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Across the Canadian Prairies

Regina, the capital of the North-West Territories, is a typical prairie city. It has a population of less than 2,500, and is built on the flat prairie, there being hardly a tree anywhere in sight. There is little or no water in the neighbourhood, excepting the Wascana River, which is not much larger than an old country brook. The want of water has been somewhat felt in the surrounding country, even for ordinary farm purposes, but the boring experiments that have been conducted under the auspices of the Government of the North-West Territories have shown that a fair amount of water exists at a reasonable depth. It is the intention to increase the number of boring machines that are being used, and they will be placed at the disposal of the settlers without charge. In the near future, therefore, there is every probability that a well of good water will be found on every homestead. Regina has not grown very much in the last few years, but the buildings have somewhat improved, and the place has a more solid appearance than formerly. A new hotel has proved to be a great convenience to travellers, and the banks, and many of the private residents, as well as the larger storekeepers, are housed in a much more comfortable manner than they were.

Although the town does not present a very busy appearance, there is a good deal of trade done in connection with the distribution of supplies to the district tributary tc it. It is also an important market for various kinds of farm and dairy produce; and the provision of stores and supplies and forage for the North-West Mounted Police is of much value to the neighbouring farmers. The country is fairly well settled on the north and south and to the east, especially in the last-named direction. During 1894, however, the crops were not particularly good, owing to the dry season that prevailed, and the grass on the prairie was very much shorter than usual. The soil is rather on the heavy side, and requires a good deal of rain, as well as an average quantity of sunshine, to enable it to produce abundantly of the fruits of the earth.

The residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of the NorthWest Territories is at Regina, and the present occupant of that position is the Hon. C. H. Mackintosh, formerly a member of the Dominion Parliament, and proprietor of the Ottawa Citizen. Mr. Mackintosh is well known in every part of Canada, and his geniality and humour, and his wide circle of friends, serve to draw a continual stream of delighted guests to the Government House. Largely through his instrumentality an Exhibition, on a more than usually comprehensive scale, is to take place at Regina next year. The local Government is helping with funds, and so is the Dominion Government, and Regina has given $10,000 towards the expenses. It is likely to be a big success.

The Legislative Assembly also meets at Regina, but the number of the members is limited, and the accommodation is not on the palatial side, although, no doubt, perfectly adequate for the purpose. The powers of the Assembly are gradually being developed, and will in time correspond more or less with those conferred upon the other Provinces of the Dominion.

The present arrangements are, of course, of a provisional nature, and sufficient to meet the requirements of a large, sparsely inhabited country. No doubt in the dim and distant future—and the time may, perhaps, come sooner than we expect—the different districts forming the North-West Territories will have become the homes of hundreds of thousands of happy and contented settlers, and bo full-fledged Provinces.

Regina is the headquarters of the North-West Mounted Police, a force which has grown up with the country and has rendered immense service in the maintenance of law and order and in the administration of justice. It was organised in the early days after the transfer of the Hudson Bay Territory to tho Dominion Government, and until quite recently consisted of nearly 1,000 men. It will be understood that in the small settlements that have sprung up all over the country there aro no municipal police, and the North-West Mounted Police have practically had charge of the whole country. For many years they also had the supervision of the Indians, and oven now the Indian Department finds their co-operation especially valuable. They have also to deal with Customs matters, patrolling the boundary, and with quarantine, and one of their principal duties in times gone by was to prevent tho smuggling of bad whisky from the States. During the construction of the Canadian-Pacific Railway there were over 20,000 navvies and labourers employed on the works, not the most reputable members of the world’s population, and probably the most cosmopolitan crowd to be found anywhere. There were, however, very few disturbances; the force maintained its prestige, and it has been said, and probably truly, that the rapid construction of the line would hardly have been possible had it not been for the police. In addition to their other duties, they have, of course, to look after ordinary criminal matters. Every part of the country is also regularly patrolled: the police are obliged to call upon the settlers in the outlying districts, who sign their papers, and report anything of a suspicious character that may have happened since the last visit.

With the development of the country many of the duties formerly undertaken by the police are now placed under the charge of other departments of the Government, and an endeavour is being made to reduce the force. In fact, it now only numbers about 750, as compared with 1,000 a few years ago. All recruits are received at Regina, and many of the horses required for the force are broken and trained there. Every consideration is shown to the men; amusements of all kinds are provided at headquarters, and at all the divisional posts, and altogether they do not seem to have a bad time of it. The popularity of the force is shown by the fact that a considerable portion of the men apply to re-enlist at the end of the term for which they are engaged. The force is a semi-military one, and is drilled and trained as cavalry, the dress being similar to that of the Dragoons. Many of the troopers are men of education and position, who have entered the force from a love of the unconventional life which it affords.

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