Canada and the North American Continent
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THERE has been, from time to time, in previous chapters, as occasion demanded, reference to the United States, by way of making comparisons. Owing to the fact that the North American continent is, for the most part, occupied in nearly equal divisions by two sections of the same race, such comparisons are quite natural, and may still be further pursued in a friendly spirit. The comparisons which we now propose to make, however, do not relate to people or institutions or social status, but rather to economic and industrial conditions, based on natural resources and geographical positions.
It is hard to conceive of two countries having so extensive a boundary in common, but yet possessing so many contrasting features. This diversity of natural features is fairly well defined by the international boundary. The United States is a comparatively elevated country, while Canada is quite the opposite, which fact is at least of great advantage to Canada. Canada is also a land of extensive forests of the most economic varieties of lumber, while the United States, though having extensive forests, partakes more of the nature of a prairie country through a great part of its area.
In the extent, variety and distribution of the economic minerals, also, Canada can claim a distinct superiority.
Canada is also a land of lakes and rivers of endless number and variety, which marks another feature of contrast favorable to this country. The hope of a nation today, according to present indications, is not based so much on its extent as it is on its chances for commercial and industrial supremacy. England might be quoted in support of this fact. The question is, who has these advantages on the North American continent ? A dispassionate view of the situation leads to the conclusion that the advantage is largely in favor of this Dominion.
Early as the time is in the development of Canadian resources, the advantages afforded by way of location and distribution, as well as of both quantity and quality, is already beginning to influence public opinion. For instance, in the matter of pulp-wood, to which reference has already been made, Canada's position is incomparable, and there is no commodity in more demand by our present civilization. The present rate of consumption in the United States indicates an early exhaustion of their visible supply, and already they are largely dependent on the products of this country.
Evidences that home and British capital are going rapidly into the development of the vast spruce and pulp properties of Canada are of almost daily occurrence. Canada seems destined to be the great supply depot for the basis of newspaper and most of the other commoner papers that America must continue to consume in tremendous volume.
What the United States has to guard against is any policy that might incite Canadians to prohibit the export of spruce logs—or must we eventually buy finished paper of provincials ?"
Not only is this true of the pulpwood, but it is to the same extent true of the other varieties of timber which enter largely into the domestic needs of the United States ; this has been incidentally alluded to already, but the question is one of importance both to this country and to the neighboring republic, though for different reasons, as the following will indicate :
" In four states—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York—the forests are being denuded at the rate of 1,750 square miles per annum.
" In New Hampshire the entire forest resources will be exhausted in twelve years and in other states in eight years.
" The interest of the public generally, as distinguished from the lumbermen, says the news-paper memorial, requires the conservation of the forests, and an enlightened self-interest should impel the commission in dealing with Canada 'to follow that provident policy which shall keep our future wants in view.' "
With respect to the economic minerals Canada's possession is equally favorable. Take, for instance, the matter of coal, and it will be seen that Canada is generously supplied with this article of fuel, which is of excellent quality and advantageously distributed, but as this has been fully discussed in a previous chapter, further reference is unnecessary, suffice it to say, that if coal is king his throne is in Canada. So also is it true of iron, copper, nickel and many other of the economic minerals.
It is true that in the past these great advantages—the keys, we may say, to commercial supremacy—have contributed comparatively little to our development and present prosperity, and what little has already been accomplished towards the development of our resources has largely been by the exploitations of foreigners. There is, however, no reason why these conditions of exploitation and exhaustion, without full compensation in advantages to the country, should continue. All that is necessary is the exercising of a patriotic and statesmanlike guardianship and control of these resources to make them contribute to the wealth and development of the country in which they are located. In this there are gratifying signs of improvement.
It is evident from the foregoing, if Canada is true to herself, she holds the key to the coveted place of industrial supremacy in the Western World. "Let us as a people rid ourselves of the mistaken idea that Canada is an agricultural country only, whose destiny it is to . supply raw material and food staples to the United States and Great Britain, and to receive in return the manufactures of these countries. The successful development in the past few years of nearly Avery branch of manufacture in Ontario and Quebec is almost incredible to anyone not familiar with these provinces."
Since the following was not spoken by a Canadian it may be admitted here :
" Canada has admittedly a greater store of raw material than the United States, to manufacture which it has enormous water power. It can obtain electric power more cheaply than any other country in the world. It has, both on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, in close proximity to deep water harbors, coal, iron and limestone, a condition of things which does not exist in the United States. Its ports are nearer to Europe and Asia than those of the Republic, and its inland carriage is cheaper, owing to the magnificent system of inland navigation.
" There is no reason why Canada should not beat America on her own terms for the foreign trade of the world. Britain is, after all, only a small portion of the Empire. When British manufacturers feel American competition too keenly let them remove their plant to Canada. There, with the same machinery that is used south of the boundary line, they can fight the Yankees for the trade of the world, and have several points in their favor to start with."