“Confederation of British America,” Montreal Gazette (5 August 1864)

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Date: 1864-08-05
By: Montreal Gazette
Citation: “Confederation of British America,” Montreal Gazette (5 August 1864)
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Extent of Territory

(From the Toronto Leader.)

In point of territory British America, under one Government, would make one of the most extensive countries in the world. We have taken some pains to present its superficial area, in square miles, with as much accuracy as is attainable; though it is impossible to arrive at absolute correctness in respect to countries of which the irregular outlines are, in the more distant parts, only imperfectly surveyed or explored:

Newfoundland—40,200 square miles.
Prince Edward Island—2,173 square miles.
New Brunswick—27,105 square miles.
Nova Scotia—18,600 square miles.
Canada—330,000 square miles.
Hudson’s Bay territory, North West—2,300,000 square miles.
British Columbia—200,000 square miles.
Vancouver’s Island—15,000 square miles.

Total—2,933,078 square miles.

British America has a larger area than the neighboring States, the extent of which is generally overated by their inhabitants; but which on a critical examination, is found not to exceed 2,364,400 square miles. Europe is only a little larger than these British possessions; its extent being 3,150,000 square miles against 2,933,078.

If Europe has a population of 230,000,000, we must not conclude that an equal extent of country on the northern part of this continent possesses a similar capacity for sustaining human life. It is true the greater part of even the Hudson’s Bay territory lies within what is, for convenience sake, called the temperate zone; that is below latitude 621 north, yet the whole eastern coast has artic climate. The amelioration of the climate westward is astonishingly great; and this fact is of greatest possible importance, because it is in the West that the good soil is found. In the valley of the great Saskatchewan, up to Athabaska river, a large population will doubtless one day awarm.

Extent of Frontier

From the best sources of information, we have arrived at the following result:

Newfoundland—1000 extent of boundaries in miles.
Prince Edward Island—350 extent of boundaries in miles.
Nova Scotia—1000 extent of boundaries in miles.
New Brunswick—775 extent of boundaries in miles.
Canada—2300 extent of boundaries in miles.
From Lake of the Woods to Pacific—1300 extent of boundaries in miles.
Pacific Coast of British Columbia—550 extent of boundaries in miles.
Vancouver’s Island—500 extent of boundaries in miles.
Labrador coast to Cape Chudley—850 extent of boundaries in miles.
Northern boundary from Cape Chudley to the mouth of Mackenzie’s River—3000 extent of boundaries in miles.

Total—11,625 extent of boundaries in miles.

Of this formidable extent of frontier, a large part is unapproachable or unassailable, and needs no other defence than that which nature affords.

British America, for centuries to come, would have enough to do to defend the assailable points of its frontiers, and the circumstances of their being open to attack at so many points would at least teach its people that discretion which, with nations as with individuals, is sometimes the better part of valor.

Finance and Commerce

(From the Globe.)

The imports of the Canadas have for some years averaged about $42,000,000 a year. In Nova Scotia the average has been about $7,500,000; in New Brunswick, $6,500,000; and in Prince Edward Island, $1,100,000—or in other words, about $14,000,000 against $42,000,000. The exports of the Canadian have for some time averaged about $33,000,000 a year. The average in Nova Scotia has been about $6,500,000; in New Brunswick, $4,500,000; and in Prince Edward Island, $1,200,000,—a little over $11,500,000 altogether. Thus, taking either the imports or exports, we find that the trade of the Canadas is about three times as large as that of the three other Provinces, and that in the federation of the five Provinces three-fourths of the trade would belong to Canada.

If we turn to the taxation of the different Provinces, we find even a more marked disproportion. In Canada the provincial revenue raised last year exceeded $10,000,00, and is henceforward to be something more. In Nova Scotia the revenue in 1862 was $127,298; in New Brunswick, $692,230; in Prince Edward Island, $187,753; in all, $2,007,281, against ten millions or more. If we take again, as a point of comparison, the quantity of land in the different Provinces, we reach a result very similar to those shown by our previous comparisons. According to the census of 1861, Upper Canada had 6,051,619 acres under cultivation, and Lower Canada 4,804,235 acres; together 10,855,854 acres. In the same year we find it stated that Nova Scotia had 1,027,793 acres under cultivation, and that in the same year New Brunswick had under tillage 835,108 acres, Prince Edwards Islands 300,000, and adding the figures for the Maritime Provinces, we get a total of 2,162,000 acres, against just about five times that extent of tilled land found in the Canadas.

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