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come to the surface, causing aridity, and producing alkaline swamps (white mud swamps), ponds, and lakes in abundance.
The Hand Hills and their eastern extension are like an oasis in this unpromising region, for surrounding them on every side is the hard baked clay of the St. Pierre beds. The only soil throughout the region explored which would not naturally produce timber are these Cretaceous clays, well worthy the name “ Bad Lands.”
I therefore maintain that the aridity, where it exists, is the result of soil and not of climate. Palliser, on page 11 of his Report when referring to this region, makes two statements corroborative of this. Describing the valley of the South Saskatchewan Palliser says :-“Even on the alluvial points in the bottom of the valley, trees and shrubs only occur in a few isolated patches. The steep and lofty sides of the valley are composed of calcareous marls and clays that are baked into a compact mass under the heat of a parching sun. Sage and Cactus abound, and the whole of the vegetation bespeaks an arid climate." Eight lines below this on the same page he says:—“In the midst of the arid plain traversed by the South Saskatchewan, there are isolated patches of table land upon the surface of which the vegetation becomes luxuriant, and pasture of a fair quality may be found. The expedition spent two weeks at the Hand Hills, which form one of those patches, for the purpose of recruiting the horses."
Here the natural order of things is reversed, and aridity is in the valley and luxuriance on the hill-tops. Why is this ? Not because of climate certainly, but on account of soil. All the arid spots, all the salt lakes, and the brackish marshes of the entire plain, were traced to one cause—the Cretaceous clay
Artemisia cana seems to be almost peculiar, on our plains, to the Cretaceous clay, and in the north the Cactus can only find on the clay the aridity of soil that is suited to its wants.
The vegetation of these clays when dry outside of stream valleys, was characterized by numerous species of Artemisia, and many Compositæ, which in the north preferred salt lands. In Red Deer River Valley, Cacti, Artemisia, and various Chenopodiaceæ vied with each other in luxuriance, while grass and the more useful herbaceous plants were almost entirely absent.
Lying southwest from Battleford is a fine rich country which is reached about six miles from that “city” The country is almost a perfect level of good clay loam without a bush to break the monotony of the waving grass to the south. A fine rich country extends to the west from Battleford for at least eighty miles. It is generally level and often for many miles without a twig. In the vicinity of Manito Lake, there are large quantities of wood, and consequently there is broken country with numerous ponds and marshes.
Sounding Lake is a sheet of brackish water about seven miles long and four miles wide, surrounded on its north, east, and south sides with wood, the poplar averaging about six inches in diameter. South of the lake, as far as could be seen, nothing met the eye but conical hills. Between Sounding Lake and the “ Nose” the country is hilly, but contains good pasture, wood, and water. The hills generally have a black loamy soil, while the valleys are principally clay or clay loam. Along the north of the lake the country is sandy, extending about six miles to the east where heavy clay with rich grass is met with. The wood ceases as soon as the sand is left. South of this line of travel a series of hills was seen, doubtless a continuation of those over which we crossed before reaching Sounding Lake.
The Neutral Hills lie northwest of Sounding Lake. Generally they are mere ridges of broken, more or less wooded, country with clumps of small aspen scattered over their surface where protected from fire by either water or sand. Stretching southwest from this point and extending to Tail
Creek is a wide tract of broken country well suited for stock raising and supplied with abundance of wood and water, both being found of excellent quality in the ravines and narrow valleys opening into Battle River. Sullivan's Lake, a large sheet of fresh water lying about the middle of this section, has much good land around it, but the greater part of this land is best suited for pasturage as it is much cut up by coulées and sharp or rolling hills.
Lying still further west and between Battle and Red rivers is a tract of fine rich agricultural land that has no superior in the North-West. Still further west is a large district lying around the head of Battle River and southwest towards Red Deer River, where millions of tons of hay grow every year owing to the richness and moistness of the soil. This region though wet is well suited for stock, as the natural grasses are of the very best quality, and shelter is to be had close at hand.
The region embraced in this chapter contains a large amount of prairie and forest lands all of the very best description. Rivers and small streams are found in almost every part, and many lakes abounding in fish of excellent quality are dotted over the surface. West of the Porcupine Mountain many beavers are yet trapped in winter. Little game, other than birds, of which there are myriads every spring and fall, is to be found in the country. Bears and wolves are occasionally met with, but no injury to either person or stock is ever done by them.
Description of the Country Drained by the North Saskatche
wan and Athabasca River8.
Extensive District South of North Saskatchewan-One Solid Block of 13,000,000 Acres
-Large Area of Fertile Land North of River-Star Mission, its Success-Multitudes of Whitefish-Lac La Biche Mission-Farming at the Lake-Wheat, Barley, &c.- Victoria Mission-Small-pox Ravages-Rev. George McDougall his Death, the Edmonton Pioneer Former Lawlessness at Edmonton-Change Caused by the Police
- Edmonton, its Mills, Churches, Stores—Coal and Iron at Edmonton-Review of the Country-Ninty-six per Cent. Good Soil over a Vast Area-Lands for the Irish without Rent—St. Albert Mission, its History and Success—Catholic Missionaries, their Work and Success—Rocky Mountain House, Fine Timber-Gold Washing—Beaver River, very Rich Land-Green Lake, Abundance of FishChipweyan Indians-Athabasca River and Country-Size of the River and its Tributaries-Little Slave River-Pembina River, Coal in its Banks—The McLeod Baptiste's River-Jasper House and Valley-Climate of the Valley, Snow Fall very Light, Warm Winds, Dry Climate, Spring Weather–Horses Living out all Winter -Source of Warm Winds—Fertile Belt-Richness of It-Where Located-Prairie still Better-Wet Lands—Summer Frosts—Late Sowing-Fall Sowing, its Success.
NORTHWEST from Battleford, south of the North Saskatchewan, the land is rather poor and sandy for fifty miles, but proceeding northwestward beyond this into the valley of the Vermilion River, the soil gets very rich and continues so all the way to Edmonton, a distance of over 200 miles. After leaving Battleford and reaching the meridian of Fort Pitt, the whole country between the North Saskatchewan on the north and Battle River on the south, and for thirty miles beyond Edmonton on the west, may be described as fertile and well suited for settlement. Much of it is so extremely rich, and the exuberance of its vegetation so great, that travellers have extolled it possibly beyond its merits, as large tracts of it are wet and bushy, and, probably, subject to summer frosts. Of that portion south of the telegraph line this cannot be said, as it is generally level, and for the most part with but little water on the surface. This tract is unsurpassed in the North-West for its capacity to grow wheat as the soil is rich, the surface is almost level, and what slope there is inclines to the south. The great area described above, containing not less than 13,000,000 acres, is yet without inhabitant, except the settlements in the vicinity of Edmonton.
North of the Saskatchewan is a fine country, commencing a little east of Prince Albert, and extending westerly to Lac St. Ann's, fifty miles west of Edmonton. Owing to the southern bend of the river this tract varies in width from forty to one hundred miles. Throughout the whole of it the soil is warm, containing both sand and gravel, but, nevertheless, is generally rich and very fertile. It has likewise a southern aspect, and will therefore be free from frost in summer.
About fifty miles north of Carlton the “Star Mission,” in connection with the Church of England, is situated. This Mission was established in 1874, and placed in charge of the Rev. Mr. Hinds, who, besides being a minister, was a practical farmer. He at once commenced to teach the old men farming and the children English, and in less than one year had a number of small farms commenced, and the children well advanced in the knowledge of English. Since then he has been very successful, and in 1879 Mr. O'Keeffe, D.L.S., writes of the Mission : “ At Sandy Lake the Indians under the supervision of the Rev. Mr. Hinds, Church of England Missionary, were cultivating successfully fine fields of grain and raising vegetables.” Of the country in this vicinity the same writer says: “No finer country could be desired than the section above described. The water is pure and abundant, and the land extremely rich. Pea vine, vetches, grasses, and, in fact, all herbaceous plants were luxuriant. Very fine fish are in all the lakes and rivers of the section; the whitefish being extremely abundant, large, and of fine quality. The timber on this section is not so good as that