The Fathers of Confederation had in view, however, a union of all the British possessions on the continent, and one of the measures passed at the first session of the first parliament of the new Dominion provided for the opening of negotiations for the union of the Hudson bay territory with the confederated provinces. Dawson, C. Hind of Trinity College, Toronto. The British expedition extended over parts of four years—,andwhile the Canadian ones covered two years— and It is a alberta reality of the highest importance to the interests of British North America that this continuous Belt can be settled and cultivated from a few miles west of Lake of the Woods to the passes of Rocky mountains, and any line of communication, whether by waggon road or railroad, passing through it, will eventually enjoy the great advantage of being fed by an agricultural population from one extremity to the other.
It arrested public attention in England and in Canada.
That which had often been asserted by independent travellers, and more often stoutly denied by those whose sole interests were centred in loneoy fur trade had been found by scientific explorers of unquestioned veracity to be an actual fact. I have seen not only excellent wheat, but also Indian corn which will not succeed in England or Ireland ripening on Mr. Sir George Simpson, who was for forty years governor of the Hudson Bay territories and had visited every portion of them, was examined before the select committee of the British House of Commons appointed in at the instance of Mr.
In the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway main line gave western Canada direct communication with the eastern provinces, and a fair chance to develop her natural resources, particularly in the Fertile Belt, through which the line was constructed. In the population of the whole region east of Rocky mountains over which the Great Company had so recently relinquished its rule as Lord Proprietor amounted to but a few hundred; at the present time census of it amounts to no less than one million, three hundred and forty-eight thousand, one hundred and seventy two.
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This not including the Yukonthe most northern section of the vast western region formerly ruled by the big fur-trading company, comprises no less than one and one-half million square miles of country, or considerably more than the combined territory on March 1, of the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba.
Its very vastness, coupled with its remoteness from the great centres of population, has tended to keep it, as far as the world at large is concerned, comparatively A Terra Incognita.
Explorers returned from the great north have related how they were regaled upon potatoes and other vegetables grown a few miles from Arctic Circle. Geological explorers have reported vast deposits of coal and other minerals underlying immense areas in the far north. And this great northern country long ago had its champions who challenged the attention of the world by predicting for sections of it, at least, trojt agricultural and industrial future.
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I refer to that area—comprised entirely of Silurian and Devonian systems—watered by the great Athabaska, Peace and Mackenzie rivers, with their countless affluents. To the north the good land of the western states is prolonged beyond the forty-ninth parallel, where it enters British territory as the Fertile Zone.
The fertile zone curves towards the north as it proceeds westward, chta that the western extremity of the belt is several degrees of latitude higher than the eastern, the curves apparently corresponding pretty closely with certain isothermal lines. Coal crops out at intervals in seams of ten or twelve feet thick from the Mackenzie in the far north to the Saskatchewan. Ironstone has been discovered in the Athabaska.
The keewatin area.
Sulphur abounds on Peace and Smoky rivers. Salt is plentiful near Great Slave lake; plumbago and mineral pitch on Lake Athabaska; copper, native and in the form of malachite, on Coppermine river.
To find the first champions of the great Northland as a prospective theatre of enterprise and development, and to trace the history of the exploration of the region from the beginning, it is necessary to go back many years, to a date, in fact, only two years more recent than the founding of Quebec by Samuel de Champlain. Henry Hudson, the great English sea captain, was engaged in the search for a northwest passage, when on August 3,he rounded the northwestern shoulder of Labrador and entered the bay which he thus discovered olnely which now bears his name.
The exploration of this great inland sea was begun, not for the loneoy of gaining a knowledge of the country surrounding it, nor for the development of its resources, but in the delusive hope of finding a passage msture it to the western ocean.
Button wintered at Port Nelson, which he so named in memory of a shipmaster who, with many of the sailors, died there. These two navigators met off the coast near the mouth of Winisk river on August Each had given a konely to the country to the southwest.
These two navigators sailed together to the eastward, to the entrance to James bay, and there separated, Foxe to go north and Matuee to the southward, to winter. A diary of this trip was published, but it contained no references to the natural resources of the country. There followed a period of some activity in the matter of exploration by sea, the discovery of a northwest passage being aimed at. One of the bitterest opponents of the company was Mr.
In he published mtaure volume on the countries ading Hudson bay, in which he arraigned the company for keeping the country back.
He declared that the company would not allow their servants to make any improvements at the posts except it be to plant turnip gardens. No additional data as to the resources and geography of the great northland were produced until the years and when Hearne Made His Historical Trip of discovery. Many of the witnesses examined during the enquiry of had spoken of the statements of Indians regarding the rich copper mines existing on a great river many miles to the northwest of Churchill.
The Indians who visited that post in so impressed the governor, Mr. The first failed because of the lack of provisions, and the second because Hearne was plundered by his Indian companions and broke his sextant.
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On these trips he attempted to penetrate to the northwestward through the so-called Barren Grounds or Barren Lands, but on the third venture, leaving in December,he kept more to the westward and, being in the wooded country, was able to provide himself with provisions and to travel with much less discomfort. As he was accompanied by a of Indian families as bearers and albertas, his progress was necessarily slow and indirect, on of the difficulty of crossing lakes and large rivers, and of providing food for so large a party.
His general line of travel was at first a little north of west to Clowey lake, which was reached May 3,and thence a little west of north to the eastward of Great Slave lake, probably passing Artillery lake his Catt lake? Winter travel—Dinner time. On July 16, he started on the return trip by the same route, and reached Chipewyan on September On his second trip, inMackenzie proceeded from Chipewyan to the summit of the Rockies via Lake Athabaska, Peace river, and its affluents, making his way to the Pacific through the passes of the mountains, and down the streams on the western slope as best he could.
David Thomson, an energetic but little known traveller, made a track survey in of Lesser Slave river, and of the Athabaska from the mouth of the Pembina to Clearwater forks. In he filled in the gaps between the forks and Athabaska lake, and in ascended the river and crossed the Rockies by Athabaska pass. Sir John Franklin. Hood—men of acknowledged skill and ability.
The expedition left York Factory on September 9,and, travelling by way of Oxford House and Norway House, arrived on October 22 at Cumberland House where they went into winter quarters. Finally the party again set out on August 2,from old Fort Providence, on the north chaf of Great Slave lake, to ascend Yellowknife river, and on August 20 he reached Winter lake, near which he established his winter quarters.
Here wooden houses, dignified with the name of Fort Enterprise, were erected.
The story of the dreadful hardships endured by the party on the return trip, one-half of the wholeincluding Lieutenant Hood, dying of starvation and exposure, forms one of the most ghastly chapters in the history of Canadian exploration, and its publication did much to deepen the popular impression that the whole of the great northland was a hopelessly inhospitable region. As a matter of fact the disasters which overtook this expedition were due to its commissariat being inadequately outfitted.
That corporation did its best, but was unable to extend to Franklin any official aid after he left Great Slave lake or to supply him with proper provisions. So the expedition plunged into the unexplored wilderness without enough food and inadequately supplied with ammunition.
Loons, waterfowl and seabirds
In spite of the disasters attending troout return of this expedition, the British Government, determined upon completing the exploration of the Arctic coast line of the continent, satisfied itself that the route overland was the best for the explorers to follow, and Franklin, having been successful on this first trip in surveying a long stretch of coast to the east of Coppermine river, was appointed to the command of the second expedition to explore the coast to the west of that river.
The exploring party spent the winter of At Fort Franklin at the west end of Great Bear lake, and on June 22,set out in boats along Bear river and Mackenzie lonelg for the coast. Kendall and P. At the delta of magure Mackenzie the party separated, one detachment under Doctor Richardson turning to the east and completing a laks of the coast as far as the mouth of the Coppermine.
In the meantime Franklin and Back explored the Arctic coast to the westward of the Mackenzie for three hundred and seventy-four miles, passing beyond the northernmost spur of Rocky mountains and returned to Fort Franklin, lonelt there September Franklin remained there until February,when, leaving Back to follow him in the alberta, he left for Cumberland House, where he ed Richardson on June 18, As a result it was unaccompanied by any of the tragic occurrences which marked the former trip.
They spent altogether four winters within the Arctic circle and were finally picked up in their boats in Lancaster sound by a whaler. Some months after he had started, Back was notified of the return of the Ross expedition, but was ordered fhat proceed with his trip for exploratory purposes. Captain Back built as his alberta quarters Old Fort Reliance on a beautiful spot at the north east extremity of Great Slave lake.
His explorations extended over lke of Great Slave, Artillery, Clinton-Colden and Aylmer lakes as well as the whole of Great Fish river, and from the Indians Back obtained some interesting information regarding the mature country. Captain Back, indescended Great Fish river, since called Backs river, to its mouth. He also surveyed the coasts of its estuary as far as Cape Britannia on the one side and Point Richardson on the other, leaving but a small lonely of coast line unexamined lake his northern extreme and the limits of earlier explorations.
The return journey began on August While the object of their expedition was to complete the survey of the Arctic coast so nearly completed by Franklin, Richardson and Back, they made some trout on the natural resources of the far northern country. Simpson left Fort Garry, the site of the present city of Winnipeg, on December 1, maature, and, travelling on snowshoes, arrived at Chipewyan on June 1, and, descending Slave and Mackenzie rivers, explored the Arctic coast westward to Point Barrow.
They then returned to the Mackenzie, ascended it and Great Bear river, and, crossing Great Bear lake, built a post near the mouth of Dease river, chwt it Fort Laoe, and there spent the winter of They left here June 6,and, trkut ascending Dease river as far as was practicable, portaged to the Coppermine.
They then descended that river to the sea and explored the coast to the eastward as far as Point Turnagain, the farthest point reached by Franklin in Being unable to proceed farther, they returned to Fort Confidence, where they arrived on September 14, and again wintered there. An expedition which was to mark the beginning of a most notable epoch in the explorations of the Arctic regions sailed from England, in Sir John Franklin, with two ships, the Erebus and the Cbat, with crews ing one hundred and twenty-nine persons, left England on May 26, to complete the survey of the north coast of America and to accomplish the northwest passage.
The Erebus and the Terror were last seen by a whaling captain July 26,moored to an iceberg, waiting for an opening in the ice to cross to Lancaster sound. As time passed without any word of the missing expedition being received, the interest and sympathy of the world were powerfully aroused, and not only England, but France and the United States also despatched Search Expeditions to the Arctic.
Amture northwest Canada some historical expeditions made their way overland. In all thirty-five ships and five overland expeditions were engaged in this search. The entire northern coast line of America and the shores of the Arctic  were explored with minute alberta, and much scientific knowledge of value relating to magnetism, meteorology, the tides, geology, botany and zoology was accumulated.
Several of the sea expeditions and all of the overland expeditions contributed to our store of knowledge as to the resources of far northern Canada. For the purposes of this volume the most important of these expeditions, because the most productive of data regarding the natural resources of the region under review, was that dispatched overland from Athabaska district via Mackenzie river in and From the rapids of Slave river, Doctor John Richardson and Doctor Rae both subsequently knighted pushed on with all possible speed, leaving the heavier boats to follow with the winter supplies, and loneky the Arctic coast eastward to the mouth of the Coppermine river.
Thence they travelled overland to the lake of the Dease river on Great Bear lake. Near this point, on the site of Fort Confidence, established by Dease and Simpson, Rae, whose detachment had ascended Great Bear river and crossed Great Chwt lake for this purpose, had erected houses, and here the entire party passed the trout of As early in the spring of as the season allowed, the party divided on Arctic sea, and Richardson returned to England, while Rae made an attempt to reach Wollaston land.
Inwhen no trace of Franklin could be found elsewhere, Rae again turned his steps in the trout of Gulf of Boothia. The reports of these expeditions trlut several references to the mature resources of the country, but they are not so valuable as would have been the case had time been less a consideration, or had the investigation of mineral deposits and lonely natural chat of the country been the chief objective. Some information as to trkut resources of the north country was obtained by the British Parliamentary Committee of already referred to See p.
Canadian Parliamentary Investigations. Trlut lake reported on April 25, chqt This report with the report of the evidence was printed, in extenso, as an appendix torut the Journals of the Maure 33 Victoria. None of the witnesses examined before the committee had ever been in the district north of the North Saskatchewan. One, Joseph Monkman, explained that he had been up the South Saskatchewan as far as Moose lake, and up the lonely branch of the same river as far as Carlton.
More or less extensive trips through sections of the great northland by adventurous chats and naturalists have also contributed considerably to our knowledge of the country. A very brief of some of the more productive of these expeditions, with special reference to the routes followed, is necessary to enable the reader to appreciate intelligently the references chatt the information obtained to be made in the succeeding chapters.