WITH ALL DUE APOLOGIES to that city of the majestic mountain and the bustling St. Lawrence waterfront, a Montreal station platform offers bleak comfort in the early hours of a winter morning. Nevertheless, I must acknowledge that Montreal, city of the gay, never fails to provide something new in entertainment.
Stepping from a trans-Canada train for a breath of that fair city’s air before proceeding westward, I walked briskly toward the end of the platform, turned, retraced my steps three or four hundred feet in the direction of the train, and —froze in my tracks.
The temperature, while hovering somewhere near the zero mark, was not responsible. I had, without shadow of doubt, heard the hair-raising, breath-taking roar of a lion in search of prey. And apparently I was the prey !
HUMAN CURIOSITY is a strange force. Mine proved stronger than fright, for, when seconds passed and I still lived, I turned to discover that my first fear had been correct; there was a lion within fifteen feet of where I stood ! The lion was, thank goodness, in a private stateroom made specially for lions; and he was being rapidly swished across country on the same train as myself.
“Isn’t that a risky business?” I questioned the expressman in charge of the animal, thankful at the moment for any kind of conversation.
Grasping a generous chunk of blood-red meat in one hand, he laughed.
“Risky? It’s all in a day’s work," he assured me.
“You don’t mean to tell me you do this sort of thing regularly?" I insisted.
“Well, sir, take the English and Canadian zoos, for instance. They've an exchange plan, which means we’re seldom without at least one consignment one way or the other. Not always lions, of course. It may be anything from a swran to a snake, a rabbit to a racoon, a muskrat to a macaw, a baboon to a bull pup or a badger."
At this point the sight of the blood-red meat became too much for the lion and the hair-raising roar that had arrested my steps was repeated, to be
silenced by the “morsel" which the expressman thrust between the bars.
Until then it had not occurred to me that humans are not alone of importance to train crews. Until then I did not know that we share honors with lions. In fact, lions have the edge on us, for they merely roar and their needs are catered to, post haste.
Since making the acquaintance of my lion friend at Montreal, I have discovered many interesting facts about express companies in general and the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Express Companies in particular—facts which had never occurred to me, and which, I feel confident, never occur to the average person.
Coaxing Canaries to Sing
■AKE A SHIPMENT of canaries, for instance, billed over the Canadian Pacific Express from London, England, to Toronto. They were specially trained singers, extraordinary singers, so extraordinary fear was in the hearts of the express management that they would cease their song unless given the greatest care and attention. If the canaries could be coaxed to sing en route, their capabilities would not be impaired. Rising to the situation, the company hired a professional whistler from Billingsgate to cross the ocean as custodian of canaries, to warble to them conünually, to keep them in singing trim. As a result the canaries reached their destination still the extraordinary songsters they were when they left old London town.
The Canadian National Express, not so very long ago, shipped an entire menagerie from Toronto to England, with each animal, from skunk to sea J
lion and from monkey to moose, call/
ing for individual care. It was a ƒ
consignment expressmen will never forget. They are still talking about the time they had with a baboon that refused to “stay put."
A little Scotch terrier consigned
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from Aberdeen to Calgary presented express officials with a problem not dealt with in the book of rules and regulations. Hearing the call of the stork, the little terrier from Scotland arrived at Montreal with the finest family of seven ever born on land or sea. Here was a problem! The consignment “one Scotch terrier’’ became a consignment of “eight Scotch terriers.” While that meant nothing more than a choice bit of news for the two-legged passengers to chuckle over during dinner, to her ladyship and the expressmen it was a serious situation. That it was handled satisfactorily is indicated by the fact that the sea-born puppies were winners at a recent international show. And Mrs. Scotch Terrier is still doing well, thank you.
Snakes, insects, worms, apes, mountain lions, elephants, hounds and macaws are all listed in the receiving books. One company has handled 20,000 dogs in a year. At certain seasons baby chicks by the thousands are handled daily. And no excuses are accepted ' for delays. At times shipments are rerouted to give them speedy right-of-way. An express passenger recently was Anda, a lioness from the Royal Zoo at Dublin en route to Toronto accompanied by two veryhaughty geese. “The shipment was very quiet during the voyage and never lost a meal,” the report stated—something which probably could not be said for a few of the ship’s passengers.
Not long ago seventy-six muskrats were shipped to Southend-on-Sea, England, from Lindsay, Ontario—a journey of some 3,000 miles.
Silver foxes are among the aristocrats of the express car. More than 300 animals, worth $1.500 a pair, were included in one shipment from Prince Edward Island to the Royal Winter Fair at Toronto.
The Dog That Lost Its Tag
RACE horses constitute an important part of railway express business each year. The interior of a horse car is the last word in modem equipment.
Seals travelling from one point to another have to be “iced.” It’s all in the game of express service.
Or take fish—carried alive across Canada in special cars equipped with tanks in which the fish disport themselves and reach American markets as lively as when taken from their native waters. Or consider the handling of halibut and other popular table fish.
One imagines that such fish, whether from briny ocean or inland lake, are dumped into refrigerator cars and forgotten until destination is reached. No such thing! They must be kept at even temperature, never frozen, in order to be in prime condition for the consumer. Fish trains are of more than ordinary concern in railway express business.
Consider, for a moment, the case of Jingo, a bull pup crossing Canada with Vancouver as his destination. Jingo, with too much time on his hands, ate his tag in a spirit of fun when halfway across the continent. An expressman, however, happened to know a breeder of dogs who specialized in those of Jingo’s description, and in due time Jingo reached his destination, none the worse for having taken his unprescribed meal.
Shipments of Gold
AN EXPRESS COMPANY’S activities f\ are not by any means confined to the transportation of birds, bulls, bears and baboons. The carrying of gold and silver bullion from Canada’s mines is an important phase of its work.
During the World War more than $1,500,000,000 in gold was transported by express for the British Government. The landing of this amount of money during war time, the organization of an efficient system of protection and the maintenance of the utmost secrecy regarding the movements, was one of the most remarkable feats in the
history of express work. Not a single dollar's worth of the precious metal was lost. For example, one shipment from Asia valued at more than $96,000,000 arrived at the Pacific Coast on Japanese warships, was turned over to the express company and rushed across the Dominion on a special train having absolute right-of-way. Without lights, the train containing this precious shipment, protected by scores of armed guards, was speeded through cities, and the whole movement was shrouded in the utmost secrecy.
A $50,000 shipment of furs brought to Edmonton by plane from the Arctic Circle was met by express company’s trucks, rushed to the waiting train and, with great speed, to the New York market. This shipment marked the introduction of the airplane into Northern transportation business, making the dog sled and other methods obsolete and cutting travelling time from the Arctic to the East from weeks to a matter of hours.
Which brings to mind the fact that the distance between Montreal and India has been reduced to fifteen days by an express service and air transport arrangement, as compared with thirty days by ordinary surface transport. Karachi is now within thirteen days of Montreal. Canada is provided with air-express connections to everv important city in Europe and the Near East, while South and Central Africa are also being brought into the service.
In the Beginning
"THE HISTORY of express operations in I Canada takes one back to the days preceding the British North America Act and the confederation of the provinces; to the stage coach, the pony express and the steamboat; to early 1842, when Messrs. Pullen and Copp began the operation of express business between New York, Albany Trov and Saratoga Springs. In 1843 they connected at Albany and Troy with Virgil and Howard’s Express, which operated to Whitehall by stage, then by boat to Burlington and Plattsburg on Lake Champlain and to St. John’s, P.Q., on the Richelieu River, thence by stage to Laprairie, P.Q., and across the St. Lawrence to Montreal. «
In 1844, Cheney, Rice and Company operated a stage express from Boston to Montreal, later extending their operations to Toronto by stage “on runners” in the winter months and by steamer during the season of navigation. Which brings to mind the thought that they must have had real winters in the good old days and the fact that a Montreal-Toronto service on runners in winter nowadays would find it tough sledding.
A reference of interest to newspapermen is the fact that in 1849, prior to the laying of the Atlantic cable, a horse express service was established by the Associated Press between Halifax and Digbv, Nova Scotia, to transmit to New York with the “utmost dispatch” European news brought to Halifax by Cunard Line steamers. At Digby, connection was made by the drivers with the boat for Saint John, whence the news was telegraphed to New York. This service was maintained for several months until the Nova Scotia portion of the telegraph line was finished. It cost about $1.000 a trip.
From these and varied interests and the several amalgamations and mergers came the Canadian Express Company, parent organization of the Canadian National Express covering the Canadian National Railways with its 22,000 miles of lines from the Atlantic to the Pacific and reaching practically every important city and town in the Dominion and having world-wide connections. And with it are linked the names of pioneers in speedy transportation service who through the years have built what the present general manager, G. E. Bellerose, terms “the most efficient and fascinating business in the world.”
The growth of the Canadian Pacific Express Company dates from the humble beginning in 1882 of the Dominion Express Company, which commenced express transportation at Winnipeg over the lines being operated in the West at that time by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Half a dozen loyal and enthusiastic employees under W. S. Stout, with one horse and a secondhand wagon, enabled the company at that time to serve the Canadian public at seven small agencies. Mr. Stout and his few assistants had not only to move traffic but help create it. In those early days an express company was a free agent in naming rates, just as merchants still are in fixing the prices of their goods. In 1884 headquarters of the company were moved to Toronto.
Express Service Today
TODAY, the express transportation and financial services extend from coast to coast in Canada, to the United States and to the far distant corners of the world. In those early one-man days personal service was the keynote, and the same is true today of the world-wide organization. Mr. Stout, the first superintendent of the Dominion Express, is still with the company and occupies the position of chairman of the board of directors of what, since 1926, has been the Canadian Pacific Express Company. For many years he was president, but a few years ago was succeeded by T. E. McDonnell, an express executive who started his express career as a wagon boy.
Year by year, from the beginning, additions were made to the service. In 1895 a financial department was organized, adding a money order business to the company’s activities. Following this, foreign postal remittances—so much appreciated by those who do not understand our money system —payment of money by telegraph and cable, a money exchange and travellers’ cheques, were all additions to general operations.
The next time you receive a parcel in record time, don’t think that its speedy dispatch was an accident. Remember that it is the outcome of years of organization and reorganization; that the companies responsible for the service enjoyed today are the mature developments of the infant concerns that served Canada with stage coach, wagon and steamer.
And when you go travelling again amid all the luxury of modem railroad dining salons, parlor and lounge cars, don’t for a moment deceive yourself that you are the most important passenger aboard. Have a thought for the aristocrats of the express car; for Anda, the lioness who roars for her meal of blood-red meat and gets it; for Silversides, the seal who demands iced baths and gets them; for Jingo who eats his tag in a spirit of fun; and for the little terrier from Scotland who proudly turns to her family of prize-winning, sea-going pups and in her own way says, “They owe their health and beauty to the men who cared for us aboard. To some that may mean service, but to us it was a matter of life or death.”
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