1902 Encyclopedia > Canada > Canada - Cultivated Land and Agricultural Products

(Part 7)

Cultivated Land and Agricultural Products. – Canada is pre-eminently a country of yeoman farmers. The land is held in possession and tilled by the settler on his own account; and with every addition to the numbers of its industrious population fresh acres are recovered from the wilderness, and added to the productive resources and the wealth of the Dominion. The number of persons occupying land within the four provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario according to the census of 1871 was in all 367,862. of these there were 324,160 owners, 39,583 tenants, and only 2119 farm laborers or servants. Those facts alone suffice to illustrate the striking contrast between the condition of Canada and most of the countries of Europe. By patient industry and frugality it is in the power of every Canadian to become owner of a house, and proprietor of whatever amount of land he can turn to profitable account; while the character of the population resulting from this condition of things checks the accumulation of extensive landed estates in the hands of single proprietor. The majority of the farms are small, tilled by the proprietor with his own hands, with the help of his sons and occasional hired labor in the busy season of harvesting. But capital is also successfully applied to farming, and beautiful stock farms are now entering into rivalry with those of the United States and even of England. The following table shows the extent of holdings, and the subdivision of land: -

10 acres and under…………………….40,281
10 acres and acres……………………..78,877
50 acres to 100 acres………………….141,300
100 acres to 200 acres………………..82,176
above 200…………………………….25,228

The greater number of occupiers and owners of holdings of ten acres and under are to be found in Quebec and the Acadian settlements of the maritime provinces, where a continual subdivision goes on among families under the influence of old custom and the operation of the French law of inheritance. In Quebec the old French seigniories established and perpetuated a large class of landed proprietors with their tenant farmers; and notwithstanding the abolition of the seigniorial tenures in 1854, their influence still survives, so that the number of holders of land above 200 acres is greater in Quebec than in any of the other provinces. The climate and other attractions of Upper Canada tend to secure to it the largest share of immigration; and the rapidly increasing quantity of cultivated land in the province of Ontario is at once an evidence and a guarantee of the substantial progress of the country. In 1842 the population of Upper Canada numbered 486,055, with 1,927,816 acres of land under cultivation. In 1852 the population had increased to 952,004, and the land under cultivation to 3,697,724 acres. According to the census of 1871 the total population of Ontario, as it is now called, numbered 1,620,851 with 16,161,676 acres of land in process of improvement.

Besides the grand staple of the cereal grains, the Canadian farmer derives large returns from his crops of hay, clover, and grass seeds, carrots, mangel wurzel, beans, hops, flax, hemp, and tobacco. In 1852 Upper Canada produced 764,476 lb of tobacco, the greater portion of which was grown along the western shores of Lake Erie, and on the peninsula between that and Lake St. Clair where the soil and climate specially favored its growth. At the same date Lower Canada produced 488,652 lb; but in 1871 the returns for the province of Quebec alone amounted to 1,195,345 lb of tobacco. Hops are cultivated with still greater success; and flax and hemp are additional sources of profit to the farmer. The value of the hops, flax, and flax seed exported during the year 1874 amounted to $161,908. The following tabular statement of the values of some of the chief agricultural products exported during the year 1874, apart from the amounts retained by Canada for home consumption, will suffice to illustrate the increasing value of this important branch of native industry:-


The total value of the grain and other agricultural produce of Canada exported during the year 1874, apart from the produce for home consumption, was $19,590,142, of which Great Britain received to the amount of $9,867,047. the United States $8,680,997, and the remainder was distributed as shown here:-


But a false estimate of the actual agricultural resources of Canada is apt to be produced by testing them by its exports. Canada is a country of yeoman farmers tilling their own lands and living in abundance on the produce. The requirements for the table of the farm laborer are on a scale consistent with the resources of the country. The home consumption is accordingly great as compared with the number of the population; and it is therefore impossible to estimate, even approximately, the total annual value of all kinds of produce resulting from agricultural labor within the Dominion.

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