History of Canada
W. L. Grant
Professor of Colonial History in Queen's University
The Rebellion: Lord Durham
- An Intercolonial Railway.—This wider union was at the time impossible; communication between even Upper and Lower Canada was so slow that John Beverley Robinson urged this as sufficient reason against their union. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were altogether too far away. Durham therefore advised improvement of the canals, and the building of the Intercolonial Railway. "The formation of a railroad from Halifax to Quebec would entirely alter some of the distinguishing characteristics of the Canadas."
Canals.—With an organized Cabinet at its head, parliament showed an energy unknown in former days. Between 1840 and 1850 our canal system was developed with great energy. The Lachine Canal was enlarged; the Cornwall Canal around the Long Sault Rapids was opened; the Beauharnois Canal enabled boats to pass the Coteau, Cedar, and Cascade Rapids; others were completed around the smaller rapids higher up. The Welland Canal was enlarged, new canals were dug on the Ottawa, and the St. Lawrence was bound to Lake Champlain by the Richelieu system. But just when these were finished and when we hoped by them to control the growing grain trade of the American West, we found that our water-ways and canals were being side-tracked by the building of railways all over the United States, and that we must imitate our neighbours, or fall hopelessly behind.
Railways—The first Canadian railway had been opened by the Governor-general in 1836. It extended from La Prairie on the St. Lawrence opposite Montreal to St. Johns on the Richelieu. It was sixteen miles long, and the cars were drawn by horses; in 1837 the first locomotive was used on it; during the winter it ceased operations. In 1851 there were only sixty-six miles of railway in the whole of what is now the Dominion. Then an improvement set in under the guidance of Mr. Hincks. In that year a railway from Toronto to Montreal was incorporated, and a great plan formed for a line from the American border near Sarnia to Halifax. An agreement was made with the Maritime Provinces to share in its building, and Imperial aid was sought. But the mother country quarrelled with the delegates about the route through New Brunswick, and Hincks, impatient at the delay, arranged with some British capitalists to build a Grand Trunk Railway from Quebec to the American frontier. In 1853, this line was opened from Portland to Montreal; in 1856, from Montreal to Toronto; in 1858, from Toronto to Sarnia. In December, 1859, the great Victoria Bridge, crossing the St. Lawrence just below Montreal, was opened for traffic, though it was not formally declared complete until the next year, when Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, came out specially from England for the purpose. By this time we had a line complete from Rivière du Loup, 100 miles below Quebec, to Sarnia at the foot of Lake Huron. Meanwhile in the western part of the province, the Great Western Railway had joined Toronto, Hamilton, and London. In 1867 there were 2,087 miles of railway in the Dominion, of which 1,275 were in Ontario, 523 in Quebec, 196 in New Brunswick, and 93 in Nova Scotia.
Partly owing to the extravagance and mismanagement shown in its construction, the Grand Trunk was not at first a success, and the province had more than once to come to its help; in all it obtained provincial aid to the extent of about $16,000,000. Some of the other lines, in their desire for aid, used jobbery and corruption in parliament. But the good done outweighed tenfold the harm. The railways changed the whole face of the country; they brought comfort and prosperity to thousands of homes; travel and the intelligence which travel brings became the possession of all, not the perquisite of the few. Above all, they bound our country together. But for the railways the great union which solved so many difficulties would have been utterly impossible.
Atlantic Navigation.—During these same years great advances were also made in steam navigation. Canada was thus bound closer to the Maritime Provinces, and the whole continent closer to Great Britain and to Europe. In 1831 the Royal William, a paddle-wheel steamer of 1300 tons, was built in Quebec, and plied between that port and Halifax; in 1833 she essayed a bolder feat, and in spite of stormy weather crossed the Atlantic from Quebec to London. Though one or two other vessels had previously used steam to assist their sails, she was the first ship to cross from the new world to the old with steam as the main motive power. But for some years longer the mails were carried in sailing ships; the average time taken by a letter from Liverpool to Halifax was thirty-five days, and to Quebec fifty days. In 1838 the sailing ship which was carrying Joseph Howe of Nova Scotia to England was overtaken and passed by a steamer and on his arrival he brought strongly before the Colonial Office the advantages of this method of navigation. A contract was entered into with the Cunards, prominent merchants of Halifax, and in 1840 the steamship Britannia entered Halifax harbour with the mails. This cut down the time from England to Nova Scotia to twelve and a half days, and five days later a fast steamer from Halifax entered Quebec. Canada was thus brought almost three times as close to Great Britain as she had been.
In 1856 the Allan Line began to run regularly from Montreal to Liverpool and in 1859 introduced a weekly service. For some years its steamers were the fastest in the world, but later on a series of terrible disasters due to careless pilotage and to inadequate buoys and light-houses made the United States lines the favourites. In spite of such accidents, these great improvements in navigation did much to keep Canadians in touch with the old world, and to give them a broader point of view.
The Maritime Provinces, 1763–1864
Railways.—During the next few years a vigorous policy of railway development was carried on. The Intercolonial Railway was projected, and a line built from Halifax to Truro; so that, when in 1864 federation was proposed, improved communications had bound the province into a whole.
Railways. Liquor Traffic.—From 1848 till 1864 the chief matters of interest were the struggle to making King's College undenominational, the building of railways, and the fight over prohibition. In 1855 Mr. (afterwards Sir) Leonard Tilley brought in a bill to prohibit the liquor traffic, which was the curse of the province. The bill was passed, but was openly disregarded; just as much drinking went on as before, and the ministry which had passed it grew so unpopular that the Lieutenant-governor dismissed it, much against its will, and in the parliament which followed, the bill was repealed. In railway building the government endeavoured to co-operate with Canada and Nova Scotia, but this proved impossible, and the province went ahead on its own account, till by 1864 it had 196 miles in operation, chiefly between St. John and Shediac on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The First Years of Confederation
Joseph Howe.—In Howe were combined the oratory of Papineau and the wisdom of Baldwin. His power of persuading men was enormous. In 1850 the Colonial Secretary refused to guarantee the bonds of the proposed provincial railway for £800,000. Howe went over to England, and came back with the promise of a guarantee of £7,000,000 for a British North American system. In 1865, when the United States was on the point of denouncing the Reciprocity Treaty, a great convention of all the Boards of Trade of the United States and Canada was held at Detroit. Howe's speech in favour of the treaty was so eloquent that though the Americans at first were hostile, before he sat down they sprang to their feet, and passed a unanimous standing vote in its favour. His opposition to federation is a blot on his memory, but at least he died in the noble effort to erase it.
The Intercolonial Railway.—In 1864 the delegates to Quebec from the Maritime Provinces had had their choice of taking the steamer from Pictou which called at Shediac, or of going by sea to Portland, Maine, and there meeting the Grand Trunk Railway. They had therefore demanded as one of the terms of Confederation the building of an intercolonial railway, and in 1867 this was begun with Mr. (afterwards Sir) Sandford Fleming as chief engineer. The Imperial Government offered aid, but insisted that as the line would be essential in time of war, it should not run too near the boundary. This added to the length and to the expense, but after long discussions the present northern route was adopted, the lines already built from Halifax to Truro and from St. John to Moncton (near Shediac) were made use of, and in 1876 the Intercolonial Railway, owned and operated by the Dominion, was opened from Halifax and St. John to Rivière du Loup, the terminus of the Grand Trunk Railway. Later on the Government bought from the Grand Trunk Railway its line from Rivière du Loup to Quebec, and still later, partly by building, partly by buying up other railways, extended it into Montreal. The line from Truro to the Strait of Canso was also taken over, and extended to Sydney. The Intercolonial has not been a commercial success, but if Canada was to become a nation, the various parts of the Dominion had to be united in bands of steel, no matter what the cost.
Downfall of Macdonald.—In 1873 Prince Edward Island, which had refused to join in 1867, entered the Dominion. Of all British North America, only Newfoundland now remained outside. Never did the reputation of Sir John Macdonald stand so high as at this time. He had widened the bounds of the Dominion till they extended from sea to sea; he had steered her safely through rises in East and West; he had thrilled her with the sense of her loyalty to the Empire and had induced parliament to make a great sacrifice in that Empire's behalf. Vet before the end of the year, he was driven from power and plunged in deep disgrace.
The Pacific Railway.—The Pacific Railway, promised to British Columbia, had long been the desire of those who with the eye of faith could see the future. In 1851 Joseph Howe told a great meeting in Halifax: "I believe that many in this room will live to hear the whistle of the steam-engine in the passes of the Rocky Mountains." In 1857 Chief-justice Draper of Upper Canada made the same prophecy in Great Britain. At the time it seemed a dream, but like so many of the dreams of great men it was to be realized, though not till it had overthrown a Canadian Government and stained the glory of our greatest statesman.
"Ocean to Ocean."—As soon as the agreement with British Columbia was signed, the government sent out surveying parties, and in 1872 an expedition under their chief engineer, Sandford Fleming, crossed the Rockies by the Yellowhead Pass. It was Fleming's enthusiastic report, and still more Ocean to Ocean, a book describing the journey, written by the secretary, the Rev. G. M. Grant, of Halifax, which first inspired eastern Canada with a belief in the West, and showed us something of the great future of the vast domain which we had purchased so cheaply.
The Pacific Scandal.—The Government had at first intended to build the line itself, but afterwards decided to employ a private company, known as The Canadian Pacific Railway Company, which had been formed with Sir Hugh Allan at its head—a prominent Montreal merchant, president of the Allan Line of ocean steamships. Hardly had Parliament met in 1873 when Mr. L. S. Huntington, a Liberal member, rose in his place and accused the Government of having sold the charter to Sir Hugh Allan and his friends in return for large contributions to help in the recent general election. What made it worse was that this money was said to have been obtained from American capitalists. For a time these charges were not believed, and though a committee was appointed nothing much was done; but the secret correspondence between Sir Hugh Allan and the American contractors was stolen and published, and a few days later copies were made public of letters and telegrams from Sir John Macdonald and Sir Georges Cartier, the genuineness of which could not be doubted, and which went far to arouse in the public mind suspicions of wide-spread corruption. As the proceedings of the committee went on, Macdonald's own evidence showed that he had received money from Sir Hugh Allan. Most Canadians knew that elections were not won without spending money, but it was too much to have the Prime Minister of Canada telegraphing "I must have another ten thousand; will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me"; or his chief subordinate Sir Georges Cartier, sending to Sir Hugh Allan "a memorandum of immediate requirements," which amounted to $200,000. Even had the demand been made of a relative or a party friend, the amount would have appeared excessive; made of a man who had no strong party ties, and who was seeking to obtain large favours from the Government, it was unpardonable. The crisis came when Donald Smith declared against the Government, and it resigned rather than face inevitable defeat (November, 1873). The Governor-general then called upon the Liberal leader, Mr. Alexander Mackenzie, to form a ministry. Mr. Mackenzie did so, then almost immediately dissolved Parliament and held a general election, in which the conscience of the country returned the Liberals to power by a large majority.
Alexander Mackenzie.—Mackenzie (1822–1892) was a Scotchman, who by integrity and force of character had risen from being a stone-mason. Canada has never had a more honourable and faithful Minister of Public Works, one who more steadfastly refused to use government contracts to reward party favourites or to buy constituencies. His Government founded at Kingston the Royal Military College (1875), many or whose graduates have since taken an honoured place in the ranks of the British army; it established the Supreme Court of Canada (1875), though still allowing an appeal from it to the British Privy Council; it passed the "Canada Temperance Act," better known as the "Scott Act," which did not a little to check drunkenness; it greatly purified our elections by introducing vote by ballot (1874) and enacting that the whole general election must take place upon a single day. But Canada needed more than good administration; she needed a man with imagination, and this Mackenzie lacked. Sir Hugh Allan's Company had been dissolved, but a Canadian Pacific Railway was a necessity, and this the Prime Minister could not see. He endeavoured to connect the great lake and river stretches by short lines of rail, offered British Columbia a post-road and a telegraph line, but went ahead with the railway so slowly that the Pacific Province went to the verge of secession, and was held within the Dominion largely by the wisdom and skill of the Governor-general Lord Dufferin.
The "National Policy."—Just at this time there swept over the whole world a wave of trade depression. American manufacturers unable to sell their goods home, dumped them in Canada; many of our business men went bankrupt; the cry for protection grew louder and louder. A little before this time a group of young men in Ontario, proud of their country and resolved to raise her to a place among the nations, had founded an association known as "Canada First"; its members did much to fire Canadians with a desire for self-sufficiency and for independence of American merchants. So far as Macdonald had studied the question he believed in free trade; and, just as at Confederation, he cautiously waited for a time. At last in the spring of 1876 he saw that protection would be popular, moved a motion in the House of Commons advocating it, and in the summer of the same year went through the country making speeches in its favour at great political picnics. Sir Charles Tupper ably seconded him. Dazzling pictures were drawn of how the tall chimneys of factories would rise throughout the country and depression pass away as if at an enchanter's wand. For a time the Liberals were so struck with his success that they thought of taking up protection themselves, but the members from Nova Scotia refused to adopt such a policy when their province imported so many of its manufactured articles from the United States. After much hesitation, the Government determined to stick to the existing low tariff and "kicked complaining industry into the camp of its opponents." In the election of 1878 the Liberals were at a great disadvantage; the country was unhappy and unprosperous, and all they could say was that this was due to causes beyond their control, that they were, as one of themselves unfortunately put it, only "flies on the wheel." The Conservatives, on the other hand, advocated a definite policy from which they promised the grandest results. The country chose the men who promised to do something, rejecting those who said that all must be left to nature, and in 1878 returned Macdonald to power by a large majority. His finance minister, Sir Leonard Tilley, promptly fulfilled his promise, and early in 1879 a protective tariff was introduced known as "The National Policy."
Eighteen Years of Conservatism
Canadian Pacific Railway.—The new Government set itself to carry out the bargain with British Columbia. In 1880 the Canadian Pacific Railway Company was incorporated, with Sir Donald Smith and his cousin, Sir George Stephen (afterwards Lord Mountstephen), as its chief members, and set to work in 1881, splendidly backed up by Sir John Macdonald and Sir Charles Tupper. Never did financiers more boldly stake their all upon the hazard of success; never did politicians, dependent upon votes for everything save life itself, plan a bolder enterprise in bolder confidence in the people of Canada. "They'll never stand it," said more than one old friend to Sir John Macdonald; but the Prime Minister knew the people of Canada better than that. By the contract the Government gave to the Company $25,000,000 in cash, 25,000,000 acres of land, and about 670 miles of railway already built or to be built through some of the most difficult parts. Smith, Stephen, and their fellow directors of the Bank of Montreal, embarked their last dollar in the enterprise. Even so, it seemed for a time as though it would fail. A prominent Canadian newspaper said that it would never pay for its axle grease; a prominent Canadian statesman laughed at the idea of building a railway through a "sea of mountains." But the courage of the directors, and the skill of their chief engineer, Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Van Horne, triumphed over every obstacle. The line was pushed rapidly around the rugged north shore of Lake Superior, over the tangled mass of rock and lake and wilderness between Lake Superior and Winnipeg, across a thousand miles of prairie where there was not an inhabitant save the buffalo and the Indian and a few hundreds of almost equally savage hunters, through the terrible Kicking Horse Pass, through Roger's Pass in the Selkirks which was discovered only in 1883 when the railway was already at the base of the mountains, then down the valley of the Fraser, and so at last out to Burrard's Inlet, an arm of the Pacific, where now stands the stately city of Vancouver.
The line was built solidly but at headlong speed. On the prairie a record was established by the laying of six miles of rail in a day. A great army of men had to be fed a thousand miles from the base of supplies, but every difficulty yielded to the organizing skill of Van Horne. By the contract the Company had been given ten years to complete the line, but so swiftly did the work proceed that on November 7th, 1885, at the lonely little hamlet of Craigellachie in the Rockies, Sir Donald Smith drove home the last spike of the first Canadian transcontinental railway. The expense was enormous; the Government had again and again to come to the relief of the Company, and did so in splendid confidence in the future of Canada. Once after the departure of Sir Charles Tupper to become Canadian High Commissioner in England (1883), Macdonald's resolution faltered. It is said that Sir George Stephen had packed his bag and was about to leave Canada a ruined man, when a friend persuaded Macdonald to call another Cabinet meeting and to agree to give the last millions that were needed. On so narrow a chance hung the future of Canada.
Discontent in the North-West.—the West seems fated to show at once the heights to which Canadian statesmen can rise, and the depths to which they can fall. The Canadian Pacific Railway was not yet finished when it was used to take out troops to quell a rebellion which wisdom could have prevented. In 1870 the half-breeds on the Red River had been granted 240 acres of land apiece, in settlement of their claim through their Indian mothers to be owners of the soil. Most of them soon sold out, and went west to join their friends on the banks of the Saskatchewan, where they took up land after the fashion of their ancestors in long strips fronting on the river. The Canadian Government was spending large sums of money in England to attract settlers, yet it would do nothing for these settlers who were already on the spot. Surveyors were sent out, who repeated the mistake made on the Red River in 1869. Each square mile surveyed was divided into four quarter-sections of 160 acres each. This to the half-breed simply meant the loss of his farm. It may be said that most of these men had already been granted land in Manitoba; that if they had been granted a new title to new land on the Saskatchewan, they would again have sold it to hungry land-sharks, and been no better off than before. The answer to this is that, as the Canadian agent on the spot suggested, they could have been granted the land on terms forbidding them to sell it, and that in any case it would have been better to give them what they wanted than to drive them into rebellion. Others of their requests, such as those for schools and hospitals, were still more reasonable.
The Successors of Mowat.—Mr. Hardy remained Premier till 1899, when ill-health forced him to resign in favour of Sir George Ross. These successors of Sir Oliver Mowat did much good work.
- They improved the municipal system.
- They voted large sums of money for the improvement of the roads of the province, which had long been torn by winter frosts, washed away by spring floods, and very imperfectly repaired.
- They opened up Northern Ontario. It was long supposed that in the country won for us by Sir Oliver Mowat, north of the Height of Land which separates the rivers flowing into the St. Lawrence from those flowing into Hudson or James Bay, there was nothing but rock and lake, fit only for the hunter or fisher; but in this despised region a splendid belt of clay soil was found and in 1901 the Government, in order to open it up, began to build into it, from North Bay on the Canadian Pacific Railway, a provincial railway known as the Timiskaming and Northern Ontario.
Victory of the Conservatives.—But in spite of this work, the Government of Sir George Ross became unpopular. The Liberals had been in power for thirty-three years, and no party can hold power so long without attracting to itself the majority of those who are in politics for selfish and corrupt motives. Though the administration was not inefficient, the province felt that a change would be for the better. In January, 1905, at a general election, the Conservatives under Mr. (afterwards Sir) James P. Whitney, won by a large majority, and soon gave to the administration a new energy which showed them worthy of the choice of the province.
The Railway and Municipal Board.—In the same year (1906) a Railway and Municipal Board was appointed, to decide questions at issue between railways, especially electric railways, and the municipalities. We thus see that in Ontario as in the Dominion we are finding the value of government by Commission.
Development of New Ontario.—In 1903, as a construction gang was working on the Timiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway, a navvy stubbed his toe upon what proved to be a lump of almost pure silver; his discovery was followed up, and the province. found that it possessed one of the greatest silver fields of the world. The centre of this industry is at Cobalt, 338 miles from Toronto, and 103 from North Bay, and discoveries of gold since made further north at Porcupine and other points show that Ontario has yet to realize the fullness of her riches. The provincial government collects a large income from the taxes paid on the silver taken out and, in 1911, to aid the development of New Ontario as this new north land is now called, it voted $5,000,000.
Increase of Territory.—The provincial railway, the Timiskaming and Northern Ontario, by 1910 had reached Cochrane, where it connects with the National Transcontinental Railway. In 1912, after much negotiation with the Dominion and with Manitoba, Ontario obtained possession of the territory now called the District of Patricia, with an area of 146,010 square miles, making the total area of the province 407,262 square miles. She was also granted a strip of territory five miles in width, lying between the District of Patricia and the Nelson River, to be located within fifty miles of the Hudson Bay coast, and a strip one half mile in width and five miles in length, to be located along the south shore of the Nelson River. These give access to Nelson on Hudson Bay, and afford ample harbour facilities and railway terminals. The railway will now be pushed ahead to this point.
The Opposition.—Meanwhile, there is an active Liberal Opposition, under Mr. N. W. Rowell, an able and high-minded lawyer.
The Other Provinces, 1867–1913
Manitoba was long the stormy petrel of Dominion politics. First came the Rebellion; then the various questions connected with the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway; then a long but successful fight with the railway (which by its contract had been given a monopoly), for the right to allow American lines to enter the province; then the question of separate schools (1890–96). Since then the province has steadily gone ahead. Whereas in 1885 it had but one line of rails, it has now a network of railways equalled only by Ontario. In 1912 its boundaries were extended to the north to give it access to James Bay and Hudson Bay, and there is no cloud upon the sun of its prosperity.
British Columbia has as its chief industries lumbering, fruit farming, mining, and the canning of salmon. No part of Canada is more interesting than this Pacific Province with its varied resources, its delightful climate, its wild mountains and fertile valleys, its long indented sea-coast, which recalls the celebrated fiords of Norway and the tales of the old sea-rovers. Its chief problem has been that of the supply of labour. For a time it was hoped to solve this by allowing Oriental immigration under restrictions, but the desire to keep the province the home of a white race has been too strong to allow of this solution. Many of the present labour organizations are affiliated with those of the United States, and the province has more than once been hampered by labour quarrels which were really produced by quarrels beyond her borders. The provincial history was long a story of squabbles; quarrels between rival firms of canners, and between Canadian masters and Indian or Japanese workmen; quarrels between owners and men in the mines and the smelters; quarrels between the fruit farmers and the railways, which would not build the desired branches. But these quarrels are now at an end, and the Pacific Province is advancing as fast as any province in the Dominion. An energetic policy of road-making and of railway construction is being pursued, and the central and northern parts of the province are being rapidly opened up.
The Dominion, 1896–1913 (continued)
The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.—From 1867 to 1897 Canada grew very slowly, and many not only of the immigrants but of our native born were lured away by the greater opportunities in the United States. At the end of the nineteenth century things began to improve. The Government, and more especially the Honourable Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior, had faith in Canada, spent large sums in advertising, and a stream of immigration began to flow in from England, Scotland, Ireland, the United States, and every country in Europe. Most of those who came did well, and sent back for their relatives and neighbours. Into Ontario, northern Quebec, and the western provinces they poured; Canada began to get breadth as well as length. Our population and our prosperity went up by leaps and bounds; most of the new-comers went West, but the farmers of the West bought the manufactures of the East, and the whole country profited. In the three western provinces there are at least 250,000,000 acres of cultivable land, and these increased in value between 1900 and 1912 by at least $10 an acre. The population of Winnipeg rose from 30,000 to 150,000, of Calgary from 5,000 to 50,000, and of other towns in proportion. The opening up of vast new districts meant the building of railways, and the coming of thousands of navvies. Men who had been laughed at as dreamers for saying that they would live to see the West export 20,000,000 bushels of wheat, lived to see it export fifty, eighty, one hundred millions. To carry out such a crop, and to carry in these thousands of settlers and their effects, meant such a railway problem as no country, with so small a population. had ever faced. The Canadian Pacific Railway showed great energy, and increased its mileage from 3,000 in 1885 to over 10,000 in 1911, but in spite of this it proved unable to carry the grain of the West, and in 1903 a second transcontinental railway, the Grand Trunk Pacific, was given a charter. By its contract with this Company, the Government abandoned the earlier method of giving land grants, but agreed to construct a National Transcontinental line from Moncton to Winnipeg and to lease it to the Grand Trunk Pacific on moderate terms. From Winnipeg west it guaranteed to a large extent the bonds of the Company, in return for control of its freight and passenger rates. Large portions of this railway are now in operation, and by 1915 it will be in running order from Moncton in New Brunswick to Prince Rupert on the Pacific. from Moncton to Winnipeg, and from Winnipeg to Prince Rupert it runs far north of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and there will certainly be need of both lines. At first it was intended that it should run through either the Peace River, or the Pine River Pass, but later on this was changed to the Yellowhead Pass, further south, the old route chosen by Sir Sandford Fleming for the Canadian Pacific Railway, but afterwards changed.
The Canadian Northern Railway.—Meanwhile two great contractors, Sir William Mackenzie and Sir Donald Mann, had been building and buying railways all over the country and gradually knitting them up into a great system, called the Canadian Northern Railway, which will in a few years give us a third transcontinental system from Quebec to Vancouver, through the Yellow head Pass. To this the Dominion and the Provinces have given aid on a large scale, especially by guarantee of its bonds.
The Hudson Bay Railway.—So far all traffic must pass through Winnipeg and out by one of three or four St. Lawrence or Atlantic ports. To improve this the Government is building, at a cost of about $30,000,000 a railway north from the Canadian Northern Railway to Hudson Bay. As it is no farther from Winnipeg to the Bay than to Fort William, and only as far from the Bay to England as from Montreal, this railway will save the whole cost of carrying grain from Fort William to Montreal. The difficulty will be that Hudson Strait, through which all steamers must go, is passable only from about July 15th till October 15th, or at most from July 1st to November 1st. Will not steamers charge very high rates to make up for the danger from the ice, and will not the railway be idle for eight months of the year? But so far in Canada the bold policy has always been the right policy, and we must hope that with ice-breaking steamers and other resources of science, the Strait will be kept open long enough to make the line a success.
Government by Commission.—All this shows that Canada has entered upon an era of tremendous expansion, and the question of the best way to control these great companies takes up more and more of the time of Parliament. The result has been the creation of a number of Commissions, whose members can be dismissed by Parliament if they go wrong, but otherwise have power to act as they wish. Thus we have a Railway Commission, which has done a great deal to control the rates of railway, telephone, and express companies in the interests of the country, while so far it has been in no way unjust to the companies themselves, which have worked in hearty co-operation with it. In 1908 a Civil Service Commission was appointed. To this has been transferred the right of appointment of a large number of government officials. Previously, such appointments had often been made by the Ministry, not because of the merits of the candidates, but under pressure of their supporters, to advance the interests of the party. The Commission is less subject to such pressure, and is more free to make appointments on grounds of merit alone. There is also a Conservation Commission, with the Honourable Clifford Sifton at its head, on which the Dominion, the Provinces, and the Universities are represented. This body is doing good work at making known our great natural resources, and in suggesting the best methods of preserving them.
Trade, Commerce, Transportation—The Government of Canada controls all trade and commerce, and all means of transportation which are of importance to more than one province. Railways are considered of such importance to the community that each new railway is given a gift, or subsidy, of several thousand dollars a mile, and the great transcontinental lines have been given special gifts of money and land worth many millions. The country owns and operates the Intercolonial Railway (I.C.R.), running between Montreal, Halifax, and Sydney, and the Prince Edward Island Railway; it owns, but has leased to the Grand Trunk Pacific (G.T.P.), the National Transcontinental Railway, between Moncton and Winnipeg, and by its Railway Commission it controls all the rates of railways and express companies. We subsidize lines of steamships on the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. We have built a splendid canal system at the cost of many millions, and are constantly adding to it. To the Dominion are intrusted the care of harbours, lighthouses, quarantine, and all the other necessities of a country with a great and growing trade.
Canadian Debt.—Yet, large as is our revenue, at times there are expenses so great that we are forced to borrow money. We had to borrow many millions to aid in building the Canadian Pacific Railway, and shall have to borrow largely to complete the National Transcontinental Railway. The National Debt of Canada is at present about $310,000,000, a much smaller amount in proportion to our total wealth than we owed twenty years ago. In 1912 our prosperity was so great that we were able to pay off several millions.