« PředchozíPokračovat »
RESERVED RENT OF LAND.
Potatoes were almost the only crop I saw now remaining in the fields. On his knees, working with a diminutive hoe, I found a French Canadian digging, from what appeared a good soil, a scanty crop of small-sized potatoes. The man seemed satisfied, and considered the crop good—perhaps it was, in comparison with those of the past years of failure. Their size reminded me of the graphic if not elegant terms in which a New Brunswick farmer, on his return from Maine, described the potato-crop of that State to a friend of mine, in the autumn of 1849: "Why, sir, the potatoes in Maine-I could put fourteen of them into your mouth, and sixteen into that of any other man. I could, by thunder!-I have said it!"
The owner takes a again lets it for Farther inland,
The peasantry obtain land from the farmers and proprietors for their potato-crop-as is still the case in many rural districts among ourselves-free from rent, on condition of manuring and cleaning it. crop of grain the following year, and potatoes on the same terms, if he can. my informant said the land was let to tenants at so high a rate that they were much kept down by it. On further inquiry, he stated the rent to be a piastre the arpent*—which meant a dollar for an arpent in front, and perhaps thirty backwards—which is about twopence an acre. What can be the condition of an agricultural people, who, paying scarcely any taxes, feel themselves weighed down by a rent of twopence an acre?
I was here in the county of Dorchester, and though it was situated directly opposite to Quebec, there had not come into the county a single new settler during the year 1848. The value of cleared land varies from £1 to £10 currency. There are two reasons for the custom, prevalent in all Lower Canada, of running the farms back from the roads, with a narrow frontage. Society is
*Six arpents make about five imperial acres.
ITS VALUE IN DIFFERENT COUNTIES.
obtained, so necessary to the French, and many neighbours close at hand, by living in one long street. Many farms can also be laid out, with little expense in roadmaking. Behind the first row of farms along the road, a second row is surveyed; and beyond these a second road, and a third row of farms. These are spoken of as the second and third Concessions. They are farther from churches, markets, mills, &c., than the first Concession, and are therefore less esteemed. In this county, at present, the seigneurs grant the uncleared back-lands for an annual charge of 15s. to 30s. currency for the farm of 90 arpents-3 in front, and 30 deep-or 2d. to 4d. an acre. This is considerably greater than it used to be, as in this county the value of uncleared land has risen much during the last ten years.
Immediately above this county, along the St Lawrence, is that of Lotbinière. Here cleared land sells for 50s. an acre, and uncleared land has not increased in value for ten years. Immediately below, again, is the county of Bellechasse, in which also there are no new settlers. Cleared farms, well situated, will sell for £400 to £600; but the general value of land during the last ten years has fallen 10 or 12 per cent.
Inland again, beyond and behind Dorchester, is the county of Megantic, which is described as very flourishing. There are no immigrants; but the population is rapidly augmenting by natural increase. It is a purely French Canadian district. The average value of cleared land is about 6s. 3d. an acre, though some sells as high as 20s. It produces sheep, cattle, and butter for the Quebec market. It will be recollected that the price of cleared land is not that of the fee-simple, the rents and rights of the seigneur being always reserved. Probably, this form of holding is one of the causes by which immigrants are deterred from penetrating into these Lower Canadian counties.
ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIES,
Sept. 29.-Among other places, I this morning visited the Quebec Seminary, a Roman Catholic institution, founded nearly two hundred years ago, which accommodates and instructs 180 boarders, and 120 dayscholars―a number about equal to those taught in the seminary at Montreal. The boarders pay £17, 10s. currency per annum, and the day-scholars 20s. I was much interested in the Professor of Natural History and Chemistry, Mr Horan, who had visited and studied at the universities of Cambridge in Massachusetts, and Yale in Connecticut, with the view of obtaining instruction which was beyond his reach in Canada. I found him and others fully alive to the importance of an improved agriculture in Lower Canada, and anxious to aid in introducing instruction in its principles into the elementary schools of the lower province.
I was never so much struck as upon this visit, and by my conversations with Mr Horan, with the meritorious and self-denying spirit of the teachers in some, at least, of these Roman Catholic seminaries. This institution has a small endowment, but is not rich like that of Montreal, and barely makes ends meet. The professors, without any prospect of ever rising to any position beyond the walls of the seminary, devote their lives to the duty of teaching without remuneration. They are lodged, fed, and clothed, and at vacation-time, if they choose to visit anywhere, they are allowed twenty dollars for expenses. Thus they live and labour from year to year, with scarcely any society beyond the walls of the institution, shut out from the cordial of human sympathy, and centring their affections on a brighter future. I do not praise the system, regard it as natural, or consider it the way in which talent may be best employed for the benefit of our fellow-creatures; but for the self-denying spirit of the devoted clerical teachers, I could not help feeling a sort of reverence. There were men of fine
AND THEIR CLERICAL TEACHERS.
minds, fresh affections, and warm feelings, capable of attaining worldly distinction in their several walks, of enjoying the intercourse of social life, of being happy in the exercise of domestic affections-laying down all worldly hopes and prospects, and sacrificing themselves to the duty of instruction. While I pitied, I could not but respect the men-feel there was something in them higher and nobler than had moved myself in my struggles through life; and while I almost felt indignant at the inhumanity of a system which could exact it, my heart warmed the more towards my friend Horan, who had been able voluntarily to sacrifice himself to it.
I know there are many mindless and heartless beings, male and female, to whom such a devotion would prove no sacrifice. I do not allude to such persons, nor to the dry and unfeeling mummies into which the lapse of long years of routine may convert even those who at first made a true and priceful sacrifice. But I saw before me men bright with intelligence, and with a capacity for appreciating enjoyment still unseared; and I could not but honour them for their self-sacrifice, because I knew them to be still human enough to feel that it was great.
In the afternoon, I drove nine miles down the left bank of the St Lawrence, to visit the Falls of Montmorenci. Though the quantity of water which descends is insignificant after Niagara, and smaller even than at the Grand Falls on the St John River, yet it descends from a height of nearly 250 feet, and the place is well deserving of a visit. The edges of the highly-inclined slate rocks are overlaid by nearly horizontal beds of impure thin limestones, which are cut through by the river, and eaten back for several hundred yards from the St Lawrence, till a hard metamorphic gneissoid rock has arrested the cutting process. Over this the water at present falls. Upon the horizontal beds is a deposit of 10 to 30 feet of drift; and upon this, adjoining the St Lawrence, at a level
FALLS OF MONTMORENCI.
somewhat lower than the top of the Falls, a deposit of 1 to 6 feet of yellow marine sand, mixed with recent shells. A mile above the Falls, on the same river, occur what are called the "natural steps," where the horizontal beds of comparatively soft rock are cut by the water into deep ravines or gullies of a very romantic character, and in many places form series of natural steps, from which the place derives its name.
The most peculiar circumstance in connection with the Falls of Montmorenci is the appearance presented on the channel of the river a short distance below the cascade, when winter sets in. When the stream below becomes covered with ice, the falling spray descends and collects upon its surface in showers of snow, which cohere and harden, and gradually accumulate into a lofty cone of ice-having the living cataract behind, and the broad, still, frozen plain of the St Lawrence in front.
This conical hill forms a natural "Montagne Russe," much frequented by the young people of Quebec, being a convenient distance for sleighing parties even in the shortest days of winter.
In the immediate neighbourhood of Quebec, land sells high. For a little farm of 70 acres, on which his house stands, immediately above Wolffe's Cove, Mr John Gilmour told me he had paid at the rate of £75 currency an acre. Near all thriving towns, in the New World as in the Old, land, even for farming purposes, brings a comparatively high price. Near this city the land is very good in many cases, and generally produces excellent green crops. In both Canadas, as now in Ireland, such crops are becoming more cultivated since the potato became less certain. Mr Sheppard, the well-known seedsman in Montreal, informed me he had this season sold twice as much turnip-seed in Lower Canada, and twenty times as much as usual in Upper Canada. Of mangold-wurzel seed, four times as much as usual had