Report of First Convention, Winnipeg, January 13-14-15, 1920 (Classic Reprint)

Report of First Convention, Winnipeg, January 13-14-15, 1920 (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Report of First Convention, Winnipeg, January 13-14-15, 1920

The convention was opened by George W. Prout, M.L.A., Kildonan and St. Andrews. Mr. Prout said: "The Rural Credits Movement in Manitoba, as it is to-day, is due to the efforts, genius, initiative and public spirit of a large number of men in this province. In its early inception this movement needed friends. All new ideas need friends. And among the friends of the Rural Credits movement in this province, there was no better friend than the gentleman I am going to introduce to you and ask to take the chair this afternoon. It is Mr. Hope Ross, the financial editor of the Manitoba Free Press. When I first presented to him a draft of the Manitoba Rural Credits Act, he immediately caught on, and from that day to this, his influence, and the influence of that great metropolitan newspaper, the Manitoba Free Press, has been exerted entirely on the side of this great movement. Without any further words, I have the pleasure of asking Mr. Ross to take the chair."

H. F. M. Ross: "My friend, Mr. Prout, member of the Legislature for Kildonan and St. Andrews, has told you accurately how I became somewhat identified with this very important movement. It is a little more than three years ago since Mr. Prout called at my office and set forth the proposed Act, an Act which he hoped to introduce into the Legislature. I would like very much to tell you, though I don't intend to take up so much of your time, why it was that at that juncture the Act appealed to me with so much force as it did. I told Mr. Prout then, and I have often told him since, that there was nothing he could ask me to do on the side of this movement, which I think of very great importance, which I would not be ready and willing to do.

"In introducing the speakers, there is one thing I would like to say: I read yesterday in the Free Press an interview with a very dear friend of mine, Mr. Bruce Walker, who for a great many years has been in charge of immigration in the service of the Federal Government. In this interview Mr. Walker, in his optimistic way, spoke of United States people, who in the month of December had come across the border into Canada, and referred to the immigration for the year into Canada. I wish to submit some immigration figures, a very few, and in round numbers, not absolutely accurate, which are of an interesting charcter. In the beginning of 1900 we had in this province a population of a quarter of a million people. In the first sixteen years of this century, there were brought into this province about half a million people, actually somewhat less. These were not visitors. They were people who came into the province with the idea of settling on the land and making their permanent residence in Manitoba. If in the first sixteen years of this century about half a million came here, the population should have been about 750,000 in the year 1916. However, in the year 1916 the quinquennial census was taken, and this quinquenniel census showed that there were just 550,000 people in the province. That is to say, there were 200,000 people less than there should have been, taking into account the population in 1900 and the immigrants who had come during the following sixteen years. The explanation which has sometimes been given of this discrepancy is that the immigration figures are unreliable and incorrect. Now, I knew a little about immigration into this province in the sixteen years in question. I had been through all that period on the editorial staff of the Free Press, and one of the things I had to do every day for the Free Press was to write immigration news. My opinion now is, that the immigration figures given by the immigration authorities, are in all probability as reliable as the census figures, and it is probably true that about 500,000 people came into this province during these sixteen years, with the intention of settling in it.

"Where did the 200
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