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When the Steel Went Through
Mountain Division C.P.R., 1884


THE TRAIN on which I left Calgary in the spring of 1884, was the first train on which, for some time past, I did not have to travel on a flat-car, or in a caboose. It was a through train from Winnipeg with standard coaches, in which contractors, engineers, and other employees of the C.P.R. were making their way to The Summit, to engage again in the construction of the railway work which had been in abeyance all winter. The North American Construction Company had by this time ceased to function, and construction work was being organized by the C.P.R. directly, with James Ross as Manager.

On the train I happened to meet, for the first time, Matthew Neilson whom I have already mentioned; and the conversations I had with him made the time pass pleasantly.

I have no distinct recollection of having reported to Sykes on my arrival at The Summit, as instructed by Holt. But doubtless I did and he very likely referred me to J. H. Armstrong who had just been appointed Chief Engineer on construction; for it was to him that I did report. Armstrong had been the engineer in charge, during the fall and winter, of the building of the permanent steel bridge over the South Saskatchewan at Medicine Hat. I had met him late in the summer at our Calgary Camp before he went to Medicine Hat; so he was no stranger to me when I met him again at The Summit.

Holt shortly afterwards resigned from his position with the company, and took a contract for the grading of a section of the railway near the mouth of the Kicking Horse River. So I no longer got instructions from him, but from Armstrong, who from then on became my Chief.

As trains kept arriving daily with crowds eager to get to work on the construction of the railway, the scene at the summit might well have been compared to a gathering of the clans in response to the call of the fiery cross; all keyed up and ready to go.

While those arrivals were assembling, and the different engineering camps were being organized, I had the opportunity of getting acquainted with various engineers and contractors. Among the engineers, I may mention Chisholm, Bell-Irving, and Stewart, whom I had heard of the previous year, but had not met until then. Also G. H. Duggan, a new-comer, with whom I came to be intimately associated later. Griffith, Doane, and Thomson too, arrived on the scene; and also, to my great surprise and delight, my friend Mather, who had completed his work on the O. and Q. Railway.

With the completion of that railway, others who had been employed on it also joined the C.P.R. One of these was Barclay. He was put in charge of the laying out and the construction of the tote-road for the company's transport teams; and on that account became well known as "Tote-road Barclay".

Tom Holt, elder brother of H. S. Holt, was another new-comer. He had been in South Africa for some time, and had served there in the Zulu War, either in the commissariat, or in the transport department.

Soon after his arrival at The Summit, he was placed in charge of the company's store there, and it thus became generally spoken of as Holt's Store. It was the construction headquarters until the track had been laid farther west. It was then moved to a new site in accord with the progress of the work.

Some writers on the C.P.R. construction days in the mountains, when speaking of H. S. Holt, have referred to the headquarters at The Summit afterwards named Laggan as Holt City, presumably so called after him. I, however, never heard of Holt City. But Holt's Store, called after Tom Holt, was a familiar expression which everyone knew.

I had many conversations with Tom Holt at The Summit, while waiting for the camps to be organized. In the course of one of these conversations, I was amused to hear him refer to his brother, H. S. as "the great I am".

On another occasion we had a ride on horseback together over the old pack trail, as far as Mather's camp, which had been but recently established near Ottertail Creek. We had lunch at this camp, and I was pleased to have a chat with Mather again. But this proved to be the last I was to have with him for some time; for he shortly afterwards gave up his position with the C.P.R. to take what he considered was a better one which he had been offered in New Mexico.

Doane and Thomson, on their arrival at The Summit, at once had an office tent set up and were kept busy making tracings of the location plans and profiles of the different sections of the railway on which construction work was about to commence. These tracings were for the use of the different engineers who were to take charge of this work; and I lent a hand in making them, for a few days while my own camp was being organized.

The grading of a few miles from the end of track up Bath Creek a tributary of the Bow to Summit Lake, which was the real summit, had been left unfinished the previous year; and the first construction job assigned to me was to take charge of its completion.

I had my camp pitched at the Lake. It consisted of two tents, each 12 feet by 14 feet. The members of the party were: T. Dand, rodman; A. K. Stuart, chainman; Charlie Campbell, axeman; and the cook (I don't remember his name now).

One of the tents served as office, and also as living and sleeping-quarters for Dand, Stuart, and myself. The other was the quarters of the cook and the axeman; and was also the dining-room. This was the standard equipment of an engineer's camp on construction.

Griffith also was with me on this job for a few days as a spare hand, until he was called back by Armstrong to be his chief assistant in charge of his office the position he had held with Burpee the previous year.

As for the rest of the members of my party, I knew nothing of their qualifications. They were all perfect strangers to me, and had been assigned to my party on trial, without any say on my part. On the whole, they measured up pretty well.

This job was soon finished, and there were few incidents worth noting. There was one, however, which tested well Stuart's staying powers, and his fitness for his job. I had occasion to measure across the lake at its narrow part near the end. It was still frozen over, but the ice was getting rather rotten. It was shallow at that part, though, and Stuart started on his way across on the ice, dragging the chain. But he had not gone far before he got into difficulties. The ice gave way under his weight, and he found himself knee-deep in the water. Nevertheless, he did not flinch, but kept on going, while the ice continued to break at each step as he raised his foot on to it. Smashing along in this way through the ice he finally reached the shore, dragging the chain. "Good work, Stuart," I called to him. I knew for certain that from then on, I could rely on him.

My next move was to what were then known as the Kicking Horse Flats. There, I had charge of the grading of a section extending about three miles. The camp was moved by the company's teams over the newly built tote-road; but I have no recollection whatever of anything connected with this moving. All I remember is, finding at some time of the day, our camp pitched in the bush close to the tote-road, at a short distance past Porcupine Creek. So we evidently got there somehow.

There were three different contractors doing the work on this section. These were: Dave Isaacs, who had his camp on Porcupine Creek; Quigley and McCrimmon, who had theirs very near my own; and Ole Petersen whose camp was at the farther end of the section, near the site of what is now the station named Leancoil.

Ole Petersen was a Swede from the States. He had with him, as an able helper, his son whom we usually referred to as "young Ole", although Ole may not have been his name. Both were capable railway builders; they thoroughly understood their work.

Quigley and McCrimmon were Canadians. Quigley was of Irish descent, and McCrimmon's forebears came from Scotland. They were good railway builders, straightforward, and pleasant to deal with.

Isaacs, as his name would indicate, was a Jew. He was not a railway builder. He was a hotel-keeper, and had the Prospect House at Niagara Falls, Ontario. Prior to his coming to the mountains, he had had no experience in railway building; and how he managed to get a contract, I do not know. He had, however, a capable engineer named Davis, as manager, and the work went along in good form.

But although Isaacs knew nothing about railway building, he knew all about running a camp. He was in his element in this. He ran his camp just as he ran his hotel at the Falls. Everything about it had to be neat and tidy. No rubbish lying about. His camp was therefore a popular one at which to call.

Davis had his wife and her sister Miss Tilla Bricker, a lively and attractive young lady, with him in camp; and the presence there of these ladies contributed much to its popularity.

Forest fires started shortly after our camp had been set up. The mountain sides were ablaze, and I thought it well to have our camp moved out of danger from its position in the bush. So it was moved a short distance to a site nearer the river where the trees were sparse.

We had lots of callers at this camp. James Ross was quite a frequent visitor, and often had searching questions to ask regarding the work. T. J. S. Skinner, now one of Calgary's pioneer citizens, carried the C.P.R. mail from the post office at Holt's Store and delivered it to the different camps ahead. He had a horse to ride, and led another which carried the mail on a pack saddle. He was a regular and most welcome visitor. Tote-road Barclay too, often spent a night with us, when on his way on horseback up and down the tote-road. He was quite a character and he enlivened our evenings with his stories full of dry humour. On one occasion, when he got up in the morning, he found that his horse, which he had hobbled the night before, had gone into the Kicking Horse and had swum to an island where it could be seen looking very lonely, and pondering on what it was going to do next. Barclay had quite a job getting it back; and I can still hear the language he used.

I have in my possession a circular letter sent out by Armstrong to engineer's camps on construction, for their guidance in ordering supplies. It is an interesting reminder of how we fared in the way of food. It is handwritten, with the exception of the printed letter-head. This is the letter-head:

Canadian Pacific Railway Co.
Mountain Division
Office of Manager of Construction
Winnipeg, Man.....188

The words "Winnipeg, Man." have been scored out with a pen, and the words "Holt's Store" written above them. So here is what the circular has to say:

Holt's Store, 13th May 1884
List of Provisions for Construction Camps for 1 Month

The letter G. here, under Armstrong's name, undoubtedly stands for Griffith who generally signed for Armstrong in this way.

Other articles of food, such as prunes and canned peaches, were obtainable as alternatives to similar items on this list. We got fresh meat too, occasionally. This was delivered to the camps by the butchers at the improvised slaughtering grounds along the route of the railway under a contract with W. R. Hull then a resident of British Columbia; and in after years a prominent citizen of Calgary.

This list provided for a camp of five. It will thus be seen that we had an ample variety of food to satisfy the appetites of healthy and energetic young men leading an outdoor life.

The work of an engineer on construction is but little understood by the general public. Some doubtless regard him as simply a fellow who looks through a telescope and sees things upside down. So, for the enlightenment of the general reader, I shall, without being too technical, give some details in my description of the work, which it would be quite unnecessary to give were my readers all engineers.

Contracts for grading were let at a stated price per cubic yard of material moved. Solid rock, loose rock, and earth as defined in the specifications had each a stated price. Clearing the route of trees, and grubbing out stumps, were each paid for at so much an acre.

It was the duty of engineers on construction to lay out and superintend the construction of the work on their sections, and to make and turn in, monthly estimates of the quantities moved under each classification. On these estimates, the contractors got paid for their work at their contract prices.

Before I had got my camp established on my section, contractors with their outfits were already on the ground waiting to have their work laid out for them. So I had to pitch in immediately and lay out, at various points spread over my section, just enough work to let each contractor get a start.

The laying out of the rest of the work, however, took considerable time; and often much physical effort. For it involved the setting of slope stakes to mark the top of slopes in excavations to be made, or the foot of slopes in embankments. This necessitated taking levels at distances measured on trial, right and left from the location line; and then from these trial distances and levels, calculating on the spot, the right distance at which to set the stakes. And for the guidance of those who were doing the grading, the depth in feet of excavation, or the height of embankment required at these points as the case might be was marked on the stakes.

Setting of slope stakes was technically known as cross-sectioning; and from the cross-sections thus taken, the quantities of material to be moved were afterwards calculated in camp. They thus formed the basis on which our monthly estimates were made out. Cross-sections were taken every 100 feet, or closer, depending on how uneven the ground surface happened to be. When doing this work, we generally had steep side-hills to climb up and down, and would often have to dig our toes in, in our efforts to get a foothold.

Dand, whom I have already mentioned as being rod-man on my party, did not prove to be as agile at this climbing up and down as I had wanted him to be. He had held the position of pile inspector on the construction of bridges the previous year. So, at my request Armstrong sent him to Beckler, the engineer in charge of bridge construction, to resume his old position as pile inspector. In his place, Armstrong sent me John Bright; he had been one of the members of Shaw's survey party which, as previously mentioned, had been snowed up in the Howse Pass. As soon as this change in my party was made, I advanced Stuart to the position of rodman, and made Bright chainman.

Bright had a younger brother, Harry, who started work in the mountains as a labourer with the contractors Quigley and McCrimmon. He was then but a mere boy, but he manfully handled the pick and shovel. Eventually, he got a position with one of the construction engineers. After the completion of the railway, he settled in the MacLeod district; and years later, when the Southern Alberta Pioneers and Old Timers' Association was formed, he became one of its most enthusiastic members. He served one year as President.

The great ambition of many of us on coming to the mountains, was to shoot a bear; and with this end in view, Stuart and I set out one evening and climbed well up the thickly wooded side of the mountain adjacent to our camp. We lay out on this mountain side all night in the hope of getting a bear in the early morning. But we had no luck; the bears were too wary.

One day, however, while we were busy in camp preparing our monthly estimates, we heard the sudden crack of a rifle. Greatly excited, we grabbed our rifles and rushed out, eager to get into the fray, whatever it was. We found that the rifle shot we had heard had come from the cook's rifle; and that with this shot he had killed a bear which had come close to the camp. After the excitement had died down, the bear was skinned and the skin stretched on an improvised frame to dry. The best parts of the carcass were later served by the cook for dinner. This was the first time we had tasted bear meat. It was all right as a novelty; but left no craving for it as a regular diet.

A few days after this event, James Ross called at the camp, and it so happened that at the time he called, Stuart had been having a dip in the river, and was standing dressed in the garb of Adam with his back toward us, drying himself with a towel. I was looking in Stuart's direction when Ross asked what I understood at first to be, "Where did you get the bare skin?" Somewhat taken aback by this question, I looked up enquiringly at Ross, still seated on his horse, and saw that he was looking at the bear skin stretched on the frame. Then I quickly realized what his question meant; and told him the story of the shooting.

The scenery, needless to say, had an inspiring appeal for us all. There were, however, no kodaks in those days with which to take snapshots. There were a few itinerant photographers who took photos here and there along the route of the railway; and one could buy photos from them. But these didn't always happen to be photos of the scenes one particularly wanted. So we developed a taste for sketching; and it was our custom when we paid a visit to a neighbouring engineer's camp on a Sunday, to take our portfolio of sketches with us to submit them for inspection and criticism. This criticizing of each other's work proved most helpful.

Some went in for water colours, notably Bell-Irving and Lewis; but I never got beyond pencil sketches. I well remember one picture which Lewis painted. He called it the "C.P.R. Mail". It showed Skinner on horseback, with his pack-horse following on the lead, at full gallop over the tote-road; a very realistic picture.

As for my own sketches, I do not make any pretence of their being works of art. But they are a reminder of the pleasant hours I spent in making them. A glance at them now recalls events that are firmly imprinted on my memory.

The summer was a very wet one, and the Kicking Horse was rampant, spreading out all over the Flats. Owing to the incessant rains the tote-road got badly cut up, and it is a wonder that Bender's transport teams got through at all. But they did.

The location line of the railway on part of my section, near Leancoil, ran across what was at one time part of the river bed, and the river claimed it again and covered it with several feet of water. It was therefore impossible at the time to build the road-bed there. On instructions from Armstrong, however, I changed the location by making a detour on higher ground above the water for a distance of about half a mile. So the work went on without any serious delay.

It was during the summer of 1884 that the members of the British Association for the advancement of Science held their meeting in Canada; and some of them came to The Summit to see the mountain scenery. That was as far as trains then ran.

I heard that Sir William Thomson better known later as Lord Kelvin whose class in Natural Philosophy I had attended at Glasgow University, was among the number who had come to The Summit. I was hoping that he might venture farther on foot, and that I might chance to meet him and have the pleasure of entertaining my old professor in my camp. But in this, I was disappointed. As far as I could learn, he did not venture so far.

There were, however, others of the party who were more venturesome. Late one evening, two who had been caught in a downpour of rain on their tramp from The Summit, arrived at Isaacs' camp, soaking wet and spattered with mud. I happened to be there that evening, having a pleasant time in Davis' tent with him and Mrs Davis, and Miss Bricker. Isaacs suddenly surprised us by appearing in the tent and announcing, in his own original way, that two gilhoolies had come; and he enlarged on their plight. Davis at once left with him to see who these late comers were, and to arrange for their accommodation for the night.

After some time, he and Isaacs, accompanied by his two gilhoolies, returned to the tent where the ladies and I were eagerly awaiting their coming, much intrigued to know who these mysterious visitors might be. One turned out to be an Oxford professor; the other was his son, a tall young man in his early twenties. I can't, however, recall their names.

They had been given a change of dry clothes brand new overalls. They certainly looked odd in their novel get-up; but they were in no way embarrassed by the presence of the ladies. They were cheerful and frank in expressing their appreciation of the hospitality shown them.

They stayed at the camp for a day, to let their clothes get dry. I was afterwards told by Davis that the professor had been seen that day, chasing a chipmunk, in a vain attempt to catch the wily little creature doubtless with the hope of securing it as a specimen of the fauna of the mountains.

When they left the camp, they continued on their way farther down the Kicking Horse; and I saw nothing more of them.

Another visitor whom I met at Isaacs' camp was J. H. E. Secretan. I had heard much about him but had not previously met him. He was a well-known engineer, and had been employed for a number of years on the government surveys for the railway through the Yellowhead Pass. He had also been employed by the C.P.R. in 1882, on surveys for the line running west from Winnipeg heading for the Bow River valley. Of his doings on that work I had heard many stories. He had the reputation of being a great joker, and very eccentric.

As far as I know, his employment by the C.P.R. had come to an end by the summer of 1883. At any rate, he was not employed by the company when I met him at Isaacs' camp, where he was spending a few days. He had come to the mountains, as far as I could learn, with a view to getting some contract. But I never heard of his having succeeded in getting one.

His propensity for jokes became quite apparent soon after his arrival in camp. He had come across a sheet of Isaacs' writing-paper bearing the letter-head:

"Prospect House
Niagara Falls
David Isaacs, Proprietor."

and this evidently suggested to him the idea of writing on it an "Ode to the Falls".

I remember only parts of this Ode, but these parts give a fair idea of its nature. The blanks can well be left to the imagination. Here is what I remember:

"Oh the Falls, Falls, Falls,
What thoughts their memory recalls

"About drinks that make you tight
As you wander home at night,
After gazing at the sight of the Falls.

"How the tourists they do rave
Of the gentle landlord Dave

"Oh, the lies, lies, lies, which he tells
To the heavy English swells
And the belles, At the Falls.

"And how their eyes do gliss'n
As they liss'n
To those remarks of his'n
About fishes which he bought
Which he made believe he caught
Near the Falls."

Secretan, after a few days at Isaacs' camp, continued his way westward, and I saw no more of him during the time I was in the mountains. I met him, however, once again, a few years later at Winnipeg, where I had stopped over for a day or two on my way to Montreal, or Toronto. I ran across him there at the old Manitoba Club, where he was holding forth in his usual serio-comic vein to a number of the members. I gathered from the conversation that was being carried on, that he had been Chief Engineer on the construction of a railway chartered by the Manitoba Legislature to run in a south-westerly direction from Winnipeg to the International boundary.

I forget the name of this railway, but it appeared that it had not as yet paid him for his services; and his hearers were quizzing him about this. In reply to their taunts, Secretan informed them that he had recently called at the office of the company in an endeavour to get his pay, but was asked to wait until the train came in and see if the conductor had any money. "And," he added, "when the train did come in, there was only one passenger; and he had a pass."

The spiritual welfare of the men in construction camps was being attended to by two members of the clergy, each in his own way; and this may have been a vital factor in the way the construction of the railway was carried on without any serious troubles.

One of these missionaries was the Rev. Angus Robertson, the first minister of Knox Church in Calgary. He often called at my camp and had a meal with us; so I got to know him intimately. He was a well built and active young man, apparently physically fit for the arduous work he was doing. Yet he died of typhoid fever a few years later in 1890.

The other missionary was Father Fay a Scotsman from Aberdeen with a pronounced Aberdonian accent. He also was a frequent caller at my camp, and I had many conversations with him. He had let his beard grow, and with full beard and soutane he was a picturesque figure, suggestive of a monk of old. Fishing was his hobby; and I can see him yet on the banks of the Kicking Horse diligently casting his line. But I never saw him catch any fish. He may, however, have had more success as a fisher of men.

Law and order was maintained by an advanced detachment of the North West Mounted Police. This detachment was in charge of Ralph Bell the policeman who ferried me across the Bow River, on my first arrival in Calgary.

He was on police duty all through the construction of the railway in the mountains. Afterwards, he became one of Calgary's successful business men. He is now retired and still has his home in Calgary.

The health of the men was cared for by Dr. Sweat, an American whose methods were rough and ready. He was an interesting character. His name was rather an uncommon one, and he would frequently be addressed by some as Dr. Sweet. "No," he would say, "not Sweet, Sweat; just ordinary perspiration."

For a time he was the only doctor on the works; but later, two other doctors Brett and Orton were added to the medical staff.

I had been camped on the Kicking Horse Flats for some considerable time before I knew of the existence of the lower falls of this river. At a short distance from Leancoil it takes a turn to the left and flows southward for some distance, and then turns sharply to the right. The railway, however, does not follow the river round this bend, but cuts across a short ridge, and rejoins the river farther down. The river thus practically forms two sides of a triangle, of which the railway forms the base. The falls are on the lower of these two sides of the triangle.

It was Ole Petersen who first told me about these falls. His camp was situated on the base of the triangle, and early one calm Sunday morning when lying in bed he heard the sound of falling water. He got up, and, guided by this sound, he made his way through thick undergrowth for fully a mile, and found the falls. When he told me of his discovery, and what a fine sight the falls were, Stuart and Bright and I, the following Sunday, set out on our own search and found, coyly hidden in the timber and brush, this Sleeping Beauty in the Wood.

The engineers on the other sections whom I met most frequently were, Phil Foster on the section adjoining mine, to the east; and W. Z. Earle on the one to the west. One of the contractors on Earle's section was H. P. Bell, formerly engineer on the Intercolonial Railway. His contract was at the end of this section next to mine; so I happened to meet him from time to time, and have a talk with him.

As the summer wore on, the visit to the mountains of Mrs. Davis and Miss Bricker drew to a close. On the morning of the day on which, as it had been announced, they were leaving, there was a gathering of their admirers at Isaacs' camp, to bid them good-bye. I was one of the crowd, and so was Armstrong. In the course of the lively talk that preceded the leave-taking, Miss Bricker made some remark about the train on which they were to travel, and said that it was so long since she had seen an engine that she had almost forgotten what one looked like. To this Armstrong ventured the remark that she no doubt would be pleased to look at an engine again. But with a sly side look at him out of the corner of her eye, she smilingly replied: "No. I would rather look at an engineer." That completely took Armstrong aback. He subsided with a forced laugh, and hadn't a word more to say.

The work on my section had by this time been nearly completed, and the transport teams, instead of keeping to the tote-road, took to using, as a wagon road, those parts of the road-bed which had been finished. This, during the wet weather especially, played havoc with the newly built and well trimmed road-bed. But the tote-road had become so badly cut up that only light loads could be hauled over it, and it was a moot point whether the damage through its continued use, in breakdowns of wagons and equipment, was, or was not greater than the damage to the road-bed caused by teams hauling wagons over it. I had heard Bender, who had charge of the transport teams, hotly maintain that it was. But Armstrong was decidedly opposed to the roadway being used as a wagon road, and he instructed me to set up a signboard at each end of that part of the road-bed which was being thus used, prohibiting, under his order, teams from travelling on the road-bed, or dump, as it was usually called. So, following his instructions, I had these sign-boards put up. One of them, the westerly one, was close to my camp.

Shortly before this time, Van Horne had gone to the coast, via the States, to inspect the work being done on the Onderdonk contract, and was now continuing his way eastward through the mountains, inspecting the work being done under Ross. Ross had gone to meet Van Horne, and one evening I saw him, from my camp, return with him in a two-horse rig, something like a buckboard. I saw the team leave the tote-road and head for the dump. It stopped a second at the incline leading on to the dump while the travellers glanced at the sign-board. Then, regardless of Armstrong's prohibition, the team got up on the dump and sped along at a brisk trot on the way to headquarters at The Summit.

Whether or not I reported to Armstrong this defiance of his orders, I do not remember.

Men were constantly arriving from the east to work on the construction of the railway; and finding places for them was the job of Bob Woods. He apportioned them among the different contractors in accordance with their requirements in the way of men.

But he didn't just send the men to the jobs he had thus assigned them. He first marshalled them all together at headquarters, and accompanied them on horseback on their tramp over the tote-road, leaving some at one camp and some at another, until all had been given a place.

To see him riding along the tote-road with his company like a general in command of an army was a familiar sight. He was a well-known character, and was frequently spoken of as the Dago driver.

Moving about as he did from one end of the work to the other, he got the latest news of the different camps; and usually had a story to tell on someone. But we also heard stories from others in which the joke was on him.

One of these stories was told me by Griffith who, being in Armstrong's camp, was in a good position to know what was going on. This story was, that Bob Woods and George Kerr a brother-in-law of Ross were escorting Dr. Orton's two young daughters on horseback along the tote-road, on some jaunt or other, when they met Ross on horseback too. He stopped them abruptly, and enquired what they were doing there. He broke up the party, and sent Woods and Kerr away to attend to their work, with the remark, "I'll look after the ladies."

Later in the year Griffith was taken sick, and was laid up for some time. When convalescing, he had a visit one day from two of his particular chums. One was his cousin Teddy Williams; and it was he who told me what took place on this visit.

Griffith was sitting up in his cot having a meal when the visitors arrived. They were smoking their pipes at the time and continued to smoke. But Griffith did not seem to appreciate tobacco smoke as an accompaniment to his meal. So he dryly remarked, "Excuse me eating when you're smoking." This hint was enough. Out went the pipes.

As contractors and engineers got finished with the work on their particular sections, they moved their camps and outfits to new scenes farther ahead to commence work again on new contracts. The way this moving worked out was like a game of leapfrog over all; for the camp which was to the rear, being generally the first one ready to move, was moved on ahead of all the others; and so on.

On the completion of the work on my section, my camp was the one to the rear, as all the engineers who had been behind me had by that time moved. I would therefore, in the ordinary course, have been moved to another section on the farthest outpost, to look after the grading there. But it was engineering work of a different kind that I was fated to undertake.

Beckler, an American, who had been engineer in charge of the bridges, with Fowler as his assistant, had resigned and returned to the States; and Fowler carried on in his stead for a time. But he was, shortly afterwards, stricken with typhoid or mountain fever, of which he died; and Armstrong called on me to fill the breach.

The bridge across Ottertail Creek had by this time been completed, and the track was nearing the 3rd crossing of the Kicking Horse. My first work on my new job was to lay out the bridge at this crossing. It was a comparatively low bridge extending across the Flats, on what had been Foster's section near its junction with mine. So I was able to attend to this work without having to move my camp. I may here mention that in going to this crossing, I had to pass Isaacs' camp, and, as he was preparing to move, I called to say good-bye. "The gentle landlord Dave" was in his usual cheerful mood. He presented me with his photograph, which I still have in an old album, and gave me a standing invitation to come and stay with him at his hotel at the Falls as his personal guest, as long as I wished. But the occasion never presented itself; nor did I ever see or hear of him afterwards.

Plans for the bridges were made by Doane and his assistants in their office at Headquarters. Duggan, who for some time had been topographer on Neilson's locating party, had now joined Doane's staff; and Thomson was still on the job.

The information on which these plans were based was supplied by each construction engineer, who gave the data as to length and height of the bridges required on his section. The contract for building the bridges was let to William MacKenzie, who hailed from Kirkfield, Ontario.

These bridges might all be classified according to their type: as pile bridges, trestles, and trusses. All were of wood, and, generally speaking, all had pile foundations. Those designated as pile bridges had no superstructure other than caps and stringers. They were usually low bridges.

The standard plan for both pile bridges and trestles provided for bents 15 feet apart; and 4 piles to the bent. My duty was to lay out on the ground the points at which piles were to be driven; and to see that the bridges were properly built by the contractor. After the piles were driven, I had to give what was called by the bridge carpenters, the cut-offs. This consisted of marking on one pile in each bent, the point at which the tops had to be cut off to form the base for the placing of sills, or caps. This giving of cut-offs involved considerable detail work, and calculation on the ground.

As soon as the bridge at the 3rd crossing of the Kicking Horse was finished and also the small one over Porcupine Creek I at once moved camp, to keep out of the way of the track-layers. I moved to a site between the 4th and 5th crossings, past Earle's camp and near to Keefer's on the next section. Keefer had been on the government surveys in the Yellowhead Pass, and in my talks with him, he frequently spoke of the Tete Jaune Cache, and of his work there.

Corey's tunnel so called after the name of the contractor was on Keefer's section. The material through which it was being driven was blue clay, and it was causing him considerable worry by sliding and caving in. There was a cave-in when I was there, in which one of the workmen lost his life.

While the bridge at the 4th crossing was being built, I became well acquainted with Earle. His camp was close to the crossing, and we often got together of an evening. He had a younger brother with him, Sylvester Z. Earle. The letter Z stood for Zobieski, which was the middle name of both. But Earle always called this young brother Bick. So it was as Bick Earle that he was known and called by everyone.

Earle also had, as rodman, W. Tye who many years afterwards, when the railway was in operation, became Chief Engineer.

On the completion of this bridge, the track was extended to a point near Corey's tunnel, which was but a short distance past my camp; and headquarters and supplies were moved there from Holt's Store. Establishing headquarters at this point made it a busy centre, and in a short time it had all the makings of a small town. This community was named after the explorer Palliser.

With the bridge at the 4th crossing completed, I had now to give my attention to the one at the 5th crossing. It was a fairly high bridge; and the main part of it was composed of two Howe trusses which were being framed in a yard at the newly established headquarters.

The site of this bridge lay beyond Corey's tunnel; and until this tunnel was completed track-laying was held up there for some time, with consequent delay in getting material from the framing yard to the bridge site by rail. So, I had a fairly long stay at Palliser (or rather I should say, at its suburbs) and I had an opportunity of meeting again a number of people I had last seen at Holt's Store. Among these were Doane, Duggan, and Thomson; Tom Holt, Curran, and Lukes the paymaster. Gordon whom I had not met before was the postmaster. Lukes paid out the cash; and Gordon issued postal money orders for much of it which was being sent east. Taking these two together, they performed, in a measure, the function of bankers for the workers.

One evening Bob Woods the Dago Driver came over and spent some time with me in my tent. He knew, as I have already said, all that was going on at every camp, and he told of these doings, with many elaborations, in a highly entertaining manner.

In the course of the evening, I showed him a photograph of our camp which I had just had taken by one of those itinerant photographers I have mentioned. The photograph shows a wintry scene; although it was not taken in winter, but some time in August. The wintry effect was due to one of those surprise snow flurries which may happen at any time, in the mountains. So on that account it may be regarded as a curiosity.

But that was not the feature in it that drew forth Woods' criticism. It was the ridiculous poses of the group: Stuart at the level, and Bright handling the transit; poses quite out of keeping with a picture of camp life, as the tent in the background proclaims it to be. But my pose is the most absurd of all. I am standing with a roll of profile paper in my hands, but instead of looking at it, I am looking skyward; and Woods, pointing to me in the photograph, enquired: "What rooster is this, praying?" He knew well enough who it was, but that was his way of taking a rise out of me.

As soon as the bridge at the 5th crossing was completed, I moved camp to a point close to the tote-road several hundred feet above the road-bed of the railway, which kept close to the edge of the Kicking Horse.

By this time the camp had been enlarged by the addition of another tent to provide quarters for two pile inspectors, Dand, and Albro a Halifax man and two timekeepers: Haultain, and Martin. The duty of the pile inspectors was to see that the piles were according to specification, and that they were driven to proper resistance. The timekeepers kept record of the time taken in doing all extra work for which no specific price was provided in the contract. The contractor was paid for this on a cost-plus basis.

Coincident with this increase in the size of my camp, there was a change of cooks. The first cook I had, unfortunately became sick and had to leave. I have already stated that I did not remember his name; but in trying to recall it since, the name Harry Nash comes to my mind. As for the name of the cook I got in his place, I doubt if I ever knew it; for he was known by the nickname of "Montana Pete". Any man who had a nickname like that must have had a history. Be that as it may, he was a good cook, and proved to be quite a hustler when it came to moving camp.

When moving camp on this occasion, we had an exciting experience. As the team with our outfit was nearing the spot where I intended to pitch camp, the mules got balky, and ended by backing the wagon over the edge of the cliff. The wagon pulled the mules over with it, but by a lucky chance, it stuck against a large tree growing on the steep slope, some 40 or 50 feet below. But for this, it would in all likelihood have rolled on down to the river; and that would have been the end of the mules. The teamster, however, managed to get them unhitched from the wagon; badly skinned, but otherwise none the worse for their escapade.

But our camp outfit was scattered all over the slope.

"Montana Pete", however, rose to the occasion. He promptly set about searching among the wreckage for some cooking utensils and food, and had an open fire lit and a good meal served to all of us in record time.

After this meal, we hunted up our blankets, and as it was getting dark, we rolled up in them and went to sleep for the night, on any fairly level spot we could find on the slope. We were astir early in the morning, gathering up our belongings, and soon had the tents set up and the camp established at the only level spot we could find close to the tote-road.

The tote-road at this point followed closely along the route of the old pack trail known as the Golden Stairs, which the surveyors had used. In some places, it was just this pack trail widened to make it a wagon road. It wound in and out along the face of the slope which tops the almost sheer cliff, at the foot of which the waters of the Kicking Horse tumble in rapids over rocks and boulders, on their way to swell the less turbulent waters of the Columbia.

To avoid much heavy rock work along the face of this cliff, the railway crossed to the other side of the river at the 6th crossing. The bridge at this crossing was at the mouth of a tunnel, known as Muir's tunnel, built by Muir Brothers, the contractors.

Our camp was almost directly above this tunnel some hundreds of feet so we had some fairly stiff climbs to make in connection with the bridge building which we looked after from this camp. Besides the 6th crossing, there were a number of fairly large trestle and pile bridges, over tributaries of the Kicking Horse, between the 5th. and 6th crossings. And we had also the 7th crossing, where the railway crossed back again to the right bank of the river.

It was somewhere in the vicinity of the 7th crossing that Holt had his contract. The material was, for the greater part, solid rock, and in part of this there was a tunnel. The construction engineer on this section was Bryant, an American with much experience in mountain construction on the Union Pacific Railway. Owing to the heavy nature of the work on this section, he had an assistant engineer named Sheldon, also an American.

My next move was to the Columbia valley, a short distance past Holt's camp, in the vicinity of what is now the town of Golden. I have no distinct recollection of making this move, but I clearly remember my first night in camp there. I missed the rhythmic sound of the tumbling waters of the Kicking Horse, to which I had unconsciously become accustomed; and the stillness of the Columbia was such a contrast that I had great difficulty in going to sleep that night.

Our camp was close to the log house in which Walter Moberly had spent a winter when employed by the government in making exploratory surveys for the railway. This house thus came to be known as the Moberly House.

Chisholm, the construction engineer on this section, was now using it as his quarters. I had met him at The Summit, at the time of our arrival there in the spring, so he was not a stranger to me. As our camps were now close together, I spent some pleasant evenings with him. As a reminder of the time I spent at that camp, I have a photograph of Moberly House. It shows Chisholm and his party in from of the house, in the usual make-believe poses; Chisholm with his level, and Hodgins, his rodman, at the transit.

As to the work I did from this camp, my recollections are vague. As far as my memory serves me, the bridges I had to attend to were, for the most part, pile bridges over tributaries of the Columbia.

I ran across Holt here, and I well remember having quite a long talk with him. In the course of our conversation we got talking about Sheriff Redgrave, collector of poll tax for the British Columbia government. He was an assiduous collector. But it was not that which brought him fame. It was his stories. He had the reputation of being a story-teller of the Baron Munchausen order. I had met him at one of my former camps; but I had not heard him tell any of his stories.

Holt, however, rehearsed one of these to me. I cannot pretend to give the details of that story; but the gist of it was that the Sheriff, one winter, was fleeing on skates along the edge of a lake, from a pack of wolves. The wolves were about to grab him when, by rare good luck, he came across some men hoeing potatoes.

Here the story as retold by Holt ends. The Sheriff's stories, although of different adventures of his, were all much on the same pattern; there was always some inconsistent climax to give the lie to the tale. This was the first time I had known of Holt in the role of story-teller; and it is doubtless this story that has left this particular meeting with him so firmly fixed in my memory.

My next move was to the first crossing of the Columbia. About the same time construction headquarters were moved from Palliser to that vicinity too, and formed the nucleus of the town which sprang up there later known as Donald.

The telegraph operator at this point was Jack Little, whom I had previously met in Calgary. He was a highly original character, and had his own inimitable way of expressing himself. In his spare moments, he wrote articles for The Calgary Herald, descriptive of people and their doings in this neighbourhood.

The bridge to be built across the Columbia was the principal one which engaged my attention at this camp. It was a two-truss bridge and the piles for the pier connecting these trusses were driven from a scow, which was attached to a cable stretched across the river.

One day, while I was watching the piles being driven, I saw, approaching the cable, a raft floating down stream, with a man and a camp outfit on it. It was quite evident that this raft would get entangled with the cable, which hung low close to the water. The pile-driver crew shouted to the man on the raft to look out. Too late! The raft swept under the cable, and passed on, but minus the passenger and cargo. For the cable caught the camp outfit and sheered it right off the raft. It caught the man too, but he hung on to it. With both hands gripping the cable, and one leg over it, he gave an exhibition of some rather odd gymnastics as he bobbed up and down in his struggles, half immersed in the water.

When finally rescued from his plight by the men on the scow, he turned out to be Greer, one of the subcontractors whom I had already met and knew, quite well. Having finished a contract, he was moving his outfit to the mouth of the Beaver River where he expected to get another job. He thought that floating by raft would be the cheapest way to get there. But he hadn't calculated on the hazard of encountering a cable on the way.

Some of his outfit was salvaged, but how much I cannot say. One thing, however, was certain. He got a cold dip, for the season was well advanced, and there was ice floating down the Columbia at the time.

There was quite a number of smaller bridges which I had to lay out from this camp. When these, and the bridge over the Columbia were completed, I moved camp to Quartz Creek, a tributary of the Columbia, a few miles from the mouth of the Beaver River.

My memory as to what work I did from this camp is rather faulty. There was, I know, a low pile bridge across Quartz Creek; and there were doubtless other bridges of much the same type.

When on this section of the work, I met Mahood, one of the construction engineers. He had had a wide and varied experience. In the early 1860's, he was on a survey or a telegraph line across Siberia, to establish telegraphic communication between Europe and America. This was before the Atlantic cable had been laid. But when that cable was eventually laid, the company, or group of financiers sponsoring the telegraph line via Siberia and Russia, abandoned this project. Mahood had many interesting tales to tell of his Siberian experiences.

When the time came to move camp from Quartz Creek, winter had definitely set in. Two teams with sleighs arrived at camp one evening, and stayed the night to be ready to move the camp in the morning. It was a very cold night, and the temperature according to current talk the next day dropped to 40 degrees below zero. I had no thermometer, so cannot say whether that was, or was not, the right temperature. At any rate, it was cold enough to believe it was 40 below.

I offered to make room in the camp, for the night, for the two teamsters. But they said there was no need to do that; they were accustomed to sleeping out. So they passed the night in their sleighs, rolled up in their blankets.

The taking down of the cook's tent in the morning was no simple job. For the steam from the cooking had frozen the canvas into stiff sheets of ice. However, we got the tent packed up somehow; and we moved camp to a site on the left bank of the Beaver River a few miles from its mouth, that is to say, from its junction with the Columbia. This junction point later became known as Beavermouth.

Before setting up the tents at this new camping ground, we had first to clear from the site for each tent some two feet of snow; like excavating the cellar for a house before starting to build it. When the tents were set up, we packed this snow round the sides. This was quite a help in keeping out the cold.

We were camped here, however, only temporarily, pending the completion of a log house which was being built for us as our winter quarters. After a week or two, the house was completed, and we moved into it a short time before the end of the year.

In the interval I spent considerable time checking measurements at the sites of two large bridges Mountain Creek, and Cedar Creek and familiarizing myself with them, as the laying out and superintending the building of these bridges was to be my work for the winter.

At some time during the winter, the community at Donald was considerably stirred by an escapade in which some members of the headquarters staff located there had, unwittingly, got themselves involved.

As the story goes, paymaster Lukes and others of the different staffs, among whom was G. H. Duggan, were tobogganing one moonlit evening on the banks of the Columbia, which by that time was frozen over. When so disporting themselves, they saw some men moving kegs across the river whisky pedlars, evidently. Lukes was wearing a buffalo overcoat, similar to the coats worn by the North West Mounted Police; and the idea, it would seem, occurred to him to play a joke on these men and give them a good scare, by pretending to be a policeman. So he bore down on them, ordering them in the name of the law to stop. They evidently did take him for a policeman, for they fled, leaving their kegs on the ice.

What was done with these kegs is not clear. But the joke turned out to be on Lukes and the other members of the party. For, a few days later, a charge of stealing whisky was laid against them, and they were summoned to appear at court at Beavermouth, to answer to the charge.

I happened to be at Donald on the day they were leaving by train for Beavermouth, and I was returning by the same train. At the station, before the train left, I fell in with Jack Little, who, as I have already noted, had his own original way of expressing himself. He had an odd grin which spoke volumes as he remarked to me, "It looks as if our worthy paymaster would sleep in a dungeon to-night." He seemed to be highly tickled that he was not in that scrape. It was just the sort of scrape it would have surprised no one to find him in.

On the train there was also Bob Woods. He amused us by his sallies of good-natured banter of the alleged law-breakers. They had, at the beginning of the journey, taken their places in the caboose. But, as the day was fairly warm, for a winter day, and the sun shone brightly, they came out and joined those of us who were in the open on a flat car. "That's right, boys," said Woods as they appeared, "take all the fresh air you can get now."

At the trial, which was by jury, the charge of stealing whisky was not pressed. But the prosecuting lawyer fought hard to get them convicted on the charge of misrepresentation, in pretending to be officers of the law. The jury, however, acquitted them, much to the delight of their friends.

At the time Armstrong called on me to take charge of the bridges nothing was said about George Ellison who as I was to learn later was my Chief on that work. So I had gone ahead and assumed full charge.

I had moved camp at least once, or possibly twice, before I met, or even knew of Ellison, and learned that it was he that held the position of engineer in charge of bridges, and that my position was just that of his assistant.

Naturally, I resented this, for it was quite different from what I had been led to believe. But I got over that feeling and carried on as I had begun Ellison notwithstanding just as if I were actually in full charge. And to this, Ellison offered no objection.

He had been with Ross before, on the Credit Valley Railway, or on other railway construction work in Ontario, of which Ross had been in charge.

He was considerably older than I was old enough, in fact, to have been my father. He was staid, and easygoing, but with a lively sense of humour. He generally kept himself around Headquarters, and it was only occasionally that he appeared at my camp. I do not remember ever getting instructions from him. It was from Ross himself that I got my instructions; which would indicate that it was I, not Ellison, whom he held responsible for the work.

In our camp, Ellison was spoken of with Youth's conception of a middle-aged person as "Old Man Ellison". He, on the other hand, when about to make some confidential remark to me, would address me as "Bone, old man". This placing of the qualifying words old man, after, instead of before the name, has an altogether different significance.


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