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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 47



A word or two will explain the existing provincial markets for farm produce. Victoria and Cariboo are the chief markets at present for surplus stock or produce not wanted in the farmers' own locality. A farming emigrant must consider this in choosing his "location."

page 71

The Island District, also New Westminster District (after the latter has supplied the town of New Westminster, and to some extent the towns of Hope and Yale), also the Similkameen District, may be said to look largely to the Victoria market. Okanagan, Nicola, and Lillooet settlers would look partly to the Victoria market as an outlet for stock, but the roads hardly enable them to reach it. The roads are improved every year.

Osoyoos and Kootenay consume most of their own produce at present.

It is said that Victoria imports butter from the eastern provinces of Canada, and buys 15,000l. worth of beef-cattle every year from the American territory opposite to Vancouver Island.

Settlers in all other parts of the country than those named above, depend mainly for markets on the gold-mining localities of Cariboo, Kootenay, Omineca, &c. The consuming power of a mining-camp of hard-working gold-miners, is probably equal at least to that of a town with four or five times the number of inhabitants, composed of both sexes, and young and old.

The settler will see on the map the position of these chief consuming centres, namely, Victoria and Cariboo.

In choosing his "location" the settler further will look to the future. He will consider where it is reasonably likely that gold, coal, or silver mining land may be discovered, or where any other industry, such as cattle or sheep farming, or fishing, or saw-milling is likely to concentrate population.

For instance, think of the industries and occupations radiating from Cariboo—the mining heart of the mainland—consider the unsupplied demand for beef, butter, &c., in commercial Victoria, or reflect upon what King Coal has done at Nanaimo. A single coal-mine in full work appears to be worth an addition of at least 1500 to the population, probably more, if one considers the workmen and their families, the trades they support, the visitors in vessels, the farming districts which supply the mining neighbourhood with meat-and vegetables. If the other coal mines now being opened on the east coast of the island begin work vigorously, and a demand continues for the fine sandstone from the Newcastle Quarry, the east coast island farmers will have a home market for whatever they produce, increasing beyond their power to supply it, and Victoria must continue to look to the New Westminster district, or elsewhere, for her requirements. In the latter district, however, we find already a considerable town, flourishing saw-mills, and promising fisheries. If, additionally, the silver mines near Hope should be worked, the New Westminster district farmers themselves will have a home demand which they may not be able fully to supply. These probabilities show to the emigrant the advantages of settling in a mineral country, and particularly in a country with such varied mineral and other resources as British Columbia. So far as the first settlers are concerned, the comparative scarceness of attractive accessible tillage land is in their favour, for the land will be high-priced in course of time, in proportion to its scarcity.

Particularly at this time, the settler, in choosing a "location," must have regard to the effect of the making of the Canadian Pacific Railway through the province. The local demand for farm produce in British Columbia will be largely increased at the places where the work of making the railway is actively progressing, and the opening of the line will provide new outlets for farm produce generally.

page 72

If more farms are not started in British Columbia, the demand created by the making of the railway will benefit Oregon and California, instead of British Columbia. The temporary presence of the Canadian Railway surveyors in 1872 raised wheat one-fourth of a cent a pound in the Kamloops-Shuswap district.

There is no reason why the markets of China and England should not be used for the surplus grain of British Columbia, as soon as the farming population is increased in number, and systematic works of irrigation and reclamation aid and enable them to produce a surplus.

Under the head of sheep-farming I will mention markets for wool.

As regards cattle, it will be some time before the cattle-farmer will have to look for markets outside the province. I may point out, however, that when the Canadian Pacific Railway is finished, British Columbia will be to England the nearest extensive grazing country, capable of rearing great herds of cattle chiefly on natural grasses. Central Canada will not be able to compete in cattle rearing with her more western sister territory, owing to the long keen winter and want of shelter. Central Canada for wheat; British Columbia for beef and mutton. British Columbia will be nearer to England than the River Plate or Texas, and is a finer and healthier grazing country than either. (See p. 60, also see Appendix.)