CHAPTER EIGHTEEN. THROUGH CANADA HOME

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We left Buffalo, Saturday the 20th, at four o'clock for St. Catharines. At the Bridge we were delayed a short time by customs formalities.

In going out of the States it is necessary to enter the machine for export and return, otherwise on coming in again the officials on our side will collect duty on its full value.

On crossing to the Canadian side, it is necessary to enter the machine and pay the duty of thirty per cent. on its valuation. The machine is entered for temporary use in Canada, under a law providing for the use of bicycles, hunting and fishing outfits, and sporting implements generally, and the port at which you intend to go out is named; a receipt for the duty deposited is given and the money is either refunded at the port of exit or the machine is simply identified by the officials, and remittance made upon returning the receipt to the port of entry.

It is something of a bother to deposit thirty per cent. upon the valuation of an automobile, but the Canadian officials are obliging; and where it is clearly apparent that there is no intention of selling the machine in the province, they are not exacting as to the valuation; a two-thousand-dollar machine may be valued pretty low as second-hand. If, however, anything should occur which would make it desirable to leave or sell the machine in Canada, a re-entry at full market valuation should be made immediately, otherwise the machine is - very properly - subject to confiscation.

Parties running across the river from Buffalo for a day's run are not bothered at all. The officials on both sides let the machines pass, but any one crossing Canada would better comply with all regulations and save trouble.

It was six o'clock when we arrived at St. Catharines. The Wendell Hotel happens to be a mineral water resort with baths for invalids, and therefore much better as a hotel than most Canadian houses; in fact, it may be said once for all, that Canadian hotels, with the exception of two or three, are very poor; they are as indifferent in the cities as in the smaller towns, being for the most part dingy and dirty.

But what Canada lacks in hotels she more than makes up in roads. Miles upon miles of well-made and well-kept gravel roads cross the province of Ontario in every direction. The people seem to appreciate the economy of good hard highways over which teams can draw big loads without undue fatigue.

We left St. Catharines at nine o'clock Sunday morning, taking the old Dundas road; this was a mistake, the direct road to Hamilton being the better. Off the main travelled roads we found a good deal of sand; but that was our fault, for it was needless to take these little travelled by-ways. Again, out of Hamilton to London we did not follow the direct and better road; this was due to error in directions given us at the drug store where we stopped for gasoline.

Gasoline is not so easily obtained in Canada as in the States; it is not to be had at all in many of the small villages, and in the cities it is not generally kept in any quantity. One drug store in Hamilton had half-a-dozen six-ounce bottles neatly put up and labelled "Gasoline: Handle with Care;" another had two gallons, which we purchased. The price was high, but the price of gasoline is the very least of the concerns of automobiling.

On the way to London a forward spring collapsed entirely. Binding the broken leaves together with wire we managed to get in all right, but the next morning we were delayed an hour while a wheelwright made a more permanent repair.

Monday, the 22d, was one of the record days. Leaving London at half-past nine we took the Old Sarnia Gravel for Sarnia, some seventy miles away. With scarcely a pause, we flew over the superb road, hard gravel every inch of it, and into Sarnia at one o'clock for luncheon.

Over an hour was spent in lunching, ferrying across the river, and getting through the two custom-houses.

Canada is an anachronism. Within the lifetime of men now living, the Dominion will become a part of the United States; this is fate not politics, evolution not revolution, destiny not design. How it will come about no man can tell; that it will come about is as certain as fate.

With an area almost exactly that of the United States, Canada has a population of but five millions, or about one-fifteenth the population of this country. Between 1891 and 1901 the population of the Dominion increased only five hundred thousand, or about ten per cent., as against an increase of fourteen millions, or twenty-one per cent., in this country.

For a new country in a new world Canada stagnates. In the decade referred to Chicago alone gained more in population than the entire Dominion. The fertile province of Ontario gained but fifty-four thousand in the ten years, while the States of Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, which are near by, gained each nearly ten times as much; and the gain of New York, lying just across the St. Lawrence, was over twelve hundred thousand. The total area of these four States is about four-fifths that of Ontario, and yet their increase of population in ten years more than equals the entire population of the province.

In population, wealth, industries, and resources Ontario is the Dominion's gem; yet in a decade she could attract and hold but fifty-odd thousand persons, - not quite all the children born within her borders.

All political divisions aside, there is no reason in the world why population should be dense on the west bank of the Detroit River and sparse on the east; why people should teem to suffocation to the south of the St. Lawrence and not to the north.

These conditions are not normal, and sooner or later must change. It is not in the nature of things that this North American continent should be arbitrarily divided in its most fertile midst by political lines, and by and by it will be impossible to keep the multiplying millions south of the imaginary line from surging across into the rich vacant territory to the north. The outcome is inevitable; neither diplomacy nor statecraft can prevent it.

When the population of this country is a hundred or a hundred and fifty millions the line will have disappeared. There may be a struggle of some kind over some real or fancied grievance, but, struggle or no struggle, it is not for man to oppose for long inevitable tendencies. In the long run, population, like water, seeks its level; in adjacent territories, the natural advantages and attractions of which are alike, the population tends strongly to become equally dense; political conditions and differences in race and language may for a time hold this tendency in check, but where race and language are the same, political barriers must soon give way.

All that has preserved Canada from absorption up to this time is the existence of those mighty natural barriers, the St. Lawrence and the great lakes. As population increases in the Northwest, where the dividing line is known only to surveyors, the situation will become critical. Already the rush to the Klondike has produced trouble in Alaska. The aggressive miners from this side, who constitute almost the entire population, submit with ill-grace to Canadian authority. They do not like it, and Dawson or some near point may yet become a second Johannesburg.

In all controversies so far, Canada has been as belligerent as England has been conciliatory. With rare tact and diplomacy England has avoided all serious differences with this country over Canadian matters without at the same time offending the pride of the Dominion; just how long this can be kept up no man can tell; but not for more than a generation to come, if so long.

So far as the people of Canada are concerned, practically all would be opposed to any form of annexation. The great majority of the people are Englishmen at heart and very English in thought, habit, speech, and accent; they are much more closely allied to the mother country than to this; and they are exceedingly patriotic.

They do not like us because they rather fear us, - not physically, not as man against man, - but overwhelming size and increasing importance, fear for the future, fear what down deep in their hearts many of them know must come. Their own increasing independence has taught them the sentimental and unsubstantial character of the ties binding them to England, and yet they know full well that with those ties severed their independence would soon disappear.

Michigan roads are all bad, but some are worse than others.

About Port Huron is sand. Out of the city there is a rough stone road made of coarse limestone; it did not lead in the direction we wished to go, but by taking it we were able to get away from the river and the lake and into a country somewhat less sandy.

Towards evening, while trying to follow the most direct road into Lapeer, and which an old lady said was good "excepting one hill, which isn't very steep," we came to a hill which was not steep, but sand, deep, bottomless, yellow sand. Again and again the machine tried to scale that hill; it was impossible. There was nothing to do but turn about and find a better road. An old farmer, who had been leaning on the fence watching our efforts, sagely remarked:

"I was afeard your nag would balk on that thar hill; it is little but the worst rise anywhere's about here, and most of us know better'n to attempt it; but I guess you're a stranger."

We dined at Lapeer, and by dark made the run of eighteen miles into Flint, where we arrived at eight-thirty. We had covered one hundred and forty miles in twelve hours, including all stops, delays, and difficulties.

It was the Old Sarnia Gravel which helped us on our journey that day.

At Flint another new chain was put on, and also a rear sprocket with new differential gears. The old sprocket was badly worn and the teeth of the gears showed traces of hard usage. A new spring was substituted for the broken, and the machine was ready for the last lap of the long run.

Leaving Flint on Friday morning, the 26th, a round-about run was made to Albion for the night. The intention was to follow the line of the Grand Trunk through Lansing, Battle Creek, and Owosso, but, over-persuaded by some wiseacres, a turn was made to Jackson, striking there the old State road.

The roads through Lansing and Battle Creek can be no worse than the sandy and hilly turnpike. Now and then a piece of gravel is found, but only for a short distance, ending usually in sand.

On Saturday the run was made from Albion to South Bend. As far as Kalamazoo and for some distance beyond the roads were hilly and for the most part sandy, - a disgrace to so rich and prosperous a State.

Through Paw Paw and Dowagiac some good stretches of gravel were found and good time was made. It was dark when we reached the Oliver House in South Bend, a remarkably fine hotel for a place of the size.

The run into Chicago next day was marked by no incident worthy of note. As already stated, the roads of Indiana are generally good, and fifteen miles an hour can be averaged with ease.

It was four o'clock, Sunday, September 28, when the machine pulled into the stable whence it departed nearly two months before. The electricity was turned off, with a few expiring gasps the motor stopped.

Taking into consideration the portions of the route covered twice, the side trips, and making some allowance for lost roads, the distance covered was over twenty-six hundred miles; a journey, the hardships and annoyances of which were more, far more, than counterbalanced by the delights.

No one who has not travelled through America on foot, horseback, or awheel knows anything about the variety and charm of this great country. We traversed but a small section, and yet it seemed as if we had spent weeks and months in a strange land. The sensations from day to day are indescribable. It is not alone the novel sport, but the country and the people along the way seemed so strange, possibly because automobiling has its own point of view, and certainly people have their own and widely varying views of automobiling. In the presence of the machine people everywhere become for the time-being childlike and naive, curious and enthusiastic; they lose the veneer of sophistication, and are as approachable and companionable as children. Automobiling is therefore doubly delightful in these early days of the sport. By and by, when the people become accustomed to the machine, they will resume their habit of indifference, and we shall see as little of them as if we were riding or driving.

With some exceptions every one we met treated the machine with a consideration it did not deserve. Even those who were put to no little inconvenience with their horses seldom showed the resentment which might have been expected under the circumstances. On the contrary, they seemed to recognize the right of the strange car to the joint use of the highway, and to blame their horses for not behaving better. Verily, forbearance is an American virtue.

The machine itself stood the journey well, all things considered. It lacked power and was too light for such a severe and prolonged test; but, when taken apart to be restored to perfect condition, it was astonishing how few parts showed wear. The bearings had to be adjusted and one or two new ones put in. A number of little things were done, but the mechanic spent only forty hours' time all told in making the machine quite as good as new. A coat of paint and varnish removed all outward signs of rough usage.

However, one must not infer that automobiling is an inexpensive way of touring, but measured by the pleasure derived, the expense is as nothing; at the same time look out for the man who says "My machine has not cost me a cent for repairs in six months."

It is singular how reticent owners of automobiles are concerning the shortcomings and eccentricities of their machines; they seem leagued together to deceive one another and the public. The literal truth can be found only in letters of complaint written to the manufacturers. The man who one moment says his machine is a paragon of perfection, sits down the next and writes the factory a letter which would be debarred the mails if left unsealed. Open confession is good for the soul, and owners of automobiles must cultivate frankness of speech, for deep in our innermost hearts we all know that a machine would have so tried the patience of Job that even Bildad the Shuhite would have been silenced.

In the year 1735 a worthy Puritan divine, pastor over a little flock in the town of Malden, made the following entries in his diary:

"January 31. - Bought a shay for L27 10s. The Lord grant it may be a comfort and a blessing to my family.

"March, 1735. - Had a safe and comfortable journey to York.

"April 24. - Shay overturned, with my wife and I in it; yet neither of us much hurt. Blessed be our generous Preserver! Part of the shay, as it lay upon one side, went over my wife, and yet she was scarcely anything hurt. How wonderful the preservation.

"May 5. - Went to the Beach with three of the children. The beast being frighted, when we were all out of the shay, overturned and broke it. I desire it (I hope I desire it) that the Lord would teach me suitably to repent this Providence, and make suitable remarks on it, and to be suitably affected with it. Have I done well to get me a shay? Have I not been proud or too fond of this convenience? Do I exercise the faith in the divine care and protection which I ought to do? Should I not be more in my study and less fond of diversion? Do I not withhold more than is meet from pious and charitable uses?

"May 15. - Shay brought home; mending cost thirty shillings. Favored in this beyond expectation.

"May 16. - My wife and I rode to Rumney Marsh. The beast frighted several times.

"June 4. - Disposed of my shay to Rev. Mr. White."

Moral. - Under conditions of like adversity, let every chauffeur cultivate the same spirit of humility, - and look for a Deacon White.