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BC Sessional Papers

DOMINION AID TO PROVINCIAL RAILWAYS. Copy of a Report of a Committee of the Honourable the Executive… British Columbia. Legislative Assembly 1887

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 50 Vic. Dominion Aid to Provincial Railways. 369
Copy of a Report of a Committee of the Honourable the Executive  Council, approved by His
Honour the Lieutenant-Governor on the 4th day of November, 1887.
The Committee of Council beg to draw the attention of the Dominion Government to the
urgent need of Provincial railways for the development, in any adequate manner, of the vast
latent resources of British Columbia, and to press her claim to a share of the large sums voted
annually by the Parliament of Canada in aid of local railways.
Taking, only, the last session of Parliament, it is found that about two millions and a
half of dollars were voted for such purposes, viz.:—Quebec over a million ; Ontario, $834,000 ;
New Brunswick, $354,000 ; and Nova Scotia, $275,000.
These sums were doubtless expended in the best interests of the several Provinces named,
and, therefore, of the whole Dominion; but it is felt that any assistance similarly given to
British Columbia would become reproductive to the federal treasury in a much shorter period,
and to a very much greater extent, than the subsidies above mentioned : it is an admitted and
well-known fact that gold miners everywhere, but more particularly so on the Pacific Coast, are
consumers greatly in excess of other communities, and tax-payers in proportion.
The extensive and important mining district of Cariboo is, comparatively speaking, deserted,
and its numerous and almost limitless quartz ledges remain undeveloped for want of cheaper
means of transport. A branch line from some point on the Canadian Pacific Railway into the
heart of that district has become a necessity, and could hardly fail to prove itself, almost at
once, of immense importance to the Dominion, as well as to the Province. It would, also, act
as an important feeder to the Canadian Pacific Railway.
In view of the mineral and timber wealth of Vancouver Island, and the very extensive
and valuable fishing grouirds adjacent thereto, the extension of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo
Railway to the northern end of the Island is an undertaking of great importance to the progress
not only of the Island, but also of the whole of the North-West Coast. Without such extension
the vast resources mentioned must remain only very partially utilized for many years.
A further and, it is submitted, a stronger argument, considered from a national point of
view, can be urged in favour of this extension,— that in the event of war it would, by affording
means of timely warning and rapid transport, very considerably lesson, if not altogether avert,
the great danger of the valuable coal stores and the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway
falling into the hands of the enemy by a coup de main via the northern end of Vancouver
Island, Johnston's Straits, and Seymour Narrows. This consideration appeals to and affects
Imperial as well as Dominion and Provincial interests.
The Okanagan and Shuswap Railway, connecting the waters of the Okanagan with those
of the South Thompson River, is also a work of great importance, tending, as it would, to the
rapid development of a vast region of country possessing great agricultural and pastoral
possibilities, and believed to be rich in minerals. Such a line like that to Cariboo would
become an important feeder to the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The Committee of Council recommend that immediate steps be taken with a view to
obtaining from the Dominion Government such substantial assistance as will enable these works
to be undertaken, and, further, that a copy of this Minute, if approved, be forwarded to the
Honourable the Secretary of State for the information of His Excellency the Governor-General
in Council.
(Signed)        T. Elwyn,
Deputy Clerk Executive Council.


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