August 25, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Ross


Hon. WE ROSS (Victoria, N.S.).

stead of iron. They would have to be renewed and renewed in a great many instances.
The position was one of difficulty. The chief engineer was desirous of avoiding all cause of difference with the commissioners ; but his deliberate opinion was on record. The ground assumed by him had not been lightly taken, and the more the subject was considered by him, the more convinced he felt of the correctness of the principles of construction which he had advocated. No argument, however, which he could advance, appeared to have the least weight with the commissioners. They had determined to make certain changes ; that the recommendations of the chief engineer should be set aside ; and that iron should not be used, but that timber should take its place.
In January, 1869, the chief engineer made his first appeal in the matter, to the premier, Sir John A. Macdonald, and he submitted at length the arguments why iron and not wood should be used. This letter was referred to the commissioners in the usual course. It has never been replied to ; and the arguments advanced in that communication remain to this day without refutation.
He was not then treated with the ordinary courtesy that was due him of having his letters answered,, because, notwithstanding that his communications were of such great importance and that they were from so important a man, it was not deemed worth while to reply to them.
But the decision of the commissioners was sustained. Five of the bridges were, however, exempted from the principle originally laid down by the commissioners ; otherwise, the order was given that all the bridges should be built of wood.
In May, 1870, the chief engineer recurred to the question, in a statement prepared for submission to parliament. A complete list of the bridges was given, and it was there set forth that the cost of constructing them of iron would fie but slightly in excess of building them of wood, and accordingly he recommended that iron should be used.
The railw'ay commissioners still adhered to the view they had previously expressed, for, in a majority report, signed by Messrs. Brydges, Chandler and McLelan, they repeated the recommendation that, with the exception of five bridges named, wood should be used throughout the line. This report is dated July 3. Mr. Walsh, however, the remaining commissioner, and the chairman of the board, on July 5, gave his opinion in favour of iron. The matter was thus again brought before the government, and on July 7, an Order in Council was passed, affirming the decision of the majority that wood should be used. The chief engineer took another opportunity of appealing to the authorities on the subject. On July 25, he wrote to the premier, Sir John A. Macdonald, and on August 22, to the commissioners. In the latter communication he asked a delay of ten days for some work in progress, so that the matter could be reconsidered by the government.
In September, Mr. C. J. Brydges, one of the commissioners, addressed, on his own account, a commuiiication to the Privy Council on this subject. He argued that the fear of wooden bridges catching fire was groundless ; that, in his experience of eighteen years as a railway manager, he had known no instance of a wooden Hon. Mr. ROSS (Victoria). '
bridge having been injuriously affected through the cause assigned. He contended that the chief engineer's calculations of quantities and cost were erroneous; that iron bridges would cost at least $300,000 more than the sum named, and their introduction would probably add $500,000 to the cost of the line and would cause delay and confusion.
Mr. Fleming replied to the communication. He cited two instances of bridges on the Grand Trunk Railway, under the management of Mr. Brydges, having been destroyed by fire, but a few weeks before the date of Mr. Brydges' statement. Mr. Fleming contended that his estimates were correct, and challenged examination into their accuracy : and he further made a final appeal in favour of iron bridges.
After an examination which established that the estimates of the chief engineer -were correct, the commissioners eventually withdrew their objections and recommended that all bridges over 60 feet span should be built of iron. But, the chief engineer persisted in his efforts to have every bridge, down to the smallest span-24 feet-made of iron, and at last, by an Order in Council, dated May 12, 1871, authority was given to have them so constructed.
With the exception of three structures built of wood by direction of the commissioners, against the protest of the chief engineer, all the bridge spans, of whatever width, throughout the line, have the superstructure of iron.
You will therefore see the big fight that the engineer had with the commissioners in order to get iron bridges on the Intercolonial Railway instead of wooden ones, but at last he succeeded and he was in the right.
The statement that the new line of railway is to parallel the Intercolonial Railway is just a kind of by-play, because when the facts are inquired into you find that in most instances the two railways are a long distance apart. Mr. W. E. Thompson, a competent engineer, states that for from 20 to 100 miles they are 35 miles apart, and in some cases they are 60 miles apart, and so on. The new line of railway runs through a well-wooded and well-watered country, and it will open up a territory for settlement through New Brunswick and Quebec that will be occupied by the people of both provinces. The French people of the province of Quebec are attached to their homes and are not fond of emigrating, and when they find in their neighbourhood opportunities to earn a livelihood they will readily avail of these opportunities. The French Canadians are the only people on the continent of America who have fulfilled the command of the Lord : to multiply and replenish the earth. They have done that to a larger degree than any other people in British North America, and when they find that this railway will open up a well-wooded and well-watered country they will settle along its line. This new road will pass through seven thickly settled counties in the province of Quebec, and as it is separated by long distances from other railways, there will always be a considerable amount of local traffic that will go to the advantage of that road. I shall not enter into the details

of this great scheme that has been promulgated by this government, further than to say that it has my entire approval. At the outset I was foolishly carried away with the idea of government ownership and government management, but I have found that 1 was mistaken. I read the history of the Australian government railways, and I found that they had to send to Montreal for a Mr. Tait to go to Australia to manage their railroads and to try if he could stop the loss of $5,000 a day which they were incurring by the operation of government railways in that country.
The history of the intercolonial Railway in the past shows us that that railway was not run on business principles, but, on the contrary, that it was run according to the interests of the different political parties, and was to a considerable extent used as a political hack. To the credit of the late Minister of Railways (Hon. Mr. Blair) be it said that he has done more to take that road out of politics than any other minister who ever had control of it. The management of the Intercolonial Railway in former days was not creditable to any government or to any party. If a railway conductor or any other employee was suspected of having Liberal leanings, he would be sent out of the district on polling day so that he could not cast his vote, but I know that there was no interference of that kind by the Minister of Railways (Hon. Mr. Blair), or by those under him, during the last two elections. I have nothing to say against the gentlemen w'ho manage the Intercolonial Railway, and I can say that for my own part I have received from them every fair consideration. I am in the unfortunate position of representing a county 120 miles long, bounded by the ocean on one side and the Bras d'Or lakes on another, and that whole county has only eight miles of railway. My friends from Prince Edward Island are like the horse leach, and it is : Give, give, with them all the time ; and when they ask for more railways, and more steamboat communication, and more wharfs it is time for me to speak up for my own county and to look forward to the time when the government will interest themselves in building a railway from the rich, fertile parts of Inverness county, through Margaree and through the fertile valley of Middle river and Baddeck. I look forward with interest to the time when something of this kind will be done, but meantime the government have quite enough in hand to see this new road opened up and in working order. No person can foretell or foresee what the future of this great railway is going to be. The opposition to the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway came largely from the people of Ontario, and the opposition! to the present project comes from the same source. The hon. member for Colchester (Mr. Gourley) suggested that some of the people of Ontario should go down
to Truro to have their minds enlarged and to be instructed in the duties of citizenship, in dealing with public questions. I think it would be well that they should take broader views on questions of this kind. I believe it will be found that little objection will be raised by the people of Nova Scotia, to the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway ; the representatives from Nova Scotia as a rule are broad-minded and they are always willing to support what they consider to be great improvements in the country. The attempt is made to frighten us with the bugbear of debt, debt, debt. I heard that cry for eight years in the province of Nova Scotia ; the debt was increasing, we were going to be taxed and going to be ruined. Now is there any person in this House, any person with intelligence, who will say that a man, woman or child in the Dominion of Canada will ever be called upon to pay a cent for the sup port of this great railway ? The government of Canada is quite capable of building this railway and it will be built in a way that will be satisfactory to the people of Canada, without a claim being made upon a single individual, and the persons who will go about the country preaching that this is going to be a cause of debt and that people are going to be called upon for taxes for this railway, have too low an instinct to be public men, and they should be hooted o.ut of society, because they know that, when they are preaching such politics as that, they are not telling the truth.
The hon. member for Peel (Mr. Blain) asked why a railway was not built along the Ottawa river. If he would go up the Gatineau lie would find a railway there built quite close to the Gatineau river, bringing down the products of the farm and the forest in that country into the city of Ottawa and when this railway is built through a rich and fertile country it will be found that villages, towns and cities will spring up in what is now a wilderness.
I should like to read to the House what Mr. Hawkes, of Carnduff, Assa., a leading Conservative, says :
The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway will, in my humble opinion, be a boon to Canada at large, and to no part of Canada more than to the Ter>-ritories. As an old resident of the Territories, I welcome it as the best and most encouraging event that has ever crossed the horizon of the prairie country, and if I might venture a word of advice to my fellow residents in the Territories, it is to study the matter on its merits and refuse to allow any more questions of party to influence them when the development, and to a large extent the whole future of the Territories are in the balance, for if we do not get this road, what else is there in sight that will do one tithe as much for us as we may reasonably expect from this trunk road.

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