THE resources of the country have already been referred to in the chapter on general description. Their importance, however, demands a more extensive treatment. Though the area, the climate, and geographical position of Canada afford room for a large prospective population, yet this can only be fully understood when the great richness in natural resources is taken into consideration. Vast extent and genial sunshine is not everything, otherwise the Sahara Desert would be a valuable possession. The area and location, however, united with a suitable climate and rich natural resources, are the true secret of a country’s greatness and the basis of her hopes for the future. What is the extent of our resources? is, therefore, a question of supreme importance, and presumably, of deep interest to all who are interested in this country.
Natural resources may be fully classified under four general departments, namely: Agriculture, forests, minerals and fisheries; the product of all of which enters largely into the commerce of the world. All nations are not blessed with this fourfold source of natural wealth. Some nations, indeed, manage to maintain a dense population and a high state of prosperity with only one. Take the case of the Netherlands, or Denmark, for instance. The inhabitants of these countries are almost wholly occupied in the pursuit of agriculture, outside of commercial centres. This is the one great national industry, and yet they are densely populated, prosperous and independent.
The resources of some other countries are chiefly confined to mining, and yet others to lumber or fish. It goes without saying, therefore, that the more varied the character of nature’s supply, the larger the degree of prosperity ought to, be. The country which has various forms of nature’s products certainly ought to have many advantages over the country confined to one or two. It is not necessary to say that Canada’s resources cover the whole scope as generalized above. So far as variety is concerned, then, Canada takes a foremost place. But what of the extent, distribution and richness of these various sources of national wealth? This also is a question of vital importance, and one to which we will now give our attention.