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University of California.
CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
A GLIMPSE OF THE ENORMOUS RESOURCES OF PART OF THE
UNEXPLORED REGIONS OF THE DOMINION
HEARD BEFORE A SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE SENATE OF
CANADA DURING THE PARLIAMENTARY SESSION OF
1906-7, AND THE REPORT BASED THEREON
Captain EJrneHt J, Cliam'bei's
GenUtman Uther of the Black Rod
Published under direction of R, E. Young, DJj,8., 8upL Railway Lands
Hon. Frank Oliver, Minister
O T T AWA
GOVERNMENT PRINTING BUREAU
Report of the Select Committee of the Senate of Canada 5
The Evidence 9
The Territory of Ungava 9
Evidence of A. P. Low 9
Evidence of Hon. W. C. Edwards 20
The Eegion West of Hudson Bay —
Evidence of A. P. Low 23
Evidence of R. E. Young 27
Evidence of P. G. Durnford 30
Evidence of A. von Hamerstein 36
Evidence of Elihu Stewart 44
Evidence of R. G. McConnell 52
Evidence of D. B. Dowling 57
Evidence of O. O'Sullivan. . . : 62
Evidence of Wm. Mclnhnes 66
Evidence of H. A. Conroy 72
Evidence of R. S. Cook 80
Evidence of Ven. Archdeacon McKay 84
Evidence of J. B. Tyrrell 88
Evidence of W. F. Bredin 95
Evidence of Fred. S. Lawrence 101
Evidence of J. K. Cornwall 108
The Navigability of Hudson Bay —
Evidence of A. P. Low Ill
Evidence of J. B. Tyrrell 114
Evidence of Dr. Robert Bell. 117
Evidence of Commander Wakeham 126
The Climate of Northern Canada —
Evidence of R. F. Stupart 131
(Illustrations at end of volume.)
After a few more years inflow of immigration at the present rate, Canada's future
expansion as an agricultural, lumbering, mining and industrial country will depend
upon the exploitation of the natural resources of the Ddminion's vast, unexplored
Within this designation may be classed the northern portions of the provinces of
Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, the Yukon Territory
and those vast regions known as the Northwest Territories.
This volume does not deal with the undeveloped natural wealth of the whole of
Canada's unexploited northland, however, but only with that of those parts of the new
provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta which lie north of the Saskatchewan water-
shed ; of Ungava, which lies north of the province of Quebec ; of Keewatin, which lies
north of the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba; and of Mackenzie, which lies north
of the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and east of the Yukon Territory.
This represents an area fairly stupendous in its extent.
The area of those portions of Alberta and Saskatchewan lying north of the Sas-
katchewan watershed may be set down at 260,000 square miles. Ungava has a total
area of 354,961 square miles; Keewatin, 470,416; Mackenzie, 662,182; total, 1,637,669
square miles. This is by more than 300,000 square miles twice the combined area of
the four original provinces of confederation, namely, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia
and New Brunswick. It is exactly 272,673 square miles greater than the combined
area of the seven older provinces and of those portions of the two new provinces of
Saskatchewan and Alberta, which lie south of the Saskatchewan watershed.
~ The great northland appears; at last, to be on the eve of exploitation.
The trend of settlement in Canada, and also in the United States, has been west-
ward, following the construction of railways. As the land in the railway belts (the
more southern part of western Canada) is being rapidly filled up, as the older rail-
way lines throw out their feeders northward, and as the location and construction of
the new National Transcontinental railway proceeds, attention is being rapidly
attracted to the great northern reserves.
Mr. K. E. Young, of the Department of Interior, in 1906, prepared a state-
ment showing that the enormous inflow of immigrants and settlers would in a reason-
able time exhaust the available lands for free homesteads in the present settled
portions of the western provinces, and calling attention to the possibilities of the
practically unexplored hinterland of Canada.
Mr. Young also had a map of the northern portion of Canada prepared which
contained all available information from any source regarding the possibilities and
resources of the country. As a result of Mr. Young's investigations the matter was
brought to the attention of the Hon. Thos. Davis, Senator from Prince Albert, Sas-
katchewan, who moved for the appointment of a select committee to inquire and
report from time to time as to the resources and value of that part of the Dominion
lying north of the Saskatchewan watershed, east of the Rocky Mountains and west
of Hudson bay, comprising the northern parts of the provinces of Alberta and
Saskatchewan and the Mackenzie territory. On account of the session being some-
2 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
what advanced, the motion was withdrawn at the request of the leader of the House,
who promised that the subject should receive favourable consideration at the
Consequently, on January 24, 1907, the Hon. Mr. Davis again presented his
motion. The honourable gentleman in doing so explained that very little is known of
the country north of the Saskatchewan. Although be had lived in the Saskatchewan
valley 27 years and had travelled a good deal, he was getting new information every
day as to the resources of the northern country.
Senator Davis spoke of the good which had resulted from the investigation into
the resources of the then far northwest by the Schultz committee of the Senate in
1887, but explained that it was possible in 1907 to elicit much more valuable informa-
tion than was available 20 years ago. He explained how the opening up of the Yukon
had led adventurous spirits into the great intervening northland, where they attempted
to locate a route overland from Edmonton into the Yukon. Several of these men
never reached the Yukon, but had lived for five or six years in the country south and
east of that territory, and had discovered wonderful natural resources. The ex-
I)erien<5e of these men was worth obtaining.. Other- evidence, too, he believed, was
available to prove to the world that Mackenzie territory and the hinterland of the two
new provinces possess vast resources in minerals, arable -ttod grazing lands, timber
areas and fisheries.
The Honourable the Secretary of State explained that the government fully con-
curred in Senator Davis' motion and that he personally felt that it was of the highest
importance to give greater publicity to the advantages and resources of northern
The Eight Honourable Sir Richard Cartwright remarked : — ' There is no doubt we
are hardly acquainted in the slightest degree with the enormous resources of the un-
explored regions of this Dominion. We have barely scratched the surface, and yet we
have found such places as the well-known Cobalt camp, the Klondike, and other
sections, where there are enormous resources of which we never dreamed.'
A very interesting debate followed, participated in also by the Hon. Messrs.
Power, Watson, Gibson, G. W. Ross, Ferguson, P.C., Beique, Douglas, Domville and
At the suggestion of the Hon. Messrs. Casgrain and Ferguson, the motion was
amended to bring Ungava and Keewatin within the scope of the proposed investiga-
tion, and, as amended, the motion of Senator Davis was adopted.
The select committee originally consisted of Hon. Messrs. Talbot, Lougheed,
Douglas, DeVeber, Landry, Tessier, Wilson, McMullen, Young, Ferguson, J. H. Ross,
McGregor, Power, Robertson, Watson, Bemier, KirchhofFer, Ellis, Thompson, Perley,
Bostock, Domville, G. W. Ross and the mover. By resolution of the Senate of Feb-
ruary 7, 1907, the names of the following were added to the committee : — ^Honourable
Senators Roy, Legris, McDonald (Cape Breton) and McSweeney.
At the first meeting of the committee the Honourable Senator Davis was elected
chairman, and on February 21, the Senate adopted a report of the select committee
empowering it to send for persons, papers and records.
The hearing of evidence was soon thereafter proceeded with and continued from
day to day during the session. The evidence was taken in shorthand, and in accord-
ance with a resolution moved by the Hon. Senator Power, seconded by the Hon.
Senator Ferguson, was transferred to the undersigned for condensation and revision.
The select committee practically completed its work on March 30, 1907, when, on
motion of the Hon. Mr. Ellis, the Hon. D. Ferguson, P.O., took the chair and the fol-
lowing resolution, moved by the Hon. Mr. Ellis, seconded by the Hon. Mr. Perley, was
carried unanimously: —
* That the thanks of the committee be tendered to the Hon. Mr. Davis for the able,
efficient and impartial manner in which he has managed the meetings and work of tiie
* That this resolution be entered ui)on the printed report.'
In the evidence heard before the select committee of the Senate some striking
facts stand out prominently, among them the following: —
Ungava x>ossesses a belt of iron-bearing rock, probably 100 miles long and 200 to
300 miles wide, and in the future Labrador peninsula will furnish a large supply of
our iron. (Evidence of Mr. A. P. Low.)
In the region north of Lake Winnipeg there is an area of from 6,000 to 10,000
square miles of country adapted to agriculture.
No less an authority than a member of the Alberta legislature, who lived many
years in that country, estimated the area of available agricultural lands in Mackenzie
and northern Alberta at not less than one hundred million acres. (Evidence of
W. F. Breden.)
At a point some 400 miles due north of Edmonton splendid crops of wheat, barley,
oats, peas, &c., have been regularly raised for over 20 years, the product for the
season of 1906 being 25,000 bushels. That the production of grain in these northern,
sparsely settled regions has already resulted in the establishment of local grist mills
of considerable capacity which manufacture flour by modem processes.
Potatoes and other vegetables have been for many years satisfactorily cultivated
at Fort Good Hoi)e, on the Mackenzie river, fourteen miles from the Arctic circle.
The isothermal lines west of Hudson bay trend almost due north instead of east
and west as popularly supposed.
Vegetation matures wonderfully quickly in northern latitudes owing to the very
long days during the, season of growth. C
The accompanying report submitted by the select committee to the Senate, and
adopted by that honourable body, and the evidence as revised and published with the
report show in detail exactly what the committee accomplished.
It might perhaps be explained that in the editing of the evidence care has been
taken, having due regard to brevity, to conciseness, to the avoidance of needless repe-
tition, and to other obvious considerations, to preserve the style, and, as far as
possible, the actual expressions of the witnesses.
The select committee's report, and the evidence, appear in the following pages in
exactly the same form in which they were published in the appendix to the Senate
ERNEST J. CHAMBERS.
Ottawa, October 1, 1907.
REPORT OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE
Committee Koom No. 8,
Tuesday, 16th April, 1907.
The Select Committee appointed to inquire and report from time to time as to the
value of that portion of the Dominion lying north of the Saskatchewan watershed, and
east of the Rocky mountains, comprising the northern parts of the provinces of Al-
berta and Saskatchewan, and the Mackenzie Territory, and the extent of navigable
waters, rivers, lakes and sea-coast contained therein ; and also to similarly inquire and
report from time to time as to the value of the portions of the Dominion west and east
of Hudson bay, including the Territories of Keewatin and Ungava, and the extent of
navigable waters, rivers, lakes and sea-coast contained therein, have the honour to
submit their third report, as follows: —
Your Committee in accordance with the authority delegated to it, sent for per-
sons, papers and records bearing upon the subjects submitted for its consideration, and
examined a number of gentlemen possessing special knowledge, through personal ex-
perience or otherwise, of the regions named as the special subject of inquiry.
It was decided, before proceeding to the hearing of evidence, to, as far as possible,
<3onduct the examination of witnesses according to a modern system, and a schedule
of subjects, in the following order, was decided upon: —
1. Agriculture. •
7. Means of communication.
The inquiry was not entirely confined to these subjects, much important informa-
tion being obtained as to the geographical and physical features of the regions in
question, the game to be found therein, the fur trade, &c. ; but the preceding schedule
served its purpose broadly, as a guide in the conduct of the inquiry.
The shorthand rejwrt of the evidence thus obtained is submitted herewith, and
your Committee has the honour to recommend that after the said report of the evi-
dence has been carefully edited, and to some extent condensed, the evidence being
transposed from the form of questions and answers into that of direct narration, it
6 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
Yout Committee desires to acknowledge the courtesy of all those gentlemen who
have given oral evidence or in any other way assisted in the work of this inquiry.
Your Committee has the honour to very briefly draw attention to some of the
important information regarding the resources of the Dominion's vast reserves of
terrtiory in the northeast and northwest obtained as a result of their investigations.
'TERRrrORY OF UNOAVA.
As to the Territory of Ungava, in the far northeast of the Dominion, the evidence
given before your committee tends to show that although there is some fairly good
soil in the middle of the Labrador peninsula, and although vegetables are successfully
grown at East Main River, Hamilton Inlet and other places, the climate is considered
too cold for successful agriculture. The principal forest areas of the Labrador penin-
sula (and they appear to be extensive and very valuable) are in the province of Quebec,
but in Ungava the forest wealth, apart from large quantities of pulpwood, is confined
almost wholly to the river valleys and the edges of the lakes. There are numerous
magnificent water-powers, while the fisheries both inland and coast, but particularly
the former, are susceptible of extensive development. Attention was particularly drawn
in the evidence to the necessity of providing for the protection of the walrus in
the Hudson bay and strait, as owing to the present wasteful method of conducting the
walrus fishery industry three out of every four walruses killed are lost.
The mineral wealth of Ungava was shown to include lead, copper, mica, asbestos
and iron. Southeast of Ungava bay a belt of iron-bearing rock probably 100 miles
long and 200 to 300 miles wide was described, and the opinion expressed that in the
future Labrador will furnish a large supply of our iron.
The fur-bearing animals of Ungava would appear to constitute a valuable asset
of the Dominion, the evidence taken by your Conmiittee tending to show that the best
skins in the world, including marten, foxes, otters, mink, black bear and white bear,
are obtained in Labrador.
Attention was drawn in the evidence to the deterrent effect upon the development
of the country, particularly in connection with the great forest areas in the vicinity of
Hamilton Inlet, of the uncertainty as to the exact extent of the jurisdiction of the
Colony of Newfoundland from the Atlantic coast inland. Your Committee would
respectfully draw the attention of the members of the government in this House to
As to the vast region west of Hudson bay and James bay, it appears most natural
to consider it in two divisions, one comprising the Territory of Keewatin, immediately
bordering upon the great sheets of ws^ter just named; the second division extending
from the western boundary of Keewatin to the Rocky mountains, and including the
northern portions of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the triangular por-
tion of British Columbia east of the Rocky mountains, and the great northern Terri-
tory of Mackenzie.
REPORT OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE 7
TERRITORY OF KEEWATIN.
The evidence goes to show that there are some considerable sections in the south-
em and western i>ortions of Keewatin that promise to be of agricultural value, the
climate there being fairly good for settlement, and summer frosts rare.
'According to the evidence given before your Committee, there is north of Lake
Winnipeg an area of from 6,000 to 10,000 square miles of country adapted to agricul-
ture. Wheat has been grown successfully as far north as Norway House.
The inland fisheries of Keewatin are exceedingly valuable, while the mineral
deposits are very promising. The Huronian rocks which occur at intervals carry good
indications of minerals — copper, pyrites and different sulphides of that kind. Between
Chesterfield and FuUerton there are deposits of iron pyrites, and some of these contain
small deposits of gold. Those rocks have not been properly prospected, neither has a
large area, near Front Lake, of norite rock, similar to those formations in which the
nickel deposits of Sudbury occur.
THE GREAT MACKENZIE BASIN.
As to the vast region north of the Saskatchewan Valley and west of Keewatin,
which may be broadly described as the Great Mackenzie Basin, thoroughly authentic
and well substantiated evidence shows that that country is very much more valuable
than was at one time supi)osed, and is capable of sustaining a very large and prosper-
ous population. The settlements in this distant region, while, in comparison with its
vast area, insignificant in number and extent, are important, as demonstrating prac-
tically and unquestionably the great possibilities of this territory as an agricultural
and industrial country, and also as emphasizing the importance of exploring and sur-
veying such areas as are likely to first attract the stream of settlement which is bound
to set in before long.
According to one witness, who has had exceptional opportunities for familiarizing
himself with the country and its resources, there is in the Peace River section of this
country as much good agricultural land fit for settlement, and yet unsettled, as there
is settlect in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to-day.
Mr. W. F. Bredin, member- of the Alberta Legislati^^e Assembly, who resides at
Lesser Slave Lake, and was ejimiined before your Committee, after a careful compu-
tation, estimated the area of agricultural lands available in the unorganized territory
of Mackenzie, and iii northern Alberta, say north of the 55th parallel of latitude, at
not less thon one hundred million acres.
At Fort Providence, latitude 62*30, about 400 miles north of Edmonton, splendid
crops of excellent wheat, barley, oats, peas, and other vegetables are raised, while as
far north as Fort Good Hoi)e, within fourteen miles of the Arctic Circle, or latitude
66*16, and 970 miles further north than the city of Edmonton, cabbages, onions and
other garden vegetables are raised.
The evidence goes to show that the comparative shortness of the summers in the
northern regions is compensated for by the extreme summer heat and the length of the
period of sunshine in the summer.
8 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
The basin of the Athabaska river is declared to include much good soil, but being
of higher altitude than the more northern region, the climate is somewhat pieearious,.
and this particular district is believed to be better suited for ranching than ior grain-
raising. The ranching industry, in a comparatively small way, has already been
The various sections of the Mackenzie Basin possess great forest wealth, the
spruce areas in the north extending to the Arctic Sea.
ANIMAL LIFE AND MINERAL WEALTH.
The rivers and lakes of this region teem with fish of various kinds, and doubtless
the inauguration of an important fishing industry depends upon the provision of a
market by the opening up of communications or the influx of population.
There is an abundance of game, including an uncertain number of herds of equally
uncertain numerical strength, of the wood buffalo. These useful animals, being pro-
tected by law from injury by man, would probably increase in number but for the
depredations of the timber wolves, which are declared by all having any experience of
the matter, to kill ofl the buffalo calves as fast as the animals breed. The witnesses
examined before your Committee, without exception, suggest a considerable increase of
the bounty offered for the destruction of wolves, and your Committee strongly endorses
The mineral wealth of this region is undoubtedly considerable, including deposits
of coal, oil, copper, silver, gold, native salt, sulphur, ochre, sand suitable for glass
making, tar sands, &c., &c. The large area of oil sands, oil gum, or ' asphatum,' as it is
sometimes called, along the Athabaska, promises to be of great commercial value, and
prospectors are now engaged, with costly equipments, exploring that neighbourhood
for oil. It would appear that in view of the uncertainty as to the exact character of
these deposits they demand the attention of the officers of the government for the
purpose of devising regulations for the security and proper exploitation of what
appears to be a valuable national asset.
Although in the north the thermometer in the winter season registers low tempera-
tures, the cold is much more bearable than are far higher temi)eratures in countries
where there is humidity in the atmosphere. There is said to be little or no difference
between the climate at Lesser Slave Lake and that at Edmonton, 250 miles to the
south. The Chinook winds blow as far north as Fort Providence, and for twenty-one
days during last January it was not necessary to wear overcoats there. West of Peaco
River Crossing stockmen require to feed their cattle about seven weeks in the winter.
East of that the snow is deeper, and cattle have to be fed a little longer. At Fort St.
John, on the Peace river, they often sow wheat in March, and invariably in April.
Last year at the same place they began cutting the wheat on the last day of July.
AlthoTigh, on account of the lack of means of communication, and the existence of
considerable areas of unsettled lands in the organized provinces to the south and east,
there is as yet no great influx of immigration, settlers have been going into the Mac-
kenzie Basin country every year, particularly to the Athabaska district, and the few
REPORT OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE 9
widely-scattered and small settlements are steadily, if slowly, increasing, while new
settlements are being gradually established.
As to means of communication with the outside world, those living in this part
of the Dominion look forward hopefully to the extension of railway facilities to give
their products a route of exportation to the markets of the world. And the construc-
tion of railways northwards from the Saskatchewan Valley is being anticipated. The
evidence also shows that the pioneer settlers consider that it would be of vast advantage
to this region if direct rail communication with Hudson bay could be provided and
the practicability of the Hudson bay water route to Europe established. In view of
the importance attached by the people of this far western country to the subject of the
proposed Hudson bay route, your Committee devoted considerable time to its investi-
gation, and heard much very important evidence bearing thereon, details of which
will be found in the evidence submitted' herewith. There is an admiral natural
harbour, susceptible of improvement, at Churchill, at the mouth of the Churchill river.
The evidence taken before your Coinmittee demonstrated forcibly the great extent
and possibilities of the inland waterways of the Mackenzie Basin. There have been a
few steamboats plying successfully for years on the longer stretches of the Mackenzie,
the Peace, the Liard, and the Athabaska rivers, and also on Lake Athabaska and Great
Slave Lake. The striking fact was elicited that by the construction of two tramways
of an aggregat length of about 20 miles, a continuous water and rail route of 3,000
miles of uninterrupted communication, the longest inland water route in the world,
can be provided. The matter might well be made the subject of official examination.
Your Committee has the honour to submit the following conclusions for the
consideration of the government : —
(1) That an effort should be made to settle as early as practicable the disputed
boundary between Canada and Newfoundland on the' eastern coast of Labrador.
(2) That the construction of a railway connecting existing railways with Fort
Churchill, on Hudson bay, would open up a large tract of land well fitted for settle-
ment, ks well as afford an additional outlet for the products of the west, and where
settlements are now being made.
(3) That in order the more thoroughly to determine the resources of the culti-
vable land of this district, and its forest and mineral wealth, exploring parties be ap-
pointed composed of men qualified to report as to the geological formations, the quality
of the soil and its natural productiveness, the extent and value of the timber lands,
and the navigability of the various watercourses which intersect this district.
Your Conmiittee has the honour to draw attention to the fact that it appears that
wheat and other cereals ripen as far north as Fort Providence, latitude 61 '30, some 600
miles north of Edmonton. But, as travel in this region is confined to the main water-
ways, and settlement also clings to the main lakes and rivers, knowledge of the country
10 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
is limited to comparatively narrow strips of territory, and consequently the information
furnished your Committee is incomplete as to the exact extent of the wheat-bearing
belt in the Peace river and Mackenzie river basins. Moreover, it was not clearly
established whether the arable quality of the lands throughout the whole extent of
these two river-basins was uniform, as the evidence, for the reasons given, covered but
a small part of the territory in question.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
THOMAS OSBOKNE DAVIS,
N.B. — The above report was presented to the Senate, Wednesday, April 17, and
adopted Monday, April 22,
Note. — The evidence as published herewith has been condensed to the extent of
eliminating obvious repititions, and the transposition of the shorthand report from the
form of question and answer into that of direct narration. No essential statement of
fact or opinion has been omitted, and, in so far as could be done in rendering in the
second person evidence given in the first, the exact expressions and words of the
witnesses have been used.
In short, the desire has been to present the evidence in as readable and intelligible
a form as possible, and at the same time to preserve the exact and complete statements
of each witness.
To avoid confusion, the evidence has been divided and arranged in three sections,
as follows: —
Section A. — That relating to Ungava Territory.
Section B. — That relating to the region west of Hudson bay, east of the Rocky
mountains and north of the Saskatchewan watershed, including the northern portions
of the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and the Territories of Keewatin and
Section C. — That relating to the navigability of Hudson bay and Hudson strait
as an alternative means of communication with the western regions of Canada.
The evidence of the various witnesses, in the three sections, is given in the order
in which it was heard by the Committee, and in cases where witnesses gave evidence
referring to more than one section, the testimony has been divided, to keep the subjects
as far as possible distinct.
SECTION A.— THE TEEEITOET OF TINOAVA.
EVIDENCE OF A. P. LOW, Esq., B.Ap.Sc, F.K.G.S., DIRECTOR OF THE
GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF CANADA.
Albert Peter Low, B.Ap.Sc, F.R.G.S., &c.. Director of the Geological Survey,
was examined before the Conmaittee February 1, 1907, and submitted a list of the
officials on the staff of the Geological Survey whom he thought would have special
knowledge of the matters under investigation.
Mr. Low was first examined generally as to the area, geographical features and
resources of L^ngava.
The territory of Ungava, the witness explained, is separated from the northern por-
tion of the province of Quebec by a line drawn from the mouth of the East Main river
on James bay eastwardly up the main branch of that river to it^ headquarters in Pata-
misk lake near the 53rd degree of N. lat., and from there by an east and west line which
extends to the u^er waters of the Ashuanipi branch of the Hamilton river, and that
river is then followed to its mouth at the head of Hamilton Lilet. The area of Ungava
12 CANADA'S FERTILE NQRTHLAND
district is about 250,000 square miles, and does not include a strip along the Altantic
coast extending southward from Cape Chidley to Blanc Saolon in the Strait of Belle
Isle, which is under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland.
The land of Ungava is a rolling plateau. This part of the country is from 1,000
feet to 2,500 feet in elevation, except in the northern part, where it is somewhat lower,
probably not more than 500 feet high between Ungava bay and Hudson bay. The
agricultural possibilities are not great. •
THE WOODED AREAS.
The climate is fairly cold even in the summer time, and the tree line extends from
just a few miles north of Richmond Gulf on the Hudson bay side across to the head of
Ungava bay, and crosses the Koksoak river about ten miles from its mouth. There the
trees are only small spruce and tamarack. A fairly high range of hills extends south-
ward from Cape Chidley along the Atlantic coast from 3,000 to 6,000 feet in elevation,
and they are wooded. The tree line south of Ungava bay is regular as far as the
mouth of the George river, and there on account of the high end being reached it bends
to the south and a barren land occurs to the eastward where no trees are found. The
bays on the Atlantic coast are wooded at their heads, and after reaching about latitude
56 '^ the trees begin to extend to the outer shore line. The outer islands are not wooded,
but when Hamilton Inlet is reached, in latitude 64'', the land is fairly well wooded to
the coast line, and in the country around Hamilton Inlet there was also a fairly good
growth of timber in former years, but a great part of it has been destroyed by fire ; so
that the timber now on the Atlantic coast is practically confined to the heads of the
bays. This timber comprises white and black spruce, tamarack and a few white birch,
and while there are still some fairly large trees there, most of them have gone. The
large trees are now to be found in small areas in some of the bays.
Besides Hamilton Inlet there are other areas in northern Quebec, in New-
foundland territory, and at the head of Cartwright bay. In these areas there are
fairly large trees which would measure up to three feet in diameter.
There was excellent spruce there, but the fishermen cut a lot of it for firewood and
destroyed much more by carelessness in starting fires. Towards the head of Hamilton
Inlet there is ome excellent timber suitable for schooner masts. The big trees are
fairly old and there are clumps here and there along the rivers. Up on the table land
there is practically only black spruce and tamarack, and they are small. The good
timber is only to be found in the lower valleys.
As a rule the soil is sandy; it is a boulder drift coming from the Laurentian
rocks, except up in the country in the middle of the peninsula, where there are rocks
of the same age as those round Lake Superior, containing a large quantity of iron.
There the soil is much better, in fact fairly good.
Beyond the northern timber limit, the country is barren or covered with small
shrubs and Arctic plants. Witness had seen crops growing in there. Fairly good
potatoes and vegetables are grown at East Main river, and also at Hamilton Inlet, but
no wheat or barley is grown there now. Witness had no doubt, however, that a short
distance up the East Main river they could grow oats and barley; and probably at the
head of the Hamilton Inlet some wheat, but the country will never be an agricultural
country; it is too cold.
There are no areas which could be called prairie land. The land is rocky, what
might be called a rough country, very much the same as the north shore of Lake
Superior, though not quite so rough.
THE TERRITORY OP UNGAVA 13
The summers are not very long, and the spring is late. There are no crops grown
until well in June, but good vegetables are grown at the Hudson bay post on Hamilton
Inlet, and they have been growing them there for seventy-five years. Mr. Low added
that he did not think there would be much difficulty in growing the more hardy grains
there. In the interior, during summer time, there are rain showers almost every day,
but no heavy rains, except for an occasional thunderstorm. On the coast there is
ordinary summer weather. Fogs are frequent along the coast.
Witness had been over a considerable portion of Ungava. He had gone from Lake
St. John to the East Main river and down it to Hudson bay. Then he went up the
Big river and down the Great Whale river, and also made a trip from Kichmond Gulf
to Fort Chimo, again going up from Lake St. John to Lake Mistassini and across to
the East Main, then up that river to its headquarters, and across to the Keniapiskau
river, and down it to its mouth at Ungava bay. The following year he explored the
Manicoiiagan river to its head.
There was a post at Michikamau, and there is one at Nichicun and another at
Mistassini. There were also posts at other places, but they have been abandoned for
twenty or thirty years.
The principal forest areas of Labrador peninsula are in the province of Quebec.
Of course going north the trees get smaller and more ragged, and they have branches
almost down to the ground. In this upper land they grow in open glades, and the
trunks are not clear and clean, and consequently do not make good logs. Some of the
timber would do for pulp very well, but in the Ungava Territory the trees are con-
fined almost wholly to the river valleys and the edges of the lakes, and there is a large
area of the country that is barren ground.
The northern limit of the timber line extends from the mouth of the Nastapoka
river to the mouth of the Koksoak river on Ungava bay. To the south of that there
is a lot of country that is not timbered at all except in the river valleys and around
the lakes, the upper lands being barren. These barren lands practically extend down
to the boundary of Quebec, so that in Ungava itself, inside the tree limit, witness did
think half the country was covered with timber, but he is not aware that any approxi-
mate estimate has ever been made by the government as to this.
COMMEROUL VALUE OF THE TIMBER.
The only timber of commercial value that will be found there is on the rivers
flowing into James bay, and perhaps as far north as the Great Whale river. The tim-
ber extends inland from James bay as far as the lakes in the centre of the peninsula
and between one hundred and two hundred miles along James bay. There are rivers
where the timber could be floated, no doubt about that, and it is along the rivers the
timber is found.
To r^ach these forest districts and make them of commercial value, the best way
would be via "Hudson bay and the rivers flowing into it, for the districts on the
bay side. In the rivers flowing north there are practically no timber limits. There
is a fairly large timber industry at Hamilton Inlet, but none inland, and there is some
good sized timber up the Hamilton river. As to what the cut was last year witness
had no idea. The country is fairly well forested up to the foot of Hudson bay, with
spruce, tamarack, white birch, banksian pine and aspen.
James bay is very shallow. There are a great many shoals in it and rocky islands
which make it very bad for navigation. In fact witness did not think the east side
could be navigated with large steamers. The Hudson Bay Company has a schooner
•down on the bay, and the captain says he knows every shoal because he has been on it.
U CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EXCELLENT WATER POWERS.
There are excellent water powers in the rivers. Asked how Grand Falls on Ham-
ilton Inlet would compare with the greatest water powers of Ontario, Mr. Low stated
that the greatest water powers of Ontario are small in comparison. The waterfall at
Grand Falls is a good deal larger than Niagara, having about nine million horse
power, which is not being used at all now, though it might be made use of quite easily
at any time if it is wanted. It is 300 miles practically from the sea, and the only pur-
pose for which it might be utilized is in connection with the development of the iron
ores, and of course that is a question for the future to decide. There is a great supply
of iron in that country which will probably be valuable in the next twenty-five years.
THE INLAND AND COASTWISE FISHERIES.
The fisheries throughout the territory are excellent. The large lakes and streams
are all well supplied with fish. Large lake trout, similar to those found in Lake
Superior, and whitefish are very abundant in most of the lakes, as also are brook trout
in the rivers and smaller streams.
Lake trout have been caught weighing as much as fifty or sixty pounds, but the
average fish is about three feet long and weighs about eight pounds. Whitefish are
found in all these lakes, and also the pickerel and the sucker, so that the waters are
fairly well supplied with fish. When Mr. Low was on the Hamilton river, he and his
party lived for about three months on the fish caught from day to day, and they were
never short of food. By setting a net at night they had a good supply of fish for the
day. The fish caught were lake trout, brook trout, whitefish and some small land-
The coast fisheries belon gto Newfoundland up to Cape Chidley, but in Ungava
l)ay there are some codfish and the sea run salmon are very good. The George river
produces quite a number, also the Whale, Koksoak and Payne rivers, the latter being
in Mr. Low's opinion about the limit for salmon going west, though the Esquimaux
catch plenty of them in this river during the summer when they last for about six
Questioned as to what commercial fishing is done in the interior of Ungava and
also along the coast, Mr. Low stated that the Hudson bay people catch salmon in the
George, Whale and Koksoak rivers, and there is also fishing done along the southern
coast of Ungava bay.
Mr. Low explained that he does not think codfish migrate in and out of Hudson
bay. They are found in Ungava bay, and Mr. Low has taken them on the east coast
of Hudson bay, and while they are not large or plentiful so far as is yet known, it
seems probable that a fair supply will be found in Hudson bay.
THE WALRUS FISHERIES.
Walrus are taken in the northern part of Hudson bay. They extend down as far
as Belcher Islands on the east side of the bay. They are hunted mostly by the
Scottish whalers, who both spear and shoot them. The Americans do not hunt them
much. There is a Scottish steamer that goes through Hudson strait every year and
engages in the walrus fishery.
Mr. Low did not think the government had done anything as yet in the way
of protecting any of these fisheries, but, in his opinion, as at the present time it is
only the natives who catch for their own use, protection is not required very much,
but as soon as general navigation opens in Hudson bay it will be necessary. The
walrus fisheries, however, should be protected at once, because for one walrus taken
there are about three killed. Probably four or five hundred walrus are actually
THE TERRITORY OF UNGAVA 15
obtained during the season in Hudson bay and strait, which would mean a slaughter
of perhaps twelve or thirteen hundred, two-thirds of which are lost.
The walrus is not a valuable animal, but yields a certain amount of blubber which
is made into oil, and the skin is only worth from four cents to twelve cents a pound.
Mr. Low did not know what the value of the blubber is or what is considered the
average value of a walrus.
The Scottish whalers go in there chiefly for walrus, and sometimes they have
taken out from 500 to perhaps 2,000 skins and carcases.
At present the Scottish firm have a ship that goes into the bay which is used
in hunting both whales and walrus, they also have two slopes up there, so that these
three vessels are engaged in the business, and usually there are one or two Ameiieacn
schooners also — perhaps half a dozen vessels in all. The Hudson Bay Company's
vessels do not fish there.
SEAL FISHERIES OF HUDSON BAY AND STRAIT.
In Hudson bay and Hudson strait there are several species of seals, but not the
fiAT seals, only the hair seals that are found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and along
the coast. These animals are not as plentiful as they are off the coast of Newfound-
land in the spring, but there are a fair number in Hudson bay and along the coast.
There are four or five species coming into Hudson strait and passing in and out of
the bay, but the harp seal comes in and it is found in Hudson bay. The hooded
seal also comes part way into Hudson strait, it is the Greenland seal which comes
south and whose young are killed in large numbers off the coast of Newfoundland
These seal belong to the Atlantic and Mr. Low did not know whether they went
into the strait just for a tour or some such reason, but it appeared as if they were
just travelling about on their trip to the north. There is no breeding ground there;
as these seals breed on the ice, not on land like the fur seals, none of which are found
there. The native seal of Hudson bay are the small bay seal, the big seal, and the
harbour seal, all breeding there.
The marten is the chief fur of Labrador, and there are also foxes, otters, mink,
black bears, and, further north, white bears. The best skins in the world are obtained
in Labrador. These animals are trapped by the Indians and the Esquimaux, but
there are no white trappers. The pelts are sold to the Hudson Bay Company, and the
Revillon Bros., who are also in tnere and who buy direct from the native trappers.
The principal fur-bearing animal in Hudson bay or strait is the white bear or
the Polar bear, which is fairly numerous, and of which from 60 to 100 skins are
obtained each year.
There are reindeer or barren-ground caribou in Ungava, and the woodland caribou.
No buffalo. The beaver goes north almost to the tree limit. They are found in
Richmond gulf. As regards feathered game, there are partridges, geese and duchs.
The latter are not numerous in Labrador. The food is not good, there being no
wild rice about the lakes. The grey goose breeds along the rivers in summer time.
MINERAL WEALTH OF UNGAVA.
In regard to the mineral wealth of Ungava a large area of iron-bearing rock
extends from somewhere in the vicinity of the Hamilton river northward to Ungava
16 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
bay, practically in a straight line. It is probably about 100 miles above the Hamilton
river falls. This belt of iron-bearing rock is probably 100 miles long and 200 or 300
miles wide, southeast of Ungava bay.
In addition, there are patches of these iron ores on the west side of Ungava bay
and on the Stillwater river, the western branch of the main Koksoak. We find them
also on the Koksoak river, extending about 100 miles, and on Michikamau lake. Mrs.
Hubbard's party found them below this lake, on the George river, so that there is a
large area of iron-bearing rock there. The ore is a mixture of magnetite and hematite,
resembling the iron ores on Lake Superior. There is no doubt that in the future,
Labrador will furnish a large supply of our iron. It would have come out by rail,
being inaccessible by water, away up on the table land above the Hamilton river falls.
As a mle these ores are not of very high grade, they run thirty or forty per cent.
Asked if these ores were not as good as the Nova Scotia ores being taken to
Sydney, and carrying a percentage of 54 or 55 per cent, Mr. Low said the percentage
would be something like that. Some of the Labrador ores run as high as 60 per cent,
* and they are the largest iron-bearing beds we have.*
IBON DEPOSITS VALUABLE.
The iron-bearing sands along the lower St. Lawrence could not compare with the
Labrador ores, as it had been imi>ossible to separate the sand and iron of the St.
Mr. Low said he placed a high estimate on the future commercial value of the
Labrador iron ores. There is no doubt they are going to be of considerable importance
in the future. The greatest difficulty in making them conmiercially valuable is the
problem of transportation. But there are several millions of horse-power in the Grand
falls of the Hamilton river, and in addition to mechanical horse-power it would also
furnish the heat whereby by an electrical process, the reduction by electricity might
be performed. Transportation might also be provided by electric power.
There is neither coal, coal oil or natural gas in Ungava.
On the east coast of Hudson bay, near Richmond gulf, there are lead ores in the
ancient rock. The galena does not carry very much silver. There is more iron in
this vicinity also.
There are patches of copper in Labrador, but none of those found so far are very
extensive in size, and would hardly pay. On the East Main river there is found a
conglomerate very similar to that around Cobalt, but up to date there has not been
much silver found in it. Nickel has not been found yet — the rocks are fairly promis-
ing, however, for nickel deposits. As regards gold, there is not much indication of it
so far. That is a thing that may be found anywhere. It muBt be borne in mind that
the Geological Survey has only explored some three or four hundred miles of the
surface of the country.
Hon. Mr. Ferguson. — * There has been some private exploration for gold on the
Labrador coast from the maritime provinces. There are some lines that are opened up
at Rammah, on the Atlantic coast, by the people of JTova Scotia, mining iron pyrites
for the cold content. I do not know if results were successful.'
Hon. Mr. Casgbain. — * Some United Stfites syndicates have been exploring in the
northern part of Ungava for the past two years.'
Mr. Low. — ' There have been exploring parties there, but they went more for the
trip than anything else. I do not think they are after minerals.'
The witness proceeded to explain that there is mica in Ungava, and traces of
asbestus have been found at Chibougamau.
There is a mica mine being worked on the northern shore of Hudson strait.
It is the only mica mine being worked up there, and the working is done under the
regulations of the Department of the Interior.
THE TEBEITORY OF UNGAVA 17
The climate of Ungava varies considerably. The summer season be^ns some
time in June and ends about November 1. The summer is not bad, but it is a very
long and cold winter though the snowfall is not heavy. The minimum temx>erature
runs down to sixty degrees below, occasionally.
Of course a distinction must be made between the northern and southern regions,
for they must be 600 miles apart.
In the central southern region the minimum goes down to 50 and 60 and the
summer temperature rises sometimes to about 80. The northern regions are generally
colder. There is frost every month in the year in both the northern and the southern
parts of the territory. Mr. Low could furnish temperature statistics for certain
years, he said, but not for every year.
The temperature on the east side of James bay near the Quebec boundary is
fairly high in summer. Of course, the cold water of Hudson and James bays keeps
the temx>erature low on the coast, but a few miles inland it rises to 80 and 90.
Honourable Mr. Ferguson drew attention to the fact that Dr. Robert Bell and
Mr. O'Sullivan had both spoken of the wonderfully warm temperature of the water
about the head of James bay. Tbey gave the date September 26.
Mr. Low replied tiiat he had been in the water but never found it warm. In
the southern bays, like Rupert and Hannah bays, the tides run out several miles
and that leaves a wide margin between high and low water. That would be mainly
river water, but fairly brackish. If you go out some distance it is not so warm.
Swimming on the surface is not particularly cold, but if you dive down it is very
Asked about settlements in Ungava, Mr. Low explained that there are very
few settlers in Ungava. Of course, the Indians travelled about the interior, south
of the tree line, namely, tribes of Montagnais, Nascaupics, and Crees. The Eskimo
are not very numerous, probably not more than 1,500, and of these about 1,000 are
under the Moravian missionaries on the Atlantic coast. The remaining Eskimos
are also christianized, those in Hudson bay being under the charge of the Church
Missikmary Society of London.
It is an exceedingly rare occurrence for the Indians and Eskimos to intermarry.
There are about the same number of Indians as of Eskimos in the territory, not
■Jhe only white people in Ungava are those engaged in the Hudson Bay Com-
pany's service or by Revillon Freres, a similar trading company. The Hudson Bay
Company have posts at Rigolet, Davis Inlet, the Northwest river, and another on
the Atlantic coast. In Ungava bay there are posts on George river. Whale river
and at Fort Chimo. Then there is a long stretch of coast without posts until Little
Whale river is reached on Hudson bay. The succeeding posts are at Great Whale
river, Fort George and East Main, and there is a post in the interior at Nichicun
at the head of the Big river which comes in at Fort George. Revillon Freres have
a post at the mouth of Big river, and another at Northwest river, opposite the Hudson
Bay Company's post.
MEANS OF CX>MMUNJCATION.
At present the only means of comjnutiication is by canoe following the water-
ways. The Hudson Bay Company u^ large bark or canvas-covered canoes. It
would be impossible to get anything vftluable or weighty out from the interior of
the country at present. Of course the Hudson Bay Company take in supplies and
18 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
take out furs every year by water. They follow the branches of the East Main
river down for about 100 miles, then cross to the Rupert river, and follow it to its
mouth at Rupert House.
The Hudson Bay Company have a central warehouse at Charlton Island, where
their ship unloads supplies. The Discovery , of some 500 tons, and drawing probably
16 or 18 feet, performed this service.
On the east coast of James bay there are fairly good iwrts round the mouth of
Big river, but very few on the southern part. In th^ vicinity of the Paint Hills some
useful harbours might be found.
To make navigation successful in the vicinity of Moose Factory a good deal of
dredging and improvement would be required to keep it open. The shores are not
abrupt, as a rule, either on James or Hudson bay. There are ports but no harbours^
Mr. Low thinks, on the east side of James bay that would accommodate large ocean
steamers without a great deal of previous preparation.
Mr. Low, in reply to a question by the Honourable Mr. Power, said that he had
been to the mouth of the Xottaway river. It is a large river running through a great
part of the province of Quebec. Witness doubted if there is a good harbour at its
mouth — there is a three-fathom channel, but after the entry into Rupert bay the
channel is not well marked by buoys, and it will soon be all ground. Witness had
been aground there several times, with fairly small boats. ' The coast is low. There is
a bold, high region of coast north of Cape Jones, after that it gets low again almost
continuously to Hudson strait.
What witness said about Ungava applied also, he explained, to the portions of
Quebec adjoining Ungava. It is imi)ossible to make a distinction.
If he were going to open up that country for commerce and development he would
suggest a route by rail connected with the present railway system, by Lake St. John.
The distance from Lake St. John to Ungava is about 300 miles. He would start from
Roberval, and there is already a charter for a railway that way. So far there is no-
railway north of Lake St. John pointing to Ungava.
THE COUNTRY ROUND JAMES BAY.
The Honourable Mr. Power asked Mr. Low whether the portions of Quebec and
Ontario which slope towards James bay are of any value for commercial purposes.
Mr. Low replied that he thought they would be in the future. The land is very good,
and limestone extends round there, and goes up the Moose river about 150 miles. You
have to go up that far before you get into the archaic rocks. The old rocks and the
limestones are found in the bed of the river for about 60 miles up, and the overlying
drift would ipake excellent soil, sand and clay. The climate is not too bad. A lime-
stone country is usually a good country, and of course there were heavy deposits of
clay with lighter deposits of sand, forming the surface of the soil in that country. It
is deposited from wash in the sea. His observation with respect to that did not apply
to the whole of the country which slopes into James bay. L'nfortunately the east side
for a large area is not very good. There is no limestone on that side, and the country
slopes up fairly rapidly, and the soil as a rule is quite sandy.
On the Quebec shore of the bay the limestone has never been found in place.
There have been found broken pieces of it, so that probably underneath the deposits-
of drift there are some beds of limestone, but it is of no great width. It is probably
not wide, and in many places it is not there at all, because we have these old granites
and archaic rocks immediately coming above the surface.
The soil on that portion of the Donainion which fronts on James bay is rather
better in Ontcrio than it is in Quebec, but there is no doubt that much of the country
around the south end of James bay will be good. Witness had not computed its
THE TERRITORY OF UNGAVA 19
The little district in the province of Quebec between the mouth of the Notta-
way river and the Ontario boundary is fairly fertile. It extends around to about
the mouth of the Rupert river, * and on the Rupert river it extends in, probably 40
or 50 miles, and then it gradually goes out towards the coast, so that at the north
of the Big river it is practically cut out altogether. It narrows from the southern
part towards the Big river and practically ends there.
THE LABRADOR LINE.
Questioned as to the boundary line between Ungava and the strip of Labrador
over which Newfoundland exercises jurisdiction, Mr. Low said he understood it is
not defined. This part of the peninsula of Labrador is a strip along the coast, and a
lawsuit is now pending as to the extent of Newfoundland's jurisdiction. Newfound-
land give timber licenses and the Quebec government is contesting the right.
N.B. — Mr. Low was also examined with regard to the region north of the
Saskatchewan watershed, and also on the question of the navigability of Hudson bay.
CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF THE HONOUKABLE WILLIAM CAMERON EDWARDS,
MEMBER OF THE SENATE, LUMBER MERCHANT AND MANU-
The Honourable W. C. Edwards explained that his firm had for several seasons
had jeliable and skilled men exploring Ungava for timber limits, and he was per-
fectly well informed of the resources of most of the territory in the way of timber.
He had never been there himself, but his five explorers were men of the highest
character and great exx)erience, and their statements could be accepted as being
correct. His firm had three exploring parties for three consecutive winters in
Labrador and Ungava. The first expedition there resulted in nothing, because of the
very unfavourable regulations that existed in the Newfoundland territory with regard
to their timber concessions, and also from the fact that the Newfoundland people
were dealing with territory which, in the opinion of Senator Edwards, was not their
own, but belonged to Quebec.
Senator Edwards' firm had explored right down the Albany river and to Hudson
bay. Almost all the Quebec portion from Abitibi eastwards its parties had explored.
They had, moreover, not only explored all the Hamilton Inlet district, but all the
rivers from the mouth of the St. Lawrence up to the head of the Island of Anticosti.
Under this head Senator Edwards did not do much more than briefly corroborate
what Mr. Low had said. He remarked that on account of the limitations of agri-
culture, small companies could not operate in the Hamilton Inlet district, simply
because the country is valueless. True you can grow something in there. True for
a few months in the year vegetation is rapid, but you cannot commercially grow
anything there. The same applies to the north shore of the St. Lawrence from the
Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Island of Anticosti.
Back some distance from the Labrador coast and in the immediate valleys of all
the streams in that district the timber is large; also in the district around Hamilton
Inlet, around Melville bay, up the Hamilton river in the valleys of all the rivers
running into Hamilton Inlet, and al«o in the valleys of the rivers extending from
Chateau bay to the head of the Island of Anticosti.
The timber within these areas is large and good, but the strips do not extend
back from the streams for any distance. From half a mile to a mile on each side
of the streams would be the extreme.
As to the timber on the mountains about Hamilton Inlet, Senator Edwards was
disposed to think Mr. Low had rather underestimated its quality. On these moun-
tains there is a vast quantity of perfect timber. The objection to it for Senator
Edwards' purpose was that it is scrubby. That is the only objection, but the time
will come, if that timber is preserved, when it will be very valuable. Senator
Edwards remarked that he was one of those who hold that the province of Quebec in
this Hamilton river country has one of the best timber districts on the North American
continent if only preserved, but burning is going on to a tremendous extent, the
work of the few settlers that are there. Valuable areas of timber are being burned
THE TERRITORY OF UNGAVA 21
up. Settlers simply light fires in the summer time to dry the timber for their winter
use. These fires extend over vast areas, and enormous portions of the country have
been burned. The senator explained that he had taken five hundred miles of limits
there, and allowed them to expiire, simply because of the regulations.
On the mountains around Hamilton Inlet there is an enormous quantity of pulp-
wood. Mr. Edwards said he did not know any place where there is a greater area
of pulpwood than there is on the Hamilton Inlet, around Melville bay and for a
certain distance into the interior. On the immediate coast of the Atlantic, from
Hamilton Inlet to the St. Lawrence, there is no timber.
As to the character of the timber around Hamilton Inlet and the streams run-
ning into it, it is disputed whether the first ship's masts cut on the North American
continent were cut there or at some point in Nova Scotia.
His information was that there was no timber in Ungava north of Hamilton
Hon. Mr. Casgrain put the following question : — ' Is it not a fact that up in that
country it is impossible to conduct lumber operations and make them a financial
success? You could not grow anything. You have to take your hay and oats for
your horses, and your labour, and you have to house your labour and build up all
your roads. In fact, you have to take a church in there for your labouring men, and
won't that eat up the profits ? '
Senator Edwards replied : — ' Not at all. If large areas were handed over to a
concern, or various concerns, which would administer the district proi)erly, it would
pay. That is exactly what I offered to do. You give me a large enough district and
I will give you an enterprise. A large concern could overcome the difficulties, but
no small enterprise could go in there and exist'
Senator Edwards went on to explain that some of the lumbermen oi)erating there
are getting labour from Norway.
Senator Edwards described the Grand Falls at Hamilton Inlet as 'one of the
best water-powers in the known world.' It has an enormous head ; he did not know
exactly what. It has a very large and a never failing water supply, and from the
fact that vessels can get right in there, and that there is this large area of pulpwood
country in there, there is no district more valuable in the Dominion of Canada than
that region; but, its timber resources are being unfortunately destroyed by the bush
fires set by the sparse settlement of fishermen.
Senator Edwards explained that these poor fishermen eke out but a miserable
existence. They are practically starving to death.
There are several Hudson Bay Company posts in that region, who subsist on the
fur trade with the natives.
The Newfoundland government claim jurisdiction completely round Hamilton
Inlet, and over a much wider strip than usually marked on the maps. In fact the
island colony exacts duties there, and even up the Hamilton river. A Mr. Benjamin
is lumbering on Melville bay, clearly in the territory of the province of Quebec, but
he is operating under regulations of the government of Newfoundland.
MEANS OF CX>MMUNIOATION.
As to the means of conmiuni cation with the eastern part of" Ungava Territory,
Senator Edwards explained that explorers going there go up the Hamilton Inlet ; and
22 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
the largest ocean vessels can go up Hamilton Inlet and unload right off the banks;
8o that in that respect this valuable producing country would be perhaps better served
in that respect than any other i)ortion of the country.
It is i)ossible for shipping to get into Hamilton Inlet for quite a long period
each year. One of the advantages of the territory is its nearness to the British
market, it being only a ferry across the Atlantic.
Senator Edwards remarked that the information he had given the committee
had cost him about $30,000 to learn.
SECTION B.— THE KESOTTECES OF THE EEGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY,
EAST OF THE EOCKY MOmSTTAINS, AND NOETH OF THE SASKATCH-
EVIDENCE OF MR.t A. P. LOW, B.Ap.Sc, F.K.G.S., DIllECTOR OF THE
GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, GIVEN BEFORE THE COMMITTEE, FEB-
RUARY 7, 1907.
Mr. Low explained that he had some personal knowledge of the territory of Kee-
watin, immediately' to the west of Hudson bay. "He went in by Lake Winnipeg and
Berens river, proceeding up that river to the height of land and i)ortaged to the head
waters of the Severn river, flowing into Hudson bay. He followed the Severn river
down through a number of largest lakes to Severn lake, where he met some Indians, and
as he and his party were out of provisions at the time, the Indians took them across
to the headwaters of another branch of the Severn flowing into Trout lake, where
there is a Hudson bay post. Then they followed the branch to its junction with the
Severn river and thence to the mouth. From the mouth they followed the coast to the
mouth of the Nelson and Hayes rivers, and returned home by the Hayes river, cross-
ing again to the Nelson river, and so on up to Norway House at the head of Lake
These rivers are navigable only by canoes as a rule, because there are many rapids
The country between Norway House and Hudson bay is not very elevated. The
highest points in it are probably somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1,000 feet above
sea level. For about half the distance to Hudson bay it is practically a rolling plain,
and the rocks are ancient rocks of the Laurentian and Huronian age. Beyond that
there was an ancient deposit of limestone and sandstone, extending in a wide line
around the northern part about half way across. These are large limestones, and they
are lying almost flat. The country for about half way down from Norway House to
Churchill slopes very gently towards the bay, so that the grade is not more than eight
or ten feet to the mile, if it is that. The northeastern part is practically a plain.
There are considerable areas of low swampy lands. The surface going down into
Hudson bay after you get into the Wolstenholme country is fairly swampy. The rivers
have thrown up banks, and it is only at an occasional place that a break through those
banks occurred to let out the drainage. In many places the river banks are from five
to ten feet higher than the surrounding country, and in consequence the land beyond
is drowned more or less, extending back for a distance as far as one can walk in a
day very often.
The only other part of this west coast of Hudson bay Mr. Low had examined was
up in the region of the far north near Cape FuUerton, where he wintered in the
Neptune, and where the United States whalers as a rule winter when in Hudson bay.
Mr. Low considered that probably half the country due east from Norway House,
say for 100 rail^, would be fit for agriculture. He would rank the agricultural
possibilities there as fair.
24 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
Of course there are very few settlements in there now, and the only one Mr.
Low visited was a Hudson bay x>06t at Trout lake, and they were growing peas and
garden truck of all kinds, also potatoes and fairly decent looking crops. They were
not bothered very badly with summer frosts, as Mr. Low could see from the crop
of green peas. The climate seemed quite favourable for hardy crops. The soil
areas that are fit for agriculture are fairly large; the rocky hills only crop at inter-
vals, and there is quite a large area there that Mr. Low thinks will be fit for future
The low flat plain, southeast of the Nelson river, appears to be largely covered
with muskeg and small spruce. He would suppose there was more muskeg and
spruce land than hay areas. The subsoil is clay largely. Down in the lower country
near the bay there is a certain amount of sand on top. There is a fair amount
of vegetable growth. Mr. Low remarked that he would not consider this low-lying
area a good agricultural country at present, but with some drainage he thought a
great deal of that country around James bay and Hudson bay is going to make a
good agricultural country.
With regard to that territory south of Lake Winnipeg and east of Norway House
and in the country southeast thereof, Mr. Low thought it would be a rocky country,
probably a third rock, or hardly that. Most of the land not rocky would be timber
lands. This would run up to about the eighteenth degree or probably more.
As to the far northern region about Chesterfield Inlet and FuUerton, it is in the
barren lands and unfit for agriculture. The tree line ceases on the coast dose to
Churchill and crosses off to the northwest towards Mackenzie. The country on the
mainland there is quite low. The hills never extend more than 300 or 400 feet.
There are no forests up there, and the only natural resources would be probably the
minerals, the furs and the sea and lake fisheries.
Li his evidence as to the resuorces of the more southern sections of Keewatin
which he had explored, namely, between Norway House and Hudson bay, Mr. Low
stated that the forest, as in a great many other parts of Canada, had been largely
destroyed by fire, but around some of the large lakes and on their islands and other
places, a fair growth of timber is found in that region, with white and black spruce,
pine, aspen poplar and white birch of eighteen inches diameter. The trees are fairly
clean, and a great many of them would probably make two or three logs, so that what
remains of the timber there is fairly decent and good, except on the low swamp land,
where the growth is confined to black spruce and tamarack of no great size.
There is no timber at Fort Churchill, that being practically on the limit of the
Throughout the more southern region described by Mr. Low, there is a good deal
of wood that could be used in the manufacture of pulp.
All of the rivers in the region have water-powers.
The fish in the inland waters of Keewatin are like those in the other northern
parts of Canada, and fairly abundant, especially in the larger lakes. The chief fish
are the whitefish and the lake trout.
Mr. Low, in reply to a question by the Honourable Senator Ferguson, said he
had not made a study of the fish of Hudson bay to any great extent. There had
been no such special study. He went on to state that in Hudson bay the whitefish
and the ordinary river trout have sea-going habits, and the Indians take quite a
THE REGION WEST OP HUDSON BAY 25
number along the shores in nets, more especially in James bay. In the mouths of
the rivers there are a large number of whitefish and trout taken annually by the
Hudson bay people and by the Indians.
There are no true salmon, but there is the Arctic salmon, which is found along
the east side of Hudson bay from Cape Jones, and on the west side, north of the
mouth of the Churchill river. These are in many places very abundant, and are
caught freely in the sunmier time when they are out in the sea. They go into the
sea about July and return to the rivers and lakes again in September some time.
They are only out there about two months.
This Arctic salmon is an excellent fish, beautifully coloured, a very fine salmon
colour, and it is not as rich a fish as the Atlantic salmon. It resembles the western
salmon more than it does the eastern or Atlantic salmon. The salmon fishery on
Hudson bay would no doubt have commercial value were there an outlet to a market.
The whitefish of Hudson bay is a very fine flavoured fish.
The portion of Hudson bay in the vicinity of Southampton Island is where the
whale fishing is done. Formerly it extended to Marble Island. At present the whales
do not come in the southern part, and the fishing now is in Kepple bay and through
Frozen strait and in the adjacent bays and inlets. The whale fishing is gradually
dying out in that country, and last year there was nobody hunting whales up there
except the small Scottish whaling station which is situated somewhere near Nelson
In reply to various questions, Mr. Low said he had no knowledge of herrings or
mackerel going into Hudson bay, but there are some cod there. Mr. Low explained
that the heavy cold Arctic current flowing through Hudson strait stops the salmon
about the northwest corner of Ungava bay. They are found in all the rivers flowing
into Ungava bay, but not further west, and the cod appear to have about the same
limit That is the limit of the migration of cod. But in Hudson bay there are cod.
He had taken them up near Cape Fullerton and along that coast, but they have not
been found very plentiful yet.
There is considerable animal life and fur trapping done in the northern part of
Keewatin. There are the ordinary northerly fur-bearing animals, and they are quite
plentiful. There are a large number of coloured foxes. The black, and the silver and
grey fox are taken out in that region, and these with the beaver, otter and marten
form the principal furs of the country.
In the north each Indian has his hunting ground, and he usually hunts every three
years. He hunts one winter and then gives the animals two years' rest. So they have
some system, and tiie man owns the lands practically.
There are caribou in Keewatin, and Mr. Low believes that of late years the moose
has been moving into the territory to the south of the Hudson river.
Mr. Low drew attention to the fact that the map of Keewatin shows a large
number of lakes, like Gas lake. Island lake. Favourable lake, Severn lake. Trout lake,
&c., and remarked that wherever these patches of water are seen it indicates softer
rocks than the other parts. These rocks are usually Huronian, and in many places
they carry good indications of minerals, copper pyrites and different sulphides of that
kind. At Trout lake there is a large area of what is called norite rock. These are the
rocks in which the nickel deposits of Sudbury occur, and there is a great probability
of a small dei)osit being found up there.
26 CANADA S FERTILE NORTHLAND
Marble island does not carry Any mineral. It was so named because they thought
it was marble when they first discovered it ; but it is quartzite or hardened sandstone.
On the mainland where there are marked indentations, there i^ a large develop-
ment of Huronian rocks, which contain four per cent of copper pyrites. These rocks
have not been properly prospected yet, and there have been no claims taken up on them,
unless it has been inside of the last three years or so. They have not been proven in
any way. These large areas are there, and when Mr. Tyrrell passed down that coast
he landed at a number of places, and at almost every place he stopped found deposits
of copper pyrites. Between Chesterfield and Fullerton there are several fairly decent
deposits of iron pyrites, and some of these contain small deposits of gold.
Gold was found by Dr. Wright somewhere in Whitcher Inlet, but beyond those
discoveries nothing of a definite character is known of the minerals of the far north.
The island of Southampton is formed of limestone, and a band of this ancient
Huronian Laurentian rocks, which crosses at the north side of it.
There have been no indications of coal discovered in Keewatin, but Mr. Low
explained that on hurried trips such as he had made it was impossible to examine
mineral deposits very much, and one is liable to lose many of them. The general
character of the southern part of Keewatin as regards mineral resources is good.
As to the climate of' Keewatin, Mr. Low explained that while in the far north,
about Chesterfield Inlet, it is Arctic, in the southern part, south of the Nelson, it is
fairly good, he thought, for settlement. The summer frosts are rare, and hs thought
with the opening up of the country it would probably improve. He considered that
settlers in there would not have any more difficulty in summer than they would in the
settled part of the Northwest.
The summer is probably equal to that of Saskatchewan. The length of the
summer days is an advantage. They get more Sunlight during the summer than do
the i)eople of Ontario or other points further south, and that is a distinct help to
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
Mr. Low thought that there would be no difficulty about railway construction in
Keewatin. It would be quite easy to get a railway through to Hudson bay.
Note. — Mr. Low was also examined with regard to the navigability of Hudson
bay and Hudson strait. See Section C.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 27
EVIDENCE OF MR. R E. YOUNG, OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE
INTERIOR, SUPERINTENDENT OF RAILWAY AND SWAMP LANDS,
GIVEN BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE, FEBRUARY 7, 1907.
Mr. Young explained that he had no knowledge from personal observation of any
of the tract of country to be covered by the committee's investigation, nor could he
claim to have any great amount of knowledge from study of the available sources of
information. He had, however, been impressed for some time with the importance of
obtaining some more accurate information than seems now to be available of the
northern portions of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and the country lying
north of the^ province of Manitoba.
The witl^s proceeded to explain in a few words why such an investigation
apx)ears to be iiyiportant and urgently required now.
About two years ago there was prepared under his direction a map hanging on the
wall of the committee room and marked ^ No. 1.' This map he thought was the means
of first drawing general attention to the fact that with regard to the known portions
of the provinces above referred to, the area available for homestead settlement was
not nearly as great as had been supposed, and that at the rate at which settlement was
progressing, it would before many years be exhausted. On this point he asked the
committee to compare the map above mentioned, which was of date May 1, 1905, with
an adjoining map marked * No. 2,' of date May 1, 1906, and to note the extent to
which settlement had progressed, as shown by the red colour, in the interval.
Mr. Young also invited consideration of a map marked ' No. 3,' which showed in
red colour the homesteads taken up during the year 1906. He also placed before the
committee for consideration in this connection the following statement showing the
number of homestead entries reported in each year since 1874 : —
Departmental year ended —
No. of Entries.
October 31, 1874 1,376
" 31, 1875 499
" 31, 1876 347
31, 1877 846
31, 1878 ' 1,788
31, 1879 4,068
31, 1880 2,074
31, 1881 2,753
31, 1882 7,483
31, 1883 6,063
31, 1884 3,753
31, 1885 1,858
31, 1886 2,657
'' 31, 1887 2,036
31, 1888 2,655
31, 1889 4,416
" 31, 1^90 2,955
31, a^51 3,523
31, 1^2 4,840
31, 1803 4,067
31, 1894 ; 3,209
28 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
No. of Entri«6.
December 31, 1895 2,394
'' 31, 1896 1,857
31, 1897 2,384
31, 1898 4,848
31, 1899 6,689
June 30, 1900 (half year; change to fiscal year) 7,426
'' 30, 1901 8,167
30, 1902 14,673
" 30, 1903 31,383
30, 1904 26,073
30, 1905 30,819
30, 1906 41,869
These figures were taken from the last report of the Department of the Interior.
Mr. Young also placed before the conmiittee the figures of immigration for the
last ten years, taken from the same source, as follows: —
1899-00 (crrivals for 6 months only) 23,895
It will be noticed that commencing in the year 1902, a rapid increase took place
in the number of homestead entries — ^the entries for 1906 being nearly three times as
great as in 1902. The figures are the figures for the fiscal years. Mr. Young had also-
the figures for the calendar year 1906, which are 42,012, showing that the rapid growth
of homestead settlement was continued up to the latest period for which records are
available, that is to January 1 last.
Forty-two thousand entries would represent 6,720,000 acres of land.
The odd-numbered sections have not up to the present time been open to home-
stead entry, having been reserved in connection with the land subsidies earned by-
railways. These railway land subsidies are now almost entirely closed out, so that an.
approximate estimate can be given of the odd-numbered sections remaining in the
portions of Alberta and Saskatchewan dealt with in the maps in question. Taking the
tract of country bounded on the north by Township 66 in Alberta, and Township 69 in
Saskatchewan, and lying east of range 7, west of the 6th meridian, indicated by a line
in black on the map, or say taking it roughly 50 miles of country north of the Sas-
katchewan river, there will be in this area, approximately, slightly under 30,000,000
acres, in odd-numbered sections.
It is from a consideration of these facts that it had seemed to Mr. Young impor-
tant that all available information should be obtained about the country adjoining to-
the north the country in which this rush of settlement is taking place, and that addi-
tional information should be obtained by exploration in a systematic way.
While his own information as to this northern country was not large, he felt
satisfied that the impression which he was inclined to think generally prevails, that the
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 2»
northern region is a country of little value, is entirely a mistake, and that a consider-
able area will be found to be available for settlement.
About six months ago, steps were taken in the Department of the Interior, at Mr.
l^oung's suggestion, to have a large map prepared which, was submitted to the
committee, and which contained all i^e information available from any source so far
as could be ascertained, and he believed that a little consideration of Uiis map would
bear out what he had said, that the country is of a much more valuable character
than had been supposed.
so CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF FRED. G. DURNFORD, C.E., OF THE DEPARTMENT OF
THE INTERIOR, DELIVERED BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE,
FEBRUARY 12, 1907.
Mr. Durnford explained the map last mentioned by Mr. Young, the preceding
witness, and which he (2k£r. Durnford) had prepared. This map was on a scale of
twelve and one-half miles to the inch, an enlargement of the map made by the
Geographer of the department, extending from north latitude 54 degrees to 60 degrees,
and from 93 degrees to 120 degrees, west longitude. Each of the squares shown upon
^he map contained approximately 2,600 square miles, or 1,664,000 acres.
Land which, from information in the department and from other sources (a
large number, over one hundred authorities consulted) is suitable for cultivation, was
shown on the map in red. Land about which there is very little information was
shown in yellow; land which is muskeg or rocky, or generally unsuitable, in brown.
Areas which contained spots of good land were indicated on the map in mixtures
of brown and red.
Mr. Durnford explained that he had taken out some figures giving the relative
proportions of these various classes of land in the different p^rovinces.
Taking the part of the Northwest Territories shown on the map (southern Kee-
watin and the southern fringe of Mackenzie), the red land gives about 59,800 square
miles, equal to 38,272,000 acres. The yellow or unknown land in that same territory,
64,600 square miles, equal to 34,944,000 acres. The brown and water areas in the same
territory, 23,000 square miles, equal to 14,720,000 acres. That gives a total area for
the Northwest Territories, in this portion under consideration, of 137,400 square miles,
or 87,936,000 acres. The proportion of the red to the whole is 43 per cent. The yellow
in that portion of the Northwest Territories is 40 per cent, and the brown and water,
17 per cent. The yellow and the red together gives 83 per cent. All the land coloured
red, including that in the neighbourhood of Fort Churchill, appears to be suitfd>le
for agricultural or grazing purposes, and generally for settlement.
Witness thought a farmer might do well in the neighbourhood of Fort
ChurchilL Witness based this opinion from information obtained from several
authorities. In the portion of the province of Saskatchewan under discussion the
red area was 21,200 square miles, equivalent to 19,968,000 acres; the yellow, 52,000
square miles, equivalent to 33,280,000 acres. The brown and water area, 41,800 square
miles, equivalent to 26,752,000 acres, a total for Saskatchewan of 125,000 square miles,
or 80,000,000 acres. The relative proportion of the red land in Saskatchewan was
smaller than in the Northwest Territories, being 26 per cent; the yellow, 42 per cent.
Adding these together it gave 67 per cent fox yellow and red; the brown and water
combined amounted to 33 per cent.
In the northern part of the province of Alberta the red gave 65,000 square miles,
equal to 41,600,000 acres; the yellow, 77,910 square miles, equivalent to 49,862,400
acres ; the brown and water areas, 12,910 square miles, equal to 8,262,400 acres ; total,
155,820 square miles, equivalent to 99,724,800 acres; grand total for area under
consideration, 418,220 square miles, equivalent to 276,660,800 acres; and for this the
proportion of red was 37 per cent, the proportion of yellow, 44 per cent, and the
proportion of brown and water areas. 19 per cent for the whole area under considera-
tion. The proportions in Alberta were 42 per cent red, 50 per cent yellow, making 92
per cent of the whole in yellow and red, and 8 per cent of brown and water. Hudson
bay was not included.
The yellow represented land of which Mr. Durnford could find no information.
It is possible that there is information, but he had not been able to lay his hands on
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 31
it. The greater portion of the land coloured yellow had not been explored or surveyed,
and inasmuch as a good deal of that land seemed to be in the middle of the country
which is known to be fit for settlement, the witness thought it should be explored and
surveyed at onee,
Mr. Durnford mentioned that he had often spoken about this country with the
son of Professor Agassiz. The section through which the Churchill and Nelson flows
is known to geologists by the name of the Ancient Lake Agassiz, and the whole of
this area, as far as one can gather from geological information, is the ancient bed of
Lake Agassiz. The territory lying along the Nelson and the Churchill rivers forms
part of this ancient lake. The theory is that as glaciers disappeared they deposited
over this surface large quantities of humus, and that the ancient lakes spread north-
wards; all the land which formed the ancient bed of Lake Agassiz should be fertile.
SOME ANCIENT AUTHORITIES.
The most ancient authority Mr. Durnford consulted with reference to the land
along the Churchill river was David Thompson, the man who towers above all the great
explorers of his period, the man whom we first hear of as a boy of fourteen at
Churchill, and who took astronomical and meteorological observations all over this
country, traversing from south of the 'Indian lak^, by Jasper lake, and Columbia
river to the Pacific ocean, and to whose maps the Dominion of Canada in indebted for
much information. Outside of David Thompson, who surveyed as far north as the
southern portion of the Indian lakes, and Peter Fiddler, who completed this work, we
are altogether in the dark about the country west and northwest of Churchill. David
Thompson's note on the Nelson river from its mouth is to the effect that for 1S7
statute miles of the river's length the banks are clay and suitable for cultivation. We
have not so much information upon the country north of Churchill river, because we
are dependent on Thompson and Fiddler, and Thompson's notes, which the witness
had consulted, only extend as far as the southern portion of Indian lake. Peter
Fiddler's notes are unavailable, as they cannot be found at the present time.
Thompson's speak of this iwrtion as very rocky, and from what he says about the
character of the soil, one might believe it is a Huronian formation and likely to be
AGRICULTrRE AT CHURCHILL.
One of the best authorities upon Churchill in ancient days was a man of the
name of Robson, a civil engineer, who constructed Fort Churchill. He was there at
various periods from 1733 onwards, and appears to have been a very careful observer
as well as a good engineer. He spoke of the vegetables which he had raised there,
of the horses which had been employed for several years, and also the cattle at the
fort. He said that in spite of the cold winds on Esquimaux Point he was able to pro-
duce excellent vegetables. He dug down in the soil — it was in the month of July — and
found that he had to dig down a depth of three feet six inches before he came to the
frost, represented by a sheet of eight inches of ice, and he makes the note that this
thin stratum of ice below does not in any way affect the vegetation. He went on to
speak of the horses that were used in drawing stones and other material for the fort,
and the fine butter that was made, and spoke of it generally as a good agricultvgral
country round about. That was in 1733 and 1747.
Mr. Durnford thought it was 1784 when David Thompson first started his diary.
It extended on to 1850. He was one of the first men to cross the Rocky mountains
and the discoverer of several passes. Howe's Pass should have been named after him.
He went very near the Yellow Head Pass, but did not go through, passing by what
he calls the Athabaska Portage. Eight across the continent from Churchill to the
month of the Cclumbin river, he has left a very valuable series of meteorological
32 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
observations taken every winter during the time he was with the Hudson Bay
Company, for seven years, and later, from 1797 to 1814, with the Northwest Company.
He observed at Split Lake, at Sepiwesk lake, also at Cumberland House, York Factory,
South Indian lake, at Reed lake. Peace river, &c., &c., and left a series of meteoro-
logical tables which are of great value. The opinion that one must gather from his
writings is that the principal reason agriculture was not carried on was because the
mouths to be fed did not appreciate the benefits of eating vegetables. The Ladians
being all meat eaters, it was thought superfluous on the part of the companies to
attempt to raise vegetables or grain for them.
Mr. Dumf ord had caused to be written on the map described the different points
where barley and wheat have been grown. Barley has been grown at York Factory
and at Nelson House, wheat and other cereals have been raised there, and at other
points along the Nelson river cereals have been raised, so in his opinion there is very
little doubt that in this country, if the necessity arose, cereals of all sorts could be
Mr. Dumford proceeded to refer to what the authorities he had consulted had
written regarding the forestry of this northern district.
Mr. Ellis back in 1748 gave a drawing which is very interesting, showing the
size of the timber, and the houses they constructed while wintering at the mouth of
the Nelson river.
Mr. Mclnnes, who is connected with the Geological Survey, had made a very
valuable report. He was through this country, going from the head of Lake Winni-
peg, as far east as Split lake, last year, and he states that just north of Bumtwood
river, near the Hart and Nelson rivers, on the 56th parallel, he found spruce timber
as large as twenty inches in diameter, growing at the present time where the fires
had not swept through. All this country seems to have been devastated by fire at
different i)eriods, but the information we have, going back for a century and a half,
shows that large timber grew at the mouth of the Nelson river, and large timbers are
still growing near Split lake, on the Odie river. Spruce and poplar are found, and
where generally poplar grows in the northern region you may be sure the soil is good.
The witness read a short article by the United States Consul at London, Ont,
speaking about the timber areas of this northern country, who makes the statement
that from the east coast of Labrador, north of the fiftieth parallel in a north-
westerly direction to Alaska, there is a belt of timber about 3,000 miles long, and about
600 miles broad, which he terms the spruce area. In a very strong article he speaks
about the impossibility of exhausting that timber. He refers to Dr. Bell's statement
in which he says that the area of our northern forests is forty-four times as large as
England, and that one such area will supply the present population of Canada, as
showing that the timber in that belt may be said to be practically inexhaustible. In
the southern border the timber is large enough for lumber, and in the northern it is
good enough for pulp.
PISH, GAME AND FUR-BEARING ANIMALS.
. As to the fisheries, Mr. Dumford explained that the information from the most
ancient authorities such as Thompson (who speaks of the South Indian lakes, of the
Eeindeer lakes, and the lakes in the neighbourhood of Nelson river), is that they
are valuable. Present information seems to show that the quantity of fish has not
decreased to any great extent. Thompson said he found whitefish and fish of all
sizes in abundance. Sir Arthur Dobbs, who is also one of the ancient authorities,
speaking of the Little Churchill river, which runs into the Great Churchill between
57J north and about 95 degrees west, says that that ' river is teeming with fine fish.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 33
The rivers and lakes seem generally to be well stocked with fish of the very best
varieties, whitefish especially.' Jackfish and sturgeon were also mentioned^ Sturgeon
of very large size were spoken of as being taken at the mouths of the Churchill river.
Trout were also mentioned, but salmon were not spoken of in the inland waters.
Authorities such as Ellis, Robson and others said that the country between
the Nelson and the Churchill was very largely inhabited by moose and reindeer, and
they also speak of a large number south of the Seal river, between the Seal and the
Churchill. These appear to have disappeared, and are to be looked for now on the
Doobaunt river, where Mr. J. B. Tyrrell took photographs showing the Barren Lands
reindeer by the thousand. He walked in and out amongst them. They were so tame
he was able to take those photographs. A very sad fact in connection with these
reindeer or cariboo is that the Indians think the more they kill of them the more
there will be. The result is they slaughter them indiscriminately. The musk-ox is
found further north on the Thelewiaza river and near the Neweltin lakes, but not
further west than the Copi)ermine river as far as witness knew. The cariboo travel
north, but appear to come back to the edge of timber lands for shelter.
Asked if there are any genuine Iceland reindeer in the country, Mr. Dumford
replied that according to information that he had from a paper by Mr. MacFarlane,
a Hudson bay factor, the large reindeer are found on the Mackenzie river.
Hon. Mr. Robertson. — ' Some years ago the United States government shipped
a large number of reindeer from Norway and Iceland to Alaska. Do you know if
they have spread over that northern country?'
Mr. DuRNFORD. — ' I have no information that they have. At Fort Enterprise, on
the Mackenzie river, they say they have the larger reindeer. The difference between
the reindeer and the cariboo is, I believe, simply with regard to size. The Barren-
grounds cariboo or reindeer *is smaller than the Iceland reindeer. They are very valu-
able animals for food, and their skins are used for clothing. Wild geese are found in
large numbers throughout the northern country. They are spoken of by Mr. Tyrrell
in his travels to Chesterfield Inlet. He speaks of shooting them, and on the Churchill
and Nelson rivers large numbers of geese and other aquatic birds are found. Away
north, near the mouth of the Coppermine river, very large numbers of these birds are
found on the rivers and lakes. There are also several species of geese and ducks, but
there are no prairie chickens.'
As regards the minerals, Mr. Robson states that between Churchill and York
Factory native cinnabar or mercury ores have been found. He also speaks of the
probability of copper being found a short distance north of Churchill. In the latest
geological reports, Mr. Mclnnes speaks about the Huronian formations which are
found on the upper portion of the Nelson which he visited, and they would seem to
indicate, in addition to what Mr. Thompson says about the South Indian lakes, that
there can be very little doubt that this country is highly mineralized. The Huronian
is a kindly formation. It is different to the Archaian or old formations, such as
granite and gneiss, which are hard and not kindly for the miner. The Huronian
formation, on the contrary, is a kindly formation. It is easily decomposed, and pro-
duces a soil which agriculturists can work, and in this formation there is every
promise of finding minerals such as have been discovered at Cobalt, and in the nickel
re^ns of Sudbury. Those are found in the Huronian, and north of the 60th parallel,
according to Mr. Tyrrell, who coasted along the west coast of Hudson bay, there are
Huronians. They are not actually mentioned by name, but are described by Mr.
Thompson on the South Indian lakes, and generally the country inland and west of
the bay is likely to prove not only a good agricultural, but also a very attractive
On the Battle river, which flows into the Peace river, gold has been found, carried
down from the mountains, and is reported ui)on as being suitable for working with
34 CANADA'S FEETILE NORTHLAND
dredges, and further west in the Athahaska, Peace and Saskatchewan rivers we know
that there is gold. In the central portion of the map, the province of Saskatchewan,
there is very little reason to douht that the Huronian formation exists in several parts,
round about Reindeer lake, &c. North of Lake Athahaska particularly is likely to
prove a very important mining section. Mr. Dumford expressed the opinion that
nickel and its associated minerals, and no doubt iron ore, will be found, and there is
also every possibility of finding cobalt and silver in the country north of Lake Atha-
Mr. Durnford pointed out that the climate varies considerably. He drew attention
to iihe fact that the further north we go the better the stamina of the men we find
there. The witness had travelled quite largely in India, and found the nearer he
approached the Himalayas the finer the class of men. The men from the mountains,
the Sikhs, are men of magnificent physique. You find this applies also as regards the
Esquimaux, who appear to be a fine race physically, kindly in their disposition and
nature, not cruel to the same extent as t^ose of more southern latitudes, and you find
the same thing down in Patagonia. Towards the limit, as you may say, at which men
or cereals can be grown you find the best That had been brought to the notice of the
witness very strongly living out in India. Kice is the staple grai|i of that country,
and grows well, yet we find in Carolina a much better quality. The nearer to the
poles it is possible for plants or the human species to survive, there the best of their
species are found, and so, though the northern climate is rigorous it is habitable.
Mr. Durnford quoted the experience of Mr. Hanbury,who started from Churchill
and went north and along the Chesterfield inlet up to the Arctic ocean, travelled
west along the Arctic ocean and up the Coppermine river to Great Bear lake, passing
two years amongst the Eskimos in 1904 and 1905. He collected some very valuable
information as regards the climate of that northern country. Its people, of course,
have been used to the rigours of the climate. He says that new-bom children are
laid on the snow by their mothers, without receiving injury, and he makes a
statement which would at first seem almost a fairy story did we not know that he had
been living among the Esquimaux in their snow houses. He says that a temperature
in that very dry climate of 23 degrees is equivalent to 60 degrees in a more humid
one, and that when the temperature reached 28 above zero, they had to cut a hole in
the snow houses because they found it uncomfortably warm. It is a strange but very
valuable statement as tending to show that though the first persons to go into our
north country, for instance, natives of the old country might suffer through ignorance,
those who learn how to live there would undergo no greater inconvenience than tiiey
would in a climate such as we have in Ottawa.
Throughout that northern country the only settlements are Hudson bay settle-
ments. There is a small settlement at Churchill and a Hudson bay post on Split
lake, one at Kelson House and one at Reed lake — they are scattered all over that
territory. The people grow only what is necessary for their own use. The people who
are dependent upon them have to be fed, and so long as they have meat it matters
not whether they raise vegetables or not. There are comparatively few cattle
kept. At Cumberland and Norway Houses they have a few, and at one time they used
to have a large number. Now that they are nearer markets, they probably purchase
their supplies. They are not an agricultural people, and do not care to keep cattle.
Of course in that country cattle would need shelter, whether at Churchill or Norway
House, in the winter season. You have to go considerably further west before you
could let them remain out during the whole winter.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 35
MEA^NS OF COMMUNICATION.
The means of communication between Lake Winnipeg and Churchill hitherto has
been by boats, as also to York Factory. The Canadian Northern railroad is now
extending its line from Etoimami to the Pas, a distance of about 90 miles, and have
run their survey some 75 or more miles north of that. The distance from Churchill to
the Pas on their route map is 460 miles. The distance from Churchill to Liverpool is
2,926 geographical miles, as compared with 2,931 from Montreal via Cape Kace to
Liverpool, a difference of ^ve miles in favour of Churchill. The distance from Mont-
real to Liverpool by the Straits of Belle Isle is 2,763 miles, and from New York to
LiverjKK)!, 3,079 miles. The distance from Winnipeg to Churchill is approximately
660 miles, and about the same distance between Prince Albert and Churchill.
36 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF ALFKED VON HAMERSTEIN, RESIDENT IN THE ATHA-
BASKA DISTRICT OF NORTHERN ALBERTA.
Mr. Von Hamerstein explained that he first went to the Athabaska district in
1 897 on his way to go to the Klondike, and proceeded to Fort Liard and inland, with
three of a party. He worked his way back, partly by steamboat, to Athabaska Land-
ing. At that time there was nothing there but a carpenter shop and a Hudson bay
shop. He stayed there for a while, and then kept a trading store, and traded with ihe
Indians at Baptiste lake, and has been around there ever since. He has travelled
and mined and traded, and of late has been boring for petroleum. He has specially
interested himself in the opening up of the Athabaska country around Fort
McMurray, and has expended of his own and other people's money more than $60,000
in machinery and actual development ' in punching holes through the ground.' He
has been around the Athabaska river from Lesser Slave lake to the mouth of the
Little river, and down the Pembina river, up the Athabaska to Lake Athabaska,
around Lake Athabaska and back again, up to Fort Smith, back to the mouth of Peace
river, around the Peace river and back to Lesser Slave lake several times, ^ and walked
every step of it.' In his earlier days in the country he went from Lake Athabaska to
Athabaska Landing several times, and used to track boats back and work on the river.
He had been inland from the Athabaska river to the Peace river by several routes in
the way of hunting, or following up the river prospecting, &c,, several times.
The agricultural resources of the Athabaska district, as far as the witness could
understand, are indicated by the farming that is now being conducted with fairly good
success at Athabaska Landing, but through all this country the crops may be good one
year and the next year they may be destroyed by frost. The soil is good enough, but
the climate is precarious yet. They say it may change, but up to this time it has not
changed. At Baptiste lake there was, when witness first went there, no agriculture.
He was the first man to introduce farming there. He kept a trading store, and the
natives insisted on having different kinds of seeds. Amongst others he got some flower
seeds, and some lovely flowers were raised. The people raise some crops there now.
It is a very good ranching country — first-class.
Several people came up there with cattle. A man named MaiUoux brought 120
head of cattle, and they are in good shape. The kind of grass there is a red top, a very
big grass. The country has all been burnt over and the timber has fallen, so the grass
cannot be cut with a mowing machine, but in some places they have cleared away the
fallen timber and can use machinery now. Vetches and wild pea vines grow all over
that country, but there is no bunch grass to be found; it is mostly red top. How far
north it grows witness could not say. He had traced it up in very large quantities on
Slave river. About a hundred or two hundred yards from the river there is a big
slough, and this grass grows all along there very luxuriantly. There is no place along
the northern shores of Lake Athabaska where grass can be grown. It is mostly rock
A little ^ferden stuff is raised at Fort Chipewyan, on soil brought there by the
Sisters in pails.
At Fort McMurray the land is good, and between the junction of the Clearwater
and the Athabaska there is a fiat of land about three miles long, and from a quarter of
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 37
a mile to a mile and a half or two miles wide, which is very fine soil ; but the rest of
it is all hills covered by an inch and a half of moss, under the moss being the lime-
stone rock. They raise good garden stuff at Fort McMurray. A party there had good
crops for three years.
"", Wherever there is soil to be found it is very good, mostly old river beds or where
eddies have accumulated soil; but the rest is sand and muskeg. At Fort McMurray
there is no farming land that witness knew of, nor is there any between Fort
McMurray and Lake Athabaska. There may be patches here and there, but most of
the land is covered with scrub, small poplars and rough bark cottonwood, or as is
sometimes called, ' Balm of Gilead.' There are little patches of land here and there,
but not much.
Going along to Lake Athabaska there is nothing. East of Fort McMurray there
are several lakes, the centre of what is described as fine hay country. The natives
there have from 60 to 80 horses, and there are reported to be good grazing patches
round the lakes. It is probably a better ranching country than an agricultural one.
To the northtwest of this district are some muskeg lakes, where the natives have quite
a few horses and cut considerable hay.
At Fort Chipewyan there is a little garden, but the shores of the lake are sandy,
like ocean sand. The Catholic mission are the main crop producers there. They have
a garden of about three-quarters of an acre, a little patch in the rocks. They work on
it, and tend the plants like sick babies, and get some return.
At Fort Smith, on the Slave river, is a nice piece of prairie extending in a south-
westerly direction to a place called Soiled river, and it is said, right through to Peace
Mr. Von Hamerstein explained that he had been through the Peace river valley
frequently, but did not claim to know it very well. It is a nice country, no doubt about
it, and a good country for agricultural settlement — as good as any district down in
Alberta. The climate and soil are good. The grain comes to maturity in that district,
but of course they may sometimes have a bad year. They raise wheat out there, and
there are mills which grind the wheat raised in that country to-day. One of these
flour mills is at Fort Vermilion, where there is considerable farming in the old river
Mr. Von Hamerstein considered the Athabaska and Peace river regions marvel-
lous in the growth of small wild fruits. They grow all over.
In the end of July or the first part of August there are strawberries, and then
raspberries and blueberries. Then come the saskatoons, choke cherries, white plums
and berries of every description, all over the country. They all have a very nice
Mr. Von Hamerstein stated that he knew that part of Northern Alberta, south of
Lake Athabaska, very well, because he walked through it every year. From Fort
McMurray it is all hilly for the first forty miles, with patches of muskeg. There is
timber there consisting of spruce, about half a foot in size. The country has been
burnt. Further on there are some lakes which are called muskeg lakes.
From McMurray up in a westerly direction, for about 20 miles there is very good
timber. He had seen trees that would make 1,000 feet of lumber. From Athabaska
Landing to House river there is timber standing yet. There have been some fires
raging, but they have not burned it yet. The timber -consists of some patches of
spruce, of fairly good size, and the rest is poplar. • From House river to McMurray
there is no timber left. It is all burned out. There are patches here and there along
the river, a couple of trees left standing, and there is some very fine timber in that.
There is some timber which Mr. Von Hamerstein used for his work, and he had taken
out strips 64 feet long, out of which he had cut his walking beams. There are only
38 ^ CANADA'S FERTILE NOBTHLAND
patches of this timber; the rest has been burned. A little further east there is some
fine timber at Chipewyan. From the mouth of the Peace river to about Vermilion
there is some good timber. The timber ranges north for quite a while of the same
quality. There will be a range of timber four or five miles long, and then you come
to muskeg. From the Vermilion down there is no timber left; it is all burned up.
There is no young timber growing up to speak of — at least Mr. Von Hamerstein did
not see any, except in a few places where a little young timber is starting to grow.
Indeed it is mostly poplar, with patches here and there of spruce, but mostly poffhar.
FISH, GAME AND FLR-BEARINQ ANIMALS.
As to the fish in the Athabaska district, most of them come from Lake Athabaska
twice a year to spawn, as far as the Great Cascades, and they are caught in large
quantities twice a year. The settlers and natives catch fish all the time. The main
shoals of fish seem to come at certain times. The natives are not very scientific
fishermen. The Boman Catholic mission catch a large qii(intity of fish, and the main
supply of food for most of the natives is fish. There is the whitefish, the * gold-eye,'
a large jackfish generally called the ' mascalonge,^ and the ^ maria,' which easterners
probably call a dogfish. The whitefish are to be found in large quantities. They are
fed to the dogs. Each dog takes a fish and a half a day. lliey put up for each dog
150 fish ; each man has from 6 to 12 dogs, so that a man will put up 6,000 fish. In
the missions they put up ten or twelve thousand and sometimes more.
There is a larg3 fish called the * Inconnu ' — the unknown. They commonly give it
the name * Connie.' They catch any amount of these fish, weighing from 40 to 60
pounds, and they cook them in all kinds of shapes.
As far as game is concerned, there are all kinds of rabbits, partridge and moose,
mostly moose; very few deer in the country; cariboo and mink, and all kinds of fur-
Mr. Von Hamerstein had, he explained, made a list of the animals which he
observed in the country. The most common fur-bearing animals are black bear, which
exist in large quantities. Sometimes he had counted in 15 miles as many as 20 or 30
bears. They are entirely harmless. Then there is the brown bear, not very numerous,
and some silver-tip bears, and there are mink, otter, weasel, fisher, marten, foxes of all
kinds, red foxes, silver foxes and black foxes, the wolverine, the coyote and the timber
wolf. The timber wolf and the wolverine are two entirely different animals. The
wolverine is n gigantic skunk. He has stripes on his back too, and is a yellow colour.
He has a very bad scent. He is about the most cunning animal that exists, and not
only cunning but mischievous. Out west he is called * the devil,' and there is no ques-
tion but that word describes him. He will not take any poison. He will watch when
the trapper goes away, and see that everything is clear, then he follows. The witness
had been informed that the wolverine is the only animal which has not changed its
form since the time of creation. Skeletons of a good many extinct animals and of
animals which now exist have been found, all of them showing changes. The horse
and other animals have developed, but the wolverine has kept its original shape.
There are muskrats and beaver in that region, but not many beaver now. Timber
wolves are there in large numbers, but they have never been known to band together
to attack anybody. There are several varieties of the eagle, the Canadian jay, com-
monly called the whisky bird, one or two specimens of blackbirds and a small wren.
They are the most cocimoix J)irds. There is also seen occasionally a little wild canary.
There are also sandpipers and gulls.
As to large game, in the lower part of the Athabaska country, there are moose
and a very few cariboo, and there is a large kind of deer coming in.
Around Salt river, along the northern boundary of Alberta, where is the great
meeting place for all game, they congregate to lick the salt, and there are quite a few
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 39
buffalo there. Witness had seen about twenty, and there was said to be seven hundred
in the band altogether.
There are wood buffalo as large as the prairie buffalo, and" if the government
would give a large bounty for the destruction of the wolves, there would be many
herds, but the wolves destroy the young as fast as they breed.
Hon. Mr. De Veber informed Mr. Hamerstein that the bounty had been doubled
last year ; but the witness said he did not know it. The wolves are not being shot.
Mr. Von Hamerstein, proceeding, stated that north from Lake Athabaska there is
the musk ox.
There are several varieties of ducks and two of geese, the grey goose and the
smaller kind, a white one. They come in the spring, and are mostly found around
Lake Athabaska. Then they go somewhere in the middle of June — it has not been
decided where — and they come back about the end of August in enormous numbers,
simply uncountable. They go towards the barren grounds, it is said. If killed when
they return their stomachs are found full of cranberries.
For about two years, Mr. Von Hamerstein explained, he had been engaged in gold
mining in the Athabaska and Peace river districts. He has an apparatus, for separat-
ing the gold from the Sf^id, which is better than panning. Panning is too slow a job.
He had inspected the jRiver McLeod at a place called Assiniboia. A half-breed took
out $150 from a bar there. He himself took out gold at a little bar right opposite the
mouth of the Lesser Slave river in the Athabaska. He worked it for part of two
summers. He would take out enough to last him for the winter, and then quit. It is
The 'Indians and natives have gold and diamonds on the brain. They had taken
to him rocks containing very nice garnets, but they were very mysterious about them.
Mr. Von Hamerstein explained he worked for gold on the Peac^ river. There is
very good mining l^ere, a little below Battle river. But the gold is so very fine that
for every dollar you save there, about four and a half go away, and there are some
peculiar things which no one can account for. After you have got it there is trouble
with the quicksilver, which does not take up the gold. The method he adopted was
to run the quicksilver, and then before running it over again, to roll it in acid.
There is a fine seam of coal at Fort McKay, and the witness took out last season
about twenty tons right on the river bank. This is a good quality of bituminous coal,
which could be used for common blacksmithing, but not for welding. Where exposed
and worked this seam goes down about five or six feet deep, and it seems to be getting
larger. There is quite a bit of coal taken out to-day by the people who live at Fort
There is a fine seam of coal at a little creek named Horse creek, which is about
a mile and a half south from Fort McMurray on the east side of Athabaska river.
Coal may also be found in other places. There is a seam, for instance, about tv^o
miles below Stony island.
Up the rivers that flow into the Mackenzie there are large quantities of native salt
thrown up. It is mostly underground, and there seems to be a crater. The salt
appears to be close to the ground in large quantities.
At Salt river salt was found right on the surface. There is a spring which comes
out of the ground, and the water is so salty that it cannot take up any more. Bight
at McMurray 150. feet of rock salt was found. The traders and Hudson bay people
come down and take it with shovels, and they sell all the salt that is used along there.
It is taken from Salt river. Witness did not know what they got for it.
At Black bay, on Lake Athabaska, there is first-class galena — none better. It
carries gold, silver and copper. They assayed some of the product at Fort Chippe-
wyan, and found that it carried roughly about $6 or $7 worth of gold, and some copper.
40 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
There is a big seam near Black bay, and you can follow it up right along until it
comes to an island. That is a very fine country for gold, and there have been several
attempts to make something out of it, but the time is not ripe. The priests up there
are of the Oblat order.
There are indications of iron along the Clearwater river. Witness found some
very nice pieces of iron, and he found limestone in the centre of Athabaska.
Once in the Peace river district, on the way from Lake Chippewyan, witness
found a deposit of red stone; he did not know whether it was ochre or hematite of
iron. He had any amount of it, but upset with his canoe and lost it.
A large amount of ochre is found on the eastern bank of the Atiiabaska, between
Athabaska Landing and Grand Eapids. Witness had also observed what seemed to
him a large amount of hematite of iron between Athabaska Landing and the mouth
of the Greater Slave river. While on the Slave river itself, at a certain point large
bodies of magnetite ore are indicated by the action of the compass, which gets entirely
out of order.
On the lower part of the Athabaska the limestone which is exposed all along the
river is of a very good quality. There is also found clay it for puddling and for
NATURAL GAS AND PETROLEUM.
This industry in time to come will be possible and profitable owing to the exist-
ence of natural gas, which is found in that country in steady veins. Sand of the very
best quality for making glass is abundant, and ijiis industry also is bound to come
into existence and be profitable through the existence of cheap fuel, and intense
heat in the shape of natural gas in the country. The development of the galena which
is exposed in a large vein at Lake Athabaska, depends also on the intense heat and
cheap fuel of the natural gas, and will be highly profitable when better communica-
tion is established in the country.
Mr. Von Hamerstein drew the attention of the committee to the waste of nautral
oil gas for the last eleven years at the government bore hole at Pelican Portage or
A very large volume of gas was struck there by the government boring parties, and
the well has never been plugged, although there have been representations made again
and again. Witness considered that it would be largely in the interests of the develop-
ment of the resources of that country that iihe well should be plugged. He considered
it an actual sin to leave it as it is. It has now been escaping for eleven years. The
last report to the Dominion government was made by the provincial government
through the Hon. Mr. Gushing. The value of the well has been decreased tremen-
dously in eleven years, and it is robbing the entire district of gas which may be used
in the future.
The government, at the time the gas flow was struck at Pelican Rapids, was
boring for petroleum. They went within 60 miles of where Mr. Hamerstein's parties
are drilling now, at a depth of 860 feet, or something like that; they struck a
tremendous flow of natural gas, which hindered them from boring any further. They
thought the well would exhaust itself, went back the next year to resume the boring
operation, and finding that the gas had not exhausted itself, they never went back
after that. It is still burning. When Mr. Von Hamerstein went up in the month
of June last it blew about 18 or 20 feet. About four years ago he found it was about
40 feet That is a stream right up. It explodes with such force that not a hundredth
part of the gas has a chance to be inflamed. The ground all around it has fallen in.
Of course as this has been going on for eleven years, it has formed a cavity and the
whole thing sinks down. There is a pipe about four feet out of the ground. It was
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 41
There is an eight-inch casing, and then a seven, then a six und a five, and the gas
gets between all the casings except the outside. It throws out both water and gas.
The place was badly selected when they started boring, right close to the river. They
did not take into consideration the character of the river, which rises six or eight feet.
Some springs the ice came over and crushed the pipes and made holes in them, so
that gas comes out all over. Of course the outside casing is all right, and nothing
escapes through it.
Mr. Von Hamerstein expressed the opinion that the hole could be plugged by an
expert in the business, but it would be a difficult job. Mr. Von Hamerstein had no
doubt that this is the biggest gas well on the face of the earth. He had a gas expert,
a Mr. Chamberlain, from Petrolia, who told him that it was the biggest well in the
world. Mr. Chamberlain operates in Indiana, Kansas, and all over the United States,
and is the largest operator in the natural gas business.
The gas is escaping continually, but sometimes the flow is heavier than at others.
On account of not having been cleaned out for eleven years the dirt and mud soaks,
the suction- of the air causes a cave-in of the ground, and it falls down. Witness had
seen the gas jet go 80 feet in the air. If the flow were not of such enormous strength
it would djown itself. Witness had never known a gas well in the world to act like
that. ' '
On the Peace river there is evidence of natural gas also, small amounts of tar
and also evidence of petroleum. That would be sixteen miles from Peace Kiver Cross-
ing, on an island called Tar island. The natural gas springs there throw out small
amounts of tar, and about 30 miles from the mouth, on the north shore, there is also
a tar spring. It is what Mr. Von Hamerstein would call an oil spring or tar spring,
and he had been in communication with i)eople that have money invested in the oil
boring business, and was at liberty to state that their works so far made him very
confident that they are going to have one of the biggest i)etroleum fields in the world.
There is no doubt petroleum will be found all through that country, from the Atha-
baska river to the Peace river.
In connection with their prospecting, mining and boring operations, Mr. Von
Hamerstein's parties use quantities of natural gas for lighting purposes. They light
their camps with it, and do their blacksmithing with it, and it comes in very handy.
They get the gas at all kinds of depths, and get several veins of it. They never get
petroleum without gas, as they have to strike gas before they strike petroleum, so
there must be a large quantity of petroleum there.
GYPSUM AND SILVTJR.
There are large deposits of gypsum on the southern bank of the Peace river, near
Peace Point, which is situated somewhere near the mouth of the Peace river. Very
large deposits of the same economic material are in the neighbourhood of Salt river.
Extensive sulphur deposits are found on the east side of the Athabaska river
between McMurray and the lake. It is inland about two miles, and in some places it
is found in large quantities, and beyond the lake, at several places on the east shore,
as well as the west shore of the Great Slave river. The Great Slave is nothing else
but a continuation of the Athabaska, with another name. In some places there is a
very large amount of sulphur. It comes from an old crater, in the shape of saline
watec^ eo»taining a lai^e amount of sulphur. This saline water at sjjots runs over
three or four acres, the. water evaporates, and the sulphur remains.
TAR SANDS OR ASPHALTUM.
Mr. Von Hamerstein proceeded to give some information regarding the beds of
tar sands, or ^'asphaltum,' as he called it, and as it is called in the district. These
42 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
beds occur in the Athabaska district, where petroleum seems to have broken through
the surface and soaked the ground for miles around. This substance, Mr. Von
Hamerstein explained, could scarcely be termed asphaltum. It is oil gum — something
the nature of tar. He produced a piece of this material which he had taken out
himself. There are very large deposits of this stuff in that district.
He also produced a bottle containing liquid taken from springs in the ground.
He described it as nothing else but a heavy petroleum, which comes out of the ground.
There are inexhaustible quantities of that. It has formed pools over the land which
are of considerable size in some places. In summer time it comes out in large quan-
tities, but it hardens in the winter, and of course the springs take time to get started
again. It is not flowing continuously, but flows whenever it has a chance. The cold
seems to draw it together and bake it. This is the largest quantity of petroleum
witness had ever seen in the world. This area extends from Fort McMurray for fifty
miles along the road.
When his party was boring they struck natural gas, and 150 feet of salt They
went down through a hundred feet of salt, and then they abandoned it. At this
particular place tiiey went about eleven hundred feet. They never go lower than
eleven hundred feet> because they get to the end at that time.
There are very large deposits of this ^asphaltum ' up there. Witness thinks there
is nothing like it in the world. He has been to Texas, Kansas and Indian Territory,
and has looked over the asphalt beds in California, but has found nothing to compare
with it. This ' asphalt ' does not resemble Trinidad asphalt, for this comes from a
crater, and the substance is not the same. It is not straight asx^lt ; it is nothing but
oil gum, out of which can be made asphalt. There is a large amount of petroleum in
it. He tested it himself, and got some parafline out of it. If he could obtain trans-
portation, he could apply it for practical purposes. After it is refined, and all the
foreign substances taken out of it, it can be used for road making.
Lubricating oil can be made out of it; and in fact he makes cylinder oil for
his machinery out of it, and also gets some paraffine out of it. The rest he uses for
making tar paper. This product will certainly become valuable as soon as there is
transportation. The area covered by this substance amounts to about twenty miles
Tar oil springs are found all over. You find them in one place, and then proceed
further, and you will find them again. You strike the same tar bed perhaps at a
deeper depth; sometimes you have to bore down 200 feet through the shale and lime-
Mr. Von Han^rstein remarked : ' As far as petroleum is concerned, I hare aH mjr
money put into it, and there is other people's money in it, and I have to be loyaL
As to whether you can get petroleum in merchantable quantities, that is a matter
abput which I would not care to speak. I have been taking in machinery for about
three years. Last year I placed about $60,000 worth of machinery in there. I have
not brought it in for ornamental purposes, although it does look nice and home-like.*
Mr. Von Hamerstein explained that there are sulphur beds and springs between
McMurray and Lake Athabaska. There is sulphur and saline, &c., but on the Clear-
water river there are first-class medicinal springs. The natives have been using the
water right along, and it acts very well on the bowels. It is like the well known Hun-
yadi mineral water. It is a very nice, picturesque country, and the natives go up
there and doctor themselves.
The climate in the Athabaska country is about the same as Edmonton. That was
about latitude 59. The climate in summer is nice and bright, and not too warm. It is
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 43
•cold enough in winter, yet it is a nice climate. The river breaks up and the weather
w^ts nice and warm about the end of March. The first snow last year (1906) came
about the middle of October.
Of course he had heard the claim made that in the high land the frost would
come and kill the wheat. Whether it does or not he did not know. There is only so
much land in the Athabaska district available, and the settlers pick out the best. Of
<K)ur8e in all this country you get frost in the month of July in the night. You are
liable to have it at any time. In the month of September Mr. Von Hamerstein always
blows out all his boilers and takes no chance of the pipe's freezing.
In that part of Athabaska around Fort McMurray, the settlement has grown quite
rapidly. Within the last three or four years they have a bank, a telegraph office, a
school, two good hotels, two sawmills and two churches. This has all been done in
four years. There has been a little road built up from Edmonton, and the Athabaska
land is settled up marvellously. Mr. Von Hamerstein used to run a pony post as a
private enterprise, but now there are two stages a week to Edmonton. The interven-
ing country is pretty nearly all settled. People used to let their horses go at nights,
but now it is all farms and ranches, and people who came up there did not know at
first how they could make a living.
Beyond Lake Athabaska the principal settlements are about Fort Smith, but they
are small. You might find in that district a steady population of 60 or 70; the rest
would be migratory. They make a distinction there between ' white half-breeds ' and
* Indians.* Some of the half-breeds live a white man's life, and others live like
Indians; that is, they are on the move all the time. Fort Graham is the best settle-
ment in the country, and it is a large point of distribution.
From Fort Smith, going in a southerly direction to a place called Soil river, they
have a very fine large prairie, and it extends right through to Peace Point. The
people there are not given to farming. It is against their interests, because they could
make a living much easier by hunting. People often ask why they do not farm, but
it must be remembered that in order to raiss a crop of potatoes they would have to
stay by it the whole season ; and there is more variety in hunting. But some of them
do farm and raise a few cattle. The country is difficult of access; they do not get
any new stock, and it has become badly inbred. As a result he had seen cattle there
having the head of a bull and the body of a calf. There are not very many cattle in
there; only certain natives have them, and a man with four or ^ve head of cattle is
a very rich man. Some patches of the land are very good.
Steamers are running regularly from Fort McMurray to Graham Landing; ^ye
steamers are running now. 'The Hudson Bay Company has two, the Roman Catholic
mission has two, and there are others. Mr. Von Hamerstein runs a little steamer —
a little yacht. There is an uninterrupted waterway from Fort McMurray to Graham ;
the same steamers run all over Lake Athabaska as far as Fort du Lac, and go in
certain stages of water to Vermilion. The Peace river is navigable at certain
seasons, except at the waterfall known as the Chutes, which is a hindrance. Down
near the mouth there is a place called Little Rapids, and the river broadens out three
miles, and only in the high stages of the water can you go through it. The witness
went through there twice in the first part of September in a little skiff. He could
not go through the water, and had to lift the skiff over. Some years it may be better.
44 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF MR. EMHU STEWART, OF THE CITY OF OTTAWA, AT
THE TIME SUPERINTENDENT OF FORESTRY FOR THE DOMINION
GOVERNMENT, SINCE RETIRED FROM THE PUBLIC SERVICE TO
ENGAGE IN PRIVATE BUSINESS.
Mr. Stewart explained that his knowledge of the country beyond the Saskatchewan
has principally been derived from two trips that he made, one in 1902 to the Peace
river, and during the past season (1906) down the Athabaska, dowin the Slave river,
and down the Mackenzie to the Delta, and thence across to the Yukon, and back by the
way of Dawson. In 1902 he made the journey from Edmonton to Peace river by way
of Athabaska Landing, and thence up the Athabaska river to the mouth of Little Slave
lake, through the whole length of Lesser Slave lake to the end of that lake, about 75
miles in length, the distance from Athabaska Landing to this point being about 215
miles. From Edmonton he drove to Athabaska Landing, about 100 miles, thence up
the stream to the junction of the Little Slave river, and up that river to Lesser Slave
lake, and then to the end of the lake, Buffalo bay. Thence he drove across (80
miles) to the Peace river crossing.
. As to the area of what is broadly considered the Great Mackenzie basin, but which
really includes the basins of the Mackenzie's tributaries, including the Athabaska, the
Peace, the Liard, &c., Mr. Stewart computed it as 451,000 square miles, larger by over
100,000 square miles than' the basin of the St. Lawrence and all the great lakes, and
nearly three times the area drained by both of its branches, and the main Saskatche-
wan river. The Mackenzie, from information Mr. Stewart gained there during the
sunmier of 1906, opens the latter part of May and closes the latter part of October.
That does not mean that you can take a boat and go from McMurray down and across
Lake Athabaska, and also across Slave lake as early as that. There is often ice in
the lakes when the rivers are open. This distance from Athabaska Landing to Fort
McPherson is 864 miles. He took the Athabaska river to Lake Athabaska, thence
down the Slave river, passing the junction of the Peace, down to where he had the
advantage of a steamer. There he had to make a portage of 16 miles, and then get
a steamer that took him 1,300 miles, or to be exact, 1^99 miles, according to Mr.
Ogilvie's survey, down to Fort McPherson, at the delta of the Mackenzie.
The steamer that took Mr. Stewart from Fort Smith, down the Slave, and across
the Slave lake and all the rest of the way that 1,300 miles drew five and one-half feet
The average, width of the Mackenzie 'is about a mile. Of course there are some
bars occasionally. After it receives the Peace it is an immense volume of water, but
there are no falls below the Slave river ; none on the Mackenzie at all, but there is very
swift water. The Mackenzie river has not the drainage area of the Mississippi, but it
has a greater drainage area than the St. Lawrence above Montreal. Taking the St.
Lawrence down to the gulf it is a little larger than the Mackenzie, taking all the
tributaries. For nearly the whole 10,000 miles of the Mackenzie it is so rapid that it
is impossible to row a boat against the current. Mr. Stewart did not think it would
be six miles an hour, but' he pointed out it is very hard to row even against four miles
an hour and make any headway. The banks of Uie Mackenzie are wooded all the way.
Mr. Stewart produced before the committee samples of some of the grains that are
grown at the end of Lesser Slave lake. One was a sample of hulled barley, grown for
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 45
the use of the mission schools, another, wheat from Lesser Slave lake, a third, another
quality of wheat from the Koman Catholic mission at the end of Lesser Slave lake
grown that year (1902). These exhibits were principally from the farm at the end of
Lesser Slave lake. The Koman Catholic mission there has a very large farm and
stock, and grain is grown there by others as well.
Mr. Stewart had no idea of the return they get per acre) but thought likely
about the same as they get on the prairie. The soil is similar. On his drive across
to the Peace river crossing, Mr. Stewart found that the land is generally a pretty heavy
clay. He saw grain grown this side of the Peace river crossing, about 20 miles from
it. It was about September 20 when he was there and the grain had not ripened. It
had been sown late, but from appearances, if it had been sown earlier there would have
been no diflSculty in having it ripened. There was a good berry beyond the milk stage,
but not far eonugh advanced to be safe from injury by frost. Mr. Stewart did not
know whether that field of grain will ripen in time to escape the fall frosts on that
upland. Mr. Stewart said he had noticed in discussions on the Peace river that there
was not enough distinction made between the valley of the Peace river and the table-
land above. There is a high level country, and all at once it drops down some 600 feet
to a valley. He thought the difference between the height of the banks and the water
at Peace river crossing is something like 600 feet. In that valley there is no question
at all about the wheat rii)ening. The witness produced some specimens of grain grown
in the valley near Peace river crossing; also some tobacco grown there.
The width of the Peace river valley is very narrow, not over two miles at the
Crossing. The soil is good, perhaps a little heavy, with the exceptiton of a few miles
which is light and covered with jackpine. The rest is good agriculture land. There
would not be a great quantity of it in the valley of the river at that part. The alti-
tude is pretty high, but down the river towards Vermilion it lowers, and probably
the elevation of the upland there would not be greater than the level of the water at
Peace river crossing. The grain-growing capabilities of that plateau all depend on
the elevation. Peace river district is an immense country extending some 600 miles
from the mountains to the lake. Down at Vermilion Crossing they raise large quanti-
ties of wheat. Of course if you go up to a very high altitude you cannot expect to
have the same result, but the wheat witness saw on the plateau above Peace river was
uninjured on September 20. But there was frost that night. Witness did not know
whether it was enough to kill the grain. However, if they had no frost up to Septem-
ber 20, there should be no trouble ripening grain there, because it ought to be fit for
harvesting before the end of August. The wheat in question was sown by an Indian
and put in very late.
Along the Athabaska the country is composed of a succession of rolling hills,
and there is a good deal of light soil. The valleys are very good, and Mr. Stewart
understood that the country through by Lake Waubascow, all the way to Lesser Slave
lake, is through a good district of country. Through this district there is good land,
— perhaps not all the way through. Along the Athabaska the country is light, second-
class land, but Mr. Stewart found at Calling river, some sixty miles below the Land-
ing, a man raising wheat there. He says he raises as good wheat as can be grown,
but Mr. Stewart would not consider from the appearance along the banks that there
was the same alluvial deposits that are found further north. After leaving Lake
Athabaska there is rock along the Athabaska, but there are plains, said to be good
land, extending from Slave lake down to the Peace river. It is in this district that
the wood buffalo are, and that would indicate that they get grasses on which they
subsist. Below Fort Smith there is a deposit of alluvial soil very similar in appear-
ance and in character to that of the- prairie, extending as far as the Rocky mountains
below Fort Simpson, and even along the valley then all the way down as far as Mr.
Stewart went. It was a surprise to him.
46 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
NORTH OF GREAT SLAVE LAKE.
Mr. Stewart was at Fort Providence on July 15, 1906. Fort Providence is near
Slave lake, on the Mackenzie river, in latitude 61 ;25. This is 917 miles by travelled
route from Athabaska Landing, but as near as Mr. Stewart could calculate it, about
660 miles, further north from Edmonton. He saw there on July 15, wheat in the
milk, potatoes in flower, peas fit for use, tomatoes, turnips, rhubarb, beets, cabbage,
onions, and other garden vegetables.
The tomatoes were not fully formed, and witness did not think they ripened. They
grew them under glass. The strawberries ripen at any time; in fact they had ripe
strawberries before that, also raspberries, currants, gooseberries and saskatoons. The
wheat that Mr. Stewart saw there was just in the milk. He inquired when it was
sown, and was told May 20. It seemed incredible, until it was remembered that there
is scarcely any darkness during sununer there. There was about 20 hours' sun each
day, and the heat was greater for several days than anything Mr. Stewart had ever
experienced in Ottawa. Along the lower Athabaska and at Fort Chipewyan, Mr.
Stewart and his fellow travellers had it over 100 in the shade for several days. There
was a thermometer on the steamer in the shade. Perhaps the heat was greater on the
boat than it would have been ashore. Certainly it was exceedingly hot weather, and
continued all night. Thore was very little night at that time. That Arctic heat was
something quite unexpected. The hot wave extended down to the Arctic sea that
year, as Mr. Stewart ascertained from Indians who had come from Rampart House,
near the Alaskan boundary, to meet the steamer, the Wrigley, He returned with
them instead of coming back with the boat, and they lost two of their dogs from the
heat, and that in the Arctic circle.
From his observations along the river, that portion of the Mackenzie he travelled
through presented a better appearance than the Athabaska basin. He did not see
much hay around Slave lake. He was not travelling through the country there.
Asked if he would care to follow farming around Slave lake, the witness remarked
that he was not optimistic, but would not care to express an opinion on that because
his visit consisted in just running through the country. His principal object wafe to
see the timber, but he took notes of everything else as far as he could.
THE FARTHEST NORTH.
Fort Providence is at latitude 61 :25, and Fort Good Hope is north of the 66th
degree, or about 360 miles further north. Fort Good Hope, in latitude 66 :16, is 970
miles further north than Edmonton, yet Mr. Stewart saw cabbages, onions and other
garden vegetables growing in the gardens there. Beyond this he did not see any until
he got to Fort Yukon. When you get beyond Fort Good Hope the frost is so near the
surface of the ground that it is pretty hard to raise anything. At Fort Macpherson,
and in that neighbourhood where the portage is crossed, you are on frozen soil. The
vegetables at Fort Good Hope looked as good as any others. The soil there was very
The name of the fort which is nearest to the mouth of the Mackenzie is ^ Point
Separation.' It is not on the Mackenzie, and was so named because it was there that
Sir John Franklin and Dr. Richardson separated on Franklin's memorable second
trip. Turning around Point Separation you come up to the Peel. There is no fort
at the mouth of the Mackenzie. The delta is flooded when the tide comes in. Mr.
Stewart was there in July.
There were no evidences of vegetation along the river that far north which would
lead the witness to conclude that agriculture could be carried on there. As far as Fort
Good Hope, on this side of that place, and around Providence, the country is a fine
one; banks twenty-five and thirty feet high, level, something like the Saskatchewan
at Prince Albert. It is a wooded country.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 47
Mr. Stewart did not observe many wild vegetables or pea vines growing about
Fort Good Hope. The country for i>ea vine is Lesser Slave and Peace river, Edmon-
ton and Athabaska and all through there. Witness did not know how far it extends
down the Peace towards the mouth. The diflSculty was that he had not opportunities
of travelling much through the woods. He gathered information and took photo-
graphs of the timber, and got views of it, but as for exploring the country and keeping
up with these things, he could not do it. There is only one boat a year, and if you
miss that you would be left altogether. The country as a whole is not explored.
Kegarding Mr. Durnford's map before the committee, he thought there should be a
great deal more yellow on it. The yellow represents the country which is not known,
and witness thought that should be extended, although we have actual information
with regard to certain points.
After returning from his first trip in 1902, Mr. Stewart wrote his annual report
to the department, and he read a few sentences therein written, as he had prepared
his report when the matter was fresh in his memory.
* The principal trees between the Rocky mountains and the plains is the spruce,
mostly the white spruce, and from its position near the prairie there is no doubt that
it will be more sought after to meet the increasing demands from that quarter.
* The country along the upper waters north of the Saskatchewan and the Atha-
baska and Peace river is partly prairie and partly wood. The varieties of timber are
principally aspen and balsam poplar, the former predominating, and white spruce.
The poplars as we go north seem to increase in size and height, and as we approach
Lesser Slave lake and between this lake and the crossing of the Peace river. Below
the junction of the Smoky they grow very clean and straight trees, not over a foot or
fourteen inches, but reaching a height of 17 or 18 feet, making excellent building
timber, as well as fencing and fuel. In some parts there are stretches of good spruce
well adapted for lumbering purposes. There has so far been but little destruction
from fire in this quarter. The land is mostly level, soil excellent, and if the summer
frosts do not prevent it, the country will begin soon to settle up and there will be an
ample supply of timber for local uses, if not for export to the adjoining prairie
Mr. Stewart followed the reading of the preceding extract from his report with
the remark: —
' I never saw as fine poplar as I saw there. A considerable number of poplars
were over a foot, but a foot would be a fair average. I have seen poplar in all parts of
the prairie country, but never saw anything growing up as straight. The wheat from
Vermilion, it is said, took the first prize at the Chicago exhibition.'
The Hon. Mr. Lougheed added : ' Yes, I saw it there myself.*
Mr. Stewart explained that spruce suitable for commercial purposes grows to the
Arctic sea. He was astonished to find that the limit of tree growth extended as fax
north as it does. He thought it extended probably ten degrees further north in this
district than in Labrador. The different kinds of trees that we have in the Mackenzie
basin include white spruce, black spruce, the larch or tamarack, which is found as
far north as the spruce, the jackpine and the balsam. Mr. Stewart did not see any
balsan^ in the Arctic circle; aspen, white x)oplar, balm of Gilead and birch are all
found down as far as Fort Macpherson. The natives make their canoes out of birch
bark at Fort Macpherson. The size of the timber becomes less as you get towards the
north. There is timber growing near the junctions of the Peace and Slave rivers,
probably 14 inches in diameter. Below Fort Good Hope the timber is smaller. Some
of it has been made into flooring, and lumber is made from the timber there. There
is a large supply of spruce suitable for pulp.
48 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
Mr. Stewart, replying to a question, said he thought it possible to use the poplar
wood for commercial purposes. It is very good poplar. It will make pulp, and where
it is large enough it can be sawed. It makes excellent flooring. The white poplar in
the north is of a better quality than the poplar in the Ottawa district. In the Sas-
watchewan district and in the far west it is different. In a colder climate it grows
As to the extent of the forests, Mr. Stewart remarked that wherever there was a
stream there would be a belt of timber.
Along the Athabaska river there was a very big water-power. There are the
Grand rapids and various other points 80 miles north. On the Slave river there are
about 16 miles of rapids, which constitute the interruption he had spoken of, and it
would make excellent water-power. There is no water-power on the Mackenzie after
you get below Fort Smith, on the main stream. It is an immense river two or three
miles wide, and it has been ccntracted to a mile.
FISHERIES, GAME AND FUR-BEARCSO ANIMALS.
The flsh are the whitefish, the pike, fresh herring, the Arctic trout, and in the
Mackenzie there is another very large fish. Mackenzie, the explorer of the river, not
knowing what this large fish was, called it Inconnu, and it is still termed the unknown
fish. They have shortened the word to ' conny.' Witness thought that he had seen
one of these fish four feet long, weighing forty or fifty pounds. He told Professor
Prince that it resembled the maskinonge in appearance, and Professor Prince told
him that he had contended it was not the maskinonge, but it somewhat resembles the
Asked if there are any salmon trout,' Mr. Stewart replied that iihere is a fish there
resembling it, but is not exactly like the trout. He passed over from Fort Macpherson
and cut across the mountains, but before he crossed the mountains he heard of the
fish, tiie moose and the cariboo. But after he crossed the mountains the first thing he
heard was the salmon. The Indians were hurrying home to catch the salmon. They
live 0*1 it. There is the King Salmon, the Blue Back, the Dog's Head, the Hump
Back, and the witness did not know how many others. There seemed to be a large
quantity of fish in Oreat Slave lake and Athabaska lake, whitefish principally, as far
as witness could learn, of excellent quality. Great Slave lake is a beautiful lake.
There are no fisheries carried on there.
Witness explained that he did not care to go back by the steamboat because it
would be slow travelling, and he wanted to go over new ground. There he let the
steamboat return, and went with some Indians, who had come from the Alaskan
country, Kampart House, to meet the steamboat, and were returning. He got them
to help carry his supplies over a portage 4i miles. They had a bark canoe, and for
about 400 miles he was kept sitting very still behind an Indian. Their canoes are
different from those in this part of Canada. You are only two inches out of the water
sometimes. The canoe was heavily laden, and of course he had to keep very still. The
Indians paddled fourteen or fifteen hours a day, as they were in a hurry to get home
to the salmon. They would get the salmon in the Bear river, which is a tributary to
the Porcupine going west. Of course those salmon would go to the salt waters.
The wild animals include the bear, wood buffalo, cariboo, otter, beaver (now
getting scarce), marten, fox, mink, fisher and many others. The cariboo and the
reindeer are considered the same animal. As far as witness could see, there is no
difference in species between the wood buffalo and the animal that was found on the
prairie. He did not see any buffalo while there. There are a few of them. They are
getting very scarce, and he thought measures should be taken to prevent their being
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 49
Mr. Stewart remarked that personally he had seen no wild animals. That is the
difficulty with travellers who travel by steamer in that country. In the winter the
difficulty is equally great, the dog routes being on the rivers and lakes. Where they
are not they are on the muskegs, the poorest land, and for that reason we do not get
accurate reports of the country as a whole. One of the objects that witness had been
advocating in the Forestry Association, putting it as one of the objects of that asso-
ciation, was to consider and recommend the exploration, as far as practicable, of our
public domain, dividing it into agricultural, timber and mineral lands, with a view to
directing immigration into proper channels. There is nothing this country needs so
much as a tjforough system of exploration, even in advance of slirveys, not to super-
sede surveys, but to precede them.
Asked about the minerals, Mr. Stewart explained that at the Coppermine river,
in the north, they get copper. The Coppermine river is east of the Mackenzie, and
the river gets its name from the copper which is found there. It is not much used
now; still you find certain trinkets made of it.
Then there is the coal. The coal is found at Fort McKay, on the Athabaska, and
in various places along the route. On the Slave river and before getting to Fort
Norman, he passed the banks spoken of in Mackenzie's narrative in 1789 as burning
at that time. They are still burning, and have been burning ever since, for perhaps
twenty miles along the banks. When Mr. Stewart passed the beds were burning for
a distance of about a mile on the right bank of the stream a short distance from
Fort Norman. Witness thought that these beds were a lignite or perhaps bituminous
There is iron in the Athabaska country, but the witness did not hear of it any
further. Similarly, he did not mear of much gold further down.
PETROLEUM AND TAR SANDS.
There are evidences of tar sand and bitumen all the way down to the Arctic sea,
80 he was told. He saw evidences of it in certain places. There is more or less
dence of petroleum all the way along. The tar sand area is of enormous extent.
The witness read as follows, a short report published by the Geological Survey
several years ago after an examination of the area where these tar sands occur : —
* The tar sands, the principal bitumen bearing formation of the district, are
described in a preceding part of the report. This unique formation is of Dakota age,
and constitutes in this region the basal member of the Cretaceous series. It rests
unconfonnably on the Devonian, and is exposed, overlying the latter along the valley
of the Athabaska for a distance of ninety miles. Lithologically it may be described as
a soft sandstone, the cementing material of which is a bituman or inspissated petro-
leum derived from the subadjacent limestones. The boundaries of the tar sands were
only precisely definited at a few points, but they were estimated to have a minimum
distribution of fully 1,000 square miles, where either completely uncovered or buried
beneath a part of the overlying Clearwater shale on the high lands, and exposed in the
river valleys. They vary in thickness where the section is complete, from 140 to 225
feet. The bitumen is unequally distributed through the sands, in a few places merely
staining the grains. But in most of the sections examined it is present in sufficient
quantity to render the whole mass more or less plastic. The following calculation,
which is extracted from the summary report for 1890, although it can only be regarded
as an approximation, yet will serve to give some idea of the enormous outpouring of
bituminous substances which has taken place in this region: —
60 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
' An analysis by Mr. Hoffman of a specimen collected some years ago by Dr. M.
Bell, gave by weight:
Bitumen 12 -42
Water (mechanically mixed) .* 5-85
Siliceous sands 81 :73
' A cubic foot of the bituminous sand rock weighs, according to Mr. Ho&ian,
117 '6 pound. This figure multiplied by the percentage of bitumen, 1? :42, gives 14 :69'
pounds as the amount of bitumen present in a cubic foot, or ^^ '^^%3 -7 = 22 '9 per cent
in bulk. Taking the thickness at 151 feet, and assuming the distribution as given
above at 1,000 square miles, the bituminous sands in sight amount to 28:40 cubic
miles. Of this mass, if the preceding analysis is taken as an average, although it is
probably rather high, 22:9 per cent in bulk, or 6:60 cubic miles is bitumen. The
amount of petroleum which must have been issued from the underlying limestones
to produce 6:50 cubic miles, or by weight approximately 4,700,000,000 tons of bitu-
men, cannot now be estimated, as the conditions of oxidation and the original com-
position of the oil is unknown. It must, however, have been many times greater than
the present supply of bitumen.
* The commercial value of the tar sands themselves as exposed at the surface, is
at present uncertain, but the abundance of the material, and the high percentage of
bitumen which it contains, makes it probable that it may, in the future, be profitably
utilized for various purposes, when this region is reached by railways. Among the
uses to which it is adapted may be mentioned roofing, paving, insulating electric
wires, and it might also be mixed with the lignite which occurs in the neighbourhood
and pressed into briquettes for fuel.
* The tar sands evidence an upwelling of petroleum to the surface unequalled
elsewhere in the world.
* Indications of the presence of oil in the district is not confined to the tar sands,,
as on Peace river and the Lesser Slave lake inspissated bitumen was found in a
number of places lining cracks in nodules, and at Tar island, in Peace river, small
quantities of tar are brought to the surface by a spring. Tar springs are also reported
from several other points, but their existence lacks verification. North of this distrifrt
tar occurs at intervals in the Devonian limestones exposed along the valleys of Slave
river and the Mackenzie, all the way to the Arctic ocean.'
Mr. Stewart produced samples of tar collected by himself.
On the way between Athabaska Landing and Grand Rapids, at a place known as
Pelican Rapids, Mr. Stewart saw the gas well that Mr. Von Hamerstein spoke of in
his evidence. The well was burning when Mr. Stewart was there in June, and the
roar of it could be heard for probably half a mile. Flame was issuing from it, and
there was an enormous escape of gas, though not nearly so strong, Mr. Stewart was
told, as it had been some years ago. Mr. Stewart expressed the opinion that it would
be well spent money to have that gas hole plugged. He had no doubt it could be
done. When the government undertook to bore for oil in that district one attempt
was made near Edmonton, and they went down somewhere in the neighbourhood of
3,000 feet, when the casing became wedged, or something of that kind, and they could
not proceed further. Later, another attempt was made a Athabaska Landing. They
went down about the same depth and met with the same difficulty. The object of
boring in these places was to reach the tar sands, which come to the surface as you
get far down the Athabaska river. They calculated they could reach them at a depth-
of about 2,000 feet at Athabaska or Edmonton. At Pelican Rapids, being further
down, some 120 miles below Athabaska Landing, at a depth of some 837 feet, the last
87 feet being through tar sands, the gas was struck, which prevented further sinking..
THE REGION WEST OP HUDSON BAY 51
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
The present route of communication is via Edmonton. Mr. Stewart, on his trip
last year from Edmonton to Athabaska Landing, went over the same route as he had
gone in 1902 on his way to the Upper Peace. He left Edmonton on June 2, and
Athabaska Landing on June 8, going down the Athabaska instead of up, as he had
gone before. By taking this route he was going down stream all the way to the
Arctic sea. Before going up of course the boats had to be tracked, but he had nothing
of this going down. He had a steamer to Grand Eapids, 165 miles, and from there
to McMurray had to proceed about 80 miles in boats, the river there being too shallow
and there being too many obstructions to allow of the passage of the large steamer
he had had from Athabaska Landing.
Mr. Stewart explained that he hesitated to express an opinion on the question as
to whether at some time or other there could be a railroad from Lake Athabaska to
Churchill. The distance is not over 400 or 500 miles. If that,could be accomplished
it would open an immense country. There are streams, too, running in that direc-
tion. There is Salt river running for quite a distance, but it has never been traversed.
52 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF MR. RICHARD GEORGE McCOXNELL, GEOLOGIST IN
THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY DEPARTMENT, HEARD BEFORE THE
SELECT COMMITTEE, FEBRUARY 18, 1907.
Mr. McConnell stated that he had been in the Geological Survey Department since
1879. He had traversed all over the country from British Columbia to Moosejaw, had
been down the Mackenzie and across to the Alaska boundary. He had been all over
that western district, but had not been east of the Mackenzie at all. He had been
through the country traversed by the Liard river and the Porcupine, and had been up
the Yukon, the McMillan, the Stewart and a number of those rivers.
His exploratory work had been mostly along the streams. He had, however, been
over quite a bit of the tableland. He had nearly always gone back from the river
quite a bit, 20 or 30 and 40 miles in places. From Lesser Slave lake he started on
foot with a couple of men packing, and went through aU the country between Lesser
Slave lake and Big Knife lake, a distance of about 150 miles. Then he went from
Fort Providence to Fort Rae, about 150 miles, covering a stretch of country from east
to west of about 300 miles. That was in the month of January, and the snow was
about three feet deep. He had never been as far east as the Hudson bay basin. His
mission was specially to look for minerals, but of course he was supposed to keep his
eyes open for anything. Most of the information he could give is to be found in his
reports to the department. He reported every year.
The Mackenzie river averages about a mile wide — the finest river in the world.
He thought the lower St. Lawrence carried more water in the spring, but in the
summer the Mackenzie probably carries about as much. It is a great volume of water.
He worked it out at about half a million feet a second. The river extends about one
thousand miles from Great Slave lake to the sea. It is navigable all the way, and a
boat runs from the rapids on the Slave river down to the head of the delta. There is
no trouble with sand bars, but there are occasional islands in the river.
With regard to the Peace river valley, the value of that country as far as wheat-
growing is concerned is entirely problematical. If you go there in June or July you
will come to the conclusion that it is the finest country in the whole wide world, but
witness had been there twice in August and found a heavy frost on each occasion.
Things changed very rapidly about the end of August. He did not know if there
would be frost about the same time around Edmonton, but the two years he happened
to be in that district there would be about fifteen degrees of frost at night. That is
in that cattle country, which is considerably higher than the surface of the Peace
river. There were no crops at that time. The soil in that district is splendid. It is
precisely the same as the country around Edmonton. It is just as good a country, if
not better. It might be good for the growing of hay, or in fact anything. There is
no question that the soil is good, and in June and July it is a most delicious looking
country. He went up the Wolverine and several of these rivers, and he could not say
that all that country coloured pink on the map in the committee room was agricul-
In the Peace river country he went down the Loon river, and found much of the
country in there partly muskeg; in fact the greater part of it is muskeg; but there
are patches of country covered with aspen, which is probably good for agriculture.
He went all the way down the Loon river and the Red river flowing into the Peace
river, and another unnamed stream, and found it was a prairie country down there,
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 53
tableland with only small areas of bottom land. The tableland decreases in height as
you go north. As you get down the Vermilion you get the prairie again. At Ver-
milion the country is not so much subject to frost as in the higher land. They have
grown wheat there a great number of years. In the vallew of the river the low land
on each side is fertile. There is no great quantity of it on either bank. There is
just these flats. Taking the aggregate it is a large quantity because it is a tremen-
dously long river. The valley is probably a mile wide on both sides of the river.
The wheat had been frozen in August even at Vermilion, but they always grow some
Hon. Mr. Power, as this point, asked : * As you are getting nearer the Rocky
mountains you are less liable to get frost ? '
Mr. McOonnell replied: 'I do not know. It has not been tested very much.
They have grown things at Fort St. John. Getting west you are also getting higher.
There is a grist mill at Vermilion, and a large quantity of wheat is sent there. The
wheat is all grown round there. That country is too good a country to be wasted.
The valleys are protected from the wind, and the theory is that it is less liable to
frost on account of the wind being kept away. There is a magnificent growth of grass
in the plateau, and there is hay in the marshes. It is very much the same country as
around Edmonton. It is a good place for raising cattle, but they probably would have
to feed them in the winter time, the same as they do at Edmonton. Sheep ought to
do well. They appeared to have a fair rainfall. Witness thought that as far as the
country is concerned it is very much the same as Edmonton. The country is well
Mr. McConnell concluded that a farmer might succeed there even if he could
not grow wheat, if he could get a market. That is the only thing. They grow vege-
tables right on the Arctic circle, potatoes and things of that kind. Potatoes grow to a
fair size at Fort Good Hope. With regard to the soil on the plateau, there is a cover-
ing of black mould, and the clay below that, a clay subsoil. They have the Saska-
toon berries up there, strawberies, raspberries and red currants, and blueberries. Mr.
McConnell thought the spring was earlier, if anything, than at Edmonton. He did
not know exactly when it closed up in the fall. He did not think there is much differ-
ence between the fall there and at Edmonton. The season is just about the same. It
is further west than Edmonton. The soil is also very much the same, and the condi-
tions generally are the same, except that it is a high plateau.
CHANGES IN CLIMATE.
The chairman (the Honourable Mr. Davis) here interjected the remark that when
he went to live at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, there was frost every month in the
year. Now they do not know what early and late frosts are; they never cause trouble.
Mr. McConnell. — ' You cannot predict about a country in that way. We have
the soil up there; that is one thing. I think when the country is all broken up and
cultivated it will make a difference. The rays of the sun will get into the ground.
The country up there is improving.'
As to the extent of land suitable for cultivating in the Peace river country, Mr.
McConnell said he would not call all the country coloured pink on the maps agricul-
tural land. He knows it is not, but there are aspen ridges all through that country
which may be good, but they are separated by muskegs everywhere, except on the table
prairie. You have these muskegs with solid ground in between them, and in those
places aspens grow, and where you find those poplars the land is nearly always good.
But the i>oplars do not grow to any size. The aspen is not on the prairie; it is on
the wooded country, in between the muskegs.
Besides there are occasional patches of prairie at Vermilion, following the Peace
river down, and also the Grand Prairie.
There is no large continuous prairie once you get thirty miles from Edmonton.
You go out of the prairie country. Then you simply get occasional patches of prairie.
54 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
That Grand Prairie, or North Peace country, which is about 75 miles across, is prob-
ably the largest, and there is a prairie following the Peace river about 25 miles.
That disappears as you follow down the Peace river, and the country is wooded and
partly muskeg until you get down to Vermilion. Then you get another small prairie
area there. Taking the upper stretches of the country, when you get back north, forty
miles from the river, you get into a country partly muskeg. If you were travelling
across it with horses, you would be running into a muskeg every couple of miles, and
there are ridges only a few feet higher than the muskegs, and they are nearly always
covered with poplar, and those ridges seem to be fairly good agriculture land, but they
are always separated by these muskeg lands. This musk^ is very deep. Witness
had had horses go down in it. Along all the streams you get a certain amount of good
land. There are a great many streams in that country, and in the aggregate the
amount is large.
As to the Grand Prairie, or North Peace river country, the soil is very good there.
There is a subsoil. It is a good wheat country, and in June and July it is looked
upon as the best wheat country in the world. He had noticed the i)eavine growing
in that section, and so far as he could judge from going over it, the country is a good
agricultural one, except for frosts. There happened to be some frosts both times
witness was there, but apart from that the country is certainly good. There is swamp
grass growing about the margins of the small lakes. It was after the middle of the
month of August that he experienced frost there. He did not know much about the
growing of vegetables in the Peace river country. He did not happen to be in places
where there was any farming going on, but was at Fort Providence in the autumn
and wint2red there one winter, and ate potatoes, turnips and other vegetables like
that all winter that had been grown there. That is north of the Great Slave lake.
There is a little prairie up the Liard river. It is the most northern prairie witness
The i)otatoes at Fort Providence were not large, but they were a fair size. The
potatoes grown at Dawson were of good size — good table potatoes.
THE MACKENZIE VALLEY.
Going down the Mackenzie, once you get away from the river flat you get into a
rolling country partly with muskeg, with hard ridges between. The only possible part
of that country suitable for agriculture, Mr. McConnell thought, would be the large
fiats down the Mackenzie river. It is a wide valley, but there is the same thing there :
you never know exactly beforehand what is going to happen. Certainly it does not
look like a favourable country for agriculture once you get away from the river.
The prairie on the Liard river is a little north of the 60th degree of latitude.
There is a lot of marsh hay growing around the Great Slave lake. It would be good
for feeding stock. Along Great Slave lake itself there is a large tract of flat country
which may come in some time. Most of the grass Mr. McConnell saw there was a
heavy marsh grass. It is not jointed, though there is some of that kind. He remem-
bered seeing patches of it on Hay river.
Asked as to the extent of good agricultural land in the country, Mr. McConnell
said it depended on what was called good agricultural country. He knew that at Fort
Good Hope, right down on the circle, they can raise good potatoes, because he saw
them, and there is no reason why they cannot raise vegetables all the way down the
Mackenzie as far north as that. The land on both sides of the river suitable for agri-
culture does not extend far. There are flats two or three miles wide — ^bottom flats of
the Mackenzie a mile to a mile and a half wide. Once you get up out of the valley
the country is rolling and partly muskeg. There is a large tract of that sort of
country extending as far north as Fort Good Hox)e. It is about a thousand miles
altogether from Great Slave lake to the sea, and that flat would be six to eight
hundred miles in length. *
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 65
The witness, in reply to a question by the Honourable Mr. Robertson, said that
at certain points on the flats there would be danger from floods. The floods usually
occur at certain points in the spring when the ice is breaking up. That is about the
end of May and early in June, when the ice goes out of the Mackenzie. There are
certain places where the ice jams, and forms great ice dams and backs up the river.
At Fort Simpson they were almost flooded out the spring Mr. McConnell was there.
The water rose forty feet. The jams occur about the same points every year, at the
bends of the river.
The timber through all this country is confined to large spruce. White spruce is
the main tree all through that country. You get spruce from a few inches up to two
feet through all the way along the Mackenzie, on the flats, and on nearly all the tribu-
tary streams, Mr. McConnel] found spruce at the delta of the Mackenzie river two
feet through. Of course only an occasional one grows that size. They average ten to
fifteen inches. Along the Liard there are good bunches of timber, and it is the same
with all these tributary streams. Once you get away from the flats the timber is
sparse and the trees are small. You get small black spruce on the muskegs. The
timber is simply on the flats and extends back two or three miles from the river. That
is not solidly timbered on either side of the river. The poplar does not grow to a
large tree as it does down here. It runs about three to six inches through. The rough
bark poplar grows up to a foot or more.
In the southern part of the region you find balsam fir. There is balsam fir in. the
Yukon country. Witness did not remember how far north it runs. You get the jack-
pine, the same sort of pine that grows on the prairie, in places. It grows as far north
as Fort Good Hope. You get it in patches on the sandy flats. It does not grow very
large, but some of the trees would be big enough for railway ties.
Asked if there are large flats of black spruce, Mr. McConnell explained that the
country is not forest continually like it is here, but most of the country is open wood.
Nearly all the muskegs and around the muskegs is covered with black spruce.
The Mackenzie has no rapids suitable for water-powers, but the streams flowing
"into it must have. There are groves of timber patches along the river all the way to
Taking the Mackenzie as a whole, Mr. McConnell considers that there is a good
quantity of timber, a lot of which would be fit for manufacturing into lumber. On
almost every flat there is a grove. Some timber has been destroyed by fire. Fires
have run in«places, but the timber is not badly burnt.
FISHERIES AND FUR-BEARING ANIMALS.
There are great quantities of whitefish in nearly all the lakes. Mr. McConnell
wintered at Fort Providence, just below Great Slave lake, and in ten days there were
about one hundred and forty thousand fish caught. They come into the shallow part
of the lake about September 15. They are caught by the Hudson Bay Company, the
missions and some Indians. They use fish to feed the dogs, men and everything. It
is the staple food of the country, or was, the year witness was there. They catch the
fish at all seasons, but late in the fall is the particular time for catching them for the
winter supply. They get salmon trout there also. At the Fort he had had them
weighing 15 to 20 pounds, and they told stories about catching them 40 pounds in
weight. There was one King salmon caught at Fort Providence — only one. They
also get pike or jackfish. Witness did not know about pickerel.
The inconnu is a fine fish, and is^ caught all the way along the Mackenzie and up
the Slave river as far as the rapids. It is a large fish weighing from ten to twenty
56 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
There is a lot of fur in the country — marten, fox, beaver, otter and bear. You do
not get the barren lands cariboo along the river, but once you get west to the semi-
barren land, you get cariboo in tremendous numbers. There is a herd of buffalo west
of the Athabaska, another herd north of Fort St. John, and another a little further
north. Witness does not think any person knows how numerous those herds are, but
they are not very numerous. He saw the tracks of one herd. There are large timber
wolves all through that country. He had not heard whether the wolves were destroy-
ing the young of the buflPalo.
The Mackenzie valley is not what would be called a mineral country. The only
mineral Mr. McConnell saw was small lignite seams near Fort Norman, and there
are possibilities of oil all through that country. There is a tar spring north of Great
Slave lake, and down below where Tar river comes in the oil is simply dripping out of
the shale in several places. That is real shale, or ore-bearing rock. There was no
mineral along the Mackenzie as far as he could see, except the lignite seams and oil.
East of the Mackenzie some distance, you get into the mineral country. Witness
had never been there. West of the Mackenzie you get into a possible gold country,
but the Mackenzie itself does not flow through a mineral coiintry.
In the northern portion of Athabaska and Lesser Slave lake, there are chances of
lignite seams in several of the formations there. All through that country again
there are chances for oiL Every one knows about the tar sands along the Athabaska.
There is tar there for about 100 miles to a depth of 150 to 200 feet, and several tar
springs. One is reported at Lesser Slave lake, one on the Peace river, so that all that
stretch of country is a possible oil country.
There is fine gold on the Upper Peace river, and it might possibly be found in
quantities. It is different from gold in other parts of the country. There are no
quartz seams, but gold is found in the river bars. There are iron stones connected
with the coal, which is found on some of the streams of the Upper Peace river.
Witness did not remember seeing any coal on the lower part. It is nearly all lignite.
There is salt on Salt river. There is gypsum down the Mackenzie too, but so far
away from transportation that it is not worth much. There is a very large dei)Osit of
it near Bear mountain.
Witness did not know of any sulphur in the northern country.
The winter is longer at Fort Providence than at Edmonton. The ice does not go
out of Great Slave lake on an average until July 1. That portion of the river from
Great Slave lake, down to the Liard, does not open up until about the same time, or
about the latter end of June.
The snow goes off in May, and witness remembered getting flowers on May 28
below Fort Simpson.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 57
EVIDENCE OF DONALDSON BOGART DOWUNG, B.Ap.Sc., OF THE
Mr. Dowling explained that his experience of the country under investigation
dated from a trip by Lake Athabaska through Reindeer lake and back to the
Churchill, and then through to Prince Albert, in 1892. Then in 1899 a trip through
from Fort ^ la Come down the Saskatchewan through to the Bumtwood river, touch-
ing the Churchill again below where he was before. Then he made a trip down to
James bay and through the country on the western comer of the bay.
For a great part of this country around Hudson bay and James bay, in Keewatin,
from the eastern end of Lake Athabaska eastward to Hudson bay, and southward
around the southern part of the bay, there is a sloping basin, which slopes towards the
central part of the continent, but it is not a heavy slope. It is a very gentle, undulat-
ing plain, not broken into rough hills, but mammalated, gentle rolling in every
direction. The lowest point in this would probably be in the centre of the district
outlined, the Nelson river. That river does not flow in a valley. It simply occupies
the lower portion of a depression. There is an easy depression up and down again on
both sides. The river itself does not keep a channel, but flows from one basin to
another, spilling from one lake into another, until it gets down near the bay, and then
it cuts some crevices in the limestone, which is lying just on top of the rocky country
witness had mentioned.
As to the soil, a great deal of the country has been swept clear of the old rotten
, rock which makes up our soil. This stuff has been carried away to the southern part,
and behind has been left a lot of the coarser material which goes to make up soil even
yet, but after the glacier had swept over the country it did some good by acting as a
dam, and holding back some of the water which resulted from its melting, forming
lakes in its front, and in these lakes was carried back some of the finer material which
helps to make up the soil. Thus in Manitoba we have the bed of the old Lake Agassiz,
but around James bay and Hudson bay we can assume first of all that the glacier
which swept Keewatin, and came from the northeast, swept the southern part of
Hudson bay and part of Keewatin, and stopped in the vicinity of Nelson river and
Lake Winnipeg, and so on to the south. Then before it started to retreat, another
glacier from northern Keewatin at its centre, near Chesterfield Inlet, sent ice south
along the face of its first glacier, and as it was melted back again it left a body of
water in front of both glaciers. Then we have a triangle outlined by the Nelson river
on the east, the Bumtwood river and Bumtwood lake on the west, a narrow tri-
angular strip in the Nelson river valley, between the Nelson river and the Churchill,
which is covered to a depth of 100 feet by a deposit of clay, fine clay and salt, with,
on its western side, some sand occasionally interbedded and sometimes with deep soil
along the western margin, and along the eastern more bouldery. You would imagine
those boulders had dropped over the edge of the ice into the lake and were left there.
East of the Nelson river the deposit of clay and boulders is very inconsiderable.
There is hardly any. Just what is left now is what was in the ice when it stopped —
it melted away and left the boulders and some clay there.
^ West of this clay plateau, over the country towards Ranger lake, there is a similar
.condition prevailing. The country has been swept bare, and in the depressions you
will find clay deposits with boulders. The hilltops will resemble our Laurentian hills
to the north, reddish granite with a few trees, and you see the colour of the rocks
68 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
on the hills, but in the valleys there will be soil enough to. grow most of those trees.
Now, to carry on the history of the clay deposits further- east,- 1 sh^idd'sa^ ihmt Mthen
the ice left this country it also left the southern end of Hudson bay, extending further
inland than it does at present. That is, the Hudson bay waters invaded the south-
west and south side of both Hudson bay and James bay, and of course to the north
there are some great depressions, but then we can imagine that when the ice had
disappeared Hudson bay and James bay were much larger than they are now. The
depth of water which has disappeared is just about 500 feet; that is, if you go from
the Hudson bay or James bay up the rivers imtil you get an elevation of 500 feet
above the present elevation of the bay you come to the original shore line, and that
is marked simply in this way: All the way from the bay you are passing through a
plain which is nothing but deep-sea clay, which has been deposited from the sea.
There is no doubt about that being sea deposit.
We have only two parts that are agricultural lands, that we could consider as
agricultural lands in this vicinity, and that is the triangle between Churchill and Fort
Nelson, and the strip of country around James bay and Hudson bay. The rest is only
possible in an extreme sense. It is a case of markets. There is a mission there, and
the priests have a garden.
When these two portions of agricultural land first appeared above the water, the
portion to the east was probably first. The water was drawn away and the portion to
the west came up afterwards. The history of this country cannot go back more than
ten thousand years until it gets under the water. The next movement that occurred
was that the southern part of the country was elevated, and the streams over this new
country was given a tendency to run towards the north, and they all ran in that direc-
tion, but later on streams wanted to run more easterly, and so all these streams that
are running not through that rock but through the clay belt ran in that direction
towards Hudson bay — ran to the north and turned abruptly to the right. In reference
to the history of this plain being very recent, it has this bearing, that the drainage of
that area is also new; that is that the streams having completed their valleys, the
valleys are merely straight cuts. The drainage makes some difference in the country
as an agricultural land. There is the clay, and the next thing is to make that an
agricultural country, and Mr. Dowling pointed out that its early entry gave such a
short time to drain — that is, the natural drain — ^that most of that country is drained
by ditches ; they are not river valleys but ditches, and therefore the drainage does not
extend on either side very widely.
There are then, along the river valleys, a strip of a mile or less than a mile on
each side of well-made country, covered by very fine forests, and giving rather a false
impression of the country as a whole. The centre portion between the streams is now
exactly as it was when it came out of the sea, except that it has some vegetation on it
which it had not at that time. All it needs is the drainage. That is the i)oint. The
soil and the climate are good. The same might be said of the jwrtions between the
Nelson and the Churchill.
Along the river valleys the trees are always well grown, but back from the river on
the plateaus you get into muskegs and small timber that kill the soil simply because
it is not well drained. The muskegs there are not very deep.
Around Churchill Mr. Dowling had seen timber down to the mountain. The
timber does not grow quite so large there. There is a strip all along the front of the
bay which has no timber. Back in the interior there is timber. The vegetation around
the bay is very good. You would not know that you were so far north.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 69
There is probably a good quantity of pulpwood in Grand Rapids, on Lake Winni-
peg and on the Saskatchewan river, but that country is mixed. It is spruce and
poplar, and if you go north from the Moose lake country you get away from the
poplar and you get into the spruce country, pure and simply — spruce and jackpine.
There is lots of that, and it is fairly good for pulpwood, but I do not think it will ever
grow to timber. The jackpine might be used for ties, but it is not suited for it.
Asked by the chairman as to the water-power on the Saskatchewan, Mr. Dowling
explained that there is a fall of 80 odd feet in four miles of a rapids, where the river
falls into Lake Winnipeg, and at the mouth of the rapids there is a strip of deep water
for a harbour. It is a good harbour. You could probably get a fall of 50 feet in half
a mile, and witness thought it could be made available by building a canal on the side.
It is a large stream, about the same size as the Ottawa. In the fall it is Iqwer than
the early spring, except the fall of 1899, when it rose 25 feet and swept the
explorers out of the country. You could not develop as large an amount of power
there as you could in Ottawa, because it is not so well situated. At Ottawa there is a
group of islands where the water can be divided, but at the Grand Eapids there is a
narrow channel running around the horseshoe bend, and the country on both sides is
much higher than the river. The river is down in a deep cut. If the channel could be
put across the bank, directly across the bend, then there would be an immense water-
power. Bu building a very large conduit, and probably a tunnel through there, a
large power of water could be obtained.
PISH, GAME AND FUR-BEARING ANIMALS.
With reference to the fisheries, small whitefish come to the shores of James bay,
also herring and some other fish witness did not know, but all the rivers are abound-
ing with whitefish, perch, dore and jackfish. Some of the upper, larger streams have
With regard to fur-bearing animals, that is probably the richest part of the
Hudson Bay Company's preserves. Their mink, and formerly their beaver and marten,
or a great percentage of them, were from this part of the country. The killing of
beaver is prohibited, so that now there is no shipment of beaver. The blackest beaver
and the whitest beaver witness had ever seen came from near the Lake of the Woods.
In the country down near the bay there is less beaver, and more of the nomadic
animals : that is, the wolves, foxes, martens and otters. Witness did not hear of many
lynx in this country, but there are a large number of them further west. They are
probably more partial to the dry country. It is a great country for foxes. They seem
to be able to live on the sea birds and mice. They can live where the minks cannot
There are a number of cariboo, and there are a lot of moose from the west side of
Lake Winnipeg. The moose are now getting into the upper part of the country.
Witness thought that the north of Lake Winnipeg was better supplied with moose and
cariboo than the eastern side. The musk-ox would be found in this country. Witness
saw five bears in this district, ' but that may have been just luck.'
MINERALS OF KEEWATIN.
With reference to minerals, the country is not rich in that regard. Most of the
country passed through is covered by granite, so that you do not expect to have any-
thing very rich. There are some iron ores in the vicinity of Stoon Mill lake, west of
the James bay and south of Hudson bay. Theire are three or four areas in the country
60 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
of the Saskatchewan that have some Tock, such as at the Lake of the Woods and
Cobalt, and the rich mineral country — the Huronian rocks. It takes time to find
minerals. This first area he spoke of is only 40 or 60 miles northeast of Cumberland
House, on the Moose river. The area in question lies north of Athapapuskow, Cran-
berry lake, and Red lake, as well as Wabishkoka lake. There is another area of the
same rocks on the Nelson river, crossing the Grass lake and running through the Pipe
Stone lake. There are probably some minerals in those rocks. Outside of that you
will not find anything of very great importance.
The character of the rock at Lac La Eonge, north of Prince Albert, is limestone
This country is just in a wide limestone district, starting from Lake Montreal, which
is on a cutaneous hill. From Montreal lake to Lac La Eonge you go down stream at
a great pace, running down through sandy beds, and a great mass of stuff which you
could never get through. When you reach Lac La Eonge you are down to limestone.
Between those two there are all those rocks which carry coal oil or i)etroleum in the
Athabaska country. There is a line of hills here, that are so covered by the sand and
gravel that nothing can be told about what there is in them till they are explored by
boring or digging.
Mr. Dowling being asked if there are any indications of the rock containing
any material used for making cement, replied that in that country there are only two
places that he knew of where the right kind of lime could be got. It is clay and
shale. You must have the limestone free from magnesia. The two places he referred
to are in Manitoba, Split Eock, on Lake Manitoba, and some little island in Swan
lake, near Dawson bay. There is an island on the lake with pure limestone, and a
point on Lake Manitoba. The limestones of Lake Winnipeg and all the other lakes
are too high in magnesia.
Witness knew nothing about the coal seams at Lac La Eonge, but he had seen
coal there. If there is a coal seam it is on the hill above the level. At Lac La Eonge
there is limestone in the bed of the lake. The coal is up above the limestone. If
there is coal there, it must have been discovered on the river running into Lac La
Eonge, because Lac La Eonge is too low. You have to go up a hill to get coaL
There have been no indications of oil along that country of the character of the
Athabaska oil. In some of the higher lakes above the Athabaska the oil had been-
There is iron ore and the i)ossibility of gold and silver ore, and also copper ores
in the Grass river district. There is no asbestos. With reference to mica, it can be
found all over that country, but it is in small pieces. It is not likely to be very large
at Stanley. Witness would hardly exi)ect a large piece of mica to be found there.
There are some amber deposits near the mouth of the Saskatchewan river. It is all in
small bits like pieces of resin ; in fact that is all it is. It is resin brought down by-
the Saskatchewan river, and left there. It is not a very valuable mineral, too hard
and brittle to be used for pipe stems or anything of that sort. There was talk about
it at one time, but it is all over now.
Witness heard nothing of petroleum being discovered north of Cumberland'
House. It takes time to find it.
With reference to the climate, witness did not care to say very much, because he
had only been in the country in the summer time, and without having t^ken records
of temperature it would hardly do. The country was in a flourishing condition, and
they never expected to have anything frozen. The most northerly point where he had
seen vegetable products in Keewatin was on the Nelson river about 56, which would
be 180 miles north of Churchill.
At Churchill they had winds from the southwest all summer long, which made it-
very warm, but there were two days when the wind shifted and came from the north,.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 61
and people wanted their overcoats at once. Then the warm weather returned. It did
not freeze, but it was very cold. It was very pleasant in the summer. Sometimea
there are very heavy rainfalls, but witness was fortunate in having dry summers. He
had a couple of showers. However, it is not a very dry climate.
MEANS OP COMMUNICATION.
Asked by the Honourable Mr. Bemier as to whether there would be any possibility
of having harbours and ports on the southwest side of Hudson bay and James bay,
Mr. Dowling explained that there are natural harbours on the east side, but on tiie
west side it would be difficult to have harbours. It is very shallow all the way through,
from the southern end of Hannah bay to Churchill. There is a good harbour at
Churchill. At Churchill you get to the rock. South of that, when the tide rises five
or six feet the shore line changes six miles.
The salt water permeates the Hudson bay from the ocean right up to the mouth
of the Moose river. Witness thought the reason of that was on account of the tides.
The regular shape of the opening permitted it.
The harbour at Churchill is a land-locked harbour, with rocky points on both
sides, not a very wide entrance. The only complaint about it is that the entrance is
too apt to be crowded with ice in the spring. The ice is driven in with the tide in the
CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF OWEX O'SULUVAN, C.E., OF THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY,
HEARD BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE, FEBRUARY 20, 1907.
Mr. O' Sullivan explained that in 1904 he was engaged as assistant to Mr. Wilson,
in examining the west coast of James bay. They went up the River Kapiseau for 150
miles and surveyed it, and found mostly swampy ground, right to about the head-
waters of the Kapiseau, longitude 86. His impression was that the whole coast from
the southern extremity of James bay, at the mouth of the Hurricane, up to Cape
Henrietta Maria, for an average of 100 miles in depth, is mostly swampy ground. It
is partly peat and wet spagnol, wet moss. There is a bluff of small spruce here and
In 1905 he was sent to survey the coast between York Factory and Cape Henri-
etta Maria. The Factory is situated on the nortth bank of the Hayes river, which is
quite close to the mouth of the Nelson. The waters of both rivers go into Hudson
bay together. Unfortunately the ice stopped him at Cape Tatnam fro mJuly 1 until
July 18. He could not get along the coast with his canoe and camping outfit. The
ice was held there by a north wind. The wind would take it along the bank. It was
on an average of about four feet deep at that date, from July 1 to 18, 1905. It
extended as far out in the bay as the eye could reach. It was floating ice, driven by
the wind right up along the bank, and very dangerous. He thought a properly con-
structed steamer could have broken through. It was all broken up, floating ice. It
was very dangerous with a canoe. Witness had to keep clear of the pieces when the
tide was coming in or going out. The shore is very flat, and the tide runs out three
or four miles, and sometimes he would be stuck. When he would be taking his course
on distance with the chronometer, his canoe would be left dry in the mud and the
tide running out. He went as far as Fort Severn. That is half-way between York
Factory and Cape Henrietta Maria. He left there on August 4, and could still see
the ice at sea.
The shore between York Factory and Cape Henrietta Maria was swampy as far
inland as he could walk in two or three days.
Mr. O'Sullivan testified that during the summer of 1906, he started from Split
lake, on the Nelson, and made for the headwaters of the Little Churchill river, going
down the Little Churchill to the Big Churchill. The country between Split lake and
Big lake is mostly swampy.
The country about Big lake is a good loamy soil, with easy slopes surrounding
the lakes. From Big lake to the Big Churchill the country is rocky and swampy,
with a good deal of good loamy soil in places — a rich clay loam. The rock is mostly
granite and gneiss. It is very hard to find out whether it is suitable for agriculture
on such an expedition. It is hard to know the extent of the soil, but the witness
thought the climate was suitable. There were lots of boulders all through the country.
It is possible to cultivate what there is of the land. There are places where the land
extends to the size of a dozen townships, and then there would be three or four times
that much without having in it enough land for a good-sized township.
In the vicinity of Churchill there is grass in the valleys of very good quality. It
occurs about half-way down the Little Churchill.
Good potatoes are raised at Split lake. Witness had a bag of jwtatoes grown
there. They were rather small, but very tasty. That was in June, and they were
grown the previous year. Split lake from the coast, by the Nelson, would be about
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 63
175 miles. Witness went down the Nelson river and north to Churchill. The general
character of the country from James bay further north is good, agriculturally. The
country from Split lake rises to Wabishkok about 200 feet. That is about 30 miles in
a straight line.
Besides potatoes, witness had seen turnips, cabbage and lettuce growing, and all
appeared to be very good. The potato vines in September were touched with frost
rather severely. The potatoes were taken up on August 23 and 25, 1906.
The witness stated that he had been up near the head of Lake Winnipeg, where
the river leaves the lake. There is good agricultural land around there. He never
had such good potatoes as at Cross lake. He did not see them growing, but had them
in June and also in September. The June potatoes would be the previous crop, and
the September ones possibly the new crop. They do not grow any grain there. They
have no cattle. There are no settlers in there. The Hudson Bay factor raised the
I)otatoes. He had just enough to keep his own family. He had them in three or
four different quarters. Witness saw lettuce and turnips growing at Churchill. They
attempted to grow some potatoes, but he did not think they made a success of it last
year, .but if the potatoes were planted and taken care of they would mature at
In his trip in 1906, the only timber Mr. O'Sullivan saw was at Split lake — spruce,
poplar, white birch, from 4 to 18 inches in diameter. The country between there and
Big lake is of course a swampy country, black spruce swamp, small spruce averaging
four and six inches in diameter. It would make good pulpwood. And then around
Wabishkok you get the same birch and white spruce, and so on. They are a little
larger, as large as 6 to 18 inches in some places. You get isolated groves like that.
The black spruce would average in the nice terraces, and level clay slopes from the
lake, to about 18 inches. They grow that size and more. North of that, between
there and the tree limit or the open barren ground, the country has been run over by
fire, about 40 years ago, and probably there was another fire which occurred about five
years ago, so there are no trees. The moment that you leave going down the Little
Churchill there are no trees to be seen on the heights, except on the valleys of the
river you get bunches of spruce and poplar which escaped the fire. These spruce and
poplars which are in the valleys are sometimes 20 inches in diameter.
The Cottonwood grows to about 14 inches. It is tall and very healthy looking.
The spruce trees grow pretty long, and quite a number of sawlogs could be taken out
of each tree. The soil is pretty good, but the area is small. Once you leave the Big
lake, all the way down there is no timber at all. In the valleys of all the streams there
is timber, bunches of spruce and tamarack.
At the Big Churchill the clay hills are mostly covered with moss. It has been
burned over, and you find good large spruce in the valleys of the Little Churchill
river away up to about 18 or 20 inches in diameter. But they are very few. They
are all very healthy looking trees. In the small scrub tree you get the limbs down to
about three feet from the ground.
The northern limit of spruce is 56*47 latitude north. Beyond that you get into
the barren lands.
About half-way down the Deer river we come to the open barren grounds, which
consist of moss, averaging one to two feet thick. You meet a lot of those small lakes,
and as you approach them you get this moss. You often get five or six feet of this
peaty moss overlying the ice. Eeceding from these small lakes or ponds you come
on to the ridges, which are practically all level plain. A great many of these lakes
have no outlet.
The slope of the country is so uniform and gradual that there are no steep falls,
and you could never develop any power. The Big Churchill is t6o swift to ascend.
61 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
There is a large body of water, but the river is not navigable owing to the swiftness
of the water.
Split lake has been pretty well cleaned out of £sh by the Indians and the Mounted
Police. There are lots of good whitefish in Big lake averaging four pounds. You
get sturgeon in the Little Churchill all through, some of them weighing as much as
forty gpunds. At the mouth of the Beaver river, about half-way down the Little
Churchill, the witness got fish averaging six pounds, and grey trout averaging about
four pounds. All the lakes through the country are full of fish, whitefish especially.
There are very good whitefish in all the lakes. There is no bad water in that country.
At the mouth of the Churchill river you get salmon and sea trout, all of excellent
quality. Then you get the porpoise, which is quite an item when you have to keep
dogs for the winter, at Churchill.
There are no minerals to be found between Split lake and Churchill. There is
nothing in the rocks. There may be something north of Churchill, but the witness
had not time to go there. He did not see any evidence of iron or coal between Split
lake and Churchill. He never studied the country nearer. Lake Winnipeg. From the
headwaters of Deer river to Churchill there is a silurian limestone.
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
Mr. O'Sullivan considered it would be easy to build a railway through the
country. The character of the land is all right until you meet the red clay hills,
where he left the Great Churchill at the junction of the Little Churchill to get to the
headwaters of the Dee river. There are hills rising from 100 to 300 feet above the
level of the Great Churchill river which have to be crossed. He did not see any
seriously difficult point in getting a good line of railway from Spit Head to ChurchilL
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 65
EVIDENCE OF WILLIAM MoINNES, M.A., GEOLOGIST, OF THE GEOLOG-
ICAL SURVEY, GIVEN BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE, FEBRU-
ARY 20, 1907.
Mr. Mclnnes stated that he has been employed in the Geological Survey since
1883. The regions in the west with which he is familiar, first the district between
the Saskatchewan and Split lake, on the Nelson, a country which he was over last
summer, and secondly, the region lying between the west coast of Hudson bay and the
northern part of Ontario, Lake Nipegon and the Lake of the Woods.
The whole region from Split lake to a line of about 40 miles north of the Sas-
katchewan is a clay-covered country.
The witness passed through this country, went by the Burntwood river, and came
back by part of the Grassy river, and made a number of excursions inland between
these two rivers. After leaving Split lake, ascending the river, this clay-covered
country shows absolutely no boulders and no gravel. Even the shores of the lakes,
until you reach a height of about 800 feet, show no gravel bars at all.
There is absolutely nothing to interfere with the cultivation of tiie soil there. It
is a country that has been burnt over. . Witness assumed that the Burntwood river
got its name that way. It has been subject to repeated bums. At the present time it
is covered by a very open forest. Grasses grow fairly luxuriantly. There are two
species of tiiis, blue joint grass and a wild rye, that are the prevailing grasses. He
understood, though he was not very familiar with the grasses himself, from Professor
Macoun, that these are very excellent meadow grasses, and make excellent fodder.
Mr. Mclnnes left Norway House in the second week of June, and made the cir-
cuit and came out at the Pas on September 6, so it was June, July and August he
was there. He saw grass growing from eighteen inches to two feet high.
The witness computed the area of this country at about 10,000 square miles. He
does not mean to say that all of that ten thousand square miles is good land, but the
basin characterized by this deposit of clay has an area of about ten thousand square
miles. It is bounded on the north by the Churchill river. The witness was at about
the centre of the basin. The Indians told him it extended north to the basin of the
Churchill river. Beyond that, northwards, instead of clay you get mud and gravel.
Starting at the Pas and proceeding towards Churchill the witness first passed
through about 140 miles of country underlaid by the flat limestone of northern Mani-
toba. He walked for miles over hills of almost bare limestone with hardly any soil.
Beyond that — that is about the contour he had spoken of where this clay was
deposited, there is about 170 miles to Split lake, possibly in a straight line about as
the railway is projected, that is characterized by these clay deposits.
AS TO THE FLAT COUNTRY.
As to the fiat country in Keewatin, beyond this clay area, it is a country of a
different character. The witness proceeded from the Albany across country by the
portage route to a large lake on the Agnooski river 100 miles, and then another 100
miles across to the Winisk lake, and down the Winisk river to the sea, and he crossed
through the country between Agnooski and Winisk by three different routes, perhaps
40 or 60 miles east and west between each route, and the country is very much the
same character. It is a country that is very much denuded ; that is to say, the orig-
inal archaic rocks have been worn down to almost a plane. The elevations are very
moderate. The only elevations to be seen are of glacial origin. They are old boulders
66 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
and gravel. The country generally is characterized by these hills of boulder and
gravel and intermediate valleys very largely muskeg. Except in the immediate vaUeys
of the larger rivers there is very little land that would be suitable for agriculture,
very little indeed, and that is a characteristic of the whole country Mr. Mclnnes was
over; that is of the upper waters of the Agnooaki and the Winisk rivers and down to
about 150 miles from the sea. From the point specified, down to the sea, the country
is of an entirely different character again ; that is to say, it is country that is origin-
ally overlain by from a very few feet at its edge, to 100 feet or more, of boulder clay
of a very tough impervious boulder clay, which holds up the water, and on which the
drainage, up to the present time, is of a very imperfect character. The present drain-
age of that area is comparatively recent.
There is overlying this boulder a marine clay which holds very well defined
marine fossils, some of the shells quite as well preserved as you will pick up on the
seashore to-day. The witness picked up some of these species which showed that
subsequent to glacial time that country up to the 450-foot limit was down in the sea.
A GREAT KEEWATIN RIVER.
The present drainage has only had since that time to work itself out, and has not
yet become very perfect. An instance of that is seen in this Winisk river. There
is a lake under the head of the Winisk from which the main river flows, and from
which the west branch flows north. They come together at a point, following the main
stream, 260 miles below, inclosing an island 250 miles long. There are two other
islands of this character along the Winisk river, one 80 miles and the other about 50.
It is a. good large river. Mr. Mclnnes estimated it in cubic feet per second, some
25,000 cubic feet per second. It runs in size somewhere between the Gatineau and
the Ottawa, not as much as the Ottawa quite, but larger than the Gatineau. Over
the whole of the country, the last 150 miles down to Hudson bay, granting the proper
climate and granting proper drainage, this green clay would make an excellent soil.
In fact it is quite the same as the clay in the vicinity of Ottawa, practically clay of
the same soil. It is very impervious clay, and the country is extremely fit, except for
the moderate slope down towards the bay, and it occurs in east and west undulation,
so that there is no drainage except by the larger rivers down to the bay. There are
little streams running into the sides of the river, but they cut very sharp walled
trenches, sometimes 80 feet, as steep as boulder clay will stand, and that means an
angle of say 60 degrees, 80 to 90 feet high. You get on top of these banks and you
have a mossy place, sometimes 6 feet of moss. It is never peat; never having turned
into peat. It is simply a green moss which is pressed into layers of a couple of feet
thickness at the bottom of the 6 or 10 feet, but never apparently oxydized or never
carbonized at all, practically unchanged. The growth is going on still. It is merely
the successive layers which are pressed down by subsequent layers on top of them, so
that in places the thickness is quite 10 feet. The first week in August Mr. Mclnnes
got down to the sea-coast and spent a month there. There was an ice barrier when
he reached Hudson bay, off the mouth of the Winisk river. It had grounded about
five miles out. • It is very shallow water. It extends out four or five miles exceedingly
shallow, the large boulders sticking out in high water. In low water there are exten-
sive mud flats running out four or five miles from the shore, and the company^s fish-
ing boat had to make a circle of eight miles out of the bay before they could run up
There are no grasses in that mossy district in the valley of the Winisk. A river
of that size in places has some shores, perhaps a quarter of a mile, here and there,
beyond the actual shore of the river, and it is grassy there. That is, there are occa-
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 67
sional bottom lands, but there is no extent of them. The witness did not think there
is an agricultural country in that eastern district. It is entirely different from the
eMHmtry he had been previously speaking of.
Upon the Nelson river wheat has been grown successfully at Norway House, and
also at Cross lake. Of course, he could see that they grow no grain at any of their
posts nowadays. In the old days they grew it and ground it in hand mills. Witness
saw potatoes that were grown about 50. miles north of the Pas. There were quite
showy potatoes, great large fellows like those you see exhibited in fairs — ^tremendously
large, grown on practically new land, and they had a very large crop of them. Mr.
Mclnnes did not eat any of them. The Nelson has its source within 40 miles of the
There are no settlers in the Nelson district. The Indians, however, grow potatoes
at several points, even in the northern part of it, as far north as Nelson House, about
latitude 55. On July 11, when the witness arrived at Nelson House, the Indian pota-
toes had vines about eleven inches high, and were almost ready to flower. When he
got out on September 6 to the Saskatchewan, at the Hudson bay post there, at the
Pas, Indian com was very well headed out, with very large fine ears quite ready for
table use, and there was no frost until September 29. He knew that because he stayed
there until then.
With eighteen hours of the day light, and no frost in the summer, vegetation is
rapid. In a country where you can ripen Indian corn you can grow practically any-
Mr. Mclnnes drew the attention of the committee to the fact that there is a very
large area inmiediately adjoining the Saskatchewan river from a little this side of
Prince Albert, clear down to the mouth of the river, of very swampy land. In fact
for a long time they thought they could not build a railway in to the Pas on that
account. It occurred to Mr. Mclnnes going down that stretch of country that the only
thing that has prevented the Saskatchewan draining this area is the occurrence at the
mouth of the Saskatchewan of what is known as * the Grand rapids,' with a fall of 100
feet. This fall is in length a distance of about SJ miles or thereabouts, and Mr.
Mclnnes suggested that there is a possibility that these marshes might be done away
with by blasting out the rock, thus increasing the speed of the river and lowering the
basin of the Saskatchewan and draining that swampy country. It would bring into
cultivation a great many thousand square miles of as fine land as could possibly be
found. It is all alluvial land of the best possible character.
The western part of Keewatin has evidently from all accounts been a country of
good timber generally, but unfortunately it has been almost all burned over, and
burned over a good many times, so that at the present time the only areas of good
timber that the witness knew of are the area north of Moose lake, the area west of
Clearwater lake, and the area between Cormorant and Yamstone lakes. He made
cross-sections in that country several times, and he found white spruce, and the largest
tree he found was 30 inches in diameter. That was the largest tree. He would say
most of those trees make three 14-foot logs because they are growing thickly, and it is
a regular white spruce timber limit. There are a great many from 10 inches up to
23 inches. That is an area about six miles long by two or three wide, and going
through that there are areas of swamp. He cross-sectioned through it, and would
come to a quarter of a mile of good trees, and then perhaps half a mile of swamp land
with black spruce, and half a mile of good trees right across. North of that point
ttreretiy e only a few isolated areas of timber that had escaped the fire. On the islands
and lakes there are pretty good timbers, and on some little peninsulas that are nearly
cut off; otherwise it has all been burnt.
68 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
At Nelson House, in order to do some building, they had to go up the river
some ten miles and pick out a log here and there before they got enough to put up a
house. There is a great deal of timber that would be fit for pulpwood. The black
spruce, which grows to 8, 9 and 10 inches, covers practically the whole ground. Where
it has had thirty or forty years' growth it gets up 5 or 6 inches through, and it is a
very peculiar timber. The yearly growth is very small. It is packed very closely
together, and it would make excellent timber. It would yield more fibre than the
There have been a great many fires up there. Timber of large enough size to saw
into deals and boards, such as are used in building, is confined to within a very few
miles. The missionary priests at Albany go to church at the mouth of the Winisk,
and the church is constructed from lumber that they sawed from trees cut a few miles
up the river. In the swampy portions of course it is entirely black spruce and tama-
rack, and generally small size, 6 to 8 inches. A very great deal of it would make
pulpwood, and on the drier ridges of boulders and gravel there are white birch and
poplar, but these are not of any commercial value. The northern limit of white pine
is found just about the Albany river. The northern limit of spruce is reached at
FISHERIES AND GAME.
All the larger lakes of this country abound in very good whitefish. The lakes
within convenient distance of the Saskatchewan have already been commercially
fished. It is extraordinary how far they have been able to haul these fish out. In the
winter season they haul them one hundred miles. There are two companies carrying
on the fisheries. One has headquarters in Winnipegosis, and the other at West Sel-
kirk. One of them is the Dominion Fish Company, and he thought the other the
Northwest Fish Company. They have privileges from the Dominion government, and
they fish under license, it being in the territory outside of Manitoba and the new
provinces, which has not yet been assigned to any other province.
The companies hope this winter that the new railway will reach the Pas, and one
of the companies is putting an extensive plant in the lakes near the Pas, hoping to
send out the fish by rail, but they had already fished those lakes and hauled their fish
in the winter all the way down to Winnipegosis and across Cedar lake, over 100 miles.
Chicago is the market. The principal fish are whitefish and lake trout.
There are many other lakes in that country which contain valuable fish such as
the witness described. Split lake, for instance, is about 30 miles long by 3 to 8 miles
in width. If that country were opened up by railways there would be a considerable
business in exploiting the fisheries, because the sturgeon is valuable. They would
get the sturgeon oh the Lower Nelson and part of the Churchill. The companies put
on steamers on these various lake expansions on the Nelson, so that they reached
down to within a few miles of Split lake, and marketed sturgeon in that way. They
put tramways on all the portages. They ran that way for a couple of summers, but
the distance was too great and it did not' pay.
The larger lakes have a very good whitefish and sturgeon. The head of the
Adawadskit was particularly full of sturgeon. Going out Mr. Mclnnes' party was
short of pork and stopped one day to get supplies. In one night's fishing the Indians
caught so much sturgeon that they had enough to carry them for 150 miles to the
Hudson bay post. One of the sturgeon was three feet long.
At the mouth of the Winisk the Indians were catching speckled trout and white-
fish in very large numbers. In fact the Indians of all that interior country live on
fish. They smoke and dry them to a limited extent, and late in the autumn catch
them before the larger lakes are frozen over, when the temperature is low enough to
freeze the fish. They catch nough to put by for the winter. The fish are sent to
Chicago frozen. It is only in the winter season they have that trade at all. They fish
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 69
the nearer lakes all summer and only reach the far away lakes in the winter. They
have large icehouses and regular freezers for the summer trade. Ordinarily on those
lakes they are able to pay on an average about four cents a fish, or about two cents a
iwund. The Indians catch fish and sell them to the companies, but they have com-
plained sometimees of the fishing companies going in there. The Indians are not
interfered with by the companies as to the catching of fish for their own use, but they
claim that the Indian cannot sell to any one but the companies having the leases. The
companies are very glad to get the fish. The companies make their own bargains
with the Indians.
As to the fisheries of Hudson bay, the witness only knew from his own knowledge
that at the mouth of the Winisk they were only catching river fish — speckled trout
and whitefish. Porpoise were very plentiful about the mouth of the river, but he saw
no other fish. He did not think there were any salmon on the west coast of the bay.
Ducks were fairly plentiful. The geese do not nest in that interior country. They
go down along the coast. Witness knew by the descriptions that there are a great
many lagoons lying just inside of the shore, along the west coast, where ducks and
geese nest in countless thousands. The wild geese live on all sorts of little shell fish,
water beetles and crabs, and many seeds of water plants other than wild rice. He
remembered shooting mallards in that country, and their crops were full of litttle
bivalve shells about the size of his nail. The geese are not fish-eating to any extent,
and neither are the mallard ducks, still they will eat shellfish.
Mr. Mclnnes explained that the forty miles of limestone he spoke of as having
passed over north of the Saskatchewan is an excellent stone for building purposes. It
has a large proportion of magnesia, perhaps 45 per cent. But it occurs in regular
layers, and can be got out in thicknesess from a foot up to six feet and in blocks of
There are only two or three belts of what is known as the Keewatin rocks. These
are the rocks which in western Ontario hold gold. The witness found no minerals in
commercial quantities. He found traces of copper on File lake. At Cross lake there
is an area of these Keewatin rocks cut by intrusive granite of the same character as
the photogene of western Ontario, which are almost always gold-bearing, but nothing
has been found there. The limestones would make excellent building material. There
are some intrusive granites on Grassy river which are of fine texture and beautiful
red colour, which would make very fine monumental stone, trimmings for buildings,
&c., and would quarry very well. That would be along the projected line of the rail-
There is no possibility of coal there. The rocks are below the coal horizon.
Some man at the Pas has discovered coal oil not far from the Pas, on Pas moun-
tain. The witness saw some of the bituminous shale that was quite impregnated with
bitumen, so much so that when some of it was submitted to a professor in Manitoba
he thought it was rich enough to extract it commercially. That is south of the
Saskatchewan, however. That is quite an overlying formation which does not extend
to the north at all.
An occurrence, which seemed to witness to be of particular interest, was his dis-
covery on the upper Winisk river of a large area of so-called norite rock. That is
the rock in which the nickel of Sudbury occurs. It is qnite a characteristic rock. Mr.
Mclnnes examined samples under the microscope, and they are not to be distinguished
from the other. That leads him to hope that there is a possibility of nickel occurring
there too, but he did not find any, although he examined as Veil as he could. But he
had not much time, and was too far away. There are two or three areas of these
Keewatin rocks occurring unfolded in the Laurentian, but Mr. Mclnnes found no
70 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
minerals in economic quantities in them at all. Neap the Eadmet river, a tributary
of the Albany, he saw crystals of mica in the granite, two and a half inches in
diameter. Of course that is not large enough to amount to much, but it shows a
possibility that there might be something better there.
When Mr. O' Sullivan spoke of limestones down the lower parts of these rivers, he
referred to limestones of the Hudson bay basin, which run perhaps forty of fifty miles
up these rivers. There is quite another basin on the other side, the intervening land
being archeean, which if they had ever been covered with limestone, of which there
is evidence now, the limestone must have been entirely eroded away. Those lime-
stones would furnish building material and could be burned into lime,
Mr. Mclnnes said he could not very closely indicate the isothermal line on the
part of the country he had explored last year, but he could say that the country aver-
aged from four to five degrees in the summer months higher temperature than the
same latitude further west. He thought that the isothermal line which would go past
the north end of the country he had been speaking of would come down as far as the
north shore of Lake Superior, which would be a very long distance south. He had
records kept during all summer of the temi)eratures through that western country,
and he had a -summary of the record kept in the preceding summers.
He was rather surprised at the warmth of that western country in summer. He
was surprised at the way heat kept up in the evenings. He kept the thermometer
readings morning, noon and six o'clock in the evening, and found the six o'clock tem-
peratures were almost as warm as the noon temi)erature8. That country has a very
long day in summer. The day in those high altitudes is very much longer, and the
growing time proportionately longer. In June they have about eighteen hours of
As to the district where he found the 170 miles of agriculural land he had
described, he only reached there about the middle of June. There was no frost in the
balance of June or in July, and no frost in August, excepting once, on, he thought,
the 29th, when the thermometer dropped just to freezing point. There was not enough
frost to touch vegetation at all in the valley of the river where he was. He noticed
when he got out to the Saskatchewan there was rather a high ridge on which there
were a lot of half-breed settlers. He got there on September 6, and noticed on top of
the hills where they had potatoes that they had been touched just on the tops, but
down in the villages the potatoes in the garden of the Hudson bay post had not been
touched at all. He presumed that frost was on August 29.
The witness had often been over the Canadian Pacific Railway between Lake
Xipissing and Port Arthur, and the country he had traversed from the Pas eastwards
as compared with the country north of Lake Superior was much superior.
There are a few half-breeds and Indians settled &t the Pas, and there are the two
Hudson bay posts spoken of. Apart from that, there are no settlers in western Kee-
watin, just wandering Indians. Of course there are a great many Indians there.
MEAXS OF COMMUNICATION.
The proposed railway through the Pas would go through 170 miles of tolwably
good land, and of course there are areas of swamp.
The projwsed route funs not quite through the centre of the fertile country
described, a little south of the centre, but pretty nearly through it. It would neces-
sarily have to cross the limestone ridge of which he spoke. It has to go about 40 miles
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 71
before it ^ts oflP the limestone. It could not escape the limestone by swinging to the
north OP south. It is very flat country with very moderate undulations. There is no
difficulty about building a railroad over it. Near the Saskatchewan and Split lake
there is a gradual fall, perhaps 280 feet in all. That is the difference in level of the
two points ; but there is no point intermediate between the two that is any lower than
180 feet above the level. Generally it is extremely level.
The witness being questioned by the Hon. Mr. Power, said that he was not very
certain about the derivation of the name Pas. His impression was that it meant the
threshold, the step, in the sense of being the gate or threshold of the country. It is
one of the earliest posts the old French company established. They established one
there and one at Cedar lake before the Hudson Bay Company went in there. It was
the French who christened that place.
The distance from the Pas to Split lake is about 250 miles, and from the Pas to
Fort Churchill about 480 miles or thereabouts.
As to the suggestion to blow up the rocky ledge at the mouth of the Saskatche-
wan, Mr. Mclnnes was asked if it would injure the navigation of the river. He
replied that there tire some steamers on the river, but he thought if his suggestion
were carried out it would improve the navigation, because it would confine the water
to one channel. If that improvement were made a railway could be run down the
valley; at present it would have to go some distance back, because the country is
72 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF HENRY ANTHONY CONROY, OF THE DEPARTMENT OF
INDIAN AFFAIRS, INSPECTOR UNDER TREATY NUMBER EIGHT,
HEARD BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE, FEBRUARY 25, 1907.
Mr. Conroy stated that he had been annually travelling throu^ this northern
country for about eight or nine years. He starts in along the Athabatka river, from
Athabaska Landing, which is about 100 miles from Edmonton, and goes up the river
to the junction of the Little Slave river, thence visiting all the Indian reserves in the
Mr. Conroy explained that the banks of the Little Slave river are flatter than
those of the Athabaska. They are not high. Say from Moose river, there is some
good agricultural land, some open country. In fact in the opinion of the witness, the
most of it, when the timber is cleared off, will be all good for agriculture. When you
get up to the southeast end of Lesser Slave lake, the country around there, up to the
valley of the Swan hills, is a beautiful country, some parts of it heavily timbered,
while other parts are open. Mr. Conroy drove through there last fall. There is some
prairie and some beautiful grass. The finest grass in the world grows there, blue top,
some of it six or seven feet high. He drove through hundreds of acres of it last fall
that was at least six feet high in most places. It has a regular river bottom, and the
Swan hills are back about twelve miles from the lake. The basin all the way around
the lake is a beautiful country, in the opinion of the witness.
THE BLUE GRASS COUNTBY.
The blue grass grows on the high land — blue joint as they call it. It will not
grow in sloughs. It is very good grass. It does not generally grow on damp lands.
You can get land up in that country where there is no sod in it. You can kick the
sod right up, and you can get hay just as thick as it can stand. Witness would not be
surprised to learn that four tons an acre could be got off the land, from the looks of
it. This grass cures standing in some places, but the great trouble is that year after
year it breaks down and the other grass grows up between it, so you could not cut it
very close if you wanted to, because there is the old hay at the bottom. Where some
of the pioneers cut the hay they burn that portion off, and in the spring it grows up
clear, and they can mow it with machines. There is a good deal of open country in
that district all around the south side of Lesser Slave lake.
When you get up about 40 miles north of Lesser Slave lake, between that and
Whitefish lake, about 44 or 45 miles, there is 20 miles of a rolling prairie country,
which appeared as though it had at some time been burnt and the poplar timber burnt
off. The feed on the bunch grass there is excellent, and the hills all slope to the
south. The opinion of the witness is that it is one of the finest pieces of agricultural
country in that district.
Sturgeon lake is about 110 miles southwest from Whitefish lake, which has a wide
fringe of low ground. In high water Mr. Conroy had seen it covered with water, but
the last four or ^ve years the water has been low in that country, and this low country
has been covered with hay. It is not the blue joint grass nor is it the bunch grass;
it is another species of hay. Witness did not know what to call it, but when cut it
made good hay, and it grows about two feet high and just as thick as it can grow
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 73
through that country. There is an Indian reservation at that end of the lake, some
9,000 acres, and a little river called Sucker creek runs through it. On the banks of
that they can grow anything. The witness saw the finest potatoes and vegetables there
that he had seen in his life.
A little further south and west lies the Prairie river country, and that is the
finest piece of tJie Northwest Territories Mr. Conroy had seen. It is partly open,
most of it open for quite a few miles, and nice bluffs of timber, mixed, some spruce
among it, and some poplar. But the most of it is level and open. No bunch grass
grows in it. It is the blue crrass of the country, and the drift pile runs right up.
Witness was never far up on that, only just a few miles, but the information he got
from some of the Indians and the pioneers there, was that it runs to some consider-
able distance south of where he had not been.
There are two Indian agencies right on Lesser Slave lake. They raise potatoes,
vegetables, barley and oats, and they grow wheat. That district woul4 be about the
56th parallel of latitude.
At Sturgeon lake there is an Indian reservation, although it is not surveyed yet.
The Indians refused to have it surveyed two or three years ago, but they are very
anxious to have it surveyed now. There will bo about sixteen thousand acres due the
Indians around this lake. It is very fair agricultural country, good ranching country,
lots of good water and lots of good hay.
From the Sturgeon lake and Prairie river, towards the Little Smoky river, after
getting out of the Prairie river valley, there is a ridge of timber which is not much
good for anything. It is small brush, and witness would suppose that the ground is
cold. It looks to be a kind of white clay. If it is moistened it is a kind of gummy.
The timber on that ridge runs through from the Prairie river valley south. After
you cross that again you come into a section of low country, some of it open, with
a small river called many names running northeast to west. It is only a beaver
country. That is a great hay country. The witness saw a beautiful blue point grass
THE PEACE RHER COUNTRY.
Between the Little Smoky river and the Lesser Slave lake the country is open.
Along the banks of the Little Smoky the spruce grows very large, the largest of any
until you come to the Peace river.
The timber on the banks of the Smoky river is talL The banks of the river are
seven or eight hundred feet above the bed of the river. The banks of the Peace are a
thousand feet high, and this part of the Smoky is not very far from the Peace river.
The banks of the Smoky river go in benches. You go a hundred or a hundred and
fifty feet on the level, and then down a bank and strike another bench. So you go
down from one bench to another until you get to the river bed. It is a nice easy
country to make roads in. The soil is good. There is no rock in that country. The
highest bench would be probably a mile and a half, maybe more, from the river.
When the Peace river district is reached, via the route taken by Mr. Conroy, the
altitude is very high, probably higher than it is at Edmonton. It is certainly over
1,000 feet from the top of the bank down to the bottom of the river — tremendous
banks. The country, as witness understood it, is very fipe. Bunch grass grows all
along the north side dean through to the Hayes river. He had information as to this
country from Indians and half-breeds, an^ they say bunch grass grows all along the
way. Shortly after striking the Peace, Dunvegan is reached. On the south side of
that is the Spirit river country that witness had already described.
This country north of Dunvegan, all along the river, is, in the opinion of Mr.
Conroy, fit for agriculture on both sides and for any distance back. Of course you
have to go up to the top of the banks to get the land. Fine buffalo grass grows in the
district north of Dunvegan up to the Peace river crossing.
74 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
Along the Peace river, near Peace river crossing, there is a fringe of timber most
of the way, but it is not very wide. As to the country running across from Dunv^an
to St. John, it would not take a man very long to cross it if he had a road. The foot-
hills of the Rockies begin very near Hudson's Hope.
MR. MACOUN's evidence.
The witness stated emphatically that he is of opinion there is a large area of
valuable agricultural land on the Peace river. Taking the whole country there, as far
as he knew, there is as much agricultural land to be settled as there is settled at
present west of Winnipeg.
In reply to questions, the witness said that this was the very country that Mr.
Macoun had -spoken of disparagingly before the Agricultural Conmiittee of the House
of Commons* two years ago. Witness said he most certainly disagreed with Mr.
Macoun. He was there in that same country at the time Mr. Macoun was. Mr.
Conroy said he thinks Mr. Macoun got wrong information.
Hon. Mr. Perley. — ^ He 8ix)ke from his own knowledge.'
Mr. Conroy. — * He did not have proper knowledge. I was through that same
country that spring, and it happened to be a very wet spring. The farmer he speake
of had not a grain in up to May 20. That I can swear to. In fact he could not have
put it in before June 6. That is the year it froze, and it has never frozen since. Old-
timers in there do not want anybody to come in, and they tell people that the country
is no good. That is what they told Mr. Macoun. They have the whole coxmtry to
themselves. One man grows 2,000 or 3,000 bushels of 'wheat every year and gets for
it from $1 to $1.75 a bushel from the Hudson Bay Company, and he does not want
anybody else to come in and compete with him.'
Hon. Mr. Ferguson. — * Mr. Macoun said you strike a hardpan there?'
Mr. Conroy. — * That is in the country where the altitude is high. There is hard-
pan is every part of the country. It runs close to the surface at that particular place,
but I can take you to a place not very far from Ottawa where you can get hardpan on
the surface the same way. That probably dips two or three miles further on and goes
* How far north of Edmonton is that ? '
* About 700 miles by the trail. It is about 350 or 400 miles in a direct line. We
have to take an indirect course in order to touch the different reserves. It is about
5 degrees of latitude north of Edmonton. The river broadens out as you go east and
Continuing his evidence, Mr. Conroy explained that from Vermilion north-
easterly you are out of the agricultural country, but below that it could be made an
agricultural country. There are no settlers there at alj.
There is some good country up along the Clearwater — very nice country from an
agricultural point of view.
The Chairman. — ^ As to the whole of this Peace river country, you ought to be in
a position to know whether the country is fit for agricultural purposes or not. In
your opinion is that country good for agriculture '
Mr. Conroy. — ^ Yes, I consider it as good as any settled. As I told you, there is
just as much there to be settled as there is now settled west of Winnipeg.'
THE NORTHERN DISTRICT.
Mr. Couroy remarked he was dovra at Fort Providence at the mission five years
ago. They have a splendid farm about latitude 62 :30,' and Mr. Conroy saw beautiful
crops of wheat, oats, barley and peas. He left there on July 28, and their barley was
fit to cut, and they were cutting it. Their oats and wheat would be ready to cut in a
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAT 75
iiay or two from the looks of it, and the priest later told him all their grain was cut
without a bit of frost. July 28 is very early to harvest crops, but you would not think
so up there. They have lots of sunlight. One could sit out all night and read. The
altitude is low, and you can see the reflection of the sunset and sunrise. The witness
was not far enough north to see the midnight sun. They can grow all kinds of wild
fruits in that country, but not apples. The witness got very fine strawberries at Fort
Providence, and there were raspberries, blueberries and cranberries also. The furthest
north witness had seen apples was at Edmonton. They might grow further north.
Down the Athabaska river from Athabaska Landing to the junction of the Little
Slave, the banks of the river are fringed with timber, probably from half a mile to
two miles wide. Witness did not think it is more. The spruce is fairly large in some
districts — ^fit for sawlogs, and mostly all fit for ties and small building timber. Some
of it was very large spruce for that country, three feet across the stump. There is an
Indian reserve along the Little Slave river, and a portion of that has good timber.
The Indians have the finest piece of timber on the Lesser Slave lake as a reservation ;
the spruce is large, and there is a species of poplar, what they call the black-bark
poplar, which grows very large there. Witness had seen it from three to four feet
across the stump. It grows very large, and sometimes fifty to sixty feet high on this
low land. The north side of Lesser Slave lake is covered with quite a heavy second
growth of poplar, some spruce, but not very much, and the poplar is not very big,
probably from nine to twelve inches through, and grows very slim and tall. It is very
long, just a little bunch of limbs at the end of it, and the trees grow close together all
along the north side of Lesser Slave lake.
When you get back about half-way between Lesser Slave and Whitefish lake, you
strike a timber belt running from that to Whitefish lake, and there is some spruce and
a great deal of poplar. Witness had seen spruce logs, there two feet through, a great
many of them in that section of the country.
After leaving the Prairie river valley to cross over to the Little Smoky, you do
not meet any timber until you come towards the Little Smoky river. About nine
miles in width from the Smoky there is a timber belt probably 25 or 30 miles long,
from information witness got from the Indians, and eight or nine miles wide, going
through it, mostly spruce and black-bark poplar.
The country lying due west of Sturgeon lake, between that and the Big Smoky,
is, some parts of it, muskeg, but there is a lot of very good land too, and some very
good timber, and along the banks of the Big Smoky there is some excellent spruce.
Mr. Conroy never was there, but the Indians told him that on the east side of the
Smoky there is quite a big limit of timber. Most of it is spruce, and in the low land
tamarack, so that there is quite an area of timber along the Big Smoky.
After leaving the Puskoi)ee prairie going to the west there is no more open
country, but there is a timber country right across to the Pine river. The banks of
the Pine are very high, higher than the banks of the Smoky. Witness thought they
were about as high as the Peace. They commenced away back, and the timber all
along on the steep banks is very high. The belt of trees appeared to him to be wider
along there than anywhere else, between six and seven mil6s wide in the part he went
through himself. It runs right through a bald hill where it enters the Peace.
The south side has the trees. On the south side of St. John's in British Colum-
bia, between that and the Peace, the country is not much good. It is a very high
country. There is some timber, but not of any economic use, mere brush. On the
sides of the banks it might be of some use.
Witness had been 13 or 14 miles north from Dunvegan, on the Peace, and found
timber growing pretty large. There are groves in that country through which a man
76 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
could drive a mowing machine, the trees are so far apart. One would think they had
been planted there.
Witness had never been in the country south of Lake Athabaska, but as far as he
could see it looked to be well timbered. He had been east of Lake Athabaska as tar
as Fort k la Come. All along the river there is good timber, down the Great Slave
On the lower levels of the Athabaska, clean through to Athabaska lake, there ia
heavy timber all tiie way along. Witness does not know what is behind the timber
belt, but believes it is pretty muskeggy. That is what the Lidians told him. He had
been up the river by boat every year for eight years. Taking the country as a whole,
there is quite a lot of marketable timber. AJl the rivers and lakes could produce good
timber. There are millions of cords of spruce for pulpwood.
There is a beautiful water-power on the Peace river, and there arc ninety miles
of rapids on liie Athabaska from Fort McMurray to Pelican -portage. There is all the
water-power that could be desired — ^tremendous falls.
FISHERIES, GAME AND FUR-BEARINQ ANIMALS.
Along the Peace river from Vermilion until you get to Lake Athabaska there are
low rocky shores without timber, but the waters are full of fish. Lnmense quantities
are taken every year. There are whitefish, greyling, pike and many other kinds, but
no sturgeon as far as the witness knew. At the east end of Lake Athabaska there are
Indians. The Indians all through this country make their living principally by hunt-
ing and fishing. The principal varieties of fish are trout and whitefish. Witness had
seen trout weighing twenty pounds. These lakes are full of fish. Twenty-eight, thirty
and forty pounds are common weights for trout. That is just the * whitefish trout.'
They have a salmon trout, a whitefish trout and a rainbow trout up in the mountains.
There is untold wealth in those lakes. In the northern waters tiiey have whitefish,
herring and trout. There is nothing done commercially in the matter of fishing. The
Hudson Bay Company do not feed the fish to the dogs. Witness thought that if there
were more fish taken out of the lakes it would be better for the fish. The fish got
better after a quantity was taken out. The Indians dry some of them. They can
smoke a fifty-pound fish and dry it. The Indian will cut up his fish in the summer
time and dry it.
The reindeer go as far north as latitude 60. They have been coming to Lake
Athabaska for years. They did not come last year, and there was starvation among
the Indians there, but that is the first time in the remembrance of the oldest Indian
in that locality that they did not come that far. They come in countless thousands.
The Indians stand in the lodge doors and shoot them as they run around. The animals
have not any fear.
There is also moose in that country and musk-ox.
The country which lies in between the Peace river and the south shore of the
Great Slave lake, Mr. Conroy had been told by the Indians and half-breeds, is a
buffalo country. He had not been more than three or four miles back in it himself.
He was told that there is a bunch of wood buffalo in there yet. It would take a man
on horseback ^we day« to cross that prairie.
The Indians and half-breeds told Mr. Conroy that the country between Great
Slave river and Hay river is covered with buffalo grass, excepting a little timber that
grows in a fringe around Great Slave lake. He had information from Indians living
in that country that it is an open country covered with prairie grass.
North of Great Slave lake there is a bunch of buffalo that have been there, the
Indians say, for fifty or sixty years. The Indians claim that buffalo grass grows in
there clean up to the Yellow Knife river. Asked if the buffalo were increasing, Mr.
Conroy replied that he thought not. The wolves have been very bad for the last fiv^ or
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAlf 77
six years, and the Indians claim that they kill the calves. Witness thought there
were somewhere in the neighbourhood of three hundred and fifty buffalo. That was
approximately, of course. He got a specimen for the Department of Agriculture last
year to be mounted. The Indians got it for him. This herd are the only wild buffalo
on the continent, he believed. They are very large, much larger than the plain
buffalo. Oue old Indian told the witness that years ago they found a herd of buffalo
between the Liard and the Hay river, and one time they got a herd of them at Fort
Providence, and they slaughtered all that were in there.
There has been a close season for buffalo for a good many years. The skin of the
buffalo that the witness procured for the department was a tremendous size, and he
would say that the animal must have weighed fourteen or fifteen hundred pounds.
You do not require to enforce tiie law to protect the buffalo. The Indians will
not kill them. They want to preserve them as much as any one else. They are the
Wood Cree Indians in the country north, as far as the 60th parallel, and the Chippe-
weyans north of latitude 60, until you come to the Aleutians or Esquimaux. The
Indians think if the buffalo are gone they will have nothing left. The Crees are
benefiting by the errors of the Indians south of the Saskatchewan. They know that
the buffalo are all gone south of them and want to protect the wood buffalo. The
government is giving a bounty for each wolf killed. Not many have been killed yet.
The Indian does not like to kill wolves because of some superstition, but the half-
breeds will kill them. Witness saw a couple of those timber wolves a couple of years
ago. They were very large. These wolves never go in packs. They generally are in
couples, but you sometimes see three of them together, and that is the most you see
The musk-ox is not becoming exterminated as the buffalo is. There are lots of
musk-ox in the country. They will take care of themselves. You cannot follow
them. The Indian cannot go very far into the muskeg, and they do not follow the
musk-ox any distance. They get them at the end of Lake Athabaska sometimes, but
they have not been killing them since the close season started two years ago.
The minerals lie in the country east of Lake Athabaska. It looks to Mr. Conroy
just such a country as the Lake of the Woods, the same Laurentian range, a kind of
reddish grey granite with strings of white quartz running through it. If there is any-
thing in the quartz, there is lots of it there. The same way with asphaltum, if it is
any good there is lots of it.
Some gold was discovered up near St. John's a couple of years ago, just below
St. John's, near Mud creek. Then there is the gold sand on the Peace river.
Asked if there is much coal in the country he had travelled through, Mr. Conroy
replied that there is coal everywhere, both on the Athabaska and on the Peace. Coal
is plentiful. There is coal also in the Liard country, and gold also. The coal is good
for fuel, and burns well.
There is a salt mine at Salt river. The salt is as white as snow. It is right at
the northern boundary of Alberta.
In reply to a question, the witness said he had been to Fort McMurray many
times. He went up the Athabaska to McMurray. He saw en route timber, coal,
asphaltum and oil — the best oil country he had ever seen. Some places you can see it
leaking out of the bank. The banks are very high there. He had been right to the
top of this bank, and it is all asphaltum. He could not figure out the extent of it.
There are miles of it.
Asked by the Honourable Mr. Ross, of Middlesex, how the climate in the Peace
river district compared with that at Edmonton, Mr. Conroy replied that it is about
78 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
the same. The Chinool^ winds are felt as far north as Lesser Slave lake. He had
gone through that country once, when for twenty-one days in January you did not
need your coat in the middle of the day. The cattle were all out in the pasture
fields. He had been going in there every year for eight years, and had been there for
Mr. Conroy stated that he never saw a very deep snowfall in that country. He
felt pretty sure that the Chinook winds go through to Athabaska lake.
The witness testified that in' that country in the winter he did not suffer as much
as he had suffered from cold in Ottawa, and he slept out every night, sometimes under
a tent and sometimes in the open. He travelled once with a dog train and after-
wards with ponies, and got along very well Ivith them.
Fifty below zero was the coldest witness had ever seen up there, and that only
once, seven years ago.
In the spring as a rule the ice breaks up on Great Slave lake about July 1. The
ice floats around in the northern part of the lake all the year round. The lake freezes
up again about October 15. It is open from July 1 to the middle of October. In
Lake Athabaska there would be a slight difference, but not a great deal. The witness
had seen the Athabaska broken up on June 24. It would be open from June 24 until
probably October 15.
The sununers are very fine.
At Athabaska Landing there are quite a number of settlers who are doing very
well growing grain. They have been quite successful. At Vermilion there has been a
settlement for fourteen or fifteen years. Mr. Conroy said he had been there many
times, and knew all the settlers in that section. Some of the finest wheat he ever saw,
he saw growing in that settlement. He only saw it after it was harvested; it was
threshed. They have a roller mill there — an up-to-date mill. The Hudson Bay Com-
pany manufacture flour to send north to Vermilion.
You get all the agricultural implements in there, binders, mowers, horserakes,
steam threshing mills, just the same as you get outside.
At the Lesser Slave lake at about 56 degrees north latitude there are some white
people, pioneers who have been farming for the last four or five years.
They raise oats principally, and wheat. Witness had seen beautiful crops of
wheat the last two or three years. They use the grain for local consumption. Oats
were worth $1.50 a bushel there last year. The Hudson Bay Qompany and traders
and half-breeds and Indians that have horses buy the oats. They do an immense
traffic in there carrying supplies. It is the outlet into the Peace river.
Last year the settlers at Lesser Slave lake got their crops in about the first of
April. As to the harvest, they were done about August 20.
From the Big Smoky across through what is called the Spirit river country, but
which is not a very extensive country, there is a very fine looking district. Mr.
Conroy saw some very fine crops growing there. Wheat, oats, barley, potatoes and
many other vegetables grow. There is quite a little settlement of pioneers who have
been there for some years. Going west from there we come to another little prairie
called the Puskopee prairie, but there are no settlers yet. That is open country, and
is a very fine looking country. From the Spirit river country, all through, you get
the buffalo grass all over the country.
The settlers at Spirit river are Canadians or English. There was one man in
there for two or three years from Ottawa, a Mr. McLeod. There are white men with
their wives and families, not very many, but there are some. They are going in now
As to the Indians in Treaty Eight, there are about four thousand treaty and two
thousand non-treaty, about equally divided between Crees and Cbippeweyans.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 79
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
The Peace river at the Peace river crossing is about 600 or 700 yards wide. The
water is very deep in places. There is no rapid. It is all swift water. From the
mountains there is a clear stretch of navigation down to the Chutes, a distance of
nearly 600 miles. As you go north the river gets wider. It is navigable from the
Athabaska lake up to the Chutes, The Hudson Bay Company run a steamer up to
the Chutes, and another from above the Chutes to the Rocky mountains. The Chutes
consist of two falls, one probably nine feet high and the other about fourteen feet,
and these occur within probably a mile and one-half or more.
There are many opportunities for landing.
80 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF RICHARD S. COOK, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF PRINCE
ALBERT, SASKATCHEWAN, HEARD BEFORE THE SELECT COM-
MITTEE, FEBRUARY 25, 1907.
Mr. Cook explained that he had been engaged in farming at Prince Albert for the
past fifteen years. He has a large stock and dairy farm, operates it successfully, and
has made it pay every year. Prince Albert is a little north of latitude 53, some 48
miles further south than Edmonton.
Witness explained that he had travelled considerably over the country about
Prince Albert, particularly to the north and northwest of that city.
He has gone north from Battleford and down the Beaver river. Little is known
of that country. It has always been travelled by canoe.
Stanley Mission is the furthest north he had been, 250 miles north of Prince
Albert, and iibout the same distance north of Battleford. The country in that
northern district is fit to be an empire in itself, and a wealthy one. People knew
little of it yet, but it is going to prove an excellent country for agriculture. It is such
an inmiense country it is hard to grasp the posibilities of it. You might travel over
it for years and know very little about it. There is very little open country there,
except where the fire has gone, but about 75 per cent of the soil in that country is
good, capable of being cleared up and becoming good agricultural land. The area
must be at the least about 250 miles by 250 miles. It is hard to judge.
In travelling about the country, he had examined the country about Fort Pitt,
Beaver lake. Moose lake and Cold lake. For a considerable distance immediately
back from the River Saskatchewan the soil is light; not a very good country.
The country immediately behind Fort Pitt is fit for raising grain. This district
is quite a piece north of Prince Albert. The further north you go in that country the
better it is. The country is dropping gradually; the altitude is getting less, and on
the Chippeweyan reserve, south of Cold lake, there is as fine land as witness had ever
seen in his life. The grass is 4i feet long, and people have been known to grow 100
tons of hay the first season. Witness doubted whether wheat would grow the first
Around Cold lake the fires have been very destructive. There has been good
timber there, and where- it has been burnt over the grass is good. It is stumpy yet.
The soil is all right and the pea vine is growing, and good rich grass, so that witness
thought the country down the Beaver would be a fairly good agricultural country.
This district is 150 miles north of the Saskatchewan. It would be northwest of
Battleford about 150 miles.
At Fort Stanley and the Churchill, 250 miles north of Prince Albert, they are
raising all kinds of stuflF. There is a sheaf of wheat in the Board of Trade in Prince
Albert which was brought from there, and it is certainly a very fine si)ecimen. The
secret of the whole thing is that the country is falling as you go north and east, and
the climate remains about the same. As your altitude drops, there is a great deal of
timber, and the temperature remains very much the same. As you go west you are
getting higher up, and there is more danger of summer frosts. Witness thought that
in the area he had visited in the north there is a country that will be settled up and
sustain a large population.
The fires have been very destructive in parts of the Fort Stanley country. The
soil throughout at one time was a good soil, but where the fires were very heavy and
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 81
hot it burnt tiie top of the soiL He would judge that 76 per cent of that country has
good agricultural soil as soon as it is cleaned out.
Passing down the Beaver river country and towards Prince Albert, there is a
large quantity of very good spruce. Witness thought that the soil throughout had
been in the main very good, but the fires had been very destructive, and burned off a
good deal of the top soil. Where that top soil is gone the country is of very little
use. It is growing up with black birch and second-growth poplar, but where the fires
have not destroyed the top soil it is a good country. There are openings, but to no
Down through the region immediately north of Prince Albert, and on through
to Montreal lake, it is pretty much a timber country, and the same remarks will
apply to it. The soil is better throughout. There is more good land, and always has
been, and the timber is better wherever it is left. The fires have been very destruc-
The poplar is good wood and will be useful some day. At present it is not used
as it is not required, there being plenty of spruce, but it will be used some day.
There is quite a lot of timber all through the country between Prince Albert and
Stanley Mission. There is merchantable spruce in large quantities around there. A
good deal of it is taken up by timber berths, but there is a good deal of it left. There
are small bluflFs scattered all through the country. There is an unlimited quantity of
pulpwood in there. Where it is not good timber it is pulpwood.
About two-thirds of the timber immediately around Stanley Mission has been
destroyed by fire.
There is no calculating the amount of the timber that has been destroyed, and the
very best spruce at that. The government are now taking steps to try and put a stop
to the burning. They have fire-engines out there during the dry season, but it is such
a vast country it is a very difficult matter.
Mr. Cook is at the present time inspector of fisheries. Once, some years ago on
the Beaver river, he had seen 32,000 whitefish caught in two nights, which would
average about 2 or 2} pounds each. They put up the winter supply of fish in three or
four nights. These fish were caught by half-breeds and Indians. The fish were
coming down after spawning, and those catching them set the nets right across the
river. This happened in close season, * but they did not bother about that; it was the
fish they were after.'
There are whitefish, trout, jackfish and some sturg^eon in the Torch and Sas-
Reindeer lake and the small lakes all around it are full of fish. They fish up
there until about December. 1. Sometimes the lakes are open until December 15, and
break up again about May 15 to 20. It depends upon the size of the lake. If it is a
very large lake it will take a little longer. Witness had seen the lakes open on Decem-
ber 15. Those lakes are teeming with fish, with whitefish, sturgeon and trout. The
trout run as high as 50 x)Ounds.
The sturgeon run from 10 to 100 pounds. Witness had never seen one over 100
pounds. He had seen one whitefish that weighed 17} pounds, and trout that weighed
50. He had them for the exhibition in Ottawa, but the train was blocked and did
not get through. The biggest jackfish he had ever seen weighed 45 pounds. They
have soi9e little bits of things and they range from that up. In other places they
have big fish from 10 to 45 pounds in weight. There is no doubt it would do the lakes
82 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
good to take a number of fish out of them. Witness recalled that when they started
to fish in Candle lake the fish were poor and thin. After they fished that lake for a
couple of years the fish became good again. You do not do the lakes harm by fishing.
It is like the timber in that respect. If you cut out the big timber you protect the
smaller timber and it grows faster.
Hon. Mr. Power asked if it was not possible that a certain amount of food went
into the lake after the settlement, and that would be one reason.
Mr. Cook replied that was not the case.
Commercially there had been very little use made of the fish. This year they
are shipping again to the United States.
Lac La Ronge is an immense beautiful lake teeming with fish.
• Mr. Cook explained that he could not say much about minerals. There is a coal
seam about seven miles east of Prince Albert which runs under the Saskatchewan,
river. At the Mackenzie coal mine there is a shaft sunk 20 feet probably, and there
is fairly good bituminous coal. You can trace the seam across the Saskatchewan. You
can find coal up to the size of your fist for a certain distance, and then it ceases*
There must be an outcropping under the river. Nobody is bothered about the coaL
Coal has also been discovered at Lac La Ronge, there is no doubt about that. Good
samples have been brought in, but nobody bothers with it yet because wood is so
Mr. Cook did not consider the climate of the country north of the Saskatchewan
as severe as that at Winnipeg, for the simple reason that the timber tempers it, and
the altitude is lower. There was a Chinoo6 at Prince Albert on February 14, 15 and
16 of this year. The snow was pretty much gone.
The average fall of snow is about ten inches. It had been reported that Prince
Albert had about 54 inches of snow during this year, but witness was prepared to
swear that there was not more than 15 inches. He measured it purposely. The
Chinook wind strikes Prince Albert about three times during the winter. They are
generally sure of a thaw in January. This year they did not get it until February.
It was late. Witness had a letter from his wife in his pocket dated February 16. She
wrote that the snow was going very rapidly, and she was afraid the meat in the store-
house was spoiled. It is not a country of deep snow at all. Last year there was
scarcely enough to get sleighing all winter, and the same the winter before. There
was no sleighing until about January 1.
Some of the farmers allow their cattle to run out of doors all winter, but it is not
a good practice. They have to feed them of course. Last year witness was harrowing
on March 17 and seeding about three days later. He had a good deal of his crop in
April 1. With regard to the fall frost, if you do not get the frost by August 25, you
do not get it until the end of September. Prince Albert occasionally gets it in
August, and the farmers get their crop harvested before that time. The old system of
broadcast farming and see<ling in the spring has gone out of date. It is a thing of
Fall wheat has never been attempted at Prince Albert. Witness thought it would
grow there. He had only had one year that was too dry for farming, that was in 1886.
He had never had crops cut down by the frost so that the wheat field would look like
The country is well watered all through. He has a well on his farm only four
feet deep, and he waters fifty head of cattle and four horses.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 83
Settlements have been started 20 miles north of Prince Albert, and some years
ago an American went in there and has a beautiful farm. The witness brought in a
collection of vegetables from that country, and he never saw a better lot of farmers'
produce in his life. This original American pioneer was growing Turner raspberries,
and any one will tell you that where you can grow Turner rapsberries, fall wheat will
grow, and where fall wheat will grow the climate is fit for anything. The settler in
question got the Turner raspberries from witness in Prince Albert. It takes a certain
climate to grow that raspberry, and they claim the same climate will grow fall wheat.
It is not the wild raspberry of the country, but a variety sent out from the experi-
mental farm in Ottawa. Wild raspberries grow all through that country.
Thai one man starting out demonstrated that the climate was all right, and others
followed suit, and there are now 150 or 200 settlers in that country, which was
considered a few years ago as no good.
The same remarks apply to the country clean out to Candle lake. That country
is fairly clear and open, and there is some hazel brush, and where hazel brush will
grow the land is considered good, and where poplar will grow it is also considered
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
Mr. Cook explained that the people out on the Saskatchewan and north of it anti-
cipate being, able to ship by the Hudson bay 'route. They are all expecting it. They
consider that there is not a question of doubt but that it will be successful. They
expect an open route via Hudson bay for half of July, all of August, September,
October, November and a part of December. Witness was speaking from the informa-
tion received from people who spent their lives on Hudson bay. He had met men in
the Hudson bay service who had been up in Ungava. Many of the Hudson bay
officials came in to the Prince Albert district to settle, after they have been superannu-
ated. From information obtained from these old Hudson bay men, his honest opinion
— nothing more — ^was that it was a perfectly feasible route for the months he had
given: half of July, all of August, September, October, November and a part of
Mr. Cook, concluding, remarked : * When you are shipping out your cattle, you
are sending them by the short route, and the shrinkage will be light. One feed, or
probably none at all, will take you to Churchill, and* you will get a third of the crop
out at least before the frost, and that will be a great relief to that country.'
84 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF THE VENERABLE ARCHDEACON J. McKAY, OF THE
CHURCH OF ENGLAND DIOCESE OF SASKATCHEWAN, HEARD
BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON FEBRUARY 27, 1907.
Archdeacon McKay explained that he had been forty-five years in the west, in
charge of missions of the Church of England, and was ten years at a place on the
Churchill river, a little north of Lac La Ronge. The nearest point to Lac La Ronge
on the map is where the Anglican mission is situated, about ten miles north of Lac
La Ronge, on the Churchill river. This is about due north from Prince Albert, and
in a straight line it would be considerably over two hundred miles from Prince
Albert. Then the witness had been in the Saskatchewan district generally, travelling
between Prince Albert and Battleford and down the river as far as Grand Rapids,
travelling backwards and forwards most of the time. He had been for some time
superintendent of the Anglican missions. For the last two years he had been at Lac
White settlement at present is not yet practically settled. The district north of
Lac La Ronge is rocky. The Laurentian formation extends along that part of the
country. The south side of Lac La Ronge is of limestone formation, and from there
on to Prince Albert it is not a rocky country. The rocky country begins there. Lac
La Ronge is not the headwaters of the Churchill river. The land between Lac La
Ronge and Prince Albert in some places is very good. It is all forest practically until
you get about thirty miles from Prince Albert, or perhaps twenty or thirty. You then
begin to get into the open country, where it is not heavily timbered.
The wild fruits are cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries,
saskatoon and wild currants.
To the west of Lac La Ronge the country is very much the same. It is not rocky,
some muskeg and some pretty good land, but all timbered — in some places heavy
timber. There is spruce and poplar. The spruce is good enough for lumber, and of
course it would do for pulpwood.
Archdeacon McKay explained that he had been as far north in this country as
Lake Cariboo. In fact he had been away to the north end of Reindeer lake. It is a
pretty poor country up there, and the trees are not very large.
In reply to a question, the witness stated that he was bom on the eastern shore of
James bay, near Ruperfs House. His father was a Hudson's bay officer. Witness had
his education in Manitoba in the early days« He had been more in the old country
than in eastern Canada. He lived at Moose Factory until he was eighteen.
From the Churchill he had been down to Hudson bay, and he had been as far
west at He a la Crosse lake and on to Lac Loche, which is not many miles south of the
Clearwater river and in an east-southeasterly direction from Fort McMurray. His
sphere of work, since he commenced, has been in Saskatchewan.
Asked if he thought that there is any territory around Hudson bay and up to Lac
La Ronge which would in future support settlement. Archdeacon McKay said he
would hardly think so. That is a very rocky country. He had never heard of any
minerals in that country.
So far as agriculture at Lac La Ronge is concerned, witness had raised good
wheat on that point on the Churchill river for seven years in succession without
having it frosted. The climate is good. It is a rocky country, and there is not a
great deal of good land; but so far as the climate is concerned it is all right for
raising anything that can be raised in the Saskatchewan generally. Potatoes grow
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 85
The witness had travelled the country about Lac La Ronge pretty thoroughly,
and if it were cleared of timber it would, in his opinion, be generally fair agricultural
land. The rocky country is north of that.
He could not describe what the grasses are, but they are grasses that grow mostly
in moist land, something like slough hay, grasses that grow on the margins of lakes,
and along the rivers. There was not much stock there, but he had stock when he lived
on the mission on the Churchill river, fifteen head of cattle and two horses. That is
a little north of Lac' La Bonge, and is practically the same country.
As to the Lake He a la Crosse country, witnes considered it fairly good. It is
not rocky and there is plenty of timber and plenty of hay as a rule — some prairie hay
and some swamp hay, and the soil is fairly good — better than Lac La Eonge. It gets
better as you go west. It is certainly better about He a la Crosse than at Lac La
Ronge, and there is no rock country about He a la Crosse. The hay is long. It is
very much the same as the natural hay in Manitoba.
While living at Moose Factory, which is at James bay, at the very mouth of the
river, he was connected with the mission. They always had a good garden at the
mission, and there were others. They never raised wheat in his time, but they raised
barley and almost every variety of ordinary garden vegetables, potatoes, peas, carrots,
beets, beans, &c. He thought these crops could be raised, say fifty or a hundred miles
back from the bay.
As to the country around Lac La Ronge, there is timber all through it, wherever
it has not been destroyed by fires. In some places it has been killed by fires for the
time being, particularly in the rocky country. The fires seem to be more destructive
in that class of country than in the other part. Archdeacon McKay explained that he
put up a sawmill at Lac La Ronge last year, and it is run by water-power. The logs
that are sawn there are the kind of timber found in that part of the country. They
average seventeen logs to the thousand feet. They would be logs fourteen or fifteen
feet long. The diameter would be about two feet across at the butt — good, large logs,
clean timber, very much the same timber as at Prince Albert. This good timber is
scattered all over the country, sometimes for miles. It depends on the nature of the
Asked how far this timber area would outskirt to the east, west and north, witness
replied he would say that kind of country extends all the way through right down to
Lac La Ronge, and down all the way to the border of the province. Although he had
not been through it, he had travelled backwards and forwards on it a good deal, visited
Indian 9amps and so on, and it is very much the same kind of timber all through. In
some places it is muskeg, and in some places heavy timber.
Reindeer lake is not north of the tree limit. There are trees there, but they
are small. They do not grow so large as further south. It is a good way north of
Reindeer lake before you get into the barren grounds. Witness had never been
further north than Reindeer lake.
FISHERIES AND FUR-BEARING ANIMALS.
In Lac La Ronge and the lakeff generally fish are abundant. They are mostly
whitefish and lake trout. The Indians do not sell them ; they have no market. There
would be abundance of fish for some time for commercial purposes, and witness
believed that next year the people of Prince Albert would be in there for fish. There
are plenty of fish in Reindeer lake.
As to fur-bearing animals, last winter (1906) was an exceptional winter, and they
were unusually scarce. Sometimes they are on the increase, sometimes on the de-
crease, but taking it on the whole there is a decrease, especially in beaver. The beaver
86 CANADA S FERTILE NORTHLAND
is nearly killed out — exterminated. He had heard that the killing of beaver is pro-
hibited, but it does not seem to affect business out there at all.
Asked as to the fish of Hudson bay and James bay, Archdeacon McKay replied
that fish are not numerous on the coast of James bay. They had whitefish, pike or
jackfish and perch. There are no sahnon in that part. There are salmon in Hudson
bay. He had been north of Big Whale river. He did not know that there were salmon
there, but there were salmon in a river near Cape Jones. He had never seen any
mackerel, herring or cod. He did not know if there are cod go into Hudson bay. He
had never seen nor heard of any, nothing but whale and walruses. He was up in
Hudson bay in August travelling in a canoe, and saw some loose floating ice there.
It is a peculiarity of that part of the country, around Lac La Ronge that the
frosts are very late. On a small island in the lake Archdeacon McKay has seen pota-
toes in the beginning of October with the vines untouched by frost at that late
season. That was of course on account of the large body of wcter that equalized the
temperature. On the mainland that probably would not be the case, but two years
ago he was at Lac La Ronge when Mr. Chisholm, the Ladian insi)ector, came out to
make treaty payments towards the end of August, probably August 20, and the potato
vipes were not touched at aU either on the mainland or on the islands, and the
insi)ector told Archdeacon McKay that they had been a good deal touched in Prince
Albert before he left.
The snowfall is not very heavy. It is generally a little heavier than in the Prince
Albert section of the country, but not always so. Three feet on the level would be
considered deep snow.
As a rule the first frosts come some time in September. Last summer the pota-
toes were touched with frost about September 15, but not seriously. In the spring one
can put in grain from May 5 as a rule. The witness used to sow wheat May 5 gener-
ally, and plant potatoes from May 20 on.
The lowest temperature in winter, judging from his own sensations, was about
the same as Prince Albert. In the summer time it is quite as hot as at Prince Albert.
It is further north and the days are longer.
The weather at Lac La Ronge is moderately dry. Generally there is sufficient
rainfall for the crops. Last summer there was quite « long spell of dry weather which
affected the wild fruits. It was an exceptional spell of dry weather, but generally
there is a good rainfall. The rainy season would be quite equal to Manitoba's. Wit-
ness did not know that it was greater. There is rain almost at any time during the
summer. There are frequent thunderstorms and occasionally hailstorms, but not more
frequently than they have in the prairie country.
In reply to a question by the Honourable Mr. Ferguson, Archdeacon McKay said
he thought the summer heat at Moose Factory aud Lac La Ronge would be very much
the same. He did not remember anything that would lead him to think there would
be much difference. The winter is decidedly more severe on the bay. In the summer
the temperature changes more rapidly in the bay than in the interior. He had often
known the heat to be great in the forenoon, and in the afternoon perhaps the wind
would change and the tide coming in, there would be quite a chilly afternoon. * There
were very sudden changes of weather on the bay. The ice was not in sight all summer
at Moose Factory. They lost sight of the ice as soon as the ice went out of the river
in May, and there would be no further ice in the bay until the river set fast again the
The only whites in the country he had described north of the Saskatchewan were
the Hudson bay officials and traders. There is no agricultural settlement at Lac La
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 87
Ronge. There are only Indians there, and they have not gone into anything in the
direction of agriculture more than raising a few potatoes. The witness built the saw-
mill last year, and they sawed lumber for their own mission buildings. Archdeacon
McKay is putting up a boarding school there, and intends to saw lumber for the
houses. The number of Indians that take treaty at that point is over 500. They are
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
The only means of communication is in the summer by canoe.
Whenever the witness had gone to England he had gone down through the eastern
country. His first trip to England was in 1876, and he went by way of the United
States. There was no communication between Red river and Manitoba and eastern
Canada. He crossed over to St. Paul and went that way.
Being asked why, as the Hudson bay ships made pretty good passage to Churchill,
he did not come in one of them, the witness replied it took too long.
He explained that there were ships coming down to Moose Factory when he was
there regularly every year. They got in as a rule towrrds the end of August and the
beginning of September. In his recollection they were never later than the middle
of September in arriving. They did not remain very long, the sailing vessels leaving
about September 20 generally. There was a long period when the Hudson Bay Com-
pany never lost a ship — many years in succession they never lost a ship. They always
had a ship coming regularly to Moose Factory, one or more, and sometimes as many
as three to York Factory.
The witness thought that a railway ought to be built up to Lac La Ronge. There
would be no difficulties in constructing a railway. It is all level country. There
would not be the slightest difficulty.
CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF JOSEPH BURR TYRRELL, B.A., MINING ENGINEER, OF
THE CITY OF TORONTO, HEARD BEFORE THE SELECT COM-
MITTEE, MARCH 2, 1907.
Mr. Tyrrell began his evidence by indicating upon the map the country he had
been over in the districts covered by the investigation. He remarked that five or six
years' experience in the country south of the Saskatchewan prepared him for the work
immetdiately north of it.
From Edmonton the course of one of his trips in the northern country was down
the Athabaska river to Lake Athabaska, across through Lake Athabaska to its eastern
end, up Black river and across the height of land to the Dubawnt river, and down
Chesterfield inlet to Hudson bay, down the shore of Hudson bay and across from
Churchill on Hudson bay, on snowshoes, to the north end of Lake Winnix>eg. Still
another year his route lay almost directly along the proposed line of the Canadian
Northern Railway. The first year the witness followed the old Hudson bay route
down by York Factory and by Oxford House, and in that direction.
At another time the witness took a course from Prince Albert northward through
by Green lake and down the Beaver river to the Churchill river, and north across the
country by Cree lake to Black river, across on that line, then round through Wollas-
ton lake and up to Geikie and Foster rivers, and back by the same route that he went
out. Another year he went up from the Saskatchewan across by the Frog portage and
up through Reindeer lake, and northward from it through a chain of lakes to the
headwaters of the Kazan river, down the Kazan river to Yathkyed lake, and then
eastward from there cross country to the west coast of Hudson bay. Again he spent
a season in the country north of Winnipeg lake, around the Burntwood river and a
number of streams there. Grass river and so on, west of the Nelson river. These trips
had been chiefiy east of the Mackenzie and Athabaska rivers, and west and southwest
of Hudson bay. That is the country that his explorations chiefly covered for some
years. He spent nine or ten years in that country. He had not been in the Geologi-
cal service since 1898. He started west exploring in 1883, and was exploring for the
Canadian government from 1883 to 1898. It is twenty-four years ago since he first
went west to the Rocky mountains.
To the west of Hudson bay and north of the line of the forest which runs from
Churchill northwestward through Ennaidai lake, and a short distance south of
Dubawnt lake, which line is marked on the map which the witness prepared some
years ago for the Geological Survey and published then, there is practically no agri-
cultural land. Mr. Tyrrell would not consider that any of the land north of the limit
of forest growth was of any value for agriculture.
The tree line starts practically at Churchill and runs northwesterly. South of
that there are trees, and north there are none.
The country north of the tree line is partly rock, but the greater part broken rock
and boulders, a rough stony country without any great elevation, and very little
vegetation of any kind, except a great many Arctic plants and sedges. Mr. Tyrrell
believes the country is permanently frozen. It does not appear to him that there
would be any ix)ssibility whatever of growing anything on it. That eliminates from
an agricultural standpoint that jwrtion northeast of that line.
Now south of that line there is a belt from one to two hundred miles in width of
country that is sparsely wooded. It is not a forest country, but it is wooded along the
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 89
streams, and in the more protected places, but there is comparatively little wood of
any value upon it.
In that country there are, the witness considers, some low lying areas along the
stream and in odd places that would support a northern vegetation, but it is not
eminently suited for agriculture. The ordinary plants that are grown in many
northern countries could doubtless be cultivated in many places. There is very little
humus, very little decomposed soil there, except just in the valleys.
South of that again is a belt of forest. That country is essentially suited for agri-
cultural purposes. It starts on the east between Lake Winnipeg and Split lake, and
extends westward along the Churchill river to the Athabaska river, which is as far
as witness knows. The eastern side of the tract in question would be the Nelson
river. He was not east of the river — with the exception of about 20 or SO miles. He
does not know iiie country farther. That belt of forest is for the most part excellent
agricultural land. As far as the observations of witness goes, he believed that that
country, while a little harder to settle up, and not so attractive to settlers who are
going in and looking for farms ready made and cleared for them and ready to put the
wheat in, that forest belt will be as fine an agricultural tract of land as there is in the
Everywhere in travelling through it, the evidence of rich vegetation was abun-
dant, and everywhere where gardens or any kind of agriculture or horticulture had
been attempted in this forest belt, it had been eminently successful.
It is a forest country, a spruce covered country, and lies southwest of Hudson bay,
west of the Nelaon river, north of the Saskatchewan river, and extends to the Mackenzie
and Athabaska rivers. It would be about 200 miles wide from north to south. Wit-
ness did not remember the length of it. It is similar land to Ontario, and will grow
practically everything that will grow in Ontario, except possibly down in the southern
peninsula of Ontario.
The summer is warm. The winter does not count, because things do not grow in
winter. There is a good rainfall. A small part of the district is park country, half
wooded. It is a continuation northward of the Saskatchewan country.
Mr. Tyrrell said he had seen growing in that country all the garden products that
they grow in Ontario — ^potatoes, carrots, turnips, cabbage, cauliflowers and all the
ordinary garden produce. He saw excellent potatoes in the district around Nelson
House. He could not say what time they were planted, because he was not there.
The Indians, constantly when hunting, plant little patches of potatoes here and
there in the spring and leave them all summer and dig them up when they go back
to their hunting grounds in the fall, and use them for their winter supply.
The witness had gone out and dug a pail of beautiful potatoes on several occasions
out of these little Indian patches buried in the woods. They had never been hoed or
cultivated in any way. They were not looked after from the time they were planted in
the spring until they were dug in the fall. The potatoes seem to be able to grow suffi-
ciently to keep down the weeds. As a protection against wild animals these potato
patches are usually planted on islands. Witness had not actually seen wheat, barley
and oats grown in that country. He has fairly good evidence that they are grown
there, but as far as he remembered he had not seen any himself. He had been told
and believed that they grow there.
There is no doubt whatever that the country described will support quite a thick
North of Lake Winnipeg there is another magnificent area of from ^ve to ten
thousand square miles of as fine country as there is in Manitoba or anywhere else.
That is on the proposed line of the Hudson Bay railway. When the witness came
out of there in 1896, after spending a summer there, and said there was a rich
90 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
agricultural country north of Lake Winnipeg, the Hudson Bay men and the people
in the southern country pooh-poohed the idea. They said they had been up at the
head of the lake and knew there was not a foot of good land there. But there
is a magnificent stretch of country there, and it extends westward along the Churchill.
These lands north of Lake Winnipeg are clay lands, an extension of the same basin as
the Manitoba clays.
As to the country immediately north of Lake Athabaska, it could not be considered
as being within the arable area. The arable belt, however, as you go west to the Atha-
baska river, widens enormously. As to that, of course, witness could not speak from
his own personal knowledge of the country. He spoke generally of the vast country
west of the Athabaska river until you get to the Peace river country, and there is
certainly a large tract of agricultural land there. However, one or another may differ
about the value of any particular part of that country. In the country, as you go
west into the Peace river region, there is certainly a large area of good land that the
witness would not attempt to confine inside of such a belt as he had been speaking of.
In speaking of the forests of the country north of the Saskatchewan, the witness
explained he would have to divide the country in very much the same belts as for
agriculture, because agriculture and forests were very closely connected. Agriculture
has to be very much governed by the forest growth. Far in the north there is a tract
of country he had already outlined that has no trees on it; then a belt of country
from one to two hundred miles in width with small banksian pine, spruce, larch,
poplar and some white birch. He would not consider any of those woods valuable for
timber purposes, except locally. They would serve for pulpwood, but the growth is
not thick. Still over considerable areas there might, of course, be a large quantity of
timber for pulpwood. In that belt the trees would average probably six inches. Occa-
sionally you would find some a good deal larger. The poplar grows on the drier lands.
It is not an indication of good land in an extremely northern country. It indicates
a dry, sandy soil, but further south it indicates excellent soil. The country to the
south of that, the thickly wooded belt, contains a large quantity of timber, chiefly
white spruce, trees up to eighteen inches in diameter. It is a wooded country with
trees from twelve to eighteen inches in diameter, tall with clean trunks — good, nice
timber. Of course the timber does not grow as large on high dry, sandy ridges as it
grows in the valleys. Most of the timber is in good soil in the valley bottoms, but
there is more or less wood land all over. The poplar and birch affects the higher land,
and the spruce and hemlock the valleys.
FISHERIES AND GAME.
As to the fish supply of the country north of the Saskatchewen, the lakes every-
where are well stocked with trout, and the shallower lakes with whitefish. Whether
the deeper lakes bave many whitefish in them or not, witness could not say. At times
he could catch whitefish in them and at times he could not, but he had no doubt that
all these lakes are well stocked with whitefish. He always could get abundance of fish
in them. Some of the small shallower lakes contain whitefish in enormous numbers.
He had seen the fins of thousands sticking up over the water, while paddling along in
a canoe. As far north as Dubawnt lake (63 north latitude) the whitefish and trout
were plentiful in all the streams. Mr. Tyrrell caught them in Dubawnt lake. Further
northwards he did not catch any, and does not know what fish there are along the
. shores there. The Esquimaux report that there are salmon and other fish there, but
witness did not see them himself.
There are great quantities of fish. The fact is, there are all the fish the lakes will
hold — they are ns full as the water can supply food for them.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 91
Asked as to the size of the Dubawnt lake, witness explained that he travelled
around one side of it for about 150 miles, but the other shores were not visible from
that side. Nobody knows the full size of that lake. The south and east shores, as
shown on the map, are just an imaginary sketch. Standing on the hills on the west
shore the witness could not see the east shore, though the hills on which he stood were
several hundred feet high. It is a large body of water. The map merely shows the
lakes that are known. There are thousands of others that we know nothing of,
because nobody has been through there. Some of the larger ones are sketched in.
The witness sketched in many, from the reports of the Esquimaux, and they still
appear as he so sketched them on the map. The whole country is studded with lakes.
The Esquimaux live entirely on fish and game. They have not very good means
of catching fish. The Esquimaux usually catch the fish with short lines made of
sinew, which are very poor and elastic. They cannot keep them long in the water at
a time. Then a piece of twisted iron serves for a hook.
These natives often suffer from hunger, because while the deer are very, very
plentiful at times, they are gregarious, gathering together in herds, and those herds
do not always follow tibe same course. There may not be a sign of deer near where
the Esquimaux live, and they have no means of knowing that there may be a herd
within 15 or 20 miles of them.
Mr. Tyrrell came across a good many cariboo in the north, and he had taken
photographs of great herds of cariboo. He did not get as far north as the musk-ox
Mr. Tyrrell explained that the primary object in all his explorations through that
country was the mineral development of the country, and any other information that
he collected was incidental.
From a line at Cumberland House, on the Saskatchewan river, northwestward to
the Churchill river, and westward along the Churchill river, the country to the south
is underlaid by the more recent clay rocks of the plains, and the mineral wealth that
is to be looked for there is coal and iron. He has considerable confidence in both
those most useful products being found in that country.
Coal is found on the Saskatchewan river at Edmonton, and on the Pembina river,
west of Edmonton, and there are several more outcroppings of coal down the Saskatch-
ewan river as far as Prince Albert. He had been told coal has been found out near
Lac La Ronge, but most of the country north of the Saskatchewan river has not been
explored for coaL It is a country of gentle slopes covered with grass and wood, and
the coal outcropping in such a country is certain to be covered. There is no possi-
bility of seeing it as a natural outcrop. It has to be looked for, but it has not been
looked for in that country sufficiently to find it, so he is perfectly confident that the
same seams that outcrop on the Saskatchewan, in the west at all events, will be
traced much further north.
North of the coal land there is a district from Cumberland House northeastward
towards the Nelson river which is underlain by what are known as Keewatin and
Hiftponian rocks, the same rocks that they are finding in northern Ontario at the
present time. The very existence of those rocks is barely known. There has been
practically no exploration of them, no prospecting, so that no one can say as to
whether they are to be a barren portion of those rocks which are rich elsewhere, or
whether they are to be like the Huronian and Keewatin rocks elsewhere, rich in
minerals of some of the kinds so much desired.
Comparing them with the rocks in other places, they have large possibilities.
From that point there is an area of sandstone in the vicinity of Cree lake which
may contain copi)er, but we know of nothing of it yet. It is about the age and char-
acter of the rocks that are rich in copper around Lake Superior, but no mineral
wealth as yet known in it.
92 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
North of Lake Athabaska, for a certain distance, there are Huronian and Kee-
watin rocks again which certainly contain iron and small quantities of gold and
silver, but larger quantities have not yet been discovered. Ore being a mass of mineral
that can be worked at a profit, no ore has yet been found there, but there are precious
minerals. The country north of Lake Athabaska is one of "the most likely looking
mineral countries that Mr. Tyrrell had ever been in. There are outcrops of tar sands
along the Athabaska river near Fort McMurray. There is an enormous amount of
sandstone there impregnated with hard thick petroleum or tar. The probability is
that when one gets back from the outcrop in some places that will be found as a
liquid oil instead of a hard tar that is found there on the Athabaska. Mr. Tyrrell
said he thinks it is quite a fair and reasonable supposition that one would find good
fluid oil in the beds of the same geological age as the tar sand of the Athabaska river.
This tar sand is very strongly in evidence along the river, and an enormous amount
of tar has actually gone to waste, as it were — ^floated out and hardened there.
The tar sand area extends along for quite a number of miles along the river. As
you descend the river you get to those tar-bearing beds, and then they are in evidence
along for a number of miles down the river. Then you leave them altogether, and
they do no't occur again. Mr. Tyrrell considered it highly probable that the petroleum
or liquid would be found in close proximity.
Of course the sandstone or tar would not have a marketable value at the present
rates of transportation. But outside of that, probably it would be used as paving
material if it is needed in that vicinity. He thought it could be used for making
After leaving the Huronian rocks north of Lake Athabaska, one then strikes
through a granite country for seven hundred miles on the routes that the witness
travelled which does not show much evidence of minerals.
Then as you get to the Dubawnt lake you get on copper-bearing rocks similar
to the copper-bearing rocks of Lake Superior, and those are undoubtedly the same
copper-bearing rocks which extend across the Coppermine river, and which have there
been known to produce native copper — at least the Esquimaux bring in the copper
from the Coppermine river to make implements.
Mr. Tyrrell said he would not expect to find silver in connection with the copi)er.
They do not find silver in any quantity with the copper of Lake Superior. They do
find silver in place, but not on the Calumet peninsula. The silver appears in a slightly
diflFerent formation. While it occurs in rocks of somewhat similar age, still it is not
immediately associated with the copper, and the rocks that one finds from Dubawnt
lake northward, covering quite a large area, are very similar to the copper-bearing
rocks on Lake Superior.
Taking a set of specimens from the copper-bearing rocks of Lake Superior, the
witness declared he could duplicate them almost exactly from a set of specimens from
these northern rocks in all the peculiar minerals — and there are a great many of
them. He saw a small amount of copper in many places in these rocks, and we know
that it occurs in the rock, because the Esquimaux pick up native copper and make
their implements from it. So that he looks for a large development at some time of a
copper industry in that country between Chesterfield inlet and the Coppermine ri^r.
He has never been at the Coppermine river himself.
Really the principal exploration of the Coppermine river was done nearly 100
years ago, and there has been very little exploration of it since. It was visited by Dr,
J. M. Bell some three or four years ago, but he just barely touched it, and Sir John
Richardson, in the early part of last century, really gave us all the information that
we know about the Coppermine river. It is a district that should certainly be inves-
tigated within a reasonably short time again.
In that northern region there is a large area of mineral-bearing country. As you
come out to the mouth ol the Chesterfield inlet there is an area of Keewatin and
Huronian rocks, similar to the conglomerates of northern Ontario, which have been
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 9^
found to be so rich there, and these rocks are known to contain a certain amount of
gold and copper. Mr. Tyrrell saw them himself there, and he has every confidence
that that area too will produce minerals of value — ^workable ores. There was no indi-
cation of nickel in any part of the country.
As to the climate of the great belt of arable land, two hundred miles wide, that he
had described, Mr. Tyrrell said that at Nelson the snow leaves the ground in May.
There is little or no summer frost in that wooded country. He understood gardening
conmiences the end of May, and the frost does not appear in the fall until about
September 20. He had never known the potato crop to be lost tJirough summer frost.
Asked as to the isothermal line, Mr. Tyrrell remarked that the isothermal is a
line connecting points that have the same annual mean temperature for the year
round. It has nothing whatever to do with vegetation. Things do not grow in the
winter time. People have got to put the winter temperature absolutely out of the
question. The summer temperature is the only temperature that counts for growth
in the northern country where there is frost. In dealing with that, you have to take
into consideration as between two places in different latitudes, the length of the day
and the amount of sunlight, in order to get at the summer temperatures. Of course
the sunlight has a great effect on the growth, and where the days have 18 hours' sun
a plant will grow faster than where the day has only 14 hours.
The effect of the large body of water in Hudson bay and James bay on the
temi)erature, summer and winter, of the surrounding country, was the equalizing
of it very much, making the sunmiers colder and the winters milder. There is a
foggy climate around the bay. It is without much sunlight, so that it has not a
chance to dry. The mean temperature of the summer within 100 miles of the bay
will not be as hot as it is back of that. The thermometer does not fall very low in
winter at Churchill. At the same time any x)erson will find it terribly cold on that
coast, although the thermometer does not fall very low. There are a great many
different matters in connection with temi)erature and climate that have to be taken
into consideration. There is the amount of moisture in the air, whether the
barometer is standing low or high, and there are a great many of those things that
have to be taken into consideration in any question that arises of frost or of
climate. Tou may have frost with a north wind, while if that north wind were blow-
ing up over a wooded country, where all the leaves were giving out their vapour from
the ground into the air, you would not have a sign of frost.
Mr. Tyrrell produced the following memorandum he had obtained from the super-
intendent of the Dominion Meteorological Service: —
To J. B. Tyrrell, Esq., Toronto, March 9, 1907.
The temperature conditions of the district between Lake Winnipeg and Split
lake in the several months, May- September, may be compared with Europe as
follows : —
^ay — 50°-40°, with north of Scotland and southern Norway.
June— 56°-54'*, with Scotland.
July— 63°, with south of England.
August— 57:5° to 55°, with Scotland.
September — 50° -45°, with northern Norway and Sweden.
(Sgd.) R F. STUPART
13216— 7J ■
91 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
There is practically no settlement through the far north country, the only inhabi-
tants being a few Esquimaux and Indians.
There are not many Esquimaux in the country. They are not a prolific race at
all. Witness supposed the total number of Esquimaux he saw all through would be
about 500. Of course the Indians do not go north to the barren lands, except that
they hunt a little way in them.
The Esquimaux are happy when they have plenty to eat and the weather is fine.
He had never seen a happier people under those circumstances. It is hard to catch
fish with the appliances that they have. In the summer time they live in skin tents,
the skin having the hair on; in the winter time they live in snow houees.
The Esquimaux apparently have very little communication with white people,
and consequently they have very few white men's implements. For the most part
their hooks were made of nails, and other pieces of iron they probably have picked up
from other Esquimaux who were trading to Hudson bay. They use the bow and arrow
a good deal and hunt the cariboo almost entirely with the spear.
MEANS OR COMMUNICATION.
The only means of communication in the north is by canoes, but at the same time
Mr. Tyrrell remarked that he would not have any hesitation in taking a train of pack-
horses, and travelling overland from Churchill to Great Slave lake or Lake Athabaska.
Note. — ^Evidence given by Mr. Tyrrell as to the practicability of the Hudson bay
route, will be found in Section C.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 95
EVIDENCE OF W. F. BREDIN, MEMBER OF THE LOCAL LEGISLATURE
OF ALBERTA FOR THE DIVISION OF ATHABASKA, AND RESIDING
AT LESSER SLAVE LAKE, HEARD BEFORE THE SELECT COMMIT-
TEE, APRIL 3, 1907.
Mr. Bredin explained that he has been residing ten yeara north of Edmonton. He
lived in Edmonton some time ago, and has lived all over the Northwest pretty well.
He was born in the county of Stormont, within 40 miles of the city of Ottawa, in the
province of Ontario. He has been from Edmonton north to Fort Wrigley, and he has
been on the Peace river from Fort St. John, 30 miles inside the British Columbia
.Jine, to about 500 miles down the Peace — ^from that point. Ten years ago he went
down the Athabaska to the Mackenzie in boats. The valley of the Athabaska from
where the McLeod river empties into it to the Grand rapids, a distance of about 300
miles, is largely timbered with small timber* There is practically no prairie along
that part of the river. The timber is poplar and spruce. It is not scrub exactly,
but there is not much saw timber. He knows very little about the country back from
the river, but he has been told by the half-breeds and traders down in that country
that that part of the country back from Athabaska is very much like it is along the
river. The soil is fairly good, and in some places very good. Down to Fort
McMurray, where the Clearwater river goes into the Athabaska, the character of the
country is very much fhe same. Below that point the elevation of the plateau above
the river is very much less than it is on the Upper river.
It looks like a great alluvial plain, from the river all along from Fort McMurray
to Lake Athabaska, 200 miles. That country is more or less timbered, and the soil is
Going down the Slave river to Great Slave lake, for a distance of 300 miles, on
the east of the Slave river, is the Lauren tian formation. It is all rocks ; while west of
the river the country is all alluvial, and the soil is generally very good, right down to
Great Skve lake. The soil along the south shore of Great Slave lake is not of the
very best, except where the rivers come in.
The country from Fort McMurray to Lake Athabaska does not seem to have been
as much swept with fires as the country south of that. The timber might have been
fairly good at one time, but now it is fairly scattered, and a great deal of it is grown
up with second growth. The southern end of the 300 miles witness spoke of is in the
vicinity of where the McLeod river enters the Athabaska river. Then you go 300
miles from that down to Fort McMurray and the timber is poor, while from Fort
McMurray to Lake Athabaska it is comparatively good timber and better land. While
it is better land there is not really very much difference in the timber.
There is not much fertile land at Wrigley. Down there the Rocky mountains are
on both sides of the river, and there is a great deal of muskeg. The muskeg in the
Peace river country and between the Athabaska and the Peace can all be drained and
cultivated some day, however. These muskegs are from a foot to three feet deep until
you strike hardpan. The moss keeps the heat of the sun out. In fact there is ice in
some of those muskegs all the year round, covered with moss.
The southern shore of Great Slave lake seems to have good agricultural prospects.
One notable place there is Hay river. There they raise barley and all the common
96 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
vegetables. At Fort Providence, about fifty miles down the Mackenzie from the lake,
they raise barley and all the vegetables every year, and some years wheat and oats.
One hundred and seventy miles below, north of Fort Providence, is Fort Simpson,
where the Liard river comes in. Fort Simpson is on an island, the confluence of the
two rivers, and the Hudson Bay Company for probably two years have raised barley
and vegetables at that point. In some years they might raise wheat, but not every
One hundred and forty miles north of Fort Simpson is Fort Wrigley. That is
where Mr. Bredin wintered one winter, and in the spring they put in a garden there.
The Hudson Bay Company officials plant gardens every year at that point. The spring
that Mr. Bredin was there they got their seed jwtatoes from Fort Qood Hope, which
is fourteen miles south of the Arctic circle. They went there because they had no
seed, having used up their seed during the winter. Mr. Bredin saw those potatoes.
They were a played-out seed, a white-blue variety. They were not the improved -poiSL-
toes that we have in this part of the country, but they were a fair size. They had the
same class of potatoes at Hay river, but since that they got in new seed, the Early
Rover seed, from outside, and they grow very much better crops with this new seed
than ^ey did with the old. The season there is quite long enough, because the sun
shines there during all the growing season. That is the great secret of the growth in
On the Mackenzie river the trees leaf out almost in a few hours. The quickness
with which the leaves appear on the trees in the spring is simply marvellous.
The witness was never up the Liard valley, but heard a great deal about it at
Fort Simpson, and he had seen the journals of the Hudson Bay Company that were
kept at Fort Liard, 200 miles up the Liard river. From these sources he gathered
that they raised all the cereals there, such as wheat, oats and barley, as well as all the
vegetables of the conmioner varieties.
At Fort Simpson Mr. Bredin saw cauliflowers, cabbage and cucumbers growing
under exactly the same conditions as they would grow them in northern Alberta. The
cucumbers were simply planted in a hotbed, and allowed to remain there protected in
the early spring from the frost, and then allowed to grow in the hotbeds, with the
sashes off, in the summer time.
The trees throw out their leaves in the Mackenzie basin about the middle of May,
before the ice goes out of the river. The year witness was there the ice went out of
the Mackenzie at Fort Wrigley on May 23, and the trees were all out in leaf before
At Fort Chipewyan the Roman Catholic priests have a farm which was origin-
ally a muskeg, right amongst the Laurentian rocks, and they grow wheat there that
was awarded a medal at the Centennial exposition.
Of course at all those Hudson bay posts they always raise vegetables. They do
not pretend to raise any other grain but barley, because they use barley for soups.
They i)ound the hull of it in a hollow piece of wood and use the grain for soups.
At the mouth of the Great Slave river and at the mouths of all the rivers running
in there, large quantities of hay grow. In fact there is a very rank growth of grass
along all those streams as far north as you like to go. Where it is not covered with
trees, grass grows. The garden at Fort Wrigley was originally muskeg, and covered
with moss. As soon as the timber is cut off a muskeg the moss dies, the frost comes
out of the ground, and gardens can be cultivated.
As regards the country around Lesser Slave lake, the south shore of the lake is
excellent soil, as good as any in the country. There is excelleiit soil along the Slave
river, and on the west side of Slave lake and along the Big Smoky and the Little
Smoky it is all a good country.
Across the Big Smoky is what is called the Grand Prairie country, a prairie about
76 miles long and 20 miles in width; and also in there is the Spirit river and the
Opaskapee river country. There are settlers in all those three places engaged in
stock-raising and growing grain and vegetables.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 97
THE PEACE RIVER VALLEY.
As regards the Peace river valley, Mr. Bredin would judge that from the moun-
tains to Peace point, a distance of between seven and eight hundred miles, following
the windings of the river, there is an average of 76 miles in width on each side of the
Peace river that is equal to the soil on any similar length of the Saskatchewan. That
would make the Peace river country about 150 miles in width, and extending from the
mountains to Peace point, a distance of seven or eight hundred miles, which is all
equally good for agricultural purposes with the Saskatchewan valley. That would
extend considerably beyond the bottom lands of the river, including also the tableland
back of the river. A great deal of it is clean prairie, on the north side especially.
There is more of it covered with scrub and small timber than there is clean prairie,
but the soil is equally good where the timber grows.
The attention of Mr. Bredin having been drawn by the chairman to the discussion
which took place on the evidence given before the Committee^ on Agriculture in the
House of Commons by Mr. Macoun with reference to that Spirit river country and
the Opaskapee, and particularly to Mr. Macoun's statement that down in the valley of
the river you could produce grain, but that the tableland was of very little use, he
stated that he had a ranch at Grand Prairie for six years and raised oats and vege-
tables every year there. He had cattle there for five winters, and the average length
of feeding them during those ^ve years was six weeks of each winter. That is south of
the Peace fiver, but within this belt of 150 miles. In that Spirit river country he
knows there are some white settlers, as well as half-breeds, who are making their
living raising stock and farming.
That 700 or 800 miles of good country, of which the witness spoke, would extend
right to the foot of the Kockies. As to the question of the uniformity of the quality
of the soil, he had only been down to what they call Wolverine point, near Fort Ver-
milion. He should say the country is uniformly good from the Rocky mountains to
that point. At Wolverine point the valley is much lower and perhaps the soil may be
blacker, and the black soil may be deeper on the lower stretches of the Peace.
All of that country would be good for stock. Both slough and upland hay is
abundant. The pea vine and all the small fruits that grow anywhere else in the
Northwest grow up there, and all the wild flowers that witness knows of in the North-
west grow there..
This area in the Peace river country will compare on the whole with any part of
Mr. Bredin referred briefly to a trip east from the Athabaska district last summer,
when he travelled from Fort McMurray up the Clearwater river and thence across to
Prince Albert. The land on the Clearwater river for 100 miles in the bottoms is very
good. It appeared to witness, however, to be very sandy back on the high rocks. He
should think there would be a good deal of rock and muskeg. From where he left
the Clearwater river in to Prince Albert, on the north Saskatchewan, the country was
more or less of a sandy nature. There were beautiful lakes all the way, filled with
good whitefish and trout. The whole northern country is that way.
In reply to a question, Mr. Bredin stated that after his ten years' experience of
the country north of Edmonton he would consider that as quite as good a place for a
man to settle in as the Saskatchewan valley was 26 years ago. It is in exactly the
same x>osition as the Saskatchewan valley was in 25 years ago. During the debate on
the capital question in the Alberta legislative assembly at Edmonton, the witness
made an estimate of the good land north of Edmonton in Alberta, and it figured up
more than the good land south of that city. If you were to add all the good land
north of the Alberta boundary to northern Alberta, you would have about twice as
much good land in the province of Edmonton as there is south of Edmonton.
98 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
OXE HUNDRED MH^UOX ACRES.
At this point the Honourable Mr. Ferguson asked Mr. Bredin to prepare a careful
estimate of all the good land north of Edmonton, east of the Rocky mountains.
The witness said he would have to be guided a good deal by report, but promised
to prepare such an estimate. In due coufse the Chairman of the Select Committee
received the following communication from Mr. Bredin: —
Ottawa, April 7, 1907.
Hon. T. O. Dams,
Chairman of the Select Committee of the Senate.
Dear Sir, — ^Agreeable to your request, I have the honour to inform you that my
estimate of the area of the agricultural lands that will be available in northern
Alberta — say north of the 65th parallel of latitude^and in the unorganized district
of Mackenzie, is nbt less than 100,000,000 (one hundred millions) of acres.
I herewith inclose you a sample of salt from Salt river, near Fort Smith, in
northern Alberta. This sample is very much discoloured, as I have had it in my
possession in a canvas bag for over nine years.
I have the honour to be, sir.
W. F. BREDIN.
Proceeding with his evidence, Mr. Bredin said he knew that at Lesser Slave lake
they have had magnificent crops. There are three little rivers running in there, and
four or five townships of practically delta land, and witness bad never seen finer crops
in any part of the Northwest than he had seen there.
FISHERIES AND GAME.
The fisheries of the country are very, very great. The whitefish come from Lake
Athabaska as far as Fort McMurray on the Athabaska river, and Lake Athabaska is
full of whitefish and lake trout, besides the coarser fish, such as pike, suckers and
pickerel. Great Slave river is also full of fish.
North of Fort Smith and further down to Great Slave lake and down the Mac-
kenzie they have a fish that is peculiar to that part of the world. It is called the
Inconnu, because it is not found anywhere else. It is a large white-fleshed, silver-
scaled salmon in appearance, and these fish run from 15 to 40 pounds in weight. It
would be considered a very good fish if there were not better fish in that country.
Fish are very plentiful there, and a man can take his choice. The better fish
there are whitefish, lake trout, Arctic trout and herring. The herring come up the
Mackenzie to about Fort Wrigley. They are good fish. The witness had eaten fish
all the way down through there. They are the main food supiwrt of the people of
that country both in summer and winter. The herring come in from the Arctic
ocean. Witness had been told that Great Bear lake just teems with that same
herring. Of course along the mountains they have speckled trout — rainbow trout they
There is no commercial importance attachii^g to the fish up there, and there is no
export yet, except from Lesser Slave lake. Three years ago an outfit from the United
States entered there, and they must have taken out about 300 sleigh-loads of fish from
that lake. They teamed them to Edmionton and shipped them from there. It was 250
miles to Edmonton. They got a cheap rate of freight, because the goods going into
Lesser Slave lake and Peace river furnished freight one way, and the fish furnished
freight the other. They had freight both ways, and so they had a fair rate on the
The buffalo are found between Peace point, on Peace river, and Buffalo river and
Salt river. The number is estimated at from two hundred and fifty up to ^yb hundred.
The wolves are so plentiful that they destroy the calves, and the nimiber is not increas-
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 99
ing. The wolves might he destroyed if a large enough bounty were offered to tempt
professional wolvers. They would soon clean them out, and witness thought it would
be worth doing that.
Mr. Bredin mentioned having seen the gas well on the Athabaeka river, about 120
miles from Athabaska Landing, last summer. The gas was blowing off, but it was not
ignited. His party lit it up and it blazed up about some 25 or 30 feet. About 60 or
60 miles below that the gas is all the time escaping from the clay banks of the river
and in the river itself, because all acroee the river you can see the bubbles rising. The
witness had lighted that gas, too, and boiled his tea pail there by hanging it over the
At Fort McMurray an outfit has been boring for oil two seasons. When the
witness was there in August last they were down 1,200 feet without striking anything
of commercial value, but afterwards they went through over 250 feet of salt in boring
there. All along the Athabaska, for a distance of 50 miles above McMurray, and
probably 100 miles below it, there are indications of oil, and the tar is just dropping
out of the banks all the time. For about 100 miles along the river the bank is prac-
tically lasphalt. To a layman it looks just like asphalt, tar and sand mixed together.
Then 'again on Great Slave river down towards Chipewyan there is tar dropping
out of the rocks on the banks of the river.
Immediately back of Fort Smith, some 20 miles, the supply of salt for the whole
north country is got, and has been got for a great many years, ever since the traders
went into the Northwest.
Down on the south shore of Great Slave lake the sandstone is saturated with tar
or oil, and in the bay at the north side of the west end of the lake there is a spring
As far as the witness went down the Mackenzie, there are no more indications of
oil or salt, but below the point he went to, at Fort Norm«n and Good Hope, oil or tar
is found again, besides salt and coal.
On his way from McMurray to Prince Albert, the witness found that the tar
sands appear on Buffalo lake, which is on the Churchill system of water, and that, in
his opinion, shows that the tar sands are both on the Mackenzie water system and on
the Churchill system, on both sides of the divide there.
There is coal on the Athabaska, 20 miles north of Fort McMurray, near Fort
McKay. On the Peace river there is said to be gypsum, below Boiling Rapid. There
is coal near Peace river crossing, and also on the Peace in the mountains, not very
far from Hudson's Hope. At Fort St. John there is a crust of some kind of iron ore
which they use as paint. The Hudson bay buildings at Fort St. John are painted
from this mineral paint found there. Between Lesser Slave lake and the mountains
the country is more or less underlaid with coal.
Being asked if in all that country he had been describing coal is not more or less
apparent, Mr. Bredin remarked, you may travel hundreds of miles there without hear-
ing of coal. Between Fort McKay, which is 20 miles north of Fort McMurray, and
away down to Norman and Good Hope, he never heard of coal.
Mr. Bredin claimed that the climate generally all over that country is no worse
than the climate of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The worst of it is no worse than
the climate of those provinces. He had spent a number of winters at Lesser Slave
lake, and could see no difference between the climate there and at Edmonton. Lesser
Slave lake is 250 miles north and 250 miles west of Edmonton. On the Peace he left
Fort St. John one spring, and the grain was up there six or seven inches. He must
have been at least a month going to Edmonton, and when he got there the grain was
just in the same stage of growth as the grain had been when he left Fort St. John ;
100 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
so it is earlier there. They very often seed at Fort St. John in March, and invariably
no later than April. Last year they began cutting the wheat at Peace river crossing pn
the last day in July, and the wheat was ready to cut ^ve or six days earlier than that.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Brick, the member for Peace river, in the Alberta legisla-
ture, started to cut on the last day of July, and he told Mr. Bredin that the grain was
ready to cut a week earlier. Mr. Brick cultivates 300 acres of land there in wheat,
oats and barley.
Stockmen west of Peace river crossing would have to feed their cattle, taking one
year with another, an average of seven wee^s, and east of that probably more. The
snowfall is greater on the lower part than on the upper part.
West of Fort Wrigley you get right into the Rocky mountains. The spring Mr.
Bredin was at Fort Wrigley, the months of March and April were the finest he ever
saw. He was there just one spring, and it was as pleasant weather as he ever saw in
this part of Canada for those two months, while the winters were no worse than he
had seen them in Manitoba. The Mackenzie river closed on November 1^ last year,
and there was a little snow then — and it lasted until March. Practically all the snow
went off the latter part of March.
The settlements north of Edmonton are at Lesser Slave lake. Peace river cross-
ing, Spirit river. Grand Prairie, Wolverine point and Vermilion. Those are all more
or less agricultural settlements. The Vermilion is quite a place.
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
The means of communication are trails and water routes.
At Fort Smith there are rapids sixteen miles long on the Great Slave river. If
those rapids were overcome by a canal, and the chutes on the Peace river for about
three miles, in all about 20 miles of canals, it would give about 3,000 miles of con-
tinuous navigation through that country.
There is a large tract of country there capable of sustaining an immense popula-
tion, following agriculture, mining, fishing and lumbering. In the event of a large
population being there and having a lafge surplus of products, the idea of the pioneers
is that those products would go west; that is, if a railway is built through the Pine
Mr. Bredin was told by the secretary of the Grain Commission that was travelling
around last year, that if they had an eleven-cent rate from Edmonton to the coast,
the grain-producers in Peace river would be in as good a position as those around
Winnipeg to-day, and he claimed the Grand Trunk Pacific would be able to give that
rate. This gentleman said the Grand Trunk Pacific people claimed that their grades
and curves would be so favourable that they would be able to give an eleven-cent
rate, and they could ship either to the Orient or England by the Pacific coast. Every-
body in the Peace river district believes in the Hudson bay route. A railway from
Peace river would tap that country, and if Fort Churchill is a good harbour, com-
munication could be made from Peace river to Churchill, and that would furnish a
good outlet to Europe.
In speaking of the eleven-cent rate, witness referred to a route from Edmonton
to the Pacific coast. That is on wheat. He did not know whether it was on one
hundred-weight or a bushel, but the secretary of the commission told him that if they
had an eleven-cent rate from Edmonton to the coast that they would be in just as
jfood position to ship wheat as Winnipeg is. Wheat would then be carried from that
point on the coast to the British market. If the Hudson. bay route was opened, it
would be very much better than that. It would be very mueh shorter, and a great}
deal of time would be saved. The people of Athabaska would be as much on the front
as they are at Fort Willian. The witness had never heard of wheat being shipped
from the prairies to the Pacific coast and to England. There is a mill in Hong Eong
that can grind three million bushels of wheat a year, and they are going to double
their capacity, so that they will grind six million bushels.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 101
EVIDENCE OF FEED S. LAWRENCE, JUSTICE OF THE PEACE OF FORT
VERMILION, PEACE RIVER, HEARD BEFORE THE SELECT COM-
MITTEE, APRIL 3, 1907.
Mr. Lawrence, whose name is familiar throughout the west on account of his
services in connection with original research and systematic exploration, explained
that his father went out to the Peace river from Montreal in 1879, in the employ of
the missions, becoming at once interested in the problem of making the missions and
Indian schools in the Peace river and the whole northern country self-sustaining. On
account of the experimental work done in this desert country by his father and his
family, they had come to be regarded as a freak family. His father succeeded with
his experiments, so much so that witness got the idea into his head that it might be a
good thing to try agriculture as a business, and follow it up by the milling industry.
That is how the Peace river country at the present time is being known to the world .
as a grain-raising district, and not as a trapping or hunting settlement. The settle-
ment of Fort Vermilion is in latitude 58 J, almost as far north as the northern part of
It had been supposed for many years by the majority of the people of Canada, as
well as of the other parts of the world, that the country to the north of the present
city of Edmonton is a wilderness, a country entirely unsuited for settlement, suitable
only for Indians. One white man once said, it was no place for a white man, but
witness could show that it was a fine country for white people to live in.
As an example of what the Peace river country can produce, Mr. Lawrence laid
upon the table a sample of No. 1 Hard wheat, raised there last year. He explained
that he had obtained the sample from the miller in charge of the Hudson Bay Com-
I)any's roller process flour mill at Vermilion, who told him that it was an average
sample of the 22,000 bushels he had in the mill at the time. It was not a selected
sample, but only an average of the wheat in hand at Fort Vermilion.
The grain raised there last year and for some time past has been of the quality
known as the Ladoga, a variety introduced there by the Lawrences, and obtained from
the experimental farm at Ottawa some years ago. It all started from a two-pound
sample. They tried Red Fife and other varieties, but in the early times, not under-
standing the conditions of the soil and climate, they found liie Red Fife and other
wheats were not as successful as they wanted them to be, so they tried the Ladoga and
Onega wheat. The Ladoga proved to be the best, and in the years following the first
experiment they had enough seed to discard the use of other seeds, and sowed the
Ladoga wheat exclusively.
Mr. Lawrence said he presumed that at the present time this variety of wheat,
which was Ladoga, would be so different from the Ladoga wheat that is raised in
Ottawa, that they would bear no resemblance to each other, because this wheat used
to be a soft wheat, while the sample produced, and which was just as it came from the
field, is called a hard wheat by men who understand milling.
Last year the witness tried four acres of Red Fife wheat, and sowed it alongside
of the Ladoga, and it ripened on the same date as the Ladoga. He has cut spring
wheat fully matured in 86 days.
As to the soil, many supposed that the Peace river valley, as a valley, was a low-
lying section of land in the bottom of the river. It is spoken of as ' The Valley ' by
many people, and they think that it extends from the mountains on to the Arctic
102 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
ocean, or somewhere else, and is a low valley perhaps two or three miles wide, covered
with prairie, and that all one has to do is to sow the grain in the ground, and harrow
it in without ploughing or any cultivation, and raise 150 bushels to the acre. But
those residing there do not find any such condition as that.
FLAT AND TABLE LAND.
The river bottom proper only consists of points or flats in the bottom of the bed of
the river, which * bottom ' is practically about two miles in width, whereas Ae great
Peace river valley proper, what is properly called the Peace river valley, is in reality
a broad tract of country. When you once get on to the height of land, this so-called
* valley ' covers 300 miles in width, and extends from the Rocky mountains on to Lake
Athabaska, into which the Peace river drains. The banks are very high where the
Peace river leaves the mountains — that is the banks of the river to get up on what is
spoken of as the height of land. At Fort St. John the banks are about 1,000 feet in
height, and it would be quite a problem for a farmer living up on the height of land
to get water from the river. When you reach the Peace river crossing, ivhich at
present is the terminus of the road or trail from Edmonton, the usual route to the
north, the banks are 800 feet in height, and where the road winds down the bank to
get into the valley or bottom of the Peace river, it is about one mile long, that length
being necessary to get suitable grade to get down to the bottom of the river.
From the Peace river crossing as the river swings to the north and east, the
banks gradually become lower, and when Wolverine point, about 200 miles to the
northeast of the Peace river crossing is reached, the banks are about 200 feet in
height. From thence to Fort Vermilion the banks become lower, and at Fort Ver-
milion you find the banks from 100 to 150 feet in height.
You will find the same conditions in the upper part of the river as in the lower.
It makes great bends, and on alternate sides of the river you find wide flats, where
there is probably the richest soil there is in that northern country, made up of alluvial
deposits, all black soil. There are places on the lower parts of these points which get
flooded, perhaps once in seven or eight years. Nearly all the points, however, are
above the high water mark, and when these flats are cultivated the soil yields the
heaviest of crops. On these flats cultivation of the soil was first undertaken in that
part of the country, and it was supposed by many that they comprised the only part of
the Peace river or northern country from Edmonton into the north that was suitable
for cultivation. For many years experiments were carried on on the flats. People
supposed that when they undertook the cultivation of grain on the height of land they
would get into the muskeg and swamp that adjoined the river in many places, and
grain could not be raised; but this has been proved to be a fallacy. The sample of
grain witness had produced was largely taken from the height of land or tableland
near Fort Vemulion. The tableland is sometimes called ' bench land,' and this bench
land in some places is very wide. There are places in it, as at the south of Fort
Vermilion, and to the north and west, where there is 100 miles of this land on each
side of the river before you come to the mountains.
This land is not all suitable for cultivation. It has its swamps and its muskeg,
and its low patches of land, that you will find in almost any country where you have
a large growth of scrub timber, but the larger part of this land, as the witness had
found by travelling over the country away from the river, is suitable for settlement.
Witness produced photographs of the grain raised on the soil that was formerly
covered by timber — low land and timber. One was a photograph taken last fall of
grain that was raised on land which had formerly been covered with bush. It was low
land that appeared to bo of no use whatever, covered with a thick growth of poplar
and willow. Witness also showed a photograph taken by himself of wheat cut during
the first week in August.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 103
Mr. Lawrence also showed a photograph of a field of potatoes in hloom. During
the month of July they have at Vermilion an occasional frost that sometimes cuts
the potato vines down, but never puts them back seriously — ^just enough to show the
effect of the frost on some of the top leaves. The potato vines, however, often show
no sign of frost until they are ripe, and the potatoes obtain their full size and are
matured. They had never had July frost severe enough to ruin the potato crops.
These frosts are very slight.
Last summer Mr. Lawrence planted his garden during the week following May 24,
and he planted tomatoes, cucumbers, peas and other vegetables. Last fall, during
harvesting, his family had squash pie that was made from squash ripened in their
own garden. The squash were raised just the same as the peas and other vegetables
and took their chances, no hotbed and no special care, and he also raised cucumbers
and tomatoes. The tomatoes did not ripen, for before they had a chance to freeze
they were taken up. The witness thought that with the care such as is given to these
things in Manitoba and other parts of the Northwest, planting these tender vegetables
early in hotbeds, and giving them care, the same success could be had in raising toma-
toes, squash or other things of that kind as is had in Manitoba and other districts.
At the Peace river crossing tomatoes were rii>ened last year in the open garden. Other
garden vegetables, such as cabbages, and so on, grow very well. He has raised
cabbages at Vermilion 18J pounds in weight, and swede turnips are raised in the open
field. Out of a three-acre patch he had selected turnips, and a great many of them
weighed from 18 to 25 pounds. They were of the purple-top variety. They had no
special attention or care, and they were good sound turnips. Although the season is
none too long for the ripening of wheat, as has been found in Manitoba and the
Northwest, in, order to be successful the grain must be sown early, just as soon as
the frost is out of the ground enough to permit the cultivation of the soil.
THE CULTIVATION OF WHEAT.
Mr. Lawrence explained that he had farmed at Vermilion for over 20 years, and
had never had a failure in wheat during that time, although he had as low as 5J
bushels to the acre. There was one very dry season which reduced the average, but
there was always a certain amount of grain raised there that was good for seed and
grinding puriwses. There has never been a complete failure from frost or any other
cause. They have no rust on the wheat up there.
He had raised as much as 66 bushels of wheat to the acre. That was the biggest
yield, and accomplished without any fertilizer whatever.
The witness drew the attention of the committee to the fact that some years ago
Dr. I>awson went through the Peace river country and reported that a large part of it
was covered with muskeg and would be permanently unsuited for agriculture. Four
years ago the witnsss took a trip from Fort Vermilion through Lesser Slave lake,
through an unknown country 250 miles. Later than that he travelled away from the
Peace river about 50 or 60 miles, and saw something that gave him an idea of thesq
muskegs. The muskegs had covered some large patches of that country, and the moss
was about three feet in thickness. There had been large tracts of this moss burnt
out. Forest fires had been running through there, and Mr. Lawrence supposed that
the fire burnt thousands of acres that had formerly been muskeg, as shown by these
large patches of moss, sometimes a few feet across and sometimes larger, which was
left standing, where the muskeg had been. On this burnt area the witness saw grass
from four to five feet in height. There were thousands of acres of it covered with the
red-top grass, which is the standard grass of the west. The reason these muskegs had
been there for so many years was that the moss formed a great sponge and retained
the moisture. But when all that land is drained, and the moss removed, it will cer-
tainly raise good crops of grass, and where grass can be grown, grain can be raised.
104 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
There would be trees in part of the muskegs which would keep the sun from it, and
it was only where the fires had had a chance to work in on the edge of the muskegs
and make a start on the moss that they had been burned out.
Mr. Lawrence stated that he would say that about one-tenth of the district to the
nortth is covered with moss. To the south of Grand Prairie through to the district
some distance to the northwest of Edmonton, towards the Sturgeon lake, there is a
large proportion covered with moss, and Dr. Dawson may have intended to refer
particularly to that district. Witness had been over the district between Fort Ver-
milion and Lesser Slave lake very thoroughly, and could speak from personal observa-
tion. To the south side of Fort Vermilion and to the west diere is a tract of fertile
country, varying in width from 100 miles down to 35 or 40 miles, and it is in this
part that one-tenth is covered with muskeg.
The heads of wheat at Fort Vermilion often would grow to the length of six
inches, and at times he had counted 65 kernels in one head of wheat. That head
would be taken just out of an ordinary field. That only goes to show how by selection
and careful cultivation you give a soil a chance to show what it can do. He did not
mean that that would be an average for a field, but he knew he often had found such
FALL WHEAT AND SPRING WHEAT.
There is one thing which had been found to be a great drawback to the Peace
river district, and that was the spring drought. There is not sufficient rainfall every
spring to start the grain as it should be started and have it growing in a few days.
Sometimes wheat planted in the late spring will remain in the ground for days before
it will germinate, or if it germinates and starts to grow, it will hardly hold its own
for some time, even until the latter part of May when the spring rains commence, and
then you can fairly hear it grow. That could be avoided by better cultivation and
earlier sowing. Sometimes the wheat which only started with the spring rains in the
latter part of May would grow very fast and very rank, and oftentimes would not
ripen before the frost would come, on account of having started too late. Owing ta
the occasional dry springs causing these troubles, he decided to try exi)eriments in
fall wheat, and at the first experiment he carried out he grew a small quantity of
* Golden Chaff,^ but not understanding the conditions under which fall wheat should
be raised, he did not make it a great success. Not that it was a complete failure, but
he did not get very large returns, although he gathered off the field heads of the
wheat fully matured, large and plump, ripe on July 18. Since then the provincial
government is giving some assistance in getting seed into that country, and this year
the witness has 40 bushels of fall wheat under experiment, and he has 50 bushels more
ready for experiment next year, so that he expects in the course of a few years ta have
something more to say about the fall wheat in the Peace river district. He thinks
the fall wheat will do better in the northern part of Alberta than in the southern,
because once the snow comes it remains all winter, and the fact of the spring being
very warm and dry would push the fall wheat right along, and it would probably be
up six or seven inches in height before the spring wheat would be above the ground.
Apparently there has not been much winter killing, but the first experiment only
has been carried out, and the witness could not tell from one experiment what the
yield would be. But the fact that the fall wheat did live through the winter and
matured early was sufficient assurance that it would be successful if the experiments
were carried out properly.
As to spring wheat, it has been matured and cut 86 days from date of seeding.
Last season (summer, 1906) wheat cutting would have commenced in the last of July,
but two days of rain delayed the starting of binders. In wet seasons wheat ripens
about August 20. The Red Fife tried last year gave as good returns as the Ladoga
wheat, and was cut at the same date. This had also been sown on the same date and
on the same kind of soil as the other wheat.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 105
Barley sown after the middle of May is usually ripe in the last week of July.
The continuous daylight with about 18 hours of sunlight account for the rapid
growth of all vegetables in these parts.
SMALL FRUITS AND FLOWERS.
Mr. Lawrence stated that he had not had any success with the raising of small
fruits from seeds, for the simple reason that he had not given the proper care, as labour
is scarce. He had planted small fruit seeds, which had been sent to him from the
experimental farm, and they had been largely left to take care of themselves.
Wild raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries, currants and cranberries grow in
abundance. The raspberries follow forest fires, and there are thousands of bushes of
raspberries going to waste in that country fully as fine in quality and size as the witness
had seen raised in the fruit gardens near Montreal. There is a wild strawberry that
grows very well. A cultivated berry should do better. He had not cultivated straw-
berries yet, for the simple reason that labour is so scarce. From within a few days of
the time that liie snow goes off the ground in the spring, until vegetation stops in the
fall, there is a continual changing of colour and variety of wild flowers, both on the
prairie and in the bush and woodlands. Every week you will see a change in colour
from one end of the season to the other. There are a great many varieties and they
grow in large numbers.
Two years ago Mr. Lawrence tried twenty-eight varieties of ordinary garden
flowers, such as sweet peas, pansies, &c., from seed, and out of the lot there were only
two that did not prove successful in the open garden.
With regard to cattle, they will do well in that country if there is food provided
for them. You would have to feed them from six weeks to three months in the winter,
depending on the season. In a winter like this year it would be necessary to feed them
about four and a half months. There are two large dairies at Fort Vermilion. It is
a good country for dairying. The water is good and plentiful.
The witness had never had any sheep there ; there are too many dogs and coyottes.
There are no sheep in the Peace river country. The timber wolves are very numerous
and come into the yards often. If it were not for the dogs and timber wolves the
sheep would do well.
The native horses winter out on the plains.
With regard to timber, the witness explained that in the valley of the Peace river,
the bottoms of the river, the islands — and there are large islands in the river — and
the points the witness mentioned before, are largely covered with a heavy growth of
spruce, which grows to a large size. The largest he had ever measured was four feet
four inches in diameter. A tree of that kind would carry its trunk well up, clean of
branches 40 or 50 feet up. Of course that is an unusual size, but timber three feet in
diameter is common on the hills and in the lower part of the bottoms. There is no
oak, but there is spruce, birch and poplar. The poplars grow to a large size. The
Cottonwood often grows to four feet in diameter, and the poplar grows to a diameter
of two feet.
The buffalo, Mr. Lawrence stated, never come as far west as Vermilion. East of
Vermilion, about 100 miles, buffalo may be found. His brother has been in that
country, and he told witness that one buffalo could make a great many tracks. He
saw the tracks of a herd, and he estimated that the entire number in the whole country
106 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
might number about 500. The wolves kill off the buffalo calves, and some of the year-
olds. The local legislature give a small bounty, which is no inducement for the people
to hunt the wolves. There is no protection for the buffalo other than that afforded by
the game laws, and the wolves do not observe them very welL
Mr. Lawrence remarked that he did not know much about the mineral resources,
but he knew that at the Peace river crossing and below it there are small seams of coal
jutting on the banks of the rivers. Twenty-five miles below the Peace river crossing
there is a spring of mineral tar which witness had seen himself. Near that there is
a spring or jet of gas, which the witness lighted last winter on an election trip and
boiled his tea kettle over the flame. In the lower part of the Peace river, not very
far from Fort Vermilion, some years ago the witness found a spring of petroleum in
the high bank, and just above Fort Vermilion there was a smoke which resembled a
large camp fire on the bank. Just what made the smoke Mr. Lawrence did not know,
but the ground was burned red, like brick, and cracked, and so hot it could not be
walked over witth moccasins. They did not investigate. The smoke was coming out
of the ground in several places, and he supposed it was a bed of coal that had been set
on fire in some way. The fire was put out one season by high water. It had burned
for three years. That was one of the occasions when several parts of the these points
were flooded by the river.
Below Fort Vermilion there is nothing that the witness knew of in the way of
mineral or other deposits, excepting that in the Upper Peace river there are mica
deposits. In the Lower Peace there are large cliffs of gypsum.
Mr. Lawrence stated that he found the climate to be much the same as in other
parts of Alberta. In the Peace river there was probably more uniform cold through
the winter and less storm. Owing to the country being covered by scrub bush, there is
less liability to storm. The country is sheltered more or less, and winds do not get
such a sweep as they do in the plains. This winter (1907) when he left the Peace
river country, in January, he found the snow to be one foot less than it was furthei^
south at Edmonton. The snow was about two feet deep throughout the Peace river
valley, and after passing the height of land on his way to Lesser Slave lake, he found
the snow to be very much deeper, and it kept getting deeper as he went towards
What is known as the Upper Peace river district is very much the same an at
Edmonton. The snow does not get deep and goes away earlier. The Chinook winds
have more effect there than in the eastern districts. The snow this year (1907) in the
Peace river district will be about two and one-half feet in depth. Occasionally it is
deeper, but the snowfall is very uniform one year with another, as well as the cold.
Winter sets in, in the Lower Peace river district, about the middle of November.
The first snowfall may be expected about the middle of November, sometimes later,
and occasionally earlier. Those who are interested in grain begin to look for the first
frost about September 1. They sometimes get frost before they look for it, and it
sometimes stays away a week or ten days after they look for it, but they generally get
it about the first week in September.
Frosts are more common in spots surrounded by trees and brush, and in the
opinion of the witness, when the country has become opened up more, and there is
more clear land, there will be little danger to any cereals or to hardy vegetables.
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 107
The season is backward in some parts of the Peace river district as compared with
southern Alberta. The snow takes a long time to get off the ground. They occasion-
ally commence seeding in the Peace river district during the first week in April, but
the average time for seeding in that part of the country to commence is April 26. In
the Upper Peace river the average time is about the middle of ApriL Their season
is earlier, but in the Lower Peace river they have had more success than those in the
upper district have had in the raising of wheat, although their season is earlier. Just
why witness did not know. The settlement at Fort Vermilion is to-day raising wheat,
which is ground into flour at the local mill and shipped into the Mackenzie river
The settlement at Fort Vermilion consists of about 500 people, composed of white
people and English-speaking half-breeds. The total production of wheat there last year
would be 25,000 bushels, the average being about 21 bushels to the acre. Of oats and
barley about 10,000 bushels, mostly barley, was raised. The wheat was ground and
used to make bread for the people out there. The first market is at Fort Vermilion
and the surrounding points, and whatever surplus there is is shipped down the Peace
river into the Mackenzie river district.
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
Vermilion, Mr. Lawrence pointed out, is a pretty good distributing centre for the
lower part of the Peace river.
He did not know how far it is from Churchill, but would assume about 900 mi'es.
From Vermilion to Edmonton by the road is 700 miles, and Vermilion to the coast
would be about 900 or 1,000 miles. It would be about half-way between Hudson bay
and 'the coast, and the witness expressed the opinion that before many years there
would be a railway from Hudson bay right through the main part of the Peace river
to the coast, and whatever was shipped to the markets of Europe would undoubtedly
go by Hudson bay. If there was a railway down to Lake Superior, the cost would be
great. The people of the district are satisfied that the Hudson bay route is a feasible
108 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF J. K CORNWALL, HEARD BEFORE THE SELECT COM-
MITTEE, APRIL 5, 1907.
Mr. Cornwall explained that he is a practical ' river man ' of seventeen years'
experience, and at present engaged in the transportation business on northern waters.
He has lived in the north country for ten years. He considers the waterways of the
Mackenzie watershed as perhaps the finest in North America.
The most southern point reached by navigation on the Mackenzie watershed is
at Fort McMunjay, at the junction of the Clearwater and Athabaska rivers, a point
about 276 miles north, and a litttle east of Edmonton. The distance from McMurray
to the Arctic ocean is approximately 1,600 miles. In all this distance the connected
waterways are navigable for steamers that are now plying upon them, and have been
for twenty years. There are in this long system of waterways two distinct divisions.
One extending from Fort McMurray to Smith's Landing is 300 miles in length,
and at low water you are restricted to a draft of two feet. That is only in the fall
of the year, when the waters are usually low in the north. During the spring season
and summer season there is ample water for any draft that you might see fit to load
on a steamer of the type that has been plying on this stretch of water for 20 years,
that is the stem-wheel type.
From Smith's Landing to Fort Smith is a distance of 16 miles, and there is a
series of falls occurring in this stretch of the Slave river of about 250 feet in all.
From Fort Smith to the mouth of the Mackenzie the type of steamer now plying
is the propeller type, and the greatest draft that they can load during the low water
reason is ^Ye feet. Proi)eller steamers are the type most suited for this end of the
route, and vessels of that type have plied there for 20 years.
The Hudson Bay Company are now building at Fort Smith a steamer to take the
place of the old steamer Wrigley. It will go into commission in the spring of 1908.
This steamer is being built at great cost, and when completed will bring the * Land of
the Midnight Sun' two weeks nearer Edmonton, on account of superior speed and
With a tramway at Smith's to give despatch to the handling of freight and
passengers that are, up to the present time, being handled in the old primitive way
(the portages on the river being made with the assistance of carts and oxen), and if in
the future there is railroad transportation from Edmonton to McMurray, it will be a
very simple matter to go from Edmonton to the Arctic and return in 30 days.
From McMurray up the Athabaska, for a distance of 100 miles, the physical
features of that river are of such a nature that steamer navigation is impossible. The
making of it navigable for steamers would be so costly that the amount of business
now and in the inmiediate future would not warrant the improvement of that part of
the river. If it was otherwise the li^ackenzie watershed could be tapped at Athabaska
Landing by steamers, which would bring the watershed then to within 100 miles of
Edmonton. As it is, McMurray is the nearest point at which a railroad could touch
and tap this immense waterway.
The stretch of waterway between McMurray and Smith's Landing has another
important connection. By swinging to the west at Lake Athabaska, and going up the
Peace, navigation on this river for a distancet of 1,000 miles is found with one inter-
ruption, namely, at the Vermilion Chutes, which occur ^ve miles above where the
Little Red river puts into the Peace and causes a break in this stretch of navigation.
A tramway of a mile and a half in distance would have to be built at this point. A
THE REGION WEST OF HUDSON BAY 109
transhipment of goods would have to occur here to connect with the steamers now
plying from this point, above the chutes, to Hudson's Hope, at the foothills of the
Rocky mountains, a distance of about 650 miles.
IMPORTANCE OF THE PEACE RIVEIL
The Peaee river practically passes through the centre of the vast Peace river dis-
trict, and in the development of this district will always play an important part, as
navigation is practically without a dangerous rapid or obstacle of any kind throughout
its whole course, with the exception of that one referred to at the Vermilion Chutes.
There is also another connection with the main system. By swinging to the east
upon entering Lake Athabaska, navigation for a distance of 250 miles is found, practi-
cally due east by the compass, but perhaps a trifle to the northward. From the most
extreme easterly point touched by navigation on this route it does not appear to be a
very great distance on the map, to touch a point that will be traversed by the proposed
Hudson bay railroad, and from information that the witness had from the hunters
and trappers of that district, it is not a difficult country to travel in or to construct a
You cannot go into Great Bear lake with steamers; Great Bear river is not
navigable. Great Slave lake, however, is navigable throughout its whole length and
breadth. It is practically an inland sea.
As to getting from Great Slave lake to Hudson bay, the height of land would have
to be crossed to tap the Hudson bay watershed. Back in the seventeenth century the
Hudson bay x)cople sent a man up there to Hudson bay; but by missing his way at a
point on a river where it widens into a large lake, and by taking the wrong branch,
he missed discovering what other people have discovered since. Handbury and Fair-
child, of the Tyrrell party, made the trip through from Great Slave lake to Hudson
bay without any great difficulty. There is no question, in Mr. Cornwall's opinion, that
had the man sent out by the Hudson Bay Company discovered this route, the north
country would have been exploited for fur at a much less expense by this route than by
the old route by Nelson river. Lake Winnipeg, the Saskatchewan river, the Clearwater,
Athabaska, the Peace and the Liard, * go out ' between April 20 and May 1, on the
way to bring goods into the country as compared with the other route referred to, if it
had been discovered.
As to the number of months in the year that this stretch of waterway in the
Mackenzie basin is open for navigation, Mr. Cornwall stated that all of the rivers
running to the north and each with their source in the Rocky mountains, namely, the
Athabaska, the Peace and the Liard, * go out ' between April 20 and May 1, on the
average. They are all navigable a week after they go out, but where these rivers enter
lakes the navigation opens later, it being not much before the first week in June when
the lake ice breaks up and disappears. Navigation is opened on an average about the
middle of June.
The Mackenzie river is a tremendous stream of water, being from two to four
miles in width for its whole length. It is navigable all the way except at the mouth,
where it spreads into a great many branches, and like all rivers of that kind, bars
occur, and they would have to be dredged, but that is a very easy matter as the bars
are short, and even now can be cleared with a whaleboat in a good heavy sea. You
can go down the Mackenzie as late as the latter part of October, so that there would
be practically five months of navigation.
Witness did not suggest the construction of canals on the Athabaska and Peace to
surmount the obstacles described, but tramways. The volume of business would not
warrant the expenditure on canals, but by the construction of 17 miles of trams, and a
railroad to McMurray, 3,000 miles of the finest river and lake navigation in North
America can be tapped.
110 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
This waterway runs through a country of vast natural resources. Timber,
asphaltum, copper, salt and fish are some of its natural resources. The agricultural
possibilities of the Peace river district are unsurpassed in the Northwest. As an
illustration of the latter, the witness explained to the committee that he was in posses-
sion of a letter dated two weeks previous to that date ,informing him that 5,000 sacks
of flour will be ground at Fort Vermilion this winter. Fort Vermilion is 670 miles
north of the United States boundary, and is in latitude 58*30. The Hudson Bay
Company has a large and excellently equipped flour mill there which cost $45,000.
SECTION C— EVIDENCE EELATINO TO THE NAVIGABILITY OF HTJDSON
BAY AND HUDSON STBAIT, AS AN ALTEBNATIVE MEANS OF COM-
MUNICATION WITH THE NOBTHWESTEBN BEOIONS OF CANADA.
CONTINUATION OF THE EVIDENCE OF A. P. LOW, B.Ap. Sc, F.R.G.S.,
GIVEN BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON FEBRUARY 7, 1907.
Mr. Low having completed his evidence as to the resources, &c., of Ungava and
the country north of the Saskatchewan watershed, was asked a number of questions
regarding the natural features of James bay and Hudson bay, and others on the
general question of the practicability of the Hudson Bay route.
Mr. Low stated that there are really no good harbours on the southern part of
James bay. The water is shallow, and at tide, rises six or seven feet. There are a
number of bars in the mouths of the rivers, so that the channels are in some places
crooked and generally obstructed and narrowed up in a number of places. If these
harbours are to be made fit for ocean-going steamers, there will have to be considerable
expenditure uppn them.
These harbours could be dredged out, witness thought. The bottom is mud and
boulders and drift. A harbour for smaller craft, twelve feet or so of water, could
probably be got. Harbours of that draft would be more easily obtainable.
Moose river is at present the best known harbour there. When ships come down
into that part of the bay, the captains can generally tell their distance from the land
by the depth of water; it increases in depth about six feet to the mile. They come
in out of the fairly deep water approaching the mouth of the Moose river till they get
into about three fathoms, and then they look for a buoy to the narrow entrance to the
river. There is a bar ten miles long which completely crosses the mouth of the river,
and there is just a narrow entrance to that bar, on which there is about fourteen feet
of water at high tide, and all ships have to go through it. The Hudson bay post is
fairly well channelled and beaconed. After passing over the bar they go up the river
about six or seven miles to the anchoring place, where the water is 18 feet deep at low
tide, and coming to the present Hudson bay post there are several places where there
is only six or seven feet of water, and some of these are narrow, so it is fairly good
navigation to get up to them.
Mr. Low explained that he had never been in the Albany river, but it is bad ; in
fact, it is worse than the Moose.
There is a harbour at the mouth of the Nottaway river at which he has never been
either, but they say there is a decent three-fathom channel up to it through the middle
of Rupert bay. For a long distance you do not get more than three fathoms of water,
and to get out of that at low water tide soon gets one yito diflSculty. He had a small
craft that drew three feet of water, and he used to run on ground in Rupert bay
regularly, just simply through not knowing the channel. The mouth of the Rupert
river is about in the same state. There is your channel that runs out and meets the
channel coming from the Nottaway, and you have to follow that up. There are only
two or three fathoms of water in these channels.
There is not much fog in the bay. The weather is fairly clear in the summer
Churchill is the only present natural harbour on the south side of the bay. That
is the first harbour going north.
112 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
To the north of Churchill there are a number of harbours in the inlets and bays,
but the ground outside is bad, and until the channels are properly dredged there ia
great danger of running on shoals in the northern part between Chiirchill and Fuller-
ton. York Factory, at the mouth of the Hayes river, is not a very good harbour.
There are a great many bars off the mouth, and the ships anchor seven or eight miles
below the Hudson bay post.
HUDSOy STRAIT HARBOURS.
There are plenty of harbours on botht sides of the Hudson strait. One is on the
north side and east of Digges island, but has not been properly examined yet. But
there is no doubt there are a number of good harbours there. On the south side the
witness examined the coast from Cape Wolstenholme to the south part of Ungava
bay> and there are a number of very good harbours along that coast. Between the end
of July and the end of September, when he was there, the strait was not quite clear of
ice, for some was floating in the strait.
The straits are practically never clear, but the ice that was in there after the
middle of July until November almost would not harm an ordinary vesseL The great
danger in the autumn in the navigation of Hudson strait is the stream of Arctic ice
that comes down from the Arctic ocean and from BafBn bay. Then from the end of
September snow squalls are frequent. The navigator is in far more fear of snow
squalls than fog. Late in September there is a heavy fog that rises from the water,
brought on by the excessive cold. When the temperature gets below zero there is a
continuous fog that rises from the water, sometimes 100 feet and sometimes 200 feet.
tTou could not overcome that by lighting nor with anything, except getting on the top
of the mast and looking over it ; it is a light fog.
The strait is navigable from about the middle of July imtil the first day of
November anyway, and a couple of weeks might be added at the end, because the ice
in Hudson bay, the new ice, is of no consequence to a ship untij it gets to be 15 or
18 inches thick, and not much ice forms before that date. The Arctic ioe that c<Rne8
down BaflSn's bay is serious, because it is heavy ice, and sometimes it is 40 feet thick.
It comes down from the north, and the witness expected that at the end of November
and December it is beginning to fill the eastern part of the straits. Part of it sweeps
around Kesolution island, and witness had seen heavy ice up as far as Digges island,
about the middle of the straits, and it is quite a serious thing. That would not be
the case every year. If there were high westerly winds « it would drive that ice from
the coast, and it would pass the straits without coming in.
In the report of his trip in the Neptune, Mr. Low had spoken of that ship having
got into the ice about July 22, and of having to ram her way through it. He explained
to the committee that that was coming out of the bay from Fullerton. They got in
the ice just off Cape Wolstenholme. He thought they were too far south and met
the ice, but to the north it looked as if they could have had open water if they had
kept away from Cape Wolstenholme. Very heavy ice would not come very much
earlier than November, because the Baffin bay ioe would not break up sooner.
Mr. Low again expressed the opinion that from the latter end of July to the middle
of November, from three and a half to four months, there was probably safe naviga-
tion, where ordinary iron tranip steamers could be used. He did not mean that it was
absolutely free from ice, but sufficiently free to make it safe navigation. The ioe
would not sink your ship or anything like that fhe ice that is met up there is rafted
up, and sometimes rafted deep. In the midsunmier months it gets warm and more
easily broken. The cementing material is practically gone from it You just run into
it and it breaks to pieces, and you see four times as much as you did befora
The Hudson bay shijw, as a rule, come into the Hudson bay about the first of
August, and the ship from Churchill comes back again about the end of the month.
It goes to Fort Charmell, in the Ungava river, and generally lies there until Septem-
THE NAVIGABILITY OP HUDSON BAT 113
ber 26, when it continues its voyage out, calling at the other places along the Labrador
coast, and leaving Cartwright, its last port of call, about the second week in October.
They are steamers, but of course they use their sails. The one that supplies that part
of the bay and Labrador coast is a sloop of war called the Pelican. These vessels are
not large enough to carry grain, but small boats of 400 or 500 tons and a draught of
16 or 18 feet.
So far as witness knows, there are no glaciers formed in any of the waters of
Hudson bay, or Any waters flowing into it from the north.
8ome years ago large quantities of the Baffin bay ice came down through that
channel by Digges island. Witness was in the Diana in 1896 and 1897, and ^e struck
there early in January off Digges island. There were quite a number of large pieces
of ice came in that way that did not add to their comfort at all. This ice comes in in
the winter time, as early as November probably, and remains there imtil it melts.
Some of it is liable to be there in July, but the ice melts very rapidly after the middle
of July. It would not impede navigation during the period he had mentioned.
Beally prepared steamers could navigate Hudson bay and Hudson strait longer
than the period he had mentioned; you could navigate the straits all winter if you
had a specially prepared vessel, but it would be a long voyage.
Except for the ice, Hudson bay and Hudson strait are not difficult to navigate.
The channel to Churchill harbour, Mr. Low said, he thought was about four
fathoms. Then it deepens gradually going out, so that if a captain was attending to
his soundings he would know when he was coming on to the coast, even if there was
a snowstorm. As you come to the bay, these soundings gradually decrease as you
reach through the passage between the two islands of Coates and Mansfield; so that
while keeping the soundings going you have no danger, or very little, of going on the
shoals or anything like that. Nelson is practically the «ame, except that there is no
The depth of the water in the channel between Coates and Mansfleld island is
thirty or forty fathoms, and the width of the channel twenty or thirty miles. The
depth of the channel at Nottingham is twenty-five or thirty fathoms. What he des-
cribed as a^diannel was really a passage out in the open sea.
Altogether the witness considered the Hudson bay route, when it was clear, an
even clearer one than via the St. Lawrence. There is at least two months when there
IS no trouble from ice at all, and when you do meet that loose ice in the simmier time
there is no trouble. There would have to be several lights established. There would
have to be lights at Nottingham island, and probably at Cape Digge. Charlatan
island would probably have to Ibe lighted ^at both ends, because it is practically in the
middle of the channel, and then there would have to be lights at Cape Chigney and
on Kesolution island. Lights would also have to be placed at the mouth of Churchill
114 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
CONTINUATION OF THE EVIDENCE OF J. B. TYRRELL, GIVEN BEFORE
THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON MARCH 2, 1907.
Mr. Tyrrell's examination as to the geographical features and resources of the
region north of the Saskatchewan watershed having been completed, was questioned
specially as to Hudson bay and the adjacent country and as to the practicability of
maintaining a route of communication via Hudson bay and strait.
Mr. Tyrrell said as he had tramped all round it, he was familiar with the country
about the bay. Asked as to the proposed route of the railway from Lake Winnipeg to
ChurchiU, he explained that west of the lake for a considerable distance there is a
great swamp along the Saskatchewan river. North of the lake you get into a lime-
stone country that has very little soil on it for probably 40 or 50 miles, till you get
to the Grass river. The limestone is fair building stone, similar to the stone at
Stony Mountains and Selkirk. Witness did not think that the swamp on the Saskat-
chewan could be improved. He thinks the grade on the Saskatchewan is rather too
low, unless the engineers went down as far as Grand Rapids and worked back from
Continuing to describe the route of the railway to Fort Churchill, Mr. Tyrrell
remarked that after getting across the limestone country, which has very little soil on
it, you get north to the valley of the Grass river, and there you reach to the clay
•country. Then you go, from where you reach the Grass river down to its mouth in
Split lake, over a gentle roUing clay-covered country. None of the hills are probably
over 100 feet high. It is just a gently rolling country with not very deep valleys.
It would be very easy to build a railroad. From Split lake northward, the railway
route as it is marked on the map, runs round by the Fishing lakes. There is a fairly
good country along the valley of the Nelson river, till you get north to^the Fishing
lakes. It is a good agricultural country and an easy country to build a railroad in.
Then there is a country that is stony and hilly, covered with jackpine, a sandy, stony
country for a distance, it might be, of 25 to 50 miles or so. After descending from
that you get down to a level or gently sloping apparently level plain, which is one
vast swamp, the only dry places being along the banks of the streams. That plain
extends down to the shore of Hudson bay, and a railroad can readily be built on it, as
long as the line keeps to the dry drained portion close to thei banks of the maiii
SHORES OF HUDSON BAT.
This would bring the line down to the Churchill or to the Little Churchill, or to
the Deer river or any of the little streams that run across that plain. The streams
here, as a rule, are cut down 20 to 30 feet. The plain is very extensive. He would
say it is quite impracticable, except with very great diflficulty and great expense, to
travel across this country in sunmier away from the streams. He walked across it in
winter. This swamp goes right down to the shore of Hudson bay. The country is of
the same character all round from Churchill down to James bay. The western side
of the swamp land is about 100 miles west of Hudson bay. North of the tree limit
there is no swamp. The mossy swamp does not grow beyond the forest line.
The ^ore of Hudson bay is very low generally. In many places on the shores of
Hudson bay, where the tide only rises eight or nine feet, it runs out ten miles. Mr.
Tyrrell said he had been on the edge of that flat country, and at low tide he could not
see the water at all; it was so far out.
THE NAVIGABILITY OF HUDSON BAt 115
From the place witness left the Fishing lakes and struck the plaiti> to the bay,
through the swamp, would be a distance something like 100 miles.
The mouth of the Churchill river is an exception to the general chturacter of the
Hudson bay shore. The remarks about the shore descending to thd bay do not
apply exactly to the mouth of the Churchill river. That is the reasoii Churchill is
a harbour. Churchill would be a harbour in low water ; it is one of the hiost magni-
ficent harbours in the world, probably the finest harbour. It is formed by a rocky hill
rising about 100 feet high and bow-shaped. Projecting out into the bow is a rocky
knuckle on one side, so that in entering the harbour ships have to take a slight curve,
and they very quickly get away from the influence of the ocean waves. At the present
time the harbour is about 30 to 40 feet deep. The tide is heavy, and rises from
nine to sixteen feet. The channel is the same width at low and high tide. The
channel out into the bay from the harbour is a rock-bound channel, probably one
hundred or two hundred feet deep, so that that channel is clear either at high or low
water. It is wide enough for a couple of ships to pass and incur no danger. There^
is one rock in the mouth just a short distance from the point of the projecting rock
he had spoken of, and if that were removed it would widen the harbour and
perhaps double its width. The width of the entrance to the harbour is now about
1,200 or 1,600 feet. The entrance is narrow. It is a beautiful harbour for the Bhips
to enter from the ocean. The rock rises precipitately on both sides to 100 feet. Th^re
is no iwssibility of a ship getting away from it. Where the rocks run as they do at
this harbour, it makes a natural slip, about as safe a place to enter with a ship as one
could very well imagine. The entrance is from a quarter to half a mile long. Out-
side of the harbour is the open ocean with its deep water.
Mr. Tyrrell was at Churchill in the fall two different years, approximately in the
months of October and November. He reached there October 16 one year, and he was
there part of November. In one of his reports he published a table giving the dates
of the opening and closing of navigation; obtained from the records of the Hudson
Bay Company at Churchill.
CLOSE OF NAVIGATION.
Asked by the Honourable Mr. Ferguson if the Hudson Bay Company placed the
information very cheerfully at his disposal, witness replied that the Hudson Bay
Company do not like to have their far trade interfered with.
Mr. Tyrrell left Churchill about. If ovember 25 or 29. The bay was open then and
there were no icebergs. A ship could not go out and in then. The harbour was closed.
The witness arrived at Churchill one year from the north on October 16 in a canoe.
He considered if he could travel down the shore of Hudson bay in a Peterboro canoe,
and get to Churchill safely with it in two successive years, one year as late as October
16, and the other year as late as the 1st, that a steamer or a well protected boat ought
to be able to get through a little later.
The witness stated that he did not want it to be understood that while he was
out on the bay up to October 16, that there was no ice forming on the shore. There
was ice forming, and it was exceedingly unpleasant travelling. He had to go to the
shore to camp every night. The ice wa-s not thick, and he was able to travel in the
e-anoe. Occasionally he had to shove through the ice. The ice would form on the
paddles as he was paddling along. He did not recommend anybody to take the trip
down the shore of Hudson bay in a Peterboro canoe, or in any other canoe, but at the
same time he thought that where he travelled at that time of year, a large and properly
equipped boat could travel without any inconvenience or trouble at all. A vessel could
QTO in and out of Churchill on November 1. That is about the latest. As to the time
a vessel could enter at the opening of the season, that varies. The opening of the
harbour varies nearly a month. The average time of opening, according to the old
records, as far as he remembered was June 19, and when it is open it is wide open.
116 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
From his knowledge he did not say the bay as far as the mouth of the Churchill
river is navigable from June 1 to November 1. He was credibly informed that there
is more or less Arctic ice comes down and blocks the mouth of the Churchill harbour
for a period in the summer time.
Asked how far up the mouth of the Churchill could vessels go, Mr. Tyrrell
explained that as the ^harbour stands at present, they could only go about three*
quarters of a mile inside the mouth of the harbour, but the rock-bound basin is about
eight miles long and a mile wide. It is filled with silt from the mouth of 1^ Churcdiill
river, and would have to be dredged, but a harbour could be made with comparatively
little trouble about eight miles long. There would be no difficulty in building eleva-
tors, wharfs and warehouses at the point the vessels would come to.
The witness said it would not be difficult to build a railway from Churchill to the
Peace river country. By keeping a little south it would traverse a good agricultural
country, after you get 100 miles from Churchill. By following the banks of the
Churchill rather than a straight line to the west, the line would go through a good
THE NAVIGABILITY OF HUDSON BAY 117
EVIDENCE OF ROBERT BELL, M.D., CM., F.R.G.S., C.E., &c., OF THE
GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF CANADA, GIVEN BEFORE THE SELECT
. COMMITTEE, MARCH 12, 1907.
Dr. Bell explained that he had been through Hudson strait nine times. The first
time was in 1880 in a ship called the Ocean Nymph, a small sailing vessel, and the
last time was in 1897 with Commander Wakeham. His trips were distributed over
those seventeen years between 1880 and 1897. Commander Wakeham took him out in
the Diana with his yacht on her deck and let him off at Big island, on the north side
of the strait. Then he worked west with the yacht and returned after his survey.
They entered the strait on June 22 in 1897, and went completely through and back
again before he left the Diana. Conamander Wakeham lowered his yacht into the
sea at Big island, and he surveyed the coast westward as far as he thought safe, so as
to return and meet the Diana there. As he had ten days to spare after reaching Big
island, he surveyed the coast for some distance eastward of it.
Dr. Bell was not sure, but he thought that date (June 22, 1897) was the earliest
date he entered the strait on any of his voyages. They did not see any ice at the
entrance, but encountered it later, especially towards Fox bay. The latest period he
passed through the strait was, he thought, with the Ocean Nymph. They cleared the
strait before the middle of October — between the 1st and 15th he would say. All his
trips were between June 22 and about October 10.
In navigating the strait during the season between those dates, with a steamship,
they never had any difficulty, nor was there any difficulty with the Ocean Nymph,
which was a x>oor ship for sailing. He is of opinion that the straits are navigable for
steam merchant shipping during the season between these two dates. He saw no
trouble or difficulty, in his own experience, in passing through. In some parts of the
btrait he saw ice, but it was near the north side. Captain Wakeham wished to land
him at King's cape — that is the angle formed by Hudson strait and Fox bay — but
owing to the movements of the ice it was impossible at the time. In fact the witness
did not want to go ashore there, because the shore was so badly charted he did not feel
that it would be safe. He wanted to be picked up at some well-known i)oint, and if
he had been landed at King's cape the chances were Wakeham could not find him, nor
witness Wakeham. It was agreed, therefore, that the witness should be landed on Big
island. There the Diana picked him up again. When the ship came on the date
appointed, it was a stormy day, and the captain could not take the witness on, but
came back the following morning.
Dr. Bell never passed through on a very powerful steamer with high speed ; in fact,
on no more i)owerful steamer than the Neptune. He went through on the Neptune,
and afterwards on the Alert and then on the Diana, The Neptune has only 110
tiominal horse-power, but she makes eight knots an hour easily. The Diana is smaller,
but more easily handled, and did very good work. On the Diana expedition the
greatest trouble they had with ice was off the east coast of Labrador. Until the middle
the summer set off East Labrador is filled with ice for a long distance out from
The Alert was specially built for ice. She was very strongly built. Up to the
date the Dominion government had her, she had been further north and further south
than any other ship in existence. She was a mass of wood with little accommodation.
The Neptune is also a very strong ship.
The Neptune and Diana were built for use in the seal fisheries where they have
water to move about in. They do not get into trouble needlessly, do not break the ice
118 CANADA'S FEETILE NORTHLAND
for the sake of breaking it. Witness never heard that the strait was frozen across in
winter. There is ice there, btit always more or less open water with it, at all times.
Witness had heard of Eskimos crossing the strait on ice floes, but he had no evidence
that they had actually done so. Their home is on the ice — they live there — build snow-
houses, kill seals, and keep igloe warm with lamps fed with blubber. If any Eskimos
ever crossed the strait on the ice they did so by watching their chances and X)as8ing
from one field of ice to another. If they did not succeed in crossing, they would not
mind it ; they would go back.
CURRENTS AND TIDES.
A current runs both in and out of Hudson bay. It runs in with the tide for a
time, and then runs out again. There is also a constant set westward on the north
side of the strait and a set eastward on the south side. K you olbserved an individual
mass of ice, you would see it pass both ways twice every day until it gradually worked
its way inward, if it was on the north, and outward if on the south side of the strait.
Dr. Bell said he thought there was not more ice at the entrance of the strait from
the ocean than found further west in the strait. On the average, he had seen more
ice towards Fox bay. A good deal of the ice in Hudson bay comes from that direc-
The rise and fall of the tide at Big island is 31 feet, and in Ungava bay it riscB
some 50 feet. It is the second highest tide in the world. Fox bay is a basin which
is not on the route of ocean navigation. The reason why there is such a high tide in
Ungava bay is probably that the tidal wave from the Atlantic is met by the curving
east Labrador coast and the land to the north, heaping the water at the entrance of
Hudson strait. At all events, the whole appearance in Ungava bay is altered between
high and low tide. Dr. Bell said he had heard of a ship anchoring in deep enougti
water, and in the morning the captain found his ship resting on a rock so tiiat he
could look down hill all around him, and he was afraid the ship might roll off.
The depth of water in the strait is from 300 to 340 fathoms near the entrance
from the Atlantic ocean, west of Cape Chudley. The depth depends on where you
happen to take soundings. During the voyage the witnes made on the Ocean Nymph,
they spent half a day taking soundings, but the water was so deep that it took all
hands a long time to haul up the lead by a hemp rope.
Roughly speaking, Hudson strait is 500 statute miles in length and averages 100
miles in width. If Ungava bay be called part of the strait, it would be 250 miles wide
The width of the channel between Nottingham island and Cape Wolstenholme is
probably 30 or 40 miles across. The hills are very high — 2,000 feet to 3,000 further
inland, and the water is very deep in that channel. The deep channel runs up the
tniddle of the strait and passes out of the western end between Nottingham island and
Digges islands, off Cape Wolstenholme. These are not very large islands. They dis-
f.overed a harbour on the southwest side of the western islands. The water continues
deep between Mansfield island and Coates island, wihch is a very wide channel. These
islands are of limestone rocks and are not so high and rugged as the mainland.
Witness did not remember seeing any ice after getting clear of King's cape. He had
no trouble from the ice west of Fox bay. He had passed between Cape Wolstenholme
and Mansfield island once in the Neptune going south, and had to stem a very strong
tide. It was all the ship could do to hold her own. The captain did not anticipate
any trouble, but had great difficulty in stemming the tide. That is not the channjel
that would be used going to Fort Churchill ; the current seems to set north close to the
east main coast. You would not get the same current in the other channel; it seemed
to hug the main shore. The expedition had a station on Nottingham island, and when
they left the island they did not find any difficulty between Mansfield and Coates
islands. The strong current mentioned might have been an exceptional case during
THE NAVIGABILITY OF HUDSON BAY 119
six or eight hours when the spring tide was setting out at its worst. At other times
they might have had slack water.
There are no serious shoals in the route between Coates island and Mansfield island
-and through the strait out to the ocean, and the land is so high that even at night you
can see the outlines of tTie hills against the sky, but an occasional light, and a tele-
graph line connecting them would be useful. There is one island, Charles island, with
one hundred miles or more to the north of it in which to choose your course. You
heed not go near that island. A stranger by keeping clear of what he sees would not
be in any danger of striking rocks. Dr. Bell said he did not know any more desirable
piece of navigation in the world, excepting the middle of the ocean, and even then a
common sailor who could not take an astronomical observation could sail through the
Btraits with perfect safety. That is what Henry Hudson's men did after putting him
and part of the crew into an open boat and leaving them behind.
AIDS TO NAVIGATION.
In his opinion all that is necessary to be done in the way of aids to navigation
through the strait, the whole distance from the Atlantic ocean to Hudson bay, is the
installation of probably throe lights on each side with telegraphic lines connecting
them. Even one light in Hudson strait would be better than none, two better still,
and six would be still more so.
As to the preparation of reliable charts of these waters, a good deal requires to be
* done yet. The north side from about Charkbok to a point north of King's cape, or
King Charles cape, is badly charted, so badly that there are two lines, one overlapping
the other, representing the same coast. The chart makers were so uncertain as to
where to place the line that they put both down. The existing chart was made in
London largely from information furnished from time to time by captains of
vessels. Afterwards Lieutenant Middleton, of the Royal Navy, sailed through the
strait and bay on a Hudson Bay Company's ship, and made observations for latitude
and longitude which improved the chart a little. The department has a geological
survey of the east coast of the bay. The witness surveyed that coast from Moose
Factory northward — that is the east coast of James bay and up Hudson bay to Cape
Dufferin. The rest of the shore north of Cape Dufferin was surveyed by Mr. Low, up
to Cape Wolstenholme. Dr. Bell came south himself in a small boat from Digges
islands to a place called Ponga. He thought it was the place where Henry Hudson's
men went ashore and were attacked by the natives. The mutineers who put Hudson
ashore had wintered in 1610-11 at the mouth of the Nottaway river. They had passed
a miserable winter. Soon after sailing on the ri;turn voyage in spring, the men
mutinied and took possession of the vessel, putting the officers off in a boat somewhere
near the east shore of James bay and proceeded northward. Afterwards they landed,
probably at the place called Ponga, and proceeded to help themselves to the provisions
they found in the caches of the Eskimos, who thereupon attacked and killed several
of them. The survivors ran away, boarded their ship and sailed through the strait
and across the Atlantic to the coast of Ireland.
Dr. Bell said he thought an exploration was necessary in order to get a reliable
chart of that route and for the purpose of correcting existing charts. There was somf^
correspondence about that matter more than twenty years ago. The Imperial govern-
ment did not think it important enough to justify the expenditure. They replied that
they had only a few ships for such purposes, and that those ships were then employed
on the coast of China, &c., getting information which was very important to British
trade. They said the trade through Hudson strait was then of such comparatively
little importance that they would not be justified in making a survey at that time. It
would not be difficult to equip one of the Dominion's own ships for the purpose.
While it is not immediately necessary, it should be done in the interest of navigation
120 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
sooner or later, but the shores are so bold and well defined that you could navigate the
strait without any further charts than we possess.
There was fog one October day when the witness was going out on the Ocean
Nymph, and great numbers of ptarmigan lit on the rigging of the ship in c on se q uence
of the fog. That is the only fog he remembered seeing in the strait Once or twice
the witness had experienced a little flurry of snow there. In some of the repoErta; ti»y
always speak of blinding snowstorms, but the witness had met nothing of the kind.
Speaking of the surveys, witness explained that he had himself surveyed tiie part
of the coast from the neighbourhood of Icy cape west of Charkbok, but that was a
topographical survey. It was not for a chart. The whole of the coast is bordered by
such a wide archipelago of islands, that you could not easily define it. Mr. Low made
a survey from Douglas Harbour, eastward on the south shore to the bottom of Ungava
bay, so these two surveys would be of some assistance in making a general chart. If
the rest of the shores were surveyed as well as they did these parts, it would not be a
The ordinary ocean-going vessels would be suitable for navigating Hudson bay
and strait, but in the winter time it would be all the better if the ships were protected.
SEASON OF XAMGATION.
Dr. Bell, replying to a question by the Hon. Mr. Tessier, said it was hard to say
how many months of the year steamers could pass through the strait. He did not see
why they could not pass through at any time in the winter, though it would be incon-
venient. Neither the bay nor the strait are frozen up any more than the Atlantic
ocean. He could not conceive a bay 600 miles wide, in the same latitude as the British
islands, being frozen with the meteorological conditions being normal for their lati-
tudes. He might be told that it is the influence of the gulf stream that keeps the
navigation open in the same latitude on the coast of Europe, but his informant would
«ot know himself how the gulf stream works. Here you have no Arctic current such
IS you have along the Labrador coast, nor have you the advantage of the gulf stream;
/ou have just the normal conditions for their latitudes.
Asked by the Hon. Mr. Watson as to the maximum and minimum temperatures in
the strait, witness replied that in summer they had occasional frost at night, showing
that the mercury must have fallen to about 30° or lower. They would find in the
morning a little skim of ice around the yacht, but on going up among the hills during
the day, the heat would be intense. The sun rises at half-past two or three in the
morning and shines until ten o'clock at night in summer. He did not remember being
ashore in October, but he penetrated inland earlier in the season. He had been in to
the big Lake Amadjuak, north of the strait. That lake and Xettilling lake, both in
Baffinland, are comparable to Lake Ontario.
The temperature of Hudson bay is about the same as that of Lake Superior. Lake
Superior is cold, and early in summer it is foggy on account of the hot sun and the
cold water. If you were out on a promontory you would find the water of the lake
cold in the middJe of summer, while in a sheltered bay you might find it warm enough
to plunge in and have a bath. Dr. Bell said he had bathed in the water in BaflSnland,
and found it very pleasant, but it was only a few acres of water fed by a small stream
running over boulders which were heated up by the sunshine, and so made the temper-
ature of the water pleasant. In one of his reports, in 1877, he had a table showing the
temperatures of the air, the sea and the rivers up the east main coast. That table was
accurately prepared at the time as the results of observations, and he would prepare a
copy of it for the committee.
The sailing vessels that had been passing through the strait would all be in the
neighbourhood of 300 tons. They were not always specially constructed for that ser-
THE NAVIGABILITY OF HUDSON BAY 121
vice, but of late years a steamer, the Erie, takes the place 'of sailing ships. Old
sailing vessels could scarcely hold their own in a head wind, and if there were scattered
ice in the strait, they could hardly get through at all, and then it would be reporteii
that they were stopped by the ice.
There is an ice cap many miles long called Grinell Glacier, the southern part of
Baffinland. Baffinland is an island a little over 1,000 miles long, and part of it is
some 500 miles wide. There is a good deal of glacier ice among the high hills in its
northeastern parts. There is only one place where Grinnell Glacier flows into the sea,
and the little icebergs that break off there are carried into the current along the north
shore of the strait.
Asked by the chairman (the Honourable Mr. Davis) for information regarding
the harbour of Churchill, Dr. Bell explained that Churchill river is the only stream
on the western side of Hudson bay which enters the sea through solid rock, and has a
fixed depth of water. He thought 12 fathoms was about the depth at the entrance.
Then, when you get inside, there is good shelter with water shoaling to 8, 7, 6 and 5
fathoms at low water, with sufficient space to anchor a considerable number of ships.
The entrance is like a slightly bent arm surrounding a point, and the moment that you
turn the angle you are in perfect shelter. The entrance is regarded as quite safe. It
is about half a mile wide. There is a lagoon at Churchill which fills up as the tide
flows in. It is about eight miles long by over one mile wide, and all that water has to
pass out of a narrow gap, is that when the tide goes out there is a rushing current
from the lagoon. The spring tide is about 18 feet.
Dr. Bell explained that he piloted the first steamship that ever entered the har-
bour. Before that time he had been 'out and in with Hudson bay ships, and also often
with canoes and sailing boats, and had sketched the place and knew there was no-
danger. He was the only man on the st^eamship who had ever been there before. As
the vessel approached the harbour the sea was rushing out, and there was a tremendous
foam. The captain hesitated to enter and steamed forward very slowly until he
reached this place, when he became very nervous about entering. Dr. Bell told him he
might throw him into the sea if he touched bottom anywhere along the course he
directed. The captain kept a man sounding the depth, but the lead never touched
bottom at all. The rushing tide, going out, carried away the lead long before it could
reach the bottom. As soon as the steamship passed through the narrow entrance, there
was very little current.
The harbour is large and fairly deep. From the time you turn the comer and get
into complete shelter there is a space of half a mile to a mile in length where you can
lay your ship almost against the shore, and there is deep water for perhaps a third of
a mile out from the shore.
Dr. Bell explained that he had also gone to Churchill from inland. He had been
in different years along the whole course of the Nelson, through the country north of
Lake Winnipeg, down the canoe route ordinarily travelled to Hudson bay, and which
takes in Pike river. Trout river, Hill river. Steel river and Hayes river. He was for
a long time very anxious to get across -from the Nelson to the Churchill, but for years
everybody said it was impossible, but at last by inquiry from Mr. Roderick Ross, the
Hudson Bay Company's officer at Norway House, he heard of an Indian who knew of
a route. The witness crossed and surveyed it, and having mapped it out, it has been
used a good deal ever since. Dr. Bell went first down the Little Churchill and after-
wards the Big Churchill. No white man had ever gone down the river in the present
generation, and it astonished them very much at Fort Churchill. He had two small
canoes and four Indians. He camped at New Fort Churchill and proceeded to explore
the country around, and find out about the rocks.
122 CANADA S FERTILE NORTHLAND
With regard to harbours on James bay, Dr. Bell stated that there are plenty of
harbours on the east side from Rupert's bay northward. The water is a good deal
lower than it was in Hudson's time. There might have been a harbour at the mouth
of the Nottaway river at that date. Henry Hudson came there in a small ship, and
the water was deeper then. Geologists speak of the land rising, but in the present ease
it might be correct to say that the sea is falling. The sea does not usually subside,
but the general subsidence of the water in the north polar regions is from a diflFerent
cause altogether. The ice cap which forms during some small geological period, say
two or three hundred thousand years, changes from one pole to the other, owing to the
movement of the earth, the procession of the equinoxes, &c. The south polar con-
tinent is covered with an ice-cap, probably two miles thick; and this will add a great
weight — counterpoise which might change the centre of gravity of the whole earth,
say 600 feet. This would lower the sea, say 3,000 feet at the north pole. Witness had
no doubt the centre of gravity of the whole earth may have been moved 500 feet to the
south, and this would draw the sea in that direction, leaving some of the northern
regions partly dry. It is like a large portion of the earth rising out of the water, but
it may really be the sea that has retired and left the northern regions dry, or the
waters shallower. At any rate the water in Hudson bay is receding.
The Hon. Mr. Power remarked that on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and on
the coast of New England the sea is gaining on the land comparatively fast, and asked
if that was not rather inconsistent with the theory expounded by the witness.
The latter replied, * Yes, if the general facts are true.' He went on to say he did
not know as to that. The two cases in Nova Scotia given by Sir William Dawson had
been shown not to be due to the general subsidence of the land, but to a sliding in of
the land at these points. The nature of the earth in the background is such that it
pushes that which is next to the sea into the water, submerging stumps, and giving
the appearance of subsidence.
THE SHALLOWS OF JAMES BAY.
Dr. Bell said he did not know of any good harbour at the head of James bay, say
40 miles on either side of the boundary between Ontario and Quebec. There is an
archipelago of islands from Sherrick's mount, north of Eupert's House, for a long way
up the coast, and behind these islands there seem to be numerous places. He could
not say off-hand if there is a place for a harbour at the Nottaway river. At Moose
Factory you have to go nine or ten miles out to sea to get water deep enough to float
a ship. On the other side of James bay it is still worse. In Rupert's bay there are
channels like ditches cut through the level mud. The Hudson Bay Company sends
out men to drive stakes for beacons there, and they put brushy tops on them. They
can do this work by walking on the mud with long boots. There is a narrow channel
containing the river, say 10 feet deep at low tide, passing out. There is such a channel
running out from the mouth of the Nottaway river northwestward, and it is joined at
right angles by a similar channel from the Rupert river; but the Nottaway is an
immense stream, twice as large as the Ottawa. Those channels meet and they pass by
Stag Rock out to Stag island before they get deep enough.
James bay has a suflficient depth of water for safe navigation out in the middle;
but there is a great breadth of shallow water along the west side. At low tide yon
could not pass anything there. There is an island on that side called Akimiski, which
means * slippery clay/ and between this island and the shore the bottom is level and
covered with boulders, and that condition continues all the way down. He had tried
to pass through there in a canoe and had been left dry at low tide. There is mud all
around the head of the bay till you get north of Sherrick's mount on the east side.
The first time the witness* crossed James bay was in 1875. He was sailing across the
bay from Moose Factory to Ministickwatin, and was almost out of sight of the low
land. He asked the Indians how deep the muddy water was, and one of them said,
*I will soon tell you.' He took out an oar, and plunging it down found about four or
THE NAVIGABILITY OP HUDSON BAY 123
five feet of water. The land is exceedingly low, and covered for miles with grass next
high water mark, then buehes, and finally with small trees. You have to go a
long distance inland before you ^t tall trees. The tide at James bay is less than at
Churchill and York, but no two tides are alike. If the wind is blowing from the north
it will rise 16 or 20 feet, but if it is blowing from the south it does not rise more than
7 or 8 feet.
THE PROPOSED RAILWAY ROUTE.
At the request of the chairman, Dr. Bell proceeded to give some information
regarding the country between Churchill and the north end of Lake Winnipeg, and
to' express an opinion as to the practicability of building a railroad through there.
Leaving Warren's Landing at the outlet, there is good land with iwints of rookj
near the rivers, along both the Nelson and the canoe route by Hayes river, but it may
not extend everywhere inland. Of course these streams follow the greatest depres-
sions, and the fine clay soil close to the river may have been deposited there, because it
follows the deepest depression. He explained that he went down to York Factory in
1878, 1879 and 1880. He once toc^ the route from Churchill to the Nelson which Mr.
Tyrrell traversed. He went down the Little Churchill to its junction with the main
Churchill, which he followed to its mouth. The route surveyed by the engineer who
worked for a Montreal company some thirty years ago, followed Deer river in
approaching Churchill harbour. This was George Baynes, of Charlottetown, P.E.I.
He cut out a line from the foot of the navigable water north of Playgreen lake. There
is navigable water there, and he commenced to survey from the north end of it. That
carries navigation probably forty or fifty miles below Lake Winnipeg.
Li traversing that country, Dr. Bell explained, he explored to ascertain the agri-
cultural value of the tract lying mainly to the west of that route, to the south of Split
lake. West of the Nelson valley, there is a pretty good country. He had not been
over much of it. He had been up and down the Grass river in that region. There is
a post of the Hudson Bay Company called Nelson River House. It is really on
Churchill waters at Three Point lake, and the country between this and the Nelson
river. Dr. Bell believes, is pretty good. On the route he followed from Nelson river
to Churchill river the land consists of a hard clay surface. A good deal of the country
is burned, and you can see the clay land. The rise from Split lake to the head of
Little Churchill river is very considerable. The main Churchill flows at a general
elevation of probably 500 feet above the Nelson river, but after you get down the. main
Churchill to a x>oint about 50 or 100 miles from the sea, you can see nothing on either
side excepting muskeg. A streak of bushes follows the river. Beyond that you cannot
see anything, and long before you come to Hudson bay you can see Fort Prince of
W^ales looming on the horizon.
Asked for a definition of the word muskeg. Dr. Bell explained that muskeg is the
same class of country you find up on Lake Superior. The word is just the Cree or
Ojibway name universally used for what would be called wet barrens in Nova Scotia.
It would be from half a dozen feet upward in depth. Many travellers have noted the
clay banks along the Hayes river all the way down to York Factory, and they have
declared the soil was frozen to a depth of 50 feet or more, and near the mouth of the
Nelson river it would be over 100 feet. It shells ofF in summer in great slabs, ten feet
thick, and leaves a hard surface as hard as ice. Dr. Bell, however, stated that he had
shown that the frost in such places did not pass down from the surface, but hori-*
zontally. Towards the top, there is a solid three-cornered prism of frozen ground,
owing to the frost penetrating it from the top, and also from the side. He once had
some time to spare at York Factory and went out with all the men he could get and
tested the matter. He found it was not frozen permanently to any great depth. He
184 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
would get a heavy stick of tamarack or black spruce and point it very sharply and get
a number of men to work it down to a considerable depth through the muskeg. Some-
times he would find, where there was moss on top of the muskeg, some ice immediately
below it, but in a general way the ground is not deeply frozen. The water drips out
from the muskeg on top of high banks all winter and the little streams run all winter.
The bottom is not frozen, and the brooks must have this water supply during winter.
The muskeg extends up the Churchill river for fifty miles or more.
Witness said that he did not know if there is a good route along the river to
Churchill, where the muskeg can be avoided. Probably by going far enough east or
west a route could be obtained. He doubted if a railway could follow the bank of the
river, but he did not think there would be any such difficulty in building a railway
down to a point 50 miles from the bay. The only difficulty might be in building the
50 miles nearest to the bay. The best way might be to keep to the east side. The
harbour is on the east side, and on the west side it is shallow. Just at the mouth of
the Churchill river the land is all dry. He had walked along many miles to the east
and west. He had been, say ten miles west, and ten east. From Churchill harbour or
from ' the New Fort,' which is five miles up, in going straight west, it is dry all
round Button's bay, and everywhere thereabouts, and to the east of the river there is
a dry streak at least ten miles along the coast.
Dr. Bell said he exi)ects the bed of the muskeg is just a lateral extension of the
immediate valley of the river.
THE NAVIGABILITY OF HUDSON BAT
HUDSON BAT TEMPERATURES.
In accordance with the request of the committee, Dr. Bell subsequently forwarded
to the chairman, who submitted it to the committee, an extract of his report published
in the report of the Geological Survey of Canada for 1877-8 (page 26c) as follows: —
The following table gives the result of the above observations and also the temper-
ature of the air at the different times at which they were made. The Fahrenheit
thermometer was used, and whenever the sea happened to be calm the instrument was
lowered to a depth of three or four feet below the surface : —
Temperature of the Sea, Rivers and Air along the Eastmain Coast in 1877.
J. Rupert's River at Rui)ert'8 House
2. Eastmain River, two uiiles up
3. Middle of great bay south of Cape Hope
4. Twenty-five niilea north of Cape Hope
5. Eight miles south of Big River. .
6. Mouth of Big River
7. Twenty milej* north of Big River
8. Wind-bound Point, thirty -five miles north of Big
9. Ten miles E.N. E. of Cape Jonefc
10. Thirty-six miles northeastward of Cape Jones. . .
11. Fifty-three miles northeastward of Cape Jones. .
12. Black Whale Harbour
13. Great Whale River, opposite H. B. Co.*s Post . .
14. Do. after two cold win ny days
15. Open Sea, forty miles N. of Great Whale River.
16. * Second * River at fifty-one miles north of Great
17. Oif do
18. South side Richmond Gulf
19. South point Cairn Mountain Island, Richmond
20. Opposite Last or Northern Nnstapoka Island.. . .
21. Land locked Harbour
22. Southeast of Last Nastapcka Island
23. Middle of Nastapoka Sd. between N. River and'
Salmon Fishery Cove
24. Midway between Inlet of Richmond Gulf and
25. Open Sea between Great Whale River and Mani-
26. Great Whale River, opposite H. B. Co.'h Post . .
27. Off EMuimaux Harl>our
28. Dead Dog Cove, after three days' blow
29. Mouth of Big River, Fort George
30. Kimishoo's Say, forty miles .south of Fort (ieorge,
31. Off South Point of Rupert's Bay i
5 00 u
7 00 ..
7 00 u
Of five rivers.
CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
EVIDENCE OF COMMANDER WILLIAM WAKEHAM, OF THE CANADIAN'
FISHERIES PROTECTION SERVICE, GIVEN BEFORE THE SELECT
COMMITTEE, APRIL 6, 1907.
Commander Wakeham explained that he was in 1897 commissioned by the
Dominion government. Sir Louis Davies being then Minister of Marine and Fisheries,
to proceed to Hudson bay. His instructions were to go into the straits as early as he
could and force his way into Hudson bay, to make a number of trips backwards and
forwards during the season, and to remain there as late as he could during the fall,
The department chartered the sealing vessel Diana from Messrs. Jobs, of New-
foundland, for the purpose of the trip. It had been the intention of the witness, and
the minister's intention, that the expedition should get away about May 20, but the
Diana got stuck in the ice at the seal fisheries, and did not turn up in time to let them
off that early, and it was June 3 before she left Halifax.
From Halifax they went out through the straits of Belle-Isle, and there the Diana
got stuck in the ice, and it was June 22 before she got off the mouth of Hudson
strait. At two or three points they tried to get into the mainland, to get an inter-
preter to interpret with the Esquimaux, but they could never get through the pack,
and arrived off the mouth of Hudson strait, about sixty miles off, without having
succeeded. They kept along the edge of the pack all the way, and got there as the
tail end of the pack coming from Baffin'e bay and Smith's sound, and the ice that
comes from Greenland, passed down. On June 22, they were able to steam sixty miles
into the strait through loose open ice that almost any vessel could have gone through,
but not as rapidly as the Diana did, perhaps because she drove right at it. Almost
any vessel could have have got through.
Inside the strait they found open water, and thought they were going to have no
difficulty in getting through. Everything looked clear ahead, until they came up in
the neighbourhood of the Saddle islands, and met with a barrier of solid, heavy ice.
They turned round and followed it, looking for an opening, and followed it all the way
across the straits. The witness had not had a great deal of exi)erience with ice of
that kind, but any one could see that there was no use attempting to go into a pack
of that solidity.
However, he had with him a gentleman representing the interests of Manitoba and
the Northwest, Mr. Fisher, of Winnipeg, and he was anxious that something should
be done. The witness posted afterwards and forwards across the front of the barri-
cade looking for an opening, and did not find any. It wa drift ice that had been
blown there, probably by an east wind. It was a regular wall. Mr. Fisher became
impatient, and thought the witness ought to do something towards forcing his way
into it. Eventually witness said, ' Well, all right, here goes,' looked for a soft spot,
and forced the ship in.
As a result, the Diana was jammed from June 23 until about July 9 or 10. They
were badly jammed, and the ship nipped, and all hands got ready to leave her on two
or three occasions. That was on July 9 and 10. They had worse jams on July 4.
However, the wind changed and the ice began to go abroad, and they got out of it by
steaiping to the southward.
Conmiander Wakeham explained that if he were to go there again, he would not
attempt, no matter who urged him, to go into a pack of that kind. He thought he lost
time by doing it. If he had remained off the large pack, cruising about until it went
THE NAVIGABILITY OF HUDSON BAY 127
abroad, or he found an opening in it, he could have got in on the other side of the
straits a few days earlier than he did. He got out of the pack by steaming to the
southward, and had no diflSculty after that in getting into Hudson bay.
He got into Hudson bay on July 12, going down between Mansfield island and
Coates island. He steamed round, and saw no ice of any consequence, and put about
to go out again.
Commander Wakeham had with him Mr. Low, the present director of the Geolo-
gical Survey, and Dr. Bell. They had parties of men with them, and two yachts. He
landed Dr. Bell on the north side of the strait, and Mr. Low on the south side, and
they spent part of the summer months in cruising along the shores. The witness
picked them up and brought them back in the fall.
The witness steamed up in the direction of King's cape, hoping to land Dr. Bell
there, but could not get there on account of the heavy ice coming out of Fox channel.
The ship got jammed in that for part of the day, but they managed to get her out,
landed Mr. Low, and went across the strait, finding only loose, open ice. The witness
landed T)r. Bell on the other side, and as soon as he landed him, he came out again
and ran out to sea.
As soon as he got out there he met no ice. The Diana went fairly well out into
the Atlantic far enough to see there was no ice in sight, and on July 22 put about, and
sailed back again into the strait, but met no serious ice.
SUMMER TRIPS TO THE BAY.
The witness slowed up occasionally in the ice, but got back. He stopped also to
look for a harbour. Of course the whole of this coast is unsurveyed and not actually
charted. There is no proper hydrographic survey, and very little was known about
harbours. He wished to find some place he could put in, in case of trouble, and he
looked about and found a place they called Douglas Harbour, where they could rendez-
vous. He remained there a day or two getting fresh water.
He left on the 21st, and was back in Hudson bay on the 24th. That was the first
time he was able to pass through without difficulty. That was the second trip going
in. On the first trip he had to land Dr. Bell and Mr. Low, and was delayed by that.
On this second trip, he was again in Ungav'a bay on July 22. He made the round trip
in six days. From the Atlantic ocean to the point in Hudson bay where he turned
round would be very nearly 700 miles. He went down into the bay, and came out
again, making the round trip in a little more than six days altogether, nearly 1,400
miles. Under safl and steam the Diana would run nine or ten knots an hour.
There was no delay from ice except during the first trip. After Commander
Wakeham landed Dr. Bell on the first time out, the wind was blowing from the west-
ward. He hoisted canvas and started out, and set his log the same as he woujld
anywhere else. After he came out on the second trip, he came back to look for a
certain island. The former charts had always shown an island called Green island,
and one part of the instructions of witness was to see whether that island existed or
not. It was not there. It does not exist, but an island which is now on the maps had
been wrongly placed on the old map; there is only one island where there was sup-
posed to be two.
The witness went back after that to Natchvack, the Hudson bay post, where he had
agreed to meet a vessel which had been sent up with fuel for the Diana, and after
that he went up in Cumberland gulf. On the second trip he got back to Natchvack
on August 1. The Diana was delayed waiting for the other vessel, and she did not
arrive for several days after the expedition got there.
The Diana left again on August 13, arrived in Cumberland gulf on the. 15th,
and left there again on August 19 for Churchill. She then went back again through
the strait. Witness explained that he met with no trouble from ice at all on that
128 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
trip, but it had always been supposed — and it is the case — that any difficulty with ice
occurring during the summer or fall is caused by the ice coming out of Fox channel.
The ice comes down there, on ordinary occasions, in calm weather, in a stream around
King's "point, and sets off down through the strait The days are long in the sunmier
and the sun is warm, and Commander Wakeham remained that he thought very little
of that ice ever goes out into the Atlantic. It is very heavy ice up there, and in the
warm summer days by the time it gets down to Hope's Advance, it generally dis-
He had no difficulty in getting through this time. . The only ice he saw was the
ice he looked for off Fox channel.
At this point the witness interjected the explanation that it had been suggested
that he take a tramp steamer for this trip. It had also been suggested tha the Stanley
would do, but the captain of the Stanley and the witness thought she would not do for
the purpose. They were ordered to go in and force their way through as early as they
could, and a tramp steamer could not have done that. You must have a vessel pre-
pared for such work. That was the first trip, but on the second trip, the witness
repeated, he met no ice that would bother any vessel. An ordinary tramp steamer,
however, would have to avoid the ice more than he did.
Proceeding with his narrative, witness explained that he spent some time looking
at the ice in Fox channel. He could have gone up into Fox channel, but the ice was
too thick, and he came down south and put into Churchill.
He had fine weather across the bay — strong wind and no ice whatever. He got to
Churchill on August 29, and remained there until September 2. He left on September
2, stayed but in the bay, and spent some time looking for fish. He set trawls and
tried for fish and got nothing. He had promised Dr. Bell that he would meet him at
a certain date and take him off, and he had to be there, so that he could not stay as
long in the bay fishing as he would have wished.
He went back south of Mansfield island this time, and on September 7 was off
Cape Digges. They experienced their first snowstorm on that date. From that time
on they had snow almost daily in the straits, not heavy snowstorms, but snow squalls.
The Diana picked ujp Dr. Bell and took him across to Fort Chimo. Mr. Low had
agreed to meet the ship at Fort Chimo, and Conmiander Wakeham took both of them
on board and took them to St. John's, Newfoundland. The Diana was at Fort Chimo
on September 16 and left on the 19th. She was not interfered with by ice on the
way out. ,
The witness remained in St. John's refitting until October 6, and on that date
left to go back to the straits. He got back off the mouth of the straits on October 15,
and was delayed there by snowstorms. He got back to Douglas Harbour on October
18. On October 24 he was again at Cape Wolstenholme. That is at the entrance of
the bay, and met no ice. He then went back to Douglas Harbour, and held on there
for awhile, intending to go back into the bay again. He made his last attempt to get
into the bay on October 29, and was stopped by heavy winds and snowstorms, the ship
icing up very much. He tried to force his way, but decided that, all things considere<i,
it was not safe to stay there any longer, and put about.
There wflis no ice. It was simply the weather, the snowstorms, the short days and
the long nights. It was not light until eight o'clock in the morning. The character
of the coast, not being charted, was somewhat of a difficulty, and the fact that the land
was bold and abrupt and covered with snow also caused trouble. You could not tell
how far from it you were. It was cold, freezing up. The information as to the tem-
perature was given in tables and sent to Mr. Stupart. It was freezing enough to ice
THE NAVIGABILITY OF HUDSON BAY 129
the ship. She was iced up so much that it became difficult to get around with her,
and if she had iced up much more they might not have been able to get about with
The object of the expedition was to ascertain if there was not an earlier period of
opening of navigation and a later period of closing than Captain Gordon suggested.
There was no doubt about the centre months of the summer. The idea was to get in
earlier, and remain later than Captain Gordon, and they did geA in earlier. Wakeham
said he thought if he had not yielded to Mr. Fisher, and had taken his own way, he
would have got in m daj or two eailier. He made four round trips altogether, two of
them going into Hudson hay and one of them into Churchill. He also went north into
The Diana got to the bay ahead of the trading ships. They did not go until some
time in August, and they went out long before the expedition did. They go out in
September. When the Diana went to Fort Chimo to pick up Mr. Low, they found the
Hudson bay ship had left. They only make one trip. They come down to Churchill
and lay off at York. At that time the company had a sailing vessel. Now they have
a steamer to serve James bay.
The hai<bour at Churchill is a good harbour, easy of approach and safe. It is not
a very large harbour. Captain Gordon surveyed it, and his report on it is very
definite and distinct. There is a strong current running through it. The witness
saw no ice in it, and saw no ice in Hudson bay. He did not think the ice in Hudson
bay will count for very much. The ice there drifts from shore to shore. With an
easterly wind it. is on the west side, and with a westerly wind it is on the east side.
He does not think much of the ice of Hudson bay ever goes out through Hudson
strait at all. The ice that gives trouble in Hudson strait is the ice from Fox's channel
and the Baffin's bay ice that is blown in there.
THE CLOSE OF NAVIGATION.
There is no doubt, when the strait is properly surveyed and lighted, it will render
navigation safe, but the climatic conditions are such that you cannot expect naviga-
tion there after the end of October. That is on account of the hazardous weather, and
that qannot be overcome by lights. There are snowstorms and freezing up to contend
with. There is nothing a captain dreads more than a snowstorm at sea.> It is worse
than a fog. With a fog you generally have calm weather, but with a snowstorm you
have a sea and wind. There is considerable tide at Churchill, but not nearly as much
as there is in the centre of the strait.
Commander Wakeham said he did not think the Hudson Bay Company sailing
vessels are bothered now with ice, and in the olden days the ice that troubled them
came from Ross Welcome. It came down along the west shore of the bay and got
In Hudson strait the tide is very rapid and strong, and off the mouth of the bay
the tide ripp is very heavy. Off the Welcome the ice bothered the sailing vessels in
July, the witness understood, but he saw nothing of it. But the agent who was at
Churchill, Capt. Haws, who was drowned at Winnipeg the other day, sailed vessels
there a good many years, and the witness got a great deal of information about it
from him. The navigation will be improved if there are lights in the strait, and if the
strait is properly surveyed. It will be a great assistance to vessels if they establish
the wireless telegraphy, so that they could get information about the condition of the
straits with regard to ice. Of course they have snowstorms down around Halifax and
There is plenty of sea room in Hudson strait, and the shores are fairly bold.
There are a few islands close along the south shore. The northern shore is not so
good. There are reefs extending out, and one or two places isolated rocks. Apart
from the ice the witness considers it an ideal inlet.
130 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
He did not give the fishing a fair test, but the captains of the Hudson bay vessels,
which have often become becahned in the old days, have often tried to catch fish, and
they never caught any.
One thing you remark in Hudson bay is the absence of life — birds, ^iiales, and so
on — and it is hard to say the reason. Mr. Low found rock cod along the shore. Wit-
ness did not think there is any great volume of fish in Hudson bay. The Newfound-
land fishermen go up to Cape Chidley and to Resolution island, and they find cod
there, but they never get any fish in TJngava bay.
With regard to the compass deviations, there is sometimes a great deal of trouble.
Tn this district you are near the magnetic pole. The witness had no serious difficulty,
having a properly compensated Thompson compass. He could not trust absolutely to
it, but had no difficulty.
EVIDENCE OF R. F. STUPART, DIRECTOR OF THE DOMINION METEOR-
OLOGICAL SERVICE OF CANADA, GIVEN BEFORE THE SELECT
COMMITTEE, APRIL 6, 1907; TOGETHER WITH A SflORT REPORT
REGARDING THE CLIMATE OF NORTHERN CANADA, AND SOME
TABLES OF TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION, PREPARED
SUBSEQUENTLY BY HIM FOR THE COMMITTEE, AND LAID
BEFORE THAT BODY BY THE CHAIRMAN.
Mr. Stupart, in his evidence before the committee, explained that the service
tinder his charge has records from a large number of stations in Saskatchewan and
Alberta, and from a few stations scattered over the Mackenzie river basin, and along
the shores of Hudson bay. For instance, along the shores of Hudson bay there are
observations taken at Moose Factory, Fort Churchill and York Factory; and moving
inland, at Fort Hope, on the Martin river. From a number of stations in Alberta
and Saskatchewan reports are received twice a day, namely, from Edmonton, Calgary,
Medicine Hat and other places. North of the telegraph, the reports are altogether
dependent upon the mails, and arrive from two months to six months or a year after
the observations are taken. The observations are taken regularly by paid observers —
men who are paid either $60 or $100 a year for doing the observation work. Many of
them are missionaries; others are employees of the Hudson Bay Company. They are
supplied with government instruments by the department. Observations are taken in
the far north at Herschell island. Port Simpson, Pale river — that is Fort McPherson —
Fort Good Hope further up, and further south from Fort Chipewyan and Fort Dun-
vegan and Fort Vermilion. This year instruments have been supplied to Lesser Slave
Lake, Peace River Landing and Fort Vermilion. These are three stations opened up
in the Peace river district.
Mr. Stupart explained that he had been in charge of the service since 1894. The
bureau was organized in 1870. The observations in very few instances go back to
1870. In the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and the maritime provinces, they go
back to 1870, or in some few instances at the grammar schools to 1868. The witness
did not think any of the observations in the northern countries go back beyond 1883,
except at Churchill and York, where observations were taken by the Hudson bay
factors, and the department has possession of their reports. There are only a few
years' observations in Ungava. There is a record for three or four years at Fort
Chimo, and then for 1884-6-6, and again for a portion of 1897, there are reports along
the shores of Hudson strait. Those are observations taken six times a day. It is a
very perfect report. The information contained in Andrew Gordon's report was the
work of the Meteorological Service. There is no automatically registered sunshine.
The Meteorological Service take the rainfall, the snowfall, the height of the barometer,
t£e temperature of the wet and dry bulb barometers, ^e clouds, the directions in
which they are moving, the fogs, and the direction and force of the wind, the rainfall
and snowfall. These are all set forth in the tabulated statements.
LACK OP DATA ON PEACE RIVER CLIMATE.
Mr. Stupart explained that, taking the records as a guide, he was rather at a
disadvantage in reporting as to the climate of Peace river, inasmuch as up to last year
the department had only one station in the Peace river country, and that was at Dun-
vegan. The station there is down in the valley, and from reports that he had since
received from a surveyor who had been working there for the last two or three years,
132 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
it would appear that on the high lands above the river the climate is somewhat
different from what it is at Fort Dunvegan, which is situated on the river bank. But
the general knowledge of the country possessed by the witness would lead him to
suppose that taking the three summer months^ from the first of June to the end of
September, the isothennal line of fifty-seven and one-half d^rrees, which he considers
is about the lowest which is the boundary of what might be considered absolutely
successful agriculture, would extend from almost the foot of the Rocky mountains,
run almost north, following the mountains, and extend certainly beyond Lake Atha-
baska, down half-way across Lake Athabaska, thence north of Lake Manitoba. There
is not sufficient knowledge of tlie southern part of Keewatin to trace that line 57-5
further, but it probably continues to a point south of James bay. Li other words, this
particular isothermal line would run from a point further south than James bay in a
northwesterly direction, passing west of Slave lake to a i)oint northtwest of that. As
you go northwesterly you are getting further and further away from Hudson bay.
The witness questioned very much whether the country lying between Great Slave
lake and Hudson bay is a country in which agriculture woiild be thoroughly successful
He did not, however, mean to say that there might not be at times good seasons.
Mr. Stupart explained that the practice is to draw the isothermal lines every
five degrees, and he considered 55 too low a temperature for assuredly successful agri-
culture. A temperature of 57-5 degrees, provided that remains for two months, is
perfectly safe for agriculture. Without doubt the sunamer temperature is what settles
the question of vegetation altogether. He was not prepared to say there might not be
sime kind of mixed farming carried on in the district north of the isothermal line
57-6, but he would be rather inclined to doubt whether you could depend on ripening
wheat, for instance. The ripening of wheat depends largely on the sunshine.
The witness explained that he did not want to be dogmatic on that 57-5 isothermal
line, but from what study he had given to the subject that was his impression. He did
not know for a fact that wheat would not grow beyond that line; that had not been
demonstrated as yet.
In reply to a question, the witness stated that the summer temperature of 57-5
would be about that of England.
Manitoba and the southern parts of Saskatchewan and Alberta are, if anything,
warmer in the summer than England.
The temperature at Dawson, in the Yukon, occasionally, in some seasons, rises
above 90 degrees and a summer never goes by without the temperature for many days
going considerably above 80. The length of the day is a very important factor. The
length of the day makes up for the loss oif the sun's intensity; so that putting the two
together, the climate in the Northwest for the purposes of vegetation is as good as in
the south of England. Occasionally they record frost in June in England, but the
witness had his doubts as to whether it was ever recorded as early as the end of
August. The temperature of the two countries is absolutely different. While the
summer temperature over all the southern parts of our western provinces is comparable
with England, and perhaps the north and western coasts of France, after about August
20 the downward trend of the temperature curve in Canada is very rapid, whereas in
Great Britain and France it is very slow. Of course as one goee- north in Alberta and
Saskatchewan, the downward trend of this temperature curve becomes very rapid
THE CLIMATE NEAR HUDSON BAY.
Asked by the Honourable Mr. Power as to the temperature at Fort Churchill, Mr.
Stupart replied that Churchill is a cold place. The mean temperature of the month of
May is only a trifle above the freezing point, namely, 32-5. June is 42-3, July, 53*6,
August, 52-6, September, 42-3, and October is winter, namely, 27.
He had also a record of the lowest temperature in each of those months. He was
very sorry to say it was an imperfect statement, because he had not very much faith
CLIMATE OF NORTHERN CANADA 183
in the observer there. There was a record of 12-6 in the beginning of May, 25-8 in
June, and of 30 in the month of July.
In the winter months the temperature at Churchill falls lower than in the Mac-
kenzie basin. The influence of the large body of water in Hudson bay makes the
summer cooler and the winter milder. During the winter months the winds at
Churchill are persistently from the west and northwest. It is exceedingly rare to have
a wind off Hudson bay in the winter months. In the summer months for more than
half the time the winds are off the bay and from the east and northeast.
As to the isothermal lines of that part of the country lying south and west of
Split lake on the route of the proposed railway between the head of the Pas and
Churchill, Mr. Stupart explained that in the month of June the district in question is
between the isothermal line of 50 and 66. The corresponding isothermal district in
Europe would be the extreme north of Scotland in June.
In July that district is between the isothermal lines 55 and 60, and that would
correspond with Scotland and a portion of Scandinavia. In the month of August the
district in question is about 56, and there you have Scotland again. That country
had a reasonably fair climate for the three summer months, June, July and August.
It would be suitable for oats, barley, potatoes and wheat.
Meteorological observations are now taken at: —
Athabaska Landing 54-43 11317
Dawson 64-4 139-20
Dunvegan 55-56 118-35
Edmonton 53-33 113-30
Fort Churchill 58-53 94-11
Fort Simpson 61-52 120-43
Fort Chipewyan 58-42 11110
Fort Norman 64-57 125-
Herschell island 69-30 13915
Hay river 60-51 115-20
Whitehorse 60-45 ' 135-
York Factory 57-0 92-28
Fort Hope 51-32 ■ 87-48
Norway House 53-58 97-52
Fort McPherson (Peel river) 67-27 134-57
Mr. Stupart informed the committee that the Meteorological Service have observa-
tions taken in 1884-5-6 and 1897, in Hudson strait. Mr. Stupart himself spent the
season of 1884-5 there. He stayed at Cape Prince of Wales all winter, and enjoyed
the winter very much. The lowest temperature he had that winter was 38 below zero,
but the average temperature was 23}. It was blowing a gale there for half a month.
He and his party arrived there on August 16. They could have reached there the
middle of October if they wanted to, and could have left there about the first of the
following August, roughly speaking; not earlier than that, that particular year. There
was practically no ice for nearly three months, namely, in August. September, and
the greater part of October, in fact all October, except that they might see ice out in
the strait. They did see it there, probably coming from Fox channel. They had six
observations a day, the observations being taken in daylight. One of their duties was
to go to the top of the hill, three hundred feet high, at the back of their house, and
observe the state of the ice in the strait with a powerful field glass, and they wrote
down on each occasion what they saw.
Mr. Stupart explained that he does not think Hudson strait freezes solidly in
winter, but it is blocked with ice in the early spring and late spring, and the ice is
continually changing. He and his party used to see lots of water shifting out, and
then the ice would close up again. A person could cross there for three months in the
134 (CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
year, but would be seriously handicapped at times. He would not say that a ship
might not, by chance, pass almost any time of the year. The ice is very thick indeed,
however, and rafts up. He had watched it and seen it rafting up. The harbour ice
at Cape Prince of Wales froze to about 7i feet.
Fogs are very frequent at Hudson strait.
With regard to the possibility of the navigation of Hudson bay, Mr. Stupart was
not prepared to say that steamers cannot get through for a good deal longer period
than three months. He did not consider himself an authority; he had not been
through the strait.
April 22, Mr. Stupart forwarded to the chairman of the Select Conmiittee a report
on the climate of northern and western Canada, which he promised while under
examination to prepare. This report was in due course laid before the committee, and
read as follows: —
REPORT ON THE OUHATE OF NORTHERN AND WESTERN CANADA.
A regular series of meteorological observations was begim in Winnipeg in 1872,
but it was not until between 1883 and 1885 that eight stations with paid observers were
opened at carefully selected points in the western provinces, Prince Albert and Edmon-
ton being the most northerly stations of the reseau. Observations at these stations
have been continued ever since and the climatic features of this country as indicated
by them has been supplemented by observations of temperature, weather and rainfall
by voluntary observers at numerous intermediate stations.
In Athabaska and the Mackenzie basin, observations taken chiefly by mission-
aries and Hudson Bay Company's officers and extending over periods ranging from
5 to 15 years, afford valuable information regarding the climate of the unorganized
On the shores of Hudson bay more or less reliable, but somewhat broken series
of observations at Fort Churchill and York Factory covering a period of 30 years, are
available, and at Moose Factory the meteorological record dates back to 1878.
A study of the accompanying tables containing the average mean temperature,
average daily maximal and average daily minimal tempera tvires ; also the absolutely
highest and absolutely lowest temperatures of which the meteorological service has
record, indicate beyond doubt that spring opens earlier in western and southern
Alberta than it does to the east and north. In April the average daily highest tem-
X>erature is 53^-2 at Calgary, and 58^-5 at Medicine Hat, while corresponding values
are 60** -6 at Winnipeg, 50*" -2 at Prince Albert, and 39*'-4 on the shores of Lake Atha-
baska. These figures indicate that the days are warm, and that April is truly a spring
month in most years, but it should not be forgotten that night frosts are severe and
frequent in April throughout the western provinces. To the northward and eastward
of Manitoba the advance of psring is not so rapid, Norway House showing an average
daily maximum of 42^-7 and a daily minimum of 21° -5; Fort Hope an average maxi-
mum of 43''-2 and minimum of 18** -7, while the figures for Moose Factory are 37*'- 7
Northward of Slave lake, in the basin of the Mackenzie, the retardation is still
greater, with an average night temperature of 13** -8, at the mouth of the Liard river,
and zero or lower in the neighbourhood of the Arctic circle.
As May advances the upward trend of the temperature curve is more rapid in
Manitoba and Saskatchewan than in Alberta, and the average temperature of May for
the whole territory west of Winnipeg and south of Prince Albert, excepting north-
eastern Saskatchewan is approximately the same, with a general mean of about 50°,
and an average day temperature ranging between 65° at Winnipeg and 62° -6 at
Northward from Prince Albert to Lake Athabaska and thence along the Mac-
kenzie, the season in May does not advance so rapidly, Fort Chipewyan showing a
monthly average of 44° -5, Hay river 41° -2, and Fort Simpson 43°. It is noteworthy
CLIMATE OF NORTHERN CANADA 136
that the mean temperature for May at Dawson City is 45° -5, very nearly the same as
at Norway House.
Near the Hudson bay the season is still less advanced, with an average mean
temperature of 32*' -6 at Churchill, 34° -6 at York Factory and 41°C at Moose Factory;
this latter temperature being lower than that of either Dawson or Fort Chipewyan.
THE SUMMER MONTHS.
In June the mean temperature at Winnipeg is about the same as at Toronto,
namely, 62°, which is from 5° to 7° higher than the average in Alberta, Calgary
giving 55° -3, Edmonton 67° 1 and Fort Dunvegan 56° -5. In this month also the
mean temi)erature of the territory near the shores of Lake Athabaska and northward
to Fort Simpson are but a shade lower than at Cdlgary. Moose Factory has an average
mean of 65° -2, and an average daily maximum of 66° -6, a very little lower than
Calgary and nearly the same i\t Fort Simpson. But further north at Churchill and
York the average is still below 50°.
For the three sunMner months a vast area which includes western and northern
Alberta, northern Saskatchewan and the basin of the Mackenzie, almost to the Arctic
circle lies between the isothermal lines of 55° and 60°. Throughout this whole region
the percentage of the possible amount of sunshine seems to approximate 55, and as the
hours of possible sunshine at midsummer range from 17^ in the latitude of Edmonton
to 19^ 30™ at Fort Simpson, it may be surmised that growth of plants and cereals may
be even more rapid in the northern than in the southern districts.
The average daily mean highest temperature in July at Winnipeg is 77° -8, at
Calgary 74° -7. At Hay river, on Great Slave lake, it is 73° -5, and at Fort Simpfon
71° -4. Possibly the somewhat lower temperature in the northt may be offset by a
longer period of bright sunshine.
From the very meagre observations in the Peace river district, it is not possible
at present to report definitely on the liability to late summer frost. Fort Dunvegan,
the only station at which a regular record has been kept for several years, is situated
in the valley, and the temperature there registered may possibly differ somewhat from
that on the higher plateau, although comparison with observations made in survey
camps leads to the conclusion that the summer frosts which are in some years recorded
in the valley, also occur on the higher lands.
The whole question .as to late summer frost in the western provinces is as yeti
tentative. In the eighties there were many winters of extreme severity, and again in
the early nineties to a somewhat lesser degree, and it was during these same, periods
that summer frost was not infrequent. The winter just closing has been of almost
unexampled severity, and it would be unwise at present to pronounce that there has
been any change in climate beyond that of a cylindrical nature.
While, as has been shown, the summers of the Mackenzie river do not differ greatly
from the summers in Alberta and Saskatchewan, it should be borne in mind that as
the latitude increases the more rapid is the downward trend of the temperature after
about August 20. The mean for September near Lake Athabaska is fully 6° lower
than at Edmonton, and near Slave lake 6° or 8° lower. The effect of high latitude
is also evident in September in the Peace river districts, as the temperatures in this
month no longer agree closely with those of Edmonton and Calgary. In October^
frosts are severe and of almost daily occurrence in northern Alberta and Saskatch-
ewan, while north of Lake Athabaska winter is setting in rapidly.
ABOUT WINTER TEMPERATURES.
The average winter temperature at Winnipeg is about 15° colder than at Calgary,
and northward the cold increases even more rapidly, as is shown by the mean tempera-
ture for January, which as shown by Table 1 is 7° above zero at Edmonton, 10° below
at Fort Dunvegan and 17° below near Slave lake.
136 CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the wiftter in the western provinces is the
variableness of corresponding seasons in different years, and this is peculiarly the case
in Alberta where, as shown by meteorological records, the mean temi)erature in, say
January, may be 15° below zero, or it may be about 25° above. Fortunately, however,
such extremes do not occur in the summer months, which do not api)ear to vary from
year to year more than in Ontario.
Temperatures of 80° and upwards are recorded occasionally in the month of May
in all x)ortions of the Canadian western and northern territory, except near the Arctic
sea, and as the summer advances these high temperatures become of more frequent
occurrence, and there are few localities where 90° is not occasionally recorded even as
far north as the Arctic circle.
The summer mean temperature of Manitoba and southern and eastern Alberta
and the greater part of Saskatchewan approximates very closely to that of the south of
England, Belgium and the north of France, while in the territory lying to the north-
ward between the isotherms of 55° and 60° th^ summer temperature may well be com-
pared with that of the south of Scotland and southern Scandinavia.
Taking the month of July alone in this latter region, which includes the district
between Lake Manitoba and Hudson bay, the mean temperature is very fairly compar-
able with that of the south of England.
From the meagre and somewhat unsatisfactory observations of rainfall and snow-
fall over the extreme northern portions of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and in the valley
of the Mackenzie, it would appear that the total annual precipitation is very generally
between 12 and 14 inches including the moisture from between 40 and 60 inches of
snow. This amount may be ample for successful agriculture, as fully 50 per cent or
more falls as rain between the beginning of May and the end of August.
Near Hudson bay the rainfall is somewhat greater.
R. F. STUPART.
CLIMATE OF NORTHERN CANADA
TABLES ACCOMPANYING MR. STUPART'S REPORT.
Table I. — Showing the mean average temperature in the various months at stations in
Northern and Western Canada.
Medicine Hat . .
Fort Good Hoj e
Peel River ,
Haileybury . ;
8 51.0 57
Table II. — The average mean highest temi)erature.
Medicine Hat. . .
Prince Albert . . .
Moose Factory. . .
Fort Churchill . . .
Fort Simpson. . . .
Fort Good Hope .
Hailevbury . . .
- 3 5
2 37-7 51
66 6 72-
7,70 2 63
4 71 0.00
3 70-3 58
4 69 61
9 43 8
60 7 33 1
50 6 30 9|
CANADA'S FERTILE NORTHLAND
Table III. — The average mean lowest tempepature.
Mooee Factory . . .
Fort Churchill . . .
Fort Simpson . . .
Fort Good Hope
Dawson City —
9 1 7-2
2 71 - 6
- 3 21
8 43 7 48-847
- 2 3
- 6 7
44 4;52 750
41 4 49 4:^7
43 950 848
13 829 739 6
17 132 544-9
15 632 946-2
- 6 9 20 140-7
26 939 549 7
23 037 649-3
34 5I23 6
7140 9:29 2
9 38 4,28 3
46 4134 5123 7
42 9|32 5
51 5'43 833 6
55 752 0i44 4 33 5
- 5 6
- 5 6
- 9 8
Table IV. — The absolutely highest temperature in each of the various months, on
record at the Meteorological Office.
Fort Good Hoi^e
CLIMATE OP NORTHERN CANADA
Table V. — The absolutely lowest temperature in each of the various months.
FortMacleod ... .
Medicine Hat ... .
Prince Albert ... .
Norway House.. .
Mdbse Factory. .
Fert Good Hope . ,
Herschell Island.. .
Abitibi. . "
Table VI. — Showing the total average annual precipitation (rain and melted jpnow).
Fort Macleod . .
Prince Albert .
Fort Hope. ...
Moose Factory .
York Factory .
Fort Churchill .
Fort Simpson . .
Fort Good Hope
Dawson City. .
Red River. . . .
42! 3 80 2
95 2 -^ 2
F. S. Lawrence's farm, Fort Vennilion, Peace River 58 "3° north latitude, Alberta ;
700 milles by trail from Edmonton.
See pagres 47, 74, 78, 101 to 107.
Sheridan Lawrence's farm, Fort Vermilion, Peace River, 58*3° north latitude.
See pages 47, 74, 78, 101 to 107.
See jiapre 95.
Potato digging on Great Slave Lake.
Potato " Patch " at Fort Good Hope, Mackenzie River. Fourteen miles from
Arctic Circle, latitude 66 16°, 970 miles north of Edmonton
See imges 53, 55, 96.
See page 42.
Gas Well on the Athabaska. Drilled by A. V(jn Hammerotein.
spruce tree 75 feet high, 14 inches diameter, near junction of Peace and Slave Rivers.