Monthly Archives: December 2013

Rufus is taking a Christmas time-out; memories from Christmases past

Fur Coat Saskatchewan 1914

Who’s this fellow, in his fur coat and all?

Oh, just a model – the picture appeared in H.B. Co. advertising in 1906. Rufus paid $52 for that coat  at the trading post in Qu’Appelle. It was no luxury, just a working guy’s coat. 1906-7 was the coldest Saskatchewan winter in decades. He and Marshall, his employer, had to drive a buggy or sleigh to get into town. It had been -30 Celsius for three weeks and only a fur coat could keep out the wind.

I guess that was his coldest Christmas.

For sure, though a couple of years later – when Rufus was shoveling coal for a living in Lethbridge  – he heard that a family that hadn’t picked up their coal before it ran out had frozen to death!

That’s a terrible story! What about happier Christmases?

St Stepen's Xmas 2012 ii

Here’s St Stephen’s, Bee’s and Rufus’s first house – in the woods outside Duncan on Vancouver Island. 1912 was their first Christmas and Bee roasted a duck for their dinner. She’d never cooked a bird before and they were opening the oven door to look at it every five minutes – even the cat and the dog had a look. When all was ready, they couldn’t find their carver – so Rufus carved the duck with his razor!

St Stepen's Xmas 2012 - Bee

That’s Bee, walking off the duck, perhaps.

Maybe. Rufus had another memorable Christmas in 1916, his first one at the front. He was summoned to spend it with his uncle Harry, at the time Major General Sir Henry Timson Lukin, GOC 9th Division (British). After a night in a soft bed in the headquarters’ chateau, before eating their own Christmas dinner, Rufus had to accompany his host on a tour of his division – in the trenches on foot – to make sure the men had had their Christmas pudding. And during this tour the Germans sent over their contribution to a Merry Christmas, in the form of an afternoon barrage.  As Rufus described it, “a Hun shell burst not far away and between him and me a chunk of iron 6 inches long landed. It was so hot I could not pick it up at first.”

What about the Christmas when Rufus and Bee became engaged?

My goodness, I was forgetting that. It was Christmas 1908. Rufus, having made enough money working for Beaver Lumber at Govan, Saskatchewan, came back to England to get engaged to Bee. He came to Canterbury, where Bee was spending Christmas with her family,  and stayed at the Rose Hotel.

B 2 The Rose Hotel, Canterbury

In a much later letter to Bee, he reminisced. “I shut my eyes and
saw the old upstairs room at the Rose Hotel on a wintry morning when you
came up there and Mrs Eddy played and I sang “Thora”. And that made me
think of all those days about Christmas 1908. Do you remember walking past
Bunce’s with your old headpiece in the air — on Christmas Eve — and I was
standing in the door of the Rose. Then I dashed in and got my cap and caught
you up on King’s Bridge — and then we had a scene and I gave you your orders
to marry me.”

What does he mean by “I gave you your orders to marry me?” Didn’t he propose?

Well, yes he did later, in a sort of a way. You see, Bee was playing hard to get. Rufus had been away for three years and her life had been hard. She was making him sweat a bit – and quite right too. The ‘scene’ that he talks about was when she told him to take a jump!

So Rufus had to convince her after that.

He did. They spent a lot of time together – “those days about Christmas 1908” that Rufus mentioned. Then one evening they were at a dance and, as they were dancing, Rufus said, rather matter-of-factly : “I think we should get married.” And Bee answered: “Oh, all right.”

And that was it? They were engaged?

That’s right. Both of them had a hard time talking about their feelings. We don’t even know if he gave her a kiss! But it did make for a memorable Christmas – probably the best ever, for both of them.

Rufus’s Good-Luck Bagpiper – from Passchendaele to the sinking of HMS Harvester

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Is that grubby little dude his Good-Luck Bagpiper?

That’s no way to speak of a fellow who played his pipes through two World Wars – and is playing them still !

What do you mean – ‘through two World Wars’?

Just that. This bagpiper was in a box of lead soldiers that Santa Claus gave Rufus’s 4-year-old son Derek at Christmas 1916. Derek loved those Highlanders in their kilts, especially the bagpipers, because his Daddy was at the front with the Canadian Scottish regiment in the 16th Battalion.

761px-Canadian_Scottish_at_Canal_du_Nord_Sept_1918_IWM_CO_3289

Is that the 16th Battalion?

That’s them in their kilts, advancing towards the Canal du Nord, one of the last great battles in 1918 – but by then Rufus was no longer with them.

What battles was he in?

He was at the battles of Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Amiens and Arras, with the piper always playing away in his pocket – as he used to tell Derek. The poor piper was usually stuffed in a pocket full of coins and keys – no wonder he has little left of his original paint.

But Rufus died before World War 2 – how did the piper get involved in that?

Because Derek was in the Canadian Navy and always took the piper with him when he went to sea. He had more adventures, of course – at one time narrowly escaping drowning.

What happened?

In Halifax in 1943 Derek had gone to sea as Signals Officer on HMS Harvester, a British destroyer. On 10 March on convoy duty, Harvester rammed and sank the U-Boat U444, and picked up 5 survivors. The next day Harvester herself was torpedoed twice by  U432; she broke in half and sank, and only 60 of her crew survived.

0007585_hms_harvester

Derek and the bagpiper being among them?

They were. Derek was a fine swimmer and made it in the rough sea to a Carley float. He pulled himself out of the water to wait for rescue, along with other survivors

carley float

Those dripping wet guys must have been really, really cold – March on the North Atlantic! Brrrr! How long were they on the raft?

Not too long, fortunately – hypothermia would have finished them off soon enough. But help was nearby – out of the smoke loomed the Free French corvette Aconit and she picked them up. Aconit had just sunk U432

Aconit sinks U432

and after picking up Derek and his shipmates, she rescued a dozen Germans from the U-Boat

HMS_Aconite

Is that Aconit – she’s just a little tub, isn’t she?

She was, but in the first picture her depth charges have fatally damaged U432. Like all corvettes, she would “roll in a heavy dew.” She finished escorting that convoy – a French ship, crammed with English and German survivors – and the one Canadian.

Not to mention a small Scottish bagpiper, still finding his sea-legs!

Yes, quite a League of Nations. The skipper put the Germans to work – they had nowhere to lock them up anyway. And by the time they reached England they were all getting along pretty well.

The Bagpiper certainly had an interesting second war – not just your average tin soldier!

Rufus’s encounter with Admiral Lord Jellicoe, ‘the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon.’

Jellicoe

Why was he ‘the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon’?

It was Winston Churchill who said that – he had a talent for summing up complicated ideas.

Okay, but what did he mean?

That if, at the battle of Jutland in 1916, Jellicoe had allowed Admiral Scheer’s German dreadnoughts to destroy the British dreadnoughts, England would have been defenseless  and have had to sue for peace. On the other hand, if Jellicoe had destroyed Scheer’s fleet, it would not have stopped Germany from going on fighting.

He had quite a responsibility.

He did – and he was criticised at the time for just blocking the Germans and driving them back to port.

That was unfair, surely, because he could frustrate the German fleet by NOT taking chances. When did Rufus meet him?

When he came to BC in 1919. He didn’t come by train, of course – he arrived by dreadnought!

Which sounds much more dramatic.

HMS New Zealand

It was. And this is the battle cruiser HMS New Zealand, his little dreadnought run-about! To scoop the competition, Rufus went to Esquimalt to meet the great ship before she docked. Officers he knew at William Head got him out to the ship aboard a launch. He had time for a good chinwag with the famous admiral before he went ashore.

That was pretty smart of Rufus.

It was just his style – he never just went along for the story; he always had a plan to get the story first.

So what did they talk about.

That was the funny thing. Jellicoe wanted information about deep-water harbours on the west coast. Rufus told him what he knew, of course, but he was really a landlubber. Then Jellicoe started chatting about ‘top secret’ British Admiralty strategic plans for the Pacific!

Did Rufus include those in his story?

That would have made a sensation, wouldn’t it?!  No, he didn’t, because Jellicoe suddenly remembered he was talking to the press! To him Rufus  had seemed the Canadian staff officer he had once been – he knew General Currie, had met Field Marshall Haig, etc. etc. – They’d been chatting like old war comrades!

So what did he do?

He asked Rufus not to publish any of that stuff, of course, and Rufus – who was an imperialist at heart – gave him his word he would not.

Never mind – he still got his scoop, didn’t he?

He did. He scooped both the Victoria Colonist and the Vancouver Sun – and both of those papers ran his story. But he hadn’t heard the last of Jellicoe.

How was that?

Well, the admiral sailed away, Rufus wrote nothing about his indiscretions and more than a year later he received a surprise package from New Zealand, where Jellicoe was then Governor General.

What did it contain?

A signed photograph of the great Admiral, with the inscription “A memento of unbroken confidences.”

Jellicoe Mug.jog

Unfortunately it got lost – but this beer mug has a pretty good likeness of him too!

‘Rufus’ to be published 1 February 2014 – in time for Valentine’s Day!

Rufus - original design for book-cover

Here it is, folks, the official publication date will be 1 February 2014

Why have you been telling us to expect it before Christmas?

Because that was the original date announced – the blurb said it would be published in November 2013.

Heads must roll, I say!

Indeed they should, my friend – but what would that profit us?

Very little, I suppose.

That’s right. So we soldier on. In the big scheme of things this SNAFU hardly rates a blip. Blood pressure is high enough. And on 1 February, when you’ve paid your $24.95 and have Rufus in your hot little hands, read it and enjoy it. It will no doubt be all the better for the extra time.

Think of it this way – this will be the last ‘Rufus-free’ Christmas that the planet will ever know. After 1 February it will be a different planet!

Mmmm? Take a pill, dude, and have a very Merry Christmas in the meantime.

Walter Cameron Nichol, Rufus’s longtime benefactor

E 5 Walter Cameron Nichol

This is Walter Cameron Nichol, owner of the Daily Province in 1910.

Is he the one who gave Rufus his first job in journalism?

Indirectly, yes – Rufus was actually hired by the news editor. But Nichol quickly realised that this young Lukin Johnston was a valuable asset for the paper.

Why do you think that?

Because of the liberties that Rufus was allowed to take. A month after he was hired, with Roy, Rufus left Vancouver for a month or two to harvest Roy’s strawberry crop at Harrop, near Nelson. While there, Rufus may have filed ‘stories from the boonies’ but he was of little use to the news editor.

And when they returned to Vancouver, did he go back to work at the Province?

He did – briefly, until he and Roy signed on with the Grand Trunk Pacific railway to lay track in the Skeena valley, 1,000 kms north of Vancouver! In spite of this, the Province still didn’t fire him.

Was he sending them articles?

If he was, it was only now and then. But thanks to the insanitary conditions in GTP work camps, both of them got sick – Roy with typhus which nearly killed him – and they were shipped back to hospital in Vancouver.

Did Rufus go back to the Province?

Yes, but not immediately – once he’d recovered, he found out that CNR was laying track near New Westminster and went to work for them for a week or so.  He wanted to be able to compare labour practices at the two companies.

I imagine he wrote quite a piece about the Grand Trunk camps on the Skeena.

He did, and was furious when Nichol wouldn’t print it without cutting some of his wilder assertions. He was also chafing at the Province’s miserable pay and began shopping his articles around to other newspapers. He desperately wanted to make enough to be able to marry Bee.

Did he get any takers?

He tried The Times, the Daily Express and John Bull – possibly with success. But the Toronto weekly Canada not only took his articles but agreed to make him its BC rep. So Rufus quit the Province and went to work for Canada full-time.

Did he make more money?

The short answer is no – he expected to make a fortune selling advertising and travelled all over the province. But he was a lousy salesman and came up almost empty – so much so, that Canada fired him. At Christmas 1910 he was unemployed again!

So he had to crawl back to the Province?

No, he didn’t – but he did do something pretty smart – he took a job with a Life Insurance company and was soon making comfortable money as the office manager.

So he gave up journalism.

No – that’s just it – he didn’t have to. Thanks to Walter Nichol – who continued to pay him for articles – he was able to moonlight as a journalist on top of his fat insurance salary – he’d gone from rags to (relative) riches in a few months! Nichol even gave him an advance to enable him, with some buddies, to make an 80-mile trek into the mountains behind Hope to investigate the Steamboat Mountain goldmine.

Why would Nichol do that?

Steamboat was the hot new item on the stock market. It claimed to have found rich seams of gold and promised to make investors rich. But nobody had actually seen the mine – it was deep in the mountains, miles from roads – and here was Rufus offering to go find it. It would be big news one way or the other.

New Image

So Rufus went there – that must be him behind. What did they find?

A hole in the hill with a few miners using primitive equipment – no sign of a ‘big bucks’ operation. He wrote his expose and once again was furious when Nichol wouldn’t print it without cuts. But this story, and others that Nichol had printed, started people talking about him. And the talk encouraged the directors of the Cowichan Leader to offer him the editorship in summer 1911.

And you think that Nichol was responsible for him getting this job?

Not directly, but he’d given Rufus a platform and Rufus did the rest. Time passed – Rufus later moved to the Daily Colonist in Victoria, then went off to the war.  But Walter Nichol came back into his life in 1918.

After Rufus got back to BC, I suppose.

Not a bit of it – Nichol himself went to France! He tracked Rufus down near Arras in July 1918 and offered him a job at the Province.

Which he accepted, of course.

Not Rufus. He and Bee wanted to go back to Victoria – and having been an editor at two other papers, he did NOT want to start again at the Province at a reporter’s wages. In spite of this rebuff, Nichol left the offer open – told him to think about it and to let him know.

That was pretty nice of him.

Wasn’t it. And in the end, of course, Rufus was glad to accept. He’d been basically invalided out of France before the war ended, with stress-related gut problems. The last thing he needed was to go back to more stress by being Night Editor again at the Colonist – even if the job had been kept for him. So he cabled Nichol from London and went to see him the day he reached Vancouver.

And accepted Nichol’s offer?

That’s right. He was to start whenever he got out of the military hospital. When Nichol discovered how bad the care was there, he pulled strings to get Rufus examined by the best doctor in town – and he was soon on the mend.

How were his wages when he started work?

Rufus didn’t fuss about them – he was just glad to have a job at a time when most returning veterans were unemployed. But his wages were enough to live on and he made extra money from other newspapers who accepted his stuff. Nevertheless, Nichol had another good turn up his sleeve.

He gave Rufus a wage-hike?

No, but he prevented Roy Brown, the editor, from firing him.

What had Rufus done to deserve that?

Oh, just taking off for a couple of months, without being assigned to do so by Brown,  to cover an international naval disarmament conference in Washington, DC.!

Did the Province print his dispatches?

Oh yes, and they definitely raised the paper’s prestige. But Brown was no internationalist and wanted no part of it.

Roy Brown (behind) with Spencer and Woodward, 1930

That’s Brown at the back – he avoided the limelight and there are few pictures of him. When Rufus got back, he found himself banished to work (and live) in Victoria, with some vague advertising assignment. When Nichol  over-ruled Brown, Brown quit. But Nichol managed to make peace between him and Rufus. And that saved Rufus’s career.

Didn’t Nichol sell the Province to Southams?

He did, but by that time he was Lieutenant-Governor of BC and no longer able to keep an eye on things in Vancouver.

WalterNichol

Rufus no longer needed his protection – he’d got to know some of the Southams personally and was soon editor of the new magazine section. His troubles were over.

Did he and Nichol keep in touch?

Oh yes. By that time Rufus valued his friendship – a thing he’d been slow to do.  Whenever he was in Victoria he would go to see him at Government House. Bee became friendly with Helen Nichol, WCN’s sister, who lived with him. There’s a nice picture of Bee at Miraloma, the great house that Walter Nichol built at Sidney, BC for his retirement. Sadly, he didn’t live long to enjoy it. But he’d been Rufus’s fairy godmother.

W.C. Nichol's MiralomaBee 1927, at Miraloma

‘Beyond the Rockies’, Rufus’s first book, published 1929

Beyond the Rockies - map of BC 004

Did Rufus have that map in Beyond the Rockies?

He did – it shows places he went to on his travels, the ones he described in his book.

Why was it Beyond the Rockies, I wonder?

It was probably the publishers’ idea. Dents  were in London (England) and Toronto. They probably thought the book would only appeal to people who lived in those places – they didn’t sell many books in BC,  because our  population was tiny in those days.

More likely they thought we couldn’t read – too busy chopping down trees for log cabins and frightening off cougars and bears!

Actually, the book rather reinforces that stereotype – up-country BC was still pretty rudimentary! You had to be cut from pioneering cloth to make a living at that time, even in places like Kelowna and Prince George. As Rufus didn’t really talk about Vancouver or Victoria, readers of the book might have thought we were all a bunch of hillbillies.

N 14 Cowboys at Williams Lake stampede, 1925

That’s quite a picture – was it in the book?

It was the frontispiece – the first picture readers saw when the opened it.

Why did Rufus put it in?

Because his articles were written for Province readers. Most were amazed to see what was actually going on in their province. The cowboys were from ranches in the Chilcotin, west of Williams Lake,  and they staged that little show for Rufus to take his picture.

N 14 Clinton, main street

Was this in the far north?

No, it was glorious downtown Clinton, BC, in 1925 or so. That’s the Cariboo Highway running through, the only highway once you were out of the Lower Mainland.

Did Rufus drive up it in his car?

No, he thumbed his way up it. If he drove his own car he wouldn’t meet anybody, so he relied entirely on rides.

N 14 - Downs family from Woodpecker, with whom Rufus slept a night, 1927

 And these guys gave him a ride?

They were the Downs family from Woodpecker. They not only gave him a ride but they gave him a bed for the night. Woodpecker is between Quesnel and Prince George. Rufus was on his way to Prince George and places further west. If you look at the map, the PGE railway only took him as far as Quesnel.

Did he go further north than Prince George?

N 14 Judge Robertson  with J.E. McIntyre, HBC trader at Fort McLeod, 1927 (Beyond the Rockies)

He did. He wanted to go as far as Hudson’s Hope on the Peace River but the only way to get there was by river – look at the map. He teamed up with this guy – Judge Robertson. The judge and his teenage son were travelling his northern court circuit and he had a flat-bottomed boat to travel the rivers with.

N 14 poling down Crooked River, 1927 (Beyond the Rockies)

Not much of a river!

It was the beginning of the Crooked River, north of Prince George. They had to pole down it but eventually it flowed into the Parsnip, a much bigger river.

Where did they stay at night?

The camped – unrolled bedrolls under a tarp on the river bank. If they were lucky, the found an empty trapper’s cabin. Everybody left their places unlocked – you just helped yourself, but it was the custom to leave something for the owner.

It was a different world.

It certainly was – and people in Vancouver had no idea about it until Rufus described it in his articles.

N 14 Lining through Parle Pas Rapids, 1927 (Beyond the Rockies)

This was what they had to do to get past rapids on the Finlay and then on the Peace. It was called lining. The Judge had capsized, lost all his gear, on a previous trip. So he made them unload before rapids and carry all their gear downstream along the bank. Then they would either line the boat through – that’s what’s happening here, or

N 14 Running Finlay Rapids 1927 (Beyond the Rockies)

they would run the rapids.

And this was how people got around in the north? It’s how David Thompson would have done it!

You’re right. And even when you reached journey’s end at Hudson’s Hope, the landing looked like this.

n 14 Hudson's Hope landing on the Peace River 1927 (Beyond the Rockies)

And the irony is that the landing at Hudson’s Hope STILL looks like that! Apart from the horses, of course. And most of those rivers are now submerged under Williston Lake, the reservoir behind the W.A.C. Bennett dam.

And Rufus tells the story of all this in Beyond the Rockies? Can you still buy it?

Second-hand, you can – on Abebooks. There are usually a few copies available. But when Rufus comes out, maybe it’ll be worthwhile doing a new printing of Beyond the Rockies.

Well, thank goodness Rufus will be out soon. They keep telling us that – have faith!  IT WILL HAPPEN SOON!

N 14 - stuck in a mudhole 1927

We’ll leave you with roadside services, 1925-style.

Rufus’s friend William Wasborough Foster

W.W. Foster and Pres. Harding

I know who that is coming down the steps – that’s President Harding – and probably his wife – when they came to Vancouver.

Right on the money! But who’s the guy wearing military uniform bringing up the rear?

No idea. But I bet he was a friend of Rufus’s or you wouldn’t bother showing us the picture.

Right again – it was William Wasborough Foster, DSO, Colonel of the 52nd Battalion at Passchendaele. He was one of the heroes of the battle for Bellevue Spur – Rufus watched it unfold from his reporting centre in a captured German bunker nicknamed Waterloo. The 9th brigade had been stopped in its tracks but Foster took his men round the spur and took the Germans from the rear. Then Rufus had to go up there and send back a sketch of the brigade’s new position. Both he and Foster came out of it alive and remained good friends afterwards.

I 9 Passchendaele air photo - rd Waterloo - Bellevue

What is that moonscape?

That’s an air photo of Bellevue spur taken before the battle. Foster took his men up the slight valley on the left, and  the drawn line is Rufus’s route.

The whole landscape is riddled with shell-holes – it must have been difficult to move anywhere.

It was – but they managed, somehow. Foster was later Vancouver’s Chief of Police. He was a pretty right wing guy and led the police in the famous battle of Ballantyne Pier in 1935 – to protect strikebreakers, unloading ships, from a small army of strikers.

WWFoster_1935

This was him on his horse at the time

W,W. Foster as Chief of Vancouver Police

and here is a cartoon of him in his office.

Most of Rufus’s friends were right-wing and anti-union, weren’t they? Why was that?

Remember the times. The strikers were often led by Communists and people were frightened of Communists – memories of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia were fresh and Canadian troops had been in Siberia fighting against them.

Foster looks a vigorous guy.

He was – a real action man. He was also a great mountaineer – was on the first expeditions to climb both Mount Robson and Mount Logan.

120-2038_mt-robson

Here’s Robson. It is just under 13,000 feet, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and Foster climbed it in 1913.

So what did he and Rufus do when they got together?

You won’t believe it – they played bridge! I guess if you’ve been in a war, games like bridge seem pretty attractive. He and Rufus even managed a rubber or two when they were both out of the line after Passchendaele, while they were still in France! And one day when they were both returning from leave they hung about all day together in Folkestone, waiting for the English Channel to be cleared of mines. They seemed comfortable in each other’s company.

 That’s the best sort of friendship, I suppose.

Rufus meets Vasco Urbano Loureiro 1913

Vasco Urbano Loureiro, cartoonist ii

Who the heck is that?

That, dear boy, is Vasco Urbano Loureiro, born in London to Portuguese parents, a naturalized Australian and a cartoonist of rare skill.

And Rufus knew this guy?

Not ‘knew’, exactly  – it would be more accurate to say that he met him. They no doubt shook hands and certainly would have chatted while Vasco was drawing this likeness of him

Cartoon of Rufus with pram, 1913

Well, he’s drawn Rufus in a rare good humour, that’s for sure. That must mean that they enjoyed each other’s company.

Not surprising that they got along just fine – Rufus seldom met a man he didn’t like, and Vasco, it seems,  never met one he didn’t want to draw. They were ‘people’ guys.

Surprising that Rufus never mentions him in letters.

He probably never had the chance to get his address because Vasco was so busy – he would have been shooed in and shooed out  – Vasco did cartoons of nineteen other Duncan worthies that day.

Cartoons of Duncan personalities 1913

What a bunch of cheerful rogues. Vasco must have asked their friends to give him a thumbnail character sketch of each one. You can see which of them had a reputation as a ‘ladies man’, for example.

Yes, you’re looking at 1913 stereotypes in those pictures – and it wasn’t called sexual harassment in those days.

He really goes after the man called Louis – ladies left and right and a lecherous expression to boot. What’s the traffic accident in Rufus’s picture?

That’s the infant Derek in his buggy, raising hell while Dad takes him out for a walk. Maybe he’s objecting to dad bringing along his tennis racket – no doubt he suspects he’s to be parked under a tree while dad plays tennis. There’s probably a story here that we don’t know!

Did Vasco make his living drawing cartoons?

I believe he did, though he was usually on board ship. He liked to travel the CPR Princess ships , like the Princess Victoria.

PRINCESS-VICTORIA_PC_ADDED3-28-2011

They sailed on the so-called ‘triangle run’ between Victoria, Seattle and Vancouver. And he would be busy sketching passengers, who would line up for their pictures. And one day one of them invited him to come to Duncan.

It would be nice to know the names of the other Duncan characters he sketched that day – for example, I’d like to know who Louis was – and Le Vieux.

Maybe readers will help us out. Poor Vasco, like Rufus he joined the army – in Vasco’s case, the Australian army – and went to France in the war. In 1918 they were probably quite near each other –  the Canadian and Australian corps were often side by side. He drew this selfie just before he was fatally wounded. He died at 36.

Bohemian on the Western Front

They had plenty in common – like Rufus, he died young.

Rufus, new editor of the Cowichan Leader, in his Duncan office

Rufus in an office

This photo is 100 years old. The calendar, showing 8 July (1912 or 1913), hangs above the editor’s desk at the Cowichan Leader, on Station Street, Duncan, BC. This was Rufus’s office, his lair – evidently a place where women seldom trod, its organized disorder humming with energy and sophomoric enthusiasm.

It’s a wonderful photo – a book in itself. Too bad the definition isn’t good enough to read what it was he’d just tossed in the bin. How long had he been a journalist at this point?

Either two or three years, depending on which year this was. Here’s a picture he had taken at about the same time.

E 5 Rufus portrait 1910-11

He looks intense, doesn’t he?

‘Intense’ sums him up at that time. Most issues were either black or white for him – not much in between. Mature judgment would take him a while to develop.

F 6 1912 New appearance of Leader

This was the header of the newspaper, I suppose.

Yes – it was his header – he introduced it at Christmas 1912, along with this tagline:

Here shall the Press the People’s right maintain,
Unawed by influence and unbribed by gain.

Not much doubt about that, is there? I mean, it’s saying that the Leader will tell it like it is, and nuts to you if don’t happen to like it!

That’s about it – that was Rufus in 1912.

And did he ‘reap the whirlwind’?

Oh yes – a whirlwind a week became his modus operandi! He fell out with everybody. It must have been pretty stressful for him, but he always figured it would benefit him in the long run.

How did he make that out?

On the principle that all publicity is good publicity. If people were becoming used to hearing about his outrageous muckraking, then at least they knew who he was. He reckoned it would get him known – half the battle for the ambitious journalist.

But the Leader was only a rural weekly – how were they going to hear about him?

Rufus had thought of that. For instance, when he was getting after the CPR for poor service on the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway – owned by CPR – he used to mail marked copies of the Leader to CPR executives, nation wide – including Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, the boss!

Did he get a reaction?

Yes indeed – Beasley, the local CPR boss, was getting the heat from the higher-ups. He came to Rufus’s office in Duncan to have it out. He ranted and raved, called Rufus ‘an insolent cub’ and told him he needed a good thrashing!

I imagine that story did the rounds.

Which was the whole point , of course. But you’ll have to buy the book to read the whole story. It should be out very soon.