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BRITISH AMERICAN LAND COMPANY.
to render in payment of the lands they held; but it, nevertheless, indicates that the existence of seignorial rights is considered a grievance by the people, and that, like our former tithe-payments, though strictly just, they will stand in the way of the agricultural improvement of the country. Every encouragement, therefore, should be given to the buying up of the annual rent-charges, and enfranchisement should be made compulsory as regards the fines on transfers, the right of pre-emption, of milling the corn, and other minor claims of the seigneur.
Sherbrooke, on the River St Francis, and on the proposed continuation beyond St Hyacinth of the St Lawrence and Atlantic railway, is near the centre of the grant made to the British American Land Company, which I have already incidentally noticed. This company prefers to sell their lands at from 10s. to 15s. an acre, to give credit to the purchaser for ten years, on payment of 6 per cent interest on the purchase-money, and, at the close of this period, to receive the price in four yearly instalments, bearing interest also while unpaid, at the rate of 6 per cent per annum. This tedious and complicated mode of payment does not appear to have found much favour with purchasers or settlers, and, with the inland situation of the district, and the neighbourhood of a French population, has probably contributed to the very slow rate at which land has been disposed of in these eastern counties, and at which its market-value has increased.
In the Report published by the Board of Registration and Statistics at Montreal, in 1849, it is stated of the county of Sherbrooke, that "the registrar does not know of a single new settler having located himself in any of the new townships of the county; nor does he think there has been any increase in the value of lands for ten years. This is a very unpromising account of the
FEW BRITISH SETTLERS.
district, in which a large part of the grant of the Land Company is situated, and does not at all encourage intending emigrants to settle there. Of the adjoining
county of Shefford, in which also they own much land, it is said in the same report, that about 1000 acres of the land sold during the year has been to new settlers, at the rate of 15s. to 20s. currency an acre, and that the increase in the value of land, within ten years, had been 5s. or 6s. an acre.
These eastern counties of Lower Canada were at one time brought prominently before the British public, in consequence of the late Mr Galt having gone out to Canada as agent to the Land Company. But if we may judge from the proclamation issued by Dr Nelson, during the time of the Rebellion of 1837, such companies are not very popular with the French Canadians, nor settlers upon their lands regarded with much favour. And without supposing that there is anything wrong either in the existence or management of these companies, we can understand why the old settlers should look with disfavour upon bodies of men whose professed object is to bring in emigrants of another blood, tongue, and faith, and, at the same time, to lessen the facilities and enhance the expense of settling their own increasing families.
I regretted that my leisure did not permit me to visit Sherbrooke, for the purpose of inspecting the district in person. It is said, and I should think with much reason, that the Company's grant, along with the whole of the inland region of which it forms a part, will be greatly benefited by the completion of the St Lawrence and Atlantic railway now in progress.
Sept. 27.-Unable longer to avail myself of the kind hospitality of Major Campbell, I left St Hilaire at 8 A. M., and returned by railway to Montreal, along with Mr Wettenhall. I would strongly recommend flying visitors
FRENCH MORE HOME-LOVING.
to Montreal to devote a day to an excursion to St Hilaire, and a climb to the top of Beloeil. They will be able to procure agreeable accommodation at an hotel which the seigneur was building at the time of my visit, in a beautiful situation, for the accommodation of railway tourists.
In the afternoon I visited, in company with some agricultural friends, the brickmaker in whose hands the tilemachine of Major Campbell had been placed. He had this season made 40,000 tiles, all of which he expected to sell at the price of six to eight dollars a thousand, according to the size. It was chiefly a few British farmers in the neighbourhood of Montreal who had hitherto tried them, but so far with much advantage. I am satisfied that, in all the St Lawrence flats, they are to be a means of much agricultural improvement. As they become more in demand, their price at the tile-work will diminish, and the cost of executing thorough-drainage be in consequence lessened.
The plea will not be so generally urged here as it is in the New England States, and in that of New York, against the expenditure of money in improvement, "that the land, when drained, will not sell for an equivalently increased price in the market." For, though it may be equally true here as in the States, yet the French Canadians are a more fixed, home-loving race of people, not so given to change, and would therefore, if they had the money, be more willing to expend it in improving and embellishing the houses of themselves and their children. But the vast number of mortgages with which the farmers in Lower Canada are oppressed may prove an obstacle, which only a board of "Commissioners for the Sale of Encumbered Estates" will be able to overcome.
I had only time left to take a hasty drive up and around the hill of Montreal-an excursion to which I
COUNTRY OF THE OTTOWA.
would gladly have devoted an entire day. The rocky surface of the island consists, for the most part, of the same Trenton limestone on which Kingston stands; but it is interstratified with greenstone trap, of which an outburst forms the Mont Royal. Independent of the drift, which deeply covers the hollows and slopes of the island, and modifies its natural surface, there are in the mingled debris of these two rocks materials enough to account for the fertility which in ancient times made it the central residence of the Indian tribes, and has since secured it the frequent eulogies of French and other writers.
At half-past six P.M., I went on board the steamboat for Quebec. The weather was thick, dark, and rainy, and as I knew no one on board, I retired to my stateroom at seven. After a rainy night-voyage of a hundred and sixty miles, during which nothing of the country on either side of the river was to be seen, I found myself in twelve hours in a quiet pleasant room in the St George's Hotel at Quebec.
In leaving Montreal, it was a matter of much regret to me that I had been obliged to forego the pleasure of making a tour up the Ottowa-a river which is inferior in size only to the St Lawrence, which runs through a country interesting in very many respects, and is the natural outlet for the drainage of an area of eighty thousand square miles. The vast region to which this river and its branches afford the means of internal navigation, and of communication with external markets, is already extensively settled. It has also a rapidly increasing commercial capital of 12,000 inhabitants at Bytown, where the Rideau Canal-150 miles in length-leaves the Ottowa for Kingston, on Lake Ontario. When the first period of settlement has passed over, during which the lumber-trade occupies the sole attention of nearly all the settlers, and the population shall have become
MIXTURE OF RACES AND
mainly agricultural, this district will assume a permanent importance, in reference to Canadian strength and resources, which will every year rise in public estima
I have alluded but very slightly to the political differences and excitement of which Montreal was still, to some degree, the scene at the period of my visit. I had as yet enjoyed too few opportunities of acquiring a knowledge of existing local and provincial circumstances, feelings, and prejudices, and of their antecedents, to enable me to form a satisfactory opinion as to the right and the wrong of all that had been done.
In judging of public events that fall out in a place like Montreal, however, much allowance ought to be made for the peculiarly heterogeneous character of the population, and the frequent opposition of their interests. Thus the population of 50,000, which the city is said to contain, consists approximately of
Out of these different nationalities arise, as separate and opposing parties—
1. Those of British, or Anglo-Saxon, against those of French blood.
2. The Canadians, born of British blood-the United Empire Loyalists, &c.—against the home-born, or native British. The seat of these parties is properly in Upper Canada; but Montreal contains a large section belonging to each.
3. Among the French-the party of Papineau, opposed to British connection, against that of Lafontaine, which at present is in favour of such connection.