23 September 1905, page 16
The New Provinces
This month marks an epoch in the history of Canada- the admittance into the sisterhood of provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, thereby completing the chain that now reaches across the continent.
Another step forward on our national career has been taken; another chapter of our history has been opened; another advance has been made, and from the new vantage ground the Canadian people can look out upon a future that promises to justify the bright hopes of the present.
To a large extent the guarantors of that promise of larger things are the new Provinces. Theirs are the millions of aces of grain lands, the greater part of which has not yet known the plough—lands capable of supporting millions of people and producing a surplus of food sufficient for an empire.
It is upon the development of the vast resources of Alberta and Saskatchewan that the future of the Dominion largely depends.
The heartiness of the welcome extended to Alberta and Saskatchewan by the older Provinces and the sincerity of their good wishes are intensified by these considerations, for throughout Canada the feeling in general that if all goes well with the West the Dominion has nothing to fear.
Thirty eight years have passed since the Dominion of Canada came into existence; and, with few exceptions, the men who brought abut Confederation and for some time after directed the young nation on its course, have passed away. They brought together the four old Provinces, Quebec and Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Prince Edward Island at first held aloof and Manitoba had not yet been carved out of the Great West, whose permanent settlers then consisted of a handful of farmers along the bank of the Red River. Over the prairies and hills of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where no millions of bushels of wheat ripen each autumn, there roamed the buffalo and the buffalo’s enemies, the hunter and the Indian.
Railways were few and local in their sphere of operation. In all there were only 2087 miles of track in Canada, not equal to the present mileage in Alberta and Saskatchewan alone. The prairies were then farther from the business centres of Canada than South Africa is to-day; and it is now easier to make a journey around the world around the world that it was then to travel across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast.
The great resources of the country were not only undeveloped, but for the most part unknown. Lumbering was confined to the outskirts of the forest area whose vast extent had not even been explored. Very few of the mineral deposits had been discovered, and whenever worked, primitive methods were employed.
Thirty eight years have changed all that.
The industrial centres of the older Provinces have grown into first class cities; railway systems cover the older portions of the country, and the new lines are being pushed out into the still unsettled parts, carrying home-seekers to the land where industry is assured an ample reward. The soil, the forest, the fisheries, and the mines are yielding large returns and daily adding to the national wealth.
Nor has our progress been wholly along material lines. The tendency of the past thirty-eight years has been to lessen the provincialism and develop a broad national, Canadian Spirit.
Before Confederation the people of the different Provinces regarded themselves as citizens of separate colonies, with little in common, and much that tended to jealous rivalry. Every question was considered from a local standpoint, and only a few took an outlook upon public affairs that carried them beyond the boundary of their own Province.
Happily, that is to-day almost wholly a thing of the past. The people of the older Provinces “Down by the Sea” and along the St Lawrence River and the Great Lakes; the farmers on the western prairies, and the farmers, miners, fishermen who have gone beyond the Rockies; and those who are seeking their fortunes in the distant Yukon, are Canadians all, enjoying a common citizenship and possessing a common heritage.
Into the full enjoyment of that citizenship the people of Alberta and Saskatchewan have now been admitted. It is expected that these “Young Giants of the West” to whose population every part of Canada and every element of our society have contributed, will infuse a still broader spirit into our national life—a spirit above provincialism, about racial feelings, above narrow sectionalism, so that the dominant thought of every resident of this broad land shall be, not the he is from this Province or that, not that his home is in the East or West, not that the blood of a certain race flows in his veins, but that he is first and above all a British subject and a Canadian citizen.