Horse and cattle ranching has appealed to the Englishman from the first, and as great fortunes have been realized from it in Canada as in Argentina. However, the day of unfenced pasture ground is past; and in reselling ranches for farms, many English investors have multiplied their fortunes. In the outdoor life and freedom from conventional cares—there has been a peculiar charm in ranch life. In no life are the grit and efficiency of the well-bred in such marked contrast with the puling whine and shiftlessness of the settler from the cesspool of the city slums. I have gone into a prairie shanty where an Englishwoman sat in filth and rags and idleness, cursing the country to which she had come and bewailing in cockney English that she had come to this; and I have gone on to an English ranch where there presided some young Englishman’s sister, who had literally never done a stroke in her life till she came to Canada, when in emergency of prairie fire, or blizzard, or absent ranch hands, she has saddled her horse and rounded to shelter herds of cattle and droves of ponies. She didn’t boast about it. She probably didn’t mention it, and when winter came, she would go off for her holiday to England or California. Having come of blood that had proved itself fit in England, she proved the same strain of blood in Canada; and to this class of English Canada gives more than a welcome. She confers charter rights.
Lack of domestic help will long be the great drawback for English people on the prairie. You may bring your help with you if you like. If they are single, they will marry. If they are married, they will take up land of their own and begin farming for themselves. It is this which forces efficiency or exterminates—on the prairie. Let no woman come to the prairie with dolce far niente dreams of opalescent peaks, of fenceless fields and rides to a horizon that forever recedes, with a wind that sings a jubilate of freedom. All these she will have; but they are not ends in themselves; they are incidental. Days there will be when the fat squaw who is doing the washing will put all the laundry in soap suds, then roll down her sleeves and demand double pay before she goes on. Prairie fires will come when men are absent, and women must know how to set a back fire; and whether the ranch hands are near or far, stock must never be allowed to drive before a blizzard. The woman with iron in her blood will meet all fate’s challenges halfway and master every emergency. The kind that has a rabbit heart and sits down to weep and wail should not essay adventures in the Canadian West.
I said that England’s colonies depended on the Mother Country for protection from attack by land and sea. Of the vessels calling at Canadian ports, three-fifths are British, one-fifth foreign, and one-fifth Canadian. Whore England is the great sea carrier for Europe, Canada has not wakened up to establish enough sea carriers for her own needs.