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FAVOURED BY THE CLERGY.
bettering the future condition of practical agriculture everywhere.
M. Villeneuve, the Principal of the Roman Catholic college at Montreal, I found already alive to the subject. He had taken one of the college farms into his own hands, with a view to model improvements; and on his library table I was pleased to find a copy of the fifth American edition of my published Lectures. country in the world, as my subsequent experience taught me, is the application of a greater amount of knowledge to the soil more necessary than in Lower Canada. Through the primary schools it can be brought to bear upon the practice of the next generation, without interfering directly with the prejudices of the present; and thus, without clashing of interests, the common good of all may be surely and peacefully promoted.
My stay in Montreal was too short to allow me the opportunity of meeting and conversing with the numerous other persons who are interested in the improvement of Lower Canadian agriculture. I was happy, however, to find that the heads of the Roman Catholic clergy, here and at Quebec, were among the chief supporters of the Agricultural Society of the Lower Province, and were exerting themselves to interest the inferior clergy, so influential among the habitants, in the introduction of a modicum of agricultural instruction into the schools under their charge.
In the afternoon of this day I crossed the St Lawrence with Mr Wettenhall, an influential member of Assembly from Upper Canada, and Major Campbell, of St Hilaire, Secretary to the Governor-general, who had kindly invited us to visit him at his place of St Hilaire, about fifteen miles from Montreal. We crossed the river by a steamboat, and descended a little way to Longeuil, whence we proceeded by the St Lawrence
ST LAWRENCE AND ATLANTIC RAILWAY.
and Atlantic railroad, which has already been opened as far as St Hyacinth, a distance of about twenty-seven miles. This railroad, which will afford the easiest and shortest line yet projected from Montreal to the Atlantic, will reach the coast at Portland in Maine. When it is completed, which is expected to be the case in two or three years, it will not only greatly promote the prosperity of Montreal and of Quebec, to which city a branch is intended to fork off, but it will much assist the city of Portland to compete with the growing neighbour city of Boston, which it is anxious to rival and surpass. To be at the mouth of a long river, or at the terminus of a long inland railway, and upon the Atlantic border, seem, from past experience, to be sure preludes to commercial prosperity in a North American city. It is not surprising, therefore, that New York, Boston, and Portland, should all be anxious to perfect, complete, or shorten their lines of communication with the Canadas and the St Law
For ten miles we went over a flat country, chiefly of tertiary or post-tertiary light-coloured clays. Here a break-down upon the line arrested our advance, and we considered the most promising way of getting on was to walk the remaining five miles. This gave us an opportunity of seeing to greater advantage the wooden bridge and viaduct, 1200 feet long, which conducts the railway across the river Richelieu. This bridge, though nothing almost when compared with the engineering triumphs of our British railways, is deserving of a visit, both as a difficult work of art, and as an evidence of the enterprise and energy of a young and growing country. We arrived at St Hilaire three hours behind our time, and fully prepared for an unexpectedly late dinner.
Sept. 26. This morning was wet and unpromising for a rural excursion in a flat and somewhat clayey country, where the roads are bad and walking difficult.
ST HILAIRE BUTTER.
While the sun came out, however, put an end to the rain and dried the land, we were able to inspect the well-finished stables and farm-offices which Major Campbell has erected, and to inspect his dairy and his stores of maple sugar.
I have already, in speaking of the winters of New Brunswick, made some remarks upon the importance of greater attention to the warmth of the cattle, if their condition is to be easily kept up, fodder saved, and profit to be made by keeping them. In this and the lower parts of Canada, similar observations apply to the mode in which the habitants tend their cattle in winter. In Upper Canada, west of Kingston, open hammels are in use for winter shelter, but in Lower Canada this practice is inconsistent with economy. About Montreal, in the winter of 1848, the thermometer, for three weeks together, never rose above zero. Το expose cattle to such extreme weather is to sacrifice food. It struck me, therefore, that, in erecting well-constructed warm winter buildings for his stock, the Seigneur of St Hilaire was setting a most commendable example to his tenantry and more wealthy neighbours.
I do not know how far the method of making butter adopted in Mr Campbell's dairy is common in Lower Canada, but here it is made after the manner of what is sometimes called Bohemian butter, or of some of the varieties of the Epping butter of England. The cream is collected, Devonshire fashion, in the form of clouted cream, by placing the milk-vessel, in which the milk has already stood twelve hours, upon a hot plate till it is nearly boiling, then setting aside twelve hours to cool, and subsequently removing the cream in the usual manner. In this way it is said that a fourth more butter is obtained, and the churning is performed by merely stirring the cream about with a stirrer, or with the naked hand. Of course the skimmed milk is more
MANUFACTURE OF MAPLE SUGAR
worthless, and contains only the curd and the sugar of the new milk.*
But the maple-sugar manufacture of this neighbourhood was more interesting, as it possessed more novelty to me. The importance of this industry to the Canadas may be judged of from the fact that, in 1848, there was made, in Canada West, as much as 4,140,667 lb. of maple sugar, or nearly 6 lb. for each inhabitant. In Lower Canada, in 1844, the quantity produced was 2,250,000. If we suppose it now to be 3,000,000, the whole quantity of maple sugar produced in average years, in all Canada, is about 7,000,000 lb. There are imported besides, of West India sugar, about 20,000,000 lb.— so that the home produce amounts to one-fourth of the home consumption.
Maple sugar is also an important article of rural industry in some of the United States. In Michigan, the produce in 1848 was estimated at 1,774,368 lb.; and in Vermont and New Hampshire, it amounted to several millions of pounds. †
Major Campbell is himself a maple-sugar grower to a considerable extent. On his domain he possesses about 12,000 trees, which yield on an average about a pound
* Another variety, which I believe is the genuine esteemed Epping butter, is made by churning alone the cream which rises naturally during the first twenty-four hours. This gives a much more delicately flavoured butter than when all the cream which the milk will yield is mixed and churned together.
+ The Report of the Patent Office for 1847 estimated the maplesugar crop for that year in New Hampshire at 2,250,000, in Vermont at 10,000,000, and in New York State at 12,000,000 lb. But it estimated that of Michigan, in the same year, at 3,250,000 lb. ; whereas the returns published by the legislature of that State make it only 1,750,000 for 1848, which was a remarkably good sugar year. I doubt, therefore, that exaggerations may exist also in the returns for Vermont and New York, as given in the Patent Office Report for 1847, p. 85, and therefore I have not introduced the numbers into the text. The estimate for Upper Canada is taken from the Reports of the Canadian Board of Registration and Statistics, published at Montreal in 1849.
IN CANADA AND THE STATES.
each tree. Some trees yield three or four pounds—a pound being the estimated yield of each coulisse or taphole-and some trees being large and strong enough to bear tapping in several places. Some years also are much more favourable to this crop than others, so that the estimate of a pound a tree is taken as a basis which, on the whole, may be relied on as fair for landlord and tenant. These trees are rented out to the sugar-makers at a rent of one-fifth of the produce, or one pound for every five trees. March and April are the months in which the trees are tapped, and the best weather is when hard frost during the night is followed by a hot sun during the day. In Upper Canada, from its proximity to the lakes probably, the sugar weather is more variable, and the crop less certain than in Lower Canada.
The first sap that flows in April is clear, colourless, and without taste. After standing a day or two, this sap becomes sweet; and a few days after the tree has begun to run, the sap flows sweet. The last sap flows thick, and makes an inferior sugar, called here sucre de seve. When boiled carefully in earthen-ware or glazed pots, the clear sap gives at once a beautifully white sugar, and especially if it be drained in moulds and clayed, as is done with common loaf-sugar. When pure white, however, it cannot be distinguished from refined cane-sugar. It is generally preferred of a brown, and by many of a dark-brown colour, because of the rich maple flavour it possesses a flavour which, though novel to a stranger, soon becomes very much relished. It is an article of regular diet among the Lower Canadians. On fast-days, bread and maple sugar are eaten in preference to fish. In spring it sells as low as 3d. a pound, but in winter it rises sometimes as high as 6d.
In some of the townships of the Eastern Counties-as the district is called which lies between this place and the borders of Maine and New Hampshire-maple-groves