Canadian Climate Comparisons
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
But why should not Canada have a delightful and superior climate ? While many features of a special character contribute to its excellence, it is the result of no miracle, but when her position is considered, it is both natural and reasonable. Her geographical position is in every way admirable. Few persons, however, take the trouble to make comparisons of our latitude with other countries, and Canada is naturally relegated—at least, in thought—to a place somewhere near the Arctic Circle. Why we should be referred to as the great " Dominion of the North," or the " Great Northland," by England and other European critics generally, is not quite apparent in the light of facts.
Take the City of London, England, for instance, and place it on its appropriate latitude on the meridian of Toronto, and it will be found situated very near Charlton Island, in James Bay, nearly six-hundred miles north of Toronto. Take Edinburgh, in southern Scotland, and its corresponding latitude in Canada would be within sixty miles of York Factory, on Hudson Bay, and about one thou-sand miles north of Windsor, Ontario, and much farther north than any settled portion of Canada except Dawson City. Most of the capitals and chief cities of Europe fall within Canadian latitudes, and some far within. Paris, the gayest capital of Europe, is several hundred miles north of Montreal, while St. Petersburg, the capital of all the Russias, is situated nearly as far north as the shores of Great Slave Lake, and twelve hundred miles north of Canada's southern point. Three-quarters of the German Empire in Europe is north of Winnipeg, while its southern limit is considerably north of Sudbury, in Northern Ontario. Norway and Sweden, for the most part, correspond with the Mackenzie Basin and Yukon Territory. Canada, therefore, as compared with European countries generally, has a southern location.
In addition to this, however, there are certain natural laws, caused by various influences, some of which have already been alluded to, which conspire to carry Canada's agricultural region, notably in the valley of the great Mackenzie River, farther north than in any other country in the world. " It must not be forgotten that the climate is much more the result of altitude than latitude." It has been stated that Europe has a mean elevation of six hundred and seventy-one feet, and North America a mean elevation of seven hundred and forty-eight feet, while the Canadian portion of North America is said to have a mean elevation of three hundred feet. This ad-vantage is said to be equal to at least thirteen degrees of latitude. There are some evidences of the-truthfulness of this claim. The isothermal lines, as indicated on the map, show the trend of the summer climate northward.
Let us look at some of the press despatches published within recent years :
Vienna, Mar. 24.-Austria is experiencing an-other heavy snowfall, the third of the season. In some places it has been snowing for thirty-six hours, seriously delaying railway transportation. Several rivers in Bohemia have overflowed and flooded the villages, and further floods are feared when the heavy snows on the mountains melt.
People were farming in Western Canada, surrounded by summer conditions at the time these conditions prevailed in Central Europe.
Here are two despatches that appeared almost side by side in a Canadian newspaper:
Port Townsend, Wash., Nov. 4.-The steamer Dirigo, from Skaguay, has brought one hundred passengers and seven hundred tons of canned salmon. Navigation is practically ended on the Yukon.
London, Nov. 4.—The mercury in the thermometers in London touched the freezing point this morning, and a sharp frost prevailed in the Mid-lands, where ponds were covered with ice.
London, Nov. 15.—(Special.)—The gale has been succeeded by frost and snow of unprecedented severity. Hundreds of sheep have been drowned in the neighboring meadows and the lakes are covered with ice.
By this it is not intended to prove that the Yukon Territory and England have a similar climate, but it does go to show that at a comparatively late date in the fall the conditions in both countries are not so very dissimilar, and that other countries besides Canada know what the rigors of winter mean as well as the beauties of summer. Up to that time, in this particular year, throughout the whole of Eastern Canada, at least, no sign of winter had yet made its appearance.
Comparison with the United States reveals conditions somewhat similar. The Northern States, occupying the northern continental watershed, have consequently a higher altitude and colder winter than southern Canada. Frequently the trains on the Northern Pacific Railway are entirely snow-bound while the Canadian Pacific Railway is making schedule time with ease. New York has been. known to spend thousands of dollars In the removal of snow from the streets while the most northern of Canadian cities suffered no interruption to the street cars during the whole winter.
Mr. Fraser, the novelist, has said : " Literature has done little for Canada ; it has taught that the great North-West is a land of blizzards, peopled with Indians. I wanted to do some blizzard literature myself and started to get the genesis of these frozen siroccos. I asked people about them, and I wrote to people about them. I found only one man who had been in a true blizzard, but he was too badly frightened to remember anything about the physical aspect. It was like a hunt for the sea serpent. They are rare as literature has taught us that they are plentiful."
Canada will likely survive the slanders against her climate, and show to the world that she has just as much to offer her people in the line of that desirable commodity as any other country beneath the blue. If necessary, too, evidence could here be adduced to show that for some reason or other the climate of Canada is undergoing a change in the line of further modification. Some law is certainly at work carrying the summer still farther north, ushering the spring in at an earlier date and modifying the winter season. In the meantime Canadians have every reason to be well satisfied with the climatic conditions that now prevail.