February 27, 1911 (11th Parliament, 3rd Session)


George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)



Mr. Speaker, for nearly a quarter of a century I was engaged in newspaper work, and it has always been contended in that profession that everybody knows better how to run a newspaper than the man who is running it. That is the way I would like to apply criticisms by the press of various engineers in regard to the Quebec bridge. Every man who has ever dealt in horses has had this experience, that as soon as he has sold a horse for a hundred dollars, somebody came along and told him that if he had known that he was going to sell the horse, he would have given him a hundred and ten dollars for it; and if he bought a horse, somebody came along immediately afterwards and told him that he had a better one to sell at the same price. This Quebec bridge, as my hon. friend intimates, has been a most troublesome thing to deal with, and for this reason. If it were something of ordinary importance or magnitude, the head of a department, even with ordinary ability, would get the various interests together and then decide what ought to be done. But this bridge is the greatest thing of the kind ever undertaken in the world. The Forth bridge has a span of practically the same

length; but the trains to be accommodated on it are so light that you can hardly make a comparison between the two. To begin at the reverse end of what my hon. friend said, I think it but fair to Mr. H. E. Vaute-let to make it clear that he is not only an engineer, but a magnificent, able man, and resigned in spite of my urgent protest. Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, in whose employ he was for years as chief bridge engineer of the Canadian Pacific railway, bears testimony to his ability, and how any person could have ever intimated that he was not an engineer is beyond mj comprehension, because his name has always ' C. E.' affixed to it wherever it appears. I wish to state most emphatically that Mr. Vautelet is a very able man, and Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, recommended him to me even before he was placed on this commission. He designed the structure at St. Andrew's Rapids, Manitoba, which is an evidence of his great engineering skill, and he was for years in other positions. As to the speed required of certain companies to prepare plans, my hon. friend read an article from the ' Scientific American,' which I beg to remind him is not looked upon as the leading scientific authority on this continent at the present time. Years ago it was; but while attending a meeting of the engineers of America not long ago, I discovered that there were one or two other journals which at the present time they regarded as being, greater authority. It is an able journal, but it has devoted its columns of late years, so 1 am told by the best engineers, rather to criticisms- what journalists call knocker's column; though I do not wish to make that point in what I am going to say. My hon friend, reading from the ' Scientific American,' said that it would be better if these plans were thrown open to world wide competition. Well, they were, practically. Practically all the large bridge companies of the world sent representatives to Montreal to look into the plans and specifications. They were notified by advertisement and personally that, in addition to tendering on the board's design, they were invited to put in tenders on designs of their own.

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