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THE SASKATCHEWAN RIVER AT EDMONTON, LOOKING NORTH. IN THE RIVER MAY BE SEEN A GOLD DREDGE AT WORK. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT SINCE 1863 AT LEAST $3,000,000 HAVE
BEEN TAKEN FROM THE GOLDEN BED OF THE SASKATCHEWAN NEAR EDMONTON.
"Clover Bar," which still designates a strip of sand in the river bed twelve miles below Edmonton, where it is presumed the esteemed Mr. Clover first washed out his "colours." News of the find spread fast, and men flocked into the country from all the "busted" mining-camps of the West-from Idaho, Montano, Nevada, California, Oregon, and British Columbia. One of the first to arrive was James Gibbons, who travelled with three companions from the present site of Fort Steele, in the Kootenay, through the Kicking-Horse Pass to the head-waters of the Bow River. This stream they mistook for the North Saskatche
They found and buried four white men, who had been killed by Indians, and lived for a time on horse-flesh. Where Calgary
now is they found an Indian trail, which they followed. Near the Red Deer River they were set afoot by the Blackfeet, and when they later stumbled upon the "Rocky Mountain Fort" of the Hudson's Bay Company on the Upper Saskatchewan they had been for two days without food. They reached Edmonton finally late in the fall of 1864.
For several seasons Mr. Gibbons mined on the river, making as high as $20 and more in a day's panning. Then he settled down to farming in the Saskatchewan valley. Of recent years he has been engaged in business in Edmonton, and is at present Govern
Agent for the
life Mr. Gibbons is still an active and vig
Gold mining on the Saskatchewan has been followed with profit each summer since 1863, and while the cream of the precious deposits has, of course, long since been gathered, miners seem well content to wash along on skimmings of five dollars per day which, indeed, considering the infinitely reduced cost of living, is probably quite equal in purchasing power to the twenty dollars of thirty years ago, when sugar cost fifty cents a pound and flour six pounds sterling a hundredweight. A picture on another page page shows a miner at work last
summer with a Grizzly." A second illustration affords a view of the river, of a gold dredge at work, the piers of the new bridge, and a distant glimpse of the town. Mining with dredges. has not so far proved much of a success on account of the great difficulty of saving all the gold, which is "flake" and very light. This difficulty it is believed will in time be surmounted. At present there are three dredges on the river, one of which is said to have cost some $50,000.
It is estimated that at least $3,000,000 has been taken from the golden bed of the Saskatchewan near Edmonton since
lain with coal,
of belief, yet it is
practically true. Within a radius of fifty miles I have myself knowledge of the existence of twenty seams. Five of these are located in the face of the river-bank beneath the town. Coal is delivered anywhere in Edmonton at an average price of two dollars per ton. It is a lignite of first quality, and admirably suited to all domestic as well as to manufacturing uses. The supply is simply inexhaustible.
In the matter of natural resources, the Edmonton district has indeed been generously endowed.
Tracts of spruce, sufficient in extent
For some years boring for petroleum has been carried on along the Saskatchewan and Athabasca Rivers under the direction of Mr. W. A. Fraser, the Government engineer and well-known Canadian writer; and while the result of these experiments does not seem to be fully known here, it is the opinion of some of the old residents who have given attention to the subject that oil will be struck, and in places quite near to town, which have not yet been tested for it. Natural gas has been found both on the Saskatchewan and the Athabasca.
Of game there is no stint. A glance
at the "Moose in harness" affords incontrovertible evidence that the monarch of the Canadian woods is not yet merely a legend along the Saskatchewan. In addition to moose, there are elk, blacktail deer, bear, musk-ox and cariboo in the North, antelope in the South, and prairie chicken, partridge, hare, duck, geese, snipe and plover in season everywhere. The country may truly be called the sportsman's paradise.
THE BOUNTY OF NATURE.
But if Nature has dealt prodigally by the Saskatchewan on the lines already enumerated, what shall one say of the soil, the climate and the parklike beauty of its landscapes! These, surely, are her crowning gifts. Statistics concerning the yields of wheat, oats and barley in favorable seasons are such as would pass the belief of the sceptical, so I shall refer them respectfully to the Edmonton Board of Trade. Small fruits in infinite variety-including strawberries—are successfully cultivated. Many of these
flourish in a wild state. In summer the prairies are a bed of roses-and this is no idle figure of speech. Almost all vegetables grow to perfection. I have been told by old settlers that Edmonton has never known a complete failure of crops; that though frost or hail may occasionally work some damage, the farmers have always reaped what would be considered a fair harvest in the thickly-settled parts of the East. This land is a virgin land, and the fruits it bears are the perfect flower of its strong new blood.
Bees do well; and while this industry is yet in its infancy, a large quantity of honey is now annually marketed at Edmonton.
Stock-raising is extensively engaged in about Edmonton as in most other sections of the Northwest. Wild hay, the product of the native grasses, is anywhere to be had in abundance for the cutting. The manufacture of butter is an unfailing source of income to the farmer. Country-bred horses not in use paw their own living throughout the winter and keep fat, the dry, light snow seldom covering the nutritious sun-cured grasses more than a few inches.
THE CLIMATE AND THE SEASONS.
A word as to climate. It is true that the inters are often cold, sometimes long. But they are very dry, the sun is rarely hidden, the warm west wind-the Chinook-frequently blows; and that they are extremely healthful is established beyond dispute. Infectious diseases are almost unknown, the pure air is a balm to weak lungs, and this is essentially a country of vigorous old age. The winters may be said, roundly, to last from the 1st of December to the 1st of April, though there are occasionally earlier storms, and Winter sometimes lingers in the lap of Spring. Summer comes on rapidly, and the land glows with blossoms. The days are long; the sun is strong and bright, and vegetation seems almost tropical in the rankness and the rapidity of its growth. Probably there are no more splendid summers anywhere in the
world than upon the Saskatchewan. September changes all. The berries on the rose-bushes hang like drops of blood-all else is gold and deepest blue. The grass, the stubble, the leaves upon the aspens all are a golden yellow; and out of the cloudless sky the autumn sun floods all the land with yellow brilliance. Only the majestic Saskatchewan reflects the sky as it rolls between its high and wooded banks, and here and there a little lake whispers and dances in the mellow light. The land is then a land of enchantment.
SETTLEMENT AND POPULATION.
Some idea of the rapidity with which territory is being occupied in this region of the Northwest may be gained from the following list of settlements tributory to Edmonton, most of them established within the past ten years :-St. Albert, Sturgeon River, Morinville, Glengarry, Fort Saskatchewan, Clover Bar, Edna, Belmont, Horse Hill, Beaver Lake, Beaver Hills, Black Mud, Rabbit Hills, Victoria, Egg Lake and Stony Plains. The latter, it may be explained, does not derive its name from any obduracy of the soil, but from a band of Assiniboine or Stony Indians, upon whose reservation the lands of the settlers border.
It is estimated that the agricultural population of the Edmonton district now numbers at least 15,000 souls.
The principal towns along the line of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway are Wetaskiwin, Leduc, Lacombe, Red Deer, Olds and Innisfail. All are centres of flourishing settlements.
In the winter of 1883-4, when I first passed over the trail now traversed by this road, there were just four isolated shacks along its two hundred miles where one could get a meal or spread his blankets. Most of the nights we camped in the snow.
The Northwest is well supplied with
hospitals, and Edmonton is not behind other Western cities in this respect. The building is of brick-made in Edmonton-and was instituted and is managed by the Grey Sisters of the Roman Catholic Church. It is steamheated, lighted by electricity, and will accommodate two hundred patients of both sexes. The sick of all denominations are admitted, those not able to pay free of charge; and there are several handsomely-furnished private wards. A convent, costing $50,000, for the education of young children, adjoins the hospital, and a fine brick. church, in the Romanesque style, will be completed this summer. A second general hospital is projected.
One of Edmonton's most revered institutions is the Old Timers' Association, composed exclusively of men who reached the Territories prior to 1884 and are now residents of Edmonton. The annual ball of the association is the great social feature of the year. A miner's log cabin is erected on the stage at the end of the hall; shovels, gold pans and benches are scattered artistically before it, and the walls of the hall are draped with silver foxes, musk ox and other rare furs to the value of thousands of dollars. Mr. James Gibbons, to whom reference has already been made, was the first president of the Association.
Commercial men say that Edmonton is the best town for business between Winnipeg and the Rocky Mountains, and comparing its present with its past-the isolated fur-post of the 60's, a name on a map, surrounded by savages, with the fine modern town of today, its vast natural resources and unfailing home market-one is tempted to faith in the creed of its citizens which affirms that in ten years Edmonton will be one of the greatest and most prosperous of Canadian cities.
But lissen dat win', how she scream outside! mak' me t'ink of de loup garou,
W'y to-night, mon chien, I be feelin' glad if even de Carcajou Don't ketch hese'f on de trap I set to-day on de Lac Souris
Let heem wait till to-morrow, an' den if he lak, I geev' heem good chance, sapree!
I see beeg cloud w'en I'm out to-day, off on de Nor' Eas' sky
An' she block de road, so de cloud behin' don't get a chance passin' by,
An' I t'ink of boom on de grande riviere, w'en log's fillin' up de bay,
Wall! sam' as de boom on de spring-tam flood, dat cloud she was sweep away!
Dem log's very nice an' quiet, so long as de boom's all right,
But soon as de boom geev' way, l'enfant ! it's den is begin de fight! Dey ronne de rapide, an' jomp de rock, dey leap on de air an' dive,
Can hear dem roar from de reever shore, jus' lak dey was all alive!