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Quebec, August, 1800.
I Formerly observed to you, that Quebec seems admirably situated to become the capital of an empire. Allow me to mention the circumstances which induce me to think so.
The uninterrupted navigable part of the St. Lawrence is of great extent,— near five hundred miles, which is the distance between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Montreal, where, are found vessels of from 3 to 400 tons burden. In its course it receives a number of fine rivers, which open a communication with the country on both sides. The lake Champlain, 120 miles in length, communicates with the St. Lawrence by means of the river Sorel (or Chambly, as it is sometimes called), and is the natural channel for the produce of the fine country surrounding this lake.
Although the ship navigation ends at Montreal, another species of navigation commences, suitable to the waters to be navigated, and to the commodities to be transported. Bateaux, and canoes, convey to Upper Canada, and the country round the lakes, and to the north-west territories, the European commodities they want; and with the aid of scows*, floats, and rafts, carry down to Montreal and Quebec the, surplus produce of these immense regions, as yet of trifling amount 'tis true, compared with the commerce of Europe; but when one reflects on the variety of climate, of soil, and of productions, which these extensive countries display; and the facility given to the transportation of goods by means of so many fine rivers and large lakes; one cannot help concluding that it is destined at some future period to be the most commercial country on earth.
The river St. Lawrence must ever be the grand outlet to the ocean for the productions of all that tract of country between the United States and Hudson's bay, including the lakes Erie, Ontario, Michigan, and lake Superior^; and there can be no doubt that Quebec is the key of the river St. Lawrence.
* These, described in another place. . • ,
f Although the lakes are not immediately connected
When we consider the many millions of
with the Atlantic by any other river than the St. Lawrence, yet there are several rivers that fall into the Atlantic, which rise so near the sources of others that run into the lakes, and each navigable for boats so near their sources, that by means of them, and of a very short land carriage, trade may be carried on between the Atlantic, and the lakes. There are three channels for this trade which particularly demand attention; the first by the Mississippi and Ohio, and thence up the Wabash, Miami, and Muskingum, from the heads of which there are portages of from 1 to 15 miles, to the rivers which fall into the Lake Erie: secondly, along the Patowmack river (which flows past Washington City), and from thence into the Cayahoga, Bigbeaver, and Yahogany, to Presque Isle, on Lake Erie: thirdly, along Hudson's River (which falls into the Atlantic at New York), and the Mohawk River, Wood Creek, Lake Oneida, and Oswego River, which falls into Lake Ontario. In the course of time there will be a competition amongst the settlers on these different routs, which shall have most of the trade of the Western territory, but they must all yield to the St. Lawrence, which commands a decided preference, because the distance to a port where vessels from the ocean can load, is shorter than by any of the other routs, and the portages are not so long; and besides, during the summer months, the rivers in the United States have so little water near their sources, that the length of the portages must be greatly increased. In the St. Lawrence they are always the same. It
acres which communicate with this river and surround the lakes, where, at present you have only the stately pine, the hardy oak, and many other tenants of the forest; and where in course of time will be seen the golden harvest, the lowing herd, the bleating flock, and the sons and daughters of industry and innocence;—the heart expands with secret pleasure, and tastes in anticipation, the happiness in reserve for posterity.
Man in civilized society is naturally a commercial animal; he is seldom satisfied with what he possesses; he must be changing one thing for another; he is prompted to it by his wants, and when he can find in any one place such things as he may desire to have, thither he resorts. This formerly gave birth to fairs; and it has made some cities perpetual fairs. It has made London the first city in the world; and it will continue Quebec as the first city in the Canadas; perhaps it may become the first
It is worthy of notice that a person may go from Quebec to New Orleans, at the mouth of the Mississippi, by water the whole way, except about the space of one mile from the source of the Ilinois river, to the source of. ? river which falls into Lake Michigan.