THE HISTORY OF CANADA
In the meantime Canada was swelling with settlers, and the foundations of a British province on the west coast were being laid. A flood of newcomers began to arrive after the War of 1812, mostly from the British Isles. About 800,000 immigrants came to Canada between 1815 and 1850, sometimes spoken of as the period of the Great Migration. The hardships faced by the new settlers were many. The trials often began in the crowded, cholera-ridden, and poorly provisioned sailing ships that brought the newcomers in vast numbers across the Atlantic. The building of new settlements went on in the Maritime Provinces and in the Canadas, and early in the century Cape Breton Island was settled by Gaelic-speaking farmers from the Scottish Highlands.
The largest tracts of land available for settlement were in Upper Canada, where the opening of new subdivisions in the dense forests was an almost continuous process during this whole period. One of the largest and most famous of these was the huge tract of land on the north shore of Lake Erie acquired by Thomas Talbot in about 1802. Established in 1803, the Talbot Settlement was governed by him during the whole period of its development, which covered almost 50 years. In 1824 a large private enterprise known as the Canada Company, promoted by John Galt, was launched with government backing. Settlements began after the company obtained about 2.5 million acres. Between 1824 and 1843 the company was responsible for opening up most of the western part of the province lying north of the Talbot country.
Until the coming of the railway, the principal method of moving heavy freight over long distances was by water. Canals in the colonies were therefore improved, and new ones were dug. Roads were cut through the bush to connect the far-flung centers of settlement with lake and river ports. On the backwoods farms great branding fires burned steadily for weeks at a time as the pioneers slowly cleared their lands. As a rule, the stumps were left in the ground to rot, which required from five to six years for most woods. Cedar and pine roots might hamper the use of horse-drawn plows for as long as 15 to 20 years. In most respects pioneer life was very similar in Canada and the United States.
|Discovery of Canada|