GIGANTIC FARMS AND FAILURES.
THE BIG BELL FARM.
No big, unwieldy company farm in the west had ever been a success.
One classic instance is the Bell Farm. Major William R. Bell was an east-
em man of the finest type. Tall, with an excellent physique, business ex-
perience and indomitable spirit he came west in 1881. The route of the
C. P.R. was definitely fixed at that time so he was able to select his lands
without any danger of a second change in the survey. He formed a big
company with Canadian and British capital and secured a block of land
at Indian Head ten miles square-that is to say 60,000 acres. The actual
acreage owned, however, was 331,887 acres as the school sections could not
be bought, and there were some settlers whose squatters' rights had to
be respected; but Major Bell secured all the government C. P. R. and
Hudson's Bay lands. The original capital was half a million dollars, of
which ;300,000 was paid up. A hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth
of six per cent debentures was subsequently issued. The Company never
succeeded in paying any dividends.
For ten miles the C. P. R. ran through the Bell Farm, which was
believed to be the largest farm of continuous land in the world. The big
farm idea came from the States. For instance there was the Dalrymple
Farm in Dakota which is reported to have taken off in one season thirty
thousand acres of wheat. Some interesting information about the early
experiences of the Bell Farm will be found in Dr. Angus McKay's most
interesting narrative printed elsewhere in this book and which we will as
far as possible avoid repeating. There was trouble with frozen grain and
Major Bell built a flour mill. He erected an elevator to ship his own
wheat. In 1885 he sent a hundred teams to the Rebellion Transport which
at ten dollars each per day, meant a daily bill against the government of
a thousand dollars. This necessarily limited the output of that year. In
1886 there were five thousand acres in crop. The stock consisted of 200
horses, 250 cattle and 900 hogs. The machinery comprised 45 reapers
and binders, 78 ploughs, 6 mowers, 40 seeders, 80 sets of harrows and
seven steam threshing outfits.
It is interesting in these days of high expenses to note that Major
Bell in 1886 put the cost of breaking and back-setting at two dollars an
acre, and this was noted and published by a correspondent. He claimed
that this estimate was the result of careful bookkeeping. Spring and fall
ploughing he put down at fifty cents an acre. The actual cost of produc-