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native tribe formerly located about it, the White Mountains in the State of Vermont may be considered the axis.
To the south this chain is developed with sufficient regularity; but toward the north and east, to which it trends, it is scarcely to be defined with any exactness, but is lost in a mountainous district, where confused spurs and ranges form the watersheds of rivers, the upper waters of which interlace with, and have their sources often within a very short distance of each other. It will be found on examination that this feature is a predominant one in the geography of the northern part of the New World. This mountainous district includes the greater part of New Brunswick, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton Island. Newfoundland and Labrador are extensions of it, and it forms the basin of the great north-east coal field, including the remaining parts of the first and last of those provinces, as well as Prince Edward's Island,
Not dissimilar in character is the western chain, though more important in extent and elevation; but on these accounts its divisions and the courses of its spurs and offshoots are more easily traced, and the rather, as their accumulated waters reach the sea by a smaller number of channels; so that while in the eastern no river basins properly speaking cannot be discerned, in the western they are well defined, although they do not assume that character even there to the eye, the upper waters of the rivers being for the most part confined to narrow channels worn out of the solid rock.
It has been the fashion to speak of three distinct ranges of mountains on the Western Coast of North America, and on maps one is usually drawn from California northward to the mouth of the Mackenzie, and two others at nearly equal distances, parallel to it; but this is evidently an error, for the Peel and the Rat affluents of that river have their sources far away to the westward, and run through a comparatively level country of limestone, sand, and gravel. The main course of the Rocky Mountains, as the name implies, must be sought for elsewhere; and we are warranted in concluding Mount St. Elias, in latitude 60° north, to be the axis of the chain, which must therefore be traced along the coast of the Pacific, and through the Aleutian Islands, and will be found to correspond to that which in Asia has its north-east termination in the peninsula of Kamstchatka.
The principal range of the Rocky Mountains must then be sought between the head-waters of the rivers falling into the Pacific, and those of the affluents of the Mississippi and the Mackenzie, and will be found to take a north-west direction from the sources of the Colorado to Mount St. Elias, and from this spurs run in every direction, dividing the waters of the different rivers. But although this description entirely destroys the second, the third, sometimes called the Coast or Cascade range, will be found as if resulting from their reunion, so that the district between it and the main chain has the appearance of an immense reservoir, in which the whole drainage of the mountains has accumulated, until some convulsive feature opened out those few and narrow channels by which the waters now escape to the sea, forming the cascades which have given their name to the mountains nearest to it.
This description will hold good for the whole district of the Columbia and Frazer's river; that to the north is less known, and indeed has never been described beyond the track of Mackenzie to the Pacific, and of voyagers along the coast.
In the districts to the east and west of these mountain chains respectively, the great feature predicated of the whole continent is not so apparent; the vertical bearing a more approximate relation to the superficial development; it is principally in that which lies between them, but which, in reality, comprehends by far the larger portion of the whole. Here we meet with this characteristic feature under two conditions undulating open plains and dense forests; the former to the north and west, the latter to the south and east. But these again assume different and distinctive appearances, from the different character of their waters; for while the affluents of the Missouri, the Ohio, and others to the south, are, strictly speaking, rivers, having a regular fall, and draining a vast series of valleys, the whole northern country, from Behring's Straits to Hudson's Bay, and from the Arctic Sea to the Illinois, is a net-work of waters, having so slight a fall, and divided by such trifling elevations, that not unfrequently, at different seasons, the flow of the current varies, and slight floods will unite the head waters of the Mississippi with those which flow into the northern lakes, and thence into the Arctic Sea and Hudson's Bay; so that it is not impossible that the three seas may have been united; and indeed the sources of the Columbia and Frazer's rivers are in such immediate proximity, that their former union seems by no means beyond speculation.
In defining the characteristic differences between the two portions of the great central division of North America, it is important to remark that the north-western affluants of the Mississippi, and even that river which bears the name, belong to the northern, while the Missouri belongs to the southern-and as lakes about the head-waters of the former have within these last few years become dry ground; they may, and probably will, decrease in importance daily, and that water communication which now exists, through them, with the great lakes of Canada, may very shortly be lost, and the Missouri assume her proper character of the parent river.
The valley of the Mississippi is then drained for the most part by regular channels, indicating a corresponding and equally regular fall in the surface of the country; but the entire northern part of the continent is covered with a net-work of waters, which, if from subsidence or evaporation or some other cause, they were not daily subject to considerable decrease, would offer an inexhaustible puzzle to the geographer. Many rivers here flow into large lakes, from which again many flow into the sea; but these are, for the most part, so interlaced and connected as to make it all but impossible to trace them with any exactness, or strictly to define their watershed.
We are scarcely accustomed to consider the importance of means of transit in facilitating the peopling of countries; but certainly no other country possesses such internal water communication as this, nor can we doubt that the extraordinary progress of civilization has been in a great measure consequent upon it.
Not strictly appertaining to either, but partaking of this character of both, is the basin of the great lakes and river St. Lawrence: in its integrity it is well defined; yet towards the south, and in some of its details, it bears marks of the former connexion of its head-waters with those of other systems-but perhaps the most remarkable feature of this district is the evidence which it affords of the different elevations at which, in former times, the waters maintained themselves, shewing either a gradual subsidence of the water, or corresponding elevation of the land.
Yet, even here the anomalous character of these countries is apparent; for while the rivers which flow from the south into the main stream have the ordinary character of important affluents, each draining its own basin, those to the north have their head-waters in almost immediate connexion and approximate closely in character with those of the great plain beyond them. The lakes Ontario and Huron are all but united by lake Simcoe and the adjacent waters; the Uttawa approaches lake Nissipising (which pours its waters into lake Huron) on the one hand, and the St. Maurice on the other, while the headwaters of the latter river are in close contiguity with those of the Suguenay, nor are the heights from which they flow essentially dif ferent. This latter river offers a marked example of a peculiarity noticeable in the channels of many, indeed most of the rivers of the continent. Throughout the entire lower part of its course its waters flow through a deep narrow channel in the rock, indicating the convulsive efforts by which they escaped from their original confinement: very similar though inferior in depth and magnificence are the channels of the Niagara below the falls, the Dalles of the Columbia, the Cannons of the Yellowstone, Platte, and other affluents of the Missouri, the Chutes in various parts of the eastern districts, and many others of similar character as yet unnamed. From what has been said it may appear that in addition to the generally extended surface, a distinctive feature of North America is the evidence of its waters having been pent up in extensive basins at no very distant period; that this is seen throughout the country, except in the valley of the Missisippi, but that it is most clearly evidenced in the northern portions, or what might be termed the Lake district, while the coast districts to the east and west of the great mountain ranges, wanting for the most part the superficial development for which the centre is so remarkable, and having a much greater proportionate elevation, have their scenery more similar in its general outlines, if not in its minuter details, to countries with. which the inhabitants of the Old World are familiar.
This rough sketch of the general geographical features of North America may assist in developing more at large those of the British province in it.
It has been remarked that the mountainous district to the north of the well-defined chain of the Alleghanies includes the province of New Brunswick, while Nova Scotia and the adjacent Islands, and even Newfoundland, may be considered as extensions of it, and with those which may aptly be termed the maritime provinces a description of British North America may most properly commence.
A glance at the map will show that any separation of New Bruns
wick from the adjacent state of Maine must be entirely arbitrary. In all old maps we find the watershed of the country, although not correctly placed, yet clearly defined, running from the district of Gaspé round the sources of the Miramichi and St. John's rivers, and trending in a south and slightly western direction between those of the rivers falling into the Atlantic Ocean and the affluents of the St. Lawrence, to the head-waters of the Connecticut. Modern maps, especially those of our own country, are so overburdened with details that the great general features of the countries they profess to represent are lost among them, and one would almost be inclined to suppose that modern science had ascertained that rivers could run up hill, when two of the most civilized and scientific nations in the world waste years of time and large sums of money in ascertaining the watershed of a country, the rivers of which have been known for the last century. Nothing but a morbid acquisitiveness on the one hand, and a perverse or ignorant carelessness on the other, could by any possibility have produced such a result, and we may now contemplate the concessions made to republican avarice along the entire boundary of our North American provinces, and learn wisdom when it is too late to exercise it. From the sources of the Connecticut, the watershed trends westward between Lake Champlain and the Hudson River, and bending round those of the Chesapeake, separates the affluents of the Mississippi from the rivers falling into the Atlantic.
Not only does New Brunswick geographically attach itself to the State of Maine, and form part of the Atlantic district of North America ; but since the late decision of the boundary question, by which the principal sources of the St. John's have been ceded to the United States, it has become impossible to describe it without first trespassing on their territory. The Treaty of Washington (A.D. 1842,) established the following division.
"From the point where the Connecticut River cuts the 45th parallel of north latitude to the head of Hull's Stream, its principal source; from thence in an indulating line along the watershed between the Kenebec and Penobscot on the south, and the Chaudiere on the north, to the centre of the three principal head-waters of the St. John's River, and to the south of Lake Woolastaquagam, to where it cuts the parallel 46° 25′ north latitude, and from thence in a line nearly north, to where the northwest branch of the St. John's cuts the 70th meridian of longitude west from Greenwich, from which point it is carried in a direct line to the south point of Lake Pohenagemook. Whence following the course of the deep water of the river, it meets a line carried due north from the source of the river St. Croix, about lat. 47° 4′, and long. 67° 50'."
Here is cutting and contriving with a vengeance! How much more easy, simple; and scientific, because simple, the original definition-the mountains which divide the head-waters of the rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, from those falling into the St. Lawrence.
When we violate or depart from first principles, we do so at the expense of natural truth, and not less at our own; for nature is sure to revenge herself on those who do violence to her.
It has been observed that a confused mountain region occupies the country to the north-east of the defined range of the Alleghanies. It
includes the whole district from Cape Gaspé to the sources of the Kennebec. A glance at the map will show that the river St. John drains by far the larger portion of it, and the windings and turnings of its course, the proximity of its head-waters to those of rivers which flow in different directions, and discharge their waters into the sea far from its mouth, are more convincing evidences of the character of the country than the most laboured description.
This river is perhaps, in a geographical point of view, the most important of the Atlantic district. Its upper waters are drained from a country exceeding 20,000 square miles in superficial extent. Without estimating the sinuosities of its course, its length cannot be less than 350 miles. Its entire course has been estimated at 500 miles, and it is navigable for vessels of burden to the grand falls 200 miles above its mouth, and well merits its original name of Looshtok, or Lahstok, i. e. long river. For 350 miles it flows through the mountain district which terminates above the Meduknik river, which flows into it in about 46° 10' north latitude, and from hence the features of the country are entirely changed.
The mountain ranges of course bend round the head-waters of the rivers, and are principally developed round those of the Walloostook and Aroostook, and their affluents, to the west, from which they take a southerly direction to the lakes at the head of the St. Croix, and about those of the Tobique on the east. Pressed in by the mountains the northern sources of the St. John's are inconsiderable, and those of the Restigouche approach within twenty miles of the grand falls. It will, therefore, be apparent that the St. John's belongs entirely to the Atlantic system of rivers, and that the province of New Brunswick is divided into two distinct and well-defined parts by the watershed of the country which separates the rivers falling into the Gulph of St. Lawrence from it.
The axis of these mountains has been fixed in the State of Vermont. Kataadan, at the sources of the Penobscot, is about 5000 feet in height, and from it the culminating peaks of the different ranges and spurs become less elevated until, as they approach the sea, they sink into comparative insignificance.
The highest land in the province is about the sources of the Tobique and Restigouche, where the peaks rise to an elevation of nearly 2500 feet, but Mars-hill, of boundary notoriety, is not above 1700; while, to the south, about the Cheputnic lakes, 1000 feet is probably the highest that will be found.
The whole of the mountain district affords scenery of the wildest and most sublime character; and while its more rugged portions are the last haunts of the beaver on the east coast of the New World, its valleys are of varied beauty and extreme fertility. Their climate milder than that of the coast and free from fogs; but though offering every facility and advantage for settlement, as yet known only to the hunter, the lumberman, and the surveyor.
(To be continued.)