Saturday, 30 September 2017

Life in the Magdalen Islands 1911

Life in the Magdalen Islands.
BY W. LACEY AMY.
From The Wide World Magazine 1911, July (presumed), source eBay photo of GB edition.

It is safe to say that very few readers of “The Wide World Magazine” have ever heard of the Magdalen Islands. They belong to Canada, yet not one Canadian in ten has any knowledge of them. Situated in the centre of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, ice-bound in winter and storm-beset at other seasons, they are entirely cut off from the outside world for many months of the year. Mr. Amy gives a very interesting account of the quaint, easy-going islanders, very few of whom have ever left their native shores.

MANY a tourist thinks that he has seen Canada when he has taken the five-day trip from Halifax to Victoria, or the still shorter “transcontinental” from boat to boat—Montreal to Vancouver. A Canadian will laugh at such a claim, and furnish as justification those interest­ing sections never seen on such journeys—the wonderful valleys of the Maritime Provinces, the quaint villages of French Quebec, the newly-discovered wealth of Northern Ontario, the productive plains in the Western Provinces, far from the view of the railways, and the fruit and ranch-lands hidden away between the mountain ranges of British Columbia.
It takes months to cover Canada; it takes years to know it. And even the native Canadian has only just begun to realize the wealth of his country and the out-of-the-way places that make this great dominion a veritable book of revelations.
The great Annapolis Valley and the Metapedia

End of page 1 of 7.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Asquithian Warfare

Asquithian Warfare
Showing Why the Old Government in England Did Not Get Along With War.
By Lacey Amy.
From Saturday Night magazine 20 January, 1917, Toronto, Canada.
Digitized by Doug Frizzle, 25 September, 2017 for Stillwoods.Blogspot.Ca
Apology – This entry has been created from very old microfilm from a very old magazine. Certain areas of the graphic are unclear. I have endeavoured to reason at the missing parts of words. If there are errors, or if the meaning is not clear, it is my fault./drf



AT last the seal is broken. Into Canada’s bewildered but loyal complacency that Britons never will be slaves one may interject a note that, up to a month ago, might have made that last hundred thousand a Utopian dream. The change of Government has opened one’s lips.
I do not believe that with Asquith as Premier, the Allies would have won the war, save by a starvation exacting almost as much from England as from Germany.
I am equally confident that, with Asquith’s Cabinet free from the beginning to follow it’s bent, we would never have won the war. Before it finally lifted him from the Premier’s chair with reverent gentleness, only public opinion had saved Great Britain from the depths of humility. And I give to the late Government full credit for the Empire’s one example of war statesmanship, its complete and wonderful financing of the Allies.
Canada has been fortunate in being spared the spectacle of Asquith’s persistent failure. Add to bereavement and business disasters the sum of the daily evidences that the late Government was utterly unable to grasp the seriousness of the war, and one may have some lot of what England has been passing through. Canada, judging by her Press, has seen only the big failures, the Balkans, Mesopotamia, the Dardanelles, and the rest of the ugly diplomatic round. England has shuddered with the certainty that even in the very foundations of victory the Government has been leaving holes that would sooner or later bring the entire structure down. .
I do not speak rashly in this. I came to England with every prejudice against the Government’s detractors, with every respect for Asquith’s marvellous capacity of a kind. I still retain that respect; but an intelligent Canadian, reared in an atmosphere of action instead of deliberation, knows that war cannot be waged adagio. And in movement of that kind alone lay Asquith’s strength.
I will not even touch on the large follies that have impressed themselves on the world to Britain’s eternal discredit. What Canada will find of most interest now is the side-issues here at the source of England’s might which reveal in an amazing manner the reasons why Lloyd George replaced the late master of circumspection.
Perhaps the most complete exhibition of the late Cabinet’s failure to grasp the awful seriousness of the war was in the recruiting muddle. There is no discredit in having tried voluntary enlistment, but there is in having delayed conscription until Germany had entrenched herself in France. Therein lies, only one of the proofs of the fatal hold of tradition in England. And when conscription was introduced it was built like a sieve. The conscientious objector crawled through the first hole. Labor, grandly as it has responded in parts, found a range of meshes large enough to escape the net. To relieve itself of one more war responsibility the Government left the enforcement of conscription in the hands of local Tribunals.
The farce in this was that each of these Tribunals knew personally every man brought before it for exemption, was dependent upon him for votes or business, was personally interested in many of them, and was always blinded by the spectre of local requirements. They had to pass on their own employees, on their personal friends, on their debtors and creditors, and many of them were made up of members out of sympathy with conscription or out of tune with the requirements of the war. Thus were ex­empted, for example, eligible young unmarried men like these: a professional billiard player, a comedian, a secre­tary of an organization, for fighting conscription, municipal employees in the most unimportant positions, a tie manufacturer, teachers who admitted their opposition to conscription and even their antagonism to England, a street gambler who posed as a fish porter, pugilists by the half dozen, an organist whose fingers might be stiffened by war. an undertaker’s coachman who could drive four horses, one with no other appeal than an unfaltering smile, a man who claimed to be a born coward, hundreds of Jews with extensive businesses which had grown from nothing, a man whose parents’ illiteracy would leave his brothers at the front without their weekly letter, horsemen, an ambulance driver, cabmen, a picture framer, a coach builder, a plumber, a Tribunal member’s chauffeur, and on and on.
THE strong young man with ingenuity defied the military. If all else failed he sought work in a munitions factory, was badged even after he had been denied exemption, and conscription passed him by. Thousands of them were hidden safely away in these factories or in “starred” occupations which they sought in extremity without an hour’s experience. Five thousand young men were finally taken from Woolwich Arsenal alone.
And the Government departments were equally funk-holes. Every one of them had its thousands. It was estimated that in Whitehall and other Government offices at the middle of 1916, two years after the war started, 50,000 men of military age were cuddled. The Cabinet heads stubbornly refused to oust them, although nine-tenths were engaged only in the simplest clerking.
Pullman Company secured exemption from the Adjutant-General because its employees were engaged in “carrying officers back and forth.” Big firms with hundreds of branches had their managers exempted, although individual businesses went to the wall by the thousands because their proprietors were called up. Badges were sent en bloc, by the Government without a moment’s investigation of those who were awarded them. So that porters and simple office clerks were all immune if the products of the firm were even in part considered war necessities. Every Government department had the privilege of granting badges, and it frequently happened that those whom the Tribunals refused to exempt were saved by badges sent by parcel post. The secretary of one of the departments most intimately concerned with the progress of the war badged 35 of his farm employees, also retaining nine fancy gardeners. In France exemptions ran to hundreds of thousands, said Lloyd George in an explosion of disgust, while in England they ran to millions—more than 3,000,000 men of military age.
Had every other source of labor been tapped there would be little to say, although loafing was the main interest of these slackers. But men of 35 to 40, with large families, were turned loose from exempted occupations to make way for the young unmarried men, until finally some of the Tribunals struck, refusing to send another man to the trenches until the scandal was aired. The result was a Man-Power Board that picked out a few here and there as a sop to public demand, but truckled completely to the original ideas that had held sway. For each department was jealous of its authority. Each refused to make the sacrifices it was demanding of the public. Last summer the Government declined to grant any Whitsun holiday—and promptly went off on a six weeks’ holiday of its own.
The matter of substitution was equally ignored except in public. Some weeks ago a critic of mine in Satuiuay Night indignantly wrote: “Does Mr. Lacey Amy actually expect sane and intelligent Canadians to believe that the War Office publishes its appeals in the English papers by way of a joke?” Anyone in England would smile at the indignation. It so happened that, under my direction, a qualified woman was at that moment going the rounds of the Government offices in response to the appeals, to prove their insincerity. I may tell her experiences some time.
While the newspapers were full of formal appeals, until at last they refused to publish them in face of such evident insincerity, thousands of women were offering their services in vain. And with the men it was the same. Substitution was the cry of the Government, and I have personal knowledge of many men of undoubted capacity who found it impossible to secure warwork, voluntary or pay. One, a little over military age, sons all killed in France, doing without effort his twenty miles a day, was refused by the recruiting offices, turned over to a Labor Exchange, and there informed there was nothing for him to do. Another approached twelve departments and was turned down. A citizen of fifty, with an income of $50,000 a year and abundant energy, was referred to a local Labor Exchange, one of those bodies formed to hoodwink the public. A man of sixty, famous for his strength, forty years experience in a large business, persisted until he was finally told that if he could get three others he could go to cutting down trees in Kent, although he had never handled an axe or a saw in his life. A ship’s plater, one of the most expert occupations in the world, discharged from the army for deafness and sunstroke at Mesopotamia, was sent out as a common laborer, although his previous employer pleaded for him. and the industry upon which England’s very life depends was languishing for workmen.

THE strange laxity of the late Government in the matter of interning Germans in residence in England is to some extent known in Canada. Not one German would have been put where he could do no harm had it not been for the public outcry, not one German business closed. Businesses that were announced as closed at the beginning of the war continued openly to operate under Government sanction for more than two years, not one being finally shut down until within the last few months when England almost rose in rebellion. The Home Secretary, Mr. Samuel, was concerned only in the defence of resident Germans. The ugly part of it was that the winding-up proceedings, continuing for more than two years in full operation, netted to the leading Government officials concerned a salary of $26 a day, and to the pettier clerk $24 a week. And some of these accountants were “winding-up” so many businesses that their receipts reached the staggering sum of $4,500 a day. Of course there was no rush about it
An official investigation—it is noticeable that the reports of these investigations are made public only now when the Government which ordered them to be made is out of power—has announced that there are 4,294 enemy aliens in prohibited areas in England with permits from the late Government.
Back of all this is merely delay, not treason: incapacity for appreciating the necessities of war, not deliberate carelessness. The English way of doing things is always irritatingly slow to a Canadian. Perhaps the medium would be happiest. I have in mind a so-called Canadian convalescent home opened in England under an English manager and an English matron. The simplest move required a fortnight’s deliberation—the purchase of a dish bowl, the making of the most obvious rules, the establishment of the simplest routine—and even a kitten’s name had to be taken under consideration for a couple of days. I can safely say that not a half dozen Canadians did not squirm under the deliberateness and procrastination of the late Government.
Officialdom was reeking with it. I am informed by Government contractors engaged on the manufacture of the very necessities of the struggle that they were unable to reach the ear of any responsible heads of the depart meats save through a series of underlings who were utterly incapable of grasping the points at issue. The pettiest Government official is unapproachable. A large shell order is delayed a week because some sudden hitch has to be straightened out through a long line of clerks and stenographers. “No gentleman could swallow his lunch in an hour,” is the snobbery and tradition that has been muddling the war. And eleven o’clock continued to be the opening hour for offices while the nation cried for haste—just as the large stores of London are still unprepared for business at ten in the morning.
The Government’s attacks on waste and extravagance were farcical in the extreme. Scarcely a thing was done save to plaster the city with huge signs: “It is bad form to dress extravagantly,” “Save gas, electric light, coal and petrol.” “Do not be extravagant at Christmas time.” The simplicity of a Government that would depend upon such measures is its own judgment.

THE Cabinet held up its hands in helplessness at the strife between the Admiralty and the Army. In the respective air services there was fierce competition in the open market for supplies, and the officers would not speak to each other. Long after the Admiralty had a waiting list for its ranks it refused to close its recruiting offices to young men who slunk away to them to escape the army, knowing that they would not be called upon for many months, if at all.
The entire muddle of the air service was unbroken until a few extremists, by making hysterical charges, roused the people. Zeppelins came and went with immunity, both here and at their aerodromes. A Board of Enquiry, presided over by the head of the service, spent its time browbeating the critics, so that only two or three of the more daring volunteered to give evidence. Another Board has now brought in a report that exposes some of the extreme criticisms while hitting the Government hard. At one time twenty-seven aeroplanes were consumed in the effort to get twelve over to France, and no enquiry was held. The very newest of England’s types of aeroplane was sent straight from England to a German aerodrome because it was entrusted, by telephoned orders from the War Office, to the care of a pilot and an observer who had never before flown to France. And wherein is the change? It is a strange coincidence that almost on the day my article, “Canada in English Eyes.” should have appeared in Saturday Night, the new Premier was announcing in the House in his first speech the co-operation of the Dominions in the councils of war. The Food Controller, whose appointment had been dallied with for weeks by the late Government, was named the transportation of supplies, deliberated upon for months by Asquith, was placed immediately in the hands of a competent shipping man. Labor whose every demand had been granted almost without quibble by the late Government, was firmly informed by the new Labor Minister, a Labor leader himself, that not a moment’s consideration would be given the demands of the striking boilermakers until they had resumed work; and they immediately took up their tools. Billboard appeal for economy became Government measures. Badges were withdrawn from semi-skilled and unskilled workers. The air services of both branches of war were amalgamated under one head.

And England is responding grandly, without a murmur, with a deep respect for the man who does things in wartime rather than deliberate how to present them in beautiful phrasing.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Playing with Food Prices

The Popular English Pastime: Playing with Food Prices
By Lacey Amy
From Saturday Night magazine, Toronto, Canada, 25 November 1916.
Digitized by Doug Frizzle, 25 September, 2017 for Stillwoods.Blogspot.Ca
Apology – This entry has been created from very old microfilm from a very old magazine. Certain areas of the graphic are unclear. I have endeavoured to reason at the missing parts of words. If there are errors, or if the meaning is not clear, it is my fault./drf


Scene I.
ONE chilly, but bright October afternoon on the Embankment below Charing Cross, I came on a curious crowd. It was in three parts, distinct in formation but connected in idea. On the pavement on the river side was a casual throng of idlers searching for entertainment on a holiday afternoon. Half a hundred yards distant, browsing in that air of detachment peculiar to their kind, was a squad of policemen, sixty or seventy strong.
The third portion, the centre of interest, was a medley of humanity splashed along the north side of the street, a mob, a clutter of Eastenders, made up of a dozen women, most of them with babies in their arms or in “prams” before them; half a dozen men who looked a bit sheepish but dogged, and a half hundred boys. I could imagine every street gamin within sight waving on his companions at the promise of a procession with a banner for everyone.
Without the banners it might have been only the incipience of a street riot, or a cinema queue. With the banners it became a tremendous Uplift Gathering, the Great English Public Speaking to its Legislators.
Everyone had a banner—most of the lads two—and a taxi load was left over after all hands were filled. “Down with the Milk Trust.” howled the placard of a seven year-old trust-buster. “My Father is in the Trenches. Give his Babies Milk,” pleaded a girl in Saturday-afternoon silk stockings and a keen eye for eligible young men. “Must Our Babies Starve?” demanded an aggressive female who, if she were not a spinster, was breaking all the laws of Nature. And red-nosed female hawkers bawled out “The Women’s Dreadnought.” Sylvia “Painkhoorst’s” mouthpiece.
It was very amusing. . . I went home and had milk as usual in my coffee.

Scene II.
TWO nights later. My coffee steamed before me and I reached mechanically for the sugar. It was not there. I rang, and my landlady entered apologetically. All afternoon she had gone from store to store begging a half pound of sugar. At ten groceries she had failed. My pet aversion, unsweetened coffee, faced me.
Ahem! It was coming too near home to be amusing. However, by Monday the Government would probably have released another supply.

Scene III.
WITH the evening paper propped against the cruet (there are still cruets in England) I was trying to while away my solitary meal without cursing the inconveniences of war. My landlady had just set before me a disturbingly small helping of mutton chop. Gradually it broke in through the Dobrudja muddle and the menace of temporary insufficiency that she had not left the room. I looked up, smiling invitation.
“I’m sorry, sir. but I believe I’ll ‘ave to ask a little mo’ for the meals.” She was stammering, twiddling with the other end of the tablecloth. “You see things have gone up so—twenty-five per cent since you came. (I wish the Government would stop issuing figures for the common people.) That bit of meat cost one and five to-day, an’ the herrin’ was fo’pence. An’ butter’s two shillings, an’ bread—”
Didn’t I know it? Hadn’t I been collecting prices for this article, with the result that I knew nothing short of stealing her supplies would enable her to feed me so well at such a price? Now I’m paying five shillings a week more—and the end has scarcely begun to begin.
No longer is it merely amusing, no longer merely temporarily inconvenient. The H. C. of L. (high cost of living) has become more than a literary treatise.

THE paraders were justified. Milk is now twelve cents a quart and gathering wind for another flight Also it is neither rich, nor good measure, not pasteurized, nor even clean. Newspapers and street agitation have effected nothing, despite the profits declared by some rural dairies on eight cent milk. Big companies have bought up the small, and forced those reluctant to sell by offering unasked to the farmer a price beyond what the farmer ever dreamed of.
The joke—in which the public does not share—is that the farmer learned quickly. His winter contracts now call for nine cents a quart, which means that twelve cents is waiting only until a new price list can be printed.
Sugar is not a sweet subject to contemplate. It will be recalled that the Government took over stocks and importations at the commencement of the war. The only visible results are that sugar is now doled out in homeopathic doses by an independent grocer, who sees in it the opportunity of securing new customers. It is still only twelve cents a pound—if you can get it.
In his most liberal moments, no grocer permits more than two pounds to leave his store with one order, and always other goods must be purchased. Usually the supply is a half pound at a time, and for that fifty cents to a dollar must be spent. Some co-operative societies have issued sugar tickets, a hole punched at each purchase.
And there are weeks when entire villages are sugarless. This summer no jam was put down in private houses, and all kinds of recipes are abroad for putting down fruit without sugar. I have tasted some of them and am living on other “sweets.”
Before the war sugar was four cents a pound. Beef has gone from twenty-one to thirty-four cents, butter from twenty-eight to fifty and more (most families arc content with margarine, a tasteless and perishable, but satisfactory, substitute at sixteen to twenty-four cents a pound), cheese from sixteen to twenty-eight; eggs from three cents to whatever you look able to pay, up to ten cents; and tea from forty to fifty-six cents for the cheap varieties. Bread is twenty-one cents a four-pound loaf, and at that is cheaper than in Toronto, I understand. Before the war it was eight cents. And it has but begun its climb. I see that on Saturday wheat rose eight per cent., making forty-five per cent. in four months. It is now higher than in the past hundred years. Potatoes are four cents a pound and six cents is promised.
Fish, a hand-to-mouth article of food in this insular country, fluctuates from day to day. On Saturday soles were seventy-eight cents a pound wholesale, and cod (with head and insides) twenty-seven cents. A dinner for three shillings or less takes no account of any fish but herring and haddock, with now and then a taste of hake or whiting. Many fish stores have closed owing to the uncertainty of supply.
Fruit and confectionery are luxuries of which to dream. In a store window the other day peaches were sixty cents apiece, nectarines thirty-six cents, small melons sixty cents, grapes a dollar-and-a-half a pound, pineapples eighty-four cents, pears thirty-six cents. Fruit of this kind is usually English, than which there is none better grown. For some time oranges were not on the market, owing to Government shipping regulations, but latterly these restrictions have been removed and fair oranges are five cents each. I have yet to see, even at seven or eight cents each, an apple that would be tempting to a Canadian at home.
English confectionery never did compete with the kind sold in a hundred shops in Toronto, either in price or quality. After a study of windows I cannot find the cheapest stuff under twenty-eight cents a pound—not equal to the fifteen cent varieties in Toronto—and bonbons are not eatable under a dollar a pound. The kind obtainable at fifty cents so readily in Toronto when I left is not to be had here at any price, but a fair imitation costs a dollar-and-a-half.
Coal (soft, mind you) is nine dollars a ton, and is held there only by the Government regulation of prices at the mine; the retailer asks what he pleases. Matches, once four cents a dozen boxes, are now eighteen cents. Tomatoes have never been below twelve cents this summer; and at that they do not take the place of the Canadian kind since they will not ripen in the open save in the extreme south. I have dared to mention here tomatoes ripening outside up at Fort Vermilion and in the Yukon, but comment like that slides off the contented Englishman.
I have begun to prepare for winter—and that to a Canadian brings visions of central heating. An ordinary coal-oil heater costs six dollars, and a small electric heater which I am sure I could purchase in Toronto at eight dollars was going to cost me thirty-eight dollars. For anything that savors of modernity it would pay one to visit America on a shopping expedition. It is lese majeste to introduce into England a new system of heating.
Restaurant meals that used to cost a dollar-and-a-half have been lowered in calibre and raised in price to a dollar-eighty-five cents; and I see that even the “dosser” (real English for “tramp”) is asked to pay sixteen cents instead of twelve for bed and breakfast at Lord Rowton’s lodging houses. So where is one to lay his head?
If you own a car—you probably don’t unless you are a military official, the Red Cross having requisitioned it or forced you to sell it in self defence—your gasoline asks for sixty-eight cents a gallon, with an additional twelve cents to the Government for letting you buy any.
Sixty-eight per cent. is the Government estimate of the increase in the cost of living since the war began.
Only threatened strikes on railways and in mines forced the Government finally to recognize conditions. But the realization of the necessity for action is but the first of a dozen steps before action is taken. Some of the Government’s best friends (and remember that the Government is coalition) are firm in the belief that a report will be made and stem measures taken—if the war lasts long enough.
Up to the present the only effect on prices is to boost them, except where a threatened investigation into the hoarded tea frightened the shippers into reducing prices. A Cabinet Minister two weeks ago stilled an incipient rebellion by stating that sugar was cheaper here than in America—in spite of the fact that sugar at that time was quoted at eight cents in New York and Toronto. One of the Government Departments went so far as to wave a reproving hand at the farmers. “Oh, fie’” it gently upbraided. “Now you really shouldn’t charge more than eight cents a quart for milk, you know. We may—um—we may have to consider doing something in the matter if you keep on “ A Wheat Commission merely bemoans the high price and is contradicted in its findings by everyone concerned. A Food Prices Commission could do little more than advise a meatless day a week. And the House towered to grand heights of patriotism in demanding of the munition workers—who are at it in the Woolwich Arsenal twelve hours a day—that they eschew holidays. After which it hastily packed its bag for a six weeks’ holiday of its own.
As this is being written the South Wales Miners’ Federation threaten to organize a great strike unless the Government takes full control of the food supplies; and the Scottish Mine Workers also make similar threats. Profiteering has passed all endurance in this country, but the trouble is that wealthy M. Ps. and members of the Lords are interested financially in almost every industry, and of course block action.
Hands Across the Sea! If we could only reach that ideal now there’d be one hand going empty and returning fulL Personally mine would return with Canadian bonbons, Canadian apples—and a whiff of Canadian sunlit air.
The people who are suffering most in England now, and who will continue to do so after the war, are those who live upon unearned incomes. A man with an income of $50,000 a year from his estates or stocks in England is receiving only $25,000 a year, as 40 per cent, goes to the Government and the other 10 per cent, is taken up by the increased cost of living.
The price of food, according to the Duke of Marlborough. who keeps up a big household, has increased 100 per cent, since the war began. A correspondent for a New York paper finds that eggs are ten cents apiece in London.
Barrie. 14th November. 1916.
Editor. “Saturday Night ‘.
DEAR SIR,—I have read with amazement and considerable indignation an article entitled “The Canadian Incubus.” by Lacey Amy, in your issue of November 11th—amazement at some of the statements made in the article, and indignation at its unfair and ungenerous tone toward Canadian women in England. Will Mr. Amy give the name of the “great London paper” which stated that “hundreds of thousands of Canadian women have followed their husbands to England,” and also the date of the issue in which this statement appeared? And will he also give the address of any boarding house “in and around London.” where fifteen dollars a week is asked for “board and one semi-furnished room”? I should inspect such a boarding house, when I return to England and also to see the people who are foolish enough to pay such a price for such accommodation—although one would think that an Asylum for the Feeble Minded would be a more appropriate place of residence for them than a boarding house. I enclose the address of a house in the Bloomsbury district of London (well known to many Canadians for years past) where a comfortably furnished room with excellent board may be obtained for twenty-eight shillings per week. These are the rates which were asked and paid last August. I also enclose the address of an excellent boarding house in Bayswater, where the terms are thirty to thirty-two shillings a week. And there are many others “in and around London” equally good, and at equally reasonable rates.
As to the “sad Canadian housewife” who paid nine cents apiece for eggs, her place is certainly with the inmates of the fifteen dollars a week, semi-furnished boarding house. The “Weekly Times” of October 27th quotes the price of eggs in London as three shillings and sixpence a dozen, and yet the “sad Canadian housewife” was “forced” to pay at the rate of four and six a dozen at least a month earlier!
In a paragraph concerning work in England for Canadian women, the following astonishing statement appears: “Frankly, don’t believe the appeals which fill the English papers. As the editor of a London paper said to me: ‘That is only one of the War Office frolics’.” Does Mr. Lacey Amy actually expect sane and intelligent Canadians to believe that the War Office publishes appeals in the English papers by way of a joke? They are much more likely to think that it is the editor of the London paper who is indulging in a “frolic”—at the expense of the credulous Mr. Lacey Amy.
One impression given by this article is that London is overcrowded with Canadians. The plain fact is, that even “at such a camp centre as Folkestone.” where Canadians are far more numerous in proportion to the general population than in London, the “little Dominion” which they form consists of (leaving out the troops) a floating population of from five to six hundred scattered through Folkestone and the adjoining towns and villages of Bandgate, Hythe, Sandling, Cheriton, etc., where the general population amounts to at least forty thousand. It is evident that the presence of the Canadians cannot affect conditions very seriously, and the fact that accommodation can be obtained without the least trouble in Folkestone and its neighborhood shows that there is no overcrowding. As to London, the Canadians there are leas than the proverbial “drop in the bucket.”
Some Canadian papers have taken up the cry that Canadians (and especially Canadian women) are not wanted in England. During a stay of twenty months in England, ending last August, the writer neither heard nor read any word or hint of such a thing either from English people or in English papers One read with astonishment the articles which appeared in Canadian papers on this subject, and one felt that Canadians were being made rather ridiculous by this outcry over a matter of which English people were apparently unconscious, and on which English papers, so far as one could judge, were making no comment whatever. Mr. Lacey Amy says “The newspapers on both sides of the water have endeavored to interrupt the stream.” I would again ask for the name of any responsible English paper and the date of the issue in which such an endeavor was made, as it would be both interesting and instructive to read it.
While prices have gone up very much in England, they have also risen rapidly in Canada, and one finds on returning, that the cost of living is quite as high here as in England. While loaf sugar (but no other kind) was sometimes difficult to get, and eggs and butter were very dear (especially eggs), no scarcity of food was felt, and some foods (bacon, for instance) were cheaper than in Canada.
Mr. Lacey Amy’s estimate of Canadian women in England, and the work they are doing, is so obviously unfair and prejudiced that it should not carry weight with any fair-minded reader of “Saturday Night.” It can only arouse indignation in those who know of the quiet useful work which Is being done in hospitals, soldiers’ clubs and canteens and also for the Red Cross and Field Comforts, by numbers of Canadian women in England—women whose hearts are torn with anxiety, and who find their greatest comfort in doing what they can to help In every work for the comfort and well-being of the soldiers. If any impartial and fair-minded Canadian writer would take up the question of the work which is being done by Canadian women in England—investigating thoroughly and carefully, and reporting honestly and fairly—the story he could tell would be one to make Canadians proud of their women He could write of the Canadian Women’s Club of Folkestone, for instance—of their work on behalf of the tubercular patients at Moore Barracks Hospital; of the Connaught Club for soldiers, where all the cooking of good home-made Canadian dishes—sometimes for as many as a hundred soldiers in one day—is done by the women of the Canadian Club; of the comfortable rest and recreation room which they have furnished, and the free canteen which they are operating for the benefit of the soldiers passing through the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre at Folkestone—men just out of hospital who are in need of rest and comfort; of their devoted work in the many hospitals of the Shorncliffe area, and of their many activities for the benefit of the soldiers, of which time fails me to tell. He could speak of the valuable work done by Lady Drummond and her devoted hand of helpers in the Information Department of the Canadian Red Cross Society—of the help they give to anxious and bereaved Canadians gathering information for them, and of the unfailing kindness and sympathy with which (hat help Is given, to which the present writer desires to bear grateful personal testimony.
Mr. Lacey Amy has no word of praise or appreciation for any of these things. He is like a man walking by a mountain road, who has no eyes for the heights around him, but sees only the muddy spots on the path. He would judge all Canadian women by the actions of a few idle and foolish ones. He would also have us believe that Canadian soldiers are churlish and ungrateful, but the experience of the “average hospital visitor” has been that they are invariably courteous and friendly, and grateful for any little kindness, as well as brave and cheerful and patient in suffering.
If Mr. Lacey Amy’s article was written as the result of his personal experience, one can only conclude that he has been equally unfortunate in his choice of a boarding-house, in the soldiers he has met, and in the type of Canadian woman he has encountered, even “when tea-ing(!) at the home of one of England’s illustrious titled men!”
Yours truly.
MARY GRASETT.

Editor’s Note:—Mr. Amy, being in England, the Editor will endeavor to answer a number of Mrs. Grasett’s questions. First of all the “great London newspaper” spoken of is the “Daily News,” the date of which I am unable to give, though the clipping was in my hands in October and was referred to in the Front Page of this journal in the issue of October 14. I pass the subject of boarding houses as I have had no personal knowledge, but as Mr. Amy has been in England some two years or more he probably spoke by the book. As for the price of food products, eggs were quoted this week in London at ten cents each. This fact may be substantiated from press reports published in the New York “Times.” and New York “Post.” However, Mr. Walter Runciman’s speech in Parliament last week, in which he notified the public that there would be no more flour made from the pure grain; that more stringent measures would have to be taken in respect to the consumption of sugar; that the State control of potatoes was imminent, and finally that the Government might be compelled to put food tickets into force, is, I think, sufficient answer as to what position England is in with regard to food supplies. As to the reference to “one of the War Office’s frolics.” this Editor does not know the source of this remark (it came from one of the largest and most influential London dailies), but without Mr. Amy’s approval could scarcely make it public. As for Mr. Amy’s general information on matters in England, would state that he is a trained and experienced journalist with London newspaper connections.

Readers of the “Women’s Section” of Saturday Night are well aware that this journal has always attempted to do justice to the war work of Canadian women in England, not only through the page written by Miss Mary Macleod Moore, our special correspondent in London, but also by means of many minor reports of such endeavor. Mr. Amy does not doubt the extent and excellence of Canadian women’s work in England—he mere emphasizes what overseas authorities have already complained of—the presence in England of too many inadequately employed Canadian women.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Lacey Amy in Saturday Night

W. Lacey Amy articles in SATURDAY NIGHT magazine

“Segregating the Canadians.” October 28, 1916, p.21.
“The Canadian Incubus.” November 11, 1916, p. 21.
“The Popular English Pastime: playing with food prices.” November 25, 1916, p. 25.
“The London Theatre.” December 9, 1918, p. 25.
“Crisis ad Infinitum.” January 6, 1917, p. 2.
“Asquithian Warfare: showing why the Old Government in England did not get along with the war.” January 20, 1917, p. 2.
“Doctoring - Men and Things: concerning the whys and wherefores of the report that condemned Col. Bruce’s report, and incidentally ‘whitewashed’ the Medical Administration in England.” February 3, 1917, p. 2.
“The Georgian Way: how the Little Welsh Premier has organized his Little Government for work.” March 10, 1917, p. 2.
“Looking for the Facts in the Face: how British people are meeting submarine piracy.” April 21, 1917, p. 2.
“How John Bull Is Tightening His Belt.” May 19, 1917, p. 2.
“Snags the British Government Strikes.” June 16, 1917, p. 2.
“How Food Control in Britain Fell Down: the reasons why Lord Davenport’s administration failed utterly - a lesson for Canada as to how not to do it.” July 14, 1917, p 2.
“Trying to Foil Air Raiders.” September 1, 1917, p. 2.
“The Conscientious Objectors: Great Britain has hundreds in jail, but thousands still at large.” September 15, 1917. p. 2

From
The Life and Opinions of William Lacey Amy
a Forgotten Canadian Writer
by
Claudio Murri 1985.


Other articles may exist. Perhaps there is an index to Saturday Night magazine?

Monday, 25 September 2017

The Canadian Incubus

The Canadian Incubus
By Lacey Amy
From Saturday Night magazine, Toronto, Canada, 11 November 1916.
Digitized by Doug Frizzle, 23 September, 2017 for Stillwoods.Blogspot.Ca
Apology – This entry has been created from very old microfilm from a very old magazine. Certain areas of the graphic are unclear. I have endeavoured to reason at the missing parts of words. If there are errors, or if the meaning is not clear, it is my fault./drf


WE were tea-ing at the home of one of England’s illustrious titled men, five Canadians and an equal number of English people, who are making themselves especially agreeable to Canadian soldiers and workers. Among the Canadians was a woman whose name will probably be emblazoned in the Canadian annals after the war as one of the self-sacrificing, expatriated office staff of a certain Canadian organization in London.
Into the conversation entered the name of a Canadian woman well known in London through her husband, a friend of our English host. Instantly I noted the head of my compatriot worker rise, and into her eyes came the hard light of the woman-in-the-same-set. For a minute or two she listened to a desultory account of the other’s last visit to London and of a certain war work in which she is interesting herself back in Canada.
“Pooh!” she snorted at last. “I’d rather hold up a lamp-post in Piccadilly than be lady mayoress of—” (naming the home city of the one being discussed).
I believed her. It was neither the kind of remark nor the tone to accept to any extent other than its limit. The impression that entered my mind—and I am sure it came to our hosts much the same, for they were obviously ill at ease—was of a woman whose presence in London was not at all on account of the work in which she happened to be concerned, but whose work was a mere excuse for her presence in London. Either that or she was willing to sneer at her native land to suit her perverted idea of what would please her English friends.
A few days later I entered the building in which are situated the offices of the organization through which she will undoubtedly claim social distinction upon her return to Canada after the war. A complete storey distant from the offices a blast of noisy chatter in female voices convinced me that it was no place for a man seeking information. I went elsewhere.
There are in London to-day—all over south-eastern England in fact—three kinds of Canadian women: those who come as part of the household of a resident Canadian whose work is in England, those who were sent from Canada for the distinct purpose of carrying on necessary work for the Canadian soldiers, and those who wish to give the appearance of the second class. There are no acknowledged idlers. Oh, dear, no.
The onlooker might rearrange the classes into those who have an excuse for being here and those who are a nuisance. I am inclined to think he would include in the better the entire third class and those who, like the Canadian woman instanced, are at work only to be near the centre of the excitement, “in the swim,” without giving critics a chance to associate them with their idle sisters.
What is the number of Canadian women in and around London I could only guess, and others might guess differently. What Londoners guess is what counts for Canada’s fair name. I have before me a statement of a great London paper that “hundreds of thousands of Canadian women have followed their husbands to England.” Of course, that is worthy of Hearst since there are less than two hundred thousand soldiers and a few hundred doctors and other officials here. The value of the estimate is in its bulk in the London mind, the implied criticism of Canadian common sense and patriotism.
One cannot censure such an estimate. The Canadian woman is almost as conspicuous here as her other half, not in numbers, but in her ubiquity and in her evident away-from-home-and-hurrah look when she is not wholeheartedly at work. Canadian women are everywhere about London—in the restaurants, on the streets, in the theatres. The Savoy, the Cecil, the Carlton, the Piccadilly, the Regent Palace and the Strand Palace are favorite meeting grounds for the inevitable afternoon tea, to which the Canadian in London has taken like a boy to the jam cupboard. A certain section of the city, Russell Square, that used to be called the American section, is now turned over in name to the boarding Canadians. And, of course, at such a camp centre as Folkestone, Canadian women—were they not often too anxious, in this country, to eschew that to which they have been prepared for that which seems a la mode—could form a little Dominion of their own.
The newspapers of both sides of the water have endeavored to interrupt the stream—handicapped in their efforts now and then by some “sob-squad” artist, with the widowed-mother and weeping-wife story that dampens handkerchiefs, pictures me a double-dyed villain compared with whom Pharaoh was chicken-hearted, and entirely ignores the question that really counts. No one has a deeper sympathy than I for the woman left at home to mourn; nobody could be more eager for the Canadian in whose lots in England than the English people, if conditions permitted even a doubt. But it is as impossible to justify the presence in England of the useless Canadian woman—the one who neither works nor brightens the home of a resident husband—as it is to support the plea that is actually being made by her English counterpart. That the wives of the soldiers at the front should be allowed to visit their husbands at their pleasure. It is as difficult to supply England with the necessary food and sustenance as it is France, and yet I venture to doubt that any Canadian woman will support such a ridiculous proposition.
The root of the trouble has two bunches. One class, which places itself entirely beyond the pale, consists of those who see in England at this time the height of their marital dreams. The other has a vague idea that in England they will be able to spend the week ends with their husbands or sons. That is a folly which even the ordinary brain should appreciate. I do know of Canadian women coming to England to see their husbands and having to hasten back to Canada to do it. Rightly enough, the War Office cannot clutter up its usefulness by considering anything but the prosecution of the war and the quickest relief of the soldiers. By a special arrangement they have made it possible now for the wife to return to Canada with the husband—if there is room, and if she is willing to put up with the accommodation.
The wife who imagines that she will be in touch in England with her soldier-husband is going to have a rude awakening. I have beside me the letter of a Canadian woman in which she complains that, although she arrived in England in early June, she has not yet seen her husband. And there are hundreds like her. There is no such thing as leave since the Somme offensive began, nor is there likely to be much of it for the rest of the war. England has discovered that leave is a much more recuperative measure for the harassed enemy than for the driving Allies. Two years of dragging warfare has altered methods of actively prosecuting the war, one of the discoveries being that it is more disastrous to coddle soldiers than to press them. Brutal as that statement may be, there is no reason why it should be left to the post-bellum annals. The battalions with the best records are those whose commanding officers adopted measures that might appeal to the Prevention of Cruelty societies as inhumane. It is a question of driving to victory or lounging to a draw; and the wives, I fear, have nothing whatever to do with it.
The “sob-squad” argument I once read from a reputable Toronto paper on behalf of the visiting Canadian woman, that her husband’s reason was despaired of unless she took up her abode in England to comfort him during his short leaves, was merely a dramatic staging of proof that the man should be discharged rather than that the woman should be brought to England. Soldiers of that kind—and there may be some so weak mentally—are better at home.
The Canadian woman who has faith that her ability, her willingness “to do anything,” or England’s gratitude to Canada and her need of woman workers, will find a place for her had better disillusion herself in Canada among friends than in England among strangers. Ability counts little, willingness less. I could mention a certain Canadian home, started in England with great splash and publicity, “a Canadian home for Canadian soldiers,” uncontrolled by the War Office, where ability is the last thing desired. Philanthropy is merely another name for advertisement sometimes.
There is no work in England for Canadian women. There is no assurance, even if work is obtained, that it will be permanent. England does not want women workers, however badly she might need them. I may have more to say on this another time. Frankly, don’t believe the appeals which fill the English papers. As the editor of a London paper said to me; “that is only one of the War Office frolics.” I could give the disillusionizing experiences of some Canadian women with a sincere desire to do war work.
I pick up a single issue of “The Times” and find in its Personal Column these appeals, each costing the advertiser about two dollars and a half:
“Two ladies would give services in munition-workers’ canteen or hostel. Resident. Can pay board if necessary.”
“Lady would do volunteer work or charitable work of any kind, and pay her own expenses. St. John certificates. Average capabilities.”
“Volunteer war work—Two ladies would give three days weekly to canteen or other war work, paying own expenses. Not London.”
And yet every day the papers are burdened with a cry for canteen workers. In desperation many Canadian women have become what is called hospital visitors. I can assure Canadian readers that the average hospital visitor in England has undertaken a thankless task. One reason is that it is recognized as a mere filler-in of time for women who feel bound to justify themselves. The second reason is that ninety per cent. of the Canadian boys would as soon take a dose of calomel as face the average hospital visitor. I am prepared to hear clamorous protests at this. I can only say that the intimacy of my connection with the boys places me in a position to know. I have the word of hundreds of them, given in moments of frankness. Also I have seen scores of them deliberately turn their backs and feign sleep when the hospital visitor looms in sight. It is a delicate question which I am more willing to put in print, I will admit than in words to the visitors themselves.
There are other unpleasant surprises for the Canadian woman who comes here with the idea that everything will be rosy for her. Right from the start she has a narrow path to walk to evade a reputation many of her sisters. I regret to say, have justly earned. Every day I am forced to agree that Satan is still the fond old entertainer of the idle.
But she is going to find, too, that her preconceived ideas of the cost of living in England need revision. I gather from what is even more convincing than the Government statement that the cost of living has advanced sixty-eight per cent. since the war began, that the Englishman is bewildered with the climb of prices. Even if the Canadian woman is able to overcome her scruples in other directions, she should come prepared to pay at least fifteen dollars a week for board and one semi-furnished room in and around London; and at that it is of a class she would scorn in Canada. Those who have visited England in the good old days when the best beef was twenty cents a pound, eggs thirty-five cents a dozen, and bread eleven cents a loaf—when sugar was not a luxury to be prayed for at night with the other blessings of Providence—should have heard a sad Canadian housewife here telling me of being forced to pay nine cents apiece for fresh eggs a month ago. We avoid eggs for breakfast. The details of English living are worth a special article later.
The presence of idle Canadian women in England cannot, I think be laid to sentiment. In forcing themselves on a country which finds it more difficult than most people know to secure its supplies they are replacing the higher sentiment by the lower. The scores of Canadian girls who sally forth to England to marry, or who marry soldiers just before departure from Canada and thereby think to justify their presence here, I would hand over to a more biting pen than mine. When the newspapers and Governments of both sides of the water have failed to stem the flood is there nothing else can be done? There is sign of a budding sense of proportions in Canada but the season for buds is backward. Can’t we force them?

The Eternal Snob.
THERE are certain inherent tendencies of human nature that nothing will ever change. However much the forms may vary, the essence of them remains the same. They are as immutable as the leopard’s spots or the Ethiop’s skin. You may denounce them, jeer at them, or, if you happen to be a sentimentalist, weep over them, but so long as the earth is populated by men and women nothing you can do or say will have the very slightest effect. There is no cure for love-making, unreasoning self-sacrifice, or snobbishness, says Efemera, in “The Bystander.”
The snob like the poor, is always with us. Every age is afflicted with the particular brand of snob it deserves. Snobbishness, in itself, is no great evil, though some of the forms it takes may be both repellent and ridiculous. In some classes it consists in having a parlor, an entirely useless apartment generally, furnished in red plush, set apart for the purpose of showing that the happy owners are socially equal to, if not a cut above, their neighbors. Late dinner, in certain households, is another manifestation of the same ambition, and we all know the type of lower middle-class young lady who for snobbish reasons would rather do anything than demean herself with housework—because housework is not reckoned genteel by the social luminaries of her set.
In the hallowed days of the Book of Snobs this was the distinctive mark of snobbishness, but times change, and a number of new variations have sprung up. The war and the system of voluntary recruiting brought in patriotic snobbishness which forbade any self-respecting girl to show herself in public with a man not garbed in khaki or navy-blue. A healthy manifestation, with which I, for one, have no quarrel, though in the case of men rejected by the military authorities some undeserved hardship was unavoidable. There is no reason why every nice girl should not love to be seen with a sailor, or a soldier. Who wouldn’t?
Another laudable form of the snobbish instinct is the desire to be thought to be connected with some kind of war work—that is, when it leads to some useful occupation. I hold no brief for the “war-work” which consists solely in selling flags in smart hotels and fashionable West End thoroughfares, or in getting up and taking part in entertainments from which no one in their senses, whole or wounded, military or civilian, could derive either profit or diversion, or which, on the plea of amusing our heroes home from the Front, beguiles them into expenses that many of them can ill afford.
After all, the wish to rise in the social world, or, at least, to appear to have risen, is a very natural one. Very few people whose position is not so assured as to defy criticism are entirely free from it. Through all time every class has sought to ape the customs and manner of living of the class just above it. Not a bad thing, for the whole standard has gradually been raised. This is particularly true in democratic, or, rather, plutocratic, countries, where everyone may hope to rise. Again, very few persons object to being envied, and an easy way to achieve envy is to shine in the reflected glory of smarter or wealthier friends.
That sort of snobbery is an insult to the real worker; and it is own sister to the particular brand evolved by the period in which we live—the kind of snobbishness that obtained before the war and has continued in full swing ever since. The old-fashioned snob wished to associate with his or her social superiors, or at least to appear to be in some way connected with them in some semblance of equality. The snobbish woman fawned upon ladies of title and position, and in imitation of their patronage of art and artists took to unearthing lions of her own, where-with to amaze her friends and neighbors, not to mention raising envy in their gentle breasts. Anything that could roar gently and wear some semblance to a lion’s skin was good enough. The poor Christian who had no lion to boast of was indeed to be pitied.

In the end the whole thing became a frantic race for notoriety. The snobbish woman who could not manage, upon some pretext or other, to get her name and photograph into the illustrated papers might as well be dead. However cheap the advertisement, it must be obtained at all costs. Anything has grown to be good enough, any means legitimate. As persons of established position and real lions are either scarce or not sufficiently available, Madame and Mademoiselle Snob have recourse to the merely notorious. All that is wanted is some excuse to appear in the limelight, how, when, where, and in what company does not much matter. Dignity, social or personal, counts for nothing—how should it? When Madame or Mademoiselle Snob arranges complacently to appear in some public performance with favorites, or even only notorieties, of the footlights, does she do it because the stage appears to her the most desirable career, or because of great friendship and admiration for the a fore-mentioned favorite, or simply because of the advertisement? It is true that the sacred cause of charity is generally invoked as an excuse, but charity has been known to cover a multitude of—well, let us say, indiscretions.

Blog Archive

Countries we have visited

About Me

My photo

As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.