Brickbats and Bouquets

May 1 1929

Brickbats and Bouquets

May 1 1929

Brickbats and Bouquets

We Who Get Slapped

Editor, MacLean’s:

For the second time I have read with regret and indignation articles in your magazine adversely criticizing Australia’s labor laws and conditions. It seems to me not the province of a country that resents criticism of its own institutions to offer criticisms, or to publish such of another, unless the other side of the case is also given. One would think from a recent article in your publication that Australia was a land of nothing but strikes and turmoil.

I lived some eighteen years in Australia and never as a grown man worked for as little as thirty-five cents an hour, but I have done so here in this country. I never earned as little as $65 a month in Australia, but I am earning that in this country. I never saw beggars daily begging dimes on the streets in Australia, but I have seen dozens since my arrival over here. I never heard of a man having to go to jail in Australia for no offense while a country and a city argued as to who should be responsible for his upkeep, but I have heard of it here. I know of no case in Australia where a family starved—the father being in jailwhile the various authorities endeavored to shunt the responsibility for their care on to one another. I know of such a case here in Canada, however.

I grant you that Australia is unionridden—too union-ridden unfortunately —but unions are almost absent here. What laws there are here regulating the hours and wages are away behind the times. Actually, a man with a family to support can earn as little as $65 a month.

Canada boasts of her prosperity—as a frog in a certain fable boasted of its size— but the prosperity is a superficial one only, and under the surface lies downright poverty. I have seen more misery in one year in Canada than I saw in eighteen years in Australia. This is not to say that Australia has no poverty, as one has only to go into such cities as Sydney or Melbourne in order to see it, but I do know that for a country with such vast resources as Canada has, there is too much poverty in evidence. Go look along the lake front of Toronto and you will see enough.

Australia is a country in the throes of a social experiment that began in the year 1890. One may offer criticism of it provided it is constructive, but one may not throw bricks at it. Neither Canada nor England can afford to sit aloof and sneer. England, heaven knows, is a sad enough case; and Canada yearns for population and is getting what?—swarms of foreigners who tramp about her industrial cities seeking work at thirty, thirty-five and thirty-eight cents an hour. I saw quite a lot of this while I was seeking work, and I am told of plants in this city that make a practice of employing foreigners at these rates. On such cheap labor big businesses are built.

I came to Canada to seek a dream and I found an illusion. I found Canada building big businesses but I did not find her building a high social system as Australia is trying to do. No, I found Canada throttled by commercialism. I do not condemn commercialism, I do not abuse big business, but I think the worker should share in the prosperity of his country. Does he in Canada? Yes, he gets thirty-five cents an hour and works fifty hours a week for it. Against progress there has always been a cry— Remember, sir, there was such a thing as a Combination Act in England not so many years ago. Let Australia experiment—Canada and England fear to, it seems—we experimented in a terrific war ten years ago with far more disastrous results. Yet if an atom of wisdom comes out of either we will have benefited. Canada is so fearful of experimenting that she refuses the right of free speech to her inhabitants. Doubtless I will be dubbed a red revolutionary because of what I say. Can a country that refuses the right of free speech be called progressive? Can a country where religious dissensions are perpetuated by societies, parades, separatist schools, and the like, be called progressive? Prosperous, if you will have it so, but not progressive. T see misery here, long hours of toil (as if toiling for bread was the sole purpose of life!) low wages, under-clothed people, filthy backstreets, creatures that are halt and lame on the streets, and air made obnoxious by the smoke of factories. Toronto is an amazing city with its loud-voiced rich and its cringing poor. So is Hamilton, so is Vancouver, so is Montreal. The prairies may be better and I may go and see.

The writer of the article I have mentioned writes disparagingly of conditions in Australia, but was it not Australia that was the first to give manhood and womanhood suffrage? Was it not the first country to grant old-age pensions? Was it not the first country to grant free compulsory education? Is it not the only land where a mother receives a bonus for each child born in the country, and where a political writer is obliged to sign his name to the article he publishes—a thing apparently that they do not have to do in this country?

Finally, sir, lest you conclude otherwise, let me state that I am not an Australian, nor a foreigner, nor a member of any political or religious organization, nor a born agitator. I am a believer in God and Christ, and a follower of Thomas Paine and John Stuart Mill.—H. Lissett, Toronto.

But This Disagrees With the Above

Editor, MacLean’s:

It was with great pleasure that I read some time ago the articles on our “Population Problem” by E. C. Drury. The population problem seems to be a factor in all the British Dominions. I would go a little further and study the problems outside of this Dominion in comparison with New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand has had no increase in population for many years. In fact, to-day they do not want any immigrants. The Government has been compelled to give financial assistance to the unemployed. What are the causes of these conditions? If you ask any manufacturer, farmer, or any other business man for the reason, he will tell you that progress is simply being hindered by all the legislation, regulation, and meddling that are being tried out by the Government.

New Zealand has a population of about one and a quarter million of people, and to supervise this small population New Zealand has 82,000 Government officials. That is one to every fifteen of population.

A person is permitted to go into business, invest his money, but he is not permitted to run it. There are Government officials to tell him what to do, and what not to do. That applies to all kinds of business.

Australia is ahead of all other countries in this meddling business, labor runs the country; strikes occur daily, wages may change every other day, business and manufacturers cannot make estimates ahead of time. Government officials work only about forty hours a week, other labor about forty-four hours, and all have adopted the go-slow schedule.

The Government has tried to nationalize every known industry going. What is the result of all this meddling? Has it improved the conditions of the workers, farmers, etc. It has not. Most of the ventures have been absolute failures. Has the Government put a stop to this extravagance? It has not. It io still adopting new schemes.

It is my belief that all this meddling business of Governments into business is one of the reasons why populations are not increasing, and this applies to the Dominion of Canada as well. While we are not up in meddling compared with New Zealand and Australia, we are well on the way.—Geo. Nielsen, Toronto, Ont.

A Breeze From the West

Editor, MacLean’s:

It is very satisfactory to see at least one Canadian magazine making a most creditable showing. We need them badly. MacLean’s, I would say, is filling a long— very long— felt want. Give the West the publicity it merits—not too much Ontario. Also it is to be hoped there are few Canadians in our country who have the humiliating attitude of your contributor, Hon. Mr. Drury. I refer to his articles on the St. Lawrence Waterway. We want our people to show backbone, and quit this everlasting “we must be on cordial relations with our great neighbor to the South, etc., etc.” Our great neighbor to the South doesn’t care a fig for cordial relations. Business comes first with him, as you know. That stuff is a disgrace to the great and hardy men who were our forefathers, the redoubtable pioneers. —Frank W. Teague, Victoria, B.C.

There’s An Editorial, Too

Editor, MacLean’s:

I have been a subscriber to Ma.cLean’s for six or seven years, and am greatly interested in it. The Brickbats and Bouquets are very interesting, but I would prefer a good editorial. It certainly is refreshing to read Major Drew’s articles and my only regret is that every Canadian boy is not having the opportunity of reading these articles. You have made great progress and are to be congratulated on the splendid articles you are giving us in every issue.

I have only one criticism to offer regarding “To Love and to Cherish.” It was too long for a magazine story. Like myself, I am sure every subscriber is proud of our National Magazine. It would be cheap at triple the price. —E.A.B., Lewvan, Sask.

Thank You

Editor, MacLean’s:

I wish to congratulate you on the splendid success you are making of MacLean’s. It is a magazine of which all Canadians may justly be proud. In my opinion, it is one of the most potent factors we have in our country to-day for the building up of a virile sense of Canadian nationhood, and as such is deserving of our strongest support.—A.C., Three Hills, Alta.

The War Paintings

Editor, MacLean's:

Please permit me to congratulate you on service you are rendering humanity by publishing those vivid articles about the war.

I am convinced that nothing will go farther toward outlawing war in this world than giving publicity to the horrible details of the last conflict. To my way of thinking, the painting entitled “Artillery in Action” will go a long way to that end.—Helgi Jakobsson, Arborg, Man.

Those Hairy Giants

Editor, MacLean’s:

Congratulations on your story on B.C.’s hairy giants, a subject which has interested me for three or four years. Last spring I ran a story in the magazine section of The Sunday Province about the possible existence of these weird people.

In the Real American, a weekly published at Hoquiam, Wash., by Indians, several issues in 1924 featured stories about the existence of hairy giants about Mount St. Helens, Ore., and in the wild interior of Vancouver Island.

Having heard of giants in the mountains, these articles interested me greatly, and, recalling that such were frequently mentioned in the native legends of Vancouver Island, I secured the services of Jason 0. Allard, who speaks the Cowichan tongue, and last spring we went among the Cowichan people in an endeavor to discover something tangible. Unfortunately, those whom we were informed might know of the giants were absent at the time. The old chief was nearing the end of his life—and died a few weeks later—and his mind was not as virile as formerly.

We did, however, obtain sufficient information to warrant further investigations, and this we propose to follow up this year if opportunity offers.

I wrote a story on my return to Vancouver, and while it did not contain the definite statements that your fine article includes, it indicated that there exists in British Columbia a real ethnological problem.

I am prepared to accept the Indians’ stories of these giants, as they are so widely scattered and yet so similar in their descriptions of the hairy giants—at least until it is definitely proven that the wild men do not exist.

My information is that these giants are possessed of mesmeric powers, and I came across a white man, an old sealing skipper, who claimed that he had encountered natives with hypnotic gifts.—B. A. McKelvie, Vancouver, B.C.


Editor, MacLean’s:

I believe that Canadian literature, as such, is on the upward grade; and I believe that a fair proportion of this desirable development is to be credited to MacLean’s Magazine and to the encouragement and opportunity it has offered to native authors. There is no doubt that MacLean’s is improving from year to year and has many talented contributors both in its serious and lighter sections. Hon. ex-Premier Drury is conspicuous among the first; his articles denote a sound constructive judgment, a thorough knowledge of his subject and a command of words that makes them pleasurably readable. One wonders if the publicist in him does not surpass the statesman, but this is not to depreciate his political activities. Among the romancists my favorite is Frederick Balmer Watt, of Edmonton; his stories are very successful and give promise of greater success to come; he has a creative grain, his conceptions have the rare merit of originality, he owes no tribute or inspiration to Sherlock Holmes or the Prisoner of Zen da; and he writes charming and perfect English, he uses no slang, no jazz, his heroine’s fingers are not stained with tobacco juice, nor do their admiring swains affect the manners of unlicked hooligans. If you have not read some of his recent stories like the “Sword of Fury” and “Friday Night” you have missed a treat. He is still in his twenties and I expect great things of him. There are others but this is long enough, and MacLean’s is at everyone’s disposal. —H.D., in The Observer, Vegreville, Alta.