WITHOUT 'THE WEST' Canada would have continued to be 'a minor show'. Some kind of maturity would have been reached, but it would have been only provincial, such as parts of eastern Ontario and Nova Scotia had already attained. There is an ocean of difference between the relatively mature localism of a secondary urban community and the air that blows through the national capital, Ottawa. This air begins to blow at Montreal, where the meeting of the two cultures makes for unwilling breadth. It strengthens in Ottawa, whose major reason for existence is the duty of seeing in all directions. A current from it runs down to Toronto and the western peninsula of Ontario (only two or three chapters ago, this was 'western Canada'), both of which are rescued from parochialism by the scope of their economic activities. But it is at the head of the lakes that the air begins to blow strong, for with Port Arthur the traveller is in another world, the West. From lakehead to Pacific coast, the same air blows.
The same kind of observation could be made as one goes northward, for here too there is another world. The atmosphere is similar to that of the West. It has the geographical emancipation, the hope, energy, lack of convention, readiness to accept all comers and on equal terms, that mark new societies wherein, the old moulds having been broken, the pieces are set loose and shaken up into new patterns.
Western society takes its shape, and partly its tone, from its natural circumstances. The habitable country-side runs from Beauséjour, east of Winnipeg, to Banff, a thousand miles. Over this, settlement, once vigorously begun, swept like a prairie fire. In 1873, Archbishop Taché of St. Boniface could