To return to the Welland canal, has the minister had any investigation or estimate made as to the cost entailed in deepening the Welland canal to 25 feet draft? I asked about it earlier and the minister said he had no estimate. It is pretty well conceded to be necessary to have canals with larger drafts to carry the freight through by water. In that section of the country there is an impression that some such investigation is being made. That is why I ask if there was any contemplated increase, if there are any engineers employed to make that investigation.
I am informed by the deputy that there is no increase in the staff. The question of deepening the Welland canal is a pretty large one and is interlocked with the whole transportation problem. This much I am free to say, that if we are to carry our own traffic as well as some of the American traffic, as I have an ambition to do, by the St. Lawrence route, the Welland canal will have to be deepened to 25 feet.
Possibly not, but I would not like to make rash promises. There is an opinion shared in by some very prominent engineers that it would be cheaper and better to build an entirely new Welland canal than to deepen the existing canal. There is a difference of opinion, as my hou. friend will understand. Some engineers say that the route could be shortened several miles by digging a new canal and that the number of lock gates could be reduced by 75 per cent.
I am told by engineers it would cost less to build the new one than to make the old one up to date. I am not giving it as my opinion, but a very prominent engineer discussed it the other day. I am quietly getting some data together to see what the cost would be. 1 am not in a position to say what it would be yet, but I hope to give the House some idea of what it would cost both to deepen the old one and to build a new one. The benefit of the new one would be to shorten the distance considerably and decrease very materially the number of locks. Of course each lock would be larger, the lifts greater and the reaches longer.
The minister said a moment ago that he expected in a short time to be able to put before parliament some data about either increasing the depth of the Welland canal or building a new one. What about that scheme that was brought forward concerning a canal between the Georgian bay and Port Hope or Toronto, which, if undertaken, would relieve the minister from spending any money at all on the Welland canal ? I understand there
are three schemes before the country, all very costly. A great deal of money has already been spent on the Georgian bay surveys. Before coming to any decision the minister would do well to examine thoroughly the proposed routes to see which would best serve navigation, whether a Georgian bay canal, which would bring navigation to Montreal, or a canal between Georgian bay and Port Hope or Toronto, or deepening the canal at Welland, or building a new one. Whenever he brings down data concerning the Welland canal, I would ask him also to bring down data concerning these other schemes, so that we may be able to judge which one would best serve the purpose of navigation.
When the Georgian bay canal scheme was being debated X put some statistics before the House by which it was manifest that less than half the expenditure required to build the Georgian bay canal would be sufficient to give a 24-foot draught in the Welland canal and enlarge the locks to the necessary extent. There was a carefully prepared estimate put upon the ' Hansard ' in the shape of a statement by the Board of Trade of St. Catharines, on which I commented at the time. With regard to what my hon. friend from Beauharnois (Mr. Bergeron) has said, there was one item in this statement which showed that there was between 250 and 300 feet more height of land to overcome through the Georgian bay than through the Welland canal; you have to have either that many more locks or that much deeper locks, and you would have to expend two or three times as much on a Georgian bay canal than you would have to expend on the Welland canal to accomplish the same purpose. You have your Welland canal now, you know what you can do with it, either deepen it or build a shorter one through the same part of the country, il have no doubt that to bring your vesels down through the Welland canal the expenditure would be less than a half and probably a third of what it would be to build a Georgian bay canal.