Colonization and Agriculture
MR. EDITOR:—Your Correspondent. "New Brunswicker," is wisely calling public attention to Colonization and Agriculture. Is it not time our Legislature was directing its attention to increasing the material wealth of our country by encouraging the young men of the Province and others to settle upon our Crown Land and make farms, where now the wolves and bears are the only inhabitants, of these millions of acres?
Surely this would be better than by obtaining all the money that can be got, by borrowing and otherwise, and expanding it in non paying local railroads and other non-producing schemes which must toll fearfully up on our finances at no distant day. The Province will have nothing to show for an enormous debt but a number of prematurely built local railroads—pensioners on the public treasury. Pensioners, I say, some of them must be, or go entirely out of existence. Railroads might be mentioned that cost each to the public treasury one hundred thousand dollars, that are not paying running expenses, and others costing large amounts are in the same plight.
If a few hundred thousand dollars of this money had been expended upon common roads and bridges through the Crown Lands of the Province and for the encouragement of settlers, the Provincial ledger would show a very different balance sheet from what it does now.
But this leaving the Crown Lands without the necessary main roads and conveniences for settlement, is not the only evil of these large grants to local railroads. Government is robbing the land of all the merchantable timber and logs. Men settling on new farms are generally poor, and are driven to every expedient to pay for their grants and to support their families. To find their lands stripped of every thing that will give immediate returns is ruinous. Their winters which should have been devoted to getting timber and logs, are lost to them. With only the soil left, they have no means of getting money till after some years.
With this unjust treatment, is it remarkable that immigrants pass on to the West and the United States and that our own young farmers leave the Province?
I submit, this using up the labor of the country for non-paying local railroads is ruinous to the old farming districts that require the labor for productive purposes; ruinous to the morals and best interests of the laboring classes who had better be encouraged in farming and quiet pursuits, and the making of farms for themselves; ruinous to the growth of material wealth of the Province; ruinous to Government finance, burdensome to tax payers, and of very doubtful benefit to localities that have not population and carrying business to pay running expenses.
Of course railroads connecting the different Provinces, such as the Intercolonial, and N. B. and P. E. Island and some others are imperative, and must be kept up whether they pay expenses or not, but these local roads that are sucking the life blood from the province, that are laying heavy taxes on the manufacturers, merchants and farmers, and giving no return should no longer be tolerated by legislators and men of influence. The extravagant amount of money that has been going on one way and another for some years in New Brunswick and not resented by the people is alarming, and now, to cap the climax. Mr. Blair ban succeeded in carrying through the House of Assembly a grant of twenty-five thousand dollars for public offices at Fredericton. It is not long since one hundred and fifty thousand was expended in Fredericton for a hall for the meeting of our little Local Legislature. What will be the next move of the Local Legislature to exalt the little town of Fredericton, and to humbug the people with the belief that the Local Legislature is a blessing they must continue to pray for?
The time methinks is not far distant when the people will see through this play at legislation in the Maritime Provinces and conclude to make one legislature do for all. In the mean time they are "paying too dear for their whistles."
If we had employed the laboring classes at roads and bridges through the forests as liberally as we have for superfluous railroads in the past, we would have a class of men educated for a new settlement. They would have become familiar with the woods; would have seen the chances for new farms for themselves and families. Hundreds would now be clearing new farms where none are to be found. The workers employed on roads, &c, through the woods would have been removed from the temptation of railway work and many of them would have found money for their grants which has been worse than wasted in grog shops. Such a policy would have produced incalculable wealth to the Provinces and checked materially emigration to the States. Instead of this our Local Government has been and is recklessly increasing our debts with no eye to the replenishing the provincial cheat, nor is it holding out any inducements for settlers to commence the work of converting our vast forests into farms, orchards and gardens—the real wealth of a country.