. The house is surrounded by beautiful grounds, including • the famous Italian sunken gardens. Six hundred acres of farm and woodland slope down to the shores of Lac Au Sables. Fish and game abound in these private woods, while nearer to the house are the stables and garages, hothouses and greeneries, and not least is a model farm, two hundred acres in extent.
Following the few months of merging inactivity during the latter part of 1910, Mr. McGibbon launched into several huge enterprizes at the beginning of 1911. The $10,000,090 AmesHoiden-McCready consolidation was completed. Combining two of the biggest shoe manufacturers in Canada, this project is somewhat unique. The Cedars Rapids Manufacturing & Power Company was also organized. This is one of the largest power projects ever undertaken in this country, embracing the development of 150,000 horse power. The capitalization was originally $10,000,000, with authorized issue. of bonds of $10.000,000 more. After the subsequent sale of control of the company to the Montreal Power-Shawinigan interests the capitalization was raised to $15,000,000 and work on the first 100,000 horse power development is now fast going forward. Goodwins Limited, and A. E. Rea were two other projects put through this year. And 1912 has "witnessed the formation of several big companies. One, the Canadian Mining and Exploration Co., formed for the purpose of investigating and ‘developing mining claims of approved value; another, the Atlantic Sugar Refineries Limited, q huge sugar, company recently floated. Mr. McGibbon has likewise associated himself with Sir Thomas Tait in the development of the coal fields of New Brunswick and the building of a railway in that district.
But not all the energies of this consolidationist have been used in the formation of immense commercial enterprises. As well as the numerous consolidations mentioned above, there stands to the credit of D. Lome McGibbon the Sanitarium of the Laurentian Society for Control and Treatment of Tuberculosis, located at St. Agathe des Monts. While undergoing treatment at Saranac Lake the thought occurred to him that there must be many less fortunate than himself who could not afford to take the cure. The
thought was father of the deed. After talking it over with his friend and medi cal advisor, Dr. Kinghorn, Dr. J. Roddick Byers was sent for, and together these three men planned the St. Agathe Sanitarium. Plans were ordered for a modern sanitarium building. In the meantime a cottage was secured at St. Agathe des Monts and prepared for the reception of the first patients. Dr. Byers was appointed medical superintendent and the task of supervising all the sanitarium work given to him.
From this small beginning has grown the present large sanitarium. As soon as possible a building site of 200 acres was secured and a $160,000 building commenced. By July, 1911, it was completed. It has accommodation for fifty patients, and is so built that by addition of wings accommodation can be had for one hundred and fifty. The building is some 1,400 feet above the sea level, on dry sandy soil. The equipment is of the very best and latest.
, The sanitarium as well as being originally the idea of Mr. McGibbon is also largely the result of his generosity, the initial contribution of $50,000 coming from him and various amounts since, largely having made possible the carrying on of the work. The Laurentian Society since formed has the maintenance. Mr. McGibbon is the president of this society.
The best proof of the curableness of tuberculosis is D. Lome McGibbon himself. No one looking at him would ever dream that anything was ever wrong with him. He weighs 225 pounds and is certainly broad and big around the
chest. ‘'Four years ago,” he said to the interviewer, “I weighed only 156 pounds; and now look at me tipping -the scales at 225. And I work harder than anybody else, too.”
A Toronto example of the benefits of the open air life has his headquarters in a modest building on Bay Street. He is Aemilius Jarvis, “banker, yachtsman and one of themost progressive citizens of the Dominion” to quote his newspaper biography.
He is another man who cut loose from civilization twice—the first time by choice and the second of necessity— and as with Cecil Rhodes, it was after his second “relapse” that he began to make his presence felt in the business world.
Born in 1860 he comes of a family of distinction. His great grandfather was a U. E. Loyalist from Connecticut and the first Secretary of Upper Canada. His grandfather, Samuel Peters Jarvis, w~as one of the prominent Torontonians of his time.
There are incidents in the career of Samuel Peters Jarvis which are indications of the native energy of the family. He commanded the right wdng of the Canadian troops during the attack of Montgomery’s Hill in the war of 1812 and his fighting qualities won for him a number of decorations, including a medal with the Detroit clasp, one of the rarest there is. And he was the man who when McKenzie published his articles during the troublous times of the thirties headed those who marched to the printing office and threw his type into the bay. Aemilius Jarvis’ father was a prominent lawyer, and altogether he is a man whose ancestry and family traditions fit him for a strenuous and distinguished career.
Some boys would have settled down more or less contentedly into humdrum civilized life almost immediately — probably young Aemilius’ parents had some eminently orthodox course of action mapped out for him. Yet when he left Upper Canada College at sixteen, instead of entering a lawyer’s office or settling down to learn the ways of business, he shipped himself before the mast on the three-masted schooner “Edward Blake” and set out to see the world in about the most strenuous way he could
find. For a year and a half he travelled in this unconventional manner— London, where he left the “Edward Blake,” Liverpool, Leghorn, Hull, knocking about from port to port and ship to ship and developing that taste for sailing and the sea that has never left him.
But this first outbreak from the restraints of convention did not have much effect—effect, that is to say, on his business career. His second “relapse” was to come years later and was to be followed by a quick, if not dramatically sudden, rise to a front position in the financial world.
On his return from the sea, still only a lad of eighteen, he entered the Bank of Hamilton as junior clerk. After graduating there in knowledge of financial business he became manager of the Farmers and Traders Loan Association and later manager of the Traders Bank at Hamilton.
So far his career was that of an ordinarily successful man. He was a financial authority, a man whose opinion was worth listening to and who was worthy of high posts; but there are hundreds of his contemporaries of whom the same could be said, and he showed no obvious sign of blossoming into the millionaire class.
Then came sickness; a chest complaint and a warning that serious lung trouble might follow. So for the second time Aemilius Jarvis left his business, threw aside every thought of finance and took to the woods in real earnest. i
For two years he remained almost 'out of touch with civilization. Occasionally he made a brief visit to the city; now and again, when he was not too far away, friends came and shared his camp life for a while. But for two years he spent practically all his time wandering with an Indian guide through the Northern woods, shooting, fishing, doing the roughest work of camp and portage and living after the roughest fashion of the woods. One season he pushed as far north as James Bay; seldom did he condescend to any of the more or less frequented regions
of the amateur camper; alone, but for his guide, he wandered through country that is, even to-day, almost unexplored and into regions which the railway has even yet to find.
He came back to civilization with the threatened lung trouble successfully beaten off and with, it would seem, a new appetite for and outlook on business. Almost immediately he began to rise upward in the business world, founding the firm of Aemilius Jarvis & Co., which has since achieved notable financial successes.
An amusing anecdote is related by Mr. Jarvis in connection with one of his visits to California. As the train pulled into a station he thrust his head out of the car window to size up the town. There were a score or more persons on the platform—all coughing. “What’s the matter with all those cough ers?” enquired Mr. Jarvis of the porter. “Oh, that’s all right, sah,” replied the worthy attendant. “It’s the fashion to cough down here. Everybody does it.” “Well,” rejoined Mr. Jarvis, “they’re the worst I ever heard.” “Oh, they’re not bad,” added the porter enthusiastically. “'They’re nothing to a man we had on the train a few nights ago. He was the worst ever. And would you believe it, sir, he was in the very berth you are now occupying.” In relating the incident Mr. Jarvis jokingly explains that it was after that that he started coughing himself.
Mr. Jarvis is still an outdoor enthusiast, To the outward eye there may be nothing to distinguish him from a thousand other rich men in his mode of life. He is most methodical and systematic in his work, which he accomplishes with dispatch and vigor during his regular office hours, and then rushes for the open air, in which he spends much time in walking and driving. Rut there is this essential difference in his mode of life. Although he owns a fine house on one of Toronto’s fashionable streets he still re-
members the wild and sleeps, not under his own roof, but under canvas in a tent in the garden. Just an ordinary tent such as he slept in in the woods he continues to sleep in now whatever the state of the weather and the thermometer. If it is impossible to be a business man in the woods, to combine financial wisdom and scout-craft at the same moment of time, he at least brings as much of the woods as possible into his financial atmosphere. His sea-faring days are remembered in his yachts —yachts and horses are twin passions with him. And in winter time, instead of the hot bath customary to most people, he takes an early morning plunge in a snow bank—and enjoys it, too.
Other instances might be enumerated of prominent men who have taken tlie “Rest Cure” and afterwards accomplished the great work of their lives. Sufficient has been given, however, to show that there is a relation between cause and effect insofar as some cases of lung troubles are concerned. The breakdown enforces rest which fits a man for big undertakings. In the instances noted it is doubtful if the men who have made such fine records would have had the clearness of intellect and vital energy essential to the carrying out of the projects, had they not taken an enforced rest of twelve or twentyfour months. And so weak lungs are oftentimes a blessing in disguise. For that matter the same conditions apply also to various other diseases. The ex-
perience is related of a young doctor, who over twenty years ago was found to be suffering from a serious kidney ailment. He was given only a few years to live. But he did not despair and putting himself on a diet led a sane open air life, with the result that his health was restored. His name is now listed among the leading specialists. He works only a few hours a day and receives enormous fees. Thus in both health and wealth the “Rest Cure” pays handsome dividends.