Ordeal by Fire: Canada, 1910-1945

By Ralph Allen | Go to book overview

IV
The incomparable Sam Hughes

BORDEN heard the news of his victory in Halifax. For a dozen years he had scarcely dared turn his back on his impatient and frustrated followers. And now it must have given him a certain gentle satisfaction--and it would have been a gentle kind, for he was not a malicious man--to disappear alone and unavailable to his old home at Grand Pré beside the Bay of Fundy. Eight hundred miles away in Ottawa there grew and swelled to the edge of bursting a cloudhead of public rumor and speculation and private hope and anxiety that had hardly seen an equal since Confederation.

When Borden returned to the capital five days after the returns had been counted, it was not only the minor lobbyists and office seekers who were crowded in the corridors and anterooms leading to the country's new inner sanctum. The Prime Minister-designate heard directly from or soon heard urgently on behalf of scores of men who believed themselves deserving of cabinet or other high rank in the public service. Letters and telegrams, not all of selfless congratulation, were coming in at the rate of three or four hundred a day.

The Cabinet, of course, was the first order of business, and here there were many nice points to consider. Priority of numbers would go automatically to the true-blue Tories, but the Quebec Tories, even though everyone knew them to be anti-Laurier and Nationalist rather than pro-Borden and Conservative, had to be well represented in common equity and sense. And the rebel Grit bankers and manufacturers whose flight to the protectionist banner had so clearly contributed to Laurier's demise in Ontario must have their spokesman in the Cabinet too. Then there were wheels within the

-34-

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