CHAPTER 55. Toronto

Toronto, or Tronto as so many people call it, was my next agency to visit.

Lois and Elizabeth had left Detroit to catch the boat at Montreal the day before. I was very disappointed that I could not get back from the factory in time to see them off on the train at 5 p.m. but I had to be content with saying goodbye when I left the hotel at 8 o’clock in the morning. I rang up Lo at 4.30 and she was feeling the parting rather badly.

I later learnt in a letter she wrote on the boat that when she got to the station she found the train was delayed nearly an hour and so that she might have a last word with me she rang the Factory. Unfortunately the telephone operator did not know where I was and after trying several departments she had to say she could not find me.

Lo had been a wonderful companion on the trip and Elizabeth just made the party a nice size. During the last couple of days they were both showing signs of home sickness, which of course I could not notice. When I reached the hotel after their departure it made us feel lonely and that our trip was nearing the end.

To-night there was our final packing to complete (the cabin trunks had already been checked through to the boat) and then we would go aboard the train for Toronto. Our sleeper was to be picked up by the express from Chicago at 3 in the morning, but we were permitted to go on board at ten p.m. It was about eleven when we reached the train as Tom Turvey and his wife arrived at the hotel and took us for a last drive after we had dinner.

We slept soundly before the train started and even when we were put on to the other train it was all done so quietly that we did not wake.

World Tour 1938
Royal York Hotel where we stayed in Toronto

We arrived at Toronto at 8 o’clock on the Saturday morning and walked across the road to the Royal Hotel. This is another Canadian Pacific Hotel and is the largest in the British Empire. I was told that they accommodate over 3,000 people.

After getting settled I went down to the Burroughs office, which is only a few doors away. It is on the ground floor and has the best window display I have seen, even better than the new premises of New York. The Agency Manager, J.L. Rapmund, is an Australian and left that country sixteen years ago. He obtained a position as salesman and in a very short time proved his ability and was appointed Agency Manager. He was afterwards taken into the Head Office, where he did excellent work for several years, holding various positions until he was again sent into the field to finally take charge of Toronto, which is Canada’s leading agency.

As soon as I spoke to him I recognised the Australian in his voice. The 16 years in America has, of course, given time for the adoption of some very pleasant Americanisms, but when compared with the other Burroughs men I had met he was undoubtedly Australian. I told him I would not disturb his week-end, but that carried no weight with him. He was due to play golf on both Saturday and Sunday, but that was postponed and he gave up the whole week-end to me. First we were taken in the afternoon to see the Canadian National Exhibition.

This is an annual affair and after the Glasgow Exhibition I did not care whether I saw it or not. However, Mr. Rapmund assured me it was well worth seeing and we went. We were agreeably surprised. It is definitely claimed to be the world’s largest annual exhibition. The show covers 350 acres of land extending over 1½ miles along the shore of Lake Ontario. The floor display for exhibitions is 2,250,000 square feet, while the area of the live stock pavilion is 24½ acres. This pavilion is the largest exhibition building in the world. There are 12 miles of paved streets in the exhibition grounds. On the day that we attended there were 230,000 people through the turnstiles.

These are just some of the figure facts to give you some idea of the size of the exhibition. It made Glasgow look silly in many ways. Firstly, there are 21,000,000 dollars invested in land and permanent buildings. Secondly, the show we saw was the diamond jubilee and it can be imagined that after 60 years of work and organisation the exhibition is a good one.

We walked around and saw some of the shows, but Mr. Rapmund and I spent practically all the time talking about Burroughs. Then we came to the office equipment pavilion. He left me here as I wanted to have a demonstration of the opposition machines. For the next hour I was busy with these and eventually came out with some interesting literature. After tea we took our seats in the grand stand which holds 25,000 people to see the special evening entertainment. As to-day was Warriors Day it took the form of a military tattoo very much like what we had seen at Aldershot, but on a smaller scale. It was 11.30 before it was over and then we had to find the car amongst the many thousands of people and cars making their way homewards.

World Tour 1938
The University at Toronto

The next day being Sunday we were taken for a drive into the country. The Rapmund’s have one son 11 years of age and a very intelligent boy. We visited St. Andrews’ College where he attends as a boarder. A modern college with everything possible for the comfort, health and education of the boys.

World Tour 1938
a yacht at the Royal Yacht Club anchorage

In the evening we returned to the city and across the lake to the club house of the Canadian Royal Yacht Club, of which Mr. Rapmund is a member, although he does not do any sailing. Here the millionaires and important business men meet socially during the summer months, but as the lake is frozen it is closed in the winter time. We had dinner and then took a walk along the shores of the lake to watch the boats returning in the setting sun.

At ten o’clock we caught the ferry boat back to the city and felt that we had spent a most enjoyable day. Mr. Rapmund was intensely interested in us as we came from his native land. He told me in no uncertain language that he hoped and expected to get back to Australia some time in the future. I wonder what position he will hold in the Burroughs organisation when he arrives.

The next day was spent in the office and seeing installations. At night the Rapmunds accepted my invitation to a farewell dinner party at the hotel. Afterwards we went out to their home as they were anxious for us to see it. As there are only the two of them they have apartments very much like those of our General Manager, except that here they have to make provision for the winter by constructing large boilers in the basement for central heating.

There were three large buildings under the same management and connected by tunnels underground. The garage in the basement of the building in which Mr. Rapmund lived had 47 cars in it when I was shown through. These flats were some of the best to be obtained in Toronto.

World Tour 1938
Rozie on steps of Town Hall Toronto

The city itself is well laid out, but cannot compare with some of the U.S.A. Cities. It has a population of 880,000 and of course many skyscrapers. In the winter, which is the longest season of the year, provision has to be made for the freezing of everything. Wherever there is an incline in the streets it has to be laid down in rough blocks of stone so that the cars can grip in the snow. The flowers in the gardens are dug up and either put into sheds and glass houses or allowed to die. As soon as the springtime comes the flowers which have been grown under cover are brought out and planted probably only a couple of weeks before they bloom.

We have no idea of the preparations which are necessary for the winter because we do not experience it in our land. Neither can we conceive the patience required by the people while waiting for the sun to shine once more. Is it any wonder that a man used to the sunshine of Australia wants to return there at the first opportunity, notwithstanding that his wife came from England?

The Tuesday was set aside for banks and large deparmental houses. Eatons is the largest departmental store in Toronto and Mr. Rapmund and I spent an hour going through it, but of course we only saw a very small part in that time.

While I was being given an opportunity to see the Burroughs work on the Monday and Tuesday Mrs. Rapmund took Rozie out to see the stores and for a drive to Scarborough on the Tuesday. She was exceedingly kind and we both seemed to make friends with them very quickly.

We were all sorry when Tuesday evening came and we had to say goodbye.

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