Canadian Cities of Romance
"THE GOTHIC TOWER ON PARLIAMENT HILL."
By KATHERINE HALE
(MRS. JOHN GARVIN)
AUTHOR OF "Grey Knitting," "The White Comrade," etc.
PUBLISHED at NEW YORK by
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, CANADA, 1922
BY MCCLELLAND & STEWART, LIMITED, TORONTO
That Canadian towns and cities possess an atmosphere all their own has been recognized by many a traveller. Just what this atmosphere–not old world, not American–means is presented for the first time in these sketches which have been called "prose etchings, delicate as those of Whistler." For the Canadian reader they call attention to historic backgrounds too long neglected. For readers of other countries they give glimpses of a land where legend and romance still linger, and whose cities are characterized by a distinctly racial flavour, mingled with the vast resources and young virility of the North.
So many of my friends, from one end of Canada to the other, have helped me in the matter of these stories that their names would make a substantial addition to this book. I can only return thanks, and say that each request has been met with the utmost kindness and goodwill.
To the Editor of the Canadian Home Journal, for the use of excerpts from a series of my stories of Canadian cities, I am especially grateful.
|II.||DOMES AND DREAMS OF MONTREAL||29|
|III.||KINGSTON AND HER PAST||45|
|IV.||HALIFAX–A HOLDING PLACE||57|
|V.||THE PORT OF ST. JOHN||71|
|VI.||FREDERICTION–THE CELESTIAL CITY||83|
|VII.||OTTAWA–A TOWERED TOWN||95|
|VIII.||TORONTO–A PLACE OF MEETING||107|
|IX.||HISTORIC BACKGROUNDS OF BRANTFORD||123|
|XI.||EDMONTON AND JASPER PARK||145|
|XII.||CALGARY AND BANFF||161|
|XIII.||VANCOUVER–THE WESTERN GATEWAY||173|
|XIV.||VICTORIA–AN ISLAND CITY||185|
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
I. Quebec–An Immortal
I. Quebec–An Immortal
THE city of Quebec has been loved by generations of Canadians. Like some beautiful old native song there is hidden in her, quaint repetitions and the racial themes that link her, decade by decade, with the past and the present. She has been the priceless subject of many a picture, song and story. Most pictures reflect the tones of spring and summer, when the St. Lawrence runs deep blue and the Laurentians are wrapped in purple.
But Quebec in midwinter is less familiar. A Canadian artist, Horatio Walker, who has depicted this aspect with great beauty, says: "I live in the midst of difficulties, hemmed in by snow on the deserted Island of Orleans, but cannot leave the wonder of Quebec in winter." Snow in Ontario towns often means a sort of gray gloom. But Quebec under a white cloak is a place set high in air, crystal clear and full of sunshine. The railway route from Montreal runs in places through glittering barbaric jungles of what appear to be enormous silver ferns sometimes changing to avenues of innumerable arches of diamonds, crossing and recrossing in the sparkling air–frozen larches, bent into fantastic curves by the weight of snow.
It is enchanting to arrive in a winter twilight when a fading sun is on Point Levis. As we drove to the Château Frontenac, our horses lashed with the native fury of a French-Canadian cocher, the shadows in the city had deepened so that we were not prepared for the beauty of sunset from the Terrace. The rosy light on Levis had dyed itself into deep crimson, and there was an afterglow on the Laurentians and the blossoming of electric stars in buildings far away across the river.
From the Château Frontenac, set in a great open space below the Citadel and commanding the St. Lawrence, Levis, and the Laurentians beyond, one glimpses a life altogether Canadian, in the far early sense. The low French sleighs, piled with fur rugs; the driver in his coonskin coat, belted with a gay woollen scarf, standing erect as he drives; nuns in their black robes; friars in dull brown, with careful galoches over what we know are sandalled feet; children, many of them in the gay blanket tobogganing-suits that passed out of existence in other provinces decades since, sailing down and climbing up the slides; all these figures are apt to appear and disappear as you stand by your window and watch the ice blocks pass on the wintry river, silent and inevitable as Fate.
"QUEBEC . . . TAKES ON A MEDIAEVAL ASPECT."
Below, in the city, a strange unknown life is progressing. Here the Ursuline Convent stretches out its long stone walls. Just below is Laval, more like a mediaval palace than a modern university. Suddenly a sun ray strikes the dome of the Basilica; within are the endless whispers of prayers.
If I could paint my Quebec in sound it would be to the ringing of bells, the laughter of French children and the almost inaudible, incessant whisper of prayers.
The romance of Quebec is like charm in an individual, a thing of endowment. From out some hidden spring of being and by long conspiracy of the ages, this place where Canada began possesses beauty that is in itself a heritage.
Three centuries ago the city was founded by Champlain. But nearly a hundred years before that, Jacques Cartier saw and loved Stadacona, (an Indian village ruled by its chief, Donnacona, the "Lord of Canada") which lay at the meeting of the St. Lawrence and the St. Charles, a stone's throw from the present city.
The faith of Cartier in his vision of a Canada to be, faith which counted death as nothing, is a memory more keen than the mature affection of Champlain, who succeeded where Cartier had failed to place France in the new world. Yet when Champlain arrived, a century later, there was still need for the courage of a great dream. "When Alexander built Alexandria he could draw with the might of a master upon the resources of three continents. When Constantine built Constantinople he brought to it the treasures of the ancient world–-the marbles of Corinth, the serpent of Delphi, and the horses of Lysippus. But from no such origin does the life of Canada proceed. Champlain, in rearing his simple habitation at Quebec, had no other financial support than could be drawn from the fur trade. His hungry handful of followers subsisted largely upon stale pork and smoked eels. Everything that was won from the wilderness cost heroism, self-sacrifice and faith."
"La Grande Mère of Canadian cities," her story from her birth in 1608 is alive with incident. French, until the Battle of the Plains of Abraham closed what has been called "the grand but insecure pageant of French Dominions on the shores of the St. Lawrence," the record is one of hotly contested sieges, blockades and battles. A coveted prize, Quebec for a century and a half was wooed, seized, stolen, tossed about from hand to hand and country to country. Five times, from 1608 to 1775, she was in actual warfare against England and New England, not to speak of perpetual skirmishes with the Indians.
With the British conquest her most picturesque pages closed. An era of progress began:–municipal government, military tribunals, adjustment of laws and languages, newspapers, a Literary and Historical Society with a Royal Charter. And then, hundreds of English ships in the harbour looking for Canadian pine and spruce, because continental ports were closed during the Napoleonic wars. Twenty-five years later the launching, at the Island of Orleans, of the two first large Canadian ships.
To-day one may read the romance of Quebec on a dozen different pages. The streets hold a key to her history, from Little Champlain, which bears the marks of the turbulent centuries, to the Grande Allée of modern residences. The churches and convents are a story in themselves, and the monuments to Champlain, Montcalm, Wolfe, Lavallée, Mercier and a long line of heroes, picture to the mind eras and events.
More fascinating to travellers with a sense of mystery than the rocky precipice up which struggled Wolfe and his companions, the Plains of Abraham themselves, or even the Fortress at Citadel Hill gallantly defended by Montcalm, are the narrow old world streets of the Lower Town. Little Champlain, for instance, where they used to 'crimp' the sailors for loot in the bad old days, is a place where you feel that almost anything might happen as the day draws in to twilight.
"Mon Dieu!", says the guide, "when they take down these houses so old, what will remain? A graveyard–also very old."
Encircling the public square in front of the Basilica, run the lines of the clanging trolleys, and the ubiquitous motor car is of course in evidence. Big Business goes on in Quebec, and naturally she will become more and more absorbed by it. At the same time there is no resisting the fact that she is, inherently, a spiritual force. Everywhere you feel the hand of the church.
Once I chanced upon a strange shrine in the chapel of the Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Here candles burn forever before an altar at which two nuns in white robes are always at prayer. The shrine is built like a miniature church, separated from the rest of the chapel by a high grille of iron, through the openwork of which are seen four silent forms: two who bow at the altar, and two who kneel in prayer near them. When the moment strikes, the latter move forward to relieve their sisters, another pair entering to take their places. Hence, year in, year out, the light before the altar is unceasing, the shrine is never for a moment deserted, the worship goes on forever. To sit in that church, and in the stillness to watch those motionless figures, is to feel the very hand of eternity in the midst of time.
The Basilica, where hangs the red hat of the Cardinal, is full of ritualistic splendour and wonderful music on a Sunday evening . . . But nearby, in the palm room of the Château, a string orchestra is playing, people are grouped about little tables having coffee and cigarettes. Presently dancing begins. Soon you realize that not even in Paris is there more grace and beauty to be discovered, in like surroundings, than here, among these charming young French-Canadians.
St. Louis is one of the delightful old streets. It was the fashionable thoroughfare of Quebec two hundred years ago. But for a century before that it was a "street," along which Indians padded silently, along which the good Nuns walked and about which romance has always hovered. It lies on the way from the Ursuline Convent to the Citadel, and is narrow and stony. Each house is apparently set directly on to the pavement. The entrances are mysterious, but certain houses and buildings are known even to the casual tourist. Here is the little low house of the Cooper, Gaubert, where Montgomery's body was laid out for burial, and the old officers' quarters, an ancient building which long before garrison days was presented by the Intendant, Bigot, to his beautiful mistress, Angelique de Meloise. A step farther is Kent House, where Queen Victoria's father lived for a time in residence, and there is another well-known building which served in 1812 as a place of detention for American prisoners taken at Detroit; also the little Ursuline chapel, built now on the site of the famous house of Madame de la Peltrie.
Then–if you know modern Quebec–you may be permitted to ring the door-bell of some old stone house. A French maid will open. "Montez, s'il vous plait!". In a moment one is back in the heart of to-day. Here is a drawing-room in chintz and French wallpaper, with the latest books lying on the centre table. And there is tea and toast and excellent talk . . . Meeting well-known French-Canadians, hearing the music of their speech, feeling in them the sensitive spirit of an inherently poetic race, one cannot believe that the flame of their genius will expire in modern days.
As for the literary traditions of Quebec, they are precious and unique. We are told by French historians that between 1764 and 1830 there existed "a small literary world in Quebec." Poems were written which circulated in manuscript for want of a printing office, and a public library was opened in 1785. Dramatic Associations also existed in both Montreal and Quebec. They played Molière and some light comedies of the time of Louis XV. His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, accompanied by Lieutenant-Governors, Clark and Simcoe, attended the performance of "La Comtesse de Escarbagna" and "Le Médecin Malgrè Lui" in Quebec, in 1792. "There was a spirit of literature in the air" says Mr. Benjamin Sulte writing of these times, "and this came not only by reading but by the more important practice of conversation and 'causerie de salon' which is so thoroughly French."
From 1832 to 1837 we find young French-Canadian poets writing songs after the manner of Beranger. Garneau was a genuine poet, full of national spirit. And there is a low-raftered room on Buade Street where Octave Crémazie used to spend hours in his brother's book shop. That was about the year 1864. "Le Drapeau de Carillon" is perhaps his best-known and best-loved poem. Probably the most truly national among the French-Canadian poets of the last century was Louis Honorè Fréchette. His greatest work, the tragedy of Papineau, was crowned by the French Academy in 1881. Pamphile Le May is another well-known singer. The mystical pathos of the verse belies his spring-like name.
Out on the Ste. Foye Road are two interesting houses. Spencer Grange, the home of Sir James Le Moine, and the adjacent Spencerwood, Government House for the Province of Quebec. Both places are full of mellow, unaffected charm. There is nothing institutional about the simple and dignified hospitality of Spencerwood; and in the library of the picturesque, century-old Grange, whose master is the author of many volumes on the history and legendary lore of the St. Lawrence, the fortunate guest will find a precious collection of Canadiana in old volumes, prints of Quebec, and bric-a-brac.
Quebec people are proud of the work in prose and verse of their fellow-citizen, Canon Frederick George Scott, who is the well-loved "Padre" of thousands of Canadian soldiers.
Perhaps the keen romance of Quebec lies in the fact that in her history extremes have always met:–the natural extremes of a climate that can be bitterly cold and also sun-warm to the core, and extremes of temperament in two races far as the poles apart in their expression of feeling. So the generations find and leave it, town of old dreams and desires, looking out on the river and the hills from under its rocky Citadel over which two flags have flown–Quebec, an immortal city of the new world.
II. Domes and Dreams of Montreal
II. Domes and Dreams of Montreal
MONTREAL, a slightly younger sister of Quebec, is more sophisticated and progressive. The largest city in Canada, she is, from a commercial standpoint, undoubtedly the most substantial. And yet, a mystery rests upon her. She speaks through domes and towers of some far off dream. She suggests a form in space that is circular. Most places are laid out on straight lines. You get the impression of a runner making for a goal–streets, shops, parks, people all straight line. There are few unexpected places. The atmosphere is clear cut. But Montreal is surprising, and vastly attractive. Her spirit is cloudy rather than glowing; and she wears purple best of any colour, though she began in a blaze of light.
To come up the river from the sea, or to go down the river from Toronto and so approach Montreal, is to realize the beauty and the prevalence of her cathedral domes coming like the sound of bells. When the air is misty and a fog is rising from the river, the sound is faint and mysterious. If the sun shines you catch a golden note, and then another and another; and in spite of myriads of roof-tops and the unfolding of a great city, laid terrace-like at the foot of Mount Royal, you know that Montreal is a circle.
Remember how she began, in a blaze of light. It was on a May morning, a little less than three hundred years ago, that Maisonneuve and his band of religious enthusiasts landed and on the very spot where, alas for romance, the Customs House now stands, the saintly Dumont planted the grain of mustard seed which it was his belief was "destined to overshadow the land." Born of the Church, sprung to life out of spiritual zeal–a sword-like French zeal at that–no wonder that Montreal ascends dome-like and wears a purple cloak.
The germ of the city came out of religion, but as she grew, her commanding situation drew commerce towards her. And from first to last Trade has meant fighting.
She was on the outer confines of civilization and at the door of the Iroquois country. Hence the fur trade and with it the necessity for a military garrison. Indians, priests, soldiers; these in their garish or sombre dress held the streets of the town at first. In another hundred years, though the priests and the soldiers were both to be seen, the Indians were beginning to disappear and the fur trader was less crafty. After a while he too disappeared from the life of the modern city.
"SHE SPEAKS THROUGH DOMES AND TOWERS OF SOME FAR OFF DREAM."
Apart from religious, political and business relationships, the influence of a dual element is important. It is a well-known fact that there is no Canadian city, and only one other in America, New Orleans, that can compare in picturesqueness with Quebec. No seaport of the continent has more dignity and beauty than Montreal. The attraction is largely composed of solidity, allied to tradition and romance, that makes the French-English combination.
A book might be written on the various approaches to Montreal. Even the route by land from Quebec, over any of several ways across narrow fields facing on the river, is interesting. Here one may pass some of the old manor lands discarded at the termination of French Rule. Visitors from the United States find points of comparison between Quebec and New Orleans, Montreal and Mobile. The lower streets of both Canadian cities recall the Saints, but it was from the North that Bienville brought names to Mobile and New Orleans. The old Manors also, common on the St. Lawrence, were introduced into Louisiana by Louis the XIV. There are now few traces of these seigneurial rights in the South, and in Canada the British Government bought them from the Seigneurs in order to simplify the law system.
Steep streets, wide distances, noble churches, great squares, river-way or mountain summit; yet with all its solidity this is a city of surprises. I hear a church bell ringing, a sandalled monk may pass me, a priest hurries by, book in hand . . . Then, a laugh in the air, and a party of school girls pass, humming an English air. Before the great Banks or Railroad Offices, whose headquarters are stationed here, antiquity is lost in commerce. But just around a corner there is a narrow street whose inhabitants deal, one should fancy, in nothing higher than copper currency.
These glimpses of Montreal make me glad that I do not know it 'thoroughly.' I would rather retain flashes that are painted in colours so vivid that they can not easily be effaced.
There was a snowy night when we stopped at the great doors of Notre Dame and slipped in where a thousand candles were burning. Somewhere out of the distance came the vibrant sing-song chant of the French priest. There was the city in the cold blue light of early morning, the streets piled high with snow. The city burning at noon-day under an August glare, the golden angel of the spire of Bonsecours touched by the sun, the drip, drip from the fountain in a Square insisting upon itself intermittently between the onrush of traffic. A city of twilight seen from the mountain with starry lights beginning to twinkle below, a great ship coming lazily in from the sea, the busy docks a faint blur in the distance, and the panorama of streets and squares and towers and steeples all mixed in a haze of coloured light. The city at night with a mid-summer moon floating above a serene street of palatial residences, the silhouettes of great buildings, the blind high walls that guard the Church's possessions, the shrill laughter of the French town–the old city–this is the meeting of past and present in Montreal's own way.
When I see candles lit on the altars of Montreal I think of the legend that relates to that May day when she was christened. For we are told that when night fell a Mass was celebrated, and fire-flies, caught and imprisoned in a phial upon the altar, served as lights.
The old houses are full of romance. The Château de Ramezay is a low, cottage-like building behind an old-fashioned stone fence. For over two hundred years it has been a house of importance. Now it is gray with age and exceedingly picturesque in spite of the fact that it is a museum. On its left the quaint open market edges close and slightly below it; a crowded, many coloured, odoriferous bouquet. Claude de Ramezay, Governor of Montreal, used the Château for twenty years. After his death it became the property of "La Compagnie des Indes," and the salons lost the roses and candle light of polite French society and were crowded with Indians from the back country and fur traders. After the Conquest it became the residence of the British Governors. When the American revolutionary army occupied Montreal in 1775, this was Montgomery's headquarters, and from it issued his manifesto to the Canadian people, urging them to cast off their allegiance to Great Britain. Benjamin Franklin came here at the time, bringing his printing press which was set up in the vaults of the Château.
"THE CHÂTEAU DE RAMEZAY, FOR TWO HUNDRED YEARS A HOUSE OF IMPORTANCE."
The other day poking underground, as I have so often done, in these stone vaults of castle-like construction I found among ancient trophies a queer phæton-like conveyance with an iron rod sticking up in the centre. It looked at least two hundred years old. I enquired of an ancient guide upstairs. "That," he said, "is Montreal's first automobile–a matter of only thirty years ago!"
The neighbourhood of the Château was in 1705 the fashionable part of the town and was occupied by the Baron de Longueil, the Contrecoeurs, Madame de Portneuf and others of the French aristocracy who naturally chose their houses near the magnificent garden of the Jesuits.
South of Notre Dame Church, indeed, is the region in which romance lingers. Going down St. Sulpice Street to St. Paul Street and then turning east to St. Jean Baptiste, one of the oldest houses in the city may be seen. It is now occupied by a Chemical Company. St. Gabriel Street was laid out in 1680 and one sloping roofed building dates back to 1687. Its heavily vaulted cellars were probably used for storing furs. Jacques Cartier Square also contains its old houses.
"THE PLACE D'ARMES CENTRES THE CITY'S LIFE."
The Place D'Armes centres the city's life. In the Square stands Maisonneuve in bronze, brave in the cuirass and French dress of the 17th Century holding the banner of the fleur-de-lys. The sculptor, Louis Hebert, has suggested phases of early Canadian life in his bas-reliefs and the four figures at the base in bronze, an Indian, a colonist's wife, a colonist with the legendary dog Pilote, and a soldier. Notre Dame de Montreal faces the Square with its tall stiff façade and towers and here is also the Bank of Montreal, pure classic Corinthian, the white granite Royal Trust Building, and the Post Office with its bas-reliefs in the Portico after designs by Flaxman.
All about Bonsecours, the church and market, you feel the tingling magic of old Canada. The very name was a thank offering for escape from the Iroquois. Maisonneuve felled the first trees for the little church and pulled them out of the forest. That was in 1657. A second larger chapel was built twenty years later and the present church was erected upon its site; the stone foundations go back to 1675. The new church has been too much 'restored' and 'improved.' But still the miraculous Virgin, whom Sister Marguerite Bourgeoys set up to guard the sailors two centuries ago, looks out towards the water, and there are old paintings and old altars. Old memories too, fading eras slipping by into the centuries with hardly an echo in the sturdy French provincial life of to-day. On the Place Viger, a block from the church, is a statue to Chénier, one of the 'patriotes' of 1837 who died fighting furiously in the church of St. Eustache, outside the city, where he had taken refuge. But in the market, where now the habitants flock on Tuesdays and Fridays, there is still a note of the past in the quaint carts, the homespuns and the little chairs that are brought in from the country for sale. Also there are squawking ducks and chickens, and maple sugar, and garlic, and straw hats and native tabac, and rosaries and cheap jewellery. And the barter takes one back to Paris markets, only this is a kindlier commerce.
There is a newer but no less striking romance in the opening up of the mountain district. The upper levels of Westmount, creeping up Côte des Neiges; the magnificent driveways; great vistas of plains seen from one mountain, with other mountains dim on the horizon; here a tall column, with an incomparable background of hills, the Cartier Monument on Fletcher's Field; there a Pleasure Park; to the lower left, if you are looking south, the Molson Stadium, pride of McGill;–every thing on a heroic scale, like masterful young music set to an old Canadian theme.
Because she is a city with a soul it would seem that her literary traditions should be many. As a matter of fact this is hardly the case, though certain outstanding figures are undoubtedly linked with it. Romance rests upon the name of Charles Heavysege, who came to Montreal from Liverpool in 1853. He was a wood carver by profession and his drama "Saul" shows that he was a poet by birth. George Murray, an Oxford man, did much literary work in his new home, and so did John Reade, who arrived in Canada in 1837 from Belfast and joined the Montreal Gazette. William D. Lighthall is a Canadian anthologist of note, a poet and also a novelist. Stephen Leacock is a humorist of international fame. Dr. William H. Drummond has for ever left his impress upon the literature of Canada in the habitant verse which has immortalized the French-Canadian farmer, the voyageur and the coureur de bois.
The "Chansons Populaires" of Canada are unique. The songs, which came out of the convents of France in the Middle Ages, were brought to Quebec by its founders. As the years went on the ancient, beautiful songs became Canadianized, in a sort of verbal and musical patois containing much piquant anecdote of the early days. Dr. Drummond in his poems illustrates the life and manners, the humour and the tragedy of the habitant. He does not touch the old songs which are their heritage.
In a different way Mrs. J. W. F. Harrison, "Seranus," has pictured the life along the St. Lawrence in her exquisite Villanelles, many of them written in or near Montreal. A group of the younger generation of poets would include such names as Nelligan, Lozeau and Paul Morin.
During the summer months the entente between Canada and the United States is strong. Montreal is full of Americans, which recalls a tribute from Horace Traubel, late of Philadelphia and long a sojourner in this city which he loved so well. He says: "What we get in New York from our East side we get here in a Latin and sometimes an Oriental way. The distinctly English cities whether on this or the other side of the Border are passionless prose. They need fire. They need colour. They are too respectable to be decent. Montreal is awake, Sundays and week-days."
For fully a century Montreal has been alive to the new movement in education, art and science. As far back as 1801 the establishment of non-sectarian free schools was provided for, and shortly after that, the foundation for McGill was laid. It is now one of the great universities of the world, and such distinguished names as those of Sir William Dawson, William Peterson, LL.D. and Sir Arthur Currie, Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian forces in France during the great war, are associated as its Principals. The Hon. James McGill, a leading merchant and citizen of Montreal, looked forward to a University which should consist of several colleges. Three such are already in existence, the first and original one being that which bears his name.
Montreal is a centre for art and for artists. While the National gallery at Ottawa contains its treasures, Montreal possesses the most important permanent collection of European pictures in Canada. The new Art Gallery on Sherbrooke Street, beautiful in its classic architecture, was erected through the liberality of a group of Montreal picture lovers.
III. Kingston and Her Past
III. Kingston and Her Past
FIRST the Indians, then the French, then the British; Quebec, Montreal, Kingston; three steps in history, tradition, situation.
As gray as mother of pearl, but an all-encompassing gray that includes violet and blue and a fine sea-green when the sun strikes it, that is Kingston, which, because it is built upon a ridge of limestone, has for long suffered from the dull phrase, "The Limestone City."
The soft wings of age seem to hover over a town that is more or less of an impression to the traveller; for the main lines of the railways merely skirt it, (leaving to a little stub line the duty of carrying passengers) and it is almost mirage-like as one passes it by water on the way to or from Montreal; a fairy place in a summer dawn, or by moonlight.
Its position on the north shore of Lake Ontario just at its junction with the St. Lawrence was sure to attract a colony from the earliest days. Count Frontenac renamed the Indian "Cataraqui," or "Clay Fort," in 1673 after himself. At that time the French fur trade was its reason for being. Two years later Louis XIV made a grant of two thousand acres of surrounding country to his friend, Robert, Cavalier de la Salle, because of the upkeep of the Fort. And then a quarrel arose with La Barre, after the recall of Frontenac, who took possession in his usual unethical fashion, and in 1695 had the Fort rebuilt. It became something of a storm centre. As the French supremacy in Canada drew to a close, and the New England colonies to the south became stronger, the primitive streets of the fortress town echoed the sound of drums until Bradstreet led an army of three thousand men and eleven guns against it, and in August, 1787, it capitulated. Then for a long time there was silence.
Another generation had nearly run its course when it was reclaimed by the United Empire Loyalists, who gave their settlement the name of Kingston.
Among the town's forefathers were Joseph Brant, the Indian Chief, Neil McLean, Lawrence Herkimer and the Rev. John Stuart, the first Anglican clergyman in Canada, who later founded here a school for boys.
A new town was laid out with a flour mill, a court of Assize, a Whipping-Post and Stocks. In 1792, Kingston became for a short time the capital of Upper Canada with Simcoe as Governor.
Two years later the Duke de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, drew the following picture of the little town: "Kingston consists of about 130 houses, none of them distinguished from the rest by a more handsome appearance. The only structure more conspicuous than the others is the barracks, a stone building surrounded by palisades."
Then came the war of 1812 when the American fleet suddenly appeared off the Upper Gap and shots were interchanged with the shore. But Kingston remained unhurt. Her fortifications were growing. At this time appeared those fascinating block houses, of which only one remains. These block houses constituted a cordon of defense round the town and were connected by a high stockade. They were all of the same pattern; two stories high, the upper stories slightly projecting, and were armed with carronades.
After the war of 1812 this was the military centre for Upper Canada, and possessed a garrison, a resident Commandant, and a leisure class of military officers and their families. Hence of course social life and ambition. As far back as 1816 we find records of "a large wooden Government House and Theatre built by the Military," of balls and parties, of "coloured gauzes and laces," of "Waterloo sarcenets" and "Wellington bombazines." Horse racing became a favorite amusement with the officers, and at the entertainments which followed, "the loyal dames of Kingston would appear in brilliant dresses with threads of silver forming the motto, 'God Save the King.'" Could patriotism go farther!
The original St. George's Cathedral, begun in 1794, was described by a visitor in 1820 as "A long, low, blue building with square windows and a little cupola or steeple for the bell, like the thing on a brewery, placed on the wrong end of the building." The first building on the present site was begun in 1825, afterwards enlarged, destroyed by fire in 1898, then rebuilt with only the stone pillars on the southern façade belonging to the original building. In the vault of the Church was buried Lord Sydenham, a tablet in the present Cathedral commemorating his memory.
But before this Church, came the Military Barracks, in 1789, known as the Tête du Pont, which stands on the site of the original Fort Frontenac. Here, as within the area of the more modern Military College (a youthful affair opened so late as 1875) the mere dates do not count when one stands upon ancient ground where long-forgotten causes were fought out before the white men came from France or England, old wars that out date memory.
In the modern Cathedral of St. George there hangs from the Cadets' Gallery, a great flag covered with stars for the fallen in the Great War. Laughing faces of boys arise, vanished in the old cause of freedom that lured their forefathers to this very spot.
Kingston has had some strange karma to work out. Always she has desired military and national power. Always, in spite of great natural resources and gifts, these things have been denied her. But in the year 1841, when she became the temporary seat of Government for the United Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada–an honor soon withdrawn–Queen's University was incorporated. It struggled at first for a bare existence, because all suitable buildings had been taken over for the Administrative purposes of the Government. Its first classes were conducted in a small frame building on Princess Street.
Now the University is the real centre and glory of Kingston.
A far cry from the old swashbuckler days, the romance of Indian and French intrigue, the knavish fur trade, the wild escapades of smugglers, the delightful arrogance and amours of early British military life, to the deep-thoughted Presbyterianism that has, through seven decades, meant Queen's. It is as if a quiet pool had been set in the midst of a town that was listening to the call of rushing rapids near by, and the quiet of the pool had gradually stilled the call of the rapids. It is a cool but perhaps a kindly fate.
The system of Martello towers which guard the harbour and city are patterned after those of the 16th Century in Europe and were begun nearly three decades after the block houses. The oldest of them still lacks a few years of the century mark but they look as if they had been there forever, and are a distinctive and beautiful feature of Kingston. Again the note of gray! The lovely Shoal Tower, in the harbour, stands as one writer has said, "its feet in the blue waters of the lake," like some remembrance from the long ago. So the Murney Tower in Macdonald Park, where, amid large trees and facing the lake is a statue to that great son of Kingston, Sir John A. Macdonald.
The Royal Military College was founded by the Mackenzie Government. Point Frederick, so long associated with the early Naval depot, became the site of the buildings. The Cadets have for years lent a stirring colour to Kingston life.
"A DISTINCTIVE AND BEAUTIFUL FEATURE OF KINGSTON ARE THE MARTELLO TOWERS."
Interesting old houses abound. One goes about the streets wondering who lived here and there, for many of the stone exteriors have that about them which at once awakens interest and a certain quality of suspense that is the hall-mark of fascination. Many of these places were undoubtedly the abode of gentlefolk of British tradition. The history of most is lost but that of a few we know. "Alwington House," for instance was built by the fourth Baron Le Moyne de Longueuil; it was the residence of the Governors-General of Canada for a time. Lord Sydenham lived there in 1841, Sir Charles Bagot and Sir Charles Metcalfe succeeded him. "Rockwood Cottage" was built by the father of Sir Richard Cartwright, and on Rideau Street East stands the house in which Sir John A. Macdonald spent most of his boyhood, while nearly opposite, overlooking the river, is another historic abode, once occupied by Molly Brant, the sister of Joseph Brant, the Mohawk Chief.
The lover of literary reminiscence will seek out the remains of an ancient cemetery at the end of Clergy Street where was buried an officer of the British Army, a brother of Felicia Hemans, the English poetess. In 1825 she writes in "Graves of a Household":
"One midst the forests of the West
By a dark stream is laid;
The Indian knows his place of rest,
Far in the cedar's shade."
Tom Moore was also a notable visitor in Kingston. In the edition of his poems published in 1855 he describes the writing of his famous "Canadian Boat Song" on the St. Lawrence between Kingston and Montreal, a journey which then took five days, "exposed to an intense sun, and at night forced to take shelter from the dews in any miserable hut upon the banks that would receive us." Moore adds that the magnificent scenery of the St. Lawrence repays all such difficulties.
Miss Agnes Maule Machar, novelist, historian and poet, a daughter of the Rev. John Machar, D.D., second Principal of Queen's University, in "The Story of old Kingston," refers to the first Canadian novel published in the English language as "St. Ursula's Convent, or the Nun of Canada." It was written by Mrs. George Hart and published in Kingston in 1824.
Charles Sangster was born in 1822 and was the first Canadian to use the material all about him in poetry. He was followed by Charles Mair, a student of Queen's, whose poems were published in 1868. His Indian drama "Tecumseh," written in blank verse in lines imbued with the splendour of the early days, will always be a work of importance to Canadians.
To-day upspringing shafts of elevators and spires predominate the gray batteries and the sixteenth century towers. Long iron rails stretch endlessly east and west. Yet they hardly touch a city that was born, and continues to be, a Port, a child of sleepy waterways whom commerce has failed to allure. For the ancient Seigniory of Cataraqui still holds a dream which time has made tranquil but never really disturbed.
IV. Halifax–A Holding Place
IV. Halifax–A Holding Place
"FOR a hundred and seventy years the Holding Place of the British against the power of enemies and the forces of nature"–so the present Prince of Wales in his first speech on landing in Canada in 1919. As he arrived at the quay the guns of the British, French, and Italian warships fired the salute and the echoes reverberated among the hills that surround the town, so that it was hard to tell which was the gun and which the echo. Symbolic, this echo, of a Port that has always been a receiving station–an invitation rather than a command.
Looking down from the Citadel one sees the ancient town set on a sort of peninsula; a triangle, with its base to the east making a main harbour, the two sides formed by Bedford Basin, twenty miles in circumference, and by the North-West Arm, a three mile strip of water.
The Micmacs saw the harbour first and called it Chebucto–'Great'–and after the Indians, true to Canadian history, came the French. Champlain named it Baie Saine or 'Safe Harbour.'
The earliest history and romance of Halifax lies about this Harbour whose magnificence and safety decided her being. "Here gathered the Armadas for the reduction of Louisbourg in 1757-8," says Professor Archibald MacMechan. "Loudon, Amherst, Boscawen, Rodney, Wolfe, Cook, saw the old Halifax of Short's Drawings, with its stone-faced batteries lining the waterside and the old flag flying from the top of Citadel Hill, as it does this day. Here came Howe with his defeated regulars after being clawed by the buckskins at Boston. Here floated safe at last the thousands of Loyalists from New York who preferred exile to renouncing their ancient allegiance. In the bitter winter of 1783-4, delicately nurtured women lived in the floating transports while others huddled in the cabooses taken from the ships and pitched like wigwams all along Granville Street. Then during the long wars with the French Republic and with Napoleon the waters of the Harbour never rested from the stirring of keels coming and going. Ships of the line, frigates with intelligence, privateers, prizes, cartels with exchange of prisoners, transports with licence to make war on King George's enemies. In the war of 1812 there were one hundred and six ships of war on this station. On Sunday, June 6th, 1813, there came a procession of two ships–the little Shannon, proudly leading her prize, the Chesapeake, up to the anchorage by the dockyard. All yards were manned; the bands played; the good folk on the wharves cheered like mad, for at last the stain was cleansed from the flag which Dacres had hauled down on the Guerrière."
"LOOKING DOWN FROM THE CITADEL."
Tales of the blockade runners during the American Civil War, notably the episode of the Confederate cruiser, Tallahassee, which three Federal warships watched while she safely escaped by the Eastern passage, are also material for romance.
But these adventures were only a prelude for the mighty drama begun in 1914. Hereafter for five years Halifax perpetually echoed to the tramping feet of thousands upon thousands of Canadian soldiers, who will never forget her welcomes and farewells.
Founded in 1749 by the Hon. Edward Cornwallis as a rival to the French town of Louisburg in Cape Breton, Halifax (named after the second Earl of Halifax) superseded Annapolis as the capital of the province. St. Paul's Church recalls the early days, in vaults where lie those whose names made the early history of Halifax. Among them are Lieutenant-Governor Lawrence, 1760; Admiral Durell, 1766; Baron Kniphausen, Lieutenant-Governor Wilmot, Baron de Seitz, Michael Francklin, some time Lieutenant-Governor, 1782; Lord Charles Grenville Montagu, son of the Duke of Manchester; Chief Justice Jonathan Belcher and others.
Government House has seen many illustrious inmates but never a gayer period than that of the administration of Sir John Wentworth, 1792-1808, when His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, fourth son of King George III, was stationed in Halifax as "Commander of the Troops on the North American Station." It was during his stay in Nova Scotia that he was created Duke of Kent.
The records of those rough, warm, full-blooded times come with a heady flavour and an old-world tang to the thin asceticism of to-day.
Halifax from the first contained two predominating elements, Scotch and New England. To this add a dash of English blood and manners. Dr. Arthur W. H. Eaton in his 'History of Halifax' gives sidelights on the stir caused in the breasts of estimable and aristocratic New Englanders by the doings of Royalty in the Eighteenth Century. Royalty in the old days was rampant in Halifax. Yet no New Englander among them was more democratic than the son of plain 'Farmer George' who used often in Halifax "to put his own hand to the jack-plane and drive the cross-cut saw."
The Duke of Kent, was not, however, a stern observer of the rules of his mother who, Thackeray says, regarded all deviation from the strict path of conventional morality with disfavour and "hated poor sinners with a rancour such as virtue sometimes has."
The Duke loved his neighbour as himself, and remained the friend as well as the steady patron of Nova Scotians until his death. His estate was a veritable feudal village, and his lasting public memorial in Halifax is the Citadel, and the Harbour forts which he built and made well-nigh impregnable. But his residence was illuminated by a romance which his godly mother and his virtuous daughter, Queen Victoria, could not but deplore. It had to do with a lady who accompanied him from the West Indies when he came to Halifax, and, "as much as she was permitted by society, shared his social responsibilities and, sincerely attached to his interests and to his person, assiduously ministered to his wants." In Martinique, the Prince found Madame Alphonsine Therese Bernardine Julie de Montgenet de St. Laurent, Baronne de Fortisson. This noble French woman was his companion during his stay at Halifax, and afterwards until nearly the time of his marriage to the widow who was to become the mother of Queen Victoria.
Soon after the Prince came to Halifax he leased from Sir John Wentworth a small villa set in a beautiful property several miles out of town and quite near the post-road which winds around Bedford Basin. This he beautified and adorned until it became a spacious residence after the Italian style, the gardens containing "charming surprises;" an artificial lake, several Chinese pagodas and Greek and Italian imitation temples. A little Rotunda, containing a single room, richly decorated and hung with paintings was the special joy of the Prince. It was built for dancing. Now, all that remains of the gay feudal village called "Prince's Lodge" is this Rotunda, made over as a dwelling-house, in some prosaic after-time, and now no longer occupied. As early as 1828, Haliburton says: "It is impossible to visit this spot without the most melancholy feelings. The tottering fence, the prostrate gates, the ruined grottoes, the long and winding avenues cut out of the forest, overgrown by rank grass and occasional shrubs, and the silence and desolation that reign around, all recall to mind the untimely fate of its noble and lamented owner, and tell of affecting pleasures and the transitory nature of all earthly things . . . A few years more and all trace of it will have disappeared forever. The forest is fast reclaiming its own, and the lawns and ornamental gardens, annually sown with seeds scattered by the winds from the surrounding woods, are relapsing into a state of nature."
The social brilliancy of the days of the Wentworths is still a legend in Halifax. We hear of splendid and "most exclusive" entertainments at Government House. "Royal guests and the officers of the army and navy assembled for sumptuous entertainments", says the Halifax Gazette of 1795. "Cotillions above stairs and during the dancing refreshments of ice, orgeat, capillaire, and a variety of other things . . . supper at twelve . . . Among other table ornaments which were altogether superb, were exact representations of Hartshorne and Tremain's new flour mill, and of the windmill on the Common. The model of the lighthouse at Shelburne was incomparable, and the tract of the new road from Pictou was delineated in the most ingenious and surprising manner, as was the representation of our fisheries, that great source of wealth in this country."
The name of Joseph Howe is bound up with the history of his native town. He was born in a cottage on the Arm. His father was a United Empire Loyalist, who became King's Printer and Post-Master General of Nova Scotia. Young Joseph was early sent to a printer's office, and later became a journalist, a politician and a Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. He led his province through the stormy period of the fight for responsible government, without bloodshed. In his "Speeches and Public Letters" much of the history of his day and generation is to be found. In 1835, when he owned and edited The Nova Scotian, the celebrated "Sayings and Doings of Sam Slick" began to appear.
Thomas Chandler Haliburton was a native of Windsor, N.S., and a student of King's College, but Joseph Howe and Halifax beckoned him. In his delineation of Sam Slick, type of the Yankee pedlar who perambulated Nova Scotia in those days, Haliburton became not only the founder of Canadian but also of American humour. The wit that sparkles through the quaint series of volumes published in London and Halifax in the '30's has been copied by a generation of authors less honest than himself.
Marshall Saunders, Macdonald Oxley, Grace D. MacL. Rogers, Dr. J. D. Logan, poet and critic, are all associated with Halifax through birth or habitation.
Robert Norwood, the poet, now of Philadelphia, loves the old city as a part of his youth, and so does Basil King the novelist. They are both King's College men, and something of the mellowness of that sweet old place remains in their memories. Robert Norwood found great joy as a child in the wharves and shipping up and down the Harbour. "Water Street has always held for me a rare charm," he says. "I would walk up and down it, turning in at every quaint wharf just to hear the men talking and to watch them at their tasks. I loved colour, and the effect of the sun on the wharves with their bales of merchandise lives in lines in my poem 'Paul to Timothy:' 'Tall, Bacchic amphora, and the perfumed bales of Tyrian purple along the quay; the men with arms like anchor cables in their strength.' The Hill with its Fort and guns was also a place for dreams. The Citadel was a great slope of green that melted at last into the sooty houses below, but beyond the roofs was the sea and the islands, and ships moving up and down the Harbour."
Speaking of his residence here some years ago when he was rector of St. Luke's Cathedral, Basil King calls Halifax "one of mankind's free ports."
"It is in contact with the great big world to a degree not surpassed by New York, San Francisco, Liverpool or Yokohama. It has a settled life, it is true; but its chief life is that of a magnificent touch-and-go, with a splendid variety of contacts. Going out to dine, your neighbor on one side might be from Gibraltar and on the other side from North Dakota. You could never tell, or speculate beforehand. Varieties of friendship were on the same scale. Somewhat like those formed on board ship, they were quick, warm, impulsive, and short-lived. There was too much of the here-to-day and gone-to-morrow in all life to give much social permanence; but in compensation there was much of rapid exchange . . . It was not so much Halifax that impressed itself on me during the years I spent there; it was first the British Empire; and then it was the world. What I drew from my life there was a world-view through lens of the British Empire. In some ways it is the gift of supreme importance in my life."
Dr. Archibald MacMechan of Dalhousie College has written much of storied Halifax, and Mr. Henry Piers calls attention to the fact that as early as 1830 there were Art Exhibitions in what was, at that time, a small town.
But there is the record that above all others is written in terms of heroic deeds and great sacrifices that followed the overwhelming disaster caused by the explosion of munitions of war in the harbour in December 1917.
The Wagwaeltic Club on the North-West Arm–mysteriously beautiful is the Arm with its old trees banked down to the water's edge–the Public Gardens, the drives through the Parks over roads made when the British Regulars were established at the barracks, are a part of modern Halifax, but there are also moats and cannon, subterranean casements, hidden tunnels and secret defences concealing what mystery! Here something crouches, ready to spring forward at a word, though the attitude of dear, dilapidated Halifax is beautifully careless. One could hardly expect, and certainly would not desire her to be neat. For she keeps perpetual open house for many and strange guests. When the sea-doors of Quebec and Montreal are locked she is busiest. The Naval Institute is the second largest in America, and to its friendly doors, year in and year out, come all sorts of seamen, many of them sailors in distress, for Halifax is often a 'port of missing men.'
V. The Port of St. John
V. The Port of St. John
STEEP streets and the ringing of church bells; the distant sea; sunset, and the lovely irregular lines of masts and spars and rigging; the view of a hazy hill topped by a martello tower;–these are some of my pictures of St. John.
An old town long ago linked by trade relations with the West Indies, a port filled with foreign sailors, it contains bales of romance never yet unpacked. I remember crossing Queen Square on a fine spring morning with a lover and historian of his city who spoke not of beauty spots, but of old buildings. "I could show you some shacks, hardly taverns, just shacks, where rum was stored and barrels were opened; and the tales of far lands that came in with the cargoes, the songs, the gestures of the South, were all a part of the old days of St. John."
When this city plays the pageant of her past she will have nearly every romantic element of the early days to draw from. As she is the oldest incorporated city in British North America such pictures mean history. Four years before Quebec was founded, Champlain cast anchor at the mouth of the river and christened the region in honour of the Saint whose day it was. That was on the 24th of June, 1604. Before that the site was known to the prehistoric peoples. The Micmacs and the Malicetes loved it; 'Glooscap,' greatest of their demi-gods, had favoured it. Their descendants wondered as they saw a white man plant the golden lilies of France.
The next picture has to do with the Lady of St. John. Her husband, Sieur La Tour, who had taken a desirable site for his French fort, was a friend of Louis XIV. Lady La Tour was a Huguenot and her dream was to found a colony. D'Aunay Charnisay, an enemy, opened a campaign against them. La Tour slipped away to Boston for help. Charnisay entered the Fort. And then occurred the heroic defense by Madame La Tour, who pitted all her slender resources against the enemy, only to meet with tragedy. Her garrison was hanged, and the lady herself died a few weeks following her husband's return. Her dream lives on in a poem by Whittier and a story by Harriet Chesney. La Tour married his rival's widow, and for 'diplomatic reasons' became a British subject.
The story of St. John is cast in barbaric colours during the hundred years that it was a trading post visited by passing sailors and soldiers of fortune from many lands, and for ever the scene of the jealous little wars of fur traders.
Then French Acadia was given by the Treaty of Utrecht to Great Britain. In 1762 came the first valiant Loyalists–a few families from Massachusetts under the leadership of Captain Francis Peabody. A little later arrived James Simonds, William Hazen and James White, all notable pioneers. The old Hazen house built in 1773 is yet standing, much renovated, at the corner of Simonds and Brook Streets. In 1783 there landed twenty shiploads of United Empire Loyalists. Market Slip where they disembarked may look more picturesque to-day–a ribbon of water lined with shipping, great buildings as a background–but to the Loyalists it was a hope. They built St. John and built it well.
Pictures of this era would show robust gentlemen like the renowned James Simonds, of whom the Venerable Archdeacon Raymond writes in his record of Pioneer Days, who brought the first English bride to the port. She was one of the three lovely daughters of Captain Peabody, who himself served with distinction at the siege of Quebec a few years before. Early marriages were the rule, and so were large families. Sarah Le Baron of Plymouth, Massachusetts, was only sixteen when she married William Hazen, and James Simonds' wife was little older. They filled their long lives full of the many interests of fast-growing families and the adventures of a young and thriving community.
There was a motley crew encamped about this Post. The Indians, the original French Acadians, and the workmen who had come with the Loyalists were on the whole wonderfully friendly with one another. Hard times threatened, but did not overcome them. The Loyalists believed that they could conquer the land and even defeat the tides. A pageantry of labour ensued.
For always the land had been harassed by the tides of the Bay of Fundy; murmuring, menacing all devouring tides, full of mystery and fate for the first comers. James Simonds and his companion, White, organized a tremendous enterprise with the result that an aboideau was built, and other dykes were made, and the great marshes of Tantramar were redeemed from the water. Industry was encouraged and paid for. Building operations were begun, and the first warehouses raised in expectation of the industry in shipping. The Loyalists also made themselves stately homes of the colonial type. There were bursts of social gaiety, as when the Duke of York moved his Court for a short time from Halifax to St. John. And there was the 'old Coffee House' where the merchants of those days used to gather. To-day the Bank of Montreal stands on a spot that they say was originally bought for a Spanish doubloon and a gallon of old Jamaica. As the city of the Loyalists grew rich through its enormous lumber trade, and famous for fast sailing ships, one can imagine how far reaching became the stories told in the taverns!
"THERE ARE DREAMS GO DOWN THE HARBOUR WITH THE TALL SHIPS OF ST. JOHN."
In 1784, New Brunswick, which had been a part of Nova Scotia, became a separate Province, and a Royal Charter was granted to the city of St. John. It was a quaint document. To the Mayor was given the office of "garbling of Spices, and the right to appoint the bearer of the great beam," while the important clauses regarding fishing and fowling rights are set out in language suitable to the Letters Patent of the Hudson Bay Company. Ward Chipman, the maker and recorder of this same Charter, was also Counsel for the Crown. We hear of his successful attempt to abolish the practice of slavery in New Brunswick. Thus did the 'adherents of despotism,' as the much abused Loyalists were dubbed, accomplish a reform sixty years before the people of the United States. In the stately old Trinity Church there is an interesting memorial of those days in the Royal Coat of Arms removed by the expatriated Loyalists from the Council Chamber of the Town Hall of Boston.
To-day there is not a great deal in the outward aspect of the place to remind one of a romantic past. St. John is sufficiently picturesque in herself, and beautiful enough in natural surroundings to make one fully content with the present. Still at the foot of Middle Street, in West St. John, may be seen the remains of earth works, marking the site of Fort La Tour erected in 1631. But, alas, the Electric Light Station now stands on the site of the old French Burial Ground where lay Governor Villebon and the heroic Lady La Tour. Indeed the city does not even possess a statue in honour of the latter. Everyone goes to see the old Burial Ground lying near King Square, once on the outskirts of the town and still tree guarded, where many of the founders of St. John are buried. The Court House is an elderly and dignified building that fortunately escaped the fire of 1877 which destroyed two-thirds of the city.
In the two beautiful city Squares, King and Queen, a good deal of the life of the city centres. Many of the prominent houses are nearby, and still on summer evenings that almost archaic entertainment, a band concert, may be enjoyed.
King Square, which in any other town would be called a Park, is that level plot situated at the head of King Street and extending to Sydney. Therein the visitor finds a splendid monument erected to the memory of Sir S. L. Tilley, who was twice Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick and at one time Finance Minister of Canada. The statue is the work of Phillippe Hébert of Montreal, the Canadian sculptor. There is also a statue to a brave youth who during a wild storm, lost his life in a fruitless effort to save a boy from drowning. The Court House faces on this Square.
In Queen Square, Champlain, eager even in cold bronze, points triumphantly to his harbour, and the old French cannon from Fort La Tour has been set up.
On Carlton Hill a Martello tower was erected to mark a certain preparedness in 1812. It is one of several examples of a romantic type of architecture to be found in Canadian towns and cities. This one was built by the Royal Engineers, then stationed in St. John, who made its walls of stone fully six feet thick.
"TO MARK A CERTAIN PREPAREDNESS."
Visitors to St. John may some day enquire about a book shop kept in the '60's by 'Messrs. Fillimore and De Mille.' That is if they are admirers of "The Dodge Club Abroad." Some day a literary or historic society may go even farther, and actually look up the house in which James De Mille was born in 1833, if by chance it still remains, and note it by a name-plate. For here lived a pioneer of literature in this land who served well his day and generation. It was in 1868 that the Harpers published a serial which is believed by authorities to be a forerunner of Mark Twain's "Innocents Abroad." The work reappeared in book form, running through thirty or forty editions. For fifty years the publishers have steadily sold it, and are still selling it. Like the work of Haliburton its life is in its humour. But De Mille wrote a more notable work in "The Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder." As Canada then had no publishing houses he sent what he wrote abroad, and found a wide public. But he lived and worked in his own country. His father was a well to do ship-owner and merchant of St. John, and a Puritan of the Puritans. A student of Acadia College, De Mille afterwards married Anne Pryor, a daughter of the first President of Acadia, and two years later was called to the Classical Chair which he resigned to take that of English literature at Dalhousie, Halifax.
As remembrance the permanent pictures of St. John have to do with her unique setting. She can transport you, in a morning's drive through Rockwood Park, to Scottish hills and gemlike lakes. An hour later you are on the Atlantic seaboard, facing dancing waves, or else black rocks and tawny sands if the tide is out. The fascination of her rivers is inexhaustible. The 'Reversing Falls' is of course one of the wonders of the world, and any guide book will explain the action and reaction of the swirling waters in the winding gorge. But to be interesting it should remain a mystery. I remember two great bridges, shelter houses and rainy weather. I remember that waiting for the tide, staring at red mud where I had imagined glittering waters, seemed more awesome than the spectacle itself, and the rocks, like those of Niagara, more wonderful than the waters.
We sailed out of the harbour for Boston, as so many from the shores of New Brunswick have sailed, bound by the friendship of many a year. I thought of Bliss Carman and his love for his "port of heroes;" "the barren reaches by the tide," "the long dykes with uneasy foam," "the marshes full of the sea." Footsteps of beauty haunt one here, partly because his poetry had haunted one's childhood. In departing we journeyed with him–
Past the light-house, past the nun-buoy,
Past the crimson rising sun.
There are dreams go down the harbour
With the tall ships of St. John.
VI. Fredericton–The Celestial City
VI. Fredericton–The Celestial City
AND some miles up the river one comes upon the capital of New Brunswick, Fredericton, lying all blue and gold in the sun, encircled by her hills and rivers.
The traveller sees a peaceful yet thriving place, a cathedral city as well as a capital, the military centre of the Province, the seat of the Supreme Judiciary and of the Provincial University. He knows that it is also a centre of lumber trade, and a summer paradise on account of good roads, good fishing, and the joys of motor boating.
The historian harks us back to the days of Villebon, when the site of the present city was an Acadian settlement called St. Anne's Point. It was an Indian camping place as well, and down the St. John came the canoes of the Malicetes, piled with beaver skins. They came to trade with the gentlemen adventurers of France. Villebon, Governor of all Acadia, made the fort just opposite St. Anne's at the Nashwaak's mouth his citadel, in place of the abandoned Fort Royal. No one pretended to look for peace in those days. If it was not the Indians it was the New Englanders. Villebon had a certain 'old Ben Church' and his fleet of New England vessels to fight. But the Nashwaak guns were too many for them.
Generations later the Loyalists built St. John, and when New Brunswick was made a Province, the first Governor, Thomas Carleton, must have remembered the ancient prowess of St. Anne and her invincible fort, for he made Fredericton its capital. In a little building still standing near the present Queen's Hotel, known as the King's Provision Store, the General Assembly met for its third session in July 1788. Two years before the first sermon ever preached in the settlement was delivered here. It was later remarked by the Rev. Samuel Cooke, the Rector, that the inhabitants of Fredericton number four hundred, "of whom one hundred attend church, but many of ye common sort prefer to go fishing."
I do not know who first named Fredericton the Celestial City, but I think it must have been a poet, for the vision of the poet includes all that the historian knows and all that the traveller sees. That vivid background, Indian haunted and pierced by the conquering note of the French, sharpens his imagination, but he also feels the romance of his city of to-day.
The shimmering waters that surround it, rimmed by green hills, suggest to him certain celestial qualities. They imply a life of leisured intellectual pursuit, an unhurried happy state that seems to mark this community as a thing apart from the usual scramble of modern life.
In a charming account of his early home, written by Charles G. D. Roberts years ago and never before published, the well-known poet and short story writer describes the beautiful setting of Fredericton. "Drawn about her, the broad and gleaming crescent of the St. John, and opposite to her wharves the lovely tributary streams, the Nashwaak and the Nashwaaksis."
To look over the city from the cupola windows of the University buildings, across Queen's Park and the spires of the church steeples, piercing the elm tops half a mile away, is to see far. Beyond the house roofs there is the blue sweep of the river and the white villages of St. Mary's and Gibson, and further still the town of Marysville where the lumber king, Alexander Gibson, rules his domain. The blue river is often dotted with the sails of wood boats. To quote Mr. Roberts again, "Here and there puffs a neighbouring tug, towing an acre or two of dark rafts, or a gang of scows piled high with yellow deals. On all sides is evidence that Fredericton is the centre of the lumber industry . . . The scene is one that fills the eye with gracious colour and harmonious composition. In the Autumn when the trees flame out with amber and scarlet and aerial purple, when the air swims with a faint violet haze, the picture is one that neither the painter's brush nor the poet's pen can do more than dimly suggest."
"THAT QUAINT, RED BRICK HOUSE, THE RECTORY."
A gentle charm lies everywhere. I remember the overhanging elm trees, which it seems to me should be part of every Cathedral town. The Cathedral itself, though small and plain to the point of austerity, is one of the most perfect examples of Gothic architecture on the continent. Queen Street, with shops on one side and lawns and trees and river glimpses on the other, is equally typical of tranquil Fredericton. Speaking of the public buildings on Queen Street, Mr. Roberts refers to "the severe gray pile of the Barracks where the men drill behind high walls, that the glints of their scarlet may not bedazzle the passing demoiselles."
The favourite residence portion of the city is within clear call of the Cathedral bells. Here are most of the handsome houses and the well kept grounds. Below the Cathedral, where the street runs close to the water's edge, where the bank is lined with willows, where rafts tie up at night along the shore, and where the houses all look out across the river, there stands a dwelling which should be dear to American hearts. The author of "Lob-Lie-by-the-Fire" and "The Story of a Short Life" is beloved of her compatriots. This plain brown house, with the bow windows and the river view, is full of memories of Juliana Horatia Ewing who lived here while her husband, a major in an English regiment, was stationed at Fredericton. Another guest not so highly distinguished lived a few hundred yards below Mrs. Ewing's house, Benedict Arnold, great General and great traitor. At the creek's mouth near his house, he built small vessels for the river trade.
But the house best known and loved by Canadians in general, naturally within clear call of the Cathedral bells, is the Rectory of the Cathedral, that quaint red brick house now famous as the Roberts' homestead. Here lived the Rev. George Goodridge Roberts, Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, with his wife Emma Wetmore Bliss, and here Charles G. D., the eldest son, a daughter, Elizabeth, Mrs. S. A. R. MacDonald, Theodore Goodridge, a younger brother, and their cousin, Bliss Carman, all grew up in the happy atmosphere of the Rectory.
Lloyd Roberts says, "It is any day, any month of the year–for what are seasons among friends?–when word goes round among the Clan that the Rectory is entertaining. That means four hours of undiluted joy, of unrestrained exuberance, a democracy of action that sets aside little differences and tumbles everyone helter skelter into the common basket of enjoyment . . . There is no master of ceremonies. Possibly the youngest and noisiest–probably yourself–shouts for 'My ship came home from India,' and the evening is off to a glorious start. How the dust flies from the flowered carpet and the black horsehair sofa! How the knicknacks tremble on whatnot and mantel! How the framed pictures of the animals disembarking from the ark and of Abraham offering up Isaac, sway on their wires until they hang askew! And this is the drawing-room where one came and went sedately on ordinary week days, careful not to disarrange furniture or leave a cushion awry. Grandpa's explosive gusts, that would have shaken walls less thick, are topped by shrieks and children's trebles until all is pandemonium and the neighbours, half a block off, shake their heads sympathetically over their knitting."
"THE OLD GOVERNMENT HOUSE, FREDERICTON."
Mrs. C. F. Fraser has written a delightful account of the Rectory in the days of "dear Rector Roberts," as he was affectionately called by the town. "He was," Mrs. Fraser tells us, "a scholarly gentleman of old English descent. Of winter evenings the favourite gathering place was about the great centre table in the sitting-room, where the young people were wont to read aloud for each other's amusement the rhymes or stories which the day had called forth. . . . In summer weather the great old-fashioned garden, haunt of all fragrant and time-honoured flowers, was the favourite spot. There in and about the hammocks with their cousin, Bliss Carman, extending his great length on the turf below, and shaggy Nestor, wisest and most understanding of household dogs, wandering about from one to another for a friendly word or pat, and a score of half tame wild birds fluttering and twittering in the trees above, the young people did indeed see visions and dream dreams. It is of this scented garden that Elizabeth, the sister, too frail to companion her stirring brothers in the active sports in which they delighted, sings so beautifully in many of her poems."
Associated with the academic life of Fredericton for sixteen years, and a vital force in Bliss Carman's career, as in that of so many of his students now scattered world-wide, was Sir George Robert Parkin, the well known educator, author, and lecturer on Imperial Federation.
To a sportsman and naturalist the environs of Fredericton, its great forests and the waters, are of more importance than the town itself. The moonlit nights of October are the time for moose-calling; and still in the wild part of the woods, bears, lynx and wild-cats are to be found. The great salmon waters of the Miramichi, and the trout waters of the Tobique, the Squateooks or Green River, the cock and snipe covers and partridge grounds are all fairyland to the hunter as well as to the writer. Out of such a background have come great stories such as "The Heart of the Ancient Wood," "Kindred of the Wild" and "Earth's Enigmas" by Charles G. D. Roberts. The Rev. H. A. Cody of St. John has written a good lumbering story in the "Fourth Watch," and the woods of New Brunswick have attracted other than our native writers. Dr. Henry Van Dyke has used them for many an essay and story, and so has Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, the Philadelphian novelist, in "When All the Woods are Green," a charming idyll of out of door life on the Restigouche.
It may be that only one out of every hundred of the travellers who tarry at the Port of St. John, knows the ancient lovely Capital of the Province, for Fredericton has not yet been discovered by the tourist. Charles G. D. Roberts says that is because "she has sat long aloof, Narcissus-like, admiring her own image in her splendid threshold of water, too loftily indifferent to proclaim her merits to the world."
VII. Ottawa–A Towered Town
VII. Ottawa–A Towered Town
OTTAWA, the capital of Canada, has been called "The Washington of the North." No comparison could be wider of the mark. Ottawa is as far removed from Washington as from Rome or Gibraltar. It is true that the thought of a European town may dimly arise in the mind of the observer as he feels the domination of the Gothic Tower on Parliament Hill, and is aware of the lordly mass of buildings set out in splendour on the promontory jutting into the river. But the effect is not continental. The true traveller will tell you that is essentially, almost indescribably, Canadian. Waterfalls, rivers, canals, locks, bordering forests, ridges of glorious rock–these form an essential part of the picture of Ottawa. A wine-like, bracing air gives her the divine essence of youth. Her classic buildings are only the mental side of her.
Like all capitals, Ottawa has to talk a great deal. But since 1914 she has learned some silences. Then too she has for years been loved by a little race, nearly always lost among the talkers, the alien race of poets. Ottawa, indeed, is a mingling of politicians and poets,–Macdonald, Tupper and Laurier, but also Lampman, Campbell and Scott. If there had not been a poet in Macdonald and in Laurier, Canada would have been less a land than she is. Had there not been a moulder and maker in Scott and in Campbell, their poetry would have missed its mark.
I am glad that the statue of Galahad, the shining boy who typifies, in this case, the willingness of Canadian youth to give its life for a friend, was standing on Parliament Hill for years before 1914. I think that many a soldier going out to the greatest war may have saluted it in passing.
Nature has added a note from some pagan pipe to the organ-like grandeur of Ottawa; the tossing waterfalls, the rocky ways, encroaching even into city boulevards, are enchanting. And the Rideau Canal and useful necessary locks are a pretty touch. The locks at the foot of Parliament Hill are like a sort of giant stairway. An American tourist and writer once said: "Usually a canal is a disfigurement, but the Rideau is different: it is a decorative feature and a source of endless entertainment. People stand for hours on the bridges above it or on the masonry coping of the locks, watching the boats lazily climb the stairs, while the skippers' wives nurse their babies on deck."
Champlain, who left a splendid legacy of Indian names to many of our cities, saw the site of the present Capital in 1619 and because of the seething waterfall named it "Asticou," Indian for boiling. The French afterwards translated that into "Chaudière." But the Chaudière danced and gleamed in the sunlight and was silenced by many a Canadian winter before the magic word Electricity was understood, or even the prefacing notes of Electric Force, Water-Power, were dimly realized.
But there was the national asset of lumber to be considered, and about a century ago, Hull, just across the river in Quebec country, was begun as headquarters of the trade, and in 1827, the pioneer settler in what grew into Bytown, now lower Ottawa, built the first house. The heights where the Parliament buildings stand were not even considered until nearly thirty years later, when Bytown was made a city, her name changed to Ottawa, and the beautiful heights included in her boundaries.
The story of the choosing of Ottawa as the Capital is historic. It need only be recalled that Queen Victoria was asked to arbitrate between the claims of four rival cities: Quebec, Montreal, Kingston and Toronto. Before this time the Capital had been a movable feast, so the wisest of ladies chose the picturesque dark horse, Ottawa which was on the border of Ontario and Quebec, and safely removed from another border that was not so friendly a line as it is to-day. In 1860 the then Prince of Wales, afterwards Edward VII, laid the corner stone of the Parliament Buildings, and modern Canada may be said to have begun.
There are certain points of resemblance between Ottawa and Quebec, with a modicum of difference.
In both places one is obliged to think in terms of an Upper and Lower town. When I stand on the Dufferin Terrace and watch the sun set on Levis, I am irresistibly reminded of evenings on Parliament Hill, and masses of pink clouds and level purple rays lying on French-Canadian Hull, just across the river from Ottawa.
Lower Quebec harks back two hundred years. There is a less obvious and perhaps even more subtle charm about the old Bytown canal that winds away from Parliament Hill with its century old suggestion of quaintnesses forgotten in the life of to-day.
Where the splendid Chateau Laurier,
On the old canal, looks down.
"WHERE THE SPLENDID CHATEAU LAURIER ON THE OLD CANAL LOOKS DOWN."
Unimproved roads, coal sheds, old wharves, these are here for anybody to see. But it takes one with a spirit of the real explorer to find, in the solidly-built rough stone warehouses and dilapidated buildings, echoes of the old canal trade and the ancient commerce of Bytown which made it an inland lake-port during the early and middle nineteenth century.
William Wilfred Campbell, ardent lover of Ottawa, relates history of Bytown, where, he says, the entry to the waterside, through the stone arches of these old warehouses, suggests the comings and goings of generations of commerce and the long journeys by water-ways ere the necessities and luxuries of daily life could reach their destination. "Upon these old rotting wharf-sides have landed coal from Pennsylvania; building stone from the south; and all sorts of commodities coarse and fine from the outside world. The imagination revives memories of the old Muscovado sugars and syrups, the coffees and spices of the West and East Indies, the Young Hyson and Ceylon teas from the far East and the raisins and other delights dear to our vanished childhood and that of our parents and grandparents. Here toiled generations of men of a slower, surer, more exact and careful type than exists to-day. There yet lingers in those few solid, low, less pretentious old buildings, with their plain but useful interiors, the memory of the old time office clerk in his alpaca coat, quaint dignity, and scorn of haste, who wrote in his fine clerkly hand, with his steel pen, his daily dole of strictly honest accounts. . . . That was an era of the strong and simple hinge and lock, of the closely-mated, well-seasoned and well-wrought panel, and small but picturesque window-pane, with a similar condition in individual character and national and religious outlook. It was an age inimical to anything shoddy, for as all was done by hand the reputation of both master and man was at stake."
In those days there were few houses in what was called Middle Town; and from near what is now Connaught Place a pathway wound over the hill to Upper Town. At each end of this path was a turn-stile, and this was the only means of approach for many a year. North on the cliff were the Soldiers' Barracks, and the town gaol–while on the east side of the Sapper's Bridge was a lodge and gate which was the entrance to Mayor's Hill, where was the residence of the Military Commander.
Mr. Campbell tells how on balmy April mornings, in these modern days, he loved to linger here "when the din of mallet and hammer and voices" recommenced, and the renewing of the winter craft went on until they would one by one slip out "to disappear in the grey of the dawn down the Ottawa or up the canal to Kingston and beyond out on the Great Lakes, some of them to join the host of the floundered or wrecked never to return. The 'Kingston Maid,' the 'Water Witch,' the 'Rideau Belle,' the very names are relics of a kaleidoscopic vanishing dream in the insurgent wave of the grimly common-place."
So much for the oldest Ottawa. But there are landmarks near Parliament Hill familiar to the present generation that are fast disappearing. The Château Laurier, situated to the left of the Parliament Buildings is a palatial hotel. But our fathers loved the Russell House, to which "a good share of parliament went when it adjourned." Here is a picture as old-fashioned as the hostel itself, though it was written only a few years ago. The writer says: "There is a touch of almost arrogant opulence about the Russell. Over the Rotunda there is a dome which contains in stained-glass designs the coats-of-arms and mottoes of the various provinces. In the dining-room there is an orchestra. The waiters are in evening dress constantly. Here you are more likely to discover the man you want than almost anywhere else in Ottawa, except up at Parliament. Here may be found the moccasined man and the shoepacker; the river-driver with his pipe and his guernsey; the mining prospector and the lumberman; the hockey enthusiast and the Cabinet Minister."
The Rideau and the Chaudière are harnessed for commercial purposes; their beauty has been abased, unless by some stretch of imagination, lumber, and the urgent voice and ugly body of saw mills, can be overlooked.
The Parkway along the Rideau is another matter. It is a beautiful drive through parterres of lawns, foliage and flower beds. Here on a summer afternoon the Highway is thronged with motors and the waterway with craft, the drive ending in the magnificent five-hundred-acre Experimental Farm.
Variety is one of the charms of Ottawa. The extent of her water frontages alone would secure this. The Ottawa, here wide, there narrow, flows along the length of the city, and the Rideau encircles the greater part of it, joining the Ottawa in a huge bound of rocky cliff. The Gatineau enters on another side. Hence the possibilities for gorgeous natural adornment are unparalleled.
The Civil Service of the Canadian Government has held a group of poets who have paid full tribute to the town they loved. W. Wilfred Campbell, was one of these. Archibald Lampman was another. His career was all too brief. One of his friends was Duncan Campbell Scott, a native of Ottawa and himself an inspired poet. The Roberts' family is linked to Ottawa by the residence here of Mrs. George Goodridge Roberts, Mrs. S. A. R. MacDonald and a grandson and nephew, Lloyd Roberts, who sustains the literary tradition of his family and adds a distinctive note of his own. E. W. Thompson, noted for his depictions of Indian and French-Canadian life, has for years been associated with the literary circles of Ottawa. The western poet and novelist, Robert Stead, is also now a resident.
It has been rumoured that Ottawa is cold at heart, unsympathetic to strangers, wrapped in her social round as the place of Vice-Regal residence and the meeting ground of politicians. I like to think of her in the words of Duncan Campbell Scott:
City about whose brow the north winds blow,
Gilded with woods, and shod with river foam,
Called by a name as old as Troy or Rome,
. . . . . . .
Thou art too bright for guile, too young for tears,
And thou wilt live to be too strong for time;
For he may mock thee with his furrowed frowns,
But thou wilt grow in calm throughout the years,
Cinctured with peace and crowned with power sublime,
The maiden queen of all, the towered town.
VIII. Toronto–A Place of Meeting
VIII. Toronto–A Place of Meeting.
NARROW streets, soaring skyscrapers, large bright-red street cars, innumerable impatient motors, crowds on the pavements, crowds in the trolleys, crowds in the shops. And over the whirlpool of King and Yonge an invisible presence, the damp breath of the lake.
Travellers from everywhere, lodged for a moment in one of the down-town hotels, from bedroom windows high over the roof tops catch a glimpse of shipping, a sheltering expanse of Island guarding the harbour, and through the hum of the city hear the sound of a chime of English bells from the tower of St. James or of the Metropolitan Church.
From the blue of her southern boundary, the Bay to the green of the high ridge that is her northern threshold, lies Toronto–seething with activity. A half dozen blocks north of King and Yonge Streets there is a spot of concentrated fury where Queen Street cuts across, and great departmental stores draw a steady stream of shoppers from the four ends of the city. Slightly to the east is the Massey Music Hall, the centre of musical activity for the Province, and near this point some of the big publishing houses are situated. There are miles of shops, and in some districts of factories; street after street in which the brass plates of doctors and dentists label almost every house; banks are nearly as prevalent as drug stores; a great city of a hospital rears up almost sheer out of the pavement on College Street. Its neighbour, the Conservatory of Music, draws an average attendance of thousands of students a year.
And then there is a sudden blossoming of gray stone buildings, interspersed with a few of unfriendly brick, set among trees–the University of Toronto in Queen's Park. Here the old Alma Mater, founded in 1827, the original grey stone building erected in 1856, still excels in beauty her fast-growing family. The tower and carved stone doorway are among the most perfect examples of Norman architecture on the continent. Hart House, a club for graduates and undergraduates, also of gray stone, with magnificent hall for dining, libraries, study rooms, gymnasium and Little Theatre is a great students' centre. Hart House is Toronto's gigantic modern flower of early-English architecture, a building unique in perfection on this continent.
The city sweeps up the hill. The traveller finds at the head of Avenue Road the famous old Eton of Ontario, Upper Canada College, founded in 1829, the preparatory school of many of the outstanding men of the Dominion.
"THE CARVED STONE DOORWAY."
He finds to the east of this Hill Road, Rosedale, one of the most picturesque residential sections of any modern city. Houses of a hundred modes of architecture but, strange fact, all interesting and harmonious are built on sites for the most part overlooking ravines. Not small, well ordered ravines but deep, wooded, lush ferny, brook-haunted bits of wilderness; living pools of green in summer with lights, seen from bridges or casement-windows, like glow-worms faintly illuminating far depths. In winter there is a tangle of frozen branches, or dark trees making slender etchings against the gray sky. Government House–a huge pile–stands at the easterly end of Rosedale.
West of Avenue Road, on the Hill top, runs the wide St. Clair Avenue, and directly north and south of it is the Hill section proper. Houses such as "Bellevue," "Glen Edythe," the Nordheimer residence, "Ravenswood," a site now occupied by "Ardwold," the magnificent town house of the late Sir John Eaton, have, for half a century, looked through trees that were part of a primeval forest over a growing city to the rim of water miles away. The modern castle of Sir Henry Pellatt, westward on the same ridge, stands feudal-like, its feet plunged into a huddle of dingy little streets.
So Toronto, humming on its commercial way, sometimes surprises one with a lyric or an epic touch.
"THE WHIRLPOOL OF KING AND YONGE."
Trees-in-the-water–so the Indians saw and named it as they sighted from their low-riding canoes the long stretch of sandy land that is called The Island.
Gentle folk were the Mississaugas, who loved the Valley of the Humber and there pitched their tents and invited their friends. A Place of Meeting, they called the little encampment, and there was prophecy in the name. The French also observed the location. A trading post, Fort Rouille, was established in 1748. In 1878 the site became the ground of the Industrial Exhibition Association of Toronto–a Meeting Place for a million people every September.
The French are as fond of seizing a strategic position as the next people. And they had secured one here at the southern end of the fur trade route from Georgian Bay via Lake Simcoe. Nevertheless the first small garrison was withdrawn to aid the defence of Niagara against the British. Then, with the passing of the French regime, and in 1793, the Old Fort was chosen as the site of the future capital of Upper Canada.
Governor Simcoe, with his officials and some troops from Niagara, established themselves facing the beautiful Bay with its sheltering sandy shoals and its comfortable distance from the frontier. A little town was laid out, re-named York, and its streets were sedately christened after the Royal Family, as any good street should be in the gallant days of the Loyalists. There was Caroline and Frederick and George, and Princess and Palace and King and Duke and Duchess.
But Governor Simcoe laid out his toy town with the idea of extension in his mind, and he planned three main roads which his rangers proceeded to open up. Westward and south the road led to Niagara and was named after Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville. Eastward was the Kingston Road, and the third leading north to Lake Simcoe was named after Sir George Yonge, a personal friend of Simcoe. And these roads remain unchanged in name as the old down-town streets do in their perambulations. But the Royal names have been discarded in all but a few instances.
Little wars, small military episodes, flashed fire upon those early days. The town was sufficiently embroiled in the War of 1812 as to be captured by the Americans in 1813 and held for eleven days. The Parliament Buildings were burned, the fortifications attacked and worst of all the invading troops were billeted upon indignant citizens. The ladies of York were all in a flutter. When the enemy retired there was a much-relieved meeting in Jordan's Hotel, on King Street. A block house built at this period still stands on the Old Fort Road.
Jordan's Hotel was dear to the hearts of York. Dr. Henry Scadding in his delightful "Toronto of Old" says that in 1820 this tavern "looked antique compared with the Mansion House put up beside it." One of the few town pump stations was nearby. The Half-Way House, built in 1816, was a favourite resort of soldiers. It bore a famous sign:
Within this hive we're all alive,
Good liquor makes us funny,
If you be dry step in and try
The flavour of our honey.
The important dwelling houses of the town were built in the vicinity of what is now Front Street, though Beverley House, the home of Judge Beverley Robinson (and temporarily of Lord Sydenham) was some blocks further north. The Denisons built Bellevue House on Queen Street in 1815, and The Grange was erected two years later by Mr. D'Arcy Boulton, whose daughter-in-law married Goldwin Smith. The first summer residence of York was Castle Frank, which Governor Simcoe erected on the brow of a hill overlooking the Don Valley. It was a picturesque log house, with a narrow carriage road leading from the town to the bushland retreat. Along this road many parties of cavaliers and ladies used to wend their way from the town to picnics and fêtes on summer days and nights gone a century ago.
Colonial York–gay, muddy, adventurous and British to the core–holds picturesque pages. Anison North has given interesting glimpses of these days in "The Forging of the Pikes" a novel of the Mackenzie Rebellion. She writes of St. James Cathedral on a Sunday morning in 1837. Stained windows, deep transepts, high pews, people "arriving in crowds, some in very fine coaches with footmen . . . the women were quite fine enough in their silk gowns and Paisley shawls and gay bonnets . . . soon I came to know where sat the Baldwins, the Powells, the Jarvises, the Ridouts, the Boultons, the Cawthras, and many others, including Chief Justice Robinson himself, who was one of the handsomest men I ever saw."
With the Rebellion of 1837 the Colonial Period ended. Five years before the name of York had been replaced by the early Toronto and through the magic that sometimes lies in names it cast off outward sedateness, and with it perhaps inherent joviality, and, swift-footed as the Indian tribe that first christened it, the young town entered upon that race for the conquest of everything in sight that still distinguishes it. A bright Runner in a straight line is Toronto. The early trees-in-the-water, streets in the water, mud, uncertainty–all this solidified into cement, and proper parks, and great discernment as to enterprise of all sorts.
The Rebellion of William Lyon Mackenzie and his supporters, who objected to the administration of public affairs by the Family Compact, was quickly subdued, and a few rebels hanged in the jail-yard. In 1866 there was the Fenian Raid, and the Fenians too were bound to retire. The progress of Toronto was not to be stayed by this sort of thing. It ran brightly on, punctuated all along the way by a steady influx of retired farmers, villagers, townsfolk the Province over; by the acquisition of great manufacturing plants and the constant building up of schools, so that as wealth makes wealth, this magnetic power increased upon itself and it came to pass that in little more than a century the half million mark is passed.
"Toronto–a Place of Meeting," said the gentle Mississaugas.
"Toronto–a safe site," echoed Governor Simcoe.
A good deal Canadian in atmosphere, a little American in manner, wholly British in feeling, Toronto is a stimulating city in which to live and work. If, swift early Runner, it struts a little now as it grows, that phase too will pass. Once an adopted daughter, Isabella Valancy Crawford, a pioneer Canadian poet, wrote of Toronto who had systematically ignored her.
She hears the marching centuries which Time
Leads up the dark peaks of Eternity:
The pulses of past warriors bound in her;
The pulses of dead sages beat in her;
The pulses of dead merchants stir in her.
Already the 'pulses of past warriors.' The South African Memorial by Walter Allward, the Toronto sculptor, stands on University Avenue, just south of the Armouries. In point of value to the city it is, so far as a single work of art is concerned, the greatest treasure. Here is the young mother, Canada, sending out her sons to battle for the Empire. The greatest art contains not only beauty but revelation. The gesture of Canada, who had sent but few sons when this monument was raised to celebrate a peace, expresses readiness for any future. And when the doors of the Armouries opened on a midsummer noon of August 1914, and the first men of the First Contingent marched out and down the Avenue on their way to Camp, the most vital figure on the crowded thoroughfare was Allward's young Canada–looking out into the distance, hearing the first footsteps go by to the awful war, knowing that there would be increasing footsteps to follow. Crowning the granite shaft, with wings outstretched and arms uplifted, is an angel of victory over-topping the mother and her sons.
'Centres' of commerce, art or education, taken singly or in combination, make great cities. Toronto has always possessed them. After the primitive centres of a hundred years had faded, and the famous houses and public buildings and warehouses of even half a century ago were changing, there came the new meeting places of the eighties and nineties.
The 'Sage of The Grange,' Professor Goldwin Smith was known the English-speaking world over as a brilliant if caustic philosopher and critic. He used to gather visitors of note from many places in the fine old house standing so grandly on its tree-decked lawns. The same house, now remodelled, again opens its doors. Now the visitors are lovers of pictures, for this is the Toronto Art Museum in which, during the winter season, many Views are held, exhibitions of the work of Canadian artists interspersed by loan collections of foreign pictures.
Algernon Blackwood, the English novelist, in a letter to the writer says "Beverley Street recalls my student days in Toronto when I used to go up and down that quiet street to haunt the garden of The Grange. Can you still hear the crows and the rooks in those mighty trees?"
Trinity College, out on Queen Street, beautiful of design, was a fit setting for the residence of Professor William Clarke, an Englishman whose brilliant lectures on literature endeared him to a generation of Canadians.
And there was a certain dingy office in a lane-like street that was also a centre in the early eighties. "The Week" was founded by Goldwin Smith, with Charles G. D. Roberts as its first editor. The names of Lampman, Bliss Carman, W. W. Campbell and other distinguished writers appear frequently. It is interesting to know that in those early days the woman editor was already in evidence. We find that Mrs. J. W. F. Harrison, known by her pen name 'Seranus,' was the musical and then the literary editor. Sara Jeanette Duncan, of Brantford, the well-known novelist, was also an editor.
To-day the varied life of Toronto is made up of many centres of as many interests. I leave to guide books and histories the list of her public buildings and industries. Other phases of her life enchant me more. In the Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology, for instance, the collection of Chinese paintings and vases, among many other notable collections, is unique on this continent. Exploring those ancient blues and greens one forgets that this is a modern commercial and educational centre. An hour later, motoring in High Park, or roaming through acre after acre of its hills and dales, one is lost again amid blues and greens. Ten minutes by motor will bring one to a sort of censored Coney Island on the wide Lake Front Boulevard.
. . . . .
New airs for old! Yes,–but still along the sand dunes of the Island guarding the harbour, looking out over the blue wash of lake which holds a hope of harbour some day for sea-going vessels, there comes a whisper and the sound of the paddles of the first Indians–'Toronto–Place of Meeting.'
IX. Historic Backgrounds of Brantford
IX. Historic Backgrounds of Brantford
BRANTFORD from Tutela Heights is a pleasant panorama of roofs and spires, with a river meadow lying between the heights and the town. The spot is famous as the home of Alexander Graham Bell, and the municipality has secured thirteen acres of what was the Bell homestead as a public park.
A long, high hedge makes a sort of green tunnel to the front verandah of the quaint little white-washed house, and within you are shown a dreary refreshment room, flanked by models of certain unaccepted designs offered by various sculptors to the Committee of Selection for the Bell Memorial.
The Grand River, perambulating its gentle course from the blue hills near Georgian Bay to Lake Erie, has been loved by Indians, generations of settlers and decades of artists. But never in its joyous course through the loveliest lands of Ontario does it pass a more interesting spot than just here, at the turning of these heights, where half a century ago a pale boy, still in his twenties, used to haunt a quiet grape arbour and look down on the river. Behind his father's garden, across a little orchard, and so to the ravine-like bank he wandered with a great problem tormenting his mind night and day–that of the transference of the human voice through space, by means of what was then called 'electric speech.'
Dr. Bell's own words at the unveiling of the Memorial in his honour in 1917 tells the story. "I came to Brantford in 1870, having been given six months to live. I am glad that I survived to witness the unveiling of this Memorial. As I look back in time, I recall the Brantford of those days, the Grand River, my dream-place on Tutela Heights, where the vision came to my eyes. I never thought I would see such a Memorial as this erected here, to me, and to the invention itself. I cannot claim to be the inventor of the modern telephone. That is the product of many minds. I but initiated the transmission of sound. It was initiated here. So much has been said about it being invented in Boston. The telephone was invented here. It only acquired a physical existence in Boston . . . Too little is said of Brantford in the United States, for here, between Brantford and Paris, Ontario, the first message was sent over the first long distance line."
. . . . .
Farther down the river, eight miles or so, there is another historic house where a little later lived a genius of quite a different order. This is "Chiefswood," where on the ancient reserve of the Six Nations Indians their Chief, Onwanonsyshon, the father of Pauline Johnson, established his house.
"CHIEFSWOOD" ON THE ANCIENT RESERVE OF THE SIX NATIONS INDIANS.
This Brotherhood of what was originally known as the Five Nations is bound up with the early history of Canada. It was founded by Hiawatha four centuries ago in Jacques Cartier's time. When the early French explorers and missionaries came the name Iroquois cropped up. Yet Pauline Johnson's grandfather, a firm ally of the British both in French and Colonial feuds, was known as the Mohawk Warbler.
It was a romantic household, for Onwanonsyshon had married an English lady, one of the Howells, of whom the American descendant, W. D., is best known, and her surroundings must have been in picturesque contrast with her traditions. The Indians at this time still wore their native dress, and the ancient industries of weaving and basket-making prevailed. Their daughter, a princess of the tribe, Tekahionwake, her English name Pauline Johnson, loved the legends and poetry of her race, and through her personality and lyric gift made her impress on her day and generation. She made her debut in the early nineties as a poet-reciter, and many appearances in Great Britain, the United States and Canada followed. Thrilling was her effect. Dramatic the appeal of this dark-hued girl who seemed to personify her race. "It was the Indian who spoke," says one who heard her recite, "the Indian woman, as with intense passion she voiced the cry of her kindred."
From the Mohawk Chief, Joseph Brant, the town took its name. Shortly ago the world of art was reminded of him in the search for the portrait by Romney, painted in London about 1776. It was acquired by the Earl of Warwick, a friend of Brant, and hung in Warwick Castle for nearly a century. Finally, after keen competition, it was bought at Christies for the Canadian Government, and now hangs in the main gallery at Ottawa.
In his hunting dress, with white sleeves, colored sash, head-dress of red feathers and tomahawk in his hand, he was a picturesque subject for the brush of one of the greatest of portrait painters. As well as a warrior Brant was a statesman, and a sincere patriot. He had gone to England on a mission that appealed to English hearts at the time, to raise funds for his beloved (English) Mohawk church in Upper Canada.
And so it is fitting that he should sleep here, in the quiet of the little churchyard all fenced about with iron as befits a Chief, and just beside him, Onwanonsyshon. Nothing in Canada is more unique than the wooden church itself, made by the Mohawks themselves in a simple, almost austere design and dedicated by them to the Christian God. A silver communion service given to her loyal subjects by Queen Anne is still in use.
It was here, in the meadow just beyond this peaceful churchyard, that in 1869 an extraordinary ceremony was observed when Arthur, Duke of Connaught, then a young lad, was made and still remains the only living white Chief of the Six Nations Indians.
An interesting story is told of the occasion when, beside the English boy in his state carriage, rode Onwanonsyshon, on his jet black pony, "garmented in full native costume, buckskin and beaded moccasins, head band of feathers, silver ornaments and scarlet blanket," and how, riding along the dusty roads, the English Prince and the Chief ate grapes together joyously. And then on reaching the church the son of Queen Victoria suddenly found himself surrounded by braves and warriors of what must have seemed, to his English eyes, a truly ferocious type; their copper-coloured skins gleaming in the sun, brilliant with paints and gorgeous dyes, and carrying tomahawks and bows and arrows. An appalling war-whoop arose as the young guest stepped forward to meet them, then more deafening war cries, as hundreds of Indians filed by, preparatory to the inaugural ceremony performed by an ancient chief who had fought under Sir Isaac Brock at Queenston Heights in 1812.
In this ceremony the Constitution that Hiawatha had formed four centuries before was broken. For he decreed that fifty chiefs, no more no less, should form the Council of the Six Nations, and this day the first and last addition was made whereby Arthur of Connaught alone bears the right of the fifty-first title of the Iroquois.
Towards the centre of the town the Bell Memorial by Walter Allward has been placed; a great work in granite and bronze perpetuating the inventor and his accomplishment. Giant figures, the Speaker and the Listener, suggest the patience and the endurance of Man the Creator, who is symbolized in the panel on the crest of the Memorial, awake to his new found power to transmit sound through space. He sends out his thought in three floating figures; messengers of Knowledge, Joy and Sorrow.
A stone's throw from the Memorial one finds a large old fashioned house with a garden full of flowers. In the pleasant drawing-room there hangs a life-sized portrait of a young girl with serious eyes who is emphatically the courageaus Sara Jeanette Duncan, the late Mrs. Everard Cotes, author of "An American Girl in London" and other stories that made her famous while she was still in her twenties.
Norman Duncan, also a native of Brantford, is not related to Sara Jeanette. In no estimate of Canadian literature can his work be overlooked. A master of genre, his "Dr. Luke of the Labrador," and "The Mother" are among his finest novels.
Against a background of the Brotherhood of the Six Nations modern figures seem like youth dancing in a moment of time. But figures of certain men and women are never shadows dancing, but rather the living spirit of the environment in which their youth was spent. Brantford is romantic, though she is a busy and influential industrial centre, because of her backgrounds and her interesting personalities.
X. Golden Winnipeg
X. Golden Winnipeg
WINNIPEG–golden as her nearby grain-fields. Through the long sharp winters the sun supplies the gold. In the early spring it anticipates the promise of the rich earth. You say to yourself, "If anything should happen, shortage, danger, unexpected circumstance, here is our answer."
But I found the talk was all of Power–water-power–marvellous water-power.
A short distance to the north-east of the city, the Winnipeg river, collecting the waters from fifty-five thousand square miles of lake and forest, flows over a series of falls on its journey to Lake Winnipeg. Investigation decided the fact that the river was to do more. Gauging stations were established, scientific knowledge and activity were brought to bear, and now the undeveloped power of Winnipeg's shining water sounds like a dream.
Winnipeg's colour means strength, also it is flame-like and flame moves fast. That she is the centre of Canada, geographically speaking, and the gateway to the West, is an old story. But there is a much older story. It has to do with the first glimmering thought of our great golden Winnipeg which was born in a Frenchman who came up the Red River–the river of red willows–as early as 1731. He tried to build a fort, was ungently dissuaded by the Sioux, but returning five years later, made a palisaded trading post for furs, named Fort Rouge. Then he built Fort Reine; where Portage la Prairie stands to-day. But La Verendrye was looking for the western waterway of Indian fable and he travelled southward, and never returned to this land.
A history of forts and fur companies, savage warfare, cut-throat commerce–those were the early days. "Irregular" is a polite adjective for the methods of the North-West Company; and the "gentlemen adventurers" of the Hudson's Bay Company, who followed, were not much better. Lord Selkirk, a Scottish nobleman, taking advantage of bitter wrangles, bought a controlling interest in the Hudson's Bay Company, whose stock had fallen low, acquired what is now a portion of the Province of Manitoba and peopled it with his settlers. But he was outwitted by the North-West Company, and in 1816 came the terrible massacre at Seven Oaks. Afterwards there was a partial transfer of this section to Robert Logan.
In 1817 a band of French soldiers came to the rescue of the settlement then known as Fort Douglas. They remained for some time and made their headquarters on the east bank of the Red River. Here the first Catholic Mission was established and named St. Boniface. To-day a modern cathedral on the same site is the scene of the colourful ritual of the Roman Catholic Church.
Fort Garry, erected in 1835 by the Hudson's Bay Company, was in the early '70's pictured by Mr. William J. Morris, who made the trip by way of the United States with a stage drive of four hundred miles, as "an enclosure of stone wall some twenty feet high. Government House, not very long ago headquarters of the rebel chief Louis Riel, a log and clapboard dwelling, and servants' quarters which used to be storehouses for the Hudson's Bay Company."
The story of early times is as vivid as that of present day power.
"HERE THE FIRST CATHOLIC MISSION WAS ESTABLISHED AND NAMED ST. BONIFACE."
Stirring days were those, from 1812 to 1870, when the first Riel Rebellion was over and the Province of Manitoba was formed and had entered Confederation. Times of adventure that Canada will never experience again–when the wilderness said "no" and civilization answered "yes ;" when a bag of beaver skins or a string of coloured beads was worth a man's life, when there were no rails, no telegraph poles, no motors; when dog sleds in winter and ox-carts in summer made their long journeys through a silent, savage land. The date 1862, "first steamboat navigating the Upper Red River reaches Fort Garry," is more interesting than 1873, "Winnipeg Incorporated," but 1886, "First Railway Train over the C.P.R. from Montreal," is thrilling.
The story of "The Streets of Winnipeg" is told by Mary Hyslop in an interesting little book which shows us, for instance, why it is that in a flat country there should be a crook in Main Street. The river was the highway, and as the river bends the street takes on its angles. Main Street is a long trail, the outcome of a growth, not a laid-out town like the newer cities of the western plains. Portage Avenue is the oldest trail to Edmonton and the longest street in the world. In the early days it was travelled by ponies and the old Red River cart, a vehicle made entirely of wood, "which could be heard long before it came in sight." Notre Dame is of French ancestry, but Logan Avenue and the old Logan homestead have disappeared. This house marked the spot where the dead were laid from Seven Oaks. Here too Lord Selkirk stayed during his visit to the colony. Fortunately, the old Fonseca House still stands facing McDonald Street. The grounds harbour trees and lilac bushes, but the family of old Spanish descent live there no longer.
The very names of these streets are fascinating. One, changed to Elgin was formerly Jemima Street, after a famous hostess of the early days. And there is Colony Gardens, now Victoria Park, which was the centre of social life in the colony. South of Portage Avenue to the Assiniboine River lay the Hudson's Bay Reserve; so, naturally, its streets received the Company's names. History is also contained in the cross-streets south of Portage Avenue, Fort Street and Garry Street especially.
The half-breeds and the prairie wagons and the Royal Mounted Police. Later the railroad and the horse-cars and the problem of muddy streets. There was the Big Boom of 1881 and then the American invasion. Capitalists began to discover the Canadian West. Winnipeg was overtaken by eager days full of work, full of promise, full of enthusiasm. The golden tide had begun to rise and to surge in as though driven by some mighty natural force. Great Britain came to realize that here was a vantage point. In twenty years the population rose from thirty thousand to two hundred and fifty thousand people.
In 1907, Rudyard Kipling, speaking before the Canadian Club, said:
"I went away from Winnipeg for fifteen years, which in the life of a nation is equivalent to about fifteen minutes in the life of a man. I come back and I find the Winnipeg of to-day a metropolis. The visions that your old men saw fifteen years ago I saw translated to-day into stone and brick and concrete. Dreams that your young men have dreamed I saw accepted as the ordinary facts of everyday life, and they will in turn give place to vaster and more far-reaching imaginations."
"May one write of Winnipeg and not speak of the cold?" I asked her one-time daughter, Nellie McClung, who could never have written her stories of the border-land of the Great West anywhere else, and she said, "Yes–the casual visitor is sure to comment on the cold of Winnipeg winters. But those of us who have called it home think of the warmth of the people's hearts and the happy days and nights spent within its hospitable borders. When I first knew it there were no skyscrapers or picture shows or juvenile courts or votes for women, but it was a great city, a dim, rich city to me. I wish I knew as great a city now. I would like to find a city where shop windows are as beautiful and the streets as broad as Winnipeg's were then, and I would go far to see it–but there aren't any, any place."
The Rev. C. W. Gordon, "Ralph Connor," has been identified with Winnipeg for many years as the minister of St. Stephen's Church. At Banff his early mission work in the foothill country brought him in contact with some of the characters that have made his books famous. "Black Rock," "The Sky Pilot," "The Man from Glengarry" and others, were written in Winnipeg.
"FROM A HIGH WINDOW OF THE FORT GARRY HOTEL."
Agnes Laut, the well-known writer, was born in Manitoba and in spite of long residence in New York has remained a Westerner. Her experience in Winnipeg began when she was a little girl and she has watched the city develop. It is still impressive to her. To see the penniless immigrant of to-day become the capitalist of to-morrow is a training in economic ideas. "The weeding out process," says Miss Laut, "was terrific. The no-goods fall by the wayside, also the whiners, the slackers and the shirkers–and those with the red blood and the dauntless courage carry the flag over the line."
The foreign folk of Winnipeg can hardly be overlooked in any sketch of the city. Far away from the ocean road that brought them to this continent, the cities and towns of western Canada have attracted and held many European immigrants, so that Winnipeg is a splendid ground for the study of nationalities.
In cities too young for literary tradition one sometimes finds a modern writer gathering up the ancient customs and beliefs of these new comers. Living in Winnipeg has enabled Mrs. J. F. B. Livesay to paint, through vivid translations of their songs, many brief pictures of the Ukrainians and the Ruthenians. As these people become more and more absorbed in Canadian life the songs will fade, so that the translations, not only of these but other folk songs in various parts of the country, is an important work.
I have heard Winnipeg called flat and treeless, but from a high window of the Fort Garry hotel we looked down on leafy streets. And in the Roslyn Road and other residential districts the houses are set off by careful trees. All is not lost in gold. There is here and there an old-fashioned touch. Fuchsias and pelargoniums, in the conservatories of the Public Park, are more popular than the new favorites.
Just outside the city are the Agricultural Buildings, and the original Fort Garry is now converted into a delightful motor club.
Built of native stone, and with its surrounding grounds occupying a city square, stands the stately new Parliament Building with its huge pillars, and bronze buffaloes guarding the impressive stairway. At night the lighted dome shines over the city, a ruddy crown set amid innumerable lights. . . . From nearby is the sound of a bugle call. It comes from the station or barracks of the Royal Mounted Police.
XI. Edmonton and Jasper Park
XI. Edmonton and Jasper Park
Le VERANDRYE, the Frenchman who came up the Red River in 1731 and built a fort at Winnipeg, pressed farther on. His route at last was by way of the north Saskatchewan River. The fur trade was his lure, and those low wooded hills lying to the east of the river were called by the Indians the Beaver Hills. Le Verandrye had come a thousand miles since he left the gateway of the West–a thousand miles over the Prairies, a thousand miles of long undulating beflowered grass, of bleak desert, of snow-filled plain. And then this oasis of rivered green.
The next recorded recognition of a wonderful site came in 1778, when the Nor'-West Company, rivals of the Hudson's Bay, founded Fort des Prairies. In enormous isolation it stood on the bank of the river and when the union of the two fur companies came to pass, and the Hudson's Bay took command about 1809 the Fort was renamed Edmonton, after the town immortalized by Cowper in "John Gilpin," and because of the affection of the trader in charge for his suburban abode on the outskirts of London.
The Fort has been likened to some rude baronial stronghold in the feudal ages of the old world, with the Liege's Hall and retainers' cottages all safely enclosed by a palisade twenty-feet high made of stout trees split in halves and sunk into the ground. Around this, encompassing the entire Fort, the sentinels' gallery ran and at the four corners the peaked roofs of the bastions rose, with cannon mouths filling the port-holes. There was a flour-mill, and carpenter, boat-building, blacksmith and harness shops. It was indeed a tiny, walled city. The buildings were much crowded, there being only narrow alleyways between. A Court and yet a Community, it held within its limited area all the elements that make British rule the world over. It was self-contained and splendidly poised on the edge of a world in the making. All around the wooden walls dwelt the great unknown: natural elements vast in power. Indians insistent and inscrutable: herds of buffalo that then seemed numberless.
From the records of those days it will be seen that the first fort of 1796 was built on the lower level of the meadow, home of the present Power Plant of Edmonton. The second fort was built on the high ground where the Parliament Buildings now stand. It was under the command of a Chief Factor who kept up the traditions and wore a cocked hat and a bejeweled sword. The men who commanded the garrison were usually Scots, and were signed on for service as in the army or navy.
"THE GREAT HOUSE OF THE CHIEF FACTOR IN THE 40'S."
There was a Canadian artist, one Paul Kane, who made the first sketching trip over the prairies in 1847. He spent a winter at Edmonton, which had then become a great food-producing centre. Within the walls of the fort the inhabitants then numbered over one hundred and fifty. Kane says they lived in "luxury and fashion." His diary gives a fascinating account of the times. He is of course deeply interested in the Indians. "Eleven of the most important and war-like tribes," he says, "were in constant communication with the fort. Crees and Assiniboines lived in the country, while at least twice a year Blackfeet, Sarcees, Piegans and Bloods from southern Alberta, traded at Edmonton their dried meat and fat."
We hear of a great feast and dance at the Factor's House in the fort on Christmas night, 1848. To the dance some Indians were invited. The music was made by a violin in combination with the Indian drumsticks. The dance was a medley of Highland reels strathspeys and hornpipes and the wild pageantry of the Indian ritualistic dances. Among the motley colours and barbaric excitement of the liquor-fed music-mad crowd, the artist, Kane, espied a young Cree so lovely that he afterwards immortalized her on canvas, which is included in the magnificent Kane collection in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.
"Her poetic name was Con-ne-wah-bam," says the artist, "it means 'one who looks at the stars.' She sat for her likeness with greatest patience, holding her fan which was made of the tip of a swan's wing, with a handle of porcupine quills, in a most coquettish manner."
Kane tells us also that the sequel to the festivity of this Christmas week was the wedding at New Year's of John Rowand, Jr., in charge of Fort Pitt, and Miss Herriot, the daughter of the Chief Factor. The wedding trip down the ice two hundred miles to Fort Pitt was made by sledge. Three carioles and four sledges with four dogs to each formed the cavalcade. Nine men, including Kane, were the bodyguard. The dogs were decked in bright-coloured saddle cloths, fantastically embroidered, feathered, and covered with innumerable tiny bells. No provisions were taken, for a party went ahead, killed the buffalo and prepared it, made the camp, lit the great fires in the snow and slung the wigwam for the bride and groom. Battles with the wolf-packs, violence, and sudden death and the glory of sunbathed untracked spaces–only seventy-five years ago.
The "Life of Father Lacombe" by Katherine Hughes gives graphic pictures of those days. The missionary was brought to Fort Edmonton in 1852 by John Rowand and became a force in the community. The very names of his friends and associates, Rowand and Christie, Sir Sanford Fleming, Chief Engineer of the construction of the C.P.R., Sir William Van Horne and Lord Strathcona, call up the history and the great enterprises that they so successfully staged.
Stories of the early West contained in the lives of the Factors are not only heroic but splendidly picturesque. There was Chief Factor Christie, for instance, who in 1873 travelled over two thousand miles by dog team from Fort Simpson on the Mackenzie River to attend the first meeting at Fort Garry of the North-West Council, the Government of the Territories. His French half-breed driver made the whole journey with him on snow-shoes. The life of Richard G. Hardisty, the next to the last Chief Factor of Edmonton, is also closely associated with the place. The Hardisty family were bound up with the Hudson's Bay Company. A sister of Richard married Donald Smith, who afterwards became Lord Strathcona, and his wife, greatly beloved in Edmonton, was the daughter of the pioneer missionary, the Rev. George McDougall. For twenty years the hospitality of the Hardisty's in the big house in the centre of the quadrangle, was famous the North-West over. The Christies, also, are a living link with the past. Two sons are in the H.B.C. service and a daughter, Mrs. Malcolm Groat, still lives in Edmonton.
After the Factors, and following in the wake of the H.B.C., came the independent fur trader, the prospector and the boot-legger. The escapades of these gentlemen drew the attention of the Dominion Government to the need of police protection in the west, and so came the formation of the Royal North-West Mounted Police in 1874, and the next step in civilization.
"THE OLD HUDSON BAY FORT HUDDLED UP AGAINST THE PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS."
Followed the settler "treking across the plains with his ox-carts"–and suddenly, almost miraculously, the modern Edmonton arose. The French and Scotch traders sent for their families, the great hope of the transcontinental railway became a certainty, and the epic of the iron rails began. In 1885, when the Riel rebellion showed the strength and the weakness of the half-breed, the little settlement greatly augmented its numbers by an influx of refugees. That same year the Canadian Pacific was completed, and with the dawn of the twentieth century, Edmonton was a town of three thousand people. Three years after a branch line was made to connect her with the great road, she was a city; and when, in 1905, the Province of Alberta was formed, she found herself its capital. In 1921 her population numbered over sixty thousand.
To-day there is a hardy young city of wide streets' splendid houses, hospitals, schools, churches, colleges, shops and warehouses, hotels and parks.
But the painted past lingers, the primal colours are not quite blurred, and when one least expects it comes a vibrant note from the past.
Until recently the old H. B. Fort huddled up against the new Parliament Buildings. Still one may 'trade' at the Hudson's Bay Store–huge, departmental. modern.
Of late, on a summer noon, I was busy there buying French blouses. Along the crowded aisles came many an Indian, civilized and sometimes uncivilized–down from the north country. You feel the presence of the Great North in Edmonton. These people, with their quiet-smiling, quiet-frowning faces, connect one instantly with the stories out of the past that may be deciphered from the stained glass windows on the stair-landings which deal with various aspects of early days.
A pity to destroy such a link with the past as the old wooden building up against the Parliament Buildings! Mrs. Arthur Murphy, the well-known writer, "Janey Canuck," who is Magistrate Emily Murphy of the Juvenile Court in and for the Province of Alberta as well as the author of books which have depicted the life of the country she loves to many readers, is one of the few among Canadians who realize the importance of old landmarks. She has also gathered up interesting data regarding the Factors of the days of the Fort.
Pictures of Edmonton to-day call to my mind a panorama of broad flowing river and small glimmering woods, of wide imposing streets, splendid shops and houses, ugly scattered shacks, crowds of foreigners, waste spaces and vast impending energies. But always I go back in mind to river banks and hidden loveliness.
I remember an English bungalow with a wonderful view of leafy ravine, tea on a wide verandah, a Japanese servant, Spode cups.
Other pictures. That vast tract of poplar bushland situated only some ten blocks from the centre of the city, vacant and pulseless, though surrounded on four sides by a scattered population. A great paved roadway, like a crooked smile, runs across the face of it. Along the northern bank is a railway track over which an occasional train may be seen meandering gingerly. Above this again many bleary basements defacing the beautiful bank. The flat itself a thing of gently rolling surface and timbered edge. Here is the golfer in his white flannels. Here is many a cool spot where the grass encroaches on the poplar bluff. Higher up, if one wishes to explore farther afield, there are leafy dells which nevertheless give sight of the busy thoroughfare of the great bridge, that overleaps the valley at its eastern end, with its never ceasing coming and going. Opposite, on the southern bank, stands the nucleus of a great University. And again there is the river vista, this time superb, where the Saskatchewan makes a wide enchanting turn–and there, too, the little whispering woods.
The Edmonton of to-day, many-hued and magnetic, calls to the tribes and peoples of the earth with the sparkling lure of youth and riches. But in the Edmonton of yesterday rang the call that carries an age-old lure. In it there was a note of danger which is the preface to curiosity and adventure.
. . . . .
Our adventure was not with danger but with the unknown, when for the first time we explored a bit of Jasper Park, the great National Reserve which lies two hundred miles west of Edmonton and contains at least five thousand miles of mountain, stream and valley. It was untraversed wilderness, even for western Canadians, before the coming of the railroad about 1909.
Before us, after a night of travel, lay the Yellowhead Pass, dividing line between Alberta and British Columbia, and the watershed that sends its streams in one direction to the Pacific and in the other to the Arctic ocean. Tête Jaune Cache was our objective, it was then the end of steel. In Canada we have a way of naming places after first comers. Jasper Dawes will go down the ages because he came as early as 1817 and made a friend of the Indians. He was, in fact, in charge of the Hudson's Bay Trading Post then established in this region, and it is from his shock of yellow hair that the Pass gets its name. The French of it, Tête Jaune, goes to a valley fifty miles beyond the summit, and to an Indian village near which Jasper established a Cache, later to become a construction camp.
Nearly all day we journeyed to this camp, passing the Divide where the Fraser River begins its thousand-mile run to the Pacific, with good-bye to the little Miette, a charming stream that gives a Japanese impression of the deep blue shadows of mountains reflected on its surface. We found Tête Jaune a place of expectation; hotels were being planned, stations thought out, the land slowly mapped out, Buffalo reserves considered–in fact a great movement on foot.
In the vast solitude one mountain peak after another arises. First the Pyramid and Miette Mountains, pale blue with snow. Then as you climb the Divide, with only the low, snowless Rainbow Mountains between, you look for tidings of the white summit, 13,700 feet high, that lies beyond–Mount Robson. Presently it seems to float gently forward, crowned with snow and often hidden by clouds, but, because of a clear June day, gleaming now soft and white above the clouds against an indigo sky.
How wonderful to be alive in this great wilderness! One of the first generation to greet the mightiest peak of the Rockies, and in the vanguard at least of untold peoples. Looking into the distance one can see them, from Europe coming Westward, from the United States north, from the Orient journeying East again–travellers in a playground of giants.
Always to be remembered was the wild effect of rafts filled with logs shooting down the turbulent Fraser, never to return. There was the shadow of Mount Geggie in still water, and Tête Jaune for a background. As we watched the swift river, the barges and the busy little camp were like bits of scaffolding clinging to the framework of a great building, things of the moment. Instinctively one's mind reached beyond the lapse of time between one generation and the next, and the next. Shadows fell as dim as centuries. But the summer day spoke of freedom, stored up here for the peoples of the earth.
XII. Calgary and Banff
XII. Calgary and Banff
REAMS have been written about the ocean and its effect upon individuals and peoples. Little has been recorded of the prairie, but there is a certain moment on the journey between Winnipeg and the mountains when an impressionable traveller hears its music, as untranslatable as it is distinct. It may come to you tramping the snow-piled platform of some wayside station, as you momentarily break a wintry journey, or out of a summer night.
I remember a midnight break-down on the C.P.R. somewhere between Edmonton and Calgary. At first the ceasing of the wheels brought only a sense of unusual quiet, penetrated, I must admit, by the rumble of a full-throated snore in the distance. Peering into the darkness from the dim enclosure of my berth, suddenly I saw the moon rise out of a cloud and send a spear of light over a limitless sea of grass. And yet not grass. Not the July-green Ontario carpet that I knew, but something–a great undulating naked hairy line of the very body of the Earth itself, the Earth all alive and full of hidden possibilities, murmuring in its sleep. The murmur seemed to me rhythmical, almost like the purr of a large, sleepy cat. Sometimes across the murmur came a sigh, rather like a wind but no wind that I had ever heard before. And in the sigh that heaved that living, grassy line there was a call, an invitation, as though immensity had deigned to speak. Then lanterns twinkling along the side of the sleeper, hoarse shouts and orders, and the great express, slowly gathering energy, shot away westward. But I, with thousands of others, had heard the voice of the prairie.
It was with such a feeling for the immensities with which she is surrounded that I accepted Calgary just as I found her a symbol of nature on a grand scale. I did not ask many questions or wish to be deeply enlightened as to her history and antecedents. But as I had heard her called 'a glorified Cow Town,' I was glad to find a narrow Main Street giving me a far away suggestion of a trail rather than the usual wide Western Avenue.
The truth is that when the first railway train crossed the prairie, in 1886, this city was no more than a little distributing centre for a wild country. It was known to Indians, traders, and a few ranchers. It was commended by all on account of its situation, its winey air and warm Pacific winds. But the miracle that makes it now was then non-existent, save in the minds of a few men. Shortly these thoughts emerged. The Canadian Government gave as part payment to the Canadian Pacific Railway, three million acres of land in the extreme west of the prairie belt.
"Ranching Country!" said the C.P.R. "In fifty years it may amount to something!" But there was an optimist who declared that a rainfall averaging but twenty inches held great harvests in possibility. Later on the railway arranged with the Dominion Government for a block of land stretching one hundred and fifty miles east. Irrigation! It is all in the word that makes the desert blossom. Hence the glorification of Calgary.
Everyone knows how the Government came to the assistance of the project by devising simple but effective irrigation laws. The western section of the C.P.R. block was watered by means of the canal which is one of the first and foremost of Calgary's points of interest. It is seventeen miles long and a hundred and twenty feet wide at the water line, and has a hundred and fifty miles of secondary canals and eight hundred miles of irrigating ditches.
And so the rancher, who used to tie his horse to a post outside the store and proceed to trade in leisurely fashion became an "intensive farmer" and his needs grew many. The spirit of young Calgary responded. By a modern magic the great factories and wholesale depots, shops and houses emerged and there followed the busy streets and public buildings of a modern city.
"THE BUSY STREETS OF A MODERN CITY."
One can only picture a place as one finds it. Here the first and the last note seems to be magnetism. Something intensely alive reached out and caught me. I felt it from the moment of arrival on what I supposed must be a public holiday, judging by the air of bustle at the railway station. I was told, however, that this was an everyday coming and going. I saw English and American tourists, Jews, Japanese, a Hindoo with a smooth-folded turban, an Indian with coloured baskets to sell, business men, school girls,–all setting out to find their own Calgary.
Emerging on Ninth Avenue, a decade ago called Whiskey Row, one is suddenly in the midst of large hotels, public buildings and clubs, amongst which the Ranchers' Club (on an Avenue near by) is unique. Here are the Administrative Offices of the Canadian Pacific from where the business of the vast land holdings, mines and other interests of the company are managed. Eventually you reach the great stock-yards of Pat Burns, the Cattle King, an old-timer in the West, who controls its largest packing plant. Eighth Avenue is the principal shopping street, and they tell you that on Saturday night it is as congested as Piccadilly Circus.
Essentially a man's town, this is also a place which is in the grip of elemental forces. As I walked about in the mid-summer heat I wondered if it were temperature or altitude that made me feel so light-headed. I decided that it was altitude. And the dust storm! "Something like a London fog" it has been called, "only a dust fog,"–an animated fog in which everything unsubstantial is fair prey. I have seen whole newspapers caught up like balloons and tossed sky-high.
A kindlier force is the Bow River, which waters the land and contains a mineral quality that is quite remarkable.
Calgary stands in the midst of millions of acres of workable soil. Professor Tanner, the agricultural chemist, says that it is richer than the famous "black earth" of central Russia. There is sunshine most of the year and bracing air softened by the Chinook winds, so that horses and cattle run in the open throughout the winter, and among the foothills are many notable ranches. The Pleasant Range Stock Farms is one of these. It is a cattle-ranching corporation, of which a well-known Canadian authoress is secretary and part owner. Thousands of people know "The Japanese Nightingale" and other novels by Onoto Watanna, but few have discovered Mrs. Frances F. Reeve in her picturesque ranch house, "Bow View," on the Bow River, midway between Calgary and Banff. Another well-known writer who combines farming and literature is Mrs. Eva Jacobs, who believes in the future of drama, dealing with life in the ranch country.
Bar U Ranch–now the property of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, in close proximity to Calgary, is of course the show place of the entire region, and the hills and valleys, streams and meadow-lands are quite beautiful enough to have aroused a desire for possession in so cosmopolitan a traveller as His Royal Highness.
The Sarcee Indian Reserve, seven miles from Calgary, was used as a Training Camp during the war of 1914-19.
. . . . .
We first saw the foothills from the Roof Garden of the Palliser Hotel,–ghostly beckoning peaks sixty miles away. One day we answered their call and motored to Banff through the foothill ranching country, the Morley Indian Reserve, past Kananaskes Falls, the mining country about Canmore, and on into the hills.
When you return to mountains, after long absence, the impression is as fresh as though you had never seen them before. It may come from the atmospheric effect of altitude, colour and spacing which makes you feel as if you are in a land of coloured pictures. Whether it is the airy green and white of the Alps, about which there seems to be a kind of vibration like the far chiming of small bells, the gorgeous crimson and purples of the southern Rockies, the copper and gold of the Canadian range, there is to the plains-dweller, a sense of unreality in painted distances that custom does not dim. Banff is a great brown fugue of giant hills that would break your spirit if it could, but you know that beyond it lies a marvellous journey westward in which beauty is not lost in vastness.
"A GREAT BROWN FUGUE OF GIANT HILLS."
In the old days arrival by train at Banff had its compensations, when a jolly drag boasting four spirited steeds conveyed you to the hotel. But even in an unatmospheric motor you may ascend the winding road with a clanking of chains and drive up with a splendid flourish before the entrance of an irregular pile that looks rather like the dream of some bold baron of a century ago. Before you enter, something draws you to the right of the stone portico; something more than the suggestion of a wide view. You look over and find intuition justified, for the wall of the building seems to fall away to the almost perpendicular mountain side. Set in a cranny commanding the Bow Valley and ringed about with mountains, this is an opera box from which one watches big plays on a big stage. Day after day the curtain is rung up on troops of winds and clouds and sun rays,–versatile actors who love variety.
I have seen a day so leaden that every peak was austere. Then a rift in the clouds, a band of pink, and the whole region a paradise of colour.
There is everything to do in Banff, and its admirers seem to be inordinately energetic. They play golf, and climb, and swim in the great Pool or canoe on the river. They visit the Buffalo Reserve and the Sun-dance Canyon and the Cave. There seems to be a peculiar reverence in everyone's mind for the Cave. Even the pilot is reverent, as he solemnly conducts you through a mysterious tunnel cut out of solid rock. On each side you hear the rush of water, and also you smell sulphur. The tunnel widens into a circular cave in the centre of which there is a pool of emerald green water through which bubbles of gas come constantly up to the surface, as though the spirit of the place wanted to be free once more. For long ago this was the home of a boiling geyser, a wild pre-historic youth who now does tricks for travellers. We felt more annoyance than reverence for his imprisoning Cave.
XIII. Vancouver–The Western Gateway
XIII. Vancouver–The Western Gateway
WHEN Monsieur Labori, a distinguished visitor from Paris, the defender of Zola and Dreyfus, by the way, was in Vancouver some years ago, he was struck by the curious effect which the mere situation of the city produces. "Next to Paris," he said, "I am ready to give my affection and my wonder to this strange young Colossus on the shores of Burrard Inlet. Wonderful transformation will take place here, for the destiny of the world must lie in the hands of those on the Pacific Coast, where the civilization of the Occident will have to be subjected to the survival test of the ancient civilization of the Orient."
The approach to Vancouver is startlingly dramatic. You come down to the coast through a great day and night of mountains–the Rockies, brown and terrible, and the green Selkirks. Then, through crowded gorges and beside swift rivers you journey until the hand of the sea, felt from far off, seems to reach out and soften all the air; the altitudes melt away, and the darkness falls. At dawning there is flat country with a glimpse of wider, tidal rivers, and presently the guard calls "Vancouver" and the train runs into a splendid modern station.
It is early morning, and if you are fortunate you may get your first glimpse of the city from a certain famous club, high up in the Pacific Building, overlooking the Inlet. Great windows let in a liquid radiance. There lies the Pacific–blue glimpses of it are rimmed about with hills, some snow-capped, some purple-veined, some misted in rose. The picture is an enchantment, it looks almost too good to be true. But its promise is sure. There are more enchantments to follow.
Vancouver is like a fairy book, and each page is a fresh story. It is all very young. Innocent indeed of any civilized history, as a city, before 1886, when the first wooden shacks emerged out of the thick forest.
The decade following saw the first railway train arrive from the East, the first C.P.R. steamship anchored in port, the Klondike "boom," and the great mining industries of British Columbia well under way. Then the wooden houses were replaced by "solid brick," those in turn giving way to the more fashionable stone or plaster and clapboard. Already there was the older settlement of Victoria, over on Vancouver Island, to set an example in architecture, and Vancouver, blessed or cursed as may be by cheap-priced Oriental labour, began to lay out good streets and acquire "residences." In an incredibly short time it mounted to Shaughnessy Heights, with its fine modern houses and beautiful gardens.
Vancouver is by far the most fascinating "new" city that I have ever known. There is a freshness and charm about it that comes from something more than sea air or even the beauty of mountains, that makes one enquire into the quality of a place so eloquent of youth and vigour. Of history so little–of tradition so much. But that the most romantic of all, Indian tradition. For the legends of Vancouver relate to time uncounted by any calendar, when the Pacific Coast, still unknown to white peoples, was ruled by a copper-coloured race.
"THIS STRANGE YOUNG COLOSSUS ON THE SHORES OF BURRARD INLET."
In 1910, the last of the great chiefs of the Squamish tribes, Chief Capilano, died in Vancouver. But not before he had given to a sympathetic interpreter fabled stories of the coast, as fascinating as any in the traditions of Eastern and European countries. At the Court of King Edward and Queen Alexandra he met the Canadian poet of Indian ancestry, Pauline Johnson, and it was a delight to the old chief to be greeted in the Chinook, his native tongue. The friendship then formed continued, when a few years later Miss Johnson went to live in Vancouver. Capilano gave into her keeping some of the sacred legends of his tribe, the writing of which she completed shortly before her own death. Now, in permanent book form live these early-world stories, precious to Canadians because they symbolize not only landmarks but the qualities that make and keep a country heroic.
Twin mountain peaks that rise over the city and guard the harbour were named by early residents of Vancouver after Landseer's stone lions in Trafalgar Square. But they are known as the Two Sisters to the Indians, who centuries before made them the symbols of Peace and Brotherhood. The story goes that a Great Tyee was at war with the Upper Coast Indians. Pledged, as was the custom, to celebrate the coming into womanhood of his two beautiful daughters, he decided that war must cease for the moment. Then they came to him to ask the old favour of women–a peaceful feast, a feast in honour of joy, an interlude of war to which everyone, even the enemy, might be invited. Because he loved them the Great Tyee listened, and ordered his tribesmen to build fires of welcome at sunset. And when the northern tribes got this invitation they flocked down the coast and brought their women and their children and filled the canoes with game and fish, gold and white stone beads, baskets and carven ladles and wonderful woven blankets as gifts to the Great Tyee. He in turn gave such a potlatch "that nothing in tradition can vie with it." The hostile war songs ceased, and in their places were heard the soft shuffle of dancing feet and the singing voices of women.
"I will make these young-eyed maidens immortal," said the Sagalie Tyee. And he lifted the chief's two daughters and set them forever in a high place, for they had borne two offspring–Peace and Brotherhood–each of which is now a Great Tyee guarding the welfare of the Pacific Coast.
The familiar landmark, Siwash Rock, near which Pauline Johnson is buried, looms up at the entrance to the Narrows, a symmetrical column of solid, gray stone with the crest of a small green tree nodding over its brow. There is no similar formation anywhere about, for it stands straight like a man.
"It is a man," says Capilano, "a warrior who fought for everything that is noble." And he tells of a young chief who defied the gods and swam across the course of their Great Canoe and would not leave it even at their command, for the sake of his coming child, that the tribal law of vicarious purity might be obeyed. As he touched land he was immortalized in stone as a saviour of the race.
So with the Cathedral Trees in Stanley Park, that group of some half dozen giants unique among the forests of the world. No one can stand close to them without feeling their protective power. The Coast Indians say that they harbour human souls: great beneficent persons chosen to protect humanity from a secret influence that lies somewhere in the depths of the Park. This is an evil "lure," the condemned soul of a witch woman whom the Sagalie Tyee (the great God) punished, turning her into a bare, white stone shunned by moss and vine and lichen. Pauline Johnson says, "Nothing in this nor yet the next world would tempt a Coast Indian into the compact centres of the wild portions of the park where lies the "lure" they all believe in, for there is not a tribe in the entire district that does not know of this strange legend. No one will volunteer to be your guide, for having once come within the circle of the "lure" it is a human impossibility to leave it. Your will-power is dwarfed, your intelligence blighted, your feet will refuse to lead you out by a straight trail, you will circle, circle for evermore about this magnet, for if death kindly comes to your aid your immortal spirit will go on in that endless circling that will bar it from entering the Happy Hunting Grounds."
These things lie behind the history of Vancouver and follow you to-day. One evening, after hours in the Capilano Canyon, we found ourselves on a melancholy little street of the Indian village at its foot. A twilight woven of violet and grey was drifting over the Inlet, and this might have been a street of the Lost Tribes. There was an air of futility about it all, as though nothing could stay the course of change even in this primitive little settlement of a disappearing people. I remember one old woman who was limping about in the twilight and seemed to follow us like an entreating cry. She haunts me even yet.
Much of modern Vancouver spends its summer evenings by English Bay, enjoying the lovely colours of the sunset. Here you see all sorts and conditions of men and women, from 'Arry and 'Arriet to the American tourist or the turbanned Moor. In a place where East is bound to mingle with West in the long run the element of romance is never lacking, yet strangely enough it remains largely unrecorded. There are those who have come to the Farthest West to make money and have a good time, and there are others who have come to make money and remain English. The first are progressive, the second are picturesque and they make a strange combination. In the golf clubs you meet Vancouver at its favourite sport.
The eastern phase of western life is interesting if controversial. I should like to have seen Vancouver before pigtails were taboo and when there was a real Chinatown. What is left, and that is very little, is amusing. Five minutes from the business centre will bring you into a section of small streets, sparsely enough peopled in the evening when a Chinaman plays Fan-Tan with due secrecy. We went in and out of dingy little shops where stoical merchants had to be induced to produce hidden treasures and where the odours were not those of Araby. As we came out of one shop there was a thin far-off sound as if some ancient viol were being carelessly tuned. It drew us near an open door which chanced to be that of the Chinese theatre. There we saw a part of an act of one of the interminable Chinese plays done by an excellent company.
Yachting about Vancouver is a constant pleasure. As we go south we see the profile of Siwash Rock at the end of the wooded peninsula that is Stanley Park. To the north the shore line of West Vancouver and the village of Caulfields. Around Point Atkinson you enter Howe Sound, one of the loveliest places in the world, where are bays and islands and always the distant view of mountains. These mountains of Vancouver are sometimes southern in warmth of colour, though often after a rain they hold great armfuls of wisp-like clouds against their sombre breasts. But always they are a fulfilment of some beauty, always they hold surprise.
On account of the great natural magnificence of her setting and the soft sea airs that surround her, airs more equable than those of England, there is a sort of late-blooming rose quality about the whole place that should make a natural setting for work that above all things requires leisure. And Vancouver is and will more and more be sought by artists, musicians and writers. Amongst the latter is one who will always be remembered for the great beauty of her work, Marjorie Pickthall, the exquisite lyrist who lived on the coast for several years and whose death occurred in 1922 in Vancouver. Julia Henshaw, Mrs. Lefevre, Isabel Ecclestone Mackay, Lionel Haweis, Elspeth Honeyman, Robert Allison Hood and Wilson MacDonald are only a few of the well-known writers who have come under the spell of Vancouver.
Tom MacInnes gives one a sense of glamour in poetry that sails strange seas and loves queer companions better than tame ones. There is an outlandish something that contains a fine flavour of adventure. And who does not dream of adventure here, where holly hedges and roses speak of England, and mountains mean the west and turbanned heads remind one of the Orient:–Vancouver, where still one may often see:
A full-rigged ship unutterably fair,
Her masts, like trees in winter, frosty bright.
XIV. Victoria–An Island City
XIV. Victoria–An Island City
VICTORIA, chief city of Vancouver Island, is Canada's lyric postscript. If you like it better, the last note of a heroic song.
Dreamers have always loved islands, and the islands of the sea hold a special magic, gray and misty as the north itself or coloured with the south. Vancouver, cool and tranquil, circled by the Pacific has been a "bonne bouche" reserved for the younger generations of North America. Of course it has not lain undiscovered through the ages. In the sixteenth century, the Greek navigator, "masquerading as Juan de Fuca in the service of Spain," waved to it in passing, saw it lying beautiful and silent on the ocean, coveted but lacked the courage to possess. George Vancouver of the British navy landed in 1792 and quaintly wrote of the "abundant fertility that unassisted nature here puts forth and of the need of man's industry, not to speak of the pen of a skilful panegyrist."
It was nearly a hundred years after this that the Hudson's Bay Company founded the little city of Victoria, to-day the capital of British Columbia and the only "southern resort" of Canada–a place intended from all time, on account of climate and environment, to be a city of homes and gardens.
To eyes not over dazzled by the brilliance of Californian colour, the gardens of Victoria are as enchanting as any the world over. I love sturdy English estates, and Italian gardens, faun-haunted, full of memories. But these new gardens of Victoria, these soft-hued, rich, swift-sprung places, where nature cannot do enough to show her welcome to that lord of creation, a Scotch gardener! They are full of serenity.
"Here I do not miss even my beloved Paris," said a well-known artist who had come to paint portraits in Victoria. "I find in the people who have been attracted to a spot so beautiful, the mental, artistic and financial resource which gives to them and to their city the rare quality of graciousness. In this town I have discovered treasures–rare books, old silver, splendid collections of Japanese art and curious Indian relics, nameless centuries old . . . Splendid people are making one of the picturesque cities of the world, yearly more beautiful. What is left to be desired?"
I remember a rock garden treated in Japanese fashion with slender bridges and lanterns, dwarf maples and a pond with pink water-lilies floating on its surface. Another with its high red brick walls, hedges of roses, borders of carnations and Italian pergola, transports one to a different atmosphere. From casement windows I looked out on still another garden famous for its perennial beds, where on a summer evening masses of delphiniums and foxgloves were the foreground for a dreamy picture of Oak Bay with an old schooner and a gay young yacht going by in the blue night.
"PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS . . . FROM THE IVY-COVERED EMPRESS HOTEL."
These gardens one remembers more vividly than public buildings and streets. No ardent traveller can forget, however, his first sight of Victoria as he enters the harbour; the sparkling water, mountains snowcapped and floating in cloud-land, and the burning earthly gold of gorse.
The city herself greets you with her Parliament Buildings on one hand and the ivy-covered Empress Hotel on the other. But behind them you know lie the gardens–secluded, fragrant, dewy.
Victoria reminds me of jade green teacups, teak furniture, wonderful drives and golden gorse.
But there are always "the sights." There is, as I have said, the Parliament Buildings, also the Provincial Library with historical prints and documents regarding the Pacific Coast. There is the Dominion Observatory on Little Saanich mountain, with a telescope which in 1918 was the largest in the world. It was placed in Victoria because of the unequalled climate and low range of temperature. And there is Esquimalt, a four mile drive, where is the Dock Yard, for long Great Britain's only naval station on the Pacific Coast, now handed over to the Canadian Government.
One motors also to Brentwood, on Saanich Inlet, where you come upon what seems at first sight an old English Inn. Nearby are beautiful sunken gardens, which Mr. R. P. Butchart generously opens to interested visitors.
After I had driven about Vancouver Island for a week, my mind was a medley of Totem poles, golf courses, rocks, beaches, ocean, swans on small lakes, pergolas, chalets, and ribbon-like roads between huge gorges filled with hemlock and pines. And I had met all sorts of people–miners, fishermen, Moors, Japanese, farmers, remittance men and Americans. Also Canadians. But the people who seemed to be rarest were the men and women actually born in British Columbia or Vancouver Island.
One of these was a well-known Victoria architect who has done much to make his city beautiful. I asked him if he sometimes desired the stimulus of European life and criticism, here in this place that seemed to be apart. Like the portrait painter who was only a passing guest he answered, "One really cannot miss much here."
Island of serenity, "where blows nor heat nor cold," island of faint gardens and soft flowers, you need no poets, but we beg you still to beckon them, for you, last word of the continent, hold the secret for which we are all waiting, the renewal of beauty that lies in peace of heart.
"CANADIAN CITIES OF ROMANCE," BY KATHERINE HALE, WITH DRAWINGS BY DOROTHY STEVENS, HAS BEEN PRODUCED FOR McCLELLAND & STEWART, LIMITED, AND GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY, PUBLISHERS, BY WARWICK BROS. & RUTTER, LIMITED, TORONTO.