The Canadian Commonwealth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 231 pages of information about The Canadian Commonwealth.

When an admiral’s fleet is sunk within ten days’ sail of Victoria and Vancouver, Laurier’s naval policy to build war vessels, and Borden’s to contribute to their purchase for service in the British Navy take on different aspect to Canada; and the Dominion enters a new era in her development, as one of the dominant powers in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific.  That is—­she must prepare to enter; or sit back the helpless Korea of America.  A country with a billion dollars of commerce a year to defend cuts economy down to the danger line when she spends not one per cent. of the value of her foreign commerce to protect it.  Like the United States, Canada has been inclined to sit back detached from world entanglements and perplexities.  That day has passed for Canada.  She must take her place and defend her place or lose her identity as a nation.  The awakening has gone over Canada in a wave.  One awaits to see what will come of it.

Much, of course, depends upon the outcome of the great war.  If Britain and her allies triumph—­and particularly if peace brings partial disarmament—­the urgency of preparation on Canada’s part will be lessened.  But should Germany win or the duel be a draw, then may Canada well gird up her loins and look to her safety.

CHAPTER XVII

THE DOMAIN OF THE NORTH

I

Canada does not like any reference to her fur trade as a national occupation.  Of course, it is no longer a national occupation.  It occupies, perhaps, two thousand whites and it may be twenty or thirty thousand Indians.  More Indians in Canada earn their living farming the reserves than catching fur, but the Indians north of Athabasca and Churchill and in Labrador must always earn their living fur hunting.  Of them there is no census, but they hardly exceed thirty thousand all told.  The treaty Indians on reserves now number a hundred thousand.  Yet, though only two thousand whites are fur-trading in Canada, no interpretation of Canadian life is complete without reference to that far domain of the North, where the hunter roams in loneliness, and the night lights whip unearthly through still frosty air, and no sound breaks leagueless silence but the rifle shot, crackle of frost or the call of the wolf pack.  It will be recalled that Canada’s first settlers came in two main currents from two idealistic motives.  The French came to convert the Indians, not to found empire, and the English Loyalists came from the promptings of their convictions.  Both streams of settlers came from idealistic motives, but both had to live, and they did it at first by fur hunting.  Jean Ba’tiste, the Frenchman, who might have been a courtier when he came, promptly doffed court trappings and donned moccasins and exchanged a soldier’s saber for a camp frying-pan and kept pointing his canoe up the St. Lawrence till he had threaded every

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The Canadian Commonwealth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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