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Notes on the Canadian Pacific Railway Hewson, M. Butt 1879

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(Formerly} Originator and Promoter of the Meinphis and Louisznlle Railroad; Chief
Engineer {under Commission fro/n tlie State of Mississippi] o?i the Memphis aitoT^
Charleston Razhoad;   Chief Engineer of tlie Mississippi Central Railroad; v
'  CJiief Eiigineer of the Arkansas Midland Railroad; Consulting Engineer1^
of the Mississippi^ Ouachita and '-Red River RaUroad', etc., etc. t e^cyJfci$R£*
Patrick Boyle, Printer axd Publisher, 16 Francis Street.
1879-  NOTES
(Formerly, Originator and Promoter of the Memphis and Louisville Railroad;   Chief
Engineer [under Commission from the State of Mississippi] on the Memphis and
Charleston Raihoad;   Chief Engineer of the Mississippi Central Railroad;
Chief Engineer of the Arkansas Midland Railroad; Consulting Engineer
of the Mississippi, Ouachita and Red River Railroad, etc., etc., etc.)
Patrick Boyle, Printer and Publisher, 16 Francis Street.
The following notes on the Canadian Pacific Railway were made
originally for publication in England. One of their objects being the
enlistment of English capital in the construction of the line, they
attempt to place it to the fullest extent on the basis of Imperial
interests. They seek to combine in the highest degree, the industrial
uses of the enterprise with its uses as a line of defence • and to make
it-in that and other ways, an essential agency of the Imperial policy
which stands committed to the experiment of developing these Provinces of North America into a political power based on conditions of
Because of the local character of the Government-expenditures in
that Province, Manitoba is being spoken of in the East as " a "favored
Province." The outlays about to be commenced in the name of the
same enterprise in British Columbia, will not serve to correct the dispo.
sition of the old Provinces to regard that system of special action with
jealous question. The monies granted the Canada Central and those
committed to the Georgian Bay branch, supply other instances marked
by localism. Even an ultimate unification of these special applications
of the general credit in a continuous line of railway beginning on Lake
Nipissing, has very little in its pretence to Nationalism—a pretence
nothing in its design justifies—to reconcile to the burdens of all those
expenditures, the tax-payers of Ontario, of Quebec, of New Brunswick,
of Nova Scotia. When that burden shall have commenced to press
heavily on the people of these Provinces, all those grounds of dissatisfaction will come to the front in a danger to the completion of the
Railway, a danger from which there is no such escape as would be found
certainly in the execution of the enterprise on a broad design, one
anchoring it firmly in not only local interests, but in also National
What interest has New Brunswick in a railway discharging Canadian
freights for Europe at Portland ? Quebec made the terminus of the
Pacific Railway on the St. Lawrence, less than 290 miles of railway
(7 miles shorter than the line connecting Montreal with Portland),
would give the shipping interests of that Province, the opportunity of
competing for the winter freights of half a Continent, at St. John.
What interest has Nova Scotia in a railway discharging Canadian
freights for Europe at Portland ?   Quebec made the terminus of the IV PREFACE.
Pacific Railway on summer-tide-water, a chord-line across the bow-line
of the Intercolonial will spring into existence, reducing the distance
to Halifax to 510 miles ; and thus will the establishment of the terminus
at Quebec give the shipping interests of Nova Scotia, subject to the
drawback of transportation over 220 miles of railway, the great advantage
of their geographical position in competition with St. John for the
winter-freights of the British North American Empire of the future, at
Five or six hundred miles of railway running up the St. Maurice and
down the Moose, would tap Hudson Bay. That line once ready to
discharge upon the St. Lawrence at Quebec the treasures awaiting to
be claimed by enterprise in and around that great sea, it would quicken
the latent energies of the French Canadian population by directing a
powerful stream of industrial blood into its heart. The timber, the soil,
the minerals, the fisheries—with their whales and their seals and then-
salmon and their caplin and their cod—thrown open by that Hne even
to Hudson Bay, would fix the Canadian Pacific firmly in the local
interests of Quebec and the Maritime Provinces, by placing new opens
for industry and wealth at the service of their lumbermen, their
farmers, their miners, their sailors, their ship-carpenters, their merchants, their capitalists.
On neither the route adopted, nor on the route proposed in the following pages, does the Pacific Railway obtain a broad basis in the special
interests of Ontario. While meeting that expediency, a further
developement of the Imperial and of the National character of the
enterprise may be obtained in the case of the line proposed in this
pamphlet by constructing from its crossing of the Moose, a branch-line
of 350 miles up the Abittibee and down the Montreal River to a junction
with two lines converging on a point £ast of Lake Nipissing—one of these
lines progressing now by way of Ottawa from Montreal, the other progressing now from Toronto. The point of junction of the Pacific Railway
branch with these two lines from the southbeing retired some eighty miles
inland from the Georgian Bay, and in a country highly defensible, this
expedient would supply an interior line of communication in direct
connection with a base upon Hudson Bay - and while giving about 700
miles of Railway to local development in Ontario, would give that
Province at its great railway-centre, a terminus of the Canadia Pacific.
Montreal would continue to enjoy the present—its canals, its lakes, its
Grand Trunks—and being provided, like Toronto, with one terminus of
the Pacific Railway, would be asked by the proposed change of route
but to divide the future, in a highly expedient distribution of the industrial and commercial vitality of the country, with that centre of French
Canadian life, " the Ancient Capital." PREFACE. V
Yellow Head Pass should, it seems to me, never have been thought
of as a point on the Pacific Railway while a pass half the height offers
at the discharge through the Rocky Mountains, of Peace River. In
this and other points glanced at in the following pages I cannot avoid
setting down the present location of the National Railway as an error.
The; plea set up in apology for that misjtake, that the Canadian North-
West will be crossed hereafter by several lines to the Pacific, supplies,
assuredly, no reason why the jirst should be fixed on the route which
is the most objectionable. Nor is the investment of twenty millions in
the blunder which evidently has been made, a good reason why a hundred millions mouse should be invested in continuation of that blunder.
Indeed that commitment ought not to count for anything against the
overruling expediency of placing the Railway on an Imperial and
National plane—certainly ought not to count so when it is considered
that those twentv millions supply a distinct want of the day, in giving
access for even six months of the year to the lines of emigrant-distribution centering at Winnipeg in the navigation of Red River, of the
Assinaboine River, of Lake Manitoba, of Lake Winnipegosis, of Lake
Winnipeg, of the River Saskatchawan.
A mistake has been made in the mode of exploration. An investment of fifty or a hundred millions ought not to be predicated on
anything short of full knowledge. The present system of investigation
may stumble on a good line ; but it fails to supply evidence that there
may not be found even ten miles on either side of that line, one better
by many millions of dollars. The exploration ought to proceed on a
plan of breadth, one serving to show not only a good line, but the best
bine. Besides this reason for stopping at once the present mode of
proceedings, there exists the further reason that, while that mode
wastes— and has carried the waste already to millions—all outlays save
those on the line ultimately adopted, the method proposed in the
following pages applies almost all its outlays to a work of permanence
which is a very necessity of settlement. With such a map as Colonel
Dennis' map of Manitoba, I can affirm on the authority of many years
of personal experience in the determination of railway-routes through
regions new and thinly settled, that the question of the route across
the Continent may, in the first place, be simplified in the office by the
projeftiion of several hnes on the map on a basis of specific knowledge.
A personal examination of half a dozen points—known to Engineers in
the United States as " ruling points"—on the lines >laid down- thus, will .
be sufficient for the rejection of the more unpromising of those projected
routes. The few whose relative merits cannot be determined by this
reconnoisance may then be subjected to instrumentation. That experimental survey may be made in the case of the Canada Pacific at a
special cost which ought not to exceed $150.000—a cost sufficient in r NOTES
A railway on British soil from the Atlantic to the Pacific is a
. conception which might have been expected to hold the thoughts of
Canadian politicians at the level of statesmanship. But the peddling
spirit in which that great undertaking has been treated from its
inception until this present moment, is, perhaps, not so much a fault
of the public men of Canada as of the Parliamentary system in a
new country. Be that, however, as it may, the course of the Government at Ottawa on the Pacific Railway has been characterised by
a remarkable want of comprehensiveness. One Ministry felt free to
yield to local pressure ia restricting the route of the road through
the Province of Ontario to the south of Lake Nipissing. Another
undertook to carry out the line in isolated links of a chain completed
by " water-stretches"—water-stretches for six months of the year and
for the other six months, ice-stretches! Again, the road, designed
though it is to connect the two oceans and to discharge " Asiatic
commerce" on the St. Lawrence, has been made to " begin in the
woods!" Its ultimate connection with tide-water was, it is true,
provided for at the same time by an " Order in Council,"* one
declaring that connection to lie over two sides of a triangle whose
base is perfectly available for making the connection in about half
the mileage of the sides ! The general purpose of the railway was
compromised for some local consideration in order to build a branch
whose only supposable uses had been already discharged elsewhere ;
and was again compromised when the influence of local interests was
allowed to determine the site of a river-crossing !
Some struggling settlements exist on the northern border of
Georgian Bay. Others battle on to crops on the northern shore of
Lake   Superior.    These  insignificant   facts  have  been,  seemingly,
* An " Order in Council" declaring that the waters of the Ottawa shall flow
to the north, would be hardly less ridiculous than one declaring that freights
shall pursue a routes—eiistance being cost—unnecessarily long. Beyond general
instructions within strict limits of statesmanship, any meddling of the political
authority in the determination of the route of the Canaeiian Pacific Railway
can work but evil. Orders in Council ought to decline to speak in the case,
save only when necessary to give effect to the recommendations of a directing
body combining engineering skill with generalised knowledge of the economics
of transportation.
. 12
thus a line of navigation which will, most probably, prove to be a
new route of commerce.
The Arctic Sea practicable for ships from Europe to Behring's
Strait, what of that sea onward to the mouth of the Mackenzie 1
. West of Behring's Strait, the ice-pack of the Northern Ocean is
shown on the Admiralty charts thus:
August, 1827—over a degree off shore.
July, 1850—over a degree off shore.
East of Behring's Strait the ice-pack is shown on the Admiralty
charts thus :
August, 1826—half a degree off shore.
August, 1827—quarter of a degree off shore.
July, 1849—half a degree off shore.
The pair of facts cited here for the Siberian coast holds on the
route just proved by Professor Nordenskjold to be practicable for
ships. A comparison of these with the corresponding facts given
above on the continuation of that route to the Mackenzie, is full of
encouragement to the expectation that the navigation of the Arctic
Ocean on that continuation, is also practicable for ships. If the warm
—the Japan—current which rushes through Behring's Strait from
the Pacific be the true explanation of the open water on the Siberian
Coast, the settled fact that it forks at the discharge from the Strait,
one prong following the coast to the east as the other does the coast
to the west, is good for the presumption that the water on the American
coast is also open. Captain McClure has proved that it is practicable
for ships, for, at all events, a part of the year. Sir John Franklin's
" Second Expedition to the Polar Sea" corroborates that conclusion
when it says (page 34):
" The Rocky Mountains were seen from the S.W to W.^N., and from
the latter point around to the north, the sea" (off the mouth of the
Mackenzie on the 16th August, 1825) "appeared in all its majesty,
entirely free from ice, and without any visible obstacle to navigation.
Many seals and whites whales were sporting on its waves."
In an address delivered about twenty-five years ago to the Royal
Geographical Society, Admiral Beechy said :
'■ I need hardly remind you of the report from the Secretary of the
United States Navy to the (Senate, to the effect that * * * a trade
had sprung up in America by the capture of whales to the north of
that" (Behring's) " Strait, of more value to the States than all their
commerce with what is called the east, and that in two years there had
been added to the national wealth of America from this source alone,
more than eight millions of dollars."
Under the light of the above facts there can be little doubt that,
whether open for twelve months of the year as some insist, or not,
the Northern Ocean on the line of Captain McClure's " North-west
Passage" is free to commerce, through the fishing grounds of the
American whalers off the mouth of the Mackenzie River, for, at all
events, a part of the year.    And this being so, if commerce follow 13
Professor Nordenskjold as it has done over part of his recent
journey, over the remainder of it, there is little or no doubt that
commerce can go on through the whaling grounds off the American
coast to deliver and to receive cargoes within the waters of the
In answer 2595 to the Hudson Bay Committee of the Imperial
Parliament in 1857, Mr. Master states that the mouth of the Mackenzie is free from ice from the beginning of June to some time in
October—say for four months. At Eort Simpson, 7 degrees of
latitude up-stream, the ice, he says, breaks up in the beginning of
May. Going farther up the river, into its great affluent, the Peace,
the length of the open season is found to increase* Speaking of that
stream at a point east of its passage through the Rocky Mountains,
Sir Alexander Mackenzie says in his Voyages (page 131), that the ice
began to run in the river on the 26th of November, which he calls
the closing of navigation; and he gives us to understand that, having
resumed his journey up the river on the 10th of,the following May
(page 153), the navigation must have been open then, if not before. *
Free to admit ships from the sea for four months of the year, the
Mackenzie River offers a water-way open for distributing their cargoes
inwards and supplying them with cargoes outwards, during a period
extending from four to seven months of the twelve.
In his book on the North-West of America, Archbishop Tache of
Manitoba says (Cameron's Translation, page 31) ofthe Mackenzie :
" The river is navigable, if not from its source, at least from Jasper
House (15 degrees to the south of its outlet into the Arctic Ocean) to
its mouth, a distance of about 2,000 miles. In this long line, navigation
in boats of the country is interrupted at only two places, by the group
of rapids in the Riviere a la Biche and one in Slave River. The latter
rapids, at about 1,200 miles from the Arctic Ocean, present the first
obstacle to vessels going up the stream. Vessels of less draught could
easily navigate from above these rapids to the foot of La Biche Rapids •
but not at all seasons of the year, as when the water is low there are
numerous sand banks in the way. From the latter rapids to the Jasper
House the current is exceedingly strong and the water generally
shallow, so that here navigation is very difficult, and possibly only in
boats of the country when powerfully propelled."
In his evidence (answers 2592-7J before the Parliamentary Committee of 1857, Mr. Isbister says of the navigation of the Mackenzie :
" There is one immaterial obstruction near Fort Good Hope. I know
of no other until you come to the Great Slave Lake. Vessels of considerable size could pass at Fort Good Hope and into Slave Lake without
any interruption whatever. * * * The Slave Lake itself is
navigable * * * but the Slave River is interrupted by frequent
portages. * * * On the Mackenzie, navigation by steamboat could
be carried on undoubtedly." ( ^.
* Professor Maconn states that on an average of ten years the Peace is open
at St. John's on the 20th of April. This gives navigation for seven months
out of the twelve.
. I
14       '
Mr. Isbister says that " the Mackenzie is a fine large river," and
that *' it is a beautiful river." Archbishop Tache writes (page 31 of
his North Western America) ** In some places it" (the Mackenzie)
| is two miles broad, and, in short, as regards its length and its
volume of water, is one of the finest rivers in the world."
Archbishop Tache and Mr. Isbister concur in the statement that
vessels can navigate the Mackenzie into Great Slave Lake. The
former places obstacles to navigation by the same class of ships far
up the stream on the Athabasca ; but the latter says they present
themselves in Slave River. The line of water-way which the Archbishop describes is that of the Athabasca, from the eastern slopes of
the Bocky Mountains. The Peace, another great tributary of the
Mackenzie, rises on the opposite side—the western side—of that
great range ; and from the point at which it completes its debouch
from the Rockies—Hudson's Hope—is navigable by large steamboats
for the whole length—several hundred miles—above Vermillion
Rapiel. Assuming the stretch of Peace River below Vermillion
Rapid and also the whole length of the Slave Eiver, to remain
questionable in reference to their navigation by steamboats, there is
still no room for doubt that, with the exception of the interval
represented by these two—say 350 miles—the Mackenzie offers in
conjunction with its affluent, the Peace, a line of water-way available
for large steamboats fur a period of from four to seven months of the
year, and for a length of probably 2,000 miles.
The climate of the upper part of the basin tributary to the Mackenzie is like that of Manitoba.
The following testimony bears on that subject:
Dr. King was the naturalist of the expedition in search of Sir
John Ross. In answer 5654 to the Select Committee of the House
of Commons (1857) he said:—" Speaking of the very vast area of
which the Athabasca is the southern boundary, I believe the average
temperature to be about the same as at Montreal in Canada."
Ih answer 5653, Dr. King explained that when he said that the
country *'is well adapted for colonization" he includeel the character
of the climate. $$**'
On page 131 of his " Voyages," Sir Alexander Mackenzie says he
employed men to dig a ditch and set pallisades on the banks of Peace
River, in November.    On the 6th of that month he states that :
" The river began to run with ice * * On the 16th ice stopped in
the other forks * * The water in this branch continued to flow
until the 22nd, when it was also arrested by the frost so that we had a
passage across the river which would last to the latter end of the succeeding April."
On page 135 he says that between November 16th and December
2nd, the range of the thermometer at half-past eight in the morning
was from 27° above zero to 16° below. At noon the range during
that period was between 29° above zero aud 4 below.    At six in the 15
evening the variation in that interval was from 28° above to 7°
below. His thermometer broken, Sir Alexander describes (page 176)
the remainder of the winter on the Upper Peace thus :
" On the 5th of January, in the morning, the weather was calm, clear
and cold ; the wind blew from the south-west; and in the afternoon it
was thawing. I had already observed at the Athabasca that this wind
never failed to bring us clear, mild weather, whereas when it blew from
'the opposite quarter it produced snow. * * * To this cause may
be attributed the scarcity of snow in this part of the world. At the.
end of January very little snow was on the ground; but about this time
the cold became very severe ; and remained so to the 16th of March,
when the weather became mild, and by the 5th of April all the snow
was gone."
So much for the winter. Now as to the milder season—its character and duration—in the upper parts of the Mackenzie basin:
In his " Wild North Land," Captain Butler writing for the 2nd of
April on Peace River, says, page 195 :
" April had come • already the sun shone warmly in the mid-day
hours; already the streams were beginning to furrow the grey overhanging hills, from whose southern sides the snow had vanished, save
where in a ravine or hollow it lay deep-drifted by the winter wind "
On page 215 of his book, Butler says of the banks of the Peace :
| It was only the second week in April, and already the earth began
to soften j the forest smelt of last year's leaves and of this year's buds.
* * * During the whole of the second week in April the days were
soft and warm, rain fell in occasional showers; at daybreak my
thermometer showed only 3° or 4° of frost, and in the afternoon stood
at 50° or 60" in the shade. * * * With bud and sun and shower
came •'page 246) the first mosquito on this same 20th of April. * *
Have looked (page 356) from the ramparts of Quebec on the second
last day of April and seen the wide landscape still white with the winter
In his report of 1874 to the Government of Canada, Professor
Macoun (a botanist) writes of the Peace River Valley:
I While we were passing through it, the constant record was * warm
sunshine, west winds, balmy atmosphere and skies of the brightest
blue.' Even as late as the 15th of October, the thermometer was 48°
at daylight and 61° in the shade at noon. Within the foothills of the
Rocky Mountains 1 picked up three species of plants in flower as late
as the 26th of the same month. These facts, and many others that
could be cited, show conclusively that there is an open fall, and the
united testimony of the residents make it clear that the spring commences before the 1 st of May. There must likewise be a warm summer,
as the service berries (Amalanchier Canadensis) were gathered fully
ripe as early as the 15th of July last year by the miner we engaged at
Edmonton; same berries ripening at Belleville (Ontario) about the 10th
of the same month."
Macoun goes on to say:
1 Captain Butler, in his \ Wild North Land,' speaks of the whole hillside of St. John's (on the Peace) being blue with anemones (Anemone
Patens) as early as April 22nd (1873), and Sir Alexander Mackenzie 16
records in his journal that anemones were in flower on the 20th of April
(1793). From the Hudson Bay Company's journal, I found that the
average opening of the river in 10 years at St. Johns, was on the 20th
of April. The year Captain Butler was there, it opened on the 23rd,
and the year Sir Alexander Mackenzie was on it, on the 25th. These
dates show that the spring is just as regular as the fall, and that the
beginning of winter and the opening of spring are unvarying. * _ * *
The setting in of winter and the end of the ploughing season is, at
least, eight days later than at Winnipeg."
The climate of the Peace River region having been glanced at, a
brief review may be submitted of the quality of the soil.
Sir Alexander Mackenzie says of the Peace Eiver country, on page
129 of his "Voyages":
-'• There is not the least doubt but that the soil would be very productive , if proper attention was given to its preparation. * * The
soil is black and. Hght."
In answer to questions 5645 and 5647 of the Parliamentary Committee of 1857, Dr. King states that :
" Sir John Franklin, Ross Cox, and many others, speak of the richness of that part of country.    *    *    That tract is a rich soil.    *    *
It was a black mould which ran through the country, evidently alluvial
In his " Wild North Land," Captain Butler says of the Peace River
region (pages 194 and 256) :
U The soil is a dark sandy loam * * the fertile, nature of the
country between Lesser Slave Lake and the Rocky Mountains, etc."
Professor Macoun says in his reports of 1874 and 1877 to tlie
Government of Canada, on the soil of the upper parts of the Basin of
jMackenzie Eiver :
I The whole country seen or heard of throughout the region in question is covered with a deep, rich soil, of Wonderful fertility, free from
boulders, and having very few swamps or marshes."    *    *
'.* The soil examined was of the very best description, being evidently
alluvium."     *      *
" Regarding the quality of the soil throughout the en the region, my
note-book is unvarying in its testimony. I took every opportunity to
examine the soil,! and always found it deep and fertile. It was principally clay-loa»; but had much the appearance of the intervale lands
along streams in Ontario. Its average depth where sections were
exposed was five feet; but, owing to the clay-subsoil, it was practically
inexhaustible. Days would elapse without seeing a stone, except in the
beds of the streams, and swamps were unknown in the level country
along Peace River."
The climate and the soil in the region under consideration may be
shown practically by a review of its growth. In answers 5633 to
5660 Dr. King said of that conntry to the Parliamentary Committee
of 1857 :
" The birch, the beech, the maple, are in abundance, and there is
every sort of fruit, there is likewise barley." 17
"That tract is a rich soil interspersed with well-wooded country, with
a growth of every kind, and the whole vegetable kingdom alive."
" The trees were very vast and splendid in their growth. * * They
are like the magnificent trees around Kensington Park, and would bear
comparsion with anything of the kind."
The explorers of the upper region of the Mackenzie-basin appear
excited by its richness and beauty. None of them speak of it without
ej-fthrisiasm. Sir Alexander Mackenzie is no exception. On pages
86 and 87, 129, 163 and 169 of his " Voyages," he says:
" From thence the eye looks on the course of the Little River * *
beautifully meandering for upwards of 30 miles. The valley which is
at once refreshed and adorned by it is about three miles in breadth,
and is confined by two lofty ridges of equal height, displaying a most
delightful intermixture of wood and lawn, and stretching oh till the
blue mist obscures the prospect. Some parts of the inclining heights
are covered with stately forests relieved by promontaries of the finest
verdure where the elk and buffalo find pastures."    *    *    *
" Opposite the present elevation" (on the Peace) " are beautiful
meadows with various wild animals grazing upon them, and groves of
poplars irregularly scattered over them. * * Groves of poplar vary
the scene and their intervals are enlivened with herds of elks and
buffalos. * * The whole country displayed an exuberant verdure,
the trees that bear a blossom were advancing fast to that delightful
appearance. * * The east side of the river consists of a range of
high land covered with white spruce and thei soft birch, while the banks
abound with alder and willows."    *    *
" The country is so crowded with animals" (a testimony of its richness) " as to have the appearance, in some places, of a stall yard, from
the state of the ground and the quantity of dung that is scattered over
it."    *    *
" After we had travelled for some hours through the forest, which
consisted of spruce, birch and the largest poplars I had ever seen, etc."
Simpson's Voyage, edited by Mr. McLeod, supplies the following
text from Note xxxiv. :
" We reached Methy Lake, ne-*r the middle of which, on a long projecting point, we encamped atnong/n of great size. * * From the
hills on the north side, a thousand feet in height, we obtained that
noble view of the Clearwater River which was drawn with so much
truth and beauty by Sir George Back. * * One of the pines under-
which we took our night's lodging, measured three yards in girth five
feet from the ground."
In his I Wild North Land," Captain Butler says (pages 122 and
123) that when he had passed from the south-east—from the
Saskatchewan—into the valley of the Athabasca :
" The aspect of the country had undergone a complete change, the
dwarf and rugged forest had given place to lofty trees, and the white
spruce from a trunk of eight feet in circumference lifted its head full
one hundrei and fifty feet above the ground."
1A river" (the lower part of the Athabasca) " high-shored and many-
islanded, with long reaches leagues in length, and lower banks wooded
with large forest trees."
B 18
On page 187, Captain Butler speaks of
" The beautiful region of varied prairie and forest land which lies at
• the base of the mountains between the Peace and the Athabasca River."
On page 235, Butler says of another part of the territory under
review :
| A terraced land of rich-rolling prairies * * a park like land of
wood and glade and meadow, where the jumping deer glanced through
the dry grass and trees."
The region under review here is what it is said to be by Captain
Butler—ra " lone land." Except at a few posts of the Hudson Bay
Company and a few missionary stations, it is a solituele. Though
many instances of actual production of the farm or garden cannot be
cited in evidence of its adaptation to cultivation, the following may
serve that purpose :
Fort Norman, lat. 64° 31'. In answer 247 to the Parliamentary Committee of 1857, Col. Lefroy says that barley may be grown at Fort
Norman. In answer 2562-5, Mr. Isbister says that when stationed at
Fort Norman he grew barley, oats and potatoes.
Fort Simpson, lat. 61° 5'. Sir John Richardson says, in answer 3124,
to the Parliamentary Committee of 1857, that" at Fort Simpson they
rear cattle and cultivate barley. Col. Lefroy states, in answer 246, that
at Fort Simpson there are regular crops of barley, regular cattle and a
good garden. Barley, he adds, grows very well indeed. Dr. Rae says
in answer 391, that barley is grown at this Fort; and Professor Macoun
in his report of 1877, cites Mr. Chief Factor Hardisty as his authority
for saying that at Fort Simpson barley always ripens, and wheat four
times out of five.
Liard River, lat. 61u. In answer 2572 to the Parliamentary Committee
of 1857, Mr. Isbister says that wheat can be grown at Fort Liard, but
cannot be depended on. In answer 2649, he adds: " On the Liard you
can raise large crops." In answer 391 Dr. Rae states barley is grown at
Fort Liard. Professor Macoun says in his report of 1877, that Chief
Trader Macdougall asserts that all sorts of grain and " garden stuff"
always come to maturity on the Liard.
Fort Chippewayan, lat. 58° 42'. In his report for 1877 Professor
Macoun says that scarcely anything is done with the soil at Fort Chippewayan until after the tl Oth of May, and often barley is sown after the
1st of June and comes to maturity. He states that he obtained fine
samples of wheat and barley grown at this Fort—the wheat weighing
681bs. to the bushel * the oats 581bs.
Little Red River, on the Peace, lat. 589 30'. Professor Macoun states
that on the 15th of August (report for 1877) cucumbers started in the
open air at this place were fully ripe, and that Windsor and pole beans
were likewise ripe.
At Vermillion River, on the Peace, lat. 58° 24'. Professor Macoun's
report for 1877 cites Mr. Shaw, a Hudson Bay Company's officer, as
authority for the statement that every kind of "garden stuff" can be
grown here. Barley sown on the 8th of May was cut on the 6th of
August; and was, says the Professor, " the finest I ever saw. Many
ears were as long as my hand * and the whole crop was thick and stout." 19
Battle River, on the Peace, lat. 58°. Professor Macoun says that at
this point (300 miles lower down the Peace than at St. John's, and
therefore about lat. 58°) Indian corn has ripened three years in succession.
St. John's, on the Peace, lat. 56** 15'. Professor Macoun states in his
report for 1877, that " Dan Williams had oats, barley and potatoes
growing at St. John's when I was there. The latter he dug on the 2nd
August, and they were large and dry ; the two former were fit to be cut
about the 12th of the same month."
Fort Athabasca, on the Athabasca, lat. 56* 40'. On page 129 of his
" Voyages," Sir Alexander Mackenzie writes: " When first I arrived at
Athabasca, Mr. Pond was settled on the banks of the Elk River"
(Athabasca River) " where he remained for three years, and had formed
as fine a kitchen garden as I ever saw in Canada." In answer 181 to
the Parliamentary Committee, Col. Lefroy says: " most vegetables or
anything requiring a short summer will grow at Athabasca veiy well."
In his report for 1877 Professor Macoun states that he obtained at
Athabasca " specimens of wheat and barley which have astonished all
parties to whom I have exhibited them. Many of the ears contained
one hundred grains and the weight of both wheat and barley was nearly
ten lbs. over the ordinary weight per bushel. These grains had been
raised on soil comparatively poor—very poor for the district—and lying
only a few feet above the level of Lake Athabasca."
Isle La Crosse, lat. 55° 30'. In note xxxvi. of Mr. McLeod's " Peace
River," Simpson says of this place : "The little farm is productive, and
the few domestic cattle maintained were in excellent condition." Mr.
McLean says : " This post is surrounded by cultivated fields." Colonel
Lefroy states of this place, in answer 246 to the Parliamentary Committee of 1857, that 10 acres were cultivated, yielding barley. In his
report for 1877 Macoun says of this Fort, that all kinds of grain are
reported as ripening successfully. Sir Alexander Mackenzie (page 81)
writes : " Except a small garden at Isle La Cross, which well repaid the
labour bestowed upon it."
Little Slave Lake, lat. 55° 15'. In his report for 1877 Macoun says
he found barley in stack at this place on the 12th of August.
Lac La Biche. lat. 54° 45'. Captain Butler speaks of this place in
his " Wild North Land" (page 358), as " a French mission, where all
crops have been most successfully cultivated for many years." Professor Macoun says of this station in his report for 1877 : " The Indians
and Half breeds raise an abundance of wheat and other cereals,
together with enormous crops of potatoes and garden vegetables. The
missionaries raise excellent crops of wheat and other cereals."
The specifications of production at the twelve places named in the
foregoing summary apply at great distances apart. They include an
area embracing ten degrees of latitude, and thirteen degress of longitude. The region to which these and the other facts of production
and climate apply is described by Simpson (note xxviii. of McLeod's
" Peace Eiver"). as:
•■ Extending from Clearwater or Methy Lake to the Leather Pass
(Passp, de la Cache de la Tete Jaune), and the Rocky Mountain Portage,
or Columbia Pass, or Boat encampment. * * In extent it is about five
hundred miles from east to west, and two hundred from north to south,
say eighty thousand square miles • and is the very Eden of our North." 20
In answer 541 to the Parliamentary Committee of 1857- Dr. King
describes thus the limits of the region covered by his answers as to
its soil and production :
1 It is bounded on the south by Cumberland House on the Saskatchewan ; it is an enormous tract of country. * * Then it is bounded
by the Athabasca Lake on the north. This large portion which I
describe as within this area, I looked upon as the most fertile portion
which 1 saw."
Mr. Horetzsky, who is employed as an exploring engineer by the
Canadian Government, says in his book, "Canada on the Pacific."
(pages 229 and 232):
" On proceeding a little to the north and on gaining the water-shed
of the Peace River, a decided change is at once perceptible, not only
in the appearance of the country, but also in the climate. * * *_
Within an area bounded by the Smoky River, the Rocky Mountains,
and the parallel of 56i° north latitude there lies the future garden of
the West, now lying fallow, but yet gorgeous with many of the choicest
prairie flowers, and replete with the finest wild fruits peculiar to both
wood and plain. Beneath its serene sky the lovely hills and dales, with
many crystal mountain-fed rivulets between, afford the choicest soil on
the, continent, from which the husbandman will, eventually, extract with
ease abundant harvests."
The limits set upon the rich lands described by travellers in the
Canadian North West, are seen from these extracts to be loose and
different. A map recently published by the Surveyor-General has
attempted to give them fixity, but has done so, it may be supposed,
without claims to accuracy. Descriptions already cited of the valley
of the Clearwater show that that map is wrong in excluding almost
all that luxuriant tract from its " fertile belt." Mr. McLeod says
with some truth, in his " Simpson's Voyage to Peace Eiver," that
the alleged Emit of the " fertile belt" does not go far enough north
and west. It ceatainly does not go far enough east. Captain Back
says (page 64 of his narrative) :
" In the River Saskatchewan I was not more pleased than surprised
to behold on the right bank a large farm house, with barns, and fence-
enclosure, amid which were grazing eight or ten fine cows, and three or
four horses.   It belonged to a freeman of the name of Turner."
This proof of good soil applies to a part of the Saskatchewan forty
or fifty miles to the east of the Surveyor-General's limit of the
" Fertile Belt." Cumberland House is about the same distance east
and north of that limit. It has been placed outside it in the face of
the following evidence of the quality of the soil around the house :—
In his narrative of a journey to the shores of the Arctic Sea Dr.
King says on pages 24 and 56 :
"The ground about the House (Cumberland) is not only excellent,
but fit for immediate cultivation and exhibited a few years ago. a very
productive farm * * Of fruits, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries,
and a variety of gooseberries and currants are found in vast quantities." 21
McLean's " Hudson Bay" (page 224, vol. 1) says :
" Here" (Cumberland House) f I was cheered by the sigh t of exten
sive cornfields, horned cattle, pigs and poultry, which gave the place
more the appearance of a farm in a civilised country than of a trading
post in the far North-West."
On page 392 of the Eeport of the Parliamentary Committee of
1(8»7 Mr. Gladman states that the Indians at Cumberland House raise
wheat, barley and all kinds of vegetables. In answers 5706 and
5747 Dr. King told the Parliamentary Committee of 1857 that he
saw at Cumberland House, farms growing corn, wheat and barley
successfuUy. The wheat was luxuriant. And he bears direct evidence
that the fertile belt to whose existence he testified, extends to Cumberland House, when he said (answer 5669) " my enquries at
Cumberland House, at N orway House, and at Athabasca, were : To
■WfHat extent does this" (the fertile soil) " go 1"
The boundary of the Surveyor General's " fertile belt" may be set
down on the faith of the three cases pointed out, to be too far to the
west. How far no evidence at hand serves to show, save only so far
as the following may be held to point—and it poinft& directly—to the
coneEision that the rich soil'of the region under consideration extends
to Norway House.
Dr. Bang said in 1857 to the Committee of Parliament: "My
enquiries at Cumberland House, at Norway House, and at Athabasca,
were : To what extent does this" (the fertile soil) " go 1" Col. Crofton
stated in answer 3316 to the Parliament Committee, that you might
grow corn at Norway House. In answer 182 he said he had seen
rhubarb, peas, cabbages, and many other vegetables growing with
success at that House. Ballantyne says (page 88), " Behind the
Fort" (Norway House) "stretches the thick forest, its outline broken
here and there by cuttings of firewood or small clearings for farms"
On page 126 he speaks of happy hours spent " rambling in the groves
and woods of Norway House." Of the Indians at a village two
miles from that House, he says (page 116) : -''They spent their time
in farming during the summer * and were successful in raising potatoes
and a few other vegetables for their own use." He speaks of the
" deepening shadows of the lofty pines at Norway House." And
Gladman says on page 392 of the report of the Parliamentary Com-
mitte of 1857, that wheat may be raised at Norway House and that
the soil at the House is good.
Extending probably from Norway House to the Rocky Mountains,
there is, it may be concluded with confidence, a vast region containing
a high proportion of land of extraordinary richness. The evidence
goes to show that, narrow, perhaps, at its eastern end, that region
opens out about the 110th degree of longitude, and presents a depth,
including all westward to the Eocky Mountains, if not of ten degrees
as alleged by some, of, at all events, four decrees. The most fertile
land available in perhaps all the world for settlement, a land more
ready in its natural state than any other on earth for immediate cultivation, this future granary of Europe, enjoying an admirable system 22
of inland water-way and cheap access for some months of the year to
ocean commerce, constitutes in reference to the very necessity of
providing freights for so great an undertaking, a fact which goes far to
determine one part of the true route of the Canadian Pacific Eailway.*
The " passes" through the Eocky Mountains within British territory vary from a height of about 7,000 feet above the sea to 1,800
feet. The Yellow Head Pass, which has been made the common
point of most of the test-lines applied to the location of the Pacific
Eailway through British Colninbia, is about 3,800 feet above the
sea. North of it about two and a-half degrees is a pass not half that
height, the pass which discharges through the Rocky Mountains the
water of Peace River. On page 356 of the " Wild North Land,"
Captain Butler writes:
" The Peace River affords a passage to the Western Ocean vastly
superior to any of the known passes lying south of it. * * It is level
throughout its entire course ; it has a wide, deep and navigable river
flowing through it • its highest elevation in the main range of the Rocky
Mountains is about 1,800 feet. The average depth of its winter fall of
snow is but three feet. * * From the western end of the pass to the
coast-range of mountains, a distance of 300 miles across British
Columbia, there does not exist one single formidable impediment to a
A prima facie case presenting itself thus in support of this conclusion, the Peace Eiver Pass taken in conjunction with the extraordinary richness and adaptation to settlement of the Peace River
country, seems to determine one point on the true route for the Canadian Pacific Eailway.
Portland cannot be accepted forever as the winter outlet of Canada.
If dependence on a foreign power in that case is to be stopped at all,
the stoppage must govern the location in reference to the Atlantic
Ocean of the great arterial line of this nursling Empire. Halifax, or St.
John, or both, offering an escape from holding the trans-continental
commerce of Canada subject to the good pleasure of the United
States, the summer port of the Canadian Pacific, should be selected
in reference to these harbours as its winter ports. At or near Quebec
is the lowest point at which the St. Lawrence can be regarded
bridgeable. About 40 miles farther than Montreal, on a straight line,
from Peace Eiver Pass, h\ is now nearer by railway than Montreal to
Halifax by from 150 to 170 miles. | Saving ultimately a railway
transportation of over 90 miles to St. John, and over 330 miles to
Halifax, the true point for discharge of the Pacific Railway upon
summer-tide-water would seem, on these grounds, to be Quebec.  "
If Quebec be accepted as a fixed point in the East, and the Peace
Eiver Pass as a fixed point in the West, a question arises as to the
* The subject of industrial resource is touched on in this paper in reference
to but the immediate uses of settlement. The vast wealth of this northwestern region in minerals being remote in its application to the question in
hand, is disregarded.
+ This rests on a comparison of direct-lines—lines certain in the future if
the Pacific Railway be made to discharge upon Quebec.
V. 23
intermediate route. To follow the line now contemplated by way of
Montreal, Nipissing, Selkirk, etc., would involve an unnecessary
length of track, which would aggregate a total excess between tidewater and tide-water of probably not less than 240 miles. With
even six trains eachiway per day, the working-expenses over that
distance would cost ap million of dollars per annum. It is needless
to add to that reason, if Quebec be accepted as the summer-port,
other proof of the conclusion that the route which has been surveyed
should not have been considered until a thorough investigation had
been made of the direct route.
. The straight line between Quebec and Hudson's Hope cannot be
followed otherwise than generally. Special considerations demand
modifications in that basis of experimental examinations. What
these are can be determined but by those who are in possession of
access to official reports and maps of the country to be traversed. A
few may be suggested here, at a venture by way of illustration. The
broken country back of Quebec demands, probably, that the route be
thrown as soon as may be into the valley of the St. Maurice. Passing
out of that into the rainshed of Hudson Bay—at a maximum
elevation of, perhaps, 1,400 feet—it should be directed upon the
Abbittibi and the Moose with a view to connection without any considerable increase in length of track, with navigation by ships or
steamers.from Hudson Bay. Proceeding, tapping on its way the
Albany Eiver, the Weemisk River, the Wastickwa River, etc., it
would tap the navigation of Lake Winnipeg from the south and of,
Nelson Eiver from the north, at Jack Eiver, crossing the latter at
say where it is said to be but 200 yards wide, Norway House.
Continuing westwardly from Norway House, the deviations from
the straight line suggested by great special considerations would take
the railway to, say, Big Bend, so as to tap the navigation of the
Saskatchewan above the Grand Eapid. Proceeding into the valley
of the Eiver Lac la Rouge, it would go on to tap the Beaver River
and the Athabasca ; and tapping the Peace Eiver near the mouth of
the Smokey, might continue thence to Hudson's Hope as it entered
Peace Eiver Pass.
The line sketched out here is sketched as but a basis of. experimental work subject to modification, or, as facts may demand,
rejection. It may prove an investigation to be unsuited totally, lt
involves some assumptions which do not rest on a sufficient breadth
of information, and other assumptions that are little better as a ground
for grave decision, than conjecture. But Peace River Pass being once
accepted as a point on the route of the Canadian 1'acific, and Quebec
as its point of discharge upon summer-tide-water, the circuit by way
of Lake Nipissing, Lake Superior, and Manitoba, involves so great an
excess of length that it ought to be held inadmissible until all the
facts, physical and agricultural, shall have been first brought out in
reference to the line from Quebec by way of Norway House.
From Peace Eiver Pass to Norway House the route suggested in
the first of these articles has already been glanced at—its soil, its 24
climate, its topography. That section of the line proposed runs probably tor its whole length—between 800 and 900 miles—through the
"fertile belt." The other section—that extending from Norway
House to Quebec—will be brought now under the light of the very
few facts which have been collected as a ground for meeting the
prejudices which are ready to reject without Siquiry the suggestion
of a railway through the immediate basin of Hudson Bay.
Unknown tracts of land in Canada have always been regarded icy
" barrens." The progress of settlement has, however, corrected that
indolent opinion so often that people in the Dominion -ire now
disposed to think that there may be a fair land and a tolerable climate
within the basin of Hudson Bay. An official map published by the
Chief Engineer of the Canadian Pacific Eailway asserts that one
great tract immediately south of Hudson Bay is "a flat country;
soil, loam and clay, good quality*" and that another great tract
immediately south of that Bay is " reported to be a level country,
alluvial soil." Applying as these descriptions do to about eight
hundred miles of the line between Quebec and Norway House, they
certainly do not discourage investigation of that line when they are
contrasted with general facts of the corresponding eight hundred miles
of tlie route, by Nipissing and Superior to the border of Manitoba—a
route of formidable difficulties, heavy expenditures and limited
breadths of cultivable soils.
The climate along the route proposed north of the ridge dividing
the great lakes from Hudson Bay seems to be fully as favorable to
agriculture as that of the line south of that ridge. Eetired sufficiently
from the Bay to be beyond the chilling influence of its floating ice,
the average elevation of the northern line would probably not exceed
400 or 500 feet; while the average elevation of the southern line is
probably not less than 1,000 feet. According to Humboldt's rule the
difference in elevation would compensate for two degreess of the difference in latitude. The meteorological averages offer the following basis
of comparison between corresponding points on or near either route:—
•Moose Fort	
Fort William	
Norway House...
Cumberl'd House
Winnipeg |
Averages of Fahrenheit.
c 2 at;
Hudson Bay.
Lake Superior.
Wheat olim'te.
* These averages for Moose Port have been supplied by the kinelnegs'of Professor King-
ston, of Toronto University. -    ■"**■"■"* 25
Moose Fort is situated on Hudson Bay. Influenced by floating
ice during part of the summer, its climate is, it may be inferred, not
so favorable to agriculture as that of the route proposed here.M the
Pacific Eailway. Its heat-averages compare well with those of Fort
William on Lake Superior, showing, it is true, a later spring, but a
summer somewhat warmer and a ripening season warmer considerably.
In comparison with the fine wheat-growing climate of Winnipeg, the
climate of Moose Fort shows a shorter spring * but enjoys, probably,
a longer autumn * and receiving the same amount of heat during the
period of ripening, receives during summer a heat somewhat greater.
This digest of the foregoing table may serve, in general, to open the
mind of prejudice to the inquiry whether, after all the obstinacy of
foregone impressions, the climate on the southern shore of James Bay
may not be as well suited as that of Winnipeg or Fort William to
the uses of agriculture.
Theoretical considerations having cleared the way, now for some
facts as to farming at Moose Fort. Here we come on conflicting testi-
mony, the witnesses interested in the Hudson Bay Company carrying
out the policy in which they all, not excepting Sir George Simpson,
attempted to mislead the Parliamentary Committee of 1857. Sir
George said before the Committee (answer 748) that at Moose Fort,
"barley seldom ripens; potatoes smaU; the crops being {Unproductive." . Dr. Eae, another Hudson Bay Company's officer seated
(answer 376) barley would not ripen ; you could not depend upon it
at Moose Fort. Potatoes there are, he said, variable ; sometime five
, or six fold ; sometimes scarcely the seed. On the other hand Mr.
Gladman who had lived at Moose Fort for several years, says (page
392 of Eeport of Parliamentary Committee of 1857) :
"Climate and soil good; raised potatoes and other vegetables there
in great abundance; barley.ripened well; small fruits, as currants,
gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries, plentiful; grow wild; never
knew wheat tried, the season being too short; horned cattle, -horses,
sheep and pigs kept there, all housed in winter."
This testimony of Mr. Gladman had been given in substance long
previously by others. Eobson said a century before, in his " Six
Year's Besidence in Hudson's Bay," that fall wheat sown at Moose
Factory stood the winter frosts and grew very well in the following
summer. To the Parliamentary Committtee one hundred and eight
years previously to Sir George Simpson's evidence, Dr. Thompson
stated that he had seen better barley and oats grown at Moose Eiver
than he had ever seen in the Orkneys, though the seed required to be
renewed. Hobbs, in his book on Hudson Bay (London, 1744), states
that Mr. Frost who had resided for many years at Moose Fort, affirmed
that he had grown there with success, barley, peas and beans.
In his report of 1875-76 to the Geological Office of the Canadian
Government, Mr. Bell says (page 339) :
" At Moose Factory, although the soil is a cold, wet, clay, with a level
undrained surface, farm and garden produce in considerable variety 26
are raised every year. Among the crops harvested in 1874, were 1,700
bushels of good potatoes. Oats, barley, beans, peas, turnips, beets,
carrots, cabbages, onions, tomatoes, etc., are grown without any more
care than is required in other parts of Canada : and I was informed
that some wheat which had got accidentally sown one year, was found
to ripen. * * Upwards of 80 head of cattle are kept at Moose Fort,
besides horses, sheep and pigs."
Moose Fort is clearly within the limits of agriculture. Situated
on a shallow estuary in which the ice lingers longer than in the more
open parts of Hudson Bay, its position is to that extent unfavorable.
A dozen witnesses concur in stating that even twenty-five or thirty
miles inland from any part of the southern shore of Hudson Bay
the climate is much warmer. On the faith of this general testimony
it may be concluded with safety that Moose Fort enjoying a climate
in which gardening and farming are practicable, the interior of
the Hudson Bay country south of Moose Fort enjoys a climate
much more favorable for gardening and farming. But the special
facts corroborating this conclusion are few and far between. In order
to present them with direct pertinence to the question under consideration, they will be now stated as far as they have been collected
in relation to the proposed route of tho Pacific Railway between
Quebec and Norway House. Dividing the route out of Quebec into
sections of one hundred miles, the facts about to be cited may be
grouped as follows:
Section I.—The practicability of agriculture on the proposed route
may be illustrated by a case a hundred miles north-east of the end of
this section—that of Lake St. John. The Toronto Mail (newspaper)
said a few months ago of that region :
" The agricultural progress of the Lake St. John district of Quebec
is reported to be exceedingly rapid. Statistics are printed by Quebec
journals showing that during the past ten years the population of the
locality has increased 67 per cent., the acres of cultivated lands 116 per
cent., bushels of wheat raised 1,147 per cent., butter 140 per cent., and
live stock 139 per cent."
Section 2.—This part of the proposed route lies through the valley
of the St. Maurice. In the Geological report made for 1870-71 to the
Canadian Government, Mr. Richardson says (p. 300): "FoUowing the
St. Maurice upward * -1* the river for considerable distances winds
through extensive flats of sandy loam * * Borne of these produce
an abundance of wild grass which would support many hundred head
of cattle."
Section 3.—This includes the | height of land" which divides the
rain basin of the St. Lawrence from that of Hudson Bay. Mr.
Eichardson says, in continuation of the last recited words of his report
(page 302): " Lake Chibogomon * * towards the north-east end
and along nearly the whole at the south-east side sandy loam prevails,
and where the openings in the woods are met with a good wild grass
is found. * * Lake Wakanitchie * * the remainder is dotted
with green woods ; the trees are of good size and of the usual kind 27
spruce, white birch, tamarack and some Balsam-fir. What influence
the climate may have on vegetation I am unable to determine ; and
the only fact I can offer bearing on this, is that Mr. Burgess of the
Hudson Bay Company's post on the lake furnished me on the 7th of
August with fair-sized new potatoes, the only crop at present cultivated there."
Section 4.—This section lies within the basin of Hudson Bay, down
the valley of the Harricanaw. On or near the summit between
Hudson Bay and the St. Lawrence, Mr. McOuat of the Geological
Service reports (page 119 of report for 1872-73) to the Canadian
Government that he found several pine trees which measured in circumference eight or nine feet. He adds that several acres of land are
cultivated at the Hudson Bay Company's post on Lake Abbittibe—
about 150 miles from this section of the proposed route—and the
lake being surrounded by clay flats, a French Canadian who has
resided at the post for many years, asserts that although the only crop
grown there now is potatoes, all the cereals can be cultivated on Lake
Abbittibbe just as well as on the St. Lawrence.
Section 5.—No fact has been come on which bears on this section
otherwise than remotely.
Section 6.—The review of things at Moose Fort applies to this
section. Mattagami Lake and Missinibi Lake lie south of this part
ofthe route about 150 miles, on the slopes ofthe basin of Hudson
Bay. Mr. BeU says of these in the Geological Eeport for 1875-76
(page 341): " Farming and gardening have been successfully carried
on by officers of the Hudson Bay Company at their posts on Lake
Mattagami and Missinibi ; at the latter, Mr. John Mclntyre, now of
Fort William, has informed me that he found spring wheat to ripen
well." Of New Brunswick House, a Hudson Bay Company's post
100 miles south of this section, Mr. Gladman, in his statement on
page 390 of the Eeport of the Parliamentary Committee of 1857,
says : " The soil very good ; raised excellent potatoes and every
description of vegetables; oats ripened very well; had barley also.
Has since heard wheat has been tried with success. Horned cattle
kept there, housed during winter. Know nothing to prevent a good
settlement there."
Section 7.—Henly House is an old Hudson Bay Company's post
which was situated not far from the route of this section. To the
Parliamentary Committee of 1749 Mr. Hayter said : " The climate is
much warmer at Henly House than at Albany" (on the shore of
Hudson Bay). " * * The country about Henly House is very high,
but much warmer than the coast. * * He has seen large tracts of
land that would, in his opinion, bear corn if cultivated, the climate
being much warmer within land."
Section 8.—Long Lake is about 100 miles south of the proposed
route but within the slopes of the basin of Hudson Bay—over 1,000
feet above sea-level.    Mr. Bell says on page 351 of the Geological if
Eeport for 1870-71 : "Oats and barley have been successfully cultivated at Long Lake House, while hay, potatoes and all the ordinary
vegetables thrive remarkably well." Martin's Falls, on the^ Eiver
Albany, is on this section. Of the Hudson Bay Company's post
situated at that place Mr. Bell says, in the Geological Eeport
(Canadian Sessional Papers of 1872): "Hay, turnips and potatoes
have been successively cultivated for a long time at this post, and the
■jattle'kept there thrive weU."';
Sections p, io, n.—No  testimony as to the adaptability of the
country along these sections for cultivation has been obtained.
Sections f 2.—Oxford House is a post of the Hudson Bay Company,
situated on Hill Eiver about a hundred miles north of this section.
Lieut. Chappell says in his " Voyage to Hudson Bay," that at Oxford
House excellent vegetables are produced, owing to the richness of the.
soil and the geniality of the climate.    Mr. Gladman states (page 392
of Eeport of the  Parliamentary Committee of 1857), that he experienced  no  difficulty in  raising at   Oxford  House  vegetables and  '
potatoes to spare for York Factory and the Indians.    Hill Eiver flows
to the north of this Section 12.    Of that stream Simpson's diary,
McLeod's addendum, (" Peace Eiver") says : " Arrived at the Rock at
half-past three in the afternoon.    Had a peep at the Rock, an old
establishment, and its gardens."    Ballantyne says of Hill Eiver, on
page 190 of his book : " The banks of the river were covered from
top to bottom with the most luxuriant foliage, while dark clumps of
spruce and fir varied and improved the landscajje    *    *    numbers
of little islets covered to the very edge of the rippling waters with
luxuriant vegetation    *    *    beautiful banks covered with foliage of
every shade, from the dark   and  sombre pine to the light drooping
Section 13.—This includes Jack's Lake and Norway House." The
water-way from Lake Winnipeg to York Factory through Nelson
Eiver and 11 ayes Eiver crosses this section. Bt>bson says in his
" Six Years' Eesidence in Hudson Bay," (page 43) : " Upon Hayes
Eiver, 15 miles from the Fort (York) * * after paling in some
ground" (four degrees of latitude north of this section) " for a coney-
warren and for oxen, sheep and goats, etc., I should expect by no
more labor than would be proper for my health, to procure a desirable
livelihood, not at all doubting of my being able to raise peas and
beans, barley, and probably other kinds of grain." Of Fort York
itself—on Hudson hay, 300 miles east of north from Norway House
—he says (page 43) : " The soil about York Fort, which is in 57° 10',
is much better than at Churchill Eiver. Most kinds of garden-stuff
grow here to perfection, particularly peas and beans. * * Gooseberries .and red and black currants are found in the woods, growing
upon such bushes as in England."
The route suggested here has been presented, so far, in facts of
specification.    The limits proper to this article make that mode of 20
treatment in every instance, impossible. Passing, therefore, into
general assertion based on study of the subject, it may be stated that
for a thousand miles east of Norway House, the line under consideration traverses a country covered from end to end with a forest-
growth containing boundless supplies of timber. Though chequered
with areas of naked rock and with numerous tracts of swamp, most
of them of the class which disappears in the ordinary progress of
settlement, it offers to agriculture in a climate admitting the growth
of wheat and favorable to the growth of almost all other products of
the field and garden, vast extents of good soil.
Topographically the route suggested here compared with that which
has been surveyed, is decidedly preferable. While the thousand
miles immediately east of Lake Manitoba on the latter involve heavy
works and unfavorable lines, the corresponding thousand—from
Norway House eastward—involve, in all likelihood, good lines and
light works.
The proposed route from Quebec to Peace Eiver Pass crosses many
great water-courses. All of these are navigable, whether by the
canoe, the keel-boat, or the steamboat; and supply thus a system of
branch-lines discharging with their facilities of transportation along
what are the usual, if not the very best, " fronts" of settlement.*
Mr. Bell, in his Geological Eeport of 1872, says of the Biver Albany
which flows into James Bay : " I ascertained that the river between
this point" (Martin's Falls) '* and James Bay is open, on an average,
six months of the year." This is good for the conclusion that the
Rupert, the Notaway, the Harricanaw the Abbitibbee, the two
branches of the Moose, the Albany itself, and the smaller rivers
flowing into James Bay, are open to navigation for a period but
twenty-six days less than the period of navigation of Lake Superior
as limited by the canal at Sault St. Marie. Taking the Nelson River
as the guage of the period of navigation in the case of the water-ways
west of James Bay, they—the Weemisk, the Deer, the Severn, the
Hays, etc.—may be set down as closed by ice for fully seven months
of the year at their mouths ; but, ou their upper sections, free from
ice, hke Nelson River itself, for six months.
The route proposed here would connect by ship, or steamboat,
navigation on, say Moose River, with that unknown sea, Hudson
Bay. Robson pointed out a hundred years ago the importance of
directing the efforts of British statesmanship to the utilization of that
North American " White Sea." On pages 81-82 of his " Six Years'
Residence," he says:
" The countries surrounding Hudson Bay and Straits, have a sea-coast
* That certainly very great advantage is not without a serious drawback in
the case of the rivers west of Norway House. Those flow at great depths
below the general level of the country—Peace River at Dunvegan, being, for
instance, 900 feet below the plains it traverses—and, therefore, constitute at
their crossings by the railway, serious drawbacks in length of track, if not in
also bad lines and heavy works. 30
of 2.000 miles extent * * great part of which is in the same latitude
as Great Britain. Upon the sea-coast are many broad and deep rivers
the sources of which are several hundred miles distance, south, southeast and south-west of the Bay. * * the soil is fertile, and the
climate temperate for the produce of all kinds of grain, and for raising
stocks of tame cattle; and the coasts abound with black and white
whales, seals, sea-horses, and various kinds of small fish."
In the dedication of his book to Le>rd Halifax, he adds :
" The opening a new channel for trade to a vast country abounding
with inhabitants" (Indians) " and with many beneficial articles of commerce, is a work that highly merits the attention of our wisest and
greatest statesmen. * * * Whales and various other fish are so
plentiful in the Bay and in the inlets leading from thence to the Western
Ocean, that the natives, etc. * * The land abounds with mines and
minerals, and is also capable of great improvement by cultivation, and
the climate within the country is very habitable."
Hudson Bay Company's schooners carry on intercourse between
the several posts on the shore of the Bay. That great inlanel sea is
navigable by ships, it may be stated with safety, five months of the
vear. Two or three of the Company's vessels have maintained communication between Scotland and Moose Fort and York Factory for two
centuries ; but, whether or not because of the jealous exclusiveness of
that monopoly, this fact does not apply in any year beyond limits of
six weeks. Robson attemps to show that the Bay may be entered
.from the Atlantic earlier than the usual date of entrance by the Company's ships. But a more zealous, laborious, and able man followed
in the footsteps of Robson when the Statistical Society's Journal
received its admirable paper of March, 1868, on " The Commercial
Progress and Resources of British America," from the pen of Professor
Hind.    In that article its author says :
" The passage from Norway House at the northern extremity of Lake
Winnipeg to Hudson Bay is made in nine days, with loaded boats. It
is not unreasonable to suppose that by the introduction of tramways
over the portages the journey may be made in four days, thus bringing
Lake Winnipeg within four days of the sea. * * It is not at all
improbable that more easy means of communication with the sea board
exists than those which are now pursued. * * It is more than
probable that whenever the necessity arises, the communication
between Lake Winnipeg 'and Hudson Bay, and thence to the Atlantic
by aid of steamers, will be made easy and speedy for at least three
months of the year. * * • The outlet by which the waters of the
Saskatchewan and Lake Winnipeg reach the sea is Nelson River. * *
The head of tide-water in Nelson River* may yet become the seat of
the Archangel of Central British America, and the great and ancient
Russian Northern port—at one time the sole outlet of that vast empire
—find its parallell in Hudson Bay."
* The French Admiral Perouse entered the Nelson with three vessels of
war, one of them a line-of-battle ship. Ellis in his story of a voyage to
Hudson Bay says the estuary of the Nelson is six miles across and has a channel
of a mile wide which varies in depth from five to twenty fathoms (see
Professor Hind's evidence). 31
Professor Hind has supplied a mass of highly valuable facts and
suggestions as to Hudson Bay in his replies to a Committee of the
Canadian Parliament. In volume xii. of the Journals of 1878 his
answers on that subject are full, laborious, and highly interesting.
Going to establish the conclusion that navigation may be maintained
through Hudson's Straits iorfour months of the year, he dwells on
the practicability of erecting at York Factory, or as it is called Port
Nelson, a British American city of Archangel.    He says :
| With the exception of that portion which finds its way into Hayes'
River, the Nelson throws into the sea the combined drainage of the
North and South Saskatchewan, and of the vast extent of country
draining into Lake Winnipeg. In fact the Nelson River receives the
waters of an area as large as France and England combined ; it is the
outlet of the basin of Lake Winnipeg, and must be regarded as a river
of the first-class— * * . Then, again, the distance of Port Nelson"
(York Factory) " from Liverpool is nearly one hundred miles less than
Liverpool is from New York, the relative distances measured on the
globe being 2,960 miles and 2,020 miles. If two of the Dundee sealing
steamers, similarly found, were to start at the same hour in the month
of September, one from Port Nelson, the other from New York, the
probability is they would arrive on the same day in Liverpool."
Large as would be the yield of wheat in the country around the
River Peace, it would not leave a very high reward to the producer
after the cost of shipment to Quebec. Economy might, perhaps,
find an outlet for the breadstuffs of the lower reaches of the Peace
by way of the Mackenzie Eiver and the Northern Ocean.. On the
upper reaches, it would, with Quebec as the alternative, take, as the
wheat of California does on the way to England, the railway to the
Pacific Ocean. The line of division between the grain going west
and the grain coming east would, however, run west of the Eocky
Mountains if the former were offered the economy of Liverpool ships
at Port Nelson.*
The freight-rates (Answer 5001 to the Parliamentary Committee
of 1857) between Port Nelson and London were set by the Hudson
Bay authorities in England at £2 sterling per ton. That was thirty
years ago ; and is doubtless considerably in excess of the rate at
which the carrying-trade from Hudson Bay could be maintained
to-day ; certainly so when freights had offered in the vast volume
and under the sharp competition of Professor Hind's British American
city of Archangel. Six dollars per ton being as much as would be
likely under the circumstances, productions could be delivered from
the Far-West as cheaply, or nearly so, by way of Port Nelson (Hudson Bay), in London, as by way of Fort William (Lake Superior);
in Montreal or Quebec. The intermediate route comparing as 1,030
miles of railway to Norway House plus 420 miles of river from
Norway House to Port Nelson, Avith 1,590 miles of railway to Fort
* This goes to an increase of the receipts of the railway by giving it hold of
its way-business for longer distances. 32
WiUiam plus several days' transportation by the lakes to tide-water,
the shipment of grain to Europe by Hudson Bay would represent a
saving on that to Europe by the St. Lawrence, of from 15 cents to
25 cents per bushel.
Fort William enjoys communication with tide-water for six months
and two-thirds. Port Nelson at Professor Hinds' estimate, would
enjoy intercourse with the Ocean for but four months. For two and
two-thirds months the above economy of the line by Norway House
would cease to apply. But the benefits of the outlet by Fort
William would remain during the navigation of Lake Winnipeg—
nearly the whole of that period. That alternative would involve, it
is true, two " breaks of bulk ;" but it would compensate for these by
the economy of substituting for 150 mile's of additional transportation
by rail, a cheaper though longer stretch of transportation —by Lake
Winnipeg. And. for the winter—say five and one-half months—the
all-rail route by Norway House compared with the all-rail route by
Fort William, would give an outlet from the Far-West to Halifax
240 miles shorter.
All this proceeds on the supposition that Peace Eiver Pass can be
connected hy railway with the Pacific. The division from Quebec to
Norway House having been touched on above, and that too from
Norway House to Hudson's Hope, at the mouth of the Pass, what
now of the division from Hudson's Hope westward %
A foregone conclusion has dealt with the question of the discharge-
point of the Pacific Eailway on the western coast, under test-lines
radiating from Yellow Head Pass. The results having been favorable,
necessarily, to the ports situated best in reference to that Pass, they
supply no just basis of comparison in reference to other passes. The
adoption of Peace Eiver Pass involves, unless under the pressure of
over-ruling considerations of topography, the rejection of Bute Inlet
and all the harbors farther south. In this it disposes ofthe highly
objectionable, if not absolutely inadmissable.f expedient of a ferry to
a harbor on the west coast of Vancouver, and the equally objection-'
able alternative of carrying the Pacific commerce of Canada under the
guns of San Juan. It disregards the local interests of ten or fifteen
thousand people : and, proceeding on Imperial and National interests,
addresses itseK exclusively to the selection of a mainland port from
those that offer free intercourse with the ocean.
This review will touch on the question of the Pacific-port in
relation to but the railway approaches. It may state, however, that
objections can be raised by mariners to any port. As some of those
urged against the northerly harbors of British Columbia seem of no
great importance practically, it may be well to say that to guard against
* Inadmissable so far as it may be held a wanton exposure of the traffic to
hostile disturbance by ships on the line of ferriage, and so far as it increases
the cost of transportation between the two oceans by a wanton and Very considerable increase of the length of railway. 33
discriminations not based on the working of things, all that-is actually
essential in a harbor is room, depth and land-margin. With a million
of bushels of wheat deposited on a bank having at its base twenty
feet of water enjoying free approach from the open sea, all technical
objections are worth little consideration except so far as they may be
made mtelligible to " land-lubbers" in terms of the cost of towage and
The water-shed of the Peace seems to be divided from the watershed of the Skeena by a long, narrow, handle of the basin of the
Fraser—a handle which is interjected between the two for 120 miles,
at a width averaging 20 or 25 miles. That projection is a part of the
lake-dotted plateau of British Columbia; and being almost certainly
lower by, say, 1,000 feet, than Yellow Head Pass, gives some promise
of a practicable crossing from Peace River Valley into the longest
slope and by the shortest line which offer in that quarter for descent
to the Pacific—down the Skeena. But this turning out to be
impracticable, the general body of the plateau-—south of Lake Babine
—remains open for trial with a view to an outlet on Gardner Channel
or on Dean Inlet.
Imperial considerations concurring with those which call for the
route from Quebec by Hudson Bay and Peace River Pass, demand
that the extension of the Railway be made through British Columbia
to a northern port. As nothing should remain undone to maintain
that harmony of the project, the region between Peace Eiver Pass,
or Pine River Pass, and the Pacific Ocean, cannot be allowed to
continue as it is declared on the map to be, " unexplored." But
isolated explorations will hardly meet the necessities of the case.
The Indian, the miner, the buffalo, do not supply " trails" in exhaustion of all the resources of engineering. Whether the true route
from the forks of the Peace shall turn out to be into the Skeena,
into the Dean, into the BeUa Coola, or into even Portland Channel,
the final decision cannot be arrived at satisfactorily, especially in a
region remarkable for not only rents completely through its mountains
but for, also, deep clefts in their sides, until surveys shall have been
made with a view to the discovery of, besides the existence of
" passes'" the existence of such conjunctures of clefts as may offer a
solution of the problem by tunneling.
No opinion can be given here as to the best route from Peace River
Pass, or its alternative, Pine River Pass, to the Pacific. If the
physics of the intermediate country offer no serious reason to the
contrary, the route most desirable with a view to a harbor, is, probably, that down the Skeena—with the contingency of extension to
Port Simpson. As the much-spoken-of commerce of the east does
not supply a very safe expectation to count on for freights where it
supposes transportation over 2,500 miles of railway, it may be well
to say that not the least advantage of placing the terminus of the
Canadian Pacific at a northern port, is the resulting settlement of
o r
Queen Charlotte's Islands. Forty miles at one end and a hundred
miles at the other end from the mainland, they stand in front of the
shores of British Columbia from Nepean Sound to Alaska, an
advanced base for naval operations in the Northern Pacific. About
one-fourth of the area of Vancouver's Island, they offer a valuable
source of traffic for the Pacific RaUway and a citadel of British power
beyond the shadow of the power of the United States. They contain
abundant supplies of coal on the very edge of tide-water. Then-
resources in the metals are extensive and rich. Mr. Poole, an
engineer sent from England to superintend mining operations there,
says in his book, " Queen Charlotte's Islands" (pages 300 and -304) :
" The temperature during my two winters was never lower than 8°
below the freezing point, and during my two summers never higher
than SO9 in the shade. * * Snow fell rarely and always in small
quantities, soon disappearing.    *    *
"Vancouver Island has plenty of good arable land ; but I saw nothing
there, either in quality or quantity, to equal what is to be seen on every
side along the shores of Queen Charlotte's Islands. The soil fit for
farming purposes is not only extensive beyond all present calculation,
but is rich beyond description."
This paper does not speak as a partisan of its own ideas. It contents itself with submitting evidence in the way of memoranda
designed simply to set men thinking on the subject. It omits, therefore, to sum up the reasons on which it has suggested that the
surveyed route of the Canadian Pacific by Lakes Huron, Superior
and Winnipeg ought not to be adopted until surveys shall have first
decided against the route from Quebec by Norway House and Peace
River Pass.*
The mode of construction and the mode of exploration adopted in
the case of the Canadian Pacific Eailway seem to be unsuited to the
circumstances of the case. Some remarks on both of these subjects
may now be offered for what they are worth, beginning with the
The cost of provisions in the preliminary service of the Pacific
Eailway has been extraordinarily high by reason of the cost of
transportation. The conveyance of very considerable quantities of
food for men and horses for great distances over a roadless wilderness
ought to be made unnecessary in a land teeming with agricultural
richness.    That economy should certainly be effected immediately, if
* Physical difficulties being found to involve a great excess in length of
track to the Ocean by w&y of Peace River Pass, that excess may perhaps be
reduced with working economy by passing the Rockies, as Mr. Marcus; Smith
proposes, by way of Pine River Pass. But every summit, be it recollected,
has its equivalent in distance. Mr. Fleming's objection to Pine River does not
seem good in fact or in principle. In the first place, when assuming that a
summit as high'as Yellow Head must be crossed beyond Pine River Pass, there
is reason to suppose him mistaken. In the next place, the level of Yellow
Head not being maintainable across the plateau leading to the Pacific slopes
—en route to a northern port—the avoidance of that pass in favor of the lower
one, that of Pine River, would, it is submitted, be still a mechanical saving. 35
but to anticipate the great demand for food incident to the work of
construction. But the correction of that mistake is not only an
expediency of the construction of the railway; for it is also a necessity of the settlement of the country. Ordinary settlers on the route
must receive their supplies from local production, and at rates possible
to but production on the spot. *A thousand dollars would plant and
feed for twelve months four settlers, in buildings common to the four,
at, say, every tenth mile of the railway track; and thus would an
advance of $200,000. to be paid back in provisions, place 800 men
at the production of agricultural surpluses at 200 different points along
the line. These initiatives being established promptly, they would
receive additions spontaneously; ami. would expand steadily to a
breadth of production which, in two or three years, would be ample
for the uses of both the railway " hands" and the " colonizers."
Generally flat, the country from the dividing ridge north of the
St. Maurice to Pine Eiver Pass will admit, probably, of a special
mode of railway-construction. Placing the road-bed on an embankment is practicable for very likely three fourths of that interval; and
the embankment made sufficiently high, will not only save trouble
from snow, but also add in the line of " borrowed" earth at its edges,
an outfall for drainage highly valuable to the first settlers, within at
all events the basin of Hudson Bay. $2,500 or $3,000 a mile would
be expended under this system on work that may be executed by
manual labor. The cost of clearing, grubbing, cross-tieing, etc., etc.,
added to this, each mile would represent a wage-fund of, say, $4,000,
and would therefore pay eight men for two years at the rate of $250
a year. The pioneer-settlers paying for Government advances in provisions, these eight men could sustain eight others working under a
system of partnership-settlement, the latter preparing land on joint
account for cultivation ; and the former sustaining them while doing
so from their railway-earnings, f At the end of two years the sixteen
starting with a supply of provisions for the third year, could go on
with the work of farming, a railway at their doors being ready by'
that time to bring their surpluses to market. By only some such
proceeding can the real difficulty of this British Pacific Eailway be
* Every able-bodied laborer settled on the line of the Pacific Railway, ought
to be worth to the owner of that long hne of railway transportation, at least
fifty dollars a year as a producer of freights. An annual surplus of 300 bushels
of grain might be produced by one man on the rich soils of Peace River; the
shipment of that product alone to Quebec would contribute to the revenue of
the railway three times that sum.
t All this proceeds on the supposition that the work shall be carried out,
not by contractors, but by salaried officers. There is nothing novel in that,
however • for works under the Act of 1844 or 45 for the drainage and navigation of rivers in Ireland, were executed in all parts of that country by gangs
of laborers serving as contractors under the direct supervision of engineers,
overseers and gangers, who acted under the Board of Works—executed
economically for the Crown, and with profit and satisfaction to the tens of
thousands of laborers thus employed. r
metj the difficulty of setting a limit to its cost by providing it as it
goes on to completion, with traffic for its self-support.
The Canadian Pacific Eailway should not cost at first a doUar more
than necessary to make it passable by trains. Interest kept down
thus, the opening should take place as soon as possible so as to begin
fhe process of developing business. Running through a country
perfectly new, it will not require at the outset the class of works
proper to great traffic. The bridge-piers are, in truth, the only constructions that demand permanence. Its road-bed high, well-drained
and well cross-tied, it can dispense as long as necessary with ballast,
fences, cattle-guards, road-crossings. Except at such places as the
intersection of rivers, station-buildings will not be necessary. A
colonization road whose object at first is that of simply opening up
the country for settlement, it may resort freely to undulating grades,
sharp curves, wooden bridges, and almost unbroken stretches of single-
track\-embankment. Bock-work, deep cuts, high embankments, etc.,
being all avoided by, where unavoidable otherwise, substitutions of one
sort or another, the road and rolling-stock ought not to cost for the
purpose of opening for traffic between Quebec and Peace River Pass,
more than $15,000 or $16,000 per mile. Any subsequent addition
of ballast, subtitution of trestling by filling, replacement of
undulating gradients by heavy work, etc., etc., may be made in
employment of idle rolling-stock—-made by degress at the charge of
revenue and in the continued production of revenue, by a system of
labor associated with the encouragement of settlement.
The political policy which England has placed on trial in the
creation of the Dominion of Canada involves a great British interest.
In the fore-front of that policy lies the Canadian Pacific Eailway.
Based on Halifax, its summer-outlet at the fortress of Quebec—on
the defensible waters of the St. Lawrence—and opening up communication from the rear with Europe by way of Hudson Bay, and
perhaps by way of Mackenzie Eiver, it suppHes a line of transportation
three hundred miles north of the frontier, for maintaining the defense
of British interests on the great lakes and on the Northern Pacific.
Giving to English commerce and enterprise the vast wealth of land
and water within th^ basin of a great inland sea; grasping the
fisheries of the Northern Ocean for a hardy population south of them ;
opening, probably, a direct route by way of that ocean between
England and the boundless wheat-region drained by the Mackenzie ;
and planting British power in a position on the shores of the Pacific
from which it can overshadow rivalry in the surrounding waters, the
Canadian Pacific Eailway stands in relation to Imperial policy in the
creation of this Dominion, as an essential base of its development,
the very spinal column of another North American Empire! The
route suggested above places that great enterprise fairly within the
objects of British statesmanship; and raising it out of the Colonial
into the Imperial, makes it a legitimate subject for Imperial support.
k 87
The country east of Norway House is not suited-to settlement by
Europeans. Their inexperience in woodcraft, their awkwardness in
the use of even the axe, their want of adaptation to the work of
ploughing, planting, or harvesting between the stumps ariid tangled
roots of a " clearing" in a dense forest, make it inexpedient to trust the
work of civilising the wild lands of Hudson Bay to emigrants from
an old country. The civilisation of that region must rest with the
forest-bred Canadian. His experience in settlement under these*
condij^pns, his familiarity with the production of timber, and the
" raffcjjig" of it to the sea—to be worked up in the present case at
the mouth of the Moose, of the Albany, etc., into ships—will enable
him to cut out his homestead in the woods of Hudson Bay with
West of Norway House the land is suited exceptionally well to
settlement by men fresh from Europe. If not actually up to the door
of that House, certainly four or five days' march beyond it the
soil is extraordinarily fertile. The rivers being several hundred feet
below the general surface, that surface is well drained. Boiling
gently it throws off its rainfall into those deep outflows, and presents,
therefore, very few cases of swamp. Its forests alternating with
prairies, it supplies abundance of wood for building, fencing, firing ;
and offers, in conjunction with that necessity of settlement, adjoining
tracts of treeless soils ready this moment for the plough. A country
so rich, so admirably suited to English emigration, is not available
elsewhere on the globe. That it is perfectly accessible to that emigration by way of Hudson Bay has been fully established by the fact
that in 1846, Port Nelson (Fort York), on the river discharging into
Hudson Bay from Norway House, was reached in a ship from Cork
by Col. Crofton on his way to Bed Eiver, with heavy guns, heavy
stores, a battalion of infantry, a detachment of Eoyal Engineers, a
detachment of artillery—in all 383 persons, including 36 women and
children. Transportation to Australia being costly, and wild lands
in the United States being now obtainable at but vast distances from
the seaboard, English interests, Irish interests, Scotch interests, have
reason at a time when commercial stagnation makes the population of
the three kingdoms dangerously redundant, to regard the opening of
the rich wheat-territory extending from Norway House to Peace Eiver
Pass, a result worth realization at the cost of their common taxes.
The Canadian authorities assuming the construction of the Pacific
Eailway from Quebec to the point at which the special interests of
England, Ireland and Scotland begin—Norway House—the British
< Government is certainly interested sufficiently in the enterprise to
carry it out to the Pacific in consideration of, say, fifty millions of
acres of the fertile lands lying along the route ready to reward millions
of British workers twelve months after their arrival, with the bread
of independence. 38
The proposition to enlist the Imperial authorities in the Pacific
Railway demands special work to give it practical shape. This deads
to the second head of these closing remarks, that as to the mode of
The general considerations which suggest the  route  by  Norway
House bring in  question  the  antecedent proceedings.    That  four
millions of dollars—nearly $2,000 per mile of  railway—have been
•expended on surveys which have steadily ignored  what  seems  on
prima facie evidence to be the true line until the contrary shall have
been established, is a fact so grave as to set men thinking radically.
But, is the mode of  exploration pursued the best—the most economical,  the  broadest 1     Colonel   Dennis,   the   Canadian   Surveyor-
General, may be supposed to have answered that  question  in his
adoption of the survey-system under which the Government of the
United States makes the work of  exploration subserve the uses of
settlement.    It is proposed here that that system shall be extended
to the region traversed by the route suggested above for the Pacific
Eailway, so that the monies spent on the latter service in future shall
accomplish a permanent result by establishing in the field, in  the
note-book, and on the map, a fixed guide for the sale and the settlement of the Crown Lands.    If the four millions of dollars expended
up to this time on Pacific Eailway surveys where facts may—in all
likelihood will—prove these expenditures to be mere waste of money,
had been expended on section-line surveys after the American system*
adopted by Colonel Dennis in Manitoba. Canada would be in possession to-day of an immense breadth of accurate knowledge of the topographical and agricultural facts of her great North-West.      And
these surveys embodied in such a map as the Surveyor-General's map
of Manitoba, the determination of  the best route  for  the   Pacific
Eailway could be made by running across the continent five or six
thousand miles of experimental lines at a cost not exceeding a hundred
and fifty thousand dollars.
It is proposed here that "explorations," whether topographical or
botanical, on special routes for the Canada Pacific, shall be stopped.
Instrumentation, whether on trial or on location, involves when made
in advance of general.knowledge of the country, a still more costly
waste. " Section"-line-surveys—at intervals of a mile apart—are
hardly necessary for guiding the determination of the proper route of
the Pacific Eailway ; for " Township"-line-surveys—at intervals of
six miles apart—^will probably be found sufficient. It is suggested,
therefore, that these latter be run out, " blazed," noted, and mapped,
along the proposed route from Quebec by way of   Norway House and
* The system carried out by Col. Dennis seems to differ from the American
system in elaboration ; and therefore in cost. If the impression be correct
that the work done by the United States involves but one-half the expense of
that done by the Dominion, the enquiry arises whether there is any practical
result accomplished by superior accuracy in the latter case, when the former
is found to answer all useful purposes, whether of exploration or of settlement. 39
Peace Eiver Pass, to the Pacific. The breadth of the survey at the
eastern end may be narrow, the east and west lines, or | base"-lines,
being " offsetted" on meridians wherever necessary to conform to the
general direction of the proposed route. Beyond the Eocky Mountains these surveys—in the region marked on the map as 1 unexplored"—would take a wide range, so as to embrace the lacustrine
plateau between the Eockies and the Cascades for, say, three degrees
of latitude. The " Township" Hnes having supplied the facts, agricultural and physical, somewhat generally, it might be found necessary subsequently, to fill the intervals at some places with | section"-
lines so as to obtain these facts in specification. But, be the detail
in which the work may be carried out whatever experience shall
demand, every dollar spent on it would be spent on a result of permanence, on a very necessity which must be met sooner or later, as a
basis of agricultural settlement.
About 400 miles of the belt proposed above for settlement-survey
lie within Quebec. The cost of that part of the whole would be
chargeable in fairness to the Crown Lands Department of the Government of that Province. Ontario would, doubtless, meet the obligation
of paying for the survey of her lands lying within the proposed belt,
for a length of about 300 miles. The 600 miles remaining east of
Norway House applying to lands of the Dominion, would constitute
a legitimate charge upon the Dominion. If the Imperial Government
accept the fact of its deep interest in this great British Eailway, it
will not hesitate to make the proposed surveys from Norway House
to the Pacific, itself. A company of the Eoyal Engineers set at that
work, its completion would place before the English people the offer
of fifty millions of acres in a preciseness of knowledge as to the
character of the land and as to the construction of the railway—in
substitution for mere general statements as to the soil and to the
topography—which is absolutely necessary to supply satisfactory
grounds of consideration for an acceptance involving so


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