Chaudiere Falls, Ottawa.
Interior Of A Sawmill.
Of course there is another side to this prodigious enterprise, which, when one has retired from its tumult, reconciles one to its tireless energy. Thus Canada's forest products during the last ten years have had an annual value of more than twenty million dollars. Nearly one half of the lumber thus exported goes to Great Britain, the second largest purchaser being the United States; while from the Pacific coast extensive shipments are conveyed to South America, China, and Japan. Almost as great an amount as that delivered to foreigners is used in Canada itself; for wood forms throughout the whole Dominion the chief material for constructing houses, schools, churches, bridges, fences, railroad ties, and sidewalks, as well as the pavements of many streets, and outside of the principal cities is the only fuel of the people.
How long can such a drain upon Canadian timber last without denuding the Dominion of its noble heritage? When the first white man set his foot upon Canadian soil, a dense and shadowy for-est, sublime in its unbroken continuity, and haunted by the solitude and mystery of unnumbered ages, rolled its billowy tree-tops, like a dark green ocean, from the Atlantic half across the continent. Vast sections of this woodland still remain intact; but such alarming inroads have been made upon its primitive area that, at the present rate of cutting, Nature is unable to repair her losses. One or two centuries are required to produce some of the monarchs of this forest, but man considers it a great achievement to saw a dozen of them into planks in as many minutes. Accordingly, many of the best authorities declare that, unless some restrictions are enforced, the lumber industry of Canada will be exhausted in the next half century. Unfortunately, also, to the drain of intentional devastation must be added the accidental losses caused by forest fires.
Hauling In The Forest.
An Ottawa River Lumber Raft.
There is a certain insolence in the way that man proceeds to ravage ruthlessly the planet, on a limited portion of whose surface he temporarily exists. "Why not?" he cries disdainfully, "the earth is mine." Yes, it is his, as is the bee's the flower on which it pauses for a moment to extract its honey. Even the short perspective of an individual life reveals man at its close absorbed by the same ground on which he lately walked so jauntily, boasting that he possessed it. A few brief months or years, and Earth has pulverized his bones, and from them sent aloft again, to ripen in the sun, the vegetation he destroyed. As for the race, the planet calmly bides its time to roll on, once more uninhabited, through a future, longer perhaps than all the eons that preceded man's arrival here, and in comparison with which his stay upon this little orb shall be as the duration of a single flutter of an insect's wings in the warm splendor of a summer noon.
Timber Booms, Ottawa River.
Canada has the right to claim a larger share in the possession of Niagara Falls than the United States, since it is over the Canadian, or Horseshoe, Fall that four fifths of the descending water sweeps; while the mysterious Whirlpool, constantly uplifting its white hands, as if in supplication for deliverance from its torturing vortex, lies also on the side of the Dominion.
General View, From Canada.
Yet, in reality, how futile are all claims of states or individuals to hold proprietary rights in the stupendous cataract! Two nations own, indeed, the shores that frame it, and have embellished them with lovely vantage points of view; but the majestic mass that rolls between them moves obedient only to the universal law which guides the planet's progress and the feather's fall. Man could no more reverse its course than he could change the movement of the solar system. Heedless alike of savage and of civilized spectators, Niagara is as independent of man's ownership as when it fell in solitary grandeur thousands of years before a human eye was turned toward it in wonder, or human ear responded to its ceaseless monody.