(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT)
MONTREAL, APRIL 18
A message by wireless telegraphy from the Carpatlhia was received at the
offices of the Grand Trunk Railway Company in Montreal this morning signed
by Mrs. Hays, wife of the President of the Grand Trunk Railway, stating that
she and her daughter are safe, and adding "no news my husband."
This message dispels the last gleam of hope which was being entertained at
the headquarters of the Grand Trunk as to the possible escape of Mr. Hays.
The above message, unfortunately, leaves little room for doubting that one
of the most distinguished of the railway organizers of the American
continent has lost his life in the disaster to the Titanic. Charles Melville
Hays was born at Rock Island, Illinois, on May 16, 1856, and was educated at
public schools and at the Rock Island High School. He began work, when 17
years of age, in the passenger department of the Atlantic and Pacific
Railway at St. Louis, Missouri, and in a short time was transferred to the
auditors' department, and subsequently to the General Superintendent's
office, where his ability and aptitude for his chosen calling soon became
manifest. In 1878, after five years of railway experience, he was appointed
secretary to the general manager of the Missouri Pacific, a position which
he retained until 1884, when he joined the Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific
Railway in a similar capacity. Two years later Mr. Hays was appointed
assistant general manager of that company, and in 1887 became general
manager of the Wabash Western. Again two years later he was appointed
general manager of the reorganized Wabash system, and in 1894 was elected a
vice-president of the company.
Mr. Hays first became associated with the Grand Trunk Railway system in
January 1896, when he succeeded Mr. L. J. Seargeant as general manager, but
relinquished this office five years later to become president of the
Southern Pacific Railway, but returned to the Grand Trunk in a few months as
second vice-president and general manager. On the retirement of Sir Charles
Rivers Wilson in October, 1909, Mr. Hays was elected president, while
retaining his position as general manager. Notwithstanding the exacting
responsibilities inseparable from the management of such a large
undertaking, Mr. Hays was connected in a directorial capacity with many
other businesses, among them being the London and Lancashire Life Assurance
Company (Canadian Board), Merchants' Bank of Canada, Royal Trust Company,
and the United States Mortgage and Trust Company. He was elected president
of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1905, and was also a member of the
Permanent Commission of the International Railway Congress.
The rise of Mr. Hays from the position of an unimportant clerkship to the
highest rank of railroad management has been attributed more to a capacity
for long and arduous labour than to special genius for railway work, though
the rapidity with which he rose to the position of general manager of the
Wabash Western would indicate the possession of more than ordinary talent.
His devotion to work left him with little time for social pleasures, and he
was reported to have had few intimate friends, but public organizations and
charitable institutions knew him as a generous supporter. Sir Wilfrid
Laurier once described Mr. Hays as "a valuable acquisition to Canada, a
thorough Canadian at heart," and among the encomiums which have been
bestowed upon him by the Press on both sides of the Atlantic was that the
president of the Grand Trunk was a splendid example of what brains, pluck,
and industry could overcome and accomplish.
One who met Mr. Hays after he succeeded Sir Charles R. Wilson said that he
had that contact with great affairs which leaves a stamp of its own upon the
men who handle great affairs. He could discuss with ease very complicated
matters of railway business. Shareholders of the Grand Trunk will remember
him, perhaps, chiefly for the improvement which he was able to effect in the
fortunes of that undertaking.