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the pioneers of the West. The first steps of the route south-
wards had been made known already as far as some distance
up the Fox River, and Father Allouez had been sent to found
a mission at Lake Michigan at the head of Green Bay.

It was reserved to Marquette to throw clearer light upon
this valley of what might truly have then been called ' a Dark
Continent.' Together with Joliet, he ascended the Fox River,
and, reaching its head waters, struck across to the Wisconsin,
which they reached after a portage of a mile and a half. Once
on the Wisconsin their way was plain, and they glided down
to the Mississippi. Continuing their voyage on the waters of
the famous river, they experienced little difficulty in navigation ;
but for a fortnight they saw not a human soul. The mouth of
the Illinois was reached, a distance of 1400 miles from the
Gulf of Mexico ; then the Missouri, the Ohio, and the Arkansas.
Here they stopped, at a distance of 723 miles from the mouth
of the great river. The exploit was a great one, and it was
clear that the Mississippi flowed south into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Dominion of Canada 69

Marquette did not long survive this triumph. On his return
voyage he died on the shores of Lake Michigan as he was
endeavouring to reach the Straits of Mackinaw. 1

Marquette was not only a great explorer but a great mission-
ary, and he managed to enlist the sympathy and goodwill of
the Indians, as the following incident proves : ' In 1676 some
Ottawas for whom he had performed the offices of religion at
the St. Esprit Mission opened the grave, obtained the bones,
and, in Indian fashion, dried them. Placing them in a cover-
ing of birch bark, they carried them to the Straits of Mackinaw,
where they were reverently buried with the most solemn rites
of his Church in the little chapel of the Mission of St. Ignace.'
This honour paid to the remains of Marquette recalls the
tender care shown by the African natives for the body of our
own great explorer, David Livingstone.

Another great Frenchman, whose name is conspicuous in
Canada and North America during the seventeenth century,
was de la Salle, the founder of Louisiana. He was born at
Rouen in 1643, and is said to have belonged to a family of
wealthy merchants. He was by nature and training a keen
and enthusiastic explorer. Like many other men of that age,
whilst an advocate for bond fide l plantations,' he frequently
dreamed of the possibilities of some wonderful El Dorado;
and his imagination was inflamed, even in the back-
woods of Canada, by reading about the wonderful career
of Columbus and the wanderings of de Soto. 2 Two of his
companions in adventure were Henri de Tonti, an Italian
officer, and Hennepin, the Franciscan, who has left behind an
account of Canadian life and scenery. He was the first to
describe the great Falls of Niagara. After exploring the lake
country and opening up the way to the West, la Salle
embarked upon his great enterprise, which was completing the
work of Father Marquette and descending the Mississippi
down to its mouth. Here, on April 9, 1682, a column was

1 Kingsford's History of Canada, vol. i. p. 404.

2 Bancroft's History of the United States, vol. ii. p. 334.

7O British Colonisation

raised to Louis le Grand by the explorers, and a great and
mighty province won for France.

The founding of Louisiana was a very important event in
the history of New France. Communication was opened up
between the Canadian lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Here
it was decided to found a French colony. La Salle returned
to France in 1683; and although Colbert was dead, his son'
Seignelay listened favourably to his plans of colonisation.
The details of the colony were arranged by 1684, and in July
four vessels left La Rochelle with 280 persons, of whom 100
were soldiers. The French, in the days of Colbert, claimed
the sovereignty of the Mexican Gulf a Frenchman named
d'Estrees having been sent here to cruise about and to fight
any Spanish vessel he met. This expedition, however, which,
like Champlain's previous effort, might have been the begin-
ning of French dominion in this part of the world, failed
utterly. In the words of Bancroft, the mechanics were poor
workmen, the soldiers spiritless vagabonds, the volunteers were
restless, and the commanders, worst of all, untrustworthy. La
Salle perished near the scene of his explorations, being killed
by one of his subordinates.

After the names of Champlain and la Salle should come
that of Pierre Gautier de la Verandrye as a pathfinder and
voyageur in North America (1731-1738). East of the Missis-
sippi the task of North American exploration had been fairly
exhausted ; the regions round Lake Superior, also, had
become well known. But further north and north-west the
voyageur's enterprise and daring could not be arrested, and
the next regions to be opened up were those of the distant
Western provinces, where bands of wild Sioux roamed. In
1686, at the very time when la Salle was lingering on the
coast of the Gulf of Mexico, a voyageur of the name of de
Noyon was wintering at the Lake of the Woods, at the very
fountain of the mighty St. Lawrence. In 1720 Charlevoix,
the celebrated Jesuit Father, was sent to Canada to discover
whether there was an opening here for trade, and to throw

The Dominion of Canada 7 1

light, if possible, upon the geography of the continent. His
letters to the Duchesse de les Diguieres furnish a very useful
historical record of the state of Canada at this time. Charle-
voix was anxious to explore the west of the Missouri valley,
and so reach the Western sea by this route. But he was
prevented himself from carrying out his plans, and the task
was left with Verandrye.

This Frenchman addressed a letter to the Governor, and
spoke by hearsay from the Indians of four great rivers flowing
from the western height of land. These four rivers were after-
wards, found to exist and to take their rise in the direction
named. They were the Mackenzie, the Athabasca, the
Saskatchewan, and the Missouri Rivers, and the height of
land was the ' Rocky Mountains.'

The information given by the Indians about the rivers of
their country was generally found to be correct. The rivers
were from time immemorial their natural highways, up and
down which they travelled in their birch canoes. Verandrye
in his communication to the French Governor spoke of English
rivalry in the Far West, but there is no proof that they ever
went so far. They had commenced to find their way to the
Wabash, a tributary of the Ohio, reaching it from the eastern
settlements ; but this was the extreme limit at the beginning of
the* eighteenth century. On Hudson's Bay no traveller had
ever gone far from the shores. 1

The field was clear for Verandrye, who with Messager, a
Jesuit missionary, set his face to explore the great inland sea
described as the Ouinipigan (Winnipeg). In 1732 he crossed
the Lake of the Woods, named the Assiniboine, calling it the
St. Charles after the Governor ; and the Souris, to which he
gave the name of the St. Pierre. Verandrye and his sons
carried on their work of exploration for many years, and it is
claimed for them that in 1 742-3 they first sighted the Rocky
Mountains, sixty years before the American explorers Clarke
and Lewis.

1 Kingsford's History of Canada , vol. iii. p. 371.

72 British Colonisation

Such were some of the typical French colonists and ex-
plorers in Canada previous to the expulsion of the French
altogether as a political power from the country. There was a
great deal of romance and adventure about the missionary,
the pathfinder, the hunter, and the explorer ; and the cause of
geographical research was greatly advanced by their efforts.
But there was not much substantial progress in the work of
colonisation and settlement. The New England colonists and
the settlers of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland,
were waging a never-ending war with the French colonists, and
held the approaches to the St. Lawrence and the east coast.

There was a lack also of perseverance on the part of the
French colonists. From what Champlain himself wrote, it
would appear that agriculture was neglected by the new settlers.
He considers the use of the plough so important that he gives
us the date of its first use, viz. April 27, 1628 ; and he bitterly
bewails the conduct of the Association, which during twenty-two
years had only cleared one arpent and a half of land. Kings-
ford, the Canadian historian, sums up French colonisation
thus :

' In the seventeenth century there was not one settlement
west of Montreal. Montreal was only commenced in 1640.
In 1668 a mission was sent to the Bay of Quinte. Kingston
and Niagara were never anything but trading and military
posts. There was a mission at Sault St. Marie ; one at La
Pointe, Lake Superior, the modern Bayfield ; Detroit (1764)
was a fort which was attacked by the Indian chief Pontiac.
The most ancient claim by the Michigan archaeologist goes to
no earlier date than 1701. The local settlements of De la Salle
and the Illinois were composed of a few soldiers and Indians.
The country was thus passed over by the mission father, the
trader, the coureur des bois. Where there was water to float
a canoe, with a portage to a descending stream, there the
explorer of New France was to be found rarely to achieve little
more than its discovery.' 1

1 History of Canada^ vol. i. p. 115.

The Dominion of Canada 73

Thus New France fell because in her struggle with New
England she had no real colonial strength to rest upon.
Sternly the Puritan settlers of New England were laying their
grip upon the country ; and the sailors and fishermen of Nova
Scotia were always ready to fight the French, whether in the
Bay of Fundy, or off Cape Breton, or along the coasts of
Newfoundland, or up the St. Lawrence valley. At the begin-
ning of the eighteenth century the main object of France was
to keep the English colonists behind the Alleghanies. Failing
this, they might have cut them off on the west by making
Louisiana a reality, and filling it with Protestant emigrants.
The question of boundaries and outposts could never be settled
except by an appeal to the god of battles.

In addition to the explorers she sent forth, France has had
many brave and capable commanders to fight her cause in
New France. Frontenac, at one time Governor of Canada,
was an able and enterprising officer. At the close of the seven-
teenth century the power of France was very great in Canada,
the whole country, from Maine to beyond Labrador and
Hudson's Bay, besides the valleys of the St. Lawrence and the
Mississippi, falling under her sovereignty. The exploits of
d'Iberville both in Hudson's Bay (1687) and on the Maine
frontier were a bright and redeeming page in her annals.

But she had no greater or more chivalrous general than Mont-
calm. His defence of New France was a long and gallant
struggle against circumstances. Montcalm had seen service in
campaigns in Italy and Germany, and in May 1756 he landed
in Canada with 1000 regulars and 400 recruits. One of his
officers was M. de Bourgainville, of whom we hear much after-
wards as an explorer in distant Southern waters. With this com-
paratively insignificant force Montcalm achieved a remarkable
number of successes, taking the forts around Lake Champlain ;
but when Louisburg on Cape Breton, the Dunkirk of Canada,
fell and the passage of the St. Lawrence was blocked, Mont-
calm knew that the fate of New France was sealed. The
capture of Quebec and the gallantry of Wolfe and Montcalm

74 British Colonisation

are twice-told tales. ' Wolfe, twice wounded, died, having been
informed by his attendants of his victory ; and Montcalm, shot
near the city, was led in supported on his black charger led
in to die ! Rarely have two nobler spirits met in battle array
than Montcalm and Wolfe.'

From the date of the British occupation, 1763, Canada
began quickly to fill up. It is estimated that not more than
8000 emigrants had ever come from France to Canada, chiefly
in the time of Colbert. These had increased to 65,ooo. 1
Many of these Frenchmen were men of high rank, and
Louis xiv. boasted that ' Canada contained more of his old
nobility than the rest of the colonies put together.' The feudal
system was transplanted to the banks of the St. Lawrence ; and
the great landowners or seigniors, who were grantees of long
strips of territory, required service and homage from the
censitaire or ordinary settler, who came to them 'without
sword or spurs, with bare head and one knee on the ground.'
The censitaire was compelled to grind his flour at the seignior's
mill, bake his bread in the seignior's oven, give one fish in
every eleven caught, and work for his lord one or more days in
every year. Yet, with all these advantages, the seigniors never
became rich and prosperous colonists. No doubt the feeling
of caste demoralised them and degraded labour in their eyes.
But that man must live by the sweat of his brow and by tilling
and developing the ground is the accepted condition of
colonial life. Forests have to be cleared, swamps drained, and
fields ploughed. Apparently the French seigniors disliked
these occupations, and preferred hunting and exploring as
occupations better suited to their taste, and so became path-
finders and coureurs des bois. Such men, however, could
not build up a State or even form a society.

Between 1780 and 1800 a new immigration set in which pro-
duced a lasting influence upon the fortunes of Canada ; and
this was the immigration of the United Empire Loyalists.
After the close of the American War there were thousands of

1 A Short History of the Canadian People, by James Bryce, p. 221.

The Dominion of Canada , 75

British settlers who, rather than live under the flag of the United
States, resolved to leave their homes and properties at vast
sacrifices and go north to Canada. These men were some of
the best of the American settlers, being of stern stuff and of un-
doubted patriotism. By a proclamation of George HI., 1763,
handsome provision was made for these refugees. To every
person of field-officer's rank 5000 acres were promised; to
a captain, 3000 ; to subalterns, 2000 acres ; to each non-com-
missioned officer, 200 acres; and to every private, 50 acres.

The first instalment of refugees arrived off the mouth of the
St. John's River in May 1783, in what is now New Bruns-
wick ; and before the end of the summer 5000 had found homes
along the river, laying the prosperity of Parrtown or Frederic-
ton. In the same year large settlements were made in Nova
Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The number of the 1783
refugees is reckoned at 13,000. This number was raised by
subsequent emigration to 30,000. The sum paid from the
British Exchequer in aid of these Loyalist bands amounted to
$15,000,000 or ^3,000,000, and rations had to be issued in
some cases for three years to keep them alive.

The Loyalists laid the foundation of Upper Canada. Colonel
Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada (1792),
adopted a bold and active colonisation policy in this part of the
world. His policy was to dismiss every soldier quartered in
Canada and give him 100 acres of land as soon as he could find a
substitute. He held out tempting offers to young Americans,
and endeavoured to draw them into the English service. In
its character the province of Upper Canada resembled a vast
military settlement on the confines of the North- West, with
endless scope before it.

The huge districts of the North- West were known as the
hunting preserve of the Hudson's Bay Company, founded in
1670. Prince Rupert had obtained from Charles n. a charter
which made him and the Hudson's Bay Company nominal
monopolists of an extent of country stretching from Lake
Superior to the Rocky Mountains, from Manitoba to Athabasca.

76 British Colonisation

Very often this territory was described as Prince Rupert's Land,
and Cape Henrietta Maria in Hudson's Bay points to the Royal
connection. Curiously enough, the western littoral of Hudson's
Bay has the nomenclature in Pinkerton's map of ' North
Wales,' and also of 'New South Wales.' Hidden from the
ken of Europe, these solitudes were long believed to be little
better than snowy wastes.

An epoch, however, occurred in the history of the great
North- West when Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk, acquired
1 16,000 square miles of land for a colonisation experiment, and
led a colony of Highlanders thither (1811-1816). The earl
was a most distinguished cekist or leader of colonists, and
had already (1803) settled 800 Highlanders in Prince Edward
Island. His schemes won the warm sympathy of Sir Walter
Scott ; and surely no colonisation experiment has ever proved
more successful than the Selkirk settlement, which laid the
foundation of the province of Manitoba. There is no more
congenial place for Orkney and Shetland men in the world
than North- West Canada.

In the time of Lord Selkirk there was a great deal of acute
distress in Scotland. The battle of Waterloo not only marked
a great epoch in the history of Europe but also an important
crisis in the history of British colonisation. The strain of the
Napoleonic wars upon England and her resources had been
terrible. England like a wearied gladiator had sunk back
exhausted after her terrible duel. Poverty and crime were
rife throughout the length and breadth of the land. A
spirited emigration policy to the British colonies seemed one
of the best and wisest remedies for general distress ; and Lord
Bathurst, the Secretary of State at the time, gave settlers a
choice of land in either Upper Canada or Quebec. The
best known of the settlements that ensued was that formed
in Upper Canada in 1816, in the townships of Bathurst,
Drummond, Beckwith, and Goulburn, known as the Perth

The M'Nab settlement, up the Ottawa, was an attempt to

The Dominion of Canada 77

transfer the clan system to Canada, and the chieftain wore his
* bonnet and feather, tartan and sporran, and besides his bright
scarlet vest with its silver buttons.' He was attended also by
his piper, and the highlands of Canada re-echoed to the music
of the bagpipes. In 1826 Bytown (Ottawa) was formed, and
became from its position a great centre of the lumber industry;
and in 1823 the British Government emigrated large numbers
of Irishmen to the Peterborough district. The Huron country
was surveyed into twenty townships, and for many consecu-
tive years there was a ceaseless flow of emigrants to Canada.
Men of all ranks flocked to the country and helped to develop
its resources.

Professor Bryce records 'that a unique "logging-bee" is
described as taking place in Upper Canada in which one,
afterwards Chief Justice of Upper Canada, another in time a
county judge, and a young man now an episcopal rector, did
their share with axe or handspike, while the actual rector of the
settlement drove the oxen.' Such a sight would have read a
moral to the great Champlain, ' the father of New France,' who
complained of the lethargy of his own countrymen in those early
days of colonisation, and would have indicated to him the
true and real differences between British and French colonisa-
tion. It has been by hard work, and by hard work alone, that
the British colonial empire has been built up. The climax
of the emigration movement following the Napoleonic wars
seems to have been reached in 1831, when the number of
Canadian immigrants reached the total of 34,000.

Thus, then, the fabric of Canadian prosperity was built up
by successive immigrations. New blood was infused into the
old veins, and the life of the colony flourished. What was
stagnant in the old colonial life was quickened and revivified by
new ideas on trade and policy imported from Europe. The
French censitaires felt the genial influences of greater indi-
vidual freedom and liberty, and gained activity from the
frequent admixture of Scotch, English, Irish, and German
elements. Freehold and franchise came in due time, and

78 British Colonisation

within the borders of the vast domain there was peace and

The war of 1812, waged by the United States against
Canada and England, was a regrettable and untimely interrup-
tion, but it could not alter materially the flow of Canadian
prosperity. The foremost thinkers of the Republic were
ashamed to be in a bloody partnership with the imperialism
of Napoleon. As far as the Canadian people were concerned,
the call to arms strengthened their 'native resolution,' and
gave French, British, Germans, and Scandinavians a common
cause. The habitant of Lower Canada, the fisherman of
Nova Scotia, the lumberer of the Ottawa valley, and the
trapper of the Far West felt their patriotism glow when the
news came that the Yankee meant to conquer their country.
Nor did their trade suffer ultimately by the unequal conflict,
the American mercantile marine being driven off Canadian
waters by the superior power of the British fleet.

Much indeed has been made from time to time of the
sentimental alliance between France and the United States ;
and the colossal statue of Liberty, the gift of France, and,
from its site overlooking the city of New York, visible afar off
like that of Athena Promachus of the Acropolis, the tutelary
deity of ancient Athens, seen from distant Sunium is sup-
posed to be symbolical of the everlasting entente cordiale.
Good Americans also are supposed to go to Paris when they
die, preferring Lutetia to Fair Parthenope or Rome or London.
O. W. Holmes has commemorated the attachment between
the two peoples, begun in the War of Independence :

' Sister in trial ! who shall count

Thy generous friendship's claim,
Whose blood ran mingling in the fount

That gave our land its name,
Till Yorktown saw in blended line

Our conquering arms advance,
And victory's double garlands twine

Our banners ? Vive la France ! '

The Dominion of Canada 79

It is doubtful whether this sentiment can ever stand a very
great strain. When it has come to practical questions of
territory and sovereignty in the New World, France has been
always told firmly that she must go in order that the young
Republic may carry out her Monroe doctrines. W 7 hat the
United States have said to France they have said also to
Spain. The Count de Aranda, who as the representative of the
Cabinet of Madrid assisted in negotiating the Treaty of Paris
in 1783, which established the independence of the United
States, uttered the following remarkable prophecy regarding
the future of the young Republic : ' It is a pygmy, but before
long it will be a giant, the formidable Colossus in the New
World It will forget the immense service which France and
Spain have rendered to it for it is to them that it owes its
independence and will only occupy itself with its own great-
ness. The liberty of conscience it has proclaimed, the cer-
tainty which industrious men will have of procuring a livelihood
in that great country, and the political institution which it has
established, will attract to the Confederation, from all parts of
the world, an intelligent and laborious population, and we
shall have the mortification of seeing it exercise an exclusive
and tyrannical sway over the New World. . . . They will begin
by taking Florida, which will make them masters of the Gulf
of Mexico; and they will afterwards attack the beautiful empire
of New Spain.' l

On the subject also of the disappearance of France from
the New World a disappearance the United States have
done little indeed to hinder Chateaubriand writes : ' We
possessed here vast territories which might have offered a
home to the excess of our population, an important market to
our commerce, a nursery to our navy. Now we are forced to
confine to our prisons culprits condemned by the tribunals, for
want of a spot of ground whereon to place these wretched
creatures. We are excluded from the New World when the
human race is recommencing. The English and Spanish
1 Chevalier's Le Mexique, Ancien et Moderne,

8o British Colonisation

languages serve to express the thoughts of many millions of
men in Africa, in Asia, in the South Sea islands, and the
continent of the two Americas ; and we, disinherited of the
conquests of our courage and our genius, hear the language of
Racine, of Colbert, and of Louis xrv. spoken merely in a few
hamlets of Louisiana and Canada under a foreign sway.
There it remains, as it were, for an evidence of the reverses
of our fortune and the error of our policy. Thus, then, has
France disappeared from North America like those Indian

Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 7 of 31)