Pre-Cambrian Shield Theory, Canada and the Canadian Question by Goldwin Smith

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Date: 1973

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Pre-Cambrian Shield Theory, Canada and the Canadian Question by Goldwin Smith

Whoever wishes to know what Canada is, and to understand the Canadian question, should begin by turning to the political and natural map. The political map displays a vast and unbroken area of territory, extending from the boundary of the United States up to the North Pole, and equalling or surpassing the United States in magnitude. The physical map displays four separate projections of the cultivable and habitable part of the Continent into arctic waste. The four vary greatly in size, and one of them is very large. They are, beginning from the east, the Maritime Provinces—Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island; Old Canada, comprising the present Provinces of Quebec and Ontario; the newly-opened region of the North-West, comprising the Province of Manitoba and the Districts of Alberta, Athabasca, Assiniboia, and Saskatchewan; and British Columbia. The habitable and cultivable parts of these blocks of territory are not contiguous, but are divided from each other by great barriers of nature, wide and irreclaimable wildernesses or manifold chains of mountains. The Maritime Provinces are divided from Old Canada by the wilderness of many hundred miles through which the Intercolonial Railway runs, hardly taking up a passenger or a bale of freight by the way. Old Canada is divided from Manitoba and the North-West by the great freshwater sea of Lake Superior, and a wilderness on either side of it. Manitoba and the North-West again are divided from British Columbia by a triple range of mountains, the Rockies, the Selkirks and the Golden or Coast Range. Each of the Blocks, on the other hand, is closely connected by nature, physically and economically, with that portion of the habitable and cultivable continent to the south of it which it immediately adjoins, and in which are its natural markets—the Maritime Provinces with Maine and the New England States; Old Canada with New York and with Pennsylvania, from which she draws her coal; Manitoba and the North-West, with Minnesota and Dakota, which share with her the Great Prairie; British Columbia with the States of the Union on the Pacific. Between the divisions of the Dominion there is hardly any natural trade, and but little even of forced trade has been called into existence under a stringent system of protection. The Canadian cities are all on or near the southern edge of the Dominion, the natural cities, at least; for Ottawa, the political capital, is artificial. The principal ports of the Dominion in winter, and its ports largely throughout the year, are in the United States, trade coming through in bond. Between the two provinces of Old Canada, though there is no physical barrier, there is an ethnological barrier of the strongest kind, one being British, the other thoroughly French, while the antagonism of race is intensified by that of religion. Such is the real Canada. Whether the four blocks of territory constituting the Dominion can forever be kept by political agencies united among themselves and separate from their Continent, of which geographically, economically, and with the exception of Quebec ethnologically, they are parts, is the Canadian question. . . .

To link together the widely-separated members of the Confederation two political and military railways were to be constructed by united effort as Federal works. The first was the Intercolonial, spanning the vast and irreclaimable wilderness which separates Halifax from Quebec. This has been constructed at a cost of $40,000,000, and is being worked by the Government at an annual loss, the amount of which it is difficult to ascertain, but which is reckoned by an independent authority at $500,000. The Canadian Pacific has also been constructed at a cost to the Dominion in money, land grants, guarantees, completed works and surveys of something like $100,000,000, though it was promised by the original project that there should be no addition to taxation. Of the military value of these lines, and of their availability as a route for the transmission of troops from England to India, it is for military men to judge. At the time when the Intercolonial was projected, the two British officers of artillery, whose pamphlet has already been cited, pointed out that the line would be fatally liable to snow-blocks. . . . It is a more serious consideration that the line where it approaches the northern frontier of Maine runs, if the enemies are the Americans, within easy reach of a raid. Still more exposed to hostile attack is the Canadian Pacific, which runs along the northern shore of Lake Superior, the southern shore of which is in the hands of the Americans, and for 8oo miles across the prairie country where the frontier is perfectly open. In the mountain region there are points at which, if an enemy could get at it with dynamite, it might, as the writer has been assured on competent authority, be blocked for months. Against snow-blocks and against avalanches, which are frequent, careful provision on a large scale is being made; but landslides are also frequent in that region, where it has been jocosely said `the work of creation is not quite finished.’ . . .

As a commercial road the Intercolonial is a failure, for the simple reason that there is not, nor is there likely to be, any trade of the slightest importance between Canada and the Maritime Provinces of the Dominion. Small must be its receipts for local traffic between Quebec and Halifax or St. John. Its commercial usefulness will be reduced, if possible, still lower if not altogether destroyed, now that the Canadian Pacific, its reputed consort in the great Imperial scheme, cuts it out by taking the route, 200 miles shorter, through the State of Maine; nor can the condition to which it will probably be reduced by commercial depression fail to tell upon its efficiency even as a military road. . . . So far as the profits of the Canadian Pacific Railway are made at the expense of the Grand Trunk they are made at the expense of a road which has done a great deal more for Canada than the Canadian Pacific itself, and in which £12,000,0000 sterling of British capital are invested. As a colonisation road its achievements are very doubtful. It has strung out the settlers along a line of 800 miles, carrying them far away from their markets and their centres of distribution, raising their freights, and, what is worst of all, depriving them of the advantage of close settlement which in a wintry climate are particularly great. Many emigrants it carries all down the line to British Columbia, whence, there being hardly any land for them to take up, they pass into the Pacific States of the Union. In one of the emigrant trains there were found ten persons bound for British Columbia and fifty-eight bound for places in the United States. Besides this, the monopoly granted to the Company in consideration of the sacrifice of commercial to military and political objects in the laying out of the line weighed like lead upon the rising community. To this, in conjunction with the tariff and with some unfortunate land regulations made both by the Company and the Government, it is due that whereas Dakota and Manitoba started eighteen years ago on nearly equal terms, Dakota has a population of over 500,000, while that of Manitoba is about 150,000. . . .

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Chicago: "Pre-Cambrian Shield Theory, Canada and the Canadian Question by Goldwin Smith," Pre-Cambrian Shield Theory, Canada and the Canadian Question by Goldwin Smith in The Pre-Cambrian Shield Theory, Canada and the Canadian Question by Goldwin Smith (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Pr, 1973), Original Sources, accessed June 19, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4TX45L81LMPH4Y6.

MLA: . "Pre-Cambrian Shield Theory, Canada and the Canadian Question by Goldwin Smith." Pre-Cambrian Shield Theory, Canada and the Canadian Question by Goldwin Smith, in The Pre-Cambrian Shield Theory, Canada and the Canadian Question by Goldwin Smith, Toronto, Univ. of Toronto Pr, 1973, Original Sources. 19 Jun. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4TX45L81LMPH4Y6.

Harvard: , 'Pre-Cambrian Shield Theory, Canada and the Canadian Question by Goldwin Smith' in Pre-Cambrian Shield Theory, Canada and the Canadian Question by Goldwin Smith. cited in 1973, The Pre-Cambrian Shield Theory, Canada and the Canadian Question by Goldwin Smith, Univ. of Toronto Pr, Toronto. Original Sources, retrieved 19 June 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4TX45L81LMPH4Y6.