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Sandford Fleming, empire builder Burpee, Lawrence J. (Lawrence Johnstone), 1873-1946 1915

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       SANDFORD FLEMING
EMPIRE  BUILDER
BY
LAWRENCE J. BURPEE
HUMPHREY MILFORD
OXFORD   UNIVERSITY   PRESS
LONDON   EDINBURGH   GLASGOW
NEW YORK   TORONTO    MELBOURNE    BOMBAY
1915
  ^
PREFACE
Some years ago, at the conclusion of a game of chess, Sir
Sandford Fleming told me that he had been repeatedly urged
to prepare for publication his reminiscences of sixty odd
years in Canada. He did not feel equal to the task himself,
but said that if I thought a biography would be of sufficient
interest to justify the trouble, and would undertake it, he
would be glad to give all the necessary particulars. Thereafter as occasion offered we talked over various incidents in
his long and eventful life, and he placed in my hands a series
of diaries running back to the year 1845, when he set out
from Glasgow in the sailing ship Brilliant to seek his fortune
in the New World. We were both rather busy with other
matters, and as a result the biography progressed very
slowly, but it was finally completed a few weeks before his
death. Sir Sandford had taken the keenest interest in the
completion of each chapter, and I had hoped that he would
live to see the printed book. All references to him were
therefore put in the present tense. Now that it has become
necessary to add the irrevocable words that close the volume,
it seems preferable to let the rest of the narrative stand as
it was. Apart from all other considerations, I had rather
think of the kind old friend with whom I spent so many
delightful hours, and to whose wealth of human experience I feel so deeply indebted, as a living than a dead
personality.
Ottawa,
September, 1915.
l!
  CHAP.
I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XL
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.
XVI.
XVII.
XVIII.
XIX.
XX.
XXI.
XXII.
XXIII.
CONTENTS
A Voyage in a Sailing Ship
Making a Footing in the New World
Genesis of the Royal Canadian Institute
Building the Northern Railway
Pleading  the  Cause  of   the  Red  River
Colony
The Birth of the Intercolonial
Problems of the Survey
Building the Intercolonial
The Canadian Pacific Railway
Ocean to Ocean in 1872
Over the Mountains by the Kicking Horse
The British Isles in 1876   .
The Pacific Cable       ....
A Diplomatic Mission to Honolulu
The All-Red Line      ....
An Imperial Intelligence Service
The Standard Time Movement    .
A Trip to Venice in 1881    .
Queen's University and the Chancellor
Around the World in 1893-4
'Build up Canada*
An Imperial Monument
Eventide
Bibliography
Index  ....
PAGE
7
20
37
47
61
72
84
96
106
120
130
140
154
167
191
201
211
225
235
251
258
271
276
279
285
tft
  I'
CHAPTER I
A VOYAGE IN A SAILING SHIP
Sandford Fleming was by birth a Fifer ; that is to say
he first saw the light, January 7, 1827, in the ! Lang Toun *
of Kirkcaldy, in the ancient Kingdom of Fife, the home of
his forefathers for many generations. You will remember
what Andrew Fairservice says in Rob Roy, ' Kirkcaldy, the
sell o't, is langer than ony town in England \ His father was
Andrew Greig Fleming, and his mother Elizabeth Arnot.
He was named after his maternal grandfather Sandford
Arnot, and after an uncle of the same name, a Sanskrit
scholar of some renown then living in India. His mother's
grandfather, one of the clan Cameron, fought at Culloden,
and afterwards with seven others rowed Prince Charlie over
to France.   One of her uncles served under Wolfe at Quebec.
Fleming's earliest schooling was obtained at Kennoway,
the home of his grandmother, under a Mr. Bethune, who some
years later emigrated to Canada and became master of the
High School in Montreal. Eventually he settled as a resident
missionary on the north shore of Lake Erie between Caledonia
and Port Dover. At this same Kennoway school Dr. Allan
Pollok, one of the leaders of the Presbyterian Church in
Canada, also commenced his education. Fleming's education was continued at the Kirkcaldy Burgh School, the
same of which Carlyle had been master some twenty years
or so before. About the age of fourteen he became a pupil
of the well-known Scottish engineer and surveyor John
Sang, with whom he remained until he left for Canada in
1845. I !& ||
Of his boyhood days in the ancient seaport of Kirkcaldy
we get random glimpses through the pages of a tattered
diary, the first of a long series continued to the present day.
■ My present plan', he puts down in his diary, in a boyish
 8
SANDFORD FLEMING
hand, • is to write a sort of diary so that I can put there
anything particular that happens or is of utility to recollect.'
Kirkcaldy was then pretty much what Carlyle found it
in 1816, a long straggling town, picturesque in its way,
a characteristic bit of the Kingdom of Fife; filled with
a shrewd, hard-headed, and hard-working population ; the
home of many industries. Carlyle has made both place and
people immortal in his rough-hewn, compelling phrases :
j The Kirkcaldy population were a pleasant honest kind of
fellow mortals; something of quietly fruitful, of good Old-
Scotch in their works and ways ; more vernacular, peaceable,
fixed, and almost genial, in their mode of life, than I had been
used to in the Border home-land. Fife generally we liked.
Those ancient little burghs and sea-villages, with their poor
little havens/salt-pans', and weatherbeaten bits of Cyclopean
breakwaters and rude innocent machineries, are still kindly
to me to think of; — Kirkcaldy itself had many looms,
had Baltic trade, Whale-fishery &c, and was a solidly
diligent, yet by no means a panting, purring, or in any way
gambling " Lang Toun ".' An ideal place, as some one else
has said, for the nurture of economists, and here at least
one world-famous economist was born and nurtured—Adam
Smith, of the Wealth of Nations.
But there was a quality in the shrewd yet kindly atmosphere of this Scottish town that led to other things than the
dry bones of political economy. It nurtured in the boy
Sandford Fleming that rare combination of gifts, the genius
for dreaming great dreams and the capacity for bringing
them to fruition. Here were planted the germs of mighty
projects, destined to be developed in the course of time under
other and distant skies.
Turning the pages of the old diary, one comes upon this
extract copied from Poor Richard's Almanack, than which
nothing could more surely reveal the character of the boy :
' But dost thou love life ? Then do not squander time, for
that is the stuff life is made of. How much more than is
necessary do we spend in sleep, forgetting that the sleeping
fox catches no poultry, and that there will be sleeping enough
 •**•»*«.
A VOYAGE IN A SAILING SHIP 9
in the grave. Sloth maketh all things difficult, but industry
all easy ; and he that riseth late must trot all day and shall
scarcely overtake his business at night; while laziness
travels so slow that poverty soon overtakes him.' Not to
squander time has been one of the guiding principles of
Sandford Fleming's life. It has made that life a full one in
the broadest and best sense of the term.
And the boy in those far-off Kirkcaldy days was already
taking the lesson to heart. Under the guidance of one of
the best of teachers he was rapidly mastering the principles
of his chosen profession. He had shown in school a strong
taste for mathematics, and threw himself into the study of
engineering with an energy that scorned obstacles. His
days were passed in technical instruction in Mr. Sang's
office, and in gaining practical experience in harbour and
waterworks, as well as railway surveys, especially across
Fifeshire from Edinburgh to Perth and through the Carse of
Gowrie, from Perth to Dundee. Also he made prolonged
examinations of the southern uplands in connexion with the
new Edinburgh water-works. For recreation, he joined
a local chess club called the * Divan', and his diary for
January 1845 records the progress of a tournament for the
coveted rank of ' caliph', in which he won his way to the
final stage and lost by a single game.
Up to his eighteenth year he had not seen much of the
world beyond the heart of Scotland; embracing the group of
counties extending from Perth and Dundee in the north to
Lanark, Peebles, and Haddington in the south. He knew
thoroughly, however, his own county, with its characteristic
scenery, from the Ochil Hills to Loch Leven, the Lomonds to
Largo Law and the East Neuk of Fife. He was familiar
with the ruined palaces of Dunfermline and Falkland, and
the manifold relics of other days between Queensferry and
St. Andrews. Many a summer holiday had he fished the
Leven waters, river and loch; had become familiar with
the historical associations of Loch Leven castle perched on
its rock in the middle of the lake, the ancient residence of
Scottish kings and the prison-house of the ill-fated Queen
 10
SANDFORD FLEMING
i
Mary. Loch Leven, once the scene of stirring and romantic
events, is now better known as the arena of peaceful contests
by the disciples of Izaak Walton.
As a schoolboy, Fleming had played on the same Kirkcaldy beach that Carlyle loved so well: ' The beach of
Kirkcaldy, in summer twilights, a mile of the smoothest
sand, with one long wave coming on, gently, steadily, and
breaking in gradual explosion, into harmless melodious white,
at your hand all the way (the break of it, rushing along
like a mane of foam, beautifully sounding and advancing');
the beach where Carlyle and his friend Edward Irving
had so often walked and communed together. Many
a summer's day too he spent in the beautiful dell of Kennoway, near his grandmother's home. At other times he
made excursions to Ravenscraig Castle and to Seafield,
sketching the ruins of the old towers; to the quaint little
town of Kinghorn on the road to Burntisland ; to the ancient
castle of Fordel, with its stately beeches and gardens, its
turrets and tapestries; to Dysart, and to the caves of
Wemyss.
Occasionally too business or pleasure would take him to
the old town of Dunfermline, where he probably may have
seen a much smaller boy named Andrew Carnegie, who was
destined to make a name for himself in the world. A familiar
sight was the island of Inchkeith, in the middle of the Forth,
pretty much the same then as when Carlyle and Irving
visited it in Robie Greg's j poor green-painted, rickety
yawl'; the same wonderful views across the water, ' Edinburgh with its towers, the great silver mirror of the Frith,
girt by such a framework of mountains, cities, rocks and
fields and wavy landscape, on all hands'—a precious
memory to hold for other days.
But of all the scenes about Kirkcaldy, once familiar to
Sandford Fleming, nothing exceeds in loveliness the parks
and gardens. The gardens of Dysart stretching from
Ravenscraig along the banks of the Forth and overlooking
the beautiful southern shore from the Bass Rock to Salisbury Craigs and Arthur's Seat are the pride of the people
A\
 
Sandford Fleming in 1845
  A VOYAGE IN A SAILING SHIP
ii
of the ' Lang Toun'. Even more richly endowed with
sweetness and quiet beauty is the Raith, immediately
adjoining Kirkcaldy. There is only one Raith, and to those
who have known it the wide world may be searched in vain
for its equal. Every son and daughter of Kirkcaldy carries
through life the memory of its charm, with its beautiful lake
and waterfalls, its heather lodges, its gently swelling uplands,
its magnificent trees of every variety, all combining to give
to the Raith an air of perfect sylvan beauty.
An entry in the diary under date of January 13, 1845,
must be given in full, for the sake of the spirited description
it contains of a little-known Scottish festival: f Auld Hansel
Monday. Went down with others to Duravale to see Miss
Simson's picture of the Slave Market at Constantinople, and
then returned to Haugh Mill. Next morning I entered the
kitchen at six o'clock. Here is the master at the fire heating
the meal, and the mistress at the boiler stirring and boiling
the head of a fat ox. On a long row of tables are placed
wooden cogs now filled with oatmeal, into which is poured
the water in which the head was boiled. The plowmen with
their wives and children come in, upwards of forty of them,
with a noise of endless " Fine days ", and " Merrie Hansel
Mondays to ye % with the shaking of hands, &c. Now they
are all seated on forms, benches and planks of wood. Silence
reigns after the blessing is asked, except for the noise of the
horn spoons and the sloustering and snoring of the company.
What a scene of happiness, scarcely to be imitated by the
pencil of Wilkie ! But this is not all. The beef is now
commenced upon, and crowned by the introduction of
Bacchus. The master begins, " Here's a' yer healths an*
mony a Hansel Monday may we see ". The bottle passes
round the table, and the feast is never closed until the whole
may well say they are fou' and as thankfu'. The plowmen
now set out to visit their friends, and the farmer's sons and
relations get the guns ready for the field sports. They
commence at a favourite field; those that have guns take
their station at regular intervals, the boys and others without
guns filling in between.   So they scour the fields one after
J
 &&*3^1*£M&^-&£5K4#>^
12
SANDFORD FLEMING
another till two or three o'clock, when they return laden
with the products of the chase, chiefly hares, to a hearty
dinner, intermixed with whisky toddy, and a general talk
of the adventures of the day. Tea and more toddy follow
later, with songs, Scottish proverbs, cards, dice, recitations
and divers games. The amusements are carried on to
a pretty late hour, when once more Hansel Monday ends.'
In this month of January 1845 the thoughts of the young
man are constantly turned towards Canada. H January 7 he
notes in his diary: ' This is my birthday, and I am now
eighteen years of age. Went up with my father to Balbirnie
to see Mr. Ellice (Edward Ellice, M.P.) about going to Canada.'
A few days later he writes : h Got a pocket sextant, a present
from Mr. Sang, on the thoughts of going to America.' By
dint of hard work he had now qualified himself to practise
his profession as a civil engineer and surveyor, and had
acquired not a little facility as a draughtsman. The prospects
of employment in the old land were bright enough, especially
as the railway system was at that time being inaugurated
throughout the United Kingdom, but, like many another
youngster, the spirit of adventure had got hold of him, and
after careful thought it was decided that he should try his
fortune in the new world. His brother David had also
determined to emigrate to Canada. On the 20th of April the
diary reads: ' Went to church twice, expecting it to be the
last time in Scotland'; and the following day the young
man writes : ' David and I up about Kennoway taking farewell of our friends. My grandmother was a little affected,
and with tears in her eyes she said, " In danger I'll no' can
help ye ony way, but I'll pray for ye." Robert and Sandford
Imrie, our cousins, came along to a cross-road near the
Milton, and when parting dropped a letter into our hand,
saying " Just to put in our pocket: it might be of use to us
afterward ". It was addressed to S. & D. Fleming, enclosing
two pound and two crown pieces. It certainly showed an
uncommonly kind and feeling heart, and is ranked among
the incidents of my life which I will never forget. On
coming home, our Kirkcaldy friends were at supper, and the
 
A VOYAGE IN A SAILING SHIP
13
workmen were drinking David's health with some money
which he gave. Rodger Black gave us each a present, to
David Gems from American Poets, and to me Gems from
British Poets, and I got from my Uncle Alec a pocket
compass which also answers as a sun-dial.'.
On the morning of April 22, they were up at six making
their final preparations. I After taking farewell of our friends,
our mother, brothers and sisters, David and I, accompanied
by our father to Glasgow, left Kirkcaldy perhaps for ever.
We crossed the Firth to Edinburgh, and left by the five
o'clock train for Glasgow.' The following day was spent in
Glasgow, making final preparations for the long voyage by
sailing ship to Quebec. In the year 1845 a voyage across
the Atlantic was not such a simple matter as it is to-day.
Sandford Fleming, who was to do so much to increase the
means of communication, had to be satisfied with the
leisurely speed of an old-fashioned sailing ship. We of this
generation, who have become so accustomed to the marvels
of luxury plying almost daily between the opposite shores of
the ocean, can hardly realize that the whole story of ocean
navigation by steam lies within the bounds of one man's
lifetime. When Fleming crossed the Atlantic in 1845 the
dawn of the era of ocean steamships had barely opened.
The Cunard Line had only recently been formed. It was
then known as the British and North American Royal Mail
Steam Packet Company, and consisted of four side-wheel
steamers, mere pygmies beside the great Cunarders of to-day.
It is worth remembering that as this first line of ocean
steamers was organized by Sir Samuel Cunard, a Canadian,
so the very first vessel to cross the Atlantic by steam power
was built in Canada, her hull in Quebec, her engines in
Montreal, fed with Canadian coal, and navigated by a
Canadian crew. The Royal William, for so she was named,
sailed from Quebec as long ago as 1833, and made a successful
though not very rapid voyage by steam to London. After
leaving Quebec, she coaled at Pictou, and steamed triumphantly into the Thames twenty-five days later.
Seventy years ago, however, adventurous young men,
 14
SANDFORD FLEMING
determined to carve a fortune in the new world, were content to find their way by such old-fashioned sailing ships as
those engaged in the timber trade. In such a ship passage
had been engaged by the young travellers. The original
passenger's ticket used on the occasion is still extant, and is
not without interest as a relic of days when the sailing
ship was still the usual means of conveyance across the
Atlantic. It reads : ' I engage that the parties herein
named shall be provided with a passage to Quebec, in the
ship Brilliant, with not less than ten cubic feet for luggage,
for each statute adult, for the sum of £13 10s. including head-
money, if any, at the place of landing, and every other
charge . . . Water and provisions, according to the annexed
scale, will be supplied by the Ship, as required by law, and
also fires and suitable hearths for cooking. Utensils for
eating and drinking will be provided by passengers. Bedding
will be provided by passengers.' It is noted that the fare
includes free passage from Quebec to Montreal by river
steamer. Then follows the scale of water and provisions:
' A supply of water daily, at the rate of three quarts for each
passenger, and at convenient times, not less than two times
a week ; a supply of provisions after the rate of seven pounds
of Bread, Biscuit, Flour, Oatmeal, or Rice per week. One-
half at least of the supply shall consist of Bread or Biscuit,
and that Potatoes may be employed (at Master's option) to
the extent of the remaining half of the supply, five pounds
of the potatoes being computed as equal to one pound of the
other articles above enumerated.'
To return to the diary: ' The Brilliant cleared out from
the Broomielaw about half-past one p.m. (April 24,1845.) It
was tugged down the river by a steamer, and we took farewell of my father, who followed to the end of the wharf and
gave us three cheers.'
It was a fine spring day, the sun high in the heavens, and
the two young exiles, though their hearts were full, could
enjoy the ever-changing scenery as they glided down the
Clyde. The towers and spires of Glasgow gradually disappeared in the distance;   presently the travellers passed
   H
A VOYAGE IN A SAILING SHIP
15
Dumbarton Castle; their vessel, piloted through such a mass
of shipping as filled them with amazement, dropped down to
Greenock, where a new pilot was taken on for the Firth of
Clyde. ' Night comes on before we reach the Irish Sea, and
we go to sleep for the first time on the deep. The steamer
leaves us during the night.'
The following morning they are up at five, and on the deck
examining with keen interest all the details of their floating
home. The only land in sight is Ailsa Craig, due south, just
visible in the mist. Some hours later they get a glimpse of
the Mull of Kintyre to the north, and soon the last of Scotland
drops below the horizon. In the afternoon the wind freshens,
all loose articles slide about the cabin, the trunks are made
fast in the hold, and the women passengers retire to their
berths. The entry in the diary under Saturday, April 26, is
brief but eloquent, ? Very sick. In bed most part of the day,
and eat very little.' Sunday, still very sick in the forenoon,
but the wind moderates and the young travellers find life
again worth living. * In the evening we had a pleasant sail
with the vessel rocking majestically, although before we
really thought it was going down.' During the night a jar
of treacle broke loose in the cabin, and the sticky contents
was spread about the floor.
A day or two of fine weather brought most of the passengers
on deck, but the respite was only brief. A stiff westerly wind
sent them below again.
The last days of April found the ship again in the grip of
the storm. ' Slept little or none all night,' reads the diary,
' and we thought sometimes we were like to be pitched out
of our berths. It was my turn to see about breakfast. Up
early therefore. Could not walk very well along the deck.
Got nothing, as there was trouble with the cook. One of the
sailors came to the rescue. Got back to the cabin wet. We
were all sitting on the trunks when the vessel took a great
heave, the fastenings were loosened, and the trunks all slid
to the opposite side of the cabin, some on their sides and
others topsy-turvy. Back they came with the ship, and to
and from, some of us betwixt them and others on top.  David
J
 i6
SANDFORD FLEMING
w
had been sitting on a box containing drinkables. In a short
time the contents were spilt over everything and the floor
swimming. Much laughter followed. The trunks and other
things were secured with difficulty, and while we were at
work, in comes a fellow passenger saying the trunks in the
hold had broken loose. We all go down and get them secured.
The cracking and creaking there are fearful. We get back
to the cabin and go to bed.'
The good ship Brilliant had run into a north-west gale,
which steadily increased in violence and lasted several days*
She had to change her course and run southerly under double-
reefed topsails. Great waves swept across the deck. A wild
night followed, the ship creaking and groaning; ' it seemed
as if the sea was closing over us. We slept none all night.
Next day, the wind fell and our condition altered, though it
seemed for the worse, as the heavy swelling seas caused by
the gale still remained, and the sails could no longer steady
the vessel. There being no wind the canvas simply flapped.
The ship rolled fearfully, and the cargo in the hold shifted
from side to side. The cargo was partly iron bars, and we
could hear them rolling from side to side with the ship, and
pounding first on one side and again on the other. It did not
seem possible that the ship could withstand such pounding
much longer, and not knowing what might happen to us I felt
that I would like to send some word to my father, so I got
out my writing-desk which he gave me before I left home,
and wrote a letter explaining our situation and what seemed
to be our prospects. I sealed the letter in a bottle and threw
it into the sea, thinking it might be the last letter I should
write, and that it might perhaps reach my father. We were
then far out at sea, possibly seven hundred miles from land,
and had drifted four or five hundred miles southerly out of
our course, from about the latitude of Glasgow to that of
Paris. Towards evening the heavy sea fell, and next morning
everything had changed for the better. When we got on deck
the good ship, with her canvas spread to a favouring breeze,
was sailing tranquilly toward the west.'
For some time the voyage was made up of a monotonous
 I
A VOYAGE IN A SAILING SHIP
17
though no doubt most welcome series of fine days with clear
skies, comparatively smooth water and plain sailing. The
diary is a record of the trifling incidents that make up such
a voyage : a schooner is seen homeward bound ; a brig is
sighted on the northern horizon; another sail is within
speaking distance for half a day. The brothers play chess
during the day, and join the other cabin passengers with
singing and dancing in the evening. May 11 they are becalmed, and the boys amuse themselves watching the antics
of a shoal of porpoises, and fishing for sea-weed which from
its appearance must have floated north from the Gulf of
Mexico ; two or three whales are seen blowing just above
the horizon, and another appears a few hundred yards from
the ship; nautili float past, ' looking queerly like large
mice *.
On the 13th of May they are half-way between land and
land, to the delight of the passengers.   The following day
brought nasty weather again, the ship laboured hard, the
trunks again slid about the cabin and ' even the pillows had
to be tied to the bed ', a quantity of pig-iron broke loose in
the hold, adding to the general confusion and filling the
passengers with alarm.    On the 18th they passed several
large icebergs, and the following day were reported to have
reached the Great Banks.   ' A great many fishing schooners
were seen, with small boats floating about; towards evening
it gets foggy, and while sitting in the cabin we hear a great
crying on deck : a large schooner lies at anchor, right ahead,
not having been seen in the fog until we were a couple of
ship's-lengths off;  we would have struck her amidships if
our course had not been immediately altered.   That night
we sailed with two lookouts and had bells ringing continually.
Some of the passengers took precautions against the ship's
sinking during the night, such as sleeping with their clothes
on, pocketing their money, and having a bag of biscuits handy
to throw into the small boats.'
- May 22. It is now four weeks to-day since we left
Glasgow. We began to wash a few handkerchiefs, and I had
just gone on deck to put them out to dry, when greatly
B
 i8
SANDFORD FLEMING
W
surprised I was to see hills on the horizon; they had been
hid before by the mist. Every one crowded on deck, some
nearly dancing for joy. I made a sketch. It was the south
coast of Newfoundland—the first I have seen of the new
world, the first glimpse of our adopted country.'
Three days later they were called up to see St. Paul's Island
in the early morning, and during the forenoon passed Bird
Rocks. The following morning they sighted Gasp6 shore
and Anticosti. May 30, a pilot was taken on board, and
June 3 they came to anchor at Grosse Isle. [ The captain
went ashore with two cabin, two intermediate, and two
steerage passengers. I had not the good luck to get off, which
was rather disappointing as I wished to take sketches of the
place. They brought us bread baked on the island and
bunches of flowers, and among them I was glad to see the
dandelion, as it reminded me of the land we had left behind.
The numerous rocky islands covered with trees are most
beautiful with high hills in the background.'
Two days later they had reached their destination. ' Called
up on deck to see Quebec about 5 a.m. Just then opposite
a waterfall (Montmorency). The river at Quebec was immensely crowded with vessels, and pilot boats were flying
about in every direction. The tin roofs of the houses and the
spires of the churches were shining in the rays of the sun.
We packed our travelling things in the hope of getting away
with the five o'clock steamer to Montreal. Some of us went
ashore in a boat in the forenoon to see the town. Everything
seemed strange, the steamers especially. Some were driven
by horses, walking on deck, but the Montreal steamships were
splendid. Very happy to get our feet on terra firma once
more. We set off to see the ruins of a great fire which had
taken place a day or two before our arrival. It had an awful
appearance; more than twenty acres of houses burned to
the ground ; nothing left but a forest of blackened chimneys,
the houses having been built chiefly of wood. The pavements
of the streets being also of wood were destroyed with the
houses. The homeless inhabitants are living in churches and
other large buildings, and subscriptions are being raised in
 A VOYAGE IN A SAILING SHIP
19
every quarter for their relief.1 The people here are almost
all French, and have, of course, a very foreign appearance
to us. After looking about for some time we returned on
board to be in time for the Montreal steamer, but found we
could not get away untilthe next day, as the custom-house
officer had not yet come on board.'
The next forenoon, having still some time on their hands,
the brothers again went ashore and wandered through the
old town. ' We saw the inside of a Roman Catholic chapel;
it was indeed richly adorned and elaborately finished. We
visited the spot where General Wolfe fell, and saw where the
battle with General Montcalm was fought. Returning to
the Brilliant, we got our baggage removed to the steamer for
Montreal. The custom-house officer was most reasonable,
and only required that one trunk should be opened. We left
our old ship and her crew with regret, having during the
voyage, which lasted from the 22nd of April to the 6th of June,
in all forty-four days, made a pleasant society on board. We
said good-bye to the officers, with whom we had cultivated
agreeable relations, especially in connexion with the observations and calculations necessary to be made from day to day
in the navigation of the ship.'
A word or two may be added as to the fate of the letter
thrown overboard in mid-Atlantic. Nearly seven months
after it was consigned to the waves, the father, after hearing
of his son's safe arrival in Canada, received the following
message from Appledore, Port of Bideford, Devonshire : * A
bottle has been drifted on shore this day and been picked up
by a poor fisherman. It contains a letter addressed to you.
It bears date, Atlantic Ocean, May ulto., and excites great
curiosity, having drifted about six hundred and thirty miles.
This letter may be of consequence, and it shall be preserved
for the owner.'
This ends the story, briefly told, of the voyage from the
Qyde to Quebec by sailing ship in 1845. So the boy Sandford
Fleming, after a passage of some six weeks, made his entry
into the new world.
1 This was the great fire of May 28, 1845, which destroyed 1,600 houses
and other buildings.
B2
 CHAPTER II
MAKING A FOOTING IN THE NEW WORLD
Nearly a quarter of a century before the Royal William
crossed the Atlantic, the first Canadian steamboat navigated
the waters of the St. Lawrence. Built at Montreal in 1809,
two years after Fulton had astonished the people of New York
by steaming up the Hudson in the Clermont, the Accommodation was launched by John Molson and started on her maiden
trip to Quebec. The run was made in thirty-six hours, and
the venture proved so successful that Molson obtained a
monopoly for fifteen years, and in 1811 built a second steamboat, the Swiftsure. These pioneer vessels, which were the
pride of Montreal a hundred years ago, would appear ludicrously small and clumsy if one of them could be put beside
a palatial river steamer of the present day; and even in
1845 rapid advances had been made in the size and equipment
of the boats plying between Montreal and Quebec.
Certainly to Sandford Fleming and his elder brother David,
after their long voyage on the sailing ship Brilliant, the steamboat Queen seemed a magnificent vessel of phenomenal speed.
The boys found room on the crowded deck, and watched as
long as daylight lasted the ever-changing panorama of the
St. Lawrence. For several miles above Quebec the river was
filled with sailing vessels taking on cargoes of lumber for the
European market. Then the city was left behind, and the
boat steamed past cultivated fields with here and there the
comfortable home of an habitant. Presently a hamlet would
appear on the river's bank, the neat white cottages of the
villagers clustering around the village church, for all the world
like a brood of chickens about the mother hen. Presently
the cultivated field would give place for a time to a bit of
comparatively wild, rocky scenery, with sombre forest in
the background. Finally, darkness closed down over the
scene, and the two young emigrants made themselves as
 MAKING A FOOTING IN THE NEW WORLD 21
•*_^*-
comfortable as they could on deck, that being the only
accommodation they could secure.
The following morning, June 7, they awoke a little stiff,
but the discomforts of the night were soon forgotten in the
glorious scene that lay before them. It was a beautiful clear
morning, a typical Canadian midsummer morning; the
river was as smooth as glass, untouched even by a ripple,
and the Queen was sailing through that most beautiful part
of the St. Lawrence between Three Rivers and Montreal.
The travellers landed at Montreal about eight o'clock in the
morning.
In the Montreal of 1845 there was much to remind Fleming
of the old French town of Quebec, but there was much also
that marked it as a town with different conditions and a
different future. The old narrow streets, relics of the French
regime, still remained along the water-front, with many
curious old buildings that have since disappeared, but the
city was already expanding back towards St. Catherine Street
and Sherbrooke, and on the water-front a substantial beginning had been made with the splendid system of docks which
now accommodates the commerce of half a continent.
It is difficult to realize the tremendous changes that have
taken place in Montreal and in the country of which it is
still the centre, since 1845. Montreal was then a city of
about sixty thousand, one-tenth of its present population;
the gigantic railway systems of the country were then represented by one little strip of track from Laprairie to St. John's,
connecting Montreal with the Champlain Valley, and even
this railway was shut down in winter ; merely a beginning
had been made with the St. Lawrence canals, upon which
over one hundred millions have since been expended; the
Cornwall Canal had been completed three years before, but
the Williamsburg canals were only then in course of construction, and the enlarged Lachine Canal was not completed
until 1848. The Allan Line and the great project of the
Victoria Bridge were still in the womb of the future, and the
men who had visions of Montreal as a great ocean port were
not to see even a partial realization of their dream for some
 22
SANDFORD FLEMING
years to come. The removal of the seat of government to
Montreal had given an impetus to this as to many other
projects affecting the welfare of the city and the country, but
Montreal in the middle 'forties was only on the threshold of
her era of expansion. She still retained, as a well-known
writer, Dr. S. E. Dawson, has said, much of her mediaeval
aspect. Few vestiges are now left of the old town, but many
existed in 1845. J A visit to St. Vincent Street and to St.
Amabe Lane will give an idea of the narrow streets and
sombre appearance that then characterized our present
bright city. The streets were crowded, for it did not require
much trade to crowd them, and the merchants lived over
their warehouses, and their clerks oft-times lived with them.
The few residences above St. Catherine Street were like
manor houses among the fields which stretched down to
Dorchester Street. The old town was solidly packed, and
it was only on the new streets like St. James, Craig, and
McGill that there were many gaps. If the city seemed sombre,
the people were gay and sociable. There was, besides the
western trade, an important retail trade, and the city was
enlivened then, and for many years after, by a large garrison
of English troops, whose presence kept the town in touch
with English thought and manners and fashions. Their
bugle-calls for the |assembly" and other routine duties of
a soldier's life are now replaced by steam whistles which
summon or dismiss an army of thronging work-people. The
relations between the garrison and the city were always
friendly, and the parade at 11 a.m., or the trooping of the
colours, attracted many citizens to the Champ de Mars, then
the centre of the town, while the brilliant uniforms of the
officers enlivened the ball-rooms of the evening parties.'
It was such a town as this, through whose narrow old-world
streets the young travellers wandered in 1845.
While the two brothers were still looking about them,
eagerly interested in the many novel features of life in the
new world, and a little uncertain as to what they had better
do next, they had the pleasure of a visit from their old schoolmaster, Mr. Bethune, of Kennoway, who came down to the
 MAKING A FOOTING IN THE NEW WORLD   23
steamer with his wife. He had come out to Montreal from
Scotland some time before, and was now about to start for
the west, having undertaken the work of a missionary settler
in the township of Walpole, on the north shore of Lake Erie.
The prospect of congenial company induced the boys to
hasten their departure from Montreal; they all took passage
on a river steamer and made their way up the Ottawa River.
At that time the only route to Upper Canada lay by way of
the Ottawa River to Bytown, through the Rideau Lakes to
Kingston, and thence along Lake Ontario.
The improvement of navigation was then in it§ infancy.
Such canals as there were, were only adapted to small shallow-
draught vessels, and the approaches had not been dredged.
As a consequence the little boat in which they were travelling,
being deeply laden, stuck in the mud a little below Lachine
and lay all night. It rained very heavily, and, there being no
cabin, the passengers were again compelled to sleep on deck
under oil-cloths. The next day the vessel was taken up to
the locks, but as it was contrary to the law to go through
on Sunday, the boys took advantage of the opportunity to
attend the Scotch church in Lachine.
Necessary repairs to the steamer detained them at St.
Anne's until Tuesday afternoon, when they were off again
through the Lake of Two Mountains and into the wild scenery
of the Ottawa. Here the author of the diary was introduced
to the North American mosquito, and, like most travellers
on this continent, was sufficiently interested in its personality
to record his impressions in his diary : ' Saw mosquitoes for
the first time. Got several bites on my hand. They are
very itchy, but if you do not scratch them they soon go away.
If you do ', he adds feelingly,' they swell very much. Some
people they do not sting, or at least they do not feel them.'
The steamer made occasional stops at infant settlements on
the river, and the lads enjoyed the luxury of sweet milk, but
they note that it is about twice as dear as in Scotland. On
the evening of the nth they reached the village of Carillon
at the foot of the Long Sault Rapids. At Grenville they were
again delayed by difficulty in getting the steamer through
I
 |i§ilfSiK$Sli§8l§asra
24
SANDFORD FLEMING
the locks. This was her first trip, and she had been built
without due regard to the width of the locks. As a consequence it became necessary to unship the paddle-boxes before
she could be passed through. After another night spent
on the river, the travellers reached Bytown at six a.m. on
June 14.
Let us attempt to see the little settlement of Bytown as it
appeared in 1845. As the steamer ploughed her way through
the dark waters of the Ottawa, the banks of the river below
the town gave little indication of the presence of man. The
low northern shore and the higher ground on the south side,
rising to imposing cliffs, on which the city now stands, were
still for the most part clothed in the same primaeval forest
that Champlain had seen first of white men two hundred
and thirty-two years before. Parkman's inimitable word-
picture was as applicable to the river in 1845 as it was to
the scene that met the astonished gaze of Champlain in 1613.
■ The still surface of the river was flecked with spots of foam;
islets of froth floated by, tokens of some great convulsion.
Then, on their left, the falling curtain of the Rideau shone
like silver betwixt its bordering woods, and in front, white as
a snowdrift, the cataracts of the Chaudiere barred their way.
They saw the unbridled river careering down its sheeted
rocks, foaming in unfathomed chasms, wearying the solitude
with the hoarse outcry of its agony and rage.' Except that
in 1845 a rustic mill stood above the Rideau Falls, and a graceful suspension bridge spanned the Chaudiere, Parkman's
description was as applicable as ever. As the boat rounded
Nepean Point, however, and drew into the wharf, an entirely
different scene opened up before the travellers. Before them
rose the massive tier of locks leading to the Rideau Canal,
spanned above by the Sapper's Bridge. On the heights to
the right, now crowned by the splendid Gothic group of the
Houses of Parliament, stood the barracks and stone hospital
built by Colonel By, and a few scattered public buildings and
private dwellings could be seen among the trees on either
side of the canal.
While the boat made her leisurely way through the locks,
 '«•*»»»..
MAKING A FOOTING IN THE NEW WORLD   25
the writer of the diary explored the little town, which many
years afterwards was to become his home. Climbing the
hill to Rideau Street, he crossed the Sapper's Bridge, and
wandered down the road which skirted Barracks' Hill, and
eventually brought him to the bridge over the Chaudiere
Falls. His brother took another course towards New Edinburgh, and looked up an old workman of their father's who
had come out to Bytown eleven years before and was now
in comfortable circumstances. He was not in at the time,
and they had to get back to the boat which all this time had
been making her leisurely way through the locks and was now
discharging cargo at the canal basin. Before she left, however, the old man was seen coming along the banks of the
canal, dressed in honour of the occasion in his Sunday clothes,
a dress coat with brass buttons and a white cravat. They
told him all the news of Kirkcaldy and Kennoway, and in
return learned from him a great deal about life in Canada.
' As we walked back with him to the bridge,' says the diary,
' I happened to be a few feet behind, and to my astonishment
saw smoke coining from the tails of his coat. I rushed forward with a shout of warning. The old man turned quickly,
caught sight of the trail of smoke he was leaving behind, and
snatched out of his pocket a huge bandanna handkerchief
and a venerable pipe. He had been smoking, it appeared, on
his way down to the canal, and when he caught sight of us on
the boat had hastily thrust the pipe into his pocket without
remembering to empty it. The bandanna handkerchief
made material for a tidy little bonfire, which was just discovered in time to save the tails of his Sunday coat.'
The long and rather tedious journey through the canal and
the Rideau Lakes to Kingston was made without incident,
beyond meeting another old Kirkcaldy man who had come
out from Scotland thirty years before and was now lockmaster
at Smith's Falls. ' Kingston', says the diary, ' is a pretty
considerable town, wide streets and well laid out. There are
some good public buildings, more especially the market-house,
which is a large and fine building in the form of a T with
colonnade and pillars in front supporting a dome and clock-
i
 26
SANDFORD FLEMING
tower. There are some good churches, one a new Gothic
structure, and a large plain college.' This was Fleming's
first glimpse of Queen's College, of which he was many years
later to become Chancellor.
The same evening they took passage on the Princess Royal,
bound for Toronto, accompanied by several of their acquaintance from the Brilliant, who had come on ahead to Kingston.
The Princess Royal was crowded with emigrants, chiefly
Irish, an advance guard of the great exodus of 1847. At
Cobourg they took leave of their friends, who were going on
to Toronto, and turned north to their destination, Peterboro.
'Cobourg', says the diary,' is a nice little town, and apparently
thriving very well.' The lads were struck with the curious
resemblance that this town, some seven hundred or eight
hundred miles inland, bore to a seaport, and the novel
experience of a Hmitless horizon on these inland waters.
A Peterboro farmer returning from Cobourg furnished
a convenient means of transport. The luggage was tumbled
into his wagon, and off they started. The first few miles
were over a rough road, nothing much more than a track
through the bush. Then they struck the corduroy road
from Port Hope to Rice Lake. The elder, ambitious to
drive the wagon over this pioneer highway, so different
from the carefully-built roads of the old land, managed to
get into a deep rut and was pitched headlong into the ditch.
This experience satisfied him for the time, and he was glad
to hand the reins over to the farmer, more accustomed to
the eccentricities of Upper Canadian roads. They arrived
at Peterboro about sun-down, where they had a warm welcome from their kinsman, Dr. Hutcheson, one of the pioneer
settlers of the county of Peterboro. The journey from
Quebec to Peterboro, which can now be made in ten hours,
took them over eleven days !
Peterboro did not impress Fleming very favourably when
he got his first sight of the town. i It looks rather a poor
little place, the stumps of trees still in the middle of the
streets, a wooden house here and there, with a few good
villas with verandahs in the suburbs.'   But he was to make
 MAKING A FOOTING IN THE NEW WORLD   27
his home here for several years, and many associations were
to make the place dear to him. Indeed, a good night's rest
and a bright sun the following morning had already made
Peterboro more interesting and attractive. ' Went out with
the doctor to see the town,' he says. ' There are some good
shops, and a large court-house and cells which we went
through. There were one debtor, a man and wife condemned for burning a house, and a lunatic here, this being
the prison for the whole district of Colbourne. The place
looks very well down about the river, which is more than half
the size of the Clyde at Glasgow. A small steamer plies
between Peterboro and Rice Lake. Part of this town is on
the other side of the river, which is crossed by a wooden
bridge.   It contains about two thousand inhabitants.'
The following day Sandford and David drove out to Mud
Lake with Dr. Hutcheson, calling at different farm-houses
where the doctor had patients. For several miles from
Peterboro the land was cleared and good farms under cultivation ; the houses were only log shacks, but the farmers
appeared to be prosperous. A visit was paid to an Indian
village at Mud Lake, and the young Scotch lads were for the
first time brought face to face with a live Indian chief in the
person of Peter Noggy.
About two months were spent very pleasantly in the
little town on the banks of the Ottonabee; not idle days by
any means. The lads had been brought up in a community
that abhorred idleness, and there were innumerable opportunities of usefulness about the home of the good doctor.
Still they found time for fishing excursions, picnics, and
rambles about the country, in which they discovered many
familiar acquaintances among the birds and flowers of the
Canadian woods, and many too which were altogether unfamiliar.
Congenial friends were also found among the families of
Peterboro, including members of the talented Strickland
family, Catherine Parr Traill, her sister, Susanna Moody, and
their brother, Major Strickland. Here, by the picturesque
waters of the Ottonabee and in the neighbouring woods,
 SANDFORD FLEMING
Mrs. Traill gathered and put into shape the material for her
delightful books, some reflecting the now vanished conditions
of the pioneer settlements, and the lives of the true-hearted
men and women, branches many of them of the best old
English stock, who laid the foundations of the great province of Ontario ; and others interpreting with rare insight
and sympathy the life histories of the inhabitants of these
Canadian woods and streams. Here too about this time
Sandford first met a charming young girl, the daughter of
Sheriff Hall, who some ten years afterwards was to become
his wife.
Early in August the two lads left for Toronto, to seek
their fortune. They drove to Port Hope, where they took
the steamer for Toronto. Port Hope in 1845 was ' a nice
thriving little town, finely situated between two hills, well
covered with trees, and among the trees many beautiful little
cottages. A considerable stream runs through the town,
with good falls for the mills situated there. This place may
be said to be like a Scotch town, but the houses being
painted white, and some of them tastefully built, it looks even
much better', which was praise indeed for a young man
fresh from Scotland.
They left Port Hope at seven a.m., and after calling at
several intermediate ports reached Toronto at one o'clock in
the afternoon. Toronto was then a town of less than twenty
thousand people, with several enormously long and very
ill-paved streets. A number of important public buildings
had lately been completed or were in course of erection,
including several fine churches. The old Market House was
still standing, and over it were the rooms of the Athenaeum,
afterwards amalgamated with the Canadian Institute. The
officials of King's College, now the University of Toronto,
occupied part of the old Parliament Buildings. The city
was lighted with gas, and water-works had already been
established from the bay to the city. Steamboats connected
Toronto with Kingston, Hamilton, Niagara, Queenston, and
Rochester; stages carried passengers east and west over
exceedingly rough road ; omnibuses ran regularly out Yonge
 MAKING A FOOTING IN THE NEW WORLD   29
Street, which extended forty miles north into the country,
passing through Richmond Hill, Thornhill, and other villages;
and every hour from the market-place to Yorkville; a horse
ferry-boat also connected the city with the island.
In 1845 the Kingston steamer landed at Brown's Wharf,
near the foot of Church Street. To any one famihar with
Toronto the changes that have taken place within the lifetime of Fleming are indeed marvellous. Practically the city
was confined in 1845 to the area between Peter Street on the
west and Parliament Street on the east. Queen Street was
not open west of Sherbourne, where it was shut in by the
Moss Park grounds of the Hon. William Allan, father of the
late Senator Allan. The whole space between Queen and
Bloor Streets, now a mile and a quarter of almost solid
buildings, was then mostly in farms with a few straggling
buildings up Yonge Street for perhaps half a mile north of
Queen Street. ? One incident may serve to give an idea of the
enormous strides taken by Toronto since Fleming first set foot
on its streets nearly seventy years ago, an incident the particulars of which were related to him by one of the parties to
the transaction. Andrew Sanderson, a farmer in the township
of York, took a load of hay one autumn to Toronto to sell
in the open market. Finding no sale, and unwilling to take
the load back with him over very heavy roads, he offered it
to the proprietor of Elgin's Hotel on Yonge Street on very
easy terms. The latter, however, could ill spare the cash, and
after some bargaining he offered Sanderson in payment for
the load of hay the vacant lot on the north-east corner of
King and Yonge Streets, which Sanderson reluctantly
accepted. That particular lot was sold not long ago for
a million and a quarter dollars.
After a night in the ' Edinburgh Castle' tavern, a comfortable room was obtained at a boarding-house on East Queen
Street, directly opposite what is now Jarvis Street, which did
not then exist. David was fortunate in obtaining work
immediately, but Sandford was not so successful. Day after
day his journal is a record of hope deferred. He called on
Sir Allan MacNab and other notabilities with letters of
£i
SB
 30
SANDFORD FLEMING
introduction, but, though politely received, he found little
or no prospect of employment as an engineer or surveyor.
The Canada Company's surveys were completed, and there
was nothing to hope for in that direction ; Mr. (afterwards
Sir) Casimer Gzowski could offer no work in the Department
of Roads and Harbours, in fact he threw cold water over the
ambitious hopes of the young engineer; told him there was
nothing in the province ; that the great works were nearly
all finished, funds exhausted, that they were paying off men
instead of taking them on, that indeed he thought it a very
bad country for professional men, and wound up by advising
him to return to Scotland, advice which Sandford decided
to put aside until every avenue of success in the new world
had been explored.
Finally, seeing little prospect of employment in Toronto
for a time at least, he decided to go to Hamilton, partly to
see what prospect there might be of work in that town, and
partly to look up his friends of the Brilliant. Surveyors
and engineers seemed to be as little in demand there as in
Toronto, but he was fortunate in finding Mr. Bethune and
several others of the Brilliant passengers, with whom he
spent a pleasant evening.
As Mr. Bethune was leaving the next day with his family
to take up his farm, Sandford decided to accompany him.
' We went along the Port Dover road,' says the diary. ' It
is planked to that place, a distance of thirty-six miles from
Hamilton. We passed the village of Caledonia on the Grand
River. A steamer runs from this place to Port Maitland on
Lake Erie. We saw a good many flour- and saw-mills. We
rolled along this smooth road almost like a floor, halting at
several taverns and other places until we came to Mr. Secord's
tavern, twenty-four miles from Hamilton, and then we
walked about two miles through the bush until we came to
Mr. Bethune's clearing.'
Here Fleming had his first experience of colonial life under
absolutely pioneer conditions—the new settler with little
other asset than his stout heart attacking the tremendous task
of carving a home out of the wilderness.   Mr. Bethune's
 MAKING A FOOTING IN THE NEW WORLD 31
farm consisted of a two-hundred-acre lot, a few acres of
partially cleared land, the rest being bush. A primitive log
house had been put up without so far even a chimney. That
the young Scotch lad, however, saw nothing discouraging in
the outlook of a pioneer farmer is clear from the fact that at
this time he seriously contemplated buying a farm himself,
and even went the length of examining one that happened
to be for sale, and making inquiries as to possible terms of
purchase. A sudden call to Hamilton on urgent business
brought this project to an untimely end, fortunately for his
adopted country. He might have made a successful farmer,
but Canada would have lost perhaps her greatest engineer.
One little incident may appropriately close this phase of
the young man's career, and the story cannot better be told
than in his own words. * I was anxious', he says, f to find
some way of helping my old schoolmaster, who, although he
had no doubt found occasion to thrash me more than once,
had endeared himself to me by many kindnesses. As his
log house lacked a fireplace and chimney, I made up my mind
to supply these defects. I had discovered that a quarry could
be opened some little distance away, and with the aid of a
pair of oxen and a sled or stone-boat, gradually managed to
cut out and haul to the house sufficient stone for the purpose.
Mr. Bethune's little girl, Isabella, a child of about three
years, had become my stanch friend, and took great delight
in driving back and forth behind the great lumbering oxen.
Many interesting conversations we had, wee Easie and I, as
we got out the stone and hauled it to the site of the chimney.
I One evening I remember her mother came to me worrying
because the child was restless and feverish, and nothing
would do but she must sleep in my bed. With many apologies
Mrs. Bethune asked if she might be put there until she fell
asleep. But when I saw her curly little head on the pillow
I could not bear to have her disturbed, and when I turned in
for the night the wee one cuddled down beside me contentedly,
and so we remained until the next morning's sun summoned
us to our pleasant labours at the quarry.
* One day a message came from Hamilton that Dr. Hutcheson,
	
 SANDFORD FLEMING
my first and best friend in Canada, was seriously ill, not
expected to live, and wished earnestly to see me. I had to
leave at a moment's notice. Fortunately Dr. Hutcheson's
illness proved less serious than had been anticipated, and in
a few days he was well enough to be taken back to Peterboro.1
One thing and another, however, made it impossible for me
to revisit my dear friends near Lake Erie, and it was not until
nineteen years after, when professional business brought me
within half a day's journey of the place, that I found the
opportunity to revisit the scene of the pleasant days of 1845.
' I reached Jarvis, a village which had grown up meanwhile not far from the old farm, and put up at the inn. After
supper I asked the landlady if she knew of a family in the
neighbourhood of the name of Bethune. | Oh yes," she said,
" the old gentleman is dead, but the daughter is still living
here. She married a Mr. Cowan, who keeps a general store
down the road." I found the place without difficulty. The
interior was the usual country store, filled with all sorts of
miscellaneous articles. On one side a door, then ajar, led into
the living-room. On entering the store I found a young man
in charge, and asked him if Mrs. Cowan was at home. The
words were no sooner out of my mouth than I heard a woman's
voice from the inside room crying " There he is !' and before
I could take breath a handsome young woman rushed out
and threw her arms around my neck, much to the confusion
of myself and the young man behind the counter. This was
my little Isabella of nineteen years before, whose memory of
her old companion had been vivid enough to recognize him
after all these years merely by the tones of his voice.'
But to return to Peterboro and the year 1845. Putting
aside for the time all thoughts of Toronto, Fleming obtained
temporary employment as a draughtsman with a Peterboro
surveyor, Richard Birdsall. This occupied him until February
1846, when he conceived the idea of making a survey of the
town and publishing the plan.    He had now entered his
1 Dr. Hutcheson died in July 1847, from typhus contracted as a result
of his devoted and unselfish work among the suffering Irish immigrants
at Montreal.
 MAKING A FOOTING IN THE NEW WORLD   33
twentieth year. The survey was duly completed, and then
the question of lithographing the plan had to be faced. At
that time there were few, if any, lithographers in Canada ;
certainly none in Upper Canada. Sandford had learned the
art in Scotland, and determined to do the work himself. He
went up to Toronto, obtained the necessary stones, and in
due time the plan was completed. A survey and plan of the
Newcastle District were carried out the same year ; and in
1847 Cobourg was added to the list.
Realizing the advantage of securing from the Government
a commission as a provincial land surveyor, he articled himself to Stoughton Dennis, of Weston, and in due time obtained
the certificate then required by the law. Armed with this
document he set forth for Montreal, then the seat of government, in the late winter of 1849. The journey was long and
tedious. From Peterboro to Kingston the journey was made
by stage. At Kingston the traveller caught the first boat to
Montreal, in company with a number of legislators on their
way to the meeting of Parliament. The monotony of the
journey was broken, or possibly increased, by the steamer
becoming icebound in the St. Lawrence, and remaining there
for the better part of a day.
At Montreal the young man presented himself for examination to that fine old gentleman, then Commissioner of Lands,
Andrew Russel, passed the ordeal without misadventure, and
obtained his commission from Lord Elgin on the very day of
the famous riot over the Rebellion Losses Bill.
The Bill had been passed on April 25, 1849, and, after
anxious consideration, the Governor-General had come to
the conclusion that he had no justifiable alternative but to
give his assent. Returning from the legislative building,
Lord Elgin was surrounded by an angry mob who hooted him
and pelted his carriage with rotten eggs. In the evening the
mob, now grown to formidable proportions, gathered in the
Champ de Mars, where inflammatory speeches were delivered,
and when feeling had been worked up to fever pitch, some one
cried,' Burn the Parliament building.' The mob immediately
took up the cry, and rushed off to wreak vengeance on the
c
il
4
 54
SANDFORD FLEMING
empty building. Sandford Fleming had been an interested
spectator of the wild scene on the Champ de Mars, and now
followed the angry crowd to watch the sequel. Down the dark
narrow streets surged the mob, their excited faces lighted
fitfully by the torches that many of them carried.
The legislative building was J a two-story brick structure
occupying the site of the old St. Anne's Market. The building
has long since disappeared, and the ground it stood on is now
Youville Square. It was built as a market, but was not then
occupied as such, having been leased by the Government for
legislative purposes. On the ground floor were the Government offices, while upstairs, at the head of a broad staircase,
and leading off a wide passage, were two halls, one that of the
Legislative Assembly, and the other that of the Legislative
Council.'
The octogenarian Montreal notary, Mr. W. F. Lighthall,
whose recollections supply the above description of the legislative building as it was in 1849, adds the following graphic
little picture of the opening of Parliament in this eventful
year : f Soon it was announced that the Governor-General
had arrived, from his official residence Monklands, on Mount
Royal. He entered the Legislative Council and opened
Parliament. The Speaker of the House and Black Rod
rushed in with the mace, and we pressed in behind. Lord
Elgin read the speech from the Throne, back of which hung
the large oil painting of the young Queen Victoria, which
later was rescued from the building when it was burning/
This latter incident brings us back to Sandford Fleming,
who was left following the angry mob to the legislative
building. ' When they reached the building,' he says, * they
tore up the planks of the sidewalk and dashed them through
the lower windows. Lights were then applied to piles of
parliamentary papers inside, by throwing in the torches.
The fire spread rapidly, and I could see that before long it
would reach the library. Having spent several delightful
days there examining old and rare books, I felt that the least
I could do was to try to save some of them. I gained an
entrance, but found that the fire had already taken possession
 MAKING A FOOTING IN THE NEW WORLD   35
of the library, and it was impossible to do anything there.
Turning to the legislative hall, I saw the Queen's picture and
determined to make at least an effort to save it. Three
other men joined me, but we found it no easy task. The
portrait was in a massive gilt frame, firmly bolted to the wall.
At last, by putting our shoulders underneath and exerting
our united strength we managed to loosen the fastenings,
and finally the frame came down with a crash. Finding the
frame too heavy to handle, we removed the canvas on its
stretching frame, and the four of us carried it out of the
building, a shoulder under each corner. We were only just
in time, for as we climbed slowly down the stairs the flames
were roaring overhead and we had to stoop low to prevent
the picture being scorched. The picture was removed to a
place of safety, and some years after was brought to Ottawa.
It hangs to-day in the Senate. It was the work of John
Partridge, as appears by the following entry in the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly under date March 23, 1848:
'' On motion of Sir Allan MacNab, seconded by Mr. Drummond.
—Ordered that the Clerk of this House be directed to write
to John Partridge, Esq., portrait painter to Her Majesty the
Queen, requesting him to forward the likeness of Her Majesty
painted for this House." I remember reading in a Montreal
newspaper, a few days after the fire, a lively account of the
incident, in which, among other things, it was said that " the
Queen's picture was carried off by four scoundrels ". At the
time I knew nothing of the identity of my companions
in rascality, but many years afterwards I learned that one
of them had been Colonel Wiley, formerly Chief of Police.
Another was an employe of Parliament, an Eastern Townships man, whose name was, I think, McGillivray ; and the
third was an uncle of A. H. Todd, of the Library of Parliament. All three are now dead. It may be worth mentioning
that a copy of the picture was made after the fire by Mr.
Berthon, and presented by the late Senator G. W. Allan to
the city of Toronto for the city hall.
I After the rescue of the Queen's picture, I returned to the
legislative chamber to see if something else might not be
C2
 36
SANDFORD FLEMING
saved from the fire, but found nothing of value which one
man could handle. I did, however, carry out the gilded
crown which had rested on a cushion over the picture. It
was, of course, of no particular value except as a relic of the
old legislative building, but it was new and bright with gold-
leaf, and attracted attention as I carried it in my arms through
the crowd on St. Paul Street. Several times I was threatened
with arrest, but I explained that I was simply saving the
crown from destruction, and that any person who had
a better right to it than I would find it in my room at
Mack's Hotel. I afterwards took it in a tea chest to Toronto,
where it remained in my possession for some years. What
subsequently became of it I do not know. Possibly it
found its way into some Toronto museum.'
 '
Toronto in 1848
From an engraving by Fleming
«f: 1
  ^%i
CHAPTER III
GENESIS OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN INSTITUTE
Among the many important projects with which Fleming
has been associated, none has, perhaps, given him more
satisfaction than the founding of the Canadian Institute,
created the Royal Canadian Institute by His Majesty in 1914.
When he returned from Montreal in the spring of 1849,
equipped with all the necessary documentary authority to
practise his profession in Canada, he had already determined
to make Toronto his head-quarters. His was not, however,
the nature to rest satisfied with a mere bread-and-butter
existence. His vision even then reached beyond the practical
details of his daily work. In June of the same year he, with •
several other land surveyors, civil engineers, and architects,
practising in and around Toronto, met together in the office
of Kivas Tully, near the corner of King and Yonge Streets,
to organize a society for the mutual improvement of its
members and the advancement of their allied professions.
This society began its existence as a professional association,
but the men who were behind it were too broad-rninded to be
satisfied with so narrow a field, and in 1851, when a royal
charter was obtained, the society became known as the
Canadian Institute, in the words of the Act of Incorporation,
' A Society for the encouragement and general advancement
of the Physical Sciences, the Arts and the Manufactures m
this part of our dominions.'
Before this stage had been reached, however, the society
had suffered the vicissitudes of most such bodies. The
original meeting was held on June 20, 1849, the anniversary
of the Queen's coronation, but in spite of this happy coincidence the society experienced anything but \ Queen's
weather'. The preliminary meeting was adjourned from
month to month, little being accomplished, and the waning
interest of the members made painfully evident by the rapidly
■asa
jp!
 38
SANDFORD FLEMING
diminishing attendance. Finally, in February, 1850, only
two men attended the meeting, Sandford Fleming and F. F.
Passmore. There was in Sandford Fleming's make-up, however, something more than enthusiasm. He was not born
north of the Tweed without inheriting a share of the national
tenacity. He had set his heart on organizing this society,
and organized it should be though he had to do it single-
handed.
After much silence and long waiting, in vain, for the other
members to appear, Fleming addressed his colleague in these
words, \ This looks bad. We must, however, proceed, as the
saying is, to make a spoon or spoil the horn. Let one of us
take the chair, and the other act as secretary.' So it was
agreed, and dispensing in the emergency with a quorum, the
two young men passed a series of resolutions, with complete
unanimity. No amendments were offered, and time was
not wasted in long discussion. Those present deemed it an
unnecessary formality to have movers and seconders to the
motions submitted. As appears by the original minute-book,
the meeting simply ' Resolved ' this and that. One resolution adopted and formally placed on the records had far-
reaching results. It reads : ' That the members of the
Canadian Institute do after this date meet once a week, on
each Saturday, at 7 o'clock p.m., in the hall of the Mechanics
Institute.' The resolutions were printed in circular form and
sent to all interested. The Society was galvanized into life.
The meeting held the week following was well attended, and
the discussions on various subjects were continued for several
hours. The weekly Saturday meeting of the Canadian
Institute, inaugurated by these two daring young enthusiasts in February 1850, has been regularly maintained for
over sixty years !
The Canadian Institute, having been at last put in motion,
was not permitted to stand still. At the meeting of November 16, 1850, Sandford Fleming submitted the prospectus
of a proposed periodical, designed to be the official organ of
the Institute. It was to be known as The Canadian Journal,
and was to become the medium of publication of the society's
 GENESIS OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN INSTITUTE   39
transactions. In the language of the prospectus, it was
- intended to minister to the wants and promote the interests
of a young yet enterprising and rapidly advancing people,
and to fill up a blank in Canadian literature, the existence of
which has been deeply regretted, and has of late been most
seriously felt by artisans, manufacturers, and the public
generally throughout the province'. The prospectus was
approved, and the first number of the Journal appeared,
after some little delay, in 1852. A change in the title of the
Journal, in 1856, is significant. From 1852 to 1855 it was
known as The Canadian Journal, a Repertory of Industry,
Science, and Art, the title being changed the following year
to The Canadian Journal of Science, Literature, and History.
The aims of the society, at first largely utilitarian, were
becoming more purely intellectual and scientific, and this
was altogether desirable. The people of Canada are even
to-day much too deeply engrossed in practical affairs, in the
merely bread-and-butter side of life. Literature for its own
sake, or science for its own sake, make but a small appeal to
their sympathies. ' Does it pay ? ' is the touchstone, rather
than ' Is it worthy ? ' If this is so to-day it was doubly true
in the middle of the last century, when the very circumstances
of life in Canada, the stress and strain of pioneer conditions,
the constant pressure of merely keeping alive, left very little
room for interests that were not altogether practical. And
yet it was as important then as it is now, and always will be,
that men should be reminded that life has something higher
and nobler than eating and drinking, clothing and shelter.
To some extent at least, the Canadian Institute furnished
a reminder.
There is, however, a utilitarianism that is unselfish, philanthropic in the larger sense, making for the greatest good of
the greatest number. This sort of idealized utilitarianism
has been one of the most active factors in Sandford Fleming's
career. It marked his character as a young man ; it will be
revealed in many incidents of his later life. It is the natural
and inevitable expression of his personality, for he is essentially a man of broad sympathies;  a man of big, unselfish
 4°
SANDFORD FLEMING
:.
ideas ; a practical and far-sighted patriot. He has always
stood a little in advance of his times. He is a dreamer, but
not a visionary. His dreams have always been practical and
possible. He has had the courage to think independently,
to preach great reforms, and he has had the patience to
educate public opinion to the support of his projects. He
has lived to see his dreams come true, simply because he
would not rest until they had come true. He has had to meet
on the one side the determined opposition of selfish interests,
and on the other the much more formidable obstacle of public
apathy or indifference, but in the end he has proved that even
one man, with a good cause, and a thorough belief in both
the cause and himself, must win.
Fleming's interest in his professional work as an engineer
was always sincere and whole-hearted. It was much more
to him than a means of livelihood. He loved it for its own
sake. He gloried in the problems it presented, the hard
work it entailed, its difficulties and dangers, its repulses and
final victories. But even in his busiest years, when every
hour of the day had its strenuous and exacting duties, he
managed somehow to find time for other and larger plans ;
and when the time at last came when he felt free to retire from
active professional life, it was simply to throw his tireless
energies into those other channels.
His interest in the Canadian Institute was an early manifestation of this attitude. It would not have been like him
to rest content with the successful launching of the society.
For more than half a century he has identified himself with
the life of the Institute, and in innumerable ways contributed
to its success. The published transactions of the society
reveal at least one form of his interests, and at the same time
throw not a little light on the bent of his mind. To the early
volumes he contributes papers on such subjects as the preservation and improvement of Toronto Harbour. Some years
later we find him introducing a subject to which he was to
return again and again, both here and in many other periodicals, that of * uniform standard time ', and the adoption of
a prime meridian.   More will be said about this in another
 GENESIS OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN INSTITUTE   41
chapter. It is perhaps sufficient here to note the fact that
while his first article on the subject in the transactions of the
Institute appeared as long ago as 1879, he was still hammering away at the same reform in the transactions for 1894.
In 1893 he takes up the question of electoral representation,
and the rectification of Parliament; and in that and the
following year we find him contributing a series of historical
and other articles, on such subjects as ocean steam navigation, early steamboats, postage stamps and colour blindness,
and historical pictures.
Many years ago Lieutenant Robinson, a retired British
officer, found in one of the walls of the old French fort at
Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, a stone inscription dated
1606. Lieutenant Robinson gave it to Thomas Chandler
Haliburton, the author of Sam Slick, the Clockmaker, who
handed it over to his son, R. G. Haliburton. Fleming, always
on the lookout for material that would be interesting and
useful to the Canadian Institute, secured the stone from
Mr. Haliburton, and deposited it in the museum of the
Institute.
Of the Institute itself, a few words may be said. The
granting' of a royal charter, in 1851, gave it an assured
standing, and encouraged its members to embark on broader
seas. Union with the Toronto Athenaeum, in 1855, not
only strengthened the membership but gave the nucleus
of a library that has since become one of the strongest
scientific reference libraries in the country. Some years
later the Institute, which had hitherto been in temporary
quarters, moved into its own commodious building. In
1863 a medical section was formed; and about the same
time an entomological section. In 1885 the Natural History
Society joined the Institute, bringing a valuable museum,
and taking up the work of the biological section. The following year five new sections were added, architectural, photographic, philological, historical, and geological and mining ;
also an ornithological subsection of the biological section.
Archaeological work was taken up in 1887, and a splendid
archaeological museum founded ; and in 1888 a sociological
-
 42
SANDFORD FLEMING
committee was formed, which carried out a series of inquiries
into the social and political systems of the Indians of the
Canadian north-west. Some of the sections named later
branched off as independent societies, but the original stimulus came from the parent organization. As already mentioned,
the Institute was, in 1914, honoured by His Majesty the King,
on the recommendation of His Royal Highness the Duke of
Connaught, with the title of f Royal'.
The Royal Canadian Institute has counted among its
members many of the most eminent scholars, scientists, and
statesmen of the country—men of more than national reputation. The character and standing of the society may be
judged from the fact that it has been able to elect to its
presidency such men as Sir William Logan, Sir John Henry
Lefroy, Chief Justice Robinson, William Henry Draper,
Sir Daniel Wilson, and Sir Oliver Mowat. When the Institute celebrated, in 1899, the completion of the first half-
century of its existence, a celebration in which Sandford
Fleming took an active part, it must have given him peculiar
satisfaction to realize that the seed sown in 1849 nacl grown
into a great and vigorous tree. One may fittingly quote the
concluding words of his account, prepared for the occasion,
of the early days of the Institute :
The ' writer vividly recalls', he said, ' the words and acts
of the earnest well-wishers of literary and scientific progress,
with whom he had the happiness to co-operate in establishing
the foundations of this society. It is indeed a high privilege,
at the dawn of a new half-century, to be permitted to allude
to them and pay respectful tribute to their memory. He
feels that he cannot better conclude this brief sketch than
in the words of one who may be regarded as perhaps the
greatest benefactor of the Canadian Institute, the late General
Sir Henry Lefroy: " This society has a dignified, an honourable, and a patriotic object before it; the field is wide and
ready for the harvest, if the labourers are still few; and if
much of that knowledge, contingent upon a thousand advantages never as yet brought within our reach, which alone can
truly appreciate or encourage their exertions, is at a low
 GENESIS OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN INSTITUTE   43
point among us, let us not doubt that it will gain ground
with rapidity, and receive new impulses and new rewards
from every endeavour we make to carry into effect the objects
of our incorporation." To-day the objects before us are not
less dignified, not less honourable, not less patriotic than
when these words were spoken on January 8,1853. The field
is wider, the harvest more advanced, the labourers more
numerous—every advantage has been increased and multiplied during long years of patient progress. The Canadian
Institute unquestionably stands on better vantage-ground
than it did half a century ago. From this new starting-point
are we not encouraged to look forward to greater and greater
usefulness ? May we not anticipate a career in harmony with
the progress of Canada in education, in material advancement, and in every phase of prosperity ? '
And at the semi-centennial meeting, speaking after the
Earl of Minto, Governor-General of Canada, Fleming once
more emphasized the importance of the work accomplished
by the Institute, and to be accomplished, f We recognize ',
he said, ? that every society such as this is a human agency
employed to shape and develop movements for the common
good. On this pleasant planet we find everywhere a field for
such agencies. Each individual member of such societies
is an agent. He is given an opportunity of co-operating with
his fellow members in investigations, in acquiring information, or in assisting in disseminating knowledge obtained.
In one way or another every right-minded person, by becoming a member, can extend a helping hand in promoting the
general advantage. Members of the Canadian Institute have
accepted the opportunity offered them, and we come to
recognize that their united efforts have been crowned with
a full measure of success.
This society, as its name implies, is neither sectional nor
local; it occupies a wide sphere of activity and usefulness.
One of its functions has been to encourage workers in all parts
of Canada, however remote, to induce them to bring forward
the result of their investigations, and, when of sufficient
importance, to publish them.
H
 44
SANDFORD FLEMING For half a century the Institute has diligently followed
its broad, elevated, and patriotic aims. Its published proceedings have regularly found their way to kindred societies
in every civilized country, and by being placed in the great
public libraries of the world they are made accessible to all
peoples. Inquiry into the published proceedings goes to
show that the society has given much attention to questions
of public concern, and by its successful efforts in extending
the domain of knowledge, it has been the means by which
great benefits have been conferred upon the scientific and
general public, both within and without the Dominion.\
Alluding to the fact that he attended the meeting as the
official representative of Queen's University—of which he
had been chancellor since 1880—Fleming reminded his
hearers that he was there not only as the official head of
a Canadian college, but also as one of the pioneers of the
Institute. ' It is my happiness, as an early member of the
Canadian Institute, to bear testimony to the progress made
and the benefits which have resulted from the work which
has been achieved.
' This is the fiftieth annual meeting. There are not many
who can look back with me through the heat and haze of
fifty Canadian summers and the snows of fifty Canadian
winters to the beginning of this society in the year 1849.
The first annual meeting was held on Saturday evening,
December 7, 1850. At that date, the close of the first year
of the society's existence, the membership counted sixty-
four persons. Eight of these early members are still alive,
and of the eight who survive, I am delighted to find in this
assembly three who took an active part in founding the
Canadian Institute so many years ago. I rejoice again to
meet at an annual meeting of the Institute my old-time
co-workers, Kivas Tully and Thomas Ridout, both so closely
identified with its early days. It will suffice if I mention
that in the office of Mr. Tully the Canadian Institute was
cradled, and it was to Mr. Ridout we were under great
obligations in connexion with the securing of the royal
charter.'    Since  these words  were spoken   both   Kivas
 GENESIS OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN INSTITUTE   45
Tully and Thomas Ridout have passed over to the great
majority.
j I am afraid *, he continued,' that I can only feebly and
imperfectly put in words the feeling of genuine thankfulness
we experience in being permitted to see realized the very
sanguine expectations we long ago formed. It is a matter of
profound satisfaction to find our society, after fifty swiftly-
passing years, so prosperous; to see rallying round it so
many distinguished men, and to be privileged to bear witness
to its development and progress in the presence of the representative of our Most Gracious Sovereign the Queen.
' It is fitting that the society should celebrate the beginning of a new half-century of useful work. It is proper that
its members should take a retrospective glance at the past,
in order the better to pursue their useful and elevated aims.
To-night we may be said to be taking stock. We are reckoning up the net result of the work in which the busy members
of the Institute have been engaged for fifty years.'
After making a plea for the establishment of a public
museum, and a gallery of historical paintings, in connexion
with the Institute, and referring to the part the Institute
had taken in the movement for a simplification of the system
of reckoning time, he concluded :
' The name which your society bears, the articles of your
charter, indicate the widest range of subjects for discussion ;
they suggest the cultivation of the spirit of investigation in
order that additions to knowledge may be made to the common stock; they invite research in every field ; they admit
of the initiation of desirable movements in matters of general
concern. The publications which have been widely circulated by the Institute, the hundreds of foreign societies
which regularly send their proceedings in exchange, are
memorable evidences that the Canadian Institute has done
much to make known the good name of our country.
■ Young members, this is no ordinary occasion. Entering
on a new half-century, let me remind you that you are the
heirs of fifty years of useful effort. It is for you to keep alive
the lighted torch and pass it on to those who may come after
 46
SANDFORD FLEMING
you. It is for you to bequeath to another generation a
record of work well done.
' In order that Canada may take her place worthily among
the nations making up the British Empire, it is for you to
see that she contributes a generous share of all that is best
in letters, in science, and in art. ^ On you is now placed
a responsibility which I feel sure you will find pleasant to
bear. It rests with you to do all in your power to foster
and promote, as the years roll onward, every agency which
has for its object the advancement of our country and
our race.'
It is not at all too much to say that of the success achieved
by the Royal Canadian Institute, a very material proportion
is due directly or indirectly to the personality and influence
of Fleming. At a meeting of the Institute held January 12,
1907, the following resolution was unanimously adopted :
c Resolved, That the members of the Canadian Institute,
bearing in mind the invaluable services rendered to the
Institute during all the years from its foundation to the
present time by Sir Sandford Fleming, K.C.M.G., LL.D.,
and recognizing the important results of his labours as an
engineer in connexion with the Intercolonial and Canadian
Pacific and other railways, and also in the promotion of
all-round-the-world cable telegraphs and in many other
ways advancing the interests of the British Empire, congratulate him on his reaching his eightieth birthday, and on the
extraordinary measure of health and strength which he
enjoys in advanced years, and express the hope that he may
yet have many more years of unalloyed happiness in store.'
SH>
 CHAPTER IV
BUILDING THE NORTHERN RAILWAY
Three years after the founding of the Canadian Institute
Fleming joined the staff of the Ontario, Simcoe, and Huron
Railroad, afterwards known as the Northern Railway. He
remained ten years with this railway, first as assistant
engineer, and from 1855 to 1863 as chief engineer. Though
comparatively uneventful, these were vitally important
years to the young engineer. He was passing from young
manhood to maturity, passing through the formative period
of a man's life, and as the imaginative side found expression
in the creation of the Canadian Institute, the practical
engineer threw himself heart and soul into the novel problems of a pioneer railway, gaining thereby experience and
breadth of vision for the infinitely larger engineering problems that awaited him in the future.
Before describing briefly the period of his employment
with the Northern Railway, however, a few words may be
said as to his life in and about Toronto, from 1849, when
he returned from Montreal with his commission as a land
surveyor in his pocket, to 1852 when he joined the staff of the
railway. His moderate success with the plans of Peterboro and Cobourg encouraged him to complete a more
ambitious survey of the city of Toronto, which had been
commenced by Mr. J. Stoughton Dennis. A pupil of the
latter, Mr. Charles Unwin, became associated with him in
the undertaking. Mr. Unwin was afterwards appointed city
surveyor of Toronto, which office he continued to fill for
over half a century. Between them they completed the task,
Mr. Unwin measuring ' every house in the then city', and
Fleming plotting the notes and engraving the map on stone.
One must see this plan to get any idea of the patience and
skill required to carry out such a minute piece of engraving.
 48
SANDFORD FLEMING
* i
The scale was twelve chains or 792 feet to the inch,
and every detail was worked out with absolute accuracy,
though much of the effect of the work was lost by reason of
the extremely reduced scale on which the publishers decided
to have the plan plotted.
Having completed the plan of Toronto, Fleming found
leisure for an elaborate survey of Toronto Harbour and
the adjacent shores of Lake Ontario. With characteristic
patience and thoroughness he went out in a boat day after
day for many weeks, taking soundings of every foot of the
harbour, and embodied the results of his labours in an
elaborate plan, the scientific value of which is appreciated
to-day, though it was not at the time. From these data,
and a careful study of the geology of the surrounding district,
he drew certain important conclusions as to the formation
of the harbour and the means that should be adopted for its
preservation and improvement, and these he made public
in a series of carefully thought-out papers.
He was engaged for some months in carrying out surveys
and plans for the Royal Engineers of properties controlled
by the Imperial authorities in the neighbourhood of Toronto ;
and spent a winter in nautical surveys on Lake Huron, from
the Christian Islands to Penetanguishene and Matchadash
Bay. This latter work was done for a projected railway
known as the St. Lawrence and Lake Huron, the principal
object being to secure a satisfactory terminus for the road.
Fleming discovered in what was then known as Hog Bay,
and which he renamed Victoria Harbour, an ideal railway
terminus. Although the then projected railway came to
naught, his judgement has been confirmed, sixty years afterwards, by the selection of this very harbour by the officers
of the Canadian Pacific Railway as the terminus of one of
their new branches. The name has once more been changed,
and henceforth it will be known as Port McNicholl in honour
of the general manager of the railway. On the shores of
this splendid natural harbour, on the 7th of January, 1851,
Sandford Fleming spent his twenty-fourth birthday, sleeping
at night in two or three feet of snow, with no tent, and the
 BUILDING THE NORTHERN RAILWAY
49
thermometer registering 140 below zero, his companions
a dozen Indians and half-breeds.
One other incident of this period of the young man's life
deserves to be mentioned. In an old scrap-book at \ Winter-
holme,' Fleming's home in Ottawa, is preserved a curious
little relic of his industry as an artist and engraver sixty odd
years ago. It is the faded proof of a Canadian postage-
stamp, and beneath it is this note : ' This is the first proof
from the copperplate of the first postage-stamp issued in
Canada, designed by Fleming for the Postmaster-General,
the Honourable James Morris, dated Toronto, February
1851.'    §     flj |.
This same year 1851, which saw Fleming about to enter
upon his first important undertaking as a railway engineer,
was a notable one in the history of railway development in
Canada. In that year Lord and Lady Elgin broke ground at
Toronto for the first Ontario railway—the Ontario, Simcoe,
and Huron; in the same year an act was passed by the
Canadian Legislature providing for the construction of
a main trunk line through the two Canadas ; the Canadian
Railway Committee had under consideration a bill for the
construction of a railway through British North America to
the Pacific Ocean ; the battle royal of the gauges was fought
before the same Committee ; and delegates from the British
North American provinces went to England to arrange for
the construction of the Intercolonial Railway. As the late
George Johnson concisely puts it in his Alphabet of First
Things in Canada, * Thus in 1851 began the movement
which has resulted in the Dominion possessing (a) a general
system of railways numbering (in 1897) 136 ; (b) the Grand
Trunk Railway system, by the amalgamation of twenty-five
of these ; (c) the Canadian Government Railway system ;
(d) the Canadian Pacific Railway system, in which are consolidated twenty-two railways ; ie) seventy-six other separate railway organizations, formed by consolidations of eighty-
nine railways.'
Before returning to Fleming's connexion with the Northern
Railway, it may not be out of place to say a few words here
D
 50
SANDFORD FLEMING
as to the beginnings of the railway movement in what
is now Canada. * The agitation for railways in British
North America', says George Johnson, * began almost as
soon as the success of George Stephenson's railway was
assured. One of the earliest efforts was made in St. Andrews,
New Brunswick, in 1827, two years after George Stephenson
had completed the first railway in England. In 1828 John
Wilson convened a public meeting in St. Andrews to discuss
the question of a railway to Quebec. Four years later Henry
Fairbairn, writing in the United Service Journal, turned the
attention of the British public to the necessity of a railway
system for British North America. He said, " I propose
first to form a railway for wagons from Quebec to the
harbour of St. Andrews, upon the Bay of Fundy—a route
which will convey the trade of the St. Lawrence in a single
day to the Atlantic waters." In consequence of his efforts
an association was formed by the inhabitants of St. Andrews;
explorations were made and reports submitted. In December 1835, a deputation went to Quebec to bring the question
to the attention of the sister province. Resolutions favourable to the undertaking were adopted in the same month
by both Houses of the Lower Canadian Legislature. The
Committees of Trade in Quebec and Montreal appointed
special committees to act in concert with the delegation.
In January 1836 a delegation went to England, carrying
with them a petition to the King. The Nova Scotian Legislature passed a resolution similar to that passed by the
Lower Canadian Legislature, and the Legislature of New
Brunswick passed an act incorporating the St. Andrews and
Quebec Railway Company. The Imperial Government made
a grant of $50,000 to be expended in the exploration and
survey of the proposed line of railway from Quebec to
St. Andrews. This survey was placed under the control of
Captain Yule of the Royal Engineers, and work was begun
on July 23, 1836. At that time the country through
which Captain Yule prosecuted the surveys was held to be
wholly British territory. In 1837, however, the United States
Government made objections to the route proposed, on the
 BUILDING THE NORTHERN RAILWAY       51
ground that they claimed part of the territory. Notification of the fact was given to the Governor-General of Canada
and to the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, and
orders were given by the British authorities to stop work
until the boundary line was settled/
In the meantime a less ambitious railway project had
not only been mooted but made an accomplished fact in
Lower Canada, now the province of Quebec. A charter had
been obtained in 1832 from the provincial legislature for
a railway from Laprairie on the St. Lawrence River, to St.
John's on the Richelieu, under the name of the Champlain
and St. Lawrence Railway. The work was pushed forward,
and on July 23,1836, the first passenger railway in Canada
was formally opened by the Governor-General, Lord Gosford.
The first train consisted of four cars, and they were drawn
by horses, the locomotive ordered for the railway having
proved refractory.
Some further particulars of this first Canadian railway
are given in Prout's Railways of Canada. * The rails', he
says, ' were of wood with flat bars of iron spiked on them,
and from the tendency of this class of rail to curl or bend
upward as the wheels passed over it, it became known as
the " snake rail ". From this awkward peculiarity it often
happened that the rails came into contact with the body of
the cars or other rolling stock, in which case both fared
badly. The first locomotive used on the line was sent from
Europe, accompanied by an engineer who, for some unexplained reason, had it caged and secreted from public view.
The trial trip was made by moonlight in the presence of
a few interested parties, and it is not described as a success,.
Several attempts were made to get the "Kitten"—for such
was the nickname applied to this pioneer locomotive—to
run to St. John's, but in vain; the engine proved refractory,
and horses were substituted for it. It is related, however,
that a practical engineer being called in from the United
States, the engine which was thought to be hopelessly unmanageable, was pronounced in good order, requiring only
" plenty of wood and water ".   This opinion proved correct,
D2
 52
SANDFORD FLEMING
for after a little practice the " extraordinary " speed of
twenty miles an hour was attained/
The Ontario, Simcoe, and Huron was, as has already been
said, the first railway opened in the province of Ontario.
The preliminary work on the road had been undertaken by
an American engineer, H. C. Seymour. In August 1852 the
engineering staff was re-organized, and Frederick Cumberland,
a man combining engineering skill with rare business and
organizing ability, became chief engineer, with Alfred Brunei
and Sandford Fleming as his assistants. The first section of
the road from Toronto to Aurora, thirty miles, was opened
to the public on May 16,1853 ; the next section to Bradford,
on June 13th of the same year ; the line was completed to
Barrie on October nth ; and before the end of the following
year to Collingwood on Georgian Bay. The line had already
been located from Toronto to Barrie before Cumberland
became chief engineer, and the work of construction was
well under way, but it was found necessary to revise much.
of this work so as to make it more permanent and sub*
stantial, and from Barrie to the shores of Georgian Bay the
route had not yet been decided. It was on this new section
of the road that Sandford Fleming was for the most part
engaged in 1852. Five separate routes were surveyed
from Barrie: north-east to Penetanguishene; north-east to
Victoria Bay; north and north-west to Nottawasaga; west
and north to Nottawasaga; and west and north-west to
Collingwood. Finally the last route was decided upon as the
best from an engineering and commercial standpoint.
Collingwood has been mentioned as the terminus of the
route selected for the railway, but as a matter of fact no such
place existed in 1852. A few years before a small settlement
had sprung up on the shores of Georgian Bay, named
Hurontario, after the pioneer road known as Hurontario
Street. The place selected as the terminus of the Ontario,
Simcoe, and Huron Railway was a little west of this, and
was then known as Hen-and-Chickens, on account of the
number of small islands that studded the shore. When
Cumberland, Fleming, E. C. Hancock, Sheriff B. W. Smith,
   •^ite*.
BUILDING THE NORTHERN RAILWAY
and others interested in the proposed terminus, came over
to the bay in 1852, they were met by several residents
of the neighbourhood, and after going over the ground very
carefully, the Hen-and-Chickens was found to be the most
satisfactory point for the terminus and for the town that was
to be.
A local chronicler says that * while stopping at a rock
which peered above the deep snow on the shores of the
harbour, the discussion turned to the name of the new town.
Mr. Cumberland suggested Victoria in honour of the Queen ;
others thought it well to retain the existing name of Hen-
and-Chickens ; while Mr. D. E. Buist offered the name of
Collingwood, already borne by a neighbouring township.
The latter name was accepted as the most suitable/ Thereupon the infant town of Collingwood was christened with
a bottle of wine. In honour of the occasion, Mr. Stephens,
a well-to-do farmer of Nottawasaga, gave a dinner to the
directors and engineers of the railway, and a number of the
prominent settlers of the district, nearly all of whom were
Highlanders. A great dish of haggis stood at one end of the
table, and behind it sat Captain Hancock, looking rather bewildered . As he was about to carve the mysterious dish, some
one at the other end of the board cried out, ' What is that
you have, Hancock?' 'Don't know/ replied Hancock, 'but
it looks to me like a bran mash/ One can picture the indignation of the Highlanders. That the Sassenach should
be ignorant of the greatest of Highland dishes was bad
enough, but that he should dare to compare it to the vulgar
mess fed to cattle was wellnigh intolerable.
A portion of the summer of 1852 had been spent in completing a Une of levels from Toronto north to Barrie. The
work was somewhat tedious, the weather unusually hot, and
the engineers perennially thirsty. On one occasion, says
Fleming, they came to a primitive tavern at Penetanguishene
kept by one Jeffery. Cumberland and he went in, found the
proprietor, and asked what he could give them to drink.
Jeffery produced a decanter of what seemed to be whisky,
and a couple of glasses.   The tired travellers sat down
11
 54
SANDFORD FLEMING
expectantly. The proprietor chatted amiably of the weather..
At length Cumberland's thirst got the bettei of his patience.
' Where's the water ? ' he cried. ' Oh ! * replied Jeffery,
' I'll fetch some from the pump if you wish, but you won't
need much, for I've watered it twice already.'
An even more disastrous attempt to quench their thirst
is associated with the township of York, a few miles north
of Toronto. Plodding along with their instruments, under
a grilling sun, the engineers came in sight of an inviting-
looking farm-house. The idea occurred to them simultaneously that a glass of cool milk would at the moment fulfil all
their earthly desires. The hospitable goodwife invited them
in, showed them into her best room, and went off for a jug of
milk. Cumberland and Fleming sat down in the grateful shade
of the darkened room and waited. Presently the goodwife
returned with a brimming jug of cool, refreshing milk.
She put down the jug and went to a corner cupboard for
glasses. It is well to repeat here that the blinds were down
to keep out the glare of the sun. The glasses were brought
forth, and the milk poured into them. The parched engineers smiled gratefully at their hostess and lifted the
glasses to their lips. One never paused until the last drop
had disappeared. The other got half through, and then
halted irresolutely. He was still thirsty, but there was
a mysterious metallic rattle at the bottom of his glass. He
took it over to the window, held it up to the light, set it down
hastily, and retreated in disorder from the farm-house. The
old lady had poured his milk into the glass in which she kept
her Sunday teeth!
Little incidents like these served to lighten the monotony
of the surveys between Toronto and Barrie. This was
a comparatively settled country, and the work presented no
serious difficulties so far as travelling was concerned. From
Barrie to Collingwood the conditions were very different.
The route lay through an unopened district, with no roads,
and heavy going—brush, rock, and swamp. However, the
surveys were pushed ahead, and by the summer of 1854
trains were running to Barrie and the track laid on to
 «***.
BUILDING THE NORTHERN RAILWAY       55
Nottawasaga. About this time Fleming had important
business to attend to at Collingwood, which demanded
immediate attention. He took the train from Toronto to
Barrie, and rode on a construction engine to the end of rails
then near Nottawasaga Bridge. From there he pushed on
through broken country to Collingwood, a few miles on horseback, and the rest of the way on foot.
On his return journey, on reaching Nottawasaga he found
that the engine had returned to Barrie, and that he had very
little time to get there before the one daily train left for
Toronto. It was imperative that he should not lose a day.
There was nothing for it, however, but to march over the
ties to Barrie, and four miles an hour was about as much as
any man could accomplish on such a road. He started off
at his best speed, and was making fairly good progress with
his eyes glued to the ties. Suddenly a shadow fell across
the track before him, and he looked up hastily to see a huge
bear sitting complacently on his haunches between the rails,
not twenty paces ahead. What was to be done ? Impassable swamp lay on either hand. The bear showed no
signs of moving; seemed in fact to be very comfortable
where she was ; and only mildly interested in the man. So
they faced each other, the bear and the man; the bear in
perfect good humour, but determined to maintain the status
quo; the man, thinking of that waiting train at Barrie,
glared at the bear with rapidly rising indignation. Finally
it boiled over, and, reckless of consequences, he rushed at
the bear, waving his only weapon, an old-fashioned umbrella,
and yelling at the top of his voice. The bear stood his
ground for a moment, and then ignominiously fled into the
swamp. Fleming lost no time in idle reflections as to how it
all happened, or more idle curiosity as to the second thoughts
of the bear. He redoubled his speed over the ties, and caught
the train at Barrie as it was pulling out of the station.
The railway was finally completed from Toronto to Collingwood, and proved a valuable asset to that part of the
province. It subsequently fell into difficulties for a time,
but as its vicissitudes form no part of the life of Sandford
4 *
 56
SANDFORD FLEMING
Fleming, they need not be enlarged upon here. Eventually
it became a portion of the Grand Trunk system. Meanwhile
in 1855 Fleming succeeded Cumberland as chief engineer,
and remained in that position until the close of 1862, when
he finally retired. The following testimonial, dated January
1, 1863, which was accompanied by a collection of signed
photographs of all the principal officers and employees of
the railway, illustrates the cordial relationship that existed
between the chief engineer and his colleagues and subordinates :
' Presented to Sandford Fleming, Esq., C.E., by the officers,
employees and contractors engaged in the construction and
late restoration of the Northern Railway of Canada, as
a token of their respect and admiration for his public character as an engineer, and of their highest esteem and regard
for his private worth as a friend/
In acknowledging the testimonial and the good wishes of
his friends and associates on the railway, Fleming said:
' I need scarcely allude to the cause of my retirement from
the position of chief engineer to the Company. You all
know that I have finished my work, and that such an office
as it was my privilege to fill is now no longer required. It is
one of the misfortunes of the profession to which I am proud
to belong that our business is to make and not to enjoy ; we
no sooner make a rough place smooth than we must move
to another and fresh field, leaving others to enjoy what we
have accomplished. We are, however, satisfied that it should
be so; we take pleasure in having work to do, and a pride in
it after it is done.' In taking leave of the staff, he handed
over to them two relics of the road, which though of no intrinsic value might be worth preserving. The first is a portion of the first sod turned by the Countess of Elgin on
Wednesday, October 15,1851, in front of the old Parliament
buildings in Toronto ; and the second, a piece of the christening bottle used when Collingwood Harbour was named on
Friday, January 14, 1853.
The year that saw his promotion to the position of chief
engineer, was marked by a more important event in the life
 BUILDING THE NORTHERN RAILWAY       57
of Fleming. It has been mentioned in an earlier chapter
that among the young friends who helped to make life pleasant
for him at Peterboro was the daughter of Sheriff Hall.
Friendship had ripened into a warmer sentiment, and on
January 3,1855, Ann Jean Hall became the wife of Sandford
Fleming.
An incident of this period of Fleming's life may be briefly
mentioned, as illustrating another side of his character. In
1861, when the 10th Royals were organized at Toronto, he
was offered a captaincy, but found at first some difficulty in
securing recruits. His company was still under strength,
in fact very much so, when word came that Colonel Wiley
was expected from Quebec to inspect the regiment. Here
was a pretty kettle of fish. Whatever his fellow officers
might do, Captain Fleming at least was determined that
something better than a skeleton company must be forth-
corning before the inspecting officer appeared on the scene.
But Colonel Wiley was due in a very few days. Ordinary
methods of recruiting were out of the question. This was
a desperate situation, and required a desperate remedy.
Putting all other duties aside, the zealous officer made
a personal canvass of every home and workshop in the
neighbourhood containing an able-bodied man. Getting
each man up in a corner, he appealed directly to his local
pride and patriotism. He would listen to no excuses. This
was a case where Canada, where Toronto, where their own
peculiar corner of Toronto, expected every man to do his
duty. His eloquence and enthusiasm carried the day. There
was scarcely an available man that had not been enrolled
in Fleming's company; and when the fateful day arrived,
the proud captain was able to muster some seventy odd men,
where hitherto there had been scarcely more than a baker's
dozen. The other officers, having been less industrious, or
perhaps less ingenious in their methods, glanced with envious
amazement from their own handful to the crowded ranks
of Fleming's company. But more was yet to come. One
of the new recruits, filled with enthusiasm at such a brave
showing, suggested to the captain that a fife and drum band
 58
SANDFORD FLEMING
would lend eclat to the company. He himself could play
the flute, and he undertook to provide a drummer if the
captain would stand the price of a drum. The captain could
and did. When therefore the ioth Royals mustered for
drill in the new drill shed, Captain Fleming proudly marched
his men around the other companies to the music of a fife
and drum band, which made up in energy what it lacked
in numbers. It deserves to be commemorated as the first
volunteer band in the Canadian militia.
The previous year, in connexion with the visit of the then
Prince of Wales, Fleming had proposed the creation of what
was known as the Prince's Walk, on the bank above the
esplanade on Front Street, between Bay and Brock Streets,
the walk to be a mile long, with a double row of trees, walnut
and poplar alternating with spruce. Bishop Strachan,
Sheriff Jarvis, and other prominent citizens of Toronto,
planted the first trees opposite Bishop Strachan's house.
The Colonist, in an editorial commending the project, suggested facetiously that ■ if the fashions in ladies' dresses do
not alter this coming summer from what they were last,
then twenty feet is hardly of sufficient dimensions for the
Walk'. J |
One further incident may be recorded as belonging to this
period of the young man's life. * I was subpoenaed', he says,
' as a witness in a water-power case at Brockville. The
litigants were Coleman and Macdonald: the latter, father of
Charles Macdonald who designed the Poughkeepsie Bridge.
There were some twenty-eight witnesses. The first one called
took an entire day. Thinking with dismay that at that rate
the trial might last twenty-eight days, and very anxious to
get home, I set about finding some shorter road to a settlement. At dinner at the hotel that night I asked my neighbour, who seemed good-natured and communicative, if he
knew anything about the case.
'" I regret to say that I do," he replied. " I am one of the
principals.   My name is Coleman."
' It appeared from further conversation that he and his
opponent had formerly been great friends, but that both
 Ih.
•«**«&
BUILDING THE NORTHERN RAILWAY
59
they and their families had been estranged by reason of
this wretched dispute.
' I asked him if he was anxious to see the case settled
without further litigation.
' Indeed I am," said he.   11 would give a great deal if
it could be arranged."
Will you come and talk it over in my room at
8 o'clock ?" I asked. He promised to do so, and that much
being settled, I went off to make the acquaintance of the
other party to the quarrel, Macdonald. Him I found also
anxious to reach a settlement, thoroughly tired of the whole
business, but inclined to throw the blame on Coleman, with
whom he seemed very indignant. Finally he also agreed to
come to my room at 8 o'clock to talk the matter over. I
was careful not to let either know that I had approached
the other.
' At 8 o'clock sharp, Coleman arrived at my room. I
placed him where he could not be seen from the door. We
chatted for a few minutes, when there was another knock.
I opened the door, let Macdonald in, and immediately locked
the door and put the key in my pocket. Then I turned to
the two men, and gravely introduced one to the other.
Both were, of course, indignant with me, but in view of the
locked door, they decided to make the best of the situation.
I trembled for a moment or two as to the success of my not
altogether unselfish efforts as a peacemaker, but the atmosphere gradually became less frigid, and we dropped into
a reasonably friendly conversation.
' Then when the time seemed ripe, I unlocked the door,
sent a waiter for whisky toddy and biscuits, and we talked
over the vexed question in dispute. As an unprejudiced
outsider I was able to make some suggestions as a basis for
settlement, and finally sat down and wrote out an agreement,
which, after I had read it to them, both men signed, with
I think a sigh of relief. Some one suggested the need of
seals. Lacking the proper material, we used what we had
within reach, and made fairly presentable seals out of chewed
biscuit.   Then, after a final round of toddy, we parted for
 .-"S&r
60
SANDFORD FLEMING
the night. I told them I was tired, and would sleep late
the next morning. Coleman and Macdonald both promised
to show the agreement to their respective counsel in the
morning. By the way, the former was represented by
A. N. Richards, afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of British
Columbia, and the latter by S. H. Blake.
'The following morning I was aroused by an agitated
knock on my door, and found Coleman outside. * The fat's
in the fire!" he cried. " My lawyer says the agreement
won't do at all." Presently Macdonald arrives with a similar
story from his learned counsel.
\" Tut, tut!" I said," of course the lawyers will have none
of it. No doubt from their point of view it's a most irregular and improper proceeding. But take the agreement
into court, both of you, and read it to the judge, telling him
that it is satisfactory to both of you, and that neither of you
care to continue the case at his own expense." They did so,
and the matter was settled in five minutes. The settlement
was left in the hands of a board of arbitrators consisting of
two hydraulic engineers and an umpire.
' Later in the morning I made my way to the station, with
Coleman on one arm and Macdonald on the other, a pro*
cession of thirty or forty witnesses and others following.
Blake and Richards, who evidently regarded me as an
impudent interloper, stood coldly aloof. As the train was
about to start, Coleman put in my hand a letter which
turned out to be a very kind acknowledgement of appreciation and a handsome cheque from each—my first and last
fee as an amateur lawyer.'
 Sandford Fleming in i860
  CHAPTER V
PLEADING THE CAUSE OF THE RED RIVER
f3| COLONY I
In 1863, the year that he severed his connexion with the
Northern Railway, Fleming was asked on behalf of the
people of the Red River Colony to present to the Canadian
and Imperial Governments a memorial praying for the
establishment of means of communication between the
eastern provinces and British Columbia, by way of Lake
Superior, the Red River Country, and the Saskatchewan.
At that time he had not visited the Red River Colony,
but for some years had been a warm advocate of the policy
of building a railway across British North America from the
Atlantic to the Pacific, and as a preliminary measure the
provision of a road from Lake Superior to the Red River
Colony and the mountains. In 1858 he had published
a lecture on the subject, and in 1862 had gone into the
matter more fully in his ' Practical Observations on the Construction of a Continuous Line of Railway from Canada to
the Pacific Ocean on British Territory,' published as an
appendix to Henry Youle Hind's Sketch of an Overland Route
to British Columbia.
Fleming's interest in the transportation problem was
known to James Ross and William Coldwell, proprietors of
the Nor* Wester, then the only newspaper in the colony.
Ross and Coldwell were closely identified with the movement
for connecting Red River Colony with the eastern provinces
by an all-British route, and when the people were casting
about for some one to bring their views to the attention of
the Colonial and Imperial Governments, they at once suggested Fleming.
The Memorial was drawn up, approved at a public meeting,
and sent to Fleming in January 1863. Because of its bearing
en the later history of Canadian transcontinental railways,
 62
SANDFORD FLEMING
with which he was to be so closely identified, it is worth
while to give the document in full:
' The people of the Red River Settlement hereby desire
briefly to set forth their views and wishes in reference to the
proposed opening up of the road from Canada to British
Columbia through the Red River and Saskatchewan region,
and the establishing of a telegraphic line along the same.
' The people of Red River have long earnestly desired to
see the Lake Superior route opened up for commerce and
emigration, and they rejoice to hear of the proposal to open
up a road and establish a line of telegraphic communication
through the interior to British Columbia, entirely within
British territory, believing that such works would greatly
benefit this country, while subserving at the same time both
Canadian and Imperial interests.
$ With reference to that section of the country lying
between this settlement and Lake Superior, it is respectfully
submitted that the difficulties to be encountered in opening
up an easy communication are entirely overrated.
' It is true that this route, for reasons which need not here
be alluded to, has of late years been neglected; yet when the
fact is generally known that this was the regular route by
which the North-West Fur Company imported and exported
heavy cargoes for more than a quarter of a century, and
which the Hudson Bay Company have used more or less
for nearly three-quarters of a century, it must be granted
that the natural difficulties cannot be so great as they are
commonly reported to be.
? We, the people of this settlement, are so anxious to have
a proper outlet in this direction that we are quite prepared
ourselves to undertake at our own expense the opening of
a road from this settlement to Lake of the Woods, a distance
of ninety or a hundred miles, if England or Canada will
guarantee the opening of the section from Lake of the Woods
to Lake Superior.
' From our intimate knowledge of the country lying between this place and the Rocky Mountains, we consider the
project of a road in that direction perfectly practicable at
am
 THE CAUSE OF THE RED RIVER COLONY   63
a comparatively small outlay. At all times during the
summer season, loaded carts go from this place to Carlton,
Fort Pitt, and Edmonton, on the Upper Saskatchewan;
and last summer a party of Canadians, about two hundred
in number (en route to British Columbia), passed over the
same road, and went with their vehicles to the very base of
the Rocky Mountains; clearly showing that along the
whole way there are, even at present, no insuperable obstacles to the passage of carts and wagons. And if, in its
present natural unimproved state, the road is usable, it
must be evident that only a comparatively small outlay will
be requisite to make it all that could be desired.
' The whole country through which the proposed road
would run, almost from Lake Superior to the Rocky Mountains, is remarkably level. The surface of this vast region
is, generally speaking, like the ocean surface in a calm, and
besides being so remarkably level, it is, for the most part, free
from those heavy forests which, in Canada and elsewhere,
cause such delay and expense in road-making. We believe
that a railway could be here laid at a cheaper rate than in
most countries.
' Having thus cursorily alluded to the practicability of
the road, on which point our local knowledge and experience
ought to give our views some weight, and while admitting
the intense interest and satisfaction with which we view the
prospect of a work fraught with so much good to us politically, socially, and commercially, we might be allowed to
point out very briefly the views we entertain regarding its
importance to England and Canada alike.
* Canada would derive great benefit from the Overland
carrying trade, which would spring up immediately on the
establishment of this route, and the constantly growing
traffic of this district and British Columbia would thereafter
be an ever-increasing source of profit.
' Besides this, it may reasonably be presumed that the
people of Central British America, present and prospective,
would prove permanent and liberal customers in the markets of England and Canada.   Be it remembered, moreover
ill I
Hi
1
y
 raarara^H
64
SANDFORD FLEMING
that a vast fur business is carried on in this country, and
that, toward the Rocky Mountains, gold has been discovered
in many quarters. Besides gold there are iron, lead, coal,
petroleum, and other minerals which, together with the rich
fur trade, would prove a source of great wealth, not only to
this country but to Canada ; and although the colonization
and settlement of the vast area of cultivable land would
somewhat curtail the territorial limits of the fur business,
still, the millions of acres north of the fertile tract will, in
all probability, remain a rich fur country for centuries to
come.
' This is the most natural highway by which commerce
and general business with the East could be carried on. It
would be also the most expeditious. And as a result of
such commerce and traffic along this route, Central British
America would rapidly fill up with an industrious loyal
people ; and thus, from Vancouver's Island to Nova Scotia,
Great Britain would have an unbroken series of colonies,
a grand confederation of loyal and flourishing provinces,
skirting the whole United States frontier, and commanding
at once the Atlantic and the Pacific. In this connexion we
feel bound to observe that American influence is rapidly
gaining ground here; and, if action is long delayed, very
unpleasant complications may arise. Thus both politically
and commercially the opening up of this country, and the
making through it of a national highway, would immensely
subserve Imperial interests, and contribute to the stability
and glorious prestige of the British Empire.
* These views the people of Red River desire most respectfully to present for the consideration of the British and
Canadian Governments ; and they earnestly hope that this,
year may witness the formal commencement of operations
with a view to a telegraphic line, and a road from Lake
Superior to this settlement, if not through the whole extent
of country from Canada to British Columbia.'
It will have been seen that the people of the Red River
settlement wanted a road built from Lake Superior to the
Red River, as part of a larger project—a road from Lake
 u
THE CAUSE OF THE RED RIVER COLONY    65
Superior to British Columbia ; and they evidently regarded
this latter road as the preliminary step toward a line of
railway, or a combined rail and water route, that would
eventually traverse British North America from ocean to
ocean. This transcontinental railway scheme was one that
had already engaged the attention of several far-sighted men,
men of big ideas, men who like Sandford Fleming possessed
that rare combination of common sense and imagination
that has been the driving force behind all great public
enterprises. The average man could find in such a project,
at such a time, nothing short of madness ; and the enthusiast
who urged it was branded as a crank. The former, with his
eyes close to the ground, saw only a number of scattered and
struggling colonies, east and west, with an immense wilderness between, practically umnhabited and, as he believed,
uninhabitable. The idea of building a railway, or even a
road, through such a country did not seem to him worthy
of serious consideration. The man of ideas looked into the
future, saw these isolated communities linked together with
a chain of steel, and the uninhabited wilderness part of a
continental dominion peopled from sea to sea. Because
Fleming was a man of big ideas, with a firm faith in the
destiny of his country, he threw himself whole-heartedly
into the project which meant so much to the people of the
Red River settlement.
He first brought the Memorial to the attention of the
Canadian Government, of which John Sandfield Macdonald
was then premier. In forwarding the Memorial, he supported
it with an elaborate statement of his own views on the subject.
! The opening up of a means of easy communication between
Lake Superior and Red River', he said, § might fairly be
advocated as an act of simple justice to our fellow subjects
in that remote settlement, who have been practically exiled
from civilization for more than two generations ; who have
endured hardships of no ordinary description in contending
with many difficulties whilst endeavouring on those vast
plains to cultivate the soil and earn a laborious livelihood;
and who, if they have not increased so rapidly in numbers
E
 66
SANDFORD FLEMING
and importance as other colonists in settlements favoured by
nature and good government, have at least succeeded in
establishing an important nucleus for further colonization.'
Elsewhere he gives an interesting account of the struggling
little colony as it appeared in 1863 : ' The community of
settlers at Red River, isolated in many respects from, and,
until lately, unnoticed by the rest of the world, is now exciting no small degree of attention. The people of Red River
remained tranquil in their solitude so long as the vast areas
to the south of the international boundary line were as wild
and unoccupied as the plains which surround them on all
sides. The progress of their republican neighbours in opening and organizing new territories has, however, awakened
them to a knowledge of their true condition. They have
been silent witnesses of the march of colonization westward
from Lake Michigan across the states of Wisconsin and
Minnesota to Dakota; they have seen an industrious
population reckoned by hundreds of thousands introduced
almost alongside of them, whilst their own settlement scarcely
increases in numbers ; they know that there is nothing in
their own soil and climate to keep them from advancing;
they are satisfied with the richness of the one and the salubrity of the other; but they cannot help feeling mortified
at the strong contrast between the satisfactory progress of
their neighbours, and the absence of prosperity with themselves. Justly or unjustly, they attribute their backward
condition to the sway of the Hudson Bay Fur Company,
and they clamour in a way that cannot be misunderstood,
against a further continuance of a rule which they appear to
believe is the chief hindrance to their progress.
I The settlement was first formed half a century ago by
immigrants from the old country; the population now consists of British-born subjects and their descendants ; they
live and have always lived on British territory, but they are
not yet literally a British colony. They know that they are
subjects of the Queen, and this is their pride ; they desire to
be recognized at the Colonial Office, and this is their ambition ; they wish to have a voice which, as British subjects,
   THE CAUSE OF THE RED RIVER COLONY   67
they claim they have a right to possess, in the management
of local affairs. Had they the powers and privilege of an
ordinary Township Council, they feel that they could do
a great deal towards improving their condition and moulding
their destinies; but this they have not, and this is their
grievance and mortification. Whilst their own settlement is
of fifty years' standing, they see Minnesota and Dakota,
whose boundaries sweep past at the short distance of sixty
or seventy miles, States only of yesterday but already
enfranchised.
\ Practically, too, the people of Red River settlement are
at present cut off from all intercourse with the mother
country except through a foreign state. The old route by
which they had access fifty years ago has, for want of
a small expenditure to keep it open, fallen into disuse; no
wonder then that they grumble at the seeming indifference
of the parent land.'
■ However valuable the possession of a road from Canada
to British Columbia might be considered', he continued,
\ simply as a means of intercourse between these two countries, it is obvious that their great distance apart would be
an insuperable obstacle to its construction, were it not for
the favourable character of the intervening territory of
which the Red River district forms a portion.' He then
proceeded to describe the character of the soil and climate
of the prairie country, and its adaptability for colonization
and settlement, marshalling the evidence of those who had
first-hand knowledge of the country, such as the scientific
officers of the Palliser expedition and the Hind and Dawson
surveys. It is interesting to note the positive statement
of Lorin Blodget, the American climatologist, made half
a century ago, upon purely scientific data, that S the basin
of the Winnipeg is the seat of the greatest average wheat
product on this continent, and probably in the world'.
Blodget's prediction, laughed at in his own day, has since
been amply justified.
In considering the formidable problem of connecting the
Atlantic and Pacific colonies of British North America by
E2
 68
SANDFORD FLEMING
means of a system of transportation, Fleming brought forward an ingenious scheme which he had first advocated
some eight years before, a scheme which he believed would
combine efficiency and economy to a larger extent than any
other plan. The guiding principle of this scheme was that
means of transportation should be neither too far in advance
of population nor on the other hand lag too far behind;
but that it should advance and develop with the population
it was designed to serve. And this principle involved the
idea that means of transportation should follow lines of
evolution, from the pioneer road or trail to the steam railway;
the simple, rough pioneer road alone actually to precede the
settler, while more elaborate and expensive means of transportation were to be developed gradually and systematically
to keep pace with the needs of a growing population. There
was, however, one exception to the evolutionary principle: the
telegraph was not to wait for the railway, but was to be built
at the very beginning, with the territorial or pioneer road.
Applying this ingenious scheme to the continental field
under consideration, Fleming proposed that, in the first
place, careful surveys should be made to ascertain the most
practicable and satisfactory route from ocean to ocean.
Then a simple territorial road should be built along this
route, and a continuous line of telegraph constructed to
connect the existing eastern system with British Columbia,
the wooded districts to be cleared to a width of two chains
along the road to safeguard the telegraph line. The next
stage would be to convert the territorial road to one passable
for wheeled vehicles. In the course of a few years this
improved highway would be transformed into a macadamized
road of the best description. The final stage of progress
would be the building of a railway on the line thus in a great
measure prepared for it.
This was the plan which Fleming proposed as the most
practicable and economical means of meeting the legitimate
demands of the people of the Red River settlement for
transportation facilities, and at the same time laying the
foundations of a transcontinental railway.   Whether or
-——
 THE CAUSE OF THE RED RIVER COLONY
not it would have been a wiser plan than that ultimately
adopted to meet the peculiar political and other needs of
British North America may be a debatable point. At the
same time it may be pointed out that the first transcontinental railway across Canada, the Canadian Pacific Railway,
was not commenced until the year 1881; and it is quite
conceivable that, had Fleming's scheme been adopted in
1863, a territorial road at once constructed across the con-
nentinent with a telegraph line, followed in a few years by
wagon and macadamized roads, and ultimately by the
railway, settlement would have flowed into the West years
before the tide actually turned in that direction, the cost
of the railway would have been enormously reduced, and
the two rebellions in the North-West might have been
avoided altogether. Certainly the scheme, applied to any
locality, would have been much more logical and economical
than the haphazard plan almost invariably adopted in the
eastern provinces, of building pioneer roads in one direction,
replacing these after a time by macadamized roads following
a different route, and finally abandoning these for a railway
laid upon a third route.
' I can scarcely hope', concludes Fleming, ' that the plan
of gradual development herein advocated will satisfy the
precipitate or the impatient,—those, in fact, who would urge
the immediate construction of the road, regardless or ignorant of the cost and the burdens it might in consequence entail
on the country ; yet there are many who, remembering the
tortoise in the fable, will perceive that a slow yet certain
movement will accomplish the desired end with as much
certainty and perhaps more satisfactorily than if the work
was undertaken with the most sanguine hopes of speedy
achievement. It is very doubtful, however, if any one will
on reflection assert that there is really a choice of methods,
that is to say, a fast and a slow one. The line of artificial
highway proposed to be constructed extends over not less
than forty-five degrees of longitude, equal to one-eighth of
the length of a circle of latitude passing entirely around the
globe; the undertaking therefore becomes one of no ordinary
 -•4&y.*g#5&«>-
S#>&3raSfeitJ"'!
BB
SANDFORD FLEMING
magnitude, and when in connexion with it half a continent
has to be redeemed in part at least from a state of wild
nature, some considerable length of time must necessarily
be occupied in the process. Even if it should take a quarter
of a century, it would be equal to an average construction
of one hundred miles of railway a year, as well as the annual
introduction of one hundred thousand emigrants. And,
after all, a quarter of a century is but a brief period in the
history of a country; half that length of time has already
elapsed since the railways of Canada were first commenced,
and yet many are of opinion that it would have been better,
in some respects, had only one-half the extent of existing
lines been yet constructed. As the character of the work
is so colossal, and the condition of the country such as to
debar the idea of undertaking the construction of a railway
through it in the usual way and as an ordinary commercial
enterprise, I am emboldened to think that such a scheme
as I have endeavoured to sketch might form the basis of
a system possessing many recommendations, and which it
is confidently believed might be advantageously adopted in
any attempt to establish a great leading highway through
the vast unoccupied territory between the settlements of
Canada and British Columbia.'
Having brought the memorial of the people of the Red
River settlement to the attention of the Government of John
Sandfield Macdonald, and supported it by his own carefully
thought-out proposals; and having also, by request, submitted the whole matter to the Governor-General, Lord
Monck; Fleming, in accordance with his promise to the
petitioners, sailed for England to lay the scheme before the
Imperial Government.
The Duke of Newcastle was then Colonial Secretary, and
when the matter was brought to his attention he at once
sent for Fleming. The latter called at the hotel where the
Duke of Newcastle had his apartments, and finding a flunkey
in gorgeous livery in the hall, supposed him to be one of the
servants of the Colonial Minister, and asked if the Duke
was at home.
—
 SSSSSSShS I   ^B
THE CAUSE OF THE RED RIVER COLONY   71
f Which duke ? * demanded the resplendent being, in a
lofty voice.    ' My duke is in Norway.'
Fleming meekly explained that he sought the Duke of
Newcastle, and that he had not thought that dukes were
quite so plentiful. The haughty representative of the
absent duke condescended to point the way to the apartments of the Duke of Newcastle, and after encountering
another overpowering doorkeeper, Fleming finally managed to have his card sent in. Somewhat to his surprise,
for he was now prepared for any sort of a rebuff, he was
at once admitted, and found himself in the presence of a
quiet, unassuming gentleman, who welcomed him cordially,
and listened with sympathetic attention to all that he
had to say in regard to the Red River colonists and their
plea for transportation facilities. In his questions and
comments, both in reference to this and to other matters
in Canada, the duke revealed himself as a keen and intelligent
student of public affairs. He had made good use of his
time while travelling through Canada with the Prince of
Wales three years before, and since his return had kept in
close touch with the progress of events on the other side of
the Atlantic.
In so far as its immediate object was concerned, Fleming's
mission to England bore no direct fruit. It was after all
rather a matter for the Canadian than the Imperial Government, and the Canadian Government was not yet alive to
the vital importance of transportation facilities in the
development of that wonderful hinterland beyond the Great
Lakes. Indirectly, however, this mission had results of
far-reaching importance, involving both the transportation
problem in Canada, and also Fleming's own life. It is not
too much to say that the visit to the Duke of Newcastle
was the turning-point in his career. How this came about
will be seen in the next chapter.
 CHAPTER VI
THE BIRTH OF THE INTERCOLONIAL
Fleming returned to Canada in 1863 on the then famous
steamship Great Eastern sailing for New York. Most of the
passengers were citizens of the United States, and as the
Fourth of July found them in mid-ocean it was decided to
celebrate the day in as imposing a fashion as the circumstances would permit. The principal event was a procession
around the decks, in which all the passengers were to take
part. Knowing that Fleming was a British subject, the
organizers of the parade came to him and suggested that it
would be a graceful act if he would agree to carry the United
States flag at the head of the procession.
' I was at the moment', he says, \ in conversation with
a very agreeable gentleman, an American, whose acquaintance I had made in London. On the spur of the moment
I turned to the deputation and said I should be delighted to
carry the flag they referred to or any flag, provided my
friend would agree to support me by carrying the British
flag, and that we would march at the head of the procession.
It was so agreed, and I went off to one of the ship's officers
and arranged with him that my friend was to be equipped
with the very largest British flag available, while I was to
have the smallest American flag on the ship.
Jj The flags were kept out of sight until the procession was
about to start on its triumphant march, and then off we
went with the steward's brass band in front, my companion
(who was a true sportsman) almost buried under the folds
of seven yards of Union Jack, while I marched beside him
waving a diminutive edition of the Stars and Stripes about
the size of a pocket-handkerchief.
f Some twenty years afterwards I happened to be in St.
Paul, Minnesota, and was delighted to find my friend of the
Great Eastern once more in the person of the mayor of that
MM
 THE BIRTH OF THE INTERCOLONIAL
73
city. He was kind enough to invite a number of friends to
meet me at dinner, when he told them, much to their enjoyment, the story of our Fourth of July celebration in mid-
ocean/
Fleming had not long arrived at his home in Toronto
before he received an urgent message from the Premier,
John Sandfield Macdonald, to come down to Quebec, then
the seat of government. Arrived there, he was informed by
Mr. Macdonald that, in accordance with an arrangement
made with the Imperial and other Governments concerned,
it had been decided to carry out at once preUminary surveys
for the proposed Intercolonial Railway between Quebec
and the maritime colonies of New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia. The surveys were to be entrusted to a commission
of three engineers, one appointed by the united provinces of
Upper Canada and Quebec, one jointly by Nova Scotia and
New Brunswick, and the third by the Imperial Government.
Mr. Macdonald added that he (Fleming) was the nominee of
Canada.
No sooner was this decision communicated to the Governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick than Dr. Tupper
representing the former and Mr. Tilley representing the
latter agreed that Fleming should also be their nominee.
The Imperial Government was informed of the joint appointment, and in October 1863 the following dispatch was
received by the Governor-General from the Duke of Newcastle : ' The character of Mr. Sandford Fleming ... is so
unexceptionable... that I am quite ready to avail myself of
his services as the representative of the Imperial Government. Your Lordship will accordingly be pleased to appoint
Mr. Fleming at once to the situation. It is agreeable to me
to feel that by selecting Mr. Fleming as the combined representative of Her Majesty's Government and of the North
American Provinces specially interested in this important
subject much delay has been avoided, and that the wishes of
your Government for the immediate commencement of the
survey have, so far as this appointment is concerned, been
complied with.'
1
 74
SANDFORD FLEMING
&*
As the result therefore of a combination of circumstances,
fortunate alike for the Governments interested and for the
engineer who was to carry out this very important work,
Fleming combined in his own person the commission entrusted with the survey of a route for the Intercolonial
Railway.
Before describing the progress of this undertaking, it may
be well to give a brief account of the movement for the construction of a railway to connect Nova Scotia and New
Brunswick with what was known as the Province of Canada,
or rather, before 1841, as the Provinces of Upper and Lower
Canada. According to the late George Johnson, for many
years Dominion Statistician, the movement dates back to the
year 1827, when in the little town of St. Andrews, New
Brunswick, the project of a railway from that place to the
city of Quebec was first mooted. The first passenger railway
in the world, the Stockton and Darlington line, built by
George Stephenson, had been opened two years before, and
the railway fever had crossed the Atlantic and among other
communities had taken possession of this ambitious town
on the Bay of Fundy. But the fever did not run very high,
or perhaps the time was not ripe for its development. It is
recorded that a public meeting was called in St. Andrews by
one John Wilson, in 1828, to discuss the question, and then
nothing more is heard of a railway until 1832, when Henry
Fairbairn revived the project in an article in the United
Service Journal.
' I propose', he said, ' first to form a railway for wagons,
from Quebec to the harbour*of St. Andrews upon the Bay
of Fundy, a work which will convey the whole trade of the
St. Lawrence in a single day to the Atlantic waters.... Thus
the timber, provisions, ashes, and other exports of the Provinces may be brought to the Atlantic not only with more
speed, regularity, and security than by the River St. Lawrence, but with the grand additional advantage of a navigation open at all seasons of the year ; the harbour of St.
Andrews being capacious, deep, and never closed in the
winter season, whilst the St. Lawrence is unnavigable from
£
 THE BIRTH OF THE INTERCOLONIAL
75
ice from the month of November to May. . . . Another great
line of railways may be formed from Halifax through Nova
Scotia to St. John in the Province of New Brunswick, and
thence into the United States, joining the railways which
are fast spreading through that country This railway will
not only bring to the Atlantic the lumber, provisions, metal,
and other exports of the provinces, but from the situation
of the harbour of Halifax ... it will doubtless command the
whole stream of passengers, mails, and light articles of commerce passing into the British possessions and to the United
States and every part of the continent of America/
Mr. Fairbairn then proceeded to set forth, with remarkable
prevision, the vital importance of railways to the development of the North American continent.
I Indeed,' he said, % if the difficulties and expense of constructing these works in our North American colonies were
tenfold greater, an imperative necessity would exist for their
adoption, if it is desired by the Government of this country
to maintain an equality of commercial advantages with the
neighbouring United States. For the splendid advantages of
the railway system are well understood in that country, where
great navigable rivers are about to be superseded by railways of vast magnitude reaching over hundreds of miles. . . .
Indeed, in no other country will the results of the railway
system be so extensive as in the United States, for it will
armihilate their only disadvantage, inland distance from the
sea ; and it will effect the work of centuries to connect, consolidate, and strengthen that giant territory, lying beneath
all climates and spreading over a quarter of the globe. If
then we would contend with these advantages in our North
American Provinces, it is only by similar works that we can
bring to the Atlantic the agricultural exports of the Colonies,
and secure the stream of emigration, which otherwise with
the f acflity of inland transportation will be rapidly diverted
to the western regions of the United States/
This article reawakened the dormant interest of St.
Andrews; a meeting was called in October 1835, at which
resolutions advocating a line of railway between St. Andrews
 *
76
SANDFORD FLEMING
and Quebec were unanimously carried; the support of
the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, Sir Archibald
Campbell, was sought and obtained; a deputation was sent to
Quebec, where resolutions favourable to the undertaking were
adopted in December by both Houses of the Legislature;
and early in the following year negotiations were opened with
the Imperial Government with the view of securing financial
assistance. In March 1836, the House of Assembly of Nova
Scotia endorsed the project; and the same month a Bill
passed the Legislature of New Brunswick incorporating the
1 St. Andrews and Quebec Railroad Company'. Meantime
the feasibility of the proposed railway had been established
by an exploration of the route designed to be followed ; and
a grant of £10,000 was obtained from the Home Government
for a more careful survey. This work was entrusted to
Captain Yule, R.E., whose report was entirely favourable.
Everything seemed to be moving smoothly,when the whole
project was brought to a standstill by the opposition of the
United States Government, on whose behalf representations
were made to the British Government to the effect that the
proposed railway would run through disputed territory. As
a result of these representations orders were received from
England to discontinue all proceedings for the construction
of the railway until the points in dispute had been settled.
These points involved the boundary between New Brunswick
and Maine, and it took several years to bring them to a final
settlement. Unfortunately, when the Ashburton Treaty was
signed in 1842 it was found that the country west of the
St. John River through which Captain Yule had made his
railway survey in 1837 nao^ been ceded to the United States,
and the project was therefore indefinitely postponed.
The Ashburton Treaty had driven a wedge of foreign territory into the heart of the country lying between New Brunswick and Canada; a direct fine of railway between St.
Andrews, or even St. John, and the city of Quebec, was no
longer possible. It became necessary to consider other routes,
and about 1845 a project was set on foot for a line between
Halifax and Quebec.  This scheme at once gained substantial*
 THE BIRTH OF THE INTERCOLONIAL
77
support on both sides of the Atlantic, among others who were
induced to take an interest in it being Sir Richard Broun,
who was endeavouring to organize a colonization company
in connexion with the revival of the rights of the Baronetage
of Nova Scotia, and who was also interested in the ambitious
project of a continuous fine of steam navigation and railways
through British North America to connect Great Britain with
Japan, China, and India.
Several routes were proposed for the railway. One followed
the line of a suggested military road from Halifax by way of
Truro, the bend of the Petitcodiac, Boiestown, Grand Falls
and Lake Temiscouata. Another, starting from Canso,
joined the first-mentioned fine at Truro. A third, starting
at Halifax, ran to Annapolis, with a line of steamers across
the Bay of Fundy from Annapolis to St. John, and then proceeded up the St. John River to Fredericton and Boiestown.
And a fourth, taking the last-mentioned route to Fredericton,
followed the west bank of the St. John River to Grand Falls.
Lord Falkland, then Governor of Nova Scotia, urged upon
the British Government the desirability of testing the practicability of the scheme and deterrnining the best route by
means of an accurate survey, to be carried out by competent
military and civil engineers. As the result of these representations Mr. Gladstone gave instructions, in June 1846, to
Captain Pipon and Lieutenant Henderson, of the Royal
Engineers, to survey three lines : (1) From Halifax to some
port on the Bay of Fundy whence steamer connexion could
be made to St. John, thence to Fredericton and Grand Falls,
thence by way of Lake Temiscouata to the mouth of the
Rivi&re du Loup, and thence by the south bank of the St.
Lawrence to Levis opposite Quebec. (2) From Halifax to
the bend of the Petitcodiac, thence in a practically direct line
to Grand Falls, and thence as before described to the St.
Lawrence. (3) From Halifax to the bend of the Petitcodiac,
thence keeping to the north-west of Newcastle and Chaleur
Bay, or its vicinity, to the St. Lawrence.
As a result of these surveys, in the course of which Major
Robinson of the Royal Engineers replaced Captain Pipon,
 vmsqmm
7
8
SANDFORD FLEMING
'i
who was drowned in the Restigouche in an attempt to save
the life of a boy in his party, a report was submitted in
August 1848 recommending a route from Halifax to Truro
passing over the Cobequid Mountains, thence by the gulf
shore to the Miramichi River which would be crossed at the
head of tide, thence proceeding by the Nipissiguit River to
Chaleur Bay and along the coast to the mouth of the Meta-
pedia, proceeding up the valley of the Metapedia to the
vicinity of the St. Lawrence, and thence along the south
shore to Riviere du Loup and Levis. The estimate for the
fine was, in round numbers, £5,000,000.
This report of Major Robinson gave a renewed impetus to
the project. It was discussed and approved in the various
provincial legislatures, and an earnest effort was made to
induce the Home Government to grant financial aid, the
united resources of the three provinces being insufficient to
carry through a work of such proportions. The demands on
the Imperial treasury were, however, too numerous and
pressing in 1849 to admit of any measure being submitted to
Parliament for the aid required.
The project therefore remained stationary for a time, but
it was widely discussed in the newspapers and was the subject
of a number of pamphlets, notably that of Major Carmichael-
Smyth in 1849, in which was advocated the utilization of the
surplus labour of the United Kingdom in the construction
not merely of a railway from Halifax to Quebec but of one
from Halifax to the Pacific coast.
In 1851, through the eloquent plea of Joseph Howe, the
Premier of Nova Scotia, the British Government seemed
at last awake to the Imperial importance of the proposed
railway. The Colonial Secretary in a letter to Howe laid
stress on the ' strong sense entertained by the British
Government of the extreme importance, not only to the
Colonies directly interested but to the Empire at large, of
providing for the construction of a railway by which a line
of communication may be established on British territory
between the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and
Canada'.   The Imperial Government was now prepared
   THE BIRTH OF THE INTERCOLONIAL       79
to guarantee the interest on the cost of construction, but
another difficulty appeared. New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia were not merely interested in the project of a railway
from Halifax to Quebec, but they were also interested in
one from Halifax through St. John to Portland, Maine;
indeed, New Brunswick had already promised substantial
financial support to the latter fine. They asked that the
Imperial guarantee should cover this line also, from Halifax
to the international boundary ; but the Colonial Secretary
replied that it would be impossible to ask Parliament to
pledge the credit of the United Kingdom for any object
which was not of importance to the Empire as a whole.
It is impracticable here to trace the rather intricate history
of the Intercolonial Railway project throughout the next
decade. It will be sufficient to say that as the Provincial
Legislatures and the Imperial Government found it impossible to reach common ground, the former determined to go
ahead at their own expense with the construction of such
railways as were most urgently required. In this, however,
the three provinces, Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova
Scotia, acted quite independently, without any unity of plan.
The result was that while between 1852 and 1862 many miles
of railway were built the general project of the Intercolonial
was by no means correspondingly advanced. Finally the
provinces once more entered into negotiations with the Home
Government, and it was eventually agreed that the Imperial
Parliament should be asked to guarantee a loan of £3,000,000
for the Intercolonial Railway subject to certain stipulations,
among others that as a preliminary step surveys should be
carried out and the line proposed to be followed submitted to
and approved by Her Majesty's Government. These are the
surveys which, as already mentioned, the British and Colonial
Governments agreed to entrust to Sandford Fleming.
Early in 1864 he left Quebec for Riviere du Loup, at that
time the terminus of the Grand Trunk Railway, to commence
in the depth of winter a reconnaissance of the country. His
task was to carry a survey south-easterly from Riviere du
Loup through two hundred miles of broken, elevated country,
 8o
SANDFORD FLEMING
covered by a dense forest, destitute of settlements or roads,
to the existing railway connecting St. John and Shediac,
a small town on the Straits of Northumberland. From
Moncton, on this line, the second section of the survey would
run to Truro, the then terminus of the Nova Scotia Railway,
through the Cobequid Mountains. The Chief Engineer and
his assistants had to travel on snow-shoes through this wilderness, and what could not be carried on dog-sleds had to be
borne on men's backs. Provisions, instruments, and equipment, everything in fact, had to be transported in this
primitive fashion, and what was not absolutely indispensable
was of necessity left behind. Spartan simplicity marked the
lives of those engaged on the Intercolonial surveys. Reading
between the brief lines of his diary, jotted down hastily at
the end of a hard day's travel, one gets some idea of the
circumstances under which Sandford Fleming pushed this
survey through from the St. Lawrence to Nova Scotia. Some
thrifty official at Quebec had provisioned the parties with
canned meat left over from the Crimea. Many a time the
surveyors must have wished that it had been providentially
sunk in the Black Sea. Fortunately the country sometimes
afforded fish and small game, with an occasional moose, to
break the monotony of the dubious rations of the army
contractors.
The first Sunday was spent at Riviere du Loup, and the
Chief Engineer with most of his assistants went to the little
Episcopal Church and listened to an edifying sermon. When
it came to the usual time for a collection, the worthy old
rector, seeing an unusual number of people in the pews,
beckoned to his churchwardens and retired with them behind
a screen, which did duty for the vestry. The rector was
somewhat deaf, and the conversation was therefore quite
audible to the waiting congregation, which consisted principally of the members of the survey party. It appeared that
the collection was not an invariable feature of the services in
this little church, being regarded apparently by the regular
attendants as largely a work of supererogation, but on the
present occasion the rector made it clear that it might be
 THE BIRTH OF THE INTERCOLONIAL       81
proper to give the strangers an opportunity of helping along
the good work of the parish. The wardens were dubious,
but the rector somewhat insistent. Finally one of the wardens
thrust his head around the screen and had a good look at
Fleming and his men. Red flannel shirts, homespun trousers,
and rough boots ! One glance was enough. His expression
would have told them at once that they had been examined
and found wanting, but his audible whisper to the rector put
the matter beyond all possible doubt. There was no collection
that day.
From Riviere du Loup Fleming made his way to St. Flavie,
familiar to present-day travellers on the Intercolonial as the
welcome point at which the dining-car is taken on the train.
From here he walked on snowshoes to Lake Metapedia, with
one Alexander Fraser of Pictou. They had small dog-sleds
to carry their supplies drawn by three faithful dogs, Gasp6,
Bruce, and Wallace, Fleming's companions on many a long
journey. A hard day's travel brought them to the north end
of Lake Metapedia, but a supper of trout and partridge, with
a smoke and a chat afterward with an old Scotch settler,
made up for much discomfort. The next day they arrived
at the forks of the Metapedia.
| Left at 7 o'clock,' says the diary, ' after breakfast on
moose muffle and pancakes. Beautiful sunny morning.
Down valley of Metapedia. Sleigh broke down; left it
behind. Arrived at Evans' shanty at noon; travelled n
miles. Evans' shanty say 20 by 15, walls 3 feet high. Contains family, a horse (the first we have seen since Metis),
cocks, hens, and everything living about the establishment;
home-made furniture, and a spinning wheel. On to mouth of
Metapedia, over difficult ground.   Journey to-day 33 miles/
Another day brought them to Dalhousie, where the night
was spent with David Saddler, a surveyor. Saddler had been
through the terrible Miramichi fire of 1825 and could still
recall the days of horror when whole districts were swept
clean of every living thing. For him, however, tfte fire had
not been wholly disastrous. Fortune had enabled him to
save from drowning a young woman who, with others of her
'f
 82
SANDFORD FLEMING
family, had fled to the river as a last refuge. In good time
she became his wife, and took her place at his, own fireside.
From Dalhousie the Chief Engineer drove to Bathurst and
Newcastle, where he received a letter in connexion with the
survey from Dr. Tupper, the Provincial Secretary of Nova
Scotia. From Newcastle he travelled over to Fredericton to
discuss the New Brunswick portion of the work with the
Premier, S. L. Tilley. At the hotel in Fredericton he found
an invitation from the Governor, Arthur Hamilton Gordon
(afterward Lord Stanmore), to dine at Government House.
Having nothing to wear but his grey homespun suit and red
flannel shirt—the same that had so unfavourably impressed
the churchwarden at Riviere du Loup—he begged to be
excused. The Governor, however, would not hear of it, and
urged him to come just as he was. ' You can imagine', says
Fleming, I the sensation I made when I entered the drawing-
room at Government House, filled with ladies in wonderful
toilets and officers in full dress uniform. However, I was
given a charming companion to take in to dinner, and enjoyed myself immensely.'
In Fredericton, then, as now, the capital of New Brunswick,
the Chief Engineer had an opportunity of going over his plans
with the members of the local government, and completing
his arrangements for the various parties in the field.
While there he had a visit one morning from a young man
who introduced himself as Lord Haddo, and asked to be
allowed to accompany one of the survey parties through the
Tobique mountains. ' I immediately discouraged the idea,'
says Fleming,' pointing out to him that in travelling through
such difficult and inaccessible country all provisions and
supplies must be carried on men's backs, and that it would be
impossible to take a traveller or sportsman with the party.
' " But," he replied at once," you misunderstand me. I am
looking for work, not for game. Look at these hands," he
said, holding them out to me. " You can see they are hard
as nails. I have j ust come in from a lumberman's camp where
I have been working and earning $14 a month and my board.
I would be glad to get work on your survey, and I can serve
Il4
 THE BIRTH OF THE INTERCOLONIAL
83
as an axeman as well as any other fellow." | Oh," I said,
" that is quite a different matter. If you are in earnest I can
find you a place with one of the parties." I gave him a letter
to one of the engineers, Mr. Tremaine, who was leaving
Fredericton next morning. The same evening I left for
Quebec by the way I had come.
11 returned to New Brunswick by rail to Boston and the
English mail steamer to Halifax. When I landed from the
Boston steamer I was surprised to find Lord Haddo on the
dock embarking for Liverpool. " Hullo ! " I said, " what
are you doing here. I thought you were at the present
moment working as an axeman on the survey in the Tobique
mountains."
' I expected to be there," he said, " but the very day
you left Fredericton the English mail arrived, and I learned
of the death of my father, and must return at once to Scotland." His father was the Earl of Aberdeen, and my young
friend of the horny hands and the capacity for hard work
had now succeeded to the title.
' He was a man of strong and original views, anxious to
feel that he could make his own way in the world apart from
the accident of birth, and anxious too to gain first-hand
knowledge of the conditions that other men had to face in the
new world.
1 About a year after succeeding to the title he came out to
New Brunswick again, and from there made his way to
Gloucester, on the New England coast, where he joined the
crew of a whaling-ship bound for the South Seas. From the
day he sailed out of Gloucester harbour nothing was ever
heard of him or of the ship and crew. The present Earl of
Aberdeen, for some years Governor-General of Canada,
was a younger brother of the man who went down in the
Gloucester whaler/
F2
i
1
 CHAPTER VII
$
PROBLEMS OF THE SURVEY
The survey for the Intercolonial was divided into two
sections, one extending south-easterly from the St. John-
Shediac Railway then in operation to the town of Truro, at
that time the terminus of the Nova Scotia Railway ; and the
other north-westerly from the St. John-Shediac line to
Riviere du Loup.
By the opening of spring in 1864 a large staff of surveyors
was engaged at various points between Rivi&re du Loup and
Truro, and before the close of that year the country had been
pretty well explored, and more than, one practicable line
established. In fact the report of the survey, made in
February 1865, outlined no less than fifteen different routes,
divided into three groups: Frontier, Central, and Bay
Chaleur. The first, covering three several routes, ran close
to the international boundary between New Brunswick and
Maine. The second, including nine routes, traversed the
central portion of New Brunswick. The third, embracing
three routes, followed the Gulf side of the province. The
distances, between Riviere du Loup and St. John, ranged all
the way from 301 to 486 miles ; and between Riviere du Loup
and Halifax, from 496 to 616 miles.
As the result of these surveys Fleming recommended one
of the routes touching Chaleur Bay, which was subsequently
adopted by the Government. In his historical sketch of the
Intercolonial, published some years later, he reveals the same
breadth of view that has marked his treatment of all the
great national projects with which he has been connected.
1 The Bay Chaleur', he says,' is not only nearly a hundred
and fifty miles nearer than Halifax to Liverpool, but at the
same time it is two hundred and sixty-six miles nearer Montreal than Halifax is. Consequently the selection of a port on
the Bay Chaleur for ocean steamers would shorten the whole
distance between Montreal and Liverpool fully four hundred
 PROBLEMS OF THE SURVEY
miles. Even between Liverpool and New York, one hundred
and sixty miles would be saved by commencing the ocean
passage at the Bay Chaleur/ The day may yet come when
Sandford Fleming's idea of a great ocean port on the Bay
Chaleur will be an accomplished fact; or in place of it, we
may see the fruition of the still more daring project, which he
also put forth at this time.
' The consideration', he says, * of the shortest lines between
America and Europe with reference more particularly to the
conveyance of passengers and mails, pointed to the extension
of the railway system across Newfoundland. The theory was
advanced that there already existed, or that in all probability
there soon would be, sufficient traffic to sustain a daily line
of ocean steamers across the Atlantic. The idea of including
Newfoundland in the scheme of intercommunication, and
making a railway there, a continuation, as it were, of the Intercolonial line, with the prospect of the Island becoming part of
the Federal Union, may have appeared to be visionary. But
nevertheless some advance has been made in that direction.
In the ten years which have elapsed (since Confederation),
Newfoundland has been awakened by the spirit of progress,
and she more thoroughly understands the importance of her
geographical position. Last year the interior of the Island,
scarcely before trodden by the white man, and full of natural
resources, was passed over by a large staff of engineers sent
by her Government to examine the practicability of a railway
from the extreme east to the extreme west. Another decade
may record results such as the chronicler of to-day records of
what has been effected by the Dominion in the last ten years.'
In his report on the Intercolonial Surveys, made in 1865,
eleven years before the above was written, Fleming had outlined his scheme for a Short Ocean Passage.
' Newfoundland, a large island off the mainland of North
America, and Ireland, an island off the European coast,
resemble each other in being similar outlying portions of
the continents to which they respectively belong. Possibly
they may have a more important similarity and relationship,
through the remarkable geographical position which they
 86
SANDFORD FLEMING
hold, the one to the other, and to the great centres of population and commerce in Europe and America
'A glance at the chart of the Atlantic will show that between
Ireland and Newfoundland the ocean can be spanned by the
shortest line Were it possible to introduce the locomotive
into Newfoundland and establish steam communication
between it and the cities of America, a route would be created
from continent to continent having the ocean passage reduced
to a minimum. . . .
' The track of steamers from the British coast to New
York, and to all points north of New York, passes Ireland and
Newfoundland, either to the north or to the south ; the most
usual course, however, is to the south of both islands.
Vessels bound westerly make for Cape Race on the southeasterly coast of Newfoundland; whilst those bound easterly
make Cape Clear on the south-westerly angle of Ireland.
Not far from Cape Race is the Harbour of St. John's, and
near Cape Clear is the Harbour of Valentia ; the one is the
most easterly port of America, the other the most westerly
port of Europe. They are distant from each other about
1,640 miles.'
An essential link in this scheme for a Short Ocean Passage
was a line of railway from St. John's to St. George's Bay or
Port au Port, on the Gulf side of the island. From thence,
steamers would run to Shippigan, at the entrance to the
Bay Chaleur, where a spur from the Intercolonial would give
connexion with the railway systems of America. Such a
combined rail and water route would, Fleming established,
land passengers from London in New York in 171 hours,
or a little over seven days. This was based on a speed of
40 miles an hour on the British railways, 30 miles an hour on
railways in America, and 16J miles an hour for the ocean
passage. That was a reasonable estimate in 1865. To-day
the same route would of course offer a very much quicker
passage. In 1865 the mean average of all passages between
Liverpool and Southampton and New York ranged from
11 days up to 13 days, 9 hours. The advantages in favour of
the proposed Newfoundland route are obvious.
 PROBLEMS OF THE SURVEY
87
The Short Ocean Passage was advocated particularly for
the accommodation of mails and passengers. 'At the present
time (1865) ocean steamers generally carry both freight and
passengers, and in this respect they are like what are termed
" mixed trains " on railways. These mixed trains are employed to serve localities where there is not sufficient passenger
and freight traffic to justify the running of separate trains.
' On railways doing a large business, the traffic is properly
classified ; fast trains are run to carry passengers and mails
only, whilst slow trains are used to convey heavy freight.
A similar classification of ocean traffic may be suggested.
Freight will naturally goby the cheapest mode of conveyance,
while passengers and mails will seek the speediest.
* It is well known that the shape of a steamship, other
things being equal, governs her speed. The shape again
depends upon the load she may be constructed to carry : if
the ship is required only for mails and passengers and such
voyages as require but a small quantity of fuel, she may be
constructed on a model both sharp and light, and thus be
capable of running more rapidly than if built to carry heavy
and bulky loads. A steamship for heavy loads may be compared to a dray-horse, whilst one made specially for passengers
and rapid transit may resemble a race-horse, and like the
latter, the less weight carried the more speed will be made.
I If these views are correct, it is clear that the speed of ocean
steamships might be considerably increased when constructed
for a special purpose/ The modern ' ocean greyhound',
built for mails and passengers, is a remarkable justification
of Sandford Flerning's prediction made half a century ago.
On the point of safety, he shrewdly observes that ' the
portion of a voyage between New York and Liverpool which
seamen least fear is that from Ireland to Newfoundland.
It is well known that the most dangerous part of the whole
voyage is along the American coast between New York and
Cape Race, where thick fogs so frequently prevail; this
coast fine is about 1,000 miles in length, and it has been the
scene of the larger number of the disasters which have
occurred. ... The route which favours increased security from
 8§§§a
EC&3J9B&&GS
88
SANDFORD FLEMING
sea-risks, and which is the shortest in point of time, must
eventually become the cheapest, and in consequence the
most frequented.. . .
' If, as it has been shown, this route would reduce the time
between London and New York some three or four days, and
bring Toronto one-third nearer Liverpool (in time) than New
York is now ; if it would give the merchant in Chicago his
English letters four or five days earlier than he has ever yet
received them ; if it be possible by this proposed route to
lift the mails in London and lay them down in New Orleans
in less time than they have ever yet reached New York, then
it surely possesses advantages which must eventually establish it, not simply as an Intercolonial, but rather as an
Intercontinental line of communication.
' These are purely commercial considerations, and however
important they may be as such, the statesman will readily
perceive, in the project, advantages of another kind. It may
be of some consequence to extend to Newfoundland, as well
as to the other provinces of British America, the benefits of
rapid intercommunication. It will probably accord with
Imperial policy to foster the shipping of the Gulf, and to
encourage the building up of such a fleet of swift steamers as
a daily line across the ocean would require. It must surely
be important to the Empire to secure in perpetuity the control
of the great highway between the two continents. It must be
equally her policy to develop the resources and promote the
prosperity of these Colonies—and to bind more closely, by
ties of mutual benefit, the friendly relationship which happily
exists between the people on both sides of the Atlantic.'
It may be noted here that Fleming was so convinced of the
public advantages of his scheme, and particularly of one of
the principal links—a railway across Newfoundland—that
at his personal expense he employed a party of engineers to
make a survey of the route between St. John's and the Gulf
coast of the island. The route then surveyed was practically
that afterwards adopted for the existing railway.
It is singular enough that, with the almost feverish desire
for quick transatlantic passages in the present age, and the
 PROBLEMS OF THE SURVEY 89
popularity with many travellers of a route which reduces
the ocean trip to a minimum, this route advocated by a
Canadian engineer half a century ago has not yet been
adopted. There is some reason for believing, however, that
before many years have gone by, it will be possible to take
a quick train from Montreal, or New York, to St. John's, Newfoundland, and at St. John's or some other point board an
ocean greyhound for the nearest port on the Irish coast—
thus practically realizing Fleming's dream of a Short Ocean
Passage.
But to return to the Intercolonial. While the surveys
were in progress, in 1864, a political movement of long
standing, and far-reaching importance, was rapidly coming
to a head. In September of that year representatives of
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island,
met in Charlottetown, to enter into negotiations for the
union of the Maritime Provinces. To this conference came
eight members of the Government of the then Province of
Canada, with instructions to urge the larger scheme of a
confederation of British North America. The men of the
upper provinces took the meeting by storm, and it was
decided to hold an interprovincial conference at Quebec in
October. To this convention came such prominent leaders
as John A. Macdonald, Charles Tupper, George Brown,
Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Leonard Tilley, A. T. Gait, Oliver
Mowat, George E. Cartier, and Etienne Tache; the famous
Seventy-Two Resolutions were adopted; the resolutions
were submitted to and received the approval of the Imperial
Government; they were sanctioned by the provincial legislatures ; the London conference met in 1866 and drafted the
British North America Act, which was passed by the Imperial
Parliament the following year; and on July 1, 1867, the
new Dominion of Canada became an accomplished fact.
The sixty-eighth Resolution, adopted at Quebec, provided
that ' the general Government shall secure, without delay,
the completion of the Intercolonial Railway from River du
Loup, through New Brunswick, to Truro in Nova Scotia ';
and on April 12, 1867, the Imperial Parliament passed a Bill
 90 SANDFORD FLEMING
entitled, ' An Act for authorizing a guarantee of interest on
a loan to be raised by Canada, towards the construction of
a railway connecting Quebec and Halifax.' Under the Bill
the funds for the construction of the Intercolonial Railway
were provided, to the extent of £3,000,000 sterling.
An incident in the history of Confederation which has
never yet seen the light, and which is not without interest
and significance, is the visit to St. John and Halifax of
a party of Canadian legislators, in the summer of 1864,
previous to the Charlottetown convention. This momentous
visit was suggested by Fleming, and mainly due to his
personal efforts. The story of the incident cannot be better
told than in his own words.
' One of the men', he says, ' whose friendship I valued
most highly was Thomas D'Arcy McGee. He was then
Minister of Agriculture in the short-lived Tache-Macdonald
administration, and occupied the same position in the succeeding coalition ministry, up to the date of Confederation.
I had many opportunities of meeting him in Quebec, which
was then the seat of government, and we had long and interesting conversations on matters that were then occupying
men's minds. He was a warm advocate of Confederation,
and also took a deep interest in the projected Intercolonial
railway.
' I remember one evening we were discussing the political
situation in the Lower Provinces, and the attitude of the
people there toward the scheme for a general union of
British North America. He could not understand, and was
somewhat impatient with, the indifference of many people
in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to a project which
appealed not only to his judgement, but also, by its very
magnitude, to his quick Celtic imagination.
'"It seems to me ", I said, " that the great obstacle in the
way of union is the fact that the people of the upper and
lower provinces do not know one another, that they are in
fact absolute strangers. I have been for some time moving
from place to place in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia,
and I know that there is as much ignorance there as to this'
glf
— ^~
 PROBLEMS OF THE SURVEY
9i
< tt
t tt-
province and its people as if it were the antipodes ; and I am
not sure that the majority of the people here are any better
off in their knowledge or lack of knowledge of the Maritime
Provinces. There is, as you know, very little communication, and practically no commerce, between Canada and
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The business relations of
the latter are far more with Boston and New York than with
Quebec and Montreal. You who are inland know nothing
of the people down by the sea, and they know nothing of
you. How can there be much sympathy or enthusiasm for
union under such circumstances ? '
I believe you are right," he said.
Tf ", I continued," you want to bring them around to your
views, you must go down amongst them and rub shoulders
with them, talk with them, eat and drink with them. There
is nothing like the brotherhood of knife and fork. Take
some of your best men with you, and particularly take
representatives of the press."
' " That is a good idea," said McGee, " but how can it be
managed ? "
' " I am going down in a few days," I replied, " and believe
I can arrange it. If I send you a telegram, will you do the
rest?" I I §
' " With all my heart," said he.
\ When I arrived in Halifax I saw Dr. Tupper, told him
frankly of my talk with McGee and of the hopes we both
entertained as to the happy results that might follow a social
gathering of a number of representative men from the different colonies. " Now," said I, " the Canadian Parliament
will rise in a few days. Could you not send an invitation to
the Speaker, conveying to the members of the House an
invitation to visit Nova Scotia ? "
' " I heartily agree with everything you have said," he
replied. " I have no doubt that such a visit would result
in a better understanding, and help along the movement
toward the confederation of all the provinces ; but I do not
quite see how it can be arranged, at the present moment.
We must have some excuse for the invitation.   If we were
^
 92
SANDFORD FLEMING
turning the sod of a new railway, or laying the foundation
of a new building, it would be a simple matter to send an
invitation to the legislature in Quebec to come down and
take part in the ceremonies, but there is no such occasion at
present, and I think the matter will have to stand for a
while." | f:
' I was disappointed, but not discouraged. If Nova
Scotia would not take the matter in hand, there was still
New Brunswick. That night I left for St. John, and arriving
there, hunted up the only man I knew, a well-known local
engineer. I told him what I had in mind. " I want someone in authority here to telegraph an invitation to Quebec
to come down and visit St. John.  How can it be managed ? "
'" Easiest thing in the world," he replied cheerily.
" Come with me and we will see the president of the Board
of Trade!" j     '    f
' The latter took the matter up with enthusiasm, and a
telegram was sent the same day, on behalf of the Board of
Trade, to the members of the Canadian Legislature, to pay
a visit to St. John as soon as the House rose. I immediately
sent a private telegram to D'Arcy McGee, asking him to see
that the matter was not neglected.
' The following day I returned to Halifax, and told Dr.
Tupper what had been done in St. John.
' " Oh," he said, " that entirely changes the situation.
Now we can of course invite them to extend their visit to
Halifax. I will have the president of the Board of Trade
send a similar invitation."
' He was as good as his word, the invitation was sent, and,
largely through D'Arcy McGee's influence and enthusiasm,
a large and representative group of Canadian statesmen
visited St. John and Halifax, where they were royally
received. The Canadian representatives, and their hosts
of the Maritime Provinces, found that they had much more
in common than they had ever before imagined,—the press
was well represented—and this social visit eventually had
not a little to do with the successful outcome of the negotiations for Confederation.'
 I*
3^88
PROBLEMS OF THE SURVEY
93
At the beginning of this chapter, something was said as to
the three routes, or rather three groups of routes, surveyed
for the Intercolonial through New Brunswick; and the
final selection of one touching the Bay Chaleur. This
question of the routes, and the economic, miHtary, and
political considerations that governed the choice, occupied
most of Sandford Fleming's attention at this time, and
became the subject-matter of several voluminous reports.
Because of this, and the light it throws upon the peculiarly
roundabout course of the Intercolonial, it may be well to
give a brief account of the circumstances, as they are described
by Fleming in his Historical Sketch of the Intercolonial.
' The location of the line', he says, * being necessarily
confined to British territory, it was forced to make a considerable detour, to avoid entering the State of Maine. Had
no national considerations presented themselves, or had the
boundary been laid down according to the Treaty of 1783,
or even in accordance with the settlement proposed, and,
to some extent, pressed by the United States some years
prior to the Ashburton Treaty, there would have been no
difficulty in securing a direct, eligible route.
1 The railway would in this case, in all probability, have
followed the general course of the route surveyed by Captain
Yule in 1837, as ^ar as the neighbourhood of the river
St. John Owing to certain political influences Captain Yule
was bound by his instructions to pass to the north of Mars
Hill. Thus his line was deflected out of the direct course to
the seaboard ; and it is highly probable that untrammelled
he would have followed a shorter route.
c It is evident from an inspection of the map, and from the
natural features of the country, that lines of railway might
have been projected so as to bring Montreal within 380 miles
of St. Andrews, 415 miles of St. John, and 650 miles of Halifax ; and that the distance from Quebec to St. Andrews
need not have exceeded 250 miles—67 miles less than to
Portland. Fredericton, the seat of local government, would
have been on the main line to Halifax, and distant from
Montreal about 370 miles ; and these lines, moreover, would
 »
94
SANDFORD FLEMING
have been wholly within the limits of the Dominion, had the
international boundary been traced according to the true
spirit and intent of the Treaty of 1783. The distance
between Montreal and Halifax might thus have been
lessened nearly 200 miles. St. Andrews would have taken
the place of Portland as the winter terminus of the Grand
Trunk Railway, and would have commanded, together with
St. John, a traffic now cut off from both places, and centred
at a foreign port. . . .
' If, under such circumstances, an Intercolonial line to
connect the cities of the Maritime Provinces with those
of the St. Lawrence had been constructed, the building
of 250 miles of railway representing an expenditure of
$10,000,000 would have been unnecessary. Great as this
saving would have been, the economy in working it and in
maintenance would have been more important. The direct
line would also have attracted certain branches of traffic
which by the longer route must either be carried at a loss
or be repelled. These considerations render the difference
in favour of the direct line incalculable, and cause the more
regret that the treaty made by Lord Ashburton, which ceded
British territory equal in size to two of the smaller States
of the Union, rendered such a direct line through British
territory for ever impossible/
The contest at first was mainly between the Frontier
route and the Gulf or Northern route. It soon became
apparent, however, that military considerations put the
former out of the running, and the decision narrowed down
to the Central and Northern routes. The only argument
of any weight advanced on behalf of the Central route was
that it would secure a larger amount of through freight to
St. John as a shipping port. On the other hand, it was
urged that the Central route had nothing in its favour which
the Northern route had not, and that the latter possessed
many special advantages over the Central and every other
route. It would pass through much well-settled country
including several important towns and villages; would
traverse many outlets by which lumber was brought down
 PROBLEMS OF THE SURVEY
95
from the interior ; a considerable trade in grain and manufactures was to be anticipated; and the fishing industry
would be encouraged. But behind every other consideration was the governing factor of national defence. The
Northern route' would undoubtedly fulfil the national object
for which the scheme was first originated—the creation of
a safe military road not open to sudden assault either by
land or sea'. Finally the Chief Engineer, after examining
the arguments advanced in favour of each route, placed on
record his opinion that beyond a doubt the line by the Bay
Chaleur was the route to be adopted.
A minor controversy was also carried on for some time as
to the route the railway should follow in Nova Scotia, but
in this case the considerations were merely those of convenience and of serving the interests of certain mining
districts near the Cobequid mountains. Six routes were
examined and reported upon, and it was finally decided
by the Chief Engineer that the one crossing the Cobequid
mountains by the pass at Folly Lake and descending the
northern slope of the hills to Amherst would best accommodate all interests, 'having primary regard to general interests'. Moved by certain local interests, however, the
Government adopted a combination of this and another
route.
1 Thus', says Fleming, ' the controversy was ended; and
hence arose that gigantic and conspicuous sweep which the
railway traveller will observe on the southern flank of the
Cobequid mountains, where the line describes nearly half
a complete circle. So marked is this feature in the location
that the popular voice has applied to it the term, "The
Grecian Bend," which possibly may be retained so long as
the railway endures/
 CHAPTER VIII
BUILDING THE INTERCOLONIAL
Fleming had taken his family to Halifax in 1864, when
he assumed charge of the Intercolonial surveys, and he made
his home there for the next five years. In 1869 the need of
keeping in closer touch with the Government induced him
to move to Ottawa, where he built ' Winterholme'. The
delightful summer climate of Halifax, however, had captivated him, and before moving to Ottawa he had purchased
from Samuel Cunard and others an ideally situated property
on the North-west Arm. Here he built himself a summer
home, ' The Dingle,' and here year after year when he could
do so he escaped for a time from the stress of work and found
rest and solace beside the waters of the Atlantic. From
time to time he added to the property, and many years afterward reduced it again so that he might present a portion
to Halifax as a public park and provide a site for the Memorial Tower dedicated by the Duke of Connaught in 1913.
But this is getting too far ahead.
While the location surveys for the Intercolonial were still
in progress in 1868, the Canadian Government directed the
Chief Engineer to prepare plans and specifications for the construction of the railway. These were submitted to the Privy
Council in November of that year, and with some minor
amendments were adopted. Tenders were immediately called
for the work. About the same time the Government appointed four Commissioners to assume the management of
the railway.
At the first meeting between the Commissioners and their
chief executive officer a sharp divergence of opinion appeared.
Fleming had recommended that all the bridges along the
line of railway should be of iron. The Commissioners were
resolved that they should be of wood.   The Chief Engineer,
 BUILDING THE INTERCOLONIAL
97
1
also, had recommended that the work of construction of the
railway should be by measurement and price, as a schedule
contract. The Commissioners, on the other hand, were
persuaded that each section should be let at a bulk sum for
the whole, and not by a schedule of prices, and insisted on
putting this plan before the Government. Their view was that
the contractor for each section should be held to complete the
work for the amount of his tender, without advance of price
for increase of work, or any deduction for diminution thereof.
Fleming contended that ' the knowledge of the work
required on any section was insufficient to admit of letting
the work for a bulk sum ; that no contractor could exactly
understand the extent of the obligation which he was assuming ; and that contracts let on this system, as matters
then were, would certainly end unsatisfactorily ; and that
difficulties would arise to perplex the engineers, the Commissioners, and finally, the Government. He also pointed
out that all contracts should only be let on known data, but
that if it were deemed advisable to commence construction
before the measurements were completed, and the exact
quantities established, the principle of measurement and
schedule price should be adopted. A contractor would then
perfectly understand that he would only be paid at the
prices in his tender for all the work which he performed,
and for that only/ The Commissioners were sustained by
the Government, but the result justified the contention of
the Chief Engineer. ' Before the expiration of twelve
months, five out of the seven contracts had to be annulled
and relet at a large advance.'
The p battle of the bridges', as it has been called, had
a somewhat different conclusion. ' The position', says
Fleming, ' was one of difficulty. The Chief Engineer was
desirous of avoiding all cause of difference with the Commissioners, but his deliberate opinion was on record. The
ground assumed by him had not been lightly taken, and the
more the subject was considered by him, the more convinced
he felt of the correctness of the principles of construction
which he had advocated.   No argument, however, which he
G
 n Q  BWJlB{tW^8fTQB
98
SANDFORD FLEMING
could advance, appeared to have the least weight with the
Commissioners. They had determined to make certain
changes ; that the recommendations of the Chief Engineer
should be set aside; and that iron should not be used, but
that timber should take its place/
Fleming put the case before the Premier, Sir John Macdonald ; the Commissioners submitted their side ; and the
net result was that the latter were sustained. Five bridges,
however, were exempted from the timber principle. The
following year, 1870, the Chief Engineer returned to the
attack with characteristic Scottish pertinacity. He submitted, for Parliament, an elaborate statement, embodying
the arguments in favour of iron bridges, the cost, and the
ultimate economy. The Commissioners held to their
former opinion ; that is to say, the majority did ; one came
over to the Chief Engineer's side. Their decision in favour
of wooden bridges was again approved by the Privy Council.
In July Fleming wrote a further letter to the Premier, and
in August to the Commissioners. One of them, Mr. Brydges,
replied in a communication to the Privy Council, disputing
the figures of the Chief Engineer and arguing that the fear
of wooden bridges catching fire was groundless. The Chief
Engineer rejoined by proving conclusively the accuracy of
his figures, and by citing two distinct cases of wooden bridges
on the Grand Trunk Railway, under the management of
Mr. Brydges, having been destroyed by fire within a few
weeks of the date of his letter. The Commissioners finally
surrendered at discretion, agreeing that all bridges over
sixty feet span should be of iron. Even this, however, did
not quite satisfy the Chief Engineer. He persisted in his
efforts to have every bridge on the Intercolonial, down to the
smallest span of twenty-four feet, made of iron ; and at last
an Order in Council was passed, in May 1871, to have them
so constructed. ' With the exception', dryly remarks
Fleming, ' of three structures, built of wood by direction of
the Commissioners, against the protest of the Chief Engineer,
all the bridge spans, of whatever width, throughout the line,
have the superstructure of iron/
1 *
 ^Eg^^S
BUILDING THE INTERCOLONIAL
99
Too much space may seem to have been given to a dispute
over technicalities, but the incident is iUuminating as to
the qualities in Fleming that made for success. Time and
again, throughout his long life, he has had to face a situation
in which his own deliberate judgement has been opposed
either by those who happened to be bis official superiors, or
by that unwieldy master which we call the public. Once
firmly convinced that he was right, however, he never surrendered ; and in most cases he won out, though the battle
might be long and stubbornly contested. It may be worth
noting, too, that the building of railways was still in its
infancy in 1870 ; that the Chief Engineer of the Intercolonial
was somewhat in advance of his times; and that his views
have since been completely vindicated.
But while devoting most of his time and thought to the
gigantic task of building the Intercolonial, and thereby
binding together the scattered provinces of British North
America, Fleming was too broad a man to allow even this
important work to absorb all of his energies. He still
maintained his interest in the Canadian Institute ; and even
found time to join the militia. It will be remembered that
in 1861 he had been instrumental in organizing the 10th
Royals in Toronto. Five years later, while living in
Halifax, the threatened Fenian raid from the State of
Maine caused some apprehension, and Fleming immediately
volunteered as a private in one of the regiments. The men
were called out, and reviewed by Sir Hastings Doyle, at
Halifax, but the threatened invasion petered out, and the
Chief Engineer laid down his rifle for more peaceful pursuits.
In 1864 Fleming had been appointed Chief Railway
Engineer by the Government of Nova Scotia, and among
other projects in the province he was charged with the
building of a line of railway from Truro to Pictou. The
policy of the Government, of constructing the road by
a system of small contracts, did not work well, and toward
the end of 1865 the Government in desperation appealed to
Fleming to complete the undertaking, offering him a free
hand as to the method.   Legal and official difficulties arose,
G2
 |Si^§^^^
100
SANDFORD FLEMING
however. Among others, it appeared that the provincial
statute prescribed that the railway should be built under
contract. The Government was at its wits' end. It was of
the utmost importance that the line should be completed
by the end of May 1867, and the only man who seemed
competent to undertake it was the Chief Engineer. Finally,
Fleming was sent for, and asked if he would consent to resign
his office and carry out under contract what he had so far
accomplished as the official engineer. This was an entirely
novel proposition, and one that demanded careful thought.
Considerable capital would be required ; the work involved
was difficult, presenting a number of serious problems ; and
the date fixed for completion left very little time within
which to carry it out. However, Sandford Fleming was
equal to the task, and entered into a contract with the
Government to build the railway within the specified time,
for a specific sum, which sum by the way was $100,000 less
than the original estimate made and submitted by himself
the previous year as Chief Engineer.
His mettle in this new role of contractor was severely
tested. With not much more than a year to complete the
work, favourable weather and other conditions were of
supreme importance. Unfortunately the summer of 1866
was ' unparalleled in this province for rain '. Also Fleming
had certain very definite notions as to how a railway should"
be built, and now that the opportunity was thrust upon him,
and the responsibility rested upon his own shoulders, he
determined to construct a road that would be a credit both
to himself and the province.
It is perhaps unnecessary to say that, having undertaken
a public work, and conscientiously striving to do it worthily,
Fleming was bitterly assailed both in the legislature and in
the newspapers of Nova Scotia, his motives, his honesty, his
methods, the character of his work, all being called in question. With wise self-control, he made no answer to his critics
until May 31, 1867. That was the day appointed for the
completion of the Pictou Railway, and on that very day, in
spite of all difficulties and handicaps, the railway was opened
I
   BUILDING THE INTERCOLONIAL
IOI
for public use. On that same day, also, Fleming issued his
first and only reply to his critics, in the form of a pamphlet,
containing letters and reports, written by engineers of international reputation, who had personally inspected the railway, and gave their opinions thereon in unmistakable
terms. The work, which the local critics had damned root
and branch, is described by the engineers as ' the finest half-
hundred miles of railway in British North America '.
In the late autumn of 1866, Fleming was invited to dine
with the Governor, Sir William Fenwick Williams. Admiral
Hope and several of his officers were also of the party. After
dinner, the Governor expressed a wish to see a new steam
shovel at work on the railway near Halifax. It was a very
stormy day, with a horrible mixture of snow and rain, and
the Governor with some of the officers presently found discretion the better part of valour. But the admiral was
game. ' I'm going, any way ', said he. So off they started,
the admiral and his officers enveloped in oilskins. In spite
of these, they were all soaked to the skin, but thoroughly
enjoyed themselves nevertheless. Lawson, the engineer in
charge of the work, had donned his best suit in honour of
the occasion, and when it came to the question of providing
something dry for Admiral Hope to wear back to Halifax,
nothing remained but Lawson's second-best trousers, which
it appears were much too short. However, he managed to
get into them, and the interesting spectacle was furnished
of Her Majesty's chief naval officer on the North American
station travelling to the provincial capital in a shabby pair
of high-lows and an oilskin jacket.
About this time, or perhaps a year or two later, Fleming
fell victim to the delights of salmon fishing on the Resti-
gouche. In 1868 he leased thirty miles of the river, and had
it all to himself for the next ten years. When the burden
of things threatened to become intolerable, and the season
admitted, he would jump on a train, drive up to his camp
on the Restigouche, and forget all cares and worries in the
tingling hope of a 25-pounder.
Meantime, he was busily engaged pushing to completion
 102
SANDFORD FLEMING
the construction of the Intercolonial. The work did not
proceed without more than one set-back; in fact every year
brought its grist of difficulties ; but these were in the main
purely technical problems, which would not properly find
a place in a book of this nature, and the story of which has
already been very fully told in Fleming's own history of
The Intercolonial. It may not, however, be inappropriate
to complete this chapter in his life by repeating the concluding words in his sketch of the great national railway, to
the surveying and building of which he devoted so many
years of his life.
' The Intercolonial Railway', he says,' owes its existence to
the creation of the Dominion, although it may be said that
neither could have been consummated without the other.
One of the first efforts of united British America has been
the establishment of this line of communication, to make
intercourse possible between the Provinces. It is the railway which brings the Maritime Provinces into connexion
with Central Canada. At each extremity of the wilderness
hitherto unoccupied except by the hunter or the Indian,
and never traversed without difficulty, were found separate
communities, each with the sentiment that all had interests
in common; all equally belonged to the outer Empire of
Great Britain ; all were identified with her glories and
greatness ; all had been devoted to her in the hour of trial;
yet all were denied means of intercommunication, and were
unable to unite for a common purpose. There is no longer
an unpenetrated wilderness to bar the hope of realizing all
the benefits of union. The Provinces are now brought into
daily connexion and association, possessing identity of
political life, with institutions extending equal justice to
all, covered with the ample flag of the Empire, and with
advantages which are unrivalled. If we but prove true to
ourselves, our future prosperity is assured....
' The railway will give easy access to many of the scenes
of the long struggle between France and Britain for the
mastery of the Northern Continent, terminated by the
triumph of Wolfe at Quebec. The record of many of these
 BUILDING THE INTERCOLONIAL
events is still imperfectly written. The naval engagement
on the Bay Chaleur, the fierce contests around the now
grass-grown Forts of Lawrence, Beausejour, and Moncton,
are seldom heard of, but the scenes of these conflicts are
now made accessible; and some future historian may, by
the inspiration of viewing the ground, be induced to perpetuate the events. The expulsion of the Acadians from
their homes, which, Wolfe declared, ' added nothing to the
renown of the King's arms ', we may wish to forget. The
ever-memorable Miramichi fire, half a century ago, still
remembered, might well be entombed in similar oblivion ;
but the tale is to be told, and to be remembered.
i More than three centuries ago, Jacques Cartier, coasting
by New Brunswick, landed on its shores, to abandon them
for an exploration of the great river, with which his memory
is for ever connected. At a still earlier date fishermen from
the Basque Provinces left their Biscayan homes to enrich
their country by the oil and ivory of the walrus, which in
vast herds frequented the Bay Chaleur and the St. Lawrence,
in those early days. Pushing investigation still farther back,
we meet the Indians, who held the country as a possession
from nature. We ask the remnants of this once fierce and
numerous race, and we ask the ethnologist, equally in vain,
whence they came, and from what stock they descended.
The district traversed by the railway is full of suggestive
associations, and cannot fail to awaken the attention and
interest of inquiring minds.
* During the past forty years many public men, conspicuous
in the Councils of the several Provinces, have been identified
with this railway. Of late years another class, less prominent
but more numerous, have been the direct and immediate
instruments in bringing the work to its present completion.
All may feel an honest pride in this connexion, whatever
part they played. Some may have toiled for renown :
others have patiently and silently laboured for duty or for
bread.
; The traveller, who is borne onwards, moving in an hour
a distance which would have taken weeks to traverse through
 BS
104
SANDFORD FLEMING
the tangled forests, scarcely casts a thought on the thousands
of the sons of labour, who toiled so many days and years
in making smooth his path. Prominent in the list are those
who explored the forest, who traced the line, and who directed
the work to its completion. Their professional brotherhood
and official relationship with the writer suggests to him the
duty of placing their names permanently on record.' (This
he did in the Appendix to his book.)
' It appears, from the account of Jacques Carrier's first
voyage, that on the 1st July, 1534, at a point between the
Bay Chaleur and Miramichi, he first planted his foot on the
new continent.
' On the 1st July, 1761, the great Indian Chief, Argimault,
whose race had long warred against the British settlers, met
the authorities at Halifax, and terminated the Indian wars
by declaring perpetual submission to Great Britain, and with
great solemnity buried the hatchet for ever.
' The Dominion came into being exactly 333 years after
the bold navigator of St. Malo landed on the shores of Acadia,
and the anniversary of its birth in the present year marks
another important epoch in the history of the country. On
this day, July 1, 1876, may be chronicled the completion of
the Intercolonial Railway, and the full consummation of the
union of the British Provinces in North America.'
To appreciate the foregoing, one must stand with Sandford
Fleming on the 1st July, 1876, and look back with him some
thirteen years to the day on which he and his devoted little
band of engineers started out into the wilderness to survey
a route for the Intercolonial; follow upward through the
years the history of the work, the obstacles that had to be,
and therefore were, overcome, the difficulties and discouragements that continually taxed the resources and patience of
the Chief and his assistants ; the completion of the surveys,
and the selection of a route; the building of the railway
itself, with an entirely new set of problems to solve and
impediments to patiently overcome; finally the conclusion of the whole work. No one but Fleming himself
can ever know the whole inner history of the Intercolonial,
I
 BUILDING THE INTERCOLONIAL
105
or how much of his own unconquerable personality went into
the work and made possible its successful completion. But
knowing as much as we do, knowing what it meant to the
scattered provinces of Canada in 1876 to find the distance
between them reduced from weeks to hours, and knowing the
tremendous effect of the Intercolonial upon the subsequent
history of the Dominion, we can readily enough stand beside
Fleming on the 1st July, 1876, and, looking upon the completed work, say that it was good.
In submitting his final report to the Honourable Alexander
Mackenzie, at that time Prime Minister and also Minister of
Public Works, Fleming said : ' In placing this volume before
you, I feel that I am performing the last act of duty in the
office I have long held, and that I am separating myself from
a work to the prosecution of which, with many friends and
fellow-labourers, I have devoted for many years the best
energies of my life. A connexion of this kind is not broken
without an effort; but any personal considerations must disappear in view of the completion of a work which realizes the
national aspirations of half a century, by bringing within
a few hours the old fortress of Halifax and the older citadel
of Quebec, and which must form an important section of the
railway destined ere long to extend from east to west through
the entire Dominion/
 L
CHAPTER IX    ,
THE CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
When in 1876 Fleming submitted his final report on the
Intercolonial Railway, which took the form of the very
interesting historical sketch referred to in preceding chapters,
he had already been engaged for five years on an even more
important project.
In 1871 he was offered the position of Engineer-in-Chief
of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He hesitated to accept
the appointment, feeling that the responsibilities of the
Intercolonial were enough for one man to assume, but finally
reluctantly consented on the Government representing it to
him as a matter of public duty. The situation was unusual.
The Canadian Pacific Railway, a gigantic undertaking viewed
even from the standpoint of to-day, was in 1871 a project
without a parallel, or anything approaching a parallel, in
the development of transportation facilities. When one
places oneself in the Canada of 1871 with its sparse population
and undeveloped resources, it is impossible not to admire the
splendid courage of the public men who launched the first
transcontinental railway. With such a task to be carried
through, it is not to be wondered at that the Government of
the day turned to the one Canadian engineer big and broad
and experienced enough to handle it successfully, and that
they would not take a denial.
From 1871, therefore, to 1880, Fleming was engaged in
directing a series of careful surveys for the line of the Canadian
Pacific Railway, and to some extent in building the road.
For five years he filled the dual positions of Chief Engineer of
the Intercolonial and of the Canadian Pacific, and for a portion of that time he was also Chief Engineer of the Newfoundland Railway. No man without his extraordinary mental
and physical vigour could have borne the tremendous strain.
L     !.     '
 THE CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
107
The task was herculean. The building of the Intercolonial
was itself a work of sufficient magnitude, and it must be
remembered that this man brought to every undertaking
a conscientious care that extended to every detail. Yet at
the same time he was planning and personally supervising
the gigantic undertaking of a railway from the Atlantic to
the Pacific, the first transcontinental road in North America,
and at that time by all odds the most formidable railway
project in the world. The work involved surveys through
the extremely difficult country north of Lake Superior,
among the snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains, and
through that veritable sea of mountains that constitutes so
much of the great province of British Columbia. The results
of these surveys must eventually be brought together, and
a route selected for the railway that would under all the
circumstances be most advantageous to the country.
The railway during the period that Fleming was associated
with it was a national project; to all intents and purposes
it was an extension of the Intercolonial to the Pacific Ocean,
designed to link the newly-created provinces of Manitoba
and British Columbia to the rest of the Dominion, to create
a channel of communication east and west, to open up to
settlement the vast fertile areas of the western plains, to
stimulate trade and industry, and to lead to the rapid
development of the entire country. To the individual
provinces it would be a vital factor in their material advancement. To the Dominion it would be a national asset of
inestimable importance. To the Empire it would become
an important link in the chain of communication between
the mother country and her far-flung dependencies.
The project appealed to Fleming as a great and intricate
engineering problem; but even more so as a matter of
national and imperial significance. He was then, as he has
always been, what maybe described as a practical imperialist.
He has dreamed dreams and formulated projects that were
sometimes in advance of his times, but his dreams have never
been impractical, and his projects have always been based
on a firm foundation of common-sense.   Thev have looked
ii
»
j
 
SANDFORD FLEMING
always to the knitting together of the scattered members of
a world-wide empire by creating and improving the means of
communication ; and they have had behind them the conviction that as the greatest obstacle in the way of imperial
consolidation is the ignorance on the part of each community
of the fife and environment and outlook of all the others,
every breach in that wall of ignorance, every advance in the
means of communication, must inevitably make for better
understanding, closer fellowship and the only lasting form
of imperial federation.
The project of a transportation route across British North
America from ocean to ocean was the dream of far-sighted
men for the better part of a century before its realization.
The late George Johnson, in his interesting notes on the
Canadian Pacific Railway, in First Things in Canada,
reminds us that Alexander Mackenzie, the dauntless explorer
who made the first overland journey to the Pacific in 1793,
proposed' to open and establish a commercial communication
through the continent of North America between the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans '; that McTaggart, an engineer
connected with the building of the Rideau Canal in 1829,
had advocated the opening up of a water communication
from Lake Superior to Lake Winnipeg, thence by the
Saskatchewan to the mountains, and by the Columbia to the
Pacific; that Sir Richard Bonnycastle prophesied in 1846,
' We shall yet place an iron belt from the Atlantic to the
Pacific, a railway from Halifax to Nootka Sound'; that
Major Carmichael-Smyth had three years later published
a pamphlet attempting to demonstrate the practicability of
a railway from Halifax to the mouth of the Fraser; and
that in 1851 Joseph Howe said, at a public meeting in
Halifax, ' I believe that many in this room will live to hear
the whistle of the steam engine in the passes of the Rocky
Mountains, and to make the journey from Halifax to the
Pacific in five or six days/ He might have added that
ten years later Thomas D'Arcy McGee, contemplating
the Victoria Bridge from the summit of Mount Royal,
was inspired to predict the day that would see railway
 THE CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
109
trains crossing this bridge on their way to the Pacific.
These are but a few of many writers and public speakers
who at one time or another advocated the establishment of a line of communication through British territory
from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Sometimes the project
contemplated merely a wagon road; sometimes a system
of water communication, or a water route with connecting
portages, a combined water and rail route, finally an all-rail
route from ocean to ocean.
Inevitably there were never wanting those who, for one
reason or another, scouted the idea as impracticable or ridiculous. Probably the most serious of these opponents of the
scheme was Captain Palliser, whose views both as a man of
scientific attainments and because of his personal knowledge
of much of the country to be traversed seemed entitled
to particular consideration. In his Report to the British
Government (1863) he concludes : r The knowledge of the
country on the whole would never lead me to advise a line
of communication from Canada across the continent to the
Pacific exclusively through British territory. The time has
for ever gone by for effecting such an object, and the unfortunate choice of an astronomical boundary line has completely isolated the central American possessions of Great
Britain from Canada in the east, and also almost debarred
them from any eligible access from the Pacific coast on the
west.' The sequel proved, as it has so often done, that even
the most eminent authorities may sometimes go astray in
their deductions.
A year earlier Henry Youle Hind had published his Overland Route to British Columbia, and supported his own
contentions as to the feasibility of the project by the inclusion
of a carefully thought-out paper by Fleming, * Practical
Observations on the Construction of a Continuous Line of
Railway from Canada to the Pacific Ocean on British Territory I to which reference has already been made. This
pamphlet was more or less instrumental in inducing the
people of the Red River settlement, who were deeply concerned in the establishment of such a railway or other means
 no
SANDFORD FLEMING
of communication, to ask Fleming to represent their interests
before the Canadian and British Governments. His efforts
to meet their wishes have already been described in another
chapter. Although they led to no immediate results, so far
as the people of Red River were concerned, they contributed
to the appointment of Fleming as Chief Engineer of the Intercolonial Railway, and eventually, one may venture to say,
to his selection as Engineer-in-Chief of the Canadian Pacific
Railway.
In a lecture delivered as long ago as 1858 he had foreshadowed the very project upon which he was now engaged.
Referring to the then proposed American railway to California, he said:
' In the United States the Pacific Railway has been regarded
for more than ten years as the great practical problem. Two
reasons have effectually prevented its being attempted.
These are, want of means, and the difficulty of settling
upon its proper route. The people could not build it, the
Government could not build it, and it could not be expected
that foreign capitalists would undertake it. To take up
$100,000,000 of capital in the United States for any new
undertaking would be simply impossible. The difficulties
of routes are nearly as conclusive. No less than five have
been proposed, and each in turn warmly urged, and yet all
have grave faults. The extreme Northern is pronounced to
be the best of all, so far as facility of execution is concerned,
but it is admitted that a still better route might be obtained
through British America or north of the 49th parallel/
Of such a route through British territory he says : ' A railway in British America from Fort William on Lake Superior
to Fraser River would be about nineteen hundred miles in
length. For several hundred miles west of Lake Superior the
line would traverse a fine country. It would cross the Red
River of the North near the celebrated Selkirk Settlement,
and would then proceed through a well-watered country by
way of the Moose or Saskatchewan Rivers to the base of the
Rocky Mountains. This great range, which has an elevation
of 10,000 feet in the 41st parallel of latitude, gradually falls
KL
 THE CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
in
off as we go north. It is probable that a pass at an elevation
of not over 6,500 feet could be obtained beyond the sources
of the Saskatchewan. After crossing the Rocky Mountains
and the Columbia River, the coast range of mountains,
another lofty chain, would have to be passed. Throughout
the route there is abundance of coal, while there is no scarcity
of water.
r The growing necessity for the line of railway under notice
will unquestionably enlist English skill and English capital
in its execution. The advantages which it would confer are
too obvious to require pointing out. In going from Liverpool
to Fraser River the continental route would save some
twenty days, the entire journey being made, as it would be,
in seventeen days, while to go via Panama and San Francisco
as at present occupies about forty days.
'A Pacific Railway was until very lately considered, if considered at all, as a wild hallucination, but the time appears
to be rapidly approaching when the great work will be undertaken in sober earnest. Before much time passes away the
question of location will come up, and if we can judge rightly,
England will not be disposed to father an undertaking of
this description on any soil but her own, nor will she rest
satisfied with a means of communication between the two
oceans which will be open only during the summer months.
The Pacific Railway cannot stop short at Lake Superior;
whatever difficulties may exist, the link between that lake
and the Canadian system of railways must be completed.
Let us take a map of North America and hastily glance at the
limits between which this magnificent work must be constructed. There is no difficulty in at once placing one's finger
on certain governing points. The northern bend of Lake
Superior is one, the French River east of Lake Huron is
another. Between these, points the most direct course will
be taken.
; The construction of the Pacific Railway is a work of the
grandest magnitude and perhaps of universal importance.
In regarding such an enterprise we pass at once from the
sphere of ordinary undertakings, for the Pacific Railway
II
 I SS32SfifiBS&&
112
SANDFORD FLEMING
would surpass in every element of magnitude and cost, and
probably also in its physical difficulties and commercial
results, any work ever undertaken by man. It would be of
full two thousand miles length, through a country now uninhabited ; it would cross one of the great mountain ranges
of the globe ; such a work could not be expected to be carried
through for less than $100,000,000.
' British capital will not be wanting on the maturing of a
properly devised scheme to extend in this channel the enterprise of British merchants, to bring nearer to England her
Eastern Empire, to secure to her the perpetuity of her dominion upon this continent, to tie with a band of iron the
interests and the affections of her subjects in Europe, Asia,
and America, to colonize half a continent and to complete
the foundation of her Canadian Empire.'
The young Canadian nation was now undertaking, with
rare courage and foresight, the gigantic task which Fleming
had proposed as an Imperial project in 1858.
Under the terms of union with British Columbia, the
Canadian Government, in 1871, undertook to secure the
construction of a railway connecting the new province with
Eastern Canada. The immediate result of this pledge was
the appointment of Fleming as Engineer-in-Chief of the
Canadian Pacific Railway. The organization of survey
parties was at once taken in hand, and before many months
had gone by these parties were at work toiling through the
vast wilderness of the west, searching for practicable routes.
As already indicated, the most serious problems confronting
the Chief Engineer were presented by the rugged and almost
unknown country north of Lake Superior, the formidable
barrier of the Rocky Mountains, and the wild jumble of
mountains and valleys between the Rockies and the coast.
In his Report on the Canadian Pacific Railway for the
year 1877, Fleming says of that portion of the route lying
between the Ottawa River and Fort Garry (Winnipeg): ' At
the beginning of the survey a large extent of this region was
but little less strange than the mountain region. No civilized
man, so far as known, had ever passed from the valley of the
 THE CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
ii
o
Upper Ottawa through the intervening wilderness to Lake
Superior. The country east and west of Lake Nepigon was
all but a terra incognita. It is true that the chain of lakes
and streams from Thunder Bay to the Lake of the Woods and
Fort Garry, known as the Dawson Route, had been travelled,
but this route was circuitous and much out of the way of
a direct railway line.'
Some idea of the problems that had to be met and overcome
in the preliminary surveys through this country may be
gained from the fact that eleven strong survey parties were
found necessary, the supplies for which had to be transported
through an entirely roadless and sometimes exceedingly
rough region. In fact, the difficulties encountered were so
serious that, in spite of the utmost diligence, months had gone
by before portions of the survey could be actually commenced.
The little already known of the country had led to the conclusion that it was impracticable for railway construction.
Along the north shore of Lake Superior it was known to be
of an ' extremely rough and broken character ; precipitous
granite mountains, intersected by deep valleys, rising in all
directions, with elevations varying from 500 to 1,000 feet
above the level of the lake'. Parties were therefore sent
north of Lake Nepigon, and it was found that the railway
might be constructed there without exceptionally heavy
work or gradients. But as this would involve a considerable
detour, further attempts were made to obtain a line along
the north shore of Lake Superior, and in 1874 this route was
adopted, though it involved numerous tunnels and sharp
curves, the line following in many instances the shores of
deep indenting bays. Any one who has travelled along this
portion of the Canadian Pacific Railway will realize the
difficulties that had to be encountered both in surveying the
route and building the railway.
The selection of a route through British Columbia involved
the examination of many possible lines. These narrowed
down to ten different routes projected from the Yellowhead
Pass, which had been selected as the most practicable road
through the Rocky Mountains.   Two of these terminated at
H
 gSjgjgSgfl ffl&itfe
114
SANDFORD FLEMING
Port Moody, on Burrard Inlet; one extended to Howe Sound;
two ran to Waddington Harbour on Bute Inlet; one to Dean
North Bentinck Arm; two terminated at Kamsquot on Dean
Inlet; one at Triumph Bay on Gardner Inlet; and the last
at Port Essington.
In his 1878 Report, the Chief Engineer says : ' Upon carefully viewing the engineering features of each route, and
weighing every commercial consideration, I am forced to the
conclusion that, if these alone are to govern a selection, if a
decision cannot be postponed until further examinations be
made, if the construction of the railway must at once be proceeded with, the line to Vancouver Island (by way of Bute
Inlet) should for the present be rejected, and that the Government should select the route by the Rivers Thompson and
Fraser to Burrard Inlet/ And in his Report of the following
year, he confirms his previous recommendation; but, to meet
the strong opposition that had developed in British Columbia
to the selection of the Burrard Inlet route, suggests that
additional explorations should be made and more complete
information obtained with regard to the northern country.
These explorations were carried out, and the results communicated to the Government. On October 4, 1879, an
Order in Council was passed ratifying the adoption of the
route by way of the Yellowhead Pass to Burrard Inlet. The
project of a railway to Bute Inlet, and from there across
the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island, which had been
enthusiastically advocated by many people in British Columbia, was shelved for a time ; as well as the suggested line to
Port Simpson through the northern part of the province. The
latter route is substantially that of the Grand Trunk Pacific
Railway. The idea of bridging the Strait of Georgia has been
revived periodically since 1879, ano^ there is no reason to
doubt that before many years it will be possible to travel by
rail from the mainland to Victoria.
In connexion with the selection of Burrard Inlet as the
terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, it is interesting to
note the elaborate report of Major-General Moody on the
various routes through British Columbia, published as Appen-
 THE CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
ii5
dix 10 to the Report on the Canadian Pacific Railway for
1880. General Moody unhesitatingly endorsed Fleming's
selection of the route to Burrard Inlet, and, among other
considerations, recommended it from a military point of
view. ' Burrard Inlet', he says, ' is remarkably adapted by
nature for secure defence against any force by sea. It is
secure from land attacks from the north, and the formation
of the whole neighbourhood southwards to the frontier, and
for many miles eastward, is such that an approach from the
frontier would, under defence, be found all the way a peculiarly troublesome matter by an enemy.'
While serious difficulties had to be overcome in locating
a line for the railway along the north shore of Lake Superior,
and through the maze of mountain ranges and valleys in
British Columbia,the real crux of the whole situation was the
gateway through the Rocky Mountains, and to the solution
of this serious problem the energies of Fleming and his capable
staff of engineers were directed for several years. Previous
explorations, dating back to the days of Alexander Mackenzie,
had established the existence of many passes through the
mountains north of the present international boundary, from
the Kootenay in the south to the Peace in the north. Most
of these were now examined by survey parties, the narratives
of whose expeditions often furnish striking examples of pluck
and endurance under exceedingly trying conditions. Finally
the Yellowhead Pass route was decided upon, leading from
Edmonton west to the upper waters of the Athabaska, by
the Jasper Valley to Yellowhead Pass, thence down the Fraser
to T&e Jaune Cache.
This was the situation in 1880, when Fleming finally
severed his connexion with the Canadian Pacific Railway
surveys. The line as then located extended from Fort William
(eastward the route still remained in some doubt) to the Red
River, which was crossed at Selkirk, with a branch to Winnipeg. West of Red River the original location north of Lake
Manitoba had been abandoned, and the line carried south
of the lake, thence in a general north-westerly direction to
Battleford and Edmonton.   West of Yellowhead Pass the
H2
 n6
SANDFORD FLEMING
route descended the North Thompson to Kamloops, thence
down the Thompson and Fraser Rivers to the Pacific.
Between 1871 and 1880 the work had been carried on by
the Government of Canada as a national undertaking. In
the latter year, however, the great project was handed over
to a private company, headed by George Stephen (now
Lord Mount Stephen) and Donald A. Smith (afterwards Lord
Strathcona), and the route west of Red River was entirely
changed, the line selected running much nearer the boundary,
and crossing the Rocky Mountains by the Kicking Horse
Pass.
In 1872, shortly after he had assumed control of the
surveys, Fleming made his first journey across the continent,
by way of the Yellowhead Pass. In 1883, after he had
severed his connexion with the work, he again crossed from
ocean to ocean, this time by way of the Kicking Horse Pass.
An account of this journey, as well as of the earlier one,
will be given in subsequent chapters.
It will be convenient, however, to describe here the last
dramatic incident in the building of the Canadian Pacific
Railway—the driving of the last spike and the passage of
the first through train in 1885. Fleming was one of the
chief actors in the historic episode, and tells the story.
' On the evening of October 27, when the regular Winnipeg
train left Montreal, a private car, the " Saskatchewan," was
attached, with the design of proceeding to Port Moody, at
that date the terminus, the new city of Vancouver having
no existence. The car contained seven persons ; five came
the whole way from Montreal, one of them joined at Ottawa,
and one on their way to Port Moody. . . . The train
beyond Calgary became a " special" and reached the
western crossing of the Columbia in fifty-six hours after
leaving Winnipeg. The gap, however, was not closed, the
work having been retarded by incessant rains, so the train
could not proceed farther. Early on the morning of the
7th, the junction was verging to completion, and at 9 o'clock
the last rail was laid in its place. All that remained to
finish the work was to drive home one spike.
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 THE CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
ii'
! By common consent, the duty of performing the task
was assigned to one of the four Directors present, the senior
in years and influence, whose high character placed him in
prominence—Sir Donald Alexander Smith. No one could
on such an occasion more worthily represent the company
or more appropriately give the finishing blows which, in
a national sense, were to complete the gigantic undertaking.
' Sir Donald Smith braced himself to the task, and he
wielded the by no means light spike hammer with as good
a will as a professional tracklayer. The work was carried
on in silence. Nothing was heard but the reverberation of
the blows struck by him. It was no ordinary occasion, the
scene was in every respect noteworthy, from the group
which composed it and the circumstances which had brought
together so many human beings in this spot in the heart of
the mountains, until recently an untracked solitude. Most
of the engineers, with hundreds of workmen of all nationalities, who had been engaged in the mountains, were present.
Every one appeared to be deeply impressed by what was
taking place. The central figure in the group was somewhat
more than the representative of the railway company which
had achieved the triumph he was consummating. His
presence recalled memories of the Mackenzies and Mc-
Tavishes, the Stuarts and McGillivrays, the Frasers, Finlay-
sons, McLeods, and McLaughlins and their contemporaries,
who first penetrated the surrounding territory. From his
youth he had been connected with the company which for
so long had carried on its operations successfully from Labrador to the Pacific, and from California to Alaska. To-day
he was the chief representative of that vast organization
which, before the close of the last century, had sent out
pioneers to map out and occupy the unknown wilderness,
and which, as a trading association, is in the third century
of its existence. All present were more or less affected by
a formality which was the crowning effort of years of labour,
intermingled with doubts and fears and oft renewed energy
to overcome what at times appeared unsurmountable
obstacles.   Moreover, was it not the triumphal termination
 ISflBfl iim  trifLr.
118
SANDFORD FLEMING
of numberless failures, the successful solution of the frequently repeated attempts of the British people, ever since
America had been discovered, to find a new route to Asia ?
To what extent the thoughts of those present were turned
to the past, must with that undemonstrative group remain
a secret with each individual person. This much may be
said : to all, the scene was deeply impressive, and especially
to the many hundreds of workmen, who from an early hour
up to the last moment, had struggled to do their part, and
who were now mute lookers-on at the single individual
actively engaged—at one who in his own person united the
past with the present, the most prominent member of the
ancient company of "Adventurers of England," as he was
the representative of the great Canadian Pacific Railway
Company.
- The blows on the spike were repeated until it was driven
home. The silence, however, continued unbroken, and it
must be said that a more solemn ceremony has been witnessed with less solemnity. It seemed as if the act now
performed had worked a spell on all present. Each one
appeared absorbed in his own reflections. The abstraction
of mind, or silent emotion, or whatever it might be, was,
however, of short duration. Suddenly a cheer spontaneously burst forth, and it was no ordinary cheer. The
subdued enthusiasm, the pent-up feelings of men familiar
with hard work, now found vent. Cheer upon cheer followed,
as if it was difficult to satisfy the spirit which had been
aroused. Such a scene is conceivable on the field of hard-
fought battle at the moment when victory is assured.
' Not infrequently some matter-of-fact remark forms the
termination of the display of great emotion. As the shouts
subsided, and the exchange of congratulations were being
given, a voice was heard in the most prosaic tones, as of
constant daily occurrence : " All aboard for the Pacific."
The notice was quickly acted upon, and in a few minutes the
train was in motion. It passed over the newly-laid rail,
and amid renewed cheers sped on its way westward.
i On the same night a telegram was sent to Ottawa and
.', -:•
J
 
THE CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
published in the eastern Canadian newspapers. It ran:
" The first train from Montreal is approaching Yale, within
a few hours of the Pacific coast. The last spike was driven
this morning by Hon. Donald A. Smith at Craigellachie,
in Eagle Pass, some 340 miles from Port Moody. On
reaching the coast our running time from Montreal, exclusive
of stoppages, will be five days, averaging twenty-four miles
per hour. Before long passenger trains may run over the
railway from Montreal to Vancouver in four days, and it
will be quite possible to travel on special occasions from
Liverpool to the Pacific coast by the Canadian transcontinental Une in ten days. All are greatly pleased with the
work done. It is impossible to fully realize that enormous
physical and other difficulties have been overcome with
such marvellous rapidity and with results so satisfactory."
The train arrived at Port Moody the following morning,
November 8. On the succeeding morning the principal
newspapers in England published the substance of the above
telegram, with the additional important fact that the first
through train from Montreal had actually arrived at the
coast.'
 mm
CHAPTER X
OCEAN TO OCEAN IN 1872
In the summer of 1872, Fleming, having carefully examined the reports of his engineers, thought it desirable to
study with his own eyes the main features of the route that
at least tentatively had been selected for the Canadian
Pacific Railway.
Leaving Halifax about the beginning of July, he travelled
to Montreal and Toronto, inspecting as he went the construction work on the Intercolonial, on which over 10,000
men were then employed. At Toronto he was joined by his
son Frank, Dr. Moren of Halifax, John Macoun the botanist,
and Rev. George M. Grant, whose entertaining account of
the expedition, Ocean to Ocean, is largely drawn upon in this
chapter.
From Toronto to Collingwood they travelled over the old
Northern Railway, upon which Fleming had had his first
experience in railway building in Canada. At Collingwood
a steamer was taken to Fort William. An incident of the
trip was the use on Sunday of a special service compiled
the previous year for the Canadian Pacific Railway Survey
parties, at the request of the Chief Engineer, by a committee
of three Ottawa clergymen, representing the Churches of
Rome, England, and Scotland. The steamer finally reached
Thunder Bay on July 22—five days from Collingwood.
From Prince Arthur's Landing the party followed the
Dawson Route, by wagon and canoe, to Fort Garry. Here
saddle-horses were procured, with Red River carts for the
baggage, and the expedition set out over the great plains for
the mountains, travelling by way of Fort Ellice, Fort Carlton,
and Edmonton. On the way they met or passed numbers
of hunting or trading parties, traders going west and half-
breeds returning east with carts well-laden with buffalo-
 OCEAN TO OCEAN IN 1872
121
skins and dried meat. ' A number of Red River people club
together in the spring and go west to hunt the buffalo.
Their united caravan is popularly called a " brigade ", and
very picturesque is its appearance on the road or round the
camp-fire. The old men, the women, and little children are
engaged on the expedition, and all help. The men ride
and the women drive the carts. The children make the
fires and do chores for the women. The men shoot buffalo ;
the women dry the meat and make it into pemmican/
From Edmonton, the route lay over the Rocky Mountains.
by way of the Yellowhead Pass. Fresh saddle-horses were
obtained from the Hudson's Bay Company, and the carts
were abandoned for pack-horses accustomed to the peculiarities of mountain trails. A month out from Fort Garry they
had their first view of the mountains—the foot-hills between
the Athabaska and the McLeod. On the banks of the
McLeod a relic was found of the party of Canadian emigrants
who crossed the mountains in 1862, in the shape of a partly-
obliterated record chalked on the side of a large spruce, and
ending with the significant words ' a hard road to travel'.
September 9 they reached the Athabaska, with the snow-
crowned summits of the Rockies in full view, though still
some fifty miles to the west and south-west.
At the camp that night a curious relic of early days came
to light. ' While hacking with his axe at brush on the
camping-ground, just where our heads would He, Brown
struck something-metallic that blunted the edge of the axe.
Feeling with his hand he drew out from near the root of
a young spruce tree an ancient sword bayonet, the brazen
hilt and steel blade in excellent preservation, but the leather
scabbard half eaten as if by the teeth of some animal. It
seemed strange in this vast and silent forest wilderness thus
to come upon a relic that told, probably, of the old days
when the two rival fur companies armed their agents to the
teeth, and when bloody contests often took place between
them/ The old sword in its rotting scabbard hangs to-day
on the walls of Fleming's home in Ottawa, among other
mementoes of the far west.
 gOE
99 B &£b£H9K"
122
SANDFORD FLEMING
As they continued their journey to the west, the mountains loomed up ever more imposingly across their path,
except ' where cleft in the centre down to their very feet
by the chasm that the Athabaska long ago forced or found
for itself/ . The summits on the north side were serrated
' as the teeth of a saw'. On the other ' the Roche a Myette,
immediately behind the first line, reared a great solid unbroken cube, two thousand feet high, a " forehead bare ",
twenty times higher than Ben An's, and before and beyond
it, away to the south and west, extended ranges with bold
summits and sides scooped deep, and conies far down,
where formerly the wood buffalo and the elk, and now the
moose, bighorn, and bear find shelter.'
The trail presently brought them from higher ground
down to the valley of the Athabaska.. As this noble river
wound through the dark green spruces, amid rose bushes
and vetches, the' soft blue of the mountains gleamed through
everywhere, and when the woods parted, the mighty column
of Roche a Perdrix towered a mile above our heads, scuds of
clouds kissing its snowy summit, and each plication and angle
of the different strata up its giant sides was boldly and clearly
revealed. We were entering the magnificent jasper portals
of the Rocky Mountains by a quiet path winding between
groves of trees and rich lawns like an English gentleman's
park/
Full of enthusiasm, the travellers pushed their way up the
valley, stopping to drink to the Queen from the clear ice-
cold waters of Riviere de Violin, now known as Fiddle Creek,
and famous in the west by reason of the extreme suddenness with which it is transformed from a modest, unassuming
stream to a tempestuous torrent. With towering peaks
about them on every side, they ' could now sympathize with
the enthusiast who returned home after years of absence, and
when asked what he had as an equivalent for so much lost
time, answered: " I have seen the Rocky Mountains "/
They were now beneath the towering front of Roche
a Myette, and recalled the fact that Dr. Hector, who explored the mountains thirteen or fourteen years earlier, had
   OCEAN TO OCEAN IN 1872
12^
climbed 3,500 feet above the valley until stopped by a perpendicular wall that still towered two thousand feet above
him. It was said that the summit had once been reached by
a daring hunter, who gave his name to the peak.
Roche a Myette, rising some 9,000 feet above sea-level,
hardly ranks among the higher peaks of the Rockies, but its
peculiar form and position lend it distinction. As one
travels west by the Grand Trunk Pacific its magnificent
forehead dominates the landscape; and those who journeyed
this way before the advent of the railway had the peak in
view for days, until they began to think that it was bewitched and that they would never win to its base.
The water in the Athabaska being too high for pack-
horses, it was decided to build a raft. On this the baggage
was safely taken across, and a short ride brought Fleming
and his companions to Jasper House, fifteen days after
leaving Edmonton. This old post, supposed to have been
named after a fur-trader named Jasper Howse, had practically been abandoned by the Hudson's Bay Company. In
Dr. Hector's time the main building seems to have been
somewhat pretentious, as he describes it as ' constructed
after the Swiss style, with overhanging roofs and trelissed
porticoes', but all that remained in 1872 were two log houses,
the largest propped up before and behind with rough shores,
as if to prevent it being blown away into the river. To-day
not even these remain to bear witness to the departed glory
of the once famous route of the fur-traders through the
mountains.
' Jasper House is one of the best possible places for seeing
to advantage the mountains up and down the valley. It
is situated on a pretty glade that slopes gently to the Athabaska, sufficiently large and open to command a view in
every direction. Roche a Myette, distant five or six miles, is
half concealed by intervening heights and is here less conspicuous than elsewhere, even when seen from greater distances, but a gleam of sunlight brightens his great face and
makes even it look lightsome. A score of miles to the south
the Pyramid Rock gracefully uplifts its snowy face and
—
 tlite'iTl'i H11B jr B' !9| BS9 ^B i- •
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124
SANDFORD FLEMING
shuts in the valley, the space between being filled by the
mountains of Rocky River and the great shoulders of Roche
Jacques. Looking westerly is Suette (Roche de Smet), his
rampart rising cold, stern, and grey above his furrowed sides.
Other peaks overhang the valley to the north, and between
them deep wooded valleys are dark as night. Separated
from these by the Snake Indian River, the true proportions
of Roche a Bosche are seen for the first time. . . .
' There is a wonderful combination of beauty about
these mountains. Great masses of boldly defined bare rock
are united to the beauty that variety of form, colour, and
vegetation give. A noble river with many tributaries each
defining a distinct range, and a beautiful lake ten miles
long, embosomed three thousand three hundred feet above
the sea, among mountains twice as high, offer innumerable
scenes, seldom to be found within the same compass, to the
artist/
Rounding Jasper Lake, and a smaller lake that lay beyond,
in whose dark green waters the pine-clad ridges were wonderfully reflected, the trail led them through tangles of fallen
timber that made progress very slow for some time. These
stretches of down timber, the result of great forest fires recent
or remote, are the particular abomination of those who have
occasion to travel over "Rocky Mountain trails. In some
places the trunks are piled one upon another to a height of
ten or fifteen feet, until even the marvellous sagacity of the
western pony is at fault and his rider must laboriously cut
a way through with his axe.
' At the end of Jasper Lake a strath from two to five miles
wide, which may still be called the Jasper Valley, bends to
the south. Our first look up this valley showed new lines
of mountains on both sides, closed at the head by a great
mountain so white with snow that it looked like a sheet
suspended from the heavens.' They were told by their
guide that this mountain was known as ' La montagne de la
grande traverse ', and that the road to the Columbia country
by the formidable Athabaska Pass lay along its southeastern base, while their way would turn west up the valley
 OCEAN TO OCEAN IN 1872
12'
of the Myette. The great snow-crowned mountain was
probably that now known as Mount Geikie, one of the highest
and most impressive peaks in this part of the Rockies.
About the middle of September, the party passed the site
of an old trading-post.of the North-West Company known as
Henry House, and camped somewhere near the spot where
the infant town of Jasper is to-day springing up, on the
Grand Trunk Pacific. Here two great routes through the
mountains fork, one leading up the Athabaska to the pass of
the same name, and the other up the Myette to Yellowhead
Pass, or Leather Pass as it was formerly called. Then as
now it was a spot to charm the lover of mountain scenery,
with Pyramid Mountain, streaked and banded with red and
yellow, green and black, on one side, and the pine-clad slopes
of Goat Mountain on the other, while the glittering summits
of Geikie, Hardisty, and other remote peaks filled the horizon.
As they were turning up the Myette, they met Walter
Moberly, one of Fleming's principal assistants on the surveys.
He had travelled from the west to meet his chief, bringing
with him a trail-cutting party who were now at work some
distance up the pass. After a hard and tiresome pull up
through the muskegs and fallen timber of the Myette, they
finally came in touch with the trail party a few miles east of
the summit of the pass, and for a time enjoyed much better
going. I
Camped at the summit of Yellowhead Pass, at an altitude
of only 3,700 feet above the sea, and with the certainty that
no formidable obstacles need be encountered between
Edmonton and the western side of the main range, Fleming
felt that he had solved the greatest problem in connexion
with the route of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and that
the successful completion of the great national project was
now assured. Those who were subsequently responsible for
changing the route through the mountains from the Yellowhead Pass to the Kicking Horse Pass, no doubt had what
they considered good and sound reasons for their choice, but
the fact remains that the route rejected by the Canadian
Pacific Railway has now been adopted by the Grand Trunk
 120
SANDFORD FLEMING
Pacific, and that, in spite of the expenditure by the former
of millions of dollars on tunnels designed to reduce the grade,
the new transcontinental line will still possess a road through
the mountains considerably lower than that of its great rival.
On September 16th, Fleming and his party turned down
the western slope of Yellowhead Pass, and, a few minutes
after parting with the eastward-flowing Myette, heard the
sound of a rivulet running in the opposite direction over
a red pebbly bottom. ' We had left the Myette flowing to
the Arctic Ocean, and now came upon this, the source of the
Fraser hurrying to the Pacific/ At the summit, Moberly had
welcomed them into British Columbia, and they all now
gathered on the banks of the infant Fraser and drank from
its waters to the Oueen and the Canadian Dominion.
A few miles farther down they passed Yellowhead Lake, its
waters clear and sparkling on its firm pebbly beach; and
after a hard day's travel reached the western end of Moose
Lake. The following day brought them to the 1 Grand Fork
of the Fraser', where a tributary that takes its rise in one
of the glaciers at the foot of Mount Robson, joins the main
stream. They camped here for a day to rest their horses,
and in hopes of getting a view of the Giant of the Rockies,
but without success.
• Looking west down the valley of the Fraser, the narrow
pass suddenly filled with rolling billows of mist. On they
came, curling over the rocky stunmits, rolling down to the
forests, enveloping everything in their fleecy mantles. Out
of them came great gusts of wind that nearly blew away our
fires and tents; and after the gusts, the rain in smart showers.
Once or twice the sun broke through, revealing the hill sides,
all their autumn tints fresh and glistening after the rain,
and the line of their summits near and bold against the sky;
all except Robson's Peak which showed its huge shoulders
covered with masses of snow, but on whose high head masses
of clouds ever rested.'
The following day brought the travellers to T6te Jaune
Cache, a spot long famous in the annals of the fur-trade.
The spot, as well as the mountain pass, are supposed to have
   OCEAN TO OCEAN IN 1872
127
taken their name from a fair-haired trader or trapper who
many years before had journeyed to and fro through the
mountains by this route,and had established his head-quarters
at the Cache on the banks of the Fraser.
Here the trail left the Fraser, and turned southerly to the
North Thompson River. The route which Fleming had
taken through the mountains, and which he was now to follow
to the North Thompson and ultimately to Kamloops and
the Fraser again, was the route provisionally selected for
the railway. Incidentally he was following practically in the
footsteps of Milton and Cheadle, who had travelled overland
to the Pacific in 1863, and embodied the incidents of their
journey in that most interesting book of western travel, the
North-West Passage by Land.
A few days later, while plodding along the trail, they were
startled by the sound of a bell. ' In a few minutes a solitary
traveller, walking beside his two laden horses, emerged from
the woods ahead. He turned out to be one John Glen,
a miner on his way to prospect for gold on hitherto untried
mountains and sand-bars. Here was a specimen of Anglo-
Saxon self-reliant individualism more striking than that
pictured by Quinet of the American settler, without priest
or captain at his head, going out into the deep woods or
virgin lands of the new continent to find and found a home.
John Glen calculated that there was as good gold in the
mountains as had yet come out of them, and that he might
strike a new bar or gulch that would pan out as richly
as Williams Creek, Cariboo ; so putting blankets and bacon,
flour and frying-pan, shining pickaxe and shovel on his horses,
and sticking revolver and knife in his waist, off he started
from Kamloops to seek fresh fields and pastures new.
Nothing to him was lack of company or of newspapers ;
short days and approach of winter; seas of mountains and
grassless valleys, equally inhospitable; risk of sickness and
certainty of storms; slow and exhausting travel through
marsh and muskeg, across roaring mountain torrents and
miles of fallen timber ; lonely days and lonely nights ;—if
he found gold he would be repaid.   Prospecting was his
n
——
■si
 128
SANDFORD FLEMING
business, and he went about it in simple matter-of-course
style, as if he were doing business on change. John Glen
was to us a typical man, the modern missionary, the martyr
for gold, the advance guard of the army of material progress.
And who will deny or make light of his virtue, his faith, such
as it was ? His self-reliance was sublime. Compared to
his, how small the daring and pluck of even Milton and
Cheadle! God save thee, John Glen, and give thee thy
reward !'
They were now travelling down the valley of the Thompson,
and it was hard going. ■ It was constant up and down as if
we were riding over billows. Even where the ground was
low, the cradle hills were high enough to make the road undulating. The valley of the Thompson is very narrow for
a stream of its magnitude ; in fact it is a mountain gorge
rather than a valley.' High wooded hills rose on either
side, half-hiding, half-revealing ranges of glittering peaks.
' The forest is of the grandest kind—not only the living
but the dead. Everywhere around lie the prostrate forms
of old giants in every stage of decay, some of them six
to eight feet through, and an hundred and fifty to two
hundred feet in length. Scarcely half-hiding these are
broad-leaved plants and ferns in infinite variety, while the
branchless columnar shafts of more modern cedars tower far
up among the dark branches of spruce and hemlock, dwarfing
the horse and his rider that creep along across their interlaced roots and the mouldering bones of their great predecessors/
The end of September brought Fleming and his party
to Kamloops after a more or less eventful trip down the
banks of the Thompson, passing Grand Canyon and Hell's
Gate, where the waters of the river are forced raging and
boiling through a gap not more than thirty feet wide. Here
they encountered one of the characteristic supply-trains on
its way up to T£te Jaune Cache—fifty-two mules led by a bell-
horse and driven by four or five men representing as many
different nationalities. ' Most of the mules were, with the
exception of the long ears, wonderfully graceful creatures,
Wm
M\h
 OCEAN TO OCEAN IN 1872
129
and though laden with an average weight of three hundred
pounds, stepped over rocks and roots firmly and lightly as if
their loads were nothing/
Not far from Kamloops a visit was paid to one of the winter
homes of the Siwash Indians. ' A deep and wide hole is dug
in the ground, a strong pole with cross sticks like an upright
ladder stuck in the centre, and then the house is built up with
logs in conical form from the ground to near the top of the
pole, space enough being left for the smoke and the inmates
to get out. Robinson Crusoe-like, instead of a door, they
use the ladder, and go in and out of the house during the
winter by the chimney. As this is an inconvenient mode of
egress they go out as seldom as possible; and as the dogs
live with the family, the filth that soon accumulates can
easily be estimated, and so can the consequence, should one
of them be attacked with fever or small-pox. They boast
that these houses are " terrible warm ", and when the smoke
and heat reach suffocation-point their simple remedy is to
rush up the ladder into the air and roll themselves in the
snow for a few minutes. In spring they emerge from their
hibernation into open or tent life ; and in the autumn they
generally find it easier to build a new house or bottle to shut
themselves up in, than to clean out the old one.'
From Kamloops^ Fleming had a comparatively easy journey
down to Lytton, at the junction of the Thompson and the
Fraser, thence to Yale by the famous road, hewn in places
out of the face of the rock hundreds of feet above the bed of
the river; and from Yale down the river by steamer to New
Westminster. A pleasant sail through the Straits of
Georgia, with a brief visit to Bute Inlet, brought the travellers to Vancouver Island and the pretty little city of Victoria
on the 9th October—a little over three months from the day
they left Halifax.
 CHAPTER XI
OVER THE MOUNTAINS BY THE KICKING
T| horse Jjpr.
In the summer of 1883, while in London, Fleming received
a cablegram from the president of the Canadian Pacific
Railway Company, asking him to disentangle a peculiar
situation into which the railway had been brought through
the anxiety of the Company to hasten its construction. At
that time, although the rails were actually laid as far as
Calgary at the eastern entrance to the mountains, there was
as yet no certainty that the railway could be carried through
by the southern route. In fact no white man had yet made
his way across the Selkirk Range from east to west anywhere near the line proposed for the Canadian Pacific
Railway.
Because of his wide knowledge of the general situation in
the west, and of all the known routes through the mountains,
the Company naturally turned to Sandford Fleming to help
them out of the difficulty.
He returned to Canada, and after a conference with the
directors of the Canadian Pacific Railway in Montreal,
started for the west, accompanied as on his former journey of
1872 by his eldest son, and Dr. George M. Grant, who joined
the party at Winnipeg. Their route was by rail to Toronto
and Collingwood, from there by boat to Port Arthur, and
thence by the newly completed line of the Canadian Pacific
Railway to Winnipeg. After making necessary arrangements
there, the journey was continued by rail to Calgary, the
temporary terminus of the road.
Fleming could not fail to be struck with the contrast
between his present journey and that of 1872. ' When
I crossed the continent eleven years ago,' he says, in his
narrative of the present expedition, ' before Winnipeg as
 OVER THE MOUNTAINS BY KICKING HORSE
131
a city had even a name, I left Fort Garry on the 2nd August,
and did not arrive in sight of the mountains until the 7th
September. In that journey we did not spare ourselves
or our horses, for we made over the prairies an average of over
forty miles a day. On the present occasion we left Winnipeg
on Monday morning, to come within sight of the mountains
on Wednesday afternoon. The first journey occupied thirty-
six days, and the last about fifty-six hours !'
The problem now before the travellers was whether or not
they could make their way across the two great ranges that
lay between them and Kamloops, three hundred miles as the
crow flies, but much longer as they must travel, as the route
lay through peculiarly difficult country.
Finally it was decided to go forward, it being understood
that the country had been definitely explored as far at least
as the summit of the Selkirks. Packers were secured, provisions purchased, and the party set out on their long journey.
They had, however, scarcely entered the main range before
disquieting news came from one of the resident engineers.
' He had heard of no one having crossed the Selkirk Range.
Major Rogers had made several attempts to do so, but he
had only so far succeeded as to reach the summit, or one of
the summits, but had not penetrated entirely through the
mountains on a connected line. No one was known to have
passed over from where we stood by the route before us to
Kamloops ; not even an Indian, and it was questionable if it
were possible to find a route which could be followed/
Fleming had no desire to assume the position of an
original explorer, with the prospect of toiling onward for
many days only to find himself in the end confronted by an
absolutely impassable obstacle. It was understood, however, that Major Rogers, who was in charge of exploratory
work for the railway in the mountains, was at the mouth of
the Kicking Horse, and a final decision whether to go forward
or back to Calgary, and around to British Columbia through
the United States, was reserved until his opinion had been
obtained as to the possibilities of the proposed route through
the mountains.
1 2
 13
2
SANDFORD FLEMING
The following day being Sunday was spent comfortably
in the camp of the resident engineer. The weather was
brilliantly clear and invigorating, and all anxiety as to the
future was for the time thrown aside. ' Those living in
cities', says Fleming, 'can with difficulty understand the
effect on the spirits and minds of men away from civilization
of a bright, cheery Sunday. In all well-ordered expeditions
Sunday is a day of rest, and this view alone, denuded entirely
of all religious feeling, which is to some extent dependent
on early education, creates a scene of quiet and repose not
always experienced to the same extent in civilized communities. To one bred like myself in the strict views of the
Presbyterian Church, there is something more than this
sentiment: it is as if you held it a privilege on these remote
mountains to pay homage to the lessons of your youth,
not from the merely mechanical acceptance of them, but
from a heartfelt sense of their truth. I have felt, on such
occasions, a sense of peace and freedom from the carping
cares of life I never could explain; but that the thought
is not peculiar to myself many circumstances have shown.
You seem, as it were, at such times, only to commune with
nature, and to be free from all that is false and meretricious
in our civilization. You are beyond the struggles and petty
personalities of the world, and you feel how really and truly
life is better and happier as it is more simple/
The scene is a memorable one. They are encamped
within the threshold of one of the gateways through the
mountains. ' The sun lit up in warm colours the great mountains encircling the valley. We were surrounded by these
magnificent heights. Our camp was but a few miles distant
from the valley, which leaves Bow River for the Vermilion
Pass. The atmosphere was not so clear as we could wish,
and the distant peaks were invisible. We had, nevertheless,
a remarkable view of the towering battlements to the north,
in themselves so lofty and so near to us, and the details so
intricate that it would be impossible to portray them within
the limits of ordinary canvas.'
To this point they had been driven over a fairly good road,
m
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  OVER THE MOUNTAINS BY KICKING HORSE
133
but, from now on, the trail must be followed on horseback, or
probably sometimes on foot. To harden themselves to the
saddle they therefore spent the latter part of the afternoon
in riding up the valley about twelve miles, between mountains of the grandest description. ' To the south two heights
of great prominence present themselves. They command
a view of the depression leading to the Vermilion Pass.
One of the peaks is crowned with perpetual snow, and is of
striking beauty. The other has a cubical form of summit.
A third, at no great distance, is pyramidal, and so on in every
conceivable variety these mountains tower above us. Westward we see Castle Mountain to our right. The resemblance
to Cyclopean masonry has doubtless suggested the name,
for it is marked by huge masses of castellated-looking work,
with turreted flanks. After passing through a mile of burnt
pine wood at its base, we reach Spillman's camp where we
stay for the night. The fires in the valley are extinguished,
but they are still running up the mountain side, and as night
comes on the flames gleam with a weird light. We soon
wrapped ourselves in our blankets. Although with a certain
sense of fatigue, I could not sleep. My thoughts reverted
to the journey before us. Uncertainty seemed to increase
as we advanced/
The next morning they continue their journey, following
the banks of the Bow River, still a fairly large stream.
Great peaks tower above them on every side. ' One is
crested like a huge camel's back ; one rises to a sharp cone;
a third has the appearance of an extinct volcano, and the
crumbhng edge of the crater reveals the glacier within.'
A day or two later they reach the summit of the Kicking
Horse Pass, and camp there. ' To-night we fall asleep on
the continental " Divide ". Hitherto we have passed over
ground draining to the east. To-morrow we follow a stream
flowing into the waters of the Pacific.'
They are up at half-past five, on a cold sharp morning, the
horses are packed, and they start down the western slope
toward the Columbia.
' It was a rugged and broken path which we entered upon.
 134
SANDFORD FLEMING
To our right two conspicuous twin summits were standing
out in the range. The water of the streams which we were
following was more heard than seen, for the trail exacted
all our attention. Our horses were moving among sharp
broken granite rocks and fallen trees. In about half an
hour we passed by the side of Summit Lake. The northern
mountains were now concealed from view by a forest of
spruce through which we were passing. To the south the
landscape is more magnificent than ever; a bold, rocky
bluff rises thousands of feet directly in front of us, while
mountains of great height, in groups, tower above it to the
right and left. Some of them have crater-shaped peaks
filled with snow. Our progress is slow, and much interfered
with by the pack-horses getting continually off the trail and
losing part of their load.
' We pass the second mountain lake, and about four miles
from our morning camp we reach the third and largest lake,
about a mile in length. We cross the path of a great snow
slide, an avalanche divided into two forks, one about fifty
yards and the other about one hundred and fifty yards wide.
Thousands of trees, two and three feet in diameter, have been
broken into shreds by it, and roots, trunks, and branches, in
a tangled mass, have been swept away, and, with a multitude
of boulders of all dimensions, hurled into the lake to form
a promontory of which three or four hundred feet still remain.
To the south, beyond the lake, the eye rests upon a mighty
mountain, streaked by snow-filled crevices, and reflected
in the bright, glassy lake, presenting to our eyes a most
striking picture. We cross the outlet by fording a stream
some forty feet wide and about sixteen inches in depth.
I looked upon it with no little interest, for it is the stream we
are to follow for some days. There is often a history lying
behind the nomenclature of these waters and peaks, and in
the present instance it is said that Dr. Hector, who accompanied the Palliser expedition, was kicked not far from this
spot. The Indians have translated it Shawata^nowchata-
wapta—Horse-Kicking River.'
So the journey runs day after day, the mountain trail
 ^
OVER THE MOUNTAINS BY KICKING HORSE   135
sometimes high up on the mountain side and again following
the gravel banks of the river. The morning's start is made
in all kinds of weather, sometimes clear, oftener dull, and
again in drenching rain. One day they set out in the midst
of a dense fog. ' The mist hung like a thick curtain, concealing everything not directly near the camp-fire. But we
start; the six pack-horses in front with their loads standing
out from their backs, giving the creatures the appearance
of so many dromedaries. Dave rides ahead with the bell-
horse, then the pack-horses follow, and the horsemen bring
up the rear to see that none stray behind. Our journey this
day was over exceedingly rough ground. We have to cross
gorges so narrow that a biscuit might be thrown from the
last horse descending, to the bell-horse six hundred feet
ahead, ascending the opposite side. The fires have been
running through the wood and are still burning; many of
the half-burnt trees have been blown down, probably by the
gale of last night, obstructing the trail and making advance
extremely difficult/
The road does not improve as they advance, and for mile
after mile it leads through burnt and fallen timber. ' Fortunately there was no wind. The air was still and quiet,
otherwise we would have ran the risk of blackened trunks
falling around us, possibly upon the animals or ourselves,
even at the best seriously to have impeded our progress, if
such a mischance did not make an advance impossible, until
the wind should moderate. We move forward down and
up gorges hundreds of feet deep, amongst rocky masses,
where the poor horses had to clamber as best they could
amid sharp points and deep crevices, running the constant
risk of a broken leg. The trail now takes another character.
A series of precipices run sheer up from the boiling current
to form a contracted canyon. A path has therefore been
traced along the hill side, ascending to the elevation of some
seven or eight hundred feet. For a long distance not a
vestige of vegetation is to be seen. On the steep acclivity
our line of advance is narrow, so narrow that there is scarcely
a foothold;  nevertheless we have to follow for some six
 "-!*~a(|<"'.     5™8™n
I36
SANDFORD FLEMING
miles this thread of trail, which seemed to us by no means
in excess of the requirements of the chamois and the mountain goat.
' We cross clay, rock, and gravel slides at a giddy height.
To look down gives one an uncontrollable dizziness, to make
the head swim and the view unsteady, even with men of
tried nerve. I do not think I can ever forget that terrible
walk; it was the greatest trial I ever experienced. We are
from five to eight hundred feet high on a path of from ten to
fifteen inches wide and at some points almost obliterated,
with slopes above and below us so Steep that a stone would
roll into the torrent in the abyss below.'
About three miles from the mouth of the Kicking Horse
Valley they meet Major Rogers, and continue down with him
to his camp on the banks of the Columbia.
From Major Rogers, Fleming learns to his immense relief
that he has discovered a pass through the Selkirks by way of
Beaver River and the Illecellewaet, and that a pack trail
has been opened to the summit and a short way down the
Illecellewaet. Beyond that point ' we have the wilderness
in its native ruggedness, without a path for the human foot,
with the river and mountain gorges only as landmarks and
guides'. They must descend the Illecellewaet to the second
crossing of the Columbia, and get through the Gold Range by
way of Eagle Pass, and so to Kamloops on the North Thompson—and civilization once more.
After a day's rest they are off again, accompanied by
Major Rogers for a portion of the journey. His nephew,
Albert Rogers, is to go through with them to Kamloops.
They descend the Columbia in a canoe to the mouth of
Beaver River, where they are joined by the pack train, and
camp for the night.
At daybreak they are climbing up the Beaver Valley, over
a very rough trail, but thankful for small mercies, as they
are coming to a point where there will be no trail whatever.
The following morning they reach the summit through a
rugged mountain defile, and turn down the western slope,
noting for the first time the since famous Illecellewaet Glacier.
 OVER THE MOUNTAINS BY KICKING HORSE
137
Twenty-four miles from the summit they come to the end
of the trail. It has been poor enough, but travelling over
it is luxury to what lies before them.
' Last night it rained hard, with thunder and lightning.
This morning everything is wet, and the trees are dripping in
all directions; not a pleasant prospect for those who have
to travel under them. There is, however, no halting in
a journey such as ours. Our horses have left us. They were
driven back to find pasture last night. The men must now
carry on their shoulders what we require, through an untrodden forest without path or trail of any kind. Clothing,
tents, food and a few cooking utensils constitute what we
have to bring with us. Fortunately we can always find
water. It is a matter of some calculation and care putting
these articles into proper packs, but the task is finally
accomplished. . . .
' The walking is dreadful; we climb over and creep under
fallen trees of great size, and the men soon show that they
feel the weight of their burdens. Their halts for rest are
frequent. It is hot work for us all. The dripping rain
from the bush and branches saturate us from above. Tall
ferns sometimes reaching to the shoulder, and devil's clubs
through which we had to crush our way, make us feel as if
dragged through a horse-pond, and our perspiration is that
of a Turkish bath. We meet with obstacles of every description. The devil's clubs may be numbered by millions, and
they are perpetually wounding us with their spikes against
which we strike. We halt very frequently for rest. Our
advance is varied by ascending rocky slopes and slippery
masses, and again descending to a lower level. We wade
through alder swamps and tread down skunk cabbage and
the prickly aralias, and so we continue until half-past four,
when the tired-out men. are unable to go further. A halt
becomes necessary. We camp for the night on a high bank
overlooking the Illecellewaet. . . . Our advance on a direct
line we estimate at four miles/ Not much to show for a long
and hard day's work!
Sunday is no longer a day of rest.   Supplies are limited,
 138
SANDFORD FLEMING
and they must push on or face the possibility of starvation.
The conditions are disheartening. ' We make little headway,
and every tree, every leaf, is wet and casts off the rain. In
a short time we are as drenched as the f oliage. We have many
fallen trees to climb over, and it is no slight matter to struggle
over trees ten feet and upwards in diameter. We have rocks
to ascend and descend ; we have a marsh to cross in which
we sink often to the middle. For half a mile we have waded,
I will not say picked, our way to the opposite side, through
a channel filled with stagnant water, having an odour long
to be remembered. Skunk cabbage is here indigenous, and
is found in acres of stinking perfection. We clamber to the
higher ground, hoping to find an easier advance, and we come
upon the trail of a cariboo, but it leads to the mountains.
We try another course, only to become entangled in a windfall of prostrate trees. The rain continues falling incessantly : the men, with heavy loads on their heads, made
heavier by the water which has soaked into them, become
completely disheartened, and at half-past two o'clock we
decide to camp. Our travelling to-day extended only over
three hours, we have not advanced above a mile and a half
of actual distance, and we all suffer greatly from fatigue. I
question if our three days' march has carried us further
than ten miles.'
So the journey goes day after day, with little relief from
the interminable succession of swamps, tangled underbrush,
and fallen timber. At last they emerge from the canyon of
the Illecellewaet and reach the second crossing of the Columbia, with Eagle Pass directly opposite.
Here supplies from Kamloops were to have met the party,
but to their disappointment and dismay there is no sign
of the men. Only a few days' provisions remain, and the
journey over the Gold Range is trailless and difficult. The
following morning, however, brings the missing men—but
as if every conceivable obstacle were to be placed in their
way, Fleming learns that instead of bringing the supplies
with them, they have cached them at a point five days
distant.   Yet he can see, though grimly enough, the ridi-
 In the Heart of the Mountains
  OVER THE MOUNTAINS BY KICKING HORSE    139
culous side of the situation. ' We were in the heart of a
desert and asked for bread. We did not even get a stone,
but we met five hungry Indians ready to devour the little
store we had brought with us/
By putting every one on very short rations and travelling
by forced marches, they manage to reach the cached provisions. Their troubles are now over. With plenty of
food the remainder of the journey becomes a simple tramp
through the forest. The trail presently brings them to
a good wagon road, and that to Shuswap Lake, where
a steamer is waiting to take them on to Kamloops.
 a
CHAPTER XII
THE BRITISH ISLES IN 1876
In July 1876, having been relieved of his duties in connexion with the surveys and construction of the Intercolonial, Sandford Fleming took a well-earned vacation.
With his wife and six children he sailed from Quebec on the
16th of that month, and after a quick and pleasant passage
landed at Londonderry on the 23rd. A day was spent in
visiting the Giant's Causeway, another at Belfast and Lord
Dufferin's Irish estate Clandeboye, and then off by boat for
Glasgow.
An attempt was made to see Loch Long and Loch Lomond,
but a depressingly persistent Scotch mist enveloped the
west coast, and their enthusiasm was but half-hearted. As
they waited in Glasgow, with what patience they could command, for some change in the weather, Sandford Fleming was
reminded of his visit to the old town in 1863.
' I was a passenger on the United Kingdom, due at Glasgow.
She had passed up the Clyde during the night, and arrived
opposite the Broomielaw in the early morning.... I was impatient to get ashore, to touch the sacred ground of my
native land.' This was his first visit since he had left
Scotland in 1845. ' I arose that morning one of the first of
the passengers, before the stewards were visible. ... A boat
came to the side. I jumped into her and went ashore.
I strolled along the quay. My foot was not literally on
I my native heath ", but I enjoyed intensely the pleasure
we all feel in revisiting our native shores, and in being near
the scenes from which we have been long absent. Everything seemed so fresh and charming. I had no definite purpose in my wandering, but I was at home ; it was Scotland.
' In my semi-reverie I was interrupted by a young voice
in the purest Clydesdale Doric saying, " Hae yer butes
 THE BRITISH ISLES IN 1876
141
brushed ? " I looked down mechanically at my feet, and
found that the cabin bootblack of our vessel had neglected
this duty. . . . Moreover, it was the first word addressed to
myself, and I should have felt bound to accept the offer if
it had been unnecessary in the fullest sense. I commenced
conversation with the boy. He was very young. I summoned to my aid my best Scotch for the occasion. His
name was Willie Gordon, and he told me his widowed mother
was a washerwoman, that he had a number of brothers and
sisters younger than himself, that his earnings amounted to
about half a crown a week, and that between him and his
mother they managed to earn ten shillings in that time.
" And how do you live, Willie ? " I asked. " Reel well ",
he replied with the cheeriest of voices.
' " And now, Willie," I said, when I had paid him his fee,
"it is many years since I have been here. I want to see
the places of greatest interest in Glasgow." " Ou, sir," he
promptly replied, " ye shuld gang ta see Corbett's eat in
hoose." " Do you know the way there ? J I asked.
' Fine, sir. I ken the way vary weel. I'll gang wi ye tae
the door," and his face looked even happier than before.
I accepted his guidance, and, if my recollection is correct,
the place was in Jamaica Street. The boy walked by my
side carrying his brushes and box, and chatted gaily of himself and his life.   Apparently no prince could be happier.
' We reached the renowned establishment he had named.
It was a species of home which a benevolent citizen had
instituted, on the same principle on which the coffee taverns
are now established: to furnish an early hot cup of tea or
coffee to men going to work, to offer some other refreshment
than whisky and beer, to give a meal at cost price with all
the comfort possible, with cleanliness, good cheer, and airy
rooms, warm in winter.
' After some hesitation, and persuasion on my part, Willie
shyly entered with me. The menu was on the wall. Porridge
and milk one penny, large cup of coffee one penny, bread and
butter, thick, one penny, eggs and toast one penny, &c,
everything one penny.... We were a little early even for that
 142
SANDFORD FLEMING
establishment, so Willie and I sat down. The buxom matron
gave us some account of the place and its doings. The Duke
of Argyle had dined with her a few days before. She told
us the establishment was well patronized and prosperous.
' The time soon came for our order, for we were the first
to be served. I set forth what I required for myself, and
that was no light breakfast as I had a sea appetite sharpened
by the early morning walk. I directed the attendant to
bring the same order in double proportions for the boy, so
that we had a splendid dejeuner. My little companion was
in ecstasies. Never was hospitality bestowed on a more
grateful recipient. He would not leave me, and he seemed
bound to make a morning of it, and from time to time
graciously volunteered, " I'll tak ye ony gait, sir." His
customers were forgotten, but I trust he did not suffer from
his devotion to me, for I did my best to remedy his neglect
of professional duty. He followed me from place to place,
carrying the implements of his day's work, and he seemed
anxious to do something for the trifling kindness I had shown
him and the few pence I had paid for his breakfast.
' But I was more than compensated by the pleasure I myself received. I listened to all he said with fresh interest,
for he was open, earnest, honest and simple-minded. He was
deeply attached to his mother, and was evidently proud to be
able to add to her slender earnings, which were just enough
to keep her and her family from want. He certainly seemed
determined to do all in his power to make her comfortable.
' He never lost sight of me till I left by the eleven o'clock
train, and my last remembrance of Glasgow, as the train
moved out, was seeing Willie waving his brushes and boot-
box enthusiastically in the air. I often wonder what Willie's
fate is. He appeared to me to be of the material to succeed
in life. In Canada he certainly would have worked his way
up. I never heard of him again, but I certainly shall not
be greatly astonished to hear of Sir William Gordon, distinguished Lord Provost of Glasgow.'
But to return to the party of 1876. Defying the weather,
they are off for Oban where they spend Sunday. St. Columba
\l\
 THE BRITISH ISLES IN 1876
14a
Church offers significant evidence of the prevailing conditions,
in a rack for umbrellas at the end of each pew, and provision
for waterproofs at the back of the church. ' It rained', says
Sandford Fleming's journal,' without intermission the whole
day/ The following morning it is still coming down in
torrents. ' The kind landlord of the inn does his best for us
by keeping his barometer fixed at set fair, but without result.'
Some of the party manage to visit the ruined castles of
Dunstaffnage and Dunolly, and are reminded of the story
of the Stone of Destiny.
The next day they take a small steamer to Iona and Staff a.
As the boat threads her way through the somewhat intricate
entrance to the Sound of Iona, they get their first glimpse
of the venerable cathedral. They land in large boats, and
are welcomed by a number of small girls with shells and other
odds and ends to sell. Iona is about three miles long by one
broad, much of it bare rock, with no trees of any kind. ' It
possesses now no natural attractions that one can perceive,
except solitude/
They were taken to see the ruins of the nunnery, and the
chapel of St. Orain, the most ancient of all the buildings on
the island. Orain was one of the disciples of St. Columba.
Then to the cathedral, with its associations of days long gone
by. ' One cannot view these ruins of hoary antiquity without being impressed, and it somewhat grates on the ear to be
obliged to hear the flat jest of some Yankee tourist.' Near
by is the cross of St. Martin, and the tombs of the kings,
where forty-two of the rulers of Scotland are said to lie
buried, as well as several of the ancient Irish kings, and
even some from Norway. Here, too, are the tombs of the
McLeans, once an all-powerful clan in this part of Scotland.
Macbeth is supposed to be the last Scottish king buried in
Iona. The visitors are particularly impressed with the
peculiar sharpness of the carvings and inscriptions, after
having weathered the storms of centuries.
From Iona they are carried over to the island of Staffa, to
have a look at Fingal's Cave. The island is uninhabited
except by a few highland cattle.    ' As we draw near to the
 144
SANDFORD FLEMING
great cave we descend by steps from the top to the bottom
of the cliff, and walk over a rough floor of broken basaltic
columns. The prisms are generally larger than at the
Giant's Causeway; here they will measure on an average
from 2*3 to 3 feet across, while those at the Causeway are
not half that size. The latter, however, are more regular
and embrace a larger proportion of perfect hexagons. The
columns are of considerable height where exposed, probably
over thirty feet, and in places much bent. The cave itself
is probably seventy-five feet from the water-level to the roof,
and the clear width fifty or sixty feet. The channel through
which the sea surges is probably not over twenty feet wide.
The Cave of Fingal is not wonderful on account of its great
size—there are larger caves—but there is nothing like these
walls of columns ; and no cathedral has such music as the sea
produces in this temple of nature.
' The contrast between Iona and Staffa is striking enough.
Iona takes us back to almost prehistoric times ; Staffa brings
us face to face with the everlasting. There we had the
century-long work of man ; here we see the indelible record
of the great forces of nature, at work to-day as they were
countless ages ago.
' As we return, Iona is visible for a time in the distance.
We can dimly see the old ruins, and with this exception the
eye traces the very outlines traced in Columba's time some
1,300 years ago. The rocks are so hard that any changes
they may have undergone are practically inappreciable.'
It had been planned to engage an open wagonette to
carry the party through the Highlands, but the morning
opening with a dense Scotch mist, ' if anything, worse than
rain for wetting one through', the wagonette was abandoned
in favour of a light omnibus, roomy enough to carry six or
seven inside with the luggage on top. With no very grave
regrets they take leave of the weeping western coast, and set
their faces toward the sunny side of Scotland.
The rain follows them for a time, but they have opportunity
to enjoy delightful glimpses of lofty mountains and deep
glens, sparkling lakes, with here and there a ruined castle
J
 THE BRITISH ISLES IN 1876
145
whose romantic story is dear to the heart of every Scotchman. At Callander the rugged Highlands soften down to
modest braes. They rest at Stirling to have an opportunity
of seeing the grand old castle, and the Church of the Grey
Friars, where three hundred years before James VI had been
crowned, and John Knox had held forth. The following
day they climb Abbey Craig, to see the Wallace Monument,
and enjoy the wonderful view from the summit, castles and
ivy-covered ruins, the historic field of Bannockburn, and the
range of the Ochil Hills. From Stirling they take the train
for Sandford Fleming's boyhood home, Kirkcaldy.
A day is spent in Edinburgh, then gay with flags and
banners in honour of the Queen who is making a state visit
to the Scottish capital. They have a good view of the
royal procession from the windows of the National Bank of
Scotland; the small Canadians cheer, and are rewarded with
a gracious bow from Her Majesty.
After a short visit to St. Andrews and Dundee, they turn
to the south and reach London September 9th, having Sir
John Rose, formerly Minister of Finance of Canada, as
a fellow passenger from Edinburgh. Leaving his family
here, Sandford Fleming, after visiting some friends near
Portsmouth and at Torquay, took the train to Penzance and
then drove on to Land's End.
'- At Penzance I find an old lumbering one-horse carriage
waiting for me. For some miles the road passes through an
avenue of beautiful old trees planted by the wayside, but
four or five miles bring us to a treeless district. For the
remainder of the sixteen miles no vegetation larger than
a whin bush is to be seen. But the whins are turned to
account in a way that I have not heard of elsewhere. They
not only form the fences of the fields, but they are used for
fuel. Each house or hut has its stack of whin carefully
secured for winter use, just as you see turf in Ireland and
peat in Scotland. It seems to be the only fuel used in this
part of England.
' In due time, after an interesting drive through a bleak,
unproductive-looking country, we reach Land's End.   The
K
 146
SANDFORD FLEMING
It
horse is placed in the last stable in England, and we find
ourselves in the last house in England, which is a small
stone building, where it appears we can get a chop and a glass
of Bass of the red pyramid brand, precisely the same as that
which regaled our palates four years ago in the heart of the
Rocky Mountains.
' Lunch for self and driver being ordered, I walked to the
edge of the cliff and amused myself making some rude
sketches of the end of England. First looking westerly
towards Canada, then southerly, then northerly across the
world of waters. Not a solitary object is to be seen except
the lighthouse perched on a rock due west, and the smoke of
a steamer on the southern horizon. Here is a place to rest,
away from the busy world, but perhaps the extreme silence
and repose of Land's End would soon become more irksome
than the clangour of busy London.
' Returning to the little inn I found lunch ready, and to
my surprise another gentleman partaking of similar refreshment in the little room into which I was shown. Land's End
is but thinly populated and has but few visitors in the late
autumn, so I was pleased to see some one with whom I could
exchange words. Forgetting the reticence of Englishmen who
have not been introduced, I on the impulse of the moment
broke through all rules and addressed my new friend cheerily
as I entered the room, " Rather raw to-day."
' To this advance there was no response whatever. He
went on with his knife and fork, ignoring my presence and
existence. There was nothing left but to do likewise, and
there at Land's End, away from civilized England, at a place
almost as solitary and dreary as the North Pole, two men
met and dined together at the same table in absolute silence.
' In due time the meal was over, the bill paid, the horse
in the carriage, and the return journey commenced. We
had not proceeded more than half a mile when we passed
my dining companion. Curiosity led me to inquire if the
driver happened to know who he was. I was promptly
informed, " Oh, that is a deaf and dumb gentleman who
stays here." '
 '"''"fff t.ijB'ii I
THE BRITISH ISLES IN 1876
147
Christmas was spent quietly in London with his family,
a cable conveying best wishes from the staff of the Canadian
Pacific Railway adding to the happiness of the occasion.
Glancing in the newspapers a few days later, Fleming was
agreeably surprised to see his own name in the list of New
Year's honours, for a C.M.G.
Matters in connexion with the transcontinental railway
requiring his presence in Ottawa, he sailed from Liverpool
on the Polynesian. An incident of the voyage was a gale in
mid-ocean which tested the seaworthiness of the big ship.
' Dressed in the dark and went on deck', one reads in his
journal. ' The barometer was very low, the sea raging and
tossing the huge ship about at its wild will, the waves
occasionally washing across the decks, the vessel rolling until
her upper decks touched the water, and the barometer
swinging in the companion way some forty degrees to one
side of the perpendicular. Sometimes heavy rain squalls
would sweep by, between which the nearly full moon would
break forth throwing a flood of light across the wild turmoil
of waters through which we were slowly fighting our way/
Soon after his return to Ottawa, Fleming was given
a complimentary dinner by the members of his staff. In
responding to his own toast as the guest of the evening, he
paid a warm tribute to the engineers who had been associated
with him in surveys and construction work on the Canadian
Pacific Railway.
I Those who know me best', he said, ' will in some degree
appreciate my embarrassment in finding myself in this
prominent position—they will fully understand the difficulty
I labour under in endeavouring to express even faintly, how
much I feel this mark of kindness and attention. Engineers,
as you all know, are not as a rule gifted with many words.
Men so gifted generally aim at achieving renown in some
other sphere—the pulpit, the press, the bar, perhaps the
bench is open to them ; some may even venture on the sea
of politics ; they may dream of reaching some day or other
a pinnacle of honour and power such as that now occupied by
one distinguished man, whom, I am proud to see at this table.
K2
 148
SANDFORD FLEMING
They would not, indeed they could not, all succeed were they
ever so richly endowed—one in four millions or so, might
possibly rise to a position approaching that level. Silent
men, such as we are, can have no such ambition; they cannot
hope for profit or place in law, they cannot look for fame in
the press or the pulpit, and, above all things, they must
keep clear of politics. Engineers must plod on in a distinct
sphere of their own, dealing less with words and more with
deeds, less with men than with matter; nature in her wild
state presents difficulties for them to overcome. It is the
business of their life to do battle against these difficulties and
make smooth the path on which others are to tread. It is
their privilege to stand between these two great forces,
capital and labour, and by acting justly at all times between
the employer and the employed, they may hope to command
the respect of those above them equally with those under
them. Gentlemen, many of us, indeed most of us, were
gathered together about a year ago, but some, then here, are
not here now. I, for one, regret their absence; we greatly
miss their kindly countenances around the table, maybe hope
that on some future happy reunion, when they have finished
their work or obtained a respite from their labours, in the
wilds beyond Lake Superior, they and we may see each other.
Some, I see to-night, who were not present with us twelve
months ago. They were then far away on the plains, in the
woods, or in the mountains, doing their share of work, and
well have they done it. If affords me the greatest possible
pleasure to see them back in civilization once more. None
have earned all the comforts and enjoyments of a brief sojourn
with their friends more than they have. All England the
other day gave a hearty British welcome to some of her sons
who attempted to reach the North Pole. Glad was I to join
in their cheers and rejoicings; these brave British sailors
had earned them all. Those I now refer to, seated at this
table and some others who are not here, endured, I venture
to say, hardships and deprivations scarcely less severe than
many of the members of the Polar Expedition. Our men,
however, did something more than the Arctic travellers.
..
■ti
 THE BRITISH ISLES IN 1876 149
True, our engineers came back, some with scurvy, some with
constitutions more or less shaken ; but they returned with
the great satisfaction of having accomplished, and most
satisfactorily accomplished, the tasks they were sent to
perform. Let me, therefore, ask those whom I had the great
pleasure of meeting in this room a year ago, to join me in
tendering a warm welcome to those who were then absent.
My friend quite near me knows how much interested I am
in the whole staff, how much I value them individually.
He knows, and you all know, that I am not given to paying
compliments when they are not deserved, but I am bound to
acknowledge that at no time in Canada, perhaps at no time
anywhere, was there ever such a staff of engineers in the
service of any country. They have had long years of special
training for their several duties. They are inured almost like
Indians to the hardships which the geographical, climatic,
and other conditions of the country require them occasionally
to encounter, and I feel that I am justified in saying they are
largely endowed with an enthusiasm which helps men to
accomplish great deeds. Such being the character of the
staff, I may be forgiven for entertaining feelings of pride in
being connected with a body of men of this kind. Indeed,
we may all be pardoned for taking an honest pride in a creditable connexion of any sort with so gigantic a national undertaking as the Canadian Pacific Railway. I am not going to
weary you by dilating on this theme ; I shall only add that
I found not a few men in England who knew something of
the great country through which the railway is being constructed, and who take the greatest possible interest in the
work we have in hand. Six weeks ago this very evening it was
my good fortune to dine with some of these men. I had the
famous Dr. Cheadle on one side, and on the other the equally
celebrated Captain Palliser. These gentlemen never ceased
to inquire about our doings, and they were beyond measure
surprised to learn that the iron horse had started on his march
from Thunder Bay—that the telegraph, the harbinger of the
railway, was already at Edmonton. I have, however, reminded you that it is the business of engineers to act, and not
m
 SANDFORD FLEMING
to say much. I have already hinted that although we deal
largely with figures, they are not figures of speech. I think,
therefore, that I should act professionally and become
silent, leaving perhaps the best part of my speech unsaid.
I must, however, again heartily thank you all for this
magnificent welcome home, and I must especially thank
the Honourable the Premier, as well as the other guests
whom I see here, for their kindness in coming to-night to
take part in a reunion which will long remain green in my
memory/
Two years later Fleming again found hrmself in the capital
of the Empire, and in an interval of leisure went out to
Chelsea and called at 5 Cheyne Row, with a note of introduction to Carlyle. It had long been his desire to meet face
to face the great prophet of the nineteenth century. While
in Kirkcaldy he had spoken of this to Provost Swan, an old
and intimate friend of Carlyle, and the Provost had gladly
given him a letter of introduction.
Arrived at Cheyne Row, Fleming knocked at the door;
a young maid came, and he asked,' May I see Mr. Carlyle ? J
with a queer feeling that he should have asked for Tom
Carlyle.
11 will see,' she replied, I. but Mr. Carlyle seldom meets
any one now but old friends.'
' I am afraid I cannot claim entrance on that plea,' he said,
' but perhaps you will take him this note.'
He was shown into a dingy little room. In a few moments
the maid returned and took him up to Carlyle's own room—
a large room, he noted, with many books about the walls, but
only one picture, that of Cromwell.
Carlyle met him at the door with a friendly shake of the
hand, and they talked for a time of their mutual friend the
Provost, and of other men and things in Kirkcaldy.
' When were you born ? ' he asked.
' The same year', replied Fleming, ' that your friend
Edward Irving came to preach in the parish church, and
there were so many people in the gallery that it nearly
collapsed and caused a panic/
 THE BRITISH ISLES IN 1876
151
' Ah, yes, I remember,' he said. ' That was one of the
finest men that ever lived; at least the best that I have
ever known/ He spoke about Irving's fife in London and
elsewhere. ' He went far wrong in the end, but he was a
great and good man. You will find an account of him in
a book by a Mrs. Oliphant, the woman that writes novels.
There are a few good things in the book,' he added, with
a sly twinkle in his eye,' some of Irving's letters/
The conversation drifted to Canada, with many shrewd
questions and comments as to the conditions of life in the
new land. The recent death there of Carlyle's brother
Alexander lent a personal note to the subject. The vast
possibilities and human significance of the Canadian Pacific
Railway appealed to him, and the political and social
experiments that were being worked out in this younger
Britain beyond the seas.
' At last', says Fleming,' I felt that I had occupied enough
of his time, and prepared to make my farewell. As I got up
to leave I told Mr. Carlyle how impossible it was to say what
pleasure it had given me to have the opportunity of talking
to the author of Sartor Resartus. With that he grasped my
hand and held it firmly for perhaps ten minutes, while with
brightening eyes he gave me an outline of the birth of the
great classic. " Do you know ", he said finally, " it took
me eight years to write that little book ? " '
A slight aftermath of the interview is found in the Descriptive Catalogue of the Carlyle's House Memorial Trust. Among
the books listed in the Back Dining-Room is the following :
' Fleming, S. Report on the Canadian Pacific Railway,
1877.   Presentation copy.'
Before returning to Canada in 1878, Fleming paid a short
visit to Paris to see the great exhibition. Leaving his hotel
one morning, he met two gentlemen, one of whom he recognized as Sir John Rose. Rose turned to his companion and
said,' Your Royal Highness, let me present to you my friend
Mr. Fleming.' The Prince of Wales chatted with him for
a moment, and they passed on. The next day Fleming
received a note from the Prince's secretary to attend His
 SANDFORD FLEMING
Royal Highness at the opera that evening in his private
box.
He found his way to the royal box, and presently the
Prince arrived and took an arm-chair in the middle of the box,
inviting Fleming to sit beside him. He talked for some time
about Canada, showing himself remarkably well informed as
to the course of current events, Fleming reminded him that
he had had the honour of travelling with him from Toronto
to Collingwood in i860, and the Prince questioned him with
evident interest as to the changes that had taken place in
Toronto during the past eighteen years.
The following day, Fleming again met the Prince on the
streets, walking alone with a friend. He evidently felt as
secure in Paris as in London.
In March of the following year, Fleming lost his father.
Andrew Greig Fleming had followed his sons to Canada in
1847, and since 1854 had made his home at Craigleigh, near
Collingwood, with David, who it will be remembered had
come out in 1845. Of eight children, three sons survived at
that time: Sandford and David, and Alexander, who had
remained in Scotland.
A note in the diary for 1879 *s suggestive of Fleming's
manifold interests and activities. Under date of July 9, it
reads : ' At sea [on way to England], busy correcting proofs
of Short Daily Prayers for Busy Households/
The diary for 1880 furnishes random glimpses of the hardworking engineer resting for a week or two on the banks of
the Metapedia.
' July 11. Salmon fishing on the Metapedia. Dined with
George Stephen [now Lord Mount Stephen] and Lord
Elphinstone.
' 12. Prince Leopold and Princess Louise arrived—
guests of the Stephens—our camp directly opposite theirs—
George M. Grant also arrived—we had a splendid bonfire.
' 13. Preparing for canoe trip down Metapedia. Prince
Leopold and the Princess sent word they would like to see
us. Had few minutes with them before starting in our three
canoes.
v.   1
 &*m*
THE BRITISH ISLES IN 1876
153
414. Lunch and dinner with Donald A. Smith [afterward
Lord Strathcona] who lives in Peter Grant's old house.
Arranging for a start up the Restigouche.
' 15. Left Metapedia with canoes and Indians. Lunched
with Duke of Beaufort, an enthusiastic sportsman. Frank
landed a twenty-five pound salmon. I lost one in gaffing—
almost hooked another—finally landed two—very tired.'
Mtr«
 CHAPTER XIII
THE PACIFIC CABLE
Probably none other of the great projects associated with
the name of Fleming more strikingly illustrates his sheer
tenacity of purpose,—quiet, unostentatious, almost apologetic, but none the less compelling,—than the movement for
a British, state-owned cable across the Pacific. From 1879,
when he first broached the subject in a letter to F. N. Gis-
borne, Superintendent of the Telegraph and Signal Service
of Canada, to 1902, when the cable was actually laid across
the Pacific from Vancouver Island to New Zealand and
Australia, he kept the matter alive not only in Canada but in
England and Australasia; kept it alive, and moving, though
the forces arrayed against him, open and hidden, were
enough to have daunted even a man of strong and untiring
purpose.
It was, indeed, a long and uphill fight against tremendous
odds. Fleming had to overcome first of all the apathy and
indifference of the people of the great seK-governing colonies;
then the masterly inactivity of the British Government;
finally the active, resourceful, and powerful opposition of the
group of wealthy cable companies which held a monopoly
of the business between England and Australia, and, naturally enough, were loath to part with it. Nevertheless,
patience and perseverance won, as they generally do when
enlisted in a good cause, and backed by brains.
In 1879 Fleming wrote the following letter to F. N. Gis-
borne:
' The Pacific terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway
will, in all probability, be finally determined this year, and
the telegraph now erected from Lake Superior and carried
almost to the base of the Rocky Mountains will then be
extended to tide water in British Columbia.   In my last
 "I****. *$,
THE PACIFIC CABLE 155
report laid before Parliament, I submitted the importance of
connecting Lake Superior with Ottawa, the seat of government, by telegraph. ... If these connexions are made, we
shall have a complete overland telegraph from the Atlantic
to the Pacific coast. It appears to me to follow that, as
a question of Imperial importance, the British possessions
to the west of the Pacific Ocean should be connected by
submarine cable with the Canadian line. Great Britain will
thus be brought into direct communication with all the
greater colonies and dependencies without passing through
foreign countries.'
' A question of Imperial importance ';—that furnishes a
key to Fleming's point of view. No one who has followed
his life to this point can have failed to see that he has
always been a practical idealist; a man of big and broad ideas,
possessing not only the courage to fight for those ideas, but
also the rarer capacity for methodically working out all the
practical details. If genius consists in an infinite capacity
for taking pains, Sandford Fleming unquestionably possesses that kind of genius. This very matter of the Pacific
Cable involved technical problems that were not only
intricate but to a large extent untried, and in which the
opposing interests had marshalled on their side experts of
world-wide standing. With all his courage he could scarcely
have carried the movement to a successful conclusion, had
he not been prepared at every stage to meet, by the evidence
of hard facts, the arguments advanced against the practicability of a Pacific Cable. So careful indeed was he to work
out all the details of the project, that his estimates of cost,
traffic, and revenue, though differing widely from those
computed by men employed in the cable business, were
afterwards confirmed to an almost startling degree by the
results of the actual laying and operation of the Pacific Cable.
Fleming's outlook, as already indicated, has always been
broad. It has also been patriotic, not in the narrow sense
of the provincial politician who bellows his loyalty and
flaunts his flag in the face of his neighbour, but in the larger
sense of one who would see his country leading the world
 156
SANDFORD FLEMING
in the arts of peace and the bonds of human fellowship.
The question of the Pacific Cable appealed to him not merely
as a practical project for the development of trade and commerce, but much more as a means of bringing together the
scattered members of the British Empire, removing at one
stroke the prejudices that are born of lack of knowledge of
our brother's problems, and putting in their place the sympathy and sense of kinship that come with fuller understanding.
In his last report to the Government as Chief Engineer of
the Canadian Pacific Railway, dated April 1880, Fleming
went into the subject in detail, setting forth the practicability
and cost of the proposed cable, and its vital importance to
Canada, Australasia, and the Empire. He also prepared
a map, showing the route as then suggested. This map Sir
John Macdonald took to England and discussed with Lord
Beaconsfield. Both these great statesmen, it is said, were
impressed with the importance of the project from an Imperial standpoint. Being, however, shrewd politicians, as
well as great statesmen, they were not prepared to take the
matter up energetically in advance of public opinion.
The Canadian Government, however, with Fleming at
their elbow, were not permitted to forget the project. The
information that he had gathered for them they submitted
to Parliament in 1880,1881, and 1882, but there were obstacles and difficulties in the way, and the representatives of
the people were slow to act. In 1885 the matter was again
pressed upon the attention of Sir John Macdonald, and in
this letter the direct route to New Zealand and Australia
was advocated. The earlier proposals had been for a route
to Asia by way of the Aleutian Islands, and thence to
Australia, it being supposed that the nature of the bed of the
ocean made a more southerly course impracticable. More
complete knowledge dispelled these objections, and the
manifest advantages of a direct route were impressed upon
the Prime Minister, who was at the same time urged to take
the matter up with the British and Colonial Governments.
The following year an Order in Council was passed recom-
 THE PACIFIC CABLE
157
mending that 'advantage be taken of the Indian and
Colonial Exhibition now being held in London, and the
presence in that city of representatives from the colonies
interested, to obtain an expression of opinion on the project %
both from them and from the Imperial authorities. The
High Commissioner for Canada was directed to ascertain
and report what assistance the Colonies and the United
Kingdom would be prepared to give. Sandford Fleming
promptly sailed for England to follow the matter up. The
High Commissioner, Sir Charles Tupper, warmly entered
into his plans, but the result of their united efforts was not
encouraging. The British Government threw cold water on
the scheme, and the representatives of Australia and New
Zealand could do nothing in the absence of explicit instructions from their respective Governments.
It was rather an unfortunate thing for the opponents of
the Pacific Cable, who were beginning to realize that they
might have to fight for their monopoly, that Fleming was
now free to give almost his entire attention to the project.
He had severed a few years before his last connexion with
official life, and had the leisure as well as the desire to carry
the movement for an all-British cable to a successful conclusion. Not at all cast down by the cold reception his
plans had met with in England, he returned to Canada more
deteirnined than ever to see the matter through. He had
already enlisted the powerful assistance of the Press, and by
means of speeches, pamphlets, and personal correspondence,
was gradually spreading the leaven of the new idea throughout the Empire.
The Jubilee Conference of 1887 offered another opportunity of furthering the project, and particularly of getting
in direct touch with the representatives of the Colonies.
The Colonial Secretary opened the way for a discussion of the
Pacific Cable by including in his circular calling the Conference, ' the promotion of commercial and social relations by
the development of our postal and telegraphic communications \ Canada appointed Sir Alexander Campbell and
Sandford Fleming as her representatives.
n
 158
SANDFORD FLEMING
BR 1*
The Conference opened in London on April 4, under the
presidency of the Colonial Secretary, whose attitude toward
the Pacific Cable proved to be far from friendly. The
Eastern Telegraph system was also ably represented by its
energetic chairman Mr. Pender, whose opposition to the
proposed cable was tacitly or openly endorsed by many of
the British officials. Mr. Pender argued that the scheme was
impracticable on physical grounds by reason of the extreme
depth of the Pacific Ocean. An official connected with the
telegraphs of Great Britain, who was attending the Conference in an advisory capacity, being asked his opinion on this
point, said he thought the depth went down in places to
11,000 or 12,000 fathoms, that is to say about thirteen miles !
It was subsequently proved that he was about 8,000 or 9,000
fathoms out in his calculations. Mr. Pender also argued
that the cable, even if capable of realization, would be a
financial failure ; that his companies were prepared to offer
as low a rate for cable service ; and that the scheme would
in any event work great injustice to the existing lines.
Fleming now had the opportunity he had been waiting
for. He had all the facts at his finger's ends, and was able
to make out a convincing case for the Pacific Cable from
every point of view. He touched first upon the larger
aspects of the question. ' If we resort', he said, ' to the
agencies of steam and electricity, the people of Australasia
and the people of Canada may, for all practical purposes,
become neighbours. And why, it may be asked, should they
not be neighbours, as far as it is possible for art and science
to make them ? Are they not one in language, in laws, and
in loyalty ? Have they not substantially the same mission
in the outer Empire, and would they not, as good neighbours
supporting each other, and with their energies directed to
a common cause, be of great advantage to each other ?
Would they not, so united by friendly ties, add strength to
the power to which they owe a common and willing allegiance ? *
'It is only necessary', he said again, ' to look at a telegraph map of the world to see how dependent on foreign
 THE PACIFIC CABLE 159
powers Great Britain is at this moment for the security of its
telegraphic communication with Asia, Australia, and Africa.
In fact, it may be said that the telegraphic communication
between the Home Government and every important
division of the Empire, except Canada, is dependent on the
friendship (shall I say, protection?) of Turkey. Is not
Turkey continually exposed to imminent danger from
within ? Is she not in danger of failing a prey to covetous
neighbours, whose friendship to England may be doubted ? '
Pointing out that Canada had opened the way to an all-
British telegraphic communication by the completion of a
telegraph hne across the Dominion from the Atlantic to the
Pacific, and that messages had already passed between
London and Vancouver, he went on to say, ' Were a cable
laid across the Pacific, from one British land to another, not
only would there be a communication with Australasia, but,
by the cables of the Eastern Telegraph Company, India and
Africa would equally be in touch with the centre of the
Empire, without dependence on any line passing through
a foreign country/ While still in the middle of the fight
for a Pacific Cable, Fleming's vision was already springing
out toward the broader project of an Imperial cable system
girdling the globe.   That, however, will come up later.
Dealing with the objections of the Eastern Telegraph
System, he refused to recognize their right to a monopoly of
the telegraph business with the East. ' This is not the first
time', he said, ' that a company or an individual has been
called upon to relinquish a monopoly found to be inimical
to the public welfare. Is it for a moment to be thought of
that Canada and Australia are never to hold direct telegraphic intercourse because a commercial company stands
in the way ? Are commercial relations between two of the
most important divisions of the British family for ever to
remain dormant in order that the profits of a company may
be maintained ? Are the vital interests of the British Empire
to be neglected ? Is the permanent policy of England to be
thwarted ? Is the peace of the world to be endangered at
the bidding of a joint stock company ? '
^am*
 Ill
*
HI
160
SANDFORD FLEMING
A paragraph in the speech of Sir Alexander Campbell
before the Conference illustrates strikingly enough the
attitude of the Admiralty toward the Pacific Cable project,
—what has been called their masterly inactivity. ' Canada',
he said,' proposed two or three years ago to assist in a survey
[of the proposed route of the Pacific Cable]. The difficulty
which the Admiralty urged was that they had no vessel to
spare, and, therefore, they could not do it. Canada had
several vessels of her own, and she found a suitable one, the
Alert, an excellent ship for the purpose, which she offered,
and in that way she seemed to have answered completely
the difficulty raised by the Admiralty. Canada wrote over
to the Admiralty telling them that she had a suitable vessel;
and then they would not do it at all. Then we, and when
I say we I mean Mr. Fleming and a friend of his, offered to
pay half the expense (about $90,000). Still the Admiralty
would not do it, and there the matter stopped/ The net
result of the Conference, so far as the Pacific Cable project
was concerned, was the adoption of the following resolution
proposed by Sir Alexander Campbell: ' That the connexion
of Canada with Australasia by direct submarine telegraph
across the Pacific is a project of high importance to the
Empire, and every doubt as to its practicability should
without delay be set at rest by a thorough and exhaustive
survey/
After the Conference broke up, Fleming remained in
London to see what could be accomplished with the Admiralty in the matter of a survey, but the Admiralty would do
nothing. The whole project in fact seemed for a time to
have come to grief on this rock of the survey. Year after
year dragged by, with endless official correspondence, and
various suggestions from Canada and Australia as to their
Governments sharing with the Imperial Government the
cost of a survey, but all to no purpose. The inertia of the
Admiralty was phenomenal.
In the year 1893 Mackenzie Bowell, Minister of Trade and
Commerce in the Government of Canada, sailed for Australia
on a special mission to promote trade between the two
 I $<^V VSiVi^KSftiC?
***su
THE PACIFIC CABLE
161
colonies. He was also to confer with the Australian Governments as to the Pacific Cable. At his own expense Fleming
accompanied the Minister, as an unofficial delegate to further
the interests of the cable project.
In personal interviews with members of the Australian
Governments, and in public speeches in all the principal
cities, the two delegates laboured earnestly to arouse the
people of the Island Continent to the importance of the
proposed cable. Everywhere they were received with the
utmost friendliness, and it became evident that popular
interest in the question was thoroughly aroused. Here, as
in England, however, the open or secret opposition of the
Eastern Telegraph Company met them on every hand,
and, no doubt through the same influence, the various
Australian Governments received from the Colonial Office,
at the very time the Canadian delegates were urging the
adoption of the scheme for a state-owned cable, two
official documents carefully designed to discredit the whole
scheme.
The whole situation suggested the desirability of a conference of delegates from the various colonies interested in
the Pacific Cable. The attitude of most of the Australian
Governments was now known to be sympathetic, but there
were serious difficulties that could only be satisfactorily
dealt with at a general Conference. It was found impossible
to arrange a meeting while the Canadian delegates were in
Australia, but an agreement was reached that it should take
place in Ottawa the following year. Accordingly, on the
return of Mr. Bowell to Ottawa, and with the assent of the
Imperial authorities, the Canadian Government arranged
for a meeting of representatives of the various colonies in
Ottawa in 1894. In addition to the Australian and New
Zealand delegates, the Imperial Government and the Cape
Colony Government were also represented.
The whole question was discussed in all its bearings, and
with one or two exceptions the attitude of the delegates was
distinctly favourable to the scheme, but, in spite of the
eloquent and forcible appeal of Fleming, it seemed impossible
m
£&sm?
 i f
8 1
§l $
162
SANDFORD FLEMING
to get away from the bugbear of a survey, or to make any
real progress until some way had been found of settling
beyond peradventure the moot point of the practicability of
the cable. At the last moment, however, one of the delegates unexpectedly suggested a simple way out of the difficulty. Why not call for tenders, he said, for the completion
of the cable by the various routes proposed, and leave the
matter of surveys to the tenderers ? That would settle the
whole question of practicability within three months. The
eminent gentlemen who made up the Conference must have
wondered why such a simple and practical solution had not
occurred to them long before.
A resolution was then adopted, which, taken with what
had gone before, went a long way toward a satisfactory
solution of the whole question. It was to the effect that
' the Canadian Government be requested, after the rising of
this Conference, to make all necessary inquiries, and generally to take such steps as may be expedient, in order to
ascertain the cost of the proposed Pacific Cable, and promote
the estabHshment of the undertaking in accordance with the
views expressed in this Conference'.
It may be doubted if some of the delegates quite realized
the long step forward taken by the Ottawa Conference in
adopting this resolution. Under other circumstances it
might have shared the usual fate of such resolutions, but the
Canadian Minister in whose hands the matter was left was
Mackenzie Bowell, a warm supporter of the project, and the
man who was actually entrusted with all the practical
details was Sandford Fleming.
No sooner had the Conference closed than Fleming set
to work upon the preparation of plans and specifications.
Within a month they were ready, and the Government of
Canada had publicly invited tenders for a submarine cable
across the Pacific from British Columbia to Australia. The
advertisement appeared in August. By the first of November the tenders were in the hands of the Minister of Trade
and Commerce, and were immediately handed over to
Fleming to be reported upon.   Despite the gloomy pre-
 THE PACIFIC CABLE
163
dictions of the enemies of the cable, half a dozen or more
of the great cable-laying companies had no hesitation in
tendering for the work, the practicability of the scheme was
at once established, and the cost was found to be six million
dollars below the estimate of the authorities of the British
Post Office. f J ||||
The inevitable result of this action by the Canadian
Government was to transform the project from a more or less
theoretical question to one that was recognized as practical.
It rapidly gained friends throughout the Empire, and in
1896 an Imperial Pacific Cable Committee was appointed
to examine into and report upon the whole matter. The
Committee consisted of six members, two representing the
Home Government, two representing Canada, and two from
Australasia. Fleming had been appointed one of Canada's
representatives, but preferred to take the position of expert
adviser to the Committee, which gave him wider freedom in
assembling and bringing forward the facts of the case. As
some one has suggested, he practically filled the position of
counsel for the cable project.
The Committee went into every detail with the utmost
care and thoroughness, and its estimates of cost and revenue
were very conservative. It reported that the project was
quite practicable, favoured state-ownership, and recommended the route by way of Vancouver Island, Fanning
Island, Fiji, Norfolk Island, and New Zealand and Queensland. The favourable report of the Committee was a triumph for Fleming, whose long agitation for the cable now
had the support not only of the Imperial and Colonial
statesmen constituting the Committee, but also of a majority
of the acknowledged authorities on the subject.
The Jubilee Conference of 1897 had before it the report of
the Pacific Cable Committee, but for reasons that have never
been made very clear no definite action was taken. According to a statement made at the time, the scheme was left
in mid-air. The sinister influence of the Eastern Telegraph
Company was still powerful. Fleming immediately addressed a vigorous protest to the Prime Minister of Canada,
L2
 j>
ill
164
SANDFORD FLEMING
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, setting forth the facts as they appeared
at that time, and concluding as follows :
' Under these circumstances it is not improper to consider
if there be any duty or obligation resting on us in Canada.
The Dominion is now looked up to as the elder brother in
the British family of kindred nationalities. If as Canadians
we have faith in our destiny as no inconsiderable element of
the great Empire, are we not called upon again to take the
initiative ? The Mother Country awaits a proposal. It
cannot well come from disunited Australasia. If we are to
be brought within speaking distance of the kindred communities in the southern seas, the first impulse must come
from ourselves. Shall the opportunity which circumstances
have presented be seized and another proof given to the
world that" the Canadian Government and people are determined, in all ways, to promote Imperial unity " ?'
Although public opinion was now almost universally
favourable to the Pacific Cable project, the influence of its
opponents, the great Eastern monopoly, was still powerful
enough to stave off from year to year a final agreement
between the self-governing colonies and the mother country.
In May 1899, Fleming published the following letter addressed
to the British People :
' Within the last few days it has been stated that the Home
Government has not responded to the proposals of Canada,
Australia, and New Zealand respecting the establishment of
the Pacific Cable, in the way that the Governments and the
people of these countries had reason to expect, in consequence of which a feeling of disappointment and surprise
is on all sides expressed.
' It had been arranged that the Pacific Cable should be
established as a national work, the Governments of Canada,
Australia, and New Zealand being joint partners with the
Imperial Government.
' This arrangement has been slowly developed. It has
been generally favoured by all the Governments for some
time. The Home Government has frequently been asked to
take the initiative in carrying it into effect, but the Colonial
Ik
—
 THE PACIFIC CABLE
165
Secretary has always insisted that Canada and the Australasian colonies should take primary action by determining
what proportion of the cost of the undertaking each would
be willing to contribute.
' It has been a matter of much difficulty to reach an agreement on this point, and the difficulty has been enhanced by
the great mtei^ening distances, and the character of the
means of communication, in consequence of which much
delay has arisen. At length, however, conclusions have been
arrived at. On the 20th of August last the Australasian
colonies finally agreed to contribute eight-eighteenths of the
cost, and last month Canada finally undertook to contribute
five-eighteenths, making thirteen-eighteenths in all, thus
leaving only five-eighteenths to be assumed by the Home
Government.
' It appears that the Home Government, although it has
not absolutely declined to enter into partnership and assume
the remaining five-eighteenths share of the HabiHty, has
merely offered to bear five-eighteenths of any loss of revenue
(not exceeding £20,000) which may result from operating the
cable, provided priority be given to Imperial Government
messages, and that they be transmitted at half ordinary
rates.
* As this proposal, at the eleventh hour, taken by itself,
involves an entire change in the well-known plan upon which
Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have been proceeding
in their negotiations for more than two years, and, moreover,
is in itself of no value in securing the establishment of so
important a national work, it is impossible to believe that it
is the full or final judgement of Her Majesty's Government,
for the following reasons :—
' It would always be regarded as a recession on the part of
the Mother Country, from a common understanding with
Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
' It would always be regarded as an attempt to retard the
expansion and cripple the commerce of the Empire in the
interests of a few rich monopolists.
' It would always be regarded by the people of Canada,
 i66
SANDFORD FLEMING
Australia, and New Zealand as an unjustifiable and discourteous act to them.
' Its effect would be far-reaching, and its immediate effect
would be a fatal blow to the scheme for establishing a system
of State-owned British cables encircling the globe.
' It would be a very grave retrograde step in the Imperial
movement, which aims to draw closer the bonds between the
Mother Country and her daughter lands.'
This letter, with the announcement of the attitude of the
Imperial Government, produced a storm of protest throughout the Empire. The representatives of the self-governing
Colonies in London were instructed to make urgent representations to the Home authorities of the views of their
respective Governments. Leading newspapers of Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain, voiced the
general disappointment of the people. The Minister of
Public Works of Canada was sent to England as a special
representative to explain in person the views of the
Dominion Government.
The day before he landed, however, the Home Government
yielded to the universal pressure, and in a generous and
graceful spirit not only agreed to support the Pacific Cable,
but went farther than either Canada or Australasia had asked
or expected. So the long agitation for a state-owned British
cable between Canada and Australasia was brought to
a satisfactory conclusion.
It only remains to say that the necessary steps were immediately taken to have the cable laid and to arrange the
details of its administration, and on October 31, 1902, the
first message was sent over the new Imperial line of communication, a greeting to the King from the people of the
Fiji Islands. The first message received in Canada was one
of warm congratulation from the Prime Minister of New
Zealand to Sandford Fleming.
 CHAPTER XIV
A DIPLOMATIC MISSION TO HONOLULU
The narrative of Fleming's long fight for the establishment
of an all-British cable between Canada and Australasia
would not be complete without some account of his attempt
to secure landing-places for the cable. It was peculiarly
important that a suitable station should be secured midway
between the two ends of the fine, to avoid the difficulties
of laying and mamtaining an excessively long cable. In
fact, it was believed at the time that the project would not
be feasible unless a landing-station could be secured in or
near the Hawaiian Islands. The writer has already told the
story of the Necker Island episode in the chapter ' Stepping
Stones in Mid-Pacific', in Annals and Aims of the Pacific
Cable. The substance of that chapter is reproduced here
to complete the history of the laying of the Pacific Cable.
The Hawaiian group consists of eight islands, ranging
in area from 50 to 3,000 square miles each, with a soil in
many parts of extraordinary fertility. The most eastern,
and largest, island is named Hawaii. The others in their
order are : Maui, Kahulaui, Lauai, Molokai, Oahu (on which
the capital, Honolulu, is situated), Kauai, and Niihau. The
two latter are separated from the main group by open
water, at no point less than sixty-five miles in extent. Of
all these islands Fleming considered that the most desirable
for the purposes of the cable would be either the most eastern,
Hawaii, or the most western, the twin islands Kauai and
Niihau. The Hawaiians themselves would probably prefer
to have it landed at Honolulu. Much though they desired
cable communication, however, there was grave doubt if the
Hawaiian Government would be willing to surrender one of
these islands to England, and as there was a very strong
feeling, both in Australia and Canada, that the cable should
land only upon British soil, it became desirable to cast about
for some unclaimed island in mid-Pacific.
 i68
SANDFORD FLEMING
*$
:    j
11
1
It immediately became apparent that the choice was very
meagre. A glance at the map will show how singularly
barren of islands is this portion of the ocean, outside of the
Hawaiian group. There was indeed Fanning Island, but
Fanning Island stood at such a distance from the Canadian
starting-point that the laying of the first link of the cable
would be both very difficult and very expensive; indeed,
some competent authorities insisted that it was an impossibility. Certainly, no such single length of cable had ever
yet been laid the world over. While Fleming was, nevertheless, of opinion that the Fanning route was quite feasible, he
yet thought it preferable, if at all possible, to secure a landing-
place more centrally located—one somewhere in the latitude
of the Hawaiian group.
After examining the Admiralty charts, and making careful
inquiries, Fleming found that there was a small rocky island,
called Necker, lying in latitude 230 35' north, longitude 1640
39' west, about 240 miles westward of the Hawaiian group, or
something over 400 miles west of Honolulu. This rocky
islet lies on the shortest and most direct course from Vancouver Island to the northern coast of Queensland, passing
Apamana, in the Gilbert group, and San Christoval, in the
Solomon group, both of these groups being British territory.
Very little was known about the island, as no one had ever
landed upon it. What information there was had been
published chiefly to warn mariners from its inhospitable
shores. Necker Island is, in fact, a mere rock, from one-
half to three-quarters of a mile long and one thousand feet
broad, with an elevation at two points of 250 and 280 feet,
on the south-east. Not a single tree is to be found upon the
island, but there is stated to be abundant vegetation on the
high land towards the summit. The shores rise steep as
a wall, and the sea breaks with fury at all points. The island
was discovered by La Perouse, on the 1st of November, 1786,
but was regarded as too insignificant for ownership.
In September 1893, as already stated, Mr. Mackenzie Bowell
proceeded on a diplomatic mission to Australia, on behalf of
the Canadian Government, and Fleming accompanied him, at
 A DIPLOMATIC MISSION TO HONOLULU    169
his own expense, with the object of forwarding the Pacific
Cable project.
While at Honolulu, en route for Australia, Fleming prepared a memorandum respecting Necker Island, which was
forwarded to Ottawa by Mr. Bowell, and made the subject of
an official dispatch from the Canadian Government to the
Home Government, urging the immediate acquisition of
Necker Island as a landing-place for the cable.
A copy of this memorandum was at the same time left
with the British Minister at Honolulu, to be forwarded direct
to the Foreign Office ; another copy was sent to the Admiralty ; and still another to Admiral Stevenson, commanding
on the North Pacific Station, so that he might be prepared
for any instructions the Admiralty should see fit to send.
This memorandum embodied such further particulars as
Fleming had been able to glean touching Necker Island.
It was uninhabited, possessed, in fact, no means of supporting
fife, and was consequently useless to any nation, except for
such a special purpose as a cable station. Its position is
described as ' singularly commanding, not only in respect of
a cable from Canada to Australia, but likewise to Japan and
Hong-Kong'. A mid-ocean station in this part of the Pacific,
entirely removed from foreign influences, being of supreme
importance, and there being ' no certainty that one of the
Hawaiian Islands could be obtained', Fleming strongly
recommended that Necker Island should be formally taken
possession of without delay in the name of Her Majesty.
On reaching Australia, Bowell placed the facts in relation
to Necker Island before the Governments of New South
Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, and in October 1893, each
of these Governments, convinced of the importance of
acquiring such an admirably situated landing-place for the
cable—one, too, that had never yet been taken possession of
by any nation, and could be had for the mere trouble of
taking—sent instructions to their respective Agents-General
in London to urge upon the Home Government the importance of taking immediate steps to secure the island.
In their interviews with the Governments of Queensland,
 170
SANDFORD FLEMING
fit i
New South Wales, and Victoria, Bowell and Fleming learned
with deep regret that dispatches had quite recently been
received from England, covering reports from officials in the
Admiralty and Post Office Department, the tone of which
was peculiarly antagonistic to the project of a Pacific Cable.
It so happened, however, that the very severity of the British
official criticism turned to the advantage of the Canadians,
for the dispatches had laid stress upon the difficulty or impossibility of connecting Fanning Island with Vancouver
by cable, and it was the more easy to convince the Australian
ministers of the vital necessity of securing Necker.
Australia having thus approved of the Canadian proposals,
it only remained to persuade the Imperial Government. It
being sufficiently apparent that nothing could be gained by
correspondence, it was decided that Fleming should proceed
direct to England, and bring the importance of the project to
the personal attention of the Imperial Ministers. Fleming
accordingly proceeded from Australia to England, first
writing the High Commissioner in London, informing him of
the state of affairs, and the desirability of pressing the Necker
matter upon the Home authorities.
The Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Ripon, sent
a dispatch to Ottawa in reply to the dispatch of the Canadian
•Government urging the speedy acquisition of Necker Island.
This reply is dated the 20th of December, 1893, and informs
the Dominion authorities that ' the Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs will defer action in the matter, pending the
establishment of the Government of Hawaii upon a more
permanent footing'. It will be remembered that the death
of King Kamehameha had been followed by a revolution,
in which the Queen was deposed, and a provisional Government established. The members of this Government were
nearly all citizens of, and in active sympathy with, the United
States. The British Government, always anxious to avoid
hurting the feelings of the United States, possibly felt that to
take possession of Necker Island might cause annoyance at
Washington. At any rate, they evidently felt that it was
necessary to consult the Hawaiian Government in the matter
 A DIPLOMATIC MISSION TO HONOLULU    171
though on what grounds it is somewhat difficult to determine,
as Necker Island did not belong, either politically or geographically, to the Hawaiian group. As Fleming very forcibly
put it, ' Necker Island is an unoccupied and unclaimed spot
in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, wholly unfit for settlement, and destitute of the means of supporting fife; it is
valueless to any nation as a strategic point; affords neither
a haven for ships nor a depot for commerce; is entirely
outside the Hawaiian group of islands, and beyond the
sphere of the Hawaiian Kingdom or state, being in fact as
distant from Honolulu as Washington is from Ottawa, and
double the distance that London is from Paris.'
Fleming, however, knew nothing, until the following
summer, of this curious decision of the Imperial Government,
and having arrived in London towards the end of December,
at once saw the Canadian High Commissioner, and through
him arranged an interview between the Colonial Minister and
the Canadian and Australian representatives. After some
delays, Lord Ripon met the delegates, on January 12, 1894,
the following colonies being represented, in addition to
Canada : New South Wales, New Zealand, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania. During the interview, Fleming read and
handed to the Colonial Minister a memorandum setting forth
the particulars regarding Necker Island, and urging the vital
importance of securing it without delay as a mid-ocean
telegraph station.
On the 16th January, the High Commissioner, Sir Charles
Tupper, sent a report on this interview to Bowell. Lord
Ripon, he wrote, ' seemed to be much impressed with our
representations, and promised to place himself in communication with the Foreign Office with a view of ascertaining
what action can be taken in the matter'. Apparently not
a word was said during the interview of his Lordship's remarkable dispatch of the 20th December, 1893, announcing
the singular decision of the Secretary of State for Foreign
Affairs, to defer action in the matter of acquiring Necker
Island, ' pending the establishment of the Government of
Hawaii upon a more permanent footing'.
 172
SANDFORD FLEMING
f /
Fleming returned to Canada, immediately after the interview, buoyed up with the confident hope that the British
Government had at last been awakened to the vital importance of taking possession of Necker Island, and that the
requisite action would no longer be delayed.
The months of February, March, and April passed, but
nothing could be learned in Ottawa, although frequent
inquiries were made, as to any steps which had been taken
by the Imperial authorities. Early in May, the Minister of
Trade and Commerce cabled to Sir Charles Tupper to ascertain what had been done in the matter. The High Commissioner called at the Colonial Office, but no satisfactory
reply could be obtained, and from what was learned it
appeared that the matter was in exactly the same position
as before the interview with the Marquess of Ripon. The
Foreign Minister, Lord Rosebery, had ' expressed his desire
that the Imperial Government should do anything possible
in the premises; that Her Majesty's representatives at
Honolulu had been requested to watch the matter closely ;
but he thought it undesirable, in view of the disturbed
relations in the Sandwich Islands, that any definite steps
should be taken for the present.'
Months passed, and although the importance of acquiring
Necker Island at once had been repeatedly pressed upon
the attention of the Imperial authorities, both by Canada
and the Australasian Colonies, the Home authorities had
apparently decided to forget the whole incident. The
Colonial Conference at Ottawa was fast approaching, when
the Pacific Cable matter would be threshed out in all its
bearings, and the importance of Necker Island as a half-way
house for the cable ventilated and made public, and it might
then be too late to take possession of it.
Fleming, feeling that no time was to be lost, and realizing
that nothing was to be hoped for from the Imperial Government in the matter, sought earnestly for some other solution
of the difficulty. He talked the question over, confidentially,
with those interested in the project, but they could offer
nothing helpful.   Finally, a suggestion came to him, in
sss
■I
I - -j
 •""**wTtk'«MS,
A DIPLOMATIC MISSION TO HONOLULU    173
conversation with a high military official, who had served
in India and whom he met when travelling. Their talk
drifted to the Pacific Cable. Among other things, Fleming
explained the highly unsatisfactory state of the Necker
project. ' Ah!' dryly remarked the officer, *- the best thing
to do in a matter of that kind, is to act first, and ask for leave
afterwards/ His listener began to look interested. ' Perhaps \ continued the official, ' you have not heard how we
got the island of Perim ?' The French had an eye on it,
and sent an admiral to hoist the tricolour. The admiral
went ashore at Port Aden, visited the British Resident, who
dined him, and wined him, and presently learned the object of
his voyage. The British diplomat left the room for a moment
on pretext of a bottle of extra good wine, and incidentally
gave orders that with all possible expedition men should be
sent to Perim to hoist the British flag, and take possession of
the island in the name of Her Majesty. He then returned
with the wine, and astonished and delighted the admiral with
the charm of his conversation, the pungency of his wit, and
the excellent quality of his wine. The two made merry far
into the night. Next morning the French admiral took an
affectionate farewell of the British Resident, and sailed over
to Perim to fulfil the objects of nis mission. Arrived there,
what was his amazement to find a flag already floating over
the island. It was not, however, the flag of France. ' That*,
concluded the military officer,' is what will have to be done.'
Fleming took the hint. What a British official had done
at Perim, on his own responsibility, he could do at Necker.
He knew of a discreet man in Toronto—a retired naval
officer—who could safely be entrusted with a delicate
mission. He sent for him, explained the circumstances in
connexion with Necker Island; that it had now become
a question of securing the island at once by a private coup, or
losing it altogether, and possibly putting an end to the project
of connecting Australia with Canada by a direct cable. The
naval expert agreed to undertake the mission, his expenses,
of course, to be borne by Fleming.
The latter then outlined his plan.   The naval officer was
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SANDFORD FLEMING
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to proceed to Vancouver forthwith, where he would catch the
first steamer for Honolulu. There he was to disembark, and
there the special service would practically commence. At
Honolulu he was to procure a vessel to take him to the vicinity
of ' an unoccupied rocky island, situated about latitude 230
23' N. and longitude 1640 39' W/—in other words, the much-
discussed Necker. Arrived at the island, he was to make
an examination of the character of the shores, and ascertain
the best point or points for landing an electric submarine
cable ; take such soundings in the immediate vicinity of the
island as would enable him to report on the approaches ;
and make an approximate survey and sketch of the island.
Finally, he was to ' leave behind him evidences of his visit';
in other words, he was desired to emulate the example of
that enterprising official at Perim, plant a flag-staff, unfurl
the British flag, and take possession of the island in the name
of Her Majesty the Queen. Being a British subject, and a
retired officer of the British navy, there would be no question
as to the legality of such a claim, provided the Imperial
Government chose to recognize it.
The mission was one of more than ordinary difficulty.
It must be carried through with the utmost secrecy, and at
the same time with the utmost expedition. The time available was extremely limited. The Colonial Conference was
to meet at Ottawa towards the end of June. It was already
the beginning of May, and Fleming considered it very
important that the flag should float over Necker Island, and
that he should be satisfied of that fact when the Conference
met.
The naval officer returned to Toronto, and Fleming set
himself to a study of Pacific time-tables. It appeared that
a steamer, the Warrimoo, would leave Vancouver for Australia on the 16th May, and was due to arrive at Honolulu
on May 24. The steamer Arawa, which was booked to leave
Sydney on May 18, would be due at Honolulu on June 2,
en route for Vancouver. There was no other steamer leaving
Honolulu for the North American continent until June 23,
on which date the Australia was due to sail for San Francisco,
 A DIPLOMATIC MISSION TO HONOLULU    175
reaching the latter place on June 30. It was evident that,
if the report on Necker Island was to be in Fleming's hands
by the middle of June, his agent must leave Vancouver by the
Warrimoo on the 16th and return from Honolulu by the
Arawa. This would give him from the 24th May to the 2nd
June within which to accomplish his mission, a trifle over
a week; and during which time he must secure a vessel,
without arousing the suspicions of the Hawaiian Government, steam to Necker Island, some 400 odd miles distant
from Honolulu, effect a landing, which it must be remembered, had never before been accomplished, make a rough
survey, take soundings, leave tangible evidence of his visit
and its object, and be back in Honolulu in time to catch the
Arawa on the 2nd June.
Fleming, having got thus far, telegraphed to the naval
expert, on the 7th May, as follows :
' Outgoing steamer due at point of departure for special
service May 24th. Return steamer due at same point
June 2nd. I find service must be performed within those
dates.   Can you undertake ? '
The reply came the same day, brief and to the point:
' Yes, weather permitting, and if arrangements now understood carried out.'
The arrangements referred to contemplated the securing
of a suitable vessel at Honolulu in advance of the naval
officer's arrival there, so that not a moment might be lost
in proceeding to Necker Island. To this end Fleming sent
a telegram to San Francisco, to be forwarded to Honolulu
by steamer leaving San Francisco on May 12. The telegram
would consequently anticipate the arrival of Fleming's
agent at Honolulu by some five days. The message was
addressed to a reliable firm at Honolulu, the members of
which Fleming had met on his trip to Australia the previous
year, and they were asked to look out for ' a small seaworthy
steamer or other suitable craft, for a gentleman arriving by
the Warrimoo to make an excursion of a few hundred miles
around the Hawaiian Islands, between the arrival of the
Warrimoo and the sailing of the Arawa for Vancouver \
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SANDFORD FLEMING
All arrangements having been made, the naval officer
left Toronto on the 9th May, armed with explicit written
instructions, and caught the Warrimoo at Vancouver.
Having seen his lieutenant safely off upon this momentous
journey, Fleming sat down and wrote a report to the Cana
dian High Commissioner in London.
* In view', he wrote, ' of the Conference to be held here
next month, I felt that the decisive moment had come, and
not a day to spare, and that circumstances appeared to
throw the duty of taking action upon myself, and that I
should at once set about it without counting the cost; I
have, therefore, on my own responsibility as a private
individual, and without the official knowledge of any one
here, arranged to place the British flag in the Queen's name
on this island in the Pacific, unoccupied and unclaimed by
any maritime power. The gentleman I have sent left with
my private instructions two days ago. He is a British
subject, and was at one time in the British navy. ... I
have reason to believe the flag will float over Necker Island
within the present month, and before the Conference meets
I shall hope to learn that all has been satisfactorily accomplished. I believe the man I have selected is a discreet
person, who will keep his own counsel, and he is instructed
to report only to me. By this course I think Necker Island
will pass under the British flag, without even my own name
being known, and it will then rest with the British Government to see that it remains a British possession.
' As the Home Government may hear of the proceeding
before long through some other channel, and you have direct
relations with them, I think you should as soon as possible
be placed in possession of the facts. I do not propose, for
the present at least, to communicate them to any other
person/
Sir Charles Tupper took an early opportunity of communicating the substance of this important letter to the Imperial
authorities; and on the 31st May, Fleming received from
him the following cablegram :—
' Rosebery much annoyed at action.   Will repudiate.
 A DIPLOMATIC MISSION TO HONOLULU    177
Fears will destroy good prospect of obtaining Necker.
Prevent action becoming public, if possible.'
The following day (June 1) Fleming wrote the High Commissioner in further explanation of his action. He enclosed
a copy of his private instructions to the nautical expert,
from which he thought it was clear that ' there were no
grounds for the fears expressed by Lord Rosebery'.
' When I wrote you,' he continued, ' I considered it only
necessary to refer to one object of the expedition, that not
even mentioned in my instructions, and only remotely
alluded to in the words " leave behind you evidences of your
visit". The other object is to gain some knowledge of
Necker Island. We scarcely know more than that it exists,
and the movement for a British cable between Australia and
Canada has obviously reached that stage when we should
know how far it may be suitable for a mid-ocean telegraph
station. It is manifestly important that this knowledge
should be obtained before the Conference meets, and it can
only be gained by an examination such as that undertaken.
With respect to either object, we all recognized that there
was, and is, a difficulty in having anything done by the
Government. In consequence of this the duty seemed to
devolve upon some one outside of the Government to move
in the matter, and it was necessary to do so at once. Rightly
or wrongly, I assumed the sole responsibility. If wrongly,
I must bear the whole blame, for although others privately
knew, no one here disapproved of the action to be taken,
and I took care that no one officially was cognizant of it.
I deeply regret that anything was done which would cause
even temporary annoyance in any quarter, and while all
censure must rest on me, I can only say that the action was
taken only to advance the public interest.'
Meanwhile the naval officer was speeding south to Honolulu, where he landed on the 24th May. Fleming had a note
from the naval officer announcing his arrival at Vancouver
and departure therefrom ; and he presently received a fuller
report from Honolulu. The time for action had arrived,
and the agent entrusted with the matter lost not a moment
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SANDFORD FLEMING
in prosecuting his delicate mission. He called as early as
possible the following morning upon the merchant to whom
Fleming's telegram had been addressed, to present his letter
of introduction, and ascertain what steps had been taken to
provide him with a suitable vessel for the Necker Island
expedition.
The senior member of the firm, who it appears was British
Vice-Consul at Honolulu, was not in town, but his partner
received the naval officer, read his introductory letter, and
told him they had been somewhat at a loss to understand the
message from Fleming, but supposed that the individual
mentioned as being en route was simply bent on making
a pleasure excursion among the islands, to see the volcanoes,
&c. Under this impression they had made inquiries, and
had the offer of two boats, the only craft available and
suitable for the purpose. One of these steamers, the Lehua,
was ready the same day that the Warrimoo arrived, and the
other, the Iwalani, would be available to-day. The former,
which was a small, slow boat, could be had for $100 a day,
and the latter, a much better and faster steamer, for $250
a day, all found. Neither had been definitely engaged,
pending the arrival of the naval officer. It appeared also
that these rates only applied to a trip among the Hawaiian
Islands.
Finding matters thus, the naval officer deemed it necessary
to explain that his objective point was beyond the Hawaiian
group, and as this member of the firm was acting more or
less as Assistant British Consul, he conceived it best to explain
ful