9 MAY 1885, Page 17


upon the North-West of Canada appeared just in the nick of time in one way, though rather out

of time in another. At a moment when every thought that can be spared from Afghanistan or the Soudan is turned to the boundless plains of North-West Canada, and when Qu'Appelle, Fort Macleod, Calgary, Alberta, Regina, Scc., are becoming nearly as familiar to the readers of the newspapers as Korti and Tamai, a book describing those regions with the intimate knowledge of the "oldest inhabitant," but yet with the freshness of the autumn holiday-maker, is extremely well-timed. But it is a little unfortunate for the trustworthiness of the impressions it records that the last two or three pages of the book are taken up with quotations from a United States panegyric of the Canadian method of dealing with the Indians at a moment when that method appears to have broken down as signally as

that of the States :—

"A single mounted police," we are told, in grammar which sounds somewhat strange to our ears, "will ride hundreds of miles into the camps of those who have committed depredations on our (the States) side, have a talk, and tell them so-and-so is expected of them. Theae instructions are known by each man, woman, and child ere an hour, and are most sacredly kept ; woo be to him who breaks it, be is dealt with most severely. That same messenger will return alcne, demand the particular evil-doer, and in many eases where they have had misdeeds among them, their own men have brought the guilty one to the nearest post. What is the meaning of this dread, and the faithful performance of the laws ? It can be accounted for only in one way. When the Indian enters their borders he is told what is expected of him, and in return for faithful performance, be is provided for. The law is most rigidly carried out on both sides; the promises are always

kept. The evil-doer knows what to expect, and he receives it Here are 400 mounted police who do the work that 15,000 of ours can not or, at least, do not do."

Bat though the Indian system appears to have partially broken down at the moment, yet it is only fair to the Canadian Government to bear in mind that had it not been for the beneficent working of the system as above described, the present disturbances would have been far more serious than they are, and that after all, it is not the Indians proper, but the half-breeds, who, like all half-breeds, are apt to possess the vices of both races, that have caused the disturbances. The system adopted with the Indians is a paternal one. No alcohol may be introduced among them. They are assigned certain large tracts of land as Reserve, "and for the loss of game every man, woman, and child while in the Reserve receives lb. of beef and

2 lb. of flour every second day, and a considerable money payment in each year for the purchase of blankets, clothes, and other necessaries." The system has, of course, converted the Indians into paupers in chronic receipt of out-door relief, or, as Mr. Staveley Hill puts it, into "that class of 'gentlemen' who think that they sufficiently fulfil the object for which they came into the world by sponging upon their fellow-men, betting on horse-races, drinking and idling away their hours, pigeonshooting, and indulging in other low forms of gambling." Their numbers are not really very large. At Fort Macleod, in the fall of 1883, there were only some 5,700 paid for, being the Indian population in the present area of disturbance between the 49th parallel—that is, the United States boundary—and the Bow River. Farther east there is nothing like the same number. Before 1873, whiskey carried them off in large numbers ; and a certain sheriff whom Mr. Hill came across as a fierce guardian of the law in Montana, told him how rapidly he was making a name as a famous desperado, and a fortune, and destroying the Indians, until the Canadian Government put the whiskeytrading down vi et amis. Still, small-pox, helped by the Turkish bath, which the Indians are prone to indulge in, measles and idleness, are reducing their number. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that there can never be in Canada a native difficulty like there is in the Cape, or even so great as there was in New Zealand. In fact, were it not that superior treatment attracts new immigrants from the States, the Indian difficulty would soon be as extinct as the dodo. Those of them who have any capacity for industry would have been absorbed, and the rest would have disappeared. A very moderate degree of industry would enable them to keep themselves. It is true that the vast herds of buffalo which used to roam the prairies have disappeared before the rifle and the forest and prairie-fires; but the district in question is admirably adapted for cattle-raising, and the Indian Reserves are chosen for fertility in soil, in game, and in fish. The rivers abound with trout. The woods are full of raspberries, service-berries, and other fruits. Birds are plentiful. Grass is rich, and there are hills and hollows to shelter cattle from the storms of winter. On this matter, Mr. Staveley Hill speaks with authority. The object of his journeys has been first to select and then to inspect a rancho or cattle-breeding district. With the Earl of Lathom and a syndicate consisting of one or two more he has taken up 100,000 acres of grazingland at a place which, in honour of his home in Staffordshire, he has called "New Oxley ;" and if Oxley means the meadow of the ox, or even if it means water-meadows, the new home would seem to deserve the title as well as, or better than, the old. New Oxley is situated on the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, close to the Porcupine Hills, among the springs of the Little Bow River, not more than twenty. five miles from Fort Macleod, and not much over fifty miles from Calgary. Fort Macleod," the big type of whose name on the map had inspired" Mr. Hill "with a certain respect for its importance," he "was not a little surprised to find represented by a wide, muddy lane, with a row of dirty, half-finished wooden shanties flanking each side, placed on the most exposed and inconvenient piece of prairie that could be found ;" but the trade done is vigorous and lucrative. Calgary is "the one wellselected town site" on the junction of a small stream with the Bow River. Regina, which has been selected as the capital of Assiniboia, enjoyed, till its promotion, the more graphic, if less grand, title of Pile o' Borres, and is described as a wretched place. On the author's first visit there the only accommodation to be bad was the floor of a shanty. He had the privilege, however, of hearing some "winged words," calculated to stick, from one of his floor-fellows, engaged on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who, being told at three o'clock a.m. to fetch up another " constraction train," replied, "Do you think I am going to work day and night, Sundays and weekdays, like a God-dam telegraph-post ?" Language in those parts is usually graphic, if, like the manners, somewhat rough. Mr. Hill tells a good story of a gentleman who was getting into another gentleman's bedroom window uninvited, when he was met by the owner, presenting his revolver at his bead and saying, "You get ;" to which the uninvited guest replied, "You bet !" and got. The want of an invitation is not, however, usually an obstacle to hospitality. In the North-West any " cow-boy " may walk into a strange house and dine, paying the regulation dollar for his dinner. On one occasion a cow-boy walked in as usual, and Ending the family at dinner, stuck his fork into a big piece of beef and deposited it on his plate. "We usually," observed the "Boss," who was, somewhat exceptionally, in the habit of saying grace before meat, "say something before we eat." "Waal, you can just say what you like ; I guess you'll say nothing that'll turn my stomach." Mr. Hill gives a spirited sketch of the cow-boy's life, highly attractive to the kind of person who would go to New Rugby ; only the North-West appears to be superior to Rugby, Tennessee, in every way, and not least because the climate and the Government are both considerably more English. In the grazing country the Government have very wisely refused to grant freeholds to what in Australia would be called the "squatter." They grant leases only for 21 years, reserving minerals and timber, but allowing timber to be cut with licence. The lease may be terminated "on a twoyears' notice if the land is required for settlements, the rights of any settlers upon the ground at the date of the lease being protected, but new settlements during the currency of the lease being prohibited." According to the author, this system is preventing the exhaustion of the grazing-ground which is taking place in the States, where "free-ranging" is the rule, and where the land being everybody's alike, nobody has any interest in its proper treatment with an eye to the future. The leasing system also has the advantage of avoiding what has happened in Australia—the creation of a pastoral aristocracy, with lordships of hundreds of square miles, which the agricultural settler can only enter by paying an exorbitant price. On the other hand, the development of Alberta and Assiniboia might in this way be hindered from being as rapid as that of Manitoba has been, since it would no doubt require considerable Government interest to get a lease determined. The lease is, however, subject to any future withdrawal of lands for grants to Railway Companies, so that practically for some time to come ample provision is made for the agricultural settler in a country where the vast distances make a railway within ten miles a necessity to profitable settlement. It does not, however, seem improbable that these huge grants, even though only by way of lease, may be one of the causes which have caused the half-breed discontent, seeing that they take the land out of the grasp of the poor half-breed, whether for hunting and shooting, or for grazing purposes, and place it in the hands of large and, as in Mr. Hill's case, " alien " monopolists. But again, the country is so vast—Calgary, for instance, is 840 miles from Winnipeg, and more than 2,000 from Toronto— that there is at present room enough and to spare for everybody ; and probably if the land were not taken in huge blocks, it would not be taken at all. Further, though the disturbances have spread to Fort Macleod, the centre of disturbance appears to be in Battleford and the land between the two branches of the Saskatchewan River, which is eminently a grain-growing, and, in Mr. Hill's opinion, one of the very best of grain-growing districts. Nor must it be imagined that " ranching " is a lazy or luxurious life. On one of his visits Mr. Hill and his party were within an ace of being starved or frozen to death by the unexpectedly early coming of a snow-storm. To keep the cattle through the winter implies both toil and hardship. Large herds of cattle are essential to enable the Government to keep its pledges to the Indians, and, in fact, the monopolist is doing good service ; and if the monopoly is not allowed to grow into a permanent claim to the soil, so as to risk an agrarian question in the future, there is little doubt that it promotes the prosperity of the country, and opens up new avenues to lucrative employment for the depressed agriculturist or the restless young public-school man.