Saskatchewan Gen Web Project - SASKATCHEWAN AND ITS PEOPLE by JOHN HAWKES Vol II 1924


John Hawkes Photograph

In the short span of one life, a little more than his allotted threescore years and ten, John Hawkes, official legislative librarian for the Province of Saskatchewan, has packed a store of experience and adventure that would provide a second Joseph Conrad with material for a whole shelf- full of thrilling tales. The scenes of these stories would be laid in western Canada for the most part, but they would be fully as picturesque as those of the China sea.

"A Man of Kent," Mr. Hawkes was born at Aylesford, England, Janu- ary 12, 1851. He received his education in a private school and when but a youth was bound out to an old Whig paper, the South Eastern Gazette, as a press pupil, but after four years invaluable training he broke his indentures for cause. Coming to Canada at the age of eighteen "on his own," he earned his living by good, hard, manual labor, first working on farms in Scott township, near Uxbridge, Ontario, and, later, on the grad- ing of the Toronto and Nipissing, and the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Rail- roads. In 1870 he sailed from Sarnia for Chicago, Illinois, on the Great Lakes, finding employment on the railroads under construc- tion at the time. In Michigan he was a chopper, clearing the right of way through the woods from Kalamazoo to the shore of Lake Michi- gan; then for a time was employed on the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railroad in Illinois. By degrees he worked himself down to St. Louis, where he took the steamboat for New Orleans. After spending a winter in Arkansas and Mississippi, still working at any old thing as he went along, he returned to England. He sailed from New York city in November of 1871, in an old Guion four-masted full rigged hooker called the Minnesota.

For the next thirteen years Mr. Hawkes lived the strenuous life of a journalist in his native land, during which he "stumped" Mid-Kent in support of Lord Medway, edited two of the oldest provincial papers in England, and also the Hereford Evening News. Returning to Canada, he entered the second period of his adventures, this time in western Canada, where the frontier was steadily being pushed westward by the Canadian Pacific Railway and eager settlers. He took part in all the phases of the multi-colored life of the far west. He homesteaded for six or seven years; worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Rockies in 1887 as one of "Tom McMahon's Flying Gang;" ran a well boring machine, affectionately known as the "mankiller," for a summer and two winters, and ran for the Northwest Legislature in 1888. In the fall of 1891 he rented his farm, as there was no school, but the following June found him "at loose ends" and until November of that year he was with the Blood Indians.

The decade of the '90s witnessed a rapid settlement of Saskatchewan and the increase in population called for the organization of many gov- ernmental bodies and business enterprises, all of which interested Mr. Hawkes greatly and gave him opportunity to make use of his political and journalistic experience in England. He served as first town clerk, assessor and collector of Whitewood; justice of the peace; school trustee; license inspector; vital statistics registrar; president of the Farmers' In- stitute; secretary of the Agricultural Association. In the spring of 1896, in company with E. Hopkins and William Watson of the North West Dairymen's Association, he toured the whole prairie country holding con- ventions in favor of establishing government creameries. That summer he was temporary Dominion candidate for East Assiniboia during the party mix-up. During 1896-1897 he was also busy with the organization of the Whitewood Creamery Company. In the latter year he turned his attention again to the field of journalism that has played such an unique part in his life, and leased the Whitewood Herald. Three years later he bought the Carnduff Gazette, which was the only newspaper south of the Canadian Pacific Railway between Manitoba and the foothill country. Mr. Hawkes was a government lecturer on immigration in England with headquarters at Charing Cross, London, in 1905-1906, and on his return to the Dominion was appointed first official legislative librarian for Sas- katchewan, which office he now holds. Until his appointment to office, Mr. Hawkes campaigned in practically every election, making his last political speech at Kinistino, Carrot River country, in 1908, with the late Speaker John F. Betts. He has also done much writing for the press and represented the province with the American Editors Association which toured the west in 1919, as guests of the Dominion of Canada. By organizing the Saskatchewan Traveling Library System, Mr. Hawkes initiated and organized a movement that has had far-reaching results. There are now nearly eight hundred traveling libraries sent out to rural points where they are gratefully patronized by thousands of people who would otherwise be deprived of the advantages of educational and enter- taining reading. Few men have been privileged to witness so epochal a change in the history of the Canadian west and he has contributed no unworthy share to its development. It may be added that in 1902 he edited a remarkable book entitled "Ranching with Lords and Commons," by John R. Craig, one of the great pioneer cattlemen of Southern Alberta. Bibliography follows:



Legislative Librarian

Volume III


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Re-published : Wednesday, 27-Jan-2021 17:25:02 MST


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The pages contained within this website were OCR scanned from the original books
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of the early 1900s by John Hawkes, Legislative Librarian, The vernacular, style
and spelling is all represented as OCR scanned from the 1924 publication as noted
in the complete bibliography posted above.

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