On subsequent 19ths of February, he hit the Vancouver Sun’s social column, walked to Point Grey, paid $1,900 for a Shaughnessy lot , and saw Beau Geste.
My, that’s quite a list, and I guess we’ll get to them. But what about these baths for soldiers – why was that Rufus’s job?
Because he was Staff Captain ‘Q’ at 2nd Brigade, in charge of all supplies for 5,000 men – from bullets to baths, coal to clean clothes, spades to spuds, if the guys needed ’em, he supplied ’em! Here they are scrubbing up.
So where did the hot water come from?
Well, sometimes the unit built themselves a bath house with a boiler – and the guys took turns in the tubs, refilling when needed. Or they had a mobile unit like the one in the picture.
Well, well, something about trench warfare I didn’t know about. So what about this social column thing – doesn’t sound much like Rufus and Bee to me.
That’s just the point. On 19 Feb 1923 his diary reads: “Very angry that our party on Saturday was in the Sun social columns.”
What had they been up to, I wonder?
Very little as it turns out – a bridge party for a dozen people, amongst whom had been Harwood Steele, Lady Steele and Miss Steele. The problem was that Lady Steele was the widow of a national hero, Sir Sam Steele – here are the Steeles on their wedding day in 1890
Why was he a national hero?
Because he was a tough Mountie who’d been in the thick of every Mountie action from the March West in 1873 to the Klondike goldrush in 1896, where Sam, with a few policemen, famously restored order among 100,000 unruly goldrushers. He went on to further fame in the South African war and World War 1. After all that, he died in January 1919, a victim of influenza!
So, why was Rufus mad about the Sun‘s column?
I suppose because it was done without his knowledge – and it made his own paper, the Province, look slow off the mark. He and Bee knew Lady Steele and her adult children as neighbours. She had a title, but not much money, I’m sure – Sam had been honest.
Okay – now, what about this walk to Point Grey? Why is that a big deal?
Rufus’s diary for 19 February 1922 reads: “Long walk to Pt Grey in pm – home about 3.30.”It was a big deal because he and Bee lived at 1337 Maple Street in Kitsilano, and Point Grey is nine kilometres away – that’s a walk of 18 kilometres, most of it through forest. The Endowment Lands were still used for hunting by the Musqueam band, and the future UBC campus, although planned, was still part of the forest. And another reason it was a big deal is that it’s the first time that Rufus seems concerned about his waistline!
And his lot in Shaughnessy?
His diary read: “Feb 19 1926: Bee and I up to see Third Shaughnessy and decided on 1 of 3 lots – if we can get them.”
And did they get one of them?
They did. The next day the diary reads: “Sent CPR Land Agent cheque for $190 – 1/10th price of lot. After seeing him in a.m.”
So the lot, when they paid for it, cost them $1,900! Where is it?
At Marguerite and 52nd.
And did they build a house on it?
Yes, and a pretty nice one, too, that still looks good. Sadly, they never lived in it and had to sell it in 1928 – when Rufus accepted the job in London, England. This photo was taken by Bee in 1930, when they came back to BC for a holiday.
And Beau Geste?
For his 19 February entry in 1927 Rufus wrote: “To Beau Geste film in p.m. with Bee at the Strand.”
Is that a famous movie?
It was, but silent, of course, very stylised and would seem artificial to modern eyes. It was a melodrama, but I’m sure they enjoyed it. It was certainly better than staring at the rain – this was Vancouver, after all. Here are some posters and stills – Ronald Colman was the star:
I saw it as a little boy and remember being thrilled by that lonely Foreign Legion fort in the Sahara.