The fact that some of the western provinces notoriously ignore a woman’s property rights in her husband’s estate—is sometimes quoted to prove the unfairness of Canada’s laws to women. I am no defender of those lax property laws. They ought to, and will soon, be changed; but let us give even the devil his dues; and the devil in this case was the mad real estate speculation. When thousands of adventurers poured in from everywhere and began buying and selling and reselling property, it impeded quick turn overs to reserve the absent wife’s third. Sometimes, as in the case of a famous actor, the wives numbered four. Ordinarily in Canada—certainly in eastern provinces—a third is the wife’s reserve unless she sign it away. How four wives could each have a third was a poser for the speculator and the knot was cut by ignoring the wife’s claims. Now that the fevered mad mania of speculation is over this remissness of the law in two provinces will doubtless be remedied.
EMIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT
You can ascribe the different characteristics of different nations to the topography of their native land—up to a certain point only. Beyond that the difference becomes one of psychology and soul rather than geography, and that is why nations hold to a large extent their destiny in their own hands. Undoubtedly the unfenced illimitable reaches of the prairie have reacted on the human soul, unshackling it from the discouragements of failure in the past and have given a sense of freedom that explains the dauntless optimism of the West; but if the people who went to the West had not had the courage to face the hardships of the pioneer, their optimism could not have triumphed over difficulties. The very qualities that sent pioneers forth on the trail to the setting sun guaranteed their success as empire builders.
Japan was long an island empire, but it was only when the soul of that empire awakened to the Western Renaissance that Japan became a world power. The German people existed on the map many centuries before they came into existence as a nation. It was only when the national idea came that Germany became a power. Likewise of England as mistress of the seas—the source of her commerce and wealth. England had been a seagirt nation from the beginning of time. It was only when by the defeat of the Armada England learned what mastery of the sea meant that she shot into front rank as a great world power.
How does all this bear on Canada? It is a puzzling question. Ask the average Canadian why the development of Canada has been slow; and he denies that it has been slow; or he proves that it is a good thing it has been slow; or he compares Canada’s progress with that of some other country which has gone too fast, or too slow. All this is a mere clever dodging of fact. Blinking one’s eyes to a fact doesn’t eliminate the fact.