Transportation in western Canada, 1785-1885
The 'Canoe Route'; 'York Route';and the American Phase to 1874. The general importance of transportation has been estimated by Macaulay in the following words, "Of all inventions the alphabet and the printing press alone excepted, those inventions which abridge distance have done most for the civilization of our species. Every improvement of means of locomotion benefits mankind morally and intellectually as well as materially and not only facilitates the interchange of the various productions of nature and art, but tends to remove national and provincial antipathies, and to bind together all the branches of the great human family." In Canada, the natives had for centuries followed the waterways, the chief means of communication, and when these were interrupted, the lines of least resistance overland, pointed out by the tracks of wild animals. Thus they acquired a first hand geographical knowledge of the country, which enabled them to wander to their destination by various routes. They had, however, a few recognized paths, such as the one from Lake Nipigon overland to Lake Winnipeg and the old 'canoe route' that they generally followed with modifications answering to their needs or inclinations. Usually they passed via Dog Lake and a Thousand Lakes....