The Agriculture of the Province
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 23 Jan 1914, p. 122-134
James, C.C., Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
Instilling into the minds and thoughts, particularly of the young people of Canada, to "Know thyself; know thy country, its people, its powers and its possibilities," including the study of agriculture, its conditions, its scope, and its possibilities. Some facts of product export. An illustration to suggest that it is important to us, whether we are living on the farms or in the city of Toronto, to understand the agriculture of Canada. Reasons for the need for agricultural knowledge for everyone. An examination of the agriculture of the Provinces of Prince Edward Island, and that of British Columbia (to look at the extreme East and West provinces of the country). Some major differences between these two provinces. Agricultural details of each province, offering an appreciation of Canada's diverse resources.
Date of Original
23 Jan 1914
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.70011 Longitude: -79.4163
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Full Text
An Address by C. C. JAMES, ESQ., C.M.G., LL.D., before the Empire Club of Canada, Jan. 23, 1914.

Mr. President and Gentlemen,--

Over the entrance of the temple of Apollo at Delphi there were two Greek words which in English are "Know Thyself." It is uncertain who was the author, but that is unimportant. I doubt if any greater truth was, ever uttered outside of the Holy Scriptures than those two Greek words, Know Thyself. I am not a descendant of the wise men of Greece, but in these modern days I would add to that this, "Know thy country, it's people, its powers and its possibilities." (Applause.) If we could only instill that into the minds and thoughts, particularly of the young people of this country, we would need to have little or no anxiety as to the future. And if we are going to do that we must certainly not exclude the study of agriculture, its conditions, its scope, and its possibilities. I read in one of the morning papers today two items. One was headed in large black type, "Big Increase in Canada's Exports." In nine months the gain exceeded $80,000,000. Then away in a little corner was this: "No butter sent to Britain. For the first time in sixty years Canada exported no butter to Great Britain. About half a million pounds was exported to the United States, while butter imported from New Zealand amounted to almost six and a half million pounds." You cannot estimate these things by dollars and cents, nor by pounds. Statements of that kind need to be understood to be appreciated; they require a knowledge of the principles underlying the agriculture of this country. Six and a half million pounds of butter from New Zealand, and every particle of it made up of air! The New Zealanders took air and water and made butter and shipped it over to us, and we apparently had to pay the price for it. And what about the other eighty million dollars of stuff sent out of the country? On paper it looks fine, it looks as though we have eighty million dollars more with which to pay our foreign debts. Perhaps we have, and perhaps we have not. Those amounts themselves do not tell the whole thing. It is possible that the eighty million dollars worth of material we have sent abroad has cost a hundred or more million dollars. I give that as an illustration to suggest that it is important to us, whether we are living on the farms or in the city of Toronto, to understand the agriculture of this country, so that when questions of that kind come up we may not settle them with the lead pencil or pen on paper, but that we may be able to get behind them and know more thoroughly what principles are involved, and understand that after all there is something more than mere numbers to determine the destiny of this country. Agricultural knowledge should be acceptable and should be put before the people of our towns and cities. Continually our newspapers are advising that the people in the country should be taught. I want to tell you there is about as much need that the people of our towns and cities should be instructed along agricultural lines, as the people in the country. Just let me fix that point in a moment or two. The minister who stands in the pulpit every Sunday is sadly handicapped in interpreting the Holy Scriptures if he does not know something of agriculture. All through the Old Testament the life is mainly pastoral life, and he who does not know the cattle and the sheep and the horses and their mode of life, more particularly as found in the great eastern countries, misses to a large extent the beauty and significance of the Old Testament. Then come to the New Testament; can anyone grasp or understand thoroughly the parables of Christ if he does not know something about the principles of the soil and the growing of the seed? The greatest lesson that was ever taught, the greatest parable, is founded upon agricultural work. And the man who goes out to teach the people, or who takes up the Holy Scriptures to read them for his own enjoyment and edification, and has no knowledge of agriculture, has his eyes more or less blinded to the truths contained therein. The old word "Pastor" that is sometimes used even at the present day,--the man who looks after his flock--suggests that after all the holy ministry is based or founded or may be understood only in these old agricultural and rural terms. And the rural problem! Think of sending out our ministers from the theological colleges today to take the pulpits in the country without giving them some special equipment in rural affairs. Can you imagine any more serious loss in the equipment of a man who is going to preach to rural people, than to fill him up with Greek and Latin and History and Homiletics and so on, and send him out to a rural constituency to minister to a rural people without giving him some knowledge of the life and the work of these people? How is he going to grasp the questions that are now becoming so important in connection with our rural life? My opinion is that every theological college in Canada from east to west ought to provide in some way for special instruction in rural sociology for the men who are going out to minister to the people. And the teachers, those who mould the boys and the girls in the school! We continually complain about the trend that is given toward University work and the professions, and what else could you expect unless the people who are teaching these boys and girls, the people who have their hands upon them, in many cases, for a longer period of time than their own parents? How could it be otherwise, unless these people in some respect at least are equipped in agricultural knowledge and are able to deal with agricultural questions? Lawyers and doctors are in almost daily contact with people of the country and rural affairs. Business men should have some acquaintance with the great agricultural questions. A large bulk of the material that passes through their hands has originated on the farm, and a large portion of it is going back to the farm. And as political leaders there is hardly a question that comes up that should not be considered, at least in part from the agricultural or rural standpoint. I hope I will not be misunderstood, and yet I want to make myself clear in that regard. Nearly every great national question that comes up for consideration receives too little consideration from the rural or the agricultural standpoint. We have two or three questions that are up before the people of Canada today, and you do not hear them agitated from the strictly agricultural standpoint. Our political leaders, the men who are leading the thought of the country, to my mind are more or less handicapped unless they are able to size up the agricultural situation and consider these questions in their true relationship to agricultural affairs. And as for the whole people, when we have upon our tables now--or soon will have--beef from Australia, and mutton from New Zealand, and butter from New Zealand, and eggs from Tennessee and Missourithese are the eggs we are eating for breakfast now, laid in Tennessee last March or April and put in cold storage in Chicago, and being shipped in here daily-potatoes from New Brunswick, and flour made out of wheat grown in the Northwest. There rise up before you these questions: Why? Why? Why? Why is it not our own product that is there? Why is it necessary that we go and ransack the world, so to speak, to supply our own table? This is a question, then, that affects not only the professional people and the business people, but every person who is a consumer.

This much by way of introduction. My subject was "The Agriculture of the Province." With the time at our disposal it would be utterly impossible to attempt a review of all the provinces of Canada, and so it occurred to me that perhaps it might be well to talk about two only. We will take the one away in the extreme East, Prince Edward Island, and the other in the extreme West, British Columbia. One could hardly imagine two provinces belonging to the same Dominion having wider differences. Here is a tiny little island down in the Gulf of St. Lawrence measuring in all about 1,400,000 acres of land. Away out on the Pacific we have British Columbia with 266 million acres. It would take you islands the size of Prince Edward Island to measure up to the size of British Columbia. In size, then, they are very different. The one lies on the Atlantic and the other on the Pacific. We have been passing through stringent times in Canada for the last few months, but the little island has not known anything about it. They do not know down in Prince Edward Island that there have been hard times. The most prosperous province in all Canada lies down there in the Gulf, and the business men tell us they have not seen such good times in twenty years as they have had in Prince Edward Island of late. Then go away to British Columbia on the west and talk to the financial men and the business men and they tell you if any province in Canada has been handicapped and has felt the strain and stress of financial stringency during the last few months, it is British Columbia.. They are not discouraged---oh, bless you, no--nothing could discourage a British Colombian. They are just marking time, they are catching their breath before going ahead again, with a rush, but it so happens that they have had to stop, and they admit that they have felt the stringency of the times as no other province. Here we have the two extremes. The little province in the Gulf unaffected, and the big province on the West, possessing probably the greatest resources of the Dominion, coming through the storm with shortened sail. Now, why is that the case? Prince Edward Island has 84 percent of her people on her farms. British Columbia has 48 percent. Is there anything significant in that or not? British Columbia has only 48 percent of her people on her farms, and she eats every day of the year on her tables New Zealand mutton and New Zealand butter. They do not pretend to supply themselves with food. They have had the money, and have been living well, and have been able to buy from Australia and New Zealand and Oregon and Washington more than these smaller provinces in the East. One estimate that was made was that it took fifteen million dollars' worth of food from outside to keep the tables of British Columbia going. I was told the other day by an officer of the Department of Agriculture out there that an investigation they are now carrying on shows that that is away below the mark, and probably it will be found to take two or three times that much. And yet Prince Edward Island has been sending fresh eggs to the Montreal market without a break for the last few weeks and months. There is something, I think, in that. When a financial storm breaks over a country there is something in having that good old sheet anchor of agriculture there to steady the ship in the storm. Just as the provinces of Canada have had their agriculture developed during the last few years, you will find that the financial stress has been weathered. Starting from the extreme East as you go West, more and more severe has been the financial strain. Prince Edward Island in the last ten years lost ten thousand of her people, who moved off her farms and went West, lured away by the stories of speculation and investment and profit m the West. And now she is trying to devise ways and means to hold her own people there. Go to British Columbia and what do we find? British Columbia shutting the door against people coming in. Of course when we understand it is the Chinese and Japanese and Hindoo against whom she is shutting the door we are perhaps not so much surprised as we would be at the bare statement. Here are these two provinces, the one gaining and the other losing, the one ready to welcome the people from any part of the world, and the other shutting the door against the people of the East and making most strenuous efforts in Great Britain and Ireland to induce people to come out and help us develop our resources. And yet Prince Edward Island, notwithstanding that, has only begun to develop her agriculture. She has no crown lands, she has no forest reserves, she has no minerals. It is purely an agricultural island, farming from one end to the other, all under the plow or in pasture, with no waste land, practically, except along the seashore here and there where the sand has been drifting up. It is an island purely agricultural, anal yet they are just beginning to waken up to the possibilities of their agricultural work. Hay, oats and potatoes, have been their three main crops. Now, however, they have started in to develop their dairy, their fruit and their poultry. Furs, fish, and farms are the three great resources of the Island. They may have no crown lands, no timber, no mines, but they are now beginning to develop these three F's, farms, furs and fish. You have heard a good deal in the papers about the black fox farming on the Island, and I suppose you have read that with the same interest and curiosity with which you have read about some great mining speculation in the West or a land boom on the British Columbia coast. There has been more or less speculation, necessarily there must be; but I want to tell you this that there is a sane, sound business development of fur farming down on Prince Edward Island that is just as substantial as any other industry that I know of in Canada today. Look over the papers and read the reports and what do you find? That furs have been advancing in price more rapidly and steadily than almost any other thing that human beings produce. The world is demanding today more and more furs and apparently is willing to pay for them; and the industry has been developed down there on the Island apparently at the opportune time. About four years have gone by since the first company organized, and today they have over two hundred companies engaged in the business on the Island, with a capitalization of fifteen million dollars, and stock on hand worth more than all the other live stock on the Island. It has spread over into Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Of course, if you are going into the business be careful: you will get wild-catted there just the same as in anything else. There is the imitation article as well as the genuine, but this will in time be eliminated. There is the real, sane, substantial basis as well as the counterfeit. Any man that goes in with his eyes shut deserves to lose. If you want to know more about it read the Report of the Conservation Commission, and read the report laid on the table at Ottawa the other day by the Agricultural Committee. This fur farming has brought about two extraordinary things. When I was down there last summer I was told the Prince Edward Island people are a most careful people. My informant said, "Every farmer on the Island has a bank account, and the average bank account of a depositor in Prince Edward Island is higher than in any other province." A farmer on the Island had $10,000 drawing interest at 3 per cent. He decided he would make an improvement on his farm that required $2,000. Do you think he would touch- that $10,000? Not at all; it was contrary to his strict bringing up. He would borrow $2,000 and pay 6 percent interest. Why? Because he had to pay it back. That is what I was told down there. They were so conservative. These slow-going easterners have wakened up. The fox farmer has given them a new outlook. The only thing we hope for is that it will not make them too speculative. They do not borrow the money any more; they have found they can take the money and make more for themselves out of it than by allowing the bank to use it and hand three percent. to them. They have got stirred up. They have even begun to talk about manufacturing establishments on the Island. You might travel the Island from one end to the other without being able to find a single establishment that might be called a manufacturing establishment. Now they are beginning to talk about them, and the latest industry, which is an ally of this fur farming, which is beginning and which may amount to a great deal, is the producing of Persian lamb. If you want to read a story full of romance and interest, get a copy of the New York Times of January 18th, 1914; you will find a full page article, illustrated, on the Karakul sheep, and the production of Persian lamb. The article is written by Dr. C. C. Young, who is in Ottawa at present getting letters of introduction to the British Consulate in St. Petersburg, and is about to leave on his third trip to Siberia and Turkestan with a view to acquiring further knowledge for the production of Persian lamb. They have founded a company on the Island. Dr. Young is a Russian; "Young" is not his name at all; when he left Russia he dropped his name and changed it over to C. C. Young. I told him he was all right about the first part, the initials, but I was not quite so sure about the other. He started down in Mexico but had rough treatment and so came to Texas, but did not get along very well. Meanwhile in Prince Edward Island the farmers had begun to draw their money out of the bank and to make thirty and forty per cent. interest on it. Young started breeding these Karakul sheep down in Texas, and the fur farmers on the Island heard about it and said, "Nothing is too good for Prince Edward Island," and they went after it and they told him what they were doing, and he said, "These are the men I want to get behind me," and they formed a a company on the Island, and now he is off on his third tour to Siberia and Bokhara to see how things are getting along there.

As to fish: Have you eaten real Malpeque oysters in Toronto? If you have you never want to eat oysters of any other kind, the most deliciously flavoured oyster in the world. Two years ago the Island got possession of the waters from the Dominion Government and Premier Matheson thought he saw another resource that should be developed, and they have taken all the bays that cut into the Island and have begun to survey them, and you can go down there and pick out a twentyacre square of water and the land under it, and by paying the Government so much per acre you can get a lease for growing oysters, provided you do it under their regulations and grow them in their way and do not deplete the beds; a rational, sane method of carrying on business, and it looks as though they were going to develop an enormous industry there on the coasts of the Island in connection with oysters. Of course there is always trouble in everything; if you were to go down there you would never adopt the plan that some of them have of going down to Cape Cod and getting a few hundred barrels of oysters and dipping them into the bay and leaving them a while, and then dipping them up again and shipping them to Montreal and Toronto as Malpeque oysters. They are getting on with oysters, and I think with Government inspection and supervision we may expect a wonderful industry on that line.

Farms, furs and fish! There is a great future before the little Island. They have wakened up from a long sleep. They have got the money, and what they lack in that regard the people of the West are apparently prepared to give them.

As to the other province with the different condition and different soils. The Island has no mountains. Unfortunately at one time somebody called British Columbia a sea of mountains. In the south that is applicable, but in the north as the valleys widen and the Peace River Valley stretches into the province, you realize that there are also prairie lands and great plateaus that must mean something in the future development of that country. Hitherto fruit in the Okanagan and other valleys, and butter making down in the rich Eraser valley and in the delta, have been the two mainstays of agriculture, but now that the Grand Trunk Pacific has gone in by Tete Jeune Cache, and the provincial government is pushing its railroads up from the south, they are beginning to open up a country the possibilities of which are almost beyond comprehension. There is a country with enormous stretches, millions and millions of acres of land. The warm moist air of the Pacific is able to come through the mountains as they are far enough apart; so that instead of having the semi-arid irrigable country of Southern Alberta, we have a well watered country and a mild climate. The climate is all right, the soil is all right, and if you look for the vegetation you will see the natural growth of grass and wild peas, in some places almost up to the backs of the ponies as they go through. Nature has endowed Canada with many areas in Central and Northern British Columbia that some day will mean a great deal for us. The great prairie country coming in from the Peace River will grow wheat, and the broad valleys will grow grass and grain and fodder for the live stock, and we may expect out of that country ultimately to get a large portion of the meat and dairy products of the West. Wheat, you say, away up there? Three hundred miles north of Edmonton the Dominion Government Department of Agriculture has an experimental farm at Fort Vermilion; it is seven hundred miles north of the United States boundary, as far north of Edmonton as Edmonton is from the border, and there they have had magnificent crops of wheat for the past six years. Only once was anything touched by frost. They have had better results at Fort Vermilion than they have had at same of the experimental farms three or four hundred miles further south. There are reasons for all that; I have not time to go into them. I simply give you that to illustrate the fact that it is not a question of remoteness nor northerliness, but a question of the influence of the warm air currents coming in from the Pacific Ocean and modifying the climate of that whole section. British Columbia has only a moderate population of 392,000, less than the city of Toronto. She has 249 million acres of land, she has resources in her fisheries, in her forests, in her lands, and in her mines, that probably are unequalled by any other province in the Dominion, and the question is what she is going to do with them. They have a few enterprising people out there; they are people who think in millions. I will just make reference to two lines along which they are seeing the results of their thinking in millions. Last year the province of British Columbia expended six to eight million dollars in the construction of highways. I would not like to tell you how many millions they have put into, or guaranteed, in their railways under construction. Six or eight millions in highways, the finest highways on the continent, built for all time, not like some highways we have seen built this year to be torn up next year and to be rebuilt the following. They are catering to a special class; they propose that the tourists of the continent can go there and drive through and over the mountains and along the sea coast and enjoy themselves, because they realize that probably the most profitable crop any country can' raise is a crop of tourists. The other line along which they are doing big things is in connection with the University of British Columbia. First of all they decided it was time they should lay plans for the, building of a provincial university, and so they set apart a site. Ultimately they selected two hundred and fifty acres at Point Grey. Those of you who may be familiar with Vancouver need not have any explanation; others perhaps would like to know what that signifies. It is practically one of the suburbs of Vancouver; a magnificent road goes out to it and the Marine Drive skirts it, and there is water in front of it, and beyond and above the clouds can be seen the tops of the mountains on Vancouver Island. You can stand there and look to the right and see the snow on the mountains, the glaciers, and look down to the left and see the rich valleys of the delta. It is a magnificent site. That land is worth, on a low calculation, $10,000 an acre. Figure that out and you will find that the site alone is probably worth easily three million dollars. Then they set aside $1,800,000 in cash. There is five million dollars to start with. Then they said, "We must set aside some land," so they are setting aside two million acres of land. You have a good idea here that land in British Columbia is worth something; if you go out and start fruit farming you will find it is worth from $300 to $500 or $1,000 an acre according to conditions. Put $10 an acre as a minimum value on that. One Ontario man out there said that land will be worth $100 an acre. Perhaps it will. The government of British Columbia have planned for a university that is greater than anything that has ever before been conceived in the Dominion of Canada, and unless their plans fail, there is nothing on the continent of America that will stand alongside of it, in time. This little handful of people thinking in millions, have set aside first of all the equivalent of five million dollars, and on top of that two million acres of land. They are building not for this year or next year, but they are building for a hundred years to come. I saw the plans of their buildings, and I said to the architects, "What will they cost?" "Oh, I don't know," he said. Twenty-five million dollars? "Oh, perhaps," he said, "perhaps." They are planning for the next fifty years; it may take twenty-five or fifty years before they are all worked out. I give you that to show you what these people in the West are thinking about, what they are planning for.

The slow-going, self-satisfied people down on the little Island of Prince Edward wakened up one morning and found money could be made out of fur farming and they drew it from the banks and they got going, and apparently there is nothing can stop them. And out on the Pacific coast we have people who are thinking in millions and are intending to make a great country. What lies between? We have not time to tell about it, but they are Canadians in the Gulf Island and Canadians on the Pacific coast. It takes a whole lot of country to make Canada, and a lot of people to make up Canadians, and we here who are living in the centre, in the city of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario, will not be doing our duty unless we find out and know something about what is being done in the beautiful Island in the Gulf, and what also is being done or attempted out on the coast. It is only as we find out these things that we" begin to realize after all that Canada is a great country, and to love it. Whether in Prince Edward Island or British Columbia or Old Ontario, it is worth while to be a Canadian, to be living in this country, and also to be part of the British Empire. (Applause.)

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The Agriculture of the Province

Instilling into the minds and thoughts, particularly of the young people of Canada, to "Know thyself; know thy country, its people, its powers and its possibilities," including the study of agriculture, its conditions, its scope, and its possibilities. Some facts of product export. An illustration to suggest that it is important to us, whether we are living on the farms or in the city of Toronto, to understand the agriculture of Canada. Reasons for the need for agricultural knowledge for everyone. An examination of the agriculture of the Provinces of Prince Edward Island, and that of British Columbia (to look at the extreme East and West provinces of the country). Some major differences between these two provinces. Agricultural details of each province, offering an appreciation of Canada's diverse resources.