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Title: The Dominion of Canada

Date of first publication: 1868

Author: Henry Youle Hind, 1823-1908

Date first posted: Mar. 24, 2018

Date last updated: Mar. 24, 2018

Faded Page eBook #20180320

This eBook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, David T. Jones, Howard Ross & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net
























H. Y. HIND, M. A., F. R. G. S.


J. G. HODGINS, LL. B., F. R. G. S.











Transcriber's Notes and Errata are placed at the end of this file.



Part I.Introductory, (2 sections.)
Part II.Period of English and French Discovery and Settlement, (10 sections.)
Part III.Political and Military History—French Period, (26 sections.)
Part IV.Political History of Canada—British Period, (18 sections.)
Part V.The Maritime Provinces, (8 sections.)
Part VI.Confederation of the Provinces—with Statistical Tables, (16 sections.)






The prosperous provinces of British North America, which now constitute the "Dominion of Canada," were, with the islands of Prince Edward and Newfoundland and the outlying territory of the Hudson Bay company, (and even portions of the United States,)—once known as Nouvelle France. This vast area was two centuries ago held by one people, and ruled by one viceroy—with his subordinates as governors of districts. It will be curious and interesting briefly to trace the successive steps which led not only to the rapid expansion of French power and influence on the continent, but also to note the causes which led to the no less certain decay and extinction of that power as a political entity in America. Equally instructive will it be to take a glance at the successive steps which led to the establishment of that other rival power in the very seat of French dominion on this continent, and caused to be transferred to Great Britain these fine provinces, which afterwards under her beneficial rule grew and prospered as single communities, and at length confederated together as one Dominion—a Dominion with a population and territory equal to that which formed the United States at the close of its successful revolution of 1776.

2. Growth of British North America.—Long after the discovery of America, Great Britain had no permanent foothold in any part of the continent. For many years she maintained but a nominal claim, for fishing purposes, upon the outlying island of Newfoundland—her sovereignty over which was chiefly based upon Cabot's discovery in 1497, and Sir Humphrey Gilbert's act of possession in 1583. Gradually, however, she advanced her power and increased her influence, until she absorbed nearly the whole of the North American continent. But very soon after the absorption of this vast territory, there arose that restless spirit among her own children, which at length issued in rebellion against her authority, and in the end bereft her of more than half of her possessions. Since that event there has again grown up in what was once New France, a prosperous cluster of colonies, which stretch across the continent from the island of Newfoundland to that of Vancouver.



1. Cabot's Discovery of Newfoundland.—Soon after the news of the discovery by Columbus had reached England, John Cabot, a Venetian merchant, resident at Bristol, obtained a commission from Henry VII., in 1496, to make a voyage to the New World. In June 1497, he left Bristol with his son Sebastian. On the 24th of that month, he reached a point on the Trinity Bay coast, Newfoundland, which he named Prima Vista. On St. John's day he came to an island which he named St. Jean, (afterwards Prince Edward.) By virtue of these discoveries, the English first laid claim to sovereignty over these islands.

2. Cortereal's Voyages.—In 1500 Gaspard Cortereal, a Portuguese, made a voyage to Labrador, Newfoundland, and New England. He made a second voyage in 1501, and, having reached Hudson Strait, was never heard of afterwards.

3. Verazzani's Voyage.—In 1524, John Verazzani made a voyage to America, under the patronage of Francis I. In 1525 he made a second voyage, and explored more than 2,000 miles of coast. In consequence of his discoveries the French claimed jurisdiction of all places visited by him.

4. Cartier's Discovery of Canada.—In 1534 Philip Cabot, admiral of France, urged King Francis I. to establish a colony in the new world. He recommended Jacques Cartier, a noted navigator of St. Malo, to command an expedition of discovery to the New World. In April 1534 Cartier left St. Malo, and twenty days after reached a cape on the Newfoundland coast which he named Bona Vista. On the 9th of July he entered a bay (of New Brunswick) in which he experienced such intense heat that he called it the "Baie des Chaleurs." Passing northwards out of this bay he rounded the peninsula, and on the 24th of July landed on the coast since known as "Gaspé,"—an Indian name for Land's end. There he erected a cross, on which he placed a shield bearing the fleur-de-lis, as emblematical of the new sovereignty of France in America. He then returned to France. In July, 1535, after a tempestuous voyage, he again reached Newfoundland. On the 10th of July he anchored in a bay to which he gave the name of St. Lawrence,—having entered it on the festival of that saint. The name thus given to the little bay has since been applied to the vast gulf and noble river which Cartier was the first European to discover and afterwards explore.

5. Name of Canada.—When Cartier reached Stadacona (Quebec) the Algonquin Indians intimated to him that Kanata,—a collection of wigwams at the native Huron village of Hochelaga (Montreal)—was farther up the river. He probably understood them to apply that word to the whole country lying beyond him. In this way, it is supposed the name Kanata, or Canada, was given to the entire country which Cartier was then engaged in exploring.

6. Other Futile ExpeditionsFeudal System introduced.—During the next fifty years little more was accomplished. But in 1598 the Marquis de la Roche was constituted lieutenant-general of the king, and was invested by him with power to "grant leases of land in New France, in form of fiefs, to men of gentle blood." Thus was the feudal system introduced into Canada. It was modified by Richelieu into a seigniorial tenure, and was not finally abolished until 1854.

7. Commercial Efforts.—Not only did the French fishermen continue to frequent the coast of Newfoundland, but, under the patronage of Henry IV., Dupont Gravé, a merchant of St Malo, and Chauvin, a master-marine of Rouen, made several voyages up the St Lawrence to Tadoussac, and brought home cargoes of the rich furs which had been collected from the north at that place. De Chattes, the governor of Dieppe, formed a company of Rouen and other merchants, to prosecute the work more vigorously.

8. Champlain's Discoveries.—The first expedition to Canada projected by this Company was placed under the command of Samuel de Champlain. In company with Dupont Gravé, he, in 1603-7, explored the St Lawrence from Tadoussac to Three Rivers. On the 3d of July, 1608, he founded the city of Quebec. In 1609 he ascended the river Richelieu, and discovered the beautiful lake since called Champlain. In 1615 he ascended the Ottawa to Lake Nipissing, descended French River to Georgian Bay, and from Lake Simcoe he passed by a long portage to the head-waters of the river Trent, and thence to Lake Ontario.

9. ReversesFurther Explorations.—The Prince de Condé having been appointed viceroy, a new and enlarged company was incorporated under his auspices, and an effort was made to introduce Christianity among the Indians. For this purpose Champlain brought the first missionaries to Canada. These were four Recollet fathers, who accompanied him in 1615.

10. Montreal Founded.Huron War.—M. De Montmagny followed Champlain. During his administration in 1642, Montreal was founded with religious ceremonies under the name of Villa Maria, (Town of Mary,) and soon after, the long threatened war of extermination against the Huron Indians was commenced by the Iroquois. It was to this governor that the Indians first applied the term Onontio, the great mountain—a literal translation of M. de Montmagny's name. The term was afterwards applied to each of the French governors of Canada. On-ti-go-a was the Indian name of the king of France.



1. Proposed Union of the English, French, and Dutch Colonies.—The four New England colonies had, in 1643, formed a union or alliance. It was then proposed that this union should include all the European colonies in America—English, French, and Dutch—whose existence should not be imperilled by the politics or wars of Europe. Each colony was to retain its own laws, customs, religion, and language.

2. Projected Alliance with New England.—With a view to carry out this confederation, Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts wrote to the governors of New Netherlands and New France, or Canada, in 1647. The Dutch governor responded favorably at once, but the French governor delayed doing anything until 1650, when he dispatched Père Druilletes to Boston, to propose as an additional article of union, the stipulation that New England should join Canada against the Iroquois—the French having suffered so severely from the Iroquois in their prosecution of the peltry-traffic. This hostile stipulation on the part of the French, although skillfully presented as a righteous league in defense of Christianity against scoffing pagans, broke off the negotiations. When this proposed arrangement became known to the Iroquois, it exasperated them still more, and they redoubled their efforts to destroy the French colonists, so that for several years the French were virtually kept within their inclosures. Trade entirely languished, and the beavers were allowed to build their dams in peace, none of the colonists being able or willing to molest them.

3. Peace and Progress.—At length, however, a treaty was entered into with the five Iroquois tribes in 1654, and for a time war ceased its alarms. Trade revived, and the peltry-traffic was vigorously prosecuted by the French with such of the Iroquois as were near Canada. The others, however, preferred to trade with the English. During the intervals of war, explorations were made among the Sioux Indians beyond Lake Superior, and also among the Esquimaux. The year 1656 was noted for an overland expedition which was sent from Canada to Hudson Bay by way of Labrador, under Louis Jean Bourdon, attorney-general of New France, to take possession of that territory on behalf of the French King.

4. Royal Government Established.—In 1659, a royal edict was issued regulating the civil government of the colony. The resumption of Royal authority in Canada was made the occasion of introducing various reforms. A "Sovereign Council," invested with administrative and judicial functions, somewhat like the "Parlement de Paris," was instituted at Quebec. Legal tribunals were established, and municipal government in a modified form introduced. The right of taxation was, however, reserved to the king. The administration of government devolved upon a viceroy (who, as colonial minister, generally resided in France,) a governor, and an intendant, or chief of justice.

5. Police and Public Works.West India Company.—With these modifications the king, in 1664, transferred the trading interests of Canada to the West India Company, by whom an ordinance was passed introducing into the colony "the law and customs of Paris," (la coutume de Paris.) With a view to insure harmony in this matter throughout Canada, all other French coutumes were declared illegal in it.

6. Vigorous Administration and Reform.—The new rulers sent out from France in 1665, were men of ability. M. de Tracy was selected by the king as lieutenant-general, M. de Courcelles as governor, and M. Talon as intendant. On their arrival with new emigrants and farming materials, the colony revived. Talon, by authority of the king, carried into effect various useful reforms in the system of government,—especially in regard to the finances, the punishment of peculators, and the reduction of the amount of tithes payable to the clergy. He further sought to encourage both agriculture and manufactures. During his administration the restrictions on trade in Canada, as imposed by the West India Company, were greatly relaxed.

7. Attempted Diversion of the Fur Trade.—The English, having, in 1663, superceded the Dutch in New Amsterdam, (afterwards New York,) pushed their trade northward through the agency of the Iroquois Indians. These allies, anxious to profit by the traffic, sought, in 1670, to obtain furs and skins for the English from the various tribes up the Ottawa, which was then the chief hunting ground of the French Indians.

8. Formation of the Hudson Bay Company.—In the meantime the English obtained a footing in the Hudson Bay territories, under the guidance of des Grosellières, a French pilot, aided by another Franco-Canadian, named Radisson. An English company was formed to trade for furs, under the patronage of Prince Rupert. Charles I., King of England, having claimed the Hudson Bay territories, by virtue of Hudson's discoveries in 1610, granted a charter in 1670 to this company, authorizing it to traffic for furs in that region.

9. Count de Frontenac.—In the year 1672 de Courcelles retired, and Count de Frontenac, a man of great energy and ability arrived. He remained ten years, and was recalled in 1682. In 1672 he built Fort Frontenac (Kingston.) It was rebuilt of stone by La Salle in 1678. Frontenac was re-appointed governor in 1689, and carried on a vigorous war against the English settlements in New York, and against their Indian allies, the Iroquois. The English retaliated, and the Iroquois made various successful inroads into Canada. In 1690 Frontenac defeated Sir William Phipps and the English fleet, before Quebec. He died greatly regretted in 1698, aged 78 years. Though naturally haughty, he was an able and enterprising man.

10. Spirit of Discovery and Adventure.—Nothing was so remarkable, during the early settlement of Canada, as the spirit of adventure and discovery which was then developed. Zeal for the conversion of the Indians seems to have inspired the Jesuit clergy with an unconquerable devotion to the work of exploration and discovery. Nor were they alone in this respect, for laymen exhibited the same adventurous spirit in encountering peril and hardship. From the first settlement of Quebec, in 1608, until its fall in 1759, this spirit of discovery and dominion was actively fostered by each succeeding governor, until there radiated from that city a series of French settlements which stretched from the St. Lawrence to the far West, and from the sources of the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, and even to the shores of South America.

11. Summary of Discoveries.—After Champlain, other explorers extended their researches westward. In 1640 the southern shores of Lake Erie were visited by Pères Chaumonot and Breboeuf. In 1647, Père de Quesne went up the Saguenay and discovered Lake St. John. In 1651, 1661, and 1671, expeditions were sent northwards towards the Hudson Bay, with more or less success. In 1646, Père Druilletes ascended the Chaudière, and descended the Kennebec to the Atlantic. In 1659, the Sioux were visited by adventurous traders, and in 1660 Père Mesnard reached Lake Superior. In 1665, Père Alloüez coasted the same lake, and formed a mission at the Bay of Che-goi-megon. In 1668, Pères Dablon and Marquette formed a settlement of Sault Ste. Marie. In 1670 and 1672 Alloüez penetrated, with Dablon, to the Illinois region, where they first heard of the mysterious Mississippi,—the "great father of waters."

12. La Salle's Expeditions to the Mississippi.—Fired with the news of this notable discovery, Sieur de la Salle, a French knight, then at Quebec, determined to complete the discovery. He sought to reach China by the way of Canada. His design was frustrated by an accident at a place since called Lachine, or China. He explored the Mississippi from its source to its month in 1678-80; spent two years between Frontenac (Kingston) and Lake Erie, and constructed the first vessel on Lake Erie (near Cayuga Creek.) He sought to reach the Mississippi by sea, but, having failed, he sought to reach it overland. In doing so he was murdered by his jealous followers who, afterwards, justly suffered great hardships. Père Hennepin, a Recollet Franciscan friar emigrated to Canada in 1675. He accompanied La Salle in his exploration of the Mississippi in 1678, and visited the Falls of Niagara,—of which he wrote an interesting account.

13. Failure to restrict the Peltry Traffic to the Region of the St. Lawrence.—Great efforts were made by the French to restrict the traffic in beaver-skins and peltry within their own territories. They at one time interdicted trade with the Anglo-Iroquois—then they made them presents;—again they threatened them—made war upon them—invaded and desolated their villages;—they made treaties with them, and urged and entreated the Dutch and English to restrain them, and even sought to make the latter responsible for their acts;—but all in vain. As the tide rolled slowly in upon them, and the English, (who were always heralded by the Iroquois,) advanced northwards and westwards to the St. Lawrence and the great lakes, the French still gallantly holding possession of their old trading-forts, also pressed forward before them and occupied new ground.

14. Armed Trading Posts.—With sagacious foresight, the French, in addition to a regular fort at Quebec, erected, from time to time, palisaded inclosures round their trading posts at Tadoussac, at Sorel, and the Falls of Chambly (on the Iroquois, or Richelieu River) at Three Rivers, Montreal, and Cataraqui (Kingston.) Subsequently, and as a counterpoise to the encroachments of the English, they erected palisaded posts at Niagara, Toronto, Detroit, and at Sault Ste. Marie and Mich-il-i-mack-i-nac. Nor were the English idle. Creeping gradually up the Hudson river, they erected armed trading-posts at Albany, and at various points along the Mohawk valley, until, at length, in 1727, they fearlessly threw up a fort at Oswego, on Lake Ontario, midway between the French trading posts of Frontenac and Niagara.

15. The Cause of the Incessant Disputes and Wars must be looked for in the mutual determination of the French and English colonists to secure an exclusive right to carry on a traffic for furs with the Indian tribes. Territorial extension, no less than national resentment between the French and English colonists, gave intensity of feeling to the contest, and contributed to its duration. In their efforts to force the traffic into unnatural channels, the plans of the French were not only counteracted by the energy of the English traders, but they were even thwarted in them by separate classes among themselves—each having different interests to serve, but all united in their secret opposition to the government.

16. The Three Classes of French Fur Traders were; 1, the Indians; 2, the trading officials; and 3, the coureurs de bois ("runners of the wood," or white trappers.) As to the first class, (the Indians of these vast territories,) they were ever proud of their unfettered forest life, and naturally disdained to be bound by the artificial trammels of the white man. The second class, (the officials of New France,) were secretly in league with the coureurs de bois against the king's revenue agents—their exaction and their exclusive privileges. The third or intermediary class of traders, or factors, (the coureurs de bois,) sought in every way to evade the jurisdiction of the farmers of the revenue at Quebec. Their own reckless and daring mode of life among the Indians in the woods, far from the seat of official influence and power, gave them peculiar facilities for doing so.

17. Various ameliorations.—During a peaceful interval, M. de Vaudreuil, the governor, set himself to develop the resources of the country, and to foster education among the people. He subdivided the three governments of Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal, into eighty-two parishes, and took a census of the people.

18. Maritime Defense of New France.—To provide for the maritime defense of Canada, (which, as yet, had no protection to the seaward,) France, in 1713, colonized the island of Cape Breton, and, in 1720, strongly fortified Louisbourg its capital, at great expense.

19. Pepperrell's Expedition from New England.—In 1745 war again broke out. From Crown Point, on Lake Champlain, the French and their Indian allies successfully attacked the English settlements; and from Louisbourg a host of French privateers sallied forth to harrass the commerce of Nova Scotia and New England. Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts, aided by the other colonies, at once sent an expedition under William Pepperrell for the reduction of this stronghold. It was highly successful, and Pepperrell was rewarded with a baronetcy. Nothing daunted, a fleet, under the Duke d' Anville, was dispatched from France to recapture Louisbourg. But having been dispersed by a tempest, it never reached its destination.

20. Proposed Federal Union of the Colonies, 1753-4.—With a view to concerted action against the French, the lords of trade suggested to the colonies the formation of a league with the Indians, which in its structure should be an enlargement of the Iroquois confederacy. Shirley, the indefatigable governor of Massachusetts, conceived the bolder project of an alliance among the colonies themselves, for the purposes of mutual defense. Neither schemes were, however, adopted, but the germ of such a colonial union was subsequently developed at the time of the American revolution.

21. Capture of Quebec.—The incessant trading disputes which had lasted for years between the English and the French ultimately culminated, in 1759, in that decisive contest between them on the Plains of Abraham. And thus, in the memorable fall of Quebec, fell also, in Canada, (although the after-struggle was protracted for a year,) that imperial power which, for more than one hundred and fifty years, had ruled the colonial destinies of New France.

22. Fall of French Power.—Thus, after years of heroic struggle—with scant means of defense against powerful rival colonists and a relentless Indian enemy,—the first promoters of European civilization and enterprise in Canada were compelled to give place to a more aggressive race. But they did so with honor. And little did those think who were then the victors over so brave an enemy in Canada, that, within twenty years from that event their own proud flag would be ignominiously lowered at the seat of their own power at New York, as well as at every other fort and military post within the thirteen American colonies.

23. The Treaty of Paris, 1763.—By this treaty France ceded to England the whole of her possessions in North America, with the exception of Louisiana and the small fishing islands of St. Pierre and Micquelon (off the coast of Newfoundland.)

24. The French and English Colonial Systems Contrasted.—The return to France of the French military officers and troops, as well as of many of the chief inhabitants, was encouraged by the English, who were anxious thus quietly to rid themselves of a powerful antagonistic element in their newly acquired possession. They well knew that the process of assimilation between the two races so long arrayed in hostility to each other, would be very slow indeed.

25. System of Government in the French Colony.—The French colony, in its relations to the Imperial government, was as a child of the State. Every thing in it was subject to political influence or official surveillance, while religious matters were subject to vigorous ecclesiastical control. Two principal objects engrossed the attention of the French colonists,—the extension of the peltry traffic, and the conversion of the Indian tribes. As a means of carrying out these two great projects, exploration and discovery formed a chief feature of French colonial life.

26. System of Government in the English Colony.—In the English colony, the government, on the contrary, partook rather of the nature of a civil and social bond between the governing and the governed. It interfered as little as possible in matters of trade. Hence exploration and discovery within the colony formed but a subordinate part of the objects and pursuits of the English colonist. When, therefore, the rival colonists came into contact, it was rather in a struggle for enlarged boundaries for trade, or for dominion over rival Indian tribes, and for the monopoly of the fur trade. That contest, although it was too often utterly selfish in its objects, nevertheless unconsciously developed in both colonies, in a wonderful degree, a spirit of enterprise and discovery, which has scarcely had a parallel in later times, when steam and electricity have added, as it were, wings to man's locomotive and physical power.



1. British Rule Inaugurated—In 1763 General Murray was appointed the first governor of the new British Province of Quebec,—the boundaries of which were contracted by the separation from it of New Brunswick, Labrador, &c. The old district divisions of Quebec, Montreal, and Three Rivers were, however, retained, and a subordinate governor appointed over the two outlying districts of Montreal and Three Rivers.

2. State of Canada at this Time.—The population of Canada at this time was about 80,000, including nearly 8,000 Indians. The country, however, had been exhausted by desolating wars, and agriculture and other peaceful arts languished. The failure of the French Government to pay its Canadian creditors the sums due to them, (chiefly through the fraud, rapacity, and extravagance of the Intendant Bigot,) involved many of these creditors in misery and ruin.

3. Ameliorations in the System of Government Discussed.—In 1766 Governor Murray was recalled, and General (Sir Guy) Carleton appointed Governor General. Sir Guy Carleton (afterwards Lord Dorchester) had taken a prominent part in the siege and capture of Quebec, under Wolfe, in 1759; and, during Governor Murray's absence in 1767 he administered the government. Being in England in 1770, he aided in the passage of the first Quebec Act. In 1774 he became Governor-General, and successfully resisted the attack of the Americans upon Quebec in 1776. In 1778 he returned to England and was knighted by the king. In 1782 he succeeded Sir Henry Clinton as commander-in chief of the royal forces in America. In 1786 he was created Lord Dorchester for his distinguished services; and from that time (with the exception of two years) he remained in Canada for the long period of thirty-six years. During that time he acquired great distinction as a colonial governor by his prudence, firmness, and sagacity.

4. The Quebec Act.—In 1774 the Quebec Act was passed as a conciliatory measure by the Imperial Parliament. It provided, among other things, for the "free exercise" of the Roman Catholic religion—for the establishment of a Legislative Council, and for the introduction of the criminal law of England into the province; but it declared "that in regard to property and civil rights, resort should be had to the laws of Canada as the rule for the decision of the same." Thus, the enjoyment of their religion, and protection under the civil laws of French Canada were confirmed to the inhabitants by Imperial statute, and a system of local self-government was introduced. The act gave satisfaction to the French Canadians; and, at a time when the old English colonies were wavering in their attachment to the British crown, it confirmed them in their allegiance to the king.

5. Efforts of the Disaffected colonists to Detach the Canadians from England.—In 1774, the assembly, from Massachusetts, requested a meeting of representatives from all the colonies to concert measures of resistance to England. Each of the thirteen old colonies, except Georgia, sent delegates. Canada declined to take any part in the revolt; and although one of the three addresses issued by the insurgent Congress was especially addressed to the Canadians, they declined to repudiate their formal allegiance to the British Crown. Strong efforts were also made by the Americans to detach the Iroquois (under Brant) from the British standard, but without effect.

6. Constitutional Changes—Clergy Reserves.—In 1789, the draft of a new constitution for Canada was prepared. It proposed to divide the province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada; to give to each section a Legislative Council and House of Assembly, with a local government of its own. This celebrated constitutional act was passed in 1791. By it representative government, in a modified form, was for the first time introduced into the two Canadas simultaneously, and gave very great satisfaction. In the same year the famous Clergy Reserve Act was passed in England. This act set apart one seventh of the unsurveyed lands of the Province, "for the support of a Protestant Clergy," and authorized the governor of either Province to establish rectories and endow them. This act became afterwards a fruitful source of agitation and discontent in Upper Canada.

7. Parliamentary Government Inaugurated.—In June, 1792, the first parliamentary elections were held in Lower Canada, fifty members were returned. The Legislative Council, appointed by the Crown, consisted of fifteen members. On the 17th of December the new Legislature was opened by General Alured Clarke, the Lieutenant-Governor. Eight acts were passed by both houses. During the second session five bills were passed. The revenue of Lower Canada this year was only $25,000. During the third session, of 1795, accounts of the revenue and expenditure, which had now reached $42,000, were first laid before the Legislature. Of the customs revenue, Upper Canada was only entitled to one eighth.

8. Settlement of Upper Canada.—As Upper Canada was chiefly settled by United Empire Loyalists (to whom the British Government had liberally granted land and subsistence for two years,) it was deemed advisable to confer upon these settlers a form of government, similar to that which they had formerly enjoyed. In 1788 Lord Dorchester divided Upper Canada into four districts, viz.: Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nassau, and Hesse. In 1792, the Legislature changed these names into Eastern, Midland, Home and Western. These districts were afterwards divided, and their number increased; but they were abolished in 1849.

9. The First Upper Canada Parliament was opened at Newark (Niagara) on the 17th of September, 1792, by Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe. The House of Assembly consisted of only sixteen members, and the Legislative Council of seven. Eight bills were passed—one of which provided for the introduction of the English Civil Law. Trial by jury was also specially introduced, by statute, in that year. The English Criminal Law was also (as it stood in 1792) made the law of the land in Upper Canada.

10. Slavery Abolished.—In 1793, Slavery was abolished in Upper Canada; and in 1803, Chief Justice Osgoode decided that it was incompatible with the laws of Lower Canada.

11. The Seat of Government in Upper Canada was, in 1796, removed from Newark (Niagara,) to York (Toronto) by Governor Simcoe.

12. Progress of Affairs.—From 1796 to 1810 little of public or historical interest occurred in Canada. The local discussions related chiefly to abuses in land-granting by the government, the application of the forfeited Jesuit estates to the founding of a Royal Institution for the promotion of public education in Lower Canada, and the establishment of Grammar Schools in Upper Canada. Efforts were also made to improve the navigation of the lower St. Lawrence, to regulate the currency, extend the postal communication, ameliorate the prison system, promote shipping and commerce. Soon after, the war of 1812 took place.

13. Conditions of the Provinces at the Close of the War.—Although the war of 1812 lasted only three years, it left Upper and Lower Canada very much exhausted. It, however, developed the patriotism and loyalty of the people in the two provinces in a very high degree.

14. Political Discussions in Upper and Lower Canada.—The distracting influences of the war having gradually ceased, political discussions soon occupied public attention. In Lower Canada, a protracted contest arose between the Legislative assembly and the Executive Government, chiefly on the subject of the finances and political rights. In Upper Canada an almost similar contest arose between the same parties in the state; while the abuses arising out of an irresponsible system of government were warmly discussed and denounced. Nevertheless, progress was made in many important directions. Emigration was encouraged; wild lands surveyed; commercial intercourse with other colonies facilitated; banking privileges extended; the system of public improvements (canals, roads, &c.) inaugurated. Steamboats were employed to navigate the inland waters; primary and higher education encouraged, and religious liberty asserted as the inherent right of all religious persuasions.

15. Political Crisis.—Remedy.—The political discussions culminated, at length, in 1837, into armed resistance. This however was soon put down; and Lord Durham was sent out from England to inquire into the grievances complained of. His mission resulted in their removal, and in 1840 the two provinces were reunited under one government.

16. Political Progress.—Lord Sydenham was sent out as Governor General to inaugurate and carry the union into effect. Under his administration the foundation of many of the most important civil institutions were laid, especially those relating to the municipal system, popular education, the customs, currency, &c.

17. Lord Elgin.—From this period until 1847, when the distinguished Lord Elgin became Governor General, the political and material progress of the Province was marked and steady. In the discharge of the duties of his high office Lord Elgin exhibited a comprehensiveness of mind and a singleness of purpose which gave dignity to his administration, and divested the settlement of the various questions of much party bitterness and strife. Under his auspices, responsible government was fully carried out, and every reasonable cause of complaint removed. The consequence was that contentment, peace and prosperity became almost universal throughout Canada. During his period of office the Grand Trunk and Great Western Railways were projected, a free banking law was passed, a uniform letter postage rate of five cents was adopted, and the number of representatives in Parliament increased. He also procured the passage of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States, (since abrogated.) He fostered the systems of public instruction in Upper and Lower Canada, and greatly promoted their popularity and success by the aid of his graceful eloquence.

18. Sir Edmund Head succeeded Lord Elgin in 1854. His administration was noted for the final settlement of the Clergy Reserve question in Upper Canada, and of the Seigniorial Tenure question in Lower Canada; also for the completion of the Grand Trunk Railway to Rivière du Loup, and of its splendid Victoria Bridge over the St. Lawrence river at Montreal. In 1851, 1861, and 1863 Canada distinguished herself in the great International Exhibitions held in London, Paris and Dublin. In 1856, the Legislative Council was made elective; and the laws of the province consolidated. In the same year a Canadian line of ocean steamers was established; a decimal system of currency, with appropriate coins, was introduced; the handsome Parliament and Toronto University buildings were commenced; in 1860 the memorable visit of the Prince of Wales to British America took place; and in 1864 the project of Confederation was discussed.



1. Nova Scotia, formerly called Acadie, was settled by the French under De Monts, in 1604; ceded to England in 1713; colonized in 1748-9; a constitution was granted in 1758; in 1784 it was modified. Cape Breton was taken from France by England in 1758; ceded formally to her in 1763; annexed to Nova Scotia in the same year; separated from it in 1784, and re-annexed again in 1819.

2. Political and Commercial Progress.—In 1820 efforts were first formally made to protect the English fisheries on the Nova Scotia coast. In 1823 the Roman Catholics were admitted to the full enjoyment of equal civil privileges with other denominations. In 1824-28 the Shubenacadie canal, designed to connect Halifax with Cobequid Bay, was commenced, and a line of stages between Halifax and Annapolis established.

3. Responsible Government.—In 1838 a deputation from Nova Scotia was sent to confer with Lord Durham, the Governor General at Quebec, on a proposed change in the constitution. In 1848 a system of government, responsible to the Legislature, as in Canada, was introduced. In 1851 further efforts were made to protect the fisheries; and, in 1852, a Provincial force, auxiliary to the Imperial, was placed under the direction of the British Admiral for that purpose. Afterwards a fishing and reciprocity treaty was made with the United States, but it was abrogated by that country in 1866.

4. Confederation in Nova Scotia.—In 1860 His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, visited Nova Scotia. In addition to the other valuable minerals, gold was discovered in 1861. In 1864 Nova Scotia united with the other colonies in the consideration of a scheme for the confederation of all the provinces of British North America under one government. With that view a meeting of delegates from each province was held at Charlottetown, Halifax, and Quebec. Resolutions approving of confederation were passed by the Nova Scotia Legislature in 1866, and a feeling in favor of it exists in Nova Scotia, although the scheme is now strongly opposed by many of the people there, headed by the Hon. Joseph Howe, her leading statesman.

5. New Brunswick.—In 1713, this Province, being part of the French colony of Acadie, was, by treaty, ceded to the British Crown. This transfer was finally confirmed by another treaty in 1763. In 1785, New Brunswick, then the county of Sunbury, (Nova Scotia,) was, by an act of the Imperial Parliament, separated from Nova Scotia, and erected into a distinct Province. It was named New Brunswick, after Brunswick in Lower Saxony, in Germany, the place of residence, up to 1714, of the present royal family of England.

6. Ashburton Treaty, &c.—In 1842 a treaty was negotiated between Great Britain and the United States by Lord Ashburton. By it the disputed boundary between Maine and New Brunswick was settled. This territory contained 12,000 square miles, or 7,700,000 acres. Maine received 4,500,000 acres, and New Brunswick 3,200,000.

7. Responsible Government, similar to that in the other provinces, was introduced in 1848. Since then the Province has increased in wealth, population, and importance.

8. Confederation in New Brunswick.—During 1864-6 the project of confederating the Provinces of British America was discussed in New Brunswick, and in each province. The result was that in 1867 a basis of union was formally submitted to the British Parliament and passed into law.



1. History of Confederation.—The germ of confederation, (as we have seen in the rapid glance which we have taken,) may be traced in the efforts which were made from time to time, by the colonies themselves, to overcome the weakness of their isolated position, and to concentrate their energies and resources for the purpose of mutual defense. (1) The first step in this direction was the union of the New England colonies in 1643, and (2) in the projected league between the Dutch, English, and French Colonies in 1647-50. (3) The celebrated confederated league which existed among the Iroquois until 1780 was a remarkable instance of the sagacious instinct of this brave and noble people to maintain their power, and to perpetuate their existence. (4) The project of an extension of this league so as to include in it the English Colonies (with the Iroquois) was urged by the Lords of Trade in 1753; (5) Governor Shirley of Massachusetts, however, conceived the bolder plan of a federal union between all the British Colonists themselves for the purpose of mutual defense. (6) Neither scheme succeeded at that time; but it was afterwards fully developed in the memorable union of the thirteen insurgent colonies in 1776. (7) In 1784 it was mooted, when New Brunswick was separated from Nova Scotia. (8) In 1800, Hon. R. J. Uniacke of Nova Scotia brought the matter under the notice of the Imperial authorities. (9) In 1814, Chief Justice Sewell of Quebec wrote a letter to the Duke of Kent, while in Nova Scotia, advocating a union of the provinces. (10) In 1822, Sir J. B. Robinson, of Toronto, while in England, submitted to the colonial office, by request, a scheme of union. (11) In 1825 the noted Robert Gourley, of Canada, in a letter from London, recommended a scheme of confederation. (12) In 1838 a deputation from Nova Scotia brought the matter before the Earl of Durham, Lord High Commissioner, in a conference with them on the political state of that province. (13) In the same year, Bishop Strachan of Toronto also urged the expediency "of consolidating the provinces into one territory or kingdom," on Lord Durham's attention. (14) Lord Durham himself also favored the plan of a single "ruled government" over that of a "federal union." (15) In 1840 the union of the Canadas too, (16) and in 1843 Elliot Warburton in his "Hochelaga," advocated an extension of the principle to other colonies. (17) In 1849 the British American Conservative League advocated "colonial union." (18) In 1851 Col. Rankin, of the Canadian Parliament, in an address to his constituents, and in 1856 in a speech before the House, urged a "union of colonies." (19) In 1858 the Hon. A. T. Galt, finance minister of Canada, renewed the project; (20) and in the same year the governor-general recommended it in a speech from the throne. (21) In 1864-6 the present confederate scheme was discussed at meetings of delegates from all the provinces, at Charlottetown, Prince Edward's Island, and at Halifax and Quebec, and finally assented to by the British Parliament in 1867.

2. Principle of Confederation.—This act of confederation provides for the union of the four provinces of Ontario, (Upper Canada) Quebec, (Lower Canada) Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, into one Dominion, with the seat of government at Ottawa. The Executive Government consists of a Governor-general, and a Privy Council of 13 members. The Legislature consists of three branches, viz., the Governor-general, 72 senators, and 181 members of the House of Commons. Each Province retains its own Local Government, viz., Lieutenant-governor, Legislative Council, and House of Assembly. (Ontario alone has no legislative council.)

3. To the Central Legislature belongs the right to deal with all matters relating to the Public Debt and Property; the regulation of trade and commerce; the raising of money by any mode or system of taxation; the borrowing of money on public credit; postal service; the census and statistics; militia, military and naval service, and defense; the fixing of and providing for the salaries and allowances of civil and other officers of the Government of Canada; construction of beacons, buoys, lighthouses, navigation and shipping, quarantine, and the establishment and maintenance of marine hospitals; sea-coast and inland fisheries; ferries between a Province and a British or foreign country, or between two provinces; currency and coinage, banking, incorporation of banks, and the issue of paper money, savings banks, bills of exchange and promissory notes, interest, legal tender, bankruptcy and insolvency; weights and measures; patents of invention and discovery; copyrights; Indians, and lands reserved for the Indians; naturalization and aliens; marriage and divorce; the criminal law, except the constitution of courts of criminal jurisdiction, but including the procedure in criminal matters; the establishment, maintenance, and management of penitentiaries; and such classes of subjects as are expressly excepted in the enumeration of the classes of subjects by the act assigned exclusively to the legislatures of the provinces.

4. To the Local Legislatures belong matters relating to the provincial government and revenue; public lands; education; reformatories and prisons; municipal institutions; trading licenses; local public works; agriculture; property and civil rights in the province; marriage; and the administration of justice; and "generally all matters of a merely local or private nature in the province."

5. Financial Arrangements.—The Dominion is made liable for the debts of all the provinces; and these provinces are held liable to the Dominion in the following ratio—interest payable at the rate of five per cent, per annum.

Ontario and Quebecfor any debt over$62,500,000
Nova Scotia,ditto,8,000,000
New Brunswick,ditto,7,000,000


The payments to these provinces from the Dominion government are as follows:—

Province of Ontario$80,000per annum.
Province of Quebec70,000do.
Province of Nova Scotia60,000do.
Province of New Brunswick50,000—and $63,000 ...

... for ten years, (on account of her small debt.) Each province is also entitled to 80 cents per head of the population as per census of 1861.

6. Intercolonial Trade and Customs.—All articles of the growth, produce or manufacture of any one of the provinces are admitted free into each of the other provinces. Only one tariff of customs and excise shall prevail in all the provinces.

7. Intercolonial Railway.—The interest on a loan of £3,000,000 is guaranteed by the British Government. This loan is to be expended in the construction of a railway to connect Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with Quebec and Ontario.

8. Progress of Population in the Dominion.—The following table exhibits the progress of population in the four provinces of the Dominion.


Nova Scotia{20,00057,000150,000165,584165,273330,857370,000
New Brunswick 10,00075,000129,948123,099252,017296,000


9. The present Political Divisions of the whole of British North America are as follows:—



Name of Province.Discoverer and Date.Mode of Acquisition and Date.Government Established.
Quebec.Jacques Cartier, 1535Capitulation, 1759French, 1608; English, 1764; separ. gov'mt, 1792; united, 1840
OntarioChamplain, 1615Cession, 1763Separ. gov't, 1748;
Nova Scotia{Sebastian Cabot, 1498Cabot's visit and treaty of 1713{Sep. gov't, 1784; united, 1819
Cape Breton Capitulation, 1758
New Brunswick.Jacques Cartier, 1535Treaty, 1763Separ. governm't, 1784


Name of Province.Discoverer and Date.Mode of Acquisition and Date.Government Established.
Prince Edward IslandSebastian Cabot, 1498Treaty, 1763Separate gov't, 1771
NewfoundlandSir John Cabot, 1497Sir H. Gilbert, 1583
Utrecht treaty, 1713
By Charles I., 1663;
separate gov't, 1728
Hudson Bay TerritoryH. Hudson, 1619 & 1794Treaty, 1713 & 1763Charter, 1670 and license, 1821 & 1842
Red RiverCanada ExplorersLord Selkirk's settlement, 1811Crown Colony, 186-
British ColumbiaSir A. Mackenzie, 1793Treaty, 1793Act of Parliament,
Vancouver IslandSir F. Drake, 1759V'couver's visit, 1799
settled, 1848
Charter to Hudson Bay Co. 1849


10. The extent, population, and capitals of these divisions of British North America are as follows:—



Name of Provinces.Area in Eng. sq. Miles.Population.Capital.Where Situated.Population.
Quebec210,0001,111,566Quebec.}Ottawa.St Lawrence62,140
Ontario150,0001,396,091Toronto. Lake Ontario44,425
Nova Scotia & C. B.19,650330,857Halifax. S. E. Coast26,000
New Brunswick27,710252,047Fredericton. River St. John7,000


Name of Provinces.Area in Eng. sq. Miles.Population.Capital.Where Situated.Population.
Prince Edward Island2,13480,857CharlottetownNear centre of island6,700
Newfoundland57,000124,288St. JohnsS. E. Peninsula25,000
Hudson Bay Territory2,200,000175,000York FactoryHayes' River500
Red River...10,000Fort GarryAssiniboine, Red River...
British Columbia210,5008,000} VictoriaS. of island3,500
Vancouver Island18,00011,463


11. The general area of these divisions of British North America is as follows:—



key = A Average length in miles; B Average width in miles; C Miles of Sea-coast lines; D Area in Acres E Acres in Cultivation; F Surveyed Acres uncultivated; G Value of Farms.

Ontario. 6,051,6207,304,000296,000,000
Nova Scotia.}3301001,15013,534,2001,028,0321,000,00040,000,000
Cape Breton.
New Brunswick.19015050017,600,000835,1082,905,00032,000,000


key = A Average length in miles; B Average width in miles; C Miles of Sea-coast lines; D Area in Acres E Acres in Cultivation; F Surveyed Acres uncultivated; G Value of Farms.

Prince Edward Island.130403501,370,000268,127260,0008,000,000
Hudson Bay Ter.} ......1,500............
Red River.
British Columbia.450250900136,640,00026,50073,000500,000
Vancouver Island.278558508,320,00017,00063,000300,000


12. Value of Products.—The estimated quantity and value of the products of the four provinces in the Dominion is as follows:—[A]


Grain, viz.Wheat,30,000,000bushels.    
"Indian Corn,3,000,000"    
"Rye,2,000,000"97,000,000bushels,valued at$60,000,000
Peas, &c.,15,000,000dittoditto12,000,000
Roots, viz.Potatoes,50,000,000"    
"Turnips, &c.25,000,000"75,000,000dittoditto25,000,000
Butter and Cheese,75,000,000lbsditto10,000,000
Meats, viz.Mutton,250,000,000lbs.    
Lumber, viz.Oak,1,500,000cubic feet.    
"White Pine25,000,000"    
"Red Pine,4,000,000"    
"Tamarack &
"Miscellaneous,1,000,000"35,000,000cubic feet,30,000,000
Grand Total,$210,500,000

Year Book of Canada for 1868, page 40.


13. The Income, Expenditure &c., of each province in the Dominion, during the last year of their separate existence, was about as follows:—


Items.Quebec and Ontario.Nova Scotia.New Brunswick.


15. Recent Example of Confederation of States.—It is a striking fact that during the last few years a more general and rapid confederation of States has taken place, than had occurred during the whole of the preceding century. Not to mention the absorption of the native states in India under British rule, we have seen how rapid has been the consolidation of Italy into one kingdom. Later, there took place in the United States a memorable contest against a principle of separation of States. Within the last year or two, the fate of one noted battle led to the absorption by Prussia of a number of petty States in Germany; and now guided by an unerring instinct four large provinces of British America have confederated themselves together into one Dominion.

16. The Objects and Advantages of such a confederation may be stated in a few words: It has long been the desire of the sagacious statesmen of the Dominion to concentrate the resources and energies of the isolated provinces into a powerful and prosperous State, and thus to give free scope, on a wider and broader field, for the enterprise and talent of a young and growing people; to enable them to present a bold and united front against aggression or absorption, by an active and powerful rival; to develop internal trade and commerce; to bring into settlement and productive life large tracts of outlying territory, now a vast uninhabited forest, in the various provinces; and, as was fitting, at this period in the history of the provinces, to lay broad and deep the foundation of a new nationality, whose heritage and birthright are the priceless blessings of civil and religious freedom, as long felt and enjoyed in England and in these provinces.—A nationality whose future should witness the consolidation and growth, on this continent, of those principles of British colonial freedom which are so eminently calculated to promote internal peace and prosperity, and, under God's blessing, the enjoyment also of "life and liberty," as well as "the pursuit of happiness," among all classes of people.


The business of the historian of the earlier ages of the world was to record changes in forms of government, to give accounts of long and bloody wars, and to narrate the rise or fall of dynasties and empires. From the days of Herodotus, to the middle of the last century, the world made little progress. It is true, that great empires rose one after another upon the ruins of their predecessors; but so far from there being any thing like real progress, the reverse seems to have been the case. It has remained for the present age to witness a rapid succession of important inventions and improvements, by means of which the power of man over nature has been incalculably increased, and resulting in an unparalleled progress of the human race.

But great as has been the movement in the world at large, it is on the North American continent that this has been most remarkable. The rise of the United States, from a few feeble colonies to a high rank among nations, has never ceased to attract the attention of the world; and their career has been indeed so wonderful, that the quiet but equally rapid growth and development of the British North American provinces has received comparatively little notice. It will be seen from the following pages that they have at least kept pace with their powerful southern neighbors, and that, though laboring under some disadvantages, they have in eighty years increased tenfold, not only in population but in wealth; they have attained to a point of power that more than equals that of the united colonies when they separated from the mother country. They have, by means of canals, made their great rivers and remote inland seas accessible to the shipping of Europe; they have constructed a system of railroads far surpassing those of some of the European powers; they have established an educational system which is behind none in the old or the new world; they have developed vast agricultural and inexhaustible mineral resources; they have done enough, in short, to indicate a magnificent future—enough to point to a progress which shall place the provinces, within the days of many now living, on a level with Great Britain herself, in population, in wealth, and in power. If in the next eighty years the provinces should prosper as they have in the eighty years that are past, which there seems no reason to doubt, a nation of forty millions will have arisen in the North.

To exhibit this progress is the object of the present volume. It will be seen, from the well-known names of the gentlemen who have contributed to its pages, that a high order of talent has been secured to carry out the design of the work.


Physical Features of Canada13
Agricultural History of Canada32
Agricultural Societies in Upper Canada39
Agricultural Productions of Canada52
Forest Industry64
The North-west Territory74
The New Parliament Buildings at Ottawa94

By Henry Youle Hind, M. A., F. R. G. S., Professor of Chemistry and Geology in Trinity College, Toronto; Author of Narrative of the Canadian Exploring Expedition in North-west British America; Explorations in Labrador, and in the Country of the Montagnais and Nasquapee Indians; Editor of the British American Magazine, and of the Journal of the Board of Arts for Upper Canada.

Travel and Transportation99
    Roads in Lower Canada104
    Roads in Upper Canada109
    Bridle and Winter Roads116
    Corduroy Roads119
    Common or Graded Roads120
    Turnpike and Plank Roads122
    Macadam Roads123
    Water Communications129
    Ocean Steamers141
    Early Navigation of the St. Lawrence146
    Railways in Canada187
    Grand Trunk Railway197
    Causes of Failure of the Grand Trunk Railway206
    Municipal Railways214
    Railway Morality221
    Great Western Railway229
    Buffalo, Brantford, and Goderich Railway234
    Grain Portage Railways236
    Intercolonial Railway238
    Railway Policy247
    Express Companies250
    Canadian Gauge253
    Horse Railways255

By Thos. C. Keefer, Civil Engineer, Author of "Philosophy of Railroads," Prize Essay on the Canals of Canada, &c.

    Victoria Bridge257
    The Electric Telegraph in Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick266
Commerce and Trade268
    Early Trade of Canada268
    Fur Trade275
    Ship-Building and Lumber Trade284
    Produce Trade290
    Present Trade of Canada292
    The Reciprocity Treaty296
    Channels of Trade298
    Free Grants of Land and Colonization303

By Henry Youle Hind, M. A., F. R. G. S., &c.

Mineral Resources of British North America308
    Geological Structure of Canada310
    Catalogue of useful Minerals found in Canada313
    Mineral Resources of Nova Scotia350
    Mineral Resources of New Brunswick360
    Mineral Resources of Newfoundland363
    Mineral Resources of British Columbia and Vancouver Island365
    Mineral Resources of the North-west Territory371

By Charles Robb, Mining Engineer, Author of "The Metals in Canada," &c.

Historical Sketch of Education in Upper Canada373
    Early Educational Efforts374
    Educational Legislation, 1806-1816381
    First Establishment of Common Schools, 1816-1822384
    Fitful Progress from 1822 to 1836390
    Parliamentary Inquiry and its Results, 1836-1843395
    Improvement, Change, and Progress, from 1844 to 1853399
    Higher and Intermediate Education, &c., 1853-1861401
    Summary of each Class of Educational Institutions407
    Public Elementary Schools receiving Legislative Aid409
    Elementary Schools not receiving Legislative Aid430
    Superior Schools receiving Legislative Aid431
    Superior Schools not receiving Public Aid433
    Professional Schools435
    Universities—Supplementary Elementary Educational Agencies467
    Other Supplementary Educational Agencies468
    Additional Supplementary Aids to Education476
    Educational Endowments for Upper Canada477
Historical Sketch of Education in Lower Canada485
    Early Educational Efforts in Lower Canada, 1632-1759485
    State of Education from the Conquest, 1759, until 1800488
    Unfulfilled Promises and Failures, 1801-1818491
    Common School Legislation, 1819-1835495
    Final Educational Measures of the Lower Canada Legislature499
    A New Foundation Laid—First Steps onward, 1841-1855503
    Normal Schools—Renewed Activity and Progress, 1856-1862506
    Classical and Industrial Colleges523
    Academies for Boys and Girls530
    Normal Schools—Professional or Special Schools532
    Model, Elementary, and Private Schools, &c.533
    Educational Communities, Societies, and School Organizations534
    Supplementary Elementary Educational Agencies538, 539
    Educational Statistics and Parliamentary Grants540, 541

By J. George Hodgins LL. B., F. R. G. S., Author of the "Geography and History of British North America," "Lovell's General Geography," &c.

The Progress of New Brunswick, with a Brief View of its Resources, Natural and Industrial542
    Sketch of the Early History of New Brunswick542
    Descriptive and Statistical Account552
    The Forest561
    The Fisheries574
    Geology of the Province585
    Mines, Minerals and Quarries590
    Mills and Manufactures599
    Internal Communication600
    Electric Telegraph Lines605
    Commerce and Navigation606
    Form of Government609
    Judicial Institutions610
    Tenure of Land and Law of Inheritance612
    Religious Worship and Means of Education613
    Civil List, Revenue, and Expenditures617
    Banks for Savings; Value of Coins; Rate of Interest618
    General Information for Immigrants619
    Fruits and Vegetables623
    Wild Beasts and Game—Aborigines624
    Natural Resources626
    Progress of Population—Description of Counties627

By M. H. Perley, Esq., British Commissioner for the North American Fisheries, under the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States.

The Progress of Nova Scotia, with a Brief View of its Resources, Natural and Industrial654
    Discovery and Early Fortunes of Nova Scotia654
    Situation—Extent—Natural Features—Climate, &c.660
    Natural Resources666
    Population, Statistics, &c.677
    Industrial Resources684
    Commercial Industry690
    Public Works, Revenue, Crown Lands, &c.695
    Education and Educational Institutions704
    Ecclesiastical Condition of the Province711
    Political State of the Province714
    General Civilization, Social Progress, Literature, &c.719
    Sable Island726
Prince Edward Island728
    Situation, Extent, General Features, Early History, &c.728
    Natural Resources, Climate, &c.734
    Industrial Resources736
    Population, Education, Civil Institutions, &c.738
    Situation, Discovery, and Early History744
    Topography, Natural Resources, Climate, &c.747
    Industrial Resources751
    Population, Civil and Religious Institutions756

By Rev. William Murray.




Montreal, the commercial capital of Canada, is situated at an equal distance from the extreme western and eastern boundaries of the province. The source of Pigeon River, (long. 90° 50′,) one of the foaming tributaries of Lake Superior, forty-six miles in a straight line from its mouth, and 1,653 feet above the sea, is the point where its western limits touch the boundary between the United States and British America. Blanc Sablon harbor, (long. 57° 50′,) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and close to the western extremity of the Straits of Belle Isle, marks the eastern limits of Canada, touching Labrador, a dreary waste under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland. Draw a line through the dividing ridge which separates the waters flowing into Hudson's Bay from those tributary to the St. Lawrence, and the ill-defined and almost wholly unknown northern limits of the Province are roughly represented. The boundary line between Canada and the United States follows the course of Pigeon River, runs north of Isle Royale, strikes through the center of Lake Superior, the St. Mary's River, Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence as far down as the intersection of the 45th parallel of latitude. It follows this parallel to near the head waters of the Connecticut River, when, striking north-east, it pursues an undulating course roughly parallel to the St. Lawrence, and from thirty to one hundred miles distant from it, until it reaches the north entrance of the Bay of Chaleurs in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The States of the American Union which abut on this long and sinuous frontier, are Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and the British Province of New Brunswick.

The vast tract of country called the Province of Canada, has an area of about 340,000 square miles, 140,000 belonging to Upper Canada, and 200,000 to the lower division of the province. It lies wholly within the valley of the St. Lawrence, in which are included the most extensive and the grandest system of fresh water lakes in the world.


The bottom of Lake Superior is 600 feet below the level of the ocean, its mean surface is exactly 600 feet above it. With a length of 300 miles and a breadth of 140 miles, it comprises a water area of 32,000 square miles, and supposing its mean depth to be 600 feet, it contains 4,000 cubic miles of water. It is the grand head of the St. Lawrence, receiving the waters of many tributaries, and discharging them into Lake Huron by the St. Mary's River, with a fall of nearly 20 feet in half a mile, to overcome which, the most magnificent locks in the world have been constructed on the United States side, thus forming, with the Welland and the St. Lawrence canals, an uninterrupted communication with the sea, and enabling large vessels from any part of the world to penetrate one-third across the continent of America in its broadest part, or about 2,000 miles from its ocean boundary.

Lake Huron, the next fresh water sea in succession, has an area of 21,000 square miles, and, like its great feeder, Lake Superior, it is very deep, 1,000 feet in some places having been measured. The great Manitoulin Island, (1,500 square miles in area,) with others belonging to the same chain, divide the lake into two portions, the northern part being called Georgian Bay. It receives numerous important tributaries on the north side, among which French River is the most interesting, in consequence of its being on the line of a proposed canal communication between the Ottawa and Lake Huron. The distance between Montreal and the mouth of French River is 430 miles, and of this distance 352 are naturally a good navigation; of the remaining 78 miles it would be necessary to canal 29 miles in order to complete the communication for steam vessels. These data are the result of careful governmental surveys, and are calculated for vessels of one thousand tons burthen. The cost of establishing this important communication is estimated at $12,057,680. The distance between Chicago and Montreal by the St. Lawrence is 1,348 miles, by the Ottawa and Huron Canal route 1,005 miles.

Lake St. Clair forms the connecting link between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, another magnificent sea of fresh water, 265 miles long and 50 broad on the average, with a depth of 120 feet. Its shores, particularly on the United States side, are the seats of numerous populous cities; its waves on the north shore wash the garden of Canada—the fertile western peninsula. The last of this great and magnificent chain is Lake Ontario, separated from Lake Erie by the Niagara River, in whose short and tumultuous course occurs the most stupendous cataract on the face of the globe. Before reaching Niagara Falls the river descends about 50 feet in less than a mile, over limestone rocks, and then plunges 165 feet perpendicularly. For seven miles more the torrent rushes through a narrow gorge, varying from 200 to 400 yards in width and 300 feet deep. It then emerges into a flat, open country, at Queenstown, and after a further flow of about twelve miles, glides peacefully into Lake Ontario.

Lake Ontario is 180 miles long, 50 broad, 600 feet deep, and has an area of 6,300 square miles; it discharges its waters, together with those of the upper lakes, by the River St. Lawrence into the gulf of the same name. A few miles above Montreal, the Ottawa River comes in from the north, draining an area of 80,000 square miles. Below Montreal the St. Maurice debouches into the St. Lawrence at Three Rivers, drawing contributions from 22,000 square miles of timbered country. At Quebec the St. Lawrence is 1,314 yards wide, but the basin below the city is two miles across, and three and three-quarters long. From this point the vast river goes on increasing in size as it swells onward toward the gulf, receiving numerous large tributaries, among which is the famous Saguenay, 250 feet deep where it joins the St. Lawrence, and 1,000 feet deep some distance above the point of junction. Below Quebec the St. Lawrence is not frozen over, but the force of the tides incessantly detaches ice from the shores, and such immense masses are kept in continual agitation by the flux and reflux, that navigation is totally impracticable during part of the winter season. Vessels from Europe pass up the great system of canals which render the St. Lawrence navigable for 2,030 miles, and land their passengers at Chicago without transshipment.


The table on the following page shows a profile of this ship route from Anticosti, in the Estuary of the St. Lawrence, to Superior City:

key = A Distance from Anticosti in miles; B Elevation above the Sea level; C Number of Locks; D Length of Locks in feet; E Breadth of Locks in feet; F Total Lockage in feet.

Lachine Canal598½14-5852004544¾
Beauharnois Canal61458.5-141.392004582½
Cornwall Canal662½142.6-185.672004543
Farren's Point Canal.673½190.5-1951200454
Rapid Flat Canal688195.3-2072......12
Pt. Iroquois Canal699½207-2131......6
Galops Canal714½213-2252......8
Lake Ontario766234    
Welland Canal1016234-5642715026½330
Lake Erie1041564    
Detroit River1280564    
Lake St. Clair      
River St. Clair      
Lake Huron1355573    
River Ste. Marie1580573-582.5    
Sault Ste. Marie Canal1650582.5-60025507517½
Lake Superior1650600    
Fort William1910     
Superior City2030     


The entire area of the great lakes is about 91,000 square miles. They are remarkable for the purity of their waters, which do not contain more than eight grains of solid matter to the gallon of 70,000 grains. The variations to which their level is subjected are common to all, and may be generally stated to be as follows:

1. The mean minimum level is attained in January or February.

2. The mean maximum level is in June.

3. The mean annual variation is twenty-eight inches.

4. The maximum variation in twelve years has been four feet and six inches.

5. There is no periodicity observable in the variations of their levels, and there is no flux and reflux dependent upon lunar influence.

The St. Lawrence carries past the city of Montreal 50,000,000 cubic feet of water in a minute, and in the course of one year bears 143,000,000 tons of solid materials held in solution, to the sea. All the phenomena of a mighty river may here be witnessed on a stupendous scale, its irresistible ice masses, crushing and grinding one another in the depth of winter, its wide-spreading and devastating floods in spring, its swelling volume stealing on with irresistible power in summer, broken here and there by tumultuous and surging rapids or by swift and treacherous currents, or by vast and inexhaustible lakes. As it approaches the ocean it rolls on between iron-bound coasts, bearing the tributary waters of a region equal to half Europe in area, and subject to a climate which vainly endeavors to hold it frost-bound for fully one-third of the year. The whole valley of the St. Lawrence is a magnificent example of the power of water in motion, and the great lakes themselves are splendid illustrations of the "dependence of the geographical features of a country upon its geological structure."

The following table shows the relative magnitude of the great lakes of the St. Lawrence valley:

Names of Lakes.Area in
Square Miles.
above the Sea
Lake Superior32,0006001,000
Green Bay2,000578500
Lake Michigan22,4005781,000
Lake Huron19,2005781,000
Lake St. Clair360570120
Lake Erie9,60056584
Lake Ontario6,300232600
   Total area,91,860  


The greatest known depth of Lake Ontario is 780 feet; in Lake Superior, however, a line 1,200 feet long has, in some parts, failed in reaching the bottom.


The western peninsula, comprehending the rich tract of country west of an undulating escarpment or ancient sea margin, reaching from Queenstown on the Niagara, round the head of Lake Ontario, and thence north to Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, is a gently sloping plain, deeply covered with drift clays; the highest part of this plain is at the Blue Mountains, abutting on Georgian Bay, where their northwestern escarpment is about 1,000 feet above Lake Huron. From the central townships of Proton and Luther, a low axis or water parting causes the rivers to discharge west into Lake Huron and east into Lake Erie, as far south as the head-waters of the Thames, which flows in a south-westerly direction to Lake St. Clair. Joining the ancient sea margin about half way between Lake Ontario and Nottawasaga Bay, Lake Huron, a ridge of drift, about 700 feet above where the Northern Railway crosses it, pursues a course roughly parallel to Lake Ontario, but with gradually diminishing altitude, and terminates near the Bay of Quinté. This ridge of drift blocks up a communication which once existed between Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario. There is strong evidence to prove that another 'Niagara' formerly existed somewhere between Lake Huron and Ontario, probably in the neighborhood of the line of the Northern Railway. A direct artificial water communication between these lakes is now advocated. In the rear of these subordinate elevations, which only slightly diversify the great plain of western Canada, the Laurentide mountains, stretching from Lake Superior to Labrador, separate the valley of the St. Lawrence from the region tributary to Hudson's Bay. The Laurentides approach or form the north shores of the Gulf and River St. Lawrence from Labrador to near Quebec; they then retire from the river by degrees, and at Montreal are thirty miles from the St. Lawrence. They cross the Ottawa one hundred and fifty miles from Montreal, and, bending round, approach the St. Lawrence again in the direction of Kingston. From this point they run in a north-westerly direction, and form the rough country in the rear of Lakes Huron and Superior, and the water parting between the St. Lawrence valley and Hudson's Bay. The height of land is really a tableland, diversified with innumerable lakes, large and small, but west of the Saguenay River, not distinguished by mountains possessing any considerable altitude. In the rear of the St. Lawrence, below Quebec, detached peaks of the Laurentides attain an elevation of 2,000, and even 3,000 feet. Forty miles from the coast, opposite Anticosti, they have an elevation of 3,200 feet, and on the great table land of the Labrador Peninsula there are isolated peaks at least 5,000 feet above the sea level. On the south of the St. Lawrence, the level valley of the river is from thirty to forty miles broad as far as the base of the prolongation of the Green Mountains of Vermont, in which range detached peaks attain an elevation of about 4,000 feet. The Notre Dame mountains in the District of Gaspé are very imposing; they vary in width from two to six miles, and in height from 2,000 to 3,778 feet. Viewed as a whole, the entire valley of the St. Lawrence from Lake Superior to Quebec, may be regarded as occupying part of the north-eastern rim of the immense basin of sedimentary rocks which form the United States, a portion of Mexico and British America west of Lake Winnipeg. The broad and low Laurentides stretching from Labrador to the Arctic sea separate this basin from the northern one, in part occupied by Hudson's Bay.


The geological structure of different parts of this vast extent of country determines, to a considerable degree, the character of the soils which form the surface. The soils in the western part of the province are derived from the 'drift,' which is made up of the ruins of the crystalline rocks of the Laurentides and of the sedimentary rocks lying to the north of any particular locality or in its immediate neighborhood In the extreme western peninsula the rich clays consist of remodeled 'drift,' and are of lacustrine origin. In the valley of the St. Lawrence below Montreal, the clays are marine, and not unfrequently contain a considerable proportion of calcareous matter. Below Quebec, on the south shores, the soils are derived from the disintegration of the red slates found in that region, while in the eastern townships the drift and debris of the altered rocks, which distinguish that part of the country, form the surface covering. In the region of the Laurentides, the fertile belts or strips consist either of 'drift' or of the ruins of crystalline limestone, and soda and lime feldspars, but the area covered by arable soil in the rocky region of the Laurentides is comparatively very small, and necessarily limits the progress of settlement north of the St. Lawrence and great lakes. The area in Canada occupied by sedimentary rocks, where in general rich and fertile soils abound, is about 80,000 square miles; the region embraced by the crystalline rocks is about 240,000 square miles in extent, five-sixths of which may be said to be wholly incapable of cultivation.


The whole of the peninsula of Western Canada, the valley of the St. Lawrence south of the Laurentides, the valleys and depressions in the peninsula of Gaspé, are more or less deeply covered with clays interstratified with sand and gravel, which belong to quaternary deposits, and in some parts are overlaid by alluvium. The region of the Laurentides alone exposes over the greater part of its vast extent, bare crystalline sedimentary rocks, the oldest, as far as is known, in the world, and named after the great river where they are developed on such a stupendous scale, the 'Laurentian Series.'

Between the Post Tertiary and the base of the Carboniferous, the entire series of sedimentary rocks is wanting in Canada, with the exception of small patches of Tertiary Formations which have escaped denudation.


The stratified clays, sands and gravels contain the remains of many species of marine animals, identical with those now found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, often at an altitude of 500 feet above the level of the sea. Sixty-three species of marine invertebrates from the Post-Pliocene or Pleistocene clays of the St. Lawrence valley have been disinterred. The quaternary deposits form the soil of a large portion of the country. They contain clays suitable for the fabrication of red, white and yellow bricks; molding sands, tripoli, shell marl, bog iron ore, ochre, and in the eastern part of Canada they are overlaid by peat, which occupies depressions.


If we suppose that the quaternary deposits were swept away, and the whole of the underlying rocks laid bare, the formations of Canada older than the post tertiary would be found to consist of the following series:

1. A small area of the Carboniferous.

2. The Devonian Series.

3. The Silurian Series.

4. The Huronian or Cambrian Series.

5. The Laurentian Series.

These rocks form part of the Great Southern Basin of North America; the geographical limits of Canada, while embracing a large portion of its northern rim, penetrate like a wedge towards its center, by means of the peninsular portion of the western part of the province. An anticlinal axis separates this basin into two subordinate divisions, the line of demarcation running from the valley of the Hudson towards Quebec. The western subordinate basin contains the great coal fields of the United States, the eastern portion embraces those of New Brunswick and Massachusetts. "The rocks of these two basins present remarkable differences in their chemical and physical conditions. The formations of the western basin are nearly horizontal, and offer a perfect conformity, while in those of the east there is discordance between the upper and lower Silurian, and between the Devonian and Carboniferous formations. The strata of the eastern basin are moreover very much folded and contorted, and have in some parts undergone profound chemical and mineralogical changes."[1]

The highest formation in Western Canada is the Portage and Chemung group, or the upper portion of the Devonian Series, which includes the Hamilton group, the Corniferous limestone, the Oriskany sandstone, &c., of the New York geologists. In the extreme west of the province, where patches of the Portage group occur, extraordinary springs of petroleum have been tapped by boring to the depth of from 200 to 300 feet, on the summit of an anticlinal axis. The source of the petroleum is probably the underlying Corniferous limestone. The yield from four springs, which send pure petroleum about thirty feet above the surface of the ground, is estimated at fifteen thousand barrels a day. Lying beneath the Devonian Series are the Onondaga Salt Group, the Niagara limestone and the Medina sandstone of the Upper Silurian Series. Next follow the Middle Silurian rocks, represented by the Hudson River Group and Utica Slate, the Oneida Conglomerates not having been found in Western Canada. The Lower Silurian Series is represented in regular sequence by the Trenton, Black River, Birds-eye and Chazy limestones, succeeded by the Calciferous sand-rock and the Potsdam sandstone which rests upon the ancient crystalline rocks of Huronian or Laurentian age. Tracks of a large crustacean are numerous in the Potsdam sandstone, coprolites occur in abundance at the summit of the Calciferous sand-rock, the succeeding limestones are very rich in fossils, and the Utica slate is distinguished by abundance of bitumen, which has been used as a source of oil derived from its destructive distillation, but not, commercially, with success. The Onondaga salt group furnishes gypsum and brine springs. The marbles of the lower limestones are susceptible of a fine polish, and hydraulic cement of the best quality occurs in many parts of the province.

The highest rock in the eastern basin is a millstone grit, which forms the base of the New Brunswick coal field. It occurs in the Peninsula of Gaspé, and is underlaid by Devonian sandstone of great thickness, (7,000 feet,) which reposes on limestone and shales of the Upper Silurian Series, resting upon rock of Middle Silurian age. Some members of the Lower Silurian Series are highly metamorphosed and developed to an extraordinary extent in the vicinity of Quebec and elsewhere, showing a thickness of 7,000 feet, and distinguished by metaliferous veins; hence, although of the age of the Potsdam sandstone and the Calciferous sand-rock, they have been named the Quebec Group, also the Taconic system, and the Upper Copper-bearing rocks of Lake Superior. They are of vast economic importance, inasmuch as they form the great metaliferous formation of North America, containing gold, lead, copper, zinc, silver, cobalt, nickel, chromium and titanium. They are traceable from Gaspé to Alabama, under various designations, and thence to the west side of the Mississippi, through Kansas to Lake Superior, without suffering any diminution in volume. The copper ores in Eastern Tennessee and those of Acton in Lower Canada, belong to this important group, as well as the lead, copper, zinc, &c., of Missouri, and the copper of Lake Superior.

On the shores of Lakes Huron and Superior, the Quebec group rests unconformably on the Huronian Series, which reposes also unconformably upon the Laurentian Series. The Huronian Series is 18,000 feet thick, and consists of quartzites, thin limestone bands, slate rocks and diorite. It is the lower copper-bearing rock of America. The immense beds of iron ore at Marquette also belong to this series. It is traversed by a vast number of trappean dykes. The Laurentian system is the oldest known system of rocks, and is composed of gneiss, crystalline limestone and Labradorite. This series is of enormous thickness, one band of limestone being 1,000 feet thick, and the entire mass of altered sediments composing the vast Laurentian series probably exceeds 20,000 feet. Traces of fossils have been found in several localities; beds of iron ore hundreds of feet thick, great veins of metallic sulphurets with widely distributed crystalline limestone bands, give great economic importance to the series. The geographical surface of Canada contains about 80,000 square miles of unaltered fossiliferous rocks, and probably 230,000 square miles of the Laurentian Series. Where the Laurentian Series is not covered with quaternary deposits, the belts of crystalline limestones, and soda and lime feldspars, produce upon disintegration a fertile soil, so that the cultivable area in the Laurentian country is much greater than would be inferred from the gneissoid character of the formation in many districts.


The geographical position of Canada has necessarily a remarkable influence upon the climates of different parts of the country. The western peninsula has its climate greatly modified by the vast lakes which almost encircle it. The valley of the St. Lawrence below Kingston, as far as tide water, is removed from this ameliorating influence, and the country below Quebec is subject to many of those vicissitudes which belong to great estuaries and the sea-coast. The north shores of Lake Huron and Superior, and the back country north of a line extending from Lake Huron to Ottawa, and removed from the influence of the great lakes, possess a very rigorous climate, in which intense winter cold, prolonged through many weeks, is followed by a short but hot summer, succeeded by genial autumnal months.

Meteorological observations have been carried on for many years, at three separate points, which may represent the centers of the different climates of Canada in the settled parts of the country. At Toronto, (1862,) the mean annual temperature for a period of 22 years, has been 44°.12, the warmest month, July, has a mean of 66°.85; the coldest month on the average of 22 years is February, which has a mean temperature of 22°.98. The highest temperature recorded was 99°.2, the lowest, -26°.5. The average range of temperature during the same period amounts to 102°.7. The average fall of rain during 21 years was 30.32 inches. The greatest rain-fall in one month was 9.76 inches, the greatest in one day, 3.36 inches; but the average for 21 years of the greatest rain-fall in one day is 2.14 inches. The average fall of snow for 21 years is 61.6 inches, and the number of days on which snow falls is 57. The total average depth of snow and rain during 21 years is 36.49 inches. The average number of days on which rain or snow falls is 163. September is the most humid month. The resultant direction of the wind during a period of 14 years is N. 60 W. The mean velocity per hour being 1.85 miles; but without regard to direction, the mean velocity is 6.78 on an average of 14 years. The mean humidity of May, June and July, deduced from a period of 21 years, is 74.

At Montreal, (1856,) the mean temperature of the air for a period of 7 years, was 41°.56. The absolute mean range for the same period has been from 90°.9 to 27°.4 below zero. The highest temperature in the shade recorded was 100°.1, the lowest 36°.2 below zero, giving a climatic range of 136°.3. The degree of humidity is represented by .84. The average number of days on which rain fell was 73 per annum, and of days on which snow fell 43; or in all, 116 days on which precipitation took place. The rain-fall amounted to 43.004 inches; the depth of snow to 95.76 inches, or 52,380 inches of precipitation reduced to the form of rain. The mean of evaporation from the surface is nearly 21 inches during the spring, summer and autumn. The most prevailing wind is the westerly. The snow storms are from the N. E. by E., on the average.

The following table shows the monthly mean temperature at four different stations between the head of Lake Ontario and Quebec inclusive. From it an idea of the difference in climate between those far separated points may be inferred. The period over which the observations extend is the year 1855, but it is probable that the means of a large number of years would produce slight but comparatively unimportant changes in the observed temperatures. From this table the chief differences in the climates of the districts of which they are centers may be deduced.


Of the Mean Monthly Temperatures at Hamilton and Toronto, (Upper Canada,) and Montreal and Quebec, (Lower Canada,) for the year 1855.

(Lat. 43° 16′)(Lat. 43° 39′)(Lat 45° 32′)(Lat 46° 49′)
Head of Lake Ontario.341 ft. above the sea.   
Annual Mean,10 years, 48.7316 years, 44.273 years, 42.241855, 38.09
Min. 1855-20.00-25.00-33.09-29.05
Max. "96.0092.0897.0090.00

The year 1855 was distinguished by the extreme and prolonged cold of February.


Showing the average Temperature, Humidity, Wind, Rain and Snow at Toronto, 108 feet above Lake Ontario, or 341 feet above the sea, for a period of 22 years:


of 22 years.
Extremes in 22 years.
Mean temperature of the year44°.1246°.36
(in 1846.)
(in 1856.)
Warmest monthJuly.July, 1854.Aug. 1860.
  when the mean temperature of the month was66°.8572°.4764°.46
Coldest monthFebruaryJan. 1857.Feb. 1848.
  when the mean temperature of the month was22°.9812°.7526°.60
Difference between the warmest and coldest months43°.87  
Highest temperature90°.499°.282°.4
  which occurred onJuly 22Aug. 24.
Aug. 19.
Lowest temperature12°.3-26°.5+1°.9
  which occurred onJan. 25.Jan. 26.
Jan. 2.
Range of the year102°.7.118°.2
(in 1855.)
(in 1847.)
of 20 years.
Extremes in 20 years.
Mean humidity of the year7882, in 1851.73, in 1858.
Month of greatest humidityJanuary.Jan. 1857.Dec. 1858.
  when the mean humidity of the month was838981
Month of least humidityMay.Feb. 1843.April, 1849.
  when the mean of the month was725876
of 9 years.
Extremes in 9 years.
Mean cloudiness of the year6062, in 1861.57, in '53 '56
Most cloudy monthDecember. {Dec. '58.} Dec. 1857.
Most cloudy month Dec. '60.
Feb. '61.
  when the mean of the month was758373
Least cloudy monthJuly and Aug.July, 1853.June, 1861.
  when the mean of the month was453445
of 14 years.
Extremes in 14 years.
Resultant direction.n. 60° w.  
Mean resultant velocity in miles1.82  
Mean velocity, without regard to direction6.788.55 in 1860.5.10 in 1853
of 21 years.
Extremes in 21 years.
Total depth in the year in inches30.32443.555
in 1843.
in 1856.
No. of days on which rain fell106136 in 1861.80 in 1841.
Greatest depth in one month fell inSeptember.Sept. 1843.Sept. 1848.
  when it amounted to3.9739.7603.115
Rainy days were most frequent inJuneJune, 1857.May, 1841.
  when their number was122111
Greatest depth of rain on one day2.1383.360..
  which fell on..Oct. 6, 1849..
Greatest depth in one hour......
of 19 yrs & 22 yrs.
Extremes in 19 years & 22 years.
Total depth in the year61.699.0
in 1855.
in 1851.
No. of days on which snow fell5787 in 1859.33 in 1848.
Greatest depth in one month fell inFebruaryFeb. 1846.Dec. 1851.
  when it amounted to18.046.110.07
Days of snow were most frequent inDecember. {Dec. 1859.Feb. 1858.
Jan. 1861.
  when their number was13.023.08
Average of
19 yrs. & 22 yrs.
Total depth in the year36.488
Number of days in which rain or snow fell160
Greatest depth in one month fell inSeptember.
  when it amounted to3.973
Days of aqueous precipitation most frequent inDecember.
  when their number was18

Sketch of the Geology of Canada, by Sir W. E. Logan, F. R. S., and T. Sterry Hunt, F. G. S.




Eighty years ago Upper Canada was a wilderness from the Ottawa to the St. Clair. The first British settlements were made after the year of peace 1783, but previously to that date only a few insignificant and drooping French colonies lay scattered on the banks of the St. Lawrence, or grouped in remote isolation on the river Detroit. Lower Canada at that time contained 113,000 people, although in 1676, or more than a century before, its population amounted to nearly nine thousand souls. So languid and sluggish was the progress of Canada under French rule, that a century scarcely swelled the number of its inhabitants to that of its commercial capital, Montreal, at the present day.

Eighty years ago the province, which now claims 2,506,755 inhabitants, was just emerging from the gloom of its forests. Over the whole of the most fertile and now most densely peopled western half, forest silence reigned, reigned undisturbed and supreme.

The agricultural history of Lower Canada—where the population is of French origin in the proportion of 76.29 per cent. to the whole number of inhabitants—is essentially distinct from that of Upper Canada, whose people are almost exclusively of British descent. The Lower Canadian French are natives of the country, sons of the soil, honest, light-hearted, and pre-eminently faithful to the religion, traditions and usages of their forefathers. They have grown to be almost a distinct people, under the old feudal system, and have always looked with characteristic reverence on their seigneurs, their pastors and the notary of their village. They have received no fresh blood by immigration for generations, and have clung with remarkable tenacity to the customs of their ancestors, repelling innovation and discarding all change not especially sanctioned by their spiritual advisers. Hence their agriculture is still to a considerable extent in a primitive condition, and requires a brief historical notice separate from that of the people of Upper Canada, who have been continually supplied with an infusion of fresh blood from Europe, are eager to grasp at every improvement which may better their condition, and who live less with a careless indifference to the future, or a happy enjoyment of the present, than with continual efforts to secure independence, often merging into a feverish anxiety to become rich, and surround themselves with the luxuries which the well-to-do in the world are supposed to enjoy.



There can be no doubt that the wretched mode of subdividing land and laying out farms which formerly prevailed in Lower Canada, has been instrumental in retarding the progress of husbandry in that part of the province. Very generally the farms in the old settled parts originally consisted of narrow strips whose lengths and breadths were in the ratio of ten to one; three arpents wide by thirty arpents in depth being the form of the long rectangle exhibited by a French Canadian farm when first surveyed. This is the same as if the farms were 200 yards broad by 2,000 yards long, a form inconvenient for practical agriculture, involving a yearly increasing expenditure of time and labor in its cultivation as the cleared portions become more remote from the homestead, for which no advantages of river or road frontage could compensate as the country became cleared. But when the seigneuries were surveyed, steamboats, railroads, and even macadamized roads were not thought of, and people did not then indulge in the habit of looking far into the future, or those of later date care to contemplate the condition to which they were drifting by continuing the mode of subdividing the soil which their fathers had inaugurated. With the increase of population, and the love for the paternal roof, which distinguishes the habitans of Lower Canada, their farms have been again subdivided longitudinally, sometimes into three parts, or one arpent in breadth by thirty in depth, or in the proportion of 66-2/3 yards broad to 2,000 long; and in the older seigneuries the ratio of breadth to length is not unfrequently as one is to sixty or 33-1/3 yards broad to 2,000 yards long. These are some of the heirlooms of that old feudal system which sat like a huge incubus on Lower Canada, and whose depressing influence will long leave its mark on the energies and character of its people.


We do not require to go far back into the history of that part of the province to find husbandry in all its branches in a very primitive condition. Thirty years ago, rotation of crops was wholly unknown, and no rules of art were practiced by the happy, light-hearted French Canadian, who with rigid steps pursued the systems handed down to him by his ancestors, and strictly adhered to usages which generations had sanctioned. In addition to the entire absence of rotation of crops, the practice of carting manure on to the ice of a neighboring river, in order that it might be washed away in the spring, was generally practiced, and even now prevails to a considerable extent. Barns were removed when the accumulations before the door impeded entrance or exit, and the old primitive forms of plows, harrows and all other farming implements and vehicles, were retained, with a wholesome horror of innovation in form or material. Nor need we travel far to find them still flourishing in all their original imperfections and want of adaptation to the end in view.


The narrowness of the French Canadian farms has led to those seemingly interminable lines of neat whitewashed cottages which border the main roads, or fringe the river St. Lawrence, wearing the aspect of a continuous village. A stranger, steaming down the noble river, sees with admiration and delight an uninterrupted thread of white cottages, fronting the water, with here and there the broad, glittering tinned roof of the parish church, and in the background the primeval forest; he gazes upon a beautiful picture, suggesting pleasing associations, and thoughts of rural contentment and prosperity, susceptible of increase as elsewhere in the world. Such is the outward show, but let him take a nearer view and examine in detail. He will find little or no change save in increase of numbers, between what he now surveys and what he might have seen one generation or even two generations ago. Improvement is progressing, but with snail-like progress, where ancient habits and customs are preserved, and where families cling to the soil on which they were born, and divide and sub-divide their farms until they become narrow strips not much wider than a modern highway, with the house fronting the river, and "the land all longitude."

The following table will show the progress made in Lower Canada between 1827 and 1852, a period of twenty-five years, and it will strikingly illustrate the fact that, ten years since, real improvement was scarcely visible in aggregate results, while in some instances a retrograde movement seems plainly discernible.—

Indian Corn.
Cows.Sheep.Swine.Area culti-

183,972 calves or heifers not included under the head 'cows.'

The diminution of oxen and sheep is remarkable; the small increase in the production of wheat is probably owing to the "fly." In two articles only do we recognize any advance commensurate with the increase of population in twenty-five years, viz., in oats and flax. The area under crop in 1827 was 1,002,198 acres, in 1852, 2,072,341 acres, or more than double, yet while the area under crop had doubled, the yield appears to have uniformly diminished, a fact strongly shown in the subjoined comparative table of average produce per acre in Upper and Lower Canada in 1852, according to the census of 1851-2:

Upper Canada.
Bushels per acre.
Lower Canada.
Bushels per acre.
Indian Corn,24-4/6018-14/60

In 1851-2, each person in Lower Canada cultivated 4 acres, 0 roods, 8 poles; in Upper Canada, 3 acres, 3 roods, 20 poles; and while each family in either section of the province had on an average 2 cows, in Upper Canada 53¾ pounds of butter per cow was produced, and in Lower Canada the quantity was only 33 pounds. With respect to cheese, the proportion was as 7½ is to 1¾, or about 4 to 1 in favor of Upper Canada.

While the stagnation, or rather retrograde movement, in the farming industry of the habitans in Lower Canada was taking place during the twenty-five years under review, the most striking proofs were simultaneously afforded at the different agricultural exhibitions at Quebec and Montreal, of the fitness of the soil and climate of the country for agriculture in its broadest acceptation. Scattered throughout Lower Canada there are numbers of excellent farmers whose practice can not be surpassed. In the results they have produced, and the example they have shown, they have proved beyond doubt what can be accomplished throughout the length and breadth of settled Lower Canada, from the Bay of Chaleurs to Montreal, and redeemed it from those unfavorable impressions which a survey of the cultivated productions of its soil under the hands of the habitans of the old school is adapted to create.


In April, 1862, there were no less than seventy-two of these useful associations in the Lower Division of the province. The progress which might fairly have been anticipated from such a large number of distinct bodies, organized for the purpose of mutual assistance and encouragement, has not been satisfactory. This state of things has arisen in many instances from a most unusual and novel mode of distributing the annual government grant. We can not do better than transcribe the description of this singular disposal of public money, given in a recent number of the Lower Canada Agricultural Review, written by the editor on the occasion of a visit to different parts of Lower Canada to collect the best specimens of agricultural productions for transmission to the International Exhibition at London. "In many counties the societies have only distributed the funds among the local farmers, and this has been the case year after year, and we have often raised our voice against this sort of family compact. We need not here repeat our arguments, for wherever we have suggested the employment of the funds for any other purpose, we have generally met with the entire approbation of the enlightened farmer; and we have often met conscientious and intelligent men whose only aim is the advancement of agriculture. But these men are often bound hand and foot in their actions, being opposed by a majority who have no reason, and are only guided by their own narrow notions and the following of old customs; happily this majority is day by day losing their strength and influence, and we predict a triumph, at no distant day, of progressive and improved agriculture."

The Board of Agriculture for Lower Canada have taken decisive steps during the present year, (1862,) to secure the proper disbursements of the provincial grant, and to devote liberal awards of public money to the promotion of agricultural industry in all its important branches. The Lower Canadian Provincial Shows have partaken more of the character of an agricultural festival, hitherto, than of a meeting for the purpose of securing the progress of the Science and Art of Agriculture by fair and open competition and peaceful rivalry. In this respect they have differed materially from the same annual expositions in Upper Canada, where astonishing advances in the proper direction have been made. The Board has now taken steps to establish an Agricultural Museum, and to give assistance to county societies towards the importation of improved breeds of horses, cattle and sheep. The Board is willing to advance to any society funds for the purchase of stock, retaining one-third of the annual government allowance for three successive years to discharge the debt thus incurred. If this new spirit of enterprise continues, the progress of agriculture in Lower Canada will be much more rapid than it has been of late years, although it must be acknowledged that in the face of many difficulties, national prejudices and peculiarities of character, a very marked improvement has taken place in many departments of husbandry, and in many parts of the Lower Province, but much, very much remains to be done. The influence exercised by the Agricultural School at St. Anne is already favorably felt, and as this establishment appears likely to work a beneficial change in Lower Canadian husbandry, a few details respecting it may be both appropriate and acceptable.


At this establishment there are two departments, one devoted to theoretical training, the other to the cultivation, upon the most approved principles, of a tract of land, to serve as a model farm, and a nursery for stock. The beneficial effect of the model farm is already felt in the neighborhood, farmers having generally adopted the cultivation of root crops, and sought with avidity for the improved breeds of animals which have been reared by the College. During the year 1860 there were eight pupils attending the school. In 1861, there were only four; but as this department is yet in its infancy, there is good ground for the expectation that it will receive increased encouragement, as the influence of the College becomes more widely felt.

The steps taken by the provincial government for the encouragement of agriculture in the Province at large, will be described in the narrative of the progress made in Canadian husbandry in Upper Canada, to which we now turn with more encouraging results before us.




WE have already stated that eighty years ago that part of the province of Canada which is now most densely peopled, was a forest wild. Upper Canada dates its existence as a distinct Province previously to the Union from the year 1791. Before that period it formed part of the Province of Quebec; as soon, however, as it had acquired a separate political status, it was divided into four districts, the Eastern, Midland, Home and Western, each of which, in course of time, established agricultural societies. In 1782, or exactly eighty years ago, Upper Canada had barely 10,000 inhabitants. In 1824, the numbers had increased to 152,000, and in 1829 to 225,000; but it was not until the year 1830 that the government of the province took any decisive step to foster the agriculture of the country by "An Act to encourage the establishment of Agricultural Societies in the several Districts of the Province." As early as the year 1825, agricultural societies, it is believed, existed in two or three districts, but no records have been handed down to show the condition of husbandry at that period.

The indirect assistance given by the Imperial Government to Agriculture in Upper Canada, dates from a much earlier period than the encouragement given to Agricultural Societies by the Provincial Government; for we find among the donations of George III. to the U. E. Loyalists the old English plow. It consisted of a small piece of iron fixed to the colter, having the shape of the letter L, the shank of which went through the wooden beam, the foot forming the point, which was sharpened for use. One handle and a plank split from a curved piece of timber, which did the duty of a mold board, completed the rude implement. At that time the traces and leading lines were made of the bark of the elm or bass-wood, which was manufactured by the early settlers into a strong rope. About the year 1808 the "hog-plow" was imported from the United States; and in 1815 a plow with a cast iron share and mold-board, all in one piece, was one of the first implements requiring more than ordinary degree of mechanical skill, which was manufactured in the province. The seeds of improvement were then sown, and while in the address of the President at the Frontenac Cattle Show in 1833, we observe attention called to the necessity for further improvement in the plows common throughout the country, we witness, in 1855, splendid fruit at the Paris Exhibition. In a notice of the trial of plows at Trappes, the Journal d'Agriculture Practique makes the following reference to a Canadian plow: "The plowing tests were brought to a close by a trial of two plows equally remarkable—to wit, the plow of Ranson & Simms, of Suffolk, England, and that of Bingham, of Norwich, Upper Canada. The first is of wood and iron, like all the English plows, and the results which it produced seemed most satisfactory, but it appeared to require a little more draught than the Howard plow. Bingham's plow very much resembles the English plow; it is very fine and light in its build; the handles are longer than ordinary, which makes the plow much more easy to manage. The opinion of the French laborers and workmen who were there, appeared on the whole very favorable to this plow."

In 1828, when the whole population of Upper Canada amounted to 185,500 inhabitants, the number of acres under agricultural improvement was 570,000, or about 3-3/16 for each individual; in 1851 the average for each inhabitant was very nearly four acres. The comparative progress of Upper and Lower Canada, in bringing the forest-clad wilderness into cultivation, may be inferred from the following table:

No. acres cultivated.
No. acres cultivated.

Hence, in a period of twenty years, Lower Canada increased her cultivated acres by 1.9 and Upper Canada by 4.5.

Before proceeding to describe in detail the progress of Agriculture in Upper Canada, it will be advisable to glance at the efforts made by societies and the Government of the Province to elevate the condition of husbandry in all its departments, and to induce the people at large to join hand in hand in the march of improvement.


The first public Act for the encouragement of Agriculture in Canada, which came into operation in 1830, authorized the governor to pay one hundred pounds to any District Agricultural Society which raised the sum of £50 by subscription, for the purpose of importing valuable live stock, grain, useful implements, &c.

Several acts were passed in subsequent years, being modifications of that of 1830, all of them having for their object the encouragement of Agricultural Societies and Agriculture. In 1847 an additional step was taken, fraught with very important consequences to the interests of husbandry in Canada. An Act for the incorporation of the Provincial Agricultural Associations came into operation; and in 1850, Boards of Agriculture for Upper and Lower Canada were established by law. In 1851, an Act was passed to provide for the better organization of Agricultural Societies, and finally, in 1852, the most important step of all was taken, and "An Act to provide for the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture, and to amend and consolidate the laws relating to Agriculture," came into operation.

The District Societies, which, in 1830, drew their annual pittance from Government, and represented the agricultural interests of the country, have thus grown, in twenty-two years, to a comprehensive and centralized organization, consisting of, 1st, the Bureau; 2d, the Boards of Agriculture for Upper and Lower Canada; 3d, the Agricultural Associations for Upper and Lower Canada; 4th, County Societies; 5th, Township Societies.

In 1857, another change took place, being also a step in advance; an Act was passed "to make better provision for the encouragement of Agriculture, and also to provide for the promotion of Mechanical Science." The head of the Bureau of Agriculture received the title of 'Minister of Agriculture,' with very extensive powers for obtaining and distributing information respecting the condition of Husbandry and the Progress of Arts and Manufactures in the Province. By this act Boards of Arts and Manufactures were created, and Horticultural Societies incorporated.

The Boards of Agriculture distribute the annual government grant to the County Societies, upon duly certified statements from the Treasurers of the different Societies. The progress of these excellent adjuncts to agricultural improvement is shown in the following table:

Year.No. of
Amount of
Amount of

This year, in consequence of the financial condition of the country, the legislative grant was limited to a certain amount for the entire Province, and a uniform deduction was made from the amount which each society would have been entitled to under the act. The sum due, according to the act, being $47,950, of which only $32,836 was furnished by the Government.

With the means at the disposal of the County Societies, a valuable impulse has no doubt been given to agriculture in all its branches; chiefly by encouraging the introduction of a superior breed of animals and of improved implements. Several societies have devoted a considerable portion of their funds to the importation of improved breeds of cattle and horses. The awarding of premiums for stock, implements and farm productions generally, has encouraged private enterprise and awakened a spirit of emulation which has been most successful in promoting progress and improvement, and the rank which Upper Canada now occupies as an agricultural country is mainly due to the excellent organization and energetic spirit which has always distinguished the county societies since their first establishment.[2]


As a necessary result of the successful working of the county and township Agricultural Societies, a growing desire began to be felt, now nearly twenty years ago, for the organization of a Provincial Society which would bring the farmers and manufacturers from all parts of the Province together, and, by friendly rivalry and competition at an annual exhibition, present at one view the best results of the agricultural and mechanical industry of the country. After several ineffectual attempts to obtain general and united action, a meeting of delegates from county societies was held at Hamilton in August, 1846, and an Association formed, entitled the "Provincial Agricultural Association and Board of Agriculture for Canada West."

The first Exhibition of the Association was held at Toronto in October, 1846. The amount of prizes offered in money reached $1,112, besides books, making the total prize list to have a money value of about $1,600. The result of the Exhibition surpassed the most sanguine anticipations of its promoters, and excited the astonishment of many who were not familiar with the progress already made by the County Societies, at the display of stock, implements, grain, fruit, and vegetables. Thorough-bred Durham cattle were exhibited, and eagerly bought up at the close of the show. In the address delivered at the first meeting of the Association, we find the following paragraph, which illustrates the condition of husbandry in relation to stock which prevailed throughout the province: "The rough condition of our farmers, with various concurring circumstances, have in times past precluded any due attention to the important department of live stock. We find every where a mongrel mixture of Devons, Herefords, Lancashires, and Normans, frequently, indeed, producing good milkers, and useful cattle for the yoke, but entirely devoid of any established qualities upon which the breeder can rely, or feel any confidence that 'like will beget like.' We must admit, however, that some improvement has taken place, and that the well-defined breeds of England are beginning to be sought after with some care."

The Provincial Association commenced its operations without any well-established means of support, trusting to members' fees and contributions from county societies. Its first exhibition was so far successful that a balance of $408.25 remained in the treasurer's hands after all expenses were paid. In 1847 the association was incorporated by act of Parliament, under the title of "The Agricultural Association of Upper Canada." Since that time it has increased in influence and usefulness year by year, as the following brief synopsis of the results of the different exhibitions held under its auspices amply proves:


Showing the amount of competition at all the Exhibitions held by the Association, between 1846 and 1860, inclusive:

Exhibitions.Amount of
Prizes offered.
Total No.
Amount of
Prizes Awarded.
Toronto, 1846,£400001,150£27500
Hamilton, 1847,750001,60060000
Cobourg, 1848,775001,50057500
Kingston, 1849,1,400001,42970000
Niagara, 1850,1,2761191,63895000
Brockville, 1851,1,254931,466£805189
Toronto, 1852,1,470993,0481,22850
Hamilton, 1853,1,6021092,8201,32363
London, 1854,1,794062,9331,356176
Cobourg, 1855,2,304163,0771,73586
Kingston, 1856,2,3091263,7911,699176
Brantford, 1857,2,5171704,3372,046100
Toronto, 1858,2,675265,5722,303150
Kingston, 1859,2,628504,8302,016150
Hamilton, 1860,3,7531767,5323,23500

The following table exhibits, in a condensed form, the general results of two exhibitions, at an interval of 11 years. The remarkable change, both in number and kind of stock, and implements exhibited, shows how rapid the progress of improvement has been during that period.


ClassesNo. of Entries,
No. of Entries,
Blood Horses,1626$30500
Agricultural Horses,9712841800
Road or Carriage Horses,18842200
Heavy Draught Horses,4933000
Horses of all Classes,5210000
Durham Cattle,5414363200
Devon Cattle,1017260300
Hereford Cattle,1932900
Ayrshire Cattle,126355800
Galloway Cattle,5653200
Bulls of any Breed,218000
Grade Cattle,517319900
Fat and Working Cattle,203822700
Leicester Sheep,7917616200
Cotswold Sheep,6817800
Cheviot Sheep,4115900
Other Long Wooled Sheep,12116200
Southdown Sheep,1611816200
Merino and Saxon Sheep,115220200
Rams of all Breeds,402000
Fat Sheep,5235400
Yorkshire Pigs,} 59458200
Large Berkshire Pigs, 198000
Other large Breeds, 166400
Suffolk Pigs, 2810500
Improved Berkshire Pigs, 459500
Other Small Breeds, 236600
Pigs all Breeds, 112000
Foreign Stock,11500
Grains, Seeds, &c.,} 22476482200
Roots, &c., 54625400
Fruit, 69027050
Garden Vegetables, 64426950
Plants and Flowers, 14222850
Dairy Products,6320121000
Agricultural Implements, (Power,)} 10122677100
Agricultural Implements, (Hand,) 15320450
Artificial Cattle Food, Manures, &c.,61500
Foreign Agricultural Implements,3921000
Arts Department, (in Medals,)16000
Architectural and Miscellaneous Useful Arts,7015900
Cabinet Ware and other Wood Manufactures,1812023600
[D]Carriages, Sleighs, &c.,40478800
Furs and Wearing Apparel,282500
Fine Arts,7826229100
Groceries, Provisions, &c.,19418200
Indian Work,34600
Ladies' Department,16553522700
Machinery, Castings, &c.,} 2914037700
Metal Work, Plain and Ornamental, 898700
Musical Instruments,269500
Natural History,5027400
Paper, Printing, Bookbinding, &c.,7619100
[D]Saddlery, Harness. Leather, &c.,7214800
[D]Shoe and Boot Work and Leather,679900
Woolen, Flax, and Cotton Goods,9915927200
Foreign Manufactures,21  
Amateur Bands,332500

In 1849 included under the head of Carriages and Sleighs, and Leather manufactures and Furs.

Note.—The Medals and copies of Transactions of the Board are included in the above statement; the gold Medals being valued at $40 each, the silver Medals at $10 each; and the transactions at $1 per volume. Where the amount of prizes awarded exceeds that offered, the excess is caused by extra prizes, or, in the case of live stock, by the additional amount for imported animals.

Some permanent buildings are now erected at Toronto, Hamilton, London, and Kingston, respectively, for the express purposes of holding annual exhibitions. In 1862, the annual meeting was held at Toronto, and permanent provision made for stabling 198 horses and 435 head of cattle. The amount of prizes offered exceeded 1,600 dollars.

Such is the progress which has been made during fifteen years, in bringing together the different industries of Upper Canada, and teaching her people those lessons which can only be learned by friendly competition in an arena open to all, without distinction, prejudice, or favor. The cause of this rapid improvement is no doubt in great part due to the immigration of scientific agriculturists, as well as practical farmers, who have learned and studied husbandry in all its branches in the best districts of England and Scotland. Any improvement which takes place, either in stock, implements, or farming practice, either in Europe or the United States, is immediately imported, and, if satisfactory, adopted in Upper Canada. By means of the different agricultural societies, all needful information respecting the results attained are speedily made known, and there is now no lack of enterprising and energetic men who gladly embrace every opportunity of improving the farming practice. The financial condition of the Association and the Board of Agriculture, afford incontestible proof of the deep root which these institutions have taken in Canada. It will be remembered that in 1846 they commenced their operations without funds, relying solely on subscriptions. In 1859, the large sum of $110,908.78 passed through the hands of the treasurer. Out of the surplus funds a handsome and commodious brick building has been erected in Toronto for the purposes of the Board, amply provided with space for museum, library, reading-room, large hall for public meetings, and a capacious seed-store.


Intimately connected with agriculture, in the common acceptation of the term, fruit-growing is now an accepted department of husbandry. Canada imports an immense quantity of fruit from the United States. In 1859-1861, inclusive, the value of the importation of green and dried fruit from the United States amounted to the following


The fruit crop of the state of New York is estimated as being worth annually $6,000,000; that of Canada may reach $500,000. The objects contemplated by the Fruit-Growers' Association for Upper Canada:

First.—The discussion by members of the society of the relative merits of the different kinds and varieties of fruit, the determination and selection of the best varieties suitable for cultivation in Canada West, and the publication of the list of fruits so selected and recommended.

Second.—The revision from time to time, as occasion may require, of the catalogue of fruits, and the addition thereto of such new varieties as may after a sufficient trial be deemed worthy of general cultivation, and striking out the names of any that may on further trial be found unworthy of cultivation, either from being deficient in flavor or not sufficiently hardy to stand the severity of our climate.

Third.—The promotion by the society of the cultivation and improvement of native and indigenous fruits, the testing of all new varieties of fruit, the discussion of their merits or defects, and making known the result of such trials.

Fourth.—The determination of the names of fruits; and the identification of fruits having different names in different localities, or which, having received new names through the ignorance or fraud of cultivators, have been distributed as new varieties.

Fifth.—The discussion of all questions relative to fruit culture, and disseminating information respecting the same, such as the most proper or most advantageous modes of cultivation; the soils and exposures most suitable for the different kinds of fruit; the manures most beneficial, and the best modes of applying the same; the diseases to which the various fruit-bearing trees, shrubs and plants are liable, with the remedies for such diseases; the insects injurious to the different kinds of fruit, and the best means of preventing or restraining their ravages; the best modes of ripening, gathering, and preserving fruits; and any other subject bearing upon fruit culture.

This association was reorganized in 1861, the Constitution and By-Laws having been framed and adopted in January, 1862. It already numbers most of the fruit-growers in the province among its members, and it will no doubt ere long take an important position.


These are established in most of the chief towns: Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Niagara, Cobourg, and Paris. In the bill now before Parliament it is proposed that "every horticultural society in any city, town or incorporated village, incorporated under this act, or which may have been incorporated under any other act of the Provincial Legislature, shall be entitled to a public grant equal to the amount subscribed by the members of such society, and certified by their treasurer to have been paid into his hands in the manner provided by the sections of the act relating to Agricultural Societies, provided that the whole amount granted to any such society shall not exceed one hundred pounds in any year."





The progress of horticulture in Canada may be inferred from what has taken place at and near Toronto since 1836. In that year, with a population of about 6,000, there were two small green-houses in the town, where common plants only were cultivated. In 1862, there exist many thousand square feet of glass-roofed structures, most of them built upon the most approved modern principles, and adapted to the growth of foreign grapes, green-house and exotic plants. Orchard houses are already numerous, and a taste for the delightful pursuit of horticulture is rapidly spreading. Some of the private green and hothouses are constructed on a very substantial and extensive scale; several thousand feet of pipes for the supply of hot water being used. The grounds of the horticultural society occupy five acres, in a most valuable part of the city, and are the gift of a zealous horticulturist and warm and generous supporter of whatever tends to improve and elevate his fellow-countrymen. Five acres adjoining have been purchased from the corporation, so that there is now in the midst, as it were, of the city of Toronto, a horticultural garden containing ten acres. In Hamilton the number of entries at the annual shows was 393 in 1851; in 1859 it rose to 1,418, or nearly four times as many.


Organized in 1860, and having for its object the introduction and distribution of new plants and seeds adapted to the wants of the country; experiments on the indigenous and domestic plants of Canada; the encouragement of arboriculture, forest-conservation, and the culture of fibre dye, oil, food and medicinal plants, together with the publication of papers embodying the results arrived at, and the information brought together by the above means, with the ultimate establishment of a Botanical and Experimental Garden.


Among other important adjuncts to the progress of agriculture in Upper Canada, there is a Chair of Agriculture in the University of Toronto, and a Veterinary School in connection with Board of Agriculture.

For an excellent summary of legislative enactments in favor of agriculture in Canada, see the first volume of the Transactions of the Board of Agriculture for Upper Canada.




Among farm products, wheat takes the first rank in the husbandry of Upper Canada. Formerly it occupied an equally prominent position in Lower Canada, but for many years this cereal has not been successfully cultivated in the eastern part of the province, in consequence of the Hessian fly, wheat midge, and an exhausting system of culture; it is now, however, slowly regaining its position in Lower Canada.

The following table shows the amount of wheat produced in Lower and Upper Canada in different years:

Lower Canada.Upper Canada.
Year.Bushels of Wheat.Year.Bushels of Wheat.

Long before Upper Canada was invaded by the whites, Lower Canada was a wheat exporting country; but the returns show a gradual falling off from about the year 1819. In 1790 the valley of the Richelieu produced 40 bushels to the acre.


* ** * ** * *
1817, 1818,546,50069,100

It is probable that a considerable portion of the exports from Quebec between 1816 and 1822 came from Upper Canada.

An inspection of the foregoing table will show that the cultivation of wheat in Lower Canada has long since been of a precarious character; two instances are known, namely, in 1796 and 1819, when the exports became merely nominal, while in 1802, before Upper Canada could contribute any proportion of exports, the amount of wheat and flour sent from Quebec reached 1,010,033 bushels, and 28,300 barrels respectively. Even when Upper and Lower Canada are taken together in relation to the export of wheat, the progress is shown to be far from uniform.


per Bushel.
1853,$ 7,322,324$1 156,267,628
1854,6,742,2001 315,146,795
1855,11,750,0201 856,351,362
1856,10,476,3271 397,536,925
1857,3,690,4281 063,841,536
1858,2,763,5090 972,848,977
1859,1,097,7421 061,035,606
1860,6,367,0611 135,637,222
1861,9,299,3511 088,613,195


Until recently, with few exceptions, wheat has been cultivated without regard to rotation of crops, both in Upper and Lower Canada. Several reasons have led to this very improvident system of farming practice, independently of a general want of knowledge regarding the first principles of husbandry. For a long time wheat was the only product of the farm upon which reliance could be placed as a mean of obtaining ready money. Wheat has always been a cash article; other farm products have often sought a market in vain, and were consequently given by the farmer in barter or exchange for many of the necessaries he required. Since the construction of railways, things have changed; a market has been found for almost every production of the farm, and with a more general spread of agricultural knowledge, a better farming practice has been established, and the value of rotation of crops acknowledged. Both in Upper and Lower Canada, vast areas of most fertile land have been rendered absolutely unproductive by continual wheat cropping. Portions of the valley of the Richelieu in Lower Canada and of the Thames in Upper Canada afford striking proofs of this deterioration in the fruitfulness of the soil. Forty bushels to the acre was by no means an uncommon yield when the land was first cleared of its forest, as it now is in the valley of the Saugeen and Maitland. Rest for a few years, or deep plowing, restores the soil nearly to its original fertility, and where the last artifice is adopted, even on what are called worn-out farms, it is found that fair and sometimes excellent crops can be obtained. This is particularly the case in Lower Canada, where for centuries the soil has been merely skimmed, and the cultivation of wheat abandoned on account of the wretched yield obtained. By deep plowing these "worn-out lands" have been restored, and there is no doubt that the same artifice, if thoroughly carried out, would bring many a wheat field of by-gone celebrity back to its original productiveness, if a judicious rotation of crops were adopted.


Insects here as elsewhere on this continent have been the great enemies of the wheat crops, before which the best practice has failed. The wheat midge, the Hessian fly, and that destructive fungus, "rust," have in many instances ruined the productive capabilities of whole counties, and in one instance the greater part of a province, for a term of years. A glance at the tables of annual exportation, given on a preceding page, will show how terrible has been the effect of insect destroyers. In 1856, the exportation of wheat rose to 9,391,531 bushels; in 1857 it fell to 6,482,199, and 1859 to 4,032,627 bushels, or less than one half the exportation of 1856. This diminution must be attributed in great part to the wheat midge, of which a short account is given in subsequent paragraphs.

The first recorded appearance of the wheat midge in Lower Canada took place in 1829. In 1834 it appeared in vast numbers near Montreal, and in the following year, and in 1836, it destroyed a great quantity of the wheat crops in the valley of the St. Lawrence. In the year 1849 it appeared in the eastern counties of Upper Canada, but previously to this date the production of wheat in Lower Canada had fallen from 3,404,756 bushels in 1831 to 942,835 in 1844. In 1851 the average production of some of the best wheat-growing counties of Upper Canada fell from twenty-two to six bushels to the acre in consequence of this pest. Its progress westward in Upper Canada during the years 1851 and 1852 was very marked. In 1854 this insect caused a loss in the wheat crop of the state of New York exceeding fifteen million dollars, and in some counties in Canada, its destructive influence was felt in the same proportion. In the region of the Lower St. Lawrence it was very destructive in 1855, although not generally prevalent in the United States, although very abundant and destructive in the previous year. In 1856 this insect had progressed as far westward as the Niagara counties, and on the lake shore west of Toronto. Its ravages in Canada during this year were estimated at $2,500,000. It appeared on the Thames in 1856, and throughout a large part of the western peninsula its depredations were felt.

There are several species of the wheat-midge, but the differences are so small as not readily to strike the eye of the unpracticed or unscientific observer. The most common species is a small orange-colored fly with delicate, transparent, viridescent wings, and long, slender legs. The length of this insect is about the tenth of an inch, the breadth of its expanded wings slightly exceeds the tenth of an inch. It appears in Canada during the latter part of June, and remains until the middle of August. The eggs are deposited in the germ of the still undeveloped grain, through its chaff or sheath. The number of eggs rarely exceeds ten, but as several insects lay their eggs in the same floret, from ten to forty larvæ have been counted in one floret. The young maggots feed upon the juices of the grain, and dry it up. It appears to be most destructive during dry summers, like other insect pests.

In 1859 this midge was destructive in the county of Welland, but in other parts of Canada it appears to have exhausted itself. The remedy universally adopted or recommended is to sow early kinds of winter wheat very early in the season, and the Fife spring wheat either very early or not until after the 20th of May.


Between the years 1805 and 1816, the Hessian fly was very destructive in some parts of Lower Canada. In 1819 the importations of wheat fell to 37,800 bushels, having in 1802 exceeded one million bushels. This diminution is in great part attributed to the Hessian fly. In 1830 it began to disappear in Lower Canada, and in 1836 it was no longer to be found. In 1846 it appeared in Upper Canada, having been very destructive during the previous year in western New York, Ohio, Michigan, and the western states generally. In 1847 it was common about Toronto, and strange to say, although great fears were entertained for the safety of the harvest of 1848 in the United States on account of the remarkable prevalence of the insect in the previous year, the crop of 1848 proved to be one of the best ever grown, so remarkable and mysterious are the laws which govern the increase and decrease of insects destructive to vegetation.

Other wheat insect depredators are comparatively harmless with the exception of the wire-worm. Upwards of sixty species of the larvæ of beetles belonging to the genus Elater are known to entomologists. They feed upon the roots and underground stems of wheat, Indian corn, and the grasses generally. Sometimes the wire-worm is found in such destructive abundance that it cuts off the young crops as fast as they appear two or three inches above the surface.

Rust is justly considered one of the greatest enemies to the wheat crops of this continent. Its attacks are often so unexpected and universal that it has been likened to a whirlwind of blight, which sweeps over thousands and tens of thousands of square miles in the short space of a single night. In 1837, 1840 to 1846, 1849, 1850 and 1855, this fungus was very destructive in many states of the Union and in different parts of Canada. Draining, and early sowing with properly prepared seed, are the best preventives of rust. As, in most other cases, good husbandry is the surest mode of withstanding the attacks of this minute vegetable organism, whose seeds or sporules are always floating in the air during the summer season and instantly vegetate when those climatic conditions occur favorable to "rust." The only plan is to have the wheat plant strong enough to bear its attack when it comes, and the soil in such a state that it will not foster its growth by an unhealthy condition of the plant.

Average per Acre.—According to returns to circulars sent by the Bureau of Agriculture in 1860 to the Presidents of the different Agricultural Societies in the Province, the following data with reference to the yield of wheat has been collected:


Winter wheat.
No. of bushels per acre.
Spring Wheat.
No. of bushels per acre.

The total average for the Province is 21 bushels of winter wheat to the acre, and 18-2/3 bushels of spring wheat. The number of acres of winter wheat now cultivated in Upper Canada is only about one-third of the whole cropped with wheat. Five years ago there was not one acre of spring wheat for every ten of winter wheat. This change has been brought about by the ravages of the wheat midge. No doubt when draining becomes more generally adopted, farmers will return to the cultivation of winter wheat.

In Lower Canada the county of Laval returned 18 bushels to the acre of winter wheat, Ottawa 15, Pontiac 20 and 15 bushels. Of spring wheat in Terrebonne the average is stated to be 20, Megantic 18, Grantham 17, Leeds 16½. The total average of spring wheat for Lower Canada being 13 bushels to the acre. The midge was destructive in several counties in Lower Canada in 1859, destroying from 25 to 50 per cent. of the crop.

The wheat crop of 1858 was very deficient; it averaged for winter wheat not more than 12 bushels to the acre, or about 33-1/3 per cent. less than the general yield of 18 bushels to the acre. The yield of spring wheat in 1858 was 13½ or 15 per cent. below the general annual average. The wheat midge was found to prevail in every county on the lake shores of Upper Canada. Rust was this year about as destructive as the midge, although the Fife wheat was stated not to be injured by rust. Generally the wheat crop of 1858 was about 25 per cent. below the average. The pea crop was beyond the average, the potato crop 25 per cent. below.

In 1857 the wheat crop was 31 per cent. below the general annual average. These deficient crops will explain without further comment the small exportations of wheat from Canada during 1858 and 1859; they will also show that the western peninsula, although nearly surrounded by vast bodies of fresh water which exercise a marked and beneficial influence upon its climate, is scarcely less liable to the terrible visitations of the midge, the Hessian fly and rust, than those parts of the United States, where wheat has been partially abandoned as a farm crop in consequence of these destroyers. In good husbandry only can we hope for a remedy against the attacks of insects and of rust, but there is no doubt that by draining, the selection of early varieties of wheat, and sowing very early or late, the wheat destroyers can be overcome. The lessons taught in 1858 and 1859, have been productive of great good to the country; they have opened the eyes of a great number of farmers to the necessity of due attention to the first and leading principles of good husbandry, namely, draining and rotation of crops.


The total average of oats in Upper Canada was 34½ bushels per acre in 1859; in 1858 the average was only 32 bushels. In Lower Canada the returns show an average of 22½ bushels per acre.


The average return of this grain in Upper Canada is 27½ bushels to the acre; in Lower Canada it is 23 bushels. The growth of barley is very much on the increase in Lower Canada. Winter barley is coming into extensive use; as much as 60 bushels to the acre have been produced in the county of Maitland.


The average return in Upper Canada is 18 bushels to the acre; in Lower Canada 13 bushels.


Thirty bushels to the acre is the average for Upper Canada in 1859. In Lower Canada, Indian corn, peas, and buckwheat seem to be very little cultivated, and with indifferent success.


The average for Upper Canada is 23½ bushels per acre; the curculio, which for many years had been very destructive in the Province previous to 1858, appears to have disappeared in 1859, affording another instance of the vicissitudes of insect life.


In Upper Canada the average was 125 bushels to the acre in 1858; in 1859 it rose to 176 bushels. In Lower Canada the average was 175 bushels in 1859, about 50 per cent. greater than in 1858.


Hay is a better crop in Lower than in Upper Canada, the averages for the eastern half of the Province being about 2 tons to the acre, whereas in the western division it is not more than 1¼ tons.


The cultivation of this valuable vegetable is increasing in Canada, and some magnificent crops are produced in both sections of the Province.


A sketch of the progress of agriculture in Canada would be incomplete if the manner in which the vast wilderness in the rear of the thickly settled parts of the country is yearly invaded by thousands of hardy and industrious settlers. In Upper Canada the country between Lake Huron and the upper waters of the Ottawa River has been penetrated by colonization roads, on the line of which free grants of land are made to actual settlers. In Lower Canada, the valley of Lake St. John and the St. Maurice, the peninsula of Gaspé, and the shores of the estuary of the St. Lawrence below Quebec, are intersected by roads cut by government through the wilderness, and free grants made to actual settlers, as in Upper Canada. In illustration of what has been done on these colonization roads, two examples are selected, one from each division of the Province.

On the Ottawa and the Opeongo colonization road in Upper Canada, 1,090 acres of free grants were allotted in 1859; in 1860 the area amounted to 1,468 acres. The number of acres cleared up to the 31st of December, 1859, was 2,016; in 1860 it reached 2,623, showing that on one road alone 607 acres of forest fell before the settler's ax in one year. Upon 1,468 acres actually cropped in 1860, there were raised:

268""Indian corn,1.00"268.00

—which sum shows the average value of the produce of each acre to be $30.32.

On the Elgin road in Lower Canada, below Quebec, 23,507 acres have been allotted, of which 1,457½ acres were under improvement; 238 souls were residing on the road, and 54 houses and 41 barns and stables erected. Grain and potatoes to the value of $3,291.30 were raised in 1860, and the actual amount of the settlers' labor on this colonization road was equal to $26,194 in 1860. The total length of colonization roads opened in the province in 1860 amounted to 483½ miles. This invasion of the wilderness by means of free grants of land to actual settlers, on lines of road cut out by the government, is fast peopling that vast region north of the immediate valley of the St. Lawrence and the great lakes, and must soon exercise a very important influence upon the wealth, power, and political influence of the country.

CENSUS OF 1851 AND 1861.

The following comparative tables will show the increase which has taken place in various agricultural productions in Upper Canada since 1851. The census tables for Lower Canada were not published at the time of going to press, and therefore the data for that part of the province is not so complete as for the sister half.

A comparison between the census reports of 1851 and 1861 will show in a very striking manner the progress which has been made in Agricultural Industry during the last ten years in Upper Canada.


Of the Agricultural Products, &c., of Upper Canada in the years 1851 and 1861.

Population of Upper Canada,952,0041,396,091
Occupiers of land,90,906131,983
Indian Corn,do.1,688,8052,256,290
Mangel Wurzel,do.54,206546,971
Flax or Hemp,pounds59,6801,225,934
Maple Sugar,do.3,669,8746,970,605

It will be observed upon inspection of the foregoing table that in every item enumerated an increase has taken place, in some instances of a very favorable character, indicating progress in the true principles of farming practice.

The cultivation of root crops is progressing with extraordinary rapidity, as shown by the production of 18,000,000 bushels of turnips in 1861 against a little over 3,000,000 bushels in 1851. The production of mangel wurzel has increased tenfold; wheat has doubled itself; barley shows more than a fourfold increase; peas, threefold; and the production of flax and hemp in 1861 is twenty times greater than in 1851. The cash value of the farms of Upper Canada reaches the enormous sum of $295,000,000.

We now turn to the live stock as shown in the following


Of Live Stock in Upper Canada in the years 1851 and 1861.

Bulls, Oxen, and Steers,192,14099,605
Milch Cows,297,070451,640
Calves and Heifers,255,249464,083
    Total value of Live Stock,$43,227,486

Including colts and fillies.

The remarkable diminution in the numbers of bulls and oxen arises, probably, from the more general use of horses for farm work. The small increase in the number of sheep is surprising; but from the wool returns the fleece must be much heavier than formerly; for, while the increase of the number of sheep is only 120,057, the excess of the wool crop of 1861 over that of 1851 exceeds 1,000,000 pounds.

The third comparative table to which we now turn relates rather to manufactures than to agriculture: it exhibits the mode in which the raw material was utilized, and the progress made in domestic manufactures:—


Showing the Number of Yards of Fulled Cloth, Flannel, and Linen Manufactured in Upper Canada in 1851 and 1861, respectively.

Fulled Cloth,yards531,560497,520

In the manufacture of fulled cloth a marked diminution is perceptible; but a considerable increase has taken place in the production of linen and flannel,—yet far from being so large as might reasonably have been anticipated from the remarkable progress of the country in Agricultural Industry.



The Canadian forests are great but far from inexhaustible sources of national wealth. The circumstances attending the first settlement of a new country necessarily involved an enormous destruction of valuable trees, which at the time of the invasion of the wilderness by the pioneer of civilization were hewn down, cut into lengths, piled into heaps and consumed by fire as fast as possible, in order to admit the warm sunlight to the earth and fit it for the plow. Millions of magnificent trees which would now command a fabulous price have been destroyed in this way, so that the lumberman is compelled year by year to retreat farther into the wilderness, and this will continue until the inferior quality of the timber arising from a too rigorous climate arrests his operations. The products of the Canadian forest consist chiefly of timber in all its forms, from the massive square timber to the crooked "knees" for ship-building, together with ashes, both pot and pearl.


The following table will show the kinds of Canadian woods now brought into the markets, with the average prices:

Oak,per cubic foot,according to average30to40
White Pine, square,do.do. and quality10"18
White Pine, Waney,do.according to average.18"25
Red Pine,do.do.18"25
Ash,do.14 inches and upwards15"20
Birch,do.16 inches average17"20
Tamarac,do.according to average17½"24
Walnut,do.     "     "45"50
Cherry,do.     "     "45"50
Basswood,per cubic foot,according to average12"15
White Wood,do.do.27"32
Maple, hard,do.do.22"25
Maple, bird-eye,do.do.22"25
Red Oak,do.do.30"35
Iron Wood,do.do...."...
White Cedar,do.do.15"20
Deals, Pine, Bright:1 ql. St. Psbg std.$48 00to$50 00
2 do.34 00"42 00
3 do.26 00"30 00
Floatedare usually $2 per std. less. 
Spruce:1 quality, St. Petersburg std.$26to$28
2 do.          do.20"24
3 do.          do.16"20
Boards,per 1000 feet,12"16
Staves:all pipes, per mille,$200to$220
assorted, standard, per mille,190"210
West India,55"65
Railway Sleepers,9x8x6, per 100 pieces,26"28
Ash Oars,manufactured, per pair, according to length$1 20to$2 40
Ash Oars,rough,55"1 00
White Pine masts,$4 per inch, to say 20 inches; $6 to say 30 inches.
Red Pine spars,say 15 inches, $14 to $16.

The following table shows the export of timber during the year 1861:

White Pine,523,112"2,594,388
Red Pine,71,381"508,609
Walnut,948M. feet22,094
Basswood, Butternut, and Hickory,1,786"18,524
Standard Staves,1,765mille248,653
Other Staves,4,989"167,385
Scantling and Treenails,18,585
Deals,67,333S. han.2,189,792
Deal ends,1,929"49,750
Planks and Boards,165,583M. feet.1,570,381
Other woods, railroad ties, &c.,390,484

One hundred years ago (1759) the exports of lumber amounted to $31,250; about half a century since (1808) the value of the exports of lumber did not exceed $400,000, so that within the memory of many who can recollect lumbering operations at the commencement of the present century, the foreign trade has increased twenty-fold, besides the enormous quantities which have been consumed by a population growing from 300,000 to nearly 3,000,000 souls. The value of the imports of lumber in 1860 exceeded $10,000,000.


The most important and extensive timber territories of Canada are subjoined:

1st. The country drained by the Ottawa, containing an area of 75,000 square miles. The white pine, red pine, and ash are chiefly obtained from this region.

2nd. The St. Maurice and its tributaries, draining an area of 22,000 square miles. Contains large quantities of white, yellow and red pine, spruce, birch, maple, and elm.

3rd. The Saguenay country, area 21,000 square miles. Rich in white and red pine, spruce, birch, and tamarac.

4th. The north shore of Lake Huron. White and red pine, spruce, cedar, birch, and maple.

5th. The extensive Gaspé Peninsula. White and red pine, spruce, tamarac, and birch.

6th. The Peninsula of Canada West contains oak, elm, and walnut.

7th. The Ontario territory, north of Lake Ontario, still contains a large amount of white pine, elm, maple, &c.


Not less than twenty-five thousand persons are directly engaged in lumbering operations. Government works, technically called slides, have been constructed on the sides of the falls on the great rivers down which the lumber is floated from the interior. Farmers have followed the lumberers far beyond the frontiers of the settlements, in order to supply them with oats, potatoes, peas and hay; the lumberers are essentially the pioneers of civilization, and although they leave the marks of desolation behind them in their progress through the wilderness, these soon become obliterated, and the snug farm-house in the course of a few years occupies the site of the lumberer's rude log shanty, being the second stage of the transformation of the forest wilds into fruitful farms.

The amount of revenue accruing from timber dues and ground rent in 1861 was $327,503, and from slide dues $55,546, or a total of $383,050.

British American lumber is chiefly exported to the United Kingdom, but there can be no doubt that the trade is diminishing, while there is every prospect of an increased trade taking place between continental European ports and British America. Thirty years ago, one-third of all the British tonnage trading beyond the seas, or about 300,000 tons, navigated by 16,000 seamen, was engaged in the colonial timber trade. During the year 1830 out of 40,000 emigrants which arrived from Europe, more than 30,000 were carried out by the timber ships. During the four years between 1857 and 1860, both inclusive, the proportion of British North American lumber imported into the United Kingdom was in

185750per cent. of the whole.

Hence it appears that the average decrease in the imports of lumber from British North America to the United Kingdom, during the above period, is about 11½ per cent., while the increase on the imports of foreign lumber is nearly 10 per cent. During 1861 about twenty cargoes of Canadian lumber were exported to the continent of Europe, and numerous inquiries continue to be made respecting the timber resources of the country. So rapidly is the price of timber increasing in France that standing timber worth 50 francs per 35 cubic feet in 1852 was worth 100 francs five years later.

The industry to which the manufacture of the different products of the forest gives rise is very extensive. In 1851 there were 1,567 saw-mills in Upper Canada, and 1,065 in Lower Canada. The number of feet manufactured during the year amounted to 391,051,820 and 381,560,950 respectively. Since 1851 the quantity manufactured has no doubt increased enormously, but no data are at present published from which satisfactory conclusions can be drawn, although some conception of the magnitude of the trade may be formed from the fact that planks and boards to the value of $1,507,546 were exported to the United States in 1861, being not far from half the total production of Upper Canada ten years previously, although the trade had suffered to a remarkable extent in consequence of the calamitous civil war which is now wasting the energies of our brethren across the international boundary.

The exportation of planks and boards to the United States is one of the most important Canadian sources of prosperity as may be inferred from the following table.

Value of Exports of Planks and Boards to the United States from 1857 to 1861 inclusive.


The sudden diminution from more than 3,000,000 in 1860 to 1,500,000 in 1861 results from a temporary depression occasioned by the civil war in which the United States are unhappily engaged.

The year 1845 was a most prosperous one for the lumber trade. The quantity of square timber brought to market that season amounted to 27,704,344 feet, and the quantity exported was 24,223,000 feet. In 1846 the quantity brought to the Quebec market rose to 37,300,643 feet, but only 24,242,689 feet were exported. Hence prices fell to a ruinous degree and a great blow was given to the trade during that year. In 1847 there was a stock supply of more than 44,000,000 feet to meet a demand for 19,000,000 and in 1848 a total supply of 39,000,000 to meet a demand for 17,000,000. Under such circumstances it is not to be wondered at that the timber trade became exceedingly depressed. The excitement of high prices has fostered over-production, and the diminished consumption of Canadian timber in Great Britain brought prices down to the lowest ebb. When the trade is in a prosperous condition the profits are sometimes excessive, speculation then ensues and ruin frequently follows. The character of the trade is changing as the timber groves become more remote, more capital being required to carry on lumbering operations on a profitable scale. Many lumberers now invest a considerable portion of their capital in clearing and cultivating farms in connection with their timber limits for the purpose of raising provender for their stock and food for their hands.

A glance at forest industry would be incomplete if we were not to note a contingency to which the timber trade is becoming more and more liable each year. One of the most destructive agents in the vast pine forests north of the St. Lawrence, is fire. Thousands of square miles of the forest timber have been ruined by this ruthless destroyer. Fires in the woods do not generally extend so far as one at the first blush supposes; they rarely go beyond thirty miles in length by ten in breadth, but it is the frequent occurrence of these fires which in the long run of years lays waste so much valuable property; and with the progress of the lumberers in the wilderness the chances of fresh conflagrations yearly become more imminent.

The produce of the forest of most importance next to lumber has always been pot and pearl ashes. Potashes are made from the crude ashes by dissolving the soluble salts with water, evaporating to dryness and fusing at a red heat into a compact mass, which although grey on the outside is pink colored within. Pearlash is made by calcining potashes upon a reverberatory hearth until the carbon and much of the sulphur is dissipated. Water is then added, and a lye formed, which, when evaporated to dryness, yields the pearlash of commerce. Canadian potashes contain on an average about 60 per cent. of carbonate of potassa. Pearlash contains generally about 50 per cent. of caustic potassa. The quantity of potashes obtained from the combustion of the trees or vegetables on a given area of ground depends altogether upon the species. Thus, while the pine yields only 0.45 per mille, the oak gives 1.53, the willow 2.85, elm and maple 3.90 per mille, or 39 per cent. The value of ashes, both pot and pearl, exported from Canada during the years 1859 to 1861 inclusive, was as follows—three-fourths going to the United Kingdom:


In addition to these staple productions of our forests, we have a growing trade in Canada balsam, turpentine, pitch, spruce gum, oil of spruce, oil of hemlock, hemlock bark, maple sugar, bark of the basswood, bark of the butternut, and of the hickory, sassafras, sumach, bark of the white oak, and of the slippery elm, besides the medicinal plants common to Canada and the northern States of the American Union.


Comparative Statement of the Produce of the Forest, from 1853 to 1861, inclusive:


Very few years have elapsed since the produce of the forest formed the most important of Canadian exports, as the following comparison will show. Of late years, agriculture has asserted a superior claim and will no doubt maintain it:

Value of the Products of the Forest exported,$5,310,148$5,442,936$6,038,180
Value of all other productions,4,000,1085,237,0565,260,340
Balance in favor of Forests,$1,310,040$205,880$777,840
Value of Agricultural Productions exported,$7,339,798$14,259,225$18,244,631
Value of the Products of the Forest exported,9,663,96211,012,2539,572,645
Balance in favor of Forests,$2,324,164  
Balance in favor of Agriculture,$3,247,972$8,671,986


A lumberer's life is full of that half-wild excitement which belongs to the wilderness, and few who have engaged in this apparently laborious and at times dangerous industry are willing to relinquish it for the tamer pursuits of the farm. When anyone intends to "make timber," as it is technically called,—that is, to cut and bring lumber to market,—the first operation is to take a "limit," and having thoroughly explored it and laid out roads to the most convenient water-course or "drivable" creek, he engages his men, either for cutting the timber, or for cutting the timber and the "drive" (or from the time of commencing operations to the period when it is brought to Quebec or any other convenient port.) A "grove of pine" having been found and rough roads cut or laid out if necessary, the operation of making the timber commences. The hands are divided into gangs, which generally consist of four or more cutters who fell the trees and bark them for the liner. The liner marks the tree for the "scorers," who block it off,—that is, cut off branches, knots, &c. The broad-ax man follows, who squares and finishes the "pieces." During the winter, when the snow lies sufficiently deep on the ground, each piece is hauled by a yoke of oxen or a pair of horses to the bank of the drive, where the timber is piled on or near the roll-way until the return of spring melts the frozen creek and the waters rise to a convenient "driving condition." A lumber "shanty" generally contains three or four gangs, headed by a foreman whose duty it is to call the men up in the morning, lay off their work, take their time, and superintend operations generally. The broad-ax man makes each night a return of the quantity of timber made during the day. When the rivers are in suitable driving condition, the most perilous and laborious part of lumbering operations begins. The pieces are pushed into the stream and floated down to its junction with the main river, where they are retained by a temporary boom. When the tributary streams on which the lumber is made are narrow, it is a matter of some difficulty to accomplish the drive, and the men are often exposed for weeks together to all the inconveniences and dangers which attend frequent wading through in cold water. Jams not unfrequently occur at the bends of the stream or above falls, and the utmost caution is necessary in removing the obstruction which retains the confused mass of pieces, apparently involved in inextricable confusion. The cutting away of a single stick or piece is often sufficient to set the accumulated mass in motion, and accidents of a fatal description are not unfrequent in endeavoring to loosen a "jam." The main river once reached, a number of pieces are fastened together by means of withes, and formed into a raft, which slowly floats down the river towards a sea or lake port. The great distance up the tributaries of the large rivers draining a timber territory to which the lumberers have penetrated, often causes the drive to occupy from two to three months. An idea of the immense distance from which lumber is now brought may be obtained when it is known that the lumberers traveling up the tributaries of the Ottawa are now meeting those who have ascended the rivers flowing into Lake Huron; and the broad height of land which sends waters to the St. Lawrence by the tributaries of the Ottawa, to Lake Ontario by the Trent, and to Lake Huron by the Muskoka and other rivers, resounds with the ax and shout of lumbermen who have reached the same spot by traversing the rivers draining three different water-sheds, after clearing the country of all timber groves conveniently situated for driving.



Beyond the dividing ridge which separates the waters flowing into Lake Superior from those which take a north-westerly and then northerly direction towards Hudson's Bay, lies the Great Inland Basin of Lake Winnipeg, occupying a very considerable extent of the North American continent, and forming part of the British possessions known as the North-West Territory, or Rupert's Land.

The Basin of Lake Winnipeg extends from the 90th to the 118th meridian. Its most easterly margin lies on the boundary of Canada, west of Lake Superior, in long. 90° 14′, lat. 48° 53′, being the head waters of Savanne River, a remote tributary of the Winnipeg. The most westerly limit of this vast basin is the Glacier, near Howse' Pass, in long. 117° 35′, lat. 51° 52′, from which a branch of the Saskatchewan takes its rise. The southern extension of its boundary is Lake Traverse, in Dakotah territory, long. 96° 43′, lat. 45° 58′. It stretches north as far as Frog Portage, long. 103° 30′, lat 55° 26′. This Basin consequently extends over 28 degrees of longitude and 10 degrees of latitude. The elevation of its eastern boundary is 1,485 feet above the ocean, and the height of land near the sources of the tributary which rises farthest to the west is 6,347 feet above the same level. Its northern boundary is separated from the valley of the Mississippi by a low portage over which waters flow during floods, while towards the south, Lake Traverse, which also sends water into the Mississippi during spring freshets, is only 820 feet above the sea. The outlet of Lake Winnipeg is through the contracted and rocky channel of Nelson River, which flows into Hudson's Bay. The mean breadth of the Basin of Lake Winnipeg is about 380 English miles, and its mean length 920 miles, hence its area is approximately 360,000 square miles, or about as large as the Province of Canada.

Lake Winnipeg is 628 feet above the sea, and, with Lakes Manitobah, Winnipegosis, and Dauphin, covers an area exceeding 13,000 square miles, or about half as much as Ireland. The country possessing a mean elevation of one hundred feet above Lake Winnipeg is well marked by an ancient lake ridge called Pembina Mountain, and may contain 70,000 square miles, nine-tenths of which are lake, marsh or surface rock of Silurian or Devonian age, and generally so thinly covered with soil, with the exception of that part of the valleys of Red River and the Assiniboine which lie within it, as to be unfit for cultivation, except in small detached areas.

Succeeding the low regions there are the narrow terraces of the Pembina Mountain, which rise in abrupt steps, except where cut by the broad valleys of rivers, to the level of a higher plateau, whose eastern limit is formed by the precipitous escarpments of the Riding, Duck, and Porcupine Mountains, with detached outlines, Turtle, Thunder, and Pasquia Mountains. This is the great Prairie Plateau of Rupert's Land; it is bounded towards the south-west and west by the Grand Coteau du Missouri, which forms the north-eastern limit of the Plains of the north-west. The area of the Prairie Plateau is about 120,000 square miles; it possesses a mean elevation of 1,100 feet above the sea, and consists of cretaceous rocks, overlaid in some parts with tertiary formations. The Riding and Duck Mountains, 1,600 feet above the ocean, no doubt once formed part of an unbroken level to the Grand Coteau, the intervening depression having been the result of denudation. The isolated range of hills, such as the Touchwood Hills, the File Hill, the Pleasant Hill, the Birch Hill, &c., are parts of this former elevated table-land, and would assume the character of islands in a sea washing the base of the Grand Coteau du Missouri. The Great Plains rise gently as the Rocky Mountains are approached, and at their western limit have an altitude of 4,000 feet above the sea level. With only a very narrow belt of intervening country, the mountains rise abruptly from the Plains, and present lofty precipices, frowning like battlements over the level country to the eastward and separating the rich golden treasures of British Columbia from the wide sterile wastes of the South Saskatchewan or the long and narrow fertile belt through which the North Saskatchewan pursues its winding course of nearly one thousand miles. The average altitude of the highest part of the Rocky Mountains is 12,000 feet; in lat. 51°, the forest extends to the altitude of 7,000 feet; or 2,000 feet above the Vermilion Pass. The "Fertile Belt" of the North-West consists of the richest arable soil, partly in the form of open prairie, partly covered with groves of aspen; it stretches from the Lake of the Woods to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, about 800 miles, and averages from 80 to 100 miles in breadth. The North Saskatchewan flows through this Fertile Belt, in a valley varying from one-fourth of a mile to one mile in breadth, and excavated to the depth of 200 to 300 feet below the level of the plains or prairie through which it flows, until it reaches the low country some miles east of Fort à la Corne. The area of this remarkable strip of rich soil and pasturage is about 40,000,000 acres. It was formerly a wooded country, but by successive fires it has been partially cleared of its forest growth, but abounds with the most luxuriant herbage, and generally possesses a deep, rich soil of vegetable mould. The winter of this region is not more severe than that of Lower Canada. The snow is never very deep, and in the wildest tracts the natural pasture is so abundant that horses and cattle may be left to obtain their own food during the greater part of the winter. This perennial supply of food for cattle might have been predicted from the fact that the North Saskatchewan west of Carlton supports vast herds of buffalo during the winter season, and formerly the whole of the fertile belt used to be the favorite winter quarters of countless herds who fattened on the rich abundance of the natural grasses, scraping the snow away with their feet, and never failing to obtain abundance of well preserved hay beneath. The Fertile Belt of the North Saskatchewan valley does not derive its importance from the bare fact that it contains 64,000 square miles of country immediately available for agricultural purposes in one continuous strip, 800 miles long and 80 broad, stretching across the continent; it is rather by contrast with an immense sub-arctic area to the north and a vast desert area to the south that this favored "Edge of the Woods" country acquires political and commercial importance. A broad agricultural region, capable of sustaining many millions of people, and abundantly supplied with iron ore and an inferior variety of coal, and spanning the eight hundred miles which separate Lake Winnipeg from the Rocky Mountains, more than compensates for the rocky character of the timbered desert between the Lake of the Woods and Lake Superior. The South Saskatchewan flows through an arid district which reaches as far north as lat. 52. The stiff clays of the cretaceous and tertiary deposits, often highly impregnated with salts, bakes into a hard and cracked surface during the summer. The characteristic plants of the arid region are the pretty prairie apples (Opuntia) and the shrub sage (Artemisia.) Within the fertile belt the alluvial flats of the river valleys are clothed with the balsam poplar and a dense thicket of willows, dogwood, amelanchier, and red willow, together with Shepherdia argentea. On the prairies of the Belt the aspen occurs in groves, and dense thickets of willows surround marshes and swamps. On the sides of the rising grounds the Elæagnus argentea forms a low silvery copse, affording food to large coveys of prairie grouse. On high ground, with a sandy soil, the bear-berry or kin-i-kinic forms a close matting. Towards the Rocky Mountains large expanses of plain are covered with a low birch or alder six to eight inches high, which in winter gives the appearance of a heather-covered moorland to these prairies. In June and July the prairies are covered with brightly colored flowers, or completely clothed with a dense copse of rose bushes and in many places of snow-berry. As the country towards the south merges into open prairies, the clumps of copse and young poplars are found only on northern exposures. The last outliers of the woods to the south form "Islands;" which make a great show in the distance, but when approached are found to consist of a small species of willow, that will yield neither fire-wood nor shelter.[3] The whole of the Fertile Belt is well fitted for settlement and agricultural colonization. All common cereals and green crops have been grown successfully at the different posts of the Hudson Bay Company within this district.

The recent discoveries of gold in British Columbia have given extraordinary importance to that colony, and to the great Fertile Belt of the Saskatchewan valley in view of a high road across the continent. During the season of navigation the facilities for reaching any part of Lake Superior are such that a vessel from Liverpool, of a capacity fitted to go through the locks of the Welland Canal, may discharge her cargo at Fort William or any port on this vast inland sea without breaking bulk. The next step in an overland communication to British Columbia is from Lake Superior to the settlement on Red River. The water parting is not more than 890 feet above Lake Superior, and the country is thickly wooded with valuable trees as far as the Lake of the Woods. There does not exist any difficulty in the construction of a road between Thunder Bay and the most easterly indent of Rainy Lake, a distance of 200 miles. Between Rainy Lake and the north-west angle of the Lake of the Woods, the country in rear of Rainy river, a distance of 120 miles, is unexplored, and its facilities for a direct land communication unknown. From the north-west angle of the Lake of the Woods to Fort Garry, 90 miles, is a level country, which has already been traveled by horses, although the swamps near Lac Plat are formidable. The third step is the valley of the Saskatchewan, already described, which, even in its present state is constantly traversed with horses and carts from Red River to the Rocky Mountains. The following are the altitudes of the principal passes in the mountains above the sea level:

Altitude in Feet.
Kicking Horse Pass, lat. 51° 25′,5,420
Vermilion Pass, lat. 51° 10′,4,944
Kananaski Pass, lat. 50° 40′,5,985
Kootanie Pass, lat. 49° 25′,6,000

The height of land not 5,000 feet above the sea on the line of the Vermilion Pass once crossed, the auriferous terraces of British Columbia come into view. The Cariboo and Kootanie diggings are both on the immediate west flank of the Rocky Mountain range, or between 400 and 500 miles from the Pacific coast. The whole valley of the upper Columbia is auriferous, and gold has been found on the eastern slope, two hundred miles from the mountains, in the bed of the Saskatchewan, but it is not probable that the auriferous region on the east of the mountain is of great extent, as the ancient rocks from which the gold must have been derived have not been observed on that side. A great future lies before the valley of the Saskatchewan; it will become the granary of British Columbia, the vast pasture field by which the mining industry of the Rocky Mountains will be fed. British Columbia is rich in the precious metals, but poor in arable land; the Fertile Belt of the Saskatchewan is marvelously fruitful in forage plants, possesses an admirable soil, and embraces besides an immense supply of coal and iron ore of the best quality. With these conditions, added to a very healthy climate, it is not too much to expect that the Basin of Lake Winnipeg will one day become the seat of an industrious, prosperous, and powerful people, who, in these days of steam, will always be able to communicate with the outer world for two months in the year, at least, by way of Hudson Bay, even if other outlets should be closed against them through unhappy international troubles.[4]


The vast peninsula which commonly bears the name of Labrador, a term more correctly applied to the north-eastern portion, occupies an area between the Atlantic and Hudson's Bay, lying within the forty-ninth and sixty-third parallels, and between the fifty-fifth and seventy-ninth meridians. The Gulf of St. Lawrence, the North Atlantic, Hudson's Straits and Hudson's Bay are its boundaries on three sides; Rupert's River, the Mistassinni and the Bersiamits rivers may be considered as forming the approximate south-western limits of this peninsula. From the mouth of Rupert's River on Hudson's Bay to the mouth of the Bersiamits on the St. Lawrence, the distance is about 470 miles, and from Cape Wolstenholme, the most northern point of the country to the Straits of Belle Isle, it is 1,100 miles. Traveling northward from the Hudson Bay Company's post at Bersiamits, in a direct line to Ungava Bay, the distance would be about 650 miles, while to Cape Wolstenholme to the west, not less than one thousand. The area of the Labrador Peninsula is approximately 42,000 square miles, or equal to the British Isles, France, and Prussia combined, and the greater portion of it lies between the same parallels of latitude as Great Britain.

The whole of this immense country is uninhabited by civilized man, with the exception of a few settlements on the St. Lawrence and the Atlantic coast, and some widely separated posts of the Hudson's Bay Company. It is very thinly peopled by nomadic bands of Montagnais, Nasquapee and Mistassinni Indians, and the northern coast by wandering Esquimaux. Taken as a whole it is a region altogether unfit for the abode of civilized man, and although once rich in fur-bearing animals, and in cariboo or reindeer, it is now almost a desert.

In the absence of any definite boundaries, the entire peninsula is divided into three parts, supposed to be separate water-sheds, to which special names have been given. The area draining into the River and Gulf of St. Lawrence, belongs to Canada, whose eastern boundary is at Blanc Sablon, near the mouth of the North-West River. The country supposed to be drained by rivers which flow into the Atlantic is called Labrador, and is under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland. The remaining part of the peninsula, which is drained by rivers flowing into Hudson's Bay, has received the designation of the East Main. The names and position of the mouths only of the numerous rivers which flow into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, from the Bay of Seven Islands to the Straits of Belle Isle, are correctly given in published maps of the country, and nearly the whole of our present knowledge of the east side of the Labrador Peninsula is derived from Capt. Bayfield's surveys, which are limited to the coast, and no map yet published exhibits a correct geographical picture of the interior of the country.

The Moisic or Miste-shipu River, the "Great River" of the Montagnais Indians, enters the Gulf of St. Lawrence in longitude 66° 10′, and has its sources in some of the lakes and swamps of the high table-lands of Eastern Canada. For centuries it has been one of the leading lines of communication from the interior to the coast, traveled by the Montagnais during the time when they were a numerous and powerful people, capable of congregating upwards of a thousand warriors to repel the invasion of the Esquimaux, who were accustomed to hunt for a few weeks during the summer months a short distance up the rivers east of the Moisic, as they do now on the Coppermine, Anderson's and Mackenzie's rivers in the country of the Hare Indians, and the Loucheux. The old and well-worn portage paths round falls and rapids and over precipitous mountains on the upper Moisic, testify to the antiquity of the route, independently of the traditions of the Indians who now hunt on the river and on the table-land to which it is the highway.

The Montagnais Indians have for centuries had a water communication between Seven Islands on the Gulf and Hamilton Inlet on the Atlantic Ocean, viâ the Moisic, the Ash-wa-nipi to a great lake on the table-land in the interior called Petshikupan, thence by the Hamilton River to the Inlet of the same name. The whole river may be known by the name of the Ashwanipi, which takes its rise near the head waters of the Moisic, and from which it is separated by a low and narrow water parting. The Ashwanipi flows through five degrees of longitude, and little more than two degrees of latitude, traversing the elevated table-land of the Peninsula in a direction roughly parallel to the Gulf coast. The table-land is 2,240 feet above the ocean at the sources of the east branch of the Moisic. It is pre-eminently sterile, and where the country is not burned, cariboo moss covers the rocks, with stunted spruce, birch and aspen in the hollows and deep ravines. The whole of the table-land is strewed with an infinite number of boulders, sometimes three and four deep; these singular erratics are perched on the summit of every mountain and hill, often on the edges of cliffs, and they vary in size from one foot to twenty feet in diameter. Language fails to paint the awful desolation of the table-land of the Labrador Peninsula.[5]



All tribes of Indians from the Red River of the North to the Atlantic coast of Labrador, draw a considerable share of their support from the lakes and rivers, by means of the fish-spear or "negog" of the Montagnais of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. But spearing any kind of fish during the daytime is a tame and monotonous occupation compared with the irrepressible excitement which attends spearing salmon by torch-light, with Indians who understand their work. It unfolds the real character of the Indian race in its most striking peculiarities; it displays untutored man in the full strength of his natural gifts, expresses his capabilities for intense enjoyment, and shows how he may be roused to exert for hours together the utmost activity of body and the greatest presence of mind.

See how gently they step into their canoe in the gloom of the evening just passing into night. They whisper to one another, although there is no fear of the sound of their voices disturbing the prey of which they are in search. Watch the one in the bow trying the flexible clasping tines of his "negog" or salmon-spear, springing them backward to see if they have lost their elasticity, or if they can be trusted to hold a powerful fish in their grasp; how he straightens the long and slender shaft and lays it tenderly under the bars of the canoe within reach of his hand. He next examines the rolls of birch-bark which he will use for torches, and fastens a cleft stick to the bow of his canoe, in which he will insert one extremity of the flaming roll. Turning round to ask his companion if he has "fire," he receives a low grunt in reply, which is followed by a subdued howh! howh! and both grasping their paddles, away the canoe glides towards the foot of the rapids, to a well known shallow, or close to the tumbling waters of a cataract where the fish are known to lie.

The torch is lit, and the spearman relinquishing his paddle stands in the bow of the canoe, glancing eagerly from side to side. Suddenly he pushes his spear in a slanting direction, and quickly draws it back, lifting a salmon into the canoe; a second push and another victim; now he attaches a thin line of sinew to his spear and twines it round his arm. Like an arrow he darts his spear; it is whirled away with a sudden jerk, and trembles in the stream; he gently but steadily draws it towards him with the line of sinew, and grasping it when within reach, lifts his quarry into the canoe. Look over the side of the little craft, the salmon are seen coming to the light, they gaze for a moment and glide away like spectres into the black waters; some of them swim round the canoe, and come to look again and again, pausing but for a moment to speculate upon its brightness, and the next lie quivering at the bottom of the canoe.

Both Indians at the same moment see a fish of unusual size approach the light, gaze without stopping and quickly move off, hover about at some little distance, suspicious and distrustful, but still attracted by the light. Gently and noiselessly the canoe is urged toward him by the Indian in the stern, no words pass between him and his companion, both saw the fish at the same moment and both know that they will take him. But look at the Indian with the spear, look at his face illumined by the red flare of the burning torch; his mouth is half open with suspense, but he does not breathe through it, his dilated eyes are flashing intent, he stands so motionless, with uplifted spear ready to strike, that he looks like a statue of bronze. But there is life in that expanding and contracting nostril, life in the two thin streams of vapor which puff from his nostrils into the keen night air; and is there not sudden and vigorous life in that swift dart of the spear, those parting lips closing together in unison with the fling of his arm? is there not intelligent life in that momentary light which flashes from his eyes, red like the gleams which they reflect, and in that smile, triumphant and assured, which he throws at his companion, as, without uttering a word or sound, he lifts with both hands the heavy fish straight from the water, holds it struggling over the canoe, and shakes it from his spear? Is this the languid, drowsy savage which you have often seen slouching through the day, indolent and listless, a sluggard and a drone?

They go to the foot of the cataract; the largest fish lie there in little eddies close to the rocks, waiting for an opportunity to take their leap up the tumbling waters, to sheltered parts above, where they may rest in their difficult ascent. Now is the full measure of the Indian's skill required; the broken water at the edge of the main rapid at the foot of the cataract rocks the canoe, and would seem to destroy the spearer's aim; the water is deep, and he must throw his weapon, he cannot push it as in the shallows or a quiet stream. The Indian who is steering and paddling must beware of strong eddies, of whirlpools, of getting under the cataract, or of sidling into the rapid below. He must have his eye on the canoe, the water, and the salmon, and his hand ready at any moment to edge off from danger and never give way to momentary excitement, even when the spear is thrown, and a heavy fish struck,—the rocks, the impetuous torrent, the tumbling waters at his bow, the flickering light not always to be relied on, must be watched, for a slight change in an eddy may swamp the fragile craft, or break it on a rock.

There is indescribable excitement in the dancing motion at the foot of a cataract, in a tiny birch-bark canoe, by the red light of a torch during a night without a moon. You see before you a wall of water, red, green and white tumbling incessantly at your feet, on either hand you gaze on a wall of rock, rising so high as to be lost in the gloom and apparently blending with the sky. You look behind and there is a foaming torrent rushing into the blackness of night, sweeping past the eddy in which your birch craft is lightly dancing to the loud music of a water-fall. No sound but its never-ceasing din can reach you; no near object meets your eye which does not reflect a red glare and assume an unaccustomed character which the warm and cheery color imparts. Suddenly the torch falls and is instantly extinguished in the rushing waters; absolute darkness envelopes you, the white foam, the changing green of the falling water, the red reflected light of the broken waves, all become uniformly and absolutely black. Nothing whatever is discernible to the eye, but perhaps another sense tells of swift undulating motion, a rolling ride over stormy waves, with lessening roar. Your eyes gradually recover their power of vision, and you find yourself either swaying up and down in the same eddy or far away from the fall on the main channel of the river, secure against whirlpools and rocks, with the Indians quietly paddling the canoe and about to turn again to resume their savage sport. The moment the light fell into the water, an event which often occurs with birch-bark torches, the Indian at the stern decided whether to remain in the eddy, or to enter the rapid and descend it until his power of vision was restored. This is a contingency for which all salmon-spearers in such situations must be prepared. Indecision might prove fatal; for if the eddy were safe in absolute darkness for a quarter of a minute, it would be wise to remain; if there is danger of being sucked under the fall, it would be well to seek refuge from a sudden deluge, or from rocks and whirlpools in the swift but tumultuous rapid. This can only occur on a large river, and at the foot of a fall. Water in rapid motion is a terrible power, and none know how to take advantage of its humors better than the wild Indian salmon-spearer, who avoids its dangers with matchless skill and self-possession, and who seeks the excitement it offers as if it were the mainspring of his life, or the aim of his existence.


From the earliest period when the fur trade was prosecuted with vigor in British America, those wanderers through the woods, the Coureurs du Bois, with their descendants, the Bois brules, or Half-breeds, have always occupied a prominent position on the frontiers of civilization, and latterly among many of the nomadic Indian tribes which peopled and still occupy the vast north-west territory. Life in the wilderness has not only peculiar charms to these children of the forest and the prairies, but it annually wins for months or for years many who have been brought up and educated in all the refinements of civilized society. It is difficult to say wherein lies the greatest charm of the wilderness of British America, within the limits of the valley of the St. Lawrence, or the valley of the Saskatchewan. Rocks, mountains, foaming torrents, magnificent cataracts, and endless forests distinguish the St. Lawrence. Boundless prairies, sweet-scented breezes, and gorgeous sunsets are the characteristics of the Saskatchewan. In summer the prairies are perhaps to be preferred, in winter the woods. The falls and rapids of the rivers flowing into the St. Lawrence to the east, or ultimately into Lake Winnipeg on the west, often present the wildest and most picturesque scenery, displaying every variety of tumultuous cascade, precipitous cliffs, deep gorges, treacherous and sullen eddies, huge swelling waves, rising massive and green over hidden rocks, or quiet and tranquil rivers gliding into lakes. Viewed under different aspects they convey all variety of impressions to the mind, cold and cheerless in the gray dawn of morning, pleasing and encouraging as they flash in the brightness of noonday, or melancholy and depressing as they silently glitter in the silver light of the moon. Few enjoyments can equal a bright camp-fire after a hard day's work in canoes, and no sleep is like the sleep of the toil-worn voyager, on the pine or spruce branches he spreads for his couch, beneath the cold, clear sky of autumn in the gloom of Lawrentian forests.


The dawn of morning when journeying through the wide and wild rocky ridge which separates the valley of the St. Lawrence from that of the Winnipeg, possesses scenes and associations which belong to itself. Rising from a bed on the hard rock, softened by a few spruce boughs and a north blanket, the paling stars and the cold, yellow light in the east first tell that the night is passed. On the lake a river by which the camp is made a dense screen of fog rests like a pall. A sudden rush through the underbrush tells of a poor mink or martin prowling close by, probably attracted by the fragments of last night's meal. From the dying camp-fires a thin column of smoke rises high above the trees or spreads lakewards to join the damp, misty veil which hides the waters from view. Around the fires are silent forms, stretched like shrouded corpses at full length on the bare earth, or on spruce branches neatly laid. These are Indians; they lie motionless on their backs completely enveloped in their blankets. Beneath upturned canoes, or lying like the Indians with their feet to the fire, the half-breeds, or the French Canadian voyageurs, lay in wild disarray. All is repose; the silence is almost oppressive, broken at intervals only by the dull noise of a waterfall borne on the gentle breath which springs up imperceptibly with the rising sun. As the morning advances an Indian awakes, uncovers his face, sits on his haunches, and looks around from beneath the folds of his blanket which he has drawn over his head. After a few minutes have thus passed, not observing his companions show any signs of waking or any disposition to rise, he utters a low "waugh;" slowly other forms unroll themselves, sit on their haunches and look around in silence. Soon the half-breeds or voyageurs are aroused, the dying embers of the fire blown into a flame, a few sticks of fresh wood added, pipes lit, and the day's work begins. The canoes are soon launched and the baggage stowed away; the party embark and plunge into the mist, while no sound but the measured stroke of the paddle meets the ear. The sun begins to glimmer above the horizon, the fog clears slowly away, a loon or a flock of ducks fly wildly across the bow of the canoe, the Indians shout at the frightened birds, or imitate their cry with wonderful accuracy, the guide calls a halt, pipes are replenished, and the cheerful sunlight gilding the top of distant trees brightens, warms, and enlivens all animate and inanimate things. The day wears on and the breakfast hour arrives, a short hunt in the woods for rabbits, or in a neighboring lake or marsh for ducks, rapidly passes the time. As soon as the meal is finished, all embark again. The voyageurs and half-breeds sing their merry French songs, or the Indians chant the war-songs of their forefathers, keeping time to the regular stroke of the paddles. The banks of the river are closely scanned in search of game, and the fresh track of a bear, a moose, a cariboo, or a deer a wakens all the hunter's sympathies, as with suppressed voices they discuss the number of hours which have elapsed since the track was made. Supper is the time for enjoyment, as lazily lolling round the camp-fires the men, pipe in mouth, listen to tales of forest life, incident of the chase, hair-breadth escapes, and distant Indian wars.


Dogs, carioles, sledges and snow-shoes, are required for a winter journey in the prairies as well as in the woods, but in consequence of the greater degree of cold in an open expanse of country, the difficulty of procuring fire-wood and the scarcity of game, winter traveling in the prairies is far from being so pleasant as in thick woods where a good track can be made. Each dog requires daily about two pounds of pemmican or three pounds of white-fish, so that the provisions for a train of carioles employing thirty dogs would involve the carriage of 600 pounds of pemmican or 900 pounds of white-fish for a ten days' journey. A train of three dogs will draw 300 pounds forty miles a day for ten or twelve days in succession, if well fed, and the road is tolerably good over a level country. A winter road, it may be here remarked, is nothing more than a cariole or sledge track caused by the passage of this primitive kind of vehicle over the snow, and is liable to be obliterated by every fresh fall. A cariole is constructed of a very thin board ten feet long and twelve or fourteen inches broad, turned up at one end in the form of half a circle, like the bow of an Ojibway canoe. To this board a high cradle, like the body of a small carriage, is attached, about eighteen inches from the end of the board or floor. The framework is covered with buffalo skin parchment, and painted or decorated according to taste. The inside is lined with a blanket or buffalo robe, and when the traveler is seated in his cariole, with outstretched legs, he is only separated from the snow by the thin plank which forms the floor. A sledge is nothing more than a thin board ten or twelve feet long, twelve inches broad, and turned up at one end. The baggage is attached to it by means of buffalo thongs, and two or three dogs are harnessed to this simple vehicle with the same materials. The dogs attached to a cariole are generally decorated with collars, from which beadwork and tassels are suspended together with a string of small bells. When a train is in motion the driver runs behind the cariole or sledge, guiding it by means of a loop fastened to each corner of the floor; when tired or anxious to ride he sits on the small box containing the traveler's baggage, which is fastened to the projecting board.

A camp is always made in "woods," if possible, for the sake of fuel and shelter. The first operation is to sweep the snow from the ground, and prepare a place for the fire and blankets. This is easily accomplished with snow-shoes, and as soon as an area proportioned to the size of the party is prepared, a fire is made sufficiently long to admit of each man lying for the night with his feet towards it. No tent or covering of any description beyond a blanket stretched on poles is admissible, as it would scarcely be possible to fold canvas in the morning, and time does not generally allow of the erection of a hut, nor are the materials always at hand. When pine or spruce is accessible, a very comfortable floor can be made from the boughs, but in the prairie country or on its borders these useful trees are rarely to be seen.

The appearance of the camp during the night, when all are buried in profound slumber, is very wild and savage. Throwing a few dry sticks into the fire to light up the scene, the silent, slumbering forms of the travelers are seen stretched in two parallel rows with their feet to the fire; between the men, one, two, and sometimes three huge dogs have crept; some are lying on the legs of the half-breeds for the sake of warmth, others have found a snug berth close to the fire but in imminent danger of burning their fur, a few lie coiled outside of the circle half-buried in the snow. The cold is so intense that their faces are white with frozen breath, and scarcely distinguishable. The fire, even when in full glow, has not power to melt the snow more than a few inches from it, without it is exposed to direct and prolonged radiation. Now and then a watchful dog raises his head, probably disturbed by some slight movement of the sleepers; he looks once round and buries his face again. Sometimes a dog will utter a low warning growl, when three or four other dogs, probably old stagers, will rouse themselves for an instant, listen and growl, generally all looking in one direction and snuffing the air. A half-breed sits up, looks at the dogs, observes their mien and actions, and after a moment's pause, uttering the word "wolves," he quickly coils himself under his blanket again.

The most disagreeable part of the daily routine of a long winter's journey is the catching and harnessing of the dogs. Some of these animals at the beginning of winter, when fresh at their work for the season, are exceedingly restive under coercion of any description, and not unfrequently snap at their masters, who invariably arm themselves with very strong mittens of buffalo or deer hide when harnessing a savage and powerful animal. They require long-continued and most severe punishment to make them obedient to the word of command. An Esquimaux whip is the instrument which every driver should be compelled to use, but the half-breeds trust to sticks and stones, or any object within reach on the road, which is picked up as they pass and thrown at the dogs. It is painful to witness the sudden start of terror with which each animal, looking over his shoulder as he trots along, watches the mien and motions of the driver as he poises the stick, which he knows how to throw with certain dexterity at the terrified animals. All the dogs give a simultaneous jump on one side as the missile flies past them, when directed to the leader of the train; and not unfrequently would the cariole be overturned if it were not for the strength and the skill of the driver in holding the loop with which he steers it. When this occurrence takes place and the dogs are at full speed, the only plan left for the helpless traveler is to draw his arms close to his sides, and wait until the cariole is righted by the driver; but any attempt to right the cariole by putting out an arm is a dangerous operation, which might occasion a broken limb. In descending steep hills, it is always advisable to walk or run, which all would prefer for the sake of exercise, except when the road is very good, and the trains can proceed for many miles at a gallop without fatigue.

A heavy snow-storm is a serious matter in the prairie. It is then absolutely necessary for all the trains to keep close together; the drifting snow soon obliterates the tracks; and, although the dogs with their exquisite noses will follow the tracks of the leading cariole even when completely hidden from view by a light fall, yet when drifts accumulate they are at fault.

Preparing to camp in a snow-storm is not an agreeable operation, or suggestive of that comfort and safety which a camp almost always presents. When the fire is well lighted, supper cooked and eaten, and the party "turned in," then it does not matter much how heavily it snows, the trouble being reserved for the following day. After a heavy fall during the night, men, dogs, carioles, and sledges are all covered with a thick mantle of pure white; a sudden shout from the guide enlivens many of the apparently lifeless forms, recognized only by their outline; but some of the sagacious dogs take advantage of the concealment afforded by the snow, and, quite neglectful of the whistles and shouts of their masters, "lie close."

See Dr. James Hector on the Physical Features of the central part of British North America.

See "Narrative of the Canadian Expeditions in Rupert's Land," by the author of this article.

See "Explorations in the Interior of the Labrador Peninsula" by the author of this article.



Canada has hitherto been signally unfortunate in her different seats of government, in the buildings appropriated to public departments, and in the residences of her governors. Quebec, Montreal, Kingston, and Toronto have each in turn been the capital of the province. Ottawa has not yet been tried; but there is good ground for the expectation and hope that the selection of Her Majesty the Queen will be found conducive to the best interests of the province, whatever may be the disappointment felt by cities which had a history before Ottawa was in existence or even the great river from which it derives its name thoroughly explored.


The Ottawa rises near the forty-ninth parallel of latitude in longitude 76° W. It is about 780 miles long, and 300 miles from its source it passes through Lake Temiscaming, 67 miles long. Above this lake the country drained by the Ottawa is little known; but below it, for a distance of 430 miles, the river has been surveyed. Montreal River, the canoe route to Hudson Bay, comes in from the north-west, 34 miles down Lake Temiscaming, and, six miles lower down, the great and almost unknown river Keepawa plunges into the lake in a magnificent cascade 120 feet in height. From the long sault at the foot of Lake Temiscaming, 233 miles above the city of Ottawa, the river is not navigable for a distance of 89 miles, except for canoes. Between the last-named point and Ottawa, a distance of 197 miles, numerous tributaries swell its waters, and one of these, the Matawan, coming from the west, is of especial interest at the present time, in consequence of its being on the line of the proposed ship-canal route between the Ottawa River and Lake Huron. Above the Upper Allumette Lake there is a navigable reach of water 43 miles in length. The mountains above Allumette Lake are upward of 1,000 feet in height, and the scenery is magnificent. The mountains on the north side of Colongue Lake are 1,500 feet high, and the scenery grand and beautiful. The Petewawa, one of the largest tributaries, 140 miles long, drains an area of 2,200 square miles; the Black River drains 1,120 square miles; and, 39 miles above Ottawa City, the Madawaska, one of its greatest feeders, and 210 miles long, drains 4,100 square miles. Six miles above Ottawa the rapids begin which terminate in the celebrated Chaudière Falls, whose tumultuous waters plunge 40 feet and partly disappear in the "Lost Chaudière" by an underground passage whose subsequent outlet is unknown. At Ottawa the great river receives the Rideau, distinguished on account of its canal which connects the city of Ottawa with Lake Ontario at Kingston. Its largest tributary, the Gatineau, with a coarse of 420 miles, comes in from the north, and drains 12,000 square miles of territory. Eighteen miles below Ottawa is the Rivière du Lièvre, draining an area of 4,100 square miles; below this river there are numerous tributaries varying from 90 to 160 miles in length. The rapids below Ottawa are avoided by a succession of canals. One hundred and thirty miles below the future capital of the province the Ottawa's waters mingle with those of the St. Lawrence, and for many miles their yellow, turbid stream can be seen quietly gliding by the side of the blue waters of the St. Lawrence, soon to become blended in their onward course to the sea.

The valley drained by the Ottawa is 80,000 square miles in area, for the most part covered with valuable woods, particularly red and white pine; it is abundantly intersected with large rivers, and contains a very considerable area of the best soil. The country is generally beautiful and undulating behind what has been called the red-pine region, and sustains a growth of maple, beech, birch, and elm. No region of equal extent enjoys so much excellent water-power with such ample supplies of timber and minerals to work up, or to apply to any kind of manufacture to which water-power is applicable. It is a region rich in iron, lead, plumbago, marbles, ochres, and copper. The valley of the beautiful and bountiful river is capable of maintaining without difficulty twice the entire present population of Canada, or more than 6,000,000 souls. Such is the region in which the future capital of this vast province is situated, and where its government will be established. The city of Ottawa was founded by Colonel By, in 1827, at the time of the construction of the Rideau Canal. It is situated a little below the beautiful and curious falls of the Chaudière, and stands upon a high and bold eminence surrounding a deep bay. Lord Sydenham recommended Bytown (now Ottawa) as a very favorable situation for the seat of Government of Canada. In 1850 the population was 6,016; but, in consequence of its being the seat of the lumber trade, its inhabitants have always been of a very transient description, spending the summer in the town and in fall hastening far away to the great lumber districts, north, west, and east, to spend the winter in the glorious forests which still cover the Upper Country. The present population of Ottawa is 15,000.


These are three in number,—the parliament-house and two departmental buildings. They occupy an elevated piece of ground, about 25 acres in extent and 150 feet above the river, known by the name of "Barrack Hill." The view from this natural terrace is superb. The great river, with its moving rafts, steamers, barges, and canoes rolls swiftly on through splendid hill ranges towards the south. In the distance the succession of bridges which span the majestic river just above the Chaudière Falls, attracts the eye, even though it be tempted to rest upon the wild beauty of the cascade sweeping by craggy rocks, between abrupt islands, and plunging into the basin below, where part of its waters disappear in the Lost Chaudière. Far beyond the beautiful cascade, glitters the broad river, swiftly rushing down the rapid Des Chenes; and in the remote background rise towering hills and mountains, often brilliant with purple and gold when the sun dips from view and gilds their lonely summits with his parting beams.

The buildings are constructed of a light-colored sandstone found in the township of Nepean in the valley of the Ottawa. This material is geologically interesting, as it comes from the most ancient fossiliferous unaltered rock in the world,—the Potsdam sandstone. At Lyn, where some of the stone is obtained, the massive sandstone beds are seen resting on Laurentian gneiss. The walls are relieved with cut-stone dressings of Devonian sandstone from Ohio, and by red sandstone relieving arches from Potsdam in the state of New York. The roofs are slated with purple and green, and the pinnacles ornamented with wrought-iron cresting. The style of architecture is the Italian-Gothic, and the south front of the quadrangle is formed by the parliament building, 500 feet in length. The two departmental structures are 375 feet long. The rear is open and will be railed off with a suitable ornamental screen. The committee rooms occupy the front of the building. The library, a beautiful detached circular building, with a dome 90 feet high, is in the rear of the central tower, 250 high. The two legislative halls are on each side of the library, but in the main building. The dimensions of these halls are the same of those of the House of Lords,—namely, 80 feet by 45; they are situated on the ground floor and lighted from above. The library is constructed after the plan of the new library of the British Museum, and will hold 300,000 volumes. The speaker's rooms, and all other offices and conveniences required, are judiciously arranged within easy reach of the legislative halls. The speaker's and librarian's residences are detached buildings and do not necessarily form part of the main structure.

The two departmental buildings contain in the aggregate 300 rooms, and are intended to accommodate all the departments of the government of the province; and are so constructed as to be capable of extension at any future time without injuring the general architectural effect. The buildings cover nearly four acres, and some idea of their magnitude may be inferred from the following brief statistics. The plastering when completed will exceed ten acres in extent. The number of windows and doors is about 1,200; the length of the cornices, 12 miles; the number of bricks used, 12,000,000; together with many thousand yards of masonry, cut-stone work, and much carving and decorations of a similar character.

The architects for the parliament buildings are Messrs. Fuller and Jones, of Toronto; Mr. Thomas McGreevy, of Quebec, is the contractor. The architects for the departmental buildings are Messrs. Stent and Laver; the contractors, Messrs. Haycock and Jones. It is quite impossible to state the cost of these buildings when finished: it is sufficient to say that up to the present moment, upward of a million dollars has been expended on them, and they are still far from being completed.

VIEW OF THE OTTAWA From the Shirreff House


The true appreciation of the progress of any country in any branch of its industry depends upon the conditions under which that progress has been made: a glance, therefore, at physical, social, and political elements becomes a necessary introduction even to the limited field of its Travel and Transportation. The progress of Canada during the century which has elapsed since it became a British colony practically commenced about eighty years ago, or after the close of the contest between Great Britain and her revolting North-American colonies. Out of these eighty years, fifty at least, embrace the history of two provinces of unequal age, and two races, under different laws, language, religion, and (to a great degree) climates. These provinces have been hampered by a vacillating Imperial policy, while struggling for a commercial independence involving competition along a thousand miles of frontier with one of the foremost nations of the earth;—with a people tenfold their superiors in numbers and wealth, in quantity and variety of productions, and in the possession of their "treaty-making power" on their own continent—whereby they have derived manifest advantages in the settlement of every boundary question.

The province of Canada, or of Quebec, by which names the whole of Canada was called after its seizure by the English, contained a French population between 60,000 and 70,000 in number, which, with two exceptions and the few settlements along the Detroit River, was confined within the bounds of Eastern or Lower Canada. At Frontenac (Kingston,) and at the outlet of Lake Erie, the old French forts were garrisoned within the boundaries of Upper Canada; but those which commanded the Niagara and Detroit Rivers were upon the southern shore. As a colony of France, Canada was a semi-military organization, without any other exports than peltries. By becoming English, a privileged market for lumber and breadstuffs was opened to her in the British West-India Islands,—particularly valuable during and after the war of the Revolution, when the Atlantic colonies were excluded. In 1777 a British officer wrote that "there are saw-mills and grist-mills all over the province, and the Canadians are enriching themselves by exporting lumber and grain to the West Indies."[6] This referred, of course, to Lower Canada; for, though Montreal fell, and a daring attempt was made at the outset of the Revolution to seize upon Quebec, the posts upon the lakes, although then one hundred years old, were surrounded by savages hostile to the cause of the insurgents. Upper Canada was at that period in the possession of the Northern Iroquois, a confederation of the most warlike of the native tribes; and there are those yet living who remember when,—save the few families around the precincts of the old French forts,—not a white man could be found over all the vast area of Canada West. Toronto was then an Indian village whose warriors speared the salt-water salmon in her harbor, or chased the deer through the county of York, and their squaws then paddled among the rice-beds of the smaller lakes, and threshed out the wild grain over the gunwales of their canoes.[7] In the Western Peninsula the noble elk herded upon the prairies of St. Clair, or roamed over the oak forests, untroubled by the sound of the settler's axe, and swam the waters where paddle and screw barque and brig now plow their busy way. Myriads of wild pigeons from the South annually invaded the beech woods and bore down the branches by their weight; thousands of black squirrels from the East swam the broad Niagara, and marched westward in extended line; while flocks of gorgeously clad turkeys and plump-breasted quails stalked solemnly along the wild pathways of the forest, undisturbed by the hoarse roar of the locomotive or the rush of the railway train. In every narrow valley and upon every living streamlet, the laborious beaver arrested the rich alluvion and prepared broad meadows for the flocks and herds of the red man's successors. The hunter and the hunted have exterminated each other.

The achievement of their independence by the revolted colonies expatriated all those whom loyalty to their king had placed upon the losing side; and fortunate it was for these vilified and plundered fugitives that there yet remained for them upon this continent an asylum to which they could retire from the fierce persecution of the successful democrats. The impregnable fortress of Quebec on the east maintained communication with the mother country, while the forts of Oswego and Niagara—separated from the Atlantic settlements by vast forests—were cities of refuge to which the adherents of the king might flee under the guidance and protection of the friendly Mohawk. This northward emigration penetrated Canada by Lake Champlain on the east, by Oswego and Frontenac (Kingston) in the center, and by Niagara on the west. They came from as far south as the Carolinas, and their wagon-boxes, made water-tight, floated the wheels across rivers where no ferries were yet established. Many of those who entered by the eastern route moved westward to a milder climate, and to join those of their own language, faith, and municipal customs. This sudden influx of a British population into the province of Quebec—French in all but its allegiance,—brought about the division into Upper and Lower Canada, in each of which the laws were to be made by the inhabitants thereof. The separation took place in 1791, at which time the population of Upper Canada was about 20,000 souls; that of Lower Canada a little over 100,000. The province of Quebec had been governed by the ordinances of a governor and council; but, from 1791, both provinces were equally endowed with a local legislature, although in both, the governors selected and maintained their councils without the acknowledgment that the confidence of the house of assembly was a constitutional necessity, until their reunion in 1841.


The development of the Transportation service in any new country is not more dependent upon the advance in civilization of its colonists than upon its physical geography and climate. The possession of capital and a knowledge of the arts, are, for a time at least, often valueless in the face of obstacles presented by rapid rivers, mountain ranges, trackless forests, or quantities of snow. Time is as necessary as money to prepare the way for the superior vessel or vehicle; and thus, to the European in America, the simple expedients of the savage indigène are as applicable as the camel to the desert, the dog-sledge for the Esquimaux, or the ironless carts of the "Bois Brulés" in Rupert's Land.

Although the existence of roads for the passage of wheeled vehicles dates from the most remote history, it would seem that their early construction was for warlike or for state rather than for commercial purposes—for chariots and trophies and engines of war; perhaps, also, for the transport of materials for monuments, temples, &c. The Assyrian sculptures show that wagons and carts, drawn by mules and oxen, were used; but their land trade, we know, was principally carried on by caravans of loaded camels, horses, mules, and asses. Wagons were used to bring down the aged patriarch, "the wives, and the little ones" into the land of Goshen, but their supplies were borne upon the backs of animals. Egypt and Assyria were rainless countries, traversed by great rivers, watered by irrigation, and supplied with numerous canals giving water transportation for internal traffic. Separated by the mountainous regions of the Holy Land, their interchange of commerce was best conducted by the "ships of the desert;" for movable sand has ever been one of the greatest impediments to road-making.

The wonderful roads of the Romans, carried straight over hill and dale in such a manner as to be of little service for wheels, were more military than commercial. Inasmuch as the Roman knowledge of road-making was derived from the Carthaginians, ancient colonists from Tyre, it is probable that, notwithstanding the obstacles which the rugged landscape of Canaan opposed to commercial highways, we may trace the origin of paved roads to the land where Pharaoh's wagons were sent when Israel went down into Egypt. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive how the cedars of Lebanon could be transported from Joppa to Jerusalem without a graded road. Two thousand years have not effaced those adamantine lines which the Romans engraved and inlaid upon the face of three continents, for some of them are in use to this day; and, until the discovery of America, it was supposed that as road-makers they had no superiors. A Roman road was often three feet thick, consisting of three courses, of about one foot in thickness each, of coarse concrete masonry, gravel, and cut-stone paving:—sometimes their roads were wholly formed by a species of "macadamizing" with the addition of a cement forming a very hard concrete. Of such roads there were about fifty distinct ones with an aggregate length of 14,000 miles in Italy alone, besides those in the provinces.

In point of magnificence, however, the Incas of Peru surpassed even the Emperors of Rome. That narrow fringe of sea-coast was traversed from north to south by two great roads,—one in the interior, the other along the Pacific sea-board. The first extended 1,500 to 2,000 miles, having stone pillars set up at intervals of little more than a league, and hostelries or caravansaries at suitable distances—in which respect it was similar to the Babylonian royal road from Sardis to Susa, as described by Herodotus, which it exceeded in length. This road, says Prescott, was carried over pathless sierras covered with snow; through galleries cut for leagues in the living rock; upon suspension bridges, swayed to and fro over raging torrents, by cables of native osier thick as the body of a man; and was conducted across ravines of hideous depth filled up with solid masonry. The coast road, about 300 leagues in length, was carried on an embankment twenty-five yards wide, with a parapet of clay. Trees and odoriferous shrubs were planted along the margin, and streams of water were conducted through aqueducts along its side, to slake the traveler's thirst. Both roads were paved with heavy flags of freestone, some ten feet square, and in some places with pebbles imbedded in a bituminous cement which made a road-bed hard and smooth. It was an evidence of their advanced civilization that persons were stationed at the Incas' "swing" bridges to collect toll from all passers-by, for the maintenance of these the only perishable portions of the work.


The roads of the province of Quebec and of Lower Canada, until 1832, were placed under an officer appointed by the crown called a grand voyer, a sort of surveyor-general, who had deputies (sousvoyers) and surveyors under him.[8] The roads were divided into three classes.

1. Chemins royaux—Post roads or "front" roads, the soil of which belonged to the crown; these generally traversed the "front" of the seigneuries.

2. Chemins de ceinture et de traverse—or back roads, the soil of which belonged to the seigneurs; these ran in the rear and parallel with the royal roads.

3. Chemins de sortie et de communications—called, also, "routes" and by-roads. These were cross-roads, connecting those in front and rear. Also, banal roads, which were those leading to the seigneury mill.

All proprietors and holders (seigneurs and censitaires) were obliged to open, make, maintain, and repair, as well in winter as in summer, their "front" roads, across the land held by them. All bridges under four (or six) feet span were to be made by the occupant; but larger ones by the joint labor of the parties interested,—the timber being demanded from the nearest property. By joint labor, also, the cross or by-roads and mill-roads were made. In the case of the front roads, ownership or occupancy was considered a sufficient reason for making the unlucky holder construct and maintain the road; but in the case of side roads and others made by joint labor, this proprietorship exempted him from all other contribution, because he furnished the right of way. The grand voyer made semi-annual inspections, and by procès verbal, if confirmed by the quarter sessions, determined the dimensions, ditches, &c., and the "repartition" or apportionment of labor on bridges and routes. He seems to have been a magnificent personage, with the powers almost of a provost-marshal, who literally drove the habitants to the improvement of their ways.

Winter roads in the climate of Lower Canada require special provisions, some of which are demanded by the absurd tenacity with which the habitant clings to a vicious system. Instead of profiting by the example of the township people beside him, he attaches the shafts of his cariole, berline, or traineau, the running gear of which is a low sledge, by a chain in such a manner that when the draught slackens the shafts fall on the snow. The runner likewise does not follow the horses' feet, so that the road is not beaten for two horses abreast,—and thus must forever remain an inferior or "one-horse" affair. The action of the loose shaft is similar to a horse-rake, and the snow is rolled into "winrows," giving the road a corrugated profile, forming what are called cahots by the French, and "cowholes" by the English; the crater between the opposite peaks being large enough to contain one of those animals. As a penance for thus destroying the road, the law required the habitant to carry shovel, pick, and hoe, and to level the track behind him. It is also obligatory to have the track over ice or open country marked out by evergreen bushes called balises, so that the traveler may not lose his way. Besides the ordinary provisions for "breaking" the winter roads, it is required that on the 1st of December all fences along and abutting the roadside within twenty-five feet, be taken down within two feet of the ground, and kept down until the 1st of April, the posts only left standing; and, when required, balises are to be planted every thirty-six feet.

The road question appears to have early engaged the attention of the Governor and Council of the province of Quebec, and an attempt was made to establish the statute labor system of the English colonies by Governor-General Murray in 1766. His ordinance authorized the surveyor of highways to summon the parishoners with their carts, horses, &c., to work collectively on the roads, which were then specified to be at least fourteen feet wide. In 1777 Guy Carleton passed an ordinance establishing the French system of individual responsibility on the part of each owner and occupier to keep in repair the king's road, then specified at thirty feet wide. By-roads twenty feet wide were to be made by joint labor, and banal or mill roads "according to ancient usage." In that early day, hogs, less favored than they since have been, were not allowed to run in any highway. In the ordinance of 1777 the value of our white cedar was recognized by enacting that all bridge sleepers should be made of it; and grand voyers and sousvoyers were appointed for each district, the latter to be the captains and senior officers of militia. In these particulars the old French system was followed. In 1788, Lord Dorchester made a bold attempt to abolish cahots by an ordinance "to alter the method of drawing sleighs," &c.; but this led to rioting, and the habitants, by stopping the supplies from country to town, forced the repeal of the obnoxious ordinance the following year. No further attempt was made to interfere with the cahots, and the habitants were left in undisturbed possession of an institution, guaranteed to them by the articles of capitulation, until 1840, when Lord Sydenham took advantage of the suspension of the constitution of Lower Canada, caused by the rebellion of 1837, to pass two sleigh ordinances; but immediately after the union, the right of self-government was asserted, and one was repealed; but the other was confined to the district of Montreal, where the turnpike trust commissioners have hitherto successfully resisted the traineau.

In 1832, the despotic powers of the grand voyer were transferred to road commissioners; and in 1841 the roads came under the control of the municipalities, by whom the labor has been more equalized, and who have the power of apportioning it upon all roads. In the absence of any by-law of the municipality or unrepealed procès verbal, "front" roads are still to be made and maintained by the occupant; but a special superintendent, appointed by the Council, may, by proper procès verbal, relieve any owner or occupant from any excessive portion of work required under that provision. All the main roads, made by the government and transferred to the municipalities, are to be maintained by the latter. Front roads must (since 1855) be at least thirty-six feet French (nearly thirty-eight and a half feet English), and routes twenty-six feet French (about twenty-seven feet nine inches English,) between the fences. This is an increase of fifty per cent. over the width established before the conquest.

The old French laws governing the roads were practicable in the level seigneuries, with their peculiar subdivisions caused by the laws of descent, as well as from their quondam semi-military organization. The holdings are narrow strips of one or two hundred yards, or less, fronting on the St. Lawrence, and extending back a mile or more. The front road is near the river, and on it are the houses, giving the river bank the appearance of a continuous street. These laws were, however, wholly inapplicable to the townships with their hills, and lakes, and heavy timber, where the "front" road would run a mile or more along one property, and where the cost of making the road would be far greater than the value of the land; where, also, there were crown reserves and long distances without an occupant. The seigneuries having their roads formed, for perhaps a century, and conducting their light traffic on the snow in winter and on the river in summer, were not urgent for road grants; and the townships thus had no opportunity for "log-rolling," and were too weak politically to extort relief. It was therefore not until 1815-17 that any effort was made to apply a portion of their abundant revenue to the roads and bridges of the lower province. The sum of £63,600 (or $254,400) was voted in these two years, which was expended chiefly in the seigneuries. In 1829, however, the legislature seems to have commenced in earnest, about £120,000 (or $480,000) having been voted in that and the two succeeding years; and then the townships, after forty years of suffering, obtained some assistance.


In the first parliament of Upper Canada, held at Newark in 1793, an act was passed by which the roads were placed under overseers to be appointed by the rate-paying inhabitant householders at their annual town meetings. Every person was required to bring tools and work three to twelve days; and owners of carts and teams at least six days. At first rich and poor were treated alike (for all were alike poor,) and the number of days' work exacted from each, which was in the discretion of the overseer and depended on his energy and the wants of the road, was fixed at ten; but when large blocks of land, granted to favorites or held by speculators, stood in the way of improvement, dissatisfaction was created at the unequal road law which exacted no more from the great land-owner than from the tenant or laborer, and it was altered; the number of days' labor being determined according to the assessment roll.

The power of altering or opening new roads was vested in the quarter sessions by whom a surveyor was appointed to report upon any application for such alteration or new road if signed by twelve freeholders.

In its infancy this province had neither revenue nor taxes, the civil list being at first wholly and afterwards partially sustained by the military chest of the Imperial government. In 1795, the revenue was £900 sterling, and the only tax 4d. per gallon on wine; and it was not till 1804 that there appeared any surplus for roads. In that year an appropriation of £1,000 (or $4,000) was made for this purpose, which proved premature and was repealed in 1806, when £1,600 (or $6,400) was granted; and this road grant, increased to £2,000 (or $8,000) and £3,000 (or $12,000,) was annually maintained till 1812, when it rose to £6,000 (or $24,000.) Interrupted two years by the war, it increased in 1815 to £20,000 (or $80,000,) and in 1816 to £21,000 (or $84,000,) after which little was done until 1830, when, between that date and 1833, £128,000 (or $512,000) were granted. Between 1836 and 1840 over £100,000 (or $400,000) more was granted, the whole of which was not expended until after the union.

The roads of Upper Canada, by the municipal act, are wholly under local control; and the assessment act provides that every male between sixteen and sixty years is liable to statute labor to the extent of two days as a minimum. If assessed at a total valuation of £50 (or $200,) two days are required, and more in proportion up to £1,000 (or $4,000,) which gives twelve days; and one day for every £200 (or $800) over that sum, subject to a pro ratâ reduction by the council. Where there is no by-law, 2s. 6d. (or 50 cents) per day is the rate of commutation. When there is no property delinquents may be imprisoned six days if they do not work their two days or pay their two dollars. The roads must not be less than thirty feet or more than ninety feet wide; and local rates may be levied for local roads, on a petition of two-thirds of the resident rate-payers representing one-half the assessed value. Councils can not close a road to the prejudice of any person, nor encroach on gardens, orchards, pleasure-grounds, or buildings; but they may order the removal of trees, not being ornamental or plantations, within twenty-five feet of the highway, and must compensate for all real damage.


In the province of Quebec, the European system of traveling by post was in force and regulated by law. The distance between Quebec and Montreal, commonly called sixty leagues was divided into twenty-four stages. The maitres de poste were obliged to keep four caleches and four carioles, and to be ready at a quarter of an hour's notice to forward the traveler, who was usually received with much ceremony, on alighting after each stage, by the lady of the house.[9] They had the exclusive right of passenger transport by land, the charge being fixed at twenty to twenty-five cents per league,—twelve to fifteen dollars for the journey between Quebec and Montreal, which occupied three days. The caleche is a gig upon grasshopper springs with a seat for two passengers; the driver occupies the site of the dashboard, with his feet on the shafts and in close proximity to the horse with which he maintains a confidential conversation throughout the journey, alternately complimenting and upbraiding him, and not failing to impress him with the many virtues of his master.

A public mail-stage was established between St. John's and Quebec before the expiration of the last century; but although facilities existed for land travel before the era of steamboats, the water route, where it was down stream or slack water, was generally preferred. Water carriage along the whole frontier from Quebec to Lake Huron, and abundance of snow (east of Kingston) while the navigation was closed, checked the early establishment of a good road throughout. Before the war of 1812, the land route from Montreal westward was broken, not only by the necessary ferries across the Ottawa at Isle Perrôt, but by the long ferry in Lake St. Francis, where a horse-boat traversed the slack water, because of the wet land route along the front of Glengary. In 1796, with the exception of about fifty miles, a road had been opened from Montreal to Kingston, and the journey could be made by land from Montreal to Lake St. Francis, and from Cornwall to Prescott, along which latter route the United Empire loyalists, who came in in 1784, had established themselves. The intermediate portions, having slack water or nearly so opposite them, were not completed until the necessity for them was demonstrated by the war of 1812-15.

During the infancy of Upper Canada the road extension from Prescott to Burlington,—with the exception of those portions where the loyalists were settled, which extended as high as the Bay of Quinte,—was retarded by the slack-water navigation between these points; but to avoid the detour by Queenston, Fort Erie, and Lake St. Clair, a road was opened as early as 1794 from Ancaster (the point to which the loyalists had extended their settlements from Niagara, and made their road by private subscription) to the Mohawk village on the Grand River, to which place Brant had removed his Six Nations. From Brantford it was carried through to a point (London) on the river La Trenche (now called the Thames,) from whence a boat navigation existed to Lake St. Clair. Thus, from the French seigneuries on her eastern boundary to the American border on the west, Upper Canada sought first to connect the natural navigation by what may be called portage roads of greater or less length; and so to diminish the time, cost, and fatigue of land transport.

Governor Simcoe, who seems to have been fully impressed with the importance of his mission as the founder of a nation, also opened out, in 1794, by the labor of the Queen's Rangers, the portage of thirty-three miles from Toronto to Lake Simcoe, called Yonge Street, which shortened and cheapened the route to Mackinaw, then the great dépôt of the fur-trade. On the opening of this route the North-West Fur Company, which was established by Frobisher and McTavish, of Montreal, in 1782, and which in 1796 employed 2,000 men, instead of sending their supplies up the Ottawa by canoes, sent batteaux up the St. Lawrence, which were carted across the portages at the Carrying Place and Yonge Street, and delivered their cargoes in Mackinaw at a saving of £10 (or $40) to £15 (or $60) per ton. Even the Spanish settlements down the Mississippi were supplied by British goods thus taken to the great peltry fair at Mackinaw. Dundas Street, as the main post-road traversing the province was called, was also established by Governor Simcoe, lots being granted along it on condition of building and improving in one year; and so provision was made for a continuous land communication throughout the province: but it was not until after the war of 1812 that any portion of it was so far improved and bridged as to become a stage route.

The first stage in Upper Canada was established by Mr. Macklem, of Chippewa, in 1798, between Queenstown and Fort Erie, running every other day at the moderate fare of one dollar; distance about twenty-five miles. On the 1st of January, 1816, the first stage between Montreal and Kingston was established by Barnabas Dickinson. Covered sleighs left Samuel Hedge's, in St. Paul Street, Montreal, and Robert Walker's Hotel, Kingston, every Monday and Thursday, and arrived every Wednesday and Saturday. In January, 1817, Samuel Purdy established the first stage between Kingston and York. It left Daniel Brown's inn, Kingston, every Monday morning, and York every Thursday morning, stopping at Spaulding's inn, Grafton, as a half-way house. The fare was eighteen dollars with twenty-eight pounds of baggage allowed. The next winter Purdy reduced the fare to ten dollars, three dollars to Belleville, and six dollars to Spaulding's inn. On the opening of navigation the stages between Prescott and York were discontinued, as a steamboat was then on this route. The mail, which as late as 1807 was so light as to be carried by pedestrian white men between Montreal and Toronto, and by an Indian between Toronto and Niagara, all of whom carried axes to aid them in crossing streams, went by the king's vessels in summer, and after 1817 by the steamers, which also took the local traffic between the frontier towns; so that there was no travel to maintain a summer stage except on the portages below Prescott. The first steamers were placed on Lake St. Francis and Lake St. Louis, in 1826, when four-horse covered coaches were put on the road between Montreal and Lachine, and stages were run from the Cascades to Coteau Landing, and from Cornwall to Prescott, no steamboat having yet ventured below the latter point. In 1832, a stern-wheel steamer, the Iroquois, was built to overcome the rapids between the Longue Sault and Prescott. At first she required the aid of horses and oxen at Rapide Plâtte; but further experience in pilots and an improvement in the boilers enabled her to ascend by steam power alone; and thereafter the stages retired to the twelve miles of portage passing the Longue Sault between Dickinson's Landing and Cornwall.

Between Kingston and Cobourg, and other points where the steamers did not call, at first a horse, and then the one-horse wagon delivered the local mail; and, as local travel increased, two and four horses were put on, the vehicles generally being open stage-wagons, the covered coaches being kept in the vicinity of the larger towns where the roads were better and where it was worth an effort to "take in" the unwary. As late as 1834, passengers in stages from the west could avoid "sea" sickness on Lake Ontario by connecting with steamers at the "Carrying Place," at the head of the Bay of Quinte, from whence there is river navigation to Montreal.



In 1826, the first stage was established between Niagara and York,—time, seventeen hours; fare, five dollars. In 1827, the exclusive right to run a stage for twenty-one years from Ancaster, through Brantford, Burford, "the Long Woods," and Delaware, to Detroit River, was obtained, after two years' effort, by a public-spirited physician of St. Catharines, for the purpose of inducing other parties to provide this much-needed accommodation. Under this stimulus, a line of four-horse coaches was started in 1828, which not paying it was reduced to an uncovered wagon, and after a time even that was abandoned. It was some years after this before a stage was established between Lake Ontario and the Detroit River, and not until 1842 that a daily line was established throughout the province, which was done in consequence of Deputy Postmaster-General Stayner's requirements with regard to the mails.

Benjamin Franklin, Deputy Postmaster-General of North America in 1766, stated before a committee of the House of Commons that the only post-road then in Canada was between Montreal and Quebec. In 1791 the post-road extended eastward to New Brunswick, and westward as far as Kingston. As late as 1807, the mail to Amherstburgh was only quarterly, a Canadian once in three months appearing with a mail-bag on his shoulder.

Our progress, as gathered from the number of miles of established post-roads, is as follows:—

Miles of
Miles of
Mail Travel.

In 1852, the number of letters per annum was 3,700,000; the revenue, $230,629; expenditure, $276,191. In 1860, the number of letters per annum was 9,000,000; the revenue, $658,451; expenditure, $534,681. This expenditure is exclusive of railway and steamship subsidies. The former costs $110,000 and the latter $416,000 per annum.


The land communications of the copper-colored nomads, eastward of the prairies, were natural routes subordinate to their water ones, being mere portages from one stream or lake to another; and in this respect they differed essentially from those of a fixed population. But, as with the savage, the track of the wild animals,—the deer, moose, elk, or cariboo,—indicated the hardest ground or lowest pass for the war-path, so with the colonist the same guides—or the instincts of domestic animals turned loose in the forest,—often marked out the "bridle-road," the pioneer route of land transport from point to point. In later times, since the surveyor has preceded the settler, the roads have been either arbitrarily determined for a country presenting no special obstacles, or carefully explored as a basis of settlement. But as, until a comparatively recent period, the squatter preceded the surveyor, the original roads have been established either by the accidental conditions noted above, or by the more extensive and careful explorations of the lumberman, who has been the pioneer of the agriculturist over the greater portion of cultivated America.

The progressive stages of improvement, from the track of the wild animal to the metalled road, are,—

1. The Bridle Road;

2. The Winter Road;

3. The Corduroy Road;

4. The Common or Graded Road;

5. The Turnpike; Macadam, Gravel, and Plank Roads.


Before the era of wheeled vehicles, communication between back settlements, save in winter, is restricted to "bridle roads," by which men and women on horseback may assemble for worship, visit their neighbors, and attend upon all those occasions of births, marriages, and deaths so much noticed in the forest and so little in town. On packhorses, also, grain is taken to and from the mill, and other movables transported. These roads are formed simply by clearing away the branches and logs, so that a man on horseback may ride, and are most frequently old lumbermen's roads, which have become impassable from fallen timber, and the growth of underbrush. In winter, however, the snow and ice, the great democratic elements in the physical constitution of Canada, make all roads alike, and the humblest settler in the most remote back-township has not only an excellent road, but can make himself a vehicle capable of transporting the largest loads; and, sheltered by the forest, the once broken track is protected from those drifts which are the only drawbacks to the snow-roads in the clearings.

It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of the frost and snow to the people of Canada, or to place any money value upon them. That which most Europeans have deplored as the only drawback to this country is in truth the source of its rapid prosperity. The operations of agriculture and commerce do not necessarily require perennial communication with a market. As there is but one crop of grain and lumber in the year, it is sufficient if once in the year an opportunity is afforded to transport it, and this Canada possesses in a higher degree than any other "more favored clime." In the dead of winter, when all agricultural out-door operations have ceased, the farmer, after having threshed his grain, can sally forth to any market he may select, even if distant one hundred miles or more, and combine other business or pleasure in the town with that of the sale of his products. He can go any where while the snow lasts, for all roads are alike; and he can take as large a load as can be transported by the same power on the best wheel roads in Europe. For domestic purposes the ice and snow are equally valuable to him; for, while unable to cultivate the fields, he can make the forest resound with his axe, and every swamp is accessible to his horses and his sledges; thus securing his annual supply of fuel without the necessity of money or barter. If he has a family of grown-up sons, he may cut the timber and fuel and transport it to the market, because there is not a week in the whole winter in which out-door work is unpleasant; and there is, therefore, less loss of time than in milder and more rainy climates. The presence of the ice and snow at the season when horses and cattle and their owners can not be employed in field operations, and its certain continuance over the greater part of the country for several months, define the mode of conducting the business without inconvenience and to the best advantage. Whatever is intended for export is, where good summer roads are wanting, hauled down to the shipping ports while the snow lasts; and if a house is to be built, the stone is quarried and hauled When little else can be done, and all preparations are made before the season for building commences. The statistics of shipments show that only about one-third of the crop is sent forward in the year in which it is grown; and although in many instances the produce can not be brought out until the snow falls, it is evident that from choice the greater part will be held back until that season. The autumnal plowing and sowing after harvest, ditching, fencing, and other duties, often make it inconvenient to commence threshing before the winter: moreover, there is also the hope that better prices, when western exports are suspended, and cheaper transportation on the snow, will more than compensate for any loss of interest.

The frost which bridges every river and makes a hard and level causeway of every swamp, with the snow, which fills every rut and cavity and buries boulders, logs, and stumps, enable the lumberman to send supplies for a whole year to his shanties; and, in like manner, the pioneer settler takes advantage of this season, to prepare for his summer's work of establishing a home in the heart of the forest. It is only by contrasting this state of things with India, the Turkish Empire, or other snowless and roadless countries of the world, that we can determine what it is worth to have, as Canada has for months in every year, the best possible road, not only on all main lines, but to every man's door and to every corner of his property.

The winter road is too narrow for wheeled vehicles; in summer it is but a bridle road on the hard ground, and impassable through the swamps.


In forming a road for wheeled vehicles or in converting a winter road into a summer one, there are necessarily as many degrees of excellence (or rather badness) as are afforded by the character of the route,—the number, wealth, and intelligence of the settlers. But, whatever the means at their disposal, there seems to be a universal resort to the axe and log-chain, where the pick and shovel should be used. This wide-spread error is the result of habit: axes are in the hands of all, and familiar to all; the pick and shovel are regarded as only fit for "canallers" and railway "navvies." Not only in the case of swamps (in many of which the corduroy system is indispensable), but wherever water at stated seasons collects on the surface, so as to soften the soil and cause the wheels to sink, whole hecatombs of trees are sacrificed to form a corrugated causeway of their round trunks, laid side by side, over which wagons can be slowly dragged or bumped, any attempt at speed being checked by immediate symptoms of approaching dissolution in the vehicle. When the country becomes cleared most of these vegetable causeways remain high and dry throughout the year, from the mere admission of sun and wind; but though no longer of any service, the logs are too often permitted to remain, because, half-buried as they are, the laborious and plebeian occupation of digging is required to extract them. It must, however, in justice, be admitted that in many cases where simple ditching would be better and cheaper than the corduroy, the latter can be done while the former can not, for want of tools or of time, at the proper season of the year. Where the foundation is a morass the corduroy is a ready and efficient mode of constructing a road; and, though most disagreeable to the traveler, and perhaps destructive to his vehicle, it is often impossible for the scattered settlers to do more. The captious visitor from older districts may grumble at the roads over which he is obliged to travel, but a liberal mind will acknowledge the formidable obstacles which the early settler must contend with, and not expect that, in addition to the war waged on the wilderness to obtain bread for his family, he can devote much of his labor to the common benefit. If, therefore, perhaps after years without any summer road at all, he can procure a passable one only, it is natural he should wait for assistance before attempting more. The great objection to the indiscriminate resort to corduroy is that many roads are kept in the worst state many years longer than they would be had they been left without this questionable improvement. As the settlement increases in numbers and wealth, and the evils of corduroy are appreciated, an attempt is made to cover the logs with earth, by ditching from the sides when practicable, or by the more expensive process of hauling the material from the extreme ends. But where there is not a morass beneath the logs, the frost penetrates and throws them up through their scanty covering, and there can be no rest for these ghosts of the murdered trees until they are wholly removed or buried the "full fathom" deep.


This is that stage which has emerged from the bridle, winter, or corduroy to the condition of a highway marked out by fences in the clearings or by wide openings through the woodland,—formed, drained, and bridged, with logs extracted or effectually buried, and hills graded down within reasonable limits; but without any other road-bed than that afforded by the underlying or adjacent soil. These roads are excellent in midsummer and midwinter, and (except when broken up by frost in spring and autumn) are seldom surpassed, even by the turnpike, except for the heaviest traffic. The common road as it becomes consolidated is better for the horse and more agreeable to the traveler than any other, and, except where in loose sand, affords facilities for travel and transport during the summer months only inferior to those of the winter ones. Their chief defect is in their Roman straightness, following the concessions or side-lines of the original survey arbitrarily, and encountering obstacles which might easily be avoided. Land-owners attach importance to straight and rectangular boundaries as more easily ascertained and maintained, and therefore oppose propositions to have their fields encroached upon to improve the road. Although the bail of the pot is no longer when on the fire than when off—when upright than when horizontal,—it does not seem to be conceded that it may often be as short to go around the hill, upon the level, as to climb over it. The value of level roads is demonstrated in the highest degree by the locomotive, which, upon an ascent of only one in one hundred, can not draw more than one fourth the load which can be taken on the level. The act of parliament only requires hills to be reduced to one in twenty on toll roads and railway crossings, and we often see them one in ten or less on other roads. If the principles of transportation were more thoroughly appreciated, all our main routes would be improved by abandoning locations which can never give a good road, and by avoiding, as far as possible, all hills, particularly those which are to be ascended in the direction of the heaviest traffic, thus making the road towards the market as far as possible, down hill. The reflection that millions in number and in value must, until the end of time, travel over the roads, perhaps as we lay them out, should secure the utmost carefulness and conscientiousness in the location of all our highways, railways included, so as to avoid the unnecessary loss of time and waste of horse-power and steam-power now going on daily over all this continent.


Gravel Roads.—The existence of large deposits of gravel at many points, and the fact that the natural roads upon a gravel formation were the best, led to its being used extensively for metalling graded roads. For light traffic it makes a smooth and hard road; but it is not, as usually applied, capable of resisting the heaviest traffic. If sufficiently clean, and laid on to a proper depth, it will form a road fit for any purpose; but so formed, it, in the majority of cases, will be more expensive than broken stone.

Plank Roads.—These were introduced after the union, and were extensively used at first; but as a class they may be said to have proved failures, except as a temporary expedient. In many districts where there is neither stone nor gravel, and where plank abounds, they have been the only means of accommodating a heavy traffic, and are particularly valuable where the natural road-bed is sand. Sand, except when frozen or covered with snow, is almost as great an obstacle to traffic as swamps; and plank, although a perishable, is an expeditious and generally economical mode of overcoming it. In many cases it will pay to lay down plank in order to cheapen the cost of putting metal on the same road; and, as the plank will last several years, the tolls collected in that time may reimburse the cost. Where lumber is cheap and where stone can not be obtained near the road, it will be policy to make the first covering of the graded turnpike with planks. Many plans have been devised for laying the planks, but it is unnecessary to notice these, as their duration does not depend on this. If there is little traffic they warp and rot without reference to their form; and if there is much traffic the horses' feet wear them down: and when thus weakened they are broken through and soon become a nuisance. When stone or gravel is within reach, plank should never be laid the second time, unless the tolls replace them as fast as worn out, and unless there be a lack of means to make the more durable road.

Macadam Roads.—This system, after about forty years' experience in Europe and America, has proved its superiority over any other; but its value in this country has been very much impaired by inattention to details in construction and repairs, and by the want of a sufficiently heavy traffic rapidly to consolidate the new road. The metal, often of improper size and inferior quality, unless "blinded" with sand (and thereby deteriorated) or covered with snow, is avoided except for a short time in spring and autumn; and thus two or more seasons are passed before it becomes "bound." The repairs are then postponed until the road is worn out, when it is again renewed en masse; and thus years are consumed in the infancy and old age of this system, with scarcely an intermediate period of efficiency. The only properly constructed and managed macadamized roads in the province, with perhaps one or two exceptions, are the turnpike trusts outside of Montreal and Quebec. These roads are in the hands of commissioners, and as the tolls are freely expended on them, they are never allowed to wear out, but by constant repairs with clean metal are kept in good order. In Upper Canada, on the other hand, the roads are generally in the hands of lessees or stock companies whose practice it is to lay out nothing upon them which can be avoided. There is no stronger instance of the patience and law-abiding disposition of the people than in their toleration of so great an imposition as most of the toll-roads of Upper Canada. It matters not whether a company has purchased the right of way, cleared the forest, fenced, "graveled," and bridged a road, or whether it has thrown down stones or plank upon an old highway made ready for them at the cost of the public,—the traveler (who has perhaps exerted all his skill in driving between the loose stones and broken planks and the ditches, or in "straddling" the ruts) is arrested every four or five miles by a toll-gate. In winter toll is exacted even if sleighs are used, which can only be defended on the ground that some revenue must be had; but in summer there is not this relief, although it would be safe to say that, for the greater part of that season at least, the roads would be much more efficient in their natural state than they are as "improved." Such roads have no resemblance to the turnpike trusts of Lower Canada, except at the toll-gates; and the continuance of so great a nuisance as barriers on even the best of roads must be regarded as evidences of a preference on the part of the most intelligent population of Upper Canada for direct taxation. It may be argued that those who wear out the road should pay for keeping it in order; but this might be met by an annual assessment on hoofs and wheels without the intervention of toll-gates. If the cities and market-towns assumed the tolled roads, they have it in their power, by fees, market-rates, &c., to levy the amount required; and there would thus be bodies interested by their mutual competition in keeping the roads permanently in good order. This, however, is one of those reforms which we can not hope to attain until we are far enough advanced to think of fencing our animals in instead of fencing them out.


The provision for roads in many of the townships of Upper Canada is excessive. The usual dimensions of the lots are a quarter of a mile in width and a mile and a quarter in length, containing two hundred acres; and in some townships, in order to give every lot frontage on a highway, road allowances sixty-six feet wide, running from front to rear, have been reserved every half-mile. The concessions (which are reserves of a similar width) divide each tier of lots so that they occur at intervals of every mile and a quarter; thus the lots may be halved, and each hundred acres, front and rear, will have a road allowance upon two sides of the property. In townships of unbroken, and dry land the roads become established upon those allowances; but in many cases, intervening obstacles force the road through private property, where it remains on sufferance until (from the permanent character of the obstacle) it is duly established by authority, when it is enlarged to the regulated width and the "statute labor" expended on it.

Before the union of the provinces, and the establishment of municipal institutions in 1841, considerable amounts were annually granted by the Legislature for roads and bridges. These were in fact almost the only public works prior to the era of canals and railways and public debt, and absorbed the greater part of the net revenues. This system still obtains in the lower colonies, and their main roads are unsurpassed, as a class, by those of any other government on this continent. Aid from the public chest was generally restricted to trunk lines and bridges beyond the means of local taxation or "statute labor;" but, by judicious "log-rolling," as the barter of vote for vote between members is called, this aid became so widely distributed and the number of claimants so increased as to force the leaving of road-making wholly in the hands of the localities, except in the case of new roads for settlement, or where large areas of public land remained unsold. The dissatisfaction created by the apportionment of the road moneys was one of the arguments in favor of municipal institutions which have since relieved parliament of applications on account of what may be called local roads. While there is little doubt that it was high time the old, rich, and populous districts should no longer abuse their greater political strength to secure for their own doors the lion's share of the road moneys, it is equally clear that, in being thrown upon their own resources, a load has been imposed upon many of the back counties which they are unable to bear. It may cost one county, by reason of numerous large rivers, deep ravines, swamps, &c., ten times as much to make its roads as it costs another more favorably situated; and the more broken the country the less good land and the fewer the inhabitants, so that the tenfold expenditure falls upon a population only one-tenth of that in the older front counties. Again, the back counties contribute so much to the wealth of the front ones, that the latter may with justice be asked to share a burden from which, by the natural formation of the district, the labors of their fathers, or from past government aid, they are comparatively exempt. Honestly administered, the system which prevails in the lower colonies, and which once existed here, is at least the most equitable; and it can only be decried by the confession that there is not public virtue enough to sustain it.

The proceeds from sales of the crown lands and the revenues derived from the valuable timber thereon, do not accrue to the municipalities in which these may be situated, and as there seems to be a natural claim upon this fund for roads in the same district, the provincial treasury which receives may with reasonableness be asked to give. This principle has been recognized by the government of the United States, which, in organizing new states, made provision for roads out of the proceeds of the public lands sold in each state; and is acknowledged by us as respects what are called Colonization Roads.


Showing the amount expended by the Legislature of Upper and Lower Canada, respectively, from 1791 to 1861, for Roads and Bridges; also, the amount expended since the Union by Municipalities and Road Companies, in the construction of Turnpike Roads:

Expended by Upper Canada:

Common Roads. Miles.Macadam Roads. Miles.Plank Roads. Miles.Cost Before Union.Cost Since Union.Total Cost.
General grants for roads and bridges,.........$762,200.00...$762,200.00
Special appropriations for roads,714137125753,466.65$1,392,707.002,146,173.65
Special appropriations for bridges, (50).........13,456.0091,537.75104,993.75
Grants for colonization roads,938.........528,739.21528,739.21
Roads built by municipalities and joint stock companies.[G]1,302283194...4,366,522.004,366,522.00
     Total, Upper Canada1,529,122.656,379,505.967,908,628.61
Expended by Lower Canada:
General grant for roads and bridges,.........782,240.00...782,240.00
Special appropriations for roads,8932237230,380.00780,711.191,011,091.19
Special appropriations for bridges, (32).........21,500.00218,909.00240,409.00
Grants for colonization roads,1,537.........446,786.32446,786.32
Turnpike trusts,...93¼19½...425,265.72425,265.72
Roads built by municipalities and joint stock companies, (no return)...8......20,000.0020,000.00
     Total, Lower Canada1,034,120.001,891,672.232,925,792.23
     Grand Total, Upper and Lower Canada,2,563,242.658,271,178.1910,834,420.84

Graveled roads only, on nearly all of which tolls are collected.

The Plank, Gravel, and Macadam roads of Lower Canada were nearly an constructed by Parliamentary grants.

This road expenditure of $10,834,420.84 excludes those made by statute labor or commutation money; and all municipal outlay on common roads.

The colonization road expenditure in Upper Canada includes that from the Improvement Fund,—applicable to new townships.


Of Plank, Gravel, and Macadam Roads constructed by municipalities and Joint Stock Companies in Upper Canada, since the Union.

Counties.Plank Road.
No. Miles.
Gravel Road.
No. Miles.
Macadam Road.
No. Miles.
No. Miles.
Total Cost.
Brant, (no return,)...37...37$37,000.00
Carleton, (no return,)......6612,000.00
Essex, (no return,)...............
Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington,......166166318,000.00
Hastings, (no return,)994...103191,300.00
Huron and Bruce,...177...177462,400.00
Lanark and Renfrew, (no return,)...............
Leeds and Grenville,.........148½227,848.00
Norfolk, (Plank and Gravel,).........88140,000.00
Northumberland and Durham,.........229492,000.00
Peterboro' and Victoria,...6...612,000.00
Prescott and Russell,.........none...
Prince Edward,...200...200Statute labor.
Simcoe, (no return,)65...1122,000.00
Stormont, Dundas, and Glengary,...2442860,000.00
York and Peel, (no return,)111......111222,000.00

Note.—Cost is estimated where not given, and known roads are inserted in cases where no return was made.


The physical geography of Canada, presents a marked contrast with respect to rivers and water communications, to that of the States of the Union. The Mississippi and its numerous tributaries are navigable, at some seasons of the year, from their mouths almost to their sources; but the St. Lawrence and its branches are beset, a little beyond tide-water, with rocky barriers to navigation which are repeated at varying distances—generally with lakes or long deep reaches intervening. The proportion of water navigable in both directions to that of rapids, chutes, and cataracts is, however, so great, that for purposes of transportation the St. Lawrence presented to the early explorer less obstacles than the Mississippi,—the upper waters of which were first reached through the great lakes, by Jolliette and Marquette in 1673, and by Hennepin in 1680. Between Quebec and Chicago—a fresh-water navigation of 1,450 miles,—the total length of canal is only sixty-eight and a half miles: and in the proposed improvement of the Ottawa navigation, out of a total of four hundred miles between Montreal and Lake Huron the length of canal is only thirty miles, about one-third of which is upon the Island of Montreal itself. On this latter route,—by which the Algonquins avoided the Iroquois, and which afterward became the highway of the voyageurs of the fur companies,—a few miles of portages constituted all the land carriage required between Montreal and the centre of the continent. In the later operations of the lumberman the long reaches of level road upon the ice of the Ottawa, and of its lakes and tributaries, have carried the supplies into the inmost recesses of the forest.

This terracelike profile of the northern rivers is not without its ameliorating influence upon the temperature during the two or three short periods of intense cold which occur in a Canadian winter. While a thick covering of snow retains heat in the earth for the protection of vegetation, and when the fish retire to the shelter of the deep water in the ice-covered lakes, the open area at the rapids affords the principal outlet for radiation,—which increases with the intensity of the frost—and at these points an almost constant congelation in the form of "anchor ice" upon the bed of the stream, sets free an additional supply of latent heat.

Another peculiarity of the Canadian navigation is its great directness. From the Straits of Belle Isle to the head of Lake Erie, the St. Lawrence affords a navigation almost upon an air-line; and from Montreal to the western extremity of Lake Superior, the Ottawa gives a route nearly direct. The Mississippi and many of its tributaries, on the other hand, double the air-line distance between their cities, and oppose an almost uniform current to ascending craft. While batteaux could be dragged up the rapids and sail up the St. Lawrence in ten or twelve days from Montreal to Lake Ontario, and there transfer their cargoes to schooners, it required four months to pole a keel-boat up the Mississippi from New Orleans to St. Louis; and it was not until the successful invention of the steamboat that the western rivers could be commercially navigated, and thus have their fertile valleys opened to the immigrant.

The river St. Lawrence—that great aorta of the province of Canada, which drains an area of half a million of square miles, and opens a highway for ocean borne vessels from the Atlantic fully two thousand miles into the interior, or more than half-way across the continent,—has ever been a base-line of operations in those struggles, both military and commercial, which have taken place between the rival races and rival offshoots from the same race in the New World. Its two most important branches, the Ottawa and the Richelieu, were, on account of their great directness towards the West and South, their slack-water, and the greater depression in their valleys, favorite thoroughfares of the Algonquin and the Iroquois, and these characteristics are none the less important to the commercial requirements of our own time. The Appalachian chain of mountains, sweeping the curve of a great circle of the earth from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Lawrence, is cleft to the ocean level at the Hudson River, and only there. Almost in a direct line north of this river, and apparently a continuation of the same fissure in the chain, Lake Champlain discharges in an opposite direction, into the St. Lawrence, by means of the river Richelieu. This lake is only eighty feet above tide water, and the summit level of the canal connecting it with the Hudson is only fifty-five feet higher. A subsidence, therefore, of only one hundred and fifty feet, along the line of this valley, would open salt-water navigation between Montreal and New York, and make an island of New England and the Lower Colonies.


The progressive stages in the navigation of the northern rivers are—

The Bark Canoe;

The Batteau;

The Barge or Durham Boat;

The Horse-boat;

The Steamboat;

To which—for the lakes—may be added every description sail-craft required in ocean navigation.

The Bark Canoe.—This primitive vessel of the northern aborigines is one of the most useful and economical vehicles for travel and light traffic upon a broken and sheltered navigation which can possibly be devised. Every attempt to improve upon it, by substitution of tin or otherwise, has failed, and it is to this day the favorite craft of the lumberman for ascending or descending the tributaries of the Ottawa, where no summer roads are found. In size they range between nine and thirty feet—one and a half to five fathoms, as the measurement is usually given. The smaller size will only carry one person, with a small stock of food or necessaries to trim the ship; and as one person can easily carry it, a considerable journey with numerous portages may be made solus wherever there is a foot of water in the stream. The larger canoes will carry twenty-five to thirty men, or a cargo of three tons, and when loaded draw two feet of water. The frame-work consists of numerous single ribs or laths, bent like an ox-bow, and terminating in the gunwales; all which, with the bow and stern-post; are made of white cedar (Thuya occidentalis,) the lightest and most durable wood our forest affords. The few bars which maintain the opposite gunwales in situ are of maple, elm, or ash—cedar not being strong enough—but they are attached, through holes bored in their ends, by a seizing of young roots, (instead of being framed in,) so that they can readily be replaced. The sheathing is the bark of the white birch (Betulu papyracea,) more durable than the cedar itself, (although that lasts as long as the owner,) sewed together and lashed to the gunwale with the fine, tough, and durable filaments which form the young roots of the spruce, and which are prepared by boiling. The seams are payed with a pitch composed of resin and tallow, which makes them water-tight; but often the raw gum of the forest tree is used. Thus it will be seen that with the exception of the cross-bars, so easily replaced, there is no perishable wood in the bark canoe; and they are lighter for their tonnage than any other craft of equal strength. Being very elastic they will stand a good deal of rubbing on boulders or water-worn rocks not sharp enough to cut them through; and if damaged the adjoining forest affords the means of repair. The largest canoe requires a crew of six to eight men, but can be carried by one-half this number; and it is only with the larger sizes that more than one of the crew is needed to carry the vessel over the portages. At night the canoe inverted affords shelter from rain and dew.

The bark of the birch-tree forms the covering for the wigwam or hunters' camp—gives utensils in which flour is kneaded and water boiled—is the papyrus on which the Indian pioneer sketches with native plumbago hieroglyphics (which are left in cleft sticks at the portage landing) for the guidance of his following tribe—and makes the resinous torch for lighting the portage, the camp, or the night-fisher's spear; while the green wood from which it is stripped burns as readily on the camp-fire as the dry of any other tree.

The Batteau.—When the extent and regularity of the traffic called for some more improved means of transport, the batteau—a large, flat-bottomed skiff, sharp at both ends, about forty feet long and six to eight feet wide in the middle, and capable of carrying about five tons—was substituted. Sometimes they were confined to a particular reach of water; in other places they were, with the aid of ropes and windlasses, men and oxen, dragged up the shallow rapids; or were unloaded and carted across the portages. They were provided with masts and lug-sails with about fifteen feet hoist, an anchor, four oars, and six setting-poles shod with iron, and a crew of four men and a pilot. With forty barrels of flour on board they drew only twenty inches of water. Their great merit was in their entire adaptation to the work and to all conditions of the route. They could not be capsized in the excitement of a rapid, while their light draft enabled them to creep up along shore; nor could the flat bottoms be easily damaged on the water-worn rocks. When coasting along the shore of the great lakes, if the sea became too rough they could be hauled up and inverted to afford shelter like a canoe. Though by no means models their light draft and displacement and their sharp bows made them tolerable sailers and not difficult to row.

In the last century the batteau was used, almost exclusively, on the inland waters. Although ships of four hundred tons then came up once a year to Montreal, and although there were, as early as 1795, three merchant vessels on Lake Ontario of from sixty to one hundred tons, which made eleven voyages in the year, (besides the six king's vessels which carried the mails, troops, and passengers,) the batteau was still used for purposes of travel and light transport from Quebec to York. Passengers from Montreal went down with the current to Quebec in a batteau having a section covered with cloth stretched over hoops, forming a sort of cabin; but came up by land to save time. From Montreal westward there was no choice; the passengers were obliged to camp on shore at night, and shot over the adjoining woods while the crew were toiling up the rapids. This state of things continued until the introduction of the steamboat and the completion of the land road.

The Durham Boat was introduced after the war of 1812 by the Americans, and adopted to a considerable extent by the Canadians, the object being to combine the light draft of the batteau with better sailing qualities and greater tonnage capacity. They were flat-bottomed barges with keel and center-board, and with rounded bows; eighty to ninety feet long and nine to ten feet beam, with a capacity about ten times that of a batteau, or about 350 barrels of flour, down; but, in consequence of the rapids and want of back freight, they brought only about eight tons up, on the average. The commencement of agricultural exports and consequent increase in the downward tonnage, after the war, called these boats into existence; for, though unable to carry a full load up the stream, they could bring up enough to meet the demands of the route,—the proportions between the down and up freights having materially changed from those in 1795-1800, when the batteaux bringing up provisions from below for the new settlers and taking down peltries as the only export, were equally loaded both ways.

Sail Vessels.—The French traversed Lake Ontario in sail vessels two hundred years ago, and in 1679 La Salle launched the Griffin, above Niagara Falls, in which he sailed to Lake Michigan; but nothing more pretentious than a batteau or open boat was constructed, for commercial purposes only, previous to 1790. It was not until 1796 that any vessel bearing the American flag was afloat above Niagara Falls. She was a British built, 75-ton sloop, purchased from the North-West Fur Company. The Simcoe was the first commercial schooner on Lake Ontario. She was built at Simcoe Island about 1793, by the North West Fur Company, and was commanded by Henry Murney, who built the second vessel, the Prince Edward, in 1798, at the Stone Mills on the Bay of Quinte. In 1795, three merchant vessels were engaged between Kingston and Queenston. Merchandise was taken up and furs and skins brought down, and this trade then employed as many as fifty to sixty wagons daily on the portage around Niagara Falls. Still, however, the batteau coasted along the north shore, and it was not till after the war of 1812 that the Carrying Place was abandoned—because communication was maintained by the Bay of Quinte while Lake Ontario was in possession of the enemy. Government schooners first commenced carrying passengers through Lake Ontario in 1791: the fare was only two guineas, wines included, which, as the voyage might last a week, was very moderate.

The Cherokee, a Canadian vessel, built and sailed by Captain Gaskin, was the first lake craft which crossed the Atlantic; and the Dean Richmond, from Chicago, in 1855, was the first American vessel which entered into the direct trade with Europe. A Lake Erie vessel, from Cleveland, in 1849, went out of the St. Lawrence and around Cape Horn, with passengers, &c., for California. The first English vessel which reached Chicago from Liverpool was the Madeira Pet, in 1856.

The following table shows the fluctuations in the Canadian lake marine in the last ten years. The decrease since 1857 is owing to the insane efforts of the Grand Trunk Railway to rival the water route, the only result of which has been to ruin the boat owners and exhaust the road. The vessels are, however, in existence, and their highway needs no repairs or renewals. They are, therefore, re-appearing on the scene, no longer in danger from their worn-out and exhausted antagonist.


Of the Number and Tonnage of Vessels built in Canada from 1850 to 1861; distinguishing those at Quebec and Gaspé, which are chiefly sea-going, from those at inland ports.

Sailing VesselsSteamers
Year.Quebec and Gaspe.Inland Ports.Quebec.Inland Ports.

The Horse-Boat.—This vessel, adapted only to short and sheltered ferries, may be considered the true forerunner of the steamboat—which latter is an extension of the system on a larger scale and with a vastly superior power, but involving a different mechanical arrangement between the engine and the paddle-wheels both of which were comparatively old—the engine having been in use efficiently for over thirty years on land, and the wheels on the horse-boat, before they were brought together in the steamboat.

Boats of this description, worked by four horses, were established on the Niagara River in 1793, at Fort Erie, Queenston, and Niagara; and, even as late as 1834, one was put on the ferry across Toronto Harbor. But now steam has almost every where relieved the noblest of animals from the worst of the many forms in which he has been doomed to suffer in the service of man.

The Steamboat.—It is generally conceded that the steam-engine was first invented by the Marquis of Worcester, in 1663; but it was an atmospheric engine, usually more costly than horse-power, until taken in hand by Watt in 1765. William Symington succeeded in applying an engine to a boat, so as to obtain a speed of five miles per hour, in 1788, and seven miles per hour, in 1789; but, neither of these proving serviceable, he built the first practicable steamer, the Charlotte Dundas, in 1801, and set her at work on the Forth and Clyde Canal; but the swell caused by her paddles proving injurious to the canal banks, she was laid up. Fulton visited Symington, who "fired up" the Charlotte Dundas and gave him a trip at the rate of six miles per hour. He requested and obtained permission to take notes—Symington, who was protected in Great Britain, appearing indifferent to any use which might be made in America of his labors. Fulton thereafter proceeded to the United States, and, securing a patent, launched the Clermont in 1807, having wisely taken the precaution to import the engine from Boulton and Watt in England. The Clermont commenced her trips regularly in 1808, and was the first steamer applied to any regular purposes of transport.

As soon as this demonstration was made on the Hudson, the first Hon. John Molson, of Montreal, determined to introduce steam upon the route between Quebec and that city. A small experimental boat was built at Montreal called the Accommodation, said to have been only about forty tons, with seventy-five feet keel and eighty-five feet length on deck, the engine of which was made at the ancient works at Three Rivers. After various alterations in the boilers, she set out, on Wednesday, the 1st day of November, 1809, at 2 P. M., for Quebec, which she reached on Saturday morning, the 4th, at 8 A. M.,—having been thirty hours at anchor. Her running time, with the current, therefore, was thirty-six hours, and her average speed under five miles per hour; but it is stated that her time to Three Rivers was twenty-four hours. She had berths for twenty passengers, at that time, but brought only ten to Quebec; the passage-money down was eight dollars, and up, nine dollars. She was propelled by "open double-spoked perpendicular wheels, without any circular band or rim." Her return to Montreal occupied a week or more; and, although she was kept on the route in 1810, the adventure was a serious loss to Mr. Molson, who determined nevertheless to persevere. In 1811, he proceeded to England and ordered an engine from Messrs. Boulton and Watt, and commenced the hull of the Swiftsure for its reception. This boat was completed, late in the season of 1812, in time to be of much service during the war which commenced in that year. The first passenger steamer in Britain was only established in that year, so that, in employing steam navigation, the colony was not behind the mother country.

Immediately after the peace of 1815, several gentlemen of Kingston determined to introduce steam navigation upon Lake Ontario; and on the 7th of September, 1816, the steamer Frontenac was launched at the village of Ernesttown. She was one hundred and fifty feet keel, one hundred and seventy feet over all, thirty feet beam, and twelve feet depth of hold; her wheels were thirteen feet in diameter, her draft of water when loaded eight feet, and she was rated at 742 tons. The machinery was imported from England, and the contract price for the hull was £7,000 (or $28,000.) The Frontenac was pronounced "the best specimen of naval architecture yet produced in America," and was owned by respectable merchants and other inhabitants of the County. She was commanded by Captain Mackenzie, and, after making her trial trip, on the 30th of May, 1817, went on her route in June from Prescott to Burlington, for which distance the fare was eighteen dollars; but from Kingston to York it was only twelve dollars. Her route was advertised from Prescott, touching at the river ports, to Kingston, Ernesttown, Newcastle, and York; thence, viâ Burlington Beach, to Niagara, returning over the same route,—the round trip requiring about nine days. Steerage passengers paid three dollars and "found" themselves. Cabin passengers paid extra baggage over sixty pounds. Having touched, it is said not unwillingly, a rock in the river on her first attempt to go to Prescott, her owners, who were interested in maintaining transhipment at Kingston, withdrew from the river navigation and kept her on the lake.

In August, 1816, a small steamer of two hundred tons, called the Ontario, owned by Mr. Charles Smith and associates, of Albany, was launched at Sackett's Harbor. Her trial trip is said to have been made in April, 1817; but whether she traversed the lake before the Frontenac or not has not been established. These were the first steamboats which were tried, out of river navigation, and the attempt to navigate the lakes by them was then looked upon as an interesting experiment.

The New York Legislature refused, in March, 1816, to incorporate a steamboat company for Lake Ontario, by a vote of 75 to 49, on the ground, as was stated at the time, that it would facilitate trade down the St. Lawrence; but, if Fulton's right extended to the lakes, that fact may have had something to do with the defeat of the measure.

The Bay and River Steamer "Charlotte," built at Ernesttown, U. C., 1818.

In 1818, the Charlotte, a river steamer, was launched from the same yard where the Frontenac was built, to ply between Prescott and Carrying Place. She was the first river boat in Upper Canada, and was built by Henry Gildersleeve (who was also the assistant builder of the Frontenac) for a committee consisting of Smith Bartlett, Solomon Johns, Daniel Washburn, and Peter Hetsel. Although these two boats held almost a monopoly of lake and river transportation, the future was so doubtful to the editor of the Kingston Gazette, that he consoled himself with the reflection that "whether they prove profitable or not, they are calculated to promote the public good." It was said that the proprietors not only sought government aid, but the exclusive right of steam navigation,—a right which the legislature of Lower Canada had more than once declined to grant to Mr. Molson. The fate of the Frontenac in a measure warranted these fears; for, although she cost about £17,000, she was sold in 1825, at auction, for £1,550, to the Hon. Jno. Hamilton, of Kingston, whose whole life has been spent in developing steamboat transportation on the lake and river.

The celebrated Swedish engineer, Ericsson, while in England in 1837, successfully applied the screw to the propulsion of vessels. In 1841, the Vandalia, the first of a class now numbering over one hundred and twenty on the lakes, was built at Oswego, and afterwards sold to Canadians.

The whole number of steamers, propellers, and tugs now upon the lakes is 363, with an aggregate tonnage of 132,327 tons, and a valuation of $5,576,000. Of these, 100 are Canadian, having a tonnage of 30,511 tons, and a valuation of $1,397,000.


The magnificent subsidy awarded by the British government to the Cunard line had the effect of diverting Canadian traffic with Europe from the St. Lawrence river through the ports of Boston and New York. The policy of the Imperial government, which tended to build up American seaports at the expense of Canadian, left the colony no other resource than competition. On the 13th of August, 1852, a contract was entered into between the commissioner of public works of Canada, and Messrs. McKean, McLarty & Co., a Liverpool firm, for the term of seven years, by which a line of screw steamers of not less than 1,200 tons carpenters' measurement, 300 horse-power, and capable of carrying 1,000 tons of cargo besides coal for twenty-four days, were to commence running between Liverpool, Quebec, and Montreal, in the spring of 1853, once every fortnight during the season of navigation, and to Portland once a month; the outward passage not to exceed fourteen days, and the homeward passage thirteen days. The maximum rate of freight to be charged was 60s. per ton. Fourteen trips were to be made from Liverpool to the St. Lawrence and back, for which at least five steamers were to be provided; and five trips to Portland and back, for which three steamers were required. The vessels were all to be ready and to commence their fortnightly service on or before the 1st of May, 1854; and a sufficient number to be ready and to commence the monthly trips in the spring of 1853. The price to be paid by the province was, for fourteen fortnightly trips to the St. Lawrence, £1,238 1s. 11d. sterling per trip. The Grand Trunk Railway was to pay £336 6s. 8d. sterling for each monthly trip to Portland.

In October, 1852, Messrs. McKean, McLarty & Co. formed a provisional company under the title of the "Liverpool and North American Screw Steam-Ship Company," and petitioned the board of trade for a royal charter, with limited liability. In this they were vigorously and successfully opposed by the Cunard company, and generally by British ship-owners not protected by limited liability, and were compelled to attempt the formation of their company under a Canadian charter.

Under this contract, the Genova, a small steamer of 700 tons and 160 horse-power, was sent out in 1853,—the first transatlantic screw steamer which entered the St. Lawrence. The Lady Eglinton, 600 tons and 160 horse-power, and the Sarah Sands, 1,200 tons and 150 horse-power, followed; these boats made five trips only in 1853. The average voyage out was fourteen to twenty-two days, and home twelve to eighteen days; and 80s. freight, instead of 60s., was charged. In consequence of this total failure on the part of the contractors, the government of Canada annulled the contract, and on the 28th of September, 1855, a new one was entered into with Hugh Allan, of Montreal, to commence in April, 1856, and give the same time and number of trips as before, but with vessels not less than 1,750 tons builders' measurement, and not less than 350 horse-power. The subsidy was £24,000 sterling per annum, and a penalty of £1,000 for every trip lost was provided for, besides the deduction of a pro-ratâ amount of the subsidy. The contract was terminable by the contractor, at the end of any year, by giving six months' previous notice. Although the line was not remunerative in its first season, 1856, the contract was fulfilled in the most satisfactory manner, the outward passage being under thirteen days, and the homeward a little over eleven days.

The inefficiency of a semi-monthly line, especially for postal purposes, in competition with the subsidized line to Boston and New York, led to a revision of the contract in 1857, by which a weekly service to the St. Lawrence commenced in May, 1859, at a subsidy of $220,000 per annum. In April, 1860, a new contract was entered into with Mr. Allan, to continue in force until the 1st of January, 1867, for a weekly line between Liverpool and the St. Lawrence, and in winter Portland. All the vessels, except the Anglo-Saxon, Canadian, and North American, to be not less than 2,300 tons builders' measurement, with not less than 500 horse-power. Under this arrangement the ships must call at any port in Ireland which may be selected. The average passages in 1860 were twelve and eleven days, instead of fourteen and thirteen, the contract time. The subsidy is $416,000 per annum; the penalty for every trip not performed is $5,000, besides the contract value thereof; and the contract is terminable by the contractor on giving six months' notice, but by the government only in case of default. The doubling of the subsidy was in consequence of the losses of the company in the first year of the weekly line, in which two of their steamers, the Indian and the Hungarian, were lost in the Atlantic, en route for Portland, while off the coast of Nova Scotia.

In the winter of 1859, the Canadian steamships for Portland commenced to call at Cork, receiving supplementary mails, with letters written in London after the steamer had left Liverpool; but as Cork was not suited to the St. Lawrence route, Londonderry was selected for the Irish port of call, and the first voyage, stopping there, was made from Liverpool on the 30th of May, 1860. The day of departure from Liverpool was also changed, in July, 1860, from Wednesday to Thursday, taking an extra day from the Cunard line, which leaves on Saturday.

The Canadian line, in 1860, carried 620,000 letters between the United States and Europe, and received $104,641.68, from the United States' post-office, for this service. Previous to the arrangement of 1859 and 1860 the claims of the British and American post-offices, for packet and transit charges on Canadian correspondence with Europe, averaged $165,000 per annum; but, after 1860, they were reduced to $50,000—the difference of $115,000 per annum being the amount accruing to Canada from the transport of her own European correspondence.

This line has been unfortunate, in the loss of not less than five of its steamers in four years,—the Canadian in 1857, Indian in 1859, Hungarian in 1860, and Canadian and North Briton in 1861. Of these losses, two were in the St. Lawrence and three in the Atlantic, and of the former only one can be laid to the dangers of the navigation, as the first steamer lost was run ashore almost under the lamps of a lighthouse in full view, and on a bright, calm evening, by an incompetent pilot, who had assumed the control on her arrival.

The following table shows the principal dimensions, capacity, &c., of the Canadian ocean steamers:—


key = A Length of Keel; B Breadth of Beam; C Draft of Water; D Light; E Loaded; F Tonnage Measure't.; G Gross; H Net; I Freight Capacity, Tons.; J Nominal Horse-power.; K Consumption of Coal, per diam. Tons.; L Speed per hour—geographical miles.; M Number of Officers and Crew.; N Carries Cabin passengers.; O Carries Steerage passengers.

North American,276351119½1,7841,1371,000250451175100250
Anglo Saxon,276351119½1,7841,1651,000250451175100250
Nova Scotian,29238¾1321½2,2501,4871,250300501090120350
New ship, building,3003813222,350...1,2505005015110120350

The nominal horse-power, speed and ship's company are approximate; the actual horse-power exerted is nearly four times the nominal. The Hibernian and Norwegian show a marked advantage in the net tonnage as compared with the gross.

There are two regular Lines of Screw Steamers sailing to Glasgow, and the pioneer vessel of one to London has visited Montreal.

The St. Lawrence route to Liverpool as a steam one has the very great advantage of sheltered and therefore comparatively smooth water from Cape Race to Quebec. The Canadian steamers have 1,000 miles less of open ocean to contend with than those plying to New York. Our mail steamers should therefore regularly make shorter time than the Cunard line, but for want of sufficient power they do not do so: and from over loading since the grain trade at Montreal has increased, their average voyages are longer now than they were before 1860. The contract for fixing a maximum for the outward and homeward passage necessarily allows a margin for bad weather, and thus this provision fails to secure that speed which alone can establish the route. The subsidy should not be renewed unless the utmost efficiency of which a screw line is capable of, is secured; for this is precisely one of those things which should be thoroughly done or not attempted at all. It is the height of folly to continue to pay a large subsidy to a line just fast enough to be beaten. The fastest line will take the mails,—the most profitable traffic; and a larger subsidy even than that now paid might prove remunerative if these can be secured. A subsidy is no longer needed to open the route,—it should now only be employed to demonstrate its superiority to all others.



During the first quarter of the present century,—before the state of New York had availed herself of that remarkable pass through the Alleghany range, which is afforded by the Hudson River, and had tapped Lakes Champlain, Ontario, and Erie by means of her grand canals,—exports from Northern Vermont and New York, viâ Lake Champlain (or Corlaer's Lake, as the Dutch had named it,) as well as from those tributaries of the St. Lawrence which take their rise in the "Empire State," sought an outlet at Quebec and Montreal. Previous to the year 1822, American lumber, grain, &c., were admitted into Canada, duty free, and exported, with all the privileges afforded to Canadian products, to the British West-Indian colonies. While New York was pressing forward her canals (commenced in 1817 and completed in 1824,) the Imperial authorities, in 1822, prepared the way for the complete diversion of American exports from the St. Lawrence to those canals, by imposing a duty upon such exports to Canada. Sir J. B. Robinson, in 1822, as the agent of Upper Canada in London, very properly suggested that the propriety, or otherwise, of such a duty might safely be left to the Canadians; but the defense to the measure was that, as Canadian products were admitted into the British West-India colonies free of duty, while American were taxed, the free admission of the latter into Canada would be a discrimination in favor of British bottoms, viâ the St. Lawrence, against American bottoms, viâ the Mississippi, of which the Americans would complain as an evasion "of the relaxation professed to be made in the navigation laws for the benefit of a reciprocal commerce." This blunder was, however, acknowledged, in 1831, by the re-admission of American exports, as before, free of duty.

Long before the commencement of any regular system of improvement, by means of continuous canals overcoming the whole of any rapid, small locks for batteaux had been constructed by the French at the Cascades, the Coteau, and the Longue Sault rapids. In 1804, these were reconstructed of larger size and in improved positions, by the royal engineers, as military works. While furs were the only exports the batteau was suited to the trade in both directions; but when agricultural export commenced, grain was first sent down (before 1800) on the rafts, and in scows or "arks" which were broken up and sold as lumber in Montreal. Some slight improvements were made by Lower Canada in 1805 and 1806 in the boat channel of the rapids. Merchandise was at that time carted to Lachine, from whence the batteaux and Durham boats took their departure (in "brigades" of five or more boats, that their united crews might aid each other at the rapids,) and sailed through Lake St. Louis. At the Cascades, three-fourths of the cargo was discharged and carted to the head of the Cedars—the boat, with the remaining fourth, being locked past the Cascades, dragged up the "Split Rock" and Cedars, and re-loaded—passing the Coteau by a lock into Lake St. Francis. Above Cornwall, there were two locks in Longue Sault, one of which was a private speculation; and between Mille Roches and the head of the Longue Sault, as between the Cascades and the Cedars, lighterage was necessary, three-fourths of the cargo being discharged and hauled over land. From Prescott the boats sailed up to Kingston, or (after 1818) were towed by steamer. The average time required for the voyage was twelve days, and the actual expenses of a Durham boat with an average cargo of eight tons, from Lachine to Kingston, were as follows:—

Tolls at the Cascades and Coteau,£210...
Towing at different Rapids,510...
Land carriage of 6 tons from Cascades to the Cedars,3......
Land carriage of 6 tons from Mille Roches,3......
Towing by steamboat from Prescott to Kingston,315...
Wages, &c., 6 men, 12 days, at 3s. 6d. per day,1212...
$121 40 cents.

Salt, which was taken at the lowest rates, was charged 3s. 9d. per cwt., in 1825, from Lachine to Kingston; the average rate on merchandise being 4s. 6d. per cwt., or eighteen dollars per ton. The number of boats which paid toll at the Coteau locks were—

Year.Durham boats.Batteaux.

An addition of about twelve per cent. should be made, to the above because one boat out of eight or nine sailed up the rapids, and did not pay toll. Of the Durham boats about one-half were American.

For downward cargo a Durham boat had a capacity of three hundred and fifty barrels of flour, and a batteau thirty to forty; but in their latter days these were made nearly as large as the former. Upward, the former averaged eight tons, and the latter four to five. The transportation of 1824 was diminished by a failure of the harvest in 1823, as well as by the operations of the Imperial trade act of 1822.

The average passage of a boat from Kingston to Lachine was four days, and the expense as follows:—

Six men, four days, at 3s. 6d.,£44...
Pilotage at the rapids,1176
$24 30

The downward trade in 1818 to 1825 averaged about 150,000 to 175,000 barrels per annum, say 15,000 tons; and the upward trade about 5,000 tons, or about one to three. In 1832, the trade had increased so as to give six to eight hundred Durham boats and twelve to fifteen hundred batteaux, passing the locks, the down trade being 66,000 tons and the up trade 21,000 tons—the proportions of about three to one still holding good.

As the trade increased, passenger steamboats were placed on Lakes St. Francis and St. Louis, and four-horse coaches upon the portage roads. Improvements in the steamboats, in 1833, enabled them to overcome the smaller rapids between the Longue Sault and Prescott; and from that date they descended as far as Dickinson's Landing.

The agitation of the Erie and Champlain canals early drew the attention of the Canadians to the competition with which they were threatened. It was a renewal of that strife, for the commerce of civilization, which had existed for the fur-trade, between the English colonies on the Atlantic and the French at Montreal and Quebec, before the conquest. A short portage divided Fort Stanwix, on the Mohawk (a principal branch of the Hudson,) from Wood Creek, which flowed into Oneida Lake, and thence, by the Onondaga River, into Lake Ontario, at Oswego, which latter place was the scene of more than one conflict between French and English and their savage allies, over one hundred years ago.

In 1817, the same year in which the canal bill passed at Albany, and a month earlier, the government of Upper Canada advertised for tenders for the improvement of the navigation between Lachine and Kingston, by the course of the river Rideau. The project of connecting Lakes Erie and Ontario, by the Welland Canal, first appears in print, November 29th, 1817, in a paper prepared by William Hamilton Merritt for Robert Gourlay. In 1818, a company was incorporated to construct the Lachine Canal, a project which had been mooted as early as 1795; and another, in 1819, for the construction of the canal at Chambly.

Thus, movements were on foot, in the center and at the two extremes,—to compass the objects aimed at by the state of New York,—before the completion of her canals had demonstrated their success; but, from various causes, at the head of which, no doubt, the separation of the provinces stood first, no actual commencement was made except with the Lachine Canal upon the Island of Montreal, and the Grenville Canal (by the Imperial government) on the Ottawa, until long after the completion of the Erie and Champlain canals.

The military canals, having been conceded to the province in 1853, and happily never having been required for other than commercial purposes, will be noticed under the head of the Ottawa River improvements.

Taking the three great routes of Canadian navigation in the order of their extent, we begin with the shortest.


The Richelieu or Iroquois River has a length of eighty miles between Sorel, on the St. Lawrence, and Rouse's Point, on Lake Champlain, with two obstructions to navigation in this distance. The first is overcome at St. Ours, about fourteen miles from Sorel, by a dam which deepens the water between this point and Chambly, and a lock—two hundred feet in length between the gates, and forty-five feet wide between the walls, with six feet depth of water—begun in 1844, and completed in 1849, at an outlay of $153,117.65. The second is the rapids above Chambly, which are passed by a canal eleven and a half miles in length, with nine stone locks, each one hundred and twenty-four by twenty-four feet, and six feet of water; commenced in 1831, suspended in 1835, resumed in 1840, and completed in 1843, at a cost of $480,000. By means of these improvements, boats can pass from any part of the St. Lawrence into Lake Champlain, and thence, by the Northern Canal and the Hudson River, to the city of New York. Large quantities of lumber are transported by this route from the city of Ottawa to the Hudson River without transhipment.

Lake Champlain navigation extends into Canada as far as St. John's, at which point the river Richelieu is 29 feet higher than the St. Lawrence at Lachine, or 74 feet higher than the river at Montreal. The distance between Caughnawaga (opposite Lachine) and St. John's is about 25 miles in a direct line; but if Lake Champlain be made the feeder, a canal must make a detour to avoid high ground, which will give a length of 32½ miles, and a cost of about two millions of dollars. Another plan is, to carry a feeder, 16 miles in length, from the Beauharnois Canal, on a level 37½ feet higher than Lake Champlain, down to a point opposite Caughnawaga, and feed a direct line of canal between this point and St. John's, which would be about eight miles shorter than the canal fed from the Champlain level; but as it would have 87 feet more lockage, this would nearly equalize the two routes, in point of time. This scheme, with the feeder made navigable, would cost about double the other, say four millions of dollars; and, with a feeder only, about three millions of dollars. The first scheme gives the minimum amount of lockage to the Ottawa lumber trade; the second, to the through trade from the West, unless the rapids are navigated by the freight boats, in which case these will not leave the St. Lawrence until they reach Caughnawaga; but the question of cost is conclusive between these two plans. Montreal claims that the terminus of the canal should be opposite that city: this has been objected to as causing the Ottawa and western trade to descend 45 feet, only to ascend the same again—besides adding to the length of the route.


The Ottawa River, where it joins the St. Lawrence, divides so as to form the Island of Montreal, and about one-third of its volume, flowing by St. Anne's and Vaudreuil, (where it forms a large island called Isle Perrôt;) enters Lake St. Louis, and passes over the Lachine Rapids—its dark waters taking the Montreal side and forcing the blue St. Lawrence into mid-channel. The other two-thirds flows to the rear of Montreal Island, forming Little River, in which is another large island, Isle Jesus, and discharges into the St. Lawrence about fifteen miles below Montreal.

In connecting tide-water with the interior, the Lachine Canal is common to both the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa routes. Lachine, at the head of the first rapids on the St. Lawrence, may, therefore, be considered the starting point of this route; and the first place where the navigation has been improved, is at St. Anne's, near the entrance to the Lake of Two Mountains. The rapid here is navigable at high water only; the opposite one of Vaudreuil, though affording a more circuitous route, was passable at all stages, and was, moreover, after 1832, aided by a lock for batteaux, built by a private company. In this way navigation was maintained until 1843, when the provincial government completed the lock at St. Anne's, which was commenced in 1839,—is two hundred feet long by forty-five feet wide, and, with the wing dam, cost $111,796. By means of this lock, a large passenger steamer is enabled to run from Lachine to Carillon at the foot of the Longue Sault of the Ottawa, a distance of forty-five miles. The Longue Sault and other rapids between Grenville and Carillon, a distance of twelve miles, are passed by three detached canals with locks, the upper and older of which was commenced, in 1819, by the Imperial government upon the same dimensions as the old Lachine Canal, and remains unaltered to this day. The others were not so far advanced in 1828, when the enlargement of the Rideau Canal was decided on, and therefore have locks one hundred and twenty-eight to one hundred and thirty-four feet long, and thirty-three feet wide; and also extra lockage, because the lowest one is fed from the North River, a branch of the Ottawa. From Grenville to Ottawa the river is navigable, and a passenger steamer, (confined to the reach by being too large for the locks of the Grenville or Rideau canals,) runs in connection with portage railway between Grenville and Carillon, the steamer between Carillon and Lachine, and the railway thence to Montreal; thus making two railways and two steamers necessary to convey a passenger from Montreal to the city of Ottawa.

Above this city, the Chaudière Falls and the rapids near them obstruct the navigation for several miles; but a Macadam road connects with an iron steamer on the Chaudière Lake. No attempt, beyond surveys, has been made to overcome the obstructions to ascending navigation immediately above Ottawa; but at the next point higher up (the Chats,) an abortive attempt to connect the Chaudière and Chats Lakes, which are three miles apart and have fifty feet difference of level, has been made. The obstructions at the Chats are at present surmounted by a horse railway, three miles in length, which conveys passengers and freight between the iron steamers which are running upon the two lakes. Two other steamers are plying still higher up, on reaches divided by rapids but connected by good portage roads; and by this means transportation is effected as far as the head of the Deep River, or to the foot of the rapids of the Deux Joachims, a point nearly three hundred miles from the mouth of the Ottawa. From this point upward the swift current and numerous rapids force a transfer from the steamboat to the bark canoe—from the highest to the lowest order of vessels for water transport.


The agitation of the canal question so soon after the peace of 1815, naturally gave military considerations a prominence in the discussion of the route; and thus we have seen that, in 1817, the first action taken by Upper Canada was with reference to this route. In 1824, the Imperial government offered to aid the upper province by a grant of £70,000 sterling, towards the construction of this canal; but the joint committee on internal navigation, in 1825, while admitting that this offer "ought to determine us to apply our first exertions to the communication between Kingston and Ottawa," was of opinion that, "regarding only the commercial interests of the province, in time of peace with the United States, the improvement of the river St. Lawrence would naturally first engage attention, because a much less expenditure would render this direct and natural channel more convenient for all purposes of trade." The estimate by the St. Lawrence route, for locks one hundred and thirty-two feet by forty feet, with eight feet of water, was only £176,378 (or $705,512;) while that for the Rideau, with locks only one hundred by twenty-two feet, and seven feet of water, was £230,785 (or $923,140.)

The Imperial government had turned their attention to this route immediately after the war; and, early in 1815, Colonel Nicolls, commanding royal engineer, sent Lieutenant Jebb to explore the direct route by Irish Creek. In 1825, a committee of royal engineers, sent out to Canada, were instructed to bring home an estimate for the cost of a canal by this route, based upon the dimensions of the Lachine Canal, then completed. This was found to be £169,000 (or $676,000)—whereupon the Imperial government, desirous of retaining the complete control of the canal in case of another war, determined on its construction; and, in May, 1826, sent out Lieutenant-Colonel John By, R. E., who commenced it on the 21st of September, 1826, and passed the first steamer through on the 29th of May, 1832; but the works were not completed until 1834. This route is one hundred and twenty-six and one-quarter miles long, of which only sixteen and a half are canal. From Ottawa, it ascends two hundred and ninety-two feet by thirty-four locks, in a distance of eighty-seven and a half miles, to the summit level of the Rideau Lakes; and then descends one hundred and sixty-five feet by thirteen locks, in a distance of thirty-eight and three-quarters miles; giving a total of forty-seven locks with four hundred and fifty-seven feet lockage. The navigation is formed by twenty-four dams, six of which range from twenty-five to sixty feet in height. Most of these dams are of stone,—a questionable policy, as timber ones are as reliable and very much cheaper. The original canal was intended to have a towing path; but, in 1828, another committee of royal engineers, with Sir James Kempt at their head, authorized its enlargement for steam navigation, the locks to be one hundred and thirty-four by thirty-three feet; the towing-path was, therefore, unfortunately omitted.

The canal drops into the Ottawa by a flight of eight combined locks, having a lift of eighty-two feet; and as it was necessary, on leaving the Ottawa, at once to rise above the level of the Chaudière Lake, the navigation would have been extended without additional lockage, nearly forty miles higher up the river, had the canal been kept in it until that lake was reached.


The Ottawa, above the point where the Imperial canal joined it, has been, with several of its large tributaries, the subject of improvement, for downward transportation only—for the purpose of bringing out timber and lumber with greater expedition, greater safety, and greater economy. These works are peculiar to Canada and deserve more than a passing notice.

The heavy timber, hauled out by the aid of the snow which gives access to every tree, is deposited on the ice in the several streams and lakes, and is there left to be borne down by the spring freshets, either in single sticks or in rafts manned by men, according to the size of the stream. If not rafted, it goes off with the water, followed by the men in canoes, whose duty it is to look after the stragglers grounded on a shoal or detained in an eddy, and shove them out into the main stream. This mode of bringing out the timber, which is called "driving," is practicable upon almost all streams when in freshet; but, on many, there are a few places where the obstructions are so great as to call for artificial aid, to prevent detention of the timber until too late for that tide which, if not taken at the flood, too often leads to misfortune. In some rivers, precipitous cataracts and jagged rocks are so destructive to timber that the virgin groves have remained almost untouched, until, by means of slides and dams, it could be profitably brought down. In others, the delays in passing certain points were so great that the freshet passed off before the timber could be got into the main river, and it was left behind for the next year.

The slides are artificial "chutes" formed by inclined troughs of timber and plank, open at both ends, through which a portion of the stream is diverted, and the timber thereby carried past chutes and places where it would either stick fast or be torn to splinters. For "driving," the slides are narrow, and similar to the flumes or raceways supplying a water-wheel; but when designed for the passage of rafted timber they are twenty-five feet wide; and down one of them a crib, containing fifteen hundred cubic feet or nearly forty tons of timber, will be carried, with the men aboard and the cookhouse undisturbed, and in a few moments be fifty feet below its former level.

Dams are resorted to to flood back the water on shoals and rocks which retain and damage the timber; to stop up high water channels—so as to keep it from straying or to strengthen the main current; and also at the head of chutes, to govern and regulate the mouth of slides.

The Ottawa and the Bay of Quinte, the latter as being the outlet of the inland waters, are the chief sources from whence Quebec is supplied with timber; to these may now be added the St. Maurice or Three Rivers. Recently, rafts have been towed through some of the great lakes, but at much risk and some loss. The first raft from the Bay of Quinte was got out by Samuel Sherwood, in 1790. It was composed of masts cut upon the north shore of the bay, three miles east of Trenton; and there being then no cattle in the country, Sherwood used tackle to haul the timber to the water. In 1806, Philemon Wright took the first raft down the Ottawa. It was obtained from the Gatineau, a large tributary entering near Ottawa City.


In 1853, an appropriation of $200,000 was obtained, without previous surveyor estimate, for the purpose of connecting the Chats and Chaudière Lakes by means of a canal with fifty feet lockage. The idea of the projectors was to commence on a magnificent scale at a point where the very uselessness of the expenditure would be an argument in favor of its extension, east and west, to Montreal and Lake Huron. They did not, therefore, court any analyzation of the scheme. The government of that day, on the other hand, obtained the support of the Ottawa constituencies for their railway policy along the St. Lawrence, and were thus induced to grant the sum required to commence operations. The simultaneous failure of the contractor and the appropriation afforded a decent pretext for suspension in 1856, which ended in abandonment: in the meantime the projectors were amused with a series of extensive surveys of the whole route, between Montreal and Lake Huron,—of over four hundred miles, and with estimates for canals for Atlantic vessels.

The result of these surveys shows that the abandoned canal on which $373,191 has been expended was in the wrong place; that to have completed it on the scale proposed would have cost $1,465,439, whereas the same result can be produced in the right place for $681,932—in other words, that the opportune abandonment of the work will effect a saving of $410,316. It is gratifying to know that if the commencement has involved a loss of $373,191, the abandonment has saved a greater sum, and that there is still a handsome balance to the credit of the latter. The summit level of the proposed Ottawa route at Lake Nipissing would be six hundred and fifty-one feet above tide-water; and the total rise and fall from tide-water to Lake Huron, by this route, is seven hundred and twenty-eight feet, the fall from Lake Nipissing to Lake Huron being seventy-seven feet.

The general results of the Ottawa survey, as made by Mr. T. C. Clark, C. E., are embraced in the following table extracted from his report:—


Distances, milesLevels 
Sections.Rivers and
Canals.No. of
Lachine Canal,8.50543.75not estimated.
Lake St. Louis,13.31do.
Saint Anne's,1.1911.00$469,672
Lake of Two Mts.,24.70    
Carillon to Gr'nv'le,7.735.00758.501,649,909
Green Shoals,.10
Ottawa River,55.97    
Chaudière and Des Chènes,3.752.61663.00816,733
Des Chènes Lake,26.69    
Chats Lake,19.28    
Snows to Black falls,18.321.0511104.001,256,840
River and Lake Coulonge,24.93262,514
Chapeau and L'Islet,4.85.14218.00243,507
Deep River,33.58    
Joachim's to Mattawan,51.742.2614148.201,757,653
River Mattawan,16.221.0811144.001,162,154
Summit level and cut,51.155.972,160,369
French River,47.52.82777.00886,117
Add Engineering & Superintendence,574,175

The scale of navigation proposed is for vessels of one thousand tons. Locks two hundred and fifty feet long by forty-five feet wide, with twelve feet depth of water on the mitre sills.

These figures are conclusive;—a canal scheme, undertaken on such a scale, and upon such a route, with all the changes and additions which would follow, would result in an expenditure of at least twenty millions of dollars; but if it could be done for ten, it would be equally impracticable as a provincial undertaking. The region traversed does not possess sufficient political influence to carry the appropriations for a tithe of the sum required; and as a commercial speculation no case could be made out for it. Although it would shorten the distance between Montreal and Lake Huron by three hundred miles over the present route, viâ the lakes and the Welland Canal, there would be no saving of time on the round trip, on account of the extra lockage and river navigation; and it would be exclusively a route for steamers, whereas the greater part of the present route is available for sail craft. On the St. Lawrence route the extra three hundred miles would be overcome by a propeller in the open lakes with an unvarying speed, night and day, of ten miles per hour; while the ten extra locks of the Ottawa route, and the more intricate river navigation worked at half-speed, would demand at least an equal loss of time. For the downward commerce only, which gives at least three tons to one of the upward, the difference is vastly in favor of the St. Lawrence, in those boats which descend the rapids, as there is in this case only the Welland Canal with twenty-seven locks against the Ottawa canals with fifty-nine. On the St. Lawrence route there is a local as well as a through business, and a choice of markets while in transitu, as well as the proximity of railways in case of interruption to the navigation. On the Ottawa there is at present only sawn lumber to fill out a cargo. But while so great an undertaking is, on the part of Canada, financially impracticable and commercially unwarrantable, the opening of this route is, as an imperial and military work, most desirable. From the remote position of the greater part, the expense of cut-stone locks of the size proposed, would make it advisable to reduce the scale and also the character of the work. Cedar cribwork is nearly as durable as ordinary masonry in this climate; and by substituting it, filled with stones and planked water-tight, for stone-work, the Ottawa route would supply the materials and the kind of labor required. The laying of masonry can only be advantageously done for a few months in the year, and a portion of this time would be lost by high water. In some sections it would probably be found cheaper to build timber locks, if only for the purpose of reducing the cost of the future stone ones. Any increased cost of maintenance would be far less than the interest saved, and the amount so saved in interest would be an ample renewal fund. The fact that scarcely one of the hundreds of stone locks in America have proved after ten years' experience, to be properly proportioned, for the wants of commerce, would suggest the propriety of substituting timber for stone for the peculiar conditions of the Ottawa route—especially as there seems no hope for the work being carried out upon any more expensive basis.


The early and efficient commencement of this work was very much retarded by the fact that the obstructions were under separate jurisdictions, and nearly equally divided between the two provinces; and that the action of one would be of little value unless imitated by the other. Lower Canada, having control of the seaports, helped herself to the lion's share of the import duties, the only fund upon which either province could rely for internal improvements. The division of these duties was a constant source of contention between them. From 1792 to 1813, Lower Canada collected a net revenue of £642,000 sterling, of which she kept £600,000 and gave the odd numbers to her younger sister. From 1813 to 1818, Upper Canada received less than twenty-five per cent. of the net revenue collected by Lower Canada,—and in 1820 and 1821, nothing at all; whereupon she carried her complaints to the foot of the throne, and thereafter the Imperial government assumed the collection and distribution of these revenues. The net amount received by the two provinces, in the half-century between their separation in 1791 and their re-union in 1841, was, Lower Canada, £3,445,140 sterling (or $17,225,700;) and Upper Canada, £731,834 sterling (or $3,659,173,) which may be considered the measure of the ability of the two, respectively, in carrying on their public works. Both provinces had a gradually increasing but comparatively unimportant revenue collected at their inland ports; and Lower Canada, under cover of inspection, levied a toll on scows and rafts passing Chateauguay, which, between 1808 and 1831, yielded about £6,500 (or $31,633.33.) She also claimed the excess, not only by virtue of her superior population, but on the ground that rum, the article on which the bulk of the duty was collected, was almost exclusively consumed by her; and Upper Canada was charged with having descended to whisky. Per contra, it may be stated that the quantity of rum which passed above Coteau du Lac in 1799 was about sixty thousand gallons, (which probably went to the United States as well as to Upper Canada;) and the still harder fact that a barrel of rum, the freight on which was three to three and a half dollars from Lachine to Kingston, was the well-known standard of up freight for merchandise by batteaux and Durham boats.

PORTAGE. See Page 132


The action taken by the two provinces, respectively, before the Union with reference to the improvement of the St. Lawrence was as follows. As early as the session of 1795-96, a bill was introduced for the construction of both a canal and a turnpike to Lachine, by the late Hon. John Richardson, who lived to carry out those schemes at a later day. In 1805, the Legislature of Lower Canada appropriated £1,000 (or $4,000) to clear the channel of the Lachine Rapids. Batteaux, which ran down loaded, were dragged up light and took in their up cargo at Lachine, to which point it was carted from Montreal. The result of this first expenditure proving satisfactory, a similar sum was given the following year for the rapids between Montreal and Lake St. Francis. Nothing further was done until 1818, when commissioners were appointed to meet those from Upper Canada about the improvement of the water communication between the provinces, both by the St. Lawrence and Ottawa routes. In that year, also, a company was incorporated to construct the Lachine Canal within three years, and another for the Chambly Canal, to be completed in seven years. In 1821, the Lachine Canal was assumed by the province, the company having failed to act; and in 1823 a similar course was taken, for the same reason, with the Chambly Canal, coupled with the proviso that it should not be commenced until the Lachine was completed. In 1831 an appropriation was made for ascertaining if loaded batteaux could be taken up the rapids between Lakes St. Francis and St. Louis, and whether steamers, about the ultimate power of which great expectations had been formed, could not ascend the cascades to Prescott. This was a scheme for "reducing the grade" of the river at the rapids, by which it was hoped currents of twelve or fourteen miles per hour could be reduced one-half. Cuts forming inclined planes were made at Mill Point below the Cedars, at Point au Diable, the Rigolet, and French's Run; but nothing beyond the expenditure of the money resulted from this movement,—with which the action of Lower Canada in respect to the improvement of the St. Lawrence terminated.

The first movement of Upper Canada was an advertisement dated 19th February, 1817, in which the lieutenant-governor invited tenders for the work of rendering the whole or any portion of the water communication between Lachine and Kingston, by the course of the river Rideau, navigable for boats drawing two feet of water and ten feet in width, and also for boats drawing three feet of water and twelve feet in width. The route defined was by Irish Creek and Rideau and Mud Lakes; the number and position of the locks were to be specified, and "the number of flood-gates in each lock." The next year £2,000 (or $8,000) was granted for a survey of the St. Lawrence, and in 1821 commissioners were appointed. In 1823 and 1824, £2,000 (or $8,000) more were granted to this commission of which Robert Nichol was vice-president, and James Gordon and Charles Jones, members. On the death of Colonel Nichol, his place was filled by John Macaulay. As the views of the country with respect to the scale of the proposed navigation became enlarged each successive year, the magnitude of the undertaking evidently alarmed the Legislature. Even the offer of £70,000 stg. ($350,000) by the Imperial government towards opening the Rideau route, failed to elicit more than an expression of gratitude and a promise of early consideration. The Legislature leaned to the St. Lawrence as the natural commercial route, having only about one-half of the lockage of the Rideau route; and were, moreover, convinced that it would be the cheaper of the two. The Imperial government, desiring the control of the work for military purposes, set about the Rideau Canal themselves, in 1826, on an estimate of £169,000 stg. ($845,000,) and completed it in 1832 at a cost of £900,000 stg. ($4,500,000)—a result which may fully account for the hesitation of the Legislature, in 1825, in accepting the £70,000 ($350,000) and undertaking the work.

The opening of the Rideau route failed to satisfy the wants of the trade. The lock at Vaudreuil was in the hands of a private company; those at Grenville were much less in size than the ones above and below them; fixed bridges prevented masted vessels from going through; and the absence of a towing-path made forwarding a monopoly, and caused the delay and expense of locking a steam-tug through with every freight. Moreover, the canal was managed as a military rather than commercial undertaking—the parties in charge being beyond the reach of authority or opinion in the colony. No sooner had it been tried, therefore, than the improvement of the St. Lawrence was set about; a grant being made for the Cornwall Canal in 1833, and this work was commenced in 1834.

In describing the several works embraced in the improvement of the St. Lawrence, we commence at tide-water with


About fifty miles below Montreal, at the lowest point uninfluenced by tide, the St. Lawrence spreads out into a broad and shallow expanse called Lake St. Peter. The depth at low-water upon these flats was only eleven feet, and sea-going vessels were consequently obliged to lighten in entering and leaving Montreal, which city, notwithstanding this disadvantage, maintained her position as the emporium for the import trade, and of all exports except timber, in which latter trade the tidal harbor and roomy coves of Quebec defy competition. As there were only two or three comparatively insignificant bars above Lake St. Peter, and none below, and as the bed of the lake was soft, it was proposed to deepen the channel by dredging, so that sixteen feet draft of water might be carried up to Montreal. This was first attempted by the government in 1844, when the engineers endeavored to induce old Father St. Lawrence to leave the bed in which he had lain since first he emerged from the ocean, and follow a "straight cut," to be dredged to the required depth. The work was so managed that, after expending $295,619, it was suspended in 1847, and the Legislature, after investigation, abandoned it in disgust; whereupon the Hon. John Young, on behalf of the harbor commissioners of Montreal, after four years had elapsed, obtained permission to try again, and the work was recommenced in 1851. By following the natural channel, complete success has been obtained, with much less time and money, and a vessel drawing not sixteen but eighteen feet of water can now come up. It is intended to continue operations until twenty feet at low-water is obtained; and as the government, having had its practicability demonstrated, has assumed the expense, it is to be hoped this work will be carried out.


The original canal between Montreal and Lachine, commenced in 1821 and completed in 1825 at a cost of £110,000 (or $440,000,) was an admirably constructed work, with cut-stone locks, one hundred and eight feet long between the gates, and twenty feet wide, with fixed bridges of the same class of masonry. In these, as in the locks of the Rideau and St. Lawrence canals, the upper gates were placed upon breast walls, which reduced the effective length of the lock. On the Welland Canal, the upper gates being carried down to the level of the lower ones, the whole length between the gates is available.

The enlargement of the old Lachine boat canal, in connection with the construction and completion of the remainder of the St. Lawrence ship canals, was one of the immediate consequences of the reunion in 1841, thus confirming the views of Mr. Macaulay, in 1825, as to the impolicy of its substantial stone locks of boat size only. The enlargement, begun in 1843, was sufficiently advanced in 1848 for the passage of large vessels, and was completed in 1849, except the widening of a portion of the rock-cut near Lachine which is now in progress. This canal, eight and a half miles long with forty-four feet lockage, surmounts the obstacles presented by the Lachine Rapids, and connects Lake St. Louis, an enlargement of the St. Lawrence, with the harbor of Montreal.


The next in order is the Beauharnois Canal on the opposite or south bank of the St. Lawrence, and the only one upon that side, eleven miles long with eighty feet lockage, commenced in 1842 and completed in 1849. It connects Lake St. Louis with Lake St. Francis, overcoming three considerable rapids, united together by a swift current, and known as the Coteau, the Cedars, and the Cascades.


At the upper end of Lake St. Francis, the Cornwall Canal, twelve miles long with fifty feet lockage, reaches the head of the Longue Sault Rapids. This work was undertaken by Upper Canada alone in 1834, and carried on until 1838, by which time £440,000 (or $1,760,000) had been expended. It was completed after the union, at an additional cost of £75,000 (or $300,000,) and opened for traffic in 1843.


From the Cornwall Canal to Prescott, a distance of thirty-eight miles, there are four minor rapids,—Farrans Point, Rapid Plât, Point Iroquois, and Les Gallopes,—with a united lockage of twenty-two and a half feet, at which four separate canals were first constructed, the two upper of which have since been united by the Junction Canal. These canals were commenced in 1843; the upper one was opened to the trade in 1846 and the remainder in 1847.

The notable feature of the St. Lawrence navigation is, that although between Prescott and Montreal, a distance of one hundred and fifteen miles, there are forty and one-half miles of canal, and twenty-seven locks with two hundred and four and three-quarters feet lockage, steamers of five hundred tons burthen daily descend from the level at Prescott to that at Montreal (the fall being two hundred and twenty-five feet) without using a lock or canal. The rapids of the St. Lawrence, though some have a fall of over forty feet in a mile, are navigable for descending boats with a draught of six to eight feet according to the extremes of low and high water. Freight boats drawing more than this descend the canals; but the mixed freight and passenger steamers, which the rapidity, comfort, and excitement of the trip sustain in spite of the railway, all run the rapids, making the passage between Prescott and Montreal in nine to ten hours. The improvement of the rapids so as to turn the whole descending trade down the river, thereby shortening the time of transit and practically doubling the capacity of the canals, has been mooted for the last ten years. Two modes have been proposed; one to raise the water surface by dams and piers, the other to lower the bottom by submarine blasting,—both having the same object in view, viz., the increase of depth at two or three points, where alone there is any deficiency. The former plan has been successfully adopted for the purposes of the timber navigation on the Ottawa; the latter, which has been also tried there, has not only done no good but positive harm, because it has substituted a torn and jagged bed of rock for one worn smooth by the flow of ages. Moreover, a rapid being an inclined trough, if the bottom is lowered the water surface descends with it more or less, and any attempt to increase the depth, beyond the removal of an isolated boulder, &c., by submarine blasting, except in slack water, seems hopeless. Lastly, the effect of submarine blasting against Potsdam sandstone in shoal water would scarcely be perceptible, while the cost, if persisted in, would be overwhelming. An appropriation of £25,000 (or $100,000) as an experiment would settle the question of the practicability of flooding the shoals by dams, &c., and would be a mere trifle, even to throw away in pursuit of an object of so much importance. The indifference displayed towards this subject, as well as toward the equally important one of an enlarged direct canal between the St. Lawrence (near Montreal) and Lake Champlain is due to the demands created by our railway policy, and the mistaken assumption that railways would in a great measure supersede the canals. Improvements in the navigation do not now come home to any particular locality; or enlist the active co-operation of any party. Moreover, they offer no inducement to speculators to undertake them by corporate companies; for, the expenditure being necessarily made under public competition, in which the work goes to the lowest bidder, such works do not afford any of those incidental advantages by which fortunes are made and party support obtained, and which are so conspicuous in a subsidized railway. When the public funds can be dispensed through the medium of an irresponsible corporation, the left hand is not ignorant of what the right is doing; it is not surprising, therefore, that the indirect system of aiding railways and municipalities has been more popular for the time than the direct application of the money, under proper safeguards, to works of general utility only.

From Prescott upward, navigation is unrestricted for craft of any dimensions to the head of Lake Ontario, a distance of two hundred and fifty miles. Here a canal, or rather a passage without locks, is opened across a sand bar, called the Beach, into Burlington Bay, by which means Hamilton is made a lake port. The Desjardins Canal, also without locks, extends lake navigation to Dundas, five miles above Hamilton; these canals are, however, local works, off the line of the St. Lawrence and Lake routes, and more properly come under the head of Harbor Works.


The Falls of Niagara, with the rapids above and below them, offer by far the most formidable obstruction to navigation of any upon the line of the St. Lawrence. The lockage required to connect that short distance of twenty-eight miles, between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, is greater than the aggregate of all other obstructions in the thousand miles between Lake Superior and tide water.

Although a canal to unite the two lakes was projected at Niagara as early as 1798, and an exploration of the ridge which bounds the Welland River, on the north, was made twenty years later, (in 1818, the year after the scheme was proposed by Mr. Merritt to Gourlay,) the first active movement was made in 1823, by obtaining a line of levels between this river, called also the Chippewa, and Lake Ontario,—which were run by Hiram Tibbets, engineer. On the 19th May, 1824, the legislature incorporated George Keefer, Thomas Merritt, George Adams, William Chisholm, Joseph Smith, Paul Shipman, John Decou, and William Hamilton Merritt, as the "Welland Canal Company," with a capital of £37,500, ($150,000,) divided into 3,000 shares of £12,10s., ($50.00,) each. Over one-fourth of the stock was subscribed, and the work was commenced on the 30th November, 1824, and it is worthy of remark; that "its prosecution was not discontinued a single day until two vessels passed from lake to lake, five years later;" although in the meantime the expenditure was more than six times the original capital. The first project contemplated a boat canal only, up the valley of the Twelve Mile Creek to the foot of the mountain ridge, ascending from thence by a railway to the Beaver dams, and thence to the Welland River by a boat canal tunneled through the Ridge: but power was obtained also to connect the Welland River with Lake Erie at the mouth of the Grand River. In 1825, a ship canal was determined on, and the capital stock was increased to £200,000, ($800,000.) In 1826, the legislature loaned the company £25,000, ($100,000,) and the Imperial government, the same year, gave £16,300, sterling, ($81,500,) one-ninth of the estimated cost, in consideration of the free passage of government stores, troops, and vessels. In 1827, the legislature took £50,000, ($200,000) stock, the company to pay interest until one year after completion; and also granted 13,400 acres of marsh land. The legislature of Lower Canada also took £25,000 stg., (or $100,000) stock. In 1828 the whole amount of stock was paid up, and the company succeeded in borrowing £50,000 (or $250,000) from the Imperial government on condition of surrendering the grant of one-ninth the cost. The work had so progressed that it was fully anticipated the water would have been let in early in November, 1828; but, when within ten days of this estimated result, slips of so formidable a character took place in the "Deep Cut," which was seventy feet in depth, that it became indispensable to abandon the original plan of making a feeder of the Welland River, the level of which is ten feet lower than Lake Erie, and to bring a supply of water on a higher level from the Grand River, in order to pass over the quicksands which caused the slides.

Up to this period the whole pressure had been borne by the shareholders; no aid had been granted by the government except that for which the interest had been punctually paid by the company; but now the funds were almost exhausted, and they dared not appeal to the legislature while prophecies of the inevitable failure of all attempts to get a navigation through the Deep Cut met them at every point. It was now necessary to throw a dam across the Grand River by which its waters were raised about seven feet above, the level of Lake Erie, and to cut a feeder, twenty-seven miles in length, to be carried by an aqueduct over the Welland River; by which means, after allowing for the fall in the feeder, a level sixteen feet higher than the Welland River was obtained, and thus the necessity of carrying the Deep Cut down into those treacherous quicksands was avoided. It was necessary to do all this chiefly on credit, and a covenant was inserted in each contract that a percentage only was to be paid in cash, the balance "after the company obtained the means from the legislature;" so confident were the directors that parliament, like Jupiter, would help those who help themselves.

Although the frost did not leave the ground until the 15th of April, 1829, the dam across the Grand River, the aqueduct over the Welland, four locks at the Deep Cut, the cut at the mouth of the Welland, and twenty-seven miles of canal, were so far completed on the 9th day of October as to admit the passing of a vessel down the feeder; and on the 30th of November (the anniversary of its commencement five years before,) two schooners, one British and the other American, the "Ann and Jane" of York (Toronto,) and the "R. H. Boughton" of Youngstown, N. Y., passed up from Lake Ontario into Lake Erie.

The confidence displayed by the contractors, without which the works must have been suspended altogether, was a natural result of the vigor, ability, and integrity displayed by the projector of the work,—the Hon. William Hamilton Merritt,[10]—by whose extraordinary energy, perseverance and discretion all difficulties were surmounted. Of those out of the province, John B. Yates of New York, the largest private shareholder, who in 1827 became liable for a large amount in aid of the company, was its greatest benefactor. To show upon how few the labor fell, only eight Upper Canadians, viz., William Hamilton Merritt of St. Catherines, George Keefer of Thorold (who was the first president of the company,) John Henry Dunn, John Beverly Robinson, William Allan, Henry John Boulton, D'Arcy Boulton, and Colonel Joseph Wells, of Toronto,—held sufficient stock to qualify them to become directors; and for these services they never received, or looked for, any compensation.

Parliament in 1830, by a majority of two, granted a loan of £25,000 (or $100,000,) which enabled the company to pay the debts incurred during the previous year. The whole expenditure to this period had been £272,795 (or $1,091,180.) To avoid the circuitous route by the Welland and Niagara Rivers, and the strong current in the latter, it was proposed to enlarge the feeder, as far as its course was directed toward Lake Erie, and cut a new channel, only seven miles long, to join that lake at Gravelly Bay; and for this purpose the aqueduct over the Welland had been made twenty-four feet wide. In 1831, £50,000 (or $200,000) was loaned by the legislature on condition that this amount would complete the canal and harbors, and that the company should pay the interest of the loan and one-half the principal; and John B. Yates, William H. Merritt, and Alexander Yates McDonell became sureties for these conditions. The work was retarded by fearful ravages of the cholera in 1832, but in 1833 the new outlet at Gravelly Bay (Port Colborne,) was brought into use. After this date the control of the work was in a great measure assumed by commissioners appointed by government to look after the large interest the province now had in the undertaking. In 1834, the capital was increased to £250,000 (or $1,000,000,)—the government subscribing for £50,000 (or $200,000,) stock by the casting vote of Mr. Speaker McLean, ever a friend to the work. In 1836, a committee of the house recommended the assumption of the work by the province, and ultimate indemnification of the shareholders, as an act of justice to the latter, who had been the means of conferring so great a boon upon the province; and in 1837 all government loans were converted into stock, and a further appropriation of £245,000 (or $980,000,) to complete the canal in a durable manner, with stone locks, was authorized. In 1839, the purchase of the private stock was authorized by an act to which the royal assent was withheld; but, on the unanimous petition of the legislature, this was given in 1840; and the legislature authorized a grant of £500,000 (or $2,000,000,) to complete the work,—only two members out of eighty opposing the grant,—a striking contrast to the state of feeling in 1834, when the company were saved from ruin only by the casting vote of Speaker McLean. Doctor Strachan, archdeacon of York, and member of the legislative council, the present bishop of Toronto, was always a firm supporter of the work, and by his vigorous pen contributed in no small degree, as early as 1825, in putting the true scope and bearing of this important enterprise before the country. Hon. W. B. Robinson, now a commissioner of the Canada Company, as government commissioner and superintendent of the canal, and subsequently as chief commissioner of public works for the province, was ever a fast friend to this great work.

The old Welland Canal had forty wooden locks, one hundred feet in length between the gates, and twenty-two feet wide between the walls, with seven feet water on the sills; and these endured from 1829 until 1845, by which time they were fully worn out. The section of the canal was twenty-six feet wide at bottom, fifty-six feet on water-line, and eight feet depth of water. The cost of stone locks would alone have consumed all the company's resources, leaving nothing for excavations, dams, harbors, aqueducts, and bridges; and any attempt on that basis would have ruined the enterprise. By taking a vessel, of over one hundred tons, from lake to lake, in 1829, at an outlay of a little over one million of dollars, the company were sustained by the legislature—which up to that period had never given them more than £50,000 (or $200,000,) at a time, but which, ten years later, voted ten times as much for stone locks.

It is impossible, at this day, fully to appreciate the vicissitudes of such an undertaking by corporate enterprise in Upper Canada more than thirty years ago. We have only the successes before us;—the refusals, disappointments, sneers, and raillery suffered by the directors and their supporters are forgotten; but, so long as the St. Lawrence flows to the sea, Upper Canada will remember with pride and affection the men who could, at so early a day, carry such a vast enterprise to successful completion. Projects for organizing joint-stock companies in Montreal, the commercial metropolis of British North America, before 1820, for the comparatively insignificant Lachine and Chambly Canals, fell stillborn; and when the latter work was commenced by Lower Canada in 1831, with three-fourths of the import duties levied on the consumption of the two provinces in her treasury, it was suspended in 1835, and only completed in 1843,—requiring more than twice the time taken to open the Welland Canal. The Cornwall Canal, commenced by Upper Canada in 1834, was suspended in 1838 and not completed till 1843. If the provincial governments, with all the increase in wealth and population, of 1835 over 1825, found such difficulties, we may infer what the Welland Canal Company encountered and surmounted, and thus more truly appreciate the result.

The enlargement and reconstruction commenced immediately after the union, and the new stone locks were ready for passing vessels of the larger size, by way of the feeder, in 1845, and the main route was opened through in 1850. Doubts respecting the capacity of the Grand River as a reservoir have led to the lowering of the section between the Deep Cut and Port Colborne, so as to make Lake Erie (which is ten feet higher than the Welland River) the feeder. This lowering of the bottom, which is still in progress, is effected by dredges, the water not being removed; and, therefore, no further slides are anticipated.


key = A Length in Miles.; B Width of Canal.; C At Bottom.; D: At Surface.; E Lockage in Feet.; F Number of Locks.; G Size of Locks.; H: Length between Gates.; I Width in Clear.; J Depth of water on Mitre sills.; K Cost Before Union.; L Cost Since Union.; M Total Cost.

The Feeder branch from Grand River to junction,21.003571......
The Broad Creek branch,—Lake Erie to the Feeder,1.50458581
The Main Trunk, Lake Erie to Lake Ontario,28.00......346{ 24
Williamsburg Canals9.75509029½6
Cornwall Canals,11.50100150487
Beauharnois Canals,11.258012082½9
Lachine Canals,8.008012044¾ {3
Lock Gates,...............
General Expenditure,...............
Improvement of Rapids,...............
Lake St Peter,—expended by Government,...............
Lake St Peter,—expended by Harbor Commissioners,...............
St. Ours Lock and Dam,.........51
Chamblay Canal,11.503660749
St. Ann's Lock and Dam,.........1
[H]Chats Canal,...............
     Total Colonial Expenditure,     
[H]Carillon Canal, }Passing the Longue2.9018 to 40363...
[H]Chute à Blondeau Canal, Sault of the0.16373-3/81...
[H]Grenville Canal, Ottawa River,5.7815 to 30467...
[H]Rideau Canal, (connects Ottawa with Kingston,)126.25......44647

Table continued ...

The Feeder branch from Grand River to junction,.........   
The Broad Creek branch,—Lake Erie to the Feeder,185459} $1,692,895.63$4,576,105.89$6,269,001.52
The Main Trunk, Lake Erie to Lake Ontario,2004510
Williamsburg Canals200459...1,320,506.041,320,506.04
Cornwall Canals,2005591,448,538.47466,045.741,914,584.21
Beauharnois Canals,200459...1,589,170.381,589,170.38
Lachine Canals,200459} 398,404.152,000,455.702,398,859.85
Lock Gates,............6,244.606,244.60
General Expenditure,............74,272.8874,272.88
Improvement of Rapids,.........40,405.0028,659.0069,064.00
Lake St Peter,—expended by Government,............295,619.00295,619.00
Lake St Peter,—expended by Harbor Commissioners,...............[I]882,197.39
St. Ours Lock and Dam,200457...153,117.65153,117.65
Chamblay Canal,120247322,441.7967,653.25390,095.04
St. Ann's Lock and Dam,190456...111,796.57111,796.57
[H]Chats Canal,............373,191.98373,191.98
     Total Colonial Expenditure,...484,988.55484,988.55
[H]Carillon Canal, }Passing the Longue12832 ...} ...1,011,904.001,011,904.00
[H]Chute à Blondeau Canal, Sault of the12832 ...
[H]Grenville Canal, Ottawa River,106.619.25 ...
[H]Rideau Canal, (connects Ottawa with Kingston,)134335......4,380,000.00

Includes cost of Dredging plant.

Constructed by the Imperial Government.

The magnitude of the work undertaken in Lake St. Peter, by the Harbor Commissioners of Montreal, may be estimated from the fact that 3,000,000 cubic yards have already been removed by dredging, and that another million yards must yet be dredged to give the intended depth of twenty feet at low water, and a width of channel of 300 feet.

It is an incident not generally known, and worthy of record, that the foundation stone of the Locks at Ottawa, for the Rideau Canal, was laid by the celebrated, but unfortunate arctic voyager, Sir John Franklin.


Showing the amounts expended from 1791 to 1861, in other public works connected with the Navigation.

DESCRIPTION.Cost Before Union.Cost Since Union.Total Cost.
Lighthouses,—Upper and Lower Canada,$10,000.00$788,223.11$798,223.11
Ottawa slides, etc.,...$697,877.61$697,877.61
St. Maurice slides, etc.,...242,584.51242,584.51
Trent and Newcastle slides,...352,113.80352,113.80
Local Works—Upper Canada:   
Burlington Bay Canal,124,356.00158,326.00282,682.00
Desjardins Canal, (estimated,)100,000.00...100,000.00
Trent Inland Navigation,165,180.05103,809.61268,989.66
Local Works—Lower Canada:   
Harbors and Piers,$315,900.00$1,388,460.85$1,704,368.85
Grand Total,$5,171,065.37

Summing up the provincial, municipal, and corporate expenditure of Canada, under the three heads of Roads, Navigation, and Railway; we find that in round numbers the first have cost $11,000,000; the second, $21,000,000; and the Canadian interest in the last, is at least $30,000,000; or a total of over $60,000,000. This sum also, is about the measure of the public debt of the Province,—so that, setting off what has been expended on public works, out of revenue, against what has been borrowed for other purposes,—we can not lay claim to the possession of any which have yet been paid for.



In commencing the Lachine Canal, in 1821, on a larger scale than those in progress by New York, Lower Canada no doubt supposed she was undertaking all which the circumstances of the case required. In fact, both Upper and Lower Canada were under the delusion that equal facilities in the shape of artificial navigation would give the St. Lawrence with its short canals the advantage over the Hudson with its long ones. They afterwards discovered that it was to be a competition between the attractions offered by rival seaports and their ocean aspect, rather than between the inland routes by which these were reached; that when the Canada route would have the patronage of one hundred thousand, the American would have that of one million; in short, that it would require the development of all the superiority of which the St. Lawrence route was capable, to counterbalance its political and geographical disadvantages.

In comparing Montreal with New York, the great superiority of the latter in shipping accommodation, in cheap export rates, ready sale of large quantities, and especially in the supply of back freights to the inland craft, as well as in the control which the capital of the Atlantic States exercises over the exports of the Western ones—are reasons sufficient to account for the preference which has been given to the latter. But another reason for the slight effect hitherto produced by our canal expenditure, is that all the great American public works were prospectively constructed in advance of the demands of the country; that they have hitherto been more useful for the purpose of expediting the settlement of the interior than as affording an outlet for an existing commerce; and that, until 1860, the carrying capacity of the canals and railways has generally exceeded the wants of the country. With this condition of affairs, railways, supported by a passenger traffic, and desirous of raising their stock quotations by swelling their gross receipts at any cost, have worn out their iron in carrying freights at non-paying rates. While the stream of commerce is weak it can easily be diverted; but when it overflows, capacity must exert its influence so long as there is intelligence and ability to make the proper use of it. If the competition had been confined to the water routes, that by the St. Lawrence would ere this, from sheer necessity, have been better patronized; but the premature birth of a railway system before the existence of a legitimate railway business—a system which was hungering for the coarse staples of export—dissipated the traffic, before even the Erie Canal was overtaxed, by offering facilities which could not be equaled on the water, and rates which could not be afforded on the land. Moreover, a legitimate winter traffic—in exports to which an extra price obtained, or interest saved, counterbalanced extra freight—has enabled the railways to remove, during that season, much of the produce on which the canals relied.

The further enlargement of the Welland Canal has been agitated for several years, but as the question has presented itself as one of convenience and economy of transport, rather than of insufficiency for tonnage,—it has made little progress. Larger locks would admit the larger class of vessels now excluded, and thereby somewhat cheapen freights; but until the capacity of the present canal is exhausted, and a better return on the investment guaranteed, it is not probable that any determined action will be taken. This question must be, moreover, mainly influenced by international relations; and by the probability of the St. Lawrence becoming a route for western imports as well as exports. If Chicago outgrows her commercial vassalage to New York, so that the West is permitted to buy as well as sell in Montreal, Canada can afford to enlarge her avenues to the seaboard. Hitherto we have reaped little but a barren reputation for all our cosmopolitan exertions in delivering the West from the monopoly of the New York canals. Up to 1845, and before our St. Lawrence canals were opened, foreign salt was excluded from western packing-houses, by a toll, on the Erie Canal, of nearly three dollars per barrel, and Nova Scotia plaster from Western canals by a toll of over three dollars per ton. Even now, New York, in order to protect her own products, charges foreign salt five times, and foreign gypsum three times as much as the domestic article. Millions of dollars have been saved to the Western country by the reduction of tolls on the Erie Canal since 1845, and though some of this is due to railway competition,—yet, on the quantity of wheat alone, which was shipped by canal from Buffalo in 1861, the reduction in tolls over those of 1845, amounts to nearly a million of dollars. The down toll upon a barrel of flour, is now 15 cents, and the up toll on 100 lbs. maide, 26 cents,—less than in 1845.

The St. Lawrence canals were designed for side-wheel steamers; the Welland Canal for sail-vessels and screw steamers. The number of sail-craft employed on the lakes, American and Canadian, is one thousand two hundred, and the whole number of steamers is three hundred and seventy, of which about one hundred are tugs, and which may, therefore, properly be assigned to the sail fleet. Of the remaining two hundred and seventy, one hundred and fifty only are side-wheel boats, including ferry boats, and river and lake steamers which do not navigate canals. This proves that in a short canal connecting long lines of deep water and sail navigation, and with the great amount of lockage of the Welland Canal, provision for side-wheel steamers is as unnecessary as it would be inconvenient. The mammoth side-wheel steamers can not pay; they were the creation of rival railway routes as an attraction for passengers,—were sustained as long as possible by railway capital or railway receipts; but now they are, with two exceptions, either rotting at the railway docks or have gone to sea. Any attempt to accommodate such experimental or exceptional craft, either in the St. Lawrence or Welland canals, would be as impracticable as absurd. They can not carry freight profitably; and, while railways are in existence, they could not retain their passengers in a canal. If our canals were enlarged for such boats they would not use them, except to shift their routes, or in case of a sale. It is desirable for the strength, safety, and facility of handling the gates, that the width of the locks should not be unnecessarily increased; and there is a great waste of time, as well as of water, in filling a large lock in order to pass a small vessel. Moreover, if the width of the lock is increased, the whole trunk of the canal should be widened proportionally.

Whatever may prove to be the ultimate demands of the trade, the dimensions of the locks will be governed by sail and screw vessels, and the preposterous dimensions required to enable one of the obsolete railway steamers to surmount the three hundred and thirty feet lockage of the Welland Canal must be abandoned.

The St. Lawrence, from its strong current, is a steam navigation, and the peculiar facilities afforded for passengers and freight going down by the rapids, require that its locks should pass side-wheel steamers of moderate dimensions. Any future enlargement here will be to provide for increase in the length, and draft of water of the boats. A diminution of ten feet in the width from that of the Cornwall Canal has already been made, and the locks are now wide enough for such side-wheel steamers as the route requires, and wider than is needed for screws; but if increased depth be afforded, an increase in the length for screw steamers or sailing craft may be in the future. There remains, however, to be first determined the important question whether the inland business is to be done by through-boats, or by transhipment at Kingston. It is probable that river craft may, with less time and outlay of capital, receive the grain from the sail-vessel whose proper sphere is the lakes.

Ten years ago the tonnage of flour going to the seaboard was three times as great as that of wheat—now the proportions are reversed—and in addition to this, the largely increasing quantities of corn gives such a preponderance to the grain trade that elevators and portage railways are called into play and transhipment is no longer the unmixed evil it was considered to be.

The Civil War has turned Western Canadian exports down the St. Lawrence—more grain having reached Montreal in 1861 and 1862, than in all the previous years since the opening of the canals—but these have not benefited by this diversion in consequence of the abolition of the tolls, in May, 1860, whereby about $645,000 has been transferred from the Provincial treasury to the forwarders—doubtless to compensate them for the injury which the Grand Trunk railway inflicted on them when carrying produce with the aid of provincial funds.

The Welland Canal locks pass a sail-vessel registered as high as four hundred tons, with a carrying capacity of 17,500 bushels of wheat. The St. Lawrence locks pass a side-wheel steamer about seven hundred tons register, with a carrying capacity of about four thousand barrels of flour.

The canal system of Canada may be said to embrace four distinct routes; but, as all are connected, any number of them may be combined. They are,—

1. The St. Lawrence route;

2. The Ottawa route;

3. The Champlain route;

4. The Lake route, or Welland Canal.

The first three terminate at tide-water; the last may be said to terminate in Lake Ontario, or its extension to Prescott, because the great majority of the vessels which pass the Welland Canal do not also pass the St. Lawrence. A vessel with twenty-six feet beam may proceed to sea, from any of the upper lakes, by the route of the Welland and St. Lawrence canals; but she can not enter Lake Champlain with more than twenty-three feet, or pass down the Ottawa route with more than eighteen feet beam. She may carry ten feet draft into Lake Ontario, but must lighten to nine in descending the St. Lawrence; and, if her other dimensions were reduced, she could carry five feet down the Ottawa, and six feet into Lake Champlain. From Lake Ontario, a vessel of forty-four feet beam may proceed to sea. The Chambly Canal will not admit deep vessels from the lakes, but it is more than sufficient for boats from the Ottawa, and larger than the canal which connects Lake Champlain with the Hudson. The St. Ours lock has been constructed on the scale of the St. Lawrence canals; but the enlargement of the Chambly Canal has not been undertaken,—partly because it has been proposed to supersede it, for western trade, by a canal from some point near Montreal to St. Johns, on the Richelieu, in order to save the detour of one hundred miles via Sorel; and partly because any enlargement would not produce its full effect until it was carried through to the Hudson, which can only be done by the state of New York. A canal which would admit the craft of the upper lakes into Champlain by the shortest and cheapest route, would place Boston (via Burlington) and New York (via Whitehall) in the same relation to the West which they now enjoy through the more distant ports of Ogdensburg and Oswego, respectively, and thus add to the St. Lawrence canals that portion of American traffic now given only to the Welland. Whether it forced or invited a passage through to the Hudson or not, it could not fail to aid the canals above it, and is a necessary corollary to the system—unless it be determined to exclude the St. Lawrence canals from the benefit of that American transit trade which is the chief support of the Welland. So long and as often as New York and New England are better markets for western exports than other countries, these exports will go there; and, of course, by American if they can not by Canadian routes.

For transatlantic trade, our canals offer a communication with the lakes, the inland portion of which is superior to that via New York; but the sea portion, inferior in rates of freight and insurance. Increased capital, by increasing trade, alone will equalize the routes. Political considerations may, however, exert an influence which can not be foreseen; but the route exists, and, if required, can be made use of to any extent by the application of that capital which now sustains its rivals.


More than two hundred years ago, or about a.d. 1630, one Master Beaumont ruined himself in coal mining, but has been immortalized by the biographer of George Stephenson as the first man that formed a railway; for although his rails were of wood, and the wheeled vehicles were drawn by horses, yet the principle of the railway was there. These tramways were in use a century before iron was employed in them, which event is supposed to have taken place about 1738.

The birth of the Steam Engine was naturally followed by propositions to convert it into a locomotive for common roads; and between 1763 and 1800, Cugnot in France, Evans in the United States, Symington in Scotland, and Murdoch and Trevethick in England, experimented with steam carriages. The latter, in 1804, was the first to put the locomotive where it properly belongs, on the railway, but the wheels being "roughed" in order to "bite" the rail, they fairly devoured it; and though possessing some speed and a power to draw, this arrangement was almost immediately abandoned. Blenkinsop, in 1812, successfully introduced a locomotive with pinion wheels working into a racked rail, which drew thirty coal wagons at three and a quarter miles per hour. In 1813, Blackett, a colliery owner, discovered (by simply trying the experiment) that the adhesion of a smooth wheel on the plain rail was sufficient for traction, and thus the first great step toward efficiency was gained. The locomotive, notwithstanding these strides, was still a crude and almost useless machine until George Stephenson, at this stage, applied his eminently practical mind to the subject. His first engine, however, though the most successful that had yet been constructed, showed at the end of a year's work an economy only equal to that of horse-power, and then it was, in 1815, that Stephenson applied the exhaust steam to the chimney, and by one stroke more than doubled the power of the engine. The discovery of the steam-blast was the second and most important stride in the railway system. The waste steam instead of, as before, puffing into the air, after having done its work, was turned up the smoke-stack, immensely increasing the draught, and therefore the production of steam in proportion to the speed, so that—

The faster she goes

The harder she blows—

and vice versa. Persevering in his determination to overcome all obstacles, Stephenson got rid of the superfluous machinery of his predecessors, and made his engines direct acting, while he increased the adhesion by connecting the other wheels with the driving ones;—and thus, as early as 1816, constructed engines which, strange as it may appear, were "in regular and useful work, in 1858, conveying heavy coal trains at the speed of five or six miles the hour, probably as economically as any of the more perfect locomotives now in use." Notwithstanding this early demonstration of its practicability, it was not until the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, in 1830, that the success of the locomotive was admitted. So long as railways were restricted to short lines in the colliery districts, power was more important than speed; but when for the first time about to be applied on an extensive scale to general traffic, so little impression had fifteen years of constant use at the Killingworth colliery made upon the public mind, that the Directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway were unable to decide whether their line should be worked by fixed or locomotive power. They had indeed allowed Stephenson to place one of his engines on the line, in 1829, to assist in its construction; but though this was working under their eyes, and though more than one deputation had visited the colliery railways, on which locomotives had been successfully at work for years, it was evident that the machine of that day was more valuable for what it promised to those who could see, than for what it was. Tredgold declared in favor of fixed engines. Telford could not say whether even these would succeed, or that horses should not be used. In this dilemma the directors commissioned Messrs. Walker and Rastrick to visit the collieries and report on the question. They recommended the stationary reciprocating system as the best! Against all this array of talent George Stephenson, the fireman, at a shilling a day—the mender of clocks and of his sweetheart's shoes, the embroiderer of pitmen's button-holes—alone stood firm. He knew he was right, and would not be silenced; for though officially worsted, he, aided by his illustrious son Robert, successfully exposed the fallacy of the arguments used against the locomotive, and induced the directors to take the sensible course of offering a premium of £500 for a machine which should travel ten miles the hour, be safe, and unobjectionable as to weight, cost, &c.

The locomotive had been condemned on the assumption that the speed could not be increased without a loss of power—Stephenson asserted that by the action of the steam-blast the power increased with the speed; that in fact all that was necessary to make the slow colliery engines fast ones, was to have a boiler capable of generating steam as rapidly as the increase of speed required.

On the day appointed, the 6th October, 1830, four engines entered the list, two only of which, Ericsson's "Novelty," and Stephenson's "Rocket," distinguished themselves. The former ran at the rate of twenty-four miles an hour, but depending on a blower to keep up the draught, this gave out and she failed. The Rocket, which was the first ready, ran at the then astonishing rate of thirty and thirty-five miles the hour,—had no breakdown, and carried off the prize, as well as effectually disposed of the twenty-one fixed engines, with the engine-houses, ropes, &c., which the eminent engineers had declared indispensable to the working of the line. This result was accomplished by adopting the multitubular boiler for the locomotive, which is the third and last great principle in the progress of the railway.

Since that memorable day when the father of railways "delivered himself" (as one of his opponents on the board exclaimed, with hands upraised in astonishment), the present generation has seen over 50,000 miles of railway constructed, at a cost of about four thousand millions of dollars, the greater portion of this mileage being upon this continent.


Canada owes her first railway as well as her first steamboat to Montreal. In 1831, when the news of the success of the Liverpool and Manchester road came across the water, measures were taken to obtain a charter, which was granted on 25th February, 1832, for the construction of a railway from Laprairie on the St. Lawrence to St. John's, a village above the rapids of the Richelieu River, the outlet for the waters of Lake Champlain. The length was sixteen miles, and the capital £50,000, in 1,000 shares of £50 each, or a little over £3,000 per mile. The work was commenced in 1835, opened with horses in July, 1836, and first worked with locomotives in 1837. It was a "strap-rail" road until 1847, when the heavy T iron was laid.

The next movement was a premature one, in Upper Canada. A charter was obtained, 6th March, 1834, for a Railway from Cobourg to any point on Rice Lake; and though the distance is no greater than that between Laprairie and St. John's, no less than £400,000 capital was provided. In the same year a charter was granted to the London and Gore Railway Company, for a road from London to Burlington Bay, to be extended to the navigable waters of the Thames and Lake Huron. This was the legislative beginning of that important line the Great Western Railway.

The first railway actually constructed in Upper Canada was by the old "Erie and Ontario Company," and was designed to restore the ancient portage route around the Falls of Niagara, between Queenstown and Chippewa, which had been superseded by the Welland Canal. This line was chartered in 1835, and was opened in 1839, as a horse railway, the steepness of the grades near Queenstown being beyond the capacity of locomotive power of that day; and as it stopped at the bank of the Niagara, over one hundred feet above the water level, it fell into disuse. In 1852 the charter was amended, and the line altered so as to run from Lake Ontario at Niagara, to Suspension Bridge and the Falls of Niagara.

Between 1832 and 1845 over a dozen charters were granted in the two provinces, none of which, except the horse railway just mentioned, were followed up; and the Laprairie road continued the sole representative of the system, using locomotives for ten years, or until 1847. In 1845 the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway Company was chartered, to connect with the "Atlantic and St. Lawrence," an American company from Portland. This road, though an international rather than a Canadian one, became, by subsequent amalgamation, part of the Grand Trunk; and is, therefore, the beginning of that extensive line. It is worthy of remark, that up to this time the railway efforts of Montreal had been directed to divert the trade of Canada to American cities, her rivals as seaports. In 1846 the first look westward was made in the commencement of the Lachine Railway, but this was undertaken rather as a suburban portage road than as part of the main western line. Although some thirty charters had been granted up to 1850, the only roads on which any work had been done were the Laprairie, St. Lawrence and Atlantic, Lachine, St. Lawrence and Industry, in Lower Canada; and the Erie and Ontario in Upper Canada. Many of these charters have been allowed to drop; and, with the exception of the corporations named, nearly all those relating to roads since built, were extended and amended before any work was commenced. In 1850 the Ottawa and Prescott Railway was authorized, and the line was opened in December, 1854.

The first railway in Upper Canada on which locomotives were used was the Northern, from Toronto to Bradford, opened in June, 1853; yet in 1860, only seven years from that date, about three hundred locomotives were thundering and bellowing over the upper province, between the Ottawa and Lake Huron.

Of the fifty-six charters granted up to June, 1853, only twenty-seven were acted upon, and in twenty-five cases the roads have been completed; the other two (the Woodstock and Lake Erie and the Hamilton and Port Dover) are yet unfinished. By amalgamation or leasing, the Grand Trunk and Great Western have swallowed up nine out of these twenty-five chartered and completed roads, there being now only sixteen distinct railways in the whole province. Since 1853 only three new charters have been acted upon, viz., Preston and Berlin, Three Rivers and Arthabaska, and Peterboro' and Chemung Lake. The last is completed; the first was completed and opened for a time, but is not now in use, and the second is nearly completed.

The province has now 1,906 miles of railway, 1,800 of which have been opened within the last ten years, under the impetus given by the railway legislation of 1849-1852. Of these 1,906 miles, the Grand Trunk Company alone have 872 miles within the province, leaving 1,034 miles in all the other companies. Of these last, however, sixty miles, owned by four companies, are not now in operation. Canada has more miles of railway than Scotland or Ireland, or any of the New England States, and is only exceeded in this respect by five States in America, viz., New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Of her total railway expenditure, which exceeds one hundred millions of dollars, about thirty millions have been supplied by the government and municipalities. The following tables will show the leading statistics of Canadian railways, from official sources, as far as returns have been made.



Corporate name
of Railway.
Name of Section.Date of Opening.
1Great WesternMain Line—Suspension Bridge to HamiltonNov. 10, 1853,
2""Hamilton to LondonDec. 31, 1853,
3""London to WindsorJan. 27, 1854,
4"Branches—Harrisburg to GaltAug. 21, 1854,
5""Galt to GuelphSept. 28, 1857,
6""Hamilton to TorontoDec. 3, 1855,
7""Komoka to SarniaDec. 27, 1858,
8Grand TrunkMain Line—Toronto to GuelphJuly, 1856,
9""Guelph to StratfordNov. 17, 1856,
10""Stratford to LondonSept. 27, 1858,
11""St. Mary's to SarniaNov. 21, 1859,
12""Toronto to OshawaAugust, 1856,
13""Oshawa to BrockvilleOct. 27, 1856,
14""Brockville to MontrealNov. 19, 1855,
15""Victoria Bridge and approachesDec. 16, 1859,
16""Montreal to St. HyacintheSpring, 1847,
17""St. Hyacinthe to SherbrookeAugust, 1852,
18""Sherbrooke to Province LineJuly, 1853,
19""Richmond to QuebecNov. 27, 1854,
20""Chaudière Junction to St. ThomasDec. 23, 1855,
21""St. Thomas to St. PaschalDec. 31, 1859,
22""St. Paschal to Rivière du LoupJuly 2, 1860,
23Branch—KingstonNov. 10, 1860,
24NorthernMain Line—Toronto to BradfordJune 13, 1853,
25""Bradford to BarrieOct. 11, 1853,
26""Barrie to CollingwoodJan. 2, 1855,
27Buffalo and Lake HuronFort Erie to ParisNov. 1, 1856,
28"Paris to StratfordDec. 22, 1856,
29"Stratford to GoderichJune 28, 1858,
30"From temporary terminus to Station in East stMay 16, 1860,
31London and Port StanleyOct. 1, 1856.
32Cobourg and PeterboroughMay, 1854.
33Erie and OntarioJuly 3, 1854.
34Ottawa and PrescottDec., 1854.
35Montreal and ChamplainMontreal to LachineNov., 1847.
36"Caughnawaga to Moers' JunctionAug., 1852.
37"St. Lambert to St. John (old portion, July, 1836)Jan., 1852.
38"St. John's to Rouse's PointAug., 1851.
39Carillon and GrenvilleOct., 1854.
40St. Lawrence and IndustryMay, 1850.
41Port Hope, Lindsay, and BeavertonMain Line—Port Hope to LindsayDec. 30, 1857.
42"Branch—Millbrook to PeterboroughAug. 18, 1858.
43WellandJune 27, 1859.
44Brockville and OttawaMain Line—Brockville to AlmonteFeb. 17 & Aug. 22, 1859.
45"Branch—Smith's Falls to PerthFeb. 17, 1859.
46"Tunnel from temporary station to HarborDec. 31, 1860.
47Stanstead, Shefford, & ChamblySt. John's to West FarnhamJan 1, 1859.
48"West Farnham to GranbyDec. 31, 1859.
49Peterborough and Chemung LakePeterborough to Snow FallsJuly 6, 1859.
50Preston and BerlinFrom Galt branch of Great Western to Grand TrunkNov. 2, 1857.
51Stanstead, Shefford, & ChamblyFrom Granby to Waterloo

Table continued ...

Railway.Length of Section.
Total Length.
143 Under one management
850In Canada, and under one management
2442}From Toronto to Lake Huron.
3124Lake Erie to London.
3228Lake Ontario to Peterborough.
3317Lake Ontario to Chippewa.
3454From the St. Lawrence to Ottawa City.
4012Lanoraie to St. Industrie.
4213.5056.50From Lake Ontario northward.
4325From Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.
481528From Montreal and
Champlain Railway to Co. of Shefford.
49 4 
Total miles in operation in 18601,880.96 
5011Omitted from the above table because not in use.
5115Opened since 1860.
Total miles completed1,906.96 

Of these 1,906.96 miles, sixty are not now (1862) in operation, viz. the Cobourg and Peterborough, Peterborough and Chemung, Erie and Ontario, and Preston and Berlin; of the remainder, the St. Lawrence and Industry, and Carillon and Grenville, are worked only in summer.


Corporate name of Railway.Cost of Road and Equipments.Capital Stock paid in.
$   c.$   c.
a Great Western and its Branches23,000,104.0016,158,641.00
b Grand Trunk and its Branches55,690,039.9213,524,803.48
c Northern (Toronto to L. Huron)3,890,778.68823,818.50
d Buffalo and Lake Huron6,403,045.864,345,701.26
e London and Port Stanley1,017,220.00939,542.00
f Welland1,309,209.92710,299.60
g Erie and Ontario......
h Port Hope, Lindsay and Beaverton, and Branch......
i Cobourg and Peterborough......
j Brockville and Ottawa, and Branch1,901,000.00207,000.00
k Ottawa and Prescott1,432,647.21300,630.35
l Montreal and Champlain, and Branch2,485,425.161,226,250.00
m Carillon and Grenville......
n St. Lawrence and Industry50,171.0042,300.00
o Stanstead, Shefford, & Chambly......
p Peterboro' & Chemung Lake......

Table continued ...

Funded Debt.
Railway1st preference Bonds.2d preference Bonds.
$   c.$   c.
a6,827,640.00Included in

Table continued ...

RailwayGovernment Loan.Floating Debt.Interest paid on debt in 1860.Dividends paid in 1860.
$   c.$   c.$   c.
a2,791,947.00[J]...528,254.003 per ct. for six months.
(Exclusive of rents & mortgs.)
n...909.0048.002 per cent.

The total amount borrowed from the Province by the Great Western Railway, on account of the Guarantee Law was, $3,755,555.18. In July 1858, this company repaid $957,114.45 of this amount.

Note.—The length of roads for which there are no returns of cost in the above table is 172¼ miles, including eleven miles of Preston and Berlin, not running. The cost of these roads cannot be far from $5,000,000, and the total cost of Canadian Railways is over $100,000,000. The expenditure "on capital account," is much greater than the "cost of road and equipments." In the case of the Grand Trunk Railway, the total expenditure is about $70,000,000—the difference representing interest and discount accounts, loss in working, &c. Of the Grand Trunk cost, $1,621,231.69 was on the Portland Division, and therefore not in Canada.



Corporate name of Railway.Total earnings in 1860.Total expenses in 1860.Net income for 1860.
a Great Western & Branches$2,197,943.34$1,993,806.00$204,043.00
b Grand Trunk & Branches3,349,658.182,806,583.17533,075.01
c Northern332,967.01260,466.5672,500.45
d Buffalo and Lake Huron315,763.99264,191.2951,572.70
e London and Port Stanley29,385.5723,256.026,129.75
f Welland64,554.4051,274.3513,280.06
g Erie and Ontario.........
h Port Hope, Lindsay and Beaverton, and Branch53,694.0440,111.0113,583.03
i Cobourg and Peterborough.........
j Brockville and Ottawa, and Branch53,801.1034,427.2519,373.85
k Ottawa and Prescott75,362.1651,465.1123,897.05
l Montreal and Champlain232,803.44136,349.62105,708.82
m Carillon and Grenville7,937.255,762.182,175.06
n St. Lawrence and Industry8,796.007,819.00978.00
o Stanstead, Shefford, & Chambly.........
p Peterboro' and Chemung Lake.........

Table continued ...

Deductions from Returns.
RailwayEarnings per mile per week.Expenses per mile per week.Pr centage of expens's to earn's.Total miles run exclusive of piloting, shunting, &c.

Table continued ...

No. of carriages.
RailwayTotal persons employed on Line.No. of locomotives.Passenger.Freight.
oLeased by the Montreal & Champ.
pWork'd by Cobourg & Peterboro'.

The improvement in the gross receipts of the first three roads since 1860, is as follows:

Gross earnings.Earnings per mile.Gross earnings.Earnings per mile.
Great Western$2,266,684$6,570$2,686,060$7,786
Grand Trunk3,517,8293,2263,975,0713,647


Canada had scarcely completed her magnificent system of canals when the rapid extension of the American railways, projected in all directions over the great grain region lying between the Mississippi, the Ohio, and the lakes, warned her that a new and formidable rival had appeared; and that further and greater exertions would be required—not merely to enable her to continue a competitor for western trade with the whole Union, but to maintain her own proper status in comparison with the individual commonwealths of the North. Stretching for nearly one thousand miles along the frontier of a nation ten times more numerous—herself the chief representative on this continent of the first empire in the world—this province has had imposed upon her duties and temptations, far greater in proportion than those of the most important of the associated States commercially opposed to her. Without a perennial seaport, and with her early trade restricted by imperial navigation-laws and custom regulations, she had no foreign commerce accumulating capital; and wanting this commerce and this capital, and confined to her own market, as well as discouraged by the traditionary colonial policy of the mother country, besides being always overstocked with the products of cheaper labor and capital, she could have no manufactures, and consequently no capital for investment in railways. Moreover, she did not possess that trade and travel which could make railways profitable, and thus invite external aid. But, noblesse oblige—the force of position made railways a necessity, if their construction could in any legitimate way be brought about; the more so, because it would have been impossible without them to have kept at home her most valuable population—the young, vigorous, and ambitious natives, "to the manner born," while in sight of a people speaking the same language, and having abundant facilities for developing an almost unbounded fertility, open to all comers.

When Montreal, therefore, was arrested half-way in her single-handed attempt to push a railway to Portland, and even the Great Western, which had been years under contract, could not move, the legislature, on the 30th of May, 1849, passed an act by which the province guaranteed (as a loan) the interest only, on the sum required to complete any railroad of seventy-five miles or more in length, of which one-half had been already made by the proprietors.[11] This act, which was of material service to the Portland and Great Western railways in their preliminary stages, was insufficient, and did not produce any commencement of the intermediate sections of the Trunk line between Montreal and Hamilton. In 1851 a bill was passed, providing for the construction of a main trunk line, and restricting provincial aid to the same. This act of 1851 looked to possible aid from the imperial government, in the form of a guaranteed loan—an offer having previously been made by Earl Grey to assist the colonies in that manner, to the extent required to construct a military line between Halifax and Quebec. A proposition was to be made to extend this boon to the continuation between Quebec and Hamilton, in order that Canada as well as the lower colonies might be traversed by the road built with Imperial aid; and in this event the trunk line was to be undertaken by the province as a public work—or so much of it as the Imperial guarantee might be obtained for. The bill provided, in the second place, that if this guarantee were not obtained, the province would undertake the work on her own credit, provided the municipalities would bear half the expense; and as a last resource, if both these plans failed, the local companies, which had been formed on the strength of the guarantee to attempt the different sections, were to be allowed to try their hand. This bill also extended the provincial guarantee to the principal as well as the interest on one-half the cost, and to this extent substituted provincial debentures for railway bonds, while it allowed the aid to be issued when companies had expended half of the cost, including land, instead of completing half the length of their lines.

The imperial government having declined to aid the particular route demanded by the colonists, no attempt was made by the Canadian envoy to carry out the second plan of the bill of 1850—that is, to construct the Grand Trunk as a public work, in connection with the municipalities.

This change of programme was in consequence of propositions made to him while in London by English contractors of great wealth and influence.[12] It may be said in defence of this step, that the municipalities were not, like the province, irrevocably committed; that uncertainty existed as to the co-operation of some of them, and that, in any event, time would be required fully to embark them in the scheme. On the other hand, it was charged that the Canadian envoy broke off negotiations with the imperial government at the instigation of the contractors—who had already been at the colonial office in the position of competitors with the colonies for the privilege of controlling an expenditure of such magnitude, to be guaranteed by the British treasury. It was also believed that a powerful though indirect influence, wielded by these contractors, materially contributed to the adverse position assumed by the new colonial minister on a question to which the imperial government had, by his predecessor, been so far committed. The course of the Canadian envoy can only be defended on the assumption that a refusal was inevitable, and that a proper appreciation of his position led him to anticipate it. No more unfavorable impression would probably have remained, had not his name subsequently appeared as the proposed recipient of a douceur from the contractors, in the shape of £50,000 of paid-up stock in the capital of the company, which, however, he repudiated when it was announced.

Previous to 1851, Canadian securities had no status of their own in England, the canal loans having been negotiated under an imperial guarantee. When provincial bonds had no regular quotations, it is not surprising (however much so it may now appear), that as late as 1851, the bonds of the city of Montreal were sold in London at thirty per cent. discount. At the great exhibition of 1851, Canada made her début so favorably, that the keen frequenters of 'Change Alley consented to chaperon the interesting stranger—confident that a good thing could be made out of so virgin a reputation—especially after the imperial government had a second time proposed to indorse for her.

No machinery could be better devised for launching a doubtful project, such as was the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, viewed as a commercial undertaking, than that possessed by the colossal railway contractors, the modern and unique results of the railway era. Extensive operations, involving purchases of land from the nobility and gentry, and weekly payments of wages to the middle and lower classes, over hundreds of miles of country; large orders to iron masters, wood merchants, and engine and carriage builders, in all parts of the kingdom; with banking transactions, and sales of securities of the heaviest description in the capital itself, gather round the eminent contractors a host of dependents and expectants, in and out of Parliament, by a skilful, and, it is to be feared, sometimes unscrupulous use of whom, fortunes are made, and appointments, and titles even conferred. It does not follow that all, or even the majority of those who are thus made use of, are in any degree culpable. Setting aside the effect of pressure from constituents, many an honest man is moved by an unseen lever; and none know better than railway practitioners the value of a man qui facit per alium where he cannot per se.

Although some opposition was experienced from the promoters of the local Canadian companies—who had borne the burden of the project hitherto, and now saw another about to reap its benefits; and from the few who clearly foresaw the cruel injury which would be inflicted on the innocent, and the consequent responsibility of Canada, there was little difficulty in reconciling the provincial legislature and the municipalities to the abandonment of the joint provincial and municipal plan of constructing the road. The latter were shown that they could now devote their means to local improvements; and to those required members of the legislature who failed at once to perceive the great advantages to the country at large attendant upon the importation of so much English capital, the question was brought home individually in such a way that all scruples were removed. To prepare the scheme for the larger appetite of the London market, its proportions were extended from the 500 miles between Quebec and Hamilton, to upwards of 1000 miles, extending from Lake Huron to the Atlantic; although provision had already been made for the former by the Great Western, and for the latter by the New York and Boston lines approaching Montreal. Amalgamations with existing lines in Canada, and the lease of a foreign one, were made upon the most reckless and extravagant terms; and lastly, having whipped in the requisite financial indorsation in London, the scheme was successfully launched by the contractors most opportunely, just before the Crimean war. As the prospectus showed a probable dividend of eleven and a half per cent., the stock rose to a premium! For this premium a discount was substituted, as soon as exertion was slackened by success, which rapidly increased on the breaking out of the war, and became hopelessly confirmed as soon as the London, Liverpool, Manchester, and Glasgow merchants read the postscripts of their Canadian mercantile correspondents; nor could any subsequent effort of the company, with the aid of all the great names now fairly harnessed in, drag the unwieldy vehicle out of the slough into which, apparently by its own dead weight, it so rapidly sank. This sudden depression, before any trial of the scheme had been made, was the natural result of that reflection which ought to have preceded its reception; and is important in itself, as proving that the English shareholders were either self-deceived or deceived by their own countrymen, the promoters in London, rather than by any importance which they attached to the action of Canada; because no practical demonstration was waited for to prove the real value of the stock. The fact that they did not wait for this, proves by their own act that they were not warranted in believing the prospectus, although they have since founded a claim against Canada upon the faith they put in it.[13] A little reflection was all that was required to make that preposterous document harmless; and we can hardly be held responsible for their exercise of that reflection a few weeks after, instead of at the time of its publication.

Notwithstanding this early disrepute of the stock, the character of the subscription list and wealth of the contractors carried on the work until 1855, when the company came before the Canadian Parliament "in formâ pauperis." This was repeated in 1856, when for the first time their contracts were submitted to public inspection. A grant of £900,000 sterling was voted in 1855, to enable them to go on; and in 1856 the province, which had hitherto stood in the position of a first mortgagee, to the extent of its advances to the company, gave up this position and went behind the shareholders, in order that the latter might issue preference bonds to fill the vacated space; and because they complained that Canada ought not to exact her rights to their prejudice. The ordinary bondholders,—who, though they ranked after the provincial mortgage, no doubt counted upon similar forbearance when the proper time arrived, and therefore felt themselves virtually first mortgagees,—were effectually floored by this preference coup d'état; nor can one fail to admire that lucky accident, or judicious foresight, which made one dollar of the original provincial aid, practically count as two to the future wants of the company: for the provincial lien could only have been considered as of prospective value by all parties, especially after the company, which had paid the interest upon it out of capital until 1857, formally declared their inability to continue to do so. This was caused not only by want of receipts, but by their having bound themselves to pay greater rents for leased lines than they could earn from them, so that the productive sections could not certainly do more than pay this deficiency, and complete, equip, and maintain the road. When thus virtually making the company a present of over £3,000,000 sterling, the legislature required them to expend £225,000 (or seven and a half per cent. of this amount) upon branch lines connecting with the main Trunk, a stipulation which the company have described as one of the injuries inflicted upon them by the Canadians.

As section after section was opened, and no indications of the eleven and a half per cent. presented themselves, the difficulty was accounted for, first, by the want of western connections, then by the non-completion of the Victoria Bridge, and lastly, the want of rolling stock. The western connections were obtained by promoting a company to construct a line in Michigan, at a cost at least one-third more than was necessary, and then leasing it at eight per cent. upon this extravagant cost, after it had been demonstrated that it could not earn its own working expenses. The only possible explanation of such an extraordinary proceeding, at so late a date in the history of the company, is, that the parties who furnished the money did so in good faith, for the benefit of the whole enterprise, and that the work being situated in a foreign country, and constructed wholly on Grand Trunk account, they were entitled to protection. Also, that as this last and indispensable link was the golden gate through which the treasures of the boundless west were to pour over the Grand Trunk, and produce eleven and a half per cent. dividends, eight per cent. on their outlay was but moderate compensation to the corporate benefactors. The Victoria Bridge was completed, and then the want of rolling stock was the only reason assigned for the want of success; but when it was remembered that, by the Act of 1857, the conditions on which the province surrendered her lien only remain in force while the company "supply the said railway with sufficient plant, rolling stock, and appliances to work the same efficiently," and "so long as they maintain and work the same regularly," it was discovered that no more rolling stock was necessary at present; and at the same time the rumored threats of stopping the road, unless the postal subsidy were increased and capitalized, suddenly ceased altogether. When at last all efforts failed, the conviction forced itself on the hitherto infatuated proprietors, that the anticipated traffic was not to be had upon any Canadian route, except as a water-borne one which this rail way was unable to divert.

A failure so magnificent, complete, and disastrous has naturally led to recriminations; and forgetting the part played by Englishmen in the inception, and their almost exclusive execution and management of the undertaking, its British victims have attempted reclamations on the province, on the ground of the "moral responsibility" incurred in accepting the tempting offers made her. A very large proportion of such claimants are effectually disposed of by the fact that, having acquired their stock at something like one-fifth its cost to the real victims, and other securities at proportionate discounts, long after the fallacy of the prospectus was admitted, they can have had no implied contract with Canada, "moral" or otherwise. If we are bound to compensate, it can only be those who really put faith in us, and gave the first impulse to our railway, and not the bulls and bears of the stock exchange,—perhaps the men who, having deceived and plundered their own countrymen, have bought back the depreciated securities, and now stand in dead men's shoes to intimidate and revile Canadians—every one of whom bears by taxation something more than a moral responsibility on account of the Grand Trunk. Canadians did not originate this scheme, and, left alone, they would have closed the gap in their Trunk line between Montreal and Hamilton without greater cost than they have contributed to the Grand Trunk, and without loss to any but themselves. This section was all that was necessary, in a national point of view, as it would have secured the connection of our chief seaports with the remote west. But a member of the British Parliament, representing the wealthiest firm of contractors in the world, crossed the Atlantic, applied to the Canadian legislature for the necessary powers to bring out the gigantic scheme on the London market, and taught the inexperienced colonists how to take advantage of their position. The governor-general, either to immortalize his administration, or acted upon, however innocently, by those influences in London which control appointments and peerages, publicly implored the legislature not to shut the door in the face of such proffered relief; and prepared an elaborate statistical report, to accompany the prospectus, showing the progress and resources of the colony. It was not possible that a people ignorant of railways could resist such arguments or such temptations; nor is it remarkable that, knowing the marvellous effects of railways elsewhere, they should be unable to discriminate between the profitable and the unprofitable routes, especially when they were assured of success from such experienced and influential sources. Though they had just incurred a debt of millions for canals, which were not directly remunerative, they embarked in railways to a much greater extent, assuming obligations which, could they have foreseen the results, they would not have done, even though English capitalists had offered to invest two dollars to their one.


The Grand Trunk scheme embraces so large a proportion of the railway system of Canada, that its failure deserves investigation, and may be found in the following considerations:

1. We have seen that while private enterprise had taken up as intrinsically valuable, or supposed to be so, the railways leading from Montreal to Portland, Boston, and New York, and from Toronto and Niagara westward—the sections between Quebec and Toronto—the most prominent portions of the Grand Trunk, as prepared for the English market, were, though backed by a provincial guarantee, left by the Canadians until the last, because it was felt that no railway could successfully compete with such a navigation. The English projectors thought otherwise, because their railways had beaten their canals; but no analogy exists in the case of either system in the two countries. Their railways have a different traffic and climate, are better made and cheaper worked, while their canals are but enlarged ditches compared with ours. The original Canadian railway companies were organized on the basis of portage roads working in connection with the navigation, besides forming a through line for general purposes; but the Grand Trunk vainly essayed competition with the water, and disdained all connection with it between Montreal and Lake Huron.

2. While the Canadian envoy in May, 1852, looked only to a line between Montreal and Hamilton, the English scheme provided for an extension of both ends of a central line, itself never regarded as a promising one—the extensions, as a whole, being still more unpromising intrinsically than the centre; evidently counting upon a through traffic which should be more valuable than the local one. The weak point in the scheme was, that these extensions connected points already connected by better routes, and between which no regular traffic existed, or was likely to arise. The Canadian railway route between Detroit and Boston, as compared with that via Albany, was an attempt to travel the arc of a circle (and a more arctic one at that) in competition with its chord. The scheme did not possess the elements of success, either as a whole or in its parts; the failure was, therefore, inevitable, and in proportion to the extension. The following statements which show the receipts and exports by sea, via the St. Lawrence, and the Grand Trunk Railway respectively, prove the hopelessness of the contest between the rail and the river; and the insignificance of the winter operations of the former, via Portland and Boston, in diverting exports from the latter:


By water.By G. T.
Total. Pr cent.
by G.T.R.
Grain, bus.11,367,710802,12812,169,8386.59
Flour, blls.772,381402,2211,174,60234.25


By River
St. Lawrence
By G. T. R'lw'y
via Portland
& Boston.
Total.Percent. by
G.T. Railway.
Grain, bus.9,015,374478,5959,493,9695.3
Flour, blls.597,47766,123663,6009.96

3. The enterprise, unpromising as it always was to competent and disinterested observers, was loaded down with improvident leases of foreign lines. The Portland railway was leased at six per cent. upon its cost, and required the expenditure of over a million and a half of dollars to make it workable; yet with all the advantages of the Victoria Bridge and western connections, the company have not been able to earn more than two-thirds of the rent they agreed to pay. Nothing but the greatest infatuation could have led to the belief that such a road, with its heavy grades and curves, and a scanty local traffic, could, amid winter snows, do a through business, to warrant the price paid for it. The lease of the Michigan line we have already noticed: this was so much the worse, in that the company have not only been unable to earn any portion of the eight per cent. rent, but have lost money in working it.

4. The purchase of the St. Lawrence and Atlantic line at cost, though the stock had been sold at fifty per cent. discount, was made on the assumption that it was complete as far as it went; but, like the Portland end of the same line, another million of dollars or more was required to put it in efficient order. Besides this unexpected outlay on the existing road between Montreal and Portland, about six millions of dollars were subsequently required, to make up deficiencies in the contract provision for those portions of the line constructed under the company's own auspices. Whatever allowance may be made for heated imaginations, when estimating the prospective business of the road, and deluding themselves with the notion that it would, as a whole, earn dividends of eleven and a half per cent., when none of its parts had previously been considered as practicable without subsidies, the railway men of the prospectus must have known that this could not be done with three-per-cent. of sidings, and the limited number of locomotives and carriages provided by the contracts; and that the working expenses could not be kept down to forty per cent. of all the receipts which could be earned by such an equipment. The prospectus assured subscribers that the cost of the railway was defined by contracts, whereby "any apprehension of the capital being found insufficient is removed," and which "secured a first-class railway, including sidings, ample rolling stock, and every requisite essential to its perfect completion;" and that, "for the capital stated, the proprietors are assured of a railway fully equipped and complete in every respect, and free from any further charges whatever!" The capital estimated by the prospectus was $47,500,000; the company, in 1860, showed a balance sheet of $70,000,000; of this amount, about $56,000,000 is charged to capital account as the "cost of construction," the remainder is interest, rent, loss in working, &c., although eighty-five miles of the original road have not been constructed: and after expending millions in supplying omissions in the contracts and estimates, the working expenses instead of forty, have exceeded eighty per cent. of the gross receipts.

5. Not only did the contracts fail to provide "every essential to the perfect completion of the road," but the provisions they did contain were either not enforced or so loosely complied with, that the efficiency of the road has been impaired, its working expenses increased, and all the available resources of the company have been required to supply deficiencies, and to repair damages consequent upon this state of things. The bad quality of rails east of Toronto, with the deficiency of ballast and sleepers under them, have led to a destruction of rolling stock and property (fortunately hitherto unaccompanied by loss of life) which is unprecedented in the history of railways. No doubt the force of circumstances, in a great measure, compelled the company to accept a road very much inferior to that originally intended. The English contractors had agreed to take two-thirds of their pay in stock and bonds, and when these became depreciated by the discredit of the company, they were in for a loss in discounts, which was largely increased by the inexperience of some of their agents, who, conducting large expenditures in a country new to them, and having it in their power to place the company in default and suspend the work, were masters of the situation, and naturally desirous, while carrying through their enterprise, to diminish their loss as much as possible.

The system under which the road was constructed was a vicious and illegitimate one, the order of things being reversed from that in well-regulated corporate enterprises. The only way in which an honest and efficient construction of any railway can be guaranteed, is that where bona-fide shareholders elect their directors, who appoint the engineer and solicitors, and invite competition before the contract is given out. Thus those who expect to become the owners of the property have some control over its formation. But in the case of the Grand Trunk, the contractors assumed the risk of floating off the shares and bonds in consideration of getting a contract upon their own terms, with a board of directors, and an engineer and solicitor, of their own selection (and deriving their fees and salaries through them), to carry them through those all-important preliminary stages when the future shareholders are irrevocably bound, and in too many cases have their interests sacrificed, to those of the contractor. And here there was the additional evil of a political element. The contractors wielding a gigantic scheme which traversed almost every county in the province, virtually controlled the government and the legislature while the expenditure continued. The only supervision under the contract which would have affected their interests, was that which the government and their majority in the legislature could have insisted on. It was the interest of the company that in level country the road should be raised so as to keep it out of water and snow; that in hilly country it should be carried as high over the valleys and as deep into the hills as was prudent, in order to diminish the gradients and therefore the cost of working; and that the stations should be as near the business centre of the towns as possible, particularly in places on or near the competing navigation. But it was the interest of the contractors to keep the road as near the surface everywhere as the contract permitted, no matter how much it might be smothered in winter and flooded in spring,—how undulating it was, or how frequent and severe the gradients became; and to place the stations where land was cheapest, or, so as to purchase political support thereby, or obtain a speculation in building lots. It is in vain that magnificent tubular bridges and way-stations of stone are pointed to as evidences of superiority, when the very backbone of the railway, the track on which its receipts are to be earned, is defective in location and construction. Better that the stations had been but temporary sheds, and that their cost had been put into the road-bed, for these can be rebuilt at any time; but the latter must lie as it is, with all its imperfections on its head.

It does not rest with the English public to charge upon Canada all the disastrous results of the Grand Trunk. The prospectus was not prepared in the province, nor did any member of her government see it until it was issued. Canada was not a stockholder in the company; but as the indorser for it, not of it, put four of her ministers on a board, composed of eighteen directors, of whom six were in London and twelve in Canada, eight of the latter being really nominees of the English contractors. The Canadians, as novices in railway matters, could not be censured if they even believed all they were told by the promoters of the railway; nor could they be worse than other people if they gave it a trial without believing in it; but there must have been many men, and many editors in London well versed in railways, not only English but American, who thoroughly appreciated the scheme, as one originated and promoted for the money which could be made out of it by men whose mission it is to prey upon their fellows. If these were silent, Englishmen must blame their own watchmen for not warning them; besides, had they sought the real merits of the scheme, they would have found them in the discussions of the Canadian press and Parliament. These were of such a character as to relieve Canada of any "moral responsibility," and contrast favorably with the intelligence or candor of the English press on the same subject. A proposition to attach the contracts to the prospectus was made, but voted down by the contractors' majority in the Canadian legislature. Why, when this was seen, did not the English press call for the contracts when the prospectus appeared, and tell their readers whether the capital would be sufficient, and analyze the scheme from American data? and why did they not show that the contractors could, through their appointment of the company's engineers, solicitors, and directors, give the subscribers any road they pleased, instead of the one described in the prospectus?

Among the minor causes which heightened the failure of the Grand Trunk, and deprived it of much of that sympathy of which it stands so much in need, have been the general extravagance and blundering in its management, and the ridiculous presumption of some of the officials, in a community in which there is so little of a real aristocratic element and so little room for a sham one. In an enterprise of such magnitude, the salaries of its higher officials, no matter how liberal they were, would seem to have little influence on results; and if these results were confined to the mere question of the difference in salaries they would be unimportant, particularly where the incumbents are worth what they cost. But, in the case under notice, the effect of princely salaries to chief officers was to establish a general scale of extravagance, and a delegation of duties and responsibilities, so as to turn the head of the recipients, and involve the company in needless outlays, and losses greater than all the salaries paid upon the line. The railway satrap sent out by the London Board, whose salary is only exceeded by that of the governor-general, naturally considers himself the second person in the province; and, as a consequence, the special commissioner sent out from the same source, with the salary of the President of the United States, to obtain more money from the province under the veil of a postal subsidy, would deem himself the second person on the continent, and therefore assume a position commensurate with his importance, and indulge in threats of destroying the credit of the province. The salary of this commissioner is reported at $25,000, his charge for expenses $12,000, and the cost of his special trains at $6,000, making a total of $43,000 on account of one year. If only half of this be true, it is sufficient to prevent Canadians increasing their own taxes in order to afford the company the means of continuing such extravagance. Men so much better paid than their confrères naturally value themselves much higher; can only be approached through successive doors, or be communicated with through successive deputies, in a diminishing scale, until the man who does the work is reached; and can only travel by special trains or in exclusive carriages, provided with every luxury on an imperial scale, and with equal indifference to detail. Perhaps no circumstance has tended more to make the management unpopular, and the liberality sought for on account of postal subsidy impossible, than this abuse of special trains and carriages by officials of the company intoxicated with the novelty of their position. The bishops, and the judges of assize; the most venerable and respectable inhabitants of the country, as well as tourists of the highest,rank, are content to travel by ordinary trains and in the usual carriages; but the upper servants of the railway company have burned the fuel, worn the rails and rolling-stock, deprived their fellow employés of the needed Sunday's rest, and thrown the whole freight traffic of a single line out of time (thus jeopardizing life and property), in order that they may show their little brief authority. Passengers have been turned out of a sleeping-car in the dead of the night by the breaking of a wheel, and crowded into the only remaining carriage of the train except one, which, though large enough for fifty, was sacred to a few railway magnates whose duty it was—and pleasure it should have been—to treat the ejected passengers as their guests, but who resolutely kept out the vulgar herd. It seems absurd in such nabobs to plead poverty before our legislature, or expect the men whose wives and daughters have been so treated to support their petitions.


The municipalities, relieved from contributing to the Trunk Railway, were thus at liberty to embark in branch lines, and some rushed headlong in, seduced by men who saw how the thing was done in the Grand Trunk. Contractors controlled the board of directors and appointed the engineer; a scamped road, barely practicable for traffic, was made, on which the whole receipts for the present generation must be applied before it can be considered completed. To enable the municipalities to carry out their local improvements, the province virtually indorsed their bonds by exchanging them for others, in which it acted as a broker, undertaking to collect from the borrower and pay over to the lender. The by-laws by which counties, cities, and townships voted their loans or subscriptions to public works, required the approval of the governor in council before they could take the benefit of the Municipal Loan Fund Act. This provision was intended as a check upon extravagance, but the practical effect of it was to place the members from every county and city, seeking to avail themselves of the provisions of the act, at the mercy of the ministry of the day. Those who were most subservient obtained most money, and one village was allowed to borrow three hundred dollars per head for every soul of the population. Of course default was made in the interest on such loans, and one delinquent produced others; the province as indorser in the mean time paying for them, and in the end accepting, in lieu of the dues, an annual assessment of five per cent. Although loans of this doubtful character have been thus compromised, a rigid neutrality has been maintained toward those municipalities which, like Hamilton, embarked in good faith in similarly unfortunate enterprises upon their own unaided credit.

The following tables show that about six and a half millions of dollars have been contributed to railways by the municipalities in Upper and Lower Canada, out of the loan fund. Some three millions or more have been contributed by municipalities which did not borrow from the fund, so that the total investment by these bodies in railways cannot be far from ten millions of dollars.[14]


Municipalities.Population in 1851.Population in 1861.Amount of loan.Arrears of interest due
Dec. 31, 1861.
Town of Port Hope2,4764,161$740,000.00$312,303.31
Township of Hope5,2995,88360,000.0025,862.56
Town of Niagara3,3402,070280,000.00148,974.02
Town of Cobourg3,8714,975500,000.00313,426.61
Village of Chippewa1,1931,09520,000.007,109.71
Township of Bertie2,7373,37940,000.008,873.36
Township of Brantford6,4106,90450,000.002,428.11
Town of Brantford3,8776,251500,000.00186,754.87
Township of Wainfleet1,8412,31620,000.001,446.37
Township of Canboro1,1511,2528,000.00330.80
Counties of Huron and Bruce20,70676,226125,000.00...
Townships of Moulton and Sherbrooke2,3183,05920,000.00...
Village of Paris1,8902,37340,000.00172.23
City of Ottawa7,76014,669200,000.00113,411.37
Town of Prescott2,1562,591100,000.0062,625.53
Town of Woodstock2,1123,353100,000.0047,324.29
Town of St Catharine's4,3686,284100,000.0047,748.27
Township of Woodhouse2,8943,70310,000.0031.04
Township of Norwich5,2396,383200,000.00101,508.96
Township of Ops2,5122,87280,000.0039,897.36
County of Elgin25,41832,05080,000.0035.95
City of London7,03511,555375,400.00155,412.56
Township of Windham2,9004,095100,000.0050,251.66
Town of Simcoe1,4521,858100,000.0052,276.99
Counties of Lanark and Renfrew36,73251,964800,000.00306,189.16
Town of Brockville3,2464,112400,000.00187,432.01
Township of Elizabethtown5,2086,101154,000.0051,794.00
Village of Stratford...2,809100,000.0056,871.79
Town of Goderich1,3293,227100,000.0035,174.92
Town of Barrie1,0072,13412,000.002,564.69
Town of Guelph1,8605,07680,000.0013,400.12
Town of Peterboro2,1913,979100,000.0027,274.12


Municipalities.Population in 1851.Population in 1861.Amount of loan.Arrears of interest due
Dec. 31, 1861.
County of Ottawa22,90327,757$131,600.00$84,740.19
County of Terrebonne26,79119,460[K]94,000.0060,498.17
County of Shefford16,48217,779215,000.0063,340.53
County of Stanstead13,89812,25871,000.0017,581.02
County of Megantic13,83517,8895,840.003,580.57
St. Romuald de Farnham[L]......30,000.0011,423.68
Township of Shefford[L]2,5123,71257,500.0021,895.59
Town of Three Rivers[L]4,8356,058220,000.0053,855.61
Township of Granby[L]2,3923,27130,000.0010,938.37
Township of Bolton[L]1,9362,52613,000.002,834.39
Township of of Stukely Nth[L]} 2,1942,820 {16,000.003,763.29
Township of of Stukely Sth[L] 10,000.002,364.00
Village of Fermont[L]......32,000.006,393.00

Boundaries changed since 1851.

Object of loan not stated; supposed to be for railways.

This flagrant disregard of obligations, by so many municipalities, is not to be ascribed wholly to the inability of some, and the example of such upon others; nor to any proneness to repudiation; for these bodies have made great and successful efforts to keep faith with other creditors, and have only failed in cases where the debt was overwhelming. Little effort was made to pay the loan fund, even during the most prosperous days of the corporations, chiefly because no attempt was made to collect:—the example of the government in conniving at the default being the prime cause of its present magnitude. To press a municipality was to drive it into opposition; and railway corruption had so thoroughly emasculated the leaders of the people, that they had not virtue enough left to do their duty. Moreover, at the time the money was borrowed supporters of the government had industriously sowed the impression that repayment would not be exacted, and this view gained ground after the lien on the Grand Trunk was abandoned. They could not see why the law of 1849, which treated all districts alike, should have been repealed for the benefit of the wealthier localities; and looked upon this move as an abuse of their political power by the majority. To these considerations, as well as to the feeling that the debt is due, in a great measure, by the people in one capacity to themselves in another, and not to individuals or a foreign government—and has moreover been pretty generally distributed over the province—may be traced this otherwise disgraceful exhibit. The dimensions of many of the loans, as compared with the borrowers, go to show that the latter did not expect and were not expected to repay;—nor could many of them have been sanctioned by the popular approval, had they been considered as bonâ fide debts. The manner in which the guarantee has been distributed, as shown in the following table, has likewise tended to foster this feeling.

Great Western.Grand Trunk.Northern.
Total cost of the road to 31st December, 1860$23,000,104.00$55,690,039.92$3,890,778.68
Total amount received from the province in debentures$3,755,555.18$15,142,633.33$2,311,666.67
Total miles built34587295
Mileage entitled to guarantee26768095
Amount received per mile of whole road in debentures$10,800.00$17,365.00$24,333.00
Amount received per mile entitled to guarantee in debentures$14,000.00$22,200.00$24,333.00
Per cent. of cost supplied by the province16.3227.1859.41

The debentures were sold at about twelve and a half per cent. premium, which would increase these amounts one-eighth. The province has abandoned its claim on the last two roads; the Great Western has ceased paying principal or interest,—the former from inability; the latter on the ground that its mail service has not been settled.

The Northern was not a part of the main trunk, but obtained provincial aid because it had been put under contract in view of the guarantee, before the repeal of the law of 1849;—a privilege which the Prescott and Ottawa as well as other companies might have obtained, had they added twenty-five miles or more in any direction to the length of their line (so as to make up the seventy-five miles required to secure them the guarantee), and contracted for the whole.

When the advance to the Grand Trunk was fixed at £3,000 sterling per mile, the railway commissioners established a similar limit for the Northern, or a total of £275,000 sterling, which was more than that company then hoped for from the province. On the twenty-first of June, 1854, after two-thirds of the line had been in operation eight months, the engineer of the company reported that the remaining third was rapidly approaching completion, grading and bridging finished,—ties distributed and iron delivered, and one-half of the track laid;—that he expected to open the whole length in August, when the harbor at Collingwood would be sufficiently advanced to be used; and showed the expenditure, including road, harbor, station and depot services and equipments, to be £698,810 5s. 0d. sterling. He also rendered an account as follows:

Provincial guarantee, £275,000 stg. = currency at 9½ per cent.£334,58368
Received by company, to date284,166134
Balance currency£50,416134

In the same month, the railway commissioners reported that the total amount to complete the works, including the rolling stock, was £716,530, of which the sum of £682,961 5s. 0d. had been expended, and recommended the advance of this balance, subject to the report of one of their own body, who was an engineer. This report was made on the twenty-seventh of September following, and it not only confirmed the advance, but declared that the road—which was so nearly completed, and which had been estimated by the board of which he was a member, three months before, at £716,530—would now cost £1,156,592 7s. 7d. (or $4,626,369.52), the moiety of which, or full amount of guarantee by the provisions of the act, will be £578,296 3s. 9d., of which the company has received (including the sum above recommended) £334,583 4s. 3d. leaving to be ultimately provided by the province the sum of £243,712, 17s. 1d. The company was paid the whole of this extra amount, £200,000 sterling, in debentures (over $1,000,000), within four months after this report was made. It is not often that a railway, or any public work, proves to have cost less than was estimated for it, seven years before, but the Northern is an honorable exception to the rule. The fiscal returns published by the inspector of railways, which are the company's own statements, show that the cost of this road and its equipments, up to the thirty-first of December, 1860, instead of $4,626,369.52, was $3,890,778.68, or $735,590.84 less.

The company has received$2,311,666.67
One-half the cost as returned by them is1,945,389.34
So it would appear they were overpaid$366,277.33

Ottawa, Prescott, Brockville, Cobourg, Peterboro', Port Hope, Niagara, Brantford, St. Catharines, Paris, London, Barrie, Guelph, Stratford, Goderich, and the counties and townships adjoining them, which have not displayed much alacrity in repaying the municipal loan fund, will doubtless claim that the railways which they have interested themselves in should receive some of that consideration which has been so liberally bestowed on the Northern.

The guarantee law of 1849 was very unguarded; so much so that contractors, by tendering at double the value, could make the half contributed by the province pay the whole cash outlay, and could thus afford to take payment in stock and bonds: this has been the result in the case of the Northern Railway. It became necessary, therefore, as we have seen, to restrict it to the main trunk line, and to provide not only for the approval of all contracts by the government, but that the estimates of work done and to be done should be submitted to it—well-meant but ineffectual provisos, as we have also seen. So, also, the manner in which the municipalities voted away their bonds, forced, after some three years' experience, a limitation of the amount for which the province would act as a broker. Some of the wealthier counties, careful of their credit, declined to pay eight per cent. for money, and thus derived no benefit from the municipal loan fund (if benefit it can be considered), while they contribute through the consolidated fund to pay its losses.

During the Grand Trunk era of construction, from 1853 to 1859, the first Canadian age of iron, and of brass—the utmost activity was displayed in running into debt. The great success which attended the early years of the Great Western assisted every other Canadian road, and was doubtless the main instrument in preventing the Grand Trunk from being prematurely abandoned. Whatever loss of prestige or character the province may suffer from the almost universal failure of her railways, as investments, it is clear that in a material sense she has been benefited immensely by the early luck of the Great Western, and by the English infatuation about Grand Trunk; for without these the means for the construction of many miles now in use would not have been raised. The construction of the other lines simultaneously with Grand Trunk was equally opportune, because there would have been little prospect of getting them done after the bankruptcy of that road.


So much recklessness was displayed, in sanctioning by-laws, and in exchanging what were really provincial for municipal debentures, as to give color to the charge that contractors were not the only ones personally interested in these issues. The years 1852 to 1857 will ever be remembered as those of financial plenty, and the saturnalia of nearly all classes connected with railways. Before the invasion of the province at the east by a deputation from the most experienced railway men of England, bringing with them all the knowledge and appliances of that conservative country, it had been penetrated on the west by some contractors from the United States, bred in that school of politics and public works which brought New York to a dead stand and Pennsylvania to the goal of repudiation. These "practical men" had built State canals with senators and even governors as silent partners, and were versed in all the resources peculiar to a democratic community. The convergence of these two systems on the poor but virgin soil of Canada, brought about an education of the people and their representatives more rapid than the most sanguine among them could have hoped for. One bold operator organized a system which virtually made him ruler of the province for several years. In person or by agents he kept "open house," where the choicest brands of champagne and cigars were free to all the peoples' representatives, from the town councillor to the cabinet minister; and it was the boast of one of these agents that when the speaker's bell rang for a division, more M. P. P.s were to be found in his apartments than in the library or any other single resort! By extensive operations he held the prosperity of so many places, as well as the success of so many schemes and individuals in his grasp, that he exercised a quasi legitimate influence over many who could not be directly seduced; or made friends of those he could not otherwise approach, by liberal purchases of their property, and thus, insensibly to them, involved their interests with his own. So be ruled boards of directors—suggesting, as the officers who should supervise his work, creatures of his own—and thus the companies found themselves, on settlement-day, committed by the acts of their own servants. Companies about to build a railway, and depending on the municipal loan fund, were led to believe that, if he were the contractor, there would be no difficulty in obtaining the government sanction of the by-laws to any extent, and therefore the exchange of bonds; or, if their charter were opposed, the great contractor only could set it all right. A few anecdotes will illustrate the impartiality of his levies.

An English contractor was, without competition, about to pounce quietly upon the contract for the Toronto and Hamilton Railway, when his American "brother" demanded and received a royalty of £10,000 sterling, before he would allow a corporation to be so imposed upon: he was, however, subsequently obliged to disgorge this black mail, when seeking the co-operation of the same contractor in England for the celebrated but abortive Southern Railway scheme. The English contractors for Grand Trunk also were compelled, before they could risk the ordeal of the legislature, to promise the ever-present and never-to-be-avoided American one-third interest in their contract. This, considering the kind of payments and their prospective losses, the latter took the earliest opportunity to compromise for the consideration of £12,000 sterling.

The Toronto Northern road was let to a company of American contractors at a price per mile, payment being made chiefly in the company's stock and bonds, and the government guarantee debentures. It was necessary, in order to secure any portion of this latter item, that one-half of the work upon seventy-five miles should first be completed by the contractors. Having exhausted their means in reaching, as they hoped, this position, the contractors, through the company, called on the government for the advance; but, upon an inspection by the government engineer, the road was found to have been so "scamped," under the American engineer (who subsequently openly became a partner with the contractors), that the commissioner of public works refused to recommend the issue of the provincial bonds. Here was a fix! But the contractors sent for their American brother, who, for a brokerage of $100,000 of the first mortgage bonds of the company, undertook to obtain the guarantee. He went to his colleague in the government; the commissioner of public works was shunted out of office on a suddenly raised issue (which immediately thereafter was dropped), and just one week afterward the guarantee bonds were forthcoming. In connection with this incident, it is worthy of remark, that a member of the government shortly afterward paid away nearly £10,000 of the first mortgage bonds of the same company in the purchase of real estate.

The Great Western Railway, finding their traffic on the first opening of the road to exceed their expectations, sought, among other legislation, the power to lay a double track from Hamilton to London, and on applying to the government to promote their bill—instead of meeting with that encouragement which the proposal to expend so much additional English capital led them to expect—they were gravely assured that the government was powerless to give them their bill, in consequence of the influence of the enterprising Pennsylvanian in the house. The contractor's price for permitting the bill to pass was—the contract for the work to be done; and to this the company, seeing no escape, consented conditionally; that is, if the work were undertaken during the ensuing five years. Fortunately for them, before a commencement could be made, the double track was found to be unnecessary. Among other favors obtained by the legislation thus bartered for, was the power to disregard that provision of the railway act which requires trains to stop before crossing the drawbridge over the Desjardin's Canal. In less than two years thereafter, a train which did not stop plunged through this very bridge, and among the first recovered of the sixty victims to that "accident," was the dead body of the great contractor himself.

Lest it should be considered that there is any thing peculiar to Canada in these transactions, it may be mentioned that about the same period a Congressman was convicted at Washington of voting for a "consideration," and was expelled from the House of Representatives. This man was declared to be the spokesman of a band, irreverently styled "the forty thieves," by whom he was authorized to negotiate for their votes with the highest bidder. The canal frauds of New York and Pennsylvania are matters of history. Venality and corruption in high places, mainly engendered in the contracts and expenditure for public works, have done, perhaps, as much as slavery, and that territorial covetousness which amounted to idolatry in the Union, to bring down the vengeance of Heaven upon our unhappy neighbors. Nor is this, what may be called, railway morality peculiar to this side of the Atlantic. The following extracts from Smiles' Life of George Stephenson reveal a similar history in English railways:—

"Folly and knavery were, for a time, completely in the ascendant. The sharpers of society were let loose, and jobbers and schemers became more and more plentiful. They threw out railway schemes as mere lures to catch the unwary. They fed the mania with a constant succession of new projects. The railway papers became loaded with their advertisements. The post-office was scarcely able to distribute the multitude of prospectuses and circulars which they issued. For a time their popularity was immense. They rose like froth into the upper height of society, and the flunky Fitz Plushe, by virtue of his supposed wealth, sat among peers and was idolized. Then was the harvest-time for scheming lawyers, parliamentary agents, engineers, surveyors, and traffic-takers, who were alike ready to take up any railway scheme, however desperate, and to prove any amount of traffic even where none existed. The traffic in the credulity of their dupes was, however, the great fact that mainly concerned them, and of the profitable character of which there could be no doubt. Many of them saw well enough the crash that was coming, and diligently made use of the madness while it served their turn.

"The projectors of new lines even came to boast of their parliamentary strength, and of the number of votes which they could command in the 'House.'

"Amongst the many ill effects of the mania, one of the worst was that it introduced a low tone of morality into railway transactions. Those who had suddenly gained large sums of money without labor, and also without honor, were too ready to enter upon courses of the wildest extravagance; and a false style of living shortly arose, the poisonous influence of which extended through all classes. Men began to look upon railways as instruments to job with; and they soon became as overrun with jobbers as London charities. Persons, sometimes possessing information respecting railways, but more frequently possessing none, got upon boards for the purpose of promoting their individual objects, often in a very unscrupulous manner; landowners, to promote branch lines through their property; speculators in shares, to trade upon the exclusive information which they obtained; whilst some directors were appointed through the influence mainly of solicitors, contractors, or engineers, who used them as tools to serve their own ends. In this way the unfortunate proprietors were, in many cases, betrayed, and their property was shamefully squandered, to the further discredit of the railway system.

"Among the characters brought prominently into notice by the mania was the railway navvy. The navvy was now a great man. He had grown rich, was a landowner, a railway shareholder, sometimes even a member of Parliament; but he was a navvy still. The navvy contractor was greatly given to 'scamping.' He was up to all sorts of disreputable tricks of the trade; but he was greatest of all, perhaps, in the 'scamping' of ballast. The consequences were such as might have been anticipated. More bad and dishonest work was executed on the railways constructed in any single year subsequent to the mania, than was found on all the Stephenson lines during the preceding twenty years.

"The navvy's great object was to execute the work so that it should pass muster and be well paid for. The contractor in such cases was generally a large capitalist; a man looked up to even by the chief engineer himself. But the worst feature of this system was, that the principal engineer himself was occasionally interested as a partner, and shared in the profits of the contract. In passing the contractor's work he was virtually passing his own; and in certifying the monthly pay-bills, he was a party to paying himself. What security was there, under such a system, for either honest work or honest accounts? The consequence was, that a great deal of slop-work was thus executed, the results of which, to some extent, have already appeared in the falling in of tunnels, and the premature decay and failure of viaducts and bridges."

Canadians, indeed, have had cause to blush at the spectacle of men filling the highest offices in their province, with a seat at the council-board of their sovereign, accepting fees and favors from contractors and officials of a railway company (between whom and them there should have been a gulf as wide as that which separates the judges of assize from the suitors before them), and laying the honor of their country in the dust, often at the feet of boorish and uneducated men, whose only recommendations were—the material one of ill-gotten wealth, and the immoral one of unscrupulousness in the use of it. May they never again see a member of their government wending his way to the wharf, after a matinée of champagne, supported by contractors and their suite, and departing amid the tipsy cheers of his associates;—or have to complain that ministers of the crown again have made men seeking favors from it their most intimate companions, their hosts and guests, their patrons and their protégés.

The evil effects of the past ascendancy of railway influence is visible in the disregard paid by many of the companies to the law of the land. Every company chartered after the passing of the Railway Act of 30th August, 1851, is required to show a printed tariff in every passenger-car, and to submit all by-laws changing this tariff for the approval of the governor in council, and to publish the by-law and the order in council approving the same at least twice in the Canada Gazette before putting the same into operation; also to file in the registry office of each county traversed by the railway, a map and profile of the portion within that county; and one of the whole railway, in the office of the commissioner of public works; and to submit annually to the legislature classified statements of the passengers and goods transported by them. These provisions should either be enforced, or expunged from the Statute-Book; for nothing can be more demoralizing in its example than long-continued disobedience by such conspicuous law-breakers. An unnecessary tenderness has also been displayed toward companies which are exempt by the date of their charter from the wholesome provisions of the Railway Act. Almost all the early charters contain a clause declaring that subsequent enactments by the legislature in the public interest shall not be considered a breach of the privileges granted; and therefore those railways which, like the Great Western, do not exhibit notice-boards at level crossings, and do not remove timber which may fall across the track, should be required to do so as much as those chartered a few years later. The number of level crossings (at every one of which, sooner or later, loss of life may be counted on) has been reduced on the Great Western by the fact, that the contractors were paid in proportion to the work done, and not by the mile, and because frequent crossings of this description would increase the danger to the trains, with the high speed aimed at in the location of that work. On other roads, where the contractor's interest was supreme, or where the companies were very poor, these crossings are more numerous, as being the least expensive.


This important road, second to the Grand Trunk only in its length, was first chartered sixteen years before it was commenced. The fine agricultural district between London and Woodstock is nearly equidistant from the three lakes, Huron, Erie, and Ontario; and as produce afloat on the latter is most valuable, being nearer its market, the original road of 1834 was one commencing at London and terminating on Burlington Bay; though power was also obtained to extend westward to the navigable waters of the Thames and to Lake Huron. Before the work was commenced, however, in 1850, the New York railways had reached the Niagara frontier, and the Michigan Central road connected Detroit with Chicago. The Great Western thereupon changed its character from that of a Canadian local and portage railway only, debouching on Lake Ontario (which was but a reproduction in iron of Governor Simcoe's road of the last century), to that also of an important section of the main line leading from Boston and Albany to Chicago, the shortest route for which is through the peninsula of Western Canada. The eastern terminus was therefore extended to Niagara, where a magnificent suspension bridge, worthy of the site, united it to the New York roads; and the western one was diverted from Lake Huron to Detroit, where a short ferry maintains uninterrupted communication throughout the year.

The estimate was made in 1847, by an American engineer, and was (exclusive of the Galt branch) only $4,954,080, which, however, did not include the important items of right of way and land damages or rolling stock. The following exhibit shows the expenditure of the company, and how it is made up, with the excess in the cost of the main line over the original estimate of 1847:

Cost of main line and Galt Branch (with sidings fifty miles) sterling£3,651,524197
Cost of Sarnia Branch467,63622
Cost of Galt and Guelph line76,18375
Cost of Hamilton and Toronto line394,456103
Cost of Steamboats Detroit Ferry39,3321210
Cost of Steamboats Canada and America48,82056
Detroit and Milwaukee Loan250,00000
Total Expenditure in sterling£4,927,9531710
Cost of main line and Galt Branch (not separated)£3,651,524197
Stuart's estimate, 1847£990,81600   
Cost of Galt Branch (estimated)60,00000   
Cost of Galt Right of way (estimated)188,37100   
Cost of Galt Rolling stock (estimated)645,774001,884,96100
Excess of exp. on main line over original estimate£1,766,563197

This increased cost of track and buildings only, on the main line amounting to nearly $9,000,000, makes this part of the work cost nearly three times the original estimate, and is due to several causes:

1st. It appears that millions of dollars were expended on these items after the line was opened for traffic. Until February, 1852, the expenditure was confined to the Central Division, between London and Hamilton (the original Great Western of 1834), and it was only then the company felt itself in a position to strike out for the larger scheme of the through line. Notwithstanding this tardy action, it was expected that the whole line would be opened in August, 1853. In November, 1852, there was a change of engineers, when it was found that the estimates of the previous June would be exceeded by £621,295 currency, and the new engineer protested against any attempt to open, in 1853, a line on which not a mile of track had been laid before the month of May in that year. Notwithstanding this opinion, so great was the pressure to bring about an opening at the earliest moment, that large sums were offered the contractors if they succeeded in passing a train by November 1st, 1853. One of the contractors, by laying the track in unfinished cuttings, at elevations varying from five to twelve feet above the permanent grade, succeeded in passing a train on the 10th of November, for which performance he received a bonus of $50,000. The whole line was opened in January, 1854, but on the 1st of August of that year the engineer showed work yet to be done to the amount of $1,436,435. Of course the unfinished cuttings had to be lowered between the transits of trains; the ballasting was chiefly done under a similar disadvantage, and thus much of the work cost many times more than it could have been done for in the ordinary way. In this course the company exceeded the usual practice of American roads, where, for want of capital, the object is to expend only so much as is necessary to open a line, in order that the company may cease paying interest out of capital—have the means of paying the interest on further loans, and get these loans on better terms. It does not appear that the pressure for such premature opening arose from great difficulty in raising the amount required to cover the deficiency of original estimates, or that the earnings of the road were needed to meet the interest account. The company, which had then only received £200,000 sterling from the province, could have claimed millions of dollars as a six per cent. loan on account of the guarantee.

2d. The traveller, in riding over a perishable wooden bridge, nearly a quarter of a mile long and fifty feet high, which traverses an inlet near the shore of Ontario, sees the termination of it only a few rods from the line, where a better and cheaper crossing could have been obtained, and naturally wonders why the road was not placed there. At the western end he remarks that the track for miles runs in the water, with dry land everywhere parallel to the line and but a few yards from it, and is again nonplussed. The engineer who located the road had a weakness for straight lines; and from the manner in which the work was driven, it is probable that sufficient time was not given to amend the location of these long straight lines. Rather than sacrifice them, therefore, if a wide gulf or miles of water intervened, it was plunged into; or if a house stood in the line it must be removed, and the owner indemnified, coûte que coûte. Of course, the preliminary surveys in 1847 did not provide for such freaks of the location one, which was made some years afterward, and thus increased cost rolled up. An enormous amount has been expended in the location through Hamilton, and the 500 feet ascent westward from Lake Ontario (which is continuous for eleven miles), where the road first worked itself, in the course of years, into a quiet bed through many fathoms of mud and ooze; then clings to the face of cliffs, or the rapid slopes formed by the shedding of their exposed faces; and, lastly, at the summit encounters a quicksand, at the bottom of deep and extensive cuttings. This location, which must have greatly increased the cost, was rather in the interest of the contractors than of the shareholders, and does not appear to have been contemplated in the original estimate of 1847. The contracts, some of which had been entered into four years before work was commenced, were item ones, and if at all profitable, this would be in proportion to the amount of work done. There is much reason to believe that alterations and additions to the plans, and also extra works, were ordered without the sanction or knowledge of the directors, more for the chief contractor's benefit than for that of the work; and to such an extent was this carried, that this road was styled his "milch cow," to be drawn upon at will.

In England capitalists object to item contracts because, under these, the final cost is not fixed; and, therefore, in preparing the Grand Trunk for that market, a price per mile was agreed upon; which, as we have seen, did not save that company from the necessity of adding many millions of dollars to its capital. The difference between an item contract and a per mile one, as usually carried out on this side of the water, is this. In the former there is always the temptation, by increasing the quantity and altering the quality of the work, to make a first-class road: in the latter it is just the reverse; every thing which is not in the bond (and sometimes much that is) is omitted. As to the two systems, it is but Scylla or Charybdis to a railway company, in the hands of dishonest men; and, like forms of government,

"Whate'er is best administered is best."

The original estimate was, no doubt, most insufficient in many respects—but there is very little reason to doubt that the greater part of the excess of £1,766,564 sterling, is due to the causes we have mentioned.

This company was induced, by the example of American lines terminating on Lake Erie, to embark in the steamboat business; a disastrous experiment, as it has proved even on Lake Erie, where its chances were always best. Before so many through railway lines were established between the East and the West, passenger-steamers could be patronized; but the division of the business, and the dread of sea-sickness, no longer make it practicable to sustain such expensive boats as those floating-palaces, once the pride of the lakes. A much more serious undertaking into which the company has been led, was the subsidizing of the Detroit and Milwaukee railway. Whether this was a legitimate attempt to protect itself from the encroachments of the Grand Trunk, and to be able to avoid its proffered embraces, or whether (as is too often the case) the company was forced into it by controlling spirits, who had speculated in the securities of the subsidized road, and used their temporary power to give value to their major interest at the expense of a minor one, cannot yet be determined. Railway companies will always be exposed to such hazards, so long as their directors are permitted to hold a greater interest in any other company.

The Great Western is one of the best equipped and best managed railways on this continent, and traversing a rich and populous district, to which it offers a choice of market, will always have the best local as well as the best through business of any Canadian railway.


While the Great Western was busily engaged in watching the proposed invasion of their territory on the north, by the Toronto and Guelph road and its extensions, they were assailed in the rear, and startled by the announcement that a company was formed, and had secured "vested rights," for a railway between Buffalo and Brantford. The general act, authorizing the formation of road Companies, had been amended in 1850, so as to extend to railways—a provision which, it appears, had escaped the notice of many railway companies. This virtually gave us the New York system of a General Railroad Law, under which any company may make a railway anywhere, by complying with certain conditions. This democratic measure is the horror of all orthodox existing companies; but while, in New York, the impossibility of getting capitalists to invest in competing lines has been ample protection, conservative legislation in Canada has entirely failed to produce the same result. The people of New York passed their General Railroad Law not only as a measure of justice to all districts, and a protection against monopolies, but chiefly in order to extinguish that corrupt trading in charters which has obtained in Canada, and which induced the legislature to repeal our General Railroad Law, immediately after the Buffalo and Brantford Company had been organized under it—saving those rights, of course. The mischief having been done in 1851, the Brantford Company, in 1852, was allowed to produce its line to Goderich, on Lake Huron.

This road originated in a desire, on the part of the populous city of Buffalo, to render tributary to herself the rich peninsula of Canada West; and also to divert the stream of eastern and western travel and freight away from the suspension-bridge route to her own hotels and stations. If the Great Western had not committed the mistake of giving Brantford the go-by, it is extremely doubtful whether Buffalo could have organized a Canadian interest strong enough to have carried out this measure. This road, which has an admirable track, and is splendidly equipped in stations and rolling stock, deserves a better traffic. Virtually connecting Lake Huron with Lake Erie, it can have, on this route, no through traffic—because this could only be supplied during the season of navigation, when there is slack water of unlimited capacity between its termini, with which it is impossible it can compete. Its local traffic, also, may be limited to that between way stations, since its principal terminus is in a foreign country, and liable to exclusion from Canadian traffic by international trade regulations and currency distinctions. The great want of this road is a terminus on Lake Ontario, in which case it would become available for the grain traffic from Chicago and Milwaukee, or Cleveland and Toledo, to Oswego, Ogdensburgh, New York, or Montreal. Now that the Grand Trunk is hors du combat, and better counsels prevail, the railways of the western peninsula will see that their great aim should be to build up the shipping interest on Lake Ontario. This lake is open by water communication both to New York and Montreal, and by the aid of water communication alone can our railways hope to deliver that back freight at their termini on Lakes Erie and Huron, which will induce vessels to bring grain to them instead of taking it on to Buffalo, where return cargoes always await them.

This railway has a value in its power of mischief, for it furnishes, in connection with the Grand Trunk, via Stratford and Sarnia, an opposition to the Great Western; and as it has at present no legitimate orbit, it may become merged in one of these larger bodies. The Grand Trunk, which has so long unsuccessfully wooed the Great Western, might hope to have in this an engine of coercion; while the latter may take it up as a means of self-defence, or to prevent the Trunk from establishing one leg on the Niagara frontier. It is, perhaps, superfluous to say, the Brantford road could be happy with either; but the legislature has fortunately been aroused to the danger of these amalgamations, and it is to be hoped we have seen the end of them. From Hamilton to Quebec, railway monopoly is shorn of its power by the water route, but a general amalgamation on the western peninsula would place the people there under a tyranny which could not and would not be endured.


The Niagara peninsula separates the open stretch of inland navigation afforded by Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan, from Lake Ontario (which is 330 feet lower), by a distance of only thirty to forty miles. Although the Welland canal connects these waters by a fixed scale of navigation, it is found that the longer voyage on the upper lakes is most profitable when with a size of vessel too large for this canal; and that the saving in freight on grain from Chicago to this peninsula, in the larger vessel, is more than sufficient to cover the cost of elevating it by steam power and machinery, transporting it across by rail, and discharging it into the vessel on Lake Ontario. Time is saved, so that the wheat reaches the seaboard before the drafts by which it was purchased mature; the grain is improved and prevented from heating by the aeration it receives in passing through the elevators; and, most important of all, every craft afloat on and above Lake Erie is available to carry grain destined for Lake Ontario, instead of the limited number adapted to the locks of the Welland Canal.

The Welland Railway, which runs parallel with the Welland Canal, and thus takes advantage of its harbors, has demonstrated the importance of this traffic, having transferred upwards of eleven millions of bushels of grain from the upper to the lower lake since its opening in June, 1859. Instead of being a competitor with the canal, it has proved an auxiliary to it, as a lighter to grain vessels too deeply laden to pass the canal. Over half a million of bushels were thus "lightered" from one end of the canal to the other in 1862; the total quantity transferred from Lake Erie to Ontario in this year, was 4,111,640 bushels.

This work, originally projected to connect a steamboat route between Port Dalhousie and Toronto with Thorold and the Great Western Railway, unites the two railways which skirt the opposite shores of the peninsula, and the numerous villages created by the water power of the canal, and thus has a self-sustaining local traffic as well as its through business. It has been successfully carried to completion by the same mind and will which produced the Welland Canal, and amid the same general predictions of failure. Following this lead, the Erie and Ontario road, which is now valueless, is to be extended to Lake Erie, and become a grain portage railway, besides forming part of the line between Buffalo and Toronto.

The Buffalo and Lake Huron Company also propose to acquire the half-completed Hamilton and Port Dover Railway, between their line and Burlington Bay. If a connection is made with Lake Erie at Dunville or Port Maitland, another grain portage railway is established for Lake Erie, in addition to their route from Lake Huron. All three of these roads will avoid the expense of harbor protection works, as all have the advantage of terminating in the best natural or artificial harbors to be found on these lakes. The difficulty which all, however, have to contend against, is the securing of a regular supply of tonnage working in connection with them, without which they are helpless, especially while the supply of routes to the seaboard exceeds the demand for them. Iron, from its cleanliness and greater carrying capacity in proportion to beam and draught, would make the best grain craft, but there is not capital here to supply them.

These, together with the larger portage roads, offer an opportunity for a legitimate and extensive increase of British commercial tonnage on the lakes, an object of vital importance in the defence of the province on its weakest side; and in this view, instead of mere private speculations, they become works of national importance.


The proposal to unite the British North American Colonies by a railway was the suggestion of Lord Durham, the imperial commissioner sent out in 1838, to inquire into the Canadian Rebellion.[15] The initiative was taken by a proposition from Nova Scotia to have a survey made, at the joint expense of the three provinces; and this was undertaken under imperial direction, by Major Robinson and Captain Henderson, of the Royal Engineers, in 1846, and completed in 1848. In 1849, the colonies passed acts, guaranteeing to acquire the right of way through private property for this railway, and granting ten miles in width on either side of the road, wherever it traversed the public domain. They also pledged themselves to contribute £20,000 sterling each, per annum, toward making up any deficiencies of revenue. It was proposed to raise the capital on the security of a duty of seven shillings and six-pence per load (fifty cubic feet) to be levied on timber, the produce of the British North American colonies, then enjoying a protection in Great Britain. In May, 1850, Sir John Harvey, Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, made this proposition to Earl Grey, the colonial secretary, who promptly replied that her majesty's government were "not prepared to submit to Parliament any measure for raising the funds necessary for the construction" of this railway. In July, 1850, a convention was held at Portland, Maine, for the purpose of pushing the American railway system eastward, through Maine, to Halifax, as the ultimate port of debarcation of mails and passengers for Europe. Nova Scotia, desirous of making her portion of this railway, like her electric telegraph—a public work—once more appealed (in August, 1850) to Earl Grey, to aid her with the imperial guarantee or indorsation, and offered to assume the whole burden of its cost. This application, with reference to a section of only provincial and not imperial importance, received no encouragement; whereupon the persevering little province, determining to make a final effort, dispatched a delegate, who arrived in England in November, 1850, and immediately opened his batteries on the colonial office, with such effect, that on the 10th of March, 1851, Earl Grey surrendered; agreeing to guarantee the interest on the cost of the Nova Scotia Trunk line; but only on condition that the other colonies, Canada and New Brunswick, should place themselves in the same position. Of course the line was to go to Quebec or Montreal, instead of Portland. It was stipulated that the line should pass wholly through British territory, and should be approved of by the imperial government; but it was not required that it should necessarily be the one recommended by Major Robinson and Captain Henderson.

In announcing this decision to the delegate, the under secretary wrote, that "Her Majesty's Government would by no means object to its forming part of the plan which may be determined on, that it should include a provision for establishing a communication between the projected railway and the railways of the United States." The delegate read this to mean, that the guarantee would be extended to two lines through New Brunswick, the one to Quebec, and the other to Portland; thus connecting the maritime colonies both with Canada and the United States. On March 14th, 1851, dispatches were sent to all the governments, suggesting a conference at Toronto. New Brunswick, which had, in mean time, become excited on the question of the railway to Portland, passed resolutions, before her legislature adjourned, rejecting any proposition based on the conditions laid down by Earl Grey; evidently not feeling certain that the interpretation of the Nova Scotian delegate was to be relied upon. Delegates, however, from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick came to Toronto, in June, 1851, according to the suggestion of Earl Grey, when it was agreed that a line from Halifax to Quebec should be undertaken on joint-account. Crown lands on each side of it were to be conceded for the benefit of the road; the receipts to be common property until payment of cost and interest; after which each province should own the portion within her own territory. The legislature of Canada, then in session, at once adopted this agreement. The government of New Brunswick favorably received it, but in consequence of a change of ministry, no legislative action was then had. At the very time, however, when Nova Scotia was rejoicing over the acceptance, by her legislature, of the imperial offer, a dispatch was on its way out, which upset all that had been done. On the 27th of November, Earl Grey called the attention of the lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia to an error into which he had fallen, in his speech when opening the extra session, by assuming that the imperial government intended to guarantee the amount necessary to construct the Portland line through New Brunswick, as well as that leading to Quebec. Earl Grey explained, that the passage which had led Nova Scotia's delegate astray, only meant that the imperial government would sanction, but not aid, the Southern, or European and North American lines, through New Brunswick—which, he was quite aware, was preferred by that province to the Northern, or Quebec and Halifax line.

The great preponderance of population, wealth, and political influence in New Brunswick, lies upon the Bay of Fundy and the river St. John, while Major Robinson's line ran along the Gulf of St. Lawrence. For this reason, New Brunswick would not contribute to the Halifax and Quebec line, unless she in turn was aided to make the line she preferred; and she saw clearly that the military considerations, set forth in Mr. Hawe's letter of the 10th of March, 1851, would keep the line either on the eastern coast or in the wilderness between it and St. John.

Canada, on receiving the interpretation of the original dispatch, and knowing that New Brunswick would now abandon the Quebec line, sent off three of her ministers to Fredericton to console her distressed sister, and at the same time to feel her pulse. As Earl Grey had not insisted on Major Robinson's eastern-shore line, although reserving the right of approval of the route, New Brunswick assented to "try on" a Halifax and Quebec line which should follow the Southern or European and North American one as far as the city of St. John, and then ascend the valley of that river to Lake Temiscouata. Re-enforced by a delegate from the New Brunswick cabinet, the Canadians journeyed on to Halifax, where they found a new difficulty. Nova Scotia had no idea of standing a third of the cost, if the road should first debouche on the Atlantic Ocean at St. John, instead of at its rival, Halifax. Canada, acting as mediator and umpire, finally proposed that as New Brunswick would decidedly gain by the adoption of the southern instead of the northern route,—getting her connection with Quebec and Portland where she wanted it, and with 100 miles less of her chosen railway to make at her own cost,—she should assume five-twelfths and Nova Scotia one-fourth, Canada taking her old proportion of one third. At this stage the New Brunswick delegate put the question to his Canadian fellow-travellers, whether a proposal from English contractors to construct both roads, on receiving £90,000 to £100,000 per annum for twenty years from the colonies, besides a grant of 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 acres of land, would be entertained? The answer was, "not for a moment;" whereupon New Brunswick, with dignified resignation, agreed to the new subdivision on Jan. 31, 1852. On Feb. 5, one of the Canadian delegates wrote from Halifax to Earl Grey, detailing the scheme as amended, and announcing that delegates from the three provinces would wait on him in London. To this, on Feb. 20, Earl Grey replied, declining to commit himself to the new route without more specific information, but expressing solicitude for a successful issue, and approving of the intended delegation to London. The Canadian delegate proceeded to London in advance of his colleagues, where he found Earl Grey out of office, and Sir John Packington as his successor. Sir John, on May 20, 1852, notified him that as all previous negotiations had been based on Major Robinson's line, or something near it, the route by the valley of the St. John was out of the question; and as the delegates were authorized to treat only for the latter, he must terminate the question by declining, &c. The provinces were thus left to carry out their own railways in their own way; they had, however, gained by the discussion. The mere proposal on the part of the British government to indorse their bonds, raised these in a market where they were not known; and before the adverse decision had been announced it had been anticipated, and Canada had thrown herself into the open arms of Messrs. Jackson, Peto, Brassey, and Betts, the great railway contractors.

Viewing the question as an imperial as well as an inter-colonial one, it is evident that the first blunder committed by the colonies was in agreeing to pay the whole expenses of a railway survey which was to be made solely under imperial and military control. They thereby, at the outset, assented to the position that the imperial government had no substantial interest in the question, and at the same time they failed to ascertain the facilities for other routes, if such exist, than those recommended. Without impugning the ability of the royal engineers who conducted the exploration, there is little doubt that a more satisfactory survey could have been made by civil engineers, accustomed to similar surveys in the forests of this continent; and the want of some reliable knowledge of the practicability of other lines besides that recommended by Major Robinson, has been a stumbling-block in the way of every subsequent movement down to the present hour. It must also be admitted that the mother country drove a hard bargain with her offspring. Her own colonial secretary, Lord Glenelg, suggested the communication to her own high commissioner, Lord Durham, not as a military road solely, but as a political measure. When the colonies took up the idea, the mother country steadily refused all aid except that which, as had been proved to her in the case of Canada, was but nominal; while she exacted for this nominal aid sacrifices from the colonies which were real and important. She would not build the road, nor aid in building it, because it would not pay; and she would not permit the colonies to build it where they believed it would pay, at least, its working expenses. She had already guaranteed a loan for the cost of the canals of Canada, which were constructed wholly on commercial principles, and with the route of which she did not interfere, though military considerations were wholly disregarded in the case of the Beauharnois Canal. She acknowledged an imperial interest to which she attached but a nominal value; she felt for the colonies, but would not feel in her pockets for them.

Ten years have elapsed, and in the interim sections of the proposed Halifax and Quebec, and European and North American Roads have been constructed, the former by Canada and Nova Scotia, the latter by New Brunswick—and again the project is revived, by the renewed assent of the imperial government, to guarantee the funds for the construction of the diminished distance (reduced from 635 to 370 or 470 miles, according to the route to be selected); and as military considerations are now predominant, it is understood the selection of the route will be left to the imperial government.

For the revival of this project we are no doubt indebted to the exigencies of the Grand Trunk Company, aided by the re-establishment of the entente cordiale between the Colonies and the Colonial Office, consequent upon the visit of H. R. H. the Prince of Wales; by the subsequent civil war in the United States, and especially by the Trent affair. The Grand Trunk, at its wit's end to raise more money, and seeing the capitalization of a postal subsidy yet remote, sought to revive the intercolonial project in order to transfer to it as much of the unproductive sections east of Montreal as possible—no doubt at a bargain—and therefore the influential owners of this road brought about another Colonial conference. Some years back the Company, during one of its numerous and successful applications for relief, generously proffered their 118 miles east of Quebec as a gift to the Province (in consideration of the relief granted), to enable her, hereafter, to turn it in as a part of her contribution towards the future Intercolonial Railway. As the Company were then subsidizing contractors to work this section, by paying them a handsome bonus in addition to all the receipts, the gift was not accepted. What it would now be valued at, it is difficult to imagine; but it is evident that the first preliminary toward the intercolonial project should be to establish its future relations with the Grand Trunk, and thus confine the expenditure of the capital to be raised wholly to the new road to be built, eastward of Rivière du Loup.

The provinces will, doubtless, build the road, at their own expense, on whatever route the mother country wishes it built, if solicited to do so by her—the loans being guaranteed, so that the money can be raised on terms not oppressive—because there will then be an implied pledge on the part of the empire, that if built as a military work, it will be used as such whenever occasion may require. In other respects its value to Canada will be more political and commercial than military, because, unless extended, with the same avoidance of the frontier, far beyond Quebec, it will be of little value in the defence of the province at large. Though it might bring men and munitions of war without interruption (except from snow) to Quebec, a fortress which does not require this protection, these could not reach Montreal or Western Canada by rail, unless the Grand Trunk Railway were maintained for a distance of nearly 400 miles between St. Hyacinthe and Toronto, every portion of which, except, perhaps, a few miles on the Island of Montreal, would be exposed to a sudden raid or a superior force.

In order to preserve the granaries of the province in case of threatened invasion, and supply the comparatively dense population of Western Canada with arms and munitions of war, as well as to enable us to contend for the superiority of the lakes, a railway from Quebec to Lake Huron, by way of Montreal and Ottawa, is required. If the latter city were made (as is practicable) a second Quebec, the water communication could always be kept open between them, thus reducing the imperative railway distance, in mean time, to less than half. Such a road would be a base line of operations for the defence of Western Canada; and by means of the present railways debouching at Prescott, Brockville, Cobourg, Port Hope, and Toronto, would serve to communicate with the frontier, while it would be, in its entire length, beyond the reach of an enemy. If now laid out as a railway, it could be used as a highway, on which the snow would seldom be wanting in winter, until time and money could be had for the better road. As it would pass almost wholly through the public domain and the best timber districts of Canada, it would pay indirectly, as a colonization road, creating wealth by rendering valuable timber which is now beyond reach, and is being annually diminished by fire; and giving increased value to the lands on both sides of it. In timber and lumber it would have a profitable local traffic in both directions, to the markets of Chicago and the Hudson river; and in spring and autumn, if extended to Montreal, a through grain traffic would arise, in which, the St. Clair flats being avoided, the largest class of vessels which can enter Chicago would be employed, and grain could be delivered at tide-water from Lake Huron, with one hundred miles less of railway carriage than by any other mixed route having but one transshipment.

Large sums of money have been annually expended without much system, and with comparatively partial results, on what are called colonization roads, which it would be wiser to concentrate on such a truly national object as the above,—one which would promote immigration, develop the resources, and provide for the defence of the country. That such a road would yield the country a return commensurate with its cost there can be no doubt, and that it would be at least self-sustaining there is a certainty. The only thing therefore which should prevent its execution, is the burden of its cost until it has produced its fruit. To this it may be said, that more money would be spent and lost for the want of it, in one year of war, than would construct it; and that there is no way in which the colony could so powerfully contribute to her own defence, and to the integrity of the empire, without ultimate loss, and while pursuing the legitimate mission of peace. As a necessary extension and corollary to the intercolonial railway, the mother country might fairly be requested to promote such a work by similar assistance; and the province could have in her unsold provincial domain, thus rendered valuable, a reliable basis for a sinking fund to meet the interest, and to provide for the extinction of the principal, of the loan.

The importance of opening up this domain has been recognized in the charter of a company for the construction of a railway from Quebec to Lake Huron, and the endowment of the same by a grant of 4,000,000 acres of the public lands. The demonstration of the failure of Canadian railways as investments, and the extent to which the provincial revenue is burdened by guarantees, left no other means of raising or attempting to raise the capital required, but that of a corporation based upon land grants; and if, as appears to be the case, large endowments of land will not secure the construction of the road, the project must either be abandoned or be taken up as a public work. However unpropitious the time may be considered for such a suggestion, it may be asserted that no public work already executed, or proposed, can surpass in importance that of a railway from Quebec to Lake Huron, as a national road. With such a base, and with our back to the unopened north, our flank could not be turned, nor our communication with the sea be cut off. Without it, the attempt to hold Western Canada against an invading force five times our superiors in numbers, and commanding, as they then could, the lakes, would be almost hopeless. If 4,000,000 acres is not sufficient appropriation for such a work, we can increase the quantity. The principle that the public lands are of little value until salable is self-evident; and it is equally true, as admitted by our free grant system, that a settler as a consumer, and subject of taxation, is more remunerative to the province than the unoccupied acres he would require. The interest question and municipal taxation will force the earliest practicable settlement of the lands, no matter into what hands they may fall. The United States Congress has granted no less than 25,000,000 acres to railways, besides 10,000,000 acres for other public improvements.

If the Intercolonial Railway be entered upon as a political and social measure only, it may terminate at Quebec; but if designed as a military one, it should be pushed to its legitimate conclusion, and that will not be found short of Lake Huron.


The great want of the Canadian railways is a paying traffic. The Grand Trunk, in tapping the Western reservoirs, may feed itself under an almost constant head, and maintain an almost continuous descending stream, though this may not often be a paying one; but as the Western States do not import through Canada, there is no return traffic. The procession of empties, from the Atlantic to the St. Clair, is "a drawback" which will always be difficult to get round, and must have suggested melancholy trains of reflection in the mind of each successive manager. No price obtainable in competition with the water, or with the shorter lines and better gradients and lighter frosts and snows of the American routes, can compete with the latter, while these monopolize the carriage of the up freight, the merchandise and manufactures, on which the most profitable rates are collected. The through downward freight to the Atlantic, consisting chiefly of the cheap cereals, the flour and the lumber of the north, does not average more than about one-tenth of the value per pound of the cotton, tobacco, and sugar, the agricultural products of the south; and it is questionable whether on the whole of a year's business it has ever paid the railways more than the cost of carrying it. The downward or export tonnage, is usually three to one, as compared with the up or import freight; and to that extent the local business also involves a return of empties which has heretofore, to a considerable extent, been avoided on the American lines by the westward excess of the immigrant travel. The dream of a great railway traffic through Canada, between the Atlantic and the west, except on the portage lines terminating on Lake Ontario and the Niagara frontier, must therefore be abandoned; and we must turn our attention to the development of the local traffic of the country, and bring down our establishments from those of a foreign war of aggression on the more favored routes, with all its consequent extravagances and losses, to that of a peace and home establishment.

With regard to the passenger traffic, there yet remains the experiment of cheaper rates of fare, to test whether any increase of travel will produce a greater aggregate from this source, at the same cost to the companies. The rates charged are, when and where practicable, the maximum which the law allows, and are about fifty per cent. higher than those on leading United States' lines. No doubt they are at this excess much less profitable, in consequence of the paucity of travel; but it is equally certain that the lower rates of the American routes have developed a much greater tendency to travel there than here. The manufactures of New England are the main source of the profitable local traffic of her railways, and this resource our roads do not possess. Besides the immigration and great business travel between the east and the west, one of their profitable items is in the large amount of female travel between New England and her western colonies. The young adventurer returns from the prairies to take back a wife from his native hills; perhaps a sister accompanies them "on speculation." In the course of events the wife returns to her mother, or the mother goes to her daughter, and a third passenger appears on the stage.

On the one hand it is argued by the companies, that fifty passengers at ten dollars each, are more profitable than sixty at eight dollars; but if the number increase to seventy-five the reduction would pay. The increase would be the work of a little time, and might then possibly be attributed to the progress of the country, and not to the policy of lower fares. Such a bold experiment probably requires more faith and patience than our railways, in their present distressed state, can be expected to exercise. On the other hand it may be said that the trains must and do go, whether full or not; that even if no more money were received, they cost the company scarcely any more when full than empty; and that increased facilities beget both trade and travel, to the ultimate gain of the railway. The position assumed by the companies is, that there exists a certain amount of travel which must go, and that any reduction to this would be so much loss. Perhaps a compromise might be arrived at, and the experiment tried by a wise and gallant discrimination in favor of women and children. At present, a respectable woman in Montreal cannot pass her Christmas with relatives or friends in Toronto short of an outlay of twenty dollars. The fatigue of a sixteen hours' journey, and the risk of a broken rail (and neck), are such as to require decided temptations to travel; and it would be sound policy in railway companies to encourage a spirit of locomotion in that sex which is supposed to be attracted by every reduction in price, and which has both the leisure to travel, and the power of obtaining the ways and means from those who must remain at home. In their freight traffic the companies discriminate in favor of the long haul, and it is only in their passenger rates that the pro ratâ system is maintained. The principle that a half fare is better than none, is also admitted, where competition exists, in their through rates, between Chicago and Boston. It might be found equally wise to establish special through rates between distant cities in Canada, instead of treating them wholly as local points, and thus create a travel which does not now exist.

As to freight traffic, the rates must vary with the existence or otherwise of water competition, which is the only protection to the producer against excessive charges, there being no limitation by law to the freight tariff except the neglected sanction of the government. The greatest development of a legitimate and profitable freight traffic will be that which will arise from an abandonment of the attempt to compete with the water route, and the adoption of this as an auxiliary, particularly in the carriage of grain in bulk; which, from its mobility, can be shipped and transshipped by machinery, and with benefit instead of deterioration.


The public does not derive the full benefit from the railways which these great improvements on all previous means of communication are capable of giving, and the railways do not earn all they are capable of earning, in consequence of the monopoly accorded to a peculiarly American institution—the Express Company; a sort of imperium in imperio, enjoying the benefit of the franchise of the corporation, without assuming its liabilities toward the public. The necessity for the rapid conveyance of very valuable small or perishable articles, a business of great importance and profit, which is conducted by the parcels delivery department of the English railways, was soon perceived; but in America, instead of this being done by the railways, independent companies were formed in which railway directors, superintendents, &c., became interested, contracting with themselves for the transport of the most paying freight, and flourishing as an Express Company while languishing as a Railway. The importance of the institution was greatly enhanced by the necessity which existed for some wealthy and responsible association, to whom could be committed the transport of specie, bills, and negotiable security, which either could not be intrusted to, or could not be transported by, the United States post-office. The railway companies confined themselves to the transport of passengers, and of freight by freight trains only; and in some cases they have entered into covenants with the express companies, that no passenger should be allowed to carry any thing but personal luggage with him, even by paying the extra baggage rate for the same. Under this system passengers on the Grand Trunk Railway have unexpectedly had small articles taken forcible possession of and handed over to the express; the owner going home without them, and receiving them some time next day, with charges several times greater than the extra baggage rate, and in some cases more than the value of the article. Fruit, which the passenger hoped to enjoy with his family while it was fresh, was depreciated one-half and charged more than its worth.

The impolicy of this system, besides the ill-feeling it engenders, is, that it discourages the passenger traffic, the most profitable of all. A country resident goes into the city expressly to make purchases, and naturally wishes, if their bulk permits, to take them with him in order to save time and cartage. The company's regulations would allow eighty or one hundred pounds of shirts &c., in a trunk, but not one-half that weight or bulk of any thing else; and when the purchaser once experiences the annoyance and the extortion, he will not a second time submit himself to it. But there is a still greater evil in the system. The company runs with the passenger train one car, about equally divided among the post-office, baggage, and express. The latter, with a limited space, and dealing only in the more valuable articles, keeps up its charges so as to exclude a large amount of articles requiring either quick transport or prompt delivery, and yet not possessing sufficient value to afford express rates; while, where it has the power by the bond, it plays the part of the dog in the manger, and will not let the railway company carry these in the half-empty compartment accorded to baggage. The express charges are arbitrary, irregular, and often prohibitory. The public have no remedy, because the railway company says: "We are not compelled to carry by passenger trains any thing but passengers and their luggage. If you do not like express charges you must wait for the freight trains." These are irregular, and no facilities are offered for, or proper care taken of, light articles, so that the freight trains are not available for these, even if time be unimportant. But perishable articles, such as fruit, fish, vegetables, require quick transport, and space and rates which the express cannot afford or will not accept; and the railway is thus confined to the limited amount of these, with many other articles of traffic, which the rich only can afford to consume.

It is a question whether the railway and post-office departments should not do the whole of the business now done by the express. It is certain that the revenue of both the former are materially reduced by the existence of the latter. But if the express be an institution as indispensable as either of the others, then it should be treated as such, and be put under similar regulations and restrictions. Above all, some provision should be made for a parcel and fast freight traffic, especially for articles which will not go either by express or upon freight trains, and at rates sufficient to pay one profit direct to the railway, instead of two to the express. As to the value of the express traffic to the railway, it appears that the whole amount received by the Grand Trunk Company from express companies in 1860, over 970 miles of road, was $27,600, or less than twenty-nine dollars per mile per annum. This company complains that seventy dollars per mile is wholly insufficient remuneration for the carriage of the mails, which do not equal the express goods in weight, travel at the same speed, occupy the same car, and have, like the express, only one conductor; they must, therefore, be greater losers proportionally by the rates they have fixed for themselves, than by those which the post-office has fixed for them. Assuming that the way mail on accommodation trains together with extra mails per ocean steamers, make the total mail service double in value that of the express, it would seem that the company, by their own showing, either get too much for the mails or too little for the express.


The gauge of the Canadian railways is five feet six inches, although this is not the exclusive one in use. The St. Lawrence and Champlain; Stanstead, Shefford, and Chambly; the Prescott and Ottawa; and the St. Lawrence and Industry roads, in all 147 miles, are of the American gauge of four feet eight and one-half inches.

Some energetic gentlemen in the city of Portland, ambitious of obtaining something of that railway aid which had contributed so much to the success of Boston, conceived the bold idea of tapping the St. Lawrence at Montreal by a railway over the route of the White Mountains, through the vast forests of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Canada. The distance is nearly three hundred miles, with an intervening summit of about one-third of a mile in height above the termini, the line having besides the frequent and severe curves and gradients usual to such a route. Having enlisted Montreal in the project, they took the precaution to bind the Canadians, under seals and penalties, to adopt the peculiar and exceptional gauge of five feet six inches; and an elaborate and sententious report was prepared, which proved to the unsophisticated Canadians, that by the simple adoption of this great improvement in gauge, Boston and New York would be distanced. When the Grand Trunk bill was passed, Lower Canada being in the ascendant, the Portland gauge was forced upon the province, the Lower Canadians being unanimous in its favor, because they had been led to believe that it would divert western trade from the New York route and send it down to Montreal.

The Great Western Railway, which was not restricted to a particular gauge by its charter, had decided on the American one, but was compelled to change it by threats from the government, both to withhold the guarantee, and also to charter a continuation of the Grand Trunk, on the Canadian gauge, from Toronto to Sarnia. To the latter intimation the company yielded, vainly supposing that they thereby acquired a right of protection from a competing line, especially as they formed a portion of the Trunk railway. But as soon as Grand Trunk became supreme in the provincial cabinet, the unfortunate Great Western had the disagreeable alternative of amalgamation or competition presented to them, and of the two evils they naturally chose the least. The Grand Trunk went to Sarnia, the guarantee following it, to the great benefit of the intervening counties, and of the contractors; and as it went to Sarnia, so it must also go to Rivière du Loup, in order that there might not be an undue preponderance of mileage in Upper Canada; and this is where the contractors and the counties got the better of the shareholders. The latter have, however, no cause of complaint against the province on this score, for, by their prospectus, they undertook to go to Sarnia, and not only to Rivière du Loup, but thirty-five miles beyond, besides constructing the Grand Junction, a work which has not been, and is not likely to be, commenced.

It has long since been demonstrated, that what is called the narrow or Stephenson gauge, of four feet eight and one-half inches, is wide enough for all practical purposes; and that any increased width is an unnecessary expense in first cost, and an increase of dead weight, and of resistance at curves in working.

In case of invasion, however, there would be this advantage in the Canadian gauge, that on all approaches—excepting that from Portland—the enemy must relay to his own gauge nearly the whole of our railways, before his own rolling stock could be used—unless indeed we should so blunder as to let ours fall into his hands.


The first street railway company in Canada was organized the 29th of May, 1861, for the city of Toronto; and the materials being prepared, the Yonge street line was commenced on the 26th of August, and opened to the public on the 11th of September in the same year. The Queen street line was also commenced on the 16th of October, and opened the 2d of December. This company claim six miles of single track, eleven cars, and seventy horses;—which, with stables, car-houses, &c., are put down at a cost of $175,000 in stock and bonds. The cash outlay has probably been something under half of these figures.

The Montreal street railway was likewise commenced in September, 1861, and opened in the following November. The total length of track is six miles and a quarter; the cost of which, including eight cars, brick stable, forty stalls, and car-house, was $89,263.13; of which $42,500 was paid the contractor in stock. The company have besides, four one-horse cars convertible into close sleighs, three covered sleighs, five open sleighs, and sixty-three horses, with harness and other equipments, costing, together er, $10,164.52:—making the total cost almost $100,000.

The street railway is an institution for the benefit of those who ride at the expense of those who drive; and is a flagrant violation of the rights of the minority, if not of the majority. The rights of a single owner are considered sufficient to prevent the closing or alienation of a highway; gas and water companies are only permitted temporarily to obstruct a street; but the horse railway is a permanent obstruction—practically dividing a wide street into two narrow ones, and a narrow one into two lanes.

These railways are a great relief to commercial cities, where the business centre is ever extending, and pushing the population into the suburbs;—and they therefore much increase the value of suburban property;—but it is questionable whether they will be found profitable as investments in Canada. It will be only occasionally that they can be worked in winter—and then only in Western Canada, so that during this period their permanent way is of no value; and the traffic by sleighs, always open to competition, will be barely sufficient to cover expenses. Where, however, they do not pay as investments they are often warranted, provided the traffic is sufficient to cover the working expenses, if laid down in connection with, and by the owners of real estate, in the suburbs. Still there should be some limit to the extent to which the streets of a town may be cut up for such partial and selfish purposes; as there is a tendency to obstruct streets with them where there is no plea of necessity, but chiefly to secure the franchise for the future. If proper discrimination were used, a few leading arteries could be laid down, in streets which are not thoroughfares, without much inconvenience to the public, and with nearly equal advantage to those who use them—a precaution which has not been taken either in Toronto or Montreal.


This structure, the design of which originated with a Canadian engineer, Mr. Thomas Keefer, is beyond dispute, the most costly and magnificent bridge ever erected.[16] The following extract is from a report of proceedings in the Parliament of Canada:

"Hon. Mr. Allan said that before the orders of the day were called, there was a subject to which he desired to call the attention of the House, and which he desired the Government to hear. It was true that one of England's greatest engineers had given the sanction of his name to the Victoria Bridge. But it was also true that that great work was indebted in the first place for its conception to Canadian skill. To a Canadian engineer was due the first enunciation of the scheme of laying down the present bridge in the place where it now stands. In 1847, Hon. Mr. Young, of Montreal, and the finance minister, obtained a survey of the St. Lawrence, in order to see if it were possible to erect the bridge. The survey was carried on by an engineer of experience, but this gentleman reported that the scheme of bridging at Point St. Charles was impracticable. At the same time he reported the feasibility of building a bridge over Nun's Island. In 1851, Hon. Mr. Young obtained another survey of the St. Lawrence, for the same purpose, conducted by Mr. Thos. C. Keefer, an engineer whose talents were well known in the province. The result of this survey was given in a report published immediately afterwards. In this report Mr. Keefer demonstrated the practicability of erecting the bridge in the place where it now stands. The plans on which the bridge should be constructed were also laid down. It was recommended that it should be a solid railroad bridge, that it should be erected high over navigation, instead of having drawbridges in it. A certain distance was to intervene between the piers. It was to be for railroad traffic alone; and lastly, and what was of greatest importance, solid approaches should be constructed to diminish the waterway, instead of enlarging it as might have been proposed, and to guard against the crush of ice. It was worthy of remark, that the present bridge was constructed precisely as this report recommended. (Hear.) In consequence of the changes which afterwards took place in the management of the Grand Trunk Railway, the undertaking was transferred to English hands, and the work in question was constructed by other persons. The bridge, however, was built in accordance with Mr. Keefer's report. (Hear.) All the leading principles set forth in his report were adopted by the English engineers. This being the case, he (Mr. Allan) claimed that Mr. Keefer should not be overlooked; that the English engineer should not receive the whole of that credit, an equal portion of which was due to the Canadian. He claimed for Mr. Keefer that his name should be engraved on the Victoria Bridge beside the names of Stephenson, Ross, and the other engineers connected with that work, whose names were already cut upon it. He made this proposition with the greater confidence, because on many occasions the celebrated Stephenson had acknowledged Mr. Keefer's claims with regard to the originating of the work. (Hear.) The Grand Trunk Railway Company had also acknowledged Mr. Keefer's claims, for they had been compelled to pay him a certain sum for his report, and also for his services; and not only had justice been done to Mr. Keefer by Stephenson and the Grand Trunk Company, but even in the American railroad journals credit was given to him—not once but on several occasions."

The following description of the Bridge is extracted from "A Glance at Victoria Bridge, and the Men who built it," by Mr. Charles Legge, C. E., Montreal.


"The superstructure, as designed by Mr. Stephenson, consists of twenty-five tubes, or rather, as one continuous tube extends over two spans, of twelve double tubes, and the large central one over the channel. They are of the uniform width of sixteen feet throughout, for the accommodation of a single line of railway, but differing in height as they approach the centre. Thus, the depth of the tubes over the first two spans is eighteen feet six, the next two nineteen feet, and so on, every coupled pair gaining an additional six inches, to the centre one, which is established at twenty-two feet in depth, as the proper proportion obtaining for a beam 330 feet long. These side-spans being all the same length, the increase in height does not arise from any requirement of additional strength, but simply to prevent the appearance of too great a break being visible in the top line of the tubes, and, by graduating the difference in height between the ends and centre, to give greater facilities for the roof required in the protection of the tubes from moisture and consequent oxidation, and presenting at the same time a straight and continuous outline on the top.

"The tubes, being detached, are not designed upon the principle of continuous beams, for practical reasons, including the circumstance of the steep gradient on each side of the central span, and the great disturbance which would be caused by the accumulated expansion and contraction of such a continuous system of iron work, in a climate where the extremes of temperature are so widely apart. The arrangement introduced of coupling but two together, with an intermediate space of eight inches between them and the neighboring tubes, divides this movement and retains it within certain specified limits.

"A double tube, covering two openings, is securely bolted to the masonry of the pier in the centre, on which it has a solid bearing of sixteen feet by nineteen feet, and provided with a free bearing on each of the two contiguous piers of seven and a half feet, resting at each end on fourteen expansion rollers six inches in diameter and three feet in length, seven on each side of the tube, retained in place by a wrought-iron frame, allowing the rollers to traverse on a planed cast-iron bed-plate seven and a half feet long, three and a half feet wide, and three inches thick, bolted to the masonry. A similar plate covers the rollers, and is secured to the bottom of the tube. The tube is thus free to expand or contract each way from the bearing-pier in the centre.

"Creosoted tamarack timber, covered with felt, is introduced between the iron and the stone, in every case, to give the junction of these hard materials a certain amount of elasticity.

"The tube proper is composed entirely of wrought-iron, in the form of boiler-plate, ranging from four-sixteenths to twelve-sixteenths of an inch in thickness, with the joints and angles stiffened and strengthened by the addition of Tee and Angle irons. The secret of success in this mode of construction, lies in arranging those different thicknesses where the strains or weights call for additional strength or otherwise.

"The following table will show the general distribution of material in the different parts of the tube, as arranged by Mr. Stephenson, starting in all cases from the centre of the spans:—"

Top Plates.
Sectional Area.  
From Centre.Length of Division.Plates.Strips, Tee and
Angle Irons.
Total Area.Thickness
of Plate.
′   ″
Bottom Plates.
Sectional Area.  
From Centre.Length of Division.Plates.Strips, Tee and
Angle Irons.
Total Area.Thickness
of Plate.
119.6137.5063.75201.253/8—5/16} Double.


Beginning at the centre, and strengthened by Tee bars inside and out, placed at distances of 3′, 6″,—

The first space of35 feetfrom the centre is formed of¼inch plate.
The second space of45½ feet"5/16inch plate.
The third space of35 feet"6/16inch plate.
The remaining space"8/16inch plate.

The following analysis is made of the arrangement proposed for distribution:

Top of tube76 Tons.  
Bottom of do82 Tons.158

Keelsons, 10 inches in depth, are placed transversely at distances of 7 feet, and secured to the side Tee bars by gussets, for the support of the longitudinal timbers carrying the rail.

The top of the tube is also supported by keelsons at the same distances apart, and the whole tube rendered rigid, by stiffening gussets and double covers over every joint.

The wrought iron in a single tube 258 feet in length, including its bearings over the piers, weighs about a ton to the running foot, or 258 tons in all.

The central tube, in consequence of its increased length, is somewhat different in its arrangement; the bottom and top being proportionally stronger,—the first with an additional thickness of plates, and the last, with longitudinal keelsons 10″ high, taking the place of the ordinary longitudinal Tee bars, as existing on the side tubes; the side plates are 2½ feet, instead of 3½ feet wide, with a proportionately larger number of side Tee bars. The whole tube is disconnected from the others, being bolted to pier No. 12, and resting on rollers on No. 13 pier.

Windows are introduced into the sides of the tubes near the line of neutral axis, and serve to light up the inside. Iron brackets are placed on the piers where not occupied by the tubes, and slope back to the top of the tubes, but are entirely disconnected from it. They serve to give a finished appearance, and likewise prevent the snow and rain blowing in through the openings left for expansion and contraction.

It was originally intended to cover the top of the tubes with a curved corrugated iron roof, to protect them from the weather. This design was subsequently abandoned and the present sloping angular one substituted, composed of grooved and tongued boards, covered with the best quality of tin. This tin is not put on in the usual manner, but, by an ingenious arrangement, each sheet is allowed to expand and contract at pleasure, without the danger of destroying the fastenings which attach it to the timber underneath, as in the ordinary method made use of, and thus insures its continual efficiency.

A foot-walk 26 inches in width extends along the top of the roof, the whole length of the tubes, for the convenience of the employés connected with the work; a track is also provided for the painting-travellers.

The contract price may be put down under the heads of,

First.—The approaches and abutments, which together extend to 3,000 feet in length, amount in the estimate to$1,000,000
Second.—The masonry forming the piers, which occupy the intervening space of 7,000 feet between the abutments, including all dams and appliances for their erection4,000,000
Third.—The wrought-iron tubular superstructure, 7,000 feet in length, which amounts to2,000,000
(About $285.70 per lineal foot), making a total of$7,000,000

The following interesting details are annexed by Mr. Legge:

First stone, No. 1 Pier, laid 20th July, 1854.
First passenger train passed 17th December, 1859.
Total length of Bridge, 9,184 feet lineal.
Number of spans, 25; 24 of 242 feet; one of 330 feet.
Height from surface of water to under side of centre tube, 60 feet.
Height from bed of river to top of centre tube, 108 feet.
Greatest depth of water, 22 feet.
General rapidity of current, 7 miles an hour.
Cubic feet of masonry, 3,000,000.
Cubic feet or timber, in temporary work, 2,250,000.
Cubic yards of clay used in puddling dams, 146,000.
Tons of iron in tubes, say, 8,250.
Number or rivets, 2,500,000.
Acres of painting on tubes, one coat, 30; or for the four coats, 120 acres.
Length of abutments, 242 feet each.
Length of north approach, 1,344 feet.
Length of south approach, 1,033.
Force employed in construction during summer or 1858, the working season extending from the middle of May to the middle of November:
Steamboats, 6; horse-power, 450} 12,000tons.
Barges, 72
Manned by500sailors.
In stone quarries450men.
On works, artisans, &c.2,090men.
Horses, 142. Locomotives, 4.


key = A Date.; B Names of Engineers.; C Description of Structure.; D Total length.; E Greatest headway above water.; F Least headway above water.; G No. of spans.; H Length of span over channel.; I Length of remaining spans.; J Length of solid approach.; K Length of superstructure.; L Estimated cost of Bridge.; M REMARKS.

1846Mr. Morton[M]Stone and wood11,540........................¼ of a mile above foot of Nun's island.
1846Mr. Gay, "Upper,"Stone and wood14,960.....................$613,321Head of Nun's island.
1846Mr. Gay, "Lower,"Stone and wood12,540252256draw 60200...11,200525,698Foot of Nun's island.
1852Mr. T. C. KeeferStone, iron, & wood10,00010045234002503,0606,9401,600,000Point St. Charles to St. Lambert.
1852Mr. T. C. KeeferStone and iron10,00010045234002503,0606,9403,600,000  Do.  Do.  Do.
1853Stephenson & RossStone and iron9,184603625330242abuts 2,6006,5946,300,000Do.  ½ a mile above.

No plan or estimate—line of soundings taken only.

In 1787, over 200,000 bushels of wheat were exported from Quebec.

In 1795, 400 to 500 pounds of wild rice were sold by the Indians in Kingston market.

This office was filled as early as 1689 by the Sieur De Beccancourt, as successor to his father who was probably the first grand voyer of New France.

The maitres de poste were first recognized by law in 1780, and some half a dozen ordinances and acts were passed in their favor or to control them between that date and 1819, when their privileges ceased.

Since these lines were written, death has removed a man, who, with unflagging energy, ever pursued his object in the spirit of peace;—a politician who was not an office-seeker, and who loved his country more than self or party,—a statesman often in advance of his countrymen—but not of his country—and a loyalist who so valued truth that he sought it even from the enemy—preferring to be misunderstood rather than to remain unarmed.

This step was a repetition of the legislation of Upper Canada in 1837, before the Union—that province having voted the Great Western Railway £3 for every £1 of private stock subscribed, to the extent of £200,000. In default of repayment, the receiver-general could levy on the Gore and Western Districts.

It is important to note, that if Canada did not construct her Trunk Railway without involving Englishmen (and women) in ruin, it was because Englishmen would have it so. Moreover, the demand came from such a quarter, that to those familiar with the resources of these "operators," it might have been extremely difficult for her to have gone into the money market on her own account, against their opposition.

They really believed in men of their own country who did not believe in the prospectus, but who had other reasons for indorsing it; and this explains why their faith was of such short duration.

Unfortunately, the municipalities do not make any return to Parliament of their investments in public works. This is the case also with road companies and several other joint-stock corporations. No good reasons are advanced why these bodies should be more favored than banks and railways.

In a dispatch which arrived after the High Comr. had left the province, Lord Glenelg had suggested an inter-colonial road, and Lord Durham, instead of this, proposed the railway.

Mr. Keefer having from a natural delicacy declined to write an account of a work with which his name is so intimately associated, the following extracts must suffice.—Ed.


The whole of the telegraphic system of Canada (except the private lines belonging to railway companies) is in the hands of one company.

The Montreal Telegraph Company was organized in 1847, and first opened between Quebec and Toronto. The following figures show the progress of this company:

In 1847.In 1861.
The capital stock£15,000£100,000
Length of line540 miles.3,422 miles.
Number of stations9150
Persons employed35400
Number of messages transmitted33,000300,000
The main line extends from Woodstock in New Brunswick 
  to Detroit in Michigan1,050
And from Quebec C. E. to Buffalo, N. Y.650
  With the following branches: 
River du Loup to Father Point70
Quebec to Richmond, on Grand Trunk R. R.96
Montreal to Portland, Maine, on do.292
Montreal to Troy, New York250
Montreal to Waterloo, C. E.60
Prescott to Ottawa City54
Prescott to Oswego, New York120
Belleville to Stirling15
Trenton to Pictou30
Port Hope to Peterboro' and Lindsay55
Toronto to Collingwood, on Northern Railway97
Toronto to Sarnia, on Grand Trunk R. R.170
Goderich to Buffalo160
St. Mary's to Port Stanley50
Brantford to Port Dover32
Windsor to Amherstburg18
Various branches to small towns and villages153

The lines enumerated above embrace all the important towns and villages in both provinces.

There are thirty-two poles to the mile, and the wire is number eight and nine, galvanized. The line is worked on the Morse principle, and nearly every thing is taken by sound. The business, after the crisis of 1857, fell off to a considerable extent, but during the last two years it has gradually increased, and the number of messages passing over the line in 1861, amounted to 300,000.


Halifax to New Brunswick line1301849
Truro to Pictou401850
Halifax to Liverpool1021851
Halifax to Yarmouth (via Windsor)2241852
Pictou to Sydney, C. B.1951852
Pictou to Amherst, (via Pugwash)801853
Liverpool to Barrington621853
Halifax to Truro (second wire)641853
Barrington to Yarmouth451854
Antigonishe to Cape Canso671854
St. Peters, C. B., to Arichbat, C. B. (about)201854
Plaister Cove to Port Hood281855
Wolfville to Canning91858
Total miles,   1,066 

All except the second wire between Halifax and Truro, are of number nine ungalvanized wire; the poles are spruce and tamarack, from thirty-five to forty to the mile. The second wire, from Truro to Halifax, is number nine galvanized wire.

The telegraph in Nova Scotia was constructed by the provincial government.


Calais to St. John901848
St. John to Nova Scotia boundary1401849
St. John to Fredericton641850
Fredericton to Woodstock641851
Monckton to Chatham1001851
Newcastle to Bathurst551858
Bathurst to Campbelltown681860
Salesbury to Hillsboro'221856
Total miles,   603 




Three hundred and twenty-seven years ago, Jacques Cartier, of St. Malo, discovered the St. Lawrence,[17] sailed up its mighty stream for several hundred miles, formed alliances with the Indians, built a fort, and wintered in the country. In 1549, the colonization of the newly discovered "Canada" was commenced, under the auspices of Roberval, the first viceroy, and an attempt made to establish a traffic in furs with the natives; but, in consequence of the loss of Roberval and some of his companions, at sea, in 1549, and European distractions arising from the wars between France, Spain, and Austria, no further effort was made for nearly half a century to colonize the valley of the St. Lawrence. In 1581, a trade with Canada began to spring into activity, and in 1591 a fleet of ships was fitted out by the adventurous inhabitants of St. Malo, to engage in the Canada trade, and, chiefly, to procure the teeth of the walrus, which at that time was common in the gulf and estuary of the St. Lawrence.

In 1603, a company of adventurers, headed by M. de Chauvin, lieutenant-general of Canada and Acadia, received a royal charter from Henry IV., of France, and established a regular system of trade in the colony. Ten years later, Champlain obtained a commission authorizing him to seize every vessel, not holding a license, he should find trafficking in furs between Quebec and the upper part of the St. Lawrence. In 1628, the celebrated but unscrupulous Cardinal de Richelieu organized the "Company of One Hundred Partners," and conceded to its members in perpetuity the viceroyalty of New France and Florida, thus establishing a commercial régime in Canada, whose influence soon extended far and wide among the Indian races of the valley of the St. Lawrence.

The "Company of One Hundred Partners" was dissolved by Louis XIV., in 1663, who resumed the jurisdiction over the country, which for thirty-five years had been under the rule of a trading association.

Scarcely, however, had a year elapsed, when, by a royal edict dated 1664, Canada was once more handed over to the short-lived commercial bondage of the "West India Company," but, in 1666, free t