A Master Player in a Giants’ Game
If any doubt the ability of Canadians to handle the biggest positions with which this country can confront them, read this inspiring story of Beatty, the dynamic footballplaying president of the C.P.R., and holder of one of the biggest commercial jobs in the British Empire.
UPSTAIRS, at one of the busiest corners in Montreal, there is a private room owned and fitted up by a young business man who in former years was an athlete.
There is a handball court, rowing machine, gloves, and the simple paraphernalia of a modest gymnasium.
Almost every week night during the winter the steady thud of a ball against the walls attests that the quarters are in active use. Frequently, business men going home to
duuier see a couple of husky fellows in double
sweaters emerge from a side door, and swing off, with athletic strides, up Mount Royal. “Young chape tuning up for a game.” they say. and pass on.
They are right; for the elder of the two is engaged in one of the biggest games on earth a game played on three continents and on seven seas, in whieh the stakes are millions, great corporations the players, and the whole world on the grandstand.
On that great checkerboard trains are moved on 20.000 miles of track, messages despatched on 12.000 miles of wire, and thirty-three ships ply the oceans of the globe. It is a gruelling game, calling for the last pound of energy and the utmost skill and judgment on the part of those who direct it.
That is why E. W.
Beatty, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, keeps himself as scrupulously in condition as though he was still playing half-back for Varsity as he used to do. So he dutifully takes his ordere from “Pug," and sometimes “Pug” leads him over Mount Royal, and home in a perspiration as profuse as he ever got on the gridiron. Pug's call on the ’phone late in the afternoon is as mandatory as
the summons to council board, when Mr. Beatty was
junior counsel for hi3 company.
See President Beatty in his office, carefully groomed, suave, alert—the typical executive! At first glance he does not betray his training. But when he stands on the floor he instinctively poises on a pair of nimble and wellbalanced feet. There is just a suggestion of the pugilist’s crouch and of the fighter’s watchful glance in the level eyes. No superfluous flesh; every sinew like coiled steel. Simple living, abstemious habits, Spartan self-control—all play their part in the rigid discipline to which he subjects himself. So, in perfect command of himself, he exerts easy control over his great staff. “Just and generous” is the way they speak of him. “I have been with him nearly twenty years,” said one, “and I have never seen him ruffled.” He has cares that would often justify testiness, and would drive some men to distraction, but he is always equable, always good-tempered. He never “takes it out” on the staff. Temper, as well as physique, is trained to championship form.
He was only slightly past his fortieth year, when called to the presidency of the C.P.R., the greatest executive commercial position, probably, in the British Empire. A popular commentator at the time declared that his task was really a simple one, for a line of outstanding railway men had already solved most of the road’s problems, and had left Mr. Beatty the care, only,
of a well-oiled and well-tested machine. The New Ruler
THAT was a most superficial judgment. The fact was that the young ruler came to his railway throne with problems so new and so different from those of his predecessors that, able though they were, they mightwell have been baffled by the situation with which he was confronted.
When the popularity of the fair Esther in the court of King Ahasuerus created some apprehensions and waggings of heads in the ancient realm, her old kinsman, Mordecai, summed up his sage observations on the situation with the question: “Who knows
whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Now after seven or eight years of gruelling test, the board of the C.P.R. directors know probably better than others, that the age, nativity, training, temperament, and mental posture of
E. W. Beatty made his “coming to the kingdom for such a time as this,” a fortunate coincidence.
The Canadian Pacific has always been lucky in the qualifications of the successive chiefs who have handled its affairs. Stephen was a Scotsman, and, associated with Strathcona, was in close touch with, and in the confidence of, Old Country capitalists at a time when the financing of the road was a matter of constant and grave concern. Out of the tribulations of that period sprang the popular myth of a loaded revolver in the president’s desk, with its ready solution for problems when they became too heavy to bear. Van Horne, the successor of Stephen, brought to the construction of the road, a wide and invaluable experience
gained on this continent, where, alone, similar conditions had previously been encountered. He loved problems. He gloried in surmounting them. But when the line was an assured fact, he practically lost interest in it. Indeed, when that stage was reached he retired with the declaration that it had no longer any more interest to him than he derived from the clipping of coupons.
After him came Shaughnessy, with his genius for economical purchase, reflected in the extremely low cost at which extensions, and improvements were carried out, the low capitalization of the line and the large earnings available for maintenance and improvements.
All three had to overcome material obstacles. And while the idea of service was constantly increasing during the whole time, relationships with the people at large had barely outgrown “the-public-be-damned” phase, which an older generation of railway magnates had made famous.
It was fortunate for Beatty that the grosser tasks had been performed, when he took the helm in 1918. For he was suddenly projected into a condition which has faced no other railway executive in the world, one where, without the guidance of previous experience by any other system, he was forced to find and chart his own course. The previous year the government of Canada had been obliged to take over the first of several railway systems, and were already involuntarily launched into a great nation-owned transcontinental railway line in competition with the C.P.R. The war was still raging, and the latter road was advancing tens of millions of dollars to aid the Allies. At the same time, as the heaviest taxpayer in Canada, it was providing the largest quota of money to establish the credit of its new competitor.
Problems of the Times
“TV/ÏY BIG problem was our relations with the public,” -L’-l was Mr. Beatty’s instant answer when asked a question. “Those relations grew out of the new railway situation in Canada. The government took over part of its new system in 1917. I came to office in 1918, and my work opened concurrently with this new era.
“In the old days,” he added, “all railway companies were of the same origin, of the same form of administration, and had identical problems. The roads were operated as public utilities, but in the form of private enterprises. Those who were wise put service to the public above other considerations. Those who were not, put private interest first and more or less earned for all companies the reputation of being indifferent to the public interest.
“Generally speaking, when I took office we had reached a phase of evolution brought about by the necessity for greater harmony between the customers of the companies, and the companies themselves. This made railway executives realize that their difficulties and problems could not be appreciated unless explained, and that public support was absolutely essential if they were to be successful.
“The particular problem of the C.P.R. in 1917 was the fact that the government itself was forced to initiate policies which had for their end the projection of government into the railway situation as owners and operators of a huge system. Thus the C.P.R. came suddenly into juxtaposition and competition with its own government.
“And the position was aggravated by the fact that by financial support from the government, the C.P.R.’s competitor got into a much better physical condition to compete with it.”
While there should, fundamentally, be no difference in principle between the operation of a private and a publicowned railway, there are incidental differences due to the difference in shareholders. Mr. Beatty phrases it like this:
“The problem of government-owned railways has more aspects than that of a private owned system, even a huge one like ours.
“Government roads have a public and political significance. They represent government policies, and are therefore matters of political support or political opposition. There is more propaganda with a government road. It is bound to be more affected by sentimental and patriotic considerations. It doesn’t have to guard its credit, for its credit is merged with that of the nation itself. But the success of government ownership” (and here Mr. Beatty was careful to insert parenthetically, “if it ever has succeeded”) “has been due to the adoption of the same methods of administration, the same ambition to be of service, and the same expectation to receive the rewards of that service, that a privately owned institution does.”
In that brief outline Mr. Beatty hints at some of the perplexing situations in which, for eight years, he and his officers have been placed by the unprecedented railway situation which has been created in the Dominion by a period of inflation in railway construction, and the disastrous results which followed.
Training the Future Chief
AS THE first Canadian in the C.P.R. hierarchy, the ■ young president was well equipped for the task. He had qualities possessed possibly by no one else in the service. Shaughnessy, astute, and far-sighted, evidently sensed it before any one else. He foresaw that railway operation in Canada was about to assume a form in which psychological considerations would supersede material ones. He had some very successful traffic, operating, and construction lieutenants. Many people, unaware of the new situation, but basing their opinions on the practice of the past, forecast promotions in those directions.
But Shaughnessy thought otherwise. His own health was failing. His eyes were giving way. Severe hemorrhages were sapping his vitality. His medical advisers warned him to put his house in order. He appreciated the new day that was dawning. So he began to move his trusted young counsellor up into posts of executive responsibility and training. Five years from the time that A. C. Creelman brought him with him, fresh from Osgoode Hall, at a stipend of fifty dollars a month, which Mr. Creelman paid out of his own pocket, Beatty had become assistant solicitor. Four more years and he became general solicitor. In another three years Mr. Creelman, who had been general counsel, retired, and Mr. Beatty succeeded him.
The next year he became a vicepresident, in which capacity he served his probation for four years before the mantle of chieftain fell across his shoulders.
There were several other strong men on the executive of the railway at the time, and one of them Sir George Bury, who had proved a vigorous administrator with a genius for straightening out swiftly and effectively operating tangles, was regarded by many as Lord Shaughnessy’s inevitable successor. Doubtless Sir George had the same expectancy, for when the choice went elsewhere he resigned, though still retaining his friendly relations with his successful colleague.
During all this time there had been none of that forward-looking ambition, so dear to the pens of success writers. “It has sometimes been said that I had the ambition to climb to the top,” he declares, “but as a matter of fact it was not so. I simply went on from day to day doing my work just as well as I knew how, and accepting whatever duties came with them. If a boy does his work faithfully, he will not be neglected or overlooked by those for whom he is working. They know.”
I once asked Mr. Beatty if he was ever made conscious by
Lord Shaughnessy that the old chief had him in mind for the succession. “Not in the slightest,” he answered. “He talked to others of it, and they have since told me. But he himself did not do so.”
Even Mr. Beatty’s elevation to a vice-presidency necessarily carried no significance. As in all well administered dynasties, the Heir Apparent was being too well grounded in his duties and responsibilities to be reminded of approaching dignities.
A Look Into the Past
TN THE light of later events it is not difficult, now, to
appreciate the reasons which led Shaughnessy to depart from precedent and choose a legal officer as his successor. It is a course peculiar to this continent and finds conspicuous illustration in the case of Pres. Chas. Donnelly of the Northern Pacific and President Hale Holden of the Burlington line. It was especially wise for the Canadian road, which had surmounted its construction and operation difficulties in the main, and had highly competent men of long experience to deal with such contingencies as might arise. Railway administration runs in parallel, but quite distinct channels—freight and passenger traffic and operating. The men most eminent and successful in one often know little of the other. But the legal department is the clearing house of all, the one to which
all turn when in trouble, the switch station to which all converge, and whose scrutiny they must pass. The chief counsel of the C.P.R. had been forced, for years, to investigate and adjust every difficulty and tangle in which each department of the system became involved, and to master details so thoroughly in each that he might hold his own in the courts. Often these entanglements involved more than one department, and counsel therefore became familiar with the inter-relations of all branches.
All this experience the vicepresident had had. And so satisfactory had his wmrk been that, when Mr. Creelman retired, the company did the rather unusual thing of picking from wdthin the service an assistant, only thirtyfive years of age, for the larger task, instead of follow-ing the general practice of going outside and buying the advice of fameus counsel. In spite of this confidence on the part of the board, and of undoubted forensic abil-
ity, Mr. Beatty has not the strictly legal mind. If he had, he probably would never have qualified for his present post. His brother lawyers love to recall an apocryphal story of a labordisputeonthe line, many years ago, when the trouble having failed to yield to negotiation, one of the men said:
“We can’t settle this thing. Let’s get a lawyer.”
“Oh to hell with a lawyer,” said another. “Why not ask Eddy Beatty?”
The fact that he loved railroading more than law is evidenced in the fact that he accepted the post of general counsel at an age when so far as legal prospects are concerned, a more attractive field lay in private practice. Mr. Creelman, warm friend as he was, was strongly opposed to his protege seeking his career within the service. Many eminent counsel wrote him at the time, and while tendering their reluctant congratulations could not veil their regret that he had decided to “step down” from a career as a lawyer, to “go railroading.”
But the legal adviser of a railway is not made familiar with railway problems alone—he is also brought most intimately into touch with the public. And Beatty had the advantage of being a good mixer, and of being widely known and popular among the young generation of Canadians like himself, who were tackling the big jobs of the Dominion, when he took his on.
Perhaps Shaughnessy had less misgivings about Beatty’s youth than many others, because he himself had come to
the seat of authority w'hen little older than his successor. With him Beatty w^as never an experiment. And the shareholders soon came to share his confidence. For through the trying days in which the war ended, through the anxious years of reconstruction, when facing the competition of a great government-owned and government-financed competitor, the C.P.R. has continued steadily improving its rolling stock, and its service, extending its activities, and paying, steadily and consistently, a healthy dividend on its stock.
A Limb of the Family Tree
TRANSPORTATION is an inherited taste with the C.P.R. president. His father, Henry Beatty, a north of Ireland man, had come to Canada, and had taken the precaution to do two things that had a profound influence on his son’s life. One was to marry Harriet Powell, a Puritan girl, and the other was to seek his fortune in the gold diggings of Cariboo. Both proved fortunate. So did the investment of some of the Cariboo gold in the Beatty-Sarnia line controlled by his cousins. Here he became interested in shipping and it is an interesting coincidence that it was some of his steamers that carried rails and other supplies from Sarnia to Thunder Bay to help build the line over which his son was one day to preside. If Jim Hill had had his way, Beatty senior would have been associated with the Great Northern magnate in the initial construction work of the C.P.R. But the Sarnia man declined the invitation.
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The family home was at the canal town of Thorold, and there was much jubilation when the new president paid his first visit there after his elevation. There he was born, and the sentimental side of the young president’s nature is disclosed in the fact that though his parents are responsible for the fact that his middle and ongest name of Wentworth is that of an adjacent county to that in which he first saw he, himself has given continent-wide distinction to the name of Thorold, his birth-place, by bestowing it upon the fine private car which is his home whenever he tours the system.
It was at Thorold that he attended public school, afterwards passing through Harbord Collegiate, Upper Canada College, and Osgoode Hall into the offices of a firm that embraced some of the greatest legal lights of the day—McCarthy, Osier, Hoskin and Creelman. Through the transfer of the latter to the legal department of the railway the young barrister was brought to the C.P.R. service.
He was a valued member of Varsity football team, and had the reputation of
always playing a dependable game. It is common to attribute indifferent scholarship to athletes, but the fact remains that he kept enough industry for his studies to win two Governor-General’s medals. In those manly sports which call for determination, clean living and good temper, he continues to take the liveliest interest and there are few hockey or football matches of any importance that he misses during the season. He was, however, incurably mischievous and required some plain reproofs from anxious friends before submitting to scholastic regime.
Playing the Game of Life
HE HAS been one of the chief sponsors of the fine new home which the sport loving people of Montreal have provided for the cultivation and encouragement of athletics in that city. Though he takes a layman’s interest in the fine arts and is honorary president of the Mendelssohn choir in his own city, Mr. Beatty has a boy’s love of lively jazz, and the enthusiasm of a fan for vaudeville, its merriment, and its rollicking by-play.
There are vagrant suggestions of this characteristic even to-day, though he is now burdened with many cares. A whimsical suggestion of a smile will often creep to the lips and deepen the definite dimple in his chin, but is instantly suppressed, like a mischievous schoolboy sent scuttling to his task when caught in an incipient prank by the stern eye of the schoolmaster. It is probably just the Puritan mother, checking the merry paternal Irish instinct. The rakish, jaunty angle at which he wears his hat and which often gives him an air of insouciance, is also probably a family throw-back. At just such an angle, doubtless, Beatty, grandpere, carried his blackthorn to the fair at Coote Hill, County Cavan, as he trailed behind him the tails of his coat.
On one of his trips over the line some years ago, he was met by an old friend of the family, who remarked how strikingly the president resembled hisfather. “I have not his piercing eyes, nor his grey hair,” replied Mr. Beatty. One of the Company, an old officer of the road, quietly remarked: “Don’t worry; if you stay with your job a little while you will get grey hairs enough.”
He has. One of his assistants said the other day: “I think when he took office he was one of the youngest-looking of men for his years, and now I sometimes think he is one of the oldest.” But if his hair has blanched, there is no mark of fatigue, or care, on the alert figure. Fitness is written in every movement. Somehow it is as difficult to picture Mr. Beatty in slippers as Blücher in anything but jack-boots. He is great for discipline, not to preach alone but to practise. He knows how necessary it is to keep the railway keyed up, and how equally desirable that the human system be subjected to the same process. That explains his history and his handball. He is a constant reader of the first, and an assiduous exponent of the last. The two keep mind and body in trim. An active body; a trained and alert mind.
He has a reverence for achievement, and an almost filial respect for the work of Shaughnessy. That chief, and many of the other worthies who wrought in the earlier days of the road, look down from the walls that enclose his office. From his windows he gazes out over Canada’s greatest city, and the mighty river that typifies its past. Up that stream came Cartier and Champlain from the gulf; by it went La Verendrye and Mackenzie to the middle plains and the western sea. The C.P.R. follows the trail of them all. Intrepid explorer, and pioneer transcontinental railroad span and embody the romance of transportation in Canada.
THERE is more bustle in a small ticket office on a branch line of the C.P.R. than will be met in the office of the president. There are no clanging telephones, no buzzers, no hurried steps and feverish orders. A rare call on the ’phone, and a brief laconic reply. The unobtrusive entry of the secretary for a moment, a document silently proferred for scrutiny, a wordless nod—and messenger and document disappear. It is as though every last detail has been delegated to proper and efficient hands, and the head of the system was left free of care and worry. His desk is clear—except for his trusty pipe.
Mr. Beatty’s confidence in the ultimate success of Canada is based on his supreme belief in the enterprise of individuals and groups. “The C.P.R.,” he says, “is a typical example of an incorporated Canadian enterprise, but, except for its size, is the same as any other industry, manufacture or undertaking that men have conceived or put into execution in this country.” There were those who when the road was heavily subsidized by the nation, thought the endowment excessive. Yet to-day the railroad pays in federal taxes alone $2,500,000, and in combined federal, provincial and municipal taxes over $8,000,000 yearly. In the last five years the railway has contributed in taxes to these three sources, $31,000,000, or $6,000,000, more than the total cash subsidy of $25,000,000, originally received.
As Chancellor of McGill University of which Sir Arthur Currie is the president, Mr. Beatty gives a great deal of time and thought to the maintenance of a worthy and modern standard of the traditions of that famous seat of learning.
Learning he loves, though here he has i good advice: “Don’t confine your in-
terest,” he told some boys, “to one office or one kind of book.”
Recreations of a Simple Man
THOUGH of simple tastes and habits, the president gets all a boy’s enthusiasm out of a newly-furnished home, in the fine appointments in which he revels, and where he can indulge his liking for billiards. He has not a wide circle of intimates, but has a small group of cronies whom he loves to have about him when off duty, but he would just as leave entertain them in the simple log cabin which he has in the mountains as in his mansion on Pine Avenue.
He loves the dual enjoyment of a favorite author, and good music from the radio. He doesn’t want the wireless to talk. The cynical might find in that the explanation of why he is a bachelor. But then all his family eschew matrimony. His only brother, an eminent doctor in Toronto, is a bachelor, and lives with his only, (and unmarried) sister. “I guess we aren’t good enough looking to marry,” he laughs. So Canada’s best matrimonial catch remains uncaught. He perhaps thinks that the C.P.R. is sufficiently a mistress for any man.
This sonless man has a passion for boysHe is president of two institutions—the C.P.R., and the Boys’ Farm and Training School at Shawbridge. A friend suggests that he gets his money through his presidency of one, and spends it through his presidency of the other. Here he finds his hobby. The school registers about 175 boys, and includes not English-speaking lads only, but Russians, Chinese, Jews, Italians and South Americans. The institution is about forty miles from Montreal, in the foothills of the Laurentian mountains, about 600 feet above sea level. It is for the rehabilitation of the abnormal boy, where he is separated from bad companions and tobacco, and has regular hours, work, wholesome food, and sports mixed with drill. The lads are in groups in cottages under the care of married couples.
Mr. Beatty loves to talk to, and of, these boys. If he is asked why he is so fond of boys he will likely say, “Oh, I don’t know.
I have always been a kind of kid myself.” So on those week-ends that he is not flogging the mountain streams in old clothes, and with the same old pipe, he can generally be found at Shawbridge.
Neither bridge nor golf holds any attraction for him, though he is a member of the Royal Montreal Golf Club and often strolls in there. His heretical views on the game sometimes excite the resentment of devotees who demand why he joined the club if he scorns the pastime. And he replies, “Why, I joined to find out why anybody plays golf. It’s too deep for me. Why do they?”
It is a rather curious coincidence that the presidents of the two big rival railways of Canada are only tolerant of golf, but are both keen and experienced lovers of | the gridiron. Perhaps that is why, though brought into such frequent competition, j they so studiously “play the game” according to the good old sporting standards.
The Future of Canada
MR. BEATTY waits rather impatiently for more practical steps looking to that immigration which he regards as vital to the future of Canada. He estimates that the 600,000 Americans who came in during one year of the great trek brought in $60,000,000, in cash alone. “If Canada can support more than nine million people, then there ought to be more than nine million people to support Canada,” he declares.
Not Canada alone, but all the world is watching the outcome of the strangest and most puzzling situation in the history of railroading. Against him the young watchful chief of the greatest privateowned transportation system in the world finds ranged a state-owned road of over twenty thousand miles extent, with credits underwritten, and deficits paid by the nation. No one with an appreciation of the limits to which the resources of a young nation may be taxed believes that such a situation can be continued indefinitely. That is what makes the work and personality of E. W. Beatty of deep interest and significance to every taxpayer in the land.