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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 47

Rough Sketch of East Cascade Region

Rough Sketch of East Cascade Region.

The general features of its surface may be described in a few words—rugged Alpine masses, wooded on their slopes and holding lakes, swamps, and moist meadows in their embrace—arid mountain ranges and ridges crossing and recrossing—rolling wooded hills and grassy hillocks—tablelands, generally of high elevation, often of great extent, with and without forest—long terraced river-channels or valleys—wide, open valleys—deep, narrow, wooded valleys—short valleys (often called "prairies")—a land also of lakes—innumerable narrow, elongated lakes of all sizes, from the bright pond to the lake 100 miles long, often linked by streams—some lakes steepsided right round their margins, others wall-edged with intervening swamps, but oftener with gently shelving rims backed by open grassy hills. Rivers—smaller than the drainers of such mountain systems might be supposed to be (the light soil absorbs them)—generally deep-grooved and rapid—threading the whole country, bursting through rocky walls—seeking lake after lake—turning and twisting to find a way to the ocean, but for the most part unable to do so, nearly all being finally swallowed up by the Fraser and Columbia rivers. Climate, already described. Trees—An immense area in the southern part of the East Cascade region, say from the Horsefly district south to the American boundary, is generally unwooded. There are wide expanses of open land without trees, or only with belts, clumps, and dots of cone-bearing trees without underbrush—extending, however, into forests as the Rocky Mountains or their flanking ridges are approached, and again towards the northern and north-western portions of the region, say beyond the line of the Horsefly district and Williams Lake. Remotely, in the north-west, the country again becomes, in many parts, thinly wooded, and the firs are rarer. In the neighbourhood of the Skena, the maples and Cottonwood in many parts contrast cheeringly with the sombre hues of the conifers that abound in the Valley of the Fraser.

To attempt to sum up the capabilities of this great region (itself but a portion of the province of British Columbia) would, in the present condition of our knowledge of it, be an offence against common sense. We know a little about parts of the region, and may offer a few remarks accordingly.

page 56

Taking into consideration the healthfulness of the climate, with its short winters and long, bright summers, the fertile soil, vast extent of grass pasture, streams filled with fish, the abundance of minerals, and grand mountain and valley scenery—adding to these considerations the quantity of vacant public land open to settlement, and the comparatively small expense required to form a settlement, I know of no region on the continent of North America that holds out equal inducements to suitable settlers. It will be peopled by a happy and prosperous community within a few years after the opening of a railway through it, which shall supply cheap transportation for immigrants and their supplies, and for mining machinery.

The main drawback to this fine country at present is the want of quick and cheap transportation. This drawback will be removed by the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Farmers have produced, by the aid of a simple process of irrigation, wheat, barley, oats, Indian corn, timothy hay, potatoes, carrots, turnips, cabbages, tomatoes, muskmelons, watermelons, grapevine, tobacco, broom corn, sweet almond, castor-oil plant, peach, and almost all other fruits.

Fern is seldom seen in the East Cascade region. A few mosquitoes only are found along wooded watercourses. In some parts, flies trouble the animals.