In a small pamphlet before us the Provisional District of Alberta
is thus described: "This district comprises an area of about
100,000 square miles, bounded on the south by the International
Boundary; on the east by the district of Assiniboia; on the west
by the Province of British Columbia, at the base of the Rocky Mountains;
and on the north by the 18th correction line before mentioned, which
is near the 55th parallel of north latitude."
This description is undoubtedly terse. It has also the merit of
being very correct, even if it is somewhat indefinite.
The northern and eastern boundaries of Alberta are, however, conventional
and liable to be changed when the district is erected into a province.
This possibility is not to be overlooked though such a contingency
is likely to result to the advantage of Alberta, because these boundaries
are more likely to be extended than contracted.
It is in the matter of climate and mineral resources that
Alberta is bound to take the foremost position among this
future quartette of provinces.
Of the four provisional districts which comprise the organized
territory of the Canadian Northwest, viz: Assiniboia, Saskatchewan,
Alberta and Athabasca, Alberta is undoubtedly the "banner"
district of the four. As area is no measure of the richness or resources
of a district, it does not follow that Saskatchewan with its 114,000
square miles, and Athabasca with its 122,000 square miles are superior
to Assiniboia with its 95,000, or Alberta with its 100,000 square
It is in the matter of climate and mineral resources that Alberta
is bound to take the foremost position among this future quartette
It is now an established fact that the country situated south of
the 55th parallel of north latitude and near the base of the Rocky
Mountains enjoys an exceptionally mild winter climate, compared
with the country lying to the east and extending far beyond the
Red River of the north. The vapor-laden winds which blow through
the various passes of the great rocky chains, and which even pass
over the tops of the mountains, at intervals, during the winter
months, and the influences of which extend a short distance east
of the 109th meridian of longitude west from Greenwich, have a most
ameliorating effect upon the otherwise cold atmosphere of the great
prairie which stretches eastward to the valley of the Red River.
These winds which are expressively termed "Chinooks" or
"Sou'-westers," are even more marked in their effect south
of the Bow River valley than in it or north of it. In the latitude
of Fort McLeod, which is situated 100 miles south of Calgary, the
effects of the "Chinook" are more distinct and consequently
more felt than they are in any other part of the district. The temperature
during the prevalence of these winds, even in midwinter, will ascend
to fifty and even seventy degrees above zero and the snow will disappear
with great rapidity while they last.
These warm winds are not experienced except rarely in Saskatchewan,
Central or Eastern Assiniboia, and in Manitoba they are unknown.
In the district of Athabasca they are frequently felt in the southwestern
portion of it near the 55th parallel, but in no portion of the Northwest
are they more marked and certain in their visitations than in the
valley of the Bow and in the great stock country lying south of
the Canadian Pacific Railway and extending to the International
Boundary Line on the south, and comprising within their scope and
influence an extent of country varying from 200 to 250 miles in
width east of the mountains.
The fact that they break up the winter and disarm it of much
of its severity, besides being a boon to man and beast alike,
is one which the old resident of non-chinook occurring portions
of the Northwest must fully appreciate.
To the old resident of the other portions of the Northwest the
mere mention of these softening winds must have a welcome sound.
The fact that they break up the winter and disarm it of much of
its severity, besides being a boon to man and beast alike, is one
which the old resident of non-chinook occurring portions of the
Northwest must fully appreciate. But if these warm midwinter winds
laden with the warmth of old ocean's currents are especially agreeable
features in the climate of Alberta, let it not for a moment be supposed
that they have to blow over a region whose only other boast is that
of a fertile soil.
Nature has not been satisfied with leaving the district of Alberta
in possession of a fertile soil only. That she has undoubtedly bestowed,
and its chemistry in this respect is without fault, but in addition
to this bounty she has freely treasured up under this fertility
inexhaustible supplies of coal of varying quality from the crude
lignite to the fixed carbon. Professor Dawson, Dominion Geologist,
in his report, speaking of the quantity and quality of the coal
in this district, says
"The quantity of coal already proved to exist is very great.
The distances for which the outcrops of certain seams have been
traced have been mentioned. Approximate estimates of the quantity
of coal underlying a square mile of country in several localities
have been made with the following results:
"Main seam, in vicinity of Coal Banks, Belly River, coal under
"lying one square mile, 5,500,000 tons. Grassy Island, Bow
River (continuation of Belly River seam), coal underlying one square
mile, 5,000,000 tons. Horse-shoe Bend, Bow River, coal underlying
one square mile, 4,900,000 tons. Blackfoot Crossing, workable coal
in seam, as exposed on Bow River, underlying one square mile, 9,000,000
|...the entire district is one vast coal field containing
an undeterminable quantity of coal which underlies a soil of
great fertility. But if nature has been lavish in the item of
coal supply, she has been equally bountiful in the treasures
which she has stored up in the mountains within the district
where the precious and valuable metals are being worked by enterprising
In point of fact, our geologists have determined that the entire
district is one vast coal field containing an undeterminable quantity
of coal which underlies a soil of great fertility. But if nature
has been lavish in the item of coal supply, she has been equally
bountiful in the treasures which she has stored up in the mountains
within the district where the precious and valuable metals are being
worked by enterprising capitalists. And yet this does not exhaust
the list. Of the hundred thousand square miles which comprise the
area of the district of Alberta fully fifty thousand are especially
adapted to the raising of stock in other words, grazing lands. The
greater portion of these pasturage lands lie south of the Bow River
but practical ranchmen who are engaged in the business in the district
and who have travelled as far north as the Peace River in Athabasca,
declare that the country along the base of the Rocky Mountains,
the whole distance, is splendidly adapted to the raising of cows
Between thirty and forty thousand square miles of the district
are admirably suitable to mixed farming, a branch of agriculture
which can be pursued with great profit owing to the shortness and
comparative mildness of the winters and the excellent grasses. Vast
timber forests stretch to the north and north-west of Edmonton,
and the rivers contain the purest waters abounding in the choicest
fish. And yet the list is not complete, for from the banks of the
Red Deer River, but one hundred miles north of Calgary, on the Bow
River, crude petroleum oozes into the river, and stands in pools
in the depressions of the ground. This is no mere assertion, for
a powerful company, with a capital comprising $1,500,000 are about
to work the resources, thus proving faith by works. It is not to
be doubted that large quantities of petroleum gum and pools of petroleum
oil on the surface of the ground abound in unlimited quantities
on the before named river, and that the coming summer will witness
most extensive works in the vicinity of these oil reservoirs.
In what other district of the Northwest we may ask are there
so many crude treasures awaiting the enterprise of the capitalist
and the labor of the maker.... The five thousand Albertians
of to-day will be fifty thousand in five years.
In what other district of the Northwest we may ask are there so
many crude treasures awaiting the enterprise of the capitalist and
the labor of the maker as there are in Alberta? Will not population
flock rapidly to the district and unlock these teeming granaries?
Most certainly! These treasures cannot long lay untouched. The five
thousand Albertians of to-day will be fifty thousand in five years.
The great national road will be completed in less than four months,
and with it will come "the first low rush of waves where soon
will roll the human sea." Great is the future of the proposed
province of Alberta for within itself it possesses everything that
can make a state rich and powerful.
To the west of it lies the great Pacific province of British Columbia,
joined to it and to the other members of the Canadian confederation
by the iron bands of travel and commerce, while to the north lies
the almost unexplored district of Athabasca, which though far to
the north, must one day be heard from as a rival in the field for
provincial organization and prosperity. Let the reader examine the
map of the Canadian Northwest Territory and see the advantage of
position which Alberta occupies compared with her sister districts.
The three principal towns of Alberta are Calgary on the line of
the Canadian Pacific Railway at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow
rivers (latitude 510 n.); Edmonton, in about 53o 30'
n., and Fort McLeod somewhat south of the 50th parallel.
Edmonton is situated on the north branch of the Saskatchewan in
the center of a rich farming district, and McLeod is situated in
the center of the rich grazing country before described. Of these
towns Calgary is the only one incorporated, but it is not unlikely
that both McLeod and Edmonton will seek incorporation during the
present summer, and be connected with Calgary by a branch road running
north and south and opening up the rich farming and grazing country
which is now inaccessible, save to the Red River cart or the more
cumbersome wagon of the settler.
We may safely and conscientiously say that no district in the Canadian
Northwest offers better inducements to the poor man as well as the
man of capital, than does this banner district of Alberta. For mixed
farming it cannot be excelled, for we have seen that these climatic
conditions, wanting in the more eastern portions of the Northwest,
and which are so necessary to stock-raising, are supplied in Alberta.
THE WINTERS ARE SHORT, NOT LONG; THE WINTER CLIMATE
IS COMPARATIVELY MILD, NOT SEVERE; BLIZZARDS ARE UNKNOWN; AND STOCK
WINTER IN THE OPEN AIR AND COME OUT FAT AND IN GOOD CONDITION IN
THE SPRING. These statements are not to be gainsaid; an industry
that promises to assume vast proportions in Alberta is sheep-raising.
Last year several thousand head were brought in from Montana and
so far they have done well, though the present winter was exceptionally
cold, but the duration of the cold snaps was comparatively short.
Only once did the thermometer register a very low temperature, but
the period was exceedingly brief, and it was followed by very mild
weather accompanied by welcome chinooks which swept away every vestige
of winter along the parts over which these remarkable winds travelled.