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The Hudson's Bay and Pacific territories. A lecture Morris, Alexander, 1826-1889 1859

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1859.  PREFACE.
Public attention is now more generally turned than it
ever was before, toward the vast portion of the American
continent which forms the subject of this Lecture, and
there is moreover a general desire to obtain information as
to the North-Western and Pacific Territories. The writer,
therefore, cherishes the hope that the ensuing Lecture,
which was delivered during the last winter before the
Mercantile Library Association of Montreal, and afterwards before the Mechanics' Institute of Hemmingford,
C. E., will meet a want, and may be found to present,
in brief compass, a concise view of the leading features-
of interest connected with these countries.
A gleaner of other men's labours, he will be well
rewarded for the time spent in preparation, if the perusal
of the ensuing pages leads any reader to take a deeper
interest in the advancement of so large and promising a
portion of the British North American Empire, and to
feel that we have a country of which we have reason to
be proud.
Montreal, 31st March, 1859.
%  —*-*=*.
In appearing before this intelligent auditory
to-night, and claiming their attention for a brief
period, I have selected for their consideration a
subject of much practical importance,—one too
in which the people of Canada have a direct
and immediate interest,—and not only so, but one
which the friends everywhere of civilization
cannot fail to regard with much favour.
In looking back over the past ten years of our
Provincial history and its lights and shadows,
there is no feature more indicative of our real
and substantial progress, than the intelligent
development of the national sentiment, which
is unmistakably evident. Self-respect and self-
reliance in the individual evoke corresponding
sentiments in the minds of others. The man
who goes steadily onward in the face of oppos-
■&. A
ing difficulties, in the spirit of sturdy, honest
self-reliance, toward the accomplishment of a
well-defined and noble purpose, commands the
respect of even those who most differ from him.
And so with a rising nationality.    We must feel
and exhibit confidence in ourselves,—we must
have a settled purpose before us,—and we must
go steadily onward, bringing all our energies to
bear upon its accomplishment, in order to merit
the confidence and retain the esteem of older
nations.    Our Northern rising nationality has an
ample field before it,—a brilliant future in the
distance.  To occupy that field,—to attain to that
future in all its grandeur,—the people of British
North America must take high views of their
plain and manifest responsibilities, must evince
an  adequate  appreciation of their duties, and
must possess a thorough knowledge of the advantages which they possess, and of the vast
resources which Providence has placed at their
disposal, in order that they may advance steadily
toward that high position among the nations
which they may yet attain,—in order that they
may enter upon the full fruition of that rich inheritance of civil and religious liberty  and of
high social and political privileges, which is their
birthright as an offshoot of the three united
nations who compose the British people.
i_: m.
It is, then, under the influence of such
trains of thought and with such objects in view,
that I ask you to-night to travel with me up
the Ottawa Valley, and over the trail of the enterprising adventurers of the old Canadian North-
West Company, and, taking our stand there, judge
for ourselves, like the Israelitish spies, of the
character of that section of a future great empire, which has for a century past been claimed
as the domain of a company of merchants,—
the vast preserve which has been so carefully
guarded from the encroachments of modern
civilization, and which is popularly known as the
Hudson's Bay Territories.
Clearer views, more correct and intelligent
opinions, as to the character of the vast country
in question, are beginning to prevail. The deep,
thick veil of obscurity and darkness in which the
territories were so closely enwrapped, is beginning to be uplifted. The assaults of civilization
have commenced simultaneously from the East
and the West.
And in the sudden pre-eminence which these
countries have reached, and in the rapid planting
of Anglo-Saxon civilization on their virgin soil,
the finger of Providence hasbeen evidently at work
and is plainly to be distinguished. Who could
have dreamt five years ago, that so many influ-
 ^..._. SapsSS
ences would so soon have been at work for the
building up of British power on the shores of
the Pacific ? But looking back over the more
recent past, even the materialist cannot fail to be
struck with the singular manner in which the
discoveries of gold have been, of late years, the
precursor of the advances of the mixed races,
that, for want of a better name, are popularly
known as the Anglo-Saxon race.
Let us thus then, from this point of view, briefly
glance at the history of the past. And coming first to our own American shores, we
observe Britain planting a colony in America.
The colony grows; but at length the ties
that bound it to the parent state are ruptured, and a new and vigorous nation, speaking the
English language and inheriting its literature
and its religion, has taken its stand among the
nations. But time passes on. Away upon the
Pacific, particles of yellow dross are found. The
cry of " Gold I gold I" is raised, and a furious
rush of eager, fierce speculation, sweeps over the
mtervening space, and a thronging horde of energetic AmericaDij occupy the new territory.
Another Anglo-Saxon state, California, claims
admission into the American Union.
But again, a vast continent lay in comparative
— 9
obscurity. Its progress was slow, the distance to
it was great, the prospects of its speedy occupation
dark and gloomy. But suddenly, it is touched
as with a magic wand. Particles of the yellow
dross are found. The cupidity of the nations is
aroused, and a dense inroad of adventurers takes
place. A new wing of the great Anglo-Saxon
family is planted; and a new nationality springs
into birth, destined to take no mean place in
the after-history of the human family, receiving the impress of the British type of mind,
and inheriting the British peculiarities of thought
and of mental training. There, on Australian soil,
has been planted and taken deep root, a vigorous
offshoot of the old British oak.
But again time passes on: another great section of the American continent is lying idle, and
unoccupied to any extent by civilized life. A
great company has it in possession, and seeks to
maintain about it a dense veil of obscurity. It
has been the home of the roving Indian,—the
haunt of the buffalo,—the huge preserve for the
gathering of a few peltries. It is designed that so it
shallremaimwhen again the cry is raised of "Gold!
gold ! | The yellow dross is found on the Eraser
and the Thompson Bivers,and again the irresistible
rush of the Anglo-Saxon family takes place. Bri-
* ... -,. 

tish Columbia takes its place among the Colonies
of the Empire. A new centre of light, civilization, and liberty has been planted upon the
shores of the Pacific.
Surely it is plain to the most superficial
observer, that there is an overruling purpose in
all this. Surely these English-speaking nations
have a mission to discharge to the human race.
Assuredly Britain and America—parent and
daughter—ought to, and will yet have, a common
purpose, and ought to work together in the bonds
of the closest alliance for its accomplishment.
Be this as it may, however, this British race,
with its energy and intelligence, its political liberty, its freedom of speech and of conscience,
and its earnest religious character, is fast disseminating itself throughout the habitable globe.
But not to digress too widely, let us consider
more closely the vast field for its and our occupation which lies beyond us.
The obscurity which enveloped Prince Rupert's
Land is passing away,—the mist of ignorance is
rising,—the country itself is standing forth in its
true light, and appears in a very different aspect
from that it wore when viewed through the
coloured and distorted media of depreciation
and misrepresentation.    The process is going
imsk mMUJUJIL^
steadily on. As some fair statue—freed from
the accumulation of ages in which it lay buried,
and gradually disentombed by some adventurous
Layard—stands before us a vision of beauty and
of rare excellence,—or, to speak more appositely, as the treasures of the hoarding miser are
brought to light, and the tenacious grasp of the
huge main mort of the Hudson's Bay Company
is relaxed, so will these fair Territories stand
before us and present to the attention of the
human family vast expanses of rich arable
country,—goodly habitations for the residence
of civilized man.
Holding, then, such views, I shall consider:
1st. The extent of the Territory; 2nd. Its features and resources; 3rdly. The tenure or
the mode of its holding by the Company:
and then I shall conjecture its future;
and leave you to think over the grandeur
of the British dominions on this continent, as
they now are, and as they will in the process of
time become.
In dealing with this comprehensive and instructive subject, I am aware of its magnitude
and importance, and I feel in no light degree
the difficulty of compression. I therefore
remind you, that, in the course of a brief hour,
1 is
I only design to suggest topics for your after
reflection and consideration.
The large portion of the American continent
which We are to-night considering cannot much
longer remain untenanted by civilized man.
The territory comprehended, or at least claimed
by the company, is a vast one. Its length is
stated by Murray at about 2600 miles, and its
breadth at nearly 1460 miles: though it is diffi-
cult to arrive at a correct estimate, owing to the
extent of its inland seas. Its area, inclusively
of what is now British Columbia, was estimated
by Arrowsmith at 3,060,000 square miles.
This mere abstract statement does not, however,
convey an adequate impression of the vast extent
of the region of Hudsonia. An American
writer, who assumed the territory over which the
company exercise control to contain an area of
2j5003000 square miles only, presents the question to our view in the ensuing forcible terms:
" How much is that ? It is 15^ times larger
than the State of California* about 38 times as large
as the State of New York, nearly twice as large as
the whole of the 31 States of the Union, and,
W we omit the Territory of Nebraska, as large
as all our States and Territories combined !"
Here, then, assuredly is a princely domain, to
3g|jjj|ggg 1
be kept, forsooth, as a preserve for the hunting of
a company of London merchants!   Shall it, can
it, so   continue?     Surely   enlightened  public
opinion will answer in emphatic terms that it
shall not.     Patriotism,   and   respect for   the
interests   of  the   empire,  alike   demand  the
throwing open of this territory to the incursions
of the emigrant; and neither the Britsh nor
the Canadian people can long stand by, and keep
without the huge enclosure, fenced as it may be
with care, guarded by the pains and penalties
of an ancient charter, of doubtful legality, and
beset with sign-boards proclaiming to all the world,
" No trespassers permitted here."   Assuredly,
in sober truth, the time has come when the claims
of humanity, and the interests of a great empire, require that all the portions of this vast
territory which are adapted for settlement should
be laid open to the industrious emigrant;—and
more, that every effort should be made to ascertain what portions of the territory are really
available for settlement.    With the information
we possess, we believe that there are large tracts,
princely provinces in fact, that are well adapted
to become the seats of busy industry; and I
am utterly indisposed, as are, I believe, the people*
of Canada  also,   to accept   as   an accurate IS^
representation " of the character of the territory
of the Hudson's Bay Company, with reference
to its adaptation for the purposes of colonization
and cultivation," the authoritative and positive
assertion of one of the officials of the company
that | no part of the Hudson's Bay Company's territories is well adapted for settlement," however
true it may be of the Siberia to the north of the
True, the interests of a great company require
that it should be so depicted; true, the statement is in harmony with the uniform representation of the company: but, nevertheless,we believe
that looking at the territory, not from the
contracted point of view of a trading company,
but from the higher stand-point of Imperial and
Colonial interests, we shall come, upon undoubted authority, to the moderate but positive conclusions that there are noble provinces in these
territories well adapted for settlement,—provinces
which will yet become important members of the
New Britannic Empire which is quickly being
built-up on these Northern shores.
Our means of information are fast multiplying with regard to the territory. We have
ample data on which to base safe and legitimate
conclusions.    We have had the  evidence of 15
travellers, of missionaries, and of servants of the
company. We are now obtaining the reliable testimony of scientific exploring expeditions, prosecuting their researches from the Eastern and the
Western Territories. In to-night, then, pursuing
our journey westward, I design to travel in good
company; and lest we should lose our way in the
wilds, I will keep close to the prominently-defined
trail of the Governor of Rupert's Land, Sir
George Simpson, as in 1841 he wended his way
on his enterprising " Overland Journey Bound
the World," of which we are in possession of so
lively and graphic an account.
Eirst, we shall steam up the Ottawa as far as
Les Joachims; thence proceed by canoe, via
the Upper Ottawa and the Matawan, to Lake
Nipissing; thence, by same conveyance, down
the Erench River to Georgian Bay (or we can
go trra? far, directly and speedily, by the Grand
Trunk anu Northern Railways); and thence by
steamer, througn Lake Huron and the Sault St.
Mary ship-canal, to Lake Superior, and onward
on that lake to Eort William, near the frontier of Minnesota. Erom this point we shall, in
our canoe, dart merrily up the beautiful river
Karninistaquoia, "whose verdant banks form
a striking and agreeable contrast to the ste-
m 16
rile and rugged coast of Lake Superior."
Passing by the Kakabek^ Ealls, "inferior
in volume only to Niagara, and having the
advantage over it in height of fall and wiMn
ness of scenery," we shall pass through forests of elm, oak, pine, and birck* where " the
river is studded with isles not less fertile than the
banks, many a spot reminding us of the rich and
quiet scenery of England." And as we look over
tjais (to borrow a term from the Governor of the
Hudson's Bay Territories) " perfect paradise as
compared with the adamantine desert of Lake
Superior," the conclusion is? forced upon our
minds, as it was upon that of Sir George
Simpson, "that one cannot pass through
t&b fak valley without feeling that it is
destined, sooner or later, to become the happy
home of c&Tilized men, with their bleating Hocks
and lowing herds, their schools and tjieir
churches, their full garners and their social
hearths." Toiling on our way, " crossing the
height of land between Canada and the Hudson
Bay Company Territoiies," a^they claim it, and
leaving; behind u$ in a shallow pool " one o& tihe
thousand souroes of the St. Lawrence**' descending
the River Embarras, passing through the Ijake
of a Thousand Lakes, o¥CPhthe Erench Portage, 17
over hill and valley,through morass and forest, passing through Sturgeon Lake into the Maligne,
thence through Lac la Croix to the Macan, seeing, as we pass, sturgeons tethered by the Indians
to stakes and waiting their doom, we make a short
portage from the Macan to a stream falling into
the Lac la Pluie, and thence float on to that
Lake.     " The river," says our authority, " which
empties Lac la Pluie into the Lake of the Woods,
is decidedly the finest stream on the whole route.
Erom Eort Erancis downwards, a stretch of 10G
miles, it is not interrupted by a single impediment, while the current is not strong  enough
to   materially   retard   an   ascending   traveller.
When we understand, as we are informed by
Prof. Hind, that the area of arable land in the
Rainy  River   Yalley exceeds  200,000  acres,,
while there are small detached   areas on  the
route between the Kaministaquoia and the Rainy
Rivers of from 50 to 200 acres, which will be of
much importance in the establishment of the line
of communication from Canada, we can appreciate
the   statement  of Sir  George  Simpson,  that
" The banks are no less favorable to agriculture
than the waters themselves to navigation, resembling in some measure those of the Thames near
Richmond.  Erom the very bank of the river there 18
rises a gentle slope of green-sward, crowned in
many places with a plentiful growth of birch,
poplar, beech, elm, and oak."
We can enter most cordially into the vision
that rose before him,—a vision now rapidly approaching realization,—and which he thus foreshadowed :—
"Is it too much for the eye of philanthropy to
discern, through the vista of futurity, this noble
•stream, connecting as it does the fertile shores of
two spacious lakes, with crowded steamboats on
its bosom and populous towns on its borders ?"
But paddling on through the Lake of the
Woods, "whose shores are very fertile," and which
is studded with woody islands, we reach the
head of the Winnipeg, a magnificent stream
which empties the Lake of the Woods, into Lake
Winnipeg. Here, again, apart from the cultivable
■areas varying from 50 to 300 acres along its
•course of 200 miles, we find 20,000 acres of arable
land. The river is. broken by falls and rapids.
Passing down the river, we reach Lake Winnipeg;
.and at length enter on the grand traverse leading
to the mouth of the Red River, and gain first
the lower fort of the settlement, and then
Port Garry, 21 miles higher up the river. And
:so we have in a few minutes accomplished a
w, 19
journey of 500 miles from Eort William, and
have, I trust, derived from the adventure some
information of a practical character.    The route
derives much present interest from the fact that
it is our avenue of approach to the vast prairies of
the Red River and the Saskatchewan,—our pathway to the Red River Settlement, whence we can
take horse and ride'on to the Rocky Mountains,
" over a very fine country."    The North-West
Transportatie^ Company, which has obtained a
charter from the Legislature of Canada, has been
formed for the purpose of opening-up the communication ; and it is to be hoped that it may be
speedily successful in rendering available this short
and expeditious route through the heart of the
■continent to the Pacific.   But for the present,
simply passing through the Red River Settlement,
and forbearing to glance at its eventful history,
in itself an ample theme for a lecture, and reserving to an after part of the evening some account
of its condition and resources, I will ask my
hearers to takeun imagination horse, or, if they
jxrefer it, to stretch themselves for part of the
journey, as far as Edmonton, lazily in a cart, and,
with the cry of "Westward ho!" pass out upon the
fertile prairies, and so attempt to gain the shores
of the Pacific; for the advantage of a beaten path,
again following the route of Sir George Simpson*
On the 3rd of July 1840, then, his adventurous cavalcade defiled " through the gates of Eort
Garry, into the open plains, with a horizon before
them as well defined as that of the blue ocean,
the scene resembling the moving of an Eastern
caravan in the boundless sands of Arabia; a medley of pots, and pans, and kettles in one single
vehicle, the unruly pack-horses prancing under
their loads, and every cavalier armed to the teeth,
assisting his steed to neigh and caper with boot
and spur; the effect being not a little heightened by a brilliant sunrise, the firing of cannon,
the streaming of flags, and the shouting of spectators." We are under way, then.e- The scenery
of the first day is " a perfect level." On the
east, north, and south there was not a mound or a
tree to vary the vast expanse of green-sward,while
to the west were the gleaming bays of the winding
Assiniboine, separated from each other by wooded
points of considerable depth." Next day the cavalcade "brushed the rich grass with their knees."
The rankness of the vegetation savoured of the
torrid zone. In the afternoon, the plains gave
place to a " rolling succession of sandy hills
covered with brush." Next day the journey lay
through tolerably well wooded hills, with a succession of lakes.    In the neighbourhood of these
I   riSHiiaimn i^ae
waters, the pasture^was rich and luxuriant. The
pace now became slower, to keep with that of
the loaded carts. On ascending the eastern
embankment of the valley of the Assiniboia, a
large band of horses was seen, the stud of Eort
Ellice. 'I
Leaving the fort, and passing through a swampy
wood, and through a level meadow several thousand acres in extent, the party trotted away over
prairies studded with clumps of trees, then over
swampy ground, then over prairies, and past a
boundless one as level and smooth as a pond and
covered with an alluvial soil of great fertility. And
so the pace was kept up, at the rate of 4 or 5 miles
an hour, for 10, 12, or 14 hours a day. The
soil for three or four days was, we are told,
absolutely manured with the dung of the buffalo,
so that myriads must have recently passed over
the ground. And the journey went on amid a
country with such characteristics as these, a
picturesque country, sloping banks of green-sward
crowned with thick woods, a beautiful country
with lofty hills and long valleys, till the south
branch of the Saskatchewan was reached. A
smart ride of 4 or 5 hours from the Bow River,
through a country much resembling an English
park, brought the cavalcade to Eort Carlton,on the
1 ;!)!
Saskatchewan. The distance of 600 miles was accomplished in 13 days. The river is here a quarter
of a mile wide, and is navigable for boats from
Rocky-Mountain House to Lake Winnipeg, upwards of 700 miles in a direct line. At the Eort
"therearelarge gardens and fields,producingabundance of potatoes and other vegetables." Next we
journey on from Carlton to Edmondton, on the
north bank of the Saskatchewan. The route lay at
first through a hilly country; then through vast
prairies, the grazing-grounds of the buffalo, a
herd of 5000 having been overtaken by the party.
Sir George Simpson states that buffaloes are incredibly numerous, and that in 1829 he saw
10,000 of their carcasses mired in a single ford
of the Saskatchewan. As they advanced towards
Edmondton, an extensive forest was passed, then a
plain covered with a luxuriant crop of wild
vetches. At length Edmondton was reached.
Here they found a farm. The pasturage was
most luxuriant, and a large dairy was maintained.
Barley yielded a fair return. Wheat was, it is
said, liable to be destroyed by early frost. The
garden produced potatoes, turnips, and a few other
hardy vegetables.
Erom Edmondton, the next stage of the journey
was to Eort Colville, and the path lay through
~r«JVUirtlYl£,«i.     |j !§!33SBsBesiB5HB8s
" every kind of ground, thick swamps, rugged
mountains, rapid rivers, tangled bush, and burning forests" ; but the journey Was, notwithstanding, accomplished at the rate of 40 miles a day.
The weather, during the long journey of nearly
2000 miles, had been an almost unbroken
spell of cloudless skies. During seven weeks
the calvacade had not had one entire day's rain,
and had been blessed with genial days, light
winds, and cool nights. Colville is a mile from
the Columbia. The farm is remarkably productive, cattle thrive well, while the crops are abundant. Wheat weighs from 63 to 65 pounds a
bushel. Maize flourishes, ripening in September.
Potatoes, pease, barley, turnips, melons, and
cucumbers are plentiful.
Here, then, we leave Sir George Simpson
to pursue his adventurous journey " round the
world," and bring before our readers the results
of their observation and of our inquiries. Thus,
then, we have the practicability demonstrated of
a journey of 2000 miles on horseback through
the Hudson's Bay Territories; and we obtain
glimpses of the country, and also obtain many incidental facts and statements, which prove not only
its adaptation for settlement, but that it is adapted
to take the highest rank as a grazing-country..
i 24
A country which affords sustenance to the buffalo in such countless numbers, cannot be a sterile one. Yast stretches of prairie, carpeted
with rich green-sward, present no such obstacles
to the settler as do our own acres of Canadian
forest; and the time cannot be distant when
they will be turned to profitable account. I
have adduced strong testimony as to the character of the country in question; but I feel bound, in
common fairness, to state, that the weight of the
evidence has been somewhat impaired by that of
the same witness when before the Committee of
the House of Commons, and I shall quote, therefore, other authorities as to the capabilities of
the country.
Hear Sir Alexander McKenzie as to the River
discharging Lac la Pluie :—
This is one of the finest rivers in the North-
West, and runs a course west and east of 120
miles     Its banks are covered with a rich
soil, particularly to the north, which in many parts
are clothed with fine open groves of oak, with
the maple, pine, and cedar. The southern bank
is not so elevated, and displays the maple, white
birch, and the cedar, with the spruce, alder, and
various underwood.
" Though the soil at the fort is a stiff clay, "**,
there is a garden, which, unassisted as it is by
manure or any particular attention, is tolerably
Of the Red River District, he says: " The
country on either side of that river is but partially
supplied with wood, and consists of plains covered
v\ ith herds of buffalo and elk, especially on the
western side. On the eastern side are lakes and
rivers, and the whole country is well wooded and
level." And then he says that " there is not perhaps a finer country in the world for the residence
of uncivilized man than that which occupies the
space between this river and Lake Superior."
Professor Hind says: " About Rainy Lake,
and thence to Rainy River and the Lake of
the Woods, following from the latter place the
proposed route across to Red River, the country
is, I think, as well adapted for settlement as any
other part of North America. The climate is
good, the soil in general fertile, water-power is to
be had in abundance, and in the woods there are
many kinds of valuable timber."
I shall in the proper sequence speak more
fully of the Red River Country; and I think that
few will hesitate to continue to believe that it is
neither barren nor unproductive, but that it is well
adapted to become the dwelling-place of a large
i 26
population, and that it has resources extensive
enough to maintain a thriving colony, if once Bri^
tish freedom were established within its borders.
I shall, therefore, here group the result of recent inquiries as to the extent of the known
territory, now or formerly (under some authority
or other) subjected to the control of the company,
but which ought to be thrown open for settlement
and which is well adapted for the purpose. And,
to reverse the order of our view and commence
on the west, I notice, firstly,
Vancouver's island.
With regard to this interesting possession of
the Crown, which comprises 12,000 square miles
and is as long as England, though not so wide,
I quote the testimony of the Hon. Edward
MliGe: " Erom all the accounts we have of
it, it is a kind of England attached to Ame-
eica. ... It should be the principal station of
your naval force in the Pacific. It is an island
in which there is every kind of timber fit for
naval purposes. It has the only good harbor
from San Erancisco to as far north as the
Russian settlement of Sitka. You have in Vancouver's Island the best harbor, fine timber in
everv situation, and coal enough for your whole
V ' Q mj m
navy ; the climate is wholesome^very like that of
England; the coasts abound with fish of every
description;—in short, there is every advantage in
the Island of Yancouver to make it one of the
first colonies and best settlement of England."
Mr. Cooper, long a practical agriculturist, and a
member of the Council of the Island, says of
it:  " The soil is capable of producing all the
crops that we grow in England, and some others
which we  cannot produce,—Indian  corn, for
instance ; but I do not^hinkit would quite come
to perfection on account of the coolness of the
nights."   But he says that" wheat ripens to perfection," and that " dt is one of the finest wheat-
growing countries in the world." Mr. John Miles
says that " The soil of the island is very good and
•very rich, and the climate is, I think, superior to
that of England. . .    There is every necessary in
the island itself for its becoming one of the finest colonies in the world.    It has wood, coal,
good land, and iron. The position is good and the
teMmate is good."    Ex-Governor Blanchard says
" that on the whole the climate is milder than that
Itxf Britain, and that the soil is fertile."
In view of such advantages, and in view of its
evident natural destiny as a great naval station,
a new England, upon which will concentrate a
! m
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flourishing trade with India, Obina, the Indian
Archipelago, and Australia, who can doubt that
its rise will be rapid and its progress steady, as it
is gradually developed into a wealthy and prosperous centre of trade, the smiling home of
thousands of happy colonists I
We have secondly,
This new colony lies between the Rocky
Mountains and the Pacific, and comprises
all the territories bounded to the south by
the American frontier-line of 49 degrees N.
latitude; to the east by the main chain of the
Rocky Mountains; to the north by Simpson's
River and the Einlay Branch of the Peace River;
and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. It includes Queen Charlotte's Island, and the islands
thereto adjacent. It is, according to the Colonial
Secretary, Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, 420 miles
long and 300 broad. Taken from corner to corner,
its greatest length is 800 miles and its greatest
breadth 400 miles. Mr. Arrowsmith computes
its area, including Queen Charlotte's Island, at
more than 200,000 square miles. Of its two gold-
bearing districts, one is on the Erazer River, now
so well known, which river, flowing south from
J£ 29
the N. boundary, falls into the sea at the southwestern extremity of the territory, opposite the
southern end of Yancouver's Island and within
a few miles of the American boundary; the other
is on the Thompson River, which river rises in
the Rocky Mountains, and flows westward to
the Erazer River, about 150 miles from the coast.
It is on these rivers, and chiefly at their confluence, that the gold discoveries were  originally
made.      Mr.    Cooper   is  quoted   by   Bulwer
as stating in a letter addressed to him, that
" Its fisheries are most valuable; its timber the
finest in the  world for marine  purposes.   It
abounds with bituminous coal, well suited for the
generation of steam.   Erom Thompson River and
Colville District to the Rocky Mountains, and
from the 49th parallel  some  850 miles north,
a more beautiful country does not exist.    It is
every way suitable for colonization."
Mr. Cooper stated also, in his evidence before
the Committee of the House of Commons, " that
the climate of the Thompson River country was
one of the most beautiful in the world, and that
it was capable of producing all the crops produced in England." Its winters were more severe
than those of England, but much milder than
those of Canada.    He stated that " its winter, CP
«.,.,. u Jul ... jM0QllMMm~M !■ ILIUU w^<*- I-Plfe ,'- JM,lU-ym.k ^,J,,.viW^..vtf■■■ ,,i -
H   1
being so much milder; would not beat? comparison with a Canadian winter." Such, then,
is the country, in which, under an enlightened policy, a provisional government has been
established, with the intention of eventually according to the infant colony the rights and the
duties of representative institutions; and that so
soon as its society takes shape and form,—so
soon as it arrives at a sufficient stage of advancement for their exercise.
We Canadians cannot but regard with hopeful
interest the progress of this experiment. The
gold-fields, though for a time steadily depreciated,
are proving productive. But even should they yet
become unproductive, good has been accomplished ; and earnest, self-reliant men will push on to
the western slo/pe of the Rocky Mountains and
build-up there on the Pacific shores a thriving.
British colony. When the fever of the gold excitement has passed away and fruitful fields yield-up
their rich harvest, and the hum of busy industry
is heard in the long desolate glades and prairies
of the West^e sound statesmanlike and judicious views of the present Colonial Secretary wijl
have ripened into fggjftion,—views which he
forcibly^ expressed in the British House of Coins
mons when he sajid: "Of one tjking I am sure,
mraxramuvi &
^^^^^r^Sfi^^ m^k
that though at present it is the desire of gold
winch attracts to this colony its eager arid impetuous founders, stiJUf it be reservedy as I hope,
to add a permanent and flourishing race to the
gjjeat human family, it must be, not by the gold
which the digger may bring to light, but by the
more gradual process of patient industry in the
culture of the soil and in the exchange of commerce. It must be in the respect for the equal
laws which secure to every man the power to
retain what he may honesty acquire; it must be
in those social virtues by which the fierce impulse
of force is tamed into habitual energy: and avarice
itself, and the strife of competition, find their objects best realized by steadfast emulation and
prudent thrift."
Eirmly convinced of the sound philosophy and
the practical common sense contained in these
weighty words of a British statesman, we R»^
tjs,h North Americans will watch the future of
British Columbia and Yancouver's Island with
keen interest- and rising hopes, and will
coincide most cordially in the feelings whi&fci
influenced Bulwer, when closing the striking
speech in wkiejfci he had: enunciated his plans for
the development of the new colony: "I conclude, sir, wj£fr a humble trust, that the Divine
3 fe.:.:::,:-.:^'t
disposer of all human events may afford the safeguard of this blessing to an attempt to add another community of Christian freemen to those
by which Great Britain confides the records of
her empire, not to pyramids and obelisks, but to
states and commonwealths, whose history will be
written in her language."
I turn, thirdly, to
Which comprises 50,000 square miles. " The valleys of the Peace and Athabaska Rivers occupy
the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, and share
the Pacific climate in a high degree." Of this
region Sir Alexander McKenzie says : "In the
summer of 1788 a small spot was cleared at the
old establishment, which is situated on a bank
thirty feet above the level of the river, and was
sown with turnips, carrots, and parsnips. The
first grew to a large size, and the others thrived
very well. An experiment was also made with
potatoes and cabbage; the former of which were
successful, but, for want of care, the latter failed.
In the fell of 1787 Mr. Pond had formed on
the bank of the Elk River as fine a kitchen-
garden as I ever saw in Canada. Opposite to
our present situation are beautiful meadows."
m 33
" On the 20th of April," he says, " on the other
side of the river, which was yet covered with ice, the
plains were delightful, the trees were budding and
many plants in blossom."    On the 10th of May,
1793, he writes :  " The whole country displayed
an exuberant verdure."  And to adduce the statements of another eye-witness: 65 years later,
Richard King, M.D., surgeon to the expedition
in search of Sir John Ross, described this country
(as he saw it in 1833) " as a very fertile valley."
" It is bounded on the north by Athabaska Lake,
and on the south by Cumberland House, on the
Saskatchewan; and it is several thousand  miles
square.    The country between the  Athabaska
and the Saskatchewan is an immense area surrounded by water.    When I heard Dr. Livingstone's   description   of  the   splendid   country
which he   found  within  the   tropics   in   the
interior  of Africa, it appeared to me  to  be
precisely   the   kind   of   country   I   am   now
describing.     I passed through  a  great   portion of the district. . .    The soil was a black
mould, evidently alluvial.    I was told by the
traders generally that it was precisely the same
land as that which I passed through, viz. a rich
soil interspersed with well-wooded country, there
being growth of every kind, and the whole vege-
a Bfa*frB^&afrtf* T^^msm
table kingdom alive."   The average temperature of the vast area of which Athabaska is the
northern boundary, he believed to foe about the
same as that of Montreal. Limestone is met with
in all directions.    The birch, beech, and maple
were in abundance, and there is  every sort of
fuel: there is likewise barley.  "'There is one portion of London," he says, " I have often pointed
out to my friends as the sort of country I am
referring to, Kensington, and the magnificent
trees round Kensington Park."   At Cumberland
House    he   found   " capacious   barns,"   and
near it a little colony of thirty persons, with
1500 to 2000 acres under   cultivation.    The
farms   were highly   cultivated.     There   were
corn, wheat, and barley growing.   " At the time
they   were  ordered   off, they  told  me   that
the Company would not allow them   to cultivate ; that it was against the Company, and
therefore the thing was to be broken up. . .   Then
I went to Cumberland House, and found they
were really borne out in what they said; for
the barns and the implements were in the fields,
and the cows, oxen, and horses, and everything,
had gone wild.    I inquired the reason of it.
They told me that Governor Williams had a
penekemt for farming, and the  Company had 85
ordered him off somewhere else. The wheat
was luxuriant; and there were also potatoes,
barley, pigs, cows, and horses." The colonists
appealed to Dr. King, as a government officer,
to relieve them, which he was unable to do."
Here, then, is a large tract of couritry evidently
available for settlement, to which attention should
be directed, with the view of taking advantage of
the inducements it presents for colonization.
Under other management, the little colony of
thirty might have been expanded into an important nucleus of progress and civilization, and the
2000 cultivated acres might have increased a
hundred-fold. Let us hope that henceforth
the country will receive that fair play which it
evidently deserves, and that colonists will have
free and unquestioned license to occupy the virgin
soil without let or hindrance.
I now turn, in my eastward progress, to the
This vast territory comprises an area of 360,-
000 square miles, and presents many advantages
for speedy and extensive colonization. The
great Red and Saskatchewan fivers course
through vast fertile plains. The Red River,
Lake    Winnipeg,    and    the    Saskatchewan
K£S*«S«> ■-*: I
River furnish a navigable water-line of 1400
miles. Steamers, recent explorers have stated,
may ply on the Saskatchewan for a distance of
700 miles above Lake Winnipeg. According
to Mr. Hind, who reported to the Canadian
Government last year, there are, within British
Territory, in the valleys of the Red River and its
affluent the Assiniboia, 1,200,000 acres of cultivable land of the finest quality, and an area of
3,000,00 acres well adapted for grazing purposes.
Surely, with such an expanse ready for occupation,, a long time will not elapse ere prosperous
and populous communities will inhabit its rich
prairies, and a great transcontinental thoroughfare be established, via Canada and the Red
River, to the Pacific. With our tame and prosaic
ideas, with our remembrances of the past, and
with the present stern warfare urged against the
forests of our heavily-timbered lands, it is difficult to form any conception of this boundless
prairie, with its rich, long waving grass glistening
under the rays of the noon-day sun like some
great ocean, but " which, unlike the ever-changing and unstable sea, seems to offer a bountiful
recompense, in a secure though distant home, to
millions of our fellow-men."
The settlement at the Red River was formed ■mm-
Lord Selkirk in 1811, and it has passed
through a severe and trying ordeal.    It has
not advanced much  in population, owing to
the difficulty of ingress and egress, and to the
want   of  a   market  of  sufficient   extent  to
stimulate industry  and encourage production.
The total population in 1856 was 11,814, having
increased 1,200 only in seven years.    The soil at
the Red River Settlement is, according to Dr.
Rae,  of  a very rich  quality.    According to
the Rev.  Mr. Corbett, a Church of England
clergyman who was stationed in the territory,
the country is excellent for agricultural operations, which might probably be extended to a
great distance from the river.  The soil is alluvial.
They cultivate the soil without manuring it; they
sow for 12 or 14 years in succession, and produce
from<4 quarts, 12 bushels of wheat, 65 or 70 lbs. to
the bushel.   .According to Bishop Anderson, the
crops at the Red River are as good as in any
part of Canada.    Mr. Gowles, a farmer, is stated
by Mr. Hind to have grown 56 measured bushels
of wheat to the acre.    Melons grow luxuriantly,
and " all kinds of farm-produce common in Canada succeed admirably in the district of the Assini-
boia; there are wheat, oats, barley, Indian corn,
hops, flax, hemp, potatoes, root-crops, and  all
I 38
kinds of garden vegetables "; and as a grafcing
country in summer and in autumn, the Bed Biver
territory has perhaps no equal. With such a region spread-out before us, inviting occupation,
I can enter heartfly into the belief of Mr. Hind:
" Introduce the European or the Canadian element
i$to the settlement* and in a very few years the
beautiftd prairies of the Red River and the As-
siinboia would be white with flocks and herds,"
and a large and flourishing centre of civilization,
liberty, and progress planted, and another link
established in the chain of communities which
are spriaging-up in British territory between the
Atlantic and the Pacific.
And now, in review of ©or observations
of this tefrifcary, its extent is so vast, and our
means of information have been hitherto so
limited, that it is at present impossible to arrive
at a positive conclusion as to the best modes of
its immediate partial occupation. Doubtless the
experiment now being tried on the Pacific will
solve the difficulty: but it is evident, ^hat other
portions of the wide territory also demand the
promptest attention j and I believe, that, as our
own territory is sufficiently large and we have
scope and verge enough for the expansion of a
dense population (denser than ours will be for
I 39
years to come), similar prompt and energeti©
measures should be adopted with regard to the
Red River country, which, until it be admitted a
member of the Canadian  Confederation,—an
object to be kept steadily in view,—should
meanwhile   be   constituted   into  a territorial
government, under the direct authority of the
Crown,  with   a   constitution   adapted  to   its
position, with entire freedom  for importation
and exportation, save upon the charges, of moderate extent, necessary to defray the expenses
of the government.     Then, with an energetic
colony on the Pacific, with  another  centre  of
civilization and progress on the Red River, and
with Canada stretehing-out towards the prairie
country and kaversing anew her old northwestern path, re-opened   and  improved, the  vast
country would bid fair to be peopled with an industrious population, and the avenue would be
opened-up for the inroad of the locomotive, and
the construction of the Atlantic  and Pacific
Railway would be facilitated, its ultimate construction assured, and a  step of immeasurable
importance taken towards laying the foundation
of the new Britannic Northern Empire on these
American shores.
Is one of those immense undertakings, widen
i I&s
only a great and urgent necessity could call into
life and activity. Yet grand as is the conception,
I hesitate not to say, that it is far more likely to
be constructed within the next twenty years,,
than was ten years ago the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada. Nor am I alone in this belief:
hear the language of Sir Edward Bulwer:
" I believe that the day will come, and that
many now present will live to see it, when a portion at least of the lands on the other side of the
Rocky Mountains, being also brought into colonization and guarded by free institutions, one direct
line of railway communication will unite the
Pacific to the Atlantic."
As to the practicability of the route, I content
myself with quoting the testimony of Sir George
Simpson before the Hudson Bay Committee of
the House of Commons,- that there is a very fine
country through which a railway might easily,
comparatively speaking, be made from the Red
River to the Rocky Mountains. The discovery
by the Palliser expedition of practicable passes
through the Rocky Mountains, ensures the ultimate construction of this great national work.
But with the question of a railway and with that
of colonization, the character of the climate is
intimately associated, and I shall therefore notice
PARI that branch of the subj ect briefly. I have already
incidentally referred to the favorable climate of
Yancouver's Island and of British Columbia, and
the question is one of importance, for the capacity
for settlement is to be determined by climate.
"In an elaborate work recently published in
Philadelphia, (Blodgett's Climatology,' it is
demonstrated that the climate of the northwest
coast, and of the interior towards Lake Winnipeg, is quite the reverse of that experienced in
the same latitudes on the Atlantic, and highly
favourable to occupation and settlement. It is
predicted in that work that a speedy development
of that capacity will take place when the climate
becomes correctly known.
| On the maps of this climatological work we
find lines for the summer, connecting places of
the like measures going very far north, as they go
westward from Philadelphia and New York.
Where the mean is 75 deg., as at New York, the
line connecting points of that temperature strikes
off northwestward after leaving the Ohio River,
and goes almost to the northern boundary of the
U. S. on the Upper Missouri. The measure of
70 deg. goes far on the Saskatchewan River, connecting its western plains with St. Paul, Chicago,
Cleveland, and West Point.    If these cities have
m I
a tolerable climate for summer, the plains of the
Saskatchewan, which lie just east of Erazer River
across the main chain of the Rocky Mountains,
have one capable of settlement. The line of
65 connects Portland, Quebec, Mackinaw,
S&perior City, and Lake Winnipeg. It goes to
the Athabaska River northward, and quite to the
55th parallel, from which it returns southward to
Eort Owen, Eort Colville, and Eort Yancouver, in
Oregon. The coolness of the country westward
is derived from the Pacific, which prevents a high
measure of summer heat, the average for the vicinity of Yancouver's Island and of Eraser River
being between 60 deg. and 65 deg., or almost
precisely such as that for the West of England.
" Again, taking the isothermal chart for the
winter, we have equally important results. The
line of 35 degrees passes down the coast across
the mouth of the Eraser River, and, going as far
south as the Albuquerque in New Mexico, it
reaches the Atlantic coast in the latitude of
Washington city. Generally all the lines of
temperature for the winter, curve far northward
as they approach the Pacific, though they fell
southward at the meridian of the west end of
Lake Superior. The winter climate of the whole
country west etf the 100th meridian is remark-
|   PARLL fl
able, and inexplicably mild to. one who has not
studied the relation of continental climates to
those of the adjacent seas. By the explanation
this position affords, however, much of the case
is made plain. The winds of the temperate latitudes are steadily from the west, and they bathe
the western coasts in milder air, derived from the
adjacent sea. In this manner, Ireland, England,
the west of Norway and Germany, are far milder
than the interior of Russia in the same latitudes.
At Moscow it is very cold in winter, while on
the British coasts snow scarcely falls. It is precisely so on the American continent. Quebec
and Canada and the mountainous portion of
New England represent the cold side, while
Washington Territory, British Columbia, and
Yancouver's Island represent the west of Europe."
This is important testimony, and proves that
scientific researches are not without practical
results of the highest value. In this case they
tend to the development of an empire of the
amplest extent and most abundant natural resources.
Having thus considered somewhat fully the
character of the country under the sway of the
Hudson's Bay Company, or rather of those
portions of it now known to be best adapted
M>y 1
for settlement, I now proceed to inquire upon
what tenure the company claims to hold this
half of a great continent, and find that a
charter was granted by King Charles the Sec-
ond to the company for the promotion of the
public good, and for the encouragement of
the design of the parties for whose benefit it
was granted, viz. "the discovery of a new
passage into the South Sea," and " for finding
of some trade in furs, minerals, and other considerable commodities," which last is subsidiary
to the main object of finding a passage into
the South Seas.
The three things granted thereby, as summarily
stated by Eitzgerald, are:
1st. The territorial lordship of Rupert's
2nd. The exclusive trade of Rupert's Land.
3rd. The exclusive trade with all other ports
to which access might be obtained thence by
land or water.
The words of the grant are vague and inde-
finite in the extreme. Grants were made with
lavish hberality in those days; and in the want
of accurate information as to the extent or locality of the country granted, the gift was clothed
••l.Jllll  w
I   PAR 45
with a multitude of words, so as to comprehend
as much as possible.    The terms' of the grant
are: All the seas, straits, bays, &c, in whatsoever
latitude they shall be, that lie within the entrance of the straits commonly called Hudson's
Straits, together with all the lands and territories
upon the countries, coasts, and confines of the
seas, &c, that are not already possessed by or
granted to any of our subjects, or possessed by
the subjects of any other Christian Province or
State.    It would puzzle  a bench of Judges
to decide the meaning of these terms, and it
would tax the ingenuity of a corps of Provincial Land-Surveyors to run the boundaries of
that grant.    Where are the lands and territories,
upon the countries, coasts, and confines of the
seas, &c, that lie within the Hudson's Straits?
The Company have their own interpretations of
its meaning, and  claim  all the  country  the
waters of which fall into the Hudson's Bay;
and to sustain that view quote the opinion of
eminent counsel.     Sir J. Pelly, long earnestly
interested in the company, says,  in  evidence
given  before  the  House  of Commons,   that
II the power of the company extends all the
way from the boundaries of Lower and Upper
Canada, away to the North Pole as far as the
land goes, and from the Labrador coast all the
Wm%mV*J;*-<fJt<>  -failiMiiifl*»> ^.1«».-»ai ^ssal
way to the Pacific Ocean." An extensive
domain certainly! It is not my intention to
enter at length into the discussion of the legality of this charter or its merits. Its language
is vague; and eminent counsel, Lord Brougham
among them, have maintained that the claims
of the company were untenable, holding that
the expression "within the Sfraits," must
mean such a proximity as would give the
land spoken-of a sort of affinity to Hudson's Straits, and not such lands, as, from
the immense distance (in this case the nearest
point to Hudson's Bay being 700 miles, and
thence extending to a distance of 1500 miles
from it), have no such geographical affinity
or relation to the Straits, but which are not
even approached by the Canadians through
or by the Straits in question; and declaring that
i the enormous extensions of land and territory
now claimed, appeared not to be warranted by
any sound construction of the charter." Passing by the general question of legality with
the simple affirmation of my belief that it
ought to be judicially tested, we, as Canadians, have a special ground of attack against
the Charter and territorial rights, to conserve.
But it must be borne in rmnd, whether we
assume that the charter is valid or invalid, that
1 47
Canada is clearly not entitled to the whole of
the country reaching to the North Pole.   If the
charter be invalid, the British Crown would be
the sovereign of a large portion; but nevertheless, I believe that Canada is the rightful owner
of a large extent of the territory.    The question
of boundary is important, as a subsidiary one,
and its right decision will add  many fruitful
acres to our borders.  The question derives much
significancy from the expressions which expressly
exclude " all the lands already actually possessed
by or granted to any of our subjects, or possessed by the subjects of any Christian Province or
State."    Resting upon this express prohibition,
Canada claims by inheritance a large tract of
the territory.    Canada, under the sway of the
Erench authorities, had  adventurously pushed
her way into the territory, and the subjects of
another " Christian Province " then possessed a
large portion of it.    Lord Brougham, in the
opinion referred to, states: " Indeed, there may
be sufficient reason to suppose that the territories
in question, or part of them, had been then visited, traded in, and in a certain degree occupied
by the Erench settlers or traders in Canada,
erected in 1630, whose trade, prior to the date
of the charter, was, we believe, considerable.
|Hta m
These territories, therefore, would be expressly
excepted out of the grant." Canada, then, as
the representative of Erench Canada, has a right
to demand the extension of its boundaries to their
ancient limits.
But to pass to another branch of the subject.
The grant of the exclusive trade over the territories called Rupert's Land is open to serious
objection. By virtue of it, the Hudson's Bay
Company claim to exclude all other merchants
from the country ; 2nd, claim to prevent the natives from selling their furs to any but privileged
dealers; and 3rdly, claim against British subjects who may settle in the countries included
in the charter, the right to debarr them from
trading. In short, the Company claim and have
endeavoured to maintain a complete monopoly.
Eitzgerald, of whose labours I have made free
use, quotes authorities and cites cases to prove
that such engrossing of trade is unreasonable
and unwarrantable, and that monopolies are without law. The law of England by no means
favours them; but none would be disposed to
ask such summary justice as was dealt-out to
one Sir Erancis Michel in 1621, to whom a
patent was granted for making and selling gold
and silver lace. Eor this crime, as it was regarded,
[+*mn±%&JXfKJ''V 1"1 Imf"
iWf^^ 49
he was " degraded from his knighthood, fined
£1000, carried on horseback with his face to
the tail through the streets of London,
and then imprisoned for life." Such punishments are out of date, and it is well they are
so. In dealing with the destiny of a portion
of the empire, the question is to be considered,
not in a mere dry legal aspect, but on the high
ground of public justice; and in this view,
the continuance of such a monopoly is wholly
indefensible. The day has gone by for its
maintenance; and neither the colonists of Red
River nor their stronger brethren of Canada will
long consent to see trade stifled and cramped
and forced out of its natural channels. But the
Company have still another set of rights,—
the right of exclusive trade with the Indians
over what is known as the " Indian Territories."
This right is not disputed, and is at present held
under the Royal License of Trade granted in
accordance with the Act of Parliament 1 and
2 Geo. IY. cap. 66. This license expires during the present year.
Such, then, is the nature of the rights and
claims of the Company. But before closing
this branch of the subject, I cannot avoid
alluding  to  the fierce warfare which waged
Ig3i£222 ShEse w
between the rival Companies of the Hudson's
Bay adventurers, and the Canadian North-West
Company, or rather the two Canadian Eur Companies. The fur trade was always an important one to Canada. Early, distant expeditions were prosecuted into the North-West, and
the* fur trade was spread as far west as the
banks of the Saskatchewan. The Erench had
a large establishment on the Kaministiquia,
on the line of their communication with the
interior. They had other posts on the Saskatchewan. After the conquest of Canada, the traders
pushed on the trade beyond the Erench limits.
A keen competition arose between them and the
Hudson's Bay Company. At length, in 1783, the
Canadian merchants formed the " North-West
Company," to carry on the fur trade. In
1788, the gross amount of the company's adventure was £40,000. In eleven years it rose to
triple that amount. In 1798 the concern was
increased, and the shares augmented to 46. The
company was enterprising and energetic. It
employed 50 clerks, 71 interpreters and clerks,
1120 canoe-men, and 35 guides. This, then,
was no mean rival to the Hudson Bay Company,
and a long and fierce struggle ensued between
them for the golden prize.   The strife was waged in Canada and it was battled in Britain. The
Hudson's Bay Company urged its extreme pretensions ; the North-West Company set them
at naught in practice, and bearded the lion in
his den, engaging Lord Brougham, Sir Arthur
Pigott, and other eminent lawyers, in their
cause. At length when the rights of the Company were likely to be subjected to the severe
test of passing through the crucible of the law,
the company shrank from the ordeal, and, after
years of abuse, the lion and the lamb lay down
together; and Edward Ellice and the McGillivraj
who had been the leaders of the North-West
Company, were suddenly transformed into manful defenders of the monopoly they had so long
defied. Aaron's rod had swallowed-up all the
other rods, and henceforth they should make
common cause, to retain the princely domain,
which it has been so long the steady policy of
the company to decry and undervalue. The
company were gainers by the result: they secured
the aid of men of keen sagacity and shrewd
judgment; they kept off " interlopers," secured
a long uninterrupted reign, and obtained a
license of trade over the Indian Territories, and,
by and by, the occupation of Yancouver's Island,
with a view to its colonization; and now again, r^^sm — :..-_- r- **v    ' j^zhsz^
&       I
the battle is to be fought, but with other assailants and with another result. Already public
necessities have withdrawn from their grasp a
new colony,—British Columbia. There are yet
others to be erected. I by no means design to
run an unthinking muck against the company.
I believe it to be selfish, and eager for its own
aggrandizement, as companies generally are; I
believe that it has, in its dealings with Russia
and the States, evinced an unpatriotic spirit:
but yet it may be that it was for the advancement of British interests on this continent that
the territories have hitherto remained under
their power,—they might otherwise have been
American. It, moreover, has been well and fitly
said by another: " Perhaps there is no more
striking illustration of the wisdom of that Providence which presides over the management of
affairs, than the fact that emigration was first led
to the Eastern coast, rather than to the slopes or
plains of the West. Had the latter b een first occupied, it is doubtful whether the Eastern seaboard
would ever have been settled. No man would
have turned from the green-sward of the Pacific
to the seamed slopes of the Atlantic edge. As
it is, we have the energy and patience which the
difficult soil of the East generates, with that
II 53
magnificent sweep of Western territory, which,
had it been opened to us first, might, from its
very luxuriancy, have generated among those
occupying it, an ignoble life of ease."
Still, the conclusion is, on the whole, irresistible,
that public policy and the interests of the whole
empire demand, that all those portions of the
territory which are adapted for settlement should
at once be withdrawn from the power of the
Company, the odious existing restrictions on trade
abolished, and free colonization allowed to take
place therein without let or hindrance. The
Red River Settlement would then rapidly de-
velope its resources, augment its population, and
become the seat of a new and powerful colony.
With reference to the Company itself, it may
be that the time has come when it should be
dissolved, and numbered among the things that
were,—that it should gracefully imitate the example of the greater and vastly more influential
East Indian Company, and yield-up its authority and control. But should it, after due reflection and for sufficient reasons, be otherwise determined, then the license to trade, and the territorial authority of the Company over any portions of
the soil but those in actual occupation, should be
subjected to the jurisdiction and right of restric- 54
tion or withdrawal of the colonial authorities of
the various Provinces, or of the Supreme Council of the General Confederation, when such
comes to be. The questions involved in the determination of this matter are grave and important ; the rights and the position of the Indians
are to be thought-of and protected: but still the
fact is obvious and indisputable, that the power
of the Company, if it continue to exist, must be
restrained, and subjected to colonial control; and
that moreover, the rights of colonization and
trade in all the habitable territories, at least,
must be free and unfettered.
This conceded, as it must be if rightly
urged, the results will be startling. With
two powerful colonies on the Pacific, with
another or more in the region between
Canada and the Rocky Mountains, with a
railway and a telegraph linking the Atlantic
with the Pacific and absorbing the newly-
opened and fast-developing trade with China and
Japan, and our inland and ocean channels of
trade becoming such a thoroughfare of travel
o o
and of commerce as the world never saw before,
who can doubt of the reality and the accuracy
of the vision which rises distinctly and clearly
defined before   us, as   the   Great   Britannic
—- 55
Empire of the North stands-out in all its grandeur, and in all the brilliancy of its magnificent
future! Some hard matter-of-fact thinker, some
keen utilitarian, some plodding man of business
may point the finger of scorn at us and deem
all this but an empty shadow,—but the fleeting fantasy of a dreamer. Be it so. Time is
a worker of miracles,—ay, and of sober realities too; and when we look east and west and
north,—when we cause the goodly band of the
North-men from Acadia, and Canada, and the
North-West, and the Columbia, and the Britain of the Pacific, to defile before us, a noble
army of hardy spirits encased in stalwart forms,—
wi.0 are the masters of so vast a territory, of a
heritage of such surpassing value! and when we
.remember the rapid rise into the greatness of
one of the powers of the earth, of the former
American Colonies, and look back over their progress, who can doubt of the future of these
British Provinces, or of the entire and palpable
reality of that vision which rises so grandly be-
fore us of the Great British Empire of the North,
—of that new English-speaking nation which will
at one and no distant day people all this North-
.ern continent,—a Russia, as has been well said,
it may be, but yet an English Russia, with free 56
institutions, with high civilization and entire
freedom of speech and thought,—with its face
to the south and its back to the pole, with
its right and left resting on the Atlantic and
the Pacific, and with the telegraph and the
iron-road connecting the two oceans !
Such is the vision which passed before Victoria, when she said to the Commons of England:
I Her Majesty hopes that this new colony in
the Pacific may be but one step in the career of
steady progress by which Her Majesty's dominions in North .America may ultimately be peopled, in an unbroken chain from the Atlantic to
the Pacific, by a loyal and industrious population
of subjects of the British Crown."
Such was the patriotic vision that passed
before the mind of Roebuck, when,, on the
shores of Galway, he exclaimed: 51 We lost the
United Provinces of New England; we lost
them, but our good fortune enabled us to make
a Northern America. Our great North American Colony stretches now from Halifax to
Vancouver's Island. Up the St. Lawrence, along
the lakes, through the Saskatchewan, across
the Rocky Mountains, the flag of England is
predominant.   The language of England goes 57
from Halifax to Yancouver's Island: the institutions of England will reach thence as far as
habitable land goes, even to the poles, and we
shall have such a dominion as the world never
Yes, .such is the vision which is present to
us, and to many others " to the manor born,"
whose all and whose destiny is here. Yes, we
know, and feel, and are assured, that if the people of these British Provinces are but true to
themselves, and if the people and the statesmen
of Britain but act aright their part, then this
dream will be realized, and that perhaps ere the
men of this generation have all passed from
this fleeting scene. Let us each and all, then, do
our part in our respective spheres, however humble they may be, toward the accomplishment
of so noble an enterprise; and meanwhile, let us
most heartily send forth, with all the fervor of
earnest patriotism and with all the earnestness
of true leal-hearted British North Americans,
the aspiration,—


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