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Title: Canada and its Provinces Vol 7 of 23

Date of first publication: 1914

Author: Adam Shortt (1859-1931) and Arthur G. Doughty (1860-1936)

Date first posted: Aug. 27, 2017

Date last updated: Aug. 27, 2017

Faded Page eBook #20170831

This ebook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, Alex White & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

Archives Edition





(Vols. 1 and 2)(Vols. 13 and 14)
(Vols. 3 and 4)(Vols. 15 and 16)
(Vol. 5)(Vols. 17 and 18)
(Vols. 6, 7, and 8)(Vols. 19 and 20)
(Vols. 9 and 10)(Vols. 21 and 22)
(Vols. 11 and 12)(Vol. 23)






Thomas Chapais

F. P. Walton

William L. Grant

James Bonar

D. M. Duncan

Alfred D. DeCelles

George M. Wrong

Andrew Macphail

A. H. U. Colquhoun

Robert Kilpatrick

Thomas Guthrie Marquis

VOL. 7







Photogravure by Annan. Glasgow.
From a photograph by Topley, Ottawa

Copyright in all countries subscribing to

the Berne Convention


DEFENCE, 1812-1912. By C. F. Hamilton
DOMINION FINANCE, 1867-1912. By J. M. Courtney and Adam Shortt
Extract from the Resolutions adopted at Quebec in October 1864, at a Conference of Delegates from Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland 
Extract from the British North America Act, 1867—viii. Revenues; Debts; Assets; Taxation 
Ministers of Finance and Receivers-General since Confederation 
Canada’s Population at Confederation—The Decennial Census of 1881—The Decennial Census of 1891—The Decennial Census of 1901—The First Decade of the Twentieth Century 
The Negroes—The Icelanders—The Mennonites—The Mormons—The Doukhobors—The Crofters—The Barr Colony—British Immigrant Children—Other British Immigration—United States Immigration—Austro-Hungarians—The Italians—The French—The Belgians—The Dutch—The Swiss—The Germans—The Scandinavians—Turks, Armenians and Syrians—Greeks, Macedonians and Bulgarians—The Chinese—The Japanese—The Hindus—The Jews 
In Great Britain and Ireland—In Continental Europe—In the United States 
Ready-made Farms 
INDIAN AFFAIRS, 1867-1912. By Duncan C. Scott
A Policy of Expansion—The North-West—South Saskatchewan Inspectorate—Eastern Canada—British Columbia—The Yukon—The Sioux—The Eskimos 
Indian Education—The Present Legal Position of the Indians 
THE POST OFFICE, 1867-1912. By William Smith
The Introduction of Domestic Cattle—Cheese and Butter Production in Canada 
First Attempts—Agricultural Societies—Boards of Agriculture—The Dominion Government and Agriculture—Experimental Farms Established—The Dairying Service—The Health of Animals Branch—The Tobacco Division—The Exhibition Branch 


SIR ALEXANDER TILLOCH GALT, First Finance Minister of the DominionFrontispiece
From a photograph by Topley, Ottawa 
SIR RICHARD JOHN CARTWRIGHT Minister of Finance, 1873-78Facing page486
From a photograph by Topley, Ottawa 
SIR SAMUEL LEONARD TILLEY, Minister of Finance, 1872-73, 1878-85490
From a photograph by Topley, Ottawa 
GEORGE EULAS FOSTER, Minister of Finance, 1888-96496
From a photograph by Elliott and Fry, London 
WILLIAM STEVENS FIELDING, Minister of Finance, 1896-1911502
From a photograph by Elliott and Fry, London 
From the painting by Edmund Morris 
From the statue by A. Phimister Proctor 
Drawn from life by Arthur Heming 

DEFENCE, 1812-1912


From 1782 to Confederation the defence of British North America against the United States was the subject of anxious precautions on the part of the imperial authorities and their representatives in the New World. From 1782 to the Crimean War the system which they devised guaranteed the security of the country. The great republic during that period was a restless neighbour, grudging the British provinces their independence within the Empire; once there was actual war, and often there were rumours and threats of it; and in every crisis the British defensive arrangements were adequate. The period from the Crimean War to the end of the American Civil War saw a change; the danger was greater, and the military system of the provinces was undergoing a change which yielded defensive arrangements the adequacy of which, untested by real war, may seriously be doubted. After Confederation the American pressure relaxed, and when Canada was again brought to feel the need for military preparation, the impetus to reorganization arose from conditions existing across the ocean.

The old system of defence was definite, coherent and intelligent; it has passed utterly away, and, indeed, is all but forgotten. It was in essence the stationing in the country of a strong garrison of imperial regular troops and the requirement of universal service by the inhabitants. In peace those of military age were grouped in mobilization formations, but were given little tactical training; annual musters served to inform the authorities as to the numbers and residences of the men, and to keep alive in the public mind the consciousness that personal service was demanded and obligatory. In war the men thus rendered available were organized into corps under varying conditions of service; as many of these corps as possible were trained as regulars, the militia proper comprising the men who on account of physical unfitness or urgent economic reasons could not be taken into continuous service. Under this system the country could put into the field practically every able-bodied man who could be spared from the necessary work of the community.

The classic example of the working of the old system is found in the War of 1812. The Americans trusted to a militia system that had no effective stiffening of professional soldiers; they contemned regulars and made imperfect use of the powers of leadership and organization of such as they had; the bulk of the troops which they provided were corps raised hastily for short periods of service, officered by men untrained to leadership and disbanded when they had begun to acquire experience. These levies were met and repulsed by the British forces, which were heavily outnumbered, but which usually surpassed their antagonists in training and discipline. In pursuance of their policy of ‘raw troops and short enlistments’ the federal and state authorities of the United States during the war raised forces numbering more than half a million.[1] Of these only some 50,000 were regulars; about 5000 were sailors and marines; and militia of various sorts numbered 470,000. Many of these troops were confined to the Atlantic seaboard, and, enormous as was the number of enlistments, the forces which actually confronted the British army in the Canadas were surprisingly small. The 50,000 American regular troops gave the British more trouble than the whole of the 470,000 irregulars.

Prior to the arrival of the reinforcements liberated by the ending of the Peninsular War the British land forces fell into the following categories:


1. Regular troops from overseas:

In the Canadas—one regiment of cavalry; thirteen battalions of infantry; a proportion of artillery and other services.

In the Maritime Provinces—three or four battalions of infantry; artillery and other services.

Employed at sea as a raiding force, based on Bermuda—four battalions of infantry.

2. Regular troops raised in British North America:

In the Canadas—about a dozen battalions of infantry, known as Voltigeurs, Chasseurs, Fencibles, Select Embodied Militia, Incorporated Militia, etc.; detachments of cavalry and artillery.

In the Maritime Provinces—three or four battalions of infantry (Fencibles, Embodied Militia, etc.).

3. Militia:

In the Canadas—(1) Numerous ‘flank companies’ of infantry; the men remained in these continuously, but were granted frequent leave to labour on their farms. (2) Occasional levies of all the able-bodied men.

In the Maritime Provinces—occasional levies to repel raids, support regulars engaged on expeditions, etc.

Thus from thirty-five to forty battalions of regulars, from one-third to one-half of them raised locally, and sundry militia forces as far as possible of continuous enlistment though of intermittent service, made good the defence of the country. It is difficult to estimate numbers; but in British North America, a poor country dependent upon local harvests for the food of the army as well as of the people, there were 70,000 or 80,000 men of military age; probably some 20,000 or 25,000 were available for service as provincial regulars or militia. The man-power of the British provinces was scientifically used to its last ounce.

This system was devised in the period following the rupture of the Peace of Amiens and preceding the outbreak of war in 1812. It was part of a general scheme. In the United Kingdom Windham and Castlereagh, under the spur of the Napoleonic danger, were working out a system of organization which is seen at its most interesting moment in 1808, when Lord Castlereagh carried through parliament his Local Militia Act. Castlereagh’s general idea was the provision of a land force in two lines. Omitting details, the system resolved itself into a trained nation for defensive and a regular army for offensive service.[2] The British soldiers charged with the defence of British North America had been trained in the school which worked out this theory. In 1803 was passed the Militia Act of Lower Canada; in 1808 the Militia Acts of Upper Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were enacted; there had been previous legislation, but these were the statutes under which the war was fought.

The keystone of the system was the presence of a strong regular garrison. From 1804 to 1809 the garrison of British North America was increased from 3500 to 9000. The mother country in 1809 had abroad four armies, each in excess of 20,000. Though it was necessary to garrison places as far apart as Heligoland and New South Wales and to keep substantial forces within the United Kingdom, yet as the dispute with the United States grew more acute British statesmen steadily augmented the regular forces in the American colonies. The British garrison was kept at about the strength of the American regular army. Of the British regulars more than a quarter were raised locally, the colonies supplying the men and the United Kingdom bearing the expense. There were in 1809 four battalions of fencibles—the Nova Scotia, the New Brunswick, the Newfoundland and the Canadian—numbering 2236 exclusive of officers.

The militia acts of the four mainland provinces on the whole were remarkably alike. The following features were common to all:

1. The obligation to serve was universal, except for some exemptions for Quakers and other persons whose religious convictions forbade military service. The usual age limits were 18 and 60; men between 50 and 60 were to be called on only in case of a levy en masse.

2. Militia officers and non-commissioned officers were alluded to only in their administrative capacities, and no provision was made for training them.

3. The country was divided into districts. The regimental division was the county, the regiments being given a number of battalions varying with the population; the strength of a battalion varied from 300 to 600. Company districts were delimited with a view to the number of men available; a company usually comprised from 40 to 60 men, though provision was made for companies as small as 20 and as large as 80 men.

4. The captains were to enrol all men liable to service, and were to forward their rolls through their field officers to the higher military authorities.

5. Periodical musters were to be held; attendance was compulsory; neglect was punishable. No pay was allowed, either for officers or men. Usually there was one muster a year, though there were variations of practice.

6. A certain very slight amount of training was prescribed, also without pay.

7. Provisions as to arming the militia varied somewhat, but in general the authorities, while encouraging the men to provide their own weapons, undertook to issue arms and accoutrements. The question of storage was met by providing for their being kept by the individual militiaman under bonds as to retention, care, etc.

8. When necessary the whole militia could be called out. In the Canadas the period of service was six months; in the laws of the eastern provinces no limit of time is mentioned. In the Maritime Provinces the militia could not be sent beyond the provincial boundaries. In the Canadas the militia could be marched from either province to the assistance of the other, and it also might be taken across the border into the United States if military necessity arose.

9. Authority was given to local officers to call out the militia under their command in cases of sudden emergency.

10. Elaborate provisions were laid down for calling out portions of the militia and embodying them for continuous service. A specified number of recruits could be demanded from a district, the officers of which were required to produce the men. The machinery prescribed was the ballot or lot, and the process of warning the men, drawing lots, arranging the roster, etc., is described in minute detail in some of the acts. In Lower Canada the quota could be made up by ‘command.’ Men drawn could provide substitutes. In the Canadas the term of service for men so drafted was limited to six months, provision being made for the relief of one contingent by another.

11. The discipline of the militia in its assembling, training, etc., was provided for in some detail.

12. Provision was made also for discipline, alike on active service and in peace. In war the disciplinary code of the British service was to apply, with some modifications, such as the prohibition of the flogging of militiamen. In peace militia punishments, fines, etc., were rendered enforceable by the civil power.

This was a mobilization rather than a training scheme. The organization was administrative rather than tactical. Companies ranging from 20 to 80 men—battalions of 300 or 600 rank and file—regiments of one battalion or half a dozen battalions—such formations obviously were unsuited for operations in the field. But, on the other hand, such a system would lay hold of the men of the country, group them in convenient subdivisions, and render them accessible for further organization; add to this the slight degree of training given, the absence of concern as to the tactical efficiency of the militia officers, as contrasted with the minute care with which their duties of enrolling and balloting were prescribed, and the evident anxiety to effect the distribution of arms in advance of actual hostilities; recall the express stipulation in Lower Canada that, when the militia captains and colonels had called up their men in response to the summons, a further organization into tactical as distinguished from administrative units could be effected. On assembling these considerations it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the militia organization was designed primarily as a machine for producing the men who, on becoming available to the higher authorities, would be regarded as a mass of recruits, to be arranged in such formations as might prove suitable. Put broadly, while the distinction was not made in express terms and was not rigidly enforced, the scheme of defence contemplated two sets of officers, one to secure the men, the other to train and lead them. There was some spirited and stubborn fighting by levies of the local militia, notably at Lundy’s Lane; but, in practice, the ordinary militia officer was designed to act as a local mobilization functionary.

The weak point in this system was the limitation upon the time for which a militiaman could be compelled to serve. Six-months enlistment was too short for serious campaigning, and accordingly the authorities were forced to rely on volunteering to fill the provincial regular regiments to which they had such extensive recourse. In procuring volunteers they had the lever of the compulsory militia service and the advantage of having all the inhabitants assembled before them; and when the emergency came they worked over and over the recruits furnished in this way, drawing the more willing and adventurous off into voluntary regular corps, embodying others in various special corps, and leaving the residue to be summoned en masse in time of urgency. A form of special corps employed in Lower Canada was the ‘Select Embodied’ battalion; this was kept permanently on foot, but was composed of successive drafts of six-months men; corps of this type were principally employed for garrison purposes. In Upper Canada a favourite corps was the ‘flank company’ composed of the more active men of the district; the men remained in these continuously, but were at liberty to attend to their farms when not actually needed.

One observation which it is necessary to make is that the mobilization process provided was leisurely; but events marched slowly then, and the Canadas could rely on two factors which would give time for preparation: a belt of thinly settled country, difficult to traverse, intervened between them and the American settlements; and the American mobilization, with its preference for militia, was slow and ill-suited for offensive movements. It is also plain that the whole plan depended upon the presence of a considerable regular garrison. In 1809 there was one regular soldier for every six or eight male inhabitants of military age. The regular officers of the garrison of some eight or nine thousand troops had the prospect of providing drill-masters and leaders for some twenty thousand new troops. These officers would be augmented by a considerable number of colonials who would be given commissions, but these would become regular officers, and would be trained and formed by the existing system. Further, it must not be forgotten that more than a quarter of this regular army was locally raised—a native North American force. Impending over everything we see the professional officer and the standard of discipline and obligation of a regular army.

In 1826 Sir James Carmichael-Smyth, after an exhaustive examination of the military history, conditions and resources of Canada, expressed the opinion that the defence of the country was practicable with the means available. His plan was the construction of certain fortifications and lines of communication, the holding of the Great Lakes, an attack on the American seaboard, the use of the oversea regulars in formed bodies at the decisive points, and the relegating of stretches of frontier of secondary interest to the care of provincial regulars and militia. In accordance with his recommendation the Rideau Canal was built by the home government, to afford, in case of war, a safe and retired waterway between Montreal and Lake Ontario. Large sums of money also were spent in fortifications at Halifax, Quebec, Kingston and other places.

[1] General Upton’s Military Policy of the United States, which is followed in the text, puts the number of enlistments at 527,654. The Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1911, also official and of later date, puts the enlistments at 576,622 and the individuals who enlisted at 286,730.

[2] The County Lieutenancies and the Army, 1803-1814, by the Hon. J. W. Fortescue.


The events of 1837, 1838 and 1839 bring us to the next point of interest. During the twenty years that followed the Treaty of Ghent in 1814 few changes occurred in the system of defence, and these need not detain us. The real development lay in the rapid increase of the population as compared with the regular garrison; by 1840 British North America had some 350,000 men of military age, whereas the normal size of the garrison remained at six or seven thousand men. The insurrections and the external menace that followed tested the system, and this although the military measures taken were little more than police operations.

Sir Francis Bond Head had sent all the regular troops out of Upper Canada, and when, on the night of Monday, December 4, 1837, he learned that a rebel force was encamped on the outskirts of Toronto, he was compelled to rely on such forces as the militia system, and it alone, could provide. Toronto, with 2500 men of military age, furnished less than 300 for his force; the core of this local force was a small volunteer company which had been drilled by Colonel FitzGibbon. In two days about 1000 men came in from places as far east as Cobourg and Whitby and as far west as Hamilton, St Catharines and Niagara; on Thursday, December 7, Colonel FitzGibbon moved upon the rebels at Montgomery’s Tavern with 1000 or 1100 men and left a force of 200 to keep order in the town. Within the next few days militia to the number of 10,000 or 12,000 are said to have reported at Toronto. The number of men of military age in the district from Lincoln to Northumberland inclusive was 45,000, so that, if these figures are correct, one quarter of the able-bodied men mustered for duty in the very region which had hatched the revolt. Some writers have asserted that many of the militia who assembled in Toronto at heart sympathized with the rebel leader, Mackenzie. If this was the case, it is a singular reflection that the system of universal liability, impressed upon men’s minds by periodical assemblies from which no one was excused, caused men who were not aggressively loyal to place themselves at the disposal of the authorities. Under the later system the disaffected and lukewarm would have remained quietly at home, and would have been inaccessible to those responsible for the maintenance of public order.

In this spontaneous muster the organization and training were of the crudest. The force led by FitzGibbon to Montgomery’s was little better than a mob. The swarms of men who poured into Toronto were utterly untrained and almost unarmed. Transport was lacking, except where water could be used. The commissariat service of the regular army undertook the supplying of the forces assembled; it was the subject of much grumbling.

These crude levies were more than equal to the summary suppression of Duncombe’s rising in the western peninsula as well as Mackenzie’s operations. Five hundred of the levies assembled at Toronto were transferred to Hamilton, to march by way of Brantford to the township of Burford, where some 300 of the disaffected had assembled at a village called Scotland. Simultaneously parties of militia moved upon the rebels from Simcoe to the south, and from Woodstock and London to the west. Before this converging movement the rising collapsed without the formality of a fight. Duncombe’s assembly took place about December 5 or 6; by the 14th the local militia had gathered, arranged for local security, and marched upon the centre of disaffection.

The occupation of Navy Island in the river near Niagara Falls by Mackenzie followed. The government had 1800 militia posted at Chippawa under Colonel Cameron before the need for troops in the western district had ended, and Colonel MacNab’s arrival from Burford brought the force up to 2500. The militia could do nothing of real military value (for the cutting out of the Caroline did not seriously incommode the filibusters) until heavy artillery was provided by the regular establishment. The militia were in civilian clothing, the government supplying them with nothing more than arms. They rapidly improved and soon were capable of stout fighting. When Sutherland attacked Amherstburg with the schooner Anne the local militia captured the vessel. The assembling on the frontier was done well. The first gathering, on January 8, 1838, numbered 400; in a few days the Detroit River was guarded by nearly 4000 militia; Essex, Kent and Middlesex had about 11,000 men of military age. In December 1838 the ruffians who captured Windsor and attacked Sandwich were beaten by 170 local militia whom Colonel Prince collected on short notice. The affair of the Windmill below Prescott showed how efficiently the St Lawrence frontier was organized. On November 11, 1838, the filibusters were known to be on the river, though the point of their intended descent was uncertain. Late on the 12th, after some cannonading between armed steamers, they landed 250 men. At 7 a.m. on November 13 they were attacked by 80 regulars of the 83rd, who had come to Canada from New Brunswick, and over 400 militia, and were cooped up in the famous windmill; in this fight the British lost 50 officers and men, or 10 per cent. During the first rising in Lower Canada Glengarry and Stormont furnished 2000 men for operations about Beauharnois. During the second rising Glengarry sent across the river into Lower Canada two regiments numbering 1000 men, while Stormont also furnished a battalion for this service. At this time there were about 20,000 men in the counties of Upper Canada on the St Lawrence River, and about 6000 in the Upper Canada portion of the Ottawa valley.

As the danger of insurrection shaded into that of war with the United States, mobilization took place in the old manner. Regular reinforcements arrived; in 1839 there were in the Canadas 17 battalions of infantry and a regiment of cavalry in addition to artillery and departmental services. The men supplied by the militia were organized in semi-permanent formations, officers being sent out from England for this purpose. Before long there were 4 battalions of ‘incorporated militia,’ 12 battalions of ‘embodied militia,’ and over 30 special corps—cavalry, artillery, riflemen, etc. Upper Canada contained about 100,000 men of military age, and the militia could place in the field 40,000 men, with a good deal of professional leadership, and under legal conditions making for firm discipline. Pains were taken to guard the Great Lakes; during 1838 three steamers and two or three schooners were armed, and two or three armed steamers and a small gunboat were built.

In Lower Canada the government was supported by the regular army and the forces supplied by the British Canadian population. The province in 1837 contained some 3000 troops, while the British Canadian population may have comprised from 35,000 to 40,000 men of military age. The corresponding figure for the French-Canadian population probably was 100,000. In Montreal and Quebec the method followed was the formation of volunteer companies of infantry, artillery and cavalry. In Quebec an English-speaking population of 12,000 or 15,000 furnished for general service in Canada a battalion of 1000 men, quite on a regular footing; three companies of volunteer artillery, and about 1600 local volunteers; in all nearly 3000 men. Montreal, with an English-speaking population of 22,000, had a ‘Volunteer Militia’ of about 2000. The English-speaking population of the Eastern Townships turned out on the militia principle, and contributed a considerable number of rifle corps, cavalry troops, etc. The 2000 men whom Sir John Colborne took to St Eustache in December 1837 included a militia battalion and two troops of militia cavalry. The force which he led to Napierville in November 1838 included 500 volunteers as well as 400 Caughnawaga Indians. It is noteworthy that the rural militia of the Eastern Townships furnished some officers who, like MacNab and Prince in the upper province, showed real leadership, attacking rebel gatherings unhesitatingly when conditions were favourable, and fighting with determination on occasions such as the sharply contested skirmish at Odelltown, when they were outnumbered.

In the Maritime Provinces the events of 1837 and 1838 caused some concern, and the New Brunswick legislature strengthened the militia law. The most important change was the giving of authority to the government to enrol 1200 militia for service in British North America, and further, if this force and the queen’s troops should be moved out of the province, to embody an additional contingent of militia to do garrison duty in lieu of the regulars. At this time New Brunswick had about 40,000 able-bodied men. Soon after, in 1839, this act proved of service in the ‘Aroostook War’ with the State of Maine. An aggressive state administration in Maine so handled a disputed boundary question that both parties found themselves stationing armed forces in the debatable district. The Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, Sir John Harvey, had at his disposal first two and then three regular battalions and some regular artillery; under the act of 1837 the legislature furnished 850 embodied militia, who were posted at Woodstock on the upper St John, and the rest of the militia were put in order. An incident that gave great pleasure was the passing of a resolution by the Nova Scotia legislature authorizing the dispatch of 8000 militia to aid New Brunswick; the Nova Scotia militia at this time mustered about 25,000 men.

After the Act of Union the old system was continued in the new Province of Canada; such changes as were made were in the direction of developing the tendencies that have been described. By this time, however, the system was doomed. During this period the militia fell into an unpopularity that has survived as a tradition. The rustic array on training day easily lent itself to satiric description. Men without arms, without accoutrements, without drill, who assembled only once a year, naturally presented no very martial appearance. There was no public understanding of the distinction between mobilization and training, and lads who repaired to the training-day assembly with visions of military pomp suffered painful surprise. Thus the general tone of public opinion became contemptuous. It also became to some extent hostile, for the muster was an interruption of work, often highly inconvenient. Yet another circumstance which discredited the training day was the intemperance that occasionally marked it. Canada in the first half of the nineteenth century was far from being an abstemious country, and about mid-century the total abstinence movement was only beginning. The men who came to the muster were often in a bad temper, and the officers were subjected to the temptation of pacifying them by what is termed hospitality. At that period there was hard drinking at most gatherings. It must be borne in mind, too, that many descriptions of training day make no mention of excessive drinking. Still, the muster was going out of favour.


The Crimean War is associated with the commencement of the reorganization of the land forces of the British Empire, a reorganization in which British North America shared. The regular garrisons of the self-governing colonies, as distinguished from imperial stations proper, were first reduced and then withdrawn. The self-governing colonies made a beginning with the policy of taking a larger share in their own local defence.

It is necessary now to state what the old system had been costing the mother country. This cost must be reckoned both in terms of money and in terms of military efficiency. British statesmen adhered throughout this period to the principle of keeping the regular garrison substantially equal to the standing army of the United States. The figures are interesting:

YearRegular Troops in British North AmericaAmerican Army Establishment

The annual cost of these troops to the British taxpayer in 1850 was about £80 per man. Exact figures can be given for certain years. In 1858-59 the four original provinces of Confederation cost Great Britain £378,441. In 1861 the total cost to the British exchequer of the garrison of British North America was £413,566, made up as follows: Canada (2432 troops), £206,264; Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (1881 troops), £149,495; Newfoundland (239 troops), £20,807; British Columbia (138 troops), £37,000. British North America was not the only drain on the imperial purse; in 1861 the colonies proper, as distinguished from military posts like Gibraltar and Malta, cost £1,715,000 for military defence. In Canada during the decade 1841-51 the provincial revenue ranged from less than £400,000 to about £500,000 currency; during this period the average imperial military expenditure in Canada must have exceeded £500,000 sterling a year. That is, Great Britain expended more in safeguarding the province than the legislature did in administering it. During all this period the expenditure by the province on its militia was very slight, the force defraying most of its expenses from the receipts from fines for non-attendance. From 1851 to 1853, for example, the yearly appropriations by the legislature were about £2000 currency. These sums were mainly expended in the upkeep of the office of the adjutant-general, a provincial officer who administered the force.

During the period from the battle of Waterloo to the Crimean War the British regular army was dispersed over the world in an extraordinary manner. In 1821 the colonies absorbed 31,500 troops out of a total of 101,000; in 1854, 40,000 out of 140,000. In 1861, when the subject was examined with great care by a committee of the House of Commons, it appeared that garrisons were maintained in no less than thirty-four oversea possessions or dependencies,[4] and that during the decade then closing these detachments had accounted for an average of 42,600 men. In 1861, out of 41,600 men in garrisons abroad, 20,900 were posted in purely imperial fortresses and stations and 20,600 in colonies that might be expected to contribute to, or indeed to provide for, their own defence and internal tranquillity. This system of detachments prevented the adoption of short service and the linked battalion system, with the concomitants of a large reserve, a systematic feeding of foreign garrisons, and the provision of a powerful striking force. The army lacked the means of rapid and effectual expansion. In June 1854 the force that wealthy and powerful England sent to the Crimea was only some 30,000 strong; by May 1855 she had reinforced it with only 21,500 men, many of these being immature lads unsuited for campaigning. The remedy could only be applied by drawing to England the 20,000 men scattered among the self-governing colonies. In time, under Edward Cardwell, this was effected and the army was re-formed. In 1882 Great Britain with conspicuous ease sent to Egypt a force not far short of the army that she had mustered with difficulty in 1854; in the South African War the army system kept 150,000 regular troops abroad for two years; and the expeditionary force of 1912 stands at 160,000. At the base of these vast improvements lay the withdrawal of the garrisons from the colonies.

The process of diminution was leisurely and was not continuous. Colonial garrisons were stripped to reinforce the army before Sebastopol, but at the conclusion of the war there was an augmentation of the garrisons in British North America, partly because of the diplomatic difficulty with the United States arising from Howe’s efforts to recruit for the British army in New England, partly for the singular reason that England did not contain sufficient barrack accommodation for her own army, and had for a while to use the old oversea quarters. By 1861 the number had dropped; then the American Civil War and the Trent incident caused it to be increased to 17,000 men. Reduction was recommenced in earnest in 1867 and was completed in 1871 when Quebec was evacuated, leaving the garrisons of Halifax and Esquimalt the only imperial troops in British North America.

Before this portion of the sketch is completed reference must be made to two regular regiments that are still remembered in Canada, the Royal Canadian Rifles (colloquially termed the ‘Bull Frogs’) and the 100th Royal Canadians. The former of these was a ‘colonial corps’ maintained in Canada by the imperial authorities. Desertion was prevalent among the regular troops, owing to the attraction the high civil wages paid locally exercised over the younger soldiers. To meet this, recourse was had to a localized corps of old soldiers, near their time for pension, and so more inclined to be steady. The regiment was formed in 1840 and was recruited by allowing men to volunteer into it from line regiments about to leave the colony. The battalion, which was 1100 strong, was a fine body of men, said to have more medals than any other regiment in the service. It was useful for garrison work, though the age of the men and the absence of any provision for a reserve made it less suited for service in the field. The regiment furnished a detachment of a hundred men for service in the Red River colony in 1861. It was disbanded in 1871. In 1858, during the excitement caused by the Indian Mutiny, popular interest in the defence of the Empire took the form of raising an additional battalion for the regular army. The 100th Royal Canadians, as it was designated, left Canada to take its place in the roster of the regular army; Canada supplied the men and the officers, the mother country bore the expense. A depot was maintained in Canada for three years and then discontinued; after that no arrangements were made for continuing the enlistment of men, the regiment had to find its subsequent recruits elsewhere, and its connection with the country disappeared with the passing of the first batch of men. When the regular army was territorialized it was assigned to Ireland and became the 1st battalion of the Leinster regiment. It retains its reminiscent title of Royal Canadians in a parenthetical way,[5] and in 1900 there were two 'Royal Canadian’ battalions in South Africa, this Irish battalion and the first contingent sent by the Dominion.

When the governments of British North America were bidden to develop their native forces, they turned to volunteering, in preference to the development of the old militia. It has already been noted that the militia was not in high esteem. What military spirit there was in the country expressed itself in the form of association in small voluntary corps, such as the troops of cavalry near Toronto which for years had been kept in being by the personal exertions of the Denison family; the Montreal Fire Brigade, a species of infantry battalion; the special artillery company maintained by the Halifax militia, and the ‘uniform companies’ of artillery which maintained an existence in New Brunswick. It must be noted that two important developments altered the military problem. The regular garrison was no stronger than in 1812—was indeed less numerous—while the militia could have put over 100,000 men in the field. Simultaneously the isolation of earlier days had disappeared, and in the event of war far less time would have been available for mobilization. There was real need for a force that could be put into the field with reasonable celerity. In the winter of 1854-55 a commission consisting of Sir Allan MacNab, Colonel E. P. Taché and Colonel T. E. Campbell considered the problem of defence; the inclusion in so small a body of two important members of the administration testified to the seriousness with which the government regarded the question. Colonel Baron de Rottenburg, assistant adjutant-general, was secretary. Its deliberations and report had as result the act of 1855, with its double system of ‘sedentary militia’ and ‘volunteers.’ The commission had declared that the principal reliance of the province for ‘effectual defence’ must be upon the sedentary militia, and that its prompt appearance in the field in an emergency, armed and equipped, was preferable to peace-time attempts at drill. The provisions for mobilization explicitly directed that when the militiamen had been drafted for ‘actual service’ they should be marched to such place as the commander-in-chief should appoint; they should perform this march under such officers as should be detailed by the commanding officer of their territorial battalion; arrived at the place of assembly they should be embodied into companies and battalions, in such manner as the commander-in-chief should direct; when so embodied they should be commanded by such officers as the commander-in-chief should think proper to appoint. The real innovation was with regard to arms. The commission proposed that for the immediate arming of the sedentary militia 50,000 smooth-bore muskets, with 100 rounds of ammunition for each, should be stored at a considerable number of places which would make convenient points of assembly, and that 50,000 further stand of arms should be kept in the principal arsenals of the province, such as Quebec and Kingston. The act gave legislative sanction to this suggestion. The imperial government had 22,000 stand of arms in the country; the Canadian government applied for these and contemplated paying for them, only to have the legislature refuse to make the appropriations.

The commission also recommended the formation of a volunteer force that should (1) provide other branches of the service than the infantry of which the sedentary militia would be composed, and (2) attain a proficiency which would enable its members to assist the sedentary militia when ‘actually embodied for service.’ A separate division of the act was devoted to the ‘active or volunteer militia companies.’ The establishment of these was placed at 16 troops of cavalry, 7 field batteries, 5 foot companies of artillery and 50 companies of rifles, the total strength not to exceed 5000. Seven ‘volunteer marine companies’ also were authorized. Engineer companies were mentioned but not provided for in peace time. The legislature undertook to provide the arms and accoutrements. The uniforms were to be supplied by the volunteers themselves. The care of arms, which experience proved to be a difficult problem, was touched on vaguely, three expedients being mentioned—entrusting them to the individual volunteers, charging the captain with their care, or providing armouries; the weapons provided were Enfield muzzle-loading rifles, then the newest type of small-arm. The Province of Canada paid the home government for these weapons.

The volunteer field batteries were to train for twenty days in the year, ten days being continuous. The other volunteer corps were to submit to training on ten consecutive days; the men might be encamped during the whole or a part of the training. They were to be paid for their drill, the rates ranging from $1 a day for a private to $2.10 a day for a captain. The volunteers were to be used to preserve internal tranquillity. Their period of service was five years; in peace a volunteer could leave on giving a month’s notice.

The nucleus of a militia department was enlarged. There was to be an adjutant-general (a colonel), two deputy adjutants-general, one for each division of the province (lieutenant-colonels), and each of the eighteen districts was to have an assistant adjutant-general (a major), who was to act as staff officer for the colonel commanding.

The volunteer force was to consist of a number of separate, unrelated companies; the act allowed them to be formed into battalions in war, but not in peace. This deliberate reluctance to form separate companies into battalions draws our attention to one feature of the new movement, a feature that exercised a lasting and unfortunate effect upon the Canadian forces. The volunteer companies authorized by the legislature plainly were designed to be auxiliaries of a regular army, and, indeed, of the sedentary militia when mobilized. The purely Canadian headquarters, the adjutant-general’s office, had no other function than to hand over to the regular army a set of volunteer companies and militia recruits. The work of administration, other than the mere providing of men, was left to the regulars, and the provincial authorities seem to have ignored the fact that administrative work is necessary to an armed force. The imperial government maintained a large medical staff in the country; it usually had over twenty commissariat officers in Canada and the Maritime Provinces, and the staff that kept the machine working was very large. Into this completely organized machine the isolated volunteer corps quietly fitted. When they camped they were fed by imperial commissariat agents, their sick were cared for in imperial hospitals, and their arrangements were made for them by imperial staff officers. From the financial standpoint the situation was that the province paid for a number of separate corps, but bore no share of the cost of the staff and administrative work by which the corps profited, and no share of what British administrators of that time expressively term the dead-weight of the system—what in modern business terminology is styled the overhead cost.

There was no question about the popularity of the new force; corps were raised so rapidly that in 1856 the law was modified by the provision that unpaid companies might be raised; the paid companies were to be styled Class A, the unpaid ones Class B. By January 1857 the Class A category had an establishment of 4565 and a strength of 3652; there were 16 troops of cavalry, 7 field batteries, 4 companies of foot artillery and 34 rifle companies, with 29 field guns. In Class B were 6 troops of cavalry and 17 rifle companies; the establishment was 1500 and few of the corps were organized. By 1858 the Class A volunteers had attained a strength of 4724 effectives, while in Class B there were 22 corps, those which were organized having about 560 effectives. Thus the volunteer force had a total strength of some 5300. During this period the expenditure suddenly increased to between $150,000 and $200,000 a year. It included little beyond what was spent on arms, accoutrements and drill pay. The men bought their own uniforms; in one company in Montreal the expense on this account was $70 each, and the price of the private’s outfit in some of the Toronto companies ranged from $18 to $24. The effect was to confine membership to the well-to-do. The fact that the men owned the clothing soon proved a great inconvenience.

The enrolment of the sedentary militia was kept up. In 1857 there were 427 battalions, some 60 of which were not organized, with 244,000 men; in 1858 there were 443 battalions, of which 394 were organized, and 275,000 men on the lists. The actual number liable for service probably was 300,000. That is, 300,000 men of military age supplied 5300 volunteers, or 1·76 per cent. In 1858 the flank companies make their last appearance; the historic Lincoln militia furnished two uniformed flank companies and were given 100 ‘percussion muskets,’ i.e. smooth-bores.

In 1858 and 1859 the government found itself in financial straits as a result of the great panic of 1857; it had to retrench, and among other things cut down the expenditure on defence to sums varying from $60,000 to $100,000. The instrument by which it effected that reduction was the act of 1859, which aroused great resentment among the volunteers. The number of corps in Class A was lessened; their establishment was reduced; the annual drill dropped to twelve days for the field artillery and six days for the other arms. The post of adjutant-general was abolished, and the whole administration was marked by pinching economy. A few of the provisions of the act were constructive: permission was given to form separate companies into battalions, and the volunteers were to be inspected. Under the new order of things the number of the volunteers fell to 4400 and the force was greatly depressed.

Such was the position of the indigenous forces of Canada when the storm of the American Civil War broke on the continent. Hostilities began in April 1861. In September we find the government of Canada—presided over by E. P. Taché and John A. Macdonald—realizing the danger of its position, and addressing a minute to the governor setting forth the defenceless position of the province. There were only 15,000 rifles in store; of modern artillery there was none; in eight weeks navigation would close, and the only line of communication with England would be through the United States. As late as 1839 the old system had provided reasonable safety; the new system, complicated as it was by the recent rapid changes in armaments, failed to guarantee security. The government asked for 100,000 rifles and a proportion of artillery, and hoped that the legislature would ‘organize an efficient force to be drawn from the ranks of the sedentary militia.’ Britain instantly sent 30,000 rifles, artillery ammunition, greatcoats and blankets. In November occurred the explosion over the Trent incident and British North America was threatened with war.

While the government asked the imperial authorities for more rifles and for clothing for 100,000 sedentary militia, volunteers enlisted in numbers. By the end of the winter of 1862 the new force was rather over 14,000 strong—cavalry, 1615; artillery, 1687; engineers, 302; infantry, 10,615. The infantry had 182 companies, of which 89 were grouped in 12 battalions, the remaining 93 being independent. Allowing for the ‘volunteer militia’ of the lower provinces, there were about 19,000 volunteers in British North America. In 1861 Canada had about 500,000 men under forty, and the Maritime Provinces about 125,000; so that the volunteers numbered about three per cent of the men of military age in the country.

Popular ardour showed itself in volunteering. But the authorities were observing certain characteristics of this type of force:

1. At this moment, when war threatened and martial ardour ran high, many companies had fallen to pieces. It was plain that in a volunteer force much depended on the personal qualities of a few officers.

2. Volunteering appealed to the towns, and not to the country. The cities of Canada, with 275,000 population, supplied 8525 volunteers, or 33 per 1000; the rural regions, with 2,250,000 population, 16,485, or 7⅓ per 1000. This was after vigorous attempts to interest the country districts in the new force.

3. Few volunteer corps mustered, for inspection at least, up to their very small establishments; in 1864 the 402 corps paraded 15,173 all ranks, or less than 38 per company.

Meanwhile a series of political events determined the future of the Canadian militia. In January 1862 a strong commission was appointed to consider the question of defence. The political members were Georges É. Cartier, John A. Macdonald, A. T. Galt and Sir Allan MacNab; Colonel Campbell, C.B., and Colonel Cameron represented the provincial forces; and Colonel Daniel Lysons, C.B., a regular officer with experience with British volunteers, who was sent out for the purpose, represented the imperial point of view. The report of this commission, dated March 15, 1862, constitutes another strong plea for the recognition of the sedentary militia as the real defence of the provinces. It declared that the situation demanded a Canadian active force of 50,000 men, a Canadian reserve of the same number, a strong body of regular troops, and command of the Great Lakes. The native forces should consist of: (1) volunteer militia corps raised in the cities; (2) active battalions of ‘regular militia’ to be raised in the rural districts. As for the ‘regular militia,’ each regimental district should be divided into ‘sedentary battalion divisions’ and should be subdivided into ‘sedentary company divisions’; each regimental division should furnish one ‘active’ and one ‘reserve’ battalion, ‘to be taken as nearly as practicable in equal proportions from the male population of such division, between the ages of 18 and 45.’ Cities were to be regarded as military districts and to furnish volunteer militia in lieu of ‘active battalions of regular militia,’ the authorities having the power to raise regular militia in them if they failed to furnish the full complement of volunteers. The proposed force was to be:

Upper Canada—4149 ‘volunteer militia,’ 23,382 ‘regular militia,’ total 27,531. The force to consist of 27½ battalions of infantry, 5 battalions of garrison artillery, 7 field batteries and 16 troops of cavalry.

Lower Canada—5144 ‘volunteer militia,’ 17,369 ‘regular militia,’ total, 22,513. The force to consist of 24 battalions of infantry, 3 battalions of garrison artillery, 3 field batteries and 11 troops of cavalry.

Thus the whole force would be 50,000. The distribution by arms would be: infantry, 41,400; garrison artillery, 6400; artillery, 850; cavalry, 1350. At six guns to the battery the field guns would number 60. The battalion was to be about 850 all ranks. The reserve force was to duplicate this first line.

The recommendations with regard to training caused the rejection of this plan. For the filling of the ‘regular militia’ the familiar machinery of volunteering backed by the ballot was prescribed. Every ‘active battalion’ was to be called out yearly; the usual period of training was to be twenty-eight days, and it was never to be less than fourteen days; recruits who had not been present at any former training were to have fourteen days’ additional training, and it should be within the power of the commander-in-chief to call out the reserve force for six days’ training in each year. The militia should be encamped when practicable, and trained to camp life. The volunteer militia should be required to train for the same number of days as the regular militia, under circumstances suited to its convenience—with the proviso that some portion of the time be consecutive and in the summer months, so as to train each corps to battalion movements. The annual muster of the sedentary militia was to be continued. The period of service was to be three years in the regular militia and five years in the volunteer militia. In war a militiaman’s compulsory service was to be one year, or at most eighteen months. A staff of considerable size, including permanent adjutants and sergeant-majors for battalions, was recommended. The officers of the volunteer and regular militia were to be required to pass examinations as to their military qualifications, and ages for retirement were laid down. Provision of a modest kind was to be made for the payment of officers—$1 for each day of actual service. The pay of privates and non-commissioned officers was to be 50c. a day. The official estimate of the cost was $1,110,090 a year, or slightly over ten per cent of the provincial revenue. This plan was not realized; the volunteers were destined to triumph; the old militia system was to come to an end. John A. Macdonald, who was the minister responsible for military matters, moved the adoption of the measure in a speech that betrayed a consciousness that he was essaying a difficult task; the government was weak and the proposals were unpopular. The opposition attacked the bill fiercely; there was a secession, the government was defeated, and Cartier and Macdonald retired from office. Sandfield Macdonald and Louis Victor Sicotte succeeded them, expressly pledged against schemes so extensive.

The policy of the new administration was set forth in two acts, one for the volunteers, the other for the militia. In brief it was a substantial strengthening of the volunteers; an attempt to continue the militia organization, but to make this expressly inferior and subordinate to the volunteers; and an improvement in the training of the officers. The able-bodied men of the country were to be divided into three categories: (1) the volunteers, to be increased to 35,000; (2) the ‘service militia,’ divided into battalions of 850 all ranks, formed by aid of the ballot, liable to six days’ drill in the year, and officered by men with some military qualifications; (3) the ‘non-service militia,’ answering to the old sedentary militia. The volunteers were to be supplied with clothing, but were to receive no pay, though money was to be given as ‘proficiency prizes.’ Provision was made for the first time for the official encouragement of rifle-shooting. Volunteer officers were to be senior to militia officers of the same rank; they were to qualify at the military schools which were authorized by this legislation. Outside the provision for military schools the Militia Act requires little attention, as the older force was rapidly falling into desuetude. There were the familiar provisions about drafting men and posting them to ‘first-class service,’ ‘second-class service’ and ‘reserve’ battalions; the period of service was increased to three years. Every third year the municipal authorities by means of the lot were to place the names of those on the rolls upon a roster, and the men were to be called out in this order; thus the battalions would be disbanded and reconstructed every third year. Under the act of 1863 there were enrolled 111 battalions of 795 men each, or some 89,000 altogether. The old general muster, which for some years had been suspended by executive act, now shrank to an annual muster of the service men posted to organized ‘service battalions.’ There was an enrolment in 1869 and another in 1871. Then it became the custom to postpone by act of parliament each enrolment as it came due. This continued till the act of 1883 removed the injunction from the statute book, though enrolment remained permissive. So ended the last vestige of the old militia of Canada.

The great achievement of the policy of the Sandfield Macdonald ministry was the provision of training for officers. Henceforward no officer of the service militia was to be appointed or promoted, except provisionally, until he had satisfactorily passed through the ‘school of military instruction,’ or had sustained the questioning of an examining board. To enable officers and candidates for commissions in the volunteers and militia to perfect themselves, the commander-in-chief might establish a school in each of the two great divisions of the province, and for that purpose might enter into arrangements with the officer commanding Her Majesty’s forces in British North America, for the best means of effecting this in connection with any regular regiment or regiments; for this purpose $100,000 was to be appropriated.

The provision of military schools was a great boon to the volunteer force. The services of several regiments of the regular army were utilized, and classes of officers and candidates for commissions were formed at Toronto and Quebec, and later at Montreal, Kingston, Hamilton and London. The maximum period of attendance was three months; candidates taking a second-class certificate, to the effect that they were competent to command a company, were given a grant of $50; on taking a first-class certificate, guaranteeing that the holder could drill a battalion, a further grant of $50 was given. Uniform, subsistence and travelling expenses were allowed; the officers and candidates attending were not admitted to the mess of the regiment furnishing the instruction. The province paid allowances to the imperial officers, non-commissioned officers and men engaged in the work of instruction. The schools were eagerly attended; by January 1865 over 500 certificates had been taken, half of each class, and 200 aspirants were in attendance; by April 30, 1866, over 700 first and 1400 second class certificates had been granted, and nearly 250 pupils were at the schools. Instruction in the schools was supplemented in the autumn of 1865 by the famous three weeks’ camp at Laprairie under Colonel Garnet Wolseley, afterwards the commander-in-chief of the British army. Cadets to the number of 1000 from all parts of the province were assembled and given an excellent training, the individual being ‘employed in turns upon all military duties, from that of regimental field officer down to that of private sentinels.’ The scheme of instruction was judicious, and the teaching was at once strict, thorough and sympathetic. It is to be observed, of course, that this is one phase more of the old question of imperial help. At the Toronto and the Quebec school alike there was a complete battalion, and each school was a by-product of the battalion’s work. Each battalion cost the home government about $300,000 a year, so that the sum which the provincial government appropriated was about a seventh of the total cost of the institution by which Canada profited so much.

By the middle sixties the country had definitely settled down to trusting to a paid volunteer force, which now was termed the ‘volunteer militia.’ When John A. Macdonald returned to power the new government accepted the popular preference. It was evident, however, that volunteering proper was unsuited to the country districts; the evening drill to which the town corps trusted was not practicable in farming communities; and the difficulty was perplexing.

[1] Including the garrison in Bermuda.

[2] The strength was about 4000.

[3] Establishment as reduced on the termination of the Mexican War. During that struggle it was nearly 31,000.

[4] Prince Edward Island was the only colony without a garrison. The troops had been withdrawn in 1854, the reason assigned by the imperial authorities being that desertion was excessive, and that the local authorities in their desire for settlers failed to assist in preventing it.

[5] It is described in the Army List as the 1st Leinster (Royal Canadians).


Such test as the new organization was called upon to undergo was furnished by the frontier troubles, which reached their climax in the Fenian raid of 1866, and sputtered out in the demonstration of 1870. The first frontier dangers originated in Canada, and the government had to undertake duties of repression; for Confederates and Confederate sympathizers within the province planned a series of attacks upon the Northern States, the countenancing of which would have been as inexcusable infringements of neutrality as were the filibustering attacks of 1838 and 1839. One outrage, the raid upon St. Albans in Vermont, actually was perpetrated in October 1864, and it became absolutely necessary for Canada to guard her frontier. The regular troops employed for the purpose were supplemented by three provisional battalions of volunteers, about 2000 strong, who were on service from the end of December 1864 until the end of April 1865. For political reasons these companies were grouped in battalions so as to bring the men of Canada East and Canada West together; companies were moved from Quebec to Windsor and from Woodstock to Laprairie. The headquarters of the battalions were at Windsor, Niagara and Laprairie. The volunteers were placed under the command of the officer commanding the regular troops in British North America, and so came under the articles of war. The reply to the call was prompt, but the four months’ absence from business was a considerable hardship, and when in November 1865 the government found it necessary to place another force of ten companies, 700 men, at various frontier points, there was little volunteering and in some corps the draft was necessary. Towards the end of 1865 the Fenian Brotherhood commenced its activities, alarms were frequent, and the volunteers often furnished guards to protect their armouries from attack or incendiarism.

On March 7, 1866, Fenian menaces provoked a more serious call to arms. The order was for 10,000 volunteers; ‘they must be out in 24 hours,' John A. Macdonald’s[1] order ran, ‘and for three weeks and whatever further time may be required.’ The adjutant-general, Colonel Patrick MacDougall,[2] received the order by 4 p.m. on the 7th, and by 4 p.m. on the 8th the corps notified were assembled at their headquarters, not 10,000 but 14,000 strong, the men having turned out in greater numbers for service than for inspection. Colonel MacDougall declared that 30,000 men could have been assembled in forty-eight hours. This force of 14,000 comprised the following units:

Upper Canada—cavalry, 2 troops; field artillery, 5 batteries; garrison artillery, 6 batteries; naval volunteers, 3 companies; infantry, 6 battalions and 85 independent companies. Total, 107 units.

Lower Canada—cavalry, 7 troops; field artillery, 2 batteries; garrison artillery, 2 batteries; engineers, 2 companies; infantry, 10½ battalions and 27 independent companies. Total, 51 units.

To mobilize this moderate-sized force orders had to be issued by the district officers to 158 units. The supply of artillery for the 14,000 men was only 24 field guns, or less than two guns per 1000 men. The provision of cavalry, 9 troops, is surprisingly small, as frontier service would mean much patrolling, and there were about 20 troops on the lists. The corps when brought to the frontier were associated in numerous small battalions. On March 28 all but 17 companies were relieved from ‘permanent duty.’ After March 31 the frontier was guarded by a string of posts, held by about 5300 men, all infantry: 3573 at nine places in Upper Canada, and 1717 at a greater number of places in Lower Canada. In April these corps were relieved by others, the screen being kept up. During these months the volunteers naturally got a considerable amount of drill. Their numbers rose to 25,000, and in addition two special corps were raised—the Civil Service Rifles, and a corps of some 2000 Grand Trunk Railway employees formed into six battalions, apparently to guard, as well as to work, the railway lines of communication.

Beyond keeping these forces afoot the Canadian government did nothing in the way of preparation for campaigning. Through the latter half of May 1866 intelligence was received from many quarters that a Fenian invasion was imminent. During the last week of the month it was known that a Fenian concentration at Buffalo was in progress; yet no arrangements were made. On June 1 the Fenians landed at Fort Erie. On May 31 the adjutant-general was ordered to call out 14,000 volunteers. They were ready within twenty-four hours. On June 2 all the rest of the force was called out, and on June 3 the province had more than 20,000 men under arms. There was the same readiness to offer service for actual fighting that had characterized the earlier mobilization. Sixty Canadians hastened from Chicago to offer their services to their country, and instances occurred of farmers marching into the county town armed with rusty musket and pitchfork. In a couple of days the following forces were on hand at the several points of possible attack:

Niagara frontier—approximately 975 regulars, 1800 militia, total 2775; 6 guns.

London frontier—800 regulars, 2000 volunteers, total 2800; 10 guns.

St Lawrence frontier—1542 regulars, 3514 volunteers, total 5056; 11 guns.

Lower Canada frontier—1320 regulars, 1276 volunteers, total 2596; 12 guns.

At Montreal—800 regulars, 900 volunteers, total 1700; 2 guns.

At Quebec—960 regulars, 579 volunteers, total 1539; 4 guns.

A total of some 16,500 men and 45 guns.

In addition there were large bodies of volunteers at detached posts and assembled in readiness at their homes. When we reflect that the Fenians at Fort Erie brought between 1000 and 1500 men across the river, with no artillery, no cavalry and no stores or supplies of any kind, the madness of their enterprise is apparent. The operations on the Niagara frontier were unsatisfactory, in that the Fenians inflicted a check on a detached force and then escaped, whereas they should have been crushed. Early on the morning of June 1 the Fenians crossed the river and took possession of Fort Erie. At noon on the same day Port Colborne was occupied by 400 volunteers; at 11 p.m. these were reinforced to a strength of 840, all infantry. At nightfall on June 1 Colonel Peacocke was at Chippawa with 400 regular infantry, 200 regular artillery with 6 guns, and 150 regulars and 765 volunteers in support at St Catharines. Early on June 2 Colonel Peacocke moved with some 1500 men and 6 guns from Chippawa towards Stevensville, to join the Port Colborne force. At 7 a.m. on June 2 there were in the immediate theatre of operations British forces aggregating some 2800 men with 6 guns, and no cavalry. The Fenians brought into action some 800 or 900 men, all infantry except for a few mounted scouts. So far as putting men on the frontier went, the authorities had heavily outnumbered the Fenians within twenty-four hours of the landing of the marauders.

The showing is less satisfactory in other respects. The preliminary distribution was made with bad judgment and shows great lack of forethought. Had some competent officer like Colonel Wolseley been directed to prepare a plan of defence in advance, the story would have been different. Assuming the soundness of the plan of placing one column at Port Colborne and another at Chippawa, we may be sure that (1) the three or four troops of cavalry available would have been sent to the front first, instead of being sent twenty-four hours later than the infantry; (2) the Welland field battery would have retained its guns and the Hamilton field battery would have been sent on with the rest of the forces; (3) the Port Colborne column would have comprised at least a troop of cavalry and a battery of artillery, as well as a couple of battalions of infantry; (4) Peacocke’s seizure of Chippawa would have been covered by a cavalry screen that would have facilitated his subsequent march; (5) the Port Colborne column would have been commanded by a specially selected officer, sufficiently senior not to be superseded by the chance arrival of a regimental officer, and provided with a proper staff. Thus, with no greater effort, the concentration would have been one of 2300 infantry, 150 cavalry, and 14 guns. The Port Colborne column would have had 840 infantry, sufficient cavalry to prevent surprise, and guns enough to have supported its attack; also, its movements would hardly have been so eccentric. As it was, the luckless column consisted of 840 men on foot; it had neither cavalry, artillery, staff nor transport; the only horse with it was that ridden by the regimental officer who accidentally found himself a brigadier. On paper a force composed exclusively of infantry that goes rambling about the country in the presence of an enemy is likely to come to grief, and so it proved in fact. Peacocke’s force, through the eccentric mobilization that dispatched his cavalry to the front last instead of first, had to advance upon Chippawa unprotected by proper reconnaissance, and lost much time on June 2 through the same lack.

The other arrangements were incredibly bad; the merits of the mobilization end with the alacrity shown by the men and the rapidity with which they were hurried to the frontier. For several days there was no commissariat service worthy of the name, and the country’s soldiers were saved from destitution by the charity of civilian relief committees. The troops sent from Toronto on June 1 were on June 4 relieved from actual lack of food by the arrival of a trainload of supplies which their fellow-townsmen had collected on the previous day and dispatched to Fort Erie. On the Eastern Townships frontier it was necessary to have recourse to the same expedient. Not only was the commissariat bad; the equipment of the volunteers was most discreditable. Several regiments were in need of boots ten days after the mobilization. They had few or no haversacks, and in consequence went long periods without food. There was a scarcity of water-bottles and the men suffered agonies from thirst; they had no camp cooking utensils and ate their food without plates, knives or forks. Many, with the cheerful irresponsibility that is the peculiar property of the private soldier, regular or irregular, went to the front without a change of underclothing. The majority wore boots that crippled them. The cavalry volunteers took the field without picket ropes, with ordinary hunting saddles, without carbines, and with revolvers having shooting powers which were the subject of grave doubt. The superior officers were unprovided with maps. Yet there had been constant alarms since 1864, and the Fenian Brotherhood had been threatening invasion since 1865.

In themselves the raids need scant attention. The Fenians had intended the raid at Fort Erie to be one of a set of concentrated movements that were to include an attack on Prescott, from which town a line of railway led to Ottawa, and an invasion of the Eastern Townships; but the combination broke down. On June 7 about 1800 Fenians crossed the frontier of Lower Canada and did some plundering at Pigeon Hill and Frelighsburg, but they scattered before the British forces without a fight. Sundry demonstrations opposite Prescott, Brockville, Cornwall and the Eastern Townships came to nothing, though they imposed much labour on the Canadian forces. Four years later, in May 1870, a still more farcical attempt at raiding the Eastern Townships was made, and some hundreds of Fenians, of a type much inferior to those of 1866 (who in large part had been trained soldiers), assembled at St Albans in Vermont, and attempted to cross the frontier at a point commanded from the Canadian side by a strong natural position known as Eccles Hill. The filibusters at once came under the fire of an outpost on the hill composed of a few volunteers and some thirty local farmers armed with rifles and styling themselves a ‘Home Guard.’ The fire of this party was sufficient to repulse the Fenians ignominiously. Further west a crowd of Fenians gathered at Malone in New York and crossed the border, only to be summarily evicted by the local volunteer regiment, supported by a company of regulars that did not find it necessary to fire a shot. So ended the Fenian raids, except for a slight attempt in 1871 on the border of Manitoba; in this case the United States troops arrested the Fenians in time to save them from the necessity of fighting a party of Canadians which was approaching the frontier.

In the autumn of 1866 there occurred an episode that had a marked effect upon the future development of the armed forces of Canada. Apprehensions as to Fenian descents continued, and in August a volunteer camp of exercise was formed at Thorold, a convenient point on the Welland Canal from which to guard the Niagara frontier. Some regulars formed a ‘permanent brigade nucleus,’ and 6000 volunteers were passed through the camp. The training lasted for seven weeks, the volunteers coming in successive batches for a week’s training, there being two or three battalions at a time in camp. A similar camp was projected at St Johns, near Montreal, but fell through. Except for the special camp at Laprairie in 1865—which was for the purpose of training officers, not rank and file—this was the first experiment in training the ordinary corps in camp. The process of associating the scattered companies in battalions went on vigorously, the authorities probably having had enough of issuing orders to one or two hundred units in order to put ten thousand men in the field.

Confederation in 1867 found Old Canada, now the separate provinces of Ontario and Quebec, with a volunteer militia consisting of corps having an establishment of nearly 40,000 and a strength of about 33,750. Of the 31,000 volunteers proper (for two or three thousand men were accounted for by two special corps, the Civil Service Rifles and the Grand Trunk Brigade) over 21,000 were in Ontario and rather less than 10,000 in Quebec. The force was better found than in 1866, the whole of the infantry having been equipped with haversacks, water-bottles and greatcoat straps in lieu of knapsacks; there were some reserve stores of these articles, and of boots, knapsacks and ammunition. The field batteries had new guns—muzzle-loading 9-pounders and 24-pounder howitzers—and new carriages, harness and stores. Most of the cavalry had Spencer repeating rifles, but an inadequate supply of saddlery. The infantry had Snider rifles; the short reign of the muzzle-loading rifle was over, and the province had 30,000 breech-loaders, then the best in existence, which were to be the weapons of the force for thirty years. The military schools were doing good work; by the end of 1867 the officers of the two provinces had taken 3600 certificates, of which nearly 1000 were first class. There was no sign of departmental corps, though the latest legislation authorized such formations. There had been a brisk building of drill sheds, and the country had 107 at the end of 1867. There was active encouragement of rifle shooting; ranges were being laid out, targets procured, liberal prizes offered. There were several improvised gun-boats on the St Lawrence River and the Lakes—rather to the annoyance of the United States. The headquarters organization was beginning to be overtaxed.

[1] Macdonald was minister of Militia (a post created by the act of 1863) as well as prime minister.

[2] Afterwards Field-Marshal Sir Patrick MacDougall.


The system that grew up in Old Canada governed the subsequent development of the forces of the Dominion.

The Maritime Provinces, however, had defence systems of their own that must be noticed; that of Nova Scotia presents points of unusual interest.

Nova Scotia in 1861 contained about 85,000 men liable to service, there being 58,000 between the ages of 18 and 45, and 27,000 between 45 and 60. In January 1859 the lieutenant-governor, the Earl of Mulgrave, after a survey of the field, reported to the Colonial Office that the militia existed only on paper. He proposed raising a volunteer force, the men to drill gratuitously and to furnish their own uniforms. With some difficulty he induced the home government to supply the rifles and accoutrements free. Mulgrave also exerted himself to start the recruiting for the volunteers, which soon was brisk. It will be convenient to give at once a summary of the progress of this force:

1861(about)30companies  (about)1,500effectives.

This rapid rise and sudden drop in the volunteer force must be read alongside the figures setting forth the development in the militia:

YearBat­talionsEnrolmentTrainedOfficers, totalOfficers qualified

Thus we observe that the drop in the number of volunteers coincides with a leap forward in the numbers, training and efficiency of the militia. Mulgrave and his adjutant-general, Colonel R. Bligh Sinclair, in fact, in 1860 laid down a plan of progressive reorganization, the deliberate and clear intention of which was that the volunteers should play a part subsidiary to the militia. The first plan proposed by Mulgrave was that each corps should be the volunteer company of the militia regiment, so that the establishment which he originally contemplated was 48 companies, each 60 strong, or 2880 all told. This idea, however, was soon abandoned. At the end of 1862 we find the adjutant-general demanding that volunteers and militia go ‘hand in hand,’ By the end of 1863, at once the high-water year for the volunteers and the year of the long step forward with the militia, the adjutant-general, noting that the average strength of the volunteer companies was 42, recommended (1) that corps with less than 45 effectives be disbanded; (2) that in future no corps be authorized without the consent of the local militia commanding officer. What was happening was that the volunteer privates—often young men of the better classes—were taking out militia commissions.

Next year saw the drop in the numbers of the volunteers. The adjutant-general noted in his report that the companies had been drilling and uniforming fewer men than their rolls showed; that few of them were large enough for effective use; that while some volunteers helped in training the militia, others looked idly on; that at times militiamen were tempted to think that they could evade their compulsory service by joining a volunteer company and then neglecting it; and that the rifles of the volunteers were not cared for as well as could be wished. The volunteers of Halifax had been consolidated into a battalion;[1] with regard to the rest, the following policy was laid down:

1. Volunteer companies were urged to consolidate with the militia battalions of their district.

2. Volunteers hereafter formed to be ‘militia volunteers,’ and to be supervised by the commanding officers of their militia battalions.

3. Volunteers to be under the same training as the militia, such training to count in with any other work which they might do.

In short, the volunteers were shepherded back into the militia from which they had emerged. They had served to stimulate the military spirit, and often had been a species of officers’ training corps. The instability of such a force had been demonstrated; of the eighty companies organized, many had fallen to pieces before the pressure of the regulations had driven them into the ranks of the militia.

We may now turn to the militia, which had been the real object of the reorganization. An early difficulty—one which was never properly solved—was the supply of arms. The legislature of Nova Scotia could not be prevailed upon to buy rifles, and to the end of the period the militia remained unarmed. Leaving this weak spot, we may notice that the central machinery of organization and training consisted of the lieutenant-general, the adjutant-general, three or four inspecting officers borrowed from the imperial army, one or two staff-sergeants at headquarters, and a force of drill-sergeants which seldom exceeded twenty, also borrowed from the regulars. The regular army also afforded much incidental help. The inspecting officers and drill-sergeants moved assiduously about the country, sometimes enduring much hardship (for the favourite drill period was the winter), and instructed volunteers and militia officers and non-commissioned officers at their homes. In order not to interfere with business, three or four hours was considered a day’s work; and a militia officer qualified by an examination after twenty-eight days’ instruction. Thus the qualification was slighter than that given in the military schools of Canada. All the instruction was given locally; camps were not resorted to in Nova Scotia. The expenditure, it may be added, rose from $11,500 in 1861 to something over $20,000 in the following years, and was swollen in 1865, by some purchases of material, to $95,000.

The leading features of Lord Mulgrave’s plan may now be noticed. The object was the development of a large, organized, lightly trained force, under a considerable number of moderately well-trained officers, and capable of rapid mobilization. A good level seems to have been aimed at rather than a few crack corps. The volunteers were to be, not a separate force, but a means of developing the militia. The steps in the process were to be:

1. The reorganization and training of the officers. The rank and file were to be left alone until the inefficient officers had been removed and a sufficient number of leaders prepared.

2. Qualified non-commissioned officers to be obtained when the officer situation had been dealt with; and these to be given a considerable amount of responsibility and work.

3. Insistence on the officers and sergeants doing the detail work of enrolling, classifying and subdividing their men.

4. Once the framework of leaders was prepared, the calling out of the mass of the population for four or five days’ training in the year.

All this meant sweeping away the old officers and the old arrangements, and this was done with a thoroughness rare in a democratic community. The officers of the old force were nearly all over age, and they were replaced, the new requirements being youth, physical fitness, intelligence, ‘a reasonable amount of practical elementary education,’ and qualification. The process began in December 1860, and at the end of 1862 there were 851 applicants for commissions and 817 officers and cadets under training. In 1863 the system was well enough advanced to allow the calling out of the militia, and the five days’ training was a success; nearly 35,000 men responded, and their behaviour was characterized by ‘a cheerfulness and sober regularity’ which the authorities attributed to their finding trained officers able to instruct and handle them. There was general eagerness to be instructed. The training of the officers (who by this time had been put into uniform) had made such progress that the headquarters staff was considering the problem of the militia non-commissioned officer and the squadding of the force. The idea was to subdivide the company districts into smaller areas, in each of which a sergeant should be responsible for warning the men and otherwise working the system. This was never fully carried out, though some progress was made; one inducement discussed was the supplying of uniforms to qualified sergeants.

The ensuing years told a tale of progress, the people year by year turning out for drill, and the qualification of the leaders advancing. At the end of 1867, after the establishment of Confederation, we find Colonel Sinclair reporting that ‘the whole available militia force has now been called out for five days’ training for five successive years.’ He went on to make a singular suggestion. ‘The annual five days’ training of the whole force,’ he wrote, ‘has now fully attained the object originally aimed at—the complete organization of the whole force of martial age for administrative purposes, and giving them a tolerable idea of parade, discipline and marching, while the more intelligent have gained an amount of military knowledge which would be useful if required.’ He added that these gratuitous services must have been heavily felt, and went on to compute that the training of 45,767 men for 5 days was equivalent to 228,835 days; and that this again was equal to training 5448 men for six weeks—in his opinion the more advantageous period of training. Accordingly, he proposed that henceforward

the whole of the militia force of all arms, excepting those between the ages of 18 and 22 (attained), be formed into reserve for muster only during peace. This would give about 15,000 young men, minus those too remote to join, for militia, artillery and naval brigade service, together with such volunteers as could be induced to join, subject to such training as may be decided on. . . . These young men, from 18 to 22 years of age, to be subject to four years’ service, or such period as may be deemed best for administrative purposes and preliminary drill.

That is, he proposed in effect Lord Kitchener’s scheme for Australia and New Zealand.

The Nova Scotia system has been the subject of a good deal of praise, and there is, indeed, much to be admired in the skill with which the reorganization was carried through, and the loyalty with which the people rendered their stint of personal service; to the provision of competent leaders the masses responded with a fine public spirit. At the same time, it must be remembered that after all little had been done beyond laying the foundation for a system of mobilization. The men were neither armed nor clothed. Except for some garrison artillery, which in the case of Halifax could be expected to strengthen the garrison by about 1500 men reasonably well trained to the guns, the force consisted exclusively of infantry. There was no idea of a native army, complete in itself. It was purely a system designed to produce auxiliaries to an English army.

The military revival began to affect New Brunswick in 1860. While there were about 60,000 men of military age in the province, of whom 47,500 were ‘first class service’ men under 45, only 32,400 militia were enrolled, there being 1 cavalry regiment, 1 regiment of artillery and 34 regiments of infantry. There also were volunteers, who were carefully associated with the militia, their official designation being ‘companies of militia enrolled for voluntary drill and exercise.’ There were 50 of these companies, of which 31 were uniformed; the average strength was 37; and the province had about 1400 men more or less instructed in the rifle. The province had 3000 rifles, taken from the stores in Quebec and given to it free.

Revision of the law followed, the militia being divided into four categories: Class A, volunteers; Class B, single men and widowers without children, from 18 to 45; Class C, married men and widowers with children, from 18 to 45; sedentary militia, from 45 to 60. The enrolments under this system in successive years were:

YearClass AClass BClass CSedentaryTotal

The volunteers received no pay, but were given arms, ammunition, company allowances and cloth for their uniforms; they also enjoyed certain tax exemptions. Their attendance was small as compared with their nominal strength, and it became apparent that volunteering was not suited to farming districts. Several drill-sergeants, drawn from the regular troops, worked with the volunteers, militia officers being exhorted to fall into the ranks of these companies so as to profit by the teaching. In 1863 the St John volunteers, who were of old standing, were formed into a battalion. In 1865 a training camp of twenty-eight days was held, attended by 950 officers, non-commissioned officers and men, drawn from the various battalions of the force. This was repeated in 1866, but was not attended to the full establishment of 15 companies each of 63 all ranks.

Prince Edward Island had a militia system dating from 1782, which by the middle of the nineteenth century had fallen into desuetude. It also took to volunteering, and in 1859 the mother country gave it 1000 stand of rifles and 100,000 rounds of ammunition, following this up in 1860 and 1861 with additional gifts of field guns, rifles and munitions. The volunteer companies were associated with the territorial regiments of militia, but were sometimes known as the ‘volunteer brigade,’ the number of companies being 34 in 1863 and 33, with 756 effectives, in 1864. The militia law was remodelled, and by 1869 we find that the ‘regular militia’ had been enrolled and given from three to nine days’ training, though they had no arms. There were 16 regiments, which were 7119 strong, 1541 men being absent. The volunteers had 2 troops of mounted rifles, 2 companies of artillery, and 30 companies of rifles; they numbered altogether about 1800. By 1872, the year before union, the ‘regular militia’ had mustered 12,400 strong, and there were only 9 corps of volunteers—2 troops of mounted rifles, 2 batteries of artillery, and 5 companies of rifles with a strength of 455. The volunteers received no pay; in return for 16 drills in the year each secured a grant of $3.20 for his uniform. By this time the muzzle-loading Enfields with which the volunteers were armed were obsolete and of little use.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick shared in the Fenian alarms of 1866. In March there were rumours about a descent upon Halifax, while in April some hundreds of marauders gathered on the frontier of New Brunswick, accomplishing a slight violation of it at the island of Campobello. About 1000 local troops were called out—3 batteries of artillery and 14 companies of infantry; of the infantry 7 companies were volunteers and 7 were militia. In addition ‘Home Guards’ were formed; these were militiamen who met for drill, were armed, and supplied themselves with rough uniforms of scarlet flannel. Regular troops were sent from Halifax, the deficiency there being supplied by calling on the volunteers and militia to supplement the garrison; the Halifax volunteer battalion, for example, furnished 150 men for nearly two months. Throughout the whole of Nova Scotia about 15,000 militia were assembled ready for action; the rifle companies in the neighbourhood of Truro volunteered for service in New Brunswick. Speaking generally, however, the militia system, while suited for a general mobilization, proved not to lend itself as well as the volunteers to the instantaneous furnishing of a small force to deal with a petty raid; and Nova Scotia military opinion in 1866 and 1867 tended once more to the encouragement of the volunteers, who began to increase in numbers.

[1] Now the 63rd Halifax Rifles.


At the time of Confederation somewhat extensive plans of defence were in the air. Military opinion favoured certain permanent fortifications, notably the rearmament of Quebec and the construction of works to protect Montreal. A fortress at Fonthill to protect the Niagara frontier was also contemplated. The committee, consisting of John A. Macdonald, Georges É. Cartier, George Brown and A. T. Galt, which visited England in 1865, entered into an understanding whereby Canada undertook to construct works of defence at and west of Montreal, and to spend at least a million dollars a year in training the militia until Confederation was accomplished; Great Britain on her part engaged to complete the fortifications of Quebec, to provide the whole of the armament for the fortress, to guarantee a loan for the fortifications to be erected by Canada, and, in the event of war, to undertake the defence of every portion of Canada with all the resources of the Empire. The imperial government obtained legislation empowering it to guarantee a loan of £1,300,000 for this purpose, but the fortifications were not erected, and in 1872 an arrangement was effected whereby this guarantee of a military loan of £1,300,000 was exchanged for an imperial guarantee of a loan for £1,000,000 for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The Dominion adopted the system of a volunteering militia, which had been worked out in Old Canada. This was rather to the disgust of the Canadian volunteers, who had been led by their experiment in 1865 and 1866 to favour a ‘regular’ or compulsory militia. Many volunteers had suffered severely in purse during those years; no career was offered them, they paid the same taxes as their neighbours, they sacrificed the time in which they might have been earning money, and were actually at a disadvantage with the stay-at-home competitors whom they had been defending. The official reports of this time make frequent mention of the feeling of the force that service should be compulsorily equalized. The act of 1868, however, in effect continued the Canadian policy of 1863. It read as if it were establishing a system of universal training, for it continued the old theoretical liability to service, the old paper enrolment, and the usual elaborate classification of the population by age and family circumstances. The militia was divided into ‘active’ and ‘reserve.’ The active militia was subdivided into the ‘volunteer militia,’ the only force that had any real existence, the ‘regular militia,’ the old quota force, now and henceforward a phantom on paper, and the ‘marine militia,’ a form of service that had no driving force behind it and that soon faded away. The reserve militia comprised everybody whose name was not enrolled as belonging to one of these other categories. There were 186 regimental divisions, grouped into 22 brigade divisions, and these further combined in 9 military districts. The act contemplated the drilling and paying of 40,000 men, a figure that a few years later was increased to 45,000. Officers of the reserve also were to be drilled from eight to sixteen days a year. In practice the militia department contented itself with managing such corps as chose to continue in existence. The volunteers and militia of the old provinces came under the jurisdiction of the Dominion. The volunteer force at the outset comprised 37,170 men, contributed as follows: Ontario, 21,816; Quebec, 12,637; New Brunswick, 1789; and Nova Scotia, 928. This force was distributed among the several arms as follows: cavalry, 1386; field artillery, 719; garrison artillery, 3315; engineers, 116; infantry, 31,634. It was arranged that each province should contribute a quota to the 40,000 men who were to be paid for training, and efforts were made to recruit the volunteers in the more easterly provinces up to this establishment. In 1870 quota and actual enlistments compared as follows:

New Brunswick3,2643,327
Nova Scotia4,2844,192

Subsequently additional corps were raised, and had all the corps in existence been recruited up to their establishment they would have numbered about 45,000. In 1870 the force turned out in satisfactory strength when the Fenians made their last attempt. Ontario alone provided nearly 13,500 men with 18 guns and Quebec contributed considerable numbers. The force on this occasion was better organized and equipped than in 1866.

In these years an important innovation was made by those responsible for the force—that of the annual camps. Mention has been made of the camp held at Thorold under Wolseley’s command. This succeeded so admirably that it was repeated, and for several years the whole of the militia were annually assembled, at first for eight days, on one or two occasions for sixteen, and finally for twelve days. In 1869 many of the corps were billeted in their county towns; after that they were put under canvas. The expedient of the camp saved the rural volunteers from extinction; in Old Canada and in the Maritime Provinces it had been found that farmers could not be assembled for evening drills as townsmen could; the farmer could, however, at certain seasons take a fortnight’s holiday and devote the whole time to training. At first battalion camps were held, and then brigade camps, the latter being found to be much more advantageous. In these years the city corps attended camp with the rural regiments.

During the carrying out of these details of organization the imperial forces in Canada were steadily reduced. At last, in 1871, came the day when the Royal Artillery and the 60th Rifles—the two corps that had hoisted the British flag at Quebec in 1759—evacuated that place. The only imperial troops left in Canada were the 2000 or so who for thirty years continued to garrison Halifax. The most noticeable effect of the evacuation was the disappearance of the military schools, from 1864 to the end of 1870 these had granted nearly 6000 certificates. The Canadian authorities tried to replace these by forming schools at Toronto, Kingston and Montreal with the militia staff as instructors. The makeshift gave little satisfaction, and the means for military qualification suffered a decline. No attempt was made to utilize the garrison at Halifax for instructional purposes.

Prior to the withdrawal the Red River expedition took place. It became necessary to dispatch an armed force to assert Canadian jurisdiction over the prairie country acquired from the Hudson’s Bay Company, and Colonel Wolseley was selected to organize as well as to command it. The whole expedition comprised some 1400 men, a battalion of regulars[1] and two small battalions of Canadians, the Ontario and the Quebec Rifles, each 350 strong. Recruited from the militia, these Canadians in effect were regulars, for they were embodied for a considerable time. Recruiting began on May 1 and the two corps were raised with great celerity; the expedition started from Collingwood in June. After proceeding by water to 'Prince Arthur’s Landing'[2] in Thunder Bay the brigade had to traverse 660 miles of wilderness, rock, river and lake to Fort Garry.[3] Thanks to careful organization and forethought the journey was a brilliant success, and the appearance of the troops instantaneously pacified the disturbed prairie region. The cost was only about $500,000. The regulars returned at once, but the Canadian troops remained, and a permanent garrison was maintained at Winnipeg, ultimately taking the form of the Mounted Police. In 1871 a Fenian scare made it necessary to strengthen the force at Winnipeg, and a small expedition, 215 troops and 60 voyageurs, was forwarded late in the season. The orders were issued on October 12; by October 19 the men had been recruited and were at Collingwood; they left Thunder Bay on October 24 and arrived in Winnipeg on November 18, bringing the force up to 1150 men.

Collapse came in the early seventies. By 1871 deficiencies in numbers were beginning to appear. Then came the financial depression and the reduction of expenditure. The money spent on the militia from 1868 to 1876 ran from $1,000,000 to about $1,250,000; in 1877 it was cut down to $550,000, and it stayed at $600,000 or $700,000 for years; not until 1885 did it reach the million mark again. Until 1875 the number of militia trained ranged from 30,000 to 35,000; in 1876 it dropped to 23,000, and from that year until 1897 it was about 20,000. The drill period fell from 16 to 8 or 12 days; establishments were reduced, the company being cut down from 55 to 42; camps were almost abolished. The urban corps reverted to the old volunteer practice of evening drill at their armouries; the rural regiments were allowed to attend camp only in alternate years. The city corps in process of time forgot that they ever had attended camp, and came to regard that method of training as unsuited to their circumstances, and in this way arose the separation between city and rural corps. Owing to the long intervals between camps and to the disappearance of the understanding that a man who engaged to serve for three years should be obliged to hold to his contract, the rural corps when they did attend training were mere assemblages of raw men.

The advances of this period almost all lie outside the active militia, to employ the word now used of the voluntary service force. These advances may now be noticed.

First, there was some development as regards the command of the force. Originally an adjutant-general had organized it in peace time; the last of these adjutants-general was Colonel Robertson Ross, an able imperial officer who retired in 1873. In 1871 a statute was passed making the rank of major-general the highest in the force, and in October 1874 Major-General Selby Smyth was gazetted to ‘command’ the militia; the adjutant-general now became a subordinate of the major-general commanding. Selby Smyth was succeeded in 1880 by Major-General Luard, who was followed in 1884 by Major-General Middleton. The act of 1883 put the general commanding on a more definite footing; he was to be an imperial officer, at least of the rank of colonel, and a major-general in the militia. It was enacted that he ‘shall be charged, under the orders of Her Majesty, with the military command and discipline of the militia.’

Secondly, the Royal Military College at Kingston was founded in 1876. As an educational institution this has proved exceedingly successful. It was designed to give a general as well as a military education, the idea being that through its work the civilian population would contain a number of prominent men trained to be leaders in case of need. It thus has stood somewhat apart from the military system of the Dominion, many graduates omitting to give the benefit of their training to the armed forces of their country. Of late there has been some change, and since 1910 every cadet is compelled to take a commission in the militia, if he does not enter the imperial or permanent forces, and to serve at least three trainings. Up to July 1912, 89 graduates have entered the permanent force, of whom 7 have died, 7 have joined the Mounted Police, and 24 have entered non-military branches of the government service. About 150 have joined the imperial forces.

Thirdly, in 1883 a small arsenal was opened in Quebec. It has grown, and now makes artillery ammunition as well as large quantities of rifle cartridges.

Fourthly, this period saw the founding of the ‘permanent force,’ as the Canadian regular army is cautiously termed. The absolute need of a permanent artillery establishment was soon felt, if only to keep the works and arsenals at Quebec and Kingston from utter ruin. Two batteries, A and B, were raised in 1871 and stationed at these two places; later a third battery, C, was raised in British Columbia. At once a corps and a school, the force was excellently organized by two imperial officers, Colonel T. Bland Strange and Colonel G. A. French. It had a remarkable effect on the militia artillery, hitherto a backward arm. Now, under the stimulus of sympathetic instruction and careful inspection, it made progress that is one of the singular features of this dead period. The first intention in raising this corps was to make it a species of self-perpetuating school, not unlike the Swiss method of having each set of pupils instruct their immediate successors. The idea was to draft officers, non-commissioned officers and men from the militia batteries, give them a year’s training in the corps, and return them to the militia as instructors. The plan broke down in Canadian practice, and the men in the artillery schools soon became ordinary regular troops, there being a tendency to find recruits among time-expired men of the imperial army.

In 1884 the artillery schools were followed by the infantry and cavalry schools. The Cavalry School, which developed into the Royal Canadian Dragoons, was opened in Quebec; the first infantry schools, which ultimately became the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry, were stationed at Fredericton, St Johns and Toronto. Coming as the result of a long-continued agitation by Generals Selby Smyth and Luard, these schools were not as fortunate as the artillery in their relations with the active militia, and for years encountered more or less hostility within the force. The feeling that the money spent upon them was filched from the active militia possibly had its origin in remarks made by the generals. Both Selby Smyth and Luard, while recognizing the valuable military qualities of the rural infantry, and insisting that they were not treated fairly, despaired of their attaining efficiency, and suggested their abolition and the spending of the money so saved on permanent instructional corps.

Another feature of this period is the appearance of the Dominion Rifle Association and the Dominion and Ontario Artillery Associations. These semi-private associations for the encouragement of skill with the soldier’s weapons were encouraged by the Militia department and have played a considerable part in the development of the force. The rifle association has tended to emphasize individual, the artillery associations co-operative, skill.

A very serious feature of the military policy of Canada has its roots in this period. It has been remarked that the earlier forces were organized for the purpose of furnishing a congeries of ancillary units to an English regular army; the idea of a self-contained native army was broached only in Old Canada and was defeated there. Confederation removed from the Dominion the regular establishments around which the pre-Confederation regiments were to rally; it brought to Canadian statesmen no conception of the duty or the need of making a Canadian army out of the unrelated corps of the Canadian militia, and public opinion on the subject did not exist. A military force is an army when its organizers have borne two sets of considerations in mind. The fighting men must be grouped in certain proportions of cavalry, artillery and infantry; that is, there must be a just distribution of the three arms. Certain absolutely essential non-fighting adjuncts must be provided: (1) a head office, or staff; (2) the numerous departmental services that clothe the soldier, issue to him munitions of war, feed him, guard his health, pay him and perform a multitude of other services that are necessary if he is to fight effectually; (3) the provision of stores, i.e. tents, blankets, clothing, boots, ammunition and innumerable other things. The Canadian force was utterly deficient in each of these three departments. The administration was absurdly centralized, and the routine was such as to throw every possible obstacle in the way of organization in peace or expansion in war. There were no departmental corps; the departmental services were badly arranged, the custody and issue of such stores as existed being in civilian hands. Even worse was the neglect of stores and material.

In evacuating the country the imperial troops left considerable quantities of stores of various sorts, and on these, as on its capital, the militia lived for years with apparent cheapness. The Snider rifle was superseded in the British service about 1875 by the Martini-Henry; by 1885 the grooves had been worn out of the Sniders owned by Canada, but the militia did not discard the ‘gas-pipes’ till 1895 or even later. The ammunition supply was inadequate. Breech-loading field guns were adopted in the British service in the eighties; not till the nineties did the Canadian artillery discard its muzzle-loaders. There were no heavy guns for coast defence. The government had camp equipment in 1875 for 50,000 men and in 1877 enough for only 40,000. In the latter year it had blankets enough for 20,000 out of the 120,000 men whom it might be necessary to employ. Regiments marched into camp with knapsacks that had been obsolete when the Crimean War was being fought. In 1877 there was no reserve of clothing; to keep the 40,000 men of the peace establishment supplied with uniforms a yearly supply of about 14,000 suits was necessary, and parliament voted money enough for about 5000 suits.

Major-General Herbert, an exceptionally able officer, served in Canada from 1890 to 1895. He effected two improvements. He reformed the permanent force, the cavalry and infantry of which had been rather inefficient; he modernized its training; began the practice of sending officers and non-commissioned officers to England for instruction; and formed its separate units into regiments. He succeeded in effecting a slight improvement in the headquarters staff, obtaining the appointment of a quartermaster-general and an assistant adjutant-general. He also effected some changes in the territorial districts, which were very badly arranged for mobilization purposes.

One or two specific events occurred about this time. The absurdity of the retention of the Snider rifle was so glaring that a beginning was made at rearmament; nine or ten thousand Martini-Henry rifles were bought just as they were becoming obsolete, and the cartridge factory at Quebec was adapted to the production of ammunition for that weapon, which was in general use at rifle meetings. Then a purchase was made of 1000 Martini-Metfords—a ·303-inch calibre single-shot rifle, using the ammunition of the new arm with the breech-action of the old. Negotiations took place with the imperial authorities on defence subjects, and an arrangement was reached for the joint defence of Esquimalt; the imperial army fortified and garrisoned the place, and Canada contributed some barracks and a money payment that amounted at the outset to about $45,000 a year.

The Venezuela alarm in 1895 caused the government hastily to rearm the militia. The military authorities held that the Martini-Metford or single-shot ·303-inch rifle would be sufficient for a force of such rudimentary training, but the political authorities, once their interest was aroused, characteristically determined upon the best, and 40,000 Lee-Enfield rifles and 15 maxims were purchased, while arrangements were made for the gradual rearmament of the field artillery with 12-pounder breech-loaders, the gun used in Great Britain by the horse artillery. It is to be observed that the peace establishment of the militia was only 37,000, so that to an uninstructed glance the supply of rifles was sufficient. But the militia comprised some ninety battalions of infantry, and in the event of serious danger each battalion would be raised to 1000 men. Ninety battalions of infantry would need 80,000 rifles; the Canadian government provided 40,000.

[1] The 1st 60th Rifles.

[2] Now Port Arthur.

[3] Now Winnipeg.


In 1885 occurred the North-West Rebellion, which may be studied as an example of the working of the defence system of this period. The campaign was waged in the northern prairie regions, two or three thousand miles from the provinces that had to supply the greater portion of the troops. In 1881 Manitoba and the Territories had a white population of less than 60,000; in the same year Winnipeg, the one town of any size, had about 8000. Communication between these provinces and Eastern Canada was imperfect in that the Canadian Pacific Railway line north of Lake Superior was not completed, the gaps aggregating nearly a hundred miles. The railway traversing the southern prairie was a governing factor in the military operations. No fighting occurred along it, and this belt of peaceful country provided the starting-point from which the several columns marched. The disturbed area was about two hundred miles to the north of the railway. There were three centres of disaffection: Batoche, where the half-breed rising occurred; Battleford, near which the Indian chief Poundmaker had his residence; and the area inhabited by the group of Indian bands under the influence of Big Bear. Riel’s half-breeds brought five or six hundred men into action; Poundmaker probably had a smaller force; Big Bear had some few hundred men. The total number of half-breeds and Indians who actually took up arms probably did not much exceed 1000. The total number of Indians on the plains, however, was over 25,000, and there were numerous French-speaking half-breeds in addition to those in the Batoche district. It would have needed little to cause the rebellion to spread to these elements. The first success in the military operations was the localizing of the insurrection, and this, from the purely military aspect, was achieved by the rapidity with which troops were thrown—first, into the railway belt, and, secondly, into various places north of the line, Edmonton being a conspicuous example.

The troops provided by Eastern Canada comprised 2906 infantry, in nine small battalions and two detachments; 178 cavalry, in three troops; and 240 artillery, two batteries, with four guns and two machine guns. The artillery was wholly permanent, comprising A and B batteries; each battery had only two guns and very few horses. The cavalry consisted of the Cavalry School from Quebec, the Governor-General’s Body Guard from Toronto, and an improvised corps, the ‘Dominion Land Surveyors’ Intelligence Corps.’ The infantry were supplied as follows:

Ontario—five battalions and two detachments. The latter were the Infantry School corps from Toronto (92) and the company sent by the Governor-General’s Foot Guards of Ottawa (51). Three of the battalions were supplied by single city corps: the Queen’s Own Rifles of Toronto (280), the 7th Fusiliers of London (263) and the Royal Grenadiers of Toronto (265). Two were composite regiments drawn from rural corps. The York and Simcoe battalion (346) was supplied by the 12th and 35th, and the Midland battalion (382) by the 15th, 40th, 45th, 46th, 47th, 49th and 57th, all in the district between Toronto and Kingston.

Quebec—three city battalions, each supplied by a single corps. These were the 65th Rifles (315), a French-speaking regiment of Montreal, the Montreal Garrison Artillery (299), an English-speaking regiment, the latter serving as infantry, and the 9th Voltigeurs (230), a French-speaking regiment of Quebec.

Nova Scotia—the Halifax battalion (383), a composite city corps made up of the 63rd Rifles, the 66th Fusiliers and the Halifax Garrison Artillery.

In addition a few corps were held under arms at their homes for some time.

These corps were thrown into the West with considerable rapidity, considering the imperfection of the line of communications and the unfavourable season. The troops used the railway wherever it was open, and crossed the series of gaps either by marching or by being driven in sleighs; those who went first suffered considerable hardships, as the weather was cold. The skirmish at Duck Lake occurred on March 26. A and B batteries arrived at Winnipeg, the base, on April 5, ten days later. The Toronto and Ottawa contingents arrived on April 7 and 8. The Halifax battalion, the last of the eastern troops first ordered out, arrived on April 22; subsequently the Montreal Garrison Artillery arrived on May 20. Most of the corps were forwarded from Winnipeg quite promptly, though a few were detained for five or six days. The actual journey from Toronto occupied about a week. Individual staff officers proceeded to Winnipeg by the route through the United States. It may be added that a number of regiments, including those from Toronto and Halifax, sent comparatively well-trained men. In some instances employers threatened their men with dismissal if they went to the front. Several contingents furnished by corps were largely composed of recruits. Major-General Strange found that the 65th contained a considerable number of men who had never fired a rifle.[1]

The western country raised over 2000 troops. These comprised 474 mounted men, 62 artillery with 2 guns, and 1475 infantry. Winnipeg furnished two troops of mounted men (84), a field battery (62), and three battalions of infantry (1076), or 1222 in all. One troop of cavalry, the battery and one battalion existed already, and the remainder were improvised. West of Winnipeg there were raised by local initiative 770 of all ranks—seven or eight troops of mounted men numbering 475 and four infantry companies numbering 295. In addition there were nearly twenty local militia companies, ‘home guards,’ etc., among whom over a thousand rifles were distributed. There also were some 2500 civil employees, of whom nearly 1800 were transport men; the others were commissariat and hospital staff, telegraphers, couriers, herders, etc. The English-speaking population of the prairies, which in 1881 had been less than 60,000, thus provided over 2000 troops and over 2000 civilian employees. The new corps were raised expeditiously.

The Mounted Police numbered 555, but were caught in a peace distribution highly disadvantageous for military purposes; about 400 were in the disturbed area, most of them being immobilized by the pressure of the insurgents in their vicinity. The number who actually joined the three columns employed was about 150. Mounted Police guns were used by Otter’s and Strange’s columns.

Thus the total force available was:

Sent from the East3,323
Organized at Winnipeg1,222
Organized west of Winnipeg770
Mounted Police555

The distribution of the 5330 militia was:


Nine guns and two machine guns were employed.

The operations consisted of the distribution of forces along the Canadian Pacific Railway line, and the dispatch, from the base so formed, of three columns northwards to the area of revolt. General Middleton, the general officer commanding in Canada, marched from Qu’Appelle to Batoche and Prince Albert; Lieutenant-Colonel W. D. Otter, from Swift Current to Battleford; and Major-General Strange,[2] from Calgary to Edmonton and then easterly down the North Saskatchewan against Big Bear. Of the 5000 odd troops in the country, corps whose original strength was somewhat in excess of 2100 formed these three columns. Middleton had two battalions of infantry, part of a third, and a half-company of regular infantry, about 720 all told; about 150 irregular horse, and about 150 artillery, with four guns and a gatling. Otter had a battalion and three detachments of infantry, making 400 in all, 100 artillery, with two guns and a gatling and 30 mounted men. Strange, who moved in three successive echelons, had a battalion and a half of infantry, about 475, and less than 150 mounted men, with one gun.

Stationed north of the railway line, mainly supporting Middleton’s column, were three troops of cavalry, three battalions and part of another, and some localized companies—altogether some 1300 infantry and 160 cavalry. Three battalions of infantry, about 900 strong, and a number of localized companies, held points, such as Regina and Calgary, along the railway. About 160 mounted irregulars did duty near the frontier south of the railway.

One feature of this distribution is singular. The operations took place in prairie country and were against enemies accustomed to move about on ponies. General Middleton left his own troop of regular cavalry and his two troops of militia cavalry, which had received more or less training, on his line of communications, and relied for mounted men exclusively upon corps raised subsequent to the outbreak of hostilities.

The same indisposition to use cavalry is shown in the way in which the force from the east was moved to Winnipeg. The regular cavalry did not reach Winnipeg till April 19, a fortnight after the arrival of the artillery, and did not leave for the front till April 24; the Governor-General’s Body Guard, a well-trained militia corps, arrived in Winnipeg on April 15 and was detained there till April 23; while the Dominion Land Surveyors’ Intelligence Corps, a hastily raised force, arrived in Winnipeg on April 11 and was sent on two days later. Thus the mounted troops first were held back and then were forwarded in inverse order of training. Had the ponies of the rebels not been in poor condition owing to the season of the year, and had their leadership not exhibited hesitancy, timidity and ineptitude, this lack of mounted men might have proved awkward.

The staff and supply arrangements were of a haphazard sort. Staffs had to be found for the base and for the three columns, and officers were picked up on the spur of the moment. Major-General Laurie, a retired army officer who had had much to do with the pre-Confederation Nova Scotia militia, was described as officer commanding at the base, but his principal station was Swift Current, the advanced base of Otter’s column. At Winnipeg the district commander, who was on Middleton’s staff, was replaced by Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson, D.A.G. at London, who arrived on April 2 and found himself simultaneously in command of the district and principal supply, pay and transport officer. On April 4 Jackson was ordered to ‘take steps for the formation of a commissariat corps.’ He had to organize a staff, forward stores and supplies, send troops to the front, superintend the organization of new corps, provide for the safety of the town, attend to the financial arrangements, and perform a multitude of other services.

Everything in the nature of stores was unsatisfactory. The 5000 troops had three kinds of rifles—Snider, Winchester and Martini-Henry. Much of the ammunition was bad; one of Strange’s subordinates complained of the quality of his cartridges, and was advised by that humorous commander, who knew he had to make the best of things, to wait till the enemy was at close range. The machine guns were bought in haste. The saddlery was exceedingly bad. Much of the hospital equipment had to be purchased in New York. Boots, shirts, socks and similar necessaries had to be furnished by the men themselves. The stores branch had enough of these articles for the permanent force only, and was under the necessity of purchasing everything for the troops in the field after hostilities had commenced. The medical service had to be improvised. The transport arrangements were extravagant, the teamsters being paid from six to ten dollars a day. The military operations alone cost nearly $5,000,000; Wolseley had made a three months’ march over a difficult country with 1400 men for $500,000. It was the story of 1866 over again. As for staff work, General Middleton proceeded to Winnipeg before the actual fighting occurred; immediately after Duck Lake he went to Qu’Appelle and organized his own column, taking with him the natural base commandant; and the adjutant-general at Ottawa built up the base staff at long range and piecemeal.

[1] Gunner Jingo’s Jubilee, p. 418. Strange speaks highly of the spirit displayed by this corps.

[2] The officer of the Royal Artillery who had helped to organize the artillery of the permanent force. He was ranching near Calgary when the outbreak occurred.


The movement that has transformed Canadian militia organization followed the South African War, and obtained its driving power, first from the enthusiasm roused by that struggle, and afterwards from the increased national appreciation of the problems confronting the British Empire and of Canada’s interest in those problems. Prior to the South African War there was an amelioration in the attitude of the public, and an increased liberality on the part of the government. The concession of drilling all regiments every year, the step that marked the end of the era of indifference, came in 1897, when, for the first time in many years, the government found itself in moderately easy financial circumstances; the innovation sent up the number trained each year from 20,000 or less to about 30,000. There was some improvement in the provision of stores, equipment and armament.

Major-General Hutton, who took command in 1898 and left early in 1900, has the distinction of having caught the public attention by his doctrine that the Canadian militia should form a self-contained military force, complete in all its parts. He was fond of calling it the ‘Canadian Army.’ He associated the congeries of tiny battalions and regiments into higher formations; a list was published showing six divisions, fifteen infantry brigades, two cavalry brigades and five artillery brigades. Some brigades had four, some five, and others six battalions; the number of brigades in the divisions varied; still, the force felt for the first time that it should aim at acting in large and carefully organized masses. General Hutton recommended the formation of administrative departments—army service corps, ordnance store corps, army medical corps, army pay department—and also a corps of engineers. By 1900 three of these improvements had been taken in hand: two field companies of engineers were supplied with proper equipment, a militia army medical service had been inaugurated with the raising of four bearer companies and four field hospitals, and the organization of four army service companies had been decided upon. In the camps General Hutton insisted upon a simplification of drill and the trial of more advanced work.

In 1898 it was considered necessary to place a detachment of the permanent force in the Yukon Territory, and accordingly a force of 12 officers and 191 other ranks made the journey overland. They left Ottawa on May 6, reached Vancouver on May 11, and, travelling by the Skeena River and Teslin trail, reached Fort Selkirk on the Yukon River on July 25.

Late in 1899 the South African War broke out, and it continued until May 31, 1902. Canada participated in this war in three ways:

1. By furnishing troops directly, officially, and in part at her own expense. The number so sent was 2446, or one-third of the entire number dispatched from Canada to South Africa.

2. By allowing troops to be raised within the Dominion by the government of the United Kingdom and by Lord Strathcona, the high commissioner of Canada, who raised a regiment at his private expense. The government of the Dominion acted as local agent, facilitated the work, enjoyed a good deal of the patronage associated with the formation of these corps, but bore no part of the cost. The number so sent was 4886, or two-thirds of the number dispatched to the theatre of war.

3. By raising a battalion for garrison duty at Halifax, thus releasing a line battalion of the British army for South Africa. This garrison battalion numbered 1004.

Thus Canada found troops for one purpose or another in connection with the war to the number of 8300. A certain amount of duplication is included in these figures, many having served in two or more consecutively raised corps.

The troops dispatched to South Africa were as follows:


Canadian contingents proper:

First contingent—sailed October 30, 1899; returned in November and December 1900:

2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment: 1 battalion, 1150 all ranks.

Second contingent—sailed early in 1900: returned in the winter of 1900-1:

Royal Canadian Dragoons[1]: 2 squadrons, 379 all ranks.

Canadian Mounted Rifles[1]: 2 squadrons, 378 all ranks.

Royal Canadian Artillery: 1 brigade division of 3 batteries and 18 guns, 539 all ranks.

Troops raised in Canada, but only indirectly by the Canadian government:

Sailed in March 1900; returned in March 1901:

Lord Strathcona’s Horse: 3 squadrons, 597 all ranks.

Sailed early in 1901; disbanded locally after the conclusion of the war:

South African Constabulary[2]: 12 squadrons, 1238 all ranks.

Sailed in the winter of 1901-2 or early in 1902; returned after the conclusion of the war:

2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles: 6 squadrons, 925 all ranks.

10th Canadian Field Hospital, A.M.C., 62 all ranks.

3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Canadian Mounted Rifles: 16 squadrons, 2064 all ranks.

Total, 41 squadrons, 3 batteries and 1 battalion.

Of the 7300 troops sent out to South Africa some 5200 took part in the fighting, the four regiments of mounted rifles raised in the spring of 1902 arriving after peace had been proclaimed. The casualties were 88 killed in action,[3] 136 died of disease or accidental injury, and 252 wounded.

The battalion raised for Halifax was known as the 3rd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment; the first contingent and this unit were organized as component parts of the permanent infantry. The 3rd Royal Canadian Regiment remained in existence from March 1900 to September 1902. By an odd chance, the imperial battalion it relieved was the 1st Battalion Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians),[4] the battalion that had been raised in Canada in 1858 in much the same manner as the later Canadian forces for South African service.

A considerable number of Canadian officers were sent to South Africa unattached, for instructional purposes, while others made their way over privately and found employment. A conspicuous example in the latter category was Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Hughes, M.P., at that time the commanding officer of a rural regiment, the 45th Victoria. A dozen years later, in 1911, he became minister of Militia. Colonel Hughes was successful as intelligence officer in the operations for the suppression of the rebellion in western Cape Colony.

All of these corps were dependent on the military resources of Canada for their organization, mobilization and equipment; the Dominion found their clothing, arms, preliminary supply of ammunition, necessaries and horses, the imperial government and Lord Strathcona repaying it in all cases except those of the first and second contingents. The first contingent was raised very rapidly; orders were issued on October 14, and it sailed on October 30. The stores, however, were taxed to provide the equipment of this single battalion for war service; the very cloth of which the brown campaign uniform was made had to be manufactured after the order to form the regiment was given. The second contingent was organized in about a month, the orders being issued on December 20, 1899, and the troopships sailing on January 20, January 27 and February 21, 1900. The stores department found the outfitting of these corps more difficult than that of the first contingent. Strathcona’s Horse was raised and dispatched in about six weeks; the South African Constabulary in about eleven weeks; the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles in seven weeks; the field hospital in less than four weeks; and the four last regiments of mounted rifles in from four to seven weeks.

The first and second contingents cost the country almost two million dollars. The Halifax battalion cost $834,000 in its two years and six months of life. The total cost to Canada was $2,830,000.

The first contingent was organized round a nucleus of officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the permanent infantry, a number of cavalry and artillery permanent officers and men being allowed to join. It was regarded as belonging to the Royal Canadian Regiment, though the terms of enlistment and the legal footing of the men from the active militia were not those of the permanent corps. The Dominion government had full control of the organization and preliminary arrangements, including the selection of the officers. The cost of its transport to South Africa was borne by Canada, and it was paid at the rates received by the permanent infantry until it landed. It was then taken over by the imperial authorities and paid at the rates of British regular infantry. These rates were much lower than those paid by Canada; the British private got a shilling a day, the Canadian 50 cents. The Canadian government contributed the difference. The imperial government sent the regiment home and met all charges for pensions for wounds.

The second contingent was dispatched upon the same terms as the first. It was, however, more highly paid, the Canadian government granting it Mounted Police pay, so that the private got 75 cents a day as against 50 cents received by the infantry.

Lord Strathcona paid his contingent at Mounted Police rates. The later forces raised were paid the very high rates granted by the British authorities to irregulars in the war, five shillings a day with occasional allowances, while first and second class troopers of the constabulary got seven and six shillings a day.

Lord Strathcona appointed the officers of his contingent, with assistance from the Canadian government and the Militia department. The constabulary officers were selected by the governor-general personally, on behalf of the Colonial Office. The Canadian government had the patronage of the other corps, subject to the approval of the secretary of state for War. The officers commanding all these forces except the constabulary corresponded with and reported to the Canadian minister of Militia.

All the Canadian contingents that saw fighting did well and proved themselves valuable troops for the kind of war in which they were engaged. There was no difficulty in recruiting the successive corps, despite the fact that for all but the first regiment ability to ride was demanded. It was less easy, after the first rush, to procure suitable officers, and by 1902 the number of those qualified and willing to go overseas was by no means large.

Two weaknesses in organization developed. The first was the absence of proper means to make good the wastage of war. One draft was sent to reinforce the first contingent and one to Strathcona’s Horse, but these proved entirely insufficient. Further, they were raised as hastily as the corps they were to reinforce, and received little preliminary training. On June 5, after only six months’ campaigning, the Royal Canadian Regiment marched into Pretoria with but 438 of all ranks present out of 1150 who had landed; the wastage had been 712, of which 162 had been casualties sustained in action. The Royal Canadian Dragoons, after less than eight months in the field, had 86 on parade out of 379. The second weakness was the short period, one year, for which the first and second contingents and Strathcona’s Horse were enlisted. The constabulary engaged for three years and the later contingents for ‘12 months or until the termination of the present war in South Africa.’ The short enlistments meant that seasoned corps were continually being withdrawn from the theatre of war, to be replaced by newly raised ones; in the case of the first contingent a good deal of mortification was felt over the fact that six of the eight companies refused to prolong their services for a few months, though requested to do so by Lord Roberts.

[1] The mounted troops of the second contingent originally were styled '1st Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles,’ the nucleus of which was the permanent cavalry, the Royal Canadian Dragoons, and ‘2nd Battalion C.M.R.,’ the nucleus being furnished by the North-West Mounted Police. Subsequently the titles in the text were adopted.

[2] These squadrons were simply the Canadian portion of a force of 7500 men.

[3] About twenty others, including the well-known Major A. L. Howard, nicknamed ‘Gat,’ were killed or died in South Africa after leaving Canadian corps.

[4] See p. 395.


From the South African War onwards there has been a new temper in the public life of Canada towards the treatment of the problems of defence. A coherent effort has been made to give Canada a militia army capable of effective service.

The increase in expenditure is a fair indication of the new spirit. From 1894 to 1898 the usual militia budget was from $1,200,000 to $1,600,000; these expenditures were swollen in 1896 and 1897 by the spending of about $1,750,000 for the new rifles and field-guns bought under the spur of the Venezuela incident. From 1898 to 1904, which may be described as a period of transition, the annual cost of the militia proper was about $2,500,000; in addition there were outlays, then regarded as imperial contributions, on the South African War and on the garrisoning of Halifax and Esquimalt. From 1904 onwards there has been increased expenditure. In 1904-5 it was nearly $4,000,000; in 1905-6 nearly $5,600,000; in 1907-8 nearly $6,800,000; it fell, in the two years following, to $6,500,000 and $6,000,000, and went up to $7,000,000 in 1910-11 and $7,580,000 in 1911-12. The number of men trained in 1904 was 35,000; in 1905, 39,000; 44,000 in 1907 and 45,000 in 1908. In the years immediately following it fell off somewhat, rising again in 1911 to 45,000.

In addition, Halifax and Esquimalt are garrisoned, not as a temporary imperial contribution, but as part of the Canadian system of defence and as part of the routine of the Canadian regular forces. Those forces have grown accordingly. As late as 1904 they remained below the thousand mark. There is legislative sanction for their increase to 5000 men, but the authorities have not sought to procure more than 3500 all ranks, and the actual number in 1912 was about 3000. The two seaports absorb 1425. Thus Canada gets for its increase in expenditure of some five and a half millions a year an increase of about 25,000 in the number of the active militia trained annually, an increase of over 2000 in the permanent force, the upkeep of one large and one small fortress, and the improvements in organization and preparation which must now be described.

An account must first be given of a remarkable change in the management of the force. As a rule the general officers commanding had not found their period of service happy. Apart from disagreements resulting from the incompatibility of temperament that occasionally showed itself between regulars and militia, there was a grave difficulty on the subject of command. General Hutton quarrelled on this score with Sir Frederick Borden, the minister who presided over the department from 1896 to 1911; and the same trouble occurred between the government and Lord Dundonald, who in his brief tenure of office, from 1902 to 1904, sketched the scheme of reform that has since been adopted. Lord Dundonald brought a series of contentions to a head by insisting on what he regarded as his legal rights and refusing to resign when differences arose. The government thereupon took the step of dismissing him—a dangerous step as it proved, for he was an exceptionally charming and attractive man with whom there was much public sympathy; and there ensued an agitation which would have been dangerous to the administration if the two political parties had been at all evenly matched in the general election of 1904.

In point of fact, the organization of the country’s armed forces in its highest aspect ensured friction. Between the minister and the general officer commanding there was, not exactly a division of authority, but an appearance of such a division. The general was by statute charged with the ‘military command and discipline of the militia,’ words that regular officers were disposed to interpret as confiding to the general a definite field of authority within which he was to be responsible and supreme. But he held his post by appointment from the governor in council, and the minister of Militia sat at that council. The position in practice was that the general was encouraged to take a certain attitude of independence within the sphere of technical direction of the force; while if he did this the minister could, and did, dismiss him. The situation proved to be exquisitely unworkable. General Hutton’s departure was largely due to his assertion of exclusive control over certain purely military officers such as the adjutant-general and the quartermaster-general. Lord Dundonald’s quarrel, while based on his impatience with the interpolation of political considerations into militia problems, and on the slowness with which the government acted on his carefully thought out recommendations, had as its immediate cause the peremptory interference of a minister—not the minister of Militia—with appointments to a new corps that was being organized.

The solution adopted was to invest the minister with the nominal as with the actual authority, and definitely to make the senior soldier subordinate to the minister as his technical adviser. This was done in the militia act of 1904; the precedent set by the establishment of the Army Council in Great Britain was followed in Canada. By the act of 1904 the minister of Militia was to ‘be charged with and be responsible for the administration of militia affairs’; he might have a militia council ‘to advise the minister on all matters relating to the militia which are referred to the council by the minister.’ Henceforward the civilian minister became the practical commanding officer of the militia. The principal military officer now became the chief of the general staff, and militia administration settled down to management by the minister in council. An unexpected result of the change was that the minister came more into contact with his higher officers, and that the soldiers had greater influence with regard to the technical problems handled by the department. The first chief of the general staff was Major-General Sir Percy Lake, who remained in Canada as chief of the general staff and inspector-general from 1904 to 1910, his administration being characterized by great success.

This is the place to mention that in the militia act of 1904 the old theoretical declaration that all men of military age are militiamen shrinks into a provision that all able-bodied men, with the necessary exemptions, are liable to service. It keeps alive the old powers of enrolment, balloting and the rest. It makes a provision for the use of private property in case of emergency. It stipulates that there shall be an ‘Active Militia,’ and gives statutory authority for a ‘Reserve Militia’; the militia of either category in case of need can be recruited by the machinery of enrolment and ballot. And to conclude, it provides for an inspector-general, who shall, in commercial terminology, furnish an audit of the work of organization and training done by the militia council.


The militia council, speaking broadly and with certain reservations, has carried into effect, with very considerable developments, a general plan of organization which Lord Dundonald had devised in 1903. He demanded that the system adopted should, on a small and inexpensive basis of peace preparation, provide the power of large expansion in time of war. Such an expansion, he urged, should not consist of the mere enrolling of great masses of men eager to fight but possessing neither organization, training, arms, equipment nor good officers. To be of any military value at all it must provide for great numbers of partially trained riflemen filling up the framework of a field army carefully prepared and equipped in time of peace. The existing system he condemned as providing only a small number of men inadequately trained and with no organization for enabling them to be expanded up to the war establishments that would be necessary for defensive preparations. Accordingly he proposed to organize and train in peace the skeleton of a sufficiently large army. The units of this skeleton force should be complete in well-trained officers, non-commissioned officers and a small number of selected privates, ready to be filled up on mobilization by the ‘flesh and blood,’ consisting of able-bodied citizens registered up to the full war establishment of each unit and trained as far as was possible without taking them away from their daily work.

Upon this general idea Lord Dundonald based an elaborate and carefully worked out scheme. The keynote was decentralization; he desired to retain the existing districts for administrative reasons, but to group them in five large groups to which he applied the term ‘higher commands.’ The first of these was to comprise the Maritime Provinces, the second Quebec, the third and fourth Eastern and Western Ontario respectively, and the fifth was to be in the West. His proposal was that each ‘higher command’ should have a commander and a fighting staff, leaving the work of routine administration to the existing district staffs; in this he anticipated development in army administration in Great Britain. He urged that the district officers commanding be given greater powers, and he declared that a decentralization of stores and equipment was necessary. The five ‘higher commands’ on mobilization were to turn out completely organized troops, substantially as follows: Maritime Provinces, an infantry division, an infantry brigade, a cavalry brigade and some garrison artillery; Quebec, an army corps less an infantry division and two cavalry brigades; Eastern Ontario, an infantry division, an infantry brigade and a cavalry brigade; Western Ontario, an army corps less an infantry division and two cavalry brigades; the West, an infantry brigade and two cavalry brigades. The distribution of arms would be:

Cavalry20 regiments10,300men
Artillery17 brigade divisions (250 guns)14,300
EngineersVarious units3,300
Infantry60 regiments63,800
Departmental CorpsVarious units6,400
Other details4,100

This force of roughly 100,000 Lord Dundonald termed the first line of defence, and he advocated the provision of a second line of substantially the same strength to furnish reinforcements. To obtain this second line he proposed an elaborate scheme whereby every unit of the first line should carry extra or reserve officers who on mobilization would set to work at once to organize the reserve formations. In addition he drew up a scheme of training, the most noteworthy feature of which was a proposal for a ‘central training camp’ of at least 20,000 acres, at which the permanent corps and a few officers and non-commissioned officers from each militia unit should be given higher training. Attendance at this he proposed to stimulate with money grants somewhat in the manner of the old military schools of the sixties. The work of this central training ground he would supplement by active teaching by means of lectures in company armouries, the provision of which he urged. He also desired to have paid and permanent adjutants and non-commissioned instructors.

The minister declined to make this report public, and to Lord Dundonald’s disgust insisted on treating it as confidential; part of the friction that led to the quarrel was the general’s impatience at the government’s insistence upon carrying out important recommendations such as that for a central camp in its own way and at its own time. Some features, such as the provision of additional officers intended to organize the second line, have been dropped; there has been a remodelling of the ‘higher commands,’ which now are ‘divisions’ and ‘divisional areas’; and there have been improvements in matters of detail. Despite these changes and developments, however, the scheme outlined in this suppressed report has been carried out with remarkable fidelity. Sir Percy Lake, an organizer and administrator of consummate skill, coming to the country at a moment when the situation was exceptionally difficult for a regular officer in his position, brought into force, and improved upon, this brilliant scheme.

Before the break occurred Lord Dundonald effected some successes in the higher organization. At headquarters the stores branch was brought over from the civil side, the superintendent of stores becoming quartermaster-general; the engineering branch moved over to the military side; the ordnance branch made its appearance; a medical service branch came under the supervision of the general; and an intelligence branch was set on foot. This staff reorganization was reflected in the establishments, and there appeared on the militia list: the first company of the permanent engineers; the corps of guides, a service designed to supplement through the exertions of militia officers the work done by the intelligence service at headquarters; the army service corps, partly permanent and partly militia; the army ordnance corps; a corps of signallers; and a small body of military staff clerks—the army medical corps was already in existence. One of the interesting things about this phase of the organization was the zest with which the militia, officers and men, threw themselves into the work of these administrative troops. Finally, Lord Dundonald took especial pains with the training of the militia. General Hutton had put new life into the ‘annual drills,’ but, as instanced in his controversy with Colonel Hughes, retained a deep suspicion as to their availability in active service. Dundonald, who had commanded colonial troops in Natal, showed greater confidence in militia soldiery, spurred them on to more advanced training, and, to reduce the elementary training to the smallest dimensions, prepared simplified drill-books, which were hastily abolished when he was dismissed.

One reform effected by Lord Dundonald was an increase in the cavalry; in some cases this was managed by disbanding rural infantry battalions that had become inefficient, and recruiting for the new corps among the local owners of horses. A very great service which he accomplished was the persuading of the government to spend a sum of about $1,300,000 a year in munitions of war—ammunition, stores, clothing, etc. The task of accumulating stores was taken up with some approach to system, though the progress was so slow that in 1904 there were not more than seven million rounds of rifle ammunition, or seventy rounds for each man of the prospective ‘first line.’ About this time the Ross rifle factory was started. Of a different pattern from the Lee-Enfield with which the imperial troops were armed, this rifle became the subject of an acute controversy. The two weapons take the same ammunition, so that if Canadian and imperial troops were to act together the worst evils of diversified armament would not be incurred. After a period of disfavour the later marks of the Ross rifles established themselves as good target weapons, the earlier marks being under a cloud through imperfection of workmanship rather than of design. The central camp came after Lord Dundonald’s departure; it is situated at Petawawa, on the Ottawa River about a hundred miles above the capital; it embraces a hundred square miles, and is an admirable training and artillery practice ground.


The system of to-day (1912) contents itself with voluntary service, and with voluntary service alone, in time of peace. In time of national emergency the existing voluntary corps would be raised to war establishment so as to produce a force which, with the addition of units formed on mobilization, would amount to a total of about 150,000 of all ranks: that is, a mobile field army of 125,000 and 25,000 allotted to garrisons and to duties on the lines of communication.

This force, after it had taken the field, would need to be maintained in numbers and efficiency; with this object in view an attempt would be made to recruit, train and equip another 100,000 men.[1] For this first reinforcement, and for any that were subsequently raised, the compulsory powers of the Militia Act might be used; indeed, they might easily be invoked for the original mobilization.

The distribution of arms in the Canadian land forces in 1912 is as follows:

The permanent force comprises: two regiments, each of two squadrons, of cavalry, the Royal Canadian Dragoons and Lord Strathcona’s Horse; a horse artillery brigade of two batteries, one heavy battery of artillery and four garrison companies of artillery; one field company and two fortress companies of engineers; and one battalion, of ten companies, of infantry. There are also various detachments, etc., of the Canadian Permanent Army Service Corps, Permanent Army Medical Corps, Canadian Permanent Army Veterinary Corps, Canadian Ordnance Corps, Canadian Pay Corps and Corps of Military Staff Clerks.

In the event of a general mobilization the batteries of horse and the battery of heavy artillery would be employed as field units; the garrison, artillery, fortress engineers, and a proportion of the infantry would be allotted to coast defence; and the remaining personnel would be distributed for various purposes.

As regards the active militia the particulars are:

Cavalry, squadrons140
    13-pr. batteries4
    18-pr. batteries31
      Ammunition columns for these12
    5-in. howitzer batteries2
      Ammunition columns for these1
    Heavy batteries5
      Ammunition columns for these5
    Garrison companies13
    Siege companies2
    Field troops4[2]
    Field companies9[3]
Infantry, battalions99
Army Service Corps, companies18
Army Medical Corps: 
    Cavalry field ambulance7
    Field ambulance14
    General hospitals2

And in addition various detachments, etc., of Corps of Guides, Signalling Corps, Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, Canadian Postal Corps and Canadian Ordnance Corps (non-permanent).

These corps have war establishments well in excess of 125,000. To exhibit the progress of a decade we may set down the distribution of 1912 and 1902, at war establishments.

Horse, field and heavy artillery7,5002,500
Siege and garrison artillery2,0003,500
Army Service Corps2,000400
Army Medical Services5,0002,000
Other services and departmentsA moderate numberNone

There has been an increase in numerical strength, due largely to the appearance of new corps in the West; and the fighting arms bear to each other a relative proportion better adjusted than in former days. There has also been an advance in the provision of administrative services.

There are twenty infantry brigades, most of them having the orthodox four battalions; in addition there are a number of unbrigaded battalions, many of these being western corps that as yet have no neighbours near enough for association. There are seven cavalry brigades, besides regiments that are intended for use as divisional cavalry, and a few units, chiefly in the West, which remain unbrigaded. The brigade organization for some time has been taken seriously, the officers commanding these larger formations exercising a certain amount of authority.

In Eastern Canada eighteen infantry brigades are grouped into divisions, and of these there are six. At Sir John French’s suggestion the ‘higher commands’ are now termed ‘divisional areas,’ and each of these is expected to provide a division of the newer British model; in addition, Eastern Canada is expected to provide four cavalry brigades. A division is a self-contained composite force consisting at full war establishment of: three brigades, or twelve battalions, of infantry; a cavalry regiment about 500 strong; and an artillery force comprising 4 heavy guns (60-pounders), 8 howitzers, and 36 field guns (18-pounder quick-firers); there also would be 500 engineers. Thus there would be nearly 16,000 fighting troops—12,000 infantry, 3000 artillery and 1000 cavalry and engineers. In addition there would be the corps of guides to collect information; the signalling corps to maintain communication; and, to wait upon the fighting line, nearly 2000 administrative troops—principally of the transport, supply and medical branches, but also police, postal officials, ordnance corps, veterinarians, clerks, etc. The actual number of men with a division would exceed 18,000. A cavalry brigade would comprise not quite 2500 men, with four guns. The mobile field force for Eastern Canada would comprise six divisions, or about 96,000 combatant and 12,000 administrative troops, and four cavalry brigades with some 10,000 combatants; and there will be certain corps designed to furnish garrisons, guard railway bridges and perform other duties on the lines of communication.

Western Canada has at present forces which provide one infantry brigade (in Manitoba), three cavalry brigades, and various scattered units. We may expect to see the infantry brigade grow in time into a Seventh Division; in the meantime the main reliance is upon mounted troops. The prairies have corps which at war establishment would produce some 17,000 troops, and the British Columbia militia at war establishment would be about 6000 strong.

One word of caution is necessary. Apart from the fact that the voluntary system leads to wide variations in efficiency, there are gaps in the existing field formations. To complete them there are still needed thirty-six batteries of artillery, three field troops and four field companies of engineers, fourteen army service companies, and five field ambulances, and in addition sundry ammunition columns and supply parks.

Every professional soldier who has had dealings with the militia since Confederation has lamented the failure of the government to supply arms, ammunition, clothing and other equipment. For a while there was improvement. At the time of writing there has been some slipping back; new corps have been organized with great rapidity, and the satisfying of their demands for arms, uniforms and equipment has made deep inroads on the stores, and the new regiments have been outfitted only by raiding the stores kept to mobilize older units. At present there are in the country perhaps 200 modern guns of the various sorts used by a field army; the mobile field army contemplated would need not far short of 400; and there should be a reserve behind that supply to replace weapons worn out, broken or captured. There are about 100,000 more or less serviceable ·303 rifles in the country, and the Ross rifle factory, if given ample notice, could turn them out at the rate of 8000 a month; its present utmost rate is 3000 a month. On mobilization the demand would be for 100,000 to 120,000 rifles; many of the Ross rifles in the armouries are of the imperfect earlier marks; their parts are not interchangeable; the Lee-Enfields which were bought in 1895 are becoming worn out. The supply of rifle ammunition is much better than it was some years ago, though even yet not up to the requirements of modern war. It also suffers from the fact that much of the reserve is unduly old. Over the whole question of rifles and ammunition hangs the fact that before long it will be necessary to change from the ·303 to a ·276 weapon, possibly automatic. The apparatus both of the Ross rifle factory and the government arsenal can easily be changed to the new calibre. The situation as regards machine guns is unsatisfactory; so is the question of the rifle for horse soldiers. The artillery ammunition supply is in a fairly satisfactory condition.

When, however, we come to the question of equipment other than arms and ammunition, the situation is really serious. It always has been bad. Of late the authorities have been increasing the numbers for which provision has to be made; they are in a position to estimate the wants with greater accuracy; and they have failed to meet these wants.

When the imperial conference of 1907 met there was laid before it a paper on patterns and provision of stores, prepared under the supervision of Sir William Nicholson, quartermaster-general, and Sir C. F. Hadden, master-general of the ordnance. In dealing with stores this memorandum said:

It is a mistake to suppose that equipment can be easily obtained or improved on mobilization. Some few articles, such as blankets or boots, might, it is true, be got, but only at the cost of delay in the readiness of the force to take the field. It is, therefore, necessary that all articles required as the first outfit of any force should be in possession, or held in reserve ready for issue.

The provision of such reserve involves not only the capital outlay necessary for the purchase of the stores, but also that required for suitable storehouses in which to keep them, and, in addition, an annual charge for personnel necessary for their care and custody.

There is also the question of ‘turnover,’ by which is meant the utilization of the articles which have been in store longest to meet ordinary peace ‘wear and tear’ requirements, replacing them in reserve by new articles. This is not an unimportant point, as, although equipment may not deteriorate in store to any appreciable extent if properly looked after, military requirements change in course of time, and articles for which there is no regular outlet grow out-of-date and useless.

We hold in reserve in this country [the United Kingdom], for an expeditionary force, stores and equipment

(a) To complete the war outfit of every unit required for the force;

(b) To replace war wastage for a period of six months.

There are, of course, other classes of reserves held as well, but these need not be enumerated.

Colonial governments should, it is thought, be urged to hold complete, for all forces which they contemplate being able to put into the field, reserves of class (a), and to make, during peace, definite arrangements for the supply of stores required under (b).

We may classify the stores needed by Canada under three heads:

1. Stores needed for the peace establishment, which now stands at 3500 permanent troops and 60,000 active militia. These embrace (1) personal equipment, clothing and necessaries for the individual soldier; (2) regimental equipment supplied to units, such as camp-kettles, tools, blankets, rubber sheets, saddlery, signalling gear, etc.

2. Stores needed for the 90,000 additional men who will be brought to the colours on the first mobilization; and the additional stores required for regimental purposes, not only to complete the war outfit of existing units, but also to meet the requirements of units such as ammunition and supply columns that will be formed on mobilization.

3. Stores needed for reserve purposes; that is, for the 100,000 reinforcements, and for the replacement of stores belonging to the first force mobilized that have been worn out, wasted, lost and otherwise rendered useless.

The Militia department now has on hand personal equipment and clothing sufficient to supply, after a fashion, the 60,000 militia of the peace establishment. They would not be outfitted well, as many articles with which it would be necessary to supply them would be old, and of more or less obsolete pattern and design. As for regimental equipment, there is just enough to send the existing corps to camp for training. A few years ago it was necessary to hold the training camps one after another, and to shift the equipment about from one to another.

For the 90,000 men, not now in the militia, who would come trooping in on the order being given to mobilize, there would be scarcely any personal equipment or clothing. Less than 70,000 of them could be put into even a semblance of uniform—that is, given coats and trousers of military pattern. Only some 50,000 could be given military head-gear. There would not be greatcoats for 20,000. As for puttees or gaiters, mess-tins, belts, haversacks, bandoliers, pouches, less than 10,000 men of the 90,000 could be supplied, and many of these articles, such as mess-tins and bandoliers, cannot be purchased, at short notice and in bulk, in the country. Of the 90,000 men a considerable number would be obliged to take the field without any pretence at uniform; the majority would have no greatcoats of military pattern, and greatcoats are indispensable if men are to march and bivouac; while the other articles are hardly less important. As for the camp-kettles, saddlery, signalling apparatus, and other articles of regimental equipment, the shortage is very great, and many units would find themselves unable to cook their food, to entrench themselves, or, in short, to live, if forced to take the field.

Of stores of the third category, for the outfitting of the 100,000 reinforcements and for maintaining the force already in the field, there are none.

Thus if the Canadian militia were mobilized at present, considerable numbers of men would have no uniform; still larger numbers would have no equipment of the sort that renders camp life tolerable.

Allied to the question of stores is the problem of decentralization. Mobilization stores should be dispersed through the country so that each unit could recruit to war strength, outfit the whole number joining, and parade with its regimental equipment without worrying the higher authorities. Such meagre mobilization stores as do exist are not sufficiently decentralized; the Militia department is hardly responsible for this. Proper storehouses of course are necessary, and the force needs numerous buildings of an inexpensive nature. The rule has been for the Public Works department to construct any buildings required by the Militia department, and the Public Works department has been slow to take up the sort of work that the military requirements of the country demand. Of late an arrangement has been effected whereby the Militia department builds for itself all structures whose cost does not exceed $15,000. This opens the way to the provision of local storehouses and the proper distribution of mobilization equipment—where there is any.

We have been taking for granted that in the event of a general mobilization 150,000 troops will be at once forthcoming, whereas the raising of that force, not to mention the subsequent provision of reinforcements, is an anxious and difficult problem. To obtain the prompt appearance in emergency of 150,000 men there is a peace establishment of about 63,500, of whom 3500 are permanent and 60,000 active militia; thus it would be necessary to obtain at least 90,000 additional men. In point of fact the active militia who present themselves annually for training never number more than 45,000 and occasionally fall below 40,000, so that the gap between war establishment and peace strength will be nearer 110,000 than 90,000. In the armies of continental Europe, or in the British army, these men would appear automatically; they would be reservists, that is, trained soldiers earning their living in civil life, but ready instantly to swell the army. In Australia and New Zealand, when the system recently adopted by those countries has had time to operate, there will be militia reservists enough to bring the first line up to full strength; that is, there will be at hand, known, registered and available, great numbers of men who recently have done their training as citizen soldiers. There is no provision in Canada for a reserve, and the 90,000 additional men (for we cannot call them reservists) must be sought in other directions.

Three or four thousand reservists of the British army are living in Canada; these men are paid a small sum yearly by the government of the United Kingdom to be ready to rejoin the imperial army, but Canada in case of need might find means to enrol them in her force. As a next resort there are the members of the civilian rifle clubs. This rifle club movement was begun in 1901, and has made steady progress, and there are now in existence 450 clubs composed of civilians, numbering some 25,000, who on emergency automatically become militiamen. Thus there are perhaps 25,000 in sight out of 90,000; the imperial army reservists may be counted on to make up for the rifle club members who might be physically unfit and otherwise unavailable. Many persons who have trained with and left the militia may be expected to join. The number of these is unknown. When the schedules were being prepared for the census of 1911 the Militia department sought to have included a question as to whether the person giving information had undergone military training of any sort; the department of Agriculture, which has charge of the census, refused, however, to allow this question to be included in the schedule. For the rest Canada must trust to recruits, who will come to the colours undisciplined, undrilled and untrained to shoot. In point of fact, each militia captain should keep lists of the men who have served in his company, and of the persons in his vicinity who might be expected to enlist, who belong to the category of men of the first-class reserve, and to whom it would be necessary to apply the ballot if volunteers were not forthcoming; he should know pretty closely who would compose his 120 men. Something of this sort is being done in England by the National Reserve movement.

Another and more difficult problem would be to find the additional officers; not far short of six thousand would be needed on mobilization, and there are only some three or four thousand now on the list. The Officers’ Training Corps in Great Britain seek with some success to fit young men in universities, colleges and secondary schools to be military leaders in time of national peril, and a beginning has been made in establishing something of the sort in Canadian universities.

The advances in recent years have been in organization rather than in training, and the lists of corps and formations that have been cited are lists of groups of men who after all are ill-prepared for that difficult thing, the pledging of life and honour upon the battlefield. There has been real improvement in musketry; the force still shoots badly as compared with regular armies, in that, while it possesses good individual marksmen, the average is low, a lack of fire discipline is observable, and there is little knowledge of collective firing. None the less, there has been an advance in recent years. The training of officers remains defective; yet the greener the troops, the more experienced their leaders should be. Instruction in leadership has undergone improvement; efforts have been made to adjust the conditions of training to the circumstances of the busy man who is the real social leader in Canada, and therefore the proper military leader; the improvement in the knowledge of the officer is somewhat masked by the higher and more subtle demands made upon him; still, there is betterment. The non-commissioned officers, in their lack of knowledge, their shortcomings in leadership, and their disinclination to exercise authority, are the weakest point in the whole system. The problem of the private remains as difficult as when Selby Smyth and Luard despaired. An absolutely raw man cannot be made an efficient soldier in twelve days, or in sixteen days. And the militiaman comes to camp a raw recruit, disabled by his lack of elementary drill from profiting by the higher training which he absorbs readily when given a fair chance.

This twofold problem, of the raw recruit at the peace training and, worse still, of the raw recruit on mobilization, may be solved by the cadet system. In Australia and New Zealand universal training is in force alike for young boys, for adolescent lads, and for young men. If Canada had the Australasian system the twofold difficulty would disappear once the system was under way; the eighteen-year-old recruits would come to the militia practised in the elementary training the lack of which in the Canadian recruits of to-day cripples all efforts to give them advanced training; and the additional personnel required on mobilization would be supplied by the reservists between the ages of twenty-two and twenty-five, just dismissed from their three years’ service. No proposal has been made by any public man in Canada to establish the Australian policy of compulsory service from eighteen to twenty-one and reservist service for four years longer. But a general adoption of the cadet system in peace would give the force recruits practised in elementary drill, and on mobilization would complete it to war establishment with men of higher training and better discipline than can be hoped for at present. It is probable that each year 75,000 or 80,000 Canadian youths attain the age of eighteen. If 50,000 of these had undergone four years’ cadet training, the militia would get recruits fit for comparatively advanced training, and after a few years the bulk of the male population between twenty and thirty, on whom it would be necessary to draw for the 200,000 who would be needed to complete mobilization and to maintain the force in the field, would have some knowledge of military discipline and would be partly trained.

Colonel Hughes, who in 1911 succeeded Sir Frederick Borden as minister of Militia, has made this cadet problem peculiarly his own, and is pushing the organization work vigorously. There is an officer of the headquarters staff specially charged with this work; there are now some 700 cadet companies and squadrons (for there are a few mounted cadets in the West) and about 27,000 cadets; and a beginning has been made with the training of cadets in local camps under military conditions. This movement is allied to the movement promoted by the Strathcona Trust for the physical training of school children, and has been taken up somewhat unequally by the educational authorities of the provinces, Nova Scotia leading. A feature of these movements is the interest taken by the Militia department in the teaching profession; instructors in physical training are being furnished for female teachers, while schoolmasters who interest themselves are commissioned as officers, given sundry allowances, and encouraged in every way.

[1] Wastage varies with the different arms. In the case of a field army it is calculated to average about seventy per cent during the first year of a war.

[2] One troop has a wireless section attached.

[3] Each has a telegraph detachment attached.


The earlier military relations between Great Britain and the several colonies were not imperial in the modern sense of the word; they did not become so until the opening of the twentieth century. The era of the colonial garrison provided by the United Kingdom ended for Canada in 1871, and during the thirty years that ensued there is little to record. Whenever Great Britain was threatened with war, as in 1877-78 and in 1885, individual Canadians volunteered their services, and a party of Canadian voyageurs was engaged by the United Kingdom for the Nile expedition of 1885. The leading event in the way of imperial preparation for war was the formation of the Colonial, now the Overseas, Defence Committee. The danger of war with Russia set numerous seaports all over the Empire clamouring for defences, and as a co-ordinated policy on the subject became necessary, there was formed a joint committee representing the Admiralty, the War Office and the Colonial Office; this proved so useful that it was made permanent. It has developed into an important though little known body, a technical sub-committee of the more widely known Imperial Defence Committee, and the most convenient channel for exchange of views between the mother country and the dominions. It may be added that the colonial conference of 1887 made a beginning with the solving of an administrative difficulty of real importance—the terms under which colonies might use imperial officers. Cases had occurred of imperial officers being threatened with the loss of their pensions for helping colonial governments, and it was arranged that henceforth employment by colonies was to count, for purposes of promotion and retired pay, as imperial service. Some twenty years later this principle was pursued to its logical end, and it is now provided that the pensions of officers who have been employed by the dominions as well as the United Kingdom shall be defrayed proportionately by the governments that have benefited by their services.

The imperial awakening at first set the military reformers of the Empire off upon what proved an unprofitable line of agitation. In 1900 New Zealand passed an act known as the ‘New Zealand Defence Act Amendment Act, 1900,’ which among other things sanctioned the formation in the colony of an Imperial Reserve Force which was to be expressly available for use overseas in imperial wars. The New Zealand government submitted to the colonial conference of 1902 a resolution proposing that a similar force be formed in all the dominions. Encouraged by this, the War Office submitted to the conference a definite scheme whereby each dominion should maintain local forces ear-marked for imperial wars, as follows:

{2 mounted brigades} 
Australia1 infantry brigade9,000
New Zealand{1 mounted brigade} 
2 infantry battalions4,500
Canada{1 brigade division, field artillery}
1 infantry brigade3,000

The government of the United Kingdom pressed this scheme upon the prime ministers of the dominions, and it was decisively rejected. In resisting it the Canadian ministers observed that the proposal, as well as the suggestion of direct contributions for naval defence which Lord Selborne had put forward, ‘would entail an important departure from the principle of colonial self-government,’ and they made the counter proposal that ‘Canada in the development of its own militia system will be found ready to respond to that desire [of the mother country to be relieved of some of its burdens] by taking upon itself some of the services in the dominion which have hitherto been borne by the imperial government.’ They also avowed a desire to carry out their defence schemes in co-operation with the imperial authorities. By 1907, when the next conference met, the War Office had abandoned the scheme of prearranged contingents and ear-marked local forces. There was debate about the Committee of Imperial Defence, that new and interesting body which is exercising an increasing influence in the larger politics of the Empire. In 1903 Sir Frederick Borden had been invited to attend this committee, and had discussed with its members two subjects relating to Canada, the approaching revision of the Militia Act, and the taking over by the Dominion of the garrisoning of Halifax and Esquimalt; in 1905 the committee had prepared a plan of defence for the Commonwealth of Australia. The Hon. Alfred Deakin, the prime minister of Australia, urged that the dominions should have the right, not merely of consulting the committee, but also of sending representatives to explain their views. British opinion was moving in the same direction; there was ready agreement, and an important step, of a semi-constitutional nature, was taken in the relating of the defence problems of the several portions of the Empire. It may be interjected that in 1907, in 1909, in 1911 and in 1912 representatives of Canada and the other dominions sat in the committee. In 1907 Sir Frederick Borden and the other defence ministers sat with the committee; in the subsequent years the premiers, and most, if not all, of the dominion ministers then in England, attended. To return to 1907, the practical and technical counterpart of the decision with regard to the committee of imperial defence was a series of steps that culminated in the establishment of an imperial general staff. The British army had undergone reorganization, and a general staff had been created. That staff laid before the conference certain important papers. Two, signed by General Sir Neville Lyttelton, the chief of the general staff, dealt with ‘The Strategical Conditions of the Empire from the Military Point of View’ and ‘The Possibility of assimilating War Organization throughout the Empire,’ while Sir W. G. Nicholson, quartermaster-general, and Sir C. F. Hadden, master-general of the ordnance, signed a paper on ‘Patterns and Provision of Equipment and Stores for Colonial Forces,’ from which quotation has already been made.

Sir Neville Lyttelton’s strategical paper laid down three fundamental principles of imperial preparation:

1st. The obligation imposed on each self-governing community of providing as far as possible for its own security.

2nd. The duty of arranging for mutual assistance upon some definite lines in case of need.

3rd. The necessity for the maintenance of that sea supremacy which alone can secure any military co-operation.

He proposed to secure the recognition of these principles in the defensive preparations of the Empire by the organization of an imperial general staff. This carried the idea of establishing in the Empire common types of organization, co-ordinated plans for action, a common way of thinking on military problems, a common doctrine of war, and a common standard of education among the higher officers. This was driven home by Lyttelton’s second paper, on assimilating war organizations throughout the Empire. This memorandum proposed a common terminology and a uniform system of associating troops. After urging the importance of unity of system he observed:

In view of the probability that the colonies will take an ever-increasing part in future wars in which the welfare of the Empire is at stake, it has, for the same reasons, been thought advisable to submit, for the consideration of the Colonial Conference, the subject of the possibility of assimilating the war organizations of the colonies more closely to that of the United Kingdom.

Five proposals were put forward. The first was that the same military terms should be used throughout the Empire; in Canada the infantry unit is termed a ‘regiment,’ whereas elsewhere in the Empire it is termed a ‘battalion.’ The second was that any unit sent as part of a future contingent to an imperial war should be composed of the numbers prescribed by the British war establishments. Thirdly, if a number of units were sent, they should be grouped in the same standard manner: mounted troops should be organized as ‘mounted brigades,’ and dismounted troops should be organized into divisions, or at least into infantry brigades, with a due proportion of divisional troops. Fourthly, whatever the size of the contingent sent by a colony, it should be accompanied by the requisite number of administrative field units. Fifthly, administrative units on the lines of communication should be provided entirely by the United Kingdom.

These suggestions were accepted by the conference, a cautiously worded resolution of approval being passed.

The defence conference of 1909 saw the military authorities of the Empire still working along the same line, and the principal achievement in the way of land defence was the development of the imperial general staff. Sir William Nicholson, the new head of the general staff at the War Office, put in several papers in which, after some observations upon the general situation, it was suggested that the dominions should plan to give mutual aid in war time.

Free from the administrative difficulties which are inseparable from the work of providing reliefs and drafts of trained men for Indian and Colonial service, and from the financial burden which this implies, their task is reduced to one of so adjusting their organization for home defence as to admit of the dispatch, without delay and without dislocation, of whatever forces they may be prepared to send to the aid of the mother country or of any other portion of the Empire.

Better organization and better training were urged upon the dominions, and it was suggested that their defence acts might be amended so as to make it possible for units to volunteer as such for oversea service. The requirements as to organization were laid down in greater detail; for example, no less than thirteen species of line of communication units were mentioned. The proposals for the imperial general staff were more elaborate, and showed that progress had been made. Canada by this time had in her service several general staff officers, had sent several officers to the Staff College at Camberley, and was organizing her section of the imperial general staff. The conference arrived at agreement upon a number of points. General concurrence was expressed in the proposition ‘That each part of the Empire is willing to make its preparations on such lines as will enable it, should it so desire, to take its share in the general defence of the Empire.’ It was agreed that the war establishments of the home regular army should be accepted as the basis on which the organization of units of the forces belonging to the dominions should, as far as possible, be modelled. This agreement extended even to questions of transport, it being arranged that the first-line transport[1] of units should be of imperial pattern, while the second-line transport might be of local pattern. Any contingent sent overseas by a dominion was to be accompanied by a due proportion of administrative units, both with and in rear of the fighting troops. The dominions agreed to adopt the field service regulations and training manuals issued to the home regular army; they were to be consulted in the revision of these treatises. The dominions were to adopt as far as possible imperial patterns of arms, equipment and stores. The officers performing general staff duties throughout the Empire should (1) be responsible to and under the control of their own governments, (2) be members of one body, the imperial general staff. These general staff officers were to improve the education of the officers of the local forces.

In the following year occurred the visit of inspection to Canada made by General Sir John French, the imperial inspector-general. Lord Kitchener had been invited to visit Australia and New Zealand and prepare for them a scientific scheme of defence; the Canadian government asked Sir John French to scrutinize the system that had already been devised and was under way. The imperial inspector-general arrived on May 20, 1910, and made his report early in July, his duties having taken him as far west as Banff. Lord Kitchener had been given a free hand in Australasia and had reported a scheme of universal service, which provides: (1) cadet training to give elementary drill, thus enabling the militia proper to undergo real training; (2) more or less trained reservists to fill the cadres on mobilization. Sir John French in his report contented himself with the following rather guarded observation:

I am not called upon to express opinions on the subject of universal service, nor do I wish to do so, but I am not prepared, at present, to say that the volunteer system is inadequate to the requirements of the Dominion, because that system has not yet, in my opinion, had a fair trial.

He went on to say that ‘the full measure of service and obligation which a volunteer, whether officer or private, takes upon himself must be exacted,’ and to observe that this was not done. His report, which recognized what had been attempted, nevertheless pronounced the force to be far short of what it should be. He summarized the principal shortcomings as

lying in an insufficiently developed organization; inadequate knowledge in the higher command;[2] in the test qualifications for officers and non-commissioned officers of the active militia laid down in regulations not being strictly enforced; and in the rank and file not being compelled to fulfil their engagements. Only when the regulations which govern the constitution and maintenance of the Canadian militia are strictly enforced will it be possible to say whether the present system meets the defensive requirements of the country or not.

Sir John French laid great stress upon sound organization, and criticized the organization of the militia, on the grounds that the proportion between the various arms of the service was not correctly adjusted and that the divisions, which it was proposed to form on mobilization, would find themselves in an organization to which they had not been accustomed in peace, and placed under commanders and staff who would have had no sufficient practice in handling such formations. It must be borne in mind that at this time the system of ‘higher commands’ existed and that the divisional organization was imperfect. The annual camp trainings were pronounced ‘only a large collection of troops without any organization in formations of all arms.’ His examination of the mobilization arrangements was searching and his verdict unfavourable. ‘At present,’ he said, ‘it would not be possible to put the militia in the field in a fit condition to undertake active operations until after the lapse of a considerable period.’ He insisted on the importance of having an adequate staff, adverting to, and meeting, the ignorant attacks upon the headquarters staff that had been common in Canada. We may pass over numerous criticisms on points of detail, and notice that he suggested the organization of the militia of Eastern Canada into one cavalry division of four brigades, five infantry divisions, two field forces, and garrisons. Two divisions were to be found in Ontario west of Toronto; a third in Eastern Ontario; a fourth in the Province of Quebec; and another in the Maritime Provinces. For these formations there would be lacking one cavalry regiment, one battery of horse artillery, seven brigades of field artillery, four howitzer brigades, one heavy battery, three field troops of engineers, five field companies, four telegraph detachments, twelve army service companies, a cavalry field ambulance and three field ambulances. For the West he recommended mounted rifles supported by horse artillery, with a certain amount of infantry and perhaps heavy artillery to defend Winnipeg and other important centres, hold posts on the railway lines, and to act as rallying points to mounted rifles.

Sir John French’s report was followed by a rapid advance in organization. The ‘higher commands’ disappeared and were replaced by ‘divisional areas,’ an attempt being made with greater vigour than before to adjust the troops within an area to the purposes of mobilization. Six divisions were formed in the East instead of five, and the organization already explained was devised. An attempt was made to remedy the bad proportion of the arms and to make good the deficiencies; and mobilization preparations were pushed in all directions except that of providing stores.

The imperial conference of 1911 showed that progress had been made in the matter of the imperial general staff, which by that time had been two years in existence, having been created early in 1909. This was principally apparent in the arrangements effected for loans, attachments and interchanges of, and between, officers of the regular army and officers of the forces of the dominions. Canada, for instance, was able to report five general staff officers at work and six more (one for mobilization duties at headquarters) about to be employed. Something had been done towards working out a system that would respect the principle of local control and yet permit free interchange of advice and assistance; in Canada the difficulty had been met by allowing correspondence to take place between the general staff officers in Canada and in the United Kingdom, on condition that it was open to the inspection of the minister. The formation of a ‘Dominions section’ in London was advised. Considerable progress was reported in the standardization of military education in the Empire. As early as 1903 Lord Dundonald had set on foot a movement to have Canadian permanent force officers subjected to the same examinations as those of the regular army, and by this time the system was working in a fairly satisfactory way. Another matter that was arranged was the regulating of visits from the imperial inspector-general; regulations were drawn up under which that officer’s services would be available for any dominion desiring them. The Dominions section was created on April 1, 1912; it consisted at the outset of one officer from Canada and one from Australia, its duties being described by a competent authority as ‘to study our [the United Kingdom] system of education, training and staff duties; to learn the latest ideas on the subject of strategy and tactics; to supply the chiefs of the imperial general staff with information on local matters in their respective dominions, and to correspond on all such matters with their local chiefs.'[3]

So we come to the end of our survey. The defence problems of Canada now are defence problems of the Empire. The outlook is not so much southwards as seawards. The congeries of scattered units, raised for purposes of the narrowest local defence and designed to be mere auxiliaries to an army furnished by the United Kingdom, have become a national army, planned as a coherent whole, and designed to fit into a world-wide system of military preparation. Great weaknesses of organization persist, and still greater weaknesses of training, and there is an indisposition to exact all the services that a man contracts to perform. But the outlook of the force is imperial, the plans of its organizers are definite and intelligible. With all its imperfections, it is the national army of Canada, designed at once to guard her soil and to enforce the integrity of the British Empire.

[1] First-line transport comprises vehicles such as ammunition-carts and water-carts, which are kept close to the troops. Second-line transport comprises wagons, which are kept at some distance on the road from the units they serve.

[2] By 'higher command' here Sir John French meant the art of leading large bodies of troops.

[3] The Times Empire Number, Overseas Edition, May 24, 1912, p. 8


Confederation and Finance

In Britain, after the delivery of the annual budget speech, the question whether the national treasury is in the enjoyment of a surplus or is weighted with a deficit, is never a subject for debate. There the national book-keeping is conducted on such plain and sound principles that every one knows at once whether the revenue for the year has balanced the expenditures and whether in consequence certain taxes may be lessened or remitted, or whether it is necessary to levy additional taxes, or float a loan, to meet the financial needs of the year. In Canada, however, it is commonly the curious privilege of the minister of Finance to congratulate the country on having a surplus of revenue over expenditure, and his disagreeable duty to ask parliament to authorize the government to place a new loan on the British market in order to provide for the exceptional expenditures which the enterprise, prosperity and progress of the country demand. If the ordinary revenue and expenditure of the Dominion were fairly uniform in amount and similar in character, and if the purposes for which loans are effected were of an exceptional character and rarely occurring, the system might commend itself to the intelligence of the ordinary citizen. But, since the expenditure on what is called capital account is as customary and continuous as many other forms of national expenditure, and since there is endless dispute as to what is and what is not properly to be considered capital expenditure, the time-honoured system of presenting to the public of Canada their annual financial statement and public accounts is scarcely conducive to a clear understanding of the matters in question. It is obviously discouraging to any well-meant effort on the part of the people to understand the national finances to find that after the annual financial statement is made, it is almost invariably attacked on the ground that it is quite erroneous and misleading. Quite irrespective of the party in power, members of the opposition proceed to demonstrate with statistical evidence, apparently as convincing as that of the government, that the country is burdened with a deficit instead of enjoying a surplus, and that the outlook for the future is altogether of a different complexion from that presented by the government. These and other strange phenomena in connection with Canadian finances we find are not the products of yesterday, but were introduced at Confederation, and can only be understood through the aid of a clear appreciation of the system of finances established for the Dominion at that time. It will be necessary, therefore, to set forth as clearly as possible the financial features of Confederation and the foundations laid immediately afterwards for the future conduct of the Dominion finances and national book-keeping.

While providing for the ultimate confederation of the whole of the British provinces in North America, the British North America Act effected at first the union of only the three most important provinces—Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In the process of confederation Canada was once more divided into two provinces, henceforth named Ontario and Quebec, but corresponding to the old provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. The discussion which took place at the conferences preceding Confederation[1] made it plain that considerable time and much detailed negotiation would be involved in determining what were to be the ultimate financial obligations of the Dominion and the provinces respectively. Moreover, while it was a simple matter to determine the sources of national and provincial revenues, yet there were features connected with this which gave no little concern to those negotiating the union. One of the most important was the prospect of the provinces having in the future to rely upon direct taxation for a large part of their revenue, and direct taxation was at that time extremely unpopular throughout the British provinces.

[1] See Appendix i to this article.

The Dominion and the Provinces

Certain arrangements, partly permanent and partly provisional, were made in order to avoid dangerous complications, especially the temporary paralysis of the finances, and consequently of the functions of government, while the new central and provincial governments were being established. It was determined that the Dominion government, which was to take over permanently the customs and excise duties which constituted much the greater part of the previous provincial revenues, should also assume all the provincial debts and provide, out of the central revenues, certain definite cash subsidies for the support of the administrative functions of the new provinces. The executive government, the Civil Service and the public buildings at Ottawa, previously belonging to the united provinces of Canada, were taken over as the nucleus of the Dominion Government Service, except those which were connected with the functions assigned to the future provincial governments, such as education, crown lands, etc.

In accordance with the financial arrangements arrived at,[1] the British North America Act provided that the duties and revenues formerly collected and appropriated by the three provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, with the exception of such portions of these revenues as were reserved by the act to the new provinces, should constitute the revenue of the Dominion of Canada. These revenues were to be combined into one ‘Consolidated Revenue Fund’ to be appropriated for the public service of Canada subject to such conditions and charges as were provided for by the British North America Act. The specific charges on the Consolidated Revenue Fund arranged in the order of their precedence were as follows:

1. The cost of collection and management of the fund.

2. The interest on the public debt.

3. The salary of the governor-general.

The remainder of the fund might be appropriated by the parliament of Canada. As we shall see, it was not long before a further series of preference charges were added by the Dominion government.

All stocks, cash, bankers’ balances and securities belonging to the several provinces were to be transferred to the Dominion and the debts of the respective provinces were to be reduced by corresponding amounts. The public works and other property of the provinces, which were to become the property of the Dominion, were specifically enumerated in a special schedule to the act, all other property to belong to the new provinces. It especially mentioned that lands, mines, minerals, and the royalties on them, were to belong to the respective provinces. In the case of Ontario and Quebec the distribution of the provincial debts, credits and other properties as between them was to be settled by a board of three arbitrators. As already indicated, in taking over from the original provinces the chief sources of revenue, including customs and excise, the Dominion was required to assume all the debts and liabilities of the provinces contracted up to the time of Confederation, whether some of these should or should not afterwards be judged to belong to the respective provinces. In case any of these liabilities were subsequently declared to pertain to a province, all revenues and assets connected with them were to be credited to the province and all payments made in connection with them would be charged to it. The adjustment of the obligations in connection with several features as between the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec and the Dominion of Canada involved difficult and protracted negotiations, and was ultimately settled only within the last ten years. The first board of arbitrators appointed simply settled the general principles of division between the provinces and the Dominion, leaving it to the officials to work out the details. In certain cases this was found to be impossible; hence a final board was constituted, consisting of Chancellor Boyd, Justice Caussault and Justice Burbidge, to dispose of the remaining difficulties.

In order to establish a basis for the adjustment of the obligations as between the Dominion and the provinces, a certain definite amount of debt, for which the province was to be henceforth liable, was allowed to each province. These amounts were officially referred to as the ‘Debt Allowances’ of the respective provinces. Any debt which a province might prove to have in excess of its debt allowance, while assumed by the Dominion, was yet to be charged to the province. Interest at the rate of five per cent on this excess debt was to be allowed to the Dominion and might be deducted from any other moneys due to the province from the Dominion. In case, however, the actual debt of a province should prove to be less than its debt allowance, the Dominion government, not having to meet this obligation elsewhere, was required to pay over to the province interest at the rate of five per cent on the difference between the amount of its actual debt and the amount of the debt allowance. The debt allowances of the respective provinces were as follows: for Ontario and Quebec, jointly, $62,500,000; for Nova Scotia, $8,000,000; for New Brunswick, $7,000,000.

Apart from the adjustment of the debts of the province to be assumed by the Dominion, each province was to be allowed from the Dominion treasury certain annual grants in support of its legislative and executive government. In the first place, there were certain specific amounts to be granted annually as follows: Ontario, $80,000; Quebec, $70,000; Nova Scotia, $60,000; and New Brunswick, $50,000. In the second place, a per capita grant was to be made to each province on the basis of eighty cents per head of the population, as determined by the census of 1861. This allowance was final in the case of Ontario and Quebec, but in those of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick the amount was to follow the increase of population at each decennial census until the population reached 400,000 in each province, at which the allowance per capita would be made stationary. To New Brunswick a special annual grant of $63,000 was allowed for ten years, there being deducted from this, however, whatever interest might be due to New Brunswick on the difference between her actual debt and her debt allowance. These financial terms as between the provinces and the Dominion were intended to be final; in the language of the British North America Act, ‘such grants shall be in full settlement of all future demands on Canada.’ The settlement, however, was not of long duration.

The future finances of Canada were further materially affected by the obligation laid on the Dominion by the British North America Act to construct the Intercolonial Railway, in order to connect Halifax with the St Lawrence, this being a condition of the lower provinces entering Confederation. It was further stipulated that this undertaking should be commenced within six months after the issue of the proclamation establishing the Dominion. The contribution made to this enterprise on behalf of the imperial government was the guarantee of a loan to be negotiated by the Canadian government to the extent of £3,000,000 sterling, at not more than four per cent interest. Various conditions were attached to this guarantee, such as the priority of the interest charges on the Canadian revenue, the establishment of a sinking fund for the repayment of the loan, etc.

With reference to the constitutional features affecting Dominion finances, it was provided in the British North America Act that among the powers conferred upon the Dominion government were:

(a) The right to deal with the public debt and property.

(b) The raising of money by any mode or system of taxation, whereas the provinces were limited to direct taxation.

(c) The borrowing of money on the public credit. All bills for the appropriating of money or the levying of taxes must originate with the House of Commons, and everything for which money is appropriated or taxes levied must first be recommended to the House of Commons by a message of the governor-general.

[1] See Appendix ii to this article.

John Langton and Dominion Finance

The management of the Canadian finances during the important changes incident to the formation of the Dominion and the division of its functions from those of the provinces was largely in the hands of John Langton, the first auditor-general of the Dominion. Langton had been in charge of the Audit Office of United Canada since 1856 and possessed exceptional ability and industry. Before his appointment, in Canada and in practically all the other provinces at the time of Confederation, the chief revenues and expenditures were collected and disbursed by special boards. These boards after collecting the revenue first deducted the cost of collection and transmitted to the treasury only the net surplus. Where the chief functions of the boards were the administration of public works, certain revenues being also collected, they applied the revenues obtained so far as they were available and drew upon the provincial treasuries for the excess expenditure only. Langton introduced the system of requiring all moneys received and all money paid out to be entered in the public accounts in order that the full details of all financial transactions might be laid before parliament. This system was transferred to the Dominion at the time of Confederation, when Langton became the first auditor-general. We thus find evidence of Langton’s guiding hand in the act respecting the collection and management of the revenue and the order of the public accounts passed in the first session of the Dominion parliament. It is there provided that ‘the public revenue shall include all revenue and public money whether arising from duties of customs or other duties, or from the Post Office, or from tolls for the use of canals, railways or other public works, or from penalties or forfeitures, or from rents or dues, or from any other source whatever, whether the moneys belong to the Dominion or are collected by officers of the Dominion for or on account of or in trust for any province, or for the Dominion Government or for any other party.’ This meant that all funds which came into the hands of the Dominion government, whether in the way of actual revenue or only as deposits or trust funds, however temporary their custody, had to be entered as revenues and their disbursements as expenditure.

This system of national book-keeping no doubt had the advantage of bringing all the money paid over to the government and all the payments made by the government officially within the purview of parliament. But it would appear that this object might have been secured without bringing all manner of receipts and payments into one account entered in a single balance-sheet. In fact, it has been practically impossible to accomplish the object sought; while, owing to the very unsatisfactory classification and treatment of expenditures on so-called capital accounts, the real income and expenditure of the country have been beclouded and obscured. On the one hand, it is impossible for the ordinary citizen to obtain a clear idea of what it all means; while, on the other hand, it is possible for those whose interest it is to cultivate false impressions, whether of an optimistic or pessimistic character, as to the country’s finances, to accomplish their purpose with considerable facility and without the opportunity being afforded for clearly refuting their spurious demonstrations.

In accordance with the system decided upon, the officials of the government were instructed that all moneys, from whatever sources derived, should be paid to the credit of the receiver-general. Wherever possible such moneys should be paid in by the collectors to such banks as might be designated by the governor in council, and should not be taken out except to transmit them to the receiver-general. Where there is no bank available the governor in council may direct how the moneys collected are to be paid in. The expenditure of public money was required to be made by cheque upon some bank upon the warrant of the governor in council, the cheque to be signed by the receiver-general and countersigned by the minister of Finance, or the representative deputies duly authorized. As we shall see, this system was changed in 1878.

Another of Langton’s ideas introduced immediately after Confederation, but which did not long survive in an active form, was that of a Board of Audit. Under the supervision of the minister of Finance, this board should report upon such accounts as might be referred to it. The board was to consist of the various deputy ministers and of the auditor-general, who should be chairman of the board. All accounts were to be revised in the first instance by the deputies of the respective departments and finally by the auditor-general.

Early Administration of Financial Affairs

Before Confederation and for some years afterwards there were two ministers concerned with financial affairs and two deputies. One was known as the receiver-general and the other as the inspector-general. After Confederation the latter was known as the minister of Finance. The receiver-general took charge of the income of the government, including placing of loans by the financial agents in Britain, while the inspector-general supervised all the expenditure of the national funds. All warrants for payments on behalf of the government were to be prepared by the deputy inspector-general, afterwards designated the deputy minister of Finance. The auditor-general was also required to examine and check every payment on government account, whether from ordinary revenue or trust funds of any kind. It was his special duty to see that no appropriation was exceeded or any warrants issued for which there were no parliamentary appropriations, and that no money warrant should issue except on his certificate. In the case of a difference of opinion between the auditor-general and the officials of any department, the minister of Finance, on the authority of a written opinion from the law office of the crown, might overrule the auditor-general. If there should arise an emergency during recess, on the report of the minister of Finance that no parliamentary provision had been made for a service which was of the nature of an emergency, the governor-general in council might order a special warrant to be prepared, to be signed by the governor-general in person, and on the authority of this warrant payments might be made until parliament assembled, when the matter must be laid before it and an indemnity sought for the expenditure incurred.

Such were the chief provisions made during the first session of the Dominion parliament for the administration of the financial affairs of the Dominion. In the main these provisions are still in force, although we shall have occasion to point out certain changes or modifications of a more or less important character.

Immediately after Confederation it was of course necessary to provide for the requisite expenditure to carry on the affairs of the country between the proclamation of the new Dominion on July 1, 1867, and the election and assembling of the first Dominion parliament. This expenditure was incurred on the joint responsibility of the ministers of the crown.

The first parliament of Canada was opened at Ottawa on November 7. Just before the assembling of parliament the Hon. A. T. Galt, who had been appointed minister of Finance, resigned, and was succeeded by the Hon. John Rose of Montreal, while the Hon. Edward Kenny of Nova Scotia was appointed receiver-general. One of the first measures of the Dominion parliament was the appropriation from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of $5,264,279 towards the expenses of the public service from July 1, 1867 to March 31, 1868. No detailed estimates were submitted for the appropriation of this sum, which covered the amount previously spent on the responsibility of the ministers and left to their discretion the expenditure of so much of the remainder as might be required until the end of March 1868. The whole expenditure, however, was to be accounted for in the regular way. It was further provided that the Dominion government might redeem or purchase any debts or liabilities of the old province of Canada, or of Nova Scotia, or of New Brunswick, and might issue debenture stock of the Dominion in lieu of these obligations, provided that the new debt did not exceed the debt redeemed and that the interest on the new debt did not exceed six per cent.

A loan of $5,000,000 was authorized to be raised for general purposes. In connection with this first general loan, it was provided that Dominion loans might be raised in either of the following ways: first, by the issue of permanent stock to be authorized by order-in-council and to be known as ‘Canada Dominion Stock,’ the interest on this not to exceed six per cent, payable half-yearly and chargeable to the Consolidated Revenue Fund—this stock should not be redeemed in less than ten years, but, after that time, should be redeemable at the option of the government on six months’ notice; second, by government debentures redeemable at definite stated periods; third, by exchequer bills or bonds in sums not less than $400 with interest not to exceed six per cent and redeemable in periods fixed by order-in-council—these periods usually of short duration; fourth, by terminable annuities following the most approved English tables, the interest not to exceed six per cent. These methods of raising the money authorized by parliament naturally followed those then in vogue in Britain. All the moneys so raised were to form part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada.

Authority was also given for the raising of temporary loans, usually through the sale of exchequer bills on temporary advances from the banks, at any time, to meet the needs of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, but such loans must never exceed the authorized revenue or add to the public debt of the country.

In addition to the loans already mentioned, special loans for the construction of the Intercolonial Railway were authorized. The first was for £3,000,000 sterling, at not more than four per cent interest as provided for by the imperial government, which had undertaken to guarantee it. The second was for £1,000,000 sterling on the credit of the Consolidated Revenue Fund with interest not to exceed six per cent. The difference in interest between the two loans indicated the value of the guarantee by the British government. There was a further loan of £1,100,000 sterling for fortifications in various parts of the Dominion. This was also to be guaranteed by the British government and provided with a sinking fund. Following the lead of the British North America Act, which set forth in order of preference the three chief charges against the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the Dominion government added the special loans to the preference list in the following order:

4. The cost of the Intercolonial Railway, principal and interest.

5. The sinking fund for the Intercolonial Railway guaranteed loan. This was fixed at one per cent per annum on the capital amount. The fund, although invested in Canadian securities, to be under the control of the commissioners of the British treasury.

6. Any sum which might be advanced out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom for the Intercolonial Railway. No such moneys, however, were required to be advanced.

7. The extra loan of £1,000,000 sterling for the construction of the Intercolonial Railway on the security of the Canada Consolidated Revenue Fund alone.

8. The special loan of £1,100,000 sterling for the construction of certain fortification works in Canada guaranteed by the British treasury and to be a charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada, after the Intercolonial Railway.

9. The guaranteed loan and interest on it of £300,000 sterling, or $1,460,000 for the purchase of the rights of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the North-West Territory, which was transferred to the Dominion.

10. The sinking fund to provide for the repayment of this loan.

All the loans guaranteed by the British government have since been paid off, and now that the credit of Canada has been well established the system of issuing preference loans has been abandoned.

Two other methods of raising money were also authorized immediately after Confederation. No definite limits were placed on the sums which might be obtained in these ways. The first was connected with the establishment of the post office savings banks. Before Confederation both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick had established government savings banks and through them had obtained very considerable funds, which thus constituted a loan from the public at a moderate rate of interest. Recognizing the financial possibilities of this system, the Dominion government in taking over the savings banks from the Maritime Provinces continued the system, but soon established throughout Canada a general Post Office Savings Bank. The ordinary deposits were allowed four per cent, but special deposits of not less than $100, where the withdrawal was subject to notice, were allowed five per cent. The deposits when received were credited to special account, and when the amount exceeded $5000 the excess was to be invested in government debentures of either the Dominion or the provinces. The uninvested moneys were to be allowed five per cent, the expenses of managing the system to be paid out of the difference between the interest paid to the depositors and the interest allowed by the government to the fund. Any balance above expenses was to be paid over to the Consolidated Revenue Fund and any deficit on the management was to be paid out of the same fund. This method of meeting the expenses of management was afterwards abandoned, and the collection and management of the savings bank deposits were simply charged to ordinary expenditure. The rate of interest allowed was afterwards reduced from four to three and a half per cent, and later to three per cent. The advantage to the government at the time of establishing the savings banks was that by this means a considerable proportion of the authorized loans were taken off the ordinary stock markets, and as the British stock market was not then so ready, as later, to absorb Canadian securities at a moderate rate of interest, the leaning of the stock market was a matter of considerable importance to the value of Canadian securities. The situation at the present time, however, is very different. Canada can now borrow on such advantageous terms that an allowance of three per cent on deposits with the post office savings banks when the cost of collection and management is added, instead of representing a financial advantage to the government, represents a financial loss, since the moneys thus obtained could be procured at less cost in the open money market.

The other method of securing large loans from the public was operated under cover of affording security to the public for the premiums paid to the various insurance companies. Before Confederation the fire insurance companies made deposits with the government of various securities, whether public or private, foreign or domestic. After Confederation, however, all insurance companies, whether fire, life, inland, marine, guarantee or accident, were required to take out licences to be issued by the Finance department. Such licences were to be issued, however, only after the companies had made certain deposits in cash or certain prescribed securities. Each insurance company had to make a deposit of at least $50,000, and when the same company carried on different lines of insurance a separate deposit had to be made for each. When a company had over $50,000 in premiums, it might retain twenty-five per cent of the remainder below $100,000, as also the net amount of losses actually paid, but had to deposit the remainder with the government. The receiver-general invested the cash deposits of the companies in Dominion stock in trust for the company, and the interest on the stock was paid to the company when its public deposit was over $100,000. Various provisions were made to meet special conditions, but they did not affect the central provision of the measure. These requirements undoubtedly improved the security furnished to the policyholders, although they might lower the rate of profit to be obtained by the company and consequently diminish possible bonuses to the policyholders. The system furnished, however, a very large and more or less permanent market for Canadian government securities and, as in the case of the savings banks, assisted in maintaining a fair price for the successive issues of Dominion securities on the stock markets. The original act relating to insurance companies has been amended many times, but the central financial features of the first Dominion act still remain.

It was rather difficult for the general public to understand just how much of the deposits received from the savings banks and insurance companies represented additional funds for the government over and above the proceeds of the specific loans authorized and negotiated. In the first place, the securities deposited on behalf of the insurance companies were partly British and foreign securities and partly Canadian securities, purchased in the open market. When, however, the cash deposits were invested in Dominion stock not constituting part of any previous loan, the government was thereby furnished with extra receipts and the public debt increased to a similar extent. In virtue of this situation there arose protracted controversy between the government and the opposition as to the extent to which savings banks and insurance companies were furnishing the government with new funds and thereby increasing the national debt. In his budget speech of 1871 Sir Francis Hincks referred to the vigorous criticism which had been directed against the government on account of its manipulation of forced loans from the public by means of the post office savings banks and the extensive deposits required from the insurance companies. In reply to this criticism he pointed out that only a portion of the deposits made by the insurance companies and received from the savings banks represented increased funds placed at the disposal of the government. Some of the securities deposited by the companies were British and American and thus did not benefit the Canadian government in any way; while others represented portions of the securities issued by the Canadian government as part of the regularly authorized loans. Such Canadian securities represented neither an increase of the Dominion debt nor an increase in the Dominion revenues. Only so much of the insurance and savings bank deposits as were obtained in cash and invested in Dominion stock represented an increase of revenue and of debt. Thus out of about $4,000,000 of insurance deposits only $1,837,000 afforded new revenue for the government, and out of $2,387,650 of savings bank deposits, $1,859,000 represented new funds for the government. If, however, these facts were not made sufficiently clear to enable ministers of the crown and other members of parliament to understand the proper bearing of the returns available, it is little wonder that the ordinary citizen was entirely bewildered by them.

In the depositing of its securities the government was authorized to make arrangements with one or more financial agents in London or elsewhere. As a matter of fact the government divided its financial dealings between Glyn, Mills, Currie and Company and Baring Brothers and Company, of London, and the Bank of Montreal, in Canada. Later the Bank of Montreal, having offices in London as well as in Canada, virtually conducted the whole of the Dominion government’s business in the negotiation and management of its loans. At this point it may be well to indicate briefly the process followed in negotiating a government loan.

The Public Debt

The gross public debt is made up of the loans contracted in Great Britain, the loans contracted in Canada, the deposits in the government savings banks, the Dominion note circulation, the trust funds, balances due to the provinces of the Dominion and what are called miscellaneous and banking accounts. That portion of the public debt contracted, domiciled and payable in Great Britain comprises more than half the gross public debt. When a loan is required, the financial agents of the Dominion in London call for tenders therefor, issuing for that purpose a prospectus giving the amount of the loan, the minimum tender to be sent in, the rate of interest, the manner in which the loan will be issued, whether by registered stock or debentures or partly by each and convertible from one to the other. The prospectus also states whether the loan is to be secured by a sinking fund, and if so the amount to be set aside each year towards this fund. Accompanying the prospectus a blank form of tender is attached, and as the prospectus is fully advertised and as Canadian investments are popular, a very great number of tenders are generally sent in. The tenders are opened publicly in the office of the financial agents at the date and hour set forth in the prospectus. Not infrequently the loan is over-subscribed. When this is the case the allotment is made in manner as follows: say the loan is to be £5,000,000 and the minimum is placed at 98 for a three per cent loan and the tenders were received in this manner:


All the tenders at higher than the minimum rate would receive allotments in full of their tenders, and those who tendered at the minimum would receive allotments for a quarter of their tenders. Allotments are paid in instalments spread over a short period of time, and if paid in full or earlier than the due date, a reasonable discount is allowed and interest on the loan is allowed to commence from the date just before the instalments fall due. There is another form of borrowing in Great Britain besides the fixed time loans, and this is by way of exchequer bills. This is a method used by the imperial authorities as well as by those of the Dominion. Whether in anticipation of the receipt of revenues from taxation or from temporary necessity, or from the reason that the amount is comparatively small and therefore not desirable to be funded into a long term loan, the Dominion issues exchequer bills, generally for six months, taking the form of Dominion promissory notes payable out of moneys coming into the exchequer. As an example, the Dominion government pays to the governments of the provinces the Dominion subsidies half-yearly in advance, and it might well happen that on some occasions the cash in the exchequer was not sufficient to meet the sum required, which is somewhere over $4,500,000. In that case the Dominion government might as a temporary measure issue £1,000,000 in exchequer bills. The same necessity might arise through heavy payments being required immediately to be made on account of contracts on the great national undertakings. These exchequer bills are in much favour with large financial institutions in Great Britain and often on the continent of Europe, as, bearing interest and only having a short term of currency, they are very convenient in forming part of the cash reserves of banks and discount companies.

From a photograph by Topley, Ottawa

The amount of loans made in Canada for fixed terms is very small. The Dominion can get better terms in England; and with mortgages, municipal loans, and other forms of investment allowed by the Trustees acts, the Canadian investor in Canada can get better rates than could be paid by the Dominion authorities.

National Book-keeping

The early legislation of the Dominion prescribed that the government accounts were to be kept by double entry in the offices of the receiver-general and minister of Finance. Annual statements of the public accounts were to be prepared as soon as possible after the conclusion of the fiscal year, setting forth the state of the public debt and the amounts chargeable against each of the public works for which any part of the debt had been contracted. A statement was also required of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and of the various trusts and special funds under the management of the government, and such other accounts and matters as might be required to show what the liabilities and assets of the Dominion really were at the date of the statement so made. As we shall have occasion to observe, the demonstration was far from successful. In the very language used to describe the accounts there was considerable ambiguity, which was likely to mislead those not intimately familiar with the domestic arrangements and usages of the department of Finance. Thus the term ‘Consolidated Fund’ is used in several different connections. The Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada, to give it the full title as used in the statutes, means primarily, as we have seen, all revenues coming into the Dominion exchequer, whether derived from taxes, imposts or loans, gathered into and consolidated in one great revenue account. From this is paid both the ordinary expenditure and capital expenditure. Again, the term ‘Consolidated Fund’ has been employed for many years to designate the ordinary revenues and expenditures of the Dominion apart from loans, trust accounts, etc. There is a third sense in which the term ‘Consolidated Fund’ is used. It is applied to the third statement in the public accounts, in which are included the ordinary receipts and expenditures, the sums paid for railroad subsidies, etc., and the balance of which is the difference between the assets and liabilities in the general balance-sheet.

Provincial Opposition to Financial Terms

We have seen that the debt allowance and annual subsidies granted to the provinces at the time of Confederation were declared to be in full settlement of all future claims of the provinces on the Dominion. A strong element in Nova Scotia led by the Hon. Joseph Howe, himself one of the earlier promoters of the idea of Confederation, strongly opposed the terms of the union, both before and after Confederation. After Confederation the agitation against its terms was conducted with much vigour. Strongly worded protests were sent to the home government setting forth the grievances of Nova Scotia and urging the repeal of the union, as far, at least, as that province was concerned. For various reasons the home government was adverse to seeing the work of Confederation undone, and the representations of Nova Scotia were unfavourably received. At the same time the colonial secretary represented to the Dominion government that it would be advisable to consider carefully the claims set forth by Nova Scotia. At the time of the first election for the Dominion parliament Dr Charles (afterwards Sir Charles) Tupper was the only supporter of the government returned from the Province of Nova Scotia. During the first session of parliament the members for that province led by Howe, while attending at the capital, gave expression to their views on matters relating to the treatment of their province, yet stood aloof from the general business of the session. The chief objections of Nova Scotia to the financial arrangements provided by the British North America Act were:

First. That the principle assigning to each province a debt allowance based on so much per head of the population, and also the granting of a subsidy on the per capita basis, ignored entirely the tax-paying factor and resulted most unfairly to Nova Scotia, as compared with the others, and particularly the Canadian provinces.

Second. That in the appropriation of public works by the Dominion, Nova Scotia as a province lost most of her public works which were of any value, while Ontario and Quebec retained many which were of a revenue-producing character.

Third. That Nova Scotia since coming into Confederation had not only been subjected to increased taxation, but the principle upon which the taxes were imposed discriminated strongly against her.

Fourth. That if Confederation had not taken place and Nova Scotia had raised her tariff to the general rate levied by the Dominion government, the revenue would have met all her liabilities, provided for her local services and left a surplus. Under existing conditions, however, the revenue provided for her provincial needs was quite inadequate to meet those needs.

In support of these contentions Nova Scotia had furnished to the home government various statistical and other returns, which were referred for consideration to the Dominion government. At the close of the first session of the Dominion parliament the prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, opened a direct but confidential correspondence with the Hon. Joseph Howe, making overtures for a frank and thorough discussion of the various points at issue, and indicating the readiness of the Dominion government to do whatever was possible and reasonable towards reducing legitimate grievances of the eastern province. To this Howe replied that while there was much bitterness throughout Nova Scotia towards both the home government and the Canadian government, and while he personally sympathized with the desire for the repeal of the union, yet he did not favour the extreme policy advocated by some of defying both the imperial and Dominion governments and seeking annexation to the United States. He admitted that he was not hopeful of their ability to convince the home government of the necessity for repealing the union. He therefore felt inclined to accede to the request of the prime minister to have the facts of the case thoroughly investigated. This policy prevailed. The whole matter was taken up carefully between the two governments, with the result that during the session of 1869 an act was passed revising the financial terms of the British North America Act on which Nova Scotia was admitted to the Dominion. On a careful analysis of the statistics furnished the debt allowance for Nova Scotia was increased from $8,000,000 to $9,186,756. This new allowance was to be treated in the matter of interest, etc., as though it had been originally stated in the British North America Act. The annual allowance for the province was also increased from $60,000 to $82,698, being $2698 greater than the amount allowed to the Province of Ontario.

Once the constitutional right of the Dominion government to grant better terms to a province was recognized, and one province had actually secured a revision of the financial terms prescribed in the British North America Act, it was naturally difficult to bar the claims of other provinces. The sequel proved that the financial arrangements established at Confederation were to be frequently the subject of claims for revisions, sometimes at the instance of individual provinces and sometimes by a joint attack upon the Dominion treasury. Not unnaturally, perceiving the advantage secured by Nova Scotia, the other maritime province, New Brunswick, early in 1871, also began to agitate for better terms. Its claims, however, were passed over, for a time at least.

MINISTER OF FINANCE, 1872-73, 1878-85
From a photograph by Topley, Ottawa

Manitoba in the Dominion

Immediately after Confederation steps were taken to have the North-West Territory transferred to the Canadian Dominion from the control of the British government. In order to accomplish this it was first necessary to obtain the assent of the Hudson’s Bay Company, to which the territory had been granted by charter. This was eventually accomplished, the company receiving a cash subsidy of £300,000 sterling and considerable grants of land. When this territory had been transferred to the Dominion steps were immediately taken to create a part of it the Province of Manitoba. It was necessary to determine on what financial basis the new province should start its provincial career. The arrangement arrived at was embodied in the Manitoba Act of 1870. Although the province had no debt and could not therefore be granted a debt allowance as in the case of the older provinces, yet it was to be paid interest on a sum which would be the equivalent of the debt allowances of the other provinces. This was fixed at $472,090, on which interest was to be paid at the rate of five per cent. For legislative and administrative expenses the province was granted a subsidy of $30,000 per annum, as also the usual annual grant of eighty cents per head of the population, estimated at 17,000 souls. This per capita subsidy was to increase with the increase of population as determined at each census, until the population reached 400,000, at which the grant should be stationary. As in the case of the other provinces, these subsidies were to be in full settlement of all future demands on Canada.

British Columbia in the Dominion

The next province to be admitted to Confederation was British Columbia, which entered the Dominion on July 5, 1871, in accordance with the terms of the British order-in-council of May 16 of that year. This embodied the terms agreed upon as between the representatives of British Columbia and the Dominion government. The financial terms were that the Dominion was to be liable for the debts of British Columbia at the time of the union, the province to be granted a nominal debt allowance at the rate of $27.77 per head of its population, being on the same basis as the allowance made to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the population of British Columbia being taken as 60,000. As usual, interest at the rate of five per cent was to be paid by the Dominion on the difference between the actual provincial debts and the nominal debt allowance. In addition there was an annual grant of $30,000 and the usual allowance of eighty cents per head of the population, estimated at 60,000 souls, this amount to increase with the increase of population until the latter amounted to 400,000 souls. The most onerous feature, however, was that the Dominion should construct a railway to connect the Pacific coast of British Columbia with the Canadian railway system. This undertaking was to be entered upon simultaneously from the East and the West within two years of the union. The conditions as to the construction of the Pacific Railway later proved to be more onerous than anticipated, and were modified in 1875 under what were known as the ‘Carnarvon Terms,’ the chief feature of which was the extension of the time for constructing the railroad until the close of the year 1890. In 1872 the imperial government, desiring to lay the general discontent throughout Canada over the terms of the Washington Treaty, agreed to guarantee a loan for £2,500,000 sterling towards the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Prince Edward Island in the Dominion

The next province to enter Confederation was Prince Edward Island. Arrangements were completed in 1873 and the necessary measures taken with the approval and co-operation of the home government. The financial terms were made particularly generous in view of the isolated position of the province and a prospective arrangement of better terms for the other provinces. The debt allowance on the basis of $50 per head of the population amounted to $4,701,050, with interest at five per cent on the difference between the actual debt and the debt allowance, an annual subsidy of $30,000, as also the customary annual allowance of eighty cents per head of the population. A special annual grant of $45,000 was made to extinguish the claims of the great landlords to whom much of the land had been formerly granted. This amount was to be reduced, however, by the interest at five per cent on any capital sum not exceeding $800,000 which the Dominion government might contribute towards the buying out of the large proprietors.

Better Terms Agitations

As indicated, pressure was again being brought to bear upon the Dominion government to revise the financial terms granted at Confederation and subsequently in favour of all the provinces. The national revenue was in a very prosperous condition during the early seventies, and the Dominion government of the day, being badly in need of popular sympathy and support, had not the courage to resist a measure likely to be favourably received in every province. Among the acts passed in the session of 1873 was one to readjust the amounts payable to the several provinces of Canada by the Dominion government so far as their debt allowances were concerned. The joint debt allowance with which the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec entered Confederation was $62,500,000. It was found, however, when all the floating debts had been gathered in, that these provinces had a greater debt than their allowance by $10,506,088.84. It was considered expedient, therefore, to relieve the provinces of this debt and to increase the debt allowances of the other provinces in like proportion, as also to increase the equivalent amounts on which interest was paid to Manitoba and British Columbia. Prince Edward Island, as we have seen, was specially provided for during the same session in the terms of its entrance to the Dominion.

This, however, was not the end of the better terms agitation. The new province of Manitoba made constant complaint that it was unable to meet its expenses out of the revenue supplied by the Dominion. As it had no public lands to sell, it seemed, apart from the appeals to the Dominion government, to have no alternatives but bankruptcy or direct taxation. Direct taxation was out of the question and bankruptcy was not easily achieved, because a province without visible assets found it difficult to acquire creditors. Twice the Dominion government yielded to argument and importunity. In 1876 the province was granted a temporary annual increase of $26,746.90 in order to raise the revenue to $90,000 per annum. Again in 1879, instead of this temporary grant lapsing, it was increased so as to raise the annual income from the Dominion treasury to $105,000.

In 1884 all the provinces once more joined in a siege of the Dominion treasury. By an ingenious device they managed to persuade the Dominion government that when in 1873 an increased debt allowance was granted, it ought to have dated back to Confederation. Hence they now claimed, not only the arrears of capital, but of interest as well. On this basis an adjustment was effected, and what was done for the three original provinces was granted in like proportion to the three new provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. The amounts by which the capital basis of the several provinces was increased ranged from five and a third million dollars for Ontario and Quebec jointly to $83,000 for British Columbia, and the extra interest charged on the Dominion treasury amounted to upwards of $358,000 annually.

Even this new arrangement brought small comfort to Manitoba, whose annual income was increased by only $5500. The following year the Dominion government made an effort to bring to an end the chronic agitation for better terms on the part of the prairie province. Parliament passed a rather complex measure, so complex, in fact, that it required another act in the following session to explain what it meant. In substance the act transferred to the province the ownership of its swamp-lands, granted a land endowment for the University of Manitoba and enlarged the basis for cash subsidies. These concessions were granted on the basis that they should be accepted by the province as a final settlement of all claims on the Dominion. The finality lasted for not less than thirteen years. In 1898 a further allowance was granted on account of the cost of public buildings and a government house.

In 1887 an attempt had been made to reopen the matter of provincial subsidies. In that year the then premier of Quebec, the Hon. Honoré Mercier, called a conference of the provincial premiers at Quebec, and the outcome was a demand for better terms. As, however, the majority of the local governments were in opposition to the government at Ottawa, the movement met with little favour. It was concluded that, while this political condition continued, there was little prospect of again securing better terms.

Alberta and Saskatchewan in the Dominion

When the new provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were created, it was necessary to extend to them financial subsidies which were proportionate to the amounts granted to the other provinces, but with the addition of certain special grants in lieu of the public lands, mines and royalties, which were retained by the Dominion government. Identical subsidies were granted to each of the two provinces and were as follows:

(a) For the support of the government and legislature, $50,000.

(b) An annual allowance of eighty cents per head on an estimated population of 250,000, this to increase with the population of the province until it should reach 800,000 souls.

(c) As the provinces were not in debt, each was granted, in lieu of a debt allowance, interest at five per cent on $8,107,500, this affording an annual subsidy of $405,375.

(d) In view of the provinces not having their public lands as sources of revenue, a further annual grant was made based on population, as determined by the quinquennial census returns. The amount allowed until the population should reach 400,000 souls should be $375,000, from 400,000 to 800,000 souls $562,500, from 800,000 souls to 1,200,000 souls $750,000, over the last population $1,225,000.

(e) A special annual grant for five years for public buildings, $93,750.

From a photograph by Elliott and Fry. London

Better Terms Once More

Finally, in 1907 the whole question of subsidies was once more thrown into the melting-pot and once more a ‘final and unalterable’ settlement was reached. This was set forth in a petition of the Canadian government to the imperial government for an amendment to the British North America Act, increasing the subsidies and allowances of the several provinces. The petition sets forth that

It is expedient to amend the scale of payments authorized under Section 118 of the Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, commonly called the British North America Act, 1867, to be made by Canada to the several Provinces of the Dominion for the support of their Governments and Legislatures by providing that—

A. Instead of the amounts now paid, the sums hereafter payable yearly to the several Provinces for the support of their Governments and Legislatures to be according to population, and as follows:

(a)Where the population of the Province is under 150,000$100,000
(b)Where the population of the Province is 150,000 but does not exceed 200,000150,000
(c)Where the population of the Province is 200,000 but does not exceed 400,000180,000
(d)Where the population of the Province is 400,000 but does not exceed 800,000190,000
(e)Where the population of the Province is 800,000 but does not exceed 1,500,000220,000
(f)Where the population of the Province exceeds 1,500,000240,000

B. Instead of an annual grant per head of population now allowed, the annual payment hereafter to be at the same rate of eighty cents per head, but on the population of each Province, as ascertained from time to time by the last decennial census, until such population exceeds 2,500,000, and at the rate of sixty cents per head for so much of said population as may exceed 2,500,000. An additional allowance to the extent of one hundred thousand dollars annually for ten years to the Province of British Columbia.

Such grants shall be paid half-yearly in advance, to each Province; but the Government of Canada shall deduct from such grants, as against any Province, all sums chargeable as interest on the public debt of that Province in excess of the several amounts stipulated in the said Act.

Since the advent of the present government an agitation has been in progress in British Columbia for the amendment of these ‘final and unalterable’ terms for an amendment in its favour, the outcome of which is still in doubt.

The history of this subject would seem to indicate that inasmuch as increase of revenue is a perennial requirement of each government, and inasmuch as increase of taxation is a most unpopular measure to be proposed by any government, wherever it is possible for provincial governments to evade this result by an appeal to the Dominion treasury, it will be difficult to fix any final and unalterable terms putting an end to future demands on the Dominion treasury.

Revenue and Expenditure

As already indicated, the manner of presenting the annual statements of the Dominion finances adopted from the first session of the Dominion parliament rendered it possible for the ministers of Finance, on behalf of the government, to claim that there was a surplus of revenue over expenditure on the year’s transactions. At the same time, as a matter of fact, the surplus was largely fictitious, inasmuch as the public debt of the country was steadily increasing, and the so-called surplus was more than absorbed by other expenditures, which it was convenient to describe as capital expenditures, and on that account to exclude them from the ordinary items charged to the yearly revenue. There can be no question of the advisability, as a matter of information, of showing how much of the annual revenue is derived from annual taxation and how much from loans or other sources which are not of regular periodical occurrence. It is also desirable to show how much of the annual expenditure is devoted to public works and services of a more or less permanent character, as compared with those which are obviously annual and temporary, and must therefore be renewed each year through additional outlay. But the distinction which from the first was drawn between ordinary revenue and expenditure and the exceptional revenue and capital expenditure did not follow the lines indicated. Admittedly permanent and exceptional structures which were of the nature of capital investment were regularly charged to the current revenue, while other expenditures, such as salaries, were sometimes charged to capital account. Moreover, what was considered capital expenditure by one minister of Finance might be treated quite differently by his successor. It is even found that the same minister of Finance, when his annual revenue was low, charged certain items to capital account; whereas, when the revenue was flourishing, the same or similar items were charged to annual revenue. The exhibition of a surplus on the annual returns does not result in the reduction of taxation, but simply indicates that the surplus may be taken to reduce the deficit on capital expenditure. Indeed, it is considered a special triumph of successful finance to demonstrate that a very respectable proportion of the cost of certain public works has been made out of the surplus revenue, and that only the remainder had been added to the annual deficit and therefore augmented the national debt.

There can be no doubt that this peculiar method of treating the national income and expenditure arose from a traditional colonial horror of direct taxation, with a consequent necessity for disguising actual deficits and consequent increase of taxation under other terms than those commonly employed in such connections.

Canada has been in many respects fortunately situated as regards the creation of her national debt. Most of the older countries have built up their great national debts largely through military expenditures. The Canadian national debt, on the other hand, while not above criticism as to certain ill-advised and wasteful features, has nevertheless been accumulated in consequence of such public works and other permanent expenditures as were required to convert a comparative wilderness into the abode of prosperous and contented citizens. The chief question for Canadians, therefore, in surveying their finances is not whether the expenditure of the Canadian revenue should include the construction of public works which may last for years, but whether that expenditure is indispensable to the needs and requirements of the country, or represents unnecessary or extravagant outlay which might well have been spared.

The Early Ministers of Finance

Inasmuch as in this matter as in many others the policy adopted during the first few years after Confederation largely determined the lines followed ever since, it would best illustrate the principles and policies involved if we were to make a brief survey of the methods followed and principles adopted by the first ministers of Finance for the Dominion, who were admittedly men of exceptional abilities in financial as well as other lines. Moreover, these men were confronted with critics of quite a high order.

John (afterwards Sir John) Rose, in his first budget speech, admitted the difficulty of the situation in which the Dominion found itself at Confederation owing to the legacy of debt and financial confusion which had been left by the political difficulties preceding Confederation, and which were partly due to the rooted objection of the majority of Canadians to submit to adequate taxation. Rose frankly confessed that in order to dispose of the large mass of floating debt, it was necessary to secure loans wherever they could be had. He was inclined to give a preference to foreign loans as bringing new capital to the country. In this connection he mentioned as sources of revenue for the future, the proposed Dominion stock and the issue of exchequer bills, also the deposits to be required from the insurance companies, the establishment of the post office savings banks, and the extension of the government notes, now known as Dominion notes.

In the matter of expenditure Rose referred to the necessity for keeping this in check; incidentally we learn that a considerable portion of the militia service, such as barracks and supplies, was charged to capital account. In the matter of loans also there existed a very hazy distinction as to what was to be charged to capital account and what to current revenue. One important reform which he introduced was the requiring of all unused appropriations to lapse at the end of each fiscal year. In this way all the expenditures authorized would be brought before parliament each session. This reform proved to be of great importance, but it was found to be somewhat inconvenient to adhere rigidly to the rule in all cases. Hence some years afterwards certain special votes were allowed to extend beyond the fiscal year on the authority of an order-in-council, but such extension was not to exceed three months. In 1868 Rose was able to point out that the floating debt had been reduced from over seven millions to less than two millions, the reduction having been effected by the floating of new loans, the establishment of the savings banks and the realization of the insurance deposits. He introduced with much success the system of raising money by the sale of inscribed stock, that is, stock inscribed in the books of the receiver-general as distinguished from bonds with attached coupons. Arrangements were afterwards made for the issue and transfer of inscribed stock in England, and still later for the investment of British trust funds in Dominion securities.

Sir Francis Hincks, on succeeding to the position of Finance minister in the latter part of 1869, followed up the general policy of his predecessor. In his first budget speech of 1870 he admitted that he did not quite agree with his predecessor in his effort to reduce the items of expenditure to be charged to capital account. Yet Sir Francis Hincks himself, when a couple of years later the revenue had risen to unexpected proportions, transferred more of the items from capital account to ordinary expenditure than did Sir John Rose. This indicated that it was not so much a matter of principle as of funds, and had the revenues of the Dominion retained their buoyancy for a few years, we should doubtless have escaped much of the controversy of later years. The point of view and policy in this reduction of charges to capital account is well illustrated in the report of the auditor-general, Langton, prefaced to the public accounts of the year 1873 and which is as follows:

It has always been the practice to charge annually against the Capital Account of the various Public Works all expenditure for permanent additions and improvements, and there has always been a great difficulty in deciding what class of work should be so treated, and what should be charged to Consolidated Fund. Formerly no definite test existed by which to distinguish the two kinds of expenditure; and though for the last eight or ten years much less has been charged against Capital than used to be the case, still there is no doubt that, as will always occur whilst a Capital account remains open, much expenditure has been so treated, which should more properly have been considered chargeable against income. To remedy this, Parliament has during the last two years distinguished in its votes what is to be classed as Capital, and what as Consolidated Fund Expenditure; but expenditure is often taking place on the same work on account of both votes, and it is not always easy to decide how a particular item is to be charged, or upon whom rests the responsibility of making the distinction. We look upon it, therefore, as the greatest improvement in the Public Accounts, which has been introduced for many years, that you should have authorized all the miscellaneous Public Works Expenditure, which had been included under Capital in the Accounts in 1870, to be transferred to Consolidated Fund. The same thing has been done in the Accounts which we now submit, even when there was authority given by Parliament to treat the service otherwise, and the only Public Work which has been included in Capital, is the Intercolonial Railway. It is to be hoped that this system will be continued, and that nothing hereafter, excepting absolutely new works of national importance, will be authorized by Parliament to be charged against Capital. In view of this probable change in our system we would recommend, what has already been frequently reported upon, that there should be a thorough revision of the balances of Public Works as they now stand in the Statement of Affairs, with a view of striking out items which are no longer real assets, and of bringing the existing balances into harmony with the new system.

Unfortunately the revenue of the Dominion did not maintain its buoyant proportions. Great public works had been undertaken during the temporary period of prosperity which required to be continued and paid for during the succeeding years of trade and financial depression. It being incumbent upon the minister of Finance to exhibit a surplus if at all possible, even under the most adverse conditions, there was a distinct reaction in the matter of charges to capital account from which the country has not since recovered. Ten years later, in 1881 and 1882, the financial returns showed a reduction of the public debt. During the recent years of prosperity in some years the debt has been reduced, but on the whole there has been a declaration of many millions of surplus simultaneously with a steady increase of the national debt.

From a photograph by Elliott and Fry, London

The Department of Finance

As regards the system of managing the public finances, considerable improvements have taken place from time to time. In 1869 the department of Finance was formally established. This department was to have ‘supervision, control and direction of all matters relating to financial affairs, public accounts and revenue and expenditure of the Dominion.’ The auditor-general and deputy inspector-general were to be officers of the department of Finance. The Board of Audit, already referred to, was to perform its duties under the supervision of the minister of Finance. At the same time a ‘Treasury Board’ was created, to consist of the minister of Finance, the receiver-general,[1] the minister of Customs and the minister of Inland Revenue. It ‘shall act as a committee of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, on all matters relating to finance, revenue and expenditure, or public accounts which may be referred to it by the Council, or to which the Board may think it necessary to call the attention of the Council.’ In the course of its duties the Treasury Board may require from any department or officer ‘any account, return, statement, or document, or information which the Board may deem requisite for the due performance of its duties.’ The board shall have a secretary through whom to communicate with the public departments, and he may or may not hold any other office as the government sees fit. From that time the Treasury Board has played a very important part in the financial administration of the country. The following year, 1870, the office of deputy inspector-general was abolished, and the auditor-general was made deputy minister of Finance. In 1885 the number of members constituting the Treasury Board was increased to six—the minister of Finance and receiver-general, who was ex officio chairman of the board, the ministers of Customs, Inland Revenue and Justice, the secretary of state, and one other minister, to be nominated by the governor in council.

Subsequently, by the act 50-51 Vict., the Treasury Board was reconstituted and now consists of the minister of Finance and any five of the ministers belonging to the king’s Privy Council for Canada, to be nominated from time to time by the governor in council.

In 1878 a bill was introduced to abolish the office of receiver-general, but, owing to other complications, it did not pass. In the following year, however, 1879, the department of the receiver-general ceased to be a separate department, and thenceforth the minister of Finance was declared to be ex officio receiver-general. At the same time the deputy minister of Finance was to discharge the duties of deputy receiver-general.

In 1878 an important act was passed providing for the better audit of the public accounts. With several amendments introduced from time to time, chiefly in matters of detail, the present system embodies the general principles of this measure. One of the objects of this act of 1878 was to render the auditor-general independent of political influence by making the tenure of his office the same as that of the judges. He was also given full control of his office, and may promote, dismiss or suspend any officers, but such regulations as he may make for the administration of his office are subject to the approval of the Treasury Board. Provision was made for the appointment of a deputy minister of Finance who should also be secretary to the Treasury Board. He is required to keep the accounts with the financial agents of the government in England, and with the banks employed by the government to receive and pay public moneys, ‘and the accounts of moneys paid for interest on Canadian stock, debentures or other Canadian securities.’ He must countersign all Canadian debentures and keep a record of them, and also a record of all Dominion notes, savings bank deposits and other trust funds. He submits to parliament annually the public accounts as countersigned by the auditor-general.

The auditor-general must see that no cheques are issued in excess of the funds authorized by the governor-general. The old Audit Board, which had become moribund, was virtually done away with. The deputy heads of the various departments charged with the expenditure of public money are required to audit the accounts of their departments in the first instance, and are responsible for the correctness of such audit. The auditor-general, in discharging his duties on behalf of the House of Commons, has to see that all appropriations made by parliament are expended in a proper manner. To this end he is given all necessary legal and administrative authority to write vouchers for payment, to investigate accounts and to obtain such information from the various departments, or elsewhere, as may be deemed necessary. He shall make a full report to parliament on all expenditures and report in full the particulars of cases where his decisions have been overruled. Such overruling may occur on the authority of the Treasury Board supported by a written opinion of the minister of Justice that there is authority to pay the moneys in question. In all cases of dispute between the department of Finance and the auditor-general as to the payment of cheques issued under the authority of the minister of Finance, the Treasury Board shall judge of the validity of the auditor-general’s objections. Full particulars of all such cases shall be reported to the House of Commons by the auditor-general. One of the main matters with which the department of Finance is intimately connected is the customs tariff, so far as it relates to revenue. In Canada, however, for many years past, the tariff has been primarily a matter of trade policy and only incidentally a revenue-producing instrument, hence the tariff history falls more properly within the province of the article in this work dealing with economic history,[2] and there its treatment will be found. The other important matters with which the department of Finance is exceptionally concerned are those of currency and banking. The department of Finance undertakes the issue and redemption of Dominion notes and the custody of the gold reserves held against the specially authorized issues of Dominion notes and the deposits of gold in exchange for Dominion notes above the amount of these issues. It also administers the issue of the copper and silver coins as received from the Mint. In connection with the Treasury Board it deals with the issue of certificates for the establishment of new banks and the general administration of the Bank Act. In this connection it receives and publishes monthly and annual returns required from the banks. The details of these functions, however, are dealt with more fully in connection with the article on the history of the banking system of Canada.[3]

[1] See Appendix iii to this article.

[2] See 'General Economic History, 1867-1912,' in section v.

[3] See 'The Banking System of Canada' in section v.


Extract from the Resolutions adopted at Quebec in October 1864, at a Conference of Delegates from Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland

60. The General Government shall assume all the Debts and Liabilities of each Province.

61. The Debt of Canada, not specially assumed by Upper and Lower Canada respectively, shall not exceed, at the time of the Union, $62,500,000; Nova Scotia shall enter the Union with a debt not exceeding $8,000,000; and New Brunswick with a debt not exceeding $7,000,000.

62. In case Nova Scotia or New Brunswick do not incur liabilities beyond those for which their Governments are now bound, and which shall make their debts, at the date of Union, less than $8,000,000 and $7,000,000 respectively, they shall be entitled to interest at five per cent on the amount not so incurred, in like manner as is hereinafter provided for Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island; the foregoing resolution being in no respect intended to limit the powers given to the respective Governments of those Provinces by Legislative authority, but only to limit the maximum amount of charge to be assumed by the General Government; provided always that the powers so conferred by the respective Legislatures shall be exercised within five years from this date, or the same shall then elapse.

63. Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, not having incurred debts equal to those of the other Provinces, shall be entitled to receive, by half-yearly payments, in advance, from the General Government, the interest at five per cent on the difference between the actual amount of their respective debts at the time of the Union, and the average amount of indebtedness per head of the population of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

64. In consideration of the transfer to the General Parliament of the powers of taxation, an annual grant in aid of each Province shall be made, equal to eighty cents per head of the population, as established by the Census of 1861; the population of Newfoundland being estimated at 130,000. Such aid shall be in full settlement of all future demands upon the General Government for local purposes, and shall be paid half-yearly in advance to each Province.

65. The position of New Brunswick being such as to entail large immediate charges upon her local revenues, it is agreed that for the period of ten years from the time when the Union takes effect, an additional allowance of $63,000 per annum shall be made to that Province. But that so long as the liability of that Province remains under $7,000,000, a deduction equal to the interest on such deficiency shall be made from the $63,000.

66. In consideration of the surrender to the General Government, by Newfoundland, of all its rights in Mines and Minerals, and of all the ungranted and unoccupied Lands of the Crown, it is agreed that the sum of $150,000 shall each year be paid to that Province by semi-annual payments; provided that that Colony shall retain the right of opening, constructing and controlling roads and bridges through any of the said lands, subject to any laws which the General Parliament may pass in respect of the same.


Extract from the British North America Act, 1867


Creation of Consolidated Revenue Fund.

102. All Duties and Revenues over which the respective Legislatures of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick before and at the Union had and have power of appropriation, except such portions thereof as are by this Act reserved to the respective Legislatures of the Provinces, or are raised by them in accordance with the special powers conferred on them by this Act, shall form one Consolidated Revenue Fund, to be appropriated for the public service of Canada in the manner and subject to the charges in this Act provided.

Expenses of collection, etc.

103. The Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada shall be permanently charged with the costs, charges, and expenses incident to the collection, management, and receipt thereof, and the same shall form the first charge thereon, subject to be reviewed and audited in such manner as shall be ordered by the Governor-General in Council until the Parliament otherwise provides.

Interest of Provincial Public Debts.

104. The annual interest of the public debts of the several Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick at the Union shall form the second charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada.

Salary of Governor-General.

105. Unless altered by the Parliament of Canada, the salary of the Governor-General shall be Ten Thousand Pounds[1] sterling money of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada, and the same shall form the third charge thereon.

Appropriation from time to time.

106. Subject to the several payments by this Act charged on the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Canada, the same shall be appropriated by the Parliament of Canada for the public service.

Transfer of stocks, etc.

107. All Stocks, Bankers’ Balances, and Securities for money belonging to each Province at the time of the Union, except as in this Act mentioned, shall be the property of Canada, and shall be taken in reduction of the amount of the respective debts of the Provinces at the Union.

Transfer of property in schedule.

108. The Public Works and Property of each Province, enumerated in the Third Schedule to this Act, shall be the property of Canada.

Property in Lands, Mines, etc.

109. All Lands, Mines, Minerals, and Royalties belonging to the several Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick at the Union, and all sums then due or payable for such Lands, Mines, Minerals, or Royalties, shall belong to the several Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick in which the same are situate or arise, subject to any trusts existing in respect thereof, and to any interest other than that of the Province in the same.

Assets connected with Provincial Debts.

110. All Assets connected with such portions of the Public Debt of each Province as are assumed by that Province shall belong to that Province.

Canada to be liable for Provincial Debts.

111. Canada shall be liable for the Debts and Liabilities of each Province existing at the Union.

Debts of Ontario and Quebec.

112. Ontario and Quebec conjointly shall be liable to Canada for the amount (if any) by which the debt of the Province of Canada exceeds at the Union Sixty-two million five hundred thousand Dollars, and shall be charged with interest at the rate of five per centum per annum thereon.[2]

Assets of Ontario and Quebec.

113. The Assets enumerated in the Fourth Schedule to this Act, belonging at the Union to the Province of Canada, shall be the property of Ontario and Quebec conjointly.[3]

Debt of Nova Scotia.

114. Nova Scotia shall be liable to Canada for the amount (if any) by which its public debt exceeds at the Union Eight million Dollars, and shall be charged with interest at the rate of five per centum per annum thereon.

Debt of New Brunswick.

115. New Brunswick shall be liable to Canada for the amount (if any) by which its public debt exceeds at the Union Seven million Dollars, and shall be charged with interest at the rate of five per centum per annum thereon.

Payment of interest to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

116. In case the public debts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick do not at the Union amount to Eight million and Seven million Dollars respectively, they shall respectively receive, by half-yearly payments in advance from the Government of Canada, interest at five per centum per annum on the difference between the actual amounts of their respective debts and such stipulated amounts.

Provincial Public Property.

117. The several Provinces shall retain all their respective public property not otherwise disposed of in this Act, subject to the right of Canada to assume any lands or public property required for Fortifications or for the Defence of the Country.

Grants to Provinces.

118. The following sums shall be paid yearly by Canada to the several Provinces for the support of their Governments and Legislatures:

OntarioEighty Thousand
QuebecSeventy Thousand
Nova ScotiaSixty Thousand
New BrunswickFifty Thousand
Two Hundred and Sixty Thousand;

and an annual grant in aid of each Province shall be made, equal to Eighty Cents per head of the population as ascertained by the census of One thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and in the case of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, by each subsequent decennial census until the population of each of those two Provinces amounts to Four hundred thousand souls, at which rate such grant shall thereafter remain. Such grants shall be in full settlement of all future demands on Canada, and shall be paid half-yearly in advance to each Province; but the Government of Canada shall deduct from such grants, as against any Province, all sums chargeable as interest on the public debt of that Province in excess of the several amounts stipulated in this Act.

Further Grant to New Brunswick.

119. New Brunswick shall receive by half-yearly payments in advance from Canada for the period of ten years from the Union an additional allowance of Sixty-three thousand Dollars per annum; but as long as the public debt of that Province remains under Seven million Dollars, a deduction equal to the interest at five per centum per annum on such deficiency shall be made from that allowance of Sixty-three thousand Dollars.

Form of payments.

120. All payments to be made under this Act, or in discharge of liabilities created under any Act of the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick respectively, and assumed by Canada, shall, until the Parliament of Canada otherwise directs, be made in such form and manner as may from time to time be ordered by the Governor-General in Council.

Canadian manufactures, etc.

121. All articles of the growth, produce, or manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.

Continuance of Customs and Excise Laws.

122. The Customs and Excise Laws of each Province shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, continue in force until altered by the Parliament of Canada.

Exportation and importation as between two Provinces.

123. Where Customs Duties are, at the Union, leviable on any goods, wares, or merchandizes in any two Provinces, those goods, wares, and merchandizes may, from and after the Union, be imported from one of those Provinces into the other of them on proof of payment of the Customs Duty leviable thereon in the Province of exportation, and on payment of such further amount (if any) of Customs Duty as is leviable thereon in the Province of importation.

Lumber Dues in New Brunswick.

124. Nothing in this Act shall affect the right of New Brunswick to levy the lumber dues provided in Chapter Fifteen of Title Three of the Revised Statutes of New Brunswick, or in any Act amending that Act before or after the Union, and not increasing the amount of such dues; but the lumber of any of the Provinces other than New Brunswick shall not be subject to such dues.

Exemption of Public Lands, etc.

125. No Lands or Property belonging to Canada or any Province shall be liable to taxation.

Provincial Consolidated Revenue Fund.

126. Such portions of the Duties and Revenues over which the respective Legislatures of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick had before the Union power of appropriation as are by this Act reserved to the respective Governments or Legislatures of the Provinces, and all Duties and Revenues raised by them in accordance with the special powers conferred upon them by this Act, shall in each Province form one Consolidated Revenue Fund to be appropriated for the Public Service of the Province.

[1] 'On 22nd May, 1868, an Act was passed by the Senate and House of Commons of Canada reducing the salary of the Governor-General from £10,000 (at which rate it had been fixed by this section) to £6,500; but the Act having been reserved for the sanction or disallowance of Her Majesty, on 30th July, 1868, the Secretary of State for the Colonies notified the Governor-General as follows:

‘While it was with reluctance, and only on serious occasions, that the Queen’s Government can advise Her Majesty to withhold the royal sanction from a bill which has passed two branches of the Canadian Parliament, yet a regard for the interests of Canada, and a well-founded apprehension that a reduction in the salary of the Governor would place the office, as far as salary is a standard of recognition, in the third class among Colonial Governments, obliged Her Majesty’s Government to advise that this Bill should not be permitted to become law (Dom. Sess. Papers, 1869, No. 73.—Todd, Parl. Gov. in Col. 144).'—Constitution of Canada, Joseph Doutre, Q.C., p. 350.

[2] 'In reference to Provincial debts, an Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada (36 Vict. c. 30) to readjust the amounts payable to and chargeable against the several Provinces of Canada by the Dominion Government, so far as they depend on the debt with which they respectively entered the Union, providing as follows:

‘Section I. In the accounts between the several Provinces of Canada and the Dominion, the amounts payable to and chargeable against the said Provinces respectively, in so far as they depend on the amount of debt with which each Province entered the Union, shall be calculated and allowed as if the sum fixed by the 112th section of the “B. N. A. Act, 1867,” were increased from $62,500,000 to the sum of $73,006,088 and 84 cents, and as if the amounts fixed as aforesaid as respects the Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by the “B. N. A. Act, 1867,” and as respects the Provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba by the terms and conditions on which they were admitted into the Dominion, were increased in the same proportion.'—Constitution of Canada, Joseph Doutre, Q.C., p. 354.



Assets to be the Property of Ontario and Quebec conjointly

Upper Canada Building Fund.

Lunatic Asylums.

Normal School.

Court Houses }

     in         }

Aylmer,         } Lower Canada.

Montreal,      }

Kamouraska.  }

Law Society, Upper Canada.

Montreal Turnpike Trust.

University Permanent Fund.

Royal Institution.

Consolidated Municipal Loan Fund, Upper Canada.

Consolidated Municipal Loan Fund, Lower Canada.

Agricultural Society, Upper Canada.

Lower Canada Legislative Grant.

Quebec Fire Loan

Tamiscouata Advance Account.

Quebec Turnpike Trust.


Building and Jury Fund, Lower Canada.

Municipalities Fund.

Lower Canada Superior Education Income Fund.

     —Constitution of Canada, Joseph Doutre, Q.C., p. 355.

Ministers of Finance and Receivers-General since Confederation


Galt, Sir Alexander Tilloch,July1, 1867,to Nov.4, 1867.
Rose, John,Nov.18, 1867,to Oct.9, 1869.
Hincks, Sir Francis,Oct.9, 1869,to Feb.22, 1873.
Tilley, Samuel Leonard,Feb.22, 1873,to Nov.5, 1873.
Cartwright, Richard John,Nov.7, 1873,to Oct.16, 1878.
Tilley, Samuel Leonard,Oct.17, 1878,to Dec.10, 1885.
McLellan, Archibald Woodbury,Dec.10, 1885,to Jan.27, 1887.
Tupper, Sir Charles,Jan.27, 1887,to May23, 1888.
Foster, G. E.,May29, 1888,to July13, 1896.
Fielding, W. S.,July20, 1896,to Oct.6, 1911.
White, W. T.,Oct.10, 1911.  


Kenny, Edward,July1, 1867,to Nov.16, 1869.
Chapais, Jean Charles,Nov.16, 1869,to Jan.30, 1873.
Robitaille, Théodore,Jan.30, 1873,to Nov.5, 1873.
Coffin, Thomas,Nov.7, 1873,to Oct.16, 1878.
Campbell, Alexander,Nov.8, 1878,to May20, 1879.



Canada’s Population at Confederation[1]

The Dominion of Canada, composed at first of the four provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, came into being on July 1, 1867. The population of the four provinces named was in 1861 as follows: Quebec, 1,111,556; Ontario, 1,396,091; Nova Scotia, 330,857; New Brunswick, 252,047. To this confederation was added in 1870 Manitoba, with a population of slightly over 12,000; in 1871 British Columbia, with a population of 36,000; and in 1873 Prince Edward Island, with a population of 95,000.

In the years following Confederation the immigration to Canada was as follows: 1868, 12,765; 1869, 18,630; 1870, 24,706. In 1871 the first census of the Dominion of Canada was taken. Census figures are of particular interest in studying the immigration question, for they show the net result of the immigration movement. For the four provinces which, at the taking of the census referred to, constituted the then Dominion, the birthplaces of the people were as shown in the table on the next page.

From this table it will be seen that of the 3,485,761 population 2,892,763 were Canadian born, or, adding those born in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, 2,900,531 souls, leaving to be accounted for by immigration only 585,230. Of this number 488,304 were from the British Isles and British possessions; 64,447 from the United States; 24,162 from Germany; and 2899 from France, leaving a balance of 5418 coming from all other countries.

Country of BirthOntarioQuebecNew BrunswickNova ScotiaTotal for Canada
Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland1,1529972,4093,2107,768
British Isles367,86959,45932,31425,882485,524
Channel Islands2464825272852
Other British Possessions1,2012521423331,928
Russia and Poland29610596416
Spain and Portugal207541826305
Norway, Sweden and Denmark2451988758588
United States43,40614,7144,0882,23964,447
Other Foreign Countries1,09029056951,531
At Sea306423547430
Not given1,5707090981,828
Total for Four Provinces1,620,8511,191,516285,594387,8003,485,761

The same census shows the origin of the people to have been as follows:

Not given7,561

Comparing the table of origin with that of birthplace, one is struck with the great variation in the proportion between the two as to different races. The people of British origin are approximately four times the number of persons born in British possessions; those of German origin are eight times the number born in Germany; while the people of French origin are almost 374 times the number born in France. The latter race were, of course, the first settlers, and consequently their natural increase covered a much longer period than did that of the other races referred to; but even so the increase is phenomenal.

The census figures already quoted take no cognizance of Prince Edward Island, the North-West Territories or British Columbia. The figures available for those provinces are not very complete, but such as exist are worth noting, showing as they do the nature of the population in the country.

The census of 1871 of Prince Edward Island gave the population as 94,021, of whom 80,271 were born on the island The birthplaces of the remaining 13,750 were as follows:

British Colonies3246
Other Countries384
Not given323

Year by year since that date the native-born population has proportionately increased, and the immigration has decreased. The last few years, however, have seen a change, and the British immigrants are beginning to see that opportunities await them there, and it is confidently expected that a portion of the flow of immigration will proceed hereafter in the direction of Prince Edward Island.

The 1870 census of Manitoba gave the province a population of 12,228, with birthplaces as follows:

Manitoba and North-West Territories11,298
Other portions of Canada289
Other British Colonies10
United States166
Other Countries27
Not given7

The Blue Book for 1870 gave the population of British Columbia, exclusive of Indians, as 10,586, divided as follows: White race, 8576; coloured race, 462; Chinese race, 1548.

[1] For the growth of population before 1867 see the sections dealing with New France, the Two Canadas, United Canada and the various provinces.

The Decennial Census of 1881

The immigration into Canada for the next decade amounted to 339,608. This period is worthy of note in that it saw the immigration of the Mennonites and the commencement of the movement of Icelanders to Canada. Both of these races will be dealt with later on.

In 1881 the decennial census was again taken, and although accurate figures for the whole of Canada for 1871 are not available, the following table of birthplaces is interesting as showing in a general way the component parts of the population at the two periods:

BirthplaceCensus of 1871Census of 1881
British Isles and Possessions498,533478,235
Foreign Countries99,390131,083
Total Population3,602,5964,324,810

From the above table it will be seen that the number of persons born outside Canada increased from 597,923 in 1871 to 609,318 in 1881, or a net increase of 11,395. This, taken in conjunction with the gross immigration of 339,608 for the ten years from 1871 to 1880 inclusive, shows that there must have been a serious exodus from Canada during the decade under consideration. During the ten years many of the 597,923 in Canada at the taking of the census of 1871 would naturally have died, but a normal death-rate would account for only a small percentage of the apparent discrepancy.

The United States has for many years been a strong factor—in reality almost the only one—in draining Canada of her sons. Not only has she done this, but for many years she ultimately secured a considerable proportion of the immigrants who came intending to make their homes in Canada. To show the extent of this emigration to the United States the following table, taken from the census volumes of that country, is given, showing at each census the number of Canadian-born persons resident in the United States:


From these figures it will be seen that the Canadian-born resident in the United States increased from 493,464 to 717,157 between 1870 and 1880, and with this large emigration of Canadians it is only reasonable to suppose that there was likewise a heavy emigration of new settlers from the Dominion to the United States.

The Decennial Census of 1891

The departmental figures of immigration for the next ten years are as follows:

YearBritish ImmigrationContinental ImmigrationUnited States ImmigrationTotal Immigration
Total for ten years280,77378,430526,974886,177

These figures were collected by the department of Agriculture. They are not wholly accurate. From 1882 to 1891 a count was kept of persons crossing the international boundary at various points. Those entering Canada were counted as actual immigrants, though no precautions were taken to make sure that they intended to remain in Canada. Many, no doubt, were Canadians returning after the absence of a few weeks. This practice was abandoned in 1892 as misleading and has not since been resumed. While this explanation casts a certain discredit upon the figures, so far as immigration from the United States is concerned, it reflects in no way upon the figures referring to British or continental immigration to Canada, which may be taken as approximately correct. For the decade under consideration it will be noticed that the British immigration totalled 280,773 and the continental immigration 78,430. Then, again, in 1891 came the test of the census figures. From them we ascertain that at the two periods the birthplace of the people was as follows:

Birthplace of the People18811891
British Isles and Possessions478,235490,252
Foreign Countries131,083157,110
    Total Population4,324,8104,833,239

From these figures we see that during the decade 1881-1890 the number of persons in Canada, born in the British Islands and possessions, rose from 478,235 to 490,252, or an increase of only 12,017, while those born in foreign countries increased from 131,083 to 157,110, or an increase of 26,027. Yet the British immigration was 280,773, the foreign 78,430. Thus, if we discard altogether the 526,974 reported as coming from the United States, and make all due allowance for the usual decrease through death, it is still necessary to fall back on the explanation that many who announced their intention of settling in Canada ultimately went to the United States.

The Decennial Census of 1901

For the next ten years the immigration to Canada was as follows:

YearBritish ImmigrationContinental ImmigrationUnited States ImmigrationTotal Immigration
Total for ten years151,59699,15389,535340,284

The heavy immigration for 1891 from the United States has already been accounted for by the faulty system of collecting statistics, which was, however, abandoned at the end of that year; and while the returns for the next five years are no doubt inaccurate in showing no arrivals, still the number coming from the United States at that time was certainly very small. During the ten years 1891-1900 we find a British immigration to Canada of 151,596, a continental immigration of 99,153, and a United States immigration of 89,535, or a total influx in the ten years of 340,284.

In the census of 1901 the birthplaces of 14,829 persons were not given. Leaving these out of consideration, we find 684,671 who had been born outside Canada as compared with the 647,362 in the census of 1891. This means a net increase over and above the deaths of 37,309. The number is so small when compared with an immigration of 340,284 that there must have been still a movement to the United States. That this movement was of persons who entered Canada before 1891 is clear from other facts. The census of 1901 showed, then resident in Canada, 74,674 persons who had immigrated to Canada between 1891 and 1895, and 148,647 who had entered the Dominion between 1896 and 1900 or 223,321 in the ten years. Thus, if of the total number of newcomers she retained 223,321, it is obvious that her total loss of some 300,000 emigrants must have been chiefly from those resident in Canada before 1901.

For the years 1891-95 the number of settlers arriving, according to immigration figures, was 182,413; in 1901 the census showed 74,676 of these persons resident in Canada. In the years 1896-1900 the immigration was 157,871; the census of 1901 showed that 148,647 of these were then living in the Dominion. This is conclusive proof that, for the time being, at least, the movement towards the States was on the wane.

During this decade there occurred two notable movements to Canada—that of the Mormons and of the Doukhobors. Both will be dealt with more fully later on. During this period Galicians and other Austro-Hungarians also began to come in large numbers.

As the census of 1901 gives the last available figures of the population of Canada, it is considered wise to copy here two tables, one showing the year of arrival of the immigrant population at the taking of that census, and the other showing the countries whence the immigrants came.

When ImmigratedNo. in Canada in 1901
Before 185168,148
1901 to March 3110,636
Not given61,487


Whence ImmigratedNo. in Canada in 1901
British Islands— 
  Lesser Isles956
British Possessions— 
  New Zealand374
  South Africa128
  Other Possessions863
Foreign Countries— 
  East Indies188
  Norway and Sweden10,256
  Spain and Portugal270
  United States127,899
  West Indies699
  Other Countries818
Born at Sea339

The First Decade of the Twentieth Century

The immigration to Canada for the next ten years was as given below:

YearBritish ImmigrationContinental ImmigrationUnited States ImmigrationTotal Immigration
Total for ten years655,731445,031587,1041,687,866

By fiscal years and by nationalities the total immigration to Canada from July 1, 1900, to March 31, 1912, was as on table attached:

NationalityFiscal Year 1900-1Fiscal Year 1900-2Fiscal Year 1900-3Fiscal Year 1900-4Fiscal Year 1900-5Fiscal Year 1900-6Fiscal Period, 9 months ending March 31, 1907Fiscal Year 1900-8Fiscal Year 1900-9Fiscal Year 1900-10Fiscal Year 1900-11Fiscal Year 1900-12Totals
English and Welsh9,40113,09532,51036,69449,61765,93241,65891,41237,48241,14486,21296,806601,963
Total British11,81017,25941,79250,37465,35936,79655,791120,18252,90159,790123,013138,121823,188
South African.........2135462376539786144581
West Indian......235577194902781592034553931,927
New Zealand......22357893070658211661595
Russian, North-Eastern States1,0442,4675,5051,9551,8873,1521,9276,2813,5474,6646,6219,80548,755
United States Citizens (via ocean ports)6873...5810912389133941862031431,279
Total Continental, etc.19,35223,73237,09934,78637,36444,47234,21783,97534,17545,20666,62082,406543,404
From the United States17,98726,38849,47345,17143,54357,79634,65958,31259,832103,798121,451133,710752,120
Total Immigration49,14967,379128,364130,331146,266189,064124,667262,469146,908208,794311,084354,2372,118,712

It is certain that a proportion of those who gave their destination as Canada ultimately went to the United States. It is also just as certain that many who gave their destination as the United States ultimately settled in Canada. Until 1908 no system existed in Eastern Canada of checking the number coming from the United States, and it is, therefore, difficult to say how far one movement offsets the other. It is, however, likely that, after making due allowance for deaths, the 1911 census will show a smaller number of persons born outside Canada than might be expected from the above table. If this proves to be the case, the explanation is, as before, the movement to the United States. While Canada offers greater attractions to the agriculturist than does the United States, the United States, on the other hand, offers great inducements to skilled mechanics and a broader field for certain classes of professional men than is possible in a country with only eight million people. It is well known that a large percentage of the young men who yearly complete in the universities of Canada their courses in electrical or hydraulic engineering and kindred professions are at once given employment by the large companies in the United States.

This flow of population from Canada is an important factor in the question of immigration, and statistics relating to it are of value. The Canadian Immigration department keeps no statistics of the movement outwards. The United States figures of arrivals from Canada are available. It is practically the only country which makes any inroad upon the population of Canada, if we except Italians and certain Asiatics. Many of these are at most ‘birds of passage’ who have no intention of establishing permanent homes in Canada. They come in order to acquire sufficient money to enable them to live in the land of their birth, and at the earliest possible moment after fulfilling their mission in the Dominion they go home. Before quoting the United States figures, and lest the reader may infer that Canada is losing as much as she is gaining from the United States, it should be pointed out that the two countries adopt different standards in collecting their statistics. To illustrate this difference we will take a supposititious case of two Italians who arrived in America for the first time in the spring of 1901, one at Montreal and the other at New York. Both return to Italy in the autumn, and in the following spring return again to their respective homes in America. They repeat this journey each year. Upon his arrival in the spring of 1910, the Italian residing in Canada has been counted in Canadian statistics only once as an immigrant, the other nine times he is classified for statistical purposes as a ‘Returned Canadian.’ The Italian who arrives at New York has, on the other hand, been counted ten times as an immigrant to the United States. He would appear as ten immigrants in a United States statistical table for the decade. This explanation of the method of collecting statistics is necessary to arrive at the truth. It is well known, for instance, that many Canadians yearly spent the winter in the lumber camps in Maine and Michigan. It is also common for families from the eastern provinces to go at all times to the Eastern States and, for periods of varying length, to secure employment in the cotton mills and other manufacturing industries there. Yet they have no intention of residing permanently in the republic.

It is thus apparent that many Canadians are counted as immigrants to the United States who in reality go there for a temporary purpose only. It is also clear, at least in some cases, that, year after year, the same persons are counted as settling in the republic. This system results in an apparent loss to Canada which in reality does not exist, at least to the extent which United States immigration figures would indicate.

The table given below is a portion of Table viii of the ‘Annual Report of the Commissioner-General of Immigration for the United States for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1910,’ and covers the immigrant aliens admitted from British North America divided by races. While the table includes those arriving from Newfoundland as well as Canada, the number from Newfoundland is small.

Immigration of Aliens from Canada to United States for the nine years from july 1, 1901, to june 30, 1910, showing races of people.

Race of PeopleFiscal Year 1901-1902Fiscal Year 1902-1903Fiscal Year 1903-1904Fiscal Year 1904-1905Fiscal Year 1905-1906Fiscal Year 1906-1907Fiscal Year 1907-1908Fiscal Year 1908-1909Fiscal Year 1909-1910Totals
African, South....599105102172212614
East Indian......1768959312923857
Pacific Isles..............1..1
West Indian..223105315242
Not given..135813611591135404

From the above it will be seen that in the nine years referred to Canada lost to the United States, according to the figures of that country, 178,686 aliens, or almost 20,000 per year. Yet this outflow cannot in all respects be classed as a loss. Of the races of people specified in the table only nine are now sought after by the Canadian Immigration department—against the others the restrictive regulations are fully enforced. The real loss in the nine years may, therefore, be given as follows:


The above figures take no account of United States citizens who may give up their residence in Canada and return to the land to which they owe allegiance. In this connection it is only fair to state that the United States commissioner of immigration at Montreal claims that there were 22,832 such cases during the fiscal year 1909-10. Before the fiscal year 1909-10 no mention is made of any such movement, but it is only natural to suppose that as the number of United States citizens in Canada increases there will be found a certain percentage who will return to their former home.

If we make an allowance for a death-rate of 15 per 1000 per year, take into account the return movement, already mentioned, of Italians and a few other nationalities, and also consider the movement of people from Canada to the States, it is expected that the census of 1911 will show an immigrant population of about 1,600,000, or an increase of, roughly speaking, 100,000 per year since 1901.

Having dealt in general terms with the immigration movement from Confederation until the present, a brief review of the movement by races of people should be of interest.


The Negroes

It is not to be wondered that the eyes of the negro turned longingly to the land under whose flag he need call no man master. He had been transplanted from equatorial Africa to the temperate climate of the United States; there to lose the freedom of savagery and to be forced to toil as the slave of a taskmaster who demanded at least a fair day’s labour. Some of those who longed for liberty fled to Canada, and to-day the descendants of escaped slaves form the chief part of the twenty odd thousand negroes in the Dominion. Western Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia harbour most of the offspring of this unsolicited immigration. Whilst no one will deny that there are many upright and respected citizens amongst the number, there are few thoughtful Canadians who would care to see the present number increased by fresh arrivals. The 1851 census of Upper Canada gave the negro population at 2102, while the 1861 census showed 13,166; it is therefore apparent that it was during this decade that Canada received her coloured population. At no time has the immigration of this race been encouraged by the government, and it must be with regret that students of the immigration problem view the movement of coloured persons from Oklahoma to the western provinces which commenced during the year 1911. The negro problem which faces the United States, and which Abraham Lincoln said could be settled only by shipping one and all back to a tract of land in Africa, is one in which Canadians have no desire to share. It is to be hoped that climatic conditions will prove unsatisfactory to those new settlers, and that the fertile lands of the West will be left to be cultivated by the white race only.

The Icelanders

In 1872, owing to unsatisfactory conditions in their homeland, a movement of Icelanders to America commenced. In 1874 more than five hundred came to Canada, and in the following year the settlements at Gimli, Hnausa and Icelandic River, on Lake Winnipeg, were founded. In the selection of their location the Icelanders were apparently influenced by the plentiful supply of timber and the close proximity to the fishing grounds, for which industry their past experience well fitted them. With the limited amount of capital which the majority possessed, the chance to cut and sell firewood and employment at good wages on the fishing boats proved a great boon. The land in these settlements is, however, much more difficult of cultivation than that in other parts of Manitoba, and, consequently, their material advancement has not been as rapid as that of the sister settlement between Baldur and Glenboro, where wheat-raising brought quick returns.

The settlement on Lake Manitoba has had to face many difficulties. There was an outbreak of smallpox in October 1877. The disease, though mild at first, increased in virulence when the cold weather forced the people into their small and badly ventilated houses. The plague spread from one end of the colony to the other, and more than fifty persons died. The bad roads were another drawback for many years, and it was not until 1906 that a railroad was completed to Gimli.

The difficulties in a man’s way often bring out the best that is in him. Whether or not this was the reason of the success of the Icelanders, it is certain that their progress has been phenomenal. In power to acquire a knowledge of the English language they are in a class by themselves. An Icelander who knows no word of English when the ground is being prepared for seed in the spring will speak the language with scarcely a trace of a foreign accent by the time the harvest is being garnered in the fall. The Icelandic girls have shown a willingness to enter domestic service, and they quickly acquire the Canadian customs, both in dress and in ideals. When they return to the home they become unconscious teachers, and it thus happens that Canadian customs are rapidly being adopted by the Icelanders as a whole. No people show a stronger desire for the education of their children. As a result they are, considering their numbers, prominent in mercantile, professional and political life.

A report by the secretary of the department of Agriculture, dated August 9, 1876, is of interest as showing the exact condition of a portion of the Icelanders at the time of their arrival in Canada.

As respects the Icelanders on board the Phoenician which arrived at Quebec on the 29th July the number of souls was 402. The whole of them proceeded to Toronto. The Medical Inspector there pronounced them to be as the previous party were, healthy and strong. The total amount of cash possessed by the party was $3804. There was one worth $500; one with $480; one with $200; one with $150; one with $120; six with $100; fourteen with from $90 to $50; and fifteen with from $40 to $20. A large number of others had smaller sums. Of the party, 48 souls intended to go to Nova Scotia, but on representations made to them after landing at Quebec, by the Immigration Agent for the Government of Nova Scotia, these persons decided to change their destination and proceed to Gimli. The placing of these Icelanders with their countrymen at Gimli, on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg, will make it necessary to advance them very considerable funds from the Immigration vote, either as simple aid or a loan to enable them to winter there. They do not expect the former. Such an advance might be secured under the amendment to the Dominion Lands Act. The Icelanders whom I visited had not the slightest notion of the amount of money necessary to enable them to start in the new colony and live there until next harvest.

From the above account it will be seen that the prospects of the party were not very bright. But events have shown that what Nova Scotia rejected proved a boon to Manitoba, as they and their descendants are now counted amongst the finest types of settlers in the prairie province. The Icelanders become naturalized at the earliest possible moment, and take a keen interest in the political questions of their adopted home. In religion they belong largely to the Lutheran and Unitarian churches.

The following table shows the immigration to Canada from Iceland:

In Canada at taking of census of19016,057

As will be noted there is a regrettable falling off in the arrivals of this very desirable class. This is to be accounted for largely by the fact that as the population of Iceland dwindles it becomes correspondingly more difficult for those desiring to leave to dispose of their holdings. Yearly the government sends a delegate to Iceland to place before the people the advantages offered by the Dominion. In addition to this the steamship lines receive $5 per head for all adults and $2.50 per head for minors brought from Iceland, irrespective of occupation, upon the understanding that the ocean transportation to the immigrant is reduced by those amounts. Icelanders are the only class to whom this arrangement applies.

The Mennonites

From far-off Russia, with its autocratic government, have come many of the present settlers of the Dominion—the Russian Jew, largely a dweller in cities, the Russian Pole, the Russian German, the Russian proper, the Doukhobor and the Mennonite. The two last mentioned are of special interest in that they arrived in communities, settled and still remain in communities, and still hold religious beliefs different in many respects from the well-known creeds of Anglo-Saxon countries.

The term Mennonite, applied often in Canada in a racial sense, is in reality a purely religious designation. Early in the sixteenth century Menno Simons established a sect whose fundamental doctrines were: baptism only on confession of faith; complete separation of church and state; and an absolute refusal to take oaths or engage in warfare. In Holland and in Germany the sect secured many followers; but, as might be expected in countries where warfare was then so common, they were subjected to the most bitter persecution. Strange as it now appears, an asylum was offered them in Russia, and under Empress Catherine ii they were offered free lands, exemption from military service, religious liberty and many other privileges. Thereon, between 1783 and 1788, ensued a heavy emigration of German Mennonites to the plains of Southern Russia. Here for almost a century they dwelt undisturbed. When, however, in 1870 the Russian government withdrew their privileges, it became necessary for them to seek a new home, where the requirements of the state would not interfere with the dictates of their consciences. They turned their eyes to Canada. The Canadian government agreed to exempt them from military service, gave them the right to affirm instead of taking oaths, modified the homestead regulations to allow them to live in villages, as was their custom, and in various ways held out inducements which resulted in a movement of these desirable people to the Dominion.

In 1874 there arrived at Quebec 1532 Mennonites destined for Manitoba. The immigration agent at Quebec, in making his annual report, says of them:

They were of a robust appearance, very mild and temperate, docile, and under the thorough control of their leaders. They brought a considerable amount of specie with them, as well as drafts for large amounts on various banks. Their clothing was well adapted for the climate of Manitoba, consisting for the most part of home-made heavy cloth, and they were nearly all supplied with fur coats, caps and mitts. Such people cannot fail to make good settlers.

The Winnipeg agent reported that while they arrived rather late in the season, they succeeded in a short time in erecting suitable homes on their farms and making all necessary arrangements for winter. For six years the Mennonites continued to arrive regularly, the movement being as follows: 1874, 1532; 1875, 3258; 1876, 1358; 1877, 183; 1878, 323; 1879, 248. Their early years in Canada were but a promise of their after-success. Peaceful, law-abiding, industrious, honest, the Mennonites have proved themselves one of the most desirable classes who ever came into the Dominion. Settled on good land in Southern Manitoba, they have achieved not only material success, but are honoured and respected by all classes who come in contact with them. The census of 1901 showed 31,797 Mennonites in Canada, divided by provinces as follows: Manitoba, 15,246; Saskatchewan and Alberta, 4273; Ontario, 12,208; Quebec, 50; Nova Scotia, 9; British Columbia, 11. Those in the western provinces are the immigrants of 1874-79, together with their descendants; those in Ontario the descendants of the Germans who came from Pennsylvania at the close of the eighteenth century and settled in the vicinity of Waterloo.

The Mormons

Marked difference in religious belief from what is well known and recognized has, in all places and at all times, brought the innovators conspicuously before the public. The religious faith of the Mormons no less than their marked material success has attracted attention to their colonies in Southern Alberta. The Mormons, or the Latter-Day Saints, form a religious sect founded by Joseph Smith, Jr, in 1830. Smith claimed that he had discovered certain gold plates upon which were inscribed the records of Mormon. By the alleged aid of ‘Urim and Thummim’ he was able to translate these into English, and published a translation under the title of The Book of Mormon. The translation was accompanied by a certificate from eleven men who claimed to have seen the plates. Immediately after the publication Smith began to preach his new doctrine and quickly made many converts. He was killed in 1844 and was then succeeded by Brigham Young. Under Young’s guidance, and that of succeeding presidents, the church has prospered, and to-day numbers over 300,000 adherents, found largely in the Western States. Between 7000 and 8000 live in Southern Alberta.

Polygamy, openly preached and practised after 1852, is the article of faith which brought the most adverse criticism against the Mormons. In 1890 Woodruff, the then president of the church, issued a manifesto forbidding polygamy. Much discussion has taken place as to whether or not the Latter-Day Saints continue the practice. Whatever may be true of Mormons in the United States, no evidence has ever been brought against any of those resident in Canada that they were breaking the laws of the Dominion in this regard.

The movement of Mormons to Canada commenced in 1887 and continued until 1905. According to the census of 1901 the Mormons were divided as follows: British Columbia, 125; Manitoba, 65; New Brunswick, 11; Nova Scotia, 73; Ontario, 3377; Quebec, 3; Alberta, 3212; Saskatchewan, 13; unorganized territories, 12; total, 6891. For the first few years after the census of 1901 there was a considerable immigration of Mormons to Southern Alberta. At the present time (1912) they number considerably over 7000 souls.

James S. Woodsworth, Superintendent of All Peoples’ Mission, Winnipeg, in Strangers Within Our Gates, has the following to say of the Mormons in Alberta:

The colony has grown rapidly and prospered. They have large grain farms and cattle ranches, and are entering extensively on dairying, fruit farming and sugar refining. In their enterprise they compare favourably with other settlers. . . . But though Americans they are in no true sense American, and their presence is a serious menace to our Western civilization. No one doubts their industry—they have made the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose. But of greater importance to our own country than material development are freedom and morality and true religion, and to these the system of Mormon is antagonistic. . . . The practice of polygamy will subvert our most cherished institutions. But more dangerous even than polygamy is the utter surrender of personal liberty and the acknowledgment of the absolute authority of the priesthood. This means the end of all free government and is the confessed aim of the leaders of the Mormon Church.

As opposed to Woodsworth’s opinion, the following quotation from Canada’s Growth and Some Problems Affecting It, by C. A. Magrath, will be of interest, especially as Mr Magrath has spent many years on the borders of the Mormon settlement. He says:

So far as my observations go, and I believe I know the Mormons as well as any man in Canada, I see no reason to hold them up from time to time as a menace to our social life. . . . There are Mormons who offend against the law as well as members of other sects, but in the latter case the sect is not brought into prominence as it is with the Mormons. Criminal offences are as light [as], if not more so than, in many other sections of the country. Polygamy is a dead letter. I am not going to say that some do not believe it is right, but one of the doctrines of their church is to live within the law of the land, and to do that plural marriage cannot exist. Polygamy never was an essential of the Mormon church. There are great numbers—98 per cent, I understand—who never entered into plural marriages.

As will be observed, there is a great difference of opinion between the two authorities quoted above, and, at whatever point between the two versions lies the real truth regarding the Mormons, certain it is they have been successful settlers and have never occasioned any trouble to the Canadian Immigration department.

The Doukhobors

As in the case of the Mormons, so in the case of the Doukhobors, religion is the factor which has brought them into prominence. To Aylmer Maude in his A Peculiar People we are indebted for the following description of the religion of the Doukhobors:

What is true of other men is true of them—they have not always lived up to their beliefs. Like other sects their views have varied from man to man and from year to year. They were for the most part an illiterate folk who seldom put their thoughts on paper. They accepted the decisions of recognized leaders, one of whom always came into authority as soon as his predecessor died. Through long years of persecution they learnt to conceal their beliefs; and it is impossible to say with certainty and exactitude what as a community they have believed at any given moment, though the main trend of their thought and the matters of practice on which they differed from their neighbours are plainly discernible.

The name ‘Doukhobor’ (spirit wrestler) was formed to describe those whom the orthodox Russian Church considered to be wrestling against the Holy spirit. Like many other religious nicknames—Quaker, Shaker, Methodist, etc., the name stuck. It admitted, however, of an interpretation which rendered it innocuous, and the Doukhobors claim to be those who fight, not with carnal weapons, but with the spirit of truth. Recently they have begun to call themselves ‘The Universal Community of Christian Brotherhood,’ but to the rest of the world they have remained Doukhobors.

Orest Novitsky in his book published in Kief in 1832 notes the connection of the Doukhobors:

(1) With the Gnostics in their opinion of the Holy spirit.

(2) With the Manicheans, in their belief in an inward light, in their opinion of Jesus Christ, and in their belief in the pre-existence, fall and future state of man’s soul.

(3) With the Paulicians in many matters, and especially in their rejection of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, and in general of the authority of a visible church.

(4) With the Anabaptists in their theocratic aspirations and their dislike of mundane governments; also in their repudiations of infant baptism.

(5) With the early Quakers, especially in their belief in the Christ within and their non-resident principle.

The Doukhobor sect was founded about 1740 and rapidly increased in numbers. Sometimes they suffered persecution for attempting to convert others to their faith, or for attempting to evade their military duties; at other times they were left to pursue their own course without hindrance. In 1799 thirty-one were sent to the mines for preaching openly that rulers were not needed. In 1801, at the Milky Waters, near the Sea of Azof, was established the first Doukhobor colony, which increased until in 1816 it contained about three thousand persons. From this date they have had six leaders in succession: Savély Kapóustin, Vasély Kalmikóf, Ilarion Kalmikóf, Peter Kalmikóf, and after his death his wife Loukéresja Kalmikova, who upon her death was succeeded by Peter Veregin. During the years 1841-44, when under the leadership of Vasély Kalmikóf, the Doukhobors were transported to the Caucasus by the Russian government as a result of, or punishment for, crimes committed in the internal management of their community. Here they resided until immediately prior to their emigration to Canada.

Inasmuch as Veregin is still leader (1912), particular interest from a Canadian standpoint attaches to him. On his mother’s side he was a nephew of the last leader, a woman, and had been much in her company. Upon her death, according to a confidential report of the governor of Tiflis,

Veregin set out for his native village of Slavyanki. Here in solemn gathering before all the people, his mother submissively announced that her son Peter was begotten, not by her husband Vasély Veregin, but by Peter Kalmikóf (the next to the last ruler), and that this secret was well known to Loukéresja Kalmikova (the last ruler), who had only awaited Peter’s coming of age in order, during her own lifetime, to hand over to him the inheritance of his ancestors. After these words, both she and her husband fell at Peter’s feet, and, when they had done so, all the people imitated them. In this way the new Leader’s right of succession and connection with the holy race was established, so that it was unnecessary for him to prove his divine origin by any miracles, his title being acknowledged on the strength of his birth.

Whatever truth or falsity there may be in the account given by the governor of Tiflis, certain it is that Veregin became the recognized leader of the larger portion of the Doukhobors. A small and influential portion, however, was opposed to his leadership, and contrary to the tenets of their faith commenced an action in the Russian courts to secure for Michael Goubanof, the brother of Loukéresja Kalmikova, the communal property which had been held in her name. The action was successful, and the property was administered by Goubanof for the benefit of that portion of the sect which opposed Veregin.

Veregin’s leadership commenced in 1886, and in 1887 he was without trial banished to Shenkoursk. The banishment was supposed to be for five years, but he was not released at the expected time, and in 1894 was sent to Obdorsk. During his period of banishment he succeeded by means of messengers in keeping in touch with his followers, and in 1893 sent them five commands:

1. To serve God.

2. Since war offends God not to perform military service.

3. To divide up their property equally that none might be rich or poor.

4. To cease from killing animals for food and from the use of intoxicants and tobacco.

5. To refrain from sexual relations at least during the time of their tribulation.

These orders resulted in a division amongst the Doukhobors, some agreeing to them and others refusing to obey them. Owing to the fourth instruction the followers of Veregin were designated the Fasters. These, receiving a further order from their leader to burn on St Peter’s Day all their arms as an outward and visible sign of their profession of the principle that war was wrong, meekly obeyed. This action drew upon them the wrath of the Russian government. They were roughly handled, and about four thousand were removed from their homes and scattered amongst the Georgians and other tribes. This was in 1895.

An agitation in favour of the Doukhobors now commenced in England and other countries. Tolstoy was their most noted champion, and by his writings enlisted sympathy in their cause. Finally, in 1898, the Russian government agreed to permit of their emigration. In September 1898 two Doukhobor families, accompanied by Prince Hilkoff and Aylmer Maude, arrived in Canada to ascertain if a suitable location could be secured for a colony. At length the Canadian government agreed to allow the Doukhobors to settle in a compact body, giving to each male eighteen years of age one quarter section (160 acres) upon the payment of the usual $10. The payments were in their case to be extended over three years, and they secured the privilege of performing cultivation duties en bloc instead of on each individual homestead, as is the general rule. The government exempted them from military service. Since no booking agent would secure a bonus from the government for selling them tickets, as was then the rule with most desirable European immigrants, Canada agreed to make an allowance of £1 per head for each Doukhobor, and the money was to be spent in purchasing necessaries for them upon arrival.

These terms and conditions proving satisfactory, the movement to Canada commenced, and between January and June 1899, 7363 Doukhobors arrived—the first party on January 27, and the next some two weeks later. They wintered at East Selkirk, Winnipeg and other points. Small bodies of the men, under the supervision of Canadians, proceeded, however, to the districts allotted to them and commenced the erection of dwellings.

A desire to follow and to be guided by the instructions and advice of a leader is a great advantage in handling any large body of men, provided the judgment of the leader is good. Too often, however, among the Doukhobors, especially in their early days in Canada, those recognized as leaders were as ignorant of what should be done as were the rank and file of the party. It was thus a case of ‘the blind leading the blind.’ Nor were the Doukhobors at all times ready to follow the disinterested advice given them by government officials. Writing to the department a day or so after the arrival of the Doukhobors in Winnipeg, the commissioner of immigration there, after pointing out that two of the leaders were disputing about the final selection of the land for the colonies, continues:

I may say they are not, by any means, Universal Brethren, from the fact that they do not agree on every point; they have their dissensions like ordinary mortals, so that a little difficulty may arise at times of this nature. Some of them too, I understand, at Portage la Prairie, especially, are calling for fish, so that they are not all strictly vegetarians.

These trivial faults, discovered upon a day’s acquaintance, were mild compared with those the officials observed later. As early in the spring of the year as possible the Doukhobors were located on their lands in the vicinity of Yorkton, Swan River and Prince Albert. Considering the small capital at their disposal their progress was rapid. Railway work furnished them with the means of securing stock and food until such time as their first crops were harvested. In addition to this they received assistance from the Quakers in the United States.

An employer of Doukhobor labour, under date of September 27, 1899, wrote from Swan River as follows:

I formed [at first] a very unfavourable opinion of the Doukhobors generally, as a class of settlers altogether unsuitable for Canada. After an experimental trial of them as labourers on the Canadian Northern Railway during the last month or so, I have found them to be without exception the best men I have ever had on railway work. I have completely changed my opinion in regard to them, and believe they will make first-class settlers. In fact they are ‘cracker-jacks’ and superior to any other class of foreign settlers I know of.

While the Doukhobors accepted assistance when necessary they were not paupers, and to show the trait of independence in their character, as well as to illustrate their peculiar style of correspondence, the following letter (abbreviated) is given:

Thunder Hill, Assiniboia,

Village Vasnesnir, April 3, 1901.

Our Kind Brothers and Sisters in Christ the Quakers:

In the beginning of our letter we bring you our sincere pure-hearted thankfulness for all your charities given us.

May the Lord save you with an everlasting salvation for all your kind interest in us. May the Lord give you His Grace, and may He reward you from the bounties of His Almighty Hand with both heavenly and earthly blessings.

We have heard from Mr H. Harley, Swan River, that you wish to send us some sheep. We, all your brethren of the North Colony, unitedly ask you to take our request into consideration.

Our request is this—that you would not send us anything more, as we are not now in need of anything; be at rest, as we have already passed the first trials and difficulties of settlement: we now possess the necessaries, and are capable of earning for ourselves our daily bread.

We send you our sincere love to you all, and wish you all that is good from God.

With sincere love to you from your sisters and brothers in Christ of the Christian Community of the Universal Brotherhood.

The Doukhobors of the North Colony,

Near Thunder Hill,

Simion Ribion,


From the date of reaching their colonies material progress was rapid. Land was brought under cultivation; cattle and horses were carefully tended; comfortable homes and barns were erected; houses were kept neat and clean, and any ill impressions which had been formed by their Canadian neighbours against them were fast disappearing.

Then, like a bolt from the blue, came the crash. In July 1902 rumours began to spread in the Yorkton district that the Doukhobors were acting in a peculiar manner. But, so secretive were they regarding their doings, that one of their Quaker friends who had acted as a temporal and spiritual adviser and benefactor, and who was then paying them a visit, noticed nothing peculiar in their actions. Early in August an immigration officer, who passed quietly through their districts, reported that they were beginning to be affected by a strange religious craze, the result of the teaching of an agitator who had come among them and who was reported to be from New York. While the craze was still confined to a few, these had burned their sheepskin coats and boots and had made foot-gear by plaiting binding twine into sandals. In his report the officer says: ‘They claim it is a sin to wear the skin of any animal as a portion of their raiment. Although they have been vegetarians they have now stopped eating eggs, butter and milk, claiming that by using milk they are robbing the calves of their food.’

The craze spread rapidly, and finally the affected settlements, on August 21, 1902, turned their horses, cattle and sheep free, giving them, as they said, to the Lord. The animals were promptly rounded up by government officials and held. At the same time an effort was made to bring the misguided fanatics to their senses. Mr Speers, general colonization agent, who was charged with this difficult and, as it proved, unsuccessful mission, in his report said:

They are a quiet, inoffensive, sullenly established people, and when they make up their minds seem very determined. They speak highly of Canada and Canadian institutions, but are fully determined to stick to their new theory.

I endeavoured to point out that their sheep would be destroyed by wolves; that their cattle would perish during the winter, and that it was not an act of humanity or Christianity to turn these domestic animals adrift to hunt for themselves; but they said, ‘We have given them to God, and God will take care of them.’ I can only recommend that the herd they have given to the Lord be carefully collected and sold by public auction.

This was done, and the funds, $16,024.25, deposited in the bank as a trust account, to be used in relieving distress later on.

The craze, instead of diminishing, spread. Not only did the numbers of the fanatics increase, but their views became more extreme. Finally, they commenced a march eastward to meet, as they imagined, Jesus Christ. Cold weather came on and they suffered severely. Refusing to listen to the advice of sane Doukhobors and government officials who advised them to return to their houses, they pushed forward, chanting their weird hymns and carrying their sick on stretchers. At Winnipeg they said God would tell them what to do. The press of all countries was full of their doings, the reports as a rule being out of all semblance to the real happenings.

Speers in his report upon the pilgrimage wrote

The ardour and zeal of the pilgrims were simply marvellous. They prophesied warm weather. In this they were disappointed, and after discarding their heavy clothing the wind was not ‘tempered to the shorn lamb.’ They prophesied no snow. They prophesied no hunger, no fatigue. In all these they were disappointed, but evidently looked upon their hardships as tests of faith, and prosecuted their march even though exhausted and emaciated. Proceeding to Minnedosa the condition of the pilgrims was pitiable. Weary, footsore and exhausted they were scattered for many miles westward from that town. A train was arranged for, and as the weather had turned very inclement the pilgrims, numbering 450, were entrained and taken to Yorkton. If they had been permitted to proceed eastward in their emaciated condition they would not have survived more than a few hours, as the mercury was then 18° below zero, and the mortality among them before long would have been appalling. They were certainly a misguided people, and I felt it my duty to do what I could to relieve the hardships they were enduring until such time as the dawn of reason would turn their attention in the right direction. At least 80 per cent of this throng of misguided people have been the dupes of their more gifted leaders, and, as in all such movements, the more illiterate have become the greatest enthusiasts. They exhibited a collective imbecility in their sad march that is rarely met with, but I feel that its results will be beneficial. It has brought about disappointment and chagrin to many of its participants, who feel embarrassed that they entered upon a crusade abandoning the comforts of home and squandering a great deal of their substance.

Peter Veregin arrived in Canada in December 1902. Whether or not he was the Christ the pilgrims were going out to meet, as has been suggested by some, it is difficult to say. At any rate, he discountenanced such movements.

In May 1903 a small pilgrimage again commenced. The pilgrims believed that they, like Adam and Eve before the Fall, were living without sin, and they considered that, like Adam and Eve, they should go in nature’s garb. In the end the government interfered. The women and children were forced to return to their colonies, and the adult male members, twenty-six in number, were given three months with hard labour in Regina gaol.

To illustrate the peculiar vagaries of the minds of these deluded people a case is here quoted. Six of them came to the conclusion that it was sinful to compel horses to pull binders, and so they set fire to the machinery and completely destroyed it. When arrested at the instigation of Peter Veregin, these fanatics were, on a charge of incendiarism, sentenced to two years in penitentiary. When they had served over a year of their sentence they adopted a new line of reasoning. This was now clear to them, they said:

1. To work animals is a sin.

2. We destroyed machinery to prevent this sin.

3. We are imprisoned for doing what was right.

4. It is wrong to imprison persons for doing right.

5. We must not assist officers in doing what is wrong.

6. If we continue taking food we are assisting officers in doing what is not right.

Therefore we must not eat.

In this they persisted. A few days after their release one died in the hospital and the others returned to their colonies in a very weak state.

In July 1904, August 1905 and May 1906 pilgrimages of Doukhobors took place, in each of which from ten to forty-seven persons were involved. They were, however, of short duration. The desire of the pilgrims seemed to be to evangelize the world. Occasionally during their marches they divested themselves of their clothing. In July 1907 occurred the last of the pilgrimages: thirty-five persons, commencing a march eastward, were joined at times by new recruits until, when they reached Fort William, they numbered eighty souls. Here they camped, and, on New Year’s Day 1908, they marched naked through the streets. For a time they occasioned considerable trouble. Finally the Ontario government loaded them in trains and returned them to Yorkton. Since that time there has been no further appearance of this form of religious mania.

When the Doukhobors arrived in Canada, entry for homesteads was made by their committee for the whole party. Later, it was claimed that either fictitious names had been used or that entry had been made for males who had not attained the age of eighteen years. An investigation was held by a commission, and as a result of recommendations made, the Doukhobors were given a grant of fifteen acres for each man, woman and child, instead of 160 acres to each male entitled to a homestead. This resulted in the Doukhobors losing about 1700 quarter sections, which were taken up by persons of other origins desiring locations.

Peter Veregin, on behalf of the Doukhobors, has made extensive purchase of fruit lands in British Columbia, and from all reports it is expected that they will soon have a flourishing and productive colony there. About thirty-five per cent of the Doukhobors have now broken away from the communities and commenced operations on their own account. Herein lies the solution of all the Doukhobor difficulties, and it is hoped that, even in spite of the unfavourable criticism which the religious fanatics amongst their number have brought upon the whole colony, they will yet develop into good Canadian citizens. This their fine physique and their industry render them capable of becoming.

The Crofters

In 1883 a settlement of crofters, that is, small farmers and fishermen from the Highlands of Scotland, were settled in a colony south of Wapella and Moosomin in Saskatchewan. The first party consisted of ten families. These were supplemented in the following year by forty more families. They were assisted to emigrate by Lady Gordon Cathcart, who advanced to each family about $500. Good judgment was used in selecting the location. The soil was excellent; the country, rolling and well watered, had many natural hay basins and, generally speaking, was well suited for mixed farming. In 1888 a similar colony was established at Killarney, Manitoba, and in 1889 another at Saltcoats, Saskatchewan. Six hundred dollars for each family was advanced for the purpose out of imperial funds, the loan being secured by a mortgage on the homestead.

Progress in these colonies was at first very slow. Although the colonists had good land their crops compared very unfavourably with those of other farms in the same district. Most likely the difference was caused by improper methods of cultivation. The stock purchased upon arrival was probably not the best, nor were the prices as cheap as might have been arranged for. The purchase of machinery was much more extensive than the acreage under cultivation warranted. In consequence the interest upon the debts incurred soon became a heavy burden. All these and other causes tended to retard the progress of the colonists. They became discouraged, and some either abandoned their allotments or sold out and moved to other districts. With a better knowledge of the country and a new generation familiar with Canadian ways, a marked change has come about in the condition of the crofter, and to-day the great majority are prosperous. The younger people all speak English, and some of them no other language, but the older members still cling to Gaelic, their mother tongue.

The crofters and the Barr Settlement, next to be described, are the only two attempts in recent years to settle British people in distinct colonies. The colony system has the disadvantage that the settlers have no neighbours to learn from. When newcomers live alongside Americans and Canadians familiar with the best methods of work, they quickly learn from the experience of others.

The Barr Colony

In a class all by itself was the Barr Colony or the All-British Settlement. The founder, the Rev. I. M. Barr, was a smooth talker devoid of organizing ability. Leaving Whatcom, Washington, U.S.A., in December 1901, he announced that he was proceeding to England with the object of encouraging the settlement of South Africa by British colonizers. Meeting with little encouragement he applied early in 1902 for a position in the Canadian Immigration Service. Soon after this was refused he commenced writing in the British press, suggesting an all-British settlement in Canada under his guidance. Gradually his project assumed shape, and in the autumn of the year 1902 he visited Canada and succeeded in getting certain homestead reservations made for his proposed colony west of Battleford.

His party sailed in March and April 1903. Barr professed to have made very elaborate preparations for their reception, but, unfortunately, these preparations were only on paper. The subsidiary companies he had formed (on paper) to meet the wants of the colonists included a transport company, a stores syndicate, a colony hospital and a home-building and ploughing department for absent members. Advance agents who were sent out by Barr were hampered in their work through lack of capital, lack of experience, and through instructions that all matters of importance must be left untouched until the arrival of Barr himself. Ignoring the fact that only well-broken horses should be placed in the hands of inexperienced colonists, one of the agents purchased a carload of bronchos at Calgary for their transport service. He used a closed car and furnished no food, and the horses starved or were smothered before the car reached its destination. The Saskatchewan Herald, on March 1, 1903, after giving a full account of Barr’s projected scheme and of the subsidiary companies, ended with the following prophecy:

The Immigration department will have to step in at the last moment, handicapped by want of time, to bring order out of chaos and help the immigrants out of the dilemma into which the dilatoriness of the managers has placed them.

Cablegrams to Barr, in England, brought forth the one reply—that he was looking after his colony, and neither required nor desired assistance. Feeling certain that if left to the tender mercies of Barr the colonists would be helplessly stranded, the Immigration department made some preparations by having suitable tent accommodation erected at Saskatoon, the point from which the overland trek of one hundred and eighty miles was to commence, and by engaging for the colonists freighters at three dollars per day for man and team. The latter arrangement Barr repudiated immediately upon arrival, but the better sense of the colonists prevailed, and as a result the Canadian teamsters were engaged. Thus at least a portion of the small army on march were well acquainted with the route and with Canadian customs.

When the overland march commenced the Immigration department found it necessary to take charge to a certain extent, erecting tents at intervals of twenty miles, and having the route patrolled by experienced men who were competent to give assistance in the many unforeseen difficulties which occurred. Speers, who represented the government, in reporting to the department wrote

We have endeavoured as far as possible to relieve suffering, and while it has been impossible to have competent men always present either to hand over a loaf of bread or to pull an overladen team out of a mud-hole, the main points have been pretty well covered. The people are a good lot and are showing a great deal of courage.

After a tedious and long drawn out journey the goal of the colonists was reached. Here Barr had established his stores syndicate, the only one of his subsidiary companies which made any real beginning, but as he was selling flour at $6 per bag, potatoes at $3.60 per bushel and oats at $1.25 per bushel, the scheme collapsed, as the people were unable to pay such prices. The cost of transportation was undoubtedly heavy on goods he had for sale, but had proper arrangements been made the supplies would have been floated down from Edmonton via the Saskatchewan River, and would have been in readiness for the arrival of the colonists and sold at much more reasonable prices. Barr’s stock-in-trade answer, ‘Keep your hands off and let me and my people alone,’ prevented this.

Finally, on the last day of May 1903, feeling amongst the colonists against Barr reached such a pitch that he was deposed as leader, and the Rev. George E. Lloyd, his lieutenant and a gentleman who had worked hard, intelligently and conscientiously in the interests of the colony since its initial stages, was appointed with others to act as a committee in handling the affairs of the settlers. A noticeable improvement at once took place. Approximately 2000 persons came to Canada under Barr’s auspices. Of these about 1600 persons reached the colony in the vicinity of Lloydminster and entered for 550 homesteads. The majority were inexperienced so far as agriculture was concerned, and as a result their progress at first was not rapid. At the end of the first season the ground under cultivation averaged possibly three acres per homestead, although a few of the more diligent settlers had thirty or forty acres broken before snow fell in the autumn. During the first winter many of the horses died, largely through improper feeding and lack of proper attention. From this date for three years the progress, although steady, was not rapid. Speers, in making a report in November 1906, wrote:

The Barr colonists entered the district with the idea that they would be All British; to-day the population is cosmopolitan, and constitutes a very progressive people both in commerce and agriculture. The advent of people of other nationalities largely assisted the English settler, but the cultivation of the land is not yet as great as it should be considering the extra quality of the soil.

Since 1906 progress has been fairly rapid, and the English settlers around Lloydminster, many of whom were entirely without farming experience upon arrival, are now as prosperous and contented a community as there is to be found in the Dominion.

British Immigrant Children

No article on immigration would be complete without reference to the immigration of British children. Since Confederation this work has been carried on continuously under the supervision of the home government. The children are of three classes: (1) those from private homes and schools; (2) those from industrial schools; (3) those from union and poor law schools. On those of the first class the Canadian government pays and always has paid a bonus of two dollars each. The children are inspected and looked after by the societies under whose auspices their emigration is effected. Those belonging to the third class are also inspected by officers of the Canadian government, who visit them at least once yearly and interview each employer as to the satisfaction the child is giving, and the child as to the manner in which he is treated by his employer. Any well-founded complaint against the employer results in the child being moved to other surroundings. When children belonging to this class arrive in Canada the British government makes a payment, graded according to the age of the child, of such amount as will be sufficient to reimburse the Canadian government for the cost of inspection. These inspections are continued until the child is seventeen years of age.

Before children are designated for Canada they are examined by a physician. Those considered physically unfit are not allowed to come. On embarking at Liverpool the children are examined by a Canadian government agent. They are always examined at the port of debarkation, by both civil and medical officers. No children from reformatories are ever sent to Canada. Sometimes the environment of the children in the mother country has been bad, but rapid improvement is usually effected by changed surroundings in the homeland before emigration, and especially by life on a farm in Canada. That the work is for the good of the children no one can doubt, and as a comparatively small number have been failures, it is for the good of Canada too. Since Confederation the number of children who have been brought by the various societies to Canada is upwards of 60,000. Applications are received by the Canadian office of each society engaged in this work for children brought out under their auspices. As a rule the child is placed with some one of its own religious faith. With the numbers arriving it would be supposed that all applications could easily be filled, but such is not the case, as the following table for ten years will show:

Fiscal YearChildren immigratedApplications received
Total for ten years21,456149,203

From the above it will be seen that only about one-seventh of the applications received could be filled, and it speaks well for the children that the farmers of Canada are so eager to receive them into their homes. Applications are now not infrequent from farmers who themselves arrived as immigrant children, and some even specify that they wish a child sent from the same institution as that from which they came.

Other British Immigration

The Barr colony and the crofter settlements have already been mentioned. Of the remainder of the British immigration, of those who, of their own initiative and in the hope of bettering their circumstances, have made their homes in Canada, little need be said. They are to be found in all parts of the Dominion and in all walks of life. Compared with other European settlers the British start with the advantage of having the same mother tongue as Canadians; with this exception they are on an equal footing with all others and must be prepared to compete on these terms. Much is said of the preference which Canada should give to persons from the mother country, but there is little sentiment in business, and if an Italian immigrant can do more work than an Englishman, the Italian ‘gets the job.’ Fortunately for Canada and for the immigrants there is usually work for both.

Considering the immense number of British immigrants arriving—some 674,000 in the first decade of the century—it speaks well for them and well for the country that so few have failed. Those who do not succeed are the exception. Although the success is of varying degree, it is as a rule according to the energy and tenacity of purpose displayed. There are few British immigrants in Canada who are not in a position much superior to that which they would now be occupying had they remained at home.

For the last twelve fiscal years, 1901-12, the immigration from Great Britain and Ireland amounted to 823,188 in the following proportion: English and Welsh, 601,963; Scottish, 171,897; Irish, 49,328. The largest number in any one year was for the twelve months ending March 31, 1912, when the total reached the immense figure of 138,121, made up of 96,806 English and Welsh, 32,988 Scottish and 8327 Irish.

United States Immigration

The people from the United States most readily adapt themselves to Canadian conditions. The greater portion come from the Northern and Western States, where climatic and agricultural conditions closely resemble those of the Dominion. As they are largely of the agricultural class and come to Canada to take up farming, they know the proper course to adopt immediately upon arrival. United States immigrants may be considered the most desirable for a number of reasons. They understand Canadian conditions so well that their success in the so-called dry belt of Alberta has been greater than that of the Canadian born; immediately on arrival they put large tracts under cultivation, and induce the railway companies to provide transportation facilities in the districts where they settle; they use the most recent machinery and labour-saving devices, and are thus an object-lesson, more especially to foreign settlers, who, without this clear proof of the value of improved machinery, would be slow in commencing its use; and, lastly and most important of all, they employ upon their farms large numbers of the immigrants of all races, who yearly arrive without sufficient capital to commence operations at once on their own account, and who must seek employment with others until they have saved enough to begin work on their free homesteads.

Much is spoken and written of the danger that Western Canada may become Americanized. The force of such arguments depends upon what is meant by ‘Americanized.’ If it is to be taken to mean the growing up of a sentiment in favour of annexation with the United States, the charge is groundless; if it means that the progressiveness of the American will be copied by the Canadian, the more rapid the Americanization the better. The Western Canadian is never averse to learning, no matter who may be his teacher. Sometimes the American settler finds in turn that in many things he may safely follow the lead of his Canadian neighbour.

When speaking of the possibility of annexation to the United States it is well to remember that probably not more than fifty per cent of the immigrants from the United States were born there, and that, in addition to the ten per cent of the immigrants who are Canadians returning to the Dominion, which they left when the conditions were adverse, there are numbers who, while born in the States, are children of Canadian parents, and look upon themselves as really Canadians. Nor must it be forgotten that a considerable portion were born in the British Islands, and, coming again under the same flag, immediately upon arrival look upon themselves as Canadians.

The immigrants from the United States become naturalized at the earliest opportunity, while those who may be repatriated upon a three months’ residence are quick to avail themselves of the opportunity. Generally speaking, the Americans are staunch supporters of the Canadian system of government, and are ever ready to point out wherein it is superior to that which they have left. More especially is this true with regard to the Canadian system of judiciary. No warmer advocate of the appointive system of judges exists than the American, who has had experience of the elective system.

It has already been stated that the majority of the American settlers are from the Northern and Western States.

The arrivals by states for the fiscal years 1901-10 were as follows:

North Dakota78,786Wyoming1,441
Michigan24,904New Jersey876
New York19,770Alaska571
South Dakota11,735Arizona299
Idaho8,365New Mexico244
Nebraska7,967West Virginia214
Oregon7,656Indian Territory217
Pennsylvania6,301North Carolina189
New Hampshire3,237District of Columbia50
Colorado2,983South Carolina38
Rhode Island2,257Hawaii34
Utah1,971Not given41,938

In the above statement the 41,938 who are classed as ‘not given’ are largely made up of those who crossed at highways where no immigration officer was stationed, and who were examined by customs officials. As they drove across the international boundary in preference to travelling by train, it is presumed that the great majority were from the border states.

The nationalities of the immigrants from the United States are as follows:

U.S.A. Citizens12,64815,47733,01320,47931,41133,47465,19077,353289,045
Returned Canadians4,4323,6135,0002,5025,1605,53812,75016,56755,562
Other Nationalities3,3256438567262,9464,0247,0746,37525,969
Not given9,46711,59610,1585,6165,8265,5936,4588,70363,417
Total Immigration from U.S.A.45,22943,65257,91934,65958,31259,832103,798121,451524,852

Those whose nationalities are not given in the above table entered Canada at points where no immigration officer was stationed, and while examined by the customs officer as to their desirability as immigrants, were not questioned as to their nationality. As the large majority were farmers with stock and implements which they had secured when farming in the States, it is likely that they were largely United States citizens.


One of the largest contributors of immigrants to Canada of late years has been Austria-Hungary. The term Austro-Hungarian, however, has no very definite meaning. Such words as English, French, German, Norwegian convey to the mind a class of persons of certain language, type, appearance and peculiarities. Not so with the term Austro-Hungarian. Austria-Hungary is not a country wherein dwells a particular class of people, but is a certain area under two constituted governments, ruled over by one sovereign. The population is made up of a number of races with different languages, religions and social ideals. Divided into a large number of provinces, the country as a whole has an area of 240,942 square miles and a population of about fifty millions. Of these forty-five per cent are Slavs, twenty-five per cent Germans, sixteen per cent Magyars; the remainder consist of Roumanians, Croatians, Ruthenians, Servians, Poles, Bohemians, Jews and numerous other races. Of the different races the Germans are the most desirable in every respect, their educational standard being much higher, their industry more noticeable, and their ideals more closely approaching those of Canadians than is the case with the other races. The provinces which have contributed most largely to the movement of immigrants to Canada are Galicia and Bukowina. The North Atlantic Trading Company, which will be mentioned later, brought Canada to the attention of the people in these two provinces especially, and the movement once commenced continued through the indirect immigration work carried on by those who were successful in their new homes. The census of 1901 showed 28,407 persons in Canada who had been born in Austria-Hungary, and 18,178 of these were classified as Austro-Hungarians, the balance presumably being of German origin. Since that date the immigration movement has been large, nearly 140,000 arriving in the years 1901-12.

Coming from a country where agriculture is the principal industry, the Galicians and others from Austria-Hungary are fitted in some ways to make suitable settlers in Canada. They have been, however, embarrassed for want of capital. They have, moreover, preferred to settle on lands well covered with timber, and the cost of clearing the land and bringing it under cultivation has been higher than that of cultivating prairie land. In the majority of cases when the $10 entry fee for a homestead was paid and a not very habitable house erected, the head of the family, together with any other members able to act as wage-earners, found it necessary to seek work in order to secure funds to purchase stock and machinery. Employment could generally be secured with farmers in the harvesting season, with threshing outfits during the autumn, and in the bush during the winter. In this way the men have secured some knowledge of the English language, as have also some of the women who have become domestic servants.

The Galicians and other Austro-Hungarians are settled largely in the eastern portion of Manitoba and in the northern sections of Saskatchewan and Alberta. They have improved their positions by coming to Canada, but whether or not they are a valuable acquisition to the Dominion is an open question. They are slow to assimilate and adopt Canadian customs, and, after all is said, this should be the final test as to the desirability of any class of immigrants. If they will not aid in forming a people united in customs and ideals, their room should be more acceptable than their company. Time will, no doubt, work wonders in their case, as it has in the case of other nationalities, and eventually it is hoped that they will make good Canadians. The process, however, will be slow.

What has already been said refers to those who have gone upon farms in Canada. Those who have settled in the cities form an entirely different problem. Living as they do in crowded, insanitary and usually filthy quarters, existing upon food and under conditions which a self-respecting Canadian would refuse to tolerate, they enter into unfair competition with the wage-earners of Canada and constitute a source of danger to the national life. Crime is all too common among them, and it is without doubt the city element of this people which has brought about the prejudice which exists against Galicians in the minds of Canadians. Since 1906 no effort has been made by the Canadian government to secure further immigration of this class. But, although all the restrictive regulations mentioned later on are enforced against them, large numbers still arrive, and are likely to arrive for years to come. A flow of any particular class of immigrants is usually difficult to start, but when once commenced it is often just as difficult to check.

The Italians

According to the 1901 census there were then in Canada 6854 persons born in Italy and 10,834 persons of Italian origin. Between the fiscal years 1901-2 and 1911-12 nearly 62,000 immigrants arrived from Italy. The large majority of the Italians cannot, however, in the true sense be classed as immigrants, for they do not come with the intention of making permanent homes. They are ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ who, by living at the lowest possible expense and by working diligently, hope to accumulate sufficient wealth to enable them to live comfortably in ‘Sunny Italy,’ They arrive with little that cannot be carried tied up in a handkerchief, and leave with a travelling outfit of about the same dimensions. Stored about their persons, or transmitted already to their native land, is the money they have earned during their sojourn here.

If we except the hand-organ man and the fruit-dealer, practically all are engaged at work as navvies. In every city you see them digging drains; on railway construction from the Atlantic to the Pacific their services are eagerly sought. The Italian is a good navvy. He obeys the orders of the ‘boss.’ He is not anxious to go on strike, as he counts that any increase in wages would in the short period he intends to remain in the country no more than reimburse him for the wages lost while the strike was on. At construction work he boards himself, or, if eating at the contractor’s boarding-house, is likely to be satisfied with whatever fare is furnished. He has no desire to insist upon exceptionally clean sleeping quarters, and, in a word, is exactly the class of help which contractors desire for the rough work of railway construction. When times are slack the Italians flock to the cities, and in their little colonies in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver huddle into their cheap boarding-houses and live under appalling conditions, at a rate so low as almost to shatter belief in the much talked of ‘increased cost of living.’ When work is again available they are shipped off by employment agents to points at which their services are needed.

They have arrived from their native land with the idea that it is for them to right their own wrongs in person. Thus, while crimes committed by them against other than Italians are uncommon, stabbing and shooting affrays are all too common where men of their own race are the victims. Edward A. Steiner, in his book On the Trail of the Immigrant, writes thus of the Italian attitude towards crime:

The worst thing about the Italians is that they have no sense of shame or remorse. I have not yet found one of them who was sorry for anything except that he had been caught; and in his own eyes and in the eyes of his friends he is ‘unfortunate’ when he is in prison and ‘lucky’ when he comes out. ‘He no bad,’ his neighbour says. ‘He good, he just caught,’ and when he comes out he is received as a hero.

Of the Black Hand societies, of which we hear so much in the large cities of the United States, little as yet has been heard in Canada. That they exist is admitted by those most familiar with the Italian in the Dominion, but as their threats are invariably addressed to members of their own race, information is unlikely to be furnished to the courts, or even to creep into the press of the country.

That labour is necessary to carry on the large public works throughout the Dominion is admitted; that, if not on hand, it must be brought to the country is conceded. We may, however, hold that the help should be secured from such immigrants as are considered desirable, so that the country may have as its labourers those who intend to become permanent residents. The Italians are not of this class. They merely save money with which to return to their native land.

The enforcement of the regulation requiring Italians upon arrival to present their penal certificates has resulted in the rejection of many. A penal certificate is a civil document showing the number of convictions registered against the person to whom it is issued. As each Italian is supposed by the laws of his own country to possess one, the fact that he is without one is taken as evidence that he does not wish it seen, or, in other words, that it shows him to have been convicted of crime. As many have been rejected, either on account of information furnished on the penal certificate or through not possessing a penal certificate, it is evident that many of the Italians attempting to come to Canada (and the same is true of the United States) belong to the criminal class. The government has never encouraged immigration from Italy, except, for a very brief period, in the case of some northern Italians. The large number of arrivals from Italy is accounted for simply by the fact that those emigrating desire work, and that the work awaits them in Canada.

The French

With the population of France at a standstill and the people prosperous, it is not to be expected that any great movement of settlers should take place from that country; nevertheless, since the beginning of the twentieth century there has been a steady flow of emigration to Canada. The number for the years 1901-12 was 17,970. As in 1901 there were only 7944 persons in Canada who had been born in France, this class of population has more than doubled in the last decade.

The French coming to Canada have settled largely in Quebec, Ontario and the western provinces. There are several very progressive colonies in Saskatchewan. The French are an industrious and thrifty people, and will make a success of agricultural work in the Dominion.

More important than the movement from France is that of ‘Returned Canadians’ from the Eastern States. These people left Quebec when Canada was far from being as prosperous as it now is, and are returning to Canada to take up free homesteads in the prairie provinces, or to secure crown lands in Quebec or Ontario.

The Belgians

The people from Belgium also make excellent settlers. Of these there were 2280 in 1901, and since that date the arrivals have been 10,184.

The Dutch

The Dutch are as yet slightly represented in the Dominion, there being in 1901 only 385 in Canada who were born in Holland. In the first decade of the present century 4895 arrived, and a heavier immigration is expected in the future. They make good settlers, and those who have already come have made very rapid material progress.

The Swiss

The Swiss are lightly represented in the immigration returns, only 1717 having arrived between 1901 and 1912. They also make good settlers.

The Germans

In Canada in 1901 there were only 27,300 persons who had been born in Germany; there were, however, 310,501 of German origin, or almost six per cent of the total population of the Dominion. In the early days, as stated elsewhere in this article, Canada received considerable German immigration both directly from the Fatherland and indirectly from the German settlements in the United States. The descendants of these settlers form the greater part of the present population of German origin. The immigration from Germany during the years 1901-12 was about 25,000. In addition to the above a considerable portion of the immigration from Austria-Hungary and Russia is of German origin. For the fiscal years 1909-10 and 1910-11 the unnaturalized Germans from the United States numbered 2378 and 1123 respectively.

Sturdy, intelligent, honest and industrious, the German makes an ideal farmer, and he is in other walks of life a good citizen. Although he clings to his language he also acquires English, and the younger people especially adopt Canadian customs. They are amongst Canada’s best settlers, and it is to be regretted that the laws of Germany prohibit the active immigration propaganda which would enable the Dominion to secure a much larger number than are now arriving.

The Scandinavians

Icelanders have already been dealt with. As of them, so of the other Scandinavian races—Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes—nothing but good can be said. The larger part of the immigrants of these races go on the land; but whether they engage in agriculture or take up employment in the cities they prove hard-working, honest, thrifty and intelligent settlers of whom any country might be proud. In addition to those coming direct from the homeland many have been moving for years past from the Western States into Saskatchewan and Alberta, and are there looked upon as amongst the most progressive settlers. They readily acquire the English language, become naturalized at the earliest possible moment, take an interest in the political questions affecting their new homes, and, in a word, ‘become Canadians.’ In 1901 there were in Canada 2075 Danes and 10,256 Norwegians and Swedes. Between 1901-2 and 1911-12 over 4700 Danes and over 36,500 Norwegians and Swedes arrived in the Dominion. With the Scandinavian race there is really no question of assimilation. They are sprung largely from the same stock as are the English, and, when they have acquired the language and become acquainted with Canadian customs, they will be as other Canadians. True, the first generation will be distinguished by their accent, but even this disappears in the second generation.

Turks, Armenians and Syrians

Turkey, Armenia and Syria supply some of Canada’s most undesirable immigrants. With them assimilation is out of the question and, except rarely, they are not producers. The Italians have their faults; Canadians may not approve of the manner in which the Poles and many other Eastern European races live. But these people are at least workers. If they take money out of the country when they go back to their homes, they leave behind them tasks performed, for which as a rule they have received no more than they have earned. But with the Turks, Syrians and Armenians it is different. They live under conditions which are a menace to the country, and their time is spent in trade and barter. Like the Gypsies, they are quick to avail themselves of naturalization, not that they admire Canada’s form of government or take any interest in political events, but merely because of the extra protection which naturalization affords or which they imagine it affords. They are of a wandering nature, and many of them have lived on both sides of the international boundary. It is not uncommon to meet people of these classes who carry with them when travelling naturalization papers from both Canada and the United States. They find them of value in passing from one country to the other. There were 1571 Turks and Syrians in Canada in 1901, and of these 481 were naturalized. Since that date there have arrived 2456 Turks, 5229 Syrians and 1473 Armenians. Pedlars are no great acquisition to any country, and there are few people in the Dominion who would care to see the day arrive when people of these races might be pointed out as fair samples of Canadian citizens.

Greeks, Macedonians and Bulgarians

The Greeks, Macedonians and Bulgarians are all dwellers in cities when that is possible. If city work is not available they take railway construction work, and, as they can live on very little, they are able to save a large part of their earnings. The Greek is rapidly branching out into two new callings, shoe-polishing and confectionery. Amongst the Macedonians and Bulgarians the highest ambition seems to be to keep small stores where they sell the necessaries of life, even if in a small way, as it gives them a better opportunity to prey upon their countrymen.

The modern Greek, Macedonian and Bulgarian have far from a high sense of truthfulness. The writer has seen squads of forty or fifty examined at the ocean port. Each one gave an address to which he was proceeding, and gravely informed the inspector that the person he was going to join was his brother. Each one gave the same address. When asked if he had any relatives accompanying him, each stated that he had none. When confronted with the statements of others of the party these dissemblers would then change their story and claim to be cousins, brothers-in-law, or to have any other convenient relationship to the one already in the country. A recent case occurred in which a Macedonian naturalized in Canada sent his naturalization papers to a friend in the United States who desired to come to the Dominion. This person, when stopped by an immigration official, demanded entry as a Canadian citizen. The fraud was discovered, the would-be immigrant was fined and deported, and the Macedonian Canadian citizen was fined $250 for aiding and abetting the entry of an undesirable.

Practically all these three classes in the Dominion have arrived since the beginning of the present century, the Greek and Macedonian immigration numbering 3997 in the first decade and the Bulgarian 4484 in the same time. Since the 1910 Immigration Act came into force the rejections amongst these classes have been very heavy. None are now admitted if they can be legally kept out.

The Chinese

Chinese immigration has undergone many changes. It was openly encouraged in the early eighties when Chinese labourers were needed in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1886 an agitation carried on by trade unions resulted in the imposing of a head tax of $50 on this class of immigrants. In 1901 this was increased to $100 and in 1904 to $500. In 1901 there were 17,043 persons in Canada who had been born in China. The number of those of Chinese origin was probably somewhat larger. Between 1901 and 1912 upwards of 30,000 entered Canada. Very few of the Chinese arriving in Canada come on their own initiative. Their fares and head tax are paid by ‘tyees’ or contractors, who hold them practically in bondage until they repay the expense entailed in bringing them to Canada, together with an exorbitant profit. They are industrious workers, very thrifty, live well according to their standards, and insist upon receiving the highest rate of remuneration which their services can secure.

The Chinese in Canada may be divided into four classes: merchants, dealing largely in teas, silks, opium and other oriental products; gardeners who devote their attention almost entirely to garden products, and who in British Columbia appear able to make large profits after paying a yearly rental of $25 an acre for their land; restaurant keepers and laundrymen; and, lastly, domestic servants. In the last-mentioned occupation they give excellent satisfaction to their employers, but as their wages have doubled since the imposition of the $500 head tax, it is their proud boast that it is the Canadians and not themselves who are mulcted. For this boast they apparently have good grounds.

Generally speaking the Chinamen are quiet, inoffensive, law-abiding people, if we leave out of account their tendency to gamble and to indulge in opium. Many missions exist for their conversion to Christianity. It is true, however, that while large numbers profess conversion some will admit to their intimate friends that they have done so because, as they say, it is ‘good for blizness.’ When gambling they are not averse to deception, but in business transactions they are credited with having a strict sense of honour; many who know them best say that a Chinaman’s word is as good as his bond.

The large increase in numbers arriving during 1910-11 is reported to have been caused by the circulation of a report in China that the Canadian government intend raising the head tax to $1000. Although not popular, the Chinaman may be said to be now the least hated Oriental on the western coast. As the desire of the Chinese is to accumulate wealth to take back to their native land, and as assimilation is out of the question, they cannot be classed as desirable, but, unless the numbers arriving increase very largely, they cannot be said to constitute any great menace to Canada.

The Japanese

The Japanese are, from a Canadian standpoint, the most undesirable of the Orientals. Belonging to an emigrating race, filled with patriotism for their own country, and living within such easy reach of Canada’s western coast, they might, if allowed to come, flood the Province of British Columbia and dominate not only the labour market, but, through the investment of capital, the principal industries as well. That they are industrious and capable is admitted by all acquainted with them. They would, however, never become Canadians, and their arrival in large numbers is, therefore, a contingency which should be carefully guarded against. Unlike the other Orientals, they are not content to remain ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water.’ Possibly this desire to figure in all walks of life is not unconnected with the dislike which the white races bear towards them. There were about 4700 Japanese in Canada in 1901. Between 1901 and 1912 about 15,000 entered the Dominion, the heaviest immigration being in 1907-8, when 7601 arrived. There was a great falling off in the numbers (495) arriving in 1908-9 as compared with 1907-8; this was the result of an arrangement between Canada and Japan, whereby the Japanese coolies arriving in any one year were to be restricted to a certain number. Japan has kept well within the number arranged for. So long as this arrangement remains in force Japanese immigration need cause no anxiety to Canada.

The Hindus

Of the different immigration problems which from time to time have faced the Dominion, that of the influx of Hindus appeared for a time to be possibly the most serious. This movement commenced in 1905. The arrivals up to the close of the fiscal year 1911-12 were 5203. British Columbia, the nearest province to the Orient and the one possessing the climate most closely resembling that of their native land, was the ultimate destination of these unwelcome comers, and British Columbia was not slow in expressing her disapproval of them. ‘A White Canada’ was her cry. That these immigrants were British subjects; that many had fought for the Empire; that many expressed their willingness to do so again should occasion arise—all this in no way lessened the antipathy of the white race towards them.

True, there were some imperialists who, recognizing in the Hindus subjects of the same sovereign, argued that they were entitled to enter the Dominion as a matter of right, and that any action towards restricting their movements from one part of the British domains to another would endanger the existence of the Empire. But the counsels of the advocates of ‘A White Canada’ finally prevailed, and an order-in-council was passed providing that persons of Asiatic origin, other than Chinese and Japanese, must have in their possession $200 at the time of landing in Canada. This came into force in 1908, and the numbers arriving immediately dropped from 2623 in that year to almost nothing.

The Hindus who came to Canada were largely from the Punjab and, physically, were a fine set of men. The term Hindu as here applied is a misnomer, denoting as it does a religious sect rather than a race of people. In religion they were divided, some being Hindus, others Buddhists and others Mohammedans. It is doubtful whether with their constitutions, suitable for the country and climate from which they came, they will ever become thoroughly acclimatized in Canada. Pneumonia and pulmonary troubles have already resulted in the death of no small number. Their bodies were disposed of by cremation, the burial method of their own country; possibly this is the only one of their customs which might with advantage be adopted.

Saw-mills and railway construction work afforded employment to the Hindus. While they were able at most times to secure employment, it was at a lower rate than that paid to white men or even to Japanese or Chinese. They were unaccustomed to Canadian methods, and though able to speak a little English were slow to learn more. Their greatest disadvantage, however, is their caste system, which prevents them from eating and sometimes even from working with white men, or even with others of their own race who belong to a different social scale—for this is practically the meaning of caste. Now that the influx is checked the Hindu problem is ended. Those already in the country are occupied in the various mills, and yearly some go to the United States and others back to their native land.

The Jews

Scattered over the face of the earth, a people but not a nation, the Jews seek the land where they may hope to reap a harvest from their labours. Canada, in common with the United States, has proved a loadstone to draw these wanderers from the ends of the earth. Russia, Austria-Hungary, Germany and England have furnished in the order named the Hebrews who have settled in the Dominion.

Efforts at colonization on the land have been made. Two of the most important were at Wapella and Hirsch. Neither has proved a conspicuous success. More recently the Jews have attempted the cultivation of the finer grades of tobacco in the Province of Quebec, and although their efforts are apparently meeting with success it is as yet too soon to predict the final result. They cannot be classed as agriculturists, and the number who have engaged in this occupation is small compared with those engaged in trade and barter or who take up manufacturing.

The Jews are pre-eminently dwellers in cities. The clothing trade in its various branches provides employment for many; other occupations that attract them are cigar and cigarette making, shoe-repairing, fruit-dealing and vegetable-dealing, and rag and other varieties of peddling.

The increase in the Hebrew population has been very rapid in Canada, rising from 667 in 1881 to 16,131 in 1901; since then the immigration of this race has amounted to over 50,000. According to the census of 1901, of the 16,131 Jews then resident in Canada 13,470 lived in twelve cities. In Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg the conditions under which some, especially the Russian Jews, live are far from satisfactory, either as respects air-space, ventilation or cleanliness. Sweat-shops have not yet reached in Canada the deplorable condition found in the United States, but the tendency is in that direction, and the Jews are one of the strongest factors in bringing this about. No effort is or ever has been made by the government of Canada to induce Jewish immigrants to come to the Dominion, and the influx has been entirely unsolicited. In their movements to America they are aided largely by their philanthropic societies. These also do useful work amongst their own people by looking after those unable to support themselves.


Having briefly reviewed the different nationalities coming to Canada, we pass to a consideration of the laws respecting immigration. From time to time new immigration acts have been passed, notably in 1869, 1886 and 1906. The last and existing act was passed in 1910, and it is noticeable that, while, as a rule, considerable criticism is directed against government legislation by the opposition, in passing this act the two great political parties were as one. The act was framed with the object of providing the immigration officials with the necessary machinery to carry out the government’s policy of inducing the immigration of farmers and of female domestic servants from approved countries. At the same time it aimed at enabling immigration officials to keep out of Canada all undesirables, irrespective of the countries from which they came. The act was the result of the experience of eight years with the then existing law, and was made up of such portions of this law as had proved valuable. Portions of the United States Act and of the Australian Act were added, and entirely new features were included which seemed to meet the end in view.

A brief résumé of its important points may not here be out of place. The act, stripped of legal phraseology, may best be understood by considering it under four heads. (1) That portion providing for carrying on an immigration propaganda. (2) Provisions for the protection of immigrants. (3) Provisions for the exclusion of undesirable immigrants. (4) Provisions for deportation after arrival of immigrants who prove to be undesirable.

The act provides first for the appointment of officers, and for the establishment of offices within, or outside, Canada. A provision is made for the punishment of those making false representations to induce or deter immigration to Canada. The most important provisions under the second heading are regulations for the protection of female immigrants while on board vessels. Heavy penalties are also imposed upon vessel owners for breach of contract with any immigrant. To increase their revenue shipowners have been known to overcrowd their vessels; in order to prevent this the act stipulates that no vessel carrying immigrants to Canada shall have on board more than one adult person, including crew and passengers, for every two tons of the tonnage of such vessel. It has happened in the past that during the voyage immigrants have frequently spent more of their money than they could well afford upon drink, and to check this the sale of intoxicating liquor to steerage passengers, except with the consent of the master of the ship or of a duly qualified medical practitioner on board the ship, has been prohibited, and a fine is imposed of not less than $10 or of more than $50 for each offence. It has happened that unscrupulous persons would offer employment to immigrants on what afterwards proved to be unfair terms, or would charge exorbitant fees for securing or promising to secure good openings. It is often difficult to prosecute such cases under the Criminal Code, and the act accordingly gives to the governor in council authority to make regulations safeguarding the interests of immigrants.

These things—an immigration propaganda and the regulations for the protection of new settlers—may very well be left to departmental management. But provisions for excluding immigrants affect personal liberty and should be regulated by statute. This has been done in part. But the government has, in addition, power to pass orders-in-council to deal with situations and conditions not easily covered by an act of parliament. Speaking in the house on this subject the Hon. Frank Oliver said:

We want to be in such a position that, should occasion arise, when public policy seems to demand it, we may have the power, on our responsibility as a Government, to exclude people whom we consider undesirable. If this power is given to the Government, then the Government can be held responsible should there be a sudden influx of an undesirable class of people. We cannot tell at what time, or under what circumstances, there may be a sudden movement of people from one part of the world or another, and we want to be in a position to check it, should public policy demand such an action.

This view of the situation was adopted by parliament, and the governor in council was given wide powers. The discussion which took place upon the bill showed that Canada, in common with other young countries, whose natural resources attract the residents of the overcrowded communities of Europe, is fully aware of the necessity of sifting ‘the wheat from the chaff’ in the multitudes who seek her shores. That the exclusion provisions are drastic none can deny; that their enforcement has brought and will bring hardship on some all must admit. They were passed by members of parliament fully aware of these facts. The Hon. Frank Oliver said:

Let it be distinctly understood by each member of the Committee upon whom rests the responsibility of legislation, that if we deem it necessary to pass a law restricting immigration, the fact of that law being upon the statute book places upon the Government of the day the responsibility of enforcing its provisions. The restrictive provisions of our immigration law which are now in force, and which will be in force under this Act, mean hardship in many cases. There are heart-breaking instances, hundreds of them, under its administration. But it is the law, not of the Government, but of the Parliament of Canada, and it expresses the mind of our people in regard to these questions, and the responsibility of the Government is to carry out the will of the people thus expressed. It is impossible to enforce a harsh statute in a soft way. I would wish that every member of the House should appreciate the full measure of his responsibility in endorsing the drastic exclusion provisions of this immigration law; he must share with the Government the responsibility for the hardship which occurs under it. It would not be acting fairly by the country, and the Government would stand to be condemned, if, having been authorized by Parliament to enforce certain exclusion provisions, the Government did not give effect to those provisions. I do not think there is any member of the House who appreciates more than I do the terrible hardships that arise under the administration of this immigration law; but under the responsibility which I hold from this House, and from the country, I have a duty to perform, and I wish to perform it, while as leniently as possible, yet as honestly and as fairly as possible, and as much in accord with the instructions of Parliament as possible.

It is thus clearly evident that parliament passed its exclusion provisions duly aware of the effect they would have. In brief, the section dealing with this subject absolutely prohibits the landing in Canada of criminals, diseased persons, those mentally or physically defective, procurers, prostitutes and pimps, beggars or vagrants, those likely to become a public charge, and all charity immigrants, except those having from the superintendent of immigration at Ottawa, or the assistant superintendent of emigration for Canada, in London, written authority to go to Canada. It also excludes those who do not comply with the conditions or requirements of any order-in-council which may be passed by the governor in council as above mentioned. The reason for the exclusion of most of the classes enumerated is self-evident, but without some explanation that referring to charity-aided immigrants might seem unduly harsh. It may, therefore, be mentioned that during the year 1907 over 12,000 immigrants were sent to Canada by charitable organizations. These persons were the unemployed, chiefly drawn from the overcrowded quarters of large cities. Their position was often due either to their own intemperance or incompetence. A prominent immigration official said of them that they ‘for the most part lack that self-confidence and self-reliance so necessary for success in a new country and under new conditions.’ In the autumn of 1907 many of these people were out of work and a burden on the communities in which they lived. The Immigration department received some very harsh criticism, and accordingly an order-in-council was passed prohibiting charity-aided immigrants from coming to Canada except on the terms above mentioned. The new law is, therefore, merely a continuation of the old policy.

The exclusion provisions so far dealt with are the statutory ones. In addition to those enumerated the governor-general in council may:

(1) Provide that immigrants shall have in their possession a prescribed amount of money.

(2) Provide that immigrants coming from countries issuing passports or penal certificates to persons leaving such countries shall produce these before being allowed to land in Canada.

(3) Prohibit the landing in Canada of immigrants not coming by continuous journey from the country of birth or naturalization upon a through ticket purchased in that country or prepaid in Canada.

(4) Prohibit the landing of immigrants belonging to any race deemed unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada, or of immigrants of any specified class, occupation, or character.

(5) Prohibit the landing of passengers brought by transportation companies which refuse to comply with the provisions of the act.

Of these five clauses the government put the first three in force as soon as the act was assented to by the governor-general in council. The first provides that every immigrant arriving in Canada between March 1 and October 31 must be in possession of $25 at the time of landing. If he comes at other times of the year he must be in possession of $50 unless he is going to assured employment at farm work, or, in the case of females, to assured employment in domestic service. A relaxation is also made in the case of persons going to join father, mother, brother, independent sister or children, provided that in each case such relative is able and willing to support the immigrant arriving. In order to overcome the rigidity of the act in its exclusion provisions, the minister of the Interior has power to permit any person to enter Canada for a specified period of time.

The act provides for the deportation of those who after arrival prove undesirable. This means that if within three years they come under the classes mentioned as liable to exclusion, or have been inmates of a gaol, asylum, hospital or other public charitable institution, they may be deported. The law also provides for the deportation of anarchists and similar undesirable classes. Deported persons are returned to the country from which they came at the expense of the transportation company responsible for bringing them to Canada.

Possibly the most drastic section in the whole act is that which provides as follows:

No court and no judge or officer thereof shall have jurisdiction to review, quash, reverse, restrain or otherwise interfere with any proceeding, decision or order of the Minister or of any Board of Inquiry, or officer in charge, had, made or given under authority and in accordance with the provisions of this Act, relating to the detention or deportation of any rejected immigrant, passenger, or other person, upon any ground whatsoever, unless such person is a Canadian citizen or has Canadian domicile.

To understand the full force of this section it need only be stated that for the purpose of this act no person, unless born in Canada, or unless he has resided at least three years in Canada, can be considered as a Canadian citizen, or as having acquired a Canadian domicile. This provision refusing access to a court of law applies, of course, only to those rejected immediately upon arrival, and does not refer to those ordered to be deported after admission. The reason for this legislation is that the immigration officers are the best judges of those who are, and of those who are not, qualified to land in Canada, and they should be trusted to discharge their duties justly.


The immigration policy of the government of Canada at the present time is, and for many years past has been, to encourage the immigration of farmers, farm labourers and domestic servants from countries which are classed as desirable. The list of countries has undergone change from time to time, and at the present includes the United States, the British Isles, France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.

On the other hand, it is the policy of the government to do all in its power to keep out of the country undesirables, who may be divided into three classes:

1. Those physically, mentally or morally unfit whose exclusion is provided for by the immigration act already quoted.

2. Those belonging to nationalities unlikely to assimilate and who, consequently, prevent the building up of a united nation of people of similar customs and ideals.

3. Those who from their mode of life and occupations are likely to crowd into urban centres and bring about a state of congestion which might result in unemployment and a lowering of the standard of Canadian national life.

While neither the Immigration Act nor the orders-in-council passed thereunder prohibit the landing in Canada of persons belonging to the second and third classes above mentioned, still their entry has been made difficult. Their coming is discouraged in a number of ways. Chinese are subject to a head tax of $500. The number of Japanese coolies has been limited by arrangements between the two countries. Orders-in-council have been passed requiring (1) Asiatic arrivals to have $200 in cash at the time of landing; (2) the production of passports and penal certificates by persons coming from the countries which issue these; (3) the continuous journey of all immigrants from the country of their birth or citizenship on tickets purchased in that country or purchased or prepaid in Canada. All these regulations put obstacles in the way of immigrants from Asia and Southern and Eastern Europe, and, consequently, the numbers coming or likely to come from those countries are correspondingly diminished.

Briefly, this is the immigration policy of the government. In so far as the administration of the restrictive part of the policy is concerned the Immigration department has at all times endeavoured to be both just and humane, bearing in mind, however, that its duty is to Canada and to Canada only, and that while every applicant for admission who is likely to be an acquisition to the country shall be admitted if the law will permit it, on the other hand, every person who is likely to be a detriment to the country must be rejected if the law will allow it.

It may be here stated that until 1903 immigrants, upon arrival in Canada, underwent no medical examination which might result in their rejection through physical or mental unfitness. In 1903, however, a medical examination was commenced, and from that year rejections at the ocean ports have been frequent, both upon medical and civil grounds. The rejections at border points between Canada and the United States commenced in 1908-9. During the fiscal years 1902-12 8500 rejections were recorded at ocean ports and 51,015 at border stations on the United States boundary. Even with the care exercised in the rejection of undesirables when they apply for admission, a certain percentage enter Canada who prove failures and who are deported. During the years 1902-12 5626 such deportations were made.


In Great Britain and Ireland

In Great Britain and Ireland the immigration propaganda is carried on by advertisements in the newspapers, particular use being made of agricultural journals and papers circulating wholly or largely in the agricultural districts. Little use is made of newspapers whose circulation is largely urban. Advertising in newspapers is of two classes. Regular advertisements call attention in brief form to the advantages which Canada offers, and give the address of the nearest government office where full information can be obtained regarding the country. But a more effective advertisement consists in accounts of trips through Canada by journalists of note. The insertion of this matter is arranged for by the department, sometimes at a regular advertising rate, sometimes in return for advertising which has been given to journals and paid for. In practically no case does the department advertise in a newspaper which refuses, when requested, to publish a reasonable amount of good reading material regarding the Dominion. During the winter of 1910-11 the department advertised in 550 papers in the British Islands.

Weekly a column of Canadian news, edited to suit the tastes of the British reader, is prepared at the London office of the Canadian Immigration department and sent to over 600 papers. This news, while having no direct, or very little direct, bearing on immigration, brings Canada before the reading public, and is good for the Dominion from an immigration standpoint.

Similar publicity is secured in a bi-weekly cablegram from Canada dealing with important non-political Canadian events. All the leading papers publish this cable in full, and, received as a government statement of events, it is regarded as authentic, widely quoted and commented upon, and in this way brings Canada prominently to the front. In the British Islands a method of advertisement which has been very satisfactory has been the exhibit wagons, of which there are two, one working in the north of Scotland and the other throughout Ireland. Two motor cars also travel throughout rural England from the middle of March until the end of October. These cars contain samples of Canadian grains, etc., and the persons in charge stop wherever a crowd can most conveniently be collected, lecture on the Dominion and distribute pamphlets. These cars are present at as many markets and fairs as possible, and regular exhibits are also made at many of the fairs. Atlases are distributed at rural schools, and the rising generation used to agricultural life are thus made aware of the advantages which Canada has to offer.

Farm delegates are also sent to the British Islands. Those of the farm delegates who are well fitted for public speaking lecture about five nights a week at meetings which are advertised in the locality selected. In almost all cases the buildings are filled, and, as a rule, magic-lanterns showing views of Canadian farm life are used in explaining the work which immigrants may expect to find upon their arrival. All those engaged in lecture work are carefully warned to keep well within the bounds of truth, and to arrange for as good a report in the local press as it is possible to obtain. In this way the lecturer reaches, not only those present at the meeting, but also the reading public of the papers in which the report is inserted. Very often the chair at the meeting is occupied by the mayor or some important municipal officer, and at times by clergymen or others interested in emigration work. At the conclusion of the meetings it is usual to invite inquiries, and any points upon which the audience may be in doubt are then thoroughly explained. Others of the farm delegates are advertised by the booking-agents as being present in their offices to give their personal experience of farming in Canada, and in the majority of cases a large number of inquirers call to learn of Canada from the lips of men who have had practical and personal experience.

The regular offices of the department from which this work is directed in Great Britain and Ireland are nine in number, situated at London, Liverpool, Exeter, York, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin. The general work of all these offices is twofold in character: first, to encourage all desirable persons to emigrate to Canada, and secondly, to discourage the emigration of those who, for any reason, are likely to prove failures. Of these reasons, lack of adaptability is one of the most common, one of the most serious, and also one of the most easily perceivable to a person trained in dealing with emigrants. In the British Islands it is customary for booking-agents who come in contact with any one about whose success they have doubts to refer him to the nearest government office, where his case is considered and advice is given in the best interests of Canada and of the prospective emigrant. As there are over three thousand booking-agents in the British Islands, this phase of the work is very important; and when it is considered that booking-agents suffer a pecuniary loss from every prospective emigrant discouraged from emigrating, it is only fair to them to say that they deserve credit for the manner in which they carry on their work. There are, however, some who are more concerned in looking after their own interests than after the interests of Canada; but it is impossible for them to carry on their work contrary to the regulations of the department for any length of time without coming into conflict with the authorities, and the steamship companies have evinced a willingness to withdraw their licence from such as persist in misrepresentation or give bad advice. A number of booking-agents have been forced out of business on account of their unfair dealings. Inasmuch as a bonus is paid to booking-agents selling tickets to farmers, farm labourers and female domestic servants, each one of these booking-agents is looked upon practically as an agent of the department, and they are supplied with literature for distribution among their prospective customers. The same method is followed by Australia, New Zealand and other colonies seeking immigrants, but so far Canada has been able, by its superior class of literature and by the advantages which the country offers, to hold the services of practically all the agents. It thus happens that a person desirous of leaving the old country and going to a booking-agent for advice is much more likely to be directed to Canada than to the other colonies. The bonus paid at the present time (1912) is £1 per head on adults who will engage in the occupations specified, and 10s. on their children between one and eighteen years of age. For the calendar year 1909 the bonus was paid upon 4063 men, 2647 women and 1405 children, while for the calendar year 1910 the bonus was paid upon 9813 men, 6015 women and 2840 children.

Before leaving the question of the payment of bonus to British booking-agents it might be well to quote a short extract from a circular letter, issued by the department to these agents, setting forth in brief the department’s views on the question of British immigration.

The circular says:

In a country with a population of nearly fifty millions, such as the United Kingdom, which has no new territory for occupation, there must necessarily be a large yearly increase of population, which must either find an outlet, or add to the congestion of the great cities. Every year there is a very large movement of people from the United Kingdom to North America. For a long time the larger part of this yearly movement went to the United States and a very small part to Canada. That which went to the United States was lost to the Empire; the part which went to Canada aided in building up the Empire.

It is not the expectation of the Government of Canada to increase unduly the outflow of people from the United Kingdom, but it is its desire to turn to the benefit of the Empire in Canada a greater proportion of the natural and necessary annual outflow from the mother country.

The Canadian Government in confining the bonus to emigrants of certain callings has selected those callings which may fairly be expected to fit people for the opportunities existing in Canada. By making special exertions to secure these classes for Canada, the booking agents will be doing their best for the emigrants themselves, for Canada and for the Empire.

It is believed that, although the classes particularly desired by Canada might find a field for employment at home, the removal each year of some part of the natural increase there will leave room and opportunity for others who would, under other circumstances, be crowded out of these advantages.

The classes of people on whom bonus is paid by the Canadian Government are expected, by reason of their experience at home, to find scope for their abilities in the occupation of the vacant lands of Canada, or in the employment upon the lands now occupied and cultivated. And while it is not asserted that people of other callings or conditions of life should not come to Canada, or may not find a career open to them in this country, it is desired to have it well understood that the Government of Canada assumes no responsibility with respect to any other immigration than that of the classes mentioned as eligible for bonus payment. It is not asserted that the farmer or farm labourer is necessarily a more desirable citizen than any other, but it is a simple fact that the demand in Canada is for people to occupy the as yet vacant lands of the country, or to aid in the cultivation of those already occupied. This it is which justifies the Government in assuming the expense of immigration effort. To go beyond the attempt to meet these requirements would be to use the money of certain classes of Canadian taxpayers for the purpose of securing competitors against them in their several callings, for which they would naturally hold the Government to account.

For these reasons booking agents will be good enough to understand that the present large bonus is only offered to secure the fullest compliance with its conditions, and they must expect the officials of the Immigration Branch to look strictly into every bonus claim made, not as showing any lack of faith in the booking agents, or as discriminating against any class of people, but simply as a matter of business to make sure that money is not being paid except on the due fulfilment of conditions that have the sanction of all classes of the Canadian people, who, in fact, are paying the money.

It is not in the interest of the individual emigrant that he should remove to Canada unless there is reasonable prospect of his success here. The arrival in this country of any large number of immigrants who are unfitted for the conditions here, must necessarily react against the continuance of the movement. In spite of the fact that his failure to succeed is due to personal causes, the unsuccessful man will blame the country, and complain to his friends at home, thereby deterring them from coming out, and the efforts of the Immigration Department will be discredited with the people of Canada, who will therefore withdraw their support from those efforts. The men wanted in Canada are those who will do well here, who are recognized in the United Kingdom as being fit, but who are looking for the wider opportunities of the new country, not to be found at home. The efforts of the Canadian Immigration Department are not directed towards those who are merely looking for a place where they may live, but towards those who, while they are able to live under present conditions in the United Kingdom, are on the look-out for an opportunity to better their position in life.

In all the British offices lecturing is one of the most important branches, and hundreds of lectures are delivered every year by the regular staff. The distribution of Canadian atlases and school maps is having an excellent effect in directing the attention of the rising generation towards Canada, while millions of copies of immigration pamphlets distributed in the past few years have gone a long way towards dispelling that ignorance regarding Canada which was at one time only too noticeable in the mother country.

In Continental Europe

On the Continent officers are maintained at Paris and at Antwerp. Here, too, newspaper advertising is carried on, atlases are distributed, personal inquiries are answered, and a knowledge of Canada is disseminated by all means possible. The government agents have the assistance of certain selected booking-agents to whom a bonus is allowed on passengers booked by them. In 1899 the government entered into an agreement with the North Atlantic Trading Company to promote emigration to Canada from certain Continental European countries upon the understanding that the company was to receive a bonus on each agriculturist and female domestic servant from the countries in which the work was carried on. From time to time this agreement was altered by the addition to, or the elimination from, the contract of certain European countries. The last agreement was dated November 28, 1904, and was to run for ten years, subject to cancellation on four years’ notice by either side, or subject to cancellation at any time if in the opinion of the minister of the Interior the company was failing to live up to its contract.

During the continuation of this contract it was the cause of much discussion in parliament. As there are strong laws against promoting emigration in some of the countries concerned, the Canadian government agreed that the names of the persons interested in the company should be kept secret. The opposition in parliament attacked this secrecy, and the result was political strife over the question. The last contract, entered into in 1904, provided for educative work regarding Canada in Holland, Denmark, Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Luxemburg, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland. The company was to spend annually not less than $15,000 on its work. The government agreed to pay the company £1 for each man, woman and child of the agricultural class brought to Canada, and for each girl of eighteen years of age or over of the domestic service class. It was provided that in no one year should the government be called upon to pay a bonus on more than five thousand Poles, Galicians and Bukowinians. While discouraging this immigration to this extent the government gave special aid to encourage the operations in Norway, Sweden and Finland. The company carried on their work actively. In the end, however, the minister of the Interior claimed that the company was devoting too much attention to the southern and eastern countries, and too little to the northern countries. This, he held, was in violation of the agreement, and in 1906 he gave notice terminating the contract. The total amount paid to the North Atlantic Trading Company from 1899 to 1906 was $367,245. This was the only case in which the government has ‘farmed out,’ so to speak, its immigration propaganda.

In the United States

In the United States the department has sixteen regular offices. At each one of these offices a regular immigration propaganda is carried on throughout the year. Advertisements appear in the newspapers, and news about Canada is circulated. During the advertising seasons advertisements appear, as a rule, in about five thousand newspapers. Next to newspaper advertising, the exhibits at autumn fairs in rural villages and county towns is the best method of advertising in the United States. These exhibits are seen by exactly the class of people who are wanted in Canada, and no stronger argument can be made to them than a view of the products of the country. From the regular offices and at exhibitions are distributed large numbers of the pamphlets prepared by the department. These must be kept strictly up to date, otherwise they arouse the suspicions of the Americans. For example, the pamphlets presented in 1913 must report fully on the crops of 1912, be they good, bad or indifferent. If the figures published should be for the year 1911, it is immediately inferred that there was something to conceal about the crops of the following year.

The literature distributed by the department in Great Britain, on the Continent and in the United States is compiled at Ottawa. Great care is taken that all statements are correct. Every effort is made to keep the maps and statistical information strictly up-to-date. Some of the pamphlets deal with the Dominion as a whole, while others deal with individual provinces. Besides distribution from the offices outside Canada, a large amount is distributed direct from the head office.[1]

[1] The amounts spent upon immigration by the Dominion of Canada given herewith:

Fiscal Year$


The work just outlined has an immense influence in directing immigration to Canada, but another factor is equally, if not more, important—railway construction. Not only are workers required, and immigrants brought, to build the railways; the new areas opened up prove an incentive which the land-hungry of other countries cannot resist, and they flock to a region traversed by a railway. First the Canadian Pacific Railway, at a later date the Canadian Northern, and more recently still the Grand Trunk Pacific have opened up immense tracts. A railway to the Peace River will probably result in a stampede to that country greater than has ever taken place to any portion of the now settled districts of the prairie provinces.

Ready-made Farms

The new scheme of the Canadian Pacific Railway for providing ready-made farms for British settlers has brought to Canada numbers who might not otherwise have come. In the vicinity of Sedgewick and of Strathmore in the Province of Alberta the company has taken a portion of its holdings and commenced work. It erects a comfortable house and a barn on each farm and places a certain area under cultivation. The settler purchases before leaving England, usually on the instalment plan covering a number of years. When he arrives in Canada his home is ready for him, and he undergoes little or none of the pioneering hardships with which the early settler had to contend.


At the present time there is no large number of persons in Canada whose presence is a menace to the country from a political, moral or economic point of view. The reason for the absence of such a problem is that representatives of undesirable nationalities have as yet come in small number only. Who would care to see Alberta a second Mississippi or Georgia, as far as population is concerned? Who would wish to see the day arrive when British Columbia could be termed the ‘Second Flowery Kingdom,’ as might easily happen if the doors were thrown open to the Japanese? Who would not regret to see the ghettos and slums of New York, with her hived population and her reeking sweat-shops, duplicated in Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg? These are the questions which to-day confront Canadians, and this is the problem of the future. More important than the drilling of armies, more important than the construction of navies, more important even than the fiscal policy of the country is the question of who shall come to Canada and become part and parcel of the Canadian people.

Fifty years ago the United States was receiving practically the class which is to-day coming to Canada. With the disappearance of free lands the character of the immigration to the United States has changed, and now Southern and Eastern Europe are furnishing most of her new settlers, and a large percentage of her immigrants remain in the cities. The people of the republic are now awake to the danger which this involves, and anti-immigration leagues and similar organizations are being formed to bring the question prominently before the public. Canada, with this object-lesson before her, has no excuse if she allows the same evils to grow. Much has already been done to prevent this. One suggestion for further checks is the introduction of educational tests. It is, for instance, suggested that no one over ten years of age shall be admitted who is unable to speak, read and write either English, Welsh, Gaelic, French, German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish or Icelandic. This would practically confine immigration to the countries where immigration work is now carried on.

E. N. Lewis, M.P., introduced in the House of Commons in the session of 1909-10 an ‘Act to Amend the Immigration Act,’ which provided among other things that ‘From and after the 1st January, 1911, natives of Europe south of Forty-four Degrees, North Latitude, and east of Twenty Degrees, East Longitude, and natives of Turkey in Asia, shall be prohibited from entering in and settling in Canada.’ This bill was not passed by parliament, but the fact of its introduction shows that the importance of restricting immigration vigorously is not being entirely overlooked. How far international or diplomatic considerations might prevent such checks it is difficult to say. Stephen Leacock, Professor of Political Economy in McGill University, writes in an article on Immigration in the National Review:

The prairies of the West blossomed and withered under the suns of unnumbered ages before the coming of the harvester; the forests of British Columbia have slept in silence for countless winters before the prospector measured them into their billions of feet of timber. Let them stand a little longer till we can rest assured that the men who fell them will belong to a nation worthy of the task.

In checking undesirable immigration it must be decided what constitutes an undesirable, and the following definition is put forward for consideration: undesirable immigrants are those who will not assimilate with the Canadian people, or whose presence will tend to bring about a deterioration from a political, moral, social or economic point of view.




A Policy of Expansion

In two preceding sections the relations of the colonial governments with the Indians have been set forth. It has been shown that, when under imperial and colonial control, Indian Affairs were administered in the Province of Quebec first, then in Upper and Lower Canada, and lastly in United Canada, in a spirit of generosity and with an increasing desire to deal effectively with the Indian problem. Succeeding what was purely a military rule, a broader policy of advancement had been evolved, and this policy had been accepted by the Canadian authorities when in 1860 they assumed full control of the Indians. The Maritime Provinces had been less attentive to their wards, but had not treated them with indifference. When the British North America Act by the ninety-first section gave the Dominion power to legislate for ‘Indians and lands reserved for the Indians,’ the transition was easy. The Province of Canada had, in working order, a division of the executive dealing with Indian Affairs, and the business of the small Indian bureaux of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were readily absorbed. The department of the secretary of state dealt with Indian matters; the acts passed by Nova Scotia and New Brunswick affecting Indians were repealed; and in 1868 a Dominion act, which consolidated previous acts and summed up the best features of Indian legislation, was placed on the statute book.

The policy thus well established was not changed; it has been only developed and amplified year by year down to the present time. It was found elastic enough to accommodate the problem of handling the native tribes of the Great Lakes, the Prairie Indians and the Indians of British Columbia. Expansion in both the inside and outside services of the department followed upon the extended sphere of action which accompanied the development of the western country, and the changes which necessarily took place in the executive will be dealt with separately.

The two main streams in the record of Indian administration under federal rule are: first, the treaties with the western Indians for their lands and, arising partly from the obligations of those treaties, the consequent attempt to render them self-supporting; secondly, the development of the policy of Indian education, which, from its beginnings amongst the Indians of Ontario and Quebec, has been extended and amplified so as to embrace the majority of the Indians of the Dominion.

The North-West

The necessity which existed for an adjustment of Indian claims in the West was forced upon the attention of the government by unrest among the Indians of Manitoba during the half-breed disturbance of 1870 and afterwards. The Indians had ceded portions of this province by treaty to the Earl of Selkirk in 1811, but they had begun to doubt the validity of that treaty, and when settlers began to take possession of their lands they resented the fancied encroachment, sometimes by force.

In 1871 Wemyss M. Simpson was appointed a commissioner to negotiate a treaty, and he issued a proclamation to the Indians calling upon them to confer with him in July and August. After overcoming the extravagant demand that two-thirds of the province should be given to the Indians as a reserve, the commissioner found no difficulty in obtaining the acceptance of the terms which he offered, and the treaty was signed on August 3, 1871. The territory ceded by the Indians comprised a large portion of Southern Manitoba. The considerations accepted by the Indians were reserves, annuities, schools and other minor benefits. These will not be detailed here. The obligations imposed upon the government by the ten treaties with the Indians which have been made since Confederation will be dealt with together, as only slight variations occur in their terms. Nearly the whole of the remaining portion of the province was ceded under like terms on August 21, 1871. In relation to these first two treaties difficulties arose. The Indians claimed that certain verbal promises, involving better terms, had been made to them. In 1875, to quiet these claims, the individual annuity was increased from three to five dollars per annum.

The next undertaking that confronted the government was the extinguishment of the Indian title in the Lake of the Woods district to a vast tract which separated the territory of the Robinson Lake Superior Treaty from that lately acquired in Manitoba. Preliminary negotiations had been carried on in 1871 by Simpson and his associate commissioners, S. J. Dawson and R. J. N. Pither, but, save the acceptance of a money payment if the Indians would permit of the construction of a road between Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods, known as the Dawson route, no advance was made until the appointment in 1873 of the Hon. Alexander Morris, lieutenant-governor of Manitoba and the North-West Territories, J. A. N. Provencher and S. J. Dawson, as commissioners to negotiate a conclusive agreement. The resulting treaty was an important one; it secured the right of way of the Canadian Pacific Railway and freed a large tract of agricultural and mineral land from the overshadowing Indian title. The mineral wealth of the district was known to the Indians, one of whom said that ‘the sound of the rustling of the gold is under my feet where I stand.’ There was, therefore, much discussion, and there were not a few difficulties to overcome, but the treaty was signed on October 3, 1873. The words of the chief Indian speaker which concluded the conference were memorable.

Now you see me stand before you all; what has been done here to-day has been done openly before the Great Spirit and before the Nation, and I hope I may never hear any one say that this treaty has been done secretly; and now in closing this council, I take off my glove, and in giving you my hand I deliver over my birthright and lands; and in taking your hand I hold fast all the promises you have made, and I hope they will last as long as the sun rises and the water flows, as you have said.

At this time the western boundary of Ontario was in dispute, but in granting the reserves the Dominion doubtless thought it was conveying its own domain. However, when the boundary dispute had been settled, the Province of Ontario was found to possess, with a paltry exception, the whole territory ceded by the treaty. The Dominion thereupon made claim from the province for the expenditure under the treaty and for the cost of its future administration, as the province had benefited chiefly by the conclusion of the treaty, receiving the lands free of the Indian title. After weary delays the case was decided in 1910 by the Privy Council in favour of the province. The question was decided on points of law, and the Lords of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council found that there was not sufficient ground for saying that the Dominion government in advising the treaty did so as agent for the province; that ‘they acted with a view to great national interests, in pursuance of powers derived from the Act of 1867, without the consent of the Province and in the belief that the lands were not within that Province. They neither had, nor thought they required, nor purported to act upon, any authority from the Provincial Government.’ The reserves allotted by the Dominion under this treaty have not yet been confirmed by the province, but in view of the unforeseen legal complications the words of the Indian chief should, and no doubt will, fix the spirit in which the uncertainties will be cleared away.

The determination of the government to continue negotiations with the Indians until all the western territory should be free of Indian claims led to the signing of four other successive treaties in the years 1874, 1875, 1876 and 1877. In the first-mentioned year the Hon. Alexander Morris, associated with the Hon. David Laird, then minister of the Interior, and the Hon. W. J. Christie, met the Crees and Saulteaux of the plains at Fort Qu’Appelle. The dealings were rendered difficult and almost dangerous owing to the old feuds between these nations, but the firmness and fairness of the negotiators triumphed over all opposition, and the treaty which conveyed to the crown a large part of the present Province of Saskatchewan was signed on September 15, 1874.

In September of the next year Morris, whose fellow-commissioner was the Hon. James McKay, met the Indians of Lake Winnipeg and obtained from them a cession of a vast tract of country surrounding the lake. In the years 1908, 1909 and 1910 the limits of this treaty were extended northward as far as the 60th parallel of latitude, to comprise all the territory between the Province of Saskatchewan and the shores of Hudson Bay. The concession by the Indians included the right of way of the proposed Hudson Bay Railway and its terminal. In the late summer and autumn of 1876 Morris, McKay and Christie concluded a treaty with the Indians whose territory lay in what is now the northerly parts of the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. This treaty was signed at Fort Pitt on August 23, and at Fort Carlton in the month of September, 1876, and an important adhesion to it was made in 1888.

In 1877, on September 22, the Hon. David Laird, lieutenant-governor and Indian superintendent of the North-West Territories, and James F. McLeod, commissioner of the North-West Mounted Police, entered into a treaty with the Stoneys, Bloods, Peigans and Blackfeet at the Blackfoot crossing of the Bow River. After this, treaty-making activities ceased for some years. An enormous stretch of country from Lake Superior to the Rocky Mountains had been freed of the Indian title, to the content of both parties to the agreements. Much of the success of these negotiations was due to the personality of the Hon. Alexander Morris, whose sympathy for the Indians won their respect and confidence. The Hon. David Laird was also a power in council, and the high integrity and absolute justice of these men has placed their names high in the roll of pioneer western administrators.

In 1899 the attention which had been directed to the valley of the Peace River led to the extinguishment of the Indian title over a tract of 342,700 square miles. A joint commission to consider the Indian and half-breed claims left Edmonton in the summer of 1899 and returned successful in the following year. The Indian commissioners were the Hon. David Laird, J. H. Ross and J. A. J. McKenna.

In 1905 and 1906 an important treaty, to which the Province of Ontario was a party by consent, was concluded with the Indians of the Albany River and James Bay and the interior posts north of the watershed of Lakes Superior and Huron. The writer was one of two commissioners representing the Dominion, his associate being Samuel Stewart of the department of Indian Affairs. D. G. McMartin was the commissioner representing the Province of Ontario. In 1906 the last of the ten treaties negotiated since 1871 was made by J. A. J. McKenna with the Crees and Chipewyans of the northern part of the Province of Saskatchewan.

The only land to which the Indians have not ceded their title to the crown is situated in the far northern parts of Canada, and it is doubtful whether it will at any time in the future be necessary to extinguish the Indian title over these territories. The land conditions in the Province of British Columbia and in the Yukon will be referred to later.

The texts of the treaties dealt with are alike in all essential particulars. The Indians, on their part, promise to obey and abide by the laws of the country, and to maintain peace and good order between themselves and the king’s subjects and all other tribes of Indians, and to observe the conditions of the treaties. The promises on the part of the crown are more definite: special reserves are to be set apart of the area of one square mile to each family of five. This provision appears in each of the treaties, and in only one of these (Treaty No. 8) is there a stipulation that land may be taken in severalty. The next condition of importance is the payment of annuities: an annual payment of $5 is to be made to each Indian, man, woman and child, with an additional payment of $20 to each chief and $10 to each councillor or headman. Schools are to be established, annual grants are to be made to provide for the purchase of ammunition, twine and nets. Agricultural implements and tools are to be furnished at a certain ratio to the population once for all. These payments and obligations devolve upon the Dominion government, with the exception of the payment of annuities under Treaty No. 9, for which the Province of Ontario is responsible.

There has been only one breach in the mutual regard with which the treaties have been observed; that occurred in the half-breed Rebellion of 1885, in which several of the Indian bands of Treaty No. 6 in the northern portions of Alberta and Saskatchewan were involved. Influenced by the half-breeds, with whom they were closely connected by ties of blood and association, they took to the war-path. The first message they had received from the rebels had failed to induce them to forget their allegiance to the crown, but, after the engagement at Duck Lake, which was exaggerated in all the reports until it seemed a signal victory for the half-breeds, certain of the bands were allured, by the promise of plunder, to join the factious party. These Indians for the most part belonged to bands that had not settled on their reserves, but had continued to wander about the country, hunting and trapping and leading the aboriginal life. The most revolting of the atrocities which followed the first overt acts were perpetrated by such Indians—by Big Bear’s band, for example. This band ruthlessly massacred two Roman Catholic priests, the Indian agent, the farming instructor and several other white people at Frog Lake. The change from apparent friendliness to deadly enmity was sudden. The last reports which had been received from all points before the outbreak spoke of the contented state of the Indians. They had small cause for rebellion; owing to the failure of their crops a large supply of provisions had been sent to the districts which afterwards became disaffected, and the Indians had before them no fear of starvation.

In the Battleford district, to the desire for immediate plunder was added the fear caused by half-breed reports that troops were on the way north who would massacre the Indians or enlist them as soldiers. This led to the sacking of the town of Battleford, the murder of the Indian farming instructor at Eagle Hills and the looting of settlers’ homes at other points near Edmonton. When Battleford became the refuge of the settlers of the district, it was invested by the Indians for weeks, and was only relieved by the arrival of the Canadian troops. At the battle of Cut Knife Creek, Poundmaker, who was one of the signatories of Treaty No. 6, mustered three hundred and fifty warriors. But even in the disaffected districts many of the chiefs were able to control their followers and maintain their loyalty. A roll of honour might be written with such names as Pakan, Mistawasis, Ahtahkakoop, Moosomin, John and James Smith, Blue Quill and Sharphead. The Indians of Southern Saskatchewan and Alberta, although they were approached by runners, maintained a strict neutrality. When the disturbances were over the rebellious Indians were for a time deprived of all treaty rights; payment of annuities ceased, and while they were not allowed to suffer, and continued to enjoy their reserve lands, they were treated with marks of disfavour. The moving spirits in the foul murders were tried and executed, and portions of the loot were recovered. Gradually the treaty obligations were resumed, until at the present time the obligations on both sides are in full force in the districts that were the scene of the rebellion.

As may be surmised from the record of past Indian administration, the government was always anxious to fulfil the obligations which were laid upon it by these treaties. In every point, and adhering closely to the letter of the compact, the government has discharged to the present every promise which was made to the Indians. It has discharged them in a spirit of generosity, rather with reference to the policy of advancement which was long ago inaugurated in Upper Canada than in a niggardly spirit as if the treaty stipulations were to be weighed with exactitude.

The quiet fulfilment of these manifold promises might have gone on undisturbed had it not been for the calamity which overtook the Indians of the plains in the disappearance of the buffalo. For years these animals had been carelessly butchered by Indians and whites alike for the sake of their hides, and the plains were covered with the bleached bones lying where the carcasses had rotted in the sun. In 1878 and 1879 the remainder of the herds, once fabulous in numbers, failed to drift into Canadian territory. The Blackfeet blamed the American Sioux for preventing them from crossing the line, but extensive prairie fires which ran from Wood Mountain to the Rockies effectively accomplished what hostile Indians could hardly have designed and carried out. Some of the Canadian Indians crossed the line and followed the decreasing herds, but in 1879 the majority of the Indians in the North-West Territories were thrown upon the government for support. The sudden emergency was vigorously met; supplies of flour and beef were made available at the different posts, and comparatively few lives were lost by actual starvation. But there was much suffering. Edgar Dewdney, who had been appointed Indian commissioner for Manitoba and the North-West Territories in May 1879, reported conditions at the Blackfoot Crossing in July 1879 as follows:

On arriving there I found about 1300 Indians in a very destitute condition, and many on the verge of starvation. Young men who were known to be stout and hearty fellows some months ago were quite emaciated and so weak they could hardly work; the old people and widows, who with their children live on the charity of the younger and more prosperous, had nothing, and many a pitiable tale was told of the misery they had endured.

The system of rationing which thus began in a time of dire necessity, and which embraced the whole native population dependent upon the buffalo, has been continued to the present day. Each year has seen a diminution of the number of Indians rationed, until now some bands are independent of the government food supply. In no band are the whole of the members still fed gratuitously.

This is the result—and, upon the whole, the remarkable result—of instructing the Indians in farming and stock-raising. The policy was adopted when it became evident that the Indians must depend upon some food supply more certain than the buffalo. In the autumn of 1879 seventeen instructors were established at different reserves in the territories; implements, tools and seed were supplied, and the business was begun of teaching agriculture to the Indians, whose hatred of work is proverbial. The most sanguine forecasts were made as to the results. The Indian commissioner reported in 1880: ‘In another year I think a few instructors might be dispensed with in some districts where the Indian reserves are in good working order, and they can be placed in a new reserve where the Indians are not so far advanced.’

It is quite within the mark to say that no instructors have been dispensed with. The task undertaken by the government was heavy, and even now the staff must be maintained. The expense, too, has been great, but not so great as the cost of food would have been; and the outcome of the farming policy, plus the result of education, has been to place the Indians of the West within measurable distance of the desired goal—self-support. Upon this question it will be illuminating to contrast the crops of the Indians harvested on a group of reserves in 1885, and also their cattle and buildings, with their present harvests, herds and houses.

South Saskatchewan Inspectorate

YearOatsWheatBarleyHay and other FodderPotatoes, Turnips, Peas, Onions and other RootsHorses, Oxen and CattleHousesStablesWare­houses

From the sale of lands these Indians had, in 1911, funds standing to their credit to the amount of $262,074.86. To this must be added what is still unpaid for the lands which they surrendered. In 1885, on the other hand, they possessed no financial resources whatever. The many activities which brought about this result undoubtedly flowed from the treaties with the Indians of the West, but the policy in its entirety is not made necessary by the treaties. As has been shown, it arose from the spirit which had long animated the government.

Indian agencies have always been among the pioneer posts of civilization in the undeveloped territories. They appeared before all other incoming agencies except the early traders and the missionaries. Agents of the Indian department were frequently the sole representatives of the law in unorganized districts. This pioneer function of the department has lately been once more made evident by the establishment of agencies in the Far North—at Fort Simpson on the Mackenzie River and at Fort Smith on the Slave River. The agents are justices of the peace, mining recorders, forestry officers, issuers of marriage licences, as well as Indian agents. Portable saw-mills form part of their outfits. Cattle, seed and implements have been transported at large cost to these remote points, and millwrights and farmers are employed for their special duty. The experiments in the Far North[1] will be of general interest and utility, apart from their special bearing on the Indian problem in those districts.

A new factor entered into the maintenance question when lands specially reserved for Indians under the treaties became valuable as a tribal asset. These lands, it will be remembered, were set apart in the area of one square mile to every family of five—an allotment far in excess of any quantity which could be used by Indians in purely agricultural operations. The surplus land in many of the reserves has been surrendered for sale and sold at public auction to the highest bidder. A late enactment makes it possible to pay to the Indians at the time of the surrender as much as one-half of the total amount realized. The balance forms part of the Indian Trust Fund; the amount capitalized may be expended for works or services which properly represent capital; the accrued interest at three per cent is either distributed in cash or used for the current needs of the band. As the distribution of cash is not an unmixed benefit to the Indians, the surrenders which provide only for this disposal are not of the best type. More provident arrangements are those which stipulate that the funds shall be spent in agricultural operations, the erection of houses, and other material advantages.

The surrender of a portion of the Blackfoot reserve in Alberta may be analysed as a case in point to show how Indians may be advised to make a prudent use of their estate. On June 18, 1910, 115,000 acres of the Blackfoot reserve were surrendered. The total amount of the sale was not to be less than $1,600,000, or an average of nearly $14 per acre. This amount was to be divided into three funds. The sum of $50,000 was to be set aside for the purpose of purchasing work horses, farm wagons, harness, feed, oats, mowers and rakes, for Indians, to permit them to begin farming. The amount expended for each Indian is to be paid back and credited to the fund within six years, from the proceeds of the sale of his harvest.

The sum of $350,000 was to be expended within five years in the interests of the reserve in general. One hundred and sixty cottages were to be erected and furniture was to be supplied; one hundred stables and two buildings in which to house machinery were also to be built. Two complete agricultural motors, gang ploughs, grain separators and farm machinery were to be purchased. This fund was to be used to pay the cost of boring wells where they were required, or to purchase a well-boring outfit, and also to defray the expenses of seed grain and grass seed, and general repairs to roads, culverts and fences.

The residue from the sale of the land was to be capitalized. The interest accruing from this capital, together with the interest on any deferred payments on surrendered land, was to be used to defray the expenses of operating the agricultural motors and machinery and grain elevators; to meet such general expenses as should be in the interest of the band, and to pay the cost of blankets and food for the aged and infirm, as well as a regular weekly ration to all members of the band. This ration was set at seven pounds of meat and five pounds of flour weekly, and one pound of tea monthly, for each member. In this surrender, as will be observed, no cash is to be distributed to the Indians, and the whole expenditure is defined and controlled.

[1] Fort Simpson is in latitude 61° 50´ N. Fort Smith in latitude 60° N.

Eastern Canada

Attention has been drawn away from the Indians of the older provinces because the centre of interest and expenditure has for some years been in the West. The necessities of the case made this inevitable, and, moreover, dealing with a free new country with a people as yet unaware of civilization lent attractiveness to even the driest details of administration. But the progress of the Indians of Ontario and Quebec has been steady since Confederation, and their future is well assured. These provinces present some sharp contrasts in Indian life, and within their boundaries we find both the most highly civilized of Canadian Indians, and also many bands who still subsist by the primitive means of the hunt and the fur trade.

In Ontario one band has fully worked out its problem and become merged in the white population. The Wyandottes of Anderdon, a band of Huron stock, were enfranchised in 1881. By education and intermarriage they had become civilized. One of their members had represented the county of Lambton in the provincial parliament. They were self-supporting, and the experiment of enfranchising the whole band was not in any way hazardous. A few other bands in both provinces are ripe for like treatment, but it is not the present policy of the government to force Indians into full citizenship. Each year sees a larger number engaged as labourers off the reserves, as lumbermen, teamsters, farm-hands, and also as clerks in stores, book-keepers, and in employment of a like nature. When by amendment of the Indian Act it has become possible to enfranchise Indians without unnecessary and tedious formality, numbers of those who now subsist apart from the reserves will embrace full citizenship.

The nomadic tendency of the Indians of the Maritime Provinces has operated to prevent their steady improvement. Many of them leave their reserves in the summer to wander about selling their baskets and other wares, and under these circumstances the cultivation of gardens or farms is impossible. The reserves in these provinces consist of excellent land, and during the past few years an effort has been made to assist the Indians with their small farms and gardens and to give them instruction in the methods of planting and of taking care of their crops. In comparison with the lavish expenditure of money and energy on the Indians of the West this attempt has been feeble, and the government can fairly be charged with some indifference to the Micmac Indians.

British Columbia

The Indians whose territory lies west of the Rocky Mountains between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, in the Province of British Columbia, are in many respects the most interesting natives in Canada. They belong to six linguistic stocks: Tsimshean, Kwatkinte-Nootka, Haida, Kootenay, Dene and Salish, and these stocks are again divided into many groups.

Space cannot be given to anthropological details; the pages to be devoted to the whole period now under review might readily be filled with a study of these interesting people. It would be unfair to bring into too great prominence their outstanding merits, as but little attention has been given to similar characteristics of the Algonquin and Iroquois stocks. It may briefly be said, however, that they excel in the domestic arts, and that their canoes, utensils, basketry and weapons have an artistic as well as a utilitarian value. They respond quickly to training and education, and speedily adopt the customs of civilization.

In the Far West there had been no well-defined Indian policy before the creation of the colony of British Columbia. The early traders and the Hudson’s Bay Company dealt with the Indians as opportunists. They met from day to day any difficulties that arose, and overcame by immediate methods the menace of war or sudden adverse turns of the trade. The Hudson’s Bay Company was nowhere stronger, better organized, or commanded by more virile officers than on the Pacific coast and in the mountain interior, and there, as elsewhere, the company treated the Indians with a measure of fairness nicely calculated to meet its own special interests. It had no motive beyond that of getting the highest profits, and no rule which could not be reversed when the jealousies of the trade demanded such reversal. It is useless, therefore, to search for any broad view of the Indian question during the régime of the Hudson’s Bay Company. While the company held Vancouver Island under the charter of 1849, ten reserves were set apart on the island and conveyed to the Indians in 1850-51-52. In 1858, however, when British Columbia was established as a crown colony, we find coming into the Indian question the views of the British government. When James Douglas (afterwards Sir James) received his instructions as governor of this colony, he was advised to consider the best and most humane means of dealing with the native Indians, and that it should be an invariable condition, in all bargains or treaties with the natives for the cession of land possessed by them, that subsistence should be supplied to them in some other form.

The policy adopted in British Columbia was in some respects unfortunate. Many present-day complications would have been avoided if definite cessions of territory had been arranged after the model of the treaties and surrenders which had been established by usage in Canada. But it must be admitted that in British Columbia geographical and ethnological conditions were obstructions to cessions of large districts, and Governor Douglas simply went on making small land grants to the Indians out of their domain without recognizing or otherwise compensating them for their title to that domain. Without a definite bargain between the crown and the Indians, the Indians, as time goes on, become the prey to their own desire for gain. Education and experience show them that in the public lands they have a vast and rich estate which their ancestors never alienated; often they become the victims of designing persons who heighten these feelings and are quick to seize upon the legal points and press them. We shall see how this failure to obtain cession of territory in British Columbia is now causing administrative difficulties.

Although the Indian title was not recognized as worthy to be the subject of treaty between contracting parties, the motives which governed the setting apart of the reserves were commendable. Permanent village sites, fishing stations and burial grounds, cultivated lands and all the favourite resorts of the tribes (to use the terms of Sir James Douglas) were secured to them, and they were legally authorized to acquire property in land either by direct purchase or by the operation of the pre-emption laws of the colony on the same terms as the colonists.

When British Columbia entered Confederation the documents did not fail to mention the Indians. The imperial order-in-council of May 16, 1871, clause 13, provided that

the charge of the Indians and the trusteeship and management of the land reserved for their use and benefit shall be assumed by the Dominion Government, and a policy as liberal as that hitherto pursued by the British Columbia Government shall be continued by the Dominion Government after the union. To carry out such policy, tracts of land of such extent as it has hitherto been the practice of the British Columbia Government to appropriate for that purpose, shall from time to time be conveyed by the Local Government to the Dominion Government in trust for the use and benefit of the Indians on application of the Dominion Government; and in the case of disagreement between the two Governments respecting the quantity of such tracts of land to be so granted the matter shall be referred to the decision of the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

By clause 10 of the address embodied in the schedule, section 91 of the British North America Act, 1867, which assigned to the exclusive legislative authority of the parliament of Canada ‘Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians,’ became applicable as between the Dominion and British Columbia.

From the painting by Edmund Morris

Owing to the vagueness of such general terms, before many years had passed the difficulties surrounding administration became apparent. It was hard to measure present by past liberality, and to limit and parcel the obligations upon the Dominion by the previous action of the provincial government. The land allotments were especially difficult, and after much discussion were finally regulated by joint action of both governments in 1875. The insertion of a clause in the joint order-in-council admitting a reversionary interest of the province in lands set apart as Indian reserves has been productive of administrative difficulties, as the consent of the province must be sought and obtained before the Dominion can grant title to any Indian lands. The Indian estate cannot, therefore, be managed freely, and the Indians who are intelligent and well aware of the strength of their claims have a double grievance—the alienation of a large and valuable province without compensation except reserves, and the denial of the full enjoyment of these reserves.

These matters are now engaging the attention of the Dominion and provincial governments, and a solution of the problem may be arrived at before long.

Although the Dominion government had no treaty obligations to fulfil, the scale of Indian support has been a fairly liberal one, and in furnishing free medical attendance, in the establishment of hospitals, in the encouragement of agriculture and, even more largely, in the provision of education, federal appropriations have been employed. The enormous expense for food which has been incurred on the plains owing to the disappearance of the buffalo, and the natural hatred of the plains Indian for labour, were, in British Columbia, entirely absent, and what has there been spent is not, in the main, for subsistence for the Indian, but for management and for Indian advancement.

The excellent physique of the Indians of this province and their willingness to work have made them a valuable asset in the labour market. In the salmon canneries, hop-fields and fruit farms they are constantly engaged in congenial employment, and even in the more arduous toil of the packer, miner, or navvy their labour is in demand. Despite this intermingling with the white people, and despite the efforts of missionaries and educators, many of the degrading native customs still exist. The hold of the ‘pot latch’ and other wasteful feasts is, however, gradually weakening. Any one who desires to understand the social progress of which these Indians are capable, and also the strength of their attachment to an adopted religion, should study the history of the Metlakatla settlement under the Rev. George Duncan.

The Yukon

The relations of the government with the Indians of the Yukon have not been marked by any departure from established policy. No formal treaty has been made with them for the cession of their aboriginal title, but they have not been neglected. The Indian population is estimated at 3500, and no doubt the small numbers, compared with the vast extent of the territory which they might be said to occupy, would deter the government from acquiring the overshadowing Indian title. The mineral wealth of the territory is its sole asset, and is one peculiarly inaccessible to Indians, and this fact would support the position of the crown. But the protecting arm of the government is extended to the Indians of the Yukon; Canadian legislation on behalf of the Indians applies to them, and the Dominion Exchequer has provided money for their benefit since the first years of the mining activities.

The commissioner for the Yukon Territory is charged with the superintendency of Indian Affairs and is authorized to expend the funds which parliament appropriates for the Indians. These consist of grants for food and supplies to relieve distress, and for medical attendance and medicines. The Church of England missionaries have taken an interest in educational and evangelical work amongst the Indians, conducting several schools, towards the maintenance of which parliamentary grants are made. The most important institution is a boarding school near Carcross; the building lately erected by the government will accommodate thirty pupils.

The Sioux

The Sioux are not indigenous to Canada, but, as refugees from the United States, they forced themselves upon the attention of the Dominion government. The first bands poured in after the notorious massacre in Minnesota in 1862. They settled in Manitoba, and for a time their presence was a source of anxiety to the authorities. But they were treated with fairness, their destitution was relieved, and when settlers came into the country the men were found useful as labourers. They were granted reserves, and, although no treaty obligations existed, they have been assisted with agricultural implements, and their children have been educated in schools provided by the government. A progressive band, part of Sitting Bull’s followers, who rushed into the country after the battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, is established in the Qu’Appelle valley. The Sioux, notwithstanding the violent causes of their migration, have been law-abiding and peaceable since coming into Canada, and have received but little aid in comparison with the lavish outlay upon the resident Indians. The Sioux stock is independent and virile, and the representatives of the stock in Canada are self-supporting.

The Eskimos

It is only within the last few years that the government of Canada has acknowledged any responsibility for the Eskimos. These savages, existing in the Far North, and only coming into contact with whalers, or, more infrequently, with explorers, were remote from the centre of interest. Although for many years missionaries have been active among them, they have not advanced the claims of the Eskimos to humane consideration. The extension northward of the influence of the Dominion, and the residence of a commissioner in the country to which the Eskimo regions appertain, have brought these people under the direct purview of the government. From the nature of their environment and their manner of life it will be somewhat difficult to form or carry out a policy tending to the amelioration of their present condition, which is in many ways deplorable. But no aborigines are more worthy of attention than the Eskimos; they are self-reliant to a high degree, and have pronounced qualities both of heart and intellect. Wherever they have been degraded morally and physically, and these cases are infrequent, the result has arisen not from any inherent depravity; and their destitution most frequently arises from the precarious nature of their food supply and not from laziness or improvidence.

The government gives a small appropriation for relief of distress amongst them, and it has been expended in places where the most southerly representatives of the race come into contact with Canada’s northern outposts, at Fort Churchill and Charlton Island. At Blacklead Island and Ashe Inlet, also, assistance has been given through the Church of England missionaries, but as yet nothing has been expended at Herschel Island or along the North-West Passage.

So far only the eleemosynary function of government has been used in behalf of the Eskimos, but there is no reason why in course of time elementary education should not be introduced among them, as they show a desire to acquire knowledge and to profit by it.


Indian Education

During the period under review a great increase has occurred in the educational facilities afforded the Indians, and the policy of the department has been extended to meet the needs of the western provinces and to carry out the obligations imposed by the various treaties, to which reference has been made. Before Confederation no financial assistance was given by the legislatures to Indian schools. The Province of Canada administered a fund, known as the Indian School Fund, which was formed from contributions made by certain bands in Upper Canada. The federal government first recognized the necessity of assisting the fund in 1875-76, and the first grant for the purpose was $2000. This enabled the department to establish schools on various reserves in the Maritime Provinces, as well as in Ontario and Quebec, and the trust fund of the Indian bands also began to be used as the interest of the Indians themselves in education increased. In 1874-75 the Dominion spent $2474 on Indian schools from the general appropriation. The treaties which had been made with the Indians between 1871 and 1879 provided for the establishment of schools, and in 1879, after Sir John A. Macdonald was returned to power, the question almost immediately received the attention of his government. Nicholas Flood Davin was appointed to report on the system of Indian education adopted by the United States. He was also to visit the North-West Territories and report on the applicability of that system to the conditions in the territories. He found, to quote his own words,

that there is now barely time to inaugurate a system of education by means of which the native population of the North-West Territories shall be gradually prepared to meet the necessities of the not-distant future; to welcome and facilitate, it may be hoped, the settlement of the country, and to render its government easy and not expensive. A large statesmanlike policy, with bearings on immediate and remote issues, cannot be entered on too earnestly or too soon.

Following generally the advice given by this report, the first industrial school was established at Battleford in the year 1883, and in the following year two schools were established, one at Qu’Appelle and the other at High River. In the establishment of these new schools the department adopted the principles which had long governed Indian education in the older provinces. The control of the schools by the churches was recognized, and after an interval, during which the whole of the expenses of the institutions were met by the government, the system of the per capita grant, so long in vogue in the east, was adopted as tending to economy. In the year 1887 the then deputy superintendent-general inaugurated a policy of expansion which resulted in a very large increase in the expenditure. In 1878-79 the whole Indian school appropriation for Canada was $16,000. In 1888-89 the expenditure was $172,980.93. For the year 1903-4 the expenditure was $393,221.48. At the present time (1912) it is almost double the last figure. The expenditure for the last fiscal year, 1910-11, was $539,145.53, and the establishment was as follows:

Class of School
Nova Scotia11......11
New Brunswick10......10
Prince Edward Island1......1
British Columbia468862
North-West Territories23...5

The following statement shows the religious denominations under whose auspices the various schools are conducted, and the number conducted by each in the several provinces, during the fiscal year 1910-11:

ProvinceUn­denomi­nationalRoman CatholicChurch of EnglandMethod­distPresby­terianSalva­tion Army
Nova Scotia...11............
New Brunswick...10............
Prince Edward Island...1............
British Columbia220181732
North-West Territories...23.........

It cannot be gainsaid that in the early days of school administration in the territories, while the problem was still a new one, the system was open to criticism. Insufficient care was exercised in the admission of children to the schools. The well-known predisposition of Indians to tuberculosis resulted in a very large percentage of deaths among the pupils. They were housed in buildings not carefully designed for school purposes, and these buildings became infected and dangerous to the inmates. It is quite within the mark to say that fifty per cent of the children who passed through these schools did not live to benefit from the education which they had received therein.

Again, for a long time no attention was paid to a question of the very first importance: what was to become of the pupils who returned to the reserves? The danger was recognized that they might lapse to the level of reserve life as soon as they came into contact with their parents. Little, however, was done to grapple with the difficulty. In fact, this relapse actually happened in a large percentage of cases, and most promising pupils were found to have retrograded and to have become leaders in the pagan life of the reserves, instead of contributing to the improvement of their surroundings.

For many years the industrial schools gave practical instruction in manual trades, in printing, shoemaking and carpentry; but the results were discouraging, and the teaching of these trades, except elementary carpentry, has been almost wholly abandoned. As the years have gone by the purpose of Indian education has become clearer, and the best means to be employed to reach the desired end are becoming apparent. Speaking in the widest terms, it is now recognized that the provision of education for the Indian means an attempt to develop the great natural intelligence of the race and to fit the Indian for civilized life in his own environment. It includes not only a school education, but also instruction in the means of gaining a livelihood from the soil or as a member of an industrial or mercantile community, and the substitution of Christian ideals of conduct and morals for aboriginal conceptions of both. To this end the curriculum in residential schools has been simplified, and the practical instruction given is such as may be immediately of use to the pupil when he returns to the reserve after leaving school. At that moment he is assisted by a grant of cattle or horses, implements, tools and building material, and he receives special advice and supervision from the agent or farming instructor. Marriages are arranged between former pupils, and the young wives are given domestic articles as a dower. It is sought by this method to bridge over the dangerous period of renewed contact with the reserve. Strict medical supervision checks the evils which resulted from the admission of tuberculous children into the schools. The contract under which the boarding schools are now conducted gives the department control, and a higher standard is established for buildings and for division of the work.

A beginning has been made in the important work of developing and improving the day schools. In many places these schools are quite sufficient to meet the educational needs of the Indians, and all that is required is to bring the children within the circle of their influence. But the Indian day school of the lowest type is a burden to the teacher and an inexplicable punishment to the scholar, almost useless in its result. The problem is to substitute for such a school an institution where brightness and active interest take the place of indifference and a sense of defeat.

From the statue by A. Phimister Proctor

Even white children do not find school life more attractive than days of liberty without intellectual effort, and the Indian children are no exception to the rule. In the case of white children school life is made attractive by a variety of means, and behind everything else is the authority of the parent. These pleasant features of school life, its rivalry and its rewards, have been heretofore most frequently lacking in the Indian schools. Moreover, the apathy, if not the active hostility, of the parent must be reckoned with. The Indian child has to study in a foreign language; he leaves a home where an Indian language is spoken and comes to a schoolroom where English is spoken. His case can only be compared with that of an English child who pursues his studies in a German or French school. Again, the severe deterrent of poverty is often present; some children have no proper clothing to wear during the winter, and the provision of any food for a luncheon at the noon hour is neglected of sheer necessity.

The improvements now sought for are to offer such inducements for a full and regular attendance as will overcome these obstacles to success. In the first place, it is necessary to engage and retain the services of teachers qualified for the special work; then, to give small rewards for regular attendance and progress, to issue footwear and clothing to poor deserving pupils, to supply a plain warm meal in the middle of the day, to vary the exercises by games and simple calisthenics. These are the best means to banish the idle teacher and the empty schoolroom, and they are being gradually introduced wherever they are needed. Not a few of the women teachers have taken up instruction in plain sewing, knitting, mending and cooking, with beneficial result. The teaching of elementary agriculture is also prosecuted in favourable localities. At present the number enrolled in schools of all classes is 11,190, the average attendance is 6763, and the percentage of attendance is 60·44.

The Present Legal Position of the Indians

As the relations of the government with the Indians are largely influenced by the laws which have been passed from time to time affecting them or their estate, it is necessary to record the present legal position of the Indians, which is in many respects peculiar.

So far as the general life of the country is concerned, an Indian is almost as free as any other person. He can engage in business, he can own property anywhere, and, subject to certain restrictions which will be mentioned hereafter, he can exercise the franchise. He can also devise his property except the lands reserved for himself and his tribe, and he can rise to any social position in the community to which his efforts and talents may entitle him. When, however, it comes to his life upon the reserve, as a member of an Indian band or community, the case is very different. There he is subject to certain legal disabilities and restrictions under which he has been placed from time to time by act of parliament. In the first and second divisions of this history the early acts of the legislature have been noted. The present Indian Act is an outgrowth from these early statutes. It was revised in 1886, and since that date some additions and amendments have been made. The old provisions as to the alienation of reserved property still exist, as no lands can be surrendered and sold without the consent of the Indians and the approval of the government. In 1911 an important amendment was made which affects this power of alienation. Under this amendment it is possible, by following certain procedure, to alienate a reserve without the consent of the Indians. The country has developed rapidly; and it has been found that certain reserves, formerly distant from incorporated towns and cities, are now contiguous to the municipal limits. The proximity of Indian lands with a tenure so peculiar does not make for the interests either of the public or of the Indians themselves. An amendment to the Indian Act gives the governor in council power to refer to the ‘Judge of the Exchequer Court of Canada, for inquiry and report, the question as to whether it is expedient, having regard to the interest of the public and the Indians of the Band, that the Indians should be removed from the reserve or any part of it.’ Following the report of the judge, and with certain safeguards, the Indians may be removed and placed elsewhere. It will be perceived that, however necessary it may be to deal with special cases, this is an important departure from the old British usage.

In order to preserve the special lands from encroachment the statute provides strict measures to prevent trespass on either lands or timber. Lands within the reserves cannot be taxed. Although the courts are open to Indians, no person is allowed to take any security, lien, or charge upon real or personal property on the reserve; and the barter and exchange of presents given to Indians or of property acquired by annuities granted to them is prohibited.

Even the reserve lands cannot lawfully be held by an Indian unless he has been located by the council of the band with the approval of the superintendent-general. The devise of property is carefully regulated by the act. The superintendent-general must approve of each will, and in case of intestacy the property devolves on the next-of-kin. He also has power to appoint guardians of minors and their property, and is the sole judge of the persons entitled to the property of the deceased Indian. All these provisions are necessary to protect the Indian property and prevent its being dissipated by will or gift to persons who have no legal standing as Indians.

The statutory provisions with reference to the sale of intoxicating liquors have become more strict. The severest penalty for infractions of the law is six months in gaol with or without hard labour, and the highest fine that can be imposed is $300. The irregularities arising from certain aboriginal dances or ceremonies, where human or animal bodies are mutilated, form an indictable offence punishable by an imprisonment of not less than two months or more than six months.

Under certain somewhat oppressive regulations an Indian may become enfranchised. He then ceases in all respects to be an Indian. This process of enfranchisement requires a preliminary probationary period of three years before he can receive a patent for his lands within the reserve, and another period of three years before he can receive a share of the capital funds of his band. As the maintenance of the reserve intact is the basic principle of the Indian administration, it is clear that great care must be used in enfranchising Indians and allowing them to hold land in fee-simple.

The Indian franchise for the Dominion elections is established by the Franchise Act of 1898, which places the Indians on the same footing as white persons; that is, they come under the laws established by the provinces in which they reside for the conduct of provincial elections. In the western provinces and in the Province of New Brunswick the Indians are specially deprived of the right to vote. In the remaining provinces they may vote if they have the proper qualifications. The Indian Act provides for a measure of municipal government of the bands by the chiefs and councillors. The section of the act known as the Indian Advancement Act may be applied to any band of Indians declared by the governor in council to be fit subjects for this application. It gives greater power to the council of the band and further extends the municipal system.


After Confederation Indian Affairs were attached to the department of the secretary of state. The secretaries of state, who were also superintendents-general of Indian Affairs, were:

H. L. Langevin, July 1, 1867, to December 7, 1869.

Joseph Howe, December 8, 1869, to May 6, 1873.

T. N. Gibbs, June 14, 1873, to June 30, 1873.

The department of the Interior was created by 36 Vict. cap. 24; and from July 1, 1873, the Indian branch was attached to that department, except during the period between October 17, 1878, and August 4, 1885, when Indian Affairs were administered by the Right Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald, president of the Privy Council, as superintendent-general. With this exception the successive ministers of the Interior were superintendents-general of Indian Affairs. The department of Indian Affairs was constituted a separate department by 43 Vict. cap. 28, assented to on May 7, 1880. By the fourth clause of the act the minister of the Interior, or the head of any other department appointed for that purpose by the governor-general in council, shall be the superintendent-general of Indian Affairs.

By an order-in-council of March 17, 1862, the office of deputy superintendent-general was revived and William Spragge was appointed to that position. Spragge continued in office until his death on April 16, 1874. His successor, Lawrence Vankoughnet, remained in office until his superannuation on October 10, 1893. He was an officer whose character specially fitted him for his duties. He applied himself, from the most conscientious motives, to the task of advancing the Indians and protecting and developing their estate. He was allowed a greater degree of freedom than any deputy superintendent-general since Confederation. His ideals were high. He took thought for the Indians, and while he had idiosyncrasies and some failings, he was consistently their friend. His successors in office have been: Hayter Reed, October 2, 1893; James A. Smart, July 1, 1897; Frank Pedley, November 21, 1902.

The growth of Indian business west of Lake Superior, which followed the making of the treaties and increased with the settlement of the country, necessitated an expansion of the staff and the creation of many new offices. The enormous North-West Territories, remote from the federal capital, required a separate bureau near the scene of operations, which could deal more effectively with emergent as well as routine matters. The same was true of British Columbia. The first Indian superintendent of British Columbia, Dr I. W. Powell, was appointed in 1872. The first Indian commissioner for the North-West Territories, the Hon. Edgar Dewdney, was appointed in 1879. As railway and telegraph communication gradually brought the most remote points within reach of Ottawa, the utility of these offices ceased; a few years ago they were abolished, and local Indian agents and inspectors are now under direct control of the department.


In concluding this general survey of the relation of the government to the Indians a few words should be devoted to the future of the tribes. The paternal policy of protection and encouragement has been pursued from the earliest times; what is to be the final result? It is clear that we are possessed of facts which enable us to reply to the question with some degree of confidence. To possess ourselves of the key to the answer, it is only necessary to contrast the present condition of any Indian community in Ontario or Quebec with its past condition, and also to endeavour to realize the vicissitudes through which it has struggled. We find that from very wretched beginnings and amid all the dangers surrounding their position many of these bands have progressed until their civil and social life approximates closely to that of their white neighbours. The poorest and most shiftless Indians are not worse off than the paupers who are dependent upon the charity of villages and cities, and those who are at the top of the Indian social scale live with the same degree of assured comfort which is enjoyed by the white workman and small farmer. Above these two classes there is another division within the Indian population, small as yet, but constantly growing—the class of well-educated, enterprising and ambitious Indians who really belong to the life of the nation in no restricted sense.

The degree of general progress which makes it possible thus to divide and classify the Indian population of the older provinces has been developed within less than a century, and in this relatively short time we have arrived within measurable distance of the end. The happiest future for the Indian race is absorption into the general population, and this is the object of the policy of our government. In the Indian communities now under discussion we see the natives advanced more than half-way towards the goal, and the final result will be this complete absorption. The great forces of intermarriage and education will finally overcome the lingering traces of native custom and tradition. It may be some time before reserves disappear and the Indian and his lands cease to be marked and separated. It would be foolish to make this end in itself the final object of the policy. The system of reserved lands has been of incalculable benefit to the Indians, who require secure foothold on the soil, and great caution should be shown in regard to any plans for separating the Indian from his land or for giving him power to alienate his inheritance. There is nothing repugnant to the policy which is being carried out or to the exercise of useful citizenship in the idea of a highly civilized Indian community living upon lands which its members cannot sell.

There is no reason why the Indians of the West, who have been subject to the policy of the government for less than fifty years, and who have made remarkable advances, should not follow the same line of development as the Indians of the old Province of Canada. They have like difficulties to overcome, and the forces which work towards their preservation are similar; they should have the same destiny.


The following statistics, compiled from the latest reports of the department of Indian Affairs (1912), will give some idea of the present numbers and wealth of the Indians of Canada:

Provinces and DistrictsPopulation
British Columbia24,781
Nova Scotia1,969
New Brunswick1,903
Prince Edward Island300
North-West Territories5,262


Davis Straits260
Cumberland Sound330
North shore of Hudson Strait500
South   ”  ”   ”     ”400
North-eastern shore of Hudson Bay500
Western       ”   ”    ”    ”1,360
Arctic coast-line to Herschel Island850
Herschel Island400
       Total native population109,556


ProvinceValue of Implements and VehiclesValue of Live Stock and PoultryValue of General EffectsValue of Household EffectsValue of Real and Personal Property
British Columbia192,924.00666,549.00372,615.00396,010.007,747,276.00
New Brunswick6,550.006,500.008,285.0024,480.00180,751.00
North-West Territories2,880.0020,980.0035,275.0022,990.00376,290.00
Nova Scotia7,014.009,399.004,200.0010,065.00156,999.00
Prince Edward Island780.001,045.00880.002,950.0043,465.00


ProvinceFishing and HuntingWages and other IndustriesRents of LandsTotal Income
British Columbia594,115.00684,069.001,500.001,668,498.00
New Brunswick12,685.0074,100.00...94,537.00
North-West Territories126,350.0034,720.00...179,550.00
Nova Scotia16,190.0083,253.008.00116,252.00
Prince Edward Island1,445.0014,980.00...17,509.00


ProvinceValue of Land in ReservesValue of Public PropertyTotal Value of Private Fencing and BuildingsValue of Farm Products
British Columbia4,387,491.50232,830.001,503,648.00388,814.00
New Brunswick69,251.0022,785.0042,900.007,752.00
North-West Territories201,929.0015,975.0074,261.0018,480.00
Nova Scotia58,172.0037,180.0048,793.0016,801.00
Prince Edward Island19,884.007,800.0010,126.001,534.00

The Indian Trust Fund, which is made up of capitalized annuities, the proceeds of timber and land sales, funds held for special purposes and accrued interest, amounted on March 31, 1911, to $6,592,988.99. Under the provisions of the Indian Act the capital can only be spent with the consent of the Indians and the authority of the governor-general in council for such permanent works as properly represent capital. The accrued interest may be spent for current expenses or for cash per capita distributions to members of the Indian bands.

The moneys granted by parliament out of the consolidated fund for various purposes amounted to $1,592,996.25 for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1911.

THE POST OFFICE, 1867-1912


When the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined themselves together to form the Dominion of Canada the control of the postal system of the newly created Dominion was vested in a postmaster-general, who was a member of the federal government. The deputy postmaster-general of the former Canadian service was made deputy postmaster-general of the new system, and the provincial postmasters-general of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were made post office inspectors in their respective provinces. At the time of Confederation there were 2333 post offices in the former province of Canada, 630 in Nova Scotia and 438 in New Brunswick. The revenues from the three provincial systems were $914,784, $51,714 and $50,769. In none of the three provinces did the revenue suffice to meet the expenses, the deficits being $9536 in Canada, $27,559 in Nova Scotia and $16,037 in New Brunswick.

The first step taken by parliament after Confederation was a thorough-going reduction in the postal charges. The rate on letters circulating in Canada was reduced from five cents per half-ounce to three cents per half-ounce, and there was a considerable reduction in the postage on newspapers. It is interesting, as an illustration of the effect of postage reductions in progressive countries, to note that in 1871, three years after the rates were lowered by forty per cent, the revenue exceeded by $55,000 that of the year 1867-68.

The boundaries of Canada were widened in 1869 by the acquisition of the territories of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and in 1871 by the admission of British Columbia as a province of the Dominion, and the Post Office department had to assume the burden of providing for the postal requirements of these vast stretches of country. In both the Hudson’s Bay territory and British Columbia postal services had been in operation for some years prior to their becoming part of Canada. From early times the Hudson’s Bay Company carried on its trade with London by annual voyages between the Thames and Hudson Bay, and after the amalgamation of the company with the North-West Company of Montreal in 1821, trips were made twice a year between Montreal and Fort Garry by canoes by way of the Ottawa River and the Upper Lakes. In connection with these trips the company maintained a vast system of communications with their distant forts. The couriers travelled by canoe along the Saskatchewan and other northern rivers in summer, and by dog-sleds along the same courses in winter. Thus communication was not only very infrequent, but very slow, and it is told of a factor in one of the remoter forts who received his copies of the Montreal Gazette in two large half-yearly packets, that he confined his daily reading of the newspapers to the copy which was dated twelve months earlier.

In 1853 the isolation of the settlers was much alleviated by the United States government, which established a monthly post between the end of its railway system in the North-West and Pembina on the borders of the Hudson’s Bay territories, sixty-five miles south of Fort Garry. The territorial government placed a courier on the route between Fort Garry and Pembina. As the territories had no means of connection whatever with Canada or any other British possession, they became virtually a dependency of the United States Post Office. From 1853 until 1869 all letters posted in Fort Garry were paid in United States stamps, and, in addition to the stamps, a penny sterling was charged for conveyance to the United States office at Pembina. All letters entering the territories from Pembina were charged a penny to take them to their destination in the territories. At the time the territorial service was taken over by the Post Office inspector on behalf of the Canadian Post Office there were seven post offices. This little system was administered by a postmaster at Fort Garry under the direction of the governor and council of Assiniboia. When the Canadian Post Office took charge of the service it arranged with the United States government for the regular exchange of mails between Fort Garry and Windsor, Ontario.

The earliest mention of postal arrangements for British Columbia is in 1858. In August of that year the colonial secretary represented to the Treasury that owing to the establishment of the colony, and the large immigration movement which was reported to be going on, it was desirable to establish regular communication between it and Great Britain. A proposition was discussed to send the mails for British Columbia to Halifax, to establish a connection between that point and Colon, Panama, and to open a service from Colon to Vancouver Island, but it was rejected on the ground of expense. It was decided finally to send the mails to Colon by the steamer, which ran twice a month to that point, and to ask the services of the United States office to forward them to San Francisco. Tenders were to be invited for a regular service to Vancouver Island. In 1859 the British consul at San Francisco reported that the overland mail between St Louis and San Francisco arrived very regularly in about twenty-four days, and that he had arranged with the postmaster-general of the United States for the transmission of British correspondence for British Columbia by this route. The arrangement was confined to letters, however, as it was necessary to keep down the weight of the mails. The mails for British Columbia were all addressed to the care of the British consul, whose duty it was to forward them to their destination by the best means that offered.

The government of Canada had been giving some attention to the question of the settlement of the plains in the North-West, and the establishment of direct communication between the territories and British Columbia and Canada. Before Canada acquired the territory its government saw with anxiety the thousands of miles of fertile soil held by a few hundred employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which in the interests of the fur trade discouraged settlement. It realized that, with the rush of settlers which was going on into the North-West States, it would be impossible for the company, whose claims were far from indisputable, to prevent the country from falling into its natural destiny of supplying homes for millions. Since the occupation of the country by settlers was inevitable, the concern of the government was that the settlers should be of British stock, and that there should be no question that the country should be under British rule. As matters stood at the time there was little ground for assurance on either point. The only practicable road into the territories lay through the United States, and it seemed probable that the tide of immigration which was fast converting the plains of the North-Western States from hunting grounds of the buffalo into farming homesteads would not spend itself at the invisible boundary, but would continue northward, and that, as the country came under cultivation, the settlers would be compelled to look to the United States for its government. The anxiety of the Canadian government was heightened by a report that gold had been discovered on the Saskatchewan, as it knew that neither the government nor the company could stay the inrush of fortune seekers if the report should prove to be well founded. In 1862, therefore, the Canadian government entered into communication with the Hudson’s Bay Company with a view to constructing a wagon road and telegraph line from the western boundary of Canada to British Columbia. The scheme involved the placing of a steamer line between some point on Lake Huron or Georgian Bay and Fort William, and also the opening of a land route to Fort Garry, which should, however, take advantage as far as possible of the water stretches lying between Lake Superior and Lake Winnipeg. The Canadian government was anxious to establish communication westward as far as the boundary of the Hudson’s Bay territory, and looked to the company as representing British interests in the territories to co-operate in the enterprise. The company was aghast at the proposition. Instead of answering the communication of the Canadian government, it addressed itself to the British government, denouncing the scheme as visionary, and declaring that it had no money for such a purpose. The Canadian government then sent two of its members, L. V. Sicotte and W. P. Howland, to London to interest capitalists in the project, and a company was formed to carry it into execution. The government offered extensive land grants along the line, and asked the British government to join in a guarantee of interest on the outlay, which was estimated at £500,000. The British government declined to associate itself with the Canadian government in the scheme, alleging that it would be of little use to Great Britain until a submarine cable was laid, and that it anticipated that in the establishment of telegraphic communication with the colonies, Great Britain would be required to bear a large proportion of the outlay. Owing to this refusal on the part of Great Britain, and the uncertainty as to the title to the lands in the territories, the Canadian government allowed the scheme to drop, so far as the line beyond the Red River was concerned.

Drawn from life by Arthur Heming

The settlers on the Red River, however, were determined to take advantage of the goodwill of Canada, and they offered to construct a road from Red River eastwards to the Lake of the Woods, if England or Canada would establish a route from Lake Superior to meet their road at the Lake of the Woods. An agreement was soon arrived at, but it was not until 1867 that the work of construction was commenced. The route was completed in 1871, and it was at once made use of for the conveyance of immigrants into the new province. During the first year 604 immigrants passed over this route; but although everything that was possible was done to make travel expeditious and comfortable, the natural difficulties were too great for this route to compete successfully with the road in from Pembina, until the railway was completed along the north shore of Lake Superior.

When British Columbia entered Confederation in 1871 it brought with it a fully developed postal system, which had been in operation since 1864. Prior to that date there had been a simple arrangement for the delivery of letters within the colony which was made by the lieutenant-governor, and which, as he informed the colonial secretary, was maintained entirely by the postage collected. In 1871 there were thirty post offices in the new province. These covered a large extent of territory, principally along the course of the Fraser River. There was a main route which ran from New Westminster to Barkerville, a distance of 478 miles. The mails were carried over this, weekly in summer and fortnightly in winter. From this main route there branched off at Quesnel a route to Omineca, 350 miles in length, over which the mails were carried monthly. On Vancouver Island there were two weekly services—twenty-four miles and thirty-five miles respectively. In addition to these long service mails were exchanged daily between the adjacent offices of Victoria and Esquimalt, and of New Westminster and Burrard Inlet.

Prince Edward Island was admitted as a province in 1873, and Canada was geographically complete. At this period the island had 180 post offices, and in the last year of her existence as a separate colony the postal system produced a revenue of about $12,000, half of which came from the city of Charlottetown.


It will have been observed how completely isolated the western provinces were from Ontario and Quebec. A letter from Toronto for Winnipeg left Canadian territory at Windsor and did not enter it again until it passed the boundary-line north of Minnesota. It took ten days in the passage. Similarly, a letter to Victoria left Canada at Windsor, and reached the Pacific through United States territory, and was conveyed by a United States steamer to its destination. Three weeks were usually occupied in the transmission of a letter from Toronto to Victoria. Matters were no better between the older Canadian provinces and the Maritime Provinces at the time of Confederation, so far as direct communication was concerned. In 1867 the only sections covered by the Intercolonial Railway were those between Lévis and Rivière du Loup, 120 miles in length, and between Halifax and Truro, 60 miles in length. The great stretch of country between Rivière du Loup and Truro (a distance of 500 miles) had to be traversed by stage coach. In the same way the only direct route over Canadian territory between Quebec and St John, New Brunswick, involved a stage journey between the St Lawrence at Rivière du Loup and the mouth of the St John River. The usual course for the mails between the Maritime Provinces and Quebec during the early years of Confederation was through the State of Maine to Bangor, and thence to Portland, where connection was made with the Grand Trunk system. It was not until the completion of the Intercolonial Railway in July 1876 that the cities of the Maritime Provinces were brought into direct communication over Canadian territory with the cities of Quebec and Ontario, and it was ten years later before a line of railway connected the western provinces with the rest of the Dominion.

Owing to Canada’s dependence on the United States for the means of communication between the several provinces, the obligations under which the Canadian Post Office lay to that of the United States were very considerable, but fortunately the obligations were by no means all on one side. The construction of the Great Western Railway between Niagara Falls and Windsor greatly shortened the distance between New York and the New England States on the one side and Michigan and the North-Western States on the other, and when a direct line was built the United States Post Office at once took advantage of this line for the transmission of its mail between the east and west. The Canada Southern Railway, which was built through the same district a few years later, is even more advantageous to the United States Post Office than the Great Western, and it has always been extensively used for the conveyance of United States mails. In consequence of this mutual obligation, negotiations were opened in 1874 between the two departments, which led to a convention by which each department agreed to place its mail trains at the service of the other without charge for the conveyance of mails from boundary to boundary. By this means either department is able to make use of the mail trains of the other department for the conveyance of its mails when for any reason it seems desirable to do so. A still more important provision of this convention was the stipulation that the rates of postage, which would carry a letter or other article anywhere within the country of origin, would, without further charge, carry the letter to its destination at any post office in the other country. Until this convention was made, the charge on a letter from Canada to the United States was the sum of the domestic charges in each country. Thus a letter passing anywhere within Canada was subject to a charge of three cents per half-ounce, and a charge of the same amount was made by the United States Post Office on a letter passing anywhere within United States territory. When a letter passed from one country to another it was charged six cents per half-ounce, three cents of which was retained by one country and three cents was sent to the other. This convention did away with this arrangement, expensive to the public in both countries and troublesome to the two departments, as exact accounts had to be kept of the contents of every mail passing between the two countries. Thereafter the charge of three cents per half-ounce, which would carry a letter from Toronto to Montreal or any other post office in Canada, would also carry it to New York or to any other post office in the United States. Each country retained the postages on all letters and other matter sent to the other country, and all accounting was thus dispensed with as between the two countries. The effect of this convention was to make of the two countries one postal territory, within which correspondence circulated with entire freedom.


Meantime a much wider project was on foot, the aim of which was nothing less than to make a single postal territory of the whole world. To make clear the significance of the scheme it will be necessary to set out briefly the conditions under which correspondence was exchanged between the different countries of the world. The state of affairs just described between Canada and the United States prior to 1874 will serve as an illustration. The rule with regard to correspondence passing from one country to another was that it was subject to the postage of both the country of origin and the country of destination, and if it were required to pass through other countries on its way to its destination, the postage of the intermediate countries was charged as well. Special conventions between two countries might change this rule, but it was of very general application. This rule had two consequences. One was that rates on correspondence between different countries was necessarily very high and that they varied as between the same places, according to the routes by which the correspondence was sent. Thus in 1873 the rate on a letter from Canada to India was twenty-two cents if it were sent by the Canadian steamers to England and thence to destination. If the same letter were sent by way of the United States, the charge was only thirteen cents per half-ounce. A letter from Canada to Chili, Peru or Ecuador would be charged forty cents per half-ounce if sent by way of Great Britain, while the rate, if the letter were sent through the United States Post Office, was only twenty-five cents. The extreme instance of variation in the rates according to the route chosen was in the case of letters from the United States to Australia. There were six different routes by which letters might be sent, and the rates were five cents, thirty-three cents, forty-five cents, fifty-five cents, sixty cents or one dollar according to the route. The other consequence of the rule by which each country took its postage on letters or other articles passing through its territory was a most complicated system of accounts. Between Canada and the United States difficulties were reduced to a minimum by the fact that the same system of currency and unit of weight was employed in the domestic service of each country. But in Europe the case was different. A customary route for letters passing between Great Britain and Germany was by way of France. In making up the account of the amount due to each of the three countries concerned in this transaction, the letter was charged at so much per half-ounce in England, so much per ten grams (about one-third of an ounce) in France, and so much per loth[1] in Germany. This most ordinary instance of the difficulties of arriving at the amounts due to each country for the conveyance of correspondence will give some idea of the intricacies arising in the case of letters passing through several countries, each with its system of currency and unit of weight. With the increase of international correspondence due to the expansion of commerce and the growth of social relations, as well as to the improvement in the means of conveyance, the trammels imposed by the diversity of local customs became intolerable. Special postal treaties were made by the leading administrations with a view to greater uniformity in the arrangements and to the reduction of the charges, and in 1863 a conference of the principal administrations was called at the instance of the United States for the discussion of post office theory and practice, with the hope that some conclusions might be reached which would tend to greater uniformity among the different post offices. The discussion proved far from fruitless, and during the ten years that followed many treaties were made in which were embodied the principles settled at the conference. Great Britain was very active in the making of conventions with other countries, and her colonies enjoyed the benefits of all such arrangements.

Notwithstanding these conventions there was still much to be accomplished in the way of simplifying and lowering the rates. An inspection of the Postal Guide of the time will make this clear. The list of foreign postages in the Guide contains the rates to 127 countries arranged alphabetically. These rates are charged when the correspondence to which they relate is sent to its destination by way of Great Britain. There are nine different rates for letters, ranging from ten cents per half-ounce, the charge on letters to Austria and the several German states, to forty cents per half-ounce, the rate on letters to Chili, Peru and other countries on the west coast of South America. There are two other lists in the Guide, not as long as the first, but including many of the countries mentioned in the first. No person having an extensive foreign correspondence would venture to put the postage stamps on his letters without a constant reference to the Guide, nor could the foreign mails be prepared for dispatch in any of the exchange offices until every letter had been gone over laboriously by specially trained clerks, who noted and corrected all irregularities and charged additional postage where necessary, in conformity with the terms of the several postal treaties in operation. Finally, elaborate accounts were made up to accompany each mail, setting forth the debits and credits as between the corresponding countries.

The impediments to the free development of foreign correspondence due to the magnitude and variety of the postal charges were fully appreciated in all the more advanced countries, for by this time they had all adopted Rowland Hill’s principle of a low uniform charge for their domestic correspondence. But how were these impediments to be removed? The mere statement of the difficulties in the way of obtaining the consent of the various countries to arrangements which would make a low uniform rate possible for foreign correspondence seemed to show the hopelessness of any attempt in that direction. Contiguous countries like Canada and the United States, or Germany and Austria, might come to agree to acceptable working arrangements, particularly where there was little or no diversity between them as respects currency or standards of weight, but a glance at the varieties of currency and weight standards in use in the different countries, coupled with the sense that these were among the matters which every country would hold to most closely, would be enough to discourage most reformers. But fortunately there was before the world at that time the example of a postal union of very considerable scope. In 1850 Austria and Prussia had entered into a treaty, closely resembling the convention which was made later (in 1874) between Canada and the United States, and the other independent German states at once sought admission into the union. A comprehensive scheme was proposed, embracing all the independent states, and its success was so signal that in the following year (1851), at a conference in Berlin, the idea was mooted of a union which would comprehend all the countries of Europe. Matters were not quite ripe for so far-reaching a project at that time, and it was not until 1874 that the German Office invited the countries of Europe and the United States to consider the plan for a general union which had been drafted by the director-general of that office. The director-general, Von Stephan, was a man of great eminence, whose position in relation to international postal schemes was similar to that occupied by Rowland Hill in regard to cheap uniform postal charges. The idea of a broad union, which was thrown out in the conference of 1851, did not fall on barren soil, as the success of the conference held at Berne in 1874 can only be explained on the theory that that idea had been simmering in the minds of postal reformers. Twenty-two countries were represented at the conference, and the deliberations lasted less than four weeks. By the end of this time a convention had been signed under which these countries, which did nine-tenths of the postal business of the world, engaged that, so far as the conveyance of mails was concerned, they would together form a single postal territory, over which each other’s mails would pass as freely as the mails of each would circulate within its own territory. The postage rates of the countries within the union were lowered and simplified, and by 1878, after many amendments had been made in the original scheme, the rates were practically uniform within the whole union.

It was in 1878 that Canada joined the Universal Postal Union. The beneficial effects of the union on the foreign correspondence of Canada were immediately felt by the public. The long lists of countries with the settled postage to each were removed from the Postal Guide, and in their place was a statement as to the rates on all classes of correspondence to all leading countries, so simple that it could be mastered in a few minutes. The charge on letters to all those countries was five cents per half-ounce, on post cards two cents each, and on all other mail matter one cent per two ounces, with the provision in the case of samples of merchandise that a minimum of two cents should be paid, and in the case of commercial papers that a minimum of five cents should be paid. The Universal Postal Union is one of the greatest of human achievements, not only for its immediate practical results, but also as an indication of what may be accomplished in regard to other schemes of a world-wide character.

[1] A loth was the equivalent of a half-ounce.


Having placed its external relations on a satisfactory footing, the Post Office department concentrated its energies on the development of its domestic service. For many years the history of the department was practically comprised in the annual statements of the increase in the number of post offices, of the miles of mail routes, and of the revenue and expenditure. The most important point in connection with the mail service was the completion of the line of railway running between the provinces on the Atlantic and those on the Pacific. In 1876 the Intercolonial Railway was finished. By this the Maritime Provinces were brought into direct communication with Ontario and Quebec. At the same time a direct service between Canada and Great Britain throughout the year was made possible. Until the Intercolonial Railway was completed the steamers of the Canadian line, while running to Quebec and Montreal during the summer, were obliged to make Portland, Maine, their winter point, the British mails being carried between Portland and Montreal by the Grand Trunk Railway. Now, with the Intercolonial Railway available, the British mails were landed at Halifax during the winter. It also became possible to shorten the time between Great Britain and all the provinces of the Dominion during the summer by landing the mails at Rimouski, a port on the St Lawrence on the line of the Intercolonial Railway, 180 miles below Quebec. From Rimouski the mails were carried by fast trains to the Maritime Provinces in the East and to Ontario and Quebec in the West.

The communication by railway through Canadian territory between the Atlantic provinces and Montreal was carried forward to Winnipeg in November 1884, and to Vancouver on the Pacific in July 1886. Winnipeg was not without railway connection with Eastern Canada until 1884, for since 1879 there had been a railway in operation from Pembina, but the connection was maintained by the aid of the United States railway system. An interesting incident in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway westward across the plains was the establishment of a post office known as ‘End of Track, C. P. R.’ The post office was in a car roughly fitted up for the service, which moved westward a few miles every day with the progress of track laying. A money order service was carried on by the postmaster, and during the period between January 1, 1885, and November 7 following he had issued orders to the amount of over $65,000.

The construction of the through line of railway between the Atlantic and the Pacific, though essential to the security of Canadian autonomy, threw a heavy financial burden on the Post Office. At a time when there were but a few thousand settlers west of the Ontario boundary-line and the total postal revenue for the provinces and territories in the western country was only $239,000, the Post Office was obliged to maintain a daily exchange of mails by travelling post office through to the Pacific coast and to keep up an expensive postal system in that new country. In 1887-88, the first clear year after the railway began to carry the mails for the eastern and middle provinces to the coast, the outlay for the mail service west of the Province of Ontario was $459,000.

The charges on newspapers have undergone several changes since the date of Confederation. At that time the rates on papers sent from publishers to subscribers ran from six and a half cents each per quarter for weekly newspapers to forty cents per quarter for daily newspapers. In 1868, when the rates established after Confederation came into force, they were reduced to five cents per quarter for weekly papers and to thirty cents per quarter for daily papers. In 1875 a change was made in the mode of fixing the charges. Until that time the charge had been so much on each paper, disregarding the element of the weight of the paper. The Postal Act of 1875 made weight, and weight alone, the basis of the postage charge. The rate was made one cent per pound. In 1882 the charge on newspapers sent by publishers to subscribers was wiped out altogether, and until 1899 the Post Office transported all papers from the offices of publication to subscribers free of all cost to either publisher or subscriber. In 1899 a charge of a half-cent per pound was imposed on all such papers, except in the case of weekly papers where the conveyance was within an area of forty miles in diameter. The charge of a half-cent was afterwards reduced to a quarter-cent within an area of three hundred miles, and was made uniformly a quarter-cent per pound in 1908. At the same time the area of free distribution of weekly papers was increased to a diameter of eighty miles. The rate of postage on letters was maintained at the rate of three cents, which was established in 1868, until 1899, except that in 1889 the unit of weight was raised from a half-ounce to one ounce.

The rate on letters passing within Canada and sent to the United States was lowered to two cents per half-ounce in 1899, in connection with the establishment of the imperial penny postage on Christmas 1898. The imperial penny postage rate, though long advocated by John Henniker Heaton and others in England, did not become a practical question until 1897. In that year an imperial conference was held in London on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and Joseph Chamberlain, the colonial secretary, in the course of an address to the delegates to the conference, urged the adoption of the penny rate on letters circulating within the Empire. In pursuance of the idea of reducing the rates on letters within the Empire, the postmaster-general of Canada issued a notice that all letters sent from Canada to Great Britain, or to other parts of the Empire, might go at the Canadian inland rate of three cents per ounce. This being objected to by Great Britain as calculated to force the hands of the other members of the Empire, which for various reasons were not then prepared to accept a reduction in the rates, the notice was withdrawn. After some correspondence the British Post Office decided to call a conference of the self-governing colonies to discuss the question of a reduction in the imperial rates, particularly a suggestion of that office that the rate be made twopence per half-ounce instead of twopence-halfpenny. The conference met in July 1898, and after some discussion the postmaster-general of Canada proposed the establishment of the imperial penny rate on letters circulating within the Empire. The proposition was seconded by the representative of South Africa, but was opposed by the Australian and New Zealand representatives. The Australian representative stated that so far as those colonies were concerned, the proposal would be less serious in itself than in its results upon the inland postage of Australia. The inland rate in Australia was twopence per half-ounce, and as the establishment of a penny rate throughout the Empire would necessitate the acceptance of the same rate within Australia, there would ensue a loss on the inland business of £250,000 a year. The secretary of the British Post Office also criticized the motion as a business proposition, stating that the experience of that office had been that the Post Office is likely to be conducted best if it is conducted on commercial principles. At the next meeting of the conference, however, it appeared that the British government had decided to allow imperial considerations to prevail, and it was finally agreed that such parts of the British Empire as desired a penny postage among themselves should be left to make their own arrangements for that purpose. Accordingly the imperial penny postage scheme was inaugurated on Christmas Day 1898, embracing Great Britain and all the more important colonies except Australia. It was only in May 1911 that the adhesion of Australia made the scheme comprehensive of all the parts of the British Empire.

On January 1, 1899, one week after Canada had accepted imperial penny postage, the Canadian inland rate on letters was reduced from three cents to two cents per ounce. This reduction also affected all letters going to the United States. The financial results of the two great reductions, which amounted to sixty per cent in the case of letters sent to all parts of the Empire and thirty-three and one-third per cent in the case of those circulating within Canada, or posted for the United States, are extremely interesting in their bearing on the maxim that in post office affairs reductions in the rates are always followed by such augmentations of the correspondence affected that the losses of revenue due to the reductions are quickly made up. In the fiscal year 1897-98, the last full year under the older rates, the net revenue of the department was $3,527,810. Three years later the revenue had so far recovered that it was only $107,000 short of the total of 1897-98, and in the following year (1901-2) it exceeded the figures of 1897-98 by $360,000.

The Imperial Penny Postage Conference had an important consequence, not foreseen at the time. When the penny postage question was settled, the postmaster-general of Canada took advantage of the presence of the Australian representatives to discuss with them a scheme for a Pacific cable. The proposal for a cable across the Pacific had been before the world for many years, but the interests of the cable companies, coupled with general indifference on the part of the public, kept the scheme in abeyance in spite of the zeal of its advocates. As recently as 1896 a committee, composed of representatives of Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, had the scheme under investigation. A large body of evidence was taken and a report was adopted recommending the scheme. But it had sunk again into the background when the energy of the postmaster-general of Canada revived it, and before the representatives of the conference parted plans were adopted for the prosecution of the scheme. The cable was laid between Vancouver and Australia and New Zealand, and was ready for business on December 8, 1902. There was an immediate reduction in the cost of cabling between Australasia on the one hand and America and Europe on the other. The charge between Great Britain and Australia and New Zealand was lowered from four shillings and ninepence a word to three shillings a word. The Pacific cable is the first and most important link in a telegraphic system which will ultimately bind together the whole British Empire by lines touching on British territory only.

The conference which in 1898 gave penny postage to the Empire confined its attention to the postage on letters, leaving untouched the scarcely less important subject of the charges on newspapers and magazines. The charge on periodical literature circulating within the Empire remained the same as that between its several parts and the rest of the world, that is, one cent for each two ounces in weight. In 1903, when penny postage had demonstrated its various advantages in the case of letters, the postmaster-general of Canada set on foot a movement for the cheapening of the postage on newspapers and magazines. As a result Canadian newspapers and magazines can be sent to Great Britain and to many of the colonies at the same rate as they can be sent to any part of Canada.

In 1907 negotiations were opened between Canada and Great Britain and the United States, which had important consequences on the circulation in Canada of periodicals from those countries. Since 1874 publishers in the United States had been sending their magazines at the United States inland rate, which for many years had been one cent per pound, while publications of the same nature from Great Britain were charged by the British Post Office one cent for two ounces. The negotiations with the United States were made necessary by the large quantities of merely advertising publications which were coming into the country under the guise of magazines, and which were hampering the officials and delaying the attention due to more important material. The rate on all publications passing either way between Canada and the United States was raised to one cent for four ounces, except in the case of daily newspapers, which was fixed at one cent per pound. The British Post Office reduced its rates on newspapers and periodicals coming to Canada, under certain conditions which in no way interfered with the efficiency of the arrangement, to one penny per pound. The objects aimed at by the two agreements were completely realized. The advance in the postage rates on United States periodicals excluded the class of publications to which objection was properly made, and the lowering of the charge on British publications has been followed by an enormous increase in the circulation of those publications in Canada.

The money order system in connection with the Canadian Post Office has attained large proportions, and the extent of its transactions at home and abroad has become very great. The number of post offices transacting money order business has risen from 515 in 1868 to 3311 in 1910, and the amount of orders issued in Canada has increased from $3,350,000 in 1868 to $61,000,000 in 1910. When Confederation was achieved the only countries with which money order business was transacted were the United Kingdom and Newfoundland. In 1875 an exchange of money orders was arranged with the United States. In 1883 conventions were made with Belgium, Germany, Italy and other European countries, with Australia and New Zealand, and with Jamaica and Barbados. In 1884 a convention was made with France. Since that date negotiations have been opened whenever the occasion seemed opportune, until, in 1910, there were thirty-six separate conventions in operation with as many different countries.

The Post Office Savings Bank was one of the first institutions established by the Canadian government after Confederation. It was founded on the model of the English system, which had been in successful operation since 1861. Its object, in the words of the statute of 1867, was ‘to enlarge the facilities now available for the deposit of small savings, to make the Post Office available for that purpose, and to give the direct security of the Dominion to every depositor for repayment of all money deposited by him, together with the interest due thereon.’ The institution, at its commencement on April 1, 1868, laid eighty-one of the principal offices under contribution, and by the end of the first year the number was increased to 213. During the first year there were 6865 accounts opened, and the amount deposited was $861,655. In 1910, notwithstanding the large number of trustworthy savings banks throughout the country, the sum of $8,816,000 was deposited. The number of persons having accounts in the Savings Bank in 1910 was 148,893, and the amount standing to their credit was $43,586,000.

For many years after Confederation the department was obliged to look to parliament annually for assistance in meeting its expenses. The maintenance of an expensive service from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the sparsity of the population, and the comparative lack of commercial and industrial development, made this inevitable. But the Post Office has shared fully in the advantages due to the growth of population, and from the expansion of the business of the country. Since 1903 the revenue has outrun the expenditure: in 1911 the net revenue of the Canadian Post Office was $9,146,952 and the expenditure $7,954,223, thus leaving a balance in favour of the department amounting to $1,192,729.



The area of the land in Canada now under cultivation or enclosed for pasture is nearly fifty million acres. According to trustworthy estimates this is less than one-sixth of the total land available for such purposes. The climatic and soil conditions which prevail over the greater part of these vast areas are favourable to the production of cereals, grasses and vegetables, and of the fruits of the temperate zone, not only in abundance, but of the very highest quality. Live stock of all kinds thrive exceedingly well, and are remarkably free from disease. These conditions, if taken advantage of in an intelligent and progressive manner, supply all the essentials for a great and successful agricultural industry.

During the past twenty or thirty years the development of the agricultural resources of Canada has shown rapid progress. This is true also in a lesser degree for as long as sixty or seventy years. In the earlier periods, however, of the country’s history agriculture advanced but slowly. The earliest settlers, and especially the French, applied their energies more to fur trading and hunting than to farming, and by the time their descendants found it necessary to turn their attention to the cultivation of the soil, they had lost the skill in agriculture which their ancestors may have possessed. Many of the first settlers in Ontario and the Maritime Provinces, being mechanics, tradesmen, discharged soldiers or anything except farmers, had practically no previous agricultural experience, and it naturally took them some time, with the lack of facilities then existing, to acquire a good working knowledge of their adopted vocation.

The settlement of Western Canada, if we except the Selkirk colony of Red River, which was founded in 1812, offers no parallel to the conditions under which the pioneers of Eastern Canada first hewed their homes out of the bush. The clearing of the forest with its unremunerative labour is a very different thing from the ‘breaking’ of the prairie and the immediate returns which follow, to say nothing of the improved facilities of transportation of the present day and the ready markets for the produce of the land.

The first and, to some extent, the second generation on the land in Eastern Canada were more occupied in clearing off the timber than in cultivating the soil. They were lumbermen rather than farmers. Down to 1859 the value of the forest products exported, including $1,107,275 for pot and pearl ashes, exceeded that of the agricultural products, but since that date agriculture has been in the lead.

Lack of adequate markets was a great drawback to pioneer farming in the East. There was no incentive to produce anything which was not required for the actual sustenance of the family. When the price of wheat rose from thirty cents to two dollars a bushel during the Crimean War, many an Ontario farmer gained his first real start towards independence. The building of railways in the fifties was another important factor in bringing a measure of prosperity to the inland counties.

The unit of occupancy in Eastern Canada is one hundred acres more or less. In the prairie country the holdings are much larger, and there is some attempt to carry on capitalistic farming with the aid of traction machinery and the working of large areas. In British Columbia the holdings vary from ten to twenty acres up to several hundred; the lesser area for the fruit grower, the greater for the cattle rancher.

Landlordism, as it exists in Europe, is practically unknown in Canada. The class of men who in the Old World would be tenants under such a system, in Canada, owing to the ease of acquiring a freehold, would soon become owners themselves. The Canadian farmer, as a rule, is a working man engaged in what may be termed subsistence farming, and generally on land of which he holds the title.

The early annals of agriculture in the eastern part of the Dominion of Canada deal chiefly with the production of cereals, in limited quantities, and of flax, hemp and wool. The farmer produced his own food and the raw material for the clothing of himself and family. The flax and wool grown for the purpose often passed through the various processes of carding, spinning, dyeing and weaving at the hands of the female members of the family.

Among the cereals wheat has always been the leading crop in Canada. The valleys of the Richelieu and Thames were famous in the early days of the nineteenth century for the quantity and quality of wheat produced, and now the fertile plains of the West yield an ever-increasing quantity which already bulks large in the agricultural production of the country. The quantity of wheat exported from Canada in 1773 was 487,000 bushels, which was increased to 1,010,033 bushels in 1802. There were in addition some exports of flour and biscuit. During the first twenty years of the nineteenth century the exports of wheat decreased, while, on the other hand, the export of flour was increased to some extent. In 1829 the Wheat Midge appeared in Lower Canada, and in 1849 it was found in the eastern counties of Upper Canada. The export of wheat in 1855 was 9,390,531 bushels, but owing to the ravages of the midge the quantity fell off in three years over fifty per cent. It was estimated that the loss from the ravages of the midge was $2,500,000 in 1859. In the fiscal year ending March 31, 1910, the quantity of wheat exported was 60,431,253 bushels, to which must be added 3,064,161 barrels of flour.

As agriculture is to be dealt with elsewhere in this work under the head of the several provinces, beginning with Confederation, further reference to the development of the industry is unnecessary here.


The Introduction of Domestic Cattle

The earliest attempt to introduce cattle into Canada, if a somewhat traditionary account is to be relied on, was made by the adventurer, Baron de Léry, who landed some stock on Sable Island in 1518. Some cows were included among Cartier’s list of supplies for his third voyage in 1541, and Poutrincourt, in 1606, brought cattle for the struggling colony at Port Royal. It remained, however, for Champlain to make at Quebec the first permanent introduction of cattle. He mentions having ‘cut hay for the cattle’ in 1610, and a map published in 1613 shows a place where ‘hay was grown for the cattle.’ The colony had a herd of sixty or seventy cattle at Cap Tourmente in 1629, some of which were killed by Kirke while on his predatory expedition to the St Lawrence in that year. The French minister, Colbert, under Louis xiv, began sending representatives of ‘the best dairy cows of Normandy and Brittany’ to New France in 1660, and Tracy brought some cattle from France in 1665 along with the famous Carignan-Salières regiment. All authorities agree that the French-Canadian breed of the present day is descended from the stock thus imported from Normandy and Brittany in the seventeenth century. In the year 1667 the number of horned cattle in New France was 3107, which was increased to 9181 head in 1695 and to 33,179 in 1734.

After 1632, when the Acadian settlements began to acquire a permanent character, more cattle as well as sheep were procured and ‘fruit trees were planted.’ Fur trading and fishing were to some extent abandoned for agricultural pursuits. In 1671 there were reported to be 866 head of ‘horned cattle’ in all Acadia. A census in 1693 showed 878 horned cattle at Port Royal, 461 at Minas, 309 at Chignecto and 38 on the River St John (New Brunswick), probably at Jemseg. Haliburton states that there were 1557 cows and over 5000 young cattle at the Basin of Minas alone at the time of the expulsion of the Acadians. In 1713, when Acadia was ceded to England by the Treaty of Utrecht, a number of the Acadian families migrated to Prince Edward Island, or, as it was then called, the Island of St John, which still remained under French rule. These were the first settlers in the island province, and it is quite possible that they took some cattle with them. When Captain Holland surveyed the island in 1764, he reported that the number of cattle at that time was inconsiderable.

After the expulsion of the Acadians the fertile lands which they had occupied tempted many settlers from New England, who brought live stock with them to the various districts in which they settled. The German settlers went to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, in 1750-53. In 1754 the government supplied them with ‘74 cows, 867 sheep, 114 pigs, 164 goats, besides poultry.’ In 1760 they had 600 cows, and were exporting both butter and cheese from the district. In 1761 a company of fifty-three families from New Hampshire, of Irish descent, settled at Truro. They brought with them 117 head of cattle. During the same year a number of Puritans from Connecticut landed at Yarmouth, and they had 267 cattle in 1763, which number was increased to 954 in 1784. When the United Empire Loyalists settled in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in the memorable years of 1783, 1784 and 1785, there were further additions made to the live stock of these provinces.

It was through the coming of the United Empire Loyalists that live stock was introduced into the Eastern Townships. The government made a distribution of cows, implements, etc., to the new settlers in that district. The extreme western portion of the Province of Quebec south of the St Lawrence, including the county of Huntingdon and the seigniories of Chateauguay and Beauharnois, was settled between 1800 and 1830. A few French Canadians moved into this district and some loyalists migrated westward from Lacolle, but the majority of the settlers were Scottish and Irish families direct from the old country. The cattle for this district were procured from the United States and from the older settled country near Montreal. These counties have since been developed into one of the best dairying and pure-bred stock centres in Canada.

When La Motte Cadillac and his associates pushed their way westward to the Detroit River in 1701, they took with them some young ‘calves,’ the descendants of which were probably the first cows seen in Upper Canada. It was some years, however, after the settlement was planted before any land was occupied on what is now the Canadian side of the river, and it may be assumed that the real introduction of domestic cattle into Upper Canada was coincident with the coming of the United Empire Loyalists in 1783-85. The government distributed cows among these settlers as was done in the Eastern Townships. The cows were procured from Lower Canada and from the United States.

West of the Great Lakes the first mention of domestic cattle is made in connection with Lord Selkirk’s settlement on the Red River. There is in the archives of the Hudson’s Bay Company at Lower Fort Garry a record to the effect that in 1813 Lord Selkirk shipped a bull and a cow from Ballin Ghobhainn in Ross-shire to Stornoway, and that the animals went thence with a party of colonists via Hudson Bay and York Factory. There appears to be no mention, however, that these animals reached Red River, which is not surprising considering the difficulties of the overland journey. In 1823 a herd of three hundred cattle was driven from the south and disposed of to the Red River colonists.

In 1825 Alexander Ross, the historian of the Red River colony, in his journey from Oregon to the Red River, found two cows and a bull at Fort Cumberland, on the Saskatchewan, and remarks that ‘the introduction of domestic cattle from the colony of Red River gives a new feature of civilization to the place.’ The same historian, speaking of the Red River settlement in 1831, refers to the decline in the price of dairy produce as the result of over-production. In his evidence given before the Select Committee of the House of Commons (England) on the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1856, Colonel Lefroy said, ‘There are domestic cattle at most of the forts now, even low down on the Mackenzie River.’

Some cows were evidently taken across the mountains into the northern interior of British Columbia as early as 1837. There is a reference in Hudson’s Bay correspondence to a bull, a cow and a calf at one of the northern posts that year. In a letter written in 1840 the chief factor at Stewart Lake expresses his displeasure to a subordinate at Fraser Lake 'for not sending the bull.'[1]

In 1843 the Hudson’s Bay Company, realizing that the boundary question was likely to be settled with the United States, and that the joint occupation of the Oregon territory would end, established a fort on the site of what is now the city of Victoria, in order to be on the right side of the line when the boundary was definitely fixed. For some years previously the company had maintained large dairy farms at Nisqually on Puget Sound and at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River. These farms were stocked with dairy cattle which had been driven up from California and which were of Mexican (originally Spanish) derivation, having been brought to California by the mission fathers. The new fort was supplied with cattle, and in 1846 the company had two dairy farms of seventy cows each. The produce of these farms was supplied to the northern posts, and was also used in the trade with the Russians in Alaska.

The descendants of the cattle introduced from France have been bred without much intermixture of other blood in some localities in the Province of Quebec. In 1887 a commission was appointed to establish a pure-bred registry. Animals which conformed to certain standards were accepted at that time, and the progeny of these original entries are eligible for registration in the French-Canadian Herd Book.

The Ayrshire was the first of the recognized dairy breeds to be introduced into Canada after the Conquest. Lord Dalhousie, who seems to have been very active in matters pertaining to the improvement of agriculture, both as Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia and as Governor-General of Canada, imported Ayrshire cattle into Quebec in 1821 for the purpose of improving the breed of cows. It is claimed that some animals recorded in the Canadian Ayrshire Herd Book established in 1870 can be traced to the importations by Lord Dalhousie. In the very early days Scottish shipmasters brought out Ayrshire cows for the use of the passengers on the voyage, and sold them on arrival at Quebec or Montreal. These cows, owing to their superior qualities, became popular with the farmers, who frequently induced the captains to bring several cows on a voyage, in order that they might secure them for breeding purposes. In 1845 J. B. Ewart of Dundas, Ontario, made a direct importation of Ayrshire cattle. John Dodds and James Logan of Montreal brought over more cattle of this breed in 1850 and 1853 respectively, and after that large numbers of Ayrshire cattle were imported into Ontario and Quebec.

In 1868 the first pure-bred Jersey cattle were brought to Canada by Harrison Stephens of Montreal. The Jerseys were exceedingly popular for some years and prices rose very high, one breeder refusing $26,000 for a single cow. The Jerseys afterwards suffered somewhat from the natural reaction following this unnatural advance. Sir John Abbott imported a number of the Guernsey breed in 1878, 1881 and 1883, and these were probably the first direct importations. A few animals were imported into Nova Scotia from the United States about the same time. The first introduction of the Holstein breed occurred in 1882 by the importation of animals from the United States. In 1884 and 1885 there were importations made direct from Holland. M. Cook, Aultsville, Ontario, J. S. Hallam, H. Hillgartner, C. Wagler, New Dundee, Ontario, and J. W. Lee, Simcoe, Ontario, were among the first to introduce this breed.

The shorthorn is not generally included among the special dairy breeds, but some excellent milk producers are found among cows belonging to certain strains or families. The Board of Agriculture for New Brunswick made the first importation of pure-bred shorthorns in 1825 and 1826. Judge Robert Arnold, St Catharines, Ontario, and G. W. Smith of St Thomas, Ontario, imported shorthorns direct from England in 1826; and from 1832 down to 1854 a large number of these animals were brought into the country.

Until comparatively recent years pure-bred cows of any breed were not held in high favour by the average dairy farmer. This prejudice, however, has almost totally disappeared, as is shown by the number of pure-bred cattle in Canada at the present time, and the high prices which are paid for choice animals of good breeding.

[1] Rev. A. G. Morice, History of the Northern Interior of British Columbia.

Cheese and Butter Production in Canada

The use of butter and cheese as foods for man dates back to the very earliest times, and their manufacture is undoubtedly among the oldest of the technical arts. The early French colonists evidently brought with them some knowledge of the art of making the soft cheese which has always been the peculiar product of France. On the Island of Orleans, and in one or two other localities in the Province of Quebec, examples of this type of cheese are still made by the French-Canadian farmers, who follow methods that have been in practice since the earliest days of the province.

The manufacture of butter, the art of which is easily acquired, naturally followed the introduction of cows; and while for many years, owing to lack of markets, the quantity produced did not exceed the requirements of the family, as the population increased and the proportion of non-producers became greater, successful butter-makers began to find a market for their product.

The United Empire Loyalists brought the art of cheese-making to the Eastern Townships, to the St Lawrence Valley and to the Lake Ontario district. As early as 1801 there was reported to be a surplus of cheese and butter at Kingston, Ontario, some of which was exported to the United States. In Gourlay’s Statistical Account of Upper Canada (1822) reference is made to butter and cheese in Sandwich, Walpole, Rainham, Norwich, Saltfleet, Bayham and other townships. Cheese-making was engaged in extensively in the early fifties by some of the English and Scottish settlers, who followed the methods of the farm dairies in the old country. Cheese-making on the farm reached its highest development in the county of Oxford in Ontario and in Huntingdon and Chateauguay Counties in Quebec. Since the introduction of the factory system ‘home-made’ cheese has almost entirely disappeared.

There were over a million cows in British North America in 1861. The home market was supplied with butter and to some extent with cheese, although the imports of cheese were considerably in excess of the exports in that year. The dairy outlook in the early sixties was not encouraging. Progress was impossible under the conditions which then existed. When the quantity of milk produced exceeded the needs of the family, the surplus butter and cheese was ‘traded’ for groceries and other requirements at a valuation often below the actual cost of production. Moreover, the production of butter and cheese was limited to the amount of labour which the farmers’ wives and daughters could spare from their other arduous duties.

The introduction of the factory system improved the situation and gave a new impetus to milk production. The factory product, being more uniform and of a higher average quality, was more suitable for the English market than the home-made article, and the great trade in the export of cheese which then began was made possible. The system of making cheese in factories originated in Herkimer County in the State of New York about 1851, and for some years that district set the standards and fashions for the rest of America in connection with the industry. The factory system was exactly suited to the labour and other conditions in Ontario and Quebec, and, as a consequence, it was extended very rapidly as soon as it became known and understood. The results were so important that the rise of the dairying industry in Canada has been associated in the popular mind with the beginning of the factory system. This view is hardly correct, but it must be admitted that the starting of the first cheese factory marked a distinct epoch in the progress of the industry.

The first cheese factory in Canada was established in Oxford County, Ontario, in 1864, by Harvey Farrington, who came from New York State with that purpose in view. During the following year four factories were established near Ingersoll in the same county, and one at Athens, Leeds County, the first in Eastern Ontario. A factory in Hastings County began operations in 1866 near the town of Belleville, which soon became an important dairying centre. So rapid was the extension of the factory system that in 1867 it was estimated that there were two hundred factories in the Province of Ontario.

The first cheese factory in the Province of Quebec was opened by E. E. Hill, at Dunham, Missisquoi County, in the spring of 1865. Others followed in 1867-68 in the same county and in the adjoining county of Brome. In 1872 a factory started at Rougemont in Rouville County, by Fregeau Frères, was the first to be established in a French-Canadian district. A combined cheese factory and creamery was opened in St Denis, Kamouraska County, in 1881, and after that date the factories multiplied rapidly throughout the province.

In the early seventies attention was directed to the factory system of manufacturing butter which was then coming into vogue in Orange County, New York. The first creamery in Canada was established at Athelstan, Huntingdon County, Quebec, in 1873, by a company of farmers, but it ceased operations after a few weeks with heavy loss to the promoters. Another was started later in the same year at Helena, Huntingdon County. These pioneer creameries were operated on what was known as the Schwartz system, the fresh milk being placed in large shallow pans surrounded by cold water. The cream after rising to the top was removed by skimming in the old-fashioned way. In 1878 the system of ‘setting’ the milk in deep cans surrounded with cold water, or ice and water, was introduced. Some of the creameries first tried the plan of having the fresh milk delivered to the creamery to be placed in these cans, but after a trial this system was abandoned for the plan of setting the milk in the deep cans at the farms and carrying the cream only to the creamery. It was thus that the cream-gathering creamery had its origin.

Cheese factories and creameries have been established in all the provinces of Canada. In New Brunswick the first cheese factory was opened in 1869 near the village of Sussex. This was followed by a creamery, also near Sussex, in 1884. In Nova Scotia the first cheese factory was established in Paradise, Annapolis County, in 1870, to be followed by a second, controlled by a company of farmers, in Onslow, near Truro, in 1871. This latter factory afterwards formed the nucleus of what became the first milk condensery in Canada. In 1892 the first creamery was established in Nova Scotia at Nappan in Cumberland County. Although Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are well adapted for dairying in many localities, the industry has not made the same growth in these provinces as it has in Ontario and Quebec.

The dairying industry has made more progress in Prince Edward Island than in the other Maritime Provinces. The island province with its well-developed agricultural areas, its fertile pastures and favourable climate, offers an almost ideal condition for the production of milk suitable for the manufacture of cheese of fine quality. A small cheese factory was established at Little York in 1882. During the following year three other factories were established, but none of these proved very successful. Genuine progress was made in 1891, when the Dominion department of Agriculture, through the dairy commissioner, undertook to organize and manage a number of factories for the purpose of illustrating right methods of operation.

The factory system took root west of the Great Lakes through the erection of a cheese factory at Shoal Lake, Manitoba, in 1886; a creamery at Saltcoats, Saskatchewan, in 1890; a small cheese factory near Calgary, Alberta, in 1886; and another at Chilliwack, British Columbia, in 1895. A. C. Wells of Chilliwack was the pioneer of modern dairying in British Columbia. While dairying makes little progress in a successful wheat-growing district, the northern sections of the three prairie provinces have some well-developed dairying areas. Creameries are also doing well in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia.

The centrifugal cream separator was introduced into Canada in 1882. Next to the factory system this was the most important improvement ever made in the dairying industry. The first importation was a Danish machine for a creamery at Ste Marie, Beauce County, Quebec, owned by the late Lieutenant-Colonel Henri Duchesnay. The centrifugal separator offered such important advantages that it was quickly adopted in all localities where it was practicable to have the fresh milk delivered at the creamery.


First Attempts

The earliest attempts, by the governing authorities in Canada, to encourage agriculture relate chiefly to the growing of hemp and flax. In Governor Murray’s report on the state of the government in Quebec in 1762, he said, ‘The raising of hemp and flax, for which the lands are in many places extremely proper, must be the object of most serious consideration.’ In 1786 Lord Dorchester, then governor, appointed a committee to inquire into the population and agriculture in Quebec, which then included what is now Ontario. The magistrates at Cataraqui wrote to the committee and recommended ‘the propriety of encouraging by bounty the raising of hemp and flax and the manufacture of potash.’ The loyalists farther east also petitioned for a bounty to be allowed on ‘pot and pearl ash as well as on hemp.’ In 1822 the legislature of Upper Canada voted £300 to purchase machinery for preparing hemp fibre, and £50 a year for several years for its care and operation. The home authorities wished to ensure a supply of raw material for the manufacture of cordage for the navy, to replace that which had formerly been secured from Russia, that source having been cut off by the closing of the Baltic ports as a result of the Napoleonic wars. Notwithstanding this active encouragement, and the fact that the price of hemp rose in Canada from £25 per ton to over £100 during the early years of the nineteenth century, the growing of hemp was never very extensively followed.

Agricultural Societies

The organization of agricultural societies was encouraged by some of the early governors. Probably the first organization of the kind was the Quebec Agricultural Society founded at Quebec on April 6, 1789. Similar societies were organized during the same year at Halifax and in Hants and Kings Counties, Nova Scotia, under the patronage of Governor Parr. But it required more than the presence and moral support of the governor and other dignitaries to make such organizations effective. Funds were lacking, and for that reason, if for no other, very little was accomplished.

A considerable impetus was given to agriculture in the Maritime Provinces by the letters of ‘Agricola’ (John Young) which appeared in the Acadian Recorder of Halifax during the years 1818 and 1819. As a result of the interest thus awakened Lord Dalhousie, then Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, called a public meeting at Halifax on December 19, 1818, the outcome of which was the organization of a provincial agricultural society. The legislature made a grant to this society of £1500, of which £540 was set aside for the importation of improved live stock, seeds and machinery, and certain sums were distributed among the county societies. It was suggested that dairy cattle should be imported from Ayrshire.

In the year 1830 the provincial legislature of Upper Canada passed an act to encourage the organization of agricultural societies in the several districts of the province. A number of societies of a more or less perfunctory character had existed in the province for some years. The Agricultural Society of Upper Canada was organized in 1845 with Lieutenant-Colonel E. A. Thompson as president, and the first provincial exhibition was held at Toronto under the auspices of that society in 1846. It was deemed worthy of special remark that some pure-bred ‘Durham’ cattle were on exhibition at this show.

Boards of Agriculture

Boards of Agriculture for Upper and Lower Canada were established in 1850. Membership in these boards was looked upon as an honorary position, and the appointments were apt to go to those who were able to pull the political strings rather than to men with special qualifications for leadership in matters agricultural. It was hardly to be expected that a body thus organized, without any direct responsibility, would prove very aggressive, or take its duties very seriously. The Boards of Agriculture were, however, possibly the best means that could have been adopted in the circumstances to promote or foster the agricultural industry, and they paved the way for the more effective organization of the department of Agriculture under the direct control of a responsible minister. In 1852 an act was passed providing for the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture and to amend and consolidate the laws relating to agriculture. Five years later the head of the Bureau of Agriculture became the first minister of Agriculture in Canada. The Boards of Agriculture distributed the annual government grant for agricultural purposes to the various county societies. The total amount of the grant in 1852 was $21,557. After Confederation the Boards of Agriculture were continued for some years under provincial auspices.

The Dominion Government and Agriculture

A Bureau of Agriculture and Statistics, administered by a minister of Agriculture, was planned as a part of the new government machinery at Confederation. Immigration was assigned to the department of Agriculture at first, and the annual reports during the early Confederation period deal chiefly with statistics of immigration, quarantine, etc. The agents who represented the department of Agriculture in Great Britain down to 1892 were in that year transferred with the Immigration branch to the department of the Interior.

An order-in-council dated April 17, 1877, provided for the appointment of a Dominion Council of Agriculture, composed of four representatives each for Quebec and Ontario, one for each of the Maritime Provinces, one for British Columbia, and one for Manitoba and the North-West Territories combined. On the 25th of the same month an organization meeting was held at Ottawa at which the Hon. David Christie was elected president and Joseph Perrault secretary, and twelve committees were struck to deal with as many different phases of agriculture and allied subjects. The scheme was well planned, but it appears to have been abandoned after the change of government in 1878, and the Committee on Forestry and Forests, of which Sir Henri Joly was chairman, was the only one to present a report.

The Standing Committee of the House of Commons on Immigration and Colonization was for some years the only public body, under Dominion auspices, which gave any attention to agricultural affairs. In 1878 this committee inquired into the export trade in live cattle, which had increased from a few head in 1873 to over 7000 in 1877, and which was then seriously threatened by the Duke of Richmond’s bill to prohibit the importation of live cattle into the United Kingdom.[1] During the same session some evidence was taken on the beet sugar industry and the growing of sugar beets.

[1] This bill did not become law.

Experimental Farms Established

During the session of 1884 the House of Commons took the first definite step in the direction of agricultural improvement by appointing a select committee on the motion of G. A. Gigault, then member for Rouville, now (1912) deputy minister of Agriculture for Quebec, ‘to inquire into the best means of encouraging and developing the agricultural industries.’ This committee reported in favour of establishing experimental farms, and accordingly, in 1896, a bill was introduced into parliament by the minister of Agriculture, Sir John Carling, with the object of giving effect to that recommendation. William Saunders was chosen to organize and direct the experimental farms system, which at first consisted of a central farm at Ottawa, with branch farms or stations at Nappan (Nova Scotia), Brandon (Manitoba), Indian Head (Saskatchewan), and Agassiz (British Columbia). Additional branch farms or sub-stations have recently been established at Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), Rosthern (Saskatchewan), Scott (Saskatchewan), Lethbridge (Alberta), Lacombe (Alberta), Kentville (Nova Scotia), Cap-Rouge (Quebec), and at Ste Anne-de-la-Pocatière (Quebec). The establishment of others is now under consideration. No better evidence of the value and usefulness of these farms could be adduced than the public demand, which has resulted in a large extension of the system after twenty-five years’ trial. A Dominion botanist and entomologist, who had been appointed as an honorary officer of the department in 1884, was included in the experimental staff.

The equipment at the central farm at Ottawa includes chemical, botanical, entomological and cereal breeding laboratories, with a trained man of science at the head of each. Soil analysis; investigations to determine the composition of wheats and the influence of environment as affecting their milling qualities; the relative value of various fodders, plants and root crops; the examination of well waters; the identification and control of plant diseases and of insects injurious to farm crops and trees, are among some of the more important assignments to these laboratories. On what may be termed the more practical side, there are experts in charge of horticulture, animal husbandry, field crops and poultry. Through these several divisions the experimental farms conduct many experiments and investigations bearing on the economics of agriculture.

To the experimental farms has fallen the task of finding, or rather producing, an apple which will grow in the prairie provinces, and of developing a wheat with the earliest possible ripening habit while, at the same time, retaining the valuable and essential qualities of hardness and a high percentage of gluten. With the first problem some progress has been made. By mating the Siberian crab Pyrus Baccata with some of the hardier varieties of apples grown at Ottawa, and by grafting hardy crabs and apples on the cross-bred trees grown at the branch farms in the West, a useful culinary fruit has been assured which will be of great value to the inhabitants of that part of Canada. It is confidently believed by those in charge of this work that a reasonably good eating apple, sufficiently hardy to winter on the prairies, will yet be found.

With respect to the wheat problem a more definite and distinct advance has been made. In the search for early ripening wheats both high altitudes and high latitudes have been explored all over the world. A wheat was found at Lake Ladoga, north of St Petersburg in Russia, that ripened ten days earlier than the Red Fife, which has been the standard variety of the North-West. The Ladoga itself proved to be inferior, but crosses between it and Red Fife have resulted in several strains which have more or less of the early ripening habit of the Ladoga with the superior milling qualities of the Red Fife. The northern limit of successful wheat production has thus been pushed many miles farther north, adding for practical purposes a very large area to the map of Canada. This peaceful conquest of a large territory is one of the romances of modern agriculture. That which has cost a tremendous toll in human lives and money at other times and in other lands has been accomplished in Canada by the intelligent labour of a few government officials with an insignificant outlay of public funds.

The free distribution of samples of seed grain has been an important division of the work of the experimental farms, with a twofold purpose. First, it permits of an extensive system of co-operative testing of new varieties of grain under widely different conditions, and, secondly, it introduces to inquiring and progressive farmers improved strains of seed which give them an increased yield. The propagation and distribution of seedlings of hardy forest trees for shelter belts, and of ornamental shrubs for the beautification of prairie homes, is another line of effort for the improvement of rural conditions in that part of Canada. Experiments in the feeding of live stock and in the production of milk, beef and pork, tests of various methods of renewing and conserving soil fertility, the effect of early and late seeding, the raising of poultry and bees are some of the other lines of work followed.

The annual reports of the central and branch farms, together with the numerous bulletins relating to the experiments conducted, are sent free of charge to any person who applies for them. Practical farmers have come to recognize the value of the information thus obtained, and to look upon the farms as a most reliable ally in attacking the various problems which daily confront them.

The San José Scale Act (1898) and the Destructive Insect and Pest Act (1910) are administered by the entomological division of the experimental farms. The former prohibited the importation of nursery stock from countries where the scale occurred. In 1901 the provisions were modified to allow stock to enter at six customs ports after fumigation with hydrocyanic acid gas. The act of 1910 is more general in scope, and is intended to give the minister the necessary powers to prevent the introduction of any destructive insect

The Dairying Service

A conference of delegates from all the dairymen’s associations in the different provinces met at Ottawa on April 9, 1889, and petitioned the Dominion government to appoint a dairy commissioner. The suggestion was well received by the government and by parliament. The result was that on February 1, 1890, Professor James W. Robertson was appointed dairy commissioner for the Dominion, with J. C. Chapais as assistant dairy commissioner to give special attention to the French-speaking districts. This marked the first important step by the federal government for direct assistance to the dairying industry. The commissioner visited all parts of Canada during the summer of 1890 to study the needs of the situation, and in the spring of 1891 organized a staff of experts to carry on the various services which had been planned. It would be impossible without overloading these pages to relate in detail all that has been accomplished through these services during the past twenty years. Some of the more important undertakings for the advancement of the dairy industry were as follows:

(1) Experimental work was carried on at several places in 1891 and 1892 to determine the relative value for cheese-making purposes of milk containing different percentages of fat, with a view to establishing a system for the payment for milk at cheese factories according to its relative value based on a butter fat standard.

(2) The organization and operation of winter creameries to demonstrate the possibility of keeping factories open all the year round was begun in the winter of 1891-92. The butter trade suffered as a result of the intermittent character of the supply of fine creamery butter. That which was needed for winter use was accumulated in the autumn and held in storage until required. The quality deteriorated before it reached the consumer, and in consequence the trade in butter was curtailed to a considerable extent. It was demonstrated that creameries could be operated successfully during the winter months, and that a first-class quality of butter could be manufactured at that season of the year. With a more regular supply of a freshly made article, the consumption of butter increased rapidly, and there are now many factories making butter during the winter months.

(3) In 1892 the commissioner was authorized by the government to start a co-operative cheese factory in Prince Edward Island. The machinery was lent by the government and it was afterwards purchased by the co-operative society. An expert was placed in charge to organize the business and to conduct the factory as a government dairy station. In the autumn of that year a consignment of the cheese manufactured at this station was exported to London, where it was sold at the highest market price. When the people of the island province knew that they could get full prices for their cheese, they became convinced that they could make an article of the finest quality. New factories were organized, and the government supervision was continued for several years and was extended to eleven factories in all. Other dairy stations were opened in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to illustrate the operation of cheese factories and creameries along proper lines.

(4) In 1895 the work of organizing the cold storage services was begun. Owing to improvements in other countries and the keener competition which followed, the export butter trade of Canada had shrunk to almost nothing. There were no facilities for the carriage of butter in cold storage. No creamery owner could get a refrigerator car unless he had a car-load of butter to ship. There was no cold storage on the steamers sailing from Canadian ports, and few creameries had any facilities of this kind. The commission was authorized to arrange with the railway companies to send refrigerator cars once a week over stated routes for the purpose of developing the butter trade. Under this arrangement a small shipper with a few packages of butter now has it carried as safely as the shipper who sends hundreds of packages. The creameries were encouraged to erect cold storage rooms by the payment of a bonus of $100 to those who provided such equipment. In 1895 the steamship companies were induced to provide insulated chambers in which ice was used as a refrigerant. While this was an improvement, it did not fully meet the situation. In 1897 a further agreement was entered into with the steamship companies for the installation of artificial refrigeration on a number of the transatlantic ships, the government paying half the cost of the machinery up to $10,000 per steamer. With these improvements the butter trade began to develop, and the export trade from Montreal, which was only 32,000 packages during the season of 1894, increased to 539,000 in 1902. Refrigerator chambers with temperatures suitable for the carriage of cheese have also been provided through financial assistance from the government. Aid was thus given in providing cold storage facilities on thirty-four steamers sailing from Canadian ports. The result is that since 1902 practically every new steamer placed on the St Lawrence route has been fitted with cold storage chambers. This has been done without assistance from the government, the trade now being sufficient to warrant the expenditure.

(5) The creameries established by private enterprise in the North-West Territories during the early nineties did not prove financially successful, and the situation was rather critical, owing to the fact that many of the new settlers were depending entirely on the dairying industry. The government came to the rescue in 1894 and the following years by authorizing the dairy commissioner to take over the management of existing creameries owned by associations of farmers, and to advance sufficient money to pay off the pressing debts. Loans were made to pay for the equipment of new creameries that were to come under the same management. Confidence was at once restored, and under expert supervision the business grew and prospered, so that the department of Agriculture was able at the end of 1905 to give up the active control of a large number of creameries which had been assisted to a position of independence and stability. New markets had been opened up in the Orient and in the Yukon which are now of great value to the industry in Western Canada.

(6) In 1902 the dairying service undertook to demonstrate the advantages to be derived from the curing of cheese at a proper temperature. It had been well known for years that the ordinary summer temperatures in Canada destroyed the mild flavour and mellow texture of Canadian Cheddar cheese. Yet these are the very qualities that give value to cheese of that variety. Owners of cheese factories had been urged to provide the necessary equipment to control the temperature in their curing rooms, but, although the advantages were generally admitted, no progress was made in that direction. It was decided, therefore, to build and equip four large central cool cheese-curing rooms to illustrate in a commercial way the advantages of the proper method of curing. These curing rooms were operated for five years. They handled a large quantity of cheese, and the benefits were so clearly demonstrated that a large proportion of the factories are now provided with the necessary equipment for controlling the temperature in the curing rooms, so that it does not go above 60° F.

(7) The cow-testing movement, begun in 1904, was intended to encourage a study of the production of individual animals, so that the poor ones might be discarded and the best ones kept for breeding and milking purposes. The records which have been obtained show that the milk yield of a large number of the cows which are kept on dairy farms in Canada is below the point of profit, and owners are being led to realize the importance of giving some attention to this matter. By this means the average production of all cows in Canada is being materially increased. An active propaganda to encourage this work is still continued.

In 1899 a Live Stock commissioner was appointed as an assistant to the commissioner of Agriculture and Dairying, and more attention was given to improvement in the breeding of animals, the judging of live stock at exhibitions, and steps were taken to nationalize the records for pure breeds of live stock. Experts were employed as speakers at Farmers’ Institutes and other agricultural gatherings, sales of pure-bred live stock were organized, and many other means, including the publication of special bulletins, were employed to promote the live stock industry.

In 1901 an enlargement of the scope of the Dairy branch was effected, and divisions of Dairying, Live Stock, Extension of Markets, Cold Storage, Fruit and Poultry were established. An act, popularly known as the Fruit Marks Act, was passed to provide for the grading, marking and inspection of packages containing fruit for sale, which came into operation on July 1 in that year. Cargo inspectors were first employed in 1901 to watch the loading and discharge of all perishable food products at Montreal, Halifax and St John, and also at London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester and Bristol.

In 1903 a Seed division was organized in connection with the Dairy branch, with the object of protecting farmers from the sale of impure and useless seed, to prevent the spreading of noxious weeds, and generally to encourage the use of pure seed on the farms of Canada. The Seed Control Act, passed in 1905, gives a certain measure of control over the Canadian seed trade. A seed laboratory was established at headquarters, where the vitality and purity of samples of seeds taken by the inspectors, or sent in by farmers or dealers, are accurately determined.

On January 1, 1905, Professor Robertson resigned his position as commissioner of Agriculture and Dairying for Canada, and a further reorganization was effected by which the Live Stock and Poultry divisions were made into a separate branch with F. W. Hodson at its head, and the Seed division also received the status of a branch under G. H. Clark, leaving the divisions of Dairying, Extension of Markets, Fruit and Cold Storage in the original branch, with J. A. Ruddick as dairy commissioner.

The Health of Animals Branch

This branch is in a sense the oldest of all the purely agricultural branches of the department, having had charge of the cattle quarantine stations since 1876. D. McEachran, F.R.C.V.S., who had a private practice, gave part of his time to the service as chief veterinary inspector. In 1902 the need for more thorough organization resulted in the appointment of J. G. Rutherford, V.S., whose title was changed to that of veterinary director-general in 1904. The Animal Contagious Disease Act was passed in 1903 and the old act of 1885 was repealed. This branch has performed valuable services for the live stock interests of the country. A biological laboratory was established at Ottawa in 1902, to facilitate scientific research and for the pathological examination of specimens sent in by departmental officers and others. Anthrax vaccine, tuberculin and malline are manufactured at this laboratory. Measures have been adopted with a view to eradicate mange in cattle, maladie du coït, anthrax, black quarter, glanders and other similar destructive diseases of live stock. Since 1905 the positions of Live Stock commissioner and veterinary director-general have been held by the same officer.

The Meats and Canned Foods Act (6-7 Edw. vii, cap. 27), which was passed during the session of 1906, is assigned to the Health of Animals branch for administration. This act provides for the inspection, by a duly qualified veterinarian, of all carcasses of animals intended for export, and of canned goods of all descriptions.

The Tobacco Division

Of late years some attention has been given to the tobacco-growing industry. Tobacco has been growing in many parts of Quebec and in Essex and Kent Counties in Ontario for many years under more or less crude conditions. An expert was brought from France in 1905, who reported favourably on the outlook for Canadian-grown tobacco. Experiments have been undertaken in the cultivation of different varieties of the plant and in the fermenting or curing of the leaf. Tobacco stations have been established at Harrow, Essex County, Ontario, St Jacques-le-Majeur-de-l’Achigan, Montcalm County, Quebec, and St Césaire, Rouville County, Quebec. The Tobacco division has already demonstrated that Canadian tobacco has some distinct qualities of value, and that it is possible to overcome some of its defects by following proper methods.

The Exhibition Branch

The Dominion government has, through the department of Agriculture, given considerable assistance of late years to national and special exhibitions in Canada, which have had for their chief object the promotion of agricultural interests. Canada has been fittingly represented at all the large international expositions held during the past twenty years, and a permanent Exhibition branch has been organized to carry on this work from year to year. The other branches of the department co-operate with the exhibition staff in collecting samples of grain, fruit, dairy and other agricultural products.


The Census and Statistics Office, a branch of the department of Agriculture, issues a monthly bulletin which is made up largely of agricultural statistics, Canadian and foreign crop reports, and departmental notes. A supplementary bulletin for December 1910 gave the total area of field crops grown in Canada that year as 32,711,062 acres, and the value of the crops as $507,185,500. The total annual production of milk is estimated at $100,000,000, and the value of live stock raised annually together with the wool and eggs produced is approximately $200,000,000. These figures serve to give some idea of the extent of Canadian agriculture.

Since 1890, in which year the Canadian exports of cheese first exceeded those of the United States, Canada has easily occupied the first place among cheese-exporting countries. In 1904 the quantity exported (233,980,716 lbs.) was nearly equal to the combined exports of all other countries, and its value was greater than that of any other single article exported from Canada in that year. In 1906 the exports of wheat exceeded those of cheese in value, for the first time since 1879. Canada now takes her place among the great wheat-producing countries of the world, ranking fifth in 1912, and being exceeded only by Russia, the United States, British India and France. In view of the rapid settlement of the wheat lands in the prairie provinces, there is every reason to believe that in a very few years the wheat crop of Canada will be exceeded only by that of Russia and of the United States. It is even within the possibilities that Canada may reach first place in the not far distant future. As an exporter of wheat and flour Canada ranked next to Russia in 1910, being the United Kingdom’s second largest source of supply.

Canada also occupies a position of importance in the international apple trade, competing closely with the United States for first place. The fruit-growing industry, as a whole, has made great advances in the last decade. More scientific orchard methods, better and more careful packing and grading of the fruit, have raised the quantity and quality of the crops from the old orchards, while improved facilities for storage have extended the season, and better transportation enables the grower to market his fruit over a much wider area. With a constantly expanding market in the prairie provinces, where fruit is not grown to any extent, in addition to the markets of Great Britain, it is not surprising that a rapidly increasing acreage is devoted to fruit growing in the eastern provinces and in British Columbia.

In the evolution of agriculture in Canada the farmers of each succeeding generation have had to meet new conditions and have had to deal with new problems. The progress which was made in the earlier periods is a tribute to the energy, resource and industry of the pioneers. Conditions are now becoming more stable, and the Canadian farmer is beginning to benefit from the accumulated experience of those who have gone before him. With this advantage; with the information that comes to him through an intelligent and widely circulated agricultural press; with numerous government bulletins and reports; and with discussions at public meetings and annual conventions of organizations representing the different branches of agricultural activity—the path of progress is cleared of many of the difficulties that formerly existed.

Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty

at the Edinburgh University Press


Mis-spelled words and printer errors have been fixed.

Illustrations have been relocated due to using a non-page layout.

Some photographs have been enhanced to be more legible.

[The end of Canada and its Provinces Vol 7 of 23 edited by Adam Shortt and Arthur Doughty]