Waste of Public Lands.- More Colonization Settlements Wanted.
The following is a series of reflections which an experience of sixteen years in the service of new settlements enables me to make to the country, in the interest of, the important work of Colonization. I will not expatiate on the importance, advantages and lasting results of Agricultures, of which Colonization is the mother. Men chosen and delegated by the people, to administrate the affairs of the Province, cannot fail to see the prominent place the question of Colonization deserves to occupy. The Government of a country has the noble mission of organizing such schemes and encouraging such industries, so as to make the country and the people of the country happy, prosperous and useful. I venture to say that no Government can better meet the requirements of a new country, like ours, than by facilitating, encouraging and fostering the natives to settle and remain in the country. We, in this Province, pretend this is a promising country, and I am one of those who believes in the possible prosperity of New Brunswick. Our lumber trade has served the country to a large extent; our fisheries did much to support our people; but we have depended too much on those resources, which proved inadequate to keep our people at home and make our Province a sure and lasting home for our increasing population.
If Colonization and Agriculture, mother and daughter-had received from the Dominion and Provincial Governments due consideration and intelligent and active encouragement, this country of ours, this great Dominion, would not be depopulated, and our own Province would not be despised as an ungrateful and unproviding mother by her natural children, who are forced to seek a home in a foreign land.
Is there no remedy for the existing evil, for this deplorable state of things? Let our legislators allow their patriotism to govern their acts rather than their selfish and personal interests, and that of their petted friends, and the remedy will be easily found and applied. Let them turn their attention to the laborers, to the industrious workmen, to the colonist and agriculturist, and with sinews and bones equal, if not superior to those of any in the world, they will procure the remedy. They will say, “Give us the right and privilege to settle on the land discovered and sanctified by the toil, sweat and ashes of our fathers, and we will make of this Province a good and prosperous country.” Let not our natural inheritance be squandered and distributed among monopolists and capitalists for a temporary and inadequate compensation.
Any citizen who has the future of the country at heart, must feel alarmed at the increased ratio of our population emigrating to other countries. A great deal has been said and done by both Dominion and Provincial legislatures to draw the attention of foreigners to our shores. This policy may prove advantageous to the commonwealth in some respects; but to impose heavy taxes, stumpage and restrictive privileges on our people, and make no provisions for the native children of the soil, is unpatriotic and cruel.
I feel, and have long felt, that the natives are not receiving due attention, on the part of the authorities of the land. I hold that to keep our people at home to settle the country and develop its resources, is more national and patriotic than to encourage immigration. Is it not a fact that thousands of our young men are annually leaving the country to devote their energy and hard labor for the benefit of our neighbors? What is being done to prevent this public calamity? Is there a voice in the land which volunteers to cry the alarm? Is there a pen engaged in calling attention to this national plague? Is there a politician who, outside of his electoral harangues, will rise on the floor of our parliament to advocate the cause of Colonization, and thus become the champion of our country’s dearest claims? Is there a single word in the speeches from the throne at the opening of our legislatures in the interest of that National Policy which tends not only to protect home manufactures, but also the national blood, bones and sinews of our vigorous and courageous population? Is there any evidence of progress given in this respect in the returns of our Crown Land Department?
We see in the returns of the Crown Land Department that 424 grants were issued in 1885; 288 in 1886; and 302 in 1887. It must be remembered that this does not show the number of settlers who actually did apply and receive land during these respective years. These grants issued represent rather the number of applications made over three, four and five years ago, since and often much more time elapses before they can be obtained. It would be interesting to know what are the numbers of applications made for land during the past few years, and the number of applications entertained and granted. I have reason to believe that, were the facts known, the country would be justly amazed at the result.
How can we expect progress in that direction when we consider that the Blocks surveyed and reserved for settling purposes under the “Free Grant Act,” are for the most part all settled. At least it is the case in the northern part of the Province. Again, our Crown Lands are licensed indiscriminately for ten years to lumber operators, so that our settlements are circumscribed by tracts of land licensed to landlords, which prevents the extension of our settlements. In fact, it is practically impossible to get a lot of land to settle upon near or about new settlements; for no new blocks for settling purposes, were surveyed or reserved for Colonization purposes for the last ten years, that I know of. It might be said, “as one is prevented from applying for land even on licensed ground.” How can a man apply? How is he going to describe the lot he wishes to settle upon? The order of survey must be issued before the survey can be made and description given. It is absurd to imagine that under present regulations and practical indifferences the children of the country can obtain land to settle. He must be a squatter or be without land. Supposing he adopts this course, the licenses will molest him, the stampage collector will fleece him, and the Government, or rather the officers of the Crown, will get the spoils. The question is: “Is it to the interest of the country to be settled or not? Is it good policy to bind our Crown Lands without restrictions and make no reserves for new settlements?” This question deserves to be discussed fairly; but who will champion the cause? There is no money in it. True, it will be admitted, it is a grand, noble and patriotic work to settle the country. Those who have the courage to enter the forests for the purpose of chopping, clearing lands, are heroes; but no immediate revenue will flow directly or immediately from the industry; in that case, even if the country is left inhabited, and will fill the treasury whilst we keep the keys whereof, and let posterity provide for itself.
There is a pressing need of new surveys and new reserves throughout the Province. This fact is well known to our representatives. Why not a departure in that direction? Why not study the merits of the question and modify the present state of things? We ought to average, every year, at least 100 new settlers for every country in the Province; and I doubt whether, for the last four years, even that number settled in the Provinces each year.
“Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who to himself has never said
This is my own, my native land”