Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

better cultivated; ten years ago the reverse was the case.

Numerous streams pour in their tribute, both from the north and the south: these and the waters of the lake abound in fish of excellent and varied flavour; the salmon and bass are the most highly prized, and are taken in great quantities. The fantastic mirage plays its freaks here, too: in the summer weather, when you are among the islands or near the shore, its illusions are as beautiful as strange. On the Canadian side, to the west of Kingstown, is a most singular arm of the lake, called the Bay of Quinte: for eighty miles it intrudes its zigzag course through the land, nearly returning again to the main waters. In many places it is but a mile broad, but everywhere deep and safe. On its shores the forests are rapidly giving way to thriving settlements, some of them in situations of very great beauty.

By far the greater number of emigrants from the British islands settle in these lake districts, but the twenty or thirty thousand a year who arrive are at once absorbed, and make but little apparent difference in the extent occupied; the insatiable wilderness still cries for more. The rate of wages for labour is very high—as is also the profit of the farmer. The English markets are open to any quantity of produce; the forges of Sheffield and the looms of Manchester supply payment, while twenty thousand of the best seamen in the world practise their calling and earn their living in bearing these interchanged goods over the Atlantic.

Alas! for the five months of the year in which nature has fixed her irrevocable decree against this happy intercourse! Woe to those ships which venture to trust too long to the treacherous mildness of the autumn! In 1845, all the vessels but one that were detained to the 28th of November—thirteen in number—went aground in one stormy night of bitter frost, between Quebec and the gulph of St. Lawrence. They remained jammed in among the ice, most of them crushed into wrecks, while the crews of several perished in awful tortures, in a vain effort to escape. Some of the survivors lost their limbs, from being frost-bitten, others are cast on the lonely islands, and for many a day their fate must remain unknown. Let those hope for them who can:—huge masses of ice float rapidly round their frozen prison with each changing tide, sometimes dashing against each other with a roar like thunder. These grim sentinels guard their wretched prisoners from all chance of human aid, till the warmth of summer, like a good angel, chases them away, and releases those iron men who may have survived the bitter trial.

CHAPTER XI.

TORONTO NIAGARA.

About midday we entered the harbour of Toronto: a natural mole of sand, some miles in extent, embraces its waters, and guards them from the turbulence of the great lake; this singular peninsula has some verdure, a few trees, and several houses, but is of a desolate and dreary character. The main land is quite different; there, rich fields, neat villas, shrubberies, and plantations, carry your thoughts at once to merry England. As you approach the town, this impression becomes stronger; when landed, it is complete. The streets, the shops, the people, are English, their accent and manners, and, best of all, their hearts, are English too. This place is the nucleus of all that is loyal and true in Upper Canada; and, as the men of Londonderry look back with honest pride upon their fathers' gallant defence against a despot, so may those of Toronto rejoice in their successful resistance to the still darker tyranny of an unbridled rabble.

The city is admirably situated, and very prosperous; it was not incorporated till 1834, yet it now contains more than twenty thousand inhabitants, their number having doubled itself in ten years. No town on the American continent has advanced more rapidly, and, perhaps, none so solidly. The houses are well built and lasting, the public buildings convenient, but not overgrown; commercial character and credit are high. Its prosperity is not the mushroom growth of staring, tottering, wooden cities, run up by designing swindlers, of foreign gold, but the result of honest industry and healthy progress. The back country is very rich and valuable as an agricultural district, while the produce finds a ready sale for the English market. The enterprizing inhabitants are planning various railroads from the neighbouring towns, whose prosperity keeps pace, and is identified with, their own. They do not hold out mendacious promises or enormous and impossible interest to the capitalist —but the people of Canada do not repudiate.

In 1793, Governor Simcoe caused this harbour to be surveyed, and founded the town, then called Little York: two Indian families were at that time in quiet possession, and myriads of wild fowl crowded the waters of the bay. In 1813, the Americans burned it; after the peace it was rebuilt, and the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »