Narrative of a Journey to Manitoba

The booklet presented below was translated into numerous languages and circulated around Europe in the 1870's by the Canadian government to attract settlers to the Canadian prairies.  It was carried in many immigrants' coat pockets on the journey across the Atlantic.

Jacob Y. Shantz was a Mennonite farmer and businessman from Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario who authored this booklet.  The Russian Mennonites, for whom this journey was originally undertaken, decided to immigrate and by 1879, 7000 had arrived in Manitoba.  J. Y. helped them settle in their new country, raising funds and loans for them and visiting them in Manitoba on 27 separate occasions.  The small settlement of Schanzenfeld was named in his honour by the grateful immigrants.

Narrative of a Journey to Manitoba

By J. Y. Shantz

Together with an Abstract of the

Dominion Lands Act;

and an Extract from the

Government Pamphlet on Manitoba

Published by the Department of Agriculture, Ottawa, 1873

(Click for an image of the title page.)

The following narrative of a journey to Manitoba has been written by Mr. Jacob Y. Shantz, a German Menonite, resident in Berlin, Ontario.

Mr. Shantz, at the request of the Department of Agriculture, visited Ottawa, in company with Mr. Bernard Warkentin, a German Menonite from Berdiansk, Russia, in November last, as interpreter.

The object of Mr. Warkentin in visiting Canada was to find a place suitable for the settlement of Menonites who contemplate an emigration, en masse, from Russia.

At the request of the Department of Agriculture, he, with Mr. Shantz, visited Manitoba.

Mr. Shantz states that in writing a narrative of the journey, he has been moved by the simple desire to set down the facts with the utmost possible accuracy.

Department of Agriculture,

Ottawa, April, 1873.

Table of Contents

Letter to the Minister

Account of journey

Winnipeg, size, growth, &c.

Stinking River Settlement

Boyne River Settlement

Victoria Settlement

Western District of Manitoba


Cost of Transport

Toronto to Fort Garry

Fort William to Fort Garry

Mode of Conveyance

Through Tickets

The Half Breeds


Frosts and adaptation of climate to Agriculture

Stock Raising and Wool Growing

Fruit Culture

Best Time to Go

Capital to Commence With

Advice to Emigrants


Dominion Lands Act

Apportionment of Lands

Grazing Lands

Mining Lands

Timber Lands

Form of Application for Homestead Rights

Affidavit in support of claim for do


Extracts from Government Pamphlet

General Features of Manitoba


Letter from United States Consul

Letter from Archdeacon McLean

Statement of Mr. G. B. Spence

Analysis of Soil, by a German Chemist

Letter of Senator Klotz (Kiel) on the soil


Government Advertisement of routes and fares


Berlin, Ontario, 28th February, 1873.

To the Hon. J. H. Pope, Minister of Agriculture, Ottawa:


            I herewith enclose to you a brief narrative of my journey to Manitoba, and my opinions respecting that Province.  The readers of this Report may rest assured that it contains a true and impartial statement of what I saw and learned there.  Tastes differ – some may like what others dislike, and some persons are so constituted that they can be content nowhere.  Fish and game are abundant in the Province, but even these must be caught before they can be cooked and eaten.  Of this one fact, however, I am certain, that Manitoba affords a splendid field for immigration, not only from Europe and Canada, but also from the United States, for those desirous of acquiring a good and cheap homestead for themselves and their family.  Such are sure of becoming independent if they are only willing to go to work, to be industrious, and to live temperately.

                        I have the honor to be,


                        Your obedient servant,

                        [signed]  JACOB Y. SHANTZ.


Manitoba and the North-West

On the 5th November, 1872, Mr. Bernard Warkentin, of Russia, and my self left Berlin by the Grand Trunk Railway to Detroit, (en route for the Province of Manitoba); thence by the Southern Michigan Railway to Chicago; thence to St. Paul, Minnesota, and by the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railway to Duluth; thence by the Northern Pacific Railway to Moorehead on the Red River, a place situated immediately on the boundary line between the States of Minnesota and Dacotah, from which place we proceeded to Pembina on the borders of Manitoba.

Entering the Province, we travelled a distance of 72 miles by stage to Fort Garry and Winnipeg, the latter being situated contiguous to the Fort, and a rising place.  A railroad is now in course of construction to Pembina, which will be completed during the present year.  We might have saved about 230 miles had we taken the route via Breckenridge, but in order to avoid travelling by stage, we took the longer route by railway.  From Pembina we travelled about 50 miles along the Red River – a portion of the Province as yet entirely unsettled, with the exception of a few stations scattered every 15, or 20 miles, where relays of horses and refreshments for passengers are provided.  Passing this district the Half-breed settlements commence, small white houses with stables attached dotting the scene, and which become more numerous the nearer we approach the Fort.

Seven miles from Fort Garry we passed a grist-mill; the houses presented a better appearance, the farms being well fenced, and the Assiniboine River was reached, a tributary of the Red River.  The former stream is navigable for a distance of 60 miles or more, and though not wide is deep.  Red River is navigable some 280 miles to the south and 30 to the north, where it empties into Lake Winnipeg, with an expanse of about 1,000 feet at the Town of Winnipeg.  Fort Garry, the principal trading post of the Hudson Bay Company, contains a small fortress with a garrison of soldiers.  A large warehouse belonging to the Company is situated on the River’s bank, in which six clerks are employed.  There is also a telegraph office, and several two story houses around the fort.  Work had been commenced upon the foundations of a new hotel to be erected this year at a cost of $14,000.

At a distance of about a quarter mile or so lies the Town of Winnipeg, the capital of the Province only founded a few years ago, but which already contains 12 stores, 5 hotels and a large saw mill, capable of cutting from ten to fifteen thousand feet of lumber per day.  There are also a planing mill, and four printing offices.  The houses are mostly frame, brick being the exception, though they are now being manufactured there.  Stone and lime are procurable within six miles.  The roads, as well as the streets, are in bad order, with very little sidewalk, but the building operations continually going on and teaming in connection therewith will cut them up for some time to come.  Winnipeg also contains a Savings Bank, and a Wesleyan Church.

On the eastern side of Red River lies the village of St. Boniface, containing a Roman Catholic Cathedral, Church of England, Presbyterian Church, and a school-house.  Further down the river is St. John’s (Church of England) College.  After seeing Winnipeg we started for the Indian Mission about 60 miles to the north west.  For a distance of some two miles are the houses of the Half-breeds, after which nothing was to be seen but the unbroken prairie, till we arrived at “Cattle Farm,” 20 miles distant, where we saw 100 head of cattle grazing.  The farm-buildings consisted of a small dwelling-house with large out-buildings, and a stack of hay containing about 100 tons.  When we left there on the 23rd November, the cattle were still in the fields, and the pasture was good.  For the rest of the distance to Indian Mission, the country changes, the prairie being dotted here and there with belts of wood land known as “bluffs,” containing from one half to ten acres, for the most part poplar.  This timber is used by the half-breeds for building purposes, for fences, and for fuel.  On arrival at the Mission we found about twenty families of French half-breeds, who live by hunting and fishing.  Here we met Mr. William Wagner, Provincial Land Surveyor, who takes great interest in the encouragement of immigration to Manitoba.  Immigrants arriving, especially Germans, would do well to apply to this gentleman for information as to the most profitable and desirable lands on which to settle.

Leaving the Indian Mission we journeyed south-west along the eastern shore of Lake Manitoba, and found fine prairie land there, dotted as before with “bluffs.”  For 40 miles we traveled without seeing a house till we reached a spot called “Poplar Point” on the Assiniboine, where we found a farm of about 90 acres under cultivation, belonging to a Mr. Taylor, who owns a large number of cattle.  In the vicinity is a settlement of English half-breeds, chiefly Protestants, and possessing three churches, English, Presbyterian and Methodist.  Proceeding still further west-ward along the banks of the River, which are settled by small farmers, we arrived at “High Bluffs” a place with three churches and a School House.  Here we staid at a farm belonging to a Mr. Allcock, an Englishman, who came here from Ontario three years ago.  He showed us as fine a sample of spring wheat as I had ever seen, and told us that he had harvested 40 bushels to the acre.  He also exhibited a splendid sample of oats, flax seed, potatoes, turnips, cabbage and other vegetables.

Seven miles further on, in a westerly direction, we came to the village of “Portage la Prairie,” with six stores, a grist mill, four saw mills, and quite a large number of mechanics.  We next visited Messrs. Grant and Mackenzie, whose farms lie about eight miles distant from “Portage la Prairie,” both of whom came from the Province of Ontario.  Mr. Grant showed us a sample of wheat which had turned out 30 bushels to the acre, and some very fine oats.  His potatoes also were of a very large size and superior quality, such as I have never seen surpassed.  Mr. Mackenzie’s wheat yielded 32 bushels to the acre.  He also showed us about 100 bushels of onions, measuring from two, to five and a half inches in diameter.  The turnips also were of a very large size, of which three would weigh 60 lbs.  He stated that he had taken 1,200 bushels of potatoes off of four and three quarter acres of land – prairie land broken up, and the potatoes ploughed under.  He also showed us young apple trees which he had raised from seed, that looked very thrifty.  This gentleman also possesses a herd of ninety head of cattle, amongst which I remarked a full-bred Durham bull, and some Durham cows.  I am thus particular in mentioning all I saw on this farm, that the reader may form some idea of the richness of the soil.  The distance from “Poplar Point” to Mr. Mackenzie’s farm is about 22 miles up the Assiniboine River, along which there is a good strip of timber, and the land well settled, partly by English half-breeds and immigrants from Ontario.

Returning to “Poplar Point” we resumed our journey in an easterly direction by the main road towards Winnipeg, and at a distance of 12 miles, we reached St. Paul’s Mission.  Six miles further we came to Pigeon Lake, one mile distant from which is the Hudson Bay Company’s Post, known as “White Horse Post,” where the Company carries on farming on an extensive scale, 9,870 bushels of grain having been raised in 1871 on two hundred and ninety acres of land.  The Company also maintain here about 500 head of cattle.  Twelve miles further we came to Headingley, a small village, and four miles distant from that is Sturgeon Creek, where there is a steam mill and distillery.  Passing “Silver Heights,” where the Hon Donald A. Smith, Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, resides, we came to St. Paul’s Church (Church of England), and after a further distance of five miles, reached again our starting point.  Our road lay on the north side of, and along the Assiniboine River; the soil consists of good rich prairie land, and belts of timber consisting of Elm, Basswood, Ash, and Poplar.

Leaving Winnipeg again in a north easterly direction, we proceeded along the Red River to the Hudson Bay Company’s Post, known as the Stone Fort, where there is a small garrison.  The whole distance from Winnipeg to the Fort is thickly settled.  Respecting the weather, whilst traveling in the States of Minnesota and Dacotah, from the 10th November to the 1st December it snowed continually with drift, although the snow was not over eight inches deep on the plains; on reaching the Manitoba line, however, we found very little snow, and on arrival at Fort Garry on the 17th November, there was not enough snow to cover the ground.  From the 18th to the 28th November there was no snow of any consequence in Manitoba, and on the 1st December leaving Fort Garry on our return we had beautiful weather, traveling by stage, on wheels, 140 miles.  The further south we came the more snow we found, till on our arrival at St. Paul, it was fully a foot in depth.  This confirmed the statement made by the people in Manitoba that they do not experience as much snow as falls in Minnesota and Dacotah.  Apparently the further westward you travel in Manitoba, the less snow is met with, and the milder is the climate.

Size, Growth And Development Of Winnipeg, The Capital Of Manitoba And The North West.

A general desire being felt to know the exact increase of the population of Winnipeg during the last summer, much speculation has existed, based upon all kinds of random suppositions.   Judging from the ordinary indications of trade and building, few towns can boast a more rapid growth.  In the Fall of 1870 the population was 300, whilst in the Fall of 1871 it had increased to 700, and in the Fall of last year, a careful enumeration made showed a population of 1,467, thus giving an increase of nearly 800 during the past year.  The number of houses erected during last building season were stores, dwellings and warehouses of one story high, thirty-four; of one and a half stories, thirty-three; of two stories, fifty-six, and of two and a half stories, one; making a total in all of 124 new buildings.  In addition to this there are now under contract a brick hotel to contain 100 rooms, for Mr. A. M. Brown; the Canadian Pacific Hotel, with a frontage of 90 feet, and to contain 100 rooms; whilst numerous stores and warehouses together with private residences are being erected.  There remains to be mentioned the Receiver General’s Office, Custom House and Post Office to be erected by the Dominion Government, at an average cost of $15,000 each.

With respect to wages, although varying according to circumstances and place, the average prices may be set down as follow: Carpenters, $3,50 per day; bricklayers and masons, $4.00 per day; painters $3.50, and labourers $2.50 per day.  These rates of wages, though higher perhaps than elsewhere, are not the only advantage, for the sober and industrious may, out of the savings of one or two months, secure, by making their first payment, a lot and a home of their own.

The market rates, as far as we could ascertain them, where the supply is so irregular and uncertain, were: wheat, $1.25 per bushel; oats, $1.00 per bushel; barley, $1.10 per bushel; potatoes, 62 cents; onions, $2.00; carrots, 75 cents; turnips, 50 cents, and beets 50 cents per bushel.  Hay was selling from $7.00 to $8.00 per ton; butter, 30 cents per lb; eggs, 30 cents per dozen; beef, 12½ cents per lb; lamb the same; veal, 20 cents; pork, 20 cents; and fresh fish about 5 cents per lb.  Board ranges from $5.00 to $9.00 per week, though many young men save money by boarding themselves.

Stinking River Settlement

This settlement is best reached by way of Headingley and thence south over the Pembina trail which crosses the Stinking River, near the upper end of the settlement.  The land on both sides of the river is nearly occupied through the extent of townships 8 and 9 in the second range.  The settlers are for the most part from Central Canada.

Stinking River contains water at all seasons, clear and good except at a few points where salt springs affect it for short distances;  good water can, however, be had anywhere by digging to a depth of a dozen or twenty feet.

Both banks of the river are fringed with oak and poplar of good size, in sufficient quantities for settlement use, which increase in size and density as the river is ascended.

The prairie, on either side, consists of a black loam, easily cultivated and of sufficient undulation from the numerous gullies leading to the river to be well drained, an important point towards early cultivation and quick growth.  North of the river is an unlimited supply of marsh hay, the spontaneous growth of the marsh which extends to the southeast over parts of two Townships.

Boyne River Settlement

The River Boyne takes its rise in the Pembina Mountains, and is about 50 miles long, flowing in a north easterly direction until it loses itself in the great marsh, mentioned before as extending to the vicinity of the Stinking River Settlement.  Its banks are, for the greater part, lined with a fringe of heavy oak timber, to the depth of from a quarter to half a mile, till towards the mountain it extends into a forest of a number of miles wide; on the edge of the marsh, however, poplar is the principal timber met with.

The present occupants point with pride to the substantial character of their improvements, their houses being well built and commodious.  Some of the largest enclosures in the Province are to be met with in this settlement, it being no unusual thing to see a field of 100 acres, of 60 acres, and 50 acres respectively, used for pasturage, the trouble of fencing being amply repaid by the certainty of always finding the cattle when wanted.  The majority of the settlers here are Canadians, and the land is taken up for a distance of five miles east and west;  beyond that, however, there is an abundance of land equally good, embracing the richest prairie land, with wood, water and hay.

The natural advantages of the Boyne district for the raising of cattle, with its abundant supply of water, fodder and shelter, has attracted the attention of the Messrs. Grant, of Sturgeon Creek, and Campbell Brothers from Ontario, both of whom have considerable droves of cattle fattening on the Prairie.  The unlimited supply of acorns which strew the ground in the oak-woods, would suffice to feed a large herd of swine.

In the Boyne River settlement there are about 30 families.


This settlement commences about three miles north of Stony Mountain, but the latter term would not, in any other than a level country, be so applied.  It is a ridge some 70 or 100 feet above the surrounding level, of about three miles in length and from a quarter to half a mile in width.  The eastern side is a gentle slope, but the western is broken, some portions of it being precipitous.  It is covered with a fine growth of poplar.  The ridge is composed mostly of Limestone rocks, which, where exposed to view, appear to run in layers of from a foot to twenty inches in thickness.  No better building stone can possibly be found, and the supply is practically inexhaustible.

The Western District of Manitoba

The traveler, pursuing his journey westwards from Winnipeg, would say that all the land which meets the eye is good farming land, but it is only as he reaches Poplar Point that he sees the best of it.

The land stretching from there to Rat Creek, and from the River Assiniboine to Lake Manitoba, cannot be excelled for agricultural purposes.  Practical men, who have viewed the wheat-lands of California, the extensive plains of Australia, and the wide-spreading prairies of the Western States, agree on this point.

The river lots from Poplar Point to Portage la Prairie were, for the most part, taken up ten years ago by native inhabitants from the Red River Settlement below Winnipeg, who have sold out again in turn to Canadians and Hudson Bay Company employees.  The land outside of the river lots is also rapidly filling up.

The statements that I have made with regard to the enormous yield of cereals and roots, are not over estimated.  As a further proof of this, in October, 1871, one quart of Fall wheat was sown not far from Winnipeg, the same was harvested in August, 1872, and produced the very best sample of grain at the rate of 72 bushels per acre, which was exhibited at the Minnesota State Fair, and pronounced the best sample on exhibition.

There is stated to be a settlement on the Lake of the Woods road, on the Dawson route, with a beautiful park-like appearance, abutting on the River Seine, in Township X, Range 4, in which several families from Ontario are settled, whose land must shortly become very valuable, being within ten miles of the town of Winnipeg.

Springfield, another settlement in an easterly direction from Winnipeg, now presents quite a thriving appearance, and contains from 60 to 70 families.  Near it is another settlement known as Sunnyside, containing about 30 families, nearly all from Ontario.  The half-breeds are settled for the most part along the Assiniboine and Red Rivers.

The reader will observe, from the above remarks, that it is not an unsettled country to which he is invited to go and make himself a home on a free grant, but that there are plenty of settlements which he can join.  Advantages are afforded in Manitoba and the North West that a new settler in the Western States, though lying further to the South, could not possess, of which I will now make mention.

First.  In Manitoba, the land is principally prairie, requiring no clearing for agricultural purposes, although timber is to be found in sufficient abundance for building purposes, fencing, and fuel.  In addition to the latter there are the large coal-fields further west on the Saskatchewan River.

Wherever settlements have been established both grist and sawmills are to be met with.

Secondly.  In the Western States the Railway Companies own the lands from 10 to 20 miles on either side of their respective roads, which settlers cannot obtain as Free Grants, but for which they have to pay from $2.50 upwards per acre, according to locality.  In the Province of Manitoba, however, the settler can at present make his choice of any lots which are not yet taken up;  he can always join a settlement, and need never become isolated.

Thirdly.  There are good prospects of both railway and water communication before long, the facilities for the latter being especially good, the Province abounding in rivers and lakes which extend through the North West to the very base of the Rocky Mountains, and eastwards to Lake Superior, with the exception of a distance of one hundred and fifty-three miles, as stated by Mr. Wagner, which would require a canal to establish complete water communication.

A steamboat belonging to the Hudson Bay Company already runs on the Saskatchewan for a distance of 600 miles.  There is also an outlet through the States by way of Red River, which is navigable from Fort Garry through Minnesota and Dacotah, a distance of 288 miles to Breckenridge, where a branch of the Northern Pacific Railway from St. Paul, 216 miles distant, crosses the river.  There is also a  railway direct from St. Paul to Pembina on the boundary line, which will be completed and in running order during the coming summer, and which it is thought will be extended to Fort Garry.

Fourthly.  Another inducement which Manitoba has to offer settlers is, if the free grant of land to which they are entitled is not sufficient, more can be procured at one dollar per acre, whereas in the Western States, even beyond the limits of Railway Company’s Lands, the price is one dollar and twenty cents per acre.

Fifthly.  Although Manitoba lies to the north of Minnesota and Dacotah, the cold is neither so extreme, nor the snow fall as heavy as in the latter States, and the changes in the weather are not sudden, as in Kansas and Nebraska States, still further south.  In Manitoba during winter the weather though cold is regular, the air dry and healthy.  The snow is seldom more than from one to one-and-a-half feet deep, and further west on the Saskatchewan it is said to be even  less than that.

Cost of Transport

The cost of transportation for Emigrants from Toronto to Manitoba is as follows:


Adults, $5; Children under 12 years, $2.50, 150 lbs. Personal baggage free, Extra luggage, 35 cents per 100 lbs.


Emigrants, $10; Children under 12, $5, 200 lbs. personal baggage free, Extra luggage, $2.50 per 100 lbs.  (Horses, oxen, wagons, or heavy farming implements can only be taken by special arrangements.)


By Railroad from Toronto to Collingwood or Sarnia.

By Steamer from Collingwood or Sarnia to Fort William.

45 miles by wagon from Fort William to Shebandowan Lake.

310 miles broken navigation in open boats, from Shebandowan Lake to the North West angle of the Lake of the Woods.

95 miles by Cart or Waggon from North West Angle Lake of the Woods, to Fort Garry.

Between Fort William and Fort Garry, huts and tents will be provided for the accommodation of Emigrants on the Portages.  Passengers should take their own supplies.  Provisions will, however, be furnished at cost price at Shebandowan Lake, Fort Francis, and the North West Angle, Lake of the Woods.


Can be had at Toronto, at the stations of the Northern, Great Western, and Grand Trunk Railways.

Emigrants are requested to take notice that packages are limited to 200 lbs. weight for convenience of transport on the portages, and that baggage and supplies must not exceed 450 lbs. for any one emigrant.

At the opening of this season, the Red River Route will be in a condition to admit of the transport of heavy articles.

Merchandise will be transported from Fort William to Fort Garry at $2 per 100 lbs., or $40 per ton of 2,000.  Each piece not to exceed 300 in weight, and to be firmly fastened.

Emigrant fare from Quebec to Toronto is $5.

The above routes can only be used in the summer season, and till the ice sets in in the Fall.  There are several other routes to Manitoba which are more convenient but at the same time more expensive.  One route is from any point on Lake Huron, whence steamboats start, to Duluth on the North Westerly shore of Lake Superior, thence by Northern Pacific Railway to Glynden, 242 miles distant.  From this point a line branches northwardly 152 miles to Pembina on the boundary line, the remainder of the distance to Fort Garry being completed by stages or steamboats on the Red River.

Another route is by the Grand Trunk Railway from Toronto to Detroit, and thence by way of Chicago and St. Paul to Breckenridge on the Red River, where steamers run in summer to Fort Garry, some 500 miles distant, or if by land, taking the stage route from Breckenridge, 288 miles.  This route costs through from Toronto, first class, $50 to $60, according to the season, the fare being lower in summer than in winter.

A question frequently asked is

What Kind Of People Are The Half-Breeds?

To briefly state their history then, in the year 1669 a company was formed in London under the direction of Prince Rupert for the purpose of prosecuting the fur trade in the region of country surrounding Hudson’s Bay.  This company obtained a charter from King Charles II granting to them and their successors, under the name of “The Governor and Company of Adventurers trading into Hudson’s Bay,” the sole right of trading in all the country watered by rivers flowing into the Hudson’s Bay – the charter also authorized them to build and fit out men of war, establish forts, and to prevent any other Company from carrying on trade with the natives in their territories, and requiring that they should do all in their power to promote discovery.  This Company frequently brought men from England and Scotland as employees for their trading posts, and for the purpose of hunting and trapping; ‑ these intermarrying with the native Indians produced the race of people now known as the English half-breeds or properly speaking half Indians.

In the year 1783 another Company was formed, composed of French Canadians from Montreal, who commenced the fur trade further East and North of Lake Superior, without any permission from the Government or otherwise.  This Company, it is said, at one time employed five thousand men.  At length trouble arose between the Hudson’s Bay Company and the French Company;  and frequent quarrels arose, sometimes ending in bloodshed.

In the year 1821 the two rival Companies amalgamated.  The French Canadians also intermarried with the native Indians, and their descendants were called French half-breeds – this happened over a century ago – so that all these half-breeds have become, as it were, a distinct race of people.

They are a civilized class of people.  I have been amongst them as a stranger, have boarded and lodged with them, and I have invariably found them very obliging and hospitable, and to their honor be it said, I saw none of them as rough and wicked as some of our own class of Canadians.  They have Schools and Churches wherever they have settlements, as I have before mentioned – and I was informed by an official who assisted in taking the Census, that they can nearly all read and write.  They have small houses simply built of round timber in the following manner:  for a house 16 feet by 24 feet the sills are laid, six posts are hewn square, one for each corner and one in the middle lengthwise, grooves of two inches are cut in the posts in which plates are placed to hold the posts – then timbers are cut to the proper lengths and a two inch tenant made at either end to fit the groove in the posts – these timbers so prepared are slipped in between the posts in the grooves, one on top of the other, until the spaces are filled up to the plates, which are from 8 feet to 10 feet above the sills – thus forming the sides and ends of the building;  the cracks and openings are all plastered over on the inside and outside and then whitewashed.  Some of their buildings are only 16 feet square in which case only four posts are required.

The roof is made of poles laid close together in rafter form and filled out with clay, mortar and prairie grass puddle into the clay on one end, the butts of the grass covering the clay – this makes a tight and substantial roof – buildings thus constructed afford a warm house, and I would recommend settlers with limited means to adopt this plan for their houses, where the timber is so small that they cannot make them in the old Canadian style.

The reader might wonder why the Half-breeds rose in rebellion a few years ago, if they are civilized and satisfied.  They thought that our Government should first consult them and give them a certain right to the lands they then occupied, and also lands for their children.  An arrangement has now been come to between these people and the Government which gives to every man, woman and child living at that time, one hundred and forty acres of land;  with this they are now satisfied, and they seem to be well pleased with the action of the Government.



This is another question frequently put to me, and I can say in answer thereto, that as far as I could ascertain they are both quiet and inoffensive and well satisfied with the Government from which they receive an annuity – three dollars to every soul annually – besides which they have hunting grounds for themselves far back in the North-West.  If the agreement, as above, is carried out faithfully by our Government, and I have no doubt it will be, there will be no trouble from the Indians in Canada.  The Indians who once enter into a treaty will keep it to the letter, but when a promise to them is broken, they are not only dissatisfied but will assuredly seek revenge.  This, I am told, is what led to the trouble between the American Indians and the residents of some of the Western States, and was the cause of the dreadful massacre of the settlers in Minnesota a few years ago.

The United States Government had made a treaty with the Indians, promising them a certain amount of money, out of part of which they were defrauded by the officials appointed to distribute the sums granted to them.  I was told by an agent of the Hudson’s Bay Company, that some of these American Indians, of the Sioux Tribe have fled to the North-West of Canada and that the Company frequently employs them to work at their trading posts, and that they are good workers and respect our Government very much.  Our Canadians Indians are of the Chippewa Tribe, but are not very well pleased that so many of the “Sioux” come in from the other side.

Frosts, and Adaptation of Climate to Agriculture

I agree fully with the following remarks, made by Mr. Spence in his pamphlet “Manitoba and the North West of the Dominion.”

The liability to disastrous frosts in the season of growth, and which so intimately concerns the interests of husbandry is not any worse in Manitoba than in many parts of Ontario.  In the former province the Spring of 1869 was an exceptionally late one, and in May several light frosts were experienced, which did no serious damage to the crops; in fact the injury was scarcely noticeable, which may be accounted for from the following reasons ‑
1.  The dryness of the atmosphere (which is a peculiarity of this region) allows a much lower range of temperature, without injury to vegetation, than in moister climates, and in addition to the heat, gives greater vigor to the plants, which grow rapidly but with firm texture, and are consequently able to resist severe cold on account of their excessive vitality, the same as a person who has partaken heartily of strong diet, is better able to resist the cold of winter.
2.  The sudden change of temperature, which is often the case in this region, ‑ one extreme following another in rapid succession – is less deleterious to vigorous plants, than a gradual lowering of temperature.  The earth and plants still retain the heat previously absorbed, and are thus enabled to bear an atmosphere at 20º much better than at 35º after their latent heat has been given off.  The soil of the prairie is generally dry – and is rapidly warmed by the rays of the sun in the spring.
3.  The benefits arising from the dryness of the air are accounted for from the fact, that moisture conveyed in the air has a tendency to soften the delicate covering of the plants, and thus render them more sensitive to cold.
4.  The heat-retaining character of the soil.
For these and several other reasons that might be mentioned, the climate of Manitoba is less subject to killing frosts, than might at first be supposed to be the case on account of its high latitude.”

I was informed by Mr. Deputy Sheriff Nesbitt, of Winnipeg, that in the year 1870 the first fall frost of any consequence occurred on the 2nd of October, in the year 1871, on the 15th of October, and last year in the latter part of October, which shews that during the growing season, frosts are not likely to do damage to the crops.  With regard to Spring frosts, Mr. Taylor, an aged gentleman now upwards of 80, and resident in that country about 54 years, informed me that he scarcely ever knew vegetables to suffer from frosts,  after they have once started in the Spring.

The season opens, so I was informed by Messrs. McKenzie and Taylor, for Spring ploughing from about the 20th of April to the 1st of May, after which they have very few frosts and the cold is very moderate, as the seasons change rapidly from Winter to Summer – Winter generally lasts five months, say from the middle of November to the middle of April.  In the year 1871 snow fell very early, on the 12th November, ,but as a rule there is very little snow before Christmas.  When I arrived there, 17th November, last fall, there was no snow.  On the first of December there was a slight fall of snow, about an inch in depth.

Although the weather was very cold when I was in the Province, yet the air being clear and dry, the cold is not felt as much as it would be in Ontario,  where the air is more moist.  On the 28th and 29th November last year, the thermometer stood at 25º to 30º below zero.  I was out riding in an open carriage both days, traveling from 12 to 16 miles without making stoppages, and it did not appear colder to me than it does in Ontario when the thermometer is only from 5º to 10º below zero.  During the days above mentioned I saw at several places as I was proceeding along, herds of cattle pasturing on the open prairies without shelter.

Stock Raising and Wool Growing

From experience of many years it is shewn that Manitoba and the North West are good lands for stock raising, as the grass of the Prairies is very nutritious, and the supply for many years will be inexhaustible.  Although the weather is cold, the snow, as I said before, generally comes late – yet, notwithstanding, I would consider it more profitable to cut the grass for the winter season and have the cattle and stock sheltered, than to have them run at large as is the case in the States further South, where there is scarcely any snow, but where they have damp cold winds.  It would not cost much to cut the grass with mowers,  and then to stack it in ridges or rows as I have seen it at the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Posts and on several of the stock raising farms.  These stacks so made, form a shelter around the stable yards.

I think that wool-growing would be the most profitable, as the climate is more suitable than in warmer and damper air.  The natives who have tried the experiment say that sheep do well and no disease is known amongst the flocks.  Wool is easily exported and would command nearly the same price there as it does here and in the adjoining States, where land is dear,  and where there is no hay but what is raised on the cultivated farm lands.

Another great advantage, favorable to the raising of cattle and sheep, ,is the enormous yield of Turnips, Carrots and Mangolds in Manitoba,  mentioned by me in the earlier pages of this report.

Fruit Culture

The culture of fruit, especially apples, has been entirely neglected in Manitoba hitherto; in fact there has never been a practical test made to really know whether fruit trees will flourish or not.  This is owing, probably, to there being such an abundance of wild fruit, and also to the difficulty of getting young trees for planting.  The natives are entirely unacquainted with the culture of fruit trees, as they have been bred and born without seeing any such under cultivation.  When we find so great an abundance of wild fruit in the forests, I cannot but believe that many kinds of apples would do well in Manitoba, particularly along the edge of the timber lands.  In the State of Minnesota, where the extreme snow storms prevail, and where it is fully as cold, they have very fine fruit.  I saw young apple trees of two years’ growth, raised from the seed by Mr. McKenzie,  at Rat Creek, and they looked hearty and of a large size for a two years old growth.  I would advise all settlers, once established, to plant apple seeds; the expense would be only trifling and trees grown from seed will always be better adapted to the climate.  After they have grown and have been transplanted about two years, then they should be top grafted with the hardy varieties suitable for cold climate, such as the Snow-apple (Fameuse) the Rambo, Northern Spy, Spitzenberg, Talman’s,  Sweeting, &c. &c.  I see no reason why apple trees should not thrive there, as it is not the degree of the cold that kills the trees, but the open and warm weather in the winter, thawing the earth and starting the sap;  afterwards freezing hard again to their injury.  This is not a common occurrence in Manitoba.

The wild fruit in Manitoba consists of the wild plum, grapes,  strawberries, currants, red and black raspberries, cherries, blueberries, whortleberries, ,high bush cranberries, &c., so that the emigrant need not suffer for the want of good fruit in abundance.

The Best Time For A Settler To Come

The settler should, if possible, be on his land by the 1st of June, when he would be in time to plant a batch of potatoes which will grow in an ordinary season when ploughed under the prairie sod.  The ploughing for the next Spring’s crop should be done in June or July, when the sap is in the roots of the grass; being turned over at this season of the year it will dry up and the sod will rot, so that the ground will be in proper order for receiving and rowing crops in the following Spring.

What Capital Is Necessary With Which To Commence?

This is a question frequently asked – the answer depends entirely upon surrounding circumstances.  A young man without family, willing to work and save, could secure himself a home in a few years, provided he had only ten dollars to purchase a homestead claim.  Work is to be had at high wages, and he could work for other parties part of his time, and then hire help again in turn to assist in putting up a small homestead house.  After that he could plough and fence in a few acres for a crop in the following Spring.  The next year he could earn enough to buy a yoke of oxen and other cattle, and thus, in a short time, he might become, comparatively, in independent farmer.  A settler with a family ought to have provisions for one year (or the wherewithal to procure them).

Such a one, desiring to start comfortably should have the following articles, or the means to purchase them, viz:

One yoke of oxen $120.00
One waggon 80.00
Plough and harrow 25.00
Chains, axes, shovels, &c 30.00
Stoves, beds, &c 60.00
House and stable, say 150.00
Total $465.00

A person having $800 or $1,000 can, if he wishes to carry on farming on a larger scale, purchase another quarter section in addition to his free grant, when he will have a farm of three hundred and twenty acres of land for cultivation, and in addition can cut all the hay he wants in the marshes, if he thinks it desirable.

In conclusion, I would remark that a poor man can adopt the mode of farming on a small scale for the commencement, as practiced by the half-breeds.  They have carts made of two wheels and a straight axle, with two poles fastened on the axle to form shafts, and a rack or box thereon.  To a cart so made is hitched one ox.  The cart costs about ten dollars, and the ox and harness $50 to $60.  With such a vehicle a man can do all the teaming that is required on a small farm – and after the first ploughing one ox can plough all that is required.

Advice To Emigrants Coming From Europe

I would advise German Emigrants, coming from Europe by way of New York, to put up at the German Mission House, Nos. 246 and 248 Pearl Street, corner of new Chambers Street.  This is a House specially kept for lodging and caring for Emigrants by a Religious Company, and furnishes a home to those Emigrants whilst they stay in New York – and where they may be sure of not being robbed or cheated.  All those desiring to put up at the above-mentioned House, should write before leaving Europe to the manager of it advising him of the name of the ship they intend to sail in; on its arrival there will be parties at the wharf ready to receive them and conduct them to the Home.  Their charges are one dollar and fifty cents American currency per day or five dollars per week.  Address in writing to

Messrs. F. W. Flocken
Nos. 426 and 428 Pearl Street,
New York.

I strongly recommend Manitoba as a home for German emigrants, and as they can obtain large grants of land en bloc, they can form a settlement or settlements of their own, where they can preserve their language and customs, as in the Western States of America.

* FOOTNOTE: -- The route by the St. Lawrence is by far the shortest and the best from Europe to Manitoba, or any part of the North-West of this continent.  But the advice given by Mr. Shantz may be valuable for Germans who happen to go via New York.


Dominion Lands Act

The following is a summary of the Dominion Lands Act:

As Act was passed last Session (35 Vic., cap. 23) amending and consolidating the laws and Orders in Council respecting the public lands of the Dominion.

The administration and management is to be effected through a Branch of the Department of the Secretary of State of Canada, known as “the Dominion Lands Office.”

The surveys divide the lands into quadrilateral townships, containing 36 sections of one mile square in each, together with road allowances of one chain and fifty links in width, between all townships and sections.

Each section of 640 acres is divided into half sections of 320 acres, quarter sections of 160 acres, and half quarter sections of 80 acres.  All townships and lots are rectangular.  To facilitate the descriptions for Letters of Patent of less than a half quarter section, the quarter sections composing every section in accordance with the boundaries of the same,  as planted or placed in the original survey, shall be supposed to be divided into quarter quarter sections, or 40 acres.  The area of any legal subdivision in Letters Patent shall be held to be more or less, and shall, in each case, be represented by the exact quantity as given to such subdivision in the original survey; provided that nothing in the Act shall be construed to prevent the lands upon the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, surrendered by the Indians to the late Earl of Selkirk, from being laid out in such manner as may be necessary in order to carry out the clause of the Act to prevent fractional sections or lands bordering on any rivers, lake, or other water course or public road from being divided; or such lands from being laid out in lots of any certain frontage and depth, in such manner as may appear desirable; or to prevent the subdivision of sections or other legal subdivisions into wood lots; or from describing the said lands upon the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, or such subdivisions of wood lots, for patent, by numbers according to a plan of record, or by metes and bounds, or by both, as may seem expedient.

Unappropriated Dominion lands may at present be purchased at the rate of $1.00 per acre; but no purchase of more than a section, or 640 acres, shall be made by the same person.  Payments of purchases to be made in cash.  The Secretary of State may, however,  from time to time, reserve tracts of land, as he may deem expedient, for Town or Village plots, such lots to be sold either by private sale, and for such price as he may see fit, or at public auction.  The Governor in Council may set apart lands for other public purposes, such as sites of market places, gaols, court houses,  places of public worship, burying grounds, schools, benevolent institutions, squares, and for other like public purposes.

Free grants of quarter sections, 160 acres, are made to any person who is the head of a family, or to any person not the head of a family who has attained the age of 21 years, on condition of three years’ settlement, from the time of entering upon possession, provided the limitation of quantity shall not prevent the granting of a wood lot to the same person.  When two or more persons have settled on and seek to obtain a title to the same land, the homestead right shall be in him who made the first settlement.  If both have made improvements, a division of the land may be ordered in such manner as may preserve to the said parties their several improvements.

Questions as to the homestead right arising between different settlers shall be investigated by the Local Agent of the division in which the land is situated, whose report shall be referred to the Secretary of State for decision.

Every person claiming a homestead right from actual settlement must file his application for such claim with the Local Agent, within 30 days after the date of such settlement,  if in surveyed lands; if in unsurveyed lands, within three months after such land shall have been surveyed.

No patent will be granted for land till the expiration of three years from the date of entering into possession of it.

When both parents die, without having devised the land, and leave a child or children under age, it shall be lawful for the executors (if any) of the last surviving parent, or the guardian of such child or children, with the approval of a Judge of a Superior Court of the Province or Territory in which the lands lie, to sell the lands for the benefit of the infant or infants, ,but for no other purpose; and the purchaser in such a case shall acquire the homestead right by such purchase, and on carrying out the unperformed conditions of such right, shall receive a patent for the land, upon payment of the office fees.

The title to such lands shall remain in the Crown until the issue of the patent therefore, and such lands shall not be liable to be taken in execution before the issue of the patent.

If a settler voluntarily relinquishes his claim, or has been absent from the land entered by him for more than 6 months in any one year, then the right to such land shall be forfeited.

A patent may be obtained by any person before three years, on payment of price at the date of entry, and making proof of settlement and cultivation for not less than 12 months from date of entry.

All assignment and transfers of homestead rights before the issue of the patent shall be null and void, but shall be deemed evidence of abandonment of the right.

These provisions apply only to homesteads and not to lands set apart as timber lands, or to those on which coal or minerals, at the time of entry, are known to exist.

Grazing Lands

Unoccupied Dominion lands may be leased to neighbouring settlers for grazing purposes; but such lease shall contain a condition making such land liable for settlement or for sale at any time during the term of such lease, without compensation, save by a proportionate deduction of rent, and a further condition by which, on a notice of six months, the Secretary of State may cancel the lease at any time during the term.

Unoccupied Dominion lands will be leased to neighbouring settlers for the purpose of cutting hay thereon, but not to the hindrance of the sale and settlement thereof.

Mining Lands

As respects mining lands,  no reservations of gold, silver, iron, copper or other mines or minerals will be inserted in any patent from the Crown,  granting any portion of the Dominion lands.  Any person may explore for mines or minerals on any of the Dominion public lands, surveyed or unsurveyed, and, subject to certain provisions, may purchase the same.  As respects coal lands, they cannot be taken for homesteads.

Timber Lands

Provisions are made in the Act for disposing of the timber lands so as to benefit the greatest possible number of settlers,  and to prevent any petty monopoly.  In the subdivision of townships, consisting partly of prairie and partly of timber land, such of the sections as contain islands, belts, or other tracts of timber shall be subdivided into such number of wood lots, of not less than ten and not more than twenty acres in each lot, as will afford one such wood lot to each quarter section of prairie farm in such township.

The Local Agent, as settlers apply for homestead rights in a township, shall apportion to each quarter section one of the adjacent wood lots, which shall be a free gift in connection with such homestead and in addition thereto.

Any homestead claimant who, previous to the issue of the patent, shall sell any of the timber on his claim, or on the wood lot appertaining to his claim, to saw-mill proprietors or to any other than settlers for their own private use, shall be guilty of a trespass and may be prosecuted therefore, and shall forfeit his claim absolutely.

The word timber includes all lumber, and all products of timber, including firewood or bark.

The right of cutting timber shall be put up at a bonus per square mile, varying according to the situation and value of the limit, and sold to the highest bidder by competition, either by tender or by public auction.

The purchaser shall receive a lease for 21 years, granting the right of cutting timber on the land, with the following conditions:  To erect a saw mill or mills in connection with such limit or lease, of a capacity to cut at the rate of 1,000 feet broad measure in 24 hours, for every two and a half square miles of limits in the lease,  or to establish such other manufactory of wooden goods, the equivalent of such mill or mills, and the lessee to work the limit within two years from the date thereof, and during each succeeding year of the term;

To take from every tree he cuts down all the timber fit for use, and manufacture the same into sawn lumber or some other saleable product;

To prevent all unnecessary destruction of growing timber on the part of his men, and to prevent the origin and spread of fires;

To make monthly returns to Government of the quantities sold or disposed of – of all sawn lumber, timber, cordwood, bark, &c., ,and the price and value thereof;

To pay, in addition to the bonus, an annual ground-rent of $2.00 per square mile, and further, a royalty of 5 per cent on his monthly account;

To keep correct books, and submit the same for the inspection of the collector of dues whenever required.

The lease shall be subject to forfeiture for infraction of any of the conditions to which it is subject, or for any fraudulent return.

The lessee who faithfully carries out these conditions shall have the refusal of the same limits, if not required for settlement, for a further term not exceeding 21 years, on payment of the same amount of bonus per square mile as was paid originally, and on such lessee agreeing to such conditions, and to pay such other rates as may be determined on for such second term.

The standard measure used in the surveys of the Dominion is the English measure of length.

Dues to the Crown are to bear interest, and to be a lien on timber cut on limits.  Such timber may be seized and sold in payment.

Any person cutting timber without authority on any Dominion lands, shall in addition to the loss of his labour and disbursements, forfeit a sum not exceeding $3 for each tree he is proved to have cut down.  Timber seized, as forfeited, shall be deemed to be condemned, in default of owner claiming it within one month.

Form Of Application For A Homestead Right

I,          of          do hereby apply to be entered, under the provisions of the Act respecting the Public Lands of the Dominion for quarter quarter sections numbers          and          forming part of section number          of the Township of          containing          acres, for the purpose of securing a homestead right in respect thereof.

Affidavit In Support Of Claim For Homestead Right

I, A.B., do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be), that I am over 21 years of age, and that my application for leave to be entered for lands, with a view of securing a homestead right therein, is made for my exclusive use and benefit, and that the entry is made for the purpose of actual settlement – So help me God.


Province Of Manitoba

(The following are extracts from the Pamphlet published by the Dominion Government
for the Information of Intending Emigrants.)

General Features

Westwards, in the newly acquired North West Territory, is the recently created Province of Manitoba.  It contains about 9,000,000 acres of land; but it is comparatively a speck on the map of the vast Territory out of which it has been formed.  The soil, which is mostly prairie, and covered with grass, is a deep alluvial deposit of unsurpassed richness.  It produces bountiful crops of cereals, grasses, roots and vegetables.  So rich and inexhaustible is the soil, that wheat has been cropped off the same place for forty years without manure, and without showing signs of exhaustion.  It is especially a wheat growing soil, and is believed to contain the most favorable conditions for the growth of this grain on the continent.  Pumpkins, potatoes and roots of all sorts, grow to perfection.  Strawberries, currants (red and black), ,raspberries,  plums, cherries, blueberries, whortleberries, cranberries (both bush and marsh), grow wild and in abundance.  Flax is very luxuriant.  The wild grasses of the country, which are very nutritious, are particularly favorable for stock raising of all sorts.  Cattle can be fattened in Manitoba, and driven to St. Paul without loss of weight.  There are large tracts of woods along the streams.  The beet root grows in great abundance, but the saccharine qualities of the sugar beet have not yet been tested.

Manitoba is situated in the middle of the continent, nearly equally distant between the Pole and the Equator and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Its climate gives conditions of decided heat in summer and decided cold in winter.  The snow goes away and ploughing begins in April, which is about the same time as in the older Provinces of Canada, and the Northern United States on the Atlantic Seaboard, and the North Western States of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The crops are harvested in August.  The long sunny days of summer bring vegetation of all sorts to rapid maturity.  The days are warm and the nights cool.  Autumn begins about the 20th September, and lasts till the end of November, when the regular frost sets in.  The winter proper comprises the months of December, January, February and March.  Spring comes in April.  The Summer months are part of May, June, July, August, and part of September.  In winter the thermometer sinks to thirty and forty degrees below zero; but this degree of cold in the dry atmosphere of the North West does not produce any unpleasant sensations.  The weather is not felt to be colder than that in the Province of Quebec, nor so cold as milder winters in climates where the frost,  or even a less degree of cold than frost, is accompanied with dampness.  The testimony is abundant, in fact universal, on this point.

Snow does not fall on the prairies to an average greater depth than eighteen inches, and buffaloes and horses graze out of doors all winter.  They scratch the snow off the prairie grass on which they grow fat.  Horned cattle graze out of door part of winter, but in some states of the weather they require to be brought in.  Instances are, however, stated in which horned cattle graze out all winter.

Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, ,has not at present much more than the dimensions of a large village, but it is already beginning to receive an immigration, as well from the older Provinces of the Dominion as from the United States and Europe.  It will probably, therefore, soon become a considerable town.  Navigation is about to be opened between the Red River and the head waters of the Saskatchewan, above Fort Edmonton,  near the base of the Rocky Mountains, by steamboat, a distance of over a thousand miles, as the crow flies, through prairie land of unsurpassed richness.  The route to Manitoba from Thunder Bay to Fort Garry has been very greatly improved, and the Canadian Government convey emigrants between these points for $15.  The weight of luggage which emigrants can carry over this route is, however, limited to 450 lbs. Each,  and no package must exceed 150 lbs. Weight, for convenience of transport over the portages.

It is intended to have steamers on the navigable waters of this route, during the coming season of navigation.

By the United States routes an emigrant may proceed by water to Duluth, and thence by the Northern Pacific Railway to Moorhead, a station on the Red River; whence there is steamboat navigation to Winnipeg.

There are other railway routes via St. Paul’s, which afford facilities for travel to Manitoba.

A light buggy may be driven for a thousand miles in a straight line over the open prairie, adapted to the production of wheat, ,not only in the largest quantity to the acre, but of the best quality.

This tract of country to the east of the Rocky Mountains contains under the surface of its rich prairie land, one of the largest coal fields in the world, which in some places, crops out at the surface on the banks of the rivers.  It is almost impossible to over-estimate the importance of this physical fact for the future of the Dominion.  The rivers which run east from the Rocky Mountains are rich in gold deposits; and in fact mineral wealth of almost every kind is found in this territory.


Letter from United States Consul

The subjoined letter from Mr. James W. Taylor, the United States Consul at Manitoba, is copied from a Western United States newspaper.  It is given here as the testimony of an American, in official position, for the information of his own people as to the capabilities and production of Manitoba: 

“U.S. Consulate,

“Winnipeg, B.N.A., Sept. 11, 1872

Sir, -- In response to your communication, requesting samples of the agricultural products of Manitoba for exhibition at the Minnesota State fair, I forward specimens of the wheat crops of 1871, a parcel of winter wheat harvested in 1872, some Indian corn and oats,  and a few vegetables.

“The season here is fully two weeks later than in Minnesota.  Your State Fair is earlier than usual, and the Manitoba crops are not yet threshed.  A month later it will be convenient to send a full list of the grain and vegetables of the current year.

“I will add a few words of explanation in regard to the samples herewith forwarded.

“The wheat produced by John Flett (one half bushel) was imported forty years since from England, where it was a fall or winter variety, but in course of its acclimation it has become a spring wheat, know as the English.

“It shows some signs of deterioration from constant cultivation on the same farms for nearly half a century, yet a parcel forwarded by me to the Department of Agriculture at Washington was so much esteemed that the Commissioner proposes to circulate a considerable quantity in the United States as ‘Manitoba Spring Wheat.’  Mr. Flett’s farm is on the east bank of Red River, three miles north of Fort Garry.

“I send one-third bushel spring wheat from the farm of John Matheson, in Kildoonan, (the Scotch parish), four miles north of Winnipeg, which is mainly the ‘English.’  A third variety of spring wheat may be termed ‘Minnesota Spring,’ the seed being sent by Mr. N. W. Kitson to Hon. James McKay in the winter of 1868, one-and-a-quarter bushels of which in 1869 produced 44 bushels on one acre, and has since averaged 30 bushels per acre for field cultivation.

“You will notice a few heads of bearded wheat from the farm of John Matheson, second, of Kildoonan.  They are from a field of spring wheat in 1871, which bore a considerable crop this head, although left fallow.

“I also send some heads of the ‘English Spring.’

“I invite your particular attention to the specimen of ‘Fultz Winter,’ grown in St. Boniface, by Mr. Jean Mayer, from seed furnished me by Mr. Fred. Watts, U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture.  It was sown October 2, 1871, and harvested August 10, 1872.  When the snow disappeared this spring the plants were barely visible, but they came to great perfection, and the yield was at the extraordinary rate of 72 bushels per acre.  Results signally remarkable attended the cultivation of the ‘Fultz’ wheat by Hon. James McKay,  of St. James Parish, and Mr. John Matheson.

“Encouraged by these results, the U.S. Department of Agriculture are about to distribute through this Province a liberal supply of Tappahanock and Forzelle Winter Wheat and Winter Rye.

“I am gratified to observe that Commissioner Watts will attend and address the Minnesota State Fair.  May I ask that you will personally communicate to him the thanks of the agriculturists of Manitoba for the distribution of new and valuable seeds in this Province.

“The new ears of corn sent are the squaw variety gown at the mission of Northern Minnesota.  It only reaches the height of three feet, but is very prolific.  This specimen was planted by Hugh Polson, of Kildoonan, May 15th, and gathered September 4th.

“The sheaf of ‘Fultz’ winter wheat is sent to indicate the growth and appearance of the plant.

“I have no doubt that the production of the districts far north of the line of your road will compare favorably with the results of agriculture in similar areas of North Europe.

“I am, Sir,

            “Yours truly,

                        “JAMES W. TAYLOR.”

Letter From Archdeacon McLean

This letter of Mr. Taylor was submitted by the Department of Agriculture to the Ven. Archdeacon McLean, on the occasion of a visit to Ottawa, in order to obtain his opinion, as a resident, as to the accuracy of the statements contained in it.  He replied in the following letter:

“Ottawa, 10th February, 1873.

John Lowe, Esq.,

            Secretary Department of Agriculture.

“Sir – In reference to the letter of Jas. W. Taylor, Esq., U.S. Consul at Winnipeg, on the subject of Manitoba wheat, I beg to say that the statements contained in it relative to the average yield per acre, agree fully with the results of my own observation during nearly a seven years residence in Manitoba.  There is no doubt at all that forty bushels of wheat per acre can be got in Manitoba, with ordinary care in farming.  My observations have reference only to Spring wheat.  I have not seen any efforts made to cultivate Fall wheat, although I know no reason why they should not be successful.

“With regard to ordinary kitchen vegetables, I do not think it possible to surpass the products of Manitoba.

“About the first week of October I attended an Agricultural show of the products of the Province, held at Fort Garry.  I do not remember ever seeing so fine a display of vegetables anywhere.  The potatoes, turnips, cabbages, beets, and onions, were of a size and apparent quality that indicated the very richest soil.

“Let me take the opportunity of reminding you that Manitoba is after all but a very small portion of the Great Fertile Belt of our Dominion.

“The Valley of the Upper Assiniboine with those of its affluents, the Rapid River or Little Saskatchewan, the Shed River, the Swan, and other rivers – and the valley of the Saskatchewan – stretching westward to the Rocky Mountains, contains millions upon millions of acres of soil as rich as that of the best in Manitoba, with a magnificent climate, and every requisite for securing the health and material prosperity of a vast population.

“I can speak with as much certainty of the climate and soil of those portions of the Fertile Belt, that I have not seen, as of Manitoba, where I have lived for years.

“I have made it my business to converse with Missionaries, Hudson Bay Officers, and natives of the country, who have lived for long periods in the various sections.  I have carried on this practice for a series of years, taking notes of the conversations.  I have compared from time to time one man’s statement with that of another, and I am to-day thoroughly convinced that the Saskatchewan Valley is destined to be the great field for emigration.

“The land in the Saskatchewan valley is on the whole very similar to that of Red River, though not quite so level.

“The thermometer falls lower in winter, but as there is very seldom any high wind, the cold is not much felt.

“The severe frost pulverizes the ground, and renders it easily ploughed in spring.

“Wheat grows there in great perfection, and is ready to cut from the middle to the end of August.

“The risk of early frost is chiefly confined to the neighborhood of swampy flats.  In general there is but little risk on the high ground.

“The grasshoppers that from time to time visited Red River, have never yet done any serious damage in the Saskatchewan Valley.  In 1866 they came to Carleton, but did not spread beyond fifteen miles east.  The Red River Valley has been exposed to the grasshopper in common with the prairie lands of the United States.  We have reason to believe that the liability will cease, or at least decrease very much, when a large section of the country is under cultivation.

            “I remain, Sir,

                        “Yours truly,

            “John McLean, D.D., D.C.L.,

                        “Archdeacon of Manitoba.”

Statement of Mr. G.B. Spence

The following are notes of an interview of Mr. G.B. Spence, Collector of Customs at Winnipeg, Manitoba, with the Hon. J.H. Pope, Minister of Agriculture, at his office, on the 11th February, 1873.  They are given here as further evidence respecting the productions of the soil and climate of Manitoba: 

In answer to a question from the Minster, Mr. Spence said he had been in Manitoba since the 22nd December, 1870.

Minister – What time does Spring begin there?

Mr. Spence – In 1871 the Spring opened about the 1st of April.  The river is navigable about the 23rd of April.  In 1872 the Spring set in somewhere about ten days later.  The first steamer went down early in May.

Q.        What time do farmers sow wheat there?

A.        They sow in April or May, from about the 15th or 20th of April to the 15th or 20th of May.  The Spring is shorter than it is here, ,and sets in without any breaks.

Q.        What quantity of wheat do they raise to the acre?

A.        They raise from thirty to sixty-three bushels to the acre.  Forty bushels is the average.

Q.        What is the usual weight per bushel?

A.        Sixty-two lbs.  I have been told by persons who have seen it, that wheat can be cultivated for forty years, continuously, without manure.

Q.        What about oats and barley, and root crops?

A.        The barley sown there is very fine; the oats not so good.  Buckwheat has never been tried.  Root crops are extraordinary.  Cabbage and cauliflower grow almost of their own accord.  Cabbages grow to a very large size.  Potatoes and turnips are very fine, also mangolds.  Sugar beet has never been grown, but some parties think of trying it.  Tomatoes, if they were to take the same trouble as in this country, would answer well.  Very little attention is paid to scientific farming.  The grasses have not been thoroughly tested; have seen small patches of timothy, which were very good.  The wild grasses are very good for pasturage.  There are what are called hay farms.

Q.        Do farmers house their cattle?

A.        Hundreds of cattle are never housed, and they look far better than those you see come out of barns.

Q.        Is the climate equal to that of Minnesota?

A.        The climate is much the same.

Q.        The soil?

A.        Yes.  The soil is believed to be better than that of Minnesota.  I believe there is no country where the soil is equal to it.

Q.        What time do they usually cut the grain?

A.        At the latter part of July and beginning of August.

Q.        What time does winter set in?

A.        Winter usually sets in about the first of December, sometimes a little earlier.  The snow lasts till the first of April.

Q.        How many months could you plough in?

A.        Five, if not six.  Part of April, Mary, June, July, August, September, and part of October.

Q.        As to the cold in Winter?

A.        The air is drier than it is here, and the cold is not felt so much.

Q.        What about summer?

A.        The greater part of the Summer is pretty hot.  The thermometer ranges about ninety degrees; have seen it go up to ninety-six degrees.  There is not much rain.

Q.        Supposing you were a man without means and with a family, would you go there?

A.        A man without means has a better chance there than he would have by going into bush land.  Fuel is more accessible there than in the prairie.  If you go back fifty or sixty miles you come to timber lands.

The whole of this evidence is of the same character, and to precisely the same effect, as that taken by a Committee of the Senate in 1870; a summary of which was published in a sheet for the “Information for Intending Emigrants in 1872,” a copy of which may be obtained on application to Mr. Dixon, Dominion Emigration Agent, 11 Adam Street, Adelphi, W.C., London.

Analysis of Soil By a German Chemist

The following is an analysis of the soil of the Province of Manitoba, by Professor V. Emmerling, Director of the Chemical Laboratory of the Agricultural Association of the University of Kiel, Germany.  This scientific analysis confirms in a remarkable manner the reports which have been received of the great fertility of the soil of Manitoba.

(Translation of letter to Senator Emil Klotz.)

“Kiel, 29th April, 1872.

“Hon. Senator,

            “The analysis of the Manitoba soil is now completed, ,and the result is in 100,000 parts: 

Potash  228.7
Sodium 33.8
Phosphoric Acid 69.4
Lime  682.6
Magnesia  16.1
Nitrogen  486.1

            “Yours truly,

                        (Signed) V. Emmerling

Extract from Letter of Senator Emil Klotz to Jacob E. Klotz, Agent for the Dominion Government

“After considerable delay, I succeeded in obtaining the analysis of the Manitoba soil from Professor Emmerling, Director of the Chemical Laboratory of the Agricultural Association of this place, and hope it may be of service to you.  Annexed I give you our analysis of the most productive soil in Holstein, whereby you will see how exceedingly rich the productive qualities of the Manitoba soil are, and which fully explains the fact that the land in Manitoba is so very fertile, even without manure.

“The chief nutrients are, first, nitrogen, then potash and phosphoric acid, which predominates there; but what is of particular importance is the lime contained in the soil, whereby the nitrogen is set free, and ready to be absorbed in vegetable organisms.  The latter property is defective in many soils, and when it is found defective, recourse must be had to artificial means by putting lime or marl (a clay which contains much lime) upon the same.

“According to the analysis of the Manitoba soil, there is no doubt that the farmer who desires to select for his future home a country which has the most productive soil and promises the richest harvests, no country in the world offers greater attractions than the Province of Manitoba, in the Dominion of Canada.”

Analysis of the Holstein Soil and Manitoba Soil Compared

  Holstein Soil Excess of properties
of Manitoba Soil.
Potash 30 198.7
Sodium 20 13.8
Phosphoric Acid 40 29.4
Lime 130 552.6
Magnesia 10 6.1
Nitrogen 40  446.1

(Sd.)     EMIL KLOTZ

To J.E. Klotz, Esq.
            Agent for Dominion of Canada,


Manitoba and North-West Territories

After the 10th of June next, emigrants having through tickets, will be sent from Toronto to Fort Garry, Manitoba, at the following rates: 


Adults, $5; Children under twelve years of age, half price, 150 lbs. Personal baggage free.  Extra baggage, 35 cents per 100 lbs.


Emigrants, $10; Children under twelve years, half price, 200 lbs. personal baggage free.  Extra luggage, $2.50 per 100 lbs.

Emigrants should take their own rations.  Provisions will, however, be furnished at cost price, at Shebandowan, Fort Frances, and the North-West Angle of the Lake of the Woods.


Can be had at Toronto, at the Stations of the Northern, Great Western, and Grand Trunk Railways.

Emigrants are requested to take notice, that packages of luggage are limited to 200 lbs. weight for convenience of transport on the Portages.


After 20th of June next, will be transported from Prince Arthur’s Landing to the eastern terminus of the Fort Garry road, North-West Angle,  at the rate of $2 per 100 lbs., or $40 per ton of 2,000 lbs.

Each piece or package to be of convenient size, not exceeding 300 lbs. in weight, and to be firmly bound or fastened.

Horses, Oxen, Waggons, and heavy articles, such as castings and machinery can be sent through to the same point, on giving due notice and making special arrangements for the conveyance of the same.

No wines or spirituous liquors will be taken over the route from Prince Arthur’s Landing.

By direction,


Department of Public Works,
            Ottawa, March 26th, 1873.

Documents transcribed by Darren Arndt, a 3rd-great-grand nephew of Jacob Y. Shantz.

Images of this entire booklet are now online at Our Roots.

Page last updated May 29, 2007