Army Officers verily believe in the aphorism that change of work is as good as a rest. When heavy campaigning at one corps had over-wearied Adjutant Lee, and it was suggested that she might conduct a party of emigrants to Canada, she hailed the opportunity with the joy of a child. To cross the ocean; to see something of the great Dominion; passing over thousands of miles of prairie, mountain, and river, and coming in touch with the throbbing cities of that great country, and all the while to be about her Master's business, was pure delight in prospect.
Captain Winifred Leal, who was at that time engaged in the Emigration Department, and had to do with the party which was committed to Adjutant Lee's charge, furnishes some reminiscences of the impression which she made upon herself, and also upon the officers of the boat upon which the party sailed. She writes: --
At that time these parties were crossing the Atlantic weekly, and sometimes three times a week. In advance of each sailing, full particulars were mailed to The Salvation Army officers who were responsible for meeting the boat at the port of landing, and also to The Salvation Army officers at the various centres throughout the Dominion, at which individual settlers were to arrive for distribution in outlying districts. Thus, no responsibility with regard to placing the newcomers upon arrival rested with the conductor, whose work it was to be spiritual adviser and friend to each member and unifier of the party as a whole, during the voyage. Whilst crossing the bridge that spans the distance between the known and unknown, hearts are tender. The mind, too, takes stock of the failures, mistakes, and successes of the past; fresh resolutions are made. It is a time propitious for the re-birth of souls. The Angel Adjutant said she felt it to be so.
Her party was an interesting one: wives and children joining husbands and fathers, who had set sail, with The Army's help, some months previously; single women and widows going to domestic service; parents whose married children in the Dominion offered them a home with them; and not the least interesting, a party of Scotch boys, aged from fourteen to seventeen. (These boys were orphans. In Edinburgh and Glasgow they had started to earn their living in the streets. Under The Army's wing they were now to be placed on Canadian farms.)
It fell to me to introduce Adjutant Lee to the members of her party, and her sympathy went out to each one of them. The Adjutant was undoubtedly nervous of her powers, when embarking upon an enterprise so new as this, and she asked if I could not accompany the sailing from Glasgow to Liverpool. A period of about twenty-four hours, as near as I can remember, was involved in the interval of embarking at Glasgow and setting sail from Liverpool. This was arranged, and three vivid impressions of this remarkable woman, whom I had not met previously, remain with me.
The first sitting of third-class passengers were seated around the table in the dining-room for their substantial meal, special tables having been allocated to the hundred or more members of the party under Salvation Army guidance. Adjutant Lee, who was standing by the tables, managed in a natural manner, and without any preliminary fuss to get the entire party on to their feet, singing,
We thank Thee, Lord, for this our food,
But more because of Jesus' blood;
Let manna to our souls be given,
The Bread of Life sent down from Heaven.
Few, if any, of the party were Salvationists, but the singing was hearty, stewards and stewardesses looking on approvingly.
During the evening the Adjutant appeared in her bonnet, with her concertina, on the third-class upper deck. She began to play an appealing Salvation Army song. Several hundred passengers gathered round and settled into a singsong. Before long this drifted most naturally -- or rather, was ably piloted -- into a pulsing meeting with the accompaniment of testimony, a solo from a young man, and an earnest, direct appeal to seek Salvation from the leader of ceremonies, who now seemed not so much completely at home as entirely oblivious of herself. Her eyes travelled searchingly from face to face, and all listened eagerly.
Third and second-class accommodation being fully booked up, the steamship company found it most convenient to give the Adjutant a berth in the first class. When the bugle sounded at seven o'clock for dinner, we were in the midst of an argument. The Adjutant declared that she must go to dinner in her bonnet; she must at once show who and what she was. I replied that if she so chose, she could have breakfast, lunch, and tea, in her bonnet, but that it would be much better to appear at dinner inconspicuously bareheaded. My argument prevailed, though she declared she would be much more comfortable in the beloved bonnet. At the close of dinner the passengers at our table presented the Adjutant with their choice buttonholes, so that she was able at once to take a bouquet of roses and carnations to her third-class passengers. I left the ship next morning at Liverpool, feeling that it would have been interesting to have accompanied the Adjutant throughout the journey.
About a year later I happened to cross on the Hesperian in charge of a party. Many Salvation Army conductors had crossed and re-crossed in that vessel since the journey of Adjutant Lee, but from the ship's officials, chief stewards and stewardesses, one name was mentioned persistently to me. There were many inquiries as to when Adjutant Lee was likely to cross again.
The effect of her influence upon the party actually under her care must have been very blessed. I was not privileged to see anything further of that. But amongst those who dwelt in the deep on that ship, it was apparent that her coming had left a streak of Salvation love and light.
Landing at Quebec, the Adjutant proceeded to Winnipeg with her party. A private tourist car was provided, and the train journey occupied four days and nights, and carried the party through wonderful scenery.
Delivering her charges, her work completed, the Adjutant gave herself up to a week or two of pure enjoyment. She was entertained at The Army Lodge for young women immigrants in Winnipeg, and from this base, visited all The Army institutions in the city. She was specially interested in the juvenile court attached to the detention home for young offenders, a government institution officered by The Salvation Army.
The splendid Grace Maternity Hospital was another centre of Army work which delighted the English visitor. Over the border into the United States went Kate Lee, and in Chicago saw The Army at work in the self- same way as elsewhere.
A Sunday evening visit to the prison court cells was a memorable experience. Standing where she and her companions could command several cells, they were able to speak to the prisoners who awaited trial next day. Some of the listeners were white, others coloured. Several of them in the private conversations which followed, expressed a desire for Salvation. One woman, whose curse had been drink, knelt with tears, and sought deliverance, as the Adjutant pointed her to God.
Back in Canada, the Adjutant plunged into a programme of meetings and the visitation of Army institutions and the prisons. Her fame as a specialist in dealing with criminals gave her an entrance and a welcome to Canadian jails. She visited the Dovercourt Prison, and conducted a meeting with two hundred long-sentence prisoners. She told of men she had known to be delivered from desperate sin, when in penitence they cried to God; and at the conclusion twenty men raised their hands as an evidence of their desire, then and there to seek Salvation. The Governor of the short- sentence prisoners sent the Adjutant an invitation, and she held two meetings at the prison with the women and with the men the day she was leaving the city. Kate Lee was struck with the Canadian prison system, and the evident aim of the whole treatment to uplift those under detention, and give them a chance of better things. She longed that the free opportunity for Army officers to help the prisoners might be extended to her own country.
A visit to Niagara was included in 'the time of her life,' as she described her overseas trip to her sister. Niagara, that mighty manifestation of natural force with its limitless possibilities in the service of man, when captured and controlled, impressed her deeply, for in her jottings book are found some vigorous notes on the harnessing of Niagara. Still, it was on the souls saved in the prisons that she dwelt as her special delight.