Robert Mackenzie.

America. A history

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These increased facilities of transport have produced their expected result. A large inflow of settlers began two or three years ago, and continues year by year to increase. Many thousand immigrants came to the Winnipeg valley in 1877-78. Up to the present time over four million acres of rich wheat-lands have been taken up – an area capable of adding to the supply of human food a quantity almost equal to the entire British import of wheat. The new settlers are, for the most part, experienced farmers, who have been attracted hither by the superior advantages of the soil. Some of them come from Europe, but a larger number come from the old Canadian provinces and from those States of the Union which lie near the frontier. Most of them are men who have sold the lands which they formerly owned, and come with capital sufficient to provide the most approved agricultural appliances. The price for which land can be obtained is inconsiderable; and while the average holding does not exceed two hundred acres, many persons have acquired large tracts.

The rapid settlement of this central territory of Canada is one of the great social and political factors of the future for Canada and for Europe. The development of the vast resources of Manitoba must hasten the progress of the Dominion to wealth and consideration. To the growers of food on the limited and highly-rented fields of Europe it furnishes reasonable occasion for anxiety. To those who are not producers, but only consumers, it gives, in stronger terms than it has ever previously been given, the acceptable assurance that the era of famine lies far behind – that the human family, for many generations to come, will enjoy the blessing of abundant and low-priced food.

Between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific there lies a vast tract of fertile land, possessing an area equal to six times that of England and Wales. This is British Columbia – the latest-born member of the confederation, which it entered only in 1871. The waters of the Pacific exert upon its climate the same softening influence which is carried by the Gulf Stream to corresponding latitudes in Europe, and the average temperature of Columbia does not differ materially from that of England. Gold is found in the sands of the rivers which flow down from the Rocky Mountains; coal in abundance lies near the surface; large tracts are covered with pine forests, whose trees attain unusual size;2222
  In presence of Lord Dufferin a pine tree was felled whose height was two hundred and fifty feet, and whose rings gave evidence of an age which dated from the reign of Edward IV.

many islands stud the placid waters which wash the western shores of the province; many navigable inlets sweep far into the interior – deep into forests, for the transport of whose timber they provide ample convenience.

In the streams and on the coasts there is an extraordinary abundance of fish; on the banks of the Fraser River the English miner and the Indian fisherman may be seen side by side pursuing their avocations with success. The wealth of Columbia secures for her a prosperous future; but as yet her development has only begun. Her population is about twelve thousand, besides thirty thousand Indians. Her great pine forests have yet scarcely heard the sound of the axe; her rich valleys lie untilled; her coal and iron wait the coming of the strong arms which are to draw forth their treasures; even her tempting gold-fields are cultivated but slightly. Columbia must become the home of a numerous and thriving population, but in the meantime her progress is delayed by her remoteness and her inaccessibility.

Columbia herself feels deeply this temporary frustration of her destiny. Her recent political history has been in large measure the history of a grievance. 1871 A.D. When she entered the Confederation, the Dominion Government engaged that in two years there should be commenced, and in ten years there should be completed, the construction of a railway to connect the sea-board of Columbia with the railway system of Canada. In that time of universal inflation such engagements were contracted lightly. A little later, when cool reflection supervened, it was perceived that the undertaking was too vast for the time allowed. Canada took no action beyond the ordering of surveys; Columbia, in her isolation, complained loudly of the faithlessness of her sisters. The impracticable contract was reviewed, and a fresh engagement was given to the effect that the work should begin so soon as surveys could be made, and should reach completion in sixteen years. 1874 A.D. The work is now in progress; and Columbia, not without impatience and some feeling of wrong, has consented to postpone the opening of that era of prosperity which she full surely knows to be in store.

1881 A.D. [With a view to the prospective development of the Hudson Bay route, a charter was recently obtained for the construction of a railway, to follow the line of the Nelson River, from Norway House on Lake Winnipeg to York Factory on Hudson Bay, thus connecting the over-sea navigation available from the latter point with steam-boat lines plying inland from the former. There would still, however, seem to be considerable diversity of opinion among people on the spot, as to whether the route in question can successfully compete, at least for a good many years to come, with the facilities which will soon be offered by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. The line now being built by that enterprising body of capitalists has already been carried about 250 miles west of Winnipeg, and is expected, by the close of next year, to have reached the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. At present, there is an outlet from Manitoba, by rail, to Duluth on Lake Superior and to Chicago on Lake Michigan; but the opening, which cannot now be long delayed, of the Canadian Pacific line between Winnipeg and the west end of the former lake, in conjunction with the enlargement of the Welland Canal, so as to enable large vessels to pass the Falls of Niagara, will provide a new rail and water route to Montreal, by which, it is believed, wheat may be carried that distance for something less than the nine shillings and sixpence per quarter which it now costs by Duluth. The construction of the railway along the north side of Lake Superior, which the Canadian Pacific Company is taken bound to complete within ten years, will ultimately afford all-rail communication right through to the eastern sea-board: and it remains to be seen whether, with such means of transit at command, any considerable proportion of traffic will follow a route which, it is alleged, can only be depended upon for three months in the year, and which, in the opinion of some seafaring men, may occasionally be found difficult to work even during that period from the presence of ice in Hudson Strait. On the other hand, there comes, of course, the consideration that, if the development of the north-west should answer the expectations generally entertained, there may by-and-by be sufficient surplus produce for exportation to keep a Hudson Bay railway and steam-boat line, as well as all the other practicable outlets of that vast region, in remunerative operation. – Ed.]


Canada is, in respect of extent, the noblest colonial possession over which any nation has ever exercised dominion. It covers an area of three million three hundred and thirty thousand square miles. Our great Indian Empire is scarcely larger than one-fourth of its size. Europe is larger by only half a million square miles; the United States is smaller to nearly the same extent. The distances with which men have to deal in Canada are enormous. From Ottawa to Winnipeg is fourteen hundred miles – a journey equal to that which separates Paris from Constantinople: the adventurous traveller, who would push his way from Winnipeg to the extreme north-west, has a farther distance of two thousand miles to traverse. The representatives of Vancouver Island must travel two thousand five hundred miles in order to reach the seat of Government. The journey from London to the Ural Mountains is not greater in distance, and is not by any means so difficult. From Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, to New Westminster, the capital of British Columbia, there is a distance of four thousand miles – about the distance as that which intervenes between London and Chicago, or between London and the sources of the Nile.

The people on whom has devolved this vast heritage are in number about four million. It is greatly beyond their powers, as yet, to subdue and possess the continent upon whose fringes they have settled. Nevertheless, their progress is now so rapid in numbers and industrial development, and the wealth which lies around them is so great, that year by year they must fill a larger place in the world’s regard, and exercise a wider influence upon the course of human affairs. At the beginning of the century they numbered scarcely a quarter of a million – the slow growth of two hundred years of misgovernment and strife. Twenty-five years thereafter their numbers had more than doubled; in the following quarter of a century they had trebled. During the ten years from 1851 to 1861 the annual increase was one hundred and twenty thousand; in the following decade it was at the rate of sixty thousand, of which less than one-half was by immigration. The increase is mainly rural; there are no very powerful influences favouring the growth of great cities. Montreal has a population of one hundred and seven thousand; Quebec, of sixty thousand; Toronto has grown to fifty thousand; Halifax to thirty thousand. All European nations are represented on Canadian soil. Of English, Scotch, and Irish there are over two million; of Frenchmen over one million. Germans, Russians, Dutchmen, Swiss make up the remainder. The fusion of races has yet made imperfect progress; the characteristic aspect and habits of each nationality remain with little modification.

The Canadian people maintain a large and growing commerce, one-half of which is with the mother country. Their exports are ?18,000,000; their imports are ?26,000,000. They purchase iron largely in England, the time having not yet come when their own abundant stores of this article can be made available. They import annually four million tons of coal; but the approaching close of this traffic is already foreshadowed by the circumstance that they also export the product of their own mines to the extent of four hundred thousand tons. Textile manufactures are steadily gaining importance in Canada; but as yet the people clothe themselves to a large extent in the woollen and cotton fabrics of the old country.

Canada sells annually the produce of her forests to the extent of five million sterling, and of her fields to the extent of four million. The harvest of the sea yields a value of over two million, of which one-half is sent abroad; the furs which her hunters collect bear a value of half a million. She extracts from the maple-tree sugar to the annual value of four million; her frugal cottagers gather annually two million pounds of honey from the labours of the bee.

The lumber trade is the most characteristic of Canadian industries. On the eastern portion of the Dominion, stretching northwards towards the Arctic regions, illimitable forests clothe the ground. For the most part these are yet undisturbed by man. But in the valleys of streams which flow into the St. Lawrence, notably in the valley of the picturesque Ottawa, the lumber trade is prosecuted with energy. Year by year as autumn draws towards its close numerous bands of woodsmen set out for the scene of their invigorating labours. A convenient locality is chosen near a river, whose waters give motion to a saw-mill, and will in due time bear the felled timber down to the port of shipment. A hut is hastily erected to form the home of the men during the winter months. The best trees in the neighbourhood are selected, and fall in thousands under the practised axe of the lumberman. When the warmth of approaching summer sets free the waters of the frozen stream, the trees are floated to the saw-mill, and cut there into manageable lengths. They are then formed into great rafts, on which villages of huts are built for the accommodation of the returning woodsmen. The winter months are spent in cutting down the timber; the whole of the summer is often spent in conducting to Quebec or the Hudson the logs and planks which have been secured. The forests of Canada are a source of great and enduring wealth. They form also the nursery of a hardy, an enduring, and withal a temperate population; for the lumberman ordinarily dispenses with the treacherous support of alcohol, and is content to recruit his energies by the copious use of strong tea and of salted pork.

The occupation of about one-half of the Canadian people is agriculture. In the old provinces there are nearly five hundred thousand persons who occupy agricultural lands. Of these, nine-tenths own the soil which they till; only one-tenth pay rent for their lands, and they do so for the most part only until they have gained enough to become purchasers. The agricultural labourer – a class so numerous and so little to be envied in England – is almost unknown in Canada. No more than two thousand persons occupy this position, which is to them merely a step in the progress towards speedy ownership. Land is easily acquired; for the Government, recognizing that the grand need of Canada is population, offers land to every man who will occupy and cultivate, or sells at prices which are little more than nominal. The old provinces are filling up steadily if not with rapidity. During the ten years from 1851 to 1861 the land under cultivation had become greater by about one-half. During the following decade the increase was in the same proportion. Schools of agriculture and model farms have been established by Government, and the rude methods by which cultivation was formerly carried on have experienced vast ameliorations. Agriculture has become less wasteful and more productive. Much attention is given to the products of the dairy. Much care has been successfully bestowed upon the improvement of horses and cattle. The manufacture and use of agricultural implements has largely increased. The short Canadian summer lays upon the farmer the pressing necessity of swift harvesting, and renders the help of machinery specially valuable. In the St. Lawrence valley the growing of fruit is assiduously prosecuted; and the apples, pears, plums, peaches, and grapes of that region enjoy high reputation. Success almost invariably rewards the industrious Canadian farmer. The rich fields, the well-fed cattle, the comfortable farm-houses, all tell of prosperity and contentment.

The fisheries of the Dominion form one of its valuable industries. The eastern coasts are resorted to by myriads of fishes, most prominent among which is the cod-fish, whose preference for low temperatures restrains its further progress southward. Sixty thousand men and twenty-five thousand boats find profitable occupation in reaping this abundant harvest. A Minister of Fisheries watches over this great industry. Seven national institutions devote themselves to the culture of fish, especially of the salmon, and prosecute experiments in regard to the introduction of new varieties.

The Mercantile Navy of the Dominion is larger than that of France. It comprises seven thousand ships, of the aggregate tonnage of one million and a quarter; while the tonnage of Great Britain is six million. Canada has invested in her shipping a capital of seven and a half million sterling. She uses the timber of her forests in building ships for herself and for other countries. The annual product of her building-yards is considerably over a million sterling.

The burden laid by taxation upon the Canadians is not oppressive. Taxation is raised almost entirely in the form of custom and excise duties, and amounts to four million sterling. This is an average rate of one pound for each of the population; not differing appreciably from the rate of taxation in the United States, but being considerably less than one-half of that which now prevails in Great Britain.

Canada trusts for her defence against foreign enemies to her militia and volunteers, of whom she has nominally a large force. But only a handful of these are annually called out for a few days of drill, and the Dominion spends no more than ?200,000 upon her military preparations. Her fleet is equally modest, and consists of a few small steamers which serve on the lakes and rivers, and mount in all about twenty guns.

Besides the outlays incurred in carrying on the ordinary business of Government, large sums, raised by loan, are annually expended on public works. Navigation on the great rivers of Canada is interrupted by numerous rapids and falls. Unless these obstructions be overcome, the magnificent water-way with which Canada is endowed will be of imperfect usefulness. At many points on the rivers and lakes canals have been constructed. The formidable impediment which the great Fall of Niagara offers to navigation is surmounted by the Welland Canal, twenty-seven miles in length, and on which, with its branches, two and a half million sterling have been expended. Much care is bestowed, too, upon the deepening of rivers and the removal of rocks and other obstructions to navigation. The vast distances of Canada render railways indispensable to her development. The Canadian Government and people have duly appreciated this necessity. They have already constructed seven thousand miles of railway, and are proceeding rapidly with further extension. The cost of railways already made amounts to eighty million sterling, of which Government has provided one-fourth. Very soon Canada will have a length of railway equal to one-half that of Great Britain. But the disposition to travel has not kept pace with the increased facilities which have been provided. The average number of journeys performed annually by each Englishman is seventeen, while the Canadian average is not quite two.

There still remain in the various provinces of the Dominion about ninety thousand Indians, to represent the races who possessed the continent when the white man found it. Two-thirds of these are in the unpeopled wastes of Manitoba and British Columbia; the remainder are settled in the old provinces. The Indian policy of Canada has been from the beginning just and kind, and it has borne appropriate fruits. The Governments of the United States have signally failed in their management of their Indian population. Faith has not been kept with the savages. Treaties have again and again been made by the Government and violated by the people. Lands have been assigned to the Indians, and forcibly taken from them so soon as possession was desired by any considerable number of white men. Large grants of food and clothing have been given by the Government, and shamelessly intercepted by dishonest traders. Out of transactions such as these have sprung bitter hatreds, ruthless massacres, inflicted now by the red man, now by the white, and a state of feeling under which a Western American will, on slight provocation, shoot down an Indian with as little remorse as he would slay a stag. Canada has dealt in perfect fairness with her Indians. She has recognized always the right of the original occupants of the land. She has fulfilled with inflexible faith every treaty into which she has entered. The lands allotted to the Indians have been secured to them as effectively as those of the white settler, or have been acquired from them by fair process of sale and purchase. The Indians have requited with constant loyalty the Government which has treated them with justice. While the French ruled Canada there was perpetual strife with the Indians, as there is to-day in the United States. Canada under the British has never been disturbed by an Indian war.

The Indians of the older provinces have adopted settled habits and betaken themselves to agriculture. In Ontario they are steadily increasing in numbers and intelligence. Drunkenness diminishes; education is eagerly sought; hunting gives place to farming; the descendants of the barbarous Iroquois have been transformed into industrious and prosperous citizens. In Quebec there is also progress, but it is less rapid, and the old drunken habits of the people have not yielded so completely to the influences which surround them. The Indians of British Columbia are still very drunken and debased, and their numbers diminish rapidly. In Manitoba and the whole North-West the condition of the Indians is very hopeful. Drunkenness is almost unknown; crime is very rare; the demand for schools and for persons who can teach how to build houses and till the soil is universal and urgent. The buffalo has been the support of the North-Western Indian. Its flesh was his food, its skin was his clothing, the harness of his horse, the property by whose sale all his remaining wants were supplied. The innumerable multitudes of buffalo which frequented the plains maintained in the Indian camp a rude affluence. But the buffalo gives place before advancing civilization, and the Indians in alarm hasten to find new means of subsistence.

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