페이지 이미지

Road eastward for twenty-five miles, is altogether without wood, but the soil is exceedingly rich, and at no point is the wood to the southwest ten miles distant. Proceeding northward of the travelled road, the country becomes more broken, ponds and marshes are numerous, and wood increases both in size and quality, until it merges into continuous forest south of the present telegraph line. A rich black loam, about fifteen inches in depth, containing small grains of quartz or other rock, is the prevailing surface soil, but this imperceptibly passes into lighter colored sandy loam, as the timber becomes more continuous and of larger growth. The subsoil is generally a light colored marly clay, but this again, in the ridges, passes into gravel, which is generally gneiss covered with a coating of carbonate of lime.

From a little west of the 102nd Meridian, boulders are numerous for about twenty miles, and occasionally afterwards, but no soil is seen too stony for successful cultivation.

At many points we dug into the subsoil, and found it as above. Tested with acid, it always gave indications of a very large percentage of carbonate of lime.

The timber, on the tract passed over by me, is of very little value, but good poplar for building purposes will be found on the hills. Other explorers, who travelled the northern and eastern portion of this section, speak highly of its timber and of its being in considerable quantity. Spruce is also found in the northeastern corner of it.

Good water seems to prevail throughout the whole region, although the running streams are few and quite small. Leach Lake, being fresh water, may contain fish. As there is abundance of timber in that section and good water, a large settlement will spring up in a year or two.

The grass marshes so frequently spoken of, are abundant in this section, and are from the size of a flower plot up to a. number of acres.

Long or Last Mountain Lake lies in a depression that has a gentle de cent from the east, extending over at least ten miles. It is forty miles long and has an average breadth of about one mile and a half. At its southern extremity a small stream, running in a deep but comparatively wide valley, discharges its surplus waters into the Qu'Appelle. This point is named the Grand Forks. Close to it must be the future city of the C P R., as a branch line will be run before

many years along the shores of Long Lake. Near the outlet of the Lake the banks are high but they gradually disappear, the high land on the one side passing into Last Mountain, and on the other forming an escarpment on the west side of the lake.

The waters of the lake are sweet and pleasant to the taste, quite clear and of great depth. Multitudes of fish are caught here every fall by Indians who come down from the Touchwood Hills for the purpose of fishing. This lake and the four Fishing lakes in the Valley of the Qu'Appelle are noted for their Whitefish that for many years have been a source of supply to all the Indians of the valley. Before many years steamboats will be plying on its waters, and the lovely land bordering on its shores will be dotted with farmhouses.

Except on Last Mountain no wood is to be seen, but coal can be supplied by means of the lake and the C.P.R. One of the richest tracts in the Qu'Appelle valley lies east and north from Last Mountain and when known will be speedily taken up by farmers, as the much dreaded frosts of the Saskatchewan valley are unknown.

While encamped near the head of this lake, in 1879, we had ample opportunity to examine this portion of the country. We were particularly charmed with its soil, productions, and position. Multitudes of pelican, geese, ducks, avocets, phalaropes, water hens, and grebe, besides innumerable snipe and plover were everywhere in the marshes

at the head of the lake or along its shores, or on small islands lying to the south of the camp. This was early in July and experience tells me that not one-tenth was then seen of the bird life assembled in September and October.

To the east of the head of the lake lay the rich country which produced the enormous mushrooms referred to in Chapter XI, when speaking of the lilies and other flowers which caused me to call this region the “ Flower Garden of the Northwest"

Passing round the head of Long Lake, from the east, we found a creek a few yards wide, with a sluggish current and a very miry bottom. Scarcely a mile from the first creek, we came to another of a totally different character. This creek had a gentle current of clear water, was nearly three feet in depth, and about eighteen wide. A fish weir was seen a short distance above our crossing, showing that fish ran up stream in the Spring. In half a mile, we crossed another creek, but this contained much less water.

The middle creek, which is much the largest and which certainly contains fish in Spring, seems to be the stream which discharges Wolverine Creek. I believe the land on

I this stream will be found of unquestionable value, as the water in the creek was quite pure.

The section lying west of the 102nd Meridian is bounded on the south by the Qu'Appelle, on the west by Long Lake, and by a line running northeasterly from the head of Long Lake to Quill Lakes. It may be said to have, both as regards surface and subsoil, a similarity of character, varying from deep black clay loam, with a light colored marly clay subsoil, to a light sandy or gravelly loam, with a gravelly subsoil. Some travellers taking the washed out subsoil thrown out by badgers, or found in cart ruts, as the real soil of the prairie, have characterized parts of this region as gravelly and sandy, but pits dug into the subsoil showed but a small percentage of either.

Abundance of good water is found on every part of this tract for the greater part of the summer, and future settlers will find that good permanent wells can be obtained, at a reasonable depth, on any part of the prairie. Poplar wood for house-building, fencing, and firewood, can easily be procured at Pheasant, File, and Touchwood Hills, which extend from southeast to northwest through its whole extent. Almost continuous woods extend along the Carlton road, from twelve miles east of its western boundary to where the Qu'Appelle and Pelly road crosses it. Thence, eastward,

xtends the Pheasant Plain, a stretch of twenty-five miles long, without wood, but Pheasant Hills having abundance of it, are always in sight. East and northeast of this plain, copse wood is more or less abundant, until the Assiniboine is reached. West of the hills spoken of, no wood exists, but the soil is of the very best description.

A depression, of which Long Lake partly fills the southern end, extends up to Quill Lakes. Although less than twelve miles wide where it crosses the travelled road from Carlton, the name of “Great Salt Plain” is given to a tract thirty miles from east to west. This valley contains many lakelets of brackish water. An alkaline creek, which crosses the road, seems to discharge the surplus waters of Quill Lakes into Long Lake. In this depression no wood is found. In fact, not a bush, so far as known, grows on a belt of country twenty-five miles wide, extending from the Qu'Appelle to Quill Lakes.

I may here state that the appearance of the country just described, was altogether different from what I expected. I had been led to believe that much of it was little else than desert. Having crossed that part of it, north of the Qu'Appelle, in the summer of 1879, I can speak with certainty of the fertility of the immense plain sloping towards that river on both sides.

Starting from the Qu'Appelle at its mouth, and pro


jecting a line nearly due west to the South Saskatchewan, a distance of over 250 miles, and including only the land south of the Touchwood Hills, a belt, with an average breadth of 100 miles, extends right up the Qu'Appelle. Here we have 25,000 square miles, or 16,000,000 acres of land lying in one block, that to my own knowledge, has over 90 per cent. fit for agricultural or pastoral purposes. The only poor soil in this extensive tract is that portion between Spy Hill and Fort Ellice, and two small groups of sand hills, lying at the sources of the Qu'Appelle. No alkaline soil is known on any part of it, except a narrow tract extending from the head of Long Lake toward Quill Lakes. Numerous small brooks are found on both sides of the river, and where there are no brooks, ponds of good water are seldom wanting. There will be no difficulty in obtaining first-class wheat crops throughout the greater part of it, as the soil is generally a rich black loam, mixed with silica, and at times containing more or less gravel. The subsoil, in nearly every case, is a light colored clay, or clay intermixed with pebbles coated with carbonate of lime. Nearly the whole of the surface is a gently undulating plain easily drained, and over three-fourths of it sloping to the south. The crops at the Qu'Appelle Mission, about the centre of the area, ripen earlier than in any other part of the North-West ; barley having been cut, both in 1879 and 1880, during the last week in July. No summer frost has ever been reported from this region, and authentic reports say, that the spring is two weeks earlier than at Winnipeg. Forty miles west of the File Hills, wood is no longer found, and from that to the Saskatchewan, not a bush of any description is seen.

Moose Jaw Creek, about eight miles below its confluence with Thunder Creek takes a great bend to the east. At this point the sides of the valley are one hundred and forty feet deep. The breadth of the Creek is only sixteen feet, with about four inches of flowing water. Small clumps of maple and ash were observed, but no poplar.

« 이전계속 »