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Across the Canadian Prairies

Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, is situated about halfway between the Atlantic and the Pacific, at the confluence of the Bed and the Assiniboine Rivers, and is the most important place in Canada west of Ontario. The city is comparatively modern, dating from the time of the transfer of the Hudson Bay Territory to Canada and the formation of the Province of Manitoba. At that time, in 1870, it had a population of two or three hundred, but to-day the number of its inhabitants probably exceeds 30,000.

In the early days of the settlement the only means of access was by road over the prairies from the United States. Later on, in the seasons of navigation, boats of shallow draught plied occasionally from Minnesota down the Red River to Winnipeg. The first railway was from Emerson to Winnipeg, but it was only in 1878 that this communication was enjoyed. With the active construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, however, both Winnipeg and the country tributary to it rapidly developed, and in 188C the Trans-Atlantic line, running through Winnipeg, was open from Ocean to Ocean. Further developments in railway communication have been taking place ever since, and seven or eight lines of railway now converge upon Winnipeg. Manitoba is probably better served with railways than any other community in the world, having regard to its size and population. If report be true, it is not improbable that a line may shortly be constructed north in the direction of the Saskatchewan, which may be continued later on to Hudson Bay—at any rate, this is the belief which prevails at the present time in Manitoba. The rivers passing through Winnipeg are not used now for navigation to any extent, the water having fallen below the level it formerly occupied.

Those who knew Winnipeg—or rather, the site on which it now stands—in the old Hudson Bay days, must marvel at the metamorphosis which has taken place in comparatively a few years. Fort Garry, as the place was called before the Province was formed, was always the leading Hudson Bay Post in the Western Territory. In fact, the only piece of antiquity Winnipeg possesses is the old gateway of the Fort, and, unless measures are taken to preserve this interesting relic, it will soon crumble away. It will be remembered that Fort Garry received a good deal of advertisement during the days of the first Kiel Rebellion, and it is not too much to say that the story of its wonderful growth and development has been advertised ever since, as few places have been so much talked about in the last few years as the Prairie City. Of course, it has had its ups and downs, like all other places. It had its boom in 1882, when people went crazy in their desire to dabble in land—an era in gambling in which all, men and women, preacher and layman, rich and poor, speculated, and colossal fortunes, on paper, were made daily. Men talked in thousands as glibly as they now do in hundreds; lots were quoted at fabulous sums per front foot; land in the suburbs, two, three, four, or five miles from the business centre, was surveyed into lots and purchased at high figures. Naturally, the reaction set in, as it always does, and for a year or two depression prevailed ; but confidence was restored in time, and, in a quiet, business-like manner, the city began to prosper again on a solid foundation, and has continued to progress.

The site of Winnipeg is a very eligible one for commerce, and this explains, to a large extent, the development that has taken place. It is the distributing centre for supplies to all parts of the country to the west, and it is also the great grain and cattle market, besides being the seat of the manufacturing industry of Manitoba, such as it is The city has certainly been laid out with a view to its future growth. The principal street, Main Street, is about 2 miles long and 120 feet wide. Many of the shops and business buildings are of a substantial character and of creditable appearance, but there are still a large number of wooden buildings, and more or less temporary structures, which will, no doubt, give way in course of time to more permanent premises. Electric tramways are found on the leading streets, the electric light prevails everywhere, and the water supply is fairly good. The only weak point about Winnipeg is the state of the roads and sidewalks. No doubt they will be improved in time, and, unpleasant though they may be in wet weather, no one can question the wisdom of economy in expenditure on the part of the city authorities. It is much bettei.1 to effect improvements of that kind gradually than to build up huge municipal debts, which is so commonly the case in the Colonies. The residential part of the city is chiefly in and around what is known as the Hudson Bay Reserve, and no one can walk through that part of the city without being struck with the comfortable character of the houses and the taste shown in their construction. There are very few terraces, most of the houses being of the villa type, in their own grounds. As the trees grow up along the wide avenues, the appearance of that part of the city will be delightful.

There can be no doubt as to the future of Winnipeg. It is sure to become a large city. Whether its expansion will be slow or rapid depends upon the way in which the Western country is settled up. For some years, at any rate, its progress is likely to be of the slow and sure description, depending as it must do upon the welfare of the agricultural community, of which the population of the country tributary to it largely consists. A few days may be spent in Winnipeg very pleasantly by the visitor. There are excellent hotels in the city, chief among them being the Manitoba Hotel, erected by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company. The drives and rides about the country are delightful, and it is a convenient centre for excursions north, south, east, and west. Fishing may be obtained in Lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba, where the finest whitefish are caught; and big game shooting—moose and deer, as well as bear—may bo obtained within 40 or 50 miles of Winnipeg, in the district between the two lakes already mentioned. And in the proper seasons small game is also very abundant.

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