Can Maritimes Doctor Themselves?

HAROLD CUNNINGHAM October 15 1926

Can Maritimes Doctor Themselves?

HAROLD CUNNINGHAM October 15 1926

Can Maritimes Doctor Themselves?

HAROLD CUNNINGHAM

In a recent issue, a Maritime writer asked: “Is Canada playing fair with the Maritimes?” Mr. Cunningham, too, is from the Atlantic Provinces, but his self-examination results in a reversal of that query. There are always two sides to every question. Here is the other one.

WHAT ails the Maritimes?

That question has been asked a great many times by a great many Canadians during recent months. It was asked in a forceful article in the MacLean’s for June 1, the writer of which sought to answer his query by propounding another:

Is Canada playing fair with the Maritimes?

As a native of the Maritimes, and as one who for seven years has made an industrial and economic study of Eastern Canada, I would suggest that one of the keys, perhaps the key to the answer to the initial question, is to be found in the query:

Are the Maritimes playing fair with themselves?

Before we, as Maritimers, question the fairness of Canadians generally, we must be sure of our facts. Have all the circumstances governing our position in the Confederation pact been considered, or are we suppressing some?

Are we making the most of our own opportunities?

The people of this Dominion are indubitably fair minded. But, if we imply unsportsmanlike conduct and present our business problems to them as political issues, we will arouse a powerful opposition. This is a simple axiom of politics and, regardless of the findings of the Royal Commission, the Maritimes would be well advised to change their attitude in the near future.

What of

“Secession”?

OF LATE, there has been some talk of secession in the Maritimes.

Canadians elsewhere have been asking themselves what this talk means and they have implied that they regard it as an indication of an unfair attitude of mind on the part of the Maritimes.

So much so, that one cannot help feeling that the few who are shouting secession, and even annexation to the United States, are doing Nova Scotia and the other Maritime provinces an injury which might easily become irreparable in this generation.

There is no spirit of secession among the people of the Maritimes

to-day; certainly not in Nova Scotia where most of the noise comes from. True, there are some who harbor delightful hopes of future greatness, and love to dally with the thought of the power that comes from swaying peoples. But St. John is not New Brunswick, neither is Halifax Nova Scotia. I refer to the common everyday people of Nova Scotia whom I know from Cape North to Cape Sable.

The truth of the matter is that Miss Maritime married Mr. Canada in a rebellious mood with a view to the material things of life and not with much love in her heart. The only compensating feature of the union was the probable future size of his pocket-book. So she kept a wary eye on it and dropped her housework, which up to that time had consisted of knowing all about the

business of going down to the sea in ships. She did not keep pace with her successful husband, neither did the pocket-book produce all she knew a faithful spouse was entitled to, so she went down to the seashore and watched the ships go by, and pouted. The mood still lingers but it is no more serious to-day than that of another lady who instructed her solicitor to enter divorce proceedings against her husband.

“Does your husband treat you unkindly?” questioned the lawyer.

“Certainly not,” said the woman.

“Then,” pursued the lawyer, “why do you want a divorce?”

“I don’t actually want a divorce,” was her reply. “I merely want to apply for one, then I can judge by the kind of a fuss my husband makes whether he really cares for me or not.”

And if Mr. Canada shows just a little affection and gives the right advice in a tactful manner—well; one never knows when his wife might stop watching the ships go by and start to do her housework again. But the advice will have to be better than some she is getting right now from her charmers down by the sea shore.

The Ecomonic Causes

HE aches and the fevers which beset the Maritimes are derived from many sources, but may be broadly grouped under three classes, economic, political and psychological. The economic aches are not growing pains and have operated in unison with periodically intensive political fevers to produce psychological maladies which usually end in either exodus or death. A fine example of cause and effect.

The outstanding causes of the economic ills of the Maritimes are: Decline of power as a shipping country; decay of industries and transition of financial power to the interior; decline, or, at best, only a meagre increase, of population.

Following the industrial revolution Nova Scotians seized the opportunities offered by a tremendous ex-

pansion of world trade. They built Wooden ships by the hundreds and from 1850 to 1880 Bluenose skippers and Bluenose crews were known in every port on the seven seas. Their supremacy as seafaring men was unquestioned. But in 1832 a Nova Scotian had sent forth a steam-propelled ship to cross the Atlantic. Successful experiments with steam were being made and for what happened in subsequent years Nova Scotians have only themselves to blame. With all the basic raw materials at hand for the construction of iron ships, and with iron skippers and iron crews ready made, they stuck to the romance of the sail and the world’s shipping steamed by with toots of derision.

The decay of small industries and the transition of financial power to central Canada has also occurred since 1880. Since that time in all civilized countries there has been a realization of the advantages of large scale production and of large combinations of capital. Unfortunately nearly all Maritime industries were privately owned and it was difficult to appreciate the advantages of amalgamation—doubly important to them because of natural handicaps. On the other hand the newer industries of Upper Canada were founded at a time when the power of combined capital was understood.

Maritime industries decayed, or were lost, in the same manner as the industries of Canada would die to-day should the tariff suddenly be removed without a reciprocal action on the part of the United States. They were caught in the vortex of a new industrial development which meant g eater competition on a low cost per unit of production. Their death knell was sounded when the National Policy was announced. The “Last Best West” was opened up, population poured in by the hundreds of thousands and gradually, almost, imperceptibly, the markets and the economic power of the nation moved westward. It was an inevitable orientation and though oceans of words and floods of ink pour forth the movement will continue for some considerable time to come.

The Silver Lining

r I 'HE story is not altogether gloomy. Certain Maritime firms dealing in confectionery and textiles to-day are shipping their products from coast to coast and are carrying on an export trade as well. Despite the movement of trade along unnatural lines, despite unfavorable freight rates, these firms prospered and became nationally known. Undoubtedly sound management and a good product had much to do with their success. The noteworthy point, however, is the nature of the product. Confectionery and textiles—manufacturers of these products prospered where others with equally good products failed. Transportation is a small part of the marketing cost of confectionery and textiles. The Consumers Cordage Company, Dartmouth, have demonstrated that binder twine with its allied products can be sold anywhere in Canada.

The freight rate is a mere fraction of the price.

The moral to the Maritimes isFollow the line of least resistance in future industrial development.

Articles of light weight and highvaluescanbesoldin distant competitive markets while low-grade weightier commodities can stand only a short haul movement.

Many products can be economically manufactured in the Maritimes and sold from coast to coast. The number of luxury commodities that could be produced with proper leadership is almost unlimited. The thrifty Swiss buy cotton from the United States at a few cents a pound and sell it back to them at fifty dollars a pound in the form of

lace. The difference is nearly all labor. Nova Scotia is one of the finest flax growing countries in the world, and a development of the textile industry is not only feasible but it should be inevitable. Moderate sized linen plants can be erected to-day at small cost for machinery and equipment, and the United States is becoming dotted with them.

As Canada grows there will probably be a natural evolution of the small, branch factory system. There are to-day too many competing manufacturers in important lines, and amalgamation must come, not merely for reduction of overhead and increased purchasing power—important as they are—but, because, if the east and west line in a country of vast distances is to be successfully developed, and the present transportation waste avoided, zones of distribution must be mutually agreed upon.

Whether or not this transpires there are industrial opportunities in the Maritimes to-day. The only industries that can look to national markets, however, are those whose products can be moved west at small freight cost. For the rest they must be content with moderate prosperity and a comfortable home market of one million people. They should turn their eyes away from central Canada, produce for, and develop to the utmost extent the markets that await them in the West Indies and South America, but, until the psychology of the consumer in the Maritimes is changed, the chances are ten to one against the success of a new industry, whether it produces automobiles or mouse traps.

The Population Problem

MPHE decline of population in Prince Edward Island -1and the sapping of the natural increase in the other two provinces, referred to as the exodus, has been serious. The situation is not peculiar to the Maritimes, but has been experienced from time immemorial in other countries, and is being experienced to-day in the highly industrialized and prosperous New England States. It is axiomatic that regardless of how prosperous the Maritimes, become there will be for many years to come a natural exodus of population approximately proportionate to the increase.

Various reasons have been advanced to account for this migration of the young. While the education system

and lack of lea ship share a tain amount blame for the dus, the main sons lie œ deeper. Ther a wanderlust the blood of tl people by the and it is strange when considers the c acter of their f bears: Scots:

who fought religious free and left their loved native 1 to find it; Un Empire Loya who burned t sacred homes

treked for mar weary day

night to secure a place under the British flag; hardy ¡ men who knew every port from Shanghai to Valpara

Every Nova Scotian who looks back on his school d and numbers the comrades now scattered throughout world, can recall something of their individual ambitie Much as they varied there was always that far-av vision. The truth of the matter is that the sun never ¡ on the Bluenose breed, because almost every moth* son is born with the itch of the distant trails upon tender feet.

Most important of all, however, is that fundamen immutable law of the migrations of people—that popi tion, like water, tends to find its own level. Prince ; ward Island, the most densely populated section of Maritimes has been the only province to suffer an act loss in the last decade. But, the law is operating to-i and just as long as the Maritimes, with a populatior twenty persons to the square mile, adjoin provinces wit population of one and two to the square mile, so long ' the main stream of immigration pass them by, and so 1t; will they lose a percentage of their native born.

There is no remedy in view for this condition at present time. The crux of the matter is that th provinces are not so much declining as that they are growing. Land colonization is proceeding so slowly tl it does not amount to replacement of acreage at the pr ent time. The Maritimes hold forth to Britishers attraction of their social conditions and in so doing app to a very limited class. Social conditions do not inter the average European migrant who leaves behind social life far superior to any we can offer. When he pi up his home stakes and set out for a new country obeys the pioneering instinct in his blood—the call of 1 frontier.

Australia advertises the “Bush” and secures four hi dred thousand immigrants a year. The West adverti; the “Rolling Prairie ” and gets the bulk of the immig: tion stream to Canada. Colonists can be secured for t Maritimes, but they must be paid for and the price is great whether they are secured by advertising or providing financial assistance to land settlers.

Unfortunately the farmers, generally, are opposed bringing in more agriculturists on the ground of increi ing competition—the same fallacious reasoning used discredited labor leaders two decades ago, namely, tl the less you produce the better off you are. This spi has been fostered by so-called leaders in agriculture, soi of whom are now engaged in seeking foreign markets fo country that does not produce sufficient for home cc sumption!

Politics and Pulp Mil

T K. MUNRO in 1 • humorous political t tides sometimes states th “the people down by t sounding sea take th« politics seriously.” It worse than that. It wou require a Shakesperian P’ to depict the tragedy of ^ There are fishing coi munities where half t. population drink in promis of wharves and breakwate for six weeks. For the ne four years they wond when the material is arrive, and then they sta all over again. During tl i, recent provincial campait |ein Nova Scotia clever pub geity men on both sides i

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Can Maritimes Doctor Themselves?

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ignored the real issues, invented ridiculous slogans and appealed to the emotions and lowest instincts of the people rather than to their brains. In Queens County opposing candidates threw pulp mills at one anothers’ heads, but it is a safe guess that the River Mersey will wind its way to the sea for many a long day before its waters lap the tanks of “the largest pulp and paper mill in Eastern Canada.”

Is Canada playing fair with the Maritime Provinces? Who leased for ninetynine years six hundred thousand acres of Nova Scotia’s pulp and timber lands to be culled for export, at an annual rental of one cent per acre? Who developed hydro-electric power at a cost of millions of dollars, permitted it to fall into the hands of a corporation for one cent per kilowatt-hour, to be retailed to the citizens of Nova Scotia at approximately .ten cents per kilowatt-hour? Canadians, yes—but they were Canadians who were to be found between the Atlantic Ocean and the Province of New Brunswick.

Party lines are temporarily broken down and before they are clearly defined again leaders in the Maritimes should seize their opportunity to unite the three provinces. That way lies the fundamental solution of their political diffi-

culties and one sure way of escape from petty provincialism. There is a great need to-day for a better appreciation of the ethics of politics and Maritime newspapers could do much if they would devote more time and space to expounding sound economic views and giving leadership to higher political ideals.

Psychological Ills

PUBLIC discussion of psychological weaknesses is always dangerous but the psychological ills of the Maritimes have been so far reaching and disastrous in their effect that there is no excuse for ignoring them. Without attempting to classify or name all the maladies, some of the more important may be described as: Lack of confidence and creative imagination; a disposition to scorn private initiative and depend upon governments for everything; a pessimistic outlook that is purely mental and a suspicion of all things Maritime that has no foundation whatsoever.

Creative imagination in the Maritimes

is almost dormant. To put it more kindly,

there is inability to see business opportun-

ities and a lack of confidence in our own

capacity to produce wealth. More illus-

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trations of this have been catalogued in

the past five years than MacLean’s would

give space for. Here is one from the lips of

a successful Montreal business man.

“When I left Nova Scotia, the people in my home town were grousing about hard times. Last rummer I spent a two weeks’ vacation there and listened to the usual tale of woe. Before leaving I visited a newcomer with whom my firm had business dealings. He was a young fellow from Ontario who went there and, under the very eyes of the people in that town, bought a wood lot and cleaned up nine thousand dollars shipping hardwood to Montreal.”

Perhaps the live-wires in that town were studying forest conservation!

Here is another one. The Maritimes import hundreds of carloads of draft horses every year for the lumber woods. An American combined a lot of common sense with a little capital, bought a farm in one of the provinces, imported some heavy stock, and is now engaged in raising a small fortune. He was a subject for ridicule when he started.

And another:

Some years ago a young Englishman was induced to remain in one of the Maritimes and engage in the raising of poultry and hogs. Two months after he settled he reported that several of his neighbors had advised him that it was impossible for him to succeed, pointing to their own farms as examples of the futility of all effort. Fortunately he was reassured and returned to his farm—now one of the cosiest and most productive in the province. But for every one who remains, at least four are driven away by that pessimistic attitude.

In 1922 the representative of a large fruit distributing firm in the British Isles motored through the Annapolis Valley. His firm purchased annually four million boxes of American fruit and he was seeking shipments of apples from Nova Scotia totalling five hundred thousand packages. A four days’ trip secured him only thirty thousand boxes. The last call he made was on a young and apparently business-like warehouse manager.

“Yes,” he could give him thirty thousand barrels just as soon as they came in.

It was explained that the apples must be packed in boxes.

“Oh!” said the manager. “We always pack our apples in barrels, it’s less work.”

Needless to say the five hundred thousand boxes were secured in the Niagara Peninsula and British Columbia. Last year when fruit growers were begging for a market the same buyer landed at Halifax, passed Nova Scotia by, and bought his firm’s quota of Canadian apples elsewhere.

With seventy-five per cent, of the world’s apple consumers living in flats and small apartments, Nova Scotians still continue to pack their apples in barrels. The excuse is that they are not adapted to boxes, but a box looks better to the manager of a high class retail grocery and it takes up less room in a flat, which after all is the reason box packing came into being—But it is less work to pack them in barrels!

The finest mackerel in the world run off the Inverness coast and we still catch them with hand lines over the side of a boat. We peer with wondering eyes across a continent and see 500,000,000 bushels of golden grain harvested almost every year and forget the silver harvest of the sea. Perhaps the wealth of the fishing industry is not mysterious enough. It is more exciting to dig for gold or for Captain Kidd’s treasure.

The peculiar suspicion referred to previously is easily recognized by a Maritimer, especially a business man. It is an off-shoot of that delightful brand of socialistic philosophy which finds great amusement in taking a crack at every head that appears above the surface of mediocrity. The following example was supplied by a New England professional man.

“A splendid type of gasoline engine for farm use was manufactured by one of my neighbors in Nova Scotia. It was well built, sturdy and efficient. He charged the same price as other Canadian manufacturers because his turnover was small. Could he make a success? The typical attitude towards him was expressed by one of his neighbors. “I can buy an engine just as good in Toronto, pay the freight and get it down here for the same

price he is asking—he’s making too much money.” Another industry wilted!

WHAT is the objective of the Maritime provinces? Ask any Maritimer and the chances are about ninety-nine to one that he either cannot tell you or will not commit himself. So many targets without a bull’s-eye to shoot at have been set up within recent memory that he is bewildered. Here are a few chosen at random. National ports; grain elevators; Hebridean settlements; national coal ■ policy; dissolution of Besco; more capital : in the mining industry, industrial development; a regional tariff; control of the fisheries; larger subsidies; less taxation.

The following suggestions are advanced in addition to those made in the previous article on the Maritimes, published by | MacLean’s.

Face the facts imposed by the laws of j economics and geography. Profit by past | experience and fight with these natural forces, not against them. No country is geographically damned if its people know their powers and limitations and work in the right direction.

Governments alone cannot create prosperity. Maritimers must help themselves.

If public-men place the welfare of the | country before self or party, give capable [ leadership to its development and maintain its integrity unsullied, that is all that can be expected. If they fail in these fundamentals, replace them regardless of politics at the first opportunity.

There are enough barriers to the natural movement of trade on this continent now.

If Maritimers want to swell the exodus, get behind the move to establish a regional tariff, increase the cost of living, j which is already higher than in Ontario j and Quebec, and give all other countries an added attraction.

To speak of a “scientific utilization of the fisheries” calls up visions of highbrowed Doctors of Ichthyology. These are not needed so much in the Maritimes as a few high-browed salesmen. The Maritimes have not tried to sell fish in Canada to date—they just let people buy them.

Take one market alone. The reader may drive thirty miles through the streets of Toronto, along King, Queen, Bloor, Bathurst, or any other street, and if he can find three retail stores that sell or display fish in a manner that will attract customers, then he either has good eyesight or lacks one of the other important senses. Yet, there is money in fish! People want them. A man started five years ago selling fish and chips in a dingy little shop in a mean street in East Toronto. He’s in the same place to-day and worth $40,000. But the market is not organized and no attempt has ever been made to organize it. The Orange Growers’ Association of California did not put their product on the map by displaying oranges at the Toronto Exhibition and then patting themselves on the back through the medium of a home town reporter. They used more practical methods. It needs money and it needs faith. The former is not lacking in the Maritimers but the latter apparently is. There are objections to handling fish but they can be overcome easily. Ice, white tiles, and common sense—sanitary conditions—would work wonders. Express rates? If Maritimers have sufficient interest in their own affairs to make a real volume of fish move to Toronto or any other city they will get rates from the companies, and equipment, too. No producer ever got a special rating from a transportation company by saying: “I’ve got a good product but you will have to lose money carrying it until I get people to realize how good it is. I don’t want to spend any of my capital.” The Maritime fish industry needs nothing so much as a few scientific salesmen to apply up-to-date organization and selling principles.

No victory worth achieving in war was ever won without a knowledge and application of these fundamentals. (1) Maintenance of the objective; (2) co-operation; (3) co-ordination; (4) offensive action. Offensive action is not the least important but no successful general ever directed it against units of his own army.

These are four of the eight great principles of war. If the Maritimes try them out for just twenty-five years there will be no gainsaying their proud position in the van of Canadian progress.

This is the first of two articles by Mr. Cvmningham. The second will appear in an early issue—The Editor.