Supposing I were able by some magical power to pile up a glittering heap of golden nuggets, just such a pile as was to be seen at the Glasgow Exhibition, and I would say to you, ” This pile of gold has come from a certain country, would you not like to go and live in that country ?” Your first inclination would be probably, “Why, yes, any country that produces gold in that abundance must be a magnificent country to live in.” That heap of gold was labelled “Yukon.” Gold is a good thing to advertise a country, and it has been used with magnificent effect to advertise Canada, but when we say that gold came from the Yukon, you can see that gold does not necessarily indicate a fine country to live in. We will take that gold away and pile up wheat. Then I will say to you, ” All this wheat has come from such and such a country, would you not like to live in that country ?” You reply, ” Why, yes, a country that would grow wheat like that must be a grand country to live in.” Well, that wheat came from the treeless prairies of North Americaaway out on the boundless, solitary, treeless prairiesor perhaps it came from some of the rich prairie land of South America, or perhaps it came from some of those unattractive rich bottom lands of Russia. You come to the conclusion that a country may grow wheat to perfection, but may not be an attractive place to live in. Now we take the wheat away, and bring here an assortment of fat bullocks and sheep. You look at them and say, ” A country that produces those must be a rich country ; surely that country must be a fine country to live in.” Well, we say that these have come from some unheard-of section of Australia, or perhaps from the Argentine Republic in South America ; and you say, ” A country may be able to produce magnificent animals like that, and yet be unattractive as a home.” But if, in place of that we put before you an array of fruit, and in addition to magnificent-looking apples we add peaches, and pears, and grapes and flowers of all kinds, I think you will all admit at once that a country that will produce fruit so attractive in appearance, and so delicious in flavor, must be a grand country to live in, no matter where it is. That is why Canadians feel it so important to put before the people of other countries, not simply our gold as an . attraction, not simply our wheat, not simply our cattle, and horses, and sheep and swine, but first and foremost, to place before them the fruits of the country, knowing full well that the old saying, ” By their fruits ye shall know them,” has in this connection a significance that does not belong to gold, or wheat, or live stock.
It is true that a country which produces fruit has raised itself far above the level of a country which simply digs gold out of the ground, or a country which simply produces wheat to feed the world, and far above a country which has its great flocks and herds. A country that has a large and important class of fruit growers in its midst has already assumed a very high position as an agricultural or productive nation. And so, when you come in contact with the horticulture of this country and with its fruit-growing, you are coming in contact, not with the lower levels of our agricultural production, but with the higher levels, and you have only to come in contact with a few of the men who are concerned in it; or have the privilege of attending the conventions of the Ontario Fruit Growers’ Association to know that what I am saying is more than true. I will guarantee that there cannot be found in the Province of Ontario any association of men in connection with our great city industries or in connection with our professional lines who will canvass more thoroughly the questions with which they are vitally concerned, or do the work of their conventions more thoroughly than the. Fruit Growers. This Association is very old ; it is the oldest we have in connection with the Ontario Department of Agriculture. It began in the year 1859, before the Province began, and has been the forerunner of all other associations.
I would like to see a great many of those young men who are just on the threshold of life, wondering what they are going to dogive a careful consideration to this question of horticulture as a pursuit for a bright and industrious young man. Do you want to see some of the ideal homes in this country? I would simply ask you to go to the fruit-growing regions of the Province of Ontario. Have you ever been around Burlington Bay and through the Niagara district ? Have you ever been up around the shores of the Georgian Bay ? Have you ever been down in the county of Prince Edward ? I will not say that you will find there the wealthiest homes in the Province of Ontario to-day ; I will not say that you will find there men who have nothing to do, and families that are living in luxury and at ease ; but I will say this, that in some of those sections where fruit-growing is being made a specialty, and where they are working -along the best lines, you will find more social success, more home happiness, more true, genuine home comforts on the average than anywhere else in the Province of Ontario. Now, if that is what you are after, a good living with a good time, accompanied, of course, by good, earnest hard work, and work that is mental as well as physical, then I say that horticulture presents a most attractive opening for the young men of this Province ; and if we could only turn into agriculture and horticulture a good deal of the energy that is now going into our towns and cities, if a great many of the men who are bound to make millionaires of themselves, and have very little idea of what stress and discomfort is ahead of them in thatif we could only turn a large number of these out into the country towards the fruit farms, and the dairy farms, and build up that part of our country, I would not give one moment’s thought or consideration to the question of the building up of our towns or cities, because just as soon as we can produce fruits, butter and cheese in sufficient quantity, and of the highest quality that will satisfy the discriminating taste of the Old Country people, so soon will the success of this country be assured. A few apples may seem a very small thing, and a Fruit Growers’ Association may not appear so important as an Association -of Bankers or some other financiers, but if it were not for associations of this kind there would be no necessity for Bankers’ Associations. On investigation we will find that after all it is upon the apple barrel .and the cheese box that the true prosperity of this country is based. It is not a question of whether we are going to find more gold in the Yukon or not, but if we can go on producing and improving our fruits and dairy products we will be helping to develop that which is after all the true basis of the prosperity of this country.