Leslie Payne (1892-1975) Chapter 2: First Canadian Sojourn
Charles Leslie Lionel Payne
Chapter 2:  First Canadian Sojourn (1912-1914)

The following is extracted from a letter to CBP dated 17 Nov 1951:  "I left home for Canada when I was twenty," so presumably Leslie Payne went to Canada in about 1912.  Initially he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR), "planting trees in railway cuttings as snow breaks", and we have a photograph of him, taken by his friend Ed Pye, from this period (at right).  There are at least two prints of this photo: one accompanied a letter from Ed Pye in 1936, while another - the size is slightly different, although it is obviously the same shot - is inscribed on the front, “Best wishes from Les”, and on the reverse, "May 24.13".  Presumably it was sent by Leslie to either Con or his Uncle Hallam.  There were three other photos pertaining to this period in a batch accompanying Ed Pye's 1936 letter:  (1) a shot of Chaplin town and railway yards, with the alkali lake in the background (below left), taken from a high vantage point, perhaps a water tower; (2) “The cook and me on velocipede” – two figures sitting on what appears to be a railway hand-car (below right) (compare with photo of 'jigger' © Provincial Archives of Manitoba); 
and (3) “Cowpunchers bustin’ broncs – 24th May, wasn’t it” (at left) – presumably some sort of rodeo show.

The town of Chaplin was a coal and water point for the CPR, and never had a population of more than a few hundred.  A bridge – at that time the longest in the country – had been built over Chaplin Lake the previous year.

There was obviously plenty to do, as Ed Pye reminisces in 1936: “What a flood of memories flashed back over the years ; 1912 [annotated by CLLP to “?1913”] at Chaplin – fixing a cultivator – The little old Scotsman who flunked his job and frequently was under the 'influence' – The Mountie coming down to my abode for my attempted murder of a Galecian [sic].  Do you remember the two Cookees (real wise birds) who pushed a wheelbarrow load of flour over to the General Store and returned with new overalls ; mitts and boots ? The alkali lake to the south – Our swimming expedition to Valjean when we rode down the track per handcar and got eaten to death by mosquitoes and ran along in our bear pelts donning our shirts as we ran.” And further in another letter, written in 1939: “… do you recall getting brew by the pailfull at Chaplin?”
Then there is a series of three photographs, all of which must have been taken more or less contemporaneously, and which may also relate to this period.  In the first (at left), possibly a studio portrait, although there does not appear to be a studio mark, Leslie is seated on a high stool, with a young man standing next to him; both are dressed in suits.  The second shows Leslie with the same young man, although they are standing outside in a wood, shaking hands (above).  The third was obviously taken on the same occasion and location as the second, but Leslie is alone and seated on a boulder, with hat on and pipe in his mouth (at right).  In Ed Pye's 1936 letter to CLLP, he also says:
'I forget the name of your erstwhile "sidekick" who homesteaded at Piapot (or was it Maple Creek ?).'
Perhaps the gentleman in the photos above was Leslie's "sidekick", but if so, what was his name?
In February 1914, when his grandmother died in England, Leslie was living at Swift Current, Saskatchewan.  This was another CPR bridge and water depot, although in 1914 it started to grow into one of the first of the province’s cities.  It's a pity that Leslie never annotated the CPR company map, dated 1st January 1911, that he brought back with him from Canada, but it shows the railroads between Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton in some detail (above). This must have been his and Ed Pye's "old stamping ground" - Chaplin, Maple Creek, Piapot and Swift Current are all shown, being stations on the line between Regina, Saskatchewan, and Calgary, Alberta.  CBP reports: "I remember his speaking of Swift Current and Medicine Hat in the C.P.R. context"
At left is a hand-tinted photographic postcard (Courtesy & Copyright of the Provinicial Archives of Manitoba) of the CPR Railway Station in Winnipeg c. 1909, showing more or less how it must have looked when CLLP arrived there in 1914.
Leslie probably moved back east to Winnipeg, in the adjacent province of Manitoba, soon after February 1914.  In a notebook used at around that time he showed his address as 36c Broadway, Winnipeg, located not far from Timothy Eaton's Department Store at 320 Portage Avenue, where he worked as grocer's clerk until his enlistment in November 1914.
The last four images shown are also courtesy and Copyright of the Provincial Archives of Manitoba.  Broadway West, circa 1910, is shown  at top left.  The then fairly new department store built by Timothy Eaton on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg is shown at top right c. 1910, and in a more general view looking down Portage Avenue (above left).  Above right is what must have been a fairly typical daily sight for Leslie, the arrival of goods ready for off-loading at the rear of the Eaton's building, also c. 1910.

Chapter 3: Enlistment in the C.E.F. (Winter 1914/1915) 

Return to the Contents Page
© 2000, 2001 Charles Bernard Payne & Brett Payne  All Rights Reserved