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History of Saskatchewan and The Old North West
Chapter XXXV - Mackintosh's Administration: Social and Industrial Development


Period of Depression Continues—Improvement in 1895 and 1896— Territorial Exhibition—Educational Development.

In the corresponding chapter dealing with the periods covered by Royal's administration, we noted the signs of the dawn of an era of greater prosperity and more rapid development throughout the Territories, but the end of the long period of depression had not yet arrived. Indeed, in 1894. as a result of crop failures, owing to draught, especially in the i\loose Jaw. Regina and Ou'Appelle districts, a very large number of settlers were reduced to such destitution as to require Government aid.

O11 August 21st, the Assembly passed a resolution that Mr. Speaker Ross and a member of the Executive Committee to be named by that Committee1 be a deputation to proceed forthwith to the East to bring the matter forcibly to the attention of the Minister of the Interior. On the 31st the delegation reported having gone immediately to Winnipeg, and having there interviewed the Honourable Mr. Daly. That gentleman promised to urge upon his Government the necessity of supplying the money to meet the difficulty promptly, and agreed that it should be dealt with through the Executive of the North West. In consequence of these steps. Mr. Haultain was enabled to alleviate the conditions of those most in need by employing them upon the road work and other useful public labor.

In the following year there was a noticeable improvement in agricultural circles. Live stock was in demand at very fair prices, the sale of cattle being fully one-third greater than in the preceding year. There was also a promising increase in the amount of products of mixed farming marketed, and the general harvest was much more bountiful than it had often been in recent years. Indeed, the wheat crop was nearly double that of the preceding year, and the harvest of barley and oats was equally plenteous. Damage was done by frost in some portions of Northern Alberta, but it was not general. The records of this period are consequently marked by a distinctly increased feeling of hopefulness and contentment in most quarters. Nevertheless the hard times were not over. In 1895 the best grade of wheat in the Regina district sold for from thirty-five to forty cents a bushel and we read in the reports of Superintendent Perry, N. W. M. P., that "some districts which were once well settled are now deserted, and in others there are only two or three settlers left."

However, in 1896 the farmers' returns were better in almost all parts of the Territories. Cheese and dairy associations became numerous, and, under the auspices of Professor Robertson, the Dominion Agriculture and Dairy Commissioner, Government creameries were established at Moose Jaw, Indian Head, Prince Albert and Regina. The question of irrigation had at last been seriously taken in hand with very promising results. The condition of the people continued steadily to improve throughout the balance of Lieutenant-Governor Mackintosh's administration. Even horse ranching, which for a long time had been depressed, again revived and indeed showed gratifying progress.

Despite legislative measures adopted by the Territorial Assembly there appeared to be no diminution in the number and area of prairie fires until 1896. By that date it was at last realized that a principal source of disaster of this character was sparks from locomotives, and the railway companies vigorously undertook the ploughing of fire guards along their right-of-way. This had an excellent result.

The most important event falling within the scope of this chapter was the Territorial Exhibition of 1895. This undertaking was due to the initiative of the Lieutenant-Governor himself. He had urged its desirability from the moment of his arrival, and as a result of his representations-, vigorously supported by the Territorial Legislature, the Parliament of Canada voted for this purpose the sum of $25,000. It was considered advisable that this initial object lesson on the resources of the North West should take place at the capital, provided a suitable site could be procured. Accordingly, the little town of Regina voted $10,000 towards erecting suitable buildings, while the townsite trustees, representing the Canada and North West Land Company, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Dominion Government, agreed to give a site whereon to erect the necessary structures; the result being that a well located and commodious plot of ground, a little west of the Territorial Assembly building, north of the railway track and immediately upon the main trail, comprising fifty acres, was secured. Great satisfaction was expressed when His Excellency Lord Aberdeen, the Governor-General, consented to open the proceedings, and many leading public men, both from Canada and the United States, promised to be present.

The Territorial Exhibition was not unmarked by mismanagement in some respects, and the newspapers of the day give evidence of abundant heartburning and bickering, but there is no doubt regarding its general success and the valuable results attending it, and for these Mr. Mackintosh deserves the permanent gratitude of the West.

The exhibition proved the vast resources of the Territories, the vigor and industry of their farming population, and their ability to compete with the world in all things appertaining to intelligent husbandry.

The entries in the various classes were double the number anticipated, and each of the districts manifested patriotic interest in the enterprise. The stock parade was admittedly the finest ever held in any part of the Dominion, and this was emphasized by the fact that most of the herds of cattle were disposed of at good prices to prominent buyers. His Excellency, the Governor-General, after opening the Exhibition, remained for three days, the result being a written expression of his opinion, addressed to Lieutenant-Governor Mackintosh. From this letter I make the following extract:

"It would be difficult to overestimate the advantages, direct and indirect, which may accrue from the successful carrying out of such a display of the capabilities of the vast districts which have been represented at the Exhibition, and from the incentive and encouragement that is thus offered to all who are interested in their development. Your Honour and your friends will always have the satisfaction of feeling that you, and those who have assisted you in this work, have given a definite impulse to the increased recognition by the inhabitants of the Territories of the important fact that they are not, as it were, scattered units, but that they are bound together by common interests and aims, with all the great possibilities which may be attained by judicious cooperation and combined action."

The presence on this occasion of Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Premier of the Dominion, was greatly appreciated.

The Committee had arranged to accommodate entries for between three thousand and four thousand exhibits, but ten days before the Exhibition opened it became apparent that almost double the building capacity would be requisite. Removed from any large business centre where it would have been possible to engage numerous extra employees and workmen, generally, it was deemed advisable to assume the responsibility of meeting the emergency as best the local authorities could; hence, builders and mechanics worked overtime; fast freight was arranged to convey tents and other necessaries; and the advisory committee was thus able to protect all exhibits, and to ask His Excellency, the Earl of Aberdeen, Governor-General of Canada, to open the first Canadian North West Territorial Exhibition promptly at two o'clock on Tuesday, the 30th of July. The total number of entries in the various classes were as follows:

Horses ....................................................... 505
Cattle......................................................... 712
Sheep......................................................... 557
Swine ........................................................ 373
Poultry .......................................................1,007
Rabbits ....................................................... 32

Dairy Products.......................................................683
Field Grains, Etc.....................................................400
Roots and Vegetables...........................................1,319
Plants and Flowers..................................................370
Canary Birds ...........................................................14
Bees and Honey.........................................................7

Manufacturers, Manitoba, and N. W. T....................... 122
Fruit, Preserves, Etc........................:.......................154
Leather and Leather Work........................................ ..27
Preserved Meats and Fish.............................................8

Ladies' Work ...........................................774
Fine Arts ................................................334
Natural History ..........................................64
School Work.............................................246
Indian Products ........................................ .85

Total......................................................7,793

A comparison of the entries in cattle, sheep, swine, etc., at Regina and at large eastern exhibitions, established for many years, is certainly significant, demonstrating, as it did, the great resources of this then sparcely populated country. Horses. Cattle. Sheep. Swine.

Regina (1895) .......................505 712 557 373

Ottawa ..............................254 408 201 112

School development may again be taken as affording a valuable index to conditions in the Territories. On August 2, 1894, there were 376 schools and 8,926 pupils. In the following year the enrollment increased by over 1,000. as the first report of the Commissioner of Education, covering the last year of the period under review, showed.

Mr. Mackintosh's first official act was to confirm the incorporation of Calgary as the first city of the Territories, December, 1893. In the following year, Saltcoat , Green fell, Gainsborough, Medicine Hat and Yorkton became incorporated towns, and the growth in population throughout the Territories was steady and considerably more rapid than formerly. The efforts of the new Minister of the Interior, the Honourable Clifford Sifton, to bring before the people of Europe and the United States the advantages of the Canadian West were immensely more successful than had been those of any of his predecessors. In consequence the last years of Mr. Mackintosh's regime mark the real beginning of the phenomenal tide of immigration that since that time has transformed the Canadian West. In the optimism, enterprise and prosperity of the new era. the citizens of the Territories put behind them all memory of the dismal days gone by, never, it is hoped and believed, to return. The lessons of failure had been learned. New and better methods in agriculture and other lines of activity had been adopted that were bound to bring with them a secure prosperity.


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