The Railway Commission.
Continuation of the Evidence.
Thursday, Sept. 16.
Proceedings resumed at half-past two p.m.
Edward W. Jarvis, sworn—I am a civil engineer; from May, 1871, to June, 1875, I was engaged on C.P.R. surveys; from Lake of the woods to Red River was the first section I was on; I started from Whitefish Bay and ran west to Red River; that was the first season's work; at the outset our base of supplies was 400 miles from the beginning of our work; it was at Thunder Bay; the survey party was composed of about 33 in all; I think Ralph Jones was the commissariat officer; I instructed him as to the supplies wanted; during November we received orders to remain in the woods all winter, and then I sent Mr. Gray to Mr. Bannatyne here to purchase the needed supplies; we were nearly out, and I thought it better to send here than to Thunder Bay; the order was sent in, with instructions to draw on Mr. Fleming at Ottawa for the amount; I had no control over the prices, but I suppose the prices were those current, and I left the question to be settled between Mr. Fleming and the persons from whom the goods were purchased; the prices were high I thought, but considering the place, reasonable; we also had to send in here again for further supplies; I do not remember the value of supplies procured in Winnipeg for us that winter; Mr. Breden left that winter, and W. E. Jones was appointed commissariat officer; the supplies sent from Thunder Bay would not be more than enough for a month; we were notified from Ottawa that supplies of food and clothing would be sent, but the food was altogether inadequate; the supplies I ordered from Winnipeg were to complete the summer's work only; after that we were told to remain out for the winter, and that supplies would be sent; the food supplies were insufficient, and then I sent in and purchased supplies here; we worked on the surveys that winter till March 30th, when we reached Red River; the line was first from Whitefish Bay to Keewatin; we then went on, reaching Red River about half-way between here and Stone Fort; that survey was completed in 1872; our instructions were to locate a line, but I reported it was impossible to do so without the necessary date; my assistants remained here with me, getting out plants, ktc.; we made an approximate location on paper from the field notes, cross-sections and slope-angles; we cross-sectioned portions at Keewatin and Cross Lake; I think the location has been so much changed that it would be impossible to compare the quantities; the information I obtained was all burned up in the C.P.R. office in 1874; but even if it did exist it would be no help in ascertaining the quantities for this particular contract; the instructions to me were written; between Whitemouth and Selkirk, I am under the impression that a more southerly line would be the more direct; the expense might have been about the same by either route, except in the matter of the Julius muskeg; the southern route was preferable, I think, as it avoided this muskeg, and had greater facilities for ballasting the line by running close to the ridge called Bird's Hill, where good ballast could be obtained; my next work was at Eagle Lake, 200 miles east of Red River; I was to start at the Hudson's Bay post there, running the line east to Sturgeon Lake, about 150 miles, I think; that was from June, 1872, to the end of October; Winnipeg was then our base of supplies; no commissariat officer was then attached to our party; I was instructed to purchase the supplies; took some with me and sent Mr. Jones back for more; we purchased from the principal store-keepers; I did not fix the prices or arrange about them, but I made enquiries when purchasing, and I knew that I was paying the market price; the matter of prices was not left to a future adjustment; in the location of the line between Thunder Bay and Red River as now adopted, I believe that the line I ran has not been made available; our party was about the same in number as previous seasons; there was difficulty with the supplies sent out by Jones; they were a month on the road, and the freighter nearly cut up all the supplies while en route; Mr. Jones organized the transport; I think there were 16 men in the party; as far as the North-West Angle there was a fair road, from that place York boats took the goods half way to Vermillion Lake; thence they were taken by canoes to a point on English River, over 100 miles east of my starting point; I think there were unnecessary delays on the part of the men in charge of the transport; I have no idea of the total value of goods purchased by me or by Mr. Jones; have no idea of the value of the goods lost by the delay; we generally estimate from $10,000 to $12,000 as the cost of a six months' outfit; I should say that Jones bought from $1,200 to $1,500; it was too late to order more that season; we were short of supplies that season, but the work was not impeded; I went to Ottawa, and remained in Ottawa in the Government employ till 1873; I then received instructions to connect the two sections between Eagle Lake and Rat Portage; I went, and had a smaller party with me—just about 23; I had explored that country the year before with only a barometer and compass; we had to make roads for our party; Winnipeg was our base of supplies that season; we had no difficulty about supplies; they were a good deal less as the season was shorter and the party smaller; the supplies were, I think, under the average in total cost, the transport and kind if supplies being better; we took nothing but absolute necessaries and that resulted in a saving; we started about the middle of February and reached Rat Portage in March; we were only five weeks out; it was a preliminary instrument survey; after that, in the beginning of of June, 1873, we were sent to British Columbia by rail, via San Francisco, myself and three assistants; I reached there about the 25th of June; I made a survey there that season, starting at Cache Creek and surveying westerly to the Cascade range; we crossed the Fraser at Lillooet and terminated the survey at Seton Lake; from Cache creek we also went north-easterly, following the valley of the Bonaparte, north side, to the North Thompson River—about 180 miles or 200 in all; our party consisted of myself, three assistants, twenty men and a pack train of about thirty mules; our base of supplies was chiefly Yale, but we also got some from Clinton; we took the season's supplies with us; I think the mules were purchased; the surveying was in the hands of Mr. Trutch, of Victoria, brother of the late Governor; the mules had been used a previous season; Trutch took the whole responsibility of the commissariat; in British Columbia the whole matter of purveying is managed differently to ours; supplies were ample—more than enough; we brought some out in October, placed them in a store, and notified Mr. Trutch; after placing them in the store I had to take some of them out again for another survey; there was no loss of those stores of any account; I ended my survey of the North Thompson about the middle of October; after that I made an exploration towards the "Horsefly country"; it was from a point on Fraser River about Bridge Creek, running easterly about 80 miles;I went on till stopped by weather; this was only an exploration; three men and half a dozen mules comprised our party; we had no difficulty about supplies; this brings us to the end of November, 1873; for the purposes of simple exploration a party of about three men and half a dozen animals would be sufficient; you would need more men east of Red River, as in summer supplies would be canoed and in winter would have to be transported by dog trains or on men's backs; west of the mountain range the expense of such explorations is less; of course exploration with mules is limited by the possibility of finding food for them; after finishing this exploration I joined my party in Victoria, and we went to Ottawa, where two of my assistants remained, doing office work; in April 1874, I went back to British Columbia; we were sent to Tete Jaune Cache at the head of the Fraser River, with instructions to survey down the river; I had a large party—3 assistants, 30 men and 120 animals—all the latter previously the property of the Government; our base of supplies was Yale and Victoria; the direction of the survey was north-westerly; we had sufficient supplies; we were on the survey from June, 1874 to the middle of October; we ran about two hundred miles along the Fraser, till we met Bell coming up, near the Grand Rapids; the animals were sent back from Tete Jaune Cache; they made two trips there and then were sent to Kamloops; none of these surveys that I was on in British Columbia are upon the located line; about the middle of October we arrived at the Rapids and went to Fort George, where we met Mr. Marcus Smith and made a short instrumental survey to connect with the line which had been previously run by Mr. Bell; then we returned down the Fraser by boat to Quesnel mouth, where the party were paid off except one of my assistants and myself; the chief wished another exploration north of Tete Jaune Cache, in the winter; I organized a party, consisting of my assistant, six men and six dog trains; I took supplies for the whole winter; I made the exploration; this exploration followed the north fork of the Frazer, with the view of reaching the head of Smoky river, through the Rocky Mountains; we found no pass at the head of the north branch of the north fork, and accordingly returned to the forks and proceeded up the south branch of the north fork, at the head of which we crossed the mountains, at a very high altitude the pass would not be practicable; following the eastern base of the mountains we reached the Athabasca river, near Jaspar House, and from there went to Fort Edmonton, where the exploration ended; Mr. Fleming wished the country above Edmonton, on the Saskatchewan river, to be explored, but we were unable to do that, as we ran out of supplies; the heavy storms and great depth of snow we encountered detained us on our way, hence the deficiency in supplies; the exploration was begun at Fort George, Fraser river; the survey was made by compass and barometer, over 900 miles of country; the eastern end of the exploration was Fort Edmonton, on the Saskatchewan; the latter portion had been previously surveyed, but I took another line farther north; a portion of our line between the eastern base and Edmonton has been adopted; it is north of Mr. Moberly's line; I reached Edmonton about the end of March, with three Indians; I sent two back, and came on with one to Winnipeg; I went to Ottawa and reported; owing to the lateness of the season all the surveying parties except one had been appointed for the season; that one was for Tete Jaune Cache, and it was offered to me by Mr. Fleming, but I had had enough of it, and declined to go back there again that winter; next month I left the Government service; I have travelled over the country due east from Winnipeg on foot, north of the travelled road called the Dawson Road; I travelled due east about 15 miles, and then south; on various occasions I got information as to the country south of the located line at Cross Lake, and have been over the country three times; from travelling over it my impressions were in favor of a line farther south than the present one a little west of Rat Portage; I have not independently considered the comparative cost of the two routes; a southern route would have given a shorter line through the rough country; in round numbers, if the southern route had been adopted, Mr. Carre and I used to speak of the saving that might have been effected as half a million of dollars; assuming Whitehead's contract to be two millions and a half, I think half a million might have been saved by a more southerly route; I think that the most direct and least expensive line would have been south-west from Keewatin, till you get to the latitude of Shoal Lake, and from there due west; It would also, I think give improved business prospects to the road; it would shorten the through line; in explorations there would be little difference in the cost between British Columbia and exploring the country east of this; in instrumental surveys, British Columbia would be dearer; the wages of axemen are higher in British Columbia, for one thing; as to the C.P.R. between here and Edmonton, I think it might have been located much better; I refer to the portion of the line between the crossing of the Assiniboine River and Edmonton; by adopting a line north of the North Branch of the North Saskatchewan a much better country would have been traversed from the neighborhood of Fort Pelly; the crossing ought to have been very near the forks; Indians have reported to me that a portion of the line between Battle ford and Eagle Hills is a barren waste; I have been over only one of the routes—not this one; I understand the northern route to be over a very favorable section of the country; it certainly saves one crossing of the Saskatchewan; I have reported my views respecting the northern line to Mr. Marcus Smith, but not in writing; I have considered the question of the foundations at Red River; I reported on it in 1872 from actual surveys and cross-sections of the river; in 1872 I was instructed by the chief engineer to report on the most favorable crossing, and the river from above the forks of the Assiniboine to Lake Winnipeg; I also gathered all the date then available here with regard to these inundations; I gathered it from individuals—my principal informants being Archbishop Tache and Mr. Andrew McDermot, a very old settler; I took soundings, and found that the area covered by the flood-water had been diminishing with every flood; I judged that no further flooding outside the river banks would occur; the channel of the river has widened, and as the country opens up there will, of course, be less rainfall into the river; there are several reasons why the volume of water carried off by the river should be decreasing yearly; the water which formerly ran off the hard, uncultivated soil of the prairie into the river, is now largely absorbed by ploughed land; with increasing settlement there are other causes leading to a diminution of the rainfall; then again the action of the water is felt with less violence on the break up of the ice in spring; the spring coming in more gradually increases the rottenness of the ice before it breaks up; thus the danger that caused the last flood—an ice-jam—is lessened; the ice-jam which caused the last flood is said to have taken place at Point Douglas; those living about St. Andrew's were no sufferers from this inundation, for they had not to remove from their houses; I know that the whole river is widening of late years, both in its narrow and wide portions; the narrow portions being mostly confined by rock, the widening in these is not so great, but there is a noticeable widening all along the river; at one of the contracted points, St. Andrew's, there are boulders in the river, and the banks are of a gravel format; at another point, near the Stone Fort, where the rock is in situ on the banks, the channel is deepened; at the Stone Fort, I think, the rock format extends all across the river; I know from observation that within the last nine years the Red River, opposite Winnipeg, has widened over 50 feet. Since I came here first, I have observed a little washing away of the banks in the rocky localities; at the rapids, I am under the impression the river covers a greater area than when I first came; the channel has been, I think, washed out; the bar at the mouth of Red River is rapidly increasing in size—the soil there having come from the upper regions of the river; the action of the water scours the channel, making it extremely improbable, under ordinary circumstances, that a flood can take place again at this point; I consider the direction of the C.P.R. south of Lake Manitoba an improvement; the southern is the most preferable route at that point both as regards cost of construction and the development of the agricultural resources of the country; as to the working expenses they would depend on the mileage and would, I presume, be the same by the northern as by the southern route; probably the cost of maintenance of the permanent way might be more on the northern than the southern line; I see nothing at all in favor of the northern line, and I am speaking now from an engineering point of view as well as from a knowledge of the interests of the Province; it has been very clearly shown that that northern section of country through which the C.P.R. was projected, cannot be settled to any great extent; even after the line was located north, we know that there was little or no settlement there, for the country was nearly all swamp—altogether different in this respect from the western portion of the Province, which is tilling up rapidly all the time; at one point, the Selkirk crossing, the outlay would be enormous; to throw a bridge over the Red River at that point would cost much more than at other points on the river; in round numbers I think the cost of the Selkirk bridge would be about double what it would cost to build one at a point near the rapids in Red River; there the probable cost would be $150,000, whereas at Selkirk it would be likely to reach $350,000; I have had occasion to consider very closely this matter of bridging Red River; I am now in charge of the bridge which is being built over the Red River at this point by the city of Winnipeg; with regard to the cost of one at Selkirk, of which I spoke, it is only an estimate; as to the general direction of the line north or south of Lake Manitoba, I believe that the most direct route would have been probably by the Narrows, but the most practical and best route is south of the Lake; my opinion on this point has been carefully formed; I have considered very closely the relative merits of the two lines, and am satisfied that that run west of here and south of Lake Manitoba is the best line from an engineering point of view—the easiest to be constructed—and that it is also the one which would develop the most local traffic; I have never been called on to make an official report on the comparative merits of the two lines; the point of crossing the river recommended by me was immediately below the rapids at St. Andrews, and I am still of opinion, from an engineering point of view, that that is the best point to cross the Red River; it is about fourteen miles from Winnipeg; at the same time we found a very satisfactory crossing at Point Douglas, where we are now building the Winnipeg bridge; It has the objection, however, that it is above the rapids; the advantage of the point I refer to is that it is the best crossing and that it is accessible to the lake navigation, the banks are high on both sides, the crossing narrow, and the formation is limestone and gravel; but, of course, the rapids are not such an obstacle as they used to be considered, as vessels can now navigate them till late in the season; as to why Selkirk was adopted as a crossing, I believe it was, as I have mentioned, owing to its accessibility to the lake; I have formed no other opinion as to why this choice was made except my own private opinion; it is hard to say what reason could be alleged in favor of that crossing, other than the nominal one I have stated; when it was intended to run the line north of Manitoba, this crossing was certainly the most direct.
The commission then adjourned till half-past ten a.m. to-morrow.