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British North America
Introduction: Canada


By J. G. CODMER, C.M.G.

Rudyard Kipling says of Canada:—

“It is a great country; a country with a future. There is a fine, hard, bracing climate, the climate that puts iron and grit into men's bones, and there are all good things to be got out of the ground, if people will work for them. What it wants is more men and more money. Why don’t Englishmen think more of it as a field for English capital and enterprise? Surely there is an excellent opening both for the investing and emigrating Briton there. Things don't, perhaps, move quite so fast as in the United States, bid they are safer, and you are under the flag you know, and among men of the same stock and breed. Send your folks to Canada; and if they can’t go themselves, let them send their money—plenty of it.

Lord Dufferin, in a speech in Canada, at the close of his office as Governor-General, said :—

“Love your country, believe in her, honour her, work for her, live for her, die for her. Never has any people been endowed with a nobler birthright, or blessed with prospects of a fairer future. Whatever gift God has given to man is to be found within the borders of your ample territories. It is true that the zone within which your lines are cast is characterised by ruder features than those displayed in lower latitudes, aiid within more sunward-stretching lands, but the north has ever been the home of liberty, industry, and valour.

The volumes forming the British Empire series will commend themselves to those who are interested in making the Colonies better known than at present. Much has been done in that direction in the last few years, but the prevailing knowledge about the outlying parts of the Empire is certainly not as extensive as it might, or ought to, be. For any permanent improvement in this respect we must look largely to the education of the young. It is gratifying to know that the Colonies—their history, geography, and resources— are a more frequent subject of study in the schools than used to be the case; for it is of the highest importance that the rising generation should be taught what the British Empire really is, and what an important heritage is being handed down to them. Anything that will help the cultivation of the Imperial sentiment, or the Imperial idea, as some term it, is to be cordially welcomed, and this Canadian volume is sure to be most useful in this connection.

What must impress the student of Canadian affairs is the great progress that has been witnessed during the reign of our present Sovereign, and even in the shorter period that has elapsed since the federation of the various provinces in 1867. Little more than thirty years ago, the provinces of British North America were separate and distinct, and treated one another as independent communities. There was little or no communication between them, except in the ease of Upper and Lower Canada. The Maritime Provinces were practically only accessible to the rest of British North America by water. The country to the west of Upper Canada, until British Columbia was reached, was under the control of the Hudson Bay Company, and the haunt of the Indian and the trapper. The various industries, as we now know them, were in their early stages, and development to any extent did not seem to be possible without the stimulus which federation and the acquisition of the Hudson Bay Company’s Territory was to provide.

Now, the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific is under one Government, so far as the general welfare of the community is concerned, local affairs being controlled by the different provinces. There are over 17,000 miles of railway in operation, connecting the two great oceans and providing means of communication between all the provinces. There is a splendid system of canals, and vessels drawing 14 feet of water will shortly be able to proceed from the great lakes direct to the seaboard. Everything that tends to reduce the cost of the conveyance of the products of the country to markets is regarded as of the highest importance in the Dominion. The largest ocean-going vessels trade to and from its seaports. Agriculture is in a flourishing condition, and nearly 50 per cent, of the population is engaged in its development. There is still an unlimited area of land only waiting to be cultivated, to provide happy homes for millions of people. The fisheries are productive and a great source of wealth. and the 70,000 fishermen engaged in the industry form an immense reserve 'of naval strength. Canada contains an abundance of the chief economic minerals and of the precious metals; and its mines arc becoming known all over the world. The value of the mineral products of Canada is sure to increase rapidly in the near future. Its timber wealth does not need special mention ; but it is not generally recognised that Canada has, within recent years, become a great manufacturing country.

Indeed, Canada has everything that has tended to place the United Kingdom in the industrial position it now occupies, and many advantages that the mother land does not enjoy. There is plenty of timber, coal and iron, unlimited water-power, a splendid agricultural country, a fine climate, excellent means of communication, a long coast-line giving access to markets: and it is the half-way house of the Empire, standing midway between the East and the West. It is not surprising in these circumstances that Canada has advanced along the road of prosperity by leaps and bounds, and that its people are among the happiest and most contented in the world.

The moral is the old adage, “Union is strength.” The results of the federation of Canada should be an object-lesson to the other parts of the Empire, indeed to the Empire as a whole. The more closely it is united the greater will be its wealth and strength, and the power of its people for doing good. The present series of volumes is calculated to promote this most desirable consummation. So long as England regards Canada from the standpoint of Rudyard Kipling’s words, and Canada lives up to Lord Dufferin’s eloquent advice, the future of the Dominion will rest on the surest of foundations.


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