The products of the forest have ever meant much to mankind, and they must continue to contribute in increased measure to his necessities and comfort.
Apart from the commercial value of forest products, their existence in any country is of untold importance as conservators of moisture, and hence as exerting important influences on the climate and products of the soil. This is indicated amply by the conditions which prevail in South Africa, India, Australia, and large portions of the United States. Not only have the inhabitants of a treeless country to import at great cost lumber for all necessary uses, and forego the advantages of the various industries depending thereon, but they are compelled also to suffer from the sterility of the soil caused by the lack of moisture and insufficient rainfall.
The whole eastern section of the Dominion, as far north as the centre of the Labrador Peninsula, and as far west as the eastern boundary of Manitoba, is a forest region. This is also true of the: western section of the Dominion, from the international boundary, in eastern British Columbia, to the mouth of the Mackenzie River. This section has a length of about fifteen hundred miles and a breadth of some six hundred miles, for the most part an unbroken forest. These two great forest sections of the Dominion are united by a belt of forest country running north-westerly between the prairie regions in the central west and the treeless regions of the north ; this belt is about equal in extent to either of the other sections. In other words, it may be said, with the exception of the prairies in the valleys of the Red and Saskatchewan Rivers and the northern barren grounds, that Canada is an entirely forested country. Of course, portions of these forests, especially from Ontario eastward, have given way to the development of agriculture, yet the deforested portions are scarcely appreciable when compared with the whole. The great forests of the country have just been touched in the merest way as yet, and are still practically in their virgin and primitive completeness.
The forests of Canada include a very great variety of woods, both deciduous and evergreen, a large number of which are of much commercial value. Among the deciduous varieties are oak, elm, birch of various kinds, maple in a number of varieties, ash, balsam, poplar, butternut, hickory, walnut and many others of less importance.
Among the evergreens the most important are the various varieties of pine, spruce and fir, notably the celebrated Douglas pine of British Columbia, also cedar, juniper and hemlock.
The products of Canadian forests annually are valued at many millions of dollars, but the present output is not a tithe of what they are capable of yielding. It is no vain boast, therefore, to say that no country in the world is so magnificently furnished with this profitable form of natural wealth. This is generally conceded, as the following may indicate: ” The forest wealth of Canada is greater than that of any other country. The total area of the timber land is nearly twice that of Russia, the next rival, and likewise nearly twice that of the United States, which stands next and nearly equal to Russia. Ontario is the leading province in the export of timber, and sends the greater part of its product to the United States in the shape of planks, boards, logs and shingles. Quebec ships most of its product to Great Britain, exporting spruce and other lumber, pine deals and white pine timber. New Bruns-wick stands third in exports. The resources of the other provinces are comparatively little developed, although British Columbia possesses the largest compact timber reserves in the world, only a fringe of which has been cut. The Pacific Coast is heavily timbered as far north as Alaska, and it is estimated that the Douglas pine, cedar, spruce, Alaska pine, etc., along the railway line, are worth $25,000,000. There are also vast areas of undeveloped wood land in the entire north of the Do-minion, from Quebec to the Pacific Coast, a large proportion of which is almost wholly unexplored.”
The Commercial, an American paper, says : ” Canada seems destined to become the greatest supply depot of the world, especially for pulpwood.” The late Erastus Wiman, a man not interested in giving Canada any undue credit, said: ” In timber Canada possesses a wealth of very great importance to the United States. When the wide stretches of treeless prairies which this country contains are recalled, and the rapidly disappearing forests within the United States, it is with a sense of satisfaction that one turns to the northern half of the continent containing, as it does, the finest forests and the greatest supply of this most essential element of human protection and comfort. Within the catalogue of the woods of Canada there are sixty-five species of forest trees, including nineteen of the pine family, while the space covered by timber within the Dominion is something enormous. Excepting the great triangular prairie east of the Rocky Mountains, lying between the United States boundary and a line drawn from the ‘Red River to the Upper Peace River, the whole of Canada up to the northern limit of the growth of trees presents one vast forest area, except where it has been cleared by the hand of man. It is needless to further dilate upon the enormous value which this area is to the south. It is sufficient to say that the source of supply, within the next hundred years, for the progress of the United States, lies largely within the Dominion, and that no estimate of wealth on the one hand, or of advantage or possible convenience on the other, is possible so far as the United States is concerned.”