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May 10 1902


The Montreal Herald, Saturday, May 10, 1902

Development of the West

The settlement of the great Canadian West, which is likely to go on very rapidly during the next twenty years is destined to make great changed in the equilibrium--if I may use the expression--of the Dominion, changes of which we can hardly yet perceive the full impact. West of Lake Superior there are now in Canada perhaps 500 to 600 people against ten times as many east of it. The West therefore cuts but a small figure in the politics of the Dominion and what it receives in the shape of political favors is looked upon more as by way of bounty than of right. But when the West has two or three millions of people, and the day is not distant when it will attain that figure, its people will not be content to occupy any inferior position. The West is self-assertive and it will make itself heard. Canada has had Premiers from Ontario, from Quebec, and from the Maritime Provinces. Some of these days it may have a Western Premier, a true son of the prairie. When that time comes it is quite possible that the affairs of the Dominion may be viewed through a different medium and that some interests which are now regarded as important may look smaller to the Western men than they do to us.

The Western Type

What will the new Western man be like? For we must expect a new type of man to appear in the West. The Western man of to-day was born in the East and although his life in the West has changed him he still retains kindly recollections of the East. But his children and his grandchildren will be true Westerners with no sentimental attachments to the East and looking at Eastern interests from a purely practical point of view. His tastes and ideals of life will be necessarily different from ours, for the man of the Western prairie will have never seen a forest, a running brook or a spring of water. The ocean to him will be unknown, and an apple orchard a stranger to his eyes. A great many of those things which we in the East admire and love will have no place in his life. If man is affected by his environments, and we know that he is, then the new Western man will be a very distant person from the man of the East. Just what he will be remains to be soon but I doubt whether the West will develop a higher civilization or broader views than the East can show.

Echoes of the Award

The recent utterances of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in the House of Commons in regard to the claims of the Maritime Provinces and Quebec to the Halifax Fishery Award we interpreted by some to mean that he does not hold these claims to be of much account. I do not think the Premier intended his words to be taken in that sense. He simply said that no agreement had been made to refer them to arbitration. That no doubt is true enough, but there is little doubt that before long these claims will be arbitrated upon. The Province of Quebec is interested in them and I understand that all the provinces interested are moving together in this matter. No doubt the Government will offer every facility for the settlement of this question, which involves so many considerations. An arbitration tribunal would be better fitted to dispose of the whole matter than a court of laws, because it would be competent to take into consideration questions of off-set favorable to the Dominion Government. For instance, if the province brought a suit against the Dominion Government in the Exchequer Court for the payment to them of the Halifax award with interest on the ground that the fisheries belonged to them and not to the Dominion, I doubt whether the payment of bounties to fisherman could be considered as an offset in reduction of this claim. But a court of arbitration might allow for all the expenditure incurred by the Dominion on account of the fisheries and reduce the claims of the province in this way.

Value of the Fisheries

Few people, except those who have given the matter some attention, have any adequate conception of the value of the fisheries of Canada. We hear much about the Scotch fisheries, but their value is not now half as great as the fisheries of Canada. The value of all the fish caught in Canada in 1870 was $6,877,891. In 1900 the value has risen to $21,555,639. This is an enormous increase and there is a good ground for believing that this increase will continue. The growth may not be as rapid in the future as it has been in the past but it will be steady. The Canadian fisheries employ 1,212 vessels and 38,930 boats manned by 81,064 men, while the British fisheries employ 115,000 men. The Canadian lobster canneries employ 18,205 persons. The amount of capital invested in the fisheries of Canada, including the value of the vessels, boats, nets, seines, and other fishing material is $10,990,125. The value of the fish exported from Canada in the year 1901 was $10,720,352. This is as large a sum as the value of the fish exported from Great Britain and Ireland in an average year. Nova Scotia is the greatest fishing province; the value of its catch will average upward of $7,000,000 annually that of New Brunswick $4,000,000, Quebec $1,850,000; Prince Edward Island $1,000,000, British Columbia 4,800,000. These figures show how valuable and important our Canadian fisheries are and what a loss Canada would suffer if they failed.

The Americans and Our Fisheries

The fishing grounds of Canada have always been looked upon with something like envy by our good friends to the south of us. In the old colonial days, prior to the American Revolution the fisherman of New England were accustomed to fish freely on our coasts and by the Treaty of Peace made in 1783 this right has continued to them. They forfeited it by the war of 1812 and a new treaty or convention made in 1812 put the fisheries upon their present footing. An American fisherman can catch fish in Canadian waters, such as the Gulf of St. Lawrence, outside of the three-mile limit, but he cannot land his fish in a Canadian port for the purpose of being sent to market. This places the Americans at a considerable disadvantage, notwithstanding the protection he enjoys as the result of a high duty on fish. There was a time when the United States were much ahead of Canada in the character and equipment of their fishing vessels but this is no longer the case. The Gloucester fisherman, once the model for all fishing craft is now equaled if not surpassed by the fisherman of Lunenburg and La Have. These two places own 150 fishing vessels averaging 80 tons each and manned by 2,500 hardly fisherman and there are no finer vessels or better men to be found anywhere.

The First Fishing Settlement

History repeats itself. It is worthy of note that La Have, now an important seat of the fishery industry, was the first fishing settlement of ancient Acadia. It was known to Champlain who explored that coast in 1604 and who gave La Have its name, but fishermen from France had been there long before to gather the harvest of the sea. La Have was colonized by the Commander Isaac de Reazilly in 1632 under the authority of the French king and the colonists who then settled there were the ancestors of the Acadian people of the present day. The Acadian families of Bourgeois, Gaudet, Hebert, Blanchard, Terrian, Thibeaudeau, Boudrot, Landry, Doucet, Girouard, Carmier, Richard, Robichan and many others were all represented at La Have. These La Have colonists were afterwards removed from Port Royal, which was better suited to agriculture, but the fishermen still continued to carry on their business there as they do at the present day. De Razilly [sic] built a fort a La Have, the site of which can still be recognized, but which has long since fallen into decay.

Preserving Antiquities

Some one in Parliament has been advocating the preservation of those old historic shrines of Canada where the founders of the Dominion lived, and toiled and fought, and there is no doubt much to be said in favor of this view. It may be that the old forts of Canada are too numerous to be cared for by the Government but the more important ones might well receive more attention than they do. Certainly there is no excuse for the conduct of the late government, which sold the cannon of Fort Cumberland, the ancient Beausejour, for old iron, to a junk dealer. Such conduct showed an utter incapacity to understand those sentiments, which go into the making of a nation and it is truly surprising that any Canadian public man should be found so ignorant of the feelings of his countrymen as to sanction such vandalism. The present government of Canada may be trusted to deal more tenderly with the places where so much of our history was made. Unfortunately some of our most ancient sites have become lost forever to the student of history. Who would not be rejoiced to be able to identify exactly the site of the ancient Indian town of Hochelaga, which was visited by Jacques Cartier in 1535. The site of the first fort erected in Montreal by Maisonneuve is known but it is now dedicated to the uses of commerce. Old Fort Latour at St. John, N.B. which claims an even greater antiquity is covered with houses and many other old forts have so utterly disappeared that their sites in dispute.

Champlain's Fort Lost to Canada

It is to be regretted that Champlain's first Acadian fort, which dates back to the year 1604, is no longer the property of Canada. Doucet's Island in the St. Croix River, where Champlain made his first settlement has become a part of the United States under the decision, which held that the main channel of St. Croix River was east of Doucet's Island. The island itself contains about twelve or thirteen acres of land and has changed but little since the day when Champlain abandoned it to seek a more congenial home at Port Royal. St. Croix Island, although, occupies for less than a year became the grave yard of almost half the first Acadian settlement for out of seventy-nine persons who composed it thirty-five died during the winter. They were seized with a mysterious illness apparently the same as that which attacked Jacques Cartier's men at Quebec during the winter of 1535-6. Cartier lost twenty-five men out of one hundred and ten, but the disease was checked by the use of an Indian remedy, a concoction of the leaves and bark of a tree, which is believed to have been the white pine. Champlain had no such help and therefore the mortality among his men was much greater.

Perhaps some medical man may be able to inform The Herald what this mysterious disease was. Its symptoms, as described by Champlain were as follows: "It originated in the mouth of those who have a large amount of flabby and superfluous flesh and causing a bad pulverfaction, which increases to such an extent that they can scarcely take anything unless it is almost entirely liquid. The teeth become quite loose and they can be extracted by the fingers without causing any pain. The superfluity of this flesh requires to be cut away and this causes a violent bleeding from the mouth.

They are afterwards seized with a great pain in the legs and arms, which swell up and become very hard, all marked as if bitten by fleas, and they are unable to walk from the contraction of the nerves, so that they have no strength left, and suffer the most intolerable pain. They have also pains in loins, stomach and intestines, a very bad cough and shortness of breathing, in short, they are in such a state, the greater part of those seized with the complaint can neither raise nor move themselves, and if they attempt to stand erect, they fall down senseless, so that of seventy-nine of us thirty-five died and more than twenty barely escaped death."


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