John Macoun.

Manitoba and the great North-west: the field for investment; the home of the emigrant, being a full and complete history of the country .. online

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months. It has happened that some farmers from older
countries, in love at home with deep ploughing, have de-
spised the methods of the country, and tried deep ploughing
in Manitoba. These men have come to learn wisdom from
practical disappointment, but this is an unnecessarih" ex-
pensive lesson.

We have already advised intending settlers to avoid bur-
dening themselves with an unnecessary amount of luggage.
We would, however, recommend them to bring with them
as much of their clothing as they conveniently can, as it
packs in small compass, and saves outlay in the new land.

Be sure, however, to bring your money, or that portion
of it which you will not require to use on the way, in the
form of a draft or bill-of-exchange. If you lose the draft
or bill, you can always have it replaced. If you bring gold,
silver, or bank notes, and lose it, you will probably never
recover your loss. There are four large banking institu-
tions in Winnipeg, any one of which will be able to cash
your draft or bill on your arrival. As soon as you reach
Winnipeg, by placing yourself in the hands of the Govern-
ment guides, you will be able to make your purchases at
reasonable prices, and will be secure from any imposition in
that respect.

The following figures may prove of interest to intending
settlers, as showing what can be done in the Canadian
North-west. Farms can be purchased at almost any price
from one dollar per acre upwards, and one hundred and
sixty acres can be secured as a homestead free, on payment
of ten dollars entry fee. We will, however, base our cal-


culations on the Government price for pre-emptions of one
dollar, and we will illustrate a term of five years occupancy :

First Year.

Expenditure of settler with family of say five, for provisions, &c.,

one year $250.00

One yoke of oxen 125.00

One cow 35.00

Breaking plough and harrow 35.00

Waggon 80.00

Implements, &o 25.00

Cook stove, &c., complete 25.00

Furniture 25.00

Tent 10.00

Sundries, say 50.00

Outlay for First Year $660.00

At the end of the year, he will have a comfortable log-
house, barn, &c., cattle implements, and say twenty acres of
land broken, ready for seed.

Second Year.

Will realize from twenty acres — 600 bushels of grain at 60c., which

is a low figure $360.00

Expenditure, say 300.00

To the good $60.00

And he will have an additional twenty acres of land

Third Year.

Forty acres will give him 1,200 bushels of grain, at 60c $720.00

Will pay for land $160.00

Expenditure, including additional stock and implements. . 600.00


To the good $60.00

And he will, with his increased stock and other facilities,
be able to break at least thirty acres.

Fourth Year.

Seventy acres will give him 2,700 bushels of grain, at 60c $1,260.00

Less expenditure for further stock, implements, and other neces-
saries 600.00

To the good $660,00

And another thirty acres broken.


Fifth Year.

100 acres will give him 3,000 bushels of grain, at 60c $1,800.00

Less, same expenditure as previous year 600.00

To the good $1,200.00

At the end of the fifth year, he will stand as follows : —

Cash, or its equivalent on hand $1,980.00

160 acres of land increased in value to at least $5 per acre 800.00

House and barn, low appraisal 250.00

Stock, including cattle and horses 600.00

Machinery and farm implements, 50 per cent, of cost, say 200.00

Furniture, &e 150 00

Less — outlay fii-st year , . . . : 660.00

To credit of ferm $3,320.00

In these calculations, we have endeavored to be as near the
truth as possible. We have increased the number of acres
broken during the three years, because with an increase
f>f stock and other facilities for breaking, the settler can
break more. This has been the experience of farmers here.
Then we have placed the expenditure high, while the price
\uoted for the grain is much lower than is paid at present
by buyers. We show a profit of $3,000, after paying for
everything, in five years ; but we can cite numerous cases
m which settlers have cleared more than $4,000 and $5,000
in the same time, and in which in many instances they had
not $100 to commence with. The whole success of the
new settler depends upon his economical management
perseverance, and untiring industry. If he pays more than
$1 per acre for his land, he may be sure it will rise corres-
pondingly in value as the country progresses. The intend-
ing settler, however, must never forget that he can always
obtain 160 acres of land free, from the Government, in
addition to that which he purchases.

There is one point we desire to impress upon intending
settlers, and that is the large yield of grain in the Canadian


North-west. From this time, no immigrant need settle
at any great distance from railway communication unless he
desires to do so, so that he can always be within easy reach
of a steady market. We may safely place the average yield
per acre, at thirty bushels of wheat after the second year,
and can also safely say that grain will fetch as high prices
as in Minnesota or Dakota. In the Canadian North-west,
however, allowing prices to be equal, how does the settler
stand, as compared with those south of the boundary line.

Average yield, per acre, in the Canadian North-west, 30 bushels,

say at 80c $24.00

Average yield in Minnesota, 17 bushels, say at 80c 13.60

In favor of Canadian settler. . . $10.40

This is a considerable difference which is borne out by
facts, and when it is considered that the cost of living is
less than in the United States, the difference becomes still
greater. It simply resolves itself into this, that settlers in
the Canadian North-west can afford to sell their grain,
owing to their large returns at fully 50 per cent, lower
than those in the United States, and still be as well off, or
they can (prices being equal) realize the same percentage
more than their neighbors south of the boundary line.
The opening of the Canadian Pacific Railway to Lake
Superior, next year, will give the North-west equal ship-
ping facilities with the Western States. What more can
we say for the information of those who are looking for
new homes to guide them to this " Land of Promise," but
a simple word in conclusion. The Canadian Pacific Rail-
way is to be pushed forward at a rapid rate during the next
few years, and will give employment to thousands of men.

A very large amount of grain and other supplies will be
required to carry on the extensive public works of the
Canadian North-west, and farmers will be kept busy in
order to supply this home demand for years to come.


In addition to this, immigrants will be able to find plenty
of work for themselves and their teams, during their spare
time, so that the sooner settlers make up their minds to
come here, the better it will be for themselves. The next
ten years in the Canadian North-west will assuredly be a
time of great progress and prosperity.

In conclusion, we submit the following evidence of set-
tlers on certain points connected with outfit and farming :

Statements of Actual Settlers.

Nelson Brown of High Bluflf, says : —

"In my opinion the month of September is the most favorable for settlers to
come here, and in no case should they come earlier than May. Let them bring
good medium-sized close-made horses with them. Have been here eight years
and know the requirements pretty well."

Henry "West of Clear Springs, says : —

"I have been in the country six years and have found the driest summer to
give the best crops, even though there was no rain except an odd thunder-
shower. New settlers should come in May and break their land till July,
then, after cutting and saving plenty of hay for all the cattle, they can pre-
pare their buildings for the winter."

James Stewart of High Bluff, says : —

" I would suggest that intending settlers in the North-west who come to
settle down on prairie land should break up an acre or two around where
they build, on the West, North and East and plant with maple seeds. Plant
in rows four feet apart, the seeds to be planted one foot apart ; they afterwards
can be turned out and transplanted. I have them 12 feet high from the seed
planted four years ago, and they will form a good shelter. I find, after a
residence of nine years, that this North-west country is well calculated for
raising the different kinds of grain sown by farmers. Market prices are very
good. Wheat, 85c. to $1.15 ; Oats, 50c. to 60c., and Barley, 60c."

James McEwan of Meadow Lea, says : —

" Farmers should have Canadian horses and get oxen and cows, and purchase
young cattle. By doing so they will double their money every year. I am in
the business and know by experience."

George Ferris of St. Agathe, says : —

" I would advise immigrants to fetch all the cash they can. They can suit
themselves better by buying here about as cheap, and they will only get just
what they need."

Jno. George of Nelsonville, says : —

" I consider this country the place to come to, providing any man wants to
make a home and knows something of &,rming, that has about $400 to $500
to begin with."



John A. Lee of High Bluff, says : —

" Now that we have the locomotive, we shall be able to compare with
anything in the Dominion, and take the lead with roots-'and I defy the United
States for samples of grain of all kinds. They have only the start of us iu
fruits, hut we are progressing well in that respect. If folks would work four
months in the year they might be independent in this country. I came here
in 1873 with only thirty dollars in my pocket, ten of which I paid for my
homestead of 160 acres. It is going on two years since I began to cultivate
the place I am now living on, and have 74 acres under cultivation, with a
suitable house and other fixtures, and I could get $3,000 for one of my quarter
sections. Icaube found in High Bluff at any time with $50 to back my words."

Geo. C. Hall of Portage la Prairie, says : —

'■ My claim is situated on the banks of the Assiniboine and we therefore
enjoy direct steamboat communication with Winnipeg. The land is not fiat
but rolling prairie, no need of drainage, but still it is well watered by running
springs. All crops look well. I planted potatoes on 1st June, and In eight
weeks we had our first meal of them. 1 expect about 300 bushels to the acre.
The climate of the country is all that can be desired. Any man who wishes
to furnish a home for himself should try and locate in this country, and if he
be a man of any energy he will not be long in making a comfortable and
profitable home for himself and family. It was a happy day that I first lauded
on this soil."

D. H. Knight of Ridgeville, says : —

" I would recommend settlers to get oxen for breaking the sod. Horses
cost much more to keep as they require grain. Oxen can be worked on the
grass. I am more in the stock line, and I can say the country is well adapted
for stock-raising. The pasturage could not be better. Abundance of hay
can be had for the cutting, and with a little care cattle winter well, and come
through in good condition."

James D. Stewart of Cooks Creek, says :^—

" Would advise new settlers to buy oxen instead of horses as they can be fed
cheaper and will do more work if well treated and fed on grass and good hay."

Joshua Appleyard of Stonewall, says : —

"I would advise any young man with good heart and $300 to come to this
country, for in five years he can be independent."

Jno. Ferguson of High Bluff, says : —

"I would advise settlers in a general way to start with oxen as they are less
expensive in cost and keep the first year at a less risk than horses. 1 would
advise them not to bring any implements with them but procure the best of
all classes here, as they are especially adapted for this country."

Thos. H. Ellison of Scratching River, says : —

"Any man with a family of boys such as I have, that intends living by
farming and raising his boys to farm, is only fooling away his time in other
places when he can average a hundred per cent, more each year with his labor
here as I have done. I have farmed iu Europe, State of New York, and
Ontario, aud I can say tliis safely.''


Geo. Fidsbury of High Bluff", says : —

" I would not advise any man coming out here to farm to bring any more
luggage witli him tliau he can actually help. 1 have sometimes weighed roots
here and found them to surpass any I ever grew in Canada. I do not think
there is any use telling the immigrants the weights as they will hardly believe
it. It is enough for them to know that this coimtry can produce mare to the
acrt with less cultivation than any part of Canada."


Advice to Settlers and Travellers.

Protection against Sudden Storms in Winter — Thunder, Rain, or Wind Storms in Sum.
mer — How to Protect Horses and Cattle from Flies — Smudges — Keeping the Tent
Clear of Mosquitoes — Care of Horses when Travelling — How to Find Lost Horses —
Precautions to be Used — Where to Pitch a Camp in Summer — In Winter — How to Find
Water — How to Know Sweet Water — Protection against Prairie Fires — Saving Hay
and Fences — How to Travel Over the Prairie With or Without a Koad — White Mud
Swamps — Carelessness of Travellers as Regards their Personal Comfort — How to Pre-
vent a Prairie Fire — Penalty for Starting One — Crossing Streams with Bridges — How
to Cross, &c., &c.

Occasionally notices appear in the public prints of
travellers and others who have lost their lives by being
caught on an exposed prairie in a winter storm or blizzard.
Should old travellers be caught in one of these storms no
attempt is made to proceed to their destination, but an
immediate halt is called or an effort is made to reach the
nearest shelter. Should none be near, the nearest ravine
or vouleS is entered and the banks of snow made to do duty
for a house. Instances have been known where Half-
breeds have lain comfortably in the drifts for days and
saved themselves and horses, when if they had proceeded
they would have been frozen to death. In the win-
ter of 1875 I was travelling with a company of Half-breeds
when a terrible snow-storm came on accompanied with a
fierce gale, which drove the icy particles into our eyes
with such force that they scarcely left us the power to
see. We were sixteen miles from wood, and it was decided
to attempt to reach it. Failing in this, we were to make a
break wind of our carts, and camp in a favorable hollow.
Knowing what we intended to do we pushed on, our leader
merely taking the direction of the wind on his cheek!
Beaching the wood and penetrating it some distance we


discovered a little pond where we unharnessed our horses,
built a roaring fire and thawed the ice out of our beards
and hair. We now built booths of poles and willows, and
thatched them over with the long grass of the pond, and
for the next thirty-six hours enjoyed ourselves amazingly.
A few visits to the edge of the wood showed the storm
still raging on the prairie, and for two nights and a day we
were snow-bound. We obtained abundance of food for our
horses in the grassy glades, and scarcely gave a thought to
the blizzard that swept the prairie a quarter of a mile

All travellers should carry matches summer and winter.
These should always be placed in an inner breast pocket so
as to be dry and handy. Inexperience says they are not
necessary, or, we know a friend who has them. Wisdom
says, carry them yourself. In winter, besides matches,
dried grass, or the outer bark of the canoe birch, should
always be carried so that not an instant need be lost in
lighting a fire if the necessity for it should arise. In the
winter of 1872 when travelling in Northern British
Columbia, the weather was intensely cold and the lakes
were frozen over, but in some places the rivers discharging
them were covered with only a thin film of ice. We
reached a small river, discharging Carrier Lake, which I
crossed in safety. An old Indian following me broke
through, and by the time he was out he was like an icicle.
In an instant every pack was on the ground, a fire was lit
and while he changed his clothes, a cup of hot tea was got
ready and scarcely fifteen minutes elapsed before we were
again on the way.

The cause of settlers and others losing their lives in win-
ter can always be shown to arise from their desire to reach
home or from persistently fighting the storm, until their
vitality and animal heat are so far exhausted that they sink
down and fall into a deep sleep and never awake. On the


other hand, if a man lies down and gets cold when asleep,
he will surely wake up with a change of temperature. All
parties caught in a severe storm should conserve their
powers, instead of weakening them by persistent efforts,
and this can be done by at once fleeing to shelter, and if no
fire can be lighted, wrapping the body up in warm clothing,
and remaining passive until the storm ceases. During the
past winter, a number of individuals lost their lives by not
fully recognizing the danger they ran in exposing them-
selves on the prairie, when a severe wind storm (Blizzard)
was in progress. Owing to its force and the icy particles
that fill the air, it is next to impossible to make progress,
except before the wind, and too often this is in the wrong
direction. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary for all
parties travelling in a thinly settled part of the country,
any time after the beginning of October, to carry matches
with them, and if caught in a storm, to retreat at once to a
thicket, and build a fire and remain there quietly until the
storm is past.

Summer storms are often very severe, and frequently
accompanied by terrific thunder and wind. I consider a
prairie thunder storm as one of the most appalling occur-
rences which a traveller on the plain has to encounter, and
one which he has no means to escape. There are few days
in June and July, when thunder is not heard from some
point of the compass. Most of the storms are merely local,
and last but a short time. They generally take place after
three o'clock in the afternoon, and no matter how severe
the night storm may be, the air is clear and calm in the
morning. Should a series of storms take place, the tempera-
ture is considerably lowered, and a cloudy and windy day
will likely follow.

All travellers should have a strong cover for each waggon
or cart, and see that it is securely fastened every night
before retiring to his tent. Very frequently, the traveller


may retire to rest witli not a speck of cloud anywhere above
the horizon, and wake up a little after midnight, with
the incessant roll of thunder in his ears, ard his eyes
blinded with the vivid lightning. It is now that the un-
wary traveller pays the penalty for being ignorant. Care-
lessly pitched tents are blown down, or the rain pours
through, and everything is thoroughly soaked. Morning
breaks, and the goods are found injured by the rain, and to
complete the disaster, the horses have stampeded and are
nowhere to be found. Nearly all travellers relate such
occurrences as happening to themselves, and seem to see no
way of preventing the disaster. Prevention is very easy,
and the careful traveller is never caught unprepared.

When seeking a camping place for the night, any time
during the summer, an elevated spot, near a pool of water,
should be chosen, so that comparative freedom from mos-
quitoes may be secured if there should be a little wind.
Feed and shelter for the horses are absolutely necessary, as
both may be needed any night. All the conveyances
should be placed west of the tents, and each tent securely
tied to a cart by a guy rope passing over the end of the
ridge-pole. The rear of the tents should be next to the
carts, so that should a storm arise in the night, there would
be no danger of the tents being blown down. By taking
these precautions, no storm can do much damage, and men
fall into the habit of doing this as a matter of routine.

In the latter part of June, 1879, I encamped on the
prairie, just west of Qu'Appelle, but on the plateau above
the river valley. About three hundred yards distant,
another exploring party stopped for the night. We ar-
ranged our camp in our usual manner, and retired to rest.
About two o'clock, a.m., a terrific rain, thunder, and wind
storm broke over us, and for five hours we lay and listened
to the terrific uproar. After the rain ceased we attempted
to make a fire, but could not succeed for some time owing to


the force of the wind and wetness of the wood. Our tents
had withstood the tempest's power and kept us perfectly
dry. Not so with our friends in the other camp. Their
tent had been blown down at the commencement of the
storm, and there was not a man in the camp that had a dry
rag. Of course, in letters to their friends, they omitted to
state that their wretchedness was the result of their own
carelessness. I visited their camp and found that the
storm was altogether unexpected and had caught them un-
prepared, and their tents tumbled^about their ears in a few

Horses will not face a severe rain and wind storm on the
prairie, so that it is absolutely necessary to stop if the
storm is meeting you. On the approach of a thunder storm
in the day time, which may be of short duration, it is only
necessary to turn the horses heads away from the storm,
and they will stand perfectly quiet. The men can get
under the carts or stand out in the rain, as it suits them_
Care must be taken that horses do not stampede in a storm,
as many travellers through the carelessness of their team-
sters lose much time through this cause.

All through the summer, mosquitoes are very trouble,
some at night, and often put the horses almost wild. Ever}'
evening, it is necessary to make a " smudge " to keep off
the flies and enable the horses to eat a little during the
night. It is made by lighting a fire with a little dry wood,
and then putting on green sticks and covering all up with
sods, so as to make a continuous smoke. When flies are
troublesome and a little wind stirring, horses always feed
head to wind, and it is necessary to note the direction of
the wind before retiring to rest, as it is nothing unusual to
find that the horses have gone off miles during the
night. By noting how the wind blows in the evening and
how it is in the morning, a man of some experience will
always go straight to the horses, even if they are miles


awaj. Many parties think it cruel to hobble horses every
night after having been in harness all day, but experience
proves that horses eat more and wander less by adopting
thia practice. My practice was always to make a smudge,
hobble my horses in good pasture, and trust to their being
all right in the morning. By following this practice I never
lost a horse, and during two summers, travelled 4,300 miles
up and down the prairie chiefly by compass.

Besides looking to the comfort of our horses, we should
"be careful of ourselves and always take pains to make our-
selves comfortable. The chief trouble of the North-West
is the mosquito, and to a sensitive person, they are a source
of constant torture. I have seen men so punished by them,
that their eyes were closed, their necks swollen, and they
suffered great agony. There -S no use in disguising the fact
of their constant presence, and of their being a : eal plague.
Settlers on the prairie must expect them for years to come,
but with the progress of settlement they will in a great
measure disappear. Tents can be kept clear of mosquitoes
only by closing every aperture by which they can enter,
as one small hole will often admit more flies than two
men can dispose of. They enter tents just in the same way
that bees enter a hive, and should one make its way in it
will be followed by hundreds in a short time. After closing
the tent so that none could enter, a man, with a lighted
candle, soon singed the wings of those within, and for the
evening and night we had immunity from their attacks.

On account of the flies the rule is to pitch the tent in
summer always on a knoll, but in winter or after the flies

Online LibraryJohn MacounManitoba and the great North-west: the field for investment; the home of the emigrant, being a full and complete history of the country .. → online text (page 51 of 55)