Post Office, Winnipeg.
The Last Of Fort Garry.
City Hall And Volunteer Monument, Winnipeg.
Nelson River for a distance of three hundred and sixty miles to that great arm of the ocean known as Hudson's
But what he does soon gaze upon with mingled awe and admiration are the gigantic prairies, upon whose seemingly illimitable surfaces he glides along, as if his train were a swift steamer furrowing a shoreless sea. Some of these prairies are as truly solitudes of nature as the ocean and the desert. In portions of them settlements, farms, and even "bluffs" of trees are no more frequently encountered than are ships at sea or caravans on the sands of the Sahara. How empty seems this vast and absolutely level circle, whose distant rim the sky meets everywhere, like the close-fitting base of a huge turquoise dome! Its azure walls enclose us; yet, wheresoe'er we turn, recede as we advance. One feels its solitude, even when on the train ; but how much more, when, having left the metaled track, one rides away, companion less, upon the boundless plain! I have watched many sunsets on the ocean, and not a few upon the Libyan Desert, during a winter on the Nile; yet, in beholding our great luminary sink below the edge of these Canadian prairies, I experienced with equal force the feelings of sublimity, mystery, and isolation that were mine at similar moments in Egypt and on many a sea. If we are less impressed, on seeing the sun descend behind an intervening mountain, it is because we know it has not actually left us, and because unobstructed lateral space is more suggestive of great distances. But when the area between us and the horizon is entirely clear, and we can watch the glowing orb until it drops from sight, as if pushed off the planet into an abyss, then we can comprehend the dread inspired by such scenes in the unscientific worshipers of old, who, with no knowledge of the earth's rotation or rotundity, queried with bated breath whether they had not parted from their god of life and light forever.
On The Prairie.
Steam Threshing On The Plains.
Even when no human habitations are discernible upon it, the prairie is, however, less solitary than either the ocean or the desert. The heaving and immeasurable surface of the open sea looks usually devoid of life, and we know well that were we left there to our fate, we should inevitably perish. So, too, the desert's shadeless sweep of sand suggests appalling desolation, and the bleached bones of men and beasts, which here and there relieve its tawny monochrome, attest the dangers of its exploration. But on the broad, smooth table of the prairies, Nature, with but the least encouragement from ma n, spreads for him every year a bounteous feast, and decorates the festal board for months with varying bloom. The vast expanses, which in winter have been covered with the pure white napery of the frost, become with the first breath of spring exuberant with vegetation: first, green with tender grass; next, as the summer dawns, embroidered lavishly with leagues of wild-flowers ; then, as the heat increases, transformed into a billowy sea of yellow grain, whose long waves roll before the breeze, mile after mile, and hour after hour, beyond the farthest vision of the astonished traveler; finally, in the autumn, under the Indian summer's mellow haze, and weeks before they sleep in winter's winding sheet, a measureless extent of yellow, self-cured hay or stubble gives to them a sheen of sumptuous splendor, and decks them with a cloth of gold.
A Sulky Flow.
Prairie Wheat Stacks.
First House On A Prosperous Farm, Millbrook, Near Winnipeg.
Yet, strange to say, this wonderfully prolific area, dotted with prosperous homes, and capable of supporting millions of inhabitants, was, until recently, believed by many to be a region of perpetual snow and frightful cold. It was, in fact, so represented to the outside world for years by those whose interest it was to shut out from it all except themselves, and to preserve it as an inviolable hunting-ground for furs. Its climate is, however, less severe than many places farther south and nearer to the Atlantic coast. Every one knows how much more penetrating and insupportable is the damp cold of the seaboard, even with a higher mercury, than the dry cold of the Northwest, where during most of the winter one sees merely bright, exhilarating days. Not only is the snow on the Canadian prairies rarely more than two feet deep, but, since there are no rains or thaws to make it solid, it lies beneath the feet as light and dry as glistening sand. To make a snowball of it is practically impossible. This light and unpacked covering of the fields usually disappears in the first week of April, contemporaneously with the opening of river navigation, and a fortnight later wild anemones are in bloom. Hence, spring comes earlier in Manitoba than in Montreal, although the latter is nearly two hundred and eighty miles farther south. Even agriculture is begun here long before the plow turns its first furrow in the eastern provinces. As soon as the ground is thawed to a depth of six inches grain is sown, and as the frost works upward from the lower soil, under the invitation of the cloudless sun, abundant moisture is provided for the tender roots.