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A Holiday Trip to Canada
Chapter III

I found amongst my fellow passengers a great many Canadians who were returning from a round of gaieties connected with the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary.

There is no difficulty in distinguishing Canadians from tourists or intending settlers, for even though they may have been only a short time in Canada, they seem at once to acquire a great affection for their adopted home, and would soon enlighten one as to their nationality, if it were doubted, especially if one spoke of them, or to them, as Americans for instance, a Canadian on board, in the course of conversation, said to me “I can’t think why the people in England will insist on calling me an American; I told them 'I am not an American! I am a Canadian!” although he certainly gave me the impression of being an American; later on I found that he had been in Alberta only four years and that his parents still lived in Chicago, which had been his home.

An officer of the Canadian Artillery (Militia) said to one of his men, who bore an unpronounceable name: "I hear you are a Russian?” "No, sir, I’m not! I am a Canadian, from Halifax!" "Oh,” replied the officer, “I was told that you came from Moscow, and that your father was an officer in the Imperial Army there!” "Ah! If you ask me where my native place is, certainly, Russia, but I’m not a Russian, I'm a Canadian, a properly naturalized Canadian!” And this man had translated his name from “Femcapapfor” to "Esther,” as being easier to pronounce, and as near the meaning of his own name as he could possibly get in English. I have no doubt that the change was made to make him appear of true Canadian nationality, although to the French Canadian of Nova Scotia, many of whom are unable to speak English, his accent would sound strange and foreign, particularly as Mr Femcapapfor himself spoke ten different languages.

We also had on board a party of Boy Scouts, bound for home after a real good time in England, and some of the Canadian riflemen who had been over for the National Rifle Association Meeting at Bisley, very proud that their comrade Clifford had won, and was taking the King’s Cup with him to Canada.

The majority, however, were journeying to the Dominion for the first time; women going out to marry lovers who had preceded them; or settlers seeking a new home in the land of promise.

Having in mind the tales one hears as to the unpreparedness of the average settler, and the unsuitable way in which he clothes himself, I was astonished to see how well and fittingly dressed they were for their long journey and the life before them. Families of four or five, including babies in arms, one infant being as young as two months old, all were carefully tended and looked after. I wondered how these mothers had been able to manage during the first two days, when freedom from sickness was exceptional. I was condoling with one mother, and found that she had had no trouble; children were ill only just a very short time, she said, and supposed it was because they were too young to think about themselves. I felt I should like to know exactly how far a Christian Scientist would have been ill in the same circumstances; the two ideas seemed remarkably similar, and a comparison would have been interesting.

Altogether we were a motley crowd. elderly folk and maidens, young men and children, Britishers, Americans. Canadians, & Japanese.

A lady on board, wearing the braided coat of an officer, is called the "matron of the ship," and gives special attention and help to young girls going out alone; she advises them, and often puts them in the way of obtaining situations, and gives them letters of introduction to people in the towns to which they have booked.

Our commander is exceedingly courteous and kind, but our intercourse with him is very limited. He lives almost entirely in his very comfortable quarters on the bridge deck, and is not often seen about the ship.

Concerning clothes; there is very little need for dressing; one may go in to luncheon and even dinner in ordinary deck clothes, only at a concert, or on some special occasion, does a smart high frock or blouse appear. It is good to find that comfort is the first consideration, and one need take but very little for a voyage like this, but very warm wraps are an absolute necessity.

When we left England we were wearing the thinnest of clothes; two days after we were in heavy wraps, warm headgear and rugs; on the third day it was very cold, as we were nearing the region of icebergs and there was a slight fog, for fog seems inseparable from icebergs.

As for entertainment, there is always something to be seen or done. To-day we have seen whales and the sporting of shoals of porpoises; to-night a concert is to be held in the second-class saloon, tor which the Scouts sell programmes and make themselves generally useful; on the third deck the passengers have been amusing themselves with games, and have ended by dancing to the strains of a concertina. The games are interesting and amusing, deck billiards being, usually, the favourite; then the Scouts have to be paraded, and the ship’s staff inspected daily, when each person must be at his respective, post.

The concerts given in the evenings were sources of much pleasure, and one could not but remark how, during these concerts, everything connected with Canada, whether in the songs or speeches, was applauded; the Scouts' national songs especially so. To such an extent was this carried, that, as an Englishwoman, I felt a little bit "out of it”; however, after the Scouts had sung their own chorus and the ”Maple Leaf,” they finished up with our grand old National Anthem, and all was well again.

I must say I was impressed when I heard them sing the “Maple Leaf,” very seriously and heartily,

God Save Our King, and Heaven Bless the Maple Leaf for Ever.

In talking to some of these Canadian youths afterwards, I found them intensely loyal, so loyal as would astonish most English people, who are, I fear, more inclined to apathy in such matters.

These jolly Boy Scouts have had the time of their lives, and are getting very excited now that they are nearing home. There are only about forty of them here on board, the chief body having returned much earlier. These few, left behind by the main body, have been taken all over England, have been to Ireland, Scotland, and even to the Isle of Man; every moment of their time has been so variously occupied that, I fear, it has been almost too much for them to have remembered half they have seen and heard; they have fared right royally.

It is quite a fair walk round the ship’s deck, up one side and back the other, the “Royal Edward” being 540 feet from bow to stern. I believe that she and her sister ship, the "Royal George,” were built for the Mediterranean service, and it was intended that only first-class passengers should be carried; this explains the very splendid state-rooms, which, except for position, are much the same throughout the ship; there are also special suites of rooms, consisting of bed, sitting, and bath rooms.

I am told that the company are building ships on similar lines to supplement the service of these boats, which, for comfort, attendance, and a good table, are second to none. Many passengers compared the "Royal" with other better known lines, usually not to the advantage of the latter. These boats, besides a general overhauling, had to have one deck taken away before a voyage was made across the Atlantic.

This voyage seems particularly short to those, who, like myself, love the sea, for the journey across, from Bristol to Belle Isle, takes but four days, then one day in the Gulf of St Lawrence, and two days up the river, past Quebec to Montreal, sees us at our destination.

It is curious to a person to find that each day lengthens by forty-eight minutes, so that watches have to be corrected to that extent every day. I have no doubt that, later on, this will be simplified, and that perhaps the time, as now in France, will be Greenwich time everywhere.

I hear that, to those who are going on the railway journey out West, time is scheduled in the time-tables from one to twenty-four hours; thus, eleven-thirty o’clock p.m. would be twenty-three thirty o’clock.

Sunday is our first really beautiful day, the sun is quite hot, the sea calm and of the deepest blue. It is worth enduring two or more days of sea-sickness to enjoy such a day as this, and one wishes that the voyage could continue indefinitely.

Divine service was held this morning in the "First” saloon, and was read by the ship’s doctor, Dr Evans. The service was simple and impressive, the singing very good, and the unthought of risks of sea-travel were brought to our minds by the special prayer to the Almighty to “Protect this ship, and all in it, from the danger of the elements.”

Later, in the afternoon, a service conducted by a Salvation Army official was held on the “third” deck, and to it, I should think, every one came. It was all very primitive, and the dear old familiar hymns, “Nearer to Thee,” “Lead Kindly Light,” and “There is a Green Hill,” were sung unaccompanied, but with a fervour and heartiness that brought tears to the eyes of many.

As an epilogue to the service, Canadians told their experiences of earlier days, and bade those seeking a home in the new land, take good heart, for, with perseverance and "gut," they would not fail to secure a bright future for themselves and their loved ones.

We passed our sister ship, about sixty miles away, this morning, and communication was made by “wireless.”

Any news that is at all interesting is put on the notice board, and it is wonderful what a variety of news reached us.

The notice board is quite a centre of interest, for here are all announcements of sports, concerts, articles lost or found, and even notice of a baby show.

We were ahead of the scheduled time by several hours, and were expecting to pass Belle Isle and Newfoundland on the following day, when great excitement was caused by the sighting of an iceberg, probably twelve or fifteen miles away. Field glasses are at once in use, and, through them, the berg looks like a huge white ship, very high out of the water, hawing three distinct pinnacles glistening white in the sun.

This was followed by another, this time a little nearer; it was judged to be about a quarter of a mile in length, and locked just a solid, square block of ice.

Later, we again got into a group of icebergs, dotted about; some were of the most fantastic shape, and of varying size. They are well known to be a source of danger to shipping, particularly when they have melted down nearly to the water’s level, for there is still the huge water-logged mass under water; we all but struck one of them at about 3 a.m., but our engines were promptly reversed, and we escaped. I fortunately managed to secure some fairly good photographs of several of the bergs we passed.

Since writing the above, the terrible tragedy of the Titanic proves how dangerous these icebergs are.

I was told that one of these large ice bergs was sighted not long since, with three bears upon it tramping round and round; poor beasts, they were no doubt finally starved to death.

When these ice blocks are first separated from the ice fields, they are three parts underwater to one part above; later, when they get thoroughly waterlogged the ratio increases, and they become seven times deeper under water then they are above it.

One must needs feel compassion for the man in the "crow’s nest,” a look-out, high up on the front mast. When he sees anything he rings a bell to call the captain’s attention to whatever it may be. It must be bitterly cold aloft in the “crow’s nest” in this region of icebergs and fog-bank, for even below, on deck, plenty of warm wraps are an imperative necessity.

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