From Kaslo to Cape Town
"Kaslo Contingent two men enlist at once" were the words that flashed over the wires and set the pulses of Kaslo's volunteers for service in the Transvaal tingling.
The decision as to who the two lucky men were to be, soon being settled on the occasion of the very pleasant and successful dance given by the company, preparations were made to move and on Sunday morning 22nd Oct. the writer was accorded the heartiest send-off a man could ever ask for.
From the faces at the windows to the last hearty grip on the platform Kaslo showed her good will towards and confidence in her volunteers. Sunday evening acting on telegraphic orders from Victoria it was found necessary to confer on Private Wilkins the honor of fulfilling the truth of Kipling's verse that "its special train for Atkins when the troop ship's on the tide" and at the close of an evening church parade to the Methodist Church Private Wilkins escorted by a large number of the Rifle Coy. was rushed over the K. & S. to Sandon where at 1 a.m. on Monday morning right heartily did the Kaslo boys show the people of Sandon their feelings towards their comrades for the front. After a last song, handgrip and cheers from our Queen the train pulled out for Kaslo and the would be Boer-hunters accompanied by Lieut Lewis obtained a good nights rest at the Reco and arrived in Revelstoke the next evening ready to join the coast contingent on Tuesday morning when they arrived sharp on time at 8 a.m.
After the greetings of the Revelstoke Rifle Coy. the Citizens and a parade of the school children who presented us with a large number of portable editions of our country's flag which were carried right through to Quebec, we moved eastwards under the care of Sergt. Maj. Northcote of Victoria to whose vigilant care Lieut. Lewis had consigned us. We were soon made to feel at home with the 5th Regt. boys and have never had cause to be anything but proud of being with them in A Company Tuesday afternoon the clerk of the weather joined forces with the citizens of the different tours thro' which we passed to make things brighter and the sun shone brightly. At 1.a.m. Wednesday morning 9 men got off at Calgary on leave to see friends and relatives and the twenty minutes spend there was all too short.
The strains of "Rule Brittania" followed by "The Maple Leaf" brought a few more out of the train to mingle with the hundreds assembled to cheer us on our way.
One sturdy young gunner from New Westminister came on board again smiling and said quickly "well the mother took it better than I expected." Apparently the only fear in the company is the fear of causing pain to those we leave behind. At 7.30 the next morning in glorious prairie sunshine and frosty air we were greeting by the towns band at Medicine Hat and joined by the men from Rossland and Nelson under the command of Capt. Hodgins. Another very creditable contingent.
All along the line the people turn out en masse and a band to greet us is the order whether we pass by day or night. At Winnipeg on the Thursday we were greeted by a very enthusiastic crowd and accompanied by several officers and non coms. of the Royal Canadian Dragoone including our old Instructor Sergeant Rutledge we were taken by street Ry. to the Barracks where we were entertained at a very welcome lunch the tracing air of the prairies proving a great appetizer. After lunch we were addressed by the Mayor of the City and Capt. Williams who afterwards inspected us. After being each presented with a tin of Tobacco by one of Winnipegs merchant princes we returned to the station and resumed our journey.
A un railway Journey was a very pleasant trip.
The following is the routine of each day: 5.30 a.m. Reveille, 6.40 to 7.20 breakfast in the special dinning car attached 10 to 11 parade consisting of an inspection by the captain and instruction of recruits by the non coms. Dinner 12 to 12-40 Afternoon parade 2-30 to 3-30 Tea 5-30 to 6.10 last-port at 10 and lights out 10.15.
Great credit is due the C.P.R. for the comfort we enjoyed on the trip. Our meals and sleeping accommodations were all that could be desired and all the men landed in Quebec in the best of heath and spirits.
At Fort Williams we were indeed royally entertained owing to our train being late the good people of that town were able to lavish on us the hospitality the Winnipeg half company had missed having gone two days ahead of us and passed at five in the morning.
The ladies of the town were at the station at 6 a.m. with most delicious sandwiches and excellent coffee and they kept it hot till we arrived about 10 a.m. and very good it tasted.
A speech by the mayor, cheers all round and we were off again taking with us to eat on the train a bushel basket each of delicious Ontario pears and apples.
At the Ontario towns these scenes are repeated and at 6.30 on Saturday evening we turn out for a few minutes at Ottowa. Twelve miles from Montreal we branch off to Quebec and were there at 6.30 on Sunday morning the 29th
After a short delay at the station we march through streets of Old Quebec to the historic old Citadel where we are appointed to our quarters in some unused cells. At any rate they were clean & cool and quite substantial. At 9.15 while some of us were writing letters home we were informed that the parade at 9.30 for service at the Cathedral which had been cancelled was again ordered so in fifteen minutes the five Companies quartered in the Citadel were on parade and marched to the Cathedral where they were met by the other three companies and a most impressive and enjoyable service was held attended by the Governor General and staff, Major Genl. Hutton and Officers of the Special Service Regiment.
At the conclusion of the service the order of the parade was reversed and the H Company led out of the Church yard gate. After two or three companies had passed out the crowd gathered in the rain along both sides of the streets and in the windows showed their appreciation of the appearance for marching of one company by clapping vociferously.
Where, however A Company marched out nothing short of cheers served to show their feelings. A Company was indeed the recipient of many compliments on all hands in Quebec as they compare very favorably in physique with the best of the Eastern Coy's.
Sunday afternoon our boys were busy receiving their kits and being all ready by 6 p.m. were granted leave from 7 to 12 p.m. to see friends. To the writer at any rate the few hours in the old familiar streets of his native city were very pleasant. At 10.30 Monday morning we paraded in full marching order at 11.30 we were inspected by Maj. Genl. Hutton in the old Esplanade which has witnessed so many like scenes. At noon we were inspected by is Excellency the Governor General and staff accompanied by the Rt. Hn. Sir Wilfred Laurier. After an hours march through the old city through streets thronged with thousands we arrived at the Allan Live wharf and boarded the good old "Sardinian."
The sight as we steamed away from the pier will long be remembered by all who witnessed it.
From the Citadel boomed the farewell guns from the stern of our vessel were fired rockets and from steamers on the river and piers along the shore our national airs were wafted to us by the many regimental and city bands.
Away on top of the King's Bastion on the citadel figures stood out silhouetted against the evening sky, the famous Dufferin Terrace was thronged, all the whaves down the river from the Cove to the Custom house were black with crowds of people and several steamers decorated with evergreens and flags and thronged with people accompanied us a couple miles down the river. Two days am in cold and rather foggy weather saw us well out in the Gulf and the third fourth and fifth day out proved pretty rough and gave the inexperienced an idea of the joys (?) of "a life on the ocean wave." Those who could eat were very, very, hungry and there were extra rations at nearly every table.
But again A company did well and have fewer places vacant than most of them. Up to date the 11th the weather has been glorious, we have been just quietly braving with lovely spring weather The sun is bright the breeze delicious and the water - well the blue one reads about.
Just a line to explain unfinished state of article. Homebound ship is taking our mail so have to close. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all Kaslo boys are well & happy and always thinking of you.
Pte. Walter H Moodie
A Coy. R.C.R.I.S.G.