The Marquis of Lorne, K.T.
The Religious Tract Society
Canadian pictures is one of a series of travel books which include titles such as "The land of the Pharaohs" and "Indian pictures". The Marquis of Lorne, 1845-1914,was also the ninth Duke of Argyll and Canada's fourth Governor General 1878-1883.
This beautiful book opens with a wonderful full page etching from one of the Marquis' sketches of a "Road near New Westminster, British Columbia", The road is surrounded by massive cedar trees while a two horse carriage passes through. At the head of the contents page another of the Marquis' sketches of "The Rocky mountains from our camp on the Elbow river" is magnificent clearly the Marquis was a talent with pen and pencil.
A large fold out coloured map of Canada issued by the Minister of railways and canals (1882) is present as well as impressive. The map contains within it a small insert map of the routes to and from the British Isle's and North America.
Chapter one is titled "The Dominion of Canada" and the viewer is confronted by two more high quality images one of New Westminster, British Columbia but the more interesting image is the full page sketch of "Shad Fishing", The fisherman stand above a choppy shore on crudely made docks while holding long sticks with nets on the end.
The chapter is on the statistics of the Dominion beginning with Newfoundland and heading west including the make up of it's area, the habitable area, as well as resources, export and import revenues and governing bodies. The populations are broken down by religious denomination, this being either Protestant or Roman catholic with it being notable that at the time of writing the chapter in 1884 Ontario has some Jews.
The images are enchanting views of yesteryear including the "Indian hunting equipment" from the authors collection, so too is the etching of the oxen pulling a cart across the great bluff of the Thompson River. The next chapter "Relations between Canada and England" contains an image of a snow plough train, a most remarkable relic of ingenuity!
Of relations between Australia, Canada and the British Isles the author says "How foolish therefor, will our successors in England deem us to have been, if we do not meet to the fullest degree possible the wishes of these growing states!", "They will retain a brothers feeling for us, if we are friendly to them in the critical time of their coming manhood.". The author continues "Days may arrive when we shall implore their assistance, and when the alliance of those powers, grown into maturity and strength, and under very possible circumstances the strong arbiters of our own destinies, shall be ours through the wisdom we may show to-day, or may be lost to us, and become the property of our enemies, by the coldness of our conduct at this hour.".
Chapter three is on "The climate of Canada" and opens with a sweet picture of children tobogganing as well as an image of dog sled harnessed but at rest. The author lays down the costs of emigration to Canada from the British Isles and encourages women to go as far west as they can afford, as there is a shortage in the western provinces. The images of an Indian camp on the plains and British Columbia's Homathco river are wonderful and alluring views.
The Maritime Provinces are the subject of chapter four with an excellent picture of the town of Halifax. While collecting relics at Louisburg the Marquis finds the ruins of the old French fort built on behalf of Louis XIII. Of this fort the author says "There was, the remnant of an old sword, although green with age; there was even the breech piece of a small canon, and the barrel of a musket. Had these lain buried ever since the day that saw the arrival of General Wolfe".
The beautiful pictures keep coming as the Marquis ventures on to Canada's most populated province Ontario with the opening image being that of Niagara falls and another remarkable picture of "A beaver village". The provinces accommodations , industry, religion and environments are delved into including girls schools recommended highly by the author.
With chapter six we are introduced to Canada's largest French province, Quebec, with a nice image of Montmorenci falls which the author tells us that the falls freezes in winter creating a slide for the amusement of locals, the author tells us "Quebecois are heard with a sigh of regret to recall the days when the presence of a garrison of British regulars supplied numbers of young men who could devote their days to such amusements, and very gay were the parties whose members flew down the white slopes until evening came, and time was found for a dance and supper".
The author goes on to record the fate of a pair of French soldiers captured by the Iroquois in years gone by and after a night of beatings the two soldiers were expected to be burned at the stake the following morning but of which fortune spared, the author also mentions some talk about the custom of taking scalps . An old engraving of Champlain attacking an Iroquois fort is amazing!
Having said all that I have to admit the book is very statistically orientated with matters that would have concerned an emigrant of a hundred and twenty years ago but so many mentions on crop yields, that being bushels per acre, and I imagine many readers would not be going further or might confine themselves to the areas of their interest.
In chapter VII we are on a tour of Lake Huron to Winnipeg with an image of the town of Winnipeg surrounded by fields and Indian Teepee's and a covered wagon. The author discusses the enormous mineral potential including copper mines around Lake Superior. The author also discusses the mining of silver by an American consortium "It came up in moss like branches running through a white stone; it was found in blocks of grey ore, and in thick sheets of solid silver,".
With chapter VIII we find "The Indians of the North-west" and a wonderful sketch of "Blackfeet Indians crossing a river". The author presents an argument for the licensing act of 1883 which controlled the licensing of alcohol and says "If an argument derived from the effects of over-indulgence in stimulants can be derived from the conduct of white men under their influence, a far stronger proof of their bad consequence may be drawn from the ruin they work on the Red man." We are presented with a sketch titled "Ugly Customers" which portray four natives, three of whom are leaning on a counter in a general store and the author now tells about the Cree tribe and horse stealing.
Of complete fascination the author than goes on to tell us about Sitting Bull and General Custer with Sitting Bull saying "he sent a letter to me, telling me that if I did not go to an agency he would fight me; and I sent word back to him by his messenger that I did not want to fight, but only to be left alone.". After more messages of intimidation from Custer to Sitting Bull, Sitting bull relinquishes " 'All right; get your men mounted, and I will get all my men mounted; we will have a fight; the Great Spirit will look on, and the side that is in the wrong will be defeated. ".
Sitting Bull recounts "I believe Custer was killed in the first attack, as we found his body, or what all the Indians thought was Custer's body, about the place where the first attack was made. I do not think there is any truth in the report that he shot himself.". We are next told about Sitting Bull and his tribe taking refuge in Canada and the desire to deport the chief and his people back to United states as a prisoner of war.
A most horrible description of young warriors being deliberately tortured in order to prove their mettel is presented and a very difficult description to read let alone willingly participate.
The author talks about the early explorers and their meetings with the natives, Champlain described the treatment given one French captive, "They bade the poor man sing if he had the courage to do so, and the victim did manage to sing, but naturally enough, "it was a song which was sad to hear." He tells us "our friends lit a fire, and when it was well aflame, each took a brand and burnt the miserable creature by slow degrees, so as to make him suffer more torment." After many hours more torture by fire and scalping the party pours hot resin over the victims head and pierces his arms near his fists to draw forth his nerves, it is thankfully at this point that Champlain is able to convince the Indians to let him kill the half dead man.
The author goes on to tell us of less gruesome activities of the Indians. As the chapter closes we are presented with an image of "An Indian Burial on the Plains", the body wrapped and placed upon a platform of sticks high above the ground.
With chapter IX we are presented "The New Territories" and an etching of the Marquis' collection of native artifacts. Here the author deals with the western provinces including Saskatchewan, Athabasca and Alberta recalling about many of the first settlers and the productive value of these lands for farming as well as mineral exploration and the gold rush.
We are presented with a land of great opportunity for emigrants who the author lays out the costs to settle and build a farm as well as the expected bushels per acre. The image of "Fort Edmonton" is terrific.
The last chapter is on British Columbia and opens with a beautiful quaint sketch by the Marquis of a "View From Esquimault. ", though it must be said that the images of this chapter are some of the best including a view of an Indian suspension bridge and views of the Fraser River and an Indian salmon cache. The view of Indian graves with carved statues in front is also magnificent.
But of the China man the author says "There is no doubt that the presence of the Chinease in any number is only a temporary phenomenon. They remain strangers to the country they reside in." From hear we are informed of the beautiful properties of the land, the customs of its native populations.
The author talks about a 300 foot tall tree and its surroundings "All around this giant at Burrard Inlet were others nearly as large." We are told about the various explorers who investigated this shore and its value to the Dominion as the countries Pacific shore.
We are again presented with the assets of the land for pioneers including the husbandry of its animals. Finally we are told that at the time about 40 000 to 50 000 people emigrate to Canada each year. An appendix follows discussing the states of Government in development in the Dominion as well as the United States.
Canadian Pictures was thoroughly interesting in its images which almost if not all took me to another time and place though the authors descriptions were often more information than a casual reader needs but would have been incredibly use full to those considering emigration to Canada in the later part of the Victorian era.