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My policy for the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, as a government work, with irrefutable… Crouter, J. W. (John Wesley) 1875

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As a Government  Work, witJi irrefutable Arguments
in favor of this policy. 
Ever since the formation of the Dominion, I have believed that the
Canadian Government should construct this railway as a Government work. And now that the Pacific scandal has been somewhat
ventilated, I am more strongly of that opinion. If their is any money
to be made by the construction of the railway,, the people of Canada
should share it, they have the best right. Should the undertaking
prove a loosing one, I for one do not wish 12 or any number more of
honorable men to loose by it, if they have made their money honestly
in other undertakings, I think that the Canadian people have to°
much honor to wish to deprive them of it, by having them invest
their money in the construction of a railway. But, I hold the opinion
that there is no danger that the railway will not prove remunerative,
especially with 50,000,000 acres of land, and $30,000,000 in gold, as
a bonus, else why did that astute business man, Sir Hugh, desire so
much to obtain the charter of it, with himself as President of the Company. The Government can get the railway constructed as cheaply
as a company. If either construct it, it will have to be let in sections,
to contractors. The Government can get tenders for its construction
as cheap as a company, for the contractors will feel sure ofhis money
if he constructs it under the Government.
The length of the line from a point on Lake Superior to Bed
Biver, is about 400 miles, and ought to be constructed and furnished
with rolling stock for about §25,000 per mile. The right of way will
not have to be purchased ; expensive station houses will not be needed at first on any portion of this part of the line, except at two points,
one at Lake Superior and another at Bed River. Their are several
lengthy stretches quite level, and free from trees between these two
points. Beports state that the engineering difficulties are not. great
on this part of the line, though there are many difficult places for
construction between Lake Superior eastward to Lake Nippising,
but this portion need not be constructed at present. I do not think
that I have over estimated;, the cost of the line from Lake Superior
to Bed River, but rather underestimated it.
From the Red river to the eastern boundary   of British   Columbia,
^tffc the country is an extended plain, over which a light buggy can be
driven the whole distance. Expensive stations will not be needed on
this section, the right of way will not have to be purchased -
quite an item, the track will not have to be cleared
heavy item saved, so that $20,000 per
The length of this portion
his section,
The line through British Colun-ibia, will b
construction.    I estimate that this portion
e augm
of  the
to cover the cost of
about  lUUl
I the most difficult of
of the line will cost an
average of $50,000 per mile, though there are a*number of stretches
along the line in Brithish Columbia, which will not cost more than
railways constructed in Ontario, yet, there are some places where deep
cuttings will have to be made in the rocks, and it may be that
tunnels will have to be driven. Taking the easy places with the
more difficult, I think, I have placed the estimates quite high enough.
The length of this portion of tholine is about 600 miles.
Though I must confess that     c-annot  be   known   with   exactness
how much this portion of the line'will   cost.    The   American
Pacific Bailway Co. has given some figures but I am satisfied that
most companies are not very anxious to let the world know how little
a railway costs. For if they show that their railway cost much
thev have a better argument in favor of large bonuses, and a high
tarriff for freight and passengers traffic. The way I estimate the cost
of this portion of the line is this. The easy parts for construction
requiring no deep rock cutting, I estimate at $25,000 per mile,
miles of this portion would then cost $12,500,000, leaving $17,000,
000 for the construction of 100 miles or an average of $175,000 per
mile.    Surely enough.
The estimated cost of the line from Lake Superior to the Gulf of
Georgia, which seperates the Island of Vancouver from the mainland
is as follows :—From Lake Superior to Bed Biver is $10,000,000 :
from BedBixer to the Bock Mountains, $20,000,000 ; British Columbia section, 30,000,000, making a total of $60,000,000.    j
That portion of the line between Lake Superior and Lake Nippi-
sing, can be left in obeyance until exhaustive surveys have demonstrated the most practicable route for this section. Or the line may
be commenced at the Lake Nippising terminus, and be proceeded,
with, somewhat slowly at first, expending about $1,000,000 annually
on it, and when the finances of the country will warrant it,, its construction may be pushed on to final completion.
The line froin Lake Superior to Equemault can be used as a
summer route, which will answer all purposes as far as emigrants
are concerned for years to come, also for the late autumn shipment
of grain as far as Lake Superior, where it can be stored to be freight-
id. by vessels in the spring
ports, even contigious to railways.
I will now endeavor to convince the
I will convince every politician, that the
?his is done now where there are   lake
general reader,  as I-believ
Government can furnish th
L \
means to complete the'railway without embarrassing the financies of
the country, and hence ought to do so in the interest   of the country
Since Confederation their have been put under contract and partly
completed, narly 2,000 miles of railway in the four Provinces of
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, About 1500
miles of these railways are quite finished. The country has not been
embarrassed by their construction, but quite the opposite, the country
has greatly prospered, wages have been increased 50 per cent, commerce has been stimulated by the circulation of money for the construction of these railways, and manufacturies have been augmented.
The people prosperous with plenty of money are moro luxurious,
"the common people use more fine imported goods yielding revenue,
instead of home manufactures yieldings none, hence the reason why
he Dominion revenue increased over 50 per cent in five years. The
increase being $5,820,110.
If then the country were able to project and to a great extent, complete nearly two thousand miles of railway, and, at the same time,
fill the Dominion treasury, and the,treasury of each of the Provinces
full to overflowing, without increasing the custom and excize duties.
Upon the basis of what argument, can it be shown that 2000 miles of
the Pacific Railway cannot be completed in ten years.
On the basis of.the $30,000,000 in gold which the Government
proposes to give a company (a sum equal to a bonus of $10,000 per
per mile) let the Gov't, issue $60,000,000 of legal tender notes. These
notes will be as good as gold for all purposes of commerce ; as the
experience of the people of Canada has already proved by the use of
Dominion notes. Every business man uses these notes, and they do
not depreciate in value because they are covered by gold held in
deposit. Hence by this means we can use $'60,000,000 (sixty millions of dollars) for the railway, while we will be paying interest at
the rate of 4 per cent, on only $8O,OO0-,O0O. The wearing out and
destruction of a portion of the Dominion notes will be equal to a
good round rate of interest, say from 7 to 8 per cent, per annum,
which would go to the credit of banks, capitalists and stock brokers
if we borrowed the whole sum.
During the process of the construction of the railway, the Government ought to be able to sell to actual settlers 10,000,000 acres ©f
land, at an average of $3.50 per acre. This is lower than the American Railroad Co's. charge for poorer land. Their prices range from
$3 to $10 per acre, making an average of $6.50 per acre. Within
the 20 mile limit on both sides of the railway line (not including that
portion of the line which runs through Ontario, for Ontario will give
nothing to the railway) there are about   51,000,000 acres of land.
If a railway company constructs the railway under the existing
Charter, they will get the half of this. And they will have to get
25,000,000 more, either in a block or in alternate sections. If they
get it in block it would of itself make a whole Province one hundred
and fifty miles broad, and two hundred and fifty mile long ; and for ought we know, the company may get it in the South Saskatchewan
Valley, possessing a climate equal to the most favored parts of Ontario, and a soil superior to it. But some readers will doubt that the
late scheme proposed to grant so much land ; but make the calculation yourself. A strip of land twenty miles wide,. and two thousand
miles long contains twenty-five millions and six hundred thousand
acres of land. According to the Government scheme, the company
was to get about sixty millions of acres ' of land for the Pacific and.
other railways. A portion of it in alternate sections ten miles wide
and twenty miles deep on each side of the railway, and the balance
somewhere else ; and if the company helped the Government, well
perhaps the company would have the privilege of choosing the iooa-.
tion. Nor was the company to.have any rocky land. If any of their
sections were too rocky for sale, the company was to have the privilege of exchanging it for good land that would sell.
In the above describedSblock of land, I have only taken into account
the land grant to the Canada Pacific, proper other raj^waya-.were to
be built by the same company to connect with it, for which bonuses
in the shape of additional land grants were to be given.
In case the company construct all the railways specified in the
Charter, the size of the block I have referred to, greatly
As soon as the Government have sold their chpag^r rate,
the companies land would be in good demand, and they would get
from $3 to $10 per acre, or an average of §7.50 per. ware. Hence
they would get a land bonus which will be worth three hund^ejiand
seventy-five (.millions of dollars. .Quite- a nice littie.j{bpnus. No
wonder that Sir Hugh desired it so much. According to my scheme
an eighty acre section a^$5 would amount to $400. Tha&iip at the
highest rate the Government would charge. But if a company con-
constructs the Railway with the land bonus they will asjyjijpIO per acre,
and for choice lots of land lyuj^g near stations will no doubt ask $15
per acre.
When I have listened to the oft repleaited:t§tory  of thftdi^dships of
the settler in his struggle to maintauj^gfamily, make upjproveruents,
construct roads with ;markets far away  and poor, and at the same
time pay  off a   debt  of ten or twelve hunched, dollars for land that
cost a company, or speculator 25 cents  to  a dollar  per acre, I have
been sorely vexed that a (law could not have been made and enforced
to present sunji wrongs.    If a company  construct the railway they
will not be obliged to sell their lands for  less than   I hatie stated.
A bonus of $10,000 a mile wnich the  Government proposes to give
them in gold, will g^^de the  road and then it can be mgrjtgaged for
iron and rolling stock.    The company would only need to r$ke mo-
aey to pay interest on their mortgages'.     Suppose the ballance to be
$70,000,000.    The estimated cost of the entire line from Lake Nip-
pissing to Esquemault is  $100,000,000.    The  company w&s to receive $30,000,000 in gold, thus Reaving the balance stated.    The in- terest on this snm at say five per cent (they might borrow money in
the English market at this rate if well secured) would be $8,500,000
three million and a half yearly. 500,000 acres sold yearly at $7'per
acre would yield this sum. It would take one hundred years to sell
their entire grant if they sold only this quantity yearly. They could
get this price for lands next stations and would not be obliged to sell
for a less price ; hence they would be able to hold their lands at a
high figure for all time. Has not trfe Canada Land Company given
them experience enough ? Has not speculators in land given proof
enough of the very bad policy in giving land to' any one except the
actual settler ? This is a question woftlry the consideration of even-
parent in Canada. Your son may wish to have a farm—he may not
be able to purchase in the old settlements—if he gets land he must
go to the new country, and endure all its disadvantages : lack of
roads, schools, stores, manufacturies, houses, barns, fences, too much
or too little woods being some of them, he will have enough to dc
live and make himself comfortable, without paying $1,000 in ins
ments oi $100 per year with interest at 8 per cent.
We   have   no
proof that the Canada Railway Company will
not chargS*this sum for lands anywhere near the railway, or even for
goodifeiad's &'little further off. American companies charge more
than this for then best lands lying ne&rM&ations. Men. with only
avefage business c'apaeity^will buy  these   lands, and artrer years
arid   some poor'crops they   will have to giye'D
lands to the railway company^; (railway land sharks may I be permitted to call them) wrfb'aJJfHflfeir improvements for nothing—this
land to be sold over again at a hither rate.
It is- an SfamanlyV'^unfeelSag   argument  to state that these people
ought to look out aJBfl not purchase lands that they,cannot pay for.
of   every   Government   to protect the  weak
But it  is the  dfliy1
against the strong, for
nis was Government instfro^ed. Hence the
Government ought to trold these lands for actual settlors at prices
within their reiafch and the payment of "which will not distress them.
But the people mufet remonstrate agSfast any further snearation of
the public domain.
But some make the following objection. H the Government constructs the railwa^ and run it,'it will place to much power in its
hands. But thesef'oBjteetors forgetfi>h,al? the Goverment has under its
control custom, eiSJize and pSst-offices yielding a larger revenue and
requiring ^ifea^ger number of officials than will ever Be ^required on
the Pacific Railway. Should a company control the jrismway, the
Director may dismiss any offieial, who may vote or use his political
ijluence corit#a#y to the washes of J6S3lcoinpany. The Government
would not fere-to-'tt&Siistf a\worthy official, Just for political reasons.
Allthe offieftll eould do, wouicHye to express hi§'opinions. As Government sriiafeye&HigftSt he could not??ote.
But I thkikitSs mere Waste of powder and shot, to use the expression of'Sir Hugh, to try and pr^ye that the railway in the hands
I 6
of tbe Government would endanger the rights of the people half   as
much as it would be endangered by a company.
Have not the disclosures of the past few weeks been sufficient to
show,' that a rich corporation may through their wealth, demoralize
voters sufficiently to secure unwise legislation, and the granting of
an unwise Charter.
The Western States are now experiencing some of the evils arising, from having their railroads controled by companies, instead of
by the Government. It costs nearly the price of two bushels of corn
to send one bushel from any State west of Illinois, to New York.
Bailway companies reap much of the profit of wheat, at the grower's
expence. The price of wheat in New York, is not fixed by the demand there, but by the British markets. The price of breadstuffs
in Liverpool rules the prices in New York. Inference if the railway
company should increase or diminish their tariffs 50 cents it would
neither add nor diminish the price in New York. The consumers
in the Eastern States may be mdifferent to the railway tariffs, but
not so with the western people, they are affected materially by a
high tariff, and they cannot help it, so long as the railways are controled by companies. For a great majority vote would not compel
any company to re-arrange their tarfff in conformity to the peoples
wishes. But let the railways be under the control of the Government, then the people can fix the passenger and freight tariffs according to the expressed wishes of the people at the polls.
There are thousands of farmers in Ontario, Quebec and the maritime Provinces, whose sons will settle in the fertile plains of our
great North-West. Do they wish the produce arrising from their
toil, to be subject to tribute exorbitant and onerous by rapacious railway companies. Then let them sanotion the construction of the
Canadian Pacific Railway by a company.
There are hundreds of meohanios who will build shops and fac*
tories along the line of railway, is it desirable that these will pay a
monopolist price for coal to a company, then sustain the pohey of
constructing the railway by a company. But let the Government
construct the railway, and then the people through their representatives, can control the freight tariff on coal satisfactory to the farmers,
and mechanics "who must burn it in the west instead of wood. The
manufacturer who indirectly, and directly, adds greatly to the wealth
of the country, will be able to get it at a cost slightly beyond the cost
of digging and freignt, instead of at a cost 100 per cent greater if
a company control the railway.
But again there are extensive forests in British Collumbia. N©
part of tkese should be given to a company to mono{>oliz*. The
cost on the transport of the lumber eastward to the almost woodless
prairies between Red River and the Rocky Mountains, shonid be but
little more than the actual expense of car and engine wear and tne
wages of employees. No twenty or thirty per cent, profit should be
considered by a Government, as would be by a Gompany.   The forest
iM too, along the line should not be monopolized by great capitalists,
but it should be given in certain sized blocks to separate individuals
on condition they erect mills within a specified time. These mill men
would compete with each other and bring the lumber to a reasonable
surred over and over again, by men who are in
the business, that lumber can be sawn as cheaply by mills that cost
from three to six thousand dollars as it can be by mills costing ten
times this amount. Very large mills soon cut the logs adjacent to it, but
logs brought a considerable distance cost good deal inore ; though in some
places large mills are an advantage to the manufacture of lumber much
more than to the consumer and settler. Large mills require the monopoly
of large tracts of timber lands to the exclusion of smaller ones. "Where
large tracts of land are held for many years by monopolists the settler has
to go a long distance to the great mill for lumber, which is a great inconvenience to him. But smaller mills would be built right into the settlement
and manufacture lumber for the settler as well as for market. Let any
one go into sections of country that have been settled after its abandonment
by the lumberer, settled in many°cases by men who bouaht their lands of
lumbermen—who first stripped the land of the finest timber before they
sold it, and always selling, remember, at prices from one to five and six
hundred per cent more than it cost them—I repeat go into these settlements
and ask these men if they believe large milis help the settlement of a country. But in places where the. lumber cannot be shipped for lack of suitable
conveyance, then the streams become available for floating logs down them
to large mills, from whence it can be sent to market to the advantage of
the manufacturer of lumber. But the Pacific B|Oilway will furnish means
for conveying1 lumber all along the line, hence there will be no need of large
mills, and there ought to be no great monopoly of these timber lands to the
detaiment of any person, which would be the case if a company constructed
the railway.
Many of our railways that we have helped so largely to build, will not
carry cordwood to the detriment of the townspeople and farmers along the
line, the companies preferring to see the farmers burn it rather than give
them cars to freight it, because the companies fear it will increase the price
of cord wood against themselves. I for one ieel like this. Owners of
railways in Canada have not given the people the best of satisfaction, but in
some eases very poor satisfactioi
in favor of giving the Government
-Now to show that the Government can construct the railway  and run it.
I have stated that the Government ought to be able to sell 10,000,000
acres of land, at an average of §3.50 per acre, this would give a sum of
§35,00,0000. Their are 50,000 yeoman in Canada who want farms, and
would go west and work on the railway to earn money to buy them. These
men would be replaced by emigrants from the Old Country. The number-
drawn from Canada would hardly be noticed by the people, as it would take
only about 250 from each county or riding. All of these men would
not purchase land, but there are thousands of farmers who would go to
purchase land for themselves and sons, in the fertile prairies of our great
North West-
The policy which I advocate is this : that the Government should construct the railway and hold these lands for sale to the actual settler, and
at the following rates :—Within five miles ot stations, at $5 per.acre ; beyond five and within ten miles, at §4 per aere ; beyond ten miles and within fifteen miles, at   $3 per acre; beyond  fifteen miles and within twenty 
miles of stations, at $2 per acre. This would give an average of §3.50 per
acre, if an equal quantity of each, at these prices, was sold. Everyone accustomed to the advantages of railways, knows that land within ten miles
of a station is of far greater value than land twenty miles from it—fcr one
can go to market and return the same day, thus saving a day's team work,
which, in the time of fall plowing, is often worth many dollars to him.
So likewise if only five miles from a station he^jan go two trips to market
the same day, thereby saving a day over the man ten miJes away. If every
fifth lot along the line of railway should be sold during its construction at the
prices stated, a sum ol $35,000,000 would be realized, which would leave a
balance of §25,000,000 on the cost of the line between Lake Superior and
Esquemault, B. C. The sale of 10,000,000 acres of land at this rate, to say
nothing of the sale of village and town lots at the stations, would leave a
balance on the construction of the line from Lake Superior of §25,000,000.
How to provide for this balance, and for the whole §60,000,000 if no land
is sold.
The construction of this railway will cause an increase in the revenus of
from one to nine millions of dollars per year. Suppose the line from Lake
Superior to Equimault, will be completed in ten years, and it will cost no
more to complete it in that time than it will in a greater time, as it is only
a question of men, and they can be got from Europe and Asia, as many as
are needed. The sum of the increase of the revenue, during its construction,
would be §45,000,000, as this increase would be in consequence of the construction of the railway, it ought to be applied in diminishing the debt consequent on its construction.
If the Government expend one million dollars per year, on the line from
Lake Nippissing westward, the balance impaid if no land was sold would
e §24,000,000. Three years of this last increase of revenue, would wipe it
all off, with a balance of three millions to good. Yet some will persist in
reiterating that it is impossible to construct the railway- in our time, and
that Canada will not be able to construct it within the next 20 or as some
say 50 years.   I do like to hear these men talk, it amuses me.
Our Governmen backed by four millions of prosperous people—backed
by thirty millions in gold—backed by a treasury filled to overflowing' while
the Government is constructing nearely seven hundred miles of railway
and the people through companies aided by Government "and municipal
bonuses are constructing thirteen hundred miles more. Backed by all the
land on both sides of a railway—not half of it. Backed by engineers and
contractors not surpassed for energy and enterprise in any country, our
Government backed by all these means, can construct the Pacific within
ten years as surely as the American Union Pacific railway constructed their
railway in a less time.
I stand prepared to form a party which will hurl from political power
eyery man, party and clique of men who shall refuse to build this railway
as a Government work.
46, rue l'u11 iiin


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