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Nov 8 1902


The Montreal Herald, Saturday, November 8, 1902

Rural Mail Delivery

Under the able administration of Sir William Mulock, not only has penny postage become an accomplished fact, but in spite of the initial reduction in the revenue which it involved, the annual deficit in the Post-Office department has been gradually decreased until the figures for the last fiscal year announce the glorious triumph of a surplus. We may now naturally expect to find the Postmaster-General seeking fresh fields of conquest. The suggestions already made as to the direction, in which the next advance should be, include, the nationalization of the telegraph, of the telephone and of the express systems. All these things must come, and that within a few years too, and when they do they will naturally fall within the province of the Postmaster-General. They, however, involve so many complications and difficulties, that it is very doubtful if actual steps can be taken toward any of them just now. But there is another matter, which not only permits of but demands immediate consideration. That is the question of the rural free delivery of mail. Rural mail delivery, the farm telephone, and consolidated schools are the three cardinal points, which enter into the improvement of the conditions of the Canadian farmer's life to-day. They are the things best calculated to make the rural resident more intelligent and to make his position more congenial.

In a country whose most immediate source of wealth lies in its farmlands, it is of the utmost importance that everything should be done to make the pursuit of agriculture as attractive as possible. It is essential to the prosperity of Canada that all practicable measures should be taken to make the country boy stay on the farm and to induce the city-bred boy to go to it. In order that any occupation may attract men into it, it is necessary that it should appear not only profitable, but congenial. Now the average city man or boy is convinced that there is money in farming, if properly carried on; and he knows that there are schools of agriculture where he can get training in those lines in which the circumstances of his bringing up have left him deficient. I believe that thousands of young men are dissuaded from entering an agricultural life not so much by their aversion to hard manual labor, as by a dread of the isolation which it involves. The being in daily contact and communication with their fellows and in fact with the whole outside world has, by their bringing up, become an integral part of their nature. Yet I do believe that a very large percentage of them would be willing to forego the pleasure of actual contact if the facilities for regular communication were afforded them. But the idea of being compelled to go for days at a time without seeing a daily paper to know whether the coal strike is ended, of a Minister of Public Works appointed, just because there has not been time and hitch up and drive to the post office for the mail, is a condition of life too horrible to contemplate.

What is more, a system of rural mail delivery would not only benefit the farmer, but the merchant as well. For the country resident often gets along without things which he really needs, or at any rate would feel that he could easily afford, just because he has not the time to go for them, and no other way of getting them within a reasonable time. So that a rural mall delivery would greatly augment the extensive mail order business, which the alluring illustrated catalogues of many large houses have already built up; and the local tradesman could use the postman as a messenger boy.

As it is in Kansas

Before closing, I would like to point out that the picture of this Elysian condition of things is not simply a "pipe-dream" of my own or anybody else's, but really exists in various parts of the United States, where rural mail delivery is already an accomplished fact. In Kansas, for instance, four years ago there were only three rural delivery routes in the state, and they did not amount to anything. At that time the Post-Office Department determined to give the free delivery of mails in the country a thorough test. To-day there is scarcely a county in the state except the cattle range country of the far west, that has not from three to twenty routes. In some counties practically every farmer has his mail delivered to him daily, even though he lives ten miles from his post-office; and those districts where it is not already in operation are clamoring for an extension of the service. Under this new system a farmer, without leaving his farm, can buy a money order and send it anywhere for anything he wants. The system has been a wonderful help to the mail order business. The rural mail-carrier has brought the farmer into the habit of reading and writing more than formerly. A few years ago the writing of a letter also involved the task of taking it to the post-office, and in a busy season the trip was not usually more than once a week. But now, when the letter is written, it has only to be placed in the box at the farmer's gate and for two cents the Government does the rest. Formerly the farmer's reading was largely confined to his local paper and the weekly edition of some metropolitan daily. Now the weekly edition is no longer enough for him; he has learned the value of the daily newspaper. He wants his market reports every day, and so with the assistance of his farm telephone is in a position to market his produce to the very best advantage.

It is a fact that a majority of the Kansas farmers who are served by rural mail delivery are subscribers to one or more daily newspapers. The farmer takes more interest, too, in agricultural papers, and from them he gets new ideas which enable him to make his farm more profitable.

The Pathos of the Posthumous

There is something pathetic about any posthumous publication, but this is peculiarly true, I think, when the work is a bright, breezy, up-to-date story. If it is a historical work dealing with the dead past anyway, or a discussion of some other subject equally old, the casual reader does not give much thought to the existence or non-existence of the author. But to read a tale of to-day, which so overflows with the exuberance of life and youth and vigor, and breathes such an air of recentness, that one almost feels as if the things he reads of were actually taking place before his eyes, and then to turn to the title page and read the name of a man the recollection of whose tragic death is still fresh in the mind, sends a curious sort of feeling through one.

That was the feeling which came to me the other evening as I read a pretty little Christmas story, by Paul Leicester Ford entitled, "Wanted, a Chaperon," which has just been published in Toronto by the Copp, Clark Company. As I read the cleverly-told tale of the charmingly ingenuous country girl, who missed her first dinner party on a Christmas Eve because her aunt's coachman put her down at the wrong door, which a driving storm and a scarcity of vehicles prevented her from leaving, until a romance had satisfactorily developed, and as I looked at the warmly-tinted illustration and the dainty binding, it was hard to realize that the little humpbacked writer would delight us with no more Christmas stories.

Curious Pedagogic Requisites

It would appear from the revelations made in the discussion of the Educational Bill in the British House of Commons that the accomplishments which are required of schoolmasters, and, stranger still, of schoolmasters' wives, in some districts of England are about as varied and as unreasonable as those proverbially expected in some places of ministers and their wives.

At a recent session, when the question of who should appoint the teachers came up, a certain Mr. Macnamara, as an illustration of the danger that might arise if the appointment of the teacher were left in the hands of clerical managers, quoted a letter which a schoolmaster had received from a parish clergyman with regard to his appointment to a village school. It was a long letter, detailing all the many qualifications, which were expected of the schoolmaster and of his wife. The schoolmaster was asked whether he could play the organ and what was the quality of his voice, and it was impressed upon him that in certain parts of the church service he must play with feeling. He was also asked of what his family consisted, and whether his wife had been accustomed to teach sewing, and what she did about this when she was laid up. It was further impressed upon him twice in the course of the letter that both he and his wife must be early communicants. After reading out this letter, amid frequent peals of laughter from the Radical benches, Mr. Macnamara dramatically asked "Where do the children come in here?"

Growing New Finger-Tips

An interesting account of how lost finger-tips are grown comes from Pasadena, California. It is said that Dr. George E. Abbott, of that town, has repeatedly induced a growth of half an inch on the stump of a finger that has been crushed or amputated.

The second patient came under treatment, runs the account, two weeks after the accident. Dr. Abbott found that more than half an inch of the right index finger had been crushed off. The entire nail and apparently all of the matrix were crushed; there was no nail whatsoever, a little callous ridge alone showing an abortive attempt to redevelop the nail; the stump had completely healed except at the extremity, where there was a mass of exuberant granulations about an eighth of an inch in diameter. The same treatment was followed as in previous case, with the result that the finger was advanced fully half an inch.

A series of dissections were performed so that a crown was formed round the stump on which the growth was to be induced. The account proceeds: "Into this crown, in close contact with the denuded end of the finger was placed the sponge graft into which the granulations were to grow. The sponge was held in place by adhesive plaster, bandaged with gauze; it was kept constantly wet with warm normal salt solution. The sponge was syringed every day with a mixture consisting of a solution of peroxide of hydrogen, saturated solution of boric acid and sterilized warm water. Every three days the adhesive strips and the old sponge were removed and replaced by new."


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The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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