Our Northern Heritage
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 4 Jan 1906, p. 107-120
Kirkpatrick, George B., Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
A short resume of the beginnings of a country to which, perhaps, it is not too much to say that the eyes of the Old World are turned at present: Canada. The origin of the name of "Canada." The discoveries of John and Sebastian Cabot, and of Jacques Cartier. The origin of the name "Quebec." More historical events, leading up to 1899, when The Hon. George W. Ross, then Premier of Ontario, directed the speaker to prepare a scheme of exploration in the northern parts of the Districts of Nipissing, Algoma, Thunder Bay and Rainy River. Recommendations for parties to be sent out, each under the charge of an experienced Ontario Land Surveyor to gather specific information: the nature of the soil; the nature, extent, size and quality of the timer; the fixed rocks met with and economic minerals; the general features of the country obtained by a track survey of the water communications, etc.; any valuable water-power, giving the estimated fall and describing the nature of the banks on either side. Some of the results of this exploration, with many details and figures. The future of our northern country. What we want in Canada today and in the future.
Date of Original
4 Jan 1906
Language of Item
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
Address by Mr. George B. Kirkpatrick, of the Ontario Crown Lands Department, before the Empire Club of Canada, on January 4th, 1906.

Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,--

Before giving you a few facts of "our Northern heritage in Ontario I thought it might not be amiss to brush up our memory on what the history of our heritage really is. No doubt many of you know better than I do about Canada, our beloved country, still, admitting that, permit me to give a short resume of the beginnings of a country to which, perhaps, it is not too much to say that the eyes of the Old World are turned at present. It has been well said by Sir Wilfrid Laurier that the Nineteenth Century was the century of the United States of America, while the Twentieth Century is the century of the Dominion of Canada. How little Canada was thought of by our forefathers, British or French, in the early days, may be gathered from the expression of the French King who alluded to it as a few acres of snow.

The origin of the name even is involved in obscurity and the accounts of the different authorities vary considerable. One authority says: " An ancient Castilian tradition existed that the Spaniards visited these coasts before the French, and having perceived no appearance of mines or riches, they exclaimed frequently, ` Acanada,' signifying `here is nothing.' The natives caught up the sound, and when other Europeans arrived, repeated it to them. The strangers concluded that these words were a designation, and from that time it bore the name of Canada." Father Hennepin asserts that the Spaniards were the first discoverers of Canada and that, finding nothing there to gratify their desires for gold, they bestowed upon it the appellation of El Capo in di Nada, "Cape Nothing," whence, by corruption, its present name. Charlevoix, however, gives a different derivation, and supposed the name to have originated from the Indian word Kannata, signifying a collection of huts, which is most probably the true origin of the title since given to the whole country.

The honour of discovering that portion of North America afterwards called Canada is considered to belong to John and Sebastian Cabot, who, two years after the discoveries of Columbus become known in England, received a commission from Henry the Seventh to discover a north-west passage to the East Indies or China. In the year 1497 they sailed with six ships, and in June of the same year discovered the coast of Newfoundland. In the year 1534, Francis the First of France fitted out an expedition for the purpose of establishing a colony in the New World, the command of which was bestowed upon Jacques Cartier. Cartier sailed on the 20th April, 1534 to examine the northern shores of Newfoundland, and afterwards explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and entered a bay which, from the heat he experienced there, he named the " Bay of Chaleurs." Finally he landed on the shore of Gaspe Bay, where he erected a large cross with a shield bearing the arms of France.

Respecting the origin of the name Quebec, there appears to be quite as much uncertainty as with that of Canada. Charlevoix derives its origin from the Algonquin language, while La Potherie asserts it to have originated from an exclamation of the first discoverers under Cartier, who, on first seeing the promontory on which Quebec City now rests, raised an exclamation of " Quel bec." Ontario gets its name from Lake Ontario, the Indian O-no-ta-ri-io. It means handsome lake. On a French map of 1688 Lake Ontario is called Skaniadono. On the 18th September, 1759, the Articles of Capitulation were signed by M. de Ramezay, on the one side, and Admiral Saunders and General Townshend on the other. On the 8th September, 176o, the Articles of Capitulation between their Excellencies Major-General Amherst, Commander-in-Chief of His Britannic Majesty's troops and forces in North America, on the one part, and the Marquis de Vaudreuil, etc., Governor and Lieutenant-General for the French King in Canada, on the other. The fourth article of the Definitive Treaty of Peace concluded between the Kings of Great Britain and France, on the l0th day of February, in the year 1763, contained the Cession of Canada to the Crown of Great Britain.

A Proclamation, dated at St. James, 7th October, 1763, provided for the four distinct and separate governments styled and called by the names of Quebec, East Florida, West Florida and Grenada. The Constitutional Act, 31 George 3rd, Cap. 3i, dividing the Province of Quebec into two distinct Provinces of Lower and Upper Canada, was proclaimed on the 18th November, 1791, and Col. John Graves Simcoe was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada .on the 8th July, 1792. By Proclamation, dated 24th July, 1788, signed by Lord Dorchester, it was stated that whereas the Province of Quebec stood at present divided into only two districts, that several new districts should be formed, namely, Lunenburg, bounded westerly by a north and south line intersecting the mouth of the River Gananoque, then called the Thames; Mecklenburg, extending as far west as to a north and south line intersecting the mouth of the River Trent; Nassau, extending westerly to a north and south line intersecting the extreme projection of Long Point within Lake Erie; and Hesse, comprehending all the residue of the Province in the western or inland parts thereof, of the entire breadth thereof, from the southerly to the northerly boundary of the same.

By 32nd George 3rd, 1792, chapter 8, these Districts were called the Eastern, Midland, Home and Western. By Proclamation of Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe, dated July 16th, 1792, the Province of Upper Canada, under the authority of British Statutes 31st George 3rd, chapter 31, section 14, was divided into nineteen counties, namely, Glengarry, Stormont, Dundas, Grenville, Leeds, Frontenac, Ontario, Addington, Lennox, Prince Edward, Hastings, Northumberland, Durham. York, Lincoln, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent. The last-named county was to comprehend all the country, not being territories of the Indians and not already included in the several counties before described, extending northward to the boundary line of the Hudson's Bay, including the territory to the westward and southward of the said line to the utmost extent of the country commonly called or known by the name of Canada.

By chapter 4, 38th George 3rd, 1798, and by Proclamation, dated July 1st, 1800, the Province of Upper Canada was divided into Districts, namely, the Eastern District, the District of Johnstown the Midland District, the District of Niagara, the District of London, the Western District. In the and Session of the Third Provincial Parliament, 42nd George 3rd, the Counties of Northumberland and Durham were declared to be a separate District to be called the District of Newcastle. By the 5th Session of the Sixth Provincial Parliament in the 56th year George 3rd, 1816, the Counties of Prescott and Russell were established - a new District called the District of Ottawa. In the Sixth Parliament, 56th year George 3rd, 1816, a new District was formed out of part of the Home and Niagara Districts, called the District of Gore. In the Third Session of the- 8th Provincial Parliament, 4th George 4th, 1823, the County of Carleton was declared the District of Bathurst. In 1849, 12th Victoria, chapter 78, an Act was passed abolishing the territorial division of Upper Canada into districts and providing for counties and unions of counties. Since then several new counties have been formed and old counties divided as circumstances required: The date of the re-union of Upper and Lower Canada is 3rd and 4th Victoria, chapter 35, Proclamation, dated February 5th, 1841. In 1841 the Municipal Act was passed and in 1849 an amending Act was passed giving municipal institutions as we have them today. In more recent years the Districts of " New " Ontario were created.

In December, 1899, the then Premier of Ontario, the Hon. George W. Ross, directed me to prepare a scheme of exploration in the northern parts of the Districts of Nipissing, Algoma, Thunder Bay and Rainy River. I did so, and recommended that parties, each under the charge of an experienced Ontario Land Surveyor, be sent out in the Spring of 1900, to gather the following information

(a) The nature of the soil.

(b) The nature, extent, size and quality of the timber.

(c) The fixed rocks met with and economic minerals.

(d) The general features of the country obtained by a track survey of the water communications, etc.

(e) Any valuable water-power, giving the estimated fall and describing the nature of the banks on either side.

My Memorandum being approved of by the Ministry, and the money having been voted by the Legislature, ($40,000), instructions were prepared for ten parties to take the field as soon as practicable. An experienced land and timber estimator and a geologist accompanied each party. I need not describe how the territory was divided up among the ten survey parties, nor need I detain you with an account- of the detailed instructions given nor with their equipment; are they not all written in the books of the Chronicles of the Department of Lands and Mines? Suffice it to say that before the snow fell in the winter of 1900 all the exploration parties had returned without mishap. Their reports were duly laid before the Legislature, and I am glad to say the results of these extensive explorations fully justified the most sanguine expectations in regard to the natural wealth and fertility of Northern Ontario and demonstrated the wisdom of the action taken on the part of the Government and Legislature-the total cost of such exploration amounting to $40,518.

Now what have been some of the results of the above exploration? A great clay belt comprising an area of at least sixteen million acres was discovered, nearly all of which is well adapted for cultivation. This almost unbroken stretch of good farming land was equal in size to the twenty-two counties of Old Ontario lying west of the County of York, or a line drawn from Toronto to Midland, which portion of Ontario was shown to be inhabited at the last Census by a population of one million eighty-one thousand people. This clay belt was found to cover an area as large as the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware combined, and about half the size of the State of New York, or about the size of onehalf of England. It was found to be remarkably well-watered by numerous rivers, the principal of these being the Moose River flowing into James Bay, and its tributaries, the Abitibi, Metagami, Missanabie, and the Albany River with its tributaries, the Kenogami and Ogoki. Including all areas of good agricultural land in what is called New Ontario there were found to be at least twenty million acres, or one hundred and twenty-five thousand farms of one hundred and sixty acres, capable of supporting a population of over one million people.

The climate, which is the necessary accompaniment of any lasting colonization, has been found to present no obstacle to successful settlement. The information obtained by the exploration parties completely dispelled the erroneous impression that its winters are of Arctic severity and its summers too short to enable crops to mature. The vegetables found growing at the Hudson's Bay Company posts were a living proof of the possibility of successful agriculture; even at Albany Post on James Bay, the potato tops were green on the 25th September. On October 3rd of the year 1900, the garden produce had not yet been removed for the winter at Albany Post tomatoes, cucumbers and all other vegetables being grown there. Only two nights of frost were observed up to the 28th day of October. The Director of the Geological Survey of Canada informed me lately that he had for several successive years sent wheat to some of the Hudson's Bay posts in Northern Ontario, and that in each case the wheat ripened successfully.

Up to this date the Department of Lands and Mines has sub-divided sixty townships of thirty-six square miles each into lots for settlement, besides several hundred miles of base and meridian lines prior to further sub-division. Some of the townships subdivided have been reported to be absolutely all good land, not one acre being unfit for settlement; a thing unparalleled in the history of townships in this country. So much for the land; what of the timber growing thereon? From careful estimates made it has been found that there is still in the Crown lands, unsold, white and red pine which will produce at least six billion feet board measure, which at present prices would involve a cash value of not less than forty-two million dollars. If invested at three per cent. this would net the Province an annual income of one million two hundred and sixty thousand dollars. It was found also that extensive forests of spruce, jack pine and poplar existed, estimated to contain at least three hundred million cords of pulpwood, which at 40 cents per cord, amounts to one hundred and twenty million dollars. If invested at three percent this would give to the Province an annual income of three million six hundred thousand dollars for all time to come.

From a very conservative estimate of the annual growth of pulpwood it is found that it amounts to no less than six million cords, sufficient to employ two hundred pulp mills, capable of employing at least one hundred thousand men. The Department of Lands and Mines has at the present time a very efficient band of fire rangers and since this Branch of the Department has been started very few fires have obtained any great headway. In the early days of lumbering in this Province of Ontario it may be said that at least one-third of the pine forests were destroyed by uncontrolled fire; and as the system of fire ranging is being improved from time to time we may expect better results even than at the present. The late Government and the present Government, recognizing the value of forest reserves, have established the following as forest reserves

The Algonquin National Park . . . . . . . . . 1,930 sqr. miles
The Mississaga Forest Reserve . . . . . . . . 3,000
The Nepigon Forest Reserve . . . . . . . . . . 7,300
The Township of Sibley on Thunder Cape . . . . 70
Temagami Forest Reserve . . . . . . . . . . . . 5,900
The Eastern Forest Reserve in the
County of Addington . .. . . . .. . . . . . . . 125
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18,325 sqr. miles

As regards the mineral wealth of Northern Ontario the nickel deposits in the Sudbury District have been found to be practically inexhaustible. As regards the cobalt nickel arsenides and silver deposits of Temiskaming, I am indebted to the Report of Prof. W. G. Miller, the Provincial Geologist, for some interesting facts concerning this portion of the Province. He states that what is known as the Archaean protaxis, or that rugged, rocky region which stretches away from the St. Lawrence River, expanding to the northwestward, and occupying a large part of Northern Ontario, has produced and is constantly producing, a group of what may be called unique, or at least comparatively rare, economic minerals. Probably as great a variety of minerals is produced here in proportion to the number of inhabitants as is derived from any other country.

Among these economic deposits are the nickel mines of Sudbury, which is one of the two important nickel-producing localities of the world, with the by-products, platinum and palladium; the corundum deposits of North Hastings, South Renfrew, and other areas in Eastern Ontario, which now supplies by far the greater part of the corundum consumed in the world; the unsurpassed feldspar and mica deposits of Frontenac and adjoining counties, and the apatite, graphite, pyrite, talc, gold, copper, zinc, lead, fluorite and barite of the same district; the iron ranges, which extend over a great territory, in Northern and North-Western Ontario, but which, up to the present, have not been developed to a great extent.

In addition to these, it may be said that a few years ago North Hastings possessed the only arsenic plant in North America. More recently the auriferous-arsenic ores of Temagami were made known, and lastly a discovery has been made of the series of cobalt nickel arsenides and silver, which are unique, so far as known, on this continent, and are paralleled by deposits only in Saxony and adjacent regions of continental Europe. These ore bodies, which carry values in silver, cobalt, nickel and arsenic, were discovered during the building of the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway. In fact, it may be said that the railway discovered the deposits, as it runs almost over the top of what is, probably the most important vein yet found. (Here it may be added as a curious coincidence that the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway was virtually the discovery of the celebrated Sudbury nickel deposits). The finding of such rich ore within a short distance of the shore of Lake Temiskaming, a stretch of water which has been a well-travelled route to the north by white men for two hundred years or more, and the fact of the deposits being only about four miles from the town of Haileybury, show the possibilities there are for the discovery, of important mineral-bearing areas in the vast hinterland of Ontario-much of which, is little known.

The chief of these bodies which have been worked lie within half a mile of what is now known as Cobalt Station, distant by rail about 103 miles from North Bay junction on the transcontinental line of the Canadian Pacific and 330 miles almost north of the City of Toronto. Some of these veins in the vicinity of Cobalt Station were noticed by the men employed in railway construction in the spring of 1903, but little interest was aroused and nothing was heard of the discovery by prospectors till October of the same year, when Prof. Miller was sent by the Bureau of Mines to examine the territory. The name Cobalt appears to come from the German " Kobold," meaning goblin or house spirit. The metal was so called by the miners because its ore, being arsenious, was poisonous and difficult to treat. Mr. Miller felt, however, when he suggested the name for the town, that in this age such a name would not be considered unlucky. The first report of :his examination of this Cobalt silver area was published in November, 1903, and the public evinced little interest in the field until about eighteen months afterwards, when reports were made of shipments from various properties.

Mr. Miller informs me that a few months ago two and a half million dollars worth of silver had been shipped, while another million dollars worth was on the dump. This it will be seen is a wonderful showing when it is recollected that from the little Silver Islet on Lake Superior three and a half millions was the amount taken out, and that it created a great excitement in mining circles at that time. There are about eighteen companies working in the vicinity of Cobalt, within an area of eight or nine square miles .in .the immediate vicinity of the station. Finds have been made thirty miles north and twelve miles west, so that it is altogether probable that rich deposits exist in outlying districts. It may be remembered, moreover, that the country is practically a virgin forest, in which prospecting must in any case be slow. The Bureau of Mines, through the courtesy of Mr. W. G. Tretheway, obtained a specimen for preservation in its collection of the richer ore from his vein on location J B 7. This sample weighs 79 pounds. Drillings obtained by boring into the sample show it to have the following composition:

Percent Percent
Silver ............66.67 Antimony .............. 9.67
Cobalt ............2.15 Sulpbur .............. .22
Nickel ............ .41 Calcium carbonate .... 6.72
Iron ............1.60 Magnesium carbonate... 1.23
Arsenic ............7.03 Insoluble ............ 3.99

The value of the silver in this 79 pound sample at present market prices is $451.16. The Geological Survey Department at Ottawa has another sample in its collection valued at over $1,400.00, and there are still larger blocks at the mines at the present day. I was at Cobalt myself in August, 1904, and saw with my own; eyes the wonderful productions that were then to be seen. I saw a nugget at the Leroy Mine weighing 200 pounds and several other nuggets of the same size have since been taken out at different mines. I saw the native silver in sheets clinging to the sides of the rock. - I picked up samples of native silver in the clefts of the rocks in many places, and yet when I came back to Toronto and showed some of the specimens and told people of the richness, they were unmoved, thinking it could not be possible that such richness existed in this Province. I am old enough to remember that each time fresh discoveries of the mineral wealth of Ontario have been made people have rather "pooh-poohed" the idea. I have seen myself, in years past, several places in the District of Rainy River where rock broken off before my own eyes and ground in a mortar and then panned has shown gold at every panning, and this over a width of one hundred feet and the vein extending, as I was told, over four miles. That, of course, I cannot vouch for myself, but the mine is yet in existence, and I have not the slightest doubt will be a paying mine some day.

As regards the iron industry, there have been many discoveries made in different parts of the Province, and although at the present time they are not being extensively worked, sufficient has been shown to prove that this Province contains valuable deposits of the most, valuable metal in the world. The Helen Mine near Michipicoten is the most important producing one at present. Then there are well known deposits in they Atikokan region in the Thunder Bay District, and there are other valuable deposits in the Township of Hutton, in the District of Nipissing, and also on Loon Lake, north shore of Lake Superior. Mr. Gibson, the Director of the Bureau of Mines, informs me that the output of nickel this year is double that of last year, and that! Ontario nickel and cobalt have taken the place formerly held by New Caledonia, the only other place in the world where these minerals are worked. Many of you, no doubt, remember the exhibition of Ontario minerals furnished by the Bureau of Mines at the Pan-American Exposition held at Buffalo in 1901. Twenty-one awards were made to the Ontario Exhibit, viz., three gold medals, seven silver medals, six bronze medals, and five "honourable mentions," a larger number than the Exhibit of any other State or country, save Mexico, received.

At the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held at St. Louis in 1904, Ontario won under the heading " Mines " two grand prizes, twelve gold medals, eight silver medals, and five bronze medals; under the heading " Agriculture," six gold medals, eight silver medals, two bronze medals and .three diplomas. The total awards of the Dominion of Canada being one hundred and eleven and Ontario carrying off forty-six of these. The amount of prize money won by Canadian competitors for live stock was $20,512, which the Dominion Government supplemented by a similar sum. At the PanAmerican Exposition in 1901 under the heads of " Cattle, sheep, swine, horses and poultry," Ontario won prizes to the amount of $5,979, as against .the whole United States total of $7,956. I am indebted to the Bureau of Industries for the following interesting statement, showing the present condition of the agricultural developments of the Province of Ontario.

Number of farms in Ontario (approximately). . 175,000
Value of farms in Ontario . . . . . . . . . . $1,160,000,000
Net products for Ontario farms for 1904 . . . 183,400,000

That we are on the eve of still greater development is shown by the fact of the advance of railways into Northern Ontario. The Temiskaming and Northern Railway under the Railway Commission has its first section in good running order, being the 115 miles from North Bay to New Liskeard at the head of Lake Temiskaming. It has been in operation not quite a twelvemonth, and the Provincial Treasurer received a cheque for $100,000 a few days ago as representing the net earnings of the railway for that period. North of New Liskeard a section of 100 miles is now under construction, and the steel has been laid for 4o miles of it. It is intended to extend the railway to a junction with the Grand Trunk Pacific, which I understand has located its line definitely north of Lake Abitibi, and which will run through the clay belt before mentioned. What I have said will, I hope, induce many of my hearers to take a trip through some part of Northern Ontario. They will be well repaid even if they only go as far as Lake Temagami with its 1,259 islands, with the beautiful Lady Evelyn Lake, and others too numerous to mention. I could tell you fish stories without end, but instead, I say, go and see for yourselves. People from the United States take longer summer holidays than we can manage, and they are taking trips there in increasing numbers every year, and are enthusiastic on the subject. They appear to agree on one point, viz., that they have nothing like it on their side of the line.

And now that I have told you of a few of the good points of our northern country, let me beg of you one and all to be optimists rather than pessimists as to the future. We all know that waves of depression pass over all countries at times, but that invariably the good times come again. The most curious instance of despair that I have met with in my study took place in 1839, when, as stated in a report by Mr. William Spragge, wherein he combatted the idea very strongly, the opinion was largely held that a total absorption of land rights under the Upper Canada Land Act, in the payment of lands offered for sale, would speedily take place, and business then be at an end in the Surveyor-General's office-the lands still disposable being so trifling in amount and indifferent in quality as to render it improbable that any new settlements of consequence would be formed with advantage. Mr. Spragge went on to point out that beyond the limits of our present surveys, fertile lands existed and presented a future field for enterprise. He advocated an immigration policy and inducements to such as desired to settle on and cultivate the public lands, and wound up by stating his belief that until extensive alterations were adopted, the resources of the country could be but partially developed and our rear country continue a wilderness and the sons of many of our most enterprising farmers, as they arrived at manhood, continue to emigrate .to the United States.

This was penned 65 years ago, and shows what La lamentable state of ignorance prevailed among people generally as to the value of their great heritage. We can have no excuse nowadays for such a view, and if I have aided in any way in enlarging the vision of any of my hearers I shall be amply repaid. Remember, gentlemen, that what we want Canada to be today and in future is a nation of honest, true, temperate, Godfearing, united, and I need hardly say, last but not least, loyal men and women, loving their country, respecting each other's views, living in harmony, and having for their motto the words of the wise man, "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."

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Our Northern Heritage

A short resume of the beginnings of a country to which, perhaps, it is not too much to say that the eyes of the Old World are turned at present: Canada. The origin of the name of "Canada." The discoveries of John and Sebastian Cabot, and of Jacques Cartier. The origin of the name "Quebec." More historical events, leading up to 1899, when The Hon. George W. Ross, then Premier of Ontario, directed the speaker to prepare a scheme of exploration in the northern parts of the Districts of Nipissing, Algoma, Thunder Bay and Rainy River. Recommendations for parties to be sent out, each under the charge of an experienced Ontario Land Surveyor to gather specific information: the nature of the soil; the nature, extent, size and quality of the timer; the fixed rocks met with and economic minerals; the general features of the country obtained by a track survey of the water communications, etc.; any valuable water-power, giving the estimated fall and describing the nature of the banks on either side. Some of the results of this exploration, with many details and figures. The future of our northern country. What we want in Canada today and in the future.