Greater Ontario
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 8 Feb 1917, p. 417-430

Englehart, J.L., Speaker
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The 330,000 square miles which is the northern portion of the 400,000 square miles of Greater Ontario. "Within that zone there is not alone happiness, which is the cardinal principle, but there is an assurance of a homestead to everyone who is prepared to undertake to do the work. The great agricultural possibilities of that great northern country. The duty of the members of the audience, as proprietors of the Province, to build it up. Misunderstandings about the climatic conditions. Estimated value of the forests in Northern Ontario. The fishery resources. Quotations from Mr. William M. Smith, who talks about the resources and potential of the North, including the costs of clearing the land, and work to be had in mining and construction. The speaker adds some specific figures for the purchase of land, farms, and buildings. The issue of transportation. How members of the audience might assist in developing this area. The possibilities of the mining industry of Greater Ontario. Some dollar and production figures. The possibilities of extending the railway north.
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8 Feb 1917
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Full Text
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto.
February 8, 1917

MR. COOMBS, Vice-President, in the Chair.

SIR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN,--In Greater Ontario there are more than 400,000 square miles. The northern portion has 330,000 square miles. Within that zone there is not alone happiness, which is the cardinal principle, but there is an assurance of a homestead to everyone who is prepared to undertake to do the work. The commission has been in existence some 11 years. Of the nine provinces forming the Dominion of Canada, Ontario is the largest, exceeding Manitoba by 155,430 square miles. It is 3 1/3 times larger than Great Britain, practically twice the size of France or the Hun country. North of Cochrane, the present terminus of your railway, we have for a number of years, until the last few years, had surveyors in the field. From Cochrane it is 170 miles to the Moose River, the best harbour on the Hudson Bay.

The great agricultural possibilities of that great northern country are not within the ken of the average man, and there are great and serious regrets in regard to that. You gentlemen are the proprietors of the Province; it is your duty to build it up. In that regard we must all drop a certain portion of that human shortcoming, selfishness-pardon me for speaking rather plainly-and see whether we can assist in building up our own country; that is the secret of success. The climatic conditions have been misunderstood because very few pay any attention to what those conditions are. The rainfall is under 31 1/2 inches. The average sunshine for Toronto, April to September, about 186 days, was 2,385 hours; Haileybury, 330 miles north of Toronto, claimed 185.7 days and 2,500 hours. Truly that is a pretty broad fact, and enthusiasm applies to our relative position in that condition that prevails. My claim is that of all the assets of the Dominion the largest and best asset belongs to you of the Province of Ontario. Today the pine in the crown lands is estimated at 13 billion feet, and the value five years ago was $150,000,000. On your railway, 82 miles from North Bay, there is a virgin forest known as the Forest Reserve, the largest and considered the best reserve in the Dominion today. Our estimate of pulp wood is 300 million cords and the value $300,000,000. The pulpwood would pay the entire debt, and have sufficient over to enlarge our navy. The timber assets of the provinces were estimated five years ago at $400,000,000; I think we can safely add $100,000,000 to that, and then we will be within the lines of the real value today of the forests we hold.

The question of fisheries is largely important in connection therewith. The average yearly value of our freshwater fisheries is $4,000,000; but in addition we have sea fisheries at the mouth of the Moose. The waters of Hudson and James Bay are themselves larger than the whole Dominion as far as its land possibilities are concerned. Those seas are virgin and are teeming with fish. If you follow the record of the Department, Ottawa, you will be surprised at the number, the value and the possibilities of our fisheries, from the whale down to the smallest of the finny tribe. Fish of every known kind are in abundance there, waiting the coming of the fisherman.

If I am rightly informed, the Empire Club is largely recruited from Missouri; hence I have brought with me an endorsation outside of myself--I should say both the sermon and the text from the Toronto Globe. I am going to relate a little story in connection therewith. One day last August one of Stewart Lyon's editorials appeared in the Globe--and no one can write a better one; but I felt somewhat worried about that editorial, and I called on the editorial staff and remarked that the party who wrote that editorial was somewhat wide of the facts. After a little consideration and a little talk, Mr. Anderson, who represented the Globe in the Press Gallery, came over and interviewed me. I was called north, but I dictated a short note which appeared on the following Monday, the 14th. Shortly after that, very much to our surprise, and more than thankfulness, a dozen long letters to the Globe appeared from the north, signed "Ahmik"; Mr. William M. Smith, Editor of the Farmer's Sun, surely a recognized authority, accepted by all, had been evidently sent north by the Globe to either prove or disprove your commission as to what the north possessed. The result of that work was what we term our pamphlet No. 13. We were permitted to reproduce from the Globe Ahmik's letters and we have headed this pamphlet "Greater Ontario The Poor Man's Hope; what men who started bare-handed have accomplished."

Mr. Smith may be an enthusiast, but he does know what farming lands are when he sees them. In his Foreword he says

"In the latter part of August, 1916, "Ahmik," agricultural editor of the Globe, travelled over that portion of New Ontario lying between Haileybury and Porquid Junction. The trip was undertaken for the purpose of securing material for a--series of articles descriptive of conditions in the Northland as they really are. The journey was not all made by rail. A good deal of the country was covered by motor, buggy, and on foot. Individual settlers, met by chance, were interviewed and information so obtained was connected up with facts "Ahmik" gleaned for himself. The articles based on the journey appeared in the Globe of August, 1916, and are, in part, reproduced in the pages following."

Mr. Smith says, " Soil rich, products high."

"I have traversed the great part of the distance from Haileybury to Cochrane six times, have been over the whole distance twice, have made several side trips on different occasions, and can honestly say that I have seen there greater continuous stretches of unbroken tillable land than I have found in Old Ontario in wheeling trips covering practically every county in the province."

Under the heading "Luxuriance amid Drouth," Mr. Smith says

"This year New Ontario has been up against it in the matter of weather conditions. The official record at Monteith Farm shows only six inches of rain at that point from the time snow disappeared until the middle of August. Still, across the track from the farm, on the holding of an ordinary settler, I last week assisted in measuring the product of a single potato which showed a top 44 inches in width and 30 inches high and this was not a specially selected hill. It was a fair average of those growing in a considerable patch where stems and leaves hid a soil that was mellow as an' ash heap. In many other places potatoes evidently as vigorous were to be seen. On the Frederick House River I was last week served with green beans, grown in a settler's garden, that were just a little better than any I had tasted before in the course of the whole summer."

The frosts become less as we denude the land of the forest; the sun comes in and warms it up because in that land we have virtually three soils. The province hag been blessed by Providence with the forest, the waste and falling limbs and leaves from which for countless ages have formed a mold of surprising depth and value. Underneath that mold we have a clay soil, and below that a limestone a reservoir into which roots descend, refresh themselves, create growth, ripen grain, vegetables etc. The clay is the most remarkable that has come to my knowledge, differing from that of southern Ontario. I have placed samples of the clay from north Ontario alongside those from the south, and the lands of the north without exception carried off the blue ribbons. Ac to the land itself, the north has disadvantages, that whereas in the south we use both disc and tooth harrows in the spring for the seed-bed, in the north we were first introduced to Mr. John Frost, who creates the seedbed, and the snow provides the blanket. As Mr. Smith says, there is no need of a nurse crop for clover is a natural crop. That land-clover is in nature's own home. Pull up a bunch of clover--it will want some little power to pull it--and you will find thousands of long roots with nodules covering every fraction of an inch. What does that say: That says that that is the natural fertilizer of the north land, whereas in the south we have to sow clover seed in order to keep up the fertility of the soil.

Mr. Smith then takes up the question of the cost of clearing land

"What is the cost of clearing the land? That varies according to the class of timber. On part of the Monteith Farm, where some of the stumps had to be blown out with dynamite, actual records show a cost of less than $20 an acre for 20 acres. On heavily-timbered lands, if an attempt is made to clean up at once, the cost may reach $100. On the same land, if one waits for a year or two, until the stumps dry out, the outlay need not exceed that on the Monteith Farm. In some of the territory swept by the late fire the expense should not go over $a an acre in preparing the way for the plow."

Whereas in southern Ontario the clearing is very difficult on account of the large tap-roots of hardwoods, in the north, particularly the agricultural section, which is largely spruce, eight to ten inches is a large tree; we very seldom find one between 14 and20. With a cross-cut saw the settler, using hands and shoulders, can cut a cord a day in 16 foot lengths. Allowing him $2 a cord for cutting, $2 additional for drawing it from 2 to 8 miles, and another $2 for cutting it into wood pulp lengths of four feet that makes $6 to the man for clearing his own farm! And the pioneer pays 50 cents an acre for that land with the virgin forest on it, three years settlement' duties, a house 16 x 20, and the land is his. We tell our settlers they are not to clear all their land, but to use the forest as a savings bank, clearing 25 or 5o acres out of the 160 and allowing the balance to remain at compound interest as in a savings bank, drawing on this bank as needed by cutting five or ten acres when wanting an additional agricultural implement, an addition to his house, some new furniture, etc. To the man who comes up there bringing his hands and his shoulders with him we will guarantee not only a homestead but a heritage.

Mr. Smith speaks about the fine barns and buildings thus

"Even in the matter of buildings, some of the erections are equal to anything one would see in Oxford. The barn on the 'Glengarry Stock Farm' neatly painted on concrete stabling, and owned by Mr. A. J. Kennedy, would do credit to the Gold Medal Farm of the Province."

Under the heading, "Crops Generally Good," Mr. Smith speaks of the varieties of wheat, barley, peas, etc. For our seed peas in southern Ontario we have to go north, because the weevil is frightened at the word "north." Mr. Smith says, "We have neither weevil nor blight in peas here." The soil is not at all congenial to the potato bug, and Mr. Smith says the potato blight is not extensive. He speaks of the live stock industry; it is a wonderful land for that. The first hundred miles are rocks largely, but in between there are acres and acres of good soil that will furnish abundance of clover seed or timothy, and the woods themselves will furnish all the shelter you require even for the so-termed severe winters of the north. Mr. Smith follows the suggestions to the settlers and he remarked that even the fire, that unfortunately hit us this summer, "cannot destroy the spirit of Greater Ontario; the land is still there and it is wonderful in its richness." He tells of one settler's experience

"Part of his potato crop was cut by the flame from a burning pile of pulpwood as clean as if cut with a scythe, but on a part of the crop untouched by the fire the vines growing from a single tuber showed a spread of top fortyfour inches wide, 30 inches high, and were as green as the traditional bay-tree."--and no potato bugs there. He tells about clover without cultivation. He gives the experience of a settler who started $100 in debt

"As showing what can be accomplished by one almost barren of either experience or capital, but with a plentiful endowment of grit, the case of Mr. W. G. Edwards, in Englehart District, may be cited. Mr. Edwards who is probably 45, left his home in Epping Forest, near London, as a lad of 13, and ever since then has made his own way; 14 years ago he came to Canada, and five years since he took up the lot on which he now lives, and that was then covered with timber. As he was without means when he started farming he had to work out part of his time and so the work of clearing progressed slowly at the start."

There is lots of work up north. The mines, and the construction that is constantly going on, afford ample labour.

"This year, however, he had 2 o acres in crop, he had seven head of cattle, a team of horses, a roller, disc, two plows, harrow, etc. There is no mortgage on his place and his sole indebtedness is the last installment on his implements and one or two little store debts. That is not bad for a man who started $100 in the hole and with a family of small children-on his hands.

Mr. Smith has other illustrations here He speaks particularly of an English policeman who erected his home with no other tools than an axe, cross-cut saw and bucksaw, and, the finished home, Mr. Smith says, would do credit to a skilled builder. Our people up there are of that class, and whenever a man comes in they make a "bee" and the neighbours come for miles around and put up his house, just as we in the south do with the barns.

That, gentlemen, in a general way, is North Ontario. Here are a few additional cases

Hurd Farm, 90 acres near Liskeard, $8,000; possibly farm implements included; but three years ago a virgin forest.

May Farm, Huntsville, 350 acres, unimproved, two miles north Liskeard, $5,500.

McChesney Farm near Liskeard, 160 acres, largely cleared, good buildings, $12,000.

The White, 12 miles north Liskeard, 200 acres, 25 acres only cleared, $5,000.

Earlton, 160 acres, fair buildings, $9,000.

Houser Farm near Earlton, 160 acres, good buildings, fairly cleared, $10,000.

Houser is a Swede; he came there 10 years ago. A stranger came one day and asked him to place a price on his farm, and when he mentioned $10,000 the man agreed to buy it.

Mr. Stewart resides at New Liskeard, an agent for insurance and other things; took up 160 acres of land and purchased three other sections. Five years ago there was hardly a tree off; today 480 acres cleared, without a stump. It would require four times $10,000 to purchase that farm; three times $10,000 has been offered and refused.

At the time of the fire our Commission had a few lots left in the town of Matheson, but the fire had not been more than 10 or 12 days old when the only lot left was bought by people who had lost all their possessions, and at that place the fire was the most severe, and for -io or is miles there was hardly a stump left east or west. A party made application for 72 acres near Matheson. We asked for tenders for that and other lots, and Mr. Houser put in a tender at $101 per acre for the 72 acres. Some people have beliefs because they have knowledge; other people won't make the effort to obtain knowledge, and naturally they have not the belief. Now, who are these buyers, largely? Well, our good neighbour the Province of Quebec and their missionaries are in and out and over, and when there is a farm for sale, however small a clearance there may be, they are "on" when an opportunity comes, and they are from Missouri, but they know when they see it.

In this connection I might say that Mr. J. Lockie Wilson, Supt. of Fairs and Exhibitions, has sent me a statement of highest mark in standing field crops in four counties in which the highest marks were given. The report for potatoes is as follows

Bruce, Wiarton75 1/2 73 71 1/2

" North Bruce77 1/4 76 74 1/2

Dufferin, Luther81 80 78

" Dufferin82 81 1/2 81

Middlesex, Strathroy 85 1/2 82 81 1/2

" Caradoc85 84 1/2 84

Temiskaming, (that is your land to the north)

Charlton 86 8 5 81 1/2

Englehart 83 1/2 83 82 1/2

Liskeard 85 84 79

At the Ottawa Winter Fair just closed, Mr. L. Scott of Uno Park, about 120 miles north of North Bay, was awarded first honours for spring wheat in competition with counties from York east, and Parry Sound north.

So that the sunlight and sun days, and the number of hours it requires for conversion, and the tremendous cold met hereabouts, cannot be so very severe.

It is possible that we may find a way to bridge through in connection with greater Ontario. From Toronto to North Bay is 227 miles; from North Bay to Cochrane, the present terminus of the Timiskaming, 2 53 miles; making 480 miles from Toronto the northerly limit of your present railway. The Minister of Lands, Forests and Mines is devoting personal attention to the study of the question, and we have large anticipations, but we feel we have assistance that will serve the province and serve it well.

The remarkable thing about our railway is that we carried a great deal of wheat from the west last year, and the droppings of wheat which sifted from the cars on our roadway and road-bed, and which penetrated the clay beneath the ballast, required labour again and again repeated to keep our road-bed clear. Surely that is repeated emphasis as to the agricultural possibilities of this great land.

Now, gentlemen of the Empire Club, that land should be visited and studied by those who desire to know what nature is doing in re-forestration. Where forests have been denuded they reproduce themselves with dense re-forestration, springing up over night; and it is only a question of following up the intention -and in a o years the wood will return. The Premier, Hon. Mr. Hearst, has taken upon himself the additional labours of Minister of Agriculture because he has a love for the work, and he is arranging now for three experimental farms along your Government Railway west of Cochrane in addition to the one at Monteith. Every one of these farms add wealth because they are object-lessons to the people who come to see what that land is worth.

May I presume to suggest to you, gentlemen, it is a duty you owe to yourselves, at least, if not to the province, that you go out, in and amongst your own lands, so that you may have an object-lesson, not theory but proven facts, not mere imaginary thoughts but proven facts, that the lands of Greater Ontario are for the husbandman. We ask you to make it your business to have a settler come within that zone. Your future commercial trade is within those lands. Why should you not make some effort at least in upbuilding, to know what those lands are and assist in the great efforts the Premier and the Minister of Lands have made regarding the settlers on the lands of Greater Ontario?

North of Cochrane you have the best harbour on the James and Hudson Bays within your own Province. Your Commission have had their surveyors up and down those lands. The bays have receded and continued to recede for a good many years, hence the shores of James Bay and Hudson Bay are shallow a good many miles out from shore. At the mouth of the Moose there is an embargo-that is the word today for almost everything-a bar of clay. For countless ages half a dozen or more rivers have gone into it and deposited their silts, changing the shores, but there is no silt at the mouth. By the removal with a steamshovel of this clay-bar or dam, which could be readily overtaken, you could sail down to Moose Factory, where the Hudson Bay people have maintained their post for a century or more. They have honoured us with permission to examine their log-books and daily diaries; I believe we are the first accorded this honour. We have devoted a large amount of time and spent $2,200 in following out the information we possess-actual survey and actual information which has been handed down ever since 1740 by the Hudson Bay people and their ships as they came in drawing 14 to 16 feet of water. The problem is to understand what we are going to do with the Hudson Straits, where the ice moves up and down there. As soon as we can master that strait there is an open season that runs from 3 I a to q. months. It is only a question of time when we will be able to master that ice, as it .is being mastered today in Russia by the ice-breakers that we furnished to keep theirports open. When we do that we will have the harbour of all harbours right within your own province, and we will be able to go to the Atlantic, and eventually to the Pacific, via the mouth of the Moose River. That land from Cochrane to Moose Factory would require 165 miles of railway, and within that zone anal within a square of less than 20 miles there is more than a million horse-power. One of our falls is 200 feet in height and there are many others. The rush of waters and the heavy rainfalls mark that as an ideal spot for future wonderful possibilities. The absence of any large water powers in the British Isles, the position of Moose water powers secluded yet readily accessible from all parts of Canada, from the oceans east and west, and the fact that nitrates and nitric acid material manufacture many explosives, all suggest nitric at this site may become matter of national and even imperial importance. It has been so represented to the Empire, because we have egress to the Atlantic, we have egress to the Pacific and we are within 160 miles of James and Hudson Bay. Coming south we have Toronto, and with its railway communications we have access to every portion of the Dominion, and we have our good friends to the south, so that it will prove an ideal spot; and I am still in hopes that time will educate our people to understand what it means to them to be in a spot whose ingress from outside is almost impossible.

What else do we possess in that great land? We know not; but we do know that within the confines of your Greater Ontario is every mineral that we know anything at all about. We have pyrites, hence sulphur, and sulphur is the foundation of sulphuric or sulphurous acids. At Sudbury we have nickel and probably sulphur. The manufacture of sulphuric acid is of importance in the north, as it is used in the manufacture of explosives, and sulphur is the active agent in the production of sulphite, pulp, fertilizers, etc. What does that mean? We must fertilize those lands in the North West. In Denmark, $100,000,000 are invested in water powers that they have themselves created. Denmark and Sweden have been able to obtain capital, and they supply largely the world, at least a large proportion on the other side of the ocean, with their fertilizer, and they also ship largely' to the southern states. Why should we not manufacture these fertilizers ourselves? We have the material that Providence has supplied, we have the power, and all that we require is the men and possibly the capital; surely those are within reason.

The possibilities of the mining industry of Greater Ontario are very hard to compass in half an hour. We have to the credit of the Province from 1896 to 1916 a total sum of $93,857,859 as the value of pig iron and iron ore. The nickel production from 1889 to 1916 was valued at $63,991,945. The copper from 11886 to 1916 was valued at $55,432,759; and in 1916 it was estimated at $11,572,880. The silver production from 1904 to 1916, when your railway was inaugurated was $136,293,020. Cobalt from 1904 to 1916, was $3,220,127; for arsenic, by-product from Cobalt, add another million. The gold production from 1912 to 1916 was $33,o69,588, and for 1916 it is estimated at $10,000,000. The dividends paid by various mining companies in the District of Timiskaming (at Cobalt, Porcupine and Kirkland Lake) in 1916 totalled $9,379,400, and the total dividends paid from 1914 to 1916 inclusive were $76,947,789.

May I urge that the people of this province should give more thought to the mineral possibilities as well as the agricultural possibilities, and then query whether our claim is not correct that the Province of Ontario holds the asset of all the assets of the Dominion?

I have not at my command the language that I would like to address to you as to what the mineral wealth of this province consists of; it includes the entire list of minerals, and they are there in quantity. The next ten years will be a revelation to those who know; what must it be to the man who does not know? I have a list here of all the mines and the resume of their possibilities, and know what the next 20 months will demonstrate as to the possibilities of that north land, but lack of time forbids further enlargement.

In answer to a question from an auditor as to when the railway would be extended north, Mr. Englehart replied that at present he was not in a position to answer the question. It has been all surveyed, but would have to wait a little while before it could be gone on with. The grades will be reduced to eight-tenths in order to cut down maintenance charges which are very heavy; electrification is another very important matter, and reports on that question have been obtained for the entire line, and complete plans for that have been prepared. An engine under electrical power will cost from three to four cents a mile for maintenance charges, whereas a power engine under ordinary fuel means nine or ten cents; besides that there is more speed and a larger tonnage than we can carry. When we went into that line we carried 600 tons; three months ago we introduced Mikado engines of 1,200 tons. We are eliminating the 52 miles of curves on the first 100 miles as fast as possible.

The Chairman proposed a hearty vote of thanks to the speaker which was carried.

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Greater Ontario

The 330,000 square miles which is the northern portion of the 400,000 square miles of Greater Ontario. "Within that zone there is not alone happiness, which is the cardinal principle, but there is an assurance of a homestead to everyone who is prepared to undertake to do the work. The great agricultural possibilities of that great northern country. The duty of the members of the audience, as proprietors of the Province, to build it up. Misunderstandings about the climatic conditions. Estimated value of the forests in Northern Ontario. The fishery resources. Quotations from Mr. William M. Smith, who talks about the resources and potential of the North, including the costs of clearing the land, and work to be had in mining and construction. The speaker adds some specific figures for the purchase of land, farms, and buildings. The issue of transportation. How members of the audience might assist in developing this area. The possibilities of the mining industry of Greater Ontario. Some dollar and production figures. The possibilities of extending the railway north.