CANADA AND THE STATES RECOLLECTIONS 1851 to 1886.
BY SIR E. W. WATKIN, BART., M.P.
"If the Maritime Provinces [of Britain] would join us, spontaneously, to-day—sterile as they may be in the soil under a sky of steel—still with their hardy population, their harbours, fisheries, and seamen, they would greatly strengthen and improve our position, and aid us in our struggle for equality upon the ocean. If we would succeed upon the deep, we must either maintain our fisheries or ABSORB THE PROVINCES."
E. H. DERBY, Esq, Report to the Revenue Commissioners of the United States, 1866.
In the absence of any formal Dedication, I feel that to no one could the following pages be more appropriately inscribed than to
On her have fallen the anxieties of our home life during my many long absences away on the American Continent—which Continent she once, in 1862, visited with me. My business, in relation to Canada, has, from time to time, been undertaken with her knowledge, and under her good advice; and no one has been animated with a stronger hope for Canada, as a great integral part of the Empire of the Queen, than herself.
E. W. WATKIN. ROSE HILL, NORTHENDEN, 2nd May, 1887.
The following pages have been written at the request of many old friends, some of them co-workers in the cause of permanent British rule over the larger part of the Great Northern Continent of America.
In 1851 I visited Canada and the United States as a mere tourist, in search of health. In 1861 I went there on an anxious mission of business; and for some years afterwards I frequently crossed the Atlantic, not only during the great Civil War between the North and South, but, also, subsequent to its close. In 1875 I had to undertake another mission of responsibility to the United States. And, last year, I traversed the Dominion of Canada from Belle Isle to the Pacific. I returned home by San Francisco and the Union Pacific Railways to Chicago; and by Montreal to New York. Thence to Liverpool, in that unsurpassed steamer, the "Etruria," of the grand old Cunard line. I ended my visits to America, as I began them, as a tourist. This passage was my thirtieth crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
Within the period from 1851 to 1886, history on the North American Continent has been a wonderful romance. Never in the older stories of the world's growth, have momentous changes been effected, and, apparently, consolidated, in so short a time, or in such rapid succession.
Regarding the United States, the slavery of four millions of the negro race is abolished for ever, and the black men vote for Presidents. A great struggle for empire—fought on gigantic measure—has been won for liberty and union. Turning to Canada, the British half of the Continent has been moulded into one great unity, and faggotted together, without the shedding of one drop of brothers' blood—and in so tame and quiet a way, that the great silent forces of Nature have to be cited, to find a parallel.
In this period, the American Continent has been spanned by three main routes of iron-road, uniting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans: and one of these main routes passes exclusively through British territory—the Dominion of Canada. The problem of a "North-west Passage" has been solved in a new and better way. It is no longer a question of threading dark and dismal seas within the limits of Arctic ice and snow, doubtful to find, and impossible, if found, to navigate. Now, the two oceans are reached by land, and a fortnight suffices for the conveyance of our people from London or Liverpool to or from the great Pacific, on the way to the great East.
Anyone who reads what follows will learn that I am an Imperialist—that I hate little-Englandism. That, so far as my puny forces would go, I struggled for the union of the Canadian Provinces, in order that they might be retained under the sway of the best form of government—a limited monarchy, and under the best government of that form—the beneficent rule of our Queen Victoria. I like to say our Queen: for no sovereign ever identified herself in heart and feeling, in anxiety and personal sacrifice, with a free and grateful people more thoroughly than she has done, all along.
In this period of thirty-six years the British American Provinces have been, more than once, on the slide. The abolition of the old Colonial policy of trade was a great wrench. The cold, neglectful, contemptuous treatment of Colonies in general, and of Canada in particular, by the doctrinaire Whigs and Benthamite-Radicals, and by Tories of the Adderley school, had, up to recent periods, become a painful strain. Denuding Canada of the Imperial red-coat disgusted very many. And the constant whispering, at the door of Canada, by United States influences, combined with the expenditure of United States money on Nova Scotian and other Canadian elections, must be looked to, and stopped, to prevent a slide in the direction of Washington.
On the other hand, the statesmanlike action of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Colonial Minister in 1859, in erecting British Columbia into a Crown Colony, was a break-water against the fell waves of annexation. The decided language of Her Majesty's speech in proroguing Parliament at the end of 1859 was a manifesto of decided encouragement to all loyal people on the American Continent: and, followed as it was by the visit—I might say the triumphal progress—of the Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Colonial Minister, the great Duke of Newcastle, through Canada, in 1860, the loyal idea began to germinate once more. Loyal subjects began to think that no spot of earth over which the British flag had once floated would ever, again, be given up—without a fight for it. Canada for England, and England for Canada!
But, what will our Government at home do with the new "North-west Passage" through Canada? The future of Canada depends upon the decision. What will the decision be? How soon will it be given?
Is this great work, the Canadian Pacific Railway, to be left as a monument, at once, of Canada's loyalty and foresight, and of Canada's betrayal: or is it to be made the new land-route to our Eastern and Australian Empire? If it is to be shunted, then the explorations of the last three hundred years have been in vain. The dreams of some of the greatest statesmen of past times are reduced to dreams, and nothing more. The strength given by this glorious self-contained route, from the old country to all the new countries, is wasted. On the other hand, if those who now govern inherit the great traditions of the past; if they believe in Empire; if they are statesmen—then, a line of Military Posts, of strength and magnitude, beginning at Halifax on the Atlantic, and ending at the Pacific, will give power to the Dominion, and, wherever the red-coat appears, confidence in the old brave country will be restored.
Then the soldier, his arms and our armaments, will have their periodical passages backwards and forwards through the Dominion. Mails for the East, for Australia, and beyond, will pass that way; and the subject of every part of the Empire will, as he passes, feel that he is treading the sacred soil of real liberty and progress.
Which is it to be?
Some years ago, Sir John A. Macdonald said, "I hope to live to see the day—and if I do not, that my son may be spared, to see Canada the right arm of England. To see Canada a powerful auxiliary of the Empire, not, as now, a source of anxiety, and a source of danger."
Does Her Majesty's Government echo this aspiration?
Thinking people will recognize that the United States become, year by year, less English and more Cosmopolitan; less conservative and more socialist; less peaceful and more aggressive. Twice within ten years the Presidential elections have pushed the Republic to the very brink of civil war. But for the forbearance of Mr. Tilden and the Democrats, on one occasion; and the caution of leading Republicans when President Cleveland was chosen, disturbance must have happened.
We have yet to see whether Provincial Government may not, in the Dominion, lead towards Separation, rather than towards Union. While one Custom-house and one general Government is aiding Union, the Province of Quebec accentuates all that is French; the Province of Ontario accentuates all that is British: the problem, here, is how, gradually, to weaken sectional, and how gradually to strengthen Union, ideas. State rights led to a civil war in the United States: Provincial Government fifty years hence may lead to conflicts in Canada.
In the United States there was no solution but war. Surely in Canada we can apply the safety valve of augmenting British aid and influence. Why not try the re-introduction of the red-coat of the Queen's soldier —that soldier to be enlisted and officered, let us hope in the early future, from every portion of the Queen's Dominions—as of the one Imperial army;—an Imperial army paid for by the whole Empire.
CHAPTER I. PRELIMINARY—ONE REASON WHY I WENT TO THE PACIFIC
CHAPTER II. TOWARDS THE PACIFIC—LIVERPOOL TO QUEBEC
CHAPTER III. TO THE PACIFIC—MONTREAL TO PORT MOODY
CHAPTER IV. CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAYS
CHAPTER V. A BRITISH RAILWAY FROM THE ATLANTIC TO THE PACIFIC
CHAPTER VI. PORT MOODY—VICTORIA—SAN FRANCISCO TO CHICAGO.
CHAPTER VII. NEGOCIATIONS AS TO THE INTERCOLONIAL RAILWAY: AND NORTH-WEST TRANSIT AND TELEGRAPH, 1861 TO 1864.
CHAPTER VIII. NEGOCIATIONS FOR PURCHASE OF THE HUDSON'S BAY PROPERTY
CHAPTER IX. THE RIGHT HONORABLE EDWARD ELLICE, M.P.
CHAPTER X. THE SELECT COMMITTEE, ON HUDSON'S BAY AFFAIRS, OF 1857
CHAPTER XI. RE-ORGANIZATION OF HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY
CHAPTER XII. THE HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY AND THE SELECT COMMITTEE OF 1748- 9
CHAPTER XIII. THE HUDSON'S BAY POSTS—TO-DAY.
CHAPTER XIV. "UNCERTAIN SOUNDS"
CHAPTER XV. "GOVERNOR DALLAS"
CHAPTER XVI. THE HONORABLE THOMAS D'ARCY McGEE
CHAPTER XVII. 1851—FIRST VISIT TO AMERICA: A REASON FOR IT.
CHAPTER XVIII. THE RECIPROCITY TREATY WITH THE UNITED STATES.
CHAPTER XIX. THE DEFENCES OF CANADA.
CHAPTER XX. INTENDED ROUTE FOR A PACIFIC RAILWAY IN 1863.
CHAPTER XXI. LETTERS PROM SIR GEORGE E. CARTIER—QUESTION OF HONORS
CHAPTER XXII. DISRAELI-BEACONSFIELD
CHAPTER XXIII. VISITS TO QUEBEC AND PORTLAND: AND LETTERS HOME CANADA AND THE NORTH ATLANTIC COUNTRY.
Preliminary—One Reason why I went to the Pacific.
A quarter of a century ago, charged with the temporary oversight of the then great Railway of Canada, I first made the acquaintance of Mr. Tilley, Prime Minister of the Province of New Brunswick, whom I met in a plain little room, more plainly furnished, at Frederickton, in New Brunswick. My business was to ask his co-operation in carrying out the physical union of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and through them Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, with Canada by means of what has since been called the "Intercolonial" Railway. That Railway, projected half a century ago, was part of the great scheme of 1851,—of which the Grand Trunk system from Portland, on the Atlantic, to Richmond; and from Riviere du Loup, by Quebec and Richmond, to Montreal, and then on to Kingston, Toronto, Sarnia, and Detroit—had been completed and opened when I, thus, visited Canada, as Commissioner, in the autumn of 1861. I found Mr. Tilley fully alive to the initial importance of the construction of this arterial Railway—initial, in the sense that, without it, discussions in reference to the fiscal, or the political, federation, or the absolute union, under one Parliament, of all the Provinces was vain. I found, also, that Mr. Tilley had, ardently, embraced the great idea—to be realized some day, distant though that day might be—of a great British nation, planted, for ever, under the Crown, and extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Certainly, in 1861, this great idea seemed like a mere dream of the uncertain future. Blocked by wide stretches of half-explored country: dependent upon approaches through United States' territory: each Province enforcing its separate, and differing, tariffs, the one against the other, and others, through its separate Custom House; it was not matter of surprise to find a growing gravitation towards the United States, based, alike, on augmenting trade and augmenting prejudices.
Amongst party politicians at home, there was, at this time, of 1861, little adhesion to the idea of a Colonial Empire; and the reader has only to read the reference, made later on, to a published letter of Sir Charles Adderley to Mr. Disraeli in 1862, to see how the pulse of some of the Conservative party was then beating.
There was, however, one bright gleam of hope. That was to be found in the, still remembered, effects of the visit of the Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Duke of Newcastle, to Canada, and the United States, in 1860.
Entertaining, with no small enthusiasm, and in common, these views of an Anglo-American Empire, Mr. Tilley and I were of the same opinion as to practical modes. We must go "step by step," and the Intercolonial Railway was the first step in the march before us.
In the following pages will be found some record of what followed. Suffice it here to say, that the Railway is made, not on the route I advocated: but it is in course of improvement, so that the shortest iron road from the great harbour of Halifax, in Nova Scotia, to the Pacific may be secured. The vast western country, bigger than Russia in Europe, more or less possessed and ruled over, since the days of Prince Rupert, the first governor, by the "Merchant Adventurers of England trading to Hudson's Bay," has been annexed to Canada, and one country, under one Parliament, is bounded by the two great oceans; and, as a consequence, the "Canadian Pacific Railway" has been made and opened for the commerce of the world.
Mr. Tilley, now Sir Leonard Tilley, is, at the moment, Lieutenant- Governor of New Brunswick, having previously filled the highest offices in the Government of the "Dominion of Canada;" and he has not forgotten the vow he and I exchanged some while after our first acquaintance. That vow was, that we neither of us would die, if we could help it, "until we had looked upon the waters of the Pacific from the windows of a British railway carriage." The Canadian Pacific Railway is completed, completed by the indomitable perseverance of Sir George Stephen, Mr. Van Horne, and their colleagues—sustained as they have been, throughout, by the far-sighted policy and liberal subsidies, granted ungrudgingly, by the Dominion Parliament, under the advice of Sir John A. Macdonald, the Premier. I have, in the past year, fulfilled my vow, by traversing the Canadian Continent from Quebec to Port Moody, Vancouver City, and Victoria, Vancouver's Island, over the 3,100 miles of Railway possessed by the Canadian Pacific Company, and have "looked upon the waters of the Pacific from the windows of a British railway carriage."
My impressions of this grand work will be found in future chapters.
"The Dominion of Canada" now includes the various Provinces of North America, formerly known as Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Vancouver's Island, and the extensive regions of The Hudson's Bay Company, including the new Province of Manitoba, and the North West Territories; in fact, the whole of British North America, except Newfoundland.
This territory stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and (including Newfoundland) is estimated to contain a total area of some four million square miles.
As matter of mere surface, and probably of cultivable area, also, more than half the Northern Continent of America owes allegiance to the Crown and to Queen Victoria. So may it remain. So it will remain if we retain the Imperial instinct. These noble provinces are confederated into a vast dominion, with one common Law, one Custom House, and one "House of Commons"—by a simple Act of the Imperial Parliament, the Confederation Act of 1867, passed while Lord Beaconsfield was Prime Minister and the Duke of Buckingham Colonial Minister. This union was effected quietly, unostentatiously, and in peace; and (circumstances well favouring) by the exertions, influence, and faithfulness to Imperial traditions, of Cartier, John A. Macdonald, John Ross, Howe, Tilley, Galt, Tupper, Van Koughnet, and other provincial statesmen, who forced the Home Government to action and fired their brother colonists with their own enthusiasm.
At home, all honour is due to a great Colonial Minister—the Duke of Newcastle.
Taking up, some years ago, a tuft of grass growing at the foot of one of the grand marble columns of the Parthenon at the Acropolis at Athens, I found a compass mark in the footing, or foundation—a mere scratch in the stone—made, probably, by some architect's assistant, before the Christian era. I make no claim to more than having made a scratch of some sort on the foundation stone of some pillar, or other, of Confederation. And I throw together these pages with no idea of gaining credit for services, gratuitously rendered, over a period of years and under many difficulties, to a cause which I have always had at heart; but with the desire to record some facts of interest which, hereafter, may, probably, be held worthy of being interleaved in some future history of the union of the great American provinces of the British Empire. I have another motive also: I should wish to contribute some information bearing upon any future account of the life of the late Duke of Newcastle. He is dead: and, so far, no one has attempted to write his biography. That may be reserved for another generation. He was the Colonial Minister under whose rule and guidance the foundations of the great measure of Confederation were, undoubtedly, laid; and to him, more than to any minister since Lord Durham, the credit of preserving, as I hope for ever, the rule of her Majesty, and her successors, over the Western Continent ought to attach. For, while the idea of an union, of more or less extent, was suggested in Lord Durham's time—probably by Charles Buller,—and was now and then fondled by other Governors-General, in Canada, and by Colonial Ministers at home—the real, practical measures which led to the creation of one country extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific were due to the far-sighted policy and persuasive influence of the Duke. The Duke was a statesman singularly averse to claiming credit for his own special public services, while ever ready to attribute credit and bestow praise on those around him.
My first interview with the Duke was in January, 1847. He was then Lord Lincoln, and the Conservative candidate for Manchester; in disgrace with his father. His father was the old fashioned nobleman who desired "to do what he liked with his own," and never would rebuild Nottingham Castle, burnt in 1832 by the Radicals. The son had cast in his lot with Sir Robert Peel and free trade. The father was still one of the narrow- minded class to whom reform of any kind was the spectre of "ruin to the country." They were quite honest in the conviction that the people were "born to be governed, and not to govern." They probably saw in the free importation of foreign food the abrogation of rent.
In 1847 Mr. Bright was the candidate for Manchester, whom we of the old Anti-Corn Law League supported. The interview I refer to was actuated by our desire to avoid an undeserved opposition; Lord Lincoln retired, however, owing mainly to other reasons, including that of the intolerance of a body of Churchmen regarding popular education.
A long period of wretched health compelled me for several years to consume what strength I had left in the ordinary routine of daily business. And it was not until 1852 that any further intercourse of any kind took place between us. In that year I published a little book about the United States and Canada, the record of my first visit to North America, in 1851. And, if I recollect rightly, I travelled with the Duke in the spring of 1852, probably between Rugby and Derby, and found him in possession of a copy of this little book, on which he had, faute de mieux, spent half-a-crown at the book stall at Euston. He recognised me; and it was my fault, and not his, that I saw no more of him till 1857, by which time, no doubt, he had forgotten me. Still our conversation in 1852 about America, and especially as to slavery, and the probability of a separation of North and South, will always dwell in my memory. Lord Lincoln had studied De Tocqueville; but he had not, yet, seen America. He had, therefore, at that time many erroneous views, which could only be corrected by the actual and personal opportunity of seeing and measuring, on the spot, the country, which always really means the people. This opportunity was given to him by the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada and the United States, in 1860. He accompanied the Prince in his capacity of Colonial Minister.
These casual glimpses of Lord Lincoln were followed by an interview between us in 1857. In the meantime, it is true, he had had my name brought before him during his term of office pending the Crimean War Some one had suggested to the Government to send me out to the Crimea to take charge of the Stores Department, at a time when all was confusion and mess, out there, and I was asked to call on the Minister about it. It seemed to me, however, a duty impossible of execution by a civilian, unless the condition of "full powers" were conceded,—and the matter came to nothing.
In 1856 I was the Manager of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. In that year a reckless engine, travelling between Shireoaks and Worksop, threw out some sparks, which set fire to the underwood of one of the Duke's plantations—for he was then Duke—and he wrote to the Chairman of the Railway, the then Earl of Yarborough, in what appeared to me a very haughty manner. I therefore felt bound to defend my chief, and I took up the quarrel. In a note addressed from the Library of the House of Commons, I asked for an interview, which was somewhat stiffly granted. This was the note which led to our interview:—
"CLUMBER, "1 Decr. 1856.
"MY DEAR YARBOROUGH,
"Instead of placing the enclosed extraordinary production in the hands of my Solicitor, I think it best, in the first instance, to send it to you as Chairman of the M. S. & L. Railway, because I cannot believe that either its tone or its substance can have been authorized by the Directors.
"I am sorry to say this is not the first piece of impertinence which I have had to complain of in reference to the damage done to my woods by the engines of the Company, and neither Mr. Foljambe nor I have had any encouragement to treat the matter in the amicable spirit which we were anxious to evince.
"The demands now made by the aggressors upon the party aggrieved is simply preposterous, and, of course, will be treated as it deserves. We shall next have the Company, or rather, as I hope and believe, the Company's Solicitors, demanding us to cut all our corn within 100 yards of the line before it becomes ripe, and consequently inflammable.
"Your Solicitor knows perfectly well that the Company is by law liable for damage done to woods; and, moreover, that such damage is preventible by proper care on the part of its servants.
"I think the Directors ought to order their Solicitor to write to me and others, to whom so impertinent a letter has been addressed, and beg to withdraw it, with an apology for having sent it.
"I am sorry to trouble you with this matter, because I feel that you ought not to be troubled with business in your present state of health; but as you are still the Chairman, I could not with propriety write to any other person.
"I am, my dear Yarborough, "Yours very sincerely, "NEWCASTLE.
"THE EARL OF YARBOROUGH, &c., &c."
Accordingly, I went to the mansion in Portman Square. I waited some time; but at last in stalked the Duke, looking very awful indeed—so stern and severe—that I could not help smiling, and saying—"The burnt coppice, your Grace." Upon this he laughed, held out his hand, placed me beside him, and we had a very long discussion, not about the fire, but about the colliery he, then, was sinking—against the advice of many of his friends in Sheffield—at Shireoaks; and when he had done with that, we talked, once more, about Canada, the United States, and the Colonies generally.
After this date, I had to see the Duke on business, more and more frequently. The year after the Duke's return from Canada, in 1861, he happened to read an article I had written in a London paper, hereafter given, about opening up the Northern Continent of America by a Railway across to the Pacific, and he spoke of it as embodying the views which he had before expressed, as his own.
In 1854 Mr. Glyn and Mr. Thomas Baring had urged me to undertake a mission to Canada on the business of the Grand Trunk Railway, which mission I had been compelled to decline; and when, in 1860-1, the affairs of that undertaking became dreadfully entangled, the Committee of Shareholders, who reported upon its affairs, invited me to accept the post of "Superintending Commissioner," with full powers. They desired me to take charge of such legislative and other measures as might retrieve the Company's disasters, so far as that might be possible. Before complying with this proposal, I consulted the Duke, and it was mainly under the influence of his warm concurrence that I accepted the mission offered to me. I accepted it in the hope of being able, not merely to serve the objects of the Shareholders of the Grand Trunk, but that at the same time I might be somewhat useful in aiding those measures of physical union contemplated when the Grand Trunk Railway was projected, and which must precede any confederation of interests, such as that happily crowned in 1867 by the creation of the "Dominion of Canada."
I find that my general views were, some time before, epitomized in the following letter. It is true that Mr. Baring, then President of the Grand Trunk, did not, at first, accept my views; but he and Mr. Glyn (the late Lord Wolverton) co-operated afterwards in all ways in the direction those views indicated.
"NORTHENDEN, "13th November, 1860.
"Some years ago Mr. Glyn (I think with the assent of Mr. Baring) proposed to me to go out to Canada to conduct a negotiation with the Colonial Government in reference to the Grand Trunk Railway. I was compelled then, from pressure of other business, to refuse what at that time would have been, to me, a very agreeable mission. Since then, I have grown older, and somewhat richer; and not being dependent upon the labour of the day, I should be very chary of increasing the somewhat heavy load of responsibility and anxiety which I still have to bear. It is doubtful, therefore, whether I could bring my mind to undertake so arduous, exceptional—perhaps even doubtful—an engagement as that of the 'restoration to life' of the Grand Trunk Railway.
"This line, both as regards its length, the character of its works, and its alliances with third parties, is both too extensive, and too expensive, for the Canada of to-day; and left, as it is, dependent mainly upon the development of population and industry on its own line, and upon the increase of the traffic of the west, it cannot be expected, for years to come, to emancipate itself thoroughly from the load of obligations connected with it.
"Again, the Colonial Government having really, in spite of all the jobbery and political capital alleged to have been perpetrated and made in connexion with this concern, made great sacrifices in its behalf, is not likely, having got the Railway planted on its own soil, to be ready to give much more assistance to this same undertaking.
"That the discipline and traffic of the line could be easily put upon a sound basis, that that traffic could be vigorously developed, that the expenses, except always those of repair and renewal, could be kept down, and that friendly, and perhaps improving and more beneficial, arrangements could be made with the local government—is matter, to me, of little doubt. Any man thoroughly versed in railways and quite up to business, and especially accustomed to the management of men and the conduct of serious negotiation, could easily accomplish this. But after all, unless I am very much deceived, all this will be insufficient, for many years to come, to satisfy the Shareholders; and I should not advise Mr. Glyn or Mr. Baring to tie their reputations to any man, however able or experienced, if it involved a sort of moral guarantee that the result of his appointment should be any very sudden improvement, of a character likely much to raise the value of the property in the market, which unfortunately is what the Shareholders very naturally look at, as the test of everything.
"To work the Grand Trunk as a gradually improving property would, I repeat, be easy; but to work it so as to produce a great success in a few years can only, in my opinion, be done in one way. That way, to many, would be chimerical; to some, incomprehensible; and possibly I may be looked upon myself as somewhat visionary for even suggesting it. That way, however, to my mind, lies through the extension of railway communication to the Pacific.
"Try for one moment to realize China opened to British commerce: Japan also opened: the new gold fields in our own territory on the extreme west, and California, also within reach: India, our Australian Colonies—all our eastern Empire, in fact, material and moral, and dependent (as at present it too much is) upon an overland communication, through a foreign state.
"Try to realize, again, assuming physical obstacles overcome, a main through Railway, of which the first thousand miles belong to the Grand Trunk Company, from the shores of the Atlantic to those of the Pacific, made just within—as regards the north-western and unexplored district —the corn-growing latitude. The result to this Empire would be beyond calculation; it would be something, in fact, to distinguish the age itself; and the doing of it would make the fortune of the Grand Trunk.
"Assuming also, again I say, that physical obstacles can be overcome, is not the time opportune for making a start? The Prince is just coming home full of glowing notions of the vast territories he has seen: the Duke of Newcastle has been with him—and he is Colonial Minister: there is jealousy and uncertainty on all questions relating to the east, coincident with an enormous development of our eastern relations, making people all anxious, if they could, to get another way across to the Pacific:—the new gold fields on the Frazer River are attracting swarms of emigrants; and the public mind generally is ripe, as it seems to me, for any grand and feasible scheme which could be laid before it.
"To undertake the Grand Trunk with the notion of gradually working out some idea of this kind for it and for Canada, throws an entirely new light upon the whole matter, and as a means to this end doubtless the Canadian Government would co-operate with the Government of this country, and would make large sacrifices for the Grand Trunk in consequence. The enterprise could only be achieved by the co-operation of the two Governments, and by associating with the Railway's enterprise some large land scheme and scheme of emigration."
The visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada and the Maritime Provinces, in 1860, had evoked the old feeling of loyalty to the mother country, damaged as it had been by Republican vicinity, the entire change of commercial relations brought about by free trade, and sectional conflicts. And the Duke, at once startled by the underlying hostility to Great Britain and to British institutions in the United States —which even the hospitalities of the day barely cloaked—and gratified beyond measure by the outbursts of genuine feeling on the part of the colonists, was most anxious, especially while entrusted with the portfolio of the Colonies, to strengthen and bind together all that was loyal north of the United States boundary.
Walking with Mr. Seward in the streets of Albany, after the day's shouts and ceremonies were over, Mr. Seward said to the Duke, "We really do not want to go to war with you; and we know you dare not go to war with us." To which the Duke replied, "Do not remain under such an error. There is no people under Heaven from whom we should endure so much as from yours; to whom we should make such concessions. You may, while we cannot, forget that we are largely of the same blood. But once touch us in our honour and you will very soon find the bricks of New York and Boston falling about your heads." In relating this to me the Duke added, "I startled Seward a good deal; but he put on a look of incredulity nevertheless. And I do not think they believe we should ever fight them; but we certainly should if the provocation were strong." It will be remarked that this conversation between Seward and the Duke was in 1860. That no one, then, expected a revolution from an anti-slave-state election of President. Still less did the people, of either England or the United States, dream of a divergence, consequent on such an election, to end in a struggle, first for political power, and then following, in providential order, for human freedom. A struggle culminating in the entire subjection of the South, in 1865, after four years' war—a struggle costing a million of lives, untold human misery, and a loss in money, or money's worth, of over a thousand millions sterling.
In our many conversations, I had always ventured to enforce upon the Duke that the passion for territory, for space, would be found at the bottom of all discussion with the United States. Give them territory, not their own, and for a time you would appease them, while, still, the very feast would sharpen their hunger. I reminded the Duke that General Cass had said, "I have an awful swallow ('swaller' was his pronunciation) for territory;" and all Americans have that "awful swallow." The dream of possessing a country extending from the Pole to the Isthmus of Panama, if not to Cape Horn, has been the ambition of the Great Republic—and it is a dangerous ambition for the rest of the world. We have seen its effects in all our treaties. We have always been asked for land. We gave up Michigan after the war of 1812. We gave up that noble piece, the "Aroostook" country, now part of the State of Maine, under the Ashburton Treaty in 1841. We have, again, been shuffled out of our boundary at St. Juan on the Pacific, under an arbitration which really contained its own award. The Reciprocity Treaty was put an end to, in 1866, by the United States, not because the Great West—who may govern the Union if they please—did not want it, but because the Great West was cajoled by the cunning East into believing that a restriction of intercourse between the United States and the British Provinces would, at last, force the subjects of the Queen to seek admission into the Republic. So it was, and is and will be; and the only way to prevent aggression and war was, is, and will be, to "put our foot down." Not to cherish the "peace-in-our-time" policy, or to indulge in the half-hearted language, to which I shall have hereafter to allude—but to combine and strengthen the sections of our Colonial Empire in the West—to give to their people a greater Empire still, a nobler history, and a prouder lot: a lot to last, because based upon institutions which have stood, and will stand, the test of time and trouble. Unfortunately we have had a "little England" party in our country. A Liberal Government, immediately following the Act of Confederation, took every red-coat out of the Dominion of Canada, shipped off, or sold, the very shot and shell to any one, friend or foe, who chose to buy: and the few guns and mortars Canada demanded were charged to her "in account" with the ruth of the miser. If the Duke of Newcastle had been a member of that Cabinet such a miserable policy never could have been put in force; but he was dead. I venture to think that the whole people of England, who knew of the transaction, were ashamed of it. Certainly, I saw, a few years ago, that one member of the very Cabinet which did this thing, repudiated the "little England" policy, as opposed to the best traditions of the Liberal party.
The "little England" party of the past have tried, so far in vain, to alienate these our fellow subjects. But, fortunately for the Empire, while some in the mother country have been indifferent as to whether the Provinces went or stayed, many in the Colonies have been earnest in their desire to escape annexation to the States. The feeling of these patriotic men was well described in December, 1862, by Lord Shaftesbury, at a dinner given to Messrs. Howe, Tilley, Howland and Sicotte, delegates from the Provinces of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. He said Canada addressed us in the affecting language of Ruth —"Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to refrain from following after thee"—and he asked, "Whether the world had ever seen such a spectacle as great and growing nations, for such they were, with full and unqualified power to act as they pleased, insisting on devoting their honor, strength, and substance to the support of the common mother; and not only to be called, but to be, sons." And Lord Shaftesbury asked, "Whether any imperial ruler had ever preferred," as he said Canada had, "love to dominion, and reverence to power."
Lord Shaftesbury's sentiments are, I believe, an echo of those of the "great England" party; but, I repeat, "little England" sold the shot and shell, nevertheless.
Whatever this man or that may claim to have done towards building up Confederation, I, who was in good measure behind the scenes throughout, repeat that to the late Duke of Newcastle the main credit of the measure of 1867 was due. While failing health and the Duke's premature decease left to Mr. Cardwell and Mr. W. E. Forster—and afterwards to Lord Carnarvon and the Duke of Buckingham—the completion of the work before the English Parliament, it was he who stood in the gap, and formed and moulded, with a patience and persistence admirable to behold, Cabinet opinion both in England and in the Provinces. At the same time George Etienne Cartier, John A. Macdonald, and John Ross, in Canada; Samuel L. Tilley, in New Brunswick, and, notably, Joseph Howe, in Nova Scotia, stood together for Union like a wall of brass. And these should ever be the most prominent amongst the honoured names of the authors of an Union of the Provinces under the British Crown.
The works, I repeat, to be effected were—first, the physical union of the Maritime Provinces with Canada by means of Intercolonial Railways; and, second, to get out of the way of any unification, the heavy weight and obstruction of the Hudson's Bay Company. The; latter was most difficult, for abundant reasons.
This difficult work rested mainly on my shoulders.
It may be well here to place in contrast the condition of the Provinces in 1861 and of the Confederation in 1886. In 1861 each of the five Provinces had its separate Governor, Parliament, Executive, and system of taxation. To all intents and purposes, and notwithstanding the functions of the Governor-General and the unity flowing from the control of the British Crown—these Provinces, isolated for want of the means of rapid transit, were countries as separate in every relation of business, or of the associations of life, as Belgium and Holland, or Switzerland and Italy. The associations of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were far more intimate with the United States than with Canada; and the whole Maritime Provinces regulated their tariffs, as Canada did in return, from no consideration of developing a trade with each other, or with the Canadas, between whose territory and the ocean these Provinces barred the way. Thus, isolated and divided, it could be no matter of wonder if their separate political discussions narrowed themselves into local, sectional, and selfish controversies; and if, while each possessing in their Legislature men in abundance who deserved the title of sagacious and able statesmen, brilliant orators, far-sighted men of business, their debates often reminded the stranger who listened to them of the squabbles of local town councils. Again, the Great Republic across their borders, with its obvious future, offered with open arms, and especially to the young and ambitious, a noble field, not shut in by winter or divided by separate governments. Thus the gravitation towards aggregation—which seems to be a condition of the progress of modern states—a condition to be intensified as space is diminished by modern discoveries in rapid transit—was, in the case of the Provinces, rather towards the United States than towards each other or the British Empire. Thus there were, in 1860, many causes at work to discourage the idea of Confederation. And it is by no means improbable that the occurrence of the great Civil War destroyed this tendency.
I remember an incident which occurred at a little dinner party which I gave in Montreal, in September, 1861, to the delegates who assembled there, after my visits, in response to the appeal just made to the Governments of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, on the subject of the Intercolonial Railway. It illustrates the personal isolation alluded to above. The Honorable Joseph Howe, then Premier of Nova Scotia, said, "We have been more like foreigners than fellow-subjects; you do not know us, and we do not know you. There are men in this room, who hold the destinies of this half of the Continent in their hands; and yet we never meet, unless by some chance or other, like the visit of the Prince of Wales, we are obliged to meet. I say," he added, "we have done more good by a free talk over this table, to-night, than all the Governors, general and local, could do in a year, if they did nothing' but write despatches. Oh! if you fellows would only now and then dine and drink with us fellows, we would make a great partnership directly." And the great partnership has been made, save only that Newfoundland still remains separate.
In Canada the divisions between the Upper and Lower Provinces were, in 1861, serious, and often acrimonious; for they were religious as well as political. The rapid growth of Upper Canada, overtopping that of the French-speaking and Catholic Lower Province, led to demands to upset the great settlement of 1839, and to substitute for an equal representation, such a redistribution of seats as would have followed the numerical progression of the country. "Representation by population"—shortly called "Rep. by Pop."—was the great cry of the ardent Liberal or "Grit" party, at whose head was George Brown, of the "Toronto Globe"—powerful, obstinate, Scotch, and Protestant, and with Yankee leanings. In fact, the same principles were in difference as those which evolved themselves in blood in the contest between the North and South between 1861 and 1865. The minority desired to preserve the power and independence which an equal share in parliamentary government had given them. The majority, mainly English and Scotch, and largely Protestant and Presbyterian, chafed under what they deemed to be the yoke of a non-progressive people; a people content to live in modest comfort, to follow old customs, and obey old laws; to defer to clerical authority, and to preserve their separate national identity under the secure protection of a strong Empire. Indeed, it is difficult, in 1886, to realise the heat, or to estimate the danger, of the discussion of this question; and more than one "Grit" politician, whom I could name, would be startled if we reminded him of his opinion in 1861,—that the question would be "settled by a civil war" if it "could not be settled peaceably," but that "settled it must be—and soon."
The cure for this dangerous disease was to provide, for all, a bigger country—a country large enough to breed large ideas. There is a career open in the boundless resources of a varied land for every reasonable ambition, and the young men of Canada, which possesses an excellent educational machinery, may now look forward to as noble, if not more noble, an inheritance than their Republican neighbours—an inheritance where there is room for 100,000,000 of people to live in freedom, comfort, and happiness. While progress will have its periodical checks, and periodical inflations, there is no reason to doubt that before the next century ends the "Dominion," if still part of the Empire, will—in numbers—outstrip the present population of the British Islands.
Now, in 1886, all this past antagonism of "Rep. by Pop." is forgotten. Past and gone. A vast country, rapidly augmenting in population and wealth, free from any serious sectional controversy, free, especially, from any idea of separation, bound together under one governing authority, with one tariff and one system of general taxation, has exhibited a capacity for united action, and for self-government and mutual defence, admirable to behold.
Towards the Pacific—Liverpool to Quebec.
Leaving Liverpool at noon of the 2nd September, 1886, warping out of the dock into the river—a long process—we arrived, in the fine screw steamer "Sardinian," of the Allan line, off Moville, at five on the following morning; and we got out of the inlet at five in the afternoon, after receiving mails and passengers. It may be asked, why a delay of twelve hours at Moville? The answer is—the Bar at Liverpool. The genius and pre-vision of the dock and harbour people at Liverpool keep the entrance to that port in a disgraceful condition, year after year—year after year. And the trade of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, and Derbyshire, is compelled to depend upon a sand-bar, over which, at low tide, there is eight feet of water only. Such a big ship as "The Sardinian" can cross the bar in two short periods, or twice in the twenty-four hours, over a range, probably, of three or four hours. On my return home I wrote the following letter about this bar to "The Times":—
"THE BAR AT LIVERPOOL.
"SIR,—You inserted some time ago in 'The Times' a letter from Professor Ramsay detailing the troubles arising to travellers from the other side of the Atlantic, owing to shallow water outside the entrance to Liverpool, and you enforced the necessity of some improvement, in a very able article. Professor Ramsay was at that time returning from the meeting of the British Association, held in the Dominion of Canada.
"Still, while time goes on, and the question becomes more and more urgent, the bar, with its eight feet of water at low tide, remains as it was, save that some navigators contend that it grows worse.
"Yesterday 340 passengers, of whom I was one, by the noble Cunard ship 'The Etruria,' experienced the difficulty in all its varieties of trouble.
"After rushing through very heavy seas and against violent winds for three or four days, we cast anchor a good way outside the bar at 5 o'clock yesterday (Sunday) morning. The weather was too rough for the fine tug-boat, 'The Skirmisher,' to come so far out. So, after swinging about till 10 o'clock, we moved slowly on, crossed the bar about half- past 11, and were off the northernmost dock later on. Here the usual process of hauling the ship round by the aid of the tug took place, and then the further process of putting the baggage on board the tug, in advance of taking the passengers. I was fortunate in being taken off the ship in a special tug-boat by some friends, got to the landing- stage, where the baggage is examined by the Customs, and, a carriage waiting for me, was at the Central Station at Liverpool at one o'clock. But, with all these comfortable arrangements, I had lost at least seven hours, and had missed all morning trains. The other passengers, I fear, did not get through for two or three hours later, and those for London would be lucky if they just caught the 4 o'clock train.
"It would not, I am told, be prudent to take a ship of the size and draught of 'The Etruria' over the bar till two hours before high water on a flowing, and one hour after on an ebbing, tide. Thus, for such a ship—and the tendency is to build larger and larger vessels—the margin, even in moderate weather, is probably three hours out of the twenty-four, or, in other words, exclusion from the port for twenty-one hours out of the twenty-four, more or less.
"Lancashire will soon have to say whether its manufactures and commerce are to be tied to the bar at Liverpool; and, in the new competition of ports, a port open at any time of tide must ultimately draw the trade and traffic.
"Before the Committee of the House of Commons, on Harbour Accommodation, on which Committee I had the honour to sit, it was proved that every country in Europe, having a sea-board, was making and improving deep-water harbours,—except England.
"Take the case of Antwerp, which is already attracting traffic to and from the great British possessions themselves by reason of its great facilities.
"Liverpool is a place where the dogma of absolute perfection is accepted as a religion. But some of us may be pardoned if, in both local and national interests, we must be dissenters.
"That the bar may be made better instead of growing worse is obvious. But the great cure is by cutting through the peninsula of Birkenhead and obtaining a second entrance to the Mersey, always accessible, and obviously alternative. This was the advice of Telford seventy years ago, and 'The Times' has called public attention to a practical way of working out the Telford idea, planned by Mr. Baggallay, C.E., and laid before the Liverpool authorities—in vain.
"I may add that if our ship had called at Holyhead, the London passengers might have left Holyhead on Saturday evening instead of Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, a difference of a day.
"I beg to remain very faithfully yours, "EDWARD W. WATKIN. "Northenden, Oct. 18, 1886."
Some Liverpool cotton broker wrote to me to say that I had forgotten that there were two tides in the twenty-four hours. Nothing of the kind. There was one word miswritten, and, therefore, misprinted, which I have corrected: but the broad fact remains, and why my compatriots in the broad Lancashire district do not see the danger, I cannot comprehend, unless it be that some of them are up in the "Ship Canal" balloon, and others, the best of them, are indifferent.
Steaming along, after leaving Moville, we passed Tory Island, the scene of many wrecks, and of disasters around. It has a lighthouse, but no telegraphic communication with the shore at all.
I wrote a letter about that to the Editor of the "Standard." Here it is:—
"SIR,—Newspapers are not to be had here, but as this good ship is only a week out from Liverpool, and five days from out of sight of land to sight of land, I may fairly assume that Parliament is still discussing Irish questions.
"Thus I ask your indulgence to make reference to a question which is decidedly Irish, but is also Imperial, in the sense that it affects the lives of large numbers of persons, especially of the emigrant class, and is interesting to all the navigation and commerce of necessity passing the north-west extremity of Ireland.
"If your readers will refer to the map they will see, outside the north-west corner of the mainland of Ireland, Tory Island. It was on Tory Island that 'The Wasp' and her gallant captain were lost, without hope of rescue, for want of cable communication; and Tory Island itself has excited the interest of the philanthropist on many occasions. On Tory Island there is a lighthouse, with a fixed light, which can be seen sixteen miles. Not long ago, as I learn, a deputation from the Board of Irish Lighthouses went all the way to England to beg the Board of Trade, at Whitehall, to sanction the expenditure of eight hundred pounds, with a view to double the power of the light on Tory Island. Perhaps the Board of Trade, after some interval of time, may see their way to do what any man of business would decide upon in five minutes as obvious and essential. But that is not the point I wish to lay before you. My point is, that while the lighthouse on Tory Island is good for warning ships, and may, as above, be made more effective, no use is made of it in the way of transmitting ship intelligence.
"I ask, therefore, to be allowed to advocate the connection of Tory Island, by telegraph cable, with the mainland of Ireland and its telegraph system. The cost of doing this one way would, as I estimate, be two thousand five hundred pounds; the cost of doing it another way would be about six thousand pounds.
"The first way would be by a cable from the lighthouse on Tory Island, leaving either Portdoon Bay, on the east end of Tory Island, or leaving Camusmore Bay on the south of it, and landing either on the sandy beach at Drumnafinny Point, or at Tramore Bay, where there is a similarly favourable beach. The distance in the former case is six and a half, in the latter seven and a half miles, the distance being slightly affected by the starting point selected. Adopting this route at a cost of two thousand five hundred pounds, which would include about twenty miles of cheap land telegraphs, available for postal and other local purposes, would be the shortest and cheapest mode.
"The second way would be to lay a cable from Tory Island to Malin Head, where the Allan Steamship Company have a signal station. The distance is twenty-nine miles; the cost, as I estimate, about six thousand pounds. I should, however, prefer the former and cheaper plan, as I think it would serve a larger number of purposes and interests.
"From Portdoon Bay, on Tory Island, to Tramore Bay the sea-bottom is composed of sand and shells, very good for cable-laying; and there is a depth of water of from seventeen to nineteen fathoms.
"Tory Island is the turning point—I might say pivot point—for all steam and sailing vessels coming from the South and across the Western Ocean, and using the North of Ireland route for Liverpool, Londonderry, Belfast, Glasgow, and a host of other ports and places. It can be approached with safety at a distance of half-a-mile, near the lighthouse, as the water is deep close to, there being twenty fathoms at a distance of one-third of a mile from the Island.
"The steamers of all the Canadian lines pass this point—the Allan, the Beaver, the Anchor, the Dominion—while all the steam lines beginning and ending at Glasgow, Greenock, and other Scotch ports do the same. Again, all sailing vessels, carrying a great commerce for Liverpool and ports up to Greenock and Glasgow, and round the north of Scotland to Newcastle and the East Coast ports, would be largely served by this proposal. Repeating that this is a question of saving life and of aiding navigation at an infinitesimal cost, I will now proceed to show the various benefits involved.
"First of all it would save five hours, as compared with present plans, in signalling information of the passing to and fro of steamships. As respect all Canadian and many other steamers it would also expedite the mails, by enabling the steam tenders at Loch Foyle to come out and meet the ships outside at Innishowen Head; and this gain of time would often save a tide across the bar at Liverpool, and sometimes a day to the passengers going on by trains. As respects the Scotch steamers going north of Tory Island, it would enable the owners to learn the whereabouts of their vessels fourteen hours sooner than at present. In the case of sailing ships the advantages are far greater. Captain Smith, of this ship, a commander of deserved eminence, informs me that he has known sailing ships to be tacking about at the entrance of the Channel, between the Mull of Cantyre and the north coast of Ireland, for eighteen days in adverse and dangerous winds, unable to communicate with their owners, who, if informed by telegraph, could at once send tugs to their relief. Again, when eastern winds prevail, in the spring of the year, tugs being sent, owners would get their ships into port many days, or even weeks, sooner than at present.
"But it needs no arguing that to all windbound and to disabled ships the means of thus calling for assistance would be invaluable.
"For the above reason I hope the slight cost involved will not be grudged, especially by our patriots, who have taken the Irish and Scotch emigrants under their special protection. I respectfully invite them and every one else to aid in protecting life and property in this obvious way.
"I am, Sir, your obedient Servant, "E. W. WATKIN. "S.S. Sardinian, off Belle Isle, "September 9, 1886."
Our voyage on to Quebec had the usual changes of weather: hot sun, cold winds, snow, hail, icebergs, and gales of wind, and, when nearing Belle Isle, dense fog, inducing our able, but prudent, captain to stop his engines till daylight, when was sighted a wall of ice across our track at no great distance. Captain Smith prefers to take the north side of Belle Isle. There is a lighthouse on the Island, not, I thought, in a very good situation for passing on the north side. But I found that there was no cable communication between Belle Isle and Anticosti. Thus, in case of disaster, the only warning to Quebec would be the non- arrival of the ship, and the delay might make help too late. I ventured to call the attention of a leading member of the Canadian Government to this want of means of sending intelligence of passing ships and ships in distress. In winter this strait is closed by ice, and the lighthouses are closed too. Inside the fine inlet of "Amour Bay," a natural dock, safe and extensive, we saw the masts of a French man-of- war. The French always protect their fishermen; we at home usually let them take care of themselves. This French ship had been in these English waters some time; and on a recent passage there was gun-firing, and the movement of men, to celebrate, as the captain learned, the taking of the Bastille. On the opposite coast is a little cove, in which a British ship got ashore, and was stripped by the local pirates of everything. Captain Smith took off the crew and reported the piracy; but nothing seems to have been done. A British war-ship is never seen in these distant and desolate northern regions. It may well be that the sparse population think all the coasts still belong to France, in addition to the Isles of St. Pierre and Miquelon. This is how our navy is managed. Can it be true that the Marquis of Lorne recommended that an ironclad should be sent to Montreal for a season, as an emblem of British power and sway—and was refused?
After some trouble with fog and wind, preceded by a most remarkable Aurora Borealis, and some delay at night at Rimouska, we reached Quebec, and got alongside at Point Levi, on the afternoon of Saturday, the 11th September; and I had great pleasure in meeting my old friend Mr. Hickson, who came down to meet Mrs. Hickson and his son and daughter, fellow-passengers of mine. I also at once recognized Dr. Rowand, the able medical officer of the Port of Quebec, who I had not set eyes on for twenty-four years. I stayed the night at Russell's Hotel; and next day renewed my acquaintance with the city, finding the "Platform" wonderfully enlarged and improved, the work of Lord Dufferin, a new and magnificent Courthouse being built, and, above all, an immense structure of blue-grey stone, intended for the future Parliament House of the Province of Quebec. The facility of borrowing money in England on mere provincial, or town, security, appears to be a Godsend to architects and builders, and to aid and exalt local ambition for fine, permanent structures. Well, the buildings remain. To find the grand old fortifications of Quebec in charge of a handful of Canadian troops, seemed strange. Such fortresses belong to the Empire; and the Queen's redcoats should hold them all round the world. I was told—I hope it is not true—that the extensive works above Point Levi, opposite Quebec, constructed by British military labour, are practically abandoned to decay and weeds.
To the Pacific—Montreal to Port Moody.
On the evening of the 12th September I left Quebec by the train for Montreal, and travelled over the "North Shore" line of 200 miles. One of the secretaries of the Vice-President of the Canadian Pacific, Mr. Van Horn, called upon me to say that accommodation was reserved for me in the train; and that Mr. Van Horn was sending down his own car, which would meet me half way. It was no use protesting against the non- necessity of such luxurious treatment. I was further asked, if I had "got transportion?" which puzzled me. But I found, being interpreted, the question was modern American for "Have you got your through ticket?" I replied, that I had paid my fare right through from Liverpool to Vancouver's Island—as every mere traveller for his own pleasure ought to do; and I was remonstrated with for so unkind a proceeding, as the fact of my having been President of the Grand Trunk was of itself a passport all over Canada.
At Three Rivers, about half way, while reading by very good light—good lamp, excellent oil, very good trimming—there was some shunting of the train, and the usual "bang" of the attachment of a carriage. A moment afterwards Mr. Van Horn's car steward entered, and asked if I was Sir Edward Watkin; and he guessed I must come into Mr. Van Horn's car, sent specially down for me. Where was my baggage? I need not say that I was soon removed from the little, beautifully-fitted, drawing-room into this magnificent car. In passing through, I heard some growls, in French, about stopping the train, and sending a car for one "Anglais." So, on being settled in the new premises, I sent my compliments, stating that I only required one seat, and that I was certain that the car was intended for the general convenience, and would they do me the favour to finish their journey in it? I received very polite replies, stating that every one was very comfortable where he was. One Englishman, however, came in to make my acquaintance, but left me soon. I now became acquainted with Mr. Van Horn's car steward—James French, or, as his admirers call him, "Jim"—and I certainly wish to express my gratitude to him for his intelligence, thoughtfulness, admirable cookery, and general good nature. He took me, a few days later, right across to the Pacific in this same car, which certainly was a complete house on wheels—bedroom, "parlour, kitchen and all." His first practical suggestion was, would I take a little of Mr. Van Horn's "old Bourbon" whisky? It was "very fine, first rate." On my assenting, he asked would I take it "straight," as Mr. Van Horn did, or would I have a little seltzer water? I elected the latter, at the same time observing, that when I neared the Rocky Mountains perhaps I should have improved my ways so much that I could take it "straight" also.
At Montreal, my old friend and aforetime collaborateur, Mr. Joseph Hickson, met me and took me home with him; and in his house, under the kind and generous care of Mrs. Hickson, I spent three delightful days, and renewed acquaintance with many old friends of times long passed. It was on the 28th December, 1861, that Mr. Hickson first went to Canada in the Cunard steamer "Canada" from Liverpool. He was accompanied by Mr. Watkin, our only son, a youth of 15, anxious to see the bigger England. Mr. Watkin afterwards entered the service (Grand Trunk), in the locomotive department, at Montreal, and deservedly gained the respect of his superior officer, who had to delegate to Mr. Watkin, then under 18, the charge of a thousand men. There were, also, Howson, Wright, Wainwright, and Barker; subsequently, Wallis. Mr. John Taylor, who acted as my private secretary in my previous visit, I had left behind, much to his distress at the time, much for his good afterwards. Mr. Barker is now the able manager of the Buenos Ayres Great Southern Railway, a most prosperous undertaking; and poor dear, big, valiant, hard-working Wallis is, alas! no more: struck down two years ago by fever. These old friends, still left in Canada, are leading honorable, useful, and successful lives, respected by the community. To see them again made it seem as if the world had stood still for a quarter of a century. Then, again, there was my old friend and once colleague, the Honble. James Ferrier, a young-minded and vigorous man of 86: who, on my return to Montreal, walked down to the grand new offices of the Grand Trunk, near Point St. Charles—offices very much unlike the old wooden things I left behind, and which were burnt down—to see me and walked back again. Next day I had the advantage of visiting the extensive workshops and vast stock yards of the Canadian Pacific, at Hochelaga, to the eastward of Montreal, and of renewing my acquaintance with the able solicitor of the Company, Mr. Abbot, and with the secretary, an old Manchester man, Mr. Drinkwater. Then on the following day Mr. Peterson, the engineer of this section of the Canadian Pacific Company, drove me out to Lachine, and took me by his boat, manned by the chief and a crew of Indians, to see the finished piers and also the coffer-dams and works of the new bridge over the St. Lawrence, by means of which his Company are to reach the Eastern Railways of the United States, without having to use the great Victoria Bridge at Montreal. This bridge, of 1,000 yards, or 3,000 feet, in length, is a remarkable structure. It was commenced in May and intended to be finished in November. But the foundations of the central pier, in deep and doubtful water, were not begun, though about to begin, and this, as it appeared to me, might delay the work somewhat. The work is a fine specimen of engineering, by which I mean the adoption of the simplest and cheapest mode of doing what is wanted. All the traffic purposes required are here secured in a few months, and for about 200,000l. only.
The "Victoria" bridge at Montreal is a very different structure. A long sheet-iron box, 9,184 feet in length, with 26 piers 60 feet above the water level, and costing from first to last 2,000,000l. sterling. The burning of coal had begun to affect it; but Mr. Haunaford, the chief engineer of the Grand Trunk, has made some openings in the roof, which do not in any way reduce the strength of the bridge, and at the same time get rid of, at once into the air, the sulphurous vapours arising from coal combustion.
Mr. Peterson told me that their soundings in winter showed that ice thickened and accumulated at the bottom of the river. This would seem, at first sight, impossible. But experiment, Mr. Peterson said, had proved the fact, which was accounted for by scientific people in various and, in some cases, conflicting ways. May it not be that the accumulation is ice from above, loaded with earth or stones, which, sinking to the bottom by gravity, coagulates from the low temperature it produces itself? Mr. Peterson is not merely an engineer, and an excellent one, but an observant man of business. His views upon the all-important question of colonising the unoccupied lands of the Dominion seemed to be wise and far-sighted. He would add to the homestead grants of land, an advance to the settler—a start, in fact —of stock and material, to be repaid when final title to the property, were given.
Taking leave of my old friends, I left Montreal at 8 p.m. on the night of September 15th, in the ordinary "Pacific Express," on which was attached Mr. Van Horn's car, in charge of James French. I went by ordinary train because I was anxious to have an experience of the actual train-working. Mr. Edward Wragge, C.E., of Toronto, an able engineer of great experience, located now at Toronto, has sent me so concise an account of the journey of this train, and of the general engineering features of the line, that, anticipating his kind permission, I venture to copy it:—
"Leaving Montreal in Mr. Van Horn's car, the 'Saskatchewan,' by the 8 p.m. train on the 15th September, we passed Ottawa at 11.35 p.m.
"During the night we ran over that portion of the Canadian Pacific Railway which was formerly called the Canada Central Railway, and reached Callander (344 miles from Montreal), the official eastern terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, at 8.30 a.m. 13 miles from this, at Thorncliff is the junction with the Northern and Pacific Junction Railway, which forms the connection with Toronto and Western Ontario, being distant from Toronto 227 miles. At North Bay, which is a divisional terminus, the line touches Lake Nipissing, where there is a flourishing settlement, the land being of a fair quality. The line is laid with steel rails, about 56 lbs. to the lineal yard, and with ties about 2,640 to the mile. For the first 60 or 70 miles from Callander the line is ballasted entirely by sand, and, with the exception of a few settlements, is entirely without fencing. Most of the bridges are of timber; but there are one or two of the larger ones of iron or steel, with masonry abutments.
"At Sudbury is the junction with the Algama Branch, not yet opened for traffic. This is 443 miles from Montreal. After leaving Sudbury the character of the country changes, and is alternately swampy and wild rocky land. Numerous large trestles are necessary, which will eventually be filled in with culverts and earthwork. The schedule running time of the trains along this portion of the line is 24 miles per hour, including stoppages.
"At 8 p.m. Chapleau, another divisional terminus, was reached, and the schedule running time during the night from that point to Heron Bay, reached at 5.15 a.m. the following morning, is 20 miles an hour. At Heron Bay (802 miles from Montreal) the north shore of Lake Superior is first touched, and the line runs along it to Port Arthur, a distance of 993 miles from Montreal. The scenery here is very wild and picturesque. At one time the line runs along the face of the rock, with the lake from 50 to 100 feet below, the road-bed being benched out on the cliff, and at another time is away back among barren hills and rocks, crossing several large streams (with either bridges of iron and masonry or timber trestle work), which streams flow into the lake at the north end of deep indentations or arms of the lake. The line through this district is winding, having many sharp curves and steep grades. There are several short tunnels, all of them through rock, and not lined. The schedule time for trains on this portion of the line is 16 miles per hour. We were detained some little time near Jack Fish, owing to a slight land slide coming down in one of the cuttings.
"The Nepigon River is crossed at a high level with a steel trussed bridge, masonry piers and abutments, and there is an old Hudson's Bay settlement on the river a short distance above the bridge. Between Nepigon and Port Arthur the line runs through a country much more accessible for railways, and the schedule time here is at the rate of 24 miles an hour. We reached Port Arthur at 4 p.m. on the 17th. This is a flourishing town, situated at the head of Thunder Bay, a large bay on the north shore of Lake Superior, and has a population of four or five thousand at the present time. From the north shore of Lake Nipissing to this point, however, a distance of over 600 miles, the country may be said to be almost without inhabitants, except those connected with the working of the railway, squatters, and Hudson's Bay trappers and traders. The weather was chilly during the evening of this day, and a heavy sleet storm arose before arriving at Port Arthur. At night a fire had to be lighted in the car, as there was a sharp frost. During the night the train was detained for some little time east of Rat Portage, in consequence of a trestle having given way while being pulled in, and the train arrived at Rat Portage at 7.30 a.m., four hours, behind time.
"From Port Arthur the line westward is run upon the 24 o'clock system, commencing from midnight; 1 p.m. being 13 o'clock, 2 p.m. being 14 o'clock, and so on. The train arrived at Winnipeg at 12.45 on the 18th (1,423 miles from Montreal), and time was allowed to drive round the town, the train leaving again for the west at 13.30 o'clock. From Winnipeg westward the line runs through a prairie country, which extends without intermission to Calgary, a distance of 838 miles, and 2,261 from Montreal. At Winnipeg the Company have good machine shops, round houses, &c., and a large yard, and has acquired 132 acres of land for these purposes of working and repair and renewal.
"The country for three or four hundred miles from Winnipeg west is more or less settled; in some parts farms are quite numerous, and the land good and well cultivated. At Portage la Prairie the Manitoba and North- Western Line leaves the Canadian Pacific. It is being rapidly pushed forward, and 120 miles of it have already been completed through the 'Fertile belt.' It should have been mentioned that the line between Port Arthur and Winnipeg, a length of 430 miles, was constructed by the Government of Canada and given to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company free as a portion of their system. This part of the line is laid with 57 lbs. steel rails, and is well ballasted. The line is also ballasted east of Port Arthur, though in some places the ballast is of poor quality, and in others there is not sufficient of it. West of Winnipeg, however, there is no ballast across the prairie, except where the excavations through which the line goes afford ballast, it being simply surfaced up from side ditches with whatever the material may happen to be; but it is in good condition for a line of such a character, and the schedule time is 24 miles an hour, including stoppages.
"The train ran through Qu'Appelle, Regina, and Moose Jaw during the night of the 18th, and reached Dunmore (650 miles from Winnipeg) at 15.30 o'clock on the 19th. At this point there is a branch, 3-feet gauge line, 110 miles in length, to the Lethbridge mines, belonging to Sir Alexander Galt & Company. His son, Mr. Galt, met us at Dunmore, and invited us to go and inspect the mines, but as it would have made a delay of at least one day, the idea had regretfully to be abandoned. The train reached Bassano (750 miles from Winnipeg) at 19 o'clock, our time, having made up 3 hours and 20 minutes since leaving Winnipeg, which was the time late leaving there. The train was then exactly 97 hours since leaving Montreal, having travelled 2,180 miles, an average speed, including all stoppages and delays, of 22-1/2 miles an hour.
"During the night of the 19th and the early morning of the 20th, the train ran through Calgary, at the foothills of the Atlantic slope of the Rocky Mountains; and at 5.30 on the 20th arrived at the summit of the Rocky Mountains. As it was just daylight we were enabled to see the scenery at that point and Kicking Horse Pass. From the summit of the Rocky Mountains, for some nine miles, the line is considered to be merely a temporary one, though permanently and strongly constructed, there being a grade for two or three miles of it of 4-1/2 feet per hundred, say 1 in 22-1/2. There are several catch sidings on this grade, running upwards on the slopes of the mountains, for trains or cars to be turned into, in the event of a break loose or run away, and a man is always in attendance at the switches leading to these sidings. All this day the train ran through mountains, the Rocky Mountains, the Selkirk Range, and Eagle Pass. With the exception of the steep grade mentioned, the ruling ones are 116 feet to the mile, and there are numerous sharp curves, usually to save short tunnels. The line, however, is in some parts well ballasted, and work is still going on in this direction. The rails are of steel, 70 lbs. to the yard, and the locomotives, of the "Consolidation" pattern, with eight driving wheels, are able, Mr. Marpole, the able divisional superintendent, stated, to take a train of 12 loaded cars over the ruling grades, two of them being required for the same load on the steep grade already mentioned at Kicking Horse Pass. Mr. Marpole stopped the train at the Stony Creek Bridge, a large timber structure 296 feet high, and said to be the highest wooden bridge in America. The scenery through the Selkirks is magnificent, the mountain peaks being six and seven thousand feet above the level of the railway, many of them even at this season of the year covered with snow, and there being several large glaciers.
"During last year, before the line was opened for traffic, observations were taken with the view of ascertaining what trouble might be anticipated from avalanches, the avalanch paths through the Selkirks being very numerous. Several large avalanches occurred, the largest covering the track for a length of 1,300 feet, with a depth in one place of 50 feet of snow, and containing, as was estimated, a quarter of a million cubic yards of snow and earth. The result of these observations caused the Company to construct during this season four- and-a-half miles of snow sheds, at a cost of $900,000, or $200,000 a mile.
"The sheds are constructed as follows:—On the high side of the mountain slope a timber crib filled with stones is constructed. Along the entire length of the shed, and on the opposite side of the track, a timber trestle is erected, strong timber beams are laid from the top of the cribwork to the top of the trestle, 4 feet apart and at an angle representing the slope of the mountain, as nearly as possible. These are covered over with 4-inch planking, and the beams are strutted on either side from the trestle and from the crib. The covering is placed at such a height as to give 21 feet headway from the under side of the beam to the centre of the track. The longest of these sheds is 3,700 feet, and is near the Glacier Hotel.
"Over the Selkirk Range the schedule time for trains from Donald to Revelstoke, that is, from the first to the second crossing of the Columbia River, a distance of 79 miles, is only eleven miles an hour; but this time table was made before there was much ballast on this portion of the line, and better time can now be made. On the 21st September the Fraser River was crossed early in the morning over a steel cantilever bridge, and the line runs down the gorge of the Fraser River to Port Moody, reached at noon. The train had thus been travelling from 8 p.m. on the 15th September to 12 noon on the 21st, apparently a total of 136 hours; but, allowing for the gain of three hours in time, an actual total of 139 hours. During this time the train travelled 2,892 miles, or an average speed made throughout the journey, including all stoppages, of 20-1/2 miles per hour, and this is the regular schedule time for passenger trains at the present time.
"Port Moody is the present terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, but the line has been partially graded for 12 miles further to Vancouver. Owing, however, to the hostile attitude of some landowners, the Company have not been able to complete this work, as the contention has been made that, although the Company have power to build branches, an extension of the main line is not a branch, and the Company will have to obtain legislation before this can be done. Vancouver at the present time is said to have a population of about 3,000. It is situated at Burrard Inlet, a mile or so inside what are called the First Narrows, but the neck of land on which it is situate is only about a mile across; and in the future, when the town grows, English Bay, which is outside the Narrows, can easily be made the harbour in preference to the present one, as it is fairly well sheltered, and affords good anchorage.
"The trip down Burrard Inlet, the Straits of Georgia, and through the San Juan Archipelago to Victoria, a distance of about 90 miles from Port Moody, occupied 9-1/2 hours, and Victoria was reached at 10.30 on the night of the 21st September."
To this memorandum I may add a few words. First, in praise of the excellent rolling stock; secondly, of the good discipline and smartness of the service; and, thirdly, of the wonderful energy, boldness, and success of the whole engineering features of this grand work of modern times. I should be ungrateful if I did not thank the chief officers of the Canadian Pacific, whose acquaintance I had great pleasure in making, for their exceeding kindness, for the full information they afforded to me, and for showing me many cheap, short, and ready plans of construction, which might well be adopted in Europe. These gentlemen have looked at difficulties merely in respect to the most summary way of surmounting them; and, certainly, the great and bold works around the head of Lake Superior, the many river and ravine crossings of unusual span and height, and, especially, the works of the 600 miles of mountain country between Calgary and the last summit of British Columbia, so successfully traversed, would make the reputation of a dozen Great George Streets.
Canadian Pacific Railways.
The pioneer suggestion of a railway across British territory to the Pacific has been claimed by many. To my mind, all valuable credit attaches to those who have completed the work. The christening of "La Chine"—the town seven miles from Montreal, where the canals which go round the rapids end, and the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa rivers join their differently coloured streams—contained the prophecy of a future great high road to the then mysterious East, to China, to Japan, to Australia; and it is to the Sieur de la Salle, who, 200 years ago, bought lands above the rapids from the Sulpician Fathers of Montreal, and began his many attempts to reach the lands of the "setting sun," that we owe the name; while the resolution of Sir Charles Tupper, carried in the Dominion Parliament, finally embodied in an Act which received the Royal assent on the 17th February, 1881, and was opposed throughout by the "Grit" party, was really the practical start. It would be inadequate to write of the Great Canadian Pacific Railway without some reference to the history of railways in Canada itself.
In the interesting book, "Rambles on Railways," published in 1868, it is remarked that great as has been the progress of Canada, in no respect has the growth of the country shown itself in a more marked manner than in the development of its railway system. It was in 1848, or almost immediately after the completion of the magnificent canal system of Canada proper, and by which vessels of 800 tons could pass from the ocean to Lake Ontario, and vice versa (ships now pass from Chicago to Liverpool of over 1,500 tons burthen), that the Canadians discovered it was necessary, notwithstanding their unrivalled inland navigation, to combine with it an equally good railway communication; and accordingly, in 1849, an Act was passed by the Canadian Government pledging a six per cent. guarantee on one-half the cost of all railways made under its provisions. In 1852, however, the Government, fearing the effect of an indiscriminate guarantee, repealed the law of 1849, and passed an Act guaranteeing one-half of the cost of one main Trunk line of railway throughout the Province, and it was under this Act that the Grand Trunk Railway was projected.
These terms were subsequently modified, by granting a fixed sum of 3,000l. per mile of railway forming part of the main Trunk line. It is true that prior to these dates railways existed in Canada. There was, for example, the horse railway from La Prairie, nine miles above Montreal, to St. John's on the Richelieu River, opened in July, 1836, and first worked with locomotives in 1837; there was also a horse railway between Queenstown and Chippewa, passing Niagara, opened in 1839, and over which I travelled in 1851; but with these exceptions, and the Lachine Railway, a line running from Montreal for seven miles to the westward, the railway system of Canada cannot be said to have commenced until after the passing of the Railway Act in 1849, and even then, it was not for about a year that any progress was made. Soon after that date, however, the works of several lines were pushed forward, and in 1854 the section between Montreal and Quebec was opened, the first train having carried Lord Elgin, who was then en route to England to confer with the home authorities respecting the future Reciprocity Treaty with the United States Government. So, whilst in 1852, Canada could only boast of about 30 miles of railway, she has now over 10,000 miles. The population of the Dominion is estimated roughly at 5,000,000, so that this mileage gives something over two miles of railway for every thousand inhabitants, a greater railway mileage system per head of population than, perhaps, is possessed by any other country in the world.
The old Grand Trunk proprietors feel that their early pioneer services to Canada, and their heavy sacrifices, have rather been ignored in competition, than recognized, by the Canadian Pacific not being an extension of the Grand Trunk system. Had I remained in office as President of the Grand Trunk, undoubtedly I should have laboured hard to bring about such a consummation, which undoubtedly would have economised capital and hastened the completion of the great Inter- oceanic work. But the London agents of Canada, who were, and are, responsible for launching the Grand Trunk and for its many issues of capital to British shareholders, have undoubtedly aided the competition and rivalry complained of; for in July, 1885, they floated—when other great financial houses were unable—3,000,000l. sterling, not for the Pacific line itself, but to complete other extensions of the Pacific Company's system of a directly competitive character with the Grand Trunk, and which could never have been finished but for this British money, so raised. While I do not enter into the controversy, it still seems to me that blame lies nearer home than in Canada, if blame be deserved at all. Great financiers seem sometimes ready to devour their own industrial children.
The Canadian Pacific Railway from Quebec to Port Moody is a mixture of the new and the old. The first section, from Quebec to Montreal, is an old friend, the North Shore Railway, once possessed by the Grand Trunk Company, and sold back to the Canadian Government for purposes of extending the Pacific route to tide-water at Quebec, and making one, throughout, management. From Montreal to Ottawa, and beyond, is another section of older-made line. The piece from Port Arthur to Winnipeg is an older railway, made by the Canadian Government. Again, on the Pacific there is the British Columbia Government Railway. All the rest, round the head of Lake Superior up to Port Arthur, from Winnipeg across the Great Prairies to Calgary, and on to, and across, the Rocky Mountains, the crossings of the Selkirk and other Columbian Ranges, is new Railway—with works daring and wonderful.
Pioneer railways are not like works at home. The lines are single, with crossing places every five, ten, or twenty miles; ballast is not always used, the lines on prairies being laid for long stretches on the earth formation; rivers, chasms, canons and cataracts are crossed by timber trestle bridges. The rails, of steel, are flat bottomed, fastened by spikes, 60 lbs. to the yard, except through the mountains, where they are 70 lbs.
Begun as pioneer works, they undergo, as traffic progresses, many improvements. Ballast is laid down. Iron or steel bridges are substituted for timber. The gorges spanned by trestles are, one by one, filled up, by the use of the steam digger to fill, and the ballast plough to push out, the stuff from the flat bottomed wagons on each side and through the interstices of, the trestles. Sometimes the timber is left in; sometimes it is drawn out and used elsewhere. This trestle bridge plan of expediting the completion, and cheapening the construction, of new railways, wants more study, at home. Whenever there are gorges and valleys to pass in a timbered country, the facility they give of getting "through" is enormous. The Canadian Pacific would not be open now, but for this facility.
All these lines across the Continent have very similar features. They each have prairies to pass, with long straight lines and horizons which seem ever vanishing and never reached; mountain ranges of vast altitudes to cross, alkaline lands, hitherto uncultivable, hot sulphur springs, prairie-dogs, gophyrs, and other animals not usually seen. The buffalo has retired from the neighbourhood of these iron-roads and of the "fire-wagons," as the Indians call the locomotives. Here and there on all the prairies on all the lines, heaps of whitened bones, of buffalo, elk, and stag, are piled up at stations, to be taken away for agricultural purposes. The railways resemble each other in their ambitious extensions. The Canadian Pacific Railway, from Quebec to Port Moody, is above 3,000 miles in length, but the total mileage of the Company is already 4,600 miles, and no one knows where it is to stop, while Messrs. Baring and Glyn will, and can, raise money from English people; the Union Pacific possesses 4,500 miles in the United States; the Southern Pacific nearly 5,000; and the newest of the three, the Northern Pacific, has about 3,000 miles, and is "marching on" to a junction with Grand Trunk extensions at the southern end of Lake Superior, in order to complete a second Atlantic and Pacific route, through favoured Canada. Each of these great lines has found the necessity of supplementing the through, with as much local traffic, as it can command. Some of this is new, such as the coal traffic from Sir Alexander Galt's mines, situated on a branch line of 110 miles, running out of the Canadian Pacific at Dunmore, and the mineral traffic in the territory of Wyoming on the Union Pacific. But, again, some of it is the result of competition. Let us hope that the development of both Canada and the United States may quickly give trade enough for all. It seems to me, however, that the Ocean to Ocean traffic, alone, cannot, at present at least, find a good return for so many railways.
Canada has been unusually generous to the promoters of the Canadian Pacific Railway. A free gift of five millions sterling: a free gift of 713 miles of, completed, railway: a free gift of twenty-five millions of acres of land: all materials admitted free of duty: the lands given to be free of taxation for twenty years: the Company's, property to be free of taxation: the Company to have absolute control in fixing its rates and charges until it should pay 10 per cent. dividend on its Ordinary Stock: and for twenty years no competitive Railway to be sanctioned;—summarize the liberality of the Dominion of Canada, in her efforts to bind together her Ocean coasts. The work is essentially an Imperial work. What is the duty of the Empire?
A British Railway from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
("ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS," 1861.)
My letter of the 15th November, 1860, to a friend of Mr. Thomas Baring, then President of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, gives concisely my general notions of opening up the British portion of the Great Continent of America. A while later a leading article written by me appeared in the "Illustrated London News" of the 16th February, 1861. The article was headed, "A British Railway from the Atlantic to the Pacific." I will here quote a portion of it:—
"'I hope,' said her Majesty, on proroguing Parliament in 1858, 'that the new Colony on the Pacific (British Columbia) may be but one step in the career of steady progress by which my dominions in North America may be ultimately peopled in an unbroken chain, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, by a loyal and industrious population.' The aspiration, so strikingly expressed, found a fervent echo in the national heart, and it continues to engage the earnest attention of England; for it speaks of a great outspread of solid prosperity and of rational liberty, of the diffusion of our civilization, and of the extension of our moral empire.
"Since the Royal Speech, Governments have done something, and events have done more, to ripen public opinion into action. The Governments at home and in Canada have organized and explored. The more perfect discoveries of our new gold fields on the Pacific, the Indian Mutiny, the completion of great works in Canada, the treaties with Japan and with China, the visit of the Prince of Wales to the American Continent, and, at the moment, the sad dissensions in the United States, combine to interest us in the question, and to make us ask, 'How is this hope to be realized; not a century hence, but in our time?'
"Our augmenting interests in the East, demand, for reasons both of Empire and of trade, access to Asia less dangerous than by Cape Horn, less circuitous even than by Panama, less dependent than by Suez and the Red Sea. Our emigration, imperilled by the dissensions of the United States, must fall back upon colonization. And, commercially, the countries of the East must supply the raw materials and provide the markets, which probable contests between the free man and the slave may diminish, or may close, elsewhere. Again, a great nation like ours cannot stand still. It must either march on triumphantly in the van, or fall hopelessly into the rear. The measure of its accomplishment must, century by century, rise higher and higher in the competition of nations. Its great works in this generation can alone perpetuate its greatness in the next.
"Let us look at the map: there we see, coloured as 'British America,' a tract washed by the great Atlantic on the East, and by the Pacific Ocean on the West, and containing 4,000,000 square miles, or one-ninth of the whole terrestrial surface of the globe. Part of this vast domain, upon the East, is Upper and Lower Canada; part, upon the West, is the new Colony of British Columbia, with Vancouver's Island (the Madeira of the Pacific); while the largest portion is held, as one great preserve, by the fur-trading Hudson's Bay Company, who, in right of a charter given by Charles II., in 1670, kill vermin for skins, and monopolise the trade with the Native Indians over a surface many times as big again as Great Britain and Ireland. Still, all this land is ours, for it owes allegiance to the sceptre of Victoria. Between the magnificent harbour of Halifax, on the Atlantic, open throughout the year for ships of the largest class, to the Straits of Fuca, opposite Vancouver's Island, with its noble Esquimault inlet, intervene some 3,200 miles of road line. For 1,400 or 1,500 miles of this distance, the Nova Scotian, the Habitan, and the Upper Canadian have spread, more or less in lines and patches over the ground, until the population of 60,000 of 1759 amounts to 2,500,000 in 1860. The remainder is peopled only by the Indian and the hunter, save that at the southern end of Lake Winnipeg there still exists the hardy and struggling Red River Settlement, now called 'Fort Garry:' and dotted all over the Continent, as lights of progress, are trading posts of the Hudson's Bay Company.
"The combination of recent discoveries places it at least beyond all doubt that the best, though, perhaps, not the only, thoroughly efficient route for a great highway for peoples and for commerce, between the Atlantic and the Pacific, is to be found through this British territory. Beyond that, it is alleged that while few, if any, practicable passes for a wagon-road, still less for a railway, can be found through the Rocky Mountains across the United States' territory, north-west of the Missouri, there have been discovered already no less than three eligible openings in the British ranges of these mountains, once considered as inaccessible to man. While Captain Palliser prefers the 'Kananaskakis,' Captain Blakiston and Governor Douglas, the 'Kootanie,' and Dr. Hector the 'Vermilion' Pass, all agree that each is perfectly practicable, if not easy, and that even better openings may probably yet be found as exploration progresses. Again, while British Columbia, on the Pacific, possesses a fine climate, an open country, and every natural advantage of soil and mineral, it has been also discovered that the doubtful region from the Rocky Mountains eastward up to the Lake of the Woods, contains, with here and there some exceptions, a 'continuous belt' of the finest land.
"Professor Hind says:—
"'It is a physical reality of the highest importance to the interests of British North America that this continuous belt can be settled and cultivated from a few miles west of the Lake of the Woods, to the passes of the Rocky Mountains; and any line of communication, whether by wagon, road, or railroad, passing through it, will eventually enjoy the great advantage of being fed by an agricultural population from one extremity to the other.'
"Although the lakes and the St. Lawrence give an unbroken navigation of 2,000 miles, right to the sea, for ships of 300 tons burden, yet if there is to be a continuous line, along which, and all the year round, the travel and the traffic of the Western and Eastern worlds can pass without interruption, railway communication with Halifax must be perfected, and a new line of iron road, passing through Ottawa, the Red River Settlement, and this 'continuous belt,' must be constructed. This new line is a work of above 2,300 miles, and would cost probably 20,000,000l., if not 25,000,000l., sterling.