Collected and transcribed by Laing MacDowell
We regret to inform you that we have learned Laing passed away last year. He was a strong supporter of the Island Register, and he will be truly missed by all who knew him.
"MACDOWELL, Charles Laing - Died peacefully at the Credit Valley Hospital after a short illness on June 25, 2010. Born on November 4, 1920 in Summerside, Prince Edward Island to Arthur and Melissa MacDowell. Enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1942. Predeceased by his wife Doreen Weeks from Sault Ste. Marie. Worked for the Bank of Nova Scotia as Bank Manager in Fort William, St. Thomas and Toronto until his retirement. Survived by his daughter Heather Loria of Long Island, NY and son Ross MacDowell of Kitchener, as well as four grandchildren Vincent, Colleen and Christina Loria and Cameron MacDowell. He enjoyed skating, curling and golfing. Volunteered with the CNIB, Masons, Scouting, Lakeshore Rehab and the Bank of Nova Scotia Pensioners club. Active on his computer composing poetry, researching genealogy and keeping in contact with many friends and family across Canada via email. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to a charity of one's choice. Luncheon to be held at Amica Retirement Home at 4620 Kimbermount Avenue, Mississauga on July 14th from 12 until 3 p.m. Visitation at Ridley's Funeral Home at 3080 Lakeshore Boulevard West, Toronto on July 15th from 12 until 2 p.m."
Published in the Toronto Star from July 9 to July 10, 2010
The following are some "Letters to the Editor" written by Laing's Grandfather, Robert Hamilton McDonald who was a well known Prohibitionist and "character" living first in St. Eleanor's, then in Summerside, P.E.I.
Published in the Pioneer Apr 13, 1886.
In listening to the able and instructive lecture given by Rev Neil McKay a short time ago in Ludlow Hall, and while referring to the bulk of Old Ocean I was tempted to suppose that he was reading upon the threshold of immensity, and the beautiful words of Wordsworth came to mind when he says: "And I have felt a presence which disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime, of something far more deeply interfused, whose dwelling is the light of setting sun and the round ocean and the living air and the blue sky, and in the mind of men a motion and a spirit that impels all thinking beings. All subjects of all thought rolling through all things"
But I was surprised to find the reverend gentleman had adopted the mist theory, and in the discussion of the subject, that our friend Mr. Bell would assert that there was no necessity for taking into consideration the interference of Providence. Why were those gentlemen allowed to bring this subject before Summerside audience and the right refusal to others, is a question I will leave for those who are in authority to answer. If I understand Mr. McKay right, he asserted that interminable ages must have been spent in the formation of the granite and other pleutonic rocks upon which the stratified rock are arranged, and that millions of years were spent in the cooling down of the original fine mist, first into an incandescent encrusted molten ball and then into the ball in which the molten incandescent core is hidden as it is now, by a cold, solid crust of the same material.
I am disposed to think that the inorganic history of the earth as given in the book of genesis, is a much less misty theory.
But it has become the fashion now-a-days to try to trace things to remote origins and show, more or less plausibly, how complex products have been evolved from beginnings held for simple and as one genius says "the egg in reality has become more complex than the chick" If the word creation is only a vague term and if we are to idealize the formation of the earth in the manner in which scientific men have arranged the phenomena offered to their senses, then let us in the name of common put into the Bible aside and adopt the idea of blind physical causation and, as Dogherty says, this is what we are coming to.
St. Eleanors, Apr. 13, 1886
Letter to the Pioneer about 1880.
I trust that you will allow me the privilege of calling to the attention of the public the deplorable condition of drunkenness, and the illegal sale of liquor in your town.
For a week or two my name has been table talk in your town, in that I am the person who gave information and named the witness against a druggist whereas I knew nothing of the case until after it was entered into court.
Now, Sir, as some of the druggists and rum suckers have threatened to give me the point of their hoof, and smash my face, I hereby give them notice that I am quite prepared for any such emergency and as they have had no just reason for abusing me hitherto I will now put them to the test by saying that some of them are mean, despicable, cowardly wretches, that they have despoiled the peace, comfort and happiness of many pleasant homes. Wives and children are being deprived of the moral and social conditions which the law aims to protect, and to whose protection they are justly entitled. They are being deprived of the moral, social and physical enjoyments of life and their hearts nearly broken by your dirty, sneaky contemptible violation of the law, and now, do you see yourselves as other see you? If not, I will at a future time again call your attention to this matter.
Again, Mr. Editor, allow me a word to some of the physicians. Two friends of mine called to spend the evening. They left between twelve and one. When neared the mill pond they came upon a horse and sleigh fast in the ditch. In the sleigh was a man sleeping and beastly drunk, a cold, bitter night and a bottle of liquor in his pocket. This was pretty near another case of manslaughter as was said by some of the papers when a man was drowned in Summerside through being drunk. Now, gentlemen who gave the certificates to this man for this health? Don’t all speak at once! If the cap doesn’t fit you don’t put it on but I am speaking to some of you, whom I am pretty well convinced the cap fits and it will take more than all the arguments that ever Dr. Roderick MacNeill could produce to make me believe you are not violating the law, a law which has placed a large amount of discretion in your hands.
Let me cite a case. A wife brings a doctor before a magistrate and the Justice asks. "Why did you give this man a certificate?" The doctor says "He had the grippe" "I think" said the Justice "you are not using the discretion the government imposed upon you, and as you are an assistant primacy cause to the continuance of drunkenness in this community I fine you twenty dollars." Do you smell a rat gentlemen? I have been personally wronged by your actions. You, the druggists and vendors, may smile at our heartache but they laugh best who laugh last.
Why is it, Mr. Editor, that a Justice can fail to attend in time to his court and a case be lost by his neglect? Why is it a judgment cannot be rendered at the proper time when a lawyer, for the sake of his fees, can plead the letter of the law and nullify the spirit of the act? Why is it that bailiffs can serve summonses on the wrong persons and yet hold their positions? Here I appeal to the Attorney General and the attention to the grand jury to look into these conditions of the people’s civil rights.
Gentlemen, if I can call you gentlemen, I am personally aggrieved, but this is a public question, and I warn you that "the art of fencing is to hit, the art of medicine is to cure, and the art of words is to gain the victory" I am not striking you in the back, nor in the dark, but where I think your armour is broken, and to that end you will find my post office address is St. Eleanors.
Letter to the Editor Written About 1880
More on Temperance
I have known the Pioneer and the editors of the Pioneer since the first paper was published, and I am not flattering or puffing you when I say that every editor (yourself included) have always done their best to raise the moral and social conditions of our people to the highest standard possible. In this instance allow me to say I am only doing my duty in speaking well of those men while they are alive, instead of doing so after they are dead. Nor can it be denied that they have been ably assisted by the pulpit, pew and all the temperance organization in our province in trying to shut up those plague spots, the rum dens, which like the smallpox, break out now and then in our midst.
But, sir, with all the weight of public sentiment in our favor in temperance reform, Legislative enactment and force of law, we are to some extent still unable to match the subtlety and hellish greed of a few physicians, druggists and vendors.
A few days ago three boys from this neighborhood, all in their teens, got a certificate from a physician and the liquor from a druggist in Summerside. One of them had to be carried home stupidly drunk, and all three were almost paralyzed from its effects, and I hear the same conditions are occurring from time to time in Kensington.
This brutal conduct on the part of physicians and druggists has got to be stopped. They, the physicians, say that the law calls upon them to grant certificates. Granted, but are they using that prudent, cautious self-control and honesty in the performance of their duty, which the government expects and the people of this province are entitle to?
There’s the rub gentlemen. Are the youth of our fair province to be debauched and demoralized because it puts more money in your pockets? Or are you unable to tell a fake request from a boy that puts up a sham trembling aspect as he goes up the steps of your office, or a sham piteous plea for a sick father, or is it that you have not got brains enough to know the symptoms of a sick man from a son? In my opinion your discernment of duty is becoming very dull and wickedly stupid and if you don’t do better the public will be very apt to place very little confidence in you.
Aristotle hands down the principle that "if a bough gets twisted too much in one direction the only thing to do to get it straight is to twist it back in the opposite direction" and gentlemen, I am going to do my share in the twisting. The gods know that I speak thus in hunger for bread, and not in thirst for revenge but, if there is not a betterment in your position, then with Tom Moore I will ask "Oh how delicious it is to hate you".
R. H. McDonald.
Notice in the Charlottetown Guardian
"Scraps of Island History from it’s first settlement ‘till 1881"
This lecture, which is entirely different to any other given in Charlottetown. will be delivered on Monday evening next, in Wright’s Hall, under the auspices of the Sons of Temperance. The lecturer, R.H. McDonald of St. Eleanors is well known as a public speaker and an enjoyable time is looked for. Admission only 10 cents.
Published in the Pioneer Nov. 15, 1886
Irish vs. English
For the past 20 years I have read with eager interest the struggle between the Irish people and the English Government and somehow my feeling have always been in favour of the Irish.
I am not an Irishman nor the descendant of Irish stock, nor yet do I always approve of the methods by which Irishmen have on many occasions appealed to public sympathy; but the indifferent manner by which the English Govt. always treated people of this Island on the land question and the treatment we received touching the fishery award, has made me feel for the Irish tenant.
In the Protestant Union of Nov. 11 the Editor has an article on the second lecture given by Mr. Justice McCarthy in Charlottetown, where he says that a portion of Mr. McCarthy’s audience would be much disappointed that, when speaking on the cause of Ireland, he did not show, and did not attempt to show, she was suffering any civil or political disabilities not incidental to other parts of the United Kingdom, and probably the whole audience was disappointed in that he (McCarthy) failed to give a definition of home rule. I admit that in this respect I was disappointed and consider his lecture below the intelligence of a Canadian audience both in Ch’town, Moncton and Montreal, but that he was trying to throw dust in the eyes of the people when he said that Irish want home rule as we have it on this Island is what I cannot believe. I know there is an undercurrent of thought clinging to this question which I will name religious prejudice, and which is the great cancer worm that mars the progress of Irish claim for home rule. Change is a necessity of life and, as an Irish patriot said, there is no finality to human progress. This expression simplifies the meaning of the Irish agitation and surely the Irishman has a right to rise to the level of his own wants. If the Editor of the Protestant Union will look up the June number of the Nineteenth Century for 1882, he will find an article from the pen of Mr. Justin McCarthy in conjunction with an article from the Marquis of Blandford which fully deserves the claim of the home rule party and answers the questions of Mr. Gladstone in the House of Commons at that date, and further I believe was the means of converting Mr. Gladstone to the Irish side of the question and causing him to bring in the bill of last session.
I am yours truly,
St. Eleanors, Nov.15, 1886.
Letter to "The Agriculturalist"
McDonald re: Confederation
Editor the Agriculturist:
Sir:- In the Montreal Star there is a column for remembrances of other days in which things said and done in the earlier periods of confederation are noted and perhaps you will allow me space to refer to some of these things that, in my estimation, are worthy of consideration.
I remember when Sir John A. MacDonald came to Charlottetown and asked us to cast our lot in, and become a partner with, the other provinces, guaranteeing that we would have six members as a basis of representation, while it was distinctly understood (as in the case of British Columbia) that this elemental basis would remain for all time. But because it was not so stated in the bond, as in the case of the other provinces, we have been forced to set aside the basic principle of our contract as null and void and render a sacrifice of a pound of flesh and blood at each decade while there was not one word mentioned about reducing our representation it being clearly understood that if our population did not increase in ratio with the other provinces our representation would remain the same for all time as in the case of British Columbia. Why then, does the Dominion Government make "fish of one and flesh of the other?"
Sir, if you look at the past actions of the Federal Government you will see that they have been the most potent factors in the depletion of our population by giving away millions of acres of land, booming the northwest at our expense with cheap farms, building railways and guaranteeing contracts with borrowed money in which every acre of land in the eastern provinces were mortgaged to make good for their growth and expansion.
I might mention other causes attributed to the Government, but they were the primary causes which produced the effect of the depletion of our population while at the same time unwittingly adding insult to injury.
Horne Locke was once asked by a foreigner how much a British subject could write treason before he would be hanged or imprisoned. In looking into the correspondence between the Dominion Government and that of Newfoundland I think they were fortunate in not entering into confederation.
They were wise in their day and generation. They got their fishery award and have kept themselves out of bondage. Had they been as foolhardy as we P. E. Islanders they might have been robbed of their fishery award as we were, while being only a member of the Confederation their population would have dwindled as ours, and most likely their representation also.
Lucky Newfoundland. We Prince Edward Islanders envy you your freedom and prosperity, while we here in the past 20 years are sunk over a million dollars in debt.
Shakespeare hit the mark when he said "Some things we would do that we should do, and sometimes we are devils to ourselves trusting to the frailty of our nature and presuming upon its changeful potency." In this instance we have been devils to ourselves by placing such potency of power into the hands of the Dominion Government, and who knows, peradventure, the time may come when as Sir Wilfrid Laurier said, we might have only one member to represent us in the parliament of Canada. Our People are tired listening to a lot of maudlin sentimental rot about representation by population. This is not the issue in question. We all know that membership is regulated by the Quebec standard, and supposing that we hitherto have been bombarding Gibraltar with boiled peas to set aside false ideals and again assault the garrison will the present government have courage enough to right this wrong and give to P. E. Islanders just conditions which she should have inherited when we became a partner in confederation? We will see what we will see, and know who’s who.
Letter to a 1912 paper:
Did it ever occur to you that a man's life is full of crosses and temptations? He comes into this world without his consent, and goes out of it against his will; and the trip between is exceedingly rocky. The rule of contraries is one of the features of the trip.
When he is little, the big girls kiss him,; when he is big the little girls kiss him. If he is poor he is a bad manager, if he is rich he is dishonest. If he needs credit he can't get it; if he is prosperous, everyone wants to do him a favour.
If he is in politics, it is for graft; if he is out of politics he is no good to his country. If he doesn't give to charity, he is a stingy cuss; if he does it is for show. If he is actively religious, he is a hypocrite; if he takes no interest in religion, he is a hardened sinner. If he gives affection, he is a soft specimen, if he cares for no one he is cold blooded If he dies young, there was a great future before him; if he lives to an old age, he missed his calling.
Clipping entitled "WILL CANADA BE LOST?" found in the papers of R. H. McDonald. From: The Montreal Daily Star August 17, 1917 OR 1918.
On North American Trade
"At present the United States is pressing Canada at two points - her splendid water powers along the international boundary and her pulp forests. As Mr. Carman puts it, "the Americans want benevolently to develop them both for us" The Taft - Fielding agreement, if it goes into effect will kill off a number of industries. It will also strip the Canadian farmer of every vestige of protection. Another effect will be to create a very considerable North and South trade. That is the purpose of the agreement.
Thousands of Canadians will adapt themselves to the new conditions and will be commercially concerned. In its continuance. To threaten reciprocity will be to threaten their pockets. "Free trade in hogs and live stock will convert Canada into a subject province of the American meat trusts": American capital will flow in to exploit Canadian natural resources and mighty financial interests will stand to see hundreds of millions from any rupture in the friendly fiscal relations of the two countries".
Quoting Mr., Carman again:
"That will be our position when some future American President proposes "free trade in everything": We shall at once say that we cannot grant it........ But Mr. Taft's successors may say- and with truth - I am sorry, I understand your position. I sympathize with it. I know we assented to the Taft-Fielding agreement. But if you do not show some disposition to meet the demands of our people, they will send to Congress, to Washington one of these days someone whom I cannot restrain and who will be instructed to tear up that agreement. So I fear you had better ward off that danger by granting "Free trade in everything." Of course I give you my word that this will not mean Annexation"
What do you think will happen then? The Farmers are likely to be for it and they are today 65% of our population.. All the interests which have established relations with the American Market will favour it."
Letter to the Editor about 1880
Sir: I think it was Sir Walter Scott who asked the question "Is there a man with soul so dead who never to himself hath said this is my own my native land" Writers of the stamp of Scott and Burns have always been keen observers of the power of blood relation, home seeking and human sympathy, which as a germ power of human instinct almost compels us to visit the place of our birth and the home of our childhood. Now is this magnetic or germ force a one-sided affair? Celebrations and side-show attractions are but a drop in the bucket to the affectionate greeting, hearty welcome and wellsprings of pleasure that spring up our of the nooks of the human heart when kindred gatherings and home visits come to the inmates of the old homestead.
I speak in reference to the farmers of this province, for no doubt 80 percent at least of those who have left their native home will find themselves directing their steps "down the vale close by the sheltering wood, where the safe retreat of health and peace their childhood’s cottage stood" and I agree with the Pioneer that an earnest effort on the part of our people should be made to make our Island attractions better known. That such action should merit the approval and assistance of every inhabitant of our province, for this, to my mind, is as necessary for the approval of our returning sons and daughters as well as strangers.
Greater credit should be given the young men who have shouldered the burden of organizing add practically putting in force the work of the Tourist Association here. Perhaps it may look presumptuous for me to say that I think they have made a mistake in that they have not elected on their board two farmers from each county to give their counsel and assistance in the general welfare of the province. But bear in mid that the farmers are as keenly alive to the aggressive and progressive future well being of their own people as that of any other class.
Our sons and daughters have left their homes for want of this aggressive and progressive position which we ought to have continued from 1880, when our population first began to decrease. Every year our children are leaving home and our farmers are in need of help, which at the present time cannot be got. Let your Association become a permanent institution taking up the board views of our province, requirements in every department of industrial, social, moral and financial positions. Tell our people how much they send out the country for fire and life insurance to the detriment of our own institutions, give the outside world a knowledge of what we are doing and are capable of doing, of the latent or productive force we have, give a statistical account of the crops and other productions, how much we import for consumption, our exports and transportation facilities, both for summer and winter, get proper ideas of the mode and manner of encouraging our tourist travel and men who want to invest their money in hotel business, or any other business, will not need a bar nor seek to repeal our prohibitive liquor laws. Men will pay cheerfully for work of this description when they will not pay willingly their taxes that are squandered by delegations.
Keep this institution at work with a main object in view and Mr. Hyndman’s verge of bankruptcy will never take place and I will pay ten dollars against one that you will do more good in one year for the increase of our population, the stability of our financial position than our legislature could do in ten, or a thousand Boards of Trade if we had them. There are thousands of patriotic and intelligent farmers who are just as ready and willing to enhance the value of our conditions as there are in the City and Towns of our province and I see no reason why they should not be called upon to work in harmony with this Association for the general good. While all clearly understand that without the condition we can never gain the position and be other than that beggars seeking for crumbs.
R. H. McDonald
Letter from the King Hiram Lodge, A.F. & A.M., Summerside, P.E.I.
June 24th, 1915
To Mrs. B. H. Godkin
The Worshipful Master, Wardens and Members of King Hiram Lodge beg leave to tender you this Letter of Condolence on the death of your husband.
For many years we have known him as a member of our Order— some of us from his earliest childhood, and as we find a man’s value to the community is in the quality of its men, to us be has shown those qualities which commended our highest respect and confidence, justly due and given him up to the time of his death.
Men of science have visioned the earth—have visioned the sun—made perfect the orbits the comets have run, and there is one undeniable fact of two great wonders, that is the starry heavens above—outside—and the moral and spiritual hopes and ideals we have within us.
In this life there are compensations for Virtue. This Godlike character shows no limits to the possibilities of doing good. To be wise is to be good; and as a Past Master Mason of our Lodge we found him ever ready to help in a time of need,
Again, dear Madam. to you as a mother (mothers are the home-builders of domestic harmony, for parenthood and the guardianship of childhood) allow us to sincerely add our sympathy to you and your family in this your day of sorrow and we will ever pray that the All Seeing Eye of the Architect of the Universe will guard and protect you in the future as in the past
Signed by R.H. McDonald
Letter to the Agriculturalist Saturday, Feb. 24, 1912
Fishery Award and Representation Matters Receive Further Attention
R.H McDonald Reviews What Has Been Done in Respect to Both These Issues and Refers to What Was Decided in Certain Provincial Cases : Island Delegations and What They Have Done at Ottawa in Respect to Our Claims.
Editor the Agriculturist:
Sir: One fine morning when the sun was shining I went to look over a field of wheat, and after looking over the field I noted two drops of dew on the leaf of a young maple tree nearby. Under a gentle breeze the big drop inclined towards the lesser and ultimately absorbed it, the two becoming. one. This was in 1873, when this province was absorbed by the Dominion Government and became a part of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
In looking over Macaulay’s works the other day, referring to the imperious nature of King James the II, he said that when the king asserted a proposition, no matter how much in error, he would make no concessions. The king said "My father made concessions and was beheaded". This was a matter of Divine right with him; and, sir, if you were to sit in the gallery of the House of Commons at Ottawa, seeing the demeanor and actions of the Governments toward the opposition you would surely come to the conclusion that they meant to give no concessions- or to put it in the words of Mr. Fielding, "You will just take when and what we choose to give you.".
Again the doctrine of Divine right. Every sensible man will admit that the arguments used by the Hon. W. W. Sullivan and the late Hon. D. Ferguson before Earl Granville had a large force of reason and consistency. They contended that if the Dominion Government determined to keep the fishery award this province was entitle to $50,000. per year in interest, as well as the other requirements of transportation facilities. The old war horse, Sir Charles Tupper, in his rejoinder was cogent and forcible in his reasoning upon condition as they existed at that time, but the parliamentary committee to which Sir Charles made reference did make some wild and absurd statement about this province and the impossibilities of vessels and transportation facilities especially when we look upon the past, present and future determination of each government as regards our transpiration facilities. It is evident there is no finality to anything and we have as yet only a very dim perception of our future possibilities. Sir Charles evaded the question before Earl Granville by stating that we were treated the same as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, being a separate colony, while as a matter of fact we were a separate colony when the award was made.
The people of this province are regarded as being both progressive and aggressive, and I remember of reading where Sir Louis Davies said that he had more trouble with Boards of Trade that any outside section of his department.
"Freedom’s battle once begun, bequeathed from bleeding sire to son, buffeted oft is every won" and hence we have a delegation at Ottawa believing, as Sullivan and Ferguson did, that we were duped out of $1,250,000 in the fishery award. Of course the idea was prevalent at the time with the Dominion Government that the sea coast and inland fisheries were their exclusive right in property and according with our agreement; but coming events casting their shadows before put the whole matter upon a different basis. About 11 years after the petition to Earl Granville, the Privy Council, referring to the Green, Holman and other provincial cases, made the following statement, namely: that there was a broad distinction between property rights and legislative jurisdiction; the latter may be vested in the Dominion Parliament without the transfer of any property rights. Whatever property rights were at the passing of the Dominion Act in 1867 possessed by the provinces remain vested in them, except such as are by any of its express enactment’s transferred to the Dominion
None of our enactments have transferred our property rights in this respect, and if you look back over the agreement signed by Donald Montgomery, president and Stanislaus Perry, speaker, you will find that this province was not disinherited from its property rights, as expressed in the British North America Act, where property and civil rights are referred to. Section 91, subsection 12 and section 92 subsection 13 show clearly our exclusive power, property and civil rights.
I ask your pardon, Mr. Editor, for "butting in" upon our reduced representation and this fishery question. To our people this subject is not an airy nothing, an individual prescience, an imagination boding forth and forms of things unknown, giving them a local habitation and a name. We are not pulling down the Union Jack or mocking at the semblance of authority. We have a right to know what the rejoinder to our claim shall be to our delegates at Ottawa. If we cannot get redress, we can at least cease to send delegates on a wild goose chase and save expenses.
But, sir, allow me again to call your attention to the Privy Council where their Lordships said whatever property rights in relation to the fisheries were previously vested in private individuals in the provinces respectively remained untouched by that enactment, whatever grants might previously have been lawfully made by the provinces in virtue of their proprietary rights could lawfully be made after the enactments came into force. (see the Hall and Myrick claim). And again, their Lordships are of the opinion that the 91st section of the British North American Act did not convey to the Dominion of Canada any property rights in relation to the fisheries. Their Lordships have already noticed the distinction which must be borne in mind between the rights of property and legislative jurisdiction; it was the latter only which was conferred under the heading "Sea Coast and Inland Fisheries".
Surely it requires no great creative genius to understand this statement of our position. While our people are confirmed in their opinion of our rights in this matter by the action of the New Brunswick Government in making a demand for licenses collected by the Dominion Government from the time of Confederation until the decision of the Privy Council and withheld from them till the present day, come what may it surely would be wise to all concerned to have a readjustment of our conditions re representation and the fishery award. As Winston Churchill said to the Ulster men: "Erase your misunderstandings and we will rise to a higher level of National Brotherhood".
R. H. McDonald.
Letter to the Editor Written About 1880
In reading the letters which have appeared in your columns from time to time with reference to the character of Mr. Braden, let Mr. R.T. Holman and Mr. Joseph Read possess their souls in patience. The original statements made by the gentlemen referred to in the last EXAMINER will be forthcoming in due time.
I have no intention of entering into a religious discussion with Mr. Read, nor will I ask for any further favors touching this subject but it looks to me as if Mr. Read was worshipping the beauty of his own brain in the grandeur of the productions he has exhibited toward his opponents. There are none of us who have got more virtue than we would have; and in the discussion between Secularist and Christianity we have only to look below the surface to see the specious sophistry by which the worst part of our lives are made to appear as the better person in their behalf. Personalities may be more willing to the less thinking than abstract argument, and of course, whatever may be said in this way needs only to be reputed by the person whose character is attacked but much is implied in the manner in which Mr. Braden has been so repeatedly assailed.
What was said by Mr. Braden touching the character of Ingersoll, to whom Mr. Read plays the role of defender of the faith or no faith, was given as an offset to the charges brought against Christ, the Apostles and adherents to the Christian system.
Mr. Watts was not assailed in a brutal manner by any Christian gentleman who spoke at his meetings, and I only wish I could say the same for the secularists towards Mr. Braden. The questions to be solved have never touched upon by any of these gentlemen, and to my mind they lie beyond the horizon of their narrow vision.
Reason and Science may be all the Providence these men want; they may presume to know all that everybody also knows; conceive themselves to be the survivals of the fittest; peer into every corner and cranny of our lives; show up their inequalities of character and intelligence; trace our pedigree and pronounce us scrubs; but the man, or men who will play the game of boycott, and who cannot master his opponent by fair, honest discussion of the questions at issue, should at least refrain from stigmatizing their opponents as tadpoles, dugouts, ignoramuses, superstitious bigots, and hypocrites.
Of course there is an imperial tone and a kind of broad humor given in making these statements; but there are some things which have a true chemical affinity; and there are some things which have not-for instance, the poison fang of a rattlesnake and the white of an egg are chemically indistinguishable yet, one is wholesome food while the other is deadly poison; and humor is all right in its place, and when it does not turn its heroes into quacks and weaklings, it is astonishing to what an extent this good humor will boycott in the one instance and run riot in the other. And I must confess I have felt its force in more ways than one, but there is a bit of Highland blood in me and I cant stand too much of it. Or course I am aware of the facts that the noise one or two persons can make in religious matters is quite out of proportion to the influence they posses and will only end as all Emerson and Holyoaks fads have ended.
No reasonable man can have any objections to listen to the great Canadian Ingersoll or any of his lesser lights, if in their descriptions of our moral and social conditions they impart information to quicken and exalt our minds, give us nobler and higher ideas of music and beauty upon which all forms of art are founded, or upon any of the problems of life to which scientific men have become so positive in their declaration, but let those gentlemen of Summerside who have so often tried to put the elephant on the back of the tortoise remember that twenty years ago the leaders of science asserted that they knew things which, as a matter of fact, they did not know.
If Mr. Braden’s character is not what it should be, so much the worse for Mr. Braden; and I fancy he is quite able to defend himself. Your Peoria letters have been a fizzle so far, and I take it to be implied in the publication of these letters, that there is an attempt to throw a slur at Christian men nearer home. But, go on, you can no more move our gravity that when we see boys ride a cock horse, (although) we may find it in our heart to embarrass them, by telling them that their stick’s a mock horse, and that they really carry what they say carries them.
R.H. McDonald, St. Eleanors Oct. 28, 1889
Letter to the P.E.I. Agriculturalist Jul 13, 1912
Greater Canada and the Peace Problem.
Rather interesting Review of a Pamphlet Bearing This Title by Well Known Writer for the Press.
Editor, The Agriculturist:
I received a pamphlet the other day by mail upon the subject of Grater Canada and the Peace Problem and having stamped on the cover those words: "Discussion in the press desired". Presuming that the author or sender wished to have a review of the pamphlet I have noted down some of its leading features for the benefit of the readers of The Agriculturist.
The Author, Robert Stein, opens up his subject with the statement that the rejection of reciprocity by Canada was a palpable proof of her devotion to the Mother Country and may prove to have been one of the happiest events in history, that is if both parties will but heed its most important lesson, and from this point of view the author says to those expansive gentlemen who are so eager to convert the nine Canadian provinces into nine American States that they cannot annex Canada except by re-annexing the whole British Empire, while to the Canadians who think that this Empires needs their support he suggests that the Empire would be forever secure if it could but annex the fragment which unwillingly broke loose 136 years ago; mutual Anglo-American re-annexation would in fact be the greatest blessing that could be bestowed on the world at the present time, by placing the globe under the control of the two most- advanced branches of the Aryan race, the Celtic and the Germanic.
After calling attention to American separation by the blundering of a narrow-minded king, he goes on to say that imperial federation has been discussed for years, that the difficulties which delay its consummation would be swept away by an Anglo-American union in the federation of the English speaking people, and the United States would then bear to Canada the same relation that Australia does now. Closer union than that is not needed. In speaking of the danger which threatens the British Empire at the present time he contends that those dangers would instantly disappear or be dissipated through the accession of the defensive of the Americans 100 millions of population and their enormous resources.
This is the basis of his article on the peace problem but he aims at a much larger union by the Anglo- American Union which would be a dominant factor to the peace of all nations, hold the rest of Europe and the east at defiance and ensure peace and goodwill for the benefit of the human family.
The result of this federation would place the English-speaking people with their dependencies and the German Empire in possession of 17,500,000 square miles and nearly one third of the earth’s surface (the earth being 55,807,667 square miles) would be five time the area of Europe, which is 3,821,233 square miles.
The author also places before his readers some very important matters which are not new to Canadians but which have been reinforced by a man who has no rooms to let in his upper story.
He calls attention to what the United States, England, Denmark and Germany should do in exchange of land, and why Canada should become possessed of Greenland, the State of Maine, and Alaska, which would place Canada within 1500 or 1600 miles nearer to Liverpool than Liverpool is to New York, and sir, should you think this matter worthy of the attention of your readers I will on some future occasion refer to the part which speaks of Greater Canada.
Letter to the Agriculturalist in the Early 1880's
Greater Canada and the Peace Problem Once More.
Mindful of the fact that you can only spare so much space to your correspondents I can only give a very partial view of the magnitude and importance of the subject of greater Canada and the peace problem. Before touching the subject the author has placed before the public allow me to say that many of us have thought that there were natural laws and impossibilities which could not be overcome but which are now quickly set aside by the possibilities of inventive genius.
Transportation facilities in Canada and the United States are and will be for many years one of he greatest problems that will engage the attention of statesmen and the most ingenious minds of this continent and in Europe. Let me draw your attention to the uses and present conditions and some future possibilities The Nile river has been dammed and the waters spread by irrigation as in Canada, New South Wales and the United States, producing abundance of food from waste lands, also the extension of railways, and the deepening of rivers for shipping. The building of he Suez canal from sea to sea has begot the Panama canal, which will stretch from ocean to ocean, and which up to the present time has cost the American government no less that $277,487,000. Other estimates are $325 Millions. While as yet the changed conditions and possibilities of trade extension are unknown, the building of the Eric Canal, the Georgian Bay Canal, the Hudson Bay Railway and the docks and wharves at Courtenay Bay N.B. which will cover 400 acres of land costing $25,000, 000 also the proposed dry dock at Quebec, at possibility a like cost, the possible extensive grain steamship traffic from Churchill or Nelson through the Hudson Straits to Liverpool, the building of a railway from Quebec to Cape St. Charles at the southern coast of Labrador and at the mouth of the Belle Isles Straits, the proposed purchase of Greenland from Denmark (as suggested by the author of Greater Canada) and which would require a telegraph system and a terminus at Cape Farewell, thereby lessening the land distance from Europe by about 1600 miles and further as far as trade is hindered by the conditions.
Natures laws are not irresistible. It is only a few years ago that the Government of Canada appointed a select committee with expert witnesses to investigate the ice conditions in the Strait of Northumberland, that is from this Province to the mainland, and the verdict was given that it was impossible to build a steamer that could cross from the mainland in the dead of winter. But, sir, last winter we had the thickest and hardest ice that we have had for many years, yet the delay throughout the whole season was only a very small fractional part of delay in the carrying of freight, mails and passengers, as compared with ten or fifteen years ago.
One of the principle features of Mr. Stein’s argument is that England should acquire Greenland and give its ownership to Canada. England in return giving Denmark say land at Wolfish Bay, and the Solomon Islands, which Denmark could exchange with Germany, more extent of land being Germany’s vital need.
This would bring about a better understanding between England and Germany, and ultimately, by a federation of the Celt-Anglican with the German nation would place four nations in alliance, viz., The British Empire, United Sates, France and Germany. Those nations by owning so much of the earth’s surface could stop all complications ending in war an as a peace problem set aside present preparation for war with a reduction of their navy of Dreadnoughts. By England giving Greenland to Canada she would then have an addition of 887,740 square miles and the union of Newfoundland 162,734.
A Celt-Anglican reunion, or union with the United States, would make Canada still greater, for a matter of convenience and therefore of equity both Maine and Alaska should belong to Canada. Maine has 28,895 square miles and Alaska 590,884 square miles Canada’s present figure is 3,745,575 square miles. By adding the above she would then have 5,356,828 square miles. A Celt-Anglican federation would then own 17,500,000 of the earth’s surface.
Of course Mr. Stein is aware of the difficulty presented in that the United Sates would not surrender those lands as long as they looked upon Canadians as foreigners, but when the United States and Canadians became constituent parts of a great. federation each would no longer be as foreigners to the other but fellow citizens.
Speaking of transportation facilities, and to prove the benefit of a short haul and passenger route by the acquisition of Greenland he has shown that the corner of Labrador is closer to Europe than any other part of this continent for steamship service. True, Newfoundland is 50 miles closer but has the disadvantage of being located on an Island, hence a railway connection with Labrador from Quebec would attract a fast steamship trans-Atlantic traffic in addition to that which seeks the Straits of Belle Isle every summer, and, in addition to that, he says, if you draw a line upon a globe connecting Mazattan, (Pacific Coast of Mexico) Fort Worth (Texas) St. Louis, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, the Straits of Belle Island, Blacksod Bay (Ireland) Dublin, London, Dover, Calais, Munich, Vienna and Constantinople, it is found to be practically an arc of a great circle approximately bisecting the commerce of Europe, or, in other words, for most of the United States and Canada the railway from Quebec to the Strait of Belle Island is what would soon be found desirable to accommodate the Greenland traffic & would also afford the quickest connection with Europe and vice versa for passengers, mail and fast freight, in time becoming he most important railway in America or on the continent.
Now sir, there are other matters of equal importance in the peace problem which should be reviewed but at present time will not permit. Trusting that this subject has been of some interest to the readers of The Agriculturist I thank you for the space given and the author for a splendid rendition of past, present and future possibilities of higher qualification and attainments for human welfare.
R. H. McDonald.
Clipping dated December 1921 from the Summerside Journal about Robert Hamilton McDonald
Mr. R.H. McDonald who on Wednesday celebrate his 88th birthday was presented with congratulatory address and $50.00 gold by the Summerside Board of Trade, of which he is the Secretary. Mr. McDonald writes as follows to the Agriculturist:
"I wish to thank you sincerely for the compliments and respect paid to me through your paper, as Secretary of the Summerside Board of Trade, and the kind words tendered me regarding my birthday, on entering my eighty-eight year of age. Having to face many difficult problems for many years, we have worked together for the increased interest and betterment of our town, and in fact for the whole p;Province, which proves the fact that belief in man’s present and future welfare there lies the dominant factor essential to human harmony and human happiness. I thank you again for your kind regards towards myself as Secretary of the Summerside Board of Trade, and I beg of you that through your paper you will allow me to express my sincere gratitude to the President Mr. LeRoy Holman, and the members of the Summerside Board of trade, for the handsome birthday gift of fifty dollars in gold, and a very kind letter stating that the Board wants me to continue the good fellowship and good service which I have hitherto given to the Board, and allow me to say the Board shall have my best services as long as I am able to attend to it. A Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous Year to all"
Clipping dated December 1921 from the Summerside Journal about Robert Hamilton McDonald
A Worth While Task
Many citizens will be interested and greatly pleased to learn that Mr. R. H. MacDonald, the veterans secretary emeritus, of the Summerside Board of Trade is now engaged in writing the reminiscences of his life for future publication. These should prove most interesting reading and prove of great value indeed as in Mr. MacDonalds lifetime of eighty-eight years spent both in Auld Scotia and in this country he has witnessed many wonderful changes- changes in fact which in those early days would not have been thought possible. These writing will include a fund of local incident and throw light on many events which otherwise would be forgotten. Mr. MacDonald is to be commended for his enterprise and all will await with anticipation the appearance in printed form of his articles.
Note: R. H. McDonald was the author of the above letters. He died in March, 1924. Here is his obituary.
The Obituary of R. H. McDonald
Mr. R.H. McDonald Has Passed Away
March 3, 1924
Summerside mourns today the loss of one of its oldest and most honored citizens in the person of Mr. Robert H. McDonald, who passed to his eternal rest about 8 o’clock on Sunday evening, thus bringing to a close a life of more than ordinary length and usefulness. Mr. McDonald was a man of high intelligence, whose active mind was well stored with knowledge and who retained all his faculties in a remarkable manner to the very last.
A native of Scotland, from which country he took his departure before he was out of his teens, his memory remained such that he could vividly portray events which occurred in his boyhood in the Old Land with a clearness as to detail as if they had only happened a few days previously. Time did not seem to affect his memory and it was a pleasure to his friends, on many an occasion, to listen to his most interesting and illuminating reminiscences of the days long past. He is gone and leaves the fragrance of a well-spent life.
Mr. McDonald had attained the ripe age of ninety years. He first saw the light of day in Glasgow, on December 15,1833, the son of Ronald and Agnes (Hamilton) McDonald, natives of that city. His paternal ancestors were natives of the Isle of Skye, Scotland, while the Hamilton's were of lowland stock.
The deceased spent his school days in Glasgow, subsequently accompanying his family, upon their removal, to Edinburgh where he learned the trade of tanner and currier.
He came to Prince Edward Island in the fall of 1852 locating at Charlottetown where he worked at his trade as tanner for a while with the late Richard Heartz and afterwards for two years with the late John L. Godkin. He then went to work with the late Ephriam Read of Summerside with whom he continued a short time and then went to St. Eleanors and engaged with the late Benjamin Darby with whom he remained for several years. Removing next to West Cape he engaged in business on his own account for five years at the end of which time he sold out and removed to St. Eleanors on the Linkletter Road where he built a tannery which he successfully conducted until 1895 conducting at the same time a general merchandise business at St. Eleanors, carrying on the two enterprises simultaneously for 27 years.
At the close of this period he sold the store and confined his attention to the cultivation of his fine farm of fifty acres, bringing it up to a good state of cultivation.
In the year 1909 he disposed of his farm at St. Eleanors and came to Summerside to live.
He was a prominent member of the Masonic Order and had the distinction up to the time of his death of being probably the oldest Mason in the Province, being a member of King Hiram Lodge since November 4, 1865.
While at St. Eleanors he served as Postmaster for a number of years and was a member of the district School Board for twenty years. In politics he was a Conservative and in his early life contested the district in the interest of his party. He had also the honor to be a member of the commission on the valuation of lands at the time the Government bought out the land-owners.
Since coming to Summerside to make his home Mr. McDonald took a very active interest in all public affairs especially in the Board of Trade of which he became Secretary in which position he rendered splendid service and was a particularly faithful servant. He continued in this capacity until only a couple of years ago, when, upon his retirement he was presented with a suitable address and life membership in the Board.
Mr. McDonald during his life was an active worker in the cause of temperance and spent much time in its advocacy, lecturing the various parts of the Province, and the influence he had in helping the weak in this way can never be estimated.
He was one of the originators of the Farmer’s Mutual Agricultural Society and for fourteen years spent much of his time and means in the furtherance of this excellent origination visiting all parts of the Island and doing much to perpetuate its prosperity. He was also one of the originators of the Mutual Agricultural Fire Insurance Company of Summerside and was a member of its Board of Directors for some years.
He also took an active part in civic affairs and was elected a member of the Water and Sewerage Commission being chairman of the Board from February 1921 to February 1923.
In April, 1862 Mr. McDonald married Miss Dorcas Boundy, who came from England with her father, William Boundy who was engaged in farming at Lot 17. She predeceased him about five years ago.
He is survived by the following children: Mrs. Fletcher Cannon and Mrs. Edward Damon of Gardener Mass.; Mrs. E.W. Thompson of Aurora Ohio; Mrs. George Lutz of Oldtown Maine; Mrs. James Squarebriggs of Miscouche PEI; Mrs A. B. Clarke of Linkletter; and Mrs. A. W. McDowell of Summerside. The sons are A. D. McDonald Cleveland Ohio, Wesley McDonald, Chicago and one sister Mrs. Margaret Machon of Murray Harbor, P.E.I. besides a large number of the grand and great grandchildren.
R.H.'s Family Bacground
Parents came from the Isle of Skye. The Hamiltons were of Lowland Scottish stock. Ronald was a carpenter and sawyer by trade and spent his entire life in his native land, dying at the age of 70 years. Father of 8 children four of whom were living in 1906. One lived in New Zealand, one in Glasgow and two on PEI.
Robert Hamilton McDonald B.Dec 15,1833 Glasgow. Spent his school days in Glasgow, subsequently accompanying his family upon their removal to Edinburgh where he learned the trade of tanner and currier. In fall of 1852 came to Prince Edward Island locating in Charlottetown. Married in Canada. We have subsequent records.
Margaret Hamilton McDonald born Glasgow Feb 21, 1854 Married (likely in Canada) Feb 14, 1881 to Henry Joseph Machon
Ronald (Junior) McDonald married Helen Gray (presumably in New Zealand)
A letter from "Nelly" in New Zealand dated Sep 5, 1897 addressed to Dear Brother & Sister(Apparently Robert Hamilton McDonald & Margaret (McDonald) Machon.) "2nd son Ronald went to New Zealand Parkvale, Carterton. Sep 6, 1897"
Extract from the letter dated Parkdale Carterton from Nelly (RH’s brother’s wife) to "Dear Brother and Sister" The letter was about their life in New Zealand and asking about Margaret’s. One para reads:"We had a letter from Agnes some moths ago telling us of her sister Jeannie’s death, of course you know that their mother died a good many years ago. Jeannie has left four children, one of them is married, one in the Navy, the rest at home with Agness. Sister Agness with all her family were well when Agnes Hamilton wrote to us
Agnes (Agness?)McDonald married to Tom Caddens