The Canada Pacific Ry.
Its Political History Reviewed by the Greatest Authority in the World
The last number of the British Quarterly Review, the greatest authority in the world in the fields of social and political science, has an article on the political history of the construction of the Canada Pacific Railway. The reviewer states that the railway is really the history for the time of Canada itself, and is intimately associated with the future of the British Empire. It claims consideration in respect of its imperial and commercial value. The railway had made Canada and the Pacific coast, and had enabled the Government to put down the Riel rebellion.
The most interesting portion in the article to Canadians is the reviewer's remarks on the Opposition policy. His strictures are very severe. About the time the Mackenzie Cabinet fell in 1878, the attitude of the Liberal party underwent a change. The Liberals said that to carry out the country's obligation to British Columbia was impossible, and would impose financial burdens absolutely ruinous in their oppressiveness, and that the idea of a railway from ocean to ocean, entirely avoiding foreign soil, most be relegated to the dim future. The result to the country of this strange perversity was bad.
The incoming Cabinet was thwarted by the obstacles put in its way, and was driven to revert to the original plan of an independent company. The Government turned to the gentlemen who had made the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba railway successful and induced them to undertake the work. Sir Charles Tupper introduced a bill in 1881 to carry out the agreement, and appealed to the Opposition to unite with his supporters in bringing the national work to a triumphant and satisfactory conclusion. The appeal failed. The Opposition missed the opportunity of adopting a course creditable to themselves and advantageous to the country. Their captious criticism on the subject has not redounded to the reputation of the Opposition as patriots or statesmen, while the tactics they have pursued have done much abroad to shake the credit and position of the colony. The resolutions, however, were passed. The promoters subscribed a million and the work was begun in thorough earnest. The details of the construction are well known.
The reviewer points out the advantages offered by this road for the conveyance of the Pacific and Atlantic mails to and from Japan, China, and Australia, being under one management from sea to sea. The question, will the line pay ? can be answered in the affirmative. It is now earning a substantial amount in excess of fixed charges, a result astonishing and gratifying to the shareholders. The fixed charges will not increase for some time and the traffic receipts will at the worst show a large development. The financial success of the road seems to be assured. Canada is already reaping a good return for the sacrifices she has made, and England cordially hopes her expectations will be fulfilled; inasmuch as the work interests the Mother Country. The great North west has been opened up to emigration, where millions of acres of wheat producing land await the settler. No longer need Canada's sons go to the States to make a new start, nor need emigration from England drift to New York.
The railway has solved the Indian question. It has opened up vast coal fields, stimulated the mining industry on Lake Superior and elsewhere, and promises to establish a large reciprocal trade with Australia. Yet more far reaching results will effect Englishmen the world over from the new ocean service projected by the Dominion Government, which may well be called "the accelerated mail service." Halifax is to be reached in five days and a half from Queenstown, and passengers will reach the Pacific coast in eleven days from London.
The Canadian Government has proposed the construction of steamers to be used as cruisers on the Pacific seas. In view of the relations of England and China and her less harmonious relations with Russia, the matter is of very great importance to the Empire, and England should not at a critical moment be weak. The railway is of strategic importance to the Empire, and affords a new route to India, if the Suez Canal should be blocked, preferable to the Cape route ; military and naval stores can be forwarded and transports sent to India more quickly. In the case of war the wheat supply of Russia and India would be stopped by the old routes, but England could obtain her Indian supply through Canada by the railway, as well as a large and ever-increasing supply of Canadian grown cereal. The road is already being used by the British Government, which has established stores at Vancouver and Esquimalt. It is probable that the mail service from London to Australia via Canada can be made in thirty two days.
In conclusion the reviewer says Canada by the railway has contributed to the welfare and safety of the Empire and the peaceful interests of the world.