Cross Country

GENERAL ARTICLES April 15 1947

Cross Country

GENERAL ARTICLES April 15 1947

Cross Country

GENERAL ARTICLES

The Maritimes

THE snorting puffing steam locomotive, dear to the heart of every small boy, will soon be only a memory in Prince Edward Island. The Canadian National Railways has announced plans to change over completely its 286 miles of line in P.E.I. from steam to Diesel-electric power, and has placed orders for 20 Diesel locomotives. This will be the first CNR division to be completely Diesel-electrified. `l'he change is being made for three reasons costs, shortage of water, and the difficulty of getting coal to the island. The railway figures it can tve a quarter of the operating cost by switching to Diesels. It will la~ able to close down alL but two of the 19 water stations it maintains on the island, where fresh water in large quantities is sometimes scarce. `I'he switch will also relieve the overburdened island car ferry of the large shipments of locomotive fuel which has been delaying other traffic.

By now, the controversial Halifax teen-age radio show may have gone on the air—but it won’t have any live musical talent, amateur or union. And the American Federation of Musicians will have chalked up another victory — for what it’s worth.

It all began two months ago when the Halifax Tri-Teen Council, an organization of youth groups, announced a one-hour sustaining program over CHNS, a private station. Most of the show was to be a serious broadcast “to prove to grown-ups

also we could included do more was than a five-minute jump and jive.’’ musical But spot by teen-age unpaid nonunion musicians.

At this point James C. Petrillo’s American Federation of Musicians stepped into the picture. Its spokesman was Don Low, head of the Halifax local, and bandsman except during office hours, when he is cashier in the tax collections office at the city hall. Unless

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a union musician was hired as a “stand-in” for every nonunion musician on the program, he ruled, it could not go on the air. If it did go, then the musicians would strike against CHNS. (A stand-in is a musician who is paid whether he plays or not.)

“If amateur shows and other similar features are to take up this particular section of the radio program then people dependent on this for a living lose out,” Low explained.

In vain Don Dakin, chairman of the teen-agers’ radio committee, expostulated that there was no money involved in the program and that they didn’t want adults on it anyway. The AFM stood firm. The teen-agers offered four compromises—that the union and the Tri-Teen council sponsor the show jointly; that the union itself pay for the stand-ins; that complimentary union cards be issued to the youthful talent for one broadcast only; that the amateurs play only religious music. Still the union stood pat.

The teen-agers muttered about boycotting dances and putting the union musicians out of business. They appealed to Halifax civic leaders and service clubs for support. They circularized other youth groups across the Dominion. But they couldn’t find a way to make Petrillo’s men budge.

The upshot was that neither amateurs nor union men will play on the show. Instead it’ll have records, known in radio circles as “transcriptions.”

* * *

For 10 years Halifax and seven other Canadian ports have been controlled from Ottawa by the National Harbors Board. Halifax never liked the changeover from local management, and now it is fed up to the teeth. It wants a change.

The Board of Trade, the shipping interests and the labor unions are all in full cry for the scalp of the NHB. Their chief complaints: nothing has been done to modernize the port ; very little, if anything, has been done to bring business to Halifax.

The Port of Halifax Club was organized to battle remote control. It has

named a seven-man committee, headed by Hon. Harold Connolly, Minister of Industry in the provincial cabinet, to urge a better deal on port and railway authorities.

Gordon B. Isnor, Halifax M.P., wants Parliament to vote the National Harbors Board out of existence.

Cried Capt. James C. Cody, general secretary of the Halifax Trades and Labor Council, “Let’s abolish this farce. The old crowd (the pre-NHB harbor commission) went out and got business for the port but the National Harbors Board only takes money out and puts none back in. It’s like me getting my pay cheque and not paying my hills. I could get wealthy quick that way.”

Quebec

One of the most ambitious railway enterprises since the days of transcontinental construction is outlined in an application going before the present session of Parliament. The Hollinger interests are seeking a right-of-way almost 1,000 miles long, right across Quebec from the St. Lawrence on the south to Ungava Bay in the remote north. Part of the route of the proposed railway would be in Labrador, which belongs to Newfoundland.

At its 1946 session the Quebec Legislature granted exploration and mineral rights in 3,900 square miles of that area to the Hollinger North Shore Flxplora| tion Co., a subsidiary of Hollinger Gold Mines. The license runs to 1952, and is j renewable for two five-year periods, j Similar rights for development on the j Labrador side of the boundary were j obtained from Newfoundland.

There are believed to be rich iron J deposits in the Ungava region, and Hollinger is reported ready to spend ; $120 millions to develop its remote empire. The Quebec, North Shore and Labrador Railway Co. is part of its program. According to the charter j application it will start on the north j shore of the St. Lawrence between j Riviere Marguerite and Riviere Moisie, which are about 320 miles below Quebec, head northward through Quebec and Labrador to a point on the northern Labrador boundary near Ruth Lake, which would be base area for the proposed iron developments, then northwesterly to a suitable port to be

built on Ungava Bay. The railway asks the right to build terminals and docks, develop hydro power and operate steamers, hotels, motor lines and airlines.

Recently a TCA plane, on the daily Montreal to Britain run, carried a cargo that would raise an art connoisseur’s eyebrows. Part of the cargo was several bales of mink pelts valued at $4,500 a bale—but the outstanding item was a 16th century rug worth $45,000. It had been stored in Montreal since the Battle of Britain, and was among the last of the rare treasures to be repatriated.

Just how much refugee wealth was stored in Montreal during the war no one will ever know. The city became one of the biggest hideaways on the continent for valuables from across the Atlantic. At one time in 1942 jewels, bullion, paintings, furs and securities from Europe, valued at $200 millions, were supposed to have been on deposit with one insurance company alone. It has deep underground vaults which can be flooded on short notice. Some bullion from London reached Canada in a destroyer while the blitz was at its peak.

* * *

The controversy over fraternities in Canadian universities (see “What Price Frats?” Maclean’s, Jan. 15) came to a boil this spring at McGill when a candidate for the presidency of the student body ran on an open antifraternity platform.

The antifrat candidate was Michael Oliver, son of a prominent Westmount clergyman. He charged that fraternities had an undue influence on student elections and he campaigned vigorously against racial discrimination, with particular reference to the fraternities. His platform: bring fraternities under control of the student council.

The fraternities answered that, as private and separate bodies, they should not come under council control. As a counter to the charge of discrimination they threw part of the fraternity

vote to Edwrard Ballon, a Jewish candidate.

Oliver’s campaign was embarrassed by the unwelcome support of the campus Communists in the LPP Club. They rallied en masse to his organizational meetings and were taking an active part in his campaign until they were told they weren’t welcome. By this time, however, the antifrat movement had been labelled “red” and the harm had been done.

The upshot was that Ballon won the election by a handsome plurality and Oliver ran third in a field of four. His supporters say they’ll be back with the same platform next year, and point out that the unusually heavy vote showed they were justified in raising the issue.

Ontario

The law as it is expounded in detective stories took a beating in Ontario courts last month.

One precedent was the conviction of George Chambers of St. Catharines for the slaying of nine-year-old Marion Rusnak, although the body of the victim (the “corpus delicti” of the 25cent shockers) had never been found. The verdict has been appealed.

Item two was the release on bail of two men accused of murder. They were Donald MacLean and William Bohozuk, charged in the slaying of John Dick in Hamilton nearly a year ago and held in jail without trial since that time. Their cases have been repeatedly postponed while Mrs. Dick, accused of the same crime, has been convicted, granted a new trial and then acquitted. The Crown is now appealing her acquittal.

The third precedent-setting verdict ordered a Toronto broker to refund $5,479 to a Peterborough hotelkeeper for racing losses. Carried to its logical conclusion, this might mean that holders of pari-mutuel tickets on losing horses could demand their money back. The judge in this case ruled that betting on horse racing is a form of gambling and that the money paid out

had been for an illegal consideration and was recoverable under the Ontario Gaming Act. For precedent the court went back to English law under Charles II in 1664.

This verdict, too, has been appealed. * * *

Windsor, at the tip of the Ontario peninsula, has water on three sides but has no place to swim. Most of the Detroit River, which flows by its door, is condemned for bathing, and the Windsor citizen who wants a dip has to travel at least five miles beyond the city limits.

In his search for a city swimming hole Mayor Arthur J. Reaume thought he had found the ideal answer in Peche Island, which stands in the Detroit River where Lake St. Clair empties into it. The mayor discovered that the water on the Peche beaches was pure enough to drink.

Peche is a Canadian island, but it belongs to an American firm, the BobLo Excursion Co. Windsor city council offered $100,000 for the island. But then the city of Detroit began to take an interest, too. Even though Peche is on Canadian soil the Detroit Parks Commission would like to acquire it, and develop it like Belle Isle, a summer playground near the heart of their city.

If Peche is lost to the Americans it will grate Windsor feelings. Already Canadians are treated almost like foreigners on Bob-Lo, another Canadian island in the river which is owned by the excursion company. Although Bob-Lo (local corruption of Bois Blanc) is only a stone’s throw from Amherstburg, Ont., Canadians must take a steamer from Detroit to get there. On the island the carnival rides, dance hall and other concessions cater almost exclusively to Detroiters.

* * ♦

The famous song, “When You and I Were Young, Maggie,” and the story that goes with it, will be publicized this year as a Hamilton tourist attraction. George W. Johnson, who wrote the song, and Margaret Clarke, the girl to whom he wrote it, were both born near Binbrook, a village seven miles from Hamilton, and the foundation stones of the “creaking old mill” are still to be seen there.

Although the words in the song are

those of an old man speaking to his wife, Johnson actually wrote the song when he was 20, in 1857 or 1858, and it wasn’t until next year that he and his Maggie were married. She lived only a few years, and Johnson married twice more before his death in California at 80. He is buried in Hamilton with his third wife, who died in Dundas in 1941, 76 years after the death of Margaret Clarke.

The Prairies

How many caribou are there? No one knows for sure, and estimates have ranged as high as three millions, but this spring game officials in northern Manitoba are trying to take a census. When the massive milling herds gather for their spring migration northward to the barren lands, airplanes will be overhead photographing them and watchers in high towers will be counting them at their principal river crossings.

The census was decided on at a meeting of the Dominion-Manitoba Fur Advisory Board at The Pas in January, when game guardians reported numerous incidents of indiscriminate slaughter. Game officials fear that the caribou may become seriously depleted in the central Arctic, as they already have in the eastern Arctic, the Yukon and Alaska. This would be tragedy for the Eskimo and Indian tribes, which depend heavily on the caribou for food and clothing. Until the numbers of caribou in the central Arctic are more definitely known, killing them for dog food and for their tongues (a northern delicacy) has been forbidden.

The semiannual 600-mile migrations of the five great caribou herds are one of the spectacles of the north. The largest single known herd travels from Manitoba to the tundra and back again with the seasons. Early in April small groups assemble near the Burntwood River of northern Manitoba, trickling in from their scattered winter pastures. Soon there is an ambling river of caribou drifting northward, their millions of hooves clicking.

The herd is at its largest (about half a million, it is guessed) as it reaches the timber line. It drifts across the 60th parallel into the barren lands, moving slowly while the fawns are dropped. For a month or six weeks the caribou

scatter to enjoy the cool winds and freedom from flies on the tundra plains, then they reassemble and move south again.

As the caribou migrate, moving with them are the Arctic wolves, preying on the old and weak. Ahead are the hunters who intercept the herd at river crossings and lake barriers—Chipewyan Indians, inland Eskimos, the Paddlemuit Eskimos from Hudson Bay, and the white trader and trapper. The slaughter is fierce. Last year, for instance, 4,000 were killed at the tiny settlement of Oxford House, in northeastern Manitoba, alone

Sometimes the migration route is unaccountably changed, with tragic results for the hunters. Last fall the returning caribou trekked 100 miles off their usual path. This was disaster for those lying in wait. Food had to be flown to a small Eskimo band on Nueltin Lake, on the Manitoba-Territories border, and 34 Chip and Cree Indians died of measles and influenza at Lac du Brochet. The Indians had been weakened by hunger and exposed to disease in the settlements when they travelled south of their usual hunting grounds to intercept the wandering herds.

* * *

Two veterans of the RCAF Search and Rescue Unit have started in Edmonton a business believed unique on the North American continent. Owen Hargreaves, a 37-year-old New Zealander, and Jack Dick, 25, an Albertan, are prepared to make emergency parachute jumps anywhere. In case expert medical attention is desired an Edmonton doctor, who served with the paratroops, has affiliated himself with the firm, and he, too, is prepared to jump on order.

Because emergency calls for parachutists don’t come every day, Hargreaves and Dick have a bread-andbutter sideline which will make those calls even scarcer. They equip and advise travellers going into the north so that they’ll have no need to call a rescue squad. They haven’t been able to keep up with orders for their emergency kits, winter clothing, mosquito

nets, maps, snares for small game and a score of other kinds of northern gear. They have prepared a booklet for greenhorns going into the north for the first time.

The biggest job facing them at the time of writing was the salvaging of a light plane owned by an American which was forced down on a small clearing 150 miles northwest of Edmonton last summer. Hargreaves and Dick have undertaken to repair it and get it flown out.

British Columbia

For 30 years the provincial government, the Dominion, the city of Vancouver and some Indians have been wrangling over the ownership of the Kitsilano Indian Reserve, 80 valuable acres lying along False Creek between the business and residential districts. The dispute has at last been settled in a complicated three-way deal.

Some members of the Kitsilano band sold their property to the province when W. J. Bowser was premier. Ottawa maintained the Indians had no right to sell without departmental authority. Some other Indians of the band refused to recognize the sale.

Ottawa has finally agreed to pay the province $350,000 for the land. It will pay an additional $250,000 to Indians who insist they still have some claim to the property. Ottawa may make money on this deal, for it will reimburse itself by selling off 60 acres for industrial purposes and turn over the remaining 20 to Vancouver for $400,000.

* * *

Divorces in British Columbia last year reached an all-time high—2,004, nearly 700 more than the year before— according to figures released from Victoria. But for every divorce there were almost six marriages, a total of 11,618, up 28% from the previous year..

Most cheering figure for B. C., though, was the birth rate. It was the highest ever—21.98 per thousand population. At the same time the death rate dropped, giving the province a natural increase of almost 12,000 in the year. ★