The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Tag: 1928 Page 1 of 2

Yachting in the Sky

By Gregory Clark, September 1, 1928.

A Trip in a Dirigible is Something New in Flying

You ask the kind of fellow who likes flying what flying is like and he brightens up perceptibly and says:

“Oh, it’s great. Great stuff.”

“But what’s it like? Tell us something about it.”

And his vivid eyes in his wind-red face stare anxiously at space as he bites his lips, trying to think.

For those who like flying as a rule are feelers, not thinkers. And how can you describe feelings? How would you describe the taste of oysters?

When the Goodyear people were kind enough to offer The Star Weekly a nice long ride in their little dirigible, “The Puritan,” we decided that here was a good chance to describe one aspect of flying – height.

So we took the train down to Akron, the Goodyear city, and at six o’clock in the morning, climbed the ladder into the four-passenger gondola of the little airship to fly to Toronto. We had aboard a hundred gallons of gas, because there was a strong east wind blowing, and as the dirigible only makes a true speed of about fifty miles an hour, the head wind would cut it down to thirty or thirty-five, just as a wind behind us would boost our speed to sixty-five or seventy. And in addition to the pilot, Jack Boettler, who is about a hundred and eighty pounds, besides being the acknowledged best airship pilot in America and who taught the United States Navy most of what it knows about blimps, there was August O’Neil, the boss mechanic, who is another near six-footer, and H. E. Blythe, assistant to the president of the Goodyear corporation in the States, who wears forty-twos.

Seeing old navy blimps at Folkestone during the war, I had the notion that a dirigible was a kind of balloon with a propeller and that it floated along through the air aided and abetted by an engine that helped it on its way.

I did not know It could put its nose straight up in the air and shoot skyward like a rocket, or pointing Its nose to earth, dive like a plummet.

But when we were all aboard at Akron, with twenty men hanging on to our drag ropes and removing the heavy sand bags that held us down, the ground crew slowly hauled us out of the great hangar, and at a word of command let go the ropes.

The two engines, one on each side of the gondola, roared, and with a rush and a whoosh, the little dirigible pointed its nose to the sky and leaped, in a breath-taking instant, to a height of a thousand feet. I have taken off as a passenger, in Bristol Fighters, RE 8’s and big, modern five-passenger planes, but nothing I ever felt, not even New York elevators, shot me aloft quite so suddenly and swiftly, as this little airship that I was cheerfully expecting to float off the ground like thistle down.

Quite Different to a Plane

When you look at it, silver and glistening and huge, crawling through the air, it looks so smooth and bloated, you cannot imagine it is hitting up a speed that would make your motor car vibrate even on a pavement.

The sensation in a balloon is utterly unlike that in a plane. They call it an airship. And a ship it is. It rides the waves of air.

The sky is filled with great rollers, rapids, backwaters, eddies, currents. When an aeroplane goes tearing through the sky, it is smashing and backing these waves and pockets. Sometimes a plane will drop, with a sickening sensation, scores or hundreds of feet into an unseen abyss in the ether.

But the airship slowly and cheerfully heaves up over these air waves, lifts her nose to the near side and dips her nose down into the far side of them. In the aeroplane, the pilot is continually fiddling and manoeuvring with his stick as the plane rushes and leaps, like a sea flea, over the air currents. In the blimp, the pilot, sitting back in his easy chair, in a nice little cabin hung in space, has a large wheel beside him, like a ship’s wheel turned sideways. This is the elevator control. When the ship lifts her nose on a roller, he depresses the elevator. And when she rides across the top and starts down the far side of the unseen, heaving waves of air, he lifts her nose.

There is no sensation of speed, of tumult, of force. The vibration and frenzy of the aeroplane do not exist. The big fat bag can be seen looming above, out of the windows of the gondola. The gondola is about the size of a limousine, with four chairs. It has windows all around, and the ones beside you open so that you can rest your elbow out them and see the world go by.

There being nothing between you and the earth, there is no sensation of dizziness or of great height. I get slightly sick when I look over the top of the new Star building. I let my wife hang pictures and put new bulbs in the light fixtures. But when you look over the side of an aeroplane or an airship, you simply don’t believe it anyway. So it doesn’t hurt your feelings.

The world seems to contract. Grow small. Trees and houses and fences become tiny, like the toy farms and houses you buy the boy for Christmas. And ever so much prettier than they look close up. They seem clean and ordered. All the stains and dirt are lost to sight. Toronto is one of the most beautiful sights in the world from a thousand feet above it. The wild geese must have a very great respect and admiration for men.

Leaving Akron, we leaped, with not merely engines hoisting us, but a huge helium-filled gas bag, to a thousand feet, and Pilot Boettler tested the air. That is, he turned his nose into the wind and found it strong and bucking hard. So little by little, he steered the ship lower and lower, as he began the drive northward towards Lake Erie, until he found the altitude at which the air was least disturbed by boiling currents and heaving waves, and the wind mild and steady. It was at about four hundred feet that we made the first few miles of the journey.

Like a Monstrous Flying Pig

That is the one great cardinal virtue of airships. You can fly so low, with a good margin of safety. Pilot Boettler dropped us down to two hundred feet in some places to have a look at the ground. An aeroplane rushes along at such a pace, the scene is blurred if you are low, and if you are high enough for a safety margin, the earth is in map-like miniature.

We sailed along, like yachting, so low that we could wave to the farm children that ran out to see us passing. We could see their faces. I noted and identified two kinds of hawks floating in the air beneath us. We put the wind up the bird world something terribly, for an atavistic memory made them dream for an instant of ichthyosauri and other monsters that flew in vastly bygone ages.

Cows were the least moved of all creation by our appearance. A few went so far as to rise clumsily to their feet as we sailed over. But most of them went right on biting grass. It takes a lot to make a cow worry about the future. But pigs!

You see, a blimp looks something like a monstrous flying pig. It is huge and fat and sleek.

We arrived low over a field in which there was a litter of seven or eight pigs about the size of spaniels. They were busy in a bunch when suddenly they saw – well, maybe they thought it was the god of pigs coming down to earth! Anyway, they stood in a circle for a moment, in consternation, heads lowered, turned aside, afraid to believe their eyes and ears. Here was the hugest pig imaginable, with the longest sustained grunt and squeal they had ever heard, and it was making right for them.

Then as we approached, and they believed, they broke and fled, scampering in a tight, tangled mass, simply crazy with fright. But pigs can’t run fifty miles an hour, so we overtook them, and they halted suddenly, all in a frantic heap, and stood, with heads lowered and hidden, until we passed with a roar over them.

And then – when we had passed, they pursued us, chased desperately across the field in our path, until a fence halted them. I imagine they stood for some time, squealing their supplications after us as the god of pigdom.

Horses when we appeared would lash their tails and scam per excitedly around the field, first away from us and then, with a kind of arch-necked bravado, right towards us.

It is not far, by air, from Akron to Toronto. But we went across Lake Erle between Chatham and St. Thomas, and then passed over London, Woodstock, Brantford and Hamilton on a kind of sightseeing tour. Yet this journey took us nine straight continuous flying hours. We left at six a.m. and we landed on the Goodyear lawn at New Toronto at 3p.m., a working day of nine hours steadily plodding through the air against an east wind that sometimes was a young gale.

A Nice Sleep in the Air

We were two hours crossing Lake Erie, two hours with nothing but the steel-gray lake eight hundred feet below us, with little gulls waving out of our course far below. Mr. Blythe leaned back in his deck chair and had a nice sleep over Lake Erie. We passed a number of freighters that seemed to be stopped, so smartly did we outdistance them, even though bucking a wind. They were toy ships. I wanted one for my boy, but Captain Boettler said it probably belonged to somebody anyway.

When we came at last to the Canadian side, we did not know the precise locality on account of the possible drift that had occurred over the lake, so we saw, just a little way inland, a railway, and on the railway a station and a village.

Captain Boettler pointed the ship’s nose at the village, ran down to within a hundred feet, shut down his engines! – that was a curious thing to one who had flown in a plane – slowed them down until they idled, and the ship just hung there in space about a hundred feet above the village while we read the name on the station. West Lorne. Then we waved good-by, thank you, tilted the prow upwards, turned on the engine and went soaring away while the pilot got out his map, located our position and laid a course across country for London. He has a compass floating in front of him.

Canada seems to be so much more cultivated than the part of the States we passed over.

Every field that is not woodlot is under cultivation. The fields are laid out better in orderly lots with fences. But the farm houses lack the paint and color of the American farms.

Every few miles, the air currents would shift and change. Where it was best riding a four hundred feet at West Lorne, it was much quieter at eight hundred as we neared London. The pilot, sitting back in his chair, with his feet cocked up on the railing in front of him, with a sort of bay window in it that made it feel as if he were sitting in an old fashioned hotel settin’ room, the pilot would keep the ship’s nose on the course and lift and lower her over hundred-foot waves that sometimes rolled under us.

It was exactly like yachting. When we heaved up over a wave, the ship’s nose would veer to one side or the other, and the rudder, which is controlled by foot pedals, would have to correct her direction while the elevator wheel kept her on an even keel.

Landing on a Dollar Bill

Nine hours is a long time to fly, or even to motor, without once getting down to stetch your legs or eat a little lunch. It was a relief to come at last out over the mountain at Hamilton, where fierce air rapids boiled and rushed up and over the great wooded cliffs. We swooped and slid about on them as Captain Boettler aimed her down, down into the valley and over the lake, heading for Toronto, and able from our height, already to see the tall white towers of Toronto that are beginning to make it a city against the sky.

We sailed over the Exhibition, just to let Mr. Blythe see what Toronto can do in that sort of thing.

“Sail her over high and do a dive,” I said to the plot. “These people think this is just a balloon. They don’t know it can stunt.”

So we dove and climbed while I shot pictures out the window with a camera – none of which turned out because the developer did not know they were panchromatic plates. And the views of the crowd from on high were failure.

When we turned back to New Toronto the Goodyear plant, and hovered over the vast factory, I could not figure out how Boettler was going to dock his sky ship on so small a piece of ground. There were chimneys al about and the recreation ground was hemmed in by houses and telegraph lines.

“Oh,” said Mr. Blythe “he can land on a dollar bill!”

Far below, we saw the ground crew of two men waiting on the grass. We sailed down wind, turned nose into the wind and suddenly, startlingly. Boettler swung the nose of the ship straight down. And with engines on, we dove at forty-five degrees straight for the landing ground. With a whirl of the wheel, he flattened her out, slacked off his engines, dropped the long trailing ropes that had been coiled up, and the ground crew had us. Sand bags were slung on. And there we were, riding on our single tire, with ladder dropped from the cabin door.

But the first thing that happened as we set foot on the ground, a young man in blue stepped forward:

“Any baggage, Mr. Clark?”

“Yes. My valise here.”

“Would you open it, please?”

“Eh? Really?”

“Yes, please. I’m from the Customs.”

I thought he was joking. But he was not. He was an officer of the Customs.

So even if I did smoke Luckies, which for mercy’s sake I don’t, it wouldn’t have done any good smuggling by air.


Editor’s Notes: Bristol Fighters and R.E.8s were World War One airplanes.

New Toronto used to be a separate village in the Etobicoke area of Toronto which housed the Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant from 1916 until 1987.

Panchromatic film was a type that was available commercially in 1906, however it was more expensive, and had to be developed in total darkness (no red lights). It would still be something relatively new in 1928, and could be ruined if not processed properly.

“Luckies” were Lucky Strike cigarettes, the top-selling cigarette brand in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s.

There is a Strong Suspicion That the New Bus Driver Has More Than a “Passing” Interest in a Certain Refreshment Stand

August 11, 1928

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.

The Chief’s from Missouri

January 14, 1928

The title seems to make no sense, but there was likely a well publicized story about a police officer in Missouri testing people’s brakes this way. Jim would sometimes get his ideas from a news story that may be printed recently.

[Update]: A reader has suggested that the joke might play on Missouri being the “Show me” State, a saying that indicates that proof is always required.

Now We Know Why Old Archie Shuts “Foghorn” in the Hen-house Every Night

November 17, 1928

Who Wouldn’t Be a Sport Announcer!

Over the radio it sounded like the thundering herd in fall gallop
A sharp tag on the wire and warning shout from above would remind me where I was.

By Foster Hewitt, October 13, 1928

The Lot of the Radio Man at the Big Games is No Bed of Roses

A radio announcer’s job is no bed of roses, particularly in the sporting line. To most people it gives the impression of the luck some fellows have of being able to attend so many games and then to have the best seat in the house for the occasion. It sounds easy but as a matter of fact it’s hard work.

A sporting announcer, has a life similar to an actor on the stage. No matter whether he feels under the weather or not he has to suddenly “come to life” and take part in the game Itself whether the stock market goes up or down or it rains or shines. Sports broadcasts are handed in the same way as any other kind from a technical standpoint. Remote control equipment consisting of a two-stage amplifier and telephone equipment is located at the field near the announcer; the stadium or arena is hooked up with the radio station by special telephone wires. At the station the lines run through a speech input amplifier and then direct into the transmitter where it is broadcast to all those within range of the station. A radio operator is required at either end and telephone men are ready for any emergency.

Out of town pick-ups such as rugby games from Kingston and Montreal are handled in a similar manner only long distance lines are held open and more telephone men are used to make sure there is no hitch in the broadcast.

The main point in broadcasting sport is to keep up with the play. Detail is essential and listeners-in are just as interested in knowing about the crowd and their actions as they are in the actual description of the game. An odd joke or two helps to keep the listener in a good mood, but a little of it goes a long way.

Toronto’s First Sport Broadcast

Sports broadcasts for CFCA date back to March, 1923, when the first hockey game was broadcast from the Mutual street arena. The main difficulty encountered in this respect was to keep the cheers of the crowd subdued in such a way as to make the announcer’s voice clear and above the hullaballoos of an exciting game. It was agreed that a closed-in box was the solution, but the main problem was the size. First of all the box had to be on the rail so that the players could be easily identified. Then A.B. (Andy) Taylor, the rink manager, had to be considered. He raised the point that the box couldn’t be of any height as it would interfere with the spectators’ view. Another point was that the seats were practically all sold and only the space for three seats could be spared. Out of all these conditions CFCA’s first “coup” was built. It was 3 ½  x 4 feet and 4 feet high. It had glass on three sides with a heavy wire netting to protect the glass. A stool with legs six inches in height was placed inside and the stage was all set. The first broadcast nearly ended in disaster. When I did finally get in and closed the door all the air was cut off. In a few minutes my head started to go round. The heat of my breath blurred the glass and obscured the view. The game was between Kitchener and Parkdale and went 30 minutes overtime before Kitchener finally scored the winning goal.

The spectators in the rail seats, although warned before the game to keep their seats, leaned over the sides in such a way as to cut off any view of the players in the corner of the rink. The broadcast was completed with the microphone set out on the edge of the rail where the play could be followed. The cabinet was used many times after that but several holes were cut in the box to give the announcer an even chance to breathe.

In April 1923, the final game between the Granites of Toronto and Hamilton Tigers was broadcast from the rink in Hamilton. In those early days radio equipment was very crude. Instead of the complete remote control equipment of to-day only the ordinary telephone transmitter was used with the receiver off the hook dangling by your side. I was stationed on the players’ bench along the boards of the rink. During the intermission between the second and third periods we started to give the summary. Hamilton is one of the best sporting towns in the world and nobody denies it, but there were many there that night that wanted to tell the world about how good Hamilton was and to even more strongly stress how unimportant Toronto was. The barrage increased in intensity when a few loyal Toronto supporters started to talk back. Pandemonium reigned. To get away from all this turmoil I placed the telephone underneath the benches, crawled under and completed the preliminary story. The last period was hectic. Granites started off with a lead of two goals obtained in the first two periods and were trying to nurse their hard-earned lead. The Tigers, urged on by the frantic Hamilton rooters were in a frenzy. After ten minutes of play Tigers scored their first goal. Spurred on by this success they scored another two minutes later, tying the score. Alex Romeril, one of the Granite players, who was sitting on the Granite bench beside me, in his excitement picked up the dangling receiver and smashed it on the boards. That meant that while I could still go on talking I couldn’t hear whether it was going out or not. In the last five minutes a heavy mist came off the ice and the players disappeared from view every few minutes. The game ended in a tie score but as Granites had a lead from the first game played in Toronto they won the title. It sure was a struggle.

Girls Out-Talk Announcer

During the Varsity Grads-Port Arthur Allan Cup finals at the Arena two girls were seated beside the broadcasting booth. If there ever was a talkative pair they were “it.” They yelled and screamed for Port Arthur from start to finish. In desperation I made the mistake of asking them to be a little more conservative in their words of encouragement. It was just like throwing a match into a can of gasoline. They shouted even louder than before and capped it all by draping themselves in front of the box so that it made it well nigh impossible to see all of the play. A radio fan in some remote part of Saskatchewan wrote me and repeated a number of the things he had heard the girls say. If nothing else the two girls added lots of the so-called “local color” to the broadcast.

If there ever was a battle royal it was the eastern junior hockey final between North Bay Trappers and Kingston. North Bay led going into the third period 3 to 1 and looked like easy winners. Suddenly Kingston took a new lease of life and encouraged by the tremendous bellows of encouragement from Captain James T. Sutherland, which, by the way, cut into the microphone like a knife, the Limestone City sextet tied the score. In the next thirty minutes of overtime the packed arena went mad. Many frenzied North Bay fans in their eagerness to see the play scrambled on top of the broadcasting box and nearly upset the works. As fast as I would turn them away others climbed aboard so that over the radio it sounded like a broadcast of the thundering herd in full gallop. After that broadcast the booth was nailed down.

For our broadcasts of hockey games to-day a large platform is located under the rafters on the west side of the rink in line with the penalty time-keepers. While it is a considerable distance from the players all the corners of the ice are visible and there is plenty of fresh air as the broadcast is conducted in the open. At this height the roar of the crowd serves as good background but is not loud enough to affect the announcements.

At Opening of Detroit Olympia

I had the honor of broadcasting the first professional hockey game for WGHP Detroit on the occasion of the opening of the new Olympia rink last year. The Olympia is very similar to Madison Square Garden and is just about the same size.

Ottawa and Detroit were the two teams and the rink was packed with 18,000 excited fans. A university band of 150 pieces supplied the music and the tremendous double-decked structure was covered with flags. It was a wonderful sight and thrilled one to the core.

The remote control equipment, which took over a day to install, took up a section the size of a box at the Toronto Arena.

The microphone was placed on a pedestal right by the boards and I had to stand in plain view of everyone and at least 500 people in the rink could hear practically everything I said as the crowd was all around me. It was like delivering an address to the multitude, both seen and unseen.

Before the game the band paraded all over the ice and the thousands stood up and cheered. Just before the game the band played the two national anthems and then they were away.

The crowd readily took to the “fastest game in the world” and entered into the hockey match with as much pep and noise as they do for a world series baseball game. Ottawa won the game 3 to 2, but it was tied with five minutes to go so that the result was always in doubt.

Rugby is another sport governed by the elements which help to “put over” a broadcast.

It was two years ago and Varsity were scheduled to play Queens at Richardson stadium in Kingston. Varsity had to beat Queens to win the Intercollegiate title. The roof at Richardson stadium was never built as a point of vantage for a broadcaster; the roof slopes towards the ground on an angle of 35 degrees. The authorities believing that no one would ever be crazy enough to go up on top, had built only an iron ladder running up the outside of one of the corner towers.

As all rugby games should be seen from a height we decided that the root was to be our location. All the equipment had to be carried up this ladder, then on to a slippery tin roof and then held in place so it wouldn’t slide off. It was a drop of over 50 feet and when looking down and juggling a heavy battery at the same time it was no wonder that the equipment was not in place before one o’clock after two and a half hours of the trickiest work imaginable. Once up we hadn’t nerve enough to come down.

Luckily one of the operators had brought a lot of extra wire, so they put it around my neck and under my arms and lowered me to the edge of the roof. I put a soap box in front of me, placed the microphone on it, braced my feet on the flagpole and the eavestroughing and tried to make myself at home.

The game was so interesting that at times I would find myself just about hanging over the edge, but a short sharp tug on the wire and warning shout from above reminded me where I was. During the last period it started to rain. The bitter cold wind from the lake then changed it to hail and by the end of the game my clothes were frozen to the roof. I went to move and I was stuck fast. A none too gentle yank at the wire from above at the most inopportune time freed most of me with the exception of a certain amount of coat and I was dragged to the top. Queens won the game 3 to 1 and brought about the first three-cornered tie in the history of the Intercollegiate series.

Describing Rugby from Snowbank

The following week we ventured to Montreal for the first of the play-offs. All night going down on the train the snow fell so that when Montreal was reached it was a typical northern scene. On visiting Molson stadium, the McGill field, in the morning, there was more than two feet of heavy snow on the ground. Things looked hopeless for rugby. The Varsity team had failed to bring their snowshoes and were plainly worried. McGill had prayed for a dry field for their fleet half-backs and this was the answer.

I was sitting in a four-foot snowbank all set to go when a touchline official called the referee and pointed to us.

At 12 o’clock the sun came out and the snow stopped and the scrapers were brought on the field. For over two hours the men worked until the field was fairly well cleared. Huge snowbanks were at 30-foot intervals when the two teams took the field. The stands were jammed to overflowing and the McGill students were noisily confident.

As all the stands were open we put up our equipment along the touchline close to the 50 yard line. We had a long table with the radio equipment placed on it and I was sitting in a four-foot snowbank all set to go. Just as the game was to start a touchline official called to the referee and pointed to us. He promptly held up the game, came over where we were and ordered us off the field, claiming that some player might injure himself against the table. Things looked black. We moved back to the cinder track but that wouldn’t satisfy the officials, so we finally ended up in front of the McGill team’s bench. The sub players did everything but throw us out, but we stuck to our post and grinned and bore the abuse punctuated with snowballs from the McGill spares.

The game was wonderful. Varsity had McGill backed up on their own line three times before the Blue team was able to break the gallant red line for a touchdown; Stollery, the star U. of T. plunger, doing the trick in the last period. Up until then the game had been tied 2-2 with the battle see-sawing every few minutes. The Varsity supporters were wild with joy. The McGill team became desperate. On their own 30-yard line they attempted an onside kick. The kick was blocked and a Varsity player dribbled it over the McGill line and fell on it for a touchdown. There was no holding the Toronto supporters then. With a minute to go they rushed along the touchline in front of us, raving like a lot of maniacs.

I stood on the table, then climbed on a chair on the table to see over their heads, but it was hopeless. The whistle blew and the surge of the crowd carried both the chair and myself off the table. It was a wild stampede. But the equipment was unscathed. The next thing was to get Warren Snyder, the Toronto captain, to say a few words over CFCA. I rushed out in the centre of the field where a large mob had “chaired” Snyder. First I yelled, but it was no use. I tried to push the crowd the right way but this failed. In desperation I kicked one of the roofers on the shins and yelled “McGill” and then ran, but they didn’t chase me. l finally grabbed Coach Ronnie MacPherson and yelled “radio” in his ear. Instantly the word through the mob and I had to use what little speed I had to beat the crowd to the microphone. When I got back to the equipment I was out breath. Both Ronnie MacPherson and Warren Snyder said a few words to the radio fans and the broadcast was over. It took me over two hours after the game to take the mud off my clothes to make myself presentable to go to the hotel. On every step my feet would sink at least three inches into the ground. With all our work completed we just made the 11 o’clock train as it was pulling out of Windsor station. We got aboard while she was pulling out. This ended a hectic day in Montreal which started at 7 a.m.

Too Cold and Stiff to Stand

The final game at Toronto with Queen’s and U. of T. was another fine game with Varsity trimming the tricolor 8 to 0 for the college title. The blue supporters rushed on the field and hundreds joined in the snake dance. In all the excitement my new hat blew off and it lit in the midst of the wild-eyed throng. I’d like to gamble anything that every soul in that stadium walked all over it and knocked it further into the mud. After the crowd had gone we sent out a search party for the missing hat, but it was lost but not forgotten. My other hat had been crushed in the McGill mud the previous Saturday, but I had rescued it on its third time down.

The Ottawa-Varsity Dominion final was cruel. It was played at Varsity stadium on one of the coldest days of the year. A terrific gale blew from the north cutting right through everything. Expecting to be cold I wore an aviator’s helmet, two sweaters, a heavy coat and a pair of over shoes. I would have been just as warm with a pair of pyjamas. There was no holding that wind. It went through me in the first five minutes so that my jaw wouldn’t function. Some kind soul had set up two oil stoves right beside us, but the wind was so strong that it carried the heat right away. All it did for me was to burn my hand when I got excited when both teams were rushing after one of the many loose balls during the game. At the conclusion of the game I was positively frozen. I felt like Vierkoetter looked when he was taken out of the water this year in the Wrigley swim, and he looked terrible. I couldn’t move. I was as still as a poker. One of the operators who must have run over ten miles on the roof during the game to keep the blood circulating, punched me, rolled me over like a bag of potatoes and generally knocked me about for ten minutes before I could stand on my feet. I sat in the ticket office for over an hour beside a hot fire before I had thawed out sufficiently to go home. For the past ten weeks of the rugby season I had taken turns at getting soaked one Saturday and frozen the next, but had no ill effects afterwards. The following Saturday I went to a theatre and got a cold that kept me in bed for three days. Such is life!

Leadley’s Mustache Grew Rapidly

Last year’s Dominion final between Hamilton Tigers and Balmy Beach was another thriller.

As is the custom, all our equipment was set and ready by 1.30 p.m. At 1.45 the heavens cut loose with enough rain to drown us. As there is no shelter on the roof of the Varsity stadium we had to lie down and take it and try to imagine it was Saturday night. When everyone was really soaked the sun had the nerve to come out for few moments. The field was nothing but mud when the ball was kicked off. Balmy Beach stepped right into Tigers and before the much touted yellow and black clan had settled down the Beachers had gained a winning lead. During the game I moved from one puddle to another but each and every one was the same. I was the human sponge that day. I never realized before that I could “take in” so much water.

As all rugby fans know, the tricky “Pep” Leadfey has a Charlie Chaplin moustache. Oa catching one of Foster’s high punts he set sail for the Beaches line. Two of the purple and gold’s outsides hit Leadley coming and going and all three disappeared from view in the mud. When Leadley came up for air his moustache had grown one hundred per cent. He had a cake of mud under his nose that must have weighed two pounds. Exhausted as were the battling players several of them were seen to have a real laugh at Leadley’s expense. “Red” Moore, and all that the same implies, had his hair a purple shade after being doused in the slimy mud. Several of the players, after being tackled, did the breast stroke or Australian crawl before they realized they were playing rugby and not a contestant in one of the Wrigley swims.

At Maple Leaf Stadium

For baseball we are located on the roof back of the home plate where the play can be watched very closely. The main worry from the announcer’s standpoint is ducking fly balls. During the course of a game two or three fouls generally come too close to be comfortable. On one occasion a foul tip came up so fast that I didn’t have time to duck it. I stuck my hand out to protect the microphone and it hit me square on the wrist. As a result I couldn’t move my hand for two or three days after.

Of the boxing bouts handled by CFCA the Rocco-Gold flyweight battle was a standout. The two mighty atoms banged away at each other for the entire ten rounds. We were located close to Rocco’s corner at the side of the ring and in the intermission between rounds we would get some of the water meant for the battlers.

One of the chief difficulties of an announcer is to get a location from which to describe the event. For the Joe Wright reception the event was handled from on top of a ten-foot ladder at the back of the stage at Sunnyside. For the. Prince of Wales reception we were located on the alcove above the steps of the city hall. For the Granites Olympic hockey champions of 1924 welcome we were right in the throng on the platform at the city hall.

CFCA, as in hockey and rugby, was the first station to broadcast horse races direct from the track during the last four years of the Ontario Jockey Club’s meetings at Woodbine Park. These broadcasts have been graphically given by W. A. Hewitt, sporting editor of The Star. The microphone has been located in the back of the main stand directly in line with the finishing point. Race broadcasts due to the ever changing of positions and the bunching of horses is exceedingly difficult to handle. Even with powerful glasses the horses are hard to identity as they speed around the big mile track and must be “called” by an expert.

The second and third Wrigley marathon swims in Lake Ontario off the Toronto Exhibition grounds were the longest continuous broadcasts in Canada and probably in the world.

Last year for the second Wrigley swim we were located on top of the captain’s cabin of the S.S. Macassa, which was recently lost in Georgian bay with twenty lives. We cruised from 8 in the morning until 8.45 at night until the German swimmer, Ernst Vierkoetter, crossed the finishing line victor after the 21-mile grind. The day was long and tedious. The boat was too large to be handled and the two hundred press representatives aboard had a hard time making “copy” as the boat “parked” in one spot for hours at a time despite the repeated requests of those aboard to move on.

During the course of the day our boat took on over 30 swimmers that were forced out of the race owing to the cold water.

At 8.30 after Vierkoetter crossed the finishing line every whistle available was blown, the thousands on the shore cheered and the tremendous volume of sound stopped the short wave transmitter on the boat from oscillating. At the time I didn’t know that the transmitter was off and I must have talked for over 15 minutes to myself without my voice going out on the air. I got the actual finish on the air, however, and I suppose that was the big thing.

This year’s Wrigley and consolation swims were handled perfectly by the engineering staffs of all the Toronto stations. It was the wonderful co-operation of the local radio stations that made the swim broadcasts the success they were.

A low power short wave transmitter was placed in one of the cabins of Herbert Hatch’s yacht, the Toddy. Batteries were used in place of a generator and the transmission from the boat was clean-cut. At the Press building a short wave receiver picked up the broadcast from the boat and sent the announcements to the loudspeakers on the shore and over land lines to all the Toronto stations. There was not a hitch in the transmission at any time.

I think the worst experience on the boat was to hear your own voice come back at you from the loudspeakers on shore. No matter where we went out in the lake the voice would simply haunt you. During the dark hours that we fol. lowed Georges Michel, the French swimmer, out on the outer course, the voice could be heard coming back to me about four seconds after I had spoken into the microphone, and we were at least a mile out in the lake.

During that long night vigil in the pitch dark, with a cold wind blowing right through us, only snatches of the swimmer could be seen. It was like a dream. The multi-colored fireworks at the Exhibition made a weird sight out in the lake. A flash would show two or three power boats almost touching one another. Another flash and the tricolor of France would show up at the bow of Michel’s boat. The next minute our boat would scrape alongside an unknown craft. To add to the creepy feeling shouts would pass from one boat to another and on the still waters would echo and re-echo. Above all the noise on the lake, the screams and shouts of happy persons could be heard coming from the Midway. Without any warning somebody out in the darkness started to sing the “Marseillaise”; it was picked up from boat to boat until half a hundred were singing at the top of their voices in a different time and an unknown key. It was a case of every man for himself.

Fan Letters Greatly Appreciated

At 10.15 when Michel reached the last outside buoy someone shouted “he is out.” The twenty or more boats that had drifted practically as one suddenly put on a burst of speed to get a real view of the gallant swimmer coming out of the water. It was like a traffic light turning green. Our boat due to its quick pick-up and ably pushed by two or three others trying to beat us to it, was right beside the scene in no time. Suddenly the flares went up for the “movie” men and it was as bright as day. Every one blinked and it was hard to see anything after being used to the dark. Michel was all in when taken out of the water by four sturdy lifesavers, and was rushed to the hospital. With the race completed the boats threw caution to the winds and raced each other to the shore.

One of the most interesting sights during the swim was when the various swimmers were taken out of the water. In every case a heavy rope was put over the swimmer’s neck and under his arms and he was held by one of the lifesavers until help arrived. In Vierkoetter’s case it took five men five minutes to haul him over the side of the life-saving launch. Each time they got him at the edge of the boat he would slip back into the water, due to the heavy coating of grease and the dead weight. He was as stiff as a poker and had a glassy stare in his eyes as if he was dead. Most of the other cases were the same, but Vierkoetter was the hardest man to haul into the boat.

In the consolation swim broadcast we took George Young aboard to say a few words over the radio. In helping him on the boat Mr. A. P. Howells was covered with grease from head to foot and looked like a marathon swimmer. George seemed to enjoy getting grease on us as when he spoke into the mike he kept bumping into me until I looked like another contender in the swim.

In CFCA’s sports broadcasts for over five years we have received a great many letters from fans all over America. All the letters are greatly appreciated, but the biggest “kick” of all is to hear from places such as Christie Street Hospital, Hamilton, Gravenhurst and Weston Sanatoriums, patients in hospitals and from persons who are bedridden or have lost their sight. Radio has been a godsend to them and for the announcer to hear that he has brought a little ray of sunshine into these homes and institutions it gives a thrill that cannot be described in print.

There’s a big gang down at “Mike’s” place at Oshawa that attend the various sports via CFCA.

In Little Current a party of ten men close up shop every time a baseball game is put on the air. The fans up north crave hockey and around St. Catharines the boxing fans hold sway.

It is a wonderful listening public and all are good sports.

To be able to “see” the games for good Canadian sports on the radio is not work but a pleasure.


Editor’s Notes: Foster Hewitt is famous as an early sports reporter in Canada. I’ve included this full article by him, which is illustrated by Jim Frise. He worked for CFCA, one of the first radio stations in Toronto, and owned by the Toronto Star. some of the teams and locations mentioned in this story include the Toronto Granites, Hamilton Tigers, Toronto Varsity Blues, the Toronto Balmy Beach Beachers, the Allan Cup, Detroit Olympia, Richardson Stadium, and Molson Stadium. More about the “Wrigley” Marathon Swims held at the CNE can be found here.

Not SO Sweet!

Charles looks at everything with the same expression. You can’t tell whether the thing he is reading is a cheque from his brokers or vice versa.

By Gregory Clark, September 29, 1928

“What have you this week?” asked the editor.

“Nothing,” I said. “I can’t seem to get going since that article by Charles.”

“That was only meant in fun,” said the editor

“It may be, but I’ve had to shave off my moustache, borrow $500 to pay a lot of debts, answer a lot of letters and generally clean up. I haven’t had time to do any work.”

“Why,” asked the editor, “not take your revenge?”

“Charles is bigger than me.”

“I mean,” said the editor, “take your revenge by writing one about Charles. Revenge is sweet.”

“He wouldn’t stand for it,” said I. “He’s funny that way.”

The editor and I leaned out and looked through the door at Charles. He was sitting at his desk, close up to it, his back very straight. Charles looks at everything with the same expression. You can’t tell whether the thing he is reading is a cheque from his brokers or vice versa. He even reads his own stories with perfect emotional control. In all the time he has been with us he has never been known to stop the rest of the office working while he read aloud a few choice sentences.

“Not a very promising looking prospect,” said I.

“Every man is vain,” the editor mused. “Charles is probably no different. Go at him by stealth. Don’t let on you are going to interview him. But if he suspects anything his vanity may overcome his suspicions.”

“Yeah, but,” said I, “what will I interview him on? He hasn’t got any weaknesses, therefore you can’t describe his character.”

“Eh?’ said the editor.

“And he hasn’t got any hobbies, so you can’t make fun of him.”

“Don’t be bitter,” the editor said.

“He’s one of those cold-minded men that nobody could interview but himself. You know the kind of people Charles interviews? I’d sooner go out and interview Scarborough Bluffs.”

“You are afraid of Charles,”

“Say, listen …”

I got up and walked out to Charles. He was reading something. It looked like the annual report of a bank or something.

“Hello, Charles.”

“Good morning, Greg,” he replied, looking up politely.

“Say, Charles, you ought to have some kind of sport. You ought to fish or shoot or something.”

“Why? Don’t I look well?”

“Yes, you look all right. But I don’t like to see a man who hasn’t any hobby.”

“I have. I play golf.”

No Angle of Approach

“Gosh. It’s the first I ever heard of it. I never heard you even speak of golf.”

“Why should I?”

“Well, what I mean to say … a fellow might … what I mean to say, you hear me mention fishing now and then.”

“Your fishing wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t hear about it,” said Charles.

The trouble with interviews is you are liable to get into arguments.

“We’ll let that pass,” I said. “How about your golf? What’s your handicap?”

“It’s a delicate subject,” replied Charles.

“Sure, but I’m interested, Charles. Just as a friend, you understand? This is very interesting about you. Suddenly coming across a thing like that. Tell me something about it.”

“What shall I tell you?”

“Well, for instance, about golf. Which is your favorite golf stick?”

Charles has an inscrutable way of gazing at you. He began to tap the paper he was reading ever so gently on his desk. Then a smile slowly spread all over his face. And he just looked at me and said nothing. Not a word.

“I’ve been decent with you,” I said. “I’ve told you all about fishing. You might tell me about golf. I’d like to hear about golf. Maybe I’d like to play it if it was a good game.”

Charles continued to smile.

“Ask some of the other boys,” said he. “Bill Orr or Deacon Johnson know far more about it than I do.”

“Oh, well,” said I.

I went back into what is generally called the editor’s sanctum.

“No luck,” I said. “Revenge may be sweet, but this is sour.”

“Well, you don’t expect to get an interview in three minutes, do you?”

“No,” I said. “But there isn’t any angle of approach. I tried to get him going on sport. He plays golf.”

“Certainly,” said the editor. “The way to Interview him is to go and play a game of golf with him.”

“I’d drop dead before I’d ever take a golf stick in my hand.”

“Take him to lunch then. That’s the way he interviews the big fellows. Lunch or a golf game.”

“Who? Henry Ford and Al Smith and all those fellows?”

“That’s the way he gets them,” said the editor. “They’re all human, after all.”

“Charles isn’t,” said I.

“Well, then, work him this way. Tell him you are going to interview somebody and ask him how he goes about it. It would make an interesting story. The public like to know how you go about interviewing these big men.”

“But,” said I, “I don’t want to play him up. I want to get my revenge on him. I want to describe his character.”

“Won’t that show when you tell how he gets the facts out of men like Hoover and Big Bill Thompson of Chicago?”

A Psychological Gunman

“I suppose I could make him out a sort of a gunman.”

“Sure,” said the editor. “A dandy heading, ‘Psychological Gunman.'”

“You would spoil it!”

“Don’t give up. Revenge is sweet,” the editor egged me on. “Get after him. You can pry him open.”

“With a brad awl. Like an oyster,” said I.

I walked out to Charles again. He had a pink slip in his hand. It looked like the second notice from the electric light company. But Charles was viewing it with the same composure with which he would regard a complimentary memo from the chief.

“Charles.”

“Good morning again,” said he.

“I’ve got a big interview I’ve got to do. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind giving me some ideas about interviewing big men.”

“Are you kidding?” asked Charles.

“Certainly not. You’re the interview man. I never do interviews.”

“Then why not let me interview this fellow? Who is he?” asked Charles.

“No, the editor has asked me to get this interview and I couldn’t very well pass it up, could I? But tell me, what’s your method of approaching these big fellows?”

“Usually on foot,” Charles replied.

Charles arrives in some ceremony for his appointed interview.

“But seriously, Charles. There is surely some technique about it. Do you write them first? Do you make appointments and so forth, and arrive in some ceremony?”

“Yes, I hire the town band and get a bunch of the boys to make a torchlight procession.”

“I wish you’d help me, Charles. I’ve often helped you. Remember the time I introduced you to the police sergeant?”

“Well, then, what do you want?”

“I want to know how you go about interviewing these nabobs, these moguls of finance and industry and politics.”

“All right,” said Charles. “You walk into the room. They ask you to sit down. They offer you a cigar. You don’t take it. You talk to them. They talk to you. You look at your watch. In twenty-five minutes your train is leaving. You apologize, rise, shake, hands and depart. That is an interview.”

“But what about technique?”

“It is all bunk.”

“How do you analyze them? How do you arrive at an estimate of their character?”

“No man reaches a high place in any work whose character has not been made manifest.”

“Then interviews are easy?”

“Easy as rolling off a log,” said Charles.

“I disagree with you.” I retorted, and walked back into the editor’s room.

“Well?” asked the editor.

“Bad,” said I. “Think of all the years Charles and I have been friends, working on the same jobs, sharing our toothbrushes and so forth, and now he turns to me the frozen face.”

“Maybe he is on to you. If Charles is nothing else he is shrewd.”

“I have been very guarded.”

The Art of Interviewing

“Well, do what he did to you, then,” said the editor. “Ask him all about his views on Canada as a nation and whether we should have a governor-general.”

“We couldn’t possibly print Charles’ views on that sort of thing.”

“That’s right. But didn’t you get anything out of him on the art of interviewing?”

“He said it was nothing.”

“We know better.”

“Yeah, but how can you describe the character of a man who says to you that the art of interviewing is all bunk?”

“Well,” said the editor quietly, “that’s kind of a character sketch in itself.”

“I don’t want to leave a good impression like that,” I said. “He’s got to get his.”

“Well,” said the editor, “he’s a worker. You know that. Make him out a regular steam engine for work. The public likes to think of other people working like the dickens. It explains the general failure.”

“Then I’ll make out that Charles is nothing but a toiler. A kind of robot. A mechanical man. That’s the stuff.”

“All right,” said the editor, “get him to tell you how he got on top of that stuff about the St. Lawrence waterways. There was a job.”

Once again I crossed the room to Charles

“Ah,” said he. “Welcome. You seem a little restless this morning.”

“Say, Charles, a fellow was asking me the other day how you got around all that material about the St. Lawrence waterways, how you went about it, and so forth. By golly, I couldn’t tell him. I wish you’d tell me some time the story of how you go about getting a grasp on subjects like that – technical and involved and complex.”

“It is work,” said Charles. “You wouldn’t understand that.”

“Charles, you are being nasty?”

“No, I am being careful.”

“Look here, Charles, you don’t suspect me of anything, do you?”

“Anything?”

“Well, I mean to say, we’ve been friends long time. We’ve slept in the snow together and ridden in aeroplanes together and been summer bachelors together and all that sort of thing.”

“Granted,” said Charles.

“We’ve banged around all these years together in the unhappy business of amusing and entertaining the public, getting frozen in Elk Lake and attending functions that made us both sick, risking our lives and going hungry together …”

“You got the big half of that porcupine,” interrupted Charles. “But what are you driving at?”

“Well, then, Charles, why don’t you help me? I want you to tell me some things about you?”

“Yes?”

“You asked me my object in life and I told you.”

“So you did.”

“Then will you tell me your object in life?”

“Yes. My object in life is to have a large bathroom with a fireplace in it.”

Well, what I mean to say, what can you do with a man like that!

What can you do with a man whose object in life is to have a large bathroom with a fire place in it!

Editor’s Notes: This is a story about Charles Vining, a fellow reporter at the Star Weekly. He was only at the Star Weekly for three years, with this year, 1928, as his last.

Gasoline Alley

July 21, 1928

This image by Jim accompanied an article by Fred Griffin about the proliferation of gas stations cropping up in Toronto. It is a statement not just on the number of gas stations, but on the number of cars in the city. He states that 25 stations were built in 1927, and 38 were built in the first 6 months of 1928. The article indicated that Toronto only had 15 gas stations in 1915, the first year they were built, with 72 built between 1915 and July 1926, followed by 12 in the last half of 1926.

“[Gasoline’s] earliest distribution was in sealed five gallon cans. You bought it and filled your own, after the fashion of filling your own lamps. After that came distribution in steel barrels equipped at first with spigots and later with pumps. Then was evolved the self-measuring automatic pump. And from that grew the modern service station.”

As for how many more gas stations Toronto could support:

“He arrived at Toronto’s need of 300 stations, or twice the present number, in the following way.
Toronto has some 90,000 cars of all sorts. Each uses an average of 300 gallons of gas per year. Toronto’s total gallonage would be there fore 27,000,000 gallons. A selling capacity of 100,000 gallons per service station per year should satisfy. This would call for 270 service stations.
Since this calculation took no recount of visitors and tourists, he thought that 300 service stations was very modest estimate Indeed of Toronto’s ultimate needs.”

The photo included with the illustration shows one of the oldest stations from 1915 at the corner of Queen and Davies Street. A gas station is no longer at the site, but you can see where is stood based on the street view today. Even the light post is in the same spot.

Looking for the “Prince of Whales”

May 19, 1928

By Greg Clark, May 19, 1928

American Tourists Have Quaint Notions About Canada

The lanky, well-dressed stranger strolled up to the bell captain of the King Edward.

“I’m from the States,” he said. “I want to take a run around your city and see the points of interest – the state house and that sort of thing. Whereabouts is the residence of the Prince of Whales?”

The bell captain informed him that the Prince of Whales did not live in Toronto.

“Ah, he’s in Montreal, eh? Or is it Que-bec?”

No, the Prince of Whales, the bell boy regretted to inform the American visitor, lived in London, England, and only visited Canada on rare occasions, spending most of his visit aboard Pullman cars.

“But he’s got a ranch here somewhere,” said the American.

He doubted the bell captain’s knowledge and inquired elsewhere, with the result that a most curious and interesting conversation developed.

“I had it firmly fixed in my mind,” confessed the American during this discussion, that the Prince of Whales lived in Canada the way the King lives in England. I thought you had princes instead of governors, you know, state governors.

“But tell me, it’s a fact, is it not, that you have British regiments quartered here in Canada?”

“No. We have one permanent infantry regiment in Canada – but it’s Canadian.”

“But you pay taxes to the King of England don’t you?” asked the American, shrewdly.

“No. We pay no taxes and we put a duty on nearly everything that comes from Britain.”

“No!” said the American, entirely out of his depth. “Well, I declare. Still, all your officials in your government at Quee-bec are sent out from England, aren’t they?”

“No, the only official sent out to this country from Britain to the governor general, and even at that we choose the one we want out of a number suggested by the King’s advisers. A matter of fact, there is a discussion under way just now regarding the appointment of a Canadian as governor general in future.”

“Then you’re turning?’ suggested the American.

“Turning?”

“Turning away from England,” added the American.

“England has nothing to do with it,” explained his Canadian Baedecker. “Canada is more British, in the sense of empire, than England. Canada is peopled by English, Scotch and Irish who have done something for the British Empire besides stay at home. The King, as far as we are concerned, is a Canadian. It may hurt a Californian to know that your president is a New Englander. But it doesn’t bother us Canadians to know that our King is an Englishman. We still think he would be better if he were a Canadian, just as your Californian thinks the President would be better if he were a Native Son.”

It’s Hard to Beat the Movies

“Well, sir, yesterday,” said the American, “I saw lot of cavalry riding out near your Sunnyside park and I thought you were a hundred and fifty years behind the rest of America.”

“We are a little backward,” said his Canadian adviser, “in some respects; for instance, it worries us Canadians that we can’t seem to put on quite as much of a celebration for the Prince of Wales whenever he comes to America as New York can.”

All of which is a quaint and comic but by no means rare instance of the extraordinary point of view entertained by countless numbers of our American visitors.

At the Niagara Falls office of the Toronto Convention and Tourist Association, a party of ladies and gentlemen drew up in a costly car and came in to get information about crossing the border.

They stood in the office, glancing about. Then one of the ladies said under her breath to her husband:

“Why, they’ve got everything printed in English.”

They made no move to ask for anything. 50 the young lady who is manager of the office step ped forward.

“Is there anything I can do for you?”

“I knew you were an American!” cried the lady enthusiastically.

“I’m proud to tell you I’m a Canadian,” said the girl.

“But you’ve been educated in the States?”

“No, I was educated in Toronto, Canada.”

“Well, what in the world language do they speak over there anyway?” cried the American.

It takes a lot of propaganda to defeat the movies, for example. And what little of Canada has ever been in the movies has been mounted police, French-Canadians coureur de bois, Eskimos and dogs. When Canada gets into the news in a big way in the States, it is when trans-atlantic fliers pass over the Labrador wastes or land on our coasts so that it takes weeks to get them off even by flying machines. Or when balloonists land in Canada, they nearly die of it. The news reels that show glimpses of Canada are not views of our tall cities but shots of the arrival of the governor-general surrounded by protective soldiering or perhaps a bit from the Calgary stampede which is a circus mostly made up of troupers and trick performers from over the border.

Since 1926 the Toronto Convention and Tourist Association has been striving to defeat the movies and the sensational reports as part of its propaganda.

“But Toronto still remains,” states E. R. Powell, managing director of the association, “the poorest-known big city on the North American continent.”

“They Speak the Same Language”

There are three restaurants in Toronto that belong to a well-known chain of American restaurants and these are eagerly seized upon by the American tourists as a little bit of home.

“Why!” declare those who have motored right through from the border, as they pay for their meal at the cash desk, “your money looks exactly like ours! Yes, one dollar bills, sure as you live. And dimes and nickels!”

The manager tells of countless curious angles.

“You eat practically the same as we do in the States,” said one shrewd visitor. “Why, when I was in France, I could hardly get a single bit of what you might call civilized cooking.”

“I’m glad your restaurants are over in this country. I’ve read a good deal of Canadian literature in the magazines, and the one thing I was scared about coming over here was the things I’d have to eat -pemmican and bannock and pea soup and those things, and I’ve delicate stomach.”

Ex-Mayor Webb of Winnipeg describes a trip he made last winter to Florida. At one stop they overheard the children, in disappointed voices, saying: “They wear the same kind of clothes we do!” “They speak the same language we do.”

At the Niagara Falls office one elderly woman asked if she could see the boat that sails for Europe If she walked across the bridge. Three young men were in this office getting information and they argued the question whether to have lunch in Niagara Falls or wait until they got to Montreal.

Montreal and Toronto are not merely close together in the minds of a large proportion of the tourists, but they are readily interchangeable. Montreal is where Toronto is and Toronto is somewhere else. Canada to them is a little colony on the northern border, back of which is the arctic circle.

Even when they see Toronto they cannot realize that their previous conception is shot. A party came into The Star office last summer to ask if we knew of a man named Billings, an American living somewhere in Ontario.

“In Toronto? We’ll look him up in the directory.”

“No, he don’t live in Toronto, but somewhere here in Ontario. He’s an American. We thought probably you’d know of him. An American, named Billings.”

And they meant it.

It is generally believed by Toronto people that our fine big policemen are a source of wonder and admiration to the American visitors. We print stories about what the tourists any regarding the force.

But there are other angles. We asked an American what he thought of our police, as compared with the general type of stick-swinging, lamp-post leaning cop.

“I guess you’ve got to have good big police men over here, with all those outlaws and lumberjacks riding into town every once in a while,” said the American seriously.

May 19, 1928

But Let’s Not Be Snooty

School book history was doubtless responsible for another remark about the Toronto police.

“Mostly old soldiers, aren’t they?” asked the American.

“A good many are.”

“The police are kept up by the English, I suppose.”

Won’t somebody please write the Great Canadian Novel – all about Canada us it really is today – with enough eternal triangle and it in it to make it a best seller in the States? We’ve got to do something soon to counteract Sir Gilbert Parker and James Oliver Curwood, not to mention school histories that cease to refer to Canada after the War of 1812.

Of course, the best possible educational work is being done now, regardless of any effort. The Americans are coming to Canada as a playground in annual tidal waves that seem to double in volume every year. The tourist traffic is now one of the greatest commercial assets of the province of Ontario and within a very few years may be the greatest asset, regardless of mines, agriculture and everything else. Because there is no credit in the tourist business. It is all cash.

A flood of cash business bursting on Ontario’s shore every summer. And the more the Americans are astonished and enlightened the more they will talk when they get home. And the more they talk about Canada the bigger will be the tidal wave next summer. They are coming from far and near. And no other kind of propaganda could do what word-of-mouth is doing to enlighten the huge population to the south with regard to the facts about Canada.

There is a certain kind of Canadian who is snooty with all Americans. There are various reasons for this attitude. Part of it originates in the natural jealousy of a small country for a powerful neighbor. Part of it is the same ignorance that makes the American imagine “England” rules Canada as a colony, a sentimental hang-over from a century and a half ago.

But there is one ready-to-wear attitude that Canadians can wear in their relations with Americans. One thing every American speaks about in Canadians is the “manners” of Canadians. We are supposed to be a graceful and well-bred race.

If we are well-bred, good-mannered and courteous to our visitors, and if we use our humor and imagination in promoting the disillusionment that is progressing rapidly every moment that they are in the country, we will build up a tradition that will be even more valuable than the legend of the mounties and the whiskered Pierre and the canoe sliding down a mighty torrent.

Because that movie legend has not been without value.

It has advertised Canada as a land of vast natural resources, water power, minerals, unlimited forests.

And that is what the tourists are coming over to see.


Editor’s Notes: At the time of writing, the Governor-General of Canada was still British, though as indicated, there had been public discussion of the post being given to a Canadian.

Baedeker was a publisher of travel guides.

I don’t understand what is trying to be said with the line that mentions “eternal triangle”. Eternal Triangle was a term that meant “love triangle”, so maybe it was a disdain against the kind of books that were popular?

Sir Gilbert Parker and James Oliver Curwood were popular writers, the first on historical French Canada, and the second on the wilderness of Alaska and Yukon.

Another Case of Highway Robbery

April 14, 1928

In the early days of automobiles, it was common for cars to get stuck on muddy roads, and paying as farmer to haul it out with horses was the solution.

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