THE 29-year-old wooden bridge across the upper reaches of the St. John River at Hartland, N.B., is an outdated relic. It’s too narrow for present-day traffic, in summer it’s a fire hazard and in winter snow has to be hauled and spread on it so that farmers can cross it with sleighs.
But although it’s on the TransCanada Highway and ought to be replaced with a more modern span, the people of Hartland don’t want to see their old bridge go. Reason: it’s the longest covered bridge in the worldjust 38 feet short of a quarter of a mile —and the town’s chief tourist attraction.
During the postwar steel shortage of Ï920, the bridge was built of wood with the promise of a steel span later. But nobody now knows why it was covered. Everybody in Hartland does know, though, that if you cross it at exactly 28 miles an hour, you can get a clear view of the St. John River through the cracks between the boards that form its sides, just as if there were no boards there at all.
In East End Montreal, not far from the oil refineries, the cement works and the smelters, one of Canada’s most unusual municipalities spreads back from the St. Lawrence over several hundred acres. It is St. Jean de Dieu, a town housed almost entirely under one roof. Its mayor is the Mother Superior of the Sisters of Providence, its permanent residents are 1,000 nuns and lay employees and the bulk of its population is 6,500 mental invalids. For St. Jean de Dieu is the French Catholic mentid hospital for Montreal.
Like every other town, St. Jean de Dieu has a housing shortage. Montrealers were recently shocked to learn that about 1,000 certified insane people were roaming their streets. They •should be in St. Jean de Dieu but the nuns of the 76-year-old institution have no room for them. Meanwhile the waiting list is growing at the rate of 40 to 50 a week.
The amazing Calgary-Toronto love affair shows no signs of languishing.
It all began when the Stampeders and their Wild West supporters invaded the Ontario capital last fall to carry off the Grey Cup. To everyone’s surprise, Toronto gave the exuberant Calgarians a warm welcome. (Ottawans grumbled that it would have been different if the Argos, and not the Roughriders, had reached the East-West final.)
Mayor Hiram McCallum of Toronto endeared himself to Calgary and won limself the sobriquet of “Cowboy McCallum” when he led the visitors up Bay Street on a sleek horse. When Cowboy was re-elected, Alderman Don Mackay of Calgary wared him:
“Reckon we Calgary hillbillies were mighty pleased to see yuh sittin’ on the old corral on New Year’s night with all opposition well-spurred and subdued.”
Now Alayor McCallum has been invited to come to Calgary next July to open the Stampede and to bring a whole trainload of Torontonians with him to stay the entire five days. Said a Toronto columnist: “If this spirit of hands - across - the - prairies develops much further, Torontonians will begin to walk bowlegged and call cattle ‘ornery critters’ just like in the radio serials.”
In the closing days of 1948, the town of Oil Springs, Ont., turned water into its new municipal mains, and celebrated the end of a drought that had lasted for almost 90 years. Oil Springs has drilled often for water, but all it ever hit was— oil.
Oil was first produced in the Oil Springs field in 1858 when James H. Williams sunk a pit in the gummy banks of Black Creek and bailed out the oil that flowed into the hole. This was the first oil production in America, a year ahead of Drake’s famous pioneer well in Titusville, Pa. The first real well was not drilled at Black Creek until 1862—a gusher that covered the ice of the creek a foot deep for a mile.
Overnight, the town mushroomed. Soon there were more than 200 producing wells in the district. The population grew to 4,000 and the town looked around for a water supply.
Wells were sunk. No luck—just more oil or oily water. They tried again—still no water. One crew struck oil and enough gas to light and cook for the whole town. But water had to be hauled by horse-drawn tank carts from farm wells north of Black Creek.
As* the years passed, the oil field began to show its age and today it’s nearly worked out. But still the town had no reliable water supply. Then a creamery operator sank a well and got a beautiful clear flow. But this well was
north of Black Creek, and it was suddenly realized that in all its vain search for water, Oil Springs had never tried the other side of the stream.
Town Council had two wells drilled north of the creek. At 60 feet they each brought in abundant water. The long hunt was over.
If tourists in Alberto next summer get the 49th parallel confused with the Mason-Dixon Line, don’t be surprised. For around Medicine Hat they’re going to try to grow cotton.
The Industrial Promotion Committee of Aledicine Hat thinks the soil and climate of the area may be suitable for cotton growing. It has obtained seed from Texas and South Carolina and farmers have promised to plan experimental plots.
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With two thriving new fields flowing —at Leduc and Redwater—the Province of Alberta will collect $12 millions in oil royalties, leases and rentals in the current fiscal year, three times the estimate when the budget was passed last year. Oil has replaced liquor as the province’s chief source of revenue.
Oil has also added another town to Alberto—Devon, in the Leduc field, named for the Devonian limestone in which the crude was located. Devon is a prefabricated planned community laid out to accommodate an eventual 2,000 people and four oil wells. Two of the wells in the town are already producing.
Devon houses are made in Calgary at a rate of one a day, assembled on their site and sold at prices bet ween $4,000 and $6,700.
B. C.’s compulsory hospital insurance plan went into effect New Year’s Day and within a week nine out of 10 citizens had paid their premium ($15 a year for single persons, $25 a year for a couple).
It paid to pay up; uninsured persons entering hospital after Jan. I were liable to the full cost of their care plus a fine of $25.
Those insured are entitled to publicward accommodation but not to medical or surgical attention, drugs, anaesthetics or special nurses. Chronic cases, such as TB, are not covered, nor are patients in crippled children’s hospitals.
Even so, the premiums are generally considered reasonable. Public ward rates, now around $6 a day, are being raised to about $8. jr
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