The Canadian Commonwealth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 281 pages of information about The Canadian Commonwealth.
the new Dominion humbly set herself to build the foundations of a nation.  She did not know whether she could do what she had set herself to do; but she began with that same dogged idealism and faith in the future which had buoyed up her first settlers; and there were dark days during her long hard task, when the whiff of an adverse wind would have thrown her into national bankruptcy—­that winter, for instance, when the Canadian Pacific had no money to go on building and the Canadian government refused to extend aid.  Had the Kiel Rebellion of ’85 not compelled the Dominion government to extend aid so that the line would be ready for the troops every bank in Canada would have collapsed, and national credit would have been impaired for fifty years.

Meanwhile, a country of less than four million people set itself to link British Columbia with Montreal, and Montreal with Halifax, and Ottawa with Detroit, and the Great Lakes with the sea.  The story is too long to be related in detail, but on canals alone Canada has spent a hundred millions.  Including stocks, bonds, funded debt and debenture stock, the Dominion railways have a capital of $1,369,992,574; and the country that had not a foot of railroads, when the patriots fought the Family Compact, to-day possesses twenty-nine thousand miles of trackage,[2] three transcontinental systems of railroads and threescore lines touching the boundary.[3] Five times more tonnage passes through the Canadian Soo Canal than is expected for Panama or has passed through Suez; but consider the burden of this development on a people whose farmers were scarcely clearing one hundred dollars a year.  It is putting it mildly to say that during these dark days property depreciated two-thirds in value.  Land companies that had loaned up to two-thirds the value of farm property found themselves saddled with farms which could not be sold for half they had advanced on the loan.

Three times within the memory of the living generation Canadian delegates sought trade concessions in Washington; and three times they came back rebuffed, with but a grimmer determination to work out Canada’s own destiny.  Is it any wonder, when the fourth time came and Canada was offered reciprocity that she voted it down?

During the twenty dark years Canada lost to the United States one-fourth her native population.[4] During the last ten years she has drawn back to her home acres not only many of her expatriated native born but almost two million Americans.  In ten years her population has almost doubled.  Uncle Sam has boasted his four billion yearly foreign trade from Atlantic ports.  Canada with a population only one-twelfth Uncle Sam’s to-day has a foreign trade of almost a billion.


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The Canadian Commonwealth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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