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Title: Pictures of Canadian Life - A Record of Actual Experiences
Author: Ritchie, J. Ewing (James Ewing), 1820-1898
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pictures of Canadian Life - A Record of Actual Experiences" ***

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Transcribed from the 1886 T. Fisher Unwin edition by David Price, email

                             NOTE TO PAGE 56.

Sir Charles Tupper tells me that I was totally misinformed.  I am sorry
to have been led astray, and have pleasure in making the correction,
which was received, unfortunately, after the chapter had been worked off.

  [Picture: Dr. Barnardo’s Distributing Home for Children, Peterborough,

                              CANADIAN LIFE

                                * * * * *

                      A Record of Actual Experiences

                                * * * * *

                             J. EWING RITCHIE


                                * * * * *

                       _WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS_

                                * * * * *

                             T. FISHER UNWIN
                          26, PATERNOSTER SQUARE


CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
        I.  Introductory.—Canadian Territory and                     1
       II.  Off With The Emigrants—The Voyage Out—The               16
            ‘Sarnia’—The Cod-Fishery
      III.  Arrival at Quebec                                       33
       IV.  At Montreal, and on to Ottawa—Interviewing and          45
        V.  Toronto—The Town—The People—Canadian                    74
            Authors—The Leader of the Opposition
       VI.  Off to the North-West—Niagara—Lake                     104
            Superior—The Canadian Pacific Railway—At
      VII.  Life on the Prairie                                    148
     VIII.  Amongst the Cow-Boys                                   174
       IX.  In the Rockies—Holt City—Life in the Camp—A            194
            Rough Ride—The Kicking Horse Lake—British
        X.  Dangers of the Rockies—Prairie Fires—The               225
            Return—Port Arthur—Emigrants
       XI.  Back to England—Canadian Hospitality—The               245
            ‘Assyrian Monarch’—Home
      XII.  Colonization in Canada                                 255


Dr. Barnardo’s Distributing Home for Children,          _Frontispiece_
Peterborough, Ontario
Falls of Montmorenci—Quebec—Junction of the River                   48
Ottawa and St. Lawrence, Montreal
King Street, Toronto                                                78
Second Year on a Prairie Farm, Canadian North-West                 134
Calico Island, Saskatchewan River, Canadian                        135
Hunting Scene on the Souris River                                  145
Souris Valley, Manitoba                                            147
Pioneer Store at Brandon in 1882                                   162
Harvesting on the Bell Farm—Indian Head, N.W.T.                    172
Mount Stephen in the Rocky Mountains, On the Line                  197
of the Canadian Pacific Railway
Thunder Bay, Lake Superior                                         242



Lunching one day in Toronto with one of the aldermen of that thriving
city (I may as well frankly state that we had turtle-soup on the
occasion), he remarked that he had been in London the previous summer,
and that he was perfectly astonished at the idea Englishmen seemed to
have about Canada.  He was particularly indignant at the way in which it
was coolly assumed that the Canadians were a barbarous people, planted in
a wilderness, ignorant of civilization, deficient in manners and
customs—a well-meaning people, of whom in the course of ages something
might be made, but at present in a very nebulous and unsatisfactory
state.  It seems my worthy friend had gone to hear a popular Q.C.—a
gentleman of Liberal proclivities, very anxious to write M.P. after his
name—deliver a lecture to the young men of the Christian Association in
Exeter Hall on Canada.  Never was a man more mortified in all his life
than was the alderman in question.  All the time the lecture was being
delivered, he said, he held down his head in shame.  ‘I felt,’ said he,
rising to a climax, ‘as if I must squirm!’  What ‘squirming’ implies the
writer candidly admits that he has no idea.  Of course, it means
something very bad.  All he can say is, that it is his hope and prayer
that in the following pages he may set no Canadian squirming.  He went
out to see the nakedness, or the reverse, of the land, to ask the
emigrants how they were getting on, to judge for himself whether it was
worth any Englishman’s while to leave home and friends to cross the
Atlantic and plant himself on the vast extent of prairie stretching
between Winnipeg and the Rocky Mountains.  What he heard and saw is
contained in the following pages, originally published in the _Christian
World_, and now reproduced as a small contribution to a question which
rises in importance with the increase of population and the growing
difficulty of getting a living at home.

As a rule, the English know little more of Canada than that it belongs to
us—that it is very cold there in winter and very hot in summer.  I
happened to be on board the _Worcester_ training-ship on the last
occasion of the prizes being given away, and was not surprised to find
that Canada was especially referred to as illustrating the defective
geographical knowledge of the young cadets.  In the _London Citizen_ a
few weeks later there was still grosser display of ignorance on the part
of a writer who had gone to Montreal to attend the meetings of the
British Association there, and who complained bitterly of the lack of
garden-parties and champagne lunches.  This victim of misplaced
confidence owned that he had to put up with tea and coffee and
non-intoxicating beverages when he did so far condescend as to accept
Canadian hospitality.  Yet the writer of that letter was a barrister, at
this very time a candidate for Parliament.  Had he an atom of
common-sense, he might have known—this distinguished barrister and
ornament of the British Association for the Advancement of Science—that
Canada is a young country; that its wealth is still undeveloped; that the
greater part of it is prairie; that the settler—in his heroic efforts to
subdue Nature, to make the wilderness to rejoice and blossom as the rose,
to build up a grand nation in that quarter of the globe, to spread in a
region larger than the United States the Anglo-Saxon laws and
civilization and tongue—has to renounce luxury, to scorn delights, to
live laborious days.  Canada is not the place for members of the British
Association who long for the flesh-pots of Egypt or the champagne-cup.
In Canada one has to live simply and to work hard.  He who does so work,
though in England he may die a pauper, there becomes a man.  Canada
offers to all independence, a fertile soil, a bracing air.  At present
there is little chance of the majority of its people being enervated by
luxury or demoralized by wealth.

Canada is a country, however, with room and scope for millions who must
starve and die in Europe.  Its area is 3,470,392 square miles, and its
most southern point reaches the 42nd parallel of latitude.  It possesses
thousands of square miles of the finest forests on the continent, widely
spread coal fields, extensive and productive fisheries, and rivers and
lakes of unequalled extent.  The country is divided into eight provinces,
as follows: Nova Scotia, containing 20,907 square miles; New Brunswick,
27,174; Prince Edward Island, 2,133; Quebec, 188,688; Ontario, 101,733;
Manitoba, 123,200; the North West, 2,665,252; British Columbia, 341,305.
Newfoundland lies outside the Dominion, for reasons best known to itself.

According to the census taken in 1881, the population at that time
numbered 4,324,810, distributed as follows: Nova Scotia, 440,572; New
Brunswick, 321,233; Prince Edward Island, 108,891; Quebec, 1,359,027;
Ontario, 1,923,228; Manitoba, 65,954; the North West, 56,446; British
Columbia, 49,459.  These figures must be much added to if we would get an
idea of the growth of population, especially in the North West, which has
increased by leaps and bounds.  Up to 1870 it was as it had been since
the charter of Charles II.—the happy hunting-ground of the Hudson Bay
Company.  As late as 1870 it had no railway communication, no towns or
villages, few post-offices, and no telegraph.  There must be a million of
people settled there by this time, and yet it is a wilderness almost
untrod by man.  The origins of the populations are returned as follows:
891,248 English and Welsh; 957,408 Irish; 699,863 Scotch; 1,298,929
French; 254,319 Germans.  The balance is made up of Dutch, Scandinavians,
and Italians.  A large number of persons who were born in the United
States are to be found in Canada—and why not?  They have in Canada a
government quite as free as in the United States, though the Canadians
prefer to have a holiday on the Queen’s birthday rather than the 4th of
July, and an English Viceroy—who at any rate is a gentleman—to an
American President.  Anywhere in Canada the Englishman is at home.  The
people have an English look.  Directly you pass the border into the
States you see the difference.  There is an astonishing contrast between
the healthy Canadian and the lean and yellow Yankee.

Canadian history is one record of toil and struggle—of the advance of the
whites, of the retreat of the native races.  Foremost in suffering were
the French.  In 1608 the first permanent settlement in Canada was made by
Champlain, who founded Quebec, and afterwards discovered the lake which
still bears his name.  It was he who taught the Iroquois to stand in awe
of gunpowder; but, alas! familiarity bred contempt, and the Red Indian
was more than once on the point of exterminating the white man.  It was
only by the intercession of the Saints that the feeble colony was
preserved.  At Montreal, for instance, the advanced guard of the
settlements, some two hundred Iroquois fell upon twenty-six Frenchmen.
The Christians were out-matched eight to one, but, says the Chronicle,
‘the Queen of Heaven was on their side, and the Son of Mary refuses
nothing to His holy Mother.  Through her intercession the Iroquois shot
so wildly, that at their first fire every bullet missed its mark, and
they met with a bloody defeat.’  No wonder the French were animated with
renewed zeal.  Father Le Mercier writes: ‘On the day of Visitation of the
Holy Virgin, the chief Aontarisati, so regretted by the Iroquois, was
taken prisoner by our Indians, instructed by our fathers, and baptized;
and on the same day, being put to death, I doubt not he thanked the
Virgin for his misfortune and the blessing that followed, and he prayed
to God for his countrymen.’

It was no common faith that led the French monks to seek to make Canada
theirs.  Their sufferings from cold, from starvation, from the savages,
from want of all the comforts of life, seem to have been as much as
mortal men could bear.  But they made many converts.  On one occasion,
when the French Chaumont had delivered an address, his Indian auditors
declared that if he had spoken all day they should not have had enough of
it.  ‘The Dutch,’ said they, ‘have neither brains nor tongues; they never
tell us about paradise or hell.  On the contrary, they lead us into bad
ways.’  Nothing could daunt the Jesuits—not the loss of all they had, nor
protracted suffering, nor cruel death.  ‘The blood of the martyrs is the
seed of the Church,’ said one of them; ‘and if we die by the fires of the
Iroquois, we shall have won eternal life by snatching souls from the
fires of hell.’

Let us listen to Chaumont again, as he stands before his savage
hearers—he and his companions having first, with clasped hands, sung the
‘Veni Creator’: ‘It is not trade that brings us here.  Do you think that
your beaver-skins can pay us for all our toil and dangers?  Keep them, if
you like; or, if any fall into our hands, we shall use them only for your
service.  We seek not the things that perish.  It is for the faith that
we have left our homes, to live in your hovels of bark and eat food which
the beasts of our country would scarcely touch.  We are the messengers
whom God has sent to tell you that His Son became a man for the love of
you; that this man, the Son of God, is the Prince and Master of men; that
He has prepared in heaven eternal joys for those who obey Him, and
kindled the fires of hell for those who will not receive His Word.  If
you reject it, whoever you are—Onondaga, Seneca, Mohawk, Cayuga, or
Oneida—know that Jesus Christ, who inspires my heart and my voice, will
one day plunge you into hell.  Be not the authors of your own
destruction.  Accept the truth; listen to the voice of the Omnipotent!’

Wonderful miracles sustained and renewed this ardent faith.  In the
autumn of 1657, there was a truce with the Iroquois, under cover of which
three or four of them came to the Montreal settlement.  Nicholas Godé and
Jean Pière were on the roof of their house, laying thatch, when one of
his visitors aimed his arquebuse at Saint Pière, and brought him to the
ground like a wild turkey from a tree.  The assassins, having cut off his
head and carried it home to their village, were amazed to hear it speak
to them in good Iroquois, scold them for their perfidy, and threaten them
with the vengeance of heaven; and we are told they continued to hear its
voice of admonition even after scalping it and throwing away the skull.

During a great part of this period, the French population was less than
three thousand.  How was it they were not destroyed?  Mr. Parkman tells
us for two reasons.  In the first place, the settlements were grouped
around three fortified posts—Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal—which, in
time of danger, gave an asylum to the fugitive inhabitants; and secondly,
their assailants were distracted by other wars.  It was their aim to
balance the rival settlements of the Hudson and the St. Lawrence.  It was
well for Canada when France lost hold of her.  In 1666, Louis the Great
handed her over, bound hand and foot, to a company of merchants—the
Company of the West, as it was called.  As, according to the edict, the
chief object in view was the glory of God, the Company was required to
supply its possessions with a sufficient number of priests, and
diligently exclude all teachers of false doctrine.  It was empowered to
build forts and war-ships, cast cannon, wage war, make peace, establish
courts, appoint judges, and otherwise to act as sovereign within its own
dominions.  A monopoly of trade was granted it for forty years, and
Canada was the chief sufferer; but at any rate the peopling of Canada was
due to the king.  Colbert did the work and the king paid for it.
Protestants were objected to.  Girls, to be wives to the emigrants, were
sent out from Dieppe and Rochelle.  In time, girls of indifferent virtue,
under the care of duennas, emigrated to meet the growing demand for
wives.  ‘I am told,’ writes La Houtan, ‘that the plumpest were taken
first, because it was thought, being less active, they were more likely
to keep at home, and that they could resist the winter cold still
better.’  Further, such was the paternal care of the king for Canada,
that he attempted to found a colonial noblesse, and offered bounties for
children.  The noblesse were a doubtful boon: industrious peasants were
much more to be desired.  Leading lazy lives, many of the gentilhommes
soon drifted into the direst poverty.  The Canadians had one
advantage—their morals were well looked after by the priests, who kindly
took charge of their education as well.  Compared with the New England
man, the habitant had very much the advantage.  He was a skilful
woodsman, able to steer his canoe, a soldier and a hunter.  Nevertheless,
when Wolfe’s army had scaled the heights of Abraham, and won Canada for
the British, it was the beginning of a new life.

‘England,’ writes Mr. Parkman, ‘imposed by the sword on reluctant Canada
the boon of rational and ordered liberty.  A happier calamity never
befell a people than the conquest of Canada by the British arms.’  But it
was not till the American Revolution had broken out, and the royalists
left the States to found in Canada a strong colony attached to the
British Crown, that Canada may be really said to have been a part and
parcel of the Empire, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.  It was
necessary to move many of the French Canadians elsewhere; and those who
remained, still for long looked with an unfriendly eye on England and her



One Wednesday at the end of April, last year, St. Pancras Railway Station
was the scene of a display not often matched even in these demonstrative
days.  Mr. J. J. Jones, of the Samaritan Mission, had arranged to take
out a party of five hundred emigrants to Canada—the first party of the
season.  The event seemed to create no little excitement in philanthropic
circles.  The Lord Mayor had promised to be there, but he was detained in
the City, possibly in defence of the ancient Corporation of which he has
become the champion; but he sent a cordial letter, as did many other
distinguished people, to express sympathy and goodwill.

In the absence of the Lord Mayor, the Earl of Shaftesbury, after the
emigrants had been got together in a waiting-room, presided at a farewell
meeting, which ought to have sent the emigrants in the best of spirits to
the new homes they expect to find on the other side of the Atlantic.
They would, said his lordship, still be under the reign of our Queen.
They would confer a great blessing on the country whither they were
going, and they would show what they could do as good citizens in
subduing and replenishing the earth, and in spreading over the world the
Anglo-Saxon race.  He hoped that the young men present would come back to
England for wives, and ended with his best wishes for all in the way of a
safe voyage and temporal and spiritual good.

The Earl of Carnarvon, who next spoke, had this advantage over the noble
chairman, in that he had made a trip to Canada himself.  The emigrants,
he said, would encounter difficulties.  They were not going to a
paradise, but they would find that they had a better chance of getting a
living in the New World; especially if they avoided bad company and the
crowded towns, and got into the country, and underwent a certain
preparatory training.  As to Canada, it was a country in which a man
would succeed who had health and strength and industry, and a good head
and a good heart, and the fear of God to teach him that honesty was the
best policy.

Sir Henry Tyler, M.P., the chairman of the Grand Trunk Railway, followed
in a similar strain.  The people were not crowded up in Canada as they
were here.  It was a grand country for honest, hard-working men and
well-behaved women; but he recommended them at first to seek good honest
people to work with, rather than high wages.  Turning to the young women,
he assured them they would find good husbands in Canada—a remark which
seemed to give them much satisfaction; and he hoped that they would have
large families when they married, as large families were a blessing out

Then came forward Mr. Clare Sewell Read, M.P., who, as a countryman, said
he saw some country bumpkins in the party, and he could assure them, as
he had been in Canada, its soil was unrivalled for fertility.

Lord Napier of Magdala followed, and then came the Hon. Donald A. Smith,
one of the directors of the Canadian Pacific Railway, to tell how people
prospered in Canada who behaved well and worked hard.  The Rev. Oswald
Dykes and the Rev. Burman Cassin also addressed the audience; and there
were others, such as the Earl of Aberdeen, the Rev. W. Tyler, and the
Rev. Styleman Herring, who were ready to say a few words had time
permitted; but the train had to be packed up with passengers and luggage,
and there was no time to spare.

In a few minutes they were off, amidst tears and cheers, while Mr. Jones
and I, with Mr. Alexander Begg, of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the
remainder of the emigrants, followed.  A little after five we arrived at
Liverpool, and then Mr. Jones had to work like a horse.

Meanwhile, I, with a couple of artistic friends, who are to sketch us,
all took our ease in our inn, from which comfortable quarters I felt
sadly indisposed to stir; but I had to see the emigrants off, and my
heart sank into my shoes as, looking at the hundreds swarming the
platform, and the pyramids of luggage, and then at the _Sarnia_ moored in
mid-stream, the thought suggested itself, How on earth can they all be
stowed away?—a query which, however, was soon settled, as, at a later
hour, I found myself on board the _Sarnia_, leaving smoky Liverpool
behind, and with the ship’s head turned to the sunset ‘and the baths of
all the Western stars.’

The _Sarnia_, it may be as well to inform my readers, is one of the
screw-steamers running between Quebec and Liverpool, by the Dominion
Line, which line commenced its gay career in 1870.  I ought to be very
happy on board, since I learn, from the attentive perusal of documents
lying in the cabin, that, owing to the lines in the model, the rolling of
the ship is to a great extent, not destroyed, but reduced, making a
considerable decrease in sea-sickness, and that in the book of rules and
regulations compiled for the guidance of the Dominion Line officers, they
must run no risk which might by any possibility result in accident to the
ship, and that they are further requested to bear in mind that the safety
of the lives and property entrusted to their care is the ruling principle
that should govern them in the management of their ships.  I almost fancy
I must have thrown away my money in insuring my life against loss and my
person against accidents.  What have I to fear, if the rules and
regulations of the company be observed?  I am very glad, as it is, I did
not insure for a larger sum, though the agent, who, of course, had his
eye on the extra commission, was kind enough to suggest it were well to
insure for the larger sum, _in case the ship went down_!—a thing not to
be dreamed of.

I have consulted that oracle of our fathers—Francis Moore.  In his ‘Vox
Stellarum’ he tells me, to my comfort and satisfaction, that after the
25th of April the winds will be light.  Francis Moore, you may tell me,
is not weatherwise.  Are the scientific meteorologists, with their
forecasts, wiser?  It is hard to say.

It is a comfort to think that the emigrants are well off for literature.
The _Graphic_ company—whose last dividend, I learn, was a good deal over
a hundred per cent.—have sent a tremendous packet of _Graphics_.  The
Bible Society sent Testaments.  The Religious Tract Society have placed
at Mr. Jones’s disposal tracts and books.  The Rev. Newman Hall has sent
250 books, while a goodly packet of the ‘Family Circle Edition’ of the
_Christian World_ will, I dare say, be in much request—quite as much as
the five hundred sheets of hymns which the Earl of Aberdeen brought with
him on Wednesday to St. Pancras as his contribution to the common stock.
Yes, indeed, as my Welsh friends would say, the lines for us are cast in
pleasant places, and we have a goodly heritage.  It is to be hoped it may
be so.

I never saw a more tidy lot of emigrants—some of them evidently the right
class to get on.  I had an amusing chat with one, who told me what
inquiries he had made before he would entrust Mr. J. J. Jones with ‘Cæsar
and his fortunes.’  If the emigrants are all like him, the Yankees, if
there be such in Canada, will find it rather difficult to take them in.
We swarm with children and babies.  I fear some of us will wish, before
we reach the St. Lawrence, that good King Herod was on board.  Of course,
these are not my sentiments.  I suppose most of us were babies once—there
is every reason to believe that I was; nevertheless, the most gushing
mother will admit that there are times when even the sweetest of babes
ceases to charm.  My companions in the smoking-room the first night were,
however, by no means babes.  I had not been there half-an-hour before I
was offered 34,000 acres of land—abounding with fish and game, and all
that the carnal heart could desire—a decided bargain.  I did not close
with the offer.  Perhaps I ought to have done so.  But such earthly
grandeur is beyond my dreams.

Nothing can be drearier or more monotonous than a trip to Canada in the
early season of the year.  After you leave Ireland, you see no
ships—nothing but the sea, grey and dull as the heaven above.  Now and
then a whale comes up to blow, and that is all; and when the wind blows
hard, you get nothing but big, lumpy waves, which set the ship rolling,
and add only to the discomforts.  And then you are on the Newfoundland
banks, where you may spend dull days and duller nights—now going at
half-speed, now stopping altogether, while the fog-horn blows dismally
every few minutes, and whence you can see scarcely the length of the ship

Like Oscar Wilde, I own that I am very much disappointed with the
Atlantic.  The icebergs are monotonous—when you have seen one, that is
enough.  In the saloon, we are a sad, dull party; even in the
smoking-room, one can scarcely get up a decent laugh.  I pity the poor
emigrants in the steerage, whom a clever young Irish journalist on board,
with the instinct of his race, has failed to excite into a proper state
of indignation on account of the discomforts of the voyage, and the
hardness of the potatoes—always a matter of complaint in all the ships
that I have ever been on board of.

The raw, cold, damp fog has taken all the starch out of the steerage
passengers, always the first to grumble on sea, as they are on shore; yet
on one occasion they did go so far as to send a deputation to the
captain, and what, think you, was their grievance?—that they had no sauce
to their fish!—a grievance of little account, when one thinks of the
sauce we had served up in the saloon.

As a rule, the steerage passengers are a difficult body to deal with;
they seem so helpless, and require so much looking after.  Mr. Jones has
enough to do to look after his.  If they lose anything, however paltry,
he is appealed to.  If they require anything not provided in the bill of
fare, he is sent for.  It is very clear to me that his party have great
advantages.  He has taken down all their occupations, and when we arrive
at Quebec they will all, if possible, be provided with employment, and
will be at once forwarded to their destination, without loss of time or
expenditure of cash.  Many of them are also assisted by his Society with
small sums of money, and in every way they are helped as few other
emigrants are.

We have on board a party of fifty-one lads, sent out by Dr. Bowman
Stephenson, who has a depôt somewhere near Hamilton, and a helper is on
board to take care of them.  Some of them are of very juvenile years,
and, it is to be believed, in Canada will find a far more favourable lot
than they ever could in the streets and slums of the East End.

‘What are you going to do?’ said I to one of them the other morning.

‘Please, sir, I am going to be adopted,’ was the reply; and adopted he
will be by some worthy couple who, having no children of their own, are
ready to give the little outcast a home such as he never could have found
in the old country.

We have also an agent on board, who, for a certain sum, agrees to take
young fellows out and to find them suitable situations.  That is a course
I should not recommend.  A young fellow had far better keep that extra
cash in his pocket, get out as far into the North-west as he can, there
hire himself to some settler, who at this time of year is sure to be in
need of his services, and then in a year or two he will be able to get a
grant of land on his own account, on which, after three years of real
hard work, he will be able to live in peace and comfort, and to achieve
an independence of which he has no chance on our side of the Atlantic.

It quite grieves me to think of the poor farmers I have known at home,
wasting their time and capital and strength in a hopeless effort to make
both ends meet, who might be doing well out here, with the certainty that
their families will be left in a comfortable position as far as this
world’s goods are concerned.  One thing, however, I must strongly impress
upon the emigrant, and that is, the necessity of coming out in the

It is madness to cross the Atlantic in the autumn; when he lands at
Quebec, he will find nothing to do, and must live on his capital, or
starve till next spring; and if I might recommend a ship, it certainly
would be the _Sarnia_, on which I now write.  She is slow but sure.  Her
commander, Captain Gibson, is all that a captain should be—not a
brilliant conversationalist, not one of those men who set the table in a
roar; but cautious, skilful, fully alive to the responsibilities of his
position and the dangers of his calling.  As to the dangers, it is
impossible to exaggerate them.  There are more than a thousand of us on
board, and were anything to happen, not more than three hundred of us
could, I should think, be crowded into the boats, provided that the sea
were quite calm, and that we had plenty of time to leave the ship; and in
a panic and in bad weather, it is clear that even such boats as the
_Sarnia_ is supplied with would be of little avail.  Safety seems to me a
mere matter of chance.  You hit on an iceberg, and down goes the ship
with all on board, leaving no record behind.

As a matter of fact, I believe these big steamers often, on a dark night,
run down the vessels engaged in fishing off the Newfoundland banks.  When
we passed, the season had scarcely commenced.  It is in May, towards the
end of the month, that the fishing commences.  The chief fishermen are
the French, who mostly hail from St. Malo, and who have in the Gulf of
Newfoundland two small islands, which they use for fish-curing.  You get
an idea of the extent of these fisheries, when I tell you that the total
value of them amounts to three millions a year, and that the supply seems
inexhaustible.  Romanists and High Churchmen who indulge in salt cod in
Lent have little cause to fear that that aid to true religion will
cease—at any rate, in our time.  The fishing season lasts until November,
when the shoals pass on to their winter quarters in deeper waters.

The delicate and the consumptive have many reasons for thankfulness in
connection with this fishery.  What they would do without the cod-liver
oil, which has saved and lengthened many a valuable life, it were hard to
say.  It is to England that almost all the cod-liver oil comes.  The cod
roe, pickled and barrelled, is exported almost entirely to France, where
it is in great demand, as ground-bait for the sardine fishery.  How great
that demand is, the reader will at once perceive when I tell him that no
fewer than 13,000 boats on the coast of Brittany are engaged in the
sardine fishery alone.

I ought to say that these Quebec steamers are, as regards saloon
accommodation, and the class of people you meet with on board, not quite
on a par with those which ply between Liverpool and New York.  Perhaps
the latter are fitted up almost too splendidly.  ‘When the stormy winds
do blow’—when everyone is ill—when you are in that happy state of mind
when man delights you not, or woman either—the gilded saloons, the velvet
cushions, the plate glass and ornamented panels, seem quite out of place;
to say nothing of the luxurious dinners, which not everyone is able to
enjoy.  Such things are better fitted for summer seas and summer skies.



Once more I am on _terra firma_, and on Canadian soil, where I breathe a
balmier air and rejoice in a clearer atmosphere than you in England can
have any idea of.  After all, we were in twenty-four hours before the
mail steamer, the _Sarmatian_, which you must own is a feather in the cap
of the _Sarnia_.  One hears much of the St. Lawrence, but it is hard to
exaggerate its beauties.  When you are fairly in it, after having escaped
the fog of the Newfoundland Banks and the icebergs of the Gulf, on you
sail all day and night amidst islands, and past mountains, their tops
covered with snow, stretching far away into the interior, guarding lands
yet waiting to be tilled, and primeval forests yet ignorant of the
woodcutter’s axe.  A hardy people, mostly of French extraction, inhabit
that part of the province of Quebec; but as you reach nearer to the
capital, the land becomes flatter, and the signs of human settlement more
frequent in the shape of wooden houses, each with its plot of ground,
where the rustics carry on the daily work of the farm, or in the shape of
villages, inhabited by ship-wrecked fishermen, who have intermarried with
the French, and whose children, if they bear the commonest of English
names, are at the same time utterly ignorant, not only of the tongue that
Shakespeare spake, but of the faith and morals Milton held.  They are a
lazy people, living chiefly on the harvest of the sea, and doing little
when that harvest is over.  Men are wanted to cut down timber, and they
come in gangs of two or three hundred, and spend a week in riotous
debauchery before they can be got to work.  Few English settlers go into
that region, yet they can easily make a living there if they are inclined
to rough it in the bush, and are not afraid of coarse living and hard
work.  Villages, churches, hotels, are all built of wood on a stone
foundation, and, painted as the houses are, they remind one not a little
of Zaandam, and the little wooden cottages you may see in that old
quarter of the world.  But the original colonists are a poor people,
living frugally and with little desire for the comforts and luxuries of
life.  It is the same in Quebec, where the poor all talk French, and
where the Protestants are in a very small minority.  In Quebec there is
little to attract the stranger.  It looks its best at it stands on its
picturesque rock rising out of the St. Lawrence.  You see the French
University, founded as far back as 1663 by that De Laval whose name is so
deeply interwoven with the French history of the province.  It is thus
that his contemporaries describe him.  ‘He began,’ writes Mother
Juchiereau de Saint Denis, Superior of the Hôtel Dieu, ‘in his tenderest
years the study of perfection, and we have reason to believe he reached
it, since every virtue which St. Paul demands in a bishop was seen and
admired in him.’  Mother Marie, Superior of the Ursulines, wrote: ‘I will
not say that he is a saint, but I may say with truth that he lives like a
saint and an apostle.  We have ample evidence of the austerity of his
life.  His servant, a lay-brother, testified after his death that he
slept on a hard bed, and would not suffer it to be changed, even when it
became full of fleas.  So great was his charity that he gave fifteen
hundred or two thousand francs to the poor every year.’  ‘I have seen
him,’ writes Houssart, ‘keep cooked meat five or six, seven or eight
days, in the heat of summer, and when it was all mouldy and wormy, he
washed it in warm water, and ate it, and told me it was very good.  I
determined to keep everything I could that had belonged to his holy
person, and after his death to soak bits of linen in his blood when his
body was opened, and take a few bones and cartilages from his breast, cut
off his hair, and keep his clothes and such things to serve as most
precious relics.’

Then you see the spire of the English Cathedral, a very plain building,
and higher up still, the modern Parliament House, but recently erected.
Further on, you see the Dufferin Promenade, which is a lasting record to
the most popular of English Governors-General; and higher up still is the
citadel, and beyond that are the plains of Abraham, where Wolfe fell in
the hour of victory.

The Presbyterians and Wesleyans have good congregations, but the Baptists
are not strong, in spite of the wonderful vitality of the aged pastor,
Mr. Marsh, who, octogenarian as he is, seemed much more able to climb the
heights than the writer, who perhaps was a little out of condition on
account of the laziness of sea life.  One of the buildings with which I
was most pleased was that of the Young Men’s Christian Association (built
partly by the munificence of Mr. George Williams, of London, the founder
of the Young Men’s Christian Associations all the world over), which is
quite a credit to the place, and from the top of which you get a
magnificent view of the quaint old city, with its gates and narrow
streets, and the pleasant suburbs, and the far-away plains and hills,
amongst which the St. Lawrence or the river Charles, which runs into it
here, urges on its wild career.

‘In a city where we have to contend,’ says the last Report of the
Association, ‘against great disadvantages, where the Protestant
population seems to be gradually diminishing, and the young men seeking
other fields of enterprise, it is a matter of sincere thankfulness that
we have not to record a retrograde movement.’  It was with regret that I
saw that the Independent church, which is a fine one, has had to close
its doors.  Another disadvantage resulting from this decay of
Protestantism is, that the Protestants have to bear more than their fair
share of taxation, as the Roman Catholic churches and convents and
nunneries, which are wealthy, are exempt from taxation altogether.  I
fancy, also, that the men employed at the extensive wharves are doing all
they can to drive the trade away, as they impose such regulations as to
the number of men to be employed in loading or unloading ships, that now
many of them load lower down the river.  However, the place is busy
enough, especially on the other side of the river, where the steamers
land their passengers, and where Miss Richardson has established a
comfortable home for girls and young women—which I inspected—free of
expense, as they arrive from England, and seeks to plant them out where
their services may be required.

                 [Picture: Falls of Montmorenci, Quebec]

One of our latest lady writers is very enthusiastic on the subject of
Quebec.  I am sorry to say I cannot share in that enthusiasm, and I was
by no means disconsolate that I could not stay to attend a convivial
meeting to which I was invited by a French colonist, one of our
fellow-passengers.  I was soon tired of its dusty and narrows streets,
and its pavements all made of boards, and its priests and nuns.  There
are no shops to look at worth speaking of, and the idea of riding in one
of the _caleches_ was quite out of the question.  Nothing more rickety in
the shape of a riding machine was ever invented.  It seemed to me that
they were sure to turn over as soon as you turned the corner.  The
_caleche_ is simply a little sledge on wheels.  As a sledge I fancy it is
delightful, though by no means up to the sledges I have driven on the
Elbe in hard winters in days long long departed; but as a carriage, drawn
by a broken-down horse, with a driver almost as wild as the original
Indian, the _caleche_, I own, finds little favour in my eyes.  Up the
town there does not seem much life.  There is plenty of it, however, in
the shipping district, where a great deal of building is going on.

Of one thing I must complain in connection with emigration, and that is
the pity the emigrants land at Quebec at all.  The steamers all go up to
Montreal after they have shot down their helpless crowd of emigrants on
the wharf, where they have to spend a dreary day waiting to get their
luggage.  How much more pleasant it would be to take them right on to
Montreal, which, at any rate, is the destination of ninety-nine out of a
hundred at the very least.  As it is, they are taken on by a special
train, which starts no one knows when, and which arrives at Montreal at
what hour it suits the railway authorities.  In that respect, it seems to
me, there is room for great improvement; but on this head I speak
diffidently, as, perhaps, the steamship owners and the railway companies
know their own business better than I do.  The trip is a picturesque one,
and can be enjoyed in these short nights better on the deck of a steamer
than in a railway-car.  [I am glad to hear since writing the above that
this state of things will not further exist, and that every arrangement
is now being made by the Canadian Pacific Railway authorities for the
speedy transfer from the steamer to the train.]  The more I see of
matters, the clearer it seems to me that large parties of emigrants
should not be sent out by themselves, but that they should be under the
care of some one who knows the country and the railway officials.

I am sorry to say, as regards some of the better class of emigrants, the
long delay at Quebec gave them an opportunity of getting drunk, of which
they seemed gladly to have availed themselves.  The future of some of
these young fellows it is not difficult to predict.  In a little while
they will have exhausted their resources, and will return home disgusted
with Canada, and swearing that it is impossible to get a living there.
There was no need for them to go to an hotel at all.  In the yard there
was a capital shed fitted up for refreshments.  I had there a plate of
good ham, bread-and-butter and jam, and as much good tea as I wanted—all
for a shilling.  It was a boon indeed to the emigrants we had landed from
the _Sarnia_ to find such a place at their disposal.

As to myself, I need not assure you I was glad enough to find myself in a
Pullman car, bound for Montreal.  I shed no tears as we left Quebec far
behind, and glided on under a cloudless, moonlit sky, serenaded by those
Canadian nightingales, the frogs.  At first I felt a little difficulty in
retiring to rest.  As a modest man, I was inclined to object to the
presence of so many ladies, although we had been on the best of terms
during our voyage out.  It is true that they had their husbands with
them, but nevertheless I felt uncomfortable, and vowed I would retreat to
the smoking-room.  However, I was over-persuaded, and lay down with the
rest; though more than once that eventful night I was awoke by awful
sounds, reminding me rather of the hoarse roar of the Atlantic in a storm
than of the peaceful slumbers of a Pullman car.



One discovery I have made since I have been here is that Canada has its
clouded skies and its rainy days, and that a Canadian spring may be quite
as ungenial as an English one.  Yet it is, I still see, the country for a
working man.  And I write this in full knowledge of the fact that here at
Montreal the charitable, on whom the poor depend—for there is no poor-law
in this country, and let us hope, seeing what mischief has been done by
poor-laws, there may never be one—have been sorely exercised this winter
how to feed the hungry, and to clothe the naked, and to find the outcast
a home.  But, mind you, I only recommend the place for the poor
agricultural labourer or artisan; and already I find the larger portion
of such who have come out with me are in full work, and are thankful that
they have come, but they had to take anything that was offered.  It is
clear this is not the country for clerks and shop-lads, and the secretary
of the Young Men’s Christian Association—which I find here to be a
flourishing institution—writes:

‘Young men are coming by each steamer.  Many of them are introduced to us
with excellent recommendations, and have occupied good positions in
England.  Some have left their situations on the representation of
railway and steamboat agents as to the opportunities in this country.  We
find it absolutely impossible to secure employment for them in many
cases, business in every department has been so dull.  Almost all the
houses have been employing hands that they could dispense with.  Reports
from the West show the market glutted as bad as in Montreal.’  And I fear
things have not improved since.

It is cruel to get such young men out of England.  They are worse off
here than they would be at home.  It is curious to note, in connection
with emigration, the evident desire of the educated mechanic to keep his
rivals out.  ‘By all means bid them stop at home,’ he cries, ‘or wages
will be lower in the colonies.’  Already I have been interviewed by a
working-class official here, and that is his cry.  And I give it for what
it may be worth, merely remarking that such illustrations as he gave in
support of his views turned out to be the merest moonshine.

    [Picture: Junction of the River Ottawa and St. Lawrence, Montreal]

Now let me speak of Montreal, which I entered with pleasure, and leave
with regret.  It is the chief city of Canada, and is built on the
northern bank of the St. Lawrence, where the muddy Ottawa, after a course
of 600 miles, debouches into it.  You arrive by a grand railway bridge,
which is one of the wonders of this part of the world.  The population is
nearly 200,000, of which two-thirds are French or Irish, and Roman
Catholic.  It abounds with every sign of prosperity, and, as a city,
would be a credit to the old country.  The river front is lined with
steamers loading for England.  The principal thoroughfares contain lofty
buildings, and shops as spacious as any of our best, whilst its hotels
altogether throw ours into the shade; and then, in the suburbs the
merchants live in palaces, whilst handsome churches attest the wealth, if
not the piety, of all classes of the population.  I fear Mammon worship
is the prevailing form of idolatry, yet I cannot shut my eyes to the fact
that the early settlement of the place was the result of religious
enthusiasm, and that it was an attempt to found in America a veritable
kingdom of God as understood by the Roman Catholics; but all that is
past, and the chief topics of interest are the prices of pork, or the
state of the market as regards butter and cheese.  Let me remind you that
such is the goodness of the cheese of Canada, all made in factories, that
nearly as much cheese finds its way into the English market from Montreal
as from New York.

One thing especially strikes me, and that is the muscular character of
the young men.  Montreal is a great place for athletes.  Montreal has
hundreds of such, as it is not only a centre of commerce, but the most
important manufacturing city in the Dominion—3,000 hands are employed in
the manufacture of boots and shoes.  Then there are here the largest
sugar refineries and cotton mills and silk and cloth factories in Canada,
and the result is that, as these factories are nursed by Protection, the
towns are unnaturally crowded, and the people all over the country have
to pay high prices for inferior articles, and the Canadians, who ought to
be making cheese and butter, and growing corn for the artisans of
Lancashire, are doing all they can to reduce their best and most natural
customers to a state of starvation.  ‘It is a shame,’ said a Canadian
manufacturer to me, only in language a little more emphatic, ‘that
England allows any of her colonies to put prohibitory duties on British
products.’  And I quite agree with my friend that it is a shame.
However, as long as the present Canadian Government are in power, there
is no chance of Free Trade.  It was the Protection cry that placed the
Conservatives in power.  With so many French as there are in Canada,
vainly dreaming of a restoration of French rule, it is idle to talk of
the interests of the mother country.  Nor does Great Britain deserve very
well of the Canadians.  Up to almost the present time it has held them to
be of little account, and, as we all know, it is not so very long since
it suffered Brother Jonathan to annex that part of Maine in which
Portland is situated, and thus to deprive Canada of its only winter

For one thing Montreal is to be highly commended, and that is on account
of its hotels.  The Windsor Hotel, in Dominion Square, is one of the
finest hotels in America, and as you enter you are quite bewildered at
the magnificence of the entrance-hall.  A curious thing happened to me
there.  Mr. Hoyle and Mr. Barker, of the U.K. Alliance, had come there
after a pilgrimage in the States, and it was determined to give them a
reception.  I had a ticket, and went for about an hour, chatting
pleasantly with readers, who had known me by repute, and were glad to
shake hands with me.  Imagine my horror when, in the next morning’s
paper, I read that the reception had been got up by Temperance friends
for me, as well as Messrs. Hoyle and Barker, and that my humble name
figured first on the list.  Perhaps this was meant as a consolation to
me.  I had been interviewed on the previous day, and the papers had
spoken of me in such complimentary terms that I felt almost a lion.

Alas! in America interviewing is quite a common-place affair, and it
gives no _éclat_ to be interviewed.  People sat smoking in the hall as I
passed, utterly unconscious of the fact.  Yet the reporters did their
best.  One of them called after I was gone to bed.  He said he was not
going to be scooped out by the other fellow, whatever that may mean.
Virtue in his case was not rewarded.  I kept to my bed, and left the
enterprising reporter to do the best he could.

I ought to say a word of the hotel at which I stopped—the Lawrence Hall,
in James’s Street—which I strongly recommend to all, especially to such
of my friends as may be contemplating a visit to Montreal.  The bedrooms
are beautifully clean, the cooking is excellent, and the service is
admirable.  It enjoys a tremendous amount of support.  I was there just
forty-eight hours, and I counted as many as two hundred names of arrivals
after me, and yet, in spite of the crowd, there was ample accommodation
for all, and I and my friends dined as comfortably and quietly as if we
had been at home.  The proprietor, Mr. Hogan, is a gentleman with whom it
is a pleasure to converse.  Nor are his charges high.

It is a sight to sit in the hall and watch the ever-shifting crowd, or to
stray into the shaving apartment, where a dozen barbers are always hard
at work.  I own I became a victim, and paid a shilling for a performance
which in London only costs me sixpence; but in London I simply have my
hair cut, here I was under the care of a ‘professional artist.’  I quote
his card: ‘Physiognomical hairdresser, facial operator, cranium
manipulator, and capillary abridger.’  I could not think of offering so
distinguished a professor less than a shilling.  But the fact is, you
can’t travel cheaply either in Canada or the United States.

It goes sadly against the grain to pay fivepence for having one’s boots
blacked, and the way in which your change is doled out to you is not
pleasant, and adds materially to the difficulties of the situation.  For
instance, I had a certain American coin the other day pressed into my
reluctant hands on the express understanding that it was to go for ten
cents.  I paid it to a ferryman, who said it was only worth eight, and
then, on that supposition, he managed to cheat me; and I had to appeal to
a friend of mine, who told me that I had not the right change, before I
could get the man to give me my due; directly, however, the mistake was
pointed out he rectified it, thus acknowledging, in the most barefaced
manner, his attempt to cheat; and the beauty of it was, I was with a
great man of the place, who witnessed the whole transaction, and never
said a word, apparently looking upon it as a matter of course.

I fear there is a good deal of villainy in the world, and that it is not
confined to America.  Travellers are bound to be victimised, and the best
thing you can do is to laugh.  I own I did so at Liverpool the other day,
as I was waiting for the tugboat to take me off to the _Sarnia_.  I knew
that I had not made a mistake, I knew that the tug was sure to come; yet
four big hulking fellows with brazen faces would have made me believe
that I was too late for the tug, and that my only chance of getting on
board was for me to let them row me out.  In that case the attempt was
the more rascally, as from a small row-boat I could never have boarded
the _Sarnia_ had I tried.  Yet there they stood—sullen and expectant—for
a quarter of an hour, taking me, possibly, for a bigger fool even than I

‘It is a pity,’ said a Canadian lady to me, ‘that Queen Victoria’—for
whom all Canada prays that long may she reign over us, happy and
glorious—‘fixed upon Ottawa as the site of the Government.’

I am very much inclined to a similar feeling.  At Montreal the change of
water affected me very disagreeably.  At Ottawa I was completely floored.
It is a curious fact that almost everyone who goes to Ottawa is taken
ill.  I was complaining of my first terrible night to Sir Leonard Tilley,
the Finance Minister, and he said that when he first came to Ottawa it
was the same with him.

A lady told me that Lady Tupper, who has just left the Colony for
England, where, it is said, her lord and master hopes to find a seat in
the Imperial Parliament—a consummation devoutly to be wished, as to my
mind it is clear that all our colonies should have representatives in
Parliament—made a similar complaint as to the effect of the place on her
children, and I have it on the best authority that scarcely a session
passes but an M.P. pays the penalty of a residence in Ottawa.

In my case I was preserved, as the man in the ‘Arabian Nights’ says, for
the greater misfortunes yet to befall me by the use of Dr. Browne’s
far-famed ‘Chlorodyne’—an indispensable requisite, I am bound to say,
when an emigrant takes his trial trip to Canada.  I know not who is the
inventor—I believe it is what we call a patent medicine—that is, a
medicine not sanctioned by the faculty—but, as has been observed of the
Pickwick pen, it is indeed a boon and a blessing to men.  I used
‘Chlorodyne,’ and was soon all right.  Sir Leonard Tilley told me he did
the same, and no one should go to Ottawa without having a small bottle of
it in his carpet-bag.

Yet Ottawa is not without a certain freshness of beauty that one
associates _primâ facie_ with perfect health.  The stately Government
buildings, all of grey stone, are placed on a hill, whence you have a
peerless view of river and country and distant hill, and far away forests
all around.  A more picturesque site it would be assuredly most difficult
to find.  As to the town itself, it is a curious compound—almost Irish in
that respect—of splendour and meanness.  There are magnificent shops—and
then you come to wooden shanties, which in such a city ought long ere
this to have been improved off the face of the earth.  If on a rainy day,
unless very careful, you attempt to cross the streets, you are in danger
of sticking in the mud, which no one seems to ever think of removing, and
in many parts there are disgraceful holes in the plank pavement on which
you walk, which are dangerous, especially to the aged and infirm.

In Ottawa the contrasts are more violent than I have seen elsewhere.
Everyone comes to the place.  It is the headquarters of the Dominion.  I
met there statesmen, adventurers, wild men of the woods, or prairie,
deputies from Manitoba, lawyers from Quebec, sharpers and honest men, all
staying at one hotel; and it seemed strange to sit at dinner and see
great rough fellows, with the manners of ploughmen, quaffing their costly
champagne, and fancying themselves patterns of gentility and taste.  In
one thing they disappointed me.  Sir Charles Tupper was to leave for
England, and his admirers met outside the hotel to see him off.  There
was a carriage and four to convey him to the station, and other carriages
followed.  There was a military band in attendance, much to the disgust
of the Opposition journals—and yet, in spite of all, the cheers which
followed the departing statesman were so faint as to be perfectly
ridiculous to a British ear, and seemed quite out of proportion to all
the display that had been made.  Certainly they seemed quite childish
compared with those which greeted a certain individual, whose name
delicacy forbids my mentioning, when, on the last night on board the
_Sarnia_, he ventured humbly to reply to the toast of the Press which had
been given in the smoking-room by a Quebec artist returning home from
study in Paris.

In Ottawa, certainly, there is no demand for emigrants, unless it be good
female servants, who are wanted much more, and can have much more
comfortable living, at home.  A lady asked me to send her a few good
servants from England.  I replied that my wife wanted them as much as she
did, and that it was my duty to attend to her requirements first.

It is curious the airs the raw servant-girls from Ireland give themselves
out here.  One day, when I was at Peterborough, one of the head-quarters
of the lumber trade—which yesterday was a dense forest, and is now a town
of 8,000 people—I heard of the arrival of a lot of girls from Galway.
The drill-hall was set apart for their use, and there they were
respectfully waited on by the chief ladies of the district in need of
that rarest of created beings—a good maid-of-all-work.  In this
particular case one of the arrivals was fixed on.

‘What can you do?’ said the lady.

The girl seemed uncertain on that point.

‘Can you wash?’

‘Oh no!’

‘Can you cook?’

‘Oh no!’

‘Can you do housemaid’s work?’

Well, she thought she could.

Then came the question of wages.

‘Will you take eight dollars a month?’

No, she would not.  Would she accept of nine?  Oh no!  Would she take
ten?  Certainly not.

‘What do you want?’ said the lady, beginning to be alarmed.

‘They told me I was to have twelve dollars a month,’ said the girl, and
that put a stop to the negotiation.

When I state that an English sovereign is worth at this time four dollars
and eighty-six cents, I think you will agree with me that this charming
daughter of Erin somewhat overrated the value of her services.  The
Canadians are a well-to-do people, but they cannot afford twelve dollars
a month for a mere housemaid.  I think it would be well if the
respectable young women—of whom there are thousands in England who do not
care for the pittance given to a governess, and who prefer the life of a
lady-help—were to come out.  They would soon be appreciated.

The average girl selected to be sent out to the colony, so far as I have
seen her, is not a model of loveliness or utility.  Were I a Canadian
mother, I would sooner have a lady-help.  Nor need the lady-help be
afraid of the roughness of her lot.  In Ontario, all the difficulties of
the pioneers of civilization have long since disappeared.  One hears
strange tales of what those brave men and delicately nurtured ladies had
to suffer.

I have seen two—whom I had known when a boy—who were familiar with the
best of London literary society, who figured in all the annuals of the
season, who were famous in their day, whose sires came over with William
the Conqueror.  They were sisters, and married two officers, who had land
allotted to them in Canada, and brought out these wellborn and delicately
nurtured women into what was then a waste, howling wilderness, where they
had to slave as no servant-girl slaves in England, and to fight with the
severity of the climate in a way of which the present generation of
Canadians have no idea.  Only think, for instance, of your joint roasting
at the fire on one side and freezing on the other!  In the settled parts
of Canada, such horrors are now amongst the pleasant reminiscences of the

But I must return to Ottawa, where the universal testimony of all the
heads of the Government was to the effect that Canada is the place for
the poor, hard-working man.  There is an emigration-office in every town,
where the emigrant is sure to hear of work, if work is to be had.

Canada is a charming place for the traveller.  He sees friends
everywhere.  Mr. John H. Pope, Minister of Agriculture, and Mr. John
Lowe, Secretary, were especially useful in aiding me.  As I called on the
Minister of Finance, he insisted on my seeing the Premier—Sir John
Macdonald—who came out of a Council to give me a friendly chat for half
an hour, and who kindly asked me to call on him again on my return.  In
Canada the Council sits almost daily, and the sitting generally lasts
from two till six, as all the business which is left in England to the
departments, in Canada is transacted in the Council.  Sir John seemed to
think that a good deal of time was wasted in speeches in Parliament,
which were intended not for the House, but for the constituents outside:
in this respect the Canadian Parliament much resembles a more august
assembly nearer home.

I had also the honour of an interview with the Marquis of Lansdowne at
the Government House, in a pretty park about a mile out of the town.  His
lordship enjoys his residence at Ottawa very much, and said he should
leave it with regret.  His idea seemed to be that now was the time for
English farmers with a little capital to come out to Ontario, as the old
farmers are selling off their farms and going further, to take up large
tracts of land in the North-West; and I think many English farmers would
be wise if they adopted some such plan.  The Province is called the
Garden of Canada.

At present I have seen no very superior land.  There is a good deal of
sand where I have been and wheat-growing is out of the question; but the
barley is excellent, and is in great demand in the United States, and a
good deal of money is made by raising stock and horses.  At any rate, no
farmer here is in danger of losing all his capital—most of them are well
off, and their sons and daughters prosper as well.

Let me give a few further particulars respecting Sir John
Macdonald—perhaps the most abused, and the hardest working man, in all
Canada.  He has good Scotch blood in his veins.  In the thirteenth
century one of his ancestors looms up as Lord of South Kintyre and the
Island of Islay.  When the emigration movement to Canada began, a
descendant of this Macdonald settled in Kingston, then the most important
town in Upper Canada, and, next to Halifax and Quebec, the strongest
fortress in British North America.  He was accompanied by the future
Premier, then a lad of five years of age.  The boy was placed at the
Royal Grammar School of Kingston, under the tuition of Dr. Wilson, a
fellow of the University of Oxford, and subsequently under that of Mr.
George Baxter.  Meanwhile, his father moved to Quinté Bay, near the Lake
of the Mountain, a lonely, wild country, in which the future Canadian
statesman was often to be seen in the holiday time, with a fishing rod in
his hand, with other companions as gay-hearted as himself.  At that time
he is described as having ‘a very intelligent and pleasing face, strange
furry-looking hair, that curled in a dark mass, and a striking nose.’

Indeed, Sir John’s admirers see in him a resemblance to the late Lord
Beaconsfield, and that there is a slight resemblance the most superficial
observer must admit.  As a lad, Sir John seems to have specially
distinguished himself in mathematics.  His master also, we are told,
frequently exhibited the clean-kept books of young Macdonald to some
careless student for emulation, and as often selected specimens of the
neat penmanship of the boy, to put to shame some of the slovenly writers
of his class.

At sixteen young Macdonald commenced the study of law, to which he
devoted three years.  The gentleman to whom he was articled speaks of him
as the most diligent student he had ever seen.  Before he was twenty-one
years of age he was admitted to the Bar, opened an office at Kingston,
and at once began to practise his profession.  ‘He was,’ says a
fellow-student, ‘an exemplary young man, and had the goodwill of
everybody.  He remained closely at his business, never went about
spreeing, or losing his time, with the young men of his own age and
standing, did not drive fast horses, but was always to be found at his
post in his office, courteous, obliging, and prompt.’  When Sir John
commenced his legal career, the country was full of revolution, and every
county in Canada had its Radicals ready to take up muskets or pitchforks
against the oppressor.  Sir John, though a Tory, was often the means of
doing good service to his friends of the opposite party.  In defending a
rebel who was tried for murder, the future Premier gained his first legal
success.  It was a time of intense excitement, and crowds thronged to see
the prisoners and hear the trials.  Everyone was struck with the masterly
character of Sir John’s defence; and though they knew it was not within
the power of human tongue or brain to save the prisoner, they admired the
skill with which he marshalled his arguments, the tact he displayed in
his appeal to the judges, and, above all, the deep interest he displayed
in the cause of his unfortunate client.  This was in 1838; from that date
Sir John was looked to as a rising man.  In a little while afterwards he
commenced his stormy political career.

In 1841 Kingston was made the seat of Government, and Sir John was
returned to Parliament, in place of a politician who had lost his
popularity.  The assembly was an excited one, and everyone made furious
speeches, with the exception of the new member, who sat unmoved at his
desk while the fray went on, looking, says a gentleman who well remembers
him there, half contemptuous and half careless.  In 1844, he commenced
his executive career by being appointed to the Standing Orders Committee.
His first speech was delivered with an easy air of confidence, as
captivating as it was rare.  The time ripened rapidly.  The old Tory
Compact Party was being swiftly broken up, and when Lord Elgin arrived in
Canada, a new Government was formed, with Sir John as Receiver-General.
In a little while he was moved to the Office of Crown Lands, then the
most important department in the public service, and one that in the past
had been most shamefully, if not most criminally abused, but he was soon
out of office, and a new Ministry came into force, pledged to a Bill for
the indemnification of parties in Lower Canada whose property had been
destroyed in the rebellion.  There were awful riots.  The Parliament
buildings in Montreal were burned, and it seemed as if the old feud
between Frenchman and Englishman had been roused, never more to die.

Lord Elgin was ready to return to England The reformers were strong, but
Macdonald did not despair.  The new Government, amongst other things,
were pledged to increased parliamentary representation, the abolition of
seignorial tenure, and the secularization of the Clergy Reserves.  Of the
Government that attempted to do this, Sir John was a bitter opponent, on
the ground that they had hesitated about questions which had set the
country in a blaze.  The Government had to retire, and in the
Liberal-Conservative Ministry which succeeded to office we find Mr.
Macdonald Attorney General, and he held office till he was defeated in
his Militia Bill.  He returned to office, however, in time to carry a
confederation of the Colonies, and to become Premier, when Lord Monck was

Since he has been at the head of affairs the Hudson Bay Company has
handed over its gigantic territory in the North West to the Dominion.
That great work, the Canada Pacific Railway, has nearly been brought to a
successful termination, and Canada has taken a leap upwards and onwards
to matured life and independence, of which not yet have we seen the end.
It is a terrible scene of personal attack, political life in Canada.
Even since Parliamentary Government has been established, the fight
between the ins and the outs has been bitter and constant.  No one can
understand it, unless he is a native of the country; and it says much for
Sir John that he has risen to the top, and kept himself there so long.
To have done so, he must have possessed more merit than his enemies give
him credit for.



Toronto, or the Queen City of the West, as she loves to call herself,
stands upon the north shore of Lake Ontario, and has not only achieved a
great success, but may be said, in spite of all the moving to the
North-West of which we hear so much, to have a great future before it, on
account of its position with regard to railways, which alone in this
great country decide the fate of towns and cities.  Immediately in front
is a broad bay, from which you get an imposing view of the city, while
its forest of spires and factory chimneys gives evidence of prosperous
and busy life.  I have never been in a city where the Sabbath was more
strictly observed.  The omnibus ceases to run on a Sunday, the cab is
locked up, and even the cigar-store is closed.  At seven on Saturday
evening all the liquor-shops are shut, and in Toronto, as in all the
Province, no one can buy a drop of whisky, or wine, or beer, till a
decent hour on Monday morning.  It is true, I was invited one Sunday to
go and have a glass of whisky and water—an offer which, it is needless to
say, I refused; but then, had I accepted the offer, I should have had to
go into a club of which my friend was a member.  In Canada, as in
England, the club-member may indulge his taste, however strictly the
abstinence of his less fortunate brother may be enforced by law.  But the
Sunday quiet of Toronto is remarkable.  There are few people but
church-goers in the streets, and the churches of all religious
denominations are quite as numerous and quite as handsome as any we have
in England.  They are all built on a larger scale, and are all
well-filled.  On Sunday evening I had to light my way into the
Congregational church, of which Dr. Wild is the minister.  He hails from
America, and is quite the sensation of the hour.  There was no
standing-room anywhere, and as I made to the door I met many coming away.
However, I had made up my mind to hear the Doctor, and hear him I did.
It seems that the subscribers have a door to themselves; I made for it,
and luckily found a chair, which I wedged in under the platform.  As I
entered, the Doctor was making the people laugh by answering questions
that had been sent to him in writing.  Then we had quite a service of
song.  The choir behind him performed, a lady sang a solo, the
congregation joined in a well-known English hymn.  The Doctor prayed, and
then we had a sermon about Revelation, containing much that was very
effective, if not about his text, at any rate about that mysterious part
of Scripture from which the text was taken.  The Doctor is now in the
prime of life, and his preaching powerful and effective.  The audience
consisted chiefly of men; perhaps that may be considered in the Doctor’s
favour.  One thing did surprise me, and that was to see seated at a table
right under the pulpit platform a reporter coolly taking notes.  Our
English reporters in a place of worship on a Sunday are certainly more
modest, and prefer to blush unseen.

Toronto rises up, with its grand public buildings, proudly from the
shore.  The site of the city was very marshy, and at one time it was
known as Muddy York.  Only yesterday a lady was telling me how her mother
was near losing her life in the mud of the chief street, leaving behind
her the English pattens of which she was so proud.  The further from the
lake, the more the land rises, till you reach where, as Tom Moore wrote—

    ‘The blue hills of old Toronto shed
    Their evening shadows o’er Ontario’s bed.’

                     [Picture: King Street, Toronto]

In 1812 the population of the place was under 1,000.  It is now,
including the suburbs, where some of the wealthiest citizens live in
houses as well-built and as luxuriously fitted up as any in London, about
116,000.  King Street, the principal one, is built up with substantial
brick and stone buildings, many of which are equal to any on the American
Continent.  Forty years since, it was completely composed of wooden
structures, and was barely passable to pedestrians.  Now, it is adorned
with stately stores, where the latest novelties of the Old World and the
New are ostentatiously displayed.  The public buildings are quite an
ornament to the place, and the offices of the leading newspaper, _The
Toronto Mail_, are one of the sights of the city.  The yearly civic
income and expenditure is over 2,000,000 dollars, and the assessed value
of property last year was 61,942,581 dollars.  The streets are spacious,
well laid out, and regularly built.  The two main arteries of the city
are King and George Streets, which, crossing each other at right angles,
divide the city into four large sections.  I don’t think house-rent is
cheap.  I have been in one or two private houses, the rents of which
seemed to me certainly dearer than would be the rents of similar houses
in London.  But, then, in Toronto—think of it, O respected
Paterfamilias!—the best cuts of meat are about eightpence a pound, and
prime butter is not much more, and—Sir Henry Thompson will rejoice to
hear this—there is a plentiful supply of fish.  The city also boasts of
fine theatres, and halls, and colleges; while the Episcopalian Cathedral
in James Street possesses the celebrated chimney and illuminated clock
which took the first prize at the Vienna Exhibition, and which was
purchased by the citizens, and presented to the Dean and churchwardens of
the place on Christmas-eve, 1876.  They tell me, however, that the
strongest body of Christians in the city is that of the Wesleyans.  I am
staying at Walker House, the most comfortable place which I have
discovered thus far.  Toronto itself offers few opportunities to the
emigrant, and the citizens are not enthusiastic in his favour.  I met a
reverend gentleman from England here, who, the other night, at a meeting
of mechanics, vainly endeavoured to say a word in favour of emigration,
and had to desist under the threat that if he did not they would knock
off his head.  The mechanics here are very much afraid that if more of
their own class come out, wages will be lowered.  Nor are Irish emigrants
in much favour here, as they stop in the city instead of going into the
country in search of work, and have to be supported by the charitable and
humane.  Only a few days since a large batch of Irish arrived.  Work had
been found for them which they agreed to accept, and they were on the
point of being forwarded, when they were got at by the Irish already in
the city, and now they refuse to budge.

The other day I met Dr. Barnardo’s agent, who has come out with some of
his trained boys to settle them in Peterborough, where Mr. G. A. Cox, the
Mayor of the place, has kindly given a commodious house for their use.
Already, I believe, the Doctor has sent out 780 boys and about 470 girls,
who have all been planted out.  Mr. W. Williams, of the _Chichester_ and
_Arethusa_, has sent many more, and so have others, of whom I hope to
hear tidings in the course of my travel.  The manager of Dr. Barnardo’s
home at Peterborough, in answer to inquiries from the farmers and others,
writes that boys from seven to twelve years of age are usually sent out
on terms of _adoption_, to be treated in every respect as children of the
household, and to receive, on attaining their twenty-first birthday, a
sum of not less than one hundred and fifty dollars.  Boys of thirteen and
over are hired as ‘helps,’ at wages varying from thirty-five to
ninety-five dollars per annum, with lodging, food, and medical
attendance.  Girls are sent out at ages ranging from four to sixteen
years.  Those of eleven and under are usually _adopted_ into families;
while those of twelve and upwards are hired at wages from two dollars to
nine dollars a month, with board, lodging, washing, and medical
attendance.  The utmost care is taken that these children should be
placed in good hands.  The applicant for a child has to get his letter
recommended by a clergyman or magistrate; then he has to give his
Christian name and surname in full, his address, his occupation; to say
if he hires his farm, or if it is his own; whether he is a member of a
Christian Church; what work the child will have to perform; on what terms
the child comes into the family; what length of engagement is desired;
what church the child will attend; and so on.

Moreover, Dr. Barnardo’s system provides for the regular and frequent
visitation of every young emigrant at his or her place of employment; the
girls by a lady of great experience, the boys by a gentleman.  By this
means the children are never lost sight of, and trustworthy reports of
their progress and whereabouts are periodically furnished to the heads of
the institution in England.

Now, I call attention to this plan, not merely to increase confidence in
the labours of philanthropists who are sending out children to Canada,
but in order to raise the question, why it is only the children of the
destitute and the wild arabs of the street that are to have this
advantage.  There must be many poor people in England who have sons,
perhaps a little too plucky for home, who could pay to send out their
lads, and would be glad to do so, if they saw a chance of their being
placed in good hands.  There are many boys who would be glad to leave the
somewhat overcrowded house, and who would rejoice to fight the battle of
life in the New World under such advantageous conditions.  Why should
they not have a chance?  Why should the destitute only be looked after?
Why should not some one in the same way lend a helping hand to the honest
son of the honest working man?  It may be that his father may be too old
to emigrate.  It may be that he is doing fairly well at home, and that it
is not worth his while to emigrate.  But why should not his son have a
chance, and be sent out under a system as excellent as that to which I
have referred?  Assuredly that is a question to be asked by others.

But Dr. Barnardo says in his magazine, _Night and Day_, that much injury
to the work of emigration has been effected by supposing that boys who
have committed grave moral faults can do well, if only shipped off to
Canada.  He contends that a number of young fellows of _that_ sort sent
to Canada, would seriously prejudice the prospects of emigration
generally; and he urges in very strong terms that none but boys and girls
of thoroughly good physique, industrious, honest, and of good general
character, should be encouraged to emigrate upon any pretext whatever.

Previous to my leaving Toronto I had the pleasure of an interview with
the Hon. Edward Blake, the head of the Opposition, whose utterances are
watched and waited for by all parties in the State with breathless
interest.  Travelling from Winnipeg, I had listened to a conversation on
that gentleman’s merits by two young gentlemen—who were a little
incoherent in their language, owing to the quantity of refreshment they
had on board—which certainly somewhat raised my expectations.  Nor was I
disappointed on my personal interview with the subject of their praise.

The Hon. Edward Blake is a man in the prime of life, of fresh complexion,
of more than average height and build, with a keen and intellectual face.
He was born in Canada, was educated at the University, followed his
father in the profession of the bar, and as a cross-examiner, especially
of an unwilling witness, and in the art of turning a man inside out, may
claim to have no equal in Canada at the present time.  He has visited
Europe more than once—at one time in an official capacity—has mixed with
our public men as well as with those of the Continent, has been in
office, and, it is believed, will soon be in office again.  He received
me with great courtesy, and talked on things in general in a lively and
interesting manner.  On the Province of Ontario as a home for the British
farmer he had much to say.

Taking me to the map hanging up in his office, and pointing to the
district between Toronto and Detroit, he affirmed that there was no finer
land to be found anywhere in the United States.  His first constituency
was a very poor one—consisting of English settlers and others who had
gone there with very little, if any, money, and they had all done well,
and their children were now mostly wealthy men.  He did not approve of
the Government plan of emigration; but he did think there was a fine
field in Canada for the British farmer and his men.  As to mechanics, he
thought the look-out was poor.  The mechanic in that part of the world
leads a very migratory life.  Such was the facility offered by railways,
which ran in all directions, that a slight rise in the rate of wages
would send him wherever that rise was to be found.  At the present time
there was a depression of trade in the United States, and wages were low.
In Canada the wages were a little higher, and he looked to an emigration
from the United States; and then the wages in Canada would go down.

The British mechanic would thus have to face a double difficulty—the
competition of the Canadian and the American mechanic alike.  I must add,
however, that this was not the view of an English mechanic who had been
settled in Toronto some years, and with whom, subsequently, I had some
chat.  His opinion was that any first-class English mechanic who came out
would do well, while he frankly admitted that an inferior hand would have
no chance whatever.

But to return to Mr. Blake.  It is evident, though he and his party are
supposed to be in favour of Free Trade—and it is a matter of fact that
they were driven from place and power by a Protectionist outcry—that he
does not consider the question of Free Trade from an English standpoint
at all.  It will be long ere Canada will lift up her voice in favour of
Free Trade.  In Canada there is no such thing as direct taxation, and as
money has to be raised for the support of Government, it is felt it is
easier to do that by means of a duty on foreign manufactures than by
taking it directly out of the pockets of the people.

Just now there is a feeling growing up in favour of Free Trade with
America; but that will not aid the British manufacturer one jot.  The
system of duties between Canada and America is an enormous nuisance, when
one thinks of the daily personal and commercial intercourse between the
two countries.  For instance, I lost by changing English money into
Canadian dollars; and then again, when I had to change Canadian dollars
into American greenbacks, I had to submit to a further loss.  This was
not pleasant, especially when you remember that every time you cross the
frontier—and people are doing it daily—you have to submit to a
disagreeable examination on the part of Custom House officers.  Surely
Canada and America will before long have to come to a better
understanding than that which at present exists.  Of course, I write
under correction.  I am an outsider.

‘Can you tell me,’ I said to the Hon. E. Blake, ‘how I am to get to a
knowledge of Canadian politics?’

His reply, and it was delivered with a smile, was:

‘By living in the country some five or six years.’

Under such circumstances I feel, with the poet, that ‘where ignorance is
bliss ’tis folly to be wise.’

On one thing Mr. Blake was silent—nor did I allude to it: that was the
question of Canadian independence.  It is raised in many quarters, it is
almost daily discussed in the Canadian newspapers.  People are waiting to
hear what Mr. Blake has to say on it.  At present the oracle is dumb.
When the question is settled you may be sure sentiment will have little
to do with it; on this side of the Atlantic, at any rate, that sort of
thing goes a very little way when the almighty dollar is at stake.  But
the question to be asked is, How long Canadian independence will stand
the cry for annexation with the United States that will then be raised?

One of the pleasures attending my visit to Toronto was the finding out
Mrs. Moodie—whose ‘Roughing It in the Bush’ did so much to help English
people to understand the hardships of Canadian life some forty years ago.
She was the youngest sister of Agnes Strickland; and, like her, wrote
books for children, and tales and poems for the annuals, then the rage.
She then married a Major Moodie, and went out to Canada, and I had not
seen her since I was a raw lad; but of her kindness and her talent I had
a distinct impression, and it was with real pleasure that I found her
living at an advanced age—but in peace and comfort—at her son’s, a
gentleman connected with the Inter-Colonial Railway.  The sprightly lady
of 1834, eager and enthusiastic, had become an elderly one in 1884; yet
time had dealt gently with her, and her youth seemed to me to revive as
she talked of her old Suffolk home, and of men and women long since gone
over to the majority.

I was glad to find that she had made her mark in Canadian literature.  An
intelligent Canadian critic, Mr. J. E. Collins, whose acquaintance I was
privileged to make—as well as that of his friend, Mr. Charles Robins, a
poet of whom Canada may well be proud—writes of Mrs. Moodie: ‘So perfect
a picture is Mrs. Moodie’s book of the struggles, the hopes, the dark
days, and the sun-spots of that obscure life that fell to her lot in the
forest depths, that its whisperings form a delightful music to the
memory.  The style is limpid as a running brook, picturesque, and
abounding with touches that show a keen insight into character, and an
accurate observation of external things.  There is no padding or fustian
in the book, and no word is squandered, Mrs. Moodie regarding the mission
of language to be to convey thought, not to put on a useless parade.’

Mrs. Moodie has been living in Canada now fifty years, and loves to talk
of the old country, especially of the people with whom she associated
when, as Susannah Strickland, she used to stay in London with Pringle,
the Secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society, whose beautiful poem, ‘Afar in
the desert I love to ride,’ is still a favourite with the English public.
But she has no wish to come back to England—her family are all well
settled in Canada.  She lives with one of her sons, and her daughter,
Mrs. Chamberlain, of Ottawa, has won deserved fame by her beautiful
illustrations of Canadian flowers and lichens.

English readers who may remember Mrs. Moodie as one of the gifted
Strickland sisters will be glad to learn that she is regarded as one of
the pioneers of Canadian literature, and although born near the beginning
of the present century, possesses a mental vigour and active memory rare
in one so aged.  She told me anecdotes of myself when a boy that I had
quite forgotten, and retains in old age the enthusiasm for which she was
remarkable when young.  Some of her ghost-stories were capital.  For
instance, one night, when her sister Agnes was lying sick, in the old
hall at Reydon, Suffolk, and was being nursed by her sister Jane, there
came to them a tall, stately figure in white, with long garments trailing
behind her.  Of course, Agnes and her sister were very much frightened at
the apparition, which stood at the door, pointed her finger at Agnes,
hissed at her, and then disappeared.  Other stories followed, equally
interesting, in which Mrs. Moodie, it was evident, firmly believed.

It was during her long and lonely residence in the woods that Mrs. Moodie
performed most of her literary work.  While her husband was away crushing
the Rebellion, she wrote her ‘Roughing It in the Bush,’ which did more to
establish her fame in Canada and in England than any of her previous
productions.  It is probably the best picture we have of Canadian life at
that time, and written in a style of composition charming, if only on
account of its ease.  Undisturbed by household cares, she wrote no less
than fifteen books for children; a larger work, ‘Life in the Clearings,’
and in addition contributed a mass of matter to the old Canadian
_Literary Garland_, sufficient to fill several large volumes.  ‘I
remember seeing Carlyle once,’ she said, ‘but he was such a
crabbed-looking man that I did not care to make his acquaintance.  In
fact, his appearance was quite the reverse of pleasing, but he was an
honest, close-fisted man, I dare say.’  She had a good deal to say of
Cruikshank, who lived next door to Pringle.  ‘I went to hear Dan
O’Connell,’ she continued, ‘on the Anti-Slavery question.  He was
completely dressed in green—green coat, green vest, green
pants—everything green but his boots.  I was greatly amused at his
opening remark, “Ladies and gentlemen,” he began, “England reminds me in
this great question of a large lion that has been sleeping a good many
years, commencing to rouse itself, stretch, yawn, and wag its tail.”  For
days after, that lion, with its wagging tail, came visibly before me.’
She also remembered Shiel, who began his speech in Exeter Hall, then
quite a new building, by saying that he was afraid he would not be able
to make himself heard, and then roared so that he might have been heard
at Somerset House.  She saw the man in armour proclaim King William in
Cheapside, and it touched her to tears when all the people cried: ‘God
save the King!’  ‘At one time,’ she said, ‘I helped Pringle to edit one
of his annuals.  Proctor sent in his poem on “The Sea, the Sea,” and
after reading it I recommended it for publication, but Pringle rejected
it.  However, afterwards he found out his mistake when the poem,
published in another channel, brought fame to its author.’

Mrs. Moodie seemed to think that it was a great privilege to have been in
London while the Catholic Emancipation Act and the Reform Bills were
carried, and still in her comfortable house in Toronto loves to talk of
the bustle and excitement of the time.  I was privileged twice to see
her, and then we parted, never more to meet—in this world, at least.

Near Peterborough, about a hundred and fifty miles from Toronto, I found
another far-famed Canadian authoress, Mrs. Traill, whose ‘Backwoods of
Canada,’ published when I was a lad by the Society for the Diffusion of
Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, and now, I believe, by Messrs.
Routledge and Sons, was a delight to me in my young days.  I remember her
well as a young woman, tall and stately, with a wonderful flow of
talk—enthusiastic as a worshipper of nature—ever ready to write of
Suffolk lanes, with all their richness of floral and animal life; of
Suffolk copses, where the birds sang, and the partridge and the pheasant
and the timid hare found shelter; of farmers, then merry, and of
peasants, then contented with their humble lot.

In person she was attractive, the most so, to my mind, of all the
Strickland family, and she was very stately in manner, for was not her
maiden name Katherine Parr Strickland, and had she not some of the blood
of that family allied to royalty in her veins?  The Stricklands came of
an ancient and honoured line, and besides that, there is a great deal in
names, as the reader of ‘Tristram Shandy’ and ‘Kenelm Chillingly’
perfectly understands.  What could you expect of a Katherine Parr
Strickland but queenly manner, as assuredly the young lady who bore that
name had?

When I was a lad, she married a Major Traill, and accompanied her sister,
Mrs. Moodie, to Canada.  I cannot think how ladies thus tenderly nursed
could have done anything of the kind—or, having done it, how they could
have survived the hardships they were called to endure.  The lot in their
case was by no means cast in pleasant places.  Mrs. Moodie, in her
delightful book, ‘Roughing It in the Bush,’ says: ‘A large number of the
immigrants were officers of the army and navy, with their families—a
class perfectly unfitted by their previous habits and standing in society
for contending with the stern realities of emigrant life in the
backwoods.  A class formed mainly from the younger scions of great
families, naturally proud, and not only accustomed to command, but to
receive implicit obedience from the people under them, are not men
adapted to the hard toil of the woodman’s life.’

Yet it was to such a life Major Traill took his handsome and accomplished
wife; but Mrs. Traill in her backwoods settlement was not forgetful of
the literary vocation to which she had dedicated her early youth.  I have
already referred to her ‘Backwoods of Canada’; that was in due time
followed by a volume equally worthy of public favour, under the title of
‘Ramblings in a Canadian Forest.’  Indeed, she and her sister may claim
to have been the pioneers of Canadian literature; and their brother,
Lieutenant-Colonel Strickland, may also claim to be placed in that
category by his work, ‘Twenty-seven Years in Canada West,’ a record of
his own experiences, abounding with numerous realistic touches.  He
settled his family near his sister; and at Lakefield, near Peterborough,
the residence of Mrs. Traill, there is quite a colony of Stricklands, who
have all done well, so people tell me, at the lumber trade.

I am glad I paid Mrs. Traill a visit.  It was a long and wearisome ride,
but I was well repaid by a short interview with one with whom I was
familiar half a century back.  Lakefield is a charming spot, and Mrs.
Traill’s wooden but picturesque cottage overlooks a lovely scene of trees
and hills, and water and grass.  At any rate, in the early spring it has
a neat little garden; in new countries neat little gardens are rare.

Mrs. Traill has seen great changes in her time.  When she came there,
there were only one or two houses in Peterborough; all was forest, and
now it has a mayor and a town-hall, and is one of the nicest towns in
that part of Canada.  Mrs. Traill’s cottage is fitted up with English
comfort and taste.  She has around her books and photographs of loving
relatives.  She showed me a book of hers recently published by Messrs.
Nelson and Sons.  As a Canadian authoress, she has done much to
commemorate the beauty of Canadian forests, and writes of their floral
charms with all the tenderness and grace with which I remember her
sketches of East Anglian rural life were richly adorned.  She is now hard
at work with a new volume on Canadian lichens and flowers.

As we stood talking at the window—the sunbeams played gaily on the blue
waters of the lake or river beneath (in Canada there are so many rivers
and lakes that you can scarcely tell which is which, or where the one
ends or the other begins)—fairy flowers were beginning to gem her lawn;
and the American robin redbreast, a far larger bird than ours, and other
birds, still more graceful, flew among the trees—I felt how, in such a
spot, one weary of the world could lead a tranquil life.

Mrs. Traill must be an advanced octogenarian—she is older than Mrs.
Moodie, and Mrs. Moodie claims to be far over eighty.  Yet Mrs. Traill
retains her conversational power intact, and is full as ever of ‘the lore
that nature brings,’ and is as enthusiastic as ever in its pursuit.  As
much as ever her manners are queenlike.  They have never left her, in
spite of all the hardships she has had to undergo as wife and mother in
the wilderness, and her face still retains something of the freshness and
fairness of her youth.  She is a wonderful old lady, and Canada must be a
wonderful country for such.



As in duty bound, I have reached Niagara Falls, and from motives equally
conscientious forbear to trouble you with either poetry or prose on the
scene that now meets my eye.  In seeing them I have an advantage—that in
this early season of the year I am alone and free from the crowd of
visitors that sometimes infest the spot.  As it is, there is quite enough
of modern civilization there to disturb the poetry of the place; and the
scream of the steam-engine sadly interferes with the enjoyment of that
everlasting roar which rises as the vast body of waters tumbles over the
falls—raising up majestic mountains of mist—and then sweeps grandly to
the rapids, in the raging whirlpools of which poor Captain Webb lost his
life, or, in plainer words, committed suicide.  Then there are the
cabmen, who will not give you a moment’s peace, and affect not to
understand you when you intimate that you prefer to walk rather than to
ride; and a grand walk it is, about a mile from the station on the
Canadian side.  Far, far below is the river—a chasm in a mass of old dark
rock—into which you peer with wondering eyes till the brain is almost
dizzy.  Words fail to convey the impressions, as passing cloud and
fleeting sunshine add to the marvellous beauty of the spot.  I scrambled
down to where the ferry-boat is, and drank in all the charm of the place,
not caring to be ferried across, quite satisfied with watching the
eternal fall of water as I sat there—a mere human speck in that
mysterious grandeur.  The white man has come and made the place his own.
He has now thrown three bridges across it, and on the American side has
built a brewery, whose ‘Niagara ales’ are famous all over the American
Continent.  I am glad to say that it is only on the Canadian side that
you have a good view of the Falls; but on neither side is there what
there ought to be, a wilderness.  On each side there are houses and
hotels, and churches, all the way; and I was offered Guinness’s Dublin
Stout and Bass’s Pale Ale, just as if I were dining in a Fleet Street
restaurant.  On my return I met a funeral procession.  Death had come
into one of the wooden houses on the side, and the friends and relatives
had ridden in their buggies and country carts to pay the last tribute of
respect to the deceased.  Yes; death is lord of life—in the New World as
well as in the Old.

I went then by way of Hamilton, through a district as fertile and as
well-farmed as any in England, looking far more civilized than any part I
have yet seen.  There are no stumps of trees in the ground, as there are
elsewhere, and the houses look as if they had been built long enough to
allow of home comforts; and, as Hamilton is the place to which many of
our poor lads are sent, I was glad to feel that in such a district they
would have few hardships to encounter, and would have every chance of
getting on.  Here at one time there were bears and wolves; but they have
long since disappeared before the march of their master, man.  It is not
so long since there was quail shooting on the very site of the city of
Toronto, and hawks would carry off the chickens the earlier emigrants
were attempting painfully to rear, and the Indians were also unwelcome
guests.  I have heard of an old Scotch settler who, as his last resort,
invoked the aid of bagpipes, wherewith to frighten his unwelcome guests;
but even that did not frighten the Indians, who carried off the contents
of his potato ground, undisturbed by a musical performance which would
have struck terror into the stoutest English heart.  Well, all that wild
forest region is now the home of peace and plenty, and distant be the day
when Professor Goldwin Smith’s idea will be realized, and it has been
peacefully annexed by the United States.  Out in Canada that idea finds
little favour.  Why should it?  It is a favourite boast with Americans
that Canada will ultimately be theirs.  I am sure that is not a favourite
idea of the Canadians themselves.  Great Britain, it is to be hoped, will
be as loyal to Canada as Canada is to her.

The thing is not to be settled quite so easily as Professor Goldwin Smith
anticipates.  In Quebec Province we have a million of French Canadians,
who make no secret of their preference to a French rather than an English
alliance, and who are quite prepared to act accordingly, as soon as
British authority shall have become relaxed.  Then we have the Acadians
of Nova Scotia, who would probably follow the lead of French Canada; nor
could the few Britishers of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island escape
the same fate.  France is quite prepared to increase her influence in
this part of the world.  Indeed, at the present moment there is talk of
her buying the island of Anticosti, which, as you may be aware, though
almost uninhabited now—save in the summer, when the fishermen go
there—makes a very respectable appearance in the river St. Lawrence.
Then we come to Ontario, which, placed as she is, could not withstand an
attack from the United States.

Once upon a time the Yankees did make an attempt of the kind—that was in
1837—an attempt which the loyal men of Canada helped Sir Francis Head to
put down.  Toronto escaped, though she had the enemy at her very gates.
I must say that all the Canadians with whom I have spoken have no wish to
become Americans.  For one thing, they say they can’t afford it.
Government is more costly in America than in Canada.  I admit as much as
anyone the right of the people to decide their fate.  If the Canadians
prefer to live under the star-spangled banner, it is vain for us to
attempt to retain them.  But the danger is the indifference of the
English public as to the value of such a colony as that of Canada, a
country bigger than all Europe, and at present with a sparse population
only equalling that of London.  A few brief facts will show the
importance of the North-West to the English, not merely as a field for
emigration, but for other reasons as well.

From Liverpool to Winnipeg, _viâ_ Hudson’s Bay, the distance is less by
1,100 miles than by way of the St. Lawrence, and they are now talking of
making a railway along that route.  From Liverpool to China and Japan,
_viâ_ the northern route, the distance is 1,000 miles shorter than by any
other line.  It is really 2,000 miles shorter than by San Francisco and
New York.  How immense, then, will be the power which the possession of
Hudson’s Bay, and of the railway route through to the Pacific, must
confer upon Great Britain, so long as she holds it under safe
control!—and where is the nation that can prevent her so holding it, as
long as her fleets command the North Atlantic?  It is utterly
inconceivable that English statesmen would be found so mad or so
unpatriotic as thus to throw away the key of the world’s commerce, by
neglecting or surrendering British interests in the North-West.  Our
great cities would not sanction such a policy for an instant.  England
could better afford to give up the Suez Canal, or be rid of her South
African colonies.  The interests of the two countries are inseparable.
We require the North-West to send us grain.  She requires us as her best
customer.  Manitoba has her natural market in Great Britain, and in the
near future Great Britain will have her best customers in Manitoba and
the North-Western Provinces.

It is to the credit of the Canadians—that is, if figures may be
trusted—that they spend less on drink, and more on education, than we do
in the Old Country.

Party feeling runs high; but it is difficult to an outsider to understand
what is the line of separation between the ins and the outs.  An English
writer tells us that she once asked a member of the Greek Opposition in
Parliament, what was the difference between them and the Government.
‘Why,’ was his reply, ‘it is this.  If M. Tricoupi says we want
railroads, we say, “No; we want canals.”  If he says a thing must be done
by horses, we say, “No; it must be done by oxen.”’  It is just the same
here.  What one party proposes the other opposes.  The present rulers
rode into power on the wings of Protection.  They are Tories; but it is
to be feared the Liberals would have done the same, had they had a
chance.  It is the fashion to use very bad language, and to imply the
worst of motives to your opponents; and it is in this easy way the
Canadian newspapers fill up their columns when they are not—and this
seems their great mission—quarrelling with one another.

The country farmers, who are much keener men of business than their
fellow farmers in the Old Country, care little about politics.  At the
last election a friend of mine said to a farmer, ‘Have you voted?’  ‘Oh
yes!’ was the reply.  ‘Well, for which party?’  Ah, that was a question
he could not answer.  He had voted as his neighbour told him; and he knew
that his neighbour was a real good man, and that he would not give him
bad advice.  So long as voters are thus simple, elections will be a
mockery and a sham.

I have left Toronto behind, and here I am on Lake Superior, the largest
body of fresh water in the world—so large is it, that if you immerse in
it Great Britain and Ireland, and add the Isle of Man and the Isle of
Wight, there would still be a respectable amount of water to
spare—enough, at any rate, to make a river as long as the Thames, which
we in England hold to be a very decent sort of river indeed.  As I came
up the St. Lawrence, some of the Canadians, who are, as they may well be,
proud of their grand river, asked me what I thought of it.  My reply was
that for a colony so young, it was a very tidy sort of river indeed; and
I may say the same of the enormous body of water on which I am now
floating.  It is a big thing indeed—as might be expected, where both
Canada and the United States contribute to its bigness.  We are in the
middle of the lake, having Michigan on one side.  Already we have stopped
twice—once to take a pilot, and then again at Le Sault, where we had to
stay while we waited our turn to enter the canal which connects the
Georgian Bay to Lake Superior.  There, indeed, we were made conscious of
the fact that we were within the United States, as the banner of the
stars and stripes floated proudly on each side of us, and there were a
few soldiers in blue regimentals standing on the wharf, to say nothing of
loafers, and boys and girls and half-breeds, to welcome our arrival.

For one thing I felt proud of my country.  The Americans have nothing
here equal to the _Algoma_, a crack steamer built on the Clyde for the
Canadian Pacific Railway, and to which, at this present moment, are
entrusted Cæsar and his fortunes.  It is only the second trip the
_Algoma_ has made, as for the greater season of the year this immense
water-way, incredible as it seems to us, is a solid block of ice, and we
have it all around us still.  I boarded the _Algoma_ on Saturday
afternoon, after a rapid run by rail from Toronto, which city we left in
the morning at half-past eleven, and I assure you I was glad the journey
was safely over, as once or twice it seemed to me, at one or two of the
curves, the cars were very near leaving the rails; and the boy—they are
all boys here—who had to attend to the brake, gave me a grin, as if he
thought that we had much to be thankful for that we kept the track at
all.  I presume I shall get used to that sort of thing, but at present
the sensation experienced in rounding some of the curves is more novel
than agreeable.

We are a very miscellaneous company on board, chiefly Toronto traders and
stalwart boys from Manitoba, who have been enjoying a holiday in Upper
Canada, and emigrants.  Gloves are unknown, likewise hats and
shirt-collars are the exception rather than the rule.  As to having one’s
boots blackened, that is rather an expensive luxury, when you recollect
the charge is fivepence a pair, and no one on board apparently has had
his boots blackened for the last week or two; and I question much whether
I shall require any of Day and Martin till I get back to Toronto again—an
event which will take place apparently about the time of the Greek
kalends.  Hitherto I have managed the blacking difficulty most
effectively.  As far as Toronto I travelled with my London friend, who,
aware of the custom of the country, had provided himself with the needful
materials for the fitting amount of polish, and who generously permitted
me to reap the benefit of his superior knowledge.  My first attempt, I
fear, was a failure.  In my bedroom at the hotel I set to work, and soon
acquired the requisite amount of polish; but, alas! I had forgotten the
effect of blacking on clean sheets, and to my horror I discovered the
bed-linen was, at any rate, as plentifully covered with blacking as ‘them
precious boots.’  However, I did not regret the catastrophe, as I hoped
it might teach the landlord it would be cheaper to get the boots of his
guests blackened in an efficient manner, than to leave such unskilful
amateurs as myself to do it on their own account.

Life on board the _Algoma_ is as agreeable as can well be imagined.  We
have three good meals a day.  I am writing in a magnificent saloon,
nearly three hundred feet long, and if the nights are cold, as they
always are on the lakes, I have a cabin all to myself, and by heaping the
bed-clothes for two berths on my bed, and throwing a heavy great-coat
over them, I manage to keep myself warm for the night.  The scenery by
day is magnificent, as we sail in and out among a thousand isles, all
richly wooded to the water’s edge, with here and there a little village,
or small settlement, where the woodmen ply their calling—the results of
which may be seen now in a raft being towed by a tug, to be shipped lower
down to Liverpool or Glasgow, or in stacks of planks along the shore.
Further behind is the mainland, with rock and wood in endless succession.
At Sault St. Marie, the river is celebrated for its fish, and as you pass
through the canal, you have plenty of Indian canoes paddling about, with
a man at the stern to seize the fish by a hand-net: the white fish of
Lake Superior is held to be a great delicacy.  After a day and night, we
get into the open lake, out of sight of land, and then we land at Port
Arthur, whence we take the train to Winnipeg, where I hope to hear a
scrap of English news.

I have but one complaint to make, and that is, on the Sunday we had no
service of any kind.  I am not, nor ever was, a stickler for forms; but
there are times, especially as many now on board may be planted far away
from any religious observance, when it seems to me a simple service might
be the means of strengthening old impressions, and perhaps planting new
ones.  One thinks of that fine old hymn of Andrew Marvel’s:

    ‘What can we do but sing His praise,
    Who guides us through the watery maze?’

And an hour or so thus spent, surely may be quite as helpful to the
higher life we all dream of, at any rate, as the favourite occupation of
the majority—smoking and spitting, or the study of the maps of the
district to which we are all rapidly approaching.  I had a queer chat
this morning with an old Canadian farmer who landed at Le Sault.  He was
pleased to hear that I had been at Yarmouth in Norfolk.  His mother was a
Clarke of Yarmouth.  Did I know any of the Clarkes of Yarmouth?  I
replied that I had not that pleasure, but that I knew many of the
Clarkes, and that they were a highly-respectable family indeed.

Well, I have now done with Ontario, and you ask me what I think of it?  I
reply that it is a beautiful country, and that it has room for any amount
of farm labourers and servant girls.  I have been talking with a
gentleman this morning, who tells me that he pays his groom about £6 a
month, and that he boards him as well.  He tells me of a Scotch labourer
who came out without £1 in his pocket, and who has just died worth

At Ottawa I saw a large lumber-yard worth many thousand pounds, which was
the property of one who came from England as a working man.  As to
mechanics, I fear the case is different.  In Ontario, in all the towns,
the mechanics have strong unions, and they do all they can to keep out
emigrants of that class, fearing that their own wages will be reduced.
This dog-in-the-manger policy prevails everywhere, and many mechanics,
directly they land, are thus frightened by them, and want to get back to
England at once.  There are two sides to every question.  All I can say
is, that while a mechanic’s representative, at Montreal, was telling me
that there was no room for mechanics, and was doing all he could to
induce those who came out with me to return to England at once, I saw an
advertisement with my own eyes in a local paper (I am sorry I have
forgotten the name) for five hundred mechanics, who were immediately
wanted.  A man who has got a good situation in England would be a fool to
give it up and come out; but I believe a mechanic who has a head on his
shoulders—who is young and in good health, and knows how to take
advantage of his situation—may find a living even in Ontario.  This is my
deliberate conviction, after all I have seen and heard, and with the full
knowledge that in Montreal, and Ottawa, and Toronto, there is a pauper
class as badly off as any of the denizens of our London slums.  The
people I most pity are the young fellows who in England have had the
training of gentlemen, and who are sadly out of place in Canada, and whom
the Canadian mothers dread, fearing that they may corrupt the native
youth.  Many of them, however, are decent fellows; but nevertheless,
there is no room for them, unless they go out to Manitoba, and get some
farmer to give them board and lodging for their work.  I parted with
quite a pang with one such on Friday, at Toronto.  He was the nephew of a
well-known noble lord, and really seemed a very decent sort of fellow.
‘What can you do?’ I said to him.  ‘Oh, I can row and play cricket,’ was
his reply.  Unfortunately, Canada is not much of a country for
cricket—the summer season is too short; and I felt that my young friend,
unless he could turn his hand to something more useful or lucrative, had
better have remained at home.

The pleasant steamship journey ended, I landed at Port Arthur—a town
situated in one of the loveliest bays I have yet seen, almost surrounded
by weird and fantastic rocks—with a view to run by the Canadian Pacific
as far as Winnipeg.  As I landed a bill met my eye: ‘Wanted, a hundred
rock-men and fifty labourers;’ and that seemed to me an indication that
emigrants need not go begging for work in that particular locality.  Port
Arthur, which stands near the ancient Hudson Bay Company’s station of
Fort William, was in a state of intense activity.  Every one was building
wooden houses and shops who could do so.  According to all appearances,
it is certainly a busy place; but architecturally I cannot say that it is
of much account.  The main street opens on to the railway, along which
the engines, ringing a doleful bell in order to bid passengers keep out
of the way, pass every few minutes.  Then there are wooden shops and
wooden hotels, and the usual concourse of rough, unwashed, half-dressed
loafers in the streets.  Behind them is the forest and in front the bay,
with its waters almost as clear as those of the Baltic, and almost as
blue as those of Naples.  Yet I certainly got very heartily tired of Port
Arthur, and so, I am sure, did all my travelling companions, who sat on
the planks or on the wooden pavement, which, being raised above the road,
made passable seats, or on the bits of rock which the railway builders
had been too busy to remove, wondering at what hour the train would
start.  I pitied the poor emigrants, with their children, and their beds,
and their household furniture, as they sat there, hour after hour, in
that hot and sandy street.  We landed at eleven, having made the whole
distance from Toronto—a run of about eight hundred miles—in exactly two
days and two nights—not quite so long as Jonah was in the whale’s belly,
but we certainly got over more ground than he did.  When were we to
start?  No one knew.  It takes a long time to get out £4,000 worth of
freight and passengers’ luggage, and that is what the _Algoma_ had on
board.  The worst of railway travelling in Canada is that there is no one
of whom you can ask a question.  There may be a station-master, there may
be a whole herd of officials, there may be an army of porters, but
Canadians in one respect resemble the Americans—and that is, that they
think it inconsistent with their manly dignity to wear any kind of garb
which can in any possible way distinguish them from the crowd of
lookers-on, always to be met with in a railway station, so that the
railway traveller is always in a perplexity.  When we got on shore we
were told that we should start in half an hour.  Then came word that we
were to be off at half-past one, and so, as soon as the cars were made
up, we joyfully climbed into them—and the steps are in many cases so high
that it is hard work climbing into them; but still we were no further on
our way, and it was not till a little before four that, after many false
starts, we could fairly believe that we were off.  Oh, it was wearisome
work, but then it may be asked, Whoever travels on a railway for
pleasure?  It is true these big American cars have certain advantages
ours lack.  You can change your position; you can talk without breaking a
blood-vessel; and you can see more of the country, especially as they do
not go the pace we are accustomed to at home; but there is such a
confusion of persons in them, that to one accustomed to the society to be
met with in an English first-class carriage, the result is anything but
pleasing.  In the Canadian first-class carriage Jack and his master ride
side by side, unless the latter takes a berth in a sleeping car, for
which he has to pay extra.  As I did not feel inclined to give three
dollars for a night’s unquiet rest, I took my chance with the first-class
car company, and I can assure you that by the time the dim grey of
morning glimmered on the horizon, I had heartily repented of my decision.
The night was so cold that everything in the way of ventilation was
stopped up.  The car was quite full, and few of my fellow travellers
seemed to have had much regard for soap and water.  It is true there was
a lavatory attached to the car, but there was neither water nor soap nor
towels, and the neatness of the lavatory in other respects only seemed to
me to make matters worse.  I must say that the car, which was built in
Canada, was a remarkably handsome one, with its dark wood panels
beautifully carved, and its seats all lined with red velvet; yet when I
left it in the morning it was in a filthy state.  I also found in it
agreeable society, but there were many who could not truthfully be
included in such a category—rough men and women with whom in England you
would not care to travel in a third-class carriage: but I am an
Englishman, and may be pardoned for not knowing any better.  It is to the
same defect, perhaps, that I may trace the disappointment I felt at the
refreshment sheds, in which we were permitted to snatch a hasty meal,
waited on by a man in shirt-sleeves.  Certainly we do that part of our
business better at home.  The Canadian Pacific have a dining-room of
their own at Winnipeg, and there, if possible, the traveller should
endeavour to secure a meal.

But oh, that ride! I shall never forget it.  Burns tells us that Nature
tried her ’prentice hand on man

    ‘And then she made the lassies, oh!’

I think Nature must have made that part of Canada which lies between Port
Arthur and Winnipeg before she tried her hand on Great Britain and
Ireland.  It is true some part of it has an exquisite combination of wood
and water and rock, but the greater part was either forest or gigantic
plains or valleys of stone—which seemed to shut all hope from the
spectator.  In Canada—that is, along the railway lines—there is little
life in the forest, few flowers display their loveliness, and no
song-birds warble in the trees.  All is still—or would be, were it not
for the peculiar croaking of the frogs, to be heard like so many hoarse
whistles from afar.  You go miles and miles without seeing a farm or even
a log-hut.  In one place I saw an Indian wigwam, much resembling a
gipsy’s tent, and a large canoe; but dwellings of any kind are the
exception, not the rule.  The train every now and then stops, but you see
no station, and why we stop is only known to the engine-driver.  We take
no passengers up, and we set none down, or hardly ever.  The people who
get in at Port Arthur only want to be taken to Winnipeg.  There is no
traffic along the line, because there are no inhabitants along the line,
and for the greater part of the way it is not only a solitary ride, but a
rough one as well.  As you get nearer Winnipeg, the road is easier, and
the pace is more rapid.  You leave behind you rocks and forests, and
reach an open plain on which you see, perhaps, a dozen cows, where
millions might fatten and feed.  A good deal of this land, I am told,
belongs to the half-breeds.  In time it is to be hoped that they may
utilize it more than they seem to do now.

A great change is impending over this part of the world.  Even that stony
district of which I wrote, and which seemed to me as the abomination of
desolation, is, I hear, full of mineral wealth, which will be brought to
light as soon as a certain boundary difficulty is settled—Ontario and
Manitoba at present are each contending for the prize—and the decision of
the question must shortly take place.

Perhaps the one thing that has most struck me with admiration is the
pluck which has given birth to the Canadian Pacific Railway, by means of
which the emigrant is taken from his landing in Quebec to his destination
on the slopes of the Pacific, without ever leaving the Canadian soil.  It
is a patriotic enterprise, for under the former system the emigrant who
intended to settle in Canada, and who, in reality, was wanted there, was
often tempted to change his mind and to settle in the United States.  It
was a bold enterprise, for the cost was enormous, and Canada is not a
wealthy country.  It was an enterprise which was made the subject of
party conflict.  Appalling difficulties have had to be surmounted by the
engineers.  Yet all have been vanquished, and in a few months this grand
scheme will be an accomplished fact, and you will be carried direct from
one side of this enormous continent to the other.  I think Sir John
Macdonald is to be congratulated for the courage and tenacity he has
displayed on the subject, through good or bad report, and too much praise
cannot be awarded to Mr. George Stephens, who has been the ruling spirit
and life of the undertaking from the first, and I am sure that such
railway officials as those I have met, such as Mr. Van Horne, have proved
loyal coadjutors, evincing a similar wide grasp of mind and readiness of
resource for which Sir John himself is distinguished.

In England they are well represented by Mr. Begg, who, as he knows the
district well, can speak of it with a confidence and certainty possessed
by no one else.  It is to him the credit must be given of the Manitoba
farm in the Forestry Exhibition at Edinburgh last autumn, which was
visited with much interest by the Prince of Wales and Mr. Gladstone, and
to which I was glad to see, for I was there several days, the Scotch
farmers and agriculturists paid particular attention.  Such men are an
honour to Canada, and may be ranked amongst its best friends.  It is to
them that Canada owes her present proud position and ability to find
happy homes for the tens of thousands of England and the Continent, whom
she has rescued from starvation, and whom she has placed in the way to
insure wealth and health and happiness.  I find even poor persecuted Jews
driven from Russia on this fertile land, who, under these favouring
skies, have learned to become prosperous farmers.  One may well be proud
of Canada, and be proud to think Canada belongs to us.  When Bret Harte

    ‘Is our civilization a failure,
    Is the Caucasian played out?’

I answer in Canada with an emphatic No!  Canada is redolent of industrial
success.  The very air of the place is full of hope.

      [Picture: Second Year on a Prairie Farm, Canadian North-West]

Not only has the Canadian Pacific Railway opened up the country, but it
has established experimental farms in different parts, in order to test
the capabilities of the soil and the advantages or disadvantages of the
climate.  It is said, and extensively believed, that the soil between
Moose Jaw and Calgary is made up of desert and alkali lands, and entirely
unfit for cultivation.  With a view to correct that idea, ten farms were
established at the following stations: 1, Secretan; 2, Rush Lake; 3,
Swift Current; 4, Gull Lake; 5, Maple Creek; 6, Forres; 7, Dunmore; 8,
Stair (these two being the nearest stations east and west of Medicine Hat
at the crossing of the Saskatchewan River); 9, Tilley, and 10, Gleichen,
the last being within view of the Rocky Mountains.  The breaking
throughout was found to be easy, the soil in every case good and in most
instances excellent, ranking with the choicest lands in the Company’s
more eastern belt: wherever the rating of the soil is lowered, according
to the Company’s standard, owing to its being of a lighter grade, the
inferiority will be compensated for by the certainty of the grain
maturing more rapidly.

    [Picture: Calico Island, Saskatchewan River, Canadian North-West]

In a pamphlet just issued it is stated that the average from all the
farms was as follows:

    ‘Wheat 21½ bushels; oats, 44¼; barley, 23¼; peas, 12½.

    ‘The above yields were ascertained by accurately chaining the ground
    and weighing the grain, this work being done by a qualified Dominion
    Land Surveyor, and the results, both favourable and otherwise, have
    been fully given.

    ‘At each farm about one acre of spring wheat and oats were sown and
    harrowed in in the fall when breaking was done.  Much of this grain
    germinated during the mild weather of November and December, at which
    time it showed green above the ground, and as a consequence it was
    nearly all killed during the winter, and the ground had to be resown
    in spring.  Some small pieces of wheat which were not entirely killed
    out were left; and, though the straw showed a rank growth, with heads
    and grain much larger than that sown in spring, the crop ripened very
    unevenly and much later.  Fall sowing of spring wheat, which has
    proved successful in Manitoba, is not likely to be a success in the
    western country, as the winter is much more mild and open, and the
    grain liable to germinate and be killed.  Fall wheat has not, as far
    as we are aware, been tried, and there seems no reason why it should
    not prove successful.

    ‘The results obtained, considering the manner in which the land was
    treated, proved much more satisfactory than was anticipated, and

    ‘1st—That for grain growing, the land in this section of country is
    capable of giving as large a wheat yield per acre as the heavier
    lands of Manitoba.

    ‘2nd—That a fair crop can be obtained the first year of settlement on

    ‘3rd—That for fall seeding with spring grain on the western plains, a
    satisfactory result cannot be looked for with any degree of

    ‘4th—That cereals, roots, and garden produce can be successfully
    raised at an elevation of 3,000 feet above the sea-level.

    ‘5th—That seeding can be done sufficiently early to allow of all the
    crop being harvested before the first of September.’

And I hear of many who have done well—some of whom came out without a
rap—and who enjoy a robust health unknown to them at home.

Perhaps nowhere has a village so suddenly sprung up into a city as at
Winnipeg, which first obtained notoriety by the advent of Lord Garnet
Wolseley, then a young man, who came to suppress the rebellion raised
there by a half-breed of the name of Riel, a daring young French
Canadian, wily as a savage, brilliant and energetic.  In 1870 he appealed
to the prejudices and fears of the half-breeds, and in a few days had 400
men at his back.  Owing to the clemency—perhaps mistaken—of his captors,
Riel escaped the punishment due to his crimes.  In 1873 he was enrolled
as a member of Parliament, notwithstanding that at one time a reward of
5,000 dollars had been offered for his apprehension as a murderer.

The name of Winnipeg was then little known outside Manitoba.  It was
built by traders, who wished to rival Fort Garrey, then the headquarters
of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and to carry on a free trade on their own
account.  After the suppression of the rebellion, Manitoba had a local
Parliament, which met at Winnipeg, and also sent its representatives to
the Dominion Parliament.  The place grew rapidly, though even at that
time Mr. Mackenzie, Sir John Macdonald’s political opponent, declared
that a cart track was good enough for Manitoba for many years to come.
In 1875 the total population was 3,031 assessed and 2,000 non-assessed,
which was a pretty respectable increase, considering that in 1869 there
were hardly a hundred settlers in the place.  As late as 1876 the sport
of wolf-hunting was carried on by several of the inhabitants just outside
the city.  Now it has churches, banks, schools, manufactures, and
mercantile men of great energy and high standing; and has become,
especially since the Pacific Railway Company has made it one of their
great stations, the gateway of the North-West.  Settlers came crowding in
from all quarters, and in ten months, in 1878, 600,592 acres of land were
located.  In 1879 Winnipeg boasted of a street extension of 83 miles, and
then came the bridge over the Red River to render the town easy of access
to all new-comers.  Intoxicated with success, what the Americans call a
‘boom’ was created a year or two since, which seemed to have made
everyone lose his wits.  There was no end to speculation in town lots;
merchants, tradesmen, professional men, could think of nothing else.  The
bottom, however, soon fell out, and at this time Winnipeg is in rather a
depressed state; but it is clear, from its peculiar position, that this
depression can only be temporary.  It is destined to be the great
distributing and railway centre of the vast North-West.  The town has now
a population of 26,000, and three daily papers, besides weekly ones.  Ten
years hence, it is predicted, she will be ten times her present size.
Her wharves will be lined with steamboats; her river-banks with
elevators; industries and manufactures will spring up in her midst, and
her streets will be fuller of life than they are to-day.

Winnipeg stands low, and at certain seasons—that is, when the thaw
commences—it is liable to floods; but the air is singularly pure and
bracing—while I write the sky is an azure blue—and the hottest days are
followed by cool nights.  The inhabitants all seem to be in the
possession of good health.  Then the water was said to be bad, whereas I
find it to be quite the reverse.  The supply of gas is poor, and it seems
rarely used.  The one great drawback is Winnipeg mud.

The streets, all of them, are as broad as Portland Place, only with
handsomer shops.  I fear in wet weather they must be almost impassable.
As it is, the sides are now dried up, as if they were ploughed, and
carriages seem to make their way with considerable difficulty; but there
is a magnificent broad wooden side walk to all the streets, while in the
middle sufficient smoothness has been attained for the due working of
street railways, which seem to be in a satisfactory condition.  I have
also been agreeably disappointed with the hotels, which I was told were
all bad and all tremendously dear.  On the contrary, I have found in the
new Douglas Hotel, in the main street, as good accommodation as I
require, and at a very reasonable rate; while the proprietor—Mr. Bennett,
a worthy Scotchman—does all he can for the comfort of his guests, having
introduced into this far distant land all the latest improvements, such
as heating the place by steam and the use of electric bells.

A walk in the city is amusing.  Grand shops and well-built offices
everywhere attract the eye.  Ladies in the latest fashion meet you one
minute, and the next you jostle a swarthy Indian, half civilized, and his
squaw, still less civilized than himself.  Odd fur-skins are exposed for
sale, while a stuffed bear adorns the main street, up and down which run
all day long the newsboys with the latest telegrams from London, or
Paris, or New York.  To-day I have seen a photograph of the original
fireman of the ‘Rocket,’ who lives here, and has made a large fortune by
contracts.  Unfortunately, at this time he is absent from home, and I
fear I shall not have a chance of interviewing him.  Religion flourishes
here.  There are about fifteen churches and chapels in the city, and the
Young Men’s Christian Association is in a very successful condition.  Of
Protestant bodies, the leading ones are the Presbyterians, the
Methodists, and the Episcopalians.  In connection with the Cathedral of
St. Boniface, the oldest church in the city, it is interesting to note
that the bells came originally from Birmingham, by Hudson’s Bay, and that
after the destruction of the building the remains of the metal were
gathered up and sent to Birmingham, whence they have again come back
after an interval of three years.  The city stands in the midst of a
fertile plain, adequate to the support of any amount of population.  But
the land is far better further on.  At Manitoba, for instance, the soil
is much finer.  Manitoba is an Indian name denoting the Voice of God.  It
seems that the rocks on the river are cavernous, and that at certain
seasons of the year the wind strikes them with such force as to produce a
singular reverberation, which the rude Indian, whose untutored mind
teaches him to see God in the cloud and hear Him in the wind, considered
to be no less than the utterance of the Deity Himself.

          [Picture: Hunting scene on the Souris River, Manitoba]

Just now people are rather exercised with the Indians, who have been
placed in reserves where they cannot get a living, and who, besides, find
their location an unhealthy swamp.  One of the Winnipeg journals is very
indignant, and says this is what may be expected from the Government.
From all I can learn, the Indians are sturdy maintainers of their rights,
and take care that the Government shall not easily overreach them; and
perhaps, on the whole, the Indians are better off under Canadian than
they would be under American government.  Indeed, people say they are
very good fellows when uncorrupted by Englishmen.  The emigrant in these
parts must not be surprised at the occasional appearance of an Indian;
and perhaps it is well that the farmer takes care of his horses.  I am
sorry for the poor Indian, who is the original owner of the soil, and
whom, perhaps, one day Mr. Henry George may see fit to visit with a view
to the recovery of his rights and the redress of his wrongs.  When that
is the case, the emigrant will have to pack up and return to his native
land.  Till that is the case, however, he may safely cross the water, and
avail himself of the advantages offered him by the Dominion Government;
but to do that he must have at least £200, and then he can stock his farm
and keep himself till the return for his labours comes in.

                    [Picture: Souris Valley, Manitoba]

‘The worst of all our books on emigration,’ said the editor of one of the
dailies to me, ‘is that they give too glowing an estimate of the state of
affairs.  They say a farmer will do well with £100.  This is not
sufficient capital as a rule to start with.  It is true there have been
instances where settlers have succeeded on this sum, but with such a sum
as £200, Manitoba offers the farmer advantages such as no other place
offers him.’  Here, also, the regular farm-hand is sure of his living.  I
see an attempt is being made by a gentleman, now in Winnipeg, to plant
out a couple of hundred boys—and I hear there is room for them.  But
there is little building going on in Winnipeg, and the mechanic need not
trouble himself to come here.  All in this part are loud in condemnation
of emigration from the East-end of London.  Those poor of the
East-end—alas! neither the Old World nor the New seems to know what to do
with them.  Since this was written I see the Manitoba Mortgage and
Investment Company have declared a dividend of eight per cent., an
indication that at any rate in their part of the world money is being



‘You will find Moose Jaw a very pretty place,’ said a gentleman to me as
I left Winnipeg; and certainly it is a pretty place, though not exactly
according to an Englishman’s idea of prettiness.

It consists of a railway-station and an assemblage of wooden huts and
shops, which have all been called into existence within the last twelve
months.  It boasts a weekly organ (such as it is), two or three places of
worship, one or two billiard-rooms, and a post-office—not a tent, as in
some parts of the country in which I have been, but a real wooden-house.
The shopkeepers seem to have nothing to do, and the pigs perambulate the
streets, evidently enjoying the fine freedom allowed them in this part of
the world.  There are at this time about 700 or 800 settlers, some of the
farmers who came out last year having moved further west.

I am writing in the railway-station, in the waiting-rooms of which are
many farmers, all on their way to Calgary—for which place, also, I am
bound, expecting to start at the very inconvenient hour of two p.m.

The scene, as I sit, is not cheering.  Far as the eye can reach there is
the prairie.  It was the same all the way from Winnipeg.  It will be the
same all the way to Calgary, some 400 or 500 miles hence.  It is
intensely hot, and men and women sit in the open air, under such shade as
the wooden houses afford.  It is intensely cold in the winter.  Not a
tree is to be seen, or a hill, or a farmhouse; nothing to relieve the
monotony of the sea of grass land on every side, except here and there a
prairie fire—the first step to be taken before the farmer commences the
cultivation of the soil; and I must own a prairie fire by night is rather
a pretty sight.

I parted last night with a General and his wife, who have come to settle
about forty miles off.  At present he and his family have no fresh meat,
and he has to make an arrangement with a Brandon butcher, about a hundred
and fifty miles off, to supply him with a Sunday joint.  Tinned meats his
family have tried, and he has got with him a fresh joint of meat, which
he purchased in Winnipeg; but there are prairie chickens always to be
had, and in some places, as we came along, we saw an abundance of wild
ducks on the Assiniboine River, and in swamps, over which we rushed in
the Pullman car.

This luxury cannot be expected in Moose Jaw.  Here there is no water at
all.  Last year the farmers had no rain, and they fear they will have
none now.  As it is, the prairie begins to look a little scorched.  I
should be loth to spend the remainder of my days here; but a farmer may
make a living, and so may a farm-labourer.  As to any other class of
people here, there is no opening at all.  The town is full of
shopkeepers, barristers, auctioneers, and dealers.  Mechanics who come
out will starve.  When the land around is taken up they will have a
chance, but not till then.

As I sit, a dark figure beckons me to come to him.  He has a Jim Crow
hat, a blanket around his martial form, and a gayer one in front.  He has
rings in his ears, bracelets on his arms, and a string of some kind of
beads around his neck.  He offers me his hand, and I shake it.  Then I
commence a conversation.  ‘What you called?’ I say.  He makes an
unintelligible reply.  ‘You Smith, or Brown, or Jones, or Robinson?’ I
ask; and again he gives an unintelligent grunt.  I offer him a cigar, and
he sits down on his haunches in the shade.  He is one of the Black Bull
men, who have been chased from the States, in consequence of having made
that part of the world too hot for them.  They are not natives of this
country, but have settled in the prairie two or three miles off.  I tell
him to be a good boy, and I dare say he will obey my injunction as
literally as any other man in England or anywhere else.

Again I look, and two red-coated warriors greet me.  They are on the
look-out for contraband, and are as fine and clean and well-set fellows
as any I have seen anywhere.  They belong to the mounted police, and live
chiefly in the saddle, as there are but five hundred of them to all this
gigantic North-West.  I had already made their acquaintance.  At the
first station we came to after leaving Manitoba, one of them came into
the car, gave a searching glance all round, and then walked out.  ‘What
was that for?’ I asked the General.  ‘Oh! he has come to see if we have
any whisky.  They are very particular.  I was coming this way once, when
a fellow traveller took out his pocket flask and began drinking.  The
mounted policeman who saw him do it immediately took his flask from him,
and emptied it there and then.’  This strict prohibition is the result,
not of the prevalence of Temperance sentiment in the North-West, but
rather of fear of the Indians, who are better shots than the mounted
police, although not so well provided with fire-arms.  The people seem to
anticipate that the law will be relaxed when the whites are more numerous
and the Indians fewer.  The law has had good results, nevertheless.  In
obedience to it the German gives up his lager-beer.  And next to the
Scotch the Germans make the best emigrants.

The General tells me such is the fineness of the climate that he finds he
can get on very well without his customary glass of grog.  At Moose Jaw
the inhabitants take to Hop Bitters instead, and one of the institutions
of the place is the Hop Bitters Brewery.

I believe you may keep whisky if you get a permit, and a permit is not
difficult, I understand, to get.

I am sorry to say the General, in spite of the mounted police, offered me
a drop of whisky, and at a later period a friend, as we sat smoking,
asked me if I was ready for a ‘smile.’  Of course, in my ignorance, I
replied in the affirmative.  Diving under his seat, he brought out a fine
bottle of real Scotch, and, mixing it with water, offered me a ‘smile.’
You may be sure I indignantly refused.  You cannot expect me to be a
party to the violation of the law.

These Indians just now are creating a little apprehension, especially the
tribe under the renowned Yellow Calf, who it was hoped had taken to
farming, and who last year had a good crop, and bought a reaping machine;
but the Indians are very restless, and Yellow Calf has sent a messenger
to rouse the tribes, and a strong party of the mounted police are
detached to watch his movements.  They are dying off the face of the
earth, and we may well suppose that they bear no love to the white man,
who has taken possession of the lands which they once knew to be their
own.  Here the people evidently think that the sooner the Indians are
exterminated the better.  The men do not work; all that is done by the
squaws—wretched women with long black hair, and little black eyes as
round as beads, and who rejoice in blankets quite as unromantic, but
quite as comfortable, as those of their lords and masters.  Hitherto, I
have not made way with the dusky beauties, but I may be more successful

I believe the Indians have a real grievance against the Canadian
Government.  It was agreed that they should be settled in reserves, and
that they should have a certain amount of food supplied.  This compact
was fairly observed by the Canadian Government; but in an evil hour they
made this part of their duty over to contractors, and we know what
contractors are, all the world over.  The Indians say faith has not been
kept with them, and it is to be feared that they have good reason for
saying so.  Just now they are starving, as this is the close season, and
they are not permitted to hunt or fish.  They say that there is no close
season as far as the stomach is concerned, and from personal experience I
may say I believe they are right.

It is now noon on the prairie, and I am dying of the heat.  Oh, for the
forest shade!  Oh, for the crystal stream!  Alas! the water here is not
good for the stranger, and I fear to touch it.  At Toronto I managed
pretty well on Apollinaris water; but out here nothing of the kind is to
be had.  What am I to do?  The beef here is so tough that you can’t cut
it with a knife, and must have belonged to the oldest importation from my
native land; and I have to pay a price for which I can have a luxurious
repast in London.  O Spiers and Pond!  O Gordon and Co.!  O respected
Ring and Brymer, under whose juicy joints and sparkling wines the ancient
Corporation of London renews its youth!  How my soul longs for your
flesh-pots in this dry and thirsty land, where no water is!  I have been
out on the prairie under the burning sun.  It is cracked, and parched,
and bare, and the flowers refuse to bloom, and only the gigantic
grasshopper or the pretty but repulsive snake meets my eye.  That dim
line, protracted to the horizon east and west, is the railroad.  That
far-off collection of sheds is the rising town of Moose Jaw.  That blue
line on the horizon, which makes me pant for the sea, is a mirage.  Far
off are some white tents glistening in the sun.  They are the wigwams of
the Indians.

Like the Wandering Jew, again I urge on my wild career, and here I am
with noble savages—so hideous that words fail to tell their hideousness.
No wonder the squaws are bashful.  They have little to be proud of,
though they have necklaces and rings and ornaments around their belts,
and gay shawls, which have come from some far away factory.  Some of them
have put a streak of red paint where the black hair divides.  Others are
painted as much as any Dowager of Mayfair, and have ear ornaments that
reach down to the middle.  Not one is fairly passable.

Rousseau and the sentimentalists, who talk of the savage, greatly err in
their estimate of that noble individual.  He is lazy and filthy,
gluttonous, and would be a wine-bibber had he the chance.  I looked into
his tent, and there he was sitting naked, whilst his squaw was cooking a
bit of a horse with the hair on for his dinner.  He is unpleasant as a
neighbour for many reasons, and is indifferent how he gets a dollar, or
how his squaw earns it either.  All along the prairie he seems to have
nothing to do but to rush to the nearest railway station, and sit there
all day in the hope that some passing traveller may give him tobacco or
cash, the only two things on earth he seems to care for.  Apparently, the
mothers are fond of their young.  The men are clever at stealing horses,
and the traveller must look after his horses by night, or he may find
them, as friends of my own did, gone in the morning.  But to return to
the prairie, it is an awful place to travel in alone; it is so easy to
lose one’s way.  I heard wonderful stories in this respect.  Fancy being
lost on the prairie; nothing but the grass to eat; nothing but the sky to
look at; nothing in the shape of human speech to listen to.  Out here by
myself, I felt more than once how appropriate the language of the poet
beloved by our grandmothers:

    ‘O Solitude, where are the charms
       That sages have seen in thy face?
    Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
       Than reign in this horrible place.’

There is a good deal of hardship to be encountered by any who would
penetrate to the dim and mysterious region we denominate the North-West.
For instance, I left Moose Jaw at half-past two yesterday morning by a
train timed to arrive there at a quarter-past one; at which unreasonable
hour I had to leave my bed, just as I was getting into a sound sleep, and
to catch the train, which was so crowded that I could scarcely get a
seat, and the atmosphere of which was not redolent of the odours of Araby
the Blest.  There I had to sit till the time I mention, as the engine
managed to get off the line.  Deeply do I pity the poor emigrants tempted
into this part of the world by the delusive utterances of sham emigration
agents at home and local journals—which, when they are not abusing one
another, seem to delight in giving representations of the country by no
means literally to be depended on; the only thing to do is to go to the
fountain head—the Government office.  People who make up their minds to
come into these parts must learn to put up with a good deal.  Here is a
sad case, a very exceptional one, I admit, but I am bound to tell the
whole truth.  I quote from a Winnipeg paper: ‘David Kirkpatrick, his
wife, and nine children, the eldest a girl of twelve, arrived from
Scotland on Wednesday.  A part of the voyage was made on board the
_Algoma_.  The cold was intense, and many of the passengers suffered
severely.  Among these was Mrs. Kirkpatrick.  The exposure, in her case,
brought on a kind of low fever, and the poor woman died yesterday
morning.  The husband’s case is deplorable.  With nine children on his
hands, what is he to do?  He has a longing desire to get back to his
friends in Scotland, but has not the means.  Will the public come to his
rescue?  He and his helpless children are to be found in the immigrant
sheds.’  I fear such cases are far from uncommon.  Imagine a poor woman
leaving her native land, crossing the restless Atlantic, perhaps feeble
with poor living, and worried with the care of nine helpless children,
perhaps scarce recovered from sea-sickness, put on board an emigrant
train, snatching hasty meals, or such accommodation as is provided at the
expense of Dominion Government (I do not blame them or the railway
authorities, they do all they can), travelling at uncertain hours, and
arriving at her destination utterly overcome by fatigue.  What wonder is
it that a poor woman now and then sacrifices her life in the attempt to
build up a new home in this Promised Land?  No wonder that now and then
death comes to such just as they reach Jordan and think that they are to
reap the fruit of all their weary toil.

               [Picture: Pioneer Store at Brandon in 1882]

As I left Brandon on my way hither I saw by the side of one of the
stations quite a little village of tents.  ‘What is that?’ said I to one
of the mounted police.  ‘The emigrants,’ was his reply.  ‘They do say,’
said he slowly, ‘that there is some sickness amongst them.’  Whether the
rumour was founded on fact I had no time to inquire, but certainly, when
one thinks of the hardships of the emigrants’ lot, and the peculiar
unfitness of many of them to stand hardships, I should not be surprised
to learn that such was the case.  The further I come out, the less demand
I find for emigrants.  It is only ploughmen who are wanted here.  The man
who will succeed is the farmer with a small capital.  He has a splendid
chance.  When the country is settled the mechanic may have his turn.

But remember, after all has been said and done, this is the Great Lone
Land.  Emigration here is but a drop in the ocean as regards results.  I
am now some 850 miles to the north-west of Winnipeg.  The country is an
unbroken level, and, with the exception of Brandon and Moose Jaw, you see
hardly a farmhouse, hardly any ploughed land, no sheep grazing on the
downs, no herds fattening in the prairie; not a single tree to hide one
from the snows of winter or the suns of summer.  By day you melt in the
sun, by night you shiver with the cold.  When we came to a swamp now and
then we saw a few wild ducks.  Once in the course of the weary ride we
saw two or three deer.  All the rest was a parched plain, with here and
there some lovely flowers, and with buffalo bones bleaching wherever you
turn your eye.  In some parts the soil was strongly impregnated with
alkali, so much so, indeed, that it made the ground white, and left a
crust of what looked like ice on the lakes and ponds.  Can that huge
region ever grow wheat and fatten flocks?  The experience of the
experimental farms proves that it will.  All I know is that ages must
elapse before Moose Jaw shall be a Manchester, or Brandon, in spite of
its many advantages, the headquarters of the agricultural interest, with
a corn market equalling that of Norwich or Ipswich.  Yet there are parts
of Manitoba which contain undoubtedly as fine corn-growing country as any
in the world.

This is especially true of the new tract of country opened up by the
Canadian Pacific in the south-west.  As a rule, the further from the
railway the land is, the better it is.  At the same time, it is to be
remembered that a farmer who has no railway access is at a great
disadvantage, and that in the winter it is no joke sending a man with a
team of oxen and a waggon-load of produce twenty or thirty miles across
the prairie, where a snowstorm, or ‘a blorrard’ at any time, may occur.

This is the great drawback of Manitoba: it has no trees.  In Ontario the
farmer has his crops protected by a belt of trees from the inclemency of
the weather.  But, then, in Manitoba the farmer has this advantage, that
he has not to devote the greater part of his time and money to the
cutting down of his trees.  He has only to plough the soil, and there is
an abundant harvest.  If Manitoba lacks trees, it is expected to yield a
plentiful supply of coal.  As I came along last night we saw a station
supplied with gas.  It appears that in boring for water they discovered
gas, which they now utilize to light the station and to work a steam
engine.  This was not, however, in Manitoba, but in Alberta, just after
we had left Medicine Hat, that pretty oasis in the desert, with the usual
supply of hotels, billiard-rooms, and stores, and where I came into
contact with the Cree Indians, a race even uglier than the Sioux Indian,
whom I found at Moose Jaw.  They have higher cheekbones, and don’t plait
their hair, and some of the old men reminded me not a little in outline
of the late Lord Beaconsfield, whom the Canadians consider Sir John
Macdonald strongly resembles.

It is curious to note how the buffalo has vanished from the region which
was formerly his happy hunting-ground.  He has now forsaken the country;
you see only his bones and his track.  Some people say that the railway
has done it, and others that the destruction is the work of the
Americans, who say, ‘Kill the buffalo and you get rid of the Indians.’
These latter are to be met with everywhere, clad in flannel garments
radiant with all the hues of the rainbow.  Chiefly they affect
blankets—red, blue, or green.  At Calgary I came across more of them—this
time of the Blackfoot tribe.  There is very little difference in any of
them.  In one thing they all resemble each other, that is, they don’t
seem to care much about work.  As English does not happen to be one of
their accomplishments, my intercourse with them has been of a somewhat
limited character.

For the sake of intending emigrants let me dispel a couple of popular
errors.  One that the heat is most enjoyable; another, that it is a cheap
country to come to.  Neither assertion is exactly the truth.  As I write
the heat is insufferable, and yet this is early spring.  I saw snow
yesterday in a hollow of the hills not yet melted, and last night,
sleeping in a stuffy Pullman car full of people, I was awoke with the
cold.  The other fallacy which I would expose is that this is a cheap
country.  On the contrary, it is nothing of the kind.  Paxton Hood, if I
remember aright, once gave a lecture on America under the title of the
‘Land of the Big Dollar.’  If I were to lecture on Canada I should call
it the ‘Land of the Little Dollar.’  A dollar here is of no account.
This morning I went into a shop and had a bottle of ginger-beer, and the
cost was one shilling; and this, too, after I had been administering a
little ‘soft sawder’ to the fair American damsel who waited on me (she
was from Michigan, and was remarkably wide awake), in the mistaken hope
that she would be a little reasonable in her charge.  Everyone smokes
cigars all day long, and yet Canadian cigars are as costly as they are
atrocious.  Fortunately one can’t spend money in drink, as that is
prohibited, and the chemists at Calgary have recently got into a scrape
for supplying customers with essence of lemon, by means of which they
manage to fuddle themselves.  The price of fruit is prohibitory;
cucumbers, such as you in London would give three halfpence for, are here
at Calgary as much as a shilling.  Eggs are four shillings a dozen; meat
and bacon and ham are as dear as in England, and not a quarter so good.
I am appalled as I see how the money goes; I fear to be stranded at the
foot of the Rockies.  If I get back to the west I shall have to work my
passage back to England as fireman or stoker, or in some such ignoble
capacity.  If I was younger I would turn gardener.  I believe anyone who
would come out here with sufficient capital to plant a nursery ground or
to stock a good fruit garden would make a lot of money, as the farmers,
of course, do not think of such things, and the supply is quite unequal
to the demand.  In Calgary they did not have three inches of frost all
last winter.  It is true they have even now a sharp nip of frost; but I
hear of peas flourishing at a farmer’s close by, and the region abounds
with wild strawberries and raspberries and cherries.  If they grow wild,
surely they will equally prosper under more careful culture.

A Special Committee of the Dominion House of Commons which was appointed
last session to obtain evidence upon the agricultural industries of the
country, examined several witnesses as to the suitability of Canada, and
especially of the Canadian North-West, for the growth of forest and fruit
trees.  The testimony given showed that there are many varieties of fruit
which thrive in Great Britain, Germany, Russia, and other European
countries, which would, if transplanted, be equally suited to the climate
of the North-West, it being stated that excellent fruit is grown in great
quantities in Europe at points where the temperature ranges considerably
lower than it does in Canada.  It is urged that the example of the
Russian and German Governments should be followed in the establishment of
plantations of fruit trees and experimental farms in different parts of
the Dominion, to test the kind of trees and fruits best suited to the
different localities.

Since my return the following paper has been put into my hands:—‘The
following is a reliable estimate of this season’s wheat crop in Manitoba
and the North-West Territories:—Estimated wheat acreage in Manitoba,
350,000; yield at 23 bushels per acre, 8,000,000; estimated wheat acreage
in North-West Territories, 65,000; yield at 23 bushels per acre, or
1,500,000 bushels—a total of 415,000 acres and 9,500,000 bushels.
Deducting 2,760,000 bushels for home consumption and seed, a surplus
remains of 6,740,000 bushels.  Everything now points to a larger yield
per acre than that of 1883.

       [Picture: Harvesting on the Bell Farm, Indian Head, N.W.I.]

‘Operations have been carried on very extensively this season at the Bell
Farm, in the Canadian North-West, which is said to be the largest farm in
the world.  Though this is but the second year of cultivation, there are
already 8,000 acres under crop, 5,000 to 6,000 of which are under wheat,
and a portion of the remainder under flax.  Last year 10,000 bushels were
exported from the farm, and the excellence of the grain secured for it a
good price in the market.  The crop of this year is estimated to be 40
per cent. better.  Experts from Montana who have recently visited this
section of the Canadian North-West, state that they never saw any grain
in the United States to equal that on and around the Bell Farm.’



I am writing from Calgary, a little but growing collection of huts and
wooden houses planted on a lovely plain with hills all around, a river at
my feet, on the banks of which some poplars flourish, and I can almost
fancy I am in Derbyshire itself.  It is a gay place, this rising town, at
the foot, as it were, of the Rockies, and just now is unusually gay, as
the Queen’s birthday is being celebrated with athletic sports and a ball;
and, besides, a new clergyman has made his appearance, the Rev. Parks
Smith, from a Bermondsey parish, who is to preach in the new Assembly
Hall, which is to be set apart as a church on Sundays.  I am going to
hear him, and already I feel somewhat of a Pharisee—I have on a clean
collar, which I religiously preserved for the occasion, and have had my
boots blackened.  The sight is so novel that I have spent half an hour on
the prairie contemplating the effect of that operation.  Already I feel
six inches higher.

I can’t say that I think quite so much of Calgary as do the people who
live in it.  In splendour, in wealth, in dignity, and importance, they
evidently anticipate it will be a second Babylon.  Well, a good deal has
to be done first.  The situation is pleasant, I admit.  You incline to
think well of Calgary after the dreary ride across the prairie, and you
have quite a choice of hotels, and of shops, all well stocked; but then
these shops are little better than huts, and the hotels certainly don’t
throw the shops into the shade.

For instance, I am in the leading hotel.  It is too far from the railway,
but that is because the C.P.R. have moved their station a little further
on, where the new town of Calgary is springing up.  We have an open room,
where I am writing—a dark dining-room on one side, and then, on the
other, a little row of closets, which they dignify by the name of
bedrooms.  I am the proud possessor of one.  It holds a bed, whereon, I
own, I slept soundly; a row of pegs, on which to hang one’s clothes; and
a little shelf, on which is placed a tiny wash-hand basin; while above
that is a glass, in which it is impossible to get a good view of
yourself—a matter of very small consequence, as the glass certainly
reflects very poorly the looker’s personal charms, whatever they may be.
I ought to have said there is a window; and as my bedroom is on the
ground floor (upper rooms are rare in these wooden houses in the
North-West), I am much exercised in my mind as to whether that window may
not be opened in the course of the night, and the roll of dollars I have
hidden under my pillow carried off.  Then, just as I am getting into bed,
I discover somebody else’s boots.  That is awkward—very.  It is with a
sigh of relief I discover that they are not feminine.  Suppose the owner
of those boots comes into my bedroom and claims to be the rightful owner?
Suppose he resorts to physical force?  Suppose, in such a case, I got the
worst of it?

Fortunately, before I can answer these questions satisfactorily to
myself, I am asleep, and yet they are not so irrelevant as you fancy.

Last night, for instance, as I was sitting in the cool air, smoking one
of the peculiarly bad cigars in which the brave men of Canada greatly
rejoice, and for which they pay as heavily as if they were of the finest
brands, a half-drunken man came up, abusing me in every possible way,
threatening to smash every bone in my body, and altogether behaving
himself in a way the reverse of polite.  Perhaps you say, Why did you not
knock him down?  In novels heroes always do, and come clear off; but I am
not writing fiction, and in real life I have always found discretion to
be the better part of valour.  The fact is, the fellow was a strapping
Hercules, and I could see in a moment, if the appeal were to force, what
the issue might be.  Yet I had not done anything intentionally to offend
him.  He had come galloping up to the hotel, as they all do here—the
horses are not trained to trot—and his horse had bucked him off.  I
believe I did say something to a friend of a mildly critical nature, but
I question whether the rider heard it.  The fact was, he was angry at
having been thrown, and seeing that I was a stranger, he evidently
thought he could pour the vials of his wrath on me.  I must admit that in
a little while he came up and apologized, and there was an end of the
matter.  But the worst part of it was that his friend remarked to me that
this drunken insulting ruffian was one of the best fellows in the place.
If so, Calgary has to be thankful for very small mercies indeed.

You ask, How could the fellow be drunk, seeing that there is a
prohibitory liquor-law in existence?  I have every reason to believe that
Calgary is a very drunken place, nevertheless.  I have already referred
to one case of drunkenness.  I may add that, in the afternoon of the same
day, I had seen another in the shape of an old gentleman who was going to
head a revolt which would cut off the North-West from the Dominion, and
which would make her a Crown colony.  He was very drunk as he stood on
the bar opposite me declaiming all this bunkum.  I remarked his state to
the landlord, who seemed to feel how unfair it was that men could get
drunk on the sly, and that a decent landlord, like himself, should be
deprived of the privilege of selling them decent liquor.  I own it is
very hard on the publicans.  At Moose Jaw one of them told me he would
give five hundred pounds for a liquor license.  ‘They call this a free
country,’ said an indignant English settler to me, ‘and yet I can’t get a
drop of good liquor.  Pretty freedom, ain’t it?’  Unfortunately, the
Government, while it prohibits the sale of liquor, does not exterminate
the desire for it—perhaps only increases it—as we always cry for what we
can’t get.  Unfortunately, also, it is true that, as long as this demand
exists, the supply will be found somehow.

In Montana there are a lot of blackguards and daredevils who will run the
thing in somehow.  Liquor is also brought in by the railway as coal-oil,
oatmeal, flour, varnish, and then it is doctored up and sold at £1 the
bottle to the thirsty souls.  Now, what is the consequence?  Why, that,
as a local journal remarks, liquor is sold; the dealers are pests and
outlaws; they sell their poison for ten times the price of what people
who don’t belong to the Blue Ribbon Army call good liquor, and then
vanish with their ill-gotten money out of the country, excepting such as
they may leave behind them in the shape of fines, when found out.  I do
think the hotel-keeper has much reason to complain of prohibition.  It
presses hardly on him, and does not put drunkenness down.  I mentioned
these facts to a Baptist minister from England, whom I met in Toronto.
He would not believe them; I gave him cuttings from newspapers to support
my view.  His reply was that they were hoaxes.  I have now been in
Calgary a day, and already I find that these hoaxes, as my friend calls
them, are veritable facts.

I believe that many of my travelling companions were a little fresh last
night, from their soberness and dejection of manner this morning.  They
were away down town, and had not returned when I retired to rest; and
this morning several of the householders complain of having had their
doors knocked at at most unseasonable hours.

At meals I meet queer company.  We have a Chinese cook.  I have a faint
idea that he has murderous designs on us all, his smile is so childlike
and bland; yet I prefer his placid pleasant round face to those of his
female helps, sour and ill-looking, who earn wages such as an English
servant-girl never dreams of.  His messes seem to be appreciated, and
little is left after meal-time.  It is enough for me to see the men eat.
Every particle of food is conveyed into the mouth by means of the knife,
which is also freely used if sugar or salt be required.  Our dining-room
is simply a shed, and a very dark one, having a canvas on one side and
unpainted deal on the other.  Few houses at Calgary are painted, though a
painted house looks so much prettier than a deal one that I wonder
painting is not more resorted to, especially when you remember how paint
preserves the wood.  Many of the houses here are brought all the way from
Ontario, and, perhaps, this accounts for their smallness.  They chiefly
consist of two rooms, one a shop, the other a sitting and night-room; and
the larger number have been erected within the last few months.  What we
call in England a gentleman’s house, I should say does not exist in the
whole district.  A gentleman would find existence intolerable here,
though the air is fine, and the extent of the prairie is unbounded.
There are two newspapers in the town, and the professions are all well

As to my companions, the less I say of them the better.  They are young
and vigorous, and use language not generally tolerated in polite society.
Their talk is chiefly of horses and bets.  They ride recklessly up and
down the dusty path which forms the main street, and would not break
their hearts if they knocked a fellow down; or they drive light waggons
on four wheels, creating the most overwhelming clouds of dust as they
rush by.  As to their saddles, they are as unlike English ones as can
well be imagined, rising at each end, so as to give the rider a very safe
seat, while their stirrups are as long almost as the foot itself; but the
saddles have this advantage, that they never give the horses sore backs.
As to the horses, they are all branded, and turned loose on to the
prairie when not required.  Most of the men are prospectors—people who go
round the country in search of mines; or cow-boys—that is, men employed
in the cattle ranches in the district.  The cowboy is a fearful sight.
His hands and face are as brown as leather, he wears a straw hat—or one
of felt—with a very wide brim.  His coat or jacket is, perhaps, decorated
with Indian work.  Around his waist he wears a belt, which he makes
useful in many ways.  Then he has brown leather leggings, ornamented down
the sides with leather fringes, and on his heels he puts a tremendous
pair of spurs.  The men on the mountains have much the same style of
dress, and are fine specimens of muscular, rather than intellectual or
moral, development.  On the whole, I am not unduly enamoured of these
pioneers of civilization; but, then, I was born in the old country, and
learned Dr. Watts’s hymns, and was taught to—

    ‘Thank the goodness and the grace
       That on my birth has smiled,
    And made me in these Christian days
       A happy English child.’

I see a good deal more of Calgary than I wish to.  I feel that I have
been made a fool of by the station-master.  I am, as you may be aware, at
the foot of the Rocky Mountains.  They are some 60 miles off, yet;
already I have seen their far-off peaks, glistening with snow, rising
into the summer sky.  As I have got so far, I must see them.  There are
trees up there, and the sight of a tree would be good for sore eyes;
there are cooling shades out there, and here, though it is but early
morning, it is too hot to stir.  The scenery out there is the finest to
be seen in all the Canadian continent, and I would carry away with me, to
think of in after years, something of their beauty.  I travelled all this
way for that purpose, and hoped to have been off before, and now find I
must wait, owing to a blunder on the part of the station-master.  He
promised he would let me know if he sent a freight-train to the Rocky
Mountains.  Well, he sent off a train at one o’clock this morning, and
never let me know anything about it, and the consequence is I must stay
two more days in this dreary spot, without conveniences such as I could
find in the meanest cottage in England, and at a cost which would enable
me to live in luxury and fare sumptuously at home.  One lesson I have
learned, which I repeat for the benefit of my readers.  Never depend upon
other people; hear all they say, and then act for yourself.  Had I done
so, I should have been now in the Rocky Mountains.  I trusted in others,
and I am, in consequence, the victim of misplaced confidence.

I gather a few items of interest to intending emigrants.  Crops raised in
the vicinity of Calgary during 1883 gave the following yields per
acre:—Wheat, 33 bushels; barley, 40 bushels; oats, 60 bushels.  The
Government farm a few miles off, which I have visited, does well.  The
country round offers especial advantages to sheep and dairy farmers,
cheese manufacturers, and hog raisers.  My own impression is, and I have
mentioned it to several persons who all think it excellent, that any man
would easily make his fortune who set up a poultry farm.  Eggs and fowls
are almost entirely unknown, and if the producer did not find a market
here, he could easily send his produce by the railway to where it was
wanted.  Eggs and fowls help one as well as anything to keep body and
soul together.

I am glad I went to church yesterday.  My presence there gave quite a
tone to the place (said the head man to me this morning), and so far I
may presume I did good service.  The congregation consisted chiefly of
men, and the collection amounted to nearly 16 dollars—pretty good,
considering (said the above mentioned gentleman) there are two or three
schism shops in the place.  In the evening I went to the Wesleyan
Methodist schism shop, as he called it, and heard a sermon, which touched
me more than any sermon I have heard a long time.  As I came out the
effect was startling.  The sun was sinking in crimson glory just behind
the green hills by which Calgary is surrounded.  Far off a dim splendour
of pink testified to the existence of a prairie fire, while before me
stood a gigantic Indian, with his big black head rising out of a pyramid
of gorgeous robes, really dazzling to behold.  There is an Indian Mission
near here, but the Indians are not the only heathens out here.

I have just had a ride in a buck-cart, which is the kind of vehicle the
colonists use.  It is of boards on four wheels, on which is placed a seat
for a couple of persons, while the luggage is piled up behind.  Some of
them have springs, as fortunately was the case with the one on which I
rode, or I should have had a very uncomfortable ride indeed.  Perhaps I
ought not to be so angry with the station-master as I was when I
interviewed him this morning.  I have just seen a man who got on to the
freight train, but he tells me it was so uncomfortable that he preferred
to wait, and got off after he had taken his passage.

Money seems scarce.  I have just been to the post-office to send a letter
to England.  The postmaster could give me no change, and I had to take
post-cards instead.  I suppose all the money goes to the smugglers.  In
this small town 500 dollars are sent weekly to Winnipeg for liquor; so
much for prohibition in Calgary.

As there is no bank here, people find it hard to get money.  A young man
waiting here to make up a mining party for the Rockies, tells me he had
to telegraph to Toronto for 500 dollars, which were sent in the shape of
a post-office order.  The postmaster charged him five dollars for cashing
the order.  I have just heard of a loan of 300 dollars effected; the
borrower has agreed to pay, in the shape of interest, the moderate sum of
four dollars a month.

Calgary, according to some, can have no enduring prosperity; if so, the
land-grabbers who have scattered themselves all over it will be deeply

Edmonton, where they get gold out of the river sand, and where they have
already a kind of dredging machine employed for that purpose, it is said,
will shortly have a railway to itself, and the men from the mountains,
who are the mainstay of Calgary, will go that way.

I fancy I hear some one exclaim: On those wide plains over which sweeps
the ice-laden air of the Rockies, what pleasant walks you must have!  My
dear sir, you are quite mistaken.  Perhaps, as you set out, there comes a
herd of wild horses—and then I remember how poor George Moore was knocked
down by one, and avoid the boundless prairie accordingly.

Then there are the dogs, ‘their name is Legion,’ and they are big, and as
wild as they are big, and I am not partial to hydrophobia.  No; it is
better to sit at the door of my tent and watch the flight of the horses,
the fights of the dogs, and the stream of dust a mile long which denotes
that some Jehu is at hand, who will pull up at the door, deeply drink
water, smoke a cigar, use a little strong language, and then mount again
and ride off into boundless space.

Here and there a pedestrian may be seen making his way to his solitary
hut or shop, where at no time do you see any sign of life; and how the
people here make a living (with the exception of the hotel-keepers, who
are always busy) puzzles me.  I meet good fellows, I own.  They are
friendly in their way.  As humour is a thing unknown in Canada and the
North-West, they generally grin when I make a remark, which I do at very
protracted intervals, fearing to be worn out before the long day is done.
Nevertheless, I begin to doubt whether I am not relapsing into the wild
life of those around me.  Fortunately, I have not yet acquired the habit
of speaking through my nose, nor do I make that fearful sound—a hawking
in the throat—which is a signal that your neighbour is preparing to
expectorate, and which renders travelling, even in a first-class car,
almost insupportable; but my hands are tanned.  I sit with my waistcoat
open, and occasionally in my shirt-sleeves.  I care little to make any
effort to be polite; I am clean forgetting all my manners, and feel that
in a little while I shall be as rough as a cow-boy, or as the wild wolf
of the prairie.  It is clear I must not tarry at Calgary too long.



I am writing from Holt City—so named after a famous contractor out
here—in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.  Here the rail comes, but no
further, as yet, though some 2,000 men are at work a few miles ahead, and
making incredible speed in the construction of this gigantic
intercolonial undertaking—an undertaking which would have been completed
by this time had the late Sir Hugh Allan (the founder of the Allan line
of steamers) and Sir John Macdonald had their way.

I left Calgary without shedding a tear—the train was only three hours
late—after remarking to the manager of the leading hotel that, much as I
had enjoyed myself under his humble but hospitable roof, I would give him
leave to charge me twenty dollars a day if ever he caught me within his
doors again.

When the train arrived, of course there was no room.  This is the working
season, and the C.P.R., as everyone calls it in Canada, is hurrying on
men to the front as fast as they can be got.

However, I was permitted to get inside the mail van, in company with a
contractor, his wife, and a baby, which behaved itself as well as could
be expected under the circumstances; a lady who was going to visit her
husband, one of the contractors on the line; and an invalid from
Pennsylvania, who did not seem much to enjoy that rough mode of
travelling.  We reached Holt City about eleven, when it was quite dark,
and the only bed I could find was a shelf in the van, on which I was glad
to lie down—but not, alas! to sleep.  Had I got out, I should have been
lost, or run over by an engine—that is positive, as there is no road,
only divers rails, as, for instance, the Continental Hotel at Newhaven.
I am now writing in the post-office, which seems the great social centre
of the place, though the mail only leaves twice a week.  It is a
decent-sized tent, with a desk and counter in the middle for the sale of
stamps and cigars and the delivery of letters.  Behind it are a couple of
beds on which men are reposing in a way that I envy, and covered with
buffalo skins—the possession of which I envy them still more.  In front
is a table, fitted up with old papers and a couple of uncommonly
uncomfortable benches, whereon are sitting various loafers, smoking and
talking, and warming themselves as best they can at the big stove—one of
which you now see in every Canadian house, and which but feebly keeps out
the raw cold of the morning.

    [Picture: Mount Stephen in the Rocky Mountains on the Line of the
                        Canadian Pacific Railway]

Holt City is admirably located, to use an American phrase which I
heartily detest.  It is a clearance in the forest, bordered by the Bow
River, which dashes foaming along.  There is a shed, which does duty for
a railway station; a collection of tents, in which the _employés_ of the
company dwell, or which hold the large stores it collects here; a large
shed for meals, a railway car, in which Mr. John Ross, the able
administrator of the C.P.R. in these parts, resides with his accomplished
wife; and further off are other tents, which do duty as hotels,
billiard-rooms, and shops.  Up here, I see little to remind me of the Old
Country, except bottles of Stephens’ inks, of Aldersgate Street, London,
which, says the head accountant, are the only inks on which they can

We are in a valley—a valley high up among the mountains—as fair as that
in which Rasselas studied to be a virtuous prince, but of a character
common in the length and breadth of the Rockies.  I have seen scores of
valleys as fair; and yet I own the exquisite loveliness of the spot—at
any rate, in summer time—is marvellous.  Around me rise Alps on Alps, up
into the cloudless blue.  Firs, all larch and pine, in all the freshness
of their new-found greenery, clothe their base; while the snow, in
wreaths like marble, glistens on their dark sides or crowns their rugged
peaks.  It would seem as if there could be no world beyond.  It is really
wonderful what pleasant nooks of this kind one sees everywhere.  I
stopped at one such last night, a station called Canmore, which, however,
seemed to be the fairest of them all—and so the fish think, as the
station-master tells me he often catches speckled trout seven or eight
pounds in weight.  Very near are valuable sulphur and other springs, and
when the railway shall be completed, I look forward to the time when
Pullman cars shall come here laden with health seekers from all parts of
the world, who are fond of fishing and fine air.

I had a narrow escape from not coming here at all.  When we stopped at
Canmore for our evening meal, I found I was utterly unable to climb back
into the mail van.  I may be young in heart, but, alas!  I have lost
somewhat of the agility of early youth.  I mentioned this to the
station-master and guard, who both promised me repeatedly that they would
have the train drawn up for me.  Knowing this, I listened unconcernedly
to the cry of ‘All on board!’  Judge, then, of my horror when I saw the
train gradually gliding past.

‘Jump into the last car,’ cried the guard, as he saw me looking daggers
at him.

Fortunately I succeeded in doing so: it is easier to get on to an
American car when in motion than on an English one, on account of its
peculiar construction.  This is fortunate, as the railway passenger in
Canada has to trust entirely to himself.  He is ignored by guards and
porters and station-master altogether.  Unfortunately, I jumped on to the
car sacred to the person of Sir John McNeil, and I was requested by the
black cook to move off, which I declined doing till we reached the next
station, when I moved into another car, and created not a little laughter
as I told my story.  It is to be trusted that Sir John enjoyed himself
all the more for having got rid of my vulgar presence.  I hope Sir John
may enlighten his friends on his return; but I fear he will gain little
knowledge of the people or the country, travelling in such a way.
Perhaps he will learn as much about it as the Marquis of Lorne, or the
Earl of Carnarvon, who recommends the poor people of the East-end to come
to Canada, where the chances are they will be worse off than they are at
home.  Canada requires hardy, muscular men—if with money in their pockets
so much the better—not the refuse of our towns.

Again, I repeat, people in England ought to have fuller information about
Canada ere they go thither.  It is a fortune for the strong man, but even
he has to run risks.  Everywhere I hear of what is called mountain fever,
or Red River fever, or fever with some other name which stands for
typhoid disease.  Grand and beautiful as is the country, fertile as is
the soil, people forget to observe sanitary laws at times and suffer in
consequence.  But I must own that all the men I met in Holt City were
pictures of health and strength.  For one thing, the company feeds them
well.  I have just breakfasted in camp with the men.  We had good coffee
and fried ham and other good things for breakfast, and good tins of
preserved fruits, to which everyone did justice.  Everyone here has to
rough it.  I washed this morning in the open air, having myself ladled
into a tin basin the water out of a cask in which still floated the
broken ice.

Holt City is, I suppose, the head-quarters of the C.P.R.  Yet it is a
place by itself.  Nothing can be rougher than the rail from here to
Calgary, or finer than the view.  It is an advantage that the trains are
so slow, as you have more time to enjoy the scenery, which has almost
shaken my attachment to the Hebrides, though one misses the purple
heather which lends such a charm to the grey hills of the North.  But
comparisons are odious, and the Rockies, in all their charms, must be
seen to be appreciated.  It was a wonderful view I had last night as I
sat on the steps of the last car, drinking in all the strange beauties of
the place.  We were climbing hour by hour a wilderness of mountains.  We
were hemmed in by them from afternoon till night came down upon the face
of the earth.  Mostly they were black, with snowy variations; some were
bare, others clothed with verdure.  Some raised their heads in the clear
blue sky as fortresses, others were peaks, others ragged and uneven,
shapeless masses of matter growing out of one another.  Some seemed to
like good company, others stood solitary and apart.

In the dells and shadows there are tales yet to be told.  For instance,
here are some remains of the ancient road to British Columbia.  Here, a
man tells me, last year there was a terrible tragedy.  An English
gentleman and his son were camping near the spot.  There came a forest
fire.  Awful to relate, when the son had time to look around him, his
father was burnt to death.  Fearful are some of the solitudes through
which the passenger plunges.  The bear and the eagle have them entirely
to themselves.  Few have explored them; fewer still have scaled the
mountain heights by which they are girdled.  But nowadays one is in
search of silver or gold or coal, and has no time to think of mountain
grandeur.  Cities rise and fall very quickly here.  Silver City, for
instance, where we stopped last night, was all the rage a year or two
ago.  It is now deserted.  Yet people say silver is still to be found
there, and at Calgary, as an illustration of the fact, a ‘prospector’
showed me a fine specimen of silver, at the same time asking me to come
and see the shaft.  I replied I was as fond of silver as he was, but I
sought it in another way.

But to return to the Rockies.  I wonder not that in times past the
Indians saw in them the home of the gods, or that there the scientist
discovers in them the source of the whirlwind or the storm.

I am again train-bound.  No one knows when we may have a train from the
east, and till we have one it is impossible for me to get away.
Physically, perhaps, this is a good thing for me, as it enables me to
recuperate.  Here I am, 5,000 or 6,000 feet above the level of the sea,
breathing mountain air, and luxuriating in mountain scenery.  Last night
I slept in a caboose, and it was the best night’s rest I have had for a
long time.  I went to bed at nine and was up again at five.  Do my
readers know what a caboose is?  It is a railway luggage-car on wheels.
Mine is rather a superior one, and has an upper and a lower chamber, and
has in the upper chamber a row of shelves, which do service as beds.  I
had one of these to myself, and, as I was well provided with blankets,
did not much grieve at the absence of linen sheets.

My dear old friend, Mrs. Moodie, wrote a capital book, called ‘Roughing
It in the Bush.’  Assuredly I may, one of these days, write one on
roughing it in the Rockies, though the keeper of the caboose, out of
respect for my age and infirmities, does all he can to make me
comfortable.  Already I feel the better for the air.  For the first time
since I have been in Canada I have felt hungry; for the first time, also,
since I have been in Canada I have not had to physic myself with
chlorodyne.  A month up here in the Rockies would make a young man of me
or of anyone else.  I must be off before I become as gay as a horse fed
on beans.  This is, I take it, the real and sufficient reason of the
peculiar spirits of the mountaineers, who rather alarmed me with their
liveliness at Calgary.  Their exuberance is due to air, and air alone.
As I sit, a long row of mules files past; a man is riding at the head,
the others follow with their burdens packed on their backs.  He is a
‘prospector,’ and is on his way to the other side.  Already as many as a
thousand such have gone the same road this summer.

The mountains are full of wealth—in the shape of gold or silver, or coal
or slate, or other precious commodities.  Hitherto the cost of conveyance
has kept people away.  The opening of the C.P.R. will remove that
inconvenience.  They will have a chance now of getting rid of their
minerals, when discovered, and of fetching up their stores from the East
at less expense.  As it is, things are dear enough in Holt City.  For
instance, if I send or receive a letter, I have to pay the postmaster a
few cents in addition to the usual postage-stamp.  Calgary I thought bad
enough, but up here prices may be quoted as much higher.  Yesterday I had
a ride over the mountains.  It will be long before I take such a ride
again.  No English coachman would drive such a road for five hundred a
year.  No English carriage could stand it, nor English horses either.  I
expected the buggy, as it was called, to be shattered into atoms every
minute—it looked so light and frail, and the horses—a handsome pair, the
property of Mr. Ross—to be ruined for life; yet we got safely to the
front—where the men are hard at work cutting down trees, removing earth,
tunnelling, and pushing on the work with all their might; and there, I
must say, there are openings for any number of men who like to come out.
Last year little was done in the winter, because the contractors believed
the climate would be against them.  No one before then had wintered in
the Rockies, and everyone believed the climate to be much worse than it
really is.

But to return to the ride.  I yet feel it in every bone in my body, as
all the time I had to hold on to my seat like grim death.  Sometimes the
coachman was high above me; sometimes I was at the top and he at the
bottom; now we were deep in the mud, the next moment high and dry on a
formidable boulder, bigger than a hogshead, and came down with a bang,
which sent me quivering all over.  Here we were with the water up to the
floor; and then we came on a mudbank quite as deep.  Not an inch of the
ground was level.  It was all collar work or the reverse.  Fortunately we
were shaded by the firs which climb all the mountains out here, or the
heat would have been unbearable.  As to conversation, that was quite out
of the question, though the ‘boy’ who drove me came when a child from
Devonshire, and had a strong wish to see the old country again, of whose
lanes, yellow with primroses, and cottages bright with roses and
honeysuckles, and farmhouses green with ivy, he had a very vivid
recollection.  He made a lot of money, he said.  Indeed, he had more than
he knew what to do with.  Last winter, for instance, he stopped a month
in Winnipeg, and spent there four hundred dollars.  ‘How did it all go?’
‘Oh! in treating the boys!’ was his answer.  I rather intimated that was
a poor way of using his money.  ‘Oh!’ said he, ‘they all do it.  That is
the way of the boys in this country!’  I was glad to hear him say that he
thought of taking a farm soon, and was putting by the money for that
purpose.  The Rocky Mountains cannot be a bad place for a ‘boy.’  One of
them yesterday told me how he had vainly written to his father to come
out, who was now in the old country breaking stones on the road.  Here,
at any rate, he would have been better off.  It is a long journey, I
know, for the British emigrant.  We are more than 1,000 miles from
Winnipeg, and the ride is a dreary one till you reach the Rockies.  The
run to Winnipeg from Toronto by Port Arthur and Owen Sound is a real
enjoyment.  It took us two days and two nights to reach Port Arthur from
Toronto, and the trip from Port Arthur to Winnipeg is accomplished easily
in twenty hours.

‘Any bears about here?’ said I to the ‘boy,’ in one of the few minutes
allowed for conversation in the course of our rough ride yesterday.

‘Not many.  I seed one near where we are passing.  He was a black bear,
and stood up and looked at me, and then I looked at him.  I wished I’d
had a gun, and then I would have shot him.’

Fortunately I saw no bear, black or brown, in the woods as we drove
amongst them; scarcely a bird—only one, an owl I think, on the top of a
tree, which never moved, though we were close upon it.  ‘Do you make any
difference in work on Sunday?’ I asked of one of the men.  ‘Oh no; Sunday
ain’t of much account here.’  This is to be regretted, if only for
physical considerations.  Everyone can work all the better for a day of
rest.  Again, I think the C.P.R. injures itself in this way, that it may
lose the services of useful men who like to keep the Sabbath, either from
physical or religious considerations.  As a matter of fact, I found many
did take a rest on Sunday, and it was amusing to see how the morning was
devoted to haircutting and shaving and mending clothes in the open air.
A man, I know, can spend his Sunday at honest work better than in
drinking.  But when we think of the wild life of the miners and navvies
in the ends of the earth—a life so wild that the C.P.R. has got a law
passed to forbid the sale of intoxicating drink, and people are appalled
when they read, in spite of the law, whisky is supplied to men who have a
large number of revolvers at their side—it seems that a little provision
might be made for the religious wants of the community.  The philosopher
will laugh, I admit.  My reply is: Men were lifted out of degradation by
the Christian religion in some form or other, and as we root that out we
may expect society to retrograde.  These men to the front will pay for
looking after.  They are fine fellows mostly.  At any rate, they are the
pioneers of modern civilization, and should be reverenced as such.  They
are to be honoured for their work’s sake.  They plant, we gather the
fruit.  They sow the seed, we reap the harvest, and their work remains a
monument of perseverance, of the benefits of the Union, of enterprise,
and capital and skill.  That Canada has thus carried the railway and the
telegraph across the Rockies shows that England and America will have to
look to their industrial laurels.

                                * * * * *

I am alive, I am thankful to say; but it seems to me that I should have
left my bones on the Kicking Horse Lake, which lies on the slope of the
Rockies, situated in British Columbia, where the scenery becomes grander
and the air balmier as it comes up laden with the soft breeze of the
Pacific.  You see that at once in the superior size of the trees which
clothe the sides of that part of the Rockies.

As far as what the navvies call the front, I had the benefit of the
temporary railway by which Mr. Ross sends his labourers.  It is then the
great difficulties of the work commence, as the rocks are tremendous, and
one of the tunnels making will be three-quarters of a mile long.

This hot weather I can scarce imagine how the men and horses stand the
work; of the former, some were digging, others cutting down the trees,
others removing rocks, others filling up the swamps.  Here the waggons
were being laden with stores to be sent further to the front; now and
then a long trail of mules sweeps by with miners and miners’ stores, and
I plunge into the forest, shaded from the fierce sun by the tall firs,
and as I struggle in the swamps caused by the melting snows, I can
realize something of the hardships of the early travellers—hardships of
which the tourist, when the rail is completed, will have no idea, though
he will be a little alarmed as the mountains drop away beneath his feet
for more than a hundred miles to the Columbia river, while the narrow
track of rails winds along its sides.  In the winter this pass, when
covered with snow, is very dangerous, and many are the mules and horses
dashed to pieces over the precipice.

The lake, when I reach it, is full of ice and snow, and all round the
mountains rear their snow-capped heads.  One of the peculiarities of this
region is the abundance of water in some shape or other, and the shadows
on the lakes reflect as a mirror all the surrounding scene—the dark
forest at the base, the masses of slate-like rock above, the snow in all
its radiant white higher up, the unclouded azure that crowns and
glorifies all.

Heated and tired, I throw myself on the moss, and realize, in all its
intensity, the appalling loneliness of forest life—I startle three wild
ducks, that is all.  Down on my left comes the rushing torrent in a
series of picturesque waterfalls into the lake.  I climb the mountain by
the side of them.  The water sends to me an ice-laden air, which revives
me as I struggle upwards and onwards, watching the whirlpools and
cascades as the water angrily struggles to force its way through the iron
barriers by which it is hemmed in.  I secure a fine specimen of petrified
moss from a stream close by.  But I may not linger.  Already I feel weak
as I plunge into the frozen snow, or sink where the sun has melted it
into morass, or stumble over an old moss-grown trunk, or climb the big
trunks which the axeman has already levelled, or pass the streams which
intersect the plain on logs off which I expect to slip every moment.
Then I come to the railway men, and avail myself of the imperfect and
unconnected track which they have formed; but now the sun beats fiercely
on me, and I can scarcely put one foot before another.  The spirit is
willing, but the flesh is weak.  Fortunately, I reach the tent of a good
Samaritan.  I refresh myself with water from the crystal stream.  I lunch
on bread and cheese, with tea kindly fetched from the company’s hut, but
I have to lie down three hours before I feel myself equal to urging on my
wild career again.

British Columbia seems at present to be chiefly occupied by miners.  No
other kind of emigrants are needed there.  The country is mountainous—a
regular sea of mountains; but, writes an occasional correspondent of _The
Toronto Mail_, ‘there are beautiful valleys, far surpassing anything you
have in Ontario, and the mountains and hills furnish pasture.
Considering the climate, the rich soil, and the high price paid for all
farming produce, I believe there cannot be a more desirable place for the
farmer.  I have no hesitation in saying that a farm of fifty acres is
worth more than a hundred in the East.  All you have to do is to sow your
land with good seed and you are sure of a bountiful return.  No weevil,
midge, wire-worm, potato bug, nor, in fact, any farmers’ pests, exist
here.  There are no scorching hot days and sultry nights; no heavy frost
or deep snow to impede work; consequently you are not driven like a slave
for six months and frozen in for the other six, but have steady work all
the year round.’

Other writers bear a similar testimony.  With all its advantages,
however, the country has one drawback—the scarcity and high price of
labour.  It seems well looked after by the Episcopalians, who have a
Bishop here and several clergymen, and, as I may suppose the other
denominations are equally in earnest and equally active, it is clear
settlers may enjoy the advantages of the forms of religious life with
which they are familiar, and under which they have been reared.

British Columbia, which entered the Canadian Confederation in 1871, is
the most westerly of the Canadian Provinces.  It has a coast-line on the
Pacific Ocean of about 600 miles, that is, in a straight line.  If its
almost innumerable indentations and bays were measured, the coast-line
would extend to several thousands of miles.

The area of the Province, according to the Census measurement, is 341,305
square miles.  Its position on the American continent is one of great
commercial importance, and its resources are in keeping with its
position.  If it were to be described from the characteristics of its
climate, its mineral wealth, and its natural commercial relations, it
might be said to be the Great Britain and California combined of the
Dominion of Canada.

The Province is divided into two parts: the Islands, of which Vancouver
is the principal, and the Mainland.  Vancouver is about 300 miles long,
with an average breadth of about sixty miles, containing an area of about
20,000 square miles.

British Columbia has numerous harbours and rivers, some of which are of
importance, and all are remarkable for their bountiful, in fact
wonderful, supplies of fish.  The scenery which it possesses is
magnificently beautiful.

The climate on the coast is more equable and much milder in winter than
in any other part of Canada; but as the mountains are ascended, greater
cold prevails, with more snow, and the characteristics of greater dryness
of atmosphere which mark the climate of the interior of the continent are

The population of British Columbia, by the Census of 1881, did not exceed
49,459, of which 25,661 were Indians.  This comparatively sparse
population is due to the hitherto isolated position of the Province; but
now that railway communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
through the Dominion of Canada is being rapidly pushed forward to
completion by a route which offers the easiest gradients and the most
important natural commercial advantages of any possible line across the
continent of America, the inducements the Province offers to settlers are
beginning to attract the attention, as well of the emigrating classes of
the Old World, as of the migrating classes of this continent; and
population is already beginning to flow rapidly in.  It is beyond doubt
that the percentage of increase which will be shown at the next decennial
Census will be a statistical fact to excite men’s wonder.  Its fisheries,
its forests, its mineral resources, will provide work for thousands who
are starving at home.  And it will be easily reached when the Canadian
Pacific Railway is completed.

                                * * * * *

I have now reached the end of my journey, and I sum up my emigration
experiences.  The emigrant, if strong and industrious, and ready to take
advantage of opportunities, and not averse to roughing it, will be sure
to find work; but he must be shy, if he has cash, of land schemers, and I
would advise him, if he thinks of settling, not to be in a hurry about
it, but to take time to look around.  I have seen as fine farming country
as anywhere in the world.  I have seen other parts where no one can get a
living.  Amongst the emigrants I see many who must succeed anywhere, and
many who will go to the wall wherever they may be.

Let me give you another illustration of the bursting of an emigration
scheme.  The London dailies often have advertisements offering for a
certain bonus to provide young men with homes where farming in all its
branches is taught.  The London (Ont.) papers tell how a number of young
fellows have been taken in in this way.  They paid the advertisers sums
from thirty pounds upwards, in addition to their passage money, the
consideration being that on their arrival in Ontario they were to be
placed on farms and kept there at the agent’s expense.  Of course, when
they reached their journey’s end, no farmers were to be found.  If a
young Englishman wishes to try farming in Canada, he cannot do better
than hire himself to a farmer for a year or two and keep his money in his
pocket for the purchase of a farm.

But even then he must not buy a farm till he knows something about it,
and he cannot be long out here before he will find out where the good
land is.  A Canadian whom I met at Calgary, told me that he knew a farm
near Toronto which was regularly in the market every year.  It is safe to
be bought by an Englishman, who tries it for a time, gives it up in
despair, and then it comes into the market again.

‘Are there any stones on the farm?’ asked an Englishman, after he had
purchased his farm.

‘I only saw one,’ was the encouraging reply: and it was a truthful one.
There was but one stone, but then it embraced the surface of the whole

The English purchaser must have his wits about him.  Here he is by many
regarded as a stranger, and they take him in.  The poet tells us where
ignorance is bliss ’tis folly to be wise.  Ignorance is not bliss in
Canada, emigrants really must have their wits about them or they will
suffer much.

Near Moosomin there is some fine country where many English have settled.
Only last week an Englishman selected a farm in that locality for a
homestead.  He at once proceeded there, having at considerable expense
hired a conveyance for his wife and four children.  When he got there he
found the land already occupied.  To add to his troubles, when he
returned to Moosomin one of his children died; the result is that the
wife has grown home-sick, the poor man disheartened; he wants to return
to England, but he has already exhausted his means.  This want of harmony
between the land office and the guides, according to _The Manitoba Free
Press_, is said to be of frequent occurrence.  The Dominion Government
ought to see to this.  They are eager to promote emigration, but many
such cases will make English farmers naturally a little reluctant to come



There is a great deal of snow in the Rockies.  In June that snow begins
to melt.  The result is, a violent body of water rushes down, which makes
the railway people very uncomfortable.

On Sunday I met the engine-driver of the train by which I was to travel
east next morning.  At Holt City it seems no one knows from what
particular spot the train will start.

‘You won’t start without me?’ I said.

‘No; I will look to see whether you are on board.’

‘But,’ said I, ‘you must leave at five, whether I am on board or not.’

‘Oh! as to that,’ he said, ‘no one can make me start before I am ready.
But,’ said he, ‘perhaps we may not get away at all.  I don’t like the
look of the bridge, and there is a deal of water about.’

I smiled incredulously.  Had not I seen, only an hour before, with my own
eyes, a special train arrive from the west filled with labourers and
freight?  If that could cross in safety, surely our lighter train could
do the same.

Thus reasoning, I lay down with a light heart in my caboose, having
invoked, not the saints, but every decent Christian I could find, to take
care that I might be aroused at four p.m., in order that I might have a
good wash before I started on my little run of 1,500 miles, as far as
Port Arthur.

Just as I was falling into the arms of Morpheus, to speak poetically—a
habit to which I was much given in my earlier days—a fellow-traveller
came rushing into the caboose, saying timidly:

‘You’d better get on board at once.  The bridge has given way, and they
may go across at once,’ and so saying, he left me in the dark.

However, I managed to jump out of my bed, collect my luggage, and
scramble down the plank, the only and somewhat perilous means of access
to my caboose, and stumble along the confusing lines of railway by which
Holt City is adorned, and climb up into a car, wondering much all the
while why we should start at all, when the bridge had partly given way,
or whether I had come all that distance merely to find a watery grave.
In the car I found a company as grotesque and rough as any I had yet seen
anywhere, discussing the situation with more or less earnestness.

The bridge, I heard, was being repaired; that was a comfort.  But still
no one knew when we should start.  Now and then we moved a few feet
forward, or a few feet backward; but, in reality, I believe we remained
in the same position all night, and started at the usual hour next
morning.  But the horror of that night was something inexpressible.
Sleep was quite out of the question.  You can’t sleep in an American
railway-car unless you are a navvy or a contractor—who can sleep
anywhere.  In England, even in a third-class carriage, the chances are
you can lie down at your full length and sleep.  In Canada you can’t do
that, as the seats are too short.  So there I sat, bolt upright, all
through that tedious night, watching for the light of day, while my
companions sat smoking and talking and expectorating.  In a playful
moment one of them suggested that they should all take off their boots.
Fortunately the proposition did not meet with universal approval, and I
was saved that horror.

In the Rockies life is not all beer and ’baccy.  One day there was an
alarm of fire.  It seems the woods are on fire all day long, and week
after week.  In this way much valuable timber is destroyed, and no one
knows who does the mischief, or how it will terminate.  Daily we saw the
smoke of a forest fire; one day the flames came so close to Holt City
that everyone was alarmed.  If a spark or two reached the place where the
explosives were stored, Holt City and all its inhabitants might have been
blown to atoms.  Down in the prairies fire does a vast amount of mischief
to the settler, who awakes in the night to find his tent or house reduced
to ashes, and all his worldly goods destroyed.  Such cases are of
frequent occurrence, especially at this season of the year, when the
settler sets fire to the prairie before ploughing, or to insure a better
crop of grass.  One dark night, in particular, I remember the prairie
fire lent quite a mournful grandeur to the scene.  Then there came a day
I shall never forget as long as I live.  A Canadian summer may have its
peculiar charms, but I candidly own, not being a salamander, it is far
too hot for me.  On that particular day the heat was intense.  It
affected everyone.  Those who dared drank gallons of iced water, others
pulled off their coats and collars and lay down on the cushions with
which the sleeping-car is plentifully provided, and went off to sleep.
It was in vain one tried to pass away the time in smoking—it was too hot
for that.  Newspapers and cheap novels were all neglected—conversation
was out of the question.  Everyone seemed on the point of giving up the
ghost.  Even the blackie, who invariably acts as conductor to the
sleeping-car—and who is about the only civil official (with the exception
of the steamboat attendants, who are models of good behaviour) one meets
in Canadian travel, seemed, thinly clad as he was, quite overcome.  The
sun took all the colour out of his cheeks, and he became quite
pale—almost white.

In the course of our return journey we stopped at Moose Jaw for supper,
and then I witnessed a new development of prairie life in the shape of a
thunder-storm, which seemed to me unusually vivid and protracted.  The
lightning was grand as it swept over the wide sea of grass, making
everything as bright as noon-day, and then all was dark again.  It
brought us a rain that had really healing in its wings.  While the heat
lasted I was a martyr to prickly heat.  It seemed to me that I was going
to have small-pox or measles.  I had little pimples all over me, and as
to my wrists, they were really painful, and I could not keep from
scratching with a vivacity which a Scotchman might have envied.  Was it
that vulgar disease to which, it is said, the gallant Scot is peculiarly
liable?  I could not say.  I had shaken hands with so many filthy
Indians, and it might be that, as I learn they are much afflicted in that
way.  Happily the thunder-storm cooled the air, and I felt all the better
for it.  When I got as far as Port Arthur, and inhaled the cool air of
Lake Superior, I suffered no more from unpleasant irritation of the skin.
It was with joy I embarked on the C.P.R.’s fine steamer, the _Alberta_,
for Owen Sound.  But even travelling on Lake Superior has its
disadvantages.  The water of the Lake is intensely cold, and when the sun
beats fiercely on it there is sure to be a fog.  Such happened to be the
case on my return, and we ploughed slowly along for a while, seeing
hardly anything of the beauty of the scene, while every few minutes we
were cheered by the dismal notes of the fog-horn.  Fortunately the fog
lifted, and then what a display we had of islands, green as emerald, on
the tranquil sea!  I must add, also, I had good company everywhere, with
the exception of the great Sir John M’Neill, who had his meals apart from
us at a table all to himself, and an English clergyman from
Staffordshire, whom a Canadian gentleman described to me as ‘a regular
crank,’ whatever that may mean.  The parson is going to write a book, so
he tells the people; but he shuns me, which is a pity, as I met a friend
at Calgary who told me they had great fun with the parson on their way up
from Winnipeg, telling him all sorts of cock-and-bull stories, which he
greedily entered in his note-book.

I must give you one more sketch of a Canadian town as an illustration of
the enterprise and pluck which are the main characteristics of the
Canadian of to-day.  If you look at the map, you will see Port Arthur is
situated in Thunder Bay, and Thunder Bay, when you pass the rocky barrier
by which it is encircled, opens out into Lake Superior.

Thunder Bay is a sheet of water some 13 by 19 miles in area, sheltered
from the wild storms which sweep over the northern lakes by the Pie and
Welcome Islands and the Thunder Cape on one side, and by the terraced
bluffs of ever-green forest on the other; forming thus an unsurpassed
harbour for extent and accommodation, and having claim to be what its
admirers say it is, the prettiest of all the American Lakes.

It is not an agricultural district that surrounds Port Arthur, though it
is a fact that there are vast stretches of rich lands within its borders,
including the Kamanistique and other valleys, on which at least 3,000
families could settle and get a good living by agriculture.

The timber resources of the surrounding country, which must find its
centre and point of collection in the quiet waters of the bay, comprise
thousands of square miles of spruce and other trees; while iron, copper,
zinc, and silver are to be found in the neighbouring rocks.  Gold also is
said to be hidden in the bowels of the earth; though not yet discovered
in paying quantities.  However this may be, one thing is clear, that from
Thunder Bay the whole agricultural exports of the countless fertile acres
of the Canadian North-West must find an outlet.  Truly did the Marquis of
Lorne, when here, describe it as ‘The Silver Gate.’

Port Arthur—as it was termed when Sir Garnet Wolseley arrived here on his
way to suppress the Riel revolt in the North-West, out of compliment to
the Duke of Connaught—is in reality one of the few places in Canada that
have a history.  As early as the beginning of the sixteenth century, some
of the French settlers had formed an idea that the great Lake Superior
was a highway to the vast fur-producing countries of the North-West,
although not till 1641 did any white man venture upon its waters.  In
1678 a Frenchman built himself a house in the vicinity of Port Arthur,
and commenced trading with the surrounding Indians for their furs.

In 1857 the attention of the Canadian Government was called to the spot,
and they sent out commissioners to explore, who, in 1859, published a
report which created quite a sensation all over Canada.  In due time the
C.P.R., which is the great mainspring of all the North-West, took up Port
Arthur, had all their stores and men carted there, and now Port Arthur
has a grand future before it, of which it is impossible to predict the
whole extent.  I have great faith in Port Arthur.  It must in time be
another Montreal or Toronto.  Moose Jaw is going down.  It will be long
before Calgary will be much of a place.  The Silver City is half
deserted; and at Winnipeg the boom has burst and bankruptcy prevails; but
Port Arthur is bound to go ahead.

I spent there a night on my return, and saw a marvellous change—even
since my visit there a fortnight previously.  Then people were hard at
work putting up wooden shops; now those shops are fitted up with glass
fronts, and already filled with merchandise from all quarters of the
earth, though in many cases the upper parts of the building are in an
incomplete state.  Every day ships arrive from the American side; thus,
within a couple of days previous to my arrival, 20,000 tons of coal had
been landed.  There are steamers of all sorts and sizes in the harbour,
constantly coming in or going out.  On one side a new elevator has been
erected, on the other side is a great store of lumber and a saw-mill.

Yesterday Port Arthur was a township, now it is incorporated as a city,
and rejoices in a mayor.  The place is full of hotels, which charge high
prices, give very little for the money, and do a roaring trade.  A very
handsome English church is being erected; just by, the Presbyterians are
building one equally handsome, only a little smaller.  The Roman
Catholics make quite a grand show with their brick church and convent and
schools, while the Methodists have a very plain and ugly imitation of an
English church, with its steeple all in wood and painted white, which
attests, at any rate, if not their taste, their influence and wealth.  I
visited the school-room, which was filled with bright and well-fed boys
and girls, where the children are taught free, as they are all over
Canada—where they have, by-the-bye, a compulsory law, which is never
enforced, as it is impossible to do so.  And then I made my way to the
best-looking building in the town—the emigrants’ shed—where already 3,600
emigrants have this season been lodged gratis by the Dominion Government
previous to their passing onwards to the North-West.

People tell me there is no room for mechanics in Canada.  In Port Arthur
I see them in constant demand.  At one shop window I see a notice to the
effect that 10 carpenters are required, at another a demand for painters,
while a third shop window seeks to secure good tinsmiths.  At the chief
draper’s shop there is a notice stating four good assistants are
required.  What a pity the discontented men whom I left at Montreal,
because work was not offered them immediately they landed, did not come
thus far!  As to rockmen and labourers, they are wanted by the hundred.
Surely, Port Arthur must be a good place for the working man and the
working girl.  Even at Calgary they were paying the female helps at the
hotel—as sour a set as I ever saw—and who were constantly quarrelling
with John Smith, the Chinaman cook—as much as 40 dollars a month.  But
even out here a man must have brains.

‘I came out here seven years ago,’ said a gentleman to me as we sat on
one of the rocks which line Port Arthur, ‘and could find nothing to do.
I was brought up in a foundry, and had saved 1,100 dollars.  I went all
round; no one could give me a job.  Then I began buying a few hides; this
brought me into contact with a great fur merchant at Chicago—he employed
me as his agent at 80 dollars a month.  Then I gave that up and turned
miller, and the year before last I traded to the extent of a quarter of a
million dollars.  Last year I was too eager, and lost a lot of money; but
this year I hope to get it all back again.’

Why cannot an English emigrant be equally successful?  Is it because we
do not send out the right sort of men?

‘There is not one man in a hundred that comes out here from London who is
of any use,’ said an old Toronto trader—himself an Englishman—to me.  ‘I
never call myself an Englishman,’ said he.  ‘When I go to London I always
say I am a Canadian.  I am ashamed of the name of Englishman.  What would
Sir Garnet Wolseley have done when he was here had it not have been for
the Canadian Volunteers?’

I am glad to hear, however, that he had nothing but praise for the Scotch
settlers Lady Cathcart was sending out.  She advances them money, and
they pay her back a good rate of interest.  Why cannot other people do
the same?  Another question, also, may be asked: Why cannot certain
Canadian land companies, who really offer purchasers a fair bargain, put
up a few houses on their separate farms?  The settler has to build his
house under every disadvantage.  I am sure they could build the houses by
contract at half the expense; and they could have a mortgage on the farm,
which would ensure them in every case against loss, and which might add
materially to their profits as well.

If the crops this year turn out well in the North-West, and, according to
present prospects, there is every reason to suppose they will, the
farmers will pour into the country in a way which they have never done
before, and the prosperity of the North-West will be placed on a solid
basis.  Be that as it may, there are bright days in store for Port

On the green forest, rising up above the town and overlooking Thunder
Bay, it is intended to build a first-class summer hotel for the comfort
of holiday makers and health seekers.  There the visitor will enjoy fine
cool air in the sultry heat of summer, while bathing in the lake will
invigorate his enfeebled frame.  The waters abound with fish.  Islands
and lakes and rivers tempt the yachtsman.  If the workmen who squander
their hard-earned wages in reckless drunkenness would but learn to be
sober, few places on the Canadian lakes would be more enjoyable than Port

                  [Picture: Thunder Bay, Lake Superior]

I cannot leave Canada without speaking of its Grand Trunk Railway, which
meets the emigrant at Port Levi when he lands at Quebec, and which he
will undoubtedly often patronise if he tarries long in the land.  It has
built the Victoria Bridge at Montreal, one of the wonders of Canada—a
tubular structure of magnificent proportions, which spans the St.
Lawrence, and gives uninterrupted communication to the western traffic
with that of the United States.  Including the abutments, the bridge is
9,084 feet in length.  The tubes rest on twenty-four piers, the main
tubes being sixty feet above the level of the river.  It may well be
called the Grand Trunk Railway, as it operates under one management over
six thousand miles of first-class railway road.  Having close connection
at Port Huron, Detroit and Chicago with the principal Western American
lines, it offers great advantages to emigrants to all parts of the
compass.  At Montreal I had the pleasure of a long chat with Mr. Joseph
Hickson, the general manager, who takes a deep interest in the subject of
emigration, and Mr. W. Wainwright, the assistant-manager, to whom I am
indebted and grateful for many acts of kindness, especially welcome to
the stranger in a strange land.  It is the Grand Trunk that takes the
traveller over Niagara Falls—on the International Suspension Bridge
connecting the Canadian Railways with those of the States.  This
structure, which is 250 feet above the water, commands a fine view up to
the Falls.  It is to be feared that as long as Canada and the United
States have separate tariffs there will be not a little smuggling along
this bridge.  When I was there I heard of a Canadian judge, who with his
family had been stopping at one or other of the hotels on the Canadian
side.  One fine morning some of the ladies of the party walked off to the
American side, and returned laden with bargains which had paid no duty.
In their innocence they boasted of the little transaction to the judge.
‘How can I,’ said he indignantly, ‘punish people for smuggling, if I find
my own family do it?’ and the ladies had to pay the duty, so the story
goes, after all.



My time was up, and I had to be off, after we got a look at pleasant
London in the wood, as my Canadian friends who have been to England call
it.  I came back from Chicago to New York, and had again to encounter the
horrors of nights in a Pullman sleeping-car.  Why cannot the railway
authorities separate the part of the car devoted to the gentlemen from
that part inhabited by the ladies?  The way in which the sexes are mixed
up at night is, to say the least, unpleasant.  I shall never forget my
last experience in a Pullman sleeping-car.  An ancient dame with blue
spectacles, my _vis-à-vis_, as the shades of evening came on, gave me the
horrors.  In my despair I began undressing, thinking that the outraged
female would rush away in disgust.  Alas! she had stronger nerves than I
calculated, and there she sat gazing serenely with her tinted orbs till I
plunged myself behind my curtained berth, to encounter, early in the
morning, once more those eyes.

New York and Boston are full of fairy forms.  Why don’t they travel?  The
change would be pleasant for sore eyes like mine.

No wonder I sat all that night thinking of the great kindness I had
received in Canada, and regretting especially that I had refused an
invitation to dine that evening at the home of one of the leading
barristers of Toronto, to meet some clergymen there who were familiar
with my name, and who wished to meet me.

Surely I did wrong to leave Toronto, with all its friendly faces and
kindly hearts.  It will be long ere I cease to remember how the Canadians
made me at home, as I met them on the rail, or on the boat, or in the

Said a London Evangelist to me: ‘You will find the Canadians a cold
people, who will show you no hospitality.  While I was there not one of
them invited me to have a cup of tea.’

All I can say is, I found the Canadians quite the reverse.  But then my
friend went on a mission, and is a man of very serious views, while I
travelled merely to see a land of whose wonders I had heard much, to talk
to sinners as well as saints, and to learn from them what I could.

I was a great reformer once myself, and had glorious visions which never
came to pass.  In youth we have all such dreams.  Now, as the days darken
round me and the years, I seek to put up with the shortcomings of my
brother-man, trusting that he in his Christian charity may extend a
similar forbearance to my own.

I came back in the _Assyrian Monarch_.  I was glad I did so.  That fine
ship has a distinguished record.  It has carried no end of theatricals to
New York; it did the same kind office for Jumbo: it carried troops and
horses to Egypt; and when we English undertook to punish Arabi, it was a
home for the refugees for a while.

Perhaps we have no ship more noticeable than the _Assyrian Monarch_,
belonging to the Monarch Line, which runs weekly, I fancy, between New
York and London.

It is a great treat in the fine weather to take that route.  You are a
little longer at sea—you glide along the south coast till you reach the
Scilly Isles, and the ships of the company are all that can be desired.

It is a great deal of trouble and expense to some to go with all their
goods and chattels to Liverpool, then unpack them, and get them down to
the landing-stage, and then repack them in one or other of the far-famed
steamers of that busy spot, and all this you save if you patronize the
ships of the Monarch Line, which carry chiefly cargo, with a few saloon
passengers as well.

We had a very heavy cargo on board the _Assyrian Monarch_ as we came back
from New York.  We carried 260 bullocks, besides cheese and grain, to
make glad the heart and fill the stomach, and thus one felt that if the
screw were to fail or the fog to hinder a rapid transit, there was corn
in Egypt, and that there was something to fall back on.  Happily, we were
not driven to that alternative.  We fared well in the saloon of the
_Assyrian Monarch_; so well, indeed, that a poor elderly lady, who seemed
at death’s door when we started, became quite vigorous, comparatively
speaking, by the time we ended our voyage.

We had more freedom in the way of sitting up late and having lights than
is possible in a crowded passenger ship, and we came more into contact
with the captain of the ship and his merry men.

In the case of the _Assyrian Monarch_ this was a great advantage, as
Captain Harrison is a good companion as well as an able navigator, and I
felt myself safe in his hands, that is, as far as anyone can be safe at

Further, I felt that the chances were in my favour.  The _Assyrian
Monarch_ had carried over the Atlantic, in stormy weather, the
highly-respected and ever-to-be-regretted by Londoners Jumbo; surely it
could be trusted to perform the same kind office for myself in the summer
season, when the air is still and the seas are calm; and so it did,
though every now and then we encountered that greatest of all dangers at
sea, fog, more or less dense, especially on the Banks of Newfoundland,
where the ice-laden waters of the Arctic come in contact with the warmer
waves of the Gulf Stream.  As our course was very fortunately much to the
south, we had a good deal of the latter.

That Gulf Stream was a revelation to me.  When I took my morning bath it
seemed as if I were in warm water, and the new forms of life it fostered
and developed were particularly pleasant to a casual observer like
myself.  There one could see the nautilus, or the Portugeuse man-of-war,
as it is familiarly termed, in the language of the poet,

    ‘Put out a tier of oars on either side,
    Spread to the wafting breeze a twofold sail,’

and cruel, big-headed sharks, which, indeed, followed us almost all the
way to England (the fact is that now, when so many cattle are thrown
overboard, the Atlantic abounds with sharks), and lovely flying-fish like
streaks of silver flashing along the deep and boundless blue ocean.  Of
these latter one flew on board.  It met with a cruel fate.  It was eaten
by the first officer of the _Assyrian Monarch_ for breakfast.  It ought
to have choked him.  It did nothing of the kind; he, hardened sinner that
he was, enjoyed it greatly, and said that it was as good as a whiting.

In the Gulf Stream we found the usual number of whales and porpoises.
The latter would play around the bow or race along the side of the ship
in considerable quantities of all sorts of sizes.  There were other fish
of which I know not the names to be seen occasionally leaping out of the
water as high and repeatedly as possible, as if a shark were in their
midst seeking whom he might devour.

One sight I shall never forget in the Gulf Stream.  It was that of a
tortoise.  I was leaning over the ship’s side, when something big and
round seemed to be coming to the surface.  I could not make out what it
was; then all at once the truth flashed upon me as he wobbled along,
paddling with his fins, his head erect, his little eyes peering at the
ship as if he wondered what the dickens it was, and what business it had
there.  He seemed to be treading the water.

    ‘I saw him but a moment,
    But methinks I see him now.’

The sight gave me quite an appetite, though my friend Sir Henry Thompson
will insist upon it that turtle soup is made of conger-eel, but in the
wide Atlantic one has time to think of such things; day by day passes and
you see nothing but the ocean—not even a distant sail, or the smoke of a
passing steamer.

People complain of the uneventfulness of life on board a ship.  That,
however, is a matter of great thankfulness.  A collision or a shipwreck
are exciting, but they are disagreeable, nevertheless.  It seems the
homeward voyage is always the pleasantest as far as the sea is concerned,
the wind being more frequently in the west than in any other quarter.
Perhaps that is one reason why the Americans are so ready to cross the
Atlantic.  When I left New York, Cook’s office, in the Broadway, was full
of tourists, including Mrs. Langtry and other distinguished personages.
Mr. John Cook seems as popular in New York as he is elsewhere.  Indeed, I
was confidentially informed that he was engaged in organizing a
personally-conducted tour for the relief of Gordon and the capture of the
Mahdi, and I hear from Egypt that he has a chance of being made Khedive,
a position which I am certain he would fill with credit to himself and
advantage to the people.  Of course, there is a little exaggeration in
this, but the American tourist has good reason to revere the name of
Cook, and so have we all.  As much as anyone he has promoted travel
between the Old World and the New, and has made us better friends.  It is
to be hoped that every steamer that crosses the Atlantic does something

I must own, however, that the nearer I approached England the more I felt
ashamed of my native land.  The weather was villainous.  It rained every
day, and the worst of it was, I had had the audacity to assure the
Americans on board that we had dry weather in England, that occasionally
we saw the sun, and that we were not a web-footed race.  Fortunately, at
the time of writing this I have not yet encountered any of my American
friends, or I should feel, as they say, uncommonly mean.  However, the
weather was fine enough to admit of a good look at Bishop’s Rock, the
name of the lighthouse at the Scilly Isles, where we got our first sight
of land; you can imagine how we all rushed on deck to see that.  In fine
weather, I say, by all means return from America in one of the fine,
steady, well-built ships of the Monarch Line.  The scenery is far finer
than that offered by Queenstown and Liverpool.  You have the Scilly Isles
to look at, and the Land’s End, and the Lizards.  At Portland Bill we
laid off till a pilot came on board, and we had a good look at the
establishment where so many smart men are sent for a season, and Weymouth
heading the distant bay; and then what a fine sweep you have up the
Channel—crowded with craft of all kinds, from the eight thousand ton
steamer to the frail and awkward fishing lugger—and round the Nore;
whilst old towns and castles, speaking not alone of the living present,
but of the dead and buried past, are to be seen.  Even Americans, fond as
they are of modern life, feel the charm of that; whilst to the returning
traveller the landscape speaks of ‘home, sweet home.’



I was glad to see, the other day, Mr. Morley’s letter advocating the
propriety of taking up land and settling on it some of the too numerous
class who drift into our great cities, finding no work to do in the
country, there to lead indifferent lives and come to an untimely end.

It is a step I have repeatedly advocated.  Land is cheap enough now;
there is no occasion to wait for an Act of Parliament.  It is as easy to
buy an estate, and to split it up into small portions, of which each
shareholder will become in time the proprietor, as to form a building
society, and thus enable any man to become his own landlord.  But there
are certain drawbacks.  There is the parson to be dealt with, who will be
sure to claim his higher tithes; there are burdens on property, of which
the working man, who is told by Mr. Chamberlain that he is more heavily
taxed than any other class of the community (is not the reverse of this
the case?), has no idea; and last, and not least, there is the unfitness
for peasant proprietorship of the average English workman, who has no
idea of living on the scant fare of the peasant proprietor of Belgium or
France, or, I fear, of working as hard.  Granting, however, that he does,
the great fact remains, that peasant proprietorship is no remedy for all
the ills of life, and that France has its surplus population quite as
badly off, and a great deal more difficult to deal with than our own.

What is to be done to relieve the distress, the existence of which all
must own and deplore?  I answer, Emigrate.

Emigration is the natural means of relieving the poverty of a nation.
Every man is an emigrant.  No one lives and dies in the village in which
he was born.  He finds his way to the neighbouring town in search of
work; then to the great metropolis; then across the water to one or other
of our colonies.

Greece and Rome realized the fact that under no conditions could a
certain tract of territory maintain more than a certain number of people,
and had their settled plans of emigration.  In England, at any rate since
the days of the Pilgrim Fathers, we have too much left the matter to
chance, and an ordinary emigrant, with the ordinary want of backbone, it
seems to me, is just as likely to go to the dogs in New York, or Toronto,
or Melbourne, as in London.  What we want is what is now being attempted
by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, the leading members of
which have established a Church Colonization Land Society.  Its object is
to assist, in a practicable, businesslike manner, on a remunerative
basis, the great and pressing work of emigration to the British colonies
in connection with the Church of England.

This society, I learn from a proof of a circular just placed in my hands,
issued by Canon Prothero, the chairman, will, under proper safeguards,
render temporary pecuniary aid in such cases as approve themselves to the
council, take charge of the emigrants on the journey to the colony,
provide for their settlement on lands selected, from those acquired by
the society, provide temporary dwellings until the emigrants can put
together their own (the materials for which may be bought ready to hand,
or the society itself can erect dwellings for them), will break up the
land if desired, and secure for the emigrant religious services similar
to those enjoyed at home.

The society have secured land in Manitoba, near the railway, which land
has been selected by a practical farmer, a Yorkshireman, who is to act as
local manager.  The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge have laid
particular stress in looking after the spiritual welfare of emigrants in
all our colonies; and in Liverpool, as some of my readers may be aware,
the society have placed the Rev. J. Bridger, of St. Nicholas Church, as
emigrants’ chaplain; chaplains have also been appointed at several other
ports, such as Plymouth, Glasgow, Cork, and Londonderry; but, as is
manifest, the great centre of emigration is Liverpool, and there Mr.
Bridger finds his hands full.

No pains are spared to show every attention to emigrants going from or
arriving at Liverpool, and occasionally Mr. Bridger sails with the first
party of emigrants to their new homes.  It seems to me that the idea of
the Church Colonization Society is the right one; but that it might be
further extended by sending out at the same time the schoolmaster, and
the doctor, and the storekeeper, and the shoemaker, and tailor, and
baker, and butcher, and thus forming a village community.

It is at home impossible to realize the solitariness of the settler’s
life, far away from friends and the civilizing and elevating influences
of home.  I met men in the North-West who seemed to have almost lost the
power of speech, so long had they been left on their homesteads alone.
Emigration in communities would do away with this state of things.  At
present it is a serious sacrifice for a man with a family to emigrate
into a new country.  It is not good for man to be alone.  As a rule, he
degenerates on the prairie; civilization is the gift of towns to
humanity.  A man does not live on bread alone.  He needs that his heart
and head be stimulated by contact with his fellow-men; not, as in the old
country, in consequence of the extensive competition, by rivalry for the
crust of bread, but by mutual aid and companionship in the great work of
subduing the wilderness and making it to rejoice and blossom as the rose.

In a month or two the emigration season will have commenced, and there is
no time to spare.  Why cannot other denominations do what the Church of
England is now preparing to do?  Canada can feed and fatten millions, who
in England will have to live as a burden on the community.  There is many
a man who does ill here who would do well there.  We are all more or less
the creatures of circumstances.  In England the beershop has degraded the
community, and many a man finds it hard to get away from its foul
companionship: here, he declines into a criminal or a sot; there, not
only will he be neither the one nor the other, but he will develop all
the better tendencies of his character, and become a man.  Make him a
peasant-proprietor at home, and the chances are the old Adam in him will
be too strong.  Plant him in a colony, he feels in a new world, with a
new aim.  Here, he is looked down on: there, he is hailed as a man and a
brother.  We who are old must stop at home; but there is no reason why
our sons should do so.  Why should a young man be a drudge because his
father was a mere hewer of wood and drawer of water, when in a colony
there are many ways of becoming well-off to a man who has good muscles
and brains, has the sense to avail himself of opportunity when it occurs,
and to keep his money in his pocket?  I say Canada, because Canada is
easy to get at, and is yet almost in a virgin state.  It is only recently
that it has been opened up by the Canadian Government and the Canadian
Pacific Railway.  I say Canada, because Canada is English, and I am an
Englishman; because the Canadian Government does all it can to help the
emigrant; and because the Canadians are mostly healthy, honest men.
Englishmen thrive there better, at any rate, than they do in the United
States, or in South Africa.  Arrangements for a colony can easily be
made.  In London, the Canadian Pacific Railway have a fine office in
Cannon Street, where you can see for yourself what are the results of
farming in the North-West, and where you will find its courteous and
intelligent representative, Mr. Alexander Begg, whose only fault is that
he will persist in maintaining that the English climate is killing him,
and that he enjoys much better health in that frosty Canada, the cold of
which is a bugbear that has kept too many away.  Go to him, and he will
tell you where to plant your colony.  The money which is now squandered
in keeping paupers at home surely might be better spent in forming
village communities in the boundless plains of the North-West.  Let
Dissenters imitate the Church.  Let them have their communities as the
Church of England seek to have theirs.  Some people say the Salvationists
are a nuisance in our crowded cities: let General Booth betake himself to
Manitoba; he will find few people to complain of his processions there.

But this is no subject to trifle about; day by day the poor are becoming
poorer, and the middle-classes and the rich also.  The leaders of the
coming democracy seem unwilling to recognise that fact, and are angry
when I tell them it is better to emigrate than to agitate in the old
country for the ruin of the capitalist, the destruction of our trade, the
abolition of the landlord, the advent of the working man’s candidate, and
the rights of man.  Are they the friends of the poor who bid him stay
where he is to cheapen the labour market, already overstocked; to crowd
the cities with an unwholesome pauperism; to see his sons ripen into
thieves, and his daughters cast on the streets; and to look forward to
the workhouse as the refuge of his old age?  Even if we had a revolution
as complete as that of France, what then?  Over-population will breed
sorrow and sickness and want and despair all the same.  In Canada, the
man who cares to work is sure of his reward; he has a future before him
and his.

I am glad to find, since the above was written, there has been formed by
the Congregational Union a special emigration scheme, of which the Rev.
Andrew Mearns, of the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, is Secretary, and
that they have already sent out over a hundred qualified emigrants.  The
outfit and passage money of each man costs £7, and it is proposed to give
each £2 when he arrives in Canada.  The men to be selected are drawn from
the ranks of the unemployed who are brought together at the various
Mission Halls.  The case of each applicant is fully examined, and the men
themselves are thoroughly tested as to their honest desire and ability to
work.  The men having been approved and their record found satisfactory,
they are sent to the emigration agent of the colony, who also examines
into the cases of the various applicants.  This acceptance having been
notified, the next and, perhaps, the greatest difficulty is to provide a
temporary home for them in the colony to which they are to be sent.  As
the result of much labour, each man will be sent to the care of some
gentleman in the colony, who will see that he is properly provided for,
and started in a fair way to obtain work.  They are thus going to various
towns in the Dominion, such as Kingston, Ontario, Ottawa, Hamilton,
London, Toronto, St. Thomas’s, Bellville, and Guelph.  Among those to
whom introduction has been given are directors of railways, officers of
Christian Associations, gardeners, farmers, merchants, and various
ministers of influence.  It is almost unnecessary to add that the
spiritual needs of the men have not been forgotten, and in the kit of
each one have been packed a Bible, supplied by the kindness of the Bible
Society—who have intimated their willingness to make a similar
presentation to every man the Union sends out—and an assortment of
suitable and practical religious literature.

Thus far have I told the story of my Canadian experiences.  Those who
wish to fully pursue the subject will do well to get ‘Picturesque
Canada,’ now being published by Messrs. Cassell and Co.

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END.

                                * * * * *


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pictures of Canadian Life - A Record of Actual Experiences" ***

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