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Memoirs of Robert Dollar
Vol. 1 - Chapter Nineteen. A Journey to Great Britain and Return


Early in July, 1912, we left on a business trip to England and France. At this time I was a director in the Anglo-French China Corporation, and visited the company in Paris. While there I was astonished and surprised to receive a letter from the mayor of Falkirk, Scotland, my native city, in which he requested to know when I would be there as they had decided to confer on me, the Freedom of the Burgh, the highest honor the civil authorities can confer on one in Great Britain.

I returned to London, and, when I had finished with the business I had in hand there, I proceeded to Falkirk. While in London, the Times printed the following article which I wrote, relative to the Panama Canal.

"the panama dues and coastwise trade—

an american shipowner's views

"On account of the intense feeling that has been aroused in this country, and the absence of the proverbial British reputation for fair play, a decision having been arrived at before hearing both sides of the question, many pages have been printed, but in none have T seen the American side given. I need not give the British side, as it has been printed many times, and the public are familiar with it. The object of writing this is not for controversy, but first to give a plain statement of facts; and, second, to endeavor to promote peace and good will between the two nations. I believe that our diplomats will settle the question, but, if they fail. T would be in favor of submitting it to The Hague. It is not, however, a matter for that tribunal to decide as it is purely a domestic matter in which Great Britain is not interested.

"The vessels which will be permitted to go through the Panama Canal free of tolls will only be those engaged in the coastwise trade, and as only American vessels are per mitted to engage in this trade, then it follows that foreign nations cannot be interested, as they are prohibited from engaging ifc this trade by a law which antedates the Hav-Pauncefote Treaty bv rnanv years.

"The spirit of the treaty was that we shall not discriminate against British ships. How can there be discrimination when it is impossible for British ships to engage in this coastwise trade? The discrimination is in prohibiting British ships from engaging in coastwise trade, not in allowing American ships to go through free. American ships engaged in the foreign trade, as the law stands at present, must pay the same tolls as British ships, and according to the treaty this is right; but, strange as it may appear, the American ship owners are not directly interested in free tolls coastwise, ii is the American public, as any tolls put on will iust increase the rate of freight to that extent; and, far more important than all this, is the fact that the transcontinental railroads will also increase their tariff to the amount of the tolls, so that it is far reaching, and explains more fully the American contention that it ;s a local internal affair, and not an international one, hence the reason Mr. Taft has stated that it is not a case over which The Hague has jurisdiction.

"The railroads maintained a strong lobby in Washington all last session, headed by two of their ablest men, endeavoring to get as high tolls as possible put on coastwise ships. They were naturally not interested in rates charged on ships engaged in foreign trade. The contention has been made that by passing the coastwise ships through free t would increase the tolls on foreign ships.

"There is no expectation in America that the Canal will be an interest-paying investment for many years to come. Congress anticipated this, and they direct that 'we shall try and get tolls sufficient to pay the working expenses only. If they do that they will do well. Furthermore, this Canal is like any other commercial enterprise that must meet the world's competition. The Suez Canal is rapidly coming down in its rates in anticipation of competition. Then, there are still open the waterways that we are using now, so the United States will be compelled to make the tolls low. otherwise they will find themselves with a canal on their hands and few ships going through it; and, seeing that they are determined to make it a success, the only way this can be done is by meeting and and all competition, and by making the rate reasonable and low enough to get the traffic. Then there is talk here of boycotting America, and a member of Congress said the only way to arbitrate this question was by the sword. Verily, the fools are not all dead yet.

"I reed not go into the question of the exclusion of railroad-owned ships from passing through the Canal, as that is of local .interest only, and is necessary to prevent railroads from getting complete control of the coastwise traffic that would go through the Canal, thereby raising the rates overland. The question has often been asked, what is coastwise? It is trading between ports from which all vessels are excluded except American bottoms. The Philippine Islands trade to the United States is open to the world.

"You published a letter the other day in which your correspondent tried to show that the lumber trade of British Columbia would be ruined by free tolls. He omitted, or did not know of an important factor in this connection; that is. that there is a duty of five shillings per thousand superficial feet against Canadian lumber coming into the United States. I will give you some figures which will show that British vessels will continue to do business at the old stand; and, inasmuch as I own British and American vessels and am engaged in the timber trade, I am able to give you that data correctly, and. as this is a criterion for all other trades and commodities, it should convince British shipowners that they have nothing to fear from American ships, either coastwise or foreign.

"Timber ordinarily can be bought in British Columbia as cheap as on Puget Sound, so we have only the transportation tolls and duty to consider.

"All other commodities carried in British versus American ships will he affected in the same proportion, so 1 trust the calamity howlers who claim that British Columbia will be ruined, instead of dealing in generalities, will get down to hard facts and cold figures. I need hardly add that, after the Canal is open, any lumber we sell on the eastern seaboard of the United States will be bought in British Columbia and carried in British steamers. I dislike very much to give business secrets away, but 1 am doing -t only with the hope that an amicable understanding may be arrived at. and that good feeling and friendly relations may be re-established and that there will be a closer union between all the English-speaking people of the world, and I hope and trust that the people on both sides of the Atlantic will endeavor to bring about this mucli-to-be-desired condition."

I had given the city of Falkirk money to erect a monument and drinking fountain m the public park, in honor of Sir John de Graeme. They delayed the unveihng so that I could be present at the ceremony. This took place in the evening, to give the working people an opportunity to be. there. The Falkirk Herald had this to say of the affair:

"On Thursday evening a series of interesting and successful functions took place in Falkirk in connection with the presentation of the Freedom of the Burgh to Mr. Robert Dollar, of San Francisco, and the unveiling of a handsome granite drinking fountain which Mr. Dollar has presented to the town as a memorial to Sir John de Graeme, who was slain at the battle of Falkirk. 1298. Mr. Dollar, who is a native and benefactor of Falkirk, and who is one of San Francisco's best-known and most successful commercial men. has been touring in this country for the past month or two. Unfortunately, there was a heavy downpour of rain during the progress of the first function, namely, the unveiling of the Sir John de Graeme memorial by Mrs. Dollar. At the conclusion of this ceremony, the formal presentation of the burgh took place in the Town Hall, and afterwards there was a cake and wine banquet in the Masonic Temple."

The Burgess Ticket wrote as follows:

"At Falkirk, the twenty-ninth day of August, in the year one thousand nine hundred and twelve, which clay the Provost Magistrate and Councillors of the Burgh of Falkirk being convened, they receive and admit Robert Dollar. Esq., of San Francisco, to the liberty and freedom of an Honorary-Burgess of the Burgh of Falkirk with power to him to use and exercise the whole liberties, privileges and immunities thereto belonging, as fully and freely in all respects as any-other Honorary Burgess has used and exercised, or may use and exercise the same at any time, bygone or to come.

"Extracted from the Council records of said Burgh by

"(Signed) A. Balfour Gray, Town Clerk."

The Press said:

"honor where due''

"It must be generally acknowledged that the honor conferred on Mr. Robert Dollar, when on Thursday evening he was admitted a Free Burgess of the Burgh of Falkirk, was well merited. No one has done more to earn the gratitude of the community than Mr. Dollar. A not uncommon experience in the case of people who leave their place of birth for the purpose of pushing their fortune in other parts of the world, is their entire forgetfulness and neglect of old associations. To Mr. Dollar's credit be it said, it has been altogether different so far as he is concerned. His efforts to improve his own position have met with gratifying success. and Mr. Dollar's native town has shared in his prosperity.

"It cannot be forgotten that it was to Mr. Dollar that the people of Falkirk were first indebted for the benefit of a free library. Before the days of the Hope Street institution, Mr. Dollar had provided the means for a large supply of valuable books being obtained for the use of the community, and these formed a valuable nucleus to the now existing well-furnished establishment. In other respects the town has benefited by Mr. Dollar's munificence, and there has been frequent evidences of the warm interest he takes in it and in its various associations. Having all this in mind, it must readily be perceived that Mr Dollar had a strong claim on the gratitude of the people of Falkirk, and it was fitting that that claim should have been acknowledged in the manner it has been."

I noticed on signing the Burgess Roll that the last one to sign before me was Lord Roberts, and only three of us had received the honor in the last century. It was certainly a great surprise. The Town Hall, capable of holding some three thousand people, was filled to overflowing and there were more people outside than could get in.

We left Falkirk for Glasgow, and while in the latter city. Mr. T. L. Duff took us on an automobile trip to the West Highlands, Scotland.

This was one of the most enjoyable trips we ever had. Starting from Glasgow at 10 o'clock in the morning, we went down the Clyde through Dumbarton, along the shores of Loch Lomond. The fertile fields and shaded avenues of fine, large trees surrounding the gentlemen's places were beautiful sights. The moist, damp atmosphere makes it possible to nave lawns like velvet, impracticable in our dry California climate.

We passed the quiet, quaint village of Luss, on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond, and crossed over a divide; the scenery changed to a wild, rocky range of hills with plenty of heather in bloom. We then passed through the village of Tarbet and got as far as Craiglarich for lunch, a distance of over fifty miles. It was a very nice, neat home-like hotel. After lunch, we crossed what is called Black Mountain, attaining a considerable height, and then descended through the Pass of Glencoe. Up to this point from Craiglarich there were no inhabitants. It was a wild, dreary country of morass and rough, rocky hills. Going down the glen, the scenery was splendid, as only in this highland country can such magnificent views be found,

We passed the monument marking the place of the massacre of the Clan MacDonald by men who posed as their friends, who, after partaking of their hospitality for two weeks, fell on them and killed all they could find, but fortunately many escaped in the darkness.

At the foot of the Pass of Glencoe, on the shore of an estuary of the ocean, we stopped at a neat, comfortable hotel in the small village of Ballachulish. It was such a home-like place that we were almost persuaded to remain there for the night, but it would have left too much distance to cover the next day, so we went on. We followed the shore of Loch Linuhe for a long distance to Connel. where the motor was put on a railroad car and transported five miles, crossing the railroad bridge, to avoid ferrying. This was a good arrangement, as at the bridge the current was very swift. Instead of a locomotive there was a motor car which seated about twenty people. They make regular trips this short distance, and we were told that up to September of this year they had carried over five hundred motors. The north end of the transfer is called South Connel, a good sized village. From there we went on nine miles to Oban, where we arrived after dark.

The next morning we started back by a different route, going through the Pass of Brander. We followed the shore of Loch Awe for a considerable distance as we had to pass around the head of it.. This is a beautiful sheet of water surrounded by high hills. At the foot of the Loch, on a small island, is the ruin of a large castle. There are a number of large, fine looking estates in this vicinity.

We passed through the village of Dalmaby, then through Glen Ahray and the village of Inverary, where we stopped a few minutes and had a very pleasant talk with the genial host at the Argyle Arms, on Loch Long. We went around the head of the Loch and crossed over to the head of Loch Fyne, followed the bank for a distance, and then crossed through Glen Kinglas and over a high mountain called "Rest and Be Thankful." Any one going on foot would certainly be thankful to rest as it is a very long and steep hill. We arrived at Arrochar for lunch. Proceeding, we crossed the divide amongst the bonny blooming heather to the Cave Loch, and followed along it, crossing over to the Clyde to Kilcreggan and Cove, and then retraced our steps around the head of Cave Loch and on through Helensburgh, a large town, to Dumbarton, where we had a fine view of Dumbarton Castle and Rock.

We passed Henry Bell's Obelisk, on a promment point on the shore of the Clyde, in a very appropriate location. We crossed the Clyde at Erskine Ferry, and passed over a beautiful agricultural and picturesque country to Kilmalcolm, where we stayed with our kind host at his place called "Chelston." Thus ended one of the most pleasant trips we had ever had, during which we saw more of bonny Scotland than we had ever seen before, and will carry away many pleasant recollections of it for years to come.

While on this trip, the one thought which always came to us was the extraordinary good roads and perfect condition in which they were kept, even in the country places where not much travel could be expected, in a very marked contrast to the roads in America, but we are young in that line as yet. Another contrast that was noticeable, was the uniformly clean, neat, home-like hotels in places where they could not expect much patronage, nearly all white-washed, even the steps up to the door being as white as snow. The meals were excellent, even where visitors were not expected. The general appearance of the people showed thrift and a total absence of poverty. They have poor people no doubt, but nothing approaching the squalid poverty that we see in many countries, all of which causes us to be glad that we are able to go away with praise and thankfulness for this, our native land.

Of this trip there is little left to write except to summarize results, and when I think calmlv of what has happened during this year, the question comes to me. "Why ail these honors?"

We sailed for home on the steamer "California," from Greenock. The trip over was a pleasant one, made up of entertainments and the usual round of pleasures one finds on board ship. The last night out there was a musical entertainment at which I presided. The committee put in the program, "An Address by the Chairman," no doubt expecting I would talk on the musical program which was the subject before us. My speech was as follows:

I will say a few words on a subject that lies very near to my heart which can be called by several titles, amongst them "The Brotherhood of Man," "Preventing War" or "The Union of the Anglo-Saxon Races." It is on the latter I will speak more particularly, for what else is this than the Brotherhood of Man and the Preventing of War.

By the union of the English-speaking races, I do not m any sense refer to any political union or alliance, neither have I any fixed plan. I am quite willing to leave that to our diplomats, or to the Houses of Parliament and the Congress of the United States. What I want to impress upon you is this—that before our legislators can take any action, a majority of the people on both sides of the Atlantic must be in favor of it. Some of us in America have been quietly working to that end. They have put a small lump of leaven in the meal and it is steadily working. I was very pleased indeed to find a similar movement in Great Britain. Neither side has been made public yet. Now the subject of bringing this to your notice is to ask every one of you to become a committee of one to talk to your friends and neighbors on both sides of this ocean, and you will be surprised to find how sympathetically your appeal will be received. Does it occur to you that with the union of the English speaking race would be almost impossible? So here comes it "The Brotherhood of Man."

Do not be discouraged because each is such a small unit of mankind, but consider the effect of setting millions to thinking as we do, and see what the results would be. This matter was brought forcibly before me last winter, while I was in China endeavoring to stop the civil war then going on, and as a means to the end I thought, if the United States would recognize the New Republic, it would end it. After spending a good deal of time and money cabling to our President and Congress, Mr. Taft requested me to go and see Mr. Calhoun, in Peking. I was one thousand miles away, but I went and I totally failed to convince him. I stuck to it so hard that he took me into his confidence, and, now that it has been made public, it is no breach of confidence to tell you that he had made a firm agreement with Sir John Jordan that they would work together, and on no account would he do anything to which England would not agree. I had no argument to combat a statement like that, and while I was sorry to fail, still I told them both that it gave me the greatest pleasure to know that at last the English speaking races were temporarily united. And it is a fact that they completely controlled the situation, and, if I was not bound to secrecy, I could tell you that by that union they prevented the dismemberment of China, which would have brought on a European war. Then, in after years when the history is written, you will see plainly that China could not be divided without a quarrel amongst the European nations. America would have been out of it as she did not want a share, so with these explanations I again ask you to do your best.

On the latter end of the program you will notice we sing "God Save the King." That is proper and very good. Next comes "America," with the words "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Did it ever occur to you that all nations of the world can take this home to themselves and sing it from the heart. Then we are to finish with Burns' immortal "Auld Lang Syne." I call your attention particularly to this line. "Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind." and also to a line in another poem of his, "Should brithers be and a' that."

From these you will see that Burns, long before the time had come, had the same ideas that I expressed this evening. You all know that wherever the English language is spoken, this song is sung. At the close of a banquet in Falkirk the other night, all joined hands and sang it enthusiastically. Previous to this, the last time I heard it was in the city of Manila, at a banquet given in my honor, when the large audience ranged themselves in a double row around the room and sang it as enthusiastically as was done in Falkirk. On that occasion, on one side I clasped the hand of a resident of the Philippines, and on the other side the hand of a member of Parliament from Australia. Truly the Brotherhood of Man is getting closer.

While in New York, I called on a number of friends and attended to our business, proceeding thence to Ottaw at where we made several calls on old friends. I was intensely interested to see places where I had spent part of my boyhood and the early part of my early manhood days, and to note the great and radical changes that, have taken place.

We also went to Coulonge, sixty eight miles by rail, and from there visited a waterfall called The Chute, where a long slide carries the timber and logs past the falls. It is always a pretty sight, but the weather and the sun were just right to see a most beautiful rainbow, which is always over the falls in sunshiny weather, all of which was very interesting. and especially so to Mrs. Dollar who had spent the earlier years of her life in this vicinity. On the way going up, there used to be a pine forest, the soil of which was not considered of any value. Now it is cleared of stumps, and good farmhouses have been built on the land, which produces good crops. The people seem to be thrifty and comfortable.

Mr. George Bryson drove us to the old fort built by the Hudson Bay Company, about one hundred and twenty-six years ago. The storehouse still stands in a very fair state of preservation, but the house was burned down years ago. From this point there is a beautiful view of Coulonge Lake and the river, which we saw in all the gorgeous tints of a Canadian autumn foliage.

We then drove through a large tract of rich agricultural land, many miles in length and from two to four miles wide. This land when I was here many years ago was not considered worth anything for farming. The fallacy of that idea is shown in the present fertile, level fields and comfortable houses with good barns and plenty of grain in them. I thought I knew this country fairly well in a general way, but I must say that I did not. There is a great improvement going on in farming, and n the towns and villages, a general advancement reflected in the city of Ottawa, which has changed for the better almost beyond recognition. The change in Sussex street, which was the principal business street of the old city, the budding of the great hotel Chateau Laurier, the bridging of Sparks and Wellington streets into one. together with the new Grand Trunk depot makes this as attractive a spot as can be found in any city.

In the manufacture of lumber I saw several things that would be of benefit to lumbermen on the Pacific Coast. At New Edinburgh I saw logs going through the saw mill, from six to ten inches in diameter, many of them so crooked that if sawed in the ordinary way, the saw would cut diagonally across the log in one-half of its length, so that the lumber would be useless. By this process the hump is kept up and the saws cut parallel from end to end of the log. but, of course, the boards are crooked. Before edging them they are cut into as long lengths as the crook will permit, then they are edged, the shorts to go for boxes and the ten-foot and up into lumber. I saw Spalt machines running with horizontal bands, where short boards from slabs were being cut for box lumber five-eighths and one-half inches thick, and it was surprising to see how much they were getting. There were many labor saving devices which I had not seen. One was for sorting box lumber into lengths from twelve inches up to ten feet. It was a table one hundred feet long, with several carrier chains and openings to allow each length to drop into a large hopper under the floor, the shorter lengths dropping first; then every length five inches over its predecessor dropped into its bin. A small boy was the only person around who saw that each length was straight at one end. As all the logs were uniformly twelve, fourteen and sixteen feet, they were all using shot gun feed, and were equipped with the most modern up-to-date machinery.

They had a very economical way of working cedar. Any piece that was cut, was cut eight feet and an endless chain carried it through twin circulars, and as ties here are only sided, not squared, this one process finished the there. What was not fit for ties was cut into eighteen inches for shingles. These were manufactured on hand machines, or what we used to call: "Spalt Shingle Machines." At Rockland, they have two up-to-date mills, two railway companies have tracks in the yards, and about a mile of dockage. On the Ottawa River, when I was there, barges were loading for Burlington, Vermont, and Albany, New York. They were sawing the largest and best logs into three-inch lumber for the English market, and I was surprised to see so much good lumber coming out when the timber limits were supposed to have been cut out years ago. I found on this trip that the young growth is coming on fast and the forests are reproducing themselves. I had a practical illustration of this on a tract of timber at Coulonge. I well remember going through it forty years ago when there was not a tree over ten inches on the stump. It had just been cut into logs, and I was surprised to see plenty of logs twenty-four inches in diameter. This to a great extent explains why they are able to continue lumbering year after year over the same ground.

Through the courtesy of Senator W. C. Edwards, I visited Rockland Saw Mills in a palatial yacht. This place was known as McCalls Landing over fifty years ago, and I often called there when I was working as deckhand on the tug "Whitehall." This visit brought to mind the difference of my position in life now and at that time. I then held a position known on the Mississippi River as "a roustabout," whereas on this visit every arrangement for our comfort had been made. Returning home via Canada, where we visited friends, we went to Puget Sound and there I attended to some matters of business before proceeding to San Francisco.

I did not have the privilege of remaining home long, as on November 21st I was again on the train on my way to Washington, D. C., in behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and shipowners of the Pacific Coast, to protest against the passing of the Seaman's Bill. Shipowners from different parts of the United States were there to make a united protest. At the time t appeared as though we had won our point, but later we found our visit had been without success. I arrived back in San Francisco early in December.

I find that in this year, I travelled fourteen thousand six hundred miles by water and twenty-nine thousand four hundred miles by land, or a total of forty-four thousand miles, an average of one hundred and twenty miles a day. Needless to say I was glad and happy to be able to spend Christmas and New Year at home.

I probably cannot do better than to copy what I find in my Diary of December 31, 1912:

"Thankful to close the year after having had a successful business year and having earned money to spare, so that I was enabled to spend a considerable sum for those in need, and also to aid in the evangelization of our own country as well as of China and Japan. During this year our business has grown and expanded beyond expectations. This is especially true of our trade in China, for which we give thanks to Almighty God for it all. as without His help it never could have come about."


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