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The Future of the North-West

Manitoba Pageant, Spring 1965, Volume 10, Number 3

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

Please direct inquiries to webmaster@mhs.mb.ca.

An excerpt from The Nor'Wester, 20 June 1868:

The continued and most tantalizing delays connected with the much talked of and needed opening of the Great North West of British America, may be almost supposed sufficient to deter any one from hazarding a conjecture in reference to the future. Prospects have been once and over again so very encouraging that there seems little doubt that a comparatively short time would see the tide of British emigration setting strongly in that direction. But again and again these prospects have been overclouded and sanguine hopes doomed to disappointment. The "last great monopoly" has shown what money and influential friends can do in thwarting the most patriotic efforts and in retarding the development of the resources of a district of country, sufficiently extensive to form an Empire. Official persons like the Duke of Buckingham are evidently as plastic under the hands of manipulators as clay in the hands of the potter; and in the presence of such disheartening folly as, according to present rumors, is about to be perpetrated in the name of a settlement, one scarcely knows what to think. One thing at any rate is sure, though the end desired may be delayed through incompetency or dishonesty, it will come. The Great North-West has a great future before it; and a future we are bold to add, in connection with Britain and with Canada, though stupidity and ignorance, not seldom exhibited by the Colonial Office, we are bound to acknowledge, have often been trying, and are noticeably so at the present time and in that present case. The discouragement will be but temporary, and it maketh us "bate not one jot of heart or hope". It has been somewhat uphill work to get people to take an interest in that immense territory, or to seek in any good measure to understand its mighty capabilities. But this work has to a good extent been accomplished. A large number of the most thoughtful and intelligent people of the Dominion are now fully alive to the importance of the country to the future of Canada, and they will not allow their convictions to lie inoperative. They are indoctrinating others with their ideas, and others not simply in this country, but also in Britain. Many in the old country who but a short time ago thought little of Canada, except as some place away across the ocean are beginning to understand the true state of things both here and farther west. Circumstances of one kind and another have of late years brought our country more to notice on the other side of the Atlantic, and the more this is the case so much the better for us, and shall we add so much the better for Britain likewise. With Canada there has also in Britain come of late to be bound up this business of the Hudson Bay Territory; and struggle as the monopolists may, with the influences on both sides of the Atlantic bearing always more and more strongly against them, they will struggle to retain their hold on the country even in a modified form, we believe, in vain.

Photo: Andrew McDermot Store, Red River Settlement, 1858
Source: Hime Photo, Archives of Manitoba

Among other very encouraging features in the present state and prospects of our North-West, is the increasing interest taken in it by different religious denominations, both here and at home. That interest is certainly not a thing of yesterday, and has done not a little to turn the attention of many friends of Missions in that direction, and made them feel more strongly than otherwise they would have done the absurdity of keeping the country a wilderness for the benefit of a trading Fur Company. But while Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, &c., have long had missions to those regions, instead of these relaxing their efforts, we are pleased to think of them extending their operations, and others, also going into the work with heart and soul. Christian missionaries are the true pioneers of civilization, in many cases the best and most reliable of travellers, and, in countries like that of which we speak, are the best preparers for and helpers towards a satisfactory settlement of the land. In this view of the case, not forgetting others, we rejoice at the dispatch of every band of missionaries to the Hudson's Bay territories and the regions beyond. The time has gone past when there was any need for defending such expeditions as if it were absurd and unnatural to send preachers to other countries so long as there was so much ignorance and vice in our own. Those who offend in that way do so in common with the apostles, who certainly did not stay in Jerusalem till all the ignorance and wickedness were driven out of it, and they can well afford to be blamed in such company. The efforts made by different denominations for the good of the various tribes of Indians, as are worthy of all commendation. They have been successful, and they will be increasingly so. These men who have lately been sent from Canada by the Wesleyan Missionary Society are, from all accounts, eminently fitted for the place. They are active, energetic, intelligent, full of resource, and what is by no means to be overlooked thoroughly devoted to British interests. Their presence and influence will all tend towards the continuance of British authority, and at the same time to the extension into these regions of British institutions. We have no idea that they will become in any measure mere dabblers in politics, but they will with ever increasing fulness give the outside world to know reliably what the country really is - will through their work interest an ever increasing number in everything connected with it, and by their presence will attract more settlers towards it as their home, and in doing this they will do all that is needed.

Page revised: 18 July 2009

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