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Canadian Conservatives, went down to defeat. He subsequently was elected for a Manitoba seat, but never sat in the House again. Failing health prompted him to proceed to England to consult a physician, and there he died in 1873. Cartier had a lovable personality, and was a man of great ability and influence in Parliament, where his loss was keenly felt.
Events moved with sudden and dramatic swiftness during the session of 1873. The Hon. L. S. Huntingdon, a Liberal, formulated charges that Sir John and Cartier had received large sums of money from Sir Hugh Allan to carry the recent election. This is what is known as the “ Pacific scandal,” but it can be better described as the “ Pacific slander," the appellation I gave it in one of the hottest debates I ever participated in. The Opposition alleged that the money had been used to corrupt the electorate, and that Sir Hugh Allan was to be rewarded by securing for his company a contract for the building of the proposed railway to British Columbia.
Without going now into the details of that historic affair-for it is a large subject in regard to which many misconceptions exist–I can only say that during the debate Sir John lost so many supporters that he tendered his resignation and gave way to the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, whose Ministry included a number of our former supporters, seduced from party loyalty by contracts and Government positions and the bribe of portfolios. The Liberals sprung the general elections in 1874, and swept the country from end to end. Everybody seemed to think that Sir John A. Mac
donald and the Conservative party would never recover from the effects of the so-called “Pacific scandal,” and that the Liberals were destined to hold the Treasury benches in perpetuity.
But just the very opposite happened. Soon after the great Liberal victory a reaction in favour of the Conservatives set in throughout the country, aided greatly by the blundering incapacity of the Mackenzie Government, and the real facts connected with the “Pacific slander" becoming known.
The following letter, which I wrote to Sir John Macdonald in 1876, throws a sidelight on the Conservative campaign of this period :
Jan. 29th, 1876. MY DEAR SIR JOHN,—Your letter received yesterday does not surprise me. I am satisfied that the Government are in great difficulty, both internally and externally," and I have long thought it not improbable that they might try some such coup as you mentioned, and with the view of checkmating them I have, at some risk of separating myself from a portion of our press and party, persistently denounced the policy of constructing the Canadian Pacific Railway as a Government work, and maintained that the terms of the resolution moved by Sir G. Cartier relieved Canada from any such obligation. This I hold to be the true policy for our party and the only one that can be adopted in the interests of the country, and any other would involve our complete defeat if we were to go to the country. I hope you have improved the opportunity offered by the opening of the
club to deprive them of that trump card. Then, if they persist in the construction of the road by the Government, the only policy, in my opinion, that can give us a road to the Pacific within the next fifty years is the construction of a direct line from Nipissing to Red River as rapidly as can be done consistently with due regard to economy. As the road has been commenced from Thunder Bay, I would at once make that an all-rail line to Red River, and then extend the road from Nipissing to the junction with that line 60 or 70 miles from Nepigon, leaving the line from the junction to Thunder Bay as a branch. In this way, and this only, can we hope to throw such a population into the North-West as will make a Pacific railway possible. With this policy fairly accepted by our press and party, we can go to the country to-morrow and beat the enemy handsomely.-Yours faithfully,
CHARLES TUPPER. HON. SIR J. A. MACDONALD.
By-elections and election trials enabled us to reduce the Liberal majority by nearly 50 per cent., and when Mackenzie appealed to the country in 1878 we swept it from end to end with our "National Policy.” Sir John then found himself on the Treasury benches with a majority of about eighty members.
Exploratory surveys in search of a suitable route for the proposed railway were continued by Mr. Fleming after the advent of the Liberals to power. The Crows Nest Pass route, although known to exist, was not regarded with favour, as it was considered inadvisable to build a line too close to the
international boundary, and the Kicking Horse Pass route, subsequently adopted by the Canadian Pacific Railway, had not yet been discovered.
The consensus of opinion favoured the adoption of the Yellowhead Pass as the point of entry into British Columbia. The question arose as to the most suitable route from that point westward to the coast. In 1873, and for the next three or four years, various instrumental surveys were run from the coast eastwards to meet other parties working westward from Yellowhead Pass. These routes included one from Port Simpson, 27 miles north of the new city of Prince Rupert; Bute Inlet, Howe Sound, and from Burrard Inlet up the Fraser River to Kamloops and thence up the North Thompson, the identical route of the Canadian Northern Railway now under construction. The first-mentioned route was that which was adopted by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. For a time it looked as if the new Government favoured a line from Yellowhead Pass to Bute Inlet, bridging the Seymour Narrows and thence extending a line along the east coast of Vancouver Island to a western terminus at Victoria.
The delay in starting construction and carrying out other terms of the Confederation pact aroused considerable ill-feeling in British Columbia. This led the Mackenzie Government to dispatch the late Hon. J. D. Edgar to the coast in 1874 with the object of effecting a compromise. His mission did not prove very successful, and later in the same year a settlement was effected by Lord Carnarvon, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, to whom the matter had been referred for arbitration.
This settlement is now known as the “Carnarvon terms." Mr. Mackenzie gave way to Sir John A. Macdonald's Administration in 1878 without having built one yard of railway in British Columbia.
That bitter feeling existed in British Columbia over the delays is evidenced by an episode that occurred during the visit of Lord Dufferin, GovernorGeneral, in August, 1876. One of the arches along the line of route His Excellency was to follow during the official reception in Victoria bore this inscription : “ Carnarvon Terms or Separation.” Hearing of it, the Governor-General declined to pass under the arch unless the wording was altered. His Excellency suggested that the substitution of one letter in the inscription would meet his wishes, which would make it read “Carnarvon Terms or Reparation.”
Having been the chief critic of Mr. Mackenzie's railway policy during our five years in opposition, Sir John A. Macdonald, in forming his Cabinet in 1878, tendered me the portfolio of Railways and Canals, and assigned to me the chief task of inaugurating a vigorous policy in regard to the building of the line from the head of the Great Lakes to the Pacific coast. While the Liberals had not done anything in British Columbia, they had placed some hundred miles under contract from Port Arthur westward and from Selkirk eastward. Mr. Mackenzie's policy was to place steamboats on the intermediate water-stretches through the Lake of the Woods, his vision not grasping the necessity of connecting the prairies with the head of the Great Lakes by an all-rail route. The Conservative party, it must be conceded, possessed more pro