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Across the Canadian Prairies
Eastward Again

Having reached the most western part of the Dominion, and not having the time to devote to a trip to Japan, or to Australia, by the line of steamers which have, in effect, carried the termini of the Canadian Pacific Railway to Yokohama and Shanghai, as well as to Sydney, there was nothing to do but to return eastward by the “Queen’s highway,” on, and in the neighbourhood of which we had passed some weeks very pleasantly. The journey from Vancouver is, naturally, very much like the journey to Vancouver, but one is apt to see the magnificent scenery of the Rocky Mountains in different moods and in different weathers, and this experience happened to us. On our way Westward there was little sunshine, and any quantity of mist and rain; but on our return there was brilliant sunshine by day and moonlight by night, so that we saw the beauties of the scenery in all their varying aspects.

On the return journey the only stoppage we made was at Winnipeg, and after spending a few days there very pleasantly we took the train to Toronto via North Bay. Toronto is, of course, well known as the capital of the Province of Ontario, and is situated on the western end of the lake of that name. It has a population of about 200,000, but is not quite so largo as Montreal: its inhabitants are chiefly of British extraction, and it is, therefore, much more like an English city than the commercial capital of the Province of Quebec. It is a busy hive, with a wholesome bustle of commercial and industrial activity, and the streets are full of people; while the shops, which are very good, display all the luxuries of Eastern as well as Western civilisation. Toronto is only one of several important cities in the principal Province of the Dominion. Reference must be made to Hamilton, called the Birmingham of Canada; London, which is situated on the Thames, with many of its neighbourhoods named after the larger London in which The Colonies and India is published; Kingston, a more or less important place ever since the time of the French regime; Brantford, and others too numerous to mention in a letter of this kind. Ontario, as everybody knows, also includes the wonderful Falls of Niagara, which can be easily reached from either Toronto or Hamilton. In fact, Ontario is easily the premier Province of Canada, not only by its population, but by the extent of its commercial and industrial interests; and, notwithstanding the development of the western country, the agricultural industry of Ontario is still the backbone of the Dominion. When one considers how brief the life of Canada has been, how comparatively recently it has been developed by railway communication, and how most of the farms had to be cut out of the forest, it is little short of marvellous that so much progress should have been made. It is Ontario which supplies most of the cattle that is sent to the British markets; most of the cheese and other dairy produce comes from there also; and tho same thing may be said of the wheat and other cereals which find their way to Great Britain in such large quantities from the Dominion. Free-grant land may still be obtained by hardy settlers, who are willing to how their farms out of the forest; and improved farms may be purchased by those who are prepared to pay from 21. or 31. up to 201. per acre, according to location, the extent of buildings, &c. A good deal is said from time to time about the rigour of the Canadian climate, but it is not generally known that a good many of the Canadian apples, which have obtained so great a reputation, come from Ontario; that peaches grow in Ontario in such quantities that they are frequently fed to the pigs; that grapes and other delicate fruits ripen in the open air; and that the Province is the seat of a not unimportant wine-making industry.

A series of letters about Canada would be incomplete without some references to the Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. As a rule, they are not much visited by persons who take the trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific, so that the beautiful scenery they contain, their natural resources, and tho advantages they offer, both to tourists and to settlers, are not as much appreciated or known as they deserve to be. They have abundant mineral and forest wealth, a temperate climate and a fertile soil, which can produce all the products that are grown in such latitudes; and the county is, besides, admirably suited for cattle raising and for dairying, which industries are now receiving greater attention than they have hitherto done. Then, again, the fisheries around the coast are abundant, and form a great source of wealth to the inhabitants, while the position the Provinces occupy, as being the nearest part of the American continent to Europe, should give them great advantages in the export trade— advantages which so far have not been utilised to the extent they deserve. The Maritime Provinces are probably better known to Army and Navy men than to other classes of the community. Halifax has always been a favourite station with both services, and many officers and men have returned to that part of Canada after having finished their active work. Living is cheap, beautiful scenery is everywhere found, even in other places besides the district which Longfellow’s poems have made famous, and any quantity of fishing and shooting in all their varieties can be obtained by the sportsman. regarded from any point of view, the Maritime Provinces are really one of the most favoured parts of Canada, and if in the past they have not progressed as rapidly as might be desired, they have been advancing steadily both in wealth and in population, and must, before very long, take up the position to which they are entitled in view of the many advantages they possess.

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