Eugene L. Chicanot
Rhymes of the Miner
8th Oct 2021Posted in: Eugene L. Chicanot, Modernist Poets 0

Rhymes of the Miner


An Anthology of

Canadian Mining Verse

Compiled and Edited by

E. L. CHICANOT

[illustration]

Illustrations by

GEO. A. CUTHBERTSON


FEDERAL PUBLICATIONS LIMITED

GARDENVALE, QUEBEC, CANADA

[unnumbered page]

ERRATA

LOCATION

ERROR

Page 13, 19.3

“neozonic” changed to “Neozonic”

Page 39, 7.1

“Bur” changed to “But”

Page 75, 18.3

“rivers” changed to “river’s”

Page 83, 34.8

“ineption” changed to “inception”

Page 89, 4.4

“pri de” changed to “pride”

Page 115, 10.11

Added closing quotes after “dead!”

Page 122, 17.4

“pictur” changed to “picture”

Page 125, 29.5

“nor” changed to “not”

Page 143, 5.3

“thing’s” changed to “things”

Page 144, 6.4

“aflord” changed to “afford”

Page 167, 18.5

“scienee” changed to “science”

Page 169, 8.1

“Eficiency’s” changed to “Efficiency’s”

Page 188, 8.6

“pitchlende” changed to “pitchblende”

Page 190, 15.2

“ope” changed to “open”

Page 205, 1.6

“amd” changed to “and”

Page 209, 3.4

“fiften” changed to “fifteen”

Page 213, 13.6

“playright” changed to “playwright”

Page 216, 11.6

“despatches” changed to “dispatches”

Page 216, 19.2

“despatches” changed to “dispatches”

Page 218, 9.5

“extenxive” changed to “extensive”

[unnumbered page]

FOREWORD

     This volume was conceived and planned to supply what seemed to be a definite need—a collection of verse associated with the Canadian mining industry, for the men of the industry to whom it related, and who had quite extensively been responsible for its production. The time appeared propitious for this undertaking since, under its remarkable modern expansion, the Canadian mining industry in its activities tends to emerge ever further out of the picturesque and romantic as it enters more fully the practical, commercial and scientific. It was realized, too, that a good deal of verse associated with the industry’s remoter past was in danger of becoming permanently lost. For instance, the only copy of James Anderson’s “Sawney’s Letters and Cariboo Rhymes” which could be discovered was in the Provincial Archives at Victoria, B. C., which also produced the other verses of the Cariboo period presented in the following pages.

     The task of making a collection of Canadian mining verse would appeal as easier than it turned out to be. Canada has had more than her fair share of poets and the volumes of published Canadian verse in any public library occupy considerable space. A diligent perusal of these works, however, reveals surprisingly little which has any bearing on the various phases of mining. Canadian poets have beautifully pictured the rugged Canadian scene, have touchingly written of the country’s pastoral charms; they have caught the varied landscape in every seasonal mood and found romance in every occupation. But few seem to have seen these things as the mining man sees them; have appreciated the fascination of the search for minerals; or known the emotions of the men who in various ways are engaged in the discovery or exploitation of metal deposits.

     One was speedily brought to the realization that such mining verse as exists in Canada is quite largely the product of the men of the industry, who are principally concerned with their rugged work and only incidentally, and often spontaneously, prompted to expression in rhyme. Appropriate verse which was found in published collections, when not produced by men [unnumbered page] actually engaged in mining has been inspired by intimate association with the activity or its followers. Quite a substantial proportion was found in the issues of past years of the Canadian Mining Journal, thanks to certain editors for whom mining was not entirely compassed by the material and practical, where no doubt it was temporarily enjoyed but had no permanent place in the lore of Canadian mining.

     The industry has been fortunate in having James Anderson who contemporaneously chronicled the men of the Cariboo and their activities; in Robert W. Service, who in stirring verse recreated the Klondyke gold rush and its participants; in the association of the beloved Dr. Drummond with the Cobalt camp. These, as well as many poets of definite standing less known to fame, are found represented in the following pages, while the editor feels he is introducing many writers of stray verse who should be known to the mining fraternity. It is not claimed that all the verse is of a high order. This has not been the criterion. It has been recognized that the rugged life of the Canadian mining man is generally reflected in his taste for verse, that he is more concerned with fidelity of portrayal, emotional appeal and effect, in the capture of the true spirit of his occupation, than in high literary phrasing and strict adherence to the tenets of versification. Those at which litterateurs would shudder are the most popular when the mining fraternity foregathers.

     For permission to reproduce copyright work the editor’s thanks are due to McClelland & Stewart (Dr. W. H. Drummond’s complete Poems); Robert W. Service and the Ryerson Press (Songs of a Sourdough and Ballads of a Cheechacko); Musson Book Company (Tales of the Porcupine Trails); Thomas Allen (Songs of a Young Man’s Land); and to George E. Winkler (Lonely Trails and Songs Unbidden). The editor also expresses his gratitude to the various individuals who brought to his attention their own or other verses appearing in this volume; to Miss M. C. Holmes of the Provincial Library and Archives, British Columbia, for valued assistance in research; and Miss M. G. Howe for typing and proofreading.

     It has been an engaging task to have worked upon, and yet one launches this volume with a certain amount of diffidence. Every effort has been made to render it as representative and comprehensive as possible, but inevitably deficiencies and short-comings will be discovered. Readers will perhaps find poets of their acquaintance not included, favorite verses inexplicably omitted. Such defects will be deplored, but at the same time it is felt the mining fraternity should take a share of the blame since its cooperation was invited and sedulously courted.

E. L. C.

[unnumbered page]

CONTENTS

PAGE

Trails of the World, W. Milton Yorke

9

The Motive, Graham Harris

11

History, J. C. Murray

12

The Life of the North, Alpine MacGregor

17

The Broken Miner, John A. Fraser

17

The Rough But Honest Miner, Cariboo Songs

18

My Heart is Young, Tal O. Eifion

19

A Contrast

21

The Old Red Shirt, Rebecca

22

The Prospector’s Shanty, James Anderson

23

Young Ted Brown, Cariboo Songs

24

Come Miners, Cariboo Songs

25

Lines to the Telegraph, Tal O. Eifion

26

Waiting for the Mail, James Anderson

27

Song of the Mine, James Anderson

28

The Spell of the Yukon, Robert W. Service

29

The Law of the Yukon, Robert W. Service

32

The Trail of Ninety-Eight, Robert W. Service

35

The Prospector, Robert W. Service

38

The Gold-Seeker, George E. Winkler

40

The Cobalt Song, L. F. Steenman

41

Salute to Cobalt, C. E. Crozelle

43

The Calcite Vein, A Tale of Cobalt, Dr. W. H. Drummond

43

Marriage, Dr. W. H. Drummond

46

Bloom, A Song of Cobalt, Dr. W. H. Drummond

48

Cobalt, “The Eternal Return”, Violet Irwin

49

L’Envoi, J. E. Leckie

50

Cobalt Summer Time, J. Ernest

51

The Lay of the Cobalt Mines, J. E. Leckie

52

Cobalt Old and New

53

Cobalt Revisited, Alpine MacGregor

54

The Empire of the North, M. May Robinson

55

Northland Trails, M. May Robinson

55

But We Northmen, Alpine MacGregor

57

Peace in the North, Alpine MacGregor

58

Nostalgia, W. Milton Yorke

58

Wood Smoke, S. C. Ells

59

Song of the Mines, M. May Robinson

60

A Glade of Birch Trees, Alpine MacGregor

61

Call of the Wild, Alpine MacGregor

61

The Artificer, J.C. Murray

62

To Ontario’s Northland, M. May Robinson

62

The Magic North, W. Milton Yorke

63

Fooled, Clive Phillipps-Wolley

63

The Old Canoe, Anonymous

66

[unnumbered page]

The Northern Prospector, Henry Elwood McKee

67

The Kootenay Prospector, Clive Phillipps-Wolley

69

Saint Peter and the Lone Prospector, J. C. Murray

71

A Prospector’s Monologue, Donald C. Simpson

72

The Old Timers, Alpine MacGregor

73

Prospector’s Spring Song, Donald C. Simpson

73

Precambria’s Charm, Alpine MacGregor

74

Out of Sioux Lookout, Alpine MacGregor

74

The Call, Alpine MacGregor

75

Eureka, Graham Harris

76

The Prospector’s Prayer, Donald C. Simpson

77

The Northern Breed, Alpine MacGregor

78

A Passing Race, George E. Winkler

78

Gold’s Lure, Alpine MacGregor

79

Cold Drip and End of Steel, J. C. Murray

79

The Lure, Alpine MacGregor

80

The Ancient Gold Digger, George E. Winkler

80

Wilderness Lover, Alpine MacGregor

81

To the Tump Line, J. C. Murray

82

The Prospector, Roderick Cook

82

A Prospector’s Epitaph, Alpine MacGregor

83

The Prospector, Graham Harris

83

The Prospector, J. E. T.

84

The Discontented Prospector, W. Milton Yorke

85

The Prospector, George E. Winkler

87

The Scout, George E. Winkler

92

Old Prospectors, M. May Robinson

93

Itchy Feet, George E. Winkler

94

Northland Prospectors, M. May Robinson

94

The Prospector, Alpine MacGregor

95

The Prospector, J. W. E.

95

Creed for Prospectors, George E. Winkler

96

Pickpanpack Mines, Limited, George E. Winkler

97

The Vanguard, M. May Robinson

97

The Song of the Pick, George E. Winkler

98

Pals, George E. Winkler

98

Bush, J. C. Murray

99

The Guerdon of the Grubstaked, J. C. Murray

99

Chibougamou, Dr. W. H. Drummond

101

The Porcupine Song, J. E. Leckie

103

Matachewan

104

Rouyn, Or What’s in A Name? J.C. Murray

105

Flin Flon, W. B. Paton

105

Nature’s Gold, Alpine MacGregor

106

On the Trail to the Pickle Crow and Central Pat, Alpine MacGregor

106

The McIntyre, W. H. Thomson

107

Timmins, W. H. Thomson

108

Sioux Lookout, Alpine MacGregor

108

[unnumbered page]

The Montreal River, W. Milton Yorke

109

Down in Springhill’s Bumpy Mine

110

Spirits of Stag Bay, J. C. Murray

111

Disparagers, J. C. Murray

112

Lost Mines, George E. Winkler

113

Goblin Gold, Graham Harris

115

The Birth of “The Bill and the Bear”, Graham Harris

117

The Fire at Hornet Lake, Graham Harris

119

Excessment Work, George E. Winkler

123

The Dud, J. C. Murray

126

Maxims, J. C. Murray

127

To the Broker, J. C. Murray

127

Promoters, J. C. Murray

129

To a User of Certain Epithets, J. C. Murray

129

Stock Quotations, W. H. Thomson

130

The Prospect, J. C. Murray

131

The Call of the “Wild Cat”, W. B. Paton

131

Circumlocution, J. C. Murray

132

Alibi, J. C. Murray

132

Invitation from Candid Broker, J. C. Murray

133

Mary’s Little Mine, W. H. Thomson

134

Vers Libre, J. C. Murray

135

Hypæthral Legislation, J. C. Murray

135

Adieu, J. C. Murray

136

A Million, J. C. Murray

137

Hot Air Historically Considered, J. C. Murray

137

My Wish, W. B. Paton

138

Glayshal Drift, Graham Harris

139

The Scaler, W. H. Thomson

141

The Mucker, W. H. Thomson

143

The Mucker’s Lament, W. H. Thomson

144

The Cage Tender, W. H. Thomson

146

The Shiftboss, W. H. Thomson

147

The Mucker, W. B. Paton

148

Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill

149

The Song of the Stamp Mill, Anon

150

The Smelter, W. B. Paton

151

Elimination, W. B. Paton

152

Th’ Drappin’ ov th’ Stamps

152

The Helper, W. H. Thomson

153

Disseminates, W. B. Paton

154

Muck, J. C. Murray

155

The First Brick

155

High Grade, W. H. Thomson

158

The Contract Mucker, W. H. Thomson

159

To the Shovel, Donald C. Simpson

160

The Sampler, W. H. Thomson

161

To The Students, W. H. Thomson

162

[unnumbered page]

The Machine Man, W. H. Thomson

163

The Captain, W. H. Thomson

165

Sourdough Sandy, Alpine MacGregor

166

The Geologist, “Huw Menai”

167

The Divining-Rod Man, J. C. Murray

167

The Wonder Child, J. C. Murray

168

The Efficiency Expert, J. C. Murray

169

When Winter Comes, J. C. Murray

169

Plaint of Publicity-Shunning Mining Engineer, J. C. Murray

169

Oh to be Over Yonder, J. C. Murray

170

To the Recent Graduate, J. C. Murray

171

Concerning Cheeses, Anon

172

Education, J. C. Murray

172

The Geologist

173

Lamentations, J. C. Murray

174

Applied Geology, J. C. Murray

174

Dr. Charles Camsell, Anon

175

Jim Gardner, George E. Winkler

175

To Doctor George, Clive Phillips-Wolley

175

The Long Lost Charlie Ross, Alpine MacGregor

177

This Life, J. C. Murray

178

Allegory, J. C. Murray

179

The Lye Direct, J. C. Murray

179

Tenderfeet, Anon

180

To the Lusty Legume, J. C. Murray

181

Beauty in Minerals, F. H. M.

181

Dawn—The Metamorphasis, J. C. Murray

182

Prolepsis, J. C. Murray

182

Epanalepsis, Caber Feidh

183

Annual Meetings, Anon

184

The Swallow and the Lark, J. C. Murray

184

Welcome the A. I. M. M. E., J. C. Murray

185

The Mines of Might-Have-Been, Graham Harris

185

Requiem, J.C. Murray

186

To the Imaginative Acquaintance, Graham Harris

187

The “High-Falutin’ Prospector” Finds Radium, George E. Winkler

188

“Der Traum”, W. B. Paton

189

Metallurgical Monsters, W. B. Paton

190

The Flesh Pots, J. C. Murray

191

Have You?, J. C. Murray

192

Night Watch, J. C. Murray

193

Ad Agricolam, Anon

193

“St. Simon Stylites”, J. C. Murray

194

The Anchorite, J. C. Murray

194

The Tale of the Moveable Mine, George E. Winkler

195

L’Envoi

210

Biography

213

[unnumbered page]

 [unnumbered page, includes illustration]

TRAILS OF THE WORLD

Desire comes alike to the hobo

        Or Scion of gilded throne,

To seek the luck of the lone trail

        And trek to the Great Unknown.

*  *  *  *

The heart grows sick

        And the mind seems out of joint,

As you pass life’s yearly mile-stones,

        And you come to the turning point.

You may be a prince of the tainted blood

        Or a chip off the rolling stone,

But under the spell of the roamer

        You plunge to the Great Unknown.

You are tired of the crowded highway,

        Would shun the beaten path,

And take a chance at the by-way,

        And failing you never come back.

The trail once led through Death Valley,

        The trail of Forty-Nine,

Where the murrain breath of drouth and death

        Slew your fathers, yours and mine.

The trail once led to the Cariboo,

        The trail of Sixty-nine,

To the land of the West and the sand fly pest,

        Through the Douglas fir and the pine.

And the trail once led to the Yukon,

        You have read of brave men’s fate,

The gruesome tales of its death-strewn trails

        In the year of Ninety-eight. [page 9]

The trail once led to Africa’s shores,

        And we trekked o’er the sun-blistered land,

Where the lion sleeps and the python creeps,

        To the diamond mines of the Rand.

And the trail now leads to the Northland,

        To the silent, unknown zone,

And men rape the hush of silence,

        As they blast out the stubborn stone

And sometimes it leads where the white shark feeds,

        To the coral reefs of the South,

To the hell-fire glow of the lava’s flow

        From the belching crater’s mouth.

And sometimes it leads where the walrus feeds

        In the teeth of the storm wraith’s breath,

Still the prospector goes, mid the frozen snows

        Where life is a living death.

With bruise and scar we are fain to make war

        On gaunt, grim, forbidden domain,

Oft to lose in the fight ‘gainst the wild in its might,

        In the hope of a lurid gain.

Staging the play of progress,

        With hopes that are beating high,

Men stake as they roam ‘neath the frozen dome

        Or the hell of a tropic sky.

And the scene is shifting, changing,

        From the Pole to the crater’s mouth

When there comes a wind-borne whisper

        From North, East, West, or South.

A hike for a strike, a strike and a hike,

        Ungava next or the Pole.

The wanderlust brand for an unknown land

        Is surely a curse to the soul. [page 10]

Still we weave the web of an Empire’s throne,

        Extending the sceptre’s sway,

Driving the stakes of extension down,

        Sweeping the forest away.

Far in the heart of the Great Unknown,

        Subduing the wild in its might,

Field marshals—unknown by the camp-fires lone—

        Lead on in the wilderness fight.

Far to the van where the flag is flown,

        Far in the land of might,

On futurity’s page shall their deeds be shown

        Through cycles of time in their flight.

W. Milton Yorke

~

THE MOTIVE

You’re for the Amazon—I’m for the Pole—

What does it matter, the lie of our goal?

Not for the knowledge, and not for the name

Go we adventuring out of the tame.

Learning may sponsor us; riches provide;

Critics uncounted our devoirs decide;

But, arctic or tropic or jungle or plain,

A vagabond courier rides at our rein.

To claim of convention and code of the land

We bow in our passing at custom’s demand,

But, forge we to eastward or face we to west,

By the bond of our blood we are slaves of unrest. [page 11]

Science is splendid and honors are fine,

But never these ordered your marches or mine—

You’re to the Amazon, I’m to the Pole,

On the thrust of a wanderlust surge of the soul!

Graham Harris

~

HISTORY

When first men started mining,

One prehistoric day,

No doubt there was repining

About the rates of pay.

* * *

I fancy then they tore rocks

With elemental fire,

And, doubtless, used the aurochs

(Our cattle’s pristine sire)

To do the heavy hauling

Of timber and of ore;

He’d take a load appalling,

That animal of yore.

I fancy that the pay-roll

Was totted up in runes:

He must have had a gay role

Who paid off those poor prunes.

For then there was no specie;

(Pray bear that fact in mind).

The workers, stark and greasy,

All took their pay in kind.

So when a worker wanted

To get his pay in wife,

How sorely he was taunted, [page 12]

How wretched was his life,

When pay-day brought him merely

A fig leaf or a skin!

He must have cussed sincerely

The chap who took him in!

 * * *

When men first started mining,

One prehistoric day,

No doubt there was repining

About the rates of pay.

II

O! They were some go-getters,

These mining men of old;

On earth are not their betters

For action swift and bold.

No socialites existed,

Class-consciousness was not,

And politics consisted

In killing on the spot.

These workers Neozoic

Had manners somewhat tough:

They had to be heroic

To call each other’s bluff.

No Workmen’s Compensation

Gave trouble to the boss,

Or caused him perturbation,

Or monetary loss.

No worries did enmesh one,

For if a miner died

You simply got a fresh one,

And let the matter slide.

The dietary olden

Included gruesome things,

(Whose names shall be withholden) [page 13]

Like snakes equipped with wings.

Large beasts they harshly whacked till

They were entirely dead;

They prized fresh pterodactyl

And potted mammoth head.

 * * *

O! They were some go-getters,

These mining men of old;

On earth are not their betters

For action swift and bold.

III

When Earth was mostly vapour

It was a dizzy spot;

Small comets cut a caper,

And everything was hot.

As time induced a cooling,

Quite solid grew our sphere,

The comets ceased their fooling,

And cell-life started here.

By aeon-long gradations

The Scheme of Things resolved,

And, by our calculations,

Crude fishes were evolved.

Through ages all unmeasured—

Deny the truth who can—

(O! Origin untreasured!)

Fish-life progressed to man.

Thus, though against our wishes,

Resent it how we will,

We all descend from fishes—

And some are fishes still.

This being demonstrated,

Despite protesting damns,

It scarcely need be stated—

Geologists were clams! [page 14]

IV

The first assayer, doubtless,

Attended Nature’s school;

He did his work all cloutless,

And improvised each tool.

In smelting metals native,

It seems a patent fact,

Results were qualitative,—

They could not be exact.

Yes, primitive and simple

The first assayer was;

No more than any pimple

He knew of chemic laws.

Yet that he was resourceful

I’d freely bet my life;

For, not one whit remorseful,

The Mother-of-his-Wife,

When bone-ash moulds were needed,

He slew and burned to dust;

Her cries he little heeded—

He had an awful crust.

Her tibia he saved it

And polished it with care,

And with a legend graved it

In symbol large and fair.

“Eureka!” ran the graving,

“I’ve got the stuff at last

“For which the world is craving,

“The age of Stone is past.

“What weapons I can fashion!

“What implements design

“For men to do their bashin’!

“What tribute will be mine!

“So, e’en though she was hateful,

“That Mother-of-my-wife,

“To her I shall be grateful

“Through every day of life.”

For he had smelted copper

From out of weathered stones—

Used a cupel, a whopper,

Made out of female bones.

J.C. Murray

[page 15]

[unnumbered page, includes illustration]

THE LIFE OF THE NORTH

The story is told, O a story that’s old,

       But one that is new every day,

Of a man who sought gold in a land that was cold,

       And found it by luck on the way.

But a tale just as true oft haps me and you,

       On the trails of courage and chance,

Seems whatever we do runs ever askew

       In this land of remorse and romance.

Not alone for the gold in a land that is cold,

       Something more precious we’re after,

It cannot be sold—this something we hold—

       The life of the North and its laughter.

Alpine MacGregor

~

THE BROKEN MINER

Last night as in sweet sleep I lay,

My dreaming thoughts roamed far away,

The scenes my early childhood knew

In smiling freshness rose to view;

Then passed before me pure and mild

A mother, bending o’er her child,

Again those clarion accents run

“O leave us not, my darling son.”

          Then let our chorus loudly ring,

          The Broken Miner’s lot I sing,

          Most bitter is the lot indeed

          Of him who cannot find the “lead”.

The midnight hours roll slowly past

And coldly blows the northern blast,

No more, to-night, will tranquil sleep

In sweet repose my spirit keep.

My blankets thin, and cabin cold,

Proclaim how vain this thirst for gold!

Most wretched is the lot indeed

Of him who cannot find the “lead”.

          Then let our chorus loudly ring, etc.

John A. Fraser (d. 1865)

Cariboo Sentinel, October, 29 1866. [page 17]

THE ROUGH BUT HONEST MINER

Air—“Castle in the Air”.

Sung by Mr. James Anderson at the Theatre Royal, Barkerville, 13th February, 1869

The rough but honest miner,

Wha toils night and day,

Seeking for the yellow gold,

Hid among the clay—

Howkin’ in the mountain side,

What does he there—

Ha! the auld “dreamer’s”

“Biggin’ castles in the air.”—

His weather-beaten face,

An’ his sair-worn hands

Are tell-tale to a’

O’ the hardships he stands;

His head may grow grey,

And his face fu’ o’ care,

Hunting after gold,

“Wi’ its castles in the air.”

He sees an auld channel,

Buried in the hill,

Fill’d fu’ o’ nuggets—

Sae gaes at it wi’ a will,

For lang weeks and months,

Drifting late and air’,—

Cutting out a door

To his “castle in the air”—

He hammers at the rock,

Believin’ it’s a rim,

When ten to ane ‘tis naething

But his fancy’s whim—

Sure when he gets thro’

He’ll find his hame-stake there;

There’s miners mair than ane

Built this “castle in the air”. [page 18]

He thinks his “pile” is made,

And he’s gaein’ hame gin fa’—

He joins his dear auld mither,

His faither, freends and a’—

His heart e’en jumps wi’ joy,

At the thoughts o’ bein’ there,

Ane’s mony a happy minute,

“Biggin’ castles in the air.”

But hopes that promised high,

In the spring time o’ the year,

Like leave o’ autumn fa’

When the frost o’ winter’s near;

Sae his biggin’ tum’les doon,

Wi’ ilka blast o’ care,

’Till there’s no a “stane left stannin,”

O’ his “castles in the air.”

“Toiling and sorrowing,

On thro’ life he goes,

Each morning sees some work begun,

Each evening sees it close”—

But he has aye the grit,

Tho’ his tum-tum may be sair,

For anither year is coming,

Wi’ its “castles in the air.”

Tho’ fortune may not smile

Upon his labors here,

There is a warld abune,

Where his prospects will be clear—

If he now accept the offer

O’ a stake beyond compare—

A happy hame for aye,

Wi’ a “castle in the air.”

Cariboo Songs

~

MY HEART IS YOUNG

My heart is young, tho’ tresses grey

Have sent the blooming cheeks away;

The face once fair is pale and grim, [page 19]

With wrinkled brow and eyesight dim.

           It is not the years that makes me old.

           For they are few and quickly told.

           But grief and sorrow for the past

           Upon my life a blight have cast.

My heart is young, tho’ withered frame

And tottering step deny the same;

Tho’ shaking voice and sunken eye

And trembling hand the truth belie.

        It is not years that makes me old.

My heart is young, tho’ never gay,

Its fondest hopes have passed away;

The summer day dreams of the past

Have vanished with the winter’s blast.

        It is not years that makes me old.

The youth I loved was all to me,

But when accursed coquetry

Denied; and when he asked me so,

With lying tongue I answered, No!

        It is not years that makes me old.

I never, never shall forget

His look (which fancy pictures yet)

That fatal moment, when I spurned

The love which should have been returned.

        It is not years that makes me old.

Had I not said that fatal no,

So full of misery and woe,

This day I should have been the bride

Of him who died a suicide!

        It is not years that makes me old.

Tal. O. Eifion

Davis Creek, June 1st, 1868                                                                                   Cariboo Sentinel

[page 20]

A CONTRAST

In town when I first saw him, oh! what a heavy swell,

The envy of all fast young men, admired by every belle,

His moustache and beard so neatly trimmed, his teeth as white as pearls,

While his glossy tile sat lightly on his rich luxuriant curls;

In a neat, well-fitting costume, cut in the latest style,

He sauntered up and down the streets with a self-complacent smile.

Young ladies’ eyes would brighter grow when they saw his form appear,

And whispered in sweet confidence “Oh! isn’t he a dear!”

When next I saw him, oh! how changed, the tale is sad but true,

He’d then been six months prospecting in far-famed Cariboo;

An angry frown I saw instead of the self-complacent smile,

An old boot-top he wore in place of the bright and glossy tile;

In a tangled mass, uncut, uncombed, his once rich head of hair,

Now mingled with his tough, coarse beard, no longer trimmed with care,

His hands were hard, one blackened eye, told of a shindy recent,

While his dress, in any land save this, would I doubt be thought indecent;

His unwashed face, begrimed with dirt, was wrinkled, thin, and haggard,

In fact, to use plain terms, he looked a most accomplished blackguard.

I entered his small cabin which just measured nine feet square,

And all within was comfortless, and desolate, and bare;

In one dark corner stood his bed, or bunk—as miners say—

Where free from trouble, in sweet dreams, he wandered far away;

His table an inverted tub, a block his only seat,

While in the corner, on the ground, stood all he had to eat;

That stock, tho’ small, comprised the same one meets in mining scenes,

Some coffee, sugar, flour and salt, some bacon and some beans;

He put some coffee in a pan “now roast that if you will

Then smash it with that broken axe, it is my only mill;

I nothing else have got to drink, for as you’ll shortly see

As I have no tobacco got I’m forced to smoke my tea;”

Some flour and water then he mixed, while I did as he said,

He fried it in some bacon grease and then pronounced it bread;

The last piece of his bacon cooked, upon a broken shovel,

We placed our grub upon the tub, in the center of the hovel.

Our supper soon discussed—we each then lit a pipe of tea,

Which drew from out my worthy friend this strange soliloquy: [page 21]

‘Who, but an idiot, ever would have sought these cursed mines,

To live like any other beast, ‘mong mountains, rocks and pines;

And yet, I was advised to come, as all must succeed here,

Who had the energy to try, and the pluck to persevere;

The bible, too, proclaims in words I could not disbelieve

‘Whate’er ye seek ye’ll surely find, whate’er ye ask receive,’

Yet here for months I’ve persevered, I’ve tried and tried again,

I’ve sought, but nothing I have found, I’ve asked but asked in vain;

I’ve worked, and toiled, and slaved, and lived of every comfort shorn,

Till finding all a heartless hoax, I’ve wished I’d ne’er been born;

I’ve seen each new born hope decay, each fresh endeavor fail,

Till now, sunk hopelessly in debt, I’m threatened with the jail;

But their threats shall never be fulfilled, tho’ many a curse they’ll shower

On me, while paying them at the rate of four miles to the hour;

Tho’ destitute and hungry, I care not so I’m free—

So come, my boy, fill up, let’s have—a parting pipe of tea!”

Next morning with a summons came a “trap” my friend to bone!

I offered him a pipe of tea, for I smoked there—quite alone!

(Unsigned)

Cariboo Sentinel, July 15, 1865

~

THE OLD RED SHIRT

A Miner came to my cabin door,

       His clothes they were covered with dirt;

He held out a piece he desired me to wash,

       Which I found was an old red shirt.

His cheeks were thin, and furrow’d his brow,

       His eyes they were sunk in his head;

He said that he had got work to do,

       And be able to earn his bread.

He said that the “old red shirt” was torn,

       And asked me to give it a stitch;

But it was threadbare, and sorely worn,

       Which showed me he was far from rich. [page 22]

O! Miners with good paying claims,

       O! Traders who wish to do good,

Have pity on men who earn your wealth,

       Grudge the poor miner his food.

Far from these mountains a poor mother mourns

       The darling that hung by her skirt,

When contentment and plenty surrounded the home

       Of the miner that brought me the shirt.

Rebecca

(Cariboo Songs)

~

THE PROSPECTOR’S SHANTY

See yonder shanty on the hill,

’Tis but a humble biggin’

Some ten by six within the wa’s—

Your head may touch the riggin’—

The door stands open to the south,

The fire, outside the door;

The logs are chinket close wi’ fog—

And nocht but mud the floor—

A knife an’ fork, a pewter plate,

An’ cup o’ the same metal,

A teaspoon an’ a sugar bowl.

A frying-pan an’ kettle;

The bakin’ board hangs on that wa’,

Its purposes are twa-fold—

For mixing bred wi’ yeast or dough,

Or panning oot the braw gold!

A log or twa in place o’ stools,

A bed withoot a hangin’,

Are feckly a’ the furnishin’s

This little house belangin’;

The laird and tenant o’ this sty,

I canna name it finer,

Lives free an’ easy as a lord,

Tho’ but an “honest miner”.

James Anderson

[page 23]

YOUNG TED BROWN

Sung by Mr. John Hudson at the Theatre Royal, Barkerville, on New Year;s Eve, 1867

Air—“Riding on a Railroad Car”.

Young Ted Brown was a fine young man,

At Westminster he staid—

He used to attend the The-a-tre,

And ran with the Fire Brigade.

Ted, he took the Cariboo fever—

Folks said he was a fool—

But he rolled up his blankets,

And started up the river,

Riding on his pack mule.

                  Chorus—“But he rolled,” etc.

Now, when he got up to the Mouth,

And saw the piles of gold

Staked on cards, and won so free,

Like ’49,—days of old—

Ted staked and lost the usual way—

But he took all this quite cool,

And he rolled up his blankets,

And started on his way

Riding on his old pack mule.

                  Chorus—“And he rolled,” etc.

Next day he got to Williams Creek,

Tho’ he had ne’er a dime—

But he made a pile within a week,

And left in double-quick time—

Now you may see him at the play any night,

To enjoy himself is his rule;

He wears boiled shirts, and I saw him yesterday,

A riding on his old pack mule.

                  Chorus—“He wears,” etc.

Anonymous

(Cariboo Songs)

[page 24]

COME MINERS

Air—“Toll the Bell”

Come, miners, listen to my song—

A song I sing for you,

To cheer you on your rough-hewn way,

While here in Cariboo;

Tho’ hard the lot of “cruel fate,”

Hopes lost—fall after fall—

And “Hard Times” for a cabin mate,

Still persevere thro’ all.

Chorus

Cheer up, my boys, let not your courage fail,

But spread your canvas open to the gale;

You know not how soon the fav’ring breeze may steer,

Then sing to-day, with hearts so gay, cheer, boys, cheer.

The sailor braves the stormy sea,

And dares the angry wave—

And the soldier fights for glory,

That finds him in the grave.

More daring still, the miner’s strife,

In scaling Fortune’s height—

For in the “battle-field of life,”

His is the hardest fight.

Chorus—Cheer up, my boys, etc.

Tho’ sick the “tum-tum” of your heart,

From oft depressing blows—

Ah, never, boys, thro’ up the sponge,

Till death your eyes do close—

Tho’ dark the future may appear,

The sky with clouds o’ercast,

The sun that’s shining in the rear,

Will burst the veil at last.

Chorus—Cheer up, my boys, etc.

(Cariboo Songs)

[page 25]

LINES TO THE TELEGRAPH

Who can tell what wire’s worth

When it’s wound around the earth,

Bearing safe o’er land and sea

Flashing electricity?

Telegraph with mystic hands

Reveals the news of many lands;

Honest, faithful, silent slave,

Serving both the just and knave.

There’s nothing like the Telewag,

Altho’ the bulky letter bag

We must confess was quite a boon

When it arrived but once a moon!

In those days when news came slow,

Often stopped by rain or snow,

How we used to guess and guess

What news we’d have by next Express!

Now we’ll know per Operator

Those news ahead and something later.

Soon we’ll know in Cariboo

The doings of the dark Hindoo,

And we’ll hear within a day

What the folks in Europe say,

Last reports from Madame Rumor—

Bis. and Nappy’s latest humor,

And how Gladstone, Bright and Dizzy

Fight when Parliament is busy;

All their talk will in a twinkle

Be rushing madly past Van Winkle,

Quicker than the rushing wind,

Leaving everything else behind,

Coming from an Eastern clime,

Chasing, racing, beating Time.

                                                                             Tal. O. Eifion      

(Cariboo Sentinel July 9, 1868)

[page 26]

WAITING FOR THE MAIL

Man’s life is like a medley.

Composed of many airs,

Which make us glad or make us sad,

And oft our laughter dares;

E’en so our hearts have many cords

And strains of light and strong,

Which make us glad or make us sad,

Like changes in the song;

Our smiles and tears, our hopes and fears,

Our sorrows never fail—

But ev’ry heart knows not the smart

Of waiting for the mail.

A teamster from the Beaver Pass—

“What news of the Express?”

“’Twas there last night, if I heard right;

’Twill be in to-day, I guess’.”

A miner, next on William Creek

Arrived, from wint’ring south,

“He heard some say ’twould be to-day

Expected at the Mouth,”

But here comes Poole, in haste his rule—

“Hallo! what of the mail?”

From him we learn, with some concern,

“Just two days out from Yale!”

Ah! waiting is a weariness,

“The Express is at Van Winkle!”

This makes the face deny the case,

And quite removes a wrinkle.

A few hours more—a great uproar—

The express is come at last!

An Eastern mail, see by the bale,

As “Sullivan” goes past;

An’ now, an eager, anxious crowd

Await the letter sale,

Postmaster curst—their “wrath was nurs’d”

By waiting for the mail.

“Hurrah!” at length the window’s up—

“There’s nothing, ‘John’ for me?” [page 27]

John knows the face—the letter place—

“Two bits on that,” says he.

And many come and many go,

In sorrow or delight,

While some will say, “theirs met delay,”

Whose friends forgot to write;

An anxious heart, who stands apart,

Expectant of a letter,

With hopeful mind, but fears to find

Some loved one still his debtor.

The day is pass’d, the office closed,

The letters are delivered,

And some have joy without alloy,

While some fond hopes are shivered;

A sweetheart wed—a dear friend dead,

Or closer tie is broken;

Ah! many an ache the heart may take

By words tho’ never spoken.

But whether good or bad the news,

This happens without fail—

Your letter read—the fire is fed

For waiting on the mail.

An’ noo, dear Sawney, “Fare thee weel!”

Tho’ we can never meet,

Ye’ll hae a big share o’ my heart,

As ye hae o’ this sheet.

My fondest hope is but to find

Some hearts as leal an’ true

’Mang Scotland’s hills an’ Scotland’s dales,

As friends in Cariboo.

James Anderson

~

SONG OF THE MINE

Drift! Drift! Drift!

From the early morn till night.

Drift! Drift! Drift!

From twilight till broad day light,

With pick, and crow-bar and sledge, [page 28]

Breaking a hard gravel face;

In slum, and water and mud,

Working with face-board and brace;

Main set, false set, and main set—

Repeated, shift after shift—

Day after day the same song—

The same wearisome Song of the Drift.

Hoist! Hoist! Hoist!

No music there is in that sound!

Hoist! Hoist! Hoist!—

Impatient voice underground!

You may wish your arm a crank

Attached to a water wheel!

With no aching bones at night,

Nor a weary frame to feel—

‘Tis vain! Hoist! Hoist away! Hoist!—

The dirt comes heavy and moist,

And thirty buckets an hour

“Foot” to the tune of Hoist! Hoist!

Wash! Wash! Wash!

And rattle the rocks around,

Is the song the Dump-box sings,

So cheery the whole week round;

And on Sunday “clean me up,”

And gather the precious “pay”.

“Better the day, better the deed,”

Should read, “better the deed—the day.”

Now say, what have you “wash’d up?”

Small wages—well, never repine—

You know, we’ll do better next week!

And so ended the Song of the Mine.

James Anderson

~

THE SPELL OF THE YUKON

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;

       I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.

Was it famine or scurvy—I fought it; [page 29]

[unnumbered page, includes illustration]

       I hurled my youth into a grave.

I wanted the gold and I got it—

       Came out with a fortune last fall,—

Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,

       And somehow the gold isn’t all.

No! There’s the land. (Have you seen it?)

       It’s the cussedest land that I know,

From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it,

       To the deep, deathlike valleys below.

Some say God was tired when He made it;

       Some say it’s a fine land to shun;

Maybe: but there’s some as would trade it

       For no land on earth—and I’m one.

You come to get rich (damned good reason),

       You feel like an exile at first;

You hate it like hell for a season,

       And then you are worse than the worst.

It grips you like some kinds of sinning;

       It twists you from foe to a friend;

It seems it’s been since the beginning;

       It seems it will be to the end.

I’ve stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow

       That’s plumb-full of hush to the brim;

I’ve watched the big, husky sun wallow

       In crimson and gold, and grow dim,

Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,

       And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;

And I’ve thought that I surely was dreaming,

       With the peace o’ the world piled on top.

The summer—no sweeter was ever;

       The sunshiny woods all athrill;

The greyling aleap in the river,

       The bighorn asleep on the hill.

The strong life that never knows harness;

       The wilds where the caribou call;

The freshness, the freedom, the farness—

       O God! how I’m stuck on it all.

The winter! the brightness that blinds you,

       The white land locked tight as a drum, [page 31]

The cold fear that follows and finds you,

       The silence that bludgeons you dumb.

The snows that are older than history,

       The woods where the weird shadows slant;

The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,

       I’ve bade ‘em goodbye—but I can’t.

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,

       And the rivers all run God knows where;

There are lives that are erring and aimless,

       And deaths that just hang by a hair;

There are hardships that nobody reckons;

       There are valleys unpeopled and still;

There’s a land—oh, it beckons and beckons,

       And I want to go back—and I will.

They’re making my money diminish;

       I’m sick of the taste of champagne.

Thank God! when I’m skinned to a finish

       I’ll pike to the Yukon again.

I’ll fight—and you bet it’s no sham-fight;

       It’s hell!—but I’ve been there before;

And it’s better than this by a damsite—

       So me for the Yukon once more.

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;

       It’s luring me on as of old;

Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting,

       So much as just finding the gold.

It’s the great, big, broad land ‘way up yonder,

       It’s the forests where silence has lease;

It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,

       It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

Robert W. Service

~

THE LAW OF THE YUKON

This is the law of the Yukon, and ever she makes it plain:

“Send not your foolish and feeble; send me your strong and your sane.

Strong for the red rage of battle; sane, for I harry them sore;

Send me men girt for the combat, men who are grit to the core; [page 32]

Swift as the panther in triumph, fierce as the bear in defeat,

Sired of a bulldog parent, steeled in the furnace heat.

Send me the best of your breeding, lend me your chosen ones;

Them will I take to my bosom, them will I call my sons;

Them will I gild with my treasure, them will I glut with my meat;

But the others—the misfits, the failures—I trample under my feet.

Dissolute, damned and despairful, crippled and palsied and slain,

Ye would send me the spawn of your gutters—

Go! take back your spawn again.

“Wild and wide are my borders, stern as death is my sway;

From my ruthless throne I have ruled alone for a million years and a day;

Hugging my mighty treasure, waiting for man to come:

Till he swept like a turbid torrent, and after him swept—the scum.

The pallid pimp of the dead-line, the enervate of the pen,

One by one I weeded them out, for all that I sought was—Men.

One by one I dismayed them, frighting them sore with my glooms;

One by one I betrayed them into my manifold dooms.

Drowned them like rats in my rivers, starved them like curs on my plains,

Rotted the flesh that was left them, poisoned the blood in their veins;

Burst with my winter upon them, searing forever their sight,

Lashed them with fungus-white faces, whimpering wild in the night;

Staggering blind through the storm-whirl, stumbling mad through the snow,

Frozen stiff in the ice pack, brittle and bent like a bow;

Featureless, formless, forsaken, scented by wolves in their flight,

Left for the wind to make music through ribs that are glittering white;

Gnawing the black crust of failure, searching the pit of despair,

Crooking the toe in the trigger, trying to patter a prayer;

Going outside with an escort, raving with lips all foam;

Writing a cheque for a million, driveling feebly of home;

Lost like a louse in the burning. . . or else in the tented town

Seeking a drunkard’s solace, sinking and sinking down;

Steeped in the slime at the bottom, dead to a decent world,

Lost ’mid the human flotsam, far on the frontier hurled;

In the camp at the bend of the river, with its dozen saloons aglare,

Its gambling dens ariot, its gramophones all ablare;

Crimped with the crimes of a city, sin-ridden and bridled with lies,

In the hush of my mountained vastness, in the flush of my midnight skies [page 33]

Plague-spots, yet tools of my purpose, so natheless I suffer them thrive,

Crushing my Weak in their clutches, that only my Strong may survive.

’But the others, the men of my mettle, the men who would ‘stablish my fame,

Unto its ultimate issue, winning me honor, not shame;

Searching my uttermost valleys, fighting each step as they go,

Shooting the wrath of my rapids, scaling my ramparts of snow;

Ripping the guts of my mountains, looting the beds of my creeks,

Them will I take to my bosom, and speak as a mother speaks.

I am the land that listens, I am the land that broods;

Steeped in eternal beauty, crystalline waters and woods.

Long have I waited lonely, shunned as a thing accurst,

Monstrous, moody, pathetic, the last of the lands and the first;

Visioning camp-fires at twilight, sad with a longing forlorn,

Feeling my womb o’er pregnant with the seed of cities unborn.

Wild and wide are my borders, stern as death is my sway,

And I wait for the men who will win me—and I will not be won in a day;

And I will not be won by the weaklings, subtile, suave and mild,

But by men with the hearts of vikings, and the simple faith of a child;

Desperate, strong and resistless, unthrottled by fear or defeat,

Them will I gild with my treasure, them will I glut with my meat.

“Lofty I stand from each sister land, patient and wearily wise,

With the weight of a world of sadness in my quiet, passionless eyes;

Dreaming alone of a people, dreaming alone of a day,

When men shall rape my riches, and curse me and go away;

Making a bawd of my bounty, fouling the hand that gave—

Till I rise in my wrath and I sweep on their path and I stamp them into a grave.

Dreaming of men who will bless me, of women esteeming me good,

Of children born in my borders, of radiant motherhood;

Of cities leaping to stature, of fame like a flag unfurled,

As I pour the tide of my riches in the eager lap of the world.”

This is the law of the Yukon, that only the Strong shall thrive;

That surely the Weak shall perish, and only the Fit survive.

Dissolute, damned and despairful, crippled and palsied and slain,

This is the Will of the Yukon,—Lo! how she makes it plain!

Robert W. Service

[page 34]

THE TRAIL OF NINETY-EIGHT

Gold! We leapt from our benches. Gold! We sprang from our stools

Gold! We wheeled in the furrow, fired with the faith of fools.

Fearless, unfound, unfitted, far from the night and the cold,

Heard we the clarion summons, followed the master-lure—Gold!

Men from the sands of the Sunland; men from the woods of the West;

Men from the farms and the cities, into the Northland we pressed.

Graybeards and striplings and women, good men and bad men and bold,

Leaving our homes and our loved ones, crying exultantly—Gold!

Never was seen such an army, pitiful, futile, unfit;

Never was seen such a spirit, manifold courage and grit,

Never has been such a cohort under one banner unrolled

As surged to the ragged-edged Arctic, urged by the arch-tempter—Gold.

“Farewell!” we cried to our dearests; little we cared for their tears.

“Farewell!” we cried to the humdrum and the yoke of the hireling years;

Just like a pack of school-boys, and the big crowd cheered us good-bye.

Never were hearts so uplifted, never were hopes so high.

The spectral shores flitted past us, and every whirl of the screw

Hurled us nearer to fortune, and ever we planned what we’d do—

Do with the gold when we got it—big, shiny nuggets like plums,

There in the sand of the river, gouging it out with our thumbs.

And one man wanted a castle, another a racing stud;

A third would cruise in a palace yacht like a rednecked prince of blood.

And so we dreamed and we vaunted, millionaires to a man,

Leaping to wealth in our visions long ere the trail began.

II

We landed in wind-swept Skagway. We joined the weltering mass,

Clamoring over their outfits, waiting to climb the Pass.

We tightened our girths and our pack-straps; we linked on the Human Chain,

Struggling up to the summit, where every step was a pain.

Gone was the joy of our faces, grim and haggard and pale;

The heedless mirth of the shipboard was changing to the care of the trail.

We flung ourselves in the struggle, packing our grub in relays,

Step by step to the summit in the bale of winter days. [page 35]

Floundering deep in the sump-holes, stumbling out again;

Crying with cold and weakness, crazy with fear and pain.

Then from the depths of our travail, ere our spirits were broke,

Grim, tenacious and savage, the lust of the trail awoke.

“Klondike or bust!” rang the slogan; every man for his own.

Oh, how we flogged the horses, staggering skin and bone!

Oh, how we cursed their weakness, anguish they could not tell,

Breaking their hearts in our passion, lashing them on till they fell!

For grub meant gold to our thinking, and all that could walk must pack;

The sheet for the shambles stumbled, each with a load on its back;

And even the swine were burdened, and grunted and squealed and rolled,

And men went mad in the moment, huskily clamoring “Gold”!

Oh, we were brutes and devils, goaded by lust and fear!

Our eyes were strained to the summit; the weaklings dropped to the rear,

Falling in heaps by the trail-side, heart-broken, limp and wan;

But the gaps closed up in an instant, and heedless the chain went on.

Never will I forget it, there on the mountain face,

Antlike, men with their burdens, clinging in icy space;

Dogged, determined and dauntless, cruel and callous and cold,

Cursing, blaspheming, reviling, and ever that battlecry—Gold!”

Thus toiled we, the army of fortune, in hunger and hope and despair,

Till glacier, mountain and forest vanished, and, radiantly fair,

There at our feet lay Lake Bennet, and down to its welcome we ran;

The trail of the land was over, the trail of the water began.

III

We built our boats and we launched them. Never has been such a fleet;

A packing-case for a bottom, a mackinaw for a sheet.

Shapeless, grotesque, lopsided, flimsy, makeshift and crude,

Each man after his fashion builded as best he could.

Each man worked like a demon, as prow to rudder we raced;

The winds of the Wild cried “Hurry!”, the voice of the waters, “Haste!”

We hated those driving before us; we dreaded those pressing behind;

We cursed the slow current that bore us; we prayed to the God of the wind. [page 36]

Spring! and the hillsides flourished, vivid in jewelled green;

Spring! and our hearts’ blood nourished envy and hatred and spleen.

Little cared we for the Spring-birth; much cared we to get on—

Stake in the Great White Channel, stake ere the best be gone.

The greed of gold possessed us, pity and love were forgot;

Covetous visions obsessed us; brother with brother fought.

Partner with partner wrangled, each one claiming his due;

Wrangled and halved their oufits, sawing their boats in two.

Thuswise we voyaged Lake Bennet, Tagish, then Windy Arm,

Sinister, savage and baleful, boding us hate and harm.

Many a scow was shattered there on that iron shore;

Many a heart was broken straining at sweep and oar.

We roused Lake Marsh with a chorus, we drifted many a mile;

There was the canyon before us—cave-like its dark defile;

The shores swept faster and faster; the river narrowed to wrath;

Waters that hissed disaster reared upright in our path.

Beneath us the green tumult churning, above us the cavernous gloom;

Around us, swift twisting and turning, the black sullen walls of a tomb.

We spun like a chip in a mill-race; our hearts hammered under the test;

Then—oh, the relief on each chill face!—we soared into sunlight and rest.

Hands sought for hand on the instant. Cried we, “Our troubles are o’er!”

Then, like a rumble of thunder, heard we a canorous roar.

Leaping and boiling and seething, saw we a cauldron afume;

There was the rage of the rapids, there was the menace of doom.

The river springs like a racer, sweeps through a gash in the rock;

Buts at the boulder-ribbed bottom, staggers and rears at the shock;

Leaps like a terrified monster, writhes in its fury and pain;

Then with the crash of a demon springs to the onset again.

Dared we that ravening terror; heard we its din in our ears;

Called on the Gods of our fathers, juggled forlorn like a fleece;

Then, when our dread was the greatest, crashed into safety and peace.

But what of the others that followed, losing their boats by the score?

Well could we see them and hear them, strung down that desolate shore.

What of the poor souls that perished? Little of them shall be said—

On to the Golden Valley, pause not to bury the dead. [page 37]

Then there were days of drifting, breezes soft as a sigh;

Night trailed her robe of jewels over the floor of the sky.

The moonlit stream was a python, silver, sinuous, vast,

That writhed on a shroud of velvet—well, it was done at last.

There were the tents of Dawson, there the scar of the slide;

Swiftly we poled o’er the shallows, swiftly leapt o’er the side.

Fires fringed the mouth of Bonanza; sunset gilded the dome;

The test of the trail was over—thank God, thank God, we were Home!

Robert W. Service

~

THE PROSPECTOR

I strolled up old Bonanza, where I staked in ninety-eight,

       A-purpose to revisit the old claim.

I kept thinking mighty sadly of the funny ways of Fate,

       And the lads who once were with me in the game.

Poor boys, they’re down-and-outers, and there’s scarcely one to-day

       Can show a dozen colors in his poke;

And me, I’m still prospecting, old and battered, gaunt and gray,

       And I’m looking for a grub-stake, and I’m broke.

I strolled up old Bonanza. The same old moon looked down;

       The same old landmarks seemed to yearn to me;

But the cabins all were silent, and the flat, once like a town,

       Was mighty still and lonesome-like to see.

There were piles and piles of tailings where we toiled with pick and pan,

       And turning round a bend I heard a roar,

And there a giant gold-ship of the very newest plan

       Was tearing chunks of pay-dirt from the shore.

It wallowed in its water-bed; it burrowed, heaved and swung;

       It gnawed its way ahead with grunts and sighs;

Its bill of fare was rock and sand; the tailings were its dung;

       It glared around with fierce electric eyes.

Full fifty buckets crammed its maw; it bellowed out for more;

       It looked like some great monster in the gloom.

With two to feed its sateless greed, it worked for seven score,

       And I sighed: “Ah, old-time miner, here’s your doom!” [page 38]

The idle windlass turns to rust; the sagging sluicebox falls;

       The holes you digged are water to the brim;

You little sod-roofed cabins with the snugly moss-chinked walls

       Are deathly now and mouldering and dim.

The battle-field is silent where of old you fought it out;

       The claims you fiercely won are lost and sold;

But there’s a little army that they’ll never put to rout—

       The men who simply live to seek the gold.

The men who can’t remember when they learned to swing a pack,

       Or in what lawless land the quest began;

The solitary seeker with his grub-stake on his back,

       The restless buccaneer of pick and pan.

On the mesas of the Southland, on the tundras of the North,

       You will find us, changed in face but still the same;

And it isn’t need, it isn’t greed that send us faring forth—

       It’s the fever, it’s the glory of the game.

For once you’ve panned the speckled sand and seen the bonny dust,

       Its peerless brightness blinds you like a spell;

It’s little else you care about; you go because you must,

       And you feel that you could follow it to hell.

You’d follow it in hunger, and you’d follow it in cold;

       You’d follow it in solitude and pain;

And when you’re stiff and battened down let someone whisper “Gold”,

       You’re lief to rise and follow it again.

Yet look you, if I find the stuff it’s just like so much dirt;

       I fling it to the four winds like a child.

It’s wine and painted women and the things that do me hurt,

       Till I crawl back, beggared, broken, to the Wild.

Till I crawl back, sapped and sodden, to my grubstake and my tent—

       There’s a city, there’s an army (hear them shout).

There’s the gold in millions, millions, but I haven’t got a cent;

       And oh, it’s me, it’s me that found it out.

It was my dream that made it good, my dream that made me go

       To lands of dread and death disprized of man;

But oh, I’ve known a glory that their hearts will never know,

       When I picked the first big nugget from my pan.

It’s still my dream, my dauntless dream, that drives me forth once more

       To seek and starve and suffer in the Vast;

That heaps my heart with eager hope, that glimmers on before—

       My dream that will uplift me to the last. [page 39]

Perhaps I am stark crazy, but there’s none of you too sane;

       It’s just a little matter of degree.

My hobby is to hunt out gold; it’s fortressed in my brain;

       It’s life and love and wife and home to me.

And I’ll strike it, yes, I’ll strike it, I’ve a hunch I cannot fail;

       I’ve a vision, I’ve a prompting, I’ve a call;

I hear the hoarse stampeding of an army on the trail,

       To the last, the greatest gold camp of them all.

Beyond the shark-tooth ranges sawing savage at the sky

       There’s a lowering land no white man ever struck;

There’s gold, there’s gold in millions, and I’ll find it if I die,

       And I’m going there once more to try my luck.

Maybe I’ll fail—what matter? It’s a mandate, it’s a vow;

       And when in lands of dreariness and dread

You seek the last lone frontier, far beyond your frontiers now,

       You will find the old prospector, silent, dead.

You will find a tattered tent-pole with a ragged robe below it;

       You will find a rusted gold-pan on the sod;

You will find the claim I’m seeking, with my bones as stakes to show it;

       But I’ve sought the last Recorder, and He’s—God.

Robert W. Service

~

THE GOLD-SEEKER

(In memory of One who Perished in the Klondyke Rush).

The sun breaks o’er the mountain top—

The morning mists are riven:

All day against the swollen stream,

His boat is stoutly driven.

The cool night comes at length to rest,

The heart and hands so weary;

While pine-land fancies drift about,

From corners dark and eerie.

The dark pines sing in the soft night wind

Of the yellow gold he hopes to find,

Of a brown-eyed sweetheart left behind,

And a mother fondly waiting. [page 40]

He scales the rugged unknown hills

By paths the wild sheep follow,

Or pausing makes his humble meal

In some secluded hollow;

But ever with the whisp’ring night

Come dreams of far off places,

And once again he seems to see

Two dear familiar faces.

But northern wilds are strange and rough,

Where Nature’s gold lies hidden,

And many lives she claims from those

Who seek her stores unbidden.

Alas! that death should mark this one,

While sparing comrades meaner—

The “trump of God” alone can wake

The silent, lonely dreamer!

The dark pines sing in the soft night wind

Of the yellow gold he hoped to find.

Of a sad-eyed sweetheart left behind,

And a mother’s heart that’s breaking.

George E. Winkler

~

THE COBALT SONG

You may talk about your cities and all the towns you know,

With trolley cars and pavements hard and theatres where you go,

You can have your little auto and carriages so fine,—

But it’s hob-nail boots and a flannel shirt in Cobalt town for mine.

Chorus

                  For we’ll sing a little song of Cobalt,

                  If you don’t live there it’s your fault.

                  Oh, you Cobalt, where the wintry breezes blow,

                  Where all the silver comes from,

                  And you live a life and then some,

                  Oh, you Cobalt, you’re the best old town I know.

Old Porcupine is a muskeg, Elk Lake a fire trap,

New Liskeard’s just a country town and Haileybury’s just come back;

You can buy the whole of Latchford for a nickel or a dime,—

But it’s hob-nail boots and a flannel shirt in Cobalt town for mine. [page 41]

[unnumbered page, includes illustration]

Elk Lake was only a bubble, Gowganda had a few,

Old Larder Lake was just a fake, Lorrain was a whisper too,

Swastika is a rockpile, hot air is Porcupine,—

But it’s hob-nail boots and a flannel shirt in Cobalt town for mine.

We’ve got the only Lang Street; there’s blind pigs everywhere,

Old Cobalt Lake’s a dirty place, there’s mud all over the square,

We’ve got the darndest railroad, that never runs on time,—

But it’s hob-nail boots and a flannel shirt in Cobalt town for mine.

We’ve bet our dough on hockey and swore till the air was blue,

The Cobalt stocks have emptied our socks with the dividends cut in two,

They don’t get any of our money in darned old Porcupine,—

But it’s hob-nails boots and a flannel shirt in Cobalt town for mine.

L. F. Steenman (1910)

~

SALUTE TO COBALT

There were days of great triumphing,

There were years of greater joy;

Good old Cobalt I remember,

Even though a tiny boy.

All the world can well remember,

How you gave, and gave, and gave;

And within our blessed memory,

We have found for you a grave.

C. E. Crozelle

~

THE CALCITE VEIN

A Tale of Cobalt

I used to be leevin’ on Bonami

       Fines’ place on de lake, you bet!

An’ dough I go off only wance sapree!

       I t’ink I will leev’ dere yet;

Wit’ tree growin’ down to de water side,

       W’ere leetle bird dance an’ sing—

Only come an’ see you don’t shout wit’ me

       Hooraw for Temiskaming! [page 43]

But silver “boom” an’ de cobalt bloom,

       Play de devil wit’ Bonami,

So off on de wood, we all mus’ go,

       Leavin’ de familee—

Shovel an’ pick, hammer an’ drill,

       We carry dem ev’ryw’ere,

For workin’ away all night an’ day

       Till it’s tam to be millionaire.

So it ain’t very long w’en I mak’ de strike,

       W’at dey’re callin’ de vein cal-cite,

Quarter an inch, jus’ a leetle “pinch”,

       But she is come all right

An’ widen out beeg; mebbe wan sixteen,

       An’ now we have got her sure;

So we jump on our hat w’en she go like dat,

       Me and Bateese Couture!

Early in de spring we see dat vein,

       W’en de pat-ridge begin to drum,

De leaf on de bush start in wit’ a rush,

       An’ de skeeter commence to come—

Very nice time on de wood for sure,

       If you want to be goin’ die,

Skeeter at night till it’s come daylight,

       An’ affer dat, small black fly!

Couple o’ gang like dat, ma frien’,

       ’Specially near de swamp,

An’ hongry too, dey can bite and chew,

       An’ keep you upon de jomp;

But never you min’, only work away

       As long as de vein is dere,

For a t’ing so small don’t count at all,

       If you want to be a millionaire!

 “An’ dis is de price,” Bateese he say,

       “T’ree million or not’ing at all.”

An’ I say, “You’re crazy, it’s five you mean,

       An’ more if you wait till fall.

An’ s’pose de silver was come along,

       An’ cobalt she bloom an’ bloom,

We look very sick if we sole too quick,

       An’ ev’ryt’ing’s on de boom”. [page 44]

De cash we refuse w’en dey hear de news—

       W’en I t’ink of dat cash today,

I feel like a mouse on a great beeg house,

       W’en de familee move away;

One million, two million, no use to us,

       Me an’ Bateese Couture,

So we work away ev’ry night an’ day,

       De sam we was always poor.

An’ den one morning a stranger man,

       A man wit’ hees hair all w’ite,

Look very wise, an’ he’s moche surprise

       W’en he’s seein’ dat vein cal-cite.

An’ he say, “Ma frien’, for de good advice

       I hope you’ll mak’ some room—

From sweetheart girl to de wide, wide worl’,

       Ketch ev’ryt’ing on de bloom.

“Keep your eye on de vein, for dere’s many a slip

       Till you drink of de silver cup,

An’ if you’re not goin’ to go ’way down,

       You’re goin’ to go ’way, ’way up”.

“Now w’at does he mean?” Bateese he say,

       Affer de ole man lef’.

“Mebbe want to buy, but he t’inks it’s high,

       So we’ll finish de job ourse’f.

Purty quick too.” An’ den hooraw!

       We form it de campagnie,

An’ to give dem a sight on de vein cal-cite,

       We work it on Bonami.

Can’t count de money dat’s comin’ in,

       Same as de lotterie;

Ev’ry wan try, till bimeby

       Dere’s not many dollar on Bonami;

An’ de gang we put onto de job right off,

       Nearly twenty beside de cook,

Hammer an’ drill till dey’re nearly kill,

       An’ feller to watch de book.

Too many man, an’ I see it now,

       An’ I’m sorry, ‘cos I’m de boss;

For walkin’ aroun’ all over de groun’,

       Dat’s reason de vein get los’, [page 45]

Easy enough wit’ de lantern too,

       Seein’ dat vein las’ night,

But to-day I’m out lookin’ all about,

       An’ w’ere is dat vein cal-cite?

Very curious t’ing, but you can’t blame me,

       For I try very hard, I’m sure,

Helpin’ dem all till de vein is gone,

       Me an’ Bateese Couture;

So of course I wonder de way she go,

       An’ twenty cent too a share,

An’ I can’t udnerstan’ dat stranger man

       W’at he mean w’en sayin’ dere:

 “Keep your eye on de vein, for dere’s many a slip

       Till you drink of de silver cup,

An’ if you’re not goin’ to go way down

       You’re goin’ to go ‘way, ‘way up.”

Dr. W.H. Drummond

~

MARRIAGE

There’s a girl at Calabogie an’ another at the Soo,

An’ with sparkin’ and colloguin’, I’ve been foolish with the two;

But I’m foolish now forever, an’ worst of all it come

From a girl I thought was dacint when I used to live at home.

She could dance to bate the fairies that my gran’mother ‘ud tell

Over there in Ireland ha’nted what they call the “holy well”.

She was purty as a wood-duck whin you see him on a tree,

But so proud and independint that she’s never look at me.

So it made me feel onaisy, an’ I drifted far away,

An’ I wint to Calabogie a workin’ by the day.

Of any kind of money the place is mighty bare,

But a girl that took my fancy happened to be livin’ there.

Still the other down the river—how I’d dream of her at night!

Spite of all the times I’d wish her gone completely out o’ sight,

For she used to spile the comfort with the new wan that I had,

An’ a little consolation sure I needed purty bad. [page 46]

Thin the times begin to slacken, an’ I’m gittin’ hard up too,

So goodbye to Calabogie, an’ I started for the Soo;

An’ the girl I left behind me? Lord knows it’s hard to tell,

But another came between, an’ she like me just as well.

Whin you speak of bad luck comin’, mine is worse nor any man’s—

Think of all the good intintions an’ with two o’ thim on me han’s!

One of thim at Calabogie, an’ the other at the Soo,

An’ engaged to both, it’s hard to say exactly what to do.

The Cobalt-silver fever was the worst that’s ever known,

An’ it came in purty handy in cases like my own;

Besides of all the chances, ’twas the one I fancied best,

So I had to go prospectin’ jus’ the same as all the rest.

An’ the girls, of course, they suffered, for I hadn’t time to write,

Divil a thing but pick an’ shovel, an’ workin’ day an’ night—

Till a dacint wild-cat claim I sold for fifteen thousand too—

Now I sez, “It’s all a toss-up—Calabogie or the Soo?”

Calabogie won it aisy, but, the next thing that I heard,

She got tired of waitin’ for me whin she never got a word;

So she married John Mahaffy—“little John” that runs the farm,

An’ the only thing she wished me was, “I’d never come to harm”.

An’ the Soo girl done the same thing—took a brakesman on a freight;

An’ in Winnipeg they’re livin’, so I come a trifle late;

But I’m not afeared to visit Calabogie or the Soo,

For I’ve tried my duty, an’ sure ayther wan ’ud do!

Well, I stood it for a little an’ thin home again I wint,

For with fifteen thousand dollars, any man should be content,

An’ the girl that used to give me many a beautiful heartache,

Sure I wasn’t back a fortnight, till I seen her at a wake.

Quiet now! No palpitation! Watch yerself, my lady buck,

Take your time—don’t get excited—maybe you’ll have better luck.

Then she said her darlin’ mother missed me for a year or more,

’Twould have saved some trouble if her mother spoke like that before.

“Wan thing leadeth to another” sez the poet—dunno who,

But we purty soon go married, so the prophecy come true;

An’ whinever all my fortune’s settled on the daughter sure,

Some wan seen the mother dance a sailor’s hornpipe on the floor. [page 47]

It’s no wonder I’m distracted whin the two o’ thim’ll say,

“Oh! Patrick, mind the baby, sure you got out yesterday”—

Lord forgive me, I’d be happy if the ould wan only died,

But she’s healthy as a tom-cat an’ she couldn’t if she tried.

I suppose I’m doin’ pinnance for the sins of airly youth,

Tho’ I blame it on the women—they betrayed me—that’s the truth.

But for all I know about thim, ’twould have been the same thing too,

With the girl from Calabogie, or the other at the Soo.

Dr. W. H. Drummond

~

BLOOM

A Song of Cobalt

Oh! the blooming cheek of beauty, tho’ it’s full of many a peril,

Where’s the miner doesn’t love it? for he thinks he knows the girl,

While the bloomer! Oh! the bloomer! of emancipated She,

May it bloom and promptly wither every seventh century.

Oh! the early bloom of blossom on the apple tree in June,

Is there mortal having seen it, can forget the picture soon?

And the wine of red October where Falernian juices flow,

I have sipped the blooming beaker (in the ages long ago!).

Oh! the bloom along the hill-side, shining bright among the trees,

When the banners of the autumn are flung out to every breeze,

How it blazes—how it sparkles, and then shivers at a breath:

What is it when all is spoken but the awful bloom of death!

Oh! I’ve watched the rose’s petals, and beheld the summer sun

Dipping down behind Olympus, when the great day’s work was done;

But to-day I’m weary, weary, and the bloom I long to see,

Is the bloom upon the cobalt—that’s the only bloom for me.

Dr. W.H. Drummond

[page 48]

COBALT – “THE ETERNAL RETURN”

(I come again with the sun, with this earth, not to a new life or a similar life; I come again eternally to this identical life.

Thus spake Zarathrustra 111. Frederich Neitzsche.)

Nothin new or yet alike but ever again the same,

Only a change of continent,—and what is in a name?

They called it “St. George” at Schneeberg, we call it Hudson’s Bay

For mines and man and the silver lure are returned to-day.

Fourteen hundred and seventy,—I was a Saxon swain.

Nineteen and four,—and I’m incarnate again.

Four centuries since a Saxon youth staked a cobalt doom.

Four centuries; and again I put my all on the bloom.

La Rose picks a rock from the blasting and straightway is hurled

To Wall Street news of silver—“The Richest Camp in the World”.

The eager rush for claims, while the strong man vies with the sly

The Bulls are strong in the market, and all throats echo “why?”

Values that jump the limit, the wise eyed leading the blind;

None heeding or hearing the cry of the “wild cat” behind.

Humanity turns its face and feet to the rugged North

Mid ice and snow and the pains of death to bring treasure forth.

Away once more from the air, light and the surface of things,

Down to the ore glutted intestines of earth the bucket swings.

Buy and sell Cobalt you dealers; rob her and shout her fame;

Nor remember that at Schneeberg you traded just the same.

Twenty five years it lasted, then Saxon silver shied.

I know, for in shaft and gallery I lived and dug and died.

Twenty five years and barely three finds you timid and cold

Ready to throw your “block” on the market, but I say “hold”.

“Thirty three and a fraction” and now it sells below “ten”

Twenty five years it lasted, and so it will again.

Take pluck and heart to Cobalt Camp in spite of Guggenheim,

There’s two and twenty left us yet and every dog his time. [page 49]

Some on the wheel will be broken, some already have lost

It grinds and turns relentlessly and some must pay the cost.

So I shall die in the shaft, at a hundred feet as before,

Nobody’s fault; a chance piece dropped from a bucket of ore.

The Cobalt vein is given again to the human hive

That some may lose as they always have lost, and some may thrive.

Violet Irwin

N.B.—The only corresponding geological conditions known were in Saxony where cobalt mines were mined at Schneeberg in 1740. In the most famous vein, St. George, operations lasted over a period of twenty five years.

From a report by Prof. Miller, Toronto.

~

L’ENVOI

(with apologies)

When the last silver vein has petered

And the plants are all silent and still

We’ll think with many a heartache

Of the days by old Nipissing Hill.

Of the folks who lived in old Cobalt

And the fun we had with them all

Playing bridge or tennis or skating

Or dancing in Harmony Hall.

Of the days when the ladies were playing

At bridge from morning till eve

Forsaking their husbands and children

(If they had the latter to leave).

And the “Married Bridge Club” when the “Singles”

Were invited to fill up the gap,

Hi Walker, Hugh Park or old Whitworth

And sometimes t’was “Paddy” and “Cap”.

We’ll think of the times at the Watsons

With charades and singing until

We awakened Patricia the Princess

The Pride of old Nipissing Hill. [page 50]

Of the tennis we had at Finucanes’

With our hostess so pretty in pink

And the clover club cocktails she’d mix us

When “a vos beaux yeux” we’d stand up and drink.

We’ll remember the Sundays in summer

When down to Brown’s Island we’d go

Play duck on the rock or we’d sing of

The corn on Mary’s big toe.

Of the drug store that stood on the corner

Where everyone met in the day

Said “How do you do? What nice chocolates,”

“Are you coming along our way?”

We’ll all hit the long trail one day

And drift away elsewhere

But always we’ll long for Cobalt

And the friends that we made there.

The “Salt of the Earth,” none better;

Let us each our glasses fill,

“No heel taps”, to the days, God Bless them,

In the shade of old Nipissing Hill.

J .E. Leckie

~

COBALT SUMMER TIME

A man named La Rose, stubbed the end of his toes

       On a rock he was blasting one day.

He said this is silver, I’ll send it to Miller,

       And get him to take an assay,

When Miller received it, he scarcely believed it,

       He cried, “This is surely sublime.”

So the mining commission got out an edition,

       Describing cobalt in its prime.

Chorus—

The good old summer time, the good old summer time,

       Strolling up and down the hills, looking for a mine,

Searching for a calcite vein, or any other old sign,

       And that’s the way we spend our coin in the good Old summer time. [page 51]

You can make up your mind that the news of the find,

       Soon spread to the ends of the earth,

And people came flocking, it surely was shocking,

       To see what the prospects were worth.

With about half a dollar, some socks and a collar,

       The most of them got into line.

And Smith, poor old chap, had to make each a map,

       It’s a wonder he didn’t resign.

If the calcite is there then you offer a prayer,

       And Robertson or Baker comes around,

Or if it is Mickle you’re in a pickle

       And you’d better go back and sit down.

You think they are rotten and soon they’re forgotten,

       Then you shoulder your pack and your pick,

And you start out again with a couple of men,

       And travel the bush till you’re sick.

We’re all of us in it, when once we begin it,

     We can not let go of the game.

We’re all of us scheming and planning and dreaming,

     Though we call it a different name.

We think that to-morrow, will end all our sorrow,

     And who will object or complain,

If we riot and revel and drink like the devil,

     And then slink away south on the train.

J. Ernest

~

LAY OF THE COBALT MINES

Will you have a little “Nip”

        Said the “Queen” to me one day

As she and “Nancy Helen”

        Came down the “Right of Way”.

Sure I’ll take a “Little Nip”

        And “King Ed” will join us too,

Come on “Old Chap” says I

        For I’m feeling “Cobalt Blue”.

Then the “Princess” came along,

        She looked like “La Rose” to me,

She was feeling “Silver Cross”

        So I took her on my knee. [page 52]

She tried to look “Majestic”

        But she dropped her “Crown Reserve”

When I took her to my “Chambers”

        You bet I had a nerve.

Then “O’Brien” he came strolling by,

        “Watts the matter here”? he said

It’s enough to “Madden” anyone

        “My Silver Bird is dead,”

“Oh dear, oh dear,” the “Duchess” cried

        And she trembled like a “leaf”,

“Fer-Lands” sake “Mann” what will you do?

        You must feel “Meehan” with grief.

The “Colonial” doffed his “Beaver”

        As he stepped on the verandah

The “Silver Bird” was killed, said he

        In a fight with my “Gowganda.”

Then “Violet” with her “Badger”

        Close at her “Silver Heels”

Inquired about the “Jack Pot”

        That was causing all these squeals.

You look so very “Savage”

        Step to the “Silver Bar”

“Big Pete” will serve you whiskey

        Till you don’t know where you are.”

J. E. Leckie

~

COBALT OLD AND NEW

Here once of old the bears plunged through the brake,

(Plunging, and then the break, show still they’re here).

And moose and caribou their haunts did make.

(Here many still find fortune hunting dear).

Here once red Indians did their camp-fires strike,

(To-day each new-made strike fires all the camp).

And on the warpath, seeking gore, they’d hike.

(Now, seeking ore, what throngs their footprints tramp!) [page 53]

Coureurs des bois deep-laden plowed the drifts.

           (In drifts to-day with other lodes men vie).

           The rare furs, bringing, fit for kingly gifts.

(Here now also at times the fur doth fly!)

Here soldiers of the king wrought valiant deed,

(All deeds here now are with suspicion viewed).

For which to some titles well decreed.

(O’er title now what peck of trouble brewed!)

Chill, bleak, this land—Our Lady of the Snows,

(“Cold feet” and “frosts”, now’s lacking neither thing).

“A nipping and an eager air” here blows.

(And nipped are many by this Nip I Sing!)

~

COBALT REVISITED

When life in Cobalt Camp was young,

       And men you knew were men,

When all the glorious future hung

       Upon a silver vein,

The northland stretched so fair and far

       By glistening lake and river,

That naught could dim for you yon star

       Which lighted hope forever.

Now life in Cobalt Camp is old,

       The men you knew are gone;

But silver turns to shining gold

       As memory foots alone

O’er trails you broke through rain or snow

       With those whose manhood cast

A spell, a magic—now aglow—

       The glamour of the past.

Alpine MacGregor

[page 54]

THE EMPIRE OF THE NORTH

Call, that the sleeping nation may waken, and waking hear

The voice of the Northland ringing across blue waters clear.

As she greets the far-flung legions who are making her trails their own,

To carry the banner of progress up to the lands unknown.

Not with the blare of trumpet, not with the rolling of drums,

The army of occupation to this northern empire comes,

But with pick and axe and shovel and the thud of a diamond drill

They enter their land of promise to work with brawn and skill.

’Tis a land of lakes and forests and rivers that flow to the sea,

Where valiant sons are building an empire vast and free,

An empire whose glorious promise time will fulfill the more,

(Call from each pine-clad headland—shout from each birch-lined shore.)

Then here’s to those unsung heroes who paddle unchartered bays,

And here’s to the air-minded stalwarts who travel the blue sky ways.

Here’s to all empire-builders whose love has the deeper grown

For the land of their blest adoption as she comes into her own.

M. May Robinson

~

NORTHLAND TRAILS

Tis a land of lakes and rivers, of forest, hill and sky,

Where the fingers of white birch-trees, caress the pine trees high,

Where rivers ever sing wild songs in forests green and still,

And the silence of the Northland lingers over lake and hill.

And men who know her far-off trails and sleep beneath her skies,

Some of the Northland’s quiet strength lies deep within their eyes,

They’re men who always carry on though things be good or bad,

For the Northland hates a quitter, and the Northland hates a cad.

They do not fear her hard-won trails, or lonely camps at nights,

They’re happy ’neath her starry sky, aglow with northern lights;

And they will vow no other life is half so full and free.

There are men who love the Northland, as a sailor loves the sea. [page 55]

[unnumbered page, includes illustration]

Though the spirit of the Northland be wild and stern and deep,

She keeps her faith with every man if he, too, faith will keep,

And for his loyalty and love she doth return in store,

And, as he gives, gives back to him, all that he gave and more.

‘Tis a land of lakes and rivers, of forest, hill and sky,

Where the fingers of white birch-trees, caress the pine trees high,

Where rivers sing wild songs in forests green and still,

And the silence of the Northland lingers over lake and hill.

M. May Robinson

~

WE NORTHMEN

Well-shaved and sleek in oiled deceit,

       Flat i’ the face and i’ the feet,

Those brokers in the mining town,

       Wear out their bodies sitting down.

But we, northmen, hard-pushed yet game,

       Within us have the living flame;

By pick and paddle, snowshoe, pack,

       Build far up north another shack.

This ball, the earth, is queerly spun;

       One man sits down and “gets the mun”;

Another rises and goes forth

       To pioneer the lonely North.

His manhood set ’gainst those grim fears

       Of what may hap in later years:

His story—one that’s surely writ

       In blood—aye, every word of it.

Alpine MacGregor

[page 57]

PEACE IN THE NORTH

I will but try once more again

       And paddle my light canoe alone

Through regions that, bereft of men,

       Holds all for me and all my own.

In the deep solitude to roam,

       To haste not nor to stay the quest,

Knowing the northland is my home,

       And that myself am nature’s guest.

To feel within what outside reigns—

       The leap of dawn, the glow of day,

Descending night as sunset wanes

       O’er wild lands in some lonely bay.

To fix the camp and build the fire,

       Recline upon fresh balsam brush,

All earthly hope and heart’s desire—

       Peace in the North’s beloved hush.

Alpine MacGregor

~

NOSTALGIA

I’ve blowed my pile—mid the sin and the guile,

With the midnight-crew—with the siren’s smile,

In the wanton’s spell—with the flashy swell,

And I’m skinned to the bone—the city’s hell.

The champagne now tastes sour to me—

I’ll hike for the hills, where the water is free;

Yes, the pines for me—I’ll leave the town,

Where the soul is sinking, sinking down

Mid the noise and blare, the smoke-ridden air,

The painted smiles and the gaslight’s flare.

I’ve the devil to square, and it’s hell to think

What’s spent in a night, and on women and drink,

While children starve—(the wolf at the door)

And the white slaves toil, till the hands are sore.

I’ve shot my wad—I must walk back home,

For not one of the bunch would lend me a “bone”.

In the days of my gold I had many a “friend”,

I feel myself sold—turned down in the end—

I played on the blue—I played on the red, [page 58]

And now I’m clean “busted” and sick on my bed;

And the vampires don’t know me (the whole cursed lot)

In a charity ward, on a charity cot.

I’ll face the storms and rapid’s wrath,

Less dangerous far than the city’s path;

The wounded stag or the fierce, grizzly bear

Are less to be feared than the vampires there—

And I’m sick of it all, with its lights and its sin,

And I’ll hike for the woods, a new life to begin,

To live down the days I lived “up” in town,

Where you feel the soul slipping, and fast sinking down,

Where the lights are aglow, and you’re voted quite slow,

If you don’t hit the high spots and let yourself go.

It’s the levels for me, and the shady pine-tree,

The peace of the wilds, and the winds blowing free,

The freshness of morning, the splendor of noon,

The soul peace of evening, the new risen moon,

The beauties of sunset, the glorious night,

Where we feel the Creator, feel God in His might,

Where the streamlet is purling, the wild flowers abloom,

And the voice of the forest says, “Come, there is room”.

W. Milton Yorke

~

WOOD SMOKE

Note.—during the winter of 1924, two men were lost in a blinding snow storm near the writer’s camp on the edge of the wide barrens to the east of Athabaska river. A chance sift in wind brought to them a whiff of smoke from a camp fire just within the edge of the timber,—and probably saved their lives. The above incident suggested the following lines.

From crannied rock and garden, from glade and hillside bare,

Comes scented breath of lowly flower, of shrub and blossom rare,

From cherry blossoms pink and white, sparkling with morning dews,

From regal lily’s lips, stained with rose purple hues;

From fragrant starred clematis that hangs from garden wall,

From pendant honey laden blooms of scented linden tall,

From primrose gemmed with blossoms along the neat hedge rows,

From apple blossoms’ fragile blooms, white as new fallen snows. [page 59]

On drowsy senses sweet perfumes of flower and shrub may fall,

But other scents may rouse the pulse like strong imperious call,

In yawning pit and dripping shaft, in galleries’ shadowy gloom,

Where craggy walls of lofty stopes out of the darkness loom,—

The foggy breath of powder smoke whispers of rending shock,

Of thudding blast and avalanche of shattered ore and rock.

Behind the shearing plowshare bright stretch the long furrows brown,

And the moist breath of fallow loam comes to the plowman lone,

An age-old instinct dimly stirs, hope beckons ever on,

As the soft voice of Mother Earth whispers to soil-stained son.

Over the somnolent silvery waves comes caress of the evening breeze,

And out of the rushing roaring gale comes challenge of tumbling seas,

And the clean salt tang of ocean’s breath calls to the sailor bold,

As it did to weary war-worn Greeks marching down to the sea of old.

The peat smoke calls to the cotter, the smell of the sawdust brown,

Calls to the tight-rope walker and grimacing painted clown,

And reek of reeling stoke-hold and clanging furnace door,

Calls to the grimy sweating sons of scoop and slicer-bar.

But down from the misty long ago of fireless caverns dark,

When the Fathers first travelled the stubborn wood and fanned the smouldering spark,

The scent of the good blue wood smoke where bivouac fires gleam

Has called to the men of the rolling plain, to the men of forest and stream.

Just a wisp of smoke! but from sheltering spruce on edge of barrens white,

Its breath spells life to panting men in tempest of winter night;

Just a wisp of smoke! but from lowly cot the scent of its trailing plume,

Gladdens the heart of the settler lone,—wearily plodding home;

Just a wisp of smoke! but its faint blue haze floating from teepee tall,

Welcomes the hunter home from the chase,—when shades of evening fall

Just wisps of smoke! but through the North their azure banners stand,

Marking the conquering march of men,—the conquest of the land!

S. C. Ells

~

SONG OF THE MINES

Out of the North there drifts a new song.

The sound is as the singing of a great host.

Its rhythm is prosperity, and its notes are labour.

’Tis a song of yellow gold hewn from ancient rocks, [page 60]

Of far journeyings—of new roads through old forests.

This is a song of diamond drills and firm handclaps,

Of big boots and khaki breeks and plaid wind-breakers,

Of valiant men hewing, trenching, blasting their way,

Claiming for their own the treasures of the earth.

This is a song of log cabins set among old pines

(The smoke of their fires curls above a hundred hills.)

This is a song of long blue waters and deeps snows,

Of far off places and hard-won portages,

Of busy ’planes humming across blue skies.

’Tis the glad new song of building of a mighty empire.

M. May Robinson

~

A GLADE OF BIRCH TREES

A glade of birch trees; silvered light

        On lakes that pass far out of sight;

And slumbrous streams where twilights creep

        Round corners where the nighthawks sweep;

And lonely glades where unseen stirs

        The element life of firs.

And more to make my heart stand still:

        The wail of wild birds on the hill;

Or far above some waterfall

        Where sometimes I have heard a call,

A haunting voice, an echo sound,

        A cry forlorn that turns me round,

Till deep in me I feel a-quiver

        To wander in the north forever.

Alpine MacGregor

~

CALL OF THE WILD

Give me the Call of the Wild,

       And all that it may mean—

The roar of the great bull moose,

       Where man has never been;

Or let me hear the cry of a loon

       At night when the shadows fall,

And I shall stare at a rising moon,

       And never stir at all. [page 61]

Give me the Call of the Wild—

       The sound of geese flying high;

Or myself in a storm on a lake,

       And a camp ground by and by;

This be the love God gave—

       The Call of the Wild to me—

Rain and snow and wind and wave,

       And in the Northland be.

Alpine MacGregor

~

THE ARTIFICER

The canopy of night is cobalt, sprent

With silver curiously wrought. The pent

Gold of the rising and the setting sun

Is one little part of what is done

By the Artificer whose high delight

Is His own handicraft in making bright

Earth, sea, and sky with colours from the ore

Which Nature’s mystic crucibles do pour.

The opalescent miracle of dawn;

The amethystine sky when day is gone;

The emerald green of earth when Spring is young;

The crystal wonders of the North, unsung;

That iridescent marriage of all metals,

The Northern Lights; the colouring of petals;

The bloom on woman’s cheek; the very blush

That crimsons mine when I am writing slush;

All come from Nature’s smelter; She’s a miner,

Likewise a metallurgical refiner.

J.C. Murray

~

TO ONTARIO’S NORTHLAND

I think when God was dealing out your share

Of beauty, wealth and all good things of worth,

Perhaps while thinking deep of something else

His hand slipped open, and there fell to earth

All your high hills which skirt the spangled skies, [page 62]

Your spaces infinite, your lakes of blue,

And those rich treasures which your deep heart holds

Fell from His hand, a precious gift to you.

And when He looked and saw what He had done,

I think He said, “The least that I can do,

Since in the North my hand I’ve opened wide,

I’ll make her people open-hearted too.”

And so throughout our Northernland

Men’s hearts are kind and open as God planned.

M. May Robinson

~

THE MAGIC NORTH

Thou magic North, that draws my gaze to thee,

Thou land of wealth, of distance, far and free,

Thou land of pine-tree, spruce, and silver’s gleam,

Wake thou the nation’s apathetic dream.

Thou mighty giant, in thy waking hour

Stand forth resplendent in thy mystic power;

Thy story of treasure, streams, and valleys broad,

Thy strength unmeasured and thy ways untrod,

Let this wide, wondering world at last behold

Thy wealth of beauty—wealth of soil and gold.

W. Milton Yorke

~

FOOLED

Night in the pines, in the black bull-pines,

       On the height of the bleak divide,

Where the year-long gloom of the sullen North

       And the snows of the last fall bide;

Tracks in the snow of the wandering bear,

       The hoot of a questing owl,

Sobbing of winds that have lost their way—

       From the lake, a gray wolf’s howl;

Flakes that hiss in my dying fire,

       Thoughts that burn in my brain:

“Have I bartered my soul for the world’s desire

       To get me a bond slave’s chain?”

[page 63]

I see the fires of a thousand camps,

       From the Randt to the Arctic Slope,

Strung over the world like a line of lamps

       On the endless road of Hope.

I hear the song of a thousand creeks,

       Washing coarse gold from the hill,

The day-long beat of the pack train’s feet,

       The monotonous ring of the drill.

The mist rolled off from the red-brown fern

       As I rose with the dew in my hair;

Sodden and stiff with a long day’s toil,

       I crept half dead to my lair;

My body stained with the rust-red drip

       Which dropped from my master’s hold,

My soul dyed red with a deeper stain,

       The stain of that devil—Gold.

My loins grew bent, my hands grew crooked,

       My eyes grew blear and dim,

Away from the light of the blessed day

       In the holes where I followed Him.

Toiling for millions I could not use,

       While the life I might use went by,

What wonder the Devil laughs loud to-night

       As he watches his bond slave die!

When I climbed from the hot lush cedar woods

       To the snows of the mountain goat,

Nature was with me in many moods—

       I had only eyes for “float”.

I heard no sigh in the stately trees,

       No voice from the God above;

I asked no pleasure, I sought no ease;

       I laughed at the dear word “love”.

THAT was for fools in the world below,

       The world I would have and hold,

With all that it knew or I cared to know,

       When I’d won me the key to it—Gold.

“Ho! Ho!” Is that only the questing owl?

       Or is it the Thing I sought? [page 64]

The Thing that promised “the world fenced in”—

       That, promising all, gave nought—

The Thing that blinks in the river sand,

       That glares from the night-black shaft?

Was it the call of a hunting owl,

       Or was it a devil laughed?

* * *

There were brave days too, when my birch canoe

       Shot down along streams unknown,

Where the alders budded, a rose gray fringe,

       And the great fish flashed and shone.

Hog-like I rooted where wild flowers cling;

       I drilled the Earth to her core;

I found her sweet as maid in spring,

       I left her a brazen whore.

Lurid and loud the smelter rose

       In the place where the Douglas grew,

From the scented silence of forest moss,

       Till it rocked and dreamed in the blue.

Then the men swarmed in, the wild things went,

   And the voices of birds grew still,

And the ring of the builder’s tool was blent

       With the miner’s blast in the hill.

Men felled God’s forests; His rocks they scarred;

       The silence of God they broke;

His temple they changed to a builder’s yard,

       His sun they veiled with their smoke.

From the heart of the place came a roaring sound

       Of engines men build and weld—

A throb and a beat and a liquid heat,

       And the scream of a powder hard held.

The upward leap of ravenous flames,

       The ceaseless whir of the wheels,

The livid hues of a molten rock

       That writhes like a thing that feels.

’Twas red, warm red, gold red all day;

       ’Twas red, blood red, all night; [page 65]

No pale priest’s prayer could fright men there,

       No God’s sword reach to smite.

Let me crawl back to the world I know,

       Where the brute men strove and bled;

Give me fires of hell for your fields of snow;

       It is silence and sight I dread.

Thy skies, Lord Christ, are cruel clear,

       Thy snows too saintly white;

I cannot bide on the mountain side,

       I dare not die in the night.

The Great Assayer will rack my soul

       From crucible to cupel;

I have learned the value of gold on earth—

       “Ho! Ho!” you shall learn it in hell!

Clive Phillipps-Wolley

~

THE OLD CANOE

My seams gape wide so I’m tossed aside

       To rot on a lonely shore,

While the leaves and mould like a shroud enfold,

       For the last of my trails are o’er.

But I float in my dreams on Northland streams

       That never again I’ll see,

As I lie on the marge of the old portage

       With grief for company.

When the sunset gilds the timbered hills

       That guard Temagami

And the moon beams play on far James Bay

       By the brink of the frozen sea,

In phantom guise my spirit flies

       As the dream blades dip and swing,

Where the waters flow from the long ago

       In the spell of the beckoning spring.

Do the cow moose call on the Montreal

       When the first frost bites the air?

And the mists unfold from the red and gold

       That the autumn ridges wear, [page 66]

When the white falls roar as they did of yore

       On the Lady Evelyn.

Do the squaretail leap from the black pools deep

       Where the pictured rocs begin?

Yea the fur fleet sinks on Temiskaming

       As the ashen paddles bend,

And the crews carouse at Rupert’s House

       At the sullen winter’s end;

But my days are done where the lean wolves run

       And I’ll ripple no more thy path,

Where the gray geese race ’cross the red moon’s face

       From the white wind’s arctic wrath.

Though the death-fraught way from the Saguenay

       To storied Nipigon,

Once knew me well—now a crumbling shell

       I watch the years roll on,

And in memory’s haze, I live the days

       That forever are gone from me,

As I rot on the marge of the old portage

       With grief for company.

Anonymous

~

THE NORTHERN PROSPECTOR

With Summer gone, and Autumn chill

Painting its colours on the hill,

My meagre store of treasure spent,

I fill my packsack, and content

       Stem with my bark the current through

       With aspirations born anew.

When Winter’s skies are gray and cold

I still pursue the hunt for gold.

My snowshoe’s trail invades the lair

Of wolf, and moose, and slumb’ring bear.

       My hut in banksian thicket’s lee

       From howling blizzard shelters me.

When Springtime’s mist on marshland lies,

My tent’s invaded thick with flies;

Clouds of mosquitos buzz and sting; [page 67]

[unnumbered page, includes illustration]

The sandfly comes on noiseless wing;

       And in the alder’s moistened shade

       The blackflies lay an ambuscade.

Tormented by the pests, I swear

I’ll leave this land for anywhere;

And find in some enchanted clime

A peaceful life. Then comes a time

       When Summer sun with drying ray,

       Subdues and drives the pests away.

The land’s wide treasures still unfold,

From where are ridges veined in gold,

To other rocks, with silver seams,

Rich as the treasures seen in dreams.

       The landscape fair with sunlight kissed,

       Makes every man an optimist.

Away! dull thought of Winter skies;

Away! remembrances of flies;

With life and health the chance is there

To wrest from nature treasures rare;

       To carve in stone the lasting fame

       That gives to some great ledge, my name.

Henry Elwood McKee

~

THE KOOTENAY PROSPECTOR

Lay that there in the shadow—for God’s sake don’t call it him;

That bundle of frozen clothing we found in the drift aint him;

Not Jim as I knew my partner, Jim fit and strong as an ox,

That thing without muscle or movement, and limp as my sodden socks!

Leave that alone in the shadow, and pile a log on the fire—

Jim’s gone I guess, where the sparks go a-climbin’ higher and higher;

Not that they get there neither. That log sucked sunlight and dew

In bygone springs when it budded, where the yellow snowdrops grew;

And now it’s goin’ to nothin’ but ash and a feeble spark,

That wavers away towards heaven and goes out, of course in the dark.

Climbin’! Is that all we’re made for, like the armies of silent pine

Which climb and climb on for ever from the gulch to the timber line?

Not one in a million get there. When they do they wither and die.

See them! White, withered, wind-twisted, corpse trees in a winter sky! [page 69]

Prospectin’! that’s what they call it. Hard labour an’ hunger an’ cold—

That’s what prospectin’ is mates: a hunt for a devil, gold—

Gold as buys women and whiskey, hands shaky and eyesight dim;

A lot of bummers to suck you dry, but never a pal like Jim.

That wasn’t the way as Jim talked. That wasn’t the way Jim thought.

He worked ’cause he loved the labour; he was born to fight, so he fought.

He loved the danger, the hardship, black canyon and shifting slide—

I seed him laugh in the face o’ death right there where you say he died.

An’ it was a game worth playin’, alone at the heart of the world,

Where mighty snowslides thundered an’ long gray vapours curled—

When we, mere pigmies, ventured to storm Creation’s hold;

Staked our lives on the blindest bluff, an’ played the world for her gold;

Climbed to the Throne of Mornin’; sunk shafts to the roof of Hell,

Till the hot air scorched our faces, an’ water hissed as it fell:

Worked like men in the daytime, slept neath the sweet-breathed trees,

Lulled by the drone of the foaming crik an’ songs of the chickadees.

We had great things then for our comrades, the Forces of Earth for foes—

There’s one of us down, and another don’t care a curse where he goes.

They laughed in our face in the cities—the fat smug cities back east—

Thought we were both loony, somethin’ half man, half beast.

Cities! my God, we build ’em. Do you mind how Rossland rose?

Do you mind the first log shanty we built among the snows?

Do you mind two years later their iron horses raced

From north and south “the Boundary” to the goal that we had placed?

An’ now there are twice three thousand where then there were not but three,

An’ devil a-one in Rossland town has heered of Jim or me.

Do you mind the fire at Kaslo, or the storm that drowned her out?

We warmed our hands at the blazing shacks and rebuilt in a waterspout.

Do you mind—Ay, ay you mind it, and THAT, my God is the end—

Nerveless, speechless, sightless, and deaf to the voice of his friend!

No! No! It is not in reason. I know that the heavens are far,

But I don’t believe that the sparks go out! I know that they reach the Star.

Clive Phillipps-Wolley

[page 70]

SAINT PETER AND THE LONE PROSPECTOR

A lone prospector lay a-dying;

Wild round his hut the winds were crying;

Soon came the racking throes of death,

And he exhaled his final breath.

* * *

As, winging fast through space, he flew,

He felt uncomfortably blue:

He wasn’t confident what greeting

Saint Peter would vouchsafe on meeting

A fellow who had knocked around

And sinned as men to sin are bound.

Saint Peter spoke him with the air

Of asking him what fetched him there.

Saint Peter also, when he found

Him a prospector, froze and frowned.

“Hold!” quoth Saint Peter. “Sirrah, steady!

“I’ve got too many men already

“From Cobalt and from Porcupine!

“I cannot keep those birds in line.

“I’d give my halo and my keys

“To find myself relieved of these.”

The new arrival up and spake:

“The bet is on, shake, Peter, shake!

“Admit me and I’ll guarantee

“That in three days there will not be

“One darned prospector left but me.”

“You’re on,” said Peter, “if you know

“A trick like that, why, in you go.”

Well, sure enough, ere thrice the sun

Had set, prospectors one by one

Came rushing out of Heaven’s gate

As if they feared to be too late.

And, last, the new arrival came.

Saint Peter gasped,—cried, “What’s the game?”

Said he, “Saint Peter, I just told

“These guys about a strike of gold

“That had been made way down in Hell—

“And now—I’ve told so many—well— [page 71]

“It only struck me just this minute—

“There may be something really in it!”

* * *

Thus, then, we see the reason why

Prospectors, when they come to die,

Find little comfort in the sky.

J. C. Murray

~

A PROSPECTOR’S MONOLOGUE

They say our lives are lonely, pard,

       That our hardships are severe;

But they do not know the pleasures

       We enjoy while camping here

On this lovely pine-clad mountain,

       Where the air is soft and sweet,

With the snowy peaks above us,

       And the valley at our feet.

We can hear the grouse a-drumming

       As we sit around the fire,

And the humming-birds are humming

       On bright wings that never tire.

All around us happy families,

       Birds and beasts so full of fun,

Till the “savage” from the city

       Comes amonst them with his gun.

They say we hear no music—

       When the woods are full of song;

Why, each bird’s a prima-donna—

       Never sings a note that’s wrong.

And the wind above the pine trees

       Harps his way the leaves among;

Never was a grander chorus

       Than when Spring-time comes along.

They thinks we see no pictures—

       When we see them every day;

Not in galleries, on canvas, [page 72]

       But in Nature’s grander way;

Painted not by ancient “Masters”,

       Nor by “Moderns”, great or small,

But by Nature’s mighty Artist—

       Greatest “Master” of them all.

Donald C. Simpson

~

THE OLD TIMERS

In the happy days of quite a time ago

          When Cobalt still was heaving up “high grade”,

When Haileybury was a live town all aglow

       With men who squandered what they won, yet made

The northland what it is—old timers know;—

     Youth was with them then—this youth that’s long been dead.

Now age is reaching out its talons at their heart,

       But still the northland holds them to her breast;

Nor ever shall they venture off, nor make a start

       At the invitation of the south or west:

’Tis she, the mother of hard men, who, part by part,

       Hath moulded those she knew could stand the test.

Alpine MacGregor

~

PROSPECTOR’S SPRING SONG

Come, pardner—come; the golden Spring is here;

        The mountains send their call to you and me.

The mountain streams are running swift and clear;

        The sunny slopes from snow will soon be free.

All winter, we’ve been longing to be there;

        We felt our souls imprisoned in a town.

We longed to breathe the fragrant, piney air,

        And smell the camp-fire when the sun goes down.

We longed to watch the morning sun arise,

        And tint the mountain-peaks with rosy red;

While underneath, the sleeping valley lies,

        With cloudy billows curtaining its bed. [page 73]

We longed to climb the mountain’s rock breast;

     To hunt for ore, and watch all Nature play;

And, when the sun was sinking in the west,

     Hike back to camp, to end a perfect day.

Come, pardner—come; I hear the wild birds sing;

     Their joyful love-songs ring o’er hill and vale.

A wakened world is welcoming the Spring.

     Let’s load our horses, pard, and hit the trail.

Donald C. Simpson

~

PRECAMBRIA’S CHARM

North where the Lightning River flows,

       And the Ghost Mountains loom,

The somber Abitibi goes

       Into the northern gloom.

’Tis there the maid, Precambria, weaves,

       With fingers ruby tinted,

Beneath the forest’s sodden leaves

       The gold that’s ne’er been minted.

’Tis there the old prospector halts,

       Or follows he that maid

Till o’er the fissures and the faults

       Her sapphire footsteps fade.

But he will follow—follow on,

       Reckless of heat or cold—

Lured by her veiling of greenstone,

       And by her face of gold.

Alpine MacGregor

~

OUT OF SIOUX LOOKOUT

The dawn is up; the canoes shoot out;

       The air is like champagne;

We’re paddling out of Sioux Lookout

       To look for gold again!

But what care we if gold we find [page 74]

       There’s something else we’ll own,

Just health and wealth in limb and mind,

       And pluck allied to bone.

We’re sick of town’s electric light,

       Of lolling round at ease!

Thank heav’n, ’tis ours by day and night,

       God’s freedom, if you please!

The hills, the lakes, the old, old trail,

       The places no man knows:—

We’re headed north, and win or fail,

       What matter which wind blows!

Far in the North a strange star gleams,

       Aloof, remote, alone;

’Tis shining constant in our dreams,

       Let’s paddle on and on;

Beyond the rainbow’s glitt’ring end

       That shimmers north and west,

Beyond the river’s farthest bend,

       Forever on in quest.

Alpine MacGregor

 

~

THE CALL

Let me start now! forever let me go!

     An old tump-line, a pick, tobacco, troll,

An axe, snare-wire, some matches and a pipe;

     A book of simple verse to tune my soul

     To those gay winds which northward blow

On wings of mallard, geese and snipe.

Spread out the northern map! The unexplored

     Of rivers, lakes and forests wide;

A tent, canoe, a lard pail and a knife;

And let my truant heart be guide—

     Prithee, my masters, ’pon my word,

’Tis for the north I’d live my life.

Alpine MacGregor

[page 75]

EUREKA

Guess the sun’ll soon be showin’,

Might as well be on our way—

Dreams last night I’m orange-growin’,

Maybe sign o’ luck to-day.

Dowse the fire. I’ll pack the mortar

If you’re goin’ to tote the lunch—

Let’s strike east awhile, I’ve sort’er

Got a that way-leanin’ hunch.

* * *

This here ridge ain’t bad formation,

Greenstone carries strings o’ quartz,

But don’t seem no min’lization,

Save a speck or two o’ sorts.

See that row o’ humps and hollows

With them rocks a-showin’ bare;

Right in line with this it follows—

Might just take a looksee there.

Doubt this land ain’t worth prospectin’,

Likely all been combed afore,

Seems we’re only just collectin’

Those dam flies, an’ losin’ gore.

* * *

Quartz again, an’ signs o’ copper,

An’—Toss me that glass awhile—

Here, take a squint, don’t drop her;

Stuff in there as rates a smile.

Yep, she’s gold—might make a killin’

If there’s much o’ this about;

Veins runs wide enough for millin’

If her ore don’t peter out.

* * *

Chipped these samples on her routin’

Any place as I could strip;

You can pound ’em while I’m scoutin’

For some water in yon dip. [page 76]

Glint o’ color showin’ under—

Wash her down again—That’s fine—

Half-inch tail o’ gold, by thunder!

Partner, say! We’ve got a MINE!

Graham Harris

~

THE PROSPECTOR’S PRAYER

Oh Lord, let me find a “hootchite” spring

       Ere my span of life is o’er!

And I’ll camp beside the blessed thing,

       And roam the hills no more.

I’ll build o’er the spring a little shack

       With roses round the door,

And I’ll promise the world, I’ll ne’er go back

       To combing the mountains for ore.

No more will I hump the hefty pack

       While the sweat runs in my eyes.

I’ll lie in the shade in my little shack

       And guard my precious prize.

When pilgrims flock to my boozy shrine,

       I’ll cheerfully turn the tap,

And let them throw, for the juice benign,

       Their treasure in my lap.

Thus life for me will onward roll,

       “One grand sweet song”, I think,

Slaking the thirst of the droughty soul

       At fifty cents a drink.

Then, too, I’d be “esteemed by all”,

       As my pile grew wide and high;

But surer still would be my fall

       If my precious spring went dry!

Donald C. Simpson

[page 77]

THE NORTHERN BREED

More than aught else this north requires the hardihood

Of men inured to combat nature’s every mood—

Men whose lungs and sinews are the cords—the drums,

Whereon the storm god of the winter thrums

A music wilder than a front line soldier’s dream

Of hell and carnage in a bloody sun’s last gleam.

For this great region in the last lone land of man,

Whence men have sheered from since all life began;

Here where the forests stretch across the vast unknown

Of old pre-Cambria’s undeciphered stone,

’Tis the grim land that waits, year after year,

The breed of Viking and of Pioneer.

Alpine MacGregor

~

A PASSING RACE

We men of the pick are a passing race;

Wave on wave, growing less and less,

We come and we pass, leaving little trace

Of our intercourse with the wilderness.

Be it ten or fifty, a hundred years

We travel the new lands, seeking, seeking;

Trovers impeded by brules and meres

And coastal jungles with sea fogs reeking.

An end to our search comes sooner or later,

Our climbing, digging, sweating and swearing

Through all the lands from pole to equator—

Stripped of their mysteries through our daring.

Little we leave if the search be fruitless—

Tunnels abandoned and left to the bats,

Cabins deserted, decaying, bootless

For any purpose save homes for the rats.

What did we find if we found no treasure

To compensate for the losing of ease?

Only possessions ourselves can measure,

And muse of in secret with rocks and trees.

George E. Winkler

[page 78]

GOLD’S LURE

What is it ye seek? What is it ye seek?

What is it ye seek, prospector?

The wild where hovers the eagle’s beak

And the prey is crouched in horror?

The land where the grizzly still is shiek

For to-day and aye to-morrow?

The last camp ground on a nameless creek

Where the wolf and the Indian burrow?

What is it ye seek through many a week,

And many a year of sorrow?

He turned to me with a queer grey eye,

And said with a gesture cold:

       “Tis a tale that’s still untold;

As far as the loon bird sends his cry,

Where the rainbow ends, there must go I:

But, dammit, I’m growing old—

       Oh, dammit, I’m growing old!”

And I heard him murmur, “Gold!”

And I heard him murmur, “Gold!”

       With a strange light in his eye.

Alpine MacGregor

~

COLD DRIP AND END OF STEEL

A little cold drip runs down my neck—

A little cold drip gets bigger, by heck!

       Sing ho, for the out of door life!

It runs down my spine and encounters my toes,

Now all of me’s wet and most of me’s froze—

       Sing ho, for the out of door life!

A little cold bacon lies in the pan;

The grub is enough to sicken a man;

       Sing h-ll for the out of door life!

The fire is out and the blankets are wet:

The little cold drop are dripping yet:

       Sing h-ll for the out of door life! [page 79]

A little grey ticket is in my jeans;

I’m fed up to the neck on beans;

     Sing ha, for the end of steel!

A dining-car menu’s the goods for me,

And this is the last of the woods for me,

     Praise be, here’s the end of steel!

J. C. Murray

~

THE LURE

Ah, not by the banks of Mattagami,

       But on past the heights of Land,

Far by the gloom of Chikobi,

       Out where the gods command!

Track to a snowshoe trimmed by squaws,

       Tough as a caribou’s hide,

But my trail is frail as the feathery paws

       Of snow on a James Bay tide.

My canoe’s as light as the leaf that falls,

       And swift as a nighthawk bird,

And ever I roam where no moose calls

       Out where the caribou herd.

Out! Out! Forever out from man,

       Beyond where no Indian broods,

Out where never a life began

       In the grim and tortured woods.

Alpine MacGregor

~

THE ANCIENT GOLD DIGGER

He dug for gold where gold was far from plentiful;

A few odd shining colours were all that he could find,

Yet on that creek he stayed for many years in poverty

And mined and mined. [page 80]

I pointed out to him that fair ground was obtainable

In certain other valleys not so many miles away,

And hoped I had persuaded him to shift his home-made rocker

To better pay.

But he refused to move from his humble pine-log cabin

And the larches he had planted to form a little grove;

The birds he fed would miss him, the chipmunk that he petted,

If he should rove.

He’d miss the grey-green junipers on slopes above his diggings,

The autumnal gold of poplars against a green-black hill

When purple dusk merged shadows as night descended slowly,

And all was still.

He wanted to behold again a patch of sumachs flaming

Below a ridge a granite less than half a mile away,—

And of late he had a hunch as to where his gold was hidden—

So he would stay.

George E. Winkler

~

WILDERNESS LOVER

Ah God, I’ll pack my kit again!

     The city is so full of pain;

I want to go where life’s worth while,

     And hoof it in the ancient style;

I want to know my youth once more,

     Ere ruthless time bangs to the door,

And every hour and every day

     To go about my own, own way

In woods and places unblazed yet

     On which no foot of man has set;

Pass on and pay the nomad’s price—

     The same bed ne’er to sleep on twice,

The sky for roof, the winds for wall,

     And all God’s earth an entrance hall.

Alpine MacGregor

[page 81]

TO THE TUMP LINE

O! Tump Line! Emblem of base servitude!

Symbol of suffering in the Northern wilds!

How oft has thou upon my tortured frame

Inflicted pains and penance more than death?

How oft have I, weak victim, in thy toils

Felt all the anguish of the criminal hanged?

Hanging were better—for a moment’s pang

Ends all. Thy service is an endless chain

Or horrid hangings, pangs and frightful toil.

How oft, I say, in stepping high and wide,

To clear a cursed windfall in the trail,

Hast thou betrayed me, Tump Line, badly tied,

And left me helpless as a split canoe?

Too often! Now do I forswear, abjure,

The northern Wilds and all that they imply.

 * * *

I’ve cursed thee, Tump Line, and (what p’r’aps is worse)

I’ve cursed thee in the blankest of blank verse!

J. C. Murray

~

THE PROSPECTOR

Miles and miles and not a soul!

Why God created such a hole

No one can say.

Hills and rock and rock and sand;

This is a weary, killing land,

And yet I stay.

Digging and scratching for yellow dust,

It’s almost got me, the miner’s lust.

I’ll quit to-day.

Twenty years have passed away

Since I said, “I’ll quit to-day,”

Never show I any sorrow,

Always hoping on the morrow

I will strike rich pay.

Roderick Cook

[page 82]

A PROSPECTOR’S EPITAPH

Downcast and woe-begone,

       A prospector tried to chisel on

An elongated roundish stone

       His epitaph.

Ho wrote: “Jim Larkins, honest scout,

       The very finest fella out,

The squarest kinda shootin’ guy

       That never told a lie. . . .”

But soon the chisel split,

       The stone itself rolled down the hill;

And, gradually, oh, bit by bit,

       Jim Larkins felt herself grow ill,

Till he began to sudden laugh

       At such an absurd epitaph;

He laughed so long and hard and wide,

He cracked his jaw and nearly died—

       All from the epitaph that lied.

Alpine MacGregor

~

THE PROSPECTOR

With faith he has made his indenture

And vested his wages with chance,

But he plods the dim paths of adventure;

Uncounting he walks with romance.

Though his lure be the lustre of metal,

His goal the auriferous lode,

Yet, a soul that disdaineth to settle

Hath planted his feet on the road.

Unannounced is the day of his going

And undated the hour of return;

He sets forth to an uncharted sowing

And labours unsure he shall earn.

Seek him not mid the spawn of inception

Who boast and befool in his name,

For he asks not the spoils of deception

And shrinks from the chorus of fame. [page 83]


If fortune befriend his endeavor,

He savors its guerdons with zest;

But the drive of his destiny ever

Diverts him again to the quest.

On his skill and his strength and his vision—

Though they fail—he unending relies;

And he laughs at the years in derision

Till, decayed but undaunted, he dies!

Graham Harris

~

THE PROSPECTOR

Now list ye all

And I will tell

A story tall

That rings the bell;

Of mining man

Who hunts for ore;

His constant plan

To seek for more.

Of struggles now

In forest dark,

And then by scow

Or frailer bark.

Of prospects wild

And hard to reach;

Of grub-stake piled

On pebbly beach.

Of “likely” rock,

And sulphide vein;

Of all in hock

For future gain.

Of shafts and pits,

And cross-cuts too,

Of tools and kits,

And Irish stew. [page 84]

Of ‘wild-cats’ tamed

At every place,

And mining blamed

In every case.

Of payments down

And more to come,

Of tastes dark brown

From too much rum;

Of hopes anew

To reimburse;

Of courage true

At each reverse.

Prospectors all

We bow to you

In fame’s great hall

You’re surely due.

J. E. T.

~

THE DISCONTENTED PROSPECTOR

There’s a story told of a prospector bold,

       Who was grizzled and worn with years,

Who had nosed around—picking holes in the ground,

       Prospecting—this vale of tears.

Life to him was a “hike”. Oft he made a good “strike”,

       But his soul never knew content.

For he had it in mind that pure gold he would find,

       And oft his last “two bits” were spent,

Till he took his last hike (up eternity’s pike)

       To the unknown realms afar,

And came to the gates, where the good saint waits,

       And found the doors standing ajar.

Said he to the saint: “I – I have the gold taint;

       I have searched o’er the earth far and wide.

Please don’t send me down below, for I’ve lived where there’s snow

       And I’m sure there’s good values inside.

I did my best in life’s grim test,

       And I did as most men do, [page 85]

And oft ere I died I just took, (on the side)

       A taste of the ‘spruce bough brew’,

I was ‘tanked’ when I croaked; liquidated and soaked

       In ‘Piggers’ foul brew of the ‘dope’,

The spruce boughs green, with a dash of benzene,

       Well blended with strychnine and soap.

I have bunked in the snow where the North winds blow,

       And the germ-festered swamps of the South,

But I should like to know, when inside I go,

       Can I get the taste out of my mouth?”

“Pass in”, said the saint, without further restraint,

       “We ne’er send a prospector below,

For their life, I’ve heard tell, is the blue fringe of hell,

       With instalments each day as they go”.

Then he smiling passed through, and quickly he knew

       There was gold ’neath his hob-nailed feet.

With his pick and his spade, sad havoc he made

       As he ripped up the golden street.

Another poor prospector came to the gate, with pick and shovel to join his mate,

       But was promptly told he could go

And stand with a brand, on some one’s left hand,

       In a place where they don’t shovel snow.

“For we have one inside, and the golden street wide

       Is ripped up the back and the front,

The gold he piles high, and what for and why,

       Is he doing this prospecting ‘stunt’?”

The newcomer replied: “I can lure him outside,

       If you will but allow me to try”.

And they hustled him in, without cleansing his sin,

       Where the first one was “piling it high”.

“Have you seen the new strike? Come, let’s make a hike!

       It’s richer’n this over there.

Though this is pure gold, just outside, so I’m told,

       It’s better’n this stuff by far”.

Then he gathered his tools (some men are such fools),

       Scarce waiting to wipe off his brow,

Led the way through the gate (saw the trick when too late),

       Say, where is he prospecting now?

W. Milton Yorke

[page 86]

THE PROSPECTOR

I

On a Mountain Trail

Low hang the pearl-grey draperies of the mist,

A changing mantle ’round the changeless hills,

Its winter-child, the snow, protecting from the ills,

That stripped low ranges by the sun warm-kissed.

Fresh from their sleep the sunflowers deck our way,

In golden-yellow glory drinking in

The sun-rays, shining through the mist-veil thin,

In those sweet hours which usher in the day.

The stream, now free again from icy bonds,

Of summit snows and gloomy canyon sings,

And wanton-wild its silver-white spray flings

In soft caresses o’er the fern’s green fronds.

The twitter and the song of birds that nest,

Grow drowsy as the sun-god mounts the sky;

The pines grow pungent in the heat,—and I,

Would drop my pack upon the grass and rest.

II

The Camping Place

O brave, green level, bordered by the streams,

Encompassed by the stern grim-visaged hills,

Fringed all around with stately pine and fir

That rear in solemn majesty their heads,—

Here will we rest as sinking to the west

The gold sun bathes in the effulgent glow

The rivers, trees and hills, and every glade

Seems hallowed in the yellow mist of light.

Here as the curtains of descending eve

Like shadow wings sweep out across the sky,

And twinkling star-fires gleam, now here, now there,

We’ll build our pleasant camp fire large and bright. [page 87]

III

The Night Storm

The winds withhold their cooling breath,

The air is hot and still as death,

While sullen clouds portentous lie,

Piled black along the eastern sky.

Chirr of squirrel or song of bird

Is not within the valley heard,

But from the somber-looking cloud

The angry mutt’rings grow more loud.

Swift falls the night o’er hill and dale;

Its bat-wings hide the winding trail;

The woodsman rests his weary form

And anxious, waits the coming storm.

Coy Sleep deserts his heavy eyes—

Affrighted by the fiery skies

Whose thousand forked lightnings bind

The east and west with flames that blind.

The thunder roars—a deaf’ning sound

That echoes through the hills around,—

Re-echoes—like Satanic mirth,

And strikes the startled quaking earth.

* * *

The wind is rising! hark the moan!

The swiftly swelling undertone!

From lordly pine to fragile rose,

The forest wakes from its repose.

Now woe to pine, though stout and round,

Whose roots take hold on shallow ground;

And woe to fir whose tremblings mark

Dry rot beneath deceitful bark!

Down-crashing in the storm they go

And strew the quiv’ring earth below!

A fair outside can naught avail

To fend the fury of the gale. [page 88]

Note yonder pine, majestic, strong,

Who bends not with the meaner throng;

His black plumes tossing in the wind

Seem scornful of his weaker kind.

Mistaken strength! mistaken pride!

The lightning flashes far and wide—

The lightning strikes his tow’ring head,

And lays the haughty monarch dead!

See, now the pent-up heaven breaks,

And havoc wild and wide it makes

Upon the suff’ring earth beneath

With biting hail, like dragon’s teeth.

* * *

What cries are those the woodsman hears

That pale his cheek with sudden fears?

A weeping child, a wand’ring sprite,

A lost soul wailing down the night?

Now hear it, shrill above the gale,

Its notes ascending scale on scale;

It mingles with the thunder’s roar,

Then sinking low, is heard no more.

The woodsman waits his stealthy foe

Who marks him from the glade below;

With straining eyes he strives to pierce

The gloom that hides the panther fierce.

Two balls of fire glare through the night

That chill the woodsman’s blood with fright;

That leveled rifle seeks the eyes—

It speaks—the forest ruffian dies!

He dies with screaming cry of pain

And stiffens in the falling rain;

No longer need the timid deer

His prowess or his cunning fear!

* * *

The wind has run its swiftest course,

The driving rain abates its force;

No longer do the thunders crash,

Or blinding lightnings flame and flash. [page 89]

The black cloud breaks and scattered flies,

The stars gleam down from inky skies,

Silence profound enfolds the land,

While dripping trees expectant stand.

See yonder, o’er the eastern hills,

A sickly light the darkness kills;

Pale-grey it creeps the woods along,

And every moment grows more strong.

How welcome after darkness lorn,

The first faint herald of the morn!

Swift-winged it glides from height to height

Till all the land is filled with light.

Till all the land is light!—not all—

The mists are hanging like a pall

O’er yonder frowning granite peak—

The clouds are thick—the light is weak!

But now the dim and ghost-like trees

Are whisp’ring in the morning breeze,

And soon upon the shrouding haze

The sun directs his burning rays.

The white veil parts and melts away

Before the fiery eye of day;

The landscape smiles serene and fair,

And light at last is everywhere.

IV

Reverie

Love, I am sitting alone to-night,

With the yellow half-moon, golden bright,

Slow-sinking to meet the hill’s dark crest,

That breaks on the skyline far to the west:

I rest on a cushion of grey-green moss,

On the top of a rounded granite boss,

While off to the right and left, the eye

Traces the outlines of mountains high

That bear on their sides to the white snow-line,

Forests of balsam and spruce and pine. [page 90]

Down at the base of my granite butte,

Fringed and shadowed with evergreens mute,

Like a diamond clear on a bed of jet,

Or a drop of dew on a rose leaf set

A lake lies shining, the hills between,

With never a break in its silver sheen

Except where a lovely loon swims by,

Weirdly waking the night with his cry.

What is his cry for, ringing so shrill

Up the dark valley to me on the hill?

Is it a call to a mate far away,

Listening long since the close of the day?

I cannot hear the faint answer nor see

Aught of his loved one, if loved one there be.

O if my soul could take flight like his voice,

Free from its fetters could spring and rejoice,

Leaping o’er echoing canyons and crag,

Spurning each weight that would cause it to lag—

Straight as an arrow, and swift as the light,

Love I would speed to your presence to-night;

There would I linger and guard you, asleep,

Envying zephyrs that kissed your soft cheek.

* * *

The loon is silent now, the moon dips low

Into a maze of fleecy clouds that show

Their silken folds the western sky along,

While through the pines the light wind lilts a song;

The owls and bats come forth to seek their prey,

And prowling beasts that shun the light of day.

* * *

Sinking at last from the range of sight,

Robbing my world of its borrowed light,

The moon leaves all to the dark and me—

Little want I to touch or to see;

(Can the wreck of a burnt-out world impair

The soul that is one with the Everywhere?)

Here in the dark alone I would dream;

In me and of me do all things seem—

The granite hills and the sighing wind

Are merged in one with the plastic mind. [page 91]

Black are the outlines dim, of the trees,

Sullen becomes the voice of the breeze,

And elsewhere am I than here, it seems—

Away, away in the land of dreams;

And the eye of the mind on your brow,

A twitch of the lip as you pass me by,

A challenging light in your deep grey eye.

V

The Home Call

It’s good to be taking the home-trail,

With packs and consciences light—

Even supposing we did fail

To conquer that distant height.

For there’s always a height untrodden

To serve as next season’s lure,—

Where Fortune her smile will broaden

And yield us her treasure sure.

So a long good-bye to the beauties

Of virgin summits so fair—

We must back to the valley’s duties,

And friends awaiting us there.

George E. Winkler

~

THE SCOUT

He packs a ruck-sack on his back

And yellow leggings wears;

His clothes a bit of style may lack,

And heavens how he swears!

He climbs around the hills all day

To look at shallow cuts

And listen to a roundelay

Of “ifs” and “ands” and “buts”.

In tunnels dark with owlish eyes

He wanders here and there,

And looks both wise and otherwise

At pocket samples rare. [page 92]

He only eats three times a day

Of bacon, bannock, beans:—

He drinks when he has time to play

And money in his jeans.

Some think he has a tough old graft,

And some an awful snap;

Claim owners guess that he is daft

And talking through his cap.

Just how to rate him no one knows,—

An asset or a loss;—

He has some friends and many foes,—

A non-committal boss.

George E. Winkler

~

OLD PROSPECTORS

You who have known the pull of the far distant places—

       The lure of the land that lies just over the next high hill,

Who, under the skies of the star-strewn northern spaces

       Watch the red gleam of your camp-fire glow when the night is still,

You whose fires are lighted when shadows are falling,

       Who rise when the dawn is unfurling her rosiest sails,

Always to you the heart of the northland is calling—

       Brothers of wilderness places and comrades of unknown trails.

Long have you travelled far waters that only a paddle have known,

       Conquering each hardly-won portage the best way you can,

Cooking your beans and your bacon after the long day has flown—

       Lords of the old canvas grub-bag and knights of the frying-pan.

And you tasted the fly-dope along with your flap-jacks,

       Sniffed with your bacon the scent from the pine and the spruce.

Cursed without ceasing the “devil’s angels” the flies (black),

       You with high boots and old pipes brown with tobacco juice.

And then the long years when searching seemed all unavailing,

       Ever you looked to tomorrow for luck and the pot of gold;

Following the gleam, with faith and with courage unfailing,

       Seeking that thing, the lure of which never grows old.

Well might your days make a nation a song and a story,

       You who have broken the trails through the storm and the calm,

It is to you that the north owes much honor and glory,

       Into the big horny hands that are yours, do we yield up the palm.

M. May Robinson

[page 93]

ITCHY FEET

I hear there’s a strike at Misty Moon Lake,

       Back in the Monashee Range,

       And I’ve got a notion to go.

I hear there’s ground a fellow could stake,

       But covered at present with snow—

So I’ll wait a bit till the hills get green

       Back in the Monashee Range

       And then I’ll be hitting the trail;

For I want to see what’s there to be seen,

       Whoever may win or may fail!

I know it’s a long way from the road

       Back in the Monashee Range,

       And the climb a hard one to make,

But I’m husky enough to pack a load

       All the way to Misty Moon Lake!

George E. Winkler

~

NORTHLAND PROSPECTORS

There’s never a trail that’s too weary, there’s never a portage too long;

For ever across the blue waters the Northland is singing her song,

And ever the winds in the pine trees are whispering of treasures untold;

So you follow the trail of the rainbow to find you a pot of gold.

And up where the wild goose goes winging her way to the heart of the north,

Where the rivers that rise in the hill-crests sing of gold and of men going forth,

While the end of each day may not bring you the gold of your heart’s keen desire,

Still yours is the gold of the sunset—a pipe and the glow of your fire.

And ever to-morrow is beckoning—adventure and wealth to be won—

And ever you hold to your seeking from dawning to setting of sun,

Over lakes that like bright jewels are lying, agleam on the breast of the land,

Far out to those places that know not a pick in a prospector’s hand.

Then yours be the gold you are seeking, plucked out of a heritage vast,

And out of the rocks of the ages may you find your fortune at last,

Be yours the reward for the hardship, the courage, the valor, the pluck,

From out of the heart of the Northland, prospectors, we wish you Good Luck.

M. May Robinson

[page 94]

THE PROSPECTOR

Old Pete was wizened and old,

       And wizened and old was he—

An old prospector of gold

       Far north of Temagami.

“Dear me”, he teetered with cold,

       And teetered with cold: “Dear me!”

That’s what you suffer for gold,

       The waste of your life maybe!”

Blue and bitter and glum,

       And glum and bitter and blue,

The wide northland is dumb,

       Its birds and flowers few:

Old age had struck him at last—

       Life gone queer at the root—

There is only the past—

       And the fruit . . . . . . . . the fruit.

Alpine MacGregor

~

THE PROSPECTOR

Oh, give him the bush, and the timber woods hush

In the land of the North does he roam;

He has on his back his old canvas packsack,

And wherever he camps is his home.

He pitches his tent, he is ever content,

With his little camp stove he keeps warm;

If it rains or it snows, ever onward he goes,

And what does he care for a storm?

While seeking for gold, he never grows old;

He is healthy, and hearty, and strong;

He is up with the lark, and from daylight till dark

Keeps a’hunting and pegging along.

If he’s no luck today he’ll just grin and say

“I think I will strike it tomorrow;

So why should I mind, there’s lots yet to find,

And worry’s a thing I don’t borrow.” [page 95]

So he’ll quickly unpack the old canvas sack,

Put up tent and rustle some wood;

His fire’s soon lit, and the tea kettle on,

The bacon is fat but it’s good.

When his supper is spread (if lucky he has bread)

He sits down and eats every bit.

Then he’ll wash up the things, light his pipe and smoke rings

And I’ll tell the world he feels fit.

He turns in when it’s dark, but will rise with the lark,

For he slept like a log through the night,

So he’s ready once more to hunt for the ore,

And feels sure he will find it all right.

So thus he goes on, the old son of a gun,

He’s the type of a man hard to beat;

Optimistic, well yes, or I miss my guess,

And to meet him is always a treat.

Here’s to you, old sport. You are sure the right sort,

And for sticking you’ve got the burr beat.

Keep it up we all say, and surely some day

You will strike it, we hope, with both feet.

J. W. E.

~

CREED FOR PROSPECTORS

To love the touch of beauty on the rough stern hill,

The wild things of the thicket and the glade,

The furtive creep of Dawn and Eve’s mesmeric still,

And mountain tarns of amethyst and jade.

To meet Fate steadily, unshaken by each treat,

Prepared to do him battle at the bell;

To rally from his blows as one unvanquished yet

And ready to renew the bout in hell.

To keep the body active and the mind aware;

To follow Truth wherever she may lead;

To love the just and merciful and greed forswear,

And risk God damning you, for this your creed.

George E. Winkler

[page 96]

PICKPANPACK MINES, LIMITED

Two on our board of directors,

My good old pal and I;

We tramp the trails together

In weather wet or dry.

We climb the shining mountains

Where the hoary ice-cap clings,

And whistling marmots greet us—

Saluting us as kings!

We made the glacial torrents,

The heather white we tread;

Beside a spring that’s crystal clear

Our sleeping bags we spread.

The dipper sings to cheer us

As never skylark did;

And on the cliffs above we spy

A wild goat with her kid.

We watch the golden sunset

Adown the western slope,

And daily draw our dividends

From out the banks of hope.

George E. Winkler

~

THE VANGUARD

Always they press forward these sons of the Northland,

Farther they trek beyond the white rim of the Arctic,

To those far places that hardly have know

The press of man’s foot or the sound of men’s voices.

The light of their courage, ’tis a flame in their eyes,

And pulses beat high with hope and adventure

And the old glad lure of treasure gained for the seeking.

They are the heralds of progress—the makers of history;

Dreamers of dreams that come true of men’s faith in their land.

And through the years unto those who come after, tall sons shall tell

With accents of pride in their voices how in faith their fathers went forward;

How they held high, then planted firm the flag of their nation’s new progress,

Planted it firm in the land where the long white nights

Brighten beneath the flare of the lights of the Northland

As they flame and beckon through the silver silence of skies.

M. May Robinson

[page 97]

THE SONG OF THE PICK

Take me O comrade of the wilds,

My steel is tempered strong and tough

To chip and scar the hardest rocks,

My shapely handle carved of stuff

To stand the brunt of countless shocks.

Together let us fare afar

Where drifted snow to summer yields,

Above the valley spruces tall,

Around the edge of glacier fields

Where shrill the hoary marmots call.

There we will taste earth’s essences

And to her very heart lie near,

Ponder the cosmic laws that run

Through all the universe and hear

Life’s plangent greeting to the sun.

Take me O comrade of the wilds

To think your thoughts, to feel your hand.

Up where the heather blossoms thick;

Together we will spy the land—

For I am stout and keen and quick.

George E. Winkler

~

PALS

He has a decent scout:

We tramped the hills together,

Season in and season out

In fair and stormy weather.

We hunted high and low

For silver, gold and copper,

Cursing flies and brush and snow

In language strong, but proper.

We failed to make a find

Our empty nests to feather;

Still we thought that Fate was kind

To let us tramp together.

George E. Winkler

[page 98]

BUSH

You may suffer from the pack—

Sack upon your blooming back;

You may hit a trail where windfalls interfere;

You may curse the murd’rous flies

That close up both your eyes—

But as sure as Fate you’ll hustle back next year.

Be it river, be it lake,

Be it muskeg, (watch it shake!)

It’s the life that gets its grip upon a man;

So it’s no use saying “No!”

You have simply GOT to go

Quick in answer to the bush-call—if you can!

J. C. Murray

~

THE GUERDON OF THE GRUBSTAKED

Sing me a song of the rising rivers;

Of the winds when the pine forest shudders and shivers;

Of the sleet, and the snow, and the hail, and the rain;

The rush of the rapids, the thund’rous refrain

Of the surge that is torn from the lake’s tortured breast;

Of the portage, the paddle, the work, and the rest;

Of trip after trip—how we came, how we went;

How we laboured, and sweated, and made—not a cent!

J. C. Murray

[page 99]

[unnumbered page, includes illustration]

CHIBOUGAMOU

Did you ever see an air-hole on the ice

       Wit’ de smoke arisin’ roun’ about it dere?

De reever should be happy w’ere it’s feelin’ warm and nice,

       But she t’ink she ought to get a leetle air.

An’ she want to be alookin’ on de sky,

       So of course de cole win’ hit her on de nose—

“I’ll come up again”, she say, “on de spring tam, bimeby,

       But I’m better now below”, and off she goes.

Dat’s de way I feel mese’f on de farm a year ago,

       W’ere ev’ryt’ing should be a pleasan’ dream;

Lak de foolish reever dere, I’m not satisfy below,

       So I got to let me off a leetle stream.

Den a man he come along an’ he say to me, “Look here—

       Don’t you know that place dey call Chibougamou

W’ere de diamon’ lie aroun’ like de mushroom on de groun’

       An’ dey’re findin’ all de gole an’ silver too?

“W’at’s de use of stayin’ here den? Didn’t Johnnie Drutusac

       Lif’ de mor’gage off hees place an’ buy a cow?

Only gone a leetle w’ile—hardly miss heem till he’s back;

       He’s easy workin’ man too, an’ look at Johnnie now?

“Well enough, ma frien’, you know I can never tell de lie

       W’en I say de gole is comin’ t’ousan’ ounces on de ton,

An’ de solid silver mak’ you feel funny on de eye,

       Lak de snow-blin’ on de winter w’en it shine de morning sun.

“I s’pose you won’t believe, but you know dat gravel walk

       Ma fader got it facin’ on hees house at St. Bidou—

But w’at’s de use of spikin’, w’at’s de use of talk?

       Dat’s de way you see de diamon’ on dat place Chibougamou.

“Course you got to go an’ fin’ dem quickly, or de stranger man

       Come along wit’ plaintee barrel—an’ you’re never knowin’ w’en

Couple o’ Yankee off the State, he was buyin’ all de lan’;

       After dat an’ w’ere’s your gole an’ silver goin’ den?

“So, Bateese, get up an’ hurry, sell de farm, mon cher ami,

       Leave de girl an’ bring provision, pork an’ bean, potato, too,

Leetle w’isky, an’ I’ll put heem on de safe place under me

       W’ile I sit an’ steer you off dat place Chibougamou.” [page 101]

Oh! de day an’ night we’re passin’, me dat never was before

       On de bush, except w’en heifer go away an’ den got los’;

Oh! de pullin’ an’ de haulin’, till I’m feelin’ purty sore,

       But of all de troub an’ worry, de skeeter, he’s de boss.

Beeg? lak de leetle two-mont’ robin. Sing? lak a sawmill on de spring.

       Put de blanket roun’ your body an’ den he bite you troo.

Me, I never tak’ hees measure, but I t’ink across de wing

       He’s t’ree inch sure—dem skeeter, on dat place Chibougamou.

De man he’s goin’ wit’ me, never paddle, never haul,

       Jus’ smoke an’ watch an’ lissen for dat ole Chibougamou;

I s’pose he can’t be bodder doin’ any work at all,

       For de feller tak’ you dere jus’ have not’ing else to do.

T’ousan’ mile we mak’ de travel—t’ousan’ mile an’ mebbe more,

       An’ I do de foolish prayin’ lak I never pray at home

’Cos I want a chance to get it, only let me see de shore

       Of Chibougamou a little w’ile before de winter come.

No use prayin’, no use climbin’ on de beeg tree ev’ry day,

       Lookin’ hard to see de diamond’, an’ de silver, an de gole—

I can’t see dem, an’ de summer she begin to go away,

       An’ de day is gettin’ shorter, and de night is gettin’ cole.

So I kick an’ raise de row den, an’ I tole ma frien’ lookout—

       Purty quick de winter’s comin’ an’ we’ll hurry up an’ go;

Never min’ de gole an’ silver—diamon’ too we’ll go widout,

       Or de only wan we’re seein’, is de diamon’ on de snow.

Mebbe good place w’en you get dere, w’at you call Chibougamou,

       But if we never fin’ it, w’at’s de use dat place to me?

Tak’ de paddle, for we’re goin’, an’ mese’f I’ll steer canoe,

       For I’m always firse-class pilot on de road to St. Elie.

Oh! to see me on de mornin’, an’ de way I mak’ heem sweat,

       You can see de water droppin’ all aroun’ hees neck an’ face;

“Now, Chibougamou,” I tell heem, “hurry up, an’ mebbe yet

       You’ll have chance again to try it w’en you leave me on ma place.”

So we have a beeg procession, w’en we pass on St. Elie,

       All the parish comin’ lookin’ for de gole an’ silver too,

But Louise, she cry so moche dere, jus’ becos she’s seein, me,

       She forget about de diamon’ on dat ole Chibougamou. [page 102]

Affer all is gone an’ finish, an’ you mak’ a fool you’se’f,

       An’ de worl’ is go agen you, w’at’s de medicine is cure

Lake de love of hones’ woman w’en she geev it all herse’f?

       So Louise an’ me is happy, no matter if we’re poor.

So de diamon’ may be plaintee, lak de gravel walk you see

       W’en you’re comin’ near de house of ole Telesphore Beaulieu,

But me, I got a diamon’ on ma home on St. Elie

       Can beat de pile is lyin’ on dat place chibougamou.

Dr. W. H. Drummond

~

THE PORCUPINE SONG

“Big Dick Glidden

He went unbidden

Up to old Night Hawk Lake,

The Indians there

They scalped his hair

And all his claims did take.

They chased him from the District

But when he hit Tisdale

He found it full of gold

He felt so very bold

So to Cobalt he then rolled

And this is what he told;

Sure I’ve got

Warts on my fingers

Corns on my toes

Claims up in Porcupine

And a bad cold in my nose.

So, put on your snowshoes

And hit the trail with me

To P.O.R.C.U.P.I.N.E. That’s me.

Then over the snow

Went “Right of Way Joe”     (Joe Houston)

To see that find so grand

The gold in the quartz

It looked like warts

Upon a schoolboy’s hand; [Page 103]

A. A. Cole was with him

That four-eyed engineer

Said he “Now have no fear”

“I know the stuff is here”.

So to Cobalt they did steer

And sang this song so queer.

               Sure I’ve etc. etc.

J. E. Leckie

~

MATACHEWAN

The waters at Matachewan

       Rippled, as kissed the rising sun,

While down below the rapid’s fall

       The gliding eddy made its run.

The reek from morning fires swung low,

The time was two score years ago.

The morning mists hung in the bay,

       Screened by the forest growth on shore,

While down the pathway from the hill

       The factor’s daughter slowly bore,

From water to the river’s strand,

The swinging bucket in her hand.

The Factor’s Caledonian pride

       Refused her Indian lover’s prayer;

With shaded eyes she gazes down

       As though to find his image there.

The weaving smoke begins to trace

The features of her dear one’s face,

When from the mists along the shore

       A bark comes gliding to her feet,—

His messenger to bear her hence

       To where he waits in sure retreat.

By Shakakoba’s shaded shore

The lovers meet to part no more. [page 104]

ROUYN, OR WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Where wolverines their greed assuage,

       Where gambols portly Bruin,

Where moose live to a godly age,—

       (The place I mean is “Ruin”)—

Where there is neither shop nor house,

       Where one can’t get Chop Suey,—

That hash of cabbage, cat, and mouse,—

       (I now refer to “Rouee”)—

Where white the moon smiles down on men,

       The silver, northern moon—

(Where time and time and time again

       One hears the name called “Roon”,)—

’Tis, ’tis there, that I would be,

       Far far from human clatter:

(And not one tinker’s damn to me

       Pronunciations matter.)

J. C. Murray

~

FLIN FLON

Where the stately elk and the lordly moose,

And the black bear roamed at will;

Where the young birch bowed to the feathered spruce

On the gentle slope of a hill;

Where the gossans red had lain abed

For many and many a year,

And a vast ore bed lay buried, dead

By a lake so cold and clear,

Two lone prospectors came one day.

They staked some claims and they went their way.

Today upon that spot serene,

That had slept since the proud earth’s dawn,

Another monarch reigns supreme;

A mighty king—Flin Flon.

The vast ore bed is stripped and bare.

Pierced is its mottled breast.

This monarch’s forces crunch and tear,

And they never stop for rest. [page 105]

Its smelter glows, its hot slag flows

From morn till morn again,

Like a demon’s breath, with a spit of death,

In the realms of some hellish den.

The moose and the bear are no longer there,

And the birch and the spruce are gone;

But left in their wake on the slope by the lake

Is the king of the north—Flin Flon.

W. B. Paton

~

NATURE’S GOLD

It is a vision that I see

       Beyond remote Kenogami;

The Island Lake’s serenely bright;

       Aglow with autumn’s evening light;

The pine-clad forest is so green,

       No white man here has ever been;

A gold tinge bathes the eastern shore,

       And makes the rocks all golden ore;

There’s gold around and much to spare—

       O gold enough—it’s in the air!

’Tis nature’s gold—the stuff that brings

       Contentment, peace, and happy things.

Alpine MacGregor

~

ON THE TRAIL TO THE PICKLE-CROW AND CENTRAL PAT

On the lake’s edge, breathing a hopeful air,

A prospector stood, enraptured by the scene,

And gazing murmured: “Lake Savant is fair,

No better anywhere I’ve been.”

Descendant of a race of pioneers,

His brow as wrinkled as the cliffs around,

He who had broke trail throughout the years,

By instinct knew his ground. [page 106]

“I’ll build a cabin here and stick awhile;

This rock looks good to me—it’s schisted right.”

With that he took his axe, and bushman style,

Whacked up a lean-to for the night.

O many a day his cabin’s stood the gale

But he has long since sped the mortal way,

You pass it on the fresh toboggan trail

That takes you where the gold’s to-day.

Alpine MacGregor

~

THE McINTYRE

Of all the mines in Porcupine

There’s none like McIntyre;

That’s why I’m bursting into rhyme

To boost its praises higher,

The air below is sweet and pure

It can’t be any finer

It’s just as good as Florida,

The good old McIntyre.

When storms do blow, we go below

To pass away our leisure.

The captain says “Good morning boys

This really is a pleasure.”

At three o’clock we go on deck

Report our cars if any

If we say ten, the shifter says,

“My boy, that’s far too many”.

While in the mine, we pass the time,

With song, debate, and story.

Sometimes we do a little work

To keep our minds from worry.

So come what may, I’m here to say

And don’t call me a liar,

It’s just as good as Florida,

The Good Old McIntyre.

W. H. Thomson

[page 107]

TIMMINS

The southerner’s rave of their beautiful land;

I’ve been there, it didn’t get me,

You can’t eat the climate no matter how grand

And that’s why I’m longing to see

TIMMINS the town that’s built on gold

TIMMINS on you I’m really sold,

Surrounded by mines and sturdy pines

Placed there by nature and now bringing smiles

To leave it for ever, some save up their jack,

But just wait a while you’ll see them come back,

There’s something up there that other towns lack

In TIMMINS the pride of the north.

If you’ve ever been there you’ll go back again

And from it you’ll never depart,

That’s why I want you to sing this refrain,

Sing it with all of your heart.

W. H. Thomson

~

SIOUX LOOKOUT

I am the Pulse of all Patricia vast—

       A land unknown—a riddle deep as night;

I am the Anvil that is beaten fast,

       The Spearhead driven northward by man’s might.

I am the Urge, the Force, the Staying Power,

       The Source from which the Future will unroll;

I am the hope of the New Hour—

       The Opening Gate—The Final Goal.

I am the Town that bridges East and West,

       And North and South across pre-Cambrian lands;

I am the blood of Youth who leaps to quest

       With the lone grit the North demands.

Alpine MacGregor

[page 108]

THE MONTREAL RIVER

That is the prospector’s highway

       Cut out by the Creator’s hand,

From Temiskaming’s rolling waters

       Way up to the height of land;

Through leagues of dusky jack-pines,

       And miles of swampy shore,

Still north and west it winds its way

       Where northern tempests roar.

And its waters sing of the Northland

       As they tumble towards the sea,

A silver song in notes of foam

       Of the lone land, vast and free,

With its unshorn miles of pine land,

       Its mineral treasures rare,

Of prosperous homes and axeman’s might

       To shear its valleys bare.

It calls to the hardy prospector

       It calls to the hungry throng,

In whispers low, as its waters flow

       The pine-clad shores along.

Where the smoke of the Indian tepee

       Meets the haze of the Northern sky,

And lonely hut and tent are seen

       As the river boat sweeps by

With its load of fortune seekers,

       Who northward turn their gaze,

And follow the Montreal River

       Through its winding forest maze.

These are the pilgrim fathers,

       The men who go before,

And blaze the trail for the coming host,

       As our fathers did of yore.

And the river is now the highway,

       Which carries their hopes and fears,

The canoe is the ark of safety,

       And silver the dream of years.

And so, on our mortal journey,

       We dream as the years glide by,

And our lives resemble the river,

       That reflects the northern sky—

To some the reflection is murky,

       To others, the colour is blue,

Let us all sail under or colours,

       In a ship that will carry us through.

 

W. Milton Yorke

[page 109]

“DOWN IN SPRINGHILL’S BUMPY MINE”

Now these days the world is talkin!

Of the heroes of the air.

Everywhere you hear folk praisin’

Those brave men who do and dare.

And there is no doubt about it,

They are very plucky chaps,

Who with death will go a flirtin’

With a smile upon their maps.

There are other brave men also,

Of whom you have never read—

Men who take all kind of chances,

Just to earn their daily bread.

And I’m sure unheralded heroes

Are the men who fall in line,

And face death to earn a livin’

Down in Springhill’s bumpy mine.

Our famous bumpy coal mine

Is a mile and then some deep.

And I’ll tell the world it gets you,

When the place begins to “creep”.

When you feel the pavement quiver—

Boy, that gets a fellow’s goat!

That is when you start to shiver

And your heart is in your throat.

Then I’m sure they cannot blame you

If you wish that you were home;

For you never know the minute

You are gonna lose your dome.

There’s a sort of creepy feelin’

Runnin’ up and down your spine,

When the place is all aworkin’

Down in Springhill’s bumpy mine.

Now, a “bump” is a disturbance

That is something like a quake,

And when Number Two is kickin’

All the shops on Main Street shake—

Oh, she hits a nasty wallop,

And the work she does is neat!

For the high-side and the low-side,

And the roof and pavement meet.

She won’t give you any warning;

You have no time to prepare;

But she has you at her mercy,

If you happen to be there.

And before you is a vision

Of an overcoat of pine,

If you’re present when she’s bumpin’

Down in Springhill’s bumpy mine.

An Unknown Springhill Miner

[page 110]

SPIRITS OF STAG BAY

On rock-ribbed shores the ocean roars,

       The wind blows cold and dreary;

Beneath a tent, a wanderer spent,

       Worn out, and over-weary,

Reclines his length, devoid of strength,

       And low emits this query:—

“Why came I to this country bleak and frore?

“Why came I here to barren Labrador?

“Why hearkened I to mister Bellow’s bull?

“And why did I my freight so quickly pull?

       “By mosquitoes I’ve been stung

       “And my withers they are wrung;

       “But the sting I got in good old Montreal

       “Was the sting that really hurt,

       “Was the touch that did me dirt,

“Yes, the sting that I was stung in Montreal”.

SPIRIT OF LABRADOR:

“Who seeks his fortune in my hostile waste

“Must of disaster and distresses taste”.

SPIRIT OF BELLEW (by radio):

“I still have forty acres to be sold.

“These acres promise bucketsful of gold.

“Co-operate a little while with me,

“And you shall see exactly what you’ll see”.

SPRITIS OF ST. JOHN’S AND SYDNEY:

“A murrain on the critic and the crab!

“A blessing on old Bellew and his grab!

“For our boats they all are chartered,

“And our merchandise is bartered,

“And the gold pours in like blazes ere it reaches Labrador,

“Ere it reaches Labrador, where the winds are keen and frore—

“We have prospered more this season than we ever did before.”

SPIRITS OF CO-OPERATIVE INVESTORS:

“We saw it in the papers, boldly printed;

“Neither figures, facts, nor glowing hopes were stinted.

“Though a few pale protests rose,

“Bellew led us by the nose:

“And our money we have lost it

“Just as much as if we’d tossed it

“In the waves that lave the shore,

“Rock-bound shore, of Labrador”. [page 111]

SPIRIT OF THE CANADIAN MINING JOURNAL:

“Weep no more these briny tears and salt;

“We told you so, it’s all your own darned fault!”

SPIRIT OF THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY:

“This woe, these lamentations, are misspent;

“We warned you wisely—after the event”.

SPIRIT OF ADMINISTRATIVE JUSTICE:

“Too bad these culprits have got clean away:

“Should this recur, then they will rue the day!”

SPIRIT OF DAILY NEWSPAPERS:

“They paid us for advertisements, you know;

“We took the cash and let the credit go”.

 * * *

On rock-ribbed shores the ocean roars—

       It is the old, old story.

Oppressed by flies, the wanderer dies;

       His soul goes on to glory.

But ere he dies, “Eheu!” he cries,

       “To think of my forgetting

“That no place more than Labrador

       “Demands mosquito-netting!”

J. C. Murray

~

DISPARAGERS

A Ditty of Indictment

Let us with a cheerful mind

Cherish hopes when so inclined:

Disregard the croaking gent

Who insists the world’s hell-bent.

* * *

When Porcupine first came to view

It was admired by very few;

The greatest experts looked askance

And scarce vouchsafed a second glance. [page 112]

And South Lorrain, in earlier days,

Received no whit of expert praise.

In Cobalt, too, the like occurred—

Few savants spoke a cheering word.

So, likewise, out in far B. C.,

Portland Canal was marked N. G.

Well, as the vulgar minstrel sings,

Look now upon the bleeding things!

Who MUST preserve their cautious pose,

They yet survive and blossom forth

To attest the glory of the North.

* * *

Good it is to cherish hope

When it’s based on reasoned dope.

Even Labrador may be

Added to our galaxy!

J. C. Murray

Editor’s Note:—

Really, we must call a halt—

Take those last two lines with salt!

~

LOST MINES

An old sourdough took a kid to the hills

To teach him the rock-hound’s tricks

Of following ore to its hiding-place,

And fighting mosquitoes and ticks.

Sitting at close of a hard day’s pack

Through jack-pines and over the rocks,

The old sourdough, as the camp-fire blazed,

Advised, while he dried out his socks:

“Son, don’t listen to yarns you hear

Of fabulous mines that are lost;

If you do you’ll hit a weary trail

And fritter much time to your cost. [page 113]

“Trappers, guides and timber cruisers,

Cowboys, hunters, and survey crew,

Farmer boys, we call Palousers,

Can all alluring stories brew.

“One has told of placer diggings

A hill billy went to once a year

To bring back golden nuggets—

But his trail wasn’t blazed very clear!

“The old boy made one trip too many—

And his secret of course died with him:

All they know is he travelled east

Towards Mount Balderithim.

“A half-breed told of a silver vein

High up on the Quittle River,

He found while hunting caribou,—

But he brought in never a sliver.

“This bird got mixed in a drunken row

That ended up with a killing:

The laws stepped in—he walked the plank

In a manner most unwilling.

“A real sad case was that of the man

Who located but didn’t record,

A rich gold showing on Rita Arm,

Where a storm spilled him overboard.

“One of these guys by some mischance

Got into a hospital ward,

Before he hit the last long trail

That would lead to his blest reward.

“He called his unpaid doctor near

And slipped in his fingers a map,

Showing the way to a treasure rich,

Up a certain creek to a gap.

“And from there towards a little lake

Where the willows were tall and dense:

The doctor grabbed it—the patient died

To eliminate further expense. [page 114]

“You can see from these sad stories

How many have missed getting wealth

By making finds amazingly rich:—

It’s certainly bad for the health!

“O the devil made provision

For one in each division,—

Gold mines, silver mines, copper mines and lead;

They’ve been found and lost and hunted for,

Discussed and cussed and grunted o’er,

And the timber beasts that found them are dead! dead! dead!”

George E. Winkler

~

GOBLIN GOLD

I’ve read as in mines of the olden days

If anythin’ sort o’ strange occurred,

It was mostly tagged to the tricksy ways

Of a gnome or goblin or some such bird.

An’ it’s further wrote as a goblin’s gold

Scarce ever’ll stay with the finder long—

Just gets him goin’, then quits him cold,

Like a rich-thought prospect as pans out wrong—

Well, there’s few got faith in such fairy folks

These days o’ science an’ hard-rock sense,

But I’ve met the mate o’ them goblin jokes,

Though it just slipped by as coincidence.

Where now they’re workin’ the Birdnest mine,

We was huntin’ then for a faulted vein,

Drillin’ an’ pittin’ with hope of a sign

As the missin’ values was there again—

She wasn’t the Birdnest then by name,

They switched her brand when the gold’s got back;

An’ just by a chance they got that same,

For sense an’ science was both off track—

Away to west of the old shaft mouth

We’d a test pit lowered to eighty foot,

With orders give for a drift to south

Where they’d figured the lay of the fractured shoot: [page 115]

It were Springtime then with the birds around

An’—though it were, seemin’, no place at all

For a bird—there’s one as goes underground

An’ nests in a hole in the pit’s north wall.

Then one o’ the gang has a tender fit

An’ starts to study this nester lots,

An’ worries for fear as her eggs she’ll quit

Account o’ the noise of our driftin’ shots.

But, spite o’ the blastin’, her brood hatched out

An’ were featherin’ good, when there’s one goes daft

An’, aimin’ I guess to get flyin’ about,

Takes off an’ comes flutterin’ down the shaft.

This bird-boy’s muckin’ near where it lays,

An’ seein’ its hurts is mostly scare,

He clambers up by the ladder ways

An’ fixes it back with a mint o’ care;

Then downward comin’, his conscience hints

As he ought to’ve seen as the rest’s all right,

So he ups himself once more an’ he squints

Into the hole by his lantern light.

He checks the brood, he says, an’ then

Comes near to losin’ his ladder hold,

For there, way back o’ the nestin’ pen,

Was shinin’ specks as he knew for gold!

To show how gentle that mucker has got—

He don’t speak word what he seen that day

Till more than a week thereafter, not

Till them chicks got fledged an’ is flown away!

He tells his tale to the Super then,

An’ it sure enough is the lackin’ lode—

That’s why they called her the Birdnest when

They got her back where a profit showed.

There’s another twist to this here affair

Like what them pixies might’ve planned—

Sand-Martins ‘twas as nested there,

An’ the mucker’s name were—Martin Sand! [page 116]

What happened to Martin? Oh, he gets

A wad o’ cash an’ a bunch o’ shares,

But he’s kind of blue as he’s lost his pets

An’ starts on one of his reg’lar tears.

At feast an’ fuddle an’ chasin’ frills,

For near to a month he’s on the loose,

Till his shares is sold an’ he’s spent his bills

An’ final lands in the calaboose—

Pinched, as I heard, for hittin’ a crack

At a copper as Christened him Whiskey Jack—

* * *

As I says, we laughs at them imps an’ elves,

As poppy-dreams of the dozy past,

But there’s times I’ve fancied—atween ourselves—

Them goblin folk was a-laughin’ last.

Graham Harris

~

THE BIRTH OF THE “BILL & THE BEAR”

The Bill-and-the-Bear’s producin’ now

An’ the country’s staked around it;

But I’lll tell you the way as it come by the name

When me and my partner found it:

I was out prospectin’ with Platinum Bill—

Bill Murray’s his rightful call,

But we give him the Platinum tag to the same

Through a female in Montreal.

Most any prospector as knows his job

Has some kind o’ kink that’s queer,

I’ve met lots with a bible-spoutin’ slant,

An’ one as took pills in beer!

Black-jack, I figure my failin’ is,

An’ it keeps my cash in motion,

But Bill, he was struck on a platinum blonde,

An’ he sure give her devotion— [page 117]

That’s explainin’ Bill—to get on with the tale:

We was out on that trip for gold,

A-scoutin’ through land as was unsurveyed

On a rumour that we’d been told.

Well, we come to a place all flat an’ bare,

Exceptin’ one jackpine tree

An’ a mound of rock like a bowl upset—

Near thirty foot high, mebbe—

I was pickin’ away at a stringer o’ quartz,

An’ Bill was a-lookin’ wise,

When I hears a rustle, an’ just behind

Was a bear of a awful size!

I’m quick o’ thought an’ I’m quick to move

When there’s reasonin’ for to be,

An’ it weren’t no more than a mallard’s shake

Afore I were up that tree.

But Bill, he scoots it the other way,

An’ he makes for the mound a-leap,

An’ I sees him scrabbling up like a snake—

For the slope was terrible steep—

The bear, he squints at me for a while,

But I keeps most deathly still,

An’ he turns his head an’ gives a ‘woof’

An’ he lights out after Bill.

Bill’s doing fine an’ he’s near the top

When the bear starts up the grade,

But, sudden, the moss on the rock comes loose,

An’ I watches his chances fade:

He claws with his hands but there ain’t no hold,

An’ the same when he digs with his feet;

For the side o’ the hill’s as smooth as glass

An’ the moss rolls off like a sheet.

It pretty nigh broke the heart o’ me—

Not able to help him none—

For, barrin’ his blonde, old Bill’s all right—

An’ I wished as I’d had a gun!

Well, it come at last—Bill couldn’t stick,

An’ he slithers clear down the hump

Till he meets with the bear, what’s a-climbin’ up.

In a most disturbin’ bump. [page 118]

They comes combined the rest o’ the way

An’ combined they lands in a heap,

An’ they stops consid’rable sudden-like—

The rock, as I sez, bein’ steep—

Soon, the bear breaks loose, an’ he rubs his snout

Where Bill an’ him had collided,

An’ he evident thinks “that’s enough for me”,

For he just turned tail and glided.

I’m a-scramblin’ down from the jackpine tree

To see if Bill’s hopeless bust,

When he picks hisself up, an’ I knows he’s saved

By the way as he cussed—an’ cussed!

But, regardin’ the manner the mine come there:

That mound, where the moss had rolled,

Showed a streak of quartz over six foot wide,

An’ the quartz, it was rich with gold!

Five thousand each, we got for the find,

An’ we stepped on silk as we spent it—

“But I surely earned that stake”, sez Bill,

An’, by merry hell, he meant it!

Graham Harris

~

THE FIRE AT HORNET LAKE

A Bush-Fire’s bad—though it cleans the rocks

An’ that way favors minin’—

For I knows how it feels to be fightin’ through

On a trail as the flames is linin’:

We’d a job one summer, me an’ Shan—

It’s Shan McGuire’s his name—

Scoutin’ for Smithers an’ Sharpleheim,

Big guns in the minin’ game;

Our camp weren’t far from Hornet Lake—

Where they’ve staked the ‘Welcome Chum’—

An’ they cert’nly christened that lake correct,

For them insects sure did hum! [page 119]

Well, it come one August afternoon

I were fixin’ beans—de luxe—

While Shan, he’s down by a crick near hand

On a scheme concernin’ ducks.

The heat were fit to roast you hide

An’ there weren’t no breath of air,

Though we’d pitched the tent on a bit of a rise

An’ the land was clear right there.

Round five o’clock, when the beans is done,

There’s a whiff of a burnin’ smell,

An’ I looks at the sky, an’ there’s rusty clouds

As is smoke as sure as hell:

The trouble’s some ways north as yet

But it’s pointin’ toward these parts,

For I feels in my face a fan o’ the breeze

That lifts when a bush-fire starts.

Well, it’s two miles south from where we’re set

To the lake, near the railroad tracks.

With a heavy bush in the further part

As is ripe to burn like flax:

So, soon as I sees as the sky’s got red

An’ the trees is all of a blur,

I gets on a stump an’ I shouts to Shan,

“Hey Shan! Fi-er!—FI-ER!!

An’ Shan, he come on the run, for he thinks

As the cookfire’s caught the tent,

An’ he minds as he’s left in his sleepin’-bag

Five bucks as he hadn’t spent.

Well, we figure there’s just one thing to do:

Pull out—an’ pull out smart,

For we got to reach that lake, or bust,

An’ it’s none too soon to start.

We rolled our packs, but we roll’d ’em light,

For we’re playin’ tag with time,

So we leaves the tent an’ we leaves the chuck—

Though I’ll bet them beans was prime!— [page 120]

For a mile or more the fire come slow,

An’ we though as we’d got her beat,

Though Shan, he was just a-leakin’ sweat,

An’ meself half doped with heat.

But it’s always right as you’re feelin’ safe

When you got the worst to fear;

An’, sudden, a wind roused up the blaze

An’ it come like a leapin’ deer!

We could hear the crack o’ the timbers now,

An’ the ‘whoof’ as the big trees crashes—

An’ I think to meself, “we travels fast

Ere our travels ends in ashes.”

We’d, maybe, the span of a chain to go,

When the flames comes up each side

An’ the stiflin’ reek near smothered us,

Though the trail there’s eight foot wide.

My hat gets fired by a chunk o’ bark

As falls from a blazin’ tree,

An’ before I knows it, the crown’s burnt through

An’ my hair’s a-singein’ free;

Then a smoulderin’ twig drops down Shan’s neck,

An’ he curses loud an’ plain,

Till I sez, “Hush up there, Shan, this here’s

No time to talk profane;”

But I might ha’ spared my failin’ breath,

For Shan, he’s sunk in sin,

An’ he snaps, “It ain’t me blinkin’ soul

I’m savin’—it’s me skin!”

Well, we ambles on, though the amblin’s tough,

An’ our luck looks awful pale

When a big green balsam, spoutin’ fire,

Slams down aslant the trail:

I takes it sideways around the roots

In a shower o’ flyin’ sparks,

What stings like them there hornet things—

An’ causes like remarks— [page 121]

But Shan, he jumps, an’ he don’t land right,

For he sits back awful hard,

An’ when I pulls him out o’ the mess

His seatin’s painful charred;

But, same as you’re apt to make a strike

In your grubstake’s endmost quarter,

It weren’t but a minute or so from that

When we sights the open water.

It were none too soon, for a few more chain,

An’ we’d never been here to tell—

An’ I’m free to gamble as that last lap

Was hot as the shaft o’ hell!

A boat as we’d cached was safe an’ sound,

An’ we made the rails that night;

But we weren’t none sorry as it were dark

For we sure was an awful sight:

Me, I’m no picture—though I sports a rim

Like a picture-postcard saint’s—

But when I’ve a chance for a peek at Shan

Why, I near as nothin’ faints!

His shirt’s a half-burned hunk o’ rag

Which he’s wearin’ same as a shawl,

An’ his pants—well, takin’ a rearsight view

His pants ain’t there at all!

* * *

It’s wrote that, “There’s good in everythin”—

Just where I ain’t a-mindin’—

Like as ocean water carries gold—

Though I figure it takes some findin’—

An’ the same with us; though our loss comes hard—

Them beans I’d special cherished—

Still, as Shan contributes, “it’s plums to peas

As them hornet pests has perished!”

Graham Harris

[page 122]

EXCESSMENT WORK

Gus was known as a queer old card,

Prospecting always without a pard,—

And folks would hear with grin and smirk

About his last ‘excessment work’.

He had one claim he banked upon,

Recorded under the name Don Juan,

Adjoining a mine of major size

Known as the Golden Enterprise.

For twenty years he held this ground

And kept his title safe and sound,

Climbing thousands of feet each year

To dig some holes in rock—or near!

Gus thought the mine would need his claim;

Heads of Enterprise thought the same;

In fact they had to have it soon

As they had reached his line in June.

They thought of sending a man to town

To see what Gus would take—‘cash down’,

But this idea was altered quick

When word came up that Gus was sick.

It looked as if there was a show

To re-locate, if they went slow,

And so they watched to see if Gus

Would miss or catch the next world bus.

Gus was a tough old bird it proved,—

Not so easy from earth removed;

Careful nursing and rest complete

Put him back on his aged feet.

Anxious he was reach his ground

Knowing that scouts would hover around,

And over his claim would often stroll

To see if he dug his yearly hole.

The situation caused him grief;

He felt quite weak; his time was brief

In which to do the needed work;

His claim was lost if he should shirk. [page 123]

He rolled his blankets, bought some grub,—

He’d show these scouts he was no dub!

With little strength, but heaps of pride

Up to the mine he bummed a ride.

From there he had a stiff old climb;

When out of sight he made slow time;

A hundred yards or so an hour

Was all he found within his power.

He reached his claim with strength all spent,

Too weak to even raise his tent

Until he brewed a large tin cup

Of tea that quickly braced him up.

Refreshed next morning after sleep

He took tools up the hillside steep,

But when he tried a trench to start,

A pain crept up around his heart.

He went back to his little tent,

A day and a night in rest he spent,

But when he made another try

He felt as though about to die.

Impelled to stay, compelled to rest,

Soon it became quite manifest

That lacking strength he could not get,

He needs must lose his one best bet.

The scouts were watching, he was sure;

He called them vulgar names, impure;

He knew they knew he moved no dirt,

For they were paid to be alert.

Another day or two sped by,

(How time the enemy did fly!)

And Gus more hopeless grew each day

That slipped into the past away.

One morning he was roused from sleep

By rocks rolled down the mountain steep.

He sat up: could it be a quake

That made him suddenly awake?

He listened to the flying rocks;

He reached for and pulled on his socks,

His overalls and then a coat:—

Perhaps it was a herd of goat! [page 124]

He slipped outside, looked up the hill

And saw what made his heart stand still

Beneath his old blue denim shirt,—

A monster grizzly throwing dirt!

A marmot family lived up there,—

Under some boulders was their lair,—

And Gus could hear the rodents squeal

As bruin dug them for a meal.

One by one they were caught and killed

Till all were gone and bruin filled:

Nevermore would they whistle shrill

As Gus dug trenches on their hill!

Gus kept hidden, as well he might;

He had no wish to start a fight,

And knew enough of grizzly bears

To keep away from their affairs.

Dripping with blood from tooth to claw

Bruin went shambling up the draw

In confident strength and evil fame,

Leaving Gus alone on his claim.

When all looked safe Gus climbed the hill

To where the brute had made his kill

And found a hole of wondrous size

Gaping there, to his great surprise.

Boulders nearly a yard in length

Bruin had shifted with giant strength

In reaching the cosy dens below

Where marmots wintered beneath the snow.

He gazed in awe—but not for long,—

A grizzly’s ethics might be wrong,

But an ill wind, so he understood,

Was one that blew no one much good.

He promptly took his muck stick there

And trimmed that hole up neat and square:

When next the scouts went out to spy,

Gus was causing the dirt to fly. [page 125]

Next day the road he headed down

To the mine recorder in the town,

Paid his fee with a knowing quirk

And swore to his ‘excessment work’.

The scouts were puzzled—could not guess

The marvel wrought to their distress:

They looked for Gus—met his demands—

And thirty thousand plunks changed hands.

George E. Winkler

~

THE DUD

The Gillies Limit rush was on;

The boys was in the air.

They talked a lot of bull and con,

And swung the lead for fair.

We all had claims for to record,

But that there darned Recorder

He kep’ us waiting round, my lord!

To do the thing in order.

Recorder’s office it was shut,

Sure it was closed till ten,

When it would open for us—but

It was uncertain when,

Or if, we’d get a chance to file:

The’h was an awful jam;

The crowd it stretched near half a mile;

You couldn’t wedge or ram

A bloomin’ inch ahead or back.

Then—sumpin’ seemed to break—

I seen my pardner, Whiskey Jack,

Put out his arm and shake

A lighted fuse stuck in a stick

Of healthy dynamite!

The fuse was sparking good and quick—

My G-d, it was a fright!

Says Jack—“Now fade, yeh suckers, fade,

“I’ve got the right of way!”

And say, we sure did make the grade,

Nobody tried to stay. [page 126]

Well, Jack recorded both our claims,

Then he come sauntering back.

I asts him why in hell he aims

At pullin’ such a crack?

Well, for a time he shook his head;

But soon I made him tell:

That ca’tridge that had scared us dead

Was filled with sawdust—h-ll!

J. C. Murray

~

MAXIMS

My son, if I, Hafiz, thy father,

       Endeavor to sell thee my stock

In a mine, or a prospect, or a quarry,

       Prepare thy young soul for a shock!

It will teach thee that “caveat emptor”

       Is wisdom that none can mock.

My son, if promoters approach thee,

       Unfailingly point to the door;

They have nothing thou could’st not get cheaper—

       Be it bootleg, or tickets, or ore.

They are marked on the listings of suckers,

       All those that are lacking in lore.

J. C. Murray

~

TO THE BROKER

PROSPECTOR, addressing the Broker, (loq.)

’Tis you who do business in offices fine;

’Tis I who am left in the cold to repine.

The money YOU get is the money I sweat for,

And labour, and suffer, and—yes—go into debt for.

’Tis you make the profit, though I do the job;

Believe me, ’tis I whom you constantly rob;

And often I wonder just why you are here.

I doubt if you’re needed, and sometimes I fear

That some one will rise in his heaven-sent wrath

And remove all you parasites blocking our path!

J. C. Murray

[page 127]

[unnumbered page, includes illustration]

PROMOTERS

Pray tell me briefly, (if I may

       Be so bold as to ask)

If ever for a month or a day

       Promoting’s been your task.

Promoters come, promoters go,

       But mostly, soon or late,

They leave a load of waste and woe,

       A heritage of hate.

And yet, and yet, they’re not to blame

       A wee bit more than those

Who take a chance, and are not game

       To stand the chance they chose.

The moral’s obviously seen:—

       Promoters will exist

Until promotees grow less green;

       So why complain—oh! whisht!

J. C. Murray

~

TO A USER OF CERTAIN EPITHETS

“Illimitable”, “inexhaustible”, “unscratched”,—

Oh, for the love of Mike, begone!

Bestow thine adjectives in some forgotten limbo

Of the Laurentian Shield.

Drown them in the Lake of Athapapuskow,

Inter them below the diabase of Cobalt,—

Aye, ’neath the sediments of the Dome:

If need be, past the ribs of Hell—

But hide them deep—Oh, hide them deep!

They cause me pain in the cervical vertebrae;

They leave me cold as Coronation Gulf.

Stale are they and unprofitable

As proximity to Hollinger in the literature

Of bucket shops.

Oh, get thee gone, and may the rope that hangs thee [page 129]

Be illimitable,

The curses that pursue thee

Inexhaustible!

And may the curry-comb of Fate

Leave naught unscratched on thy thick epidermis.

Ah, cut the cackle, man—forget it!

J. C. Murray

~

STOCK QUOTATIONS

When a mining guy sends you a beautiful screed

Which fills you with hope as you lie back and read,

When he sobbingly tells you it’s been a hard fight,

But the dividend stage is now nearly in sight—

                         He’s lying, brother, he’s lying

When they speak of the man who “got in on the ground floor”

And cleaned up a fortune by buying Lake Shore

Just tell of the guy who “got in” on Teck Hughes,

And say that you’re not stepping into his shoes—

                 And start shying, Brother, start shying.

I’ve played with the stocks as a child plays with fire,

Hung on like grim death, going higher and higher.

But when they’ve come down with a sickening thud,

And I’ve waked from my dreaming to find my name’s “mud”,

                  They’ve been lying, Bo’, just plain lying.

When I think of the dumps that I’ve helped to finance

It doesn’t seem real, it’s more like romance

And I’m certain that I, if put to the test,

Could stake me a mine, just as good as the rest

                   Without trying, Bo’, without trying.

So now when a salesman comes round with his line

Of some hole in the ground that will soon be a mine,

I look at the hound—look him straight in the eye

And in clear ringing tones, I say to this guy

                      “Nothin’ doin’! Bo’, nothin doin’!”

W. H. Thomson

[page 130]

THE PROSPECT

Mister, the whole three claims

Is filled with stuff like this;

And this is what I aims

At doing, hit or miss:—

I want ten thousands bones

Right quick and ono the spot;

Me and my pardner Jones

Knows rightly what we got.

You’ll get an option now

For that there money down;

That’s what we both allow.

Say, Mister, why the frown?

Hell! no, we ain’t got gold;

But look at them there quartz!

You don’t need to be told

That toads can give yer warts!

J. C. Murray

~

THE CALL OF THE “WILD CAT”

You may talk about Noranda,

Your Hollinger, your Frood;

Echo Bay so far away,

Where the ore seems mighty good.

You may think your Little Long Lac,

With its thirty dollar gold,

Looks mighty fine at 759

And a darned good stock to hold.

You may boost your Coniaurum

Cos it’s payin’ dividends;

And you might grow fat from Central Pat,

But listen here my friends:

I got a little prospect

That makes them all look cheap.

I got the ore, and what is more

I know she’s runnin’ deep. [page 131]

There is no lack of water;

There’s timber everywhere;

But I need dough to make it go,

For I’ve staked my all up there.

I ought to form a comp’ny,

But my education’s poor,

So why be rash, give me your cash;

I’ll get you gold for sure.

Just listen while I tell you:

My claims will top the lot

When the great Lake Shore is a mine no more,

And the McIntyre’s forgot.

W. B. Paton

~

CIRCUMLOCUTION

He brought me a specimen lousy with gold,

       And he said that it came from a locus

Where the shores of Lake Larder are frowning and bold:

       Oh! he vowed there was no hocus-pocus.

He gave me that specimen lousy with gold;

       And I gave him a cheque to his order—

But something went wrong and I knew I was sold.

       For he lit out that night for the border.

I still have that specimen lousy with gold;

       But I now have a very firm notion

(A notion on which you can’t loosen my hold),

       That it came from a mine Nova Scotian!

J. C. Murray

~

ALIBI

     (An over-capitalized, non-producing mining company is threatened with trouble from its long-suffering shareholders. One of the “insiders” is supposed to give utterance to the following:)

                        We’ve got to make our killing first;

                        And then, if there should hap the worst, [page 132]

                        Just watch our President! My eye!

                        Just watch him make his alibi!

                        He’ll name the experts he consulted,

                        And blame on them what has resulted.

                        He’ll vow that he was quite misled

                        By what his engineers had said.

                        He knows he never had a mine,

                        But spilling beans is not his line.

                        I guess that we can trust him now

                        To navigate us through the row.

* * *

                        So, when the talk and fuss blow over,

                        The bunch of us will be in clover.

J. C. Murray

~

INVITATION FROM CANDID BROKER

Dear Sir:—Your name was handed me to-day,

And I was told that you are in the way

Of dabbling quite a bit in mining shares

Of mines in Porcupine and otherwheres.

And so I thought I’d write at once to you

And state my case without too much to-do.

Our mine, the Guinea, has twelve hundred feet

Of subterranean working trim and neat.

We have a first class lot of shafts and stopes,

Assorted winzes, raises, cross-cuts, hopes.

The latter are our staple and our stay,

For nearly all our ore is mined away.

But gold mine shares just now are all the fashion;

The public’s eagerness amounts to passion.

So if by that same passion you are gripped,

We can supply you with delightful script.

And, take my word, there’ll be no future fuss—

Your cheque will close the incident for us.

J. C. Murray

[page 133]

MARY’S LITTLE MINE

Mary had a little lamb

You’ve often heard that line,

But prap’s you’ve never heard, the yarn

Of Mary’s little mine.

She thought of it at school one day

And as she conned it over,

She saw if she could make it go

She soon would be in clover.

She said, “If I can make a start,

If I can just begin it

The plan will work itself because,

‘There’s one born every minute.’”

So what did our dear Mary do?

She got herself a map,

And staked herself a claim or two

With which to bait the trap.

She organized a syndicate,

(You see how things get started)

And first thing that the public knew

The stock was on the market.

It started at a modest price,

But, phoney news in papers,

Plus pressure from the boiler shops

Made Mary’s stock cut capers.

The price went up and then went down

In most erratic fashion,

But each way that the darn thing moved,

Our Mary drew her ration.

It went like this for quite a while

Then things began to sag,

So Mary got from under

While the public held the bag.

But now at last she had a roll

Quite big enough to choke her,

So Mary quit that piker’s game;

She’s now a full blown broker.

The moral of this little yarn

To you who read, of course is

To keep away from mining stock,

It’s safer backing horses.

W. H. Thomson

[page 134]

VERS LIBRE

This is free verse—

Vers libre—

Emancipated from rhyme,

But not yet

Totally

Devoid of meaning.

Not at all.

Into the rotunda of the Kind Edward

Casually dropping,

There met I a very

Receptive person.

Said “If

“You had now an income of 50,000

“Iron men

“Annually accruing to you

“From the Hollinger Mine,

“You would not feel

“Too darned badly, now would you?”

Said he: “Not to any

“Very large or varied extent”.

These were his words.

“Go to”, said I, “and

“Come upstairs with me,

“And

“I’ll show you maps, plans,

“Etcetera, of a mine that has Hollinger

“Skun a mile”.

He came.

Although this is very

Free verse,

I shall go no further.

J. C. Murray

~

HYPAETHRAL LEGISLATION

Toronto Broker (loq.):—

           A cloud, no larger than my hand, affronts

           Th’untainted blue. No more promoters’ stunts

           Can be pulled off with that impunity

           That marked the times of our immunity [page 135]

           From azure legislation. Henceforth we

           Must act with care and with propriety.

           The little tricks we treasure in our trade,

           The little turn by which our oof is made,

           If one is caught at them ’twill be in vain he

           Appeals for clemency from Mister Raney.

* * *

           In other words we guys are up the flue;

           Upon my soul, I don’t know what we’ll do!

           Twixt Mister Raney and that blasted Journal,

           We crack the nut and others get the kernel.

           I see it coming rapidly, alas!

           Standard Exchange—a Sunday Bible Class!

J. C. Murray

~

ADIEU

Mine Promoter, ere we part,

Let me keep enough to start

On prosaic work for pay,

By the month or by the day,

In Cathay or Timbuctoo

Where I won’t see aught of you.

By those prospects always sold,

Mostly ’cause they had no gold,

By certificates I’ve got

Which I hoped would make my pot—

I am finished, I am through,

I have had enough of you.

Mine Promoter! if I go,

Think of me when things are slow—

Though I fly to Timbuctoo

I’ll be thinking still of you.

Can I cease to love thee? No!

Mine Promoter! I’ll not go!

J. C. Murray

[page 136]

A MILLION

     (As with much fugitive verse, the following is based upon actual experience in a mining camp. The sudden acquisition of a million is often disastrous.)

O! I saw him on the morning that he got his million cool.

And perhaps he wasn’t normal, but he didn’t act the fool.

He was just a bit uneasy, so I didn’t say a word,

But I acted quite as natural as if nothing had occurred.

I must say that I was anxious that he shouldn’t lose his head,

Or attempt to start a riot—I’d prefer him to be dead.

Being proud, I merely nodded as I wandered on my way

And refrained from talking to him—naught but one thing did I say:

“You are welcome to your million, I am happy as I am,

And I wouldn’t share them with you”. All he answered was “Hot damn!”

For the million that he’d garnered wasn’t in the form of wealth—

But those little wingless insects that arrive on you by stealth!

J. C. Murray

~

HOT AIR HISTORICALLY CONSIDERED

King David knew his brother man

Almost as well as mortal can.

He hated, loved, and sinned a bit;

And yet was godly and a wit.

He had no patience with a fool;

His way with him was sharp and cool.

As warning to all careless buyers,

He stated flat: “All men are liars!”

We’d hardly go as far as that,

For in the fire would fall the fat;

But let us here affirm that those

Whose confidence and trust repose

In hot-air artists and their guff

Deserve to lose their hard-earned stuff.

L’envoi

If illustration you requiah,

Why, pause and think of poor Uriah!

J. C. Murray

[page 137]

MY WISH

I often wish that I had lived

In the good old days of yore,

When man ran wild like a wanton child,

And he did not search for ore.

There was no need to worry then

On samples running ‘trace’.

No fitful dreams of wildcat schemes

Disturbed your resting place.

A strong quartz vein meant less than naught

To the cave man guy of old.

He’d take his nap on a gossan cap

With never a thought of gold.

Ah, yes! I wish that I had lived

In those dim and distant ages,

When the seven foot round had not been found,

And you did not work for wages.

No labour strikes were ever known,

For you could not seek relief.

If your aim was bed, you might be mad,

But you went without your beef.

No need for safety programs then,

For every savage knew

If you did not try for the other guy,

The other guy got you.

No pork and beans to every meal;

No bug infested bunks.

You slept in bowers, ate dinosaurs

Or pterodactyl chunks.

Indeed I wish that I’d been born

Before the days of brokers;

When you were not ruled, nor fleeced, nor fooled

By penny stock promoters.

W. B. Paton

[page 138]

GLAYSHAL DRIFT

It was not so near and not so far

From the right of way of the C.N.R.

That I met him plodding with pick and pan—

That world-famed—so he claimed—mining man.

He looked me up and he looked me down…

Quoth he, “I reckon you’ll be from town?”

“That’s so,” I told him, “not much to do,

So I came up here for a day or two;

“I understand that this mining field

Is part of the great Pre-Cambrian shield,

And I thought, if it isn’t too wet or cold,

That I’d hunt about a bit for gold.”

He looked me over, he looked me round…

My suit was good and my shoes were sound…

And his face grew bright with a new-born glee;

“You’re right on the mark, my boy,” says he.

“It’s kinda funny you came this way

At this here time and on this here day;

When you met with me you was sure in luck,

There’s no man near you could better’ve struck.”

I was going to speak, but he stopped me—“Wait!

Just come with me while it’s not too late;

There’s a dozen here as rake Hell through

To find what I figure’n showin’ to you.”

So I followed his tracks for a weary mile,

Till he sat by a monstrous loose-rock pile;

Says he, “You were hintin’ about some gold,—

There’s more close here than a Bank could hold.

“It’s like this, pal,” and he tapped my knee…

“I was up this way in twenty-three,

An’ I struck a lead near two chain wide,

Just lousy with gold from side by side.

“For fifty rod, by measurin’ line,

That quartz would make your eyes fair shine;

There was nuggets along it like Injun corn,

In scores and hundreds, sure as you’re born. [page 139]

“Now p’raps you ain’t no g’ologist?”

I told him I didn’t know shale from schist…

“Well, here’s the way this land is shaped,

With rocks all battered and cracked and scraped.

“Some years, when a winter’s long and hard,

The frost goes down, to about, five yard,

And it splits the rocks on top from those

Away down under, as ain’t got froze

“Then, in spring, when the water gets between,

The cap of a hill might come off clean

An’ slide down the gully—an’ there here shifts

Us miners speaks of as ‘Glayshal Drifts’.

“Well, I was away getting all squared round

To put in a camp right on this ground,

When one of these glayshal drifts comes, plunk,

And smothers my vein with all this junk!

“I’ve long been a-meaning’ to clear it off,

But I ain’t just right,” (here he gave a cough)

“Ah’ I got a wife and a coupla kids

As keeps me humpin’ to fill their bids;

“But, as you seems a decent sort of guy

As’d use a fortune proper, why,

Though it’s tough to do it, I’ll sell the lot

To you for a paltry thousand, spot!

“Then you only got them rocks to throw”

(There were half a million tons or so)

“From off that vein, an’ you’ll find down under

Such a sight of gold as ‘ll make you wonder!”

No, I did not buy that bargain lot,

For, alas, a thousand I had not;

So there’s hope for you, if find you can

That not-I-fear quite-sincere mining man.

* * *

Prince, “Truth is mighty, it shall prevail.”

So doth the proverb tell its tale. .

Yet fools still gamble their money on gifts

Of gold mines buried in “Glayshal Drifts,”

And still knaves flourish who follow the plan

Of the say-it-right some’ll-bite mining mine!”

Graham Harris

[page 140]

THE SCALER

The miner looked up from his afternoon nap,

With horror his face became paler,

“The captain”, he thought, “now I’m in a trap”,

Then saw with relief, ’twas the scaler.

The scaler came in and he sounded the loose

That was hanging right over his head,

He said, “That’s a damn funny place for a snooze,

You might wake up and find yourself dead.”

“I’ll take it down after,” he said with a sigh,

“Maybe sometime to-morrow will do,”

Then heavily yawning he said to this guy,

“Move over, there’s room there for two”.

The time passed along in the pleasantest way

For it’s well known that every scaler,

Through diligent practicing, day after day,

Has become the mine’s best entertainer.

He picks out a roof with an ominous sound,

At taking it down he don’t worry,

Till the captain comes in the course of his round,

But that is a different story.

The captain looks up, if he’s not too obtuse,

With his hammer he gives it a knock,

And then with his lamp he proceeds to mark “LOOSE”

Which the scaler rubs out with his smock.

I said to the scaler, “I’m probably wrong,

My words then I hope you will pardon,

But why do you carry that bar all day long?”

He said, “Well, it’s something to lean on”.

He throws up his hat when the roof is too far

And then by a process of reason,

He says, “If the loose don’t come down with the jar

It’s safe for the rest of the season.”

Now these are the stories one hears in the mine,

In language that’s plain and uncouth,

“He’s no good, he’s lazy, he sleeps half the time,”

But believe me it’s far from the truth, [page 141]

[unnumbered page, includes illustration]

For I’ve been a scaler, I’ve been thro’ the mill,

And the job I have many times curst,

I’ve had some punk jobs in the mining game, still,

I’m positive scaling’s the worst.

Try making things safe, when you’re two shifts behind,

With sour looks on Safety First’s dial,

And know that no matter how safe the roof sounds,

It will loosen up after a while.

The work of a scaler is never complete,

The shiftboss makes sure of the fact,

Because he’s a scaler, it don’t mean a thing,

For often he’s told to clean track.

When captains are finished, they know they are done,

As a job, I would say it was fine,

But if you are asked you can tell them the truth,

That scaling is the worst in the mine.

W. H. Thomson

~

THE MUCKER

I was mucking in the crosscut

When the captain said to me,

How’d you like to be a shiftboss for a change?

There’s a shifter leaves to-morrow,

For greatly to my sorrow

He’s lately took to actin’ kinda strange.

We’d find him at the station

With his head between his hands,

And earnestly conversing with a stoll;

But we had to sorta guide him

To a lunatic asylum,

When we found him cutting out a paper doll.

Now I was young and foolish,

Didn’t know I was well off;

I thought I saw a chance to leave the ruts

But after two weeks shiftin’

I find I’m slowly driftin’

The same way as the guy they say was nuts. [page 143]

I check ‘em in each morning,

And I see the glassy eye

Of a mucker with an alcoholic breath,

I tell him, to my sorrow,

He can’t work until to-morrow,

As we can’t afford an accidental death.

I’d a temperamental sealer,

And a runner with a grouch,

I’d a nipper who is never there on time;

One half the gang is lazy,

The other half is crazy,

I think I’d all the dumbells in the mine.

There’s the guy who takes advantage

Of the boss who’s on the square,

If I treat him right he thinks I’m pretty soft;

I’d one who heaved a hammer

At an unoffensive trammer,

And kicked because I had to lay him off.

I read reports of samples,

Read the safety bulletins,

I read the daily message in the log,

I find that I’m adaptin’

A deaf ear to the captain;

I’m practically in a mental fog.

So give me back my shovel!

And give me back my pick!

Oh! give me back the muck pile that I’ve lost!

Give some other guy the honours,

He can have the extra dollars,

For I’m thro’, I’ve quit, I’m finished as a boss.

W. H. Thomson

~

THE MUCKER’S LAMENT

When you see the Captain frowning

And his hard boiled hat atilt,

And he gives you the impression

He’d been weaned on sour milk;

When you see the shiftboss coming [page 144]

And he’s looking kinda mad;

Then it’s ten to one in doughnuts

That the pass is looking bad.

                             Chorus:—

So we’ll fill another train,

Yeah! we’ll fill another train,

We’ve got to get the ore pass full again;

So shout a little louder

For blastin’ sticks and powder

And we’ll start right in to fill another train!

When the shift is nearly over

And I’m cleaning off the track,

And my arms and legs are aching

And my shirt sticks to my back,

The old chute’s bin running dandy

It’s the best it’s done for days,

Well that’s the time the shifter comes

And he looks at me and says!

                       Chorus:—

Can’t you fill another train?

Won’t you fill another train?

The repetition’s driving me insane;

When it’s rest I’m mostly needin’.

Then I hear the shifter pleadin’,

Oh muckers! won’t you fill another train?

When my mining days are over

And I go to get my pay,

And I meet my future Shiftboss

In the land that’s far away,

If he asks me what my job was,

And I tell him, loadin’ ore,

I hope He’ll say, you’re finished boy

And you’ll never hear no more.

                       Chorus:—

Won’t you fill another train?

Can’t you fill another train?

I’ll laugh for I’ll be on another plane;

I might hear the shifter crying,

As thro’ the clouds I’m flying,

Oh muckers! won’t you fill another train?

W. H. Thomson

[page 145]

THE CAGE TENDER

He starts in the mine fairly normal,

On his face there’s the pleasantest smile,

He cheerily says, “How’s she going pal”

But so sad to say after a while

He’s put on the cage and he changes,

You’d think that he wanted to bite us

Thro’ different stages he ranges

Of that dreadful disease “Cageitis”.

No cage tender ever escapes it,

The results can quite plainly be seen,

He stands on the cage like a half wit,

Who has got something wrong with his bean.

The disease by itself isn’t catching

But it sticks to them closer than glue;

To students it might be worth watching,

So I’ll try and describe it to you.

You flash to go up from the level,

One hour later he’ll come, with a frown,

His manner is just barely civil,

And he snarls, “Bo, I’m on my way down,”

You wait there another half hour

Somehow you start thinking of adders

From his wrath, you nervously cower,

So you wearily climb up the ladders,

He seems to resent an intruder,

He claims all the cage as his own,

And day after day he gets ruder,

He is just like a dog with a bone.

“You say you can hardly believe it”

That my story don’t seem to make sense,

But brother I’ve reason to know it

I’ve had some experience.

For kindness won’t make an impression,

He’s immune to the sting of a curse,

All miners make this sad confession

That day after day he gets worse;

There’s only one way you can cure him

The bare thought alone makes him grovel,

From his cage you must gently allure him

And give him a job on a shovel.

W. H. Thomson

[page 146]

THE SHIFTBOSS

When you’re being bawled out by a shiftboss

And you take it without even blinking,

Tho’ you don’t say a word, I’m certain

That’s something like this you are thinking.

A mucker once murdered a shiftboss,

He was taken away by a mountie,

But the judge said, “We can’t do anything here,

You must go to North Bay for the bountie”.

He started to work as a mucker,

But he never could muck out the round,

He said that’s a job for a sucker,

And he meant it, the big lazy hound.

They gave him a job as a runner,

But he never could drill off the breast,

And the Captain said, “that he’d sooner

Be shot, than put up with the pest.”

They gave him a job as cage tender

They thought he could manage with ease,

But it seems he had been on a bender

With the ‘man on the flying trapeze;.

They tried him in every position,

The result was a total loss,

So, after a deep consultation

They decided to make him Shiftboss.

For It’s well known the job of a shifter

Is just to stand and look wise,

We would far rather see a missed lifter,

He’s a pain in the neck to us guys.

Thro’ the drifts and the cross cuts he wanders

And then at the stopes takes a peep,

And often he ponders and ponders

The best place to lie down and sleep.

He comes to the stope in the morning,

His idea of mining is dim,

The miner explains what he’s doing,

Then the shiftboss turns round and tells him. [page 147]

You muck thirty cars off rough bottom

From the mine you can just barely crawl

Tho’ your knees from fatigue will be knocking

The blighter just says “Is that all?”

And that’s why so often I’m tempted

To hit him a crack on the smacker,

But he isn’t as black as he’s painted,

No, the son of a gun is blacker.

W. H. Thomson

~

THE MUCKER

I’m only a mucker, a plain common sucker,

Devoid of all knowledge and art.

It’s rising and bending with shovel, unending;

Monotonous right from the start.

The big, hard rock miner sets up his big Leyner

And drill off a seven foot round.

He loads up and wires it; he tests it and fires it;

He smiles, for it’s good breaking ground.

But what of ‘yours truly’? I’m tortured unduly;

I’m hunted from cross-cut to stope.

My muscles are aching; my vertebrae’s breaking;

Discouraged; I’ve given up hope.

The track is all littered with rock; I’m embittered;

The mucking plate’s standing up straight.

The dump has been shattered; my muck car is battered.

Ah, such is the poor mucker’s fate.

The pipe lines are trailing; the loose back needs scaling;

There’s at least one miss-lifter; the gas is a snifter,

But yet I must keep up the pace.

For I’m only a mucker, but not like Tom Tucker:

I don’t get my meals for a song.

I must keep on going. At first signs of slowing

The shifter comes sneaking along. [page 148]

I missed my just ration of good education.

No diplomas for me, nor degrees;

And I ne’er was a bluffer, so here I must suffer

While the highbrows sit back at their ease.

Now here is my caution to youths with a notion

Of coming to work in the mine:

First go to a college; absorb all the knowledge

You can; and then step into line.

W. B. Paton

~

DRILL, YE TARRIERS, DRILL

Sure every morn at seven o’clock

       There are twenty tarriers on the rock

All hard at work on the right of way

       On Section B, of the big railway

           Then drill, ye tarriers, drill.

Chorus:—

Drill, ye tarriers, drill

For we work all day without sugar in our tay

While we work beyant on the big railway.

Then drill, ye tarriers, drill

And shtrike and shtrike and turn the drill

And drill, ye tarriers, drill.

Monologue, finishing with “Are you all ready.

Then Blast, Fire, Noise, all over.

English, Irish, Welsh, and Scotch,

French and Germans, Swedes and Dutch,

       Poles, Italians, Greek begob;

       Every country’s on the job.

           Then drill, ye tarriers, drill.—Chorus:—

We go to work in gangs of three,

Red haired Mike and Bill and me;

       There’s no mistake we’re husky lads

       That swing the sleds and hold the gads,

           Then drill, ye tarriers, drill.—Chorus:— [page 149]

When the boss comes along says Bill to Mike

‘Put all your power on the drill when you strike,’

       Mike winks at me, I wink at Bill,

       While we gently shtrike and turn the drill.

           Then drill, ye tarriers, drill.—Chorus:—

But when the foreman comes in sight,

We shtrike and shtrike with all our might,

       You can’t fool him because he knows

       The kind of schwing and shtrike that goes.

           Then drill, ye tarriers, drill.—Chorus:—

The cook is a fine man all around,

And his wife is a great big fat fardown

       She makes good bread, and she makes it well;

       But she bakes it harder than hobs of Hell.

           Then drill, ye tarriers, drill.—Chorus:—

The foreman’s name is Dan McCann,

And I tell you what, he’s a damned mean man.

       One day a premature blast went off,

       And a mile in the air went big Jim Gough.

           Then drill, ye tarriers, drill.—Chorus:—

Next month when payday came around,

A dollar short in his pay he found.

       What for, says Jim; came Dan’s reply,

       You were docked for the time you were up in the sky.

           Then drill, ye tarriers drill.—Chorus:—

~

THE SONG OF STAMP-MILL

This is the song that the stamp-mill

       Thunders all night and all day;

The song that it sings to the watchers—

       Watchers, working for pay.

           Thumpetty—stumpetty—thump—

           Strumpetty—thumpetty—thump—

           A strumpet is gold,

           Let all men be told!

           But I am so made

           That I capture the jade.

           Tries she to ‘scape? [page 150]

           Ha! that is a jape!

           I chase her, embrace her,

           Till, wanton no longer,

           She finds me stronger.

           Thumpetty—strumpetty—thump—

           Strumpetty—thumpetty—thump—

This is the song that the stamp-mill

       Thunders all day and all night;

The song of the chase and the capture,

       The song of predominant might!

Anonymous

~

THE SMELTER

It’s helter-skelter in the Smelter

Every hour of the day and night.

Converters roaring; slag a pouring;

Vulcan’s forge was not more bright.

Moulds a dropping; bars a flopping

Down the skidway to the floor.

Trucks a trundling; truckers bundling

Copper through a box car door.

Air a hissing; sand a swishing

Down upon the tap’ring pile.

Boats a riding; cranes a gliding

Up and down the fiery isle.

All is hustle, all is bustle,

Every man just knows his task.

Some are trimming; some are skimming;

Each behind a nose bag mask.

It’s helter skelter in the Smelter

Every hour of night and day.

Converters roaring, slag a pouring

Out its warning “Keep Away”.

W. B. Paton

[page 151]

ELIMINATION

Ten husky miners, working down the mine.

One had no rope; fell into the stope;

Now there are only nine.

Nine husky miners, criticizing fate.

A rock came down and hit one’s crown,

So now there are but eight.

Eight carefree miners cursing earth and heaven.

A moving train put one out of pain;

Now there are only seven.

Seven crazy miners, playing stupid tricks.

One took his rap from a blasting cap;

Now there are only six.

Six husky miners, very much alive.

One careless soul hit an old miss-hole;

Now there are only five.

Five scratched-up miners, each one with a sore;

Four sought first aid, the fifth one paid.

Now there are only four.

Four carefree miners, all happy as could be;

One felt so jolly, he grabbed a live trolley;

Now there are only three.

Three thrifty miners, hurrying to get through.

One placed his light near some dynamite;

Now there are only two.

Two husky miners, their shift had just begun,

One’s roof was frail; he could not scale;

Now there is only one.

One husky miner, the only one of ten;

But that one says that safety pays.

Take heed you mining men.

W. B. Paton

~

TH’ DRAPPIN’ OV TH’ STAMPS

I’ve heard many a band ov music siftin’ sweetness on th’ air,

An’ a fiddler drawin’ ov his bow, that just sounded like a prayer,

I have heard Aeolian music when the wind was on the ramps,

But no music ever was so sweet as th’ drappin’ ov th’ stamps.

When I’ve laid awake and listened t’ th’ clink, clink, clink, clank, clank,

As they drapped upon and crushed th’ ore t’ put money in th’ bank,

Then I’d fall asleep a-dreamin’ ov th’ happiness galore,

With my pockets full ov money t’ divide among th’ poor.

There is music and ther’s music, but ther’s nothing half so fine,

As th’ runnin’ ov a ten-stamp mill, on a regular payin’ mine.

You may talk erbout your ‘cinches’ an’ other kinds ov clamps,

But t’ me ther’ is no music like th’ drappin’ ov the stamps. [page 152]

THE HELPER

Like breakfast without any bacon,

A bromo without any seltzer,

Like a bum without any makins,

So’s a runner without any helper;

A runner may work like the devil,

But he’ll be the first one to admit,

And say that to be on the level,

A helper does more than his bit.

His name might be Sandy McTavish

Or he might be a Swede or a Finn,

Maybe he don’t spikada English

And don’t even know how to begin,

But mention the chuck wrench while drilling

Then ask him to loosen the dump,

And then watch, how plainly he’s willing

To answer requests on the jump.

He rarely gets into the limelight,

Sometimes he don’t click with his mate,

But often he’s better a damsite,

Than the slut who is getting the break,

Suppose he should get a bum partner

Who sets out to act kind of mean,

I’d laugh, if he just took a starter,

And bopped him one, right on the bean.

But when I see two work together,

And neither is passing the buck,

The work seems as light as a feather,

And the both men are playing in luck,

For the more that I see of this mining,

The more I’m impressed by the fact,

That team work is better than whining,

And slave driving can’t equal tact.

The runners who act like dictators

Never heeding the hardship it brings,

Should think of the fate of the fakers,

Who have stressed the “divine right of kings”,

In passing, I’d just like to mention,

A curious fact, tho’ it seems,

Some graduates argue with passion,

And will fight for divine right of “Queens”. [page 153]

But work that is shared by another,

In the right spirit, give and take,

Is always most likely to smother

This world’s greatest handicap, hate,

So runners, consider the moral

In these lines, which I hope you have read,

With your helper, do not start to quarrel,

For he might heave a rock at your head.

W. H. Thomson

~

DISSEMINATES

Awaken, every miner, wake and fight;

And help us put ‘Old Carelessness’ to flight.

When he is gone your worries will have ceased.

Your conscience will be clear; your future bright.

Why must you suffer injury and pain,

Get well, then do the same thing o’er again?

Why will you never use your eyes to look?

You have not anything to lose, but all to gain.

Oh, men, could you and I with Fate conspire

To keep our injured rate from getting higher;

Would we not then be happier evermore,

And glory while fulfilling our desire?

Why will you miss with ill timed hammer blows

And hit your partner right upon the nose?

Why will you jump from off a moving car;

Or drop a chunk of rock upon your toes?

And when your faltering footsteps oft-times pass

’Mong upturned nails, left there by some darned ass,

Why will you not traverse that danger spot

Like barefoot boys traversing broken glass?

W. B. Paton

[page 154]

MUCK

You take a shovel in your hand

And go up to the face;

The shift-boss swears to beat the band;

       You strike a hellish pace.

You lift, and bar, and load away

       Until your back is broke—

Until your back is broke to stay—

       And then you take a smoke.

And this goes on for half a shift

       Until it’s time to eat;

And then again you load and lift,

       And once again repeat.

And so it goes for months and years;

       And yet some geezer’ll growl,

Or weep most hypocritic tears,

       Or try to get us foul,

Because we like to hit it up

       To drown our sodden sorrows—

Forgetting (sanctimonious pup)

       The prospect of our morrows.

J. C. Murray

~

THE FIRST BRICK

Some who were there and some who weren’t when it was poured.

We poured the first brick to-day,

That’s quickly said and easy to say.

But watch! Here’s a canoe on the back of a man;

He has a tea pail and a frying pan;

His hands and wrists are bloody smears;

And he’s all swollen behind the ears.

You’ll wait in vain for groans or cries,

He’s too busy cursing flies.

Is he full of hope or is it romance,

Or is it courage demanding a chance!

Would he have power, or is it fame,

Or has he tradition tied to his name!

Fate has played another trick—

He wasn’t there when we poured the brick. [page 155]

Listen! That’s the bull cook calling;

Hear the axes; trees are falling;

Camps go up; test pits go down;

And a new storekeeper starts in town.

She samples well, she’s going to pay;

They’re all hopped up, until the day

They shut her down; it seems so funny

But they just had to run out of money.

Not having funds, they couldn’t stick—

They weren’t there when we poured the Brick.

That’s a lawyer you see in the swivel chair,

Gesticulating with knowing air.

Arrayed on one side is a gang of men

And on the other, a fountain pen;

He knows a man, a friend of another

Who was mixed up in mining with somebody’s brother;

He thinks it wise to pay his fee

And have him examine the property;

He’ll draw up a contract without a flaw;

He’s the nuts on Company law;

He has a dispensation from the gods.

And he sure understands the prevention frauds.

You can call a man on the phone,

If you catch him at home some night alone,

But discuss sweet things like sugar refining.

Don’t be unethical and mention mining!

He protects a client here and protests one there,

Till they all sign some unworkable affair.

He works the deal up to real perfection.

They won’t have a mine, but they’ll all have protection.

He swung too much pen and not enough pick—

He wasn’t there when we poured the Brick.

Do you see that gang there playing poker,

The one that’s dealing is a tin horn broker.

He’ll take your order to buy or sell;

He says he has a wonderful clientele;

He’ll form a Company and put her across;

Some acres of rock and more of moss;

The gink in the diner,

Is a consulting miner;

He writes reports on properties;

He doesn’t mine, he charges fees. [page 156]

It will take a month, his data to sort,

Here is sample of his report:—

Re. your instructions, My Dear Mr. James,

I proceeded up North to examine your claims,

You can reach them by auto, by air or by rail,

If you had a canoe and some wind you could sail;

You have ample wood and water at hand

And a good place for building, so I understand,

The rocks there are old, or so it appears;

The ones that I noticed had been there for years.

The schistosity planes are on parallel lines,

A condition you’ll find at all the big mines.

The contracts also are metamorphosed,

I could see this in places where they are exposed.

Veins of importance, I have not seen,

But I did find some crystals of tourmaline;

Tourmaline, as you know, denotes a great heat,

And now that I’ve found them, the picture’s complete;

So now in conclusion, My Dear Mr. James,

I’ll advise that at once you develop these claims,

They are low in the muskegs and high in the hills;

This should be proven with two diamond drills.

He collects his fees, he pours it on thick,

But he wasn’t there when we poured the Brick.

A bunch of suckers had taken a knock,

Some dynamite salesman had sold them stock,

So they were there when the brick was poured,

Some were laughing, some thanking the Lord.

The world says they’re lucky, but that’s not right

They had the courage to work and fight.

They paid no attention to newspaper knocks,

They just humped their backs and blasted rocks.

When brokers said their stock’s the nuts,

They tightened their belts around their guts,

When pay cheques were late and the grub ran out

They cut holes in the ice and lived on trout.

They stuck her out through thin and thick,

And they were all there when we poured the Brick. [page 157]

HIGH GRADE

Now why does a miner remain in the mine?

This question was put to me lately,

I gave it much thought, and my answer is this:

It’s because each shift he gets four eighty.

A peculiar thing in regards to the mine,

It took me a while to discover,

The gold that is taken from out of that hole

Is promptly put down in another.

The cry came from Roosevelt, we’re wanting more gold,

But what is the echo I hear?

A faraway voice seems to come from the mine,

You can have it, but we want more beer!

A stranger once came to Porcupine camp,

The remark that he made you can’t beat it,

He thought they had windows to light up the mine

And enquired if they had it steam heated.

He said, it sounds foolish, but what is a mine?

Tho’ a job underground I don’t covet!

I said that it’s easy explained, that a mine

Is a hole, with a liar above it.

When you’ve finished the round, and cleaned out the holes,

Don’t act like a darn silly mutt,

When you’ve loaded the holes, and then cut the fuse,

Come away when you’re blasting the cut.

Could you use a shovel? I once asked a bum,

His answer proved he was above it,

He opened his eyes and said with a smile

I could fry eggs and bacon upon it.

The cage-tender says that his job’s pretty good

But sometimes he has a few bad days,

He often gets tired of going up and down

And wishes that he could go sideways.

They’re speeding things up, at the McIntyre Mine,

So I hear, but then I hae my doots,

Of this yarn that I hear, about scrapping the cage,

And descending with big parachutes. [page 158]

A miner attempted to enter the cage,

But the cage, just then started to rise,

He fell four thousand feet, right into the sump,

My! he certainly got a surprise.

You miners who work in the bowels of the earth,

If you can’t get along with your partner,

Don’t lose your temper, count fifty, and then

Sock him right on the head with a starter.

The samplers all say that they cut forty feet,

But I hope they won’t think I’m sarcastic,

In saying, I think that the tape that they use

Must be made from some kind of elastic.

W. H. Thomson

~

THE CONTRACT MUCKER

When the dividend’s set, I can say without doubt,

There is one man to thank when the cheques are sent out;

He’s away down below where he can’t see the sky

And he rarely complains, he’s a hard working guy.

                             Is the mucker.

His shovel just burns when he’s working below

It’s a joy just to watch how he plays that banjo,

When the car’s full of muck, with four wheels off the track

He just smiles and he says: “Oh alas and alack!”

                             Does the mucker.

When he’s cleaned off the track, and he’s got the plate,

He will think the worst’s over, but there, sure as fate,

He will find them all buckled, and bent, like a bow,

And instead of being flat, they are all in a row,

                             Does the mucker.

Then the sampler comes in, and he lays down his sheet.

And he says, “you must stop cos’ I’m short fourteen feet”

But who is it says to sampler “do tell”

And will answer right smartly “you go plumb to hell”.

                             It’s the mucker. [page 159]

They can say that a mucker is easily led,

That he’s strong in the back, and he’s weak in the head,

But that is a yarn that I cannot receive,

Because of one fact which you’ll have to believe.

                              I’m a mucker.

When the sight of the bonus sheet knocks you all dead,

The sheet seems to set all the mine seeing red,

Then who is it, has the most sarcastic touch,

By informing the captain he’s got far too much,

                              It’s the mucker.

So upon his last shift when he’s mucked his last round,

And he’s up in the sky, where no shift boss is found,

When St. Peter has scanned the good book for his name,

And he says, “what are you” he can proudly proclaim,

                             “I’m a mucker.”

W. H. Thomson

~

TO THE SHOVEL

Good old “muck-stick”,—many a day

       I’ve pushed you through the dirt,

Shoveling off the “Over-lay”

       While sweat soaked through my shirt.

While thus employed, I often think,

       And wonder why it’s true,

That every peanut-headed gink

       Turns up his nose at you,

And fears that he could not retain

       His precious social station,

Nor ever use his bulging brain

       And wondrous education,

If he but took you in his hand

       And laboured in a ditch,

To bring some water on the land

       That makes the nation rich,

Or built a high-way through the wild,

       Or opened up a mine,—

Oh, no!—for collar undefiled

       The peanut-brained WILL pine. [page 160]

Old muck-stick—if ’twere not for you

        We’d not be civilized;

Of all the tools we use, but few

        Should be more highly prized.

Without you, all of us would be

        Still roosting in the trees,

Exposed to beast, and bird, and flea,

        And Winter’s shiv’ry breeze.

If peanut brains could only think,

        They’d surely call to mind,

When mankind hung on ruin’s brink

        You were not left behind;

When war broke out and cannon roared,

        And shrapnel fell around,

Old muck-stick—then you surely roared,

        For, to get underground

Was every blessed hero’s thought;

        The muck, it fairly flew,

And trench and dugout soon were wrought

        By heroes and by you.

Old shovel—we have very much,

        Indeed, to thank you for;

I’m proud to hold you in my clutch;

        You really “won the war.”

Donald C. Simpson

~

THE SAMPLER

The sampler is a man who is hard to define

For he don’t seem to be any use round the mine,

There must be a reason, so try to forgive him,

And find, if we can, an excuse for him living.

He comes into the dry with a most haughty air,

The effect seems to be, speak to me if you dare,

His patrician nose, in the air, like a steeple,

A barrier betwixt him, and us common people.

He looks at the sheet, with an impressive frown,

But for all that we know, it might be upside down,

He solemnly says, “h’m, that looks like a lead”

But I’m sure that the half of them can’t even read. [page 161]

Well, he saunters around till he misses the cage,

Then he wonders why captains get in such a rage,

So someone eventually leads him below

And in forcible language says where he can go.

When he gets to the stope he will squat on the floor

And then to the miners will lay down the law

“Good heaven’s above”, he’ll most likely exclaim

“I can’t do a thing till you get this placed scaled.”

The men don’t say a word, tho’ his face they could punch

While the sampler sits down and he has a light lunch,

He knows they won’t kick, so there’s no need to worry,

Because if they do, he won’t tell them a story.

Now, here’s where the man justifies his existence,

The one point on which he requires no assistance

For we’re all agreed, that we can’t hold a candle

To him, when it comes to purveying of scandal.

He talks, and he talks, but he don’t say a thing,

To mining a light hearted spirit he brings,

So we do the work, while he lays down the law,

And we never remark, “we’ve heard that one before”.

So here’s to the sampler, a jolly good fellow

In all his make up there’s no trace of yellow

He’s so far above us, we almost say “Mister”

He’s true blue, this hero! this marvel! this blister!

W. H. Thomson

~

TO THE STUDENTS

There’s a whisper abroad in the Northland,

The voice of the gossip is humming;

The bootlegger lays in a fresh stock of booze,

For the students, the students are coming.

See them get off the train at the depot,

Expressions of hope on their faces

Some have a breath reminiscent of gin,

And keep up their pants without braces. [page 162]

From a mucker to mine superintendent

Some expect to arrive without pause,

While the others are slightly more modest

They’ve been told that there’s no Santa Claus.

There’s the one with the hard boiled expression,

And six hairs that he calls a moustache,

There’s the one that’s as clean as a whistle,

And the one that could do with a wash.

There’s the one that fights shy of all labour

And expects to get all his prestige,

Not because of his mining knowledge, but

Because he’s a good hand at bridge.

There’s the one who’s so shy and so backward,

And the one with the slightly swelled head

But who, after a week on a shovel

Is beginning to wish he were dead.

There’s the one who won’t ask any favours,

And the one who’s a bit of a whiner,

But whatever he is when he get him

We’ll break him or make him a miner.

It’s a hard life for students to tackle,

But it’s up to them when to say, when;

And it’s better to start with the knowledge

That goldmines are still run by men.

If you’ll sweat like a dog, at the bottom

If you’ll work till you’re ready to drop;

If you’ll dig your toes in and keep climbing

You’ll eventually get to the top.

W. H. Thomson

~

THE MACHINE MAN

You are just feeling fine,

You get to the mine,

And down in the cage start to travel,

But it dampens your mind

To suddenly find

You’ve left the cage at the wrong level.

You flash for the cage,

You are still in a rage,

And the cagetender’s line makes you madder,

So when he starts to shout

And then bawls you out

You fool him, and climb up the ladder. [page 163]

Increasing your pace

You get to the face

And you sweat blood for hours with a gad,

Then the scaler comes in

And says with a grin

“Well buddy! it don’t look too bad.”

His words start a war

But you set up the bar

With an ardour that nothing can dampen

Then another mine’s pest

Says! “Now take a rest

While I work for an hour on this sample.”

Your collar gets hot

But you’re right on the spot,

It don’t do you no good to worry,

For wherever he goes,

The sampler’s supposed

To stop you and tell you a story.

He’ll eventually stop,

You look at your clock

The sight seems to set your mouth foaming,

But you work with a will,

Get started to drill,

Then see that the shiftboss is coming.

You don’t seem to care,

So you shut off the air,

But his face would sure like to smash,

When he says with a frown

“You’d better tear down,

And then set over here for a slash.”

That settles your hash

You break out in a rash,

For it seems you are hounded by fate,

With a four foot set up,

It just seems your luck

The machine bar you’ve got is an eight. [page 164]

You set out to delve,

Tho’ it’s pretty near twelve

And with thirst you are ready to choke

Then you open your pail

And let out a wail,

When you find that your bottle is broke.

Tho’ you’re ready to weep,

You just grit your teeth.

And you think you are near to your goal

But you see red again

You are nearly insane,

When you suddenly find a missed hole.

Well, that’s finished that

And you throw in your hat,

Then you tear down, get powder and fuse,

And think with a sigh,

That you can’t wonder why

Some machinemen are driven to boose.

But for all these delays,

He grins and he says,

When you ask him, “Well, why not forsake it?”

“I know the life’s rough,

And you gotta be tough

But buddy! we’ve learned how to take it.”

W. H. Thomson

~

THE CAPTAIN

Instead of waiting in a rage

He stepped right out onto the cage,

The muckers said “good morning boss!”

And didn’t even stop to curse.

The paper cars are very light,

The men dig in with all their might;

Although I know it won’t sound real

The runners don’t require more steel.

From safety first there’s good reports

And all the drifts are showing quartz,

The vein we thought would disappear

Is showing almost six feet clear. [page 165]

The stations all are looking neat

The cross-cut broke eleven feet;

Head office writes to say that they

Are satisfied in every way.

Mill heads are high, the pass is full,

And everything is beautiful.

How do I know these things are so?

Who usually am full of woe,

The way I talk, you think I’m daft,

But boy, I’m right, The Captain Laughed.

W. H. Thomson

~

SOURDOUGH SANDY

You remember, old Sandy, the last time that we met.

You drew me aside from the booze-guzzlin’ bunch,

An’ whispered to me, you was willing to bet

Your worn penetangs on your latest sure hunch?

With a positive shake of your leonine head

You told me, fer certain, you had last struck the goods,

A discovery so wondrous your fortune was made;

That was years ago, Sandy, grey-bearded old Sandy—

Then why are you stuck in this neck of the woods?

Is there nothin’ left north to romantically lead

You to quaff to the dregs of the Aurora’s iced cup?

Ah, gone are the days of the Cobalt stampede!

Gowganda an’ Porcupine an’ Larder’s old stuff,

But what of Red Lake, an’ Quebec’s recent show,

Where Rouyn proclaims the right kinda bluff?

What’s got you, old Sandy, old totterin’ Sandy?

I’m sorry, old timer, damned sorry, you know!

How dear to me heart, is the old northern miner,

The fella that prospects the wilds fer its ore,

The real pioneer than whom none has been finer

’Tween far Athabasca an’ lone Labrador;

His little tent standin’—a camp-fire scene— [page 166]

A trail windin’ back to his visions of old

Through a forest of fir that is ever so green—

’Tis sourdough Sandy, ancient old Sandy.

Still peerin’ at rocks an’ dreamin’ of gold.

The North’s still as vast, an’ richer it seems,

Its dim hinterlands even beckon the more:

Northward youth’s hikin’ impelled by those dreams

That furiously drove you in stampedes of yore:

With all your old fierceness an’ fleetness an’ fire

Youth tramps the horizon you once saw aglow,

Beyond that an’ further, O father, our sire!—

Youth laughs at you, Sandy, old trail-breaker Sandy,

An’ leaves you behind, you old sourdough.

Alpine MacGregor

~

THE GEOLOGIST

Shaking the dust from truth, I watched him swing

The midget sledge, for science and for love’s sake,

Until the beaten rocks break out and sing

Of blue lagoons, nymph-haunted nooks, and take

The mind to live among

Those by-gone days when Pan was young;

Part reading in the hard primeval sod

The infinite biography of God.

“Huw Menai”

~

THE DIVINING-ROD MAN

He was a man of dignity. His mien

Was mystical, detached, as if he’d seen

The Apocalyptic mysteries revealed,

Or glimpsed the awful Judgment Book unsealed,

Or was familiar with the spirit world.

His whiskers were elaborately curled.

His nose was slightly carmined at the end;

Not less than seven drinks made him unbend.

His coat was of ecclesiastic cut; [page 167]

He might have passed as missionary, but

The hat he wore, a Stetson, wide and black,

Seemed worldly, raffish, strangely out of whack.

His rod consisted of two whalebone strips,

Bound tight together at the outer tips.

With this device he could discover veins,

Thus obviating all prospecting pains.

When, half deceiving and half self-deceived,

He passed away, I doubt if any grieved.

His day has passed, his type lives on forever:

Though I don’t think the present kind so clever.

J. C. Murray

~

THE WONDER CHILD

     (Truly, a printer’s error is sometimes worthwhile. If the “Canadian Mining Journal” had been unimpeachable in its proofreading, our poet would never have been inspired to the following verse, our artist would have lacked his present inspiration, and the President of our Institute would not have been immortalized thus by pencil and by brush. Apr. 13, 1923.)

                  John Dresser, who seems old enough to be

                  Father Confessor to yourself and me,

                  Was born (see Journal, March sixteenth and page

                  One ninety-nine) in ‘eighty-six. His age

                  When graduating from McGill was nine!

                  Great Guns! That’s something wonderfully fine!

                  Precocious child! so lavishly endowed

                  With mental growth to others not allowed!

                  Say, Kid, I have no wish to treat you rough,

                  But how the dickens did you run the bluff?

                  I’m now aware, despite your light-blue eyes,

                  You are not preternaturally wise

                  As outwardly you seem. But, kiddo, say,

                  You’re more than thirty-seven, ain’t yeh, hey?

J. C. Murray

[page 168]

THE EFFICIENCY EXPERT

He doesn’t like the lay-out of the plant;

He disapproves, in manner arrogant,

The mining methods utilized below;

He hints that they are obsolete and slow.

In everything we try to do, indeed,

He signifies that we have gone to seed.

Efficiency’s his battle-cry—that word

By ordinary mortals deep abhorred.

Efficiency, as reckoned by per centum,

We’ll let him have—do nothing to prevent him

From being most abnormally efficient.

Or posing as unhumanly omniscient.

But, by the gods! (We hope he’ll take the tip)

His talk afflicts us with the purple pip!

So, Mr. Expert, pray abate your ardour,—

Life’s hard enough, don’t make it any harder!

J. C. Murray

~

WHEN WINTER COMES

I’ve got an office and I pay the rent;

For weeks I’ve taken in not one red cent.

I’ve got my card in several magazines,

I’ve joined two clubs—you may know what that means.

Of course a feller’s got to have a front;

He can’t go round appearing like a runt.

And so I have a tailor bill or two

That show some signs of getting overdue.

And at this supercritical conjuncture

Financially I’m nothing but a puncture.

For, though affairs may swiftly reach a crisis,

My bank account displays sure signs of phthisis!

J. C. Murray

~

PASSIONATE PLAINT OF THE PUBLICITY-SHUNNING MINING ENGINEER

I’ve seen his name in print

       Ad naus. and ad infin.

That I’m as good as he,

       Don’t matter one small pin. [page 169]

He gets the early worm,

       The late one, too, I ween;

And I would judge he gets

       Most those that come between.

How does he turn the trick?

       How does he hog the prizes?

The answer simply is:—

       The blighter advertises!!!!

J. C. Murray

~

OH TO BE OVER YONDER!

In Canada: Mr. Charles McCrea (Minister of Mines for Ontario) addressing mining men: “A

                  mining tax should not discourage development. A mining tax should be stable. Better

                  have fifty mines at work yielding a moderate profit and paying a moderate tax, than

                  have five mines operating bonanzas with lower grade orebodies lying unworked. I

                  want your help, and, I promise you, you will have ours.”

In the Transvaal: Mr. Samuel Evans (chairman, Crown Mines, Ltd.), addressing shareholders: “I

                            am confident that a thorough investigation by a competent and impartial

                            authority would prove conclusively (a) that the capital invested in the gold

                            mining industry of the Transvaal is more heavily taxed than the capital invested

                            in any similar enterprise in any other country and (b) that this industry is

                            subjected to greater interference by Government officials and more numerous

                            and vexatious Government regulations than any other metalliferous mines in                                                        

                            the world”.

                            Over our way,

                                   Partisans roaring;

                            Under McCrea,

                                   Hollingers soaring.

                            “Don’t tax them away,

                                   Persuade them to stay”,

                            Says Mr. McCrea. [page 170]

                            After he’s panned

                                   Ontario’s wealth,

                            McCrea, on the Rand,

                                   Would better our health.

                            We need him to-day;

                                   The man for S.A.

                            Is Mr. McCrea.

                           

                            No pacts or elections

                                   Can trouble McCrea,

                            No mugwumps nor factions—

                                   He owns not their sway.

                            Hats off! I say,

                                   Hip hip hooray,

                            For Mr. McCrea.

J. C. Murray

(Extracted from THE ROUND ROBIN, July, 1924, issued by Transvaal Chamber of Mines, Johannesburg.)

~

TO THE RECENT GRADUATE

Acumen, vigour, both combined

       With supermind omniscient,

Is what we’re taught that we shall find

       In graduates efficient.

I shall not say I’ve ever known

       (I do not speak unkindly)

A graduate so god-like grown

       That I’d admire him blindly.

I’ve met a few in knocking round,

       And I’ve been disappointed—

They might be safe, they might be sound,

       They WEREN’T the Lord’s anointed.

No genius rare anointed them;

       No spark divine inspired them;

For if it had, alas, ahem,

       Employers would have fired them!

They prospered only if they worked

       And toiled sans intermission;

No graduate that ever shirked

       Achieved a high position. [page 171]

L’envoi

This highly moral verse I think

     Exactly what it should be;

I wrote it with a solemn wink—

     As wise a wink as COULD be.

In glancing over bank accounts

     Of graduates I’ve WORKED with,

I see some very fat amounts,

     Are owned by those I’ve SHIRKED with.

J. C. Murray

~

CONCERNING CHEESES

Prospectors, they may boast a bit;

       The engineer may crow;

The mill-man may with pride be lit;

       But did you ever know

The plain geologist to brag?

       To claim to be the CHEESE?

Or chew the metaphoric rag?

       No, Sir! And, if you please,

Don’t snicker, and pray do not laugh—

       For what I say is true—

Geologists MUST stand the gaff

       For me, and them, and you!

Anonymous

~

EDUCATION

His tump-line was all kinked and fancy-knotted;

The poor damn dub was pretty nigh garroted.

He tried to climb a windfall with his pack,

And very nearly broke his silly back.

He slipped, and almost bust our best canoe;

He messed up everything he tried to do.

Yes sir, he was a helpless, hopeless dud,—

Excepting when one night we started stud.

That guy is layin’ on his back, all in,

When we bring out the cardboards and begin. [page 172]

Say, he sat up like he’d been stung or stabbed,

And just like lightnin’ at the cards he grabbed!

He took the deal,—and he took all we had;

He was a wizard with the cards, that lad!

We tried him out at euchre, keeno, nap,—

The same old tale, he had us in a trap.

He won our money and our I. O. U.’s.

All our spare clothing and our extra shoes.

We found out later, when we come to town,

He’s a professor and his name is Brown.

“Psycho-analysis” he ladles out:

I ain’t got one idee what it’s about.

But me, I’m savin’ up to go to college,—

I never knowed there was such useful knowledge!

J. C. Murray

~

THE GEOLOGIST

He’s a quiet little brown man with a hammer in his hand,

And he wanders over mountains and through spinifex and sand

With a shrewd eye keenly searching for the signs of wealth below,

He taps the rock of ages, and his little hammer thrills

The stillness of the desert and the silence of the hills.

                              You may hear his hammer tap

                              All around the blessed map—

                              A helping hand of histr’y

                              Is this little sun-browned chap.

With a swarthy turbaned Afghan or a half tamed nigger lad

He leaves the beaten highway and the well-known camel pad

To prospect some lone outcrop or to fix a boring sight

’Gainst drought and desert dangers often putting up a fight.

The puzzled nomads wonder, as they shake their shaggy locks

How a white man can find pleasure in clipping common rocks.

The miners watch his verdicts and accept his shrewd assay,

Though the company promotors often wish he’d stay away,

For he has one line of conduct—unflinching straight, and clear;

That he might puff a duffer no one has the slightest fear.

Unlike degreed geologists who stay at home and read,

He knows the game completely and can meet each varied need.

The spirit of the wilderness has claimed him for her own,

And he hears her wooing whispers in every breeze that’s blown.

Her beauty wreaths his memories, and time can never dim

The splendor of the splendid things that she has shown to him. [page 173]

LAMENTATIONS

Now, woe is me that ever I

       Chose Mining Engineering;

Life’s zenith is distressing nigh;

       Guant poverty is leering.

More woe is me, and woe again,

       That, when I did the choosing,

I chose a life so full of pain—

       The prize forever losing.

Well, lack-a-day! eheu! alas!

       Fees furnish feeble feeding;

Employers turn me out to grass;

       Promoters do the leading.

I have no bailiwick, nor home;

       No hearth to warm my feet at;

With growing years the more I roam;

       ’Tis sure enough to greet at.

Yet did I once more make my choice,

       Despite my bitter sneering,

Methinks I’d give a willing voice

       To Mining Engineering!

J. C. Murray

~

APPLIED GEOLOGY

Once had I quite a decent segregation

Of current coin for pleasant contemplation.

It was a source of honest joy for me,

A very enviable toy for me.

In time reactions slow, but also certain,

(As sure as moths performing in a curtain)

Set in. To my unbounded perturbation

I saw the cause—it was dissemination!

Enrichment (secondary) was my need,

My need enhanced by normal human greed.

So I forswore the complex fundamental,

And turned to oil promotions transcendental. [page 174]

I learned petroleum patter—on my soul—

Until I sounded like a fumarole.

I prospered for a little while until

There came intrusion—call it what you will—

And contact metamorphic with the law,

Which superposed upon my fault its paw;

And treatment meted me was sure Satanic,

Plutonic I should call it, or vulcanic.

It left me highly altered, changed, and weathered:

Where I was “float”, I’m now “in situ”, tethered.

J. C. Murray

~

DR. CHARLES CAMSELL

An Anonymous Tribute

One of the Northland’s scions,

Up where the men come forth;

Gentlemen of the Aurora,

Nobles of the Silent North.

Stock of the old prospectors,

Pioneers toward the Pole.

Eyes with vision of snowfields;

Quiet and strong the soul.

Touched by the great Aurora;

Fired by its gleaming flash,

Energized by its magnetics,

Dynamised by its clash.

Out in the midnight sunland,

Days of the sunshine’s glow;

Built in the very fibre

Reflected back from the snow.

Out in the velvet darkness

With the jewels of God above,

Crowning the soul’s high purpose

With the touch of a deeper love. [page 175]

Love for the wilds and northland,

For the gleam of ice and snow,

For the Arctic flowers and tundra,

The Northern Lights’ rich glow.

We salute you, Man of Mackenzie,

Son of the great Northwest,

Prince of the Arctic Circle,

One of their very best.

Anonymous

~

JIM GARDNER

Some claimed he was a prospector;

Others that he was merely a promoter;

As for me, I am inclined to give him

The benefit of the doubt—

Because I know he died broke!

George E. Winkler

~

TO DOCTOR GEORGE

Gray and ghostly alder thickets flame to crimson at the tips

Where a sun that has some heart in’t through the waking forest slips.

High above us, on Mount Sicker, I can hear the blue grouse hoot—

Birds are calling, rivers glitter, buds are bursting, grasses shoot.

On the pine stump by our shanty, Dawson’s tattered map lies spread,

And my partner with his finger marks the footsteps of the dead.

“Spring”, he says, “mate! time to quit it, for the barren lands and hoar

Where the earth’s heart freezes solid and the mighty bull moose roar;

“Where through endless silent spaces reckless bands of hardfists plod

By this map and by the compass to the gold they make their god”.

With a laughing curse for danger if across the Arctic Slope

Lead the two our fellows follow, he who made this here, and Hope—

Hope who fools them, whom they follow hearkn’ing to her spring-call yet, [page 176]

And the Doctor on whose say-so lives like theirs are lightly set.

Down the Dease and lonely Liard, northward from the grim Stickline,

There’s a way for such as they be where the little Doctor’s been,

Who made nothing of his learning. Lord! the things he didn’t know,

Would assay no more than mica, are not worth their weight in snow!

Still I think if they’d have let him, he’d have quit the noise and fuss

Of their scientists and cities to chuck in his lot with us,

For he’d crept so close to Nature, he could hear the Big Things speak,

Hear the hymn of Arctic midnights, of the stars about the peak.

Aye, and yet he loved his workmates, took the hardfist’s heart for wage,

While his tired feet wrote his record on the northland’s newest page.

And although the trails ain’t charted away up where he has gone

I should guess it’s even betting he won’t travel far alone,

But that One as knows will meet him, One he served will act as Guide

To the camp of honest workers, men as never shirked or lied;

And we’d like to put on record if so be mere miners can

That in lands which try men hardest, Doc. was tried and proved a man!

Clive Phillipps-Wolley

~

THE LONG LOST CHARLIE ROSS

Lives there a man named Charlie Ross?

Or is he a spirit gone

To a nameless river none may cross

And lone as the Arctic zone—

’Tis said that the Long Lost’s soul found woe

In the tents of the Iroquois—

Beneath the wrath of the Windigo

Strange, savage things he saw.

He goes on a chase who seeks old Ross—

For the Labrador is bare,

And the Barren Lands grow only moss,

And the stars have an icy glare. [page 177]

Track to a snowshoe trimmed by square,

Tough as a caribou’s hide,

But his trail is frail as the feathery paws

Of snow on a James Bay tide.

His canoe’s as light as a leaf that falls,

And swift as a nighthawk bird.

And ever he roams where no moose calls

Out where the caribou herd.

Ah, not by the banks of Mattagami,

But on past the Heights of Land,

Far by the gloom of the Chikobi,

Out where the gods command.

Out! Out! Forever out from man,

Beyond where no Indian broods,

Out where never a life began

In the grim and tortured woods.

And old and odd as the withered breast

Of the old squaw Kiekkiokos,

Is the heart of the man who would seek rest—

The Long Lost Charlie Ross.

Alpine MacGregor

~

THIS LIFE

     “Until such time, however, as ore deposits are first found and then blocked out, our mining future is very uncertain.”–C.M. Campbell.

                   Now C.M. Campbell’s doctrine, fell and final,

                   Removes the gimp from out our column spinal.

* * *

                   The merchant, seeking credit, now must show

                   The hostile banker, whom he does much owe,

                   The blocked out profits of the coming year—

                   Else close his business with a final tear.

                   The author, doubtful of his skill, must get

                   His audience before his pen is wet.

                   The labourer, whom efforts ever irk,

                   Must get his pay before he goes to work. [page 178]

                   And what shall happen mining when, alas,

                   Life’s vagrom whims are recognized en masse?

                   Shall gloom and doubt make ours a bitter portion,

                   Convert prospecting into an abortion,

                   Turn mining to a foolish, vain employment,

                   And sour the morrow’s hope of new enjoyment?

                   Nay, gloom and doubt were made to be surmounted.

                   The future was designed to be discounted!

                           So let us Corlessly and sanely gamble

                           With Faith as guide—not Jeremiah Campbell!

J. C. Murray

~

ALLEGORY

As play the silly gusts of wind

        Upon the water’s face,

So plays upon the liquid mind

        Of all this human race

The gusty passion of the North—

        The stark desire for gold.

And thus, and so, we hasten forth

        From our domestic fold.

For we are very sheep, we are;

        There’s wool upon our back.

And when that we have travelled far,

        It burns from white to black.

* * *

By Issachar and by his brother Dan,

This is obscure enough for any man!

J. C. Murray

~

THE LYE DIRECT

     (That epileptic fits can be simulated by the simple expedient of masticating a little soap, is a matter of common knowledge. In the painful episode hereunder narrated, without colour, the chief actor involuntarily gave a practical demonstration of the efficacy of soap in this respect.) [page 179]

Out in a Western mining camp

The shift-boss gets an awful cramp.

He hustles to the cookhouse, where

He starts right in to cuss and swear.

He asks the cook for something hot;

The cookee grabs a great big pot,

And ladles out a cup of stuff

That looks like it was strong enough.

The shift-boss swallows it right off,

And then begins to gag and cough;

And then he yells for drinking water,

His eye plumb full of blood and slaughter.

The second he takes the water in

His serious troubles sure begin:

For bubbles, large and small, by Jim!

Starts rippin’, rushin’, out of him.

Bubbles as big as footballs came,

They’s others will confirm the same.

It takes about an hour or so

Before them bubbles cease to blow.

* * *

It turns out, after some enquiry,

(In which the shift-boss acts some fiery),

That cookee has mistook his dope—

He’s served the shift-boss hot soft soap.

J. C. Murray

~

TENDERFEET

Twilight was dying into dusk, The moon,

New risen, gave promise of rich radiance soon

To silver stream and forest and high hills,

Where barren boulders posed as sentinels.

The loon, unseen, poured out his harsh refrain—

Harsh, yet harmonious in its dying strain.

A mystic glamour brooded o’er the scene;

All was precisely as it should have been,

Pipes lit, meal done, and flies not too malicious—

But no one volunteered to wash the dishes!

Anonymous

[page 180]

TO THE LUSTY LEGUME

I sing the bean, the lowly, wholly Bean!

Not the emasculated legumine

One sees in cities on pantry shelf,

But that whose virtue speaks for its own self.

O, Blessed Bean! How often have I ate

Whole plates of Thee, my hunger to abate!

And thou abatedst it, Thou didst indeed,

Thou ever over-satisfying feed!

How oft have I devoured Thee, piping hot,

From out deep beds of ashes, in a pot

That had been buried there the live long night!

That, that’s the way you taste exactly right!

And I have had you bitter, bitter cold,

When boreal breezes blew o’er weald and wold.

In fact, although your qualities are such,

I’ve had you, Bean, a trifle too darn much!

J. C. Murray

~

BEAUTY IN MINERALS

The fern-like tracery of pyrolusite

Upon the old red sandstone, brought to light

By hammer blows upon the solid stone,

Can cause geologists as much delight

       As any tree or shrub or flower they own.

The golden colouring of orpiment,

Reflected rays from rhodochrosite, sent

Scintillating through clean, crystal air,

Can give the souls of some as great content

       As any mountain scene—however fair.

The brilliant green effect on willemite;

The rich rose tint to pure snow-white calcite,

To those who see it in the dark of day

Produced under the ultra violet ray,

       Is cause for joy, rising to a great height.

F. H. M.

[page 181]

DAWN—THE METAMORPHASIS

From out warm blankets, in the heartless dawn,

Without the vaguest chance to stretch or yawn,

Wet socks and boots, and fingers numb with frost,

Your feelings raw, your temper nearly lost—

Lo! at his fire the heaven-sent cook performs,

And in a trice a cup of coffee warms

Your gelid vitals—Lord, but that was good!

Your grouch evaporated while you stood

With outstretched hand, and eagerly did wait

The heaped up riches of your breakfast plate.

Breakfast absorbed, (your slightly loosened belt

Proved it had tasted well as it had smelt),

You saw the dawn, no longer chill and gray,

A golden promise of a glorious day.

J. C. Murray

~

PROLEPSIS

Where the Pacific laves Columbia’s strand,

(And more than laves when it gets out of hand)

There, on the fifteenth instant, hand-picked brains,

A precious freight, brought in by many trains,

Forgather at Vancouver. Wide, O! wide

The range of talent that will there provide

The feast of reason and the flow of wit.

Cloud-piercing Spike will surely make a hit;

Wilson, the Archimandrite, (than whom none

Is fonder in a quiet way of fun)

Will fill the chair with grace and with aplomb,

Enforcing discipline as with a bomb.

Kirkpatrick, Brewer, Guernsey, Leckies twain,

Will see to it that things proceed amain.

There’ll be no lack of stimulating thought—a;

Tricks from the Bible will be played with watah!

I have no smallest doubt that rank sedition

Will be the rule respecting prohibition.

And now, as ever, when the curtains fall,

The Meeting will be voted best of all! [page 182]

One thing I ask—before the Meeting closes—

It is that some one rises and proposes

The silent health of those who, now departed,

Courageous, cheerful, ever open-hearted,

Kept the lamp burning through the anxious years;

Cherished their faith and straight forgot their fears!

J. C. Murray

~

EPANALEPSIS

From where Atlantic roars with sullen surge,

There came Odell, sent hither by the urge

Of travel. On his train he brought

Leaders in the domain of mining thought—

Camsell and Wallace; Allen; Whiteside too,

And Burrows, Shanks and Richards, all to do

Their utmost at Vancouver to make clear

The value of these meetings once a year.

McLeish and Haanel came and many more—

Representation right from shore to shore.

As was predicted, Wilson too was here,

Philosophizing in his way sincere

On many things. And two at least

By watches know his bounty at the feast.

Not only from our eastern marches wide

Did members come, but also from outside

Our land. Rickard laid down the laws

Of journalism amid much applause;

And L. K. Armstrong with his silver tongue

Describing the peaceful boundary so far flung.

But one was absent. One we did not see

Stalking the corridors. And fain would we

Have had him in our midst—cloud-piercing Spike,

If only at his policies to strike!

* * *

’Tis over. This Fourth Meeting in the west

Undoubtedly has been the very best

Of all yet held. And from Vancouver’s isle

To far Cape Breton here convened the while

Men who brought freely to the Council board

Their store of knowledge, and disdained to hoard

It from their fellows. May the fashion be

Always thus in our mining industry!

Caber Feidh

[page 183]

ANNUAL MEETINGS

Time was when, from the East and West,

    We gathered near the Ides of March

        And did our utter, eager best

            To see that no one felt a parch.

Years pass and jealous tempus flies;

    Manners and morals suffer change;

        Man may improve, but pleasure dies

            If Puritans can so arrange.

* * *

Thus thinking, I adjourned to Hull

     And there acquired a quart of Mull.

Anonymous

     The Fourth Annual General Western Meeting of the Canadian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy—1922.

~

THE SWALLOW AND THE LARK

A Medley

Dedicated to the Annual Meeting of the C. I. M. M.

                     I merely wish to make a lone remark—

                     The swallow oft precedes the lightsome lark.

* * *

                     O! Trembling Acolytes at Bacchus’ Shrine!

                     O! Wistful yearners for the grape divine!

                     How fared ye in the city Methodistic?

                     How gratified ye surgings atavistic?

                     Was there a chance your dryness to assuage?

                     Or did the meetings all your time engage?

                     Did any of your desiccated throttles

                     Burn with the booze that fills illicit bottles?

* * *

                     Well, if you think I’ll answer this crude query,

                     You quite forget that life has made me leery,

                     Still, maugre bigots’ blight and O. T. A.,

                     And maugre what un-Christian critics say,

                     It is our high, inalienable right [page 184]

                     To plant the seeds of suffering by night.

                     The coated tongue, the throbbing brow are ours,

                     Spite temp’rance tyrants, prohibition powers.

                     Keen matutinal penalties and pain

                     Are ours to have, to hold, and to retain.

* * *

                     I merely wish to make a last remark,—

                     The swallow yet precedes the lightsome lark.

J. C. Murray

~

WELCOME THE A.I.M.M.E. (1923)

From yon Republic, strong, and wide, and free,

The very home of human liberty,—

Where reigns without a mitigant condition

The most uncompromising prohibition—

We welcome you as leaders, wide of brow,

Whose mission is to show us why and how.

Ambassadors of Progress, we embrace ye!

We know that virtue and true knowledge grace ye;

That erudition is your middle name,

And your repute a synonym for fame.

Whether in Montreal or South Lorrain,

Whether on steamer or a board the train,

We ask you to consider all your own,

To make your needs of any nature known.

(A hint, a word, the thoughtful host suffices—

Folk cannot live on soda or on ices).

J. C. Murray

   The Fourth Annual General Western Meeting of the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy—1922.

~

THE MINES OF MIGHT-HAVE-BEEN

Throughout the wilds escorting, east and west,

The province march of Canada’s domain—

In forest reach and barren’s rocky breast,

By lonely lake and winding water lane—

Shrouded anon in white and green,

Linger the mines of might-have-been. [page 185]

Here, man’s withdrawal ushers in decay,

And rotting timbers, rusted bar and drill,

Or shaft and pithole lined with lichens gray

Mark where destruction slowly works its will—

All ruin’s acolytes convene

Around these mines of might-have-been.

What flight of human fancy here is prone!

What happy dreams of ease and opulence

Lie murdered under heaps of shattered stone

Or muted in some chasm’s reticence!

What wealth of confidence serene

Was wrecked in mines of might-have been!

No, flung their freehold to the roving fox,

Their buildings to the bats that nest in them;

The hoot-howl nightly their declension mocks

And wailing loons intone their requiem—

A pall of splendor never seen

O’erhangs the mines of might-have-been.

Yet, hope dies hard and swift is born again,

Such precincts still some loyal soul may prize—

And who shall venture that his faith be vain!

The whims of nature oft confound the wise:

A single foot of stone may screen

True worth in mine that might-have-been.

Graham Harris

~

REQUIEM

And the strong man wept, wept sore,

As he gazed upon the floor;

And his tongue was mute and tied,

He exuded shattered pride.

But at length his speech returned,

Whilst his eyes with anger burned;

And he said, with gesture fistic—

“Do you call this job artistic?

“This prospectus is a frost;

“Fifty bucks is all it cost;

“This will put us on the blink!

“What will other people think?” [page 186]

So from a treasury, wasted and depleted,

They got a grand super-prospectus completed.

(You MAY think it odd, or you MAY think it not,

But that’s everything that the shareholders got.)

J. C. Murray

~

TO AN IMAGINATIVE ACQUAINTANCE

So you say, “The man’s in clover, he has opened up a mine!”—

And you picture him won over to a life of cakes and wine;

You conceive of dwellings garnished with luxuriance and ease,

And of banquettings untarnished by a “sword of Damocles.”

Fool! you take the harvest tally and the reaping never score;

You behold the fertile valley, but its sterile slopes ignore;

You have marked the brimming measure as it runs its outward course,

Did your eye retrace the treasure to its ever-shrinking source?

Fleece anew will robe the wether that the shearing blades have bared,

And the ostrich stripped of feather knows its nakedness repaired;

To the farm-land lying fallow will a crop be born again,

And the stream in summer shallow will re-flood with autumn rain—

But the grain primeval, sleeping in the fastness of the rock,

Gathers not for second reaping when its garners once unlock;

For the secret of the sowing that was silver is untold,

And an age of our unknowing guards the genesis of gold.

Reckon not that earth is kinder to the spoilers of her veins

Than to those whose pathways wind her in the quest of other gains—

Of ten thousand who in season seek the ore’s elusive sign,

Ten, perchance, will bare a reason for the delving of a mine!

Of five hundred costly trials where the omens augur best,

Five will scarce, past all denial, stamp approval of the test!

Hearken then, oh dull diviner, and thy misconceptions mend:

Wealth, to veritable miner, is nor goal nor journey’s-end,

He is led by lodestone stronger than the lure of common greed,

And he labors but the longer is unloosed from halting need.

Further, know that mines ask making ere they render up their store—

From the sampling and the staking to the ’fining of the ore—

And withal, thy visioned profit is more like to prove a loss,

For, I swear to thee by Tophet, gold is scantier than dross!

Graham Harris

[page 187]

THE “HIGH-FALUTIN’ PROSPECTOR” FINDS RADIUM

A wonderful strike, to us he claimed,

He made in the distant “Saw-Tooth Range”—

Near the “Seven Devils”—justly famed;

But his story sounded a trifle strange.

With mind in a circumstantial mood—

With neck in a confidential bend—

He told of finding a five-foot lode

Of radium ore—a black pitchblende.

The rocks—geologically right—

Ranged from the old Archaean up

To a Miocene lava, fresh and bright,

In a crater shaped like a cup.

Volcanic action had shown its might

On the grey Carboniferous limes,

In which he discovered a trilobite

Unknown during Permian times.

We still had a chance to “get in right”;

An “extension” was still to be had:

He’d start on the trail that very night—

But we feared we might “get in bad”!

We offered instead to furnish a train

Of cayuses to pack out some ore—

With radium selling at thousands a grain,

One trip would be plenty, we swore.

Then he gazed at us and his eyes grew sad,

And he said in that gentle way he had:

It’s too far back and it’s too high up,

An AEROPLANE would not do;

It would sure get lost in the thick grey fogs,

No matter how high it flew.

A fellow would have to train some birds,

Like ravens or hawks or seagulls—

Or better than all perhaps would be

A pack-train of bald-headed eagles”.

George E. Winkler

[page 188]

“DER TRAUM”

I never was a mining guy,

Who chased elusive gold.

That might be the reason why

This story must be told.

Along the trail with measured tread

I plot my weary way,

Thinking of my feather bed

In the city far away.

Down along by Dead Man Creek

To the head of Phantom Lake;

My heart is heavy, knees get weak.

My legs begin to quake,

For I had heard bloodcurdling tales

Of creatures past all ken:

Why, even now I hear the wails

Of poor unfortunate men.

The clouds hang low in the darkening night.

I dare not stop for rest,

For fear some prowling Pyrhotite

Might grab me in its quest.

A vivid flash illumes the sky.

The furies burst in wrath.

I clutch my fainting heart: I cry,

For there right in my path

A White Quartz Stringer rears his head,

And stares me in the eyes,

While at his side, but lifeless, dead,

A Mottled Gabbro lies.

I double back, but all in vain,

For now they’re all around,

Each flash of lightning shows so plain

Their bodies on the ground

Batholiths and Pegmatites,

And Breecias white and grey;

Pyroxenes and Marcasites:

Oh, God! Away, away! [page 189]

But still they come from every side,

Basalt and Diabase,

Chalcedony and Arsenide,

And leering Plagioclase.

A ghostly Albite hovers o’er

A slithering Serpentine;

A grizzly Granite, seeking gore,

O’erwhelms an Olivine.

I sink. Oh, God, I’ll never rise

From the Diatomaceous Earth.

To the shrieking heavens I raise my eyes

And curse my ill timed birth.

Then, when I think my end is near,

And my body must be dead,

I open my eyes with feelings queer,

Safe in my feather bed.

A text book open by my side,

A book on rocks and ore,

But this, my friends, I will confide—

I’ll read that book NO MORE.

W. B. Paton

~

METALLURGICAL MONSTERS

Have you ever gone to the far Flin Flon,

Way North of ’54?

Where the blizzards blow; where the glass is low;

And the CHALCOPYRITES soar

’Mong the SULFUR MISTS, and the giant SCHISTS

Are seeking blood and gore.

There at night, ’neath the north star’s light,

The deadly CALCINES prowl;

And if you sit near the Open Pit

You will hear the MARIONS growl,

As they seal the fates of DISSEMINATES,

And tear them cheek from jowl. [page 190]

You must beware, ’mid the SMELTER’s glare,

Of the monsters all around,

Or the fiery MATTE will knock you flat

And devour you on the ground;

Or your legs may sag when you see the SLAG

Come at you with a bound.

ELECTROLYTIC AGENTS

May book you for a ride

If you wander near the Tankhouse drear,

For that is where they hide.

And in that hell the ANODES dwell,

With BUS-BARS everywhere.

At their dance of death you’ll hold your breath,

Then leap and clutch the air.

There are MARCASITES and SPHALARITES,

And GOSSANS, so they say;

And travellers tell there are SEAMS as well,

That have never yet seen day.

So now, my friend, if your steps should trend

Away up towards that land,

Make SAFETY FIRST your slogan,

And with CARE go hand in hand.

W. B. Paton

~

THE FLESH POTS

Now this here question’s up to you—

What can a bleedin’ feller do?

A feller that has made a strike,

A feller that the boys all like?

Start mixin’ up with social stuff,

And treatin’ all the old gang rough?

Well, pardner, none of that for mine;

I’m still goin’ to FEED, not dine.

I’m goin’ to stick to draw and stud,

And not this bridge they play for blood.

I’ll play the races now and then.

(I’ve got a cheque-book and a pen.)

I’ll get me one plain motor car, [page 191]

But I won’t travel fast or far.

A decent soot of rooms I’ll get,

Where I’ll have shelter from the wet.

I’ll go to the the-ay-ter too,

As often as I want to do.

In fact, as far as I can tell,

I’ll live just average good and well.

I won’t put on no dog or crust,

BUT—once a year I’ll have a bust;

A good old-fashioned souse like what

I had before I made my pot.

Once in a while I want to wear

A shirt that’s needin’ soap for fair.

I want to eat some chewin’ plug,

And drink hard likker from a jug.

I want to let my chin grow stubble,

And seep around, and look for trouble.

* * *

By cripes! this sounds so good to me

I’ll telephone the doctor—see?

J. C. Murray

~

HAVE YOU?

Have you ever had a partner in the bush or in the town?

       Have you ever had a pal that seen you through?

A bird that stuck right by you when you certainly was down,

       And wouldn’t let you shake him—just hung to you like glue?

He might touch you for a ten-spot; he might swipe your smoking plug;

       He might bone you for the last you had to chew;

But he’d do his share of totin’ with a cheerful, smilin’ mug—

       On a trip or in a trouble—why, the guy would see you through!

Well, I’ve found them just so often in the bush and in the mine,

       From Thetford west to Rossland in the land I’ve laboured through;

But I’ve never yet found any with a sense of “mine” and “thine”!

       Now although I hate to ask you—just inform me, sir, have you?

J. C. Murray

[page 192]

NIGHT WATCH

I rolled me in my blankets snug and tight,

And settled down all fixed to sleep all night.

My pardner was a fat chap from the East,

Who didn’t know my habits in the least.

I hadn’t been asleep an hour, no more,

When that there feller started for to snore!

Say, I have heard some snoring in my time,

But what he did was just one jeesly crime!

He trumpeted and gurgled like a whale,

And then he’d choke—I thought his heart would fail;

And then he’d start again, the same damned toon:

I’d rather have a kyoot or a loon!

While he was bubblin’ there like merry hell,

I woulda killed him had I knew him well.

I woulda made him go outside and die,

And stop his bloody noise and let me lie.

But as he was a stranger all I did

Was lie awake and never bat a lid.

J. C. Murray

~

AD AGRICOLAM

Let us go said the farmer, and talk to our folk,

And get them to help us to throw off the yoke

Of the cities, the banks, and the people who don’t

Produce a damned thing; though they might; but they won’t.

And he went, and he won in a kind of a way,

And he found it quite diff’rent from getting in hay;

For the touch and the taste of prestige once possessed

O’ercame him, and made him a person obsessed.

He forgot that some other hard workers exist,

And that not everybody in town may insist

That he (maybe she) is the only producer.

(You are bound to be errant, if that’s what you do, sir!)

So we ask in our prayers for a natural thing;

(And that’s the whole reason my Muse makes me sing).

We ask, and we really can’t ask for aught finer,

That the farmer will treat as an equal the miner.

Anonymous

[page 193]

“ST. SIMEON STYLITES”

I loaned me rifle to a guy:

       He said he’d treat it well—

I took it back a week ago

       Just rusted plumb to hell.

A feller blew into a shack

       And ast me for me axe;

He bust his own and wanted mine

       To split his firewood stacks.

I never seen that axe again,

       It was a good one too;

But when you’re lendin’ that’s the way

       It always ends for you.

I loaned a man me name acrosst

       A promissory note.

The man fell down; I lost me name;

       The banker grabbed me goat.

I’ll never lend the loan of naught,

       And I’ll not borry neither;

I’ll be the only bird on earth

       That damn well don’t do either.

J. C. Murray

~

THE ANCHORITE

Give me the morning in winter when snow lies

       Light as a mist on the crust underneath;

Free as a raucous-voiced wandering crow flies,

       Leave me to wander o’er hill and o’er heath.

Give me the evening, calm, wondrously jewelled,

      Winter’s deft wizardry decking the land;

Give me a cabin, well chinked and well fuelled,

       Books—and what more can a mortal demand?

Someone responds, in a manner satiric,

       Plainly desiring to give me a rub,

That, in evolving this passionate lyric,

       Somehow I’ve left out all mention of grub!

J. C. Murray

[page 194]

THE TALE OF THE MOVEABLE MINE

Said Jiggeroo Jones to Hoodlum Smith,

“Ever hear of the moveable mine?”

And Hoodlum, wise as a treeful of owls,

Answered, “Way back in ninety-nine”.

But I was a stranger, and ready for yarns,

So I asked him to tell us the tale;

And Jiggeroo called for the three-star brand—

And the “bartend” rang up a sale.

After I’d paid for the warming up

Of Jiggeroo’s organs of speech,

He settled down to the job in hand

Like a parson hired to preach.

“I ain’t no yaller-legged expert”, he said,

“But I savy some things about ore.

I’ve mined in the Slocan, and Rossland too,

And been in camps by the score:

Up in the Yukon: at Atlin Lake;

And down in Similkameen;

There ain’t many places ’tween Rockies and sea,

That Jiggeroo Jones hasn’t seen.

I took in the boom at Poplar Creek;

Was up on the Bridge River too,

And found good rock on Cadwallader Creek,

But the camp went dead—so I flew.

I made for the coast when the move was on,

And mosied around for a while

At Howe Sound, Quatsino, Mount Sicker,

And over on Texanda Isle.

From there I went to Portland Canal

When the Bitter Creek rush was on,

And prospected up near the glaciers,

Till my money and grub was gone.

“A prospector’s paradise”, someone has called

This province of forests and rocks;

But I often thought ’twas a prospector’s hell,

When I’d had some extra hard knocks. [page 195]

I finally tired of the hills and the grub,

So I looked for a pleasanter land,

Where God hadn’t piled the rocks all on end,

And loaded the valleys with sand.

Just about then I met Mexican Tom,

And Mexican: “Hark ye!”

I’ve the finest ranch that lays out the doors,

On the shores of the Hecate sea.

The clams over there are the biggest on earth,

And as sweet as a nectarine,

While the geese and ducks just flock around—

The fattest that ever you seen.

The salmon run up the streams so thick

They crowd out onto the land,

And the Haida braves have grown so tame

They feed right out of your hand.”

Well I guess that sounded real good to me,

So I packed up, you can bet,

And loaded my forty years’ gatherin’s,

Aboard of the Henriette.

I hadn’t much baggage to put aboard,

In fact ’twas all in one sack

Except a gun, a pick and an axe,

That wouldn’t fit into the pack.

We started that night, and the next day out

We poked into Dixon’s strait,

Where we rammed right into a wicked storm

That threatened to seal our fate.

The way those seas piled over the boat,

Made her stagger and lurch and reel,

Till I wished I was back on the claims again,

Poundin’ the head of a steel.

The water just riz in a big green bank,

Like a mountain of malykite,

And you never seen such a sickly man

As me—for a day and a night.

I wished that the damned old tub would sink

And the fishes feed on the crew;

I cursed and swore—and I nearly prayed,

For I figured my hours were few. [page 196]

But all of a sudden the wind slacked up,

And swung from southeast to west,

And the captain wore a more cheerful look

That seemed to encourage the rest.

I perked up some and began to take

A little nourishment then,

But felt no interest in things around—

’Specially my fellowmen.

I mosied out feeling grouchy and blue,

And wandered up on the deck,

And I saw Rose Spit a-loomin’ up

Out of the west like a speck.

As I was gazin’ and wishin’ the boat

Could double its speed at least,

And get us cross the churned-up sea—

White as a bowlful of yeast—

There hove in sight, from the cabin door

(Lookin’ as pale as a ghost)

A genuine “Aw theah” Englishman—

The kind I detest the most.

I took no notice and thought he’d pass,

As the older stagers do.

(You have to make up to an old dog,

But a pup makes friends with you!)

I looked as mean as a porcupine—

You could see my quills all stand,

When that new-imported Britisher

Decided to shake my hand.

Said he had seen me before somewheres—

Which was all in his “bloomin’ eye”;

Then reachin’ into his pocket, he

Discovered a flask of rye.

Well fellows, it’s strange aboard a ship

What funny friends you will find.

(Now Hoodlum, cut your grinnin’ out;

I know what’s in YOUR mind!)

We finished that flask in no great time,

And before an hour was o’er,

That Cockney told me all that he knew—

And maybe a good deal more. [page 197]

His folks had hit the toboggan slide

Financially, it appeared

Then paystreak pinchin’ and peterin’ out,

Till the brink of ruin reared.

They scraped a hundred pounds from the wreck,

And sent “’Arry” out to B. C.

With orders to make three thousand pounds

In just two years do you see.

And “’Arry” wanted my best advice

On how the trick could be turned:

I told him he had me up a tree—

’Twas a trick I hadn’t learned.

He seemed to think it was not so hard

In a land of gold like this,

So I didn’t feel like tellin’ him

How many I’d known to miss,

After a constant struggle for years,—

Hopes deferred and hearts grown sick,

One and another had quit the game,—

Bill and Tom and Jim and Dick.

They weren’t no pikers either, you bet,

In the risky minin’ game;

But they all had fell by the wayside,

And I felt he’d do the same.

We went below to his room at last,

Where I fairly feared for my life,

When I found that youngster was wearin’

Two guns and a bowie knife.

But when he explained he had purchased

His weapons on leavin’ town

To protect himself from the Indians,

I laughed till I near fell down.

He stood my chaff without getting’ sore—

And smiled when I gave him a rub;

So when he fished out another flask,

I cottoned right to that cub.

He prattled about his hopes and plans,

As the booze went to his head;

Till he got so spiflicated

He couldn’t sit on the bed. [page 198]

I left him there to dream of the gold—

In DREAMS you will often find

Veins that are rich in the yellow stuff—

Richer than ever was mined.

I toddled up to my virtuous couch

With more of a roll than the sea

Quite warranted; and a limpness

Where my spinal column should be.

Along about six in the mornin’

I felt that old boat go THUMP

Against somethin’ that stopped her sudden,

And set the fixin’s ajump.

I hurriedly covered my lower limbs,

And made for the deck on the run

To see what the Henriette had struck

And if any damage was done.

I found the storm had shifted the buoy

That warned boats off of the Spit,

And the tub had rammed her nose in the sand,

And there she would have to sit

Till the tide came and floated her off,

Which wouldn’t be until noon;

The captain swore in a broken Dutch—

Lookin’ scared as a hunted coon.

Lucky for us the wind had dropped

And the sea was gettin’ calm;

The land was only a mile away,

So I soon devised a plan

To make my getaway from the ship—

And with some aid from the crew

The captain agreed to put me ashore—

But “’Arry” was bound to go too.

I hadn’t the heart to leave the kid,

So we piled him into the boat,

Though after I’d got him on my hands,

I cursed myself for a goat.

They had some trouble in landin’ us,

Because of the long flat beach

That kept the dory from gettin’ close;

So we waded for it, each [page 199]

With a good stiff load of junk on his back—

And as “’Arry” had more than I,

I managed to handle part of his truck,

And get it ashore for him dry.

Say friends, talk about summer resorts,

And high-class waterin’ places;

Why that eastern coast of Graham Isle

Is like a hand with four aces.

Long sandy beaches!—well I should say!

Stretchin’ THIRTY MILES OR MORE;

A hundred yards wide when the tide’s at ebb!

Say boys, there’s class to that shore!

You could race twenty automobiles abreast

And not crowd into the sea;

And the waters seem to fondle the beach

Caressin’ as they can be.

The sand is just as smooth and hard,

(Where the little wavelet curls)

As the heart of a captain of industry,

That’s makin’ his pile sweatin’ girls.

The island looked flat as a bannock

That hadn’t got enough heat—

Flat as a squirr’l I once found neath a tree,

That’d pestered a cougar’s sleep.

After some years of mountain scenes

Of an extry savage brand,

The island looked mighty good to me,

As you can well understand.

It offered a softly pleasin’ view,

Such as an old lady’s face

That has all her lifetime been well loved—

It shines with an inward grace

So kindly and all-inclusive like,

Your thirst is spoiled by a whim,

And you walk right past the bar for a week,

Hummin’ an old-fashioned hymn.

“’Arry” and I adjustin’ our packs,

Started our forty mile tramp,

Headin’ south for the River Tel-el,

Where Mexican Tom had his camp. [page 200]

The goin’ was certainly scrumptious

Over that tightly packed sand;

But I loafed along pretty easy,

At a pace that “’Arry” could stand.

As the tide came in it drove us up

Near to the high-water mark,

And as the hikin’ was poorer there,

We camped long ’fore it was dark.

I started to break the youngster in—

Teachin’ him how to make camp.

(And here I am bound to acknowledge

I found him a teachable scamp.)

I showed him how to mix water with flour,

And turn out a bannock brown;

And how to fashion a bed of boughs,

That was nearly as soft as down.

Except for “no see ’ems” on graveyard shift,

We wasn’t disturbed in the night,

And when he broke camp in the mornin’

The sun was a-shinin’ bright.

We rolled up all our household “defects”

And hoisted ’em on our backs,

And settin’ our faces towards the south,

We commenced to makin’ tracks.

Thinkin’ of Longfeller’s “Psalm of Life”,

(Which is certainly high-grade rhyme)

And comparin’ the tracks I was makin’

To “prints in the sands of time”,

I suddenly noticed under my feet—

Compellin’ my pace to slack—

That the sand below and around me

Was most infernally black.

“’Arry” was trailin’ along behind,

A-sweatin’ to beat the band;

So stoppin’ to fix the lace of my boot,

I scooped a handful of sand.

The patch covered all of an acre,

And was four or five inches deep,

And a little stream came in quite close,

That would help one mine it cheap, [page 201]

We managed to get to Cape Ball that night—

Though “’Arry” was getting’ weak—

And crossin’ the Cape Ball River, we

Encamped on a little creek.

After we’d gotten outside of some grub,

I wandered off up the stream,

Leavin’ poor “’Arry” weary and sore,

To rest by the camp-fire’s gleam.

Alone, at a little pool on the creek,

I brought out a small horn spoon,

And perceeded to wash that pinch of dirt

By the light of the silvery moon.

I didn’t need sunlight to see the gold

That hung behind the black sand;

It was surely the richest sample,

That Jiggeroo ever had panned!

Well boys, I could hardly sleep that night,

But when I did get a nap,

I dreamt I had dust enough to back

Old Midas clean off the map.

I dreamt that I lugged out fifty pounds

Of gold to a town down the coast;

And hunted up old acquaintances—

A hungry and thirsty host.

Like prime good fellows, fond of our glass,

We painted that town down south;

And the dream was so real that I woke up

With a dark brown taste in my mouth.

I slipped out of bed ’bout four o’clock,

While “’Arry”, in blankets curled,

Was busy “sleepin’ the sleep of the just”;

In other words, “dead to the world”.

I left a note sayin’: “Back tonight;

Don’t worry, but rest your bones—

Just bake up an extry bannock or two,

And oblige yours truly, Jones”.

I took the axe and compass along,

And a hard tack for my lunch—

Travellin’ light, and travellin’ fast—

As one SHOULD follow a hunch. [page 202]

Along about ten I reached the spot,

And findin’ some suitable stakes,

I squared and smoothed em’ and wrote thereon,—

Bein’ careful to make no mistakes.

I never pose as an ALL-truist,

When it comes to stakin’ claims,

And prospector’s stickin’ in golden rule posts,

DESERVE to be called hard names—

So plantin’ MY posts on the blackest sand,

That I knew was sure to carry

A good percent of the yellow stuff,

I looked up ground for “’Arry”.

I noticed near the mouth of the creek

A nice little patch of dirt;

And thought it was wise to corral the stream,

Because we’d need it for cert.

So signin’ myself as his agent,

I wrote his name on a post,

Locatin’ the beach where the streamlet

Meandered out to the coast.

I hiked it back that afternoon,

My feet just steppin’ on air,

And my head-piece so elevated,

’Twas bumpin’ the clouds for fair.

I kept my secret when I reached the camp—

Inventin’ a few white lies—

Feelin’ that sand was too easy got at,

To chance puttin’ people wise.

For such riches lyin’ so close at hand,

If known to folks at Tel-el

Would bother ’em more than flesh could bear,

And some would say, “O hell!!”

“We’re goin’ after that golden dust;

And we’ll take it too because,

There ain’t nobody around these parts

To enforce your minin’ laws.

We guess old Nature had somethin’ to do

With stackin’ that gold up there,

And why should we let two chechakoes

Gobble more than their share?” [page 203]

’Tis easy to find what others will think,

If you will but follow the plan

Of takin’ a look in your own mind—

Which is that of the average man.

There’s only one way a secret to keep,

That’s safe as a granite wall:

Lock it right up in the back of your head

And keep it there TIGHT—that’s all.

We made to the River Tel-el that day:

But bein’ afraid to wait,

I borried a boat from Mexican Tom

And started for Skidegate.

When I got the claims recorded there,

I was easier in my mind,

And opened my features to “’Arry”

About my wonderful find.

Talk about bein’ tickled to death!

Say, that don’t describe his state;

He couldn’t talk about anythin’ else

From early morn till late.

When I spoke of getting’ grub and tools,

He dug right into his jeans

And loaded the boat with a good supply

Of bacon and flour and beans.

We started north again for Tel-el—

The sea lookin’ happy and calm

As a shellfish feels when the tide is high,

That is known to fame as the clam.

Along about noon a breeze crept up,

Comin’ from out the southeast,

And we hoisted sail and raced ahead,

Not feelin’ nervous the least,

Until I noticed some black clouds scud

Across the sky in our rear,

And thought I would hug the shore and see

If a landin’ place was near.

’Tis a dangerous coast for smallish craft,

For the storms come out so quick,

And harbours are few and far between—

So a sailor needs to be slick [page 204]

To keep from getting’ swamped and beached,

And losin’ his grub and boat—

Not to mention the usin’ of language

Which wouldn’t be fit to quote.

South and east from the Sandpit I looked,

Where the sea was gettin’ black,

(And the angry little white-caps showed)

And wished that I was back

In the shelter of Skidegate Harbor,

Where no southeaster could harm—

Where the timber cruisers foregathered,

And the stoppin’ house beds were warm.

We were beyond Lawn Hill a few miles,

When I spotted a sheltered cove,

And pointed it out to “’Arry”, who

Let go a relieved, “Bah Jove!”

We didn’t have ten minutes to spare,

And it seemed so far, with our load,

It reminded me of a certain point

That’s called, “Point-Pull-and-Be-Blowed”.

Fact is ’twas somethin’ less than a mile

We had to row to the shore,

But with a southeaster chasin’ us

It looked like TWO miles, or more.

Needless to say we rowed our best—

(Cuttin’ the speed limit fine)

But even with all our speedin’ up

We shipped some buckets of brine.

We landed safely, out of the wind,

And pullin’ our boat up high,

We carried all our chattels and goods

To where we could keep ‘em dry.

Back from the beach in the trees we found

An elegant place to camp—

Out of the ragin’ and roarin’ wind,

And out of the salt spray damp. [page 205]

We had to stay in that bay three days,

(Which we christened Southeast Harbor),

While the stormy sea, the shore-line lashed—

Makin’ more suds than a barber.

A clear little creek ran into the bay—

Bright-bottomed with mica sand—

And I found some boards washed up on the beach

To which I could turn my hand,

So gettin’ out the hammer and saw,

And a dozen or so of nails,

I rigged a sluice-box to show the boy

How to save the golden scales

Of the precious stuff that Nature hides

In a most provokin’ way—

Seldom puttin’ enough in one spot

To make the work for it pay.

At first “’Arry” thought the mica was gold,

It looked so yaller and bright—

(“Fool’s gold” is what some people call it,

And I guess the name is right.)

The wind died down very suddenly,

And the sun shone bright for a time;

I never saw weather could change so quick

As in that feminine clime.

As soon as the sea looked safe again,

We loaded our “dreadnaught” full,

And headin’ her out of the harbor,

Commenced on our northward pull.

The rowin’ at first blistered “’Arry’s” hands—

Then callouses were produced

By the arm-power way of propellin’ boats

To which he was interduced.

He seemed to thrive in the open air—

Gettin’ a nice coat of tan,

And in spite of his English accent,

Showed signs of becomin’ a man.

We camped that night on the great long spit

Between Tel-el and the sea,

On a grassy patch twixt stunted spruce,

That were green as spruce could be. [page 206]

We laid in our blankets and watched the sky,

Lit up with the northern lights,

That reach for stars with their fiery hands

From the gloom of the polar nights.

’Twas gettin’ late on the second day

When we reached our placer ground,

And we made our camp up the little creek,

At a suitable spot we found.

We threw up a tent and stored our grub,

And cut some boughs for our beds,

And folded our coats as pillows,

For to rest our weary heads.

Early next mornin’ we made for the beach

To lay out plans for our work,

And take another look at the sand

Where the precious gold did lurk.

We reached the spot, and to my surprise,

When we come to look around,

I found the black sand gone from MY claim

And bunched onto “’Arry’s” ground!

I failed to understand it at first,

And didn’t know who to blame,

Till it hit me that damned southeaster

Had shifted the gold from my claim,

And piled it up near the mouth of the creek,

Just leavin’ a thin light strip

For Jiggeroo Jones, the locator, who

Had kept from a partnership

Because he had staked the richest dirt,

And didn’t want to divide

His pile with a green-horn Englishman,

That drifted in with the tide.

There still was time to alter the posts—

But conscience, whisperin’ low,

Said, “anyone playin’ the hog like you,

Should certainly let things go.

You tried to euchre the kid for fair,

But you didn’t make it stick,

And Jiggeroo you have been punished,

For gettin’ too damnable slick. [page 207]

When it comes to playin’ funny tricks,

You’ve got to take a back seat,

And doff your hat to the southeast gales,

Which surely have got you beat.”

I helped get things into proper shape

So the kid could get along,

And built him a sluice to catch the gold,

Constructin’ it good and strong.

I told him what had happened my claim,

Through the trick the storm had played,

And of how MY fortune had vanished

That his fortune might be made.

He didn’t appear the least bit pleased

When I spoke of pullin’ out,

But swore I must stay and share with him

For he couldn’t manage without

A man of my size and calibre

To help him handle the claim,

And he spoke so straight and earnest

That I nearly blushed with shame.

I was feelin’ too cheap to refuse him,

So promised that I would stay,

And we worked on the claim together

Till night of the seventh day.

I thought it time to return the boat,

If I didn’t want Tel-el’s chief

Chasin’ me up with a shootin’ iron

And bawlin’ me out for a thief.

I told the boy what I had in mind,

And he thought my notion good,

But wanted me to be certain to

Return as soon as I could.

Catchin’ a favorin’ breeze next day

I headed off down the coast

Pridin’ myself on my sailin’ skill—

Of which though I never boast!

I said good-bye to the kid that morn,

Assurin’ him I’d return

Along the shore in a day or two

And not to feel any concern [page 208]

If I seemed overdue a day or so,

But to roll the sleeves of his shirt,

And eyein’ that fifteen thousand mark,

To pitch right into that dirt.

With my think-tank workin’ overtime,

I puzzled things out that day,

Whether I’d better get out of the camp,

Or whether I ought to stay.

I sailed along about twenty miles—

My thoughts in a hazy state;

But before I reached the River Tel-el,

I saw that the hand of Fate

Had led me to find that placer mine

(Who never could fortune coax)

For people needin’ it worse than me—

Most probably “’Arry’s” folks.

When I left the boat with Mexican tom,

Instead of takin’ the beach

Back to the claims as I said I would,

I hit for the sandy reach

That stretches along to Miller Creek,

And from there a trail did take,

That landed me once again O.K.,

At the Harbor of Skidegate.

There I waited three or four days,

With a party of timber men,

Till a boat for Rupert picked us up,

And I never went back again.

But I heard that “’Arry” made his stake,

And two years later went home;

And I—well, I’m broke as usual,

And driftin’ around alone.

Such are a prospector’s troubles, boys,

On the long hard trail of life;

And there’s just one thing I’m thankful for—

I’ve neither kiddie nor wife [page 209]

To want because of my wanderin’s,

Or suffer because of my luck,

And the Lord will give me credit for THAT

When the final balance is struck.

There’s an old man’s home in Kamloops town,

Where I guess I’ll soon be due;

But I’m gettin’ too old to change my ways,

So I’m goin’ to see it through:

And, Hoodlum, you needn’t turn your face

To snicker or to deride—

I’m blooded and game to finish,

But the Lord ain’t on my side!

George E. Winkler

~

L’ENVOI

In humbleness, O Lord, we ask

That thou should’st fit us for the task,

       The duty, and the privilege, of giving

Our best to work we have in hand;

That of ourselves we may demand

       The constant effort after worthy living.

Let not our pride of country, race,

Or power, for one brief day efface

       Remembrance of the debt we owe the past;

Let not self-interest or greed,

But service, be our living creed,—

       Lord, may we cherish good and hold it fast.

May we our heritage transmit

To children who are strong and fit

       To treasure it far better than have we;

O, help us play the part of men,

That, when we pass, our children then

       May love and honour Canada and Thee.

J. C. Murray

[page 210]

Biography

[page 211]

[blank page]

BIOGRAPHY

JAMES ANDERSON

     Of James Anderson, who has been termed “The Poet of the Cariboo”, little is known beyond the fact that he was a miner who took an apparently prominent part in the social life of the Cariboo in the sixties. Such information as is available has been gleaned from the contemporary files of the Cariboo Sentinel, a journal published in Barkerville in the period mining activity was at its height. This reveals, among other things that James Anderson was a candidate for election to the Cariboo Mining Board in 1866, though with what success is not ascertainable. From the same files we learn that he was a member of the Cariboo Glee Club and also the playwright of the district, with a keen interest in the dramatic club. For a number of years from 1860, he contributed at fairly regular intervals to the Cariboo Sentinel and was vice-president of the Cariboo Literary Institute. With one John McLaren, he edited a small manuscript magazine called the Caribooite, in which “Sawney’s Letters”, later to be reproduced in the Cariboo Sentinel, first appeared. His collected verse under the title of “Sawney’s Letters and Cariboo Rhymes” first appeared in 1864 and was reprinted in Toronto in 1895. The volume is extremely scarce to-day. Its homey rhymes are precious as among the few literary fragments to come down to us from the days of Canada’s first mining boom. [page 213]

W.H. DRUMMOND

     Few stars of the Canadian literary firmament are more generally familiar or widely beloved than Dr. Drummond. Not so commonly known, however, is the genial doctor’s association with the mining industry. Born in Ireland in 1854, the future dialect poet came to Canada with his parents in 1864. He studied medicine at Bishop’s College, Lennoxville (M.D. 1884), and for many years was physician in general practise, first in the country and then in Montreal.

     A period spent in telegraph service at Bord à Plouffe, a great centre of the lumber trade, brought him into close contact with the habitant and voyageur, and later his destiny proved to be as expositor of this romantic Canadian type. In countless poems that are unique in English literature, he immortalized the simple French Canadian he loved and in so doing won for himself an undying place in Canadian letters.

     In 1905, Dr. Drummond joined his brothers in the exploitation of new mines in which they were interested at Cobalt, and, welcoming the respite from medical duties and responsibilities at Montreal, took up the active superintendence of operations, clearly enjoying his activities in the region of wild beauty so new to him and his association with its workers. That year he published his last completed work, “The Voyageur”.

     Having achieved literary fame and with a competence of this world’s goods, it looked as though “Habitant Drummond”, as he was known in England, might comfortably look forward to many years of life. However in 1907, having returned to Montreal to spend Easter with his family, he learnt that smallpox had broken out in the camp at Cobalt and feeling his duty lay there he hurried back. A week later he was stricken with cerebral haemorrhage and died at Cobalt on April 6th.

~

[page 214]

SIDNEY C. ELLS

     Sidney C. Ells, F.R.G.S., F.G.S, was born in 1878 in Nova Scotia, graduated in Arts and Science from McGill, and after engaging for a while in work for mining and railway companies, joined the Mines Branch, Department of Mines, as a mining engineer in 1912, since when he has made his home in Ottawa. Among his many professional activities may be mentioned the selection of a tide water terminal for the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway on James Bay, while as a result of his investigations of oil shales and bituminous sands, he has come to be regarded as an authority in such matters. More than thirty years spent in many sections of the Canadian northland in charge or engineering and geological work has made him familiar with this wide territory and its people. He has absorbed their spirit which he expresses in prose and verse, while at the same time he is a skilful illustrator of his own writings.

~

GRAHAM GALE HARRIS

     Graham Harris was born in 1878 at Highgate, London, England, of a legal father and musical mother and his life has been spent in demonstrating the force of environment over heredity. He was educated at Merchant Taylor’s School, London and St. Edmund’s College, Ware, and since arrival in Canada at an early age has had a diversified career, embracing such callings as farmer, school teacher, lumberjack, postmaster, florist and prospector. His activities during the war years were equally varied, as official trans-Atlantic chaperon to the broncs, cartridge inspector at Woolwich, and in the ranks of the R.A.M.C. His more than thirty years spent in Canada, twenty-five of them among the forests, lakes and mining fields of the Thunder Bay and Rainy River districts, have developed a deep and sincere love for the frontier places, which has impelled him to such creditable verse. [page 215]

COLONEL JOHN EDWARDS LECKIE

     Col. John Edwards Leckie, D.S.O., C.M.G., C.B.E., whose name is closely associated with the early days of Cobalt, was born in Canada in 1872, educated at Bishop’s College School, Lennoxville, Quebec, and graduated from the Royal Military College. He secured the degree of B. Sc. after a post-graduate course at King’s College and engaged in mining engineering in Nova Scotia in 1894, moving to Rossland, B.C., three years later. During the South African War, he served first with Lord Strathcona Horse and then, as captain, with the Second Canadian Mounted Rifles, being mentioned in despatches, receiving the Queen’s metal with 5 clasps, and awarded the D.S.O. Resuming mining engineering, he went to Cobalt in 1905, remaining there until 1912, when he returned to British Columbia. During the Great War, he served as Major in the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, was Commandant of the 16th Battalion, the Canadian Scottish, and commanded the Forward Area, Murman Coast, N.R.E.F. During this period, he was mentioned in despatches and decorated with the C.M.G., the C.B.E., the Order of St. Vladimir, the White Eagle of Serbia, and the Croix de Guerre of France. The years since the Great War he has spent exploring in Mexico, Venezuela, Hudson’s Bay, and Cocos Island, and at the present time is residing in Vancouver. With a lifetime’s association with Canadian mining, Colonel Leckie is especially regarded as an authority on the early days of Cobalt, and he has been responsible for preserving much of the lore of that camp.

~

R. ALPINE MACGREGOR

     R. Alpine MacGregor was born approximately half a century ago in the Orkney Islands, where his father had abandoned the legal profession to engage in horse breeding and cattle raising. A boyhood spent on the craggy heights of Scapa Flow, [page 216] in the mists of the Pentland Firth, riding a Shetland pony to school, playing truant to follow sea trout through waving kelp beds, following behind his father who spent his leisure prowling over the rocks looking for fossils, at an early age shaped his ambition, which was to spend his manhood treading the trails of wild lands. Sent to Edinburgh University with the expectation of becoming either a minister or a lawyer, he did emerge to launch briefly on a legal career but gravitated irresistibly into writing, and contributed regularly to T.P.’s Weekly, The Academy, The Scotsman, etc. In his early twenties, it became possible to respond to the youthful urge, and he tore himself away and came to Canada, arriving at Cobalt in its heyday. His first week in the new land found him paddling up the Montreal river on a prospecting trip with Dave Foster. A subsequently aesthetically satisfying but not materially profitable prospecting career was only interrupted by the war in which “Mac” or “Wee”, as he had come to be known in the North, served as a machine gunner and front line stretcher bearer. Wounded, he returned to England and married. After the Armistice he settled with his wife on Cortez Island, a lonely spot in the North Pacific. Here he prospected the B.C. coast by gas boat, cleared a garden patch, lived by rod and gun, and wrote endlessly—novels and verse. In 1925, the Red Lake gold stampede lured him back to Northern Ontario and after further prospecting he established and operated the Patricia Herald at Sioux Lookout. Again, however, the call of the wild was insistent, and once more he took to the trail with his wife. To-day he is to be found somewhere, anywhere on the face of this region, jauntily toting his pack or paddling his small canoe, a philosopher who, though he may have accumulated little of this world’s goods, has realized his life’s ambition.

~

[page 217]

JOHN CAREY MURRAY

     John Carey Murray, known to the mining fraternity as “Jock”, was born and bred in Halifax, son of the Rev. Robert Murray. He received his early education in that city and later graduated from Dalhousie University (B. A.) and Queen’s University (B. Sc. Mining). He was one of the early Queen’s mining graduates, contemporary with John Reid, Frank Stevens, Stanley Graham and others. At an early age, he exhibited a turn for professional writing and developed an able and facile pen. After extensive free lance writing on mining topics he became identified with the Canadian Mining Review which he edited for a number of years. He continued as editor when it became the Canadian Mining Journal, and even after relinquishing this post, continued to contribute a verse of a mining flavor and which was characterized by a definite finish. After leaving the editorial desk, he engaged in general professional activities up to the time of his death in 1926, when he left behind the memory of a genial and lovable personality.

~

SIR CLIVE PHILLIPPS-WOLLEY

     Sir Clive Phillips-Wolley was born on April 3r, 1854, at Wimborne, Dorsetshire, England, the son of Mr. R.A.L. Phillips, M.A., F.R.G.S., F.R.S.C. He was educated at Rossal school and was for some years Her Majesty’s consul at Kertch. He left the diplomatic service to read law and was called as a barrister at the Middle Temple (Oxford Circuit) in 1884. In 1876 he inherited the Wolley property, Woodhall, Hanwood, Shropshire, whose name and arms he assumed.

     Twenty years later he came to British Columbia and was appointed Sanitary Inspector of the mining district. Afterwards he ventured into journalism as proprietor of the Nelson Miner, which he owned for some time. He engaged in extensive [page 218] and varied writing, among his published works being: “Sport in the Crimea”, “Gold in the Cariboo,” “The Chicamon Stone” and “Songs of an English Esau”. He was also responsible for the volumes on big game in the Badminton Library.

     A man of virile, rugged type, Sir Clive in his earlier days was very active in sport and won a very considerable reputation as an amateur boxer, later appearing occasionally in a Victoria ring in capacity of referee. A staunch Conservative, he was unsuccessful candidate for election to the House of Commons for Nanaimo constituency in 1904. He was founder and president of the Victoria Navy League, and a vice-president of the British Navy League. It was chiefly as a recognition of his services to the Empire in this connection that he was knighted in 1914. He lost his only son, Lieut.-Commander Clive Phillipps-Wolley, who went down with the Hogue in September 1914, and survived him only four years, dying suddenly at his home at Somenos, July 9th, 1918.

~

WILLIAM B. PATON

     William B. Paton, who writes prose and verse with the tang of the mines about them, was born in Galston, Ayrshire, Scotland, and launched out at an early age on a mining career, entering coal mines in Scotland when he was fourteen. He experienced at first hand almost every phase of underground mining, in coal and metal mines, from pony driver to underground manager, before we went to the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, to study mining engineering. He served with the Royal Navy during the Great War and is now Provincial Inspector of Mines for Manitoba.

~

[page 219]

M. MAY ROBINSON.

     M. May Robinson is a native of Owen Sound, daughter of the late Charles Howell, an early pioneer of that sector. She is the wife of J. N. Robinson who is engaged in mining work in Northwestern Ontario, and resides at Sioux Lookout. A lover of the outdoor life, especially as experienced in the Northland, she has expressed this fondness extensively in verse, which has been published in the Toronto Star and other Canadian journals.

~

ROBERT W. SERVICE

     Though Robert W. Service was not associated with the mining industry, nor in the Yukon till years after when, gripped by the fever of gold, men stampeded into that region, he is pre-eminently the poet of the Klondyke, who faithfully captured the atmosphere of ’98, recreated the hectic rush, chronicled its romantic episode, and portrayed its colorful characters.

     Born in England in 1876, he came to Canada at the age of twenty and after making his way leisurely from city to city across Canada, arrived at Victoria, B. C. The next five years he spent wandering up and down the Pacific coast, going as far south as Mexico, living precariously but learning life at first hand. Becoming a clerk in the Canadian Bank of Commerce at Victoria, he was subsequently moved to branches in Vancouver, Kamloops, and White Horse in the Yukon. It was at this last, from the tales and recollections of old-timers, that the poems of his first book, “The Songs of a Sourdough” were written. The volume appeared in 1907 and brought the author fame within a few weeks.

      Dubbed “The Kipling of the Arctic”, Service, as is apparent in this and subsequent works, does not, to quote his own words, “believe in pretty language and verbal felicities but in getting [page 220] down to the primal facts of life”, his idea of verse writing being “to write something that every workingman can read and approve”. Mr. Service was a correspondent in the Balkan war, drove a motor ambulance in the Great War, and has since resided in France.

~

LEONARD F. STEENMAN

     Leonard F. Steenman has secured for himself a place in Canadian mining tradition as the author of the “Cobalt Song”, which most members of the fraternity associate with the lighter moments of their foregatherings. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and a graduate in chemistry of the University of Michigan, Mr. Steenman went to Cobalt in February, 1910, in the employ of a mining company with leaseholds under Carr and Peterson Lakes. During the winter of 1910, a Toronto visitor to the camp introduced the “Rosseau Song”, which inspired Mr. Steenman to write the “Cobalt Song”, based on conditions as they were then, and sung to the same tune of the composer, Jack Strathdee of Toronto. After long association with the silver camp, Mr. Steenman left Cobalt in 1928.

~

        

WILSON H. THOMSON

     Wilson H. Thomson was born in 1895 at South Shields, England, of Scottish parentage. Educated locally, he worked in shipyards and engine factories before coming to Canada in 1920 when he settled in Saskatchewan. In 1923, he moved to Ontario and has since that time worked at McIntyre Porcupine Mines as mucker, machine helper, machine runner, etc., being now in charge of waste passes and spare shift boss. An inclination to versification has been definitely shaped by his environment and the nature of his occupation. [page 221]

GEORGE E. WINKLER

     George E. Winkler, who under the name of “Prospector” has published “Lonely Trails” and “Songs Unbidden” and much other verse and prose, has had a most varied career in the Canadian West, the greater part of it being encompassed by mining. Born at Kincardine, Bruce County, Ontario, 1875, and moving thirteen years later with his parents to Treherne, Manitoba, he was in turn farm hand, store clerk, clerk in a Winnipeg grain office, reporter on the Winnipeg Tribune, and editor of the Similkameen Star. Passing on to Hedley, where he worked as a bookkeeper and made the first write-up of that camp for the B.C. Mining Record, he next went to Penticton to prospect, unsuccessfully, for the source of some fabled rich float, following which he opened a real estate and insurance office there. After a period in Victoria, he went to the Queen Charlotte Islands to engage in timber survey and prospect; became the secretary-treasurer of a mining company; and launched out into various other prospecting. After courses in mining at the Universities of British Columbia and Washington, he organized a mining company, was employed as scout by a syndicate, helped organize the Vancouver Island Prospector’s Association and was employed by the British Columbia Department of Mines to lecture to prospectors in the northern mining camps. He has since been lecturing each winter to classes in Victoria High School on elementary geology and mineralogy, the while he engages in considerable writing.

~

[page 222]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.