The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 44
Chapter II. — The Earl of Dufferin, Governor of Canada, on Manitoba and the North-West
The Earl of Dufferin, Governor of Canada, on Manitoba and the North-West.
In the summer of 1877 Lord Dufferin, in pursuance, as announced by him in public speeches, of a policy of personally visiting all the Provinces within his government, made a tour of Manitoba and part of Keewatin.
"I beg to thank you most warmly for the kind and hearty welcome you have extended to me, on my arrival in your flourishing city, which you rightly designate the metropolis of the North-West, page 5 the living centre which is destined to animate with its vital energies, the rich alluvial region whose only limit appears to be an ever receding horizon..............I am not by any means unacquainted with. the record of your achievements; indeed, it is probable that there is no Province in the Dominion with whose situation I am better acquainted, so far as information in such respects can be obtained from books and Parliamentary papers; and it is to perfect, verify and extend that knowledge by personal intercourse with your leadings citizens, and by an inspection of the richness of your territory, that, I have come amongst you............. I have no doubt that this city and Province generally, nay, the whole territory of the North-West, is now illuminated by the dawn of a groat advancement.. Although it will not be my good fortune personally to preside much longer over your destinies, I need not assure you that your future will always command my warmest sympathies and continue to. attract my closest attention, and I trust that, though at a distance, I may live to see the fulfilment of many of your aspirations."
Lord Dufferin very warmly acknowledged the loyalty of the people.. In reference to the city of Winnipeg, it may be here remarked that when it entered the Dominion in 1870. it was simply a Hudson Bay trading station and hamlet, containing about 200 inhabitants It is in 1877 a city containing about 7,000 inhabitants, with many large and handsome buildings, churches, schools and colleges, and the seat of a very active business. The belief of its. people is that it will become the Chicago of the North-West; and it. is pointed out that the early history of Chicago, within the memory of men now living, cannot establish so rapid a growth as that of Winnipeg since it entered Confederation with Canada:
"Pleased and grateful as I am for the preparations you have made, what causes me the greatest pleasure of all is to feel that I am surrounded by a hardy, industrious, and manly community, animated by the desire to advance the renown of the British Empire, by establishing in this distant land the foundations of a settlement that in after years will become as rich and prosperous as any other on this side of the Atlantic. I can well understand that you should all look forward with the greatest interest to the completion of that great line of railway which is to connect the Atlantic with the-Pacific, and bind together in an indissoluble bond all the Provinces of the Dominion. I wish you to understand that I come here not only as an official of the British Government, but as the personal representative of your beloved Sovereign, who takes the deepest interest in your welfare, and who is always anxious to be informed as to the circumstances of the most distant of her subjects. It was page 6 only the other day that, in anticipation of my visit to this Province, Her Majesty was pleased to lay upon me her personal commands to render her a faithful and accurate account of my visit, and more especially to inform her as to the condition and well-being of her people in this Province."
"We are pleased to be able to state that we are satisfied in the highest degree with the country and the soil, and also the manner in which the government have kept their promises to us. Your Excellency has now the opportunity of seeing for yourself what we have accomplished during our short residence. You see our villages, our fields, and our bountiful harvest—witnesses in themselves that the -capabilities of the country have not been misrepresented to us. Under the guidance and protection of Divine Providence, we have every reason to look forward confidently to great future prosperity, our villages multiplied, and our herds increased. We are contented and willing to obey the laws of the land, but we cannot reconcile our religious belief with the performance of military duty."
"You have come to a land where you will find the people with whom you are to associate engaged indeed in a great struggle, and contending with foes which it requires their best energies to encounter. But those foes are not your fellow-men, nor will you be called upon in the struggle to stain your hands with human blood—a task which is so abhorrent to your religious feelings. The war to which we invite you as recruits and comrades is a war waged against the brute forces of nature; but those forces will welcome our domination and reward our attack by placing their treasures at our disposal. It is a war of ambition—for we intend to annex territory after territory—but neither blazing villages nor devastated fields will mark our ruthless track; our battalions will march across the illimitable plains which stretch before us, as sunshine steals athwart the ocean; the rolling prairie will blossom in our wake, and corn and peace and plenty will spring where we have trod.page 7
"The forms of worship you have brought with you, you will be able to practise in the most unrestricted manner, and we confidently trust that those blessings which have waited upon your virtuous exertions, in your Russian homes, will continue to attend you here; for we hear that you are a sober-minded and God-fearing community, and as such you are doubly welcome among us. It is with the greatest pleasure I have passed through your villages, and witnessed your comfortable homesteads, barns and byres, which have arisen like magic upon this fertile plain, for they prove indisputably that you are expert in agriculture, and already possess a high standard of domestic comfort. In the name, then, of Canada and her people, in the name of Queen Victoria and her empire, I again stretch out to you the hand of brotherhood and good fellowship, for you are as welcome to our affections as you are to our lands, our liberties and freedom. In the eye of our law the least among you is the equal of the highest magnate in our land, and the proudest of our citizens may well be content to hail you as his fellow-countrymen. You will find Canada a beneficent and loving mother, and under her fostering care, I trust your community is destined to flourish and extend in wealth and numbers through countless generations. In one word, beneath the flag whose folds now wave above us you will find protection, peace, civil and religious liberty, constitutional freedom and equal laws."
"Men and Women of Iceland, now Citizens of Canada, and Fellow Subjects of Her Majesty the Queen:
"When it was my good fortune twenty years ago to visit your island, I never thought that the day would come when I should be called upon, as the representative of the British Crown, to receive you in this country; but the opportunities I have thus had of becoming acquainted with your dramatic history, with your picturesque literature, and the kindness I have experienced at the hands of your country-men, now enable mo with the greater cordiality to bid you welcome. I have learnt with extreme sorrow of the terrible trials to which you have been exposed so soon after your arrival by the unexpected ravages of a terrible epidemic. Such a visitation was well calculated to damp your spirits and to benumb your energies, aggravating as it did those inevitable hardships which attend the first efforts of all colonists to establish themselves in a new land. The precautions which the Local Government was reluctantly compelled to take to prevent the spreading of the contagion through the Province must also have been both galling and disadvantageous, but I trust that the discouragements which attended your advent amongst us have now forever passed away, and that you are fairly embarked on a career of happiness and prosperity.
"Indeed, I understand that there is not one amongst you who is not perfectly content with his new lot, and fully satisfied that the change which has taken place in his destiny is for the better. During a hasty visit like the present, I cannot pretend to acquire more than a superficial insight into your condition, but so far as I have observed, things appear to be going sufficiently well with you. The homesteads I have visited seem well built and commodious, and are certainly far superior to any of the farmhouses I remember in Iceland, while the gardens and little clearings which have begun to surround them show that you have already tapped an inexhaustible store of wealth in the rich alluvial soil on which we stand. The three arts most necessary to a Canadian colonist are the felling of timber, the ploughing of land, and the construction of highways, but as in your own country none of you had ever seen a tree, a cornfield, or a road, it is not to be expected that you should immediately exhibit any expertness in these accomplishments, but practice and experience will soon make you the masters of all three, for you possess in a far greater degree than is probably imagined that which is the essence and foundation of all superiority—intelligence, education and intellectual activity. In fact I have not entered a single hut or cottage in the settlement which did not contain, no page 9 matter how bare its walls or scanty its furniture, a library of twenty or thirty volumes; and I am informed that there is scarcely a child amongst you who cannot read and write.
"Secluded as you have been for hundreds of years from all contact with the civilization of Europe, you may in many respects be a little rusty and behind the rest of the world; nor perhaps have the conditions under which you used to live at home—where months have to be spent in the enforced idleness of a sunless winter—accustomed you to those habits of continued and unflagging industry which you will find necessary to your new existence; but in our brighter, drier, and more exhilarating climate you will become animated with fresh vitality, and your continually expanding prosperity will encourage you year by year to still greater exertions. Beneath the genial influence of the fresh young world to which you have come, the dormant capacities of your race, which adverse climatic and geographical conditions may have somewhat stunted and benumbed, will bud and burgeon forth in all their pristine exuberance, as the germs which have been for centuries buried beneath the pyramids and catacombs of Egypt are said to excel in the exuberance and succulence of their growth the corn seeds of last year's harvest. But, as sun and air and light are necessary to produce this miracle, so it will be necessary for you to profit as much as possible by the example and by the intercourse of your more knowledgeable neighbours.
"I have learnt with great satisfaction that numbers of your young women have entered the households of various Canadian families, where they will not only acquire the English language, which it is most desirable you should all know, and which they will be able to teach their brothers and sisters, and—I trust I may add, in the course of time, their children—but will also learn those lessons of domestic economy and housewifely neat-handedness which are so necessary to the well-being, health and cheerfulness of our homes.
"I am also happy to be able to add that I have received the best accounts from a great number of people of the good conduct, handiness and docility of these young Ingeborgs, Raghnhildas, Thoras, and Gudruns, who, I trust, will do credit to the epical ancestresses from whom they have inherited their names. Many of the houses I visited to-day bore evident signs, in their airiness, neatness and well-ordered appearance, of possessing a house-wife who had already profited from her contact with the outer world.
"And while I am upon this subject there is one practical hint which I shall venture to make to you. Every single house I visited to-day, many of them being mere temporary huts, with, at the most, two small chambers, was furnished with a large close iron cooking-stove, evidently used not merely for cooking purposes, but also for heating page 10 the habitation. I believe that this arrangement is anything but -desirable, and that, at all events, in those houses where a separate kitchen cannot be obtained an open fireplace should be introduced. I am quite certain that if I were to come amongst you in winter I should find these stoves in full operation, and every crevice in your shanties sealed up from the outer air.
"Now you are surrounded by an inexhaustible supply of the best possible fuel, which can be obtained with comparatively little labour, and consequently economy of coal, which is their chief recommendation, need not drive you to an excessive use of these unwholesome appliances. Our winter air, though sufficiently keen, is healthy and bracing, and a most potent incentive to physical exertion, whereas the mephitic vapours of an over-heated, closely-packed chamber paralyze our physical as well as our mental activities. A constitution nursed upon the oxygen of our bright winter atmosphere makes its owner feel as though he could toss about the pine trees in his glee, whereas to the sluggard simmering over his stove-pipe it is a horror and a nameless hardship to put his nose outside the door.
"I need not tell you that in a country like this the one virtue pre-eminently necessary to every man is self-reliance, energy, and a -determination to conquer an independent living for himself, his wife, and children, by the unassisted strength of his own right arm. Unless each member of the settlement is possessed and dominated by this feeling, there can be no salvation for any one.
"But why need I speak to Icelanders—to you men and women of the grand old Norse race, of the necessity of patience under hardship, courage in the face of danger, dogged determination in the presence of difficulties? The annals of your country are bright with the records of your forefathers' noble endurance. The sons and daughters of the men and women who crossed the Arctic Ocean in open boats, and preferred to make their homes amid the snows and cinders of a volcano rather than enjoy peace and plenty under the iron sway of a despot, may afford to smile at anyone who talks to them of hardship or rough living beneath the pleasant shade of these murmuring branches, and beside the laughing ripples of yonder shining lake.
"The change now taking place in your fortunes is the very converse and opposite of that which befell your forefathers. They fled from their pleasant homes and golden cornfields into a howling wilderness of storm and darkness, ice and lava, but you I am welcoming to the healthiest climate on the continent, and to a soil of unexampled fertility, which a little honest industry on your part will soon turn into a garden of plenty. Nor do we forget that no race has a better right to come amongst us than yourselves, for it is probably to the hardihood of the Icelandic navigators that the world is indebted for the discovery of this continent. Had not Columbus visited your page 11 island and discovered in your records a practical and absolute confirmation of his own brilliant speculations in regard to the existence of western land, it is possible he might never have had the enterprise to tempt the unknown Atlantic.
"Again, then, I welcome you to this country—a country in which you will find yourselves freemen, serving no overlord, and being no man's men but your own: each, master of his own farm, like the Udalmen and "Bonders" of old days; and remember that in coming amongst us you will find yourselves associated with a race both kind-hearted and cognate to your own; nor in becoming Englishmen and subjects of Queen Victoria need you forget your own time-honoured customs or the picturesque annals of your forefathers.
"On the contrary, I trust you will continue to cherish for all time the heart-stirring literature of your nation, and that from generation to generation your little ones will continue to learn in your ancient Sagas that industry, energy, fortitude, perseverance and stubborn endurance have ever been the characteristics of the noble Icelandic race.
"I have pledged my personal credit to my Canadian friends on the successful development of your settlement. My warmest and most affectionate sympathies attend you, and I have not the slightest misgiving but that, in spite of your enterprise being conducted under what of necessity are somewhat disadvantageous conditions, not only will your future prove bright and prosperous, but that it will be universally acknowledged that a more valuable accession to the intelligence, patriotism, loyalty, industry and strength of the country has never been introduced into the Dominion."
"Mr. Mayor, your Honour, Ladies and Gentlemen:
"In rising to express my acknowledgments to the citizens of Winnipeg for thus crowning the friendly reception I have received throughout the length and breadth of Manitoba by so noble an entertainment, I am painfully impressed by the consideration of the many respects in which my thanks are due to you and o so many other persons in the Province. (Applause.)
"From our first landing on your quays until the present moment my progress through the country has been one continual delight—(loud applause)—nor has the slightest hitch or incongruous incident marred the satisfaction of my visit. I have to thank you for the .hospitalities I have enjoyed at the hands of your individual citizens, page 12 as well as of a multitude of independent communities, for the tasteful and ingenious decorations which adorned my route, for the quarter of a mile of evenly-yoked oxen that drew our triumphal car—(applause) —for the universal proofs of your loyalty to the Throne and the Mother Country, and for your personal good-will towards Her Majesty's representative.
"Above all, I have to thank you for the evidences produced on either hand along our march of your prosperous condition, of your perfect contentment, of your confidence in your future fortunes, for I need not tell you that to anyone in my situation, smiling corn-fields, cosy homesteads, the joyful faces of prosperous men and women, and the laughter of healthy children, are the best of all triumphal decorations. (Great applause.)
"But there are others for which I ought to be obliged to you, and not the least for the beautiful weather you have taken the precaution to provide us with during some six weeks of perpetual camping out—(laughter)—for which attention I have received Lady Dufferin's especial orders to render you her personal thanks—an attention which the unusual phenomenon of a casual waterspout enabled us only the better to appreciate; and lastly though certainly not least, for not having generated amongst you that fearful entity 'A Pacific Railway Question'—at all events not in those dire and tragic proportions in which I have encountered it elsewhere. (Great laughter.) Of course I know a certain phase of the railway question is agitating even this community, but it has assumed the mild character of a domestic rather than of an inter-Provincial controversy.
"Two distinguished members, moreover, of my present Government have been lately amongst you, and have doubtless acquainted themselves with your views and wishes. It is not necessary, therefore, that I should mar the hilarious character of the present festival by any untimely allusions to so grave a matter. Well then, ladies and gentlemen, what am I to say and do to you in return for all the pleasure and satisfaction I have received at your hands?
"I fear there is very little that I can say, and scarcely anything that I can do, commensurate with my obligations. Stay—there is one thing at all events I think I have already done, for which I am entitled to claim your thanks.
"You are doubtless aware that a great political controversy has for some time raged between the two great parties of the State as to which of them is responsible for the visitation of that terror of two continents—the Colorado bug. (Great laughter.). The one side is disposed to assert that if their opponents had never acceded to power the Colorado bug would never have come to Canada. (Renewed laughter.)
"I have reason to believe, however, though I know not whether page 13 any substantial evidence has been adduced in support of their assertion—(laughter)—that my Government deny and repudiate having had any sort of concert or understanding with that irrepressible invader. (Roars of laughter.) It would be highly unconstitutional for me, who am bound to hold a perfectly impartial balance between the contending parties of the State, to pronounce an opinion upon this momentous question. (Renewed laughter.)
"But, however disputable a point may be the prime and original authorship of the Colorado bug, there is one fact no one will question, namely, that to the presence of the Governor-General in Manitoba is to be attributed the sudden, total, otherwise unaccountable, and I trust permanent disappearance, not only from this Province, but from the whole North-west, of the infamous and unmentionable "hopper" (loud laughter) whose annual visitations for the last seventeen years have proved so distressing to the agricultural interest of the entire region.
"But, apart from being the fortunate instrument of conferring this benefit upon you—(laughter)—I fear the only further return in my power is to assure you of my great sympathy with you in your endeavours to do justice to the material advantages with which your Province has been so richly endowed by the hands of Providence. From its geographical position, and its peculiar characteristics, Manitoba may be regarded as the keystone of that mighty arch of sister Provinces which spans the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific. (Great applause.) It was here that Canada, emerging from her woods and forests, first gazed upon her rolling prairies and unexplored North-West, and learnt as by an unexpected revelation that her historical territories of the Canadas, her eastern seaboards of New Brunswick, Labrador and Nova Scotia, her Laurentian lakes and valleys, corn lands and pastures, though themselves more extensive than half a dozen European kingdoms (applause,) were but the vestibules and antechambers to that till then undreamt of Dominion, whose illimitable dimensions alike confound the arithmetic of the surveyor and the verification of the explorer. (Tremendous applause.)
"It was hence that, counting her past achievements as but the preface and prelude to her future exertions and expanding destinies, she took a fresh departure, received the afflatus of a more imperial inspiration, and felt herself no longer a mere settler along the banks of a single river, but the owner of half a continent, and in the magnitude of her possession, in the wealth of her resources, in the sinews of her material might, the peer of any power on the earth. (Loud applause.)
"In a recent remarkably witty speech, the Marquis of Salisbury - alluded to the geographical misconceptions often engendered by the page 14 smallness of the maps upon which the figure of the world is depicted. To this cause is probably to be attributed the inadequate idea entertained by the best educated persons of the extent of Her Majesty's North American possessions. Perhaps the best way of correcting such a universal misapprehension would be by a summary of the rivers which flow through them, for we know that as a poor man cannot afford to live in a big house, so a small country cannot support a big river. Now, to an Englishman or a Frenchman the Severn or the Thames, the Seine or the Rhone, would appear considerable streams, but in the Ottawa, a mere affluent of the St. Lawrence, an affluent, moreover, which reaches the parent stream six hundred miles from its mouth, we have a river nearly five hundred and fifty miles long, and three or four times as big as any of them. (Applause.)
"But, even after having ascended the St. Lawrence itself to Lake Ontario, and pursued it across Lake Huron, the Niagara, the St. Clair, and lake Superior to Thunder Bay, a distance of one thousand five hundred miles, where are we? In the estimation of the person who has made the journey, at the end of all things—(great laughter)—but to us who know better, scarcely at the commencement of the great fluvial systems of the Dominion;—for, from that spot —that is to say, from Thunder Bay—we are able at once to ship our astonished traveller on to the Kaministiquias, a river of some hundred miles long. Thence almost in a straight line we launch him on to Lake Shebandowan and Rainy Lake and River—whose proper name by the by is "Rene," after the man who discovered it—a magnificent stream three hundred yards broad, and a couple of hundred miles long, down whose tranquil bosom he floats into the Lake of the Woods, where he finds himself on a sheet of water which, though diminutive as compared with the inland seas he has loft behind him, will probably be found sufficiently extensive to render him fearfully sea-sick—(loud laughter) during his passage across it. For the last eighty miles of his voyage, however, he will be consoled by sailing through a succession of land-locked channels, the beauty of whose scenery, while it resembles, certainly excels, the far-famed Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence. (Loud cheering.)
"From this lacustrian paradise of sylvan beauty we are able at once to transfer our friend to the Winnipeg, a river whose existence in the very heart and centre of the continent is in itself one of nature's most delightful miracles, so beautiful and varied are its rocky banks, its tufted islands, so broad, so deep, so fervid is the volume of its waters, the extent of their lake-like expansions, and the tremendous power of their rapids. (Tremendous applause.)
"At last let us suppose we have landed our traveller at the town page 15 of Winnipeg, the half-way house of the continent, the capital of the Prairie Province, and I trust the future "umbilicus" of the Dominion. (Great cheering.) Having had so much of water, having now reached the home of the buffalo, like the extenuated Falstaff, he naturally "babbles of green fields" (laughter and applause), and careers in imagination over the primeval grasses of the prairie. Not at all. Escorted by Mr. Mayor and the Town Council, we take him down to your quay, and ask him which he will ascend first, the Red River or the Assiniboine, two streams, the one five hundred miles long, the other four hundred and eighty, which so happily mingle their waters within your city limits. (Applause.)
"After having given him a preliminary canter upon these respective rivers, we take him off to Lake Winnipeg, an inland sea three hundred miles long and upwards of sixty broad, during the navigation of which for many a weary hour he will find himself out of sight of land, and probably a good deal more indisposed than ever he was on the Lake of Woods, or even the Atlantic. (Laughter.)
"At the North-West angle of Lake Winnipeg he hits upon the mouth of the Saskatchewan, the gateway and high road to the North-West, and the starting point to another one thousand five hundred miles of navigable water flowing nearly due east and west between its alluvial banks.
"Having now reached the foot of the Rocky Mountains our 'Ancient Mariner '—(laughter)—for by this time he will be quite entitled to such an appellation—knowing that water cannot run up hill feels certain his aquatic experiences are concluded. (Laughter and applause.) He was never more mistaken. (Laughter.) We immediately launch him upon the Athabaska and Mackenzie Rivers, and start him on a longer trip than he has yet undertaken—(laughter) —the navigation of the Mackenzie River alone exceeding two thousand five hundred miles. If he survives this last experience, we wind up his peregrinations by a concluding voyage of one thousand four hundred miles down the Fraser River; or, if he prefers it, the Thompson River to Victoria, in Vancouver, whence, having previously provided him with a first-class return ticket for that purpose he will probably prefer getting home via the Canadian Pacific (Roars of Laughter.)
"Now, in this enumeration, those who are acquainted with the country are aware that for the sake of brevity I have omitted thousands of miles of other lakes and rivers which water various regions of the North-West—the Qu'Appelle River, Belly River, Lake Manitoba, the Winnepegosis, Shoal Lake, &c., &c., along which I might have dragged and finally exterminated our way-worn guest—(laughter)—but the sketch I have given is more than sufficient for my purpose; and when it is further remembered that the most of page 16 these streams flow for their entire length through alluvial plains of the richest description—(applause)—where year after year wheat can be raised without manure, or any sensible diminution in its yield—(hear, hear)—and where the soil everywhere presents the appearance of a highly-cultivated suburban kitchen garden in England, enough has been said to display the agricultural riches of the territories I have referred to—(great applause)—and the capabilities they possess of affording happy and prosperous homes to millions of the human race. (Long continued applause.)
"But in contemplating the vistas thus opened to our imagination, we must not forget that there ensues a corresponding expansion of our obligations. For instance, unless great care is taken, we shall find, as we move westwards, that the exigencies of civilization may clash injuriously with the prejudices and traditional habits of our Indian fellow-subjects. As long as Canada was in the woods, the Indian problem was comparatively easy; the progress of settlement was slow -enough to give ample time and opportunity for arriving at an amicable and mutually convenient arrangement with each tribe with whom we successively came into contact; but once out upon the plains, colonization will advance with far more rapid and ungovernable strides, and it cannot fail, eventually, to interfere with the by no means inexhaustible supply of buffalo, upon which so many of the Indian tribes are now dependent.
"Against this contingency it will be our most urgent and imperative duty to take timely precautions, by enabling the red-man, not by any undue pressure, or hasty or ill-considered interference, but by precept, example, and suasion, by gifts of cattle and other encouragements, to exchange the precarious life of a hunter for that of a pastoral, and eventually that of an agricultural people. (Applause.)
"Happily in no. part of Her Majesty's dominions are the relations existing between the white settlers and the original natives and masters of the land so well understood or so generously and humanely interpreted as in Canada, and as a consequence, instead of being a cause of anxiety and disturbance, the Indian tribes of the Dominion are regarded as a valuable adjunct to our strength and industry, (Hear, hear, and applause.)
"Wherever I have gone in the Province—and since I have been here, I have travelled nearly a thousand miles within your borders —I have found the Indians upon their several reserves, pretermitting a few petty grievances of a local character they thought themselves justified in preferring, contented and satisfied, upon the most friendly terms with their white neighbours, and implicity confiding in the good faith and paternal solicitude of the Government. Applause.)page 17
"In some districts I have learnt with pleasure that the Sioux, who some years since entered our territory under such sinister circum-stances—I do not, of course, refer to the recent visit of Sitting Bull and his people—who, however, I believe are remaining perfectly quiet—are not only peaceable and well behaved, but have turned into useful and hardworking labourers and harvest men; while in the more distant settlements, the less domesticated bands of natives, whether as hunters, voyageurs, guides, or purveyors of our furs and game, prove an appreciably advantageous element in the economical structure of the colony. (Applause.)
"There is no doubt that a great deal of the good feeling thus subsisting between the red men and ourselves is due to the influence and interposition of that invaluable class of men, the half-breed settlers and pioneers of Manitoba—(loud applause)—who, combining as they do the hardihood, the endurance, and love of enterprise generated by the strain of Indian blood within their veins, with the civilization, the instruction, and intellectual power derived from their fathers, have preached the Gospel of peace and good-will, and mutual respect, with equally beneficent results to the Indian chieftain in his lodge and to the British settler in his shanty. (Great applause.)
"They have been the ambassadors between the east and the west the interpreters of civilization and its exigencies to the dwellers on the prairie, as well as the exponents to the white men of the consideration justly duo to the susceptibilities, the sensitive self-respect, the prejudices, the innate craving for justice of the Indian race. (Loud applause.)
"In fact, they have done for the colony what otherwise would have been left unaccomplished, and have introduced between the white population and the red man a traditional feeling of amity and friendship which but for them it might have been impossible to establish. (Cheers.)
"Nor can I pass by the humane, kindly and considerate attention which has ever distinguished the Hudson Bay Company in its dealings with the native population. (Applause.) But though giving due credit to these fortunate influences amongst the causes which are conducing to produce and preserve this fortunate result, the place of honour must be adjudged to that honorable and generous policy which has been pursued by successive Governments towards the Indians of Canada, and which at this moment is being superintended and carried out with so much tact, discretion and ability by your present Lieutenant-Governor (applause) under which the extinction of the Indian title upon liberal terms has invariably been recognized as a necessary preliminary to the occupation of a single square yard of native territory. (Cheering.)
"But our Indian friends and neighbours are by no means the page 18 only alien communities in Manitoba which demand the solicitude of the Government and excite our sympathies and curiosity.
"In close proximity to Winnipeg two other communities—the Mennonites and Icelanders—starting from opposite ends of Europe without either concert or communication, have sought fresh homes within our territory; the one of Russian extraction, though German race, moved by a desire to escape from the obligations of a law which was repulsive to their conscience—the other, bred amid the snows and ashes of an Arctic volcano, by the hope of bettering their material condition. (Applause.)
"Although I have, witnessed many sights to cause me pleasure during my various progresses through the Dominion, seldom have I beheld any spectacle more pregnant with prophecy, more fraught with promise of a successful future, than the Mennonite settlement. (Applause) When I visited these interesting people they had only been two years in the province, and yet in a long ride I took across many miles of prairie, which but yesterday was absolutely bare, desolate and untenanted, the home of the wolf, the badger and the eagle, I passed village after village, homestead after homestead, furnished forth with all the conveniences and incidents of European comfort and a scientific agriculture, while on either side of the road, corn-fields already ripe for harvest and pastures populous with herds of cattle stretched away to the horizon. (Great applause.)
"Even on this continent—the peculiar theatre of rapid change and progress—there has nowhere, I imagine, taken place so marvellous a transformation (cheers); and yet, when in your name, and in the name of the Queen of' England, I bade these people welcome to their new homes, it was not the improvement in their material fortunes that pre-occupied my thoughts. Glad as I was to have the power of allotting them so ample a portion of our teeming soil—a soil which seems to blossom at a touch—(cheering) and which they were cultivating to such manifest advantage, I felt infinitely prouder in being able to throw over them the aegis of the British Constitution—(loud cheers)—and in bidding them freely share with us our unrivalled political institutions, and our untrammelled personal liberty. (Great cheering.)
"We ourselves are so accustomed to breathe the atmosphere of freedom that it scarcely occurs to us to consider and appreciate our advantage in this respect. (Hear, hear.) It is only when we are reminded, by such incidents as that to which I refer, of the small extent of the world's surface over which the principles of Parliamentary Government can be said to work smoothly and harmoniously, that we are led to consider the exceptional happiness of our position. (Applause.)
"Nor was my visit to the Icelandic community less satisfactory page 19 than that to our Mennonite fellow-subjects. From accidental circumstances I have been long since led to take an interest in the history and literature of the Scandinavian race, and the kindness I once received at the hands of the Icelandic people in their own island naturally induced me to take a deep interest in the welfare of this new immigration. (Applause.)
"When we take into account the secluded position of the Icelandic nation for the last thousand years, the unfavourable conditions of their climatic and geographical situation, it would be unreasonable to expect that a colony from thence should exhibit the same aptitudes for agricultural enterprise and settlement as would be possessed by a people fresh from intimate contact with the higher civilization of Europe.
"In Iceland there are neither trees, nor cornfields, nor highways. You cannot, therefore, expect an Icelander to exhibit an inspired proficiency in felling timber, ploughing land, or making roads, yet unfortunately these are the three accomplishments most necessary to a colonist in Canada. But though starting at a disadvantage in these respects, you must not underrate the capacity of your new fellow-countrymen. They are endowed with a great deal of intellectual ability, and a quick intelligence. They are well educated. I scarcely entered a hovel at Gimli which did not possess a library-.
"They are well-conducted, religious and peaceable. Above all they are docile and anxious to learn. (Applause.) Nor, considering the difficulty which prevails in this country in procuring women servants, will the accession of some hundreds of bright, good-humoured, though perhaps inexperienced, yet willing, Icelandic girls, anxious for employment, be found a disadvantage by the resident ladies of the country. Should the dispersion of these young people lead in course of time to the formation of more intimate and tenderer ties than those of mere neighbourhood between the Canadian population and the Icelandic colony, I am safe in predicting that it will not prove a matter of regret on the one side or the other. (Applause.)
"And, gentlemen, in reference to this point, I cannot help remarking with satisfaction on the extent to which a community of interests, the sense of being engaged in a common undertaking, the obvious degree in which the prosperity of any one man is a gain to his neighbours, has amalgamated the various sections of the population of this Province, originally so diverse in race, origin, and religion, into a patriotic, closely welded, and united whole. (Applause.)
"In no part of Canada have I found a better feeling prevailing between all classes and sections of the community. (Cheers.) It is in a great measure owing to this widespread sentiment of brotherhood that on a recent occasion great troubles have been averted, page 20 while at the present moment it is finding its crowning and most triumphant expression in the establishment of a University under conditions which have been found impossible of application in any other Province of Canada—I may say in any other country in the world—(great cheering)—for nowhere else, either in Europe or on this continent, as far as I am aware, have the bishops and heads of the various religious communities into which the Christian world is unhappily divided, combined to erect an Alma Mater to which all the denominational colleges of the Province are to be affiliated, and whose statutes and degrees are to be regulated and dispensed under the joint auspices of a governing body in which all the Churches of the land will be represented. (Great applause.)
"An achievement of this kind speaks volumes in favour of the wisdom, liberality, and Christian charity of those devoted men by whom in this distant land the consciences of the population are led and enlightened, and long may they be spared to see the efforts of their exertions and magnanimous sacrifices in the good conduct and grateful devotion of their respective flocks. (Cheers.) Nor, I am happy to think, is this good fellowship upon which I have so much cause to congragulate you confined either within the limits of the Province or even within those of the Dominion.
"Nothing struck me more on my way through St. Paul, in the United States, than the sympathetic manner in which the inhabitants of that flourishing city alluded to the progress and prospects of Canada and the North-West—(loud applause)—and on arriving here I was equally struck by finding even a more exuberant counterpart of those friendly sentiments. (Great applause.)
"The reason is not far to seek. Quite independently of the genial intercourse promoted by neighbourhood and the intergrowth of commercial relations, a bond of sympathy between the two populations is created by the consciousness that they are both engaged in an enterprise of world-wide importance, that they are both organized corps in the ranks of humanity, and the wings of a great army marching in line on a level front; that they are both engaged in advancing the standards of civilization westwards, and that for many a year to come they will be associated in the task of converting the breadths of prairie that stretch between them and the setting sun into one vast paradise of international peace, of domestic happiness and material plenty. (Great cheering.)
"Between two communities thus occupied it is impossible but that amity and loving kindness should begotten. (Applause.)
"But perhaps it will be asked how can I, who am the natural and official guardian of Canada's virtue, mark with satisfaction such dangerously sentimental proclivities towards her seductive neighbour. I will reply by appealing to those experienced matrons and page 21 chaperones. I see around me. They will tell you that when a young lady expresses her frank admiration for a man, when she welcomes his approach with unconstrained pleasure, crosses the room to sit beside him, presses him to join her picnic, praises him to her friends, there is not the slightest fear of her affections having been surreptitiously entrapped by the gay deceiver. (Loud laughter.)
"On the contrary, it is when she can be scarcely brought to mention his name—(great laughter)—when she alludes to him with malice and disparagement, that real danger is to be apprehended. (Renewed laughter.)
"No! No! Canada both loves and admires the United States, but it is with the friendly, frank affection which a heart-whole stately maiden feels for some big, boisterous, hobbledehoy of a cousin, fresh from school, and elate with animal spirits and good nature. She knows he is stronger and more muscular than herself, has lots of pocket-money (laughter), can smoke cigars and "loaf round" in public places in an ostentatious manner forbidden to the decorum of her own situation. (Uproarious laughter.) She admires him for his bigness, strength and prosperity; she likes to hear of his punching the heads of other boys (laughter); she anticipates and will be proud of his future success in life, and both likes him and laughs at him for his affectionate, loyal, though somewhat patronising friend-ship for herself (great laughter); but of no nearer connection does she dream, nor does his bulky image for a moment disturb her virginal meditations. (Laughter.)
"In a world apart, secluded from all extraneous influences, nestling at the feet of her majestic mother, Canada dreams her dream, and forebodes her destiny—a dream of ever-broadening harvests, multiplying towns and villages, and expanding pastures; of constitutional self-government and a confederated Empire; of page after page of honourable history, added as her contribution to the annals of the Mother Country and to the glories of the British race; of a perpetuation for all time upon this continent of that temperate and well-balanced system of Government which combines in one mighty whole, as the eternal possession of all Englishmen, the brilliant history and traditions of the past with the freest and most untrammelled liberty of action in the future. (Tremendous cheering.)
"Ladies and gentlemen, I have now done. I have to thank you for the patience with which you have listened to me, and once again for the many kindnesses you have done Lady Dufferin and myself during my stay amongst you. Most heartily do I congratulate you upon all that you are doing, and upon the glorious prospect of prosperity which is opening out on every side of you. (Applause.) Though elsewhere in the Dominion stagnation of trade and commerce has checked for a year or two the general page 22 advance of Canada, here at least you have escaped the effects of such sinister incidents, for your welfare being based upon the most solid of all foundations, the cultivation of the soil, you are in a position to pursue the even tenor of your ways untroubled by those alternations of fortune which disturb the world of trade and manufacture. You have been blessed with an abundant harvest, and soon, 1 trust, will a railway come to carry to those who need it the surplus of your produce—now, as my own eyes have witnessed, imprisoned in your storehouses for went of the means of transport. (Cheers.) May the expanding finances of the country soon place the Government in a position to gratify your just and natural expectations. (Great cheering.)"