by J. F. AGG of Toronto
(Sometime Organist and Parish Clerk of Badsey)
Here I am! installed in this city of bustle, this city of flowers and beautiful avenues - a city, too, of dust, but, above all, a city of Chinese laundrymen! They are here, there, and everywhere. After a voyage across the Atlantic, in which we experienced all the manifold vagaries of that somewhat unstable ocean, we arrived safely at the port of Halifax. Having passed through the hands of the immigration officials, who, by the way, showed us every civility, we were set at liberty on the shores of this vast, and certainly interesting continent of America, to find, what? our fortunes staring us in the face? No. What then? Why, a vast and never ending vista of snow - but then it was Canada.
Before boarding the Grand Trunk train for Toronto we spent about four hours in Halifax, getting a few things for the railway journey which was to last about 48 hours. We reached the old city of Quebec at midnight, and spent about an hour there. We had a look round, but, being night, we could not see much, with the exception of the aforementioned snow intermixed with a few Frenchmen.
It was also dark when we passed through Montreal. From Montreal onwards the snow gradually disappeared, and on arriving at Toronto we found very little left.
The trains on the Grand Trunk travel at a great rate and the stops are few and far between. They are well heated, clean and provided with a kitchen or restaurant where tea and other necessaries can be bought, but it is advisable to carry some provisions, with an enamel tea-pot, cups, spoons, knives, forks, etc., otherwise a considerable reduction in capital will be the result. All the trains in Canada are provided with a bell, about the size and tone of the bell at Wickhamford Church. They are also provided with an instrument of torture something between the foghorn of an Atlantic liner and the bellow of a mad bull. The bell rings on approaching stations or crossings, and the bull-foghorn apparatus performs whenever it feels inclined. The engines are colossal in size and height and the very embodiment of strength. The railway-stations are very dangerous owing to the general use of level-crossings.
There are many points of beauty in this city. Lake Ontario, a grand expanse of water, washes the south side of it, and the depth is such that quite large vessels from the upper lakes are able to anchor close to the docks.
The change since I came in the appearance of the city is marvellous. There was not a blade of green to be seen when I arrived, while now the flowers in the parks and gardens are a glorious sight. The avenues too, such as Spadina Avenue and Avenue Road, are very beautiful.
There are some very fine buildings here and it is a very busy city. I am a motor-man on one of the electric cars (of which there are about 1,000 here), having got through my training in two weeks. There is plenty of demand for workpeople both here and 'up west' and no one need be idle. The power for our cars comes from Niagara. When there are thunderstorms the power is occasionally 'off' and all cars are at a standstill until it returns, which is generally in a few minutes but often in as many seconds, The city is also provided with light from the same source and the same thing happens with that sometimes.
I should not compare Toronto with any of our great English cities; it is not so substantial all round, everything being done in too much of a hurry to last long, with, of course, a few exceptions as mentioned above. The ladies dress extremely smartly but have pale complexions as a rule, and the men are the same in both respects. The air is dry and the climate healthy and this is altogether a great country.
Notes from October 1913 Parish Magazine
Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Agg's many friends will be pleased to hear that Mrs. Agg and her family reached Toronto in safety on September 4th after a fairly good voyage across the Atlantic. Mr. Agg has taken a house in a locality which his children may find dull unless they have a taste for geometry and vulgar fractions. His address is 640½, Euclid Avenue. - [Ed.]