Rawleigh

THE RAWLEIGH MAN IS HERE!

as told by J.J. Theroux

I was born in the U.S.A. in 1891. In 1909 the family and I came to Western Canada and settled at Jarrow, between Viking and Wainwright.

I left the Jarrow country in 1925 to come to St. Paul, crossing the North Saskatchewan River at Duvernay. I had to help put the ferry in. The ferryman's name was Theroux, too, but he was not a relative of mine. My new occupation was that of Rawleigh dealer. I drove a team of buckskins, covering about 6,000 miles a year. I would leave my St. Paul home base three times a year, making a circuit throughout the countryside, as far north and east as Cold Lake, south to the Heinsburg area, and back to St. Paul for restocking. I was not allowed to sell on the Reserves or in- the towns. Extracts were kept under lock and key. Getting lost was no worry — it simply meant meeting new potential customers.

My greatest opposition was from Watkins dealers. Once I loaded up at St. Paul and headed straight for Cold Lake, a two-day trip. As I worked my way back I arrived at the home of a man at Owlseye. It was 11:45 a.m., so he said to unhitch and stop for dinner. He was a former Watkins dealer who admitted he'd been put out of business by a Rawleigh man. He hadn't persisted in his selling, but went on to the next place, with possibly only a fifty-cent order. I sat until 2:00 p.m. and left with an order worth $14.00. My host said, "I won't charge for the dinner — you're too smart."

I carried good products and backed them up. I would never have thought of lying to my customers. Rawleigh's Healing Salve was a good seller, and I still send to a dealer in Edmonton for it. Their red liniment sold well, too.

Once when I was in the Lindbergh area I came, late in the day, to the home of a widow and her son. She hesitated to let me stay over, saying, "I don't like to keep strangers." Finally she said, "Well, alright, there's a couch in the back." They had long-straw greenfeed bales, and I fed some to my team before retiring. Later, when her son came home, he gave them some more. The result was that one of my buck­skins was sick with colic, so I decided to head for St. Paul by the shortest route. The next morning the horse died.

Clothing salesmen were going through the country, so I decided to try that line. I purchased a briefcase and got samples from Montreal. Measurements presented no pro­blem, and in 1926 or '27 I had the highest sales in men's suits for that year. At one time I also sold Wear-Ever Aluminum. I found those sales were best before Christmas.

When I was selling for Rawleigh I got my supplies through the mail. It took ten days for my order to come back. I had a small place on Main Street in St. Paul where I kept my stock, and I paid a girl $.50 a day to sell items from there. Other dealers kept their stock at their homes. The town secretary gave me a permit to sell in St. Paul. When I finally quit the business there was still some money out on the books.

I also did some ferry inspection, which had to be done three or four times a year. Once when I was replacing the second engineer I was inspecting ferry timbers at Heinsburg. That day I heard the cries of a young St. Edouard man who had gone in swimming after eating, and ultimately drowned.

At present I am retired and still living in St. Paul. I know if I was to go out selling again it would be hard, and opposi­tion would come from many sources. In those years (1925­28) I met countless people, and the memories of my exper­iences are many and varied.