« VorigeDoorgaan »
expect (and indeed the interval of latitude is not sufficient to account for it) so great a difference as between five months of winter and three; or to believe that the Upper Province enjoys, on the whole, a much warmer climate than this island.
We need not indeed wonder at the prevalence of erroneous opinions on this subject among the mass of the community, when we find even official persons stating in general terms, that 'our North American colonies labour under the disadvantage of a barren soil, and an ungenial climate!' How remote this representation is from the truth may be readily inferred from the remarkable fact, that, notwithstanding the high price of labour, and the utter worthlessness, in most cases, of timber, the settler not only can always find persons willing to clear his land for him, on condition of having the first crop from it, but is considered as having made, if he resorts to this method, a very disadvantageous bargain, and much overpaid the labour. Nor can that be called an ungenial climate which brings to perfection, not only all the fruits of the earth which this country can boast, but others, which we are precluded from cultivating. We need only mention the maize or Indian-corn, which would be an invaluable acquisition to the British agriculturist, if our ordinary summers were sufficient to ripen it, from its producing on moderate soils an immense return, frequently above sixty bushels per acre, of a grain particularly serviceable in feeding all kinds of cattle and poultry, and furnishing several nutritious and not unpalatable articles of diet for man.
Strongly impressed with the importance of our Canadian possessions, and the desirableness of having some authentic and practical information respecting them as widely diffused as possible, we were much gratified with the appearance of the works whose titles are prefixed to this Article.
Mr. Grece's is evidently the production of a plain, sensible, practical man. He has manifestly no great skill or experience in authorship; but, what is much more important, he seems to possess those requisites in the subject of which he treats; and it is no slight recommendation to the greater part of his readers, and we may add, to his reviewers, that he seems altogether exempt from the ambition of making a book, and conveys his information briefly and plainly, with the air of a man who writes, not because he wants to say something, but because he has something to say.
As a Canadian, his statement of the comparative advantages of settling in his own country, and in the United States, will naturally be exposed to the suspicion of partiality: but those who will judge for themselves by a perusal of his book, cannot fail, we think, to be impressed with an appearance of candour and veracity;
and where he expresses himself the most strongly, he is borne out by the testimony of unexceptionable witnesses.
And now let us pursue our comparison of these and other advantages of the Canadas with those which are so pompously held out to settlers in the western territories of the United States.
"The difference as to distance, and the consequent expense of travelling, by sea and land, have already been sufficiently noticed; as also have the relative situations of the respective markets from the abodes of the growers in Canada and in the Ohio States, by which it has been shewn that in a much less time than a boat can pass between the Ohio country to the Orleans depôt, and return, might a ship make a voyage from Quebec to Europe or the West Indies, and return again to the Canadian port.
Let us suppose, however, that an emigrant has surmounted the perilous and expensive voyage from Europe to the western territory; on his arrival there what a host of difficulties, expenses, and inconveniences has he got to combat.
Perhaps, with a delicate wife and a family of children, he finds himself seated under a tree in the midst of a wild and trackless region, where not a single human face besides those of his own retinue can be seen; not a hut or a cabin can he behold; and the alluring stories he had been told about luxuriant natural meadows, called prairies, waiting only for the hand of the mower and a day's sun to be converted into food for his horses and cattle, turn out to have been lavished upon wide open fields of grass, towering as high as the first floor window of the comfortable house he has forsaken in Europe, and penetrating with its tough fibrous roots into the earth beyond the reach of the ploughshare, requiring the operation of fire ere the land can be converted to any useful purpose.
Under a burning sun, and with but little shelter from the foliage of trees, or the retreats of the forest, he has to dig wells ere he can quench his thirst, there being no cooling and refreshing springs! and although he may still hope that time will enable him to surmount all his difficulties, and reconcile his complaining, perhaps upbraiding, family to their isolated condition, his heart will be apt to sicken within him, especially when he finds that he must wander many miles in search of some one to assist him in the very commencement of his operations. At length, however, that assistance is procured; but of what species of beings does it consist ?-Alas! alas! they are those very unfortunate wretches whose degraded condition he has, while in Europe, learnt most humanely to commiserate.'—pp. 62-64.
There is much practical detail in Mr. Grece's book, which is calculated to be of great service to emigrants; the chief obstacle to whose success appears to be either the misapplication of their little capital, or the consumption of it in fruitless delays, while they are hesitating what spot to fix on, and what measures to adopt.
Emigrants intending to proceed to Upper Canada take their de
parture from Montreal to La Chine, a distance of nine miles. From thence they go to Prescot in boats, 111 miles. From thence there is a steam boat to Kingston, where there are other steam boats proceeding to York, the capital and seat of government for the Upper Province. After landing passengers, the boat proceeds to Queenstown, on the Niagara frontier. Between Queenstown and lake Erie there is a portage of eighteen miles. The total expense from Montreal is generally considered to amount to about five pounds each person.
Those who proceed farther take carriage past the portage, to avoid the Niagara falls, and embark in vessels on lake Erie for Amhurstburgh on the Detroit river. Few people, however, proceed that distance, except for curiosity: they generally concentrate themselves near market towns, where labourers are plentiful, and artificers are to be found to perform the different kinds of work that may be required. There are, nevertheless, many extensive settlements in the Erie country.
Those persons who wish to proceed to the Ottowa river will find a packet boat at La Chine, which leaves that place every Sunday morning, from May to November, for St. Andrew's and Carillion, being the foot of the rapids on that river, extending about nine miles. A steam boat is expected to ply between the head of these rapids and the river Rideau, the present summer, to carry goods and passengers to the Perth and Richmond settlements, where, during the summer of 1818, a road was made to communicate with the Ottowa. Another road has been made through the townships of Chatham, Grenville, the seigniory of the Petit Nation, the townships of Norfolk, Templeton, and Hull, forming a regular communication by land from the above settlement to Montreal and Kingston in Upper Canada.-pp. 51, 53.
'As every article of real utility, and even of luxury, can be easily procured in the Canadian cities, and that too at nearly as easy a rate as in London, emigrants need not expend their cash in goods for sale, but preserve as much specie as possible. The emigrant may, however, provide himself with such articles of clothing as are suitable to the climate viz. coarse Yorkshire cloth trowsers and round jacket, a long great coat, striped cotton shirts, and worsted stockings, with boots or high shoes. For the summer dress he may provide Russia-duck trowsers, and smock frock. He may also take out bed and bedding. Kitchen furniture may or may not be taken out; he might, however, include a few rough carpenters' tools. Axes, chains, hoes, and ploughs for new land, are made in Canada, better adapted to the work than can be had in any part of Europe.'-pp. 58-60.
The system of husbandry pursued in both the Canadas appears to be still very defective; a circumstance which ought to be taken into account by those who estimate the quality of the land from reports of the produce. We mean defective in comparison of what it might and should be under actual circumstances; for we are well aware that it would be absurd in the case of a new colony to draw our notions of a perfect system of husbandry from what is considered such in Great Britain. The ratios of the price of
an acre of land in a state of nature to that of a day's wages to a common labourer, in the two countries, may be taken on a rough estimate, in the one case, as more than two hundred to one, in the other, as something less than five to one; a difference which must in many points occasion à material distinction in the mode of agriculture which prudence would suggest in each. The want of capital also, under which most of the colonists labour, is an insurmountable obstacle to many improvements which would answer abundantly if they could be carried into effect: but there appears to be also, a great deficiency of skill; which indeed to any one who considers the materials of which colonies are generally composed, will by no means be matter of wonder.
Mr. Grece seems to have exerted himself very laudably, and not altogether unsuccessfully, for the improvement of his countrymen in this respect; his agricultural essays having attracted great and deserved attention.
How much the progress of Canadian agriculture would be accelerated by the diffusion of scientific knowledge, if not among the whole body of the farmers, at least among their leaders and instructors, may be conjectured from the following extract from the appendix to Mr. Grece's work, under the head Plaster of Paris.'
This valuable manure, almost unknown, though very easy to be obtained, merits the attention of every farmer; there is scarcely a farm in the Provinces but it might be applied to with advantage. The practice of nine years on the following soils and crops may suffice to prove its quality. On a piece of poor yellow loam, I tried three grain crops without success; with the last, which followed a hoe crop, I laid it down with barley: the return was little more than the seed. The grass seed took very well. In the month of May the following year, I strewed powder of plaster, at the rate of one minot and one peck to the arpent. In July, the piece of land being mowed, the quantity of grass was so great that it was not possible to find room to dry it on the land where it grew. The produce was five large loads of hay to the arpent. It continued good for five years. A trial was made with plaster on a piece of white clay laid down with clover and timothythe grass was very thin. After the plaster was strewed, it improved so much as to be distinguished from any other part of the field; the sixth year after, the field was broke up in the spring, and sowed with pease: the spot where the plaster had been put produced twice as much as any other part of the field. The haulm was of a deep green colour, nor were they affected with the drought, like the others on the part of the field where no plaster had been put. A trial was made on a strong loam; the crop, Indian corn, manured in the hills with old stable dung, lime, and plaster: the stable dung surpassed the other two, the Indian corn being finest where that was applied. In the spring of the following year, the field was ploughed and sowed with pease; where the
plaster and lime had been the year before, the pease were as strong again as in any other part of the field. I tried plaster on cabbages and turnips, but did not perceive any good effect. From the frequent trials of this manure on various soils, it is evident that it is applicable to both strong and light soils for top dressings of succulent plants.
'Method of reducing it.-Take an axe and break the stone to the size of a nut; then take a flat stone two feet diameter, and break it into powder with a wooden mallet. It must be reduced very fine; those that have an iron pestle and mortar can pound it expeditiously that way. Should plaster meet its deserved attention, it might give employment to people in the houses of correction to reduce it to powder for the use of the farmers, when no other objects of industry present themselves.
'In order to give an idea of the measure of a ton of plaster in stone, it will measure three feet square on the base and two feet two inches high, English measure. This is cited in order to assist persons that may wish to buy from the vessels going up the river, where weights cannot be had to weigh. That which is taken from the mine is best, and is of a silver grey colour; that from off the surface is red, and is of less value. A ton will produce fourteen minots of powder when broke; a man can break eighty pounds in one day, in a mortar of six inches diameter, in its natural state. Having a great deal to prepare for the spring of 1817, I had it broke about the size of a goose egg, and then put into the oven of a double stove; it remained about half an hour, after which a man could reduce two hundred and ten pounds in twelve hours, with a sledge hammer, pounding it on a flat stone. As this is an experiment, time must determine whether the heat diminishes its quality. -Facts, &c. pp. 147, 150.
A very slight knowledge of chemistry would have decided this important question, and led the Canadian farmers at once to the result which they will probably arrive at gradually by experiments, viz. that heat, abstracting nothing from the sulphate of lime, except its water, cannot lessen its value as a manure; and consequently, that its complete calcination, which renders it so friable as almost entirely to supersede the laborious process just described, would be the fittest preparation.* To any one who considers the great value of this manure, together with the high price of labour, and the cheapness of fuel in the newly settled districts, this single improvement will appear of incalculable importance.
Captain Stuart's book is in some respects recommended by the circumstance of its not being written by a Canadian. One who is familiar with a different state of society is at least the better qualified to convey to those similarly circumstanced a clear idea of the state of a new colony; besides that he may be expected, by
* Sir H. Davy is of opinion, that this substance is essential as a component part of many vegetables of the description which are usually called grass crops; and hence accounts for the extraordinary effects which in many cases it has produced.