This is not all. The section of country east of the city of Winnipeg and extending to Lake Abitibi was also explored by the engineers of the government at that period. In order to save time I will not refer to the opinion then expressed ; but I will come to the information which has been collected by the government of the province of Ontario, which in 1900 organized a special expedition entrusted to carefully selected commissioners for the express purpose of visiting and reporting upon that section of country between Lake Abitibi and the western boundary of the province of Ontario. In their report the commissioners speak as follows :
The great clay belt running from the Quebec boundary west through Nipissing and Algoma districts and into the district of Thunder bay comprises an area of at least 24,500 square miles, or 15.6SO.OOO acres, nearly all of which is well adapted for cultivation. This almost unbroken stretch of good farming land is nearly three-quarters as great in extent as the whole settled portion of the province south of Lake Nipissing and the French and Mattawa rivers. It is larger than the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware combined, and one-half besides of the state of New York. The region is watered by the Moose river, flowing into James bay, and its tributaries, the Abitibi, Mattagami and Missinabie, and the Albany and its tributaries, the Kenogami and Ogoke. Each of these rivers is over 300 miles in length, and they range in width from 300 or 400 yards to a mile. They ace fed by numerous smaller streams, and these in turn drain numberless lakes of larger or smaller size, so that the whole country is one net-work of waterways, affording easy means lof communications with long stretches fit for navigation. The great area of water surface also assures the country against the protracted droughts so often experienced in other countries. The southern boundary of this great tract of fertile land is less than forty miles from Missinabie station on the Canadian Pacific Railway; and the country north of the height of land being one immense level plateau sloping off towards James bay, the construction of railways and wagon roads through every part of it would be a comparatively easy matter.
In the small part of the district of Rainy river which was explored, the proportion of good land is not so great, but the clay land in the townships around Dryden was found to extend north in the valley of the Wabigoon river, with an area of about 600 square miles, or 384,000 acres. There are also smaller cultivable areas at various other points.
Another important fact established by the explorations is that the climate in this northern district presents mo obstacle to successful agricultural settlement. The information obtained completely dispels the erroneous impression that its winters are iof Arctic severity and its summers too short to enable crops to mature. The absence of summer frosts noted by the explorers and the growth of all the common vegetables at the Hudson Bay posts must disabuse the public mind of this erroneous impression. The 50th parallel of latitude passes through the centre of the agricultural belt, and Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
the climate is not much different from that of the province of Manitoba, lying along the same parallel, with this exception, of course, that the winter is tempered by the great spruce forests and the presence of ®o large a proportion of water surface. The country, too, has an abundance of wood for fuel, building and commercial purposes, and plenty of pure water every where,
Another point equalled only in importance by the existence of a vast area of agricultural land in this country and its moderate ciiimate is the fact that it is largely covered with extensive forests of spruce, jackpine and poplar. The value of this .class of timber, as everybody knows, is increasing every day and the market for it is widening ; and rich, indeed, is the country which has boundless resources in these varieties of woods. In the district of Nipissing, north of the Canadian Pacific Railway line, there is estimated to be >at least 20,000,000 cords of pulp-wood ; in the district of Algoma,
100.000. 000 cords ; in the district of Thunder Biay, 150,000,000 cords ; and in the district of Rainy River, 18,000,000 cords ; a grand total of
288.000. 000 cords. The pine region does not seem to extend much beyond the height of land, but on this side, in the country around lakes Temagaming and Lady Evelyn, and to the north, an area of red and white pine of fine quality was explored and estimated to contain about three billions of feet, b.m.
A feature of this region, which it is well to note from an industrial point of view, is the existence of many falls on the rivers and streams. These will no doubt be utilized with advantage in the creation of economical power when the country cornea to be opened up.
It was not expected, of course, that the parties would be able to make a thorough and exhaustive exploration of all the territory assigned to them, and the estimates here given of what has been reported are very conservative. Totalling up the figures here quoted, however, we have over 25,000 square miles of good fertile .land, or over 16,000,000 acres, and
288.000. 000 cords of spruce or other pulp-wood. There are also numerous smaller areas, both of timber and land, which are not included in these figures, but which will all be available when the development of the country takes place.
The country east of Lake Abitibi, in the province of Quebec, has also been explored, and explored several times. It) was in the possession of the early French settlers, as far back as two hundred years ago. The French, I believe, bad a port on Lake Abitibi in the seventeenth century. But it is difficult to summarize all the information with regard to that country, collectable in books of exploration. The Quebec government has had it explored in the last few years by an engineer of eminence, Mr. O'Sullivan, and his opinion has been summarized by another engineer, Mr. Doucet, in the following language :
From Roberval (which is a station on ths Quebec and Lake St. John Railway) to the western limit of the province of Quebec, a distance of some 375 miles the line runs through a good farming country, the soil being chiefly clay.
I need not continue the quotation, because what follows is simply an amplification of this sentence.
To recapitulate what I have stated on this subject:
It is established that the railway can be easily built across the Rocky mountains by way of the Pine river or the Peace river.
It is established that along these rivers will be found rich prairies equal in fertility to the best land along the Saskatchewan river and the Red river.
It is established that the railway built by way of either the Pine river or the Peace river would place us in communication with the famous Omineca district, famous for its gold mines, which to-day are idle because it is impossible for the miner to get access to them with his tools and provisions, but which probably, the moment we secure access to them, will become valuable and develop into another Klondike.
It is established that the region between Winnipeg and Quebec is a fertile clay belt, rich in good land, rich in timber, rich in water-powers, rich in all those resources which go to make a fine agricultural and industrial country. In fact, it is only within the last four weeks that an important authority on the lumber trade, the ' Lumberman ' of Chicago, stated that this section of country would become the source of supply for the future wood-pulp and paper industry of the world.
Such being the facts, what is the conclusion to be drawn from them ? The conclusion seems to be obvious and imperative : That is, that we must at once
provide for a railway to tap these rich and fertile territories. I will not dwell upon facts which are well known and patent to everybody. Our fertile prairies are becoming settled, and are going forward by leaps and bounds. Thousands and hundreds of thousands of immigrants are coming in every year. For one, two, three generations, at least, and perhaps more, these new settlers will grow cereals, and probably nothing else. They will have need of everything that is required by civilized men. They will have need of clothing, furniture and every other kind of manufacture. Then, Sir, what shall we do ? Shall we allow them to be supplied by our American neighbours, or shall we provide a railway which will enable our manufacturers in Ontario and Quebec to supply them with what they shall require ? There is one thing above all which will be their chief need, and that is lumber. They must have lumber for their houses, their barns, their stables, and all their buildings. Where are they to get it ? Not from the section of country where they live and work, for the lumber is not there.
But luckily for us, the other sections of the road, the section between Moncton and Quebec and the section across the Rocky mountains, are rich in lumber of every kind: and the moment the road is open there will be established at once an important trade 241*
between all the sections covered by the railway. Nor is that all. There is another branch of trade which seems to be forgotten or passed over at present, but which is also of the greatest importance. I refer to the cattle trade. I need hardly tell you, Sir, that the foothills of the Rockies are perhaps to-day the best grazing lands under the sun, and the herds of domestic cattle in those grazing districts are becoming as numerous as were the buffaloes of old. The breeders must find an exit to the ocean. This new line, by its shortness, directness and climatic conditions is an ideal line for the cattle trade. The shipper, when he lands his cattle at Quebec, St. John or Halifax, will have them in the ideal condition of being able to set at once to sea without any loss of weight.
There is another consideration, in some respects even more important, and that is the trade of the Orient. All nations at this moment are competing for the trade of Japan and China, and there is no nation so well situated as Canada to capture that trade. Take a look at the map, and you will find that the route from Europe to the Canadian harbours is the shortest of any of the routes available to European merchants. Take the route which will be opened by this new railway, and you will find that it is the shortest of all the lines across the American continent. Again look at the map and you will find that the route from Port Simpson to the coast of Japan is the shortest of all the routes to that country from the American continent. All these considerations led us to the conclusion that it is our imperative duty not to wait until to-morrow, but to provide at once for the building of such a railway as I have indicated, if it is possible for us to obtain it on reasonable conditions.
It now becomes my duty to lay before the House the conditions on which we are to have this railway built; and, unless I am greatly mistaken, they will astonish friend and foe by their superior excellence. I shall have the honour, before resuming my seat, to lay on the Table a contract entered into between
His Majesty the King, acting in respect of the Dominion of Canada, and herein represented and acting by the Honourable William S. Fielding, acting Minister of Railways and Canals, of the first part ; and Sir Charles Rivers-Wilson, C.B., G.C.M.G. ; the Rt. Hon. Lord Weiby, G.C.B. ; John A. Clutton-Brock, Joseph Price, Alfred W. Smithers, all of the city of London, England1 ; Charles M. Hays, Frank W. Morse and William Wainwright, all of the city of Montreal, in the Dominion of Canada ; and John Bell, of the city of Belleville, in the said Dominion, representing herein and acting on behalf of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company, a company to he incorporated by Act of the parliament of Canada at the present session thereof.
I may say at once that one of the first sections of this contract is to provide that the capital stock of the Grand Trunk Pacific