Just a little of this and that about Canadians here and there
A Page About People
Just a little of this and that about Canadians here and there
TWENTY-FIVE years ago, an eighteen-year-old boy, James Garfield Gardiner, born on a farm near Exeter, Huron County, Ontario, bought a harvester’s excursion ticket over the Canadian Pacific Railway to Clearwater, Manitoba. He was small for his age, but wiry and muscular, and he could hold his own with any man at grain stooking, pitching hay or bucking straw. The hard work of a Western harvest held no terrors for him. Anyway, he was going to his uncle’s farm, and there he had determined to make the best use of his opportunities and add to his education, if there was any way for him to get back to school. He had never been beyond what now constitutes Grade VIII in Ontario, and he had two ambitions—secret ambitions, for this self-reliant youth had learned at an early age the wisdom of keeping his own counsel. His first ambition was to get a college education. His second was to take some share in the public life of the country, for he was intensely interested in the political history of Canada. The school History of Canada, which most school children found so dull, was to him more fascinating than any novel.
His cousins at Clearwater attended school in town, and, after harvesting and threshing was over, ‘Cousin Jimmy’ did the chores in the morning, then drove the children to school and resumed his own interrupted studies. Although he missed the fall term, he passed successfully the June examinations. He repeated the feat three times in succession, and in August, 1904, with a second class teacher’s certificate in his pocket, the present Premier of Sakatchewan first entered the province. The followingspringhe attended the Regina Normal school; entered Manitoba College after a year and a half of teaching, and graduated with honors in 1911, having distinguished himself in debate and oratory, as well as on the football field.
Gardiner’s outstanding achievements in college were on the platform. He had the distinction of winning the gold medal for oratory from all comers for all years. He led the debating team from his college in an international debate, and won easily. He delivered the valedictory address of his year. Shortly after graduating he became principal of the Lemberg Continuation School, and was a most successful teacher, hardly a pupil failing to pass the departmental examinations while Mr. Gardiner was principal. However, his keen interest in public affairs and his remarkable abilities as a platform orator brought his educational career to a close, for the ability with which the young teacher handled veteran opposition speakers in a series of joint meetings in the constituency, resulted in his being chosen as the Liberal candidate for a provincial by-election and, in 1913, ‘The Boy Orator’ became a member of the Saskatchewan Legislature, resigning as school principal and buying a farm which he has continued to operate since.
When Hon. C. A. Dunning, as Prime Minister of Saskatchewan, formed his first cabinet, in the spring of 1922, J. G. Gardiner, M.L.A., became the Hon. J. G. Gardiner, Minister of Highways, and Minister in charge
of the Bureau of Labor and Industries. And when Premier Dunning resigned to enter the MacKenzie King Government, Mr. Gardiner was chosen the leader of his party in the province, becoming the fourth premier of Saskatchewan. A hard worker from his boyhood, a trained student, a shrewd politician, an able administrator, cool and selfconfident, democratic, a hard hitter in political campaigns, but bearing no malice when the battle is over, Premier Gardiner is in the front rank among the provincial premiers of the Dominion.
Keeps Busy to Keep Young
OFFICER of the Land Surveyors Association of Quebec for thirty-eight consecutive years —that is a record of which Senator J. P. B. Casgrain reasonably may be proud. Recently he was reelected president of that body for another three-year term.
However, this happens to be only one branch of a prodigious worker’s activities, although land surveying was his first and most extended vocation. He was admitted as a provincial land surveyor in 1878, and three years later became a Dominion land surveyor. He has carried on that profession ever since, in spite of increasing responsibilities and investments in other directions.
At an age when most other men are throwing off business ties, Senator Casgrain decided to take an active interest in the strenuous profession of journalism. Already a director of Le Canada, the French morning newspaper in Montreal, he accepted the presidency of the Montreal Herald in 1922. The position is taken seriously. He dictates at least one editorial every day, and otherwise exercises close supervision
Senator Casgrain was appointed to the Senate in 1900 by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and he recalls with interest that the first intimation his household had of the honor was a telephone message from Lady Laurier.
Previous to his appointment, Senator Casgrain had had no previous parliamentary experience. His senatorial career has been marked by strong and unvarying hostility to government ownership of railways, and his three-day speech against the taking over of the Canadian Northern was an oratorical feat which is still talked about in Ottawa. Among his better known writings is a lengthy article on “The Problems of Transportation in Canada,” which appeared in 1910.
When the Empire Parliamentary Association was formed, Senator Casgrain was named one of the vicechairmen, and he has continued to display a deep interest in its work.
He was one of the Senate representatives to attend the Coronation of the King and Queen in June, 1911.
The Senator was gazetted honorary lieutenant-colonel of the 23rd Regiment in 1909. His interest in the militia, still keen, was no doubt inherited as several of his ancestors were army men. In fact, the first member of the family to come to Canada was Jean Baptiste Casgrain, an officer in the French army, who landed about the year 1750.
His father was P. B. Casgrain, K.C., at one time a member of Parliament (and for several years the only Liberal elected below Quebec), and author of a number of historical and political works,.
Senator Casgrain was the founder and first president of the Old Liberal Club of Montreal. He is a member of the Ottawa Improvement Association, and does much in hospital and other philanthropic work. His financial affiliations are many, and include a seat on the Montreal Tramways Board. For variety he is a director of the
Montreal Jockey Club. Apparently
he has discovered that the only certain way to keep youthful is to be extremely busy, for this many-sided Canadian looks at least twenty-five years younger than the age officially promulgated in ‘Who’s Who.’
Soldier, Journalist, Financier, and Politician
AT THE last international convention of the Knights - of Ye Round Table, Brigadier-General Victor W. Odium, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., of Vancouver, British Columbia, was elected international vice-president—the first Canadian to be so honored.
It is fitting that General Odium should be a leader among the knights, as he is a man of ideals, who has proved himself a leader in three distinct callings—the army, business and politics.
Seven-thirty a.m. most working days will find him in his office conferring with the editors of his daily newspaper, The Morning Star. Regularly at nine o’clock, he turns his attention to the affairs of the financial and insurance business which bears his name.
From then on, it is impossible to follow him unless you are a speed cop, for, in addition to his business affairs, he takes his duties as a Liberal member of the provincial Legislature very seriously. It is now two years since he was elected, but Odium is not what one would call an ardent politician. Usually, when the party is whooping it up at a mass meeting, he is to be found in his office figuring out the pros and cons of some issue regardless of party interest.
To believe a thing should be done, is to do it, with the General, as any veteran of the original 7th Battalion or 11th Brigade of the Canadian Expeditionary Force will tell you. ‘Pea Soup’ Odium he was privately called by all the boys ‘up the line,’ because he believed that pea soup was better for them than rum, and because he stopped their rum ration and had the field kitchens serve hot pea soup right in the front line.
He never asks a man to do anything he will not do himself, and many are the interesting stories told of his daring.
General Odium originated the modern system of trench raiding. For his services overseas, he was rewarded twice with the D.S.O.; he was mentioned seven times in dispatches, and received the coveted Order of Danilo. Incidently, he was a private in the Boer War.
Born at Cobourg, Ontario, in 1880, the son of Professor Odium, & well known philosopher, Victor Odium spent three years of his early childhood in Japan. He attended public schools in Ontario and British Columbia, and finished his education with a course in political science at the University of Toronto. He started his newspaper career as a reporter on the old Vancouver World. Ultimately, Odium and L. D. Taylor, who now is mayor of Vancouver, bought the World but, after a few years, Odium went to Winnipeg where he engaged in financial business. In 1911 he
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returned to make his permanent home in Vancouver. He went overseas in 1914 as second in command of the 7th and remained for the duration. When the war ended he went back to Vancouver and loaded himself down withenough interests for three men. Now the only opportunities he has for relaxation are the few hours he sleeps, and the
week-ends which he spends clearing brush on his summer home at Fisherman's Bay.
Premier’s Messenger for Thirty-Nine Years
ONE would credit the man who can successfully serve as official ‘buffer’ between seven premiers of Ontario and an exigent public, with possessing some of
the qualities on which the Vicar of Bray prided himself with such good cause. And yet Charles H. Chase, who has been prime minister’s messenger for thirty-nine years, confesses that on one occasion he was obliged to offer a challenge to physical encounter to no less a personage than the Hon. A. S. Hardy and that of all the officials under whom he has served, he has a sneaking regard for Sir James Whitney because, as he expresses it, “he was a man after my own heart, he said what he meant and said it once and for all.”
Mr. Chase was appointed by the late Sir Oliver Mowat, in 1886, and he proudly acknowledges that he was the nominee of the old Toronto Trades and Labor Council. “The position was then known as ‘private messenger to the premier,’ ” he recalls, “and when I was appointed to it that was about all I knew concerning it. However I found Sir Oliver Mowat one of the kindliest men I have ever had the good fortune to meet. At the start of my service to him he made me promise that I would attend no political gathering anywhere at any time. I consented to this and I have kept my word to this day. Sometimes I don’t think I have missed much.”
Among all the thousands of people who have wanted to see the various premiers he has served, Mr. Chase can recall only one dangerous individual. This was a man from the West who cherished the delusion that he was instrumental in putting the Hon. A. S. Hardy into power. This individual declared his intention of taking a shot at the premier when he had a thoroughly good opportunity, and Mr. Chase had a curtain placed across the window in the inside of the premier’s room in order to hide Mr. Hardy should the lunatic decide to take a pot-shot at him. It was a day of rejoicing for the premier’s messenger when relatives of this man arrived in Toronto and took him to a lunatic asyum where he died.
For Sir George Ross, who suffered from an ailment which frequently made him very lame, Mr. Chase was able to perform an unusual service. At the time Sir George was at Embro and his itinerary called for a speech at Niagara Falls. A horse and cutter had been chartered the night before, but both horse and driver failed to put in an appearance a few minutes before train time. Nothing daunted, Mr. Chase got hold of a friend, Archie Hislop, the member for Huron, and getting between the shafts himself, fhe two men pushed and pulled the lame premier to the station. In turn, Sir George insisted on placing his messenger ‘well within the champagne belt’ at the banquet which followed.
The busiest session Mr. Chase can remember was the one during the premiership of the Hon. A. S. Hardy when a great deal of bothersome liquor legislation was before the house and “more whiskey was floating around the House, supplied by lobbyists, than in all the other sessions put together.” It was after this session that Mr. Hardy resigned. Mr. Chase remember the premier saying to him, as they were riding in a carriage to the old Rossin House: “Chase, if I could control my temper and disposition I would give my right arm.”
Born in Rochester, N.Y., seventy-five years ago, Mr. Chase has served every premier of Ontario since Confederation with the exception of the Hon. John Sandfield Macdonald who presided over the first Administration, and Hon. Edward Blake who was premier for a few months before the advent of the Mowat Administration.
He has a truly remarkable memory for all things relating to Toronto and Torontonians and is much sought after by antiquarians. A number of his reminiscences of men and buildings were incorporated by Mr. Ross Robertson in his book ‘Landmarks of Toronto’ and anyone fortunate enough to get him yarning may learn much about the astonishing growth of the city of Toronto that cannot be found in books.
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