Monthly Archives: January 2014

Rufus’s encounter with Izaak Walton Killam, then Canada’a richest man

Izaak_Walton_Killam

This is Izaak Walton Killam,  in his lifetime said to be Canada’s richest man. He was born in 1885 and died at 70 , in 1955.

He was the same age as Rufus, in fact – wasn’t Rufus born in 1885?

No, in 1887 – Killam was a couple of years older.

So how did Rufus meet him, or is that a long story?

It’s actually a very short one.  Rufus was in Montreal in November 1927, interviewing remarkable Canadians for his Province Magazine. He phoned Killam’s office and, amazingly, Killam agreed to see him.

Why amazingly – you mean he was too busy?

Not a bit of it – the man was so rich he didn’t have to be busy! No, it was amazing because he was a super-private person. The guy was a famous financier but nobody, except a few faithful employees, knew who the heck he was, or even what he looked like!The picture of him I’ve used is the only one in the public domain. It’s still the only picture of him out there! Needless to say, Rufus was intrigued.

The guy was a privacy freak! Like Howard Hughes! So how on earth did Rufus get his appointment?

That’s the mystery! It could only be because Killam wanted to see Rufus!

Why would he WANT to see a journalist?

Rufus must have asked himself the same question. But he did interview the man – and we’ve no idea whether Killam insisted on it being off the record. But about a week later, Rufus was back in Montreal  and his boss, Fred Southam, invited him to lunch at the Saint James’s Club. He found he already knew three of his four fellow lunch-guests – General McRae, a Tory MP who’d been leader of the BC Provincial Party, General Currie, GOC Canadian Corps but now principal of McGill – and Killam. And it was Killam who button-holed Rufus and insisted he come to tea that afternoon!

What did they talk about?

We’ll never know – Rufus didn’t say. But we do know that in October that year Killam had bought  the Mail & Empire, a Toronto newspaper, for $3 million. Two days later Rufus was in Toronto. He had a full day of interviews, went to a play in the evening and at midnight went round to the Mail & Empire.to see Killam – for the fourth time in just over a week. You tell me what they talked about.

Well, it sounds like Killam wanted to hire Rufus – why else would he invite him round to the Mail & Empire? He must have heard about Rufus’s success with the Province Magazine – news travels fast in the newspaper world.

And there was something else. Rufus was a Tory – a pretty extreme one, actually – that’s how he’d got to know General McRae. Killam would have picked that up during that lunch in Montreal. And, because he wanted the Mail & Empire to support the Tories in Ottawa, he was looking around for a like-minded editor to run it.

So Rufus turned down an offer from Canada’s richest man! That’s a story for the record book! Why would he do that, do you think?

Two reasons, I suspect. #1, Killam didn’t offer him enough – you don’t get to be Canada’s richest man by being Mr Nice Guy. And #2, Rufus was committed to Fred Southam – he  liked working for him, liked the whole Southam family and wasn’t about to let them down. Say what you like about Rufus, he was one loyal guy!

I.W.Killam cartoon

Publication date postponed again, this time to 1 March – in time for St Patrick’s Day!! Rufus reported to be taking it calmly.

Cartoon of Rufus with pram, 1913

What I need is a good game of tennis after sitting in the office all day. This damned kid of mine, he just knows I’m going to dump him when we get to the club, and he’s raising Cain. But I don’t worry about the little bleeder – just keep smiling, that’s what I say.  And don’t worry about your book, old chap – I never did. I dumped the manuscript on that Dent fellow  and left him to sort things out.  He always managed in the end. What d’ye say, Jellicoe?

Jellicoe Mug.jog

Worry about a book! Ridiculous! Why, at Jutland, I didn’t even worry about the German High Seas fleet.  Spent all afternoon just concentrating on not losing the war. By the time the sun was over the yard-arm, it was opening time in Kiel. Can’t keep a good German from his stein, what, what!

No doubt, admiral, I’m sure you would know. But this author chap, the one who’s written this book about me, he’s married to my grand-daughter, ye know. Nice fellow, they tell me, though apt  to ‘fly up in the air’ about things. Maybe old Billy Foster could give him some tips on staying calm. Hey, Billy!

W,W. Foster as Chief of Vancouver Police

I’m here, Johnston, you don’t have to shout. “Stay calm and carry on” is what I say. That was how we won at Bellevue Spur in 1917. What a racket there was, shells bursting left and right. Nobody could see a damn thing because of the smoke. So nobody saw us sneaking round the back of the Germans and we took ’em from the rear. When I was Chief of Police in Vancouver, we did the same at the Battle of Ballantyne Pier. We faced 1000 rioters with our backs to the water while the Mounties came up behind them.

Thanks, Billy. I’m sure he feels a lot better. All you readers out there, you’ll get your books – it’s just going to take a little longer. This author chap’s finding out about book publishing the hard way, but it’ll all work out – just as it always did with good old Dent.

AACAtop10_1912Cadillac_2000

Poop! Poop!

Rufus, Vimy Ridge and the great Canadian Corps Memorial

vimyattack1917

This was Vimy Ridge on 9 April, Easter Monday 1917. It was taken by an official army photographer

It doesn’t look much of a ridge to me.

It actually isn’t much of a ridge – and when it has trees growing on it it looks twice as high. But the guns had blown away all the trees, all the houses, and anyway, in the picture the top of the ridge is hidden by  smoke.

Why was it worth fighting for, I wonder?

Because it was the highest land for 100 kms around. The army that controlled it could keep its enemy pinned down by gunfire.

Q 17  view from Vimy Ridge looking west 1932

That must be the view from the top.

It is. It was taken by Rufus in 1932, fifteen years after the battle. He and Bee were visiting the great monument to Canadian war-dead, which was under construction. They met the sculptor Luigi Rigamonti who was at work on the statues.

Q 17  figure of Canada at Vimy 1932

What does the figure represent?

It represents Canada, grieving for her dead sons.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here it is again, the same figure, with Andrew, Rufus’s great great grandson. This picture was taken 80 years later – in August 2012.

Vimy_Memorial_-_unveiling_(front)

This looks like the grand opening. How come there isn’t a Canadian flag in sight?

I suspect that’s a Canadian flag draped in the front – it wasn’t a Maple Leaf in those days, just a red flag with the British flag in the corner.  And yes, it was the official opening – 26 July 1936 – and Derek, Rufus’s son, was somewhere in that crowd. The speaker was King Edward VIII, performing one of the only useful tasks in his brief reign.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Is that the monument, taken from the Canadian side?

That’s right. And the Canadian government decided to build it on the very top of the ridge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This picture is a continuation of the picture with Andrew in it. It’s looking more or less due east, into the land controlled by the German army. It is the million dollar view.

It looks so peaceful now, but it’s what they were all fighting for 97 years ago.

It is peaceful, usually, but nearly a century later, there are parts of the hill where it’s still too dangerous to walk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My goodness – that brings it home.

The tragic tale of Rufus’s brother Lyonel

B 2 Johnston 1905 standing Rufus, Roy; seated RE, Peter, Joyce, Lyonel

This picture was taken a few days before Rufus (top left) left England for Canada in the fall of 1905.

Is Lyonel the one with the big white collar (bottom right)?

He is – he was ten years old and probably wearing that silly Eton collar because it was part of his school uniform. Rufus saw him briefly at Christmas 1908, when he came home to get engaged to Bee. But after that, they wouldn’t meet again until Lyonel arrived on Rufus’s & Bee’s doorstep in Duncan in 1913

Why did he come to Canada?

Basically for the same reason that Rufus did – his options in England were limited and their father couldn’t afford university for him. Here’s a picture of him playing cricket at Berkhamsted school.

Lyonel having scored 101 at Berkhamstead_edited

That’s Lyonel on the left, aged 17 – he was quite an athlete and had just scored a century -100 runs – a big deal in cricket. And here he is again, newly arrived in Duncan in 1913 and learning to be an uncle.

Lyonel, Derek 1913

What did he do in Duncan?

Rufus arranged with a surveyor pal to take him on as an apprentice. Surveying was right up Lyonel’s street and he was off in the bush for months at a time. Sometimes Rufus would visit him in camp and they’d go hunting. They never shot anything – the animals could smell their horrible pipes miles away – but they had a good time and got to know each other as adults.

G 7  Linden Cottage, May 31 1914 - back RE, Derek; front Lyonel, Roy, Rufus

Where on earth was that taken – in England?

Oh no. You see, the old man, old Reverend Johnston – that’s him with Derek at the back – came out to visit his boys in 1914. Roy, his eldest son, was there, too, of course – that’s him in front – he’d come out with Rufus in 1909, made the mistake of marrying a woman who didn’t want to leave, and so he never went back – except to fight in the war.

But where was the picture taken?

On the steps of Linden Cottage at 1041 Linden Avenue, Victoria, Rufus’s and Bee’s house after they left Duncan. Lyonel looks very smart, doesn’t he. It was an illusion – the next day he took the old Prince Rupert up the coast, back to his surveying camp, in the bush and miles from anywhere. When war broke out they didn’t hear about it for weeks. When they finally did, Lyonel and his pal Joe Mason, with a native man who offered to help them find it, bushwhacked their way to the nearest telegraph office to volunteer.

Did he get sent to England?

Not until February 1915. He spent the winter training with the 30th Battalion in Victoria and was able to be with Rufus and Bee for Christmas. By March 1915, he was with the battalion at Shornecliffe camp in Kent.

Lyonel, RE, 1914

And that’s him – not looking very military – with his father.

Yes. The picture may have been taken before he went to Canada, but in any case, because he was training in Kent, he did have a chance to see his father. Just before he went to France (in May 1915), the Germans started using chlorine gas. R.E. was terribly worried. He and Florie (his new wife) and Peter and Joyce – the 2 youngest children – and the vicarage servants spent all night making gas masks – to War Office specifications! – for Lyonel’s whole platoon – and they received them before the platoon left Shornecliffe.

Meanwhile, Roy was already at the front, wasn’t he?

Yes, and he and his men were among the first soldiers to be gassed – that was why R.E. was so worried about Lyonel. Poor Roy, he was gassed badly enough to be invalided out – and he spent the rest of the war doing a desk job in England.

So what happened to Lyonel?

His platoon was sent as reinforcements to the Leinsters, a British Regiment, at the front. and he sent this letter to ‘Ginger’ and Bee before he left

Lyonel to Ginger and Bee, May 1915Lyonel to Ginger and Bee, May 1915 ii

Typical young man, rattling on with all that stuff about where everybody’s going – his brother and Bee are only interested in what he’s doing!

Okay, I agree, but the rest of it is powerful – as if he had a premonition – “We leave for France tonight”. And then, asking for his trunk to be sent to their father’s “as if I am wounded, or anything like that, I will have no clothes to wear.”

And the kicker –  “Hope to see you again some day with any luck”!

Ten days after he landed in France Lyonel’s battalion was in the grim battle of Festubert – Givenchy – unintelligent frontal assaults against prepared defenses. For all their courage, little was gained and nearly 3000 Canadian became casualties.

Was Lyonel an officer?

He was a private at Festubert-Givenchy but was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant after those battles – maybe as a result of the casualties. He led his 30-man platoon in several other actions in 1915 and then had a week’s leave at home in Marden before Christmas.When he got back he found himself, as the sole surviving officer, the new commander of a company of 100 men. Within days he was made a Captain.

G 7  Lyonel 1916.03 Colonist, on promotion to captain

That was a pretty speedy move up the ranks, even for wartime.

It was, and he was clearly an exceptional officer.  But he’d also been lucky and in June his luck ran out. In his brother Rufus’s words: “Two days before his 21st birthday — in June 1916 — he was going round the line at “stand-to”. A sniper’s bullet hit him square in the forehead.” Lyonel died the following day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

His grave is in the military graveyard in Bailleul, Belgium. His battalion commander wrote to his father: “He was beloved and respected by all, was a most gallant lad and had risen fast in the Army . . . I personally have lost a dear friend and my best company commander.”

And he was still only 20 years old. What a waste.

Some time after Rufus had been assigned to staff training in May 1917 he managed to wangle a car to go and look for his brother’s grave. He found it easily enough and paid a local carpenter to make a proper wooden cross. The saddest part came when he went to the Casualty Clearing Station in Bailleul, where Lyonel had lived for a whole day before he died. But the matron from June 1916 had left, and there was nobody who remembered him.

Rufus, while investigating the Steamboat Mountain gold mine, visited Hope, BC, in 1911

E 5 1911 the ferry to Hope

In May 1911 Rufus and three friends set out to inspect the Steamboat Mountain Gold Mine, whose shares were trading on Vancouver’s stock exchange at astronomical prices. The mine was 33 miles east of Hope, high in the mountains and accessible only on foot or by pack train.

So why are  we looking at a picture of a boat?

Because, believe it or not, that boat, really a ferry,  was the only way to reach the town from the CPR’s Haig station. Rufus took that picture.

You mean there was no station in Hope itself?

Not in 1911 there wasn’t, though the Canadian Northern Railway, whose track was being built along the east side of the Fraser Canyon, would build one in 1915. So Rufus and Co. had to take the ferry across the river, then stay the night in Hope at the Coquihalla Hotel.

E 5 Hope 1911, Coquihalla Hotel which burned down 1917

It looks quite a place.

It does – it’s another of Rufus’s pictures – and it was probably on the corner of Water Avenue and Coquihalla Street, close to the ferry. The hotel came to a sad end, burning down in 1917 and killing  some of the guests. It was a fire-trap, of course, made all of wood with no fire-escapes.

But Rufus and friends were luckier in their timing, I take it, and next morning set off for the Steamboat mine?

They did, but probably picked up some items for the trail from the Hudson’s Bay Company store on their way – another of Rufus’s pictures.

E 5 Hope 1911, HBCo store, 35 yrs old_edited

Not a very handsome store, if you ask me.

It was probably quite old, dating back to the days when it was the heart of the company’s Fort Hope.

Was it on their way that morning?

The store was probably on the corner of Water Avenue –  the main drag along the river – and Hudson’s Bay Street, so yes, it was.

Its looks to me as if Hope was not much of a town at the time – there seem to be plenty of empty lots, and none of the streets were paved.

You’re right – but Rufus and Kenneth Meyers, one of his buds, were thinking of moving there to open a newspaper. They had a printing press in Vancouver, all ready to ship!

But they didn’t ship it?

No, fortunately for Rufus, somebody beat them to it – you can see a fellow reading the rival newspaper on the HB Co’s step. Believe it or not, it was called the Hope News and Gold Trail

Why do you say ‘fortunately’?

Because #1, it would have meant being in debt to Meyers who was bankrolling the operation; and #2, the gold boom of the spring of 1911 turned into the bust of summer. The promoters of the mine company were shown to have salted their findings with filings from US gold coins. Whereupon, the local economy went flat and everybody left town.

Wow, was he ever fortunate!

E 5 1911 pack train in Hope

And this is another of Rufus’s pictures, probably taken on Water Avenue looking north. The pack train is heading into the mountains with supplies for the gold miners. They would all be travelling on the same trail. At that time, the newspaper’s name still made sense.

E 5 1911 Rufus`s friends Myers  & Preston iii

Are these Rufus’s fellow Steamboat Mine travellers? They look to be taking a drink from a well, perhaps the closest that Hope came to a public drinking fountain in 1911.

Yes, that’s Ken Myers drinking from the cup and the tall guy holding the bucket up was Preston. You can see Preston again, watching the pack train go by in the previous picture.

E 5 1911 packers on the Steamboat trail

These  were guys they met along the trail – no doubt miners or pack-train drivers. The trail was more or less on the line of today’s Highway 3, between Hope and Manning Park, until it swung south east at the Skagit river.

E 5 1911 pack train near Sumallo Pass on the Steamboat trail

Another picture of a pack-train, obviously higher up.

Yes, they covered 70-80 miles – maybe 120 k – over the weekend. A lot of it was in quite deep snow…

New Image

…and it looks cold. That’s Rufus behind, and in front Dickie, the contractor, fourth member of the party. They’d had to postpone their trip a whole week because a house in Vancouver that Dickie was building had been blown up – with explosives – by striking carpenters!

And we grumble about picket lines! What did Rufus write about their trip?

When they reached the mine, it looked so obviously not what it claimed to be that he wrote a piece more or less accusing the promoters of fraud.

Did the Province print it?

It printed the parts that were not actionable! Rufus was furious, of course, but was proved right  later. The whole thing helped make his early reputation – not long after, he was invited to be editor of the Cowichan Leader in Duncan – not much of a paper, either, but with more prospects than the Hope News and Gold Trail would ever have.

Rufus’s change of mind on the “Oriental Question”

Did you see Gary Mason’s piece in the Globe and Mail this morning.

I did – it was pretty interesting, all about the anti-Chinese and anti-Japanese laws that various BC governments had passed in the early days.

That’s right. According to Adrian Dix (he had the librarians dig the information out of the legislative library), between 1872 and 1928 the legislature passed 89 bills and 49 resolutions intended to prevent any Asians, but especially Chinese and Japanese, from coming to live in BC.

Rufus was in BC a lot of that time – what did he have to say about it?

He was a man of his time. In the years before World War 1 he was as racist as the next white guy. You have to remember that those years were the heyday of the British Empire. Most Brits, and Canadian white people too, would say – “Look at the map –  our empire covers a quarter of the world’s land!  Of course we’re superior to other races of people!” Rufus had been brought up to believe it – but it only really  came out in his journalism when he was editor of the Cowichan Leader in Duncan.

What did he actually write?

Look at this piece he wrote 13 March 1913 in support of  Alderman Smithe’s resolution to the Duncan Board of Trade – Smithe had called on the BC government to prohibit Orientals from holding land in BC. “No white man needs to be convinced,” Rufus wrote, “as to the great undesirability of allowing Orientals to mix freely and on equal terms with ourselves… Whereas the vast majority of Chinese in this country come here without money and remain labourers or domestic servants – in which capacities they are much needed – it is not so with the Japanese. They have greater ambitions. They are gaining a permanent foothold in many parts of the province and we may be sure that it will not be long before they will have their own distinctive colonies formed, and white men will be ousted from many of the richest and most fertile districts of this province.”

I’ll say this for him – he doesn’t beat about the bush. There’s no doubt where his sympathies lie.

That was always his style. Later that year he went even further, calling for Chinese to be brought in as indentured farm labourers at one third the going rate – and to be shipped home again after the indenture period was up – maybe after 5 years!

Wow, that’s pretty extreme. Did he ever change his views?

He did – and we don’t really know why.

Maybe it was the war. Surely that changed a lot of minds and got rid of prejudices.

It’s quite possible. There were four Chinese Labour battalions in France, building railways for the Brits. And there were Japanese volunteers in the Canadian Corps – many  in the 52nd battalion, the battalion that saved the day on the Bellevue Spur at Passchendaele. Rufus watched that happening from the Waterloo pillbox and his friend Col. W.W. Foster, was CO of the 52nd and  one of the heroes of the day.

So you think the war changed his views?

I think the war matured him. After it, he became more tolerant of people different from himself. The first national delegate that he interviewed at the Washington Naval Conference was Philip Tyan, Sun Yat-sen’s ambassador. There’s nothing like actual experience for breaking down prejudice.

Rufus’s 1927 paddle to Hudson’s Hope, down the Parsnip, the Finlay and the Peace.

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

That doesn’t look like Rufus.

No, Rufus took the picture. That was Judge Robertson, one of his two companions, poling his custom-made river boat down the Crooked River north of Prince George. The Crooked River meets the Parsnip, which eventually flows into the Finlay, then the Peace.

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

Here they are ‘lining’ the boat past rapids on the Peace later on.Trapper's cabin

Sometimes they slept in a trapper’s cabin – like this one. The valleys were just wilderness – no roads or railways – and the few cabins were never locked. If there was nobody home, you just went in – but always left something of value when you left. That was the code of the woods.

Those were the days!

Rufus's picture of Hudson's Hope landing on the Peace

Eventually they arrived at the landing at Hudson’s Hope. Rufus’s picture is taken from his book Beyond the Rockies .

What about the other picture – it looks like the same place?

It is. We took it in 2003. But now there are no scows on the river because of the Bennett Dam a few kilometres upstream. The judge, who was on circuit, had travelled to Hudson’s Hope by river, sold the boat there and went by road to Fort Saint John and Dawson Creek – to hold his assize courts.

It sounds like the Middle Ages!

Doesn’t it! But it was BC in 1927! This was Rufus’s picture of Hudson’s Hope

Rufus's picture of Hudson's Hope

And the colour picture is the same place in 2003, taken from nearly the same spot – Rufus took his photo further to the left along the ridge. As you see, not much has changed.

If anything, it looks more deserted.

But you can recognize one building in both pictures. The house nearest to the camera in the centre of Rufus’s picture is near the left side of the colour picture – it’s painted blue. Nowadays it’s called the Gething House and is a B&B. Rufus wrote in his diary: “supped at Mrs Gething’s restaurant.” I’m guessing it’s the same house.

Gething House, Hudson's Hope

Here’s a closer shot – it has the same two dormer windows as that house in Rufus’s picture.

I’ll buy it – but it’s a stretch if you ask me! Do you have any other comparison pictures?

Rufus's picture of junction of the Smoky and Peace rivers

Just this one, taken from 12 Foot Davis’s gravesite above Peace River Town. It shows the junction of the Smoky and the Peace.

It’s amazing how similar the views are – even the sandbars in the river – and the clouds! You must have been there on exactly the same sort of day.

Rufus's picture of Peace River Town

And here is the town of Peace River at an interval of 76 years. We found exactly the right spot for this picture – look at the corner of the street in the foreground of both – and the railroad track just down the slope.

But that’s about it. There’s not much similar about the buildings then and now.

There are plenty of old buildings there, but they’re hidden among the more modern and larger ones. But it was really exciting to find that exact spot. When we took the picture we must have stood on the very same spot. It was a great feeling.

But you travelled in a car and probably slept in hotels.

Snow on the tarp

Hotels Fiddlesticks! Here’s Val treading in the steps of her grandfather Rufus. That day we woke up to snow on the tarp and the tent. It was quite a trip.

In Rufus’s steps to the Hudson Bay Company’s post at Fort Saint James.

Rufus's picture of HB factor at Ft St James; Val 74 years later

Those look like the same buildings – where are they?

At the old HB Co trading post at Fort Saint James. Rufus’s picture shows Mr A.C. Murray, the recently retired HB Co Chief Trader, outside the Factor’s house in 1926 or 1927. Below is Val, Rufus’s grand-daughter, on the same spot 76 or 77 years later.

Was Rufus’s picture in his book Beyond the Rockies?

It was. In 2003 we set out to retrace his journey to the Peace River and visited Fort Saint James on the way.

Rufus's bedroom HBC trading post Ft St James

Here’s the upper room in the Factor’s house where Rufus slept in 1926. The house had once been James Douglas’s, the future first Governor of BC,  during his Hudson’s Bay company apprenticeship, and to which he had brought Nelly Connolly, his bride, in 1824. (So Rufus claims in Beyond the Rockies, p119)

Rufus's picture of dining table in Ft St James's Factor's house

Was this where Rufus dined?

He wrote: “We had supper in the common dining-room below, an old beamed room whose window looks out across the green pasture to the lake [Stuart Lake – through the sunlit window to the left]. At the head sat the trader; next a Swede prospector , who blew in from somewhere on his way south; then Dave Purves, one of the old-time school of prospectors; next to him the clerk from the Hudson’s Bay store; then an apprentice to the company, and a Presbyterian minister named McFarlane, and myself.”

Wow! Add a couple of chairs and you can see them all in your mind’s eye, seated around that table!

Rufus and Talbot Papineau, the future Prime Minister of Canada who was killed at Passchendaele

Talbot Papineau

Who was Talbot Papineau?

Correctly speaking, he was Major Talbot Papineau, MC.

And why do you call him a future Prime MInister of Canada?

Because he was the recognized leader of the young federalists in Quebec and Prime Minister Laurier had him marked out as his own successor.  After Papineau was killed, Rufus wrote: “Poor old Pap – so full of life and what a career in politics he was going to make after the war. Three whole years, nearly, he’d been out here and was the first Canadian to win the MC.”

I thought it was that rascally Mackenzie King who had his eye on Laurier’s job?

He did indeed, but Papineau managed to keep his own political support strong while he was still at the front.

How could he possibly do that?

By publicly tangling with his cousin Henri Bourassa, the leader of the anti-imperialists in Quebec. Papineau wrote a famous open letter to “Mon cher cousin Henri” that was printed in Le Devoir, the Montreal newspaper that Bourassa himself had founded.  The letter put the case for Canada fighting beside Britain in the war – something that Bourassa opposed. It made people see him as a future leader.

Henri Bourassa 1917

Why were these cousins so well-known in Quebec?

Because both were grandsons of the great Louis-Joseph Papineau, a Quebec hero and leader of the doomed Patriotes in the 1837 Rebellion.

Louis-Joseph_Papineau_1878

You can certainly see the resemblance – those are three very determined faces. So, how did Rufus get to know his Major Papineau?

When he was posted to Canadian Corps HQ as a ‘learner’ Staff Captain, Papineau, as Staff Captain “I”, was his mentor. They worked together for about three months – until Rufus was sent to 9th Brigade as Staff Captain “I” and Papineau went back to his regiment, the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. And they had another connection. Papineau’s mother was American – which was why he spoke perfect English. During the war she’d moved to England to be near her son, just as Bee had done to be near Rufus. She lived in Queen’s Gate, London, next-door to Rufus’s Aunt Lily – who was only living there because Rufus’s Uncle Harry, General Lukin, was also at the front.

Just imagine how anxious those poor women must have been. And how terrible it would have been for his mother when her son Talbot was killed. Did Rufus have any stories about him?

Just one. When Papineau went off on a course, Rufus had to do his job.  When he needed to go the 7 kms to Bruay, he borrowed Papineau’s horse. He should have known better — it was a spirited one-man beast, accustomed to being spoken to in French. He
wrote in his war diary, “Papineau’s horse ran away with me to Bruay aerodrome
— I was all in by the time he stopped.”

Talbot Papineau's horse Queen Bee

That’s Papineau, alright – so is that the horse that Rufus borrowed?

Maybe. The picture was taken a year earlier, in 1916. Curiously, the horse was called Queen Bee, not after Rufus’s wife Bee, of course, but after one of Papineau’s girlfriends. She could easily be the one that ran away with Rufus because she looks like a polo pony – famously hard to stop when they get going. I borrowed the picture – and the portrait of Papineau – from Sandra Gwyn’s Tapestry of War. If you want to know the whole story of Talbot Papineau – the Lost Leader as she calls him – that’s the book to read.

Meanwhile, we’ll read about him in Rufus. You can make an advance order for Rufus on the Indigo website – and on Amazon.ca