CONDITIONS IN THE WEST
AN ADDRESS BY THE HON. JAMES GARFIELD GARDINER, PREMIER OF SASKATCHEWAN.
Friday, March 8, 1935.
MR. DANA PORTER: If there is one word which is more important than any other, having to do with progressive recovery, it is probably the word, confidence.
In the Province of Saskatchewan, they have borne the brunt, more than the people of any other province in this Dominion of the tremendous fall in world prices. Yet, in the Province of Saskatchewan they, perhaps, have more confidence in themselves and in their future than the people of any other part of the Dominion.
Mr. Gardiner, our guest today, first went west during the drought of the nineties. He stayed west the major part of that drought but things became so dry that he eventually returned before the drought ended. On the occasion of the present drought, however, he has decided to stay because he found the drought of the nineties came to an end, so he has reason to believe that the drought of today is coming to an end.
Mr. Gardiner, Prime Minister of Saskatchewan, our guest today, will speak to us upon "Conditions in the West." Speeches on this subject have recently been all too infrequent in this part of the country and it is with great interest that we will listen to what he has to say. I have great pleasure in calling upon Mr. Gardiner.
THE HON. JAMES GARFIELD GARDINER: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: I had the privilege seven or eight years ago of speaking to The Empire Club in the City of Toronto. On a number of occasions since that time I have been honoured with an invitation to return and speak to the Club. It has not been my privilege to be in a position to accept that invitation until the present time and I consider it a privilege to be here now and have an opportunity of speaking upon the same subject upon which I spoke to you seven or eight years ago--"The Problems of the West."
I need hardly say that the problem, or that which appeared to be the problem of 1926 and '27, is not the problem of 1934 and '35. At that time our people seemed to be somewhat concerned that we had a land in the Western part of the Dominion of Canada, flowing with golden wheat into which we had invited the peoples of all nations and some were a little concerned to know as to whether the land was not a land intended for a chosen people. And after we had discussed the question before your Club, I, at least, had convinced myself, if not the members of the Club, that we had a population in Western Canada composed of persons from all the representative countries of Europe--men who came from Germany with its thrift and industry, men and women who came from the Scandinavian countries, who had been possessed throughout the ages with a desire to explore, men who came from France with their dashing bravery in times of war and chivalry in times of peace, and men and women who came from the British Isles, and those people who came from the so-called foreign countries were introducing into our west those elements which had built the British race into a people known for their desire to trade and to develop industry. We, in the West, thought at that time that we could rely upon the population that had been introduced into Western Canada standing up against all trials and tribulations that might come upon us from time to time. Today we look back, after the period intervening and I think I can say to the members of the Club, that none of us who were present on that occasion would have thought the people of Western Canada or Eastern Canada, for that matter, would have had to suffer all the trials and tribulations we have had to go through since the year 1928, or the year 1930. But I am certain of this, that we can say on this occasion, those of us who come from Western Canada, and I am sure those who reside in the East will agree with me, we can say the peoples of Western Canada have proven through that trying period, no matter what the nationality of their ancestors has been, that they are a people who can suffer trials and tribulations and still hold that spirit of optimism which has carried them down to the present moment. (Applause) Not only have they done that but I think we can say, in addition, and all agree, that the people of the central part of the great western plains, the people of the Province from which I come, have at the same time honoured the traditions of the British Empire, to which we belong and those institutions of government we all pride ourselves upon, have as great support in that part of the Dominion of Canada as in any other.
But today we are confronted by another problem. We have a new worry on our minds. Some of us are asking the question at the present time as to whether or not people should remain in that section of the country that some seven or eight years ago we considered to be flowing with a wealth that was only suited to a chosen people. Today we are wondering whether we should move people out of that area, whether we should go back to the conditions which existed there before our population was brought in, and if in any remarks I make today I can inspire confidence in the minds of men who have made investments in that part of the country, as to the future, I will consider my time has been well spent and I trust you will consider yours has, as well.
Now, in dealing with the problem I think it is essential we should all understand and I am sure many of you understand it now, but in case there may be some who do not, I am going to go over it more or less in a general way, that we should all understand the geographical structure of Western Canada and that we should understand, too, something of the physical geography of Western Canada. In order to place the picture before you, I want to say that what we know as the plain section of the Dominion of Canada, west of the Great Lakes, is in three well defined steppes, one being in the Red River Valley, with an average altitude of about 800 feet above sea level. As you proceed westward„ before you reach the City of Brandon, you notice a range of hills which form the boundary line to the second steppe, which averages 1600 feet above sea level and extends to beyond the City of Regina; and as you approach Moose jaw you again see what appears to be a range of hills forming the edge of the third steppe which extends from just west of the City of Moose jaw to the foothills at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and that area which we sometimes speak of as the drought area or the semi-arid area of Western Canada is on the third of these steppes, the highest of all. Down in the Red River Valley you find the elm and the oak growing to considerable sizes. When you get on the second steppe, you find poplar and willow growing to much smaller sizes, but when you come to the third steppe, it is only under extraordinary conditions that exist here and there over that area that you find any tree growth whatsoever.
I wanted to give that review in order to indicate to you that we have a natural condition existing there and there are real definite boundaries to the different areas talked about when we are speaking of Western Canada.
I think, too, it is necessary that we should say some--thing with regard to the general climate of that area before going on to discuss our greatest problem, of the moment, and I think I can probably deal with that question best by reciting to you some of the things that are taught to our students in our colleges and schools of Western and Eastern Canada„ as well. Under the title, of Physical Geography, I was told in the days when I was a student going to school and no doubt many of you were, too, that the winds which are known as somewhat constant winds upon the earth are determined by two things: the turning of the earth upon its axis and the unequal heating of the earth's surface and that those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, whether we like it or not, have the influence of a constantly blowing western wind upon our climatic condition. Now, again, we know this: when winds are moving across oceans they lap up moisture and these westerly winds moving across the Pacific Ocean, lap up all the moisture their temperature will permit them to carry, but when they strike the Rocky Mountains and are driven upward going over the mountains, just to the west of the area I have been speaking about that area which is south of Battleford and Saskatoon, in the Province of Saskatchewan, and south of Edmonton in the Province of Alberta, and extending down toward Winnipeg in the Province of Manitoba, when the wind comes over the mountains they have climbed to a height of over a mile and in climbing to this height where it passes through the mountains, they have lost the greater part of their moisture, with the result that they come into the plains to the east of the mountains as dry winds, sloping themselves to lower altitudes and therefore to climatic conditions where it is warmer and thus losing no moisture as they travel toward the east. Any man who has lived on the plains of Western Canada knows that probably at least three-quarters of the time the winds blow from the west and we have dry seasons during that particular period.
That is not so true of the country to the north. The Yellow Head Pass, where the Canadian National crosses the mountains is at no higher level than the City of Calgary, and as a result of the lower altitude of the passes in the northern areas winds from the west do bring more moisture in and the moisture extends nearer to the foothills at those points than it does further south. But
I think I can say this: As you pass over Western Canada from Winnipeg to the Rocky Mountains, in this area which is south of Saskatoon and south of Battleford, you are constantly coming into a little drier and a little drier area, the moisture being taken out of the winds from the east, rise over these different steppes and comes into the higher altitudes, so even an eastern wind, when you get into the third steppe, does not always bring rain with it and is quite often a dry wind.
I wanted to picture those conditions in order to indicate to you something of the problem we are up against if we are going to change the climate of Western Canada. To my mind there is only two ways you can do it: One is to level the Rocky Mountains, and the other is to cause the earth to turn the opposite way on its axis. I don't think even governments are going to try that.
Now, probably it would be well, when we are discussing the conditions in Western Canada to discuss the situation as we have it in so far as climate is concerned and to discuss the situation as we have it so far as the makeup of those different steppes are concerned. Now, I say this to you, that there is a question, and I think a question which has been decided in the minds of many people in Western Canada, as to whether it would do us any good to change the climate, even if we could do so. In order to illustrate what I mean by that, I am going to call your attention to this: At the town of Maple Creek, toward the western boundary of the Province of Saskatchewan, you have the longest growing season to be found anywhere in the Province of Saskatchewan, and the rainfall in the plains that surround that area is on an average from 12 to 15 inches. If you go 35 miles south of Maple Creek you come to the Cypress Hills and those hills only rise a short distance, a few hundred feet above the plain, but the fact that they do rise above the plains forces the warm south winds, laden, sometimes, with moisture, up sufficiently high to cause moisture to fall on those hills; as a result you find trees in the Cypress Hills, measuring 15 inches in diameter, but you find there, as well, that the length of the season in the Cypress Hills is almost exactly the same as the length of the season at Prince Albert which is 250 miles further north.
In other words, if you increase the rainfall of that particular area of country by from five to six inches, you shorten the season sufficiently to sometimes endanger the growing of crops because of the coming of rust and the coming of frost. So, as far as we on the plains are concerned, we are always between two opinions; one, as to whether it is going to rain enough to produce a crop, and the other, as to wether it is going to rain enough to make the crop either rust or freeze.
What I want to say in favour of that part of the country is this: Taking one year with another, ever since people have settled that part of Western Canada, the years in which we get conditions which are more or less ideal for the growing of Number 1 hard wheat, with the highest protein content, probably, of any wheat grown in the world, and therefore sought after by millers throughout the world, that the years in which we get the ideal conditions under which to grow that wheat are vastly greater in number than the years during which we do not obtain those conditions. That is why we are optimistic in Western Canada. That is why we are "next year" people. That is why when we are confronted with poor crop conditions we feel the time is going to come when we are going to have these better crop conditions. Now, I have heard it said in the West by people who have been there for many years and more particularly, by people who were there in the early days and left the West, "Do you recall the Nineties, the years from 1890 to 1895?" and the old timers who are there still, who were pioneers in those days, will tell you they were drier years than those we have been going through now. Others, coming at a later time say, "Do you remember 1907, when the whole crop of Western Canada was frozen, when it stood, looking good, from 30 to 40 bushels to the acre and when the binder was put in it yielded in many cases 15 or 20 of very low grade wheat?" Many have said, "Do you remember 1914, when the average crop for the southwest part of Saskatchewan was in the neighborhood of two bushels to the acre?" Someone else says, "Do you remember the years from 1917 to 1921, when we had a drought almost as great as the one during the years of '1931 to 1934?"
And we who live in the West :say this; we say to the man who speaks of the Nineties: To recall the Nineties is to recall the years from 1900 to 1907; to recall 1917 is to recall the years from 1907 to 1914; to recall 1914, with the poorest crop in the history of the Province of Saskatchewan, is to recall 1915, with the best we ever had, and 1916 with a little poorer than that of 1915; to recall 1917 to 1921 is to recall the crops from 1922 to 1928; 1922, with what is known as the drought area today, producing 135 million bushels of wheat; 1928, producing 165 million bushels of wheat, and all the years in between producing good crops.
When we come to this period with those experiences behind us, we say, as we have had our difficult years in the past, we had our good years, and because we had our good years in the past we are going to have our good years again; that is, so far as crop conditions are concerned.
I want to speak to you for a few moments upon Saskatchewan as separated from the other provinces of Western Canada. I have been attempting to give you a picture of the general conditions existing over the West and more particularly on what is known as the third prairie steppe. I want for a few moments to call your attention to this and if you take a sheet of paper and fold it like this (piece of paper folded corner-wise by the speaker to illustrate) you will have a good map of the Province of Saskatchewan with nothing placed on it. That line is the boundary line of the second and third steppes on the great plains of Western Canada, each one of those edges of the steppes parallels the Rocky Mountains. This starts near the boundary line of the United States and the boundary line between Saskatchewan and Manitoba and extends angle-ways across our Province, passing near the City of Regina, passing through the City of Saskatoon, through the City of Battleford and extending up to where the North Saskatchewan comes into the Province of Saskatchewan.
When you are talking about the drought area in the Province of Saskatchewan you are talking about all the area situated south of that line; and when you talk about the area not in the drought area during the present time you are talking of all that part of Saskatchewan which is north of that line. That part of Saskatchewan north of that line is park country; the part south is the prairie country.
I want to tell you a few things about that particular area. We have approximately a million people in Saskatchewan, being the third largest of the provinces in Canada. About half a million are south of that line and about half a million north of it, dividing your city population about equally between the two.
Another thing about it: up in this area north of the line, we have 900,000 head of cattle, or had last fall; down in this area south of the line, 600,000 head of cattle. Up in the north area, there are 400,000 hogs; down in the south area, 200,000 hogs.
But in 1928, we had the best crop we have produced in Saskatchewan in years-321 million bushels, grown in the Province of Saskatchewan. About 100 millions was grown north of that line and the remainder of it was grown south of it.
So you get here somewhat of the picture of Saskatchewan and the importance of wheat growing to this area and to the Dominion of Canada in that area as compared with the importance of wheat to the northern section of it.
I might say this, that the northern part of the Province of Saskatchewan is more interested in feeding the people who actually live in Saskatchewan and live in other parts of Canada with the products we all require; whereas, this southern part of the province of Saskatchewan is interested almost altogether in the export of wheat and markets for our wheat outside of the Dominion of Canada.
Having pictured that to you, may I say this: That we in Saskatchewan are interested in another fact: This northern area of this province was settled in the years before 1908 and the greater part of it before 1906, the first year in which we had a province. Do you know that we only produced 35 million bushels of wheat in 1926 in the Province of Saskatchewan„ with all this northern area settled? The southern area was settled between 1908, when the pre-emption policy was brought in, and 1914, and in 1928, with this area of the province settled, and during the war period, we produced in the Province of Saskatchewan 321 million bushels of wheat, an increase in this northern area of 70 million bushels and an increase in this southern area of 216 million bushels, until Saskatchewan with the opening of that particular area we are discussing when we sometimes think of moving people out of it, with its half million people is producing from that area the greater part of the wheat which is exported from the Dominion of Canada. As a matter of fact, the Province of Saskatchewan, over any period of years you like to take, produces more than half of all the wheat grown in the Dominion of Canada and in the good years, two-thirds of all the wheat grown in Saskatchewan is grown south of that line, and the wheat grown to the south of that line is the wheat which determines the character of our wheat among the peoples of the world where our wheat is to be consumed.
I ask you this question: Do you think it would be good policy to move the people out of that area? Do you think it would be good policy in view of the conditions gone by and the experience we have had to even consider the policy of moving them out? I am sure you will agree with me, it would not be sound policy to follow. If we are going to keep them there we have certain problems that confront us. Some of the problems have to do with production. We have, for example, to study our soil conditions there. It would be obvious to every man here who has had any farming experience that with a rainfall averaging 12 to 18 inches, it is impossible to farm land which has natural drainage underneath in the form of gravel or sand, and no matter what the top six inches of the soil may be like, if the natural drainage is there it is somewhat difficult to continue to grow grain on that kind of land from time to time. Well, the people of Western Canada did not lose sight of that fact. You will remember during the war years there were enormous overages, overages piled up by the old wheat. Some years after the War was over it was decided to turn the monies made from the sale of those averages over to the governments of Western Canada and we, in the Province of Saskatchewan, got the larger proportion of it, because we produced the larger portion of the wheat. We set that money up as a continuous fund and we are using from it, from year to year, the interest from the investment for the purpose of carrying out investigations in connection with matters just like those I am discussing with you now, and the first investigation we undertook was that of soil conditions, and we have mapped out the Province of Saskatchewan on a map actually made up by men who have studied the soil in every part of the Province. We have mapped out the exact soil conditions of the whole settled portions of the Province of Saskatchewan.
Some of the men I see before me in this room have seen that map in the City of Regina, and understand what I mean. They will know this: when you look at that map, the spots upon it which should be taken out of agricultural production and general production over the area I speak about, look like postage stamps upon the Province of Saskatchewan. They are very small areas. As you look at it, you conceive it is essential not only for the area itself to take it out of cultivation and put back to grass, but it is essential because of the lands round about it. With our continuous winds we have them, year in and year out, without moisture. Sometimes in the dry years these sands drift to other land in the vicinity and bury thousands of acres round about with six inches to a foot of sand and make the carrying on of agriculture somewhat difficult.
So, our objective in taking the land out of cultivation would be for the purpose of protecting the land round about, rather than to do anything to make the lands themselves useful for agricultural purposes in that section of Canada. That soil survey has been going on.
There is another thing I want to say a word or two about: that is the proposal that we should grow trees in that area. I have illustrated by the illustration of the Cypress Hills that trees grow as a result of what nature does wherever there is any opportunity to grow. All you have to do is put a little more moisture on the soil and the trees will grow. They have grown on the Cypress Hills and on every height of land on one side or the other, over all that prairie section of Western Canada, depending upon the amount of moisture that has fallen upon it. But every man familiar with Western Canada knows this that one of the most heart-rending scenes that greets the eye of man, as he drives over southern Saskatchewan, after these four or five years of drought, is to see those groves that the best farmers of southern Saskatchewan have planted in the years of sufficient moisture, have seen them nourished through all that time, have gone out each morning to look upon them with a feeling of pride because of their attainment, and to find them at the end of two, three or four years of drought almost completely destroyed and any man who understands southwestern Saskatchewan will agree with me when I say that it would cost more money to plant trees sufficient to have any effect at all upon the growing of crops or the stopping of drifting„ and keep trees growing in Western Canada in sufficient numbers to do that, than it costs the government of Canada to keep the people through, even if they have to feed them, from one of the good crop periods to another. -
So far as tree growing is concerned, we encourage it as a matter of improving the conditions around the home, as making windbreaks for the gardens, and in improving the conditions of living for the individual farmer, but in so far as influencing our crop condition is concerned, any expenditure we would make on things of that kind would be vastly greater than any profit we would get as a result of having done it. And, after all, in spite of what you hear sometimes from Western Canada, we still believe profits are necessary. (Applause) Then, again, there are some people who say we should be building dams. Well, I see Mr. Dunning at the head table. He served in the government of Saskatchewan for a number of years and I had the privilege of serving along with him for a number of years. He will agree with me when I say this: They have been building dams in the Province of Saskatchewan under government supervision and government assistance since 1882, at least, and I have flown over the whole province of Saskatchewan by aeroplane, and looking down upon it you can see the dams dotted here, there and everywhere and there isn't going to be enough money spent in Saskatchewan during the time the drought lasts in building dams to anything like match the number of dams already built by governments, municipalities and individuals, but none of us have been foolish enough to build those dams to change the climate. We built the dams to water cattle and we will let the Lord look after the climate. There is a good reason for doing that. Men who study statistics know that some of the driest spots in the world, so far as rainfall is concerned„ are near the middle of the ocean, and some of the driest spots on land, so far as rainfall is concerned, are bordered on one side by either the Atlantic or the Pacific. I need only mention German West Africa or the southern part of the state of California. There are natural deserts in those areas and they are bounded on one side by the ocean, all of which brings me to this point: If you are going to change the climate by having bodies of water, those bodies of water have to be almost as large as the ocean or at least as large as Lake Superior, and after the wind has crossed over and lapped moisture up, you have to build a range of mountains somewhere in order to take the moisture out again. We do not intend doing those things but we still believe in building dams for the watering of stock and making possible the keeping of live stock over those areas to more or less give the farmer the opportunity of carrying on mixed farming.
I only want to say this with regard to mixed farming: Do you know what our most expensive job has been during the last three or four years, so far as the southern area is concerned? Our most expensive job has been keeping the stock. It hasn't been keeping the people. The keeping of those 600,000 head of cattle and the 200,000 hogs in the southwestern part of Saskatchewan has gone up, during the present year in the neighbourhood of eight millions of dollars, put up by governments for the purpose and that is one of the most expensive tasks we have had as a result of our efforts to plant mixed farming in an area naturally given to the growing of wheat.
One other thing I want to say with regard to our activities. We are still encouraging what we know as dry farming. Dry farming only consists in this, that it stores up some of the moisture you get this year in order to assist you in growing a crop next year and do you know, this was discovered in a very simple way in the early days of the development of the West. A certain very eminent farmer whom I could name and you would all know if I named him, discovered there years ago that a little plot of land he happened to dig up and did not put anything in but kept it black all summer, the next year grew twice as much as any other part of the field. He said, "This is an idea. Keeping the land black prevents the evaporation by the growth of plant life upon it. If we get average rain this year we can store up moisture by cultivation, keep the subsoil moisture there and next year with an average rain we can grow twice as much wheat on that field."
That, in a few words is what we call 'dry farming'. We mix a little the idea of strip farming. That is still being encouraged and is one of the things that should be encouraged for the difficulties we have in the West. Do you know why we haven't engaged in it to a great extent in recent years? We, in the West, do what you do in business. When we see an opportunity we try to grasp it and we forget sometimes about the future in grasping the opportunity of the present. Do you know what we did when we saw wheat at $2 a bushel? We said, we will take a chance on the weather and this year we will put in twice as much wheat. When it went to $1.50 a bushel, we said, this may be the last year we will get $1.50 and we will go over the mark again. We kept at that during all the years we had our good crops, and when we came to the year of dry weather we did not then have a first year's reservoir to produce the crop of 1931, and we suffered as a consequence, having the most complete failure we had had since 1914.
Now, I repeat, dry farming we consider to be necessary to the 'building up of our reserves in so far as moisture is concerned and in our co-operation with other organizations for the purpose of putting seed back in the soil this year we are emphasizing the importance of putting the crop, so far as is possible, on summer followed land.
There is one other thing I think I should say to you today and that is the last of the solutions I would put up in so far as we are able to control them within the bounds of our own province. As we look back over the periods I have been speaking of, the periods of the nineties, 1907, 1914, the years 1917 to 1921, these last few years,, then again over the good periods, we find here and there, all over Western Canada, little groups of people who learned the lesson in economy which, after all, is more worth while than any other lesson the economists know and I spent two years in university trying to find something about it. What is it? I once heard a gentleman on the train say this with regard to a certain type of economist. Another fellow says, "What is an economist?" He said, "An economist of that kind is a man who has only read one book." What I would say is this If we are going to read only one book, the best book on economy I know of is the good old Bible. The best illustration that we have of what is necessary for us to do in Western Canada in order to make ourselves successful as agriculturists is the good illustration of Joseph in Egypt. As a result of that over cropping, as a result of our weather conditions we have suffered a plague of winds during the last few years;, we have suffered a plague of dust, we have suffered a plague of tree lice, we have suffered a plague of hail, and we have suffered a plague of opinions and I am not so sure that the plague of opinions isn't the worst. Through it all, we have had almost seven years and we are probably coming to the period when we are to consider what we should do in the future in order to prepare for the next time we are bound to have similar weather conditions in Western Canada, and the one solution we have been able to find is the good old solution we have been taught from our childhood up.
Do you know why a Scotchman is cautious? Largely because his ancestors lived in Scotland. Do you know why a Frenchman is vivacious? Largely because his ancestors lived in France. Do you know why an Irishman is what he is? Largely because his ancestors lived in the Emerald Isle. The same thing goes all the way along the line and the one solution for the provinces of Western Canada is the keeping of the people on the land who have had the experience during the last twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years and that is the immediate problem of government; that is the 'immediate problem of men who have their money invested there. That is the immediate problem of municipalities, the immediate problem of all other institutions that are interested in the development of the human race and I wish to say this: We, as a government have been attempting to do certain things in connection with the solution of that problem. We, in Saskatchewan speak only for Saskatchewan, and we say we have had a great deal of co-operation from the organizations that are interested financially. And I would say this, that in this coming summer, all of us working co-operatively with the weather favourable, should be able to produce sufficient wealth out of Western Canada this year to help, at least, to liquidate much of the debt that has grown up during the years of our development.
In conclusion, I want to discuss one matter, which does not concern us so much in the Province of Saskatchewan as a province, as it concerns us as part of the Dominion of Canada. I said to you, toward the beginning, that this southwestern part of Saskatchewan about which we are concerned when we are talking about our problems depends upon the exportation of its products in order to give prosperity to those people. Do you know, in the three years, 1916 to 1918, inclusive, the people of Saskatchewan--produced from the land, $1,180,000,000. worth of new wealth? In the years, 1926-7 and 8, do you know that this same area in the last three years for which we have the record only produced $354,000,000 worth of wheat? Why, the reduction is over $800,000.000.
Well, the most pessimistic man we have in Western Canada, when he is making public speeches, never puts our debt above $6,000,000. Some of them get it that high when they add together the debt of the individuals with the debt of the school districts and the debt of the municipalities and the debt of the government and our proportion of the Federal debt. They tell us we owe $600,000,000., and it can never be paid and that we have to have some new system of economics.
When you look at that $600,000,000 of debt and at the decrease in the value of our farm products of $800,000,000. in one three-year period, as compared with another, isn't the answer to it all obvious? If we are prepared to live during the first three years we get good crops and fair prices, together with them, if we are satisfied to live as we have had to live during the last three years we can pay all that $600,000,000 worth of debt and have $200,000,004 left to live better with than we have been able to live during the last three or four years.
A country that has possibilities like that is not sitting down and saying, there is no future for us. We are not saying the solution is to move our people out of that area, into some other. We don't know any place in the world where a half a million people can go and over a term of years can build homes and give comforts and education to their families to better advantage than they can in the southwestern part of the Province of Saskatchewan and I am going to say this to you, in addition; that that area today is in the middle of the development of the first generation of its population. Where did you ever find an agricultural area anywhere else in the world that by the end of its first period of development has in it 4,500 schools and that covering the Province of Saskatchewan? There are over 4,500 rural schools and over 3,000 of them haven't a dollar of debenture debt. I would like to repeat that anywhere else. And you will find 2,200 out of the 4,500, or half of them with the cash they have in hand at the present time could gay off all of their indebtedness. Not only is their debenture debt paid up but they could pay every kind of debt they have.
We are in the middle of a generation that has been spending every cent that came into their pockets through our export trade in order to put telephone lines in and build schools, build railways, develop land, buy machinery, and they were caught right in the middle of the first generation without crops over that vast area. Of course, they are hard up. Of course, they haven't money in their pockets, but one out of every four has a land for which he has a clear title, and the way people who have funds to loan can assist Western Canada more than any other way, to my mind, is to go and search out those school districts, search out the individuals and give the lie to the story that is going over Western Canada today that men who have loaned money in Western Canada are only there today to get it out and keep it out. Put a little back in and I venture to say this to you, that the co-operation you will receive if any of you are here who are in the position to do that, the co-operation which you will receive from government bodies, from individuals throughout Saskatchewan will be the best indication of the type of people we have in that section of Canada.
And, after all, with the good soil, with climate for which we have the record and with the people of the type that have come through the difficulties of the past, we all, by co-operation can build up in that central part of Canada a people who will pay their debt, who will pay their way, who will make themselves more valuable to the Dominion of Canada in the future than they have been in the past. The production of that country will do more to move the wheels of transportation and the wheels of industry than any other one thing I know of in the Dominion of Canada, provided we can find our markets on the other side of the ocean for it. And if I were one of those who believed that markets would never come back I would say, let us do as some people say, let us close the place up, but I am not so pessimistic as that. I believe that markets will come back. I believe it because
I think I know human nature. A German will not pay $1.80 a bushel for wheat when he can get it for $1.25 any longer than he has to because he thinks it is in the national interest to do so. A Frenchman is built in the same way. So is an Italian. The day will come in Europe, and I believe from news reports it will be before long, that through the getting together of the people of Europe, a balance of power will be brought about which will say that we are going to have at least one generation of peace. With that one generation of peace in the countries where our natural markets are and a willingness on our part to take in exchange for our products the things we are wearing and using in producing that crop, we will build up a trade which will give to Canada a prosperity of the kind we are all looking for.
I thank you. (Prolonged applause.)
MR. DANA PORTER: Referring to the Bible as a textbook on Economics, perhaps Mr. Gardiner will remember the reference in Ecclesiastes, where the words are used: "In times of prosperity rejoice; in years of famine consider."
We have seen by your address, Sir, today, that the people of the West during the hard times they have experienced have been thinking about their problems and are in a position to take advantage of the good times which are sure to come.
It is difficult to conceive of a clearer picture of the situation in Saskatchewan than the one you have given us today and on behalf of The Empire Club, I thank you very much, indeed.