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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 47

Cost of Labour on Farms—with a few words on that subject

page 44

Cost of Labour on Farms—with a few words on that subject.

All labour is dear in British Columbia.

An ordinary unskilled labourer, such as one would employ to dig or cut fire-wood, receives 1.50 dollar (6s. English) a day; if he can lay claim to skill enough to qualify him to attend to a garden or an orchard, he readily commands 2 dollars (8s. English), or 2.50 dollars (10s. English) a day.

Farm servants, engaged by the month, are paid at wages from 20 to 40 dollars (4l. to 8l. English) per month, with board and lodging, according to the kind of work required of them, and the responsibility of their positions. A few Indians are employed in the seaboard districts, at 15 to 20 dollars (3l. to 4l. English) per month, with board and lodging, by farmers who understand their character. In the interior Indians are largely employed as herders and for general farm work. In Vancouver Island and the New Westminster district, it may be said that a dollar (4s. English) a day, with board and lodging, is the pay of the farm labourer. Higher wages are paid in the interior.

However strong and active a man may be, he cannot expect the highest wage until he knows his work and the ways of the country. At the above high wages, farmers, of course, employ as little labour as possible; indeed, the item of labour is the great leak in the farming business in British Columbia, as it is in most young countries.

The farmer in British Columbia can get good land for nothing, or almost nothing; and he gets as high prices for much of his produce as the English farmer gets. The British Columbian farmer pays no rent, but his labour bill may be set off, to some extent, against the rent of the English farmer.

If the British Columbian farmer can, himself and by his family, do a large share of the farm work, he must make money quickly. That is the point.