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Title: Across the Prairie in a Motor Caravan - A 3,000 Mile Tour by Two Englishwomen on Behalf of Religious Education
Author: Hasell, F. H. Eva (Frances Hatton Eva), 1886-1974, Sayle, Iris Eugenie Friend
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: ACROSS THE PRAIRIE

F.H.E. HASELL]



ACROSS THE PRAIRIE IN A MOTOR CARAVAN



[Illustration: THE CANADIAN DOMINION IN DIOCESES

_By permission of S.P.G._    _Frontispiece_]



  ACROSS THE PRAIRIE
  IN A MOTOR CARAVAN

  A 3,000 MILE TOUR BY TWO ENGLISHWOMEN
  ON BEHALF OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

  BY
  F. H. EVA HASELL
  IN COLLABORATION WITH J. F. S.

  WITH 18 ILLUSTRATIONS AND A MAP

  LONDON
  SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE

  NEW YORK AND TORONTO: THE MACMILLAN CO.
  1922



  TO

  AYLMER BOSANQUET

  WHOSE SELF-SACRIFICE, DEEP SPIRITUALITY,
  AND FAR-SEEING VISION INSPIRED THIS VENTURE,
  THIS BOOK IS LOVINGLY DEDICATED

  PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN



  LETTER FROM
  HIS GRACE THE ARCHBISHOP
  OF CANTERBURY.


  Lambeth Palace,
  London, S.E.

Dear Miss Hasell,

I happen to have read the proof sheets of the little book which is to
record the story of your work and Miss Ticehurst's in the prairie tracts
of Canada, and I should like to tell you how glad I am that the account
of these eventful journeyings should be accessible to the public. People
realise too little what are the opportunities and responsibilities of
pioneer days in those incomparable regions. The perseverance, the
indomitable energy, and the buoyant hope which your pages record and
inspire will have a place in the annals of that vast seed plot and
cradle of a great nation that is to be.

  I am,

    Yours very truly,

      RANDALL CANTUAR.

  _October 5th, 1922._



  CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                              PAGE

      I. THE CALL OF THE PRAIRIE                          1

     II. PREPARATIONS AND DEPARTURE                       7

    III. RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN THE U.S.A. AND CANADA    10

     IV. LIFE IN A LITTLE PRAIRIE TOWN                   17

      V. IN REGINA                                       22

     VI. THE MOTOR CARAVAN                               28

    VII. THE PRAIRIE TRAILS                              33

   VIII. FROM WINNIPEG TO REGINA                         36

     IX. SANDSTORMS AND SUNDAY SCHOOLS                   42

      X. ADVENTURES AND MISADVENTURES                    51

     XI. SOME ASPECTS OF PRAIRIE LIFE                    55

    XII. MISSIONS AND MUD HOLES                          62

   XIII. FURTHER PRAIRIE SKETCHES                        71

    XIV. A CAMPING TRIP IN THE ROCKIES                   78

     XV. ON THE RETURN JOURNEY                           81

    XVI. AMONG THE PRAIRIE FARMS                         86

   XVII. BACK TO REGINA                                  93

  XVIII. AN INDIAN RESERVE                               98

    XIX. HEADED FOR HOME                                100

     XX. SOME PRESENT-DAY NEEDS OF THE PRAIRIE          104

  APPENDIX                                              112



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  MAP OF THE CANADIAN DOMINION IN DIOCESES    _Frontispiece_

  THE CARAVAN AND HER CREW }
                           }
  THE INTERIOR OF THE VAN  }               _Facing page_  28
                           }
  TIDYING UP               }
                           }
  A SHACK ON THE MOVE      }

  DIGGING OUT THE WHEEL                    }
                                           }
  THE TENT, AND MY ASSISTANTS AT LOREBURN  }
                                           }
  HOUSEHOLD TASKS                          }    "   "      48
                                           }
  MR. M. AND HIS MOTOR-CYCLE ON THE RAIL   }
    WAY TRACK                              }

  A PRAIRIE SCHOOL                      }
                                        }
  A MAPLE-LEAF TEACHER AND HER PUPILS   }
                                        }
  PRAIRIE SCHOLARS                      }       "   "      71
                                        }
  A YOUNG HERDSMAN                      }
                                        }
  THE AVENUE AT BANFF, ALBERTA          }

  LAKE LOUISE                       }
                                    }
  LUMBER ON THE BOW RIVER           }
                                    }
  SLINGING HAY INTO THE BARN        }           "   "      80
                                    }
  THE CHURCH ON THE INDIAN RESERVE  }



  ACROSS THE PRAIRIE IN A MOTOR CARAVAN


  CHAPTER I

  THE CALL OF THE PRAIRIE


The diocese of Qu'Appelle, in the province of Saskatchewan, Western
Canada, is so named from the Indian story which tells of the maiden who
lay dying, calling piteously for her lover. He, far off in his canoe on
the Saskatchewan River, suddenly heard a voice, and answered:
"Qu'Appelle." The voice came again, and then he knew it for that of his
beloved, and made all speed to her side. But, alas! when he reached her
she was dead.

_Qu'Appelle_ is a suggestive title and indicative of the call which so
many have heard from the prairie provinces, a twofold call, urging some
to earthly and some to spiritual husbandry. Some account of the Western
Canada of to-day may be useful here.

The exigencies of life on the prairie tend to make men think rather of
building greater barns than of that day when their souls shall be
required of them. When a man with little capital takes up a prairie
"section" he is gambling with fortune, the welfare of his nearest and
dearest being at stake. At the same time it is a worthy venture, a
response to the age-old command to till the earth and subdue it; and it
is often the only way whereby a man may become his own master, a
landowner, and one who, in developing the treasures of the earth, adds
materially to the well-being of his fellows. For the wheat from the
prairies of Western Canada is the hardest and finest in the world.

The prospective settler buys a section (640 acres), a half or a quarter
section, as the case may be, and, helped by a loan from the Government
for the purchase of implements, ploughs and sows the virgin soil,
building a shack for himself and his family. The first three years are
touch and go. Drought in early summer or torrential storms in harvest
will effectually ruin the crops, but when once a good crop is raised the
profit is very satisfactory. The perils of drought and storm, however,
always remain, though with increasing capital the risk is lessened. The
life is one long wrestling-bout--man's brain and muscle pitted against
the forces of nature; but when he is victorious the reward is great.

It is a virile country peopled with virile men (for only the strong can
"make good" out there). But these men have already realised that man
cannot live by bread alone. Close to nature, man feels the presence of
God. The wide sweep of the prairie, enamelled with a thousand flowers or
gilded with the ripened corn; the vast dome of the sky; the glorious
sunsets and awful storms--all make men conscious of the power and might
and majesty of the Supreme Being. So that beneath the feverish search
for wealth there is a deep, if unrealised, thirst for the things of God.

But many of these sheep have been for years without a shepherd, and such
knowledge of religion as they once possessed has been choked by the
cares of this world; and their children--the men and women of the future
on whom so much depends--are growing up in many places without any
religious teaching at all. One result of this state of things is that
there is no Christian public opinion on which to start this new country.
It is even said that it is not unusual to hear men boast: "We cheat
others before they cheat us."

Another terrible result is that, unrestrained by spiritual forces, the
animal instincts have gained the upper hand and immorality is rife. In
the _Bulletin of Social Service in Saskatchewan_ for June 1, 1920,
under the heading: "Some Measures Urgently Needed," No. 10 runs: "Higher
standards in our laws regarding sex offences. Ours are the lowest in the
Empire, due to the Senate's repeated rejection of amending measures."

A disintegrating factor in the religious and moral life of Western
Canada is no doubt to be found in the mixture of races and the resultant
intermarriages. Almost every race and sect is represented. There are
about eighty different religions, including many eccentric and obscure
sects such as "Daniel's Band," "Doukhobors," and "Holy Rollers."
According to the census of 1916 the Christian churches in Saskatchewan
are numerically strong in the following order: Presbyterian, Roman
Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Greek Church, Baptist. The
proportion of Anglicans has probably increased since then.

In 1910 the Archbishop of Rupertsland appealed to the Archbishops of
Canterbury and York to send out clergy to attend to the needs of the
numerous British settlers who were pouring into the country. (Between
1900 and 1920 one million two hundred and fifty thousand persons have
emigrated from Great Britain to Canada.) The Archbishops' Western Canada
Fund was the answer to this appeal. The cause interested me extremely,
and I became one of the collectors for the diocese of Carlisle. This
diocese raised £3,000 and built St. Cuthbert's Hostel in Regina, and
later raised another £1,000 towards the £50,000 needed for the endowment
of the Western Canada missions.

Three missions were started by the Fund in Edmonton, Southern Alberta,
and Saskatchewan respectively, but we are only concerned with the
latter. In this province many small towns had sprung up owing to the
great influx of immigrants (mostly British) and to the rapid railway
construction, while the surrounding prairie was dotted with isolated
farms and hamlets. It was with the special needs of these people that
the Regina Railway Mission had to deal. Accordingly, several clergy and
laymen went out from England, made the hostel at Regina their
headquarters, and visited the surrounding country. They lived in
one-roomed shacks, doing their own "chores," and often driving about
eighty miles on a Sunday in order to take four services a day. They
returned to the hostel once a quarter for spiritual refreshment, rest,
and discussion of their work with the head of the Mission and with each
other.

Meanwhile, a pioneer movement was on foot in the Old Country. At St.
Christopher's College, Blackheath, a specialised training in the matter
and method of religious education had been inaugurated for women
prepared to undertake this branch of social service. I was asked to
become Diocesan Sunday School Organiser for the diocese of Carlisle, and
went to train at St. Christopher's in 1914. There I met Miss Aylmer
Bosanquet and Miss Nona Clarke, and was naturally very interested to
find that these new acquaintances were anxious to go out to Regina and
do Sunday-school work in connection with the Railway Mission. A firm
friendship resulted from this common interest.

Aylmer Bosanquet's plan was to go out with Nona Clarke and live on the
prairie, working amongst the children and supplementing the work of the
clergy in any other possible way. She proposed to finance the expedition
entirely herself. At first the Secretary for the Archbishops' Western
Canada Fund was very dubious about accepting her generous offer, having
been out in Canada himself, and knowing that life in a prairie shack is
exceedingly hard for gently nurtured women. But Aylmer Bosanquet was so
urgent that at last she won the day, and she and Nona Clarke went out to
Regina in 1915. They established themselves at Kenaston, where they
lived in a three-roomed shack and did all their own work, even to the
grooming of the buggy horses.

The women missioners went up to Regina once a quarter, when the clergy
and laymen met to discuss their work. They brought valuable
contributions to the matter in hand. They had found great ignorance
amongst the children, some of whom did not even know the Lord's Prayer.
At their first Christmas they found several children who had never heard
of the birth of Christ. All that the holy season meant to them was
contained in the nursery legend of Father Christmas.

This ignorance is largely due to there being no Scripture teaching in
the public elementary schools, although there is a clause in the
Saskatchewan Education Act which says that the last half-hour of every
day may be given to Scripture teaching if the trustees are agreed.
Unfortunately, they seldom do agree in this matter, as they usually
belong to different religious bodies. Nor is there any religious
teaching in the collegiate schools (which correspond with English high
schools), even in Regina, the capital of the province. The following
answer was given by a collegiate girl in a secular examination: "When
William the Conqueror went to England he found no code of laws, and so
he drew up the Ten Commandments."

After about four years of strenuous work, Aylmer Bosanquet fell ill, and
was obliged to go into a nursing home at Toronto for a serious
operation. In the quiet time of convalescence her thoughts were busy
with the work so dear to her, and she began to consider the problem of
the many children in the enormous diocese of Qu'Appelle, who had no
Sunday school, and who could not be reached by rail or buggy from the
existing centres. She felt that the future of the Anglican Church in
Canada depended upon the religious training of these children, and an
idea came to her whereby these isolated places might be reached. Her
plan was that trained women should go out on to the prairie, two and
two, in caravans during the season when the trails are passable. They
would gather the children together and start Sunday schools, training
teachers to carry them on. In the winter they would return to some
central town, whence they would keep in touch with the quite isolated
children by means of the Sunday School by post. They would also lecture
locally and give demonstration lessons.

Many of these trained women would be needed if all the children on the
prairie were to be reached. It would be necessary at first to recruit
from England, but later it might be possible to develop a movement
already started, but which had had to be temporarily abandoned for lack
of a suitable head--namely, a training college for the Dominion of
Canada on the lines of St. Christopher's, Blackheath.

Aylmer Bosanquet wrote to me describing her new plan. She was very
anxious to see it in operation, for the diocese of Qu'Appelle alone
covers 92,000 square miles (about twice the size of England), and two
women, though with the best will in the world, could do comparatively
little in that immense area.

The project of caravanning on the prairie in the interests of religious
education appealed to me very strongly, and as Aylmer Bosanquet soon
afterwards came home to England to recuperate, we were able to discuss
the matter together. Her idea was to have a horse caravan which should
be moved on from place to place by the farmers. But as I have lived all
my life in an agricultural district, I knew the difficulties consequent
on wanting the use of farm horses in seed-time and harvest--the very
seasons when the trails are open--and I also knew that horses could
never cover the necessary distances. In my own diocesan work, which took
me to little out-of-the-way villages among the fells of Cumberland and
Westmorland, I had found it necessary to use a car, and I therefore felt
it would be best to have a motor caravan.

It would be worse than useless to take a motor-car on to the rough
prairie trails unless one had had long driving experience and done a
considerable amount of running repairs. To learn to drive one year and
to go out the next would probably mean finding yourself in a tight
corner. As I had been allowed to use our cars throughout the War, in
connection with my Sunday school work and a V.A.D. hospital, I had
fortunately gained a good deal of practical experience, especially as it
was necessary to drive in all weathers, day and night, over the steep
hills of the Lake District. When these hills were covered in ice your
car would run backwards or skid and come down sideways, and these
happenings were a useful preparation for the steep, sandy banks of the
trail, where the wheels could not grip. Then, too, as our chauffeur was
called up and mechanics were scarce, we had to do our own repairs.

The diocese having consented to my being absent for six months, I found
a substitute to carry on my work, and began my preparations for the
prairie tour.



  CHAPTER II

  PREPARATIONS AND DEPARTURE


The first idea was to buy one of the Red Cross motor ambulances then
being sold off in London, but transport difficulties made it impossible
to take one across. Meanwhile Aylmer Bosanquet, having returned to
Canada, found that the Saskatchewan Bible Society had a Ford caravan in
which a man could live and sleep, travelling about the province with
Bibles. Also, Archdeacon Burgett, the Diocesan Missioner for Qu'Appelle,
was having a Ford caravan built for two of his mission clergy. She sent
me details of these vans, and I asked her to order me a similar one, the
interior fittings to be decided upon when I came out in the spring.

The next thing to do was to find a fellow-worker for the tour; and this
was by no means easy, for she must not only have been trained at St.
Christopher's and be physically strong, but she must be prepared to pay
her own expenses, there being as yet no fund to finance the venture.
Fortunately, however, an experienced ex-student, Miss Winifred
Ticehurst, offered to go. She had trained at St. Christopher's soon
after its foundation, and had since had considerable experience in
Sunday-school and parish work.

Then came the difficulty of getting passages and passports. These would
never have been granted had we not been able to prove that we were going
out to work. After the trials consequent on a visit to Cook's agent the
following incident in the current _Punch_ seemed peculiarly apposite.
Scene: The office of a travel bureau. Clerk (helping nervous-looking
lady to fill up form): "And the address of the nearest relation to whom
the body may be sent if found dead?"

I intended to travel via New York, in order to visit some cousins. I had
heard of the fame of the U.S.A. Sunday-schools, and wished to see some
of them. I also hoped to meet Dr. Gardner, the Secretary of the
Executive Committee of the Department of Religious Education for the
American Episcopal Church. It was therefore necessary to get my passport
visaed at the American Consulate, and on presenting the customary letter
of recommendation from a clergyman I was much amused when the clerk eyed
me suspiciously and remarked: "A letter from a clergyman is nothing to
go by. They are so easily taken in."

The question of equipment had taken considerable thought, and the result
seems worth setting down, in view of its possible service to others. The
chief items were: a motorist's 1919 tent with bamboo poles,
sleeping-bags, a double Primus stove and a Tommy cooker, a ferrostate
flask and two thermos flasks, canvas buckets, clothes both for winter
and summer (landworkers' suits for driving the caravan, which,
unfortunately, the Canadians regarded as displaying an undue amount of
"limb"!). Then, for use in the prairie schools, sets of Nelson's
pictures and Sunday School Institute models (given me by the Girls'
Diocesan Association for Carlisle diocese), and a case of books of
graded lesson courses and a quantity of postcard pictures of "The Hope
of the World" and "The New Epiphany." A tip from an experienced
traveller proved most useful. This was to fasten the packing-cases with
bands of tin nailed on, instead of with ropes, as the latter frequently
break when the cases are swung aboard ship, scattering the contents on
deck.

In February, 1920, we embarked at Liverpool for New York. Winifred
Ticehurst was to meet me at the boat, and my feelings may be imagined as
the time drew on, the friends seeing me off had to leave, and still no
fellow-traveller appeared. At last, five minutes before they raised the
gangway, she ran up, breathless. Her passport had not been dated in
London, and they had sent her back from the boat to get it dated at the
American Consulate in Liverpool. It was an ill-omened opening for her
voyage, which proved one of great discomfort, as she was more or less
ill for a week. She managed to write descriptive letters, all the same,
and the following extract is a vivid portrait of our fellow-travellers
(we went second-class to save expense).

"The young men and maidens . . . sit about on one another's laps, and
the correct way to get ready for lunch is, when you hear the gong, to
part yourself from your companion, pull a comb out of your pocket and do
your hair--then you are ready."

I did not suffer from sea-sickness myself, and never missed a meal.
Indeed, the waiters seemed greatly intrigued at my appetite, and I
fancy, from the way they pressed the various courses, that they were
betting on how much I could eat!

A day or two before we reached New York there was a horrid orgy on
board. Knowing that they were entering a "dry" country, many of the
passengers got drunk, shouting and raging all night long, so that one
could not sleep. On the prairie I afterwards found other ill-effects of
prohibition--the smuggling of spirits and excessive drug-taking, the
latter chiefly amongst women. Before passing such laws it surely would
have been advisable to have created a stronger public opinion to support
them. Otherwise there is danger of finding two evils in the place of
one.

On the other hand, future generations should benefit greatly by this
measure, however imperfectly it now works. It seems improbable that the
health and industrial prosperity of non-prohibition countries will equal
those of "dry" countries.

The day before we entered New York we got into the end of a blizzard.
There was a tremendously high sea, and we moved very little that day. We
received a wireless message from a ship just out of a Canadian port
which had struck a rock in the storm, but we were too far off to go to
her assistance.

Our stay in New York proved to be an amazing and exhilarating
experience. The palatial manner in which, in a private house, one is
assigned one's own "compartments," would have satisfied Mr. Salteena;
and the restaurants are a paradise for the discerning palate. A brief
but thorough experience of American luxury in a great city was, from its
very contrast, a fitting prelude to the rough life of the prairie. You
get a more complete picture with strongly-drawn lights and shades.



  CHAPTER III

  RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN THE U.S.A. AND CANADA


There is a very remarkable system of religious education in New York,
Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, and many other cities. The entire
educational work of the Church in the United States is under the
direction of the Department of Religious Education of the National
Council (called in the United States "The Presiding Bishop and
Council"). The Department of Education has several divisions:
Theological Seminaries, Church Boarding Schools (the same as Public
Schools in England), Church Sunday Schools, Week-day Schools, work among
students in State Universities, Pageantry, etc.

All Church School teachers are urged to go to Normal Schools. These are
successfully operated in New York City, Boston, Detroit, and Cleveland.
The teacher attends the Normal School once a month and receives
instruction from an expert in Child Study, Psychology, and Methods, and
also has an opportunity to discuss the outlines and illustrations for
the four lessons which are to be taught the following month. The lesson
material is from the Christian Nurture Series. This Series is a most
up-to-date graded course for children from four to seventeen years of
age.

Week-day schools are provided for children who are excused from the
public schools (that is, the great schools supported entirely by State
funds) for one hour or more each week for religious instruction under
the Church of his parents' affiliation. These schools stand for the
co-operation of the Church and State in the education of the child. The
State does not technically release the child for religious instruction,
but honours the request of the parent and excuses the child for extra
educational work desired by the parent.

It is realised in America that religious education cannot be successful
without the co-operation of the parents, therefore the Christian Nurture
Series provides a "Monthly Letter to Parents" to be forwarded regularly
by the teacher. These letters explain clearly what is required for the
preparation of each Sunday's lesson during the week. Social gatherings
are also arranged for the parents from time to time, at which an address
is given bearing upon the importance of the religious training of the
child, and calculated to enlist parental interest and co-operation.

An interesting example of the practical application of these principles
was afforded by a visit to what we should call in England an "upper
class" Sunday School. I had already met the superintendent, Miss Warren,
and she had explained one most interesting feature of her
system--namely, that each month she held a staff meeting of parents and
teachers to discuss the lesson, the children, and the school. In each
department of the school there was a superintendent; a grade leader who
ensured a continual supply of teachers (absentees having to send in
their names to her beforehand); a teacher and an assistant teacher for
each class, the latter being there to learn her art; and a pupil teacher
to hear the memory work. Some of the teachers received a salary, and all
the children paid a small entrance fee. These fees, however, did not
suffice for expenses, owing to the very good apparatus in use, but the
deficit was made up by the church.

A conspicuous feature of the school was a large diagram which hung near
the superintendent's table. It consisted of five rings: the small
central circle represented "Parish and Home," the next ring "Community,"
the next "Diocese," the next "Nation," and the outer ring "The World."
At the end of the session an appeal was made by the secretary each
Sunday for one of the above "fields of service," which took the form of
a stirring address on the need for supporting the work. The secretaries
were always some of the elder pupils, and their appeals were remarkably
well expressed for such young persons. After the address the secretaries
of each class were asked to vote a sum of money for the cause, which
they did after discussion with their class-mates. The school had a
choir of girls led by a talented musician, and they all united to teach
the children hymns.

Miss Warren took me to see Dr. Gardner, and, considering the excellence
of the system at which the American religious educationist aims, it was
encouraging to find him taking great interest in the proposed caravan
tour. He even went so far as to ask for details of the plan, and to
request that an account might be sent to him for publication. On the
appearance of this article he appealed for volunteers and money in order
to start a similar campaign on the plains of the U.S.A., where no
religious instruction was at present provided for the children.

After ten days in New York, we went on to stay with friends in Toronto.
Here we took the opportunity of inquiring into the methods of, and
opportunities for, religious education in Canada. We were greatly helped
in this by an introduction to the Rev. Dr. Hiltz, General Secretary of
the General Board of Religious Education for the Church of England in
the Dominion of Canada. The following is a summary of the information
given by him or gleaned from other sources.

Under the British North America Act of 1867 the right to legislate on
matters respecting education was reserved exclusively to the Provincial
Legislatures subject to the maintenance of the rights and privileges of
the denominational and separate schools as existing at the time of the
union or admission of provinces to the union.

This gave to the Roman Catholics in the Province of Ontario the right to
have separate schools, and to the Protestants in the Province of Quebec
a similar right. In other provinces of the Dominion, with the exception
of Saskatchewan and Alberta, however, separate public schools have no
legal standing. The right to have separate schools in the Provinces of
Alberta and Saskatchewan was conceded to these provinces when they were
admitted to the Dominion.

So far as religious education in the public schools in Canada is
concerned, the following brief summary will give some idea of the
situation and at the same time strongly emphasise the need.

In _Nova Scotia_ the matter is largely in the hands of the local
authorities. So long as no one objects, religious instruction may be
given in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the supporters of
the school.

In _New Brunswick_ schools _may_ be opened with the reading of Scripture
and the use of the Lord's Prayer, but as this regulation is permissive
only, everything depends upon the individual teacher.

In _Prince Edward Island_ the reading of the Bible at the opening of
school is authorised.

In _Quebec_ in the Protestant schools the first half-hour of each day is
devoted to religious exercises and instruction in morals and Scripture.

In _Ontario_ the public school _must_ be opened with the reading of
Scripture and the repeating of the Lord's Prayer, or the prayer
authorised by the Department. Religious instruction may be given by the
clergyman to the pupils of his denomination once a week after school
hours.

In _Manitoba_ ministers of the various religious communions have the
right to go into the schools at 3.30 once a week and give the children
religious instruction.

In _Saskatchewan_ and _Alberta_ the School Board may permit religious
instruction to be given during the last half-hour of the day, and may
direct that the school be opened with the recitation of the Lord's
Prayer.

In _British Columbia_ no provision is made for religious instruction,
but the Lord's Prayer may be used in opening and closing the school.

In most large towns and many villages of the Dominion of Canada there
are well-organised Sunday schools. Some of the dioceses have in the past
had Diocesan Sunday School Organisers. The Diocese of Rupert's Land was
a pioneer in this direction, and the Dioceses of Toronto and Huron have
also had such officials. The City of Ottawa for several years had a
resident Anglican Sunday School Organiser, an ex-student of St.
Christopher's College.

The religious educational work of the Church in Canada is organised
under the General Synod, the General Board of Religious Education being
the officially appointed body for the promotion of this work. It began
as a Sunday School Commission in 1908, but in 1918 was enlarged to a
Board of Religious Education.

Its work falls into five departments, namely:

1. _The Department of Parochial Education._

  This department concerns itself with:

  (_a_) Religious education through the agency of the home.

  (_b_) Religious education through the agency of the Sunday School.

  (_c_) Religious education through the agency of Adult Bible Classes and
  Young People's organisations.

2. _The Department of Religious Education in Public and Private
Schools._

  This department concerns itself with religious education in public and
  high schools and in church boarding schools.

3. _The Department of Teacher Training._

  This department concerns itself with:

  (_a_) The training of teachers and officers in the local Sunday School.

  (_b_) Teacher training in church boarding schools.

  (_c_) Training for leadership in provincial normal schools.

  (_d_) The training of students in our theological colleges in religious
  pedagogy.

4. _The Lantern Slide Department._

  This department concerns itself with the promotion of educational work
  through the medium of the lantern in all branches of the Church's
  activities.

5. _The Editorial Department._

  This department concerns itself with the providing of suitable material
  for use in the promotion of religious education through the other
  departments, including the preparation and publication of the necessary
  lesson helps for teachers and pupils.

In connection with the work of the Parochial Department, an interesting
attempt has been made to reach the people in the scattered districts
through what is known as "The Sunday School by Post." This is
practically the only way in which isolated families can be helped who
are too far away to make attendance at Sunday school possible, and too
few in numbers to support a school of their own. This Sunday School by
Post sends out monthly and weekly graded lesson helps, each lesson
having its own illustrations, questions, memory work, prayers, and Bible
readings for each week. The parents are asked to see that the child has
ample opportunity to do the written work, and this is returned to the
Diocesan Secretary for the Sunday School by Post for examination and
correction.

Sunday School by Post secretaries are now working in the Dioceses of
Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, Calgary, Edmonton, and Athabasca, and, now
that the General Board of Religious Education has a western field
secretary at work, in the person of the Rev. W. Simpson, it is hoped
that other dioceses may be led to establish work similar to this to
reach the church people in the more distant settlements.

Without some such help as this the parents usually find it impossible to
give their children religious instruction. They have little time for
thought or study, and have frequently forgotten what they once knew. But
their interest is very keen when roused, as the following incident
proves. In one of the public schools, during the history hour, the
teacher read part of the story of Joseph, but not having time to read
the whole of it promised to finish it next day. One child, thrilled by
the story and impatient for the end, went home and asked his parents if
they could finish it for him. "Joseph!" they said, "Joseph! Surely we
have heard that name somewhere." At last they remembered that it was a
biblical name. A long search finally revealed the Bible, dusty from long
neglect, and a further search discovered the story, which was read with
intense interest by parents and child alike. When the latter went to
school next day he proudly told his class-mates how the fascinating
adventure ended.

In connection with the Parochial Department, much is also being done for
the training of boys and girls of the "teen" age. With a view to meeting
the needs of these young people, a Council on Boys' Work, a Council on
Girls' Work, and a Council on Young People's Work have been formed,
whose chief task it is to prepare and issue definite programmes of
mid-week activities for organised groups of older boys and girls and
young people. The plan which is largely followed is that known as the
fourfold plan, the aim being to develop these adolescents physically,
intellectually, socially, and spiritually. The programmes are of such a
character that they can be worked out through any type of organisation
desired, whether it is with an organised class in Sunday School, a Boy
Scout or Girl Guide Troop, Trail Rangers, Tuxis Square, or Anglican
Young People's Association.

The publication work of the Board is extensive, lesson courses and
helps, both for teachers and pupils, being provided for all departments
from the little beginners to the adult Bible classes. These constitute
the official lesson schemes of the Church of England in Canada, and are
used in the great majority of the schools.

A very effective piece of work is being done by the Teacher Training
Department, which not only provides courses of training for teacher
training classes in the local parish, but has also made provision for
definite teacher training work to be carried on amongst the Anglican
students in attendance at the Normal Schools in the provinces of Ontario
and Quebec. In addition to this, definite courses of training are
provided for the students in attendance at the Church of England
Deaconess and Missionary Training School in Toronto, and in the various
theological colleges of the Church of England. In five of these latter,
the General Secretary of the Board of Religious Education lectures
regularly.

Another important channel for the promotion of teacher training work is
that provided through Summer Schools, which are held regularly at
strategic centres from the Maritime Provinces to British Columbia. These
schools are conducted under the auspices of the three Boards of the
Church--namely, the Missionary Society, the Board of Religious
Education, and the Council for Social Service.

Dr. Hiltz kindly showed interest in our caravan project, and said that
if it proved possible of accomplishment he would like a report of the
work at the end of the season. He remarked that there was great need for
work of the kind.



  CHAPTER IV

  LIFE IN A LITTLE PRAIRIE TOWN


We had arranged to work at Regina until the season was sufficiently
advanced for us to take the road, but before leaving Toronto I heard
that my caravan was not yet begun. This was exceedingly worrying, as it
was now the middle of March, and I wished to start on the prairie by May
1, when the trails should be open. I had only six months' leave from my
diocese, and was anxious to make the most of it, and now it seemed as if
the whole plan would be spoilt by this delay over the caravan. I
determined to stop at Winnipeg on my way to Regina in order to see about
the matter, and to bring what influence I could to bear upon the
coach-building firm. As a member of the Victoria League,[1] I had an
introduction to a Daughter of the Empire at Winnipeg, and I wrote and
asked her to use her influence in getting my order for the caravan put
through without further delay. Then, arming myself with a letter from an
official of the Royal Bank of Canada, stating that I was to be relied
upon to carry out my business transactions, I had a "stop-over" for
Winnipeg put on our tickets, and on arrival in that town went straight
to the coachbuilder's office. The Daughter of the Empire had telephoned
to the firm, and this, with the official's letter, had the desired
effect. The manager was most civil and obliging, and promised to do
everything in his power to carry out the contract. To my surprise I
found that the order for the caravan had never been received, the firm
through which it had been given never having transmitted it. When I
pressed for a promise that the van should be finished by May 1, adding
that otherwise I should not pay for it, the manager, knowing that I came
from the land of labour troubles, said, with a twinkle in his eye: "Yes,
if there isn't a strike."

I spent some hours in attending to the details of the van, and then we
went on to Regina by the night train, arriving there next morning. The
clergy of the Railway Mission gave us hospitality at first, then
Winifred Ticehurst went to work in St. Peter's parish, and lived at the
vicarage, and I went to St. Mary's parish, and lived in lodgings.

Soon after I arrived in Regina Aylmer Bosanquet asked me to go out to
her at Kenaston for a week-end. I was thankful that I was going to make
my cross-country journeys by caravan when I found that it was no unusual
thing for the trains in Western Canada to be three hours late in
starting. This was so much a matter of course that a
fellow-traveller--one of the Railway Mission clergy, who was going up to
Kenaston to take service on the Sunday--telephoned to the station from
the Mission-house before attempting to catch the train. These automatic
telephones were a feature of every house in Regina, and were also
installed in all parish halls and public buildings. The person using
them could switch on to the desired number without calling up through
the Exchange.

It was a five hours' journey to Kenaston, which is a typical prairie
town--just a wide earth road, with wooden side-walks, and bordered on
either side by wooden shacks. Even in Regina all but the main streets
are of this unpaved earth, and when the snow is melting or after heavy
rain this earth turns into thick and sticky mud (called "gumbo"), which
cakes on your boots in lumps of incredible hardness, so that you often
find yourself walking with one foot higher than the other. It is so hard
that it can only be scraped off with a knife. Of course one has to clean
one's own boots, unless one is near a "Shoe-shine Parlour" in some
large town.

Kenaston is surrounded by illimitable prairie, across which one can see
for twenty or thirty miles. When I first saw it the prairie was covered
with snow, stained crimson in the West by the red glow of the setting
sun. An unforgettable sight.

The town has a lumber-yard and several elevators, both of which are
found in every town situated close to the "track"--_i.e._, the railway.
The lumber (trees sawn into boards) is sent down from British Columbia
and other parts for building shacks, etc., there being no timber trees
on the prairie. The elevator is a high granary for storing the wheat
till it is sent away by train.

Small as the place is there are three churches--Anglican, Roman
Catholic, and Evangelical Lutheran. In many places there is a "Union"
Church and Sunday school. This is a sort of co-operative Nonconformity,
the ministers of the different denominations officiating alternately.
Presbyterians have united in this matter with the other non-episcopal
sects. The plan has been adopted to economise in men and money; but its
weak point seems to be that, as the ministers have to please all
denominations, the teaching is apt to become wishy-washy. A possible
alternative occurred to me--namely, that all the religious bodies of a
given area should combine to build a church, which could then be used
for their own special services at different hours. But, of course, this
plan would not economise in men.

Aylmer Bosanquet's shack had three rooms, all on the ground floor, with
a veranda reached by steps. All the wooden houses have a basement
beneath them, dug out of the earth and concreted. This helps to keep the
houses dry and warm, and in the larger ones the furnace for the central
heating is placed here. A stove going night and day is absolutely
essential in the winter, as it is often forty or fifty degrees below
zero. But the cold is not felt as severely as might be expected because
of the dry, sunny atmosphere.

Life in a shack was a distinct contrast from life in New York. My
hostesses slept together in a bed 2½ feet wide in order to accommodate
their guest. In the dark of the wintry morning, about 7 a.m., I roused
up sleepily to find Aylmer Bosanquet bringing me hot water, herself
fully dressed and armed with logs, just going out to light the stove in
the church, so that it might be warm when the people came at eight
o'clock.

St. Colomba's was a typical prairie church, square built, without a
chancel, the plainness of the walls only accentuating the richness of
the altar furnishings. The walls were hung with framed Nelson pictures,
which lent beauty and atmosphere to the church, and suggested meditation
on holy things to all who entered. Most of the pictures were Aylmer
Bosanquet's gifts, and the little wooden font, with its brass basin, was
given by the Sunday School children. The splendid attendance at Holy
Communion and Morning Prayer showed that the adornment of the church was
the expression of a real love for religion. The hearty way in which the
congregation joined in the services was very striking. Their mutual
friendliness also was pleasant to see, and gave point to the usual
greeting: "Pleased to meet you!" murmured in broken English even by the
Chinese member of the congregation, a phrase which left me at a loss for
a suitable reply until I hit upon the plan of always saying it first.

Preparation for the afternoon Sunday School was somewhat hampered by the
necessity for cooking lunch at the same time, and the peas got burnt
while the sand-tray was being prepared. At this unpropitious moment Mr.
G., the Mission clergyman, looked in to smoke a surreptitious pipe,
removed from the disapproving gaze of his flock, who have no sympathy
with this form of self-indulgence on the part of their spiritual
pastors. Unfortunately, in peas versus tobacco, peas won, and with a
discerning sniff Mr. G. remarked: "You seem to be having very strange
food." Which was the more disconcerting as the shack owners had more
than once been reproved for their carelessness of their own comfort.

This first experience of a prairie Sunday School was indicative of the
problems to be faced. It was held perforce in the church, a necessity
with which I was familiar in my little schools on the fells. There were
only sixteen children at Kenaston, their ages ranging from two to
seventeen, so that the grading of lessons and devotions was difficult.
The intelligence and interest displayed by these children were very
remarkable. They did credit to the excellent teaching they had received.

The women missioners had classes in three other places, and held
preparation classes for young teachers, thus training up a supply of
teachers from among the young girls of the neighbourhood. The influence
of the missioners' lives on these young girls was very wonderful.

On the Sunday evening there was no service at Kenaston because Mr. G.
had gone on to take one elsewhere, so we went round to visit the parents
and children. It was noticeable how beloved the missioners were. With
some of the old people they held an informal service, which was greatly
appreciated.

Aylmer and Nona intended to go out on the prairie that summer, in a
different direction from that which I should take, of course, as we
wanted to cover as much ground as possible. Aylmer had ordered a Ford
roadster, which is a two-seater Ford with a folding camp-equipment
attached. This caravanning was a subject of enthralling interest to both
of us.

Life in a shack is a very busy one, but one soon got used to the
inevitable chores, and remembered to keep the pan of melting snow on the
stove always filled, this being the only water available for washing up.
The shortage of water is one of the great trials of prairie life. When I
remembered Aylmer's house in England, with its well-trained servants,
her car and chauffeur, and all the luxuries to which she had always been
accustomed, it emphasised all the more strongly the self-sacrifice of
her present life.

On the Monday morning I wanted to telephone to Regina, and as my hostess
said they were always allowed to use a neighbour's telephone, I took
advantage of this neighbourly kindness. Whilst waiting for the long
distance call I remembered that mutual assistance is the custom of the
West, and helped to make the beds and sweep the house. It was about
mid-day before I had finished with the telephone, and so I was pressed
to stay for dinner. No newcomer is a stranger in that hospitable
country. They were Yorkshire people and seemed delighted to meet another
North Country person.

It was a typical West Canadian meal. It began with boiled Indian corn
served with white sauce, then meat and potatoes, and then delicious
canned fruit served with iced layer cake, the whole accompanied by
strong tea. It is difficult to do as Rome does until you know what Rome
does do, and with agony the guest realised that she had nothing
wherewith to eat the canned fruit before her, having been too engrossed
in conversation to notice the removal of her knife, fork, and spoon.
Like Chinese chop-sticks, these should have been retained throughout the
meal. The scarcity of water necessitates these little economies.

[Footnote 1: An organisation started in memory of Queen Victoria to bind
together the members of the Empire.]



  CHAPTER V

  IN REGINA


Within the last twenty years Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, has
grown from a colony of wooden huts to a town of over 26,000 inhabitants.
Government House and the Parliament Buildings are finely built of stone,
but most of the houses are of wood, there being no quarries on the
prairie. One not infrequently meets one of these wooden houses moving
along the streets--a fascinating accomplishment. When you wish to live
in another part of the town you simply have your house lifted on to
wooden blocks and skids, and it is then moved bodily with a windlass
turned by horses or machinery. One day I went house-hunting quite
literally, chasing my elusive quarry from street to street with a
camera.

We stayed in Regina for eight weeks, giving lectures and holding
demonstration classes. We were invited to visit parents and teachers,
which we were very glad to do, as by this means we became acquainted
with most interesting people, and saw how life is lived in this part of
the world.

There are four Anglican churches in Regina, St. Paul's having a splendid
parish hall. But Anglicanism only comes fourth in numbers and wealth
here, as it does in Western Canada as a whole. The Presbyterians are the
most numerous, and have a fine church with a conspicuous tower.
Methodism is also very strong. The Roman Catholics have built a
beautiful cathedral on the highest part of the town, with two fine
spires which form a landmark for miles around. Underneath the cathedral
is a large parish hall with rooms for various purposes, and this economy
of space allows room for two tennis-courts in the cathedral grounds.

A large piece of ground has been acquired for the site of the Anglican
cathedral, but this has not yet been begun, because it was thought
better, whilst funds were low, to build the theological college and the
girls' school first. Aylmer Bosanquet gave £1,000 to start this
school,[2] a project in which she took great interest. It is under the
management of the Anglican sisters of St. John the Divine. It supplies a
long-felt want, being the only Anglican Church boarding school in this
part of the West. It has now taken over St. Chad's College, which was
originally built for divinity students, but as their numbers were
greatly depleted by the War, St. Cuthbert's Hostel is now large enough
for their needs. Unfortunately, in many cases the children's schooling
depends upon the crops. Only comparatively well-to-do parents are able
to send their children regularly. Before they have made their way, or
when the crops fail, they have to depend upon the public schools. To
help such parents several bursaries have been given, but others are
needed.

After my week-end at Kenaston I settled down to work in Regina until the
trails were ready. My vicar made arrangements for me to lodge with a
charming family--a Mr. and Mrs. W. and their two daughters. They had
come out from England about twenty years before, and the girls were
thorough Canadians and very delightful creatures. Mrs. W. made me feel
like one of the family, and mothered me in countless ways. She taught me
how to use the Canadian washing-machine, a thing not unlike a churn. You
wash the clothes simply by turning a handle--so many times for white
things and so many times for coloured. She also showed me how to iron my
blouses, and, above all, helped me to buy the equipment for the caravan.
Her advice here was invaluable, as she not only knew the best "stores"
and what a thing ought to cost, but she also interpreted Canadian
terminology, such as "coal oil" for paraffin, "wood alcohol" for
methylated spirits, and "gasolene" for petrol.

Mr. W. was equally helpful, and I soon came to regard him as an
encyclopedia of useful information, especially with regard to practical
business matters. Having lived on the prairie, he also gave me many
valuable tips about prairie life.

The girls were members of the choir, and one was a Sunday School
teacher, and by meeting their friends and going about with them I gained
an insight into the life of young Canada. Pretty faces, very smart
clothes, instant friendliness, swiftness in uptake, a keen interest in
work and play, and a worthy ambition are some of the characteristics of
these young people. The "movies" and ice-cream play a large part in
their lives. The girls usually marry very young and have a large circle
of admirers from whom to choose. Winifred Ticehurst sketched them as
follows in one of her letters: "Choir girls, mortar boards and tassels,
most chic; surplices and cassocks, curls each side of mortar
boards . . . white Eton collars like little boys."

One of the social activities which interested me very much was the
Canadian Girls in Training, organised by the Council on Girls' Work.
They gave a banquet while I was in Regina, and one of the W. girls asked
me to go as her "mother," it being the custom for each of them to invite
a parent or some older person. I was much struck by the excellent
speeches made by the girls. They explained the object of the
organisation, and gracefully thanked all those who had helped towards
its success.

Another very interesting social gathering which I attended was a
reception given by the Daughters of the Empire in the Parliament
Buildings. I had received introductions to all the members of this
association living in any of the towns where I was likely to go. The
President thought that it would be interesting for us to meet the
members who were coming in from all parts of Saskatchewan, and who might
help us on the caravan tour. We were also introduced to Premier Martin,
who was then Minister of Education for Saskatchewan. He gave a most
interesting address on the rural schools, and after hearing about our
project promised to give us introductions to the day school teachers in
the places we hoped to visit.

Further official encouragement resulted from an introduction to the
Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Richard Lake. He welcomed me as a compatriot,
as he had been educated at Heversham Grammar School, in Westmorland. We
had an interesting talk on prairie trails and motoring, and the need for
religious education in the day schools. He was strongly in favour of
this, and expressed regret for the continual opposition to it.

The Daughters of the Empire sent the editor of a Regina newspaper to
interview me. She questioned me on what I had done during the War, the
reason for our coming out, and the places we intended to visit. The
result was an embarrassingly flattering article in the local paper,
which was copied by the _Saskatchewan Star_. A few weeks later the
following notice appeared in another paper: "Bachelors, beware! Two
women are going in a caravan on the prairie. This is Leap Year!"

In Regina I met some very nice girls who had come out under the
Fellowship of the Maple Leaf.[3] They had come to teach in the prairie
schools, and a good many were now in training at the Normal School. I
gave a tea-party for them, and they told me a good deal about their
work, and in return showed great interest in our caravan scheme. Those
of them who were going out to the prairie that summer said that they
hoped we would visit them. I was very glad of this opportunity of
explaining our hopes and aims to these teachers, for I knew it had been
suggested that they should help with religious education, either by
starting Sunday Schools or by giving instruction after school hours
during the week. I foresaw that our great difficulty would be to make
our work permanent in districts where there were no clergy, and I
realised the enormous value of the help of these trained women. They
would already have some knowledge of teaching methods, and some
acquaintance with the Bible and Church doctrine. It would be a simple
matter to show them how to apply psychological methods to religious
education, and, helped with lesson courses and pictures, they could
easily carry on any Sunday Schools we might be able to start in their
neighbourhood.

We did not talk shop all the time; the "green Englishwomen" were put
through a severe catechism on Canadian as it is spoken. But the W.
family having instructed me carefully, I came off better than might have
been expected.

I saw a good deal of the deaconess in charge of the Maple Leafs. She
found them comfortable lodgings, and befriended them in every possible
way. She asked us to look up any of them whom we came across in the
out-of-the-way prairie schools. Her only way of visiting was by train,
and some of these schools were far from any "track." She was very kind
to us and helped us in many ways.

Whilst I was in Regina I had to plan out the organisation of the caravan
tour. I was given the names of a large number of places to visit and the
routes we were to follow, but no names of the clergy in the different
"districts" (parishes). I had no idea how far apart these places were,
or how long it would take to get from place to place in the caravan. I
therefore got a map and worked out the mileage between the places. On
the earth trails outside Regina I had often seen motor-cars stuck in
mud-holes, and I had noticed the deep ruts of these unmetalled roads, so
I concluded that we could not make more than ten miles an hour at most
in the caravan. On these two calculations I based the mileage we might
hope to cover.

When at last I obtained the names of the clergy on my proposed route, I
found that there were large areas in which there were no Anglican
clergymen at all. I then wrote to the clergy, and, lacking these, the
leading laity when I could find their names. In some cases this was
impossible until I neared their district. In these letters I made the
following suggestions. We should like to come and stay a week in their
locality, living and sleeping in the caravan and doing our own cooking
(I wished to make it clear that we should not be burdensome), but we
should be glad to receive invitations and hospitality at times in order
to get to know the people. Where there was a Sunday School in existence,
we proposed to superintend the school and teach, while the teachers
watched. Where there was no Sunday School, we should like to have the
children gathered together to form one. In this case we hoped that
prospective teachers would come to be shown how to teach, that they
might carry on the school when we had started it, helped by the books
and pictures which we proposed to leave them. We also requested the
trustees to allow us to give Scripture lessons in the day schools in the
half-hour allotted for that purpose, and also expressed our great desire
to meet the parents, that we might discuss with them the problems of
religious education.

I received most kind replies to these letters. The writers offered us a
hearty welcome, and said how pleased they would be to have people coming
out to them, for, as a rule, they had little help in these matters,
beyond an invitation to a summer school just when the harvest was in
full swing.

I should add here what I had been most careful to explain--namely, that
we were given diocesan authority for our work by Archdeacon Dobie, D.D.,
who was acting as Commissary for the Bishop owing to the latter's
breakdown through overwork, and by Archdeacon Burgett, the Chairman of
the Sunday School Diocesan Association, who was also Diocesan
Missioner.

[Footnote 2: The Qu'Appelle Diocesan Boarding School for Girls.]

[Footnote 3: See Appendix I.]



  CHAPTER VI

  THE MOTOR CARAVAN


Whilst in Regina waiting for the caravan to be ready for the road I took
steps to be ready for the van. I had never driven a Ford, but Aylmer
Bosanquet's Ford roadster arrived whilst I was in Regina, and she
allowed me to have lessons on it. It was quite easy to drive, and on the
second day I took it out alone. I also went to a motor school and had a
course of lessons on Ford running repairs and vulcanising tyres. The
head man was exceedingly nice, and took infinite pains to help me in
every way. I was the only woman in the shop, but there were a great many
men learning motor-tractor work preparatory to working on the prairie
farms. Most of them had been in the army. They took a most embarrassing
interest in me and my future plans, putting me through the usual
catechism, with the inevitable leading question: "Are you married?" They
seemed to think it was not fit for two women to go out alone on the
prairie, as in Western Canada women hardly ever drive outside the towns,
and never do their own running repairs--and seldom even oil their
engines, judging from the sound.

On May 1 I heard that the caravan was ready, but, unfortunately, the
trails were not yet open. However, spring comes suddenly on the prairie.
On May 2 there was a blizzard of snow, and on May 5 it was like an
English midsummer day. Archdeacon Burgett advised us not to fetch our
caravan until his clergy had arrived at Regina with theirs, as they
could then tell us what the trails were like. They came in on the
Saturday, May 8, having had a very rough time with snow-drifts and
mud-holes. They had bent their back lamp and damaged a rear mudguard. I
noticed that they had no shock absorbers, which accounted for a good
deal of the damage. They gave us a book with directions and maps of the
blazed trail between Winnipeg and Regina, and gave us a lurid
description of the perils of the way, apparently wishing to dissuade us
from what they considered a mad attempt. But as I had mapped out the
caravan itinerary with but little margin, I did not wish to lose any
time in getting off, so Winifred Ticehurst and I started for Winnipeg
late on Sunday evening (after working pretty hard all day). We took a
blanket or two and a little spirit lamp and saucepan as our sole camping
equipment. The parish hall, in which our sleeping-bags, etc., were
stored, was locked, and the caretaker had gone to church.

[Illustration: THE CARAVAN AND HER CREW

(W. M. T. LEFT, F. H. E. H. RIGHT)]

[Illustration: THE INTERIOR OF THE VAN]

  _To face p. 28_

[Illustration: TIDYING UP (see page 54)]

[Illustration: A SHACK ON THE MOVE (see page 22)]

We arrived at Winnipeg at 11.30 a.m. on Monday, and went straight to the
coachbuilder's. The manager showed us the caravan, which was all ready
for the road, except that they had not put non-skid tyres on the rear as
ordered. I pointed this out, and the manager said that the mistake had
been made by the Ford Company, but he would send the car down to have it
put right in the morning. We had expected to start that afternoon, but
were told that the car had not yet been passed by the Government
officials, who were going to register it as a commercial vehicle to
escape taxation. As it was a public holiday this could not be done until
next day.

The caravan was much like a tradesman's van in appearance. It was
painted black, with "Sunday School Mission, Anglican Church," lettered
in red and gold on one side. The driving seat could be completely closed
in when necessary, for, besides the wind-screen, there were half-glass
doors on either side, which in hot weather could be taken off and put
behind the mattresses. There were two doors at the back of the van,
which opened outwards. As the side doors had their catches inside, when
we wished to leave the caravan we got out at the back and padlocked
these doors, thus making all secure. The back of the driving-seat was
hinged and folded forward at night, so that the six-foot mattresses
which were strapped back to the van sides during the day could come
down over it. Beneath one mattress was a wooden locker, and under the
other a wooden shelf with legs. There was also a shelf on one wall of
the van. When I got back to Regina, before starting out on the prairie,
I added further items, which the run from Winnipeg had shown to be
desirable. An electric bulb was fitted to the roof of the van, and a
reflecting glass put on the left side. I also got an inspection lamp for
use at night in case anything went wrong with the engine. This could be
attached to the electric current which supplied the bulb. We racked our
brains to think of some means of keeping the things on the shelf, and
finally nailed on wire netting, which we hooked to the roof. This proved
very effective, but so great was the jar that the dancing pots and pans
wore it out from time to time. We made a bag to hold our tidiest
clothes, and blue cotton covers for the mattresses and a bag to keep our
pillows clean. We also nailed linoleum on the floor of the van, because
dust and draughts came through cracks in the wood-work, and this made
the floor easy to keep clean.

The caravan had a Ford chassis with electric starter and head lights. I
had heard that for the rough prairie trails nothing could beat a Ford
engine. Only a car with a high clearance is of any use on these earth
roads, and whereas a heavy car would stick in a mud-hole the light Ford
can get through. Then again, even little "towns" which are nothing more
than hamlets stock Ford spare parts, both in garages and in the ordinary
"hardware stores"--_i.e._, iron-mongers. I had had two extra petrol
tanks put on the foot-board, each holding 8½ gallons, so that we could
carry 25 gallons in all. The tool box, also, was on the foot-board, so
the spare tyre had to be strapped inside the caravan above the driving
seat. We had very strong shock absorbers to prevent the body smashing
the back axle and springs when we went through very deep holes, and
sub-radius rods to strengthen the steering-rod and front axle. I carried
three spare tubes as I had not remountable rims, and a pyrene
extinguisher fixed inside the car in case of fire through damage to the
petrol tanks on the rough trails.

I fitted out the caravan in the light of what I had learnt about the
prairie from the Regina Railway Mission clergy lecturing in England, and
from books on the subject. From these sources I knew something about the
condition of the roads and the storms one might expect. This was why I
insisted on having a caravan rather than a Ford roadster, for though the
lightness of the latter would enable it to get through a mud-hole where
a caravan might stick, I guessed that a prairie thunderstorm with its
terrific winds and torrential rains would sweep away the tent and hood
of the roadster like straws, leaving the occupants homeless.

As we could not get away that day we were obliged to find lodgings for
the night, and had not the least idea where to go. I would have asked
hospitality from the Daughter of the Empire to whom I had an
introduction, but we did not care to present ourselves to a stranger in
our travel-stained condition, and we had brought no evening clothes with
us. Winifred suggested that we should try to find a Y.W.C.A., which we
did. The head received us very kindly, and gave us cheap and comfortable
accommodation. Had we not been so tired we might have attended a concert
in their concert-hall.

Next morning we went to a store which sold camping outfits and bought
several things, in particular a cunning arrangement of aluminium cooking
utensils which fitted neatly into a canvas bag. Canadians make a
speciality of this kind of thing, as people often camp out when on a
shooting or fishing expedition. I also had to get several extra tools
for the car, as very few were provided with it. Whilst I did this
Winifred went off to buy food.

When I went to fetch the caravan I found that a mechanic was just about
to take it to the Ford Company to have the non-skid tyres put on, so I
accompanied him. I noticed that it was not easy to drive in traffic, you
could not see out of the back, and as yet it had no reflecting glass.
The engine was very stiff as it had just come out of the assembly shop
and had not been run, so it was difficult to steer and to regulate the
speed. Also it swung a good deal as the body was very long, and the
shock absorbers helped to make it swing. Though Main Street, Winnipeg,
is much wider than Oxford Street, it also contains much more traffic,
including trams, so it was not surprising that we nearly ran into a
motor bicycle and other vehicles. Then the pyrene extinguisher fell out,
and I had to rescue it from under the nose of a tram.

Seeing what Winnipeg traffic was like, and how stiff the engine was, and
also not knowing the way out of the town, I thought of the suggestion
made by the Regina motor school, where I had learnt Ford running
repairs. This was that I should ask a mechanic of their Winnipeg branch
to look over the engine and see if it were rightly adjusted, and then
take us out of Winnipeg. Leaving the caravan at the Ford Company, I went
to find this firm. The address given to me proved to be a barber's shop.
This was rather disconcerting, but, on inquiring the way, I found that
it belonged to the same firm, and they directed me to the motor shops.
They sent a mechanic with me, but he seemed all the time to be in a
great hurry, and kept looking at his watch. I left him looking at the
engine while I went after something or other, and when I came back he
was gone. I then saw that I should have to take the van out of Winnipeg
myself, as they could not spare a mechanic from the Ford Company.

What must be must, so Winifred and I started off and drove into Main
Street, with its surging stream of trams and cars. The rule of the road
here is the opposite of the English rule, all cars having a left-hand
drive, so I thought it best to cross over to the right side of the
street. But just as I had turned across the tram-lines a policeman
stopped me, saying that I must cross further up at the regular
crossing-place. The engine, being stiff, stopped dead, and there we
were, right in the way of the trams. However, by the help of the
self-starter, I got it going again and tried to turn, but the
steering-wheel was so stiff that I nearly ran into the pavement. We went
on further up the street until we came to a red notice which marked the
crossing-place, but as I had to drive slowly through the traffic, the
engine kept stopping, so I turned into a side street, and with a good
deal of difficulty found my way out of the town. With every mile the
engine ran better, and after fifty miles it went quite easily.



  CHAPTER VII

  THE PRAIRIE TRAILS


The prairie trails are simply earth roads, it being impossible to get
stone for them. The very best trail is much like the worst cart road in
England. The trail is made by scooping out the earth on either side of a
wide track, and throwing it into the middle, where the clods are baked
as hard as bricks by the sun. These clods would knock the bottom out of
any car which had not a high clearance--the more so as a used trail has
ruts about two feet deep. Trail-making is usually done by a scoop drawn
by two horses, but in some places a kind of motor-plough is used. In dry
weather a simple track across the prairie made by carts and horses is
much easier going, but these tracks are impossible when the snow is
melting, or after the heavy thunderstorms of summer. Therefore all the
main trails have to be raised in the middle to let off the water, which
would otherwise stand till it formed sloughs. When once on the trail you
have to keep there, as it is either bordered by a three-foot bank whence
the earth was dug, or else it slopes straight into a slough. These
sloughs are like great ponds, their bottoms are covered with deep mud,
and if it once gets in, a car sinks deeper and deeper, and cannot be got
out. The sloughs are very beautiful, reflecting the wonderful blue of
the sky, or the marvellous colours of sunset. A prairie sunset is quite
beyond description. I have never seen such colours in England.

The flowers on the prairie are lovely, forming a changing kaleidoscope
of colour throughout the summer months. They border the trails and the
sloughs, and grow in riotous profusion on unbroken ground. When we first
took the trail I specially noticed a lovely little pale mauve anemone.

There are also many beautiful birds on the prairie, the most striking
being the red-winged blackbird--a very big blackbird with glinting red
feathers on the top of his wings. There was also a robin about twice the
size of his English cousin, and a yellow-breasted bird which sang a very
sweet little song, but never seemed to finish it. There were prairie
chickens of a greyish brown, wild duck and large snipe, and a sort of
water-hen.

The jack-rabbit was a very ubiquitous person, always jumping across the
trail. He is really a hare, greyish-brown in summer and white in winter.
Another local inhabitant who made his presence felt was the gopher,
which looks like a cross between a squirrel and a weasel. They make
their holes in the wheel-ruts of the trails, as we found by bumping
violently over their excavations. Badgers adopt the same inconvenient
habit, as we discovered to our cost when shot suddenly to the roof of
the caravan. Fortunately, they are not so common as gophers. The latter
do a great deal of damage to the wheat, so that the farmers are obliged
to poison them and the children are given so much per tail; consequently
I had little compunction in running over one occasionally when it sat up
in the middle of the trail just in front of the wheel. At first I
wondered why these beasties chose the trail for their burrows when they
had all the enormous prairie at their disposal, until it was explained
to me that the hard ground formed a better front door to their holes, as
in soft ground the soil would fall in.

We were interested in watching the farming operations en route. They
were disking and ploughing and sowing, generally driving six horses
abreast. The machines were immensely wide, too large to pass through our
widest gates, and it was a heavy alluvial soil, thus needing much
horse-power. We also saw a large number of motor tractors in use.

All the main trails are bordered with telephone poles, and a red blaze
on these poles indicates the way--_i.e._, an R or an L tells you when to
turn to the right or left. At least, it is supposed to tell you, but as
both letters are usually on the same side of the pole, it is up to you
to guess whether you turn to the right to go to Winnipeg or to Regina.
The matter is further complicated by the letters being made of paper on
some trails, in which case they are generally half torn off.

The trails, like the towns, are laid out in squares. In a town the
avenues run east and west and the streets north and south. On the trail,
when you are running north and south you find a trail running east and
west every two miles; and when you are running east and west you find a
trail going north and south every mile. But this arrangement is
complicated as you draw near to the Arctic Circle, because as the trails
are laid out in squares, these squares grow narrower in this direction
and so an extra trail, called a correction line, is added at intervals.
Also now and again an old Indian trail upsets one's calculations. You
never talk of right and left on the prairie, but always of the points of
the compass, and these points form the first lesson which a child
learns. Yet the actual compass is of no use on these rough roads, as it
gets out of order. One learns to steer by the sun and stars.

It is useless to ask for directions, you will merely be told "Go five
miles north, and three miles east and one mile south and four miles
west, and then look for the elevator at So-and-So. Ye can't miss it."
But you can miss it, very easily. Again, you are often told that a place
is "quite close" and find it to be at least five miles away.

There are no landmarks on these trails, except the elevators in the
towns near the track. The sections are marked by a small heap of stones
at their corners. There is scarcely a fence on the prairie, there being
no stock to speak of and no wood at hand for posts. There are also no
sign-posts or danger signals, and for lack of the latter we had a narrow
escape of finishing our tour before it had well begun. Soon after we
left Winnipeg, running through the main street of a little town, we
suddenly saw a great C.P.R. train cross the road in front of us with no
warning whatever. Had we been a minute or two sooner we must have been
killed. It is no unusual thing for the track to cross the trail, but in
this instance the houses prevented us from seeing the approach of the
train.

Meeting another car was an awkward matter as it meant climbing out of
the ruts and running with one wheel in the gutter. Sometimes, in trying
to avoid a mud hole or something, we ran at such an angle that I only
kept my seat by clinging to the steering-wheel, and how Winifred kept
hers is a mystery. Straw and sand are sometimes thrown into these mud
holes, in a vain endeavour to fill them up. When stuck fast in one it
was little consolation to be told that it was probably an old buffalo
wallow.

This is how Winifred described the trail in one of her letters: "The
road was long, the ruts were deep, the sloughs were lined with mud. The
road was narrow, and on each side those watery sloughs did gleam with
tempting sunset gleams of cherry, pink and gold, a warm, warm glow. They
said 'Oh, guide your car into our gleams and spend the night with us.'"



  CHAPTER VIII

  FROM WINNIPEG TO REGINA


The first night we camped near a farmhouse so as to be able to get
water. We did this whenever it was possible. Going to bed in a caravan
proved to be an acquired art. First we had to put all the camping
equipment, etc., either in front of the driving seat or outside the van
covered over with a waterproof sheet (there was always a very heavy dew
at night); then we let down the mattresses and arranged the bedding.
Next came the difficulty of undressing, there being barely 12 inches
between the mattresses when they were let down. We could not make a
dressing-room of the prairie because we generally camped near a farm,
and anyhow the clarity of the atmosphere and the flat ground made one
visible from a long distance. This first night we sat on our mattresses
and wriggled out of our clothes, there being no room in the van to stand
upright. Afterwards we adopted the plan of going to bed one by one. We
put up the tent for a second room whenever we stayed long enough in a
place to make it worth while. We had been obliged to do this trip
without our sleeping-bags, and so were very cold at night, as the
temperature then falls very low even in the summer. You really need a
sleeping-bag as well as blankets on the prairie. Our excellent health
throughout the tour was probably largely due to our precautions in this
matter. My sleeping-bag had already done much service, having been lent
me by a cousin who had used it on the French and Italian fronts, and my
mosquito net was a loan from a padre who had served at Salonica. This
preserved me from much discomfort and blood-poisoning, as later in the
summer the mosquitoes were very ferocious, especially to us newcomers.

We started on our tour with a due regard for appearances, both of us
armed with travelling looking-glasses. But these soon got smashed in our
bumpy progress, and henceforth we contented ourselves with tidying our
hair from our shadows cast on the ground or our reflections in the
wind-screen, or, Hyacinth-like, gazed fondly into the sloughs.

I turned out first in the morning, as I was going to cook the breakfast,
and found it decidedly cold. When I went to the farm for milk and eggs
the nice woman would not let me pay for them. We found great generosity
wherever we went. We had brought sufficient water from Winnipeg in the
ferrostate flask for tea, but this was too precious to use for washing
up, so we had our first experience of getting water out of a prairie
well. This shortage of water and the expense of boring very deep wells
is one of the farmers' great trials. In certain places you have to go
down forty feet for water. If there is no gasolene engine or windmill it
has to be drawn up with a bucket and rope. This is by no means easy, the
problem being to prevent the bucket from floating empty on the surface
of the water. To avoid this you have to swing the bucket so that it
falls in sideways and fills itself, but if you are not very careful when
drawing it up it will sway violently and spill half the contents. On
this first occasion, having proudly drawn up my water, I essayed to take
it away in our canvas bucket, but not knowing the habits of the latter
it turned over just as I had got it filled. Afterwards I circumvented
it by weighting it with a stone or propping it up.

When at last we were all ready to start, the engine unfortunately
wasn't. I thought that the sparking plugs had probably got damp with the
heavy dew, or had got oily, so I took them out and cleaned them and also
cleaned the carburetter. In the meantime Winifred went off to the
neighbouring town to fetch help from a garage, but they were all too
busy with motor tractors to come. Presently two farm men came and talked
to me and helped to undo screws, but did not seem to know much about a
car. The small boy from the farm saved the situation by his cheerful
chatter. He kept telling me that the radiator was like a letter-box.

At last I got the car to start, and then it went very well. The trail
was very sandy, bordered with coarse grass and prickly scrub, and there
were hills at intervals. The car skidded badly in the sand, and once
swung round broadside on up a bank, and nearly turned over. We had to
cut down some of the thorny bushes in order to get it out without
damaging the headlights. We had not gone much further before the car
stuck in the sand again, going up a hill. Some men came by in a car and
advised me to tighten the gear pedal, which I did. New cars need
continual adjustment at first, of course. When we had done about fifty
miles I thought that the engine smelt hot and found that the fan was not
working, so I screwed up the belt and it was all right for a time. We
passed through several towns that day, and stopped for the night near a
slough, outside Alexandra. For the first time we were hushed to sleep by
the "Canadian Band," as the frog chorus is called.

The next day was Ascension Day, and we hoped to reach some town in time
for a service, but difficulties beset us from the first. I had to get
some gasolene out of the side tanks, and this meant siphoning it, an
exceedingly unpleasant performance, no less than sucking it through a
tube to start the flow. Then the electric starter went wrong, and the
engine was terribly hard to crank, as the starting-handle had not been
used. At last we were off, but the trail was heavy with sand, and the
engine got very hot and presently stuck fast at a hill. I found that the
fan had gone wrong again, and took it down, and while trying to put it
right found that a nut had not been properly adjusted. A man came along
in a car and at once went to my aid. Then two more men came by and also
stopped to help, and when we had adjusted the fan they all three pushed
the van off and we went up the hill.

But our troubles were not over yet. An immense hole, about five feet
deep, yawned across our path as we topped the hill, and there was
nothing for it but to plunge through it and down the hill beyond. The
caravan swayed so violently that I expected every moment that we should
be upset, but it always righted itself just in time, though everything
on the shelves was hurled to the floor--a continual occurrence until we
put up the netting. The sand was so thick here that we got on to a grass
track beside the trail, hoping for better going, but this soon ended,
and we had to bump back on to the trail again. In so doing we stuck fast
in the ditch. By racing the engine I got her out, but we soon stuck fast
again, this time up to our axles in sand. After we had tried in vain for
an hour to get the car out, we gave it up and sat down by the roadside
to read the service for the day in our prayer-books. It was easy to
enter into the spirit of the festival out there on the wide prairie,
with its immense distances and glorious blue sky. We were about thirty
miles from any house.

After a time we started to dig out the wheels with our hands, but just
then two of the men who had helped us before came back along the trail.
"How many more times shall we have to help you two girls out of a hole?"
they cried, and with much good nature proceeded to assist us, until at
last, with reversing and pushing and putting our blankets under the
wheels, we got out. We had to go half a mile back and along another
trail, but at last reached Verdun. We only did twenty-seven miles that
day.

We didn't stick fast anywhere next day, but the trails were very bad,
and we were shaken to pieces. My arms became very stiff with the
vibration from the steering-wheel, and sometimes it was nearly knocked
out of my hands when a front wheel struck big clods. One had to hang on
like grim death. After a time, however, I quite got into the way of
driving in ruts. We stopped for the night at Wapallo, and were just
going to have supper when the vicar came along and saw our van,
whereupon he promptly took us home with him. His wife was most kind to
us, and at once supplied our greatest (and most obvious) need by
inviting us to wash. A real wash is a great treat on the prairie, where
water is so scarce. After supper we went to evensong in the pretty
little prairie church, near which we afterwards camped. We had done
ninety-two miles that day.

Next day, when we stopped at Medicine Hat for gasolene, a man came out
of a store close by, and, seeing the van, introduced himself as the
superintendent of the Anglican Sunday School there. He was most anxious
that we should stop over Sunday, but we thought it best to get to Regina
as soon as possible. As we neared the town we had a narrow escape from a
slough. Going into Regina there was a very bad turn, in negotiating
which the car swung round and one of the front wheels went into a muddy
ditch. By putting on the brake with great force, I managed to stop her
from plunging farther in. I think I was getting a little tired. We had
done 120 miles that day. Winifred went off to find help, but a big motor
lorry came along as I sat waiting with the car, and stopped at once,
seeing I was in difficulties. The driver called out that he would pull
me out if I had a rope. I always carried one, and with its aid he soon
towed me out backwards. When I thanked him he said: "You're Scotch,
aren't you? I was in a hospital in Scotland during the War, and the
nurses were so good to me that I'm glad to help any girls from the Old
Country."

Everyone seemed both pleased and surprised to see us back, though
unfeignedly astonished that one so "green" should have been able to
bring the car through alone. It is 412 miles from Winnipeg to
Regina--farther than from London to Glasgow. Far from being exhausted by
our adventures, we felt braced up by the glorious sunshine and
invigorating air of the prairie, and we did full justice to the feast of
welcome prepared. Folks were interested in the caravan, and various
remarks were made about it. Even to our fond eyes it could not be called
exactly beautiful, but it was rather cruel of Canon X. to observe: "Ah!
a Black Maria, I see."

On the Monday following, while I was in the midst of preparations for
our start that week, Nona Clarke rang me up to say that Aylmer Bosanquet
was very ill, and could I come at once to help to bring her into Regina.
I had about ten minutes in which to catch the train. Helped by kind Mrs.
W., I bundled a few things into a suit-case and ran. But I had to stop
at a drug-store to get some sort of stimulant for Aylmer, as Nona had
said that she seemed on the verge of a collapse. It is in a case like
this that prohibition is so inconvenient. I could get neither brandy nor
sal-volatile without a doctor's certificate--and yet I had often seen
people who did not _look_ ill produce a certificate and get the
stimulant they asked for. "Is there nothing you can give me?" I asked in
desperation, and the shopman handed me some kind of ammonia, saying that
was the only thing he could let me have. The bottle bore no directions,
and when I asked how one should take it, and whether the dose would be
about the same as sal-volatile, he replied indifferently: "Oh, yes, I
think so."

I just caught the train, which then steamed out of the station and
waited an hour at North Regina.

I found Aylmer very ill indeed, hardly able to speak, and without any of
those little comforts which mean so much in sickness. The shack was all
in disorder, too, as they were packing up to go on the prairie in the
Ford roadster. Although she was so weak and ill she was full of interest
in our work, and made me describe the journey from Winnipeg, but I soon
saw that conversation was too much for her. Nona telephoned to a doctor
in Regina, asking him to come out next day to see if the patient were
fit to travel, in which case he was to accompany her back by the next
train.

All that night a dust storm raged, succeeded next morning by torrential
rain. I went out to get milk and bread for breakfast, buying the latter
from the Christian Chinaman, who inquired anxiously for Aylmer, and
said, when I wished to pay for my purchase, "Eef it ees for de
missionarees you need not pay." Then there was the problem of how to get
the invalid to the station, as the shack was by this time surrounded
with a sea of black mud which no car could traverse. But Nona found a
man with a dray who promised to come if needed. The doctor's train was
so late that there was only a quarter of an hour between his arrival and
the departure of the return train. But he made a hasty examination, and
said that though she was very weak it would be better to take her into
Regina. It is so difficult to get nurses or medical attendance out on
the prairie.[4]

I dressed her with difficulty, and she lay on the bed while we all
combined to lift it bodily on to the dray. But the rain and wind were
still so strong that Nona had to kneel beside the bed holding on fast to
the rugs, while I held an umbrella over Aylmer's head. It was pathetic
to see the people waving good-bye from their houses as she passed, for
though they did not guess how ill she was, they knew that she was
leaving them, perhaps for ever. Arrived at Regina, we took her to the
Grey Nuns' hospital.

I had now only three days in which to complete our preparations if we
were to start on the date fixed, which it was necessary to do if we were
to fulfil our engagements. I went to see Aylmer as often as I could, and
of course drove the caravan up to the hospital for her to see from her
window. It grieved me very much (apart from my anxiety about her
illness) to think that she could now take no part in this adventure, the
idea of which was all her own. Indeed, this was to prove her only
glimpse of our van, in the details of which she would have revelled, for
before we returned from the prairie she had been ordered to British
Columbia and then on to California. I never saw her again.

[Footnote 4: See Appendix II.]



  CHAPTER IX

  SANDSTORMS AND SUNDAY SCHOOLS


We had arranged to start on Friday, May 21, and the day dawned
beautifully fine. I fetched the caravan round to the parish hall, where
our things were stored, and we loaded up. This was no easy task, for
unless you did it very carefully you could not get everything in. The
packages reached from floor to roof now that we were fully equipped.
Whilst we were busily engaged in this task we did not notice that the
weather had changed, but presently a great wind arose, and then an
ominous darkness blotted out the sun. We knew that that horror of
horrors, a fierce dust storm, was raging. It was a veritable blackness
that might be felt; and when we went to say good-bye to some Regina
friends they begged us not to start. One of them travelled for a firm,
and he assured us that no commercial traveller would venture out in such
a storm. It was bound to get worse and worse, he said, and he did his
best to dissuade us. But I had arranged to get to Buffalo Lake by
Sunday, and I had already been obliged to alter the date once owing to
the delay in getting the caravan, so I felt that I could not put them
off any more. If one delays for difficulties one will never do anything.
So we started.

The wind whipped and whistled around the caravan, and blew the earth in
great clouds over us, and formed huge drifts on the trail, which made
the car skid as on loose sand. It was distressing to remember that this
earth was full of newly-sown wheat. It was hard enough to see the way
when we started, though Winifred held the map and directed me; but after
sunset it was impossible to go on, as the headlights could not penetrate
the dense clouds of dust. However, we had gone a good distance, and
therefore decided to camp. Meanwhile our late host, at the urgent
instigation of his wife, was searching the trail for our mangled
remains.

The next morning was fine, and we started early; but quite soon we
struck sand, and after the storm of the day before it lay in drifts. I
tried to rush through at full speed, but with a tremendous skid the car
lurched sideways and stuck fast in a drift. We got out, and tried to
jack it up in order to wind rope round a wheel, as I had been told that
Parsons' chains are useless in sand. To crown our misery the wind now
began to blow hard, and we were almost blinded by the flying sand, which
stung our eyes cruelly. In the dust-storm of the previous day we were
spared this torture by the wind-screen and side-doors being kept shut.
But help was at hand. One after another six men in all stopped their
cars and came to our assistance. It was easier for them to get through
the sand-drifts than for us because their cars were so much lighter,
although a good deal of the caravan was made of a kind of stout
beaver-boarding to save weight, but this was counteracted by our camping
equipment, etc.

Our helpers pulled us out with great difficulty, and we continued on our
way through Moose Jaw. Towards evening we sighted Buffalo Lake church
and steered for it, expecting that the vicarage would be near by. But
before we reached it, in trying to negotiate a mud hole, we stuck fast
once more. A farmer ploughing near came to our aid, and fastened his
team to our rope. One of the trials of a mud hole was that when you got
out to adjust the rope, etc., your boots became thickly coated with
sticky mud, so that you could scarcely work your gear pedal. It was also
exceedingly difficult to drive the car close at the heels of restive
horses. They hated the noise of the engine, and were all ready to kick;
and when the car reached firm ground it rushed forward almost on to the
horses, and was only stopped by jamming on the brakes.

Thanks to this timely aid we reached our goal in good time to make camp.
But the wind was still blowing strong, and as I was cooking on the
Primus it suddenly burst into flames. Thinking the caravan in danger,
Winifred hastily threw earth on it--which put an effectual end to my
culinary efforts for that night. We made a fair meal on the food we had
with us, and just as we had finished a buggy came along with the vicar
and his family. They had been shopping in the neighbouring town. From
the van he guessed our identity, and came up to ask how we had managed
our cooking in this wind. We tactfully evaded this point, and assured
him that we had made a good meal. But we were not sorry when he said
that next day we must have meals at the vicarage.

The next day was Whit Sunday, and we were very glad to be where we could
have an early Celebration. So widely scattered is the population that
there was only one other worshipper besides ourselves. After breakfast
the vicar was going to take duty at a place about five miles away, so I
offered to drive him in the caravan as there was another dust storm
blowing up and he had nothing but an open buggy. As he was the first
vicar I had driven I determined not to disgrace myself by sticking on
the trail, and so went full tilt all the way and successfully ploughed
through the drifts. We skidded and swayed a good deal, but my passenger
seemed thoroughly to enjoy it. When we arrived, however, we found that
none of the congregation had cared to face the storm; we therefore did a
little visiting and returned home.

There was a regular weekly Sunday School here in which two of the
parents taught. It was brilliantly fine in the afternoon and the
children and their parents were all able to come. Car after car drove
up, until there was a long line of them. The children were most
beautifully dressed, with dainty white frocks and pretty hats. The
parents and the elder boys and girls were also extremely well turned
out. Indeed, it is one of the most striking features of prairie life
that, with all their heavy manual work, the people dress well when not
engaged in actual toil--a fine example of personal self-respect.

It was delightful to see this school, conducted by two of the mothers.
We longed to give professional assistance but hesitated to offer it, as
of course the idea of constructive criticism and demonstration lessons
was quite foreign to them. But an opportunity for the latter presented
itself when we gave round "Hope of the World" postcards and the children
began to ask questions about them, whereupon the mothers appealed to me
to give the explanation.

After the school there was a Family Service (characteristic of the
prairie) at which all are present, from the father to the infant in
arms. There were a great many baptisms, which made one think of
Whitsuntide in the early Church. A delightful feature of the service was
the freedom with which the children ran out to play when tired. I could
see them from the window jumping in and out of the cars. But when they
had worked off their superfluous energy they came back quietly to their
places.

After the service we were introduced to all the people, and one young
man remarked: "We thought your car was a motor ambulance and supposed
there'd been a scrap."

The fervour of these people, and their evident appreciation of the
services of the Church, made a strong impression on me. It was shown by
their coming long distances--twenty miles in some cases--after working
very hard for very long hours all the week.

In the evening I drove the vicar to another church for evensong. It was
coated so thickly with dust from the storm of the morning that we had to
clean it down before a service could be held.

Next morning the vicar showed us his stable, and we photographed his
special pride, a handsome colt which he had broken himself. We had had a
most delightful week-end, and were much cheered by our kind reception
from the vicar and his wife, and felt quite weak with laughter at the
former's amusing stories.

In the afternoon we started for Eyebrow, but did not get very far that
day, as we stuck in the mud and had to wait to be pulled out. We arrived
at Eyebrow next day, however, and went to see the layman in charge of
the mission. It had not been possible as yet to arrange for us to visit
any schools, so we decided to go on and spend some time here on our
return journey. They entertained us most hospitably to supper, and
allowed us to put our baggage in the church porch as it was raining in
torrents. We next made a two days' journey on to Riverhurst, and on
arrival went into a Chinaman's restaurant for supper. The food in these
restaurants is both good and cheap. A three-course dinner costs only
about one and eightpence in English money. As we were comfortably eating
our supper we were surprised and rather alarmed to see a district
policeman making straight for us. He put us through a searching
catechism. Who were we and where did we come from? A brother officer had
seen us and put him on our trail. We told him who we were and whose
authority was behind us, and after a few more questions he seemed
satisfied and left us to finish our supper in peace. We longed to know
what crimes he had mentally charged us with.

We found that there was a Union Sunday school at Riverhurst which all
the children attended, including the only Anglican children in the
place, four in number. It seemed hopeless to try to start a Sunday
School for these four, so we noted them for enrolment in the Sunday
School by Post, and went on towards Elbow.

We started in a dust storm, the unpleasantness of which custom cannot
stale. I took some photographs of it, however. Presently we thought that
we must have taken the wrong trail to Elbow, and so tried to turn on
what looked like firm grass, but the ground was soft underneath, and the
heavily-weighted car stuck fast, sinking in up to the axles. It was far
away from any sign of human habitation, and the recommendation of Dr.
Smiles seemed the only solution. So I started to dig out a wheel.
Suddenly a boy on a horse appeared as if by magic, and asked if we
wanted help, saying that he would go back to his father's farm for
horses, which sure enough he did, and handled them manfully. He fastened
his team to our rope, and I got into the car and started the engine.
Then followed the usual breathless moment when the car charged forward
on to the horses' heels. The boy then directed us to take a certain
trail, and after his recent display of prowess we naturally followed his
advice. But we soon found ourselves going up a very steep and narrow
track with a bank on one side and a sheer drop into a ravine on the
other, and with literally not an inch to spare on either side. On the
steepest part of this road the car stopped dead, and I had to keep my
foot hard down on the foot brake to prevent it slipping backwards. There
was nothing for it but to unload the heaviest things, and I could not
get out to help, as the car would then have run back. Winifred opened
the back doors so that I could see behind me, and I managed to get
safely down to the bottom of the hill, though it was exceedingly
difficult to back round the sharp corners. I then put on full speed and
rushed the car up, and at the top we loaded her again, thinking that the
worst was over. But as we went on we found the road was as narrow as
ever, with a very bad surface, big stones cropping out here and there. I
was driving, with one wheel low down in a rut and the other high up,
when the car again stopped at a steep bit, and I had to jam on the
brakes as before whilst Winifred unloaded. But when I tried to release
the brakes I found that the hand brake had jammed, and I could not get
out and hammer it free as the van would have run backwards when I
shifted it. At this crisis two men came along and helped us, and between
us we put the brake right and got the car to the top of the hill. This
was the only bad hill we had found and the only stony road. We
discovered afterwards that it was not the right trail for Elbow. The
town is so named because the Saskatchewan River runs in a elbow-like
curve through the ravine at the bottom of this hill, on the crest of
which the town is built.

We went on beyond Elbow to Loreburn, and camped near the vicarage for
the night. The vicar and his wife had only just arrived in the parish,
with a little baby of a month old. She looked hardly fit to cope with
all there was to do, but they insisted that we should come in to meals
with them. I was the more grateful for this as I had had a difference of
opinion with the spirit lamp, which blew up in my face and nearly
blinded me.

This was the first occasion on which we used the tent, and its erection
was something of a puzzle, as we had no sketch of the finished article,
and had never seen it in action. But by the time I had it all laid out,
and was wondering how I should put it up without help (Winifred having
gone to the vicarage), some boys appeared, and said that they knew all
about tents, and helped me splendidly. There was no difficulty about
finding the children at our stopping places, for the caravan drew them
like a magnet. We reversed Froebel's injunction--"Come let us live with
our children"--for the children invariably came and lived with us. On
occasions their company was so persistent as to be rather embarrassing.
One never knew at what moment the tent would be invaded by eager
visitors. They were most delightful children, extraordinarily
intelligent and full of practical wisdom. It was truly a case of
"development by self-activity." They freely offered assistance and
advice when they saw we were in need of either. It was a five-year-old
girl who noticed one evening that I had laid the potatoes outside the
caravan, and thoughtfully warned me: "I shouldn't leave those potatoes
out all night if I were you; the gophers will eat them."

[Illustration: DIGGING OUT THE WHEEL]

[Illustration: THE TENT, AND MY ASSISTANTS AT LOREBURN]

  _To face p. 48_

[Illustration: 1. & 2. HOUSEHOLD TASKS (see page 54)]

[Illustration: 3. MR. M. AND HIS MOTOR CYCLE ON THE RAILWAY TRACK
  (see page 63)]

On that first night at Loreburn we had torrents of rain, and next
morning the trails were deep in mud. But I had promised to drive the
vicar into Elbow, as he had no buggy as yet. We skidded violently from
side to side of the road all the way, and had more than one narrow
escape from a slough--I had horrid visions of a congregation waiting
indefinitely for a vicar hopelessly submerged. I put on the Parsons'
chains before making the return journey. This is a job one willingly
defers till it is unavoidable.

Despite the weather there were many people at church, so I was glad that
I had made the effort. These prairie services really were an
inspiration. In the afternoon I superintended the Sunday school, which
consisted as usual of children from six to sixteen. Winifred and I
divided the children into two classes, and the vicar and a teacher
listened to our teaching. The greatest difficulty, here as elsewhere,
was the grading of hymns and prayers. The best way seemed to be to open
with devotions suitable to the infants and then to let them go off to
another part of the church for their lesson while we had other prayers
and hymns for the elder ones, closing the school in a similar manner;
but if this made the session too long, we began with devotions suited to
the younger children and closed with those more suited to the elder.

After school there was the usual family service, at which I specially
noticed how well the organist played. We were afterwards invited to
supper with him and his wife, and were interested to find that they
used to live at Leeds and had sung at Morecambe Musical Festival.
Canadian meals are delicious, and we had a sumptuous supper--bacon and
eggs, layer cake and stewed fruit, and strong tea, very acceptable after
our sketchy caravan meals. After supper we had some good music, and the
organist told us some of his experiences as a prairie choir-master. His
choir showed talent, so he felt that they were capable of chanting the
psalms, and trained them to do so. He kept this as a pleasant surprise
for the congregation, and felt very proud of his pupils when they duly
acquitted themselves well. But the real surprise was his. Next day most
of the congregation waited upon him in a body and stated that they would
not attend church in future if such High Church practices were followed.

We had obtained permission from the trustees of the public school at
Loreburn to give religious instruction in school hours, as it was more
convenient for us. I took the upper division, children of twelve to
eighteen, and Winifred took the lower form, children of six to twelve,
it being a two-roomed school. (In these prairie schools the scholars
stay from six to eighteen.) The teachers were very nice. They showed
interest in our work and listened to our lessons. As I could give them
only one lesson, I wanted it to be one of permanent value, sufficiently
connected with their everyday experience to recur frequently to their
minds, so I spoke on the Union Jack, which floats over almost all of
these little schools. I began with the splendid work of Canada in the
War, and referred to the men of the widespread British Empire all united
under one flag, thus leading on to the unity of Christian soldiers and
telling the stories of the three saints whose crosses unite in the
British flag. (A further bond of empire now is the photograph of the
Prince of Wales, which is found everywhere in this neighbourhood since
his visit to Regina.)

After the lesson we gave each child a prayer card and a picture of the
"Hope of the World" or "The New Epiphany." It was very distressing to
find that only two or three of the thirty children present knew the
Lord's Prayer. Apropos of this a clergyman's wife told me how she had
asked a child, "Do you know _Our Father_?" and the child answered, "No,
but I know our grandfather."

The children seemed to hang on our words, listening with intense
eagerness to the lessons. "They listen to lessons here in this country
that they would never dream of attending to in the Old Country,"
Winifred wrote home. "One has no fear here of possibilities of
naughtiness either. They are good without being disciplined, not
restless like the children at home."

The intense hunger for knowledge holds these sturdy, open-air little
people in a trance of breathless interest. It was their desire rather
than our skill which exercised the spell, as we knew well.



  CHAPTER X

  ADVENTURES AND MISADVENTURES


It rained hard all next day, so I spent the time in making some things
for the caravan; in particular, a wire cage for the electric bulb, which
was always being knocked against and broken. One could never start
directly the rain ceased, the trails were too bad, and when we did take
the road on the following day we found a sea of mud. On the second day
we arrived at Outlook, and camped above the ferry. There was no resident
clergyman here, but a local lady did what she could for the spiritual
needs of the children, holding a very successful Sunday School in the
church, where she had arranged a beautiful "Children's Corner." A few
suitable pictures and simple printed prayers were pinned on the wall
within easy reach of kneeling children. They are encouraged to make this
spot their special oratory. This particular "Corner" was arranged near
the font, which seemed a specially suitable place for it. Unfortunately,
we were unable to meet this lady, as she was ill, but we went to see the
lay reader who took the services on Sunday.

After we had camped that night a young girl came to talk to us. She
explained that she was very unhappy and unsettled with regard to
religion. She had gone to the "Pentecostals," poor child, because she
was deaf, and could hear their loud declamations; but she had received
no sort of help from them. Her parents belonged to the Church of
England, but since they had been in Canada the younger children had not
been baptized. Presently the girl's mother joined us, and we made
friends at once and had "a good crack" when we each found that the other
came from Cumberland. She told me that she had been brought up a
Baptist, but had joined the Church of England. I urged her to prepare
her children for baptism herself, and have them baptized at the earliest
opportunity. This she promised to do.

Next day we had to cross the Saskatchewan River, no easy task from all
accounts. We had been regaled with hair-raising stories of how a man
drove his car too fast down the pier to the ferry boat, which had not
been linked up, and the car plunged into the river and was never seen
again. The same fate overtook a man who fell out of his boat when
mending the ferry cable. I was not quite at my best for this particular
undertaking, as I had one eye badly swollen from a mosquito bite through
forgetting to put on my net when sitting down to write a letter. There
were three ways of getting down the river bank to the ferry pier. One
road zig-zagged so sharply that the long caravan could not turn at the
bend, and the paling just there was so frail that had we run into it we
must have broken through and gone down a bank. The other road was strewn
with huge stones, so I eschewed roads altogether, and went down the
rough grass bank, swaying and bumping and almost overturning, but it
seemed the least perilous passage. I took the car down while Winifred
was on in front, looking for a better road, as there was no reason why
we should both be upset. A narrow road led on to the pier, which was a
long wooden structure built over the sand and mud of the river's edge.
The ferry, a wooden barge worked by a cable, was moored to the end of
it, and I drove on to it cautiously. The men working the ferry were
three Englishmen, who had served with the Canadian contingent, and they
hailed the van delightedly as a long-lost friend, at first thinking it
was an old motor ambulance from France. We took photos of them,
whereupon they begged that we would not exhibit them as "specimens of
the white heathen we met out there." "I felt indeed that we must look
missionaries of the fiercest type," was Winifred's comment on this
incident.

There was only one trail to Bounty, our next destination, so when we
came suddenly on a dreadful hole right across the path, with a bank on
either side of the road, there was nothing for it but to go on. I tried
to rush across, and suddenly felt an awful concussion. I was flung up
against the roof of the van and saw stars for the moment, but somehow or
other we got across. Then I went round to see what damage was done to
our baggage, etc., and found that a three-gallon tin of coal oil had
been flung up and had come down upside down. There it was, standing on
its cork. I next examined the engine, which seemed very odd. The gear
pedal had gone wrong and everything was crooked. Then I saw that the
bonnet was not fitting. I lifted it up and found that the whole engine
was two or three inches out of the straight. I saw that I could not put
things right myself, and so determined to try to reach the town.
Meanwhile, in this as in other mishaps, Winifred helped me enormously by
sitting calmly on the bank reading a novel. She never fussed or made
worrying exclamations, or hindered me by offering useless suggestions or
unwanted assistance. She never complained, either, under the most trying
circumstances, or made the slightest sound in those wild moments when we
were nearly thrown out of the van by the roughness of the road.

We were five miles from Bounty, but I found that I could get along on
low gear. A few miles farther on we came to another bad place, where the
conduit had fallen in, but we managed to crawl through somehow. I was
thankful to find a big garage at Bounty, with an efficient mechanic. He
and I examined the car and found that the frame was sprung three inches
on either side. He said that the body would have to be slung up and the
engine taken out and a new frame put in, and that this would take a week
to do. So we unloaded the van by the church, and took out the mattresses
also for use in the tent, and then left the poor invalid at the garage.

There are garages in every prairie town, even in what we should call
little villages, for in Saskatchewan there is a car for every two
people. These garages are well fitted up, and have all the latest
inventions. Outside all of them there is a petrol pump and a "Free Air"
cable for the convenience of passers-by. The latter has a gasolene
engine which pumps up the air, so that you can fill your tyres in a
second. No one thinks of using a hand-pump unless he has a burst right
out on the prairie.

We lived in the tent this week, with most of our baggage stored in the
church porch. As usual, the children helped us to arrange our things. I
had quite a holiday, with the caravan off my hands, but Winifred's
duties went on as usual. We had apportioned the work as follows: she was
to keep the interior of the van clean and do all the washing-up, whilst
I drove, cleaned the engine, did repairs, etc., and cooked. Winifred's
job was no sinecure. She hardly ever had much water for washing-up, so
she used to clean the horrid greasy dishes and things with paper and
then rinse them; and though I sometimes nearly threw her out of the van,
she in turn sometimes kept me out of it when she was having a thorough
clean up--a necessary evil after a muddy day or a dust-storm.

I wanted to telephone to Mr. W. at Regina, as he was holding my
insurance policy for the car, so I asked permission to do so from a
resident who had already greatly befriended us. When 'phoning I found it
very difficult to hear what Mr. W. said; it seemed as if all the
receivers were open. I was further distracted by hearing the owner of
the telephone remark to Winifred, as she gazed at my back, "Eh! isn't
she fat?" as who should say, "No wonder the frame was sprung!"

Next morning I walked to Conquest (six miles away) to interview the
secretary of the Municipal Council, as the inhabitants of Bounty thought
that the hole should have been attended to, and advised me to claim
damages. I failed to get any compensation, but Bounty benefited from our
misfortune, as the hole was immediately filled up. Calling at the
Conquest post-office for letters, the old postman remarked to me, "I
have heard all about your accident. You girls, you drive too fast." It
seemed that the entire district knew all the details, even to the cost
of the repairs. I now remembered having heard that a favourite winter
amusement on the prairie was to take down your receiver and listen to
the conversations along the line. Report said that a certain courtship
had in this way provided entertainment for the whole neighbourhood.



  CHAPTER XI

  SOME ASPECTS OF PRAIRIE LIFE


It was unfortunate that there was no Anglican Sunday School in this
place, where we had perforce to spend a week. There were very few
Anglicans there at all, but a great many Presbyterians and
Nonconformists, who united to form a Union church and Sunday School.
There was a very nice Anglican church, but most of the congregation
lived at farms some distance away, coming in for Sunday services, when
the vicar also came in from one of his other districts. He came to see
us on the Saturday night, and explained that on the morrow there would
be a United Family Service in the Anglican church, to which he was
inviting all the members of the Union church. He asked us to write out
and fix up notices about it. He also asked if we would give an address
after the service on the need for religious instruction for the
children.

Sunday was a very hot day, and with sinking hearts we realised that the
congregation would be arrayed in lovely summer clothes, and that it was
up to us not to discredit the Old Country. But it is difficult to look
one's best when caravanning, and even one of Paquin's frocks would lose
its bloom in a cotton bag, and the smartest hat would look dashed after
the three-gallon oil tin had collided with it. Personally, I felt that
my bravest efforts would be futile since Winifred's remark as we arose
that morning: "Let me look and see if you are as much a fright as you
were yesterday." When your nose and one eye have been entirely
remodelled by a mosquito bite you do not look your best, nor can you be
quite unselfconscious in public, and, alas! _I_ should have to give that
address, for Winifred had flatly refused.

Patience is required when attending prairie meetings. What with the
immense distances, varying clocks, and unexpected obstacles on the
trails it is difficult to get anywhere to time. In this case we waited
an hour for the organist, whose car had stuck in a mud hole. Winifred
rose to the occasion, and was just making her way to the organ when the
belated car was heard and the big bronzed young farmer hurried in.

The elders of the Union church preceded the vicar and his churchwardens
up the aisle. The service was a shortened form of evensong, interspersed
with many hymns. The sermon was a clear but non-controversial exposition
of the Apostles' Creed. It was remarkable to notice how the preacher
held the attention of all present, from the child of five to the old
lady with grey curls. One hoped that this united worship might pave the
way for union on Christian essentials, so that Christian teaching might
be agreed upon for the schools and a united stand made against
materialism and the many so-called Christian sects.

After service I was called upon to address the congregation. I had to
speak from before the altar rails, there being no other place from which
to command the congregation, except the pulpit, which I did not wish to
occupy. As there had been a fairly long service, and the church was very
full and very hot, I thought that a ten minutes' address would be
sufficient. So I spoke briefly on the importance of religious education,
leading up from the wonderful way in which Canadians had helped in the
War, to the need for their help in warfare against evil. Christian
soldiers must be trained, and a young country needs a Christian
foundation. It is extraordinarily easy to hold the attention of a
prairie congregation, and I was told afterward that they wished I had
gone on longer. It is indeed a preacher's paradise.

The vicar had to leave at once for his next service. He motored about
eighty miles each Sunday and took four services. But the rest of us held
a kind of social gathering outside the church, where we had
opportunities of studying the prairie fashions. Most of these gorgeous
garments are ordered by post from Timothy Eaton's store in Toronto. His
enormous illustrated catalogue is sent yearly to every house, and is
commonly called "The Prairie Bible." The children know it by heart, and
amuse themselves on winter evenings by cutting out and colouring the
fashion plates, with the embarrassing result that when they see a
neighbour in her new spring costume they remark, "Oh, Mrs. So-and-So's
new hat is on page 603, price so many dollars."

We had a washing-day on the Monday. When near a farm they allowed us to
take our blouses, etc., and wash them with their apparatus, as the
Chinks, who did our heavy washing, ruined the finer things.

On the Tuesday we went to Swanson by train (the trains only ran on
certain days in the week). This had been one of the centres of the
Railway Mission, and was worked with Birdview, but they had had no
services for about a year, owing to the scarcity of clergy, and they
felt the privation very much. The Railway Mission had now come to an
end, and there were no clergy to supply these districts. We went to see
the leading church people, with a view to taking Swanson on our return
journey if it seemed possible to start a Sunday School there. We were
told that there was no Sunday School of any kind thereabouts, and were
advised to go to the day school and beat up recruits, which we did with
great success. A farmer's wife promised to gather the people together
for us when we came again, so that we could hold a demonstration school
and a parents' meeting.

We wished to visit Birdview, but no train ran there that day. Our
friend Mrs. T., however, said that her son should drive us in a car. A
terrible sandstorm blew up, and we were almost blinded in the open car.
We realised once more the advantage of a caravan. Great drifts of sand
lay on the trail, and the car skidded from side to side, but we got
there. Mrs. T. had arranged by telephone that we were to stay the night
with a storekeeper and his wife. There were not many church people in
Birdview, so I wanted to go out to a little mission church in the centre
of outlying farms which used to be worked by the Railway Mission. The
only way to get there was by car, and the storekeeper thought that no
hired car would face the storm. But, happily, the wind dropped and the
sand subsided, and we found a car to take us. So the storekeeper's wife
and I started off.

We were now in one of the "dried out" areas. There are certain belts of
land in Saskatchewan which, when first taken up, nearly twenty years
ago, proved very fertile. But over-cultivation, though advised by the
Board of Agriculture in order to conserve the moisture, had rendered the
soil so fine that most of it had blown away. It had been of no great
depth to start with, and the sand below it had come to the surface, and
now blew in great drifts. As the wheat came up, the flying clouds of
sand cut it down, and even buried the scrub. Little vegetation was
visible, and what wheat there was the grasshoppers devoured. They were
enormous things, 3 inches long. They flew into the car with a great
"plop," and even jumped down my clothes. The farmers hereabouts were
ruined, and nobody would take their farms. They had not sufficient
capital to start again. Yet with all this they kept up their courage and
hoped for better days.

When we reached the little church we stuck fast in a big drift, but I
took the wheel while the man pushed, and at last we got out. We went on
to the leading farmer's, where they welcomed us warmly. They had had no
services there for a very long time. I explained that we should like to
visit the place on our way back if they would collect the people to meet
us. The farmer's wife expressed great delight at the idea. They had
been so long without a clergyman, and had so much appreciated services
when they had them. She found it very difficult, she said, to keep
Sunday when there was nothing to remind her of the day. They felt their
spiritual privation, especially now that their material troubles were so
great.

I noticed here, as in many other places, an almost conscience-stricken
look on the parents' faces when I mentioned the necessity of religious
instruction for the children. It was not that they did not wish their
children to be taught religious truths, but that they themselves were so
cruelly overworked that they had no time for the care and forethought
which the preparation of a lesson entails. When you work all the week
from 5 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. you are exceedingly tired on Sunday; and
yet there is still some necessary work to be done if you live on a farm.
But give these parents some idea of how and what to teach, with a
suitable book to follow and pictures to illustrate the subjects, and
they will do their very best, often making most excellent teachers. It
is in places like this that the Sunday School by Post helps so greatly,
especially in winter, when the children cannot attend a Sunday school at
a distance.

We returned to Birdview that night (sticking again in the sand-drift on
the way). Our kind host and hostess refused to let us pay for our
entertainment. We were continually receiving most generous hospitality
all the time we were on the prairie. We were never allowed to pay for
our milk and eggs at a farm, and we were invited to many meals, which
greatly helped our resources. We hardly liked to accept so much, knowing
as we did how badly off the farmers sometimes were. But we knew how hurt
they would have been had we refused. Their generosity was a great lesson
in almsgiving. They always treat all missionaries in this way.

We took the train to Conquest, and then had to walk to Bounty, a very
tiring six miles on the rough trail with the wind against us.
Unfortunately no car overtook us, for it is the invariable custom to
give pedestrians a lift. We went at once to the place where we had left
our tent, but no tent was to be seen. We inquired about it at a
neighbouring house, and a nice old man told us that the storm of the
previous night had smashed the pole and ripped up the canvas, whereupon
he had rescued it, otherwise it would now have been miles and miles away
across the prairie. We felt thankful that we had had a house over our
heads when this happened.

We were now homeless, tent and caravan both _hors de combat_. Many kind
people would have taken us in, but in a prairie shack, or even in most
of the smaller houses, there is seldom any accommodation for visitors,
especially women visitors. So I went round to beg an old broom-handle,
and with this I spliced the tent-pole. Then Winifred and I set to work
on the canvas, and managed to restore it to the semblance of a tent
cover. Early next morning another storm came on. We got up hurriedly and
took refuge in the church, for the tent showed signs of collapsing on
top of us.

That day we had been invited out to the B.'s farm. One of the Bounty
farmers drove us out there behind a spanking pair of horses which had
taken first prize at a show. A heavy thunderstorm came on and we were
asked to spend the night, an invitation which was gratefully accepted in
our shelterless circumstances. Mr. B. was a most interesting man. In
England he had been a coachman, and had come out about seventeen years
before with £8 in his pocket. He worked his way West, and took up a
half-section. When he had got a home together a girl from the Old
Country came out and married him. Now he had a splendid farm; the house
and farm-buildings were lit by electric-light. A feature of this farm,
as of all others, was the enormous barn. This is always much larger than
the house. The hay and grain are stored at the top and the stables are
below. On most large farms they keep at least twenty horses, besides
up-to-date and ingenious machinery.

This farmer felt very strongly on the subject of emigration. As he truly
said, in the Old Country he would probably have remained a coachman all
his life, and would have had nothing to leave his children. But it was
useless to come out to the prairie, he added, unless you were prepared
to work hard. He himself worked from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the
summer months. During the War he had been obliged to work his farm
single-handed. Both he and all the other prairie farmers had given large
gifts of wheat to England, and all the young farmers had enlisted in a
body directly war was declared, often travelling miles to the nearest
recruiting station.[5] In many cases their farms went to rack and ruin
whilst they were away, as there was no one else to work them. Large
numbers of them never returned.

The conversation at meal-time was most entertaining. Mr. B. used to
inquire if things were still the same in the Old Country, and if folks
still touched their hats and said "Sir"--this with a twinkle in his eye
as he looked at us. Of course, there are no class distinctions out West;
the very word is unknown. We agreed with our host that the fairest
measurement of mankind is to judge each one on his own merits. It is
quite certain that no one should come out here unless he can become what
is called "a good mixer." The following extract from one of Winifred's
letters is descriptive of the country: "The people . . . must have
pretty big minds to manage their own State, which is larger than the
British Isles. There is, and must always be, a stretching out in this
country, and it's a wide outlook for children . . . no appearances to
keep up, a natural existence, hard work, but suitable, and prospects for
children. . . . Canada is a leisurely place; no bustle. It is too large,
I think."

When we got back to Bounty we found that the caravan was ready, and we
joyfully fetched it from the garage and repacked it. Once again I felt
glad that ours was a van rather than a roadster. Though more difficult
to get along the trails it was a much more stable home. The wind is
perhaps the greatest trial of prairie life. It sweeps with unbroken
force over these wide spaces. Sometimes we had to go all day without hot
food or drink, as of course it was not safe to use a Primus stove in the
caravan or tent. At times even a trench would not keep off the wind, but
it usually dropped at night.

We regretfully bade farewell to the kind people of Bounty, feeling that
the town was well named, and went on to Rosetown. On the way we passed
through another dried-out area; our car and several others stuck in a
great sand-drift near a farmhouse, which was actually being submerged in
sand. We went to the house to ask for the help of a team of horses. A
young farmer and his sister lived there. The girl told us they were
"going to beat it," as nothing would grow, and the sand was up to the
lower windows of the house. She had just washed some clothes and hung
them up inside the house, and yet they were covered with sand. I was
much struck with her extraordinary cheerfulness in these trying
circumstances. This fine quality is characteristic of all Westerners.

The farmer pulled us out with his team, and we had no further trouble
that day.

[Footnote 5: Canada raised an army of 450,000, and it is estimated that
60 per cent. were members of the Church of England. The Canadian
casualties were 152,000.]



  CHAPTER XII

  MISSIONS AND MUD HOLES


When we arrived at Rosetown the vicar and his wife were out, as they did
not know what time to expect us; but we found the vicarage door
unlocked, as is the hospitable local custom, so we went in and read the
letters from home which we knew were awaiting us there. Mr. and Mrs. M.
soon arrived, and gave us a very warm welcome. They insisted on our
sleeping in the house instead of in the van, and having our meals with
them. We said that in that case they must let us help with the chores.
Mrs. M. had a tiny baby and no domestic help. Here, as elsewhere, our
host and hostess were delighted to meet anyone fresh from England. Mr.
M. had worked on the Railway Mission, and was now in charge of this
district. A Canadian "parish" is often 2,000 or 3,000 square miles in
extent. Mr. M. had a rural deanery of 6,000 square miles, and as many of
his clergy were in deacon's orders, he had to perform all priestly
duties for them. He used a Ford car in the summer, and in the winter
took the tyres off a motor bicycle and fixed it up to run on the rail of
the track. The prairie being so flat, he could see the trains in time to
get out of the way.

When talking to men like this we realised that our summer adventures
were as nothing compared with what they experienced in the winter, with
the thermometer 50 degrees below zero and blinding blizzards in which it
was impossible to find one's way. This life of hardship and
self-sacrifice won the respect of their parishioners and developed their
own manhood. The farmers looked upon them as personal friends,
fellow-men, instead of the remote being a clergyman is sometimes assumed
to be. They are all-round men of affairs, too, as Winifred put it: "Out
here a parson has to know about seeds and weather and dollars, but he is
respected also for his office, and valued very much for what he brings
to the people."

For the most part the men out here are the pick of the junior clergy
from Oxford and Cambridge, men who have sacrificed much in leaving
England. The clergy depend upon voluntary contributions, there being no
endowments, of course. It is reckoned that in the diocese of Qu'Appelle
the average contribution for each man, woman, and child is 15s. per
head. They use the envelope system, so that if prevented from attending
church the money is set aside just the same. Besides this, the farmers
give generously in kind. But, as a clergyman's wife remarked to me,
butter and eggs, though very welcome, do not supply clothes for the
children. The drawback to the voluntary system is that the clergyman's
income is as uncertain as that of his parishioners; for when the harvest
fails there is no money for anyone. The Railway Mission clergy received
monetary support from the Fund, but this Mission was only a temporary
arrangement until the various districts became self-supporting. There
is, however, a diocesan fund to help the poorer parishes. Though the
parishioners do their best it is obvious that they can never provide
more than a scanty support for a clergyman who has a wife and family,
and hence the great difficulty in filling the Canadian theological
colleges.

The Rosetown Sunday School was in a flourishing condition, for the vicar
was very keen. The children were taught to sing by a lady who had been
accompanist to Clara Butt. On the Monday it had been arranged that I
should take a Bible-class of elder girls, but when Mr. M. took me down
to the house where it was to be held, we found that none of the girls
had come (owing to school examinations), so we went to the movies
instead!

There is a splendid picture palace in every little prairie town, and
some of the films shown are really good. The cinema provides the sole
recreation for the entire populace. On Saturday evenings there are long
lines of cars all down the street, when the farmers and their wives come
into town to shop and go to the pictures and meet each other.

I was asked to give a missionary address next day to the junior branch
of the Women's Auxiliary.[6] This particular branch proposed to call
itself "The Busy Bees," because the members intended to work so hard. I
talked to the children about the "Hope of the World" picture, which
seemed suitable to this country of many nationalities. Winifred remarked
that it was a splendid country from the missionary point of view as
"they _see_ black and white and brown." Where this junior branch had
been started the children were keen to join, just as every Canadian
churchwoman seemed to belong to the Women's Auxiliary. From many years'
experience as a secretary for S.P.G. one longed to see the Church of
England follow Canada's example by directing all her missionary effort
into one channel, and one wished that missionary fervour were as
universal.

Just at the time when we had planned to start from Rosetown a tremendous
thunderstorm came on, making the trails quite impassable for several
days. The water cart which brought the town's drinking water from five
miles away could not get in for three days, so we had very short
rations. On the Thursday I determined to leave for Kerrobert, in spite
of Mr. M. saying that no one ought to go out on such trails. I knew that
if we did not start at once we should not get to Kerrobert by Sunday.
The trails were indeed dreadful, about the worst we had ever seen. The
half-dried mud was like putty. We had the Parsons' chains on, but even
so we skidded from side to side and had to go on low gear all the time.

About a mile out of the town we came face to face with a large wagon and
four horses, which refused to make way for us. The road was steeply
graded, so that if you got off it you would slide down into the mud and
water of the ditch. I pointed out that it was as awkward for us as it
was for them, indeed worse, as they had horses. They replied that if we
stuck they would pull us out, and making a dash for it I managed to get
on the gradient and up again. But what was my horror to find, a little
farther on, another great wagon left standing in the middle of the road.
It appeared that they had taken the horses from this to help on the
other wagon. There was nothing for it but to drive round it, and this
time my luck failed and we stuck fast in the mud. One of my Parsons'
chains had come off in the last place, we found.

I put on another chain with great difficulty, as the jack kept
continually sinking in the thick mud. When I had finished I looked round
for Winifred, and could not see her anywhere. I got the car out and
waited. Still no Winifred. Feeling very anxious, I went off to a
neighbouring farm and asked to be allowed to telephone. I then rang up
Mrs. M. at Rosetown, but she had seen nothing of her. At last I saw her
coming along the road. She had been to look for the lost chain, found it
was broken and had got it mended in the town.

We then went on with great difficulty till we came to a most awkward
place. It was a bridge over a creek, very narrow, and just as muddy as
the rest of the trail, with a very rotten paling on either side. I knew
that if the caravan skidded it would smash this paling and fall four or
five feet into the little stream below. As there was no reason why we
should both run the risk I asked Winifred to get out, and then managed
to crawl over safely. Presently we came to a very bad bit, nothing but
large holes of mud and water, but we ploughed through. Then came a
tremendously steep hill up which I tried to rush, but I stuck half-way.
Even with the chains on the wheels could not grip in the sticky mud, and
unloading failed to help us. I then sought assistance from a farm at the
top of the hill, and the farmer, a Frenchman, brought a horse and pulled
us up. The trail got worse farther on, and we camped at the next farm we
came to. We were in a dreadful condition of dirt and hunger, our feet
twice their normal size with clotted mud, the caravan full of lumps of
mud, our hands and clothes all over mud. I did not feel much like
cooking, so when I went to the farm house for water I asked if we might
boil some eggs there. Whereupon the farmer's wife insisted on giving us
the eggs as well as boiling them for us, and she also gave us boiling
water for our coffee. We thankfully ate our supper and went to bed.

After sticking in several mud holes next day, we finally stuck fast in a
very deep one, but a farmer ploughing near pulled us out. He told us
that the trails got worse between here and Kerrobert, no cars had been
through for several days, and he advised us to stop the night at his
farm and go on by train next day. So we drove the van into his yard and
received a kind welcome from his wife. I wanted to let the vicar of
Kerrobert know that we were coming. They said that there was a telephone
at the next farm a mile or so away, so I walked over there. On my return
I found it exceedingly difficult to find my way in that featureless
district, and I should probably have got lost had I not heard Winifred's
hail.

We tried to make some return for the kind hospitality we received here
by helping with the chores, but zeal without knowledge is a dangerous
thing, and one of us, washing up the separator, dissected it so
thoroughly that the farmer's wife gazed in consternation at the result.


On the Saturday the farmer drove us into Rosetown when he went in for
his weekly shopping. He promised to look after the caravan for us while
we were away. We got to Kerrobert in good time that night, and were able
to carry out all our Sunday engagements. But we missed the caravan very
much, as we could not take all our apparatus without it, and we had to
put up at an hotel as the vicarage was very small. These little hotels
are expensive and not at all comfortable. We hoped great things when we
caught sight of a bath, and promised ourselves a real treat, but on
inspection it proved to be full of dust, with no water laid on.

There had been a Sunday School at Kerrobert, but the teachers had left
the district. The vicar was too busy to take it, and his wife had her
hands full with two small children. But for several Sundays in
succession the children had come as usual, waiting and hoping against
hope that the school would be held. Two little boys of six and seven
years old had driven three miles in a buggy by themselves. The joy of
these children made our struggles to get to them well worth while. There
were about twenty of them in all. It grieved me that, though the Union
Sunday school had plenty of teachers, no one could be found to teach the
Church of England children.

We visited some very fine day schools and gave Bible lessons there, and
also gave an address to parents in the church. The vicar arranged a
children's service for the next day, so Winifred stayed to give the
address while I went to fetch the caravan. Mr. M. drove me out to the
farm, but I did not get started with the van till about 3.30 p.m. The
trails had dried up a good deal, but the ruts were perfectly awful, as
they always are after these heavy rains.

I had great difficulty in finding the way without Winifred to hold the
map and direct me. Presently I came to a little town and stopped at the
garage to refill my gasolene tank, but the petrol pump was empty. I had
plenty in the side tanks but it took so long to siphon it out, so I
determined to run on with what I had left. But beyond the town was a
steep hill, and as I could get no run at it, and my gasolene being so
low, I stuck half-way up. Again I missed Winifred badly. I could not get
out to unload because the brakes were not strong enough to hold the
loaded van, so I had to back to the bottom of the hill, unload, drive
the van up, and then load again. This wasted a lot of time, though I got
some help from a passer-by. Then I came to a "wash-out"--_i.e._, a
conduit that has fallen in. This one was a large hole right across the
trail about five feet deep. As there was a large slough on either side I
had to go back four or five miles to find another trail. I could not
turn between the sloughs and so had to reverse for some way.

The great difficulty now was to know where to go. I had been following
main trails, but now I had to take any side trail in the desired
direction which seemed passable. I went mostly by the sun, as I knew my
way lay north and west. When it was growing dusk I was going down a
steep hill, when I noticed a bit of wood lying across the trail. I
thought it was merely a broken piece of wagon rack. At the same time I
experienced the most curious sensation, a strong warning not to go any
farther, the like of which I have never felt before or since. I stopped
the van, and getting out walked along the trail a few paces and found a
great wash-out right across the road. It was much worse than the former
one, with quite as deep a drop and a much wider chasm. Had I gone on I
could not have escaped it, and must have been badly hurt if not killed.
I heard afterwards that there had recently been two bad accidents here.
One man had broken three ribs and had had to be nursed at a neighbouring
farm, there being no hospital near.

To the side of the wash-out there was an equally bad hole, but it had
not such a sudden drop. It was evident that cars had been through this,
so I tried it. Remembering the sprung frame, I went rather too slowly
and stopped dead just on the opposite incline, at an acute angle. My
gasolene being so low contributed to this misfortune, so I filled up my
tank by siphoning from the side tank and tried to crank the car, as the
electric starter had gone wrong that morning. At this angle it is almost
impossible to crank any car, and this handle was stiff, so I blistered
my hands in vain. As it was late I made up my mind to go to bed and
tackle it in the morning. I was hungry, however, and had had no food
since I started, so seeing a farm about half a mile off I went to get
milk and water. The farmer's wife said she was sick of this hole, so
many accidents happened there. She promised that her husband should come
and help me in the morning, and said that she would telephone to the
Secretary of the Municipal Council to see if they could not get the road
mended.

I had my supper and was just going to bed, when I saw the headlights of
an approaching car. I hurried out to stop them before they reached the
wash-out. It was an enormous caravan on its way to Kerrobert sports.
They were very grateful, and said they would tow me out in the morning,
before they went on, if 4 a.m. was not too early. It was very difficult
going to bed at this angle, but I managed to sleep. The prairie air is
so wonderful that you can sleep anywhere and anyhow. Next morning the
other van crawled round me and tried to pull me out, but my rope broke,
and I told them not to stop for me. The farmer came later on, and
between us we managed to get the engine going by priming the sparking
plug, and then I got out of the hole all right.

The farmer directed me along the main trails. But, unknown to him, there
had been a cloud-burst in this district during the recent thunderstorm,
and this had washed away conduits and formed great sloughs within the
space of three hours. Consequently I spent the day retracing my path and
trying to find passable trails.

On one occasion I stuck fast in a very bad mud-hole, and so went to a
farm for help. The farmer sent his man with two horses, and he pulled me
out. While he was unhitching the horses, he became embarrassingly
confidential. Beginning with the usual query "Are you married?" and the
inevitable "Why not?" he intimated that now was the opportunity. I
gathered he was "baching it" as many do, which meant that he had to do
all his own domestic chores as well as his farmwork. I could imagine
what his shack looked like, having seen some when asking the way with
their unwashed crockery and general disorder, and I guessed that he was
wanting a housekeeper and thought that I looked strong and useful. The
man would take no money for his service, and when I refused to let him
come and sit beside me in the caravan he called me ungrateful. It was an
awkward situation, and I saw that the only thing to do was to get away
at once. But as the caravan was not quite out of the mud the engine had
stopped as soon as the horses ceased pulling. Fortunately they now
became so restive that they took all the man's attention, so I cranked
the car like lightning, jumped in and got away.

Farther on I stuck again in alkaline mud, which sucks you down, but a
farmer lent me boards and I managed to run along them. Presently I
reached a farm with a telephone, and sent a message to Winifred lest she
should be anxious. The farmer's wife kindly offered me food, which I
gladly accepted, as I had had none since early morning. On other
occasions, when we could not stop to cook, Winifred fed me with biscuits
and chocolate, as on these rough trails I had to keep both hands on the
wheel. When I tried to start the car again it would not crank. But there
was a small hill near the farm, so I pushed the car to the brow of it by
turning the wheels by the spokes. Then came the exciting moment when the
van began to run down the hill and I had to jump in with all speed.

At a place called Dodsland I was advised to cut across the prairie, as
the main trail was impassable. I had an exciting time bumping over the
hillocks, and felt sure that everything in the van was being smashed to
pieces. Finally, by asking the way at isolated farms, I got in sight of
Kerrobert, and then found yet another slough half across my path, in
which two side wheels stuck fast as I tried to get by. My efforts to dig
the car out proved futile, so I went to a near-by farm for help. I found
numbers of horses, but no men. Everyone had gone to Kerrobert sports. I
was sorely tempted to take some horses and pull the car out myself. Then
a car came along from Kerrobert, and most kindly turned round and hauled
me out. I got into the town about 9.30 p.m. and went straight to the
vicarage, where I found Winifred.

[Illustration: PRAIRIE SCHOLARS]

[Illustration: A YOUNG HERDSMAN (see page 91)]

[Illustration: A PRAIRIE SCHOOL]

[Illustration: A MAPLE LEAF TEACHER AND HER PUPILS

  _To face p. 71_]

The next day I took the van to the garage to have the electric starter
repaired, but as it was a new pattern the spare parts were not in stock,
and they could not promise them before Saturday. This was awkward, as we
were due at Coleville on the Friday (the next day). We could not work
the Coleville district without the caravan, so many of the schools being
far from the track. We went up on Friday by train, and back on Saturday
for the car, which was not ready till Sunday afternoon, however. But we
arrived at Coleville during evensong, in time for Winifred to play and
for me to give the address.

[Footnote 6: See Appendix III.]



  CHAPTER XIII

  FURTHER PRAIRIE SKETCHES


We had come to Coleville at the special invitation of Mr. H., the
clergyman in charge of the district. It seemed strange to meet out here,
he being the son of the late vicar of my parish at home. We had promised
to spend a week in his district, and he had planned out a full programme
for us. On the Monday we gave an address in Coleville school (during
school hours), and then went on to Victory school. This school-house was
a mile and a half from any other house, and many miles from a town. All
around were wide stretches of unbroken prairie, with a few farms here
and there. The prairie was covered with flowers of all colours--the
wild, blue flax, flame-coloured mallows, many-hued vetches, and a lovely
deep pink low growing wild rose with a very sweet perfume, and a small
anousa of turquoise blue.

A Maple Leaf teacher was in charge of this little one-roomed school--a
very pretty girl. She was delighted to see anyone out from England.
After school was over the children brought round the teacher's horse,
and then they all mounted and galloped away in a picturesque cavalcade.
Most of them lived about four miles off.

We went on to Smilie in the evening, where I gave an address to parents
and children. While I was buying gasolene next morning, a man came into
the garage, and, seeing the name on the van, began a conversation with
us. He _was_ glad that someone was going round to teach the children, he
said. He had been taught the Bible when he was young, but nowadays
people knew nothing about it. Why, only the other day he had asked a
workman if he knew what building it was which had been raised without
sound of axe or hammer, and he actually didn't know! It was _quite_ time
the children were taught the Bible.

We had no housekeeping cares in this district, as Mr. H. had arranged
for nearly all our meals to be provided. So generous, indeed, were the
folk of this neighbourhood that all our gasolene was sold to us at
half-price. On the Tuesday we went out to a prairie school where they
were having holidays. But our visit had been announced, and the children
drove in to have a Bible lesson, holiday time though it was. Moreover,
after Winifred had given them an hour's lesson the class still refused
to disperse.

Out here I saw the first flock of sheep which I had found on the
prairie. We had dinner with the owner, an old Welsh farmer, and his
wife. He remarked that he was very glad that we were going round to
teach the children, and when I asked why, he replied that the young
people now growing up hadn't been taught the Bible as he and his wife
had been taught it at home in Wales, adding gloomily: "Half the motor
cars you see in the town on a Saturday evening haven't been paid for.
It's time somebody went round to teach them something."

He did not usually attend any meetings, it seemed, but we had evidently
made a good impression, for, to everybody's surprise, he turned up in
the evening at my address to parents. We had a special Welsh hymn in his
honour. This meeting, as was often inevitable, was an hour late in
beginning. Those who arrived first telephoned to the rest to know if
they had started. It was rather like a Derby day, Mr. H., on the top of
the caravan, announcing from time to time who was first in the field.
While we were waiting, a good many young men were introduced with the
usual formula, "Meet Mr. So-and-So, one of our bachelors," and etiquette
obliged us to reply, "Pleased to meet you."

Next morning we went out to Travet Park school, miles away across the
unbroken prairie. We should never have found our way had not Mr. H.
accompanied us. It was pleasant to miss the telephone poles and see
countless flowers instead. We never passed a farm all the way, and we
could hardly see the trail. At Travet Park the teacher told us that she
had started a Sunday School on Fridays after school hours, but very much
wanted help with books. The children here listened with breathless
attention to the lesson we gave them. It was most encouraging to find
both teacher and children so keen. We had dinner at a farm, and
afterwards I took the van to collect people for the parents'
meeting--among others, a young mother with her tiny baby, and an old
lady with a broad Cockney accent and a bonnet trimmed with black
cherries, some of which were jolted off in the van and remained with us
as trophies. It was a real cross-country run. We were actually _told_ to
drive over the wheat. Then we came to a ditch which we crashed into and
out again, and then over a large badger's hole. By the time we arrived
at the school I felt that all ideas had been jerked out of my head. But
the meeting began with a hymn, and then Winifred said a few words, and
by that time I had collected my scattered wits.

Next day we had a puncture far out on the prairie--our first
misadventure of the kind. I had no spare wheel, and this entailed a hot
job in the broiling sun. At last we arrived at the farm where we were
taking Mr. H. to baptize two children--a child of three and an infant in
arms. The father was ploughing, but he left his horses and came in for
the baptism.

We then went on to Kindersley, where Mr. W. was in charge. We had done
130 miles in Mr. H.'s parish. Mr. W. kindly gave us a special
Celebration next morning, as Mr. H., who was still in deacon's orders,
was never able to have one. He then returned to his district.

We spent a week at Kindersley. The Women's Auxiliary had arranged to
give us dinner and supper every day in different people's houses
throughout our visit, and others brought us milk and eggs for breakfast.
We met many thoughtful and interesting people here, some of whom had
been early settlers. While entertaining us, they told us stories of
these early days. The settler and his wife used to trek fifty miles in
an ox-wagon to the bit of land he had bought. There they lived in a tent
until he could build a sod shack. The wife would perhaps have to go
twenty miles to the nearest slough to wash her clothes, and sixty miles
for stores, letters, etc. Probably there would not be another woman for
miles around. In time a solid wooden shack replaced the sod building,
and the farm slowly acquired all the latest modern appliances. Then
motor-cars linked the isolated farms together, and with the coming of
the railway little towns sprang up here and there. These tales of quiet
heroism filled me with great admiration.

On the Saturday the president of the Women's Auxiliary invited us to
meet all the members at a tea-party, and asked me to give a description
of our aims and objects. They seemed interested, and thought it was a
work which the W.A. might support. On the Sunday we had an early
Celebration, and, after breakfast, started off for Avonhill, some
sixteen miles away in Mr. H.'s district, which we had been unable to
visit on the previous Sunday. We went along a road with sloughs on
either side until we found a slough right across the trail. So I had to
reverse on this narrow road for about a quarter of a mile, and then had
to cut across the prairie; this made us an hour late in arriving. We
held a service for parents and teachers and children, and left them some
books. Although we were invited to dinner, there was no time to stop for
any, and we got back to Kindersley just in time for the Sunday School at
2.30.

On the Tuesday I held a study circle in the church for adults (by
request). It was on "Prayer and the Prayer Book." Among the members was
a "Dunkard," a sect which combines the tenets of the Quaker and the
Plymouth Brother. This woman had a most spiritual and beautiful face.
She wore a sort of uniform with a dark bonnet much like a Salvation Army
girl's. There were some Presbyterians in the class, too. We ended with a
discussion on the respective value of forms of prayer and of extempore
prayer, those not in communion with us showing great sympathy and
breadth of mind.

Next day we went out on the prairie with the vicar, to visit the parents
and children who lived far away. There had been some rain, which added
to the glory of the flowers--masses of wild mustard and purple vetch and
luxuriant gaillardias.

On Friday, July 9, we started for Alsask, fifty miles off. We arrived by
supper-time, though we did not start till 4 p.m. We had a terrific
thunderstorm on the way. It was a wonderful and terrible sight, great
zig-zags of forked lightning against inky black clouds. We tried to keep
pace with the storm, expecting a torrential rain at every moment, which
would render the trails impassable. I set my teeth, and got every
possible ounce of speed out of the caravan. We could actually feel the
heat of the lightning. (They are called out here "electrical storms.")
Just as we thankfully caught sight of the Alsask elevators, the storm
increased. A terrific wind got up, and we saw a great grey cloud of dust
swirling towards us, mingling with the black storm-clouds above. As we
entered Alsask, the clouds burst and the rain came down in torrents. I
tore down the main street looking for a garage, to get the van under
cover as soon as possible. Fortunately, I soon found one. When the storm
had partially subsided, we made our way to the vicarage, and from under
cover watched the lightning and tried to take photos of it. Later on,
when it had cleared a little, we brought the caravan up to the vicarage
and slept in it.

The vicar and his wife were not long out from Southwark Diocese. He had
been secretary for his diocese for the A.W.C.F., and, like me, had got
keen in this way. The vicar's wife was a trained educationist, and ran a
splendid Sunday School, but, like all who know the most about a subject,
she was eager for fresh suggestions. Here, also, we received much
hospitality, and so got to know the people, and when we were not at
other folks' houses the children were with us. On the Sunday we held a
demonstration Sunday School.

While we were here a Sunday-school picnic was arranged. There were about
thirty to forty children, most of whom went with their parents, but we
took some in the van and the vicar took some in his car. Shrieks of
laughter arose from our passengers when the van skidded badly in the
sand. Our destination was a big slough, which was almost a small lake.
There was a crazy boat on it, in which the children rowed about, keeping
it afloat by vigorous bailing. I unwillingly adventured in this craft in
response to a pressing invitation, feeling certain that my weight would
send it to the bottom. A further diversion was paddling, in which we
also joined the children. It was very hot and quite shadeless: 104
degrees in the shade and 126 degrees in the sun is quite usual during
the Canadian summer, hence the national welcome accorded to ice-cream.
On this occasion the vicar brought a barrelful, which he doled out into
cone biscuits all through the afternoon. Each child ate about six, but
they paid for what they had. These ice-creams are most delicious and
wholesome, being made of pure cream from the Co-operative Creameries.
These are established in all large towns. They buy up the farmers'
cream, making it into butter or ice-cream, the latter being sent all
over the country in barrels. Co-operation is one of the great secrets of
success out here. Even this picnic tea was co-operative. Everybody
brought their own, and then shared it with others. Thus the speciality
of some clever housewife was enjoyed by many; and Mrs. X.'s iced layer
cake or Mrs. Y.'s salad was greatly in demand. Everybody wished to have
his or her "picture" taken, and it was very difficult to get them all
in, so we perched some on the top of the caravan.

On the Thursday we had another expedition. The vicar had just returned
from camping with his scouts at Laverna Lake, some thirty miles off, and
he happened to mention that he had left all his equipment there and did
not know how to get it back, so I suggested that we should fetch it in
the caravan. We got there in good time, though the trails were rough,
and I had a delicious swim before lunch.

It is a beautiful lake, surrounded by low hills. All around the margin
were lovely wild tiger-lilies. Mr. H., from Coleville, was in camp there
with his scouts. It is an ideal place for a camp.

We got back to Alsask in time to give a Bible picture talk to the
children around the caravan. Then we went on to a social evening, at
which we were asked to speak. All present seemed to realise the great
importance of work amongst the children.

On Friday morning the vicar kindly gave us an early Celebration as we
were going on to Youngstown, eighty miles away, where there was no
Anglican clergyman. It was a very hot day, and the trails were extremely
rough. When running one felt a little air, but when one stopped for
meals the heat was intense. The tyres got so hot that I had to keep them
covered or they would have burst.

Alsask is on the borders of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and we were now in
Alberta. We had written in advance to a Mr. and Mrs. S., some of the
leading laity of Youngstown, and Mrs. S. had replied that it would be
useless for us to attempt anything there this week because a Chautauqua
would be going on. Therefore, as Youngstown was the most westerly point
of the diocese which we were to visit, we thought it best to go on and
make arrangements for our work when the Chautauqua should be over,
meanwhile going on to Banff to see the Rockies. We did not arrive at
Youngstown till 8 p.m., and had to wait for some time before we could
see Mrs. S. as she was out. We then arranged meetings for the Saturday
and Sunday of the following week, thus giving her time to let all the
people know.



  CHAPTER XIV

  A CAMPING TRIP IN THE ROCKIES


While I was visiting Mrs. S., Winifred had found a garage where we could
leave the caravan. She had also inquired about the trains for Banff, and
found that one left about 5 a.m. next morning. Mrs. S. gave me the
vicarage key, so that we might store our things there. This we did
overnight. We got up very early in the morning, collected our
sleeping-bags, the tent, the tea-basket and a little food, with a small
saucepan and a spirit lamp, and a "grip" apiece, and drove these things
to the station in the van. We then left the van outside the garage (as
previously arranged), because it did not open till 7 a.m., and just
managed to catch the train. We had a few hours' wait at Calgary, and
arrived at Banff about twelve o'clock at night. We had not the least
idea where to go, and there was nobody about except an old man with a
lorry. I asked him where the camping-ground was, and he replied that it
was too far to go that night, but he would take us to a place where we
could camp for the present, and he would come and fetch us in the
morning; so we put our things on the lorry and climbed up after them,
and he whipped up his horses and drove off at a gallop into the
darkness.

Presently we stopped suddenly where a wood loomed up against a
star-strewn sky. "Here's the place," our charioteer said briefly, and we
pulled our things off the lorry and were speedily left alone. It was
pitch dark under the pines, so we could not see to put the tent up. We
groped for the rope which confined the tent and sleeping-bags, and after
some fumbling undid the knots and got out the bags and waterproof sheets
and mosquito-nets. Then we undressed with great difficulty in the heavy
dew, and somehow or other crawled into the bags and rolled ourselves up
in the waterproofs and pulled the mosquito-nets right over our heads.
The latter pests were awful. They even bit us through the nets, and made
such a noise in the early morning that we could stand it no longer, and
got up, whereupon they fell upon us with renewed zest.

We now saw the exquisite beauty of the place. The sun shone down through
the tall pine-trees and glittering dew-drops spangled every blade of
grass. We came out of the wood, and there were the Rockies in full
view--lovely pointed peaks, with snow on their summits. Near at hand
flowed a beautiful clear river. Trees and water were an intense delight
after the bare stretches of prairie.

I collected sticks and boiled coffee in the little saucepan, and we had
the most delicious breakfast. By the time we had finished the old man
had come for us. He drove us a few miles beyond the town to a large
pine-wood. The Spray River ran through this wood--a swift clear stream,
opalescent with melting snow. The wood was full of tents, but we found a
nice spot near the river for our camp, not too near anyone else. I then
went off into the town to look for an Anglican church, as it was Sunday
morning. The way into the town was through a beautiful avenue of tall
pines, an avenue over two miles long. By dint of asking the way I found
a lovely little church. It had the prettiest natural decoration--moss
growing on the window-sills. It was just 11 a.m. when I arrived, and I
found there would be both Matins and Holy Communion. I was well rewarded
for my efforts. In the evening we both went into the town for evensong,
and had supper at a restaurant.

We had heard of the beauty of Lake Louise, so on Monday we made a trip
thither. The last part of the way was by a funicular railway. Lake
Louise was hardly known before 1890. It is a small jewel of a lake, just
over a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide. It lies 5,670 feet above
sea-level, and Mount George at the head of the lake is 11,355 feet high.
This mountain is covered with glaciers and perpetual snow. I live in
the Lake District, and also know the lakes of Scotland, Switzerland, and
Italy, but I have never seen such exquisite colouring as that of Lake
Louise. It flashes on you suddenly as you emerge from the pine woods, a
mirror of gleaming turquoise, framed on either side by dark pine-clad
slopes, with glistening white peaks between them, these being reflected
in the clear waters. On the lower slopes of the mountains and at the
foot of the lake there is vivid emerald green grass. Facing this
loveliness the C.P.R. has built an artistic hotel, chalet fashion, which
does not spoil the landscape. From the windows of this hotel the whole
enchanting picture is seen as in a frame.

In the afternoon Winifred went in a motor char-à-banc to see other lakes
and mountains, and I walked up through the pine woods on the right of
Lake Louise to Lake Agnes, a climb of 1,200 feet. A little above this I
saw a tiny lake called Mirror Lake. These two are sometimes called the
Lakes in the Clouds. By this time a thunderstorm had come on, which
greatly enhanced the grandeur of the scene.

On the Tuesday I went to the famous sulphur baths at Banff. The water
comes out at 98 degrees in one spring and 112 degrees in the other.
There are open-air swimming baths with glass all round them, so that you
can see the mountains all the time. The next day we went down the river
in a motor-boat, seeing a most wonderful panorama of woods and
mountains, which a thunderstorm made more beautiful. The lightning
seemed to strike a waterfall and glance off again. That same night there
was another tremendous storm, the thunder echoing and re-echoing in the
mountains, sounding as if two storms had met and burst above us. I
distinctly felt the heat of the lightning and could not help wondering
how soon it would be before we were struck, being under trees. But
although the rain was terrific it never came through the tent.

Another day we motored to Lake Minawaake, passing several canyons. We
came back by Banff Park, where we saw moose and other tame wild animals,
the most interesting of all being the buffalo, one of which was
wallowing with his legs in the air. I took a photo of him, but was not
allowed to get out of the car to do so as they said he would probably
charge. This is the only herd now in existence, and they once covered
the prairie. Another very interesting sight was the lumber being floated
down the Bow River to Banff, where it is sawn up and sent by train all
over the prairie. The flowers here were very luxuriant. The most
striking one was the Red Indian's Paint Brush.

[Illustration:

  1. THE AVENUE AT BANFF, ALBERTA
  2. LAKE LOUISE
  3. LUMBER ON THE BOW RIVER

  _To face p. 80_]

[Illustration: SLINGING HAY INTO THE BARN (see page 87)]

[Illustration: THE CHURCH ON THE INDIAN RESERVE (see page 99)]

On the Friday we returned to Youngstown. We had a very exciting journey
as there were sixty wash-outs on the track. It was very sandy, and had
given way in the recent big storms. You wondered all the time what was
going to happen next, especially after it grew dark and they kept
shunting us from one line to another. Then a madman got in, and insisted
on conversing with us when he was not fighting, until removed by the
conductor. We arrived at Youngstown at 1.30 a.m., but as the tent had
not arrived, and the caravan was garaged, we had nowhere to sleep, and
so finished the night on a very hard wooden bench in the waiting-room.



  CHAPTER XV

  ON THE RETURN JOURNEY


The Chautauqua at Youngstown was now over, but we heard all about it
from Mrs. S. It consists of meetings, with lectures on all sorts of
international and intellectual subjects, interspersed with concerts and
social gatherings. It seems a very good plan for places far from large
centres of human life and thought. By this means they are brought into
touch with modern movements. Speakers from all over the world lecture at
these Chautauquas. Mrs. Pankhurst was speaking at this one.

That night we gave our promised picture talk around the caravan. We had
a mixed congregation of Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Lutherans. The
children seemed most interested, and would hardly go away. The
Anglicans were without a clergyman at present, and they felt this
privation very keenly. They had had one of the Railway Mission clergy,
who had lived here and worked the surrounding district. The four
missioners who had served this district at different times had all been
killed in the War. Now no one was forthcoming owing to the distressing
dearth of clergy. Everything was ready should anyone be sent. Monetary
support was guaranteed. The vicarage was a nice little two-roomed shack
with a garage and Ford car all complete. The church was dusty from long
disuse, and Winifred spent all Saturday cleaning it. The furniture had
been made by one of the congregation. It was of some dark wood and of
very original design. The asphalt path from the church to the vicarage
had been laid by a Roman Catholic neighbour. This same spirit of
goodwill was shown when I went to buy gasolene and oil from a Youngstown
Roman Catholic. He refused to take any money for it, saying that he was
glad to help on religious work amongst the children.

On Sunday we held a Sunday school at 3 p.m. The children were most eager
for instruction; they knew almost nothing, poor little things. In the
evening we had a service for adults in the church. A man took the
collection in his hat because they could find nothing else. He carried
it up the aisle and gave it to me, and as I laid it on the altar I felt
that it was a more acceptable offering than many a laden alms dish
offered that night in some rich cathedral. Here, as in many places, we
were asked who paid us. When we explained that we were not paid, it
seemed to give the people a better grasp of spiritual things. In this
country of growing materialism, in which the monetary value of a thing
is of first importance, it was difficult for them to understand anyone
doing honorary work. They began to think religious education must be of
real importance when they saw that we considered the work its own
reward. The congregation asked us to keep the collection money for our
work, so we thanked them and promised to use it towards paying for the
pictures which we left at each place.

In all the parishes which we visited we left a dozen Nelson pictures
backed on linen, with wooden slips top and bottom so that they could be
hung up in the church, and also some small Nelson pictures for use in
class, as well as lesson books of different grades. Where the Canadian
Sunday School magazine was in use the teachers found these additional
books useful to supplement it both in matter and method.

We discovered that there were several outlying missions which had been
worked from Youngstown, so we decided to visit the nearer ones, and take
the others on our way back to Regina. On the Monday we went to Ryson and
looked up the children at the farms and got them to join the Sunday
School by Post. At one farm we were thankful to take shelter as a
thunderstorm was raging. The farmer's wife was away, but he and two of
his brothers were at home. The farmer was a great student of the Bible,
so he and I had a theological discussion under cover of the piano where
Winifred and the brothers made music.

After another day or two's visiting we started for Cereal, but lost our
way and did not arrive until 10 p.m. Here, also, we took the names of
several children for the Sunday School by Post. The next day we went to
Stimson, over a very bad trail. We addressed the children in the
afternoon, had supper at a farm, and then held a service in the school,
with prayers, hymns, and address. The latter was given under
difficulties. Several small children came with their parents, and
several dogs accompanied their masters. Presently one baby fell down and
began to cry, whereupon all the other babies howled in sympathy and all
the dogs began to bark. I tried to make my voice heard above the din,
but Winifred came to the rescue by collecting children and dogs and
taking them all outside. Afterwards we discussed the best way to start a
Sunday School, and took names for the Sunday School by Post in case it
proved impossible.

We started about 8 a.m. next morning for Alsask and Kindersley. We meant
to go over a hundred miles that day. The trails were awful, however, and
presently we came to a graded place which was all loose earth, and the
car skidded badly, running off the grade and sticking at an angle of 45
degrees. We unloaded, and when I got in again to drive it I had to hold
fast to the wheel in order to keep my seat, the slope was so great. But
I managed to get back to the trail. We reached Alsask about 2 p.m. and
found Mr. H. there, who wanted to be taken on to Kindersley. After five
miles the car stopped dead. On examination I found that the hub of a
back wheel was broken in half. Just then two men came along in a car and
said they were going to Alsask, so they took me and the wheel. While it
was being mended I bought some food to take back with me to the others,
but had to wait an hour or so till the men were ready to return. They
took me back to the caravan, and I put the wheel on again and we started
once more. But the car still went badly. Then we came to a steep hill
newly graded, which we could hardly get up. At last I found that I must
put in new sparking plugs, a difficult job in the dark. Whilst I was
doing this Winifred had a splendid view of a distant electrical storm.
It was a magnificent sight to see the lightning flashes playing on a
vast expanse of sky.

Then we came to a nightmare of a road, very steeply graded and with
loose hard clods about 3 feet deep on the top. These nearly knocked the
bottom out of the engine, so I had to drive on the side at an incredible
angle, expecting every moment to be overturned, though my companions
were steadying the van with might and main, the one hanging on to one
side, and the other propping up on the other. Every now and then we had
to stop and unload, or else we must have capsised. We arrived at
Kindersley about 2.30 a.m., and found Mr. and Mrs. W. still waiting up
for us with a splendid supper prepared, to which we did full justice.
About four in the morning a tremendous thunderstorm came on. I woke up
with a start and suddenly remembered that I hadn't covered up the
engine, so I scurried out to do so, otherwise my sparking plugs would
have been ruined and the whole of the engine flooded. The difficulty was
to keep the tarpaulin on, as there was always a big wind. I made up my
mind that another year the engine should have a proper mackintosh cover
to clip on.

We could not start for another twelve hours because the trails were so
heavy after the storm. The Chautauqua had reached Kindersley now. The
big brown tent was pitched just opposite the vicarage and I heard the
singing, but had no time to go to any of the lectures, unfortunately. We
did not leave for Rosetown till 4 p.m., but we arrived there at 9 p.m.,
a seventy mile run.

The next day (Sunday) we went on to Dinsmore, where the vicar lived whom
we had met before at Bounty. We had not been able to hear from him, but
knew he expected us to take a Sunday School and address parents
somewhere in his district that afternoon. We started about noon, but
lost our way, and when we inquired at a farm were wrongly directed, so
we did not get to Dinsmore till 2.30. Just as we were entering the town
we got on to a rough trail with a lot of big clods. A front wheel struck
one of these and badly bent the steering-rod, which made it very
difficult to steer the van, as it kept veering towards the left of the
trail all the time. When we reached the vicarage we found the vicar had
gone, but I knew that he had a service at Surbiton on Sunday afternoons
and so asked the way there. The caravan got more and more difficult to
steer. I tried to straighten the steering-rod with a tyre iron, but it
was not strong enough. Then we came to a creek where there had been a
bad wash-out, and a board up across the trail said "No road." But I
noticed that cars had been going over the creek a little to the right,
which meant going down a hill like the side of a house, over the stream,
and up an equally steep hill on the other side. One needs to steer
particularly well on these occasions, but I had to risk it and got
across somehow.

At last we arrived at the school-house at Surbiton, and singing told us
that service was going on. We crept in and found the room full; some of
the congregation were even sitting in the porch. The Sunday School was
over, but I was asked to give an address to the people.

The vicar had to go on immediately to another service, but he had a
puncture and no spare tube, so I lent him one of mine. He introduced us
to the Sunday School superintendent and her husband. She was most
anxious to learn anything about methods. All the children of every
denomination attended her school. She invited us to stop to supper, and
it finally ended in our camping in their yard for nearly a week. We
wanted to teach the children, so our host and hostess suggested that
they should be invited to a cricket match, and have a picture talk
afterwards in the evening. They complained of the lack of organised
games for the children, a thing we had already noticed. Here and there a
teacher would organise a base-ball team, and that was all. One felt how
invaluable it would be to have more Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. The
difficulty here lies in the lack of people for Guiders and
Scout-masters.

The cricket match could not take place till after school, then the
children arrived in cars and buggies, and we had a splendid game. We
played till it was too dark to see, and then had the Bible picture talk
by the light of the moon and the headlights of the cars. The day-school
master and the parents standing behind the children seemed just as
interested as the latter were.



  CHAPTER XVI

  AMONG THE PRAIRIE FARMS


Our host and hostess were charming, cultured people. He and his
brothers, 'Varsity men, were farming in a little colony of their own. He
was a member of the Provincial Parliament, or Senate. Our hostess was a
trained nurse from St. Bartholomew's. She had been matron at a hospital
in Rosetown, and she still helped in cases of illness whenever she had
time. She told us how badly nurses were needed on the prairie. She was
also President of the local Grain Growers' Association, which is similar
to the Home-Makers' Club and the Women's Institutes--we got the latter
idea from Canada. The chief aim of these associations is the selling of
farm produce and the general betterment of home and rural life. Our
hostess was one of those who saw the need for a higher moral standard in
the country, and her Association had appealed to the Senate to that
effect.

They were most kind and hospitable, and insisted on our having meals
with them. The farm hands sat at the same table--in this democratic
country no longer below the salt. On several evenings I went with our
host and his children to play cricket at other farms, and I noticed that
the farm-hands and everyone else joined in the game.

It was very interesting to go round the farm and see all the wonderful
labour-saving devices. They had cut the hay and were getting it in. The
term "wild and woolly West" is said to have originated from the "prairie
wool," or natural hay, which is specially luxuriant on dried-up sloughs.
It is a grass with a fluffy, golden-brown plume. But this natural hay
can only be cut every other year, hence many farmers are sowing hay
seeds as well. The wagon which they use for carting hay and wheat has
enormously high rack-like sides. On this farm, when carting hay, an
immense canvas sheet with rings at the corners is put in the wagon and
the hay piled up on it. When a wagon-load reaches the barn, a rope
attached to a pulley in the barn roof is put through the four rings of
the sheet, the horses are taken out of the shafts and harnessed to the
pulley-rope, and the whole load is swung up into the barn, along a rod,
and on to the rick. The whole operation only takes three minutes. There
was a blacksmith's shop on this farm, and as some of the metal on my
shock-absorber had broken, our host cut me a piece of metal, and I
mended it with his assistance--a job which entailed lying under the car
for an hour with earth falling into one's eyes. The vicar was famous as
a "fixer" of broken-down Fords, and one day he came to the farm with his
children to gather Saskatoon berries.[7] Whilst he was waiting for the
party to start, he and our host took out my steering-rod and
straightened it at the forge. As he put it back he eyed me solemnly and
remarked: "I suppose you know that your two lives depend on this rod."

One very hot night we were sleeping in the van with all the doors wide
open for the sake of coolness. I woke up suddenly to a tremendous clap
of thunder with terrific forked lightning and a hurricane of wind, and
hailstones the size of a hen's egg. I sprang up and pulled the
wind-screen to and shut the side doors, and then woke up Winifred and
told her that we must hold on to the back doors for dear life. If once
the wind got in it would certainly overturn the van. How we got through
the next half-hour I cannot tell. There was no catch inside the back
doors, as we always bolted them from the outside, but so sudden and
terrific was the storm that there was no time to run round and bolt
them. The wind would have swept you off your feet, and you might have
been struck by the lightning. For the same reasons it was impossible to
make a dash for the farmhouse, and even if we had got there safely by
any chance, the caravan would have been smashed to atoms as soon as an
open door gave entrance to the wind. The only thing to do was to hold
the back doors with our fingers in the chinks, though how we managed it
I do not know. The alternative was to abandon the caravan and lie flat
on the ground, as one was advised to do in cyclones, but in this case we
might have been killed by lightning. All through that half-hour the van
quivered like a live thing, and we expected every minute that it would
be blown away or broken in. I have never felt so near death. The storm
lessened after a time, and then I bolted the back doors. In the morning
we found that the farmhouse had been nearly flooded by the torrential
rain, a stream of water having poured through the house. They had looked
out at us anxiously from time to time, but could no more reach us than
we could get to them when the storm was at its worst. Two great
hay-wagons had been blown several yards into a fence, and we heard that
a shack eight miles off had been blown over, and the settler had had all
his limbs broken. We had often heard of these storms before. On one
occasion such a storm burst upon a prairie school, smashing in the
windows. The young teacher gathered the children into the porch, where
they escaped injury. But when they returned to their homes most of them
found the shacks blown over and their parents killed. A neighbouring
school was entirely wrecked and the teacher and children killed.

On the Saturday, when the trails had dried up, we started for Birdview.
We were now entering the dried-out area again, but the sand-drifts had
sunk a good deal and become more compact, so we managed to get the
caravan through, though she skidded a bit. We camped by the little
prairie church, built miles away from any farm so that it might be in
the most central spot for each. Beside it stood the vicarage, a
one-roomed shack with a cellar beneath. There was also a good-sized
parish hall and a stable for the parishioners' horses. This complete
isolation has its perils. During the influenza epidemic in 1918 one of
the clergy lay here helpless for three days before anyone knew that he
was ill.

We stayed here for a week, having the place all to ourselves. We cleaned
out the shack and had our meals in it, sleeping in the van. It was
intensely hot, and we found the cellar a great boon for our butter, etc.
These cellars are a necessity on the prairie, keeping your food cool in
summer and your house warm in winter. Mrs. M., the farmer's wife who had
arranged for our visit here, used to bring us water and milk and eggs
from her farm two miles away. The well at the shack was now very low.
She also drove us to visit a day-school teacher who had promised to
carry on the Sunday School if we started it. We held the school on
Sunday, and two prospective teachers listened. After school there was a
most excellent tea in the parish hall, provided by the parents who had
brought the children. Delightful _al fresco_ meals are a feature of
prairie life. After tea we held a service in the church. We had made it
as beautiful as possible, with golden rod in the altar vases. Members of
the Women's Auxiliary had cleaned it thoroughly for us. This service
will always remain in my memory. There were people of all ages present,
and a large number of men, both middle-aged and young. Winifred played,
and I read the service and gave the address. We had a shortened form of
evensong. For the lessons I selected passages from the Gospels about our
Lord and the children. I also used some of the beautiful prayers written
for the Forward Movement--in particular, the one for a parish left
without a clergyman. We chose well-loved hymns, such as "Rock of Ages,"
from the Canadian hymn-book, which is beautifully called "The Book of
Common Praise." It is the best collection of hymns which I have ever
seen, including suitable ones for both children and adults. There is
also a Canadian prayer-book, some of the prayers being for the special
needs of the country, such as the prayer in time of drought. We used
this one at the service on behalf of this dried-out area.

I spoke on the importance of religious education, building up my theme
from the Gospel readings of the lessons. I tried to show how juvenile
crime had increased in countries which neglected the spiritual welfare
of the children. I ended by reminding them that, just as they had chosen
a font for their War Memorial, so the children, properly trained, would
be a living memorial of those who had laid down their lives for
Christian ideals. It was very easy to draw analogies between the
spiritual life of the child and the growth of the wheat, which is so
easily prevented by storms and drought from coming to its full
perfection.

At the close of the service we went to the door to say good-bye to the
people. I was very touched to see that some of them were crying, no
doubt from memories which the old familiar hymns and prayers had brought
to mind.

The next day we were invited to supper at a farm five miles off. On the
way we had a feast of beauty from the flowers, which were especially
glorious now. This is the native land of golden rod and Michaelmas
daisies. I have never seen such a variety of the latter--little white
ones growing low on the ground, little pale mauve ones, and great bushes
of deep mauve and yellow ones. There were also perennial sunflowers with
beautiful dark centres, and fine erigerons. At last we arrived at the
farm. It was a melancholy sight, almost buried in sand, and the farmer
was leaving it. In spite of being very badly off they gave us a most
delicious supper--roast chicken and layer cake and fruit and tea. It was
especially welcome just then as I had been doing a lot of cooking that
week, so a meal which I had not prepared was a great treat. (This may be
taken in two ways.)

The next day we taught in the day school and enrolled some children for
the Sunday School by Post. Then we went on and paid several visits,
finishing up at Mrs. M.'s farm, where we had supper. It was wonderful to
see her small son, aged three or four, rounding up cattle mounted on a
tall steed. This infant had already made our acquaintance, driving over
to our shack all by himself to bring us eggs.

On Thursday we left for Swanson, nearly sticking in the sand more than
once. At last the sub-radius rod broke with our continual skidding, but
I was able to get another at a hardware store on the way. We reached
Swanson that night and camped by the church. Next day we went to see the
farmer's wife who had promised to get the people together to meet us.
The family consisted of Mrs. Z., a widow, her daughter, and two sons. As
we drove up we saw that the wheat was being cut. Some of the binders
were drawn by motor tractors and others by horses. After the tea-supper,
which is the last meal of the day, Winifred went to the piano to play
songs for the girl. I noticed that the two brothers looked very tired
after their day's work, and guessed that they were waiting up for us as
I had seen that our room led through another. At last in desperation
they went to bed, and we found them fast asleep when we went through.
This shack was in advance of many, as it had a door between the rooms
instead of a curtain, but the girl ingenuously suggested that as it was
a hot night we should leave the door open.

The next day we went out to help them stook the wheat. It was a
beautiful sight, the sky so very blue and the wheat so very golden. I
felt quite at home at this job, though one had to stook from a quarter
to half a mile before turning, and the sheaves in the stooks were
placed in a circle instead of in our English way. Their aim is to keep
out the sun and wind, which would dry the wheat too much, whereas ours,
of course, is to let them in. They told us that a stooking machine had
been invented, but it was not very satisfactory as yet. The wheat
usually stands only a week in stook, and is then threshed on the field.
The rack (_i.e._, wagon) is accompanied by a loader (elevator) which
shoots up the sheaves into the rack. When this is full it is driven to
the thresher. This differs from our English threshing machine. Instead
of coming out in bundles, the straw is cut fine and blown out of a
funnel, accumulating in a heap on the ground. It is left there all
winter, being used either as fodder or as fuel. The grain pours down a
great pipe into a wagon, instead of being put into bags as with us. The
wagon is then driven off to the nearest "depot," where there is always
an elevator, as the tall buildings used for storing the wheat are called
out here. The wagon drives into the building, where it is weighed with
its freight. Then the wheat is tipped out and taken up to the store
rooms above. From there it is shot down a pipe into railway trucks, and
sent by train to Fort William on the Great Lakes. There it is cleaned
and again stored in elevators, and then poured down a great pipe into
the grain boats which carry it down the Great Lakes. Then it goes by
train to Montreal and Quebec, where there are even greater elevators,
whence it is sent all over the world.

We were told that this was the first good harvest in that district for
five years, which shows what a gamble prairie farming is. What with
drought and late frosts in spring, and hail and rain when the wheat is
ripe, the result must always be uncertain. The farmers are obliged to
put all their eggs into one basket, as they cannot store a root crop in
winter owing to the intense frost. A daily paper, dated September, 1921,
has the following news from Montreal: "Two feet of snow fell in the
district of Saskatchewan, causing much damage to crops and bringing the
snow-ploughs out. Drenching rains throughout the remainder of the
province suspended harvesting and threshing. The storm is the worst for
25 years."

Of course I had put on my landworker's clothes to stook in, and to my
surprise this caused a great sensation. They had never seen a landworker
in real life, only pictures of them in the _Sketch_ and the _Daily
Mirror_. They said the kindest things about British women war-workers.

[Footnote 7: Something like wortleberries.]



  CHAPTER XVII

  BACK TO REGINA


We returned to Swanson that evening in order to be ready for Sunday.
While we were hanging up pictures in the church two boys came in. We had
already met these two out in the harvest field, and had asked them to
come to Sunday School. One of them pointed to the cross on the altar,
and asked, "What's that?" I found that he knew nothing about the Life of
our Lord, so I showed him the picture of the Nativity, and from this and
the other pictures told him the sacred story. The other boy joined in at
intervals, supplementing my remarks. I found that he knew the story
quite well, and asked him how it was that he knew so much, and he
explained that he was a Roman Catholic. I told them that there would be
Sunday School on Sunday afternoon, and asked them to come, which they
did. (There was no Roman Catholic church in the place.) The children
seemed to enjoy the school, and the teachers-to-be came to listen. A bad
thunderstorm delayed us in beginning the service following, as the
people could not get there. But they arrived eventually, and seemed to
think the effort worth while. A few of the people from the Birdview
district, who had attended our service on the previous Sunday, were
among the congregation.

We were given an early supper by kind Mrs. T., who had mothered us when
we were there before, and, thus fortified, started on our twenty-mile
drive to the ferry over the Saskatchewan River, where we camped. There
was another thunderstorm that night. I got up very early, and had an
awful business cooking breakfast because of the raging wind. I had
determined that on any future trips there should be a tin shield for the
Primus, as digging a trench was of little use.

Meanwhile we heard that the ferry had not been running for several days,
as the river had fallen and the sand had silted up. If I had known this
sooner we might have crossed at Saskatoon, where there was a bridge, but
we were now a hundred miles or more away. It was necessary to cross
without loss of time, because Winifred wanted to catch the train at
Outlook on the following evening. She was obliged to get back to England
by an earlier boat than I was taking, because the tour had been
prolonged beyond the original date, owing to weather and other
difficulties.

When we had got down the steep, slippery trail to the river I found that
the ferry-barge was not starting from the pier, but lower down stream
where there was no pier, and between us and it was nothing but sand and
mud and water in which the caravan would sink. There were two other cars
waiting to cross. Their owners had gone over to Outlook in the ferry to
get a team of horses to pull them through. Just at this moment a wagon
and two fine horses drove down to the river bank. We explained our
difficulty to the driver, and he offered to tow us on to the barge. The
ferry-boat had now returned, and the touring cars were towed on with
difficulty. The waggoner hitched us on to his wagon, and I asked
Winifred to get out, as there was no reason why she should run the risk
of being overturned. Then our wagon started, and I started the engine to
help the horses, but this frightened them and they tried to bolt. The
man shouted to me to switch off, which I did, but they still galloped on
and seemed to be making straight for the river. Hitched on behind like
this I was helpless. But the man was a splendid whip, and he knew his
horses. He steadied them with his voice, and, getting them in hand,
swung them sharply round and on to the barge, though still snorting and
plunging in their fright. It was exceedingly difficult to steer the van
round just at the right moment, but I managed it somehow. The barge men
(our former friends) seemed to find it very hard work getting the
heavily-laden boat across, with the wind against them. On the other side
there was no pier to land on, only mud and water as before, so the
waggoner offered to pull us ashore. His horses were really
magnificent--extraordinarily strong--for they pulled both the wagon and
the laden van through the sand and water, past the touring cars stuck in
the mud. The man refused to take any money for his services, though it
was usual to charge a dollar or so for pulling out cars, etc. But only
once in all our three months on the prairie, and with our numerous calls
for help, would any man take money for his services to us. I am sure
that our work was helped by our being women. Much more consideration was
shown to us than would have been the case with men similarly situated.
Perhaps this is because there are fewer women than men out there. The
men certainly seem to feel that they cannot do enough for them.

I took the grass track up from the river, the same which I had used when
crossing the ferry before; but the van stuck at the top, so I had to
unload, and then back down to the bottom and rush up again at full
speed. It was a very hot day and a weary task repacking the van. We
bitterly regretted our refusal of the kind waggoner's offer to pull us
up.

I saw Winifred off by train, and then went on to Eyebrow, 96 miles. It
was rather fun trying to race Winifred's train, which I could see on the
track a little ahead of me. I did nearly catch her at one station, but
was not quite quick enough. I was very grateful for all Winifred's help,
and found it rather difficult to find my way without her, as she always
held the map. But I struck a green blazed trail after a time, and then
found my way quite easily. This trail fortunately avoided that bad
corner at Elbow, and the surface of all the trails was far better now
than when we came up. I arrived at Eyebrow about 5 p.m.

The next day Mr. T. took me to visit some parents, with whom we had
meals, and then on to Keelerville day-school, where I gave an address.
I was surprised to find one little girl answering all my questions with
great fluency, while the others sat in open-mouthed admiration. I said
to myself, "I'm sure you've been to the Qu'Appelle Diocesan School for
Girls," as I had noticed the same phenomena in Sunday Schools in Regina,
and my surmise proved to be correct.

We went out to supper, where we had the usual great bowl of boiled eggs,
from which we helped ourselves, everyone being expected to eat at least
three. It was very dark on our return journey, and the headlights
sometimes went very dim. I found it extremely pleasant to be driven for
once.

I left Eyebrow on the Wednesday afternoon, and went on to Mortlack,
about 38 miles. I found my way all right, but had to go through a great
deal of sand. Fortunately I did not stick. The vicar and his wife gave
me a very warm welcome when I arrived that evening. There were five
small children and a young theological student in the house. The vicar
had been presented with a Ford caravan very much like mine, in which to
get about his rural deanery. For everyday use he had a Ford car, and he
took me round the district in this. I taught in two schools and held a
parents' meeting on the first day, and gave a picture talk and two
addresses to parents and teachers on the next day. Indoors I helped the
student with the household chores, which he had made part of his duty.
The vicar's wife had her hands full with the children. The latter were
charming people; they specially loved jumping in and out of the caravan.
I secured temporary quietude by taking them down the town and presenting
them with "all-day suckers." This protection of the Canadian parent is a
large hard, brightly-coloured confection, stuck on a pointed stick,
which forms a handle. As the name suggests, it is supposed to last all
day. Another favourite comestible is chewing-gum. The children in their
turn frequently presented me with both these dainties. But what I really
liked were the delicious ice-creams and ice-cream sodas and sundaes.
Those of the latter that one buys in England are but pale shadows of the
original. The real, true sundae is a bowl of genuine ice-cream, on the
top of which is preserved fruit in rich syrup, with chopped nuts
scattered over it.

This rural deanery received a great deal of support from the Colonial
and Continental Church Society. They wanted me to stop at Mortlack over
Sunday, but I felt that I should never get all my affairs settled up in
Regina before catching my boat unless I went on at once.

So I started off for Regina on the Saturday, and got there in the
afternoon (70 miles). The trail was exceedingly bad, as they were newly
grading it, and in some places I had to get over mounds of loose earth
about four feet or more high. It was odd to find my watch an hour
different from the Regina clocks. The big towns have summer time, but
the C.P.R. and the country places keep to ordinary time.

I had a very warm reception from the W. family, behind whose house I
stored the caravan until I had time to clean it. The first thing to do
was to clean myself and my wardrobe. I looked more like a mechanic than
a Sunday School "expert." I found oil on most of my clothes, and without
Mrs. W. should never have got them clean again. It was very nice not to
have to turn out in the morning and cook breakfast over a bad-tempered
Primus. Mrs. W.'s meals were not easily forgotten, and now they seemed
extra good. The Canadian breakfast is a dream: you begin with grape
fruit, and then come "cereals," followed by eggs and bacon, and
sometimes griddle cakes with maple syrup, or johnnie cakes.

When I went to church on Sunday morning I had another kind reception,
and the vicar insisted that I should give an address to the whole Sunday
School in church that afternoon.

Next day I went to see Archdeacon Dobie and Archdeacon Knowles, and had
a long talk with them, the gist of which I append later. I told them
that I wished to present the caravan to the diocese, that this work
might be carried on. Archdeacon Knowles offered to take charge of the
van and its equipment during the winter, promising that it should be
stored in the Synod garage.

The caravan had covered at least 3,000 miles in just over three months.
We started from Regina on May 21 and got back on August 21. We visited
ten existing Sunday Schools and started four new ones; we also visited
twelve day schools and enrolled sixty children in the Sunday School by
Post. Besides this we gave many Bible picture talks to children and
addresses to parents and teachers, held a good many services in church,
and did a lot of visiting.



  CHAPTER XVIII

  AN INDIAN RESERVE


I felt that I could not leave Canada without seeing an Indian Reserve. I
had met Miss A., the headmistress of the Christian boarding school at
Punnichy, so I wrote to her asking if I might pay a flying visit to the
Reserve, and received a warm invitation. I left Regina at 9.30 p.m. and
did not arrive at Punnichy till next morning at 6.30. I travelled with a
large number of Doukhobors, extraordinary people who talk a most curious
language. They come from southern Russia, and are a religious sect. They
live in communities, having everything in common, even wives. The women
wear picturesque clothes--a coloured handkerchief over their heads and
another over their shoulders, with a very full short skirt. I noticed
that the train inspector seemed uneasy at my being in their compartment,
and soon moved me to another one. But I had to remain an hour with them
in the waiting-room at Saskatchewan, and they seemed quite harmless and
were interesting to watch.

I was met by a Mrs. T., who drove me in her own car up to the Reserve. I
found that she had nursed in France during the War, had had shell shock,
and had received the Royal Red Cross. Her husband was the headmaster of
the day school on the Reserve. She had found that the Indians were
without a nurse of any kind, and so she was giving her services in that
capacity and had her hands full. She had even bought a car in order to
get round the Reserve. There was a great deal of sickness, the Indians
being very tubercular now, and there was much infant mortality. Mrs. T.
said that she badly needed another nurse to help her. She was then on
her way to the school to help the doctor operate on a good many children
for adenoids and tonsils, but it would be a case of "first catch your
hare," as the patients always fled into the bush on these occasions.

Miss A. and her father, the chaplain on the Reserve, received me very
kindly. After breakfast I was asked to give the children a Scripture
lesson. They were bright, attractive children, but not nearly so quick
as the British children. They knew a great deal, however, having been
well taught. It seemed very sad that our British children had been so
neglected that they knew less about the Bible than these Indian children
did. I bought some of the beautiful moccasins and bead chains which they
make on the Reserve. The mother of one of the pupils had made the
Bishop's mitre all out of beads.

Outside the school-house there was a poor little boy lying on a
mattress, the other children entertaining him with picture books. I
asked what was the matter with him, and was told that he had broken his
leg and the witch-doctors had essayed to cure it, doing him great harm.
But he was now getting well under proper supervision. We had meals with
the Indian children, in a nice family way. They talked good English, of
course, having been in the school for several years. The _raison d'être_
of the boarding school is to give the children a good standard of
living. When they attend a day school they have to live at home in the
dirty hovels, which undoes much of the civilising influence they have
received. When they are old enough the boys are trained to work on the
school farm, under the management of Mr. A. I was shown the beautiful
little church, but was saddened to see the many little wooden crosses
marking the babies' graves. We saw some fine Indian men, looking quaint
with their long braided hair and big shady hats. They are being trained
to farm work, at which they prove most efficient. I should have liked
to have seen the Indian warriors in war paint, but this is seldom
allowed by the Government now as it is found to have such an exciting
effect on them. There had been a display of the Hudson Bay Company at
Winnipeg in the May of that year, but I was not able to go.

There was something singularly tragic in the sight of these people,
disinherited, and suffering from diseases which they never knew in their
old free life. It is one of those great injustices for which there seems
to be no remedy.

I remained for evening prayer, and was asked by Mr. A. to give the
address. I told the story of St. Christopher, which seemed to be much
appreciated. Then I caught a night train and got back to Regina next
morning.



  CHAPTER XIX

  HEADED FOR HOME


On my return from Punnichy I went to see the Bishop and Mrs. Harding,
and described our caravan tour. His lordship said that my account only
emphasised his previous conviction that work among the children was of
vital importance, and he hoped I would come back in the following spring
to carry it on. I explained that I had my diocesan work in England, and
had only six months' leave of absence, and was even now hurrying back to
take a Teachers' Training Course.

I had plenty to do during the next few days. I had sent home to England
for a good many books and pictures, and these now had to be done up and
sent off to the different places we had visited on the prairie. A
decidedly arduous task, too, was the cleaning of the caravan, to which a
good deal of the trail still clung. I spent strenuous hours with a hose
and brush, cleaning it inside and out. A hole had been knocked in the
composition boarding of the door, and I racked my brains to think of a
way to mend it. Then I remembered the paper pulp with which we make
raised maps. This did splendidly and hardened well. Then there were all
the books and pictures and models to catalogue and store for the winter,
ready for those who should take the van out next spring.

I had told the garage to fetch the caravan and take the engine down and
clean and overhaul it, but as they did not send for it I took it round
myself on the Monday and said that it must be done by the Thursday, as I
had to leave for England. When I went next day they had merely taken
down a little bit of the engine. They did not get to work on it properly
till the Wednesday, which was very annoying, as I wished to have the
back springs strengthened, a long job, and one which I meant to see
thoroughly done. I spent Thursday running to and fro between the garage
and the parish hall (where many of my things were stored). I had to
catch an early train in the morning, and so told a porter overnight to
fetch my cases and boxes from the parish hall. After supper I went round
to the garage again to see if the van was finished. It wasn't. I knew
that if I left it the mechanics would go off to some other car, and not
only would my van certainly not be done in the morning, but quite
possibly it would never be properly done at all, and when used next year
might break down at a critical moment. I therefore determined to stay
and see it finished. I knew the garage was open all night, with a
special set of mechanics for night duty. Hour after hour passed. I stood
around by the van and handed tools from time to time, and pointed out
what I wanted done, and by thus keeping them at it the van was actually
finished soon after 7 a.m. I rushed off with it to the W.'s, and Mrs. W.
and I packed all the equipment in it as fast as we could. Then I hurried
up to the Synod garage, taking a man with me to remove the electric
starter, which would freeze if left in all winter. As I flew along I
thought wistfully of the splendid breakfast which kind Mrs. W. had
prepared and which I had no time to eat. I handed over the car and keys,
got another car to take me to the station, and just managed to catch the
train. There was no time to feel sentimental over bidding farewell to my
beloved "Tin Lizzie," who had done such wonders for us. Several friends
came to see me off, but my cases from the parish hall only appeared on
the platform as the train steamed out of the station, and it was months
before I saw them again.

I went by train to Fort William, on Lake Superior, then by the Great
Lakes and down the St. Lawrence River. Lake Superior is a huge inland
sea, into which you could drop England. On Sunday morning we reached the
easterly end of the lake, where the great locks are between Lake
Superior and Lake Huron. We stopped at Sault St. Marie for several
hours, and some of us went ashore to church. I hunted about for an
Anglican church, and seeing one with a cross on it made for it; but it
was a Roman Catholic church, and was packed to the doors. Next I found a
Presbyterian church, and at last found an Anglican one, which I
afterwards discovered was the pro-cathedral. The Archbishop of Algoma
was preaching on the Lambeth Conference, from which he had just
returned. I had to leave before the end of the service lest the boat
should go without me. We started again at one o'clock, and went down
Lake Huron and through the Georgian Bay and past the Ten Thousand
Islands. It was very beautiful. We arrived at Fort McNicholl at 8 a.m.
on Monday. I then went by train to Toronto, and thence took a steamer
down Lake Ontario. It was a grey day, but the scenery was lovely, and
the waves quite rough, like the sea. We passed into the St. Lawrence at
night, and on the Tuesday morning began to pass the Thousand Islands,
some of which are disfigured by enormous houses, which look too big for
the island. At Prescott we changed into a tiny steamer called _The Queen
of the Rapids_, and went on down the river, soon coming to the first of
the rapids, which the steamer shot. There is a drop of three hundred
feet between Prescott and Montreal. The biggest rapid is the Lachine
Rapid, with a fall of eighty-five feet. These rapids have always been
shot by the Indians in their canoes, and now one always comes on board
to pilot the steamer down. The river here is far wider than the Thames
at London, and the rapids form a foaming bar from side to side, through
which there is only one narrow channel. As we rushed through we were
suddenly aware that the walls of water close on either side were veiling
rocks, between which the boat passed with only a few inches to spare. We
went three miles in one and a half minutes. In 1921 the rudder chain
broke when the steamer was shooting the rapids. The boat dashed on the
rocks and had a hole knocked in it, but the passengers managed to reach
an island and were all saved.

We arrived at Montreal that night, whence I went on to Quebec by train,
the _Empress of France_ being too big to get up the river. I arrived at
Quebec in the cold early morning, and spent the day hunting up my
luggage, but finding very little of it. I found time, however, to go up
to the Heights of Abraham, whence I had a magnificent view right over
the harbour. Both here and at Fort William the gigantic elevators were a
striking sight, and I could also see a lot of lumber floating in Quebec
harbour.

Quebec is a strangely old-world town, noticeably so after the very
modern West. I went into a shoemaker's shop to get a shoe mended, but
had to make my wants known chiefly by signs, as the man spoke a queer
old French and knew no English.

This journey down through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence is so
exceedingly beautiful that it is a pity more people do not take it. But
it is only possible in the summer months. After October the lakes are
too rough, and in winter the St. Lawrence is blocked by ice.

As we steamed out of Quebec the Heights of Abraham looked very fine with
the sunset behind them. We went by the northern passage, between
Labrador and Newfoundland. At night the Northern Lights lit up the sky
for two or three hours together, and just here we had to go slowly for
fear of sunken icebergs.

We got to Liverpool on September 15, but though we arrived at 4 p.m., we
did not get off the boat till 7.30 p.m., as a White Star liner was at
the landing-stage, so I did not get home till next morning.



  CHAPTER XX

  SOME PRESENT-DAY NEEDS OF THE PRAIRIE


In the interview which I was granted with Archdeacon Knowles and
Archdeacon Dobie before leaving Regina, I tried to explain my conviction
that the future of the Anglican Church on the prairie depended on the
training of the children. If they remained as ignorant of religion as we
found them in many places, it was obvious that their generation would
have no use for the Church. On the other hand, they were now in an
intensely receptive state, and the parents were more than willing that
they should receive instruction, and had supported us by every means in
their power, both by promising to carry on our work and by giving us
most generous hospitality. Experience had proved that a caravan was the
best means of reaching these outlying districts, first because they were
often so far from the railway, and also because there was no
accommodation for women visitors in most of the shacks.

When I offered my van to the diocese, Archdeacon Knowles suggested that
I should leave suggestions for its future use. Those I made were as
follows: (1) That in the spring, summer, and fall, a Sunday School
expert should use the van on the prairie, starting Sunday Schools,
visiting the farms and day schools, giving Bible lessons in school
hours, if allowed by the trustees, if not, after school hours; taking
names for the Sunday School by Post; helping the existing Sunday
Schools, teachers, and clergy. (2) That the expert must be a person
fully trained for the work, either at St. Christopher's, Blackheath,
London, or in any similar institution which might be started in Canada.
(3) The expert must be accompanied by someone who has driven a car for
at least a year, and done her own running repairs. She should be able to
cook, and willing to teach a class under the direction of the expert.
(4) Concerning the finance: the travelling expenses of the workers,
their board, and the running expenses of the caravan should be raised in
England until the diocese is able to support them. If possible, a salary
should be provided, but, failing this, honorary workers might be found.

Archdeacon Dobie read me a report which he had just received from two of
the Mission clergy who had gone out in the other Ford caravan. They had
done between two and three thousand miles already, and I afterwards
heard that by the end of the season they had gone 6,000 miles and
baptized 101 children. It was interesting to note where their report
corroborated ours. They spoke of the spiritual desolation of the people,
who asked them if the Church would only send clergy where a stipend
could be guaranteed. They remarked on the eagerness of the children to
learn, their intense appreciation of the sacraments and services, and
the pathetic ignorance of the children and young people, many of whom
had never been to a service before. The bad effects of this isolation
and lack of education were very noticeable, they said. One of the
clergy, in his report, spoke of the people "disappointed of their hope
year after year, cut off from the Church--the glory and joy of which
separation has deepened--there is little wonder at times they are almost
on the verge of insanity." He adds: "If only some lover of Christ and of
the British Empire would provide for two such vans to run for a few more
years until the tide turns and the country develops, much might be done
to save the children of the prairie and to foster a spirit of loyalty to
the Mother Country."

These Mission clergy seemed to feel, as we had done, that the time for
seizing these wonderful opportunities is now or never. The worship of
the almighty dollar may easily take the place of true religion unless
this present hunger for spiritual things is satisfied. It would be a
serious reflection on the Anglican Church if she should let this golden
opportunity pass.

Some time after I had returned to England I received a letter from a man
at Stimson (which the Railway Mission used to work from Youngstown),
saying, "Why don't they send us a clergyman? Once a fortnight a service
is held here by howling dervishes, calling themselves Nazarenes, instead
of our dear old Church of England services." In one of the prairie towns
I saw the Holy Rollers' tent erected, and should like to have attended
one of their meetings just to see what they are like; but as I was doing
Anglican Mission work, I feared it might create a wrong impression. I
received a description of the meeting from an eye-witness, however. The
order of procedure is as follows: The preacher gets up and begins to
speak in excited tones, gradually working himself up into a frenzy and
becoming unintelligible. This is contagious, and the audience soon
become frenzied also, finally rolling about the floor--hence the name by
which the sect is known. When the people are in this ecstatic state they
are persuaded to sign cheques for large amounts. The Holy Rollers will
not come to a town unless a considerable sum is first guaranteed, and
this peculiarity of theirs adds point to the settlers' query with regard
to the Anglican clergy. It is dreadful to think of the sheep being left
to these hirelings.

A matter of grave import had come under my notice on the prairie, and I
felt it to be my duty to speak of it to those who were working for the
welfare of the province. The lack of a high spiritual standard, with its
consequent elevated moral tone, is having a gravely deleterious effect
on the children's morality, proving a serious menace to the health of
the community on which the welfare of this new country depends. On this
point I was strongly supported by the wife of one of the members of the
Senate, herself a trained nurse, who had lived for many years on the
prairie, and also by an experienced clergyman and a Sunday School
superintendent. All three gave me permission to use their names if
necessary, and promised to supply corroborative details. They lived in
widely separated districts, thus making their combined evidence of more
value. Whilst in Regina, therefore, I reported to the presidents or
secretaries of the following: The Local Council of Women, The Women
Grain-Growers' Association, The Women Home-makers' Club, and the Social
Service Council, all of which organisations work throughout the
province, and are interdenominational.

The secretary of the Social Service Council asked me to give a report of
our work on the prairie to the Interdenominational Sunday School Council
for the province. I was very glad to be present at this council, because
I learnt so much. We discussed methods and organisation, not doctrine.
It was most interesting to hear about the camps and clubs which they
hold for adolescent boys and girls. When I gave an account of our
caravan tour I took the opportunity of drawing attention to the moral
question, and emphasised my belief that on this matter all the Churches
should co-operate.

I sent a report of my work to Dr. Hiltz, which he read to the Executive
Committee of the Board of Religious Education. They were good enough to
show interest in the matter, and suggested that the Western Field
Secretary should inquire what the diocese of Qu'Appelle thought of the
scheme, and if the report were favourable he should try to develop the
scheme in other Western dioceses.

Meanwhile Miss Margaret West, who had been trained at St. Christopher's
and had been working in the diocese of Ottawa, became Diocesan Field
Supervisor for Qu'Appelle. She lectured and gave demonstration lessons
in Regina, and acted as secretary for the Sunday School by Post. When I
suggested it, she expressed herself as quite ready to go out on the
prairie in the spring of 1921, but she could not drive the caravan. I
inquired of the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance in Canada if there were
any ex-service girls who could drive caravans, and they replied that
very few had volunteered to drive in France, and those who had done so
were now dispersed and could not be communicated with. I then applied to
various organisations in touch with ex-service women, and received a
list of women who had driven motor ambulances or transports in France,
but all of them wanted their expenses paid and most of them needed a
small salary. There was no fund as yet, but through the "Recruiting
Committee for Service in the Kingdom of God" I was fortunate in finding
an honorary worker, who would pay all her own expenses. This was Miss
Higginbotham, who had driven a car for years, and had also driven a Ford
in France for the Y.M.C.A. and the Church Army, as well as doing canteen
work.

Miss Higginbotham joined Miss West in the spring of 1921, taking out
with her a large number of books and several thousand pictures which I
was sending for distribution. They arranged to visit a very large
district, comprising many more places than we had visited. At the end of
the season Miss West wrote: "I have about 200 members collected this
year for the Sunday School by Post . . . the children need the A.B.C. of
the Faith . . . they are astonishingly ignorant but very nice to teach,
so appreciative of one's efforts and so ready to learn . . . I enjoyed
the summer very much--the people were very kind." They had many
adventures similar to ours in mud holes and thunderstorms, and also
received similar kindness and hospitality. In the _Bishop's Leaflet_ for
the diocese of Qu'Appelle (December, 1921) a summary of their work is
given, which ends thus:

"What are the results of this itinerary? The Diocesan Field Supervisor
has gained an intimate knowledge of the needs and difficulties of the
prairie town Sunday Schools and has got into touch with many of the
teachers, so that she is now in a better position to give assistance.
Also nearly 200 boys and girls living in districts where there is no
Church of England Sunday School have been enrolled in the Sunday School
by Post and are now receiving regular instruction in the Faith of the
Church."

In a letter dated April 26, 1921, Dr. Hiltz gave us the following
encouragement: "At the meeting of the Executive Committee held last
Friday I read extracts of your latest letter telling of the plans for
1921. The Committee was very much interested, and I have much pleasure
in forwarding to you the enclosed resolution, which will give you some
idea of the attitude of our Executive towards the work which has been
done." The resolution was as follows: "That this Committee desires to
express its great appreciation of the work done in the diocese of
Qu'Appelle by Miss Hasell and Miss Ticehurst during the summer of 1920,
and rejoices to learn that the work is to be continued during the summer
of 1921 by Miss West and Miss Higginbotham. The Committee thanks these
ladies for their great help, and commends their spirit and
self-sacrifice for the emulation of the whole Church."

Dr. Hiltz added that he was calling the attention of the General Synod
to the caravan plan. (The General Synod consists of the four
Archbishops, all the bishops and clergy, and certain representative
laymen from each diocese of the Dominion.)

The following extracts are from the Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the
General Board of Religious Education of the Church of England in Canada,
October, 1921.

From the Report of the General Secretary:

    "_Diocesan Conference and Synods._--A feature of all the
    conferences and synods attended, was the outspoken conviction of
    the Bishops and officers of the dioceses of the urgent necessity
    for the immediate increase of effort in the training of the
    children of the Church in the Faith of their fathers. The Bishop
    of New Westminster . . . cited the fact that communistic leaders
    in Great Britain and Europe recognised the strategic importance
    of influencing the young, and had established Sunday Schools for
    propagating their doctrines. The Bishop urged that the Church
    must not be less alive to a great basal principle.

    "Without doubt, the present is a critical period in the life of
    our Church in the West. The great dearth of clergy has left many
    parishes, formerly occupied, without Sunday Schools or any other
    Church organisation. The Church of the future, in the country
    districts of the West, will be the Church that will now go into
    these fields and train and enfold the young."

    "_The Caravan Plan._--The Executive Committee asked for a
    report on the use of the caravan for religious educational work
    in the prairie dioceses. There can be no question that the van
    can be used to accomplish great results. . . . The van idea is
    rapidly gaining ground. Qu'Appelle Diocese has three vans at
    work, one of which is for purposes of religious education alone.
    Saskatchewan Diocese secured a fine new van this year, which is
    being operated for general missionary work. From experience this
    summer, the Field Secretary is prepared to recommend its use to
    every diocese that may be prepared to man and use it in
    scattered missionary districts.

    "A van or motor-car, under the direction of the Field Secretary,
    could be utilised to good purpose in our work. Two competent
    lady-workers in Calgary volunteered for field work during July,
    but we had no means of sending them out. A motor could have been
    used steadily during August, and it could be sent on special
    missions into other dioceses."

From the Report of the Executive Committee:

    "_The Caravan Plan for Reaching Sparsely-Settled
    Districts._--Following up the suggestions of the Board at its
    last meeting, the General Secretary communicated with several
    persons in the Diocese of Qu'Appelle, with a view to finding out
    how far, in their judgment, the Caravan Plan, as used by Miss
    Hasell and Miss Ticehurst, had proved successful.

    "The consensus of opinion was that the results were good, but
    could only be made permanent by a regular system of
    visitations. . . .

    "The Western Field Secretary has had an opportunity during the
    summer to investigate this work, and has been doing some
    experimenting in the Diocese of Calgary. The Diocese of
    Qu'Appelle also tried out the plan again this past summer under
    the direction of Miss West.

    "As a result of the investigations of the Field Secretary, he
    recommends that the plan be adopted in every diocese that is
    prepared to man and use the van properly in scattered missionary
    districts."

From the Report of the Parochial Department, under the heading, _Council
on Rural Schools_: "In one Western diocese the Sunday School caravan
similar to the mission van has proved of great value to the work of
rural schools."

From the above it will be seen that the caravan scheme supplies a felt
need, and as ex-students of St. Christopher's and ex-service girls have
volunteered, the only hindrance is lack of funds.[8]

As showing the approval which this work has received from the Church's
representatives, I may add that the Bishops of Saskatchewan and Calgary
have both invited me to work a van in their dioceses in 1922.

It was a bitter disappointment to me to be unable to talk over the
results of our work with Aylmer Bosanquet, for it was she who originated
the scheme, and she would have delighted in the details of its working.
But she was in British Columbia when I returned from the prairie, so all
I could do was to write her a full report, and keep her in touch with
all the developments of the work. She soon grew too weak to write
herself, but her interest never flagged, and she dictated most
encouraging and stimulating letters. She passed away on Shrove Tuesday,
February, 1921.

She was a true missionary, with a gracious and loving personality. She
had a definite call and followed it. This led her to exchange a life of
luxury for one of hardship, and to expend much of her wealth in the
service of God. She laboured unceasingly, and with a vision which seemed
to leave a living impress on all with whom she came in contact, and
inspired them to greater heights of devotion and service. As the lessons
of childhood are indelibly engraven on the mind, there must be many
prairie children who will bless her name in after life for the imprint
she left upon them. She had a statesmanlike grasp of the trend of
events, and lived to do a wonderful work in Western Canada, pointing to
lofty ideals and raising the standard of public opinion in this young
and growing country, not only from the Church point of view, but also
from the Imperial standpoint.

She has been one of the glorious instruments used in helping to bring
about God's purpose, that "the earth shall be filled with the glory of
God as the waters cover the sea."

[Footnote 8: See Appendix IV.]



  APPENDIX


  I.

The Fellowship of the Maple Leaf was started under the directorship of
Dr. G. E. Lloyd[9] in order to remedy the great shortage of teachers in
Western Canada. It aims at enlisting Englishwomen who are not merely
taking up teaching as a livelihood, but who are "willing to do something
beyond what they are paid to do, for the sake of Church and Empire."
Their object is the building up of character and the development of
loyalty to the Empire, and they are to go specially to the prairie
schools among the foreign population (now called the New Canadians),
many of whom cannot speak English. The problem is--What can be done to
make the un-English settlers British in sentiment? Wherever immigration
spreads over the new territory, there, in two or three years' time,
appear the little country schools, built by the settlers out of the
rates and taxes, or from bonds guaranteed by the Provincial Government.
All the children of the district, from four miles on either side, go to
that school. In Saskatchewan alone three hundred new schools were built
in 1915, five hundred the year before, and more than six hundred in the
year before the War. Not only do these hundreds of new schools need
teachers, but there is a continual thinning of the ranks as teachers go
on to other professions or the women teachers marry. Many of the
leading men in Canada have taught in these little one-teacher schools at
the beginning of their career--such men as Sir Robert Bordon, Sir
Wilfrid Laurier, Sir Sam Hughes, and Sir George Forster.

The demand for teachers in these schools is so great that very many
non-British persons are accepted, and it is, to say the least, very
unlikely that such persons can or will train these young British
subjects as Britain would have them trained. It follows that there is
here a magnificent opportunity for patriotic young Englishwomen. They
would also be able to help the children of those isolated Anglicans who
have no resident clergyman, as well as the mixed populations of
"anybody's people." Of course, no Church of England doctrine or any
other doctrine may be taught in the day schools. These are Government
schools, and every religion has an equal right there. But much may be
done out of school hours.

Anyone can be a teacher who can pass the Government test and who takes a
short "Method" course in the Normal School. If she has any practical
experience of teaching she may obtain a "Provisional Certificate," and
begin to teach at once, taking the Method Course later on when the
prairie schools are closed in winter. The teachers are paid a fair
salary. The lowest is about £14 a month, ranging up to £45 in the towns
for head teachers. The higher stipends, of course, are for those who
make teaching their life-work. Any further particulars may be obtained
from the Rev. P. J. Andrews, Secretary, The Fellowship of the Maple
Leaf, 13, Victoria Street, Westminster, S.W. 1.


  II.

The present hospital arrangements in the prairie provinces are as
follows: The Regina Railway Mission started hospitals in a few of the
little towns where they had established missions, and some of the
municipal councils took up the matter and opened a great many more. But
there are no free hospitals in the West. A patient's expenses are about
22s. a day (five or six dollars), which makes a hospital prohibitive
for most. Many farms are miles away from any sort of medical or surgical
attendance, and as the farmer's wife has generally no one to help her
with her house and children, she can seldom, if ever, go away into
hospital for her confinements, and at these times often has no one with
her except her husband. Of course, all goes well sometimes, but it is
obvious that child and mother must suffer should complications arise. I
met a great many farmers' wives in outlying districts whose health had
been ruined through lack of skilled attention at these critical times.

There is a splendid opening here for ex-V.A.D.'s. The Social Service
Council of Saskatchewan is offering free training in a municipal
hospital to any V.A.D., after which she would go out to the farms as a
nursing housekeeper, her work being to give the mother professional
attention and to keep the home running while she is laid up. She would
need some knowledge of the domestic arts, such as washing and cooking.
Her work would be similar to that of a village district nurse in
England, only she would have but one family under her care at a time. It
should be added that the father of a family helps a great deal in the
house. These nursing housekeepers would be paid $17 to $20 per week,
just half the salary of a graduate nurse. Thus they would be earning a
good income and at the same time doing a noble work. In this new country
the health of the mothers and children is of supreme importance.

Applications for further particulars about nursing housekeepers may be
made to the following secretaries for Social Service: Mr. W. J. Stewart
and Mr. W. P. Reckie, 45, Canada Life Building, Regina, Saskatchewan,
Western Canada.


  III.

The Women's Auxiliary is the women's branch of the Anglican Church
Missionary Society for Canada. There are members in every district, and
they work magnificently for the cause, raising enormous sums of money.
One place, which had only three members, made about $300 in the year
(about £60 or £70). They get money by sewing meetings, teas, and social
gatherings. The money is used first for the parish, to build or furnish
the vicarage house, and supply church furnishings, etc., and then to
help the work among non-Christians, both in Canada and overseas.


  IV.

The cost of a caravan is £316 ($1,250); running expenses, £40 ($160);
passage out and travelling expenses, about £50, but for ex-service
girls, who can get a free passage, £29; board and lodging on the prairie
for five or six months, about £40; board and lodging in Regina, between
£3 and £4 a week ($15). Donations may be made payable to Miss Eva
Hasell, Canada Mission Account, London, City, and Midland Bank, Penrith,
Cumberland. A sum of more than £300 has already been contributed.

[Footnote 9: Now Bishop of Saskatchewan.]


  PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY
  BILLING AND SONS, LTD., GUILDFORD AND ESHER


  =Transcriber's Notes:=
  original hyphenation, spelling and grammar have been preserved as in
    the original
  Page 36, "hers a mystery" changed to "hers is a mystery"
  Page 61, "The Canadian casualities" changed to "The Canadian casualties"
  Page 62, "sand drift near" changed to "sand-drift near"
  Page 62, "3,000 miles" changed to "3,000 square miles"
  Page 90, "Michaelmas daises" changed to "Michaelmas daisies"
  Page 114, "here for ex-V.A.D's" changed to "here for ex-V.A.D.'s"





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