FICTION

Cross-Country

# B.C. hopes to sell a railway # Alberta hunts for more gushers # Winnipeg plays 'musical chairs' # C.C.F. gets a rise out of Mitch # P.E.I. has a boom in Irish Moss

June 15 1942
FICTION

Cross-Country

# B.C. hopes to sell a railway # Alberta hunts for more gushers # Winnipeg plays 'musical chairs' # C.C.F. gets a rise out of Mitch # P.E.I. has a boom in Irish Moss

June 15 1942

Cross-Country

# B.C. hopes to sell a railway # Alberta hunts for more gushers # Winnipeg plays 'musical chairs' # C.C.F. gets a rise out of Mitch # P.E.I. has a boom in Irish Moss

British Columbia

BRITISH COLUMBIA taxpayers, reading about Uncle Sam’s troops cutting a wilderness road to Alaska through the northeast corner of their province, pounced with redoubled interest on news that the highway mightn’t be enough—that U.S. engineers were talking about a railroad to supplement Alaska’s supply line.

“The P.G.E.—” gasped everybody at once, “—just what Uncle Sam ordered!”

The Pacific Great Eastern Railway, B.C.’s most notorious white elephant, has been gobbling out of the tax bin for years. It starts at Squamish near Vancouver and goes snorting and climbing northeasterly through the mountains into the Cariboo to wind up all out

of puff 347 miles away at Quesnel. It was originally aimed at Prince George, on the C.N.R., but the tracks and the trains stop short at Quesnel, and cynics say the P.G.E. starts nowhere and ends nowhere.

B.C. took over the P.G.E. from the original promoters in 1918, has invested some $80,000,000 in it. Although heavy operating losses of the early years have gradually been reduced and a small operating profit shown more recently (due chiefly to traffic created by the Bridge River gold mines), sizable interest payments have added to the provincial tax bill.

Now wealthy U.S. railroad operators, represented by Vancouver lawyer Adam Smith Johnston, are said dickering to purchase the P.G.E., planning to build a Squamish-Vancouver link and push the road on from Quesnel through northern B.C. to the Yukon and Alaska. Premier John Hart reportedly had the railway deal on his agenda when he went to Ottawa in mid-May. But taxpayers kept their fingers crossed, in the past B.C. has tried to unload the P.G.E. on British interests, on the C.N.R. and C.P.R., but the hungry white elephant still keeps on stuffing itself at the public fodder bin. And it ain’t hay.

May figures showed that more than 9,000 Japanese had been moved inland from the coast and most British Columbians accepted news of the riot in the Vancouver Jap barracks calmly enough, considering it significant that

there had not been more trouble. Evacuation tally sheet’ 2,285 Japanese to road camps; 1,021 (chiefly women and children) to abandoned B.C. towns; 2,385 to Alberta and Manitoba sugar-beet fields; 316 in self-supporting locations; 252 in approved private employment; 226 in internment; 2,555 in temporary accommodation at Hastings Park, Vancouver. Virtually all Japanese were said removed from “vulnerable” coastal areas.

Yukon

SILVER boomed Mayo until the Yukon mining camp 150 miles east of Dawson became a thriving community. The Treadwell Yukon Corporation, largest silver operators in the district, built a power plant and piped electric light into Mayo homes. Housewives bought washing machines and electric toasters and enjoyed all the comforts of city life, except running water.

They didn’t mind that lack so much because they had made a town pet of old Eli, the horse that drew the water wagon from which Joe Longtin, a big, jovial six-footer of a French Canadian, supplied their daily needs winter and Rummer.

For twenty years Mayo silver mines were steady producers. Then last fall the Treadwell Yukon Corporation closed down operations.

Population began to dwindle. Recently the Corporation ordered the closing of the power plant. There was a scramble to buy gasoline lamps, candles, flatirons; old coal-oil lamps were unearthed from closets and polished up, the wicks trimmed. Housewives shook their heads sadly over toasters and washing machines doomed to go dead at the end of June. Even the Mayo General Hospital, supported chiefly by Yukon Treadwell, may have to close; anyway, the town has had no doctor since December.

Even big Joe Longtin was less jovial, leading old Eli around the water route rather than add to the horse’s load by riding the sleigh. Mifyo’s final blow came the day old Eli died. Joe Longtin abandoned his water route. Mayo’s only future seemed to be the nebulous one of a ghost town.

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Alberta

ALBERTA oil is in the news again.

1m.. For years one school of thought in Calgary, where almost everyone has his own idea on the subject, has contended that the Turner Valley wells had merely tapped a minor offshoot of the real “mother pool,” which they insisted lay to the north.

The producing field actually has expanded five or six miles northward during the past year. Now government geologists and the producers themselves are drilling test holes as far north as the summer resort and ranching district of Bragg Creek, just twenty-six miles southwest of Calgary. The spudding in of a dozen exploratory wells covers two and a half undeveloped townships and, should the drillers strike the big pool, optimists envisioned the sinking of 200 wells in the area. Turner Valley’s current annual production (about 10,000,000 barrels worth $14-15,000,000) might jump ahead of the Trinidad fields’ to become the largest in the Empire.

But there is another school of thought which believes that the entire area now being test-drilled is bone dry. When the Ace-2 “well,” nine miles north of the present production area, reached 8,200 feet with little prospect of oil depth closer than 13,000 feet and a better prospect of striking water first, the drillers gave up. Whereupon followers of the “dry north” school nodded wisely, and the “mother pool” crowd said stubbornly, “Wait and see.”

Saskatchewan

IF CLOSE co-operation between Army, Navy and Air Force is the secret of success in modern warfare, the time to prepare the warriors for collaboration is during training. That’s the belief shared by senior officers of the armed services in Regina—Brig. G. A. H. Trudeau, Lieut. Commander A. C. Ellison and Wing Commander E. G. Macpherson.

“A friendly feeling instilled now between the services will carry forward to the time they will be serving as partners on military operations,” declared Navy Commander Ellison, and the three agreed that their soldiers, sailors and airmen should be brought together on all possible occasions, official, social and sporting.

So first off, Regina’s new R.C.A.F. band went marching sociably over to visit No. 12 District Depot where they swapped tunes and harmonies with the Army hand. But the day was marred for the Army musicians by the discovery that the Air Force outfit lacked the traditional leopard skin in which to drape their base drummer.

The Depot squad well remembered their own blushing shame at having to go marching forth in public with an undraped drummer last fall, until Regina newspapermen awoke to their plight. Their plea for a leopard skin was orinted and broadcast from coast to coast, brought a wealth of

pelts from well-wishers everywhere —some tattered, some merely motheaten, some only reasonable facsimiles of the genuine article.

But among the lot were two splendid specimens and the Depot’s drummer saw no particular advan| tage in being able to change his spots. So a few days later the Army , band went booming off to return the Airmen’s visit and presented the I band in blue with the extra spotted pelt. The boys are all set for combined operations any day.

Manitoba

WINNIPEG police have scotched another war rumor. The story, said to have been told by a minister from a Winnipeg pulpit, went like j this: A woman had received a letter from her soldier son, captured with the Winnipeg Grenadiers at Hong ¡ Kong. The soldier said that he was j fine, that the Japs were giving their ¡ prisoners fair treatment; but he j suggested that his mother keep the stamp on his letter because someday it might be valuable. Removing the stamp she found a message in fine print: “Mother, they’ve cut off my tongue.”

The Winnipeg police department’s counterespionage squad pounced on the story. They knew no such letter could possibly have been received.

No mail had come through from Hong Kong, and letters from prisoners of war carry no stamps. They determined to track down the rumor to its source.

The preacher had got the story ; from his wife, who heard it from a member of their church, whose daughter had brought it home from the office. From friend to friend to the friend-of-a-friend along a rumor’s usual tortuous trail they followed in patient pursuit, until finally they questioned a high school boy. The student, an army cadet, said he had started the story to impress his girl friend.

Actually the story was widely current throughout the Dominion, j It was reported in Toronto within a few days of Hong Kong’s fall; was repeated in the Maritimes two months ago.

Some veterans recall that it had a good run during the last war—and it was as false then as it is now.

* * *

Winnipeg is so crowded that last May 1 moving day turned into a game of domestic musical chairs. After the annual reshuffling of homes and apartments six families found themselves, their goods and chattels, dumped in the middle of the street. ' The city provided temporary shelter in an empty apartment building which formerly accommodated families on relief and is now spending $20,000 to improve the premises. | Other families took refuge in vacant I stores which they are resignedly ! converting into living quarters for the

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Ontario

IT TAKES more than a tonsil operation to keep Ontario’s Premier Mitchell F. Hepburn silent when he has something to say. Recuperating on his St. Thomas farm he raised his voice to give it .as his opinion that Toronto no more needs the vacant legislature seats of High Park and Bellwoods ridings filled than it needs two mayors.

Mitch wasn’t just taking a crack at Toronto, though that wouldn’t be unheard of. It was the first rise the C.C.F. had got out of him since his abortive attempt to help elect Hon. Arthur Meighen and defeat the C.C.F.’s Joe Noseworthy in the federal by-election in York South. And the trouble was by-elections again—or the lack of them.

Including the two seats in Toronto, six Ontario provincial ridings are without members; the residents of five have been without representation for two years or more. The Ontario C.C.F., which has been girding up its loins for battle following the York South success, set out to make Mitch hold six by-elections. For a starter they went to court to apply for an order directing the Government to issue a writ for a contest in High Park.

Premier Hepburn, reaffirming his stand against wartime elections (“the peoplearesick and tired of elections”), said the Government wouldn’t even be represented in court, warned that “if the C.C.F. wants to force a general election . . . the C.C.F. will have to take the responsibility.”

E. B. “Ed” Jolliffe, recently elected Ontario C.C.F. leader (credited with direction of the Noseworthy campaign), is rated by some observers as just the type of give-and-take political fighter to square off with the fasttalking hard-fighting Mitch Hepburn.

“In suggesting that the C.C.F. would endeavor to force a general election, Premier Hepburn is drawing on his own imagination,” said Ed. Jolliffe. The young lawyer and exRhodes scholar insisted that the C.C.F. asked only representation for the electorate of the six vacant constituencies: “Premier Hepburn

should stick to the point, if he’s not afraid of it.”

When the C.C.F. appeared in court for the by-election writ Mr. Justice Plaxton expressed the opinion that the Attorney-General should be represented at the hearing and adjourned the case so that Mr. Conant could be served. To this Premier Hepburn politely acquiesced, “If the court directs that we should, we’ll be there.”

“Are you still not going to hold the by-elections?” a reporter asked. Said Mr. Hepburn cautiously, “We’ll see ...”

Quebec

FIVE YEARS ago Montreal’s city fathers had begun to plan for the celebration of the city’s tercentenary. But when the great day came on May 18, the celebration was overshadowed by war—a war brought suddenly close to home by the submarine sinking of two freighters

somewhere down the St. Lawrence.

News photographers were more excited about the arrival of survivors in Montreal than in the birthday festivities. Ahead lay the prospect of blackouts throughout the river region. After three hundred years the St. Lawrence mightn’t be much safer for passenger travel than in the days when Montreal was Ville Marie.

Perhaps much of the rest of Canada thought that the torpedoings would show Quebec that “it can happen here,” but if the Frenchlanguage press was any criterion the St. Lawrence sinkings appeared to accentuate the belief in many FrenchCanadian minds that a strong defense of Canada’s eastern shore is more important than “shipping men out of the country” (Quebec definition of conscription).

Quebec’s solid “No” vote remained the chief conversational topic down river. Blame is placed on political leaders of the past quarter century; on Ottawa’s lack of an educational campaign to show Quebec its own peril, and failure to instill “Canadianism” into Canada’s war policy. (Premier King’s own book of war speeches was given the English title, “Canada at Britain’s Side,” in French, Canada Et La Guerre).

Prince Edward Island

BIOLOGISTS call it chondrus

crispus. Fishermen along the shores of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island call it Irish moss. Long ago their wives discovered that the bright green marine growth that creeps down rock ledges from lowtide level to a depth of fifteen feet could be bleached, and from it obtained a substance called gelose which could be used to make a tasty blancmange.

Summer storms tear the Irish moss from the rocks and cast it up on shore in great quantities. There most of it used to rot until local fish and lobster packers discovered that gelose was good for more than making puddings—gelose in shoe polish adds a glossy finish, in shaving cream helps the barber give you a velvety lather, in brewing clarifies the ale, in ice cream making prevents the formation of crystals.

Last year N.S. and P.E.I. fishermen added to their hard-won income by collecting and drying 247,000 pounds of Irish moss which they sold at fifteen cents a pound (twenty if bleached). This year government authorities expect a sale of 500,000 pounds—say that if the harvest is

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good, twice that much may be marketed. Prince Edward Island produced all but 31,000 pounds of last year’s crop, which meant that P.E.I. fishermen gathered on the shores and raked from the rocks perhaps a million pounds, because four or five pounds of damp or wet moss makes only a pound when dried.

August is the big harvest month but the moss may be gathered from spring to fall and already the collectors are busy. This year more fishermen will likely be using longhandled rakes, manned from dories close to shore, to scrape the moss from its rockbed. Last year most of the moss was simply collected on the shore, but much of this may rot if not gathered quickly.

The moss is spread to dry in wire-bottomed trays in the sun ; again and again it must be immersed in salt water for proper bleaching, and the trays quickly stacked and covered in case of rain. Into the warehouses all summer long the harvesters will bring their crops; a fisherman with a truck may unload sixty dollars worth, children arriving with bundles of moss in their arms will depart happily with a quarter or fifty cents. In Irish moss, Prince Edward Island sees a new industry for low-income fisher families.

New Brunswick

CANNON crackers—loud as you want ’em—were okayed but the breathtaking thrill of skyrockets and Roman candles was ruled out for New Brunswick kiddies during twenty-fourth of May and Dominion Day celebrations by order of the province’s Civilian Volunteer Corps. Floodlit baseball diamonds, golf courses, etc., have also been banned. A.R.P. officials for the three maritime provinces held a Moncton i conference to agree on a uniform policy governing traffic control in event of a permanent coastal blackout—said by authorities to be a real prospect.

* * *

Moncton youngsters under sixteen must make a dash for home when the fire alarm sounds each summer evening at ten o’clock, starting July 1. The new curfew ruling says children must be off the streets at night unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian, and was adopted by Moncton council in response to representations by local women’s organization. The reason given by the women’s group leaders: “. . . not so much to protect the young girls of the city from the large number of servicemen stationed here, but more to protect them from themselves.” (In Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown enforced a 9.30 curfew for sixteen-year-olds and under. Lacking the company of an adult, Charlottetown juveniles may i be abroad after the fire bell’s ninestroke signal only if in possession of a written parental permit.)

Nova Scotia

OVERWHELMED in the wave of Maritime protests against his ; cutting the gasoline rationing unit

from five gallons to two gallons in the eastern provinces, Oil Controller Cottrelle probably didn’t even hear about the single boost that came his way. Sports Editor Lou Zwerling of the Halifax Chronicle nominated Controller Cottrelle honorary president of the Halifax Senior Baseball League — perhaps tank-dry Haligonian motorists, stuck at home week ends, would start patronizing the ball games.

But baseball enthusiasts were a minute if happy minority. Premier A. S. MacMillan’s hotly worded telegram to Ottawa cabinet ministers, declaring that Nova Scotia would refuse to accept the cut, expressed the burning hostility with which most Maritimers received the order.

Service station tanks in some parts of Nova Scotia went dry and station operators became local oil controllers apportioning their dwindling stock, half a unit per car, as motorists joined in a mad rush to try and get five gallons per coupon before the twenty - four - hour warning time elapsed.

Meanwhile commercial travellers suddenly found themselves in category A, under the dominion-wide reclassification. When the unit value was slashed most of them consigned their cars to the garage, planned to use a train or bus. One bus company came out with a big advertisement reminding disgruntled drivers that “Britons go by bus.” But the rest of Canada could still buy five gallons per coupon, and two-gallon Easterners didn’t like it a bit.

* * *

July 1 is the scheduled opening date for the new naval sailors’ club where sea-weary ratings may eat, read, relax—and have a quiet glass of beer. The last has been denied them since the license of the Ajax club was revoked, creating what threatened to become a minor national controversy.

Expressing keen appreciation of the good work done by the Ajax club sponsors, the Navy asked the Navy League of Canada to duplicate for naval men the popular Halifax Merchant Seamen’s club operated by the League in downtown Halifax. The new club is being rushed to completion on grounds of the Wanderers sporting club, destroyed by fire several years ago. Well removed from churches and residences, the Wanderers grounds is a pleasant, elm-bordered location for any club.

The Navy League hopes the new club will repeat the success of the Merchant Seamen’s home, opened last December at a cost of $300,000. The lads who risk their lives sailing the supply ships to Britain have been pouring into the Seamen’s club at the rate of 2,000 a day ever since. There is sleeping accommodation for 368 (600 in an emergency) and many a shipwrecked sailor has there found his first warm bed ashore.

The club has its own lounge, theatre, cafeteria, beer parlor, reading rooms, dormitories, showers, hospital and ambulance. Said to be the largest hostel of its type anywhere and playing host to Merchant Seamen of every nation, it is directed by Clifford N. Taylor, who heads a staff of ninety-two.

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