People, Personalities and Pecularities
A Chapter of Ancedotes, about Well-known Canadians
COLONEL GEORGE H. HAM
THERE was great enthusiasm displayed upon the arrival of Lord and Lady Dufferin in Winnipeg in the summer of 1879. Theirs was triumphal tour. The GovernorGeneral, while ostensibly travelling through Canada to learn of its possible development, came principally to visit the Icelanders, for whose migration to Canada he was largely if not solely responsible.
After having seen Winnipeg and driven the first spike in the Pembina Branch railway of the C.P. R. at St. Boniface, he with his retinue started out on a pilgrimage to the Icelandic settlement. No newspaper correspondents were allowed to accompany the party on account of lack of accommodation.
And so the poor Toronto Globe correspondent sat twiddling his thumbs in Winnipeg while the expedition went north. Lord Dufferin’s private secretary was Billy Campbell, who also filled the same position with the Marquis of Lome and the Marquis of Lansdowne; but was now correspondent for the Winnipeg Free Press on the Icelandic tour. Billy and I were old chums. Lord Dufferin’s visit toGimli, the Icelandic settlement, was duly reported in the Free Press. Billy would send in the copy, and we would send out the proofs to a designated spot, where the Governor-General would revise and return to the F. P. office. They looked like the map of Asia after he had corrected them. His Excellency had given the Icelanders perfect fits, and he was a master mechanic in the uttering of the English or any Other language, but it makes an awful lot of difference between telling people disagreeable things and reading those same disagreeable things in cold print. So the Icelanders and the English had different views of His Excellency’s opinion of his proteges.
On His Excellency’s departure for the east he was tendered an afternoon banquet in Winnipeg, at which he made that famous speech where the Canadian West was spoken of as the land of illimitable possibilities. Lieut.Governor Morris also made a speech and the other speaker was to have been Chief-Justice Wood, but the time of the boat’s departure—they were going up Red River to Moorhead—came too early for the latter’s oration, much to his chagrin, as he and the Lieut-Governor hated each other like Christians. This did not altogether spoil the Chief’s oration, for he utilized the greater part of it, with the necessary alterations, in his charge to the grand jury at the next assize. And it made good reading.
Lord Dufferin was an orator. He memorized his speeches, and always supplied the copy to the press. You knpw His Excellency could imprecate in seventeen different languages, and he usually did so when occasion required. One day in reporting one of Lord Dufferin’s speeches in which he made a happy allusion to Canada and her American cousins, Billy forgot to insert the words, “loud laughter”—and the omission gave a seriousness to the speech that His Excellency did hot intend. There was blood on the moon next day.
IN 1881 the Marquis of Lome first went west. The A’ C.P.R. was not completed but he travelled through Canada all the same. The contractors for Section B., of whom the late John J. Macdonald was the head, undertook to carry him from Eagle Lake to Rat Portage, a distance of about 75 miles, but, as a long detour had to be made to take advantage of the water stretches, the distance travelled was nearly double that mileage. Elaborate preparations were made, camps established at regular intervals, and everything that could be done -for the comfort of viceroyalty was done. Live sheep, which scared the Indians who had seen none before, were taken to apparently inaccessible places, Indian boatmen in uniform manned large birch-bark canoes—experienced chefs supplied excellent menus, and everything combined to make this a most enjoyable outing. The newspaper representatives which included myself met His Excellency at the western end of Burnt Portage through whose weary, dusty mileshe andhis staff had walked—and when the tug which brought us to an island where we had camped approached its shores, a piper in kilts struck up “Highland Laddie”
to the amazement and delight of His Excellency. At each successive camp there was a new surprise for him, but none so complete as the one at Dryberry Lake, where we camped one Saturday night. ' The next morning, a bath in the lake was followed by a reviver in the large marquee. As we were about to crook our elbows, the noted Dr. Jock McGregor, the Marquis’ bosom friend and chaplain at Glasgow, who accompanied him on the trip, abruptly appeared on the scene. One has to know the Doctor to imagine what followed. He was one of the wittiest and most eloquent as well as the kindest of men I ever met. And he startled us all by loudly calling the Marquis by name and denouncing him for desecrating the Holy Sabbath by putting that into his mouth that would steal away his brains. He dressed the whole crowd of us down for our unseemly and desecrating act, and we all looked shamefaced and about as uncomfortable as could be expected. And when we all felt pretty sheepish and mean, he concluded:
“Out upon you all, you unregenerate sinners, out upon you. But”—after a long pause during which we were all looking for a hole to crawl into, he added: “being a little bit thirsty, I’ll take a wee drappie mysel’.”
Great Caesar! what a relief—why I nearly turned Presbyterian right on the spot.
There was a little unpleasantness when Rat Portage (now Kenora) was reached. Mr. MacPherson, the Indian agent, had written out an address of welcome from the local tribe, but Manitobahiness, the chief, would have none of it. He would prepare the address himself or the Great White Mother’s son-in-law could go hang so far as he was concerned. Manitobahiness was camped on a nearby island, where, seated on a soap-box, with his blanket wrapped about him, he looked every inch a king. The late Ebenezer McColl was superintendent of Indian affairs then, and he took me over to half conciliate the irate chief. We were received with a salvo of gunshots, in true Indian custom, but the arguments and suggestions of Mr. McColl availed nothing. Manitobahiness was firm, and Mr. McColl sensibly gave way to his wishes. The next I saw of the kingly chief, he was dancing a dance of welcome with the rest of his tribe. Manitobahiness was no fool. He was wharfinger at one of the river docks, and kept accurate account of the freight received in hieroglyphic style. He was only known to have made one error. Forgetting to put a hole in a circle, he transformed a grindstone into a cheese.
Sir Donald Smith met the party at Rat Portage and lined up the entire tribe in a long row, and personally gave each one a silver coin. You ought to have seen those w'ho first received the gift slip down the line and take up their
position at the other end, thus securing two pieces of silver. The poor Indian may be untutored, but he knows how to get there when anything is going.
The Kindness of Princess Louise
' I 'HE Marquis’ private secretary L w’as the same Billy Campbell who was with Lord Dufferin. He told me of the kindness and affection he received from His Excellency and the Princess Louise. One time when hë was laid up in a Toronto hospital, the Marquis would steal up from Ottawa on Saturday nights, visit him Sundays, and be back at-Rideau Hall Monday mornings with nobody but the household any the wiser. When he was recuperating and had returned to work, His Excellency asked him one day to bring him a book from a high shelf in the library. Before he could rise from his chair, the Princess laid her hand on his shoulder and said: “Never mind, Mr. Campbell, I will get it.”
And she ascended the stepladder and brought down the required book.
What of it? some may s^y. Well, it doesn’t amount to much, but I know a whole lot of people who are not daughters of Royalty who would not have been so thoughtful and considerate.
THE first time I met Lord Lansdowne was at the opening of the Lethbridge Colleries railway, which connected the mines with the main line of the C.P.R. at Dunmore. We were up early in the morning, but the eating facilities had rather fallen down and Mr. W. E. Maclellan (now Inspector of Post Offices at Halifax), who represented the Winnipeg Free Press, and myself, hadn’t much in the way of solids until late in the afternoon. The banquet was held that evening in a large building belonging to the Coal company, and Mac and I thought we would seek a quiet corner to report the speeches. We got in the wrong door, and came out unexpectedly on the platform on which the guests of the evening were seated. Sir Alexander Galt presided, with His Excellency on his right, and Mac and I, feeling very embarrassed, were ushered into seats directly facing them with our back to the audience. After the chairman and His Excellency’s addresses, Sir Alexander insisted that both Mac and I should speak, but we begged off, and the next morning we visited some Indian reserves and Fort Macleod, where my old friend, Kamooze Taylor, entertained us, the banquet chiefly consisting of liquid refreshments. At one of the reserves, Billy Potts, (or was it Dave Mills?) was interpreter, and Billy (or Dave) got tired of the long-winded talks of the red man. You see, one of them gets up and talks for five minutes or so, and then the interpreter translates his words into English. One chap was especially importunate. He was starving for this and starving for that until the interpreter’s patience ceased. A ten-minute aboriginal declamation was condensed by Billy (or Dave) as follows: “He wants, he wants to live like the white man. He wants pie.” The conference then suddenly came to a close, with His Excellency doing his best to conceal his laughter.
Next morning we were on the C.P.R. east bound train, and at an early hour, I was busy at work. Sir Alexander came along and seeing me writing so early in the morning, after the previous two days’ strenuousness asked if he could help me. I said he could, as so much had happened so quickly that I might have a hazy idea of some things that had occurred, and asked him if he would look over my report, to which he willingly consented. The introduction pleased him, for I had paid him a deservedly high compliment, and maintained that no matter what might be the official title of the road, it would always be called the Galt Railway. The report of his speech at the banquet met with his approval, but when he came to Lord Lansdowne’s he hesitated. “I didn’t hear him say that,” and “I don’t think he said this,” and similar remarks. But I told him I was not bigoted, and he could fix it up to suit himself, which he did, and it was a corking good report. So much so, that a few months later, when I went to Ottawa to represent the Times in the press gallery, Lord Lansdowne sent Billy Campbell to tell me how highly he appreciated my (?) excellent report, and asked meto call and register on
the visitor’s list, so that invitations could be sent me for social functions. By which you will learn that if you can’t do a thing yourself, get somebody who can do it better than you to do it for you.
Talking to Aberdeen
J ORD ABERDEEN was only met incidentally and he
' always seemed to me to be very nervous, as if he was afraid of being hit with a brick, which I attributed to his long residence in Ireland. He was affable and trying to do good and was very approachable. When in Winnipeg once, he was in residence at Silver Heights, one of Lord Strathcona’s country houses. I had arranged with him one day to ’phone bim in the evening when he would give me his itinerary for the following day. There was an employee at Silver Heights who was very disobliging, especially to 'the press, and whom I called up that evening. I thought from the way the reply came that this person was answering the ’phone. I told him to get to blazes out of that, and that I wanted to speak to Aberdeen. Then came a quiet gentle voice: “I am Aberdeen,” and then he told me all I wanted to know about his movements. Lady Aberdeen was a most indefatigable worker, and it is to be regretted that their late tour through the United States for some worthy object did not have the results that were expected.
Winnipeg Doctors Play Practical Jokes
T'\R. PATTERSON was a leading physician of Winnipeg, but he is my medical adviser no longer. This is why. One Hallowe’en about 10 o’clock, when I was handling flimsy on the Free Press—three different services, which were enough to drive a man to distraction—I was going down to the business office, when the Doctor, collarless and coat unbuttoned, rushed in and excitedly
“Great guns, but I am glad to see you have recovered!’’
“From what?” I naturally asked.
“Why,” he replied, “just got a 'phone that you had fallen in a fit.” Grabbing my wrist, he encouragingly remarked as he felt my pulse: “Well, it’s not so bad. A little stimulant will put you all right.” And he dragged me across the road to Clougher’s.
As we were returning to the office and had reached the lane in the rear of Clougher’s, we heard footsteps hastening down the sidewalk from Main Street.
“Hold on,” he said, “let’s see what’s up.”
The “up” was Dr. Good, and Dr. Jones, and Dr. Cowan and Dr. Neilson and Dr. Benson and Dr. Henderson and Dr. Codd and others, making a round dozen in all, and they were all glad to see me alive. Each mother’s son had received a similar ’phone call to the one Dr. Patterson said he had got. The whole medical fraternity boldly charged me with playing a Hallowe’en trick on them, Dr.
Patterson being the loudest in his denunciation. I trie! to explain my entire innocence to the whole group at Clougher’s, but it evidently did not go with them. Dr. Good said he had just retired from general practice and had become a specialist, but on account of our old friendship he had left a patient in his office to answer the call. Dr. Jones, who was in his slippers, stated that he was about to retire after a hard day’s work, but couldn’t see me suffer. Dr. Neilson asserted that he had to neglect another patient to answer this fool call, and what the other doctors said was unfit for publication. They all looked upon me with suspicion and if another call had been given them for me that night, I would have died of old age before they would have come to my aid.
It was a long time afterwards when old Alex McLaren, of the McLaren House, and I met in front of Trott & Melville’s drug store on Main Street, just a short distance from the Free Press office. We always stopped and had a chat when we met, and this time Mac burst out laughing and said: “That was a good one we put over you last Hallowe’en, wasn’t it?” Then he realized he had said too much and was as dumB as an oyster. Finally, he admitted that he and Dr. Patterson were walking past that drug store on that fateful evening, and the Doctor put up the job on me and his confreres. He went in and arranged with the telephone exchange to call up the other medical men, then taking off his collar and disarranging his clothes as if he had rushed out to answer a hurry-up call, piked for the Free Press half a block away. And even to this day the Doctor unblushingly asseverates that by his prompt action he actually saved my life. I never received a bill for their services—but they made me spend all my money at Clougher’s that night in rendering continued aid to their injured feelings. And that’s the kind of man Dr. Patterson is.
A Big Scandal
/"',OL. W. N. KENNEDY was mayor of Winnipeg ^ when the city bought its first piano. People maliciously said that the instrument was an old one belonging to the
mayor which he had palmed off on the city. Of course there was not a word of truth in the report, but it would not down. At a concert one evening, Miss Chambers, a niece of Col. Kennedy, was playing a number, when one of the mayor’s detractors who sat beside me said in a stage whisper:
“There, doesn’t that prove that’s the mayor’s old piano? How would his niece know where to put her fingers so well unless she had played upon it before?” That was proof positive to him of the existence of a big scandal.
Flour for Lady Macdonald
WHEN John Niblock was general superintendent of the C.P.R. at Medicine Hat, Sir John and Lady Macdonald passed through to the Coast on the second transcontinental train from the east. John was out on the line, and missed the Chief—but disappointed as he was, he was not altogether phazed. He wired to Calgary for the agent to send a bouquet of flowers to the Earnscliffe, the car Sir John always used. The telegraph operator was a green hand, and couldn’t send very well, so when the wire reached Calgary, it read:
“Send boq flour to Lady Macdonald with my compliments. (Sgd.) John Niblock.”
The operator couldn’t make out what a “boq”—the contraction for bouquet—meant, and so substituted
“bag.” When the agent lumbered down to the Earnscliffe, the steward absolutely refused the Hour as he was already stocked up. So Lady Macdonald lost both the bouquet and the bag of flour.
Stories of C.P.R. Officials
JOHN RIORDAN was an old and efficient roadmaster 'J of the C.P.R. western lines, and he ever had an eye to the Company’s interests. One day, a navvy was taken ill with cramps, and there being no medical man within hailing distance, and no proper remedies, John seized a sizzling hot mince pie and clapped it on the suffering man’s stomach. He quickly recovered, and when John reported the matter, he was quizzingly asked what he had done with the pie, and he naively said: “Sure, sir, I put it back on the shelf.”
John was a thoroughly loyal employee, and when there was a strike on, he wired his brother, then on strike at Deloraine, in an effort to bring him back to the ranks'. “Tim Riordan,
You are now roadmaster for the Deloraine division.
(Sgd.) JOHN RIORDAN” Quickly came back the answer:
“John Riordanr C.P.R., Winnipeg.
You are a d — liar. Iam not.
TIMOTHY RIORDAN.” Talking about Mr. Oborne, he had great economic ideas. He spent quite a time in ascertaining whether two short whistles from a locomotive were not cheaper than one long one. He noticed one day that a lot of coal was dropped off the tender between Winnipeg and Brandon, and insy-ucted his assistant, Ed James, to have it gathered up. Of course Ed. strictly followed instructions, and a week later was asked how it was progressing.
“Fine,” said Ed., “we’ve picked up two tons already, and are still picking.”
“Splendid,” encouragingly replied the boss, “And how much is it costing?”
“$65.00 a ton.” As coal was then laid down at Winnipeg at $4.50 a ton, the collection of black diamonds was instantly discontinued.
Gate-Keeper, I Hope, in Both Worlds
pONSTABLE RICHARDS, head-gateman in the castellated stone structure of the C.P.R. at Windsor Street Station, Montreal, was everybody’s friend. A large , sized, well-built, active man, for many years he more than satisfactorily fulfilled his onerous duties, until at a ripe age he passed away bemoaned by all who knew him. He was an Englishman first and last, and on St. Georges’s Day, it was for years a great pleasure for me to pin a red rose on his manly breast. One time, I was away in Los Angeles, and didn’t remember that England’s patron saint’s day was on the morrow. But I did think of it in time, and wired to N. S. Dunlop, who was then in charge of the Company’s floral department, to send Mr. Richards a rose with my best wishes. When I returned home a fortnight or so later, Constable Richards was on duty at the gate, and when he saw me, he grasped my hand, shook it heartily, and exclaimed: “I knew whenever you were, you wouldn’t forget my rose. It came all right, but how could you send it by wireless?” N. S. D. had put on my card, “By wireless from Los Angeles.” My old friend honestly believed that the C.P.R. was the only railway in the world and Lord Shaughnessy the greatest man. One time in rearranging increases of salaries, he had been overlooked on account of having passed the age limit, and it was only when Lord Shaughnessy returned home and greeted him at the gate that he had an opportunity of airing his grievance. He told the Baron the case, and the next day was rejoiced to find that he had received a substantial increase and the back pay, which he knew came from the Chief’s own pocket.
If Constable Richards is assistant to St. Peter as guardian of the gate, I will take my chances on getting in without any difficulty whatever, and will hear his cheery voice resounding through whatever is up there: "Hey, you fellows, make way for the Colonel.”
MOST modest of men is Jack Stewart, the big railroad contractor, Who did such magnificent work during the late war, and was promoted to a brigadier-generalship. Out at the front, his activity and initiative performed wonders, and he built railways in no time and kept them going, thus facilitating the movements of troops, food and munitions. A short spur was needed and the War Office officials deemed it an impossibility, as there was no material for ties. But they had not consulted Gen. Stewart. When they did, he showed them where the ties could be procured, by pointing to a score or more of log houses, out of which they could easily be supplied. But it was in Egypt that the General gave them the surprise of their
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People, Personalities and Pecularities
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ves. A railway was needed through part if the Sahara desert, but there was no allast. “Lots of it,” said the General, and all of it in sight.” But they looked i vain, until he pointed to the Pyramids; nd said: “Why, there’s enough ballast here for all the mileage we need.” This pparent desecration of ancient landmarks itterly kerflummoxed the_whole British V'ar Office staff.
The Tale of A Cane F YOU knew William Williams, who ■ kept hotel at Deloraine, Manitoba, mu knew a jolly good fellow. I met him me day in Winnipeg, sporting a valuable rold-handled cane. When I congratuated'him upon the happy possession of ;uch a precious adjunct to his personal iffects, he rather hazily remarked that it vas a fine one, but he’d be hanged if he mew where he got it. So I said, “Don’t irou remember?” William shook his head negatively. With a happy inspiration :hat comes to a fellow once in a while I •eproachfully asked him: “Why, Bill, old noy, don’t you remember last night at Harry Sloan’s restaurant?”
William feebly acknowledged a very faint remembrance of the imaginary gathering.
“You should remember it, Bill, for when the boys gave you the cane, you made the speech of your life.”
William went wonderingly away, and I went down to the Times office, and wrote a paragraph recounting the alleged presentation, which convinced William when he read it that it had actually taken place. For a couple of years he remained in blissful ignorance of the actual facts, and then some busybody had the temerity to disillusion him. Then William came hot foot after me, but I persuaded him that his informant was not only a horse thief, who was really a murderer in his heart, but also was a weak-minded teller of fibs. Whereat both William and I were happy again.
Donald McEwan and the Waiter
AGREAT many people throughout Canada will remember with kindly thoughts Mr. Donald McEwan, who represented the well-known clothing house of Shorey & Co., of Montreal, in the West. Hé used to make his headquarters in Vancouver at the C.P.R. hotel, where he had a favorite waiter in Mike—Mike, the ready witted Irishman. One day we were lunching together, and it happened that one waiter bringing in a loaded tray for one of the guests collided with another waiter returning to the kitchen with a tray full o'f empty dishes. There was a grand crash and a big smash. “Say, Mike, who got the worst of that?” laughingly asked Donald of Michael. Quicker than a flash came back: “The C.P.R., sor.”
Another time my good friend was trying to get a hurried lunch in order to catch a train. He gave Michael his full order, which included ox-tail soup. The order was promptly filled, but Michael had forgotten the soup. “Where’s the ox-tail?” demanded Mr. McEwan. “Shure,” retorted Mike, “It’s where it ought to be— behind, sor.”
Mistaken identity frequently leads to curious outcomes. For instance, John Macbeth, a popular young lawyer, who was born in Kildonan, and his brother Roddy, now a favorite Presbyterian preach er in Vancouver, didn’t look alike as much as two peas, but there was the usual family resemblance. At this particular time the Reverend Roddy was preaching in Springfield, not far from Winnipeg. One day, as I was talking to John, one of the Mathesons of Kildonan, but then a farmer in Springfield, joined us, and began to tell John how much he enjoyed his sermons. “They’re grand, and I feel uplifted by them. Oh, boy, you’re the best preacher I ever heard, and I don’t want any better one, me boy whatefer.” “But,” replied John, “I’m not Roddy; I’m John.” “The hell you are. Come on John, an’ let’s have a drink.” And naturally—