FOUNDATION FOR HOPE
Canada at the opening of the twentieth century has the same population as the United States at the opening of the nineteenth century. Has the Dominion any material justification for her high hopes of a world destiny? Switzerland possesses national consciousness to an acute degree. Yet Switzerland remains a little people. What ground has Canada for measuring her strength with the nations of the world? Having remained almost stationary in her national progress from 1759 to 1859, what reason has she to anticipate a progress as swift and world-embracing as that which forced the United States to the very forefront of world powers? It takes something more than high hopes to build empire. Has Canada a foundation beneath her high hopes? No nation ever had a more passionate patriotism than Ireland. Yet Ireland has lost her population and retrogressed. Why will the same fate not halt and impede Canada?
It may be acknowledged here that Canadians have no answers for such questions and short shift for the questioner. They are too busy making history to talk about it. It is only the woman insecure of her social position who prates about it. It is only the nation uncertain of herself that bolsters a fact with an argument. Canada is too busy with facts for any flamboyant arguments. It is an even wager that if you ask the average well-informed business man in Canada how many miles of railways the Dominion has, he will answer on the dot “almost thirty thousand.” But if you ask if he knows that Germany, for instance, with nine times denser population has barely twice as much trackage—no, your Canadian business man doesn’t know it. He is too busy building his own railroads to care much what other nations are doing with theirs. Likewise of the country’s trade increasing faster almost than the Dominion can handle it. He knows that imports have increased one hundred and sixty-three per cent. in ten years, and that exports have increased almost fifty per cent.; but he doesn’t realize in the least that the Dominion with seven million people has one-fourth as large a foreign trade as the United States with a hundred million people. He knows that immigration has in ten years jumped from 49,000 a year to 402,000; but does he take in what it means that his country with only five million native born is being called on to absorb yearly a third as many immigrants as the United States with eighty million native born? He has been so busy handling the rush of prosperity that has come in on him like a tidal wave that he has not had time to pause over the problems of this new destiny—the fact, for instance, that in two more decades the newcomers will outnumber the native born.
Unless the edifice be top heavy, beneath it all must be the rock bottom of fact. Beneath the tide is the pull of some eternal law. What facts is Canada building her future on? What pull is beneath the tide of four hundred thousand homeseekers a year? What has doubled population and almost doubled foreign trade?