THEY KNEW JOE BOYLE
FLORA ALEXANDER BOYLE
SINCE MY three articles on the life of my father, entitled "Who Was Joe Boyle?” appeared in Maclean's, letters have poured in from all parts of the world. I had no idea my story would reach so far. and it is gratifying to find that each letter has added information or confirmed some statement I made.
As I was writing historical facts, everything had to be checked before it was printed; nevertheless it gives me a very satisfied feeling to get letters from men who were actually with my father on many of his exploits in the Klondike and during the World War.
The little notes of human interest that have come to me have been amazing. I remember my father as a forceful, dominant power among men; and while I have many recollections of him playing just as hard as he worked, it is hard for me to picture him as a young lad playing boyish pranks. So, letters telling me of some of the things he did in his early school days have amused me greatly.
I would like to tell you of all the letters but, of course, this is impossible, so 1 have chosen a few showing the different reasons for the interest which people had in “Young Joe Boyle,” “Joe Boyle of the Klondike,” and "Colonel Joe Boyle of the Canadian, Russian and Roumanian armies.”
One letter, for instance, is from a man who, although he never saw my father, found the stories he heard of him from Queen Marie and other prominent Roumanians so astounding that he devoted precious space to him in a book on his travels in Hungary and the Balkan States.
Other letters tell of men who have been to luncheons at the royal palaces with Colonel Boyle, and still others go ^into detailed accounts of Joe Boyle's treatment of his ^employees in the Klondike and of his efforts to help young fellows start out on the right trail.
I've even had a woman come to me looking for her father, who went into the Klondike in the early days and whose last letter, dated Dawson City, Aug., 1901, told of Joe Boyle’s kindness to him, but stated that he had abused that kindness and had fallen down on his job and was going farther North. And that was the last they had heard from him.
But the complete letter from Herman H. Brown, of Port Maitland. Nova Scotia, bears repeating.
I believe, for it tells the story of the installation of the heaters in the intake ditch at the North Fork Power Plant in Dawson City. This has been a leading topic of conversation since my articles were published. The letter reads;
"Dear Miss Boyle:
“I was very interested in your articles in Maclean's. I was in the Yukon for a number of years, and while there was employed as an electrician, first with the Boyle Concessions and later with the Granville Mining Co., of which your father.
Colonel Boyle, was president and managing director.
“A particular item of interest to me was your reference to the Col. Boyle at
electric heaters which were put fi¡$ exploits in
in the ditch from the North Fork of the Klondike River to the
intake at the powerhouse. Colonel Boyle’s cable from I,ondon to Mr. Coots (the electrical engineer of the company) to operate the powerhouse all winter, caused some hurried consultations, and the heaters he suggested and which we improvised were certainly crude and were assembled from materials at hand, No. 8 iron wire, and half-inch iron bars for racks at the penstock. To our delight, they worked.
“We knew that any order which Colonel Boyle issued had to be fulfilled or something in the nature of a separation from the payroll would occur.
“If my memory serves me, these heaters were installed
in the winter of 1910, and I have often wondered if they were not the first electric heaters installed in connection with hydro operation.
“I was there when dredges 2, 3 and 4 w'ere constructed, and they were at that time the largest dredges in the world.
“Since the War I have been on other construction jobs, and have on different occasions met one or two of the old sourdoughs, and they refer with pleasure to the hydro camp at Bear Creek and the standard of living there. Colonel Boyle always insisted on the very best for his employees, and asked for results—and got them.
“Colonel Boyle and his son were called by his friends, Joe and Young Joe, and as long as the Klondike is remembered those names will be associated with its development.
“The last time I saw Colonel Boyle was at a hotel in Dindon, when he came from Roumania with the princesses as their guardian.
“When Dird Byng toured Canada, while GovernorGeneral. I met him in Yarmouth. Previous to his coming here, he had been in the Yukon and Dawson City, and we had a long talk about those places. He knew Colonel Boyle in England during the War and informed me of his death in England, which I was very, very sorry to hear.
“In my associations with him as an employee I ahvays knew that the results which he wished to attain and which sometimes seemed impossible, were eventually accomplished. It was things like this, his forcefulness of character and directness, which caused him to be admired and respected by his many employees in the Klondike.
“Of all the names connected with the discovery and development of the Klondike, Big Alec, Johannsen, Northrup, Bob Henderson. Carmac—Joe Boyle dominates them all.
“Hoping this may be of interest to you, I am,
“Yours very truly, Herman H. Brown.”
A Firm Friend
/ANOTHER letter, from George 4*H. Wallace, Chamonix, France, tells me he went to Dawson in 1899 at the age of eleven and that my father was one of his most admired friends. He says that at one time father offered to send him “out” to school, as he was concerned about the life he was leading, playing around the rivers and driving dog teams.
Then he tells a story typical of father. It seems that when he was a young man Mr. Wallace was quite a boxer, and in a match in Dawson in which he completed, he was getting a thorough pummelling when, between rounds, father pushed through the crowd to his corner and told him if he didn’t stop swinging his right instead of driving it straight he would be beaten, and if he was beaten father would promptly duplicate the treatment when the fight was over. Mr. Wallace took father’s advice, it seems, and won. And he ends the letter by saying: “He was a
first-class all-round human being, and I will always be proud of having called him my friend.”
A letter from George Bancroft Bums, whose address is Ottawa. Canada, says in part:
“I had the pleasure of knowing your father out in Dawson intimately. I was there from June, 1902, until Christmas, 1909. I was Territorial Secretary under the Dominion Government.
“Joe and I were brought in contact a great deal through the fact that he and I were two of the founders of the Dawson Amateur Athletic Association.”
And he continues:
“I know that Joe Boyle revolutionized the dredging methods out there by his new ideas. He was a great character. It seems such a tragedy that a man like that should be taken.
“Mrs. George Black, M.P., has often spoken to me of Joe over in Dindon. Her description of the reception given by the High Commissioner, Sir George Perley, for Queen Marie and how the Queen rushed down to almost embrace Joe, was most dramatic, and I’m sure it was not exaggerated.
“All the old Klondikers around Ottawa enjoyed your articles immensely.”
Then Henry Mace Payne, a consulting engineer and geologist of Hollywood, California, incorporates the following in a very interesting letter:
“I doubt if you’ll recall me, but I felt I must write you. I was with your father in 1912-1913 when he stopped ofï at Woodstock, Ontario, and we went into Dawson together. I worked with him on the design of the big dredges, and in 1913-1914 did the research work for him which led to abolishing steam thawing and getting into warm-water and later cold-water thawing.”
It seems that after that, at father’s suggestion, Mr. Payne went to the goldfields of the South Africa Group, with whom father was associated, and later he was with the Impierial Russian Government as consulting engineer. He
“Of course the War brought all these matters to an end, and while I was in military service I saw your father once in New York and again in Dindon, where we traded together at the Army and Navy stores.
“I had a letter from him shortly after the W7ar and before he passed on. It is stored in my files in New York, and I prize it very highly.
“Your father was a most interesting man and the firmest friend any man could have. In a radio talk a year ago, I told of some of our work in the Klondike and of his outfitting the Boyle Contingent.”
Still another letter comes from Jean Bruchési, the Under-Secretary of the Province of Quebec. This reads in part.
“I was greatly interested in reading the first of a series of three articles on the life of your father, Joe Boyle.
“WTien I was travelling in Roumania in 1929, I heard a great deal about the famous Joe Boyle. At that time I had the honor of lunching at Sinaia with Queen Marie, and her majesty feelingly recalled the memory of your father.
“A few days afterward, when I was about to leave Constanta for Constantinople, I met Mrs. Ethel Pantazzi. She gave me a lot of information about Joe Boyle, and a booklet in which she outlined the principal events of his adventurous life.
“Some two years later, I published a book on my trip through Poland and the Balkan States. About a hundred pages relate to Roumania. and I think that you may be interested in reading the translation of the end of a chapter in which I summarize Joe Boyle’s life.
“After reading your article in Maclean's Magazine, I realize that some of the details which I gave are inaccurate. However, I do not think that your father’s reputation will suffer therefrom. Of course I did not intend to write a biography of Joe Boyle, and had very little information to work on. What I wrote was inspired entirely by what Her Majesty Queen Marie, and Mrs. Pantazzi had told me.”
Mr. Bruchési enclosed thé translation from his book and, while in a few details it is not quite correct, still it is interesting reading and most flattering to my father.
There was a letter from Toronto saying:
“Having had the privilege of living with your father and Chas. Boyle in Dawson for two years, I have felt for a long time that some competent person should write the story of Canada's Greatest Adventurer. I read the first installment of your story with great interest, and wish to congratulate you. I am looking forward to your future articles.
“In addition to the books you mention that have reference to J. W. B., I have one titled ‘Go, Spy the Land,’ by Major Hill, D.S.O., who was associated with your father in Russia. This book goes into considerable detail about the carrying and delivering of the Roumanian crown jewels from Moscow to Roumania. the delivering of Russian refugees from the Bolsheviki and returning them to their homes.
“I was looking for a job in November, 1901. and Duff Pattullo referred me to your father. 1 saw him at the wharf and
on telling him who I was he exclaimed, ‘Little Hughie Rose! I remember your father in Knox Church, Woodstock. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for Hugh Rose’s son. I was the worst bovin your father’s Sunday School class.’ “He got me a job with A. N. C. Treadgold.
“Congratulations and best wishes, “Yours very truly.
Hugh A. Rose.”
I enjoyed reading that because it sounded just exactly as father would have said it. I’m sure Mr. Rose has remembered it word for word. Father never spared himself when the joke was on him.
Honored in Roumania
AND NOW, I must quote parts of a -*•letter I received from an elderly woman in Nova Scotia whose son went to Roumania. Her letter says:
“Your article in Maclean’s on the life of Joe Boyle, your father, greatly interested me, as my son, Charles Sutherland, was closely associated with him while in Roumania, and I am enclosing one of the many letters he wrote me while over there. His letters were almost a diary, as he gave an account of each day’s proceedings.”
The enclosed letter from Charles Sutherland to his mother, Mrs. Martha Sutherland, was some sixteen pages long, and was dated Paris, July 20, 1919. It began by giving a detailed account of his trip from Bucharest to Paris. Then it said:
“I believe I explained in my previous letter that Colonel Boyle had introduced me everywhere as one of his mission and a specialist on the railroad requirements of the country, and with this introduction I commenced work at the Ministry and with the railroad officials, trying to collect information on what they had in the country and what they actually needed. Fortunately for me, I found a Scotch chap in the railroad shops acting as an engineer, and was able to find out practically everything I wanted and made much better progress than I had anticipated, so after a few days work with him I began to see my return voyage in sight and mentioned this to the Colonel, but the latter would not hear anything of it.”
Then Mr. Sutherland goes on to say:
“He (Colonel Boyle) took me around everywhere as his principal assistant, and in this way I met some nice people. We were invited to dinner on June 28 at the home of one of Roumania's wealthiest men, a Colonel Bucelesco. He was one of the men whom Colonel Boyle rescued from the Bolshevik, and you cannot imagine how warmly we were received. They had several people in to dinner, and the house and the dinner itself were a dream and quite a surprise for me to find in Bucharest, particularly after the Germans had been through this way.
“We also had another family staying in Bucharest which was rescued by Colonel Boyle from the Bolshevik, a Russian princess and her husband and their children, and we saw a great deal of them and became great friends. She told me some of the most unbelievable stories of her treatment by the Bolshevik, but they are too long to write and I will tell you about them when I get home.”
Then Mr. Sutherland tells in detail how the Germans had damaged the furnaces in two of the royal palaces in Roumania, and how, in company with my father, court officials and prospective contractors, he visited the palaces and found the bids that had been submitted were much too high, so he condemned them and offered to get the furnaces from Canada for a fraction of the price the other contractors had given.
It’s hard to picture these Roumanian palaces being heated with Canadian equipment.
This same letter tells that peace was signed at Paris on a Saturday, and that on the following Sunday morning a special invitation came from the palace in Bucharest for the Canadian mission to attend a special service which was to be held in the cathedral. In describing this Mr. Sutherland says:
“1 was at first not anxious to go, but the Colonel insisted so I gave in. The other members drove there in one car. while we (Colonel Boyle and I) took a car to ourselves with two soldiers in front. The colonel was ‘plastered over’ with medals and carried his sword.
“We were the last car to pull up in front of the church before the arrival of the royal car. Ambassadors, ministers, generals, etc., were waiting on the steps, and there was a big guard with band, so you can imagine how interesting a sight it was.
“We took our places and waited for the king and queen, who arrived a few minutes later, and finally even-one crowded into this beautiful old cathedral.
“After the sen-ice the king inspected the guard of honor, and we all drove away again in great ceremony.
“That afternoon everyone went out to the horse races, where the King’s Cup was run, so Colonel Boyle and I went out, taking the two children of the Russian princess with us.
“I have already written you that the king and queen are very friendly with Colonel Boyle, and to show their appreciation of what the Canadian mission are doing they invited us all to lunch with them on July 1, Dominion Day. We drove up in state to the Palace Citroceni at 12.50, and were ushered into a waiting room, where we were joined by several ladies in waiting and court officials, and shortly after we were all told our places at the table. My place was at the queen’s right, and I found her so charming that I was quickly put at ease.
“The king sat directly opposite the queen and only three feet away, and Colonel Boyle opposite me. We did not have an elaborate lunch, but it was much the nicest we had in Roumania and was very gay, as they told stories and joked and laughed until they got us all doing it.
“Afterward we went back to the waiting room and I had a long serious talk to the queen for almost an hour and a half, and I learned more about the country than I had from all the others whom I had met in Roumania.”
I am very pleased that I had the oppor-
tunity of reading this letter, and I have heard from Mrs. Sutherland again. Her last letter says that her son, Charles, enjoyed my articles, but he didn’t think I had done my father justice; that he was a much greater man than I had pictured him to be.
There are many other letters that stand out. One from Sir George McLaren Brown, of Hamilton, tells me he was among the few Canadians at my father’s funeral. One from a woman in California, who says she was one of the first women in the Klondike and that father helped her start a laundry there. Another letter, sent directly to Colonel Maclean, tells of a little incident that occurred a year or two after the War, when father and two friends were invited to take breakfast with the Queen of Roumania, and another letter from Little Current, Ontario, encloses a clipping of the Toronto Globe, dated February 5, 1900. The clipping was a letter that paper had published, and was from my brother, Joe, Jr., then ten years old. Joe had written a poem and also had drawn a picture he wanted printed. And there was a letter from a woman who knew Ida May Burkholder, who had been my companion on a trip around the world.
Other letters came from friends and relatives I haven’t heard from in years, and still others from people who had never met my father but who had followed his adventures and admired him for the many things he did for Canada.
Until this experience I thought “fan” mail was limited to radio artists, but now I have learned that people are kind and thoughtful about writing their opinions of articles. We didn’t expect all these letters, and we are naturally delighted with them. They have been a very pleasant surprise, and Maclean s Magazine and I take this opportunity to thank you all.