New Ontario a Great Land
Mr. J. L. Englehart Gives a Stirring Address to Toronto Board of Trade.
Great Clay Belt Surpasses in Fertility That of Western Canada.
Wealth of Minerals, Timber and Fish to Repay the Investor.
Toronto despatch—The inauguration of a new step, the importance of which cannot be over-estimated, namely a campaign to press forward to the development of Ontario's great pregnant northland, was marked yesterday by a luncheon of the members of the Toronto Board of Trade, at which Mr. J. L. Englehart, chairman of the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway Commission, gave two hundred Toronto business men an introduction to "their own back yard" and its limitless possibilities.
Mr. Englehart's address was a mass of information regarding New Ontario, all of which went to convince the most pessimistic of the importance of doing everything possible to open up and develop this country. Mr. Englehart urged that all that was necessary was to divert the trek of settlers from old Ontario, from the west to the north, in order to wrest this land from the wilderness and to make it the happy home of thousands of people.
The agricultural development of the country Mr. Englehart regarded as the most important. It was right, he said, that consideration should be given to the minerals and that an outlet should be sought from Ontario by the Hudson Bay; but it was important that the people should not shirk the shadow and leave the substance behind. The agricultural development of the country was the only safe foundation on which to build.
From an agricultural standpoint alone the land of northern Ontario was richer than the west. Its soil had for ages been protected by nature with great forests, and would yield greater returns than the land of the west. Where in the west work was provided for only six or seven months in the year, in New Ontario there was work for the whole year round. The soil of the great clay belt was equalled no where else in the world. The speaker also dwelt on its great wealth in minerals, timber and fish, all of which promised that every dollar put into it would return one hundred fold.
Mr. Englehart opened his address by exhibiting a little bottle of wheat. "This is some of the No. 1 northland wheat," he said, which is equal to Manitoba No 1 hard. It has been analyzed and found so.
"If there is one thing more than another," Mr. Englehart proceeded, "that lies deep in the hearts of the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway Commission, it is the settlement of the northland of Ontario. It is these lands which in the past six years have come out of the wilderness, that will repay every effort of man that is put into them."
The speaker gave figures showing the growth of the railway since its beginning. In 1905 the insurance on the railway property was $572,000; in 1910 this insurance had grown to $2,780,000. In 1905 it carried 258,000 passengers; in 1910 1,044,000 passengers. In 1905 it carried 875,000 tons of freight; in 1910, 5,210,000 tons. The wages paid in 1905 were $234,000; in 1910 they were $880000. They had carried out of the Cobalt district altogether 11,230,000 pounds of silver ore, worth approximately $47,500,000.
"This land of Temiskaming is not alone the land of promise, but it is the land above all others. There are lands to the east of it and to the west of it that are very good lands; but the land of Temiskaming is better. It has already made good. It has no superior. Over forty cars of agricultural implements of every class have already gone into this country. I am assured by the Massey-Harris people that payments for these implements have been very prompt. in very few cases have even extensions of time been asked. This is not so in the west."
Mr. Englehart then spoke of the fairs in the northern towns, that in the last few years had exhibited timothy that was over sixty inches in length, and clover of seventeen inches. These grasses, including alfalfa, had been self-seeded, and were natural to the soil. These exhibits and also the exhibits of roots, especially potatoes, would warrant the statement that Temiskaming could not but be all that it was said to be.
There were now fourteen Government assistants at work at different points in Northern Ontario, who were "rediscovering" the land and its possibilities. At present most of the seed for the crops of that country were obtained from outside the Province, seventy-five per cent. of the seed potatoes coming from the Maritime Provinces. The time was coming soon, however, when all the seed would be produced right in the district. The oats and wheat grown there were clean and hard and hardy.
"These are facts," Mr. Englehart said, "which are at your very door. Is it not your duty to assist in building up that country?" The speaker said that he had received a great deal of correspondence from people who had settled in the west, asking about New Ontario, with the object of returning to their native Province. "We want to hold our people of Ontario in our own back yard."
Mr. Englehart asked whether it would not be advisable to take some of the farms of the rocky lands of Muskoka off the hands of the farmers who had settled there and provide them with farms in Northern Ontario. In urging the need of settlers, he told of having a few years ago paid the expenses of four sons of a German family which had settled in the clay belt, that they might come down to old Ontario, secure wives for themselves and return. They had all four done so, and were now happily settled on farms of their own, and were raising families of their own.
Speaking of the line from North Bay to Cochrane, Mr. Englehart said that in the 253 miles there were fifty-two miles of curves and grades that were almost prohibitive. For the last three years they had been surveying, and he had learned only a few days ago that they were now in a position to reduce by five miles the first thirty-five miles of the line, and to eliminate 1,200 degrees of curves. They would be able to reduce the grades so that an engine could haul 2,000 tons, where formerly only 800 tons were hauled.
Taking the various sections of the new country separately, Mr. Englehart dealt in detail with the great and varied resources of each. From North Bay to Temagami was the great Temagami forest reserve, fifty miles in length, which was a great asset. The country was also abounding in iron ores. From Temagami to Latchford the Gowganda district was passed; the Montreal River provided transportation by water for six or seven months of the year. Speaking of the Cobalt district, which had yielded so much wealth, he said that many people had lost money in it, but that was due to the wild-cat schemes of promoters, and was no reflection on the country. "It behooves a man," he said, "to know the company he is in."
At Haileybury the great clay belt was entered. Clay soil, he said, retained its richness the longest of any. The clay soil of this belt was as much superior to that of other parts of the Province as clay was to other soil. That fact had been demonstrated and proven. Although there were frosts in nearly every month of the year, this did not prevent the land from yielding bountifully. Proceeding further north, the Larder Lake district was penetrated. Although a region of low-grade ores it had great possibilities. Around Matheson and Monteith copper and gold abounded, and there were great opportunities for the pulp industry. In Porcupine, the latest gold-mining camp, which it was prophesied would be equal to the Rand, the prospect was equally bright for agricultural and timber industries.
Cochrane, which was in the middle of this clay belt, was not only the terminal point of the T. & N. O. Railway, but was the divisional point of the Grand Trunk and the Transcontinental Railway. It was to be a great centre. The T. & N. O. was to form a very important link in the Transcontinental Railway, and Toronto was to be the door to this link.
Although the country from Cochrane to James Bay was not so well known, it was a land that was limitless in its possibilities. It was known to contain minerals. In spite of the fact that many rivers were filling up James Bay and that it was continually becoming shallower, Mr. Englehart was confident that this bay could be made the back door to the Province.