The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Category: Miscellaneous Page 1 of 13

Letter to the Old Typewriter

May 14, 1932

These illustrations by Jim appeared alongside a story by Gordon Sinclair, who was well known for his globe-trotting reporting. The story was a tongue-in-cheek obituary for his old portable typewriter “Tip” that he carried on his adventures that had bit the dust.

May 14, 1932

Grape Nuts Ad – 5/2/36

May 2, 1936

This is another in the series of Grape Nuts ads by Jim featuring “Ernie Energy”.

When Abie’s “Irish” Rose

April 29, 1933

This illustration by Jim accompanied a story by Happy Meyers Bonnell, whom I have no information on. The story is of how she, her sister, and a friend tried to train the polo horse “Abie” to pull a cart. It plays on the stereotype that Irish people are “hot-blooded”. It is also a play on words of a popular play and movie, Abie’s Irish Rose.

Little Pig Fair

A photograph of Mennonite buggies that are drawn up every month for the fair at Elmira, Ont. Gregory Clark, of The Star Weekly, RIGHT, with one of the many little porkers that go up for auction.
A humorous version of a corner of the Elmira fair, where horses, pigs, farm and home equipment are auctioned off above the clamor of the domestic animals …
Two Mennonite farmers snapped by the photographer at the Elmira Fair.

By Gregory Clark, April 20, 1935

Once a month Elmira, Ontario, holds a town fair. Two or three hundred farmers throng the streets of the town. A great buzz fills the Monday morning, with the drone of auctioneers, the murdered squeals of little pigs, the bawl of cattle and the whinny of horses making a festival sound.

It is many, many years since most of the towns of Canada gave up their monthly fair. But Elmira is different. Elmira has had a town fair since long before the oldest recollection. We searched the records, but there was always a town fair in Elmira.

And if I am any good at seeing towns, then Elmira is one of the wisest little communities in this country. For it is a long time since I have seen a town so busy as Elmira was the Monday morning I wiggled my car through the congestion of cars and horses and buggies and, after two tries, at last took a parking place away down the side street.

For the town was alive and alight with action. In the open spaces auction sales of animals and of secondhand household furniture were going full blast; agricultural implements, wagons and horses were going under the hammerless fists of old-fashioned auctioneers; I saw an axe handle, home-made, go to fifteen cents, then by one-cent bids to twenty and sold for twenty-two. I saw a handsome young farmer buy five little pigs at $4.20 a pig.

“Pigs high?” I commented.

“I lost three litters this month,” said the young man. “We wouldn’t be happy at our house unless we had a litter of pigs to raise for fall. So here they are, high or low.”

And he sunk each screaming pig into an oak sack, stowed the struggling pigs in pokes under the seat of his buggy and, with a lean, clever horse dancing in the leather, drove out of the throng.

The rest of the world may have gone in for these here newfangled motor cars. But Elmira, Ontario, sticks to buggies.

Chicago big shots may fly in eight hours to Los Angeles to get away from it all. But the big shots of Elmira, Ontario, find a nice, light pacer, in front of a smooth-going rig, fast enough to keep up with the times.

Before I give you a picture of Elmira’s monthly fair, held on a Monday, with the streets of the little town thronged with men, its open squares jammed with auctions, the hum of country gossip, the drone of auctioneers’ voices, I would like to tell about a conversation I had with an old friend. It shows the humor, the kindliness, of Elmira and its surrounding country of beautifully kept farms. Farms more beautifully kept even than the millionaire farms along the Lake Shore road or up Bayview. In fact, the education of a student of agriculture is not complete until he has driven the country roads out from Elmira and seen these beautiful acres dressed like a merchant’s show window, with never an implement left rusting in any fence corner and no litter or old planks flung about the barnyard, nor ever a fence run down, and geraniums, white, pink and scarlet, in all the sweet windows.

Biggest Buggy Market

As I stood watching the monthly fair of Elmira, with the black-hatted Mennonite men in large numbers, with their calm faces and coats of black so incredibly old that they were a sage green across the shoulders, a Mennonite stepped up and spoke to me. Three years ago I had the pleasure of writing something about the Mennonites of Elmira district, and all of what I said was kindly meant. But I learned afterwards that some Mennonites did not take kindly to being written up at all, regardless of how well we spoke of them.

“So,” said this serene-eyed man in the wide hat, “you’re the gentleman who wrote up the Mennonites in the paper?”

“Yes; did you read it?” I asked.

“I never read newspapers,” said the Mennonite, reprovingly. But I heard what was in the article.”

“Ah,” I said, “then you do not think it as wicked to think evil as to do evil?”

“Yes, I do,” said he.

“Then it is not against your principles to hear what is in the papers, but it is against your principles to read what is in them?” I stabbed.

“Very good,” laughed the gentle man, “then I did not even hear what was in the papers!”

So I asked if these two strapping boys behind him were his sons. They were. We talked, the boys speechless and shy, murmuring yes or no.

“This one,” I said, “is going to be very big, eh?”

“Ah, yes,” sighed the Mennonite. “I am terribly afraid he will be too big to inherit my coat.”

And with this we laughed, for the coat on the father was so antique, its rusty green was fading to gray and it had the cut of a mid-Victorian cab driver’s coat.

So here in the face of all change, of wars and revolutions, of the collapsing of one civilization and the colossal uprising of others, remains a race of men as simple, as filled with plain toil and happiness as if a hundred years had stood still in their part of the world. Good-humored, sincere, devoted, they probably have in their possession more plain wealth than any other community in America. More acres free of debt. More cash in the bank. More peace in their souls.

And let the rest of the world abandon their town fairs, they keep theirs agoing.

George Class of Elmira is the senior auctioneer and former Mayor Frickey of Waterloo shares the auction honors. The fair is held once a month, generally on the second Monday, year in, year out. It dwindles a little in the summer, but with September the streets are thronged again every fair day through the winter, sees a great jam from nine a.m. until well past noon. The town merchants take care that no new goods are sold at the fair in competition with their stores. That is an understanding dating back to the earliest days.

But horses, buggies, farm implements of every sort and age, household furniture of all conceivable kinds, in fact anything that is secondhand or homemade, is traded and sold.

“Little pigs,” said William Auman, a cattle-buyer who has lived his life in Elmira, “are the chief commodity now and always have been. Hundreds of young porkers are brought here every fair day and mostly bought and sold amongst the farmers themselves. Very few dealers are here. Possibly a dozen horses will be auctioned or traded each fair day. Buggies sell from $10 to $40. I suppose this is the largest buggy market in America to-day.”

Eye-Compelling Tidiness

This is due to the fact that the Mennonites faithfully hold to their horses and rigs, religiously denying themselves such luxuries as cars. I saw twenty-five buggies for sale the day I was there. I saw a democrat in first-class condition sell for $22.20. I saw an eight-year-old driving mare sell for $90 and a single farm horse at $123.50.

But while the auction drones on from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. a highly active private treaty goes on all over the place. There are three main market stands, one opposite the public library, where the pigs, cows and horses are sold, and another large open space at the bus terminal, where the farmers’ driving sheds are. Here the household effects, buggies and implements are sold.

These farmers of the Elmira district are very thrifty of everything, including their time. As I said before, their farms fairly crackle with neatness and tidiness. But what time they have left over they employ in making all kinds of wooden ware for farm use. Axe handles, double trees and yokes and tongues for heavy wagons.

“In the winter,” explained a small, sturdy Mennonite of at least seventy years, “I have not much to do, so I make tongues and double trees and sell them here to my neighbors.”

Between the two large spaces jammed with mobs of farmers watching the auctions there are sundry small stalls where country cheese is sold. These people of German descent know how to make cheese, the holey country style of cheese, and stacks of it in doorways are cut into huge gobbets and sold to other farmers, who prefer the country cheese to all the factory products.

The display of household effects is extraordinary, I happen to know that in these lovely farm homes of the Elmira country is hidden some of the loveliest walnut furniture of simple pioneer design – the kind Toronto ladies would go silly over – but there is rarely if ever a stick of such furniture gets on to the open auction of the town. The people prize it more than connoisseurs. They prize it as the designers, the makers and the users of it.

From light oak bedroom sets, all manner of tables and chairs, some rickety, some decidedly good, down to funny looking mid-Victorian sewing machines, incredible pumps, odds and ends of kitchen and barnyard furniture, the display is truly what it is supposed to be, and that is, a means of disposing of whatever is no longer of any use. For example, the day I was there, the carpenter tools of an elderly farmer who had just retired to live in Elmira was one of the items of auction. Everybody for miles around knew this old farmer had been a first-class carpenter, and the disposal of his tools attracted every thrifty man in three townships. I asked about the origin of an entire bedroom suite. The girl whose room this suite adorned in a farmhouse had recently married, and as her young husband took her into a completely furnished home, her parents felt no further need of the furniture. That’s the spirit of the Elmira town fair. If a thing is no longer needed sell it, trade it. It may account for the eye-compelling tidiness of every farm you see for miles around Elmira. Thrift has got rid of every stick, every item that is no longer needed. Surely the strangest items auctioned the day I was there was a veranda pillar. Just an old, faded wooden column or pillar off a farm house porch. It seems the mate to this one had got rotten with age and water, and the owner had made two new matching pillars. This one, which some, perhaps many men, would have chucked out in the barnyard, was put up for sale. It sold for fifty cents.

“What are you going to do with it?” I asked the wide-hatted farmer who bought it.

“Use it to make an arch over my well,” said he.

The man who sold it got the fifty cents.

“And what will you do with the fifty cents?” I asked him.

“Put it on a young pig,” he smiled.

They Don’t Like To Borrow

Beds by the dozen, little beds, big beds, whole harnesses and bits of harness, a box of live geese, chains, great big logging chains, maple syrup pails, whole rolls of second-hand wire fencing…

“Have you had that chain long?” I asked the farmer who sold the logging chain.

“Just since November,” he said. “I got it here, at the fair. I needed a chain to haul a few logs out of my woodlot. Now I’m through with the chain, and I’ll sell it for maybe a few cents less than I paid for it. I didn’t borrow it. It was mine for the time I wanted it. Now somebody else will want it. I guess that chain has been owned by a good many men. Hauled a good many logs out of the woodlots in this part of the country.”

They don’t like to borrow.

The second-hand wire fencing was in perfect condition. It was as neatly rolled as a new roll. The farmer who was selling it had used it for five years to fence off a small field. It was no longer wanted. Instead of leaving it there to die, he took it down, rolled it up and brought it to the town fair for some other farmer who was just looking for that very thing.

I saw at least twenty men carrying small bits of leather harness over their arms, little straps and gadgets whose names I would never know. But wholly necessary to a horse pulling a plow.

“More than once,” said a farmer who was carrying a pair of those eye blinkers, “I have assembled a whole set of good harness from three or four old sets offered here for sale at the fair. A piece off one. A piece off another. And there I had a full set of harness for a song.”

The strangest thing at the Elmira town fair is the absence of women. Not ten of the bonneted and sombrely dressed Mennonite women were to be seen amongst the four hundred men. And they were entirely on the outskirts of the show. None of the townspeople or Elmira ladies seemed to be present at all.

“It is a men’s show,” said Postmaster O. Weichel of Elmira. “And always has been. No home baking or sausages or that sort of thing. It is a men’s fair, and besides being an institution for trade and commerce, it is a mighty important social institution. the men gathering to talk and gossip about country affairs, they look forward to it with the greatest eagerness. They wouldn’t do without the town fair for anything.”

“Is it as big as it used to be?” I asked.

“Quite as big,” said Mr. Weichel. “Changed a little in character. In early days, it had a certain holiday quality; there used to be fights amongst the men, and factions met here to settle matters after the fair in the time-honored fashion. They used to parade their horses up and down the town streets, showing off their paces.”

Mr. Aumon, the cattle buyer, said it was best described as a “little pig market” because, unquestionably, the largest turnover each fair day was in young pigs.

And in crates behind wagons and in buggies and on cars, the little pigs come to market at Elmira. Clean, tidy little pink pigs, some of them no bigger than bedroom slipper and some of them so big and ferocious they filled a whole cart to themselves.

But it is of the little pigs I would warn you. Their screams are so arousing. Their pinky plumpness is so appealing. And if you are a city person that goes to Elmira town fair, be careful of those baby pigs. They’ll get you. You’ll buy one.

And then where are you?


Editor’s Notes: Elmira is still home to a large population of Old Order Mennonites. Note that in 1935, they would not seem as old-fashioned as they do today.

Topsy Turvy

April 11, 1931

These are some illustrations by Jim for a story by Caesar Smith (a regular contributor to the Star Weekly in the late 1920s and early 1930s) about spring cleaning and decorating.

April 11, 1931

Cannibal City

All big cities are cannibalistic, absorbing what were once independent settlements. Toronto, for instance, includes within its boundaries such almost forgotten places as Chester, Macaulay Town and Leslieville.

By Gregory Clark, April 8, 1933

A big city grows by eating villages.

What gives Toronto that fine big corporation is the fact that in its time It has been cannibal and has engulfed no fewer than fifteen villages.

Not suburbs, mind you. But distinct and separate villages, an hour’s drive away (by buggy) from the city, with their own post-offices, often with their own town halls like Parkdale and Yorkville. And always with their pride.

There is no doubt that Seaton Village in its time had as fine a contempt for Toronto as Hamilton has now, or Newmarket. There may have been people in Seaton Village who thought the day might come when the thriving settlement of Seaton Village might Annex the struggling town of Toronto.

But Seaton Village was swallowed by Toronto. Seaton Village has become the exact population centre of the city of Toronto. Seaton Village is the corner of Bloor and Bathurst.

You do not need a battered old history book or a Baedecker’s Guide to Toronto to find these old villages that have been consumed but not yet digested by the big city. There are streets in Toronto that are village streets. To the very life, there they stand, as they stood almost century ago, and you do not need to half-shut your eyes to feel the illusion. In Yorkville, which is near the corner of Bay and Davenport road; in Dover Court, which is at Bloor and Dovercourt; in Chester, which is the more modern name of a village called Doncaster which stood at the junction of Bloor and Danforth, you will find whole sections of modern streets with quaint small houses of frame and of plaster and some of them of ancient brick, which are for fact village streets. And though they be old they are pretty.

We even found, in our search for the villages Toronto has swallowed, a village pump.

A common pump and a well within the city limits of Toronto. True, it is in Moore Park and down ravine and up a hill. And true, also, that owing to the curious location of this house within the city limits of the proud city of Toronto, they cannot avail themselves of the city’s water supply and must use the old-fashioned well. But there it is, a pump within the city limits, make of it what you like. O Hamilton and O Newmarket.

It is said that two-thirds of the population of Toronto is made up of people born either in the country or in small villages and towns. And they say that every once in a while these people get homesick for the sight of a village. They grow tired of splendor. They yearn for the sights and the sounds of their youth. For the benefit of these, so that they may go on a Sunday for a walk in a village without ever leaving the city limits, we are writing down the location of these country places that even the clang and clatter of cities cannot make to vanish away.

Our Forgotten Villages

Macaulay Town was not an incorporated village. But it was separate and distinct from the village of York, and if it had stood out for its rights it might have bequeathed its name to Toronto. This might have been the noble city of Macaulay Town, twelfth largest city in America. For Macauley Town was out in the suburbs. It was the corner of King and Yonge streets.

When one night stands of actors came to Toronto, if they ever did, they made jokes about Macaulay Town and got a big hand from the Toronto audience sitting there beneath the shadowy candle-lit stage. But you will see no vestige of Macaulay Town at King and Yonge streets to-day. Heigh-ho! The last assessment on the northeast corner WAS $12,500 foot. A thousand dollars an inch, ladies and gents, for Macaulay Town. Which side of our faces shall we laugh on now?

Yorkville was a thriving village, as independent of Toronto as Woodbridge is today. It grew up around the Red Lion Inn, run by Daniel Tiers for the refreshment of farmers coming to Toronto (away down by the lake) with their wagons, after the long hills. Hog’s Holla Hill was bad enough. But the Blue Hill with its terrible clay – but of course the Blue Hill is no more. Toronto looked after that. It filled the valley up with Yonge street. The Blue Hill is gone. Only the memory of it remains in that pretty ravine below Roxborough street as you sail smoothly down Yonge.

Anyway, around the Red Lion grew up the village of Yorkville and you will see authentic village sections on Bellair, Cumberland, Berryman and Scollard streets. The town hall of Yorkville is the barracks of the York Rangers, right on Yonge street. Even on Yonge street itself, at No. 877, you will see a few remnants of the village that refused to come into Toronto’s maw even when Toronto crept up and surrounded it. But a typhoid epidemic broke out in Yorkville, so Yorkville surrendered.

Parkdale is not merely a district. It was a town. It had its town hall and its separate life. So had West Toronto. In their time these towns were as far away from Toronto as Newmarket and Pickering are to-day.

But it is the little villages that are entirely forgotten that we want to remember. Brockton, out at Dundas and Lansdowne; Leslieville, far out east, and Leslie street now remains; Chester, the new-fangled name for Doncaster, standing far, off from the city at Danforth and Broadview. There were no bridges in those days, and to live in Chester was the same as living in Brampton now.

Bracondale has so utterly vanished that it is almost a Forest Hill Village in the style of its residences to-day. But once upon a time Bracondale was a village on the Albion Road, and it had a race track to which sporty Toronto used to drive in buggies, tally-hos and democrats. It was on Davenport road west of Bathurst.

Deer Park, Davisville and Eglinton had their post offices, and it took a day for a letter to get there from the Toronto post-office. Seaton Village at Bathurst and Bloor, Dover Court at Dovercourt and Bloor, and if you want to see some sweet old houses drive along Northumberland street, Shanley and Salem and Delaware. The village of Dover Court was far out the heavy, sandy highway that a century later bears the name of Mr. Jos. Bloor, brewer, of Yorkville. He supplied the Red Lion.

Carlton was a village at St. Clair and the Weston road. And Davenport lay south of it a mile or two, on the road that wandered westward after it had done its original job of bringing Col. Wells, who fought at Waterloo, from Yonge street westward to his lovely estate on the hill, called Davenport. And long after they called the hill Wells, after him.

These are the villages that were born and lived and died, far out from the little city of Toronto. They had their founders, their first families, their good men and their bad men. Two and three generations of men and women called these villages their home before the slow spreading city brought strangers to swamp and destroy their littleness and their peace.

All they have left behind them are names, names of the villages and names of their worthy people. And a few little houses, gabled and plastered, with the look of old violins about them.

For you understand, Toronto was not intended to be a city. It was just to be a fort and a military supply depot.

Governor Simcoe intended London on the Thames to be the big city of the far west of Canada. Toronto was just to be a fork in the military highways; the main one from Montreal to Detroit, and a branch one from Toronto to Penetang.

But gentry like forts. Around forts gather not merely the officers and men of the fort, but the retired officers of the Duke of Wellington and the Napoleonic wars. And being gentry they like land. Not just a house and lot. But a thousand acres of land. They like to write home to England:

“I have acquired by grants from the Crown one thousand acres of land lying on a beautiful country northward of the fort at York. I have already found, amidst the bush, a hill which will some day make a delightful site for a mansion.”

And mansions started to sprout all over the wide and unexplored country that is now Bloor street and Spadina and Lansdowne and St. Clair. You can have no idea how astonished and indignant the old gentlemen of these fine country mansions would have been if they had been informed that within the time of their grandchildren all these handsome acres would be cut into twenty and thirty foot lots and houses packed on them like cells in a bee-hive, with commerce clattering through streets as hard as a ball room floor.

The Denisons were amongst the noblest of the gentry and their great house was called Dover Court. Far out in the country. A great plantation. Around them grew the village of Dover Court. Today the name remains.

Sherrif Jarvis, after smacking down the rebels, got a large piece of country far to the north and cut off from all possible contamination from the south by a great ravine. He called his fine house Rosedale. No village grew there. But his descendants decided, half a century ago, seeing the swelling city to the south, to subdivide the crown grant into exclusive country Villas for the better-class watchmakers and flour and feed dealers who amassed a little something. So they cut crooked streets and winding lanes and they came to call that suburban retreat Rosedale.

Every Old Family Wanted One

The lieutenant-governor had a summer home far out in the country. He called it Castle Frank.

The Baldwins were great property holders in the olden days and they had a house far north of the fort called Spadina, a pretty Indian word they got from the Indians who used to come and sit around the mansion’s door yard, smoking and thinking. The Baldwins were great people and they dreamed of a broad Avenue some day coming straight up from the lake and from the fort, an avenue lined with splendid trees, up which the military could come in their carriages.

The broad avenue came, but the mansion called Spadina is vanished. No military ride up to it in carriages from the fort. Elizabeth and Phoebe and Maria, Russell, Warren, Bedford are all Baldwin names.

Colonel Wells, who was bursar of King’s College, by Jove, had to have a road cut through the woods to his fine house on the ridge, the fine house called Davenport. The people of Yorkville built houses along that road and they called it Davenport road out of respect to the residence to which it led. Then it went on, as roads do, past Davenport, that big house on the hilltop. And after it went on, out into the country, they called it the Albion road, as it led in time to Albion township, where some fine farmers lived. But the village of Carlton grew up on the Albion road, far to the west (the stockyards are the odor of the sanctity of Carlton) and some people began calling the Albion road Carlton street, while those nearer Yorkville continued to call it the Davenport road. Names take time to digest, in cannibalism.

Colonel Walter O’Hara, one of the squires, served under Wellington and he gave the names Sorauren and Roncesvalles to roads around his country estate after battles in the Peninsular War.

To understand the building of the jig-saw puzzle which is the evolution of a city we must remember that, only a century ago, hundreds of cross roads in this part of Ontario had taverns on them. To-day these cross roads that you pass without a glance are merely four fence corners. Not a stone, not an old plank, remains of a once busy cross roads hamlet, consisting of a tavern, stables and a house or two. For in those days, with no railroads, the settlers had to haul their grain and their cattle or hogs down incredible gumbo roads to the markets along the lake shore. They needed many a resting place, many a place of refreshment for man and beast.

For the fifteen villages that have been the jig-saws out of which the puzzlers have constructed the city of Toronto, in the province of Ontario as a whole, a thousand hamlets have either vanished entirely or are almost nameless cross-road communities of twenty or thirty souls.

Those who were gentry already when they came here, a century ago, or those who had the wit and brains to hope to be gentry some day obtained very large land grants, not of hundred acres, but of a thousand or more acres. They employed men. These workers settled nearby. Immediately other humbler settlers in the neighborhood became in some degree dependent on these gentry who built large mansions, cleared large acreages and built roads out to the highways leading to York. They had visions of a civilization like the Old Country, in which great estates, with splendid houses, would grace the land from end to end. Probably not one of the pioneer landed gentry ever hoped that Toronto would be more than a small, thriving country town.

The railroads came and promptly dealt the death blow to thousands of cross road villages. The farmers no longer had to haul their produce two and three day journeys past a score of wayside taverns and resting places. The day the railroads started the great cleft or abyss between city and country was created.

Summerhill, Woodlawn, Oaklands, Rathnally, Deer Park were the names of big houses set amidst broad plantations in the new colony that was to have for its centre and heart the fort down by the lake; and the little town of Toronto to feed it supplies. It would have been a long journey in a stage conch to the big city of London, where Canada’s parliament buildings were to be. But these gentry of York preferred the sweet country life to raging cities. They preferred a thousand acres, with a lovely old house in the midst, and little villages of workers for their broad farms, conveniently hidden in some gully, out of sight of the big house. From the big houses the beautiful daughters could go walking through the country lanes and pay kindly visits to the farm laborers’ villages nearby. Each family wanted a village.

Fifteen of them got villages.

And the grandchildren of the happy villagers are lords and justices, princes of money and of land.

Out in the country, far from the madding crowd, these grandchildren of the villagers are buying spacious farms and building handsome houses, where they can enjoy the sweet country life.

And their lovely daughters can spin down in scarlet roadsters to the villages, their villages, Pickering, Newmarket, Oakville, to buy cigarettes and a new vanity dab.

And the great city, like water spreading, like oil dripping, slowly spreads and crawls outward, outward, grasping, encircling, engulfing.

Cannibal city.


Editor’s Notes: These sorts of articles are interesting to me, since we can now read an 88 year-old article that describes the previous 100 years. It shows what may have still existed at the time, and can make us reflect on all that existed then which is no more. And he is describing the pre-1998 Toronto too. The whole history of Toronto Amalgamation over the years can be found here. Jim provided the creepy illustration.

Why Not A School Of Politeness For Minor Public Officials?

No Truth in the Rumor That the New Ontario Government Has Decided to Set Up Such an Institution – Possible Students Who Might Benefit by a Course.

Failing the School, Why Not Arm an Inspector With an Ammonia Pistol and Send Him Out in Search of Offenders Against the Meek and Lowly Common People?

By Gregory Clark, April 3, 1920

The report that the new Ontario Government is to open a School for Minor Public Officials seems to be unfounded.

I have interviewed several of the Cabinet Ministers on the subject, but not even the Deputy Ministers know anything about it.

The original rumor was to the effect that the UFO-Labor Government on behalf of the humble citizens of the Province, was going to open a college for the teaching of the elements of politeness, courtesy and the spirit of public service to all minor officials in the Government’s employ. The idea was to have not only Provincial minor officials but all other public officials, municipal and even Dominion, drilled and diplomad from the school.

Thus every one from the little girls who accept registered letters at the post office up to the elderly old gents who guard the mummies and insects at the Royal Ontario Museum, would be schooled in how to avoid offending or angering the public.

Hitherto, our politicians and men of power have been of that urbane and swell type which is always instantly recognized and kow-towed to by our minor officials. Ask any of the Cabinet Ministers of the past twenty years what he thought of the minor public officials, such as wicket-clerks or door-swingers, and he would reply:

“Why, I always found them most agreeable and very polite.”

Of course he did. And that was why we poor, unimpressive people always got such rough handling.

The minor official knows his public. He salaams to the swells and recovers his self-respect by bullying the plain citizen.

But as the new Government contains no swells at all, and as it is said several of our Cabinet Ministers have already had distressing encounters with petty officials who mistook them for ordinary citizens, it was hoped some such school of courtesy would be established.

However, if there is not to be a school, there is at least this consolation: that hundreds of public door-keepers, stamp-lickers and others of the minor degrees are having an unhappy time trying to pick Cabinet Ministers and influential members out of the common herd.

A few Sundays ago we visited the Royal Ontario Museum. There was an old gentleman engaged in twining the turnstile gate that admits the public. The gate would turn without his aid, but still he was turning it.

As we tried to enter, he stuck out his arm and cried:

“Stand back.”

“What’s the trouble?” we asked.

“You can’t come in here with that cane!” he replied.

“Oh,” we replied, agreeably, and turning, beheld a cane rack, with several canes and umbrellas in it. We walked over to it to place our cane.

“Hyah!” roared the old man at the turnstile.

We halted irresolute. The old fellow passed three or four more people through his turnstile and then strode over to us.

It appears, after all this bustle, that one is not permitted to take walking sticks into the Museum, but that sticks are taken and carefully checked by this old gentleman.

The school of courtesy would have done away with all this confusion and excitement by teaching the old fellow to say, as a citizen, approached with a cane –

“Just a moment, and I will check your walking stick.”

Inside the Museum, while looking at a glass case full of insects, we unfortunately placed the tip of one finger on the glass, to point out one particular specimen.

Instantly, from a far side of the room, another old boy in uniform bore down on us, crying –

“Say, do you want to give me six hours work to-morrow?”

“No. How’s that?” we replied.

“Well keep your hands off them glass cases,” replied the official, and strode onward in the performance of his public office.

The school would have taught him to say –

“Please keep hands off the cases, gentlemen, as I am an old man and don’t like extra work.”

The Museum is a beautiful and interesting institution, but it is difficult to enjoy the exhibits on account of one’s mind being startled and offended by petty officials making obscure assaults on one’s self on others or endlessly pursuing children from room to room.

Clerks, janitors and many other minor officials similarly disturb the honest citizen’s peace. The mistake most of them make is in presuming that certain facts well known to themselves should be perfectly well-known to all men.

The clerk who has been saying “Sign there!” a hundred times a day for twenty years knows perfectly well where “there” is. And it irritates him sorely to discover people, day after day, who haven’t any idea where “there” is, and who want to be shown.

When you hand a letter in the wrong wicket at the Post Office, it peeves beyond words the pert young lady or the scraggly man in the wicket. Haven’t you eyes? Can’t you see the sign over the wickets telling you just which is which? Why, she or he knows this office as well as they know their own names. What’s the matter with most people anyway?

The tax official thinks all men are experienced tax payers; to the record clerk, all men are acquainted with records; to the door keeper, all men are familiar with buildings.

But, of course, there are two sides of the question.

“You must admit,” says a well-known and always courteous member of the City Assessment Department, whose imperturbable good manners are one of the marvels of the City Hall, “you must admit there are people who go out of their way to be insolent and overbearing with public officials. Then there are others so stupid you wonder how they escape in the traffic. These types are only exceptions, but they sorely try an official’s temper as time goes on. There is, I believe, the official temperament. Officials would be chosen for an unrufflable and easy manner that quails not before the bully nor flares up with the dunderhead. But unfortunately, there are some in public positions who cringe before the bully or the official superior to them, and who seek to restore the balance of their dignity (or to get even) by bullying the decent quiet citizen.”

Seeing the Government is not going to institute a school for courtesy, there should at least be an official chosen yearly from the ranks of the polloi whose sole duty it would be to seek out and bring to court all insolent, rude or bullying public officials.

This Inspector should be a man of small stature and meek and humble bearing.

He should be armed with a large ammonia pistol or squirt gun.

On being subjected to any official insolence, he would’ whip out his squirt gun, shoot the ammonia into the tyrant’s face and drag the unconscious form before the Civil Service Commission.

The reason I insert the squirt gun is because this admits of that element of retaliation without which I, first applicant for the job, would feel unappeased.


Editor’s Note: There is no illustration to go with this tongue-in-cheek article by Greg, from over 100 years ago. In 1919, the United Farmers of Ontario won the provincial election, and formed a coalition government with the Labour party. This shocked the establishment, as the UFO members elected were mainly made up of ordinary people, and not the usual higher society people of the Conservative or Liberal parties. The joke is minor officials would not know who to suck up to. The surprise was probably not that much different than the more recent 1990 win by the provincial NDP. A popular joke from 1990 is of rich Bay Street financiers fretting over the NDP win, and one proclaiming “don’t worry, my cleaning lady is the new Minister of Finance!”

If Everybody Helps

By Gregory Clark, March 24, 1928

Mr. Fred Roy of Peterboro startled the committee of the legislature on fish and game the other day when he stated:

“Bank clearings last season showed that tourists had left, during the two summer months, in Peterboro and district the sum of $507,000!”

Cash.

The Ontario government announced that last year tourists had left in Ontario the sum of 80 million dollars.

Premier Ferguson is known to have made a separate estimate. His guess is that the tourists left in Ontario last season 150 million dollars.

In 1910, at the request of the late Sir James Whitney, a special commissioner made a two-year investigation of the fish and game question in Ontario, and brought in a report demanding many fundamental changes in the system of administration.

At that time – 1910 – the commissioner said more importance should be attached to fish and game, since the tourist traffic was estimated to be bringing into Ontario something like $800,000.

Of course, the report was filed. Nothing was done about it. The tourist traffic has swelled from less than a million to 150 millions.

Each year, since 1910, has seen a vaster tidal wave of tourists overwhelming the lakes and streams of Ontario.

The motor car has pushed into the farther wilderness. The motor boat has advanced with the car.

Nature cannot stand such overwhelming onslaughts – all the northern states testify to that.

Oddly enough, it is not the bankers and boards of trade, merchants and hotelkeepers who to-day are roaring at the tops of their voices about the dangerous situation as regards the game fisheries of the province. It is the sportsmen. They are anxious about the tourist traffic. But they are anxious merely because they see their own sport on the verge of ruin.

This week there was founded in Toronto an organization of sportsmen known as the Ontario Federation of Anglers. It embraces a large number of local sportsmen’s clubs.

And all they want from the government is an investigation.

They want to know why the government always takes half the yearly revenue of fish and game and puts it into the general treasury? Why the hatcheries of the province are still turning out commercial fish almost to the exclusion of game fish? Why the hatcheries are still functioning on a theory that has been exploded for at least five years? Why there are only 75 game overseers in all Ontario, from Manitoba to Quebec? Why the game overseers are not on a proper police basis in regard to age and qualifications? Why middle-aged and sometimes elderly men are actually appointed to the warden’s job? Why the department has not kept in proper touch with propagation work in adjoining states?

Our Hatchery Practice a Joke

The sportsmen want a commission – a small, powerful, thoroughly financed commission that can get action before that hour, somewhere within the next five years, when successive and overwhelming tidal waves of tourists shall have skinned the game fish of the province to the vanishing point.

Certainly the most unfortunate factor in the whole situation is the general belief, cheerfully entertained by the government as well as by the public, that plenty of hatcheries and generous restocking would make up, at any time, for the wholesale slaughter of game fish.

It is rather a horrible discovery that we have recently made.

We have discovered that a point may easily be reached where restocking is impossible.

In the first place we have fished, for forty years, for the game fish alone, bass, trout, muskies. We have left the rival fish to multiply unchecked.

Now the few remaining bass try to propagate. They raise their broods. The little bass less than an inch long are suddenly left to shift for themselves. But there are, in the shore waters with the little bass, a thousand sunfish and perch where, in the old balance of nature, there used to be ten. And the chances of any of those baby bass maturing are practically nil.

It is the same with other species of fish. The rivals or enemy fish have been left unmolested. Their normal enemy, the game fish, are nearly gone. It must be a great day for a sunfish!

Then we have dammed lakes and changed their levels, altered their temperatures thereby. Weeds are growing in lakes that never know of weeds fifteen years ago.

Pollution by mills, factories, creameries, is doing its share.

And instead of diminishing, the rods that eternally seek the game fish are increasing in a sort of geometric rate of progression every year.

What is the government doing?

It is busy with its solemn business. It continues to rake off half the income of game and fisheries and turn it into the treasury.

Instead of spending a few dollars to send its officials down to Pennsylvania or New Jersey to see what hatchery practice has come to, it continues to raise millions of fry and distribute them according to a theory that has been disposed of long ago.

Ontario’s hatchery practice has been a great joke for many years. Rather than continue the farce, the sportsmen of Ontario would rather see them all closed up until such time as they can be organized on a proper basis.

Planting Fry is Wrong

In the first place, the hatcheries of Ontario produce almost exclusively the fry of commercial fish -whitefish, herring and pickerel. These fry are taken out in cans almost as soon as they hatch – poor, frail, infinitely small wrigglers of a quarter of an inch or so – and are dumped into the lakes. Whether they live or not nobody can possibly tell.

In the first place, these twelve-gallon cans of water are supposed to hold 50,000 fry, at least. Now, before this can of fry can be dumped into the open lake the water temperature in the lake and in the can must be equalized. If you dump the can as it comes from the hatchery right into the cold lake the fry will be instantly killed by the shock. The job of equalizing the temperature of the water in that can of 50,000 fry is a very delicate one. It requires care and cleverness.

Care and cleverness, of course, may be applied.

Why does the government plant this tiny fry? Why not hold the fry until it is older and better able to shift for itself when dumped loose in the middle of the lake?

Because they cannot hold them. They would die if held at the hatcheries beyond a certain time.

Now! Game fish.

For years Ontario has raised a fine showing of speckled trout on its annual reports.

Page after page of the blue book shows speckled trout distributed – ten thousand here, twenty thousand there. At the rate in which trout have been distributed over old and new Ontario in the past ten years the streams should fairly be bursting with fish.

But they are not. The trout that were shipped out, all these years, were fry, mostly. They were shipped in twelve-gallon cans, to those who applied – with political assistance – for trout fry.

The best possible practice nowadays for planting even advanced fry or small fingerlings is so complex and careful a procedure that it is very doubtful if a fraction of one per cent of all that tremendous planting of trout fry has been effective.

It you had a stream in which you felt you would like to plant some speckled trout, you filled out a proper application form.

In due time you would receive telegraphic notice that the fry would be shipped on a certain train. You must be there to meet the shipment and transport it to the stream.

A hatchery employee usually went with these shipments, but his duty was to accompany a large number of cans, aerate them during the train journey, and see them safely off the train at a series of destinations. Hatchery men did not accompany each shipment. The government did not even know the nature of the stream the fry were going into. Six or seven or more lots would be shipped in the care of one man, and the minute he had unloaded a set of cans at a station platform that was the last of it, as far as he was concerned.

What the recipient should have done was this. He should be right there to meet the cans with a conveyance. The cans should have been transported at once to the water they were destined for. During the drive one man should have constantly aerated the water by means of a dipper.

An Out-of-Date System

On arriving at the stream the cans should have been placed in the stream to cool, and by means of dipping water out of the cans and dipping stream water back into the cans, the temperatures of the water in the can with that of the stream should have been equalized.

Then, carrying a can at a time, the fry should have been taken to what are called “feeder brooks” – small, sheltered little runnels leading into the main brook, sheltered, free of enemy fish, with a known constant supply of fresh, spring water.

And into these feeders the fry should have been dipped, a few here, a few there, so scattering them where they could survive enemies as well as find a fair food supply.

The number of these thousands of cans of trout that have been received at the station, left standing about for hours and finally carried to the open stream and just dumped in any way would unquestionably exceed those that had been handled with scientific care.

Yet – it is now doubted If five per cent of the fry handled in the foregoing so-called proper method would survive!

In other words, how much of this hatchery hocus pocus for years past has been merely a waste of time and public money?

A few examples of what has been going on in regard to hatcheries is worth recounting.

The fish car “Beaver” was bought second-hand from the United States. It never was up to-date in its equipment. Now it has been condemned even from the railroad point of view, and can only be operated on the tail-end of a way freight. For handling live fish, it is hardly the thing, so most of the shipping is done via the baggage cars of the C.N.R. or C.P.R.

The Glenora hatchery, which was opened a few years ago with much whoop and hurrah, is so unsuited to hatchery work that all the fish in it have to be got rid of before June, because the temperature of the water then rises so high as to kill the fish. When it was opened 100,000 trout were shipped from the Soo hatchery. Fifteen thousand are said to have died in transit. Eighty thousand are reported as having died in the water of the hatchery. The remaining five thousand were hurriedly got rid of in the nearest crick to the hatchery.

For several years past all the states bordering on Canada have known that fry planting has been useless and they have equipped their hatcheries with rearing ponds into which the fry from the troughs are transferred and raised to fingerling size before being distributed to the streams.

Some of the acts connected with hatcheries seem incredible. In 1924, in the month of June, when the trout fingerlings were two inches long or better, 50,000 of them were shipped to the Fleming river, in the Thunder Bay district, from the Mount Pleasant hatchery, near Brantford, Ontario – something like seven hundred miles.

These 50,000 were shipped in forty cans – that works out at 1,250 fingerlings to a twelve-gallon can – for a 700-mile train journey!

A hatchery man went with the shipments, and no doubt he sat up all night in the baggage car, refreshing the water and icing it.

The Fleming river may or may not be a trout stream. It is believed to have plenty of pike in it.

The distance from the railway station which this one hatchery man had to transport those forty twelve-gallon cans containing 50,000 trout was about 300 yards. No doubt, also, he distributed these 50,000 trout carefully over several miles of the stream! No doubt each of the forty cans was carefully equalized in temperature with the stream.

From the same hatchery, the same month, another 50,000 shipment, in 40 cans, went to the White Sand river in Thunder Bay.

We’re Importing Trout Eggs!

In the same month, from the same hatchery, 50,000 June fingerlings were released in Eugenia Pond, near Flesherton. Mount Pleasant produced a great quantity of trout that season, and they were widely distributed. Those anglers who have fished patiently by the hour in Eugenia Pond and never caught one trout would be interested to know where the 50,000 went. In 1922 122,000 speckled trout fry were released in Eugenia Pond. In 1923 100,000; in 1924, 50,000. By the time the pond was opened to fishing, in 1926, those fish should have been well grown. Nothing points the finger of mockery at Ontario’s hatchery practice more than Eugenia Pond.

The speckled trout try and fingerlings raised, according to the government reports since 1921, were:

1921……………….1,147,500

1922………………..2,184,000

1923………………..2,238,800

1924………………..1,898,500

1925………………..676,000

1926……………….1,085,300

The story of Ontario’s effort to raise bass is not even as heroic. The Mount Pleasant hatchery has seven ponds, but instead of employing these for rearing trout to advanced fingerling stage or better, they were the scene of an attempt to propagate black bass. The parent bass, about 1,500 of them, were taken in pound nets, either from Port Rowan or Mitchell’s Bay in Lake St. Clair, and transported by crate, truck and the fish car “Beaver” and by truck again, to the Mount Pleasant hatchery. Here they were released in the ponds, and those which nested after their unhappy journeying in barrels were robbed of their babies few days after they hatched and rose from the nests, and these tiny bass fry, after being kept a short period within the troughs of the hatchery, were shipped to their various destinations by the same process as the trout, and liberated with the same element of chance or mischance, and about an equal hope of them surviving.

In distributing fry the government was doing merely what the sportsmen have been doing, and from the same motive – ignorance. The sportsmen, starting to fish on June 15, have been catching the male bass off the nest, where he was engaged for two or three weeks, in guarding the nest until the fry were old enough to hide in the weeds. The fry distributed from the hatcheries were often so small they had not absorbed the yolk sack and could not swim!

Two years ago the government employed its first trained biologist. A new principle was adopted whereby the biologist inspects all water before applications for trout fry are filled. There is also a new note to the effect that the hatchery man who takes the shipment of fry must see it distributed according to the best theory.

This has greatly cut down the amount of fry produced by the hatcheries. And it will take a little time to tell whether there is any good effect felt.

But in the meantime the government visits such places as Eugenia Pond, which it has stocked so handsomely, in the effort to collect trout eggs, and fails with nets to catch enough trout to get eggs for any purpose. It visits Dorset, with the same result.

So it imports trout eggs from the United States hatcheries!

For several years past it has purchased large quantities of trout eggs, running into several thousands of dollars, from United States hatcheries with which to stock the depleted trout streams of Canada for the benefit of the American tourist!

American Plan Far Better

A full Investigation of the hatcheries of Ontario is long overdue.

New Jersey, which has the most advanced hatchery practice in America, under the direction of Charles O. Hayford, does not believe in distributing fry at all. Last season New Jersey raised and distributed from its 192 ponds as Hackettstown 297,200 speckled trout from 6 to 16 inches in length, and 533,900 fry and fingerlings sent to sportsmen’s organizations to be reared in the rearing ponds kept up by the sportsmen, who will distribute the adult fish to the public waters of the state.

And New Jersey also raised last season 498,083 small mouth bass two to three inches long before they left the hatchery at all.

Ontario raised no bass at all in 1925, and reports 12,500 bass fry for 1926, fry, of course.

One of the quaint touches in regard to the bass raising by Ontario is the rumor that a goodly percentage of the bass shipped from Mount Pleasant were sticklebacks, which never grew to more than minnow size.

There is a way out of this muddle. Ontario could take some of the three million dollars to has saved in annual surpluses in the last ten years off fish and game and apply it to building modern hatcheries with rearing ponds for the raising of the fish to adult size before distributing them. A modern fish car should do the distributing, with a staff of biologists – cheap at a hundred times the price – to supervise all planting.

Or Ontario could adopt the American plan of game restoration.

This lets everybody help.

It is a very simple scheme. The government breeds and produces the fry.

The sportsmen take the fry and rear them to safe size for transplanting.

In other words, all the sportsmen’s organizations in the province – if they really mean business – would get together, under expert government biologist’s supervision, build a series of rearing ponds in their locality, and assume full responsibility for them.

Then the government would ship the fry from the hatcheries to these rearing ponds. When the fish were of sufficient size to be released – say in the fall of the year – the government biologist would again supervise the distribution the fingerlings in the public streams of the neighborhood. The sportsmen would have to help. Toronto associations, not being on the spot – could support its rearing pond somewhere up the country. The smaller local organizations could actually turn out and help dig the ponds, cart the gravel, and do the work of distributing the fish in the fall. It would be fun.

And the streams would then have fish in them.

The game restoration plan is already being worked in Ontario in connection with pheasants. Farmers are doing with pheasants what the associations should do with trout and bass. They should rear them.

This removes a tremendous expense from the government. And under this scheme the government could cut down its hatchery production to the exact quantity asked for by the sportsmen who have the rearing ponds. Quality of product, not quantity, would then be the rule.

Sportsmen in Ontario are now looking forward to a small compact commission or committee to investigate the whole problem of game fish. Such a commission would meet the sportsmen’s organizations and be in a position to put it up to the sportsmen to undertake a fair share of the work of restoring fish to our waters.

If sportsmen are not willing to undertake the job then the whole problem must subside one more into the political pickle it has been in for thirty years past.

Hazing a Real Barbaric Act at Varsity Thirty Years Ago

March 15, 1924

This illustration by Jim accompanied an article by Fred Griffin about hazing rituals at the University of Toronto’s University College. Apparently, in the 1880s and 1890s, there was a “secret society” in the “old residence” called the K.K.K. (It seemed to have no affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan).

Real Stories of the War, Told by Returned Soldiers

March 8, 1919

Jim produced two illustrations for a selection of short anecdotes that were published in the Star Weekly from submissions from veterans of the Great War. The newspaper offered cash prizes. The first illustration was from the first prize ($10) winner “Captured by the Relief”.

March 8, 1919

The second illustration was from the second prize ($5) winner “Huns Behind our Lines”. All other winners of stories published received $1. $1 in 1919 is about $13.50 in 2020.

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