General Articles

Cross Country

May 15 1948
General Articles

Cross Country

May 15 1948

Cross Country


IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, defaulting debtors can still be sent to prison. And, if they know their rights, they can demand to be served with free beer. But rights or no rights, they’re unlikely to get it.

Nevertheless, the free-beer clause still stands in an old law adopted by the crown colony of British Columbia in 1858 from an even earlier British statute of 1759. Under this law, debtors who have incurred their debt through fraud, or who are concealing their assets, or who are about to flee B. C. to avoid paying up, may be sent to prison for as long as a year. About a dozen persons a year are convicted; most of the sentences are from seven to 10 days.

The act says in'1 part: “Every sheriff, bailiff, jailer or keeper . . . shall at all times permit and suffer every such person, during his continuance under arrest or in custody, at his free will and pleasure, to send for and have brought to him at seasonable times, in the daytime, any beer, ale, victuals, or other necessary food . . .” And none of these things shall cost the prisoner a cent.

According to Sheriff Moodie of Vancouver, no prisoner has ever asked for beer, much less got it. And Warden John Millman of Oakalla Prison says the prison’s own rules against liquor override this particular law.

* * *

In a tiny downtown Vancouver store converted into living quarters, Mrs. Ellen Neel, an attractive young Indian woman, keeps house for her tinsmith husband, her six children and manages to find enough time for an unusual part-time occupation. She carves totem poles.

Mrs. Neel is probably the only woman totempole carver in the world. She makes them to order, custom-built. “But,” she says, “it’s much easier to make them up to my own design than to copy existing totems.”

One of her recent works, a brilliant nine-foot pole, went on display Continued on pape 7H

Continued from page 14

at, the University of British Columbia. “It took me six weeks of steady chipping at a white pine log with an adz,” she said. “And then there’s all the carving and sandpapering and the final painting.”

* * *

America’s loneliest turnpike, the Alaska Highway, will have a touch of gasoline-age civilization. The Department of National Defense has given permission to an Edmonton sign painter to dot the roadside from Dawson Creek, B.C., to the Alaska border with 2,400 signs. They’ll point the way to tourist camps, garages and good hunting and fishing. They’ll be financed by the advertising on the signs.


Over protests from many quarters » including a resolution of the Alberta legislature, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has approved the application for the erection of a French language station in Edmonton. If the Department of Transport concurs with the CBC recommendation and issues a license, the Edmonton area will have five stations.

Premier Manning was stoutly opposed to the station. He called the CBC’8 action “a flagrant violation of the democratic rights of the people of Alberta.” Other opponents of the station argued that the French Canadians were the smallest minority in the province and should not claim the right to a station of their own. According to these figures, Alberta has about 43,000 French-speaking residents, as against 77,000 Germans, 72,000 Ukrainians and 63,000 Scandinavians.

* * *

In 1942 there were one and three quarter million horses on the prairies; one province, Saskatchewan, had almost as many horses as people. Since then the horse population has dropped 28' ; , leading Hardy Salter of Calgary, president of the Alberta Horse Breeders’ Association, to predict the greatest horse shortage in Canada’s history. The West will always need farm horses, he said, even though mechanization becomes widespread.

One reason for the decline in numbers has been the demand for horse meat in European countries. In the past year 100,000 horses have been slaughtered and canned in packing houses at Edmonton and Saskatoon for export. Another 11,000 have been shipped on the hoof to Belgium and the United States for meat purposes.

* * *

When the medicine diagnostic unit at Dauphin, Man., the first of its kind in Canada, cast up its books at the end of 11 months of operation, the 15,000 residents of the district felt they had had their money’s worth. For X-ray and laboratory service which would have cost them more than $15,000, even had it been available. their total outlay had been only $4,667— a saving of $1,000 a month in diagnostic fees.

The unit is located for the time being in the Dauphin General Hospital.

It operates this way: Any resident of the four municipalities which help pay for it can pick up a diagnostic card at his municipal office when he pays his taxes or utility hills. Then, if he gets sick, and his doctor decides he needs j X-rays or laboratory tests, the patient 1 goes to the Diagnostic Unit, presents j his card and has the tests done for

nothing. There’s a nominal fee for X-ray plates—$1 for the first and 50 cents for each subsequent plate—but no charge for lab tests. An expert radiologist visits the unit twice a week to read the X-ray plates and consult with local doctors.

The provincial Government and the municipalities share the expenses, the former paying two thirds. For the first year per capita costs were estimated to be 50 cents. This turned out to be too low; actual costs were 77 cents a person, with the Government paying 51 cents and the municipalities 26 cents. Even at this rate the service will be a bargain, especially since patients can now get tests that they would formerly have had to travel 212 miles to Winnipeg to obtain.


Here’s a new explanation of increasing traffic accidents—the five-day week. According to Charles J. Lytle, traffic inspector of the Toronto Police Department, the short work week is “almost wholly responsible” for the rise in the city’s accident and death rate.

“The need to crowd a full week’s work into five days has promoted a speeding up of traffic,” said the inspector. “Drivers try to beat the traffic lights and commit other infractions of the rules.”

* * *

Outsiders reading the yearbook of Devonshire Public School, Ottawa, rubbed their eyes. There, in a picture, were a grave group of 13-year-olds, identified as boys from grade eight, mixing batter in a home economics class. And they seemed to be enjoying it. What’s more, it appeared that the grade eight girls were taking metalwork.

Dr. McGregor Easson, chief inspector of Ottawa public schools, explained that the switch had been made in Devonshire and Kent schools last autumn as an experiment. Boys who wanted to try their hands as cooks were given a chance to take home ec; girls who wanted to try metalwork were turned loose in the workshops. Some children take both classes and others were so interested in their new subjects that they continued them through to

the end bí the year. Ottawa hopes'do extend the idea to every public school in the city.

* * *

Don’t sneer at the stupid porcupine —it has more good points than any other animal. So said Prof. Albert R. Shadie of Buffalo, N.Y., who spoke at the recent annual convention of the American Society of Mammalogists in Toronto.

Prof. Shadie claimed to be the only man who has succeeded in raising porcupines in captivity. He makes pets of them and even talks to them in their own language—“a low whine.” “Don’t let anyone tell you porcupines are dumb,” he said. “They are clever, learn quickly, have good memories. They answer to their names and come when they are called.” The males are more talkative than the females, but not as easily trained. All respond well to a meal of bread crumbs or dog food and greet their trainer by clicking their teeth.

But what about quills? Sure, he gets them, Prof. Shadie admitted, but a few here and there won’t hurt anybody. He pulls them out with pliers every day.


The boiler room of McGill University was recently the scene of a monthslong piece of research of interest to flying tea drinkers. The problem: how to make sure that tea could be made and served safely on airliners winging over the Atlantic at 20,000 feet and higher. The investigators were the British Overseas Airways Corporation.

BOAC pressurizes its cabins to maintain an atmospheric pressure inside them equivalent to that at 8,000 feet. At this pressure a kettle would boil on the galley stove at 197 degrees Fahrenheit (instead of at 212 degrees, as at ground level). But suppose a plane were flying at 30,000 feet and an astrodome blew out or some other mishap punctured the wall of the cabin. Pressure inside would drop from 10.9 pounds per square inch to 4.3. At this pressure water boils at 160 degrees. The water simmering in the galley kettle would erupt all at once into a cloud of steam and scald anyone near it.

Three BOAC technicians, in the McGill boiler room working with a pressure chamber used by the Air Force during the war, devised an airgoing kettle that could stand a pressure drop from 8,000 feet to 50,000 feet without blowing its top.

Their solution was an overflow tank attached to the kettle by tubing. If the kettle blows, now, at four o’clock, mid-Atlantic time, the tank will get the steam, not the steward making tea.

* * *

Dr. A. J. G. Hood, superintendent of food inspection for Montreal, is horrified L>y the waste in that city. About a million pounds are thrown out every day, he estimates.

Big offenders, according to Dr. Hood, are merchants who allow food to spoil in storage instead of selling it at reduced prices or giving it away to the poor. But diners at home or in restaurants are blamed, too. The average eater, says Dr. Hood, orders too much . . . “Whole slices of bread are left on plates . . . and in some cases where two chops are ordered, only one is eaten.”

* * *

Henry Hildebrand, a young zoology student at McGill University in Montreal, has been appointed a one-man relief mission to the Eskimos around Ungava Bay in Northern Quebec. The Federal Fisheries Research Board has assigned him to make a 1,300-mile aerial tour of the Arctic to' locate, if possible, new fishing territory for the hungry natives.

The Ungava Eskimos used to catch and eat seals and walruses. When they became scarcer the Eskimos turned to the white fox for food and clothing. Now the white fox are becoming scarce, too, and the food problem along Hudson Strait is becoming acute. Hildebrand’s first task will be to fish through the ice to try and locate streams having a good supply of trout and char.


Like many country jails in Eastern Canada, those of New Brunswick are old and antiquated. One was built by the Loyalists in the 18th century. Another was moved and rebuilt when a county seat was shifted before the turn of this century. Municipal councils have been reluctant to spend money improving outdated jails.

Now the Government has appointed Judge J. Bacon Dickson to investigate the province’s penal system and there’s talk of abolishing the local jails entirely, or, at least, of reducing them to a minor role.

One of the proposals has been a central prison farm for all the Maritime Provinces.

* * *

In County Court last month a Charlottetown citizen was awarded $400 damages and costs against an RCMP constable for breaking and entering. The plaintiff was J. Russell Smith, the defendant in this unusual action was Constable Allan M. Johnson.

The constable went to Smith’s house in search of a door that was alleged to have been stolen. Smith charged that Johnson used “unnecessary and unreasonable force” to enter his house to execute a warrant which the plaintiff contended was defective; that. Johnson tore off and carried away the plaintiff’s door and that the resulting confusion caused the plaintiff’s wife to have a hemorrhage. h