river canal system from Lake Superior to tide water overcomes a difference of about 600 ft., and carries large quantities of grain from the west to Montreal, the head of summer navigation on the Atlantic. These canals have a minimum depth of 14 ft. on the sills, and are open to Canadian and American vessels on equal terms; the equipment is in every respect of the most modern character. So great, however, is the desire to shorten the time and distance necessary for the transportation of grain from Lake Superior to Montreal that an increasing quantity is taken by water as far as the Lake Huron and Georgian Bay ports, and thence by rail to Montreal. Numerous smaller canals bring Ottawa into connexion with Lake Champlain and the Hudson river via Montreal; by this route the logs and sawn lumber of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick find their destination. It has long been a Canadian ideal to shorten the distance from Lake Superior to the sea. With this object in view, the Trent Valley system of canals has been built, connecting Lake Ontario with the Georgian Bay (an arm of Lake Huron) via Lake Simcoe. In 1899 and subsequently surveys were made with a view to connecting the Georgian Bay through the intervening water stretches, with the Ottawa river system, and thence to Montreal. In 1903 all tolls were taken off the Canadian canals, greatly to the benefit of trade.
Mining.—The mineral districts occur from Cape Breton to the islands in the Pacific and the Yukon district. Nova Scotia, British Columbia and the Yukon are still the most productive, but the northern parts of Ontario are proving rich in the precious metals. Coal, chiefly bituminous, occurs in large quantities in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and in various parts of the north-west (lignite), though most of the anthracite is imported from the United States, as is the greater part of the bituminous coal used in Ontario. Under the stimulus of federal bounties, the production of pig iron and of steel, chiefly from imported ore, is rapidly increasing. Bounties on certain minerals and metals are also given by some of the provinces. The goldfields of the Yukon, though still valuable, show a lessening production. Sudbury, in Ontario, is the centre of the nickel production of the world, the mines being chiefly in American hands, and the product exported to the United States. Of the less important minerals, Canada is the world’s chief producer of asbestos and corundum. Copper, lead, silver and all the important metals are mined in the Rocky Mountain district. From Quebec westwards, vast regions are still partly, or completely, unexplored.
Lumber.—In spite of great improvidence, and of loss by fire, the forest wealth of Canada is still the greatest in the world. Measures have been taken, both by the provincial and the federal governments, for its preservation, and for re-forestation of depleted areas. Certain provinces prohibit the exportation of logs to the United States, in order to promote the growth of saw-mills and manufactures of wooden-ware within the country, and the latter have of late years developed with great rapidity. The lumber trade of British Columbia has suffered from lack of an adequate market, but is increasing with the greater demand from the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. A great development has also taken place in Ontario and the eastern provinces, through the use of spruce and other trees, long considered comparatively useless, in the manufacture of wood-pulp for paper-making.
Crown Lands.—Large areas of unoccupied land remain in all the provinces (except Prince Edward Island). In Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the so-called railway belt of British Columbia and the territories, these crown lands are chiefly owned by the federal parliament; in the other provinces, by the local legislatures. So great is their extent that, in spite of the immigration of recent years, the Dominion government gives a freehold of 160 acres to every bona fide settler, subject to certain conditions of residence and the erection of buildings during the first three years. Mining and timber lands are sold or leased at moderate rates. All crown lands controlled by the provinces must be paid for, save in certain districts of Ontario, where free grants are given, but the price charged is low. The Canadian Pacific railway controls large land areas in the two new provinces; and large tracts in these provinces are owned by land companies. Both the Dominion and the provincial governments have set apart certain areas to be preserved, largely in their wild state, as national parks. Of these the most extensive are the Rocky Mountains Park at Banff, Alberta, owned by the Dominion government, and the “Algonquin National Park,” north-east of Lake Simcoe, the property of Ontario.
Fisheries.—The principal fisheries are those on the Atlantic coast, carried on by the inhabitants of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and the eastern section of Quebec. Cod, herring, mackerel and lobsters are the fish chiefly caught, though halibut, salmon, anchovies and so-called sardines are also exported. Bounties to encourage deep-sea fishing have been given by the federal government since 1882. In British Columbian waters the main catch is of salmon, in addition to which are halibut, oolachan, herring, sturgeon, cod and shellfish. The lakes of Ontario and Manitoba produce white fish, sturgeon and other fresh-water fish. About 80,000 persons find more or less permanent employment in the fishing industry, including the majority of the Indians of British Columbia.
The business of fur-seal catching is carried on to some extent in the North Pacific and in Bering Sea by sealers from Victoria, but the returns show it to be a decreasing industry, as well as one causing friction with the United States. Indeed, no department of national life has caused more continual trouble between the two peoples than the fisheries, owing to different laws regarding fish protection, and the constant invasion by each of the territorial waters of the other.
Education.—The British North America Act imposes on the provincial legislatures the duty of legislating on educational matters, the privileges of the denominational and separate schools in Ontario and Quebec being specially safeguarded. In 1871, the New Brunswick legislature abolished the separate school system, and a contest arose which was finally settled by the authority of the legislature being sustained, though certain concessions were made to the Roman Catholic dissentients. Subsequently a similar difficulty arose in Manitoba, where the legislature in 1890 abolished the system of separate schools which had been established in 1871. After years of bitter controversy, in which a federal ministry was overthrown, a compromise was arranged in 1897, in which the Roman Catholic leaders have never fully acquiesced. In the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, formed in 1905, certain educational privileges, (though not amounting to a separate school system) were granted to the Roman Catholics.
All the provinces have made sacrifices to insure the spread of education. In 1901, 76% of the total population could read and write, and 86% of those over five years of age. These percentages have gradually risen ever since federation, especially in the province of Quebec, which was long in a backward state. The school systems of all the provinces are, in spite of certain imperfections, efficient and well-equipped, that of Ontario being especially celebrated. A fuller account of their special features will be found under the articles on the different provinces.
Numerous residential schools exist and are increasing in number with the growth of the country in wealth and culture. In Quebec are a number of so-called classical colleges, most of them affiliated with Laval University.
Higher education was originally organized by the various religious bodies, each of which retains at least one university in more or less integral connexion with itself. New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba support provincial universities at Fredericton, Toronto and Winnipeg. Those of most importance are:—Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S. (1818); the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B. (1800); McGill University, Montreal, Que. (1821); Laval University, Quebec, and Montreal, Que. (1852); Queen’s University, Kingston, Ont. (1841); the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont. (1827);
- The date of foundation is given in brackets.