The Diary of James Farndale
The diary of Jim Farndale’s voyage to Canada, the year after the sinking of the Titanic
THIS DIARY WAS WRITTEN BY JAMES FARNDALE DURING HIS TRAVELS TO CANADA
31 MARCH TO EARLY APRIL 1913
I hope that everyone who may read this will overlook all mistakes and remember, that it was not intended for other than to give a little information; and was written very hurriedly; and I know is very imperfect.
I am very much afraid I have failed to make it plain, so will not have accomplished my purpose. It is to save letter writing and no one who reads it need expect information given here to be repeated.
My voyage to Canada on SS Canada
I left home on March 31. It will be remembered, how we hurried to station and were just in time, also that George had gone the night before, and was to meet me at Darlington. It was on the afternoon of this day, I was on the Guisborough and met two ladies, one of them looked very hard at me, and caused me to wonder why she did so. When my friends pushed me into train with my luggage. I know nothing of who was inside the compartment, but on looking round I saw the young lady whom I had seen on my way to station, but the rather curious thing about it, was, she had spent six years as a nurse in Canada. (She is a nurse at Middlesborough) and had been to Webster’s seeing their sick bay. She told me they had been talking about me in the afternoon, and she thought I must be the person. She knew all about Canada and was quite interesting to talk to. When we got to Middlesborough I felt quite sorry for I’d been learning so much.
I was met by my friend, Harry Watson, at Middlesborough, who had come from South Shields to see me off and stayed with him till the last night to Darlington, so you see how my evening was spent. I never had a chance of feeling lonely.
Beckwtih (a young fellow going out on the same boat) whom I had previously met at Redcar passed through Middlesborough and was going to spend the evening in Darlington so we agreed to meet there later.
It is rather curious how things happen, Watson whom I have referred to had known Beckwith before he went to America the first time, and Beckwith knew the young lady, also whom I’ve referred to, but none of them knew that I knew any one of them. Again, another coincidence.
I got into the train and parted from my friends at Middlesborough and took my seat in the compartment, when a lady sprang up and challenged me. It was a family from Bolton some of you may remember how I heard of them going on same boat and called to see them at Bolton, but only saw the lady, although I did not at first recognise her. Well, now if I’ve made it plain it would almost appear as though this had all been arranged, but it all just happened.
On reaching Darlington I was met by George, and later towards train time Beckwith strolled up. We now learned that there was an excursion to Liverpool, which was to leave an hour later than we intended going, and arrived two hours earlier, but as we had luggage some of us were bound to travel with it; George took the exit: leaving Beckwith and I to follow and he saved about 7/6. Our train was so crowded that they allowed us to go in a 1st class compartment. We had a good time and were very comfortable till we reached a place call Northampton, where we had to change and wait an hour and about 3am we had a quick stroll through this place, which was fast asleep. We laughed as we thought how foolish we were. Next train we were not so fortunate, but we managed to keep everybody out of our compartment so as to be able to get a little rest for after having had a long two days running about, we were sorely in need of it. We thought, and were told, we had no more changes till we reached Liverpool, we had taken off our boots, put on slippers and were having a little rest, when the “fools” told us to change, so we had to rush up and pack.
It was about 8am when we reached Liverpool and were filthy somewhat like sweeps and very tired. George who had been there a good while, met us. Our first step was to look after luggage. All we had to do was to check them and give our names. The ship company: officials are there to meet train so it is quite simple. We went on and got to business, had breakfast, and washed which was most necessary. We strolled round town, doing our little business, got tickets made all alike, money changed, and made a few purchases etc.
I got some cards to send off, but the others wouldn’t wait, so had to write them in the street when I had time.
We went down to Dock about twelve o’clock, but the boat was not in and it was about 2.30pm when she steamed in. The place was packed with people and was very difficult moving about.
However they were soon ready for us to go on. We just walk past the Doctor bare headed and he looked savagely at us and we passed right on. We went ahead to find our berths, which was a simple matter. As our hand luggage was very heavy we got the Co to take it along with the others, so had been taken on board early. They sort it all out and take the wanted baggage to the berths for us, but it is some hours before some of it gets there and we wanted certain things as soon as we landed on board and it was with great difficulty that we secured if from the others. They would not allow us to pass with it.
Our next move was to book seats at table, of course the seat you book first you keep all the voyage through and we had up our minds that we would book first sitting if possible, the reason why is; that it gets very late before second sitting and one has to walk about passing time away in the morning, which makes one feel sick. They begin booking seats straight away in the saloon and give us our numbers. Another difficulty arose; I went to book seats, and took the three tickets with me, but as Beckwtih was not on same deck as George and I, he could not sit at same table, and he very much wanted to, but after a lot of persuasion I succeeded in getting us all seated together.
I found out there was time to write some letters (the pilot takes off mail about an hour after sailing). I was busy with my letters when she began to move. I hurried out to see the scene, people were shouting from both sides and clouds of handkerchiefs and hats were waived as far as we could see but we were soon out of sight of it all and away out at sea.
People were allowed on board to see off friends until time of sailing, when they are ordered off, but some had been left on and had to be put off at sea on another boat.
The mail had come on board, and was spread out on saloon table for us to sort for ourselves. There were lots of letters and telegrams. We sailed into a very smooth sea and the night was just perfect, we soon passed away from land. We did not land at Ireland, but sighted and passed it about 8pm on Saturday night. This was the last we saw of Britain. We dined at 6pm. The boat is gently rolling everybody seems tired, especially ourselves so went to bed in decent time.
Very fine morning, and everybody seems in good spirits, there is, of course, no sickness as yet, but there are some pale faces and judging from myself a few giddy heads. At breakfast:- the tables all filled up, the sun is shining very brightly and is so warm and many people are sitting and lying in the sun.
Personally I do not take much breakfast but soon strolled out into the fresh air and left the others behind, they chaff me a little; of course they are old hands at this business. The food is really very good, and there is everything necessary. This had been a truly glorious day, sea very smooth.
About 10.30am we went to service in the largest saloon, the Chaplain is a fine young fellow, he’s a pastor going to the States and is acting as Chaplain, he gave a very nice address and the serviced passed off well and was short.
We can hire deck chairs at 3/6 each, we get tickets and put our names on, they are very comfortable and lots of people sit on deck all day, some bring their own chairs, but they must be a lot of trouble.
This afternoon we amused ourselves taking some snapshots, as it was so fine.
There is a library, which is a very comfortable room; we can get books at a certain time each day, and ours to pay a trifle for. There is also plenty of writing material and good accommodation for writing.
There is a smoke room and a bar, with attendants, who seem to be pretty busy most of the time. Amongst the men, there is a lot of gambling, of course everyone is trying to do some thing to pass away time if its only sleeping. In each saloon there is a piano and lots of people to play, having brought music with them for the purpose.
We breakfast 7.30, second sitting at 8.30. Lunch at 12 and dine at six. They bring round something they pretend is leaf tea (serving ladies first) also tea and biscuits in the afternoon. There is plenty of fruit and if anyone is sick they will bring us anything we need either to bed or on deck. So there’s no fear of starving.
Sunday has passed off very well and in splendid weather. People seem slow to make friends at the beginning of the journey.
Any announcements the officials wish to make are placarded up in saloon entrance.
The collection I have just noticed at service is 30/- and I think it goes to Seamen’s charities.
We noticed on board a lot of women, wearing a blue bow and we wondered why they did so, we have since found out, they are being sent out by the B.U.P.A and are in the charge of a Matron. I understand they are shipping some out every month. A lot of them are going right west to the coast and some to Calgary. There is forty of this party, quite a squadron. They all sit together at table, three tables full of them. There are a lot of women on this boat. I’ve heard lots of people say they never saw so many on a boat. I should say more than half second class are women.
Very fine morning, but sea just a little choppy and not so warm, boat rolling a little. There is not much signs of sickness although some are looking a little pale and a few are absent at table.
A big steamer passed us today going same way, it was out of sight in a few hours. Anything of this kind draws a crowd everybody is interested at any sign of life. This was a very fast boat; it must have been a Cunard liner. It was rather annoying to be left behind so quickly, but our boat is not travelling so fast about fourteen miles an hour.
I had a little talk with the pastor, he said he was afraid he would be sick on Sunday whilst he was performing his duties but he was quite all right today. His wife is on board and they are both busy writing letters of introduction for people, when they reach their destinations.
Today we received a wireless message from England but only short, it was put up for us to see.
I was talking to a nurse who has been all her life in Canada (Toronto) and has been over to England and Ireland for six months. I asked her about the winters in Canada. She said it was the only thing she had missed during her holiday. She thinks the winters are splendid in Canada.
I was sitting in the library near some ladies, writing today, when one of them turned round and asked me if I was an author, I, of course said no, but I may as well have said yes. She said I was making such copious notes she was sure I was writing a book (“of course ladies want to know everything”).
I have met several young men who are going to Calgary. One gentleman I met, who is travelling round the world, with a party they are going to Vancouver then east to Japan and back through Europe. He told me he was going to try and speculate a bit in Vancouver and was quite interested in land.
There are a lot of nice people on board, to look at the whole crew one would wonder what they were going for, they are more like a pleasure seeking party, than anything else. There is a lot of Clerks etc. and many of them say they are going on the land. I have met several surveyors and engineers.
This morning the sea is rather rough and there is a strong wind facing us and the spray, for the first time, is blowing up on deck, from the waves, it is also a little colder and the boat is rolling more than ever today. There is a little sickness this morning.
Later in the day:
The weather has become quite changed. The wind having risen and raining a little. We are now being “Rocked in the cradles of the Deep”. Most of us are feeling it a little now. I myself am feeling very bad, and cannot eat much, it is not a nice feeling, but it is something new and all interesting. There are lots of very interesting people on board, and as time goes on one makes lots of friends.
This is what happened on Wednesday:
I have missed a day out, which was very rough all day; towards evening the wind rose and the sea at bedtime was very heavy and we thought we were in for a rough night. I’ve not been able to eat at all today; there has been a lot of sickness.
We passed some sailing vessels. I don’t know how they live at all; they were tossing just like corks on the boiling sea. We soon left them. There was a lecture on Esporantos, but I was feeling too ill to do down to hear it, and one feels best in fresh air on deck. There are some gifted singers on board. Some professionals. There is music and singing every night.
Has brought a great change over us all after a terrible rocking all night everybody or nearly so is sick, half in bed including myself. I had something brought to me to eat, but very little (although I’m so bad I cannot eat). I was forced to laugh when George and the other fellows were getting up, every few minutes the boat would give a big heave, and one of these fellows a young “fool” (sleeping on opposite side to us) instead of going out to wash was washing in room, when suddenly the boat gave a big swing and his water was dashed all over, and came on to George’s bed, practically everything was moving in the room. I had some bottles on washstand, one of Eucalyptus oil was broken and spilled, they are all growling about the smell of oil. They had to dress by instalments as they could not stand for long at a time. Our berth is an outside one, with a port hole, or little round window and as we lie we look right on a level with the sea and watch the great waves rising mountains high, beating away and rising again.
I’m told there were very few people at breakfast this morning. The little window was sunk deep into the water, and then right into the air, making the room first dark and then light. Which was rather unpleasant and making one more dippy. I tried several times during the morning to get up and failed, but at last after dressing at intervals, unwashed and collarless, with overcoat and rug, I managed to crawl on deck, and found there a fine state of affairs, which was quite a novelty to me. The fore part of deck, as the wind and rain was facing in the night before they had run canvasses round to keep out the storm which formed a good warm shelter on each side of deck.
Instead of people walking gaily round deck, they were huddled in these covers lying, a helpless mass of human beings anyhow to get ease. However I took my place and lay for hours on the hard deck with just my rug. This was the most any of us did.
There were, of course, a few people moving about and could afford to laugh at us but everyone was effected more or less and those who walked staggered like drunken men, and it was only by the aid of stormy ropes that anyone was able to walk. On these occasions they tie strong ropes from side to side and from end to end of deck, for supporting passengers, the waves are rising and splashing on deck.
It is indeed a fine sight to watch a rough sea and it is fine also to be right in the midst of it, and have the same sight all round. There were no chairs used today they would not allow anyone to use them and I should think, no one would wish to use them. The Stewards and Stewardesses were busy all day attending helpless people on deck and in bed, for very few people went to meals. Towards evening the sea calmed slightly and many of us began to walk about a little. I walked a good deal and by bedtime felt a lot better but stayed out very late on deck and we saw a decided change in the weather, before retiring. This will appear to have been a bad storm but a storm is not very bad and there is nothing takes it place and I must say I have enjoyed it more than anything else all the way and after it was over was glad I’d been in it; for it is an experience worth having.
They say we passed some more sailing vessels today. George and Beckwith had been chaffing me all the way, about being ill, and said it was homesickness, but on this particular day they had not much to say. George was ill a little, but Beckwith was not much affected; he had been in to every meal; even he was a bit pale.
This morning the sea is quite calm, but there is some fog, and it is a bit chilly, although there are a few sick people, most of them have turned out today, but are still looking pale. Everybody seems in better spirits and there is much more activity on board. There are notices up this morning urging us to get our money changed; that the Purser will change money at certain times during the day. Also asking Halifax passengers to sign their names to a list in saloon entrance so that their luggage may be sorted. The next time I travel over here I shall be on a quicker boat, six days is long enough unless it was in Summer when it would be very pleasant. We have been in a thick fog today, and the fog signal is most deafening. I was looking forward to my voyage but am now looking more eagerly to the end of it. I don’t like the smell of the sea now.
The party of “blue bow ladies” are having a meeting, I suppose arranging for landing.
On the two stormy days the guards were round the tables to keep the things, they are not a little inconvenient they just resew them on the edges over the table clothes.
There is a strong wind blowing, but the sea is very calm. Rather cold and foggy; everybody is looking anxious and the chief topic of conversation is; what time shall we reach Halifax tomorrow, for after today’s reports we now know that if all goes well we shall land tomorrow. Everyday they put up the report on progress and we know how many miles we have done and how many still to go; it is shown on a chart just how we are going and the route. The tables are all filled today and everybody seems quite recovered. There is, tonight, a concert organised by passengers, it is the final. They have got our programmes and are 3/- each and are going for seamens orphans etc.
My seasickness cure did no good, or perhaps I didn’t give it the chance. I simply hadn’t energy to take it. I should never bother with anything except a little special diet. I have been told by many people to eat whether having an appetite or not, but I will never act on that advice again. I think that is wrong; fasting for a few days is more likely than the other. Sea-sickness is not worth thinking about, as it never kills, its no obstacle, but there is a great difference in people; an old Sea Captain told me (who’s been a sailor all his life) that he is still sick every time he goes to sea and some folks are half-dead, whilst others are not affected in the least.
The clocks have been put back half an hour each night at midnight since we left Liverpool. The sea is tonight very calm; the sky is quite clear and I’ve been watching the first American sunset which is exceedingly pretty.
I have been down several times looking among the 3rd class, the conditions are very bad, the people are fearfully crowded, and they have no room to walk about as I escaped on the stormy days they could not go out on deck as they are only a trifle above the water line, they would be washed overboard. There are a good many foreigners down there, also, but there aren’t any on 2nd class.
The concert passed off very well, the proceeds were £6-17/-. There was a collection in addition to the selling of programmes, and it all goes to same cause. The chair was taken by the Chaplain and the saloon was packed.
Tomorrow we breakfast half an hour earlier, as they expect an early landing.
Sunday April 19/11
Everybody is astir early, and the deck is crowded with people looking for land. It is a very clear morning, but severely cold. People are packing and getting out their baggage, the gangway is being crowded with piles of baggage.
After breakfast we tipped the Stewards; each passenger tipped their bedroom and table steward. I expect they are very badly paid and so probably rely on tips. It is rather a nuisance, but there is one good point about it, they are much more obliging. When they expect something, each table steward has about eight to attend and bedroom steward so many rooms, so they will make a good thing as some will give each a dollar, some more, and of course many less.
About 9 o’clock:- they slow down and are waiting and watching for pilot everyone is flocking to the decks . We all expected we had our last meal on board, when to our great disappointment, a dense fog set in and presently it came on a snow storm and blew very hard and we all had to retire to saloons, there to await developments. There are all kinds of rumours that the pilot is lost and that we are scouting round finding him, once we came to a stop, for first time in nine days, but there is no news of pilot.
However the storm still goes on, and we have now turned round and going back into sea, and it is definitely settled that we shall not land today. We are just hovering around passing away time in a thick fog and blinding snowstorm. So we have, after all our preparation to settle down again.
This afternoon a good many people were in the saloon and the Chaplain invited a vote as to whether he should have a service and we had one, which was very nice and put time on. A woman down in 3rd class broke her leg and they are gathering for her and will be delayed in port, they have collected about £10.
I was really glad we were staying on all night, as I’m afraid we should have spent a rough day on land probably at Halifax and we were quite safe on board.
They were all astir quite early about six o’clock. I went out on deck and found we were sailing right into port with land on each side. The hills were all covered with snow and looked very rugged. The snow the previous day had made the deck very slushy and was fast melting.
After breakfast, everybody seemed to be on deck and there was tremendous bustle and excitement as we sailed up to Halifax.
Unfortunately, however, there was another large Ocean boat sailing in ahead of us and of course that meant delay. It was the “Hesprian”, which sailed the day after us. There was a rumour that she had nearly run into us the night before, amidst the fog, but she no doubt was a little too near us.
The Doctor and Inspectors came on and went down amongst the 3rd class passengers.
Tugboats were steaming about and after what seemed a very long wait they pulled us up to the landing stage. They were soon at work getting out the baggage and everything was brisk. Halifax looks a very old-fashioned town. There was quite a lot of sleighing going on. We could see them in the streets from the boat. We however, again lunched on board and it was somewhere about 2pm when they headed us all in the largest saloon and the inspectors were soon at work. We have to produce our sailing tickets and a ticket which is given in the day before by boat officials and all families together. They want to know what we have done in England? How much money? What are we going to do and are we going to stay? They give us a stamped ticket and its over. We pass on.
The Doctor just sits and watches us all pass; of course there is a Doctor on board all journeys and he talks with Gov and so suppose he knows if any one on board ails anything.
It was about 3 o’clock when they at last allowed us to go off and we just had to show the ticket given us. We carried our bags which were very heavy and the man at the further end of custom houses passed them and allowed us to pass out.
We moved on to a restaurant in the town, where we left our hand baggage and had supper.
We then found Post Office and posted letters, had a look through town. There was not much but fast melting snow; hence the slush. It is not a very large place, but has its car service. It lies in a very hilly position, right on a hillside. There does not seem to be much business going on here, the shops are small and mean looking. So that there was nothing worth wasting time over. Some of our party were inclined to stay all night but we finally decided to get out as soon as possible.
It was quite unnecessary but we felt safer having it with us. The stewards from boat carry it right into Customs House for us, and its quite a simple matter getting them to do if, if one looks after them.
Our next business was rather more difficult, sorting out our heavy luggage and getting it passed. It is just piled up in huge heaps, tons of it and it is difficult in such a crowd. There were two boats landed on this particular day and two before were estimated 5,000 landed in three days; imagine the crowds, it was intense; so it will be easy to imagine the slowness of the process of sorting luggage. There are no porters to do everything as in England but everybody has to look after their own. However, after a lot of trouble turning over heavy bags we finally found each of our own. The customs men just walk round with chalk and mark them but the difficulty lies in getting them, as everyone wants them at same time, so that when one comes our way, we just have to make a rush at him, and try to persuade him to work at ours, so at last we were successful. He asked what we’d got in, if we’ve anything he can collect duty on. Its so easy to say no but we had high hopes and quite prepared to let him have a look if he was so inclined. However he passed it without further trouble.
We next had to proceed to RG checking office, a very important matter, we showed our tickets and they gave us checks, one of which had to be put on boxes. When we came to mine, the fellow fumbled asking if it contained lead. I informed him there was not more than 300lbs and asked if he wished to see what it contained but he said they would not allow so much weight in our package, however he finally passed it over and I was alone with it for the time being.
The trains had all been sent off, they could not get the immigrants away quick enough; we found it would be hours before we could be away.
People were lying about in the shelters, it was so crowded, the place very hot, but we were bound to stay there and wait.
The trains do not come under shelter, but passengers have to go outside and get in off the ground, there are no platforms, it is just same as getting into a tram car and they are similar to tram cars inside. It was about two o’clock when the train glided along, and there was quite a stampede and those first in got the worst accommodation the train was already nearly full so many of us got in. Our party (5 of us) were unable to get together, we got seats here and there. We sat in train till five o’clock before we started; it was such a messy business. The cars we got in had no sleeping accommodation so we of course just had to sit. The prospect of sitting a week was not very becoming to us, but those were the best hopes we had. One of our party had got a tourist ticket, eventually paying about 4f more than we had, of course George had his first class return ticket, were travelling same as us, and seemed not too amiable but it is a decided mistake to get tourist ticket at this time of year, they get no better fare to the crush. I had tried to persuade George to travel ahead of us but he travelled with us a day and half and left us and went by Montreal.
Before starting they had to put more carriages to get all passengers in first as it was breaking dawn when we started.
There was a young man sitting next to me who we had noticed on the boat. He had been a solicitor in Sheffield, having lost his hearing he had come out to Canada three years ago and worked at farming, been back to England for a holiday. He could only be spoken to by speaking tube, which he always carries. He came along with us from Halifax. He is well educated and most interesting. George he and I fed together, each have our own food. Our grub which we brought from home is all very good and quite fresh. Everything is so very dear. We were fortunate to be prepared and owe much to those that so well provided us. There is in every coach a shower but it is a nuisance and gets very dirty.
So many people as usual want it at the same time but get tired of waiting. So my spirit stove was most useful. We had a somewhat smoky breakfast the first morning but we were glad our eatables were all good. One mistake I made in packing I had put too many things together.
The country through which we passed the first day was very broken a lot of timber and bush with only patches of land cultivated or fit for cultivation. There was a good deal of snow for a good many miles after leaving Halifax, but in getting further inland we found much of it had disappeared. We stopped at most of the small stations, but only for a few minutes and we travelled very quickly.
This part of the country is not very interesting, it was so rough. We reached St. Johns in good time the first evening, but just before reaching it for a few miles we passed through a better country. We had about twenty minutes to wait, but were afraid to go very far into the town. It was a nice place, very similar to Halifax. Very hilly scenes almost built on a hillside. It is however quite an old fashioned place. The snow was all gone and streets quite clean.
Trams, of course, were running all over the town it seemed a very busy place and had many large business houses. I cannot say much about it, as I did not see a quarter of it.
After passing further it was through I think, the loveliest country I ever saw, as far as one could see there were hills covered with green spread trees. It looked just like the pictures at the lecture at Glasgow on the Rocky Mountains. This part is well worth seeing; there is also a shallow stretch of water runs about the town. I’m not sure whether it is the St. Lawrence, it can hardly be that, but it certainly is a most beautiful sight and the sight was very fine and certainly showed it up to advantage but could see the hills towering up for ten miles and looks fine over such a stretch of land. After passing away from that lovely region we came to better land for some distance. We travelled all night at a fast speed. We could of course go from one end of train to the other, to see who’s in, and we were on the look out for sleeping apartments. The deaf Gent, who’s name is Roberts found a place somewhere to sleep and I had a seat to myself. He also found a lady with three kiddies. She had’nt got a supply of bread. We gave her some of ours, and bought her a supply at St. Johns. She was going to Montreal, so we arranged to take her place next day after she left train. She had good sleeping accommodation; after we had made this arrangement someone else came along after same purpose, so we were just in time. We had been hoping all along to go to Montreal, when the officials informed us they were going to branch us off at Montreal which is another six miles from city itself we were so disappointed. They had to take our car with other passengers and the “party of women”. George another of our party (the one with tourist ticket) decided to leave us to take the Montreal route and the rest of us had to do as we were told for the time being anyhow. It was about noon said day when we reached the “parting of the ways”. It was right out on the prairie; no station; and the great powerful engines three in numbers soon had the train separated after a lot of shunting about.
Everybody had to look out for themselves, for they seemed to respect nothing, they go right on whether people are ready or not. So after travelling together for two weeks the party was “split” up and folks get a little excided at these times.
The new section of train slashed out at last, we were all at the windows waving etc. until the Montreal party turned a corner and was out of sight. Many of us never to see each other again. On we go again racing over a very rough country for many hours, there was a lot of land not fit for cultivation. This was to me rather surprising, finding so much rough land in this settled old country. There has so far been very little really good looking land, sometimes we travelled hours and never saw a decent farm.
There seems to be lots of lumber yards and seems to be the chief industry if that is the name for it, also I notice the fences are all wood and very clumsily put together. I suppose they have a way of putting up in a shape, with some nails, but takes about as much more timber as fencing in English style.
Another separation has taken place. The Toronto passengers have been cut off, hitched to another train and have now left us and of course we shall probably not see them again.
We are now at a place called (Smith Falls) from Montreal it is a double track and going straight on south of Toronto, but we must turn north again a little to get to the Winnipeg track. After leaving this place we have a very good run during the night of about 200 miles and arrive at a place North Bay about four o’clock. It is quite a centre on this line. At this station, our friend Roberts left us, and so I’m left almost alone, except for Beckwith, who spends most of his time with a rather rowdy gang of men, not however far from me, but a little too near.
Roberts and I went round to a restaurant, as soon as the train stopped. We found that Roberts’ brother had been there waiting since about midnight but had gone to a hotel in town and after saying “goodbye” he left luggage and went off to the hotel. We were informed our train would stand twenty minutes so that we were afraid to go far, however instead twenty mins: we were kept waiting four hours. We never know when we may be pushed into a siding for a few hours, as these are not regular running trains, most of the line is single and they have to get through when it is clear. Sometimes we have a long wait, when a train whisks past us and away we go.
North Bay is quite a busy town of about 1200 inhabitants, and seems a fine place. Last night a rather amusing incident occurred. I was sitting reading about midnight when the conductor came round to look at our tickets. One of them came a little ahead of the others to wake us I suppose. It was such a business, some of them did heap reproaches at the conductors, but they took it all in good part.
After leaving North Bay we seemed to be getting along well and we imagine we must be in front of Montreal party when we stopped at a small place named Chaplan. A few minutes following us another train drew up behind us and we were surprised to meet some of the other party. We found they were all there, but the train was running in two sections, their one soon went out and left us once more. The other section drew up later and we found George and his companion in it. They having spent 8 hours in Montreal and were now to go ahead of us. They soon left us waiting but we could not help ourselves. George and tourist young man were travelling first class. I understand there are more colonist trains in front and two behind independent, of the two just passed on. Each train has about 14 coaches, I am all crowded.
After leaving this place about 6 o’clock we travel at good speed all night. By daybreak we are just coming to the coast of Lake Superior. It is similar to looking over the sea, the scenery in many places is very pretty, the waves are darting up round the coast, and against the huge rocks. We pass quite near it for about 100 miles along the coast. Lake Superior is, I think, over 300 miles long and about 160 in breadth. The C.P.R. has a stream boat service from “Vault St. Marie”, on the east coast to Fort William west. There is a short distance from the coast, a number of small Islands, some of them covered with green trees and rocks which are exceedingly pretty. We have also passed two horseshoe curves and the track is close to the water edge. It is a fine sight to view along a long train such as this, gliding swiftly round such curves. It is most wonderful.
Much of the Lake near the coast is still ice-bound and we were all much interested in the sight, four dogs, during the day, were seen trotting leisurely along in a sleigh, in which were two men. It was most interesting.
This morning I was walking along the railway, whilst the train was standing to get water, when I met a young man whom I knew quite well, but was so taken by surprise, that I could not for the moment bring to mind who he was. When I remembered it was one of the Potters from Mosgrove Park. The whole family were on the train and although I had walked the length of train inside and out I had never noticed them and they had not noticed me. They were in the front of the train. They had been 13 days on sea and landed St. Johns same day as we landed at Halifax.
The two main places of interest we have passed today are Fort William and Port Anstruther, which are practically near, quite busy places, just I believe, divided by shallow river.
I understand there are lots of works here and some mines. We of course have passed away from the great Lake.
Last evening we travelled very fast 300 miles and arrived in Winnipeg about 4am. I was determined to see Winnipeg. Beckwith was not inclined and would go along with his party, their train was in waiting. I saw them off and eventually went off alone. The morning was very cold and frosty, the streets all frozen up, cars were running and a few restaurants were already open.
I walked out a little, but found it much too cold, and was obliged to return. I hurried back to station where hundreds of people were waiting. I did a little reading and writing to put on time. About 7am I left my luggage at the office and went out for breakfast. After which I had a long walk right through the town. I arrived back in time to see the people flock into “Eatons” famous establishment, meaning of course the work people.
There were hundreds, seeing them go in gives one a better idea of what the place is. It is a huge building and stands eight storeys high and five floors are open to the public. I spent nearly two hours inside, looking round. One may buy anything it is possible to get here, and at a much cheaper rate than at ordinary stores. Winnipeg is a splendid place and is growing very rapidly, wherever one goes, building and street developing is going on very largely.
After having had lunch, we resumed our journey leaving Winnipeg about 1.30pm. I was almost entirely amongst strangers this time as most of those whom I’d travelled with had gone straight on. I had not seen George but concluded he’d gone right on, however he had arrived in about midnight.
We were now right out on the open prairie and a fine country too, by far the best farming country I had seen the whole journey. We are having a lot of stoppages now; people seem to be getting in and out all along, hence the delays. We’re not getting along half so quickly, a decided change in our speed, but we only stop a few minutes. There are a few small towns. I suppose they are all called towns in this country. Shacks and small farmhouses dotted here and there, but seem quite a distance apart.
Before dark we passed through Brandon, which is a decent little place and sometime early in the evening we pass out of Manitoba into Saska Chewan, at a place called Kinkella and have 400 miles before reaching Alba. We continually pass empty trains gong back east, they go at a terrific pace. There are, out here a lot of small lakes and there seem to be a good many ducks and geese on them. It is quite a ranching part also, as there is a lot of cattle.
Sometime during the night we have passed Moore Jaw which is quite an important place, the population I believe being about 1200.
Sunday April 16 Easter Sunday
This my third Sunday of travelling, I hope it will be the last. I had almost forgotten it was Easter, until whilst reading papers I came across some Easter news and it sort of reminded me. I travelled some part with a Yankee today, but he got off at Medicine Hal about noon. This place has about 5000 population and I understand is a fast growing place.
We are now in Alberta our last province. They took off some of the coaches today, we were rather crowded.
I met a young man from Redcar today; he says I’m the first man he’s met from Cleveland, in the final years he’s been in this country. He has homesteaded in Saska Chewan and was now seeking more land. I think he said his father had been in the milk trade at Redcar, or had been, he was awfully pleased to meet me, and of course wanted to know all about Cleveland. We travelled together to Calgary, we travelled through a fine country and reached Calgary at 6pm.
Roberts and his friend were waiting for me. Beckwith, who had promised to wait at Calgary after waiting a few hours had already resumed his journey so that I did not see him again.
They took me round to see my box, which was badly broken but we tightened ropes a little and went off to the Hotel where we had dinner, had a stroll round town, which was very lively and a great many people. However, we soon made our way back to the Hotel, and got off to bed in decent time, where we had a good nights sleep, the first, almost, for weeks.
The next morning, it came on to snow heavily but we heard Martin was waiting at Olds, had come in on Saturday to meet us. We decided to take the first train out. However we slept rather long and had to rush breakfast etc. as our train was due at 8am. On checking my box at Halifax, addressed only to Calgary, also I was only booked to Calgary, so had tried to get luggage, but failed to get it on train and only just got it checked in time to catch train myself having to leave it behind. After leaving Calgary, we were soon away from the snow, into a fine farming country, I suppose very good land. This train was very crowded, many having to stand. It was a two hour journey up to Olds. Martin was waiting on platform, he was the first man I saw standing with a dog by his side.
He said until the moment he saw me he had never been sure whether I was coming or not as only George’s luggage had arrived, he naturally thought I had not come.
The next problem to decide was whether to wait for my baggage for the next train was probably bringing it but that meant staying overnight. We eventually however decided to set out without it.
They assured me this was the longest journey I’d ever make behind horses, and I think it was. The roads were not very good being very wet. However the horses were in good condition and we started out about 11am. On this rather tedious journey they informed me it would take us till 9pm and would be very cold so we wasted no time. After driving at a good speed for nine miles we unhooked the horses, in a “Goulee”, fed and watered them. We had a great many good English cakes packed in a box, we did not starve. After a little rest we again started out, but we could see the Rockies quite plain, which was a beautiful sight when covered with snow. They are some miles from here, quite a distance but are able to see so distinctly.
After about 12 miles further we pulled into a stopping house, where we had supper and fed and rested the horses. It was about 5pm when we started out once more to complete our long journey. It was a fine night but desperately cold.
The road was quite straight, no turning, till we turn in at Martin’s gate, it was 9pm when at last we did turn in.
Herbert and Lang had intended staying out on this day but we’d already heard on our way they had not done so. We could see they were still there, by the lights in the Shack. They had evidently heard us coming and were busily preparing for us.
A few more minutes and we were at last at our long journeys end. After travelling 18 days, night and day, were really not sorry after travelling 5500 miles to know it ended for a time.
I’m afraid we all sat up rather later that night, “Five lonely old batchelors”.
The next day after our arrival I had a good look round the immediate neighbourhood. Martin’s place is very good land, the whole district seems to be good and will doubtless become a good farming part. But that which surprises me most is the irregularity of the land. I had heard it was what they call rolling but that apparently means more than I expected, for I should call a lot of it hilly, of course there are no big hills such as we are accustomed to in England of course no trees, so that we can see a way in some places. Sometimes there is a hill, and we can only see a few hundred yards but on reaching the hill top we may look over a stretch of 10 yards then another and so on. I expect to see it much more level than it is. These short steep hills also make the roads much heavier than they would be in a really level country, there are some parts much flatter than this.
On the second day Herbert and Lang wanted to drive to Lochrin Valley a settlement 10 minutes from Curlew Pass to see if they could learn anything of the fishing boat which had been frozen in the river, as they wanted to cross to get to their land. I drove with them to see the place.
Olds, Lochrin and Curlew are in a divided line, east and west. The road is quite straight all the way. Between Lochrin and Olds the distance is 40 miles. Curlew being 30 miles from Olds. There are telephone runs all along, between the three towns and runs right along Martin’s fence which is on the road side. Lochrin is quite a busy little town, it is growing very rapidly. Olds is the nearest station so imagine hauling materials 40 miles by road to build a town, this is however, what these pioneers had to do.
The railway grade is cut right through it ready for the street, so they are sure of getting trains through this year and then this will be a booming place. It is chiefly a French settlement and most of the inhabitants around it are foreigners but they are chiefly a go ahead people. We had got the information required and so started on our homeward journey, but it was late when we finally did arrive. The boys had information that the ferry was washed down river, so decided not to wait for it, but go about 40 miles north to the bridge.
They started out the following Saturday and Martin started off for Calgary, George to his own place leaving me to my own resources. It was very quiet, after being so lively for a few days of course George returned at night and we had the weekend together. Some of his horses got out on the road and escaped on the open prairie during the weekend, we spent a lot of time looking for them, heard nothing until Martin brought them in on Tuesday. He had bought some in Olds, and found those that had got away near Olds so he landed back with 6 horses riding on.
This plainly shows you how far stock can wander without being stopped; they travelled 30 miles and could have gone hundreds more. All through leaving a gate open.
We saw one day a Coyote cross Martin’s place and on another occasion what is a rare thing an antelope cross within arm’s length of us. We at first only thought it was an antelope but our belief was confirmed by several other people seeing it and had been much nearer to it than us.
It is very seldom one is seen in this part but one may cross occasionally. Badgers and Gofers are very numerous; they are a sharp little thing similar to a ferret with a kind of yellow coat in winter, which changes to dark brown in summer.
There are very pretty birds, small birds are very numerous, lots of ducks and geese in some parts. Lots of fish too in the creeks and rivers. There are lots of other kinds of animals but are getting very scarce just now, besides those mentioned.
I will just try to give a short account of our trip east over the river, as it is nearly a hundred miles over the open country. Behind a team there ought to be something of interest although I don’t think I am able to make it, it appears very interesting.
We had been hurrying along with the work in order to start out and it was not the first time we’d had all been ready for starting our rather long journey. After doing, however, a little extra baking and providing for our journey in various ways we started out one very chilly morning with provisions and tent etc., as of course it was our intention to camp. It was about 7am when we pulled on to the road; the team was in good spirits and jolted along at a decent speed. When starting out a long journey it would not do to run the horses hard, it is always wise to go slowly. We had to get horses shod at Lochrin so were delayed for a time. We got away again, and had a short run before dinner, when we came to a creek, loosened our horses, fed them and had dinner. By this time it had come on to raining, so we knew worse luck was in store. We did not stay long, but some packed up again and were off down the trail faster than before.
Rain soon begins to tell on the earth and the wheels are soon laden with mud, which makes it heavy for the horses. It rained perhaps two hours, and again got out a little brighter and the roads dry when the rain ceases.
For about 20 miles of our journey was over a good trail and quite open country. Presently we began to come to some bush, and worse roads and to have more difficulty in finding the right trails. There is some land in this country called “Thistleback” so called on account of its being covered with little mounds, similar to mole-hills over there. This looks very curious, and also feels so when one is riding over it or gallop in a wagon.
However there is a lot of speculation on the original cause of this. Some say that it has been caused by prairie fires, which have eaten away the holes and left the mounds,. I will not, myself express an opinion, but this does not seem unreasonable in a dry country like this.
After, however, driving some 200 miles over the prairie it is not easily forgotten and I just wanted to describe the condition of roads, in many parts. In a settled part, where the roads are well kept they are ploughed up and therefore become level. I think I have forgotten to say, that there are no hard roads. In bad places they are just ground, they plough up a lot of soil by the roadside and haul it along by the side of a thing called a slip with two horses. They have some kind of a thing called a grader which takes quite a number of horses but as I’ve not seen one that is all I know, and I really dare not ask our intelligent Canadian about a simple thing like this, they are really so very wise.
We had anticipated doing really 50 miles of our journey the first day but we were so greatly hampered by the rain and bad road that we had to be satisfied with much less. We passed over a few miles of country that looked just rather peculiar. It was all sloughs and knobs similar to the turtle back, on a much larger scale, looking very much like the sea on a rough day. After this we began to get further into the bush, which gradually gets bigger, and thicker as we go north. The land is very much cut up by sloughs and lakes, and it is swarming with ducks. There are two items I will mention here which made things a little more difficult.
We had brought a gun and ammunition with us to shoot ducks of course to eat on the way, but this is now the close season for ducks and chickens and one is liable to be fined, they say ducks are getting scarce so have to be protected.
The other is the Sabbath laws. I don’t particularly wish any one to think that we travel on Sundays but as it was Saturday when we started out I will leave you in the dark. Well now – a man must not start a journey on Sunday, if he is out on one then he may go ahead with it, but that is all and do you know the reason for it? Well – it is not a religious motive that has prompted the legislation to pass this law. For nobody outside the churches can say anything about Sunday over here and they are not in the majority. But that is not the reason; half the people would be working on Sundays and they would be taking away work and money out of the hands of the others, the result everybody would have to work to keep par with the rest.
Believe if you like it will make no difference to me, but I have seen a little of Canada and its people. Well now – you see the ducks are protected against vicious men and what’s man protected against? The only answer is: against himself. So you see this wonderful freedom loving people have to protect themselves against themselves. They are truly a wonderful people. However I would not like anyone to think badly of them for adopting protection for you might get it in England yet.
There is another piece of law which is more sensible than either of the latter. For leaving a fire unextinguished we are liable to a fine of $100 and no alternative. It is said that a man who is the cause of a prairie fire may as well get of the country without delay so we have to be just most careful.
I’m afraid I’ve wandered a long way from my subject but will now try to get back. It was about 7pm when we drove our team right into the thick bush, where it would have seemed almost impossible to get them out, but as it was rather a damp, chilly night we needed shelter so we drove them well in, unpacked and cleared a space in bush for camping and almost had to cut the horses out. However we soon had our tent fixed, fire lit and supper ready. We had much to do and darkness coming in.
A few willows made a good spring mattress and kept our bed from the damp ground. There was however a duck (a protected one of course) to shoot, and before bedtime this was dressed and potatoes prepared for food next morning, just imagine what a busy night we had. It was quite dark by the time all was done and ready for bed, try and imagine yourself, lying on a bed made of willows, amongst bush, which happens to be away on the boundless prairie but will be nothing unless you can hear the Coyotes howling, ducks quacking, grogs chirping and other pleasant noises but they soon drummed us to sleep, this was, I believe my first night to sleep in a tent, but I’m quite certain I never had a better nights sleep.
The next morning we wished an early start so it was very necessary to have the fire on in good time. You’ll remember there was a duck to roast before breakfast; which was done all in good time.
Our method of lighting a fire is of course very similar to that adopted by campers and especially gypsies in England. There were plenty of willow sticks which burnt very readily. So with a roaring fire almost enough to roast a bullock, breakfast was soon ready. There were horses to water and feed and harness so after breakfast we soon packed up and once more ready to start. It was a fine morning and we were in the midst of some fine scenery. The roads were in good condition once more after a dry night and the team jolted on at a good speed. After driving a while we somehow got off the right trail, and went two miles too far east and found ourselves on the riverbanks. This delayed us for a time but we soon got to the right trail. We reached the bridge about 3am. This was a fine spot surrounded by lovely scenery. The hills and rivers are splendid and the bridge making a fine picture.
Consent is a very small village situated by the river but was soon lost to view by the hills, trees and bush. We could have reached shelter which was about 18 miles if we had cared to do so, but we thought after travelling 70 miles in two days we were not doing so badly. We however went about six miles further and from the road a little way pitched our tent. We had intended going a little further but we struck some “Yorkshire folks” and stayed right near their house. They simply would have us stay, when they knew where we came from. They wanted us to have supper and breakfast with them, but we declined, however they brought us out tea. There was just the man and his wife; both Yorkshire and they were the nicest people I’ve met in this country. They had a really comfortable log house and seemed to be farming well and doing well and his wife although she’d not been used to farming, knew almost as much as he did now. The man had farmed near Scarborough but knew quite a lot about Cleveland. They kept us talking very late that evening. The next morning we were not in such a hurry, as we knew we were but within a few miles of the place we intended staying for a time. It was nearly 9am when we finally left this place, we now came out into a much better farming country and the land very good and of course the railroad runs through it so that there is much more activity going on. We reached shelter about noon, got the information we needed, unharnessed our horses and had dinner and started out again four miles north. It came on raining well next day, so we were delayed a few days as the roads were soon in bad condition. We had intended going further on to see more land, and probably have gone back another way over the river, but owing to delay we finally decided to take same route, so I need not say much about our return. We called upon and lunched with our Yorkshire friends passing over the bridge in good time the first day.
The first evening we camped in amongst the bush in a sheltered place, quite near a big ranch. The next morning we lit fire by roadside, where there is not so much grass so less danger of spreading. We had just sat down by it when a big drove of cattle came along. I should think 200 head. They were driving them away to be shipped. The drovers looked very savagely at us as they knew the cattle would not pass the fire, the only alternative was to drive them through a big slough, which they did with much difficulty. I took a snapshot of them, but the morning was not very bright so it did not come out well. We drove back over nearly same road, we enjoyed the scenery much.
We come across some Yankees and they had closed the road up over their land, which we wanted to be through. They had a dog that had evidently been worrying a neighbours poultry, they said they didn’t want to shoot it, would we have it? However we told them we had no use for it, and they asked us if we would take it ten or twenty miles on our journey and tie it up against somebody’s door and leave it, so in order not to offend them, we agreed, after going about a mile we took off the rope and put on its neck a ticket on which we inscribed; “quite unmanageable, kindly keep it till we come again and we’ll have it”. We thought we’d show Mr Yankee we would be a sharp as him for once.
Lang was with us this time so more of us to do the cooking etc. We lunched just where we camped the first night out, it was a swelteringly hot day so we had a good rest, before starting again. Strange to say it came on very cold during the afternoon and by suppertime we found it advisable to run up our tent, it was as we thought coming on a hailstorm. However it was not so very bad and we went on again and by driving very hard, we eventually reached our journey end. We drove from Stetter to Curlew in two days near 100 miles. Whenever it was possible we drove right through the prairie, open section and it was nearly 11pm when we surprised Martin’s housekeeper. The night was very keen and frosty.
I really did not intend returning to Curley but going right down to Calgary from Curlew by train. However we decided to go right into Olds with first train that passed. We were up in good time, but had to run with luggage only partly packed and just caught some Germans going in so got started in good time. It was a fearfully cold day and about noon came on a snowstorm. We expected these fellows would lunch at the stopping house. So had brought no lunch with us. They had their own lunch and only stopped by roadside. We had to go without food from breakfast till we reached Olds about 4pm. Though we had breakfasted early we were just a bit hungry and cold when we reached town. We got down to Calgary lake the same evening, but the storm still continued all night, the stock were in bad condition.
When we reached Olds we found we were in the hands of rogues. It is usual when given a ride to give them something to pay for their dinner but they charged us two dollars and a half each, that being 19/- each, for a ride on a wagon and being about frozen they said Martin had made a bargain with them, but I knew that was not so or he would have told us. I at first refused to pay so much but they took possession of my luggage refusing to give me it till I had paid it. We finally had to pay up, but “Yankees” are all rogues.
Well – for about two days all was at a standstill in Calgary as is I supposed always the case in the country. A wet day or two and everything outside is drawn up to a standstill, but gets going in a few hours when the rain ceases and it beings to dry up.
I’m afraid I’ve already written too much but I will fill up the few remaining pages with something that might chance to be of interest to someone if not, well – there’s only the wasted ink, and I will count nothing for the time.
Most people who may chance to see this have doubtless heard a good deal about Canada and this may probably only remind them of what they already heard before. However I thought I would write a little on Calgary. as it is (thought not a western capital) the largest of the prairie towns. I have now lived in it for over a month. I may claim to know a little about it, and what I write here I shall never write in letters, so if there is anything worthwhile remember it.
Calgary may truly be taken as a type of the western towns, with however the exception of one thing which is I think a great blundering oversight on the part of those who had laid it out and planned it and will always be a great drawback. This is the extreme narrowness of the streets, which are much narrower than those of Winnipeg which is of course quite an old town compared to Calgary. Many of the streets are not much old country streets in England (England is always called the “old country” here and of course is so to us) but I will I hope in spite of this drawback show you that it is a long way ahead of England.
Many English people, I believe, have a notion that what we call a town over here is just a small insignificant place made up by a few hundred homesteads and ranches and I may say if this is the idea you entertained of Calgary you may dismiss it at once, but think of it as a very important city. It is always called the “City” and rightly so.
At the taking of the last census I believe Calgary had a population of 32,000. The census is at present being taken, and it is rumoured it will be 50,000. I am not sure how often the census is taken, but it is not every 10 years as in the “old country” but I think every two or three. I believe Calgary had 7 or 8 years ago only 5,000 people. I may be wrong with these figures but I know it was a very low figure. Well now – I will try to describe to you what Calgary is like. It is surrounded by hills not very high but the city lies in a basin. If you climb up any of the hills, you look down on it, and you can see almost every building and I will leave you to imagine what a fine view this is. It is also surrounded on every side by a river. It splits in two at I think the west end of the town and runs right out into a very wide circle forming an Island. This river, of course, accounts for the hills, the island has been chosen as the town site.
She has not been satisfied with the limited space inside the river, but has burst out on almost every side and it is clambering over the hills at a rapid pace, in spite of the fact that there is a lot of land still inside, yet to build upon.
Most of which is held by speculators at a very high price.
The river, is of course, only shallow, not however too much so for suicides etc. as only a week ago a woman deliberately threw herself into it and a few days previous to that a horse was also drowned in it.
It is bridged on all sides and the trains run over. There are two sections over the river, which are almost like little towns. East Calgary and “Crescent Heights” are their names. The rivers namely “Bow River” and “Elbow River”. These are all laid out on a throw system, also named on a system. One part they are called “Avenues” and another street the Avenues run east and west at site north and south. Beginning at the north side close to river 1st Avenue and counting up to something near twenty on the south. Then we begin at Centre Street of course in centre of town then 1st Street East and 1st West and so on running into turns at each side of the centre. Well – this is hardly worth mentioning for you probably know it all, however, this is the American system all over, I think, and is adopted all over Canada at any rate in all the new places.
The streets each way are perfectly straight, crossing each other at right angles everywhere, so as you go through the streets, at a certain distance you come to a crossroad, cutting the buildings into blocks. In the main streets two rows of buildings are arranged back to back, and have a back road which is rather narrow, through which the telephone and electric wires run, also much heavy traffic which helps the main streets a good deal.
The Avenues with the exception of the two chief ones, are all lined with trees. Many have trees inside gardens and a row outside the footpaths and in some parts the footpaths are already overturning with trees and thick bush at this time of the year and look simply splendid. Most of the houses, have gardens also trees planted. Lawns are well kept and the flowers look fine. It is quite a common sight to see ladies gardening and in the evening watering their lawns and flowers with hosepipes, water is very plentiful. There are in Calgary some beautiful residences, gardens and grounds splendidly laid out.
Nearly all the houses have balconies and there with trees, lawns and flowers etc and the neatness of houses look decidedly attractive. They are, of course, mainly of wood, with shingled roofs. It would be quite safe to say 80% are wood, but they are very nearly finished and painted chiefly white and green.
At present I am residing in 1st Street East and I can go out and look away from this from the centre of town and miles away at each end, land away out of town. At each side of road it is lined with trees which look extremely pretty; viewing them along such a distances as this, but by that I again wished to show the extreme straightness of the streets. Many people think streets don’t look so straight as crooked (especially English folks) but I like them much better and think they are much more convenient. And its most easy to find ones way about. Numbers are on Street corners and sometimes carved in cement under ones feet.
You will understand that a town like this, which has grown in a few years from nothing, owing to the lack of labour, street developing is a good deal behind and by no means are the roads all paved, as it is only in the summer months that this sort of work can be carried out to any large extent, but as you walk round the town, you may perhaps pass half a dozen gangs of men at work, (as much as 100 in a gang) tearing up the streets, preparing them and laying tram lines. A week later, you may pass by again and find them perhaps a mile away, or in the side street, having left behind them a perfectly new fine street and line. This is how the work is going on in whatever direction you take.
In order to show you how work is progressing I will try and describe to you just one contraction I was interested in a little while ago and had the opportunity of watching them for a few days and getting to know a little about it. They were hauling gravel for the city and also some private firms, the city is the Council usually called the Corporation in England. They had when I saw them last about 30 teams on and about 20 men to fill the wagon at the gravel pit. The man with team does but drive the horses whilst the men fill it and are moving around in a rush all the time, and each man drives right away to town as soon as loaded. Each one carries 1½ yards by measurement, which I think is 2 tons in weight. This firm had demand for more than 1000 yards per day. They build a large camp and have about 70 teams on now, I expect and camp them out of town, I don’t know how many men they will have.
They mix the gravel with cement and pour it down in cartloads and of course making it perfectly level it is mixed by steam. They next find some smooth composition on the top which makes the roads like iron. The soft roads, which are not yet paved get as hard as some roads in very dry weather but when a little rain comes, things are in a very short time very muddy and almost impassable.
The tram lines are very often laid before the streets are paved but I believe are torn up as soon as paving operations being. The roads when once paved, are not always needing repairs. The main streets are paved with bricks. There is also all the building going on in the town on every street new buildings are being raised and very rapidly and every important new building is an improvement on the last. There is at present some very large buildings on the way. The CPR is building a very big hotel near the station, the Hudson Bay Co. are building large stores that will take years to complete.
There is a hotel quite near almost completed. Seven storeys high, it is a brick building and has a lift. I’ve been dozen of times up its winding stairway, only this morning I was standing on the roof, so I know what its like climbing up the steps. The roofs are all flat, it is an exceedingly fine building, and entirely equipped with everything modern.
All the centre of the town is built of stone and brick, the large business places, banks which are very numerous and Post Offices etc. This morning from roof of building I’ve referred to I had a splendid view of the whole town and could see the Rocky Mountains very clearly.
The tram service I think I ought to mention. They do not run in every street but every other. Cars are very similar to those of England but do not work on the same reversible principle. They turn round or at least at points. They run in a circle and turn bodily round. I think they usually run round and round the city.
Last week was a week of tragedy for Calgary. I have already referred to one and I think the same day a poor woman was killed being run over with a car having got off one and stepped right in front of another and was dragged along way under the fender of cars. A most horrible death. Only a few days afterwards a baby was found in the river and a day or two before all this a man shot a policeman. This of course all fills up the newspapers.
The station is very small for a place like this, but the Railway Companies are very independent unless there is danger of another Company coming in and then they’ll do anything.
Every house has electric light, and when going to bed, we only have an electric lamp to switch on; no fiddling with gas metres, or “penny in the slot” etc. also telephones, we can phone from our own room door to any part of town.
There are some very fine churches in Calgary. The Methodists, Wesley and Dimitives are in this country amalgamated.
The Church of England is also a very large place and there are also lots of smaller places all over the town. Presbyterians, Baptists Congregationalists all have their own churches.
The Canadian solders are at present camping a little way out of town. I saw this afternoon a large batch of them pass through all mounted. I believe most of them are mounted. They could never get over the prairie on foot. There will be a big parade on Coronation Day and I expect to get a few snapshots. It will be a general holiday in Calgary and there is lots of sport.
The car-fares, I forgot to mention are rather different to England. The conductors I understand buy tickets and sell them at a certain rate.
You can purchase eight tickets for a quarter or 25 cents and with one of these you ride as far as you wish. I do not exactly know the price of one ticket but it will not be less than five cents, as that is the least coin used in this part of the world. You cannot use a cent this side of Winnipeg if you want a single stamp you pay five centres, of course you can get five cent stamps with it. Any kind of newspaper is five cents. Although you can get any weekly sent for one dollar per year. That is less than two cents off each copy.
Motor cars are very much used, on fine clear nights the streets are full of them. When the police have to conduct main corners. They are very numerous in the day and even in bad weather when the roads are very muddy they go running and splashing about. They travel on roads English folks would say would ruin a car and big fine cars too. There are several big motor cars and many of them hire their cars out.
Another important item, I think I have not mentioned is the fire brigade. They are very numerous and are posted in every part of the town and have every modern appliance and staff of men on the spot always. They each have the horses ready and motor cars. The Captain rides ahead in car which makes a loud whistling noise which everybody understands and so makes a clear coast for it.
They have everything fixed in three minutes, when the bell rings and they’re very often out in less.
They are of course, often being called out for the smallest outbreak as if it got a good hold it might mean half the town being destroyed. The firemen are all drilled and thoroughly trained and always in uniform.
The horses, I am told, are so well trained that when the fire bell rings the stable door is automatically opened, the horses walk immediately into their places under their harness which is hanging on the roof and by the touch of a spring the harness is lowered and just clasped on almost in one piece.
The men are instantly in their places, therefore they are easily away in three minutes.
The stations are all open for one to examine. Of course I know you have all these things in England.
One night they were called out I was out in the street with my camera but although the sun had not set it was cut off the scene by tall buildings. My films are now being developed but I don’t expect anything.
Last night I went to hear a London Congregationalist, principle of Hackney College; he was an old gentleman, but delivered a good speech.
There are lots of political meetings in town and all parties are represented, even the socialists. I have not heard of the suffragettes but the women are organised in some way. Only tonight I noticed a meeting would be addressed by a lady a social reformer and if I’d known where the church was I should have gone. I should like to see the suffragettes out here!!!
There is all nationalities in Calgary but most are Chinese, or as they are termed here “Chinks”. They have laundries, restaurants and some of them stores. There is in one part nothing but Chinks. They go about hunting laundry and bring it right back. As I write this the “old fool” who takes mine has just brought it in. He comes every Saturday night somewhere about midnight. Sometimes everybody is in bed. However they are useful in their way, especially since there is a scarcity of women.
There are also a great many squaws of both sexes. With blankets and shawls tied about them and beads hanging around their necks. Some of them look very inhuman. They go round amongst the dustbins sorting out all the rubbish.
I think I have already told you how very smart the people of Calgary are, but a lot of them talk as though they had a big crust in their throats and to see them going about chewing you would really think something was wrong. I believe if you look in the dictionary you will find I’m not far wrong when I say they “chew their cuds”. Every shop sells chewing gum and it is very largely used by those who don’t indulge in the other sort.
I do not know if I have already mentioned the cost of living here or not. But everything is just about twice as much as in England and it is impossible to get room and board under six dollars per week that being 25/- and at the Hotels two dollars per day.
I notice they are having on “Coronation Day” several different races, horse races, foot races, and sports. It is going to be quite lively and there is to be a big parade with the soldiers.
The streets are full of soldiers every night from camp but they are not the well disciplined men we see in England, they have glorious fine uniforms, but the men are not this. Some of them look more like escaped convicts but I think they are mostly rescues or territorials or some such. However I suppose they are very brave fellows.
I have been reading tonight in the overseas Daily Mail (so called but which is a weekly printed specially in London for overseas) that you’ve had the finest month in May, that you have had for a lot of years and I was thinking things must have had a turn since I left for it has usually been a miserable month.
The Editor speaks of a great heat wave and the pretty flowers that are blossoming in the parks and gardens of London and I think perhaps you must have had some April showers. I suppose London will never have been so pretty as it is going to be next week and I really feel as though I should like to be there, but I’m afraid I’m too late. We get lots of news and lies in the Canadian papers. If there is a by election in England or Lord Roseberry makes a speech or Chamberlain sends a letter to the press, we have it here next day, but we don’t often get the real thing I’m afraid. By the phoney papers the English public are just about murdering (or as we say lynching) our Prime Minister, but whatever they do they can’t get over the fact that Canada has been well ruled.
Since I came out we have had all kinds of weather, snow, frost, hail, rain and heat and it has not appeared to me so very much different to the English climate but now it seems to be getting hotter every day and today June 19 it is intense.
According to reports, Canada is going to have what the papers term as a bumper crop and I think the moist spring, must have been favourable to all kinds of crops. There is just off the lake, a large Indian reserve been sold, somewhere in Calgary and district and land has been making very high prices. I suppose the Indians are being moved away to another part out of the way.
I met the man who sat next me at table on board a few days ago, also another man who travelled to Winnipeg with me and yesterday I met a painter who travelled on the “Canada” on his next voyage and they had had a similar voyage.
I have now reached the last page so will not write any more. I think I have already too much, much of which is not at all interest, but if one really wished to write more there is plenty to write about but no doubt would take a lot if time and would be necessary to look up facts regards the country and study a little of its history.
There is certainly plenty of scope for those who wished to take the trouble and had the time. There is however lots of good books on Canada but there is no reason why there should not be others forthcoming.
Well – I must say Canada will be a prosperous country in the future and it is quite up to anything I expected of it. So I am quite satisfied. If anyone should require further information please let me know.
Calgary is all bustle and hurry for the Coronation. A big arch is being erected in Centre Street which is to be donated and the City will be very smart. The Town Hall is already decorated on the outside and looks fine. Two huge guns standing in front. George saw the King in very large letters. The shops are all full of Coronation goods and “Union Jacks” and they say Canada is not loyal but all sane folks in Canada are loyal to the “Old Country”.