MB: living and writing the early days of parks canada

An Interminable Ode, date unknown

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I remember, I remember the place where “Parks” was born
The dirty wind was where no sun came creeping in at morn
Yet 9 never came a wink too soon,
nor brought too long a day For working under J.B.H. was less like work than play.

There were Maxwell, Byshe and Johnson and good F.H.W.
Wise A.K. and witty F.V. and quiet M.B. too.
There were piles and piles of dusty files about leases, lots and land
Way back when business was polite and memos were writ by hand

Soon in slipped Howard Courtice with a manner quiet and wary
Like “The Last of the Bison” seeking quiet sanctuary
Then Spero came and Dora B both young alert and bright
(She knew who paid their bills in Banff and who went hunting at night)

And every day as we felt our way we saw how big was the job
Something to make for Canada’s sake, and we set to work by gob!
Poor J.B. ruffled his thick brown hair (there was enough to ruffle then)
And he groaned, “I took Parks for an easy life, must I be a slave again

(A true, true work, though spoken in jest, for from that earliest day
He never had a moments rest, and never a holiday)
But he cried Gadzooks! to his waiting staff, “Ye must shoulder spade and axe
The House is full of Scotsmen, we must hit them hard with facts!
Get facts bedad (with none to be had for who knew of Park’s existence?
But a newspaper life is as good as a wife to stiffen a man’s persistence)

So he drove us forth, east, west, south, north, with noses close to the ground
Hard on the trail of the Lonesome Facts and at last one fact was found
But J.B. cried “By the Buffalo’s hide” one fact is enough for me
‘Tis a great deal more than I had of yore when I wrote politicly.

And out of that small and modest fact, with the single yeast of his mind
He fashioned a Tourist Gospel that struck those Scotsmen blind.
Till even Mr. Meighen said, “That Harkin man is a honey”
This is far less painful than taxes, let us give the lad some money!!

And once he had the stuff to spend there soon was the Heather Pamph
(Poor Mr. Knechtel down on his knees gathering sprigs at Banff
And so it went from year to year like a snowball getting bigger
And some of us lost our hair at last and some of us lost our figger
Then others came to join us, Ethel Allen, merry and pretty
And brown eyed Edith who feared at first leaving Lands was a pity
And Bertha B. with the keen, keen nose for the rare and costly book>
Getting it too if the Auditor G. at the price tag didn’t look

So many years, such happy years, under a leader kind
Broad visioned, wise and generous and tolerant of mind
Who never sought for fame or pelf, advancing others not himself!

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But history will record his share in building up a land more fair
Praising his dream of man’s release through contact with Nature’s peace
And men unborn will better be because his heart and mind could see
That though one half of us be clod, through Beauty we rise to God.

(Read to J.B. at a party given by some of the old staff of Parks.)

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Parks Canada staff [exact author(s) unknown], “An Interminable Ode, date unknown,” MB: Living and Writing the Early Years of Parks Canada, accessed September 24, 2017, http://mbwilliams.academic-news.org/items/show/51.

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