Search billions of records on






(Toronto Globe)

The agony of casting round for a good "opening sentence" increases tenfold when the subject of the story happens to be Miss Marshall Saunders. Seldom, indeed, does an interview have such a bewildering abundance of interesting material from which to select newsy tit-bits for public consumption. Fame first touched Miss Saunders many years ago, when, hardly more than a slip of a girl, she wrote "Beautiful Joe," the story of a dog, which has never failed to hold first the interest and then the affection of all its readers, big and little. Besides being the author of half a dozen other books of high merit, Miss Saunders has found time to dip into architecture, to travel, and to do what her dumb friends certainly consider her greatest work - provide sanctuary to all and sundry orphaned or sick birds and animals.


Seen against the charming background of her artistic new bungalow in Lawrence Park, Miss Saunders first gives one the impression of utter peace and serenity. Though she is quite one of the busiest persons in the world, this fine-faced woman has the gift of making her visitor feel that there is nothing so important as a leisurely chat and tea in blue cups.

Miss Saunders has a strict policy of playing no favorites where pets are concerned, with the result that all love her with the mute adoration and jealousy of their kind. If there is one that is just slightly more favored than others, however, it is "Billy Sunday," her faithful and self-appointed bodyguard, who deserves a paragraph all to himself.

Billy Sunday literally shivered and whined himself into Miss Saunder's sympathy some six years ago, when one night, returning to her hotel in New York after attending a Billy Sunday meeting, she came across a sick, bedraggled and utter desolate mongrel crouched timidly in a corner of an underground station. After searching in vain for an owner, Miss Saunders tied a handkerchief round his neck and a piece of string to the handkerchief and took him to the hotel. Next morning he was sent to the veterinary, and came back beautifully clean and carefully tended, and ever since that day he has been trotting contentedly after his beloved mistress, with rapture in his eyes.


But Billy is not the only one of Miss Saunders' "children" - as she calls them - that has a history. There is "38 Front Street," for instance. "38 Front Street" to king of the castle, in his own opinion, and Miss Saunders', for the latter aids and abets him in his false pretenses. Up in the cosy sunroom, which has been turned into a drawing room, banquet hall and bathroom for birds, there is a sight that would be pathetic if it were not so funny. A pigeon, with shabby grey wings, one of which is slightly askew, struts up and down, down and up, before a mirror, muttering to himself all the while, and every now and then turns around to peck savagely at a toy rooster, covered with feathers colorful enough to arouse envy in a peacock, let alone a poor pigeon. When he was just a tiny baby, "38 Front Street" was cruelly kicked by a bad boy, and discovered at the address, 38 Front Street, by a kind lady, who brought him to Miss Saunders for safety. But "38 Front Street," as he was afterward christened, will never be able to soar above the torrents of the Union Station after the manner of his brothers and sisters, for his broken pinion is beyond human aid. And so he preens himself before his looking-glass, happy and content.


"What does that ring mean on his leg?" the curious one asked. "Oh," replied Miss Saunders, smiling a little, "it simply means that I like my birds to feel that they are important. You know, they're only common little birds, really, but we pretend that they are aristocrats, just for fun."

Two young robins, found in starving condition near her home, are being nursed back to a healthy young birdhood in one corner of the young leafy bower, and on a diet that would make a human gasp. It is composed of mashed canary eggs, cubed fishworms, eggfood, shredded raw beefsteak and, and strangest of all, crushed blueberries. The two robins, who will be sent out to make their own way in the world as soon as they are fit, are being brought up "by hand," but the twenty-five little canaries that make pretty music in every bird's cafeteria, where they may have a choice of fresh lettuce, hempseed, raw plum and bread soaked in milk.

Across the street there is a crow's nest, and it seems there are some half a dozen little mouths to be fed. Last Sunday morning, provisions were evidently at a low ebb, for Miss Saunders tells how Mother and Father Crow came, time and time again, to the "suet" tree near the back door and took back great chunks to their starving children at the top of the pine tree.

Miss Saunders is now busy on her new book "Jimmy Goldcoast and His Friend," which will appear this fall.

(Miss Saunders was born in Milton, Queens County, and her childhood days were spent in Berwick).