Twenty Years on the Saskatchewan,N.W.
Canada Chapter XXII. The Future of North-west Canada
OUR Eastern Indians, and certain people in
Europe, have spoken of our Saskatchewan and Western Countries as the
'Land of the Setting Sun.' It is an indefinite description, but not more
indefinite than is the country itself. A few years ago these new lands
were known to only a few persons, and if they returned to Europe, or the
eastern parts of Canada, they were regarded as great travellers; but now
that the Canadian Pacific Railway so quickly carries its human freight,
these regions are found to be the world's great natural highway to the
East. This has been the instinct of travellers for three hundred years.
Columbus conceived that he, on coming West,
had reached the East; hence his mistake as to the size of the world
helped his enterprise, and gave the name of Indians to the natives, who
might well have been called Asiatics.
So with later travellers: they have sought
persistently for a north-west passage to Asia from Europe, and they have
found that passage by the railway which has opened up these regions, and
closely connected them with the far East. We are now at the doors of
ancient and vast empires, such as China and Japan, and these nations
must influence greatly our destiny in these border countries. Nature
seems to have made our extensive plains, and our coal-fields, and our
splendid soil, to be the stay of great peoples, who in the future will
traffic with the East, giving it their produce, and receiving theirs in
Placing us thus on one of the world's
central highways necessarily involves additions to our population, and
to our wealth, which will surprise the future generations. The twentieth
century may see these North-West regions the very centre of the world,
with cities on the Columbian coast as great and magnificent as old Tyre
and Carthage were, and inland towns as great and prosperous as
Birmingham or Manchester.
North-West Canada has all these promises if
the old British stock, and the old British virtue, rule in the land. Our
climate will rear the highest possible race of mankind physically, if
the mental, moral, and spiritual qualities are carefully cultivated with
the physical, in order to make a well-balanced and perfect nation.
Humanity here may be worthy of the past ages, and the great inheritances
of which we take possession.
Rumours are rife already of railways
connecting Northern British Columbia with Hudson Bay, thereby shortening
by a thousand miles the route to Great Britain, and thus opening up for
the Saskatchewan country the world's markets, both in Europe and Asia.
Also it has been found practicable, by
Behring's Straits, to connect us with the great Siberian and Russian
railways, and this will work wonders on our position in relation to the
world, and will cause changes too boundless for the imagination to
adequately picture. Twenty-five years more will turn some of these
possibilities into facts.
Does Canada realize the vast import of these
impending events, on which her very life and destiny hang? What does it
mean? Russia, the most ambitious of the nations, will be close at our
doors, and able at her will to pour her disciplined hordes--the very
hordes, as I believe, that troubled and overran the Old World for
centuries, and nearly conquered Europe--those hordes of Mongols and
Tartars, scientifically trained, and relying on the tremendous forces
which science has in late years placed at the disposal of great armies.
She will be on the North Pacific, as she is on the North Sea in Europe,
ready for attack on civilization, but defended herself by her
impregnable barriers of snow and ice--in days to come the pirate of the
nations, and the enemy of freedom everywhere.
Yes, Canada! This ambitious and perfidious
Russia will soon be at our gates with her millions of bayonets, her
tremendous forces, her innumerable Cossacks and Tartars, led by the most
unprincipled and astute intellects the world has seen. These will find
us open to attack, as soon as our prosperity lures their greed, their
lust, and their ambition. Why has Russia impoverished her finances to
build her railroads, and why does she keep a vast and powerful fleet in
the North Pacific? Only for purposes of conquest, and in order that her
ambition may have free play, and that she may use her opportunities. Do
Canadians who talk of independence fully consider what they do? And do
they know how helpless they are apart from the mother country if great
emergencies should arise? These emergencies may seem yet a long way off,
but in the life of nations they really are close at hand.
How fortunate for Canada is the fact that
Alaska belongs to the United States, and not to ourselves! The United
States, whose sympathy with Russia has been often manifest, may in a
century, or even less, be glad to enter into an alliance with Canada,
and the common motherland, when Russia is predominant in the North
Pacific, for the protection of our freedom, our honour, our
civilization, and our very existence as independent nations.
Besides events connected with Russia, we
people of North-West America, as a part of the British Empire, may be
greatly influenced by the England of the East--viz., the new Japanese
power. Perhaps Russia may be checkmated in her designs in the far East,
and find a foe close at hand equal to her diplomacy and her ambition;
but even then Canada, and especially North-West Canada, will be surely
drawn into the maelstrom--she cannot be indifferent. Supposing that
Japan brilliantly builds and manages her fleet, and conquers China with
her armies, and marshals the whole yellow race by sea and land, what
would Canada--yes, what would all America--say and do? The world's
greatest events in the impending years for Canada, and even for Europe,
may transpire, not in Europe, or on the borders of India, but in the
new, yet ancient, Pacific Seas.
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