BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

Canadian houses of romance Hale, Katherine, 1878-1956

Item Metadata

Download

Media
bcbooks-1.0381022.pdf
Metadata
JSON: bcbooks-1.0381022.json
JSON-LD: bcbooks-1.0381022-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcbooks-1.0381022-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcbooks-1.0381022-rdf.json
Turtle: bcbooks-1.0381022-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcbooks-1.0381022-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcbooks-1.0381022-source.json
Full Text
bcbooks-1.0381022-fulltext.txt
Citation
bcbooks-1.0381022.ris

Full Text

 GmadumJ-loiises
v affirmance A
I^ierinejhQ-
with Drawings oy
VvwmyStevens'
    Canadian
Houses
m
Romance
KATHERINE HALE has also written:
Canadian Cities of Romance
Morning in the West
Legends of the St, Lawrence
   The  Chateau Papineau at Monte  Bello.
 with Drawinas vy
DorotnuStevens'
Joronto ^jfde Macmillaa Company o£~*
Canada ftmited, at St Mavhns/Couse
MCMXXVJ,
iiirhrTniBl^f /■  '"f      ' "* "     <~~~£HT~~"*~~ "-v ■ J*i''> ■«.--»»->-^-
 Copyright, Canada, 1926
by The Macmillan Company of Canada Limited
Produced in Canada
 To John W. Garvin, my ruthless chauffeur and best companion of the road;   to Mr. and Mrs.   Gaspard   Le
Moine, whose family name, so distinguished in
French Canada, frequently occurs on these
pages;  and to  my good friends,  Dr.
John D. Logan, of Halifax, and
Mr. J. Murray Gibbon,  of
Montreal,
I gratefully inscribe this book.
-NT
  /T is possible that people may ask what Canada
has to do with old houses, that have been called
the ghosts of old races* For it is said there is little
to be found here but the mark of the present; a hard
mark, like a self-complacent rubber stamp* To
this I can only answer that I have tried to reach and
record the little* In doing so I have heard stories
so interesting, and at times so strange, that their telling might place Canada among fantastic countries,
as well as those of vast natural resources* But they
are still too near our time; for while descendants
linger they spoil true stories* Yet the fact remains
that had my publishers allowed this book to grow
stouter there might easily have been more than the
sixty houses recorded here that played a significant
part in the courageous days of early Canada*
 Among those who gave me generous assistance,
and whose names do not appear in these stories
are: Dr. W. D. Lighthall and Miss F. Evelyn
Currie, of Montreal; Mr. Lawrence J. Burpee, of
Ottawa; Dr. William Maclntoch, of Saint
John; Mrs. Arthur Cree, of the Archives Department, at Victoria; Miss Muriel Kinnear, of the
Archives, Halifax; Mr. E. R. Greig, of the Art
Gallery of Toronto, Grange Park; and Miss
Charlotte Whitton, of Ottawa. Also Mrs. J.
W. F. Harrison (Seranus), of Toronto, for
use of excerpts from her villanelle "Chateau
Papineau."
The illustration on the wrapper of this volume is
a reproduction of the etching of "The
.Admiralty House, Halifax/*
by Dorothy Stevens*
 CONTENTS
i.—Angelic Patronage
2.—The House That Was Not There
3.—A Fur Trader's House
4.—Some Old Seigneuries
5.—The Search for Belmont   .
6.—Morning at Spencer Wood
7.—lonewater and another belmont <
8.—In a Celestial City
9.—A Street of Old Houses
10.—Down by the Sea
11.—A Sentimental Ruin
12.—Mount   Uniacke
13.—Clifton .
14.—At the Chateau Papineau
15.—Rideau Hall and Earnscliffe
16.—Kingston       .
17.—Tom Talbot's Castle
18.—A Witch-House   .
19.—Swords and Sashes
20.—"Our Altars Xnd Our Fires"
PAGE
♦  3
♦ 21
32
. 41
48
. 52
59
I 63
77,
* 83
87
jj 91
95
104
117
122
131
138
151
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
21.—Chiefswood
22.—A Curse and a Blessing
23.—Three Pioneers
24.—Mountain Cabins
25.—A Poet's Garden
26.—The Sea Captain's House
27.—An Island Farm
28.—The Old Doctor
page
171
182
191
195
200
202
204
208
 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PAGE
True type of the hardy French pioneer." . 5
the beautiful Calvaire ... on the road between Ver-
cheres and Varennes."    . ♦ ♦ 19
a lovely deserted house." . . . 23
In 1809 Nelson's tall column appeared at one end of
the square." ♦ . . .25
a remnant of the dream of an explorer ... in a bit of
stone  wall." ♦ . . .34
one of the first factor's houses of the Hudson's Bay
Company."      ♦ ♦ . . 38
Lonewater, a house as lovely as its name." . 53
Belmont was erected in 1820 by the Honourable John
Murray  Bliss."   . ♦ ♦ ♦ 57
the quaint red brick rectory."                   ♦ . 61
The old officers' quarters."               . . .65
the houses were never pretentious."       ♦ ♦ 69
the town's aristocratic boarding-house." ♦ 71
Come along, Jedge, come along."             ♦ . 73
the building stands out in fine relief of brown stone."     79
a sort of glorified Italian villa."               ♦ . 85
Old Canada stands here . ♦ . dominant and unchanging." . . 1 . .89
Clifton, the old house of 'Sam Slick.' " . 93
a story of changing regimes." ♦ . .109
it is an altogether friendly house." ♦ ♦ 113
§
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
"Alwington House  built  by  the  fourth   Baron   Le
Moyne." «
The Honourable Thomas Talbot
a place in which to hew out a kingdom."
the shell of a wild forgotten phantasy."
The Wilderness ... a rambling one storey house."
Niagara's literary house."
Count Joseph de Puisaye
"the Grange was built on the lines of an old English
manor house."       ....
"wearing carelessly the picturesque old cape.".
"set apart from other Tory houses of its day."
"the wedding gift of Chief Johnson   to   his   English
wife." .
"Indians talk-talking in a wooden Longhouse
"Its walls and chambers have re-echoed the voices of the
past."        ♦
"to its doors, out of the illimitable prairies . ♦ . came
the carts."        ♦
"the springless  carts."
"we lifted the knocker of an old door
PAGE
119
123
125
132
139
141
145
153
161
163
173
177
187
192
193
209
 1
Old Peoples' Places!    Not for you
For whom To-day was made,
But here's a land where friends are few
And life's a lonesome trade,
And modern man is, first and last,
An alien distant thing,
And so one wanders to the past
And finds it comforting.
And the years are lifted like a sheet
And the stricken stone is free . . ♦
Old Peoples' Places!   Might one meet
Old People there?    Maybe.
H. B.
With permission from Punch, London, England.
  Qanadian Houses ofcBsomance
   I
ANGELIC PATRONAGE
AT the Chateau Frontenac the maitre d'hotel
jfjL handed us to Francois, the head waiter, who
suggested an admirable dinner. It was a splendid summer night and after the meal we went
out on the Terrace as everyone delights to do....
Here was the wide, crowded walk, twittering with
French and English voices, the lighted kiosks and
bandstand, the dark Citadel looming above, the dark
river singing below and smiling to itself in a thousand reflected lights from Levis and Quebec.
Leaning over the balustrade to look down on a
labyrinth of little streets, we were joined by a friend
from Quebec, whom some tourists had just singled
out to inquire where they could find a guide for the
Lower Town.
"That is unnecessary, madame," he had replied,
. "for everyone knows the way."
"They are not energetic, these travellers," he said.
"Do you know, they hardly venture as far as the
Island!" He glanced back to the left where Isle
d'Orleans lay asleep in the moonlight. "The Citadel, the Lower Town, St. Anne de Beaupre are very
popular, but how few people know the spots that
contain a little mystery—a little romance, one might
3
J
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
say! These still lie hidden* There is our small
Sillery, for example, an ancient village, a handful of
houses on an almost deserted road. It lies there in
the old Cove just four miles to our right as we stand
here. Do any of you, for instance, know this
village?"
Yes, we knew that the village of Sillery existed,
and near at hand.
"Nevertheless, my friends," said the gentleman
from Quebec, "if you will accompany me to a small
table just under the awning there I shall order, with
your permission, a bottle of Dubonnet, and while
we drink it I shall have the pleasure of telling you
something of the history of this ancient place of
which, without doubt, you are unaware."
But by the time that we had made the length of
the Terrace we found that the little tables under the
awning were occupied, and the band was approaching its patriotic climax before we were served:
O Canada! Terre de nos aieux
Ton front est ceint de fluerons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter Tepee,
II sait porter la croix.
"II sait porter la croix! How true of Sillery! Do
you realize, mes cheres amies, that this place, so near
us, of which I speak, is a mystic spot and was, nearly
three hundred years ago, placed under the protection
of Saint Michael the Archangel as a religious
penance for the worldly deeds of a young Frenchman of whom I shall presently tell you?"
4
 ANGELIC PATRONAGE
He waited for our confession of ignorance and
went on.
"Today it is a half forgotten story, even in France
where Noel Brulart de Sillery, a member of the Military Order of the Knights of Malta, and who had
"True type of the hardy French pioneer/
experienced a notoriously gay career, suddenly entered Holy Orders. That was in the year 1634.
He had still before him a long life and immense
wealth to devote to the expiation of his mad youth.
The truth is he had come under the influence of the
saintly Vincent de Paul, who was full of zeal for
5
 w
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
the cause of mission work among the savage tribes
of the new world, and de Paul had encouraged Noel
to leave France for America."
The moon was sailing towards us now across the
southern path of the midsummer sky, and only isolated groups were scattered about the great Terrace.
We drank the ruddy mild Dubonnet out of thick
little glasses, and the story of Noel Brulart de Sillery
went on*
"And so, close under this little Canadian fortress,
there grew a mission, a tiny settlement; one might
say the religious pet of military Quebec. It was a
place; of strange contrasts. The nuns of the Hotel
Dieu opened a hospital, and a parish church was
erected. But the thick woods which surrounded the
clearing were full of Indian camps. It was known
that they were not always friendly, and anxiety was
felt by the people of Quebec for the safety of the good
nuns. One Reverend Father used to visit the Sisters
each evening during the winter when, in the prevalence of snow storms that silenced the world, so
many treacherous deeds were committed. He would
make the journey of four miles from Quebec on foot,
picking his way through the forest, his lantern in
his hand, and sometimes, losing his foothold, would
come rolling down the hill, and so arrive, breathless
without doubt, but still faithful to his charge."
"The parish church and the hospital, founded by
the Knight of Sillery, were in time augmented by a
 ANGELIC PATRONAGE
fort, and then by the Manor House of the Jesuits.
This is the first stone manor house ever erected in
North America. With its heavy walls of grey
stone, more than three feet thick, it stands on the
village street to this day."
"Do you think, then," he suggested, with that
eagerness for its memory which a devoted friend
might show for a companion long gone, "do you
think that the little history I have related is of sufficient interest to lead you to visit this quiet settlement, where awaits much of which I have not yet
spoken? . ♦ . Well, then, together, perhaps, we
may explore these green glades so famous in days of
old!"
And so the next morning we drove through
Sillery's modern Upper Town and descended, precipitously, a rocky road that runs straight to the
river. There, on a quiet little street, we found our
manor house; of simple Norman structure and,
except for a modern roof (made after the type of
the first roof, steep and gabled to resist the pressure
of snow), quite strong of wind and limb, a true
type of the hardy French pioneer.
Everything else of the earliest days is gone. On
the site of the one-time church there is a monument
to the first missionary in Canada, Father Ennemond
Masse who was buried here in 1646. A great elm
tree rises over the spot where the nuns had their
7
 I
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
hospital, and along the curving road that was once
the main street little semi-modern houses have
arisen, some of them additions to "original" houses:
country places where Quebec families used to fly
from the "heat of the city" two hundred years ago.
Here came Madame de Maisonneuve, who tried,
perhaps pathetically, to make a French villa look
happy in rude surroundings. And Madame Manse
came too, and that austere aristocrat, the venerable
Madame de Monceau, the mother-in-law of General
Ruette d'Auteur.
There are stories of how the gallants of the day,
riding down from Quebec to pay their devoirs to
these and other French ladies, were vastly interested
in the surrounding woods, full of Indian wigwams
where also summered beautiful black-eyed Montag-
nais and Algonquins.
Those were Sillery's brief days of splendour. Who,
I wonder, holds the key to its subsequent obscurity? Not our kind host of this morning who possessed no inferiority complex whatever. " 'Twas in
the green glades of Sillery that the earliest lady novelist in Canada penned the first feminine romance,"
he said, and quoted Sir James LeMoine who calls
this spot the cradle of the English novel in the new
world.
"An empty cradle!" we thought, as we stood in
the silent, mournful little street.
"The lady who wrote this Canadian novel," went
 ANGELIC PATRONAGE
on our friend, "was none other than the well-known
English writer Frances Brooke. Her husband received the appointment of Military Chaplain to the
Garrison at Quebec, and she had secured, apparently,
before she set sail, a commission from a London
publisher for a book about her adventures in a
savage land.
Everything that we afterwards learned, through
praiseworthy research, relating to this far-sighted
lady was extremely piquant. The Quebec Herald,
sometime in 1790, contains this anecdote:
The evening before this distinguished author
departed with her husband for Canada, she had a
party at her apartments who met for the purpose
of bidding her farewell. Miss Hannah Moore,
Miss Seward, Mr. Keats, Dr. Johnson and Mr.
Bos well were among the visitors. As Dr. Johnson was obliged to take his leave early, he rose, and,
wishing her health and happiness, went seemingly
away. In a few moments a servant came to acquaint Mrs. Brooke that a gentleman in the parlor
wished to speak to her. She accordingly went
downstairs and who should it be but Dr. Johnson. "Madame," says the doctor, "I sent for you
downstairs that I might kiss you, which 1 did not
choose to do before so much company."
I wonder if they were curious for intimate details in Quebec about Dr. Johnson, and his friend
and subsequent biographer, Mr. Boswell—"that
noisy, ugly, foolish drunken Scotish laird?" Had
news of them and of other literati come languidly
by sailing ship, from London drawing-rooms, and,
by way of critics, half caustic, half friendly, to small
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
: ,
Canadian settlements at this time? At any rate
Mrs. Brooke had interesting news to tell, and a fashionable lady novelist was in itself a daring innovation.
One can imagine the flutter which the advent of
such a being caused. It is said that she "danced
divinely" and was ever ready to aid and abet all
gaiety on foot in the fortress. Quebec hospitality
even in those days was famous, and in "Emily Montague; her Life and Works" it was reported with a
nimble and witty pen. Further, we are told that the
author was "irresistibly attracted, pending the leafy
months, to one of the cool Sillery retreats where,
with her husband, she occupied an extremely pretty
farm at the foot of the heights."
Of course we looked for that farm, but no one
could give us a clue as to its whereabouts.
And then, days after, a sentence in an old copy of
one of LeMoine's "Maple Leaves" suddenly arrested
us. "It is generally supposed that the Brooke farm
lay in the neighbourhood of Beauvoir, the Hon. R.
R. Dobell's picturesque manor."
But why should we return to find it? . ♦ ♦ Like
the quaint village itself, the author of "Emily Montague; her Life and Works" has passed along the
dim street of oblivion—ghost of a street, where lights
only appear to be lit, in windows that sometimes
look almost as though they were real.
On that summer day in Sillery, the caretaker who
took us over the echoing barn-like manor house of
10
I
I
 ANGELIC PATRONAGE
the Jesuits had said: "There are few people who
would be interested now in a lot of empty rooms
when there are real sights to be seen close by in Quebec. Indeed the manor is already private property.
It was bought by a gentleman in the Upper Town.
And if they ever grade the hill and put an asphalt
pavement on the road they say that he will refurnish
the house and rent it out."
And that saying made one pray that oblivion may
indeed descend upon the place for good and all, for
in the day of bathrooms and asphalt and Ford cars
and tourists its Angelic Patronage will certainly be
withdrawn.... One can only hope that Noel
Brulart has had time to work out his salvation, with
no need of a modernized Sillery hanging about his
soul as a penance for youthful worldly deeds.
11
 ik*
II
THE HOUSE THAT WAS NOT THERE
r
T was nearly two years after we had found the
old Jesuit house at Sillery that we came again
to the valley of the St. Lawrence. The roads were
more fascinating than ever, and the song of the
river more beautiful and deep. Driving along its
shores day after day the river seemed often to awaken strange echoes that were like memories, cadences
of life older than ours, known intimately to the
river. Its song in one's ears makes the record of
early Canadian life along its banks a very recent
tale. It is easy to relate the story of villages, set like
beads at regular intervals upon the road, but something more ancient than frontier life lies behind
them.
One summer day we drove from Montreal to
Vercheres. It takes some time to get out of Montreal, over the long bridge and through an epidemic
of villas, with the river on the right hand making
beautiful broad curves before it begins its long
straight path to the sea. In midsummer there are
effects of vibrant, clear-washed colour: the blue of
the river, the yellow-green of fields, and thrown upon the fields, like mauve-pink rugs, great patches of
12
 THE HOUSE THAT WAS NOT THERE
a swamp flower called by the  French   Canadians
rupe or rat's tail.
Suddenly you are on the village street of Lon-
gueuil. The straight spire of the Parish Church of
St. Antoine rears up. It stands on the site of the
old turreted castle of the Le Moynes, Barons of
Longueuil in its feudal days. We tried to picture
its ancient grandeur as we drove through the streets
of the sunny modern town. Visible echoes of those
times appeared in wayside cottages of the simplest
rubble construction, in a few stone mills, set in the
shining summer fields, and a bake-oven here and
there, with its rather sinister coffin-like construction.
Out on the country roads, as though to give an
illusion of the past, there came jogging many little
carts, and old-fashioned one-horse phaetons and even
venerable caleches. We had left Longueuil behind
us, and were quite near Varennes when it became apparent that a festival of some sort was in progress.
Not otherwise these unthrifty boiled shirts and gay
muslins on a week-day of excellent haying weather!
Suddenly, we remembered that it was the 25 th of
July, the feast day of Sainte Anne, who is the
patroness of Quebec. And as we neared Varennes
the blue flags of the Sainte appeared in delicate
waving lines across the sleepy street. The little
town was crowded with visitors, many shops were
closed and the Place in front of the Cathedral was
13
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
full of cars, and such quaint vehicles as those we
had been passing. Within the Cathedral a mass was
progressing. The djoors stood wide open, as
though to take in a great congregation for whom
there was no room. We struggled through the
crowd and managed at last to get within the
church. As we stood, tightly wedged in between
worshipping French-Canadian families, we were
enveloped in the majestic music of an eighteenth
century mass. Mozart might have written it. A
magnificent baritone voice rose and fell in the long
and varied text of the gloria. The altar, seen
through the far mist of its gleaming candles, made
a vague but glorious blur. It seemed to us, as it
rose serenely at the end of the long crowded aisle,
like the mystical flower of an old faith still blooming in this provincial village. By the merest chance
we had come upon a moment of ceremonial that
had been each year renewed for over two hundred
years. . . The solemn service, the devout throngs,
the simple earnest faces, even the long, softly-waving petals of the blue flags of the Sainte made religion in this place a living poem of colour, music
and delight.
In the rue Principale de Vercheres we found one
or two open shops, in spite of the holiday, and at a
down-at-the-heel, and fly-specked one we bought a
beautiful compote of amber glass for next to nothing.
14
J
 THE HOUSE THAT WAS NOT THERE
This rue Principale is typically French-Canadian;
small shops, and stone houses of the old type, with
blue or green shutters, are interspersed with modern
houses to which "galleries" have been added.
A stranger might easily pass through the quaint
streets and find no hint of its dramatic story, but
not a passenger on a St. Lawrence steamer, for the
river takes a sharp curve just here and the harbour
is plainly to be seen, also the lighthouse, an old
windmill, and the life-sized figure of a young girl,
animated in pose and gesture—Madeleine de Ver-
cheres*
In spite of school histories it would be interesting to know just how many people are quite sure of
her story. With peaceful fields stretching on all
sides we remembered a time when they were often
deserted because the call to arms was forever issued
from Quebec or Montreal. In the villages people
would gather and work together, and while they
worked, sentinels were on guard to give warning of
the first sign of danger. Everywhere there was terror of the Iroquois. The habitant on his homestead, the courier in the depths of the forest, the
trader paddling down stream with his furs,—none
were secure.
We went to the water's edge to look more closely
at the fine statue of Madeleine. A deaf but inquisitive old lady who had been following us about,
came forward.
15
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
In a whining voice she asked us, "Est-ce que vous
avez arriver pour la fete?"
"Non madame, pour visiter la maison de Ver-
cheres."
Her face expressed surprise but also satisfaction,
and she pointed with elaborate gesture to "la
Statue."
"The old fort, does it still exist?" we asked in our
careful, school-book French.
She did not or would not comprehend.
How toy-like the stone windmill! How calm the
small arena! It was a pretty stage-setting for this
very appropriate peasant.
In 1692, through a thick autumn-crimsoned
forest, Indians were stealing to seize an unprotected
post. The settlers of Vercheres were harvesting,
miles away from the fort; and its commander,
Madeleine's father, had gone to Montreal with his
staff. An old man, some children, and two soldiers
were left in charge with the girl of fourteen. Suddenly there came a cry, "The Indians are upon us!"
With shots singing and whistling about her the
child somehow got herself and her brothers back,
and closed and barred the gate. Within were the
trembling old man, and the soldiers with matches
lighted ready to blow them all up rather than endure Indian tortures.
16
vjfei^r
 THE HOUSE THAT WAS NOT THERE
It is at this point that Madeleine becomes so interesting. She turned upon the coward soldiers,
tore off her white muslin bonnet and had on a steel
cap of her father's in a moment, and a gun in her
hand. She was, indeed, no longer Madeleine, but
the Joan who must always have been stirring in her
veins. "To arms!" she cried, "everyone of us! Let
us fight to the death for God and the King!"
She invented a splendid fraud, so well sustained
that the enemy actually believed the fort to be
strongly garrisoned. There was a volley of shots
at intervals from the loop-holes, a tread of sentinels
at night, cries of "All's well!" and hour by hour
the steel cap marching around the tiny quarters;
ordering, inciting, cheering.
There was the incredible adventure of the cattle
when, at early dawn, the sentry nearest the gates
called suddenly: "Lady, there are advancing feet!"
She peered anxiously out. Yes—there, in the
eerie light, against the whiteness of new fallen snow,
black moving figures could be seen coming closer
and closer. There was a moment of panic. Then
soft lowing and snuffing was heard. . . These were
no Indians but cattle, the last of the fort herd, faithful cattle finding their way home through the snow.
"Let them in," begged the children, "we have
had no milk for days."
"God forbid!" replied Madeleine, "the Indians
are behind them, wrapped in skins, ready to rush
in should we open the gate."
17
3
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
Yet they risked it, for fear of starvation. The
little boys stood on each side of the gate ready to
fire. The gate was carefully opened. One by one
the cattle marched slowly in and the gate was
closed. On the seventh night she was asleep at last
in the guard room. Suddenly she started, wideawake, to hear the tramp of men about the house.
Springing up she seized her gun, "Who goes there?"
she called into the darkness.
"The French," came the reply. "It is La Mon-
nerie come to help you!" ♦ ♦ ♦
And wanting to write about it we decided that
there must be some trace left of the Fort which was
also the maison de Vercheres, and so we went to the
Presbytery, to find out if a kindly priest could or
would discover or invent for us a little ruin. But
it was hopeless for he was, of course, at the Mass.
We asked a few ancients on the street, themselves interesting relics, if anything was known of the
whereabouts of the Fort.
"Mais non, madame, rien!"
So we had evidently come to see a house that was
not there. Nevertheless, returning once more to
the water's edge we vowed that there could be no
more fascinating village in America than this.
"Cest unique!" volunteered the chauffeur, with
a hearty gesture.
18
irr±!^fcf:
 THE HOUSE THAT WAS NOT THERE
m
"the beautiful Calvaire ... on the road between Vercheres and
Varennes."
19
 CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
Our old lady waved us farewell, after assisting in
repacking the compote and plucking the inevitable
bunch of wild flowers (pour souvenir) which as inevitably perished miserably within an hour.
We drove back to Montreal through a heavenly
twilight. . ♦ People with happy voices were talking
and singing through the gloaming, and the inns and
hotels were doing a lively business.
Yet, at the beautiful Calvaire that stands on the
road between Vercheres and Varennes we saw an
old man praying in the dusty grass before its closed
doors, as though the festival of the beloved Sainte
Anne had failed to bring him all that he desired.
20
 Ill
A FUR TRADER'S HOUSE
(And Others in Montreal)
MONTREAL is strangely beautiful in winter,
etched against a white background, her great
churches and old houses looming lantern-like through
the snow. On such a day I set forth to tea-in the
Prince of Wales Terrace, one of those formerly
aristocratic rows whose gray stone fronts look so
venerable. In the midst of talk, something in the
small white marble mantelpiece, set in a design of
stern iron grapes, seemed to me faintly, even oppressively, familiar. I remembered then a stately, century-old Ontario house, whose inmates were never
known to light a fire, even on chilly days. Not
often in Ontario, however, these impressive winding staircases which contain niches originally intended to hold oil lamps or candelabra.
It was behind McGill's great stadium that I saw
a lovely deserted house of grey stone with iron
railings. It stands, detached and dignified, looking
mournfully over the magnificent amphitheatre towards the site of Burnside, the modest country residence of the founder of McGill who dreamed a
21
 CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
splendid dream, and fulfilled it in the University
which bears his name.
The house above the stadium was owned and
occupied by members of the Molson family, also
great citizens of Montreal. I do not know why
they have left the house alone, but something, perhaps the moment of closing day when I saw it, left
a rather sombre impression. With the old house I
looked down over McGill's beginning and far, far
behind that to the ancient vanished Indian town of
Hochelaga on whose site, centuries later, a benevolent and shrewd Scottish gentleman was to cultivate
the grounds of Burnside.
The Molson house looked more cheerful as we
passed it again in the glitter of mid-winter sun. A
carnival was in progress. The sky was a hard keen
blue, like a painted ceiling, and the high world was
white, with violet shadows sometimes cast across it.
The air was broken by the jingle of sleigh bells.
There were sightseers abroad in the land, and
ski-ers and boys and girls trailing toboggans; small
red sleighs piled with fur rugs; a few gorgeous turnouts with coachmen and footmen in those splendid
wolfskin capes, and fur busbies that have not yet
vanished. Everybody on the way to the summit.
And such a way; winding and glittering and sometimes roofed by trees, frozen into brilliant lines or
22
■ MKrTi
""^p   ■ '      ^yx^'^r^^rz^^i^Ti^^
 A FUR TRADER'S HOUSE
broken columns, or forming a white lacework of
branches through which the domes and towers of
the city were seen far below*
But at the old Cote St. Antoine Road we left this
gay throng, and passed frozen orchards that in autumn are fragrant with the scent of fameuse apples,
lovely deserted house."
and turning up a long avenue of tall gray trees we
jingled up importantly to a faded red door.
As the door was opened a drift of organ music
floated out. A Sister of the Ville Marie Convent
came across a marble passage to meet us in the drawing room. Calm as a lily seemed Monklands, which
was such a turbulent house!
23
 I
I
CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
Lord Elgin, who lived here as Governor during
and after the affair of the Rebellion Losses Bill,
used to drive up this avenue accompanied, at times,
by a little miniature rioting which naturally annoyed him, and made the coachman extremely nervous. But with all the harassing events and details
of his troublous regime, he took time to beautify
and adorn the Vice-regal residence which had been
built by its former owner, the Honourable James
Monk, the first Chief Justice of Montreal.
Here in the early-Victorian drawing-room, hung
with great crystal chandeliers, the Sisters showed us
a charming Romanesque medallion over the fireplace, and mouldings and wainscotting of wood
overlaid with a raised design in plaster-of-paris of
jolly little Cupids. The woodwork of the doors
is delicately disguised in a pastel shade of
silver or blue or rose that exactly tones with the
colour of the various rooms, and on each door is
the monogram of Lord Elgin in a beautiful old design. The original house is cunningly set, woven
as it were, between the gray stone wings of the Ville
Marie Convent, of which it is now a part.
But one must go into the French town to find
early Montreal. It is fascinating to make one's
way, by streets with old Saints' names, to Jacques
Carrier Square.   Here, when spring comes, you can
24
 A FUR TRADER'S HOUSE
"In 1809 Nelson's tall column appeared at one end of the square.'
25
 ISF
i
W
m
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
see, in imagination, the flowers of the garden that
the Jesuits planted a century ago, and the comings
and goings from the Chateau de Ramezay just
across the way. In 1809 Nelson's tall column appeared at one end of the Square. But a hundred
years before its erection Claude de Ramezay, Governor of Montreal, was occupying his Chateau.
Tourists now invade these rambling, low-ceil-
inged rooms with their wonderful collection of
prints and pictures and furniture. After de Rame-
zay's death the house became the property of "La
Campagnie des Indes" and the Indians came and the
couriers de bois to exchange their furs. After the
Conquest it was the residence of the British Governor. Montgomery issued from here his manifesto, urging the Canadian people to throw off the
yoke of Britain, and Benjamin Franklin set up his
printing press in the vaults. Indeed, these vaults
with their splendid masonry and massive beams,
and the kitchen below stairs, are the most human
remains of the house. What flames roared up this
great fireplace, what famous meals must have ascended to the banquet hall above!
One could see the town pillory from the Chateau.
It probably afforded a certain amusement to the
gentry. Bitter punishments were enacted there. In
this square it is related with merciless brevity: "Four
Iroquois suffered death by fire in 1696." . . Charlevoix, the historian, lived in the Square.    A tablet
26
 A FUR TRADER'S HOUSE
of true entente reads:    "The Pere Charlevoix, Historian of La Nouvelle France, 1725."
Close beside the Chateau crowds the Open Market, where twice a week the farmers come to sell
their wares. How pink their cheeks shine, like winter apples in the cold, and how gay their caps and
scarlet homespun shawls. One feels like buying
everything, even the little wooden-legged, rush-
bottom chairs that they sit upon!
Then deeper into the oldest streets; Ste. Therese,
St. Vincent, St. Amable, St. Gabriel, St. Jean Bap-
tiste, St. Paul; full of low stone buildings, with
outside stairs, narrow iron balconies, and iron shutters rusted red with age.
St. Paul was once the Fifth Avenue of ancient
Montreal. The ships that unloaded at the wharves
just below brought the latest designs from Paris,
and the French grandes dames wore crimson and deep
blue velvets against the snowy streets. How the
coaches of that day passed one another in these lanes
it is hard to imagine; but if the streets were narrow the houses were generous.
St. Amable for instance—tiny, tattered lane—
and its neighbour, St. Gabriel. Explore, if you have
time or the constitution to endure such icy cold,
the bleak chambers that lie beneath these blind old
places,—underground basements of everlasting
stone. They seem to be filled with centuries of rubbish. In reality they are the vaulted and tunnelled
houses of the first fur traders: the old fur cellars.
27
 FF1
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
When Astor came to Montreal these cellars were
already famous.
Sometimes a worthy, or unworthy, merchant
prince lived in apartments above his precious stores.
Simon MacTavish, the great fur-trader did. His
house on St. Jean Baptiste was renowned for splendour and hospitality. It was hard to find, packed
away among the warehouses. . . Use Maple Leaf
Alcohol for Anti-Freeze. . . . By that sign we were
told we should know it, and also because on the
right of the gateway there is still to be seen a
curious little iron door and window screen used by
the trader. It is now a packing plant for the National Drug Company, and every inch of space
counts. Hard to pick one's way through great
bales and boxes to the stone archway of the courtyard. We looked at wainscotting, a mantelpiece,
soon to be carted away to a museum, and a steel
grate. But it was too cold to stay long underground.
As we stepped into the street there was noise of
combat. Out of a dingy courtyard between two
grimy buildings rushed a small crowd of youths,
one in belligerent fashion squaring up to a taller
boy. A torrent of French was let loose. I turned
to my companion who laughingly translated: "This
boy has been throwing chunks of ice about, and the
other one says that his grandmother's window is
broken. . ♦ They always scrap down here. . . I
don't suppose they will fight it out." But as we
28
 A FUR TRADER'S HOUSE
turned the corner the air was still vibrant with the
sound of their shrill young voices.
An hour later I went into the dining-room of the
hotel for luncheon.
"Will madame begin with the oyster on the half
shell?" asked the waiter, in the caressing tone of
every true member of his order. The orchestra was
softly playing the Volga Boat Song. Corks were
withdrawn from interesting gold-labelled bottles,
men and women were smoking, laughing, talking,
ordering heavenly meals. . . At the end of the room
you could see a handsome mural of Champlain, carefully placing the Fleur~de~Lis on Mount Royal,
with the blue river shining far below, and a number
of Indians in attitudes of careful attention.
The oysters on the half shell duly arrived.
. . . We seemed to see the Indians, canoes piled
up with priceless furs, coming softly up to those
old wharves, and to the magic of stone houses with
glass in windows and fire imprisoned in stoves, to
the delirious magic of hot and wonderful water for
which they gladly flung down their wares. . . "Eh
bienl Que voulez-vous? * * You want a blanket?
♦ I ♦ Well, pile on some more skins ♦ . ♦ that is
not enough to buy a blanket. .  ."
"I can recommend this fillet of sole, madame?"
29
 WTT
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
But one felt, somehow, unworthy of such an extensive meal, remembering the place where all this,
our most ill-gotten gains, began. Oddly, the phrase
of an hour ago recurred: "He says that his grandmother's window is broken."
If
Dancing often celebrates the dawn in Montreal, where cafes are many and interesting. But
even in the great hotels, bits of New York transplanted here, that indefinable thing, French Canada,
enters.
As the hour goes on for midnight, a jazz band
becomes more fervent. Coloured lights and
shadows are thrown on crowds of dancers, and the
shoe manufacturer from Buffalo, and leading members of other stirring conventions, fox-trot with
their lady friends. The English tourist is also here,
and Montreal society takes a table and looks in for
an hour. But see that motherly soul with gray
hair, and a shawl about her shoulders, sitting alone
at a table where shortly before she was surrounded
by a chattering crowd of friends. Her feet, and
they are small ones, keep time to the syncopated
tune, and she is all animation. When the music
stops a serious looking gentleman leads back to the
table—and to a youth who has just approached it—
a sprightly young girl. He gives her over to a new
partner.
30
 A FUR TRADER'S HOUSE
"Maintenantl" says he, turning to the motherly
soul. --'J'.-^&^j
Quickly the shawl is discarded, and gracefully
they circle the room. Each member of their family
is provided with a partner. It remains to enjoy
themselves.   The evening has just begun!
31
 IV
SOME OLD SEIGNEURIES
TALK of the manor houses and seigneuries of
French Canada sounds picturesque, but the
truth is that in many cases they were primitive farm
houses. Many of them have been in the possession
of one family for quite six generations, and they
have retained an air of simplicity that is the essence
of grace. 'Climate was the first consideration in
their building. In Quebec the snow comes early
and stays late, and in summer the sun has an almost
tropical heat. Therefore the first settlers built their
houses to resist both elements; they sought comfort,
they omitted ornament, they built true and so they
achieved beauty. The native fieldstone and timbers make a charming contrast, the high-peaked
gable roofs, meant to cast off the snow, the small
windows, and the great chimneys, are features of
most of the Seigneuries that remain to-day. They
stand farther back from the road than the cabanes
of the habitant, because they were the centre of a
community and could afford isolation. Smaller
farm houses are built on long narrow lots, so that
neighbours may live close together.
France used to hold and clear her land by way of
seigneurial tenure, vesting with certain of the French
32
 SOME OLD SEIGNEURIES
settlers a pretty little power that pleased them
enough to make them extremely active in colonization. For the seigneur received his land without
money, and only at the price of its clearance. This
tenure was that of foi et hommage* His tenants rejoiced in the simple title of censitaires* They paid a
small rent, partly in farm produce, and enacted as
part of their obligations certain "banalties" or personal services, such as grinding his corn at the seigneurial mill, and baking at the seigneurial oven, giving the seigneur every eleventh fish caught in the
river on which the estate fronted, and dancing round
his May-pole when the spring fetes were being held
in the village.
Most of these Seigneuries were simple fiefs, which
did not carry a title of nobility; but towards the
close of the 17th century several baronies were
created in Canada by Louis XIV, the best known of
which is that of Longueuil.
From Montreal it is not far to seek one of the
first seigneurial estates on record; that given to
Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, on the Lower
Lachine road in the village of that name facing the
St. Lawrence on Lake St. Louis. It is a curious
thing to find a little remnant of the oriental dream
of a great explorer embedded here in a bit of stone
wall.
For the barbarous North held little interest for
La Salle.   He set out to find the fabled passage from
West to East, he was haunted  by his quest,   dis-
33
4
I
 w
It
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
mayed that it was not fulfilled, so he named his
grant of land by this river of his dreams La Chine,
and then he was off again.   To finance himself he
"a remnant of the dream of an explorer ... in a bit of stone wall."
sold part of his farm, En Roture, to the early fur
barons, Le Moyne and Jacques Le Ber, and they
finished the house and made a trading post.    The
34
J
 SOME OLD SEIGNEURIES
wall next the river still contains loop-holes for defence against the Indians. It is hard to realize that
this charming, and to all appearances, modern
house, still holds a bit of one of the oldest walls of
French Canada. The seven sons of this first
Seigneur de Longueuil each obtained his grant, now
bearing the names of such towns as Iberville and
Chateauguay.
2
Indeed, the province of Quebec is dotted with
manor houses. Going down the St. Lawrence from
Quebec, and that is the charmed way to see those of
the river valley, one passes seigneurie after seigneurie.
There is the manor at Montmagny on the north
shore, named after one of the Governors of New
France, where at midsummer the inhabitants of the
village are out in the hay fields, incredibly wielding
the picturesque old-time scythes.
Further down is the island of St. Marguerite and
its group, and on Crane Island, Montmagny also received a grant as early as 1641. Its best known
seigneur was the war-like de Beaujeu, of whom
many stories linger. He was in possession from
1775. His name survives in a sandbank opposite
his old manor. He was a great soldier and a Chevalier de St.. Louis. "On great holy days" says Le
Moine, "he would wear in his buttonhole the precious red ribbon given by Louis XV." He loved to
walk on his sandy wind-swept domain, haunted by
the cranes who came in great flying squadrons up
35
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
from the south with the spring and high tide. The
tide washed the very feet of the ancient manor, and
plovers, curlews, sea-snipe, sandpipers, were its
denizens. From the high ground of the manor,
which in its hey-day was laid out with gay parterres and orchards, Cap Tourment could be seen
rearing over the islands, a shimmer of magic in the
sun; and just to the north, the Dune, that tiny disappearing shoal, on which snow-geese rest. De
Beaujeu stayed here till the end. As age crept on it
is said that he still kept up a lordly state, and when
the censitaires came with the rents and seigneurial
capon at Michaelmas he would receive them before
the fire on "the most spacious hearth in all Quebec."
There are several ruins of manors on the Islands,
but you are less interested in them than absorbed by
the strange magic of the river; the stir of the vibrant
tide, the floating purples and blues and greens that
seem to shimmer around you in the air; the overhanging sorcery that deepens with every hour until,
as you near Tadousac, you are conscious of a tension that is almost unbearable.
Goose Island, owned now by the nuns of Hotel
Dieu, Quebec, is united to Crane Island by a belt of
swampy ground. One of Canada's wildest legends
is attached to its seigneurie, a part of the Montmagny
grant. The first manor house was a stone prison,
and no one has ever discovered who the prisoner
was. It is believed that a Sieur de Granville was
granted the fief in 1672; it is said that he built the
36
 SOME  OLD SEIGNEURIES
stronghold, and left a woman in charge of a solitary prisoner who was never seen nor heard of. . ♦
The ancient stones have never given a hint.
Over at St. Jean Port Joli, on the south side, is
the Manor of the de Gaspes, a sunny old place exquisitely pictured in its best days in "Les Anciens
Canadiens."
At Les Eboulement, if you happen to arrive on
a Saint's Day or a Sunday, you will see a bit of
comic opera, and hear better singing of French-
Canadian chansons than on any stage I know.
"This certainly does beat Rose Marie!" observe
Improving tourists.
For the inhabitants of Les Eboulement come
trouping down to the dock—even a "rocky hill-
Ipe" is provided—and as the boat draws in they
forthwith burst into song. Small boys strut about
smoking long black native cigars; a nice touch
which is immediately rewarded.
One of the first factor's houses of the Hudson's
Bay Company in Canada is at Baie St. Paul. Built
long and low behind poplar trees, it is now more
than ever picturesque.
At Murray Bay there is a fashionable hotel, and
a sweet little village as yet unspoiled by tourists.
Near the village church stands an old farmhouse behind a white-washed fence, with numerous outbuildings, and a little belfry whose voice once called
its labourers to meals. Its story, and that of its
37
 Prn
11
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
companion-house across the Bay, are apart from
other French-Canadian seigneuries. One is known
as Mount Murray Manor, and the other as Murray
Bay Manor. In this one lived a Colonel Nairne, and
in that a Colonel Fraser. But there are no descendants left to relate the history of their forefathers.
mm-
"one of the first factor's houses of the Hudson's Bay Company."
Champlain named this region "Mai Baie" because of the furious tides which move it, even when
the weather is calm. Its English name was in honour of General James Murray who gave holdings
here to two young Scotch captains, by name John
Nairne and Malcolm Fraser. These gentlemen
brought a number of soldiers and followers—Mc-
38
 SOME OLD SEIGNEURIES
Neills, and McLeans, and Blackburns, and Harveys;
and to-day their love affairs are celebrated by families with Scotch names, speaking the French language and observing French customs.
In the dining-room of the Murray Bay Manor
hangs the portrait of its Scottish seigneur, Colonel
John Nairne. He wears the red coat of a British
officer and a wig, in the fashion of the time. "The
portrait might be one of a frequenter of Court functions in London rather than that of a hardy pioneer
who had carried on a stern battle with the wilderness," says Professor George M. Wrong in his account of the house.
Fraser's Highlanders, whose costume was so ill-
suited to the climate, were enthusiastic pioneers, and
after the kindly nuns had knitted long stockings
for them they were better able to cope with the elements.
These seigneurs, of course, held Protestant views,
and would fain have summoned Presbyterians
enough to form a kirk, but met with no great success. And so the missionary priest who visited them
performed the various offices of the church for Highlanders and French alike. They longed, also, for
that bulwark of the Scotch nation, "a free school,"
but this, too, was denied them. When death came
they might not be buried in the consecrated ground
of the Roman Church. So John Nairne made a
little plot near his own house.   But not more than
39
il;
 \7**T
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
six people lie there, for none of the children, and
few of the Highlanders, remained outside of the
Roman Church. . . It must have been difficult, at
times, for Malcolm Fraser and John Nairne.
40
Mi
 V
THE SEARCH FOR BELMONT
NO one in Quebec seemed to have definite news
of Belmont. But I was independent because of the happy find of an obscure number of one
of Le Moine's innumerable Maple Leaves. Also
the porter at the Chateau had turned me over to the
wisest of all his taxi drivers—and the oldest.
"He is a type of the old cocher. He knows the
city. I have spoken to him of the place you require.
He remembers it well. Trust all to him, madame,
and you shall certainly arrive. . . Eh bien! ♦ ♦ .
Henri! . . . Bon jour, madame. . . . Merci."
Henri seemed to me too frail to drive a car. But
once on the way he was as shrill and spasmodic as
the rest in his dealings with all forms of traffic that
for a moment retarded our progress.
We were bound for the Ste. Foye Road and it is
a pleasant drive along the Grande Allee and past the
Plains of Abraham north to what was a country
road, and is now a straggling city, all strung out
with churches and villas and rows of shops. The
priceless Maple Leaf was in my hand and I read;
This estate, which until lately consisted of four
hundred and fifty acres, extending from the line
of the Grande Allee down to the   Bijou   wood,
was conceded in 1649 by the  Jesuit  Fathers  to
41
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
M. Godfroi. It was passed over in 1670 to the
celebrated Intendant Talon, by Deed of Sale
executed on the 28th September, 1670, before
Romain Becquete, Notaire Royal . . . after the
conquest it was sold for five hundred pounds to
General James Murray, governor of Quebec . . .
in 1775 we find that one of the first operations of
the American General Montgomery was to take
possession of Belmont.
What cups of conquest passing from hand to
hand in that old Chateau! Gay roysterers of times
gone by ... A fete champetre of lively French officers from Quebec making merry over their Bordeaux
or Burgundy, celebrating victories over the English
at Fontenoy to the jocund sound of Vive la France!
Vive le Marechal Saxe! . . . Murray and his
veterans, Guy Carlton, Hale, and Holland, giving
Wolfe's famous toast: "British colours on every
French post and garrison in America." . . Canadian
Barons. . . And later the choice spirits who used to
go to sip claret and have ices with Sir James Craig
at Powell Place. . . Then Colonel Caldwell who
had lived in such splendour at Belmont. I .
We still drove on and on.
"Where are we now?" I asked.
"Ste. Foye Road, Madame."
The car stopped with a jerk. "I must tell you,"
Henri volunteered in broken but admirable English,
"that Monsieur Vakeem is no longer there."
"But that is the wrong name," I said. "I am going to a place called Belmont. It was once the home
42
 THE SEARCH FOR BELMONT
of the Intendant Talon . . . very old . . . very historic. We should be coming close to the place
now."
"Non, madame," Henri asserted, and his English disappeared in a torrent of French.. ♦ There was
no word about Talon or any of his successors in
the stream of information which ensued.
I gave a brief survey, in careful French, of Belmont as I knew it. He shrugged his shoulders and
repeated, "I know not. I will return and go backward if you desire."
"Not at all," said I. "Take me on then to the
place of which you speak, the house of this monsieur."
"But it is abandoned, madame."
"No matter, I wish to see it!"
In the meantime it was softly, almost imperceptibly, beginning to rain and Henri could not get the
top up. The more he struggled the more it refused.
Deep in history, I had not watched the late afternoon grow so close and dark. The heat suddenly
became terrific, the rain rushed on.
"Votre chapeau, madame!" said my cocher with
sympathetic looks.
In Quebec one never expects to find a large house
open during the summer, and we were now beyond
the region of friendly shops. I could not allow my
Ancient to drown before my eyes.    At last a small
43
y
 1Mb
dr
it
W-
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
residence with a covered porch over the  driveway
appeared and we turned in.
"Is anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door.
How.dark it had grown! ♦ ♦ The rain seemed to
slant persistently in our direction. . . My hat, and
more than my hat, was now damp. Then, from
some distance, I thought I heard the sound of voices.
"Demand of them the residence of Monsieur Va-
keem," admonished the dripping Henri.
I followed the voices around the gravel walk, and
found two stout ladies seated on a back porch well
out of the rain.
"Bon soir," I remarked.
"Good evening," they answered smartly.
I inquired for my house.
"An historic house near here? Are you sure it
was on the Ste. Foye Road? A residence of Talon?
... He was the old Intendant. He never lived out
here, oh never! He had a house in town, in the old
city,—1
I gave Sir James Le Moine as my authority.
"That is very singular," said one of the ladies,
"very singular indeed. Why, we have never even
heard of Talon living in this direction, and we have
been here for twenty-five years."
"But this account was written fifty years ago—
I mean Sir James*—and Belmont was deeded to
Talon in—"
44
J
 THE SEARCH FOR BELMONT
"Oh! Belmont did you say? That is different,"
they fluttered, with amused smiles at one another,
and after a gesture or two, "I suppose she means
the Retreat."
"Oh, no!" I protested.
"But yes, it must be Dr. Wakeham's Asylum—
the old Belmont."
"Wakeham—Vakeem—so Henri's name does
come in/' I thought. "But how?" And I asked
for information.
"Merely," I was told, "that for years it was a
maison sante for inebriates!"
The old ladies begged me not to proceed the half
mile further on such a miserable evening. We became friends, and told each other news. In exchange for my picturesque history I got a delightfully gruesome story of decay, after Dr. Wakeham
and his inebriates had departed. ("It was always
too comfortable for drunkards. They actually kept
up the grounds and the hedges.") It seemed that
now, although there was a sort of caretaker, the
place was thought to be haunted, and was rumoured
to be disreputable. The bones of an infant had been
found in the furnace. "Anyway," said the ladies,
"we do not approve of your going there alone."
So, the rain being over, we set out forthwith and
shortly came to stone pillars, set amid overhanging
45
H
 :   hi!
f!
li
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
shrubbery, and an iron gate with the word Belmont written thereon. The gate was locked.
We went on beyond the high trees and hedges of an
enormous garden to a small cottage where, my companions being respectfully recognized by the caretaker, we received a key and took our way over a
long wet path through a small wood, choked with
underbrush and tangled with fern. We came, finally, to a sweep of lawn beyond whose circular
hedge there stood, palely, in the gathering twilight,
the house for which I had searched for hours.
Belmont looked beautiful to me at first, coming
upon it from the dusky wood path, seeing the tangle of outer garden and the deep semi-circle of
hedge; like a place that Marjorie Pickthall might
have described 'with a fairy ring around it and an
old thorn tree.'
But, as we went up and down the empty halls
and corridors and the great echoing rooms, a sense
of desolation so overcame us that we lost all desire
to explore it farther. It was almost as if one could
reach out and feel the dreadful hand of the Past;
a soft hand, thickly padded, that can obliterate such
a place with fatal ease, wipe it out indeed with a
gesture—it and all its crowd of thoughts and
memories.
"I really do not think that Canada was ever intended to become a place of mere ruins," exclaimed
one of the ladies. "We seem to have no respect for
46
 THE SEARCH FOR BELMONT
them. Indeed, if you notice, they are often carted
away at public expense even before they tumble
down of themselves. Look at the walls of Quebec,
for instance. Even the gates are disappearing one
by one."
There seemed no answer to this, especially as we
ourselves were frankly glad of the excuse of coming darkness to turn the key again upon this particular ruin, and leave it before the twilight had
thickened into night.
And the strange thing is that the old lady's
"feeling" has materialized, for, since our visit, Belmont has been burned to the ground.
47
 I
VI
MORNING AT SPENCER WOOD
THERE was a sparkle of trees as we motored
again the next morning along the St. Louis
road, cheerfully bound for luncheon at Spencer
Wood, the present Government House of the Province of Quebec. It stands on the banks of the St.
Lawrence, a charming and dignified successor to one
of the most hospitable and well-beloved mansions
of the old regime.
For the first house on this site was Powell Place,
dating back to 1780, and named after a relative of
the owner, General Henry W. Powell. It was originally a splendid old seat of more than a hundred
acres, enclosed between two streams and hidden
from the highroad by dense foliage, even as Government House is to-day.
After luncheon we went into the garden, a lovely
place admired for many generations. Ancient
books describe it as so beautiful that "botanizing
excursions were often made by ladies and gentlemen from the surrounding countryside." Within
the large gardens there was "an elfish plot" for
roses, "a circular fount in white marble," conservatories, graperies, peach and orchid houses and pavilions looking towards Sillery and Isle d'Orleans.
48
■JfeLV.
 MORNING AT SPENCER WOOD
The estate was destined to many changes. After
the Powells came the Percevals—the Honourable
H. Michael Perceval, who was closely connected with the Earl of Egmont. During his
tenure, he was the host of many fetes and ceremonious dinners. Mrs., Perceval was the daughter of
Sir Charles Flower, a Lord Mayor of London—so
that in 1806, at the age of eighteen, she had been
his official hostess. The link with England was
therefore doubly strong. It was at the moment,
too, when the real discovery of Canada as a land of
promise was definitely made. It was quite 'the
thing' to brave a sailing ship to these shores. Quebec was the social centre of British North America,
and Powell Place one of its open doors. Visitors
from Europe met old Canadian families here: the
Duchesneys, the Montizamberts, the Uniackes, the
Van Felsons, the de Gaspes, Babys, and others.
As visitors walked about the beautiful grounds
they could see the deep blue lights reflected in a
hundred varying tones on Jacques Carrier's mystic
river, the river of dreams, rolling below the high
cliffs on which the house was set. Sometimes a
half-tame deer startled the silence of the deep
woods surrounding the estate. The Duke of Richmond, who visited here with Lady Sarah, in 1810,
said that it was the loveliest spot in all this vast
new world.
After the Percevals  came  Henry  Atkinson,  a
49
5
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
iff
11
merchant prince of Quebec, who carried out the
generous tradition of hospitality. It was from him
that the Government, in 1849, obtained the property as a vice-regal residence for the Earl of
Elgin; and it is here that our valued friend of the
Canadian Maple Leaves comes in, for he, Sir
James LeMoine, acquired by purchase ten years
later, forty acres of the original estate upon which
he built Spencer Grange, and where he lived and
died.
Divided from Spencer Wood by a high brick wall
and fences, the Grange was always its happy neighbour. In Sir James' own quaint description it was
"girt by a zone of trees which made emerald wreaths
when the sun shone, and was oft times dipped in
molten gold."
"The house faces the river," he wrote, "where
the Belle Borne rill rushes down the bank to Spencer
Cove; and the place is a great resort of birds."
What The Grange was to Toronto, Spencer
Grange was to the Quebec of fifty years ago: its
literary mecca, the place where scholars met, the
home of one of the most delightful of essayists and
raconteurs.
Walking on the terrace, we could see the old
Grange smiling in the sun. We thought of a happy
afternoon spent there years ago, with the daughter
of Sir James LeMoine in his wonderful old library,
which contains a rare collection of curios, and vol-
50
 MORNING AT SPENCER WOOD
umes relating to Canadian history, MSS, plans, inscriptions, and views of ancient buildings.
Next to his library and his aviary, Sir James
took pride in an extensive vinery, which he cultivated with great enthusiasm. When the grapes
were ripe he prepared a festival for his friends, which
he called "a symposium under the shadow of the
luscious vine." . . Here, amid flowers and birds and
books, many of the choice spirits of the old capital
would gather; among them, prominently, the historians, Garneau and Ferland.
Most of the members of that delightful circle
have gone, but it is a satisfaction, to those who care
for beautiful old places, to know that the ancient estate of Spencer Wood is apparently destined to continue its dignified existence, undisturbed by encroachment on the part of the growing city of Quebec.
51
 VII
LONEWATER AND ANOTHER BELMONT
w
HO knows and loves New Brunswick thinks
of it in terms of little rivers that rush to
and fro making fantastic and surprising loops.
Coming suddenly upon small promontories enclosed
by these loops, as you sail or paddle on the rivers,
you are always saying to yourself "What a site for a
house!" Usually only cool solitude answers you.
But sometimes, miraculously, the house of your
imagination appears.
Thus with the Coffin mansion, set in the midst
of an old Loyalist estate about ten miles from Saint
John on the Nerepis, a tiny tributary of the Saint
John River. It is a nice afternoon's paddle, for
though a highway skirts it, the river is the way.
Just here the river makes a complete half circle, like
an old-fashioned ox-bow. And the marshland
enclosed in the half circle is swampy and ferny and
wild-flowered. Butterflies rise above it in midsummer noons and fireflies at night, and the trees
lean over the banks.
It is through such a vista that you first see Lone-
water, a house as lovely as its name. Its forbear
was Alwington Manor, built near this point to the
52
  CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
north-west of the Saint John about 1790 by General John Coffin. General Coffin was the eldest son
of Nathaniel Coffin, of Boston, whose ancestors
came to England before the Norman conquest, and
settled in what is now Devon and Somerset.
General Coffin, a daring Loyalist, began his
career as a lieutenant at Bunker Hill. When
Cornwallis capitulated, fen thousand dollars was
offered for his head, but he managed to escape to
South Carolina. Many and dramatic were his adventures, and he was finally sent, as a matter of expediency, to the British province of New Brunswick. Still in his twenties, he arrived in the wilderness with a charming young Southern wife, Anne
Matthews, of Charleston, behind whose whooped
skirts he had not scrupled, for all his daring, to
hide at perilous moments. They brought with
them some black servants, one of whose descendants
lived, until quite recently, in a little cabin in the
woods near Lonewater.
There was an estate of six thousand acres surrounding the house. A large milling business was
carried on. General Coffin was one of the first settlers and a power in the community* It is said that
he entertained royally at his manor house.
Only a stone doorway sunk deep in the grass
remains.
It was in 1832 that Captain, afterwards Admiral, John Townshend Coffin came to this country
54
 LONEWATER AND ANOTHER BELMONT
to live near his father. Sailors dug a canal through
the marsh making a short cut from the Nerepis to
the spot where he built.
Fascinating about these stories of old houses is
the fact that they are linked together as families are,
with some surprising relationships. Lonewater,
sweet and distant, looks back to the ancient Al-
wington in England, and is a sort of first cousin to
the one-time Governor's residence of the same name,
in Kingston. . . Admiral Coffin married the
beautiful Miss Sophie Donaldson, of Saint John, a
great aunt of Miss Lillian Hazen of that city. After
his return to England the property was bought by
Mr. F. Hazen of Saint John and given to his
eldest son on his marriage to Miss Mary Grant of
St. Andrews. The Kingston Alwington was built
by Baron de Longueuil (whose father was a Captain Grant) and General Coffin's daughter who became the Baroness de Longueuil.
The Hazen house in Saint John is probably
the oldest dwelling in New Brunswick. It is just
a bit of old building, a commonplace wooden structure set on brick pillars and used now as a store and
an Oddfellows Hall. But it has resisted not only
time but the various fires that have swept over the
city, since it was erected in 1773* The date is
known because of an entry in the account book of
the trading firm of which Mr. Hazen was one of the
founders: "William Hazen, debtor: To four gallons
55
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
of West India rum, eight pounds sugar, three quarts
of N.E. rum, dinner, etc., etc., etc., etc., and twenty-
five shillings for raising his home."
Farther up the Saint John, on its western bank,
in Lincoln, Sunbury County, is another colonial
house widely known as the Belmont homestead.
It is bounded on two sides by the Saint John and
Oromocto Rivers, and at the mouth of the Oro-
mocto is Thatch Island, so-called because of its
coarse grass. It is a strange spot on a northern
stream, for in summer the vegetation is almost tropical in luxuriance; wild cucumber vines hang in
festoons on the trees, and purple vetch, convolvulus
and other flowers give it a sweet beauty.
Belmont was erected in 1820 by the Honourable
John Murray Bliss, a Justice of the Supreme Court,
and for a time Administrator of Government in the
Province. He built his house of yellow pine lumber fastened with hand-wrought nails and lined
throughout with bricks, making it frost-proof, and
cool in summer. The rooms are large. There is
ample provision for entertaining on a generous scale.
So perfect was the workmanship that seeing the
house to-day, the shingles seem to be as sound as
when first put on—the floors, as leve^.
Unlike most Canadian houses it has remained
for generations in the possession of the same family;
56
1
 LONEWATER AND ANOTHER BELMONT
it is still owned in fact by the Wilmots, who purchased it from Judge Bliss in 1837.
The surrounding thousand acres have been much
divided, but no one has reconstructed the dwelling
"Belmont was erected in 1820 by the Honourable John Murray Bliss/'
which has been the home of two Lieutenant-Governors, a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, two
Judges of the Provincial Legislature and a Member
of the House of Commons at Ottawa—a record unequalled in the Dominion, when one remembers
57
 1
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
that all these people were related and that most of
them had been born, married and died in the same
place, though their various careers had often taken
them far afield., In fact, the strong judicial qualities,
the intensely mental side of typical Maritime families
are nowhere better exemplified than in this fine old
home.
TJi*
liH
58
I
 •*35^*
VIII
IN A CELESTIAL CITY
The little old lady lived over the way through
a green gate that shut with a click, and up three
white steps. Every morning at eight o'clock the
church bells chimed for morning prayers—
chim! chime! chim! chime!—and every morning
at eight o'clock the little old lady came down the
white steps and opened the gate with a click, and
went where the bells were calling.
THAT was Mrs. Overtheway, really the bishop's wife,- and after morning prayers she was
probably going on to Rika Dom to see her dear
friend Juliana Horatio Ewing, the famous lady
novelist.
And it might be so to-day, for, in spite of its dignity as the provincial capital, little Fredericton, with
its elm-hung streets, over which floats the sound of
cathedral bells, is still a celestial city, as quiet as the
crystal air that surrounds it. Years ago a military
barracks provided a dash of martial colour, and
of the precise, long-established social life of the isolated place a romance might be written.
The most interesting houses are near the Cathedral. Below it the street runs close to the water's
edge, and the bank is lined with willows. Rafts tie
up at night along the shore, and the houses all look
out on the water. This one, a double house with
59
 Ill
m
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
bow windows, belonged to Mrs. Ewing during the
sixties, when her husband, a Major in the British
Army, was stationed in Fredericton. Afterwards
Mr* George E. Parkin and his family lived in the
old River House. Bishopscote, the Medleys' house,
was just across the way.
Mrs. Ewing loved Fredericton with its "shady
streets that had no names, and very few lamps, and
pretty wooden houses with pretty faces at the windows". Sometimes she speaks of Rose Hall, on the
grounds of which stood a house occupied by Benedict Arnold. At the creek's mouth nearby he built
small vessels for the river trade.
A house interesting to Canadians in general is
the red brick rectory where lived the Rev. George
Goodridge Roberts and his wife Emma Wetmore
Bliss. Here Charles G. D., the eldest son; a daughter, Elizabeth; and Theodore Goodridge, a younger
brother, all grew up.
Mrs. C. F. Fraser writes of the days of "dear
Rector Roberts": "On winter evenings they were
wont to read aloud for each other's amusement the
rhymes and stories which the day called forth. ♦ ♦
In summer weather the great old-fashioned garden,
haunt of all fragrant and time-honoured flowers,
was the favourite spot. There, in and about the
hammocks, with their cousin, Bliss Carman, extending his great length on the grass below, and shaggy
Nestor, wisest of household dogs, wandering about
60
 IN A CELESTIAL CITY
"the quaint red brick rectory."
61
 \T
m
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
from one to another, with half-tamed birds fluttering and twittering in the trees above, these young
people did indeed see visions and dream dreams."
y
li
62
 IX
A STREET OF OLD HOUSES
I SAW it on a bright spring morning when most
of its inhabitants seemed to be making their
gardens. There was a smell of smoke and young
grass and dead leaves perfuming the air. Lovely,
in this early sunshine, the grassy ramparts of Fort
Anne: bastions, ravelins, embankments, and sally
ports, all unused, and probably forgetful of the days
of their youth when they saw the first ships
built on this continent unfolding their sails. The
Fort was a possession quarrelled over hotly, before Quebec was founded and long before the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth Rock. Today
there is merely a serene picture of hills, water and
sky, grass on the tended ramparts and children perambulating the ancient earthworks.
The old officers' quarters, built by order of the
Duke of Kent, near this last fortification erected at
Port Royal during the French occupation, is now a
museum. It is a quaint wooden building with
three tall chimneys, and a fireplace in every room in
the house. These rooms are small and low-ceil-
inged, and there are four little staircases leading up
to separate suites, so perfectly built and planned
that not a sound carries from one to the other. It
is the first apartment house on the continent. In the
63
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
lower rooms one finds the history of Port Royal in
charts and prints and fire arms, and furniture and
brocades. It looks less a museum than a residence,
so skilfully are its treasures set out.
There is a small library where Cromwellian
armour is placed over the fireplace, against crimson
burlap, and andirons carry out the dark note of the
room. There are ancient bookshelves and a little
square-paned window hung with old red damask
curtains, through which you see the spires of a century-old English church. Mr. L. M. Fortier, the
superintendent of St. Anne, gives his life to the
small precious house. He told me that he had
traced one of the andirons—a beautiful little figure
of Ceres which was found buried near the earth
works—to a piece designed and made in 1760 by
the Carron Iron Works of England. "And the
other day," he added, "the same firm made us a mate
to their design of over a century and a half ago!"
In contrast to this is the clear blue and white of a
transplanted cottage room, full of the furniture and
simple personal effects of French-Canadian peasants
of two hundred years ago, before the days of the
banishment from beloved Acadia.
In the village of Annapolis Royal everything
seems to fit gently into surroundings that are undisturbed by the passing of time. It is modern
only under protest. In the little Roman Catholic
Church on George Street one sees the first missal
used in Acadia. Its edges are the pink of a fading
64
P^H
 A STREET OF OLD HOUSES
rose, and the lettering and musical notation are exquisite. It was carried from village to village by
the first priests. Here also is a tablet "Erected as
memorial of the baptism at Port Royal on St. John
the Baptist's day, June 24th, 1610, of Henri Mem-
berton, chief of the Micmac Indians and his family,
"The old officers' quarters."
first fruits of the Catholic missions, and the beginning of Christianity in Canada." Exquisite small
pictures of the Stations of the Cross by Gabriel Pip-
pett, the English artist, conceived and carried out
after the primitive Early Flemish style, have been
set in frames of apple-wood made by Micmac Indians.
65
6
acts
 I~
!
KM
IP i!
1
Iffi.
Mi
iff
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
The original Port Royal and the first fort, some
nine miles away from the present village, was the
scene of an episode, which, in unique and curious interest, cannot be paralleled in the literary history of
this continent. For it was here, in this remote and
lonely spot, peopled by a few French settlers and
some friendly Indians, that the first poetic drama in
America was composed and acted in November,
1606.
Its history is as spontaneous as the little play itself. It was written as a welcome home to the Sieur
de Poutrincourt, Governor of the Colony of Port
Royal, who had gone exploring down the Atlantic
Coast, leaving one, Marc Lescarbot, a French Advocate, wit and poet, in charge. When it was known
in November that the sails of the Governor's returning ship might soon be expected to enter the Basin,
Lescarbot, as he says in his history of New France,
decided to express the relief and welcome of the
Colony in a lyric drama, called "Neptune's Theatre",
to be played almost entirely on the water. The cast
comprised Neptune, six Tritons, four Indians and "a
welcoming assemblage."
Standing at the Basin's edge where it all occurred,
looking out at the hills sheltering the water, I could
see the little train of canoes setting out. The God
of the Sea in full regalia, drawn by the six Tritons
rising from the ocean to represent his horses, fol-
66
 -^P*r
A STREET OF OLD HOUSES
lowed by the useful Indians "bearing gifts." I
could hear the ringing, punctilious inflection of those
clear-cut French voices delivering the first dramatic
verse ever uttered on this continent. ♦ . Then, to the
sound of cannon and bugle, I could picture the return to the Fort, over whose gates the arms of France
had been encircled with crowns of laurel and Latin
mottoes, the "welcoming assemblage," and the end
of the spectacle in a brief dramatic epilogue.
Following this came another of those lost happenings which bear the flavour of earliest Canada.
Under Poutrincourt's regime the chiefs of Port
Royal organized "The Order of Good Cheer", and,
for all the pathos of their small numbers and complete isolation, they did it well. They dressed "in
full regalia", and each in turn became a caterer to
his brethren. "Thus," says Parkman, "did Poutrincourt's table groan beneath the luxuries of the
winter forest: flesh of moose, caribou and deer,
beaver, otter and hare, bears and wild cats, with
ducks, geese, grouse and plover; sturgeon, too, and
trout and fish innumerable, speared through the
ice of the Equillo. ♦ . The Brotherhood followed
the Grand Master, each carrying a dish. The invited guests were Indian chiefs, of whom old Mem-
berton, the Micmac, was daily present at table with
the French. Those of humbler degree, warriors,
67
 11 j
it
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
II
ml
squaws and children, sat on the floor, or crouched
together in the corners of the hall eagerly awaiting
their portion of bread—a novel, coveted luxury."
This Round Table contained a brilliant if brief
roll of names. Besides Poutrincourt there were
Champlain, who was to found Quebec two years
later, Biencourt, the unfortunate son of Poutrincourt, Lescarbot, Louis Hebert, one of whose descendants is the well-known Canadian sculptor, and
Daniel Hay, the surgeon-apothecary, the first of his
profession who had a practice on this continent;
these and ten others were members of what their descendants would undoubtedly call "the first social
club organized in North America."
i
m
W
But all this is only setting for a street of old
houses, or rather ghosts of houses that remember the
little garrison town of Port Royal in that phase of
tits life when it was removed to the peaceful harbour of Fort Anne. The first desperate fight for
mere existence was over, and it had arrived at a
social as well as a military existence.
Then, as now, St. George was the residential
street. Many of the houses were occupied by French
officers and their wives, brilliant women who must
have found a piquant as well as terrifying contrast
between past, and present: the intense cold, and the
heat of summer; the lonely outpost; the hovering In-
68
-**~
 A STREET OF OLD HOUSES
dians; and the black slaves who were their servants.
Every house of importance in Port Royal had its
wine cellar and its slave room; and, speaking of
things social, it is said that the Indians invariably
sneered at the slaves, and the slaves at the Indians.
"the houses were never pretentious."
Miss Charlotte I. Perkins, in a published paper
giving the history of the street, says: "the houses
were never pretentious. Many were a storey and a
half; low, sloping roof, with or without dormer
windows. A door in the centre and two windows
69
mJmj
 
iii t
Inrl
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
on each side of it. As for verandahs they were
scarcely thought of. Set in a garden of old-fashioned flowers, the centre path leading from a whitewashed paling fence, there was a charm about them
that was very real."
Nevertheless, these toy houses were well built,
many of them with walls set with clay and rushes
of one foot thickness, and having enormous
chimneys and large fireplaces. The interior finishing
was of pine—dark brown boards that shone like
glass—the narrow, crooked stairways were panelled, the walls sheathed with it. In the front rooms
were hand-carved mouldings, and deep seats on
either side of the windows.
There was Hall's Hotel, opposite the old ferry
Slip, dating from 1760. In the old coach days, we
are told, it was one of the famous stopping places
for the tally-ho as it drove through from Halifax. On
entering the town the driver blew his bugle, the
signal for people to flock out and get the news of the
world.
The Bailey House, built earlier than the hotel, is
not much changed. It was the town's aristocratic
boarding-house, and it was "Sam Slick" who gave it
the name of "Marm Bailey's." The Duke of Kent
danced here, and afterwards sent his compliments to
Marm Bailey, who was an excellent cook. Her
moose muffle soup was heard of in England. The
Misses Bailey were popular young ladies, and naturally came in the way of meeting many admirers,
70
 ^-_ '—^-JL-^^   ',   ■    l,~!^g^
 A STREET OF OLD HOUSES
of whom legend relates that the celebrated "Sam
Slick" was one. "Miss Sarah" was the object of his
affections, "but she would have none of him, as her
heart was given to another."
1
.S
"the  town's  aristocratic  boarding-house.'
It seems that Judge Haliburton ("Sam Slick")
who then lived in Annapolis, used sometimes to
take the Maid of the Mist, a boat that ran between
here and Saint John and landed opposite the Bailey
House. On departing he was sometimes assisted by
71
-■'■^-■^^r--^
 ill
I Ml
I
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
Rose Fortune, the notorious coloured baggage-
smasher with her "Come along, Jedge, come
along!"—he, handing her a shilling, with "Goodbye, my black Venus."
There was the old white house of the widow
Cooper about which a ghost story clings. Its owner
had eloped with an English army officer who deserted her. In 1812 she wrote a romantic letter
about the gleaming lights of English cities and
how she could never return to the dark streets of
little Annapolis. But she did return, according to
an epitaph in the old cemetery, and a story which
persists through the generations. It originated from
two friends who declared that, as the widow lay
dying, she asked them for a glass of water. At the
same moment, a negress, wearing a turban and rings
in her ears, glided over to the bed carrying a glass of
water on a tray, and then disappeared. Her friends
were terrified but, ignoring the vision, they brought
water to the dying woman when she replied, calling
by name an old slave whom she had owned years
ago, "—has just brought it, on my silver tray."
The street is full of ghosts. One story has to do
with the Williams house, birthplace of Sir William
Fenwick Williams, the "hero of Kars." His special
ghost was a soldier with a bleeding arm whose name
may, or may not, have been one, John Kennedy.
The present occupant declares that he still roams the
house in the early hours, evidently searching for his
own identity. There is indeed the plot of a best-
72
^*^=H
rgar^frS
 -J£ZP<r
A STREET OF OLD HOUSES
seller involved in the mystery of the tall, magnificent spook, who appeared and re-appeared to inmates and guests of the Williams' house. The
modern sequel, which I quote from Miss Perkins, is
"Come along, Jedge, come along."
that when part of the home was removed in 1872,
and they were digging a cellar for the Royal Bank
building, they found a skeleton, not in a closet, but
in a drain pipe I   A lady looking out of her window
73
 l/"***
-life {;
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
at the time saw a man lift a plank, and then run as
if for his life. The first person in the quickly gathering crowd, one of the old Ritchie family, exclaimed, "My God! It is John Kennedy!" ♦ ♦ ♦ Now
the strange thing is that John Kennedy was a native
of a nearby village who had long ago disappeared,
but this man was evidently a soldier from the brass
buttons, and the copper on his boots* ♦ ♦ It baffled
the imagination of the oldest inhabitant. . . One
young lady carried off the skull, and the boots were
for years in the Judge's office*
In contrast to the ghost who tramped this house,
there is a brilliant Spanish figure out of real life,
Gregoria Remona Antonia, the wife of "Major"
Norman who once leased the old place. She must
have mightily intrigued the ghost if they ever met.
She was a favourite of the Duke of Wellington,
who had married her to Norman and sent her to
this far-away place with a very decent pension for
life. Dressed in bright colours, a turban wound
about her head, and leading a string of pet dogs—
four white French poodles named Jacobena, Puppet, Malta Ray, and Tabby—whom she industriously fed on tender young rabbits—what a note
she must have made among the blacks and the Indians, the French and the English of Annapolis
Royal! She liked to talk of "my dear Duka" to the
ladies of the garrison, but her husband, of whom
she was not so proud, she addressed as "Normana!
Bruta Beasta!"
74
it,
■«.«r7-
■rtflhrtiV
,.-^,
 mm^m..
A STREET OF OLD HOUSES
The home of Peter Bonnett, High Sheriff, built
on the foundations of an old French cellar, has been
pitifully changed from the first design showing delightful Gothic windows with shutters and a railing
around the top of the roof. This latter was overlaid with copper and had a stairway leading to it.
The house was beautifully furnished with old
mahogany, china and silver, which, on the death
of the Bonnetts, became scattered about the neighbourhood. Among the silver was a coffee pot belonging to Mrs. Bonnett's grandfather, a Colonel
de Lancey—one in which his female slave made
coffee and poisoned him, from the effects of which
he died in 1804. "He had foolishly promised her
her freedom at the time of his death."
This house had a high hawthorn hedge, and a
pretty garden about which rumor lurked, for it
came to be looked upon by some people as a treasure
place. History relates that at various times digging
used to go on around the trees.
Port Royal changed hands six times, between the
French and the English, before General Francis
Nicholson's forces from New England finally took
possession. Then the name became Annapolis
Royal, in honour of Queen Anne.
If I lived on this quiet street, and were making a
garden here, I should always be watching for skulls
and cannon balls as I dug my early  lettuce beds!
Looking up from my work I should probably see
75
'■rtrt^flrrf*
 Illftf J
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
strange shadows passing by, especially at twilight.
The more celebrated ghosts of Port Royal would
not interest me nearly so much as a girl in a Spanish
shawl leading a string of poodles, and perhaps the
unfortunate Normana. . . I should hope to see Rose
Fortune. . . And a phantom priest might pass me
by carrying his missal, just as I was planting a
peony. .  . Old Peoples' Places, indeed!
if
If
76
-^F-nrmm
 X
DOWN BY THE SEA
YOUNG sunshine gilding the old streets of
Halifax; snow on the far hills but may-
flowers everywhere; boutonnieres of them on gay,
elderly gentlemen, baskets-full in shop windows,
bunches fading in children's hot hands! Mayflowers even in the ancient Provincial Chambers
where dim, beautiful portraits of past sovereigns
and governors seemed to faint before the crudity of
such moderns as Victoria, looking her plainest, and
Edward VII in a stuffy frock coat!
On the corkscrew streets of Halifax one hears the
tramp of soldiers high up on Citadel Hill; the feet
of pretty girls tapping up and down the lower
level of Barrington Street; and the shuffle of sailors,
negroes, Portuguese—riff-raff from a hundred ports
along dirty old Water Street at the base of the corkscrew.
There is stonework for Citadel and ramparts and
Martello Tower and bits of wall and fences, and for
Government and Admiralty Houses; but elsewhere, generally, wooden buildings, toned down to
mouse-colour by wind and weather. And, when one
least expects it, there is a surprise of old beauty in
lovely bits of iron grillwork, in fence, or gate, or
77
 ^Hr^^ff^'IFT^
 SIP.
11
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
window, to add strength or convenience to a dwelling or public place.
Fire is the angry god of any wooden town, and
fire has swept over Halifax so that the stories of
many of her houses, and others of the Maritime
Provinces, are, like the houses themselves, mercilessly destroyed. But Halifax possesses the most
charming of all Canada's very characteristic Government Houses. Like its companion, Admiralty
House—though one is in the lower and the other in
the upper town—the building stands out in fine relief of brown stone. The back is to the harbour,
the front on Hollis Street. Although it was begun
in 1800 it is the third Government House.
The first stood on the ground on which the Province Building was later erected. It was put up shortly
after the arrival of Governor Cornwallis, and in it
he held a Council on the 15th October, 1749. The
building was small and low, but one storey high.
It was surrounded by hogsheads of gravel and sand
on which small pieces of ordnance were mounted
for defensive purposes.
The second Government House was also a small
wooden structure, but it had its moments! Around
an oak table in its library sat the men who carried
out the cruel expulsion of the Acadians, while that
grim and stern Lord Falmouth, Boscawan, and his
second in command, Admiral Moyston, gave their
assent to the proposal. Some years after, General
Sir William Howe and his staff could be seen calling
78
rSj-mm
,**&■
 !     _
DOWN BY THE SEA
on Governor Legge. ♦ . In Governor Parr's time,
when young Prince William Henry (William IV)
was on his first visit to this court, he opened a ball,
given here in his honour, with the Governor's
daughter—"the widow of Captain Dodson."
"the building stands out in fine relief of brown stone."
Then came the gay days of the Wentworths, who
entertained lavishly at the present residence, and
during the Earl of Mulgrave's regime Edward VII,
then Prince of Wales, was a guest.
You are reminded of all this from the moment
you   enter  the  old-fashioned   hall,   and   read   in
long lists on pale marble tablets, the names of these
men and many others who, for over a century, have
79
 H
I
1
is ;
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
lived in this house as Governors. Red-cheeked and
convivial—the first of them at any rate dressed in
bright colonial attire—you long to see the^i escape
from their cold tablet, and walk once more in this
beautiful, square hall.
If you should be staying at Government House
the sound of the sea would be perpetually suggested
by a great ship's bell of brass, on a wrought-iron
stand, which summons the family to meals. The
little^ ballroom to the left, a modest affair compared
to that of other provinces, speaks of chosen society
instead of society en masse. A shallow, lovely old
staircase leads up to the bedrooms where suites of
walnut and old mahogany are of beautiful, and
occasionally of rare, design.
Naturally there has been a close friendship, and
much coming and going, between Admiralty and
Government Houses, companions also from an architectural standpoint, though Admiralty House is the
younger of the two by fourteen years. It stands,
solid and imposing, and, alas, deserted, on its glorious site above the Naval Yard with a magnificent
view of the harbour. The masonry, the great fence,
the entrance gate and sentry box, the walled garden,
and the splendid old structure itself, looks as if it
might forever defy the years, had not these years
snatched its glory prematurely away.
80
^^^^^^^•^t
 DOWN BY THE SEA
The billiard room of Admiralty House contains
a list of the Commanders-in-Chief of the North
American and West Indian stations from 1767
to the time of the removal of the Imperial Navy
Headquarters in North American waters to Bermuda
in 1910, when Canada took over the dockyard.
Almost a hundred names are engraved on these
tablets, but they, too, were removed to Bermuda.
We tiptoed about the place where utter silence
seemed to reign. We wondered whether anything
on earth could look so desolate as a fine, upstanding,
empty house—like a middle-aged man, full of life,
suddenly stricken. Bitterness of frustrated growth!
At the end of its first century such a building has
only begun to take its place in the world.
"When one remembers the brilliance of our naval
events; the magnificent 'ship-shape' of everything,
the gaiety, the colour, the jolly officers, the dances,
the little romances that came and went with the
coming and going of the ships! ♦ . . Think, too, of
the eras it has seen; first the sedan chairs, then the
coaches, the carriages, and last, the motors that came
mincing, or rolling, or rushing past the little sentry
box and through this gateway that bears the coat
of arms of the British Navy, tied with a sailor's
knot. . ."
It was old Halifax speaking! But we were thinking of the good youth still coursing  through   the
veins of the hundred-years' house of the Admirals
—and crying out to live again.
81
7
f
r^^^^^^jm^
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
There are charming present-day houses in Halifax that carry an old-fashioned air. Gorsebrook,
for instance, was once the home of the Honourable
Enos Collins, First Lieutenant of the Charles Mary
Wentworth, privateer, and famous for his reckless
daring and exploits in blockade running. It is said
that he amassed great wealth through capturing
prize ships. He lived for many years in his beautiful home with its wide lawn, pastures and woodland, walled garden and spacious rooms, and left
his property to his sons to whom it belongs to-day.
j^njg^-^
rrjf^rii«i
'-TiirrifflflM
 XI
A SENTIMENTAL RUIN
THE old post road which winds along the blue
waters of Bedford Basin used to be a tranquil drive. To-day it is a highway for motorists.
A rickety little circular house stands on a knoll of
ground overlooking the water, and separated from
the road by railway tracks. There is nothing to
draw the attention of a stranger even when, on a
brisk day, a crazy little string of coloured washing
beckons airily.
Seeing the washing, we thought the tenant might
be in.
But no one answered our knock. If any one had
opened we should have peered into that circular exterior and probably met squalor full in the eye. As
it was, we remained without, and recalled old stories
of the Duke of Kent, and his "lovely rotunda" for
music.
It was in the seventeen-nineties that Prince Edward Augustus, fourth son of George III, arrived at
Halifax from St. Kitts, British West Indies, to
become Commander-in-General of the Military
Forces. Having been brought up as a soldier, under
the regime of Baron Wangenheim in Hanover, this
English Prince, known as the Duke of Kent, was a
bit of a martinet so far as military matters were con-
83
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
mm
cerned. But he had a sentimental German feeling
for pleasure and so, enchanted by the view of Bedford Basin, he leased from Governor Wentworth a
little cottage, set in lovely grounds, which the
Governor modestly called "Friar Laurence's Cell."
This the Duke proceeded to pull down and build up
until he achieved a sort of glorified Italian villa. He
embellished it by ornamental grounds in which
"charming surprises," Chinese temples, pagodas,
rustic arbors and bowers, were set. Silken brocades,
candelabra, and fine furniture enriched the interior,
and all this, with the addition of the rotunda or
music room, on the opposite side of the post road
next the water, created such an impression, in the
days of its glory, that stories of Prince's Lodge
have an almost legendary effect. Legendary because it has all departed,—every trace except the
rickety little house on its hillock of grass.
"It was surmounted by a large gilded ball flashing in the sunlight." ♦ ♦ ♦ "Chinese pagoda bells,
sometimes sounded from the grounds over the Bedford Basin." ♦ . ♦ "My lady would arrive with her
carriage-wheels muddied to the hilt." ... It may be
that rumours still persist, not only in Nova Scotia
but in Europe; in Spain, in Italy, in France.
Whispers of old grandfathers' stories—officers who
had drifted to this port, when a dark-eyed lady from
Martinique and the father of the powerful Victoria, gave summer fetes to the people of Halifax.
Even the great-great-grandson of the Duke, in
84
 A   SENTIMENTAL   RUIN
his fabulous journeys about the world, has probably encountered no more romantic spot, for the
lady from the West Indies, Madame de St. Laurent,
who accompanied the Duke and "as much as she
was permitted by society" shared his social responsibilities, must have had some strange encounters
on warm mid-summer evenings—semi-tropic as
Canada    becomes   in   July    and   August—when
!■
"a sort of glorified Italian villa."
Prince's Lodge was en fete, not only to the grandees
of the town but to officers and guests from here,
there and everywhere.
It was a semi-feudal existence, for the villa contained its military quarters nearby, "gothic outhouses" for kitchen and servant's use, and a perfect
regime for systematic entertainment; so that there
was an endless clatter of swords, jingling of spurs,
glitter of gold lace, epaulets of scarlet cloth and blaze
of jewels,
85
 ft
1
m
Iflfr
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
In the meantime we stood before the door of the
rotunda.
No one knows quite all that has happened within
this little place. ♦ .Apart from its music and moonlight intrigues it was used at one time for the worship and practice of Voodoo, by a strange tribe of
maroons from Jamaica, descendants of African
slaves, who were so cruel and unmanageable as to be
banished to the rigours of Canada where, on their
arrival, the Duke was amazingly pleased with their
ebon beauty, and not only put them to work on
the fortifications but let them practise their black
magic in his rotunda.
We stood staring idly at the forlorn little place.
A child cried somewhere near. We hurriedly retreated. It was better, after all, that the door
should not be opened in answer to our knock.
im
86
 XII
MOUNT UNIACKE
AND farther up country, some ten miles
away, there is a charming old colonial house,
a family seat, that is typical of its day and generation. \, »3fciii
It is said that Richard John Uniacke, in passing
over the Ardoise Hills on his way to Halifax, was
struck with the resemblance that a part of the land
bore to his father's estate in Ireland. In 1786 he
received a grant of a thousand acres on this road to
Windsor. Later, another four thousand acres was
added, and he built the house which he called Mount
Uniacke. His Indians laid out the grounds.
Gradually a beautiful walled garden full of scented
old-world flowers crept up to the verandah. A sundial was set to count the hours.
Richard Uniacke had married a daughter of Moses
Delesdernier, of Cumberland, N.S., when he was
a little over twenty-one and his bride not thirteen. They had twelve children, so there was need
of all these spacious rooms. And Mount Uniacke
was thronged with guests in the summer, when the
entrance to the Annapolis Valley is a dream of
beauty. Here the nobility, the Judges of the land
and their wives and families, the fashion of Halifax
and its visitors, enjoyed the house and garden. The
87
 iP^^m
folk!
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
Roman Catholic Bishop of Quebec, paying a pastoral visit in 1815, writes:
We were to stay that evening at a superb
country house belonging to Mr. Uniacke, a
Member of the Council, Attorney General,
Judge of Admiralty, etc., who had urgently entreated the Bishop to rest there in passing. It is
nine leagues from the town. We arrived very late
—Madam Uniacke received us with as much courtesy and politeness as an English lady should.
After tea, to each of us was apportioned an immense room perfectly furnished. The following
morning we had time to look at this great house,
with its innumerable dependencies, bath rooms,
billiard rooms, balconies, servants' quarters. Well-
kept groves border a small and rather
deep lake, the waters of which are carried to the
sea by several small streams. Nothing that
could render this place charming had been
neglected. . . After breakfast, which was served
with the same elegance and ceremony of the night
before, our party re-entered their carriages, the
cart received its load of baggage and we left for
Windsor.
To-day, the garden is lovelier than ever, as gardens grow with age. The lodge, which stands on
the main road, by the lake, is used as a tea-room.
An imposing avenue leads to the house which is
kept up in the old way of the Uniackes, for the hospitable door is still open in summer. It has a huge
brass knocker with a coat of arms below. The
hall is large and low with an enormous stove for
hardwood standing on huge claw-feet of brass.
Here stand also a discreet row of twelve chairs for
 MOUNT UNIACKE
the twelve servants of the house to use for prayers.
There are large lamps of brass with long chains to
pull them up and down for lighting, and the walls
are hung with coloured prints of coaching days.  In
"Old Canada stands here . . . dominant and unchanging,
hang   family  portraits.    Every
four-post  bed   and   mahogany
the dining-room
bedroom has its
furniture*
One of Richard John's sons went in for racing,
and called his favourite horse "Emerald," and so,
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
of the jockey costumes that still remain, one shows
white satin breeches and an emerald-green satin
coat and cap. And there is a collection of old-time
brocade dresses which belonged to the great-great-
grandmothers—beautiful old things which are still
good, and in the commendatory phrase of the day
"stiff enough to stand alone," also old poke bonnets and caps and shawls.
All that the passerby on the train headed up or
down the valley can see is a glimpse of white pillars
set in dark shrubbery across a small blue lake.
Nevertheless, old Canada stands there, poised among
the trees, dominant, and unchanging.
mi'
mm
90
 XIII
CLIFTON
CANADA is still faintly dotted with Martello
towers and blockhouses. Blockhouses are
usually the plainest things that e'er the sun shone
on. But at Windsor, in Nova Scotia, there is one
so small and brown, standing on its tiny hill overlooking the town, that you feel like giving it a loving pat. Here is the site of Port Edward, which it
has guarded since 1750. In the recruiting days of
1914-18, many battalions camped here: British,
Canadian, American, the Jewish Legion. New life
must have stirred then in its quiet old blood.
Old blood runs in Windsor, on the banks of the
Canadian Avon which twice a day rushes up its
tidal lane and brings in the Atlantic.
King's College, the second oldest university in
America, was the pride of the town but is now a
wreck through fire, the devastator of precious buildings in the Maritimes. It lies just behind Clifton,
the old house of "Sam Slick", a "small but elegant
structure | a picture of which had fascinated me in
childhood. For my father, like most Canadians of
a literary turn, used to gather in various periodicals,
descriptive of the country, and one of these was, in
his time, sufficiently out-dated to be interesting. It
was called "Canadian Scenery," and among other
91
JH
 Ul?
m
Wmi
\Wm
CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
old-fashioned plates was this house of Judge Hali-
burton, "Sam Slick" the noted Canadian author*
The "elegant structure" described, was "delightfully situated on an eminence commanding a noble
prospect of the whole township." And so it stands
to-day, except that its charming simplicity has been
marred by several "improvements": a porte-cochere,
like a long nose; a sun-room, which providentially
fell to pieces: and an imported fireplace in Judge
Haliburton's old library.
The ancient covered toll-bridge over the river,
just below the cliffs at the back of the house, has
gone since 1886. Until this time the daily stage
coach, with its four or six horses, would come clattering into town at a hand-gallop, when a character
familiarly known in the town as "Old Johnny
Davidson" would open the gates of the bridge and
let the coach pass through on its way to Annapolis
Royal.
And once, the Black Watch Regiment, en route
between Halifax and Saint John, having marched
from Halifax to take the steamer at Windsor, stayed
over night in the town, and a pond in Clifton woods
was given the name of "Piper's Pond," because a
piper of the regiment having dropped his watch
into the water, thriftily dived after it—but never
came up!
In Annapolis Royal, where he first lived; in Halifax, where his early work appeared in Joseph
Howe's paper, "The Nova Scotian"; and here in
92
 CLIFTON
Windsor, his home for a quarter of a century, the
figure of Judge Haliburton is everywhere recalled
by portrait, legend and story. His "Sam Slick,"
type of the wandering "Yankee peddler" so well
known in these parts, made its creator an author of
-P**
§
"Clifton, the old house of 'Sam Slick/
importance on two continents.   It is even affirmed
that he is the founder of American humour.
At any rate, his house shows the author to have
been a gentleman of taste.   A simple structure, suitable to the wooded lands on which it stands, square
rooms,   low-ceilinged;   delightful little   staircases
93
 CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
I m i i
i
leading up on each side of the hall to add a touch of
dignity to the interior; low shuttered windows,
everywhere giving on the sweet plantation of beech
and white maple, poplar, juniper and apple trees—
these make the place as lovable to-day as when it
was built so long ago.
We were told of a famous "thicket of acacias,"
which in summer makes a great bloomy mass of
purple and white. But now it was spring. The
beautiful branches of trees, lovelier than when in
leaf, showed that look of surprise that prefaces the
first green. But going up the dark little avenue
there was still a trace of wintry snow. The tumbledown lodge looked forlorn. Up at the house new
occupants were moving in, and Clifton bore the
patient look of an old person upon whom some
young relation is pressing a new style. But the windows stood open to the tender sunlight. The
youth of the year entered, moving through the sweet
old rooms, and, though there was not a trace of his
actual occupancy left in any article of furniture, still
one felt that Haliburton's house remembered him,
and, like its master, was very much alive.
We carried away a spray of mauve-pink daphne,
frequenter of early Nova Scotian woods, and we
drove over what used to be called, The Kissing
Bridge. . . Is anyone ever kissed there now? We
wondered!
94
-—;^-^--^ ^
 XIV
AT THE  CHATEAU PAPINEAU
IT was hot in Ottawa. But the flag flew over the
Parliament Buildings. Through screened dining-room windows there was a stagey veiling of
park-like spaces. Honourable Members, compelled
to be in town during the heat, conversed languidly.
My more or less willing chauffeur said, as we
lunched, that he distrusted my road-map to Monte-
bello in the Province of Quebec. He wondered why
we should not go down the Highway on the Ontario side. On the other hand, I hoped to approach
the Chateau Papineau by a more intimate route: by
such villages as Gatineau, Angers, Masson, Thurso,
Plaisance.
I have always wanted to go to Thurso:
Where at Thurso first I heard
Natalie, our contralto bird.
"What do you mean by that?" asked my chauffeur.
I had to explain that my guide-book was a little
old volume that few people know: a collection of
villanelles about the valley of the Ottawa, and its
villages and its people, and a traditional manor
house—neglected for all I knew. . . Passing Thurso
Swe might see Natalie's grandchild upon the street.
95
li
 i/^ijr
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
So we set out, and soon we were not well but ill
upon the way of the worst road in Canada. To do
it justice, it was under repair, but the repairs were
chaotic. Every few miles the whole thing was
ripped to pieces, and to our constant cries of
"Montebello?" the workmen, looking decidedly
belligerent, made no reply. By a series of terrific
detours we approached Thurso quite unfit to seek
the grandchild of Natalie. Then Plaisance, where
we struck a good road and made a quick run into
Montebello.
A tiny street lay blistering in the sun. We were
directed to the entrance gates of the manor on the
right, and turning in, were plunged into a deep, cool
wood, through which an avenue wound upward.
We passed over rustic bridges, and saw a small stone
chapel among the trees, and came out into the bright
world again, and on to a grassy terrace behind
which stood a towered Chateau, facing an expanse
of river.
For the Ottawa, hidden from the rocky road,
seems to enfold this house in a silvery envelope of
water. Everything was utterly still. A little
bronze figure on the lawn bent over its dripping
shell; red geraniums blazed in white urns upon the
terrace; the windows were open; the front door
stood wide. We rang the bell, but no sound answered us. Through the transparent screen a long
hall lay, with a view of the river through great win-
96
----■—■
3££
 mm?
AT THE CHATEAU PAPINEAU
dows at the further end. It was lined with portraits and set with beautiful furniture. We rang
again without response. Then we lifted the heavy
door knocker, and, as its deep thud resounded
through the house, a strange wild cry came from
somewhere in the distance, hoarse, agonized, insistent—a lonely, terrified wail. It broke the silence
so horribly that we left the house and set out to
explore the grounds when, coming up from the
direction of the river, we met our hostess, Madame
Papineau.
"I had given you up," she said, "but I expect
that my Spanish parrot told you that someone was
at home."
We sat for a time in a drawingroom overlooking the Ottawa, and it was as though from the very
first moment we sank deeply into the mood of the
house. It is a place which completely enfolds one.
Should you know nothing of its history, or even
the outlines of the old burning story of Papineau,
this manor house must teach you, in an hour,
things that you will never forget, for it is the abode
of one vivid personality.
Everywhere there are portraits of its master: a
pastel, done when the subject was twelve years of
age;   engravings  made  in   France;   a  remarkable
bust, and a full length portrait of Papineau,  by  a
97
8
 PIRi
tm
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
son-in-law, Napoleon Bourassa, showing the trees
of the manor house and the Ottawa in the background. The living-rooms are large, and littered
with exquisite bric-a-brac and family treasures.
The wife of the grandson of Louis Joseph has kept
the tradition of the place:
The glint of steel, the gleam of brocade,
"Monseigneur" up in his tarnish* d frame,
A long, low terrace, half sun, half shade;
Tapestry, dusty, dim, and frayed,
Fauteuil and sofa, a flickering flame,
A glint of steel, a gleam of brocade;
"Mme." on the wall as a roguish maid,
Later, some years, as a portly dame,
The long low terrace, half sun, half shade,
Where "Mme's." ghost and "Monsieur's" parade,
And play at ombre, their favourite game,
The glint of steel, the gleam of brocade.
"How the feeling of the place persists!" we said.
"But the Papineaus have never left it," she
answered.
We went into the picture gallery and conservatory, and through the great dining-room to a back
hall where quaint, almost clumsy, stairs wind up
to the second floor. Here is another wide, straight
hall running the whole length of the house with
bedrooms opening on each side. Dreams of rooms
filled with exquisite French furniture.    One iron
 AT THE CHATEAU PAPINEAU
bed, in charming harp design, was early French-
Canadian. There is a reading room on this floor,
where a small Louis Joseph now learns his lessons.
And from the reading room, a passage leads to the
library tower, a stone fireproof building where five
thousand volumes used to dwell. Many of the
shelves are empty now, but precious old maps and
charts remain. One is a very ancient map showing
the Seigneurie of la Petite Nation of the Algonquins,
upon which the Chateau stands. And here at the
base of the tower, from which ascends narrow
corkscrew stairs, is the desk, still holding its inkwell and quill pens, at which Papineau used to sit,
facing the wooden grill to which his tenants Came.
Coming up these stairs my eye was caught by a
medieval angel in carved wood. I was told that
it had arrived at the Chateau by way of the old
Church of Bonsecours at Montreal.
The private chapel of the Papineaus, among
the trees of the avenue, holds the story of the family
inscribed upon its vaults. On one of the tablets it
is recorded that Samuel Papineau was the founder
of the family in this country. He came in 16—
"dans l'Armee Franchise. Puis colon Riviere des
Prairies (He de Montreal) Mort le 23 Avril 1737."
Four generations are buried here, but a fifth vault
lies empty, for Talbot Papineau never returned
from Passchendaele. If Louis, the grandfather, was
99
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
rebellious to the "little England" of 1737, his great
grandson was true to the vast, disturbed empire of
1914.
Louis Joseph, was trained in the Seminary at
Quebec, and entered law. He was a brilliant youth,
and early, too early perhaps, took his seat in the
Assembly as member for Chamblay. He was one
of those who are destined to become a political
saviour. And his day was full of burning questions and crashing discords. He found himself the
leader of an enthusiastic minority of Nationalists,
but when the war of 1812 broke out, he took command of a volunteer company and served in that
capacity until peace was restored. In 1817 he was
elected Speaker of the House, and from then his
wit and his oratory were with the Nationalists. He
was a thorn in the side of the Oligarchy—in other
words, he was a radical. Under him the Assembly,
helpless in the face of the Legislative Council, awoke
to a sense of power, and when the final struggle
came, over a question of supplies, Canada was
aroused from Gaspe to Lake Huron. Lord John
Russell's order that arrears be paid without the vote
of the Assembly was rescinded in part, but it was too
late to check the Sons of Liberty. When arms had
been taken up against His Majesty's Government,
Papineau, who had incited and inflamed his countrymen to see their position clearly, though he never
advocated arms, was a rebel in the eyes of the law.
100
 AT THE CHATEAU PAPINEAU
A warrant for high treason was out, and a thousand
pounds placed on his head. He took refuge in
France, and for several years lived in Paris. Later,
the charges against him were withdrawn and he returned to Canada and sat as a Member of the House
of Commons, which had been remodelled under the
Act of Union.
"On good days we have tea in the garden—in
the maisonette," said Madame Papineau.
In the pretty, open-air room, therefore, we sat for
some time and talked of many things, and looked
down on the still river, and a schooner or two making its slow way, and watched the comings and
goings of a flimsy little ferry that was shortly to
convey us across the Ottawa.
In the meantime there was a drift of rose perfume
from the gardens, and the hum of bees, the passing
to and fro of the maid with tea, and a soft exchange
of French between our hostess and her charming
little granddaughter. ♦ . We might have been in
Normandy, visiting some old chateau.
"But no," said Madame Papineau, "no, this is
truly Canada. ♦ . Only, a Canada that so few
people know—the Canada of French traditions—
Canada of the first comers. It is historic ground.
The Algonquins of la Petite Nation were almost
101
J
 Imf
all
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
exterminated here by the Iroquois. These gardens
were a part of the Seigneurie of la Petite Nation,
granted to Bishop Laval by the British West Indian
Company in 1674. It was purchased from him in
1804 by Joseph Papineau. The first manor house
was built a year later, and replaced, in 1813, by another on Isle Arosin opposite Papineauville. And
this house was destroyed by fire some thirty years
after that. The present manor was finished in
1850. In 1871, it passed into the hands of his son,
Louis Joseph, and upon his death, in 1903, to his
grandchildren. Life goes on now much more quietly
than it could have done in the troublous days of the
'30's," went on Madame Papineau, "but as to the
usual way of our village, not so differently, I expect."
"Not so differently," we thought, as we drove
again into Montebello's little street, cooler now
at sundown. Shopkeepers were standing at their
open doors. A little wagonette, painted in bright
orange, upholding a stout lady in purple, with a
long fresh loaf of bread under her arm, was standing in front of one of the shops while the small, tired
horse drank from a bucket. A bell was ringing for
vespers and a group of Sisters, in their swaying,
black robes, walked slowly down the road. It might
have been a hundred years ago.
It was sunset by the time the ferryman had responded to our horn, and the river was pink and
102
 AT THE CHATEAU PAPINEAU
gold as we drifted out upon it—pink as the rose that
I had carried away from the garden. The manor
house, gilded by the afterglow, looked impossibly
romantic from the river. The entire afternoon, indeed, had been the sort of episode that one might
have dreamed, sitting there at luncheon, only six
hours ago, in a modern hotel. It had been as lovely
as a fairy-tale, and as incredible. The ferryman
continued the story of "the good family", and a
greyhound from the Chateau, who refused to part
with us, accompanied the little voyage with remarks
in his own language.
So was it once with friend and foe,
Far off they saw the patriot's ark
Burn in the western evening glow    .    ♦    ♦
Think of him now! one thought bestow,
As blazing against the pine trees dark
The red-tiled towers of the old chateau
Burn in the western evening glow.
In ten minutes we had reached the landing stage,
in twenty minutes, an Ontario highway. "Perfect
asphalt!" murmured a relieved driver, looking about
him for a filling station.
So it was over—Masson, Thurso, Plaisance.
Farewell, Natalie—farewell, dark, contralto bird, in
whom I shall now believe more blindly than ever,
though I did not like your Thurso—♦ . . After all,
it was not a dream.
103
 IP
i»
XV
RIDEAU HALL AND EARNSCLIFFE
OUT of the woods surrounding Bytown, woods
that were broken by shelves and gullies of
rocks, and surrounded by three rivers, a lumber
king, Thomas Mackay, chose an estate of ten thousand acres on a high and splendid point. The
Rideau and the Ottawa met there, and he called his
house for the former river, Rideau Hall.
Perhaps the house did not, from the first, play up
to its bold setting, but it was a fine Scotch-Canadian structure nevertheless, built of limestone, and
two storeys high. It stood far on the outskirts of
the energetic lumber and timber village that nearly a
century ago was busy on the enormous enterprise
of canal-making, which was to link it to Kingston and make Bytown an inland lake-port for fifty
years. Ottawa had not been imagined; Canada, as
we know it, hardly dreamed of. Mackay's house
stood solitary among the green woodlands with no
premonition that, as the decades passed, it might
lose its unique identity as a mansion and slip into a
succession of many editions to be bound into one
volume and called Government House. So successful was it as a mansion that shortly after its occupancy Mr. Mackay was induced by a relative, who
wanted to live near the old home, to clear another
104
 RIDEAU HALL  AND EARNSCLIFFE
bit of land nearer town, overlooking the Ottawa,
and build a similar but smaller house. . ♦ And this
house was Earnscliffe.
Years passed. Bytown became an important
centre, then a city, whose name was changed to Ottawa, and, at last, the capital of a new confederation—the Dominion of Canada.
The old house was drawn into all this. It was
not to be an outstanding mansion for nothing. In
1865 it was leased as the Governor-General's residence, and two years later was bought outright.
Then, indeed, its independent life was over.
Official residences are generally either wholesale
orders to architects, or cumulative growths. Rideau
Hall, with not a moment's hesitation, obediently
stepped out of its firm Scotch-Canadian mould and
became the small arena for a succession of viceregal footsteps. Change after change crowded
quickly upon it. In 1868, for the coming of Lord
Lisgar, who followed the first Governor of the
Confederated Provinces, Viscount Monck, a great
stone wing was added, gardens with walks and
ornamental shrubs were laid out, a conservatory
was built, a lodge, and important iron gates, not
to speak of a "suitable cottage" for the secretary.
For Lord Dufferin, a ballroom was added, with a
dais    at  one  end,   and  in    the   ballroom   great
chandeliers were hung, windows were set high in
the walls, oil paintings appeared—one of the still
105
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
youthful Victoria—and a fine "promenade" was
run the length of the new wing ♦ . . everything as it
"was done" in the seventies.
But the glorious eighties! ♦ ♦ ♦ The Marquis of
Lome and the Princess Louise hallowed these improvements by their presence. Indeed, they transformed the new ballroom, twinkling then in oil
lamps that had succeeded candlelight, into a little
court . . . Ruffles and bustles and wide-swinging
skirts, mutton-chopped gentlemen in baggy trousers, bowed and curtseyed before the dais and
sauntered through quadrilles, or spun in the dizzy
waltz feeling very royal. ("We tried to teach the
aides the new reverse, but they thought it an American innovation.").
Difficult for the Stanleys to follow royalty! An
era, too, of trying changes, such as the telephone,
and the new gas for lighting, and the railroads increasing rapidly and going all through the North
West, and Sir John A. Macdonald in power and the
country simply losing its head. ♦ ♦ There was little
time to improve Government House with so much
going on.
But the Aberdeens made earnest reforms. The
drawing-rooms were crowded with puffed sleeves
and demi-trains for morning and afternoon meetings. ♦ ♦ "Are our Domestics happy in our Service?"
. . . "What of Native Industries?" . . . Lord
Aberdeen built a chapel and installed an organ.
106
 RIDEAU HALL  AND EARNSCLIFFE
The Mintos were keen on winter sports, but not
being reformers they left the house, and the open-
air rinks and toboggan slides, and the quaint pavilion very much as they found them, and did not even
put a fireplace into the cavernous waiting room for
the skaters, but kept a sensible box stove for heating, which apparently remains there until this day.
. ♦ Beautiful daughters, and their youthful English
friends, make a lovely memory of Rideau Hall during a regime in which the long reign of Victoria
ended, and Edward VII came to the throne.
Earl Grey built a room that is rather like him:
panelled high in dark oak, crowded with books and
lit by splendid windows that let in the romantic
outlines of distant towered Ottawa.
Then royalty again! When the Duke of Con-
naught arrived, in 1911, the old Mackay house
slipped further and further out of sight under more
improvements. A noble entrance front arose,
crowned by an Attic pediment bearing the largest
stone sculpture of the Royal Arms in existence; an
Entrance Hall, paved of marble; a "terrazzo" and
wide marble steps leading to the promenade. With
her parents a new Princess had come to a new Canada from that which her aunt Louise had known.
♦ . Let hammers ring and changes be made in
Rideau Hall, disgraceful old pile! . . We really
should build a new Government House! , . . We are
spending enough to do it. . . Does the Princess Patricia dance the Tango? Suppose Government
107
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
m
House should ban it! ... In 1913 there was strange
tension in the air... Then 1914... Clear everything
out to make room for the Red Cross. . ♦ The Princess Pat is embroidering her colours for the flag of
her own regiment. Figures in khaki are crowding
up and down the spotless Marble Front—every inch
of the house is needed.
The Devonshires came like calm after storm, and
ready to listen to conversation. All sorts of plans
were drawn up and considered, but none of them
happened to touch the life of the old Mackay homestead.
Then, Lord Byng of Vimy! His wife looked
about the gardens and saw that they might be lovelier. After thinking it over she added the one thing
which they have always lacked, the thing for which
they were obviously intended in a region of waterfalls, rivers, and ridges of splendid stone—a rock
garden. And she did a nobler thing than this—she
renovated the kitchens.
Thus Rideau Hall—a story of changing people
and regimes—a shabby, rambling place in spite of
its new front, a place that any self-respecting
"realtor" would despise, because it has few, pitifully few, tiled bathrooms—indeed not one
apiece for guests! ♦ . ♦ A place of small curtseying
throngs, shifting and turning through the generations, and yet, at heart, a Canadian—perhaps even
a Scotch-Canadian house!
108
 RIDEAU HALL AND EARNSCLIFFE
Some faithful and unchanging inmates it possesses. One finds them standing solemnly all over
the place, dotted here and there through the laby-
"a story of changing regimes."
rinths of rambling rooms: solemn old sets of walnut, towering bedsteads that have loomed over
generations of small human heads lying unconscious
109
\*$
 ^x
 ROMANCE
in sleep, polished dressers and stiff Victorian chairs,
solid old doors, of the original house, of native
wood that gleams in warm reds and browns.
I thought that here, more than in the portraits of
her sovereigns and governors, does the intimate life
of the house silently remain.
When Thomas Mackay built his second, smaller,
house, the Scottish lad, who was in after years to
draw together the floating threads of Confederation,
had not even arrived in the land of his adoption.
By comparison with that of its ornate parent the
outline history of Earnscliffe is brief. From the
Reynolds family, relatives of the Mackays, Sir
John A. Macdonald purchased the estate and took
up his residence in 1883. On his death* in 1891,
the house became the property of Lady Macdonald,
upon whom Victoria bestowed the title of the
Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe. She, on moving to England, leased the property first to Major
General Herbert, at that time General Officer Commanding the Canadian Militia, and then to his successor, Major General Hutton. After this officer's
departure for active service in the South African
War, the estate was purchased by Mrs. Charles
Harriss, who, with her husband, the English composer and musical director, lived at Earnscliffe
until her death in 1924,
110
 RIDEAU HALL  AND EARNSCLIFFE
As I drove in through the open gates on a winter
morning, it stood shining in the sun, for the terrace
windows look south over the Ottawa River and the
Laurentian Hills. I knocked, and, as I stood at the
door waiting to be let in, I felt curiously excited.
The door was opened, and the great entrance hall
was flooded in southern light. I was ushered to a
room on the right, which I knew to be Sir John
Macdonald's study, where stood the present owner
of the house.
"I am immensely stirred at coming here," ran my
thoughts. "The very name of the house holds for
me a lost magic: legendary tales of early childhood
mixed With the first stories I ever heard, stories out
of the Bible, stories out of Grimm's fairy tales." ♦ ,
I was caught in far-off childish things that took me
strangely back to vague impressions: long silver rails
flung over a great C.P.R. bridge, on and on interminably through the fabulous mountains of the
West—to a moment, shivering in the icy woodshed
of an Ontario house, watching a huge laurel wreath
being slowly unpacked.
"Good morning," said Dr. Charles Harriss, coming forward.
"Good morning," I echoed.
(The laurel wreath was prickly, and at night there
was an endless aisle in the crowded Hall, and two
other children bearing roses, and a tall knight in a
fur coat holding my green laurel wreath.)
Ill
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
"Will you come nearer the fire?" asked my host.
Suddenly the present asserted itself. I was standing in a beautiful room of primrose-coloured walls,
white bookshelves, soft couches, a striking medallion in marble of Macdonald—a profile bringing
out the amazing resemblance to Disraeli—a magnificent fire-place, the crackle of coal, the portrait of a
beautiful woman over the fire-place—a wholesome,
peaceful, harmonious room.
"Not so much changed," said Dr. Harriss, looking about him, "—the furnishings, possibly.
Naturally, Lady Macdonald carried off her treasures. Here, in place of my piano, stood Sir John's
desk—near that window. There the daily conferences with Joseph Pope took place; and here,T
suppose, he thought out his manifestos before the
three important elections which were held during
his occupancy of the house. The bookshelves are
his; the fireplace was always here, though now we
use a different mantel. Yes, it is a homelike room,
a place of memories. It was dear to us for many
years before we owned it; as it was, and is, to everyone who knew the old chief and to thousands of
people who did not know him personally. When
my wife heard, in London, that the Baroness Macdonald would like us to have Earnscliffe—well, of
course, we thought ourselves fortunate."
I remembered that this was the study where, after
strenuous days in the House, the family used to
112
 RIDEAU HALL AND EARNSCLIFFE
gather in private after dinner on the few evenings
when there was no entertaining to be done. I had
read that the library just across the hall was used for
more ceremonious occasions and that the great drawing-room, which I knew lay at the back of the
house, was kept for formal affairs.
,*"'-nP
"it is an altogether friendly house."
We sat talking for some time. Dr. Harriss came
in his youth from Oxford, embued with its traditions and those of his master, Sir Frederick Arthur
Gore Ouseley, to make early Ottawa his home. We
spoke of Canadian eras in music and in political life.
It was strange to think of two creative minds, both
113
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
set in frail bodies, working out—rather, under the
circumstances, fighting out—aggressive schemes for
the recognition of statesmanship, and for the academic recognition of music, each one moving nearer
to this peaceful place which was to be his home.
"No story of Earnscliffe is complete without
mention of my wife's affection for it," said Dr.
Harriss. "Her devotion to its cause was absorbing,
and she beautified everything that she touched."
And this, indeed, as we went from room to
room, was self-evident. Nothing was needlessly
disturbed, and the fabric of the house itself had
everywhere been strengthened, renewed, augmented
by some distinctive gesture that brought out its
character. Earnscliffe has a distinctive character. It
is an altogether friendly house, a house intended,
because of its welcoming central hall and large
rooms, to extend hospitality. It beckons its visitors to the allurement of a garden, set, as gardens
should be, behind rather than in front of a house.
The great pink-brocaded drawing-room, then,
looks over the garden, the river, and the hills.
Flaming sunshine lights up slim rose and gold
chairs, and cabinets filled with treasures that would
be the envy of any European museum of fine arts.
On mantel and tables are Dresden china figures of
the most ravishing contour and colour; small glittering boxes of gold and silver and mother-of-pearl
and semi-precious stones; rare vases of exotic out-
114
 RIDEAU HALL AND EARNSCLIFFE
line, priceless fans; tiny ivory elephants, troops of
them.
"One for every European concert that my singers
gave," said my host.
The library, to the left of the main entrance hall,
is a delightfully proportioned room with mahogany
and crimson furnishings. Tiers of bookshelves,
filled with rare editions, line the walls, and here is
the well-known portrait by Patterson of Sir John
Macdonald.
At the entrance to the dining-room are marble
busts of Sir John and Lady Macdonald. One
thought of tibe famous companion of this one of
the first premier in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral. The dining-room has been redone since the
Macdonald regime. It might belong to oldest England. It is panelled and raftered in heavy cut oak.
The magnificent table and carved furniture date from
161 o. There are tapestries heaven knows how old,
and brasses and silver of great importance. An urn
of brass, for instance, was owned and used by Alexander the Great. Behind the dining-room, lying
between it and the study, is the little "waiting room"
whence, in Sir John's day, it is said that he used to
escape to the garden when "hard put" by relentless
callers.
Up narrow, red-carpeted stairs are the bedrooms.
One of them was the focus of every one, no matter to
which political party he happened to belong, when
115
 if IT
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
the most brilliant figure in the Canadian political
world was fighting his last fight in the June days of
1891.
The large room was silent and benign. I stood
by the pleasant window looking over the front of the
house to the entrance gates, where they used to post
the doctors' daily bulletins, and down upon the
shade trees, where the telegraphers, wiring news of
the chieftain's condition around the world, had
pitched their tents. . . The far-away early nineties
seemed at the moment very near.
Slowly, then, we came down the narrow red stairs
to the primrose-coloured study again. How alive the
room looked in the firelight—intensely alive! ♦ . A
room of splendid echoes: friendships, camaraderies,
active aversions, sorrow perhaps, but more than
sorrow—joy!
116
 jpp*
XVI
KINGSTON
THERE'S a flash of crimson about Kingston.
At any moment you may see a Gentleman
Cadet with his cape upon his arm and his cane in
his hand. Motors rush through the prim streets,
but the stamp, stamp of horses, the champ, champ
of bridles, the clamp of soldiers, suits Kingston best
—and a ship at the end of a street.
I go about and wonder who lives here and there,
for the atmosphere awakens interest and curiosity.
Old French families, British officers, men of letters
and politicians have dwelt in this ancient seigneurie
of Cataraqui, and traces of them persist.
Alwington House, lovely as I saw it set in a midsummer garden, was built by the fourth Baron Le
Moyne, which links it with the ancestral fortress
castle at Longueuil and with Alwington Manor on
the Saint John river.
This Le Moyne was a Grant. His father, a
Scotch captain, married Carolina de Longueuil. She
became a baroness in her own right at her father's
death. In 1841, Alwington was the residence of
three Governors-General. To two of them, it was
an ill-fated house. Near its gates, Lord Sydenham's
horse swerved, and he died as a result of the fall.
Sir Charles Bagot, who succeeded him, also died at
117
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
Alwington. He was followed by Sir Charles Metcalfe, who resided there until the seat of Government
was moved to Montreal.
The Longueuil estate-was really on Wolfe Island,
which lies like a gold-green shoal at the point where
the St. Lawrence flows out of Lake Ontario. This
island was an Indian haunt centuries ago. Dark
faces had peered out at stray white men who came
up and down the river, long before Frontenac arrived at the wooden fort on the Cataraqui. France
and England both craved its fertile meadowlands,
hence Wolfe's name for an old French holding.
Carolina Grant, Baroness de Longueuil, lived
here for years in a small house which is now used as a
summer cottage. Her daughter, who had married an
Irish clergyman of a literary turn, the Rev. Antisel
Allan, built Ardath, a lovely limestone house,
going almost sheer down to the water. People
remember it in its zenith as "a dream of beauty."
There were terraced gardens and roses in summer,
and great hearth fires in winter where men of letters travelling this way always received a welcome.
The son of the house was a well-known novelist,
Grant Allan.
On Rideau Street East, stands the house in which
Sir John A. Macdonald spent most of his boyhood;
and nearly opposite, across the river, is the little
abode once occupied by Molly Brant, the sister of
the Mohawk Chief.   And there is the house where
118
 ^ss^
KINGSTON
Tom Moore boarded, and where Charles Sangster
lived; but these are not easy to find. "The little,
loyal rectory" of the Stuarts is linked with the story
of Dundurn, linked with the manor house of the de
"Alwington House built by the fourth Baron Le Moyne."
Gaspes at St, Jean Port Joli, and with many families who are vital to the life of Canada.
In 1870 the late Sir Richard Cartwright built a
pretty summer residence on the site of an old grant
given to his grandfather by George III for service
119
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
to the state. It is a rocky point jutting into the
St. Lawrence, but in spite of its arid soil it is well
wooded. Hundreds of men were employed by Sir
Richard to turn it into a small estate..
Miss A. M. Going, of Kingston, relates the story
of "one of the oldest cab drivers", who told a member of the Cartwright family that when he was
young he often took Sir Richard down to see how
the work was progressing, and once saw the workmen roasting a sheep whole for their dinner.
Here are lake views and tall pine trees, and a screen
of maples from which the house takes its name. It
is a place which so successfully evades the passerby
that it might be called Hidden House.
And about ten miles from Kingston, motorists
travelling westward on the old Indian Trail, which
skirts the northern shore of the Bay of Quinte to
the Carrying Place, must pass one of the most interesting of the Loyalist houses to be seen in Ontario—The White House, the home of the Fairfield
family for five generations. There is something of
the south about the lovely old place, white painted,
vine-hung, not at all venerable in appearance despite
the fact that it is the first two-storey house and the
oldest of its size in Ontario still retained by the
family who built it.
The Fairfields, of English descent, came up from
120
 KINGSTON
Vermont with the Michael Grass expedition of
Loyalists. They brought with them negro slaves,
and lived in log huts until they could build the
"big house." Months were spent in its erection, for
it was intended to resist time and weather. Its
thick brick walls, the deep basement and huge chimneys were protected by wood. The wide centre
hall, and winding staircase with bannisters of black
walnut and mahogany, the hard oak floors and
windows set just in the right places—all speak of
care and comfort and beauty. And when at last, in
1793, the house was completed, records show that
"from far and near came the United Empire Loyalists over the corduroy roads, or blazing a trail
through the unbroken forest" to a house warming,
where wine flowed like water and great roasts were
cooked before the huge fireplace which took an eight
foot back log. The log was placed with a chain
fastened to a team of oxen outside the window.
They pulled it slowly while men guided the log
across the floor to its place at the back of the hearth.
121
 XVII
TOM TALBOT'S CASTLE
¥m
A SAD day for "gay Tom Talbot" should his
jovial but testy ghost still haunt the log
Castle of Malahide on Lake Erie, at news that the
remains of his semi-feudal estate has gone into the
hands of an American syndicate!
More than a hundred years ago, when settlers
used to apply to him for grants of land, the imperious Colonel Talbot would confer with prospective
buyers from behind a sliding window pane, and to
the enquiries of Americans would reply, "This is
a British settlement." If argument arose, as it often
did, his formula was simple. He merely turned to
his faithful steward, valet, and man of all work,
Jeffrey Hunter, and ordered, "Set on the dogs."
Few people recall one of Canada's most romantic stories.
It began at Malahide, nine miles from Dublin, in
a castle that might have come out of a medieval fairy
tale—a place of lofty arches and circular towers and
carved oak ceilings, Van Dyke portraits and an altar-
piece by Diirer, once the property of Queen Mary.
The lordship of Malahide has remained in the
Talbot family for more than seven centuries. One
of William the Conqueror's barons was a Richard de
122
 TOM TALBOT'S CASTLE
Talbot. The name figured in Shakespeare—John
Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, who was the terror of
France. It was his descendant, Talbot, Earl of
Shrewsbury, who, at the coronation of King Edward
The Honourable Thomas Talbot.
VII, took rank and precedence as premier Earl of the
United Kingdom.
In the castle of Malahide, and of this  ancient
stock, Thomas Talbot, the founder of the Talbot
Settlement in Upper Canada, was born in 1771.
123
j
 PH
I
mi
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
As a younger son he seemed destined for diplomatic service, but his imagination turned to adventure overseas. He talked of the new land, Canada,
with a boon companion and life-long friend, a
fellow aide-de-camp of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, one, Arthur Wellesley, better known hereafter
as the Iron Duke of Wellington.
The upshot of the matter was that young Talbot
left Dublin Castle in 1790 to join his regiment, then
stationed at Quebec. He wished to penetrate farther
into the wilderness, into the country fabled by
Charlevoix as "the paradise of the Hurons"—
south-western Ontario. And so, using his influence
with the Duke of Kent, then at Quebec, he shortly
became an aide of the first Governor of Upper Canada, Sir John Graves Simcoe, and was stationed at
the capital, Newark (now Niagara) ♦
Here, beyond "the country of the cataract", lay
the most entrancing of all mysteries—the unknown.
Various errands through the bushland, to Indian
councils, to settlements and villages, and into border cities of the United States, greatly intrigued
Talbot's fancy. He was recalled to Europe on military service, but in 1800 sold his commission and returned to Upper Canada with the thought of founding a colony. It is said that he was sated with society,
that there was an unhappy love affair1—even that
one of the King's daughters had been in love with
him. .  . Anyway—on an expedition with Simcoe
124
 TOM TALBOT'S CASTLE
he had chanced upon a lovely region between Lake
Erie and the River Thames, a place to fill the imagination and the heart, a place in which to hew out a
kingdom. With the skill of an adept court follower
he began pressing his claims on the crown, aided and
"a place in which to hew out a kingdom.1
abetted by influential friends and by the country's
need of colonization.
He received his grant, upwards of 70,000 acres,
on condition of placing a settler on every two hundred acres.   After the first years of difficulty and of
superhuman effort  the  settlement grew  and  ex-
125
 i/w
1
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
tended to over 500,000 acres, with a population of
fifty thousand.
The situation was, and is, as beautiful as stream,
lake and woods can make it. ♦ ♦ Talbot Creek flows
across fertile meadowland towards the lake. There
are great yellow cliffs of sand, and sand shoals extend into the lake. The shallow water, lapping at
the feet of the great cliffs, makes a band of lapis
lazuli against the deeper water beyond. Through
poplar trees one catches azure vistas shining between
their tall, dark shapes.
Woodsmen, Indians and half-breeds felled trees
and broke ground for Talbot's first cabin. Years
later a more pretentious house was built and the
log "castle" still standing is a replica of the second
house: a mere echo of its heyday. A wooden bench,
the only personal possession left, still stands on the
verandah. A small kitchen garden is planted over
the site of the wine cellar. To the left of the clearing,
facing the wide, blue water, are some fine trees,
among them an enormous, wide-spreading locust
imported from England a century ago—a perfect and
beautiful tree except for a huge, fallen branch.
They told us that on the morning of the day that
the option papers were ready for the disposal of the
property it was noticed that the old tree was going
—the Colonel's favorite tree. "There wasn't any
storm that night," they said. "It just fell, as though
its time had come!"
126
 -&*"
TOM TALBOT'S  CASTLE
This appeared to be a sort of rural chateau, with
"a really civilized rose garden," to Anna Jameson,
the English critic and historian, travelling by spring-
less wagon, over corduroy roads, and through the
dense bush in 1836. She has left the best picture
of the place that we have, and writes of orchards and
innumerable outbuildings, the wide hall, where
panther skins glared from the rafters above, "ghastly and horrible," handsome lodging-rooms, and
blazing open fires.
The Colonel kept open house. No one of distinction came to Upper Canada without paying him respect, noblemen and gentlemen, judges, litterateurs,
and ladies of distinction. Once, his nephew,
Richard, afterwards Lord Airey, came to stay for
some time. His wife, being of an artistic turn, hung
Greek lace curtains from the Ionian Islands on the
windows of the half-savage "castle" and changed the
hours for meals,—all of which was deeply resented
by her host. Of the visit of Lady Emeline Stuart-
Wortley a quaint little souvenir lies in the British
Museum, for her daughter of twelve—now Lady
Victoria Welby—was moved to write a diary of her
travels with mamma in America, which includes a
studious chapter on Port Talbot. One of the rare
copies of this book I was fortunate enough to see in
the home of Dr. J. H. Coyne, of St. Thomas, editor
of the Talbot papers.
127
i!
uk!
 1/    IfPfTP
111
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
A century ago Ontario was soaking in alcohol,
but Colonel Talbot, in spite of his detestation of
temperance, used to say that a man who imbibed
in the early morning was sure to die a drunkard!
Therefore, he placed a mark on an outbuilding
showing where the sun should rest at eleven o'clock,
and would sit on the verandah patiently watching
the dial. When the moving shadow touched it Jeffrey Hunter produced the decanter. No business
was transacted in the afternoon.
An English portrait of Talbot, when he was
nearly sixty, shows a florid, good-natured face
the features of which strangely resemble those of
William IV. The costume is homespun (woven and
made by his settlers) a grey coat and picturesque
striped trousers of scarlet and black.
His sheepskin coat for winter was famous on both
sides of the Atlantic, for he loved to swagger about
London in Canadian clothes.
As to the Talbot habit of resembling kings,
that which Anna Jameson calls the most memorable
repartee ever recorded in the chronicle of wit
occurred when Richard Talbot, then Ambassador
to France, was asked by Louis the Fourteenth, who
was struck by the amazing likeness to himself, "M.
I'Ambassadeur, est-ce-que madame, votre mere,
n'a jamais ete a la cour du Roi, mon pere?" Talbot
replied with a low bow, "Non, Sire—mais mon pere
y etait!"
128
 TOM TALBOT'S  CASTLE
We regarded a forlorn lemonade-stand, doing a
dingy business with visitors, arriving to picnic and
scatter papers on the ground, and thought of the
high-handed Talbot. History will write him too
high-handed. While his splendid scheme of colonization and road-making succeeded, in so far as
strict loyalty and the collection of settlement duties
were concerned, it failed, in reality, through lack of
initiative and tolerance.
We had just driven over the famous Talbot road,
leading to the estate. It was originally an Indian
portage. What drama it involved! Indians celebrating with ritual and war dances; settlers landing from small boats at the mouth of the Creek;
plundering bands from Kentucky, during the war
of 1812, moving up and down the road destroying
farm buildings and carrying off everything portable; the colonel himself, driving his light springless
waggon in summer, and in winter "a strong high-
shouldered box sleigh piled with buffalo robes,"
on his way to and from the little village named St.
Thomas which he proudly called "My Capital."
Here on each 21 st of May there was a grand commemoration of the founding of the settlement, with
the colonel as hero making a speech which he invariably ended with an emphatic "God bless you
all!" after which he led the dance that followed with
the youngest and prettiest girl.
129
10
 M •!
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
Stories are still told in St. Thomas of his great
political meeting in 1832—the crowning triumph
of his career. A reform government was in power
in England. The Canadian Liberals—a large proportion of non-conformists, Scottish and American
immigrants, all anathema to the colonel—were
agitating not only a new policy, but worse than
that, the temperance question! Enough! Peremptory orders were distributed summoning "A general meeting of My Settlers on St. George's Day the
23rd of April, at the King's Arms at noon, when I
shall attend." Apparently the whole countryside
flocked in high excitement and listened to a speech
which began, characteristically, with "Silence and
Attention" and ended in the complete routing of the
rebels who advocated cold water and revolutionary
principles. A fanfare of drums, torchlights and
songs of victory followed the magnificent colonel
home to Port Talbot.
Tory, Loyalist, aristocrat—how completely he
has vanished in the general standardization, the
"community spirit" of to-day! Tourists, from the
modern hotel overlooking the lake, will play golf
over the hillsides where he planted English cowslips,
and soon even the rumour of a wild rose, lost
descendant of his famous varieties, will be gone. . .
But the log house is not to be disturbed—"at least,
not for the present."
130
 XVIII
A WITCH-HOUSE
STEP softly over the grass, this is a Witch
House, a little tumble-down shed behind a
hidden road, weed-choked, and desolate. There is
nothing to see, unless a trace of folk-lore is a sight,
or an old legend.
Dr. James H. Coyne, of St. Thomas, had told
us how to find it, and he warned us of the road.
We remembered his words as we slid down a kind
of sand pit, and then, through a tangle of bush, approached our ruin on foot.
"Cursed be all witches for bringing us to see a
log hut," swore my chauffeur.
" 'Cursed' is the word," we reflected.
It is a forlorn spot. Thrice cursed I should say—
the shell of a wild, forgotten phantasy holding
nothing but an old superstition. For the tale of
Dr. Troyer, once owner of this shack, belongs a century and more ago, when doubts may have been
fashionable—but not in a rustic community like
this.
Long Point, about a mile and a half east of Port
Rowan, was originally settled by German, Dutch,
French and British immigrants. Dr. Troyer was a
German and his specialty was witches. Yet he was
a liberal person and believed in all kinds of magic,
131
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
with a natural leaning, perhaps, toward black. And
he did a little mineral-rodding, by which he divined
where gold was hidden. But nothing took the place
of witches with him.,
"the shell of a wild forgotten phantasy."
WW
He came to this part in 1790 and built a log
house, and planted apple trees, and was Norfolk's
first medical practitioner. Tradition says that he
was a kindly man, and much regarded for his vast
potential dealings with the Unseen. His divining
rod was held in great esteem. In 1893 Dr. Coyne
had from the lips of one of the oldest inhabitants,
132
22&
 ~y&~
A WITCH-HOUSE
Mr. Simpson McCall, then eighty-five years old, an
extraordinary tale connected with Troyer and an
ill-famed Indian trader named Ramsay, who arrived at Long Point with stolen goods. In the old
man's own words:
One, Ramsay, before and after the Revolution,
traded with the Indians of this region up to Detroit, etc. About 1790, when Ramsay was coming from Detroit with two men, and his boat
loaded with furs and gold, he had a dispute with
Indians living at Port Stanley where they had
large corn fields, over his refusal to furnish them
with liquor. They followed him from the land
down to Port Burwell and the carrying place, and
from Long Point to the end of the peninsula, and
prevented him doing any further trade. At the
portage he buried his money in an iron chest, and
killed a black dog and buried it over the
chest as a protection. This was Ramsay's last
trip. About 1817 Dr. Troyer and his son.
Michael, having found out by his divining rod
where the treasure was, went out towards evening
to dig it up. I saw them going out in the boat.
My father was the only one I know about that
they had consulted, but he was an unbeliever,
and would not go. The Doctor afterwards told
me that they dug down to the box. He held a
Bible open and a lighted candle to keep away the
Evil One. Michael dug and tried to pry the
chest out of the ground, when a big black dog
rose up beside the chest—grew right up bigger
and bigger, until the light went out, and then
they took to their boat and went home.
It is obvious that the fame of Dr. Troyer extended well along the lake shore, and as far as the
Detroit River.    It reached Lord Selkirk's ill-fated
133
I
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
Belledoon Settlement where strange things were happening. In 1829 witchcraft was at work among
the Highlanders. John McDonald's house on the
banks of the Chenail Ecarte was plainly victimized.
It was riddled with strange sounds and magic bullets and was finally burned. Every effort was made
to exorcise the spirits, but even the priest, with bell,
book and candle, failed to check the evil manifestations.
Luckily, the Methodist minister, the Rev. Mr.
McDorman, thought of Dr. Troyer, a hundred miles
away, and he and John McDonald set out to find
him. Sorcery attended the journey of three long
days. At Longwoods, a thirty mile stretch of
forest, came the crisis when the Highlander was terrified by the hoot of owls, the cry of wolves, and
then the heavy tramp of a vast multitude, voices of
men, crashing of boughs, and the rush of some great
unseen host, followed by groans of the wounded in
the midst of combat and shrieks of the dying.
Arrived at Dr. Troyer's house, it was his daughter, "a sallow, fragile girl of fifteen," possessed of a
miraculous moonstone, who undertook the case.
She went into a proper trance but not before "divining" that John had had trouble with a neighbour's
family.
"I see," she said, "a long, low, log house."
The Highlander listened to this alliterative statement, and other correct personal details with regard
134
 A WITCH-HOUSE
to the family of his enemy, with religious awe. Dr.
Troyer's daughter then retired to her chamber and
after three hours returned with news. She informed McDonald that his outbuildings had been burned
to the ground two hours ago, which afterwards
turned out to be exactly true, j
"Have you ever seen a gray goose in your flock?"
she asked.
He had, he had shot at it with a leaden ball, and
the fowl had escaped. She assured him that no bullet of lead would ever harm a feather of that bird.
It was merely a shape assumed by his enemy. He
must use a silver bullet, and if he hit the mark his
enemy would be wounded. He and McDormand
returned to Belledoon. The next morning the goose
reappeared with the flock in the river. He fired,
and it fluttered into the reeds with a broken wing.
"Rushing to the long low log house he found the
woman who had injured him with her broken arm
resting on a chair, and her withered lips uttering
half-ejaculatory curses. From that moment the
witchcraft ceased, but the witch suffered always
from racking pains throughout her body."
All this is from an ancient pamphlet, "The Belledoon Mysteries, An O'er True Story," written many
generations ago. Echoes still float about, coupled
with names that were once well-known in the neighbourhood.
Dr. Troyer looked upon certain of his neigh-
135
irJ-    -ii "I *
 ?*^m
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
hours as witches, one of the most dreaded being the
widow of a well-known captain in the local
militia. She was a very clever woman who used
her wit and beauty to torment him. If he chanced
to meet her when starting on a hunting expedition
he would at once turn about and go home. Here,
at the foot of his bed, a huge trap was bolted to the
floor, where it was set every night to catch witches.
The jaws were about three feet long and when
shut were two and a half feet high. But in spite of
this defensive means the witches would occasionally
take Dr. Troyer out into the night and transform
him into various kinds of animals, compelling him
to act the part. "One night the witches took him
out of a peaceful slumber, transformed him into a
horse and rode him across the lake to Dunkirk
where they attended a witch dance. They tied him
to a post where he could witness the dance through
the windows, and fed him rye-straw. The change
of diet and the hard treatment to which he was subjected laid him up for some time. It required several doses of powerful medicine to counteract the injurious effects of the rye-straw and restore his
digestive organs to normal condition."
Nevertheless, Dr. Troyer was considered a sane
man. He is described as wearing a long white flowing beard. It is said he lived to be ninety years old
and that just before his death he shot, off-hand, a
hawk, perched on the peak of the barn roof.
136
I
 A  WITCH-HOUSE
Do you wonder that we felt a little nervous as
we glanced, from time to time, at the decaying structure before us? The lonely door is unbarred now
against magic, black or white. We shivered as the
gloaming came and the coarse field grasses creaked in
a sudden wind. "Emptiness personified," we said.
But who can tell? It may not be so completely
abandoned after all. . . Certainly it gave us a peculiar stare as we turned to leave it, for (so far as we
were concerned) as long as it has strength to hold
up its head, there in the weedy field.
137
 XIX
SWORDS AND SASHES
(In the Village of Niagara)
THE Village of Niagara is the essence of old
Upper Canada.
In summer it is full of sweet-william and peonies
and larkspur; and there are carefully-marked old
houses; and occasional meetings of the Historical
Society. The memory of a hero pervades the place.
His ghost, in a scarlet uniform, with a cocked hat
and a sword fairly leaping from its scabbard, is
everywhere to be seen. That he was a noble and
spirited hero makes his hold secure; the life of the
village leans upon the drifting aura of his wraith.
It is true that, from time to time, a few wealthy
strangers have been known to come and build
modern houses; but they do not often stay. Even
the Queen's Royal, which was a social centre for
over fifty summers, has closed its doors; the Provincial Highway between Toronto and Buffalo
sweeps by without entering; and the village thinks
of Brock, and his day of glory and his four funerals,
and every year or two it presents another memorial
tablet to a fallen hero or an ageing building.
The town has had nine names, beginning with
Ouinagara and ending with Niagara-on-the-
138
 SWORDS AND SASHES
Lake.    It was the seat of the first Parliament of
Upper Canada in 1792.    The  earliest  newspaper
"The Wilderness ... a rambling one storey house."
began a year later. After the decisive episode in the
War of 1812, known as the Battle of Queenston
Heights, it was left a "smoking ruin in the hands of
139
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
the enemy." Fort George was built in 1794; St.
Mark's Church, ten years later. The latter was used
as a hospital by the British after the Battle of
Queenston Heights, and by the Americans as a barracks in 1813.
The greatest treasure in Niagara's historical house
is the cocked hat of General Brock, with white ostrich plumes, red and white cockade and gold plated
chain.   Pamphlet No. 5 says;
Since, like George Washington, we cannot tell
a lie, it must be confessed that Gen. Brock never
wore the hat as when it arrived for him from
England he lay in a hero's grave in Fort George.
A letter is in existence written by him to his
brother: "All the articles I ordered have arrived
except the cocked hat, for which I am sorry, as on
account of the enormous size of my head I find
it difficult to obtain a hat to suit me." The ladies
of the Historical Society, Toronto, wrote to have
it measured inside, and the result quite justified
the use of the descriptive adjective as the measurement was twenty-five inches. A military order of
1811 that the ostrich plumes be inside the flaps,
and another in 1814 repealing this order justify
the position of the trimming. The hat was used
at the different funerals, being placed on the coffin
in 1824 and again in 1853 when many old soldiers asked permission to try it on.
Indeed, it is at present what
tattered.
you   might   call
Thrusting the hero from us, though we never
finally escaped him, we went lazily up the village
140
 SWORDS AND SASHES
street towards the camp grounds and officers' headquarters to see The Wilderness. And there we
heard a romantic story and found a lovely house.
The land on which it was built was given by the In-
"Niagara's literary house,
dians "in return for many good deeds" to Mrs.
Daniel Claus, daughter of Sir William Johnson,
and widow of their Superintendent. To acquire
the property they sold a part of their holdings
on the Grand River. The first house was
141
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
burned wtyen the Americans fired the village in
1814. This one was erected during the next five
years on the same plan as Longwoods, Napoleon's
house at St. Helena. Year by year the Indians used
to come to receive their presents, sitting under these
great trees. The rambling, one-storey house looks
like a child at their feet. There is a marvellous
Balm of Gilead, over two hundred feet high, and
sixteen feet in circumference; and a huge oak, said
to have been brought a century ago from the grounds
of Windsor Castle.
The Mohawks, under Brant, coming down from
the headquarters of the Six Nations, could see it
from a long distance over land or water. They must
have thought well of their lordly gift as they sat
in its shade waiting for their presents and treaty
money.
William Kirby, a Yorkshire man, the author of
the celebrated historic romance "The Golden Dog,"
lived quietly and usefully in Niagara for many
years in a modest house on River Street. And
accumulating in his desk, afterwards to be stowed
away for years in the attic, were diaries and documents and letters of considerable importance. Here
are copies of Indian treaties, and observations as to
the doings of the countryside, with some perspective
of the outer world; and letters conveying the pleasure of Queen Victoria in "Le Chien d'Or", and from
142
 -£S»T
SWORDS AND SASHES
Lord Tennyson and the Duke of Argyle and others.
Niagara's literary house is linked by marriage to
one of its oldest families, for Mrs. Kirby's mother
was the daughter of Daniel Servos.
Something wise and old, belonging not so much
to pioneer life as to well ordered family existence,
comes to one in Niagara. Palatine Hill, the Servos'
homestead, some two miles from the village, is a
quaint wooden dwelling set on the edge of a grassy
amphitheatre of daisies. But step over the door sill
and time seems to stand still, as though for a moment you could catch a detached fragment of old
life.
This family was of Prussian origin. Christopher Servos came in 1726, and his son served under Sir William Johnson in 1759. Palatine Hill
was an important estate. The long drive to the
house from the entrance gate was lined with the
dwellings of farm hands, carpenters and millers.
For the amphitheatre of daisies was occupied then
by grist and saw mills, busily at work, and part of
the house was used as a government store. People came from long distances to have their grain
ground and to buy provisions and furs. Near the
house is an old barn in which American dragoons
were quartered for a time. In the family graveyard
lie four generations of the same name.
143
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
It was pleasant to be received by a daughter of
the Servos family, here where old names seem linked
through the generations. To come from The
Wilderness and the home of William Kirby to the
quaint rooms of Palatine Hill was like a little round
of social activity with pleasant ghosts, all connected
by friendship or marriage. . ♦ . Five o'clock tea with
fraternal phantoms. . . Here is a shell snuff box in
"token of gratitude from William Claus to Mrs.
Eliz. Servos, 1801."
The Historic Room at Palatine Hill is full of
echoes of pioneer adventures: an old saddle used by
Grandmamma Frey when chased by Indians as she
was carrying despatches, news of escaped slaves, and
rumours of Assemblies at Navy Hall, when French
counts and their ladies, American commissioners,
governors and their parties, and neighbours, such as
the celebrated Mr. Tom Talbot from his castle of
Malahide near St. Thomas, came to dance with the
elite of Niagara.
This house is still remote, strangely untouched.
The low rooms, filled with priceless mahogany and
walnut, and crowded with bric-a-brac, are full of
yesterdays.
Why is it that no high-set house achieves the distinction of one which appears to be on the level of
the ground? This one feels as though it had sprung
naturally into being, and was hot unhappy in old
age. The very sagging of its eaves is pleasant, and
144
 SWORDS AND SASHES
the lines on its face are lovable. So is the tiny totter
of a step between the dining-room and kitchen, and
the humility of narrow stairs going up to the servants' quarters.    How did they   plan so   perfectly
Count Joseph de Puisaye.
years ago, when everything—money, time and
labour—was so hard to secure? It is difficult to
draw the portraits of these places, for everything lies
in the way that one feels them. The Servos house
is lovely because it is simple, because it exactly fits
145
11
 WW
•SF"
CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
its surroundings, because it is an echo of early Ontario, into which such glorious courage went.
"But we must go on to the Count's house," said
the lady from Niagara.
"Which one?" I asked, as we left Palatine Hill.
"Count Joseph de Puisaye, of whom you may
have heard . . ♦ and after that I thought that we
might drive to Stamford to see the Village Green.
The only Village Green in Canada—really a dear
little place."
Secretly I hoped that the Count lived on or near
the Village Green. But it was presumable that he
was now deceased. And I found that this was so.
He had been dead for exactly a hundred years, but
information regarding him is freely circulated in
Niagara to-day.
He was, it seems—and I should have known it—
a noted figure in Europe after the Revolution in
which he had played a strange part, first in sympathy with "the people" and their alleged reforms,
then, alarmed at their excesses, back to his own
party. He escaped with his life and in 1797 applied
to the British Government for funds to form a
Royalist Settlement in Canada. And so he became
the leader of a forlorn cause. He embarked with a
little train of Royalists, some soldiers and two
ladies; the Marquise de Beaupoil, and the Nis-
146
 SWORDS AND SASHES
countess de Chalus, with their waiting maids. Some
of the party stayed at Quebec, but de Puisaye and
the Count de Chalus attempted a settlement at the
"Riviere de Niagara."
I was told that the house is hopelessly changed:
"To be exact, only half of it is still standing."
The river, just approaching Lake Ontario, is
quiet here. It moves steadily after its shimmering
rush over giant walls.
There is a thick hedge of box, and behind it a bit
of a Norman house facing the river, with dormer
windows and sharply sloping roof. Built against
one end of the house is an old structure supported
by stone buttresses. It has a vaulted interior and
two divisions, a wine vault and a powder magazine;
or a dungeon and a vegetable room, perhaps. The
story is told by an old gardener that there were some
ancient French pear trees, ancestors perhaps of those
. that grew to such a wonderful height at the Baby
Mansion near Lake Erie, trees of a rare variety that
de Puisaye undoubtedly planted. And there are
mementos of by-gone parties, and the legend of a
room lined with mirrors, which in those days was
almost a miracle. A letter from a friend in Kingston thanks the Count for a present of peaches, and
speaks of having bought for him for only a hundred
piastres "une petite negresse."
De Puisaye went to England to finish his History of the French Royalist Party begun here, and
147
 *w*
CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
he never returned.    He died at Blythe House near
Hammersmith.   There was no Canadian settlement.
We were driving now from Niagara inland,
through country roads neglected by motors, towards
the fork of the old portage road around Niagara
Falls, and St. David's ravine road. And I heard the
forgotten story of Stamford, how it was old and
once ambitious; how Sir Peregrine Maitland built
a vice-regal residence there, when Niagara was the
capital of Upper Canada; and brought with him
some military friends, the Dees, and Ottleys, and
Mewburns, and others; and they all lived in a comfortable, old-world fashion with the Village Green
in the centre and the Church of St. John the Evangelist, which they founded and furnished, on the
edge of the Green.
The road wound through beautiful country, but
suddenly we came upon great banks of reddish earth
looming up in queer shapes, and falling back into
soft pink caves that were faintly jewelled by the
rays of the sun. I saw that it was a great sand belt
upon which, in the distance, huge machinery for its
exploitation had been set up.
And all this was once the Maitland estate. Here
was the great house that Sir Peregrine had literally
built, unknowing, upon the sand; a place of twenty
148
 j£^»*
SWORDS AND SASHES
rooms, of careful gardens and terraces and lawns,
and peacocks strutting on the lawns.
"I do like a peacock I" said the lady from Niagara.
"And there," she went on, "is all that remains of
the residence. It was once a Lodge." The small
stucco house on the edge of a pit might have been
a real-estate office.
Stamford was sound asleep. But we woke the
vicar and he unlocked the tiny church, which may
hold a hundred people, and must have been an exquisite place before they removed its ancient pews
of black walnut and the beautiful choir stalls, of
which only one remains. The original pulpit and
altar of walnut is left, the servant's gallery at the
back, and an old alms-plate of heavy brass. The
Maitlands' square pew with its coat of arms has
been replaced by a pale, modern bench. And yet a
hint of the quiet beauty of the perfect little church
somehow survives.
I must say that the Village Green has been slightly
marred by a tennis court at one end, about which
electric lights are festooned. A cow should be
gently grazing there. But one cannot expect too
much.
It was as we returned to Niagara, slowly through
a twilight of misty gray, that the heart of the ad-
149
r
 l^wpM-
1
iff
CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
venture unfolded, unexpectedly, perfectly, like the
sudden sound of a long familiar song.
There was a sound of revelry by nigbt
And Belgium's Capital had gathered there.
The Eve of Waterloo; the ball given at Brussels
by the Duke of Richmond for his daughter, Lady
Sarah I ♦ ♦ ♦ She who had inspired it—deathless, romantic dance—was afterwards to marry Sir Peregrine Maitland, and to become the first lady of a
small Canadian capital and the mistress of a great
house that, it seems, was destined to be built upon
sand. Lady Sarah, who must have sat demurely,
or otherwise, in the little church whose door we had
just, so softly closed. ♦ ♦ Another link in the delicate
chain of intricate associations which bind old countries with new ones.
It was a filigree link. We looked at it, and
turned it over, and laid it beside the swords and
sashes that we had seen that day.
150
 -w**~
XX
"OUR ALTARS AND OUR FIRES"
IF their forefathers in the British Isles were not
the very bulwark of the nation they were at
least substantial beings. Many of them came from
the professional classes, some of them were in
diplomatic service, and there was here and there a
title in the offing. And when a younger, and occasionally an elder, son was inclined or persuaded to
brave the Atlantic and to found a career, and possibly a new family, in North America, it is excusable that the parental stock overseas loomed large.
Families of this sort, most of them ambitious
Tories, comparatively few in number but exceedingly influential, moulded the political and social
life of York. They thought much of themselves
for their life in Upper Canada gave them little sense
of perspective. They had missed the first elemental
battles with forces greater than themselves which
the French who founded Canada had endured. And
they were not exactly aristocrats, merely rather
stiff-necked gentry who had formed a petty kingdom in a raw lake-port at a time when the worst of
the civilizing process was over, and there was leisure
to observe and plan the progress of social activity.
151
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
After York began about 1792, on the bay front
near the Don River, it gradually spread westward.
In twenty-five years it had grown to about three
thousand inhabitants, among them some of the
families who were to mould its destiny. Indeed,
they had already established themselves and built
houses representing their firm position.
It was the beginning of the brick era. The first
brick house, the Bishop's Palace, erected for the
famous Scotch divine, the Right Reverend John
Strachan, was on Front Street between York and
Simcoe. It is interesting that a material which was
the pride of early Toronto was infra dig in the older
and more sophisticated Halifax, where it was used
merely as a lining.
A less pretentious residence than The Palace, a
villa indeed, also of brick, and afterwards known as
Beverley House, was built on Queen Street by Mr.
D'Arcy Boulton, and later taken over and added to
by Sir John Beverley Robinson.
Chief Justice Elmsley was one of the first residents to dream of a suburb, although, before his time
Governor Simcoe had built a pretty retreat made
of logs, a sort of summer house, which he called
Castle Frank, upon a ravine in the present Rosedale.
Chief Justice Elmsley, however, moved from King
and Simcoe Streets, in 1816, to the far wild regions
of Grosvenor and St. Vincent Streets where he
built Elmsley Villa as a permanent abode. His
152
i
 "OUR ALTARS AND OUR FIRES"
King Street property was then used as Government
House. About the same time Colonel G. T. Den-
ison built Bellevue House in the western section,
and of these, and several other gentlemen's residences, such as Dunstable, the original Ridout
house, Holland house,   built  by   the   Honourable
"the Grange was built on the lines of an old English manor house/'
Henry John Boulton on Wellington Street in 1831
—of these, only The Grange remains.
It seemed to have been chosen for permanence.
"Well out of town," slightly above Queen Street,
the great property ran as far north as the present
Bloor Street, and from Beverley Street to McCaul,
153
 ml
it
CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
though of course a century ago none of these streets
had been laid out. It was built, about 1817, upon
the lines of an old English manor house, of brick
probably made in York. The Lodge was at the entrance gate on Queen Street, and there were large
gardens and orchards north of the house. Beyond
that the property was used for cricket and lacrosse
grounds, and for a race course and grand stand.
The Boultons were an old Lincolnshire family.
Judge D'Arcy Boulton, who built The Grange, had
married, in 1808, a daughter of Christopher Robinson, Esquire, of Kingston, and afterwards of
Beverley House. They had nine children, of whom
William Henry, the eldest, became heir to The
Grange. He married Miss Harriet Dixon who, a
year after his death in 1874, became the wife of the
distinguished Oxford professor and man of letters,
Goldwin Smith. In 1909 the house, by her bequest,
became the property of the Art Gallery of Toronto,
subject; to the life interest of Goldwin Smith, who
died in the following year.
So until its latter end it never changed hands,
but how its mood must have changed!
It was always a conversational house, a centre
during its early days for dyed-in-the-wool Toryism
and attendant Tory gaiety. What fine, hearty,
gossiping, convivial red-cheeked gaiety . . . toasts to
the King, and toasts to the Beauties of York ...
great plans for Upper Canada, assisted by good
154
 "OUR ALTARS AND OUR FIRES"
food and drink in the discussion of these plans—
things done as they were done "at home." "Let us
keep free of the rabble," said these cheerful gentlemen. They came to be known as the Family Compact.
Into Little York no ships sailed from far off
ports. There was seldom chatter of foreign
tongues upon her muddy streets, or strange bright
visitors on adventure bent, here to-day and gone
to-morrow. The Family Compact had things very
much in their own hands, and beneath their jollity
a rod was tipped with iron. There is no gainsaying
the fact, however, that it was in most ways a wise
rod, the best possible for the times. To a wandering artist this early society of York, which had now
merged into Toronto, was at once interesting and
amusing. Anna Jameson, the English critic, whose
tender mercies were not always kind, found this
town of the thirties full of contrasts. "Interminable forests within half a mile of us, the haunt of
the red man, the wolf and the bear, an absolute
want of the means of ordinary mental and moral
development, and yet, conventionalism in its most
oppressive and ridiculous form."
It was in a later era that the well loved master
of the old Tory house gave place to one of the outstanding advanced Radicals of England.    A thin-
155
sailti
 \f**W^FWf>
CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
lipped, solemn scholar was Goldwin Smith, whose
youth was spent at Eton and Oxford, followed by
further and prolonged historical research. In the
middle of the last century he was deep in University
Reform, the question of the abolition of slavery in
the United States, and other movements, radical at
the time, which set him definitely as a defender of
"fundamental moral principles." He was intensely
unpopular with the Court party in England, and
was as greatly disliked by Benjamin Disraeli as he
was admired by Richard Cobden. The Jamaica
massacres, and the aftermath of passionate discussions and recriminations, probably wafted him to
Toronto, for he resigned his professorship at Oxford, and accepted the Chair of English and Constitutional History in Cornell University at Ithaca,
New York. In 1871 he removed to Toronto, where
he retained his connection with Ithaca and also entered journalistic life in the small city.
The warm and kindly house took on a more
scholarly tone. Its lovely grape-arbours were removed to make way for the library, which was to
house an important collection. And the room, dim
and gravely beautiful, became an influence in the
country. Few visitors of importance to Toronto
for the next three decades failed to call upon the
sage of The Grange, and the conversations which
here took place were probably as interesting as any
book that Mr. Goldwin Smith ever wrote.
156
 "OUR ALTARS AND OUR FIRES"
Of the mistress of the house in her later years, it
has been said that she was "a beautiful old lady
with silver hair and a placid, chastened face, resembling greatly her brother, Chief Justice Sir John
Beverley Robinson."
Goldwin Smith loved The Grange; even his
caustic pen softens as he writes of the great elms "to
whose whisperings under the starlight I owe some
lessons in philosophy." ♦ . . "In such a mansion,"
he goes on, "lived Miss Austin's Emma and her
father. Only church chimes were wanting to make
me fancy that I was in England. ♦ . .Traditions are
attached to the house, of horses killed by bears in
its garden; of a red Indian presenting himself in the
bedchamber of its mistress; of British sportsmen
losing themselves in the wood in which the house
stood, and being guided to it by a lighted window.
Among other relics of an olden time here preserved
are the wine glasses of Governor Simcoe without
stands, so that you had to empty them before you
put them down."
Those who have been in the constant service of
a house and its inmates through more than a generation have no unimportant part in its history.
At The Grange the English butler, Chin, who
lived there for more than fifty years, is a connecting link between two regimes. He opened the
door to princes and savants, dukes, archbishops,
actors, and governors. He was not there when Jen-
157
,-^fc.
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
nie Lind was entertained by the Boultons, but he remembers distinctly a breakfast party given to Mr.
Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate
States, at the time of the Civil War, and he also remembers the day that Matthew Arnold, and afterwards, John Morley, came to call on Goldwin
Smith. He has seen governments come and go, and
was quite conversant with the gossip of society at
home and sometimes abroad. But he was always
discreet. Chin is over ninety years old, in perfect
health and full of memories. I count him one of the
most interesting characters in this book. "I often
think," he says, "that it is a fine thing to have
served such people. In Mr. Boulton's time a gentleman considered that he had a duty towards his city
as well as towards his friends, and you do not meet
that spirit in the same way to-day." The old butler showed me a letter sent to him by Mr. Goldwin
Smith; one of the famous wine glasses used by Governor Simcoe; and a little painting of "Flossie" a pet
spaniel of his mistress. The picture was left to a
waiting maid, at whose death it was to be sold. "I
was glad to buy it," said Chin, "for I should not like
to have it go out of the family."
In marked contrast to The Grange, but no less important in the history of Toronto, is a humble little
wooden house, the simplest of the simple, standing
158
 JJ!jp»
"OUR ALTARS AND OUR FIRES"
on the southern edge of High Park given by the
owner of the house, Mr. John G. Howard, to his
adopted city.
Here is a two-storey cottage, with a circular front
and a little shallow wooden verandah with slender
unstable-looking pillars, and quaint, white-painted,
wooden swans. Within are small, low rooms, some
bits of walnut furniture, and, a novel feature at the
time in which it was built, a bath with taps for hot
and cold water. But in spite of its simplicity it is
an architect's house, and fits perfectly into the sweet
little old-fashioned garden surrounding it.
Just beyond the garden and the motor roads that
now wind up from the Lakeside Drive there is a
rather imposing tomb; a granite cairn, surmounted
by a marble cross, and enclosed by a portion of the
massive iron railing which once surrounded St.
Paul's Cathedral in London. Here is the homesick
note, the note of England, the one bit of sentiment
in a remarkable story of a man's enterprise and
genius for construction.
Close to the house is its most interesting feature,
a picture gallery formerly filled with drawings,
sketches and plans made by Mr. Howard and his
wife, who was a fair amateur artist. And behind
the picture gallery is an old coach house, which still
contains a "chariot" brought to Toronto in the thirties by a Major Tullock. It was built in London
for the famous Mrs. Trollope "to convey her from
159
|
 |#HSP^!F
ri
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
place to place in England to give her Shakespearean
readings." The garnet damask lining of cushions,
the fittings for cards, portmanteau, and perfumes,
the folding steps, so exquisitely carpeted, all make
one long to see the dramatic lady setting forth upon
her recital tours.
In his little known diary, of which very few
copies remain, one reads a story in miniature of the
life of Howard. It is the story of a strange, long
voyage on one of those terrible sailing ships where
people often died of seasickness, or slept with a
pistol under the pillow because it was the fashion
of sailors to mutiny in mid-ocean; a story of fogs
which might mean death, and calms which certainly
meant starvation; and at last the sight of the St.
Lawrence with great rocks running out into the sea,
and warm wind off the land and the perfume of
strange flowers. Then the long journey up the
river, and worse perils than those of ocean, for now
the crew could get liquor enough to keep them permanently drunk, and cholera was raging up and
down the settlements on the shore. . . At last Quebec, Montreal, and York. . . The first entry on landing reads;
Arrived at York at 6 a.m. on the 14th September, 1832, eleven weeks and three days from
London. After landing I began to inquire the
best mode of reaching Goderich. Going up
Church Street from the landing place I was much
surprised to see in a huckster's window a very
handsome carving knife and fork for sale, which
160
 *3£spt
"OUR ALTARS AND OUR FIRES"
I had given as a present to my brother-in-law
before he left England. Going into the shop
judge of my surprise to find my wife's sister
whom I believed to be in Goderich. She looked
half-starved. One child was dead and the other in
a wretched state. My first act was to call in a
doctor.
The diary for the next ten years is an amazing
chronicle.   Plans for almost every building of im-
"wearing carelessly the picturesque old cape."
portance, public or private, in York and in the later
Toronto and, indeed, within a radius of a hundred
miles* seem to have been the work of John G.
Howard. He was rewarded for the greatest of
gambles, which lay in the hope that a crude young
town in Upper Canada might provide a living, not
to speak of scope for the powers, of an English archi-
161
12
r^
 m
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
tect of ability, who had been a student in a well-
known London firm, and had his first experience in
assisting in the rebuilding of Leeds Castle. In this
new country his tireless industry and invention are
beyond anything on record to-day. Most of the residences and public buildings that he planned and
superintended were designed for the old Toronto
that lingered about the water-front, when King and
Wellington, and Frederick Streets, and Park Lane
were fashionable centres, and Queen Street was still
far north. His little Toronto has vanished completely, and with it most of his architectural designs,
but not the trackless forest of which he writes so
simply and affectionately:
They have conferred upon me the title of Forest
Ranger since I conveyed 120 acres of land to this
city as a public park forever. Colborne Lodge and
its forty-five acres will follow at my death. I
have made improvements in the park, forming
roads, making drains, surveying the land and clearing underbrush. I have also drawn plans of
wharves and bridges, and erected a station on the
Lake shore for the benefit of women and children
waiting for the trains. The rest of my time has
been spent in making thirty-six water-colour
sketches of the Grenadier Pond and Old Indian
Trail and Lovers' Walk. These are in a portfolio
in the drawing room.
There is a portrait by Berthon of Mr. Howard at
the age of eighty. It shows him serene and dignified, wearing carelessly the picturesque old cloak that
he enjoyed describing as "fifty years old and a little
162
11
 jMPf
"OUR ALTARS AND OUR FIRES"
over." And it contains the same delightful quality
as the humble little house and the imperishable
acres of wild wood that surround it—a certain freedom of spirit, a splendid, calm detachment.
"set apart from other Tory houses of its day."
It was in the thirties that a young Colonel of
Militia in Upper Canada, a member and sometime
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, was knighted
for his efforts to put an end to the Mackenzie Rebellion, and so became Sir Allan Napier MacNab.
He was descended from an old family who owned
a place called Dundurn in Perthshire, Scotland;
163
r
I
s-Ha
 I/"*
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
hence the name of the ambitious structure which he
erected upon the banks of the bay at Hamilton.
It was always a self-complacent house with a bit
of a swagger about it, but set apart from other Tory
houses of its day because it was, at the time, extravagantly picturesque. The Scottish Dundurn
stood in simple dignity beside Loch Erne. There
was no simple dignity about its namesake on this
robust bay. Its columned porte-cochere led, and
leads to-day, into a wide marble hall paved in
mosaic of blue and white tile. The drawingrooms
are impressive. Buffet bows to buffet across a massive dining room. The billiard room and bowling
alley enclose a beautiful courtyard with terraces beyond. The stable buildings and yard are to-day
as fine as anything to be seen in Canada. The
family burying-ground, with its massive iron railing, lay on one of the terraces silently awaiting the
honour of receiving the mortal remains of the Mc-
Nabs. To the right of the plot, discreetly removed,
is a small building, of interesting architecture. It
was Sir Allan's Little Theatre, about which strange
stories linger, having to do with hunting bouts
when Dundurn was en fete, packed full of gay gentlemen whose ladies were not always permitted to
view the private performances which took place in
the Little Theatre.
The  pompous   porte-cochere is at the back   of
the house.   The front faces the bay, and there is a
164
 -&?**
"OUR ALTARS AND OUR FIRES"
touch of distinction in the shallow pillared verandah which runs across the centre, with its odd railings, an intertwined design of Maltese Crosses and
Sacred Hearts.
It was on this verandah that the MacNab, glorious in his swaying kilts, received a young Prince of
Wales, afterwards Edward the VII, and many a
grandee. Here his eldest daughter was married
in 1855 to Viscount Bury, afterwards the Earl of
Albermarle, whose daughter, Lady Susan Townley,
proved a small storm-centre to the British Foreign
Office because of her alleged notorious indiscretions
during and after the Great War.
It is an ambitious old story, born of days
when it was easy to impress a struggling community with a sense of influence and of grandeur.
Allan MacNab made the most of everything: of his
ancestry—although his grandfather of the original
Dundurn was neither more nor less than an officer
in the Black Watch, and his father, a Lieutenant
Dragoon and aide-de-camp of Governor Simcoe—
of his love of country; and above all, of his kindling
loyalty.
At the time of the American invasion of York in
1813, young Allan was fifteen years old. The family
were living in York, so the two MacNabs, father and
165
 ' >^**#**
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
son, arrayed themselves side by side in defence of
"our altars and our fires." That, without chance
of striking a blow, they were shortly hurrying with
the defeated ranks to Kingston was not their fault.
The next year, under Sir George Prevost, we find
our youth, "with his foot upon the blade of his
sword" snapping it in two to show his protest
against his leader. He was a born actor, and he
could afford to play a part, for he was sure of himself, his position, and his party. Nothing on earth
could daunt him. He courted danger, and danger's
little gadfly, debt, he simply waved aside. It was
said of him that he was designed by fortune to move
in the circles of fashion for he was "dipped in debt
and made a merit of telling." Why not indeed,
when to relate one's woe so often brings assistance?
His father had several times been cast into a debtors'
prison only to be extricated by his friends, in defiance of boorish traders. He, himself, in his youth,
was only too familiar with that charitable institution of York, "The Limits," a sort of lordly bail, for
gentlemen who were in temporary embarrassment.
A succession of posts, painted blue, and tipped with
a dab of white, were planted about the town at a
certain distance from the old jail, beyond which the
embarrassed might not with safety promenade. All
the best people living within the restricted area it
was a simple matter to pursue the even tenor of
one's way within "The Limits."
166
 jgg»*
"OUR ALTARS AND OUR FIRES"
And so, fortune favouring him at every step,
and he mounting on the shoulders of one rebellion
and another; and making speeches, and giving dinners; and being imprisoned falsely by William
Lyon Mackenzie, and so becoming, most profitably,
a martyr as well as a bon vivant; and then building
Dundurn, a place which so magnificently set off his
social ambitions, his martial stride and his tartan
waistcoat; what else could happen, in the ordinary
course of events but knighthood, and "The Thanks
of Her Majesty and the Provincial Legislature" ?
And then the Speaker's Chair, and England, as
representative of the Tories on certain questions
with regard to the Rebellion Losses Bill, and a tiff
with Mr. Gladstone, and then more political experience, and further honours.
At this time one of the most astute of the younger
members of the 'Cabinet was one, John A. Macdonald, whom he called "my active young lieutenant."
On retiring from office he was created a baronet,
with further royal thanks.
There are three women in the story. His first
wife was the daughter of Lieutenant Daniel Brooke,
of Kingston. Her eldest son died but she left a
daughter. His second wife was Mary Stuart, one
of the daughters of the old Kingston rectory, that
over a hundred years ago sent out so many distinguished sons and daughters. This Mary Stuart
lived up to her name and tradition, for it was her
167
^i-^l^-r^— ^^.^ ,.H^ .^.i n -ip,^, |
 CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
eldest daughter who became the Countess of Alber-
marle.
The symbolic railing of the upper verandah at
the front of Dundurn, carved in hearts and crosses,
has been noted. It was not accidentally placed.
After his wife's death in 1846, Sir Allan accorded
a home to his brother's widow, a zealous Roman
Catholic, who acquired a great influence over him in
his declining years. She introduced the railing.
Nevertheless, he remained loyal to the Anglican
faith. But the extraordinary circumstances which
followed his death made a drama that was recounted all over Upper Canada for at least a generation.
In a phrase of the sixties, "no sooner had breath
left his body before startling reports began to circulate" ... He had, while unconscious during his
last hours, received the Roman Catholic bishop. . .
His body was to be "taken" by that Church for
burial ♦ ♦ ♦ All of which was celebrated by poster,
and by speech in public places. Explanations by
the lady and the bishop were brushed aside. Furious editorials were written, and the famous Grave
Scene cartoon, afterwards suppressed, in which appeared His Satanic Majesty, a bishop, a clergyman,
and several ladies—accompanied by a key to the
names—was sold in thousands. Many people
gathered for the funeral. ♦ . Friends of the
family, assembled in the marble hall of Dundurn,
waited to see and hear who would officiate at the
168
 ~T&**-
"OUR ALTARS AND OUR FIRES"
service. ♦.. Shortly they were seen retreating in choleric haste. ... In a few moments not half a dozen
persons were standing in the hall. . ♦ ♦ Nothing is
chronicled as to the crowd without, but it is certain
that Sir Allan was never more triumphantly a public man than in his last moments.
I considered it all as I stood looking at old china,
and stuffed animals, and pictures of local interest in
the spacious rooms of Dundurn, which is now a
museum. Many shabby persons about me were
eyeing the treasures encased on all sides as listlessly
as I. I wondered anew where all the jaded birds
with moulting wings who gather daily in such
places live when museum doors close in the evening
and they must go home.
I was depressed by the present Dundurn, and I
frankly said as much to its curator who had so
patiently taken me upstairs and down, and shown
me black walnut doors, and wainscotting and
marble mantels.
"After the city took the place over," she volunteered, "it became a Deaf and Dumb Institution for
a time."
I am afraid I interrupted her there. It was something better left out. I turned to go. But she followed me to the grandiose porch, where noisy little
motor cars filled with tourists were drawing up.
169
3i£«3ffi3«**a
 I
if!
i
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
She beckoned me to the side of the house where the
great billiard room and bowling alley lie, and
where, beyond the terrace, the bright bay shines forever on the hurrying visitors to Dundurn.
"I was standing here one day," she said, "it was
not so very long ago, when I saw a tall handsome
young fellow strolling around and looking most
interested at everything. When I went back to
my little table in the hall, he followed me. 1 have
heard/ he said, 'that the family burying-ground
was over there by the terrace. I can't find it.' 'You
wouldn't,' said I, 'for when the city took over Dundurn the private cemetery was closed.'
"He asked me to show him where the plot had
been, and he stood looking at it for a long time.
Something about him made me wonder, and then
he turned and said to me, 1 don't know how I'm
going to tell my mother this.' ♦ ♦
"It turned out that he was the present Alber-
marle," the curator concluded, "so I gave him the
old key of the enclosure. He said he would take
that home to his mother."
170
 XXI
CHIEFSWOOD
IN autumn the grain fields of Ontario are waving
in brazen tides that creep up to the door sills of
comfortable farm houses and huge barns.
Through a meadow valley the Grand River cuts a
deep blue path among the fields. We stopped at a
village for gasoline and asked if we were near Brant-
ford.
"Quite near. You will see the Chief's house to
your left as you go along. It is about ten miles
from the city—the old Johnson place, facing the
Reserve. See that strip of land on the other side of
the river? Old Reserve of the Six Nations. A
country by itself. You can get over by the ferry
just below Chiefswood. There's an Indian will
take you if you use your horn."
So instructed, we found an old house standing in
a wide field facing the river, and separated from it
by a slope of magnificent trees. We opened the
rickety gate and a flurry of chickens rose before our
feet. We saw an English residence, plain in line,
with long French windows, and walls that have
been washed with a deep cream plaster. We came
slowly up a grass-grown path and knocked at the
door. A young woman appeared, and there were
171
pfe
 \W^m^
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
children close behind her. "My husband raises
chickens" she said, "so you can see that we do not
attempt to keep up the grounds. So far as the interior goes there is just a trace of the Johnson occupation. ♦ .. There is the old stone fireplace in what
was, we suppose, the reception room. ♦ ♦ Here is a
walnut sideboard—a wonderful piece. ♦ ♦ This, we
think, was the front door and, see, the bannister is
solid walnut."
It looked as though it were polished every day,
so beautiful was the initial finish. We followed the
exquisite  satin bannister up the stairs.
"This was the room in which Pauline Johnson
was born," said the tenant. It is a square room
overlooking the valley. "And here is something
that may interest you. This cupboard door ♦ ♦ .
look at the sentence written here upon it, either by
Pauline or her sister." Faintly written in lead pencil, we read; "Walnut from seed between woodshed
and barn, 1861."
"They must have loved the place!" went on the
woman reflectively.
Yes, one loves a place where one has seen the trees
grow, out of which one's doors are hewn.
Chiefswood was built nearly a hundred years
ago, as the wedding gift of Onwanonsyshon, Chief
Johnson, to his English wife, who was of the
family of Howells, of which the American, William
Dean, was a member. Plank was laid on plank,
172
M
 -&!**
CHIEFSWOOD
the finest lumber being used, with no hammering of
nails but by pegs driven into auger holes as in
David's Temple, that monument "to light and
beauty", in the village of Sharon, Ontario.
"the wedding gift of Chief Johnson to his English wife."
One remembered stories of the life of the Chief's
daughters, educated by their mother, and then at a
public school, with some penalty to pay for a dif-
173
8
I
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
ference; the difference of the "cross of red and
white." Averted glances, perhaps, for these young
people whose home faced a Government Reserve
comprised of many Indians over whom their father
was chief.
Years afterwards in England, in her gorgeous native dress, Pauline Johnson charmed London society by the reading of poems that told of lost
causes, and old heroisms; poems that sang strange
and pagan tunes. Into them, Chiefswood, soft old
English house fronting the Reserve, must have entered; the house where she was Tekahionwake, tribal princess of the Mohawks.
After her London experience, in days when western travel in Canada was difficult, she went barnstorming in crude villages and among camps, and in
smug young cities of the plains. On the Pacific
Coast she found a new home. To the Capilano
Indians, she was "great poet and princess", and in
Vancouver* at the last, she lived and died. As the
constant stream of tourist-buses and motors wind
through the aisles of Stanley Park, the drivers stop
to let visitors go down a woodland path by the sea,
where Siwash Rock is profiled against the sky, and
a stone is set up with an Indian girl's face cut into
it. There is a little drinking fountain below the
stone, where flowers or garlands of leaves and ferns
are always to be found.
But in her native province there is only this fad-
174
 CHIEFSWOOD
ing house on the edge of the Reserve, with strangers
leasing it.
Down a bit of rough road, then, to the river's
edge ... a blast of the horn, and almost at once the
Indian ferryman with his raft. As we floated softly
over the river we asked our way through this unknown   country.     The   ferryman    was   evasive.
"You'd better go over and see Mr. S 1," he said.
"He's a councillor, he can tell you all about the Reserve."
"Is he an Indian?"
"Nobody but Indians here!"
"The name sounds German."
"Well, some Germans marry with the Indians
once. Very clever, those Germans, they make the
land pay."
"Does your friend approve of Longhouses?"
The ferryman laughed. "Oh, you ask him
about them pagan Indians!"
We took careful note of the direction of the
councillor's farm, and over narrow country roads
we set out to find it. . ♦ In a moment we had entered a primitive region separated by a hundred
years from the highway just behind us. Faintly
one recalled certain neglected sections of the State
of Kentucky, but only faintly, for there, brick houses
are sometimes found among the negro cabins. Here
one drives for miles and only log houses or un-
175
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
painted shacks are in evidence. Sometimes we saw
grass-thatched barns; sometimes an old well; or a
primitive punt; once a quaint little enclosed graveyard; and several times low wooden structures
which we thought were Longhouses. Horses and
buggies driven by sombre youths jogged slowly
along the narrow roads. Often across an open doorway the figure of a man sprawled,—relaxed and
supine in the sun.
After a time we arrived at a prosperous line of
barbed wire enclosing broad fields of grain. A
small house and large barn topped a little hill, and
toiling up the lane leading thereto we came upon
a dark stout gentleman in a yellow linen dust-coat,
with a small valise in his hand industriously puffing
along.
"Give you a lift?" we asked.
"You may," responded the gentleman, and
opened the door of the car and entered solemnly.
"Going up to Mr. S t's?" we asked hopefully, for we were not altogether sure of our bearings.
"I've walked all the way out from Brantford,"
he replied, "you friends of Mr. S 1?"
"Just visitors," we answered him. "Do you belong to the Reserve?"
"Yes—I belong. But I been away. All my
people belong. We don't have no outsiders here
you know," he added, lest false hopes should be
176
J
 CHIEFSWOOD
raised. We explained the situation, and he promised
on our arrival at the house to find Mr. S 1 and
send him to us if possible.
We awaited the great man, gazing with interest
at a crayon of a (probably deceased) soldier in full
"Indians talk-talking in a wooden Longhouse.
modern regalia sunning itself against a large stone
in the front yard.
Mr. S— 1 presently  emerged, an elderly half-
breed in tweed trousers  and  a  purple  shirtwaist.
177
13
t
f\
_j£
 f
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
Like most celebrities he made his position quite definite at once.
"Well, folks," he said kindly, extending to each
a firm brown hand, "I got a party on inside. I can't
talk long, but what you want to know?"
It sounded the ominous note of brevity. Whereupon we praised Chiefswood and Pauline Johnson.
That was a success.   Sympathy flashed into the eye
of Mr. S 1.    He admitted that  the  Johnsons
were "big people." He acknowledged that Pauline
was a poet—though, for himself, he had never seen
her books. "I'm too busy," he said, "with work on
this farm.   Big farm, you see!"
Something of the German pioneer spirit looked
out of his shrewd eyes.
"Other places here look small compared to
yours."
"Yes, they are smaller," he agreed, "originally
there were about five thousand Indians here and they
were given ten acres each by the Government. But
some people farm more than that, for, while we cannot buy any land, we can buy or sell to any man the
improvements that we make. This is good enough
soil—but it's hard to make the Indians cultivate it."
Again the German in him spoke.
"What about the future of the Reserve?" we
asked.
"Oh, good future—good future. Have you
seen Ossweken?"
178
J
 CHIEFSWOOD
"Do you mean the village?"
"Yes—we got two churches there, and big Council House."
"Is there a Longhouse too?"
He looked inquiry then, and his face darkened.
"Yes—four Tom-fool Longhouses are still on the
Reserve. That is pagan Indians' work. They make
all the trouble—all our trouble at Ottawa is pagan
trouble. They talk, talk—all the time in Mohawk—night after night—talking, talking. Time
Longhouses were closed up now. That old system
is just about done. We should all speak English,
like they do in schools and Council Houses. Very
big Council House in Ossweken—you better see it."
We asked about the present working regime of
the Reserve.
"The Council men used to be chiefs. Now we
carry on business in English. We take some of our
business to the Government at Ottawa—Indian
Department. We discuss many things there. It is
a very interesting thing to be in the Council, Indian
affairs are not dead yet you know—not by a long
way."
But we could see that our host was getting restless., He glanced often and anxiously at the house,
from whence the sound of guttural voices proceeded.
We hurried the next question.
"Do the pagans try to interfere with the Councillors?   Just who are the pagans?"
179
J
 9
CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
"Pagans?" in haughty disdain, "pagans are old
stuff. They believe this country is still ours, still
Indian. They want to possess the money in the
hands of the Government for the whole Reserve.
Big fund there, more than a million dollars. The
pagans want the fund money more than its interest
which goes on all the time. . . Talk, talk, talk—all
in Mohawk. . . You wait ten, twenty years—no
more Indian talk then. All English!... . Well, I got
a party on. I guess I got to go now. Glad to see
you folks. You look all around, and come back
and talk to me again some day. You go to see Oss-
weken—fine Council House there."
With another grave handshake we were dismissed.
Through a long dusty road, between little farms
where bulrushes and swamp weeds made contrasting colours in corners of many a neglected field, we
finally emerged on the edge of the village.
Here were a few houses more prosperous than
any we had seen. Coloured glass window panes
enlivened larger wooden dwellings, and there was
an Indian inscription on what we afterwards
learned was an English church. Then a lane that
led us to the main road into Brantford.
We felt as though we had shaken off a dream.
What ancient ghosts of a period long gone! ♦ ♦ . Indians talk-talking in their wooden Longhouses;
180
 CHIEFSWOOD
German half-breeds speaking of moneys in trust for
an almost vanishing tribe—truly an alien wedge
thrust into cheerful Ontario; an echo of old forces!
Think of their ancient power. Homer might
have written of these people at their best, thinly
disguised as gods—beings that suggest the myths
and legends of this continent in a mysterious
way. . . The Mohawk tribe was one of a confederation formed by Hiawatha four centuries ago. At
the beginning of the 17th century it included five
tribes, but in 1715 they were joined by a related
people and were henceforth to be known as the Six
Nations. In government, and property system it
was advanced beyond anything that its discoverers
had experienced except in dreams. The tribes managed their own affairs under a sachem and a council; and a council of fifty sachems met annually to
dispose of questions affecting the confederation.
The Mohawks had crossed into Canada under
Joseph Brant, and for their fealty to the British
Crown were given two reservations near Erie and
Ontario, on one of which, to the north of Lake
Erie on the Grand River, Chief Brant had settled.
And what exists of it here is the remnant of
a race living out its last hours in this sober little
Reserve; the fading house of a chieftain and his
English wife—and a handful of poems.
181
 XXII
A CURSE AND A BLESSING
THE Curse fits snugly in between other houses
on the long busy thoroughfare that links
Windsor and Walkerville. It seems not unlike the
structures that surround it, unless one is aware that
an ancient malediction has touched it. Then, of
course, it looks different. For, this is Moy House,
and here is its sentence:
That never the son of a Chief of Moy
Might live to protect his father's age,
Or close in peace his dying eye
Or gather his gloomy heritage.
The Curse came down the centuries, and it was
to touch Canada, since this house was founded by a
member of the Moy family. Its fate was pronounced by Margaret Grant of Urquhart, as she
ended her life in Loch Moy after the dead bodies of
her father and brother were brought to her by the
chief of the Macintosh clan whom she had rejected
as a suitor. And, from the time of Lochlan, the
twentieth chief, who died in 1731, to that of
Angus, the twenty-fifth, in 1833, not a son was kfa
This twenty-fifth chief settled near the Detroit
river and called his house by the fatal name of Moy.
He figured in the War of 1812, he became a Hudson's Bay factor, and he built his home of lum-
182
 - ^
A CURSE AND A BLESSING
ber from the virgin forests about the settlement. It
became a trading post. From its colonial porches
the master could look down upon his pioneer
shipping-yards. The countryside had many settlers from Lower Canada, who had come up to this
region, so after a time the Macintosh married a
French wife.
Perhaps it all worked together for good: the
fresh, hardy, woods life, the break with tradition,
the actual contribution to the opening up of new
land, the generous giving, instead of reaping, from
the very soil itself. At any rate, the spell was broken. After the twenty-fifth chieftain was recalled
from Canada to possess Moy Hall, its sons were
allowed to remain in the world long enough to protect their father's age, and to gather their gloomy
heritage.
The Curse is allied to the Blessing in several
ways. When Angus Macintosh returned to Scotland he sold Moy House to William Hall, upon
whose death it came to his ward, a Miss Baby, thus
linking the most significant dwellings of the neighbourhood.
For the Baby Mansion stands on the banks of the
Detroit River, in Sandwich, which many people
to-day might call a continuation of the thriving
city of Windsor. But a hundred years ago it was
affectionately described as "a picturesque old town",
183
(i
J
 J
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
and no one had dreamed of such a place as Windsor. Sandwich was an important Hudson's Bay
post from which, by log canoe, people could go to
and from Detroit. "La Traverse" was already
popular, and Madame Labalaine, the ferryman's
wife, would suspend over her door a tin horn exactly four feet long which she blew lustily to call
her Francois' attention to important passengers.
Labalaine being so rheumatic that he must be assisted in and out of the canoe, spent all his days therein,
leisurely paddling across, and landing people where
it suited his convenience—at the foot of Woodward
Avenue, Griswold, Shelby, or Cass Streets.
Jacque Duperon Baby, His Majesty's Indian
Agent, and his wife, Susanne Reaume, were the important people of this early Sandwich. M. Baby
was a great trader, and had an uncanny power and
influence over the Indians, who feared and loved
him. A delightful story is related of his prowess in
this direction and that of his wife, typical of the
careful diplomacy necessary at the time.
Pontiac, the Ottawa Chief, a great warrior, had
come down full of wrath from his camping ground
on the lie au Pesche to visit his friend the trader.
He found him in his store adjoining the house busily
counting furs.
"Sit down," said Baby.
Pontiac, looking suspiciously at him, reluctantly
took a seat before the log fire.
184
 J
A CURSE AND A BLESSING
"They tell me," remarked the chief, "that those
red-coats have offered to give you a basket full of silver if you will betray me into their hands."
"How foolish that would be!" was the answer.
"For I make a living by trading with you and your
tribes. As a proof of my friendship we will smoke
the pipe of peace."
Pontiac seized his tomahawk, and pointing to its
head, declared, "This is my pipe." After their
smoke, his host remarked, "It is a long walk to the
Island to-night; here are my buffalo skins; use them
and sleep before the fire, and see if I betray you in
the morning. But before going to bed Theresa, my
negress, shall bring your supper."
"Theresa has gone to bed," Mme. Baby said,
"but I shall bring bread and milk for Pontiac."
Presently, she entered with a silver tray, a large
china bowl, a loaf of bread, and a silver spoon.
"Good squaw, Baby; many papooses?"
Baby held up both hands twice, counting twenty.
"Big Camp!" exclaimed Pontiac, smoking his
tomahawk pipe in silence. He made his bed of
buffalo skins, and went to sleep with his feet to the
fire.,
The next morning after breakfast Mme. Baby appeared, and shaking hands with the chief bade him
farewell, saying: "Remember me to your squaw,
and when you return I should like six marten skins,
dressed, for a boa, and a beaver skin for my bon-
185
1
Li
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
net. But here is blue cloth for frock and leggings,
a red blanket and twelve yards of calico, two shirts,
and glass beads, and a silver brooch the size of a
saucer for your squaw to wear."
Pontiac gave a grunt, wrapped them in his blanket, said "Bonjour" and left—a contented man.
The Honourable James Baby, born in 1762, was
the son of this Jacque Duperon, and he, too, was
connected with the fur trade. Being a great favourite
with his father, he was permitted a Grand Tour to
Europe before settling to an extensive business; for,
since the family had come up from Lower Canada,
their holdings near Sandwich and Detroit were important.
The homestead was destined to become historic.
A grandson, William Lewis Baby, writing just thirty
years ago, says:
It was built about the middle of the last century when there was difficulty in accumulating material and labour to erect such a structure. Along
the shores of the River Detroit there were nothing
but scattered moulins au vent. The nearest saw
and grist mills, up to the year 1828, were fifty
miles away. The siding and all lumber required
for use in the construction of the building were
cut out by a whip-saw and every board was finished with a bead, and every wrought iron nail
driven through a hole bored with a gimlet to
avoid slipping. The size of the house, and it was
built for the Northwest trade, made it capable of
186
 A CURSE AND A BLESSING
D«*«yfl<J*J
"Its walls and chambers have re-echoed the voices of the past.'
187
u
 w
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
holding six hundred or more pipes of wine or
liquors, which were then of the best quality in the
world and were brought from Montreal in bateaux
to Queenston, then loaded in waggons to Chippewa, again trans-shipped, threading their way
along the Niagara River and the shores of Lake
Erie to their different points of destination. The
framework of our house is filled with bricks and
mortar, beams and sheathing are of oak, and the
sills of doors and windows of walnut. In the
hall was hung an iron hook, from which was
suspended massive scales capable of weighing two
thousand pounds of fur, otter, beaver, buffalo and
mink. The roof is steep to shed the tempests of
snow and rain. It stands, the silent witness of the
cannons' roar on lake and. field. Its walls and
chambers have re-echoed the voices of the past,
and it has sheltered and entertained the mitred
and ermined. Its doors were ever opened alike
to the Huron and the habitant. . . It has a well-
stocked garden of the choicest fruits the climate
could produce. In 1888, I measured two of its
pear trees over a hundred years old, the bon Chretien, grafted on a stalk of the old French pear
tree, the other the French tree itself. They
measured nine feet in girth and seventy in height.
These first and tenacious emblems of the gospel
and cross were brought here from France nearly
two centuries ago, nursed and cradled by the
tender care of the missionary fathers in wet moss,
and planted, and intermingled with the primeval
forest adorning both sides of the Detroit River.
They are gradually disappearing, but in the archives of Loyola will last forever.
In this house the American General Hull billeted
himself, and issued his proclamation to "the inhabitants of Canada" telling us that his Grand Army
was ready to free us from oppression.   And he was
188
\
 A
A CURSE AND A BLESSING
quickly followed by Brock, who had just made his
extraordinary compact with Tecumseh. The great
hall was littered, then, with soldiers* accoutrements,
and full of the excitement of coming battle.
Across a mile of river front lay the massive walls
of Fort Detroit, and behind it, treble the force of the
little Canadian army. But there were shadows of
Indians, Shawanoes, Ottawas and other tribes, in
the forest that fringed the garden, and the adjoining lands that had been cut out of the wilderness
with such effort. These tribes were the old enemies
of the Americans.
"Hold your scalping knives," said Brock, "and
no liquor till you've humbled the Big-Knives."
But to Hull he wrote; "My force warrants my demanding the immediate surrender of Detroit." "The
Indians," he added, "may get beyond my control."
He waited here in the house where he wrote this
despatch and the answer came: "General Hull is
prepared to meet any force brought against him,
and to accept any consequences."
Then far into the night, shells and round shot
shrieked across the water. . .Towards dawn there
was no sound but the river. . . Bateaux full of scarlet coats and canoes of painted Indians were silently
floating over. . . With dawn, wild war-cries, like the
shrieks of the damned. But, as all the world
knows, it was a bloodless affair, and to the delight
of Tecumseh's warriors the colours of the Fourth
189
J
 WmWT
CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
United States Regiment passed into British hands.
For the Shawanoe tribe, especially, were not feeling agreeable, owing to the fact that under General
Harrison six hundred of a half-armed band had been
killed in the Battle of Tippecanoe less than a year
before. ♦ ♦ To them, the old Baby Mansion, wise
intermediary for generations between the claims of
friend and foe, from under whose roof their White
Chief Brock had set out on this lucky enterprise,
had once more proved itself to be a blessing.
190
i
 XXIII
THREE PIONEERS
THE old cart stood in the dust of an out-house,
looking rather like an antiquated old cage.
It was made entirely of wood, its large wheels
wooden-pinned to the axles, and its thongs of shag-
anippi, tough as sun-burned hide can be.
Beside the cart, a man stood talking—a stalwart
figure, tall, spare and erect, bearing his eighty years
with a careless zest. He said: "I had this constructed by the last remaining builder of the Red
River carts. In my youth, one like it was an important factor in my life. I have lived and slept in it
for days and nights. We used to watch these carts
come crawling like snakes over the prairie. They
and the ponies were our sole means of transportation
of supplies and news. Our world was a vast wilderness, yet it was smaller than the world of to-day.
You could address a letter in England to John Jones,
Red River Settlement, British North America, and
it would find him. It never failed. Imagine addressing John Jones, Winnipeg, now!"
This man, the Honourable Colin Inkster, was
President of the old Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, and has been the sheriff of Winnipeg since
191
-&**-
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
1876. His grandfather, William Sinclair, was for
many years Governor at York Factory, where he
died in 1818. William Sinclair was said to be of
the family of the Earldom of Orkney.
The Honourable Colin Inkster spoke even more
proudly of his father, who had been "merely an
"to its doors, out of the illimitable prairies . . . came the carts/'
agent" of the Hudson's Bay Company, at £15 a
year. He was a stone mason, and built the foundation of his own house, the oldest habitable house in
Manitoba.
Sheriff Inkster's present home is near the site of
the battle of Seven Oaks.   We walked across a bit
192
 THREE PIONEERS
of original prairie grass to reach the older house,
still standing in good repair. It is made of hewed
logs. The interior is well planned and roomy.
There are thin, wood-panelled ceilings and walls,
fireplaces of red brick, and the usual shallow verandah of the day.
"the springless carts/'
The little post office and store closely adjoining
it dates also to '51. To its doors, out of the illimitable prairies surrounding what was then scarcely
even a settlement, came the carts, with settlers eager
for letters and supplies, and with traders and merchants coming up from St. Paul and other centres,
to sell their wares, and to buy skins.
"After all, those were happy days," said our
friend. "This house which I seem to have deserted
193
i  14
J
 CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
in my old age, for we have given it and the grounds
about it to the city, is still home to me. There
were many unforgettable occasions within its walls,
though I suppose that it, like my Red River cart, is
just a curiosity now. Perhaps we have all three
had our day!"
The Three Pioneers!
Untracked plains, over which the springless carts
came trecking patiently; candles set in these small
windows to send their tiny spears of light upon
uncharted seas of grass or snow; and this one
among the few—how few—who can still remember those extraordinary days!
194
^
 XXIV
MOUNTAIN CABINS
IT would be easy to sentimentalize, for there is
everything here—the echo of mountains, and
soaring skies, and small rushing streams (that we
see in the movies, and read of in best-sellers made in
the United States about Canada). And this cabin-
house fits in so perfectly. It is log built and
raftered, with a pointed barn roof, and a typical
huge stone fireplace. Skins of cariboo, timber wolf,
and marmot hang on the walls, and an enormous
burdash robe, rarest of possessions, is the hearthrug.
Over the fireplace is the head of an antelope, the last
one legally killed in British Columbia; above it is a
queer old Buffalo skull; a sheep's head is over the
door. Tawny striped denim is hung on the windows; and there are saffron cushions, making the
rustic furniture comfortable as well as picturesque;
wrought iron candelabra, and stray gleams of light
from copper bowls and bits of rock crystal. The
front door opens directly into the living-room, and
there is a short curved staircase of jack pine, leading
to a little gallery from which you can watch sunlight or open fire warm the savage little place.
Major Fred Brewster and his wife, its owners,
are trail riders of the Rockies.   To them the moun-
195
_J
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
tains are an open book. They live in the village
of Jasper, which lies in the heart of the old Atha-
baska country, on the northerly way through the
Rockies, originally chosen by the first surveying
party for the projected railroad.
The very early history of the district has never
been accurately known and never will be written.
The oldest settlers have scant data and only vague
memories of their immediate predecessors. There
are few records of the loneliest trails, and the stories
of stray adventurers, living, heaven knows how
long ago, are legends, passed by word of mouth
from tribe to tribe.
But if there is meagre record as to the mountains they can afford to ignore the fact. For the
movies have them. One of the great American film
companies was here a week ago, working on a picture up on Maligne lake. So, presently in London
and New York and Chicago, and in a score of
foreign countries, people will sit in hot and crowded
cinemas waiting for a sight of the mountains just
outside this door.
We left the cabin behind us and motored down
the valley. Beside our hurrying car marched the
Colin range, very stern and cold, behind us rose
Pyramid Mountain, and Edith Cavell with her
attendant, Angel Glacier. The little Miette River
196
 MOUNTAIN CABINS
ran noisily beside  us.    We  were nearing Henry
House.
"Speaking of old people's places, and their habit
of disappearing," said our host, "if we should stop
just here I could take you down there among
mounds of stubble and earth and stone, and we
should find remains of clay ovens, well built, and
apparently very old. They may have had some
connection with Henry House; they may be more
ancient. Who knows? The whole thing is lost in
indistinct beginnings! ... I am taking you to a
place that I do know, the remnant of the Swift
ranch. Louis Swift, the old stage driver, came up
from the south-west, and became the best known
trapper and trader of this part. He was a great provider, and probably fed and rested all the stray expeditions bound for the Punch Bowl—-the meeting
place of the Athabaska Trail. . . Here is his old
location."
We left the car and walked over rough grass, and
up a long slope beyond a little chicken run and
some outbuildings to where a small log house stood
facing the mountains. In front of it was a canvas-
protected stoop under which were gathered a few
home-made chairs, a grindstone and some implements. Over its entrance a sun-dried antler hung,
white as a bone.
"This is not the first shack," said Major Brewster, "but its predecessor was probably exactly like
197
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
it. On a stoop like this, or that, old Swift has
entertained most of the white people coming this
way for more than a quarter of a century. His wife,
a French half-breed, was no less hospitable than he.
I want you to come up and see the water-mill."
We climbed further, accompanied by a million
mosquitoes, to where silver of water was heard
through branches of immense firs. Near it lay the
abandoned mill which Swift had made with his
own hands out of one or more of this very group
of trees, and where he ground corn for the Indians
and the few settlers about him, with no charge to
any of them.
It is a lovely place. Besides the towering firs,
hemlock and birch and Cottonwood are refreshed by
the clear stream. Indian Paint-Brush pricks the
grass with colour, and there are bushes of Saskatoon
berries, that grow in clusters like grapes, and are
loved by the Indians and the mountain bears. But
the railroad runs now—we could see it from our
point of vantage—between Swift's deserted cabin
and his barn. He and his wife have moved to Jasper village.
3
Old Mrs. Swift can weave her baskets and bead-
work in great comfort now. She can see her grandchildren passing to and fro to school on a good
sidewalk, that so shortly ago was a bit of mountain
trail. Yet, as we talked I found that she was not so
198
 MOUNTAIN CABINS
much interested in the things of to-day as in those
of the distant past. Her mind went back repeatedly
to ancient stories, especially to one about wild
horses, and the days of Moberly, a trader, which
had impressed itself vividly on her memory. But
a mixture of mountain French and Cree is hard
to understand, and there was no interpreter. Besides, one of Mrs. Swift's first questions was: "How
many languages you speek? I speek five. I speek
Soto, Stoney, Cree, and French and English."
That naturally upset me. ♦ . I hesitated to reveal a mind so empty that a reply from her, in
any one of four of her languages, would leave it a
blank. She promised that the next time I came she
would relate the story of the wild horses more fully,
in English. She wore a trail-rider's badge,—and
told me that she and her husband were the first applicants in this valley for admission to the order.
"Times all change," she said. "In my day we
had no, what you call Clubs, for riders. One by
one, one by one, they went over the mountains.
Now they go a lot altogether, and it is good fun for
them. For us it was business, all business, long
ago. But I not speek so much with you to-day,"
she ended sadly, "because my son, he is very sick—
for him my heart is sore."
A bell rang through the village street. She
crossed herself in prayer.
199
J
 XXV
A POET'S GARDEN
LANGARA VINE, the home of a well loved
i poet of Vancouver, Mrs. J. M. LeFevre, stood
with open doors on an August afternoon. The
doors are often open, for it is a house of many
friendships.   Its short history is beauty.
From a flagged terrace at its rear, you reach the
garden. Below this terrace lies another one of
grass, then lawns, and, at their farthest edge, turquoise of ocean, and beyond that the deeper blue of
hills. There is a Japanese tea house near the cliff's
edge, and after tea, there is the cliff's edge itself,
where you look over a low stone wall far out to
jade-green distance where the Islands lie—many,
small, difficult of access; where all sorts of people
are living their remote lives, cut off by sorcery of
the sea from the modern world.
The eastern boundary of this garden is a deep
ravine. On the other side of the lawns there are
water gardens, with wax-white lilies, wide awake.
And deeper still an old skid-road,—early British
Columbia—left untouched at the garden's edge.
Bluebells mount jauntily up the old skid-road.
Beneath the terrace late roses were still in bloom
and the faintest, sweetest flower scent in the world,
that of midsummer phlox, came from the gardens
200
 A POET'S GARDEN
below. Fuchsia trees were in flower, magnolias lingered, and California poppies—romnia—grew in
thick shrubs, as pale as ghosts. . .Through the
drawingroom windows there came the distant sound
of strings, and, when the music stopped, there was
poetry read from an ivied balcony above the terrace.
It might have happened long ago in Italy—the
blue skies and sea, the music of strings, scent of roses
and sound of poetry: a traditional sequence perfectly understood by nations more childlike, and
much more sophisticated than our own. ♦ 1 But
fortunately it was not Italy; it was Canada.
201
 XXVI
THE SEA CAPTAIN'S HOUSE
NEW WESTMINSTER, originally Sapper-
town, was built by the Royal British
Engineers and Sappers before Vancouver came into
being.
Back on the Fraser one loses sight and sound
of the ocean. There is a dim gravity about the
place. One of its oldest houses is Hollymount, the
home of William Irvine, a Scottish sea captain who,
trading out of ports or early settlements on the
Columbia River, in Oregon, moved north in the
van of the Cariboo gold rush of '58.
The stalwart holly hedge, from which the house
takes its name, almost completely surrounds it. In
point of construction the residence is a monument
to the skilled labor of the Royal Engineers. It is
a remarkable fact that in a province whose wealth is
in timber, the interior finish should have come from
California. But those were the days when redwood
was brought as ballast for the ships coming up from
the south.
The eyes of the captain gazed kindly upon us
from the sea-blue background of an old portrait in
oils. They had seen much in their day, when his
steamers made the great run from here to Yale and
back. Yale was the head of navigation on the
202
 THE SEA CAPTAIN'S HOUSE
Fraser, and the point where the famous wagon-road,
constructed in '62, began, and extended four hundred miles north to the Cariboo Mines. In "the
golden days of Cariboo" it is said that over this
highway passed thousands of miners and millions of
treasure.
What tremendous tales from everywhere on earth
our Captain must have heard! What legends of
fame, and what despairs! We learned that he was
one of the coast captains most diligent in the search
for Sir John Franklin, and that he gave personal
assistance and advice to Lady Franklin in her fruitless, persevering quest.
"This is one of the treasures of Hollymount,"
said Captain Irvine's daughter. She placed in my
hand a framed picture of Sir John, dated 1861,
with an inscription "To Captain Irvine from Lady
Franklin."
It was another of those curious and unexpected
contacts. Who would have thought that, chancing on this house here in New Westminster, one
should hold in one's hand for a moment a link,
slight but direct, with the most tragic and absorbing chapter in Polar exploration.
203
J
 XXVII
AN ISLAND  FARM
CLOVERDALE is a cheerful name for a farm,
it reminds one of grass scents and buzzing
bees. But this place looked melancholy, almost
eerie in an autumnal light that filtered through the
faded leaves of oak trees, bronzed by drought.
Built on a hill the farm house is still surrounded by
trees, but through them, we could see rolling country and the invasion of houses and factories—the
city of Victoria creeping up to an old estate.
This is the first stone house on Vancouver Island,
with an original holding of over twelve hundred
acres of cleared land. It was necessarily self-contained, as you may see by its generous ration room
and huge bake-ovens, for the three mile trip to Fort
Victoria through dense woods was something of an
adventure in days when the tender mercies of the
West Coast Indians were far from kind. That was
in the 6o's of the last century.
A delightful porch still bids you hearty welcome.
One of the family had planted here a slip of English
ivy. To-day, there is an overhanging wall of lustrous green, supported by giant trunks that twist
and turn in weird and sinister shapes. As you enter
the house you seem to be enveloped in the shade that
the ivy casts. It is mingled with the green of Vir-
204
 AN ISLAND FARM
ginia creeper. The interior is dim, but through the
shadows a blur of Indian relics becomes disentangled; bows, spear heads, pottery, and bead-
work make history in the shaded hall.
The drawingroom is mid-Victorian, but un-English, nevertheless. Its furniture came by sailing ship around the Horn, and though there is the
inevitable crinoline chair, with its ample armless
seat, and a roulette table with a round top that may
be swung up out of the way, and an old rosewood
sofa whose wavy back suits soft billows of brocade, there is also a lacquer cabinet that arrived here
on the Fujiami, the first ship in recorded history
that came into Victoria Harbor from Japan. A
fine gilt mirror hangs over the fireplace. It once
hung in the diningroom of the famous Bachelors'
Hall of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver while that Fort was still British territory,
and the boundary line was farther south than it is
to-day. When Fort Vancouver was abandoned by
the Hudson's Bay Company the mirror was bought
by the founder of this house.
It is nearly a century since Dr. William Fraser
Tolmie came from Inverness and Glasgow to Fort
Vancouver as a physician and clerk in the service of
the Hudson's Bay Company. Later, he became a
Chief Factor and was deeply concerned in Pacific
Coast affairs. He learned and translated the language of certain of the West Coast Indian tribes,
205
J
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
the Enncultaws and the Songhees, and the grounds
of his farm gave him ample opportunity to collect
relics and implements of vanished tribes. He was
an ardent botanist, and that is why so many excellent specimens of British Columbia flora found
their way into Kew Gardens under the regime of Sir
John Hooker who was his close friend.
This early settler lived British Columbia to the
full, an existence utterly different from that of any
other province. The ocean brought its strange
adventurers, and the mountains were like evil magnets for Indian superstition. It was a locality of
mysterious murders and haunting superstitions.
"Stlalamsin!" said the first Indians, pointing to
a pleasant hillside on the farm in Dr. Tolmie's day.
"Stlalamsin—place of bones!"
"There is an oak tree on Quadra Street just below Cloverdale school," said Miss Tolmie, "with
the mark of a cross on it. Nearly sixty-five years
ago one of our gardeners, a half-breed, was found
hanging here. Other murders took place more to
the west. For years no one could be induced to
walk after dark through the brick-fields yonder, a
part of the farm which was supposed to be haunted.
My father loved the mountains, and he tried to
overcome the terror of the Indians of evil spirits,
who were, of course, the unseen powers that tossed
great avalanches about and sent them scuttling down
the valley with a roar like that of thunder. It was
206
 AN ISLAND FARM
his great desire to climb Mount Ranier. He was the
first white man to attempt it, and he would probably have succeeded but for the refusal of his Indian
carriers to encounter the giant spirits who lived
among the snows."
"Many years after my father made this attempt,"
went on Miss Tolmie, "several of us, his sons and
daughters, formed an expedition to visit the mountain and annually, ever since, we have repeated the
pilgrimage."
The Tolmie family are united in their affection
for this house in which they were born. And indeed
it must be lovelier now than ever. The grounds
about it called to us on this autumn morning. We
walked down to a bark tea-house, covered with
ivy, with a wild-flower garden stretching behind it.
It is a place in which to rest and invite long
thoughts. Monarchs of long ago live quietly here
—a sequoia, sixty feet high, planted over a century
ago; an oak estimated according to its girth at eight
hundred years; tall Douglas firs; lazy acacias. And
there are flowers of all seasons, though the trees cast
rather forbidding shadows, disapproving of colour.
But something lingers that is deeper and stranger
than mere garden magic. Cloverdale is not a sweet
old farm house; it belongs tremendously, mysteriously, to the Island.
207
 XXVIII
THE OLD DOCTOR
WE crossed the open place in front of the
Empress Hotel. There was a little wind,
and the cry of gulls was coming in from the sea;
the sound of an impatient siren from some out-going
schooner was heard, and a ship's bell in the distance. A great steamer was in from China that
morning. Important looking luggage was waiting,
heaped in piles in the rotunda of the hotel. In the
thrilling sea-washed air people looked happy, walking about at leisure with the world and apparently
glad to be in Victoria. People from everywhere—
grandees, and mere tourists; sailors; coolies; French
maids taking the air while madame rests after the
voyage; madame, herself, perhaps; and all of them
strolling through the gardens behind the hotel
towards the little city of luxurious shops, or, as
we strolled, in the direction of the Parliament Buildings raising lovely domes to the sky. It is a cheerful, cosmopolitan little square.
In two minutes we had passed through it and
were in a quiet backwater where we noticed a vacant
sunny slope upon which a huge cherry tree and a
great oak spread themselves. And then we were
lifting the knocker of an old door—a low door, a
modest iron knocker, a small wooden house stand-
208
 P?FS
THE OLD DOCTOR
ing beside a laurel hedge, with sunshine glittering on
its dark polished leaves.
"we lifted the knocker of an old door.
"Knocking for the doctor!" we thought.
"Knocking for the old doctor!"
The door opened, and the doctor's daughter
asked us to come in.
209
J
 CANADIAN HOUSES  OF ROMANCE
"I saw you stop beside the cherry tree," she said,
"it does not have many visitors now-a-days. Just
a stone's throw from all the coming and going of
the hotel, we are isolated here. Would you like to
come first into the garden?" It was cool and shady
and full of old-fashioned flowers. "Here," she
went on, "my father used to enjoy himself most in
his few leisure hours. He could watch the sails
passing in a peaceful little cove where the water
came lapping against the shore. Where the
water was, the Empress Hotel now stands. Only
this fence divided us from the Douglas house and
Sir James' beautiful garden, of which the cherry
tree that you were just admiring alone remains.
We used to fly our kites as children where aeroplanes
descend now almost every day. We were all relatives and friends, bound together by the struggles and chances of pioneer life, and we were happy
in an isolated and tiny place that seemed to be our
very own."
We went indoors after a time to her father's office
and study, where, in days long gone, the doctor
sometimes sat him down before a tiny fireplace to
smoke his pipe in peace. But there is a huge bootjack, and a lantern still in a corner, for there were
many sudden calls out into those early, and sometimes almost impassably muddy roads of the Island.
The walls of the room are lined with portraits of
his confreres and their professors at Guy's Hospital.
210
 ^^r
^i
THE OLD  DOCTOR
"Before he entered Guy's," said his daughter, Mrs.
William Higgins, "papa was in the office of Dr.
Graves of Trinity Square, Tower Hill. And during that time as an apprentice he used to make up
the medicines and pills, and later he obtained a
license from the Apothecaries' Company. It was as a
reward of merit, because he had captured a number
of prizes, that he was offered an appointment on the
Hudson's Bay Company's ship, Prince Rupert, on
its voyage to York Factory. He returned to England, and after that, he sailed the Indian seas for a
year and a half as ship's surgeon on the Mallacca*
But this coast lured him, and he came again, this
time as clerk and colonial surgeon, to the Hudson's
Bay Company on Vancouver Island, arriving in
1850. He was again transferred, this time to Fort
Rupert, on the now historic steamer Beaver* The
coal mines were opening, and I have heard of a
mutiny of the employees while he was there—
something about the California gold excitement.
Then he was suddenly recalled to Victoria, returning in a canoe paddled by Indians, a wild lot
in those days, running the gauntlet through coast
enemies for three hundred miles. I think he escaped
because the savages had a wholesome fear of "King
George's men", as they called the Hudson's Bay officials. . . I should have said that papa was sent
for on account of Governor Blanchard's illness—
211
 CANADIAN HOUSES OF ROMANCE
but the Governor had of course recovered before he
had time to arrive!"
This, then, was John Sebastion Helmchen, of
whom we had often heard. His medicine chest
stands in the hall, a clumsy, wonderful old box,
each precious vial secured in a separate wooden compartment, safe from the terrific lurches and sudden
inundations of a sailing ship.
"Here was the place for surgical instruments,"
said Mrs. Higgins, "but they are packed away. I
did open them for Dr. Banting, the other day. . .
I liked showing them to him."
A beautiful old drawingroom is full of treasures,
but we returned to the study which has for some
time been used as a diningroom and where Christmas and New Year festivities were enacted for
years, and are still enacted, with the old ceremonies
that began with Grace Before Meat, and ended with
Sir Roger de Coverley. It was on such occasions
that the old piano was used for the quadrille. It is
a lovely slim thing of Circassian walnut, with brown
moire silk laid fanwise under its lacey carving. It, too, came round the Horn. We asked the
doctor's daughter to play on it.
"I know nothing but old-fashioned waltzes,"
she said, "things that people have forgotten now-
a-days."
We assured her that we had no desire for jazz.
So she opened the cover and put up the music rack
212
 -y^-
THE OLD DOCTOR
and twirled the round stool higher, and into the
silence of the small low-ceilinged room the voice of
the old piano spoke, in a faint spinnet-like tone, but
with no uncertain sound.
You recall candelight,
Harpstrings and background of a rich brocade
Where stately figures, delicate yet staid,
Were wont to dance.
Ghosts are your only partners;
Rakish young gentlemen of long ago,
Of courtly grace and wigs of powdered snow
And devilish ways
Yours is precise music,
A little arrogant and sweet and thin,
It does not let one wailing measure in—
Not even the last bar!
It might have been written of the old piano, we
thought, as we bade its owner good-bye.
"You must come again," she said, with the old
Island hospitality, "remember that this is always
open house!"
213
J
     

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            data-media="{[{embed.selectedMedia}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
https://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/cdm.bcbooks.1-0381022/manifest

Comment

Related Items