Imagens das páginas

Now to an Englishman or a Frenchman the Severn or the Thames, the Seine or the Rhone, would appear considerable streams; but in the Ottawa, a mere affluent of the St. Lawrence, an affluent moreover which reaches the main stream six hundred miles from the sea, we have a river nearly five hundred and fifty miles long, and three or four times as big as any of them. But even after having ascended the St. Lawrence itself to Lake Ontario, and pursued it across Lake Huron and Lake Superior to Thunder Bay, a distance of one thousand five hundred miles, where are we? In the estimation of the person who has made the journey, at the end of all things : but to us, who know better, scarcely at the commencement of the great fluvial system of the Dominion ; for from that spot, that is to say from Thunder Bay, we are able at once to ship our astonished traveller on to the Kaministiquia, a river of some hundred miles long. Thence almost in a straight line we launch him on Lake Shebandowan, Rainy Lake and Rainy River-a magnificent stream three hundred yards broad and a couple of hundred miles long-down whose tranquil bosom he floats into the Lake of the Woods, where he finds himself on a sheet of water, which, though diminutive as compared with the inland seas he has left behind him, will probably be found sufficiently extensive to render him fearfully sea-sick during his passage across it. For the last eighty miles of his voyage, however, he will be consoled by sailing through a succession of land-locked channels, the beauty of whose scenery, while it resembles, certainly excels the far-famed Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence. From this lacustrine paradise of sylvan beauty we are able at once to transfer our friend to the Winnipeg, a river whose existence in the very heart and centre of the Continent is itself one of Nature's most delightful miracles, so beautiful and varied are its rocky banks, its tufted islands, so broad, so steep, so fervid is the volume of its waters, so vast the extent of their lake-like expansion, and so tremendous the power of its rapids.



At last, let us suppose, we have landed our traveller at the town of Winnipeg, the half-way house of the Continent, the capital of the Prairie province, and, I trust, the future centre of the Dominion. Having had so much of water, having now reached the home of the buffalo, he naturally, like the extenuated Falstaff, 'babbles of green fields' and careers in imagination over the primeval grasses of the prairie. Not at all. We take him down to the quay and ask him which he will ascend first, the Red River or the Assineboine : two streams, the one five hundred miles long, the other four hundred and eighty, which so happily mingle their waters within the city limits. After having given him a preliminary canter up these respective rivers, we take him off to Lake Winnipeg, an inland sea three hundred miles long and upwards of sixty broad, during the navigation of which for many a weary hour he will find himself out of sight of land, and probably a good deal more indisposed than ever he was on the Lake of the Woods or even the Atlantic.

At the north-west angle of Lake Winnipeg he hits upon the mouth of the Saskatchewan, the gateway to the northwest, and the starting-point to another one thousand five hundred miles of navigable water, flowing due east and west between its alluvial banks. Having now reached the foot of the Rocky Mountains, our traveller, knowing that water cannot run up hill, feels certain his aquatic experiences are ended. He was never more mistaken. We immediately launch him upon the Athabaska and Mackenzie rivers, and start him on a longer trip than any he has yet undertaken, the navigation of the Mackenzie river alone exceeding two thousand five hundred miles. If he survives this last experience, we wind up his wanderings by a voyage of one thousand four hundred miles down the Fraser river, or if he prefer it, the Thompson river, to Victoria in Vancouver.

Now in this enumeration those who are acquainted with the country are aware that, for the sake of brevity, I have omitted thousands of miles of other lakes and rivers, which water various regions of the north-west ; but the sketch I have given is more than sufficient for my purpose ; and when it is further remembered that most of these streams flow their entire length through alluvial plains of the richest description, where year after year wheat can be raised without manure, and without sensible diminution in its yield, and where the soil everywhere presents the appearance of a highly cultivated suburban market-garden in England, enough has been said to display the agricultural riches of the territories I have referred to, and the capabilities they possess of affording happy and prosperous homes to millions of the human race.



BEAUTIFUL lily, dwelling by still rivers,

Or solitary mere,
Or where the sluggish meadow-brook delivers

Its waters to the weir !

Thou laughest at the mill, the whirr and worry

Of spindle and of loom,
And the great wheel that toils amid the hurry

And rushing of the flume.

Born in the purple, born to joy and pleasance

Thou dost not toil nor spin,
But makest glad and radiant with thy presence

The meadow and the lin.

The wind blows, and uplifts thy drooping banner,

And round thee throng and run
The rushes, the green yeomen of thy manor,

The outlaws of the sun.

The burnished dragon-fly is thine attendant,

And tilts against the field,
And down the listed sunbeam rides resplendent

With steel-blue mail and shield.

Thou art the Iris, fair among the fairest,

Who, armed with golden rod,
And winged with the celestial azure, bearest

The message of some god.

Thou art the Muse who, far from crowded cities,

Hauntest the sylvan streams,
Playing on pipes of reed the artless ditties

That come to us as dreams.

O flower de luce, bloom on, and let the river

Linger to kiss thy feet !
O flower of song, bloom on, and make for ever
The world more fair and sweet.




On Friday, November 1st, 1872, just before reaching the village of Niagara Falls, I caught, from the railway train, my first glimpse of the smoke of the cataract. Immediately after my arrival, I went with a friend to the northern end of the American Fall. It may be that my mood at the time toned down the impression produced by the first aspect of this grand cascade ; but I felt nothing like disappointment, knowing, from old experience, that time and close acquaintanceship, the gradual interweaving of mind and nature, must powerfully influence my final estimate of the scene. After dinner we crossed to Goat Island, and, turning to the right, reached the

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