Now mark what happened when the free-trade Liberals found they could obtain no tariff concessions from the United States! They had gibed Sir John for committing the country to one transcontinental railroad. They now launched two more transcontinental railroads—east and west, not north and south. Subsidies were poured into the lap of steamship companies to attract them to Canadian ports; and thirty-eight millions in all were spent improving navigation in the St. Lawrence. Wherever Clifford Sifton sent agents to drum up settlers trade agents were sent to drum up markets. Then—as Sir Richard Cartwright acknowledged—the Liberals were traveling in the most tremendous luck. An era of almost opulent prosperity seemed to come over the whole world. Gold was discovered in Klondike. Germany opened unexpected markets for copper ores. Number One Hard Wheat became famous in Europe. Canadian apples, Canadian butter, Canadian meats began to gather a fame of their own. Canada was no longer dependent on American markets. There was more demand for Canadian products in European markets than could be filled. Then came the tidal wave of colonists. This created an exhaustless market for farm produce within Canada’s borders, and within three years—in spite of the tariff—imports of manufacturers from the United States doubled. American factories and flour mills and lumber mills sprang up on the Canadian side by magic. In this era Canada was actually importing ten million dollars’ worth of food a year for one western province, and the cost of living in ten years increased fifty-one per cent.
Came a turn in the wheel! The wheel has a tricky way of turning up the unexpected between nations. A new era had come to the United States. Kansas was no longer feeding wheat to hogs. In fact, the decrease in wheat exports had become so alarming that men like Hill of Great Northern fame and James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture, actually predicted that there would come a day of bread famine in the United States. The population of the United States had grown faster than the country’s production of food. There was an appalling decrease of meat animals. American packers were establishing branch houses all through Canada. As for metals, with the superabundance of gold from Yukon and Nevada, there did not seem any limit to the world’s power to absorb what was produced. The almost limitless timber lands of the northwestern states passed into the hands of the great trusts. Buyers of print paper in the United States became alarmed at the impending shortage of wood pulp.