AMONGST THE “COME-BACKS”
"The Cities of the Foothills”
COL. GEORGE H. HAM
'The Veteran Raconteur Returns to Reminiscences
AT A vaudeville performance in Montreal recently the great attraction was “The Come Backs.” They were a group of half-a-dozen old time minstrels, none of whom was under the allotted three score and ten, but the old man with the scythe had dealt gently with them, and they were a hanged sight more sprightly than the average la-de-dah who decorates the main streets of places of centralized population. They were a great aggregationof talent, and, while of the obsolete brand of the early 60’s, were very entertaining. Their very presence, with the displayed antiquated show bills of sixty years ago, was remindful of the once celebrated Christy Minstrels and Billy Rice’s Black Faces. They made a decided hit, and were greeted with continuous rounds of loud applause. Whether it was the old tuneful melodies, the antiquated jokes, the marvellous ability of the aged, supple athlete, or the quaint old darkey dances made no differenceappreciative applause was generously given. Then I began to wonder if it were possible that I, my own self, could ever be a “Come Back”. And that is why this new series of the reminiscences is being written.
And here goes--the first remembrance dawning on my mind being “THE CITIES OF THE FOOTHILLS”.
A City of the Foothills
CALGARY is one of the finest and fairest of the smaller cities of the North American continent. My first Visit there was in 1882 when it was little more than a mere frontier outpost, and a good portion of it was located on the east side of the Bow. I have been there very frequently during the forty intervening years and watched its wonderfully rapid growth and magnificent development which makes the average Calgarian confidently proclaim to the world that he is a citizen of no mean city. Calgary is a lively and a lovely place—the City of Sunshine—and its climatic conditions are perfect—at times.
Centred in a beautiful hill-girt plateau and almost entirely surrounded by the rapid Bow and Elbow rivers, with the varied forms of the majestic Rockies in full sight on clear days, with broad stretches of prairie and plains to the north and south, its scenic surroundings are incomparable. The towering ranges, in endless changes of aspect as the lights and shadows play upon them, form a picture that the Creator alone could produce, and the Devil’s Thumb, always as black as Erebus, (for it sheds its snows) in strange contrast to its bigger brothers, is pecuj liarly interesting. The average casual visitor vainly imagines that this mountain barrier may be at least fifteen or twenty miles away. It is eighty miles distant as the crow flies. The warm Chinook winds from across the mountains keep the ground free from snow in the winter season, except for a couple of days at a time, and are one of the many factors that make the district a great country. Calgary could progress without prohibition or “Progressive” government, but not without the Godgiven Chinook. The city, or the “makings” of a city, as it was then, was incorporated in 1885, with George Murdock as the first Mayor and the well-known Johnny Ingram the first chief of Police. Prior to the advent of the Canadian Pacific Railway it was only a trading post with the Hudson’s Bay Company and I. G. Baker and Company, of which J. L. Bowen was manager, as the principal commercial organizations. To-day—but go out and see for yourself.
In the early days it counted amongst its population a great aggregation of “live wires”—the best of good fellows—who made life one merry whirl for everybody, and kept most of them guessing what the next sensational thing would be.
But what could be expected when there was a battalion of young, active, energetic dynamos, bubbling over with the highest brand of effervescing enthusiasm, and plumb full of life and the best spirit of go-ahead-itiveness,
staunch believers in the brightest of futures for their adopted city. Not only in the embryonic city itself was the class of people of the buoyant type, but the country around was settled by scions of the British aristocracy, who became ranchers and nobly maintained the traditions of their blue-blooded ancestors.
Early a Social Centre
FROM the earliest days Calgary manifested a disposition to shine as an active social centre; this probably quite naturally in view of the fact that such a considerable proportion of the early ranchers and capitalists were members of families occupying high social positions in the old world. Within three or four years of the establishment of Calgary there was instituted a series of bachelors’ halls, held in the old Hull skating rink, which attracted people from Regina to Kamloops,—a stretch of over eight hundred miles. While old Calgarians will indignantly deny that any such conditions prevailed anywhere within five hundred-miles of Calgary as are de-
picted in the lurid chapters of certain modern North-West novels, there was, from the earliest days in Calgary, a very considerable representation of what one might politely call “the sporting element” including men who operated gambling establishments and women of the professional type who maintained resorts not altogether of the most respectable class. But the patriotic Calgarian of that day boasted that even the worst elements of Calgary were superior in their own classes. Be that as it may, Calgary was always singularly freefrom blatant, conspicuous viciousness, and open violations of the law were quite infrequent. This may have been due in considerable measure to the presence in the big barracks at the forks of the Bow and Elbow of a very large and exceptionally active and efficient contingent of the Mounted Police, there often being as many as two hundred of the “Riders of the Plains” in garrison at Calgary, and the post was under the command of two of the most energetic and capable officers of that corps, Colonel Bill Herchmer and Superintendent Jack Mcllree.
At the earlier bachelors’ balls everybody was welcome, and the result was a commingling of the British aristocrat with frontier sporting men and women. As the place rapidly developed and the citizens began to bring in their young families, the necessity for “drawing the line” became so apparent that for a year or two the big ball was abandoned. In 1889 it was decided to revive the event with a carefully selected list of hand-picked guests and subscribers, the task of drawing up this list being left largely in the hands of the then editor of the Calgary Herald, who had had some experience in organizing functions of this kind before going to the West.
That satisfactory results were accomplished and that trouble did not follow was credited by some to the fact that a few days prior to the big ball a soiree intime, at which the editor was host and at which a generous “permit”—which was good for two gallons of liquid refreshments—figured conspicuously in the entertainment of the men and women of the select sporting community, was held in one of the popular resorts of the time. Whether so or not, this was the first venture in the gentle but hazardous task of “drawing the line” by one whose duties at the present time have to do with the exercise of that art in the higher official circles, for the editor in question was the present Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod at Ottawa.
Incidentally it might be added that old-timers cla'im that a better “turned-out” party never graced a ball room in Canada, nor one which contained such a large proportion of men and women representative of the aristocracy1 of the Mother Country.
Early Sporting Days
FROM the time that Calgary was a canvas town there was a marked sporting element in it, and, naturally enough considering its position as the centre of a ranching country, horse racing was one of the principal sports indulged in. In the middle eighties a wonderful accession of full-blooded stock, both of the running horse and trotting horse variety, was introduced into Calgary and the ranches in the immediate vicinity. J. J. Barter of the Quorn Ranch and Mr. Goddard of the Cochrane Ranch imported several of the most famous stallions of the Irish and English race tracks, including some reputed winner* of the Derby and other historic races. Among the« animals was one famous equine beauty rejoicing in the name of Eagle Plume which was a great favorite with the Calgary people. Among the noted track heroes of those days was White Eagle, a magnificent grey thorough-
bred, íwned by Mr. Tom Lynch, a sportsman with a national reputation hailing from the Emerald Isle; and another wonderful flat race runner and steeplechaser was Harkaway, owned and often ridden successfully by Mr. A. D. Braithwaite, in the eighties manager of the local branch of the Bank of Montreal, and at present manager of the bank in the city of Montreal. Among the famous pacers and trotters of the time were Gold Dust and Manbrino Patchen, owned by Alexander Lucas, at the present time one of the most active and best known members of the provincial Conservative Party in British Columbia.
The matched races held in Calgary at this period attracted the leading horsemen of not only the whole of Western Canada, but the ranch states of the American Union, and considering the size of Calgary large sums were wagered upon the local favorites, and eight times out of ten *with conspicuous advantage to the venturesome Calgarians.
At a later date “All Smoke” gained great popularity as a winner, and won many victories both at home and abroad.
The local Polo Club included amongst its members George Ross, McNachtan, the Howe Brothers, Oswald Critchley and many others of the English “rawnchers”. This club provided a team which played in Eastern Canada and at points in the United States with great success, and Oswald Critchley with his three sons played a very distinguished part in the late War.
Newspapers and Newspaper Men
WHILE Calgary was still an infant village it aspired to the production of a weekly newspaper, which in time developed into the Calgary Weekly Herald, of which Mr. Armour was the first or second editor. Eventually this sheet became the property of Mr. H. F. Cayley, for many years a member of the North West Council and the North West Legislative Assembly.
In 1888, there was felt the necessity of a strong organ to advocate the interests of the ranchers and also to support the demand for railway communication north and south, and a company was formed, with Mr. (now) Sir James Lougheed as president, to purchase the Calgary Herald and transform it into a daily newspaper. At the same time the Alberta Live Stock Journal, a monthly publication owned by Mr. W. J. Keyes, was purchased and incorporated with the weekly edition.
E. J. Chambers, who had become known to many. Calgarians during the North West campaign of 1885, went to Calgary as editor and managing director of the new company, and under his direction the paper made considerable progress notwithstanding the fact that this was a slump period for Calgary, many of the original citizens being attracted to Vancouver and other points on the coast.
An unfortunate encounter with a team of unbroken bronchos resulted in such a serious accident that the health of the new editor was temporarily shattered, and after some three years’ hard work on the Herald, Mr. Chambers returned to the East leaving the editorial direction in the hands of Mr. W. F. Orr, a former mayor of Calgary, who in turn was succeeded by Mr. John Livingston, an old-time journalist well known in New Brunswick and Montreal. The Calgary Herald at present occupies probably the most beautiful newspaper building in Canada, and is one of Canada’s best papers.
About the time the Herald, which was the first daily paper between Winnipeg and the coast, started its daily edition,
Messrs. Bredin and Baillie established an opposition paper called the "Tribune” which existed for a number of years and became the recognized organ of the Liberal Party in Alberta. Mr. Baillie had been one of the editors of the Toronto Globe and was recognized as one of the best writers that ever graduated from that office.
It would be idle
all the happenings of the good old days, and utterly impossible to mention all the ripping good old-timers, who knew everybody and were known to everybody, but memory recalls such choice spirits as Fred Stimson, Paddy Nolan and Tom Stone, (God rest their souls,) George Leeson, George Lane, William R. Hull, Sir James Lougheed, Col. James Walker, Col. Sanders, Col. Macleod, Dr. Mackid, Harry Perley of the good old Alberta Hotel, James Reilly of the Royal, Pat Burns, the millionaire cattle man, James Muir and his partner,. Jephson, Postmaster George C. King, Chief of Police Tom English, Bob Edwards of the Eye-opener, Michael Costello, printer, physician and mayor. Judges Rolleau McCarthy, and Walsh, William Pearce, John S. Dennis, J. J. McHugh, Bob Trounce, Jim Sutherland, Fred Adam, John Niblock, Arthur Sifton, Dr. Ings, J. A. Bernard, Crispin Smith, Rev. J. F. Herdman, Howard Douglas, Dr. Roulleau, Dr. Brett of Banff, Alex Lucas, John Lineham, R. C. Thomas, A. E. Eastman, T. G. Goddard, Sydney Cowan, Charlie Fisher, T. C. West, Angus Sparrow, J. K. Shirley, Tohumil Hamilton, Bob Hutchings, Vic. Anderson, Jack Clarke, Dave McDougall, James Dillabrough, Jim Young, James Thomson, Norman Critchley, Amos Rowe, Hughie McLeod, Tom Peers, Bill Parslow, J. Collins, Comte de Mallarb, W. F. Orr, Jack Clark, J. R. Costigan, K. C., Dav. Campbell, Arthur Braithwaite, Wendal McLean, John R. Bowen, Tom Barns, The Swift Brothers, Sam Laringston, James Pavez, Fred Bagley, Bill Scollen, Fathers Lacombe and Leduc, J. J. Young, Nigger John, James Field, Dave MacPherson, Tim Barvis, Col. Windom, Billy Channell, Ernest Cross, Cappy James Smart, Col. Wooley Dodd, Major George Hatton, Sir John Lister Key, Tom McLelland, Bob Patterson, Inspector Victor Williams, Supt. Jack Mcllree, Supt. W. Herchmer, Col. Sam Steele, Dune Cameron, prince of sporting men, George Hope Johnson, Max Aitken, (later Lord Beaverbrook), Col. Perry, W. H. Cushing, Tuper Deane, and—but memory fails, and a whole grist of interesting characters regretfully are omitted.
There is no intention of writing a history or a guide book of Calgary, but merely to relate a few of the interesting incidents of the early days, some of which, it is hoped, will make history.
Paddy Nolan’s Humor
NO BETTER after-dinner speaker ever lived than Paddy Nolan, eminent criminal lawyer and editorial writer; at any rate none was more popular. His keen Irish wit was laughter-provoking, and, with good-humored banter, he never finished a speech at a banquet without being richly rewarded by round after round of applause.
At one banquet the guest of the evening was an Austro-Hungarian Count who feelingly dwelt on the fact that he came to Calgary from AustroHungary. When Paddy was called on, he gladly welcomed the Count, and sol-
emnly assured him that if he left Austro-Hungary he could depend upon it that he would never leave Calgary hungry.
Then there was a law suit over the dissolution of a medical firm, when Dr. Lafferty charged his former partner, Dr. Macdonald, with unlawfully appropriating letters containing money from the post-office. The Doctor, who had a key to the post office box of the late firm, pleaded that as he was not getting his share of the money sent by post in payment of bills, he had merely in selfprotection taken the only means he could to secure his own. Of course Paddy was Dr. Macdonald’s legal adviser, and meeting him on the street during the trial I asked him how the suit was progressing. “Foine,” says Paddy, “foine. We are shure winners. Why, do you know, George, two of the jurymen dropped in to see me just now, and wanted to know if they couldn’t find Dr. Lafferty guilty.”
Tom Stone’s Liquorice Shoe Laces
THEN there was Tom Stone of blessed memory, a tall, fine frontiersman with a twinkle in his eye that betokened mischief, and a tongue in his mouth that could imitate the speech of any living human being. At the Ranchman’s Club one day, a respected citizen, Mr. Thomas Hodder, was anxiously enquiring if the Bishop of Calgary—who, by the way, had a keen sense of humor —had returned from his far northern trip, as his Lordship bad promised to bring him some walrus shoe laces from the Esquimaux, those silk and cotton ones he had bought at the shops being unsatisfactory. That was enough for Tom, who rushed to the nearest drug store and purchased a box of thin, long-drawn-out liquorice sticks, which he carefully labelled and left with an accommodating bartender at the Royal Hotel addressed to Mr. Hodder. Then he phoned that gentleman and, mimicking the voice of the Bishop, who had a distinctly English accent, said;
“Ah, Mr. Hodder, I am just home from the far north, and I have brought your shoe strings and am leaving them with the bartendah of the Royal. You had bettah come down and—and—we may have a little drink togethah.”
Mr. Hodder was delighted and although somewhat puzzled. He couldn’t exactly understand what His Lordship meant by suggesting a drink in a bar-room, but he toddled over to the Royal only to learn that His Lordship couldn’t wait any longer and had just left. So the unsuspecting Mr. Hodder went to the club, and, very proud of his precious gift, ostentatiously displayed it. There was an unanimous desire on the part of the club to see the Bishop’s present, and when he tried to take the
alleged shoe laces out of the box they naturally crumpled in his hands. Just then a telephone call came for Mr. Hodder who went to the phone to find that the call came from the Bishop—actually, this time, and as His Lordship proceeded to tell Mr. Hodder about the shoe strings the irate Mr. Hodder, imagining it was Tom Stone again, yelled back, “You go to hell, you
d--d old fraud
you.” And turning round to the expectant c r o w d firmly asseverated
—“I’ll get even
with that d---d Tom Stone, I will.”
It is not recorded what the conversation was between the Bishop and Mr. Hodder when they met at the next Sunday morning service. But one can picture that meeting, with the outraged bishop and the unsuspecting Hodder, maneuvering for a common ground of understanding,
When Tom was in the hospital prostrate after a prolonged illness, his physician, Dr. McKid, found a ten cent coin in his bed-pan one morning. The Doctor was delighted and told Tom he was alright now, and his recovery was certain and speedy. Torn didn’t seem to enthuse very much, but smiled languidly, and the next morning when the doctor discovered a long rusty nail in the basin, he had to laugh too. Shortly after Tom peacefully passed away to the Great Beyond with a pleasant smile on his lips.
Continued on page 49
Continued from page 15
BUT it was not all beer and skittles with the early Calgarians. They had their dark days as well as their bright ones—and tragedy became mixed with the comedy of their lives. One tragedy was known as the Gold Brick case. An old-timer, long whiskered, weather-beaten and decidedly original, blew into the Molson’s Bank one day to get a cheque cashed. Mr. McGregor was the manager, and when the customer saw him, he expressed his unbounded delight at being reminded of his brother Hank, who he declared resembled Mr. McGregor very remarkably. In his joy the old-timer confidentially assured the manager that he was so pleased to meet his brother’s double that he would make him wealthy for life, and then disclosed the details of a wonderful secret “find”. An Indian, out near Ross, B. C., he said, had some gold nuggets, and had told him that he knew where there were heaps of them, and if Mr. McGregor would only accompany him to the mountains he would put him next to the Indian. The old-timer was evidently an innocent, and played his part to the Queen’s taste in pretending complete ignorance of the ways of the social life into which he was unexpectedly brought. At one house, he couldn’t understand where the music came from inside of the piano, and the instrument was taken apart to show him how the sweet sounds were produced. Mr. McGregor innocently fell for the bait, and went with the old-timer to Rossland, in the vicinity of which they found the Indian’s camp, with the orthodox squaw and papooses. Poor Lo couldn’t understand a word of English, but the old-timer fortunately could talk Chinook, and the two gold bricks, which were wrapped in bandages of cloth and old rags and buffalo hide, were produced. It did not take very much time to make a bargain. After being assayed at Trail by an “expert” assayist who was in the plot, the bricks were sold to the bank manager for $30,000. They had been scooped out, one of them on the side and the other on the end, in which a small quantity of real gold had been planted and these were the parts into which the assayist bored. Then they returned to Calgary, the $30,000 was paid over and the bricks sent to the head office at Montreal. For a while Mr. McGregor revelled in sweet visions of wealth away beyond the fondest dreams of avarice. But the spell was soon broken. The head office, too, had the bricks assayed at McGill and they were shown to be utterly worthless—except for the two little patches of gold. Mr. McGregor was dismissed, and went to Chicago where, after working in a minor position in a bank, he died of a broken heart. This does not end the story, however. Suspicions were aroused later, when the Mounted Police, having combed the Rossland district thoroughly, discovered
that there were no Indians in the locality at all, and never had been. Then it was remembered that one J. Arthur Bangs, who was a partner of the bank’s solicitor, was not in Calgary when the old-timer and Mr. McGregor had gone to Rossland. Still later another startling incident convinced many that there was a nigger in the woodpile. A $10,000 package of money consigned to Molson’s Bank at Calgary was missing and finally traced to an express messenger whose run was between Kamloops and Calgary. He was arrested, confessed that he had given the money to Bangs, and was sent to the penitentiary for fifteen years. Then it developed that Bangs had secreted the money package under the turf at the Calgary golf links. By this time the Pinkerton detectives were called in, and they followed Mr. Bangs and a Jerry Boyce to Spokane where $2,000 of the stolen money was taken to be exchanged for American currency. This was sent to Gleichen, about 50 miles east of Calgary, and when Jerry called for the package he was told that Mr. Bangs, to whom it was addressed personally, must call for it himself. Jerry got Mr. Bangs from the hotel and when the package was handed to him, Mr. Bangs found himself a prisoner of the Pinkertons. It then came out that the poor unsophisticated Indian was none other than Mr. J. Arthur Bangs himself! He, too, served a seven years term at Stoney Mountain, and then went to California— but what became of him since, nobody seems to know or even care.
Bohemian Bob Edwards
ROBERT C. EDWARDS, editor and proprietor of the Calgary Eye-Opener, is a real Bohemian—one of the boys—who publishes one of the raciest papers on the continent and in his own peculiar style. The Eye-Opener comes out whenever it suits Bob’s own convenience. He is widely known as “Bob” Edwards, and if he were alluded to as “Mister”, most of the people would wonder who on earth you were talking about. He has created more characters than any writer except Charles Dickens, and his McGonigle who cameup regularly from Midnapore to get on a bet was a corker. People wondered why McGonigle didn’t slaughter Bob, until they discovered there was no such a personage. He had other mythical personages—and especially in the Eye-Opener’s Society columns, which are filled with “sassiety” items of the richest sort. He delightfully burlesques the overdone society news of the daily and weekly press. He also deals in real personages, and hits right and left, but neither doing injustice nor yet holding them up to much ridicule. He is a kindly-natured man with a keen idea of the human “side” some people put on. And he’s funny: if he
could talk the equine language he could make a horse laugh. Bob left Calgary once—deeply regretted by the citizens at the time, and afterwards by himself. And on the occasion of his departure he was presented with a handsome gift and an illuminated address. He went to Toronto and naturally drifted down to Montreal, where he and I talked over the journalistic situation. He thought that Fort William would be a good-place to start anot her Eye-Opener, and I Suggested that Verdun, where there is a lunatic asylum, would be more suitable. I urged him to return to Calgary, and after prayerful consideration, like a sensible man, he followed my advice. So he returned, reestablished the Eye-Opener with all its pristine purity and at the last election was induced to run for the legislature. He was then partly elected getting the second highest vote polled. If he didn’t shine particularly bright as a legislator, he proudly boasts that in serving his country he got the influenza and pneumonia and likewise the shivers, and that all his indemnity went in doctor’s bills. Bob is in a class by himself, journalistically speaking, and as an all round good fellow he is in the front rank. And I can say this truthfully, notwithstanding that he audaciously printed an interview that I was supposed to have had with one Sir Tilbury Big-Bug, from dear Lunnon, when it was implied Sir Tilbury called upon me at Montreal and I gave him instructions as to what to say when addressing the various Canadian Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs and Boards of Trade, and presented him with a blank form containing speeches that he was to make throughout the West. The form was standardized, with blanks left in it which the supposed Sir Tilbury could fill in as circumstances required. Here is a sample of what Bob says I handed out to Sir Tilbury:
“Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, when I received your invitation to address the Rotary Club in your beautiful city I said
to myself.....However, as I rode through
your splendid streets and noble avenues
I thought to myself......
“The progress and enterprise visible on every hand has filled me with such amazement that I can scarcely....
“When I beheld the vast fields of golden grain waving in the soft breezes of the
western toodledy umpty ido......
future granary of the world......ties
which bind......unity of Empire.. —
unalterable ties of blood and affection.. blood thicker than water... eldest daughter of the Empire......As for your fair
city, Mr. Chairman, I have travelled all over the globe and have shot tigers in India, but never, never have I seen such a noble, such a matchless, such an overwhelming—any old thing......Your well
dressed women, your beautiful women, your alert business men, your—any old—
thing____Your towering buildings are to
me a continual source of awed surprise — “I shall carry back with me memories of
one of the most delightful......
“Thanking you one ana all for the kind reception you have given me, we will conclude with the last act of East Lynne.” “That’s fine! That’s just fine!” shouted the delighted Sir Tilbury. “Will you let me have this copy, Mr. Ham?”
“Sure! I have a thousand of them ready multigraphed. The Company supplies every distinguished traveller with one before he leaves for the West. These Clubs often wonder, no doubt, why the big fellows who speak at their luncheons all say the same thing in the same way, using the same phraseology, but it is all due to this skeleton oration prepared by myself many years ago and used ever since. Not a bad idea, is it?”
“Dambright idea, I should say,” cried Sir Tilbury. “Dambright.”
Now the readers will know why there is something or other inclining in the western atmosphere that develops one’s imagination and encourages him to—well, we’ll say exaggeration.
A Sizzling Political Pot
POLITICS in the early Calgary days were very strenuous. At that time there was a legislature representing the whole of the Territory sitting at Regina and composed partly of elected and partly of appointed representatives. Calgary was entitled to two representatives at large, and the character of the meetings at election time will be indicated by the following short description of one held when three candidates were running. One
of these, whom we will call “R” was desig-i nated as “The Silver-tongued Orator oh the West”, and had a great gift of speech The second, Mr. “H”, who had been in the previous legislature, was very popular but seldom sober. The third, Mr. “L” was a saw-mill operator and quite unaccustomed to public speaking, but we! known in the district. At this meeting which was largely attended by cow-boys and citizens, the Chairman first callee upon Mr. “R”, who, having arrayed himself in the proper frock coat, and attired for a public meeting, proceeded to speak as follows, in the proper manner, hand in breast coat, left foot extended:—
“Mr. Chairman: It has been said thai I am somewhat of an orator. I wish tc have it understood that I did not inheril that gift. I acquired it by hard study. I am a candidate for your suffrage as youi representative in the Territorial Legislature, and I have no hesitation in saying that if you see fit to elect me I can cope on the floor of that House with the gladiators of debate, etc., etc.”.
The second candidate, Mr. “H”,hac arrived at the meeting very groggy and had gone to sleep on the platform, being shaken up and told that it was his turn tc speak. He attempted to stand up bul fell down and, from that position, in s very drunken voice, was understood tc say:—
“We are having a fine time to-night, boys. Come around when I get anothei permit,” and then collapsed!
The third candidate, Mr. “L”, being called upon, approached the front of the small stage in the old Hull Theatre, looked about over the audience, which cheered him madly, and after waiting some time, sajd:—
“You know me, boys, I have got some cattle, I sell lumber, and, of course, you will elect me.”
The feelings of the electors with regard to oratory and the character of the representatives they wanted would be indicated by the fact that the latter two were elected and the orator lost his deposit.
In the Good Old Days
YOU know Judge McCarthy of Calgary once a member of Parliament foi Alberta, and a regular wandering Jew— not that he is a Hebrew—but he is on the road a good deal of the time. Well, the Judge—he wasn’t a judge then, but “Luggy”, as he was familiarly called— remarked to a Montreal friend one day that he was getting a nice little cabin built on an island in the Bow River, and intended staying there instead of roving1 around. His friend scouted the idea as preposterous, but Luggy persisted in his avowed intention of hereafter leading a home life. “Oh, well,” said his friend, “you had better do as George Ham threatens he will. He swears he is going; to join a circus so as to be home every night.”
George Leeson, of Scott and Leeson, who ran the Calgary-Edmonton stage line, never missed a race meeting, within easy reaching distance, if it were possible. He had a great gift of the gab. One time we were at Chicago, and it being a véry warm day, went to a saloon and ordered two beers. When they were set on the bar George perceived that they, were nearly all froth. Instead of complaining, he nonchalantly said to me; “Say, George, I tell you, here’s where they treat, you white.”
Lord Strathcona had made the run from Calgary to Edmonton by George’s stage in record time, and a succeeding commissioner of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Mr. Wrightley, had an ambition to beat it. So he bargained to give George $500 for the ride if Lord Strathcona’s record was beaten. It was. When I asked George how much extra it cost to make the faster time, he told me there was not a red cent of extra expense, the horses were only speeded up a little. And he complacently added, “For another $500 I could easily beat that time too.”
The trip Chief Commissioner Wrightley took included a visit to the Arctic Circle, and would occupy about two months. I happened to be at the C. P. R. Station at Winnipeg when he boarded the train, and so definitely was his itinerary planned that his parting words to his coachman were: “Meet me here at four o’clock on the afternoon of August 20th next.” And the coachman met him as ordered and the commissioner was there.
Another typical character was Cappy Smart, who for many years has been
fire chief of Calgary and was originally an undertaker. During the depressing times away back in the 80’s, a neighbor asked him one day; “How’s bizness, Cappy?” “Bad, bad, couldn’t be worse,” characteristically replied Cappy, “do you know that when anybody dies now-a-days there’s just two of us in the 'ole—me and the stiff.”
Calgary, in the early days, suffered from the “Permit System”,which has already been referred to, and the bootlegging system of those times might give pointers to those now engaged in similar activity. They included the shipment of contraband liquor in eggs previously blown of their contents, and coal oil tins, and in many other ways in the eHort to escape the prohibition conditions. The arrival of a “Permit” was, of course, the signal for all the friends of the party receiving it to gather and remain at the celebration until the two gallons allowed were destroyed and the system, like the present prohibition system, made drunkards of many men who would, it is claimed, otherwise have remained moderate
drinkers. , „ ,
One of the legends of Calgary comes from the first prohibition days, when a barrel reached the station labelled V megar”. Of course it wasn’t vinegar, nor anything weaker, and the Mounted Police had a very good idea that the contents came from a distillery. The barrel remained on the station platiorm for about a week and was closely watched by the police. But a Calgarian, identity unknown, but might have been one of a score or more of the boys—anyway it was a party with a thirst—with a great deal of fore-thought, worked his way under the platform, bored an auger hole through it and the bottom of the barrel, and drained its contents into convenient receptacles. When the police came to seize the barrel, they found it empty as Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. All of which goes to show that there were old-timers who were not so slow as some smart Alecs think they were.
The Last of the Cow-Boy Towns
FORT MACLEOD,—now it’s only Macleod—a little over a hundred miles from Calgary, has the pre-eminent distinction of being the very last Cow-Boy town in the far West. It was only until comparatively recently that everybody— men, women, and children, galloped through the primitive streets and across the wide plains on cayuses at no snail s gait, instead of walking. In fact when a person had not a cayuse, it was tanta" mount to saying he was “set afoot ; he was down and out. In the early days Macleod was a free and easy town, full of life and action, with everybody glad to welcome strangers and a really, truly pleasant place to loaf in. Fyom its location on the broad plains which stretched easterly away beyond one’s vision, could also be seen the grand old Rockies on the west, from Chief Mountain, a huge landmark at the international boundary, to the far away mountains to the north. Macleod was in its own distinctive class, and had many.of the adjuncts of civilization. It boasted an excellent newspaper, started in 1882 by my old friend Char he Wood, now Judge Wood, and good hotels, the principal one being the Macleod House, run by Harry Taylor, a noted character, who was generally known as “Kamouse.” I. G. Baker and Company, under the management of the Conrad Brothers, as fine personages as would be met anywhere; T. C. Power and Co., both enterprising mercantile firms from Benton, Montana, with the Hudson s Bay Co., supplied the community with the necessaries of life, and smaller stores were largely in evidence, one being run by my good old friend, John Brown, whose sign read “John Brown’s, Adventurer and Agitator,” and John was both, in a kindly sort of mild way. There were the Indian reserves of the Bloods and the Piegans within easy distance, with whom a large and profitable trade was done with furs, until the extinction of the buffalo in 1878 caused this to fall off to a mere nothing.
The Macleod district was then pre-eminently a ranching country, but as its agricultural possibilities became known, a number of farmers rushed in, and it was not long before grain elevators decorated the landscape.
Macleod revelled in the happy possession of a lot of live old-timers who made life anything but dreary and lonesome.
“Kamouse Taylor” was certainly a rare 'un. I first met him on a flying visit in 1885, when, in an absent-minded moment,
I carried away a serviette,—habit I have —and when I returned in January of the following year I brought it back and handed it to him. “George,” he said, “did you come all the way from Winnipeg to bring back that old rag?” Of course I audaciously said I did. He mused for a moment, then took me by the arm and pulled me toward the kitchen where there were as many as sixteen dusky hired ladies. “I want to introduce you to my wife,” he said, “we have had lots of things taken away from this dugout but I’ll be hanged if it isn’t the first time anything has been returned.” So into the kitchen we went, and he introduced me first to his wife as-a good old friend of his, and then waving his hand rather proudly said. “The others are my concubines.” Of course they weren’t, but that was “Kamouse’s” odd way of putting it. He first came to Macleod as a sort of missionary, found the field somewhat barren, and partly fell from grace. He first started a hotel, and then a school and furnished the schoolhouse himself.
While not exactly a politician, Kamouse had his likes and dislikes and positively refused Joe Martin accommodation because he was the father of the Manitoba School Act which abolished separate schools and the French language. Kamouse was neither a Catholic nor a French-Canadian. He was a truthful man, and when I complained of the high winds, which blew Charlie Wood’s little pet dog up against the C. P. R. water tank and held it there for three days, Kamouse retorted, “That’s nothing. The same day, I had my hotel sign freshly painted and it had not thoroughly dried, and I’ll be hanged if the blooming old wind didn't blow thelettering right over to the other side of the house.”
He entertained me at a little affair one evening, and as he had not a “permit”, the liquor was served in water pitchers. Buff Haney, Jack Downey, and several others were present, beside Kamouse, Charlie, the Indian agent from Regina, and myself, and when I noticed that all were on the floor except Kamouse, Charlie and myself, I enquired the reason why such things should happen in the early shank of the evening. “Why, Kamouse,” I protested, “we drank every time they did, and I am as sober as a judge.” “Yes, I know you did, and I know you are, but did you notice their drinks, clear up to the top; thought each one was the last they would get and they didn’t want to miss anything.”
Kamouse afterwards retired to a ranch several miles from Macleod, where I visited him. And now he has gone to his last rest, leaving behind him pleasant memories of his great kindness and thoughtfulness, concealed behind his uncouth language and habits.
One Saturday night, I was in the village barber shop awaiting my turn to be shaved. The other customers were largely cow-boys from the near-by ranches. Religion was the chief topic of conversation, and it had its defenders as well as its attackers, but the question was decisively settled as my turn to get into the chair came, when a burly cow-boy, amidst a volley of oaths, exclaimed ; “Well, I’ll be blankety blank condemned to blankety blank if ever I’ll live in a blankety blank place that hasn’t got a church steeple.”
Fred Pace was another character. He was a fine specimen of the British race, and he had a ranch a few miles from Macleod. He spent his time between the two places. Fred had a disagreement with the Indians, which resylted in his leg being broken. Before it had knitted some English sports visited his place to get some shooting.
“Just in time, boys, just in time. Fine day, bright as a dollar and sound as a bell”—a favorite expression of his. The party was made ready for the trip, when one of the visitors innocently asked Fred what they could expect to shoot. “Why, Indians of course, the best shooting in the world—I guess we’ll get a dozen of them to-night.” The visitors didn’t want to get scalped, so Fred told them to stay at the ranch, and as he really needed some light exercise he rode off alone, but fortunately for him—or the Indians—they had moved camp.
Fred always had money, although not so much sometimes after a night’s session. But that didn't worry him. I wandered into the Hudson’s Bay store one day and
saw a fine mountain goat-skin and on asking the price was told that it was $10— but that it belonged to Fred Pace and he had given orders not to sell it at any price. Why? Well, some tenderfoot had corne in and offered $5 for it, which peeved Fred. Meeting him on the street shortly after, I told him I would give him the price for his goat-skin, but he absolutely refused to sell at any figure. When I reached my home in Winnipeg, the lovely skin was there with Fred’s compliments. That’s the kind of man Fred was.
Bob Whitely kept a liquor warehouse, which was the rendezvous of the boys, and one night during the South African war the crowd became enthusiastically patriotic, raised a fund of $17 to wire to Czar Kruger, and warn hinrof what might happen. “We are cutting loose. You had better look out.” The cable never got further than the local telegraph office, but the boys all went home perfectly satisfied that they had scared the insides out of Oom Paul.
“Dewdney” was an Indian who was a sort of man-of-all-no-work around Charlie Wood’s house. Charlie Wood’s wife could talk Indian perfectly, and Dewdney, to whom I regularly sent circus and theatrical pictures, which he put up
against real stakes in gambling games, thought I was a whale of a fellow. When you promise an Indian anything he expects that particular gift and no substitute. So when my wife promised him a pipe and gave him some clothing and red handkerchiefs instead, he always referred to her as the “lying white woman who is the wife of the Great White Chief who owns the Iron Horse.” Dewdney vainly imagined I owned the C. P. R. Really I don’t.
Duncan Campbell was sheriff and at one time postmaster, and when Dewdney called for his mail, Duncan, who could also talk Indian, informed him that his correspondence was personally looked after by the Great White Mother across the Big Water. Whereat Dewdney put on style that would be a fashion plate for some of our idle loungers to follow.
The glamour and the romance of Macleod have departed, as they have gone from Winnipeg and other Western towns, for it’ssureas fate but the old has to give way to the new. It is the inexorable law of nature. But time and civilization have not changed Macleod’s chief pride—its climate, which is claimed by the unbiased Macleodites to be the fairest in the world, and, in the early days, no one would dare deny it.