Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

Across the Canadian Prairies
Regina to Calgary

Continuing our journey to the West, we travelled over the Canadian Pacific Railway from Regina to Calgary. There is not very much settlement in that part of the country, although more small farmers are there than was the case on a previous visit in 1889. At intervals may be seen the farms of the Canadian Agricultural Coal and Colonisation Company, each covering a considerable acreage. The principal business at the present time on these properties seems to be the raising of cattle, sheep, and horses, the only arable farming that is done being for tho purpose of providing food for the stock. A good many of the surplus cattle are shipped to England, as well as the sheep, and the horses are sold locally. The company also sends a considerable quantity of meat to the West as far as Vancouver. Conducted on so largo a scale, with every opportunity of economising labour and expenses, one would think that the farms should have proved a success, but, so far, such has not been the case, chiefly, it is said, in consequence of the way in which they have been managed. That, as so often proves to be the case, has been much more expensive, especially in the earlier days of the company, than was contemplated, or than farming would warrant, oven with the higher prices that were obtained for all kinds of produce some years ago.

The principal places between Regina and Calgary are Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Dunmore, and Medicine Hat, and the level of the country gradually ascends from 1,870 feet to nearly 2,400 feet. From Dunmore a branch line, now worked by tho C. i\ R., leads to the coal mines at Lethbridge, and an extension of the railway on a narrower gauge provides a market for the coal in Montana. Medicine Hat is the largest of all the places mentioned, and derives its importance chiefly from its position as a railway divisional point. The railway crosses the Saskatchewan about a quarter of a mile from the town, the river being about 100 or 400 yards wide. There is always a considerable number of Indians squatting on the station platform, painted and got up for show purposes; at any rate, one never sees them so “fixed” away from the stations. Their chief object in life appears to be to sell cow-horns, polished and furbished up to look like buffalo trophies, and they seem to find a ready market for their wares. In this part of Canada the buffalo used to roam in countless myriads, and it does seem a thousand pities that they should have been allowed to die out, or rather exterminated, without an effort being made for their preservation. Their tracks, to and from water, may still be seen, and the shallow holes in which they used to wallow are also very numerous. Lakes, many of them alkaline, are frequently passed, and they serve to attract wild fowl; but the country generally has an arid appearance. Competent scientific authorities state, however, that with cultivation the land will improve, and that it is capable of producing grain and vegetables of all kinds—which, to a certain extent, was proved by tho small experimental stations established by the railway company at intervals throughout the district some years ago.

Calgary is the most solid-locking town between Winnipeg and the Rocky Mountains. It has a population of over 3,000, and its inhabitants appear to have gone there to stay—to use a local euphemism—judging by the character of the buildings they have erected. There are several hotels- good, substantial-looking structures. The business houses and stores in the principal streets are all also well built, a light-coloured sandstone that is found in the neighbourhood being generally used. Attention is also apparently paid to style as well as to comfort. The town is very prettily situated between the Bow and Elbow rivers, with a ridge of low hills on one side. It is a railway divisional point and an important junction, the lines to Edmonton on the north, and to McLeod on the south, passing into the C. P. R. station. It is the source of supplies for tho ranches that are found on all sides of the town and for the mining districts in the Rocky Mountains — which, by-the-way, are clearly visible from Calgary in anything like fine weather. The enterprising people of Calgary do not like the visitor to go away with the idea that the country around is only good for grazing purposes. They claim that the district is suitable for mixed and dairy farming, but they seem to have arrived at the conclusion that irrigation is necessary to enable it to fulfil all the anticipations that have been formed of it. In fact, irrigation is now the leading topic of conversation, and more than one scheme will be in operation in the course of the coming year (1895).

Like most places of any pretence in Canada, Calgary has its club. It is called “The Ranchmen’s Club,” and an exceedingly comfortable place it is. The membership is limited, and its members are generally interested in the ranching business, as its name implies, by far the larger proportion being Englishmen. There is little or nothing, however, of what is known in the United Kingdom as the cowboy element, either in Calgary or in the district tributary to it. The cowboy of fiction is ft loud individual, extravagant in dress, in language, and with an infinite capacity for “painting the town red.” Neither at the club, nor on the ranches, as “rounds up,” nor, indeed, on any occasion, does one meet with the individual of whom one reads much occasionally. The cowboys are, as a rule, gentlemanly fellows, well conducted, well read, quiet and unassuming ; they look like Englishmen, and not something between a South American gaucho, an Indian, and a bush-ranger, as they are so often depicted. Those we met in the course of our travels were the best of good fellows, and we looked in vain for any specimens of tho cowboy of pen and pencil.

Return to Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.