Industry Tames a Torrent
The Indian called the Saguenay the River of Death. Today, it is the River of Life for the sprouting cities of a new North in the making
HARVEY B. CAMPBELL
THE Indians call the Saguenay, the River of Death. The Jesuits, who give us that translation of the word, offer no suggestion as to why the natives called it that. Possibly the blue-black waters of the lower Saguenay, hemmed-in by giant cliffs, and bubbling with currents that rise from great depths, roused some vague fear in the superstitious minds of the Indians. More probably, it was their familiarity with the swirling, white water of the upper Saguenay that made them brand the river with so sinister a name.
For there are two distinct parts to the Saguenay. The first seventy miles up from Tadousac, where the river enters the St. Lawrence, to Chicoutimi, is one of the most popular tourist routes in Canada.
That is the Saguenay of Romance.
The cliffs are very high, and the water is very deep. Ever since Champlain first sailed its waters in 1608, white men have thrilled to the majestic beauty of this mighty stream. It is one of the scenic wonders of the continent.
Above Chicoutimi, however, the thrills which the Saguenay offers are for engineers and sportsmen.
The word ‘Chicoutimi’ means, ‘It
is deep up to here’, and ocean-going craft ride in on the sixteen-foot tide to dock there and unload. Small craft can ply their trade eight miles farther up, as far as the mouth of the Shipshaw, but the twenty-seven miles of river between the Shipshaw and Lake St. John are—or
used to be— one long rapids of frothing water which no small boat could ride.
The Saguenay takes its rise in Lake St. John. Lake St. John lies a hundred and twenty miles or so north of the city of Quebec. One never sees it advertised among the summer resorts, though it unquestionably possesses all the attractions usually connected with such modern institutions. Possibly there is no other place in Canada where two men could hook two hundred and fifty of the gamest trout alive in one day, as was done here last summer; but advertising Lake St. John is like advertising Lake Ontario. I have been north, south, east, and west of it, and from no point of vantage which I can discover can one see to the other shore. It has a drainage area of more than thirty thousand square miles, and forty named rivers pour their waters into its bed.
Strictly speaking, there are two outlets to Lake St. John, La Petite Decharge, and La Grande Decharge; but these two rivers, with the island of Alma lying between them, unite nine miles from the lake to form one stream, the Saguenay. The Little Discharge—which is
the poor best English can do withthe resonant French name for the river—is a considerable river, even at low water, but not one to offer any serious obstacles to an engineering project. The Grand Discharge, however, with its rush and froth, and its rocky islands on the foot of man had—literally never trod, has always been considered unconquerable. Yet, it is probably true that every engineer who ever saw the Grand Discharge has dreamed of a day when that •»atewould be harnessed, and its power put to use.
One man there was who loved that river more than any other, and visioned what the conquest of the Saguenay might mean to the Saguenay country, ar.d to its people as a whole.
That man was Sir William Frice.
The Father of the Saguenay'
"THE First William Price came to Canada in 1510, looking for e British Navy. When >n;c wars were finally apoleon’s retirement on pension to St. Helena. Mr. Price returned to the Saguenay country where he had found the masts, and began lumbering operations on the 5:. Marguerite River. He was ‘The Father of the Saguenay'. When he died in 1867, he handed on to his sons, who in turn passed on to their nephew, the late Sir William Price, something more than the control of vast timber areas, a passionate love for the country and for its people.
Go into almost any French Canadian home along the Saguenay, and you will hear them tell with beaming faces that for two, three, generations the men of that family ail have worked for ‘Mr. Price’, and that this
winter ‘maybe four, six, boy go on de bush for heem.’ Perhaps, if you stay long enough, you will hear a story of other days, when there were no stalwart sons to go and earn good pay, and when the bread-earner of the family had nearly amputated a foot with his axe, and things would have been bad, bad, if it had not been for ‘Mr. Willie’.
A monument stands on a high hill in Chicoutimi, erected by the French Canadians to ‘The Father of the Saguenay’, and to his illus-
trious grandson; but the epitaph which is undying is that written by these two men upon the life of the habitants, and along every mile of the river they loved.
The Price brothers were—andaré—lumbermen. A few years before the war, however, William Price— the knighthood was conferred after the war—became interested in the pulp and paper business. A group of men at .Jonquiere, twelve miles above Chicoutimi, had organized a company and built a mill for the manufacture of wood-
pulp. Their venture was not a success. They mortgaged their farms to keep the mill going, but in the end they had to appeal to Mr. Price for help. They wanted him to become part of the organization, but Mr. Price had his own ways of doing things, and simply said—in effect: ‘No, gentlemen! You wouldn’t like my way of taking authority into my own hands. If you want to sell, I will buy.”
William Price might have had the Jonquiere mill for fifteen cents on the dollar, but the simple fact is that, for the sake of the men whose all was tied up in it, he offered and paid one hundred cents on the dollar, fully expecting to run the mill at a loss, if at all. A manager was sent in with instructions to see what he could do with it. He made it pay, and very shortly Price Brothers had launched out in a new direction—pulp and paper.
The Jonquiere mill was built in 1900, and since that time the developments of the pulp and paper industry, and side by side with that, the hydro-electric developments, have been little less than amazing.
While the industry was still young, a paper mill was built on the Au Sable River, just below Jonquiere, and the town of Kenogami came into being. That mill developed a capacity for more than 500 tons a day of newsprint paper. Then the Chicoutimi Pulp Company constructed a plant at Chicoutimi which is able still to produce a greater tonnage of wood pulp than any other mill in the world. Later, a sulphite mill of sixty tons, capacity was erected at Desbiens on Lake St. John, and in 1917 the Ha Ha Bay ’Sulphite Company began operating at Port Alfred an up-to-date mill with a daily capacity of 160 tons. Port Alfred is at the head of Ha Ha Bay some fifteen miles below Chicoutimi.
Within the last year and a half, still further developments have taken place. Price Brothers and Company built at River Bend, on the Island of Alma at the outlet from Lake St. John, a newsprint mill of 200 tons capacity, which is in process of being enlarged to 400 tons. The Port Alfred Pulp and Paper Corporation have added four large newsprint machines to the sulphite plant of the former Ha Ha Bay Company. At Desbiens, a modernized plant is now operating and on the other side of Lake St. John, the Lake St. John Power and Paper Company is constructing a 300-ton mill for which the Canadian National Railways is this year building a thirty-mile spur line. With the building of these mills, and the growth of large centres of population, the work of harnessing the waste water began. Minor projects had previously been undertaken, mostly for saw-mills which operated directly from their own turbines. The r.ew developments were hydro-electric. The Chicoutimi River, for instance, was dammed four times within four miles of the city of that name, developing a total of 48,000 horsepower of electric energy. The Au Sable which runs through Jonquiere and Kenogami, was dammed three times in a single mile,
and another 38,000 horsepower was put to use. The Shipshaw, coming into the Saguenay from the north, was dammed twice, first at Chute Murdock, and later at Chute aux Galets, to provide another 26,000 horsepower. A development on the Metabetchouan, one of the rivers draining into Lake St. John, in the season of over-flows, provides a spectacle that can be witnessed many miles away; while the latest undertaking on the Grand Discharge is ‘the largest single installation of water-power ever undertaken’.
The story of this last project goes back a number of years.
Brains, Capital and Courage
A MONG the many engineers who looked at the mighty Saguenay, and pondered what might be done to harness it, was one known to the iron trade as ‘Carbide’ Wilson. He came to conclusions of his own about the matter, and secured holdings at strategic points both along the Shipshaw, and along the Saguenay itself. With such resources as he could muster, he undertook to develop part of the power going to waste along the Shipshaw. But even small power developments require large resources, and Wilson found himself unable to finish alone what he had begun. He appealed fo assistance to James Buchanan Duke, the American ‘Tobacco King’.
Now Mr. Duke had a strange hobby. He made a game of developing water-power. He came to see the Wilson holdings on the Shipshaw—and went away with the noise of the Saguenay sounding in his ears. He bought the Wilson holdings outright, because in this thing which was not business but play for him he preferred a lone hand, and because secretly hp had set himself the task of conquering the Saguenay.
Mr. Duke seems to have realized quite early that, mighty as were his resources, here was one game he could not play alone. He sought out William Price.
These two men, each a tremendous force in the financial life of his own nation, were as unlike in temperament as they were in their business methods. Yet, almost from their first meeting, they became fast friends. To the end they remained so, and those who were very near to both of them say that they often settled agreements involving millions of money by word of mouth
alone, and without writings or documents of any sort.
The undertaking required a great deal of courage on the part of its promoters. In the first place, it remained to be seen whether or not the Saguenay was ‘unconquerable’. In the second place, there was no sale for the power. Price Brothers and Co. were ready to sign contracts for a certain amount of power for a long term of years, and the Port Alfred Pulp and Paper Corporation was another prospective customer. In the end, the Aluminum Company of America was induced to establish
an electro-chemical plant for the manufacture of pig aluminum at Arvida, a new location between Jonquiere and Chicoutimi. But the undertaking was almost complete before customers were finally secured. It was taking a chance, but then both men had confidence in their business judgment. Mr. Price had unbounded faith in the future of the Saguenay country, and Mr. Duke had learned that those who need power will come where it is to be had, especially, if it is cheap.
The Battle With the River
r"PHE first soundings along the Saguenay were taken more than ten years before work was actually begun, and in the end it was not the 'Chute a Caron development near the mouth of the Shipshaw that was undertaken— this site had first attracted Mr. Duke—but an alternative enterprise on the Grand Discharge.
The last and largest of the islands in Grand Discharge
is Ile Maligne, Malicious Isle. It is a massive rock, a mile and a half long, and roughly heart-shaped, which divides the river into two channels. Here, at the lower end of He Maligne, and across the left channel, it was decided to build the new power house.
The plan was an exceeding daring one.
In the spring, the water from ten thousand hills rushes down into Lake St. John raising the lake level seventeen and a half feet, on an average, above normal. It is estimated that two hundred billion cubic feet of water are held in storage there until it can empty itself down the Saguenay. The rushing torrents of April and May gradually diminish until, by the end of February, the lake has fallen to its lowest level.
The scheme proposed by the Duke-Price engineers was simply to build a series of spillways which would enable them to control that water and use it for making electric power, instead of allowing it to run away'.
The Little Discharge was blocked at Lake St. John without difficulty. Four spillways and the powerhouse were erected on the Ile Maligne. Ten generators were installed with a total capacity of 450,000 horsepower. And when two more generators have been put to work, ‘the largest single installation of water power ever undertaken’ will be complete. It was a stupendous accomplishment.
The Grand Discharge fought viciously every step of the way. It had a reputation to maintain, and it had strong allies to help it—flood, cold, and storm. Many' of the most difficult engineering schemes could be under-
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Industry Tames a Torrent
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taken only when the water was at its lowest level, which was in February and March, when the cold was intense, and when the mist and winds caused severe suffering to workmen. Cement, too, was very difficult to handle, but water and sand were heated with care, and the great buckets of concrete were hurried from the mixing plant to their destination, covered with boards that smoked with live steam.
The most spectacular bit of work, as it is to-day the most spectacular piece of scenery, was the construction of Spillway Number Four. Thus is designated the enormous cement work calculated to close the right channel of the river at lie Maligne and turn all the water down the left channel to the power house.
An island, called Barnable Island, lay ‘back stage’, right opposite the proposed location of the spillway. It was a simple matter to throw a coffer-dam from the mainland to the upper end of Barnable Island, and it was hoped that the gap between Ile Maligne and the down stream end of Barnable could be closed with rock fill. It was not to be so. Up to this time the Grand Discharge had been obedient and well-behaved; now for the first time, it began to show its teeth. Day after day the game went on; rocks that weighed eight, ten and twelve tons were dropped from great cranes, and were swept aside like straws. Finally, a train of flat cars was made up, loaded with great buckets of cement, and the whole thing was sent roaring into the gap. It would not do. As if it were conscious that here it must win or lose its battle, the Grand Discharge refused to surrender its hold on this channel which it had used since the morning of time; and train, buckets and all, was swished away to some undiscovered hole in the river’s bed.
One Hundred Tons of Explosives in One Blast
A LIP of rock thrusts out from lie Maligne towards Barnable Island at the very place where efforts were being made to close the channel. This rocky cape suggested a way out of the difficulty. Beginning at the centre, and moving towards the water at either end, a canal was dug, thirty feet deep, 500 feet long, and from 100 to 150 feet wide. In the centre of the canal big cement piers were constructed, so that, once a flow of water had been established, it easily could be controlled by ordinary square timbers placed against these piers. The canal was pushed as near as possible to the water’s edge at either end. Then tunnels were dug down beneath the river bed. These tunnels were packed with more than a hundred tons of explosives, and on October 27, 1925, the whole thing went up in one terrific blast which cleared both ends of the canal. About 35,000 cubic yards of sand had been poured over the cement piers to protect them from damage, and in twenty-five minutes after the inrushing water had made a break in the sand not a trace or sign of its ever having been there remained.
The blast was the largest that had ever been set off in Canada—the largest so far as was known—and it was witnessed by engineers from all parts of the continent. It was a complete success. Both ends of the canal were completely cleared of rock. As the water rushed in, the pressure in the old channel was relieved, and the gap between the piers and Barnable Island easily was filled with rocks. When the rock-fill was complete, stop-logs were set on the up-stream side of the piers, and the river was under control.
With the utmost speed, the work on Spillway Number Four was rushed to completion, for only a little over four months remained till the water would begin to rise again. Wherever there was
moisture, there ice would form, and it had to be picked off chunk by chunk, or melted off with steam. At the bottom of the ancient river-bed a great fissure opened up to a depth of nearly twenty feet. With care every last handful of gravel was removed from the narrow crack at the bottom. Haste was necessary, but more necessary than haste was carefulness, lest in the end the river should win the victory.
Number Four was ready when the spring floods came down. The gates were closed for a time, until the ‘head’ at the power-house rose to 110 feet. Then the gates were opened again. The last time I saw Number Four, all twelve gates were open. Each gate is forty-two feet wide, and the water that was flowing through was eighteen feet deep. Let mathematicians figure that out. All I know is that from the swing-bridge in front of it, it was the most tremendous spectacle I have ever witnessed.
The Grand Discharge went down to defeat. Where swirled the ugly, white waters which gave the Saguenay its name, now shimmers the smooth surface of a lake. Sir William Price and James B. Duke are both dead, one of them tragically sucked down into that very river which he conspired to defeat. But the splendid accomplishment at Ile Maligne will witness continually to the courage of these two men who risked millions in a great business venture, and to the genius of William States Lee, and F. H. Cothran, the engineers who did the work.
And the Power Is Cheap
THE power at Ile Maligne has been described as ‘the cheapest power in the world’. Such a statement as that could never be supported with figures, of course, but it is certain that in comparison with installations elsewhere, the cost has-been ‘small’.
Perhaps the nearest the public will ever know about the amount of money spent at Ile Maligne is that the development cost ‘somewhat less than one hundred dollars per installed horse-power’. But consider what that means. Two generators are yet to be installed; when they are in operation, a total of 540,000 horsepower will be available. It represents an investment, at most, of $54,000,000, and as a minimum—supposing the cost to be only seventy dollars pet installed horsepower—of $37,800,000. As a matter of fact the bond issue of 1926, which did not cover the whole value of the plant, of course, was for thirty-seven million dollars.
The project was undertaken by Mr. Duke and Sir William Price under the name of the Quebec Development Company. When operation began, the plant was taken over by a new organization called The Duke-Price Power Company. It still operates under that name. But last summer a redisposition of the stock gave the Aluminum Company of America a controlling interest, and made the Shawinigan Power Company a strong shareholder, as well as the Duke and Price estates. Shawinigan Power is taking about a third of the available power. The other two thirds is being used by the Aluminum Company in Arvida, and by the various pulp and paper plants along the Saguenay.
This spring the task of widening the Grand Discharge at the lake intake was successfully completed by the explosion of the largest blast of dynamite ever fired. The success of the operation at the rockfill on Ile Maligne in 1925 suggested the means by which the widening of the river channel might be accomplished. Tunnels, bored far beneath the river-bed, were packed with 150 tons of high-explosive,
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and the whole charge was set off on
Transporting the Wilderness
THE net result of all that I have related is the creation here, in this isolated corner of Quebec, of what someone has fancifully called ‘the Kingdom of the Saguenay’. The Lake St. John country was the most remote backwoods area in the province. Until this year, no road came in from ‘out front’. One must travel nearly two hundred miles by water, and more than that by rail, to get to Chicoutimi from Quebec. Yet, into this, the most isolated part of the province, and into the midst of the most conservative people in the Dominion, modern industry has come with a rush.
. Now, the Saguenay district is no longer isolated. Less than twelve hours after one hands ones bags to a pullman porter in Montreal, one wakes at Chambord to see the clear waters of Lake St. John stretching off to a shimmering horizon. Two trains a day leave Quebec for Chicoutimi, 230 miles away; and the Lake St. John country itself is served by six trains daily, to say nothing of modern motor-buses by which one can travel all the way from Port Alfred on Ha Ha Bay, 250 miles around the lake by Roberval and Peribonka, with speed and comfort, and surprisingly little cost. If one is lucky, one may be waited on at the little restaurant in Peribonka by Maria Chapdelaine herself.
Nor is the Saguenay country any longer a wilderness. Excellent roads, prosperous farms, clean and thriving villages, are everywhere.. One gets a peculiar feeling of being in the very heart of the nation. Motors pass the little road-side restaurant someone has set up on the Chicoutimi road, more than a mile from Arvida, at the rate of eight a minute on Sundays. On every hand are signs of prosperity, the unmistakable signs of well-dressed women, carefully groomed men, expensive motor cars, engrossing social activities, and—bootleggers.
The population of the district, within two years, has been tremendously increased. The little town of St. Joseph d’Alma on the Little Discharge, two miles from Ile Maligne, consisted five years ago—according to a native with whom I talked—of ‘six houses and a church’. Now, its population, with River Bend, must be close to four thousand. Jonquière and Kenogami, living ‘cheek by jowl’, as it were, numbered, last year, 17,500 people. Chicoutimi’s latest census registered over 13,000. Port Alfred, with Bagotville on its left, and Grande Baie on its right, shelters over seven thousand souls. And Arvida, where the first board was sawed on the town-site on June 21,1926, now has a town population of over two thousand. It is only a matter of time until Port Alfred, in a setting of the wildest beauty at the head of a harbor that could shelter the entire British navy will become a town of considerable size and importance. About the lake itself there are, of course, numerous other communities that are both populous and thriving.
On the lower reaches of the Saguenay, pleasure steamers no longer sail alone. Great ocean-going freighters piled high, outside and inside, with yellowish bundles that look like half-bales of straw but are wood pulp, keep them company. And with the pulp ships have come other freighters which nose their way up stream to Port Alfred, laden with ore from far-off British Guiana. And that brings us to another story—the story of the coming of the Aluminum Company of America to the Saguenay.
The Aluminum City
HOW came this organization, which is financed by American capital, to locate a plant nearly one hundred miles up the Saguenay River in the Province of Quebec?
The answer is, cheap power. When James B. Duke and Sir William Price
joined forces to undertake the He Maligne project, they realized that they must find purchasers for their power. Even the enormous pulp and paper developments taking place along the Saguenay could not use more than a third of that power, and it was necessary to induce other users of electricity to come where cheap power was to be found.
Mr. Duke succeeded in interesting the Aluminum Company of America in the possibility of establishing a plant for the manufacture of pig aluminum in Quebec. As a result, there has come into being Arvida, the Aluminum City. (The word ‘Arvida’ is a composite from the name ARthur VIning DAvis, president of the company.) Here, two and a quarter miles from Kenogami on the road to Chicoutimi a huge plant has been built, and a beginning made of a model town that ultimately may provide accommodation for as many as thirty thousand people.
The manufacture of aluminum requires not only a large amount of electric power, but also close proximity to the source of that power. The Ile Maligne power-plant is twenty-five miles away, but the plan is to draw power from He Maligne only until such time as the developments at Arvida demand the completion of the famous Chute à Caron project, only two miles distant. Meantime, approximately a third of the power available at Ile Maligne is being used at Arvida in the manufacture of pig aluminum.
The credit for having brought into being the Aluminum Company of Canada (for their Canadian operations are carried on under that name) has been given to Premier Taschereau. The Taschereau government does not allow power to be exported from the province; therefore the Aluminum Company, which needed the power, came to Quebec. That states the situation fairly, it would seem. Many other factors undoubtedly entered into the equation, transportation, labor costs, and even tariff considerations. But the determining influence was undoubtedly the fact that nowhere else on the continent could good labor and cheap power be found so close to an ocean port in such quantity as the program of the Aluminum Company called for.
The power house at Isle Maligne began to operate in April of 1925. That summer, construction began on the factory in Arvida. Town-site construction did not begin until the following year. Two hundred and seventy houses were erected, and now some two thousand people are housed in the town which has a city charter, and is generally—and properly— called ‘The City of Arvida’.
Building a City to Order
'"PHE Aluminum Company might have ^ purchased a factory site adjoining one of the local towns, and when its plant was ready, hung out a sign ‘Men Wanted’. There would have been no trouble about securing the men but real estate values would have advanced to such an extent that rents would have become almost prohibitive. At the outset of its operations, the company realized that it could not leave its workers at the mercy of rent speculators if it was to have a contented and permanent staff. So it did the only thing that could be done under the circumstances, it decided to begin a new town of its own.
A site was selected two miles or so east of Kenogami where farm lands sloped gently down toward the banks of the Saguenay over a distance of more than two miles. A rocky promontory to the south made an ideal site for a city reservoir, and numerous small gullies and
ravines would provide the parks and playgrounds of the future.
The company’s handling of the housing problem was interesting. It built the first unit of the new town, but it does not intend to build the entire city. No houses in Arvida are for sale to the man who buys to sell again, but any house in the town may be bought at cost by an employee or a person doing legitimate business in het community. The company encourages its workmen to build their own homes, by selling to them at cost prices, cement, brick and lumber. The men are encouraged also to buy their own land. By adopting this policy the company hopes to be able to avoid the responsibility of real estate operations on a large scale while at the same time achieving its desired end—the elimination of the rent speculator.
At the present time about 750 men are employed on the operating job alone. A new ore plant, now being built at a cost of $2,000,000, will require an additional operating crew of from 75 to 100 men. These male employees represent, in this French-speaking province, a population of well over four thousand, so that immediiate expansion must take place if accommodation is to be formed for them in' the town.
As already has been mentioned, two of the major considerations which brought the Aluminum Company to the Saguenay were power and transportation facilities. The raw materials out of which aluminum is made come from British Guiana, and from Greenland, and the finished product goes to every continent in the world. Arvida is only twenty miles from Port Alfred, on Ha Ha Bay, which is open to ocean navigation seven months of the year. So that, while operating close to the source of ‘unlimited’ power, raw materials and factory output can be shipped by water at a minimum cost. To facilitate the handling of. their heavy shipments of incoming and outgoing materials, the Port Alfred docks were secured by the Aluminum Company, and the Roberval-Saguenay Railway, which connected Bagotville with the main line of the Canadian National Railways was purchased and extended to Arvida itself.
For the Aluminum Company, however, the most vital necessity was power. The project which first attracted Mr. Duke’s attention was the Caron Falls, or La Chute a Caron, just below Kenogami. In the twenty-seven miles between Lake St. John and tide-water, the Saguenay River falls more than three hundred feet. The Ile Maligne development caught the first 110 feet of that. Another 220 can be harnessed at Chute à Caron. When that ‘head’ of 220 feet of water has finally been raised, there will be available for use more than 700,000 more horsepower than has already been developed.
The preliminary work at Chute à Caron has already been done. For a time it seemed as if the whole project would be rushed to completion. Then the work stopped. But there can be little question that Chute à Caron will be dammed when use can be made of its power. Apart from the purchase price in the first place, more than a million dollars has been spent there, and many millions more will have been spent before engineers have blasted out of those great hills the two-mile canal which is to carry the Saguenay along a new course, high up its own banks, and pour it through the turbines of the Alcoa power house. The Aluminum company cannot at present use more than a small part of that power. If they attempted to do so, they would be producing at Arvida aluminum enough to flood the markets of the world. But as
soon as the power is needed, Chute à Caron will be built.
No Motors for Madame Pednault
'THE Saguenay country is a country with a future and with a past. It is a rugged land that offers not its ruggedness, but its beauty, to those who call it home. All year round, it flames with color—yellow sunshine, green spruce, rusty headlands, white water, and far off hills that are a clear and beautiful blue.
Even the habitants themselves, with their simple out-look on life, their quaint and spotless homes, and their pious devotion to their church, are of a type quite unique on this continent. The French-Canadian of Lake St. John has been cut off from the rest of the world all his life. He speaks a dialect all his own. His life has been almost pastoral in its. unaffected simplicity. In the summer he has always put in his small crops, and bit by bit, has cleared the fields wrhich are hiskingdom and his pride.
Now he simply stands appalled at what he sees going on around him. His' property has increased in value. His produce has a market. His sons are earning -good pay in the cities that are growing up around the countryside.
The road that winds from Chicoutimi to Port Alfred is a busy one, lined for many miles of its length with farm homes that show every sign of prosperity. Last winter, when twdce I drove dowm there in an open sleigh, most of the homes seemed closed. Their occupants w7ere in the bush, jobbing, getting out logs for the pulp mills. Later I saw7 them there, little colonies living in log bungalows, gathering together at night for prayers, and maintaining both their family life and the traditions of their people, getting ready for the spring run of logs.
But Adolphe Tremblay, the big boss whose word is law along the whole length of the Cyriac River, when logs are being cut, told me that the young people ‘do not like to go on the bush any more’.
A farm-house stands scarce tw7o hundred yards from where I sit in the city of Arvida. The old man who owned it was made rich by the cheque the Aluminum Company gave him for his farm. The old folks continue to live there wdth the son who stayed at home to help work the old homestead. There are city houses not a stone’s throw7 away from the farm-house porch, and the aluminum plant lies just out front. The young couple are greatly pleased. They have a car now7, and a very fine market for their eggs and garden truck. But Madame Pednault will not ride in the motor car, and she will net sit on the front porch.
Thus, I suppose, the old has always yielded place to the new, reluctantly.
At any rate, the old-time isolation is gone. The Saguenay country, for better or for w7orse, is being opened up by the inevitable inrush of modern industries. The winds that come out of the West blow7 dow7n the river valley, laden still with the scent of spruce and pine. Close by the roadsides cluster the farm houses, with their outdoor ovens, and here and there a w'ayside shrine. Hanks of wool hang on the fences ready for the spinning, and long strips of homemade rag carpet fraternize with hooked rugs and patchwmrk quilts of w’onderful workmanship. While up and dow7n the same highway pass huge motor trucks, luxurious motor buses and the hurried traffic of a busy industrial centre.
Little wonder that the old men puff more nervously at their stubby old clays.
Will romance and beauty remain, or with the coming of Big Business will they depart forever? It is the peculiar gift of the French-Canadian people that they are able to preserve the old in the very midst of the new. And as for beauty— well, it would take the smoke of more than a score of cities to dim the blue of these ancient hills, or to destroy the peculiar charm and freshness of this, our ‘land of the mountain and the flood’.