Canada rediscovered

From 1927: Canada owes a debt to Cartier, but she owes more to the modern Canadian who has the faith to continue the discovery of his country


 

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    AN ENTERPRISING sailor, named Jacques Cartier, is said to have discovered Canada. So history records. But we have it on the authority of Henry Ford that history is ‘bunk’. And in this particular case Henry is right.

    Cartier discovered a commodious bay on the Gaspé coast. He found a great river, with some natives more or less scurvyridden at Stadacona, and others, with less scurvy and more corn, at Hochelaga. He did not discover Canada; neither did Champlain when he reached the Great Lakes; nor LaVerendrye when, with his sons, he crossed the prairies, till he saw the snow on the peaks of the Rockies; nor even Mackenzie, though he followed the river, which bears his name to the Arctic, and was the first white man to make the overland journey across the continent to the Pacific.

    Even after several centuries physical Canada is not yet fully discovered. That process is now going on. It may take another century. And the soul, the spirit, of Canada is just beginning to emerge.

    For peoples, like individuals, discover themselves. Though this country has had a national organism for sixty years, its people are just learning to ‘find’ themselves.

    Self-discovery does not come to men or to nations when they learn to work and to support themselves; not even when they start to fight. These are the adolescent stages, and Canada has been through them all. Self-revelation comes to the boy as he does his own thinking, and begins to relate himself to the world and not to his parents. It is then that he takes stock of his powers and learns to use them independent of parental assistance. That is the point at which self-analysis brings self-discovery. In this, her Diamond Jubilee year, Canada may fairly be said to have reached such a stage. And that is the beginning of national wisdom.

    What, then, have Canadians discovered?

    Canadians are learning, for instance, that theirs is no longer only a pastoral land. In the first quarter of this century agriculture has been forced to give an equal place to manufacturing. In twenty-five years the value of manufactured products has increased to thirteen hundred millions of dollars. Canada is no longer a nation of tree fellers, stump pullers, soil breakers, or agricultural pioneers. She continues to live from the soil. She no longer depends solely on the soil. Canadians are still great pioneers, but their adventure carries them deeper than the soil. They are finding outlets for their enterprise in the opening of rich veins of minerals, in harnessing great water powers, and in converting forests into paper and pulp. In less than four score years the value of her exports in pulp and paper have leaped from $120 to $173,000,000, with half a billion dollars now invested in over one hundred mills. In this she is the world’s leader. In ten years she has increased her power development by over two hundred and forty-five per cent, making her third in the world. Indeed, in per capita horse-power she leads all nations, because Canada has three hundred and eighty-seven developed horse-power per one thousand population, while in the United States there is only ninety-seven and in Germany eighteen. She leads the world in asbestos, nickel, cobalt, and salmon, as well as news print. She is second only to one other nation in the number of telephones in use, and in the production of lumber and automobiles, while she is the world's third gold producer, seventh in steel and tenth in coal.

    This development is merely a forecast of a great epochal change which is coming O'er this country, and which even her own people, as yet, scarcely have realized. Nature played several grim tricks on Canada. One of them was the denying to her of any anthracite, and the planting of the softer coal beds on the fringes of the Dominion. The great majority of Canadians live within a few hundred miles of the immense hard and soft coal areas of Pennsylvania. Their own soft coal has to he brought from Alberta or Cape Breton. Hence it cannot he transported profitably at a rate which, will enable it to compete with the coals of Pennsylvania.

    In the nineteenth century when industry hinged on power produced from coal, Canada was severely handicapped. That is one reason why industrial development lagged so far behind that of the United States.

    The Wizard Water Power

    Then came the wizard 'Water Power’. It is doubtful whether Sir Wilfrid Laurier was thinking in precise terms when he predicted that the twentieth century would be the century of Canada. He was a dreamer, but as is often the case it is the dreamer who is the real seer. The cascades and cataracts, which were the greatest obstacles to the early explorers and travelers of Canada, have become the vital source of her expanding greatness. They no longer hinder; they help. Engineers are making of nature's giant powers the slaves of human art. In white coal, and superpower is the secret of the future industrial life of this continent.

    In this, Canada has a predominance over all other parts of North America. She holds it, not in one province, but in all. Niagara has vitalized the whole industrial, and has revolutionized the domestic, life of the people of Ontario, as it once astonished them only by its grandeur. But Ontario, while a pioneer in the utilization of the new power, is not specially favored over other parts of Canada.

    Quebec has solved the question not by state ownership, as in Ontario, but by state conservation of water sources. The Gouin dam, the greatest impoundage of water in the world, has produced a Laurentian lake navigable by steamboat for one hundred miles, insuring an even flow to manufacturers on rivers like the St. Maurice the year round. On the Saguenay the Duke-Price enterprise alone represents an investment of fifty millions of dollars. There is a potential development of one million two hundred and sixty thousand horse power on Isle Maligne and Chute a Caron, and here the cheapest power on the continent is available to industry at $13.00 a horse power. British Columbia, with its mountainous formations and its heavy rainfall, is another seat of super-power, the extent of which is as yet only partly realized.

    But even this coast province and the older provinces of the Dominion have no advantage over our prairies. Manitoba, regarded by so many as a vast expanse of plain, is the third potential power producer in Canada. In the great gorges of the Nelson and Churchill rivers, as they flow to the Bay, there is more power than in that of Niagara.

    Here again nature has turned a trick, this time in Canada's favor. Not only has Canada the great water courses, but she has several other necessary elements which give her an, enormous advantage over her great neighbor the L nited States. The snows of Canada’s winters in this, as in so many other particulars, bring a distinct blessing. The larger precipitation of the north is preserved in her high altitudes, and in her still boundless areas of unbroken forest. This, with a a wise water conservation policy, insures a more even and substantial flow and is underwriting the future of power in Canada.

    A Veritable Treasure Store

    CURIOUSLY enough, concurrent with this new and almost sudden discovery of power wealth, has come a remarkable mineral and forest product development, along the very areas where this power originates. To-day the whole Laurentian range from the Saguenay to Winnipeg is throbbing with an extraordinary mineral development. That extensive range, which until within the past decade in Canada, was a locked treasure house, has given the United States, during the era of her industrial expansion the invaluable deposits on the Mesaba iron range and the Calumet copper range, which, with her Pennsylvania coal, are the very foundation upon which her whole supremacy in steel and copper-production rests. This United States mineral wealth was extracted from the fag end of the great range, of which ninety-seven per cent, is in Canada. With a development so sudden that its significance is only beginning to be grasped, this treasure house has been opened. Ontario has leaped to the front rank as a gold producer in all Canada, and discovery and production are following one another so rapidly that Canada’s place as second, if not first, among the gold producers of the world is already in sight. Four of these mines are paying greater dividends than the combined dividends of all Canadian banks. Sudbury nickel has already produced sixty-eight millions in dividends—one company alone in Cobalt, thirty millions. The dividends from the Hollinger, McIntyre and Dome Mines in Porcupine, only discovered in 1912, already exceed sixty millions. Rouyn copper and gold, and Red Lake gold camps, one the discovery cf only three years since and the other of two years, promise to equal even the records of Cobalt, Sudbury, Porcupine and Kirkland Lake. Cities are springing up about these enterprises. The Aluminum Company of America is creating over night the magic city of Arvida on the Saguenay, which in two years will have over thirty thousand people.

    The wonderful developments along the Portland Canal on the Pacific Coast by the operation of a strange fate have been almost exclusively on the Canadian side of the range which the Alaskan Boundary Commission determined should be the dividing line between this country and the United States. Canada was bitterly disappointed with that award. But again Dame Nature evened the score by putting the mineralized zone on the Canadian slope and the country rock on the American side. So to-day the Premier Mine—more generous in its few years of production than the fabulously rich Cornstock—is but one of a large and constantly expanding group of properties that have attracted to the Canal some of the biggest investors of the world.

    It must be remembered that all this mineral development carries with it other factors which indicate how the Canadian people are gradually coming to realize their own powers. Gold rushes to the Klondike, where most of the pay dirt was in Canadian territory, were of inconsiderable benefit to the Canadian people. The latter were at that time still in the pastoral stage of their development. They regarded gold rushes as wild goose chases, and, in the language of the fools’ dictionary, all gold mines as ‘holes in the ground owned by liars’. The argonauts of ’98 were Californian forty-niners, Australians from Kalgoorlie and miners from the Rand and Cape Town. The great profits in that rush were reaped by American transport companies and American outfitters, who with their experience were quick to capitalize their opportunities. Canada practically held the bag. The new development in Northern Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba is of an entirely different character. It is in the main Canadian enterprise and Canadian money, and Canadian men, which are opening up and drawing the proceeds from that enterprise.

    What might be regarded as a secondary result of this new phase of Canadian development is political in character, and more beneficial to Canada than all the gold of Ophir. The great Laurentian range that Jacques Cartier first saw from the St. Lawrence remained up to the end of the nineteenth century, not only a locked treasure house, but a grim barrier to Canadian national life. It is one of the richest and oldest geological formations in the world. But the face it presented to Canadians until recently was a forbidding one. Geologically known as the Pre-Cambrian shield, it became in our National Life the Pre-Cambrian spear, for it pierced the body of Canada just where its waist contracted to a space of three hundred miles or so between the head of Lake Superior and Hudson’s Bay. In every sense indeed it was a ‘waste’. One thousand miles of broken country, muskeg, river, lake and rock with practically no arable land, lay between the north-western frontier of Ontario and the flat lands beyond the Lake of the Woods which tell the traveler that he is on the edge of the prairies. Across this hinterland the trade of Canada had to be hauled, over territory which produced no revenue. Travelers traversed it in weariness and ennui. Over it the newspapers of Canada had to string unremunerative wires, with no intermediate cities to feed its dispatches, in order that East and West might not altogether forget one another. No portion of all Canada has presented more problems to her statesmen than that great dyke running down from the north, and dividing the Dominion definitely into the East and West, and seemingly dooming her to a divided destiny.

    The only hope lay in the possibility that some day mineral wealth might be developed. No one dreamed that it would emerge in such valuable form. Enterprise, like virtue, seems to bring its own reward. When the T. and N. 0. Railway was built northward in the Province of Ontario toward James Bay it was denounced as a mad scheme by its critics, and defended by its apologists as a possible colonization road only. The expenditure was regarded by most people as a wasteful extravagance, that could never be justified by population or trade in the district which the line traversed. Yet, as a matter of actual fact, the Hollinger mine, the discovery of which followed the opening of the road, has in the few years of its existence produced more wealth than would pay for the entire cost of constructing the road. The Hudson’s Bay Railway, so skeptically regarded now, may easily in the same way surprise Canadians themselves by the riches it develops. A great political problem in Canada has been solved by the development now taking place along the Cambrian highlands. It is ceasing to be a land of desolation. It is becoming the home of active, prosperous and cultured people. Enterprise has been justified of her children. Again, in further discovering Canada, Canadians have possibly solved the greatest obstacle to their national unity. A solution has been found for a problem for which even the prescience of the fathers of Confederation could not provide.

    When a youth becomes conscious of his powers he likes to do things for himself. For some years there has been much head wagging over the way in which United States capital has been invoked for Canadian industry. But with the consciousness by Canadians of their powers to develop their resources, there has come a new confidence which has been expressed recently in a rather striking way. Two great Canadian enterprises, the Massey-Harris Company, implement manufacturers, and the Provincial Paper Mills, reached a stage where both companies were threatened with absorption by United States financiers. Both were promptly rescued by the financial capacity of a group of Canadians through transactions involving an exchange of several millions of dollars.

    A more significant phase of this development, however, will be found in the holdings of securities by Canadian investors. Here there has been a curious sequel to war conditions. Prior to 1914 Canadians had not learned to underwrite their own national bond issues, but relied upon British capital. The war and the tremendous strain imposed upon Britain by the financing of the allies compelled Canada to make the experiment of floating her own domestic loans. Under the pressure of a great need, and by a comprehensive and well-conducted educational campaign the Canadian people learned a new lesson in self-dependence. Today, almost seventy per cent of these bonds are being held by Canadians, in a wonderful total of $4,225,000,000. In thirteen years Canadian people have increased their holdings of bonds sevenfold. Last year Canada purchased fully half of her own flotations. This, it must be remembered, has been done in the face of eager buyers and much competition from the United States, and when Canada was painfully recovering from exhaustion arising out of her effort in the World War.

    This reflects not only a new national consciousness, but is made possible only by the realization of national wealth. The League of Nations’ figures show that the per capita wealth of Canada is second only to that of the United States and Great Britain. The United States stands at $2,918, Great Britain at $2,459 and Canada at $2,406. France is $1,570, Germany $1,080 and Japan $544. The per capita savings deposited in Canada have increased from $33 in 1900 to $152, and the per capita life insurance from $76 to $530, a combined increase seven times the total in 1900. The discoveries of Canada in 1926 are just as interesting as those of 1534.

    With this consciousness of power there has come an expansion of Canadian enterprise which has carried her farther into foreign lands, in a manner peculiarly gratifying to her people. The Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian banks, and Canadian insurance companies, are setting a standard of service and of enterprise all round the globe, that is discovering Canada to the people of almost every land. For the word ‘discover’ does not mean ‘to find’, as we so often loosely use it, but ‘to disclose’, or ‘to reveal’. Canadian investments abroad at the close of 1926 were estimated at over $700,000,000. Included in this amount were government credits, $35,000,000, banking balances, $196,200,000; bank holdings of foreign securities, $102,000,000; insurance companies’ holdings of foreign securities, $175,000,000; branch and controlled plants, $50,000,000, and miscellaneous, $150,000,000.

    IT WOULD be misleading to suggest that because Canada has become a great industrial and manufacturing country, agriculture is not still the great basis of her domestic life. The comfortable conditions in which Canadian farmers find themselves may be gathered from the fact that in 1926 the three Prairie Provinces realized from the sale of field crops $647,282,000. This represents $313 for every man, woman and child, and $2,535 for every farm in a territory where the population is thirty-six per cent, urban. Conditions of life in older Canada are to say the least quite as pleasant and quite as productive as in the provinces just quoted. For forty-seven per cent, of Canadians are enjoying gainful occupations as compared with thirty-one per cent, in the United States. Roger W. Babson estimates that Canada leads the world in the number of homes owned by her own people, the ratio being seventy per cent. The Canadian family budget in Canada in 1922 was $1,650, while in 1925 a survey made of ten cities in Canada by the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Engineers brought the former budget to $2,202. Of the one million, nine hundred and thirty two thousand, three hundred and fifty-two householders in Canada one million and seventy have their mail delivered by postmen or in local post office boxes. With a percentage of 12.22 for every hundred of population, Canadians have more telephones than any other country with the single exception of the United States. Since Confederation the savings deposits of Canada have increased 700 per cent. Rural and urban life in Canada, therefore, has attained a completeness and a content that is probably unequalled in the whole world.

    These are not the only signs of self-discovery or self-revelation in Canada. Her history has developed a spirit, not easy to understand by those who know her only casually. For long decades following the Revolutionary War the deep resentment of the exiled United Empire Loyalists strongly influenced Canada’s attitude to her great neighbor. A bitterness, which time might have effaced, was only perpetuated by a long series of offensive political and commercial acts by the States, which found belligerent culmination in the invasion of 1812-15 and in the Fenian Raids of half a century later. They settled her destiny, so far at least, as her North American relationships were concerned. No annexationist sentiment can ever have serious reception by the Canadian people.

    Even those Canadians, who were once hospitable to that idea, were influenced mainly by an inferiority complex that despaired of another resilient nationhood on this continent, and hoped for more profitable trade through a closer alliance with the south. That appeal no longer exists. It is being steadily dissipated with every new discovery, with every loan that is floated internally, with the overcoming of each obstacle—physical and political— and with the constantly increasing evidence, that despite all difficulties and discouragements two great races, French and English can co-operate, if they cannot exactly coalesce, in the job of making a country. The traditional bonds with the Motherland are being insensibly strengthened with every such discovery as that which reveals a new city like Arvida, which owes its existence in Canada to the action of the British authorities in insisting that bauxite from British Guiana must be converted into aluminum only in another British nation. And among reflecting folk—and Canada is not lacking in these—there is the constantly expanding discovery that there are no bonds with the Motherland that cannot be severed at will, no obligations that are not voluntary, no authority but that which is exercised only on Canadian initiative and by Canadian desire.

    These changes in the material life of Canada are inevitably affecting the outlook of its people. Canada has long been a fringe of settlement extending from Atlantic to Pacific along the forty-ninth parallel, the St. Lawrence and the Lakes. In the sense of occupancy or development, broadly speaking, it has had no north or south. Across the long barrier of the PreCambrian shield its East has regarded its West as bumptious, and its West has patronized its East as smug. But gold is a magic word and a magic power and it has already worked its magic in that less adventurous part of Canada that was East.

    THE tide of Empire in its westward trend is at last arrested in its circuit of the globe on the shore of the Pacific, where it looks once more westward to its parent East. That marks the last western frontier of the white race. There the age-old trend must take new direction. And the currents are turning north. ‘Go north young man,’ said Minister Dunning the other day, varying the Greeley dictum that served as the sign post of youth on this continent for over half a century. That is what young Ontario and young Quebec are already doing. And in the trek the old East and West trails are being crossed. Agriculture beckons with sixty miles of greater producing area toward the Arctic since Garnet wheat has come. Power development is in the north. Pulp development is in the north. Mineral development is to the north. Already the pioneers are over the ridge, whence all our familiar rivers so long ran only south. They are heading for the Bay. The prairies want a port there. Ontario seeks out a prosaic terminus for a railway on that inland sea—a mere booming ground for the cut of those forests, until recently primeval and undisturbed in the new Empire of Patricia. Canada is talking reindeer herds, and Eskimo herdsmen. The Ontario boy of forty years ago, went in the winter to the ‘shanties’ of Michigan. He has a more alluring land now within his own frontiers. The adventure which drew his great grandfather from New England to the shores of the Bay of Quinte and the valley of the St. John river, and which carried his father into the unbroken woods of the ‘Queen’s Bush’, finds opportunity for expression in him too within his own Dominion, if not in his own province. And that trek is to the north; on to the Athabasca; on to the Peace; onto the Bay!

    There are signs everywhere that in a new appreciation of these things, and in an application of them to her conditions the spirit and soul of Canada are being developed and disclosed.

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