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Title: Romantic Canada
Author: Hayward, Victoria
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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                            ROMANTIC CANADA

                      [Illustration: THE SHRINE.]



                            ROMANTIC CANADA

                                  BY
                           VICTORIA HAYWARD

                     ILLUSTRATED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS
                                  BY
                            EDITH S. WATSON

                        WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY
                           EDWARD J. O’BRIEN

                    TORONTO: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                 OF CANADA, LTD. AT ST. MARTIN’S HOUSE
                                 1922

                      Copyright, Canada, 1922, by

               THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LIMITED

                                Toronto



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE

List of Illustrations                                                vii

Publisher’s Foreword                                                  xi

Introduction                                                        xiii


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

I Nova Scotia                                                          1

II Barrels                                                             9

III ’Longshoremen                                                     15

IV Sea-Coast Homes of the Maritime Provinces                          21

V Low Tide in the Bay of Fundy                                        29

VI Cape Breton                                                        35

VII Newfoundland                                                      41

VIII Labrador                                                         49

IX Saint Pierre et Miquelon                                           57

X Quebec                                                              65

XI Les Iles De Madeleine “The Necklace”                               75

XII Percé                                                             85

XIII Wayside Crosses and Garden Shrines                               93

XIV Saint Anne L’Eglise                                              101

XV M. Jobin                                                          109

XVI Romance of the Two-Wheeled Cart                                  121

XVII Bubble, Bubble, Bubble                                          131

XVIII Woodcarving                                                    137

XIX Indian Lorette                                                   145

XX The Abenaki Basket-Makers                                         153

XXI “To Market, To Market”                                           163

XXII Ontario                                                         169

XXIII Ontario Continued                                              175

XXIV The Prairie                                                     183

XXV Romance Clings to the Skirts of Winnipeg                         189

XXVI Mine Host--The Mennonite                                        199

XXVII The Pas: Gateway of the Great Northland                        207

XXVIII British Columbia                                              215

XXIX The Doukhobors: a Community Race in Canada                      223

XXX Doukhobors: a Community Race--Continued                          231

XXXI Steveston                                                       237

XXXII The Indians of Alert Bay                                       243



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


The Shrine                                                 _Frontispiece_

                                                                  FACING
                                                                    PAGE

Her Daily Portion                                                      4

“How’s Fish?”                                                          5

Interior of an Apple-Barrel Cooperage in the Valley of the Gaspereau  12

In the Orchard                                                        13

Tarring the Boat                                                      18

A Nonogenarian Grandfather Placidly Catching up the Meshes of
  an Old Net                                                          19

Within Sight of Home, Sambro, Nova Scotia                             24

Door-way of the Lighthouse-keeper’s Home at Cape Sharp, Nova Scotia   25

In the Raquette, Digby, Nova Scotia                                   32

The Bay of Fundy is the Greatest Natural Drydock in the World         33

On the “Gallery”                                                      38

Boyhood Dreams of the Day when “their Turn Will Come”                 39

Fit Subject for a Millet                                              40

Dusk, South Bay, Ingonish                                             41

Belleoram                                                             44

Path End                                                              45

The Water-Carrier                                                     48

Knitting                                                              49

Hearty at Eighty                                                      52

An Eskimo Grandmother                                                 53

Nearing the End                                                       60

An Island-woman of Saint Pierre et Miquelon                           61

The Rag Mat                                                           68

Spinning                                                              69

Tadousac has Lost None of its Scenic Beauty                           72

An Old Trading-Post at Baie St. Paul                                  73

The Wool for the Homemade Looms is Grown on the Sheep Grazing
  on the Slopes of Les Demoiselles                                    76

Seumas O’Brien, Author and Sculptor                                   77

The Sampler                                                           80

The Lassie with Breton Cap                                            81

At Percé on the Gaspé Coast                                           88

A Little Angler                                                       89

La Croix, the Age-old Milestone of the Quebec Highway                 96

La Calvaire                                                           97

In a Convent Garden                                                  104

Saint Anne de Beaupré! Saint Anne L’Eglise! The Capital of the
  Faith--the Place of the Miracle                                    105

M. Louis Jobin in his Work Shop                                      112

Many of the Seats in these Tiny Carts are built up so that the Driver
  Sits above his “Horse”                                             124

Bad Roads, or no Roads at all never Betray the Ox into the Ditch     125

A Wayside Pot                                                        134

Call of the Sea                                                      140

The Figure on the Bow                                                141

Family Graves                                                        148

The Snowshoe                                                         149

The Twickenham of Canada                                             156

“Pour Madame’s Boudoir”                                              157

Stepping Stones                                                      164

The Flower of St. Roch’s                                             165

An Old Ontario Homestead                                             172

Ontario, a Land of Campers and Camp-Fires                            173

View from His Britannic Majesty, George III’s Chapel to the
  Mohawks, near Brantford                                            176

Fort Mississauga, Niagara-on-the-Lake                                177

Home of Alexander Graham Bell                                        180

On the Canal                                                         181

Canada, “the Bread-Mother” of the World                              184

Steady, There!                                                       185

“The Stooker,” as the Prairie Calls Him                              188

At the Window                                                        192

“... And There in the Cucumber Field is Old Kitty”                   193

A “Knight of the Field” Defending the Wheat                          196

Foot Bridge to Trappist Monastery, Saint Norbert                     197

Curing a Pelt, which, Sooner or Later, Graces the Shoulders
  of Some Lady of the Land                                           200

On the Girls’ Side                                                   201

Kaslo After Rain                                                     208

Mountain Goats, Snowflakes Against the Blue Sky                      209

A Madonna of the Kootenays                                           216

Drawing Water from the Columbia                                      217

In a Community Door Yard                                             224

Doukhobor Women Winnowing                                            225

Domesticity                                                          228

Pulling Flax                                                         230

Washing Flax in the Columbia                                         231

Close of the Season                                                  236

Chrysanthemums a-bloom by a Steveston Doorway                        237

The Family Tree of the Pacific Coast Indians                         248

Spirit of the Untamed                                                249



PUBLISHER’S FOREWORD


We are proud to announce what we think will come to be regarded as a
really outstanding book of travel. We think it fitting that the first
important book in this category which we have published should treat of
our own country.

“Romantic Canada” aims to give, and from the hands of two women
singularly fitted to give it, the story of Canada in the romance of its
simple industries simply accomplished. It gives the story, in word and
in picture, of all sorts and conditions of folk, as they are to be found
in the faraway and little-visited territories of the Dominion. Author
and artist have left the beaten track, for it is in the highways and
by-ways that this particular Canada, which is passing as we grow in
population, and as steel links territory to territory the more easily
and the more quickly, is to be found. The photographs and discussion of
this hinterland of Canada are quite unique in the history of Canadian
literature and photographic art.

The author and artist have gone from Canadian coast to Canadian coast.
They have thought it not unwise also to include matter descriptive of
their travels in Labrador and Newfoundland.

The author and artist and ourselves desire to say “Thank you” to all
those who have helped to make this book what it is. Specifically we are
indebted to “Asia, the Magazine of the Asiatic Society”, for permission
to reproduce the photographs bearing the captions “Domesticity” and
“Pulling Flax”; to the “Century Magazine” in the same regard as to
“Hearty at Eighty”, “Island Woman of St. Pierre et Miquelon”, and “The
Figure on the Bow”; to “Town and Country”, as to “Fort Mississauga”, and
“View from His Britannic Majesty George III’s Chapel to the Mohawks,
near Brantford”; to the “Canadian Home Journal” as to “Early Home of
Alexander Graham Bell”, and “Drawing Water from the Columbia”; and to
the Toronto “Saturday Night” as to “An Old Ontario Homestead”.

We are also vastly indebted to the editor and proprietors of “The
Canadian Magazine”.



INTRODUCTION.

By Edward J. O’Brien.


It is a happy comradeship which has made this interesting volume
possible. Those who know and love the by-ways of Canada have frequently
encountered Miss Watson and Miss Hayward in the pursuit of a
self-imposed task. Hardly a task we should call it, but a delight, to
record with the camera and the pen those unique and beautiful racial
traditions which have survived in Canada and flourished, while the
passion for conformity to a provincial process of standardization has
crushed them in the United States. In Canada, the Scottish Highlander,
the Acadian, and the Doukhobor, for example, have not been compelled to
abandon their memories. The life of their forefathers has flourished
when transplanted to a new soil. That wise tolerance and appreciative
catholicity which is not always found in a new land has preserved old
loveliness here, and the magic of Miss Watson’s camera has arrested this
beauty at many significant moments.

I have more than once had occasion to allude to the invaluable labours
of Mr. C. M. Barbeau in harvesting the folksongs and tales of Quebec and
Ontario. Although the general public may not realize it, he is
conferring a new literature upon Canada and adding rich chapters to her
imaginative history. Well, these pictures with their fine sense of
composition and warm human values provide this literature with its just
setting, and the social record they afford is of permanent significance.
The quality of life changes even in a generation, and those who may turn
over the leaves of this book a century from now will know, as they could
not otherwise have known, what beautiful life has flourished in hidden
places.

The Magdalen Islands, for example, are an unknown land to Canadian city
dwellers. The service of Miss Watson and Miss Hayward in introducing
them alone to those who have never visited them is one for which any
happy traveller should be very grateful.

Cambridge, England.



ROMANTIC CANADA



CHAPTER I.

NOVA SCOTIA.


_No call sounded...._


No call sounded by the pipes of this New Era is more insistent than that
of the Canadian Sea-coast. One sometimes wonders if Canadians as a whole
even yet realize the important gift bestowed, when Heaven gave to Canada
so magnificent a coastline as that which the constant sword-play
of land and sea traces from Saint John, New Brunswick, to the
Newfoundland-Labrador Boundary? The map of Eastern Canada is “a study in
charts” worthy of closest attention. For it is here the Dominion rings
up the outside world.

But to get the real “lay of the land”, the true spirit of its people,
one must not be a stay-at-home, a mere map-student only, but a follower
of the Piper leading by the ’longshore road through New Brunswick, Nova
Scotia, Cape Breton, and Prince Edward Island. Canadians must be able to
say, “these are our Maritime Provinces”, and say it with a pleasurable,
personal, as well as deep, national sense. And visitors from other lands
must be able to become personally possessive if they are to enjoy the
life etched quaintly enough of Grand Pré, of the Valley of the
Gaspereau, of the bonnie Hielands o’ Cape Breton. One hardly sets foot
in any part of this long stretch, without being at once conscious that
the sea invades all the life of Bluenose-land, that the marine spirit is
here in a beautiful, intimate sense, like the figurehead on a ship, both
soul and mascot of the “half-island”.

Sailing-vessels in themselves, are _genre_ crowding the Nova Scotia
stage. Her earliest discoverer came hither, over the sea, in the
picturesque craft of a Norse Dragon-ship. And the immediate chapters of
her history, after these half-shadowy voyages of the Norsemen, were
written by Basque and Breton fishboats a-sail, drawn across the Atlantic
Ocean in the wake of Cod.

Cod is still, more than ever, King in Bluenoseland and beyond. Over all
the vast stretch of the Canadian “Maritime” his huge fleet holds sway.
And what is so romantic as a fleet-winged schooner speeding away under
full sail on her voyage to the Banks? Unless it be the one coming in,
her decks almost awash, with the full load? Oars and sails, and the
tripping bows of the Dragon-ships and Breton bateaux founded this long
line of “Bankers” and Dories--laid the foundation of Nova Scotia’s
talent for ship-building. The “gift” which turned out the big
square-riggers from the Hantsport and Parrsboro “ways” was a natural
sequence of the maritime beginning of this land, where thought turns so
naturally to the sea, and to sea-power. It was those wooden
wind-jammers, wind-jammers with mere boat-beginnings, which paved the
way to the ocean-greyhounds which now home true to Halifax and Saint
John. Oh, the “Maritime” is the life-blood of Nova Scotian and
Newfoundlander.

Halifax is the heart of the Marine circulatory system. And serving
Halifax with fish for re-shipment, are innumerable little Havens and
Outports, all up and down Saint Margaret’s Bay, Spry Bay, the Gut of
Canso, and along the vast stretch reaching to Souris, P.E.I., and Havre
Aubert in Les Madeleines. And in each of these little Outports there is,
of course, a family behind every little “dory”. The morning greeting
among all these people is not, “Good Day!” but, “How’s Fish?” To these
coastal families, Halifax is not a mere cold city of business, but a
“mother” to whom they can turn with the catch, be it great or small, and
ask bread.

And so, in a morning spent on the Halifax waterfront, the lifting fog
reveals schooner after schooner snugly riding against the old wet piers
that artists love, or idly floating into dock amid harbour reflections,
weathered spars and mildewed sails a-drip. Sometimes there is a clump of
these schooners hitched together, all discharging at the same time. So
in a single morning at a fish-receiving wharf here, we have chatted with
skipper from Newfoundland, skipper from the Madeleine Islands in the
Gulf, and skipper from Prince Edward Island, and not moved from the one
dock.

Codfish overflows the roofs in the final stages of the drying, and lies
upturned to the sun almost under the shadow of city cathedrals. And here
on the wharves is an army of men and boys, the coopers and brine-mixers,
moving about from barrel to barrel of mackerel, mending leaks and
otherwise putting them in shape for trans-shipment; and over there,
overflowing the basement of some old warehouse, the half and whole
drums, called-for by the cod a-drying on the roof. Old scales are
trundled back and forth to this schooner and that, as the flying cod
hurtles through the air, hurled by some unseen hand at work in the hold
of the “Nancy Ann”, “The Village Leaf”, or the schooner, “Passport.”

[Illustration:

HER DAILY PORTION]

[Illustration:

“HOW’S FISH?”]

In sharp contrast to the fish-schooners is the brig, brigantine, or
barque, painted white, with water-casks the last thing in paint and
fancy designs on deck. She is discharging hogsheads of molasses brought
from Barbadoes or other of the British West Indies. Molasses has played
its part and commandeered the sailing vessel of the Bluenose fleet from
the earliest times. For in the rationing of the sea-craft up and down
the coast molasses was the “sweetening”; and old-timers to this day
prefer it to sugar.

       *       *       *       *       *

In addition to her fishing industry and tale of ships, Nova Scotia
enjoys a pastoral side no less rich in _genre_. Farms are here. In
following the highways and little by-paths rambling among apple orchards
and gardens, potato fields and hay meadows--paths etched in Spring by
the pink flush of apple-blossoms, or in autumn by boughs curving to
earth under weight of rosy Baldwins or creamy Bellefleurs--one follows
everywhere hard on the heels of romance. It is her hand that beckons
into every little cottage snugly tucked away in valley and glen; where
every grandmother sitting carding, spinning, hooking rugs, knitting or
reading her daily portion of Scripture, can keep you entertained with
tales and the recounting of interesting happenings and not go outside
the range of the half-dozen houses which have been her little world for
more than half a century.

Along these roads and about these inland homes, friendly old willows
mingle atmospherically with tall and stately Lombardy poplars. It is on
these uplands of Nova Scotia one follows the old Post-roads--roads that
recall the dashing coach of other days and still cross rivers by old
covered-bridges, and preserve the quaint, rambling old houses that
served as Inns where passengers of old sought refreshment, or spent the
night, while waiting to make connections with the coach to this or that
objective.

Sitting down by the roadside to rest, some old-timer driving a span of
oxen and urging them along with an apple-bough goad, is sure to come
along and enter into conversation in that happy way which is half the
charm of adventuring by Nova Scotia highways. This old farmer-carter
well remembers Harry Killcup, the Robin Hood-Jehu of the Post-road from
Annapolis Royal to Halifax. He relates how Harry was talking to a girl
and didn’t pay attention to his horses, and drove them too near the edge
of the bridge and they fell over, dragging the coach with them. “The
river was in flood, too, but Harry managed to get the girl clear of the
wreckage, and saved her, but the young man, with whom she travelled, was
drowned.” It sounds like a movie stunt in the cold light of to-day,
whereas, in fact, it was Victorian realism and a typical incident of the
dashing times of the chaise in which Sam Slick engaged a permanent seat
in that other “chaise of Canadian literature” by which Judge Haliburton
eventually established his name in Canada’s Hall of Fame. The events
live very graphically before you as recited by this old eye-witness;
who, with many a “gee” and “whoa there”, again starts his oxen on the
way.

To the period of the Post Road belongs that old landmark of time and the
road, Grand Pré Church, outstanding figure of the countryside in which
dwelt Evangeline and her people. In order to catch its romantic spirit,
the time to see Grand Pré church is in the evening, when there is just a
wee flare of daylight and a soft mist arises from the waters of Minas,
shedding itself like a diaphanous veil over the land, as one strolls up
the country-road that comes through the village from the North, under
willows and poplars, to the door of the old church and then rambles off
to the South between clover fields and stacks of hay; the hay resembling
Hottentot villages outlined against the ashes-of-roses sky. It is at
dusk, that the rather austere lines of window, tower and roof lose their
sharp, almost Quaker-like severity. It is at that hour that the old
stones of the graveyard become time-softened, ivory-tinted pages of
history assembled under the stately poplars. Inside the church, in the
strong, simple lines of its painted box-pews and high pulpit; in the old
gallery; and in the square windows with little panes, there is the
quaint atmosphere which clings especially to old churches of the early
Colonial Period. Sitting in these old pews during service is to be
carried away on the wings of history to a pivotal point, whence to
behold a Cyclorama of all Canada. To the left, on this great
canvas--Glooscap and Micmac; succeeded by crude Breton and Portuguese
fishermen in their strange _bateaux_; followed by stirring panels of
Annapolis Royal and Louisburg, contrasted against panels of tenacious
pioneer Scotch and English settlers; in the next, _the clash_ between
France and England for supremacy, not alone in this sweet countryside of
Grand Pré, but in every other contained in the word Canada. These are
followed by a panel of United Empire Loyalists--very realistic this,
because, in the village, you have just been looking at an old
oil-painting of Colonel Crane and fingering his fine old sword, that
never wavered in its allegiance.

The other half of the Cycle, begins the New Order. First, a symbolic
figure of the stream of emigration flowing through the Maritime Gate to
the great Canadian West, followed by prairie scenes and mountain peaks,
mining scenes, cattle scenes, tawny grain, and Trans-Canada trains,
sisters of “Glooscap”, and “The Flying Bluenose”. That, is Grand Pré
Church--a link between the Past and the Present.



CHAPTER II.

BARRELS.


_One often wonders...._


One often wonders what it is in handmade things that warms the heart and
enkindles the imagination? It is evident that the charm is there
regardless of the value of the object. Perhaps the attraction lies in
the human story, the life, the thought and care, that collected the
material, conceived the form and colour of the object to be made, and
then put it together. How else could the barrels discovered everywhere
at harvest time in Bluenoseland be considered romantic? Yet that romance
sits on every barrel-head in the Gaspereau Valley, in Paradise,
’longshore from Lunenburg to Sydney, and on the wharves at Halifax, no
one who has seen them, would ever doubt. Trade, itself, here waits on
the barrel. How can apples go to market if there be no barrel? Lives
there a man who has ever heard of shipping potatoes in a--box? How could
mackerel swim in brine, out of Halifax, to the ports of the world, were
it not for the barrel? “Why, business just leans on a barrel-stave down
our way,” a witty merchant of these parts was once heard to exclaim.

Each trade calls for a different barrel. There is a barrel for apples,
another for potatoes, and still a third for the fish. And, behind each
barrel stands the--Cooper--a character in the Gaspereau Valley. And
housing the Cooper and his quaint trade, every so often, voyaging along
these sweet country roads, one happens on the “Cooperage”, always a
landmark of its neighbourhood.

Stepping into the door of a cooperage, one is met by the smell of
scorching wood and the smoke thereof. Through the smoke, and bending
over the barrel, whence it comes, behold, the cooper! Plenty of finished
barrels stand about in the large room. The cooper nods his head toward
one of them and we step quietly to the proffered seat. For a moment, one
fears that the cooper will stop work to talk, and the spell be broken.
But no, he goes on. In the “tub” or “jack”, with a groove in the bottom,
he places new staves in a large iron ring or hoop the size of the barrel
to be made. About the staves, creaking as the tourniquet is twisted
tighter and tighter, a stout piece of Manilla rope slowly draws each
stave to its fellow and all into a perfect round. Tauter and tauter the
rope is wound, long after you think the breaking point has been reached.
Then one’s eyes are drawn from the barrel to the man. His eye is like
an eagle’s for clarity. He has forgotten everything in the world but the
barrel. The tension in the room is so great one could hear a pin fall.
Then, the hand relaxes, the spell is broken, the barrel is “set up”.
Afterward, the barrel, having no bottom or head in it as yet, is set
over the drum-stove in which there is a fire. And while it scorches and
dries and toasts a golden brown on the inside, the cooper talks a
little, turning the barrel. He “cut the birch boughs that make the
hoops, from the woods, in winter, in the slack season when time hangs
heavy.” No, “he does not work-up the staves.” Buys them from a sawmill
down the road (the direction of the mill being indicated by a sweep of
the arm). Keeps them for a time, to season the wood. So with the bundles
of split birches. Then following his eye glancing aloft, one sees the
ceiling, hung with the straight, tobacco-brown withes afforded by the
Nova Scotia woods, especially provided of Nature it would seem, to gird
up the sticks of dumb wood over in the corner into--staves.

       *       *       *       *       *

The smell of the scorching barrel by this time fills the cooperage with
its own peculiar perfume anew, like puffs of incense, from a censor
replenished. Now the cooper turns again to his work, visitors out of
mind. He lifts the barrel over the head of the stove, selects an adze
and a split birch-wand. In a twinkling, a curve is swept around the
barrel and with the eye alone, expert measurement is taken of the long
wood-ribbon. Slish! The adze has cut! Attention is now drawn to a
handmade arrangement into which the cooper is slipping the ribbon. His
foot comes automatically in contact with a treadle and the withe is
turned out, curved permanently. In a twinkling, the adze cuts the little
jib-slit--two of them, one in each end--into which the hoop, now wound
around the barrel has its ends locked forever. Set like a garland about
the barrel-head the hoop is driven into place, tapped round and round
and round. The inner edges of the staves are now bevelled off; the
groove cut and the head hammered into place. Then on goes the last hoop.
And, presto! The barrel is done and thrown over to one side among two or
three score of its fellows. The cooper puts some of the shavings into
the stove and starts at once, all over again on another barrel. You can
see that in his mind’s eye he carries a vision of score upon score of
waiting orchards, waiting for his barrels, the barrel that he feels it a
moral obligation to supply.

[Illustration:

INTERIOR OF AN APPLE-BARREL COOPERAGE
IN THE VALLEY OF THE GASPEREAU.]

[Illustration:

IN THE ORCHARD.]

How much does he receive in payment for each barrel? Just five cents.
The most expert of these “Old-timers” make as many as eighty barrels a
day, or enough to keep one skilful apple-picker busy from sunrise to
sunset, enough to ensure two full loads to the old cart that looks like
some strange tortoise on the highway.

One could sit here forever and watch, fascinated, the cooper at his
work, so clean, so redolent of the winter landscape in its hand-cut and
split birch rods, the air filled with the peculiar, refreshing incense
of the toasting staves, the barrel all completed in the mind of the
cooper before it materializes in his skilful hand--the barrel, a new
barrel, appearing as if by magic every six minutes. What visions one
sees through the old door of the men who have come in the carts to its
threshold; what tid-bits of news given and received in the half century
since the old cooper picked up his trade by long association with the
cooper ahead of him, and he in his turn from the cooper before him. What
tales the old man could tell, and does, while the barrel toasts. One
wonders why the story-teller has never wandered into this open door and
sat him down on one of these barrel heads.

Riding away from this door, in one of the ox-drawn carts, always
atmospheric and redolent of a romance denied to speedier transportation,
one sets out to follow the barrel into the world, as it were. The ribbon
road curves and turns by streams dashing under spreading willows or
straight as a line it etches its way between rows of stately Lombardy
poplars. We overtake other carts passing Grand Pré Church or standing
idly for the moment before a local smithy, one ox looking as if Nirvana
had descended upon him, while his fellow steps inside and endures the
agony attending the acquisition of a pair of new shoes, the world over.
Past creaking carts we go with oxen straining under full loads on their
way to the large shipping centres of the railroad. It is a countryside
glowing with crimson and yellow, and placid as only autumn that still
lingers in the lap of summer, can be. Presently we come to the orchard
where we would be. And there the family is gathered, laughing and
chatting, waiting for barrels, for orchards and many hands give the
cooper and the carter all they can do to supply them with the
sweet-smelling barrels.

It is a family party, even the baby is here holding an apple in hand.
The family cat rubs its nose on every pair of legs before strolling to
hunt a field mouse. A mother wagers with her lad, willowy as an apple
branch, that she can beat him filling a barrel. Tall ladders, home-made,
loll against the topmost branches of Bellefleur and Baldwin. The father
of the family cuts out the full barrels for a trip to the Station or
Packing house to which he sells. The general conversation may centre
around apples or it may wander off, as it is likely to, into an epic of
hunting, shooting and bringing home the moose John got yesterday. Or, it
may take a turn and become a tale of adventure, telling how Jamie,
coming into the orchard this morning, encountered two bears,
berry-hunting, directly in the path.

In time we board the cart again and roll around to the Packing House.
And one may pick and choose, for the line of the D. A. R. runs through
the heart of the fruit region from Digby to Halifax. And at any of these
stations one comes upon the potato barrels, sisters to the apple
barrels, and also creations of the skilful old individual, the cooper.
We enter, as upon a tide, to behold spreading before the eye a sea of
apples, with cataracts of them pouring into the sorting troughs. And
barrels! Barrels are everywhere. As one goes around these rooms, one
witnesses a sort of transfiguration in the old barrel. No longer is it a
mere barrel but an argosy, bearing Nova Scotia products--apples and
potatoes--on the high tide of Trade into the ports of the world. Here is
a group of barrels, tripping it to London. This is by far the largest
group, Great Britain being the largest “Foreign?” market for the Nova
Scotia apple. The barrel must be a strong one that carries the fruit
across ocean and through fog, to the markets of England. There is a
group marked “inland Canada” and these individual barrels must travel
far. And still other groups with the impress of “South Africa” and
“South America,” where not the barrels alone must suffer hard usage but
in the latter case the apples themselves grilled by the change of
language, lose their English name and become--Manzana.

It takes some three or four million barrels to supply the demand made on
them by the potato and apple crops alone, of Nova Scotia; not to speak
of the fish which demands a barrel, and hence a cooper, of its own. What
wonder if the barrel be called “a character” in the land, and if
business leans upon it, as upon a staff of life?



CHAPTER III.

‘LONGSHOREMEN.


_Standing firmly behind...._


Standing firmly behind the craft, whether large or small, that crown
both Bluenose Fishing and Bluenose Foreign Trade with success, is an
army of men and boys heterogeneously grouped together as ’Longshoremen.
We find them in each and every village-by-the-sea, wherever there is a
boat. Here is a caulker, there a tar-boiler and pitch-runner, an old
knitter of fishnet, an old sailmaker--needle and “palm”, in hand--a
woodcarver, an oakum-picker, an old boat-builder, “the weather prophet”,
and all the old fellows who lend a hand when a heavy boat is to be
hauled up the beach, or to be pushed into the sea again. In the
evolution of coastal-life these men are amphibious. In their youth they
went to sea, but in old-age they retired, not to idleness, but to uphold
what is known in the trade, as the “Shore-end” of fishing.

As one follows the long coastal road macadamized by the Maritime, the
‘Longshore men and the ‘Longshore women afford some of the most
picturesque _genre_ encountered anywhere in all Canada. They are unique,
in that in every individual case, the product is “the Sea-coast’s Own”.
And no two of them are exactly alike. They not only mend and reinforce,
tar and paint, but they are the Historians, the Spinners-and-Weavers of
Traditions, the story-tellers, that keep alive in the hearts of their
listeners the sea-spirit--without which, ships are useless. And so, some
morning, when you come along over the cliffs, and see a smoke, black as
the traditional pine-cone over Vesuvius before the burial of Pompeii,
you know that some old fisherman and his pals are tarring the old boat.

The old boat that calls for tar is certainly a personality. Coming
nearer, and taking care to keep to windward, you stalk this group and
watch. First there is the fiery cauldron, that is the Tar-pot, above its
blaze of driftwood, with its own special attendant, looking like a
Prince of Darkness, wielding the long-handled dipper; and at a little
distance by the boat two other figures with long brushes, calling for
ladles of tar. Good and thick they lay it into the old seams and over
the old plank, the smoke pouring upward like smoke of incense, offered
on the altar of the great out-of-doors.

Such scenes are imminently in danger of passing out of Canadian life.
For the old boat that calls for tar, and “the old-timer” that believes
in it, are everywhere giving way before the modern gasoline-driven
launch--“Gasolener” the Newfoundlanders call it--with “speed” written
all over it, and in its tanks “Power” to laugh in the face of gales and
head winds. But whereas the “gasolener” may boast of these things, she
can never boast of the atmosphere and spirit of romance emanating from
such a scene as--“The tarring of the Old Boat.”

The men who tar the boat to-day may have turned their hands to something
else by to-morrow. On fine days the old sails are spread out on the
beach to dry or stood to flap-in-the-breeze from the mast-hole of some
old boat on the beach, long ago condemned as unseaworthy and gradually
being disintegrated by the elements. Oh what lovely seats these old
gunwales make for the audience of men and boys, eyes aflame with
imagination, as some old grandfather of the beach, in the role of
_raconteur_, makes the details of a noted gale live anew in the vision
of his listeners. To-morrow these listeners of to-day may themselves be
tossing in the arms of a gale and half-drowned in the volume of green
water encompassed by the “crest” and the “trough”.

Inanimate individualities of every beach are the spreading fish “stages”
generally of green or auburn-tinted spruce-boughs. These stage the women
of the ‘Longshore. It is a most interesting item of the Court of King
Cod that the entire family is here, even to the baby.

Catching the Cod seems to be the least part of the work when one beholds
the amount of labour expended on the Shore-End. Early and late, during
the season, the women stand to their task of drying the fish. When the
weather is fine two weeks often slip away before a batch of cod is
properly hardened and “dry”. Fish, destined for the long voyage to the
West Indies and where Tropic heat is likely to cause a sweat in the
“hold”, the Canadian and Newfoundland fishwives “cure” until it is hard
as the proverbial brickbat. The amount of fish-lore contained in the
heads of these women with ballooning skirts, is amazing. As judges of
weather, they often put the “Weather-man” to shame. Sometimes the coming
cloud is entirely unseen by the mere stroller when these women begin
pell-mell to take in the fish. And when a fine evening says it is safe
to leave the fish out all night, these careful souls may be seen turning
over each fish, “oil-skins” up, in case

[Illustration:

TARRING THE BOAT.]

[Illustration:

A NONOGENARIAN GRANDFATHER PLACIDLY
CATCHING UP THE MESHES OF AN OLD NET.]

of a shower. These women turn easily to housekeeping duties, and often
the out-of-door tasks accomplished, continue the web of romance with
knitting, spinning and hooking rugs.

The sailmaker is a romantic figure in the doorway of some old “gear”
house, as he sits surrounded by billows of canvas, dark and mildewed,
patching, roping and otherwise overhauling the old mainsail. His, too,
is a figure in imminent danger of passing. The dashing motor boat,
blowing the spume from her bow, says, “The day of sails is over.”

One summer, visiting with the Lighthouse-keeper’s family in their
characterful little binnacle-home on the edge of the rocks at Peggy’s
Cove, our last day for adventuring having arrived, and even as we waited
for the coming of the mail-carrier’s cart by which we had engaged
“outward passage”, we strolled down to the waterfront to say a last
farewell to our “old-timers”. It was at that last moment, in what turned
out to be the eleventh hour of his life, that we chanced upon a
ninety-year-old grandfather in high boots and straw hat placidly
catching up with his nonogenarian fingers the broken meshes of an old
net. Mailcart or not, we must have this picture! Click! As it happened,
mending this bit of net was his last task. For before the picture which
we promised to send back to him could come into his hand, the Great
Reaper had brought him to his last illness and he was soon awa’!



CHAPTER IV.

SEA-COAST HOMES OF THE MARITIME PROVINCES.


_The open-door...._


The open-door to an understanding of the sea coast life, its
enthusiasms, its joys, its sorrows and its toil, is by way of the little
sea-coast homes edging the ‘long-shore road in out-of-the-way coves and
harbours, remote from towns, cities and the big sea-ports. These little
houses are as a voice in the land; as soon as one heaves in sight by a
turn of the road or a dip of the land we instantly feel their
personality. Their dimensions may be small, roofs low, windows few,
doors narrow--all these things are overlooked because they all fit in
with the whole, to make a sweet, lovable little place, where we might
easily fancy ourselves living happily--the big world far away, the
horizon of our wants satisfied by the vision and tang of the gray sea,
and the fishboat putting out in the early morning, to come again with
the sinews of the evening meal. There are many ways of approaching these
sea-coast homes, but the preferable way is--afoot. The man or woman who
takes to the open road and puts up where he can when dusk comes down
over land and sea, is the voyager likely to have the best adventures and
to make the most discoveries. He discovers, primarily, that many tongues
are heard in these little sea-coast homes--English, Gaelic, Breton and
Acadian-French, and should he go far north enough, some “Huskie”. He
will even find little colonies of Jersey Islanders in the midst of the
English-Gaelic-French stretches. Even so, the traveller coming to any of
these sea-side doors in the evening light will never have to beg a place
to lay his head. Hospitality is part of the unwritten code of these
parts. An additional mouth to feed brings about absolutely no confusion.
It matters not which language the housewife speaks. You may not be able
to employ her Gaelic or she your English, but her heart is kind and
friendly and the sea has taught her to be cosmopolitan. Her door is ajar
to visitors; a small matter like languages will never close it. There
are many common grounds on which to meet and always “sign” language and
a little latent ability on both sides to “act out” any situation going
beyond the combined vocabularies adds spice. Indeed I think the “acting
out” one of the chief charms particularly in the little French homes.

The interiors of these sea-coast cottages in which we have frequently
found ourselves guests, not one but many summers, are in every way as
individual and winning as their exteriors are attractive. All the
furniture is hand made, with odd “bits” here and there salvaged from
wrecks, or which have otherwise “washed in with the tide”. It is fitting
that as the house is home-made--it shelters homemade things. On the
floors are round, plaited rag rugs--pretty spots of colour but not so
brilliant or so highly prized as the rough, hooked rug showing large
patterns designed from nearby objects or some treasured association--the
family cat, the dog, the flowers from the wee garden. In some of the
French shore homes both the plaited and hooked rug give way to the
_Catalon_. Having duly examined and admired those on the floor, Madame
takes the visitor up into the garret to see the ponderous loom that
holds another in the making. Scattered about are her wools, spun and
dyed and perhaps previously sheared by herself. Catalons furnish
material enough for hours of conversation and if the visitor is
fortunate enough to be a guest under Madame’s roof the chest of floor
rugs and homespun _couverts_ may be opened to view. Some of these
_couverts_ may be old, the work of Madame’s or M’sieu’s mother. Oh, many
are the stories woven into the _couverts_ of the Magdalen Islands and
the Gulf of St. Lawrence shores from Quebec to Cheticamp--stories in
detail more than one summer long.

In the Gaelic homes conversation is made easy if the visitor is
interested in old-time China-figures. The Gaelic woman warms to you at
once if you notice her “Highland Laddie” in kilties or the wee “lambie”,
or the faithful sheep-dog that stands upon the shelf. These all have a
story too. Some of these China-pieces are very rich and handsome both in
the quality of China and in colour, to say nothing of design--“Mary and
her little Lamb”, “The Sailor Boy”, “The Lovers”, “A Victorian Lady”, in
hooped skirt, poked bonnet and blue shawl, etc. A few of these figures
are heirlooms. Others were bought by their present owner from some
travelling salesman chancing into the glen half a century ago, when she
was young. Sometimes the figure came from a wreck and was salvaged by
the skipper in his little fishboat--fragile figures that survived the
fury of the storm which smashed the great ship, which carried them, to
kindling.

This tale of wrecks brings into the story of the little sea-coast homes
the men whose handiwork the houses are. The vikings of the Maritime
Provinces are home-builders! In their turn wrecks and brave men
introduce another type

[Illustration:

WITHIN SIGHT OF HOME.
SAMBRO, NOVA SCOTIA.]

[Illustration:

DOOR-WAY OF THE LIGHTHOUSE-KEEPER’S
HOME AT CAPE SHARP, NOVA SCOTIA.]

of home common enough to these parts, a necessity in fact, but unknown
to inland Canada--the lighthouse keeper’s little nest with which goes
the white tower with its lamp connected with the house on isolated
headlands and far away on the point, by itself, in others. A chart of
the eastern coastline reveals hundreds of such lighthouses; and for
every lighthouse, followers of the piper know, there is a little cottage
tucked away somewhere. Great camaraderie exists between the unpainted,
weathered, shingled cottage of the fisherman and the home of the man
whose light and bell guide home through the fog the little dory to its
place. The one is more fixed up than the other having the government
behind it in the matter of paint, but both know what it is to crouch for
shelter among the boulders. In time of storm “the holdings is what
counts”, as Big John puts it. There is just one thing that the sea-coast
folk fear above the storms of winter, and that is--fire. There being no
fire-department in these parts, every householder takes precaution by
putting a ladder across the roof from eave to ridgepole alongside the
chimney. This fire “prophylactic” is a fixture built-in with the house
and looks like some “idea” in the architecture so universal is it.

In the long miles it is noticeable that groups of these sea-coast one or
two-roomed homes usually cluster together around some little harbour.
These are companionably drawn together by the little sheet of water
affording an anchorage or safe dry-dock in shelving shores for the
little fish boats--breadwinners of the family. Peggy’s Cove, on St.
Margaret’s Bay between French Village and Sambro on the south-western
shore of Nova Scotia, is such a little rocky haven--looking like a
miniature Newfoundland. The road fringes the shore for eighteen miles
after one leaves the railroad at French Village and one may make it
afoot and getting tired beg a lift in a passing ox-cart, or may engage
passage with the mail-driver. The mail-driver is an institution in all
these out-of-the-way regions, and one may cover most of the distance as
a passenger in his cart.

Many a little home we look into away “Down North” from Inverness to
Grand Etang on the one side of Cape Breton, and from English Town to
Dingwall on the other, whose open door we have been able to make with
the mail-driver’s, or the little coastal steamer’s assistance, or by
driving ourselves in a hired team part way, and walking part way,
regular pilgrims, staves in hand. But there are thousands of little
homes along shores where no roads go except that over the sea. One is
rewarded for “making” any of these, over the cliffs, carving out a road
for oneself, if it be possible, if not, taking to the boat. In fact, one
soon likes these most isolated homes best. Their originality and their
strength appeal to the pioneer latent in us all. And here dwell the men
and their families who have held “the line”, keeping alive the great
fishing industry of Canada. Here dwell in truth our much to be admired
codfish aristocracy. In fact, in all these little homes reside men upon
whose personality “United Empire Loyalist” is indelibly stamped. These
are people who accept the hardships of life with composure, relying less
on outside supports than we of the cities. No stores are here to run to
for supplies. The doctor comes not at all or only in summer. In the
Magdalen Islands there is no communication except by telegraph from
Christmas time till the following spring. Here, one winter, it became
desirable to get “a mail” to the mainland. The men interested prepared a
large cask, made it watertight, put the letters inside and headed it up.
They gave it ballast and a little sail and consigned it to a strip of
open sea, first painting on it a request to the finder to forward the
“mail” to the nearest postoffice. Those letters reached their
destination.

The Magdaleners are fisher-folk in the main, though of course in Havre
Aubert and Grindstone there are a number of business, and a sprinkling
of professional men. The homes here in these remote islands, being
French, have the French touch of thrift well developed. Paint is here in
most instances, and though the islands are bare of trees a little garden
is generally managed with the aid of a fence made of bits of wood culled
from sea-drift.

These real little homes may be a mile or a half mile inland among the
smoothly rounded Damoiselles--a little unhandy to the boats--so the
Frenchmen of Havre Aubert have built themselves a little row of summer
cottages right on the shingle, so close to the waters of the Gulf on
each side that they could almost step out of the boat into the front
door, did it not happen to be on the second floor for safety from the
waves in time of storm. Such a cottage has the double advantage of
allowing greater despatch of the fishing and of saving the wear and tear
on the “all the year round” home. We wonder it has never occurred to the
coastal fishermen of other parts to have a summer home as well as a
winter one.

Doubtless the new era will bring many changes and improvements into all
this region of Canada. The new roads, the autos, the modern builder, the
agriculturist, the large number of summer tourists, the shipbuilding,
the improved methods of fishing, improved drinking water systems, direct
and indirect foreign trade, library and lecture centres, expansion in
railroads all radiating from and meeting again in Halifax--Queen of the
Maritime cities holding in her hand the fate, among other things, of
these little homes--will all come soon. But we hope the day will never
come when these little gray cottages will disappear from the Canadian
landscape. We hope sincerely that in their case it will not be necessary
to destroy in order to build; that if their location is the one thing
needed to conduct the fishing quickly they may be saved to form the
fishing-season homes of our fishermen, an extension of the plan now
followed out by the Magdalen Islanders, while a snugger situation may be
chosen for the up-to-date winter home so well merited by those
harvesting Canada’s fish and those other deep-sea voyagers carrying her
ships and trade into foreign ports.



CHAPTER V.

LOW TIDE IN THE BAY OF FUNDY.


_Of all the forces...._


Of all the forces of Nature governing human endeavour, none it would
seem, are at once more intimate and exacting than Time and Tide.

But, while Time is everywhere, Tide is local. And though by a system of
daylight-saving we have sought to get the best of Time, Tide, as
wiseacres of old put it, “waits for no man.”

Such a play of thought and words as can scarcely be conceived, surge and
race with “tide”. “A full tide,” “a brimming tide”, “high tide”, are
synonyms for success in life, for progress, for the acquisition of
wealth, for “Bon Chance”, as “good luck” is phrased in Quebec. Whereas
“Low Tide”, “Ebbing Tide”, and kindred terms, we all know only too well
what they mean--dull business and empty pockets. But over-riding all
these is the cheerful swing of encouragement in “There’s a tide in the
affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to Fortune.”

Nowhere does the daily life of a people hang so intimately on tide as
down Bay of Fundy way. Tide there plays a titanic scale. It lengthens
out the scant octave spanned of other shores to fifty, and in some
places it is said, to sixty feet. The people of these parts live “on the
landwash” as it were, with “high tide” and “low”, a daily portion. The
Bay of Fundy apportions to its people the biggest slice of tide afforded
to any people anywhere in the world. And, as it disregards the ordinary
laws of all ordinary tides in the matter of ebb and flow, so, strangely
enough, its physical “low tide” is more often than not, the “high tide”
of business and affairs. It is when the edge of the Fundy Basin is a
line of mud from St. John to Parrsboro, around the Minas Basin and back
to Digby, that life awakens and things begin to happen. It is as if the
old Bay said “Any old place can have a high tide but who can have a
‘low’ like mine?”

The Low Tide of Fundy is indeed its most prominent feature, playing an
important part in the despatch of passenger and mail steamers from both
Saint John and Digby. Indeed, the Bay-steamers actually play a game with
the tide. If the steamer is “in” and the tide “out”, the steamer must
wait for the tide to come “in” before she can go “out”, on its brimming
fullness through Digby Cut. So, the schooners and square-riggers all
come “in” and go “out” when the tide is full. But they load the deal in
West Bay whichever way the tide “sets” ’round Cape Split. So, too, the
stateliest Square-rigger or most sail-crowded schooner going up the bay
for a load of plaster has the water out from under her keel when the
Mower scythes the waves and sweeps them away to the ocean, leaving all
keels, whether great or small, hard and fast in Fundy Sound.

The Bay of Fundy is the greatest natural drydock in the world. And in
its day, which began the evening the stately ship of Sieur de Monts
first floated in on its flood tide to found a settlement at Annapolis
Royal, it has docked thousands of craft of all rigs and sizes. As
drydock, as well as sheltering harbour, while it belongs in particular
to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, in a wider sense it belongs to all
Canada. So that in the great future in trade now before Canada, it
requires no great foreknowledge to venture that the volume of vessels
frequenting the Bay in the palmiest days of the past, will soon be
eclipsed both in number of ships and in increased displacement. As yet,
the Bay of Fundy is like a masterpiece hanging in a gallery, which we
have not sat down to look at carefully and appraisingly.

No other country apart from the thought of it as a drydock enjoys such a
haven for ships as Canada possesses in the Bay of Fundy. The Bay of
Fundy whose “power” is the tremendous ebb and flow of its tides, has
hitherto seemed something “out of us”, and beyond our power to turn to
account.

Bliss Carman, it will be remembered, penned a beautiful lament in “The
Ships of Saint John”. But we may take it that the condition lamented was
but temporary, merely “the ebb tide” in affairs and that when the tide
comes again, roaring round Blomidon, the tide of Canadian shipping, it
will be such a brimming tide of prosperity as old-timers of these parts
never even dreamed of. The ships of the world will surely dock again in
numbers where “The fog still hangs on the long tide-rips.” One saw
during the years of the war a re-birth of old-time trade around the
shore in the large number of square-riggers calling at Bay-ports for
deal. You could count them three and four deep in West Bay by Partridge
Island out of Parrsboro. And how all the forests and sawmills around
were touched at once into new life by a mere sight of these stately old
craft, many, an hundred years or thereabouts in age, in their turn
awakened from graveyards in out-of-the-way havens of the Old World by
the clash of arms.

[Illustration:

IN THE RAQUETTE.
DIGBY, NOVA SCOTIA.]

[Illustration:

THE BAY OF FUNDY IS THE GREATEST
NATURAL DRYDOCK IN THE WORLD.]

To all the people living on the Bay of Fundy shores these old vessels,
newly painted, with their “yards” abeam and “figureheads” on the bow
refurbished, were happy sights indeed. It was like their own youth come
back, in case of the old. To the young they brought “vision”. Old ports
thought dead awoke to new life. In “trade” around the Bay it was no
longer “ebb tide”.

One never ceases to marvel at the number of other trades that spring to
life in the wake of shipping. Ships and big “waterfronts”, such as
Canada’s are the things to make dreams come true. Ships resemble
railroad trains in the matter of faithfulness to prescribed routes,
having ports for stations. And there’s not an ocean wanderer of them
all, or a skipper of importance, but knows the Bay of Fundy and its
“tides”. Nevertheless, however important from the commercial point of
view, hard and fast trade is not the only phase of Fundy life. It also
has its romantic side.

“Low tide” fills the shoreline with the rich, wet colours which artists
love to paint. It builds, too, new kinds of wharves, two-deckers with an
upstairs and down, and greeny bronze seaweeds clinging to
water-soaked piles; and “craft” of some kind, schooners, or
tropic-bleached-and-warped old vessels with rakish yards, looking like
pirate craft by reason of many trips in the white-light of Equatorial
suns, leaning against them.

It is a signal, when the mud-line begins, to all the clam-diggers of the
countryside to come out with shovels, forks, rake-hoes, or any old
garden tools that can be used to dig clams. Sometimes one sees here some
old woman alone, using a rake-hoe as a staff, her skirts blowing in the
wind and a genuine joy in her heart every time an oozy squish is emitted
by her old boots. The tide of life has come and gone for her to the
accompaniment of the ebb and flow of the waters of Fundy. In them she
has found comfort and by them, perhaps, a living. They have been the
outlook of a lifetime, companionable whatever their mood.

In the matter of clam-digging the Bay of Fundy has a decided rival in
the long-stretching sandspits or barachois of the Madeleine Islands in
the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. There, one sees a score or more of habitant
women, their skirts tucked about the middle, wading in the shallow water
with their horses and carts and even dog-carts, themselves working for
hours digging tubful after tubful of clams for as long as they can beat
the tide to it. But, on the white sand of the Madeleines one sees no
vessel careening in friendly fashion as on the soft mud of Fundy. It is
on the Bay of Fundy one sees ordinary ladders of the farm, home-made
affairs, no relation whatever to the usual ship’s ladder, let down over
a schooner’s side with men going up into the ship or down to walk ashore
over the mud, avoiding runnels and pools, while the anchor lies a little
way off, in plain sight, on the cushion of mud. This is an unique
picture peculiar to the Fundy region.

At another spot the kelp-gatherer is at work. Edible kelp can be bought
in many Wolfville and other Bay of Fundy-town grocery shops. And in
season the kelp-gatherer, with his sack, is an interesting figure of the
Digby and Parrsboro tide-flats and algae-covered rocks.

Romantic treasures are uncovered by the low tides, in the amethyst
geodes to be picked up along shore. Amethyst outcroppings provide a
romantic objective for taking geologist hammer in hand in a jaunt to the
cliffs of Blomidon and the jagged, beetling wall presented by Partridge
Island on its southern side to the sweep of the Bay. Nor is amethyst
alone, here. Other semi-precious crystals abound, making the gamut run
by Romance one of great range. For, when the tide is low, over against
the fire of the Glooscap jewels, are set the figures of carts going out
over the wet mud, scintillating with the colours that artists love, to
the amphibious little Bay coasting-schooners, stranded, for the time
being, like so many jellyfish.

Then come out the caulkers, caulking-irons in hand. Then are old seams
filled, old leaks and new made tight--the caulking mallet in a race
against the fast-coming tide. For the caulker knows that with the return
of that great force, gathering in strength with every inch of rise, the
old plaster-carrier will slowly right herself, lifting, lifting herself
out of the mud, “locked” to the higher level, by that greatest of
natural forces--the flooding tide of Fundy, till, presently sitting like
a swan on the water, she declares herself afloat and ready for the race
to Boston with her cargo of “Plaster-of-Paris”, out of Acadie.



CHAPTER VI.

CAPE BRETON.


_Not until the waters...._


Not until the waters of the Gut of Canso sweep into the line of one’s
vision, does the fact that Cape Breton is an island have any special
meaning for the traveller by train from Halifax to North Sydney. But
when you feel your car actually quitting the land for the deck of a
steamer, then the insularity of Cape Breton becomes something personal.

The “Gut of Canso” is--“The Grand Canal of the Maritime Provinces”, one
of the clearest, bluest, most beautiful strips of water in the world.

It is, as anyone can see, the short cut from the Atlantic to the Gulf of
Saint Lawrence. But it is not until you cast off upon its waters
yourself that you realize how constant is the stream of vessels using
this ocean highway! That material galore for picture and story hourly
runs to waste here, is not the fault of the Grand Canal.

Cross this water-street when you will, schooners, “two”,
“three-masters”, with big mildewed mainsails still hoisted, wait at
anchor off Port Hawkesbury for a fair wind to carry them through, the
while fleet-winged schooners from the Gulf, like the “Birds of Passage”
that they are, take it, literally, “on the run”. One wonders, watching
them on-coming “wing and wing”, if ever migratory birds strung out in a
fairer perspective?

Your sea-adventuring train deigns after awhile to come ashore on the
“Island”, and after that it keeps to the straight and narrow path etched
by the land, wherein trains may run, but it never seems just an ordinary
train to you after its sea-going fling. And so you are quite prepared
for the way it skims across the Bras D’Or at “The Narrows” and sets you
down there to a “fish supper” in a little restaurant, and waits while
you eat.

At Iona, it stops again, and sets down the passengers for Baddeck. And
after that it hugs the lakeshore, till North Sydney reminds one that
“business is business” and that one has arrived in the heart of it.

To speak of North Sydney is to think of coal. Yet, unless you undertake
“the mines”, look them up, because you have a fancy to from the
viewpoint of Romance, they are not only not intrusive but they actually
lend a hand in adding to the “figures” in the harbour. There the
picturesque, black-hulled, red-bottomed steamers at anchor, are
“colliers” awaiting their turn to load. These steamers make just the
contrast needed to set off the fish-schooners riding at anchor, amid
dancing reflections, when the setting sun of a calm evening mirrors
every spar, rope and sail in the silvery waters of the harbour.

At Sydney the outlook is easterly. New elements creep into the
atmosphere. “Over there,” is Newfoundland. These waters that lap at your
feet bring Europe within hail. That little, weather-worn steamer lying
there by the wharf-side will to-morrow morning hitch to the Quai in
Saint Pierre et Miquelon.

The “colliers” that came in yesterday, in a day or two may be nosing up
the Saint Lawrence in the wake of palatial ocean liners to Quebec.
Sydney stands for the extended hand of Canada; extended to Newfoundland
as a link in transportation; extended in invitation to the British Isles
and to Old Europe to send more settlers of the hardy type of Hieland
folk and Breton sailor, who, in the early dawn of her history, stepped
into Canada through these portals.

The interesting fact about Cape Breton is that it has preserved all the
characteristics, the language, the customs of its Gallic and Gaelic
settlers. Geographically, as well as ethnologically, there is a Gaelic
Cape Breton in the North and a Breton Cape Breton in the south. They
divide the land between them, and live in the same friendly fashion as
did Scotland and France in the days of the Stuarts. Stepping into the
northern part of Cape Breton is like adventuring in the Highlands of
Auld Scotia. Stepping to the South is an adventure in Brittany.

There are three main ways of entering the “Highlands”. Finding one’s
self in Sydney, take that “character” among coastal traders, the little
S.S. “Aspey”. The “Aspey” makes all the harbours between North Sydney
and Cape North. Make her acquaintance and she will introduce you to
“Who’s Who”, for she knows all the folk who are worth knowing, from
Englishtown to Ingonish and from Ingonish to Nail’s Harbour and
Dingwall.

The second way to reach “the land of the Macs” is to take a train of the
Inverness Railroad at Port Hawkesbury. By this road, which follows the
shore-line of the Gulf side of the Island, you come immediately into the
Scotch atmosphere. Scotch place-names stand out bravely from the
name-boards of the railroad stations. The very scenery is
Highland--mountains and mists

[Illustration:

ON THE “GALLERY”.]

[Illustration:

BOYHOOD DREAMS OF THE DAY WHEN
“THEIR TURN WILL COME”.]

along the shore side, while through the opposite windows of your car,
the waters of the Gulf, spread out, like a “loch”.

The third, and ideal way to make the acquaintance of Cape Breton, is to
hire an old horse and drive yourself, making leisurely trips in all
directions, lingering wherever Fancy dictates, and putting up each night
in any village, town or farmhouse which promises a comfortable night’s
lodging.

With your own horse you are at liberty to turn in at “gates” even though
no houses are in sight, and continue in faith along the road until one
appears. And, when the house--a “Crofter’s Cot” transplanted--is
reached, it is quite in keeping with the Highland atmosphere if only the
man of the family speaks English, the women being happy in “Gaelic
only”--Gaelic which they learned from mothers and grandmothers.

This difference in language makes no difference, however, in their
hospitality. And oh, the pictures sketched by these little cottages so
snugly tucked away in the glen!

The language of beauty which they speak is easily understood. Beauty
that belongs to simple architecture speaks from every line of door and
window and roof; speaks in every line of the great, whitewashed chimney,
which, never lacking fuel, proclaims in friendly smoke seen curling up
out of the glen--long before the cottage comes to view--that tea brews
on the hearth.

The people of this part of Cape Breton, striking inland, and across
country to Saint Ann’s Bay and Ingonish, are, in the main,
agriculturists. This is the farming section. So, in August and
September, in the tawny fields of oats and barley, the figures of the
reapers and gleaners, especially in the neighborhood of Ingonish,
proclaim that Breton-Canada no less than Breton-France affords many “a
Millet subject”.

But even the farmer of these parts turns fisherman in season. Alongshore
“Old man with lobster-pots” is a frequent “character”, from Mabou all
down the Gulf shore, doubling Cape North, and back along the south shore
of the peninsula to Point Aconi; and, of course, on the Atlantic side,
about Gabarouse and Saint Peter’s. One of the dominating physical
features of Cape Breton is Cape Smoky, towering a thousand feet above
the waters where the Atlantic and Saint Ann’s Bay meet. Smoky is a
personality. Because its stern, old brow is always softened by an
ever-moving fog-wreath, the English-speaking people call it “Smoky”; the
French folk “Enfumez”. It is worth travelling far to view Cape Smoky
after rain, especially in the afternoon when the westering sun turns the
shifting fog into rainbows, flitting, flashing, jewel-like bits of
colour, gone in a moment.

There is something unexplainably winning about Cape Smoky. Cape Breton
folk look to it as Nova Scotians to Blomidon. In speaking of it they
sometimes say “Dear Old ‘Smoky’,” as if they loved it.

“Sugar-Loaf,” near Dingwall, and “Cape North”, the Lands’ End of Canada,
are each distinctive in character, and “landmarks” of navigation.

A feature of the road familiar in these parts is the mail-carrier. With
an old wagon and his trusty horse, the road over Smoky presents no
difficulties to the Jehu of “His Majesty’s Mail”. And when you watch for
him to appear on the shingle at Ingonish from “Down North”, if he has no
passengers, it is an adventure to jump into his cart and ride over
Smoky, even if you have to walk the six miles back, as we once did.

The Bay at Ingonish is sheltered by Cape Smoky, and so this small
harbour has become a happy anchorage for fishing-schooners, and South
Ingonish a place where codfish dries on fish stages. There is a family
lobster cannery here, seldom boasting more than two big iron pots aboil
in a sheltered nook of the shingle, but creating a romantic atmosphere
with its driftwood fire.

Lads lend a hand with the fish-drying at Ingonish. It is from here,
watching the fishing schooners going out to meet the ocean swell around
Smoky, that, in dreams, they reach out to the day when their turn will
come to sail away in a fishing-schooner to “The Grand Banks”.

       *       *       *       *       *

The MacDonalds, MacLeods, MacLeans, MacPhersons, and all the other
Scotch families of Cape Breton are greatly in evidence on Sundays. It is
then, driving over these roads, one encounters team after team on the
way to the Gaelic meeting-house, or church. The church service is
conducted in Gaelic and lasts practically all day.

[Illustration:

FIT SUBJECT FOR A
MILLET.]

[Illustration:

DUSK.
SOUTH BAY, INGONISH.]



CHAPTER VII.

NEWFOUNDLAND.


_Having stepped aboard...._


Having stepped aboard the Newfoundland mail-and-passenger boat at North
Sydney, a little before ten p.m., the hour of sailing, one awakes next
morning at Port aux Basques, in Newfoundland, hardly aware that one is
out of Canada, until the courteous Customs Official with “Newfoundland”
written on his cap, comes to examine one’s baggage.

One hundred and twenty miles is the brief length of Cabot Strait which
separates Newfoundland from Canada, but when one has crossed this Arm of
the Atlantic, it is to find one’s self in a new world, a world complete
in itself. For Newfoundland embodies all that rugged, independent
spirit, which, in part, belongs to all islands--notably to the British
Islands--and, in addition, it has all the distinction which is a natural
attribute of its position as Great Britain’s Oldest Colony. National
sense is very keenly developed in the Newfoundlander. “Love of the
Empire and their Island” stirs strongly in the blood of every man from
Port aux Basques to Saint John, and from Cape Race to the Straits of
Belle Isle.

A casual glance at a map of Newfoundland reveals its striking
resemblance to the map of England. And ties of blood and association,
that intimately bind this oldest Daughter to the Mother-country, trail
down the centuries from the day that Cabot first sighted Bonavista,
until now. If you wish to step right into the atmosphere of a fine
English society that is still “the Island’s Own product”, take the train
to Saint John’s, the oldest colonial capital in the British Empire.

But the Island of Newfoundland has yet another claim to distinction in
its scenery. There is nothing quite like, or perhaps quite equal to, the
scenery of Newfoundland, in all America. It so strongly resembles the
scenery of Norway that the island is frequently spoken of as “The Norway
of the New World”; and its deep inlets and bays are just as frequently
referred to as “fiords”. But, in reality, Newfoundland scenery gains
nothing by these comparisons. The time will come shortly when the
scenery of Newfoundland will need no such extraneous supports. It will
be sufficient for the voyager to say “I have just returned from
Newfoundland” for his coterie of friends to know he has voyaged among
scenes of superlative beauty.

Cruising around the Newfoundland coast, taking one or more of its deep
bays in a summer, reveals innumberable little outports tucked away in
hollows around every headland, and all held shelteringly in the hand of
the larger bay. Of these larger bays, White Bay, Notre Dame Bay,
Bonavista, Trinity and Conception lie to the North, while Saint Mary’s,
Placentia, and Fortune upturn to navigation on the South.

Newfoundland is, of course, the heart of the Cod-fishing industry of the
Western Atlantic. The Grand Banks, the playground of the fishing-fleets
of France, of the United States, of Nova Scotia, are, when all is said,
“The Grand Banks of Newfoundland.” Figuratively and literally speaking
“The Banks” are the island “Bread-Box.” And the banking
schooners--Newfoundland-owned, Newfoundland-skippered and sailed--are
justly the pride of Newfoundland. Seamanship is so natural in a born
Newfoundlander that it comes to him like a “sixth sense” or, as some of
them say, “natural as sleeping and waking”.

Modern “Vikings of the North”, they are as much at home afloat, as
ashore. It was thus the Newfoundlander stepped with such consummate ease
from the thwart of the fish-dory, the deck of “The Banker”, to that
larger deck in the British Navy, during the War, where they covered
themselves with glory and added fresh honours to the record already
achieved through the centuries, by their Island-home in its Four
Centuries of Sea-going!

By far the greater part of the population of Newfoundland is domiciled
on the coast. To reach the fishing is, therefore, a mere step, and the
adventure of it practically sits on every door-step.

Travelling inland on the continent of North America, one is often enough
struck by the sameness of the houses, towns and settlements etched by
Agriculture. One often hears that they “all look alike”. But such could
never be the complaint of these Newfoundland villages, products of the
Sea and its Harvest. They are as variable as the sea’s own moods. So, in
cruising among the Newfoundland bays, every little headland turned
reveals a different grouping, as well as different setting, of the tiny
church, the little homes, the chief store; and a different arrangement
of the wooden stages in wharf-like lines along the irregular waterfront.

As the island is one large unit, so in turn each of these tiny
settlements is a unit, going its own sea-gait in its own craft; and
commanding its own mail-service, and commisariat-service, from Saint
John or Placentia.

[Illustration:

BELLEORAM.]

[Illustration:

PATH END.]

So little are these sea-coast folk inland travellers, that there is
often no road from one village to another, entrance and exit always
being accomplished over the sea; by boat or steamer.

Settling down in any of these villages is to be constantly entertained
by the variety of scenes afforded by the life. Early in the morning “the
fish-boats” are under weigh with their tanned sails and homemade oars
creaking against the pin. Later, the women go about their household
duties, studying “the signs of the weather” from door or window. The old
’longshoremen open the fish-house doors and potter about with old ropes
and picturesque “killicks” or homemade anchors, heavy, smooth stones
held together in skeleton-frames of old bits of wood and a lashing of
odd pieces of wire-rigging salvaged from some old wreck. But all the
time, the men, like the women, have their weather-eye centred on the
“signs of the mornin’.” For the day’s work, is--the fish.

The first peep of sunlight through the gray clouds or the fog, sees men,
women and children, on the “fish stages”, as the platforms are called,
fish in hand. In the afternoon, the scene is reversed, with each “hand”
driving hard to get the fish in again before night.

A cloud, during the day, sees the ever-watchful women coming on the run
from all quarters to get the fish in before it rains. Codfish must not
get wet.

The Newfoundlanders are especially happy in the place-names they have
given to their towns, villages and “outports”. Sea-folk are always, more
or less, noted for romantic place-names. So, in summer, adventuring in
Newfoundland, such names as Push-through, Thoroughfare, Come-by-Chance,
Seldom-Come-By, Step-Aside, Happy Adventure, Heart’s Delight, Heart’s
Content, Path End, write themselves indelibly in your memory map.
Especially appropriate are the names given to the mountains. To realize
the full beauty of some of these peak-names, one must fancy Newfoundland
as a “ship”, the surface as the deck. Then one has the viewpoint of the
men who sponsored these in baptism. Then, the single peaks, springing up
tall against the sky, have a beautiful psychology of their own. Here is
“The Gaff Topsail”, “The Main Topsail”, “The Mizzen Topsail”, “The
Fore-Topsail”. Collectively they are referred to, picturesquely enough,
as, “The Tops’ls”. Other individual peaks are “Blow-me-Down”, a sort of
challenge to the elements and, “The Butter-Pot”, a maritime concession
to the menu of maritime cabin-tables.

The surface of Newfoundland, its rocks and hills, is at its best in the
fall of the year when the brush of Autumn paints all the foliage and
fruit of the Bake-Apple, Partridge-Berries, wild red and black currants,
Rowan berries, etc., gorgeous yellows, reds and browns. After the frost,
the “marshes and barrens” afford miles of colour.

Among the treasures of the Newfoundland wildflowers are Gentians and
Orchids.

It is at this time, when the berries are ripe, that the villagers turn
out in family groups to pick bake-apples and Fox-berries to make jam.
Bake-apples are a fruit peculiar to Newfoundland and Labrador. And
Bake-apple jam is a dish of almost national magnitude. To express
interest in the bake-apples and their picking is an open sesame to
outport hearts. And no end of invitations and jaunts are assured you, if
you become an ardent berry-picker. At this time human figures are
everywhere to be seen. Children with a motley collection of pails are
everywhere on the nearby hills. The best blueberries of all grow in the
cracks and scarpings of the cliffs where one would not suppose a
thimbleful of earth could cling. At Saint John, Cabot Head, gray and
bluff, is a happy hunting-ground of the berry-picker. Many a morning
have we spent there, hunting blueberries behind the lighthouse of this
grim old Cape. Many a morning, too, have they been the goal of a
scramble over the cliffs of Big Wild Cove and Little Wild Cove. And what
is more romantic than tea with the lighthouse-keeper’s little family at
Twillingate, where one sits at a spotless table and is served with a
heaping dish of delectable homemade Partridge-berry jam smothered in
thick Island cream?

In the Newfoundland Outports, two days’ work is crowded into one, of a
Saturday. For the Newfoundlanders are very strict in the observation of
the Sabbath Day, to do no work therein. Neither dories nor “Bankers”
fish on Sundays. And Saturday night sees all the schooners which can
possibly get there, in port; the drying fishnet hanging in festoons from
the masthead being about the only concession to business.

Ashore, the women will not even draw water from the well on Sunday,
unless under the stress of some dire necessity. On Saturday, therefore,
a double supply of water must be drawn, and laid in for use over Sunday.
The Outport well is usually situated at one end of the village and
sometimes at a distance from it. And so, on Saturday afternoons, a
stream of women, each carrying two buckets of water, flows along the
undulating, rocky highway that is the village main street. A large
hoop, in the midst of which the water-carrier steps, helps to relieve
the weight and keep the water from spilling as the woman steps briskly
along. This method of carrying water seems to be the Newfoundlander’s
own invention. The Water-Hoop is here one of the furnishings of every
household.

Saturday is the day of the week for getting wood. And wood-getting in
the outports involves a longer or shorter trip to the cliffs and hills
where the low spruce-scrub affords many a scraggly bough for fuel. Along
the footpaths, worn by centuries of wood-gatherers, and by the road into
the village, one happens on many a figure carrying bundles of boughs on
their backs and making pictures no less distinctive from a _genre_
viewpoint than the water-carriers, with their picturesque hoops. Other
figures of the road are the women and children carrying hay over their
shoulders, tied-up in a piece of old net or the family pieced bed-quilt.

Owing to the rocky nature of the cliffs, hay is a scarce article. Some
of the best is undoubtedly afforded by the little churchyard cemeteries,
on the principle that “never blooms so red the rose, as where some
buried Caesar lies”.

Goats with curious wooden yokes around their necks, and the family cow,
are well-known characters of these cliff, by-shore, village-highways.

Against the incursions of these roaming pirates-of-green, are set up the
curious rodded-fences of the irregular-shaped little potato and turnip
gardens. In summer the gipsying cow can forage for herself, but in
winter there is nothing for her to do but fall back upon the little
wisps of hay her owner garnered in the quilt against just such days as
these. But the cow is grateful. Never anywhere does cow produce richer
cream to go with the raspberries, the Bake-apple and Fox-berry jam, than
these same seacoast cows of Newfoundland.

Considering the wholesome out-of-door life called for by the industries
of the Newfoundland outports, it is not surprising that hand-weaving in
the homes is rare. Another reason may be the scarcity of pasturage for
sheep in the sea-going villages and their vicinity. Inland Newfoundland
affords fine opportunities for agriculture, and sheep of a fine type
yield splendid fleeces in the Codroy Valley, around Doucets and Little
River.

Although the loom is rare, the spinning-wheel is not infrequently
happened upon, yielding hand-laid yarn to supply the needs of the
home-knitter. And her needs are many, for no one seems to wear out socks
like a fisherman.

The knitter is therefore a figure by the window when the cool days
denote the approach of winter.

       *       *       *       *       *

The guide-books have a way of declaring Newfoundland to be “The
Sportsman’s Paradise”, and, if you have ever taken your gun under arm
and sallied forth after Caribou, or had a thirty-pound salmon rise to
your fly in either the Big or the Little Codroy rivers, you can
personally testify that the writers of those same guide-books do not
exaggerate.

It is little to be wondered at, therefore, that the “Sportsman” from the
New England States, from Canada and from Old England, is a figure often
chanced upon in the glens, and “beating the streams” of the Codroy
Mountains, in the West. Nothing is quite so romantic as sitting by a
deep pool, the one selected by your guide as “the very best” and
watching for the supreme moment when “the big one” springs to life at
the end of your line.

But the tramp to get to the pool has its romance, too. For the scenery
of inland Newfoundland, its fields of daisies, its sheep in the lanes,
the fog lifting and swirling like wraith-figures of light dancers about
the brows of the mountains, all combine to create an atmosphere of
enchantment, the more enchanting perhaps, that the numbers of its
discoverers are not yet so many as to wear away the edge of
exclusiveness.

       *       *       *       *       *

Pursuit of the Romantic in Newfoundland sooner or later lands one in
Saint John’s on the south side of the harbour, among the old, wooden
square-riggers that compose that unique fleet peculiar to Terra
Nova--the Sealers.

If you have ever seen a whaler of the old-type, belonging to the days of
whale-boats and hand-harpoons, then you know something of the appearance
of these old Sealers. Broad of beam, thick-planked, staunch-timbered,
both steam-and-sail propelled, they go out of Saint John’s in March,
blasting a channel for themselves through the ice with gunpowder. They
carry a crew of several hundred, all of them seasoned sealers. The man
of expert knowledge in picking up “Seals” hies him aloft to the barrel
crow’s-nest.

And then begins that roaming quest of the seal that may stand these old
Ramblers of the ice and the ocean, away to the northeast, or up toward
“Belle Isle”, or even far into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, anywhere that
they can “pick up” the herd of drifting amphibians, which are to yield
the invaluable sealskin.

[Illustration:

THE WATER-CARRIER.]

[Illustration:

KNITTING.]



CHAPTER VIII.

LABRADOR.


_In the Newfoundland...._


In the Newfoundland outports, especially those of the northern
bays--Conception, Trinity, Bonavista and Notre Dame conversation with
any old-timer is sure to turn sooner or later to experiences on “The
Labrador”.

Soon these stories accumulate into a magnetizing force, drawing you to
explore that wonderful Northern shore of which these old-timers relate
such wonderful tales.

Our first trip to the Labrador was decided by an old fellow with a
scythe, mowing a pocket-handkerchief of hay at Exploits. He wore at the
time a pair of sabots. Upon our remarking on them as unusual footwear in
these parts, he looked down with a smile--that pleasant smile that
always flits across aged faces at the recollection of an adventure--and
said, “Oh, aye, them’s my Denmarks. I bought them from a man on a
square-rigger, on ‘The Labrador’.”

Two days after that we were haunting the telegraph office at Twillingate
for news of “The Invermore” or “The Kyle” out of Saint John’s to the
Labrador. The Invermore blew out her tubes somewhere down the coast, and
had to put back to Saint John’s, and we had to wait several days for her
substitute, who finally arrived at Twillingate in the middle of the
night, so that we went up the ladder over her side with the bags of mail
at two o’clock in the morning, carrying with us a feeling that perhaps
we ought not to be going, as two old fellows encountered on the pier the
night before, had said, in the face of a rather threatening sky, that it
was “too late to go down on the Labrador.”

However, we made that voyage safely and have since made another, proving
that wiseacres are not always true prophets or their sayings to be
heeded.

From Newfoundland to Labrador is but a step across the Straits of Belle
Isle. In winter these waters are the hunting grounds of some of the
sealers out of Saint John’s. In summer they are the hunting ground of
some of the “growlers” out of Labrador.

Navigators here in the first instance are happy at the cry of “seals!”
from the crow’s nest, but the skipper of the mailboat on this route runs
away as fast as may be from the beautiful but treacherous iceberg so
like in figure to giant Portuguese Men-o’-War “fishing with paralyzing
underseas tentacles seeking whom they may devour.” Then comes out on
deck the figure least expected, the Moving Picture man, reeling off,
like one possessed, the bergs that navigation fears. And so we land at
Battle Harbour, first of the thirty or more ports of call made by these
fine mail-and-passenger boats out of Saint John’s.

The charm of the Labrador is hard to define. That it is there all will
agree. Some say that it lies in the fact that the slightest
miscalculation on the part of those adventuring in these parts may lead
to an accident--accident that on so exposed a coast is instantly
metamorphosed into irremediable disaster, as in the case of H.M.S.
Raleigh. In other words, danger is its charm, the danger that lies so
near, around the corner of every bay and tickle; danger of hidden rocks,
of sudden gale, of fog, of bergs, washed by some fanciful twist of ocean
current out of the beaten track. Romance follows danger as a twin
sister. So, on the Labrador, many “figures” strut across the little
stage.

There is the little Eskimo that paddles off to the steamer in his kyak,
to dance on deck, while the ship rides at anchor off some port. That he
ever reaches the ship or the shore again in the little scallop-shell he
calls “boat” is a miracle. But he dances away or sings “gospel hymns”
learned from missionaries, as free from worry as any child. The words
are in Eskimo, but the old tune, sung out here on deck by the flare of
the ship’s lantern, carries with it a gripping power, the while the
faces of strong men--fishermen coming or going, traders, missionaries,
even Syrian fur-dealers--are intermittently lighted by the flare of the
lantern.

Two old acquaintances, the “fishnet drying from the masthead” and the
“pot-a-tilt” among stones of the ice-age, greet one on stepping ashore
at a Labrador tickle. Spruce beer is also here to be had, if one has the
good fortune to fall in with Liveyer’s family up from Newfoundland for
the summer-fishing and living in a hut with sodded roof, wherein the
blooms of fireplant and live-for-ever make a splash of color against the
gray background of sea and rocks.

These little liveyer homes bear a striking resemblance to the pioneer
homes of foreigners on the Prairie, with sodded roofs abloom.

Two new characters peculiar to the zone emerge along this northern edge
of the ‘Longshore road--Eskimos, men, women and children, and Eskimo
dogs; both of which Newfoundlanders invariably speak of as “Huskies”.

[Illustration:

HEARTY AT EIGHTY.]

[Illustration:

AN ESKIMO GRANDMOTHER.]

The Eskimo as hunter is the angle from which hunters, trappers, and fur
merchants, view these children of the Northland. The missionary sees in
them children to be taught; the ordinary voyager merely a new and
interesting facet of life--men and women, masters of the secret of
living under conditions under which the probabilities are the voyager
himself would come a cropper. They fire the imagination for the same
reasons as do the children of the Desert--an interesting peculiar people
wholly masters of interesting peculiar circumstances.

Some of the features of Eskimo coastal life are portrayed in the pelts
brought in to swell the large collections at the several Hudson’s Bay
Company’s posts, and in the evidences of “native art” as shown in ivory
and wood carvings brought down to sell to the ship.

These latter articles are of interest from two points of view. They were
taken from life and so, have pictorial and story value--little ivory
komatiks or sledges drawn by dogs in harness and little wooden dolls
with typical Eskimo features of old man or woman dressed in sealskin,
cut in the same model always in vogue with these people; the men with
trousers and short middy, the women in trousers and middy, short in
front but often with a sort of longer rounded effect at the back. These
vendors to the ship display in addition seal-skin port-monies for women
and tobacco-pouches for men, but these are less interesting because the
idea is imitative, caught from things of similar intent in the hand of
voyagers from the south and civilization.

Eskimo dogs are not seen to advantage in summer. Only a few appear at
each outport, more at some than at others. But under the boardwalk,
climbing to the post office, a half dozen roly-poly puppies will snarl
and snap under your feet like little wolves. And these “miniatures” of
the pack--away at this season on some island out of harm’s way and busy
foraging for a scant support to life among fishheads cast up by the
incoming fishboat--are merely little point-fingers of the road of the
great untamed that stretches from here to Hudson’s Bay.

Except in the neighbourhood of the Hudson’s Bay Posts and the Moravian
Missionary settlements, evidences of the native are comparatively few.
The many outports of this rugged coast are posts held firmly in the
strong capable hand of Newfoundland. It is said that thirty thousand
Newfoundlanders yearly fish “The Labrador”. And romance lies in the
wake of this yearly pilgrimage to the Northern Shrine of Cod.

As the landing mailboat rounds the barren headlands, vistas of schooners
and fishboats stretch before, lying at anchor in the harbour or
“tickle”. And if it be Sunday, as it is sure to be if the schooners are
in port, a group of men and women are at the water’s edge to pick up
news that the boat brings, or eagerly await at the Post Office the
letter from home.

The coming of the steamer from Saint John’s and the ports of the
Northern Bays of Newfoundland, once every ten days or so, is an event in
these little settlements of summer-homes, clinging like so many crabs to
the rugged shores of this outpost of Newfoundland, lying across Canada’s
great Northeast and shutting it off from an Atlantic harbour north of
Cape Breton.

Missionary work among the Eskimos has been maintained here for several
centuries by the Moravians. Trading posts have been maintained for as
long by the world-famous Hudson’s Bay Company. Sometimes the mission
station and the H.B.C. Post occur at the same outport, as if in this
northern land the desire for company had drawn them irresistibly
together. But of course the mission must have decided that a
fur-purchasing centre would concentrate the natives and they could be
more easily reached, since the one sled-journey would answer all needs.

At Hopedale Mission there is a pathetic little “greenhouse” with a few
flowers; and out in a corner of a garden, which is almost comical as
gardens go, are seen a few struggling lettuce-plants though last year’s
snow lies thick on the rising ground scarcely twenty yards away. If the
tide of Canadian trade ever sets “full” out of Hudson Bay, who knows but
a century from now many gardens will flourish here, descendants of this
little pioneer straggler, hardily holding its own, to give the
missionary-table vegetables.

To the Moravian Missionaries of early days belongs the credit of
reducing the Eskimo tongue to a language. The large, well-bound grammar
which the Missionary shows you becomes indeed a character in itself, as
it is shown that this is not merely a key to a language but the humble
means upon mastery of which hangs the missionary’s ability to interpret
the “Old, Old Story” to these Nimrods of the North at home in Igloo,
Komatik and Kyak.

Herein is the key to the hymn-singing, dancing figure that strikes such
a colourful note on deck when the ship first makes this land of the
Labrador.

At Hopedale, beside the Mission and the H. B. C. Store, with its simple
stock of groceries and its pelt-rooms, sometimes packed and sometimes
almost empty, according to the season, there are a few Eskimo wooden
houses and a big community kitchen with a score of these short, round
men and women gathered in the steam about the pot a-stew.

Here and there an old grandmother attends to coarse socks a-drying and
knocks the kinks out of skin boots and komatik harness on a sloping roof
concentrating the weak sun from the South, the while she minds the
children and keeps a wary eye on the few old dogs that pace wolfishly
and unceasingly up and down.

Labrador, like Newfoundland, has an interesting list of place-names. A
harbour with two openings, usually made by an island lying close to the
mainland or to another island, is called a “tickle”. Not the least
romantic feature of voyaging along the Labrador coast are these odd and
appropriate place-names. Think of sailing by “The White Cockade
Islands”, “Run-by-Guess”, or “Tumble-down-Dick”! Or of seeing the surf
bursting over “Mad Moll’s Reef”! Or of steering past “Lord’s Arm”,
“Lady’s Arm”, and “Caribou Castle!”



CHAPTER IX.

SAINT PIERRE ET MIQUELON.


_Nine miles from...._


Nine miles from Newfoundland lies Sainte Pierre et Miquelon, Island
Colony of France, her last remaining colonial possession in the “New
World”, north of the West Indies.

It lies, geographically, in the group of island stepping-stones, a
stone’s throw, a night out of North Sydney.

It is attended by “an old character” among sea-going craft, by name “Pro
Patria”, which has been on the route between Halifax and Saint Pierre
for perhaps more than a quarter of a century. She is little and worn and
old, so that when she came in to the wharf on the morning of our sailing
we were afraid to board her. But after awhile, seeing that the world
around took her as a matter of course, we stepped across the little
gang-plank, into a medley of general cargo, including several sheep on
foot. Next morning we were at Saint Pierre, the harbour which has made
it worth while to France to keep these “little rocky island-waifs of the
western Atlantic.”

Rounding Cap l’Aigle, a little Saint Malo lies outspread before us. And
from the mastheads of shipping at anchor, the tri-color of France waves
spiritedly in the ocean breeze.

The “Pro Patria” drew up at the Quai de la Ronciere. The Quai was black
with the crowd come to witness her coming and to welcome old friends
among the new arrivals.

       *       *       *       *       *

All the maisons and shops about the Square that faces the Quai, have
steep roofs like the parent roofs back in France and like their sisters
in Quebec. On the way to the door of Madame Coste’s pension, which had
been recommended, we passed the door of “The-Trans-Atlantic-Cable”,
which lifts its western end out of the water here, and saw the little,
yellow telegraph blank in a frame outside the door--the little sheet
that is Saint Pierre’s one daily newspaper--a small “daily” this, but
one the truth of whose news is wholly to be relied on. Every morning saw
us reading the news with _tout-le-monde_ gathered in front of this
journal, itself literally wet and dripping from the Ocean! Marine
Intelligence, indeed.

One of the earliest “signs” seen in a grocer’s window, read “Beurre
frais de Cheticamp a vendre”. We looked out on it from our casement
window at Madame C’s. And though “France” was written in every line of
street, in every shop window, in the great feather bed on which we
slept, on the smaller one with which we were supposed to cover
ourselves, who could feel themselves cut off in a foreign world, with
Cape Breton speaking each morning, just across the way? And when we
started out anew each day, a little water-soaked schooner as often as
not came gliding in to the Quai with “Down North” and “Up Along” written
in every line from masthead to water-line. Ottawa, Saint Pierre and
Saint John’s may be far apart, but Lamaline in Newfoundland, Cape North
to Cheticamp, C.B., and Saint Pierre are as “The Three Musketeers” for
brotherhood, drawn together by the ties of Trade, and the adventure that
lies in “smuggling”.

We had not been long at Saint Pierre before we began to realize that the
arrival of the little coastal Noah’s Arks with their floating
menageries, the pigs grunting, cocks crowing, sheep too stunned to
bleat, made a difference in our own menus. Madame C. chuckled whenever
we were able to report a fresh arrival at the Quai.

Other old acquaintances beside these coasters were not long in coming to
light. Cod is here, answering to the elegant title of “Monsieur Morue”.
Boats for his capture are rated in this island fleet as bateaux.

France operates on the “Grand Banks”; Saint Malo at home, and Saint
Pierre on the West, being her “bases”. But the fish-trade of Saint
Pierre is not what it was when ten thousand fishermen came here every
Spring to re-fit the “Bankers” put into winter-quarters here the
previous Autumn. Most of the fish now goes to France “green”, the dinner
tables of the world calling for more fresh fish than of old. Still, now
and again the steam trawlers come here, and there’s always a cargo or
two in “the making” on Ile aux Chiens, as well as on the south shore of
the harbour.

It is over there across the harbour that one sees the fishwives and the
women stevedores--women who take the fish in hand the day it comes from
the boats and put it through every process up to the stowing in the
transport’s hold. The master-stevedore chants the number of fish passing
through her hands in a loud, clear voice heard across the harbour. She
has evolved a dirge, a rich Litany to fish, “Un”, “deux”, “trois”,
“quatre”, “cinq”, etc., as they go headlong to their last ocean voyage.

[Illustration:

NEARING THE END.]

[Illustration:

AN ISLAND-WOMAN OF
SAINT PIERRE ET MIQUELON.]

On Ile aux Chiens, women meet the incoming dories and aid in splitting
and cleaning la morue. Strong personality and sweet womanhood mark these
island women.

Ile aux Chiens has a trade in Caplin-curing. A host of women work among
these small fish, so much in demand in Paris restaurants.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are no trolley-lines in Saint Pierre and but few voitures. The
ox-cart is here, attendant on the Salt Vessels, carrying off the salt
from them to the warehouses. It is a decidedly French cart, with high
sides. And the oxen wear a curious neck-yoke adorned with a fluffy
sheep-skin. A French driver urges the oxen to move, with many a “_Marche
donc_”.

Not the least interesting sights on Saint Pierre streets are the gay
uniforms of the gendarmes. But even these give place to the little
dog-carts everywhere, looking as if they had been transplanted out of
Belgium.

Two important and rather unique landmarks stand out at Saint Pierre
above all others; one, the figure of the Blessed Virgin, life size, set
in a deep niche of the cliff-side; the other, a huge Crucifix, mounted
high on a slim wooden Cross, standing on the hills above the town, and
silhouetted clear and strong against the sky.

Many stories centre around the origin of this cross. Some say it was
erected by the citizens to show their gratitude for a miraculous
preservation at the time of some great winter storm; others, that it was
erected in order that sailors leaving port might be reminded to turn
their thoughts and prayers to Him, Who alone has power to still the
waves and give prosperity. Still another story runs, that it is for
sailors entering port, to remind them to return thanks to Him Who has
brought them safely out of dangers and given them, perhaps in addition,
“a good catch”. To those who have lost--it points the only Comforter.

The street passing under the shadow of this Cross goes by the
distinctive name of Rue Calvaire. It is not surprising, therefore, to
have some fishwife, whose photograph you have just taken, tell you, when
asked for her address, that she lives “up ag’in the Cross”; that is, if
she is of Newfoundland origin, and speaks English; if she is French,
“‘Rue Calvaire’, Madame, s’il vous plait”--the street of the Cross.

The women of Saint Pierre wash their clothes in the streams, of which
there are several running down the hills at the back of the town. They
dam up the water with stones so as to form little pools, and kneel in
wooden boxes on the edge of these to wash. They slap the linen with a
flat piece of wood to make it very clean and white, and when all is
done, they carry it in a wet bundle on their backs up the hill, to
spread it to dry on the great rocks at the foot of the Crucifix.

A long way below this curious landmark of the hills, lies the cemetery,
one of the most beautiful spots in Saint Pierre. It has been made so by
a great deal of work, for so solid is the barren rock here that each
grave has had to be blasted out with charge after charge of dynamite.
But in the end each grave is surrounded by a wooden coping surmounted at
one end by a wooden cross painted black or white. The coping is filled
in with earth sifted from the debris of the blasts or brought from a
distance. In these enclosures flowers are massed till the entire
cemetery has the appearance of one great garden.

Love of flowers is a marked characteristic of the Saint Pierrais people.
Though there is practically no soil in the place, every window is a mass
of potted blooms. All these lilies, geraniums, oleanders, cacti,
begonias, etc., were brought from France. It is even said that the soil
in one little garden was brought here from France. Every Saturday
morning a little boy goes the rounds of the pensions and perhaps the
cafes, on his arm a small basket with a few nosegays of sweet
old-fashioned flowers. And these are bought up at once.

The central building of interest in Saint Pierre is the fine white
church, built to replace the old Cathedral destroyed by fire several
years ago, together with the Palais du Justice.

The new church possesses rare and valuable appointments. The stained
glass windows, most of them with Biblical motifs having to do with the
sea, are supported by rich altar appointments; but the note of
originality is struck by the score or more of tiny sailboats and
schooners which hang gracefully on wires suspended from the ceiling.

These miniature craft appear especially appropriate in this church that
owes its being to the sea. Each little boat is of course the votive
offering of some grateful mariner for miraculous preservation in some
great hurricane, collision or shipwreck, while pursuing la morue in one
of its many haunts, immediately off-shore or on the Grand Banks.

The Curé of this church has possibly the best garden in town. And
morning and evening he may be seen--a gardener in a soutane--doing his
best to coax along the flowers and vegetables. _Mais, oui._

The celebration of _La Messe_ and “Benediction” in this French-Colonial
church is attended with an unusual degree of pomp and ceremony. A
military air of precision is supplied by the commanding figure of Le
Maitre de Chapelle wearing the uniform and hat of a soldier of the Swiss
Guard, carrying a battle-axe over his shoulder, a sword by his side, and
in his gloved right-hand a tall, heavy black mace surmounted by a
massive silver ball.

In the processions, this imposing figure is followed by acolytes in
crimson and white gowns, each carrying a pole supporting a red, violet,
or blue lantern.

The music is wonderful, the “time” being kept by the “Suisse”, who also
precedes the two demoiselles down the aisles when they take up the
collection.

The church is situated at the opposite end of the town from the cemetery
and, whenever there is a funeral, the procession passes afoot, heralded
by a small boy with a beautiful voice, singing so ringingly the solemn
chants set for these occasions, that he can be heard far across the
harbour and distant points of the town, from which by reason of turns in
the streets the procession itself is invisible.

       *       *       *       *       *

Because of the geographical situation of the Saint Pierre et Miquelon
group, and the fact that they are a French Colony, conditions are found
here, possible nowhere else.

French wines and liqueurs flow here as naturally as in France itself.
Prohibition in Canada and the United States has made this font of wines
so close to the coast “a gift of the gods”. Smugglers deem it a good
“base” from which to operate “spirits” in general. In this new trade,
agents of the best Old Country distilleries have opened salesrooms here
and consignments and cargoes are constantly coming and going or being
placed in warehouses to await their chance of re-shipment.

In the cafes of Saint Pierre there is every variety of French wine. In
all the general shops, on shelves, neighbouring dress material,
sardines-in-oil, or _petits pois_ in tins, Vin ordinaire, Cassia, Eau
de Vie, Ginebvre, Anisette and Noyeaux appear as a matter of course.

During the war, trade came almost to a stand-still in Saint Pierre. The
shops, usually so overflowing with good things, had their stock entirely
depleted, and the women storekeepers were reduced to tears, as they
lamented “_La guerre, la guerre, Madame_”, as the cause of their
inability to supply this or that.

But now all this is changed. The Sun of Trade once more has sent its
enlivening rays along this foreign, island-waterfront. Gallic spirits
have recovered themselves in the forests of masts springing up in the
harbour.



CHAPTER X.

QUEBEC.

_It is in Quebec...._


It is in Quebec, the Old World city so curiously transplanted from
sixteenth century France, and set down here on its commanding bluff,
above the Saint Lawrence, that one takes the road of romantic history.

Driving through the steep, narrow streets, our two-wheeled Caleche,
itself the voiture of other centuries, seems a talisman, unlocking the
gray, steep-roofed, admirably-preserved houses, churches, monasteries,
convents, colleges, public buildings, tiny shops, all of them of
unmistakably French aspect, which flank our goings up or down the steep
ascents, which are the Quebec streets.

Romance clings to the old in architecture. Nowhere does she more frankly
look out upon the Canadian world roundabout, than from the casement
windows of Old Quebec.

But, if she only leaned from the windows, she must be a creature to
worship afar off. But Romance believes in “close-ups”. In Quebec she
draws near, takes you by the hand, and leads you over the threshold of
La Basilique--the French Cathedral.

Within, she continues to act as guide, while, paradoxically enough, she
is the essence of the treasures, paintings, altars, crypt, etc., to
which she points.

She steps with you into the almost holy quiet of L’Hotel Dieu, the
hospital founded by Madame La Duchesse, the niece of the great Cardinal
Richelieu; herself one of the most helpful and romantic figures that
ever stepped into Nouvelle France. It is to her, that French-Canada owes
L’Hotel Dieu, one of the finest hospitals in present-day Canada, or, for
that matter, in America.

The soft-stepping Sisters, passing from one bedside to another in their
picturesque robes, gently administering to the suffering of twentieth
century Quebec, are the descendants in an unbroken line of the
“Hopitalieres” who came here with La Duchesse in 1639.

Between the Basilica and the Hospital an old gateway opens into the
quadrangle of the Quebec Seminary, founded by Monsignor Laval, the great
figure of the Church in pioneer Quebec. Here, in the yard below the
long, gray building with its rows of open, French windows and its thick
walls, the youth of present-day French-Canada, in uniforms of
blue-tailored, skirted coats, with emerald-green sashes--rush hither
and thither in their games, directed by willowy figures of
teacher-priests in round hats and clinging soutanes. Romance seems to
linger long here, and to treasure greatly the atmosphere of Laval
University adjoining. Here is youth and its enthusiasms, a miracle-play
of welling human interest giving life to these old walls and halls and
never suffering them to grow old in spirit despite their years.

Then the caleche sets us down at the door of the Ursulines, and there
one asks to see the skull of General Montcalm. A sister brings it.

Montcalm! Wolfe! One cannot think of one without thinking of the other.
And thinking of them both, from the perspective afforded by a century
and a half, what do you see but the hand of Destiny gradually
eliminating the players in the game for the possession of a country far
greater than either side had any idea of, until only these two were left
in the limelight, one wearing the Fleur des Lys, the other the Rose of
England; each a true knight; each defending to the death, “the cause” he
had espoused; each, poetic and romantic figures in whom a United Canada
now rejoices.

But the sister is drawn out to talk of the city, of its many points of
interest, and of its general atmosphere of romance; agrees with you that
it is a wonderful treasure-house of souvenir and story. And then you are
moved to compliment her on her fluency in English. And she laughs and
says “she ought to speak it easily seeing she was born in Providence,
Rhode Island.”

Then, with an unmistakable flash of Yankee humour, she inquires if we do
not think it strange that a “Yankee” should be guardian of the skull of
Montcalm in Quebec? And we counter back: “Not so strange, as--romantic,
Sister!”

In strolling along that renowned promenade, the Dufferin Terrace, which
affords a glimpse of the Saint Lawrence far below in such a panorama of
natural beauty as beginning at one’s feet stretches away mile after mile
till lost in the soft mist of distance, one looks down upon the Lower
Town, whose narrow, old streets, and market-squares call to one to
explore them.

And so some morning we find ourselves in Lower Champlain Street--one of
the queerest old streets in the world. It leaves the markets and docks
behind and doubles around the base of Cape Diamond between the river and
the cliff, until all the city is lost to view and its sounds as
completely obliterated as if you were miles away from any mart.

[Illustration:

THE RAG MAT.]

[Illustration:

SPINNING.]

It was down here, in houses looking like rookeries under the great
cliff, and facing the watered-ribbon of a street, that in the great day
of Quebec’s wooden shipbuilding, lived with their families the
shipwrights, Hibernians and others, who came out from the Old Country to
engage in the shipbuilding trade.

But the life of this street was paralyzed when the industry declined;
and now many of the old, home-roofs are caving in and the old sides
bulging, and only here and there an octogenarian stands in her doorway
knitting in hand. Such an old orphan of a dead-and-gone industry is Mary
Ann Grogan. You stop to speak with her. Her knitting needles click
faster on the sock in her old hand, a-tremble with excitement that
anyone should care to “hear about old times”.

At first her story is an epic of wooden hulls. Through her spectacles,
as it were, you look out there to the edge of the River, the River where
now rides the visiting fleet of the North American squadron, and you see
the low-lying keel, the up-standing ribs, and men everywhere. And the
picture calls up other craft a-building at Levis, and on the banks of
the Saint Charles. And so great is the power of suggestion, that you
even include in the vision the three long ships of Jacques Cartier
putting in that “first winter”. “Surely, this is a wonderful old face,”
you think.

From the ships, she goes on to the street itself, the picturesque little
church, the Sisters’ little school, where the youngsters of the
remaining families struggle with the three R’s. But her story becomes
more dramatic, when she tells of the great landslide of the cliff
itself, the historic landslide that carried such loss of life and
destruction of property in its wake. One might read about it forever and
yet not visualize it as one does when Mary Ann tells you that “the noise
of it”, still lives in her old ears; “that she was born here and lived
here, but never before nor since, has she heard or seen the likes of
that morning.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The habitants of rural Quebec cling as tenaciously to the life and
atmosphere transplanted here from rural France more than three centuries
ago, as the inhabitants of Quebec city cling to the atmosphere of
ancestral French cities.

Here are the wayside ovens, the wayside crosses and shrines, the old
grist-mills, with water-wheel and upper-and-nether millstones. Here are
towers and windmills descended from Seigneurie times. Here are
century-old wool-carding mills with the ancient sign “Moulin a carde”
over the doorway.

Here are the little maisons with whitewashed sides and steep-curving
roofs whose birth-certificates date back to the days of the first
settlers. Hundreds of years old are these little habitant houses, but
because of the tender care they have received, they are, to-day, as
clean and fresh, within and without, as though built but yesterday.
Canada is rich in having in her possession such a sweet type of
architecture as these dear little farm-houses of the Province of Quebec.
She is rich, too, in the quaint French villages clinging to the
straggling, long highway, which as street culminates in _l’eglise_, or
the Parish church.

Quebec is especially rich in its atmospheric landscape, a landscape so
dear to the habitant heart that outstanding features have become
personalities. Thus, Montmorenci Falls is called “La Vache”--the Cow. A
landscape too, where peaceful church-spire is seldom out of sight of
church-spire. And all are within hail of some river--Saint Lawrence,
Richelieu, Saint Francois, or the Saguenay.

In the matter of place-names Quebec is not behind Newfoundland, except
that her taste runs to figures of the church rather than to figures of
the sea. Every Saint in the calendar must, we think, have a village
namesake in Quebec. On the north side of the Saint Lawrence, L’Ange
Guardien, Saint Anne, Saint Joachim, Saint Gregoire, strike a balance
with Saint Henri, Saint Fabien, Saint Hilaire on the south.

And if the villages be strung together aerially by church-spires, no
less are they united by the quaint roads, whereon oxcart and dog-cart
are as frequent as that of _le cheval_--roads flanked by the
roof-curving, French farm-houses homing the crafts of carding, dyeing,
spinning and weaving.

The spinning-wheel and the loom are not “has-beens” in the Quebec home,
by-gones relegated to the attic--but intimate pieces of furniture
actively a part of everyday life. And so when you step over one of these
thresholds, it is to find madame spinning--her clever fingers feeding so
fast from the distaff that the wheel flies around in a blur of motion;
or, to find her in the room under the eaves sitting at her loom, in her
hand the flying-shuttle, about her, everywhere, on chairs and boxes and
overflowing to the floor, balls of yarn of all sizes and colours.

And when Madame is not weaving her “_couverts_” or “_tapis_”, she is
toying with wool in some one of its preparatory stages from the sheep’s
back to the finished homespun. Or she may even be caring for the home
sheep, bringing up a lamb by hand or something of that sort. The
habitant women are never at a loss for work.

And when Madame is not thus engaged one may happen upon her in the shade
of some dooryard-tree, sitting before a homemade quilting-frame, busily
quilting her hand-pieced coverlets of artistic, original designs. On
these occasions she is accompanied by her little daughter of six or
seven years, daintily tracing the thread-line with her little fingers in
imitation of “Mama”.

In these habitant homes, Grandmere’s busy fingers take much of the
knitting for the _grand famille_ in hand. Grandmere it is, too, who
moulds the high-coloured peaches, grapes, apples, plums, “hands”, and
what-not figures, from the wax that is the by-product of the
honey-making, home-bees.

Whenever one turns in to these country yards, the geese, that are the
watch-dogs of the habitant farm-yards, herald your approach; but the
work of the day is not stopped, although M’sieu, Madame, the children,
one and all welcome the visitor, taking it for granted that the life and
industries connected with the running of these self-supporting farms
should prove entertaining to anyone.

Thrift is the keynote everywhere, but the habitant apparently never
hurries. Life has not changed much in the centuries, except that with
the growth of the times the habitant farms have increased in wealth,
represented in part by a larger stock. Cows, porkers and sheep are
everywhere. But behind the split-rail fences are the same little
pocket-handkerchief patches of growing tabac in cup-like shields of
white birch bark as M’sieu’s father and grandfather planted.

The passage of Time makes no radical changes. M’sieu is as handy a
craftsman as ever. Nor is there any appreciable line of demarcation as
to who shall do this or that, but all members of the family work
helpfully together. Madame goes into the fields with the children and
helps her husband to get in the hay. And, in his spare moments, M’sieu
picks over and lightens up the wool a-drying on the little balcony.

On Sundays the entire family gets into the roomy carry-all and drives to
Mass at the church. The weather must be bad indeed, which causes the
pious habitant to fail in his attendance at _La Messe_.

In keeping with his deep regard for the spiritual, one is not surprised
in Quebec, in more or less every household, to find, in a corner of the
living-room, on a neat, little handmade shelf, a large or smaller figure
of Christ, Mary, or Bonne Sainte Anne, with a tiny lamp burning before
it. The same figures give distinction to the little grocery-shops and
_boulangeries_ of the towns and villages, each figure lighted by its
little candle or incandescent bulb, smiling down, as in sweet
benediction, upon merchant and customer.

The demand for holy figures of this type creates a rare personality of
the Quebec gallery of _genre_ in the “Sculpteur”.

Strolling along some morning, one may chance to come upon the
“sculpteur” at work, at the window of his little shop in the outskirts
of some St. Lawrence town, the white figure of the Saviour with extended
arms in his hand, and on the table row after row of smaller figures, in
various stages of completion.

The use of the religious figure is not confined to the indoors of
Quebec, but over the barn-doors of the farms throughout the Province,
the carved figure of some guarding Saint sheds atmosphere upon the
churn, the wooden shoulder-yoke for bringing water or pails of maple-sap
in its season, or on milk-pails glistening in the sun, on the
fence-posts.

       *       *       *       *       *

In travelling in Quebec, one cannot help but be struck by the harmony
between artistry and toil. This, doubtless is a French trait, curiously
and happily preserved through centuries of pioneer life. Seldom indeed,
if ever, in Quebec, is the most trifling thing wrought that is not made
in some simple way to have its own art-character. If Madame knits a sock
she combines some little thread of colour to give it character. The rag
mat, which the little daughter tresses in a long braid around the back
of a chair, though it may be put to hardest wear eventually, is made a
symphony in colour. It is the same when M’sieu chooses to paint the
little maison, he has a way of painting the ends of the house one colour
and the sides another, yet effecting by a combination of two harmonious
shades a whole that is--_charmant_.

       *       *       *       *       *

In passing out of Quebec City the romantic road of history is not left
behind. Few villages of rural Quebec but have been the stage of some
outstanding historic event or personage. Beauport

[Illustration:

TADOUSAC HAS LOST NONE OF
ITS SCENIC BEAUTY.]

[Illustration:

AN OLD TRADING-POST
AT BAIE ST. PAUL.]

knew Montcalm. Montmorenci found the Duke of Kent so enthusiastic over
“la vache” that he has a villa built almost immediately on its banks.
Cape Rouge knew Cartier and Roberval. Tadousac knew the Basques and
Bretons who came to fish and to barter with the Indians for furs,
received some of the earliest missionaries, and to-day boasts a tiny
chapel founded by them in the early years of the seventeenth century,
one of the earliest Mission chapels in Canada, and dedicated to Sainte
Anne. To this little church Anne of Austria gave a bambino, still among
the church’s treasures.

Scattered here and there over the northern end of the Province one
happens on some old Hudson’s Bay Company trading post. A house of more
pretentious dimensions with steeper roof than its neighbours, usually
remains as mute evidence that the great Company was once here. Such a
house stands at Baie St. Paul, behind a sentinel-like line of Lombardy
poplars and carrying over a door the date 1718.

Quebec is a piece of fine tapestry, in which multitudinous threads
combine to form the warp and woof of the perfect whole, a whole,
wonderfully woven under the hand of Romance.



CHAPTER XI.

LES ILES DE MADELEINE “THE NECKLACE”.

_Having met some...._

[Illustration:

THE WOOL FOR THESE HOMEMADE LOOMS IS GROWN ON THE
SHEEP GRAZING ON THE SLOPES OF LES DEMOISELLES.]

[Illustration:

SEUMAS O’BRIEN. AUTHOR AND SCULPTOR.]


Having met some notable woman, Queen or Court lady, and been charmed by
her graciousness, and having recounted some of the qualities which are
component of that grace, one’s thoughts turn naturally to memory of her
adorning jewels. It is like that with Quebec.

Quebec’s outstanding jewels are _Les Iles de Madeleine_ in the Gulf of
St. Lawrence. The earliest French navigators seeing the islands for the
first time were so impressed with their beauty, they called them, in the
poetic language so natural to those gentlemen-explorers of the sixteenth
century, “The Necklace”. Time has substantiated the courtly compliment.
For that is just what they are--Canada’s “Necklace of Pearls” on the
bosom of the Gulf.

The pearls of the Necklace are small, and there are not many of them,
only six or seven in all, but each is of the finest quality, handsomely
strung together on long threads of creamy sea sand--embryo pearls-to-be
perhaps--circling to partly enclose an indicated rather than attained
roadstead where navigation may find a little shelter from the fury that
at times strides about the Gulf.

The Madeleine Islands, though in the path of passing ships, are seldom
approached directly except by the staunch little seaboat of the “Pro
Patria”, “Lady Sybil”, or “Amelia” type, that once a week brings and
takes the mails, freight and such passengers as chance affords.

The “Amelia” is a rugged character, a wayward “bird of passage”, at one
with the unbroken spirit of the Islands she serves. We do not know what
Madeleine would do without her. Variations which she chooses to make in
the matter of “first ports of call” on the weather wisdom of her
skipper, but add to the charm of voyaging in her to these remote
objectives.

Coming thus to the “Magdalens” from Pictou, it is in the early morning,
when the summer sun tips above the Eastern horizon of waters, that one
beholds the first speck of land. Unfolding before you as the Amelia
proceeds, a curiously-rounded beehive hill appears above a stretch of
land tapering to a long sand-spit edged with curling sea-wrack.
Approaching yet nearer, other fair, rounded, treeless hills complement
the first. These hills, exclamatory remarks of fellow passengers soon
enlighten one, are “Les Demoiselles”. They, with the sand-bars, miles
in length, are the chief physical characteristics, as it later turns
out, of these remote islands.

Then, after coasting miles along, the Amelia picks up an opening between
a sand-bar and an island and comes alongside the Government pier at
Havre Aubert on Pleasant Bay, Amherst Island.

Of course, we “put up” at Shea’s Hotel. It sounds very commonplace, as
names go, but Shea’s is the heart of the Madeleines. The proprietors are
three, (or is it four?) unmarried sisters of what may be briefly summed
up as “the land-mark type”. Their father before them kept a cottage
boarding-house, so the past is theirs as well as every detail of
present-day island life. In addition to her work at the “hotel”, Miss
Mary keeps a little shop on the shingle between Mount Gridley and
Amherst and Miss Johanna, beside bringing the palatable food from the
kitchen to the table, is the telegraph operator.

“Shea’s”, too, is the rendezvous of all the “drummers” of Canadian trade
on these islands. So that although the Islands have no newspapers, one
is here in daily touch with a remarkable ebb and flow of world news, all
the more vivid and impressive because of the dramatic, human touches
which each raconteur puts into the telling.

But the Madeleines are places where the out-of-doors is constantly
offering attractions to win one to wander near and far. The views
everywhere reward one’s walks. There is, too, a daily excuse to hunt
mushrooms on the smooth rounded hills and grassy cliffs which few find
themselves able to resist. In this intimate way one comes to know La
Demoiselle.

La Demoiselle appeals to the imagination. It is one of those rare spots
which remains a high-light of memory. One never forgets climbing over
it, following the sheep-paths, feasting on its insular and marine
outlook, or watching the rare sunsets, almost tropical in their
richness, which are the lord of the day’s parting salute to these sea
children.

“La Demoiselle” was the expressive name given this hill by those same
early French adventurers who first called the whole group the
“Necklace”. They had the imagination and fancy which pictured the land
as a woman, and these fair hills, as the pulsing breasts of the
sea-maiden sunning herself, with her sand-spit body awash in the waves.
O Canadian sculptor behold a “figure” to hand in Les Madeleines.

Not the least attractive feature of the scenery are the ashes-of-roses
colours acquired by some parts of the cliffs, especially those west of
la Demoiselle. These colours are wonderfully effective when contrasted
against the gray sea, or the velvet greenness of the cliff grass. It was
while rambling along these cliffs a few summers ago that Seumas O’Brien,
author and sculptor, happened by chance upon an outcropping of clay of
so fine a nature that he later took some back with him to “Shea’s” and
there, in a little studio improvised in the vacant cottage that was the
former hotel, he soon had several charming “figures” to his credit,
among them, “The Head of a Child” and “An Irish Troubadour”, one of
those quaint Irish figures of village and road who entertain with
stories to the accompaniment of an old fiddle.

The inhabitants of the Madeleines are of Acadian-French descent. The
life which centres in the scattered cottages reveals unspoiled the
Acadian spinning-wheel, the ponderous loom, and handicraft that takes
the raw wool direct from the sheep’s back grazing out in the eye of the
wind on Les Demoiselles, and converts it into homespun garment, sock, or
_tapis_.

The handiwork of the Madeleine spinners and weavers reaches its highest
achievement in the _catalogne_ or bedspread. Not alone is the work fine
but the favourite white ground forms just the right contrast needed to
bring out the sweet colours employed in the motif. Not even in the heart
of Quebec have we seen any weaving to compare with these _catalognes_ of
the Madeleines. They catch added character, it often seems, from the
looms on which they are made. At Havre Maison, on Alright Island, we
once happened on a Madame weaving at an old loom made from the flotsam
and jetsam pieces of wood which had at different times been salvaged
from the sea--here an upright out of an old mast, there a bar from a
broken oar. Madame, with shuttle from the same source, rudely shaped, in
her hand, was working as under the fire of inspiration, her bobbins and
wools all scattered about her on boxes and on the floor, the while the
attic window by which she sat looked out upon the barachois or lagoon
enclosed by sand, and beyond that to the far-stretching gray waters of
the Gulf.

In _Les Iles de Madeleine_, _catalognes_ and _tapis_ are heirlooms. Once
at Grindstone Island an old gentleman seeing our interest in these
fruits of the Island looms, bade his daughter take us into the attic and
show us those which his mother had made. There were several sea chests
full. And each was of sufficient beauty to justify the old gentleman’s
pride in them.

Wool is an indispensable raw material in the home economy of the
housewives whom circumstances have set down on these islands so far
removed from marts of the “ready-made”. That is largely the reason why
so many sheep are seen everywhere, there being seldom a family but owns
one or more. And what fine, clean wool it is! And what excellent
flavoured mutton comes to the Shea table via a boat-market from Entry
Island.

The chief industry of the Madeleines is mackerel fishing, with cod
running it a close second, and lobstering employing a number of
old-timers whose day of fishing is done.

The waters about the Madeleines are the magnets of sealers in the
Spring. But it is mackerel which chiefly magnetizes the life and
sketches the characters especially Madeleinian.

Sprightly white, clinker-built, skiff-like boats are here, boats with
long and graceful lines, eager in sailing but of sufficient “beam” to
carry the “catch”. These harbour in haven-pools which seem to have been
scooped out of the waves for just such a purpose. One of these little
harbours is called La Bassin, a name which speaks for itself.

The waters about the Madeleines have a curious way of throwing up a
sand-bar some distance away from, and parallel with, the beach itself,
between the bar and the beach there being a long strip of water of
differing widths. This lagoon is called a barachois, and each island
seems to have at least one of these. The mackereling appears to centre
around the Barachois, perhaps because there is something in the set of
the Gulf currents which brings the marine food of the mackerel in their
direction, or because the mackerel-boat, with the Barachois behind her,
is never without a way of retreat in case of being overtaken by a
squall. So, wishing to catch the atmosphere, one has to go down to the
Barachois at dusk when the boats begin to come in. Then are seen women
coming from all directions in their two-wheeled island-carts with
flashing lanterns casting a flare and flicker of light, now brilliant,
now dim to extinguishment, as the horses step into a rut or sink in the
yielding sand.

The boats, one or two at a time, come hurrying in from the Barachois,
unstepping their masts and sails and simultaneously burying their bows
in the wet and heavy sand of the landwash. Then is witnessed, a spirited
bit of action to be seen nowhere

[Illustration:

THE SAMPLER.]

[Illustration:

THE LASSIE WITH BRETON CAP.]

else in Canada. The women pass the supper they have brought to the men,
and while these hungrily consume their evening meal on the sands,
Mesdames having taken the horses out of the carts, hook the traces on to
the boats and before M’sieu can come to their aid, first one and then
another has “clucked” to her horses, the reins in the strong hands are
taut, the horses are straining and floundering in the shifting sand,
madame or sturdy demoiselle skillfully keeping her own feet and
admonishing “_les chevals_” with a commanding “_Marche donc!_” “_Marche
donc!_” which would make any horse obey. Thus is attained the lively
progression of the boat up the beach, to the appointed place of safety
above the reach of the high tide, however angrily, through the night
waves may curl and foam.

If you come here in the early morning, as many as sixty or seventy boats
stand gunwale to gunwale on different parts of the long beach, answering
the roll call of a great industry.

But it is on the north shore of Amherst, about the sand bar joining
Amherst with Grindstone and partly enclosing Basque Harbour, that one
sees still other groups and figures essentially of the Madeleines. Women
and children, horses and carts, and dog-carts here appear far out from
land, afoot in the low water that washes for miles the undersea
sandbanks. Women and children and lassies with Breton caps, stand
ankle-deep in the water with hand-made three-pronged forks, like the
trident of a sea-god, in hand, digging and digging clams for bait,
piling them into the receiving baskets and pails, and thence into the
waiting carts--the carts in which island horses doze between the shafts,
the rising tide lapping their fetlocks. It is a rare sight this
clam-digging in the Madeleine barachois! And so far as we know one not
duplicated anywhere in America. It occurs only at low-tide and it is
therefore possible to pass any number of times at full tide and not see
anything of it. But should it once be chanced upon, it will never be
forgotten. Never was there a “piece” with so much atmosphere and action.
While the tide is still ebbing the women wade far out to the edge of the
clam line and begin their uncovering of the mollusc harvest. Even after
the tide turns and begins to come in, they still hold their own with a
bold front, retreating a few inches only, at a time. Atmospheric indeed
is the effect produced by all these people, the horses in the
two-wheeled carts, and the tiny dog-carts, when they are half shrouded
in a soft wet fog creeping in from sea. Then it is as though Nature
wished to reiterate that ’tis she who is the Great Artist, composing
Aquamarines that no mere human artist can ever hope to touch.

Sometimes the low tide happens at night. And at dusk one meets the women
driving in their carts, the lighted lanterns beside them, lanterns which
later in the evening will appear to one looking off to the barachois
like so many amphibious fire-flies dancing above the waves and lighting
up the restless waters and the night gloom with a ghastly flare.

This night-scene is of even rarer quality than that screened by the day.
Certainly this is exclusively a Madeleine canvas.

But the clamming is a serious industry. On it hangs the success or
failure of the mackerel-fishing. Only so can M’sieu start out in the
little boat early in the morning to fish. Only so can the “Mackerel from
the Madeleines” arrive in Halifax to keep busy caulkers and brine-boys,
and keep flowing the stream of Canadian export trade in fish.

But not until one passes on the highway at Grindstone some morning when
it is too rough for the “Amelia” to make her call at Etang du Nord, and
meets the procession of island-carts with their loads of barrels going
overland to the public wharf on the lea-side of the island, does one
carry any idea of the vast number of “Number Ones” which actually go out
from here to Halifax, and thence, to the tables of the world.

It is on “shipping days” that one realizes that Madeleine, no less than
Evangeline, is a sport, risking all her business success on the turn of
the “barrel”.

But fish is everywhere--a summer trade. And summers pass all too
swiftly. It is in winter that Madeleine is thrown in upon herself; cut
off from the world by the ice for six months of the year.

It is then the Mesdames of the islands--Amherst, Grindstone, Alright,
Coffin, Grosse Ile and Entry--settle down to the loom, take the old
spinning wheels between their knees; and make the Catalognes, the
Catalognes, the equals of which are seen nowhere else in all Quebec. It
is in winter the island-artizans choose and blend the colours that make
the prettiest “couverts” to use and to lay away in the old sea-chests.

In winter, spinning by the window, madame looks out upon long endless
stretches of ice-imprisoned sea, solid masses of the Gulf ice that
closes navigation and separates herself and family from habitant
families ashore. Yet because “the Sea” is in their blood not one of
these Islanders would change places with the people ashore. “What of
adventure,” inquire they, “is there in inland lives compared with ours,
literally held in the sea’s hand? _Mais, non._” The Amelia makes her
last trip a few days before Christmas. But even so, although no one can
get off the islands after that, news still comes and goes by way of the
Telegraph Cable and “Miss Johanna” becomes a figure in the limelight, as
operator.

       *       *       *       *       *

Lying to the North and somewhat apart from the main pearls of “The
Necklace” are “The Bird Rocks”.

On the largest of these a lighthouse stands, an aid to navigation. It is
a very lonely spot and no one except the lighthouse keeper and his
family live there. But these desolate rocks have a claim on Romance
through the thousands of wild sea-birds, who in summer make them their
habitat and nesting-place. These sea-birds, chiefly the beautiful cafe
au lait coloured gannet, have three major haunts in the Gulf of Saint
Lawrence, at these “Bird Rocks”, at Percé Rock and at Bonaventure Island
off the Percé-Gaspé shore.

The first signs of human life the lighthouse keeper sees in the spring
are brought by the Sealing ships coming into the Gulf after seals that
frequent the ice pans.

Usually the keeper of the Bird Rock Light is a Madeleiner from
Grindstone or House Harbour. Once, spending a week at Havre Maison we
boarded with a widow whose husband had been a keeper of this lighthouse.
Graphic indeed were her tales of the weirdness, loneliness and yet
fascination of the life. She told, too, what happiness was theirs on
seeing the first birds coming in the spring.



CHAPTER XII.

PERCÉ.

_No visible connections...._


No visible connections exist between the faraway Iles des Madeleine and
Percé, between Mai Baie and Baie des Chaleurs; but, in the fact that
both the Bird Rocks and Percé Rock have been selected as summer homes
and nesting-places by those beautiful creatures of the air, the wild
sea-birds, there is a certain psychological bond of the deepest nature.

Percé Rock, according to surveyors, is fourteen hundred feet long and
three hundred feet high at the highest end. It is a rock that carries in
its sharp, almost cutting lines, an air of great dignity and strong
personality. It is outstanding. People speak of it as “The Rock”, as if
nowhere around this rocky coast there were any other like unto it. And
there is not. Along the Gulf it is a landmark; along the entire Gaspé
shore a dominating character.

In itself it is barren and without life, more than a stunted scrub of
tree and a little sprinkling of green at one place on the top. Its
almost vertical sides are of a metallic, coppery hue. Its heart is burnt
out. Geologically it is a mausoleum, a grave, wherein millions of
trilobites were buried and turned to stone in that far away age to which
the trilobite belongs. Yet it is this great heart of stone that the
seabirds have undertaken to warm and have succeeded in making a thing of
life, with mother hearts and baby cries, and the flashing wings of their
constant coming and going.

The bird life here is a sort of commonwealth, in which the magnificent
cafe-au-lait colours of the gannet predominate. “Watching the birds” is
one of the pastimes indulged in by all visitors to Percé. And there seem
to be more and more people here every year just “watching the birds”.

With a powerful telescope you can see mothers feeding the young mouths
in the seaweed nests. You can see them teaching the A. B. C. of flying
to youngsters yet in their pin-feathers. And you can see them on the day
they almost push their young to their first take-off. And when they have
taught the nestlings to fly, they must, having conquered the air, begin
all over again on that even more difficult element, the water.

Out there beyond the Government Pier which the mother does not mind in
the least, having somehow sensed that the same parental hand behind the
old piers holds her and her brood in its protecting palm, (both Ottawa
and Washington are pledged to the protection of these wild birds of the
sea), she gives her brood their first swimming-and-diving lessons and
afterwards, almost without telling, they learn “to fish” for themselves.

Apart from The Rock and its feathery crown of life and its raucous
voice, stilled only at night, other, many human “birds of passage” have
from time to time landed here at Percé.

Along the long North Beach, fenced on the West by walls of rock--Les
Muraille’s and beetling Cape Barre--came, five hundred years ago, the
fleet-winged bateaux from whose decks stepped down that most picturesque
figure of the early Canadian stage, Jacques Cartier.... After him came
the Recollets to say Mass on the beach, and set up the parent wooden
cross on Mount Joli. Years and years after these, a colony of Jerseymen
from the Channel Islands was weaned from the tides that race about
Jersey and Guernsey to fish in the waters of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence
contiguous to Percé, and to carve out for itself homes and a footing in
the business world of Nouvelle France, now merged in Canada. Side by
side with the habitant homes of Percé are the places of business and the
cosy homes of the Channel Islanders, now among the leading figures of
the fish and general-merchant business of this shore.

The fleet of fishboats, anchoring in the little haven afforded by Cape
Barre, are thus still curiously French in model and rig, notwithstanding
the fact that many of their old sides and seams are tarred in sisterly
fashion with the old boats of Newfoundland. Of course, Percé has its
up-to-date motor boats, etc. But for all that, the heavy fishing, the
big catches of morue, are still brought to the North and South Beaches
by these old-timers among boats.

Of all the fisherfolk of the long Coastal road--and what a road it
is--none work so late at night or so much by lantern-light as those
around Percé beach. The land-end of fishing always makes a picture,
wherever happened upon, but when the twinkling of lanterns lights the
faces of the splitters at work about the splitting tables and the fish
gleams white as it slides from the table to the tub as it does at Percé
there is something Romantic indeed in the scene. Till ten, even twelve,
and once as late as two o’clock in the morning, we have seen the
lanterns gleam on Percé Beach and watched the black figures of the men
flitting to and fro with hand-barrow and cart, carrying the loads of cod
into the waiting room to the hand of the salters.

[Illustration:

AT PERCÉ,
ON THE GASPÉ COAST.]

[Illustration:

A LITTLE ANGLER.]

No less Romantic is the pageant afforded by the boats and their lanterns
upon the nights on which the men jig for squid. Squid is the bait in
favour among Percevian fishermen, as clams are in the Madeleines, and
bait-getting is an industry in itself, here as there.

In the darkness of the night a long line of black boats, like huge
bodies of lantern-fireflies, may be seen jigging for squid, under the
pale light of the stars, half a mile or so beyond the Government Pier.
The effect of these queer dancing lights above the black water and the
blacker boats, when seen from shore, is just as weird and romantic as
the clam scene out there further, in these same Gulf waters about the
Madeleine Islands. A difference lies in the fact that that scene is
staged by women and this entirely by men. At Percé the men get their own
bait, without aid from their women-folk, and at the same time must go
out to the fishing-grounds with the morning tide; while in the Iles des
Madeleines, as we have shown, it is the women who stand in the trenches
of the farms-of-the-sea, turning out with their homemade forks the
clam-nubbins that are the potatoes of these amphibious fields.

Along the codfishing-shores of the Maritime Provinces and in all the
long line of Newfoundland-Labrador and Saint Pierre outports the women
are co-workers with the men in this great coastal business of Cod. It is
their hands that double the help on it, enabling the men to handle large
catches because they can stand to the line for longer hours. The
Mackerel-men of the Madeleines never have to ask where bait’s to come
from.

The women-folk of Percé are in no way to blame. Different conditions are
here. To jig for squid one must get into a boat. And it will be noted
that coastal fishwives stop at the water’s edge. The most venturesome
among the women, lending the strongest hand with the fish, always stops
short of getting into a boat. With terra firma under their feet they are
helpmates indeed. But the instability of a keel afloat shears them of
all strength. One and all coastal women strange as it may seem are
landlubbers of the deepest dye. So, Percevian fishermen must perforce
hold up both ends, and that they do it well the splitting-tables and the
flakes of both the long beaches, North and South, testify.

A character often encountered on the North beach is the old lobsterman
who, too old for the boats, has taken to lobster-pots. No greater
picture is made from the pierhead than that made the moment he in his
little punt pushes out on the silver-gray sea against the projecting
headland of the great Rock about which the wheeling sea-birds circle and
cry.

Another beach character is the man with the ox-cart, who comes to gather
seaweed for the fields. Deadweed and other seaweeds washing in all
around this Gulf coast create an atmosphere all their own, coming as
they do in deep drifts along the shelving beach, themselves the “crop”
of many an undersea garden near and far; a voluntary contribution to the
land-gardens that are enough of sea-salts themselves to understand and
appreciate the sprawling, dragon-like motif thrown up by the sea.

And as the seaweed cart goes geeing and hawing along the Percé main
streets to some hinterland farm, no fragrance seems so tangy and
refreshing as that thrown out by the dying weed, blindly obedient to the
laws governing the great Epic, spelled by Production.

It would indeed be strange if the superlative coastal scenery of
Percé--its rare cliffs and rocks so magnetic to the scientist, both
Geologian and Zoologist--had not drawn to itself the artist, the man or
the woman to whom line and color are as meat and drink. An occasional
figure, solitary on the pierhead, holding palette and brush, essaying a
group of schooners and boats clumped against the pierside, may make a
figure in your morning picture of the Gulf and the riding boats flanked
by the bronzy rock cradling the birds. But these figures are rare--one
or two in a summer perhaps. Of these Mr. James is still the outstanding
figure and his is--“a dead command.”

James came to Percé twenty-five years or more ago. A landscape artist of
note, he hailed from Philadelphia. Percé in the individuality of her
headlands and cliffs, sharp as edges of broken china, in the towering
Mount Sainte Anne, in the spaciousness of the Amphitheatre facing toward
the mountains that the geologist says are the vertebrae of the
continent, in her homing birds, in the sprightly boats continually going
and coming, wound about his artistic soul all the magic of her spell. He
built himself and wife the home that so gracefully sits on the top of
Cap au Cannon. From here he sallied forth day after day with his
canvasses. Home here he brought them metamorphosed, replicas of the
beach, the cliffs, the vanishing roads, the great Rock. Home, too, from
his many jaunts and his many friends among the country-folk, he brought
the wonderful gems that go to make up the valuable and interesting James
collection of old Lustreware. Both Mr. James and his wife became a part
of the Percé life. At his death Mrs. James continued to live in the home
on the cliff. The poor of Percé speak of her as “Our Lady of Percé”,
playing on the word Mercy. For the poor and needy have in her an
understanding and helpful friend indeed. From her husband’s paintings
she has had postcards made and with the proceeds keeps many a lone old
woman under the wing of comfort, whom the dark days of a bitter Gulf
winter must otherwise pinch.

It was Mrs. James who sponsored Marie’s little tea-house five miles out
along the Coulie toward Corner o’ the Beach. Every summer tourist knows
“Marie’s” where the tables ranged on the grass are enclosed with
windshields of sweet smelling spruce trees cut and stuck into the ground
and weighted down with wild strawberries and country cream.

And speaking of “Marie’s” reminds us that the wayside oven and the big
French loaf are characters of the Percé highway--reminds us that here
_la vache_ wears a neckyoke as in Les Madeleines.

Percé boasts the spinning wheel, with Madame, second to none of her
habitant sisters up and down the whole Province, in her mastery of
_laine_.

Among its quaint maisons Percé has an unique figure, happened upon by us
nowhere else--the Beachmaster’s Cottage. The Beachmaster as a
“character” was unknown to us till we crossed his “stage” at Percé.

Bonaventure Island, too, lies three miles offshore--Bonaventure Island
that harbours the memory of Peter Duval of buccaneer fame, skipper of a
privateer named the Vulture. How he did harry the French coast during
the war with Bonaparte! Who knows but Captain Duval was a connoisseur in
Lustreware, who knows but many of the beautiful pieces in the James
collection and others in many a home of this shore crossed the seas at
his instigation? At any rate, Bonaventure Island, which was his last
“ship”, is now skippered by kindred spirits, the wild sea-gulls whose
ancestors may many a time have snatched of the crumbs that washed astern
from the Vulture’s tables.



CHAPTER XIII.

WAYSIDE CROSSES AND GARDEN SHRINES.

_Vanishing roads...._


“Vanishing roads,” no less than “the broad highway” of rural Quebec, are
all more or less edged by wayside crosses and tiny garden shrines. From
east to west and north to south the Quebecquois travels _a la rue
Calvaire_.

But this via crucis is by no means a via dolorosa. Far from it! For the
habitant does not set up his handmade, roadside cross, abounding with
symbols of the crucifixion, in a spirit of sadness, but rather as the
expression of a happy life full of rich traditions of such crosses in
Old France, brought over by his forefathers, and reproduced here in old
Quebec since Cartier’s time.

The wayside cross is now part of the landscape, in the habitant’s eye,
and to his mind, a happy calendar by which to notch events. It is in
this spirit that the habitant landholders and heads of families in old
Quebec set out to carve “the cross” that is the age-old milestone of the
roads--the cross by which they will be remembered long ages after they
have taken the hill-road to the _cimetiere_.

The carving is a winter-evening task, begun after the day’s work is
over, when the grande famille have all had _super_. _C’est bon._ All the
family is interested in _le pere’s_ intention to make a new cross. The
wood in hand is carefully gone over and the best pieces selected.
Measurements are made “according to the cloth” and the sawing and
planing begun. _Mon Pere’s_ ideas are rounded out by suggestions from
_le mere et les enfants_. Not one evening but many are consumed, till
the winter runs away. And when in the spring all is ready and the new
cross is set up, what wonder if it has an individuality all its own?
This being the way these roadside crosses grow, there is good reason why
not any two are alike.

One sometimes notes these crosses, shrines and chapels in the heart of
towns but usually they stand beside country roads in coastal,
agricultural and mountain sections. It is country-folk who set up these
rich milestones of the highway, in old Quebec. And whenever they appear
in the heart of town or village it means either that some old-timer
caused them to be so placed or that they were before the town, and that
the latter encroached.

Such a case as this is to be seen in two little wayside chapels to bonne
Saint Anne in Levis. Modern town life has encroached upon them to such
an extent it is extremely difficult to get even a picture of them clear
of telegraph poles, wires, etc., yet these little chapels, built one in
1789, the other in 1822, before electricity was heard of for power and
light, are still in use for the feast of good Sainte Anne.

What a cyclorama of Canadian history these little chapels could sketch
for the pilgrims of to-day, looking out from their doorways upon the
bosom of the Saint Lawrence. How many a vivid chapter of the olden days
was read by these little wayside shrines before it happened. Through
what stirring times has the little red light before the altar not
pointed the way of hope to men along the road of life? We hope that
Levis will never grow so big but she will have a place for these wayside
chapels that belong by right of the years and the things they have seen,
to all Canada.

But to the highway voyager of to-day it is their size that points a
revelation. How few, he thinks, must have been the people of this parish
at the time these chapels were built, if all went to mass at the same
hour. It is a tradition in Quebec that “at first wayside crosses were
set up at points where mass was said in the open air and later these
little chapels were built.” If this be so, here on this spot missionary
priests of pioneer times caused “a wayside cross” to be set up long
years before the foundation stone of these chapels was laid or Levis as
a town thought of--another reason why the sacred land should never be
absorbed by the town.

One reads much and hears much in Quebec of the landing of the great
sea-adventurers of the French discovery, who invariably brought with
them missionary priests. No tale in history appeals more to the
imagination than the landing of the Recollet Fathers at Percé and the
setting up of the cross on the bluff headland opposite Percé Rock. If
you go to Percé to-day--like “the weathered skeleton of time”, the cross
with its extended arms silhouetted against the sky, still stands on the
same spot chosen in 1535. A similar wealth of tradition gathers about
the head of the little wayside chapel at Tadousac. To the visitor, much
of the charm of Tadousac centres in this chapel dedicated to “_la
patronice du Canada_”--bonne Sainte Anne--and out of use these fifty
years except on special occasions, chief of which is naturally the fete
day of good

[Illustration:

LA CROIX, THE AGE-OLD MILESTONE
OF THE QUEBEC HIGHWAY.]

[Illustration:

LA CALVAIRE.]

Saint Anne. By the way, Saint Anne holds not only an esteemed but an
adventurous enshrinement in the heart of French Canada. It was she who
protected the early navigators, she who encouraged, sheltered, finally
havened the Breton sea-adventurers in the bays and coves of the Lower
St. Lawrence. And the farther seaward reach the highways of this part of
Canada to-day, the more popular appears Saint Anne for wayside shrines.
She is a personality with a very human and approachable heart to all
fishermen; and every little boat dancing in and out of Baie de Chaleur
feels the eye of Ste. Anne upon her. _La Protectrice de Pecheurs!_ Every
fisherman carries a little figure of the saintly woman whose specialty
is navigation, fishing, storms, boats, la morue, and a thousand-and-one
angles of his life; and then, as if fearing something might be
overlooked, clinches all with _du Canada_.

Therefore, where the abrupt Laurentians fling their beetling brows to
the wild gales and dun sea-fog, there on _la montagne_ at Percé, at the
very top, as if to see well the little boats balanced in calm majesty on
the quarter-deck of the continent, is a life-size figure of the Saint.

Many a time, lingering after the long steep climb, under the shadow of
this figure-of-the-ages looking down upon the weathered arms of the
cross upon the headland, I have been struck by the force of allegory
brought into being by these two figures in juxtaposition. Out of the
heart of the one, protective, evolve the protecting arms of the other.
Yet there was no motif or thought of this behind the erection of these
two figures. The cross is simply the cross of the Recollet Fathers and
pioneer missionaries, renewed continually through the centuries whenever
age and decay or some sudden storm made a new one necessary. _Bonne
Sainte Anne sur la Montagne_ was set up by the local fishermen of a
generation ago.

All these things are written on the south side of the St. Lawrence, and
as we take the shore-road west many a shrine and highway cross continue
the tale of rural piety and peace. But it is possibly the north shore of
the St. Lawrence including Ile d’Orleans where the shrine takes on
clear-cut historic importance.

The most famous shrine in all America is situated at Saint Anne de
Beaupré. Here Ste. Anne comes in close touch, laying her healing power
yearly upon the spirits and ill-bodies of thousands of pilgrims hailing
from widely separated regions of Canada and the United States, with a
sprinkling from every other quarter of the globe.

One would think that a region overshadowed, as it were, by so dominant a
force as Ste. Anne de Beaupré might easily show poverty in the matter of
the simple farmers’ crosses and wayside and garden shrines of which we
write, but along the Montmorenci and the Beaupré road quite the contrary
is to be observed.

Remarking on this and the surprising frequency of the wayside crosses in
this region, to a prominent Quebecquois, he assured us, to his thinking,
there were not so many now as of old. “Why,” said he, “when I was a boy
every house had one.” However their popularity may have decreased in the
eye of the old-timer, backed by a memory reaching back more than three
score years, they still recur frequently enough to-day to notch every
mile of the twenty-one between Quebec City and Sainte Anne de Beaupré
village. So that to the visitor, without such perspective, it is evident
that the habitant of these parts had no intention of relinquishing his
personal and intimate belief in the mascot of the Cross, Sacre Coeur,
and bonne Ste. Anne for his farm, garden, mill, meadows or bit of
roadway, because the world has a shrine at Beaupré that rivals Lourdes.

Nor do these milestones cease at the church. Rather they are to be
happened on all along the road east to Saint Joachim, and peep out at
intervals along the Cap Tourment road into the heart of the Laurentides
at ’tite de Cap, St. Feréol, St. Tetes, etc., as far as the road and the
habitant home pushes back into the heart of Northeastern Quebec.

In the wayside crosses of this north shore, however, we have fancied
finer work in execution, though perhaps not so strong and bold a
concept, as a rule, as in the sea-coast cross. This finer handiwork is
no doubt traceable to the influence of the art in the basilica of Saint
Anne with which the people hereabouts are in almost constant contact. At
least the church gets the credit till one remembers that these wayside
crosses are the handiwork of a long line of carvers dating back into
Normandy and Brittany, and that to the Tremblays, Gigueres, Couchons,
Desbarats, Gagnons, as well as other families, the Beaupré wood-carving
of sacred figures and symbols “runs in the blood” and is an inherited
talent handed down from generation to generation.

Whether the inspiration comes from within or at the suggestion of the
beauty in The Great Shrine, it is certain these wayside crosses,
crucifixes, chapels and shrines of this Laurentian highway stand out
among Canada’s finest landmarks. Seldom one of the crosses but has
simple wood-carved symbols of the Crucifixion attached--cup, ladder,
hammer, hands, nails, the crown of thorns. Not all are present on the
very old-timers, but an absent cup, a wind-blown hammer, a broken nail
gives them a greater grip, especially when about the weather-worn “foot”
a wild rose has sprung up and been spared by the scythe of the mower.
This same St. Lawrence section is also the rambling playground of the
tiny garden shrine. It is as if the hand of an aviator had scattered
from the clouds these miniature niches of the saints; so that one or
more dropped into every garden far and near.

These little garden shrines, many no larger than the breadbox, are the
pride of every habitant home-gardener. The entire household takes an
interest--especially _grandmere et grandpere_. It is the old man’s fancy
that every spring mixes the paint and guides the brush that freshens
into new life the old colours.

And are they dun colours that he mixes? Most assuredly not!--White and
light blue--the colours of the heavens.

The touches of life--the blood, the flesh, the hope--are given with real
flowers, picked fresh every morning from the surrounding garden and
set--a tiny bouquet votive-offering before the holy figure of “Mary”,
“The Son of Mary” or maybe “Bonne Ste. Anne”.

The private gardens fringing the main street of Ste. Anne de Beaupré
rival each other in these happy little shrines. All stand on elevations
of stone or willow-wood post; and a clinging vine or tall peonies or
ambitious poppies or nestling mignonette tone down the newness of the
sky-colours and touch with effective life the tiny figure in plaster or
bisque that symbolizes the faith of M’sieu and Madame.

In the garden of the summer home of two American ladies, adjoining the
highway of Beaupré toward St. Joachim, is a specially attractive little
shrine with a collaret of St. Joseph lilies--lilies which, appropriately
enough, are always in full bloom, for the fete day of bonne Sainte Anne.

Some of the Quebec cross-makers often cut a niche in the cross in which
is set the Christ-figure, the statue being protected from the weather by
glass as in the case of the garden shrines. A good example of this is
seen in the cross from the Indian village of Caughnawaga across the
river from Montreal. This particular cross is further distinguished by
the figure of a cock surmounting it.

On the highways of Quebec one likes the way trade salutes the cross. Men
and boys passing in their two-wheeled carts find time to lift their hats
and busy pedestrians often stop to murmur a prayer at the foot of the
cross by the edge of the road. These things are a matter of course in
picturesque, thrifty Quebec. They belong as naturally as the St.
Lawrence or the Laurentians, but one is surprised on running into
Sudbury in Ontario to see there, on the bare rocks high above the
tracks, a large grotto, found on closer investigation to contain a
life-size figure of “the virgin” as Regina Galloram.

Local men say it was erected by an old French Count, who had been coming
to Sudbury for many years prior to 1914, but who failed to come over
during the war. They say the Count sat daily in the grotto at the feet
of Mary.

Then came the war. And the only word of him since has been the receipt
by a townsman of a paper edged in black, as big as the page of a ledger
covered with the names of relatives killed in action. Ontario may be
proud of its wayside shrine.

At least two other widely separated wayside crosses are to be seen in
Western Canada, one, a large crucifix in the Roman Catholic Hospital at
The Pas; the other, a crucifix with figures on a platform in the
cemetery at St. Norbert, near Winnipeg. There is also a shrine in a
little wood at St. Norbert to which it is said small pilgrimages are
made. However, it is undoubtedly rural Quebec which carries off the palm
for wayside shrines and crosses. Somehow her “milestones” are an
historic “part of the landscape”, belonging both to yesterday and
to-day.

It is worthy of note, too, that the Quebec farm which has set up a
shrine or cross somewhere along the road, invariably appears prosperous.
And those localities most particular in the observance of this old
custom brought from France by the first settlers are never
down-at-heels. It is evident it is the industrious, thrifty landowners
who have inherited their demesnes from industrious, thrifty and
religious forefathers who look most carefully to the old cross, the
milestone of the years as well as of the road.

Straight back without a break these old weather-beaten shrines of the
seacoast and the narrow farms trace their lineage to that first Cross,
where all roads meet.



CHAPTER XIV.

SAINT ANNE L’EGLISE.

_Saint Anne de Beaupré...._


“Saint Anne de Beaupré, Saint Anne l’eglise!” Thus, the car conductor on
the “Electric” between Quebec and Saint Anne de Beaupré on the arrival
of the car at the station-gate to the great Shrine.

He pronounces the name of this station with an air not expended on any
of the other stopping-places along the line. The people in the car
receive it in a different manner, as if with the baited breath of
assurance that now “something is going to happen”, something they have
long waited for, a miracle perhaps.

And so, daily, come and go the thousands of Pilgrims who have come and
gone since those early years running back to 1658 when occurred here at
this spot in the meadows “The First Miracle”. It was out there on the
river, the Saint Lawrence, north of Ile d’ Orleans, on a small bateau,
ancestress of the wood-boats that now go upward with the daily tide with
their cargoes of firewood to Quebec, that Saint Anne first discovered
herself to the crew of hard-pressed mariners, as habitant of this
particular bit of shore. It was Saint Anne who snatched them from a
watery grave in the treacherous river. And what a sea that bit of the
river can make up! Only navigators in these parts can have any idea of
the way that river, out there beyond the pier, can make up a sea!
Old-timers and scientists say “There’s something about the gaps in the
mountains back yonder,” pointing beyond the Côté, “that does it. They’ve
got an awful spite in ’em when they brew a storm in their old cauldron.”

So, watching one of these storms and seeing the old-timers alongshore,
from Visitation to Cap Tourment, shaking their heads, one is impressed
by the fact, that nothing Sainte Anne could have done would have so
firmly established her authority and power in the popular mind as the
fact that she was not afraid of the river; that, never mind how hard a
cross-sea were lifted up to the tide and the wind crossing swords for
supremacy out here in this narrow passage beset with mud-banks and
rocks, residue of the ice-age, she could, and did, guide that little
boat to a safe landing here, and the sailors to the terra firma they had
never expected to feel underfoot again.

Sailors are grateful. They belong to the Big-hearted. They promised
Saint Anne an A.B.’s share of the voyage. And they kept their promise.
They built her first church in these parts--a seamen’s church be it
remembered.

And from that day to this Saint Anne l’Eglise has held true to her
course. Every church that has been here erected has suffered the fortune
of a ship at sea. The foundations of that first church were, as it were,
laid in a gale. But staunchly it weathered the same and came to port all
spars standing.

The little old Church still stands against the hillside, sheltered in an
honoured old age in the arms of the Côté, anchored in its own little
haven under the hill.

Soon the old church became too small, and the foundations of a new
church were laid and, in time, the beautiful Basilica reared its two
spires tall against the sky with the statue of Ste. Anne high between
them, still in the “Crow’s Nest,” _en garde_. The Basilica became
enshrined in the hearts of people far and near. Yearly its hold on
public affection broadened until Saint Anne de Beaupré became a “Shrine”
to a continent.

Five, six, seven thousand pilgrims in a day became the order and still
they came, overflowing the pensions, spreading out on the benches in the
yard, eating lunches under the maples in the garden and washing down the
big slice with copious draughts of water from the big Fountain--Saint
Anne’s fountain.

“Saint Anne’s” became as well known in the land as Ottawa, Quebec or
Montreal, more popular than Halifax, Saint John or Vancouver. Why? It is
the Capital of Faith, the Place of the Miracle. And faith lies very
close to the human heart. Hence the Pilgrims by the thousands.

And each of these Pilgrims goes away to talk about and tell to others
what he has seen and heard at this Canadian Lourdes. And the following
year sees a wide increase in the number of people coming here and a
greater geographical range of the pilgrimages, like spokes in a wheel
narrowing to the hub. In the foundation stones of the Basilica were set
forth in letters, deep-cut in the granite on the outside so that all the
world might read, the characteristics of Saint Anne and the departments
of life entrusted to her protection. They read like a splendid chapter
out of some epic--_La Protectrice de Pecheurs_--_de Navigateurs_--_du
Canada_.

[Illustration:

IN A CONVENT GARDEN.]

[Illustration:

SAINT ANNE DE BEAUPRE! SAINT ANN L’EGLISE!
THE CAPITAL OF FAITH--THE PLACE OF THE MIRACLE.]

Inside La Basilica, the same air of bigness; people coming and going;
benediction in French or in English; the great altar at Mass, a
concentration of flowers and--light; the sun itself throwing through the
beautiful stained-glass windows a rich amethystine ray on the priestly
robes, on the altar linen, on the purple and white Campanulas.

A thousand votive candles burn in the side chapels. Processions of the
lame, the halt, the blind, creep faltering in step though bold in spirit
to kiss the relic. Till ten o’clock at night the great doors stand open.
In the Sacristy are the gifts that came dripping like dewdrops from the
hands and hearts of the Pilgrims of the Ages and of the day. Things of
inestimable intrinsic value rub edges with the intrinsically
valueless--the gift of a poor servant girl with the handiwork of Anne of
Austria. La Basilica! La Basilica!

Habitants of the Côté looked down upon it with the utmost satisfaction.
If La Basilica were the Shrine of all America, to them it was
intimate--their dear Parish-Church, the Church where Mass for the Parish
was said every Sunday morning. When any of them were sick, out of its
great doors came the Blessed Sacrament in the hand of their Priest,
heralded through the streets of the village by one of their boys, an
acolyte with the bell. When any of them were to be married so early in
the morning almost before the sun was up, was it not to La Basilica
Cecile or Angelique, Henri or François repaired with their families for
the ceremony? And when the Angel of Death flew low over the Côté was it
not to La Basilica that all that was mortal of Madame or M’sieu went out
to the last Mass?

Built in 1876 it was woven deep into the hearts of people widely
scattered in habitat, widely removed from each other in wealth and
social standing, antipodal in learning. It was the Mecca of the
faithful, the objective of many an idle sightseer.

Built in 1876, for forty-six years it had been a landmark of the Beaupré
countryside. Its tall shining towers were as channel-marks to the
wood-boats a-wash on their way to Quebec. _Chevals_ of distant farms
knew the road to its door almost by heart. Old women from ’tite de Cap
and Saint Feréol coming in to sell their quarts of wild _framboise_ or
the new _pommes des terres_ crossed themselves, passing hurriedly to
supply the hungry tables of _les Pensions_.

The blind beggar who lost his sight in its building gathered his pennies
in his little tin cup at the gate. The old fellow with the row of empty
bottles by the Steps of Scala Sancta eked out a living and sent a wave
of cheer to many a poor sufferer in remote villages who wiping his face
with a dash of water from Saint Anne’s well felt in body and soul a
little--refreshment.

Then one morning a short while ago, a little tongue of fire,
out-of-bounds, caught up in the palm of one of those gales brewed in the
cauldron of the mountains to the north and northeast, as it played with
wild fierceness down over the Côté and licked up the Saint Lawrence from
the east, threw its lurid veil through the sacristy. Inch by inch, then
suddenly, foot by foot, the servant, that was Light, became a master of
destruction. The Brothers did their best from the first. But the fire
driven by the gale was soon out of hand.

It swept into the church carrying all the great building before it. The
fire department came with apparatus from Quebec. But in a few hours the
Basilica was but a heap of smouldering ruins.

       *       *       *       *       *

All that was fundamental, of course, remains. Saint Anne is still “Saint
Anne de Beaupré”, the Saint of the beautiful Meadow.

Her first miracle was wrought here long before there was any church. She
saved the storm-tossed sailors of the Seventeenth Century on just such a
night, from just such a gale.

Saint Anne is a character and must ever remain so, one of the very real
personalities of Canadian life. An image of her rides in every
fisherman’s pocket out of Percé, Baie de Chaleur outports, and in the
mackerel-boats of Les Madeleines. A bisque or plaster figure of her
stands above every habitant mantelpiece from Montreal to Tadousac.

But La Basilica belongs to a page of Canadian history, too. It was a
part of a Canadian landscape for nigh on half a century, in which time
it was the scene of many a miracle. Optimists encouragingly say “But it
will be restored, or a better and larger church built. Anyway, that was
even now almost too small for convenience. So many thousands of
Pilgrims! Oh yes, a bigger church was needed.”

Thus the young folk look forward and plan. But the old, what of the
old?

Aged men of the Côté feel that with the destruction of la Basilica
something spiritual passed out of their lives. They felt it a gallery
wherein were stored the life-pictures that they treasured. Memories of
mothers and fathers in the old pews, themselves as boys by their side;
memories of their own wedding, memories of first masses and of
christenings ... of requiem masses.

What of the people who have received spiritual and physical aid here?
Did not Saint Anne’s l’eglise fill a page in their life, a page licked
up in the flames, and not to be re-written, as when an Hour-Book, finely
illuminated, was lost in Time?

Who can restore the mazarene blue to the tablet of Labradorite that
stood by the door? Who can bring back the voice of the great organ? Or
who restore the exquisite lines of the old pulpit?

But the fundamental remains--the great out-doors, _le jardin_. Still the
Pilgrims come. Still on calm evenings there will be the long processions
through the dusk winding up the hill, faces aglow from the lighted
candles in their paper ’sconces.

Still five thousand voices will sing “Magnificat, Magnificat!” Still, on
midsummer mornings, the old Brother will go round, watering-pot in hand,
among the flowers.



CHAPTER XV.

M. JOBIN.

_How constantly experience...._


How constantly experience reminds us that in the overwhelming presence
of outstanding natural scenery, world events and great men, we are apt
to completely lose sight of equally beautiful, though perhaps less
magnificent scenery, events only a little less momentous and of many
men, who except for the tedious bugbear of comparison, would be great in
our sight, being truly great in themselves.

Personally our eyes were thus opened only a few summers ago at Saint
Anne de Beaupré. For weeks our attention had been completely absorbed by
the beautiful Basilica, its surrounding grounds, monasteries and
convents. We desired above all to see a miracle, and to this end haunted
the quaint church, stepping in to the beautiful garden whenever
inclination suggested. Again and again we strolled along the
hill-climbing woodsy road of “The Stations of the Cross”, the spreading
maple trees overhead, the river in a flowing vista before.

Most of all we were interested in the pilgrims, individually no less
than in the pilgrimages as a whole. At Saint Anne’s it is the pilgrim
who furnishes a fascinating round of human interest, against a
background of the church aglow with festive lighting from hundreds of
electric bulbs, and the glowing, beckoning, flickering flame of
thousands of red and green votive candles.

Then, one morning, something prompted us to turn our wandering footsteps
toward the opposite end of the town away from the church. And there, in
a plain old workshop, we experienced our awakening, the miracle we had
been waiting to see--a miracle in Art rather than in healing. And yet,
are not the two one?

As we climbed the road up the hill past Madame Giguere’s Pension, we
were at once surprised and attracted by a life-sized figure of Napoleon
Bonaparte occupying one of the roofs ahead.

Napoleon Bonaparte in Saint Anne de Beaupré? Can greater contrast be
imagined than the realism of Napoleon and the realm of the spiritual out
of which we had just emerged? Yet it was no mirage. There he stood,
life-sized. After a moment of doubt we knew it must be some woodcarver’s
“Sign”. For we recognized at sight that this “Napoleon” was some old
“Figurehead” from a ship, “stranded here” as it were in this Old-World
village of French Canada.

We could scarcely wait to meet the old Carver. Already we imagined him
old. And--charming.

The figurehead proclaimed that he belonged heart and soul to the age of
the sailing-ship. Therefore, we knew beforehand that we should find as
the French say, _Un Caractere_. So we hurried and turned in down some
steps and knocked at the door of the old shop.

In answer, there came to the door a little, almost aesthetic-looking old
man with a sweet smile and an equally sweet voice. He stood a moment
looking at us and at our camera, entering as if by intuition into our
enthusiasm. Then he bade us, in a charming manner, combination of the
sweetness of old age and courteous French, “_Entrez, entrez!_”

That was our first glimpse of Louis Jobin, whom we have since come to
regard as “The Dean of Canadian Religious-figure Wood-carvers”--a man
possessed of so sweet and simple a nature that he approaches easily and
naturally, the carving of Christ on the Cross.

The little shop in its simplicity is just the place one might expect to
find Jobin working in. Everything in it falls behind its master--not a
single offending note. There is a wooden thumb to hold his hat.
Everywhere on the walls bits of carving--models and patterns--an old
trumpet, a cherub’s head, an angel’s wing. On the floor the old stove
for heating, the tool-bench and the figure or figures on which he
happens to be at work.

Jobin found for us one chair and that curious movable bench with legs
resembling a colt’s, known in the trades as a “carpenter’s horse”. I sat
the “horse” and never has one carried me into more enchanted country.

Jobin made us feel at home at once, continuing his work and chatting at
the same time. There is about the man and his shop a sweet restful
spirit of repose, as if no vaulting ambition had ever here o’erleaped
itself to fall on the other side.

I cannot recall all that we talked about that first morning. I remember
it rather as the occasion on which Jobin invited us to come in again
whenever we felt inclined. It lingers as the morning on which we
discovered that now rare nook “a woodcarver’s studio”.

It is no little thing to have such a door open to one in these days of
hurry--a little shop full of the spell of Holy Figures, here and there,
and about the door.

[Illustration:

M. LOUIS JOBIN IN HIS WORK-SHOP.]

The acquaintance with Jobin has now extended over several summers and in
that time we have learned from this old Canadian woodcarver’s lips many
a legend of the Saints, legends that have none of the usual
cut-and-dried wording of a book as they are told by this old man of
Quebec, but all the vitality and realism which only one having working
knowledge of them for a lifetime can give.

Monsieur Jobin, in point of years far up in the seventies, gives Saint
Raymond as his birthplace but says that he spent much of his boyhood at
Point aux Trembles above Quebec.

His answer to an inquiry if he carved or whittled much when a youngster,
proved him a man of humour. “_O, oui!_ I cut up all my father’s firewood
into something or other.” Smiling at the recollection of those days he
paused and raised himself chisel in hand. “There was a good deal of wood
in my figures then. Their bodies were--what you call?--clumsy.”
“Clumsy?” “Yes?”

But these early attempts were evidently of sufficient merit to determine
his parents as to a trade for him. They apprenticed Louis to the
woodcarver’s trade under M. Francois Xavier Berlingeret, a master carver
of the city, of the generation before Jobin, so that Jobin represents in
direct line a century of Canadian wood-carving. Jobin served three
years. “Religious figures?” we inquired. “Oh, no. All sorts of carving
with M’sieu Berlingeret. Some religious figures too, but in those days
it was mostly ‘figureheads’.” Big wooden ships were everywhere.

“You know the figurehead?” He seemed very happy when we answered
affirmatively. As his mind turned back to those days there came into his
eye all the light and fire of an artist recalling some old masterpiece.

       *       *       *       *       *

His apprenticeship to Monsieur Berlingeret over, Jobin set out for New
York “to finish”. In New York he worked for a year with Mr. Bolton,
“John Bolton, an Englishman located at St. John Street, Battery Place”.

The mere mention of those New York days recalls to mind old haunts and
famous old “figureheads” and carvers of Gotham. It was all “downtown” in
those days,--“Battery Place” and “Castle Garden”. Then naturally
followed talk of this carver and that, of this and that old sea-rover
among the wind-jammers coming in and sailing out of New York fifty years
ago.

It requires little imagination for us to be able to see this young
French-Canadian artist in wood passing from one to another of these
ships, searching with his artist’s eye for fine specimens of the
figurehead-carver’s art on the bows. It was in reality like a morning
spent in a Cosmopolitan Gallery wherein the work of artists from many
lands appeared--here, a Scotchman, there a Dane, here a Norwegian, there
a Nova Scotian. And when the latter, it was like happening suddenly upon
“an old friend from home”.

When the year in New York ended, back came Jobin to Montreal. And from
that day to this he has never left Canada but has given every day of his
life-work to her. Canada reared him and with the exception of that brief
year in New York she can claim him and his work.

It is somewhat in the nature of a revelation that there should have
been, and that there continues to be, enough trade and demand for wooden
figures to have kept this old carver busy for a lifetime. Woodcarving is
one of the oldest Arts under the sun and the fact that woodcarving is so
widely appreciated in Canada and the United States that a few of these
old artists are in their shops every day regularly, keeping steadily at
the bench from morning until night, every day of the working week, year
in and year out, reveals a phase of the national life and taste which
cannot but fill many, who deemed the day of the wooden figure a thing of
the past, with surprise.

But, for affirmation, there is the venerable figure of Louis Jobin
bending over an angel--a tiny gouge in his old fingers slithering
lightly here and there, “bringing out” just a little more each time the
spirit, which, when all is finished, speaks out to the forgetfulness of
the medium.

The regularity with which orders come in, no less than the air of the
shop itself, gives one even stronger assurance that when Jobin has
passed to the Land o’ the Leal his mantle will fall to many a successor,
provided the carver of the coming generation puts out work up to the
standard of this old artist of Saint Anne’s.

Jobin belongs to a long line of woodcarvers whose genius has given the
wooden figure a sure niche in the heart of Canada as long as there shall
be saint or legend left.

The establishment of Jobin in Montreal after his return from New York
extended over a period of five or six years. Making figureheads there
for Captain McNeil, he recalls that one was the “Chief Angus”.

With a sweep of the arm, Jobin makes you see that proud hull--those
royal-yards sweeping down the Saint Lawrence under the leadership of
the spirited figure of the old Chief on the bow, leading one of the clan
to victory on the high seas, and the ports of the world. Then the
Frenchman speaks, and he recalls the figures of an “_Avoçat_”, for a
gentleman of the legal profession. He recalls that it stood opposite the
Court House on the Rue Notre Dame in Montreal. No doubt many an old
Montrealler recalls this landmark of Notre Dame.

Jobin’s work in Montreal lasted as long as sails on the high seas
created a demand for figureheads, and as long as the Red Indian with his
calumet idled the day outside the Tobacconist shops. But steam blasted
the growth and life of sails, and paper signs and bill-boards did away
with the Indians except in Old Quebec city where the Red Man is still to
be seen on Saint Jean Street.

Only then, in the lean years that followed these changes, did Jobin move
to Quebec--the home-city of sacred “figures”, and begin what turned out
to be his forte and life-work,--the carving of religious figures.

He tells how he had a shop first in Quebec City. But from Quebec out to
the quiet shop in the little town of Saint Anne de Beaupré was for a man
of Jobin’s feeling a short and natural step. At last his barque had come
from the busy marts of the New York waterfront into this quiet little
haven, whose main street has at one end this little shop and at the
other la Basilica, Mecca of a continent.

Every evening at the close of the day’s work the striking figure of the
old carver may be seen on the street of Saint Anne’s wending his way to
Benediction. And, however numerous the pilgrims, his is one of the
figures to be remembered--a benediction in its sweet humility.

Jobin has been an indefatigable worker. In his day the number of figures
carved by his hand is almost incredible. The very mechanical part must
have occupied more than a lifetime of a man less talented and sure of
every stroke. He talked of one figure after another so rapidly that
track of all could not be kept. Yet not one of his figures seen could in
any sense of the word be termed “mechanical”; rather, he was able to
work quickly because his every stroke ran true.

There is, of course, a difference in his work, depending on the ultimate
position to be occupied by the figure. Those to stand out of doors on an
eminence, or on the roof of some church to be viewed from a distance,
are executed in big broad touches of the chisel. Detail would be lost if
indeed it did not spoil in such instances. But the figure to stand in
some church, and to be closely approached by a supplicant, lacks nothing
in detail of line that would express the fine nature and understanding
of the saint that is symbolized.

All of Jobin’s work, whether Saint or otherwise, has about it a
distinctly individual touch, so that once you are familiar with his work
you are able to see a figure for the first time and say at once whether
it is a Jobin or not.

Since our first acquaintance with Monsieur we have happened on many a
“figure” of his. And nothing affords us greater pleasure than to come on
one at some unexpected place and moment. These we recall to Monsieur on
the occasion of a next visit. And how it delights the old man to hear of
these, his “art-children”, whom he never expected to hear from more.

It pleased him that we should recognize the Province of Quebec as his
Gallery and go along her highways and byways with an eye open for his
figures.

It was during one of these conversations that he let fall that he carved
the figure of “The Blessed Virgin” on the top of Trinity Cap on the
far-famed Saguenay. Jobin gives the dimensions as twenty-five feet in
height and says that around the head of “Mary” he carved twelve stars.
He carved it in 1880 or just forty-two years ago, long before many who
now view it were born. Many have wondered why the figure on this cape,
twin with Cape Eternity on this scenic river of eastern Canada? Here is
the reason from the carver’s lips. A gentleman out driving was in a
run-away accident. The carriage was thrown over a very steep cliff but
almost by a miracle he was pitched to safety as the _voiture_ went down.
He wished to erect a memento of his wonderful escape and as the accident
had been over a cliff, he conceived the idea of having an heroic figure
of the Blessed Virgin erected on the beautiful and beetling Cap Trinité.

From the Blessed Virgin to Neptune seems indeed a far call. Yet it was
mention of this figure which recalled to Jobin’s memory that about the
same time he did this he also carved the figure of Neptune to stand on
the old hotel of that name on Mountain-Hill Street near South Matelot,
in Quebec.

The student of history, abroad in Quebec, is familiar with the old
carved-wood figure of General Wolfe, now sacredly preserved, after an
escapade to the West Indies, in the library of the Historical Society of
Quebec. But few there be who know that Jobin carved the substitute which
fills in the niche in the old house on the street corner, and that it is
thanks to Jobin that Wolfe still mounts guard on the corner of Rue Saint
Jean. A new interest must cling to this old scarlet-coated figure of the
General whose romantic boat-ride down the river to attack the city in
the rear gave Quebec to the Empire. It is said that a condition of an
old will provides that a figure of Wolfe must always stand in this niche
in the old house facing the street, so that the passing world may never
forget how much it owes to Wolfe.

Jobin’s work of carving sacred figures either for use in churches, in
cemeteries, in church or monastery gardens, or as crosses and calvaires
by the roadside, has been deeply appreciated. For some churches he has
carved practically every figure in use.

For l’eglise at Saint Henri, he says he has carved as many as thirty-two
figures in all; for the church at Riviere de Loup, seventeen; for the
church at Saint Foye, three--the Blessed Virgin, Christ on the Cross and
The Sacred Heart.

As Jobin told of the Saint Foye “figures” he rasped the wood of a new
figure growing under his hand. He paused in his work as he recalled
“That church was burned, but my figures they....” No word completed the
sentence but the rasp went up in a dramatic sweep to indicate the high
standing figures escaping the flames.

Of the roadside calvaires carved by Jobin, one at Beaumont is a good
example. Another stands at Visitation. The latter is a new one erected
last summer.

Although much of Jobin’s work is bought in the Province of Quebec,
orders are constantly coming to the old carver of Saint Anne’s from
other parts of Canada. And many a figure in the United States attests to
his skill as woodcarver.

It is one of the interesting incidents of the Jobin figures that, before
sending them out in the world, they are taken down to the Basilica to be
“blessed”.

We have seen a pious pilgrim kiss the hand of one of these waiting
figures,--taking it for one of the regular figures of the Basilica
garden. This incident is a tribute to the quality of soul attained by
Jobin in his work.

Luck indeed attends the pilgrim to Saint Anne’s who happens there at the
“Blessing” of one of these figures. For picturesqueness in ceremony it
has few equals--the figure on the grass under the trees, the priest in
his robe, holy-water in hand, generously be-sprinkling, as it were, this
Soul of the Woods.

The Basilica garden at Saint Anne’s is rich in Jobin “figures”. The
large gilded figure that stood on the roof was, however, not one of his,
though the little Saint Anne in the old church, he says, is.

Last winter he was at work on a new figure for the fountain in the yard
to be given to Saint Anne’s by a wealthy American.

The weather has always stood in the way of the popularity of the wooden
figure. Jobin now sheathes his figures that are to stand in the open.

If some such measure had only been used in early days, how much richer
in figures would Canada be. Many of her old-timers, some of them brought
over from France by early pioneers have been completely lost through
wind and weather.

Wealthy societies and churches with a taste for gold often have had
Jobin completely overlay the entire figure with gold-leaf. Mr. Jobin’s
nephew is the shop’s operator in laying on the leaf. This too is a most
interesting process, and the little shop offers as it were “a double
bill” on the mornings when in addition to Jobin carving, the nephew is
also at work gilding a finished angel or saint.

Part of the charm of mornings in the Jobin shop is the almost constantly
changing subjects on which he is at work. Sometimes he chisels away on a
Saint Anne, sometimes on the face or flowing robes of the blessed
Vierge; at other times a triumphant angel with a trumpet, or a
petitioning angel with folded wings, humbly kneeling.

One morning we dropped in to find him at work on an heroic-sized
Christ-figure on the Cross. It was like coming on the old carver at his
devotions. An holy silence pervaded the little shop. We dropped into the
chair and upon the horse as silently as into a pew in church. Jobin
carved by inspiration. No model stood in sight. Further, this old man of
three-score, carved as one who has seen the Master very close and feels
no need of outward suggestion. So the Old Masters must have painted, one
thinks.

After a while, Jobin, resting, talked a little, quite easily. Then he
began to work again continuing to speak now and then. The chisel gouged
lightly back and forth and then with one of his worn hands he brushed
away the shavings and critically eyed his work on the Face, to see if it
told in its lines, so far as wood, or paint or marble, can, its Love,
its wonderful Patience and its Strength.

As we sat watching in the quiet of that old shop, it was impossible to
tell which spoke the more directly, the Figure as it slowly came to
perfection or the childlike figure of the old Master-Carver bending so
gently over the image of the Lord.

Not one, but several mornings, we came to watch. And as we watched and
listened to the quiet voice of this old Quebec-carver, now nearing the
end, it was in our heart to wish that all Canada could step over the
threshold to witness this strange scene, wherein one of her forest trees
in the hand of one of her talented sons, is metamorphosed from a tree
into the Figure of the Saviour of the World.



CHAPTER XVI.

ROMANCE AND THE TWO-WHEELED CART.

_Two wheels are both leisurely_....


Two wheels are both leisurely and elegant. No doubt it was these
considerations which in the beginning of Time decided Romance on riding
in a two-wheeled cart. We cannot imagine Romance anything but leisurely.
She lives where time stands still, yet paradoxically hitches to the
wheels of Progress. It is true we cannot imagine the automobile or even
the aeroplane without a four-wheel carriage. But it is equally difficult
to think of either of these as leisurely. They are the symbols of speed
and utility in a commercial age. Nevertheless, despite the new order of
this age of speed, Romance, though not utterly ignoring car and plane,
continues to ride in her old cart--

    “Jiggity jog, jiggity jog!”

Bad roads, or no roads at all, never betray the ox or Dobbin into the
ditch. “Get out and get under” is a song not in the two-wheeler’s
repertoire. Yet of course the slow-coach misses, as by a great gulf, the
thrills which are the auto’s and aeroplane’s very own. So, between two
or four, for the time being, honours are easy.

Yet to the two-wheeler must go the honour of pioneering transportation.
With it began all life in Canada. And there are parts of the Dominion
where two-wheels are still a people’s dependence. All Eastern Canada
still pins faith to the two-wheel cart, whether it be Quebec or dear old
Nova Scotia or the far-away Islands of the Gulf. Big wheel or little
wheel, or whether “_cheval_, _chien_ or _le boeuf_” produces the motor
power, Romance, in the East, still rides in the two-wheel cart.

It appears on every road. Where there are no roads it must go along as
if there were one. Unless a forest obstructs no lesser obstacle can ever
hope to turn one of these old carts from its objective.

One may tramp a country road in Quebec without seeing a sign of life.
Then presently a speck heaves in sight on the distant horizon. Long
before it can be “made out” intuition says, “It is a two-wheel cart”.

As it comes towards you, its own individuality becomes more and more
evident. You can distinguish it perhaps for the cart of the old woman
from Saint Feréol who comes down once or twice a week to sell her
pickings of wild _framboise_ or mountain raspberries to berry-hungry
Pilgrims-to-the-shrine-of-bonne-Saint Anne. For, shrewd old woman that
she is, she knows that even “pilgrims” must eat.

This old weather-beaten French-woman and her cart from the hill country
are well-known characters of the Beaupré road; and every woman having
anything from a farm to sell, hails madame as she drives along, so that
when this particular cart arrives in the town every village housewife is
agog at her door to see what madame has brought them to-day “_pour
diner_”. And as for the cart itself, it overflows with beets and
carrots, potatoes, maple sugar, a jar or two of honey; and, from the
mass, struggling chickens gasping for breath. But “_des oeufs et
framboise_” are all carefully protected under layers of cool leaves.
Some morning we engage to ride back with madame when she has sold all
her berries and what-not. We sit, one on the board beside the fat figure
of madame, the other, on a box among the empty berry pails in the body
of the cart. We ask madame how she got so many tins? “_Du lard,
mesdames, du lard_”, she responds quickly. Looking about on the heap of
lard tins, it seems to us as if the mountain folk must buy lard just to
get the tins for their berries.

At first the springless cart is a little too much of a good thing, but
we soon get used to the jolting and then forget it in speculating on the
sights and sounds of the road. That whirr and buzz is not bees but a
spinning wheel at work. We look in at an open door and there is madame
at the wheel. She and the market woman exchange a hearty _bon jour_. The
houses are fairly close on this road. Scarcely one is passed before
another heaves in sight.

In some yards the hay-cart goes into the barn with a full load. In
another there is heard the heavy thud, thud of the loom. From our high
seat we can see right into the room where madame is at work, shuttle in
hand, bobbins in basket, balls of yarn on the floor.

Then behind us comes the honk of an automobile. Neither Dobbin nor
madame seems to have heard. Their sang froid is in no wise disturbed by
the speeding motorist or the cloud of dust in which he envelops our cart
as he flies past. It is not until we turn off the main highway, where
the catcher-up-of-dust motor

[Illustration:

MANY OF THE SEATS IN THESE TINY
CARTS ARE BUILT UP, SO THAT THE
DRIVER SITS ABOVE HIS “HORSE”.]

[Illustration:

BAD ROADS, OR NO ROADS AT ALL,
NEVER BETRAY THE OX
INTO THE DITCH.]

meant little more to madame than a summer whirlwind, that she and Dobbin
rouse themselves to an interest in the road.

The road here does two things. It goes off into deep woods and it begins
to climb up and up. Madame gets down on her side of the cart.
Simultaneously we fall out of it behind. Dobbin gets a drink at a cool
spring. We wash hands and faces.

The old woman cries “_Allez, allez_”, and Dobbin once more takes to the
road, now leafy and sylvan but steep and winding, urged along with many
an admonitory “_marche donc_” from madame. This shade is very grateful
to both Dobbin and his mistress after the hot morning in town vending
berries.

It is such a road as the motorist down there would never think of
attempting. There is now a look about Dobbin at one end and madame at
the other of the worn leather harness and reins, and a something about
the lines of the old weathered cart which bespeak the satisfaction of
the master. Down there, the Ford had the road to himself. He flew over
it. But up here, this perpendicularity belongs to this trio of the old,
belongs to the two-wheel cart and the old French market woman.

Just for a moment down there, our heart went back on our conveyance. Our
allegiance weakened. We said, “Oh, for a car!” But up here in this “land
of the sky”, where the road comes out on the mountainous brow of ’Tite
de Cap and the gray St. Lawrence lies far below like a silver ribbon,
the blue mountains of Northern New England against the southern sky, and
away behind to the West, a smoke in the sky that is Quebec, our faith in
the cart returns with smashing convincingness. The two-wheel cart’s the
thing!

When madame begins to stop in front of cottage gates to pay out of her
deep pocket the proceeds of each morning sale and we hand out to eager
hands the right number of lard tins going to repeat their mission as
berry containers, to our minds nothing is wanting in the Romance which
weaves itself about the scene and the figure of the old cart and its
mistress.

But we must not ride forever in this mountain-climbing and thrifty “hope
of the hills”. Other carts are calling. Let us drift down stream on the
bosom of the St. Lawrence, far out where it is “The Gulf”, away past
Prince Edward Island to the Magdalens. In this corner of Quebec the
two-wheel cart is practically the only means of land transportation.
These Island carts, like the islands themselves, overflow with
originality and character. They are soft and full of the sea’s wetness
as they come toward us along the treeless, island-landscape. We notice,
too, a difference in the horse. The Magdalens cart is drawn by an island
pony. Mares are accompanied by shaggy colts, all legs, running beside
the mothers, or following behind the cart, noses over the tail-board.
When the load is a long mackerel boat going into winter quarters, after
a season’s fishing on a distant beach, it is indeed a strange
procession, the up-hill-and-down road causing it now to heave in sight
and now to disappear as if the boat still rode the mobile crests and
valleys of the Gulf.

But the most romantic of all the carts is the procession across the long
barachois, a winding procession crossing the sands--cart after cart--a
Canadian caravan of the desert. All sorts of weird and bizarre shapes of
dusk and distance and creeping sea-fog add to the romance of this
strange train.

What takes the caravan into the desert? Not the trade in rich silks and
carpets of far eastern looms or the bringing of precious stones from one
mart to another, but a trade just the same--an individual and romantic
trade peculiar to the Magdalens--the culling of the clam, the tiny,
hard, white mollusc with as pretty lights in it as the pearl when it
comes wet from the underseas sand-home out there where the wet sea-fog
begins in the eye of the wind.

One may think the path-finding lead-cart of this caravan has nothing to
do. But try to find your own way across these sands and you will soon be
glad to follow along behind any old cart that heaves in sight, even if
it is navigated by an old cow in harness. Out here the sea-wind licks up
the sand and fills in and levels off landmarks just as the Scirocco
levels off the shifting dunes of old Egypt.

Over there, there is the instinct of the camel, the desert knowledge of
the man, and the light of the stars to guide--but out here on the sands
of the Magdalens it is a woman’s hand that holds the reins of the lead
horse. Her cart may be made of bits of driftwood and in the half-barrel
tub, in the waist of this semi-sea craft, a rusty three-pronged homemade
digging fork, and a lantern by her side, may be the only gauges to a
rising tide.

Could your eye follow the long caravan winding its way across the sands
at night, lantern after lantern, a Will o’ the wisp line of light and
black figures in whose path lies the sinister quicksand, you must easily
fall under the spell of this wet and mystical wraith of the night which,
coming nearer, resolves itself into a succession of carts coming from or
bound to the clamming.

Like light comedy, sunny and bright and tenderly human by contrast with
the night caravan of the barachois is the scene of children of the
Islands playing in the two-wheel cart next morning in the home yard.
Elder brother plays Dobbin. Two garcons and a habitant maid occupy the
driver’s seat. Mother in Breton cap and ample apron gives confidence to
the baby who fain would ride too, but fears the big adventure. Another
year, however, and he will ride with the boldest....

At Percé the two-wheel cart is a beach character. Sometimes “_le
cheval_”, but just as often “_le boeuf_”, comes swinging along over the
beach shingles and sand with the cart for codfish heads. Nowhere but
among coastal folk is the codfish head either available or prized as
garden fertilizer. Tradition says that our forefathers learned the value
of the buried codfish as fertilizer from the Indians. The fish-guano of
trade is ground into a powder. But old-timers of the seacoast let nature
do her own pulverizing. They bury or half bury the heads which are now
the only part of the fish spared to the land. Every old woman’s turnip
or potato bed hereabouts rests on a but partly concealed foundation of
heads. Every afternoon when the boats come in from sea with fish you can
watch the old men and boys coming with their carts to spear up with
pitchforks the residue of the splitting-tables. And when it is not heads
that are up, it is a load of seaweed they are after. The sea can always
contribute something with which to make or enrich a garden.

Between the Government pier and the renowned Percé Rock, after a heavy
bit of weather from the North, the beach is strewn with a carpet of
algae rich in the chemicals “good for the garden”. Truly there are
“subjects” galore awaiting the artist in Canada!

All these carts mentioned are big and are found anywhere on the coast.
The dog-cart is tiny and is especially of Quebec. For three hundred
years the dog-cart has been reigning in Quebec. When one hears the
habitant talk of “_le chien_”, one may be quite sure the subject is the
dog which draws a cart. There is no other dog known thus generally to
the whole countryside. Most of these little carts are homemade affairs,
and, strange to say, unlike the larger carts, usually have springs.
Many of the seats in these tiny carts are built up, so that the driver
sits above his “horse”. Many of the carts are fitted with iron
foot-rests which fall below the body of the cart. This arrangement is
handy when the driver happens to be a tall man. The driver and rider in
a dogcart is not always a child as might be supposed. In Quebec
labourers ride to their work of a morning in a dog-cart. Sometimes the
load is as much as the dog can navigate, but having deposited his master
at mill or factory he is free to roam all day until closing time, when
he must be on hand to carry his master home again. For many miles they
come, these little carts and but for the dog how would the workman get
to his work? The dogcart is by no means a toy. It serves a phase of
Canadian life and helps along Canadian business.

Another phase of the dogcart life is seen at noon when from all around
the countryside dogcarts foregather bringing to the workmen hot dinners
the wives have cooked. It is a sight to behold when thirty or forty of
these little wagons dash along the Saint Gregoire highway at noon bound
for the cotton mill at Montmorenci Falls. The driver in each cart is now
a small boy and, dinner or no dinner, there is sure to be a race as to
who gets there first. The dogs look as if they enjoyed the sport as much
as the boys. Coming back, the children take their time, there being no
hurry to get back to home and play with the empty pail.

In many parts of Quebec the dogcart is often enough the perambulator of
the smallest member of the “grande famille”. Older children, in these
cases, usually go ahead of the dog which follows drawing in his tiny
cart the little monarch of the household and the road. On all boyish
adventures the dog comes in, with the cart. Of course, there are dogs
and dogs, even here. Some are finer and sturdier than others and none
are thoroughbred but all are suitable for their work in the little cart.
And it is surprising what loads they can pull. All the carts are
constructed so that little weight comes on the dog.

Such scenes along the Quebec highway where dogcarts may even be seen
taking a bag of mail from train to post office, carry one back to
similar scenes in old France and Belgium. But in the outlying districts
the dogcart’s chief use is for bringing in firewood, in some instances
from the handy pile in the yard, but usually in the form of boughs from
the scrub of the sea-coast, or the distant hills.

The highest form of the two-wheeler, however, though perhaps not any
more picturesque than its humbler brethren, is of course the caleche.
The caleche was the earliest voiture of seigneury times. It had a period
of great popularity. Jaunty in line, it swayed with every rut, in the
day of the bad road. Then the more elaborate four-wheeler was brought in
from both England and France and the caleche fell into disuse, soon
almost entirely disappearing from the Quebec highway. A few lone
remnants of former glory now appear daily before the Hotel Frontenac,
picking up an occasional “fare”. Someone with enough of the romantic
spirit left will wish to see Quebec, city of the Intendents, revert to
the vehicle used in that day. Nevertheless, though the caleche has
practically died out, even at this moment, darkest in its history, there
comes word that it is to have its renaissance; one more proof that
Romance still lives in the hearts of modern life; one more proof that
the two-wheel cart of Romance is still a prime favourite with this old
world, which is more than ever a-wheel.



CHAPTER XVII.

BUBBLE, BUBBLE, BUBBLE.

_From early spring...._


From early spring until late in the fall, by every highway and by-path
of rural Quebec, and almost as generally in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton,
the visitor happens upon many a housewife turning into multitudinous
service a great iron pot or cauldron, neatly suspended from a log, or
perched skilfully between two heaps of field-stones.

These wayside cauldrons of eastern Canada, with their constant fires,
and their contents always “a-bubble, bubble, bubble”, unlike the
witches’ pot on the heath of auld Scotia with its song of “trouble”, are
to the countryside emblematical not of disaster but of a wonderful
domestic prowess that is far-reaching indeed in its scope and effect
upon national life.

For although many of these wayside pots look common-place affairs in
themselves, the crudest and least artistic of them represents the
individuality and the effort of some man or woman who stands behind it,
who fathers the thought of it and the work it is intended to aid in
accomplishing.

Even when you pass one of these out-of-doors pots, whose fires are
extinct until wash-day or dyeing day comes round again, you
unconsciously feel at once through the pot’s suggestion that in that
little farm-house, over there by the barn, dwells a woman with
initiative; some strong capable soul--some mother of invention--who
turns every simple object at her command into a tool of service.

Investigation of the pots in active service reveals a long list of
different works which this one utensil is able to accomplish. The Quebec
habitant woman graciously informs madame, that by means of the pot she
accomplishes the great wash for her “grande famille”, and that in it she
dyes her home-grown wool clipped from the sheep grazing over there on
the Laurentian hillsides. After every operation she scrubs the interior
of the pot thoroughly, so that though one day it accomplishes the
dyeing, the next it may be used to heat the water for M’sieu to convert
the big porker into winter meat for the family, etc.

Madame’s faith in the great pot is expressed in her tones. To her mind
the pot is indispensable on every well-regulated farm, an absolute
necessity in every household. The very children take it for granted.
The wood-pile and the pot-by-the-running-brook are to them as natural
objects of the landscape as the blue mountains or _La Chute de
Montmorenci_.

Moreover, the pots are more than this in their _enfant_ days. The
youngest child of Old Quebec looks upon work _avec plaisir_. To little
French Canadian children, what we are pleased to call “work”, is the
highest form of play. Every child, and nearly every grown-up, loves to
build and keep going, a wood-fire out-of-doors. The great pots of Quebec
and Nova Scotia give children an opportunity to serve at a fire and to
serve with pleasure. They run about and gather the chips and the flotsam
and jetsam yielded by the nearby stream, or fallen branches from the
trees, while an older girl pushes the various contributions of wood into
the bright and cheery bonfire under the pot that, with the strange
faculty of inanimate things, often takes on a look of enjoying it all as
much as the children. Thus, wash-day or soap-making day becomes to these
eastern households a sort of picnic. Many hands make light work, and
madame of the _grande famille_ of sixteen or eighteen children
accomplishes her wash of seventy-five to a hundred pieces with signal
ease and entirely without complaint through the pot’s assistance--the
pot that hangs under the blue skies above the glowing coals--the
out-of-door pot that magnetizes the willing hands of normal children.

Dye-pots, wash-pots, soap-pots are essentially and quite naturally
enough presided over by women. These things come under “women’s work”.
Such pots, as I have hinted above, have their positions determined by
the presence of some small brook that runs through the farm. The place
of the pot, of necessity, follows the vagaries of the brook. (“If the
mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain”.)
Thus it follows that the eastern Canadian wayside pot may be situated
near the house or several hundred yards away, in some pasture through
which the brook flows. The pot is carried to the water, but the water is
never brought to the pot, which is a thing to remember. Canadian women
are canny! And, the farther away from home the pot stands, the more of a
picnic soap-making day becomes for both mother and children. The ways of
these wayside pots are past finding out to the casual man or woman
driving over these rural ribbon-roads of the Laurentides, unless this is
remembered. For one pot may be so close to the road as to cause his
horse to shy, while the next may be off in a field with no house

[Illustration:

A WAYSIDE POT.]

in sight, and still another may be lost to sight down some stony
river-gorge, the ascending smoke alone telling the tale. But, apart from
the dye-pots and their sisters, there is yet another class of pot found
near the coast regions, pots that play an equally important part in the
upbuilding of Canadian life. These are the tar-pots, the lead-pots, the
seal-oil pots, etc., necessary to the fishing industry of our extensive
Gulf of St. Lawrence and Atlantic coast. These pots differ, too, from
the first class, in that these are presided over by men and boys. From
Percé to Digby, the shore-road throughout its many hundreds of miles via
Cape North and Halifax is “the way of the out-of-door pot” no less than
“the road of fish”.

When the magnitude and the significance of this is realized, it is
easily seen that these out-of-doors pots hold in their iron sides
considerable power over national industries and national life.

The sea-side pot is a sort of freelance. It is a man’s affair, often
wearing a sort of devil-may-care expression, no doubt produced by
environment. When the Nor’easter freshens to a gale it may strike the
old pot abeam, just as at sea it strikes his master’s schooner. But the
pot never capsizes any more than the schooner’s seams, which the tar-pot
tarred, open. So the old pot squints an eye to windward and laughs in
the face of the dun cloud and the freezing spume, knowing the dory will
come again to him for tar.

What fisherman can go after King Cod or any other fish without “a
sinker,” and a heavy one, for his deep-water lines?

So the beach-pot is also a lead-pot. Any bit of lead, sheet-lead that
lines tea-boxes, any old scrap however small, the old-timer saves and
consigns to the magic pot.

The king of the sea-board pots, in point of size is the dye-pot, in use
for cooking the concoction of spruce-bark employed to dye the seines the
pretty art-brown, which coast-fishermen consider the perfection of
camouflage against the piercing “submarine eye” of the silver
herring--so necessary as bait.

A pot of net a-soak, or men and boys spreading the wet net from the pot
on the beach-stones to dry, is a common sight on any fishing-beach of
the Maritime Provinces.

These pots presided over by the men are never kept as neat as the inland
out-of-door pot presided over by the women and children of the family,
but their usefulness is by no means inferior.

Up in the Bay of Fundy, nature in the great tides of that region aids
the work of the tar-pot. When the tide goes out, leaving the bottoms of
the plaster-carriers bound New Yorkward hard-and-dry, then the tar-pot,
aiding the indispensable oakum of the caulker, closes once for all and
to a certainty, the seams that open, insuring the delivery of the cargo,
aiding in its humble way the success of Canadian trade, no less than the
tar-pot of the Atlantic coast and its brother-worker the lead-pot aid
Canadian production.

The seal-oil pot of _Les Iles des Madeleines_ approaches nearest to our
idea of the witches’ cauldron. Standing on a narrow sandpit by the road
to Havre Aubert, the black-smoke and the dancing figure of the man
stirring the oil, the odour, and the gray sea, a stone’s throw away on
either hand, make a dramatic picture such as, I am sure, would be
encountered on no other highway in the world.



CHAPTER XVIII.

WOODCARVING.

_Making things out...._


“Making things out of wood” seems to be a “gift” with the Quebecquois.
But wood-carving is not confined to Quebec, although possibly it occurs
more generally in that Province than in any other.

All Canada sponsors “woodcarving” in her sons, because of the generous
supply of wood everywhere, with the exception of the Prairie Provinces.
And even these may easily obtain it from their generous sister Provinces
East and West.

Down Nova Scotia way a man seems to concentrate better if he has a bit
of wood in hand to whittle. And as his thoughts are concerned more or
less with the sea; almost without thinking the bit of wood in his hand
becomes a little model of a boat or a schooner, an oar, or a miniature
mast. The wooden-ship was cradled in the fingers of these old-timers.
Her spars may have been contributed by British Columbia, but what of
that. Is not British Columbia, Canada’s Maritimer, too? So it is, from
coast to coast.

Quebec’s carving is of a more domestic nature. M’sieu builds a house, a
little maison with “lines”, _mais oui_. In his conception and execution,
there is a certain deftness purely French. He carves some original
design in the piece of wood over window and door-frame, pointing and
panelling it to fancy, and afterwards painting it some pretty
colour--strong reds, blues and yellows--striking a bizarre harmony,
attractive enough; especially when Madame puts a piece of Royal-blue
wall-paper, sprinkled with gold fleur-de-lys inside the windows as
shade.

Down the north shore of the Saint Lawrence one meets little girls
hugging in their arms long sticks of firewood, which ingenious grandpere
has carved into “dolls”, life-size; and to which he has nailed shapely
arms, terminating in rather wooden hands.

The face has been made more life-like with a touch of paint, carried out
in the hands too, if there happened to be enough to go round. There are
no elbow-joints, but the arms turn at the shoulders most ingeniously on
the old nail. And the child who possesses such as one among dolls,
always wears a happy smile on the little, frank, French face of her, as
she totes the heavy stick across the grain-field-path, the waving ears
almost higher than her head and she the envy of every other child in the
village.

For the boy, there is the toy-boat, or the miniature warship, from the
same source--the rough log from the woodpile.... When M’sieu throws the
axe over his shoulder and goes off into the woods to cut firewood
invariably he returns with some old root that has struck his fancy and
in which he sees a latent “figure” of some sort. So, up on the highland
road to Murray Bay one happens on many a farmer who whittles pipe-bowls
from the _little_ roots; and on the Lowland road before it becomes
highland the big root resembling a moose’s head, is the prop of many a
stack of firewood.

Everywhere there is the universal, homemade, wooden Cross and the
handcarved symbol of the Crucifixion standing by all roads.

Every graveyard in Quebec, whether it be in the Laurentides section,
clear against the sky with the Saint Lawrence a panorama at its feet, or
whether it be some Indian graveyard, boasts its handcarved wooden
head-and-foot pieces and, of course, the big central wooden cross.

These wooden memorials of the graveyard are frequently very artistic.
The figure of an Angel in silhouette and life-size, with shoes and
stockings, encountered in one cemetery, appears especially adapted to
the _Paradis_ it would have the passing world remember. Somewhere in
that district there lives a man with the instinct of the sculptor; yet
he works in wood. And the pity of wood is that it is so very perishable.
In a year or two at most, the elements take these wooden memorials in
hand to their destruction, and that is the reason stone is now almost
universally taking the place of these old-timers.

But to return to the houses! Much of the furniture of the farmhouse is
handmade. Tables, with sliding tops, which allow the table to be
converted into a comfortable chair, are the pride of many a habitant
housewife. And, of course, there are the loom and the spinning-wheel,
with its accompanying shuttles and bobbins, all handmade.

But this woodcarving is an art that, though so common in Quebec,
recognizes no Provincial limitations; and so for the climax of profane
carving as against the religious subjects, say, of Monsieur Jobin, we
must go down into New Brunswick and interview Rogerson the master
Figure-head carver of Saint John.

Rogerson is a Scotchman. As you look into his keen blue eyes it is
difficult to realize that eighty-three years have intervened since

[Illustration:

CALL OF THE SEA.]

[Illustration:

THE FIGURE ON THE BOW.]

he first saw the light of day. He came to Canada in one of the old
sailing ships that held the Atlantic passenger trade ’tween-decks
seventy years ago. One of the sweetest word-pictures ever listened to,
Rogerson sketched, of his old mother cooking their meals on deck in the
brick fire-place included in the culinary appointments of the Atlantic
trip in those days. Soon after his arrival in Canada his father died,
and he was apprenticed to an uncle, a master figurehead carver of Saint
John, about 1850. Figuring it out, it would seem that for a hundred
years at least, there have been figurehead carvers of this one family in
the old city of Saint John, that, with Halifax, is Canada’s Twin-Gate to
the Atlantic.

When Rogerson had completed his time as an apprentice and worked awhile
with his uncle, “he felt”, to use his own words, “that he was repeating
himself.” So he gathered up his tools and went off with them over his
shoulder to Boston, much as any ambitious art-student, whatever his
chosen medium, hies him to Paris. Boston, in those days, was the centre
of the sailing-ship trade in America. “Out o’ Boston” sailed the
“clippers” in the China trade. Rogerson tells how at evening, after his
day’s work was done, he used to go along the docks from ship to ship
studying “The Figure on the Bow.” And he tells, too, how he worked for
first one leading firm and then another of the master figurehead carvers
of old Boston till he himself presently stood in the first ranks, able
to turn out any figure on demand in red-hot time. “Skippers couldn’t
wait in those days”, he adds. And even as he talks you see that his
memory has reverted to the time when “sails” must need _jump_ when winds
and tide beckoned. Then having learned all that he could in Boston, he
returned with high hopes and the skill and confidence of the
“Master-Carver” in his fingers, to the business-opening he recognized in
Saint John, with all the new ships a-building on Bay of Fundy “ways”, at
Parrsboro, Windsor, Hantsport and, who knows how many more of the old
bay’s outports.

And now he follows with such a list of Figureheads, as seems incredible,
until one recalls Rogerson’s long span of life, and that he worked “in
red-hot time.” Among those standing to the credit of this Saint John
carver “The Highland Laddie”, “The British Lion”, “Ingomar”, “Governor
Tilley”, “The Sailor Boy”, “Honolulu”, and “Lalla Rookh,” held high
place. About each, Rogerson relates some interesting legend. Of his
“Sailor Boy” he tells how a man came into his shop some years after it
was carved and told him he had a rival carver somewhere--that “there was
a ship out in the harbour with the finest figurehead on it he had ever
seen!” This haunted him so, that next day he closed the shop, got a boat
and rowed out to the vessel. On coming round her bow, there, above the
waves and himself, stood his _own_ figurehead!

Of “The British Lion”, he says, “It was a rouser!”

The ship that bore Governor Tilley at the bow had a long and successful
career, but was at last wrecked on the Norwegian coast. Through one of
those mysterious channels of Marine Intelligence, that sailors on the
waterfront know, Mr. Rogerson learned that though the ship was a total
wreck the figurehead was salvaged, and that his “Governor Tilley” now
stands in a Museum in Norway; and Rogerson thinks that it should be
brought back to Saint John.

The “Lalla Rookh” he had not seen since it left his hand to sail forth
upon the high seas till we showed him a photograph of it obtained while
the ship, at whose bow it stood, loaded deal at West Bay, near
Parrsboro, for the trenches of France. To think it was so near and yet
this old carver did not see it! Yet it pleased his old heart to know
that “she” was still afloat and carrying-on in the hazardous runs across
the Atlantic, with only sails and the courageous spirit symbolized by
the figure on the bow to aid her against enemy submarines--submarines,
the last word in sea-craft. It was on the “Lalla Rookh” that Frank T.
Bullen served his apprenticeship as sailor.

Of the “Ingomar” Rogerson says: “I always think it was my finest piece
of work. Strange to say,” he continues “I have no photograph or even
rough sketch of it. It was to be, I suppose, for the ship that bore it
was wrecked near here in the Bay. I went out to see the figurehead and
found it had escaped damage and I made every arrangement to return and
take it off; but the very next day a gale of wind came up and when the
gale abated not a vestige of my figurehead remained.”

“Old-timers among ship-owners had fads for names”, Rogerson says.
“Sometimes it ran to Indians, sometimes to mythological figures,
sometimes to reigning sovereigns; at other times to their own wives or
daughters, or to some popular man about town, or to a popular governor,
etc.” Among his Indian figureheads he recalled “The Indian Chief”, “The
Indian Queen”, “Pocahontas”, “Hiawatha”.

When fancy ran to the name of the ship-owner’s wife or to those of
well-known persons, the figurehead carver worked from a favourite
photograph, so that some old figureheads of this type are in fact
sculptured figures of the people themselves, people who in most
instances have long since passed away. The “Governor Tilley” figurehead
is a case in point and Rogerson is right in saying it belongs to New
Brunswick rather than to Norway.

Rogerson’s last piece of work was a labour of love. Not many years ago
he took a trip to Scotland to see the place of his birth and to revisit
the scenes of his early childhood. While in Scotland he collected, here
and there, a number of pieces of fine woods from old historic buildings,
etc., and these he brought back to Saint John, where in his leisure
moments he designed and carved therefrom a beautiful chair, which he
presented to the Saint Andrew’s Society, in whose assembly-rooms it now
stands.



CHAPTER XIX.

INDIAN LORETTE.

_Slish--squish!..._


Slish--squish!

Who is it comes so swiftly down the snowy highway? Who is it cuts
“eights”, “eighty-eights” and Paisley patterns, among the snowbound
trees of the northern Canadian forests? Who tames the wild, free,
northern country into proper service? Who follows the fur-bearing
animals to the death far in these same northern wilds? Who but the man
on snow-shoes? And who makes snowshoes?

Dropping down for a week at Indian Lorette in the Province of Quebec we
found “rooms” in a very quaint, steep-roofed, old house in the Indian
village by the Falls of Lorette where dwell the last of the Hurons.

There we came and went--idling the mid-summer days--down the little
lanes in slow and friendly fashion; coming upon children at their games;
women in door-yards sewing or embroidering moccasins, ornamenting them
with fancy designs in dyed moose-hair and porcupine quills; stepping
into rooms where small groups of men, and occasionally a woman, were
building canoes; chancing into still other rooms where men were at work
making--snow-shoes.

“_Oui, oui, m’sieu, madame_, the Hurons of Indian Lorette ’tis they who
make the snow-shoes.”

And, who are these Hurons--makers of the moccasin, the canoe, the
snow-shoe?

“Oh, m’sieu, madame, what will you in one leetle week?”

But at the same time, a week in Lorette _is_ a long time if one gives
every moment to it, as we did, scarcely stealing a moment for _déjeuner_
or _diner_.

The Indian Village that proves itself only partly French, despite its
French name, since it utterly refuses to follow one long street, is
neither all French nor all Indian, but resembles some little escaped
English garden romancing as the capital city of the Hurons--nine miles
by the Lake St. John Road out of the city of Quebec.

The English lanes of Indian Lorette all seem to convene at the old
church. And that too, strangely enough, gives one the impression of an
English village church. Perhaps it is the green in front, with the old
George III. cannon, that village tradition says “came here after the
Crimea”. At any rate “the English atmosphere” is there. But the
resemblance blends into old Jesuit, once we cross the threshold. If
Angleterre speaks in the cannon without, _m’sieu_, the dulcet voice of
France charms as sweetly within. First, we must see “the little house of
the Angels”, let into the wall, high above the altar. It is not very big
but great significance attaches to it, for this little house was used as
an object lesson by diplomatic missionary priests of the early days to
drive home to the Indian mind the sanctity of the home and the value of
the centralizing agency of a house as against the tepee.

“It is a little figure of the house of our Saviour and Mary, his
mother,” an elderly Huron woman told us in a half-whisper, “and some bad
men stole it, one time, and the people prayed and prayed; and one
morning, they got up, and the little house was back. The Angels had
brought it in the night.”

It is a dear little house in old dull blues; and somewhere about it,
lines of ashes-of-roses melt in with the blue, and there’s a little
touch of real old gold to give values. A bit of art in its simplicity,
is this little house from France, the “house of the Angels”, that won a
tribe to architecture and--higher things.

I think the Angels did bring it!

I think, too, they tempered the wind to the shorn lamb in sending “Louis
D’Ailleboust, Chevalier, _troisième gouverneur de la Nouvelle France_”
to be, as the crested tablet on the opposite walls says, “_Ami et
protecteur des Hurons_”.

Born at Ancy in 1612, “the friend and protector of the Hurons” died at
Ville Marie “_en la Nouvelle France, en mai, 1660_”. So reads the third
Governor’s life history as here quaintly but all too briefly written.

One could spend hours in this little church, so French within, so
English without; weaving with its souvenirs pages of history! For there
are many treasures locked up carefully in the sacristy--_anciennes
pièces_ of hand-wrought church-silver from France, and many rich
embroideries and a priest-robe wrought by the hand of court ladies and
presented by the queen of Louis Quatorze. “_Ah, oui, oui, madame, c’est
magnifique!_” In detail--but who cares for detail? It is sufficient that
these valuable relics of olden days are _here_ for our modern eyes to
look upon on a summer day, greatly enriching our experience.
Nevertheless, who would expect this sort of treasure in Indian Lorette?

[Illustration:

FAMILY GRAVES.]

[Illustration:

THE SNOWSHOE.]

To the left of the little “international” church lies the old burying
ground where at dusk one parching summer evening we came upon the
graceful figure of little Marie watering the precious flowers growing on
her “family” graves--graves with the curious “wooden” head-stones--so
popular all through rural Quebec--made by the local carpenter or some
member of the family who is also something in the way of a woodcarver.

As all Lorette roads lead to _l’eglise_, so they ramble their lane-like
ways away from it, wandering first by the little village grocery
occupying a cottage--once an old homestead and neat as a new
pin--picking a tree-lined way between little whitewashed _maisons_ in
yards, flower-filled, up to a _grande maison_ with steep pretentious
French roof, vine-covered porch and dormer windows--a house that was
once an H. B. C. Post, according to village tradition. One can readily
believe it. To speak briefly, it shows the “hall-mark”. Nevertheless its
pretentious dimensions are as much of a surprise here in Indian Lorette
as the exquisite embroideries of _l’eglise_, to which all that this
house suggests of frontier life, when this was the frontier, appears so
entirely opposed, and yet, of course, was not.

For in the “olde days” a strange unity often existed between phases of
life apparently wide apart, giving zest and ambition to adventure and
investing commerce and the early church with the halo of a dramatic
interest that still clings.

All over the British Empire are nooks with these touches--the union of
the truly great of time and circumstance with little places. Canada
appears especially rich and happy in the possession of innumerable
villages and towns of this description. One has but to follow “the
trail” to discover them everywhere.

The atmosphere of Indian Lorette is not all of the dead and gone
variety. “_Non, m’sieu_, Lorette is still--a stage in the limelight.”

It is “a stage” that has moved forward its appointments in a truly
marvellous and skilful fashion so as to link up “the Canada of all
time”. For nothing we could name so bespeaks the true spirit of Canada
in one breath as do the things found here in Indian Lorette in the full
swing of production--the snowshoe, the moccasin and--the canoe.

The canoe, especially is a motif--a giant pattern gliding powerfully
through the very warp and woof of the land. To go back--modifications of
the canoe were here long before the Norsemen or Cabot or Columbus. To
go forward--who can foresee the canoeless day?

So, stepping up to a Lorette door and over the threshold, to happen upon
a bright, berry-eyed, deft-fingered woman with sure and certain strokes
tacking a canvas over the frame of a canoe, the boat that typifies
Canada, was like coming unannounced upon the spirit personality of the
land itself.

Ma’am’selle was all graciousness; at the same time artist enough not to
lay down her tools but kept at work as she talked--tapping punctuations
with her little hammer that had a character of its own, taken on by age
and much use.

“_Mais oui._” Many years she had worked at the canoe-making “_avec mon
père_.” “_Mais certainement_” she liked it.

“_Difficile? Mais non._”

The canvas went on as we watched--then the stem-bands. Ma’am’selle
worked quickly but without haste, after the manner of an old hand. The
stem-bands in place ma’am’selle rested and began to talk again.

“Would we not see the beginnings?”

“_Oui?_ Then upstairs, mesdames.” This invitation was accompanied by a
slight bow and a sweep with the hammer in hand towards a little
pine-board stairs. And up we went to make the acquaintance of _le
bateau_ itself in its “beginnings”.

Have you seen a canoe in the making--the swift manipulations, the
decided, skilful movements, in which every stroke counts? Have you seen
the surety of the French-Huron hand at work at this inherited trade, how
fingers, guided as if by magic, lay the thin, slim boards in place; how
the knives swish through the wood at the desired length; how the little
plane disappears in the maze of shavings it has created? A tap here, a
nail there and the last plank is on.--A moment ago, it was a board lying
on a bench. Now, it is--a canoe!

If you have thus watched, then you know the sensation, as we do, of
having beheld a clever trick performed without knowing how it is done.
For to say the least, canoe-making at Indian Lorette is a fascinating
bit of sleight of hand! Ma’am’selle says it takes two days to build a
canoe. But the preparations--oh yes, that takes much longer.

We inquired as to the market, where they were sold. At this ma’am’selle
contracted her shoulders in a French shrug, threw out her hands--still
holding the hammer in the right--and cried, “_Mais oui_--all over
Canada.”

Hand-and-glove with canoes and snowshoes goes the moccasin. The moccasin
in Indian Lorette is an old, old story--as well as an elaborate
one--real and flourishing to-day. It was a surprise to us to find that
the Hurons still wear them, in lieu of shoes, about their daily
business. Men and women pass silently up and down these little lanes,
with no need of rubber heels, where the sole is like velvet.

The tannery lies across the bridge above the famous “Falls of Lorette”.
In the tannery yards moose-hides from the Canadian northland flap in the
wind, side by side with “hides” from Singapore. (For moccasin making
here is a business big enough to call for imported skins.) And yet “the
factory” is small, because most of the moccasin making is done in the
homes. The cutting, cutters and machines are at “the shop” but the
artistic embroideries in coloured beads and porcupine quills grow under
the skillful touch of women and girls sitting on their vine-clad,
tree-shaded balconies or making purchases from the butcher’s or baker’s
cart in the shady lanes, moccasin in hand.

In this way moccasins enter into the home life of this “remnant of the
Hurons” in a most intimate fashion. Even in the days of their prosperity
as a tribe the number of moccasins made never equalled the trade of
to-day. Nor was the market so large or so far-flung. One hears half a
million pairs spoken of with equanimity. One is surprised that so many
moccasins find their way to the woods and boudoirs of Canada and the
United States; surprised, too, that the Indians have made good to such
an extent from the commercial angle, creating, as it were, their own
market.

Followed through all its quills and fancies, it is a pretty, homely
story. But after all it is a story that brings one back to the people
themselves. The chief is Monsieur Picard, residing in the old Hudson’s
Bay Company house. He is a young man who saw service in France. The
ex-grand chief--M. Maurice Bastien of maturer years--is actually the
ruling power. Chief Bastien belongs to “the old school”, is very
dignified, quiet, stands on ceremony, is the real head of the moccasin
industry and has the gift of entertaining. He has an exceedingly
pleasing personality and can carry solemn functions through to a
successful issue. All the responsibility of doing the honours of the
tribe to distinguished visitors falls to him. It is he who owns the
precious wampum and the invaluable silver medals, gifts of
distinguished sovereigns to himself and predecessors in office--one
medal from King George III, one from Louis Quinze of France, one from
King George IV, two from the late Queen Victoria.

Monsieur Bastien lives in a fine house tastefully furnished. On the
table in the parlour stands a photograph of Philippe, Comte de Paris, in
a blue vellum frame, a simple gold fleur-de-lys at the top. The Comte
presented his photograph to Chief Bastien’s father who was the
grandchief on the occasion of the Comte’s visit to Lorette.

There are many other valuable souvenirs but we liked best an old oil
painting of the pioneer days, showing Hurons approaching, as visitors,
the Ursuline Convent in Quebec. As a work of art it is probably of
little value, but its theme--its theme, _m’sieu, il parle_.

As Monsieur Bastien talks of the past while graciously showing his
visitors all these souvenirs, including his own feathered head-dress and
the blue coat with its time-faded brocade which he wears on state
occasions, he has the true story-teller’s art of making the times and
occasions live again, so that through the ages you see the long
procession of great families--Siouis, Vincents, Picards, Bastiens--from
the earliest time down to the present--hunters, makers of the moccasin,
the canoe, the snowshoe.

You see them off in the northern wilds of the Laurentides hunting the
skins that enabled them to fill British Government contracts every fall
for several years after 1759 for several thousand pairs of snowshoes,
caribou moccasins and mittens for the English regiments garrisoning the
citadel of Quebec.

A Sioui is still the central figure in the making of snowshoe frames.
Siouis and Vincents are still keen on the chase. ’Tis they who in season
guide the sportsman from over the border to the haunts of the moose and
_truite rouge_, ensuring plenty of sport.

But at this season of the year the Huron of Indian Lorette is off on his
homemade snowshoes far in the silences of the great fur country and the
timber lands of Northern Quebec working for a living--“hunting the fur
and the big log, m’sieu”.



CHAPTER XX.

THE ABENAKI BASKET-MAKERS.

_It is the proud boast...._


It is the proud boast of the people of Pierreville on the St. Francois
river, on the south side of the St. Lawrence, that there is no bridge
other than the railroad bridges over any river between Pierreville and
Montreal, and that if you desire to cross any of these rivers you must
do so on the picturesque ferry-scow which m’sieu the ferryman, guides
over the calm water, mirroring reflections on every hand, on a
wire-cable cleverly seized by him in the snapping jaw of a sort of a
wooden monkey-wrench.

We “called the ferry” at this Twickenham of Canada for the first time in
August and set up house-keeping in a cottage on the main street of the
village of Odanak just at the point where the street comes out on the
high bank overlooking the river St. Francois. So that to watch the upper
ferry from our front porch became a daily amusement.

Pierreville and Odanak adjoin each other but enjoy separate
post-offices. Pierreville is the French-Canadian town and Odanak the
village of the Abenakis. Our “maison” was a sort of boundary line, I
believe. Odanak when translated, we were told by the Episcopal
clergyman, means “Our Village”, so what with the picturesque ferry and
literary suggestions of Miss Mitford in “Our Village” name, our August
camping-ground became atmospheric at once.

But wherever there are Indians they take the centre of the stage and
hold it. Odanak is “Our Village” to the Abenakis. And as far as I know
it is the only home-village in the possession of what is left of these
people.

The Abenakis were the “original Yankees”. They came to the banks of the
St. Francois from Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts. If you wish to know
more about their interesting past read “_Histoire d’Abenakis, depuis
1605 jusqu’a nos jours, par L’Abbe J. A. Maurault_”. It is a thick
volume and makes a pleasant tale to read by a roaring fireside of a
winter evening. But this present sketch deals with the living
present--the Abenakis of “our day” from the human interest angle.

Just as the Hurons of Lorette are snowshoe, canoe and moccasin-makers,
the Abenakis are sweet-grass basket-makers. And their market? _Mais
oui_--all over Canada--east and west--, north and south, and the United
States. Rumour says that the turnover to the village and region from the
baskets is in the neighbourhood of $250,000 a year. Men, women and
children work at this basket industry. There is no factory. It is all
pleasant homework. Women at work sit on their porches. Housewives ply
their fingers in the kitchen, picking up the basket, as other women pick
up knitting. Little children braid the grass over backs of chairs in the
door of the little play-tent on the lawn. Schoolgirls make pin-money at
it. Neighbours gossip in dooryards, basket in hand.

Baskets talk in the grocery and dry-goods shops in Pierreville as
successfully as money. If a man or a woman needs a little change, he or
she takes a basket in hand and comes back with the silver. It was a
happy discovery when the founders of this people trekking it to Canada
came by chance on the original grass growing on islands in the river. It
was a still luckier turn of fate that prompted some old squaw to dry it
as a simple herb and in so doing--though she must have been disappointed
from the herbal point of view--to learn the astounding fact that dried,
_the grass gave forth a pleasing odour_--that it was--in her simple
language--“sweet”.

So simple a discovery as this, and determination to put it to use, is
the Abenaki’s stock-in-trade. Out of it he has built up a
quarter-of-a-million dollar business. And he now farms the grass as do
more or less all the French farmers of this neighbourhood, because the
business has grown to such an extent that the natural supply is not
enough. The only part of the basket taken in hand by the men is the
preparation of the splint from the big log. The only factory (?) for
this work stood across the street from our door. It was merely a neat
yard with a board top for shade. Here every morning two big ash logs
were pounded with the head of a wood-axe until the layers or rings of
the tree’s growth could be stripped off. Little by little these strips
were made thinner by a man who separated the ends of each strip and tore
them asunder, through their entire length, by means of two small boards
held between his knees.

Other men ran the strips through a planing machine. Two keen steel teeth
in a board, paralleled the required width, and the wooden ribbon rolled
into a bolt was ready for both the market and the dye-pot of madame. I
should not be surprised if this is the only factory of its kind on this
continent. Certainly it is

[Illustration:

“POUR MADAME’S BOUDOIR.”]

[Illustration:

THE TWICKENHAM OF CANADA.]

the only one with Abenaki labour--and Abenaki atmosphere throughout. Its
counterpart has been here a long time. Its beginnings reach back very
far into Canadian history.

Visiting the dyer, madame, swishing her ribbons into her pots of boiling
dyes and out again even as you watch, speaks with regret, and if she is
an old-timer, with genuine sorrow, at the passing of the old homemade
dye of which her Indian forbears knew so well the secret. “Those dyes”,
she says in her soft English voice full of the plaintive tones of the
red man, and rich with memories of the past, “those dyes were beautiful!
and, oh, we could get such lovely colours with them! Oh, but now we
couldn’t make the dyes. It would take too much, and so we use the store
dyes. And of course we are very glad to get them. But the old colours
were lovely.”

And in dreams, you can see, she still beholds the pinks and blues of
other days. And herein lies what for her is the tragedy of the larger
trade.

However, the younger woman snapping the ribbons into splint-lengths with
her sharp scissors has no regrets. She holds up for inspection the
spokes of the bottom-wheel. “Six colours, madame,” says she--“yellow,
purple, vivid green, light blue, red and then pink.”

But the wheel turning in her hand like the wheel of fortune, brings us
around to the grass again without which there can be no basket. The
grass is a story in many chapters spreading out to the countryside and,
crossing the river, trailing its way through St. Francois du Lac, the
large town facing Pierreville, out to the French farms bordering the
high-road to popular Abenaki Springs, where summer visitors go “to drink
the waters” and idle away the summer days.

The grass is grown in a bed. When grown it stands up in long wisps two
to three feet high. Pulled while still green, girls of the farm-family
clean it of decaying leaves but do not bother to clip any clinging roots
because these hold the plant together better for the braiding.
Apparently it is wilted or dried only a few days when the “tresseuse”
takes it in hand. All down both sides of the river thousands of miles of
this grass-braid is turned out. Winter and summer the braiding goes on.
We saw them braiding away in August--the same hands are braiding
to-night. Abenaki fingers learned the A.B.C. of it in 1685 when they
erected their wigwams on the east bank of the river and here in the year
1922 they are still--braiding.

The “braid”, of later years, has grown to be a business in itself.
French farm-families of the neighborhood often grow the grass and braid
it. Then they make it up in hanks or _echeveaux_, and retail it to the
basket-weavers in Pierreville and Odanak. An Abenaki who can make more
baskets than she can grow grass for, is very glad to invest a little
capital in the hanks, as she also invests in the rolls of wooden ribbon
from the factory.

The Abenakis, despite all the work being done in the homes, are a very
neat people. They are nearly all well-to-do. Even if they do put all
their dependence in one--basket! So far it has proved a very safe
investment yielding a high rate of interest. They mostly all own
splendid little homes, some quite fine houses in spacious grounds.

“Our village” is as sweet a village as old Quebec affords anywhere! Its
main street is shaded by tall and stately old trees. In the centre of
the village and situated in a grove on the high bank overlooking the
river is their fine church, a simple yet dignified and peaceful little
place of worship.

Father de Gonzaque, the curé, is himself of Abenaki descent and a most
genial man. Calling on him one Sunday morning after Mass, the Grand
Chief happened to drop in and between them they kept the Abenaki ball
rolling to our enlightenment for upwards of an hour.

Father de Gonzaque is not only of Abenaki descent but he has been priest
here twenty-five years. And this is the Grand Chief Nicholas Panadi’s
third time of office, so we were indeed fortunate that Sunday morning.

Among other things we learned that the present church is the fourth on
this site. The first was a wooden one built in 1700, and was burned in
1759 by British troops, the Abenakis having espoused the cause of
France--and lost in the game for half a continent. But the Abenakis were
good churchmen. They built a second church the following year, in 1760,
this held the riverbank and the tribe until 1818, when it was
accidentally burned. Then for ten years they had no church, and Mass was
said in the council room. In 1828 the third was built and this in 1900
was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, and since that time
the present edifice has been erected, so that in a double sense this is
Father de Gonzaque’s church--for he built it.

An interesting tablet occupies a conspicuous place in the wall on the
left-hand side facing the altar, and reads thus:

                                HONOUR,
          To the Honourable Mathieu Stanley Quay, Senator of
               Pennsylvania, U.S.A., of Abenaki descent.
                     “He made glad with his works
                  And his memory is blessed forever.”
                              A.D. 1902.

In the grounds of the church, in addition to the parish priest’s house,
the sisters have a large school for the Abenaki children, and there is
also a neat graveyard, and the Grand Chief’s house borders upon a little
lane bounding the church property. In front of the church on a bank
overhanging the river is a large summer house apparently for the
convenience and pleasure of Abenakis awaiting the church service. It is
remarkable for its rusticity, all the work being the handiwork of
Indians. And this in addition to commanding a superb view up and down
the river made it an interesting rendezvous for us of an August
afternoon. Not all the Abenakis are Catholic, however, as is testified
by the little brick church--also beautifully situated in a grove of
trees on the riverside--of the Church of England. The church is of
historic interest in that Queen Victoria herself gave the sum of fifty
pounds towards the building of it. It dates back to 1866.

There is also a Church of England school, and there they teach both
Abenaki and English. So that all in all the Abenaki children are well
taught, and all claim that the Abenakis are very intelligent and quick
to learn.

When the United States Government sent an observer to Canada some years
ago from the Indian Department in Washington to see what could be
learned from Canada as to the government of the Indians, the Abenaki at
Pierreville was one of the tribes and villages visited. The visitor went
back enthusiastic. He wrote pages about them in his report which began:
“In the beautiful little village of Pierreville”.

And this report was certainly borne out by all that we saw of the
Indians there. Like the Hurons they have intermarried very much with the
French, so that there are very few full-blooded Indians now living. One
of the purest is now an old man of eighty. He lives a little way out of
town and spends the evening of his life in comfort though not in
idleness. For he is the toy-canoe maker of the tribe. He specializes in
little birch-bark canoes about a foot long.

Whenever I see, no matter where, one of these little craft exhibited for
sale, it carries me swiftly back to the morning we came on old Joseph
Paul sitting at his bench in the shade of a big tree in his dooryard.
The old man is a little deaf but his pins and tools were all laid out so
neatly! Everything--twine and strips--just where he could put his
fingers on it with the least loss of time. It was inspiring just to
watch him building the little boat in hand. I had always had an idea
somehow that it was squaws who built the canoes till I saw this old man
at work. Is it ten dozen canoes a week he makes?

As I hold one of these little canoes in my hand what does it not
symbolize?

It symbolizes for one thing the voyagings of this people. Even now,
although they have homes here, the Abenakis are still _voyageurs_. In
the summer the men go off as guides to the sportsmen from the “Clubs”.
The reedy places of the wild duck’s nest, the best pools for trout, the
haunts of deer and bear and other wild creatures are familiar chapters
in their nature book. Those who are not guides turn a penny by tripping
it every summer to fashionable resorts of the Adirondacks with their
baskets and canoes. But chiefly baskets! The sweet-grass baskets are
made in many shapes. One company especially, one of the largest
wholesale dealers in Indian wares in Canada or the United States, shows
a sample book with many patterns and each pattern done in several
different sizes. Some are all green and others in colour. The
basket-makers have the trade at their finger tips. Never at a loss, they
can make anything which can be made with grass. The very old women are
expert napkin-ring makers, which is their specialty.

One old woman sits in her garden on the hill-climbing road from the
_traverse_, as the French call the ferry, and weaves her rings that are
to grace the dinner-tables of the east and west. She invites us, in her
frank manner, to sit down, seeing perhaps in the summer visitor a
possible customer. But no, she does not sell retail. “They are all
engaged, madame,” she remarks modestly. Then she adds, “but maybe, I
think, perhaps you like to look?”

So we take the chair madame offers, and a neighbor comes out and leans
over the garden gate and we chat, and on the calm river _le traversier_
ferries the flat-boat to and fro and his passengers in their strange
heterogeneous ensemble present a passing show that carries one out on
imaginary roads that lead back to the age when romance was in flower
here and Louis Crevier was _le Grand Seigneur_ over all this fair
demesne.

That one may have some idea of the passengers who traverse the St.
Francois at Pierreville the following comprehensive _avis_ or public
notice at the landing-place will tell more in its quaint way than a
dozen paragraphs:

_1 personne 5 cts._
_1 Voiture semple 15 cts._
_1 voiture double 20 cts._
_1 Personne a cheval 15 cts._
_1 Cheval ou 1 bête a cornes 15 cts._
_Plusieurs chevaux chacun 5 cts._
_Plusieurs bêtes a cornes chacun 5 cts._
_1 Mouton 1 cochon 1 veau chacun 15 cts._
_Plusieurs de ces bêtes chacune 5 cts._
_Tout voyage de Bac 15 cts._
_1 Automobile 25 cts._

In addition to the basket-industry, the men at the factory by our door,
make rustic porch-furniture out of their ribbons of white ash. They
paint the frames of the chairs that bright art-red which gives our
porches such an air of welcome on a warm summer day.

Seldom a train goes out to Montreal--and there is just one a day--but
carries crate upon crate of baskets and shipment upon shipment of this
handmade furniture. When you come to think of it $250,000 worth of sweet
grass baskets spells a great many baskets. It spells application and
swift industrious fingers. It spells good homes and comfort for the
three hundred Abenakis living in “the beautiful little village of
Pierreville”, and it spells a dainty sweet-grass basket for many homes
in Canada and the United States.



CHAPTER XXI.

“TO MARKET, TO MARKET.”

_There is a day...._

[Illustration:

STEPPING STONES.]

[Illustration:

THE FLOWER OF ST. ROCH’S.]


There is a day in the year 1676 which must ever stand out from the murk
of the early centuries as a Red Letter Day in Canadian history.

That is the day whose dawn broke on the first Canadian Public Market in
full swing.

The scene is laid in _La Place de Notre Dames des Victoires_ in the
shadow of Chateau Saint Louis, in old Quebec.

It takes but little imagination to reconstruct the colourful scene upon
which the first beams of the rising sun, touching with light the gray
and frowning walls of the towering Chateau, lifted the curtain of night.

Here were the market-boats from far and near drawn up on the beach. Here
were the rude stalls and booths laden with the vegetable products of the
little clearings beyond the city walls and at Ile d’Orleans; here were
Quebec’s first Market-women; and hither flowed throughout the morning a
most colourful pageant of patrons.

Viewed from to-day this market-scene is not important on its own
account. Its little turn-over is blotted out. Its significance lies
rather in the fact that here were planted the beginnings of the
market-carts, the stalls and booths, the long line of Market-women, the
wealth of products, “and a’ that” from the finger-like farms of to-day.

Its significance affords the markets of the hour an unbroken retrospect
of nearly two hundred and fifty years.

And of course that first market of Notre Dame des Victoires was herself
but a daughter of the old markets everywhere in vogue in France
transplanted to Quebec. So that if “blood counts” the “’scutcheon” of
the markets now scattered throughout Canada, many of them in the great
out-of-doors literally under the banner of the Maple Leaf, is certainly
that of an “Honourable Company”.

To Quebec then, belongs the title of “Mother of the Canadian Market”. It
was on her foot that the Province children of the Dominion learned to
ride:

    “To market, to market, to buy a fat pig.
     Home again, home again, jiggety jig.”

And that they learned it _well_ there is Dominion-wide proof: for not a
city of worth-while size but has its public market. Everybody knows the
Halifax market. Prince Edward Islanders claim that the Charlottetown
market is ne plus ultra! Quebec now has as many as four open-air
markets. In Montreal “Bonsecour” is a word familiar in every household.
Its vegetables and flowers line-up under the very shadow of the Nelson
Column, the Cathedral de Notre Dame and the Chateau de Ramesay.

Kingston, Toronto, Brantford and every other considerable city of
Ontario draw out the line of the market.

Winnipeg magnetizes the products of the truck-farm under the shadow of
her city hall. And here the Market-train, that is Vision, calls “All
aboard for Points West” and so, if you wish, in time you come in to
Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria. And when you get to
Vancouver the stalls of colour are grouped about the Post Office just as
they used to be in Halifax.

Each city has its own ideas of a market. And so, although the line of
the market is long, each has its own urban individuality.

The four in Quebec, although they are all of Quebec and all French,
would never be mistaken for each other. The same individuality is
evident in each stall, in each market.

Madame of Saint Roch’s sells from her cart, seated in the middle, with
her vegetable family all grouped around her.

She is packed in, as it were. She never alights, like her sister of the
Montcalm, using the bottom of her cart as a counter, or walks about a
little as do the vendors of Finlay, or spreads her stock out on boxes as
do the saleswomen of Champlain. So it is at Saint Roch’s we come upon
the little Flower-girl seated among her posies and sweet as the flowers
she sells.

But she is not the only vendor of _les belle fleurs_ even in Saint
Roch’s; here is the old woman from Charlebourg seated behind a jar of
peonies and Saint Joseph lilies, and here another beaming old face
outlined by cauliflowers, bunched like so many nosegays up and down the
roof-supports of her old cart.

Oh, what an air to these old French-markets of Canada! “Bon jour,
madame, bon jour” the same old voice hails patrons year after year. And
the attendant pageant of citizens who come to buy! What a humanly
interesting tide flows back and forth, now here now there, now this way,
now that, through the avenues of colour afforded by the fruits,
vegetables and flowers.

Here is a Sister, face almost lost under the picturesque black bonnet,
in her hands the long basket, from her side depending the Crucifix
silently reminding the pious habitant in whose Name she begs.

In the early morning come the housewives who believe in the old adage of
“the early bird”. These know what they want. They pounce and go.

By and by the stragglers begin to trip in, mothers who have had to see
their children safely off to school, and blow off steam a little in the
colourful atmosphere, before beginning to buy.

But the respite enjoyed by the old women in the carts is not for long.
Their gossip and chat and calling back and forth from cart to cart, is
cut short by a rising-tide of housewives arriving to buy in a heat for
the noon dinner. Ten o’clock sees the tide of trade in flood, with women
behind stepping on the heels of women ahead and tumultuous streams of
purple beets, the chrome of carrots, the spring-green of lettuce, the
pearl of onions, the fruity bloom of peach or plum, cascading into
waiting basket or bag.

Now, mingling with the throng may be seen the rather more sportily
dressed figures of the summer visitors, temporarily domiciled at the
Frontenac and out to “do” the city--Quebec, the Capital-city of Canadian
romance.

The Quebec market has filled the pages of two centuries and a half, and
in all that time there, over there, a little to one side away from the
crowd, a little on the outskirts of Food, as it were, has sat and still
sits “the vendor of baskets” (without which no woman can come to
market), and a curious appendage of “simples”--dried herbs, little
squares of Spruce-gum, tiny bunches of wizened roots.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is but a step from the Markets of Quebec to the markets of Ontario in
a matter of miles, but in atmosphere you step from Old France to Old
England.

Here in Kingston or Brantford is the old Market Hall that might be in
Nottingham or Newark or any other English market-town. And here the
market-men are of the English type--Old-Country fellows or United Empire
Loyalists. Here is the canvas-covered farm-wagon looking like the
spiritual ancestress of the prairie schooner. There is a change from
women to men as salesmen. There is not the customary tumultuous chatter
of the French. But there is more sunlight, more massed dashes of
cadmium, larger splashes of greens, reds, and purples thrown out by the
Ontario peaches, cucumbers and watermelons, netted baskets of tomatoes,
grapes of the Peninsula Vineyards.



CHAPTER XXII.

ONTARIO.

_Ontario is so modern...._


Ontario is so modern, and, to use a popular term, “up-to-date”, that
some years ago we were told by Torontonian after Torontonian that if we
were on the quest of the romantic we would not find it in Ontario.

We did not know what to make of it at the time, having in mind a number
of quaint old field-stone houses which we had seen along the road from
the car window in coming through from Montreal.

About these houses there was that certain unmistakable “something” which
for lack of a better word is called “atmosphere”. “Atmosphere and story”
just seemed to radiate from all their old windows.

I see yet, the picture made by their old, yellow-brown stone sides and
their steep roofs; all, in a clump of Lombardy poplars and smooth,
rolling fields, with here an apple orchard, and here a sprinkling of
sheep grazing on the rounded knolls, and cows standing with feet in the
brook.

Then I tried to make my Toronto friends see those old stone-houses.
“U-u-mph,” they said, “but they’re damp.”

Not long after that we came in contact with that other type of
early-Ontario house. The one with the low sides made of wood thinly
stuccoed with white plaster on the outside--the “Roughcast” houses of
Ontario. They of course carry in their now “peeling” plaster an appeal
to remember the Old Pioneers and days--the days when the hardships of
the wilderness rose up as a wall to deter all but the hardiest spirits
from blazing a trail here; here, where the true West had its portal.

Usually a clump of lilac bushes stands by these old doors, the boughs
gnarled and thick with age and the increasing struggle for
existence--the old lilac that strikes the human interest note and tells
plainer than words, of the domesticity that once was the pride of the
little family domiciled here so far away from “Home,” in the Old
Country. And over against these two old types of Provincial houses are
set the really palatial dwellings that represent the newer Ontario. And
yet to prove that no hard line separates Old and New, there is a fine,
old home down Saint Catharine’s way that claims to be one of the
earliest houses in the Province which, under the skilful renovation of
a modern architect, still holds itself proudly with “the best”.

If one had time to go into all the old houses of the Province, the real
old-timers--I am sure one would still find, as in Quebec, many fruits of
the loom. The old, woven carpet and bedspread, the old loom, and here
and there, perhaps, a grandmother to weave and many sitting and sewing
at squares for “pieced-pattern” bed-quilts.

In Empire Loyalist homes, of the country, there is, of course, still to
be found many a handsome and valuable piece of old furniture. Some of
the oldest and daintiest chairs we have ever come across, and one of the
dearest collections of little, old books, we once encountered in British
Columbia, out of Ontario.

Ontario is a sweeping Province of magnificent lakes and waterways. Her
coastline is almost as extensive as that of any Province. If it were not
that certain Atlantic Provinces have almost a monopoly of the word, she
might even be called “Maritime”.

Toronto is even now entering upon an era of a new waterfront with
docking accommodations of the best. For the Lake trade? Yes. And
presently for the Ocean’s.

So, in Ontario the trail of Romance, we soon discovered, led almost as
surely “By the ’longshore road” as down Nova Scotia way.

Ontario being a land of lakes, is, in consequence, a land of campers and
camp-fires; a land of the canoe; a land of fishing and hunting. And in
the North a land of logging, with the picturesque figures of the
lumbermen on snow-shoes.

Out there in the Georgian Bay is the romance of thirty thousand islands.
There are the picturesque figures of the Ojibways in canoes, still
taking the same old fishing and “trade” routes as in the days before the
coming of Champlain. Still there is Manitoulin.

The craft in greatest favour everywhere on lake, river and bay of
Ontario, is the canoe. I do not think anyone can know what an extensive
cult is the “canoe” till they see it in Ontario. In season it creeps on
the bosom of the lake like a leaf dropped silently from the tree. And
Romance rides in more or less every canoe, so that, if anything, the
Romantic may be said to be more difficult to keep up with in Ontario
than any of the Provinces. The trail of the Romantic invariably leads to
a tent somewhere by a stream. And

[Illustration:

AN OLD ONTARIO HOMESTEAD.]

[Illustration:

ONTARIO, A LAND OF CAMPERS AND
CAMP-FIRES.]

a camper may be just as romantic a figure as one who mows the hay, or
lists to the Angelus out of the Percé fishboat. What can be more
Romantic than a group around a campfire? Here seems to be situated the
very source and fountain-head of “pipe-dreams”, stories of the forest,
legends of the Indians--all interwoven and crossed with traditions of
pioneer explorers.

And these old tales are always having new chapters added, every time an
angler catches a fish; everytime a hunter takes a gun under arm.

Go out anywhere with an Ojibway of the Georgian Bay region, and you will
happen upon a black pot a-sling over a log upheld by two other logs, and
a roaring fire under the pot. Across the log may be several bits of
branches with a forked branch cut to give “beard” to the hook from which
swing a number of smoky tea-kettles and lard-pails, all hard a-boil with
tea, potatoes, or fish, or maybe just pork, suspended in the flame and
the smoke, or above the live coals, toward which a frying-pan is tilted
to bake the dough it holds into a cake of bread.

Do not these pots and kettles call to the cauldrons of Quebec, the
Madeleines and far Newfoundland, as to sisters? Ethnology of people!
Sometimes, it would seem, there is an ethnology of inanimate things.

Here in Ontario, among the Indians, one finds skilful workers of
sweetgrass, though apparently there is nowhere such a concentration into
a trade as in Pierreville.

But the Ontario squaw shows much delicacy in the use of porcupine
quills. These she dyes, or uses _au naturel_, in combination often with
birch-bark, to make a basket that is of Ontario, and one which would
hold its own everytime with the Quebec basket “pour Madame’s boudoir.”
The Ojibway woman shows an innate taste in design. The “patterns”, as
well as the colours employed in her basket, are frequently exquisite in
their harmony.

Somewhere on the beach or under trees, clinging to life, yet half
decadent, as a thing whose usefulness has been “outclassed”, one happens
here and there on the tribal or community-canoes, long, sinuous lines of
boathood half bizarre by reason of design, simplicity of material and
traditions of the builders; but more than half “bizarre” by reason of
things that cannot be classified yet nevertheless are positive in
suggestion. Was it in such canoes the Iroquois pursued the Hurons
fleeing toward the wilderness and out of it, to the shelter of the
French at Quebec? Was it in such canoes that the old explorers,
Champlain, Frontenac, the old Jesuit Missionaries, Breboeuf, Carron,
pushed along these lakes and water-highways? Was it in such, the
coureurs du bois, the trapper, the pioneer, the soldier, all those
characters of old--romantic characters of Old France, Old England, Old
Scotia--was it in such they took the paddle in hand, metamorphosing it
at a stroke into a “quill” wherewith to write “France” and “England”
across the page of a continent?

Here, too, among the Ojibways is still in use the hollowed stone with
its companion, nicely smooth and rounded for grinding corn. Old squaws
of the Ojibways can, and _do_ still, “turn the trick” easily enough.
Then there is another form of mortar, with a wooden pestle four or five
feet in length, bulky at each end and slender in the middle, so that two
hands may grasp it quite easily.

Thus, by these two instruments, comes the grain to the dough of the
frying-pan loaf.



CHAPTER XXIII.

ONTARIO CONTINUED.

_History furnishes Ontario...._

[Illustration:

VIEW FROM HIS BRITANNIC MAJESTY, GEORGE III’S
CHAPEL TO THE MOHAWKS, NEAR
BRANTFORD.]

[Illustration:

FORT MISSISSAUGA, NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE.]


History furnishes Ontario with a dramatic inheritance hardly less
colourful than that of Quebec. In the early part of the seventeenth
century this was the real battleground between conquering Europeans and
the Redmen for the possession of the vast inland stretches of country
about the Great Lakes. It was the sanctuary of thousands of Empire
Loyalists after the war of American Independence. And it was again a
battleground in the war of 1812.

Many great names are written in, many striking figures illumine the
Ontario log. And as one wanders about in present day Ontario as in
Quebec, memories of this fine past are constantly creeping out at
unexpected moments to convince one that the past is ever present.

Great men and great events do not die. To these early days belong many
an old fort and earthwork whose frowning severity is now time-softened
and mellowed by the touchstone of romance.

Such a flambeau of story is old Fort Mississauga, at
Niagara-on-the-Lake. In the clearing about this old tower, where men
under arms drilled a hundred years ago, sporting figures of golfers now
roam, and caddies “present” sticks for this “drive” or that. From the
ramparts--recalling the ramparts at Annapolis Royal--one looks down to
watch the waves playing “Hide-and-Go-Seek” among upstanding timbers that
resemble the weathered and bleached ribs of some old wreck. These were
the old Fort’s seaward-straining palisades.

Across the river is that historic old French fort, Niagara, now
belonging to the United States, and up the river at Fort George, grow
the thorn trees, which a pretty legend says came from slips sent from
France to French officers stationed at Fort Niagara. And while thinking
of the old fort, which is the symbol of history to the people of to-day,
what can be more romantic than the Martello Tower cropping up suddenly
out of the waters of Kingston harbor like some sea-creature come up to
breathe?

       *       *       *       *       *

The period of the influx of United Empire Loyalists brought also that
interesting people, the Mohawk Indians, to settle under their chief,
Brant, on their allotment of land at the mouth of the Grand River, and
to give a name to one of Ontario’s most prosperous cities.

The story of the Mohawks’ loyalty to the Crown is one of the longest and
most romantic stories of those romantic times. But the objective peak of
interest is reached in “His Britannic Majesty George III’s Chapel to the
Mohawks”--a few miles out of Brantford. Down in this old wooden church
with the Royal Coat of Arms quaintly set over the door, abides that
atmosphere of tranquility only attained by the old church, old home, or
old person that has lived through great experiences and scenes, but now,
having come out of all these, has reached the detachment of a placid old
age that “regrets little, and would change still less”.

The view from this old “Chapel”, up out of that stormy period, dually
staging Indian warfare and Colonial pioneering, is like a pastoral
benediction bestowed on those white men and red who fought so hard for
Ontario and the unity of the Empire.

And somehow, as you sit in a pew of this quiet church with the spirits
of the great Chief Brant and others, whose graves stand in the
churchyard, hovering in the air of splendid achievement which makes up
the Province’s inheritance, you cannot but feel that there is a great
bond of common experience uniting into one family this church--the
quaint church with the little “House of the Angels” over the altar at
Indian Lorette--the Catholic church at Pierreville, whose forbear went
up in flames during the French and English struggle for supremacy on the
Saint Lawrence, and the old Colonial church at Grand Pré, standing amid
its curtain of Lombardies, and surrounded by memorial gravestones
whereon are cut names now immortally chiselled in the history of Nova
Scotia and of Canada.

Recognition of the fact that this chain of old churches, to which many
another throughout Canada of its own right belongs, has stood for the
fundamental in an age when the very grip of the pioneer on the land was
in a sense uncertain, must tend to reveal the hand of destiny, and
strengthen the Canadian’s national consciousness.

That, it seems to me, is the first lesson Romance reads to the people of
Canada from the doorway of these old churches, happened upon here and
there from the Atlantic to the Pacific and striking northward with the
great rivers running toward Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean. The very
name of this old Mohawk church is national.

In the city of Brantford, in addition to the fine bronze memorial of
Brant, supported by the figures of other Mohawk warriors, there is an
unique monument marking an event of world-wide interest--the invention
of the telephone by the late Alexander Graham Bell. The early home of
Bell, where he perfected the marvellous invention which was to render
such signal service to mankind, and which by virtue of that invention is
more than a Provincial landmark, stands a few miles out of town on a
high bluff above the Tugela. It is a quiet spot, and one of those ample
old houses whose very atmosphere must have been conducive to research
and experiment. Canada not only possesses the distinction of this
homestead and all that it stands for, but for years Mr. Bell came back
every summer to his chosen home near Baddeck on the Bras D’Or Lake to
carry on further researches and experiments; and it seems in keeping
with his deep love for his home here that when the Great Voice rang him
up, it should find him in Canada; and that he should be buried, as he
is, in Canadian soil.

       *       *       *       *       *

A great deal of story and romance is bound up with _the canals_ of
Ontario. The building of canals at so early a date proves the practical
attitude of the early settlers of this section toward the importance of
good water-highways for craft and commerce. The canals seem to ante-date
the roads in some places. In all cases, they supplement the great lakes
and rivers, amplifying the span of Provincial and National waterways.

The canals of Ontario are pivotal as the Province is pivotal. Without
them the Great Lakes would never come to the sea or the sea to the Great
Lakes.

Romance gets aboard the canal-boat of Ontario no less than aboard her
sisters of the Richelieu. Nor does she stop to question whether it be a
thousand-ton freighter, or a mere barge with picturesque windmill-sails
to the pump and a line of family wash strung out from the caboose; or a
blackened line of hulks with coal, “bound up”, or “bound down”, she
steps aboard. Romance is true blue. She rides with the humblest, or on
the white-and-gold pleasure boat to view the majesty of Capes Trinity
and Eternity on the Saguenay, with equal ease.

What wonder then, that the canals of Canada have their
individualities--individualities no less romantic than those of the
lakes, the sea, or the rivers. The largest and most imposing of these
is of course the Canal-town. The very presence of the canal gives one of
these town the right to reach out understandingly, and with a certain
degree of similarity, to any of the old river-towns of the Saint
Lawrence, and to claim relation with any town of the coast whose harbour
and trade-interests have given it the distinctive name of “sea-port”.

Canal-towns have just a little more atmosphere than a town minus a
“water-gate” and a “water-street”. Craft of one kind or another seek out
these towns, coming to them, not in the usual marine settings, but
apparently upon the bosom of agriculture. Everyone knows what a shock it
is to look across what is apparently a solid field of grain or potatoes
and to see sailing through the vegetation a steamer’s red funnel, capped
by a plume of black smoke. Yet this is a “headless horseman” effect
which the inhabitants of some of the canal regions of Ontario know well.

Another feature, purely the canal’s own, is the lock. What pictures are
afforded of the different types of traders which without any orderings
except those of chance and circumstance, assemble here from time to
time, forming little groups which are as a collective voice asking the
lock-master to open the gates! And when later they string out one behind
the other through the lock, what are they but so many carriers of
Canadian trade? Here is one with paper-pulp, one with lumber, another
with coal. And so the list could be drawn out indefinitely.

At the locks, pictures are made by the power-buildings in well-kept
lawns and gardens; gardens with their riotous splashes of bloom waved
over by that world-known dash of colour which is the British Flag.

Across the ship-canals land-traffic must needs throw its turnbridge. The
opening of the lock-gate is the signal to the bridge attendant to give
the dusty old viaduct its swing. And so the “locking” of a vessel calls
into being many interesting facets of life, which would not exist except
for the canal. One of these facets is the collection of country teams
which drive up and are called upon to wait while the ships go through.
It is a pretty illustration of land-trade waiting on sea-movement--which
has been the law since the world began. Another, and more individual
feature etched by the Canal is the old-time fisherman. All the canals of
the world must know this type of Isaak Walton. Mrs. MacRobie of Iroquois
is an authority on this kind of fishing. Her favourite fishing-ground is
the Galops Canal at Iroquois just where

[Illustration:

HOME OF
ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL.]

[Illustration:

ON THE CANAL.]

the clean ribbon of water crosses the foot of her back-yard. For thirty
years she and her husband sat beside each other daily on the canal-bank.
Now, her husband having died, she is left to fish alone, except when the
neighbours’ barefooted boys come along with their poles and cans of
wriggling earthworms and drop their cork-bobs on the water next to hers.
Mrs. MacRobie has a store of local history from which she draws, on the
evening we join her at the fishing. Her father and grandfather have
handed down to her medals which show the part the family took in the
Battle of Windmill Point, in the war of 1812. On another evening she
invites us into the house to see these treasures. And then it is she
brings out what seems to be an old-fashioned prayer or hymn book, in a
calf binding, but turns out to be a clever earthen receptacle for
“spirits”. This “book” is very old; and the story that goes with it is
to the effect that a man could take it into church when he had had a
long cold journey to get there and not be suspected of having reached
the church largely by the aid of John Barleycorn. It is said of it, too,
that its ancient owner found it of great convenience in his campaigns.
This little “Treasury of Devotion” is now of increased interest in view
of present day Prohibition, and it is also of interest in showing that
indulgence was not without artistic and literary camouflage even in days
of yore.



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE PRAIRIE.

_The Canadian Prairie...._

[Illustration:

CANADA, “THE BREAD-MOTHER OF THE WORLD”.]

[Illustration:

STEADY, THERE!]


The Canadian Prairie may be compared to a vast stage set through the
length of three entire provinces for the enactment of one great epic
entitled “WHEAT”.

Wheat is the greatest piece of realism staged in Canada. And its
companion-piece, in point of size and importance, is “Fish”--The
Maritime. Taken together they seem to point to Canada as the living
parable of “the loaves and the fishes.” The ovens of Quebec as well as
the ovens of all the other Provinces look to the Prairies for
fulfilment.

But the wheat of the Prairie Provinces does not confine itself to, nor
is it used up by these home ovens! rather it overflows to other ovens
overseas, converting Canada by a sweet yet subtle power into a symbolic
character--the bread-mother of the world. The thousand-mile wave of
tawny grain from Thunder Bay to the foothills of the Rockies is a
rippling voice; the voice of a most pleasing personality; a voice that
carries across the stage in accents at once assured and winning,
speaking to the world at large, so that it penetrates to remotest nooks
and corners of the earth, speaking as the finest voices do, to the heart
and the individual. One has only to follow the long Prairie trail to see
how many and varied are the ears that have heard the magic call of
Canadian wheat.

On the Prairie, Englishman, Scotchman, Irishman, American, have one and
all hit the trail in the train of wheat. On the Prairie, too, are to be
found other followers in that train, men from the wheat-lands of Old
Europe and men who never saw a field of wheat until coming
here--Icelanders, Poles, Ukrainians, Austrians, Finlanders, Swedes,
Bukowinians; and how many others? Talking with the old-timers, the
pioneers, the prairie schooner, the ox-cart, the buffalo herd, are still
vividly within the memory of men now living beside the main highway of
railway tracks with fast fliers from Halifax to Vancouver passing and
re-passing several times a day.

Nowhere is the quick development of Canada so evident as here on the
plains. Yet the steady voice of wheat is still calling; and to her voice
are now added other important voices, and still others. Men and women
with families are still coming and will come. The Prairie is big and
generous and it _gives_. At the same time it admits that what it needs
is more people; on the principle that the bigger the stage the more
people are on demand in the chorus. The individuals who have listened to
the call of the Prairie and followed its pipe have one and all brought
with them their own individuality as well as some of the fundamental
things which were theirs by reason of the old life back in the rural
parts of Europe.

They are now giving these, the best of themselves and of the old lands,
to the Prairie Provinces. As a class the foreigners are now known as
“New Canadians”. The tiny homes which these built when they first came
to Canada out of saplings and such wood as the country roundabout
afforded, are in many instances little gems of architecture. The sides
of these houses outside the framework of wood are plastered--usually by
the women of the household--a yard or two at a time, each yard of
plaster being scrupulously whitewashed as it goes along. Sometimes the
roofs are sodded and masses of wild-flowers not infrequently bloom
thereon. But more frequently the steep little roof is built of
split-by-hand shingles, rough and artistic.

Inside these little houses, so strongly resembling their quaint cousins
of Quebec, are all the handmade things and furnishings which mark the
century-old French homes of Eastern Canada. There are, first of all, the
same little windows flung open to the breeze, the same manifestations of
art-reds and blues in paint over doors and windows. Inside, in the
living room are handmade wooden benches, many with lines distinctly
Russian; on the floor, hand-loom carpets and about the walls, a bit of
the same home-weaving in tapestry effect, lined, perhaps by a frieze of
empty egg-shells with bizarre patterns in red and black, almost
Egyptian. So fragile are some of these simple things, so passing their
reign in the rapid prosperity overtaking the children of the older
generation that it seems to be a question as to whether these abilities
to create a house and artistic furnishings out of almost nothing will
survive to enrich the national life as in Quebec.

In the dooryard of these houses there are strange contraptions of wood
for holding a log in place while it is being sawn. So easily manipulated
are these things, that stepped into Canada as an idea from somewhere in
the Carpathians, that even a small boy operates them successfully.

In these yards, too, are _wells_ with big wheels and artistic roofs of
hand-split shingles of a foreign steepness--wells, whence women with
plotoks on their heads, call as sisters, to the women at the wells in
Nova Scotia, in Cape Breton, in the Madeleines.

Here in many instances are to be seen the same rodded fences as occur in
Newfoundland, each of course, with its touch of individuality, some
fairly straight and others serpentining about the little garden of
flowers which the old-timers love. In many cases too there is the same
little patch of tobacco, as that met with in the _jardins_ along the
Saint Lawrence. In the kitchens of these houses are homemade wooden
spoons, stirring-sticks and wooden forks. Some of these are given a coat
of red or blue paint. Lemon yellow is a favourite colour for the wooden
benches that stand against the walls.

It speaks well for the sturdy character of many of these oldtime places
that some of them have been able to hold their own within thirty miles
of Winnipeg--not being obliterated by the wave of modernism of which the
great capital city is the crest.

The New Canadians, representing many lands and widely separated sections
of Old Europe, have contributed to the Prairie Provinces a variety in
the way of Church architecture. Cupolas and domes distinctly Eastern,
almost Turkish, startle one above the tops of Manitoba maples or the
bush of the river-banks. These architectural figures of the landscape,
apart altogether from their religious significance, are centres where,
crossing the threshold on Sundays, one has an opportunity of hearing
Swedish music or the rich, deep chanting of the Russian responses; and
of viewing at close hand the artistry that goes to make up the interior
appointments of these churches transplanted from the East to the West.
Here, too, silhouetted against the sky, is the little separate
bell-tower and perhaps the three-barred Cross of the Eastern Christian
Church. Here and there in the corner of a wheat-field, at the
cross-section of a Prairie highway, one sees, as in Quebec, the tall,
uplifted Crucifix set up. It is indeed a mosaic of vast dimensions and
great breadth, essayed of the Prairie.

_Genre_ of wheat is no less distinct than _genre_ of the
’longshore road. Here is the Sower, here the Reaper, here the
Stacker-of-the-big-Sheaves--_the Stooker_ as the Prairie calls him. He
may be a man from the East, a Sioux, or a townsman out to lend a hand.
With his brown water-jug and his bronzed face, he is almost a symbolic
figure, building the golden sheaves in stacks of five for the playing
breeze and warm sun to give the ripening touches to the _grain_ that
makes Canada--the bread-giver of the world.

[Illustration:

“THE STOOKER,” AS THE PRAIRIE CALLS HIM.]



CHAPTER XXV.

ROMANCE CLINGS TO THE SKIRTS OF WINNIPEG.

_An extended sojourn...._


An extended sojourn in Winnipeg is in the nature of a revelation. One
goes to Winnipeg expecting and finding it as a city--the Colossus of the
Plains--modern, business-like, a pattern-builder in wide streets, with
everything else in keeping on a big scale, but just a little crude and
bare along certain lines, as every _new_ city, or even house, is bound
to be. That is the picture one draws aforetime. But the fact is that a
few weeks in Winnipeg reveal it--and the revelation is almost sharp
enough to be a shock--as a centre of the Romantic--itself a personality,
involving the life of the entire West and especially the
Prairie--combining the east and the west, the great north and trailing
south, the old and the new, the Indian, the French and the English--the
great epic of fur and afterwards that of wheat. No city of the Dominion
is more closely of the same Romantic blood as Quebec, than Winnipeg, and
strangely enough, one conceives this western city of Canada, from the
viewpoint of a sculptor, not as “a strong man” but as _a woman_,
eternally feminine, with trailing garments, with the immediately
surrounding country out and beyond as far to the north and west as
Canada goes, extending the hands of Romance, to cling fast to her
skirts; as the figure of a mother held in leash and hardly able to step
for the many loving hands of clinging children.

Romance is a free spirit of the air. One cannot tell where she will
alight, or what she sees that makes her choose some one spot and reject
others. But when you recall the many characters of history who have
written their sign manual across the Winnipeg page, these mellow and
tone the sharp edges of big business until you regard it not as the
growth of a day, but as the attainment, the reward, for which all the
fine personalities stepping up to recognition out of the colourful
pageant of the Past gave their best efforts and their lives. These
towering buildings, these wide streets, are the fulfillment of the
dreams of men who looked forward.

When Romance takes your hand in Winnipeg she leads you first to, and
then out on her favorite trails, via the Fort Garry Gate. And there she
conjures up vast companies, organizations and individuals, enough to
fill a library and to cover every canvas in the largest gallery. Book on
book has been written on these old forts and their occupiers, and still
there remains material galore--a store which will never suffer
exhaustion. But the fact to be dwelt on in stepping here with Romance,
is that they were touchstones drawing together men from enormous
distances, obliterating distances and difficulties, creating
Cartographers of Canada, soldiers who subdued the part to the whole;
that in the gatherings around their hearth-fires, Hudson Bay, the
Northwest, the region of the Mackenzie, the Saskatchewan, the names of
the Fort-posts of the then almost unknown new North, tripped from men’s
tongues as if they were out there just a little way beyond the Gate. It
was the love of the Romantic, the love of adventure, and the love of
action, in the hearts of the listener and the stay-at-home to which the
story-teller, arriving from who-knows-where in the wilderness, appealed.
It was the human interest that centred around Winnipeg and radiated
thence, that, trickling back to the Old Country, determined new spirits
to leave behind the old lands and step out boldly into the new country,
though it were becurtained of hardship, cold, hunger and promise. One
cannot very well hang back when Romance takes one’s hand. So you think,
when some bright summer morning you motor down to Lower Fort Garry with
your clubs, “Here is another old Fort given up to Golf.” And at once you
recall the morning you tramped the Fort Mississauga links, fanned by the
breezes of Lake Ontario. Strange, the eternal kinship of the Romantic in
Canada!

It is a far cry from an Old Fort to truck farms. Yet Winnipeg changes
from one to the other with the ease of a dancer of the minuet coping
with the jazz of the moment. The big thousand acre wheat land represents
the loaf, but the vitamine of the vegetable is as necessary as bread to
the modern table, keen on the chemistry of foods. The truck farms
encompassing Winnipeg and doubly upheld by her home-tables and her
pickle factories, stage an army of picturesque foreign-folk--Galicians,
Russians, Ruthenians, Mennonites, Dutch--who have the art of
truck-farming at their finger tips. This is no mere figure of speech but
a simple fact. And this knowledge they have employed to make Winnipeg
one of the richest cities in the Dominion in this matter of fresh
vegetables.

But the human interest centres in the picture made by these cauliflower,
cucumber and rhubarb stretches. Especially since the laborers in these
field-gardens are mostly women, one of the farms, if no more, being
owned by a woman and personally operated by

[Illustration:

AT THE WINDOW.]

[Illustration:

“... AND THERE IN THE CUCUMBER FIELD,
IS OLD KITTY.”]

herself, with the aid of skillful woman employees. These women in the
beans make picturesque figures with heads in white kerchiefs, full
skirts tucked in gracefully at the waist and the big bushel basket in
hand. Chatting with a motherly soul, broad and short with blue eyes it
is revealed that she is a Mennonite, straight from Holland. Talking with
a tall, thin young woman she tells that she came from the borderland of
Poland and Russia, and that she speaks seven languages, but that she has
always worked on the farm. And she touches the beans with a sort of
stroking tenderness, as if she loved all things that grew.

In the onion field seven or more women working together make the weeds
fly. They, too, cling to the kerchief of the Old World rather than to
the hat of the New, as a protection against sun and the weather in the
fields.

Here are women with bundles of rhubarb in their arms, loaded up to and
steadied by their chins. These are assisted in the bundling by a
homemade wooden contrivance for holding the refractory stalks together,
while the strong fingers of the women gather and jam into a slipless
knot the coarse cord which enables the bundle of pie-plant to come
invitingly to the Winnipeg market. And here are cabbages fit for kings,
whose heads, though they look solid and heavy enough, are evidently
touched with the wand of wanderlust, since the farm-superintendent
explains while we stand looking at them, lost in amazement, that these
same cabbages charter whole cars to themselves and go off some fine
morning east and west and even over the border to points South, he knows
not where.

And there, in the cucumber fields, is Old Kitty wearing her bag apron,
her old face cobwebbed with the fine lines etched by a long life spent
beneath the Manitoba sun that ripens the wheat. Kitty belongs indeed to
old times. She must have been among the first of the women emigrants to
these parts. She speaks little English. Schools were not for her. In her
youth it was not “Kitty against a Textbook”, but “Kitty against the
Wilderness”, and the prize was Existence. And Kitty won; so that her
aged dumbness before you, is the most eloquent oratory. And her smile is
like a benediction.

While you watch Kitty with her stick carefully turning aside the leaves
to discover thereunder the cool-green cucumbers, and wait for the moment
when she straightens her back to rest and give you that whimsical, sweet
smile that bids you stay though no word is exchanged, the man who
partly owns this farm, with his sister, comes up, and as you move away
with him to watch the carts loading ready for the early morning start to
market, you speak of Kitty and he amazes you with the intelligence that
he and his sister called her “Mother”.

“Our own mother died when we were children and perhaps we would have
died too if it had not been for that old woman. Those were hard times,
and life was difficult enough for grown-ups on the Prairie in those
days, let alone children. But she pulled us through. And she still
orders me around and tells me what to do,” he added, laughingly.

So that was old Kitty’s “bit”--her contribution to the life-line of
Prairie settlement! Yet if Kitty had to come over now she might be
debarred on the score of illiteracy.

       *       *       *       *       *

At Selkirk, before you have forgotten the towering offices and the
bustle of Winnipeg not an hour behind you by trolley, there is the same
little scow ferry on a wire, by which to cross the Red River, as that by
which you crossed the Saint Francis at Pierreville. It would seem, too,
as if this calm water and its wet reflections of grass and trees, were a
re-cast of the pastoral streams meandering to the Saint Lawrence. And,
having hailed the ferry, turning toward the city again, following the
road of the East bank, one comes upon Gonor, a village that follows the
highway for several miles. This village, which might have been lifted up
root and branch from somewhere in the Carpathians and set down here in
the heart of the Canadian West is made up of row on row of little
foreign houses with quaint, whitewashed sides and the steep hand-split
shingle roofs, set about by little farm-buildings, with overhanging
Swiss log-roofs and everywhere, farmyard chickens, ducks and tiny
porkers! And here and there down the long street a little church peeps
out, each with its own distinctive architecture, the straight, almost
Puritanical lines of the Swedish, the breath of Asia in the minaret of
the Russian, the voice of poverty and hard struggle in the low unpainted
little Bukowinian.

Back from this village and the River stretches mile after mile of sparse
settlement and pioneer farm, some well on the road to prosperity and
others still rough-cast; and here and there the neat little cottages of
the Manitoba Department of Education--the little cottages that are a
part of the new scheme for having the teacher reside among the people,
maintaining in these home-like, modern houses an example of the kind of
comfort to which the foreigner on the land can aspire. The school is a
centre for drawing the parents as well as the children together. It is a
very practical idea, but compared with notions only lately prevalent,
there is certainly a touch of Romance in the determination of Manitoba
to bring the school to the child rather than the child to the school.

Here on these roads and others in the vicinity of Winnipeg, and in fact
everywhere throughout this Province, on the small farms just hacking
their way out of the bush with rows of wheat--rows every year planting
their feet to a longer stride--the _Scarecrow_ is a character not to be
despised. In fact, he plays the important role of a Knight of the
Fields, defending the defenceless wheat from the piratical incursions of
crows and small birds. The Scarecrow is a substitute for a man. And
wherever one defying the battle and the breeze is spied, it unfolds the
story of some man who has planted his foot on a portion of land and is
tenaciously hanging on by the aid of any invention or device which he
can bring to his assistance.

It must feel less lonesome for the man, toiling alone in these fields
out of sight of any neighbour, and sometimes of his own little cottage,
to look up and see that “the other fellow” is still on the job and means
to stick it. O, there is no doubt about it that even the Scarecrow has
its psychology! Why else has it stood the test of Time, come up
simultaneously from the fields of all lands, crossed the ocean and
surmounted every difficulty in its path across the continent, arriving
here to hold its own as “Knight of these Western Plains”? Oh no, you
cannot take the scarecrow from these old-timers--these old flotsam and
jetsam farms and gardens, East and West, without a distinct loss in
Romance to all Canada. For this old man of the fields speaks a universal
language which appeals to all hearts, young and old. In fact, he seems
to be the very fountainhead of youth. For whenever one happens upon him
unexpectedly, instantly, swift as light, there is an outburst of
laughter--“The Scarecrow! The Scarecrow!”

In the early days of the Northwest, the days when the Garrys and sister
forts were in their heyday, before the city was; in the days when dog
teams and sleds furrowed their paths along the big trails north and
south, when the patient ox-teams motored the would-be settlers from Auld
Scotia and elsewhere, from Winnipeg to some land-grant along the Buffalo
Trail; in the days when the farmer hauled his wheat in the creaking
ox-cart back to Winnipeg to be ground into flour by the one gristmill
that then served this now elevator-dotted land; in other words, in the
days when red men and furs held revelry, and agriculture was yet hidden
in the womb of Time, the wander-loving French-Canadian came here in the
character of settler, trapper, canoeist, fur-dealer, boatman and
_coureur de bois_ out of Old Quebec, much as he is now pushing out to
settle his own Provincial north.

In such suburban towns as Saint Boniface and Saint Norbert, and in their
citizens, present-day Winnipeg traces her French strain back to Quebec
and through Quebec to Normandy and Brittany, whence came many of the
customs and touches met with here, clinging so curiously to the skirts
of the West.

These little French “Bluffs” loom on the landscape not only in the
vicinity of Winnipeg, but are happened upon here and there throughout
all the Province, especially in the North.

At Saint Norbert one steps down out of the car to be met by a colourful
wayside sign of the Jefferson Highway, “From New Orleans to Winnipeg”,
with “Palm to Pine” illustrations in colour. The Romance covered by this
sign, cosmopolitan as any on the continent, lies in the complete
metamorphosis suffered by Winnipeg and the middle west for which it
stands, in the matter of distance. Distance with a big “D” has been
wiped out. You are as near to the world, in touch with it as intimately
in Winnipeg as anywhere else in Canada or over the American border.

This elimination of distance, owes its being to distance-created needs.
In this, Winnipeg was a pathfinder, an urge. The things which she stood
for in the North led Prince Rupert and navigation to conquer Hudson Bay.
Raw trails were broken and river-boats built to reach her fur-preserves
and fur-market. She shod the ox and designed the big wheels of the
prairie-cart to recover the waste lands of the Prairie from the heel of
the Buffalo. The Prairie and the Pacific called for the railroad that
primarily grouped Canada into one whole, with a united morale. It was
the _remoteness_, once for all definitely broken by the railroad, which
hatched the modern passion for “close connections”. The voice of the
West is passionate in its demand for great highways like this, bringing
within hail the sunny seaports of the beautiful Gulf of Mexico on the
one hand, and the equally individual climate-and-trade-romanticism of
the New North, practical Hudson Bay ports with navigation and ships
coming and going, piloted hither by the wraiths of the Elizabethan
Galleons, pioneers in sea-adventure, on

[Illustration:

A “KNIGHT OF THE FIELD”
DEFENDING THE WHEAT.]

[Illustration:

FOOT BRIDGE TO TRAPPIST MONASTERY,
SAINT NORBERT.]

the other. Distance, for which this section of Canada once stood,
sponsored the automobile, the airship, the telephone, the radio--the
things that are drawing individuals and families together, co-relating
separate businesses into one great co-ordinated momentum, called Trade,
making every city suburban to all the others, and uniting, supporting
and developing the National consciousness. Transportation, good roads!
They introduce the man in Vancouver to his brother in Winnipeg and
Halifax. Canada is a unit. There is psychology and powerful suggestion
in linking up the fronded palm, fanning beside the Gulf, with the sturdy
evergreen of the North.

At Saint Norbert there are touches of Quebec, in a little altar-chapel
in the woods, to which small pilgrimages are made. There is the Church
and Convent and a most picturesque group of Holy figures about _La
Crucifie_ in the cemetery.

The French language commingles everywhere with the English. In the
little shops here, as well as in the big shops of Winnipeg, two
delicacies are offered for sale--_Fromage de Trappe_ and _Miel de
Trappe_--Trappist Cheese and Trappist Honey. And here, within a stone’s
throw of Saint Norbert, is situated the Trappist Monastery whence these
products hail. This Trappist Monastery is the only door we have ever
found closed to us in Canada! But that makes it the more romantic.
Nevertheless, we have ridden in their empty wheat-cart, driven by a
Trappist brother in his flowing habit, the reins in one hand and huge
rosary with individual beads, comparable in size with small crab-apples,
in the other. We passed on this ride other brothers swinging down the
beautiful tree-line approach to the Monastery, driving spans of horses
with full cartloads of “No. 1 Northern”, and saying their Rosaries at
the same time--a rare subject even in Canada’s immense gallery. Surely,
Prairie wheat rides to the elevator in a variety of carts, and many
languages urge the horses to their task. A little office at the gate was
as far as our driver dared take us. The Brother in the office takes
orders for the cheese and honey, and entertains us with a book of
photographs showing the chief Trappist Monasteries of the world. We
returned by a little foot-bridge over a stream, and by a woodland path
edged with blueberry-bushes and other attractive undergrowth of the cool
woods.

       *       *       *       *       *

Although the immediate vicinity of Winnipeg is able to show such a
profusion and variety of colour, the entire Province of Manitoba,
together with Saskatchewan and Alberta, produces a riotous line of
romance equal to these nearer roads or any of the older Canadian
Provincial gardens. The little Russian boy standing by a window blowing
soap bubbles, through a wheat-straw, unconsciously presents a symbolic
picture of the romantic dream both projected and fulfilled by the
Prairie. To all those with vision, its Voice called. It called above all
to the home-hungry children of the Old World to come and settle here.
Called them to visualize their dreams, and, is still calling. But its
call reached only those with initiative, for it offered on the surface
only tasks and difficulties--put the wheat-straw in their fingers and
said “Build your own dream-castle. Here is land without boundary. But
the vision, the dream,--is yours.”



CHAPTER XXVI.

MINE HOST--THE MENNONITE.

_One morning in autumn...._

[Illustration:

CURING A PELT, WHICH, SOONER OR LATER, GRACES
THE SHOULDERS OF SOME LADY OF THE LAND.]

[Illustration:

ON THE GIRLS’ SIDE.]


One morning in autumn we left Winnipeg by a C.P.R. train to Morden with
the avowed intention of visiting the Mennonites of that section, getting
acquainted with them and seeing their community life from the inside.

On arriving in Morden we were somewhat at a loss to find ourselves far
away from the typical Mennonite village to which we had been recommended
by a young teacher in a “new-Canadian” school in another part of the
Province. When we had asked her about the Mennonites, their habits and
customs, she had told us as much as she knew of their quaint ways and at
the end added: “They have their faults no doubt, and many of their
customs are strange, but I shall never forget how kind they were to us
children when our mother died.”

I had treasured this in my memory because if these people were a people
ready to be good to children, I had no doubt but they would show the
same milk of human kindness toward--visitors.

In Morden, the mayor kindly lent us a time-yellowed chart of “The Old
Mennonite Reserve”, and steering by this we left Morden in the early
afternoon on a branch line of railroad running south. It was an obliging
sort of coach-train and set us down some six miles out of town at a
grain elevator. The boys “running” the elevator got out their Ford and
drove us over to Ostervick, which was our destination. Thus the day,
begun in Winnipeg, found us in the late afternoon driving down a
tree-lined Mennonite village street, with the prairie-wind scattering
golden, autumn leaves in the car and under our wheels.

The Mennonite village here is the most perfect bit of camouflage in the
world. It is located in a wood and as no house is visible it differs in
no respect from any of the bluffs in sight, until you come right upon
it. Even in the wood the houses are all set back from the street and a
little tree-lined lane leads into the yards. Nothing can surpass the
privacy thus obtained for each family. We turned in at the lane leading
to David de Fehr’s house and when we presented the teacher’s letter of
introduction, David and his wife laughed at our venture, looked us over,
looked at each other, and agreed to take us in. This, briefly, was the
manner of our reception into a Mennonite home with the opportunity of
seeing at close quarters the life in a Mennonite village on the “Old
Reserve”.

I think the first surprise came to us, after the idyllic situation of
the village, in the large, substantial houses. Most of them were
painted, usually white, all having Dutch shutters painted a Delft-blue.

Most of the houses are long, one-storey affairs with shingled roofs and
are not unlike “Cape Cod houses” of the early type. The de Fehr home was
a new, two-storey cottage with the characteristic Dutch shutters at the
downstairs windows. It joined the barn by a separate room where water is
pumped up for the stock in the winter. We visited a number of houses,
drove through other villages and were at Morden and Winkler, but I saw
only one house that might be said to be _in_ the barn, after the manner
of the old-time farm-houses in France, although more or less all
appeared to be connected _with_ the barn so that you could step out of
one into the other without going out-of-doors. At Mr. de Fehr’s a fair
white door led into the barn from a room with pumpkin-yellow floors
which looked as if they had just been painted--as they look down in
Quebec. There were, by way of furniture in the room, which might be
called the winter-kitchen, two lounges, a table, two or three chairs,
and a rocker in which David de Fehr sat to read his mail, including the
different newspapers to which he subscribes.

In addition to this room, on the first floor, were a large parlour, a
smaller room used as an office, and the family bedroom. There were three
bedrooms upstairs. In our room, in addition to the bed with its heavy
homemade all-wool comforters, a large Russian chest with black, iron
handles, occupied one side.

I speak of the room on the ground floor as a winter-kitchen because the
_summer-kitchen_ is a dear little white cabin in the yard, under the
Manitoba maples. A Mennonite custom which went at once to our hearts is
this of outside-kitchens for summer use, we having seen so many in the
West Indies and the South. The little summer-kitchen here was a house of
magic from the cooking angle. There Mrs. de Fehr prepared all her long
list of Mennonite dishes, and at her large stove with her kitchen apron
about her, she was the typical housewife--an example to her sisters
scattered far and wide all over Canada.

Every Mennonite _gate_ had its family group at night standing inside or
sitting on the fence to watch the cows come home. Evidently it is an
event of which, in all these years, they’ve never grown tired. And a
little variety creeps into it every night in watching how the cows will
carry their tails, for on this hangs the weather for the next
twenty-four hours according to Mennonite lore. “If the cows run with
their tails straight out behind them when they come home in the evening,
it is a sign of rain, and if they come with their tails down it is a
sign of fair weather.” The manner of their going in the morning
apparently doesn’t count, probably because the cows are then too sleepy
to know more than that their tails are behind them.

The Mennonites, though primarily grain-growers, are generally interested
in stock. They keep horses, cows, pigs, chickens, geese. A few own
automobiles, but these are not “old kirk” folk. The de Fehrs are Old
Church people, and were to us even more interesting on that account, as
we felt that our visit was with the real old-timers. The Old Church folk
have little points of dress which aim at simplicity. Men of the Old
Church do not wear a tie or a white collar, and the married women wear
black caps. Otherwise the house-life seemed little different from any
other prosperous farmer’s, believing in the simple, old-time rural life.
One aim of Mennonite life, it seems, is to keep its people loyal to the
soil. And this is a fundamental thing in these days of farm-need.

Madam de Fehr is a great spinner. Indeed, in the winter the spinning
wheel fills in much of the time in every home. But in summer there’s the
cooking and the horses and other live stock to attend to. The Mennonite
women in all the villages lend a hand with the horses, grooming them and
getting them harnessed, ready to go in the wagon or to draw plough or
harvester. We had not noted this work so much among other foreign women.
The women work very capably and easily with the horses and it doesn’t
seem hard work to them. They are at their best, however, in the little
kitchen, before the door of which the wind was strewing the golden
leaves when we went for afternoon--no, not tea--_coffee_! It is a
Mennonite custom to have coffee and bread-and-butter and perhaps jam,
every afternoon at four o’clock. The men leave off ploughing and come in
from the fields for their cup of this refreshing hot drink. Mr. de Fehr
said the Mennonites think coffee very stimulating and good for a man
that works. I fear that all our Canadian farmers are not so well looked
after by their wives in the cold autumn afternoons at the ploughing! The
coffee is ground fresh in the little mill over the stove at every
making--a pointer for any who wish to adopt this custom.

At dusk the cows come home--two hundred and twenty-two of them--in the
village of Ostervick. Supper is at seven. And at night while we were at
table the herdsman came to make his report to Mr. de Fehr, who this year
holds the office of head overseer of all the herd. The holder of this
office is elected for one year. He keeps the books, knows just how many
cows each villager has, and pays the herdsman out of the several kinds
of grain--so much of each--and the money that each owner pays per head.
The arrival of the herdsman disclosed the fact that the cows are
assembled each morning at the blowing of a horn after six o’clock. We
were up betimes that first morning and every morning after to watch a
scene of old-world life which we believe can be witnessed nowhere else
in Canada.

The piper starts from one end of the village, blowing the horn or bugle,
as he goes, down the whole length of the street--carpeted at that time
with the golden autumn leaves! When he has passed the entire length he
turns around, and the cows come out of the first gate, the second, the
third, as fast as the rats followed the piper of Hamelin. Our gate
happened to be near the centre of the village so we had a box-seat at
this strange performance.

Of course before the cows come out of each picturesque lane it means
that an army of milkmaids have been up betimes getting them milked and
ready to come upon the stage at the psychological moment of the herder’s
arrival at that point. It spoke well for the girls that few cows were
late. Unless one has witnessed this strange foreign sight and heard the
bugler coming on, with the bugle in one hand and cracking his heavy whip
with the other, driving those two hundred beasts to pasture, one cannot
imagine how dramatic an event it is. But I think perhaps that, except as
the early morning is always the hour of charm and witchery, the manner
of the herd’s arrival home in the evening, though different, is equally
dramatic. For then the cows come in a hurry to be milked.

All the Mennonite women are good cooks. Some of them still hold to the
out-of-door ovens as do the habitants of Quebec. For heating these ovens
the women cleverly make use of the straw-pile, and many are the loaves
of homemade bread and the pies that find their way in and out of these
ovens!

Marking the progress of this people, in some of the yards, stand the log
houses of the pioneers, mute witnesses of the wilderness life to which
these people came nearly fifty years ago.

We noticed that Mr. de Fehr often looked with apparent affection upon
the trees in his yard. So one day we commented on them, their sizes,
etc. “They were planted?” we inquired.

“Yes,” he said, “my mother planted them. She brought them from the
mountain in her apron. We boys went with her to get them. Each of my
brothers had a bundle of them--I had a little bundle too.”

What a picture he conjured up! Can’t you see that old peasant-woman from
Berdiansk with her saplings and her boys--saplings, too? And the
mountain? We could just see the outline of it against the distant
horizon. That will give you some idea of the journey she made and the
distance she brought her load. As we looked at the arboreal beauty of
Ostervick, to which she had contributed, we found it in our hearts to
wish that every woman-settler in the West would direct some of her
energy to tree-planting and tree-culture. And we wondered what this
dead-and-gone mother could have given her son for remembrance one-half
so precious?

Speaking of trees, the Mennonites are fond of flowers, too--hollyhocks
being especially popular. But I did not notice that they kept bees in
quantity as do the Doukhobors. The Mennonites are not vegetarians like
the “Douks” but eat meat of all kinds, and fish. Macaroni, homemade, is
a staple dish, also noodle soup. But _plemm-moase_, a sort of
pudding-soup made of stewed fruit, prunes, raisins, etc., thickened with
flour, seems to be the national dish. And their cottage-cheese dumplings
served with cream and melted butter, make a dish fit for a king. There
were other good things to eat, chickens, eggs, fried crabapples, etc.
The Mennonites may be a plainly dressed people, but they certainly live
well as to food. They say “silent grace” before and after meals.
Smoke-houses stand in many yards and we saw one Dutch windmill for
grinding grain. At Winkler there is a fine flour mill.

In one house we saw a quaint old clock brought over from Russia. It had
no case, merely a large face with sprays of pink roses, and long brass
weights. In the same house the chairs were newly painted in art
combinations of black and lemon yellow.

Among the Mennonites we were everywhere struck by their thrift. Indeed,
in thinking of them, my memory flies back to those substantial
well-built, well-kept-up farm-houses. “Real Martha’s Vineyard and Cape
Cod houses”--long, low, shingled, with sides painted white, against
which the clean delft-blue shutters make a Dutch picture. Especially do
I recall one freshly painted home which, in addition to white sides and
blue shutters, boasted a terra-cotta band at the base of the sides,
lemon-yellow balcony and steps, with apple-green railing above white
bannisters with green centres. And this dignified, yet gay, little house
with the real air of charm about it, sits well back in a wide lawn of
its own, with a lane leading into the backyard and stable and out to the
tree-lined highway, which passing straight through the length of the
village, is this little rural settlement’s only street.

The day we left Ostervick it blew a slight prairie gale, but after
lunch, the wind abating, Mr. de Fehr and his wife put the horses to and
drove us nine miles to Winkler. The wind was still high, however, and
the dust like smoke, so we were very thankful to accept the kerchiefs
which Mrs. de Fehr lent us to tie over our heads, and in the picture of
all in the wagon it is very difficult to distinguish between Mennonite
hostess and the guests now thoroughly won over to the “plotok”.



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE PAS: GATEWAY OF THE GREAT NORTHLAND.

_Romantic Canada is...._

[Illustration:

KASLO AFTER RAIN.]

[Illustration:

MOUNTAIN GOATS,
SNOWFLAKES AGAINST THE BLUE SKY.]


Romantic Canada is never halted by natural obstacles. Like the true
diplomat, she wins over hindrances to become aids. High mountains, large
rivers with swirling rapids and falls, immense lakes, inland seas, have
thus become to Romance, mere stepping-stones. So the cold of the Great
Northland, from being a barrier of conquest, has simply inspired Madame
Romance to call for her heaviest and finest furs, her dog-team and sled,
her snow-shoes, and a supply of good pemmican. Snow is to her but
Nature’s cosmetic for rosy cheeks.

“Trade” long ago, claimed The Pas, in Manitoba, as “The Gateway to the
Great Northland” and at once Madame proclaimed that “solemn-faced
Business” was justified in this; but at the same time she herself
reserved the right to spread her pelts for a mat, and sit in this Gate
at all times. And Trade, which always walks hand-in-hand with Romance,
was very glad to hear her fiat, knowing that the Romantic and business
are so close interwoven as to be almost one and inseparable.

The Pas, as a town, is new; but its site was a Trading Post ages upon
ages ago. Old in this particular, to the Indians before the advent of
the Hudson’s Bay Company in these parts, it was an objective of the
Crees, perhaps before Leif coasted from Greenland to Newfoundland. The
Pas is still remarkable for the absence of ordinary roads. To get to and
from the Pas of old there was only the broad bosom of the Saskatchewan
inviting the canoe. But of late years advancing civilization has pushed
northward the Hudson’s Bay Railroad. Pioneer wit and humour, with its
gift for nomenclature, at once personified the trains for this romantic
adventure in rails. The train from the South was christened the
“Tamarack”. The sub-Arctic Explorer conquesting to the North they aptly
called the “Muskeg”. These two names speak for themselves concerning the
nature of the country.

Anyone, who has watched the indomitable “Muskeg” go forth from the Pas
station in the thick of a driving snowstorm, knows, beyond doubt, that
Canadian courage is a driving force practically at work to subdue to the
service of the nation all that vast coastline of Hudson’s Bay which has
hitherto been allowed to run to waste.

For all this great enterprise “The Pas” is the “Gate”. Nevertheless when
one goes down to the bank of the Saskatchewan and looks up and down the
silvery bosom of this ribbon of water, which makes its start somewhere
out there in the Rockies, one knows that The Pas has a waterway which
must always place it in the first ranks among the busy centres of the
country. The river is to The Pas what the Grand Canal is to Venice. The
gondola here is the canoe or the old stern-wheel passenger boat, tapping
the neighbouring country.

There was a time when The Pas knew that romantic flotilla, the York
Boats of the H.B.C., which periodically passed here with cargoes of
pelts between York Factory and the Old Stone Fort or Lower Fort Garry.
The York Boat has long ago “cleared” for her last long voyage and, with
her passing, passed also that old Character of the Canadian
Northland--usually come hither out of the Shetlands or the Orkneys--the
H.B.C. boat-builder. No more are heard either, the chansons of the
rowers. In the place of these old boats of the fur-trade there is now
the flotilla of Ore-boats; for The Pas, the gate to the fur-country, is
likewise the water gate for receiving the rich mineral wealth of
northern Manitoba. Copper comes down the river and steps ashore here,
destined for the smelter away off at Trail, B.C. This is indeed a long,
long trail for ore to take; but it is an admirable illustration of the
unity between widely separated parts of Canada. Today there is more
inter-provincial business, and more universal assistance from one
section of the same Province toward the development of some other
section, than has hitherto existed. In this, Canada has caught the
National stride with remarkable celerity. What helps one helps all. The
Pas is the natural gateway to the opening-up of the mineral wealth of
the New, Old North.

Sitting in this Gate a long caravan of prospectors files past, carrying
in their packs “supplies” furnished by the local out-fitting stores.
Strangely enough, Pas stores are among the finest in Canada. It is
claimed that in them anything from a miner’s shovel to embroidery-silks
is in stock. These things, though commonplace on Yonge or Saint
Catherine’s Streets, become romantic, indeed, in this far Gateway to the
Great Northland; the more so when the woman who goes to the H.B.C. or
any of the other stores, for a hank of embroidery-silk or cerise or
art-blue horse-hair, put up especially for her use, is a light-stepping
Cree, whose habitat is across the river, but who roams the vast
stretches of the hinterlands as other women walk in their gardens. The
Crees are especially artistic. They take beads, embroidery silks and the
horsehairs in hand as other women take pen or brush. But their
embroidery is not wrought on cambric or linen, but on skin of moose or
caribou shot by their family hunters and cured and tanned or “smoked” by
their own hands.

The Factor will tell you that it is one of the interesting sights of the
Christmas Season at this northern town to see the young braves turn out
to the English Church, adorned in richly embroidered skin-gloves, edged
perhaps with a border of plucked-beaver, the gift of their fiancees.
Nevertheless, the Cree women still make their infants’ little beds of
reindeer moss, carefully washed and picked clear of all grit, and on the
road they still carry their babies in a tikanagan strapped to their
backs. The “tikanagan board” is often decorated by the mother in stains
of reds, blues and browns, and the reindeer-moss nest, on which the baby
reclines, is held in place by facings of smoked moose-hide neatly
thonged together. This cradle of the Cree-baby is always provided with a
handle, so that the mother, unstrapping the contrivance from her back,
can hang it up in some tree and be sure that the gentle swaying of the
bough by the breeze will keep her baby asleep, while she herself fishes
or cooks a meal for the rest of the family. This Cree mother and the
Japanese woman in the salmon factories of British Columbia have never
heard of one another, yet it is interesting to note that both strap
their babies on their backs while at work.

The Hudson Bay Railway crosses the Saskatchewan on one of the finest
steel bridges in Canada. It is some 850 feet in length and of ample
width for vehicles and pedestrians, as well as for the railroad. It is a
bridge of the most up-to-date type, yet the tikanagan sways from the
trees on either bank where this Colossus plants its feet as it bestrides
the river. And when the “Muskeg” thunders by, it is a signal for Eskimo
dogs in the yards of the Big Eddy Reserve to set up a howl of protest
against the invader of their transportation-copyright in the great
Northland.

To the old-order-of-life represented by the tikanagan and the dog-team,
belongs the canoe on the river. Come the “Muskeg”, come the “Tamarac”,
come the automobile, the steamboat, the barge, ore-or grain-laden, the
canoe holds its own on the river. Playing with the paddle is an
inheritance. As has been said “A canoe represents not only Cree but
Creed in this Northern-Gate.”

But the Pas has many sweet as well as strong touches. Surprise awaits
the traveller in the beautiful flowers in the gardens of Pas homes.
Flowers are always a surprise in the Northland, and when encountered
they have an especial appeal created by their very rarity.

On a bluff of the river-bank stands the historic old Church of England,
first church in these parts. Dropping in to matins here of a Sunday
morning is to find one’s self surrounded by the “atmosphere” that is the
Northland’s Own. Here, the old pews, pulpit and reading-desk were carved
by men belonging to a Sir John Franklin Relief Expedition which wintered
in these parts and at Cumberland House, while they waited for the ice to
break up. Sitting in one of these old pews brings back to life all that
long stirring period of the Nation’s history involved in Arctic
Exploration. Sir John and Lady Franklin become personal to you sitting
here in a pew fashioned by the hands of men who adventured their lives
in noble effort to bring back news of England’s great Explorer.

The atmosphere of Arctic Exploration brought to life by the old pew,
appears mysteriously amplified and fulfilled in the Ten Commandments in
Cree on the right and left walls of the little Chancel. The Crees are
the children of that Northland into which the pew-carver ventured. Old
Chief Constant sits over there in the corner of one of these pews, the
Assomption belt, a gay dash of colour, about his portly waist,
attentively listening to the service, which is the tribal “Voice of
‘Mahneto’--The Great Spirit”.

In the wake of the church are the schools for the Crees. There is a
boarding-school at the Big Eddy under the management of Archdeacon
MacKay. The fine school building, with accommodation for eighty pupils,
was erected by the Government and opened in October, 1914. The Woman’s
Auxiliary of the Diocese of Ottawa furnished the parlor as a memorial to
their one-time Corresponding Secretary, Helen Josephine Fitzgerald. This
Body also built the pretty little stone church in the grounds; but the
fine hospital was the gift of the Government.

Archdeacon MacKay, the principal of this Indian School, is a Canadian
and an octogenarian, who has spent fifty-six years in Missionary work in
this North. The Archdeacon paddled us the five miles down the
Saskatchewan to The Pas in his canoe, with two of the Indian boys to
assist, as nonchalantly as any young man of twenty. All through his long
ministry, beginning between fifty and sixty years ago, he has been able
with the canoe’s aid, to carry the double Message of the Gospel and
Canada to a remote and savage people. He has lived to see The Pas become
the centre of the Northward-urge of Canadian life and development, now
so much a part of the national ambition.

On the North bank of the river, not more than halfway to the Big Eddy
boarding-school, is a little, whitewashed schoolhouse, which is kept by
a young Indian woman, a graduate of the Elkhorn School; and here all the
little local youngsters pursue “the Three R’s.” The school garden is
laid out in tiny beds; but the true atmosphere of the life is tellingly
indicated in the small bows-and-arrows which each little boy carries in
hand as he comes through the woods to the schoolhouse. The Cree is a
born hunter. These bows and arrows of childhood are, after all, but
stepping-stones like Readin’, ’Ritin’ and ’Rithmetic. It is as a
_hunter_ the Cree must make a living.

The Cree, having trapped the wary fox, or other furred animal, brings
the pelt to be smoked in the yard of the little homes that radiate in
the woods from the schoolhouse. In the smoking and curing the women take
the pelt in hand. A green and pliable branch is cut from a tree. The
skin is then turned under side out and stretched tightly over the green
and springy wood. The ears and legs are stuffed with hay. After the
process of stretching the skin, it is laid over a frame of sticks like
the ribs of a tepee, and a fire is made underneath and kept going with
half green wood to make plenty of smoke. The Indian woman keeps turning
the skin from time to time so that all parts are evenly cured, and,
every once in a while, the man comes out and takes a look, fingering the
skin, and then, when it is pretty well cured an old man or old woman,
grandfather or grandmother, a living manual of pelts, comes out, and
grunts a last opinion. Thus is cured the pelt, that, finding its way
from Cree hands to the fur-markets of the world, sooner or later graces
the shoulders of some lady of the land.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

BRITISH COLUMBIA.

_No greater contrast...._

[Illustration:

A MADONNA OF THE KOOTENAYS.]

[Illustration:

DRAWING WATER
FROM THE COLUMBIA.]


No greater contrast can be afforded by Nature than that between level
Prairie and the Rocky Mountains. It is at the moment of the change from
one to the other that one realizes _both_ are Characters, each separate,
individual and eternal. Here, as the train swings along by the banks of
the Bow River, one looks up to those towering peaks, their gray and aged
cheeks flushed with the wine of the air into perpetual youth, the
Character that is Nature dominating all others. One cannot think of
those peaks as still and dead matter only. They must be alive! There is
the sharpness of the Craig, the smoothness of the scumbled bloom upon
it, head after head against that faultless blue that one has hitherto
thought of as exclusively Italian. But there it is--Capri inverted.

And so one comes to Banff, or drops down at Lake Louise, or bestrides a
pony to the Valley of the Ten Peaks, or watches the Mountain Goat a
riotous snowflake against the blue sky or wanders at the end of a rope
about the face of the Great Glacier and, doing these things, feels it
good just to be alive. That must surely have been the thought behind the
preservation of this section of the Rockies as a national playground in
perpetuity when it was reserved by the Dominion Government as a great
Park.

But British Columbia, in addition to being a land of Mountains, is also
a land of large tumbling rivers and fingerlike lakes pushing out into
the fruitful valleys. It was the West of early days that enriched the
language with that word “Trail”. British Columbia is the land of the
Trail. The Trail or mere thread-road of the early pioneer from the
Prairie to the Coast has now been completely metamorphosed into the
orderly double-track of the railroad; so that hardships have vanished
and, in their place, positive luxury attends a trip to the Pacific Coast
via the Canadian Rockies.

Yet there is more than enough of the “primeval” remaining to give sauce
to the voyage. Romance still clings to the Columbia and the Fraser
Rivers. The mere names of Sun-Dance Canyon, The Crow’s Nest, Glacier,
Jasper Park and a dozen others but faithfully record the existing charm
and atmosphere. They suggest, too, that these Ranges were once the
Hunting Grounds of Indians. Some old-timer says that these now have
headquarters “down about MacLeod”. Nevertheless the Indian still comes
back to the hot sulphur springs at Banff which it is quite probable he
knew and used long ages ago, before even the discovery of the American
Continent.

The Indian in British Columbia, like the Indian all through Canada, is
still a romantic figure of the atmospheric background. He is still and
always will be a page from the tome of the simple life, retiring before
the advance of that form of society which involves living indoors. He
still clings to the wigwam, to the canoe and to fishing and hunting for
a living. (Although, of course, even among the Indians there are many
notable exceptions and some of them carry on business and own fine homes
of their own).

Romance, however, clings to the blanket of the old-timer. The web of
fancy is not confined when a bend in the road reveals a group of Indians
spearing salmon from a flat rock, perilously over-hanging the swirling,
canyoned cauldron of the Fraser. There is something bizarre in the
simple arrangement of the bleached wooden poles whereon their salmon
swings a-drying in the wind. One feels that if anyone knows the secrets
of the great Ranges, the towering peaks, the vast stretches between the
Pacific and that faraway Northern mysterious Arctic, it is that man, a
ragged-spot-of-brown above the swift cascade; too steep for all
navigators except the salmon, madly daring every obstacle in efforts to
reach the very highest pools where her spawn will be safe. A well of
tradition is stored up in that old squaw’s head down there by the calmer
waters, cooking the evening meal where the spiral of blue smoke trails
upward.

These folk know the Nature-book of these parts by heart. For long
centuries there trails in these old hearts and minds a survival of the
fittest in picture. And that is all there is in history and Tradition
... a series of pictures, a few outstanding facts and figures. Time in
the aggregate is like that. As a Figure, the Indian is a Synopsis.

The land embraced by British Columbia is elemental--big. Every form of
it, rivers, peaks, lakes and valley, is grand in the sense of bigness.
It is a land of big trees, big mines, big ranches, big outlook. And the
big outlook not only glances Eastward across a Continent, but wings its
way outward across the Pacific with its ships touching the shores of
Asia and Australia.

The co-relation of interests between those most widely separated of
Canadian Provinces, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, has been
strikingly increased by the prominence acquired by the Pacific since
1914. Canada has now a _Pacific_ Maritime Province as well as the
Atlantic group which for so long has held exclusive rights to the term.
But the craft of the Pacific coast are laid down on different lines from
those of the East. Nova Scotia started with sails and she still stands
by the halyards of Banker and Coaster. Vancouver came into the race at a
later date. Steam, now oil-burners, and the Panama Canal, have opened
her way to European as well as Oriental ports. Truly the Canadian Trader
is a big ship!

But British Columbia has its little ’longshore boats too. And the
Westerner, with Cowboy breeziness, looks upon these half-indulgently and
dubs them the “mosquito fleet”. In this lesser fleet are found the
halibut-fisherman and the whaler, cruising, the one, many hundred miles
out in the Pacific; and the other off the Queen Charlotte Islands or
along the Alaskan shore, in fact anywhere a skipper deems he can raise
the cry of “Thar she blows” from the lookout. A whaler out of the
Pacific ports is a steamer with mechanical devices and bombs for killing
and inflating the whale at once, so that the carcase floats and can be
brought in to market. Her counterpart in Newfoundland and the Gulf of
Saint Lawrence is the sturdy old “sealer”; but what a difference in
model! The Sealer is old. But with her staunch, wooden timbers and
planks and roomy deck, with a “crow’s-nest” for the lookout, her
ocean-wisdom for seals, is every bit as keen, as the Westerner’s for
oil.

In British Columbia great stress is laid on the proper “smoking” of fish
and delicious indeed is the flavour attained by the Western process. A
range of characteristic atmosphere follows in the long trail of “smoked”
salmon and herring. Scotch lassies have come out from fishing-towns of
Old Scotland to give the proper “Scotch Cure” to the Pacific bloater in
the curing houses at Vancouver. It is a far cry from these girls, and
the big plant, with its chill-rooms for freezing the halibut, the latter
with its own private car to Boston, to the old Indian woman, who has her
little “smokehouse” on the shingle at Alert Bay and trusses up her
salmon on splints in the shadow of the wet piles of some old
boat-landing.

These are sea-pictures and pictures of ’longshore life. British Columbia
in its valleys is a land of farms. It raises its own famous apples
around its lakes, as Nova Scotia brings Bellefleurs and other beauties
to perfection, round the Bay of Fundy. Okanagan, Arrowhead, Kootenay,
all have their ranches with their acres of meadow, bench-lands and
climbing fields. And here, on these Ranches beside the Lake, backed by
mountains from whose peaks the snow never melts, are perched the homes
of the ranchers.

Each of these homes presents its own epic, each family tracing it to the
chosen spot from somewhere in Eastern Canada--Nova Scotia, Quebec or
Ontario--or coming here to this Alpine region of the Dominion from
somewhere over-seas, the British Islands, France, and indeed, all other
countries of Old Europe, even reaching a finger into Asia at India and
Japan. Truly the human-interest element of British Columbia is as big as
its outlook.

Each little homestead and ranch stands for a family uprooted from old
associations, whether Eastern Canadian, British or Foreign, transplanted
here to the West, on the edge of things; but now--within the past ten
years--coming to a consciousness of itself as no longer on the edge of
wilderness and remoteness, separated from its fellows of the East by the
great barrier of the Mountains, but a part of the beautiful curve of the
World-circumference of the British Empire. Each little log-cabin in its
forest or surroundings of stump-land (and the big trees of British
Columbia make an endless number of big stumps) is a stake in the land.
Practically it represents the bombardment of the black and unfriendly
wilderness with a home and a family--the best ammunition in the world
for the pioneer.

There is a long list of miniature cities and little towns, with a hotel,
a bank, a couple of grocery shops, a butcher, a drug-store with week-old
newspapers from Winnipeg or Calgary, yesterday’s Vancouver Sheets and
the Newspaper from the nearest Over-the-Border large city; all these
business places with large single-pane show-windows, in utter contrast
to the little old-fashioned shop-windows of the small towns and villages
of rural Quebec. The arrival and departure of trains once or twice a day
is a thing as personal as the letter which comes into the hand of the
butcher, the banker, the druggist, from that same adventuring train that
kicks the level dust of the Prairie miles behind it, with the ease of a
thoroughbred, and climbs the gorges, the canyons and the steeps of the
passes, and enters the black mysteries of the long tunnels as
nonchalantly as a cowboy, hand on hip, sits astride his pony.

These little towns may be rather dull, with a society only partly
stirred into life by an occasional Movie, but there is always more than
appears on the surface, since, behind them somewhere out there in the
miles, threaded up sometimes by mere trails, are the little homes of the
ranchers converting the soil to agriculture, “making land”--a curious
phrase--where every ranch is a stage of dramatic action, and every
little simple act of everyday life takes on heroic proportions from the
very closeness of success or disaster constantly stalking the adventure
on which the rancher has staked his all.



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE DOUKHOBORS: A COMMUNITY RACE IN CANADA.

_In the Russian Doukhobor...._

[Illustration:

IN A COMMUNITY DOOR YARD.]

[Illustration:

DOUKHOBOR WOMEN WINNOWING.]


In the Russian Doukhobor settlements of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and
British Columbia, the Canadian West houses the Community-life of a
curious religious sect. Through them it may be said that Canada is
perhaps the only country in the world outside Russia having a very
intimate living, human-interest acquaintance with the Slav on the
land--the only country presenting an opportunity to study him in his
daily life. And what pictures this life does make! Not even Old Russia
has just such pictures, for although the Doukhobor is Russian the
religion of these peasants in British Columbia gives them a certain
distinction and grace of their own, shearing the elements of coarseness
from even ordinarily coarse work. Indeed a rare dignity attends the
individual Doukhobor as it attends the transaction of all work and all
business involving the people of one “village” with those of another.

As religion is the foundation on which the very existence of these
people is laid; as it was religion which brought them into existence as
a separate people; as it was the source of all their difficulties with
the government of the Czars, and as it was the immediate motive which
brought them to Canada--“the Promised Land”--some twenty years ago, it
is necessary here very briefly to touch upon the chief item of the
Doukhobor Faith. And this can best be done by giving an example.

Romance seems to have reached idealism indeed when one of these peasants
here on the uplands of a British Columbia valley meeting another on the
highway, lifts his hat and makes a ceremonial bow--a bow arresting and
almost Eastern in its slow dignity. The habitant of Quebec is hardly so
solemn in making his obeisance to the roadside calvary. Yet these men
are in a hurry, too. Work presses.

Questioning them as to this ceremonial greeting brought out the fact
that the Doukhobor believes first of all that Jesus is actually a living
presence, alive in every human being! All other articles of the Faith it
appears are merely the natural sequence of this condition. One man bows
to the Christ-spirit in the other, rather than to the man himself. He
bows in reality exactly as the habitant, man or boy does--to the
beautiful thing that is symbolized by the roadside Cross. Life is a
Universal brotherhood, to the Doukhobor--hence the Community idea in
which all share alike. Peasants often lay hold of many elemental facts
and ideas of religion and holy things as to which other people are, for
some reason, more timid. There is the world-famous example of the
peasant rendering of the “Passion”, at Oberamergau.

The Doukhobor talks about Jesus with the sweet simplicity of a child. A
swift shade of surprise, as quickly gone, flits across the gentle face
of any of them that you question as to how they get along without such
institutions as poor-houses, old peoples’ homes, asylums, jails, etc.
They tell you the idea of “the Spirit of Jesus in all men”, simply
lived, prevents all the sins of the Decalogue and so renders these
institutions unnecessary. For this reason, they explain, they object to
military service because they believe that in killing a man they are
killing Jesus. They go even further, claiming that even the taking of
animal life for food is contrary to the spirit of God, and therefore
sinful; so that they are vegetarian not because they think vegetables
more wholesome, but because they know meat and fish can only be achieved
by the destruction of a life. In this matter their belief is carried out
to the letter. Some of the old folk even now find it difficult to kill
flies. And it was only after a long time and many inroads on the
precious grain that they could be induced to kill rats and gophers.

Legally the Doukhobors have now exchanged the name “Doukhobor” for a
name in English. They call themselves in all business dealings “The
Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood Ltd.” “Doukhobor” is,
strictly speaking, their religious name, only.

Neighbours however will always call them “The Douks.” Brilliant, Grand
Forks and Verigen, their three outstanding settlements, are worth in the
neighbourhood of five million dollars; and approximately eight to ten
thousand persons abide in these settlements,--the largest successful
“Community” settlement in the world. Its success, as against many
another attempt at Utopia that has failed, is undoubtedly due to the
fact that it is founded on a basis of simple religious faith rather than
either a colonization scheme or a business trust.

In the settlements, the houses are set up in groups of twos. Local wit
aptly calls these “the twins”. The Doukhobors themselves call these
groups “villages”. Each village contains anywhere from thirty to fifty
people who are apportioned a certain amount of land for culture. The
women in these villages take a hand in all work, at home and in the
fields.

Stepping through the big Russian gateway into one of the yards, or all
of them, reveals an almost interminable series of tableaux of heroic
significance. Women with sieves in hand play them, full of seed, millet,
etc., above their heads as dancing-girls the tambourine, in an effort to
scatter the chaff on the breeze. Under their feet tarpaulin is spread to
receive the grain or the seeds. From some doorway an old woman appears,
with a broom of dried twigs, and brushes up a circle or a corner whereon
to lay a mat. Laying aside the broom, she disappears around some corner
to return with voluminous apron stuffed with beans in the pod. Sitting
down on the mat she begins to belabour the beans with a billet of wood.
Thus the shelling is accomplished. Two women appear carrying a plank
between them. Presently they come again with a tub of apples already
cut, and these they carefully spread to dry on the plank already
brought. A mother appears out of a door, plotok on her head, a cup in
hand, and begins to feed from the cup a little boy, with bread-and-milk,
in which there is a dash of mustard. Other women are picking over
tomatoes on the porch-floor. The cook for the week appears in the
doorway of the great community-kitchen, seeking a momentary rest for her
eyes, so long centred on her pots and pans with their contents, in the
life and scenes going on in the yard. In the sun an old grandfather
warms himself as he amuses his old age with making wooden spoons. Over
there, two boys with their heads together are making a pair of
nut-crackers by hammering two long wire nails into shape. Everywhere,
there are flowers.

When the tasks in the yard are completed the women repair to the fields;
or, on other days the field work comes first.

Here is a group of women in a field of sunflowers, some passing from
plant to plant plucking the seed-discs into their aprons and carrying
them to a group of women and children sitting about a big mat. This
scene resembles some religious festival, the women and girls with white
plotoks on their heads and sticks in their hands beating, on the reverse
side of the seed-plate and the seeds falling, like a rain, in a drift on
the old tarpaulin.

Sunflower seeds are the peanuts of this people, unaccustomed, as they
are, to candy. Shy children met on the highways, overcoming their
shyness, and falling into step by your side, offer you little handfuls
of sunflower-seeds drawn from their stuffed pockets. And when men or
women go on long journeys afoot they always take with them a supply of
these seeds to munch by the way. As one chats with the sunflower
harvesters, the bright figures of the clover-seed gatherers flit in the
upland-climbing clover fields; and among the leafy green on the
mile-stretching orchards of plum, apple and peach are to be seen the
carts, the pickers and the boxers all working together like bees in a
hive.

Everywhere children accompany their elders, naturally imitating with
their tiny fingers the tasks of the larger hand. Thus, quite easily, the
children learn, and, learning, look upon work as pleasurable. A
Doukhobor child is seldom or never told to do any especial task. They
simply fall in, of their own accord. The Douks are very gentle with
their children and a child is as free to speak, and is listened to with
as much courtesy, as an elder. This applies in “church” as well as in
the daily life.

The flowers growing everywhere in the dooryards and in every little
pocket of soil here and there on the edges of the orchards and flanking
the vegetable gardens, are explained, when one happens on the bee-hives
in some sheltered nook of more or less every “village”. The Doukhobors
place honey on the market and it is a stand-by on the home tables.

The interior of the “twins” presents no fewer pictures than the yards
and the fields. The kitchen and the living room occupy all of the
ground-floor. The kitchen is always a large room. In the middle of it
stands an enormous brick oven wherein are baked innumerable loaves of
brown bread. These loaves are always round and, for size, put to shame
the “big loaf” of Quebec. After the bread is done, the pans are lined
with straw, and, filled with fruit, are replaced in the cavernous mouth
till the oven is full. Thus pears and apples are dried for the
home-table. The dining-table is a long board resembling a giant
carpenter’s bench and painted an art-red, standing across one end of the
big room. Long benches serve the big table in lieu of chairs.

The chief stand-by on the Doukhobor menu, as seems to be the custom with
peasants everywhere, is soup. In this respect one is carried back to the
habitant table of Quebec. But here the soup is solely vegetable, fat
being supplied by butter which makes this Russian _borsch_ more delicate
in flavour than _la soupe_ of the habitant. Butter is the one Doukhobor
extravagance.

Pancakes, with jam or honey, boiled millet-and-butter, sliced cucumbers,
tomatoes, onions, big slices of the Russian brown bread,

[Illustration:

DOMESTICITY.]

all sorts of vegetable pies, beets, carrots, cheese, little triangles
blanketed in a pastry of millet or a mixture of brown flour and white,
make up one of these vegetable meals, all being completed by unlimited
draughts of Russian tea sweetened and flavoured with raspberry or
black-currant jam. The women take turns at the cooking, a week at a
time, and as there are usually six or seven women in each village, no
woman is worn-out at the stove, but each has a six-week interval before
the wheel of time brings her turn round again.

In this time her spare moments are filled with knitting, making rugs for
her room, spinning and weaving, and embroidering her own or her
children’s plotoks or kerchiefs. The Doukhobor women are especially
clever at all work of this kind, showing exquisite taste in the
selection and blending of colours in their rug-making. Occasionally one
of the older women brings out to show you, a Turkish rug which she wove,
in conjunction with a Turkish woman, at the time, when, by the Czar’s
decree they were banished to the wild parts of Southern Russia bordering
on Turkey; in the hope, perhaps, that the Turks would put them to the
sword. Instead, it seems the women of each side took to making rugs
together.

In the threshing of straw into a fine powder, to help-out in feeding
horses and cattle, a peculiar kind of instrument is used, consisting of
a board, its under-side teethed with sharp stones. This instrument the
Doukhobor men tell you they learned how to make from the Turkish men, so
it is evident that the men of both sides fraternized, as well as the
women. It seems strange indeed to happen on these things in Western
Canada, until we remember that Romance knows no political or racial
boundaries; that there is a great sisterhood in spinning and weaving, in
embroidery, in rug-making, and in home-making everywhere.

No phase of this Community life is more Russian or Tolstoyan in
appearance than the great threshing-floor, in the centre of the
Settlement, at Brilliant, B.C.

The action of threshing is like that of a chariot-race, with the driver
on board the drags, and the horses racing in pairs, one behind the
other, round and round the large, circular earthen floor, in which the
dust of the flying chaff arises and half conceals horse and driver,
passing in a whirl. Ten minutes of this and the man in charge signals a
halt. Each horse is then given a bucket of water and a new driver takes
the place of the old. These drivers are usually mere boys, entering
into the race with all a boy’s excitement in the sport.

While the horses are resting, the older men come out with pitchforks
made from forked branches cut in the woods, and shake up the chaff, the
heavier wheat falling to the bottom. After the race has gone on for
several hours or until all the grain has escaped from its tiny
straw-sack, these men pitch the chaff to one side, and the wheat is
swept up and carried off in the big carts, to store in the
community-granary till it goes to mill.

[Illustration:

PULLING FLAX.]

[Illustration:

WASHING FLAX IN THE COLUMBIA.]



CHAPTER XXX.

DOUKHOBORS: A COMMUNITY RACE--Continued.

_Early in the morning...._


Early in the morning of a Sunday when daylight still leaves the shadows
deep under the fruit-trees in the orchard, and the grass is wet and the
air full of the dewy freshness that only melts with the sun, the
Doukhobors may be seen--a figure or two at a time--stepping lightly
under the apple-trees, clad in their homespun suits of bleached linen,
the men in their Russian blouses and bareheaded, the women in full
skirts, and tight “bodies” with snowy plotoks on their heads, all
barefooted, all converging upon the church. Inside, gravely bowing, the
men range down one side of the empty room and the women line up on the
other. In the centre of the aisle between, stands a table always
supplied with a little dish of salt, a loaf of bread, and a jug of
water, the three elements that are the Trinity of life. In season, these
three simple elements are supplemented by offerings of a plate of the
most perfect specimens of tomatoes, a plate of the finest peaches,
another of the largest plums, a fullgrown watermelon, and a bunch of
asters. This dash of colour against the simple purity of the white linen
suits of the congregation is indeed effective.

The Doukhobors are very fond of singing, and this carries one back to
the daily life in the “villages”. For at almost every meal the
Doukhobors, in addition to saying a solemn “grace”, end the meal with
the singing of old religious chants. At the evening meal in particular
the singing is never omitted. It is worth while going among these people
just to listen to this sweet community part-singing gathering in volume
as it goes rolling through the miles of the “Valley of Consolation”
caught up from village to village, and borne away on the romantic wings
of the dusk enfolding the mountains, the rushing river and the orchards.

The garments of linen worn as the ceremonial dress at these early Sunday
morning services, are the offering upon the altar, as it were, of the
epic of flax. The Doukhobor women though “Doukhobor” in religion are
Russians in their knowledge of flax. This knowledge is their own special
contribution to Canada. Other wheat-wizards there are, other masters of
mixed-farming, other specialists in stock, others who would find them
children at the fishing. Perhaps no Doukhobor has ever been a sailor,
(because this is a strictly earth-loving people) but nowhere else in
Canada is the complete story of flax, from the seed to wearing of the
woven linen, to be come upon, without moving outside a settlement! Flax
knowledge is the Doukhobors’ gift to Canada but up to this time,
apparently, there has been no attempt to employ these people as
Flax-teachers.

In the fields at Verigen one comes upon the figure of a woman stooping
over and seizing in her strong hands a full handful of the tall plants.
These she pulls and ties with a twist of green into a sheaf. “Flax must
be pulled”, she tells you. In response to inquiry as to the quality and
length of the fibre in this Canadian flax, she raises herself to rest
awhile, and drawing a wisp through her fingers says half-reminiscently
“Oh, good, vera good. Vera long fibre.”

The British Columbia woman “rets” her flax in the river. And she keeps
the swift current from running away with her precious plants, by
weighing them down with the rounded river-stones, the smoothed product
of the ice-age. These smooth stones serve the Indian-woman as pestles
for the stump-mortar wherein she grinds her corn, and this Russian woman
turns them to service for anchoring her flax, as though they were made
to order. A week or ten days and the flax, now clear of all wood-fibre,
is given the final washing and then carried up the steep bank of the
river to sway in the wind, the while it dries on some “village”
clothes-line. After this it comes into the hands of the heckler and the
spinner, in every odd moment between drying fruit, picking beans,
winnowing seeds, gathering aprons full of ripened millet and the
thousand and one tasks the hand finds to do on these almost
self-supporting farms.

The spinning-wheel is as common in every household here as in Quebec.
Indeed, in the big yards, one often happens on several women at their
wheels, while indoors, other women are sitting at the big handmade loom
that their husbands have concocted of the B. C. cedar log. The Russian
flax-wheel appears smaller than the wheel of _de laine_ in Quebec. But
its whirr and blurr of action is no less musical and rapid, and its
measure of spun thread as long. The only difference between the spinners
of the East and West is that the Russian woman spins flax and her
habitant sister--wool.

The Doukhobor woman is also a spinner of wool but as yet the keeping of
sheep on the Doukheries is in its infancy.

The Russian woman’s flax-wheel is light so that she can easily take it
under her arm, spinning here or there, as she wishes, indoor or out. In
the heat of the midsummer day, when work in the fields is only pursued
early in the morning or in the late afternoon, you find her spinning in
her bedroom or on the porch. Or she sits out of doors among the flowers
abloom in her dooryard enjoying the blossoms and the shade thrown by
peach-trees--laden boughs bending, a symphony in fruit, to lay
themselves across the heart of their Earth-mother. Indoors, the blur of
the flying shuttle hums a minor accompaniment to the song of the bees
busily planing from flower to flower, gathering up the nectar, that, as
honey, is later to come to home tables. Then some morning the bolt of
linen is finished, the linen that will, with ordinary care, long outlive
the women whose industry has brought it into being.

[Illustration:

CLOSE OF THE SEASON.]

[Illustration:

CHRYSANTHEMUMS A-BLOOM
BY A STEVESTON DOOR WAY.]



CHAPTER XXXI.

STEVESTON.

_Boom! Um-mmm-m!..._


Every Sunday evening at six o’clock during the salmon-run, the signal
gun that marks the beginning of another fishing-week rings out upon the
evening air of Steveston the capital of the British Columbia salmon
fisheries at the mouth of the great Fraser River. Not a net passes over
any gunwale of the hundred odd motorboats that for the past hour have
been jockeying up-and-down picking up the great river’s signals-of-fish
and the way they “set”, until the crack of the official gun rings out
over the water. The moment, however, that this is heard, over go the
great seines, imported here from Old Scotland for just this dramatic
instant, entrants in the great race, boat against boat, and _all_ in
league, against salmon.

Of all the stories of animal-life, none is more wonderful or pathetic,
than the story which the salmon of the Fraser have given to Canada. From
out the deep-sea they come by tens of thousands, crowding, pushing,
over-leaping each other, a silvery mass of fighting-mad mothers, trying
to start their off-spring on the perilous road of fish-life, somewhere
in a pool, high up in the mountains out of harm’s way; and here across
the river, near its mouth, is this line of boats and their submerged
nets lying in wait, while on the river’s bank in league with the boats
are the huge canning factories, like so many Molochs open-mouthed,
waiting to swallow to-day’s catch and to-morrow’s, as they have snapped
up those of the years gone by.

One has not spent an hour on this waterfront before story and romance
have flitted across the stage in almost confusing numbers. Each figure
in the vaudeville of fish, a flashing mosaic, stepped out of the Far
East to serve this river of the Far West. For the Japs are the servitors
of Salmon at Steveston. Out of the Islands of Nippon have come these
fishermen, to serve in the ranks of Fraser salmon-fishing, men with
wives and little families, caught in the net of circumstance and landed
far from home, to work here where the snow-capped Mount McKinley, over
in the State of Washington, gleams an intermittent nimbus of light above
the foggy head-veil of distance, suggesting, like a lighted candle on
the altar of remembrance, all the sweet associations and memories
clinging to the snow-capped brow of Fujiyama.

Here in the boats are the nets, all the way from the hand of the old
net-maker in Scotland, and here the hands handling the nets come from
the other side of the world to bring Canadian salmon to the tables of
the home-land and to carry the overflow to the tables of the world. For
when one comes to think of it, there must indeed be few, if any lands,
that do not know Canadian salmon, and few undertakings calling for a
ration of canned-food which do not depend on canned-salmon to hold up
the fish-end.

These up-to-date motorboats, so broad in the waist to hold the net and
the fish-cargo, bear in their rounded bows striking psychological
resemblance in quaint twist of line to the old Saint Malo fishboats
riding in the anchorage sentried off Cape Barrie at Percé, while at the
same moment in that blunt blow, there is suggestion both of the tripping
old canal-barge of the Richelieu and of the craft of the Yang-tse, so
that one involuntarily murmurs “Sampans of Salmon”. So too, in the lower
river-silt bank platformed by rough planks and water-soaked piles, there
is both touch of Fundy and whiff of Asiatic Deltas.

The little wooden shack homes of these Japanese fisher folk of Steveston
are raised above flood-danger on wooden platforms and set about with
wooden yards, fronted by clear-running canals crossed by foot bridges of
wide plank.

Who can screen a picture of Japan without a bridge, or of a Japanese
home, however homely, but its poverty is beatified by masses of flowers?
So, here against the unpainted walls, set about on the floor of the
wooden yard, are buckets and tubs of Chrysanthemums a-bloom,
Japan-transplanted. And do the flowers stop at the bucket or the box?
Not at all. Marigolds and cornflowers and candytuft and many others
under the loving hand of the Jap-mother, are coaxed out of every crevice
of river-silt staved-up by any old bit of wood. Vines set near the edge
of the tiny canals trail tendril fingers to touch the water. And the
little bridges are so invaded by pots of bloom that the man of the
family must surely object to the narrow gangway allowed him to and from
his boats, did he not love flowers as keenly as his little
Flower-of-Japan wife.

Passing to and fro here and in the salmon-factories one begins to
realize that the Japanese women share the work on the fish with the men.
One might even call these little women “the ’longshoremen of Salmon” as
they stand at the tables,--groaning under the weight of sockeye and its
lesser brethren--their babies tied to their backs with a soft shawl, in
the same way that the Cree mother carries her baby in a tikanagan. Many
a lullaby is crooned while the skilful brown fingers place the juicy
steaks in the little flat tins. The gentle rocking of the mother’s
swaying figure sends the baby to sleep more effectively than any cradle.
And the mother and her baby are together through the long day of toil.

As one steps along the factory-floors between the long rows of women,
figures just made by Nature for the kimona and the smooth shiny
ebon-elegance of the Japanese coiffure, these plump little women with
their brown-eyed babies on their backs are indeed a picturesque
contribution to the _genre_ appearing on the vast stage from Atlantic to
Pacific that is--the Dominion. Nor is canning the fish the limit of the
Japanese woman’s usefulness. Not all of them work in the factories.
Figures of the wharf-side and of the platform-yards by the flowering
banks of the canals are the great seines a-drying. And while one sees
men, sitting about in the sun, netting-needle in hand, mending these
nets, just as frequently one happens on some strong Japanese woman, long
knife in hand, cutting away the large wooden floats, against the net’s
being laid away at the close of the season, her baby, released from the
back cradle-perambulator, playing at her side.



CHAPTER XXXII.

THE INDIANS OF ALERT BAY.

_Although situated directly_....


Although situated directly on the Alaskan coastal highway, with a
constant stream of large freight and passenger steamers calling at the
cannery pier or dropping anchor in its fine harbour, Alert Bay is a spot
haunted by the spirit of the untamed, full of those powerful
undercurrents that thrive on the edge of the wilderness. It is
altogether mysterious and bizarre.

Part of this spirit is due to the wildness of nature hereabouts, to the
high-reaching mountains, the low-hanging, encircling mists, the dark
woods, and, in the rainy season, the general atmospheric wetness
clinging to the nearer distances; but specifically it is due to other
things, things which the natural setting helps to accentuate and for
which it forms a splendidly effective stage. Merely to mention Alert Bay
is to think of Indians. For this little trading-post, now grown to prime
importance as a Pacific coast port-of-call, has filled a high place in
coastal Indian life from time immemorial.

Just how long the Indians have had homes or congregated at Alert Bay no
one knows, not even they themselves. But as far back as their traditions
go, this particular spot on the coast has been a gathering-place
focussing all the events of tribal life in peace and war. Time,
therefore, has vested Alert Bay with all the importance of a capital and
hallowed it to the red men all up and down the coast. Far within the
Arctic Circle, away off on the shores of Queen Charlotte Islands, the
aboriginals look to Alert for guidance in many things and in ways that
are a mystery to us.

Building on established foundations, Alert Bay is now an Indian
reservation, with an Indian agent and government school. For upward of a
score of years a Church of England, established here with a resident
rector, has maintained two boarding-schools--one for Indian boys and the
other for Indian girls. But despite all these civilizing influences,
there still obtains in the village the mysterious philosophy of life
embodied in the community-house without windows, the open wood-fire in
the middle of the floor and the hole in the roof for escaping smoke.
There still remain the picturesque dugout or _kayak_, totem poles, big
and little; tree burials, potlatches, including wild orgies, and a host
of other curious customs that lend colour and weave a motif of
weirdness into all the life hereabouts.

A curving beach and a boardwalk above the swishing waves following the
bend of the beach, form what might elsewhere be termed “The Avenue of
the Totem”. These totems, or “family trees”, the chief attraction of
visitors to Alert Bay, are curiosities indeed! British Columbia giant
trees sculptured by some old redskin into heraldic insignia of tribe and
family, dealing mostly with leviathans that dwarf “our family trees” to
nothing by comparison.

Crude? Yes, and no. The writing is a little unformed, perhaps, but the
_tale_ itself, one of the most perfect bits of symbol the world
contains.

Whales, bears, giant kingfishers, thunderbirds and fish tell the
life-history of the primitive ancestor, sitting astride the giant
sulphur-bottom, harpoon in hand, with a pictorial accuracy and vim that
far exceed the ordinary printed page having to do with early times. It
must be remembered, too, that the early Indians did not know how to
write in any form but that of carving and colour, so that the men who at
different times carved these totems were not only artists of a kind, but
_historians_, limning history--valuable Canadian history--upon the heart
of the giant British Columbia cedar, to the end that all ages may read
what happened in these parts when the world was young.

As family history, in this peerage of the race, there are doubtless many
errors. Details are probably exaggerated to reveal personal prowess to
greater advantage. The teeth of the bear are very large, the whale is a
perfect giant and rapid in movement as was no whale before or since, so
that the forbear who leapt astride the giant back, from the _kayak_,
harpoon in hand, was a veritable master among Indians--a hero of heroes.
All of which everyone admits to be legitimate poetic licence in the
totem-maker and wisely calculated to whet the edge of the most callous
imagination. But although the place of the whale is great and the lure
of him, even at this distance in time, well-nigh impossible to resist,
since through the length and breadth of him a wicked spirit seems to
look at you through the mist, out of very spirited eyes fairly dancing
with mischief, still it is the “Thunder-bird” who is the reigning spirit
of these totems, swaying the imagination of the tribe far more than the
whale, or the bear, who is here depicted holding against his great hairy
breast the sacred “copper” emblem of “Chieftaincy” to this day. Even to
uninitiated eyes there is a magic weirdness in the very look of the
“Thunder-bird”. Its beak resembles somewhat the prows of two _kayaks_
inverted one above the other. The bow of the lower, forming the under
half of the beak, is hinged and allowed to drop open on state occasions.
At the time of the potlatch, by dint of much writhing and wriggling, the
“braves” make their entrance to the house of entertainment through the
“Thunder-bird’s” open mouth. It requires but little imagination to see
how this beak might be converted into a diabolical trap. Indeed, there
is a story common in Alert Bay that at one time a tribe of enemies were
invited to “potlatch” and treacherously slain, a man at a time, as they
entered the house through the beak, the arrangement being such that no
Indian on the outside knew what was happening till he received his death
wound. The entire number of guests was thus wiped out.

Standing before the bird, mystery shrouding the crude mechanism, you
feel that it was designed for some such _coup d’etat_ as the one cited.
It is so simple and so subtle withal. Every time you see an Indian pass
it, stolid and reserved, he seems to glance that way with satisfaction,
proud that here among his people should be a device that holds the
interest of the _white_ man, to the extent of repeated visits, if his
stay in the neighbourhood be for long. The times assure us that the
treacherous “feast-of-blood” will never be repeated. Yet the potlatch
survives and who, even of the Indians, knows if the diabolical spirit of
the bird is dead?

It is not altogether the natural scenery that makes the mystery and
charm for the visitor to Alert Bay, but rather those unfathomable,
sometimes intangible things, which having no articulate voice yet speak
with marvellous power to every generation, and I suppose _have_ so
spoken since the dawn of time. One day as we were looking the
“Thunder-bird” in the eye, trying to read his secret, a group of little
Indian boys played nearby with their bows and arrows. Presently another
lad came out of a “community house” with his family coffee-pot, which he
set up on a post for a target. Soon the twang of the bow-strings and the
tinkle of the falling coffee-pot spoke eloquently of the quality of the
youngster’s markmanship. Over against the sea-edge of the board-walk a
group of men and fat _kloochmans_ (squaws) squatted on logs, watching
the tableau and giving a deep, satisfied grunt every time the
coffee-pot was shot from its perch. To the Indian--whose ancestors
fought the giant sulphur-bottom, single-handed, on his own ground, and
invented the Thunder-bird’s wily beak to trap the foe--skill in the use
of the bow and arrow even to-day is of far more value than any
coffee-pot ever made! At least the Indian mind is not _hampered_ by
little things! Marksmanship is still the perfection of acquirements to
him. All his training hitherto has been along such lines. It is in his
blood. But in these days, he turns his skill to different ends. He is
broad and big in his conception of nationality now, where formerly it
was the “tribe” that was the biggest concept of his days. To-day the
Alert Bay Indian almost reverences the privileges of nationality! The
British flag means so big a thing to him that when at death he now
consents to be buried in the ground instead of being put far up in one
of the giant trees in some old box or trunk much too short for his six
feet unless doubled up once or twice, he usually has one and sometimes
two or three handsome British flags set up over his grave on a pole or
an overhanging tree--a rich bit of colour among the dark green pines.
What faith in the flag and in its conquering ability to drive away evil
spirits! Day and night, year in and year out, above that lone grave in
the mists “the flag is still there”--waving above great painted whales,
giant kingfishers, yellow moths and other symbols of name and place.

In keeping with this loyal spirit is “the roll of honour” hanging on the
little English church door! An honour roll on which the names of red men
and white men commingle! Some of the volunteers have made “the supreme
sacrifice” “somewhere in France”, and are now taking their long sleep
under the poppies in Flanders; and “the flag is still there,” with its
deeper significance for the red man than ever before. For with his
life’s blood he has bought the right to add it, a new theme, to his
family totem.

A splendid work is being done among the Alert Bay Indians by both the
Government and the Church. The Indian agent here is a hardy Ontario
Scotsman, who understands the Indian and has won his confidence to a
splendid degree. “‘Tis true,” he himself assured us, “they still live in
the community-house. But I’m not sure,” he added with characteristic
Scotch humour, “but what the hole in the roof gives better ventilation
than the window in the pretty cottage that’s never opened.”

[Illustration:

THE FAMILY TREE OF THE
PACIFIC COAST INDIANS.]

[Illustration:

SPIRIT OF THE UNTAMED.]

The work of the minister and his assistant teachers in the boys’ school,
and the English women giving their lives to work among the girls, is
another fine medium for developing patriotism in the Indians here and to
the north. Indian children appear at these schools from “anywhere up
Arctic way” and on their arrival are frequently suffering from
troublesome diseases, of which they must be cured before anything can be
done for them from the teaching point of view. The kindness and skill of
the teacher in such cases does much to win the love and respect of whole
tribes whom she has never seen and probably never will. On the other
hand, the Indians have never seen her, but in their minds these teachers
belong to the flag--the big scarlet flag that they love, and that, is
enough.

The teacher in charge of the Indian Girls’ School at Alert is the oldest
daughter of an English colonel of the Imperial army, a man who, in his
prime, superintended the construction of one or two forts which in their
day were rated as “Keys of Empire”. She considers her life well spent
here and although she and her father are separated by vast distances,
they are united in the national service; and I take it the old colonel
is as proud of his daughter and her work as of his forts. Here at school
the future chiefs and braves and squaws of tribes-to-be learn to speak
the mother tongue--English, the language of the world--with passable
fluency, though, often coming from far-distant sections of the
Northland, they cannot understand or speak each other’s dialect--a fact
rather surprising to the casual visitor, who is apt to fall into the
error of thinking all Indians speak the same language.

Sunday at Alert Bay offers rare opportunities to the visitor. Dropping
in to church in the morning, it is indeed a novel service one happens
on, all the old familiar prayers and hymns in the strange tongue that
seems to express only k, w and a sounds! After church an incoming
steamer with passengers from the North offers a very satisfactory excuse
for a stroll along “Totem Avenue”, where Indians of all ages sit sunning
themselves, or are arriving and departing in family groups in the
_kayak_ to visit some distant settlement far up the Nimkish. The young
folk in their civilized and rather good, if somewhat bright-coloured
“Sunday bests”, are all down on the Cannery pier, seeing the crowd come
off the boat. The older women, not caring for such “modern proceedings”,
paddle off alone in _kayaks_ to gather driftwood from the opposite
shores of the bay; the shore-edge of the tree-cemetery being an
excellent “catch” for the “chips” that are the gift of the sea.

But it is the Indian of the week-day, the Indian going about his
business, that spells the most interest after all. A stroll along the
boardwalk then reveals sights that have to do with subjects of
world-wide interest--like food supplies and women at work. For it is the
Indian woman (_kloochman_) who does the work, as board-walk scenes so
frequently demonstrate. A group of squaws--bending low, heads
together--on the grass at the front door of a cottage are trussing up a
dozen juicy salmon between home-made frames of clean pine-sticks. A
little nearby shack, from every crevice of which an acrid smell
proceeds, proclaims the “smoke-house”. A proper fire is revealed every
time the crude door swings on its creaking hinge to admit another fish
to the council of its peers. A little farther along, an old squaw sits
crouched on a shawl on a float under the wet pier-head, cleaning,
opening and splitting salmon from a loaded _kayak_. Every now and then
talking to herself, she works away with a will, while you, looking on
from above, wish you understood enough of her guttural talk to tell
whether she herself was the Izaak Walton of this good catch or whether
it was her lord and master, who has walked off and left her all the
dirty work of preparing the fish while he squats on the bench in the
little summer house that forms part of the sea wall, and smokes.

Farther along the beach little smoke-houses sweat and smoke--veritable
volcanoes of the trade! For it is part of the life that every cottage
and community-house should smoke its own winter supply of salmon. In the
community-houses the fish is hung to smell and smoke anew over the
perpetual flame that burns on the open hearth in the middle of the
floor.

Such an odour of fish as greets the nostrils of a caller at the door of
one of these community-houses! It takes courage to cross that threshold,
and if in the middle of your call the _chef_ of one of the many
families, reaching aloft to the cross-pole from which the fish hangs,
brings down a piece to cook over the altar fire, the smells which went
before are as nothing to the vile odours now filling the room and
lifting themselves to heaven through the hole in the roof.

In the community-house no one seems to mind, but all squat around in the
semi-darkness and smoke, hugging knees and drawing on pipes, gazing in
meditative silence at some old fellow stirring a pot of boiling rice
perched in the elbow of the burning stump, with a wooden spoon,
blackened and polished with age, and of a pattern suggesting the
unearthed treasures of Thebes. Over at one side of the room, in a
compartment partitioned off by cracker-boxes and blowing curtains, and
all open on the side facing the fire, sits an aged woman, claiming to be
a hundred years at least, and how much older--who can tell?--weaving
pretty little baskets to sell to visitors from the boats. Despite her
great age, the old woman has all her faculties and is really an
interesting personality, dyeing some of the roots and straw and weaving
fancy patterns into her basketry. In the room on the opposite side of
the cracker-box partition, another woman kneels before a crude loom, on
which hangs a half-woven blanket. From out the gloom of distance the man
interested in the rice fetches an armful of sticks and under their
influence the fire leaps into a big blaze, revealing more compartments
in which women work, or sick children lie in bed looking wistfully at
the leaping fire. In some enclosures no one is at home, but outside on
the boardwalk in the dusk of the evening, wending our way homeward to
our room in the old Mission-house, we often met the squaws returning
from the woods, large hand-woven baskets of _scarlet_ huckleberries,
neatly covered with cool sprigs of evergreen, strapped to their backs by
hand-embroidered bands of wampum. Next morning little pats of drying
fruit, set breast-high on a clean pine board on a post between the sea
and the boardwalk, with a man’s hat and coat hung over them to scare off
the crows of which there are great numbers at Alert Bay, give one an
inkling that even the Indian woman has heard the echo of the “Preserve
or Perish” slogan of her more southern sisters and is doing her “bit”.

No one goes to Alert Bay and comes away without paying a visit to “Old
Kitty”--a rheumaticky old soul squatting on the floor of a tiny cabin
whose open door adjoins the boardwalk. Kitty _loves_ tobacco! Her heart
goes out to anyone bringing a present of the weed. Kitty also confirms
one’s faith in the Indian woman’s jam-making ability. Jars, bottles,
bowls, old cracked cups and mugs, old spoutless teapots, etc., all
overflowing with stewed fruit, stare at you from all directions. Tables
and chairs are not popular with the average Indian. Kitty, squatting on
the floor, pipe in mouth, has all her possessions scattered around her.
The jam-pots flank the little floor-bed, outline the rude little
pillows, are marshalled four-square against the mop-boards, and others
more timid or worse cracked than their fellows are propped up behind the
little old stove, itself dropping to pieces! Apparently Kitty is a happy
old soul, with a great capacity for jam. One is puzzled to know how she
gets sugar enough for it all, until one learns that she picks up a
living by mending socks and stockings--everybody’s in town, from the
minister’s down, at five cents a pair.

But Alert Bay food-producing and economy in food do not begin and end
with Indians. The white man here takes a big hand along these lines. The
salmon cannery collects fish for the home market and for shipment
abroad, from motor-boat and _kayak_ alike. The lumber-mill makes
fish-boxes for the Canadian Pacific coast and with its waste the great
mill warms the whole village without distinction of colour, setting free
much coal for use in other parts of the country where wood is not to be
had.

Wireless, too, does its share from its place on the top of the hill
above the totems, to keep open and safe the navigation up and down this
dangerous coast for the Alaskan ships carrying copper and fish.

For all emergencies there is a good-sized hospital. Here lumberjacks,
meeting with an accident in felling or handling the giant trees and
timber which are helping to give Canada a mercantile marine, are brought
for medical treatment and care.

Alert Bay on account of its situation is a meeting-place for all sorts
of interesting people. There is only one hotel and that, picturesquely
enough, is the old Mission-house, which with its huge timbered ceilings
and tales of early days and Indians would fill a book with sketches.
Here over the crackling fire roaring in the great chimney-place
“trail-beaters” for the woods, mines, or fisheries succeed each other in
endless procession, yarning of experiences, as they wait for a steamer
“up” or “down”. Here is Canadian history in the making--yarns that are
world-history, too. For men from this “company from the hinterlands” of
British Columbia and Alaska who sat here by the fire often enough in the
old days, have, many of them, travelled far since then, some never to
return.

Truly the currents and cross-currents, as well as undercurrents, of life
here are past finding out, and that is what lends atmosphere to this
niche in the coast. If it lacked these mysterious happenings and these
out-of-the-ordinary people, it would have no more charm than dozens of
other places one could name. Life is never dull here, where action is
the keynote and where extremes are always meeting. Alert Bay is an
outpost truly Canadian, truly British. Therefore one is not surprised
here, on stepping into the rectory drawing-room, to come upon a bit of
our social life at its best; the rector’s wife pouring tea for several
of the teachers--the doctor who has dropped in from the hospital, a
visiting minister and wife from the mainland, the cannery operator’s
bride, etc., with, over the teacups, the usual interesting talk.

A visit to the Indian agent’s attractive home, redolent of cosy comfort,
produces an equally good cup of tea and reminiscences of interest
connected with the Indians for the past quarter of a century. At the
Mission-house there’s a scholarly old Scotsman of the clan MacLean and
his wife “Becky”, always ready with a story and tea, and making a real
home at the old mission for men who are carving Canada’s fortunes out of
the northern wilderness. Indeed, you may sip your five o’clock tea in as
cosy and homelike drawing-rooms and from as delicate china in Alert Bay
as anywhere in Canada; which, considering its remoteness, speaks well
for those who are _holding_ this outpost of the red men with totem
pedigrees! The Indians need, and deserve, a high standard. With their
“family” they have an idea of what’s what, and who’s who. No one stands
more on his dignity than an Indian! One Sunday afternoon we were
received by the present chief and his wife. They live in a neat cottage,
furnished with chairs, tables and rugs and having family portraits on
the walls. At our request the chief donned his handsome official coat,
covered with symbols of great snakes, bears and eagles wrought in beads.
Courteously he explained the significance of each emblem. He also
brought out a handsomely carved “speech-pole”, taller than himself, and
showed with pride the “copper”, which is the most important emblem of
office. For the “copper” he paid five hundred dollars. The chief speaks
very good English, is a pillar in the church, and enjoys a potlach. In
other words, he is a man of parts.

The potlatch is a giving-away feast among the Indians. Wishing to
impress the tribes with the importance of himself and family, some man
announces a potlatch. Frequently he spends thousands of dollars on his
gifts--hundreds of sacks of flour or as many blankets as will reach from
one totem to another half a mile away. China and glassware, pots and
pans are favourite gifts. A roaring fire in a selected community-house,
guests in costume, a wild-man hunt, braves dancing and a good wild time,
lasting sometimes for several months. This is the potlatch--a sort of
winter carnival. On the most important night the chief, donning his
robes, enters, speech-pole in hand, and makes the address to his people.
On these occasions he is accompanied by his wife and son, the latter
wearing a robe embroidered in design with many pearl buttons, and on his
head a heavy crown of yew-wood, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and
ornamented with sea-lion whiskers. The potlatch, however barbaric in its
dances and roaring fires and flickering light and shadows, is now within
civilized bounds when compared with the traditions of those of the long
ago. The Indian is now beginning to see other more profitable ways for
investing money. With his wider knowledge, comes a moderation of old
habits. They do not now “potlatch” every year. The young folk are not
enthusiastic, having other ambitions. Their friends and brothers were
“overseas” in that strange, rare, old world of Europe in the Great War.
Who knows what new ideas of life took root with every word that trickled
to this people of the coast, from their “boys” at the front? The Alert
Bay Indians never saw a train full of returned soldiers coming in, or a
ship with men from overseas dock at Halifax, but they had a glimpse now
and then of British naval authority in the rattle of a gunboat’s chains
coming to anchor in the little bay. None knew whence these little boats
came or whither they went, but while in port, the gray hull and shining
brass, angled-cannon, hour-bells and bugle-calls, were tangible proofs
of that larger fleet which keeps England “Mistress of the Seas”.

They know, these braves of the family tree, that the son of their agent,
who lived down the “Avenue” and played with their lads as a boy, fought
in the navy at Gallipoli. They know that their sons and brothers were at
Ypres with the rector’s son, who will never come back.

It is comforting to realize that the Canadian Government’s confidence in
the coastal Indian has not been misplaced. For not only did he serve
abroad, adding fresh glory on the battlefields of France to the “totems”
which are a landmark, not alone to his own people, but to the entire
Pacific coast, but at home he was and is a food-producer, when it comes
to salmon, of no mean accomplishments. And salmon, be it known, is an
important item in the life of Canada.


THIS EDITION OF “ROMANTIC CANADA”, WHICH BOOK IS WRITTEN BY VICTORIA
HAYWARD AND ILLUSTRATED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS BY EDITH S. WATSON, AND
PUBLISHED BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LIMITED, IS PRINTED AND
BOUND BY THE T. H. BEST PRINTING COMPANY, LIMITED, TORONTO, CANADA.

[Illustration: _A Window at St. Martin’s House_]





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