CHAPTER EIGHTEEN. THROUGH CANADA HOME
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.