TO THOSE of us who were born on the prairies of Alberta, whose first memories are of Indian sun dances and the red coats of the Northwest Mounted Police, who could count on the fingers of one hand how many times we had seen apples growing on trees; the very fact that the eighth conference of the Canadian Women's Press Club was to be held in Montreal, in the "East," was alluring enough in the beginning to make us want to attend. For seven years we had looked forward to it-to this time when through the courtesy of the great transcontinental railways of Canada it could be made possible.
Of course we know that the Club owed its origin to Col. George Ham, backed by the Canadian Pacific Railway, and being brought up in a prairie town, which owed its origin also to the Canadian Pacific Railway, we had had more than a passing admiration and respect for this great railroad. We knew just what the “Road” and the old “Main” line had meant to the pioneers. We had seen it being built, the long steel tracks being laid on the prairies. We knew all about the red section houses and the section gangs as they toiled in the heat and mosquitoes on the road grades. We knew that box cars could be taken off the wheels and converted into homes. We knew too that most of the Western towns were railroad towns, that most of the pioneers were railroad folk and that the whole life of the community hinged upon the “Road.”
We can feel yet the thrill of meeting the “passenger,” the only connecting link with the outside world, for in pioneer days everybody met the trains, especially after church on the long twilight summer Sunday evenings.
We can see, too, the homesick look in the eyes of our mothers as they returned slowly to their small unadorned frame houses and we can hear them telling of the old homes “back east” where there were maple and apple trees, and in the fall the maple leaves turned red, and in the spring the apple trees were just covered with pink blossoms. And we could hear the puffing of “No. 2” growing fainter as she sped away into the shadows and we longed to follow the Road to its very end, to the land of maples and apple trees.
So when we knew we were to be guests of the Canadian Pacific Railroad both as to transportation and week-end at Quebec it was like accepting the hospitality of an old-time friend with a good time assured in the premises. And in the beginning, in making our plans we find, too, that the Canadian National Railways had extended the privilege of what Crowfoot, the famous Blackfoot Indian Chief, called “the Key to the Road” and because it wyas seeing another part of Canada some of us chose it. Via Edmonton on to Winnipeg in twentysix hours, via Sioux Lookout, via Hearst and Cochrane we came in an incredibly short time, over a remarkably smooth road-bed, on to Montreal, where the morning of Oct. 6th found us assembled one hundred'and twenty-five delegates strong.
DEFORE we had time, or even dared to -L* take it, we were longing to “clatter away” in a one-horse cab to the top of Mount Royal, to commune with the spirit of Jacques Cartier, to gaze as he did on the mighty St. Lawrence swinging seaward, and in fancy see the little Indian village of Hoehelaga at the foot of the
Mountain. But, we belonged to a modern world, a world of conventions and business, and reluctantly, like the school boy when the school bell rings on the lazy days of ■June, we turned our footsteps to the path of duty the minutes of the last triennial meeting, the amendments to the constitution and the resolutions.
The day following, generalled by Miss E. Cora Hind of Winnipeg, agricultural editor of the Manitoba Free Press, a position unique in the field of journalism for women, assisted by Mrs. Helen Gregory McGill of Vancouver, who has achieved that pinnacle of success, the compiling of a manual of rules of order, we forwardmarched en masse and attacked the constitution. In moments of weakness when some of us might have leaned to a trip around the Harbor or w'anclered from the position in that vague way that so often
characterizes meetings, Miss Hind held us with a strong hand to the very last point of order. Being the originator of the constitution she knew every clause and where it had failed. The Canadian Women’s Press Club owes Miss E. Cora Hind a deep debt of gratitude for her unswerving faithfulness, interest and loyalty during its first years of organization, during the “disorganizing” days of the war, and for the masterly business-like way in which she conducted those all-important meetings on the constitution.
DUT of all the sessions there is one that •*-' stands out more clearly than the others. It was an evening one, when we resolved ourselves into a good old-fashioned party and we listened to the personal experiences of how and why some of our best known members had written their first books.
Mrs. Fenwick Williams, author of “A Soul on Fire,” led off with her testimony and how, and why, and most important how she got her books published. With a
whimsical humor she told that her method of writing a popular saleable story was like concocting a new pudding recipe—a lot of romance, a dash of tragedy, a bit of spice, humor sprinkled in—the result an easily sold story.
Miss Marshall Saunders, whom we all know as the author of “Beautiful Joe” and whose new book “Bonnie Prince Fetlar” is just on the market, one of the most charming personalities of the whole group, told us why she chose “writing” as a career. Although sworn to secrecy and warned that she was not speaking for publication, we feel Miss Saunders has imposed on us “A Gag of Blessed Memory”—which was the name of the first story.
Then there was that dear pioneer woman journalist of Canada, Agnes Maud Machar, author of a number of books, among them being stories of the British Empire, “Lays of Old Kingston,” and her most recent one, “Young Hearts of France,” a French translation. Although over eighty years of age she attended and took an active part in all the sessions.
Miss Isabel Ecclestone McKay, whose poems we all love, told us that her first book was written in the form of a serial and published in monthly instalments in a magazine.
Mrs. McGregor (Marion Keith) author of “Duncan Polite,” “The End of the Rainbow,” and others, and who was our very first victim to be interviewed in our cub-reporter days, and who confessed that the interviewed was more scared than the interviewer, stated thather books were the overgrowth of a number of short stories. An editor told her to combine these in a book—which she did and the book was accepted.
Miss Estelle Kerr, perhaps better known as an artist than as an author, explained that her book, “Little San of Volendam,” was written to suit a number of illustrations. There were a number of very interesting papers which we'all hope will be printed in order that we may have time to study them. These included “The Associated Press,” by Mrs. Florence Livesay; “Book Reviewing,” by Mrs. John Garvin; “Interviews,” by Mrs. Miriam Greene Ellis; and “Character as an Asset to the Woman Journalist,” by Miss Amy Kerr.
THE last day of course was climaxed by the election of officers with the result that the C.W.P.C. is launched forth on its next three years with a strong execu-
There are always two kinds of personalities at a convention, those already established and those developed in the convention. Of this latter type is our National President, Miss Lucy Doyle, “Cornelia” of the Toronto Telegram. In.her short term of office she has already proven that she can make clever speeches of appreciation, that she is very enthusiastic to make the club a real factor in the promotion of journalism and, above all, that she is a friendly soul. Her enthusiasm is catching —it is irresistible and already we are pledging more than our “politest” loyalty and support.
Charlotte E. Whitton, of Toronto, our new secretary, editor of “Social Service,” is another outstanding personality of the convention. The other officers include recording Secretary Mrs. Harold Gregory McGill, of Vancouver; Treasurer, Miss Burkholder of Hamilton, author of “The Course of Impatient Carnaghan”; His-
torian, Mrs. J. M. Sherk of Fort William; auditor, Mrs. Anne Anderson Perry, of Winnipeg; while the vice-presidents are: Ontario, Miss Marjory MacMurchy, Toronto; British Columbia, Mrs. Cromar Bruce of Vancouver; Alberta, Mrs. Miriam Green Ellis, Edmonton; Manitoba, Miss Kenneth Haig, Winnipeg; and Quebec, Mrs. Eldred Archibald of Montreal.
THEN came the time when constitutions were laid away and all the business was finished, when the C.P.R.. transformed into Col. George Ham, led the way and we all followed on to Quebec—and following Col. Ham we learned “How Laughter came to Canada"—written by Neil Munro:
“Long thought the Lord, then one bright day,
He made him a man of his spit and clay, And set him forth in the sun to dry.
In a place where the waters went rippling by,
Said the Lord, “Be Laughter wherever you are
Stand forth George Ham of the C.P.R.
By special train we slid quietly out of Montreal at midnight and w’oke up in Quebec, “that bit of mediaeval Europe perched upon a rock.”
Those of us who had not been there before suddenly found ourselves reunited with two half forgotten friends—Robertson’s History of Canada and the old Ontario Fourth Reader. Like a moving picture the old historical story began to unreel itself. Standing before Champlain’s monument Janey Canuck was telling us about Champlain’s girl wife of seventeen, how she wore on her breast a locket containing her picture and the Indians said her heart was so pure you could see her face in it. Vividly we began to recall the little Indian village of Stadacona, where Jacques Cartier wintered and his men took scurvy. We remembered the kindness of the Indian Chief Donnacona and how Jacques
Cartier took him back to France. Later Champlain founded the colony, on to the days of Frontenac who refused so haughtily to surrender the fortress to Sir William Phipps, the commander of the British fleet, and then Montcalm who gave his life in the last great struggle.
Our hearts went out to those early French Canadian pioneers who had left their homeland without hope of ever seeing it again, who had struggled and striven, who were in a state of constant warfare not only with the Indians but with the English Colony, who still kept on struggling and hoping while England and France bartered back and forth the inconsequential colonies.
Then came the details of the capture of Quebec, of Wolfe’s strategy, the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and the death of Wolfe, when Canada became forever British. This was reviewed by Col. W. W. Wood, of Quebec, at the luncheon on board the Empress of Britain.
A NOTHER feature of the memorable day was the visit to the shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré, the^building of which tradition accredits to some Breton mariners, who were overtaken by a violent storm while navigating the St. Lawrence, who solemnly vowed to Ste. Anne de Beaupré, if delivered from danger, to erect a sanctuary in her honor on the spot on which they landed—and so the first wooden chapel was built. This was replaced later by a larger one in 1660, which was subsequently rebuilt and enlarged and finally gave way to the present church, which is one of the most beautiful on the American continent. At the entrance of the church on two large rocks that reach from pavement to ceiling are the crutches and walking sticks of those who have had the marvelous cure.
Here too we saw the most precious relic, one of Ste. Anne’s wrist-bones encased in a reliquary made of gold and studded with valuable jewels.
A dinner at the Château Frontenac, a presentation to Col. Ham, an inspiring speech by our own Janey Canuck of Alberta given as she stood under the portraits of Champlain and Frontenac with all the pride of Canada in her face—this marked the end of a perfect day.
’Twas befitting that after reviewing the early history of Canada we should go to Ottawa, the seat of Confederation. At this point we said good-bye to our good friend Col. Ham and gave ourselves over to our new host, Walter S. Thompson, editor of the Press Bureau of the Grand Trunk Railway System. Arriving in Ottawa we were driven immediately to the Government Experimental Farm, where we were the guests of the Canadian Government at luncheon and afterwards visite d the various departments of the farm.
A drive to the Parliament Buildings was the next order of the programme and a visit to the archives where we just glimpsed some of the many treasures of Canada, such as the original proclamation dividing Canada into Upper and Lower Canada, old engravings of Montreal and Quebec, a miniature of Madeline of Verchères, the early editions of the first Canadian newspaper, a captured German gas mask dated 1910, and a host of other pictures, documents and relics of historical value.
And then came the last occasion of all when we were guests of the Canadian National Railways at dinner at the Château Laurier.
So our party broke up and we scattered hither and thither all over Canada carrying with us all the pleasant memories of that Eighth Conference of the Press Women of
It was more than a trip east—it proved conclusively that although the east is east and the west is west that ever the twain shall meet, meet on the ramparts of the old citadel of Quebec, meet in the Confederation Halls of Ottawa and say with one heart, one mind, “This is our own, our Native Land!”
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