of success—Social environment— The lonely life—Minimizing temptation—The
Liquor Laws— Local option—Native sports—The domination of commerce—
Belated literature and art—Canadian writers—Historians, poets, and
novelists—Religious zeal—Commercial expansion— Insular sentiment —
Cosmopolitan practice — Transatlantic steam service—Returning through
the St. Lawrence—The closed and opened book—Changed times and manners —
Reading the riddle—Canadian Boat Song—Symbols in the western sky—The
last glimpse of the Golden West.
IT is impossible to
travel 10,000 miles through Canada and study its great natural
resources, mark the civil and commercial development that has taken
place, without arriving at definite conclusions.
crystallization of such observations and reflections has been reserved
for my closing words.
exceptional opportunities to young men and women of intelligence and
industrious habits. It is no place for the indolent, impatient or
physically weak. The goal of success is practically certain, but the
road to it is often rough, and it is possible to faint by the way.
Labour is so scarce that there is no difficulty in obtaining work and
good wages, but for precisely the same reason a quid pro quo must be
rendered in the shape of strenuous toil. The life is open and healthy
and, given a good constitution, it cannot fail to be interesting.
In farming in the
Western Provinces food and housing are included, and as the
opportunities for spending are few, savings rapidly accumulate. On the
other hand there is the loneliness of the prairie and the sense of
detachment from the social environment. Some have been unable to bear
this, and have been known to run away from it. It may be advisable to
seek an opening nearer one of the centres of population, where
money-making is equally certain, but the pace is slower. Leading men in
Parliament and connected with labour bureaus share this opinion. But
near large towns and cities there are inducements to spending which in
themselves are temptations unknown in more remote districts. Progress is
consequently retarded, and there may be a very good reason for going
further afield. It all comes back to the question of the character and
temperament of the man. Whatever be the locality, town or prairie, it is
idle to be attracted to Canada for the “soft jobs” it offers. There are
none. A man will reap the highest reward of his industry, but industry
it must be, and of the highest order. He who goes for the purpose of
gambling in mines or land may find a short cut to fortune—or ruin. It is
after all a gamble, and there is no knowing which thimble the pea is
Some of the temptations
that beset life at home are to a large extent removed from the path of
the Canadian settler. The drinking habits are less prevalent than in
European cities. Tea and coffee largely take the place of alcoholic
beverages. Dining restaurants are in no cases licensed for the sale of
intoxicants. The public-house as an institution is unknown. The only
place where drink can be publicly obtained is in the saloons connected
with hotels, which must justify their existence by providing a definite
amount of sleeping accommodation.
The principle of local
option in regard to the saloon system further indicates the condition of
public feeling on the liquor traffic. It was introduced by Senator Scott
in the form of a Temperance Act and allowed electors in any county to
decide by vote whether the sale of intoxicant liquors would be permitted
within their respective districts. The Act has checked the growth of
saloons generally, and in places has led to their complete prohibition.
In the province of Manitoba the people pronounced in favour of total
prohibition, although an attempt to procure the same principle in the
provinces of Ontario and Quebec was defeated by an overwhelming
These provisions by no
means make drinking impossible, but it is an undoubted check on the
The law in regard to
drunkenness itself is strict. It is an indictable offence to be in a
state of intoxication. The fact, apart from violence or disorderly
conduct, leads to arrest, imprisonment, or a heavy fine. All
public-houses are closed on election days and Sundays, when trading,
sports, and games are also prohibited.
The northern climate of
Canada is too cold on the whole to give scope for all the sport so
general in Australia and the Mother Country. The Canadians have,
however, excelled in sculling, the practice of which may be seen carried
on on all the great rivers adjacent to large towns. Their national game
is lacrosse, said to be of Indian origin. The long winters enable them
to indulge in all the exhilarating snow sports—skiing, tobogganing and
sleighing—in all of which the Canadian is a past master. The ice
carnivals at Montreal are universally famous.
The many opportunities
which the Golden West affords have a tendency to monopolize the energies
of the inhabitants to the exclusion of other interests of civilized
life. In the eager desire to grow rich the aesthetic side generally
suffers. Even in the great cities the commercial spirit dominates
everything. Canada has yet to produce its great masters in art and
literature. One might have expected a French Canadian literature, but
its growth was checked at the outset by the discouragement of the Roman
Catholic Church, which prohibited the perusal, not only of modern
Parisian works, but even many French classics. Surveillance has been
even exercised over the catalogues of the booksellers, and a strict
Canadian history has
received careful treatment at the hands of Abbe Casgrain, who has
written a history of Montcalm and Levis. Dr. Kingsford’s ten volumes on
Canada are a comprehensive work, but lacking the lighter touch which
characterizes Francis Parkman, who has dealt with the subject of the
North American Indians and the early pioneers. Sir John G. Bourinct has
treated the constitutional history of Canada with impartial fidelity.
The editor of “The British Weekly,” in one of those vivid literary
sketches of which he is the greatest modern master, unearths in an
article on “The High Destiny of Canada” names almost forgotten in the
literary world—Abel Log, Charles Greatrex, T. C. Haliburton—who wrote
under the nom de plume of Sam Slick—and Joseph Howe.
Goldwin Smith is a
well-known writer on Canada. The magic spell in his work is infectious
and is its most enduring phase.
Of poets, whilst as yet
there is no nightingale, there is many a sweet songster, such as Bliss
Carman, Charles G. W. Roberts, and Wilfred Campbell. Dr. Drummond has
touched the most humane chord in his description of the habitant—in
cabin and canoe, by forest and stream, the life of the settler is sung.
A GRAND WATER FETE
The novel has found a
champion in Sir Gilbert Parker, who, Canadian born, has made London his
home. On historical basis he weaves cunning plots shot with charming
With him may be
associated names less familiar but distinctively contributory to the
deepening and broadening literary source, such as Miss Dougall and Mrs.
The novel with a
purpose has found its chief advocate in Ralph Connor (Rev. C. W.
Gordon). The canon of the Rocky Mountains, the setting of the lumber
camp, the lode gold streak in the miner’s rough nature are his themes,
and skilful has been the handling, as of one who has his vision of the
coming of the Divine Kingdom and prepares for it a way amongst the
increasing inroads into the Golden West.
Canada is moving
towards the realization of all the institutions that make for a people’s
stability and worth. Her religious zeal is marked in commodious
churches, and the catholicity of her mission in a movement towards
union. Already Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists have
cast an overwhelming vote in favour of the formation of the “ United
Church of Canada.” Like her streams near their source, that have
travelled separately and independently, they seek a new power and
strength by merging in one, and sweeping onward toward a common goal.
The trend of her
commercial interests is in the same direction; walls of partition are
being levelled which are opening to them the markets of the world. In
blood and loyalty Canada is insular, and is likely to remain so; in
trade and commerce she is cosmopolitan. She grasps the hands that
stretch across the Atlantic on the east and the Pacific on the west, and
so links the world.
I returned by the
Canadian Northern transatlantic steamer, sailing in the “Royal George”
which with its companion the “Royal Edward” is distinguished for quick
passages. The vessels sail to and from Bristol instead of Liverpool,
which is the port of the Canadian Pacific line. The “Royal George”
averages 20 knots. The commander? Captain James Harrison, served his
apprenticeship on the full-rigged ship “Abcona,” famous for smart
passages. He was master of the old “Valkyrie III,” which in 1895
competed for the American Cup. The captain of the “Royal George” has had
a distinguished career in life-saving. Whilst master of the “Volturna”
he rescued a crew of 28. In 1887 he commanded the lifeboat of the Allen
liner “Manitoban” and rescued 32 from the “Montague” steamer. Sixty
Frenchmen were saved by him. For these and other acts of bravery he has
received awards from the United States and Newfoundland Governments.
As we sailed down the
St. Lawrence from Montreal, memories of the delightful trip were
revived. Months had passed by and it only seemed like yesterday since
the river lapped the sides of the “Empress of Ireland.” The great
continent was then a book about to open its pages. Although too huge a
volume to become familiar even to the life student, pages here and there
had been mastered, and pictures had left behind their indelible impress.
The shores of the St. Lawrence, the scenes of explorers and trappers, of
Iroquois and Hurons, on repassing had a new significance. Across the
waters came the cry of the loon, the lost soul of Indian legend, and
once more recalled the trapper in his birch canoe silently gliding
amongst the rapids of the French River.
The outskirts of the
forest were still dusk and mysterious, but the riddle has been read, the
impenetrable wild has been mastered and the cleared land, with smiling
orchards and lowing kine, declared the victory of patience and industry.
Near the banks where once the dusky figure of the red Indian stealthily
moved, a boat appeared, and the rhythmic stroke of oars marked a new era
of comradeship. Amongst the rugged cliffs, where once the fierce war-cry
found answering echoes, rise and fall in melodiousness the notes of
Moore’s Canadian Boat Song—
“Faintly as tolls the
Our voices keep tune and our oars keep time.
Soon as the woods on shore look dim,
We’ll sing at St. Anne’s our parting hymn.
Row, brothers row, the stream runs fast,
The rapids are near and the daylight’s past! ”
As the day hastens to
its close, the western sky is once more lit up with wonderful tints. The
sun dips behind the river, but its trailing garments sweep the azure
floor of Heaven. The red of the maple, the purple of the mystic
mountains, gold and silver threads of the mine, seem to be woven into
the fabric and proudly displayed as samples gathered from the broad path
over which the great luminary daily travels.
A long last look, the
curtains of night close in, and the Golden West fades out of sight.