The Canadian participation is one of the most beautiful and interesting, especially for an overpopulated country like ours.
The directors of the exhibition, Colonel William Hutchison, Commissioner-General, and Thomas Côté, Assistant Commissioner-General, and the officials assisting them, set out to show the inhabitants of Belgium the immense natural resources of Canada, and they have succeeded fully in doing so. By means of the products exhibited, the indications accompanying them and the suggestive tables which complete the whole, one can form an exact idea of Canada, one of the granaries of the world and one of the richest deposits of minerals in the universe.
A vast empire could be built on the part of the globe which Canada covers. It comprises the northern half of the entire continent of North America. Its area is 3,745,574 square miles, almost the size of the whole continent of Europe. In this immense territory could fit fourteen Austria-Hungary. It is eighteen times the size of Germany; eighteen times the size of France; forty-four times the size of Italy, and two hundred and thirty-four times the size of Switzerland. Canada is as large as the United States with the American dependencies of Hawaii and the Philippine Islands.
The number of people that Canada can support is so great that it is impossible to form an exact idea at present, and one must still remain in the realm of conjecture. It could house and support as many millions of people as there are in India or China. It is a country of vast plains, splendid forest areas, lofty mountains, majestic rivers, immense lakes, deep and safe havens and a healthy and invigorating climate.
From east to west, Canada is three thousand miles long; from south to north, fifteen hundred miles. It extends from the latitude of the Mediterranean in the south to the Arctic Ocean.
South of Canada is the United States. For a distance of almost three thousand miles, these two countries border each other. Canada is bounded on the west by the Pacific and Alaska, on the north by the Arctic Ocean and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean.
There are 7,600,000 Canadians. A census is taken every ten years in the country under the direction of the government. The last one was taken in March, 1901. It showed the population at that time to be 5,37 1,3 1 5. In the nine years since that count there has been a considerable increase. Immigration from Europe and the United States has been constant. There has been virtually no emigration from Canada to the United States, although in the past this movement of population was constant. Thus the Dominion has benefited from all the natural increase of the nine years.
Canada is a very new and at the same time very civilized country. The large, colourful, transparent photographs and interesting paintings which contribute so nicely to the decoration of the section present it in both these aspects.
On the one hand we see immense hotels of beautiful appearance, bridges, quays, prodigious works of art, immense ships serving the great lakes, lifts, brickworks, paper mills, enormous mine buildings; on the other hand, the vast fields, the large crops, those opulent orchards which are gaining every day on the ancient savagery, the exuberant forests, the grandiose landscapes of a strangely impressive character.
In the centre of the section are gathered the agricultural machines and the characteristic products of the region are set up as trophies. One of these trophies consists of anthracite, mica, asbestos and nickel. These four minerals are the pride of Canada. The production of nickel, in particular, is its prerogative; it supplies nine-tenths of what the whole world consumes.
But one must go around the section and stop in front of the big lodges which give such a complete idea of Canadian production. Panoramic views at the back of each one help to demonstrate its different types of activity.
In the first, the cultivation of grain is represented: the farm, the harvesting, the collection, all the work that is incumbent on the farmer until he brings his wheat to the elevator, where he is given a receipt for it, which he can negotiate as he pleases: for, from the elevator, where the grain of the region is stored, the transport and sale are no longer his concern. It is a matter for a special commercial organisation. The principle of the division of labour is still observed in America.
In the compartment are samples of all the varieties of grain grown, examples of how they are packaged and distributed in trade, types of all the products made from them: flours, beers, whisky, etc., etc., etc.
The second compartment shows one of the regions situated on the border of wild and cleared Canada, one of those where the energetic efforts of the pioneers are asserted. In the foreground, the crops are in full development. In the distance, the first plantings. In the background, the virgin land. And, fleeing from the human work, the crowd of animals that used to live there in the wild and that the plough is constantly pushing towards more distant reserves.
The next compartment shows the products and equipment of fishing, the excellent fish that abound in waters as fertile as the land.
Then come the woods for cabinet making and carpentry of all shades, from white to reddish brown, from yellow to brown and green: there are some, like maple, that we are surprised to see so little used, so little known in our country. The panorama represents a river flowing through a Canadian forest, inhabited by beavers: and a pond is built in which you will see living beavers, building their homes. If you read Mayne-Reid's novels as a child - oh, the Dwelling in the Desert - you will have retained a sympathetic curiosity about beavers that will find satisfaction (we do have beavers in our country, but they are not of the industrious species).
Beyond that, another forest panorama: conifers that are exploited for the production of paper pulp. Here you can also see how the pulpwood is felled, transported and processed. This section will be animated by live teddy bears, characters that are often found in the woods in question.
Here are the products of mining: coals, large blocks of mica, asbestos and the machine that crushes it into fibres, feldspar, shiny ores, arranged under a cavernous vault that will be illuminated by electric light. At the bottom, concentric circles symbolise... the North Pole! Because the North Pole, the Canadians claim, is neither Peary's nor Cook's: it is in Canada.
Here, countless building materials and mining products are lined up. The stones and marbles, rough, polished, cut, offer an extraordinary variety of grains and tints. There is a superb red porphyry. There is a heap of this silver ore which yields 2,500 francs a ton. There are gold nuggets from the Klon-dyke. There is, of course, nickel, asbestos, national mica... But I could not tell you all that there is: besides, a professor of the University of Montreal will come, during the greater part of the Exhibition, to settle here to supply all those who are interested in the matter, with all the desirable information on Canadian mineralogy.
Finally, concludes Mr. Ed. Cattier, from whom we borrow part of this description, in front of a panorama of Edenic orchards where apples are being picked, are preserved in jars the splendid assortment of Canadian fruits, apples, plums, cherries, grapes, peaches, apricots, enormous, bouncing, plethoric, bursting with juice, and as tasty, we are assured, as beautiful; and also the marmalades, jams, wines, fruit liqueurs; and the honey; and that sweet juice of the maple which the good Mayne-Reid, still, used to talk about in our youth.
The success of the Canadian participation has been growing, as evidenced by the elegant crowd that crowded the pavilion on July 1, the organizers having wanted to coincide the date of the official opening ceremony with that of the Canadian Confederation Day.
Messrs Hutchison and Coté, Commissioners-General, received the numerous guests.
There were all the notabilities of the Exhibition, many members of the diplomatic corps, as well as many ladies and young girls.
On behalf of Commissioner-General Hutchison as well as in his own name, Mr. Coté spoke in these terms:
"On behalf of Colonel Hutchison, on behalf of all the members of the Canadian Exhibition Commission, on behalf of Canada, I have the honour and pleasure of welcoming you into our midst this evening.
"As you entered this pavilion, you could read this inscription: "Welcome! "This word has been spoken since the beginning of the Exhibition and will continue to be spoken until the end of this great international congress, to all those who have honoured us and will honour us with a visit. But the welcome we extend to you this evening is, on our part, all the more cordial because you have come to celebrate with us the 43rd anniversary of the Canadian Confederation and the bank holidays of our great and beautiful country.
"On this occasion, the Canadian people naturally look back and look forward. In looking back, we are pleased to be able to draw comparisons between our country and Belgium - and to note that during the last four decades both peoples have developed in a marvellous way, under the aegis of their free institutions. We rejoice in the progress made by your country in the fields of industry, commerce, agriculture, the arts, finance and also in the colonial field.
"We applaud the prodigious development which the great and patriotic monarch whom you have just lost was able to promote in all branches of your national activity, and we bow with respect to the memory of his name.
"We also greet with emotion your new sovereigns, your King so justly popular, your Queen so attractive by her simplicity, her grace and her goodness. Only a few days of reign were enough for them to win the affection of the Belgian people in a masterly way. Your sovereigns have done more: they have succeeded, in a short time, in surrounding their royal foreheads with a bright and luminous halo, that is to say, with the spontaneous and respectful admiration of all the peoples of the earth. Like the Belgian nation, we are certain that the reign of His Majesty Albert I and Queen Elisabeth, inaugurated under such glorious auspices, will be happy and full of prosperity for Belgium.
"As for our country, noting the progress made since Confederation and especially during the last two decades, we look to the future with confidence. Thanks to the increase in our population and to the foreign capital which we know will be eager to take advantage of our advantages and resources, we shall be able, during this century, to bring out of our soil, our forests and our mountains, our oceans and our rivers, our lakes and our rivers, the immense riches which lie dormant there, and whose rational exploitation will contribute, not only to the prosperity of our country, but also to the well-being of all mankind, thanks to international exchanges. "
Mr. Coté addressed his thanks to the various personalities of the Government's General Commission and the Executive Committee, and especially to Minister Hubert.
Mr Coté concludes with these words:
"There is a word in the French language which wonderfully expresses the feelings that every man with a heart in its place has for those who do him good. It has only two syllables; we learn to stammer it in childhood and, as we grow up and come into contact with humanity, it escapes from our lips to those who are kind to us. Well, I address this word tonight to all of you, with the sincerity of our Canadian hearts: Thank you! Thank you again! Always thank you! "
To this speech, Mr. Hubert, Minister of Industry and Labour, replied on behalf of the government. He noted that the Canadian pavilion had the gift of attracting crowds to the Exhibition; he compared our country, whose population was the most dense of all the countries in the world, and Canada, so rich, and where a brilliant future could await those who would go to populate it. The Minister recalled the words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who said: "I love France which gave us life; I love England which gave us liberty, but I love Canada above all, which is my country and my soil. A people that feels this way," the Minister says, "is a people of the future and can be proud of itself; and Sir Wilfrid Laurier was right when he said, and I say it with him: "If the nineteenth century was the century of the United States, the twentieth century will be the century of Canada. "
Thanks to her activity," said Mr. Hubert in closing, "to her labour, to an enlightened government, Canada sees her highest destinies opening before her; tomorrow she will be a great nation. "
Then Mr. Maurice Lemonnier, replacing Mr. Janssen, who was indisposed, congratulated the Canadian Commissioners on their brilliant participation. He praised this beautiful country, which can still give well-being and wealth to those who will go to it. The honourable alderman of Brussels spoke very eloquently in praise of the Canadian Exhibition, which speaks not only to the eyes but also to the mind.
A very interesting concert-promenade ended this brilliant festival, definitively establishing the very great and legitimate success of the Canadian participation.
©Exposition Bruxelles 1910