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Our great West. A lecture delivered under the auspices of the Young Men's Christian Association of Christ… White, Thomas, 1830-1888 1873

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Delivered under the Auspices 
QS' the Evening of the 27TH February, Mr. THOMAS WHITE,  Commissioner of Emigration for tie. Provi8{e.tjf\Otitart\,
1873.  Ths Hojt. J. H. Popb,
Minister or Agrioomurk.
Tha following lecture, prepared for delivery before an Association of
Young Men in the City of Montreal, is mainly a compilation, from the
best authorities which I could obtain, of facts relating to the Province of
Manitoba, the North-west territories and British Columbia. The great
attention which the recent addition of this immense area to the Dominion
of Canada has excited, and the desire for information concerning it, makes
the subject one of more than ordinary interest, both to Canadians, and to
*hat large class of our fellow subjects in Great Britain who are annually
-seeking new homes and a wider field for enterprise on this continent; and
i am not without hope that the facts which I have collated, will furnish
-answers to enquiries which my own experience has shown to be general
^throughout the United Kingdom.
During my mission as Special Commissioner of Emigration for the
Province of Ontario, I found everywhere the argument used against Canada
that many people are annually leaving it for the Western States. The
■agents of American land and labour companies, who are zealous in the
circulation of everything which tends to depreciate this country and
elevate the Western States of America 'in the estimation of intending
emigrants, never failed to give publicity to any scrap of information
-calculated to foster this impression. I have dealt with this subject, basing
any statements upon the official reports of the United States Government.
■It will be seen that so far from the exodus fromi Canada being large, it is
relatively very much smaller than that from States similarly situated,—
smaller even than that from Western States whicn a few years ago were
held to be a very paradise for settlement, but from which there is to-day a
far greater annual outgoing to States still' further west than there is from
Canada. The opening up of our own great west, to which the speedy
commencement of the Pacific Bailway will afford easy access, will destroy
'this too common argument against Canada, affording, as it will afford,
homes for millions of people, under the aegis of the British flag and in the
enjoyment of free British constitutional government.
Tours very respectfully,
Late Special Commissioner of Emigration,
for the Province of Ontario.  OUR GREAT WEST.
" The darkest hour is iust before the dawn" is a
saying as true of human and national affairs as it is of
nature. Throughout the Old Testament history of the
world, the idea of sacrifice as the condition of blessings
is the great central idea. And the story of the New is
that of the great sacrifice, of which all the others were
but the antitypes. The darkest hour in the world's-
history was that in which was enacted the tragedy of
Calvary, when, in sympathy with the great crime," the
sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent
in twain," and from which the world emerged into
a brighter era of Christian civilization and of Christian
hope. The progress of human liberty has but too often
been through the records of human suffering, and seas
of human blood. The civil wars of our mother land
were the dark hours which preceded the advent of
constitutional government and of popular rights. *Wef
in Canada, had our dark hour some thirty years ago,
and we passed through it into the possession of
responsible government, and of a free parliament. And
still more recently, we have again had our dark hour
preceding the dawn of that brighter future which is
opening before us, and some of the elements of which
will form the subject of my lecture to-night. For many
years before the confederation of these Provinces we
were rapidly approaching what to all human appearance
seemed a constitutional dead-lock. In three years we
had two general elections, and so evenly divided was <o
public sentiment between contending parties, that the
result was in each case practically the same. The government, instead of devoting themselves to the consideration of great questions of practical improvement, were
fully occupied with the, to them, paramount question
-of how to keep their places. The opposition, chagrined
at seeing what promised to be electoral victory turned
into electoral defeat, and chafing at the position from
which, sometimes, the change of a single vote would
have relieved them, were intent only on embarassing
their adversaries. Thus the interests of the country
were lost sight of in the battle of rival factions, and in
the question of who should occupy the offices of state,
and dispense the patronage connected with the petty
elerkships, which, under the civil service practice of
the country, has, with all parties, played so important
a part in the politics of Canada. This was the state of
public affairs when the leaders of the two great parties,
with a patriotism which did them infinite credit,
consented to ground arms and unite in fmding a
solution for difficulties which threatened the best
interests of the country. The importance of the Quebec
•Conferen«e, at which was laid the basis of British
American union, will be more and more realized as it
comes to be viewed at a greater distance of time. It
was the dawn of daylight after the dark hour of
political and personal strife, and of sectarian and
.sectional bitterness. At it, for the first time in the
Colonial history of Great Britain, the public men of the
different Provinces of British America met, not in a
spirit of hostility to the mother land, but to devise
means which, strengthening the position of British"
power on this continent, would promote imperial no
less than colonial interests:—" The best interests, and
"present and future prosperity of British North
i* America will be promoted by a federal union, under the
" Crown of Great Britain, provided such union can be ■■
"effected on principles just to the several Provinces.""
"With that resolution, loyal towards the crown, and
patriotic as towards the country, the members of the
conference entered upon their deliberations. "We
have to do to-night with but one portion of the general
terms of union agreed upon. By the tenth'resolution
it was resolved that " the North-west territory, British
" Columbia and Vancouver shall be admitted into the
" union, on such terms and conditions as the Parliament
" of the federated Provinces shall deem equitable, and
" as shall receive the assent of Her Majesty; and in the
" case of British Columbia or Vancouver, as shall be
" agreed to by the Legislature of such Province."'
Thus, at the very outset, before even the terms upon
which the union of the old Provinces was to be effected
had been fixed, the public men of British America
united in a formal expression of opinion in favour of
the acquisition of our Great "West.
And that being acquired, what was the Dominion
whose foundations were laid at that conference in 1864
and confirmed on the first July, 1867, amid the booming
of cannon, the rattle of the feu de joie, and the acclamations of a joyous people ? Let me give you from one
of the ablest of the many able speeches through which
the scheme was commended to Parliament, this eloquent
description of the Dominion of Canada as it was then
contemplated, and as if, will ere long exist: " Look, sir,"
said Mr. Brown, "at the map of the continent of
"America, and mark that island (Newfoundland)
" commanding the mouth of the noble river that almost
" cuts the continent in twain. "Well, sir, that island is
| equal in extent to the Kingdom of Portugal. Cross
" the straits to the main land, and you touch the hospital able shores of Nova Scotia, a country as large as the
" Kingdom of Greece. Then mark the sister Province
" of New Brunswick—equal in extent to Denmark and.
" Switzerland combined. Pass up the River St. Lawrence 8
"to Lower Canada, a country as large as France. Pass
" on to Upper Canada, a country twenty thousand
" square miles larger than Great Britain and Ireland put
| together. Cross over the continent to the shores of
* the Pacific; and you are in British Columbia, the
| land of golden promise, equal in extent to the Austrian
" empire. I speak not now of the vast Indian territories
" that lie between—greater in extent than the whole
" soil of Russia, and that will ere long, I trust, be opened
*' up to civilization under t\e auspices of the British.'
" American Confederation. "Well, sir, the bold scheme
"in your Hands is nothing less than to gather all
" these countries into one, to organize them all under
" one government, with the protection of the British flag,
"and in heartiest sympathy and affection with our
" fellow subjects in the land that gave us birth." Four
years after the speech from which I have just quoted
was delivered, the Queen's proclamation issued, handing
over Prince Rupert's land and the North-west territories
to the Dominion of Canada. Six years after it was
4elivered, another Royal proclamation! ssued, creating
British|Oolumbia a Province of the Dominion. Before
the first Parliament of Canada had completed its term,
representatives from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts
joined in its deliberations, and te-day we stand in the
presence of that great fact of British American union,
which its most enthusiastic promoters scarcely
ventured to hope for during the life time of themselves
or their contemporaries.
I ask you to consider with me to-night some facts in
relation to our Great "West; and then I propose to state
some of the grounds which we have for congratulation
at the acquisition of these splendid territories, and some
of the resalts which we may fairly anticipate from
A glance at the map will show yon -ih&t the kwger
portion cC North America is Canadian territory, andjhat OUR  GREAT WEST.
of that territory but a small portion is included within
the boundaries of the old organized Provinces. "With the
exception of a portion of the Labrador coast, which sha
been, and is still, under the nominal jurisdiction of
Newfoundland, all that vast tract of country lying North,
North-east and North-west, of the old Province of
Canada, from the shores of the Pacific to those of the
Atlantic Ocean, was, up to four years ago, claimed and
governed by a Company of Capitalists in London who
were incorporated by Royal charter in 1669, under the
title of the Company of Adventurers of England trading
into Hudson's Bay. One portion of the territory was
claimed and held under the charter itself, the remaining
and greater portion of it under a Crown license to trade.
The charter was granted to Prince Rupert and nineteen
other English gentlemen, and the name" Rupert's Land
was ordered to be given to any territory over which
they might subsequently obtain dominion. The charter
gave full powers to make rules not inconsistent with the
laws of the realm, and punish offenders against them ;.
to send home to England as prisoners, any British subject attempting to trade or settle within the territories-
without the consent of the Company. They were, in
fact, made despotic rulers over all the land, and for
these extraordinary powers and privileges, the
consideration stated in the charter is one that may well
excite a smile, viz: two elks and two black beavers so
often as the sovereign should come into that territory—
a very safe provision for the Company, as the sovereign
was by no means likely to trouble the territory with his
presence. This charter is an antiquarian curiosity, and
the feeling which its perusal excites is one of surprise
that it should have lasted so long as the fundamental
law of such a vast territory. The difficulties which,
arose under it, the rivalries between different trading-
companies which marked the history of the country, the
feeble attempt under Lord Selkirk to promote the 10
formation of a settlement, and the practical failure of
that attempt, are all fortunately matters of tho past.
By the arrangement under which the rights of the
Company were extinguished for a money consideration,
and the blessings of constitutional government given to
the territory, a new era has been opened up; and the
work which belongs to Canada to-day is that of
developing fully this splendid heritage. Look at it for
a moment. The Province of Manitoba, which is the
leader of the group of Provinces into which the territory
is destined hereafter to be divided, occupies but a very-
small part of the vast domain. Lying botween the
96 ° and 99 ° of west longitude it comprises less than
ten millions acres of land, a million four hundred
thousand of which are reserved for the extinguishment
of the claims of the half-breeds. The territory itself,
the great North-west lying east of the Rocky Mountains,
contains no less than 2,206,725 square miles, or
1,412,304,000 acres. It is difficult to realise the extent of
areas thus stated. But when it is remembered that these
figures represent a territory nearly two-thirds in size
that of the entire continent of Europe, some idea of its
vastness may be formed. It is not simply its vastness,
however, which is important; its character gives equal
promise for the future. By the report of the Secretary
of State we learn that 76,800,000 acres are prairie lands,
with occasional groves or belts of timber; three
hundred millions of acres are timber land, with
occasional prairies, all suitable for the cultivation of
wheat and other cereals; six hundred miliions suitable
for the cultivation of barley, potatoes and grasses, and
having sufficient timber for ordinary purposes; while
a little over four hundred million are rock and swamp,
where the timber growth is stunted or disappears
altogether, ana which are set down as the region of the
fur bearing animals. That is tho territory which now
belongs to Canada, and whose settlement should form OUR GREAT WEST.
the leading feature of the policy of our public men. In
this work they have nature upon their side. Until
comparatively recently, it is true, opinions were
conflicting as to the character of the country. An old
friend of my own in Ontario, who had formerly been an
officer in the Hudson's Bay Company's service, could
scarcely listen with patience to the suggestion that a
country which, to him, seemed specially fitted by
Providence as a field for the operations of a great fur
trading corporation, could be made the home of peaceful
settlement and pastoral, and agricultural industry. He
was a fair type of a large number whose personal
acquaintanceship gave them apparent right to speak
with authority on the subject, but whose occupation
in the territory in reality made them the most unreliable
guides in forming a just conception of its actual
capabilities. Oti the other hand I recall, as one of the
most gratifying scenes at the Detroit commercial
convention, the enthusiastic claim of Mr. Taylor, of the
Treasury Department at "Washington, to appear as the
representative of the British North-west, and his
glowing description of the part yet to be played by that
vast region in the commerce of the continent. The
opinions of the Hudson's Bay officer are fast being
answered by the results of careful enquiry and research..
The opinions of the warm-hearted Minnesotian, whom
his government have since, with great appropriateness,,
honoured with the position of American Consul at Fort
Garry, are ' by the same processes being more than
confirmed. The very name by which a large portion
of the territory is known on this continent, "the
fertile belt" is expressive of its real character.
The statements of travellers to Manitoba are almost
fabulous in reference to the productiveness of the
soil. A friend wh? visited Fort Garry just before the
troubles of 1869, assured me that he saw one field from
which an average of fifty bushels of wheat to the acre
ni!aA*?«i* &Ss
had been reaped; and the ground had been sown with
the same crop and had yielded the same general results
for ten years, without any manuring. Dr. Hurlbert,
in his most interesting work on the climates, productions
and resources of Canada, gives the following
comparative table of wheat production in the Red
River settlement and in four States of the Union:
Red River 40 bushels to the acre.
Minnesota o20     " "
Wisconsin 14     " "
Pennsylvania 15     " "
Ohio 15     "
Or in other words, the production in Manitoba is twice
as great as that in Minnesota, confessedly one of the best
wheat-producing States in the American Union. That,
however, is only in Manitoba, about which opinion has
now become pretty well confirmed as to its entire fitness
for settlement. It is but a speck in the midst of the
vaist region. "What of the rest? Mr. MoLeod, who
spent many years of his life in the territory, whose
father and grandfather were prominent servants of the.
Company, holds that beyond the belt known as the
fertile belt, " there is in our North-west, an area,
" continuous in every direction and easily accessible to
" its utmost limits, containing over three hundred millions
■** of acres of wheat and pasture lands, with forests of
" finest timber, and the largest known coal and
•" bitumen, and also probably the richest gold areas in
" the world, a land teeming with animal and vegetable
" life, extending to the very Arctic circle." Mr. Sand-
ford Fleming^ whose reputation has been acquired by
plodding industry and the greatest accuracy in all his
reports, published a report in 1863, from which the
same impression of this territory is derived. The
country between Lake Superior and the eastern banks
of Lake "Winnipeg, he described as of the crystalline
rock   formation "a   system wbich is not  generally -OUR GREAT WffiST.
*'favourable 1«e agriculture, although, here and there
| many fertile spots are to be found." But when he
comes to speak of the country lying to. the west of
X»ake Winnipeg, he grows enthusiastic in his praise.
" To the westward of these lakes and Winnipeg," he says,
" and between them nearly to the Rocky Mountains
"the whole territory is of the Silurian and Devonian
" formations, both eminently favourable to agriculture,
" the former prevailing throughout the fertile peninsula
" of tjETpper Canada. At its base, the •Silurian deposits
"range a thousand miles from east to west, and extend
-" about five hundred miles to the northward, where
-" the Devonian system commences and continues to the
" Arctic sea. * # * About one hundred and fifty miles
"east of the Rocky Mountains, the great coal bed
" commences, which gives our territory so important
"an advantage over that which lies to the south. So
" far as has been ascertained, it is over fifty miles in
"width." Mr. McLeod concludes from the various
authorities which he has consulted, that the territory
contains four hundred thousand square miles of coal
In the recent contract entered into for the construction of the Canada Pacific Railway the land grant,
required to supplement what may be found deficient
.along the line of the railway, is to be selected from
between the 49th and 57th degrees north latitude, from
which it might be inferred that these were the limits
of the district fit for settlement. But according to Sir
John Richardson, at Fort Laird, on or very near the
60th;parallel of N..latitude, barley and oats yield good
crops, and in favorable seasons wheat ripens well,
while near the northern limit of the Pacific railway
land reserve is Dunvegan, on the southern bend of the
Peace river, about 150 miles in a straight line from the
-ridge line of the Rocky Mountains. The period of
^cultivation at this,point is from Aprilto October, and it 14
is a fact worth stating that the mean temperature at
Toronto and Quebec does not vary more than half a
degree with that at Dunvegan, while the difference
between that at Halifax, is nearly two degrees in favour
of the former. Mr. McLeod assures us that as to the-
winter cold of this north-western point, its steadiness
and dryness are, for both man and beast, better than
that of any other place in the Dominion, except perhaps
Before taking leave of this great northwest
country, let me give you the following valuable
American testimony to its character. It is from a
report to the New York Chamber of Commerce:—
"There is in the heart of North America, a distinct
" subdivision of which Lake Winnipeg may be regarded
"as the centre. This subdivision, like the valley ofthe
" Mississippi, is distinguished for the fertility ofits soil,
" and for the extent and gentle slope ofits great plains,
" Watered by rivers of great length, and admirably
" adapted for steam navigation. It has a climate not
"exceeding in severity that of many portions of Canada
"and the Eastern States; It will in all respects
" compare favourably with some of the most densely
"peopled portions of the continent of Europe. In other
" words, it is admirably adapted to become the seat of
" a numerous, hardy, and prosperous community. It
"has an area equalto eight or ten first-class American
" States. Its great river, the Saskatchewan, carries a
"navigable water-line to the very base ofthe Rocky
" Mountains. It is not at all improbable that the
"valley of this river may yet offer the best-route for a
"railroad to the Pacific."
Having thus-glanced very briefly at Manitoba and
the North-weit territories, let us cross the Rocky Mountains into what has appropriately been called "the
land of golden promise," and which was, up to a comparatively few years, under the jurisdiction /of the- OUR- GREAT WEST.
Hudson's Bay Company. How shall we cross the
.mountains ? That is a question possessing much importance in view of the proposed construction of the
'Canada Pacific Railway. Our American neighbors
found this passage the most serious difficulty in the
way of the construction of their Pacific Railway. The
;pass with them extended over 150 miles in length, the
height being some, eight thousand feet. Their success
in overcoming this difficulty is one of the greatest
triumphs which American energy and pluck have ever
achieved. As we possess, as I shall have occasion further on to show, the best portion of the Continent for
purposes of settlement, so do we possess the most
feasible route for a trans-continental railway. Mr.
Waddington, a British Columbian, who was an enthu-
■siaist on the subject of a Canadian Pacific Railway, and
whose sudden death at Ottawa just on the eve of the
triumph of his views, was deeply regretted by all who
knew him, made a personal exploration of different
passes of these Rocky Mountains, eight in number, and
varying in height from 3,760 to 6,347 feet. He strongly
favored the most northerly or Yellow Head Pass, from
Athabaska to the Upper Fraser River. The approach
to this is through the rich fertile belt, drained by the
north branch of the Saskatchewan. And it is in the
very latitude of this belt, that according to Mr. Waddington, the great barrier of the Rocky Mountains
is cleft asunder, so that the road runs along this fertile
zone in a direct line to the lowest and easiest pass, as to
a natural gateway leading to the Pacific. Mr. McLeod,
on the other hand, favors a pass still further north, that
known as the Peace River Pass. An authority which
lie quotes, states that on the 6th April the spring birds
were singing about the post, and spring fully set in.
The 10th of May record of Mackenzie as to the flush of
the sweet early green of the foliage, and bursting of
iblossom, confirms—from our experience in Canada of 16
such arborial development—the-6th April recordi   We,;,
too, have spring   birds, birds   singing   early   sometimes, and the winter there is no longer than ours.
" There is, in fact," says Mi. MbLeod, " no snow diffi-
" culty whatever at the Peace River Pass, not even in
" mid-winter; the threshold is ever clear as that of an
" open gateway—ever clean swept by every wind of
" heaven.   It is the most magnificent gateway between
" the two I worlds' of this earth, and bears the isotherm.
" of strongest hmsaan development.   A grand territorial.
" road (with branches) direct to it, and there striking-
| the centre of a gold region, probably the richest in the
" world, would fast people the whole intervening ocean
I of wheat field."   .Asid this reference to snow difficulty
justifies the remark that no-greater popular error prevails in relation to these North-western latitudes than*,
that they are regions of perpetual snow.   Mr. Wad-^
dington, who wrote from personal knowledge, as well,
as from the information of North-western travellers,,
dwells especially upon tihis point.   He says:—" As a
" general rule, the snow in Canada is easily removed'
" by the snow-ploughs,.which are used both.there and.
" in the Eastern States, and the trains run regularly all
" winter, with the exception of an occasional snow-
" storm.   But as we get further into the interior, the'
" thickness of the snow continues to diminish with the-
" decrease of atmospheric moisture, till in the plain of
" the Saskatchewan it does not pack over fourteen inches
" in winter, and then evaporates quickly; and even in
" the Yellow Head Pass in the Rocky Mountains, it
" barely attains from two to three feet.   In addition to
" these facts, the isothermal lines, which run in a
" W.N.W. curve across the Continent, show an increase
" in the mean temperature on the Pacific coast equal to
" fully 11 degrees of latitude as compared with the
" Atlantic; whilst the range of the thermometer be-
« comes less, and the winter and summer temperature- OUR GREAT WEST.
** more equable. Thus, the mean annual temperature at
" Cumberland House in lat. 54, long. 101-40, is only one
" degree lower than that of Toronto, ten degrees more
" to the south, but also 42 degrees more to the east;.
" and in Victoria, Vancouver Island, where snow
" rarely falls, and the arbutus grows in the open air to
" the size of a tree, the climate closely resembles that
" of Nantes or La Rochelle in France. In short, if the
" trains run all winter in Canada, they could do it, a
" fortiori, across the Western portion of the Continent."
Mr. McLeod, too, arguing for his Peace River Pass
through the Rocky Mountains, meets this same objection
thus :—" The winter at Fort St. James is, I take it, no
" worse for farming or grazing, than that of Ontario on
" the average, with probably no more snow, and entail-
" ing little or no housing of cattle. In fact it is reported
" that the snow varies in average depth there, only from
"six to eighteen inches, and covers the ground only
" from January to March. On the same winter line of
" climate on the east side, say the country immediately
'" north of the Saskatchewan to the Athabaska Valley,
" inclusive, the cattle and horses winter Out in the open
"and get fat, and even further north to the Peace river
" and to the north of it, hundreds of miles in that low
"forest land which extends continuously five hundred
" miles north of Dunvegan and to the very summits
"of the hills of the Clear Wa'ter Valley,—Methy
"Portage—the wood buffaloes in midwinter, 'sun,' as
" Simpson describes the sight, 'their fat sides' and show
" then and there beef to make any beef-eater's, or more
" exquisite still, any buffalo meat-eater's teeth water."
These authorities are sufficient to prove that the pass
over the Rocky Mountains, even so far north as the
Peace River, and the country immediately west of it,
in British Columbia, not only offer no serious obstructions to Canadian ambition to have a Pacific Railway
of our own, but that on the contrary they present as fair a
5B93 18
.'field for railway enterprise as any now open to Canadian projectors.
Having crossed the Mountains, let us look for a few
.moments- at this latest addition to British American
unification, this  youngest 'member  of the  Canadian
Provinces.    I am indebted for the facts which I am
about to state, chiefly to a most interesting prize essay,
entitled, " The Dominion at the West," published by
the authority of the Government of British Columbia.
The Province first became a Colony in 1858, under the
.administration of him who has so recently been laid
among England's greatest sons in that hallowed spot,
the Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey—I mean Sir
Bulwer Lytton.    In 1866 a union took place between
"British Columbia and Vancouver, and on the 20th July,,.
1871, the United Colonies entered the Canadian Confederation.    The limits of the Province may be thus
stated.    Conterminous on the south with the United
States territory of Washington,  the  49th parallel of
:.north latitude forms the boundary from the Gulf of
Georgia to the summit of the Rocky Mountains, which
it intersects in longitude 114^ west, there touching on
the Dominion territory of the  North-west.    Thence
-along the summit of the Rocky Mountains to the parallel
I of Mount St. Elias in latitude 62°.    Thence southward as
far as 54° 40', along the strip of coast line, ten marine
. leagues in width, formerly occupied by Russia, recently
purchased by the United States, and now forming part
•of the Territory of Alaska.    Thence southward to the
-entrance of the Strait of Fuca, including Queen Charlotte and Vancouver Islands, and the vast archipelago
■ connected therewith.    It owes the first chief interest
which it exeited to the gold discoveries which followed
those of Australia and California, and which drew to it
a number of adventurous men,  among them a good
:many Canadians, in search of the precious metal.   Although to-day, fortunately, British Columbia presents OUR GREAT WEST.
other attractions than those which its gold-fields furnishv
gold-mining is still not an inconsiderable industry.   In
the thirteen years from 1858 to 1870 inclusive, the export of gold exceeded twenty-one and a quarter millions
of dollars, while that for 1871, the last for which we
have any returns, reached the large sum of $1,349,580:
The white population of the Province is estimated at
about fifteen thousand inhabitants, its entire population, including Indians and Chinese, being about sixty-
thousand.    There are a good many growing settlements, but to these it is not necessary to refer in detail..
The chief town is Victoria, the capital of the Province,.
situated near the south-eastern extremity of Vancouver's Island.    Its position, both as a distributing points
for the Province at large, and a nucleus for foreign-,
trade, is extremely favorable.    It is three miles from
Esquimault, an extensive harbor, capable of receiving;
vessels of the largest class,' and destined to become the-
future entrep6t of a national commerce, the extent of~
which it is difficult to foresee.     Esquimault is the-
station of Her Majesty's ships on this portion of the-
>,^5@ast. Here are the naval yard, the hospital and other
necessary appendages for the requirements of the-:
squadron. A graving dock has been contracted for, its
construction being undertaken by the Government of
Canada as one of the conditions of union, capable of
admitting ships of the largest class; and everything-
indicates improvements of a permanent and substantial.
In the settled portions of Vancouver Island all the
common cereals are produced abundantly. Wheat,
yields ordinarily from 30 to 40 bushels per acre; oats-
produce frequently as high as 60 bushels. Indian
corn, though not largely cultivated, ripens freely by-
. the end of September. Potatoes, turnips, and all the
usuaJ. varieties of culinary vegetables, grow to a great
size.   The climate seems to be specially well adapted 20
for the growth of hops. These are cultivated sufficiently
to meet the local demands; the surplus, if any, being
exported to San Francisco, where their superior quality
secures for them a ready sale. Upon the character of
these hops valuable testimony has been given by
Messrs. Wm. Dow & Co., of this city, who declare
them to be " worth fully ten cents per lb. more than
the best Canadian growth." The average yield is from
1200 lbs. in ordinary years to 2,000 lbs. per acre in
favorable seasons. On the peninsula, near Victoria,
the musk melon and the water melon attain perfect
maturity in the open air, without artificial aid; the
tomato and the capsicum yield copiously; the peach
ripens its fruit as a standard; and the grape (of the
Isabella variety) produces abundantly, and comes to
full maturity in a favorable exposure. Orchard fruits
are cultivated abundantly throughout the settlements^-
and with marked success. This statement, by Mr;;
Anderson, of the character of Vancouver Island, is
more than sustained by Mr. James Richardson, of the
Canadian Geological Staff, who, in a paper contributed
to the British Colonist, bears testimony to the excellent
character of the Island from an agricultural point of
view. The main land of British Columbia, Mr.
Anderson divides into three large divisions or districts,
each bearing some general distinctive peculiarity.
. The characteristics of the lower district are a surface
thickly wooded in most parts with trees of enormous
growth, chiefly varieties of the fir and pine, and intermixed with the red cedar and the maple-plane. Low
alluvial points fringe these thickets. These, as well
as the numerous islets along the river, are covered
with aspens, balsam-poplars, and alders of luxuriant
.growth. In the lower part are some extensive meadows,
yielding in their natural state, heavy crops of a coarse
but nutritious grass, and under cultivation, enormous
.returns of cereals and other produce. OUR GBEAT WEST. 21
On the verge of the second, or central, divison, a
marked change commences. The copious rains which
fall in the lower districts are greatly modified after we
pass the mountainous ridge through which the river
bursts near Yale. Evidences of a drier climate appear
at every step. The character of the vegetation changes.
About Lytton the cactus begins to appear. In spots
along the Thompson, the artimesia and other shrubs
indicative of a dry and hot climate are fotind; and in
lieu of the thickly wooded luxuriance of the lower
region, a succession of open valleys, covered with fine
pasture and bordered by grassy hills, in parts more or
less wooded, delights the eye of the traveller. Here
and there belts of forest intervene, amid which broad
expanses of open land lie seattered at intervals. This
general description may be regarded as applying to
a very large tract of country, extending from Alexandria
on the Fraser, in latitude 52° 33,' to the southern
boundary line on the Ockinagan river; and thence at
intervals towards the south-eastern angle of the Province. Near this point, however, the aspect of the
country changes, assuming in its general features a
very sterile character, which increases as we cross the
American frontier. We have entered, in fact, upon the
North-western angle of the great American desert,
which, happily, enters but a few miles into British
The third division of British Columbia, from
Alexandria to the mountains, varies materially from
the other two. The agricultural region, properly so-
called, may be said to terminate in the vicinity ol
Alexandria, though there are many small spots beyond
that point which may be advantageously cultivated
for culinary vegetables and the harder cereals. Generally speaking, it is a wooded country, through which
many open spots of excellent soil are interspersed with
large tracts of luxuriant pasture—especially in the 22
direction of Fraser and Stuart Lakes, and in the
Chilcotin country. This upper region, however, is to
be considered more especially as the mining district,
and any partial cultivation that may be attempted to
meet an extended market in connection with the mines,
must be regarded only as subsidiary to the main supply
derived from a remoter source.
The briefest reference to British Columbia would be
incomplete without some mention of its gold fields and
other mineral resources. In 1863, Lieut. A. Spencer Palmes, ofthe Royal Engineers, made a report upon the gold
mines of the colony, which is quoted in the most recent
publications. " The general tendency", he said, " ofthe
" auriferous ranges throughout the colony leads to the
" conjecture that the future explorations will discover
" an almost unbroken continuation of rich deposits,
" maintaining a north-north-westerly direction, and
I occupying a large portion of the great elbow of the
| Fraser River. Cariboo is closely packed with moun-
" tains of considerable altitude, singularly tumbled and
| irregular in character, and presenting steep and
" thickly wooded slopes. Here and there tremendous
" masses, whose summits are from 6,000 to 7,000 feet
" above the sea, tower above the general level, and
" form centres of radiation for subordinate ranges.
| This mountain system is drained by innumerable
" streams of every size from large brooks to tiny rivu-
" lets, known respectively in mining phraseology as
" ' creeks ' and ' gulches,' which run in every imagi-
" nable direction of the compass, and, winding among
" the valleys and gorges, discharge themselves into
" the larger streams or rivers, which at length cosi-
" duct tlieir waters to the Fraser. The most remu-
" nerative mining is generally formed near the head
" waters of the creeks, in close proximity to the
| mountain clusters, which seem to be the great cen-
" tres of wealth; and thus some of the less attractive OUR GREAT WEST.
" diggidgs on the rivers and on the lower parts of the
I creeks have as yet scarcely claimed attention."
The^chief mining localities outside of Cariboo are at
Big Bend, above the ArrowLakes on theColumbia river;
the Koutanais mines on the tributary of the Columbia
of that name, and on the Peace RiVer. There are besides inferior " diggings," occupied chiefly by Chinese,
and others who, like them, are content with minor
profits, where by patient industry a moderate competence is obtained. There is no doubt, however, that
the mineral gold-wealth of the Province has as yet
been but very partially exposed.
In addition to these gold mines, rich copper leads
abound along the coast; so too do silver leads, sufficiently rich to justify the investment of money f^r their
development. Some attempts in this direction have
been made both with the copper and silver mines, but
the capital has been fritted away in a number of companies instead of being combined in one, and has consequently been lost. The coal mines are more favorably
situated. The shipments from the mines, according to
the official returns, were in 1871 valued at $178,848, of
which $122,148 were foreign export, and the balance for
home consumption. The first half year of 1872 showed
an export of $153,522, being a very marked increase
upon the previous year. The oldest mine at Nanaimo,
commenced by the Hudson's Bay Company, has for
the last twelve years been the property of an English
company, bearing the name of the Vancouver Coal
Company, who share a handsome annual dividend for
their investment. There are two other mines in the
same vicinity: one of these, the Harewood, owned also
by English capitalists, is not at present worked; the
other, the Dunsmuir, is in its infancy, but promises to
be very successful. There is also a fine seam of coal,
requiring only • capital for its working, at Bayiies'
Sound, near Comox, besides that at the north side of SS3>£2E3
the island, and another of anthracite on Queen Charlotte's. So far as can be discovered there is no coal at
all comparable with that of Vancouver elsewhere on
the Pacific Coast; and the people look forward to an
immense impetus to the trade should the reciprocity-
treaty be renewed with the United States, as will probably be the case before many years.
Mr. Anderson thus sums up the qualifications of
British Columbia as a field for settlement:—" I may
" succinctly state, that though it may never become a
" large exporter of cereal products, like the Western
" States of America or California, it possesses within
| itself all the requisites for success, and the power to
" support, in connection with its varied industries and
" its external relations, a population, at least of several
" millions, in ease, happiness and comparative aiflu-
" ence. I would fain avoid the imputation of seeking
" possibly to draw a picture too highly coloured; but
" I am free, nevertheless, to state my own personal
" convictions in all sincerity. I conceive of no country
| possessing greater solid attractions. The varied cli-
| mate and capabilities of the several sections, whereby
" diversity of taste is accommodated ; the general salu-
" brity and proved fertility of the whole ; the magnifi-
" cent commercial prospects that loom in the not dis-
" tant future; and, not least, the genuine home feeling
" which impresses every English settler whose lot has
" hitherto been cast within'the Province—all combine
" to recommend it as a future home for those who,
" weary of the Old World, are bent on seeking a wider
*• scene for the expansion of their energies, amid 'fresh
" fields and pastures new.'"
Having thus, ladies and gentlemen, referred with as
much detail as the nature of a lecture will admit to the
character of these recent additions to the Dominion of
Canada, to which for convenience I have applied the
name " our great west", permitflne, in the few remaining OUR GREAT WEST.
ninutes that I have, to state some of the grounds which
we have for congratulation at the acquisition of these
splendid territomes, and some of the results which we
maiy fairly anticipate from them. The admission of the
Great West was not effected without challenge. This
is neither the time nor the occasion to discuss the
merits of the controversy; but as the union has been
effected, I may, without impropriety, say that the result
is matter for patriotic congratulation. In the first place,
in the interests of British power on this continent of
America, Canadian extension to the Pacific ocean was
a matter of the most pressing importance. We can only
hold our own as a Dominion, " under the Crown of
Great Britain," by securing a largely increased
population, and by the full development of our material
resources. I speak as a loyal British subject to loyal
British subjects, and I know I will have your sympathy
when I say that the full establishment of British power
in this Dominion is an object before which all mere
questions of detail in terms of Canadian union should
give place. How long, think you, could we maintain
our position, if the territories to the west of us were
permitted to fall into the American Union ? That was
the contingency which was by no means a remote one.
The available new lands fitted for settlement in the
United States are well nigh exhausted. That is a
statement which may provoke question, but it is a
statement made upon American authority. In referring
to the divisions of British Columbia, I spoke of the angle
ofthe great American desert which Crosses the line there.
Let me give you some American authorities as to the
extent of that desert:—Dr. Henry, of the Smithsonian
Institution, speaks thus of it:—" The progress of settle-
" ment a few miles west of the Upper Missouri River,
1 and west of the Mississippi, beyond the 98th de-
I gree of longitude, is rendered impossible by the
| condition of climate and soil which prevail there. . .. 26
i The Rocky Mountain region, and the sterile belt
" east of it, occupy an area about equal to one-third
" of the whole surface of the United States, which,.
" with our present knowledge of the laws of nature,
" and their application to economical purposes, must
" ever remain of little value to the husbandman."
The following is from the report of the explorations
and surveys for a railway route from the Mississippi
River to the Pacific Ocean:—"vThe sterile region on the
" eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains begins aboiat
" 500 or 600 miles west of the Mississippi, and its breadth
"varies from 200 to400 miles ; and it is then succeeded
0 by the Rocky Mountain range, which, rising from an
"altitude of 5,200 in lat, 32 c reaches 10,000 feet in lat.,.
" 38 ° and declines to 7,490 feet in lat.; 42 ° 24', and
"about 6,000 in lat., 47 ° . \ Along this range, isolated
" peaks and ridges rise into the limits of perpetual snow,
"in some instances attaining an elevation of 17,000 feet.
" The breadth of the Rocky Mountain range varies from
" 500 to 600 miles. The soil of the greater part of fhe-
" sterile region is necessarily so from its composition,.
" and were it well constituted for fertility, from the
"absence of rain at certain seasons. The general
" character of extreme [sterility likewise belongs to the
" country embraced in the mountain region."
The State geologist of California, Professor W. P..
Blake, gives the following description of the Colorado
desert:—"Its area is some 9,000 square miles, and,*
" excepting the Colorado which cuts across its' lower
" end, is without river or lake. It stretches off to the
" horizon on all sides without one glimpse of vegetation
" or life. Its surface is ashy and parched; its frame of
" mountains rise in rugged pinnacles of black rock,.
" bare even of soil. Words are unequal to the task of
"desciibing its apparent expanses, the purity ofits air,
" the silence of its night, the brilliancy of the stars that
| overhang it, the tints of the mountains at daybreak,
" the looming up of those beyond the horizon, the glare
" of the mid-day sun, the violence of its local storms
" of dust and sand. Parts are entirely destitute even
"of sand, being smooth, compact, sun-baked clay;
I other parts are covered with heaps of sand, disposed
" like snow drifts in waves of 50 or 80 feet in height."
From Blodget I quote as follows :—" Fremont found
| artemisia or sage at a point but little beyond the 96th
•"meridian on the Kansas, and from this meridian to the
" Rocky Mountains it constantly increased in
"abundance. Further south, plains of salt and
I gypsum occur at about the 97th meridian, and near
1 the Red River (lat. 31 °) in Upper Texas, both
| become very abundant again, occupying most of the
" country. In Lower Texas, at the same meridian, they
I characterize the desert of the Nueces river—thus
I commencing with "great regularity at nearly the same
"point of longtitude for the whole distance, on for
I nearly twenty-five degrees of latitude. The cactus is a
"characteristic plant of the arid region, also. It
I begins still further east, marking sandy localities, in
"some cases east ofthe Mississippi. But the larger
I forms of cactus, and the ' interminable sage desert,'
" have their home in the great interior plains and basins,
1 and they are as decisive of climate in respect of
1 humidity as the glittering efflorescences which are so
1 conspicuous a phenomenon there."
Other authorities might be cited, but these will
suffice. Dr. Hurlbert, referring to them says:—" These
I statements show that the region of summer droughts,
" the desert area—begins at the 97th meridian, a little
| west of the Mississippi, and extends from north to
" south over the whole territory of the United States,
■ from the 49th parallel beyond the southern boundary
| of Texas. From this meridian, the 97th, this climatic
"defect—the want of rain in summer—diminishes
I eastward but increases westward, rendering more than 28
"half the area ofthe United States either altogether
" useless as an agricultural country, or very inferior
" to the country east and north of that region."   Now
the point which I desire to make by these quotations is-
that the tendency of population, having exhausted the
cultivatable areas of the United States, must find its
way into the more favoured territories to the north-
Suppose that, haggling over terms of union, we had
permitted the vast territories to become peopled from
the United States, under the auspices of American
enterprise and as the result of American energy, is it an
extravagant belief to say that these populations would
have been drawn to the country that fostered their
interests, that constructed railways into their territory,,
that developed their resources, rather than to that one
which had spurned and neglected them ?   So far as
British Columbia was concerned, some of its public men'
were already discussing the question of annexation to-
the American Union; and there can be little doubt, that
but for union with  Canada, the Colony must have-
drifted into the arms  of the neighbouring republic,
What would be Canada's chances, with the west thus;
alienated from her, hemmed in between Lake Superior-
and the Atlantic coast ?    Thank God, and I use the-
term not flippantly, but reverently, we are not called.
upon to consider that contingency, and in that fact I
think we have one of the chief grounds for congratulation at the acquisition of " Our Great West."
Then we may congratulate ourselves, because in this^
acquisition, we have secured Western homes on Canadian soil, for the restless sons of Canada, who are-
seized with that insatiable desire to travel towards the]
land of the setting sun, which seems so marked a I
characteristic of the age. It is difficult to estimate the 1
damage that has been done to Canada, by the state-]
ment, too true unfortunately, that many Canadians-!
emigrate to the United States.   We have lost a good] OUR GREAT WEST.
many Canadians, by this process;- but after all the emigration has been nothing like so great as it has been,
from some of the States ofthe Union.   I had occasion a
few months ago to investigate this subject of inter-
migration, for a paper which I prepared for the Canadian
Montlily, and the results were so striking that I cannot
better illustrate my argument than by repeating them
here. The details ofthe census of 1870 have not yet reached me, so that I have not examined them on this point j-
but those of 1860 are sufficient for the purpose.    By
them it appears  that of the native-born population,,
leaving out of account altogether the migrations of the
population of foreign birth, who, after a residence of'
a year or two in one state removed to another, no less-
than 5,774,443 persons had removed from the state in.
which they were born.    The migrations were almost;
exclusively to the Western States,—as the following-
table will show, the States being those which had up to-
that time received a larger number of persons born in
other States of the Union than they had lost of persons
born within their own limits :—
Alabama,    196,080
Arkansas,  195,835
California,    154,307
Florida,      38,549
Illinois, 676,250
Indiana, 455,719
Iowa, 376,081
Kansas,  82,562
Louisiana,   73,722
Michigan,  303,582::
Minnesota,    78,863
Mississippi, 145,239 •
Missouri, 428,222
Oregon,   30,474
Texas,  224,345
Wisconsin,  250,410
District of Columbia,  25,079-
Territories,    76,201
Six of these States have each received from other States
ofthe Union a larger, in some cases a very much larger,
number of persons, natives of other States, than the
entire number of British Americans resident in all the
States combined. In the analysis of the emigration
returns given by the American Census Commissioners,,
the entire number from British America is stated at
rather under a quarter of a million. This number is,.
of course, not confined to native British Americans. It
includes afPwho, after a residence of a few months or ■30
years in this country, emigrated to the States. Yet
how unfair is the use made of the fact of this emigration
will be apparent when it is remembered that seven
States of the Union, all of them having the reputation
of being tolerably prosperous States, had up' to 1860
lost a larger native population by emigration than
British America had lost of native and foreign as well.
The seven states were, Louisiana, 331,904; New York,
867,032; North Carolina, 272,606; Ohio, 593,043; Pennsylvania, 582,512; Tennessee, 344,765; Virginia, 399,-
700. With the exception of New York, all these states
are greatly inferior in population to British America, so
that the proportion of persons emigrating from them is
much greater. Even the states which a few years ago
were regarded as the far Western States, the very
paradise for the emigrant seeking a vvestern home, have
lost largely by migration to new states still further
west. New York, in the short period of ten years,
1850 to 1860, lost no'less than 332,750 of its native
population, and Ohio in the same time 358,748. With
a Great West of our own the tables will be turned.
Not only will Canadian youth in search of the far off
hills which are proverbially greenest, find in our own
great west all that his ambition could ask, but the
Americans, who are* seized with a similar roving disposition, will be forced to go to the only remaining unsettled territories of the continent which are fit for
And as with this intermigration, so with immigration.
It is a curious study to notice how emigration has
followed the opening of western districts. From 1815
to 1840, the number of emigrants from Great Britain
and Ireland to the United States was 458,407, while to
British'America the number reached 532,192. During
the next twenty years, down to 1860, the numbers
were 2,589,799 to the United States, and only 664,329
to   British  America.   Down   to   1870   the   relative OUR GREAT WEST. SI
numbers are about the same, the difference, if any,
being in favor of the United States. Now, as showing
at once the cause and the result of these fiarures, look
at the progress of population in eight of the western
States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota,.
Nebraska, Nevada, and Wisconsin. The population of
all these States combined was, in 1840, 1,224,625, and
in 1870 it had reached 7,349,973. Only the first two
appeared in the census returns before 1840; Iowa and.
Wisconsin appeared for the first time in that year.
Minnesota made its first official appearance in 1850,
and the other three appeared for the first time in 1860.
While the increase of population in the whole thirty-
seven States of the union, was between 1840 and 1870,.
130 per cent., that of the eight States I have mentioned
was a fraction over 500 per cent. And this increase
in the extreme western States has been growing larger.
each year. Thus the numbers added to the population
of Minnesota between 1850 and 1860 were 163,357, and
during the last decade, between 1860 and 1870, they
reached 268,862, an excess of over 100,000. The three
States of Kansas, Nebraska, and Nevada, the most
recently organized States had a population in 1860 of
141,898, which had increased in 1870 to 507,453..
These figures, which are perhaps dry in the recital of
them, are the proofs that westward the tide of emigration
wends its way. The opening up of our Great West
gives us the field by which we may compete, more-
than equally, with our American' neighbours in the
emigration markets of the old world; and by which.
we may offer to our brothers in the good old mother.
land, the benefit of western homes, under the protection.
of the British flag, and in the enjoyment of British
institutions. Great Britain sends forth its quarter of a
million people annually to swell the power of a great.
rival, and possibly some day, hostile, nation. Surely
imperial considerations will be promoted in the opening OUR GREAT WEST.
up   of territories which will secure the continued
allegiance of these wanderers from the parent home.
I have left myself no time to speak of the Pacific
railway, that great interoceanic highway, in which the
people of Montreal have just shown that they take a
deep and a worthy interest; or of that consideration of
a road to the east through British territory, which
may prove yet of so deep interest to the British nation.
They too constitute grounds of congratulation at the
acquisition of our Great West.
I haye only in conclusion to ask, What is to be the
future of these splendid possessions ? They contain,
as we have seen, all the elements for a great nation;
they give promise of being rapidly peopled by the influence of that great tide of western migration which
has made our neighbours, within a century—starting
with a smaller population and with infinitely less advantages in other respects than we possess—a nation of
forty millions, and a power scarcely second to any in
the world. There is the skeleton, to be filled in by the
progress of events until it assumes the full stature of
robust manhood. But a nation depends not alone upon
wide fields and great material resources. You, Bible
students, as the members of a Young Men's Christian
Association are, know, not simply from the bald statement, but from the whole record of Bible history, that
it is righteousness which'exalteth a nation. Upon the
character of the Canadian people must depend the
future character of this great Dominion. Let me exhort
you to preparation for the serious responsibilities which
the future has in store for you; and if you are true to
yourselves, true to your country, true to your God, we
may look forward with head erect and heart and pulse
beating high, to the full development of that national
greatness which we will owe in no small degree to the
acquisition of Our Great West.    


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