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Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Canada

Canada. The Dominion of Canada is a Federal Union, constituted by the "British North America Act, 1867," passed by the Imperial Parliament, and embodying a scheme devised by colonial statesmen as the result of conferences held during the two previous years. The plan was suggested by a proposed confederation of the maritime provinces. The Federation was proclaimed officially on July 1,1867. The original members were Upper and Lower Canada (since called Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Provision was made for the admission of other provinces, and British Columbia and Prince Edward's Island were admitted in 1871 and 1873 respectively. The Hudson's Bay territories were purchased in 1869 from the Hudson's Bay Company. Manitoba (q.v.), formerly the Red River Settlement, was formed of part of this and admitted in 1870. Newfoundland has never joined the Confederation. Five districts, Keewatin, Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Athabasca, have been formed out of the northwest territories, but there is still a large remainder of unorganised, and almost uninhabited, country. The parliamentary system is similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom, the Crown being represented by a Governor-General, and the Dominion Legislature of two chambers. The Upper, or Senate, consists of eighty members nominated for life; the qualification is the possession of property to the value of 4,000 dollars. The Lower, or House of Commons, consists of 215 members at present, the representation of the province of Quebec being fixed at sixty-five members, while the rest of the Dominion is represented in the proportion of one member for every 20,000 inhabitants. The number, now 215, will shortly require a slight readjustment, according to the 1891 census. Except in the N.W. territories, the franchise is based on a small property qualification, income from earnings being taken into account. The executive consists of the Governor-General and a cabinet or council of fifteen members. There is, of course, party government on the English system. The provincial legislatures usually consist of two chambers, a Legislative Council and a Legislative Assembly, with a responsible ministry. Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia have only one chamber. There are slight differences in the franchise in the different provinces. The extreme term of their parliaments is fixed at four years. Local legislation on most subjects belongs to them. There is also a very complete system of local government. The only Dominion courts are the Supreme Court, with a Chief Justice and five other judges, and a Court of Exchequer (for revenue cases), with one judge. The Supreme Court exercises appellate jurisdiction from the provincial courts, both civil and crirninal.

Physical Features. The Dominion contains the whole of the North American continent north of the United States, with the exception of Alaska (q.v.). Its total area is about 3,500,000 square miles, or about half that of North America. The eastern coast-line is very deeply indented, Nova Scotia in particular being almost separated from the mainland by the Bay of Fundy with its prolongations, while Cape Breton and Prince Edward's Island lie close to its N. coast. There are also numerous small bays. The St. Lawrence is upwards of 30 miles wide at its mouth, and the coast of Labrador is also considerably indented. The extreme north of the continent is geographically a mass of islands scarcely explored, except as to their coast-line, and inhabited only by wandering Esquimaux. The deep inlet of Hudson's Bay, and its prolongation, James's Bay, penetrate the land deeply, the latter to a point about 300 miles from Lake Superior, while the mouth of the Nelson river on the W. coast of the former is almost half-way between the Atlantic and the Pacific, and only about 200 miles from the N. end of Lake Winnipeg. The distance between this point and Liverpool is less than that between Liverpool and New York. A railway connecting it with Winnipeg is contemplated, and hopes are entertained of opening up direct trade for four or five months in the year at some future date, but there is still some doubt as to the commercial value of the route, which was surveyed and favourably reported on by H.M.S. Alert in 1884. The Pacific coast-line is very deeply indented with winding fjords, resembling those of Norway, but on a far grander scale, and between higher mountains. Vancouver's Island at the extreme S., separated from the mainland by Queen Charlotte's Sound and the Strait of San Juan del Fuca, is by far the most important of the many islands which fringe the coast. The maritime provinces, with that part of Quebec which is S. of the St. Lawrence, may be described as a mass of hill ranges, the prolongation of the Appalachian chain. Mainly the land is forest, but occasionally there are fair stretches of arable and grazing land. The bulk of Ontario is greatly undulating, and usually fertile country, broken occasionally by abrupt terrace-like changes in level, one of which occasions Niagara Falls. Its N. boundary is the Laurentian Mountains, or (very roughly) a line drawn due W. from Quebec to Lake Huron. Its only mountains are a few isolated trap hills near Montreal. At the N.E. end of Lake Ontario it is encroached on by the rock-formations of the area north of it. This area is hilly, with so large a number of lakes and rivers that tolerably direct canoe communication is possible with only short portages between almost any two points in it, or by many routes between the St. Lawrence and the Arctic Ocean. The summits range from 1,000 to 2,000 ft. West of long. 96° W. there is a great prairie region, narrowing gradually towards the W., but 400 miles wide even at the Arctic Ocean, and extending to about 114° W. at the United States boundary. North of the Saskatchewan, however, this plain is covered by coniferous forest. This rises in three successive steppes towards the N.W.; terraces which mark their boundaries being survivals of the shores of a great lake or arm of the sea. The highest of these steppes is much cut up; the lowest, about Winnipeg, is described as a shallow trough, extending into Minnesota. West of this again are the Rocky Mountains.

Lakes and Rivers. The St. Lawrence, with the lakes from Lake Superior onwards, may be regarded as a continuous stream 2,500 miles long. The St. Lawrence proper, beginning at the Thousand Islands (really about 2,000 in number) at the outlet of Lake Ontario, receives numerous tributaries, chief among them the Ottawa, 780 miles long; the St. Maurice, 300 miles long at Lake St. Peter near Quebec; and the Saguenay, which for 70 miles upward from its mouth at Tadousac is a mile wide, and runs between perpendicular cliffs 1,500 ft. high. The Red River, 600 miles long, rises in United States territory. The Assiniboine, its chief tributary, joins it 40 miles above Lake Winnipeg, the city of Winnipeg being at their junction. The Saskatchewan is formed by two great branches which rise a short distance apart in the Rocky Mountains, and, after numerous windings, meet 550 miles from their source, the river reaching Lake Winnipeg some 280 miles farther, and then falling into Hudson's Bay. Besides the great lakes on the course of the St. Lawrence, there are Lake Winnipeg, 300 miles long, Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, Lake Nepigon, and others between Lake Winnipeg and Superior. The lakes of Canada number thousands, chiefly in the region N. of the St. Lawrence. The Fraser, Columbia, and Peace rivers are the chief streams of British Columbia (q.v.).

Climate. Though Canada reaches as far south as the latitude of Rome, the influence of Arctic currents makes it far colder than Central Europe. The Pacific coast, indeed, owing to the warm Pacific winds, is 25 per cent. warmer than the Atlantic coast at the same latitude, and its climate is as mild as that of Southern England. At Esquimault the maximum temperature is 85° F., the minimum 48° F. The mean temperature of S. Manitoba is 60° F., with a warm, somewhat rainy, summer, and fine autumn. The minimum temperature in parts of N. Manitoba is 30° to 40° below zero F. At Toronto the maximum is 95° F., and the minimum 16° below zero F. At Montreal the minimum is about 6° below zero F. The great lakes, which are seldom frozen except near shore, considerably influence the climate. Its dryness (except in the maritime provinces) makes the extremes of heat and cold far more bearable than those of an English winter, and the brilliant sunshine, clear sky, and bracing air give a Canadian, winter a special charm.

Population. The totals.of the three last censuses were: 1871, 3,635,024; 1881, 4,324,810; 1891, 4,833,239. The 1891 census, which caused much disappointment, showed an increase of 11.74 per cent. over the last census, as compared with 18.97 per cent. of the previous decade. Westward of Ontario the population nearly doubled between 1881 and 1891, but the maritime provinces are stationary. The figures indicate a movement to the towns, and apparently to the United States. In 1881 four-fifths of the population were natives of British North America, and nearly 1,300,000 were French "habitants," i.e. French Canadians. More than two-thirds of the immigrants had come from the United Kingdom. In 1898 the leading cities were: Montreal, 216,000 inhabitants; Toronto, 81,220; Quebec, 63,000; St. John, 39,179; Halifax, 38,000; Winnipeg, 25,642. About 124,000 Indians in all are settled on reserves, and 6,000 Indian children are at school. Roughly, about a fourth of the Indians are W. of the Rocky Mountains. There has never been an Indian difficulty in Canada similar to those which have disgraced United States history. The N.W. territories were duly bought by treaty in exchange for allotments, and an annual payment to each Indian concerned.

There is no state church in Canada, though in Quebec certain payments of church rates are compulsory for Roman Catholics. The Church of England has 19 bishops, 1,000 clergy, and about 646,000 members, and the Roman Catholic Church, a cardinal, 5 archbishops, 18 bishops, about 1,200 priests, and nearly 2,000,000 members; the Presbyterians number 754,000, the Methodists nearly 539,000 members. These numbers are those of the census of 1891.

Education was free and compulsory in the old province of Canada as early as 1846, and is now so throughout the Dominion. The schools are maintained by local rates and grants from the provincial and Dominion governments. Where necessary there are different state-aided schools for different religions. There are public higher grade schools with very low fees, and eleven universities and colleges, besides theological colleges.

The revenue of the Dominion in 1896 amounted to 36,618,590 dollars, and the expenditure to 36,949,142 dollars. More than half the revenue was derived from Customs duties. The total public debt (nett) on July 1st, 1896, was 258,497,432 dollars.

Defence. Halifax is the only place garrisoned by Imperial troops. But there is a provincial militia of 40,000 men, recruited by voluntary enlistment, and called out for a few days' training annually. There is also a small regular army of 1,000 men, comprising all arms, and a royal (military college for cadets at Kingston. In the N.W. territories there is a mounted police force of 50 officers and 1,000 men. The police elsewhere (except in a few ports) is under the municipal authority. There is a small Dominion force also at Ottawa.

Railways. There are now about 16,000 miles open, of which 5,816 miles belonged to the Canadian Pacific, 3,114 to the Grand Trunk, and 1,227 to the Intercolonial. The total capital is 894,000,000 dollars, of which nearly one-fourth has been contributed by the Dominion, or by the various provincial and local governments. Over 13,000 passengers and over 21,000,000 tons of freight were carried in 1895. The Canadian Pacific railway main line from Montreal to Vancouver is 2,906 miles long.

Canals have been constructed to assist the exports of the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa, and from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario (the Welland canal) to avoid Niagara Falls. The lakes into which the St. Lawrence expands have also been sufficiently dredged to permit the largest ocean steamers to reach Montreal, and canals connect Lake Champlain with the St. Lawrence, and Kingston with Lake Ontario. Vessels of 1,500 tons can pass through the Welland canal. The dues are low, and everything is done to facilitate navigation and compete with the Erie Canal route to the Atlantic.

The shipping of the Dominion at the end of 1895 comprised 7,262 vessels of a tonnage of 919,162.

The standard money is the dollar of 100 cents, the usual rate of exchange being 4s. per dollar. The par value of the sovereign is fixed by law at 4 dollars 86-2/3 cents. American money circulates freely. There are private bank notes and small notes issued by the government. The weights and measures are those of England, except that the cwt. and ton are 100 and 2,000 lbs. respectively, as in the United States.

Mineral wealth. There are large deposits of coal in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, some seams being 30 feet thick; on the coast of British Columbia, and in a region 150 to 200 miles broad, and running 1,000 miles N. and S. at the E. base of the Rocky Mountains. Lignite is also plentiful there. Gold is found in Nova Scotia, and in British Columbia, where large fields are yet unworked. Iron is found in many parts of the Dominion; some of its ores are among the best known. Copper is worked in Quebec and Ontario, and on the N. of Lake Superior; silver in Ontario; salt chiefly at Goderich, on Lake Huron; there are large petroleum wells in Ontario, and much is known to exist near the Rocky Mountains. Phosphate of lime, a valuable fertiliser, is found in quantities in the Ottawa Valley. Antimony (in New Brunswick), gypsum, asbestos, and nickel are also said to occur in large quantities. The mineral wealth of Canada, indeed, seems extraordinary, and as yet is comparatively little worked. There is a great variety of marble and building-stone.

Forests. Essentially the Dominion is a forest country, with the exception of the S. part of the prairie region of Manitoba and parts of Ontario. On the coast of Hudson Bay and Labrador the trees are chiefly conifers, with some white birch and poplar. In the interior are the "mixed forests" of some sixty or seventy kinds of trees, and forty or fifty of shrubs. Black walnut, butternut, button wood, the sugar maple of the St. Lawrence valley, chestnut, birch, dogwood, sassafras, huge oaks and elms, maybe mentioned as prominent trees. With the sugar maple the wild vine is often associated. On the S. of Hudson Bay the Banksian pine reaches 100 feet in height. British Columbia has forests of the giant Douglas pine and red cedar, which are next in magnitude to the Wellingtonia or sequoia of California.

Fisheries. In 1895 the products sold were over 20,000,000 dollars in value, but almost every inhabitant is within reach of fishing of some sort, and a large part of the produce is reserved for home consumption, which is roughly estimated at 13,000,000 dollars more. The principal fish caught are: Cod, value (in 1895) 3,600,000 dollars; herring, 2,630,000 dollars; salmon, (in 1895) over 3,700,000 dollars; while the catch of whitefish, trout, and several other fish is in value half a million to a million of dollars each. The value of the lobsters caught was about 2,260,000 dollars. The fisheries employ over 61,000 men, and the boats, nets, etc., represent a capital of about 4,500,000 dollars. Including weirs, etc., the total plant is valued at 6,800,000 dollars.

Animal Produce. In 1895 over 9,000,000 dollars worth of live cattle were exported, £1,300,000 worth being sent to Great Britain. Over 1,000,000 dollars worth of sheep and horses were also exported (1895). Dairy farming is extensively carried on, the farmers taking their milk to butter and cheese factories. The value of the cheese exported to the United Kingdom has risen from £2,382,265 in 1892 to more than £2,900,421 in 1895. Bee-keeping and poultry-raising are growing industries, and the latter has a great future before it.

The great feature of the aqriculture is, of course, the wheat grown on the fertile prairies of the N.W., and in parts of Ontario. The grain is of the very highest quality, and the trade capable of indefinite development. Canadian oats, barley, and rye, have no superiors. Indian corn, though far less grown in Canada than in the United States, is raised in Ontario, and though not a staple may become so. The total wheat crop in 1891 was estimated at 42,000,000 bushels; that of all grain in 1881 was returned at 650,000,000 bushels. The total value of the agricultural produce exported in 1888 was 15,719,000 dollars.

Manufactures. The census of 1891 specifies agricultural implements, boots and shoes, furniture, distilling, engine-building, rolling-mills, oil refineries, paper making, sugar refining, shipbuilding, and food preserving as among the more important industries. Saw mills, flour mills, and tanneries head the list. Most of the other branches of manufacture have been stimulated, if not called into existence, by a policy of protection to native industry.

History. In 1534 Jacques Cartier sailed up the St, Lawrence, in 1540 he conducted 200 colonists to the country under Jacques de Roberval. Canada (the Indian word for huts) was assumed by the French to be the native name of the country. In 1603 Champlain made a permanent settlement on the St. Lawrence, and Quebec was founded; Montreal following shortly after. The new settlement was modelled on the French feudal system, there being seigneurs with special manorial rights, and tenants liable to military service. In 1625 a Jesuit mission was established, which carried Christianity across the continent and even to California. In 1662 the French Company, which had hitherto held the country, resigned its charter to the king; the colony made rapid progress, and that marked national feeling began which is still visible in Quebec. In 1757 the war just begun between England and France was carried into Canada. The English at first suffered severely, but Wolfe took Quebec in 1759, Montreal surrendered next year, and the English acquired Canada. It remained under military government till 1774, when, to gain the support of the French Canadians in the impending struggle with the American Colonists, the English permanently established the French land law and the Roman Catholic Church in the present province of Quebec. Canada was now governed from England, but when numerous loyalists migrated to what is now Ontario, after the American revolution, Upper Canada, west off the Ottawa river, was made a distinct province,. Quebec being called Lower Canada. Each province had a distinct representative government on the English model, with the important exception that the ministry was responsible only to the Crown, and there was constant discontent and friction. In the war of 1812, however, the American troops were unable to gain Canada, but in 1837 discontent with English interference produced a rebellion. This was speedily suppressed, and Lord Durham, who was sent out as governor, advised the granting of self-government, which was done (though the proposal had excited much indignation in England) in 1840. Since then the country has been continuously tranquil and prosperous, though there have been long and bitter party conflicts. Much to advance Canada was done by Lord Elgin and under his governorship (1847-1854). The capital was moved to Ottawa in 1857. The Red River rebellion at Winnipeg (checked by Lord Wolseley) in 1869, the adoption of a "National Policy" by Sir John Macdonald in 1879, the Riel rebellion in Manitoba in 1886, the opening of the Pacific Railway, and the signing of the fisheries treaty (q.v.) in 1888, have been the leading events of recent history.

The Dominion, as a whole, is a remarkable instance of a national unity constituted by artificial means, in the face of great geographical difficulties, by a policy of lavish subsidies to railways, etc., and stimulation of industry by protective duties. Whether it can be lasting remains to be seen. This policy seems to have favoured the growth of a considerable degree of corruption in the Civil Service and among public men (1891), and a party in Canada is strongly in favour of commeieial (to be followed in time by political) union with the United States. But the difficulties of this union are very considerable from the point of view of the United States politician, and there is a strong feeling in the Dominion of loyalty to the Crown.

“At the least whosoever has the spirit of Christ, shall find that spirit in him striving against that which is contrary, and by little and little gaining ground. Where there is no conflict, there is no spirit of Christ at all.”
–Richard Sibbes, Description of Christ