Reign of Queen Victoria - M. B. Synge

The Dominion of Canada

Not only in England could the Queen reflect on the breathless activity of the last sixty years. She had but to glance at her great Dominion of Canada, separated by some six days of sea, to realize the colossal work that had been accomplished since her accession to the throne.

Since the days of her Federation the Dominion had increased, not only in area, but in population and wealth. This was due, not only to the natural resources of the country, the sea, the forest, and the mine, but to the untiring energy, the boundless self-sacrifice, the unceasing toil of Britain's sons and daughters, who have made the Dominion what she is.

There were mighty rivers to be bridged, and great stretches of land to be spanned by railway. Yet no obstacles daunted the Canadians, they never flinched from the gigantic tasks that were set them. With varying success and unvarying determination they steadily pursued the quiet development of the country, till the complete triumph of their efforts was visible. What they wanted was more labour, more emigrants from home to help.

At the Queen's death they had possessed themselves of a country thirty times the size of the British Isles, and they had only one person every square mile. All through the great Victorian age the Canadians were crying to their fellows in Britain to come out to the new lands and till then. But the British emigrated all too slowly, and men from the United States settled in large numbers on the land.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of the century was the construction of the wonderful railway from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean—3,000 miles from shore to shore It was a scheme vast beyond all others in those days, overshadowing all railway engineering in the whole world. On Dominion Day, 1886, the Canadian Pacific Railway was triumphantly opened, and passengers could travel from Quebec to Vancouver in a week.

Having thus established means of communication, Canada developed her resources rapidly. Her chief means of wealth lay in agriculture, minerals, forests, and fisheries. The country has been called the "Granary of the Empire" and the "Bread-basket of the World". Wheat-growing was her main industry, and at the Queen's death nearly half her population were engaged on farms, gardens, and orchards.

Canadian Pacific Railway


Education and co-operation soon produced results throughout the Dominion which have brought ever-increasing wealth to the people. School gardens, Colleges of Agriculture, special teachers, and departments of research reduced agriculture to a science, and caused the fertile land to yield superabundant crops.

The rush to Klondyke goldfields in 1897 led men to turn their thoughts towards the mineral resources of the country, though the silver mines at Cobalt had already promised to be among the richest in the world, the coalfields of Nova Scotia had become famous, and the prospects of the Dominion as an iron-producing land were looking brighter year by year.

The forests of Canada covered an area six times the size of France, and contained an almost inexhaustible supply of timber. They contained 120 different kinds of trees, including pine, oak, elm, beech, maple, and walnut. Here was timber for providing the finest cabinet wood, masts for the largest sailing ships, planks and even paper largely made from the pulp of spruce and poplar. The great logs were floated down the broad rivers in their millions to the ports, whence they were shipped across the ocean. She sent her largest quantities to Britain and the United States.

Canadian Wheat field


Her fisheries, with her 13,000 miles of coast-line, were the largest in the world, and afforded employment to 80,000 of her inhabitants.

On the Atlantic coast, cod, lobster, herring, mackerel, and haddock were the principal fish; the great lakes supplied trout, pike, and sturgeon; while British Columbia produced vast quantities of salmon.

Such, then, were the products of the Dominion, of which more than half were taken by the Mother Country and about a quarter by the United States. Such, indeed, was her trade with Britain, that in the year 1897 Canada decided in favour of a customs arrangement with Great Britain and her colonies, the goods imported from these. parts of the Empire coining into the Dominion on payment of one-third less duties than those levied on goods coming from other countries.