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Across the Canadian Prairies
Quebec to Montreal

The journey from Quebec to Montreal may be made by three different routes:—(1) By the Canadian Pacific Railway along the north shore of the St. Lawrence; (2) by the Grand Trunk Railway on the other side of the river; and (3) by the very fine saloon boats passing between the two cities. Saloon passengers on the ocean liners also have the privilege of going up in them to Montreal.

There is very little difference in the journey by the two railways. The distance is much the same, and there is little difference in the scenery on the two sides of the river, but the country on the south shore is perhaps the older settled part of the Province. Everywhere may be seen the long narrow farms of the inhabitants, and here and there the villages, in which the churches are always conspicuous objects. The style of farming adopted by tho French-Canadians is not of a very high class, but immense improvement has been witnessed in the last few years. This result is largely attributable to the efforts of the Agricultural Department, and to the formation of agricultural societies and clubs, to which the clergy have given every encouragement. The dairying industry has made rapid strides in the last decade, and cheese factories and creameries are now to be found in every part of the Province. In fact, the export of agricultural produce is now the most important part of the trade of Quebec, and is still growing. Not only butter and cheese, but pork, bacon, eggs, and hay, are now sent away in large quantities, and the cattle shipments have also expanded. The principal town along the north shore is Throe Rivers, at the mouth of the River St. Maurice, the head of the tideway of the St. Lawrence. It has some manufactures, is the headquarters of an important lumbering business, and its inhabitants number about 9,000. By the Grand Trunk line there is nothing special to note either in the way of scenery or of towns, but there are innumerable villages, and the railway passes through a part of the Eastern townships—the English speaking part of the Province. Gradually, however, the English settlers are removing from the district, and their places are being taken by French-Canadians. The journey by river is perhaps more comfortable than the others, as the boats are good both in their commissariat and in their accommodation, but as they travel by night they do not afford much opportunity of viewing tho scenery excepting in the long summer days, when the evening goes far into the night and the morning sun rises early. By the ocean steamers the trip is made chiefly in the daylight, and is therefore very enjoyable. It is not so very long ago that the river between Quebec and Montreal was limited to vessels of 11-feet draught, but, owing to the enterprise of Montreal, aided by the Provincial and Dominion Governments, as mentioned in a former letter, the largest steamers can now moor alongside the five miles of wharves in that city.

Montreal is the commercial metropolis of Canada, and boasts of a population of 250,000. The inhabitants consist of French and English-speaking Canadians in about equal proportions, but the trade is largely in the hands of the latter. As a city, it has made wonderful strides in the last ten years. It is not long ago since it seemed to be a typical colonial city, with fine buildings alongside very inferior ones, and indifferent roads and “ side-walks.” But things have changed rapidly, and it now has all the solidity and stability of a large English town. In fact, it may safely be said that there is no town in the United Kingdom, with double its population, that has so many fine buildings, residential and commercial; and its electric tramway system is most convenient in every way. Then, again, the roads are good, although the tram lines rather interfere with the other traffic, and the side-walks are very much better than they used to be. Altogether, Montreal has a very prosperous look, and no wonder its citizens are proud of it, although they have had to pay for the improvements to which we have referred. There are any number of fine churches of various denominations in the city—it has, indeed, been called the city of churches. If we remember rightly, it was Mark Twain who said that one could not throw a brick in Montreal without hitting a church window. Let us hope that its worthy citizens profit by their surroundings in this respect. Everyone has heard of the Montreal educational institutions, which are both numerous and of high class—the McGill University having a world-wide reputation. There are several hospitals, among them being the General Hospital, and the Victoria Jubilee Hospital, the latter erected and endowed by the generosity of Lord Mount-Stephen and Sir Donald Smith.

The site of Montreal is a beautiful one in every way. It fronts the River St. Lawrence, and the leading streets range in terraces up the gentle slope which starts from the river-side, and culminates in what is known as the “Mountain.” This elevation is about 800 feet high, and houses are to be found probably about half-way up. The upper part of the Mountain is covered with trees of various kinds, and in summer is a beautiful sight; but it is in the autumn that it is at its best, as the different colours of the foliage form a picturesque background to the city, which must be seen to be realised. The view from the top of the Mountain are both extensive and grand, and hardly a visitor goes to Montreal without spending some hours there.

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