Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

A Holiday Trip to Canada
Chapter X

When disembarking at Avonmouth, I could not but remark the difference in the facility with which landing in England was effected, compared with the strict examination enforced by the Governments of Canada and the United States.

Here they do not even trouble to question persons individually; an official simply calls out: “Are you a British subject?” as the disembarking passengers crowd down the gangways, not one in six of whom troubles to answer at all. It is not only ineffective, it is ludicrous.

And now, once again, I am on English soil. A company of artillerymen and a band have come to greet their comrades from across the Atlantic.

I felt ashamed to see men on the landing stage standing with their heads covered whilst the band played the National Anthem. How astonished the Canadians must have been, for the observation of the outward and visible signs of loyalty is no more lacking in them, than is a deep and true sense of it an inherent part oi them, and a national characteristic.

We had not received any news for some days, and were disturbed and distressed to find that we had arrived only just in time to get to London before the great railway strike began. Already the military were guarding the stations and railway lines, and the place seemed like an armed camp, so very unlike our steady, stolid, regular old England.

The great heat still continues, the burnt-up fields with not a vestige of grass for the poor cattle, and pasture as brown as a ploughed field is seen everywhere, and is eloquent of the extreme drought from which England has suitered during this summer.

Glancing through a newspaper on my journey to London, I noticed the report of a lecture given by a certain Radical M.P., in which he laid great stress upon the number of slums to be found in the cities of Canada, and the enormous rents demanded from the poorer classes tor the most wretched little tenements. He also spoke very strongly as to the undesirability of sending our best men to Canada. Incidentally he mentioned that he himself should go out again, probably to stay.

Whilst admitting that my own experience is very limited, yet it did Include three of the oldest and largest towns, Montreal, Toronto, and Quebec, where slums and poverty would, if anywhere, be found; and although I made a point in every case, of seeing the poorer parts of the towns, I saw nothing approaching the squalid and abject poverty to be found in this country, nor did I see a wretchedly fed or raggedly clothed person or child; above all, I did not once see a person the worse for liquor.

Comparisons are proverbially odious, but even to any person who has never left these islands, it must be perfectly obvious that poverty and misery cannot be so rife in a young country which began to make history only about 150 years ago, as it is in Britain, I am, and have always been very conservative. proud of Britain and what she has done; I would I could also say, what she is doing; but I think it decidedly illogical for any Englishman, when comparing England with her colonies or any other country, to mention high rents as a check to emigration, having in mind the fact that our land system and the evil? arising there from, are a source of amazement to foreigners and strangers.

But propos of abject poverty with all its hideous consequences, the question arises how far is not this, if not the outcome of, at least terribly aggravated by, the curse of alcoholism?

Now, in Canada, public houses, as they are known in England, do not exist, and in my short experience of the Dominion, drinking, as indulged in in England, is not known, though undoubtedly drinking does exist in every country. Canadians, recently returned from England, remarked, almost without exception, the evil effect which public houses, as they are in England, must have on the people, and they were particularly shocked at the sight of women openly drinking at these places.

As to keeping our best men at home; it is naturally and economically the wisest thing we can do, but thousands of them plod on here, battling with high taxation, competition, and low wages, caused, in the main, by the unrestricted influx of poverty-stricken and undesirable aliens.

These thrifty bread-winners toil on pluckily and stolidly until the breaking point arrives, and they look longingly and hopefully to a new land, where their hard toil and dogged perseverance may hope for some reward. These are the men that need Canada, and these are the men that Canada needs; and these are the men who will keep Canada as surely ours in the future, as she is ours to-day.

On the voyage out I took a snapshot of a boy, and promised to send him the photograph when finished, for which purpose he gave me his father’s address in the town of Toronto. In due course I redeemed my promise, and I quote an extract from a letter of thanks which his father sent me, and which I leave to speak for itself. “My wife and son were returning from a three months’ holiday in England; we have been in this country nearly five years, during which time we have been able to build a little house for ourselves, a thing impossible to do in England, where competition is so keen. I am a bricklayer by trade, have been able to get plenty of work, but have to provide during the summer for our needs in winter. I have no cause to regret leaving England. It is the best thing I ever did. It is cold in the winter, but the climate suits us. ’’

Our policy of the open door no doubt stood us in good stead, when men were glad to flee to us from political or religious persecution in their own country. These were generally their best men, often skilled craftsmen, bringing trade in their train; but in these days the obvious duty of every nation is to keep its best men, they care little where their wastrels or unemployables go; indeed, they are only too glad to aid them to emigrate to fresh woods and pastures new. We ourselves are practised at this, and our favourite dumping ground is our colonies. It is this class of emigrant who has brought contumely upon the once honoured name of Englishman, and we complain that he is looked upon by Canadians with extreme disfavour. Canada now will not have him within her borders; would that we could but follow so wise and prudent an example; for, if she, with her untold miles of virgin soil and unknown stores of wealth, will refuse any but the fit and thrifty worker, how much more then should we, in these densely peopled islands, close our doors to the crowd of worthless, destitute criminals and aliens who, unrestrained, enter our ports, drive out many of the best from this England of ours, and hang round our neck like the Old Man of the Sea.

Now I am home once more, and have come to the end of my splendid holiday. I have seen and learned many things, and have made many friends during my three weeks' journey of nearly eight thousand miles. So pleasant has my experience been and so charmed and impressed am I by the beauty and possibilities of Canada, that, although the days of youth are no longer with me, I could find it in my heart to leave the Motherland, with all its close and dear associations, and take up my abode in the Daughter Country. She has a great fascination for me and seems to call me back.

I wish that more of my countrymen and women would make an effort to see something of Canada as I have done, and realize for themselves the great opportunities which are open to anyone, who honestly intends to succeed and make a home there.

I cannot finish this little account of my visit to our kindly kinsmen across the sea, without repeating reverently, as I have been taught by their example to do,

“God Save our King, and Heaven Bless the Maple Leaf for Ever.”

Return to Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.