By Hew Cromartie, Milton
WHILE much has been heard, and justly so, of the illimitable resources of the great prairies of the West; and while the stream of settlement has been rapidly flowing thitherward, it may be well to remind the reader that the older Provinces of Canada, particularly Ontario, offer many inducements to the settler who finds the more contracted areas of Europe too narrow for his enterprise.
Of recent years the attention of the world has been, turned to New Ontario from various reasons. The discoveries of rich mineral deposits varying from iron, copper, silver, nickel to mica, corundum and graphite, would have of themselves attracted capitalists to whom new opportunities are most welcome.
But it would be quite a mistake to suppose that the extensive territory known as New Ontario, offers little but its timber, mineral and water power inducements to the settler. Within its bounds, comprising the district of Rainy River, the district of Thunder Bay, the district of Algoma, and the district of Nipissing, are lands heavily timbered with spruce, poplar, jack pine, tamarac, birch, etc., well distributed throughout these places.
There are also many belts of fertile agricultural land, much of which has been up to the present unexplored.
A few words concerning this rich heritage, the possession of the people of Ontario, may serve a good purpose, for no patriotic Ontarian can view with indifference the exodus so persistently and extensively taking place from the Province to the prairie lands of the West. Why should the young farmers of Ontario forsake their native Province and seek fortune so far afield when their own lands contain an inexhaustible wealth of forest, mine and farm?
New Ontario affords to the young farmer water power for manufacturing purposes unequalled by anything known in the wide world. It offers exhaustless mines of precious metals and valuable ores; it offers millions upon millions of valuable timber; it offers millions of acres of priceless land for the plough. This heritage of wealth ought, by every law of nature and man, to belong to the people now in possession of the Province. It is theirs by right, and it is an asset to their credit which they ought to realize upon as much as possible during their lifetime. Their remote successors will take care of themselves, and make the most of the conditions which descend to them. It is the obvious duty of the farmer and business man of to-day to reap the advantages of his present position. It is obviously his duty to know the extent and value of his possessions, to utilize their resources for his own immediate benefit, and to exploit them to the very best advantage for himself.
Of what particular benefit, it may be asked, will the development one hundred years from now of the natural resources of New Ontario be to the farmers, merchants and manufacturers of to-day. Yet year after year passes and instead of building up populous towns and villages along the water courses and natural highways of the North, as ought to be done; instead of improving the rural and urban conditions of life, and multiplying home commerce, only feeble efforts are being made, and scarcely any at all except those led, guided and supported by the Government of to-day.
While this line of thought might well be pursued, and while every opportunity should be utilized to impress the value of such a policy upon the minds of the people of Ontario, no writer on the subject should overlook the important fact that Ontario itself is not nor for many years will be able to furnish a surplus population for the great unappropriated districts lying in this new land. Therefore, the interest of the settler from the congested centres of population in the old lands should be enlisted as part of a great and comprehensive plan of settlement.
There are parts of Great Britain, for instance, practically untouched by the Emigration Agent, especially some of the more remote districts of England and Scotland, out of the beaten track, where travel is difficult and communication with the commercial centres infrequent. These districts contain the cream of English and Scottish peasantry, whose outlook upon the world is confined to the nearest town or village, but who must look elsewhere than at their homes for employment for their families.
As a rule young men and women flock to the cities where they swell the ranks of unskilled labor, and ultimately aggravate the conditions of life in the typical city slums. How valuable an addition to the population of Ontario these would prove, ought to be apparent to the most superficial observer, and the people of the Province are allowing their interests to suffer by their masterly inactivity in this respect.
But there is another and no less desirable class that could well be reached, both for Old and for New Ontario, were commensurate means adopted to reach them. That is the well-to-do British farmer, the future of whose family is to him a serious problem. This class is a large and influential one in Britain. The problems presented to families of this description are fertile themes for discussion in the newspaper press, but no solution seems to suggest itself to the political economists of the day.
Were they to turn their minds to Canada, the problem would at once be solved, and to my mind there is no part of Canada to-day that offers so bright a field for such people as Ontario. They would settle there, bringing with them funds which could be invested in farms already improved, some of them in a condition of high cultivation, conveniently situated to town and market; in short, ideal homes for the farmer.
Or to those with robust young families willing to face the ordinary difficulties of the strenuous pioneer life, and to good, healthy men and women, there are few callings or conditions that present happier or more enjoyable existences in many of its phases.
To such endued with pluck, enterprise and perseverance, the cultivable lands of New Ontario would prove ideal settlements. They could settle on choice lands, having the advantage of free grants, involving only the easy terms of settlers' duties, which, to a genuine settler, are merely nominal, and would be far exceeded in a short time by the necessities of living.
There would also be the advantage of acquiring whatever mineral, timber and water power chances that might exist in the district, for the settler would be on the spot to take advantage of every new development in his neighborhood, and for many years to come New Ontario will be a land of good chances and many substantial opportunities.
The facilities for settlement are improving year by year. Colonization roads follow the people, and are liberally maintained by the Provincial Government. New Ontario is also rapidly becoming a territory for the exploiting of railway lines, a sure sign of the prosperous future which capitalists believe is in store for the country. The large railway lines that already run through the country are well known, but from new points crossing and intercrossing new territory, lines have been projected; some are in course of construction; others are practically under way, the financing for which has been satisfactorily accomplished.
The advantage of water travel is also great, for the stretches of rugged country which might otherwise be inaccessible, are easily reached by steamer and boat.
To the investor and capitalist, the following authenticated statement can be unreservedly commended:-"The mineral wealth of New Ontario is destined to be one of the great sources of its future prosperity and development. Gold has been discovered in paying quantities in the Rainy River District at the extreme west of the territory, where a number of mines are in active operation. Copper, silver and iron ore are found along the north shore of Lake Superior, and extensive works for the reduction of these ores and the carrying on of a group of industries, for which the mineral and timber resources of the country furnish the raw material, have been established at Sault Ste. Marie, which is rapidly becoming a flourishing manufacturing city, likely in a few years to rival in importance many long established eastern industrial centres. At Sudbury and farther to the east in the district of Nipissing are found the largest nickel deposits in the world, which are being extensively worked, and here also large reduction works are established. The growing demand for nickel for a variety of purposes, more especially for armor plating, and the scarcity with which this metal is distributed in the few countries where it has so far been discovered, is causing a very rapid development of the localities where it is produced, and furnishes a continually increasing source of employment to those who may settle in the neighborhood of the mines and smelting works. There is only one other extensive deposit of nickel now known, that of New Caledonia."
Many parts of the country are rich in timber and the growing demand throughout the world for paper renders extremely valuable the spruce forests with which large areas are covered. The spruce and other pulpwood timber growing on the portion of the territory explored in 1900 was estimated by the exploration parties at 288,000,000 cords. For the purpose of utilizing this timber to the best advantage in the manufacture of pull) and paper, mills have been started at several points distributed throughout the region, each of which gives employment to a large number of people, whose presence creates a demand for all manner of supplies, and stimulates the growth of subsidiary industries. The population of New Ontario has almost doubled during the decade 18911901. In the former year it was 55,540, while the Dominion census of 1901 gives the figures at 100,401, and thousands have settled there during the two years which have passed since then.
All these varied industries make the conditions of life for the agricultural settler considerably easier than is usually the case in a new country, certainly much more so than in the early days of settlement in Ontario. Hitherto almost the only opportunity presented to the settler in the backwoods, of obtaining any employment whereby he could subsist until his farm became productive, was that offered by the lumber camps. In localities where no work of this nature was in progress, the man who took up land was obliged to provide in advance for the maintenance of himself and family during the time he was occupied in clearing sufficient land to produce a crop, and waiting for it to mature. Few industries of any kind made their appearance until the country was well settled, and the pioneers had to look to agriculture alone as a means of support. In many localities in New Ontario these conditions are reversed, and the mechanical industries are the first to occupy the ground, as is very clearly indicated by the distribution of population as recorded in the census of 1901.
Of the 100,000 inhabitants of New Ontario in that year, upwards of 29,000 were residents of towns and villages. Everyone familiar with the difficulties of colonizing a new country, can realize what a great advantage this is to the settler without capital, or the man of limited means. Many laborers who, under ordinary conditions, would have had no opportunity of acquiring a homestead, simply because they could not afford to wait for a crop and leave their families lacking bread, can obtain work in connection with some of the numerous industrial enterprises for a longer or shorter term, and take up a farm in the neighborhood as soon as they have saved sufficient money to live on until they can depend on their produce. The growing settlements afford them a steady and remunerative market, not rnerely for their crops, but live stock and, farm produce, but for the timber, such as in former days was burned off in order to clear the land.
As compared with the prairie lands of the West, the balance is altogether in favor of the well. timbered farms of New Ontario. Although the prairie settler had not the labor of clearing his land, he is under the serious disability of having to pay high prices for building materials, fencing and fuel, which in Ontario are all to be had for the cutting, and he lacks the shelter afforded by the surrounding woods to growing crops.
During the last few years there has been a noticeable increase in the value of timber other than pine. In the earlier days pine alone was marketable, the other trees being regarded as incumbrances to be got rid of as speedily as possible. Spruce, poplar and other trees furnishing the raw material for paper are now in great demand, and the settler having such timber upon his lot can find steady employment in cutting and hauling these woods to the railways or to the water front for shipment, where a good price will be given for them. Hardwood is coming very largely into use in building operations for flooring and finishing, and in furniture, and its consumption is increasing very rapidly. In place of burning off the hardwood in huge log heaps, as used to be done when it was not a marketable article, the settler in New Ontario in clearing his land, can in most cases, sell the logs at a rate that will pay him well for his labor.
The climate of New Ontario leaves little to be desired, comparing very favorably with that of the Western States. The severity of the winter is tempered by the large areas of water, and the amount of forest covering which intercepts the sweep of the winds. The same degree of cold which would be severely felt in an exposed prairie country, open to the winds from every quarter, is only pleasantly bracing in a well timbered region, where the snow remains on the ground all winter. The whirlwinds and cyclones, often attended with appalling loss of life and great destruction of property, which are frequent in the American West, are unknown in any part of Ontario. The broken and rugged nature of the land, while it lessens the cultivable area, ensures fertility to the arable soil by preserving a constant supply of moisture, the evaporation from the lakes, rivers and forests resulting in frequent rains and tempering the heat of the summer months. That the climate is conducive to health and longevity is amply proven by the experience of old residents. The fevers, agues, and malarial diseases which are frequently the scourge of newly-developed districts where the land is swampy or low lying, are unknown in New Ontario. Though this country is abundantly watered, the formation of the undulating surface secures a rapid flow of the natural drainage and prevents the accumulation of stagnant water, or the formation of fever-breeding marshes.
CABBY AND HIS BOOTS.—Lord John Russell called a cab one evening to take him from the House of Commons to Chesham Place. To the cabman he gave a coin, but when at night he balanced his accounts he found that he was nineteen shillings short. He rightly concluded he had given his driver a sovereign in mistake for a shilling. On the following day the cabman was found. He knew all about it, and acknowledged his rascality. Lord John suggested the immediate return of the money.
"Can't be done, your Lordship," said the cabman, grinning.
"Can't! Why not?"
"Why, my Lord, I thought a great nobleman like you meant to give me the money as compensation for the honor of driving you. So as my boots were old, I went and bought a pair, and here they are," pointing to his somewhat shapely legs. 'They're very nice boots, my Lord; some calls 'em Wellingtons I calls 'em Russells.
ONE day recently the following advertisement appeared in the columns of a certain local newspaper—"In consequence of annoying mistakes, Thomas Smith, the baker, begs to announce that he is not the same person as Thomas Smith, the sweep, and that he has no connection whatever with the latter individual." But doubtless the advertiser felt rather sorry for himself when he saw his sooty namesake's reply published promptly the next day—"Thomas Smith, the sweep, who was stated yesterday to be a different person from, and to be in no way connected with, Thomas Smith, the baker, wishes, for the sake of distinction, to be known in future as lucky Thomas Smith."