[Transcriber's note: This book is an account by a British journalist of the cross-Canada tour, by train, in 1919, of Edward VIII, British Prince of Wales. In 1936, Edward abdicated from the British throne to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee.]
[Frontispiece: H. R. H. THE PRINCE OF WALES]
THE PRINCE OF WALES
W. DOUGLAS NEWTON
AUTHORIZED CORRESPONDENT IN AMERICA WITH
H. R. H. THE PRINCE OF WALES
AUTHOR OF "GREEN LADIES," "THE WAR CACHE," ETC.
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
NEW YORK LONDON
COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
AND THE CARGO OF "CARNARVON."
It was on Friday, August 1, 1919, that "the damned reporters" and the Times correspondent's hatbox went on board the light cruiser Dauntless at Devonport.
The Dauntless had just arrived from the Baltic to load up cigarettes—at least, that was the first impression. In the Baltic the rate of exchange had risen from roubles to packets of Players, and a handful of cigarettes would buy things that money could not obtain. Into the midst of a ship's company, feverishly accumulating tobacco in the hope of cornering at least the amber market of the world, we descended.
Actually, I suppose, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales had been the first interrupter of the Dauntless' schemes. Lying alongside Devonport quay to refit—in that way were the cigarettes covered up—word was sent that the Dauntless with her sister ship, Dragon, was to act as escort to the battle-cruiser Renown when she carried the Prince to Canada.
Though he came first we could not expect to be as popular as the Prince, and when, therefore, those on board also learnt that the honour of acting as escort was to be considerably mitigated by a cargo from Fleet Street, they were no doubt justified in naming us "damned."
We did litter them up so. The Dauntless is not merely one of the latest and fastest of the light cruisers, she is also first among the smartest. To accommodate us they had to give way to a rash of riveters from the dock-yard who built cabins all over the graceful silhouette. When our telegrams, and ourselves, and our baggage (including the Times' hatbox) arrived piece by piece, each was merely an addition to the awful mess on deck our coming had meant.
Actually we could not help ourselves. Dock strikes, ship shortage and the holiday season had all conspired to make any attempt to get to Canada in a legitimate way a hopeless task. Only the Admiralty's idea to pre-date the carrying of commercial travellers on British battleships could get us to the West at all. The Admiralty, after modest hesitation, had agreed to send us in the Dauntless, and before the cruiser sailed we all realized how fortunate we were to have been unlucky at the outset.
We sailed on August 2 from Devonport, three days before Renown and Dragon left Portsmouth, and when one of us suggested that this was a happy idea to get us to St. John's, Newfoundland, in order to be ready for the Prince, he was told:
"Not at all, we're out looking for icebergs."
We were to act as the pilot ship over the course.
We found icebergs, many of them; even, we nearly rammed an iceberg in the middle of a foggy night, but we found other things, too.
We found that we had got onto what the Navy calls a "happy ship," and if anybody wants to taste what real good fellowship is I advise him to go to sea on what the Navy calls "a happy ship." However much we had disturbed them, the officers of the Dauntless did not let that make any difference in the warmth of their hospitality. We were made free of the ward-room, and that Baltic tobacco. We were initiated into "The Grand National," a muscular sport in which the daring exponent turns a series of somersaults over the backs of a line of chairs; and we were admitted into the raggings and the singing of ragtime.
We were made splendidly at home. Not only in the ward-room that did a jazz with a disturbing spiral movement when we speeded up from our casual 18 knots to something like 28 in a rough sea, but from the bridge down to the boiler room, where we watched the flames of oil fuel making steam in the modern manner, we were drawn into the charmed circle of comradeship and keenness that made up the essential spirit of that fine ship's company.
The "damned reporters," on a trip in which even the weather was companionable, were given the damnedest of good times, and it was with real regret that, on the evening of Friday, August 8, we saw the high, grim rampart wall of Newfoundland lift from the Western sea to tell us that our time on the Dauntless would soon be finished.
Actually we left the Dauntless at St. John's, New Brunswick, where we became the guests of the Canadian Government which looked after us, as it looked after the whole party, with so great a sense of generosity and care that we could never feel sufficiently grateful to it.
PREFACE I NEWFOUNDLAND II ST. JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK III ON THE TRAIN BETWEEN ST. JOHN AND HALIFAX IV HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA V CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND AND HABITANT, CANADA VI QUEBEC VII THE MOBILE HOTEL DE LUXE: THE ROYAL TRAIN VIII THE CITY OF CROWDS: TORONTO: ONTARIO IX OTTAWA X MONTREAL: QUEBEC XI ON THE ROAD TO TROUT XII PICNICS AND PRAIRIES XIII THE CITY OF WHEAT: WINNIPEG, MANITOBA XIV THE FRINGE OF THE GREAT NORTH-WEST: SASKATOON AND EDMONTON XV CALGARY AND THE CATTLE RANCH XVI CHIEF MORNING STAR COMES TO BANFF AND THE ROCKIES XVII THE PACIFIC CITIES: VANCOUVER AND VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA XVIII APPLE LAND: OKANAGAN AND KOOTENAY LAKES XIX THE PRAIRIES AGAIN XX SILVER, GOLD AND COMMERCE XXI NIAGARA AND THE TOWNS OF WESTERN ONTARIO XXII MONTREAL XXIII WASHINGTON XXIV NEW YORK
WESTWARD WITH THE PRINCE OF WALES
St. John's, Newfoundland, was the first city of the Western continent to see the Prince of Wales. It was also the first to label him with one of the affectionate, if inexplicable sobriquets that the West is so fond of.
Leaning over the side of the Dauntless on the day of the Prince's visit, a seaman smiled down, as seamen sometimes do, at a vivid little Newfoundland Flapper in a sunset-coloured jumper bodice, New York cut skirt, white stockings and white canvas boots. The Flapper looked up from her seat in the stern of her "gas" launch (gasolene equals petrol), and smiled back, as is the Flapper habit, and the seaman promptly opened conversation by asking if the Flapper had seen the Prince.
"You bet," said the Flapper. "He's a dandy boy. He's a plush."
His Royal Highness became many things in his travels across America, but I think it ought to go down in history that at St. John's, Newfoundland, he became a "plush."
Newfoundland also introduced another Western phenomenon. It presented us to the race of false prophets whom we were to see go down in confusion all the way from St. John's to Victoria and back again to New York.
Members of this race were plentiful in St. John's. As we spent our days before the Prince's arrival picking up facts and examining the many beautiful arches of triumph that were being put up in the town, we were warned not to expect too much from Newfoundland. St. John's had not its bump of enthusiasm largely developed, we were told; its people were resolutely dour and we must not be disappointed if the Prince's reception lacked warmth. In all probability the weather would conform to the general habit and be foggy.
Here, as elsewhere, the prophets were confounded. St. John's proved second to none in the warmth of its affectionate greeting—that splendid spontaneous welcome which the whole West gave to the Prince upset all preconceived notions, swept away all sense of set ceremonial and made the tour from the beginning to the end the most happy progress of a sympathetic and responsive youth through a continent of intimate personal friends.
The Dauntless went out from St. John's on Sunday, August 10, to rendezvous with Renown and Dragon, and the three great modern warships came together on a glorious Western evening.
There was a touch of drama in the meeting. In the marvellous clear air of gold and blue that only the American Continent can show, we picked up Renown at a point when she was entering a long avenue of icebergs. There were eleven of these splendid white fellows in view on the skyline when we turned to lead the great battleship back to the anchorage in Conception Bay, north of St. John's, and as the ships followed us it was as though the Prince had entered a processional way set with great pylons arranged deliberately to mark the last phase of his route to the Continent of the West.
Some of these bergs were as large, as massive and as pinnacled as cathedrals, some were humped mounds that lifted sullenly from the radiant sea, some were treacherous little crags circled by rings of detached floes—the "growlers," those almost wholly submerged masses of ice that the sailor fears most. Most of the bergs in the two irregular lines were distant, and showed as patches of curiously luminant whiteness against the intense blue of the sky. Some were close enough for us to see the wonderful semi-transparent green of the cracks and fissures in their sides and the vivid emerald at the base that the bursting seas seemed to be eternally polishing anew.
When Renown was sighted, a mere smudge on the horizon, we saw the flash of her guns and heard faintly the thud of the explosions. She was getting in some practice with her four-inch guns on the enticing targets of the bergs.
We were too far away to see results, but we were told that as a spectacle the effect of the shell-bursts on the ice crags was remarkable. Under the explosions the immense masses of these translucent fairy islands rocked and changed shape. Faces of ice cliffs crumbled under the hits and sent down avalanches of ice into the furious green seas the shocks of the explosions had raised.
This was one of the few incidents in a journey made under perfect weather conditions in a vessel that is one of the "wonder ships" of the British Navy. The huge Renown had behaved admirably throughout the passage. She had travelled at a slow speed, for her, most of the time, but there had been a spell of about an hour when she had worked up to the prodigious rate of thirty-one knots an hour. Under these test conditions she had travelled like an express with no more structural movement than is felt in a well-sprung Pullman carriage.
The Prince had employed his five day's journey by indulging his fancy for getting to know how things are done. Each day he had spent two hours in a different part of the ship having its function and mechanism explained to him by the officer in charge.
As he proved later in Canada when visiting various industrial and agricultural plants, His Royal Highness has the modern curiosity and interest for the mechanics of things. Indeed, throughout the journey he showed a distinct inclination towards people and the work that ordinary people did, rather than in the contemplation of views however splendid, and the report that he said at one time, "Oh, Lord, let's cut all this scenery and get back to towns and crowds," is certainly true in essence if not in fact.
It was in the beautiful morning of August 11th that the Prince made his first landfall in the West, and saw in the distance the great curtain of high rock that makes the grim coast-line of Newfoundland.
For reasons of the Renown's tonnage he had to go into Conception Bay, one of the many great sacks of inlets that make the island something that resembles nothing so much as a section of a jig-saw puzzle. The harbour of St. John's could float Renown, but its narrow waters would not permit her to turn, and the Prince had to transfer his Staff and baggage to Dragon in order to complete the next stage of the voyage.
Conception Bay is a fjord thrusting its way through the jaws of strong, sharp hills of red sandstone piled up in broken and stratified masses above grey slate rock. On these hills cling forests of spruce and larch in woolly masses that march down the combes to the very water's edge. It is wild scenery, Scandinavian and picturesque.
In the combes—the "outports" they are called—are the small, scattered villages of the fishermen. The wooden frame houses have the look of the packing-case, and though they are bright and toy-like when their green or red or cinnamon paint is fresh, they are woefully drab when the weather of several years has had its way with them.
In front of most of the houses are the "flakes," or drying platforms where the split cod is exposed to the air. These "flakes" are built up among the ledges and crevices of the rock, being supported by numberless legs of thin spruce mast; the effect of these spidery platforms, the painted houses, the sharp stratified red rock and the green massing of the trees is that of a Japanese vignette set down amid inappropriate scenery.
Cod fishing is, of course, the beginning and the end of the life of many of these villages on the bays that indent so deeply the Newfoundland coast. It is not the adventurous fishing of the Grand Banks; there is no need for that. There is all the food and the income man needs in the crowded local waters. Men have only to go out in boats with hook and line to be sure of large catches.
Only a few join the men who live farther to the south, about Cape Race, in their trips to the misty waters of the Grand Banks. Here they put off from their schooners in dories and make their haul with hook and line.
A third branch of these fishers, particularly those to the north of St. John's, push up to the Labrador coast, where in the bays, or "fishing rooms," they catch, split, head, salt and dry the superabundant fish.
By these methods vast quantities of cod and salmon are caught, and, as in the old days when the hardy fishermen of Devon, Brittany, Normandy and Portugal were the only workers in these little known seas, practically all the catch is shipped to England and France. During the war the cod fishers of Newfoundland played a very useful part in mitigating the stringency of the British ration-cards, and there are hopes that this good work may be extended, and that by setting up a big refrigerating plant Newfoundland may enlarge her market in Britain and the world.
With the fishery goes the more dangerous calling of sealing. For this the men of Newfoundland set out in the winter and the spring to the fields of flat "pan" ice to hunt the seal schools.
At times this means a march across the ice deserts for many days and the danger of being cut off by blizzards; when that happens no more news is heard of the adventurous hunters.
Every few years Newfoundland writes down the loss of a ship's company of her too few young men, for Newfoundland, very little helped by immigration, exists on her native born. "A crew every six or eight years, we reckon it that way," you are told. It is part of the hard life the Islanders lead, an expected debit to place against the profits of the rich fur trade.
Solidly blocking the heart of Conception Bay is a big island, the high and irregular outline of which seems to have been cut down sharply with a knife. This is Bell Island, which is not so much an island as a great, if accidental, iron mine.
Years ago, when the island was merely the home of farmers and fishermen, a shipowner in need of easily handled ballast found that the subsoil contained just the thing he wanted. By turning up the thin surface he came upon a stratum of small, square slabs of rock rather like cakes of soap. These were easily lifted and easily carted to his ship.
He initiated the habit of taking rock from Bell Island for ballast, and for years shipmasters loaded it up, to dump it overboard with just as much unconcern when they took their cargo inboard. It was some time before an inquiring mind saw something to attract it in the rock ballast; the rock was analyzed and found to contain iron.
Turned into a profiteer by this astonishing discovery, the owner of the ground where the slabs were found clung tenaciously to his holding until he had forced the price up to the incredible figure of 100 dollars. He sold with the joyous satisfaction of a man making a shrewd deal.
His ground has changed hands several times since, and the prices paid have advanced somewhat on his optimistic figure; for example, the present company bought it for two million dollars.
The ore is not high grade, but is easily obtained, and so can be handled profitably. In the beginning it was only necessary to turn over the turf and take what was needed, the labour costing less than a shilling a ton. Now the mines strike down through the rock of the island beneath the sea, and the cost of handling is naturally greater. It is worth noting that prior to 1914 practically all the output of this essentially British mine went to Germany; the war has changed that and now Canada takes the lion's share.
It was under the cliffs of Bell Island, near the point where the long lattice-steel conveyors bring the ore from the cliff-top to the water-level, that the three warships dropped anchor. As they swung on their cables blasting operations in the iron cliffs sent out the thud of their explosions and big columns of smoke and dust, for all the world as though a Royal salute was being fired in honour of the Prince's arrival.
During the day His Royal Highness went ashore informally, mainly to satisfy his craving for walking exercise. Before he did so, he received the British correspondents on board the Renown, and a few minutes were spent chatting with him in the charming and spacious suite of rooms that Navy magic had erected with such efficiency that one had to convince oneself that one really was on a battleship and not in a hotel de luxe.
We met a young man in a rather light grey lounge suit, whose boyish figure is thickening into the outlines of manhood. I have heard him described as frail; and a Canadian girl called him "a little bit of a feller" in my hearing. But one has only to note an excellent pair of shoulders and the strength of his long body to understand how he can put in a twenty-hour day of unresting strenuosity in running, riding, walking and dancing without turning a hair.
It is the neat, small features, the nose a little inclined to tilt, a soft and almost girlish fairness of complexion, and the smooth and remarkable gold hair that give him the suggestion of extreme boyishness—these things and his nervousness.
His nervousness is part of his naturalness and lack of poise. It showed itself then, and always, in characteristic gestures, a tugging at the tie, the smoothing-down of the hair with the flat of the hand, the furious digging of fists into pockets, a clutching at coat lapels, and a touch of hesitance before he speaks.
He comes at you with a sort of impulsive friendliness, his body hitched a little sideways by the nervous drag of a leg. His grip is a good one; he meets your eyes squarely in a long glance to which the darkness about his eyes adds intensity, as though he is getting your features into his memory for all time, in the resolve to keep you as a friend.
He speaks well, with an attractive manner and a clear enunciation that not even acute nervousness can slur or disorganize. He is, in fact, an excellent public speaker, never missing the value of a sentence, and managing his voice so well that even in the open air people are able to follow what he says at a distance that renders other speakers inaudible.
In private he is as clear, but more impulsive. He makes little darting interjections which seem part of a similar movement of hands, or the whole of the body, and he speaks with eagerness, as though he found most things jolly and worth while, and expects you do too. Obviously he finds zest in ordinary human things, and not a little humour, also, for there is more often than not a twinkle in his eyes that gives character to his friendly smile—that extraordinarily ready smile, which comes so spontaneously and delightfully, and which became a byword over the whole continent of the West.
It is this friendly and unstudied manner that wins him so much affection. It makes all feel immediately that he is extraordinarily human and extraordinarily responsive, and that there are no barriers or reticences in intercourse with him.
He is not an intellectual, and he certainly is not a dullard. He rather fills the average of the youth of modern times, with an extreme fondness for modern activities, which include golfing, running and walking; jazz music and jazz dancing (when the prettiness of partners is by no means a deterrent), sightseeing and the rest, and my own impression is, that he is much more at home in the midst of a hearty crowd—the more democratic the better—than in the most august of formal gatherings.
The latter, too, means speech-making, and he has, I fancy, a young man's loathing of making speeches. He makes them—on certain occasions he had to make them three times and more a day—and he makes good ones, but he would rather, I think, hold an open reception where Tom, Dick, Vera, Phyllis and Harry crowded about him in a democratic mob to shake his hand.
Yet though he does not like speech-making, he showed from the beginning that he meant to master the repugnant art. To read speeches, as he did in the early days of the tour, was not good enough. He schooled himself steadily to deliver them without manuscript, so that by the end of the trip he was able to deliver a long and important speech—such as that at Massey Hall, Toronto, on November 4—practically without referring to his notes.
During his day in Conception Bay, the Prince went ashore and spent some time amid the beautiful scenery of rocky, spruce-clad hills and valleys, where the forests and the many rocky streams give earnest of the fine sport in game and fish for which Newfoundland is famous.
The crews of the battleships went ashore, also, to the scattered little hamlet of Topsail, lured there, perhaps, by the legend that Topsail is called the Brighton of Newfoundland. It is certainly a pretty place, with its brightly painted, deep-porched wooden houses set amid the trees in that rugged country, but the inhabitants were led astray by local pride when they dragged in Brighton. The local "Old Ship" is the grocer's, who also happened to be the Selfridge's of the hamlet, and his good red wine or brown ale, or whatever is yours, is Root Beer!
For many of the battleships' crews it was the first impact with the Country of the Dry, and the shock was profound.
"I was ashore five hours, waiting for the blinkin' liberty boat to come and take me off," said one seaman, in disgust. "Five hours! And all I had was a water—and that was warm."
On Tuesday, August 12, the Prince transferred to Dragon and in company with Dauntless steamed towards St. John's, along the grim, sheer coast of Newfoundland, where squared promontories standing out like buttresses give the impression that they are bastions set in the wall of a castle built by giants.
The gateway to St. John's harbour is a mere sally-port in that castle wall. It is an abrupt opening, and is entered through the high and commanding posts of Signal and the lighthouse hills.
One can conceive St. John's as the ideal pirate lair of a romance-maker of the Stevensonian tradition, and one can understand it appealing to the bold, freebooting instincts of the first daring settlers. A ring of rough, stratified hills grips the harbour water about, sheltering it from storms and land enemies, while with the strong hills at the water-gate to command it, and a chain drawn across its Narrows, it was safe from incursion of water-borne foes.
It was the fitting stronghold of the reckless Devon, Irish and Scots fishermen who followed Cabot to the old Norse Helluland, the "Land of Naked Rocks," and who vied and fought with, and at length ruled with the rough justice of the "Fishing Admirals" the races of Biscayan and Portuguese men who made the island not a home but a centre of the great cod fishery that supplied Europe.
St. John's has laboured under its disadvantages ever since those days. The town has been pinched between the steep hills, and forced to straggle back for miles along the harbour inlet. On the southern side of the basin the slope has beaten the builder, and on the dominant green hill, through the grass of which thrusts grey and red-brown masses of the sharp-angled rock stratum, there are very few houses.
On the north, humanity has made a fight for it, and the white, dusty roads struggle with an almost visible effort up the heavy grade of the hill until they attain the summit. The effect is of a terraced and piled-up city, straggling in haphazard fashion up to the point where the great Roman Catholic cathedral, square-hewn and twin-towered, crowns the mass of the town.
Plank frame houses, their paint dingy and grey, with stone and brick buildings, jostle each other on the hill-side streets, innocent of sidewalks. The main thoroughfare, Water Street, which runs parallel with the harbour and the rather casual wharves, is badly laid, and given to an excess of mud in wet weather, mud that the single-deck electric trams on their bumpy track distribute lavishly. The black pine masts that serve as telegraph-poles are set squarely and frequently in the street, and overhead is the heavy mesh of cables and wires that forms an essential part of all civic scenery in the West. The buildings and shops along this street are not imposing, and there seems a need for revitalization in the town, either through a keener overseas trading and added shipping facilities, or a broader and more encouraging local policy.
Most of the goods for sale were American, and some of them not the best type of American articles at that. It was hard to find indications of British trading, and it seemed to me that here was a field for British enterprise, and that with the easing of shipping difficulties, which were then tying up Newfoundland's commerce, Britain and Newfoundland would both benefit by a vigorous trade policy. Newfoundlanders seemed anxious to get British goods, and, as they pointed out, the rate of exchange was all in their favour.
Through Water Street passes a medley of vehicles; the bumpy electric trams, horse carts that look like those tent poles the Indians trail behind them put on wheels, spidery buggies, or "rigs," solid-wheeled country carts, and the latest makes in automobiles.
The automobiles astonish one, both in their inordinate number and their up-to-dateness. There seemed, if anything, too many cars for the town, but then that was only because we are new to the Western Continent, where the automobile is as everyday a thing as the telephone. All the cars are American, and to the Newfoundlander they are things of pride, since they show how the modern spirit of the Colony triumphs over sea freight and heavy import duty. Motor-cars and electric lighting in a lavish fashion that Britain does not know, form the modern features of St. John's.
When the two warships steamed through the Narrows into the harbour, St. John's, within its hills, was looking its best under radiant sunlight. The fishermen's huts clinging to the rocky crevices of the harbour entrance on thousands of spidery legs, let crackers off to the passing ships and fluttered a mist of flags. Flags shone with vivid splashes of pigment from the water's edge, where a great five-masted schooner, barques engaged in the South American trade, a liner and a score of vessels had dressed ships, up all the tiers of houses to where strings of flags swung between the towers of the cathedral.
From the wharves a number of gnat-like gasolene launches, gay with flags, pushed off to flutter about both cruisers until they came to anchor. From one of the quays signal guns were fired, and the brazen and inordinate bangings of his Royal salute echoed and re-echoed in uncanny fashion among the hills that hem the town, so that when the warships joined in, the whole cup of the harbour was filled with the hammerings of explosions overlapping explosions, until the air seemed made of nothing else.
On the big stacks of Newfoundland lumber at the harbour-side, on the quays, on the freight sheds and on the roofs of buildings, Newfoundland people, who, like the weather, were giving the lie to the prophets, crowded to see the Prince arrive. He came from Dragon in the Royal barge in the wake of the Dauntless' launch, which was having a worried moment in "shooing" off the eager gasolene boats, crowding in, in defiance of all regulations, to get a good view.
There was no doubt about the warmth of the welcome. It was a characteristic Newfoundland crowd. Teamsters in working overalls, fishermen in great sea boots and oilskins, girls garbed in the smartness of New York, whose comely faces and beautiful complexions were of Ireland, though there was here and there a flash of French blood in the grace of their youth, little boys willing to defy the law and climb railings in order to get a "close up" photograph, youths in bubble-toed boots—all proved that their dourness was not an emotion for state occasions, and that they could show themselves as they really were, as generous and as loyal as any people within the Empire.
The Prince was received on the jetty by the Governor and the members of the legislature. With them was a guard of honour of seamen, all of them Newfoundland fishermen who had served in various British warships throughout the war. There was a contingent from the Newfoundland Regiment also, stocky men who had fought magnificently through the grim battles in France, and on the Somme had done so excellently that the name of their greatest battle, Gueudecourt, has become part of the Colony's everyday history, and is to be found inscribed on the postage stamps under the picture of the caribou which is the national emblem.
The Prince's passage through the streets was a stirring one. There were no soldiers guarding the route through Water Street and up the high, steep hills to Government House, and the eager crowd pressed about the carriage in such ardour that its pace had to be slowed to a walk. At that pace it moved through the streets, a greater portion of the active population keeping pace with it, turning themselves into a guard of honour, walking as the horses walked, and, if they did break into a trot, trotting with them.
The route lay under many really beautiful arches, some castles with towers and machicolations sheafed in the sweet-smelling spruce; others constructed entirely from fish boxes and barrels, with men on them, working and packing the cod; others were hung with the splendid fur, feathers and antlers of Newfoundland hunting.
Through that day and until midday of the next, lively crowds followed every movement of the "dandy feller," swopping opinions as to his charm, and his smile, his youthfulness and his shyness. They compared him with his grandfather who had visited St. John's fifty-nine years ago, and made a point of mentioning that he was to sleep in the very bedroom his grandfather had used.
There was the usual heavy program, an official lunch, the review of war veterans, a visit to the streets when the lavish electric light had been switched into the beautiful illuminations, when the two cruisers were mirrored in the harbour waters in an outline of electric lights, and when on the ring of hill-tops red beacons were flaring in his honour. There was a dance, with his lucky partners sure of photographic fame in the local papers of tomorrow, and then in the morning, medal giving, a peep at the annual regatta, famous in local history, on lovely Quidividi Lake among the hills, and then, all too soon for Newfoundland, his departure to New Brunswick.
There was no doubt at all as to the impression he made. The visit that might have been formal was in actuality an affair of spontaneous affection. There was a friendliness and warmth in the welcome that quite defies description. His own unaffected pleasure in the greeting; his eagerness to meet everybody, not the few, but the ordinary, everyday people as much as the notabilities, his lack of affectation, and his obvious enjoyment of all that was happening, placed the Prince and the people, welcoming him, immediately on a footing of intimacy. His tour had begun in the air of triumph which we were to find everywhere in his passage across the Continent.
ST. JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK
When one talks to a citizen of St. John, New Brunswick, one has an impression that his city is burnt down every half century or so in order that he and his neighbours might build it up very much better.
This is no doubt an inaccurate impression, but when I had listened to various brisk people telling me about the fires—the devastating one of 1877, and the minor ones of a variety of dates—and the improvements St. John has been able to accomplish after them; and when I had seen the city itself, I must confess I had a sneaking feeling that Providence had deliberately managed these things so that a lively, vigorous and up-to-date folk should have every opportunity of reconstructing their city according to the modernity of their minds and status.
The vigorousness of St. John is so definite that it got into our bones though our visit was but one of hours. St. John, for us, represented an extraordinary hustle. We arrived on the morning of Friday, August 15, after the one night when the sea had not been altogether our friend; when the going had been "awfully kinky" (as the seasick one of our party put it), and the spiral motif in the Dauntless' wardroom had been disturbing at meals.
ON THE TRAIN BETWEEN ST. JOHN AND HALIFAX
Next morning in the train we were awakened to an unexpected Sunday. It was not an ordinary calm Sunday, but a Sunday with a hustle on, a Canadian Sunday. There was no doubt about the bells, though they were ringing with remarkable earnestness in their efforts to get Canadians into church.
Lying in our sleeping sections, we were bewildered by the bells, and by the fact that by human calendar the day should be Saturday. Then we raised the little blinds that hung between our modesty and a world of passing platforms, and found that we were in a junction (probably Truro), with a very Saturday air, and that the church bells were on engines.
It takes some time for the Briton to become accustomed to the strangeness of bells on engines, and the fact, that, instead of whistling, the engines also give a very lifelike imitation of a liner's siren. The bells are tolled when entering a station, or approaching a level crossing, and so on, and the siren note is, I think, a real improvement on the ear-splitting whistle that harrows us in England.
Our first night on the Canadian National had been a prophecy of the many comfortable nights we were to spend on Canadian railways. We had been given an ordinary sleeping car of the long-distance service, but as we had it to our masculine selves, the exercise of getting out of our clothes and into bed, and out of our bed and into clothes, was an ordinary human accomplishment, and not an athletic problem tinged with embarrassment.
The Canadian sleeper is a roomy and attractive Pullman, with wide and comfortable back to back seats, each internal pair called a section. At night the seats are pulled together, and the padding at their backs pulled down, so that a most efficient bed is formed. A section of the roof lets down, resolving itself into an upper bunk, while long green curtains from roof to floor, and wood panels at foot and head complete the privacy.
In these sleepers Canadians make the week's journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific. There is no separation of sexes, and a woman may find that she is sharing a section with a strange male quite as a matter of course, the only distinction being that the chivalrous Canadian always gives up the bottom berth, if it is his, to the lady, and climbs to the top himself.
In these circumstances, to remove one's clothes, and particularly that part that proclaims one's gender, is a problem. I have tried it. One switches on the little electric reading light, climbs into the bunk, buttons up the green curtains, and then in a space a trifle larger than a coffin endeavours to remove, and place tidily, one's clothes (for articles scattered on that narrow bunk during the struggle mean that one ends by becoming simply a tangle of garments).
At these moments one realizes that hands, arms, legs, and head have been given one to complicate things. One jams them against everything. And there are times, too, when the unpractised Briton is simply baffled.
They tell in every Canadian train the tale of the Englishman who came face to face with such a crisis. Having removed most of his garments, he came to that point where the ingenuity of human nature seemed to fail. He pondered it. The matter seemed insuperable. And he began to wonder if.... He put his head through his curtains and shouted along the crowded—and mixed—green corridor of the car:
"I say, porter, does one take off one's trousers in this train?"
Most of the railways, the Canadian Pacific certainly, are putting on compartment cars; that is, a car made up of roomy private sections, holding two berths. On most sleepers, too, there is a drawing-room compartment that gives the same privacy. These are both comfortable and convenient, for, apart from privacy, the passenger does not have to take his place in the queue waiting to wash at one of the three basins provided in the little section at the end of the car that is also the smoking-room.
It must not be thought that the sleepers are anything but comfortable; they are so comfortable as to make travelling in them ideal. The passenger, also, has the run of the train, and can go to the observation car, where he can spend his time in an easy chair, looking through the broad windows at the scenery, or reading one of the many magazines or papers the train provides; or he can write his letters on train paper at a desk; can go out to the broad railed platform at the rear of the car, and sit and smoke, and see Canada unrolling behind him.
And at the appropriate times for breakfast, dinner and supper—that is the Canadian routine, and there is no tea—the passenger goes to the diner and has a meal from a menu that would make the manager of many a London hotel feel anxious for his reputation.
We had some experience of the lavishness and variety of Canadian meals in St. John, when we had ordered what would have been an ordinary dinner in London, and had had to cry "Kamerad!" after the fish.
The first Canadian breakfast we had on the Canadian National was of the same order. It began, inevitably, with ice-water. Ice-water is the thing that waiters fill up intervals with. Instead of pausing between courses for the usual waiter's meditation, they make instinctively for the silver ice-water jug, and fill every defenceless glass. Ice-water is universal. It is taken before, during and after every meal, and there are ice-water tanks (and paper cups) on every railway carriage and every hotel. At first one loathes it, and it seems to create an unnatural thirst, but the habit for it is soon attained.
The menu for breakfast is always varied and long—and I speak not merely of the special trains we travelled in, for it was the same on ordinary passenger trains. One does not face a table d'hote meal outside of which there is no alternative but starvation, but one is given the choice of a range of dishes for any of the three meals that equals the choice offered by the best hotels in London.
Breakfast begins with fruit; breakfast is not breakfast in the American continent unless it begins with fruit. And at that precise time breakfast fruit was blueberries. Other fruit was on the menu: raspberries, melon, grape-fruit, canteloupe, orange-slices, orange juice, and so on; but to avoid blueberries was to be suspected of being eccentric, and even an alien enemy.
Blueberries were in season. Blueberries and cream were being eaten at breakfast with something more than mere satisfaction by the entire Canadian nation. Blueberries were being consumed with a sort of patriotic fervour, for blueberries have a significance to the Canadian. It is a fruit peculiarly his own; he treats it as a sort of emblem, he waxes enthusiastic over it, and the stranger feels that if he does not eat it (with cream, or cooked as "Deep Blueberry Pie"), he has not justified his journey to the Dominion. Hint that it is merely the English bilberry or blaeberry, or whortleberry and—but no one dares hint that. The blueberry is in season. One eats it with cream, and it is worth eating.
You may follow with what the Canadian calls "oats," but which you call porridge, or, being wiser since the dinner at St. John, you go straight on to halibut steak, or Gaspe salmon, or trout, or Jack Frost sausages, or just bacon and eggs. There is a range that would have pleased you in an hotel, but which fills you with wonder on a train.
And not merely the range, but the prodigality of the portions, surprises. Your halibut or salmon or trout is not a strip that seems like a sample, it is a solid slice of exquisitely cooked fish that looks dangerously near a full pound, and all the portions are on the same scale, so that you soon come to recognize that, unless you ration yourself severely, you cannot possibly hope to survive against this Dominion of Food.
When we sat down to that breakfast in the Canadian National diner I think we realized more emphatically than we had through the whole course of our reading how prodigal and rich a land Canada was. As we sat at our meal we could watch from the windows the unfolding of the streams and the innumerable lovely lakes, that expand suddenly out of the spruce forests that clad the rocky hills and the sharp valleys of Nova Scotia.
We could see the homestead clearings, the rich land already under service and the cattle thereon. It was from those numberless pebbly rivers and lakes that this abundance in fish came; in the forests was game, caribou and moose and winged game. From the cleared land came the wheat and the other growing things that crowd the Canadian table, and the herds represented the meat, and the unstinted supply of cream and milk and butter. Even the half-cleared land, where tree stumps and bushes still held sway, there was the blueberry, growing with the joyous luxuriance of a useful weed.
To glance out of the window was to realize more than this, it was to realize that in spite of all this luxuriance the land was yet barely scratched. The homesteads are even now but isolated outposts in the undisciplined wilderness, and when we realized that this was but a section, and a small section at that, of a Dominion stretching thousands of miles between us and the Pacific, and how many thousand miles on the line North to South we could not compute, we began to get a glimmer of the immensity and potentiality of the land we had just entered.
There is nothing like a concrete demonstration to convince the mind, and I recognize it was that heroic breakfast undertaken while I contemplated the heroic land from whence it had come that brought home to me with a sense almost of shock an appreciation of Canada's greatness.
By the time I had arrived at Halifax, and had a Canadian National Railway lunch (for we remained on the train for the whole of our stay in the city) I knew I was to face immensities.
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
The first citizen of Halifax to recognize the Prince of Wales was a little boy: and it was worth a cool twenty cents to him.
The official entry of His Royal Highness into Halifax was fixed for Monday, August 18th. The Dragon and Dauntless, however, arrived on Sunday, and the Prince saw in the free day an opportunity for getting in a few hours' walking.
He landed quietly, and with his camera spent some time walking through and snapping the interesting spots in the city. He climbed the hill to where the massive and slightly melodramatic citadel that his own ancestor, the Duke of Kent, had built on the hill dominates the city, and continued from there his walk through the tree-fringed streets.
At the very toe of the long peninsula upon which Halifax is built he walked through Point Pleasant, a park of great, and untrammelled, natural beauty, thicketed with trees through which he could catch many vivid and beautiful glimpses of the intensely blue harbour water beneath the slope.
It was in this park that the young punter pulled off his coup.
He was one of a number of kiddies occupied in the national sport of Halifax—bathing. He and his friends spotted the Prince and his party before that party saw them. Being a person of acumen the wise kid immediately "placed" His Royal Highness, and saw the opportunity for financial operations.
"Betcher ten cents that's the Prince of Wales," he said, accommodating the whole group, whereupon the inevitable sceptic retorted:
"Naw, that ain't no Prince. Anyhow he doesn't come till tomorrow, see."
"Is the Prince, I tell you," insisted the plunger. "And see here, betcher another ten cents I goes and asks him."
The second as well as the first bet was taken. And both were won.
This is not the only story connected with the Sunday stroll of the Prince. Another, and perhaps a romantic version of the same one, was that it was the Prince who made and lost the bet. He was said to have come upon not boys but girls bathing. Seeing one of them poised skirted and stockinged, for all the world as though she were the authentic bathing girl on the cover of an American magazine, ready to dive, he bet her a cool twenty that she dare not take her plunge from the highest board.
This story may be true or it may be, well, Canadian. I mean by that it may be one of the jolly stories that Canadians from the very beginning began to weave about the personality of His Royal Highness. It is, indeed, an indication of his popularity that he became the centre of a host of yarns, true or apocryphal, that followed him and accumulated until they became almost a saga by the time the tour was finished.
In this short stroll the Prince saw much of a town that is certainly worth seeing.
Halifax on the first impact has a drab air that comes as a shock to those who sail through the sharp, green hills of the Narrows and see the hilly peninsula on which the town is built hanging graciously over the sparkling blue waters of one of the finest and greatest harbours in the world.
From the water the multi-coloured massing of the houses is broken up and softened by the vividness of the parks and the green billowing of the trees that line most of the streets. Landing, the newcomer is at once steeped in the depressing air of a seaport town that has not troubled to keep its houses in the brightest condition. As many of those houses are of wood, the youthful sparkle of which vanishes in the maturity of ill-kept paintwork, the first impression of Halifax is actually more melancholy than it deserves to be.
The long drive through Water Street from the docks, moreover, merely lands one into a business centre where the effect of many good buildings is spoilt by the narrowness of the streets. Such a condition of things is no doubt unavoidable in a town that is both commercial and old, but those who only see this side of Halifax had better appreciate the fact that the city is Canadian and new also, and that there are residential districts that are as comely and as up-to-date as anywhere in the Western Continent.
Halifax certainly blends history and business in a way to make it the most English of towns. It is like nothing so much as a seaport in the North of England plus a Canadian accent.
There is the same packed mass movement of a lively polyglot people through the streets. There is the same keen appetite for living that sends people out of doors to walk in contact with their fellows under the light of the many-globed electric standards that line the sidewalk.
There is the same air of bright prosperity in the glowing and vivacious light of the fine and tasteful shops. They are good shops, and their windows are displayed with an artistry that one finds is characteristic throughout Canada. They offer the latest and smartest ideas in blouses and gowns, jewellery and boots and cameras—I should like to find out what percentage of the population of the American Continent does not use a camera—and men's shirtings, shirtings that one views with awe, shirtings of silk with emotional stripes and futuristic designs, and collars to match the shirts, the sort of shirts that Solomon in all his glory seems to have designed for festival days.
At night, certainly, the streets of Halifax are bright and vivid, and the people in them good-humoured, laughing and sturdy, with that contempt of affectation that is characteristic of the English north.
The bustle and vividness as well as the greyness of Halifax lets one into the open secret that it is a great industrial port of Canada, and an all-the-year-round port at that, yet it is the greyness and narrowness of the streets that tells you that Halifax is also history. In the old buildings, and their straggled frontage, is written the fact that the city grew up before modernity set its mark on Canada in the spacious and broad planning of townships.
It was, for years, the garrison of Britain in the Americas. Since the day when Cornwallis landed in 1749 with his group of settlers to secure the key harbour on the Eastern seaboard of America until the Canadians themselves took over its garrisoning, it was the military and naval base of our forces. And in that capacity it has formed part of the stage setting for every phase of the Western historical drama.
It was the rendezvous of Wolfe before Quebec; it played a part in the American War of Independence; it was a refuge for the United Empire Loyalists; British ships used it as a base in the war of 1812; from its anchorage the bold and crafty blockade runners slipped south in the American Civil War, and its citizens grew fat through those adventurous voyages. It has been the host of generations of great seamen from Cook, who navigated Wolfe's fleet up the St. Lawrence, to Nelson. It housed the survivors of the Titanic, and was the refuge of the Mauretania when the beginning of the Great War found her on the high seas. It has had German submarines lying off the Narrows, so close that it saw torpedoed crews return to its quays only an hour or so after their ships had sailed.
The Prince of Wales was himself a link in Halifax's history. Not merely had his great-great grandfather, the Duke of Kent, commanded at the Citadel, but when he landed he stepped over the inscribed stone commemorating the landing on that spot of his grandfather on July 30th, 1860, and his father in 1901.
His Royal Highness made his official landing in the Naval Dockyard on the morning of Monday, August 18th. As he landed he was saluted by the guns of three nations, for two French war sloops and the fine Italian battleship Cavour, which had come to Halifax to be present during his visit, joined in when the guns on shore and on the British warship saluted.
At the landing stage the reception was a quiet one, only notabilities and guards of honour occupying the Navy Yard, but this quietness was only the prelude to a day of sheer hustle.
The crowd thickened steadily until he arrived in the heart of the city, when it resolved itself into a jam of people that the narrow streets failed to accommodate. This crowd, as in most towns of Canada, believed in a "close up" view. Even when there is plenty of space the onlookers move up to the centre of the street, allowing a passageway of very little more than the breadth of a motor-car. Policemen of broad and indulgent mind are present to keep the crowd in order, and when policemen give out, war veterans in khaki or "civvies" and boy scouts string the line, but all—policemen, veterans and scouts—so mixing with the crowd that they become an indistinguishable part of it, so that it is all crowd, cheery and friendly and most intimate in its greeting. That was the air of the Halifax crowd.
It always seemed to me that after the roaring greeting of the streets the formal civic addresses of welcome were acts of supererogation. Yet there is no doubt as to the dignity and colour of these functions.
From the packed street the Prince passed into the great chamber of the Provincial Parliament Building, where there seemed an air of soft, red twilight compounded from the colour of the walls and the old pictures, as well as from the robes and uniforms of the dignitaries and the gowns of the many ladies.
As ceremonies these welcomes were always short, though there was always a number of presentations made, and the Prince was soon in the open again. In the open there were war veterans to inspect, for in whatever town he entered, large or small or remote, there was always a good showing of Canadians who had served and won honours in Europe.
Everywhere, in great cities or in a hamlet that was no more than a scattering of homesteads round a prairie's siding, His Royal Highness showed a particular keenness to meet these soldiers. They were his own comrades in arms, as he always called them, and when he said that he meant it, for he never willingly missed an opportunity of getting among them and resuming the comradeship he had learned to value at the Front.
In most towns, as in Halifax, his round of visits always included the hospitals. His car took him through the bright sunshine of the Halifax streets to these big and very efficient buildings, where he went through the wards, chatting here and there to a cot or a convalescent patient, and not forgetting the natty Canadian nurses or the doctors, or even, as in one of the hospitals on this day, a patient lying in a tent in the grounds outside the radius of the visit.
In Halifax, also, there was another grim fact of the war which called for special attention; that was the area devastated by the terrible explosion of a ship in the docks in December, 1917.
The party left the main streets to climb over the shoulder of the peninsula to where the ruined area stood. It is to the north of the town, on the side of the hill that curves largely to the very water's edge. Down off the docks, and an immense distance away it seems from the slope of ruin, a steamer loaded with high explosive collided with another, caught fire and blew up, and on the entire bosom of that slope can be seen what that gigantic detonation accomplished.
The force of the explosion swept up the hill and the wooden houses went down like things of card. In the trail of the explosion followed fire. As the plank houses collapsed the fires within them ignited their frail fabric and the entire hillside became a mass of flames.
The Prince looked upon a hill set with scars in rows, the rock foundations of houses that had been. Houses had, in the main, disappeared, though here and there there was a crazy structure hanging together by nails only. Across the arm of the harbour, on the pretty, wooded Dartmouth side, he could see among the trees the sprawled ugliness of the ruin the explosion had spread even there.
On this bleak slope, where the grass was growing raggedly over the ruins, the old inhabitants were showing little inclination to return. Only a few neat houses were in course of erection where, before, there had been thousands. It was as though the hillside had become evil, and men feared it.
Over the hill, and by roads which are best described as corrugated (outside the main town roads of Canada, faith, hope and strong springs are the best companions on a motor ride), he went to where a new district is being built to house the victims of the disaster.
Modern Canada is having its way in this new area, and broad streets, grass lawns and pretty houses of wood, brick or concrete with characteristic porches give these new homes the atmosphere of the garden city.
Perched as it is high on the hill, with the sparkling water of the harbour close by, one can easily argue that good has come out of the evil. But as one mutters the platitude the Canadian who drives the car points to the long, tramless hill that connects the place with the heart of the city, and tells you curtly:
"That's called Hungry Hill."
"Why Hungry Hill?"
"It's so long that a man dies of hunger before he can get home from his office."
The social side of the visit followed.
The Prince went from the devastated area, and from his visit to some of the people who were already housed in their new homes, through the attractive residential streets of Halifax to the Waegwoltic Club.
This club is altogether charming, and one of the most perfect places of recreation I have seen. The club-house is a low, white rambling building set among trees and the most perfect of lawns. It has really beautiful suites of rooms, including a dancing hall and a dining-room. From its broad verandah a steep grass slope drops down to the sea water of one of the harbour arms. Many trees shade the slope and the idling paths on it, and through the trees shines the water, which has an astonishing blueness.
At the water's edge is a bathing place, with board rafts and a high skeleton diving platform. Here are boys and girls, looking as though they were posing for Harrison Fisher, diving, or lolling in the vivid sun on the plank rafts.
With its bright sea, on which are canoes and scarlet sailed yachts, the vivid green of its grass slopes under the superb trees, the Waegwoltic Club is idyllic. It is the dream of the perfect holiday place come true.
Quite close to it is another club of individuality. It is a club without club-house that has existed in that state for over sixty years.
This is the Studley Quoit Club, which the Prince visited after he had lunched at the Waegwoltic. Its premises are made up of a quoit field, a fence and some trees, and the good sportsmen, its members, as they showed His Royal Highness round, pointed solemnly to a fir to which a telephone was clamped, and said:
"That is our secretary's office."
A table under a spruce was the dining-room, a book of cuttings concerning the club on a desk was the library, while a bench against a fence was the smoking lounge. It is a club of humour and pride, that has held together with a genial and breezy continuity for generations. And it has two privileges, of which it is justly proud: one is the right to fly the British Navy ensign, gained through one of its first members, an admiral; the other is that its rum punch yet survives in a dry land.
The Prince's visit to such a gathering of sportsmen was, naturally, an affair of delightful informality. There was a certain swopping of reminiscences of the King, who had also visited the club, and a certain dry attitude of awe in the President, who, in speaking of the honours the Prince had accepted just before leaving England, said that though the members of the Studley Club felt competent to entertain His Royal Highness as a Colonel of the Guards, as the Grand Master of Freemasons, or even, at a pinch, as a King's Counsel, they felt while in their earthly flesh some trepidation in offering hospitality to a Brother of the Trinity—a celestial office which, the President understood, the Prince had accepted prior to his journey.
It was a happy little gathering, a relief, perhaps, from set functions, and the Prince entered fully into the spirit of the occasion. He drank the famous punch, and signed the Club roll, showing great amusement when some one asked him if he were signing the pledge.
On leaving this quaint club he came in for a cheery mobbing; men and women crowded round him, flappers stormed his car in the hope of shaking hands, while babies held up by elders won the handclasp without a struggle.
A crowded day was closed by a yet more crowded reception. It was an open reception of the kind which I believe I am right in saying the Prince himself was responsible for initiating on this trip. It was a reception not of privileged people bearing invitations, but of the whole city.
The whole city came.
Citizens of all ages and all occupations rolled up at Government House to meet His Royal Highness. They filled the broad lawn in front of the rather meek stone building, and overflowed into the street. They waited wedged tightly together in hot and sunny weather until they could take their turn in the endless file that was pushing into the house where the Prince was waiting to shake hands with them.
It was a gathering of every conceivable type of citizen. Silks and New York frocks had no advantage over gingham and "ready to wear." Judge's wife and general's took their turn with the girl clerk from the drug store and their char lady's daughter. Workers still in their overalls, boys in their shirtsleeves, soldiers and dockside workers and teamsters all joined in the crowd that passed for hours before the Prince.
At St. John he had shaken hands with some 2,000 people in such a reception as this, at Halifax the figure could not have been less, and it was probably more. He shook hands with all who came, and had a word with most, even with those admirable but embarrassing old ladies (one of whom at least appeared at each of these functions) who declared that, having lived long enough to see the children of two British rulers, they were anxious that he should lose no time in giving them the chance of seeing the children of a third.
It was an astonishing spectacle of affable democracy, and in effect it was perhaps the happiest idea in the tour. The popularity of these "open to all the town" meetings was astonishing. "The Everyday People" whom the Prince had expressed so eager a desire to see and meet came to these receptions in such overwhelming numbers that in large cities such as Toronto, Ottawa and the like it was manifestly impossible for him to meet even a fraction of the numbers.
Yet this fact did not mar the receptions. The people of Canada understood that he was making a real attempt at meeting as many of them as was humanly possible, and even those who did not get close enough to shake his hand were able to recognize that his desire was genuine as his happiness in meeting them was unaffected and friendly.
The public receptions were the result of an unstudied democratic impulse, and the Canadian people were of all people those able to appreciate that impulse most.
CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, AND HABITANT, CANADA
The Prince of Wales and his cruiser escort left Halifax on the night of Monday, August 18th, for Prince Edward Island, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, arriving at the capital of that province the next morning.
Owing to the difficulty of getting across country, the Press correspondents were unable to be present at this visit, and went direct by train to Quebec to await the Prince's arrival.
We were sorry not to visit this tiny, self-contained province of the Dominion, for we had heard much concerning its charm and individuality in character. It is a fertile little island, rich in agriculture, sport and fishing. It is an island of bright red beaches and green downs set in a clear sea, an Eden for bathers and holiday-makers.
It is also one of the last rallying-points of the silver fox, which is bred by the islanders for the fur market. This is a pocket industry unique in Canada. The animals are tended with the care given to prize fowls, each having its own kennel and wire run. Such domesticity renders them neither hardy nor prolific, and the breeding is an exacting pursuit.
At the capital, Charlottetown, His Royal Highness had a real Canadian welcome, tinged not a little with excitement. While he was on the racecourse one of the stands took fire, and there was the beginning of a panic, men and women starting to clamber wildly out of it and dropping from its sides. The Prince, however, kept his place and continued to watch the races. His presence on the stand quieted the nervous and checked what might have been an ugly rush, while the fire was very quickly got under.
Off Charlottetown the Prince transferred again to the battle-cruiser Renown, and finished the last section of his sea voyage up the great St. Lawrence on her.
Our disappointment at not seeing Prince Edward Island was mitigated by the glimpses we had from our train of the country of New Brunswick and the great area of the habitants that surrounds Quebec.
On the morning of August 19th we woke to the broken country of New Brunswick. The forests of spruce, pine, maple and poplar made walls on the very fringe of the single-line railway track for miles, giving way abruptly to broad and placid lakes, or to sharp narrow valleys, in which shallow streams pressed forward over beds of white stone and rock. At this time the streams were narrowed down to a slim channel, but the broad area of white shingle—frequently scored by many subsidiary thin channels of water—gave an idea of what these streams were like in flood.
There was a great deal of unfriendly black rock in the land pushing itself boldly up in hills, or cropping out from the thin covering soil. Here and there were the clearings of homesteaders, who lived sometimes in pretty plank houses, sometimes in the low shacks of rough logs that seemed to be put in the clearings—some of them not yet free of the high tree stumps—in order to give the land its authentic local colour.
On the streams that flow between the walls of trees there were always logs. Logs sometimes jamming the whole fairway with an indescribable jumble, logs collected into river bays with a neatness that made the surface of the water appear one great raft, and by these "log booms" there was, usually, the piles of squared timber, and the collection of rough wooden houses that formed the mill.
The mills have the air of being pit-head workings dealing with a cleaner material than coal. About them are lengthy conveyors, built up on high trestle timbers, that carry the logs from the water to the mill and from the mill to the dumps, that one instantly compares to the conveyors and winding gear of a coal mine. Beneath the conveyors are great ragged mounds of short logs cut into sections for the paper pulp trade, and jumbled heaps of shorter sections that are to serve as the winter firing for whole districts; these have the contours of coal dumps, while fed from chutes are hillocks of golden sawdust as big and as conspicuous as the ash and slag mounds of the mining areas.
In the mill yards are stacks and stacks of house planks that the great saws have sliced up with an uncanny ease and speed, stacks of square shingles for roofs and miles of squared beams.
We passed not a few but a multitude of these "booms" and mills, and our minds began to grasp the vastness of this natural and national industry. And yet it is not in the main a whole-time industry. For a large section of its workers it is a side line, an occupation for days that would otherwise be idle. It is the winter work of farmers, who, forced to cease their own labours owing to the deep snow and the frosts, turn to lumbering to keep them busy until the thaw sets in.
That fact helps the mind to realize the potentialities of Canada. Here is a business as big as coal mining that is largely the fruit of work in days when there is little else to do.
We saw this industry at a time when the streams were congested and the mills inactive. It was the summer season, but, more than that, the lack of transport, owing to the sinking, or the surrender by Canada for war purposes, of so much ship space, was having its effect on the lumber trade. The market, even as far as Britain, was in urgent need of timber, and the timber was ready for the market; but the exigencies, or, as some Canadians were inclined to argue, the muddle of shipping conditions, were holding up this, as well as many other of the Dominion industries.
In this sporting country there are many likely looking streams for fishermen, as there are likely looking forests for game. At New Castle we touched the Miramichi, which has the reputation of being the finest salmon-fishing river in New Brunswick; the Nepisiquit, the mouth of which we skirted at Bathurst, is also a great centre for fishermen, and, indeed, the whole of this country about the shores of the great Baie de Chaleur—that immense thrust made by the Gulf of St. Lawrence between the provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec—is a paradise for holiday-makers and sportsmen, who, besides their fishing, get excellent shooting at brant, geese, duck, and all kinds of game.
The Canadian of the cities has his country cottage in this splendidly beautiful area, which he comes to for his recreation, and at other times leaves in charge of a local farmer, who fills his wood shed with fire logs from the forest in the summer, and his ice house with ice from the rivers in winter.
In this district, and long before we reached the Quebec border, we came to the country of the habitant farmer. As we stopped at sections to water or change engines, we saw that this was a land where man must be master of two tongues if he is to make himself understood. It is a land where we read on a shop window the legend: "J. Art Levesque. Barbier. Agent du Lowdnes Co. Habits sur commande." Here the habitant does business at La Banque Nationale, and takes his pleasure at the Exposition Provinciale, where his skill can win him Prix Populaires.
On the stations we talked with men in British khaki trousers who told us in a language in which Canadian French and camp English was strangely mingled of the service they had seen on the British front.
It is the district where the clever and painstaking French agriculturist gets every grain out of the soil, a district where we could see the spire of a parish church every six miles, the land of a people, sturdy, devout, tenacious and law-abiding, the "true 'Canayen' themselves,"
"And in their veins the same red stream; The conquering blood of Normandie Flowed strong, and gave America Coureurs de bois and voyageurs Whose trail extends from sea to sea!"
as William Henry Drummond, a true poet who drew from them inspiration for his delightful dialect verse, describes them.
The railway passes for hundreds of miles between habitant farms. The land is beautifully cared for, every fragment of rock, from a boulder to a pebble, having been collected from the soil through generations, and piled in long, thin caches in the centres of the fields. The effect of passing for hundreds of miles between these precisely aligned cairns is strange; one cannot get away from the feeling that the rocky mounds are there for some barbaric tribal reason, and that presently one will see a war dance or a sacrifice taking place about one of them.
The farms themselves have a strange appearance. They have an abnormally narrow frontage. They are railed in strips of not much greater breadth than a London back garden, though they extend away from the railway to a depth of a mile and more. At first this grouping of the land appears accidental, but the endlessness of the strange design soon convinces that there is a purpose underlying it.
Two explanations are offered. One is that the land has been parcelled out in this way, and not on a broad square acreage, because in the old pioneer days it afforded the best means of grouping the homesteads together for defence against the Red Man. The other is that it is the result of the French-Canadian law which enforces the division of an estate among children in exact proportion, and thus the original big farms have been split up into equal strips among the descendants of the original owner. Either of these explanations, or the combination of them, can be accepted.
At Campbellton, a pretty, toy-like town, close up to La Baie de Chaleur, there is gathered a remnant of the Micmac Indians, whom the first settlers feared. They have a settlement of their own on a peak of the Baie, and one of their chiefs had travelled to Halifax to be among those who welcomed the son of the Great White Chief.
Campbellton let us into the lovely valley of the Matapedia, an enchanted spot where the river lolls on a broad bed through a grand country of grim hills and forests. Now and then, indeed, its channel is pinched into gorges where its water shines pallidly and angrily amid the crowded shadows of rock and tree; usually it is the nursemaid of rich, flat valleys and the friend of the little frame-house hamlets that are linked across its waters by a spidery bridge of wooden trestles. At times beneath the hills it is swift and combed by a thousand stony fingers, and at other times it is an idler in Arcadie, a dilettante stream that wanders in half a dozen feckless channels over a desert of white stones, with here and there the green humpback of an island inviting the camper.
Beyond Matapedia we got the thrill of the run, an abrupt glimpse of the St. Lawrence, steel-blue and apparently infinite, its thirty miles of breadth yielding not a glimpse of the farther side. A short distance on, beyond Mont Joli, a place that might have come out of a sample box of French villages, the railway keeps the immense river company for the rest of the journey.
The valley broadened out into an immense flat plain with but few traces of the wilder hills of New Brunswick. About the line is a belt of prosperity forty miles deep, all of it worked by the habitant owners of the narrow farms, all of it so rich that in the whole area from the border to the city of Quebec there is not a poor farmer.
Before reaching Riviere du Loup we saw the high peaks of the Laurentine Mountains on the far side of the St. Lawrence, and on our side of the stream passed a grim little islet called L'Islet au Massacre, where a party of Micmac Indians, fleeing from the Iroquois in the old days, were caught as they hid in a deep cave, and killed by a great fire that their enemies built at the mouth.
We saw a few seals on the rocks of the river, but not a hint of the numbers that gave Riviere du Loup its name. It is a cameo of a town with falls sliding down-hill over a chute of jumbled rocks into a logging pool beneath.
Riviere du Loup is in the last lap of the journey to Quebec. There are a score or so of little hamlets, the names of which—St. Alexandre, St. Andre, St. Pascal, St. Pacome, St. Valier and so on—sound like a reading from the Litany of the Saints. And, passing the last of them, we saw across the narrowed St. Lawrence a trail of lace against the darkness of the Laurentine hills, a mass of filigree that moved and writhed, so that we understood when some one said:
"The Montmorency Falls."
A moment later we saw across the stream the city of Quebec, a hanging town of fairyland, with pinnacle and spire, bastion and citadel delicate against the quick sky. A city of romance and charm, to which we hurried by the very humdrum route of the steam ferry that crosses to it from the Levis side.
Quebec is not merely historic: it suggests history. It has the grand manner. One feels in one's bones that it is a city of a splendid past. The first sight of Quebec piled up on its opposite bluff where the waters of the St. Charles swell the mighty volume of the St. Lawrence convinces one that this grave city is the cradle of civilization in the West, the overlord of the river road to the sea and the heart of history and romance for Canada.
One does not require prompting to recognize that history has to go back centuries to reach the day when Cartier first landed here; or that Champlain figured bravely in its story in a brave and romantic era of the world, and that it was he who saw its importance as a commanding point of the great waterway that struck deep into the heart of the rich dominion—though he did think that dominion was a fragment of the fabulous Indies with a door into the rich realms of China.
Instinct seems to tell one that on the lifting plain behind the bulldog Citadel, Montcalm lost and died, and Wolfe died and won.
One knows, too, that from this city thick with spires, streams of Christianity and civilization flowed west and north and south to quicken the whole barbaric continent; that it was the nucleus that concentrated all the energy of the vast New World.
From the decks of the three war vessels, the Renown and the escorting cruisers, Quebec must have seemed like a city of a dream hanging against the quiet sky of a glorious evening.
The piled-up mass of the city on its abrupt cape is romantic, and suggests the drama of a Rhine castle with a grace and a significance that is French. On that evening of August 21st, when the strings and blobs of colour from a multitude of flags picked out the clustering of houses that climbed Cape Diamond to the grey walls of the Citadel, the city from the St. Lawrence had an appearance glowing and fantastic.
From Quebec the three fine ships steaming in line up the blue waters of the river were a sight dramatic and beautiful, though from the heights and against the wall of cliffs on the Levis side, a mile across stream, the cruisers were strangely dwarfed, and even Renown appeared a small but desirable toy.
In keeping with the general atmosphere of the town and toy-like ships, Quebec herself put a touch of the fantastic into the charm of her greeting.
As the cruisers dressed ship, and joined with the guns of the Citadel in the salute, there soared from the city itself scores of maroons. From the flash and smoke of their bursts there fluttered down many coloured things. Caught by the wind, these things opened out into parachutes, from which were suspended large silk flags. Soon the sky was flecked with the bright, tricoloured bubbles of parachutes, bearing Jacks and Navy Ensigns, Tricolours and Royal Standards down the wind.
The official landing at King's Wharf was full of characteristic colour also. It was in a wide, open space right under the grey rock upon which the Citadel is reared. In this square, tapestried with flags, and in a little canvas pavilion of bright red and white, the Prince met the leading sons of Quebec, the French-Canadian and the English-Canadian; the Bishop of the English cathedral in gaiters and apron, the Bishops of the Catholics in corded hats, scarlet gloves and long cassocks. Sailors and soldiers, women in bright and smart gowns gave the reception a glow and vivacity that had a quality true to Quebec.
From this short ceremony the Prince drove through the quaint streets to the Citadel. In the lower town under the rock his way led through a quarter that might well stage a Stanley Weyman romance. It is a quarter where, between high-shouldered, straight-faced houses, run the narrowest of streets, some of them, like Sous le Cap, so cramped that it is merely practical to use windows as the supports for clothes-lines, and to hang the alleys with banners of drying washing.
In these cramped streets named with the names of saints, are sudden little squares, streets that are mere staircases up to the cliff-top, and others that deserve the name of one of them, The Mountain. In these narrow canyons, through which the single-decked electric trams thunder like mammoths who have lost their way, are most of the commercial houses and nearly all the mud of the city.
At the end of this olden quarter, merging from the very air of antiquity in the streets, Quebec, with a characteristic Canadian gesture, adopts modernity. That is the vivid thing about the city. It is not merely historical: it is up-to-date. It is not merely the past, but it is the future also. At the end of the old, cramped streets stands Quebec's future—its docks.
These great dockyards at the very toe of the cape are the latest things of their kind. They have been built to take the traffic of tomorrow as well as today. Greater ships than those yet built can lie in safe water alongside the huge new concrete quays. Great ships can go into dry dock here, or across the water in the shipyards of Levis. They even build or put together ships of large tonnage, and while we were there, there were ships in half sections; by themselves too big to be floated down from the lakes through the locks, they had come down from the building slips in floatable halves to be riveted together in Quebec.
A web of railways serves these great harbour basins, and the latest mechanical loading gear can whip cargo out of ships or into them at record speed and with infinite ease. Huge elevators—one concrete monster that had been reared in a Canadian hustle of seven days—can stream grain by the million tons into holds, while troops, passengers and the whole mechanics of human transport can be handled with the greatest facility.
The Prince went up the steep cobbled street of The Mountain under the grey, solid old masonry of the Battery that hangs over the town in front of Laval University, that with the Archbishop's palace looks like a piece of old France translated bodily to Canada.
So he came to the big, green Place des Armes, not now a place of arms, and at that particular moment not green, but as thick as a gigantic flower-bed with the pretty dresses of pretty women—and there is all the French charm in the beauty of the women of Quebec—and with the khaki and commonplace of soldiers and civilians. A mighty and enthusiastic crowd that did not allow its French accent to hinder the shout of welcome it had caught up from the throng that lined the slopes of The Mountain.
From this point the route twisted to the right along the Grande Allee, going first between tall and upright houses, jalousied and severe faced, to where a strip of side road swung it left again, and up hill to the Citadel, where His Royal Highness lived during his stay.
From the Place des Armes the profile of the town pushes back along the heights to the peak on which is the Citadel, a squat and massive structure that seems to have grown rather than to have been built from the living rock upon which it is based.
Between the Citadel and the Place des Armes there is a long, grey stone wall above the green glacis of the cliff. It has the look of a military wall, and it is not a military wall. It supports merely a superb promenade, Dufferin Terrace, a great plank walk poised sheer above the river, the like of which would be hard to equal anywhere. On this the homely people of Quebec take the air in a manner more sumptuous than many of the most aristocratic resorts in Europe.
At the eastern end of this terrace, and forming the wing of the Place des Armes, is the medieval structure of the Chateau Frontenac, a building not really more antique than the area of hotels de luxe, of which it is an extremely fine example, but so planned by its designers as to fit delightfully into the antique texture of the town.
Below and shelving away eastward again is the congested old town, through which the Prince had come, and behind Citadel and promenade, and stretching over the plateau of the cape, is a town of broad and comely streets, many trees and great parks as modern as anything in Canada.
That night the big Dufferin Terrace was thronged by people out to see the firework display from the Citadel, and to watch the illuminations of the city and of the ships down on the calm surface of the water. It was rather an unexpected crowd. There were the sexes by the thousands packed together on that big esplanade, listening to the band, looking at the fireworks and lights, the whole town was there in a holiday mood, and there was not the slightest hint of horseplay or disorder.
The crowd enjoyed itself calmly and gracefully; there were none of those syncopated sounds or movements which in an English crowd show that youth is being served with pleasure. The quiet enjoyment of this good-tempered and vivacious throng is the marked attitude of such Canadian gatherings. I saw in other towns big crowds gathered at the dances held in the street to celebrate the Prince's visit. Although thousands of people of all grades and tempers came together to dance or to watch the dancing, there was never the slightest sign of rowdyism or disorder.
On this and the next two nights Quebec added to its beauty. All the public buildings were outlined in electric light, so that it looked more than ever a fairy city hanging in the air. The cruisers in the stream were outlined, deck and spar and stack, in light, and Renown had poised between her masts a bright set of the Prince of Wales's feathers, the lights of the whole group of ships being mirrored in the river. On Friday Renown gave a display of fireworks and searchlights, the beauty of which was doubled by the reflections in the water.
Friday and Saturday (August 22 and 23) were strenuous days for the Prince. He visited every notable spot in the brilliant and curious town where one spoke first in French, and English only as an afterthought; where even the blind beggar appeals to the charitable in two languages; where the citizens ride in up-to-date motor-cars and the visitors in the high-slung, swing-shaped horse calache; where the traffic takes the French side of the road; where the shovel hats and cassocks of priests are as commonplace as everyday; where the vivacity of France is fused into the homely good-fellowship of the Colonial in a manner quite irresistible.
He began Friday in a wonderful crimson room in the Provincial Parliament building, where he received addresses in French, and answered them in the same tongue.
It was a remarkable room, this glowing chamber set in the handsome Parliament house that looks down over a sweep of grass, the hipped roofs and the pinnacles of the town to the St. Lawrence. It was a great room with a floor of crimson and walls of crimson and white. Over the mellow oak that made a backing to the Prince's dais was a striking picture of Champlain looking out from the deck of his tiny sloop The Gift of God to the shore upon which Quebec was to rise.
The people in that chamber were not less colourful than the room itself. Bright dresses, the antique robes of Les Membres du Conseil Executif, the violet and red of clerics, with the blue, red and khaki of fighting men were on the floor and in the mellow oak gallery.
Two addresses were read to His Royal Highness, twice, first in French and then in English, and each address in each language was prefaced by his list of titles—a long list, sonorous enough in French, but with an air of thirdly and lastly when oft repeated. One could imagine his relief when the fourth Earl of Carrick had been negotiated, and he was steering safely for the Lord of the Isles. A strain on any man, especially when one of the readers' pince-nez began to contract some of the deep feeling of its master, and to slide off at every comma, to be thrust back with his ever-deepening emotion.
The Prince answered in one language, and that French, and the surprise and delight of his hearers was profound. They felt that he had paid them the most graceful of compliments, and his fluency as well as his happiness of expression filled them with enthusiasm. He showed, too, that he recognized what French Canada had done in the war by his reference to the Vingtdeuxieme Battalion, whose "conduite intrepide" he had witnessed in France. It was a touch of knowledge that was certainly well chosen, for the province of Quebec, which sent forty thousand men by direct enlistment to the war, has, thanks to the obscurantism of politics, received rather less than its due.
From the atmosphere of governance the Prince passed to the atmosphere of the seminary, driving down the broad Grand Allee to the University of Laval, called after the first Bishop of Quebec and Canada. It has been since its foundation not merely the fountain head of Christianity on the American continent, but the armoury of science, in which all the arts of forestry, agriculture, medicine and the like were put at the service of the settler in his fight against the primitive wilds.
In the bleached and severe corridors of this great building the Prince examined many historic pictures of Canada's past, including a set of photographs of his own father's visit to the city and university. He also went from Laval to the Archbishop's Palace, where the Cardinal, a humorous, wise, virile old prelate in scarlet, showed him pictures of Queen Victoria and others of his ancestors, and stood by his side in the Grand Saloon while he held a reception of many clerics, professors and visitors.
The afternoon was given to the battlefield, where he unfurled a Union Jack to inaugurate the beautiful park that extends over the whole area.
The beauty of this park is a very real thing. It hangs over the St. Lawrence with a sumptuous air of spaciousness. Leaning over the granite balustrade, one can look down on the tiny Wolfe's cove, where three thousand British crept up in the blackness of the night to disconcert the French commander.
It is not a very imposing slope, and a modern army might take it in its stride. Across the formal grass of the park itself the learned trace the lines of England and of France.
At the town end there is a slight hill above a dip. The British were in the dip, France was on the hill. That hill lost the battle. It placed the French between the British and the guns of the Citadel in days when there was neither aerial observation nor indirect fire.
A wind, as on the day of the battle, was blowing while the Prince was on the field. The British fired one volley, and the smoke from their black powder was blown into the faces of the French. Bewildered by the dense cloud, uncertain of what was in the heart of it, the French broke and fled. In twenty minutes Canada was won.
There is a plain monument to mark the exact spot where Wolfe fell; the Prince placed a wreath upon it, as he had placed wreaths on the monuments of Champlain and Montcalm earlier, and as he did later at the monument Aux Braves on the field of Foye, which commemorates the dead of both races who fell in the battle when Murray, a year after Wolfe's victory, endeavoured to loosen the grip the French besiegers were tightening round Quebec, and was defeated, though he held the city.
On the Plains of Abraham—it has no romantic significance, Abraham was merely a farmer who owned the land at the time of the battle—French and English were again gathered in force, but in a different manner.
It was a bright and friendly gathering of Canadians, who no longer permitted a difference of tongue to interfere with their amity. It was also a gathering of men and women and children (Quebec is the province of the quiverful), notably vigorous, well-dressed and prosperous.
The thing to remark here, as well as in all the gatherings of the people of this city, was the absence of dinginess and dowdiness that goes with poverty. In the great mass of stone houses, pretty brick and wood villas, and apartment "houses," the upper flats of which are reached by curving iron Jacob stairways, that make habitable Quebec there are patches of cramped wooden houses, each built under the architectural stimulus of the packing-case, though rococo little porches and scalloped roofs add a wedding-cake charm to the poverty of size and design. But though there are these small but not mean houses, there appear to be no poor people.
All those on the Plains had an independent and self-supporting air (as, indeed, every person has in Canada), and they gave the Prince a reception of a hearty and affable kind, as he declared this fine park the property of the city, and made the citizens free of its historic acreage for all time.
From the Plains His Royal Highness went by car to the huge new railway bridge that spans the St. Lawrence a few miles above the town. It was a long ride through comely lanes, by quiet farmsteads and small habitant villages. At all places where there was a nucleus of human life, men and women, but particularly the children, came out to their fences with flags to shout and wave a greeting.
At the bridge station were two open cars, and on to the raised platform of one of these the Prince mounted, while "movie" men stormed the other car, and a number of ordinary human beings joined them. This special train was then passed slowly under the giant steel girders and over the central span, which is longer than any span the Forth Bridge can boast. As the train travelled forward the Prince showed his eagerness for technical detail, and kept the engineers by his side busy with a stream of questions.
The bridge is not only a superb example of the art of the engineer, perhaps the greatest example the twentieth century can yet show, but it is a monument to the courage and tenacity of man. Twice the great central span was floated up-stream from the building yards, only to collapse and sink into the St. Lawrence at the moment it was being lifted into place. Though these failures caused loss of life, the designers persisted, and the third attempt brought success.
There was, one supposes, a ceremonial idea connected with this function. His Royal Highness certainly unveiled two tablets at either end of the bridge by jerking cords that released the covering Union Jack. But this ritual was second to the ceremonial of the "movies."
The "movies" went over the top in a grand attack. They put down a box barrage close up against the Prince's platform, and at a distance of two feet, not an inflection of his face, nor a movement of his head, escaped the unwinking and merciless eye of the camera.
The "movie" men declare that the Prince is the best "fil-lm" actor living, since he is absolutely unstudied in manner; but it would have taken a Douglas Fairbanks of a super-breed to remain unembarrassed in the face of that cold line of lenses thrust close up to his medal ribbons. And in the film he shows his feelings in characteristic movements of lips and hands.