I felt just a little sad at finding myself once more on
board the “Royal Edward" leaving behind so pleasing an experience as
mine had been. This sense of sadness was aggravated by the fact that, as
regards passengers, I was again amongst complete strangers; it was
really good to see the familiar faces of the boat's officials and crew,
and my heart warmed to them as to old friends.
We slipped out quietly from the docks in the very early
morning; so quietly that, when I awoke, we were well down the river.
Three days in the river accustoms one to the slight movement of the
boat, and I am hoping that there is less chance of being ill on the
Happily it is not long before the ice of formality is
broken on board a vessel, and I was soon on friendly terms with many of
My cabin companion was a lady from British Columbia, who
was going on a visit of several months duration to the Old Country, with
Compared with the number of passengers on the outward
journey, there were very few coming home, and they were of a very
different type from those who were on the boat going out.
These were people whose fight had been fought, or who had
an ordinary life before them. Those going out had, most of them, a big
fight to face, and therefore seemed to draw one’s sympathies and
Among our passengers was a party of about forty
Canadians, volunteer artillerymen, who were coming over for firing
competitions on Salisbury Plain and elsewhere. They came from all
parts—from Nova Scotia, from Quebec, from Ontario, from Prince Edward
Island, and some all the way from British Columbia. They had met and
trained together in camp, so they were very fit and knew each other
Quite a dozen of these men from the Province of Quebec,
could not speak English at all, and one of them had to act as
It redounds to the credit of these artillerymen, and I am
glad to say that, despite the fact that in England the competitions had,
in many cases, to be fired with guns which were obsolete in Canada, and
that the men had therefore to learn again how to handle these old guns,
they succeeded in carrying off the prizes in nearly all of the
competitions for which they entered.
Being now intensely interested in everything relating to
Canada, the voyage home with so many Canadians from all parts of the
Dominion promised particular pleasure.
Talking one day to the lady who shared my cabin, I was
not a little surprised to hear that many of the older and richer
families of British Columbia are descended, on the distaff side, from
Indian blood, and are proud to admit this even when evidence of it is
When the pioneers went out in the service of the Hudson
Bay Company, there were no women, except Indians, and I believe that
this all-powerful company rightly insisted on the men honourably
marrying the Indian women, whom they had taken away from their tribe.
Yarns of the hardships of the earlier settlers, and
indeed of settlers in these days, especially when away from the beaten
track, appealed to me very forcibly, particularly as the narrator was,
in most cases, connected with the yarn, or had known those of whom he
Who can fail to admire the grit of a man and his wife who
would have to fell trees, build their own hut or “dug-out,” carry their
provisions on their backs for many weary miles from the nearest place of
our chase, to their shanty; wander through forests in search of food,
and contend with winter snows and frosts of almost arctic severity?
What townsman, used to close association with his fellow
men and to the luxuries and conveniences of a town life, but will
shudder at the loneliness of a family, most of whom had been born in one
of the back blocks in Vancouver; who, when the father and mother had
sufficient money to take them to the nearest town to be baptized, could
barely make themselves understood? So lonely had been their life, and so
limited their intercourse with human beings, that they wore scarcely
able to speak their own language intelligently.
One man told me of a hunting expedition upon which he
went with other youths not many years ago. Chopping pieces of bark off
trees as they went was the only way in which they were able to mark the
track by which they should return.
On the way back to camp at night, one of them slipped
into a badger hole and hurt his foot badly. They carried him as far as
they could, until they were too exhausted to take him further; then they
left him, and hastened to camp to bring the necessary help. When they
returned they found that the poor fellow had been attacked and almost
eaten by wolves.
On another occasion, one of the party lagged behind and
missed the track, and having altogether lost his bearings, could not
find it again. After a long search they came across him, frozen to
death, not far from the track which they had made the previous day.
I also heard of a girl, the sister of my informant, who,
crossing the ice of the St Lawrence river, going from Quebec to Levis,
to school, in the early winter, met with an unusual adventure;
unfortunately the ice broke away, possibly by force of the tide, and the
child was carried away down stream on an ice floe. Happily she was
rescued, but only after almost superhuman exertion and with great
Despite my friend’s terrible story about the wolves, I
believe it is rarely that anybody is attacked by them; indeed, they
would probably attack only when driven to bay, or when very hungry. The
grey wolf ot the prairie has not been known to attack man.
Speaking of animals of the wilds, I had always thought
that the pelts of animals were only satisfactory if trapped in a wild
state, but I hear that black, grey, and silver fox, the former
especially, are being reared in partial confinement, and that
experiments covering the last two years have, so far, been quite
satisfactory. A particular kind of soil is chosen, a large tract
enclosed, and care has to be taken that the animals do not escape by
I had intended making some purchases of fur whilst in
Canada, but the price asked was greatly in advance of that in London,
London being, as they told me, the fur market of the world.
When we reached Quebec, I was delighted to find that we
had permission to land for a few hours. I had again the good luck to
meet some of the kind friends who had come over from England with me.
Desiring to see as much of Quebec as possible, we took a
carriage and drove round the old and the new towns, and over the
battlefields, looking very peaceful and perhaps rather desolate now,
with Wolfe’s monument alone on the solitary plain.
The authorities have enclosed this monument with a
hideous high railing, for visitors had chipped off scraps of the stone
to carry away as mementoes to such an extent, that, at last, it was so
defaced, that what was left of it was broken up and buried and a new
monument erected on the same spot.
I, of course, also visited the monuments erected in front
of the Chateau Frontenac, to the memory of the two brave men Wolfe and
I was rather alarmed when driving up and down over the
streets of Quebec; they are so steep and so bad, but both driver and
horse were accustomed to the roads and we came through the ordeal in
safety. I suppose it is impossible that the roads can be kept in good
condition, because of their steepness and the effect of the winter's
frost and snow upon them.
The streets in the older part of the city are quaint and
narrow, and Quebec, to me, was an altogether delightful place.
We went through the fort or citadel which is garrisoned
by 200 artillerymen, and is fitted with a "wireless” installation.
From the citadel we had a glorious view of the
surrounding country. Looking down on the grand river, and across it to
Levis, one could not help being impressed by its beauty now, or
imagining how different the scene would be in winter, when, instead of
shipping, one would see sleighs, carriages, and even a railway tram,
making a causeway of the water which was now like burnished gold under
the brilliant rays of an almost tropical sun.
Our first two days on the homeward voyage were delightful
and remarkable for a beauty of atmosphere which I had never before
experienced. The nights, with a full harvest moon, and stars which
looked double their ordinary size, were such as arc not easily
The sky being cloudless and the atmosphere clear we had a
splendid view of the Newfoundland coast as we passed it, and we could
see one of the famous fleets of fishing boats with their sail;
glittering white in the sun.
Canada is, I believe, desirous of annexing Newfoundland,
but the latter is of course the older country, and the Newfoundlanders
object to Canada’s designs, preferring to have their own governor and be
Canada, too, is anxious to have a navy and her own coast
defence, and is making strides in that direction; when she has
accomplished this, as accomplish it she will, I have no doubt that her
ships will be manned chiefly by these hardy fishermen, who, when called
upon, will render a good account of themselves.
There is in course of being built, a very large Marconi
station in Newfoundland, and I understand that Messrs Harmsworth have
built large paper mills there, for the pulp or pulp wood can be procured
and the paper manufactured and carried to England more cheaply than it
can be produced in the latter country.
We sighted a number of icebergs after passing Belle Isle,
as many as seven being in sight at one time.
Several stowaways have been found in the coal bunkers;
they have been seen by the engineers, but as these bankers open one into
the other, the stowaways cannot very well be got at until much of the
coal has been consumed.
On one voyage, as many as thirteen stowaways were found,
but instead of keeping them to prosecute on arrival in port, they were
set to work to earn their passage by stoking, and anyone who has seen a
stoker come up from the engine room will realize how heavy a toll these
stowaways paid for their passage, for of wages there would be none.
There would seem to be no end to the wonders of science
as applied to safeguarding navigation. Chatting to the Marconi operator
one day, he went to much trouble to explain to me the method of
submarine signalling, now in use on most well regulated vessels. I would
not repeat the technical details with which he favoured me even if I
could, but he told me that if the ship is in a fog, the operator, by
placing a certain receiver to his ear, can at once tell, not only
whether another ship is near, but also its position; and by a still
newer and more wonderful invention, sounds can be transmitted under
water, caught by a recorder on the ship's bottom, and sent on to the
captain on his bridge, so that even a bell-buoy, otherwise inaudible,
can be heard and its warning heeded.
With so many safeguards one might easily be lulled into a
sense of absolute safety on a modern, up-to-date passenger boat, and
though the protection afforded by science, which is so wonderful, can be
rendered useless in a moment by the smallest error, which is so human,
yet, thanks to the splendid men who command the ships of the maritime
nations, that sense of safety is rarely shocked, and the traveller heeds
nothing, but goes his way in comfort and confidence.
I had mentioned that I should like to be shown over the
ship, and with the usual courtesy with which every request was met on
board the "Royal Edward,” I was informed that at four o’clock in the
afternoon I should be taken round.
The kitchens were a marvel of cleanliness, spacious and
with plenty of air; the bake house, where three master bakers are
required, still-room and serving room, are apart from the cook’s galley.
In the latter the dinner was placed ready for cooking; huge copper
vessels with potatoes ready to be boiled; large square tins, some
holding perhaps a dozen ducks, others containing joints of meat all
ready for the oven. We were also shown a culinary novelty in the shape
of an automatic egg boiler, which, when the eggs had been boiling the
correct length of time, was lifted up out of the water.
I forgot to ask how many cooks there were, but there must
be quite a small army of them, for there are about 1,200 passengers
aboard besides the officers and crew, and the dining tables are scarcely
cleared before it is time to set them again.
I have lately come to the conclusion that, in these days,
the average child is coddled and sheltered to an unreasonable extent by
adoring and over-anxious parents, and I wonder what the majority of
these good folk would think of a child of eight or nine years of age
being sent on a journey across the Atlantic alone.
We had on board a little fellow of this tender age, who
had been placed in charge of the stewardess, and a real good time he
had. The passengers, especially the men folk, laid themselves out to
amuse him and make him happy.
I am told that it is no uncommon occurrence for a child
to take, not only this journey, but also the journey across the Canadian
continent, “out West.” On the latter trip, a ticket bearing its name,
address, destination and other particulars, is sewn to its clothes, and
it is always well looked after by everybody, and, without exception, is
always handed over in safety to the person to whom it is going.
I cannot help but think that journeys taken under these
conditions, given certain qualities in the child, must tend to create a
spirit of independence and self-reliance which serve it in good stead in
its inevitable fight for existence in after years.