Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
FINANCE]
149
CANADA

adventurous pioneers from Quebec, together with Scottish settlers, descendants of those brought out by Lord Selkirk (q.v.), some English army pensioners and others, and the van of the immigration that shortly followed from Ontario. Beyond Manitoba buffalo were still running on the plains, and British Columbia having lost its mining population of 1859 and 1860 was largely inhabited by Indians, its white population which centred in the city of Victoria being principally English.

French is the language of the province of Quebec, though English is much spoken in the cities; both languages are officially recognized in that province, and in the federal courts and parliament. Elsewhere, English is exclusively used, save by the newly-arrived foreigners. The male sex is slightly the more numerous in all the provinces except Quebec, the greatest discrepancy existing in British Columbia.

The birth-rate is high, especially in Quebec, where families of twelve to twenty are not infrequent, but is decreasing in Ontario. In spite of the growth of manufactures since 1878, there are few large cities, and the proportion of the urban population to the rural is small. Herein it differs noticeably from Australia. Between 1891 and 1901 the number of farmers in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces decreased, and there seemed a prospect of the country being divided into a manufacturing east and an agricultural west, but latterly large tracts in northern Ontario and Quebec have proved suitable for cultivation and are being opened up.

Religion.—There is no established church in Canada, but in the province of Quebec certain rights have been allowed to the Roman Catholic church ever since the British conquest. In that province about 87% of the population belongs to this church, which is strong in the others also, embracing over two-fifths of the population of the Dominion. The Protestants have shown a tendency to subdivision, and many curious and ephemeral sects have sprung up; of late years, however, the various sections of Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists have united, and a working alliance has been formed between Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists. The Methodists are the strongest, and in Ontario form over 30% of the population. Next come the Presbyterians, the backbone of the maritime provinces. The Church of England is strong in the cities, especially Toronto. Save among the Indians, active disbelief in Christianity is practically non-existent, and even among them 90% are nominally Christian.

Indians.—The Indian population numbers over 100,000 and has slightly increased since 1881. Except in British Columbia and the unorganized territories, nearly all of these are on reservations, where they are under government supervision, receiving an annuity in money and a certain amount of provisions; and where, by means of industrial schools and other methods, civilized habits are slowly superseding their former mode of life. British Columbia has about 25,000, most of whom are along the coast, though one of the important tribes, the Shuswaps, is in the interior. An almost equal number are found in the three prairie provinces. Those of Ontario, numbering about 20,000, are more civilized than those of the west, many of them being good farmers. In all the provinces they are under the control of the federal government which acts as their trustee, investing the money which they derive chiefly from the sale of lands and timber, and making a large annual appropriation for the payment of their annuities, schools and other expenses. While unable to alienate their reservations, save to the federal government, they are not confined to them, but wander at pleasure. As they progress towards a settled mode of life, they are given the franchise; this process is especially far advanced in Ontario. A certain number are found in all the provinces. They make incomparable guides for fishing, hunting and surveying parties, on which they will cheerfully undergo the greatest hardships, though tending to shrink from regular employment in cities or on farms.

Orientals.—The Chinese and Japanese numbered in 1906 about 20,000, of whom, three-quarters were in British Columbia, though they were spreading through the other provinces, chiefly as laundrymen. They are as a rule frugal, industrious and law-abiding, and are feared rather for their virtues than for their vices. Since 1885 a tax has been imposed on all Chinese entering Canada, and in 1903 this was raised to £100 ($500). British Columbia endeavoured in 1905 to lay a similar restriction on the Japanese, but the act was disallowed by the federal legislature.

Finance.—Since 1871 the decimal system of coinage, corresponding to that of the United States, has been the only one employed. One dollar is divided into one hundred cents (£1 = $4.86⅔). The money in circulation consists of a limited⅔ number of notes issued by the federal government, and the notes of the chartered banks, together with gold, silver and copper coin. Previous to 1906 this coin was minted in England, but in that year a branch of the royal mint was established at Ottawa. Though the whole financial system rests on the maintenance of the gold standard, gold coin plays a much smaller part in daily business than in England, France or Germany. United States’ notes and silver are usually received at par; those of other nations are subject to a varying rate of exchange.

The banking system, which retains many features of the Scotch system, on which it was originally modelled, combines security for the note-holders and depositors with prompt increase and diminution of the circulation in accordance with the varying conditions of trade. This is especially important in a country where the large wheat crop renders an additional quantity of money necessary on very short notice during the autumn and winter. There has been no successful attempt to introduce the “wild cat” banking, which had such disastrous effects in the early days of the western states. Since federation no chartered bank has been compelled to liquidate without paying its note-holders in full. The larger banks are chartered by the federal government; in the smaller towns a number of private banks remain, but their importance is small, owing to the great facilities given to the chartered banks by the branch system. In 1906 there were 34 chartered banks, of which the branches had grown from 619 in 1900 to 1565 in 1906, and the number since then has rapidly increased. The banks are required by law to furnish to the finance minister detailed monthly statements which are published in the official gazette. Once in every ten years the banking act is revised and weaknesses amended. Clearing-houses have been established in the chief commercial centres. In October 1906 the chartered banks had an aggregate paid-up capital of over $94,000,000 with a note circulation of $83,000,000 and deposits of over $553,000,000.

There are four kinds of savings banks in Canada:—(1) the post-office savings banks; (2) the government savings banks of the Maritime provinces taken over at federation and being gradually merged with the former; (3) two special savings banks in the cities of Montreal and Quebec; (4) the savings bank departments of the chartered banks. The rate of interest allowed by the government is now 3%, and the chartered banks usually follow the government rate. The amount on deposit in the first three increased from $5,057,607 in 1868 to $89,781,546 in October 1906. The returns from the chartered banks do not specify the deposits in these special accounts.

The numerous loan and trust companies also possess certain banking privileges.

The federal revenue is derived mainly from customs and excise duties, with subsidiary amounts from mining licences, timber dues, post-office, &c. Both the revenue and the expenditure have in recent years increased greatly, the revenue rising from $46,743,103 in 1899 to $71,186,073 in 1905 and the expenditure keeping pace with it. The debt of the Dominion in 1873 and in 1905 was:—

  1873. 1905.
 Gross debt   $129,743,432   $377,678,580 
 Assets 30,894,970  111,454,413 
 Net debt 98,848,462  266,224,413 

While the debt had thus increased faster than the population, it weighed less heavily on the people, not only on account of the