Was It All Cricket?
Chapter 20 — Canada and the St. Lawrence
Canada and the St. Lawrence
In a week's time I was appointed to the S.S Dominion, then in London and about to proceed to Canada to enter the coastal trade between Nova Scotia and Montreal.
Having developed an enthusiasm for seeing the world, especially the British Empire, I welcomed this opportunity of seeing the famous St. Lawrence River and parts of Canada, and did not hesitate to accept the position of Third Engineer. The Dominion was a bigger ship than either the Claverhill or the Savan, but her engines were right aft, as also was our accommodation. This may not signify much to the reader, nor does it when in port. At sea, however, as far as position on the ship is concerned, it was as steerage accommodation compared with the saloon. I was to learn this before the end of my service on the Dominion!
It was good news to learn that we were loading a full cargo for Gibraltar and from there proceed to Halifax. Our cargo was mainly naval stores, and, as it turned out, this was to result in having five days in Gibraltar.
We arrived at this great fortress port to find the Royal Yacht was there, with Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria aboard. Squadrons of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean fleets were in port. The whole place was decorated with bunting, and flags fluttered from every warship anchored in line down the harbour. At night it was a dazzling sight, for on every naval vessel the masts, rigging and hull were outlined with electric lights. Each ship stood out as did the railway stations in Melbourne on the occasion of the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York. Every berth was occupied, so we lay at anchor inside the harbour, and had a splendid view.
On the following morning most of us went ashore to see the Queen and Princess drive through the town. Crowds lined the streets and the Spaniards were just as excited as British residents. I got a close view of the Queen—far closer than I had in London—and she looked charming.
That the Dominion had arrived in Gibraltar at a propitious page 266 time may be gathered from the following recital of events. at two-thirty in the afternoon the Royal Albert steamed slowly out of port, and as we watched her sail away other ships were seen coming in. By this time we knew what to expect. It was the Hohenzollern, the German Royal Yacht, with Kaiser Wilhelm on board, escorted by two German cruisers. We were naturally excited, for while all on our ship had at some time or other seen Queen Alexandra, few, if any, had seen the Kaiser. On came the yacht, steaming slowly through the moles quite close to us. We could now see the Emperor's party on board. Without delay the Hohenzollern crept up between the two lines of British battleships and dropped anchor in their midst.
It seemed remarkable that the German Emperor should be received at a place like Gibraltar, for this was the key to the Mediterranean. He could not have been disappointed with his welcome, for he was warmly received, and the British know exactly how such receptions should be carried out.
After the Hohenzollern had anchored, the two accompanying cruisers came slowly through the moles, until all eyes were upon them. They were to berth at the breakwater right opposite us. A British warship, the Royal Sovereign, was already berthed there, bow on to their approach. Presently the first German cruiser manœuvred for position and then moved forward towards the British ship. We thought she was moving a bit fast, but knowing the power of a cruiser's engines, did not at first take more than casual notice. Next we saw the white foam aft, showing that the engines were full astern. To everyone's amazement the German cruiser did not stop, but crashed heavily into the British ship. One can show off in a pinnace when the engines are powerful and the hull light in structure, but not with heavy warships. No doubt this was the end of the German Captain's command, for we heard next day that the Kaiser was very angry over this untimely incident. There was a pilot on board, but we were told that the German commander overruled him. That the collision was no slight matter may be gathered from the fact that the British ship began immediately to settle by the head. The bulkhead collision-doors would naturally limit the amount of water, but without delay she was moved from her berth to the dock. We all went round to the dry-dock late that afternoon. Below the water-line of the bow there was a hole big enough for page 267 a man to walk through. Needless to say this incident ranked as a first-class sensation.
That night there was again the brilliant display of illuminations on every ship and on every building on the shores of the harbour. Next day the Kaiser drove through the town, and later inspected British regiments who paraded in the barrack square. I got a front-line position in the crowd that lined the square. As the German Emperor walked down the lines of soldiers, he stopped not more than two yards from me; it was the closest view I ever had of Royalty. Here was the great Kaiser arrayed in the spectacular uniform he always loved being photographed in. He was certainly an attractive-looking personality and measured up well to the impression one had gained from the pictures of this imposing monarch. He had the florid complexion of the Indian Army officer. His “Kaiser” moustache was as perfectly kept as photographs of him led one to expect. He spoke English well, and chatted freely with the British commanding officer. He seemed pleasant and affable, and once joined in genial laughter. The Kaiser made rather a good impression upon me, but of course we did not know him then!
They told us the Kaiser had asked to be shown over the fortifications of the Rock. Ah, that was different! The German and Japanese cameras in those days could still click, taking harbours, but fortifications … No! The ordinary Englishman may be “roast beef and football,” but the men of the Navy are no fools, and we may entrust the secrecy of Gibraltar to them.
Captain Dawson, R.N.R., of our S.S. Dominion, was a most efficient commander and did everything in naval style. That evening, the chief steward came along to the engineers' mess and said, “The Captain presents his compliments and says: ‘Would you like the use of the pinnace for a run round the harbour to view the yacht and warships in port?’ “We did not take long to finish our meal, in order to make use of the one remaining hour of daylight; we had much to talk about on our ship that evening.
Next day the Kaiser took his departure. There was the same courtesy, the same ceremony and salutes as on his arrival.
In the midst of all this pageantry and gaiety, one often heard page 268 discussed the growing rivalry of the German fleet. The Kaiser had long since made it plain that, having developed a mighty war machine on land, he was now pressing on with a determination to rival the British fleet. This had already caused uneasiness in many quarters, and incidents were to occur from time to time that did not augur well for the peace of the world. Some thought the Kaiser had a damned cheek to come to Gibraltar. The British naval authorities as hosts —whatever their thoughts—carried out the reception of the German Emperor in a manner that left no room for anything but the most friendly feelings between the Germans and our men of the Navy. It was a grand display in every way.
As illustrating the precautions taken at Gibraltar, Spaniards, while allowed into the port during the day, all have to pass out through the gates not later than sunset. They always seemed to delay their departure until the last minute, so their exit resembled a crowd leaving a football or cricket ground when the match was over.
After three days of endless parades we were at last able to get on with the work of discharging our cargo. In two or three more days we were ready for sea.
I had by now become acquainted with my shipmates. They promised to prove as friendly and as pleasant companions as those of the Claverhill and Savan. My Chief, Mr. Johnson, was a Sunderland man. The Second Engineer, Andy Mills, from South Shields, was a typical “Geordie,” with all the sense of humour of the men of the northern counties. He was a difficult man to rouse out of his sleep, and as he relieved me at 4 a.m., I had many times to remain on watch for at least ten or fifteen minutes longer; sometimes he had to be called a second time—we nearly had words over it, but he never became punctual. The Fourth was a Cockney from Bermondsey and, like Morrison on the Claverhill, would not sit again for his exam., and was destined to remain at the bottom of the ladder.
Leaving Gibraltar, we were out of the Straits and heading a direct course to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Next day we crossed the route to South Africa and got a good view of one of the Union Castle liners; with her lavender-coloured hull and red funnels, she was unmistakable. The Scrutton Line ships to the West Indies were painted almost the same colours, page 269 the hull being grey. After passing the Azores and reaching higher latitudes we began to feel the drop in temperature.
It is in early spring that great mountains of ice break away from the Arctic field. As this voyage was in the month of March, it will be realized that falling temperatures of both atmosphere and sea-water made the Captain and officers keep on the alert. Icebergs are feared more than anything else in the North Atlantic. We were now reaching the regions of Newfoundland, and almost as if by magic there was a cry “Iceberg!” This was long before it could be seen with the naked eye. Sure enough, in about half an hour a huge iceberg, shining in the afternoon sun, could plainly be seen. Before leaving England we had seen headlines displayed in the London papers about a party of sealers being rescued from an iceberg; a great area of ice had broken away and the sealers were placed in a desperate plight. Our course would have taken us a good many miles from this iceberg, but the old Mate, through powerful glasses, swore he could see life on the floating ice. Captain Dawson was sceptical, but the Mate was so insistent that our course was altered and we steamed closer. It was a magnificent sight. Bright sunshine made this huge block of ice sparkle like crystal. The light and shade, with colours that varied from pale blue to pale green, turned the iceberg into a memorable sight. There was no sign of life and we veered back on to our course. We looked forward to making fun of the Mate when he came off the bridge. However he got in first: “It was a polar bear,” he said!
Halifax has a fine harbour and is one of Canada's naval bases. It was extremely cold when we arrived and I felt the biting winds after the heat of the West Indian trade. We had only a few naval stores to discharge so did not stay long.
It is about a two hundred-mile-run up the coast to Sydney, on the Island of Cape Breton, the most northern part of Nova Scotia. One had to be careful addressing letters in these parts, for Sydney, N.S.—the abbreviation of the name of the province—was at once confusing with Sydney, N.S.W., in Australia.
It was bitterly cold for there was snow on the ground and ice on every pool. Like Halifax, Sydney is situated on the shores of a fine harbour. This seaport, established long before the discovery of the colonies in the Antipodes and when page 270 sawmilling, fishing and sealing were the only occupations open to the menfolk of the town, was now galvanized into action by the establishment of modern industry in great steel works and coal mines which were to play an important part in the industrial life of eastern Canada. Their successful operations were at once reflected in the life and prosperity of the town; in a few years the population had almost trebled, and the town and suburban areas grew in proportion; old-fashioned city buildings were being rebuilt in brick and concrete; modern architecture began to improve the appearance of the place, and every trade connected with the building industry shared in the boom. Hollywood and Los Angeles are usually quoted as the best examples of the mushroom growth of the West. Sydney, Nova Scotia, at this time, was proving that the provinces of the east could be reborn and provide opportunities for youth and ambition, and still have room for more and more venturesome spirits from the Homeland.
In Sydney, the magnificent home of Mr. A. J. Moxham, the steel magnate and first great leader in the steel industry of Nova Scotia, stood out as an example of how far a man may go by his own efforts. From his home, situated high on the hill, he could look across the harbour to the furnaces, in operation day and night, which had brought this newly-won prosperity to Canada's most eastern province.
It was now early April and the St. Lawrence had been reported open for navigation, with the Dominion ready to enter the regular trade between Sydney, Quebec and Montreal. Sydney harbour, like the St. Lawrence, is frozen over in winter when the coal is railed to Louisberg, which becomes Nova Scotia's most northern loading port. We lost no time in berthing and, once under the coal shutes, it was an eye-opener to see the coal rolling down in an almost continuous stream. It was apparent that Sydney must be a busy port during the summer months. There were three enormous wharves to cope with the trade of the allied companies: the Dominion Iron & Steel Company and the Dominion Coal Company, with loading facilities equal to those of any of the coal ports of the world.
On our first trip we left Sydney in the forenoon and steamed due north to Cape North, at the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Newfoundland, to the north-east, is only fifty miles away and the straits between named Cabot. As we approached page 271 the Cape we were to see ice on the horizon. Getting nearer we dropped to “Half Speed,” then “Slow,” then “Stop.” We were now close to a bank of pack-ice which stretched as far as the eye could see. Seals were playing about on the edge of the ice-field; we could hear them making a noise like babies crying; when our ship got closer they dived into the sea. Steaming along, we looked for an opening, but the ice was packed tightly everywhere.
In early spring, when the wind is off the sea, drifting blocks of ice from the river are met by those that have broken off the field in the Straits of Belle Isle and along the coast of Labrador, and fill the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Often, they merely block up the Straits of Cabot, and this is what happened on this occasion, for the look-out man reported from aloft that he could see patches of clear sea in the Gulf. Captain Dawson could not risk forcing his ship through this tightly packed ice, for it would remain impassable until the wind changed. He decided to run down the coast to the Straits of Canso, the narrow channel between Cape Breton Island and the mainland of Nova Scotia which provides another entrance to the Gulf.
There was a reason for not delaying long at the pack-ice field; the authorities at Montreal always presented a gold watch to the Captain of the first ship to reach that port after the winter snow and ice. Each member of the crew also received a present. The Dominion had been the first vessel of the season to load at Sydney so we thought we had a chance. There was keen anticipation and excitement as we entered the Straits at daylight next morning. We beheld a glorious sight; there had been a heavy fall of snow, and the fir trees growing on the slopes, right down to the water's edge, were covered with flakes that weighed down the branches. This blossom-like effect, with the dark foliage for a background, made a perfect picture in black and white. As the sun rose, the black appearance of the trees changed to a dark green, but the effect was the same.
In the narrow straits of Canso there were also floating blocks of ice, but we steamed slowly on, pushing our way through clusters here and there. Then would come an open space, and the telegraph would ring “Full Ahead,” soon back to “Half Ahead,” then “Slow Ahead” as we came to more ice. The bows of the Dominion were built with extra strength page 272 to enable her to withstand the bumps of these miniature icebergs. We were doing splendidly and had steamed some miles along this narrow waterway when, suddenly, on turning a point, we saw a steamer about a mile ahead. On a longer stretch we could see two more ships. That was the end of our speculation whether we would receive a reward at Montreal!
Before leaving the Straits at the western end we saw the train ferry that enables a railway service to be run between Sydney and Halifax. These trains connect with the main line to Montreal. This service must be invaluable when the St. Lawrence is ice-bound during the winter months.
Out of the Straits we turned north and passing Prince Edward Island were in the wide open sea of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The spaciousness of this Gulf may be gathered from the fact that it is 200 miles east to west and 300 miles north to south. The Island of Anticosti, in the estuary, is 150 miles long by about 30 wide. From Cape Gaspe to Quebec is 450 miles and from there to Montreal, up the narrower reaches of the river, 140 miles. These distances will illustrate the fact that I am describing a great river. The Amazon and the Mississippi, the Danube and the Rhine, with their tremendous distances penetrating into continents, may appear to hold prior claims. Memories of geography lessons in school-days may tend to make length only the measuring-rod for greatness. The St. Lawrence is the most perfect specimen of river and estuary; the Thames, on a smaller scale, closely resembles. Traffic on the large rivers I have mentioned is carried on by special types of river steamers and barges. On the St. Lawrence it is Atlantic liners that race across the Gulf and continue at full speed to Quebec, then on to Montreal at reduced speed. One can easily be misled by the fact that the St. Lawrence ends about a hundred miles above Montreal. The waters of the Great Lakes must be added; not everyone realizes that the foaming waters of the Niagara Falls, which come from Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie, calm down from a raging torrent when they enter the peaceful lake of Ontario, and thus make a major contribution to the volume of the St. Lawrence. The number of rivers that feed those five great lakes, and those above and below Quebec, that flow into this famous waterway, may make the reader agree page 273 that, judged by its physical features, the St. Lawrence is one of the great rivers of the world.
I eagerly studied every point of the estuary coastline, and was aided by those who had previously been on this run. Thoughts of Quebec ahead took me back to history lessons. It was here that the great Wolfe had sailed with his ships. Here that the great contest for supremacy in Canada took place between the British and French. The river, though still several miles wide, was gradually getting narrower. We passed one or two small islands, then the Isle of Orleans: immediately beyond was Quebec.
It was daylight as we approached this famous place, and it seemed like the realization of a dream to be creeping closer and closer to this city of historic and romantic associations. The finest view of Quebec is from the river. It looked impressive on this sunny day in early spring. Soon we were abreast of what is known as the Lower Town, with the dome of the great customs house shining in the distance.
We had nearly stopped when a pinnace raced out. A rope ladder was lowered to allow the ship's agent to come aboard with a message for the Captain. He stayed a few minutes only, and we were again under way. On the first rise to the Heights of Quebec stood the famous Château Frontenac, built by the Canadian Pacific Railway. One could not imagine a more commanding sight and, as the building of this hotel cost over one million dollars, some seventy years ago, its magnificence may be imagined. Dufferin Terrace was pointed out and then came the Citadel, standing on the solid rock of Cape Diamond. In early years, soldiers were quartered here. One wondered how Wolfe and his men ever captured this place which looks impregnable, but we had to wait to see the actual place of the scaling of the heights. As we steamed past Cape Diamond one noticed old-fashioned buildings on a narrow flat terrace beneath the cliffs. The wharves looked strange to me, for they were all boxed-in with timbers, as if to prevent anything from floating beneath them.
We were now approaching the place where Wolfe and his men, in the darkness of night, stealthily climbed, in single file, the narrow path that led to the plateau more than two hundred feet above. It must have been a breathless moment when a French sentry challenged the approaching boats. page 274 The situation was saved by a quick reply in fluent French, which completely disarmed the guard on watch.
This glimpse of the scene of an historic battle, the result of which was to change the whole future of Canada, urged me to learn all I could about the conquest of eastern Canada. Each voyage we made up the St. Lawrence I was to learn more about the final battle, more about the abortiye attempt of the British troops to storm the French position across the river Montmorenci, and more about the blazing ships that the French, in the dead of night, set adrift upstream in the hope that they would drift among Wolfe's fleet at anchor off the Isle of Orleans. In my voyages in the Claverhill and Savan I had been over and passed close to the scenes of many historic incidents in the past life of our Empire, but none thrilled me more than this fight for Quebec between two armies led by men whose names are immortalized.
From all these stories of the siege of Quebec there emerged the indelible picture of the brave and gallant Wolfe. His death, in the height of battle, was as touching as were the last moments of Nelson on the Victory. No one can read of the battles of Quebec and Trafalgar without being reminded of the genius, the devotion to duty and the love of country of these two great heroes. Defeat may have tarnished Montcalm's reputation in his own country, but the people of the British Empire respect the memory of this great French General and gallant foe.
Returning to the story of my first voyage to Montreal, the Dominion, now steaming in mid-stream, was soon past the site of the battle that was to win fame and glory for British arms. The St. Lawrence river, as far up as Quebec, remains an estuary, and the situation of the City of the Heights is similar to that of Gravesend on the Thames. It may surprise readers to learn that three or four miles below Quebec the river is about two miles wide and, though it narrows considerably when opposite the city, it again widens to a mile and a half abreast Wolfe's Cove, but from there on gradually narrows, until it is about half a mile wide at Montreal where it is joined by the wider-spread waters of the rapids. Every mile of this journey proved of immense interest. The river banks were now on a lower level, and through field-glasses we could see the people on the land, houses and carts, cattle, fields of page 275 corn and lovely trees. At last we arrived at Montreal, Canada's busiest port—the clearing-house of great areas beyond and of the cities on the lakes.
We berthed in the heart of the city. I was soon to learn that mechanical appliances for discharging cargo were to prove the efficiency of modern plant. We did not work our own winches or derricks at all for, high up on a staging on the wharf, was an overhead crane with a horizontal jib, on which was a carriage track. The winch was above this, giving the engine-driver a direct view down into the hold. The little carriage ran down the slightly sloping track, until it was over the centre of the hatch. The wire rope, to which a bucket grab was attached, went through blocks on the carriage. The open grab was then lowered, or really dropped, on to the top of the coal. As the winch engine hauled, the rope became taut, the grab automatically closed, and up it came with a load of several hundred-weights of coal. As soon as the grab cleared the top of the hatch combing, the friction driven drum wound in the rope attached to the carriage, and thus the coal-grab moved in and up at the same time. When the grab was over the chute, tripping gear made it open and the coal fell out to roll down into the coal bins, below which ran the railway trucks. Shortly, five of these grabs—one to each hold— were operating. I had seen coal handled on a large scale at Sydney, N.S.W., and Melbourne, but never with so little manual labour. All the trimmers had to do was to shovel the coal to the centre where the grab dropped. It was only when getting near the bottom of the holds that they had to do any real shovelling. I could see we were not going to have very long stays in Montreal, for so efficient was the coal discharging plant that our holds could be emptied in little more than twenty-four hours.
On my first day at Montreal I had only time to get a general view of the city and go to the top of Mount Royal, a place where all visitors go. I was fully repaid, for the view from the summit was magnificent and reminded me of The Peak at Hong Kong. Strange to say the mode of reaching the top was by a rack railway, similar to that on The Peak. One got a splendid view of the city and its surroundings. The St. Lawrence looked an imposing water-way. One could see how the river spreads itself out over a wide expanse below the rapids, and it is here that the great Victoria Bridge is built. It is one and page 276 three-quarter miles long—at that time said to be one of the longest bridges in the world. This view of the Lachine Rapids enabled one to understand why ships, to go up the river above Montreal, had to be raised by a system of locks to the higher level of the Upper St. Lawrence. Once there they could proceed to Lake Ontario, on whose shores stand Toronto and Hamilton on the Canadian side, and Rochester in the United States.
Montreal is a fine city. One immediately noticed how much French was spoken, and this seemed strange in a British Dominion. Petite French women chattered in their own language; in the streets and on the trams it was the same; on the waterfront more than half the men spoke French; some shops displayed signs “English spoken”—a remarkable notice for a Britisher in a British Dominion to read! The French have certainly played their part in the development of eastern Canada, especially the province of Quebec in which Montreal is situated.
Next day we went off on the return journey. After passing Quebec, we met the Victorian, famous as the first ocean-going turbine steamer. She belonged to the Allan Line of Glasgow. They told us that on her maiden voyage a leading German naval engineer was on board as an observer, who, on arrival at Montreal, cabled home that he did not recommend turbines. This was said to have resulted in the Germans getting a late start in this type of engine. What the owners of the Allan Line thought may be gathered from the fact that they immediately laid down the keel of the Virginian, a bigger and faster ship. I saw her frequently during those summer months. Once, in a dense fog, she flashed past us so close that it seemed as though we missed her by a matter of yards! Twenty years later when there was a terrific head-on collision in the St. Lawrence, between the collier Hochlaga, trading in the run from Nova Scotia, and the liner Leopold, I was able to picture how it happened.
And so, for eight months of 1905, we moved up and down the St. Lawrence. There was little variation in the nature of our visits to Sydney, Nova Scotia, but at the Montreal end I saw more and more of this beautiful city and visited the suburbs beyond. I always wanted to run up to Ottawa, but never managed to get there. On one of my trips in mid-summer, I page 277 shot the Lachine Rapids—one of the attractions of Montreal. Taking a passenger ferry steamer from above the locks and steaming down the river for a short distance, I felt the vessel suddenly give a lurch, then another, then a roll the other way, then a dip by the head. Everyone was on deck to see the actual shooting of the rapids. It was soon over and not as sensational as I had expected. The name Rapids suggests broken and foaming waters. A few rocks showing on the surface well away on the starboard side lent some colour to this thought, but actually it is the great river moving faster—a good deal faster—down an easy slope in its bed. Recovering quickly after the short down-hill run, the river, reaching its new level, flows on unconcerned, to gather volume from its numerous tributaries and becomes wider and wider on its long run to the sea. As the engines must be kept going to ensure the vessel maintaining its way and answering the helm, it will be appreciated that we resembled a speed boat in that short dash through the racing waters.
When mid-summer arrived I was surprised to find the weather becoming really hot in Montreal. On some days it was as stifling as Sydney in Australia. It is always the same in continents where great areas of land experience intense heat in summer and intense cold in winter.
The approaching autumn began to show itself in the foliage of the trees and it was fascinating to watch the changing colour of the leaves on the maples. We were back in Montreal about every ten days, and the trees on the river-bank, especially between Quebec and Montreal, gradually became more and more like our Virginian creeper in New Zealand—first a darker colour, then red, turning to brilliant red or crimson. In late autumn these trees made a beautiful sight. In New Zealand we occasionally get seasons when the autumn leaves stay on the trees for a considerable time, but generally speaking a strong southerly wind will suddenly strip the trees bare, long before the leaves are ready to drop off naturally. Canada is more favoured in this respect; when nearing the end of the summer there is usually a break in the weather and one thinks winter has come; this is of short duration, for there then sets in a six weeks' spell of the most glorious weather one could imagine. This period is known as the Indian summer: warm days and cool evenings with a total absence of wind. One page 278 would almost think it was a special dispensation for the maple trees, so that they might show themselves to real advantage. It is this wonderful display that accounts for the Canadian's pride in the maple leaf which has been adopted as the national emblem.
It was tantalizing to keep passing Quebec voyage after voyage but never berthing there. One regular run was to Montreal, but my shipmates told me that occasionally one of our Ships took a cargo to Quebec. I learned all I could of this city. I wanted to walk on the Plains of Abraham, to see Wolfe's monument and the monument to the brave soldiers who fell in that great struggle. Through field-glasses we could see the monument erected on Dufferin Terrace to the memory of Champlain, the famous Frenchman, who, more than two centuries earlier had gone to the New World to found a new France. He made Quebec the proud capital and went near to dominating a much wider field than the province of the same name.
It will be seen what a rich field this old historic city would prove to a keen student. I was not destined to get nearer than when, on my first voyage, we momentarily stopped to receive a message. At night Quebec was a magnificent sight; its brilliant lights could be seen many miles distant. The view, as seen from the decks of the Dominion, is not easily forgotten.
Throughout the summer months I had been obtaining from a news-agency in Montreal the Athletic News, an English sporting paper, similar to Australia's old Sydney Referee, while several members of the crew regularly received papers from Home. This kept us informed of county cricket, as well as of the Australian XI's tour of 1905.
September came, and our thoughts turned to football, for the New Zealand Rugby team was due to arrive in the Old Country. Tamlin, our First Mate, was a man of Devonshire, the winners of the County Championship the previous year. “Bah!” said Tamlin, when New Zealand's chances were discussed. He was encouraged by the opinion of D. R. Bedell-Sivright who, a year earlier, had captained a British rugger team to the Dominion. He had said that while New Zealanders played good football and would win most of the county matches, they would be no match for the International sides. This was faint praise, considering the New Zealanders had won the page 279 only Test Match played during the Britisher's tour of the Dominion. The opening match of the New Zealanders' tour was against Devonshire. Big headlines told the story, and I couldn't get back to the ship fast enough. As we gathered round I solemnly opened the paper at the football page. Old Tamlin was dumbfounded at the “cricket” score, and the others little less surprised. Rugby football continued to be a subject of conversation on our ship, and it should be said that our First Mate became a great barracker of New Zealand; if they could beat Devonshire by a half-century of points they could beat the world!
There is little doubt that Bedell-Sivright's opinion was also responsible for the best joke of this tour. The canny Scots refused to give a fixed sum for a game against Scotland. Instead they offered the tourists the total proceeds of the gate. It was a strenuous match with a thrilling finish; five minutes from time the home side was leading by seven points to six when, like a bolt from the blue, G. W. Smith scored two sensational tries. The pipers played laments instead of marches in Edinburgh that night! The New Zealanders added insult to injury when they collected three times the five hundred pounds originally asked of the Scottish Union for the match.
Week after week we read of the progress of the tour. Ireland and England also went down before the all-conquering New Zealanders. By now everyone wanted their scalps and people began to say, “Wait till you get to Wales,” the then champion Rugby side of the British Isles.
The Welsh Rugby Union, aware of the strength of the challenge, prepared as never before; it sent the members of its team away in twos and threes to watch the All Blacks play in different matches in England; they were to study the visitors' tactics; to see the two-three-two scrum formation in action, and, above all, to learn what they could of the wing-forward whose position on the field was new to Britishers and about whose play there raged a controversy throughout the British Isles.
The tenseness of the approaching contest began before the team arrived in Wales, for the question of the appointment of a referee caused some discussion. The New Zealanders wanted A. O. Jones, a noted English Test cricket captain, Rugby player and referee, but the Welshmen would not agree. In view page 280 of Jones's fine character and reputation this was surprising. In the end a referee from over the Border was agreed upon.
The tourists had now played continuously for three months; the match against Wales was the twenty-eighth of the tour and, as two games a week had been played, it will be understood that the lads from “down under” were a jaded side when they reached the Welsh capital; and their players had suffered many of the minor injuries that all touring sides experience. It was, however, still a representative All Black team that took the field, but the absence of Smith must have caused some misgiving among the New Zealanders, for the speedy Aucklander was one of the greatest scoring three-quarters the game has known.
An enormous crowd had assembled and after the teams had cheered one another, 50,000 people as one man sang “Land of My Fathers.” We know how the skirl of the bagpipes inspires Scottish troops going into battle; we know how Mr. Churchill's “… we shall fight on the beaches …” uplifted an Empire when its Homeland faced the moment of its greatest peril; but players who took part in this match were to tell me later that while the singing of the Welsh national anthem was to inspire the wearers of the leek, its effect upon the New Zealanders was to create a feeling of awe, and make them realize the truth of an old saying of The Times: “A Welsh side, playing at Cardiff, begins with five points in its favour.”
The game had not long been in progress before it was evident that the Scottish referee was excessively rigid in his interpretation of the rules governing wing-forward play. Gallagher, the New Zealand captain and wing-forward, was unduly penalized and treated as though he were a transgressor; the crowd, too, was hostile towards him. This vexed the wearers of the Silver Fern and for a time upset their smooth-running organization, but when both sides settled down there was to be waged what many consider the greatest battle in all Rugby history. The advantage was first with one side, then the other, but few opportunities for scoring presented themselves. Then, in a flash, Owen, the clever Welsh half, whipped the ball out from the scrum, and away went the Welsh backs. Deans slipped in tackling his man and when centre-three-quarter Gabe was seen racing towards the New Zealand full-back, with his wing-three-quarter in a handy position, it was at once clear that the page 281 All Black line was in danger of being crossed. Making no mistake in taking the final pass, the speedy Teddy Morgan streaked for the corner flag, while the crowd, now on its feet, cheered as a Welsh crowd had never cheered before. It was a splendid try.
The struggle became more intense than ever, with a delighted crowd roaring itself hoarse as it spurred its men on to victory. The game was well into the second spell, with the All Blacks now doing most of the attacking, but Wales still led by three points to nil. In such a contest openings to score had to be seized quickly, and just as suddenly as Owen's quick pass had paved the way for Wales to score, so Wallace's cutting infield and passing to Deans gave the New Zealanders their opportunity. There was tremendous excitement as the big centre-three-quarter dashed for the line. Wallace called to him to run round nearer the posts, but having got through the opening, Deans was content so long as he had grounded the ball over the goal-line. The referee, clad in ordinary clothes, was too slow to keep up with this piece of fast play, and when he arrived on the scene Deans was lying stretched full length on the ground, with the ball a few inches short of the line. A scrum five yards out was ordered. The New Zealanders did not question the fairness of the referee, but were heart-broken at the try being disallowed. The game ended without further score, and Cardiff belonged to the footballers amid scenes resembling Mafeking night.
Then began a controversy in the newspapers of Britain that was to last for weeks and reach all parts of the Empire. “Did Deans score?” caused arguments everywhere, even on the S.S. Dominion on the coast of Nova Scotia. C. B. Fry, then a big figure in journalism in London, wired to Deans for his version, and published the reply which read as follows: “I grounded the ball eight inches over the line.” “C.B.'s” brief comment was a charming and well-deserved tribute to the character of Deans, when he said, “If Deans says he scored a try, then a try was scored!”
Confirmation of what happened was to be given years later, when Bush, the Welsh outside half-back, in a newspaper interview, gave his version. This is what he said: “Deans rabbited the ball over the line, so we pulled him back into play …” Ignoring the old axiom of the arbitrator—“Never try to explain”—Bush not only stumbled into an unjust and incorrect de- page 282 scription of the manner in which Deans scored his try, but also gave an explanation of what happened immediately afterwards that was to make known to the world that it was the action of one or two quick-witted, or one should say crafty, Welshmen, that deceived the referee and made it impossible for the conscientious Mr. Dallas to give the decision he certainly would have given had he seen all that took place.
On returning to New Zealand I was to learn how the people of this Dominion received the news of their Rugby Waterloo. Throughout the week the one theme of conversation in this country was the match against Wales; it was typical of cricket Test matches in Australia. The news of the result could not reach New Zealand until the early hours of Sunday, but the Government arranged for the result to be posted outside every Post Office. In straitlaced Christchurch, people walked from the morning service in the Cathedral, across the Square, to the Post Office to learn the news, and when they gazed upon the notice board their expressions were as solemn as they had been in church!
An additional tit-bit is to be found in the story told of Mr. Seddon, New Zealand's Premier, who, on arriving from Wellington by the ferry steamer on the Sunday morning, called to people on the wharf at Lyttelton: “Who won?”
Back came the reply, “Wales!” and Mr. Seddon groaned, as all other New Zealanders had groaned when they first heard the result.
Deans's try, which still remains one of the most discussed incidents in the history of Rugby football, will continue to be talked about as long as the game is played.
The match against Wales was to provide the climax to months of discussion and argument aboard the Dominion. Now it was my shipmates' turn, for Britishers had reason to rejoice. Although the New Zealanders lost this vital match, they won for their country a world-wide renown in the field of International Rugby.
As the winter approached there was much talk of when we should be able to make our last voyage up the river. Ships had been known to make that “just one more” trip—a sort of Doc and Doris—only to find that the ice had beaten them. We were not to be caught like that i At last December came, and we received orders to load for Boston. So ended a unique page 283 experience; at sea, yet not at sea; more than eight months in perfectly calm waters, fresh food all the time, with the city of Montreal as our regular terminal port. A thousand miles from the ocean is Montreal's boast.
When one examines the position of eastern Canada it is at once clear that this great Dominion suffers a severe handicap from nature's closing of the St. Lawrence during the winter months. Halifax is the only other port on the Atlantic seaboard suitable for the import and export trade, unless one turns into the Bay of Fundy to small ports such as St. John, New Brunswick.
When the boundary between the United States and Canada was fixed, the shores of the five Great Lakes made a natural line of demarcation in the central area, and also made these lakes neutral waters. This arrangement gave Canada a tongue of land that projected south of the parallel, the line fixed for the boundary west of the Lakes. A glance at the map will show that the Americans took their pound of flesh on the eastern side and forced the boundary of the State of Maine right up into what appears to be Canada's natural territory. Portland, Maine, would have given Canada a splendid all-the-year-round harbour and one well-suited as an alternative route for the great and growing traffic of the St. Lawrence and the Lakes area. The final fixing of the boundary took many years; in fact, what was known as the North-East Boundary Dispute actually dated from the granting of independence to the American Colonies.
It was the lack of a clear definition in the original agreement that was to cause a long and at times bitter wrangle between two friendly countries. The matter was referred to the King of the Netherlands as arbitrator, but the United States refused to accept his decision. There were threats of war about this time. American and Canadian lumbermen had some rare old quarrels about where their logging rights took them to. At last common sense prevailed; the boundary question was again referred to arbitration; this time to two men, Lord Ashburton representing Britain, and Daniel Webster representing the United States; the present boundary is their finding. I met Canadians who still thought that Britain had sacrificed Canada for the sake of peace with the United States. I met men in Boston who thought Canada got more than her page 284 fair share, so perhaps the present dividing line approximates the intentions of the original agreement of 1783. It has been said that it was the lumbermen, forging their way so far north into the State of Maine, who influenced the decision and made it appear on the map that America had been unduly harsh in her claims over this boundary question.