Elevators At Fort William. Capacity 2,5OO,000 Bushels.
West of the great lakes "Greater Canada" begins. "What does this title mean?" the traveler asks himself. "Can anything be greater than what I have already seen? Have I not been continually passing from one immensity to another ever since entering the Gulf of St. Lawrence? Surely by this time not only the comparative, but the superlative, degree has been attained." As yet, however, the half of Canada's growth and grandeur has not been revealed to him. Soon after leaving Lake Superior he finds himself upon the vast interior plain, which stretches northward for two thousand miles from the United States frontier, with a continuous, gradual descent until it meets and forms the margin of the Polar Sea. Part of this level area occupies the very centre of the continent; and its commercial capital, Winnipeg, lies very nearly at the halfway point between St. John's, Newfoundland, and the boundary of Alaska.
Kaministiqua River, Fort William.
Main Street, Winnipeg.
Winnipeg is another western wonder. In 1871 it had a population of one hundred. To-day its citizens number fifty thousand. A glittering belt of steel unites it with two equidistant oceans; and several other railways extend their parallel lines, like helping hands, far out upon the fertile prairie, to open up the country and assist the steadily increasing settlers. Yet, long before this startling transformation had occurred here, Nature had given Winnipeg a site suggestive of a "manifest destiny." Nor was man slow to recognize this; for, choosing it as one of the principal posts of the great fur-dealing company, he made it famous through the Northwest, for a century, as Fort Garry. We have already seen repeatedly that in the development of Canada the confluence of two navigable rivers is of necessity a point of great importance. Winnipeg occupies such a place. Beside it, the Assiniboine, having already run a course of about five hundred miles, unites with the renowned Red River of the north, which from its source in Minnesota flows directly-northward seven hundred miles, to pour its waters into the enormous basin of Lake Winnipeg. As long ago as 1812, Lord Selkirk thought it probable that this Red River valley would some day have a population of thirty millions. However this may be in the not distant age when North America shall have become vastly more populous than it is to-day, this section of the country has at present few equals as a food-producing area. Hence Winnipeg's expansion and prosperity in the future are assured beyond all question. In fact, it is already the chief distributing point for the entire territory between the Lake Superior region and the Rocky Mountains. The city itself is still in a transition state, marked by the usual characteristics of a city of phenomenal growth. Substantial structures, made of brick and stone, stand side by side with primitive wooden buildings, which will, however, surely be replaced by something better at no distant date. Unsightly telegraph poles of wood, as usual in American cities, tower above the streets, like lines of gallows, yet with much more excuse for their existence in such a new and hastily constructed town than in the older portions of the continent. Nevertheless, a city cannot, any more than an individual, be at the same time young and mature, or crude and cultivated. Founders of settlements have not time to think much of irregularities of sky lines, bad pavements, or architectural incongruities. Nor do promoters, as a rule, pay great attention to perspectives, or governments of youthful capitals limit the height of buildings in proportion to the breadth of streets. Esthetic notions may be taken into consideration by and by, when the first feverish rush for fortune shall have slackened ; but just at present most of the civic pride of Winnipeg, as of too many older cities, is chiefly centred in statistics of prodigious growth and swelling bank deposits. However, it is not Winnipeg itself that permanently interests the visitor so much as the amazing country that adjoins it. The Province of Manitoba, whose capital it is, forms part of the vast continental plain, already mentioned, and is a land of mighty lakes, whose size makes less impression than it otherwise would, because of the irresistible impulse to compare them with the neighboring inland seas, - Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior. Lake Winnipeg, for example, - the occasionally storm-swept and even dangerous receptacle of the waters of the Red River, the Saskatchewan, and many smaller tributaries, - is two hundred and sixty miles in length and sixty-five in breadth, and sends its overflow northeastward by the Bay. Lake Manitoba also, which gives its name to the Province, is one hundred and twenty-two miles long, while Lake Winnipegoosis is still larger. Nevertheless, of these vast sheets of water, beside which most of the Swiss and Italian lakes would seem like little garden ponds, the traveler commonly sees nothing, since the Canadian Pacific railroad passes somewhat to the south of them.