Page images

to something covered with slime it slips, and his career of usefulness is at an end. But if it sticks, he is all right. In the fitting out of beds we have to keep this in mind. If the bottom is mud we must pave it; we must keep him from sinking in the mud; and in order to provide suitable points of attachment we must have hard, smooth, clean substances free from slime. The best thing of all is the clean oyster shell,—the shells of dead oysters which have been piled on the shore, rainwashed and sun-dried. With these properly scattered over the paved bottom the safety of the crop is assured. The amount which an area can produce is very large. I have authority that I think justifies me in stating that one man this year, from an area a little over five acres, took a crop of eight hundred barrels which he sold at $8.50 a barrel. The Malpeque oyster commands a price double that which is paid for the American oysters. And if the standard is maintained, as we intend that it shall be maintained, I have no doubt that that advantage will continue. Our plan is that we should have a careful inspection made, a rigid inspection, and a stamping of every package containing oysters, so that when the purchaser buys an article with a certain stamp and grade, he shall know that he is getting precisely what that stamp says. (Applause) This industry promises well for the Province of Prince Edward Island, not only in the great general advantage that will come to our people in the employment which it will give and the profit which they will derive, but also in the revenue which we hope to receive as a Government from the rental derived from these leases.

Another industry, one of a different order, that has sprung up, in one sense, very rapidly and has made large fortunes for a number of people, is the black fox industry. I suppose you have all heard about that. Something over a quarter of a century ago, Mr. Charles Dalton, who is now a member of my Government, obtained a pair of wild black foxes which he kept in captivity and, after many experiments and many failures, he was able at last to understand their nature and habits sufficiently to raise them on a regular paying basis. He knew them well enough; he got to know them a great deal better than they knew themselves. He was able to save their litters of young, which they had formerly destroyed, and soon they multiplied. He sold the pelts for many years but sold no live foxes. A few years ago the system changed, and he and a number of others to whom he had sold some when the embargo was first broken, began to place the live foxes on the market. You could buy them first for $1,000 a piece, but the price went up year by year until at the present time I cannot tell you what it is. I could tell you what it was a fortnight ago, but I have very little idea what it is to-day. One Company that has been formed has taken over twenty pairs of foxes for $600,000, that is $30,000 a pair. And prices such as that are quoted every day. I may say that I am not one of the fortunate ones who is engaged in the industry, and I am tired of hearing the talk about it. Nevertheless it has made the fortunes of some men; it has made Mr. Dalton—and he deserves it well-a millionaire, and many others have fortunes that rise up pretty well to that point. Then the stock and incorporated companies owning numbers of foxes have spread far and wide among the people of the province, and there are a large number now interested and deriving profits. I do not know precisely what the number of breeding foxes on the Island is at present; I think we are safe in saying that there are about two hundred and fifty pairs, all good standard black and silver foxes; and a large number have been sold into the other Maritime Provinces. The estimate of value that was made by an expert before the Conservation Commission in Ottawa the other day was that there were six million dollars' worth of foxes in the Maritime Provinces, and something over four million of those were owned in Prince Edward Island. That is another of the industries which has been of some benefit in the past, and which we hope may be of future benefit to us; but I will say this, that it does not promise that continuance and permanence that the oyster fisheries do.

Now, gentlemen, I have taken up all my time and perhaps a little more. I very much appreciate the attention you have given and the opportunity I have had to present–ineffectively, I am afraid—the condition of affairs in Prince Edward Island, and in the Maritime Provinces generally. Let me say that there is there a spirit of optimism which I have never before seen, and that is the spirit which we are cultivating, because we have there resources and opportunities which have been neglected, partly for want of means, partly because our energies with our youth, were carried away to other parts of the world. This we hope to see all changed. It is changing now before our eyes and, if it is my good fortune in a few years' time to meet you gentlemen here again, I hope I shall be able to say to you that the decline in population from which we suffered has ceased, and that we are able not only to hold the natural increase of our own people, but we are in a position to draw from the old countries some assistance in the way of population in order to strengthen and increase our own population. (Applause)



An Address by MR. VILHJALMUR STEFANSSON, before the Empire Club of Canada, on February 6, 1913

Mr. President and Gentlemen,

Possibly you may have expected from me some narrative of my work in the north, but selfishly yet still with your interests in mind, I am not going to give you any narrative. I am going to present to you some of the resources of Canada, and make an appeal to you as public-spirited citizens of the Empire to try to protect and perpetuate those resources.

The then Geographer of Canada, Mr. White, published a map in 1906, Map No. 29 I think it is in the Atlas of Canada, on which you will find that Victoria Land is labelled in red as uninhabited by human beings. Mr. White is a man of wide and exact information-it is a misfortune for Canada that he is not now in the position in which he then was—but he could not put on the map any later information than he had at hand, and he was not himself an explorer and had not been in that part of the country. It is a matter of fact that that country is inhabited by about two thousand Eskimo. These Eskimo are a resource to the country because they are the only people who can ever make that country of any value so far as we can see, unless minerals are discovered there, which I hope may not be the case, for the sake of the Eskimo. (Laughter) These Eskimo hunt for a living with bows and arrows and spears and harpoons; they had not heard the report of a rifle or seen a sulphur match lighted until I came—at least those around Dolphin and Union Strait had not, and the ones from the Coppermine east to Grace Bay had not. There was one family who had come in contact with David Hanbury in 1903 or 1904, and there is also a group that traders from Hudson Bay are reaching now.

On account of their weapons and the peculiar conditions of their country, they live for three months of the year on caribou, which they shoot with bows and arrows, and for nine months they live on seals. The caribou are there in millions. In Banks Land the caribou never leave the island, stay there winter and summer; in Victoria Land they come in tens of thousands from the south in the spring, stay there and drop their fawns, and come back south in the fall to the mainland again. The Eskimo hunt them in the summer, kill only as many as they need, and hunt them at a season when the animals are fat and the skins are suitable for clothing. Now, the traders are beginning to come in; their rifles will soon replace the bows and arrows; and then the Eskimo will find that they can easily kill caribou at any time of year, so that instead of living on caribou for three months they will live on caribou for twelve months. This will quadruple the consumption of caribou.

Another feature is that the dog among the Eskimo to-day is not a draft animal primarily, he is a hunting animal; he is used by the Eskimo for the finding of seal holes under the snow. Consequently our hunter has only one dog; he hasn't any more because it is not convenient for him, under the present arrangement, to support any more. But the coming of the rifle will make it easy to support any number of dogs, and the Eskimo will develop large dog teams. The same thing happened in the Baillie Island District and the Mackenzie District a few years ago. In that District they had one dog to a family twelve years ago, and now they have fifteen to a family. Here is another thing that will increase the consumption of caribou. Instead of feeding one dog the Eskimo will be feeding twelve or fifteen. That will greatly increase the consumption.

In Alaska there is a great market for caribou skins among the miners and Eskimo. The caribou of Alaska have been destroyed by carelessness; no one took steps to save them, and they are now a thing of the past. If the Government takes no precautions, traders will come into our districts and buy caribou skins, and the Eskimo will begin with their modern rifles and hunt them for

« PreviousContinue »