The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

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Fifteen Years!

“On Armistice Eve, when the city hall square in silent and deserted, the Boys, in their old khaki, with their tin hats over their eyes, with braziers winking, come back for an hour or two, to bivouac around the steps in a sort of old boys’ reunion, in answer to the call of memory”

By Gregory Clark, November 11, 1933.

At the cenotaph in front of the city hall in Toronto there are wreaths and people and bands.

From the windows of the busy buildings high about, the faces of girls watch down. The street cars push respectfully through the gathering throng.

Then comes the Silence. And everybody is quite proud of it. It is a fine Silence. In the midst of it, Big Ben tolls with an unfamiliar tone, deep and fateful. We hold ourselves consciously, as full participants in this Silence. We feel deeply moved by some ancient, profound instinct. We try to concentrate our minds, but in the Silence our minds wheel in great circles, frightened, aimless.

This cannot be all. Some of us have queer and pagan notions. One of our fancies is that on Armistice Eve, when all the city hall square is silent and deserted, the Boys start to foregather around this tall white pillar of remembrance.

In their old khaki, with their tin hats over their eyes, in battle order, with braziers winking, the Boys come back for an hour or two, while they may, to bivouac around the city hall steps, a sort of old boys’ reunion, in answer to the call of memory.

And if we have eyes to see them, we can see them, in the November night, a glow about them, as they pass and repass in the braziers’ uncertain light, joking and laughing, the way they used to be. It is impossible for us to remember them with mournfulness. When an old soldier calls up a tender ghost in memory to mourn with him, lo, the ghost is full of life and laughter, and in a moment, instead of the remembered one being brought forward from the past, it is the shadowy one who has carried us backward with him, to the past. It is a curious thing.

But I know an old lady who, at eleven o’clock every Armistice Day, holds a private service in her own room.

She takes a photograph in her two hands and sits ready with it.

When the hour arrives, she sits, her old head tremulous, staring steadily into the eyes that look so boldly out of the photograph at her.

She, too, has the gift of imagination.

When the Hour strikes, it seems to her that the picture before her is suddenly suffused with life. The eyes shimmer tenderly at her. The corners of the mouth twitch in a fleeting, meaningful smile.

For that smile, the old lady will wait the whole long year.


Dear old lady, forgive me this story.

We have invested our memorial day with so much of pomp and circumstance that we are in danger of letting the drums beat without the muffling of crepe. There should be pathos in this day. Pathos for all the lives laid down for us that we might have something better, higher, nobler. There is pathos in this story now.


It is an orchard.

Never, I trust, will you see such an orchard. It is like a drawing by the artist, Gustav Dore, illustrating Dante’s Inferno.

In the twilight, while harsh small snowflakes rattle down, an unearthly light streams from a narrow strip of fiery sky along the west, and lights up the grotesque arms of the apple trees, riven and torn. The orchard is terribly plowed.

In this orchard are more than two hundred men. But you cannot see them. They are hiding in shallow ditches, in the strange furrows of the gigantic plow that has lately worked this land. In mud and slush, two hundred men are hiding. On their helmets tinkle the small dry snowflakes. Over their heads wail demons. With no tune or rhythm, some satanic drummer plays a tune with drums like thunder.

But look! Somebody is moving. There. By those apple trees. Just this side of that sprawled heap of bricks and charred timbers.

It is a skinny lieutenant, with sunken eyes.

“Sergeant,” he says, “we’ll start now. It is dark enough.”

Out of the ground crawls the sergeant.

“Come along, you,” says the sergeant.

And two more figures rise, heavy, grotesque, out of the sodden earth. These two carry shovels.

Amidst the broken and gnarled apple trees, the four figures move hurriedly, cautiously, stooping, heavy-footed.

“Are there any more since?” asks the lieutenant over his shoulder.

“Just the seven,” says the sergeant. “We could wait for the padre to come up to-morrow.”

“No,” says the lieutenant. “The padre will be busy all night back yonder. They say he has forty to look after between the old front lines alone. But nevertheless, I won’t have these boys lying out here overnight. I can’t bear that. All alone. They look like little kids, somehow, when they are like that….”

The lieutenant is going a little leery.

“Pull up, sir,” warns the sergeant, kindly.

“I’m sorry, sergeant, but to-morrow, maybe we can have the padre come up and say a regular service over them. All I want is cover over them, you understand ….”

“Yes, sir; yes, sir. Let it go at that.”

The crawling little party, struggling over the shadowy ragged earth, reach a spot where a large shell hole has already been squared away, its sides chopped off and made into a pit, six feet deep.

And in the pit lie seven forms, over each one a coarse gray blanket. You can see only the square, rough boots sticking out from the bottom of the blankets. That is for counting.

“Now?” says the lieutenant, as the four stand, like figures in the picture called the Angelus, at the edge of the pit.

“First,” says the sergeant, “you take their identity discs and personal effects such as pay books, watches, rings, and tie them up in their handkerchiefs.”

“Sergeant,” says the lieutenant, “if you don’t mind, will you do that?”

“Yes, sir.”

The sergeant slides heavily down and one by one opens each tunic collar and removes the identity discs, searches briefly in the simple pockets, makes a little heap of papers, trinkets, frayed and flattened letters, on the blanket.

It is growing dark.

The sergeant down in the pit works quickly, stooping in the gloom. He ties each bundle in a khaki handkerchief with a knot. He hands up the seven small bundles and reaches up a hand for a lift.

“Now, sir,” says the sergeant, dusting off his hands. “It is customary for the officer to say a short prayer.”

“Oh,” says the lieutenant in a small voice. “A prayer.”

“The Lord’s Prayer,” suggests the sergeant.

The lieutenant is stumped.

“Ah, yes, the Lord’s Prayer,” he says, shifting his cane to his arm and clasping his hands in front of his belt.

The Lord’s Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer! Back through his bewildered, blistered, tortured brain he scurries, seeking down long, empty aisles of memory, down forgotten corridors, scampering, frightened, seeking, the Lord’s Prayer, how does it start?

His mind is blank. Just a bare, shabby room, as if his spirit had moved somewhere else.

How does it go, the Lord’s Prayer?

Tinkling on his steel helmet, the dry small snow. Around him the three men, heads bowed, resting on their shovels, waiting.

Tinkling, far back down the long hall of his memory, from far and far away, from babyhood, here it comes, the Lord’s Prayer, sweetly, coming, coming.

“Now I lay me down to sleep,” says the lieutenant, clearly, proudly.

“I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

“If I should die before I wake,

“I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

The men bow to the shovels. The dark earth tumbles in.

They stand there, still, the sergeant and he. The satanic drumming throbs. Baleful flickers of lightning. dragons’ tongues, dance about the edges of the world.

And the skinny lieutenant with the sunken eyes does not know, until the sergeant tells him three days later, in a dry town, under the bright April sun, that he has not got the Lord’s Prayer.


Since 1920, when the present organization took Christie hospital off military hands, 26,626 old soldiers have entered its doors to stay for weeks or months. This doesn’t mean out-patients. They have from 40,000 to 50,000 out-patient cases every year. But the 26,626 brought their bundles with them. That is a lot of men. It is more than half the number that had bayonets in their hands and carried the glory of Canada as the spear-head of the Allies at Amiens in 1918. It is more than thirty regiments, line strength. And it is only one hospital in a long string of hospitals, that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

In those thirteen years, 828 have died in Christie hospital. Perhaps you don’t recall Euclid Hall. It was a special hospital, set aside in the early days for that little group of local men who never would rise again. Well, there were forty men in Euclid Hall when it was closed and the inmates transferred to Christie St.

There are six left.

The tempo increases. So far this year, Christie St. has faced the west, to watch a good man out, seventy-four times!


There are two banquets at the big hotel Armistice night. The one is a gathering of war pilots from far and near, three or four hundred of them. The other is a banquet to launch a new veterans’ organization, the University Veterans League. Sir Arthur Currie is speaking to this second crowd, and hundreds and hundreds of Varsity men from Toronto, McGill, Queen’s, Dalhousie, the west, will be there to try to recapture, somehow, the lost legend.

The legend of passion, of patriotism, of unselfish sacrifice, of loyalty, leadership, courage.

They had it. In the war they all had it, the thousands of these privileged men, educated, fine, forward reaching. There is a sort of cloister up at Varsity, a sheltered place whose walls are carven from vaulted roof to floor with the myriad names of Toronto Varsity men who died. These who came home are now, fifteen years after, holding a great banquet, their guest the Canadian whom they honor above all other Canadians, and they are seeking the lost legend.


On Armistice night, the fifteenth anniversary, they will try to pick up the torch, flung to them from failing hands…

“Who,” I asked the committee in charge of the other big banquet, the war pilots, “are your speakers?”

“We are having no speakers,” said they. “No guests. No prime ministers, mayors, celebrities. Old Red Mulock will likely get up and ask us to drink to those who did not fly home. And of course, someone will toast the King.”

“But four hundred of you …?”

“Maybe,” said the committee. “Ernst Udet, the German ace, might run up from New York. We are trying to get him.”

“Will he speak?”

“No speeches,” reiterated the committee.

Ten, five, even one year ago, Armistice had speeches about it, but now we see a thousand Varsity men from a score of different universities coming for the first time together in humility with the confessed design of trying to find something very precious they have lost.

And the pilots …

I wish I could dress up as a waiter and be your eye-witness at that banquet.

To be a pilot, remember, you had to be young and free. Maybe 17, 18, 19 years old. You could not be in love. If you went on leave to Blighty and fell in love, you were no good when you rejoined your squadron. Not a care in the world. That was what you had to have when you were a war pilot.

Look at them now. Thirty-five. Forty. Heavy. Careful. Frightened of their banker. Fifteen Armistices ago, all they knew of banks was a queer little sweeping turn they gave the joy-sticks as they eagled their way across a far distant sky.

And whatever it is they want this night, when they gather together, it is not speeches.

God rest them merry.


Chateau de la Haie was just north of Villers au Bois.

It was a great, squat chateau standing amidst park ground, with walls and a gate letting into a stately drive under tall elms.

It used to be Madame Patti’s country estate.

But then we came along and made it a divisional headquarters, with hundreds of Nissen huts, those round-roofed tin huts, in the park, and staff cars and motorcycle dispatch riders tearing in the gates and brass hats embarrassingly numerous.

The last snapshot any of the boys have seen of the Chateau de la Haie showed the poor old gates fallen ajar, grass growing rankly in the entrance, and through the tall trees, the chateau standing and lonely within.

But up on Sturgeon lake in Ontario there is a new Chateau de la Haie.

It is an old farm house, and it is the permanent headquarters of the 67th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery.

There they have annual Armistice banquets. They have frequent reunions and outings, summer, winter. All through the year, you will likely find some of the battery there. In the summer, they go in turn with their families, a club house.

The 67th was the University of Toronto battery. It recruited students and graduates and people associated with the university. They never went to France as a unit, but they were long enough together to found what is perhaps the most lasting friendship to be found in any unit of the corps that assimilated half a million Canadian men.

They started in a casual way with a reunion dinner after the war. Being a battery, they were few enough in number to be manageable. They formed a lively association. They published a humorous and happy history of the unit. Then they bought the farm.

In the secret recesses of the farm is hidden a bottle of old and good Burgundy. Safe and sacred it lies, until at last there shall be only two members left of the 67th battery to inherit the riches and tradition of the Chateau de la Haie.

And when there are only two, they are pledged to open the Burgundy and drink a toast to the memory of a hundred men who were unique in that, all rank cast aside, officer and man, they maintained the fellowship of war through the vicissitudes of peace.

They are up there to-night.


Where is the G.W.V.A.?

And all the other veterans’ associations, with their meetings and deputations and parades, their clamor for a bonus, their leaders whose names we have now forgotten so that when someone recalls them, it strikes no familiar chord?

All in one legion now.

Orderly now, front page news no more, doing a quiet, steady work, taking up cases, fighting unobtrusively and resolutely for those speechless ones who don’t know the ropes that lead to pensions, hospital care, justice.


Poppy Fund? It assures us proudly that for some $30,000 received last year from public subscriptions and tag days it expended $85,000 worth of relief by ingenious development of its funds and activities, and on its list of directors are twenty imposing names of generals, colonels and well-known civilians.

Like the sea after a storm, it takes time to settle down.

After a typhoon, you do not expect a smiling calm.

The sea is not like that, nor the hearts of men. The hearts of men are hidden, mysterious, fathomless. At the university, I bought a second-hand textbook on philosophy to save myself the price of a matinee at the old Gaiety. The textbook set forth the whole mind of man, out of all the ages. It explained all. Classified all. It was authoritative and urbane. It had the mind and soul of man set out like canned goods on the grocery shelf. The professor saw me with the textbook. “It is no good,” he said. “It is ten years old.”

This mysterious, unknown soul of man, which still defies understanding, has suffered a great storm on a more universal scale than anything it has experienced perhaps since the Ice Age.

After the storm came the long rolleth in the 1920’s, bearing us along so splendidly, in the bright sunshine after the tempest, toward some shore, we felt certain.

Then came the calm. The sea was filled with flotsam, and we discovered a thing we had not observed, so happy were we to be spared. We found, when the sea subsided, that our vessel was battered and wrecked. And there was no appreciable shore.

Well, there are signs of a breeze. To bear us along again on the normal voyage, toward that still uncharted haven.

We are busy clearing away the wreckage, setting the ship in order.

And those of us who were on deck during the last storm devoutly hope that our navigators will do their duty on the bridge, where they can see the weather, instead of working it out in the chart house with the blinds drawn.


Editor’s Notes: The photo is of the the Old City Hall Cenotaph in Toronto, which was dedicated in 1925.

The Angelus is a painting by Jean-François Millet. Greg has written the story of the officer who could not remember the words of the Lord’s Prayer mnay times. Identity discs were used for identification of soldiers in the First World War, like modern “Dog tags“.

The Christie Street Veterans’ Hospital was at the corner of Lambertlodge Avenue and Christie Street, north of Dupont Street. It was originally a factory of the National Cash Register Company, but was converted into a hospital near the end of WW1. Overcrowding at the end of World War 2 contributed to the decision to build a new hospital at Bayview and Lawrence called Sunnybrook, opening in 1948. The old hospital became a seniors’ home known as Lambert Lodge, and was eventually torn down. On the site now is the Christie Gardens Apartments and Care Facility.

Euclid Hall was a grand home in Toronto at 515 Jarvis Street. The building was originally built in 1867 for Arthur McMaster. In 1882, it was purchased by Hart Massey. The building was then bequeathed to the University of Toronto’s Victoria College in 1915. Today it is a restaurant, the Keg Mansion.

Sir Arthur Currie, was the first Canadian commander of the Canadian Corps in WW1. Redford “Red” Mulock was a Canadian flying ace. Ernst Udet was German flying ace.

The G.W.V.A. was the Great War Veteran’s Association, one of many groups that advocated for veterans after the war. Since the number of groups separately were ineffective, they all merged in 1925 to become the Canadian Legion.

The story of the officer forgetting the Lord’s Prayer was one Greg would often write about.

The Tired Rich

“That’s the trouble with you Perkins. you go about with your eyes shut. It was a brand new tire Perkins – brand new tire – right here !!!”

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, October 28, 1933.

“I’d hate,” said Jimmie Frise, “to be a rich man in these times.”

“Goodness me,” I said, “right now I could do with a little riches.”

“Think of the way the rich are abused,” went on Jim. “Public speakers attacking them in no uncertain terms, everybody blaming them for wrecking the world, people sneering at them as they drive by in their costly limousines, the Reds cursing them … No, sir, I’d hate to be a rich man now.”

“Aw,” I said, “it’s just an accident if you are rich or poor. Just a matter of luck. Why should we blame people if they are fortunate. You might as well blame a guy for being six feet tall.”

“Luck!” cried Jimmie. “Accident! I’ve heard that before, and of all the ridiculous things I ever heard! Listen, my bow-legged little friend, a man isn’t rich by accident. I defy you to show me a single instance in which a man is rich except by hard labor, brains, eternal vigilance, long vision, slow amassing of pennies and dollars.”

“I’ve heard of fellows finding gold mines,” I said.

“After years of hard labor and toil, the like of which you haven’t the power to imagine,” said Jim.

“Well, how about rich men’s sons?” I asked. “They didn’t do anything for it.”

“Oh, didn’t they!” howled Jim. “I think the average rich man’s son earns his money ten times over. You don’t know rich men!”

“Well, I still think there is a lot of luck and good fortune in it,” I said. “A man thinks something up, or he gets an idea, or the market booms at the right minute or something.”

“Show me a single case,” demanded Jim. “I’ll tell you how people get rich. It’s in their nature. They are born with the gift. There are lots of industrious men that are poor. But few lazy men that are rich. How would you like to come out with me to-night while I demonstrate the difference between rich men and poor men?”

After supper, Jim came to my house and asked me if I had an old tire off my car lying around the garage.

“Yes, I have,” I said. “How would you know?”

“I am a profound student of human nature,” said Jimmie. “I just knew you were the kind of guy to have an old worn-out tire hanging up in your garage, along with a lot of other useless junk.”

A Test of Mankind

Jim carried the old tire, and it was a very old one, with the tread all worn off in spots, out to his car, and we drove down the street to a garage.

“Bill,” said Jim, “lend me some of that narrow brown paper that is wrapped around new tires.”

“Help yourself,” said the garage man.

So with my assistance, Jimmie carefully unwrapped the long narrow ribbon of brown paper off a new tire and then as carefully wrapped it around my old tire.

“What’s the idea?” I asked, as we struggled to get the paper on evenly.

“The idea,” said Jim, “is to make this old tire of yours look like a new tire.”

After we had the job done, Jim carried the tire out to the car again, and we drove to the west end of the city and out the highway in the night.

“This looks like a very mysterious experiment to me,” I said. “Are we going to find a rich man in the suburbs?”

“We are going out to find all men,” said Jim. “Out here a little way we will have all mankind revealed to us.”

We slowed down at all side roads, peering up them and at the bushes and ditches, and at length, about ten miles out, Jimmie slowed down on the pavement, drove up the side road fifty yards and parked the car on the turf.

Carrying the wrapped tire and a long piece of light rope, Jim led me back to the highway. Along the road a hundred yards or so we came to a spot where, across the ditch from the pavement was a clump of dense bushes. Jim jumped the ditch and went in and examined the bushes, and then announced, “This spot will do.”

He tied the rope to the tire. He laid the tire on the earth shoulder of the highway, with just the edge of it touching the pavement. Then, unwinding the rope, he walked back to the bushes, and crawled into them and hid.

“Come on in here,” said Jim. “The great experiment in human nature is about to begin. We are about to have revealed to us the hidden character of mankind. The secret of Croesus is about to be laid bare.”

I got into the dark and damp bushes alongside of Jimmie and we waited in the night.

Traffic was not really heavy at this season of the year on the highway. Three or four cars passed going the other way on the far side of the pavement, but presently a car’s lights hove in view and we waited, as it came sailing along at about forty-five miles, and its rapidly brightening lights picked out the tire lying on the edge of the road.

Reactions To Opportunity

As it whizzed by, we heard a yell from it.

Then we heard its brakes go on and the car slowed.

Jim gave a yank on the rope and hauled the tire hand over fist into the bushes with us.

The car came backing slowly along the edge of the road.

“It was right along here, somewhere,” cried a lady’s voice. The car came slowly past us. We could see two men and two ladies in it, all peering out the open windows.

It was a medium sort of car, not new, not old, in about the $1,000 price class. It was blue in color and neatly washed and polished.

“Maybe you were seeing things,” said a man’s voice.

“I tell you it was a brand new tire,” cried the lady’s voice. “All wrapped in that windey paper. And it was right along here. Right here.”

They back on past us. They went fifty feet back of where the tire had lain, and then the lady got out, with one of the men, and with the car crawling slowly along behind them, they came walking past us, looking in the ditch.

“That’s the funniest thing,” said the lady, in a puzzled voice. “I’d have sworn I saw a tire lying there.”

“Come on, get in,” said the driver. “You were just seeing things as usual.”

“I tell you I saw a tire on the –” And amidst the shifting of gears and the stepping on the gas, a first-class quarrel was in process as the car pulled away and left us in the night hiding in the bushes.

“There you are!” said Jim, getting up to replace the tire on the highway. “The woman sees the opportunity. But nobody believes her. Now she even doubts her own senses.”

We laid the tire in the same spot and retreated into the bushes as another car’s lights glimmered over the rise in the distance.

This was an old car. It was going a bad forty. It rattled and hummed and chattered. It almost ran over the tire, slowed a little bit and then went right on.

I looked in amazement at Jimmie.

“There,” said Jimmie, “is your poor man for you. He saw the tire. He actually started to stop. But then he either doubted his eyes, or else he thought it wasn’t worth while stopping. The poor lose all faith in their luck. They don’t believe in opportunity even when they see it.”

Another car was coming.

It was another old-timer. It had curtains.

It saw the tire and jammed on its brakes with might and main. Jim yanked the cord and hauled the tire into safety.

Then Unheeding Youth

The old car sputtered and backed dangerously up the road toward us, as a man’s head stuck out the side, directing the driver.

“It was right back here,” said a man’s voice. “Another ten yards or so.”

He had the spot right.

“Well, that’s a queer thing,” he said, in an easy way. “I saw a new wrapped tire right there, and now it’s vanished.”

“Aw, it probably wouldn’t have fitted anyway,” said the voice of the driver. “Or we might have got pinched by the police for trying to sell it. It’s just as well. Let’s go on.”

“Back up just another ten yards,” said the near man. “Distance is deceptive in the dark.”

They backed ten yards past where the tire had lain.

“Let it go,” said the near man, lazily. “I doubt if it was a tire after all. So often things that look like something aren’t really anything after all.

And the shabby old car humped up and jaggled on its way.

“There you are,” said Jim. “That’s the poor man. He has no faith in himself or his luck or anything else.”

We carried the tire back and laid it on the edge of the asphalt again.

Two cars passed without seeing it. Then came far away the low whine and hum of a fast car. Its lights were blazing, and it was boring gaily right down the centre of the road. As it whizzed past, a girl’s voice sang out. And the car took about a hundred yards to come to a stop.

Jim hauled the tire into the bushes.

Skillfully, speedily, the car backed up to us. It was a very new car, well up in the $2,000 price class, de luxe sport model. Wine red. All aglitter.

“It was a tire, Eddie!” said the girl’s voice clearly.

“Aw, the heck with it!” cried Eddie’s voice. “Let’s get on to the party. Who wants a tire, anyway? We’ve got a tire!”

And blithely, they shifted gears and raced away.

“That,” said Jim, rising from the bushes with the tire, “needs no comment. That is Youth!”

We laid the tire again.

A couple more cars went by, unheeding. Their drivers’ eyes glued to the centre of the road. their passengers sunk in the reverie of riding.

Then came the large, bold headlights of a big car.

It came with a steady, smooth pace of a big rich car.

As it sailed majestically past us, we saw it was driven by a chauffeur in uniform, his face lighted with the dashlights.

And the high, angry voice of a large fat man suddenly bellowed: “Perkins, Perkins’, slow down, you fool!”

How a Rich Man Gets Rich

The big car came to a smooth, $6,000 stop.

“Back up, back up!” came the high, irritable voice.

Jim had hauled the tire in and we held it in our laps. We could see the head of a large man projecting from the side window of the limousine, all dark blue and glossy.

“Stop here,” cried the high voice.

Out of the car stepped a fat man in a heavy ulster and a derby hat.

“It was right here,” shouted the big man in his high, angry voice. “Right on that spot.” And he pointed to the very spot Jimmie had laid the tire.

“Didn’t you see it, Perkins?” demanded the high voice testily.

“No, sir, no sir!” said Perkins, coming quickly out of his driving seat and standing on the road shoulder.

“That’s the trouble with you, Perkins,” shouted the rich man. “You never see anything. You go about with your eyes shut. It was a brand new tire, Perkins and it was wrapped in spiral paper. A brand new tire. Right here.”

“Well, sir, it isn’t there now,” remarked Perkins.

“Of course it isn’t!” shouted the rich man. “I can see that myself.”

“Maybe it was an optical illusion,” ventured Perkins.

“Am I in the habit of having optical illusions?” roared the rich man, in a choking voice. “Don’t be a d—- fool, Perkins. The tire was right here. Now it is gone. Let’s find it. Tires don’t vanish.”

Perkins stared at the ground.

But the old man, after a couple of fierce glares up and down the ditch, suddenly walked straight forward across the ditch and before Jim or I could move a leg, he was on top of us, staring down at us in the brush, with the tire on our knees.

“Here,” commanded the rich man, give me that tire!”

Jim untied the knot with a couple of left twitches. He handed the tire up. The rich man seized it, and stamped back over the ditch, and flung the tire into his limousine.

He stamped back to the car carrying the tire

“There you are!” he yelped at Perkins. “Drive on!”

And Jimmie and I were sitting in the bushes.

“Well,” sighed Jim. “What do you know about that! He knew he saw the tire. He had the exact spot. He knew tires don’t evaporate. He simply went and looked for it. And when he found it, he took it.”

“Phew!” said I, struggling to my feet.

“Now that,” said Jim, “was a rich man. No doubts, fears, or illusions. No waste of time. He just gathered that tire in.”

“I’ll say he did.”

Jim rolled up his heavy string and stuffed it in his pocket and we walked back to the highway toward the side road where Jim was parked.

“I’m laughing,” I said, “to think of that rich guy when he opens the tire and sees that old tire of mine.”

“I suppose,” said Jim, “that most things a rich man gets turn out to be junk. But there is just one thing loose in that idea.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“He won’t open the tire,” said Jim. “He’ll sell it. The surprise will be somebody else’s.”

“As usual,” I muttered.


Editor’s Notes: Croesus was the king of Lydia in ancient Greece, and was synonymous with great wealth.

Tires sold at the time would commonly be whitewall tires. New tires were wrapped in paper for shipping, to keep the white stripe clean, and for preventing the black of other tires from rubbing on the whitewall side.

$1000 in 1933 would be $19,800 in 2021. $6000 would be $119,000.

Even though this is one of their earlier stories, it is the first time I saw censoring of language (“d—–” instead of “damned”).

What a Cowincidence

Bessie munched the corn with a loud hollow crunching sound

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, September 16, 1933.

“Oh, is that so!” shouted Jimmie Frise to a startled-looking gentleman who collided with me in the office doorway as I came in and he went out.

“What the dickens!” I said to Jim. “That isn’t like you.”

“That guy,” said Jimmie, obviously flustered, “is a bum. He is a soak. He is a dead beat. He is a loafer.”

“Some of the nicest people are the unfortunate,” I said piously.

“I agree,” said Jim, instantly getting control of himself. “I dislike successful people as a rule. But that guy, after I’ve lent him I don’t know how many dollars, just informed me that I had no heart.”

“He was perhaps upset,” I said gently.

“Don’t be so sweet and tender,” cried Jimmie. “You bet he is upset. He is down and out. He is flat. He is in the gutter. I’ve lifted that guy up so many times and stood him on his feet, my hands are sore from dusting him off. I’ve got up out of bed and dressed and got the car out and driven half way across this city to save him from being evicted. And now because I am broke, too, he says I have no heart.”

“I guess it must be terrible to be up against it,” I said.

“He’s not up against it,” said Jim. “He’s down against it. Down against the pebbles. at in A mistake to try and help some people. A big mistake. Nature intended them to be failures. They were designed, modelled and constructed to fail. They are equipped to fail. And unless they fail, they are not happy. Do you follow me?”

“It sounds incredible,” I said.

“Now look,” said Jim. “That man that just went out the door would be unhappy if he were succeeding. He would be worse. His health would suffer. Nature built him to fail. He’s got to fail in order to function naturally.”

“Preposterous,” I said.

“We go along,” said Jim, “with the sappy notion that it is within the power of all men to succeed. To be good. To win. I think all the evidence points to the fact that nature, in her careless and haphazard way of breeding mankind, has no such intention at all. And that there are some men as naturally equipped to fail and to suffer as some men are naturally equipped to succeed and to be happy.”

“What an idea!” I gasped. But I saw it, just the same. And with a sinking sensation.

“Therefore,” said Jim, “when we go around picking men up out of the gutter and setting them on their feet, we are really injuring them. Making them unhappy. Making man stand up who is wholly designed by nature to lie down. It’s cruel of us, that’s what it is.”

“Why, Jimmie,” I expostulated, “you are striking right at the roots of civilization! Our whole world structure is on the basis of elevating our less fortunate or able brethren.”

“It’s swell-looking civilization,” said Jim. “Isn’t it? I suppose you are the sort of man who, on seeing a poor cow standing in pasture, suddenly is smitten with conscience. You say to yourself, ‘Ah, poor cow. Standing out there in the wind and the weather, with nothing but grass to eat. While I, I live in comfortable sheltered home, with all manner of good things to eat.'”

For Philosophy’s Sake

“I do feel sort of sorry for cows,” I admitted. “Their lives seem so frustrated.”

“So,” went on Jimmie, “I suppose you would go and take that cow into your home and feed it macaroons and ice cream?”

“A cow, Jimmie,” I said, “is, when you come to think of it, as sad a spectacle as there is in the world. If they are not intended for beef, thus dooming them to an early death, they are bound to spend their entire lives, maybe fifteen years, raising an endless succession of calves, which they hardly get to know before their infants are stolen from them, so that we may take milk from them. Slavery of the worst sort. Inhuman and monstrous slavery, to take those dumb animals and convert nature’s sublime purpose to our own selfish ends.”

“What,” asked Jimmie, “was nature’s sublime purpose as regards cows?”

“Er, ah,” I said.

“Precisely, er, ah,” said Jimmie. “Nature intended the cow to be somebody’s goat. But you, you sentimentalist, would try to elevate the lot of the cow and bring it into your home.”

“It would be interesting, Jimmie, to bring cow into our homes and observe its reactions. After all,” I said, “we are not merely philosophers, Jimmie. We are practical philosophers. We do not merely think things. We do them.”

“Your family is still away?” asked Jim.

“Yes,” I said. “Ah, me.”

“Then we could bring the cow into your house,” said Jimmie. “Where do you suggest we get a cow?”

“It is only a little way from where we live to the stock yards,” I said. “I think we could get a cow up there for fifteen or twenty dollars. Some poor old cheap cow. Some cow thrust ungratefully out of its happy home, after fifteen years of faithful and devoted service, because it’s milk is failing. Think of it, Jimmie!”

“I wish I hadn’t mentioned cows,” said Jimmie. “I didn’t know this was one of your sentimental days.”

“A poor old cow,” I said, “world-weary, infirm and bereft of all its illusions. Carted down there to the stock yards in a motor truck. Maybe we could get it for ten dollars. And after our experiments are over, we might sell it for fifteen. I intend to fatten any cow I take into my home.”

“I’ll be glad to co-operate with you,” said Jimmie, who was born and raised on the farm. “How will we get it down to your house? I don’t fancy I see you driving a cow through the residential streets of Toronto.”

“For philosophy’s sake,” I said, “I would drive anything through the streets of Toronto.”

“As a matter of fact, you do,” said Jim. “But I guess we could get the farmers we buy the cow from to fetch it down in their truck.”

We went up Monday. I need not harass you with the touching scene of all those cows we saw, but we had not been fifteen minutes at the stock yards before we spotted the cow we knew was designed by nature for the purposes of social research.

She was a dear old cow, red in color, with large flat bones projecting from her in all directions. Her bones were intended for a much larger cow.

“Her name is Bessie,” said the young man who was in charge of her.

“She looks kind of poorly,” said Jimmie. “How old is she?”

“About eight,” said the young farmer. “She’s just a poor feeder, that’s all. We thought we’d run her in as a canner.”

Taking Bessie Home

“How much?” asked Jim.

“How would fifteen do?” bargained the young farmer.

“We want this cow delivered down into the city,” said Jim. “And we’ll offer twelve.”

“Sold,” said the farmer. “What’s the address?”

“We go with you,” said Jim.

And with no more sentiment than that, this young man disposed of Bessie. Bessie who had for eight years, probably, been part of the scenery around his home, whose sweet voice had waked him in the morning.

Bessie was led on to a platform and shoved into the truck. We climbed on to the front seat and we drove down to my house and into the side drive.

“How do we get her out of the truck?” I asked. “She doesn’t look like much of a jumper.”

Jim and the farmer got the planks out of my coal bin and, with the aid of the dog kennel, two dining room chairs and a boy’s express wagon, made ramp in about five minutes, and Bessie walked down and into my garden. I could see an expression of satisfaction as she looked about at the flower beds. She started cropping the short sweet grass.

The French windows at the back were opened, and with the aid of the young farmer, Jimmie and I led, shoved and heaved Bessie in through the dining room to the living room.

Cows have an instinct about these things. Bessie did not want to intrude in my house. She had a feeling she would be out of place. It is the feeling we humans experience when we are faced with the necessity of attending government house or calling on some rich relative. I explained this to Jimmie and the farmer.

The farmer left us, after pocketing the twelve dollars.

“Now, what would a cow like to eat, more than anything else in the world?” I asked Jimmie.

“Corn, apples, carrots,” said Jimmie. “A cow loves to chew a cob of raw corn sprinkled with salt.”

“Amuse her for a moment while I run over to the fruit store,” I asked.

When I got back with half a dozen corn, Bessie was lying down on the thick rug in the middle of the living room floor, and Jim was sitting on the chesterfield looking at her.

“She likes the place,” said Jimmie. “If I know my Bessies, you will have a fine time getting her up.”

I peeled a cob of corn and sprinkled the salt shaker on it. I held it out, and Bessie, after shyly turning her head away, suddenly reached out, licked and took the cob in her mouth. I sat down beside Jimmie to watch.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” I cried. “Doesn’t she enjoy it, the comfort, the shelter.”

Bessie munched the corn with a loud, hollow crunching sound. She did not nibble off the kernels of corn, the way you or I might. She chewed it cob and all.

She chewed and chewed. She swallowed and chewed. She swallowed several times, with a far away gaze travelling around my living room, looking at the pictures of green fields, streams and trees.

Sharing Our Comforts

“Jimmie,” I said, “isn’t it wonderful to think you are entertaining a cow right in your own home?”

“It does seem strange,” said Jimmie.

“Doesn’t this prove that it is only our prejudice, our class feeling, our ignorance, that we deny to others the comforts we enjoy ourselves?”

“Wait till she gets up and starts walking around,” said Jimmie.

We fed Bessie the six cobs of corn, with salt on them, and except for a few bits dropped around on the rug, she ate it quite as nicely as an eight-year-old child would. Perhaps with more noise.

We turned on the radio. Bessie turned a slow, astonished gaze on the source of the music. She stretched out her nose and sniffed. It was jazz. Bessie, without warning, suddenly mooed loudly. I turned off the radio.

Bessie began swinging her head.

“She’s going to get up now,” said Jim, rising.

Bessie rose rear end first. It was really rather astonishing. With a good deal of effort and fidgeting, she hoisted her hind end into the air, and then, with a sort of helpless creaking and grunting, she got her front legs under her and stood up. She shook her head.

First she turned around and started into the front hall. It was dark and cool. She nuzzled the curtains on the tall windows alongside the front door. Then she turned heavily around, her feet making a clacking sound on the hardwood floor, and walked, with that curious knock-kneed style of a cow, through the pantry into the bright kitchen. She snuffed and whoofed around the kitchen and then turned and went back into the dining room.

“I don’t suppose she would walk upstairs,” I said.

“I doubt it,” said Jim. “I imagine she is older than she admits. It might strain her heart or something.”

She stood for a moment staring out through the French windows into the garden, and then she did a silly thing.

She started to walk right through the windows, glass and all!

“Hey!” I yelled.

Bessie’s forehead and horns crashed into the windows and she leaped back, dragging yard of lace curtain on one of her horns. She fell back against the dining room table which upset with a terrific sound, and Bessie wheeled and charged into the living room.

“Head her back, I’ll open the French doors,” yelled Jimmie.

But the rug in the living room floor skidded under Bessie and she went down with a loud thud, if you can imagine a loud thud, and her four legs went under the chesterfield. Meanwhile, I was chasing after her trying to explain.

As she kicked and fought the chesterfield off her, the small table with the stand lamp collapsed, and with a bellow of terror, Bessie who a few moments before had got to her feet with such slow undignity, almost leaped to her feet, and avoiding me as if I were trying to persecute her, rather than help her, dashed into the hall, out through the pantry and so back into the dining room again.

“Hey-up!” shouted Jimmie, trying to steer her toward the wide open French doors, but Bessie wheeled to the left, jumped the dining room table which lay on its side, and on arriving in the living room again, slid on the rumpled rug and with another awful crash, skidded into the radio, which folded up like paper bag.

Giving the Guest Away

This time Bessie lay. She just lay, her sides heaving. She let her neck stretch along the floor and her head rest gratefully on the cool hardwood. And all around was chaos.

Jimmie had disappeared, and when I went to the French window I found him sitting on the stone step outside, his head in his hands, laughing.

“She is lying down,” I said to him.

“She’s better that way,” said Jim. “Let her lay.”

“I guess we ought to get her out,” I said.

Jimmie got up and came in the house with me. Bessie was still lying there on the cool floor, breathing spasmodically, but heavily.

“Hey-up,” said Jimmie, taking her by the horns, and lifting her head up.

Jim pulled and I shoved from the sides. Finally, Bessie rose up, the way she did the first time, and with Jim holding her horns, we led her out the French door into the garden where she started cropping the grass as if life was just a matter of the moment anyway.

With Jim holding her horns, we led Bessie out the French door.

“I intended,” I said, “to have her for my guest for a couple of days. But under the circumstances….”

“I’d turn her in,” said Jim. “We could phone the stock yards and get someone come for her.”

While I sat in the garden and watched Bessie walk about cropping the grass, Jim went in and bargained with the stock yards. As a matter of fact, we gave Bessie away. Neither Jim nor I had the heart to sell her. The way her former owner had disposed of her without a thought was an object lesson to me. When Jimmie said he had got a man to take Bessie away for two dollars as the cost of the trucking, I told him it was just the bargain I would have made myself.

The man came in a few minutes. He had whiskers. I did not like his looks and I fear for Bessie. But you can’t think such thoughts and enjoy your roast beef.

“That experiment,” said Jim, “was worth ten dollars to me. That guy that was in the office and started all this show by saying! had no heart, wanted ten bucks. I’m going to drive down where he lives, and give it to him. Do you want to come?”

We drove down through the beautiful city, and into queer small streets with old faded houses, and in one of the most faded of all houses, we walked up two flights of stairs and into a dim room where we me the gentleman who had collided with me in the office door.

And Jim gave him the money and said he hoped he would soon be on his feet again.

Which shows at any rate that Jim is a practical philosopher.


Editor’s Notes: This is one of the early stories, where they would do weird things, just for the experience.

$12 in 1933 would be $239 in 2021.

Radio Goes Roady

September 9, 1933

This nice illustration by Jim accompanied an article by Ely Waters about cars with radios in them. Since radios back then had vacuum tubes, they could be very expensive. The first commercial car radio debuted in 1930 for $130 (almost $2000 in 2021), which could be 25% the price of a car.

I love this line from the story: “If you have a son who drives like a lunatic and every time the telephone rings after eleven p.m. you are afraid to answer it because it might be the hospital or the morgue, give him a car radio. It will cut his speed in two.”

It Must Be a Sea Flea!

August 26, 1933

Radio in the Kitchen

No longer is the radio mere novelty in a few of the rural homes of Ontario, but it is an established institution, presenting a regular galaxy of stars and entertainment

By Gregory Clark, July 15, 1933.

Into the village of Terra Nova – which lies somewhere between the desert sands of Camp Borden and the jungles of the Nottawasaga Valley – we drove and pulled up by the garage.

Over on the general store steps sat five young men. They had on faded overalls, shapeless caps and hats on the back of their heads. They wore that air of doing nothing forever that seems a gift of general store steps.

I got out of the car and walked around to the radiator cap which I pretended to be examining.

And then, very casually, I started to whistle some bars from “Stormy Weather,” the Cotton club tune which at the moment is making snakes hips from the Panama canal to the Arctic Circle.

Out of the corners of our eyes we watched.

The five lads on the general store steps tired lazy heads to look at each other. They grinned mildly.

Then two of them joined me in the tune, whistling, moving sympathetically in snakes hips motions on the general store steps.

Another softly clapped his hands to the sweet, moving rhythm of this up-to-the-minute tune.

The fourth rolled his eyes up in the familiar ecstasy of the jazz.

Hicks nevermore!

Hick towns are suddenly vanished from the face of our earth.

The same night that Cab Calloway in his Cotton club with coffee-colored Ethel Waters electrified exotic New York with “Stormy Weather,” these same boys of Terra Nova, fresh from the plow and the harrow on the lonely hills of remote and lost portion of Ontario, heard it, stilled to it, rose to it, thrilled to it, through the magic, the distance-destroying timeless, house-changing, farm-changing, style-changing, habit-changing magic of radio.

Ten years ago, those five youths, up from their solitary toil on these steps for a soft drink, might never have heard “Stormy Weather.” They might have heard it when it was old and stale in some Chinese restaurant in Shelburne or Barrie, sizzling out on a worn victrola record, when they came to town for their monthly or half-yearly bust of recreation.

In blue suits, stiff-legged, dangle-handed, they would have sat shyly, and red of face, in the cubicle of a Chinese restaurant in country town, half pickled with the bright lights, the spaciousness, the busy thronging crowds of Barrie or a Shelbourne Chinese cafe. And they would have barely heard it and at once have forgotten it.

Today, they know it, they know their popular, their classic, their artists, their humorists, their stylists of the earth and the air better than the very New Yorkers who sit in the club where these elegances are first born. For radio is a selector. And country people, with silence and space and loneliness all about them, are selective, too.

We went out all over central Ontario, down side roads up clay back roads, visiting farms and finding out what radio means to the farm.

We found many curious and delightful things. We found, for instance, that in the farm, the radio net is in the kitchen.

We found that it has transformed lonely houses into homes filled with life.

We found that lonely women, who spent all day listening to the far music of their men’s voices directing horses on distant fields, now have company all the long day, bright clever women talking about women’s affairs, music, funny talks by funny men, and talks by that heart-breaker, Tony Wons.

They see their men-folk coming hurrying across the meadows in the middle of the day to listen to some special program, some speech, debate, discussion of affairs. Or to join with the women in laughing at some favorite joker. Because in the country, they love fun.

“It seems to me,” said Adrain Bateman, whose lovely and prosperous farm lies between Bradford and Bond Hend, in little known but rich section of Ontario, “that radio must mean twice as much to the farmer as it does to the town men. For example, I can’t say how much I would miss the weather forecast and the news. It is a small thing to you. But an important, all important, thing to the farmer. Until lately there was a noon broadcast of livestock prices taken at the stock yards that same morning. That is bread and butter to the farmer; when a buyer came along in the afternoon, you knew and could refer to the current prices of stock. You can watch from day to day the prices of the very thing you are producing, stock, grain and produce.”

In Mr. Adrian Bateman’s fine home, where geraniums gleam at the windows, there are grown-up children and an old man, to whom that radio with its thousand voices, Its Amos ‘n’ Andy, its hockey games, is the difference between happiness and unrest.

“I have no doubt,” said Mr. Bateman, “that throughout the country, the younger people are much happier, much more satisfied to remain on the farm than they have been for many years. The radio in some degree restores what farm life lost when the towns and cities took such an enormous lead in the entertaining aspect of life.”

Mr. Tom Huxtable dwells somewhere in between that village of Terra Nova and the more widely known village of Horning’s Mills; although there is no harm if you never heard of it either.

“What programs do the country people like?” we asked.

“Well,” said he. “I like the news morning and night. And I like speeches on politics and current affairs.”

“And the family?”

Mr. Huxtable’s family numbers eight.

“Each member of the family has his or her own likes,” said he. “Eddie Cantor, certain orchestras. certain singers. I don’t quite follow it all, but it seems to me the average country family is an authority on all that is liveliest, newest and best on the air. You can hear a debate on music, drama or any of the arts at any fence corner, at any cross roads from one end of the country to the other.”

“You like news?”

“Yes,” said Mr. Huxtable, “and I find I know more about what is going on in Toronto and New York than the city people I talk to. They apparently haven’t time to keep up with what’s going on.”

Has Transformed Farm Life

But near Stroud, which is in Simcoe county, the family of Mr. Bert Marquis is half boys and half girls.

“We want breakfast before the news broadcast,” said one son. “But we usually have to wait for lunch until the noon broadcast is over.”

“And how about the 11 p.m. new broadcast?”

“The head man always sits up for that,” answered the daughter. “You will see lights burning all over the country now, where darkness reigned before 10 p.m. five years ago. In the winter, especially on Saturday nights when there are hockey games and Wade’s square dance orchestra, the lights burn a lot later than they ever have in the entire history of farming. One night last winter, they burned until after 2 o’clock. That was the famous five-hour game. Those who have radios invite their less fortunate neighbors over. The radio has transformed social life on the farm. Radio has brought more neighborliness into the country than perhaps all the organizations there have been for creating a social spirit on the farm.”

We encountered one farmer who said that he had a large room in his house in which, on the average winter Saturday night, ten families from the surrounding township were represented.

“Such visiting was never heard of five years ago,” and he. “The room filled with visitors, the radio going. the women-folk preparing sandwiches and coffee. Radio has created a new atmosphere on the farm.”

The storekeeper at Bond Head thought that perhaps 30 per cent of all the farmers had radios in operation.

Nat Bredin, who runs the hotel at Bond Head, says he owes radio a good deal of business, because all winter long, especially on Saturday nights, it attracted twenty to thirty farmers from all around who wanted to hear the game. And the food programs during the week draw customers for the soft drinks, the pool tables and the pleasant company of the hotel common room. The bar was abolished and hotels went lean. Now radio in making the hotel a gathering place once more.

Out Stayner way there was one farmer who resolutely refused to buy a radio.

“It is an instrument of the devil,” he declared to the various radio salesmen who called at his farm. The radio salesmen make the rounds of the country the way they cannot in towns and cities. “Instrument of the devil,” asserted this well-to-do farmer. “It is nothing but jazz and nonsense. Bringing more of that city stuff into the country. Turning all the young people’s heads. Taking everybody’s mind off the serious business of farming. No, sir, no radio for me!”

This farmer was a religious man of the type still found in large numbers on the land. One clever radio salesman took a radio out one Sunday morning. Owing to the difference between city and country time it was possible for him to get one of the big Toronto churches at 10 o’clock country time, before the farmer was ready to go to church. The farmer did not want the thing in his house but the salesman explained that he merely wanted to show that for all its faults, the radio was great instrument for good.

The farmer heard choirs lifting their mighty voices, organs resounding, deep voices intoning prayer that filled the farm house. He was deeply impressed. He was sorry he had to leave for church just as the radio minister got nicely launched into the sermon.

Front Rooms Opening Up

“Besides church,” said the salesman, “you can get the prime minister of Canada, the president of the United States, and yes, the King of England himself, discussing public questions.”

“And,” said our informant, “one month later, you could go by that farmhouse at any hour of the night, and you could hear all the jazz bands in the world lifting the roof of it!”

You know that front room in farm houses? The one immediately behind that front door that never opens? That room in used for funerals, weddings and nothing else.

But not always, since radio.

Because those who bought radios in the pre-shiver days, bought those large console or cabinet style, and naturally you could not clutter up a farm kitchen with a great big elegant piece of furniture like that. So was put either just beyond the kitchen door, or right in that parlor.

And now many farm parlors of Ontario are back in circulation again.

We saw radios on shelves, on top of sewing machines, on ice boxes, radios in chairs, on cream separators in comers, on the floor.

But the kitchen wins out by a big majority as the favorite position.

“I hope the radio commission will give us country people a set program of farm market reports,” said one.

“I wish they would give us a news broadcast at 10 o’clock at night,” said another. “Eleven is too late for farmers to stay up.”

But the great majority had no suggestions to make.

They like the same things the New York broker in his love nest likes, the same joker who jokes for Broadway gets across with the little house hidden down the narrow ways

Their speech is coming easier, since they hear so much of it in their once quiet houses all day long.

What the greatest cities have of laughter, of wisdom, of art and science they are spilling out into the sky, to fall like the rain on the bourgeoning earth.

And, like rain, like sunlight, it is making things grow in the country.


Editor’s Notes: The song, “Stormy Weather“, came out the year this was published, first played in the famous Cotton Club nightclub in New York.

“Snake Hips”, was a type of dance.

Tony Wons Scrapbook“, was a popular program as Anthony “Tony” Wons was also known as “scrapbookman” as he collected works of writing from Shelley, Whitman, and other great writers. The show was conversational in nature, like an old friend who stops by for a chat.  He often asked the listening audience “Are you listening?”

Eddie Cantor was a popular singer and comedian.

Cave Men

Softly and terribly the low moan came from the darkness ahead

In the shadows on these ghostly walls, I thought suddenly he was wearing a skirt

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, July, 8, 1933

“I was out for a drive Sunday,” said Jim, “and near Bronte I hear there is a great cave where William Lyon Mackenzie hid in his flight to the United States when the rebellion of 1837 blew up.”

“It would be nice to go exploring caves,” I said.

“That must have been a great adventure,” said Jim. “Only the pioneers would know about the cave. Maybe the Indians had told the pioneers, and along came Mackenzie in the night, with the Redcoats hunting him high and low, with £1,000 on his head, and some pioneer in his little log cabin hearing a rap on the door…”

“William Lyon Mackenzie,” I put in, “was dressed as a woman at that time. You know that gas station at Trafalgar, on the Dundas Highway? Well, sir, back of that gas station is an old roughcast tavern, a hundred and thirty-seven years old. It was a stage coach headquarters, and there Mackenzie came in the night, exhausted, and they dressed him in women’s clothes and hid him in an upstairs room while the soldiers who were hunting for him sat eating and drinking down in the tavern.”

“Well, then,” said Jim, “some pioneer down the Twelve Mile Crick heard a rap on his door and there stood Mackenzie in his women’s clothes, exhausted, beaten, bitter, alone. So they took him out across the little clearing and through the bush to this great cave on the hillside of the Twelve Mile. And he hid there until the posse of Redcoats on horseback came down the wild road.”

“You make it real,” I said.

“And the troop would stay out in the road while one Redcoat rode in,” went on Jimmie, “to shout out to the settler if they had seen a man, a little, fiery man with glittering eyes, come by. And the pioneer, with all his children locked in the roothouse for fear they might speak, would shake his head patriotically and say no, he had not seen any such a man come by this way.”

“Let’s go out there,” I said to Jimmie. “Let’s visit that cave. You don’t know what we might see in there. Or meet, for that matter. It is nearly a hundred years since Mackenzie hid there. Maybe the spirit of Mackenzie would appear to us.”

“They say it is a hard cave to get into,” said Jim. “It is on an estate called Woodlands; it used to be the homestead where Sir Thomas White was born and raised.”

“I’d like to spend a night in it,” I said.

So Jim and I got overalls and flashlights and pickaxes in case of trouble, and we drove out to the lovely Woodlands farm. On the way we stopped at the tavern at Trafalgar. All the gas station men knew about it was that it was very old and that Governor Simcoe used to stop there on his journeys by stage coach between York, Niagara and London.

The gas station men took us inside. The floors are of pine boards twenty-six inches wide, and the timbers are hand hewn. Upstairs the rooms are tiny, not much larger than pantries, with little low roofs. There is a front stairs and a back stairs and a most mysterious trap door stairs. It is mostly empty now. But if you stop and hold your breath you can hear very small sounds, such as spirits would make as they came to look at you, intruding in their private place.

Where Mackenzie Hid

“What a lovely bit of yesterday!” said Jimmie, eyeing the broad boards, the little sloping ceilings, the doorframes made by hand a century and a quarter ago by Canadians.

“Is there no record of which room William Lyon Mackenzie hid in?” we asked.

But the boys at the gas station did not know about that. They only knew about Governor Simcoe, which shows they are Tories.

We went from room to room and Jimmie finally decided it was the little room on the west side, looking out over the fields-toward the Sixteen Mile Crick, which Mackenzie would have to cross at dawn on a fallen tree before he could get to the Bronte creek, the Twelve Mile, to hide in his great cave.

The Mackenzie cave is hard to find. Even to-day it would be a good place to hide from the soldiers.

As Jimmie and I went through the deep woods, filled with flowers, we began to feel the spell of the past, and several times we saw Indians and Redcoats slipping from tree to tree, watching us as we advanced to the hundred foot high banks of the Twelve Mile.

A path leads steeply down to the Mackenzie cave. A path worn mostly by a century of boyhood.

On a shelf of the steep and sheer bank of the Twelve Mile Crick, which you pass on the long bridge over the Dundas Highway, we found the Mackenzie cave.

Its entrance is just a split in the great limestone rocks. Just a huge mouth, slightly open, as if the cliff were holding its breath.

“Or as if it were smiling,” said Jimmie, as we rested at the cave mouth and peered into the dim and forbidding entrance.

At first sight, the entrance to the Mackenzie cave appears too small for a person to enter. In fact, a big man would have trouble even crawling on end like a worm. It is about two feet high and fifteen feet wide, a wide grin of an entrance.

“Somehow,” said Jimmie, “I don’t like the way the edges of this cave mouth turn up. It looks a little leery to me.”

“Somehow,” said Jimmie, “I don’t like the way the edges of this cave-mouth turn up. It looks a little leery to me”

I shot my flashlight into the gloom and saw twenty feet in large limestone rock blocking the passage, but over it appeared the deeper shadows of an inner room.

“Look overhead,” said Jim. “Millions of tons of damp earth and rock. What if our talking and moving around in there were to dislodge some little pebble and the whole thing collapse on us?”

“William Lyon Mackenzie wasn’t afraid of it,” I said.

“He had soldiers after him, dead or alive.”

It was bright summer sunshine outside. But a cold breath came softly out of the great mouth.

“Hello, in there,” I shouted. “Anybody in?”

My voice echoed queerly.

“Let’s come out some other day with a gang of us,” said Jim. “Just in case. Suppose anything happened, who would know we were here?

“Hello, anybody in there?” I shouted. Around us lay the bright summer stillness. Inside lay shadow, gloom and chill.

“I’ll go in here as far as that rock.” I said to Jim. “I’ll see what lies beyond.”

You lie down flat and work your knees and elbows until you reach the rock. By the time you get that far the roof over your head rises, and you can stand in a stooping position.

The soft trickle of a little stream of ice-cold water makes an eerie sound as you gaze into the dim shadows ahead, still faintly lighted by the day,

An Unearthly Sound

“Come and see, it’s a big room,” I called.

Jim, being larger, had a lot of trouble but presently got beside me at the barrier of rock. We shot our flashlights ahead and their beams were lost against an extraordinary darkness.

Beyond us, twenty feet further, lost in inky dark, was a huge cavern, its ceiling and walls marbled with stalactite traceries, like dull ice, from which dripped thousand trickles of water.

The vaulted ceiling was twelve feet high, and the chamber was perhaps fifteen feet in diameter.

Along the low, rock-roofed passage, with icy drops falling on our necks, we crept, and stared at the ghostly room.

“Unless they smoked him out,” whispered Jimmie, “they never would have got him.”

My flashlight began to flicker.

“That looks like a pool there,” said Jim. “That whole chamber is floored with a pool of water.”

We were not near enough to see the bottom of the cavern, and just as we started forward to get a view of it, our hearts froze with an unearthly sound.

“Oooooooohhhhhhh!”

Jim’s flashlight clattered from his hand and went out. Mine, grasped tightly in my hands, flickered and faded.

We gripped each other. “OoooooOOOOOhhhhh!”

Softly and terribly, the low moan came from the darkness ahead.

An icy drop fell on my neck. Jim and I clutched convulsively. My flashlight, calmly, quietly, went out.

“Get your flashlight!” I whispered soundlessly to Jim. Lingering, he let go of me and I heard him pawing around on the rocks.

Something went splash ahead of us.

We clinched again.

“Get your flashlight!” I whispered tensely.

Dimly, a little daylight filtered behind us and Jim started toward it, on all fours.

“Wooooo!” came the low howl.

They say in a theatre panic, it is terrible to see everybody trying to get through the one small exit. It is terrible to see two gentlemen trying to get out the same exit of a Mackenzie cave. I don’t know whether it was my elbow or Jim’s knee that caused the jam, but before we knew it, we were jammed headfirst in that tunnel, panting for breath.

“Back up!” I shouted.

“You go forward a bit!” roared Jimmie.

But backwards or forwards we were stuck.

“Don’t struggle too hard!” warned Jim. You might dislodge something and down all this would co-ome!”

Patiently we wriggled and backed and shoved and wormed, without avail.

“Jimmie, we’re stuck!” I announced hopelessly.

“We’ll have to stay here until we shrink with hunger,” said Jim. “When we lose weight, about the third or fourth day, one of us can work out.”

“And maybe we’ll have enough strength to climb that hill out there for help!”

We lay still.

“What would that be in there?” asked Jim.

“What else could it be?” I retorted.

Ahead of us we could see the glimmer of day. Our feet lay stretched behind us in that cavern filled with ghostly hooting.

Icy water dripped on our heads, our hands.

“Gentlemen,” said a voice behind us, “can I be of assistance?”

We lay stiff.

“You seem to be struck,” went on the voice. It was old and dry and soft.

“Perhaps,” it went on, “if I were to take hold of one of you by the heels and pull?”

“Yaw!” we yelled, kicking our heels frantically behind us.

A strong hand seized me by the foot. Then it caught my other foot and I felt myself being dragged backwards.

“Jimmie!” I shouted. “Hold me! Hold me!”

“Is it pulling?” demanded Jim.

“Yes.”

“All right, a ghost can’t pull,” said Jim. “Let him pull.”

The Force behind pulled and yanked, this way and that, and I felt myself giving. Suddenly the jam was broken. As I backed up, hands took hold of my shoulders.

“Don’t be alarmed, gents,” said the ghost. But Jimmie was vanishing like a groundhog out the tunnel.

“Who are you?” I gasped.

“Just a homeless man,” said the ghost. “I knew of this cave when I was a boy, so I just came up here for a day or two. It makes a good home for a hobo, doesn’t it?”

“Why did you go woo at us?” I demanded.

“I didn’t want any other residents in here,” said the ghost. “You seemed scared, so I did the natural thing.”

He located Jimmie’s flashlight and turned it on. I beheld a small, grizzled-haired man of about fifty, in ill-fitting old garments. His eyes were steel gray and brilliant. His hair was long and he had side-burns growing in front of his ears. He had a quaint look, if you understand me.

“Come into the big room and have a look around,” he said. There was a Scotch accent.

“Yoo-hoo, Jimmie.” I called. “Come on in, it’s all right.”

“I’ll stay here now I’m out,” called Jim faintly.

The little man smiled and led me into the big cavern.

Under the marbled and icy dome, with its wavering lines of stalactite drawn down the curving walls, lay a pure pool of water, six feet square. It seemed bottomless. In it you could make out sticks and logs that had been thrown in by people trying to see how deep it was.

“Did you ever see so pure a pool?” asked the little man.

“There might be some relics of William Lyon Mackenzie in there,” I said. “He was here, you know, in his flight to the States.”

“Was he, indeed?” said the little man.

“And if we dug around in that pool, might find something, preserved all this hundred years, some old papers, a pistol perhaps, some secret thing.”

“He threw nothing in there,” said the little man.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Because I have scraped around it and found nothing,” said the little man with a whimsical smile.

I began to feel uneasy.

“Well,” I said, “it’s beautiful. It is strange and eerie and beautiful. I guess I’ll be going now.”

“Oh, stay a while. Smoke a pipe. Don’t rush away.”

The little man had such large lapels on his old coat.

“I don’t mind certain kinds of visitors,” said he.

He had a wide, grim mouth that was sweet when he smiled.

“It all depends,” he said. “It all depends.”

In the shadows cast off those ghostly walls, I thought suddenly that I saw he was wearing a skirt!

“Well, sir, I must be going,” I said huskily. “I really must!”

“Good-day to you, then,” said he. “And don’t believe all you hear. And don’t take any plugged shillings.”

He handed me Jimmie’s flashlight. I bowed down and worked out the passage, lay down and wormed through the tunnel, and all of a heap, came out to the dazzling sunlight where Jim was crouched down watching me emerge.

“What’s the matter?” asked Jim. “Who was it?”

“I don’t know.” I said.

And the fact is, I don’t.


Editor’s Notes: William Lyon Mackenzie is well known to students of Canadian history.

You Said a Mouthful!

They were magnificent. The various colored bands met in a kind of herring bone design.
There will be the greatest boom you ever saw. False teeth factories will spring up all over the earth
The dentist’s girl fainted as Jim favored us with a terrific grin

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, May 6, 1933

“What the world needs,” said Jim Frise,”is a new plaything.”

“Mmmm,” said I.

“Prosperity,” went on Jim, “is based on fresh inventions. First, we had the sewing machine. Everybody bought a sewing machine. Just about the time the world was full up with sewing machines, along came the motor car.”

“Haven’t I heard this before?” I asked.

“Not this way,” said Jim. “Well, everybody was so busy making motor ears, and all the things that go with motor cars, such as highways and garages, that everybody had money to buy a motor car, and there we had the good old virtuous circle—“

“I thought circles were vicious,” said I.

“Circles are virtuous,” said Jim, “when they create work and so enable people to buy the thing they are making.”

“Go ahead,” said I.

“Then along came radio,” orated Jim. “So everybody started making radios to make the money to buy a radio. See?”

“And now what?”

“And now,” concluded Jim, “we haven’t a new idea to work on. That’s all that is the matter with the world. It isn’t economics or tariffs or breakdown of finance. It is just that we haven’t got something new to work on so that we can afford to buy it.”

“What do you suggest?”

“Well,” said Jim, “I’ll tell you one thing. I was up at my dentist’s the other day, and he said that in ten years’ time it will be the rule for everybody, at the age of about thirty, to come and have all their teeth out.”

“Ouch!” I said, being forty.

“After a certain age,” said Jim, “our teeth not only are no more use to us, they are an actual menace to us. Teeth were all very well a thousand years ago, when we used to gnaw bones. And then we got rid of our teeth naturally. We either broke them out gnawing bones, or we had them knocked out in battle. To-day we eat soft food, so that we never lose a tooth. And we have long-range warfare, in which nobody loses his teeth unless they go with his head as well. Why, with the old bar room gone, and law and order prevailing the way it does, we keep our teeth until they poison us.”

“Do they really?” I asked.

“Say,” said Jim, “the dentist took an X-ray of one of my teeth and he found an abscess as big as a marble. You know those pains I had in my back? Well, sir, one week after I had that tooth out, the pains in my back vanished. That darn tooth was simply poisoning me to death. That’s teeth for you. They are sneaky.”

“How does this affect the world situation?” I inquired.

The Next Big Prosperity

“Why,” cried Jim, “can’t you see that the next big prosperity in the world will be the false-teeth prosperity. If we can only persuade everybody that they are feeling that way because of their teeth, and that all they need is to have the treacherous teeth taken out and false teeth substituted, there will be the greatest boom you ever saw. False teeth factories will spring up all over the earth. Dentists’ offices will occupy all the empty skyscrapers. Long queues of people lined up in the streets outside the dentist’s offices, and fleets of trucks bearing tons of false teeth to the cities. Boy, what a spectacle!”

“How long will it last?” I asked.

“The world,” cried Jim, “is not yet false tooth conscious. When false tooth production gets going in a big way the world will become false tooth conscious, and the advertising world will be called into action. There will be breakfast teeth, luncheon teeth and dinner teeth. There will be informal teeth and teeth for formal wear. There will be teeth to wear golfing, and teeth to wear at the office, small, hard, business teeth.”

“Aw, Jim,” I complained.

“You don’t realize how big business is built,” said Jim. “Just as sure as fate, once we can convince people that their natural teeth are slowly killing them, and start them wearing false teeth as naturally as we have persuaded ourselves to have our hair cut, boy, there is no limit to the way it will build up into a colossal industry.”

“I have always thought that if I had false teeth,” I said, “I would use some imagination in the matter. I think I would fancy black and white teeth, alternately set, so that your smile looked like an old-fashioned tile fireplace.”

“The girls,” said Jim, “are coloring their finger nails to match their gowns. Think of being able to have red, pink, blue teeth, to match your finger nails and gowns! Or your car, a maroon car and a lovely ravishing mauve smile!”

“Maybe you think,” went on Jim, “that it would be a short-lived prosperity. But look at all the other things the motor industry started, the tire factories, the garages, big and small, all over the land, employing tens of thousands, the highways, the hot dog stands, the gas pumps, every one of them an industry in itself. Think of the boost the packing houses got when the motor car created the hot dog stand. Think of all the gadgets you can get for your car, the road maps, the trick carburetors, the paint, every littlest thing employing somebody and making money for somebody. It would be the same with the false teeth industry.”

“I think,” I said, “I’ll invest a little money in a patent rubber bag for carrying your spare teeth with you. For example, you start out from the house in your breakfast teeth. At the office, you change into your sharp-pointed, steel-gray teeth for business. At noon you get into your luncheon teeth, bright golden yellow, to match the noon sunlight. Then in the afternoon, your conference teeth, big, buck teeth, with hard, dominating look to them. A nice sanitary rubber pocket bag will be a universal necessity.”

“I’m going to patent a tasteless enamel, in handy packages,” said Jim, “so that you can paint your teeth any color on short notice. You can start out gloomy in the morning with black teeth, but by mid-day you can be cheered all up and have bright pink teeth, or the uppers pink and the lowers paddy green.”

“By George,” I said, “you’re not so nutty as I thought you were!”

“What’s more,” said Jim. “I have the courage of my convictions. I am prepared to have my teeth all out, and start the fashion of wearing fancy teeth.”

“It’s the kind of thing that appeals to me,” I admitted.

“Would you care to go into this with me?” asked Jim, earnestly. “We could start the ball rolling. We could start the world back on the road to prosperity. Twenty years from now, we would have our pictures in the rotogravure section. Mr. Frise and Mr. Clark, the two founders of the universal false teeth era, acting as judges at a dental beauty show at Palm Beach.”

“Ahhhh,” said I.

“How about it?” asked Jim. “Let’s have our teeth out for our health’s sake, and then get some fancy teeth to start the new fashion and start biting our way as pioneers of prosperity.”

“I owe my dentist about $17 at the moment.” I said.

“Listen,” cried Jim, “when we explain this idea to some wide-awake dentist, he’s going to see his chance to benefit the whole profession, and he will pull our teeth for nothing. He’ll make us up a half a dozen sets of fancy teeth. Don’t let the expense worry you.”

“Teeth pulling hurts,” I ventured.

“Aw, you wouldn’t mind suffering a little bit for the benefit of mankind,” exclaimed Jim. “Don’t be a piker. All great leaders have suffered.”

“I’ve been feeling little low lately,” I admitted. “Maybe it would benefit me to have some of them out.”

“All of them out!” said Jim. “All or nothing!”

So Jim made the arrangements. We went and saw a dentist that Jim used to go to school with up at Birdseye Center, and, like all dentists who have come up from the country, he has a sense of humor. He took off his white coat when we called and spread himself and us around on his big chair and a couch, and we quit for the day so as to devote ourselves to the scheme.

“I’m willing,” said the doctor, “to take as my share the extraction, treatment and manufacture of fancy teeth, on condition that you chaps will wear the teeth I make you. If you do not wear the teeth I make, then I shall make you ordinary plates and charge you the usual rates, plus the cost of extraction and treatment.”

“Oh, we’ll wear them,” said Jim. “We’re used to looking queer.”

Introducing a New Era

We tossed up to see who went first into the extraction chair, and Jim won. I have a coin I got in the war with two heads on it.

The doctor called in a pretty girl in a white smock and between the two of them they did Jim up in large bib and wheeled in a gas tank and then they asked me to sit outside. I heard various groans and grunts from inside the door, and low talking. I heard things clattering on the floor, which I supposed were the teeth flying in all directions. In few minutes, the girl beckoned me in and there was old Jimmie with a grin from ear to ear and thumb marks on his eyeballs and check bones, and looking just the least little bit battered.

“These will be healed in a few days,” said the doctor, “and in the meantime, I will get busy on the plates.”

“What thoo I eath for the firth few dayth?” asked Jimmie,

“Soft foods like soup, milk, orange juice,” said the doctor. “Now, Mr. Clark?”

“Aren’t you tired?” I asked. “Surely you don’t want to tackle me right away.”

“Sure, it’s nothing,” said the doctor. “I can pull ’em all day.”

“I think I am a little unnerved by the sight of Jim,” I said. “I wonder if it would do to-morrow, when I feel a little better. Anyway, I’ve got very brittle teeth. They always break off at the roots.”

“Lithen,” cried Jim, juicily, “get intho that kthchair!”

“One of us had got to be able to speak plainly,” I protested. “To-morrow will do, won’t it doctor?”

“Make it to-morrow if you feel a little squeamish. You are a little pale.”

So I escorted Jim back to the office, where he sat speechless and sunken jawed. Then I went in and arranged with the editor to be sent out of town to London and Strathroy on urgent business.

I was away four days, and when I got home, Jim was waiting for me to come up and try on his first set of new-era teeth.

“He said he made them very simple in design,” said Jim. “Just a modest patten, but it will do for a start and give some idea of what can be done by the emancipated dental profession.”

The doctor was eagerly awaiting us, and from pad of cotton wool he produced an upper and lower set of false teeth.

They were magnificent.

The uppers were red, white and blue, slanting obliquely from right to left. The lowers were green, black and yellow, slanting obliquely from left to right, so that when the teeth were set, the various colored bands met, in a kind of herring bone design, the black meeting a red, the yellow meeting a blue, and so on, with a most arresting, glittering, prismatic effect.

First Things Always Sensational

Jim inserted them tenderly into his still sore mouth.

Then he turned and favored us with terrific grin.

The dentist’s girl fainted and we put her on the couch.

“Magnificent!” I gasped.

“Wear those,” said the dentist, “and the job hasn’t cost you a cent.”

“They taste funny,” said Jim, speaking thickly.

“Take them along,” said the dentist, “and try them in from time to time until your mouth gets used to them.”

Jim studied himself in the mirror, grinning fiendishly, and I thought his hair turned a little whiter.

“All right, me boy,” he said to me: “how about getting into the chair now while we are here?”

“Jim,” I said, “I have been thinking about this. It seems to me a pretty scurvy trick to horn in on your idea. When this thing transforms the world, when it brings back prosperity, when the factories of the world are belching forth false teeth by the train load, what a shabby little man I will appear in the eyes of posterity when it is known that I stole your idea and tried to pose as co-emancipator of mankind.”

“I thought so,” said Jim.

“How do you mean?” I asked. “I feel that you should be allowed to take the full credit for this marvellous plan of yours. Let me come along in a few weeks, when the fashion gets going. I’ll be one of your first converts. But not until you have established full claim to the revolutionary idea.”

“I thought so,” repeated Jim, looking at me with his teeth bared. I bowed my head.

We got in the elevator.

The elevator girl caught a glimpse of Jim in the mirror and she dropped the steering wheel and the car stopped in mid-flight. The girl screamed and whirled the wheel.

“Here,” said Jim, taking the wheel and bringing the elevator to the ground floor.

We went out the lobby and Jim cast smiles in all directions at the people resting on the big sofas. Several of them passed out and others covered their eyes. Out on the street we stopped to wait for traffic to let us across and a man driving a truck looked at him. Jim opened his mouth and grinned. The man, never taking his eyes off Jim, stepped savagely on the gas and ran into another car. There was a traffic mix-up and Jim, stepping forward to assist the tangled drivers, smiled upon them, and two drivers got out of their seats by the far door and ran.

“Keep your mouth shut,” I rasped at Jim.

A policeman walked over to the melee and Jim grinned at him across the hoods of cars. The cop lifted his arm and shielded his eyes, staggering back out of the confusion.

“Let’s get away.” I said, seizing Jim’s arm.

We got into my car and headed for the office.

“The first motor car,” said Jim, “created a sensation. They had to have a man with red flag walking in front of all motor cars. The first radio, I can remember the excitement, the crowds of people gathered to listen to the squawks and squeaks. Everything new causes a sensation.”

“He made those teeth too loud,” I said. “If they only weren’t set on the bias. It is that herring bone pattern that causes the fright.”

“They will get used to it,” said Jim.

But I notice this morning that Jimmie is wearing an ordinary set of ivory colored teeth.

“Where are the fancy teeth?” I asked.

“I’m saving those for formal occasions,” replied Jim.


Editor’s Notes: The rotogravure section references the special sections of newspapers where photographs were printed. Rotogravure was the printing technique for photographs, and some newspapers (including the Star Weekly), produced them. They were primarily used to highlight photos of interest that did not have to be accompanied by a story, instead just a line or two would be used.

The elevator girl running the “steering wheel”, was the manual control, looking more like a crank to move the elevator up or down. Most elevators were run this way before World War Two, as the operator had to manually line up the floors and operate the doors.

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.

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.

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