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ations. One cannot help regretting this apparent waste of timber; but tfye fact is, there is y^t as much timber to be found in situations from which it can be easily transported to the river, as the market requires; besides, the greater part of the timber we see burning is of an inferior quality, and would not be worth the expence of transportation.
When the underwood is thick, which is generally the case where the trees are of an inferior size and quality, the blaze of the burning forest is awful. It continues to burn for weeks together, and you see here and there, amongst the half consumed ordinary sized trees, the trunks of very large trees, scorched black to the very top. The fire lays waste every thing before it for many miles beyond what those who first kindled it, intended, or could cultivate; and you see a new forest grown up in many places, while the old charred 'trunks of lofty trees still remain nearly the same as when first burnt; for it is the quality of charcoal to preserve what it surrounds from corruption.
A few huts appear here and there on the
shore. Their mutual wants and mutual defence induce the settlers to draw near each other. We have here the very rudiments of civil society. The inhabitants of these huts are Canadians; they have few wants which their own industry and ingenuity cannot supply; they are their own architects, carpenters, shoemakers, and taylors; and except for their hatchets, and a few simple tools, they are very little dependant on foreign assistance.
We have received a visit from some Indians; they came off to us in a birch canoe, on purpose to dispose of some fish they had caught. We took them on board, and as they were the first Indians I had ever seen, they excited my curiosity not a little. Poor, miserable looking creatures they certainly were; feeble and diminutive in form, they gave us a very disadvantageous idea of their countrymen. It is hardly fair, however, to judge of a people from the appearance of a few fishermen; at the same time, we ought to recollect that the Indians are all fishermen and hunters, and that therefore those we saw are more likely to be a fair sample of the whole tribe, than the fishermen or hunters of a nation which employs the great majority of its people in the arts of civil society, are to be considered as a sample of the people of such nation.
We received from them all their fish; they would not take money in return, but seemed highly pleased when we gave them in exchange, a bottle of brandy, and some salted pork. They got into their feeble bark, and paddled off, singing for joy.— Limited, indeed, are the wants of these poor creatures, when such a trifling circumstance could gladden their hearts.
As we proceeded farther up the river, the country assumed a more favourable aspect; the number of habitations increased, and we began to observe marks of cultivation. We passed the Island of Bique, where vessels bound for Quebec and Montreal usually take pilots; for the navigation of the river now becomes more intricate, from the number of islands, banks, and shoals, which abound. At Bique there is good anchorage; and the frigates which come to convoy the Canada ships home, do not in general go higher: it is the usual place of rendezvous. The vessels from Quebec proceed down to Bique to receive their sailing instructions. It is distant from Quebec about 150 miles, and from Montreal near 350.
After passing Bique, several beautiful islands make their appearance; Green Island, Hare Island, the islands of Kaumouraska, and a variety of others, all covered with wood. Some of them are inhabited, and in a state of cultivation ; no more wood being left than is necessary for fuel and other domestic purposes. This, in the course of time, will be the case with almost all of them, as the soil of many is very good.
The magnitude of the river now strikes one very forcibly, for though it is about twenty miles broad, I found, on tasting some of the water at half ebb tide, that it was perfectly fresh. I really do believe that there is more fresh water thrown into the ocean from this rive r,than from all the rivers in Europe put together. I have seen many of the largest of them. A dozen Danubes, Rhines, Rhones, Taguses, and Thameses, would be nothing to twenty miles of fresh water in breadth, from ten to forty fathoms in depth.
The mountains on both sides are very high, and often terminate in capes or bold headlands, which have a very fine effect. In general, I perceive that there is, on both sides of the river, a tract of land comparatively level, between high-water mark and the first range of mountains, particularly on the south side; and we see parish churches, villages, and a general appearance of cultivation. Yet still the strip of cultivated ground, viewed from the river, is so small, compared with the high woodcovered mountains in the back ground of the picture, that it is scarcely enough to take off the appearance of complete savage wildness. The sombre hue of the pine forest is a strong contrast to the lively verdure of the corn-fields. I perceive that the spring is very late in this part of the country: in many places the rising grain is not sufficiently advanced to cover the ground, and the forest trees are not yet in leaf. Vegetation, in general, is very little advanced, although we are now at the end of May.