The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Tag: September Page 1 of 2

Treasure Hunters

By Greg Clark, September 25, 1943

“You’re just in time,” cried Jimmie Frise, delightedly.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“There’s an old chap coming in,” hurried Jim, “an old sailor, who has got the most extraordinary story. About buried treasure.”

“Ho, ho, ho,” I scoffed.

“This,” cried Jim, “is the real thing. You’ll realize it the minute you see the old boy. He’s absolutely genuine.”

“Ha, ha, ha,” I said, settling down to my desk to earn my daily bread.

“Listen,” said Jim, “I’m no fool. I wouldn’t be taken in by any fake. I tell you, this old boy is the real stuff. And he’s got the most fascinating story I’ve ever listened to.”

“Was it gold coins,” I inquired sarcastically, “or just ordinary gold bricks?”

“I tell you,” declared Jim, that he held me absolutely spellbound for over an hour. He’s gone home to get some more documents, now that I’m interested. But I told him to hurry back because I wanted you to hear it from his own lips.”

“What kind of a man is he?” I asked.

“He’s an old sailor,” related Jim breathlessly. “He’s a big, stout, elderly fellow, with white hair and a big, round, ruddy face. His hands are all tattooed in red and blue, and you can fairly smell the salt off him.”

“I suppose,” I offered, “that he walks with rolling gait, like all sailors in stories?”

“Just you wait,” said Jim. “He isn’t the talkative plausible type at all. He’s a big, slow-speaking, bashful old man, who blushes and struggles with his words. He’s been trying to get up nerve enough to approach us ever since the summer, when he came to Toronto to visit his granddaughter.”

“And what’s he got?” I inquired

“He’s got,” said Jim, hastily collecting his thoughts, an ancient chart …”

“Phew,” I said. “It smells, Jim. It’s the old Spanish prisoner racket in a new guise.”

“Listen,” cried Jim hotly, “I saw this chart. It’s as old as the hills. It’s at least 200 years old.”

“Paper or parchment?” I demanded.

“Paper,” said Jim.

“And how it preserved?” I asked shrewdly.

“It’s pasted on leather,” explained Jim. “Old, old dried and withered leather of some kind …”

An Exciting Story

“How did he come by it?” I inquired.

“It was given to him by a native woman, down in the South Seas, when he was a young man,” related Jim, romantically. “This native girl loved him and gave him the chart, which she said was a secret possession of her family, handed down from her great-great-grandfather, a white man.”

“Probably a pirate,” I suggested.

“That’s what the old sailor thinks, too,” said Jim.

“Then why has he never done anything about it?” I submitted.

“That’s the exciting part of the whole thing,” cried Jim. “This is the part that makes me believe every word he says. And this is the story. When he left the South Seas, he left on a little trading schooner. He had the chart in his seaman’s box. He thought nothing of it. It was just a curio his girl had given him. He didn’t believe a word of the story she told about any buried treasure. On the trading schooner he came to blows with the master, and at the first port of call he quit the schooner and waited for a steamer. This was a tramp steamer engaged in some illegal traffic, and when they reached San Francisco the whole ship’s company, captain officers and crew, were all arrested, including this old boy – then a lad of about 25.”

“Go ahead,” I urged.

“He was in jail about a week,” went on Jim, “and when he got out and went back to the ship for his gear the ship’s cook, who had not been arrested, had gone through all the property of the crew, stealing anything of value that he found. And among the things he took from our friend’s sea chest was this old chart.”

“H’m,” said I.

“Fifteen years went by,” related Jimmie, “and our friend never even thought of the old chart. Never even thought of it. That’s how little he valued it. Then, in 1912 …”

Jim crouched down at his drawing-board and fixed me with a maritime eye.

“In 1912,” hissed Jim, “our friend, now an old sailor of 40 years of age, signed aboard a rich man’s yacht in New York. It was a pleasure cruise, going in search of buried treasure in the Caribbean.

“Ah,” I pleaded.

“And naturally among the crew and the members of the party,” said Jim, “the talk was all buried treasure. The yacht owner had dozens of books, pamphlets and old charts and old references and letters to all the buried treasure there ever were. And naturally our friend, in the course of talk as they cruised south, spoke up and told about the ancient yellow chart, backed with leather, that his girl had given him years before in the South Sea Islands.”

“So?” I begged.

“On this old chart,” whispered Jim mysteriously, as you will see in a few minutes, there is written, in ancient faded ink, the name Jos. Hawkins. When our friend described the chart and mentioned the name Jos. Hawkins, the yacht owner nearly went crazy with excitement. It appears he had records of the existence not only of that very chart, but of an enormous treasure, in gold, silver and jewels, buried on an island in the South Pacific.”

“What a coincidence,” I breathed.

“Naturally,” said Jim. “they quit their pleasure cruise and headed as fast as they knew how for San Francisco to try to pick up trace of that thieving ship’s cook or of the stolen chart.”

“When was this?” I asked.

“In 1912,” said Jim. “They went to San Francisco and with the help of the wealthy yacht owner they delved into the old records, they hunted through hundreds of sailors boarding-houses, for any trace of the cook. But never the slightest trace did they find. It was hopeless.”

“What happened?” I asked,

“Our friend,” said Jim, whose name is Smith, left the yacht’s crew and remained behind in San Francisco to continue the search. The yacht owner financed him for two years. He haunted the wharfs, searched the sailors’ hangouts. Then, in 1914, the wealthy yacht owner died. All alone, without any further means of support, Smith continued the search. He had to take jobs, and he went on short voyages, always returning to San Francisco. But about 1917 he finally gave up the search after five years. By now he was getting into his fifties. He went on a freighter to England and from there, during the hard years after the war, he took such jobs as he could get. But never did he forget the chart and that cook. He spent all his idle time searching sailor hangouts, searching second-hand shops, looking through the contents of sailors’ sea chests in second-hand stores. Then one day …”

“Please hurry,” I begged.

“One day in Rio de Janeiro,” said Jim, with a catch in his voice, “Smith walked into a little restaurant at the dockside, and there, at a table, was the cook!”

“What a moment!” I agreed.

“Smith was very clever,” said Jim. “He controlled himself. He simply sat down and shook hands with the thief and asked him what he had done with the chart which Smith said he valued as a gift from an old sweetheart. The cook said it had lain in the bottom of his chest for several years but that he had left the chest at a certain sailors’ boarding house in San Francisco. It was there yet, as far as he knew.”

“Not much chance,” I suggested. “After 20 years.”

“Yes,” said Jim, listening to hear if Smith’s footsteps were approaching. “Poor Smith. He had to make his way to San Francisco. It took him seven months. On account of the war merchant seamen can’t just go where they please. When he reached San Francisco he went at once to the boarding house. The house had changed hands several times. It took Smith a whole month to trace down the owner at the time the cook left the box. He lived in Chicago. Smith went to Chicago, riding freight trains. There he spent weeks tracing the old boarding house owner, who finally told him, at last, that he had sold the chest to a dealer in such junk.”

“What a treasure hunt itself,” I marvelled.

“Back to San Francisco went Smith, only this past summer,” said Jim. “He is, as you will see, an elderly man, though well preserved. In San Francisco he went straight to the junk dealer’s who, 10 years before, had bought a sea chest from a bankrupt boarding-house. Down cellar they went and searched amongst the gathering debris of the years. And there, in five minutes, they found the cook’s sea chest. Smith bought it for 50 cents.”

“Fifty cents?” I exclaimed.

“And down in the bottom,” exulted Jim, “was the chart, undamaged, exactly as Smith had last seen it.”

“What a remarkable thing,” I agreed.

How Lovely to Go Voyaging

“Smith,” continued Jim, “beat his way directly to New York, to try and dig up any connections with that yachting party of 1912. Any children or friends of the yacht owner. He couldn’t find any trace of them whatever. He used up all his money. He was absolutely checkmated. He was on the point of approaching some stranger and putting the proposition up to him, when he remembered his granddaughter here in Toronto. He decided, before taking any risks, to come and visit his granddaughter, whom he had never seen, and the only living soul left to him in the world. When you get old you turn back to your own.”

“So he came to Toronto?” I urged.

“He has been here a month,” said Jim. “He revealed his secret to the young woman. They talked the thing over from every angle. And finally the granddaughter suggested you and me. She reads our articles every week, and she just thought we were the adventurous type who might be interested. And she believes we are honest men. And discreet.”

“Jim,” I said shakily, “did Smith give you any idea of the size of the treasure?”

“He has no idea,” replied Jim. “All he knows is that it is in a most inaccessible region in the South Pacific, that it consists of a very great quantity of Spanish gold coins silver bars and jewels.”

“Did he not put a value on it?” I quivered

“He thinks he recollects hearing the yacht owner say,” said Jim, “that it amounted to $2,000,000.”

“Oh, my gosh,” I gasped.

“With the war on,” said Jim, “there isn’t much hope of getting near it.”

“Let’s cross our bridges when we come to them,” I counselled.

“It wouldn’t take a great deal,” said Jim, agitated. “Smith thinks $1,000 would make a start. We could let 10 friends in, for $100 apiece. And we could get leave of absence from the office for a few weeks.”

“I need a winter holiday,” I proclaimed.

“Smith should be back before this,” said Jim, looking at his watch. “He said he would be back right away. And that is two hours ago.”

Jim glared at a bit of paper on his drawing-board.

“Have you got his address?” I cried. “Let’s go at once and see if he’s all right. An elderly man. Maybe something has happened. And, anyway, imagine him carrying that precious chart around in his pocket. Why, Jim, he may have been waylaid…”

Jim reached for his hat.

“He lives,” said Jim, “with his granddaughter at a boarding-house on Jarvis. I’ll just leave a note for him to wait in case he comes while we’re gone.”

“We won’t be 15 minutes,” I pointed out.

With all speed we drove to the address on Jarvis street.

“Amongst sailors,” I pointed out, as we speeded, there are a lot of shady characters. Suppose somebody has caught on to the old man …”

Jim stepped on the gas.

“My interest in this,” I submitted, “is more to help the dear old fellow realize his dream than any hope of personal gain. Imagine all the years . . .”

At the Jarvis street address a thin woman in a wrapper answered the door. When we asked for Mr. Smith she opened the door agitatedly and said:

“Go right up.”

“Is everything all right?” I inquired.

“Certainly, certainly,” said the thin lady with increased agitation. “The first door on your left.”

We rapped. The door was instantly, opened by a very large man wearing his hat and coat.

“Step in,” he commanded.

Another large man was sitting on the bed.

“What’s your name, who are you and what do you want?” demanded this latter gentleman.

We explained we wanted Mr. Smith. We further explained that Mr. Smith had been going to call at our office re a little matter of business, but having failed to turn up we had called on him instead.

“Did you give him any money?” demanded one of the large gentlemen.

“No,” we said.

“All right, Bill,” said one to the other, “you go back with these birds to their office and I’ll wait here. But I don’t expect well see him.”

The larger gentleman ushered us out and downstairs and out into our car with us.

He’s called The Sailor,” explained the detective, for such he was. “He travels all over America with his so-called granddaughter, spilling this story about the buried treasure.”

“Good heavens,” we gasped.

“And it would astonish you,” said the cop, “how many people fall for it. Hundreds of dollars, some of them.”

“How silly of them,” I said, “to be taken in by such a tale.”

“The world’s full of them,” said Jimmie, contemptuously.

Editor’s Note: The Spanish Prisoner, would now be more notably known as the Nigerian Prince.

The Alibi

September 23, 1922

Jim illustration from a story by Isadore Goldberg in 1922.

The Birdseye Center Fall Fair

September 22, 1923


By Greg Clark, September 21, 1940

“This war,” stated Jimmie Frise, “is completely different from any previous wars.”

“I’ll say it is,” I admitted, “with air bombings and …”

“No, no,” interrupted Jim; “I don’t mean just the weapons. A thousand years ago they used giant wooden catapults to heave barrels of burning tar over the walls of cities. There is really no difference in the tools of war. The difference I refer to is that in old wars they wanted big, strong, tough men for the army. Now they want trained intelligences.”

“Machines call for something more than brawn,” I pointed out.

“In old wars,” went on Jim, “all we lost were the biggest and toughest of our population. Now we are risking our more precious possession – our intelligent men.”

“Maybe it is time the brainy ones took a share in defending the country,” I suggested. “In old wars the strong guys marched away and the brainy ones stayed at home and profiteered.”

“I think the strangest thing I have met with in a long time,” said Jimmie, “was a young man of my acquaintance, a big, magnificent specimen of a 23-year-old who broke down and wept because he hadn’t his matriculation and couldn’t get into the air force.”

“That’ll teach him,” I remarked.

“But one of the good things about this war,” continued Jim, “is that it is stressing the importance of intelligence and training. All the talk about education and schooling of the past 50 years didn’t stir up the young men and youth of the world the way this war will.”

“I suppose we’ve got to think up some good out of the war,” I admitted.

“Think of the way everybody’s mind is being stirred up,” said Jim. “I bet there was more geography learned in the eight months between September, 1939, and May, 1940 than was learned in all the schools and universities of the world in the past century.”

“Even the knitting is becoming more intellectual,” I added. “Last war the girls knitted socks and mufflers, and occasionally a brave girl would try a balaclava helmet. But you should see the complicated things they are knitting for this war. Navy mitts, with flaps for the trigger fingers to come out. Flying helmets and complicated chest protectors.”

“Yes, sir,” said Jim, “this war is bringing out the brains. When this war is over there will be 100,000 expert motor mechanics in Canada.”

“A man who can take a Bren gun apart,” I agreed, “won’t be stumped by a mere outboard motor.”

“As a matter of fact,” said Jim, “this war is showing up a lot of rackets. The motor repair business is one of them. If all those hundreds of thousands of youngsters can learn motor mechanics in a matter of a few days, there is no reason why anybody, especially intelligent people couldn’t do their own motor repairs and do them better than any garage that is trying to pay the rent by slapping 50 jobs through each day.”

“I think it’s the grease and oil that scares me off,” I admitted. “Like so many pioneers’ grandsons, I hate getting mucky. My ancestors got too mucky. I’m the reaction.”

Attempting a Valve Job

“What I’m working up to,” confessed Jim, “is my car needs a valve job. And in times like these I can’t see any reason why I shouldn’t do it myself.”

“Go ahead,” I urged him. “Go right ahead.”

“I mean,” said Jim, “with motor mechanics so scarce now, I wouldn’t be gypping anybody out of a living by doing what they ought to do. And besides, I haven’t got the money.”

“Go right ahead,” I assured him. “It’s one of those things you have to make up your own mind about.”

“Well, I was hoping you’d perhaps be interested enough to want to share in the experience,” said Jim. “Somebody would have to help me.”

“Get your brother-in-law,” I suggested. “He’s more your height for lifting things. Any time I help you I always get the low end.”

“What I really need you for,” confessed Jim, “is to help me follow the book of instructions I’ve got. You’re so good at that intellectual stuff.

“I might come over,” I said.

And I did.

Jim has a book all about engines. It is called “Your Engine.” It is filled with drawings, showing machinery, with dotted lines, and hands lifting things off, and arrows pointing. Jim and I went down to his garage and turned on the lights. He has a big box full of all the tools he has ever had with all his cars, and as he never turns the tools in with an old car, he has about 200 pounds of them.

While I sorted out tools Jim sat on the running-board and read the chapter entitled: “Removing Carbon and Grinding Valves.”

“Remove spark plugs and unscrew cylinder head, retaining nuts at X, X, X,” read Jim.

“Where is XXX?” I asked.

“Never mind – that’s on the diagram,” said Jim “Let me read it all through, and then we can go over it, sentence by sentence suiting the action to the words.”

He read on and on, while I punctuated it with tools on the cement floor. It sounded rather terrible as he proceeded. The tools were mostly rusty and many of them seemed injured or broken. But I had them strung from the front of the garage to the back by the time Jim concluded the chapter on removing carbon.

“I tell you,” I said, as Jim stood up and spit on his hands. “Let’s get a mechanic to come over. He could just sit here, on his night off and watch just to see we don’t go wrong.”

Jim gave me a look. “Do you mean to say,” he burst out “that a couple of high-class, intelligent men like us can’t follow a book of rules?”

He swept the engine hood cover off his car and exposed the large, cold, rusty and sullen-looking engine.

“Hand me the thingummy,” he said. “You know. Unwinds spark plugs.”

It is that bent jigger you use to change tires with, too. There were seven of them on the floor, and I picked the newest-looking one.

Unwinding a Lot of Nuts

Jim unwound the spark plugs and with a large wrench started in on the lid that hides the works. There were a lot of wires from the spark plugs, and he laid them aside. The iron lid of everything did not seem to be any freer when the nuts came off, so he got me to help him, and we drove a cold chisel along the crack and pried the lid off. It was heavy, and when it gave it gave suddenly and fell over on the far side, crashing into the carburetor and one thing and another. But we dragged it out and laid it on the floor.

Revealed now was a most unholy pickle of oily rods, springs, rockers, like the inside of a grandfather’s clock.

“Now,” said Jim, briskly, looking at the book, “take wrench and remove rocker arms and tappets. Hand me wrench.”

Out of the pile of wrenches on the floor I gave him a couple of 1926 and a 1934. He selected one and proceeded to seize hold of the oily wreckage, like a gentleman starting to carve the carcass of yesterday’s chicken. He pulled this way and that, and presently, without the least trouble, pulled out a long thin rod as long as a skewer. Bending down, he located several of these and drew them out and then, after loosening all the nuts that showed, the rocker arms fell off with a loud clank.

“Now remove cylinder head,” said Jim “Lend a hand there, lad.”

“Can I unwind nuts, too?” I inquired.

“Sure,” said Jim “Go to them.”

So I on one side and Jim on the other, unwound nuts until we each had a pile of them on the running boards and several on the floor.

Jim heaved the cylinder head and it came over my side, crashing on to the generator, the starting motor and bending the oil intake pipe. It was very heavy, and the sets of springs sticking up from it caught in various projections, so that we had to rig a rope over one of the scantlings of the garage roof and haul it out of the engine and even at that it brought several other things with it, including the rod that is attached to the choke. We hoisted it and then eased it down on to the floor.

Now we could see right into the engine, with its pistons and cylinders and carbon was to be seen on all sides.

“To remove pistons.” said Jim, “pan must be first removed.”

We looked for a pan, but none was visible.

“Well,” said Jim, “you can’t scrape carbon off the cylinders until you take out the pistons. Maybe they come out some other way.”

We pried at them, rapped them, undid several small nuts here and there, but if pistons are those things that fill the cylinders the way the porridge part of a double boiler fits the water part, then we couldn’t budge them.

“Would the pan be underneath?” I asked.

So Jim took a flashlight and disappeared under the engine.

“There is a kind of a big pan under here,” said Jim, hitting it with a wrench. “Hear it?”

“Take it off,” said I. “It won’t hurt.”

“Come on down,” invited Jim.

Trying to Get ‘Em Back

We found the pan was attached with large nuts, and these required one man to hold the big 1927 wrench and the other to hit the wrench with a hammer. It is curious how different a hammer is when you are lying down aiming east instead of south. Jim let me do the hammer part until I hit his head, which was three feet from the wrench. Then he let me hold the wrench for a rest. We got all the nuts off but the last one.

“Easy now,” said Jim as he unwound it; get under here and get ready to hold it with your arms and knees.”

The nut came off and down came the pan, teetering, and in it were two gallons of old black oil, most of which Jimmy got on top of him, and I got the rest of it by lying in it and absorbing it from below.

“Why didn’t you think of that?” I cried as we struggled from under the pan and got to our feet. But Jim, wiping oil out of his eyes, was studying the book, “Your Engine.”

The taste of oil is sickening. I wonder any mechanic ever looks as well as he does.

“Now, how about the pistons?” said Jim “Pistons may be removed from main shaft.”

But we could not find the main shaft. We looked everywhere except underneath for it, and of course neither of us intended to get underneath any more that night. The floor was half an inch deep with gravy.

“If I were to start the engine now,” suggested Jim, “I bet everything would fall out, pistons and all, so we could get at them. But I don’t want to sit in the seat with all this oil on me.”

So we went back to removing nuts and bolts and laying them in neat piles.

“When do you start grinding the valves?” I asked.

Jim picked up the book, which was already soaking up quite a lot of oil, and read:

“Insert valve-grinding tool. Do you see a valve-grinding tool anywhere there?”

“What’s it like?”

“I don’t know, it will be a sort of file or something. Look around you’ll see one.” But I could find nothing that resembled a valve-grinding tool.

“Jim,” I asked, “what time is it?”

“Ten-fifteen,” said he, in some surprise.

“I’ll have to be going,” said I.

“Going?” cried Jim. “What do you mean, going? Good heavens, we have just started. You’ve got to help

me put this all back again.”

“Nothing doing,” said I. “I said I’d come and help you unassemble it, but I don’t intend to sit up all night over your car.”

“Here, just a minute,” said Jim. “Let’s put it together again, and I’ll pass up grinding it. We’ll just throw it together in a few minutes.”

“I’ll stay a little while and help you with the heavy bits,” said I.

“Let’s put that pan on,” said Jim.

“Leave it till morning,” said I. “Most of the oil will be run off by then or dried up.”

“Then this big cylinder head,” said Jim.

“Hold on,” said I; “we took a lot of little nuts out since then. And these pins. Get everything back the way we took it out.”

Calling for the Expert

And that was where we began to tire of the job. Because none of the nuts fitted. They all seemed to have shrunk or swelled. Jim bent down and breathed heavily on his side while I grunted and spat on my side, in the best mechanic style, but pretty soon we both straightened up and leaned back to rest our backs, and looked at it.

“Have you got any on yet?” asked Jim

“I’ve got two on, but they don’t go on very far.”

Jim came around to my side and then we both went back to his side. There seemed to be far more places for nuts to go on than there were nuts.

“It’s like a jigsaw puzzle,” said Jim.

“Go and telephone for a garage man,” said I. “Unless you don’t want your car this week.”

“Don’t be silly,” said Jim, reaching in with his wrench. There was a clatter and a clunk and Jim had dropped his wrench and it had gone down somewhere into the machinery. “Hand us the flashlight.”

We both peered and felt and fiddled, but we could not see or feel that wrench. My hand being oily, I felt the flashlight slipping and it suddenly fell into the works. Its light went out, and no matter how we probed and fumbled, we could not feel the flashlight. And the garage light was a fixture in the roof.

“Go and telephone a garage,” said I.

So Jim went in and called a garage and came back and sat on the running board with me. The garage man came with his derrick car, and when he saw us and the car be put his cap back on his head and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Gees,” he said.

“How much is a carbon and valve job?” asked Jim.

“Oh, about $16 on this car,” said the garage man.

“Well, we’ve got it all open for you, said Jim; “that ought to cut some of the labor cost.”

“I was just figurin’,” said the garage man. “It would cost about six dollars more to get all them nuts back and that pan in place. You’ve clean disemboweled her, ain’t you?”

“We’ve lost a wrench and a flashlight in her somewhere,” said Jim.

“And these nuts and pins,” said the garage man. “How did you happen to get them piled up so nice?”

“How long will it take you?” asked Jim.

“About all day tomorrow,” said the garage man doubtfully, walking all around the car and sizing up the piles of stuff.

So I drove Jim to work the next day.

Canada – Up in the Air

By Greg Clark, September 19, 1925

Quietly, Canada Is Developing Commercial Flying On a Big Basis – Some of These Days Spectacular Things Will Be Done in The Dominion Air – Already Much Work Is Done of Which The Public Knows Nothing – The Intricate Building of Air Machines

One officer of the Royal Canadian Air Force perched out on the nose of a flying boat behind a big aero camera surveyed in six weeks 15,000 square miles of unexplored Canada.

A single survey party would have taken twenty years to complete the same map.

The past two years, Canada’s permanent air force, working with the Dominion Topographical Survey, have mapped in the neighborhood of a hundred thousand square miles of Canada’s last wilderness. Next year plans are laid to map another hundred thousand.

Hitting a hundred miles an hour pilots of the R. C. A. F. patrol the fisheries of the Pacific coast, guarding hundreds of miles of closed ground against poachers, checking fishery licenses and marking smugglers.

It would take ten patrol boats, fifteen-mile-an-hour craft, with crews, to cover the same ground. And at that more than half the offenders would escape.

The dominion government still retains possession of vast forests in British Columbia, Alberta, northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Hundreds of miles remote from railways, these untouched treasures are patrolled by officers of Canada’s active air force. Armies of rangers could not do it.

Because the cities do not see aeroplanes except as entertainment during fairs and exhibitions, the larger part of Canada is unaware of the fact that the dominion, which contributed so large a proportion of British fliers in the war and which possesses in Bishop the champion air duelist of all the armies in the war, is still one of the leading nations in the world in the matter of active aviation.

“Canada,” states an Englishman now visiting the country for the purpose of investigating aircraft possibilities, “has every qualification to be the foremost flying nation on earth in the course of time. She has long distances between her major centres of population. She has, I find, a continuous water-course for flying boats from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which is of enormous importance. The United States lacks this feature. And Canada has uncounted resources in timber, minerals and fisheries that will require to be guarded, explored and made available by aircraft.

“Fortunately, Canada has thousands of ex-airmen amongst her population who, as they grow older and into positions of greater weight in the business world, will accelerate the general recognition that aircraft is the economical and logical solution of a number of Canada’s problems.”

Had flying boats made their extraordinary photographic maps forty years ago literally hundreds of millions of dollars would have been saved the nation in the building of railroads alone, for the selection of routes in those days depended upon survey parties on foot ranging the vast wildernesses like needles thrust through haystacks.

Possibilities of Near Future

One of Canada’s great banks has been investigating the matter of employing aeroplanes for carrying its officials and inspectors between principal cities, such as Toronto and Montreal, Winnipeg and the western fan of cities.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been in correspondence with the Royal Canadian Air Force with regard to co-operation, so that some of the vast patrols of the north country may be handled by air, in return for which the police would mush gasoline into remote bases in the winter.

The Hudson’s Bay Company has investigated the matter of flying boats for its inspecting officers in almost inaccessible regions of the north.

A half dozen of Canada’s wealthiest men have made enquiries of the cost of flying boats for their personal use. The cheapest small two-passenger flying boat costs $10,000 made in Canada. In Toronto alone are hundreds of motor cars which cost over $6,000.

These are indications that Canada is on the edge of great expansion in the use of aircraft. And the development of a flying boat specially adapted to Canadian needs is now under way.

There is only one firm manufacturing aircraft in Canada to-day, and that is the Canadian Vickers Company at Montreal. This is the Canadian branch of the famous British firm of shipbuilders, gunmakers, steel manufacturers and aircraft builders. Their huge plant in Montreal is also devoted to all these branches of manufacture. It is significant that their aircraft branch is one of the most active of their departments and is exceeded only by their structural steel works.

In the past two years Vickers have turned out twenty-four flying machines for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The most interesting of these twenty-four machines are the Vedette and the new Varuna, which are the new type of flying boat especially designed for Canada’s needs.

The Royal Canadian Air Force experts cooperated with Mr. W. T. Reid, an engineer whose specialty is aircraft design, formerly with the famous Bristol aircraft works, who was sent out by Vickers in England to meet the problem of Canada’s special needs.

The Vedette is a three-passenger flying boat with a five hour range of flight built to serve as a forest patrol or survey machine.

The new thing about it, the feature that makes it Canadian, is its power of swift and steep climb. The countless lakes which make simple the question of flying over Canada are usually timbered to the shore. To get into them is easy. To get out of them is the problem the Vedette was designed to solve. The Vedette, a tough, sturdy boat, whose long, elegant hull might have been actually modeled on the lines of a speckled trout, can hoick up into the wind in an astonishingly short run.

The Varuna is simply a larger Vedette. It will carry seven passengers, or, with three passengers, will support a large cargo of fire fighting equipment, including engine and hose, picks and shovels, or, with a cargo of fuel, has a flying range of five hours.

The Varuna is Canada’s design for combating forest fire. Her hull, made not of mahogany as aircraft are by tradition, but of Canadian cedar, copper-fastened like a Canadian canoe, is 35 feet long, and her top wing has a spread of 53 feet. She, too, is built on tight and sturdy lines, with a pair of powerful pusher engines, to shoot her steeply into the air.

“In her design,” said Mr. Reid, her designer, “we have of course included all the best principles of past experience, but we have added some features that are distinctly new. The design has proved a distinct success.”

Canada’s Will Be Water Force

Thus, while the United States goes forward with the development of fast mail planes of the land type, Canada’s air force is likely to be distinguished as a naval air force.

You have seen a small boy whittling sticks to make a kite. They make an aeroplane the same way: a lot of sticks, some glue and cloth, and there you are – an aeroplane.

The solid appearance of an aeroplane is most deceiving. In the Vickers works in Montreal you get an idea of the extreme delicacy and frailty of these engines that must ride on air.

The making of an aeroplane is probably the most delicate piece of scientific manufacture in the whole world. Watch-making and fine jewelry is not to be compared with it.

“An aeroplane,” says an engineer in the Vickers plant, “is ninety-eight parts figuring on paper, one part engine and one part wood, wire and canvas.”

The designing engineers, men experienced in one of the least known sciences, get to work with pencil and paper and make the design of the shape of the machine, all the delicate curves, stresses, pressures and so forth, which are in the realm of the remotest mathematics. Then they translate this design into terms of materials, to stand these tremendous pressures and weights. To the last delicate stitch in the fabric these written plans are complete.

Then they make a model of the machine. These models would delight the heart and soul of boydom. They are made with infinite care, to be a perfect boy size replica of the finished machine, in weights and proportions exact. The model is then submitted to tests in water channels, to test its exact resistance and buoyancy in water. Then it is tested in the wind tunnel at the University of Toronto, to see that Its curves offer the very minimum of resistance to air. Back of these engineers playing with the toy, of course, is all the experience of all the nations in the manufacture of thousands upon thousands of life-and-death aeroplanes in the great war.

We saw the Varuna being built at Montreal. She will weigh with her engines nearly three tons, and she will carry more than a ton besides. Yet she was being laid together as delicately as a watch, and as frailly as a kite.

Her hull, to hold those engines and that cargo over the skies, is made of three-sixteenth inch cedar laid on elm ribs. One layer of fabric – a sort of very high grade light canvas – is glued over this hull that is lighter in build than a little canoe.

The wings – those wide, spreading, substantial-looking pinions – are nothing but kites. A couple of light spruce beams, scooped out to the shape of a steel I-beam, are the main supports of the wing. Two hollow steel tubes act as the short cross beams. The rest of the wing consists of an infinite number of sticks. Little spruce sticks of the sort a child’s toy is made of.

This is the wing that has to stand the strain of a weight of four tons borne through the air at a speed of a hundred miles an hour.

Amongst the workmen of the Vickers aircraft plant walked an officer of the R. C. A. F. He is an inspector. Every stick, every brad that goes into the machine is first inspected by him. Every small rib of spruce is weighed – actually weighed – in the presence of this officer. Each assembled section bears his stamp. Each wire – its breaking point 2,000 pounds, though it is no wider than a lead pencil and no thicker than a table knife – each joint, is fitted under this officer’s eye and marked by him. Here you begin to see the infinite care and pains taken in the building of an aeroplane so that, be it built of sticks and cloth, it will stand the tremendous buffeting of air, land or water.

Stern Test for Machines

And the finished Vedette without its engine costs $15,000. The engine runs all the way from $2,000 to $7,000 more, in the finished machine, there is probably not a hundred dollars’ worth of raw material, wood, wire and cloth. The huge expense is in the designing and the making.

Over the trail framework of the wing is sewn one thickness of fabric. It then receives a number of coats of a celluloid compound or “dope.” This stiffens and reinforces the fabric.

R. C. A. F. officers come and test each machine when it is assembled. They give it a stern test. It has to take them into perilous and remote wildernesses. Every part of the machine, except the engine, is made in Vickers. The propellers, the metal parts, the wooden trifles lighter than lend pencils, are all manufactured under inspection, in rooms kept at strict temperatures and stricter moisture content.

The Pacific stations of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the forestry stations at High River, Alberta, have got most of the new machines so far. Camp Borden has mostly training machines for cadets of the RCAF.

On the permanent air force Canada has sixty officers and three hundred and seventy men. This number includes not only fliers but all the headquarters and base details, riggers and mechanics employed at the air stations of the dominion, Vancouver, High River, Winnipeg, Camp Borden, Ottawa and Dartmouth, N. S.

The number of flying machines in the service cannot be announced by the ministry because it is secret and confidential, but besides the machines in actual use on patrols for the different departments of the government, there are a large number of war machines in storage that have never been flown.

Last year, the force did over 2,000 hours of flying, the largest single item of that being 750 hours in forestry protection, the next, 681 in cadet training and 268 hours in survey and photography,

Naturally, the survey work is the one that is showing most promisingly. For photographic survey from the air is the greatest advance in engineering in recent times. The machine simply flies in a series of straight parallel lines, shooting vertical downward pictures at a known height as it goes. These photos are then taken by experts, who join them together to scale. And there is a perfect map, showing everything in detail, every watercourse, every lake, every forest and outcrop of rock-everything but ground levels. These are obtained roughly by the fliers landing on lakes at different points and taking levels. By this method, regions that are practically inaccessible are easily mapped at a rate that has advanced the knowledge of Canada’s wilderness twenty years. The experts, of course, can read these photographic maps so skillfully that they can tell the type of trees in the forests shown.

The R. C. A. F. proposes to photograph a hundred thousand square miles of northern Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan the coming season. The winter will be spent getting gasoline bases established on lakes scattered through the country they are going to map.

This activity in the air is quite aside from Ontario’s own forestry protection and survey air force that has flown an equal sum of hours exclusively in Ontario. Quebec is doing a little in forestry aviation, but has not yet taken it up on a serious scale.

Canada has its factory. Its permanent military air force, at least a thousand men engaged in the flying enterprise, and perhaps ten thousand young men qualified fliers – who still fly in their dreams.

Flying is on a practical going basis in the dominion, with a bright outlook.

Editor’s Notes: When he mentions Bishop, he means, Billy Bishop, Canada’s most famous flier from the First World War. No first name would be needed as everyone would know who he is writing about.

Canadian Vickers existed from 1911 to 1944 when the airpalne business was taken over by Canadair. Different ownership over the years has culminated in Bombardier today.

More information on the Vedette and Varuna are available through the links.

Wilfrid T. Reid was a famous airplane designer and engineer.

What Beauty!

September 22, 1945


By Greg Clark, September 16, 1939

“You poor guy,” cried Jimmie Frise, “now what’s happened?”

“It’s the hay fever,” I replied sullenly.

“You look as though you’d been crying for a week,” said Jim.

I’ve been crying,” I informed him, “for nearly thirty years.”

Why don’t you do something for it?” demanded Jim. “You’ve no right to be going around in that condition, distressing all your friends. I bet even strangers shudder at the sight of you.”

“I don’t expect any sympathy,” I stated coldly.

“At first sight,” remarked Jim, scrutinizing my swollen and inflamed countenance “you would think you were agonized with grief.”

“I am,” I admitted.

“On second sight,” continued Jim, “you look like an alcohol-drinking hobo that had got dressed up in good clothes.

“I know what I look like,” I informed him bitterly. “If you don’t like the look of me, look some place else.”

“Why don’t you take some of the cures?” demanded Jim. “There are pills that are very helpful. And at any hospital they will test you out with forty or fifty vaccines and find what it is you are allergic to.”

“Yes, and make forty or fifty holes in my arms,” I retorted. “I know hay fever victims that have had over two hundred incisions. They have the tattoo marks of our affliction all over both arms, both legs and a new geometrical pattern started on their chests.

“And not cured yet?” inquired Jim.

“There is no limit,” I explained to the number of things a man might be allergic to. The ordinary things are pollen, dust, fur and things like that. But after a man had allowed himself to be cut to pieces and all the outrageous particles from horse dandruff to asbestos rubbed into his hide, he might die of acute asthma and find, in the great Beyond, where all things are made known, that what he suffered from was pork chops.”

“Yet,” argued Jim, “you might find your enemy on the fifth incision. And wouldn’t that be worth it?”

“I think everybody ought to have some sort of affliction,” I declared. “It makes us more kindly disposed towards our fellowmen. An annual affliction, like hay fever, is better than a case of appendicitis, because as the years go by you not only get over thinking about your appendix; you even stop talking about it. Whereas, hay fever is recurrent. It comes back every year, and every year it grows worse. It is not a fatal malady, but it is as miserable as any affliction you can imagine. Lots of us wish it were fatal.”

“Come, Come”, Laughs Jim

“Oh, come, come,” laughed Jimmie.

“Hay fever looks funny,” I admitted. “But it is far from funny. It isn’t an ache and it isn’t a pain. It isn’t a tickle and it isn’t an itch. But it is all those things combined into one complete agony.”

“Why don’t you do something about it, then?” asked Jim. “Why don’t you go away for a couple of weeks’ holidays?”

“Who wants to take holidays in September,” I demanded, “when all the resorts are deserted? Who wants to go up to a summer cottage in mid-September and see nothing but boarded-up and shuttered cottages staring deadly all around? A man who reaches my age wants a little human companionship.”

“There are plenty of little hotels run exclusively for hay fever sufferers,” said Jim. “Mighty cosy little places, too, and you would be amongst the company of your fellow victims. There would be a fellowship amongst you that would be a damn sight more amiable than the fellowship of a summer hotel.”

“I don’t fancy hospitals,” I stated, “or convalescent homes.”

“These aren’t hospitals,” cried Jim. “I know one little spot I ran into two years ago when I was lunge fishing. It’s the smartest little modern hotel you’d ever want to see. And it is packed full of hay fever victims right through to October. They have grand fishing, and September is the loveliest month of all, if we only realized it. The trees turning and fine winds and sunny days.”

“I’ve had my holidays,” I advised.

“But if you spoke to the editor,” cried Jim, “do you think he would want you to suffer like this? You could do your writing up at the hotel and mail it down.”

“It would just look like so much graft,” I protested. “Editors are hardened to hangings and murders and things. What do they care for hay fever?”

“I was thinking,” explained Jim, that if I were to sell the editor a real bad case of hay fever for you he might suggest that I go with you and do my drawing up there, too. We have to be together.”

Ah, He Knows ‘Em

“Pooh,” I said. “I know editors.”

“Anyway,” went on Jim with mounting excitement, “you couldn’t drive yourself, the condition you’re in. Somebody would have to take you. Just for a few days. Just for a week or so.”

“Pipe dreams, Jim,” I assured him, trying to get my typewriter clicking.

“And if a traffic cop were to see you driving,” said Jim, “with a boiled face and bleary eyes like yours, he’d pinch you for drunken driving and there would be a scandal.”

“Just let me be, Jim,” I requested wearily. “It lasts about another week. Then I’ll be okay.”

“You have no objections,” inquired Jim, “if I try a little sales talk on the editor?”

“Hm, hm,” I said, starting my typewriter clicking.

And a few minutes later, Jim having left the room, the editor strolled in to talk over a story about Hollywood with me, wondering if I would like to go down and skyhoot around with all the movie stars for a while. And all the time he sat on my desk he kept staring intently at me.

“Hay fever?” he inquired at last.

“Mfff,” said I, having known this editor since we were boys together.

And he walked out, and a few minutes later Jim walked in with a note to me from the editor.

“I think,” said the editor’s note, “you had better slip away for a few days to some hay fever resort. You can write your copy there and mail it. I think Jim might accompany you and take his drawing board with him. I do not think it is in the best interests of the office that strangers should see you hanging about in your present condition They would misunderstand and possibly get a wrong impression as to the principles this newspaper stands for.”

“Wheeeee,” yelled Jimmie.

“How did you manage it?” I cried, leaping up and joining hands for a little ring-around-a-rosey with Jim.

“I told him I had overheard a conversation in the elevator,” said Jim “between two ladies who said they wondered at The Star Weekly employing such dissipated-looking scoundrels. They meant you.”

“I don’t approve of the means,” I stated, “but the end is okay.”

They Get Away

And after cleaning up the odds and ends that infringe on all unexpected holidays, Jim and I got away the following noon and had not gone fifty miles through the fine breezy September countryside before I felt my head clearing, my eyes losing their itch: and Jim, looking at me, said that he could already see traces of my normal self appearing out from amidst the blotches and blobs.

September is a fine month. May has a quality of delight in it, after the long winter. But September is like a man of forty compared with the childish tantrums of April and the sulky fulness of July. September is the year in its maturity.

“Hoy,” I hailed the wide fields, the coloring trees. “Wheeee.”

“Whatever it is gives you hay fever,” said Jim, “it is in the city. It certainly isn’t in the country. You’re like a new man already.”

And over country highways with hardly any traffic we lifted and dipped and soared and came at last to the lake country and the gravel roads that led us just before supper time to the little hotel devoted to the victims of allergy.

It was, as Jim had promised, a dandy little hotel. Set in a grove of pines, on a hill, and well built and rugged, with fireplaces everywhere, and stuffed fish and paintings of sportsmen and big game animals. A decidedly pretty waitress showed us to the registration desk where a large lady welcomed us and gave us our rooms.

“My husband,” she said, introducing a large, shy gentleman who ambled up. “He was a terrible sufferer. So I made him give up the brokerage business and we just came out here and launched this sanctuary.”

“You’ve got a lovely little place,” I agreed. “Are there many muskies caught this season?”

“This hotel,” said the lady, ignoring my piscatorial query, “this hotel has never been desecrated with a sneeze. Oh, Mrs. McKay …”

Another elderly lady bounced over and we were introduced.

“Mrs. McKay is a tragic sufferer,” assured the hostess. “She’s one of our charter members. Been coming here for twenty years… Oh, Mr. McWhirtle …”

Not a Sneeze in Roomful

And a gentleman passing was haled over and introduced. Apparently, at hay fever resorts, one meets everyone. It’s a club.

“Any fishing, Mr. McWhirtle?” Jim enquired heartily.

“I don’t fish,” said Mr. McWhirtle. “I am happy just breathing.”

And he took a deep breath to show us. He swelled all up.

Before we got out of the lobby, we met six other people, Mr. and Mrs. Macdonald, Miss Andrews, Dr. and Mrs. McSlockery and a widow, Mrs. McDrummle …

“I notice,” I said “that you are all Scottish?”

“That’s a fact,” agreed Dr. McSlockery heartily. “I wonder if the Scotch aren’t a little more subject to hay fever…”

“Dinner, gentlemen,” said the hostess, “will be in twenty minutes.”

So the merry little gathering in the lobby broke up and through upstairs halls faintly smelling of the happy odor of log fires, two pretty maids escorted Jim and me to our rooms and laid out our bags and brought us jugs of steaming water.

“Some place,” I assured Jim when we visited each other.

“We’ll be very cosy here for a week,” gloated Jim. “I’ll set my drawing board right here by this north window.”

“In honor of all those Scotchmen,” I said, “I’m glad I brought this Scotch tweed.”

“Wear it to dinner,” said Jim. “It makes you look distinguished.”

So when the mellow dinner bell rang, we descended the stairs with the excitement that comes in strange houses, and we paraded into the dining-room where all the guests were eagerly seated and the menu cards being inspected hungrily.

“This September air sharpens the appetite,” said the proprietor very friendly as we passed him to our table, next.

The dining-room faced south and the hot evening sun had made the room warm. Behind me an electric fan hummed happily. We all glanced around at one another in the friendliest fashion.

“Aaaachooow!” sneezed the waitress standing nearest us.

I thought the hostess, who was at the next table, would fall off her chair.

“Gertie!” she gasped. “Gertie.”

But Gertie laid her head back and go another.

The room seemed to freeze. No wolf howl ever created a more deathly silence in the sheep-fold than did Gertie’s outrageous sneeze.

“Waaa,” began Jimmie, unexpectedly, “chooo.”

The proprietor, turning to look in consternation, suddenly coiled up his nose, writhed his lips in agony and let go a terrific cross between a sneeze and a cough.

And before you could say Mackenzie King, the whole room was in an uproar of sneezing. Little sneezes, like a cat, big sneezes, like a horse, ladies, gents, waitresses, all paralyzed in the most extraordinary fit of sneezing gasping, coughing, choking.

And the glory of it was, I felt not the slightest tickle.

One by one, couple by couple, the guests rose and staggered from the room, holding their serviettes to their faces. I could see the tragic telltale signs, the running eye, the flushed brow and that expression of dumb despair known only to the allergic.

Everybody fled but Jim and me, and when the second waitress ran out the kitchen swing door, even Jim, reaching his tenth whopper, stood up and walked unsteadily to join the others in the lobby and on the cool veranda. I was left alone, clear-headed, dry-eyed, to sit and listen to the hubbub of sneezes, and babbled conversation sharp with a note of consternation in it.

Then I got up, having satisfactorily demonstrated my superior resistance, and walked out to the lobby.

Mrs. McSlockery was standing in the door leading to the veranda. She was breathing deep, wiping her eyes, and had apparently got herself under control.

“What an extraordinary…” I began amiably to the lady.

“Aaaaa,” she sighed, “whooop …”

I backed away from her.

“It’s Hib, Hib”, She Shouts

“It’s hib, it’s hib,” shouted Mrs. McSlockery wildly; and when I turned, she was pointing a frenzied finger at me.

“It’s hib, the biddit he cabe dear, I wet off agaid,” she cried furiously.

Dr. McSlockery approached me menacingly and withdrew his serviette from his blotched face long enough to take a quick sniff in my direction.

“It’s his coat,” shouted the doctor. “It’s full of heather! It’s heather pollen! Get him out of here. Get him out of here.”

I will draw a veil over the next seven minutes. I have never left a hotel so hurriedly. Not even in Flanders. The proprietress practically gave Jim and me the bum’s rush. We were bundled out. Weeping maids no longer pretty, dashed up and slammed our bags shut and yanked them downstairs hiding their faces from us in their aprons. The guests gathered out on the screened veranda and stood stonily and did not even wave good-by.

“I can leave my coat hanging out in the ice house,” I shouted, before I shut the car door. No answer came from the veranda and its dark huddle of figures. “I can parcel it up and mail it back home.”

No reply.

“Oh, well,” said Jim, “you can’t blame them, exactly. You should understand their feelings.”

“The coat doesn’t affect me,” I retorted.

“You’re not Scotch,” said Jim. “Heather pollen never drove your ancestors from their native glens.”

So we drove out to the nearest village and got the address of the next best hay fever resort and went there. I left the coat in my bag and wore pullovers instead. But it wasn’t one, two, three with the other hotel. Jim went home Wednesday and I’m bringing this home tonight.

It’s Tough on the Parents

By Greg Clark, September 10, 1927

The Star Weekly has a sporting offer to make the educational authorities of the province.

If they will standardize home-work – that is arrange matters so that the same grades get the same home-work each night in all parts of the province – the junior third in all schools in Toronto getting exactly the same home-work as the junior third in Clinton, Ont., Pickering, Ont. and Omemee. Ont., then The Star Weekly, over the radio CFCA, will do the homework for the province.

Now, how’s that for an offer, boys and gals?

We would hire a retired schoolmaster to do the job.

Starting with the junior first about 5 p.m. we would go right through the home-work of each grade in succession, right up to the senior matriculation years, the answers to the home-work for the upper fourth collegiate grade being given about midnight or one o’clock in the morning, so as to induce the young people of that age to get home in good time.

This sporting offer is not made so much for the benefit of the children as for the parents. The Star Weekly always aims to do the popular thing as well as the decent thing.

We desire to attack public abuses. And one of the great abuses of this present generation is the duty imposed upon parents of having to continue going to school long after they have reached the age of liberty.

In former days, home-work was strictly the duty of the children.

Along about seven o’clock – there was no day-light saving time then – Pa would step out on the veranda and give a shrill whistle. The children would detach themselves reluctantly from the game of hide-and-go-seek, run-sheep-run, or injun, and drag their feet homewards.

The dining room table was generally the place set aside for homework.

Pa would shut the sliding doors between the dining room and the living room where he read the evening paper and enjoyed his smoke.

No questions were allowed. If there was any chatter in the dining room, likely to disturb Pa and his paper he would growl:


No child, in those days, had the temerity to bring his school problems in to Pa. The Pa of those good old days was no softie. He paid his school rates, and he knew the proper place of children. Between these two facts, the need for him remembering how many acres there are in a square mile did not exist.

From the dining room came soft murmurs – the kind of murmurs children make when adding or memorizing the kings of England – until about eight o’clock, Pa, having knocked out his pipe, would open the door into the dining room, look sternly in upon the toilers, solemnly produce his watch from his vest pocket and say:

“Home-work all done? Very well; to bed, every one of you!”

There has been no change in homework. But there has been a vast change in the relation between Pa and his children. Everybody knows about the emancipation of women. But we have ignored the much more important social fact of the emancipation of children.

Emancipation of Children

The emancipation of women has merely meant that men have had to hire a little more domestic help.

The emancipation of children has meant that Pa has to remember what the quotient of 489) 3443388.81 is.

Because Mother is free to vote, Pa may have to purchase a vacuum cleaner instead of a forty-cent broom.

But because children, all unaided, have reached a state of independence unparalleled in the history of human freedom, Pa has to discover the G.C.M. of 408 and 544!

This is the state of affairs that the Star Weekly would like to relieve over CFCA by announcing the solutions of all home-work through out the province, so that Pa may recover some of his lost status, his lost dignity. Nowadays It would be impossible to order the children in to do their home-work. But all children love to listen to something of their own over the radio. This CFCA scheme is crafty. Pa could tell the children about it, plead with them to be in at the proper time to tune in, and there is a good chance that the thing would succeed. We don’t guarantee it.

“The only fault I find with the plan,” said an eminent educationalist, “Is that by CFCA doing the work, much of the virtue of home-work is lost, since the child does not do the actual work.”

“The child does not do it nowadays, anyway.” we replied. “This a plan for the relief of parents.”

Premier G. H. Ferguson has announced more than once during election campaigns that he designs in time to abolish home-work. Some people think that it was Premier Ferguson’s liquor policy that carried him and his party to victory last year. It was not that, it was his announced intentions towards homework that caused tens of thousands of parents to vote him into power. It may be that his promise was only an election promise. But a vast number of waiting parents are living in expectation of the day when they will be dismissed from school.

Premier Ferguson has announced no abolition. We thought he might have made some such announcement – burning a symbolic pyre of school-books at the time – during the great concourse of school children on the lawns of the parliament buildings last May, on Decoration Day. But he didn’t.

Mr. D.D. Moshier, the new chief Inspector of schools in Toronto, however, makes an announcement of the greatest importance.

“By the action of the Toronto board of education taken last December,” he says, “home-work is to be discouraged as much as is compatible with the existing system.

“In no home is a child to be required to do home-work against the wishes of the parents.

“No child is to be penalized for not doing home-work.

“In the upper classes, working towards entrance, a certain amount of home study is to be expected of the pupils. But study, not class exercises, is what will be expected of the pupils.”

Expected! Mark that word.

How changed is childhood in so short a space of years.

We remember a stern schoolmaster, sitting on his platform, reading slowly and with acid distinctness, the problems in arithmetic we would have to bring back the next morning, done.

We remember the whistles on all the front porches up and down the street, the whistles that broke up the gang and sent us to our home-work.

Putting It Up to Dad

The best part of the day had been taken from us. From 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. we had been in the factory, sitting like a lot of little slaves, learning to be tame, and to read and write.

From 4 p.m. until 7 we had been free, except for the interruption of supper and messages and chores.

And then for another hour we had to go back to the grind, so that our little heads were filled, in farewell to another day, with the darkness of learning. We took to our small beds dreams of our serfdom.

But we have been very clever. Somehow, in the great breakdown of former things – the war, the emancipation of women, the clatter and bang of this age and moment – the children have been very, very clever. They too have worked out their liberation.

The stern parent disappeared some time in the past ten years. Was it when most young parents were away to the wars? Was it when the movies arrived on every main corner of the city? Was it when the motor car suddenly made of the evening something new and spacious!

Since 1900, more new social factors have entered human life than in a thousand years before.

Home-work could not be expected to stand against these new forces.

Take a man whose only job is selling motor cars or neckties: his life consists of a very few simple motions. He dresses particularly well. He cultivates a winning personality. He devotes his day to pleasant persuasion. There are no Intellectual tricks to it. It is easy. He simply lets himself function.

Now this man, on his return home, is faced by a squad of indignant children:

“Look here, Dad!” says the oldest boy. “I gotta get my homework done. The teacher is going to pluck me if I don’t get my homework done. I’m gonna be left behind by all the gang.

The other fellows’ dads do it. Why shouldn’t you?”

And the justice of the demand causes the father to attempt the task.

Here are a few of the problems he has to do:

“How many pints in 5-16 of a bushel?”

“What fraction of the number 12 is the quotient?”

“What percentage of 1 bu. 2 pk. is 3 qt.?”

“A cubic foot of water weighs 10 Ibs. If cast iron is 7.2 times as heavy as water, how many cubic feet of cast iron will weigh as much as 3,060 cu. ft. of water?”

“The area of a curved face of a cylinder is 396 sq. ft. The altitude is 12 ft. Find the diameter.”

Now what would the average automobile salesman do in the face of such problems, and with his son expecting the whole thing to be done by the time he gets back from the ball practise?

He might start with the last one. The word cylinder would look familiar, though who ever heard of a cylinder being 12 feet high? Some sort of a ship’s engine, probably.

He would most likely phone the office, ask for the superintendent of the garage, and put that cylinder problem up to him. But it is the insides of cylinders, not their perimeter, diameter or quotient of anything else that auto salesmen are Interested in.

When homework was first invented, life was simple. There were only five or six kinds of work in the world – farming, store-keeping, shoemaking, blacksmithing, teaching, preaching and law. And one of the principal amusements of the community was doing problems in arithmetic or philosophy in the evenings down to the shoemakers, or in the blacksmith shop, where the fathers of the village foregathered.

Every father knew about perimeter and the length of an acre and the number of grains in an ounce and so forth, because there was little else to know.

Life has suddenly become very complex and very simple. There are thousands of kinds of jobs. Men do not have to be shoemakers or farmers against their will. There are so many kinds of jobs, man just naturally flows into the one that fits him. It is not work at alt in the sense that life was work fifty years ago. A man farms because he functions, easiest as a farmer. A man keeps books or sells shirts or stocks because he can do it with the minimum of effort.

And why this happy world should be clouded, during one of the happiest periods of life – young parenthood – by the necessity for remembering or rediscovering a lot of faint, far, forgotten misery is the thing the Hon. Mr. Ferguson asks on the eve of elections and the thing Mr. Moshier, on behalf of the Toronto board of education, answers.

Back in the old days the village schoolmaster would enunciate a problem to his class.

The problem would go home. The children would struggle over it. Parents might get hold of it, if they were interested. The Pas would take it down to the shoemaker’s or the blacksmith shop and it would be wrangled over. The village wisemen could consult. But nobody knew the answer save the village schoolmaster. And he would stroll by, filled with silence and smiles.

The Ontario Public School Arithmetic costs ten cents. It contains a million problems, asks a million questions, propounds a million mysteries.

But the answers are all in the back.

For ten cents you get all the answers, all the solutions.

This book is a monument to the newer education, to the education that consists of asking questions and answering them in the same breath.

Maybe education is not what it means. Ex duco – to lead out. Education means to lead out, either to lead the child out of ignorance or to lead it out of itself.

One of the oldest puzzles in the world is to discover just what this leading means. If we are in darkness we can only lead the children into darkness. If we are stupid – and each decade looks back upon a decade of stupidity – we can only lead the children to stupidity.

The abolition of homework takes away the last responsibility of parents to share in the education of their children.

But it saves tens of thousands of parents the humiliation of being showed up before their children.

It leaves a lot more time for golf, movies, loafing in the garden, reading the comics.

But it lifts a little of the absurd burden of scholarship off mankind.

A boy recently failed quite flatly in most of his exams. He had made the hockey and rugby teams. He had gained ten pounds. He had grown big and sensible and good-looking. But he made a beautiful smash of his exams.

The boy’s father and an elder brother were talking it over.

“Will we send him back to school or shoot him into a job?”

“Well,” said the elder brother, “I don’t think education consists of scholarship any more. The biggest thing a boy can possibly get out of his education – his school days – is the experience of dominance.

“If he can dominate in scholarship, all right. That’s the good experience. If he can dominate at sport, or socially amongst his fellows, just as good, maybe better. Because, amongst all our acquaintances, Dad, in business, in society, in life altogether, do you or I number a single scholar amongst our friends?”

And they could find but one!

Yet amongst the liveliest spirits of their acquaintance they numbered men who had dominated somehow at school – in sport, in mischief, in social activity – somehow they had dominated, and experienced the sensation of dominating.

“The terrible thing,” they agreed, “the great danger that lurks in what we call education, nowadays, is the possibility that the boy will experience the other thing – the looking up to others, the failure to excel in anything. They learn nothing but to look up.”

The cancellation of homework is a black eye for scholarship. Scholarship used to be all of education. The importance of scholarship used to be impressed on the home every night.

The first faint official skid under scholarship is the dictum:

“No child is required to do homework against the wishes of the parents.”

In one way it is taking the responsibility away from parents.

But for those who are shrewd enough to see it, it is putting a new and unheard of responsibility back upon parents.

For now there are strange, unknown ways of education. Being number one of the class is no more the criterion. The monthly report means nothing.

A parent cannot look at his child and judge him by linear measurement.

Education means leading out, and at 3.30 p.m. or 4 if he’s naughty, the school leads the child right back, without a book in his hand, to the home.

But now, with no more school books to be carried home, how is a fellow going to court his girl?

That, perhaps, is the most important aspect of the whole question of homework.

Editor’s Notes: The Elementary grade levels at the time:

Junior First Grade 1
Senior First Grade 2
Junior Second Grade 3
Senior Second Grade 4
Junior Third Grade 5
Senior Third Grade 6
Junior Fourth Grade 7
Senior Fourth Grade 8

CFCA was a radio station owned by the Toronto Star. In the early days of radio, stations were often owned by other businesses.

Howard Ferguson was Premier of Ontario at the time of this article, a position he held from 1923 to 1930.

Decoration Day was a holiday used to recognize veterans before the formal establishment of Remembrance Day in 1931. It was first commemorated on June 2, 1890 by veterans of the Battle of Ridgeway. It was held on the weekend closest to June 2, and later would remember veterans of battles such as the North-West Rebellion, the Boer War, and the First World War.

One Bushel = 32 quarts = 4 pecks

Birdseye Center – 9/11/26

September 11, 1926

Games of Chance

By Greg Clark, September 8, 1934

“Now for the fall fairs,” said Jimmie Frise.

“Ah,” I said, “champion punkins, country sausage by the yard, cider just the least bit stiffened, the biggest horse in the world – only ten cents to see it!”

“Trottin’ races,” said Jimmie.

“Games of chance,” I said. “Radio salesmen. Prize quilts.”

“Things carved out of roots, like dogs, snakes and moose,” said Jimmie. “The product of a retired farmer’s idle hours.”

“If country folk do us the honor of coming to our Toronto Exhibition,” I stated, “city people, ought to return the compliment by attending at least one country fair.”

“They don’t know what they are missing if they don’t,” agreed Jim. “There is more human interest in a country fair than in the whole of a great city.”

“Slow motion,” I remembered. “The feeling of a country fair is like seeing a slow motion picture of King and Yonge streets. There are the tents and, in the bright September sunlight, the country people lazily strolling and sitting about.”

“Mostly sitting,” confirmed Jimmie. “Rather large ladies sitting with red faces on anything that is sittable and fanning themselves with their hankies.”

“Nobody in a hurry,” I said, “Even the radio salesmen from the city have caught the tempo and they stand, with faraway looks, not even trying to highjack any customers.”

“I often think,” said Jimmie, “that the people in the country are a distinct race of creatures from city folk. For several centuries there has been going on a sort of breeding process. All the eager, crafty, up-and-at-’em sort of people have left the country for the city and only the simple-easy-going, honest people stay in the country.”

“That’s a clever idea, Jim,” I said.

“And in time,” said Jimmie, “we will breed two races as distinct as, say, a Clydesdale is from a pony. The cities will be filled with crooked, scheming, pale, slit-eyed, villainous-looking creatures. And out in the country you will find only the big, strong, open-eyed, rosy-faced race, honest as the day, happy as larks, simple as children.”

“Gosh, Jimmie, I like country people.”

“When those two races are evolved,” went on Jim, who loves to get hold of a theory by the tail and see where it drags him, “the city race will try to prey on the country race and the country race will be entrenched, as you might say, against the city race. Skinny, sly city men will try to worm their way into the country to marry the beautiful, buxom country gals and there will be dramas in which great six-foot, three-hundred-pound farmers will discover their daughters carrying on with hundred-and-ten-pound city foxes, and there will be shotguns firing down lanes, and beautiful two-hundred-pound gals being turned from their three-hundred-pound parents’ doors out into the blizzard, where weazened, little city villains, with waxed moustaches, will go ha-ha-ha in the storm.”

Our System of Avoiding

“You really think that is coming?” I asked.

“The gulf between city and country people is widening every year,” said Jim. “Just visit a country fair and see. Here we are streamlining in the city. And what are they doing in the country? Just the reverse. They are tublining. Look at the shorthorn cattle. Square at both ends. While we in the cities are shaping everything for speed the country people are shaping everything for comfort.”

“You can’t imagine a streamline hen or a streamline sheep,” I agreed.

“Our philosophies,” said Jim, “the city philosophy and the country philosophy, point in opposite directions. One is for honesty, the other for guile. One is for honest production, the other is for trick production. In the city we are developing a vast system of avoiding. We are re-shaping everything to avoid friction, to avoid effort, to avoid use, to avoid work, to avoid men. In the country they still get eggs the same old way. Beef is built as usual. Wheat and hay can’t be streamlined up out of the earth. In the country everything is based on honesty. In the city everything is based on evasion.”

“I love the country,” I submitted.

“Let’s go to a fall fair and see and feel that great, homely country honesty for our souls’ sake!” cried Jimmie. “I am suffocating. My soul is all puckered. Let me sit in the steep grandstand and watch honest races. Let me throw darts at bullseyes, let me guess the number of beans in a jam jar.”

There are not many fall fairs so early in the season, as they don’t dare to compete with the big Toronto show. But Maryvale was holding its fair on the time-honored date, a date selected back in the days of William Lyon Mackenzie, and no upstart city fair could come along a half-century later and try to steal the show from Maryvale.

Maryvale has no fair buildings now. It had fine fair grounds buildings sixty years ago, but fire and time removed them, by which time it was found easier to rent big tents from the people who rent big tents to fall fairs.

Jimmie and I drove in about three p.m. and parked our car for 25 cents along with a hundred other cars, buggies, wagons and trucks in the field next the fair grounds of Maryvale.

There was a great throng of over 300 people, many of them sitting in the aged grandstand and others leaning on the fence around the trotting track. The horses and their little sulkies were as usual getting ready to start, pacing sweatily and anxiously back and forth on the track. I have been to dozens of fairs with Jimmie and I never saw a race really run yet. Jim says you have to get up on the grandstand and sit there, resolutely, and sooner or later you will see a race. But I am too impatient to move about and see the exhibits and mingle with the people to waste hours hunched up on a grandstand.

There were government moving picture shows, there were booths for radios, washing machines, agricultural implements; one tent housed a mammoth show of sixteen performers, mostly gaunt looking ladies in red lustre dancing costumes, an East Indian in a frock coat who did magic, and two comedians of the kind you never see in cities any more.

And then there were games of chance. Rolling balls, throwing rings, flinging darts.

“City types,” muttered Jim to me as we paused at the games. “Slit-eyed, look at them.”

“Let’s look at the prize vegetables and the cattle,” I suggested. So we spent some time in the tents where the fruit and vegetables were shown, the cakes, bread, pies, preserved fruit and jellies. We chatted with the patient, smooth-faced old ladies who sat, with large laps, amidst the fruits of their labors. We visited the cattle, hogs, sheep and horses. Jim went and sat in the grandstand for an hour or two while I, with my hat on the back of my head and my front hair pulled forward to show under my hat brim, wandered happily amidst the slow motion.

Crown and Anchor Boys

I ate home-made ham sandwiches and fried onion sandwiches of homemade bread. I drank wondrous lemonades and fruit punches, all with the same taste. I got into a dozen political discussions with emphatic strangers. A man showed me how to milk a cow with a machine. Another man offered me a genuine Highland sheep dog. regularly worth $50 to $75, for only $2.50.

I joined Jimmie and found him down behind the grandstand talking with three country gentlemen.

“Come here,” said Jim. “Let me introduce you to these gentlemen. This is my friend. These are three of the head men of the fair.”

“He don’t look big enough,” said one of the country gentlemen.

“He has a big voice,” said Jimmie.

“What is it?” I asked, scenting trouble.

“Listen,” said Jim. “Down behind that shed there at the foot of the field two crooks have got a crown and anchor board and they are fleecing the country boys out of plenty of money.”

“City toughs, I suppose?” I said.

“That’s it,” said the committee.

“Now the constable,” said Jim, “is acting as starter for the races, and anyway, the committee don’t want to make any trouble. All they want to do is to chase those crown and anchor boys off the grounds, see?”

“It would give the fair a bad name,” exclaimed the committee, “if it got into court that we had arrested gamblers on the grounds.”

“So what?” I asked.

“We wondered if you two gents would come along. One of you is tall enough to look like a policeman, and the other, that’s you, mister, can yell, ‘Make way for the provincials,’ or something. And in the scare, these guys will make a getaway. And stay away.”

“That is easy.” I said, clearing my throat and getting my lungs ready. “But isn’t it against the law to impersonate police?”

“You won’t be impersonating,” said the committee. “All that will happen will be you yell in a big deep voice, ‘make way for the provincials,’ and then your tall friend, with his hat over his eyes, will come charging into the crowd.”

“Are there many down there?”

“There’s quite a mob, and we three will go down, too, and be ready to help stampede them.”

“Let’s go,” said I.

“Just a minute,” said the committee. “We will go down, and you two follow and wait just out of sight by the end of the sheds. Then when I give you the signal, you come on the run.”

“Right,” said I.

“And be sure and don’t come until you get the signal,” insisted the committee.

“Correct,” said Jimmie and I.

The committee hurried off down the field towards the shed and Jim and I followed slowly.

We arrived at the shed and took up a waiting position at the corner. We peeped around and saw about twenty or thirty men surrounding something, and we could hear a voice either making a speech or exhorting the crowd to some sort of iniquity.

“City voices,” I said to Jim. “Hear how harsh and unmusical they are.”

“Clear your voice,” warned Jim.

We waited and waited. As we stood there, half a dozen newcomers came along and passed us, to join the group behind the shed, and they cast curious, not to say, suspicious glances at us.

Breaking Up the Game

After about twenty minutes, we saw one of the committee emerge hastily from the throng and come gesticulating towards us.

“Let her go,” he hissed.

Jim charged. I bounded beside him.

“Make way for the provincials!” I roared, in the deepest bellow. “Make way, there!”

And like a battering ram, Jim, with his hat jammed fiercely over his eyes, crashed into the ring where the two other committee men were making a spot for him. They beckoned him through and it made it easier than crashing strangers.

The effect was astounding. Men flew in every direction. I had time only to let loose the one bellow when thirty men were racing in all directions and the three committeemen were kneeling on the ground around a small square of oilcloth, and scooping money, silver, bills, everything, into their pockets while Jimmie stood above them glaring fiercely at the fleeing men.

Quickly the committee raked in the money and snatched the oilcloth square and then they too leaped up and raced around the end of the shed.

“Well?” I said to Jim.

“I guess we had better go, too,” suggested Jim, starting to run. So we ran down the field to the marquee tents again and mingled with the throng.

“That was a funny one,” I said.

“Very funny.” agreed Jim. “Did you see those two gamblers go? They took the fence like a hurdle and kept on down the road like greyhounds. They must have a car parked down there.”

“That’s what happens to city men when they come to the country.” I declared. “Your theory is working out. These honest country folk won’t put up with gamblers.”

Down by the cattle ring, we met the committee.

“Come down back of the grandstand,” they said. “Follow us at a little distance.”

We followed.

Behind the grandstand we formed a little ring, and the tallest committeeman reached into his pocket and pulled out two small rolls of bills bound with elastic.

“There was $47.30 on the board,” said he. “Split five ways, that gives you two boys $9 something. We made it $9 even. How about it?”

Jim cleared his threat. “How about what?” I asked.

“Nine bucks,” said the tall one, genially. “Even split.”

“What is this?” I asked.

“The money off the board,” said the tall one.

“Huh?” said Jimmie.

“It’s just a little country lark,” said the committeeman. “We three gentlemen worked up a big game and got the two gamblers to set up a lot of money, and then you came at the right time…”

“Jimmie,” I cried, “this is dishonest! I thought you were committee men!”

“We’re a committee we appointed to keep the morals clean at this here fair,” said the tall committeeman.

“Who appointed you?”

“We did.”

“Divide our share amongst yourselves,” I said, sadly. “We are city men. We have old-fashioned ideas.”

“It’s O.K. with us,” said the tall committeemen, breaking our rolls open and dividing all the dirty ones and twos amongst his friends. “You city fellows are funny. If you aren’t crooks, you’re pious.”

“I guess it’s the same in the country,” Jimmie said.

So we went up in the grandstand, and I saw my first trotting race, and Jim lost three dollars on it.

Editor’s Notes: William Lyon Mackenzie was the leader of a rebellion in Ontario in 1837.

Maryvale is a real place, currently a neighbourhood in the Scarborough area of Toronto.

Crown and Anchor is a popular gambling game.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén