Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

However, by whatever name they may be designated, the Glengarry Highlanders in Upper Canada may well be proud of it.

They are devotedly attached to British institutions; and when I had afterwards occasion to send them to Lower Canada to assist Sir J. Colborne, they showed the rebels in that province very clearly that Highland blood is not to be trifled with: indeed, there was so much of Eob Eoy in their dispositions that it is whispered of them, that though they went down infantry they came back cavalry!

I at last reached the eastern extremity of the province, from whence I returned by the St. Lawrence, and from Kingston to Toronto in the steamer. The next summer I started on a similar tour through the western districts to the opposite boundary of Upper Canada. But my reader is no doubt tired unto death of my long trot; and therefore, without asking him to follow me throughout another one, rougher, if possible, than the last, I will only say, that the splendid region which lies between Toronto and Lake Huron contains the richest land on the continent of North America, and must hereafter become one of the most favoured countries on the surface of the globe.

The enormous size of the trees clearly indicates the luxuriance of the earth in which they flourish; and although it is truly astonishing to observe how much has been done by the emigrant, yet, as a solitary example of what ample room there still is in this favoured spot for the redundant population of the mother country, I will state, that between Lakes Ontario and Huron there exist six million acres of uncleared land in one block!

The Crown lands of Canada — which, in my humble opinion, ought always to have been given to the British emigrant for nothing, or, to speak more correctly, as payment by the mother country for his courage, trouble, and expense in clearing them—can even now be purchased at about five shillings an acre.

An Irish gentleman, resident in Canada, was desirous to persuade his sons to work as backwoodsmen instead of frittering away their constitutions and money in luxuries and pleasure; and as champagne costs in America something more than a dollar a bottle, whenever this old gentleman saw his sons raise the bright sparkling mixture to their lips he used humorously to exclaim to them, "Ah, my hoys! there goes another acre of land, Trees And All!"

CHAPTER VII.

THE BARK CANOE.

I DO not know at what rate in the eastern world the car of Juggernaut advances over its victims, but it has been roughly estimated that in the opposite hemisphere of America the population of the United States, like a great wave, is constantly rolling towards the westward, over the lands of the Indians, at the rate of about twenty miles per annum.

In our colonies the rights of the Indians have been more carefully attended to. The British Sovereign and British Parliament have faithfully respected them; and as a very friendly feeling exists between the red men of the forest and their white brethren, our Governors have never found any difficulty in maintaining the title of "Father" by which the Indians invariably address them.

Yet notwithstanding this just feeling and this general desire of our countrymen to act kindly towards the Indians, it had for some time been in contemplation in Upper Canada to prevail upon a portion of them to dispose of their lands to the Crown, and to remove to the British Manitoulin Islands in Lake Huron.

When first I heard of this project, I felt much averse to it; and by repeated personal inspections of the territories in which they were located, took a great deal of pains to ascertain what was the real condition of the Indians in Canada, and whether their proposed removal would be advantageous to them, as well as to the province, and the result of my inquiries induced me, without any hesitation, to take the necessary steps for recommending to them to carry this arrangement into effect.

Whoever, by the sweat of his brow, cultivates the ground, creates out of a very small area food and raiment sufficient not only for himself, but for others; whereas the man who subsists solely on game requires even for his own family a large hunting ground. Now so long as Canada was very thinly peopled with whites an Indian preserve, as large as one of our counties in England, only formed part and parcel of the great forest which was common to all, and thus, for a considerable time, the white men and the red men, without inconvenience to each other, followed their respective avocations, the latter hunting, while the former were employing themselves in cutting down trees, or in laboriously following the plough. In process of time, however, the Indian preserves became surrounded by small patches of cleared land; and so soon as this was effected the truth began to appear that the occupations of each race were not only dissimilar, but hostile to the interests of each other. For while the great hunting ground of the red man only inconvenienced the white settler, the little clearances of the latter, as if they had been so many chained-up barking dogs, had the effect of first scaring and then gradually cutting off the supplies of wild animals on whose flesh and skins the red race had been subsisting; besides which, every trader that came to visit the dwellings of the white man, finding it profitable to sell whisky to the Indians, the fatal results of - drunkenness, of small-pox, and other disorders combined, produced, as may be imagined, the most unfortunate results.

The remedy that naturally would first suggest itself to most men, and which actually did suggest itself to the minds of Sir Peregrine Maitland, Sir John Colborne, and other administrators of the Government who paid parental attention to the Indians, was to induce them to give up their hunting propensities, and tether themselves to the laborious occupations of their white brethren. In a few cases, where the Indians, circumscribed by temptations such as I have described, had become a race of half-castes, the project to a certain degree succeeded; but one might as well attempt to decoy a flight of wild fowl to the ponds of Hampstead Heath;—one might as well endeavour to persuade the eagle to descend from the lofty region in which he has existed to live with the fowls in our court-yards, as to prevail upon the red men of North America to become what we call civilized; in short, it is against their nature, and they cannot do it.

Having ascertained that in one or two parts of Upper Canada there existed a few Indians in the

« ZurückWeiter »