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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Log House By The Lake: A Tale Of Canada - Chapter 3
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The Log House By The Lake: A Tale Of Canada - Chapter 3 Post by :Larry Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :3453

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The Log House By The Lake: A Tale Of Canada - Chapter 3

CHAPTER THREE

Canada is now traversed from one end to the other by railways, with numerous ramifications to the north and south, while steam-vessels run not only on its main artery--the Saint Lawrence--and the great chain of lakes, but also on numerous other rivers and lakes in every direction on the lines of the highway to any inhabited district. Notwithstanding this, the romance of travelling through Canada is not altogether done away with. Although several of the chief cities contain very large populations, Montreal having 100,000 inhabitants, and Quebec and Toronto not many thousands less, and possessing likewise all the advantages required by civilised communities, yet a very few miles away from them the stranger may find himself in some wild district where he might suppose that the foot of man had never trod. In the summer, steamers on water compete with locomotives on land in conveying passengers; and when time is not of consequence, the route by water is generally preferred.

A few days only were spent at Quebec by the Ashtons after their arrival, before they embarked on board one of those wonderful constructions, an American steam-boat, to proceed up the Saint Lawrence to Montreal. The entrance was in the side of the vessel, and on the main deck, which appeared lumbered up from one end to the other with casks, chests, and packages, a flight of steps led to an upper deck, which had the appearance of a long gallery, fitted up as a drawing-room, with sofas, easy chairs, and every luxury. The glazed roof was supported by pillars, but no access could be discovered to any spot where helmsman, captain, or crew might be posted. Harry, after many enquiries, found that the wheel was on a platform on the roof forward, where the captain and pilot stood. He pronounced the vessel to be constructed on two huge arches, having a vast Thames wherry below, with a superstructure of picture galleries on a wide platform extending far over her gunwale on either side.

Montreal, the head of the ocean navigation, was reached; and then by a series of magnificent canals the rapids of the Saint Lawrence were avoided; the lake of the Thousand Isles, with their rocky bases and tree-covered summits, was passed, as were several larger and thriving towns, and Lake Ontario was entered.

At Kingston they embarked on board another steamer, which was far more like an ordinary vessel than the one they had just quitted. Who should come on board, just before she left the wharf, but Mr Norman. A few hours afterwards, when Harry and Charley came on deck, they uttered an exclamation of surprise as they looked around. "What, is this called a lake, Mr Norman? Why, where is the land?"

"Out of sight," answered their friend, laughing. "North, south, east, west of us. It is rather hazy to the north, or you would see the pine-fringed shore. We shall soon again see it, as we have to touch at several towns on our way."

Several large vessels were met under all sail, with numerous crews, steering for the Saint Lawrence.

"Where can they be going to?" said Harry.

"To Liverpool, perhaps, or to some other English port, laden with wheat from the Western States," answered Mr Norman. "Vessels have sailed all the way from Lake Superior to England."

They saw, however, more things to wonder at than can well be recounted. Not the least, in the eyes of the boys, was the fine city of Toronto, with its numerous public buildings.

"Why, I thought that we were about to enter the backwoods by the time we got thus far west, and here we are in the middle of as civilised a city as any we have seen," exclaimed Harry, on their return from an excursion through Toronto.

"We have many other fine towns still further west," said Mr Norman, who had stayed at the same hotel. "If we go into the States we shall find, several hundred miles off, Chicago, which has sprung up as if by the wand of the enchanter. The secret of this rapid increase is its peculiar position at the head of a great navigable lake, with a background unrivalled in its corn-producing powers. In the course of years we may hope to see cities, towns, and villages, rising at intervals on British territory, directly across our vast continent, united to those which have already appeared in British Columbia."

Mr Ashton having made all the enquiries in his power as to eligible localities, set off with Philip to select a spot for the future abode of the family. He was advised to rent a partially cleared farm, but his sons especially entreated that he would purchase a tract of wild ground, that they might have the satisfaction of feeling that with their own hands they were bringing their own property from a state of nature into one of cultivation. He yielded to their wishes, though, perhaps, the plan he was advised to adopt would have more rapidly afforded them a return for their outlay, and some of the luxuries of civilisation. Mr Norman casually enquired the direction in which they proposed prosecuting their search, and on hearing that it was to the north, he remarked that he might possibly meet them.

We need scarcely say that the Ashton family employed their time profitably in seeing all that there was to be seen in Toronto, and that they made excursions to Hamilton, and to several other towns accessible by railway. Mr Ashton lost no time in searching for the desired locality, and he and Philip soon came to the conclusion that it was not a thing to be done in a hurry. Fortunately Mr Norman did meet them, and with his assistance they at last found a spot to suit them. "The next thing you will have to do is to _get fixed_" he said, laughing. "You will soon find out the meaning of that term, I guess."

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Note. "Get fixed" is the American cant term for settled.

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