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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 52

How they Succeed in Canada

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How they Succeed in Canada.

Buckle crest of the Cobden Club

For the present farmers of Great Britain the question is—What are they to do? This cry is going up from all parts of Britain. The question is frequently asked, but never satisfactorily answered. Let us see if an answer can be given from Canada, and from an emigrant of fifty years' experience. The writer is an Englishman. He was bred on a farm in England, and learned every branch of English farming. He was bred up in comfort and luxury; then turned to industry, with the idea of emigrating; and finally came to Canada, when the greater part of it was unbroken forest. He, therefore, knows both England and Canada.

His idea is—"Let the British farmer do willingly in Britain what he will be forced to do if he emigrates, and he will find that his success in Britain will equal, if not surpass, any success which he can expect or hope to attain in any colony, and at a far less expense of comfort and labour than he would suffer if he tore himself up by the roots from his British home, and attempted to transplant himself to a new country."

The British farmer of the present day is not fit for the struggles and trials of a new land. He is too far advanced in life; his habits and ideas are fixed and established; and to expect such a man to succeed in a new land is hopeless. Canada is a great country, and has been made such by emigration; but by what class of emigrants? By the hard-handed, industrious, and temperate British labourer, who has taken the axe in his hands, has felled the forests, and raised grain amongst the stumps and roots of the trees, which he has cut down and burned, and finally made a cleared and cultivated farm where there was an interminable page break wilderness of trees. He commenced his colonial life in a log-shanty, scarcely better than a hog-pen; then he proceeded to a log-house, from that to a comfortably-framed residence, and finally to the handsome brick or stone villa in which he now resides.

There is no chance for the present British farmer to do this. His life is too far spent; his habits and experience, and those of his wife, are not equal to it. His sons may, if they will, come out here and begin at the bottom round of the ladder; but if they have money and do not begin at the bottom, failure and ruin will be the consequence. If he cannot or will not begin low enough, he will never obtain the goal of his ambition. The present British farmer (if he emigrates) begins where the colonial farmer leaves off. He has capital, or no one in Britain would rent him a farm. He has a thorough knowledge of scientific agriculture, or he could never meet his first year's rent from the produce of his land. But in a colony his capital would be sunk in struggles to do as he has been used to do; his knowledge would be wasted on imperfectly-cleared land, where everything is exactly opposite to what he has been accustomed to.

What is required in an emigrant is "muscle," not "mind." He must have youth and an indomitable will, or he could not set his muscles in profitable motion. "Mind" he must, of course, have, even although his mind may be forming whilst his muscles are winning the battle, or he could not make use of the victory which those muscles have won. It is useless to expect all this from a man of middle age and of what, in a colony, would be considered luxurious habits. The emigrant must be the man of the axe, the hoe, and the spade—the man who can take hold of the lever and pile up the log heaps before he burns them. When he has burned them up, he can scratch the ground among the stumps and roots with the roughest possible implements, and then sow his grain where the log heaps stood.

I have known a man who had no means, and no help but his wife, who had no plough or harrow, who, with his wife, cut down the trees, built the log heaps, and who, when he had burned them and sowed his wheat, covered it by dragging a great thorn bush, hauled by himself, his wife, and possibly by a borrowed ox or horse. And yet that man bought and finally paid for his land, and eventually won the battle of labour, and finally became a prosperous agriculturist. He was a German.

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Could the present British farmer do this? If he could not (and he could not), he is unfit for a new country.

But what is the present British farmer to do? Let him realise what he has, move to another part of the country where his "come down" will not be observed, take a new farm amongst new neighbours, give up his hunters, his dogs, and guns, go to work himself when required, take hold of his own plough, be his own shepherd or byreman, and generally take a lower stand—"the stand of industry and hard work." He cannot, of course, stint his farm, but he must stint himself and his family—banish wine and spirits, and if he cannot, or will not, do without beer (as he easily could and ought), let him brew it himself, or get it brewed by some experienced woman in the village. Stop hunting, shooting, coursing, and all such sports, which are only a waste of time. In all matters of expense which the land does not absolutely require, let him hold on to every sixpence until, as the Yankees say, "he has left the mark of his thumb-nail in it."

Let him do all this, and he will not incur one quarter of the deprivations which he would incur by emigrating.

No man could expect him to "come down" in his present place, and amongst his present friends—it would be too hard; but let him move away—he won't move so far as if he was emigrating.

But it will naturally be said, How does the writer know all this?—what experience has he had that he can lay down the law for others? In reply, he says:—I was bred on a farm in England, and naturally, therefore, know all about it. As to Canada, since I have been here I have sold and helped to sell nearly 2,000,000 of acres of bush land—mostly in 100, 200, and 50-acre lots. It was all sold on credit, small sums only being paid down. I have had to watch the proceedings of the people, and have seen their progress and marked their successes and failures, and finally received from them (by myself and others) the price they were to pay for their farms; I, in fact, looked over the game, and naturally saw more than those engaged in it. Experience could no farther go. These struggles I have seen go on for half a century, and am therefore well posted in the facts about which I write.

It is impossible to give the particulars of these struggles, but I will mention two of them.

1. A few days since I met a man in the street; he stopped me page break and said, "Are not you the man who used to be in the land office?" I said, "Yes; who are you?" for I had forgotten him. He said, "I knowed you was. I bought my land from you more than twenty years ago. I gave four dols. an acre for it, a great price in those days, but it is now well cleared, and has good buildings on it, and I could get eighty dols. an acre for it tomorrow. I have now ninety-five acres cleared." Further inquiry brought him to my recollection. "Now," said he, you remember when I paid you the money; well, I paid fourteen per cent, for it, and it was a hard pull, but it is all paid now, and the land is my own. I have also settled out three of my sons, and they are all doing well." We shook hands, and I wished him good-bye.

2. Another of my people, one "Bassingthwaight," when he bought his place, I asked him how to spell his name; he replied, "I do not know; I can neither read, write, nor spell; but you must put fifteen letters in it, and then it will be right." This I did as well as I could as above. He had more to pay than he expected, and when he left me he had only 7s. 6d. with which to commence his work, and he had seventy miles to travel. I wanted him to take back some of what he had paid, but he refused, and said he could get a few days' work on his road home. I was sure at once that he would do well. Some years after, when he had got a good clearing and a good deal of stock round him, a mad dog got into his farmyard and destroyed every one of his stock except the horses; they had been in the stable.

It left the poor fellow very bare, but he bought others on credit, and struggled up again, and finally paid for his land. He had ten children. He is now wealthy, and has set out all his family. He is an Englishman.

Of course, in the end, although it may be some time first, the loss in values in Britain will fall where it ought to fall—viz., on the landlord. He has given far too much for his property, and he cannot expect to receive the rents which he formerly did; he will most likely be obliged to take one-half, or even less. He cannot work the land himself. The tenant has the knowledge and skill; and knowledge and skill, wherever they exist, are expensive articles, and must be paid for.

E. L. Culle.

Messrs. Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage Yard, London, E.C., supply this Leaflet in packets of 100, price 2s.