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gressive ideas. The new Government at once decided to link up the gap by a railroad, and lost no time in placing contracts for over two hundred miles to provide an all-rail route from Port Arthur to the Red River.
In regard to the western portion of the line, between Winnipeg and the coast, two years elapsed before the Government could revise the Mackenzie surveys to determine upon the most favourable route. Early in 1880, after getting the results of the various revised surveys and other data, I concluded that the best route was that previously located by the Mackenzie Government, from the Yellowhead Pass via the North Thompson River to Kamloops, and thence by the main Thompson and Fraser Rivers to Port Moody, the nearest deep-water port on the Pacific.
My report to the Council was adopted, and soon afterwards I awarded to Mr. Andrew Onderdonk, an American, contracts for building the line from Yale to Savonas, near Kamloops, for about eight million dollars, and later let the work from Yale to Port Moody. Thousands of Chinese flocked to British Columbia to find employment on the railway.
My idea in awarding a contract at the outset for the work between Yale and Kamloops was because it was the heaviest and most difficult section, and its earliest completion meant the breaking of the backbone of the undertaking. Yale, being at the head of navigation on the Fraser, was a convenient base for the contribution of supplies and materials.
I have been criticised for my action in locating
the official terminus at Port Moody instead of not extending the line still farther westward to the site of the city of Vancouver. Well, all I have to say in reply is that the Canada of 1880 was not the prosperous, wealthy, and well-populated Dominion that exists to-day. Our only idea was to get to the nearest point on tide-water affording deep water for shipping, and this Port Moody was found to possess in every respect. The people of Eastern Canada were paying the bill, and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company had not even been organised or incorporated. It was no concern of mine if the company at a later date, of its own volition and at its own expense, undertook to run their line farther westward to Burrard Inlet, thereby laying the foundations of this great city.
Our railway policy was received with enthusiasm in British Columbia. It also bore fruit in Manitoba, which was even then attracting considerable numbers of settlers from the older provinces. One of my first acts as the head of my department was to change the route adopted by the Mackenzie Government. The plans of the Liberals did not provide for the railway touching at Winnipeg. Mr. Mackenzie selected Selkirk as the point where the main line would strike west across the prairies. I considered it unfair to isolate a town of the growing importance of Winnipeg.
In the first parliamentary session of 1880, after Onderdonk had got his contract well under way, the Hon. Edward Blake introduced a resolution in favour of stopping all work west of the Rockies. In a vigorous denunciation of the railway policy, he declared that the country was threatened with
ruin for the sake of twelve thousand white people out in British Columbia. His resolution was defeated, although every member of the Opposition, including the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie and the Hon. (now Sir) Wilfrid Laurier, gave it their support.
When the House rose, Sir John A. Macdonald, who was also Minister of the Interior, observed in Council that he had made up his mind that a system of local railways was needed in the North-West in order to attract immigration. We proposed to bonus them with land grants. He spoke of his intention of going to England that summer for the purpose of enlisting capital in the project. “I want you all to meet me here this day week with any suggestions or advice you can offer," was his injunction to his colleagues.
“Sir John," I replied, “I think the time has come when we must take the advance step. I want to submit a proposition for building a through line from Nipissing in Ontario to the Pacific coast.”
“ I'm afraid, Tupper, that's a rather large order. However, I shall be pleased to consider anything you have to submit,” was his genial comment.
On the appointed day I presented my report to Council. It gave estimates and every other detail. My proposition, in brief, recommended that a contract be entered into with a responsible company for the completion of a transcontinental railway on these terms :
“ The Government to complete and hand over to the company the line between Port Arthur and Winnipeg and the line from Kamloops to Port Moody, and a branch already completed from
Emerson to Winnipeg ; also a cash bonus of twentyfive million dollars and fifty million acres of land.”
The extent of the railway then built and under construction by the Government was about seven hundred miles.
My estimate of the cost of the mileage to be handed over was thirty-two million dollars, and I recommended that the time limit for the completion of the road by the company be ten years. I gave reasons for my belief that the undertaking could be carried to a successful conclusion, and that strong men could be induced to take hold of the enterprise.
“I heartily agree with you,” declared Sir John in the whole-souled, generous spirit that always characterised him, after I had concluded my remarks in favour of a through line, to be built, owned, and operated by a chartered company. Our colleagues concurred, and the report was unanimously adopted.
Shortly afterwards Sir John, the Hon. John Henry Pope, and I went to England with the object of inducing financiers to interest themselves in organising a company to build the railway. We were accompanied by Mr. George Stephen (Lord Mount Stephen) and Mr. Duncan MacIntyre, of Montreal. Mr. MacIntyre was then engaged in building a line subsidised by the Government through the Upper Ottawa Valley to Nipissing. As this line was regarded as likely to form a link in the proposed through line, Mr. MacIntyre hoped to join forces with any combination of British moneyed men that might become interested in the larger railway enterprise. His theory, as later events showed, proved correct.
British financiers did not display any frenzied
“ If you
haste to engage in railway building across the continent. Sir John, soon after landing in England, authorised me to sound Sir Henry Tyler, president of the Grand Trunk Railway Company, in the hope that his board might be induced to consider favourably our proposition. I did so. omit the clause providing for a line around the north shore of Lake Superior to Eastern Canada, I shall be pleased to lay the matter before my board of directors. Otherwise they would throw it into the wastepaper basket,” was Sir Henry's ultimatum.
“We must have a through line," I assured him in parting
Sir John, Pope, and myself then looked elsewhere for capital. Ten years later, in the general elections of 1891 Sir Henry Tyler instigated an uncalled-for attempt to defeat Sir John A. Macdonald by bringing to bear against the Conservative party all the power and influence of the Grand Trunk Railway Company, and also sought to influence unfairly their employees. I made a public accusation against the company on Declaration Day in Amherst after the election, and this evoked a general denial from Sir Henry Tyler in the London Times. I replied, and the controversy raged some time. I challenged him to meet me before his board of directors, to whom I was prepared to submit proof, but he declined. The Grand Trunk Railway board subsequently retired Sir Henry.
But to revert to our mission to London in 1880. We entered into an agreement with a number of capitalists who later became known as the “C.P.R. Syndicate,” to build the transcontinental railway