Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Famil.on exceeded in the member Canada inay

ALLEGED REWARDING OF REBELS. 321 influence, or in the sweets of office. The few British who gained access to the Assembly, therefore, were naturally driven into opposition, and, after the union of the provinces, made common cause with the French opposition to the Tory Government. By degrees, however, the British-born in Upper Canada increased in strength, till at length the members of Assembly returned by them exceeded those nominated and returned by the Family Compact. They were then able, by the aid of the opposition members of French blood, to drive their enemies from office, and bring in that Government which now holds the reins of power. It was no way surprising, then, that a majority of British-born should be found fighting side by side, when in office, against the same parties whom they had joined to oppose before the reins of Government were intrusted to their hands; or that our ousted opponents should be bitter, and say all manner of evil against us.

“ And then, as to this disputed measure, we never believed or intended that any one who had aided or promoted the rebellion should be compensated for the losses he had sustained ; though some of our supporters spoke foolishly, which we could not help, and our leaders were not perfect by any means in their behaviour on some occasions. How, then, could we abandon our old friends? We felt, indeed, that we had no cause; and if we had found a cause, we could not, amid the clamour that was raised, have honourably taken advantage of it."

This defence places the question in a light I was too ignorant of the circumstances to have been able to see it in before. I could not reply to it; and as I was only asking for information myself, I place it before my readers, who may possibly be in the same state of happy ignorance with myself, without committing myself either for or against the statement of my Canadian friend.

VOL. I.

CHAPTER XII.

Land opposite Quebec.—Its quality and value.- Reserved rents consi

dered oppressive.-Few immigrants into this region.-Roman Catholic seminary at Quebec.—Professor Horan.-Self-sacrifice of the teachers.-Falls of Montmorenci.—The natural steps.-Ice cone of Montmorenci.-Sun-setting, on Quebec.-Relative proportions of the different sects in Quebec.—Comparative commercial prosperity of Montreal and Quebec.-Autumn around Quebec.—Fires in the city.

-Journey down the St Lawrence.- Price of land and labour at St Michel.—-Flat lands of St Thomas, “the granary of the lower district.”-St Roque des Annais.-Long farming streets.-Upper Bay of Kamouraska.— Mode of drying grain.- Price of farms.—College of St Anne.-Rapid increase of the French Canadian population.-Early marriages of the French population.—Healthiness of the climate.Comparative births and deaths in Lower Canada and in England.Corn-mills.-Kamouraska.-Rivière-du-Loup.-Comfortable hotelVillage of Du Loup, and its future prospects.-High-road to New Brunswick.-Active Canadian horses.- Cacona.—Country apparently thickly peopled.-Great extent of wild forest-land in these lower counties.-Large families of the Canadian peasantry.-Subdivision of farms.- Poor and difficult land on which they settle.—Resemblance of the poorer habitants to the poorer Irish.-Desire to build fine houses.-Extensive mortgages.—Wages of labour in the Rimouski district.-Longitudinal valleys parallel with the St Lawrence.-Peculiarity of the bog-earth in North America.—Difficulty in finding quarters at Rimouski.—Irish landlord.—Scottish settlers at Mitis.

Friday, September 28.-After breakfast the weather improved, the sun shone brightly through the clouds, and I was able to walk out into the strong city and citadel of Quebec, where every gun and every soldier calls up the memory of the immortal Wolfe. The place is certainly

SOIL OPPOSITE QUEBEC.

323

very strong by nature; and no art seems to have been spared to turn to account the advantages of natural position. The only weakness, perhaps, is that the fortifications are too extensive; and in the event of a war, would require a larger force to maintain or defend them than could easily be spared in so extensive a country.

Not having met with any of the persons to whom I had brought letters, I crossed the river to Point Levi in the afternoon; and climbing the lofty bank, from which the view of the city and river is very extensive and beautiful, I made a short excursion on foot into the interior.

The rocks, which on this right bank rise up almost precipitously from the river-like the high ground and cliffs on which the city of Quebec stands—consist of dark-coloured slates or indurated sbales, having thin beds of limestone, more or less pure, interstratified with them. They belong to the higher beds of the upper Silurian--the Utica and Lorraine shales which overlie the Trenton limestone of Kingston and Montreal—and are inclined at a very high angle. From the elevated ground beyond the top of the bank, the country inland appeared to be cleared to a great extent, and undulated in long wave-like ridges, till the eye finally rested on low mountains, which I supposed to be a prolongation of the Green Mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont.

The soil was free, and comparatively light, being formed for the most part from the crumbling of the shaly rock, of which many fragments were intermingled with it. Indeed in some fields, where the rocks protruded at intervals through the surface, the soil—like that fertile country of which I have already spoken, near Woodstock in New Brunswick, or the still richer fields on the Onondaga green •shales near Syracuse-consisted almost entirely of visible fragments of the shivery indurated shales.

324

RESERVED RENT OF LAND.

Potatoes were almost the only crop I saw now remaining in the fields. On his knees, working with a diminutive hoe, I found a French Canadian digging, from what appeared a good soil, a scanty crop of small-sized potatoes. The man seemed satisfied, and considered the crop good—perhaps it was, in comparison with those of the past years of failure. Their size reminded me of the graphic if not elegant terms in which a New Brunswick farmer, on his return from Maine, described the potato-crop of that State to a friend of mine, in the autumn of 1849 : “Why, sir, the potatoes in Maine-I could put fourteen of them into your mouth, and sixteen into that of any other man. I could, by thunder !—I have said it !”.

The peasantry obtain land from the farmers and proprietors for their potato-crop-as is still the case in many rural districts among ourselves—free from rent, on condition of manuring and cleaning it. The owner takes a crop of grain the following year, and again lets it for potatoes on the same terms, if he can. Farther inland, my informant said the land was let to tenants at so high a rate that they were much kept down by it. On further inquiry, he stated the rent to be a piastre the arpent*_which meant a dollar for an arpent in front, and perhaps thirty backwards—which is about twopence an acre. What can be the condition of an agricultural people, who, paying scarcely any taxes, feel themselves weighed down by a rent of twopence an acre ?

I was here in the county of Dorchester, and though it was situated directly opposite to Quebec, there had not come into the county a single new settler during the year 1848. The value of cleared land varies from £1 to £10 currency. There are two reasons for the custom, prevalent in all Lower Canada, of running the farms back from the roads, with a narrow frontage. Society is

* Six arpents make about five imperial acres.

ITS VALUE IN DIFFERENT COUNTIES.

325

obtained, so necessary to the French, and many neighbours close at hand, by living in one long street. Many farms can also be laid out, with little expense in roadmaking. Behind the first row of farms along the road, a second row is surveyed; and beyond these a second road, and a third row of farms. These are spoken of as the second and third Concessions. They are farther from churches, markets, mills, &c., than the first Concession, and are therefore less esteemed. In this county, at present, the seigneurs grant the uncleared back-lands for an annual charge of 15s. to 30s. currency for the farm of 90 arpents—3 in front, and 30 deep-or 2d. to 4d. an acre. This is considerably greater than it used to be, as in this county the value of uncleared land has risen much during the last ten years.

Immediately above this county, along the St Lawrence, is that of Lotbinière. Here cleared land sells for 50s. an acre, and uncleared land has not increased in value for ten years. Immediately below, again, is the county of Bellechasse, in which also there are no new settlers. Cleared farms, well situated, will sell for £400 to £600; but the general value of land during the last ten years has fallen 10 or 12 per cent. '

Inland again, beyond and behind Dorchester, is the county of Megantic, which is described as very flourishing. There are no immigrants; but the population is rapidly augmenting by natural increase. It is a purely French Canadian district. The average value of cleared land is about 6s. 3d. an acre, though some sells as high as 20s. It produces sheep, cattle, and butter for the Quebec market. It will be recollected that the price of cleared land is not that of the fee-simple, the rents and rights of the seigneur being always reserved. Probably, this form of holding is one of the causes by which immigrants are deterred from penetrating into these Lower Canadian counties.

« AnteriorContinuar »