Canada – The Development Of The West

WESTERN Canada of today, embracing the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, has been well called ” The Land of Opportunity.” That is to say, for those who are prepared to adapt themselves to existing conditions. It is a ” hustling ” place, in marked contrast with when the Hudson’s Bay Company held sway. The Canadian Government officially encourages to proceed to Western Canada those only who purpose going on the land, and for such the attractions of Western Canada, as well as of Ontario, are unexcelled.

Manitoba is the most easterly of the three prairie provinces, and the smallest, having an area of 65,000 square miles, or a little more than the size of England and Wales. It is sometimes called ” the postage-stamp province,” owing to its square formation. A considerable part is made up of Lakes Winnipeg, Manitoba and Winnipegosis, these being noble stretches of water on its northern boundaries.

The eastern part has a broken surface, is heavily wooded and but sparsely settled. It is known to contain valuable minerals. It is computed that the province contains some twenty-seven million acres of arable land, only about one-sixth of which is now under the plough. These lands lie mainly in the western and southern portions. In the latter districts the prairie is, generally speaking, level, with clumps of timber following the courses of the rivers. In the west there is a more interesting country, of an undulating character, with frequent growths of poplar, elm and oak, and in the Riding and Duck Mountains there are timber reserves of an extensive character.

Much of the province is fully occupied, and has all the appearance of an established and well-developed agricultural country. The main lines of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and the Canadian Northern Railway pass through it, and send out branches in all directions, giving admirable transportation facilities to practically all the province, or at any rate to all the settled parts of it. The railways push out their branches and connections sometimes in advance of the settlers, and give a remarkably good service having regard to the age of the country.

With the assistance of the local government, telephones are installed not only in the towns but throughout the rural districts, whilst all the towns and many of the villages of the province are provided with electric light.

The product for which the province is justly famous is its ” hard wheat,” which is known in all the chief markets of the world. The deep rich loam, lying very generally upon a heavy clay subsoil, appears to contain the exact elements making for the production of the wheat so much prized by the millers. The way in which this soil retains its fertility is remarkable, and with reasonably good methods of farming it is practically inexhaustible. There are farms along the Red River in Manitoba that have been cropped for over a generation, and still produce heavy crops of ” No. 1 Hard.” The average yield of wheat per acre for the province in 1909 was about seventeen bushels, and the average price per bushel which it realised was eighty-seven cents. The cost of sowing, harvesting and marketing the grain has been estimated at six dollars per acre, and even assuming eighty-seven cents per bushel, as in 1909, to be a higher price than might be ordinarily expected still, when it is remembered that land can be purchased freehold for from eight dollars an acre upwards, the possibilities of profitable farming in Manitoba are seen to be excellent.