THE PEOPLING OF ONTARIO.
An Address by Mr. C. C. James, M.A., LL D., Deputy Minister of Agriculture, before the Empire Club of Canada, on Jan. 26, 1911.
Mr. President and Gentlemen
Once in a while we have seen the prophecy made by some ardent-perhaps over-ardent Imperialist-that the day will come when the centre of the British Empire will move westward across the Atlantic Ocean and find its location somewhere in Canada. I doubt, however, if any of us will live long enough to see that, however much we might desire it. There are others who have prophesied that ultimately the centre of Canada must also move westward, and the direction of Canadian affairs-the heads of the Government-will be transferred from the banks of the Ottawa River to the banks of the Red River. That is a question that concerns us perhaps a little more directly at the present time because it comes home more closely to us; and while it is a possibility, yet I think perhaps it, also, is not likely to occur within the period of our existence.
The West in its growth, development and its increase in population, in the development of its great agricultural resources in particular, has been attracting a great deal of attention, and some of us who are concerned with similar movements in the East, often ask the question, why is it these problems of the West appear to take up so much time and public attention, more than similar problems do in the East? Not long ago I asked a financial man of the city of Toronto his opinion of that, and he said the answer was very easy. "Eastern capital is so largely interested in the West, and the development of the West so largely based upon credit, that the people of the East are directly concerned in the prosperity and growth of that country, perhaps, to an almost larger extent than in the growth and development of our own Province." Whatever may be the reason for it, I think we may clearly come to this conclusion, that it is our duty as citizens of the Province of Ontario to study first and foremost those questions which directly concern this banner province of the Dominion, and anything that has to do with the increase in the population, and in the distribution of the population within the boundaries of this Province--anything that has to do with the development of great industries, whether manufacturing industries or rural industries. These questions ought to be given by us very careful consideration, and that is one of the reasons why I thought it might interest you if I were to say a few things along the line of the growth and development, of the future possibilities, of the population of the Province of Ontario.
We have heard of the rise, growth and development of our own Province, but the people of our own Province have as interesting a story as has ever been written about any other country, and if we were only to take the trouble and pains to look into that story we would find it not only interesting, but also find it a source of great inspiration to us. Just let me refer to two or three notes I have as to the facts concerning the growth and increase of the people of this Province. In the years 1783-4 we find the first trek into this wilderness, which then formed the western portion of the Province of Quebec. We are told by historians of that time that some ten thousand U.E. Loyalists left their homes across the line to come and form the first settlements in this western portion of Quebec. At that time there were four fortified posts on the frontier-Oswego, Cataraqui (the present Kingston), Fort Niagara, and one on the River Detroit.
Naturally, coming into this wilderness country with foes on all sides, or at least those who were not disposed to be friendly, the Loyalists would take up land and settle down in as close proximity to each other as possible. So we find the struggles of the early pioneers of this country taking place about these four places; along the St. Lawrence River in the vicinity of Oswego, around the Bay of Quinte in the vicinity of Fort Cataraqui, along the road that reached old Fort Niagara in the south-western portion of the Peninsula, and in the immediate neighbourhood of Detroit. This left large gaps in between, with a total of about 75,000 or 80,000 at the outside. The centennial of the War of 181214 will be with-us very soon, and I doubt if there is anything that will help us appreciate the situation and what took place at that time so much as to clearly get into our minds that the entire population of the Province of Upper Canada then consisted of less than one-fourth of the people at present resident in the city of Toronto.
After the close of that war, which brought peace not only to this continent, but also to all Europe, there began a great movement into this province the great British immigration, or trek as it is sometimes called. Beginning in 1814, when the returning regiments were disbanded, and had to be provided with homes, it kept on increasing continually away on down to the 40's, 50's and 60's, lasting even down to the time of Confederation in 1867. This movement across the ocean of the English, Scotch, Irish and Welsh, was, of course, materially assisted by certain economic conditions in the Old Land. We now come to that time, with which students of British history are familiar, when owing to the failure of the potato crop and new styles of farming introduced, etc., Britishers began to stream across to this great country. They came not only in thousands, but in tens of thousands, and, taking it over a long period, to hundreds of thousands. As they came into Upper Canada they began to gradually fill in those places on the frontier between the original four sections I have referred to, and then they began to fill up the townships to the rear.
Those were growing times for Canada. Sometimes, now, when there is a very large movement in this Province or some of the other Provinces, we refer to the enormous number and great tidal wave of humanity that is moving in; but taking the population relatively, I doubt if we have ever seen anything in the Province of Ontario to equal that movement of the British settlers who crossed the ocean in the 40's, 50's and 60's. These people contributed a very important element to the development of Upper Canada, particularly from an agricultural standpoint, and this is one that specially interests myself. They brought the old love for live-stock, and not only that, bat they brought considerable numbers of live-stock with them, and they brought also into the development of Upper Canada, as it was then called, a new element and one to which this Province and Canada as a whole owes a great deal. That is the introduction of pure-bred stock, cattle, horses, sheep and swine; and if it had not been for the live-stock element at the back of our great agricultural industry, I am afraid that this Province of Upper Canada would long since have been bankrupt.
In 1867 the rural population of the Province of Ontario amounted to 1,020,000, and the urban population to only 290,000, that is, there were in all the towns and cities in the Province of Ontario at Confederation nearly 100,000 less than there are in the city of Toronto alone today. From then down to 1886 there was a steady growth, not only in our rural population, but also in our town and city population; but when we come to the year 1886 we find that something new is introduced into the Province of Ontario, something which started a new era, and that was the completion of the C.P.R., which opened up immense areas of cheap agricultural lands to the west of the Lakes. The effect of this was very, very marked; at once there began that movement which has continued ever since, the farmers of Ontario going out West to develop Western agricultural lands, Western towns and cities; and there has grown up that great manufacturing industry in Ontario which has also reacted on the rural parts, drawing into the towns and cities our young men by scores, by hundreds, and by thousands. Add to this the adoption of the McKinley tariff, whereby .the great bulk of our most valuable farm products were excluded from the United States, and you will have for consideration three facts in connection with the rural population which must be very seriously considered-the attraction of cheap lands in the West; the attraction of the local towns and cities through the development of manufactures here; and the exclusion of our best products from the United States market.
All these things came about the same time, and it is little wonder that when we come to the year 1886 we find that this rural population was at once checked, and that from then on it went down gradually until about 14 years ago, in 1896-7, we find that the rural population in Ontario had lost not only all its natural increase, but about 100,000 in addition. Meanwhile, however, and just for comparison, if you will allow me, I will give you a few figures. I will not burden you with many, but to show you what a difference in growth then took place in country and town, I will just give you the figures of those years. From 1867 to 1886 the rural population increased by about 130,000, whereas the urban population had grown from 290,000 to 678,000, but by 1906 this rural population had dropped off 100,000, and the urban population had grown from 678,000 to 1,092,000. Now that brings us down to the present time. In 1906 or 1907, apparently, we reached the bottom of the swing so far as the rural population was concerned.
We are now on the upgrade; not growing very rapidly, it is true, but still making some growth. The average increase in the rural population in Ontario during the last three years has averaged about 3,000 a year-the average urban population between 40,000 and 45,000 a year. So at the present time we are face to face with certain conditions in this Province that require very careful study, and in fact more than careful study, very, very careful consideration on the part of those who have to do with the management and direction of affairs. The question is this: What is to become of the Province of Ontario within the next twenty or twenty-five years? Are we simply to drift or follow the lines of the least resistance? Or are we to endeavour to direct the growth of our people and try to assist in the development of the people along certain specific lines? Here is the question: Is Ontario to become a great manufacturing Province, or is it to become an agricultural Province, or is it possible to develop both interests side by side?
Ordinarily, one would say the development of the manufacturing of a country must necessarily bring about the development of the agriculture of the country; and, yet, if you will look at the history and development of a large number of the United States and of certain countries of Europe, you will find that it is a matter of great difficulty to develop these two great industries side by side. We have, perhaps, the best examples in the United States. We know, of course, there was a time there when agriculture and manufacture were inseparable, mainly because the manufacturing was of a domestic nature; but since manufacturing has been taken out of the home and put in factories the tendency has been to build up the large towns and to draw the population for these large towns chiefly from the country. The States that have developed their manufacturing industries to the greatest extent are not those which have developed their agriculture. The tendency in most countries is to concentrate efforts along one line or the other. In Europe, for instance, you will find the greatest agricultural sections are not great manufacturing sections, but there you will also find places where the two are growing up side by side.
Now what is to be the future of Ontario? The first thing, perhaps, will be to look at its natural advantages, and we have only to look at them to see that rove have here in this Province ad,antages for manufacturing enjoyed by few other places on the North--American continent. We are just coming into the era of cheap electric power. We are coming to that time when manufacturing will depend to a large extent upon the cost of power, and we are passing from the condition of being dependent entirely upon coal to the utilization of water-power. One has only to mention St. Mary's River, the Niagara, the St. Lawrence, the Ottawa, the Trent-to say nothing of the almost unlimited water-power that will be opened up in Northern Ontario by the new railroads that are being constructed-to prove that here in this Province we have unlimited water-powers awaiting only development.
I venture to make the prophecy that you will see within the next ten or fifteen years a great development in eastern Ontario. We in western Ontario have always rather felt that there is a superiority in the western over the eastern part of this Province; but if we study this question from the standpoint I have just referred to, we can come to only one conclusion, and that is that in eastern Ontario in the next ten or fifteen years there will be a development such, perhaps, as the west did not know in its palmiest days. Take the River Trent-one of the water-powers I mentioned, and starting at Balsam Lake, at the head of that system-we have there a sheet of water higher than Lake Superior. The fall from Balsam Lake to the mouth of the Trent exceeds in height the St. Mary's, Niagara Falls, and all the rapids of the Niagara River. We have, therefore, the facilities for the development of our great manufacturing industries, and, there is no question about it, that as the West grows and increases and spreads out there is going to be a great expansion of manufacturing here in the Province of Ontario.
But what concerns some of the rest of us is what, at the same time, is going to become of the development of our agricultural resources and our agricultural population? We come, then, right at that point, to what is one of the most important and serious questions before the people of this Province today. Men who live in the towns and cities frequently complain about the shortage of labour. Again and again we are compelled to bring out cheap labour for manufacturing. But if the manufacturer is up against it for his manufacturing, the man who is working upon the farm and developing the agricultural resources of this country is "up against it" to a far more serious extent. This drawing away of our population to the West, and this luring of the cheap labourer of the country into the towns and cities, has drained the farms of this country so that one wonders there are any people left in the rural parts, the agricultural portions, at all.
The situation began to show itself so seriously some three or four years ago, that the Department of the Government to which I am attached and which has supervision of immigration and colonization work, felt that it was absolutely necessary for something to be done to attract, if at all possible, more farm labourers to this country. There had been up to that time a very vigorous campaign carried on by the Immigration Department, and they had been attracting large numbers to this Province; but the lure of the West had been too much, and all were passing by our doors to the cheap lands of the West. And when to the Dominion Immigration endeavours was added the campaign carried on by the Western land companies and the transportation companies, you will see that there was very little for the East to hope for from that movement. The result was that an extra effort was put forth to try and see if we could not attract immigrants directly to this Province from the Old Land.
Then was commenced, about 1907, a very active campaign in the Old Country to try and attract people to this Province. Out of that has come an organism, a fairly complete system in the Old Land, with head office of the management on the Strand, London. We located on the Strand, in London, because that street is the most important street in the whole world, I suppose. Now we come across people again and again who say: "Why, it is an easy matter, you ought to bring out people in tens of thousands to Ontario and the other Provinces." Of course, people who talk in that way have had no experience in the matter as to what conditions we find in the Old Country. Here we have the rural parts of Ontario crying for men; have our manufacturers from one end of the country to the other crying out for more help; and we go to the Old Land in preference to any other country, because we think that stock is the best to introduce into this land. What do we meet with there? We meet with every other Colony competing for the same article. We meet there agents from Australia, for instance, who say to a man and his family: "We will take you to Australia, put you down on a farm, that farm will have a house and barn, implements and stock, and it will not cost you one cent, now, and you will have from thirty to forty years to pay for it."
That is competition which is pretty hard to meet. They are not all offering these inducements, but they are coming pretty close to it. There is not a great surplus of agricultural labour in the Old Land--changes have been taking place there similar to what we have had in this country. You will find here large areas formerly given over to the growing of corn now given up to hay and pasture, and the farmhands drifting away, as a consequence, to the towns and cities. Figures show that there are 1,000,000 people less working on the land in the Old Country today than there were thirty to forty years ago. So the class of people we want most are not anxious to come out here, and they are the very people the Old Country wants and is trying to keep, and the very class of people that South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and the States are anxious for and are offering the most flattering inducements to. There is a great big question there, and I would like to lay before you the issues involved in that; we are endeavouring to develop the natural resources of the Province of Ontario. To do that we must have people--we must have people of the right sort -we must locate them and distribute them where they can develop and where we can educate them and train them.
If we bring 10,000 people from the British Isles and locate them in Ontario, either in Old or New Ontario, we add that 10,000 to our population. If we send them into Northern Ontario, we have got to build colonization roads for them, and it costs much more to administer law and furnish schools; and with that comes the location and development of the people on the land or in towns and cities, all of which costs money; and as we increase the people, and as we make them more efficient-so that they can earn more and spend more-the result is that up goes the financial revenue of the Dominion Government, but that not a cent goes into the coffers of the local or Provincial Government! Everything that a Provincial Government does along the line of education, along the line of colonization, along the line of equipment, is simply placing, so to speak, a heavier burden upon its own resources. Now, there are some Provinces struggling even more than Ontario along these lines-Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and parts of the Province of Quebec-all have these same problems.
It is essential from a national standpoint that our lands--these cheap fertile lands--should be occupied, and that they should be occupied by people of good British stock who can be trained and developed along the best dines, so that they will become most efficient.
These needs are largely met and managed by the Provincial Government, but they require money, and it would seem to be in the best interest of Canada as a whole if, in some way or other, the Dominion and Provincial Governments could co-operate so that the funds of the one could be utilized by the other in this very important work. In short, the Dominion has the money-the Provinces the facilities. Now, if we look to the development of Canada as a whole, it ought to be possible in some way to develop a line of work whereby our great natural resources could be developed; and, particularly, help given to the people who are developing these resources in their equipment for carrying on that work. We are proud, sometimes overproud, of the natural resources of our country; sometimes perhaps we over-estimate the great resources of this Province and of the Western Provinces. Whatever mistakes we may make along those lines, there is no question that above all the natural resources of Canada, whether of timber, lands or mines, the greatest are the men, women and children who occupy the country.