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Across the Canadian Prairies
The Industries of Canada


After having travelled from one end of Canada to the other, it is necessary to say something of the various industries in which Canadians occupy themselves industries to which Canada owes its present position, and upon which the future of the country depends. In Canada, as in most of the other Colonies, there is no leisured class. Everybody works more or less hard, and, although there are a few millionaires in the country, the generality of the people have incomes that are moderate compared with those of tho higher classes in the United Kingdom, although the general standard of wealth is probably greater than it is at home.

The principal industry is of course agriculture, and it applies equally to every Province. Most of the country is situated in temperate latitudes, and the soil and climate are eminently suited for the production of the crops, fruits and vegetables that grow in Central and Northern Europe. Considering the size of the Dominion, the climate naturally varies, but it has a regular summer heat which is sufficient in almost every part of the country to grow all the smaller fruits in perfection, and even many of those which do not ripen in the open air in the United Kingdom. Exception must of course be made in this statement to Manitoba and the North-West, but even there, although apples do not grow, and grapes are not common, yet all the smaller fruits like strawberries and raspberries, gooseberries and cherries, grow wild and very luxuriantly, while wild hops are frequently seen in the summer time. Cattle raising and dairying are carried on everywhere. Canada sends more cheese to Great Britain than any other place in the world. Tho quantity of butter exported is also increasing, and the cattle shipments from Canada are sufficient to have created considerable feeling among agriculturists, both in England and Scotland, in connection with the restrictions that have recently been placed upon their importation.

The next industry in magnitude is probably that connected with the timber trade. In the Maritime Provinces, in Quebec, and in Ontario, in the northern parts of Manitoba and the North-West Territories, and in British Columbia, timber of all kinds is found, and there is not only a largo local demand, but, both on the Atlantic and on the Pacific, the export of lumber is a considerable business, employing a largo amount of capital and many thousands of men.

Probably, next in importance to agriculture and timber is the fishing industry. This is principally exploited on the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and it is the nursery of a hardy race of sailors which have made Canadian ships and Canadian commerce known in all the ports of the world. The importance of the fisheries is also emphasised by the endeavours that have been made so frequently by our American cousins to Bharo in this source of wealth. There are considerable fisheries also in the rivers and lakes of the country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and on the shores of British Columbia the fisheries are particularly extensive and valuable, although practically undeveloped, owing to the difficulty at present of finding markets for the fish when caught.

Canada is exceptionally rich in minerals. Largo deposits of coal exist both on the Atlantic and on the Pacific, and naturally these are of exceptional value to the Empire, as without coaling stations the Atlantic and Pacific squadrons would be very much embarrassed in times of war. Coal is also mined in the North-West Territories, and its discovery has done much to promote the settlement of that part of the country. Iron is found in many places; gold and silver are also worked in the different Provinces, and in the near future, as the country becomes developed, it will be strange indeed if deposits of these precious metals are not discovered which will create much attention. Gold is being obtained in small quantities in Nova Scotia, in Quebec, in Ontario, and in British Columbia, and in the last-named Province the same range of mountains passes through the country that have been such a fruitful source of wealth to Colorado and California. In fact, it may be stated that Canada possesses deposits of almost all the known minerals, but, although the population has rapidly grown, it is still very small indeed for the size of the country, and hardly more than a fringe is at present peopled. As it becomes opened up, more populated, and is made accessible, tho mineral industry is likely to assume far greater proportions than at present.

With all those natural advantages, and particularly in view of tho fiscal policy which has been adopted in the last 15 or 10 years, it is not surprising that a largo manufacturing industry has been developed. The census of 1891 demonstrated tho great progress that had boon made in this direction since 1881, and an advance almost equally extensive was shown in the census of the latter year. The capital employed in manufactures has increased, also the number of factories and the number of hands employed, and the great expansion in the traffic carried over the railways and along the waterways shows the important position local manufactures are assuming in connection with the requirements of the country. The manufactories have a very wide range, and include almost every article of production; and no doubt the progress that has boon made has tended to prevent the increase in the import trade which would otherwise have taken place to supply the wants of the people. The way in which the country has become inhabited is calculated to assist in the development of manufacturing industries. In the Australian Colonies there is generally one very largo city and a few smaller ones; but the system of small towns and villages, which is common enough in the United Kingdom, seems to be more or less unknown in the outlying parts of the Empire, excepting perhaps in Canada. There, villages and small towns are numerous, and there is quite a respectable number of them (about 150), containing each more than 2,000 people. Naturally, in these places there is a tendency to start manufactures, especially where water-power is available, and therefore factories are seen in all the older Province especially, although they have not developed so rapidly in Manitoba, the North-West Territories, and British Columbia.

In addition to the industries already mentioned, railways and shipping employ an immense amount of capital and a large number of men; and there are also the learned professions. Mechanics and unskilled labourers of various kinds are numerous, but there has never been an unemployed movement of any extent. The people are generally in more or less constant employment and in receipt of wages which enable them to live comfortably, and to bring up their families in a way which is not always possible in older countries. There is no distinction of caste to anything like the same extent that obtains in the United Kingdom. A man is regarded according to the position he makes for himself, by sobriety, energy, and perseverance; and the facilities for education are such that the poorest boy in the land has the opportunity of fitting himself for the highest positions the country can offer.


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