Dining Saloon In The "Athabasca".
Coming Out Of The Locks, Sault Ste. Marie.
Port Coldwell, Lake Superior.
Red Sucker Point, Lake Superior.
Freed finally from the locks that border the Sault Ste. Marie, and having glided into Lake Superior, our steamer cuts its silvery furrow straight across the king of lakes, steered by the compass, as if starting on an ocean voyage. The task is not invariably easy, nor is the passage always smooth. Salt water mariners should not think that sailing on these land-locked seas is utterly exempt from clangers; nor should misguided passengers fancy that, because the Atlantic is so far away, they may not suffer here from mal de mer. Storms of terrific violence are specially liable to sweep the vast expanse of Lake Superior, where the long roll of the ocean is counterbalanced in effectiveness by shorter waves of great irregularity and tremendous impact. Material for waves is certainly at hand, not only in the lake's enormous area of thirty-one thousand square miles, but also in its startling profundity. For, although situated more than six hundred feet above the sea, its average depth is nine hundred feet, and its maximum one thousand. Portions of its gigantic basin are therefore four hundred feet below the level of the Atlantic ! Sombre and stern, as a rule, are the shores of Lake Superior. From the steamer's deck, in the voyage described, one cannot fully appreciate either their beauty or their grandeur; but closer study of their rugged outlines reveals to us in many places monster cliffs, the offsprings of the earliest geologic ages, towering sometimes fifteen hundred feet above the pale green water at their base. At other points, huge masses of basalt stand out as promontories, or rise in sea walls of columnar majesty, suggestive of the time when an uneasy globe expelled them from its fiery heart, and left them here to cool and crystallize. That these coasts were subjected formerly to violent volcanic action is evident from the immense amount of copper and other precious metals found in their vicinity, the variegated hues which stain the rocks, and the large number of cornelians, amethysts, and agates found on many a pebbled beach.
Jack Fish Bay, Lake Superior.
One igneous headland, rising thirteen hundred feet above the northern limit of the lake, bears the appropriate name of Thunder Cape, because of the fierce storms that often rage round its Titanic form. For the same reason, doubtless, the title "Thunder Bay" was given to the mountain-girdled sheet of water which adjoins it, and on whose western shore are situated, five miles distant from each other, the two important termini of transportation, Port Arthur and Fort William. It gives one an indelible impression of the marvelous extent of the Laurentian lake, canal, and river system, as well as of man's masterful control of it for inland navigation, to find here steamers, two hundred feet in length, which have come hither all the way from Montreal, a distance of nearly thirteen hundred miles. Yet here they float securely, loading or unloading at the docks, although in one direction the Atlantic Ocean at Belle Isle is two thousand three hundred miles away, while in the other, at a distance of about two hundred and fifty miles, is the central point of the North American continent.
Looking Out Of Mink Tunnel, Lake Superior.
Coal Dock, Fort William.
Thunder Cape, Near Port Arthur.
Fort William was in former times one of the most frequented stations of the Hudson's Bay Company - the general meetingplace of traders, hunters, and trappers, to settle prices, reckon profits, and make amends for long seclusion in the wilderness by unstinted revelry. Those were the days when the innumerable lakes and rivers of the northern wilds echoed the voices of the celebrated voyageurs, whose light canoes, noiseless, vermil-ion-hued, and graceful as Venetian gondolas, were then the only means of threading the mysterious labyrinth of forest streams which formed for centuries the only highways for both red and white men, and which to-day make Canada the most effectually watered country in the world. In treating of the great Dominion, therefore, no apology is needed for frequently alluding to these immemorial waterways. Unless one comprehends, indeed, Canadian hydrography, he cannot understand the record of the country's progress; for, not in the sense of poor Keats's epitaph, but advantageously and enduringly has Canada's history been "writ in water." But, though Fort William's wild, adventurous days are over, it still remains a place of prominence, having adapted itself successfully to the new conditions necessary in an age when grain has replaced fur as the predominant commodity, and when the railway car has superseded the canoe. Hence its depository for pelts, so precious in the old regime, when its contents sometimes reached a value of millions of dollars, is now used as an engine house; while, on the border of the bay, some of the largest storage elevators ever built rear their colossal forms. Up to their huge walls glide long, heavily loaded trains, from which an endless chain of buckets lifts the golden cereals to lofty granaries, where cleft machinery locates them for distribution, and finally discharges them through monster chutes into the holds of vessels waiting to receive them, often transferring from cars to steamers no less than thirty thousand bushels in an hour.