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A Holiday Trip to Canada
Chapter V

One morning a notice appears on the board intimating that telegraphic communication has been established, and passengers may wire to Canada or home, by applying at the Marconi office on the upper deck.

The following morning we are awakened by the almost continual hoot of the foghorn, the boat has been proceeding very slowly, and we are told that instead of getting into Quebec by about five p.m., we cannot get in until much later. If we arrive late in the evening we shall not be allowed to land, as the officials would not come on board at so late an hour to "pass” the passengers. The baggage, mostly marked “settlers’ effects.” has been brought up out of the hold, ready to be taken off, but residents of the city who hoped to arrive home in the evening, will. I fear, be obliged to remain on board another night.

Prizes for the successful competitors in the sports were presented by Mr Smith, an ex-mayor of Chatham, Ontario. He had been in London in connexion with the "Sons of England" Society, sent by them as its representative at the Coronation. He was one of a party of seven, who, realizing that Englishmen were being neglected and rather made to take a “back seat” in the new country, formed a society with the object of remedying this. Hearing that I was going on, later, to Toronto, he gave me a letter of introduction to a friend of his living in that city, and begged me to call on, or ’phone to, him it he could be of the least service to me He was a man exceedingly proud of his adopted country, and seemed very anxious that I should carry away a good impression of it, as I most certainly have done.

I found its people kind and hospitable, most loyal to their new country, yet with a great affection for the old Motherland, its King, and people, and whilst there were some things they deplored in the Old Country, they readily admitted that there were great and perplexing problems always arising, due partly to the difficulty of reconciling long established practices and prejudices with present-day needs—problems of which a new country knows nothing.

I went to the upper deck to send a Marconigram home, as I particularly wanted to see how a message was sent, the wonder of the invention strikes one with particular force when at sea. The chart showing the lines of the different ocean steamers was most interesting. Although a vessel is not often sighted, yet, from this very condensed chart, the ocean would seem to be covered with lines of steamers crossing and recrossing in all directions. The chart somewhat resembles this sketch, the thick line representing the track of our own vessel. There was only one operator on board, so we were not in constant touch with all the ships

around us. but even this service afforded those on board a feeling of safety, whilst with two operators and consequently continual communication, the sense of security would be almost complete.

Steaming up the St Lawrence, the country, seen from the boat, is very pretty; the mountains in the distance forming a second sharp line behind the line of the banks, and, as it were, a frame to the beauty of the countryside. I did not realize I was in a Province professing the Roman Catholic faith, until noticing, in the advancing twilight, certain twinkling lights, I was informed that they were lights burning at various little shrines, a great number of which are dedicated to St Anne, the Mother of Our Lady.

The sunset earlier in the evening was very beautiful; a low line of fog lay over the land, above which the mountains rose quite clear, their peaks illumined by the setting sun with a pale pink light, and where there was an occasional break in these hills, one caught a glimpse of deep flame, red, in brilliant contrast to the dark and sombre sides of the hills in front.

The scene when entering Quebec was indescribably lovely, and like nothing I have ever seen before. The lower town lies very near the water's edge, whilst immediately behind rise the Heights of Abraham, crowned by the citadel and the upper town, which slope slightly upwards to the Plains of Abraham. Seen from the river, after dark, the city is a glorious blaze of lights in varied colours, and on this night the clear sky and a rising moon behind the heights, completed a scene, which, to me, was fairyland itself.

Doctors had come on board lower down the river, but none of the residents of Quebec had been examined. We were brought alongside the landing stage at about nine o’clock; a small knot of people cheered, and, like us, waited to see what would happen. Then the news went round that nobody was to leave the ship, and the small crowd or, shore, after waiting for some considerable time, dwindled away. The place seemed very foreign to me; one heard French spoken by those on shore. Even the crack of the drivers’ whips seemed to have a French accent; everybody on deck was too excited to turn in, and we did not go to bed until after midnight.

I think every one on board had enjoyed the voyage and wished it could have continued much longer; friendships had been formed, and a delightful intimacy had sprung up between many of us during the voyage; now, all were going their different ways, and the morrow would see the first break in what had seemed to be a big family travelling from one side of the Atlantic to the other; in another week some of them would be across the big country and on the shores of the Pacific.

We intended to get up very early next morning to see the third-class passengers and their baggage taken off, but, although we were called at five o'clock, the landing had already taken place, and the tram would soon be starting; anyhow, not a sight of either the passengers or baggage could be seen. At half past five the stewardess came to hurry us to the saloon to undergo the official examination. So hurried were we, that some who had infants had to take them out of bed, asleep, and wrap them in shawls; every soul on the ship having to be examined.

We were arranged in groups, each group bearing a number; my group was numbered thirteen, but I got into the saloon before my number was called so that I could take some note of the procedure. Each person presented his card and was brought before a table at which four officials were seated; an official of the ship was also present, I suppose to identify us. Two of the officials were, I think, doctors, the others saw that the Government sheets were properly filled up, compared the cards and asked a number of questions, of which the following are an example:

What’s your name?
Been in Canada before?
You intend to reside here?
To what part are you going?
How much money have you?
Have you your railway ticket paid through to your destination?

If a woman was going out to be married, or to her husband, they required to know the man’s occupation; all children’s names and ages were registered. Already, during the voyage, our name, age, next of kin, nationality, place of destination, and a number of other particulars, which I cannot now remember, had been taken whilst under cross-examination in the saloon. Every person as he passed was closely scrutinized by the two keen doctors. If any doubt arose, the passenger was sent back; those that passed seemed much relieved, because then their card was stamped by both doctor and other Government officials, and they were free.

One family was kept back, I do not know for what reason, and two Japanese men also were not allowed to land. They were travelling round the world, but not having a certain sum in cash in their possession, they had to stay on the boat until they received bank drafts from New York where money was awaiting them. They then had to take their ticket through Canada and the United States, and for the steamer to take their out of the country again. I was told that Chinamen and Japanese residing in Canada have to pay a poll tax, but no newcomers are now allowed to stay in the country.

An English adult must have a clean bill of health, a ticket to his destination, and £5, and for each child or infant £2 10s.

In winter the St Lawrence is frozen over, generally from November to April or May; so thick is the ice, that a light railway is thrown across from Quebec to Levis; the river is kept open for navigation as long as possible, but whilst the stream carries down the broken ice, the tide carries it back again, and forces it together into all sorts of fantastic shapes. Boats, during the winter, have to land their passengers and cargo at Halifax, N.S., whence they are carried by train to Montreal.

The weather growing very warm again, we were compelled to take to thinner clothing. The temperature rose as we got further up the river, until, when Montreal was reached, it was extremely hot.

At Montreal we were accorded a rousing welcome from a crowd of people assembled at the docks. Boy Scouts in particular had mustered in strength to greet their comrades coming home from England, and were very busy with a doggerel chorus which runs something as follows:

“Ra-ro-ra, ra-re-ra,
We are the Scouts from Ca-na-da;
Rickety, rickety russ
We're not afraid to fuss,
But never-the-less
We must confess,
There's nothing the matter with us.

The heat on the deck after the vessel was docked, and we were assembled together awaiting permission to land, was intense, and we had to wait, sweltering, for what seemed like hours, whilst all the baggage was taken ashore, the heavy baggage from the hold, as well as the piles of smaller baggage from the cabins.

It was with the deepest regret that I bade farewell to the many friends I had made on that pleasant, interesting, and all too short voyage. I say friends, for they seemed old friends to me, and now we were all about to separate, probably never to meet again. Many, starting a new life here, are radiant with hope, a stimulating, uplifting hope which augurs well for their success, and I pray that to none of them may come that failure, so often undeserved, which makes a desert of lives, which, in happier circumstances, might have been full of usefulness and joy. That I was not alone in my earnest good wishes for these friends was very evident, for many a heartfelt "God bless you!" was mingled with protestations of friendship, and the saying of farewell. For myself, I was travelling as far as Niagara, and sought for some one who might possibly be glad to join me, but alas! I was doomed to disappointment; so, after enjoying six days of good company and good fellowship, it seemed I had to continue my journey and complete my holiday alone.

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