At the time when I left Toronto (Canada) for Indianapolis with our family, my oldest brother, Will, remained, as he was holding a fine business position. One day, not long after my engagement in the theatre orchestra, a letter came from Will in which he stated there was vacancy in his department which perhaps "Bert" (myself) might like to fill, going into the business and learning it from top to bottom as he himself had done. His proposition was discussed by my parents, then I was approached to find out what were my feelings in the matter. With all my hard struggles to improve myself on the cornet and become a good player running through my mind, and with all my dreaming ambitions and aspirations looming before me, it perhaps may be imagined just how the suggestion did not appeal to me. From the very start Dad had opposed my desire to become a musician, explaining many times over that a business career was far better than a berth in the music profession. He now backed that up with the proposal from my brother, saying that it was the finest opportunity in the world for me to work up into something fixed and definite: something that in the long run would pay me better than working with musicians, who very seldom rose above their own environment or ever made much money outside of their regular jobs.
I was then a boy not quite eighteen years of age and his arguments, which really were quite reasonable and logical, began to impress me favorably, particularly when he cited instances of many successful business men who had started from the bottom and risen to high positions as wealthy and influential citizens. What I did not particularly relish, however, was the idea of living away from home, especially at so great a distance as Toronto. Then come the memories of my school days in that city, and the old peasant associations with many boy friends began to present renewed attractions. This, with the thought that I could return to them as a cornetist of greater experience and much improved playing ability, began to have a favorable effect on my mind. It was because of such thoughts, coupled with my good fathers sensible suggestions, that at length I was persuaded to accept the proposition, although it nearly broke my heart to abandon the music ambitions so long cherished and laboriously built up. Possibly this was tempered a bit by a secret idea of again joining the Queen's Own Band, this time as a better cornet player.
In every boys life there comes a crisis which upsets and changes all his plans. The change had come to me, and as I thought it meant the real beginning of my life among men, I began training my notions along different lines, fired with a determination to do my best. Perhaps the hardest thing of all was that I must resign my position in the theatre, for I not only loved to play in the orchestra but liked to watch the different shows that came each week. I fought these things all out with myself, however, an prepared to enter into the change in a manner that should show my determination to make good in the enterprise, as well as prove the great respect for my fathers judgment.
The stiffest blow, that was almost a knockout, was the matter of salary. I was to start on ten dollars a month in the commercial as against fifteen dollars a week in the musical. Perhaps as a crumb of comfort, I was told that, in many cases, boys of my age worked all of the first year for nothing just to learn a business. That might have been so, yet I wondered how I should manage to live away from home on such a beggarly pittance!
I left Indianapolis for Toronto in April of 1885 to commence what I considered was to be a new life and a new career, filled with keen ambition and high hopes for the future.