BC Sessional Papers

CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO THE NORTHERN RAILWAY. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly 1890

Item Metadata


JSON: bcsessional-1.0062774.json
JSON-LD: bcsessional-1.0062774-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcsessional-1.0062774-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcsessional-1.0062774-rdf.json
Turtle: bcsessional-1.0062774-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcsessional-1.0062774-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcsessional-1.0062774-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

Victoria, August 23rd, 1886.
To the Editor:—In former letters it was endeavoured to open the eyes of Canada to
the proposition that Vancouver Island is or is to be the road to Alaska, Queen Charlotte
Islands, Fort Simpson, the northern coast of the Mainland, the west and east coasts of Vancouver Island, and the fishing banks, now, thanks to the Canadian Government, about to be
That were a railroad built to the north end of Vancouver Island, with steamers to the north,
Fort Simpson could be reached from Esquimalt in forty hours, and Alaska in a short time also.
That by those means the trade of the north and passenger traffic would be gained and controlled ; that the Island would be quickly teeming with settlers, and the west coast of Vancouver Island be but a few hours distance from Esquimalt, and the dangers of traversing the
narrow inland channels in a great measure avoided, and the expense of maintaining very
numerous lighthouses diminished. The idea entertained by some that Vancouver Island is only
a mass of rock is a delusion, the result of ignorance. Vancouver Island is capable of maintaining a large population, and would have had this ere now had the lands been accessible. Even
as it is, look at the settlements from Esquimalt to Comox. That which has taken place as far
as Comox can be extended to the north end of the Island and northern coast. A railway will
hasten the "future,"—indeed, "future" in this respect is a mere material thing—climb up
the future, take a piece out of it and bring it down to be used now. This piece of the "future"
is a railroad. The Island can be settled now; trade can be had now by means of a railroad,
and if the Canadian Government will cultivate or foster sea fisheries there will be an abundance
of work for it to do—in fact the one will encourage and foster the other. To wait until the
Island is settled before building a railroad, is to wait a long time, and is not consistent with
modern ideas of railroads. Railroads now take the place of waggon roads; they are cheaper
in the end, and the advantages of them over waggon roads are greater than can be estimated;
they make the "future" close, and distance near; in fact, business is done now by means of
railroads, steamers, telegraph, &c, in a short time that formerly took months or years to
accomplish.    Traders must keep abreast of the times or fall into the background.
Vancouver Island then occupies a remarkable and valuable geographical position—has
plenty of land to suit even poor people; an advantage which but few places can boast of. It
does not take many acres of land to support a family. It will not be more difficult to build
the railroad from Nanaimo to the north than it has been to construct it from Nanaimo to
Esquimalt. The latter has been completed—the end of the beginning. To complete the
remainder within five years only requires the assistance of the Canadian and Local Governments—assistance now, which will repay them handsomely ere long. All that is necessary is
for the Local Government to give land, and for the Dominion Government to give a cash sub- Correspondence—Northern Railway. 1889
sidy for a number of years, in order that an interest of two per cent, per annum may be
secured to capitalists for a given period. More than sufficient capital could easily be obtained
by this means. It will not be more to give this subsidy to the Island railway, for the purpose
of fostering and securing trade and commerce for the Dominion, than it is to subsidize steamers
to Australia and China. The same reason of defence and offence holds good also. Of course
it would be advantageous were Mr. Dunsmuir, with his extraordinary public spirit, to undertake the work; he would do it cheaper and would do it better than anyone else; but if it had
to be put up for a public bid, it certainly would be to the advantage of the Northern Pacific
Railroad to build it, constituting, as it would, a line from the United States south to the, at
present, disunited one—Alaska. Of course, the C. P. R. might want it, but they once rejected
it; they may solicit now if the Directors have become wiser. Anyhow, when once the scheme
is open for a bid under some such conditions as mentioned, depend upon it there will be no
want of applicants.    It is a good thing.
The Canadian Pacific Railway possibly did not see what is now dawning and soon will be
clear, that a man will travel by railway from Winnipeg to Fort Simpson and Alaska, return
by boat and Vancouver Island Railway, to the Canadian Pacific Railway and on back to
Winnipeg, a circuit and girdle for trade, the dimensions to be filled up as occasion may require.
The round trip will be performed in less than twenty days. The same can and will be done
by means of the Northern Pacific Railway.
J. S. H.
A Northern Coast Railroad.
The more the suggestion of "J. S. H." for a northern coast railroad is considered, the
more feasible does it appear, and the more reasonable its details. It is not intended that this
remark should be taken for a thorough endorsement of its present practicability,—for to make
such an assertion would be indicative of an impetuosity not at all consonant with careful
deliberation. Yet, as far as it has been explained—and it has been explained by our correspondent most ably—the inductions appear logical, and all of them tangible, excepting, perhaps,
that as to the immediate necessity of such a line—whether circumstances are such as to
apparently warrant such an anticipation of what will certainly one day be a decided requirement of trade. As to just when that day may be, one's judgment, even though based upon
experience and observation, may err ; and yet it is upon a correct conclusion on this point
that the success of the work would depend. The time was when railways followed settlement
more than caused it; but here, on the American continent, the experiment was tried of
making them the pioneers of civilization. How well it has succeeded has become a by-word,
and the question now bears more as to what grounds there are for reasonably supposing such
settlement would follow ; in other words, what inducements would the nature of the country
thus opened up to communication with commercial points offer of a fairly profitable trade 1
We have seen so many enterprises that at one time seemed startling crowned with
success, as to hesitate in speaking with positivism of this proposed line of railway, even under
the present aspect of the case. There is a good quantity of agricultural land on the north-east
coast of the island—sufficient for very many homesteads ; there are fresh fields for the lumber
industry, also that of fishing, including the black cod banks of Queen Charlotte Islands ; and
there is the northward travel of all who would be concerned in these fields, besides miners and
tourists. Such reflections furnish appreciable ground for supposing that a north coast line
might be a profitable investment if impetus were given to the comparatively undisturbed
resources of our country. The cost, without doubt, would be great; and in saying this, we
believe it is too great to promise to be a paying speculation in the immediate future. We
reserve the right to modify our opinion, concurrent with those changes of circumstances that
so materially alter cases. One of these would be the contemplated construction of a more
northern overland route.—Colonist, September 12th, 1886. 53 Vic. Correspondence—Northern Railway.
Victoria, September 10th,  1886.
To the Editor :—Very good authority says that the railway running through the whole
length of Vancouver Island to its northern end can be built at once, provided that a certain
amount of interest per annum for a fixed number of years be guaranteed upon an amount of
capital to be agreed upon. That when the earnings of the railway pay this amount of interest
the guaranteed interest shall cease; and in any case the guarantors shall not at any time be
called upon to pay more than sufficient to make up the earnings of the railway to yield the
agreed upon percentage upon the agreed upon capital.
The above is verbose, but it is hoped that readers may be able to grasp the principle.
Say, then, the capital required will be five million dollars. Say the interest shall be two
per cent, per annum—and here let it be remarked that the greater the number of years guaranteed the lower might be the rate of interest per annum. As the railway will be the
property of the railroad company, they ought to share the risk, if any.
The foregoing is only an ideal sketch of a plan to get the railroad built, but it may by
many be considered too favoui'able a showing. Those who think so may add to the figures as
much as they please. The principle will remain the same; a few thousands more will only
stagger small-ideaed people. Fast travelling is expensive, but it pays; time well spent is
money. How much has it cost during the past forty years to people the small extent now
occupied of Vancouver Island 1 To settle an infinitely larger area of the island, with great
accruing profits from this and other sources, will cost much less by the scheme proposed, and
the time, instead of being forty more years, will be very, very much less. The railway can
easily be built within the next five years; people will accompany it step by step, and business
will be more than proportional.
What matters it if the Province pays a million or so dollars, when by so doing the island
can be quickly peopled, rapid communication had with the east and west coast, and, following
this, as a matter of course, ships bringing trade to and from Alaska, from the coasts of the
mainland, and, as Mr. Moore states, from China and Japan, and, naturally also, from Queen
Charlotte Islands and the various fisheries round about. Add to these the probability of a
railway from the interior to Bute Inlet and a ferry across, or to Fort Simpson and Alaska with
steamboat connection, and it will at once be seen that the outlay will be profitable to British
Columbia and undoubtedly to the Federal Government, as they would receive a large
additional income from a large, new, and ever-increasing trade. It need scarcely be added
that as a ferry is practicable between Burrard Inlet and Nanaimo, so it is equally practicable
between Bute Inlet and Vancouver Island, or quite as easily between Puget Sound and
Esquimalt. Look at the other side : Without this expenditure the Province will walk with
laggard step, and the advantages of trade, and so forth, fall into other hands, going ahead of
the Province and Canada. Additional prosperity can be achieved by additional outlay, and
this can be achieved, not by apathy and inertness, but by a long pull, a strong pull, and a
pull altogether.
J. S. H.
P. S.—What relation will the Hudson's Bay railway bear to Bute Inlet and Fort
Simpson ?
Victoria, September 17th, 1886.
To the Editor :—WANTED, a bond fide proposal from a bond, fide company to build,
equip and maintain a railroad between Esquimalt and the northern end of Vancouver Island,
the railway to be the property of the company. It must be understood that three-fourths of
the subsidy required to assist in building the railroad, or guaranteeing interest upon a certain
and fixed amount of capital for a definite period, will have to be procured from the Government of Canada, and the remaining fourth from the Government of British Columbia; but it
is at the same time proposed that each party should consult the other, in order that a practical
scheme suitable to all may be tendered. Of course, it would simplify matters amazingly if
the Province would pay cash; but as the current revenue will not bear additional outlay
burdens, and as the public, it is grievous to say, may be averse to any increase of taxation, Correspondence—Northern Railway. 1889
even for this national, essential, and remunerative work, it is proposed to give land in lieu of
cash. The company, therefore, in their tender will have to state the amount of land or money
required, a,nd whether the latter be payable in a lump sum or annually, to guarantee a certain
rate of interest upon a fixed amount of capital, the payment to cease at a definite period, or
when the earnings of the road become sufficient to pay interest (say two per cent.) on the fixed
amount of capital.
The railway will pass through fertile land sufficient to sustain one hundred thousand
agriculturists. It will also traverse beds of coal, iron, and minerals which will afford support
to a large number of miners, artizans and labourers, who will, with other natural inducements,
be the cause of creating new and populous towns, thus increasing very materially the population to say two hundred thousand people. In addition to these local people, their productions
and necessary unavoidable travel, the railway will be likewise sustained and nourished by the
products of fisheries, including the fur seal, and the ships and men employed in those pursuits.
The railway will also become the highway to the northern American possession, viz., Alaska,
and will, with other adjuncts, be the means of carrying freight and passengers to and from
those regions. Coupled with this will be the intercourse with Queen Charlotte Islands and
the north-west coast, adding very greatly to the traffic and earnings of the railway, besides
being the cause of an ever-increasing commerce and ever-enlarging population, The use of the
railway will also probably be required for naval, military, and other Imperial purposes—such
as rapid transit to places when Indian troubles may break out, and so forth—or the Local
Government may require it for similar purposes. To enable the company to form some idea
of the progress likely to be "made in the near future, past history will be a guide. A dozen
years or so ago two or three steamboats annually visited the northern coast, Alaska (Sitka)
and Queen Charlotte Islands. Now, the Americans have two steamers per month going to
Alaska, well laden with passengers and merchandise. Formerly, the Hudson 'Bay Company
and others sent their steamer to barter with the Indian population, exchanging one perishable
article for another equally perishable ; whereas now the trade, whether with whites or Indians,
is conducted with imperishable gold or silver. Of late years the population and traffic have
greatly increased, dozens of steamers, sailing vessels and schooners employed, on account of
various industries having been established; fisheries worked, paying mines of gold and
minerals discovered and worked on the coast, as well as in the interior, the latter having their
communications with the northern coast. These mines and so forth are only the forerunners
of greater industries. A dozen years ago but few settlements existed in Vancouver Island.
Now they are becoming rapidly more numerous. A small steamer would visit Nanaimo once
a week, and Comox twice a month ; they carried but few passengers and but little freight.
Now steamers almost daily run to and fro, well laden with passengers and merchandise. The
coal mining industry has grown wonderfully, giving employment to a large number of ships
and men. A similar statement may be made of the lumber trade and sawmills in connection
therewith. The gigantic trade in salmon has come into existence, as well south as north, and
is ever on the increase. The west coast of Vancouver Island now shows great signs of
vitality, whereas formerly it was only the home of Indians, missionaries, and a few white
traders. Within the past dozen years, also, the Northern Pacific and the Canadian Pacific
Railways, and only a little more anciently the Central Pacific Railway, have been called into
existence, bringing life, commerce, activity and people to places where few or none existed
before. This history and enumeration of the past dozen years might be considerably, perhaps
advantageously, extended; but sufficient has been related to show the great progress made
within the past few years. At this rate of progress, what will ensue within the next dozen
years 1 The country cannot go back—must go forward—by pressure and also attraction of
British and American forces. How wonderfully, too, the traffic between San Francisco,
Puget Sound and other places has increased is a matter astonishing. Their history will show
that more facilities for more rapid communication, with increasing distances and new demands,
necessitates the railroad to bring distances close to our gates. When it is considered that the
geographical position of Vancouver Island renders it the most suitable and, indeed, the only
terrestial highway near the coast to Alaska and the British northern possessions, it follows
that this necessary railway must pass through Vancouver Island from south to north, and
that the sooner it is put through the more chance it will have of capturing the north and west
trade. At the northern terminus there will be cities the same as south, having communication by steamships and sailing vessels with the ever-growing population and trade of the
northern countries, whether they be British or American.    Vancouver Island is practicable 53 Vic. Correspondence—Northern Railway.
for a railway, and it must be plain from the above that it will, shortly after construction and
by good management, be made to pay handsomely, because it can, with the aid of British
Columbia merchants and Canadian enterprise, command the greater portion of the trade and
passenger traffic, not only of Vancouver Island but also of the north-west coast; and last, but
not least, Alaska.
It will soon pay the Canadian Government, i. «., Canada, because a growth of population
to 5,000 families will increase the revenue of the Dominion one hundred thousand dollars per
annum, exclusive of that derived from additional commerce. It will pay the Canadians
because it will afford them a larger market for their manufactures and productions, and by the
same token pay Americans likewise. It will, undoubtedly, pay British Columbia largely;—in
fact, with her it will be merely placing her small capital, whether money or land, in a profitable
business cheaply. Merchants lay out capital to make a business. British Columbia will do
likewise.     Nothing venture, nothing have !
For further particulars apply to the Federal and British Columbia Governments.
Thanks to you, Mr. Editor, I have said my say. Whether the legacy will grow and bear
fruit soon—for perish it cannot—must be left to the inhabitants and their representatives, the
Executive and members of the Dominion and Local Governments.
Now, gentlemen, send in your bids for the carrying trade of Vancouver Island, also that
of the north-west coast, and a highway to Alaska. The honour and glory of peopling the
country will be thrown in.
J. S. H.
Victoria, September 28th,  1886.
To the Editor :—Pessimists growl that Vancouver Island is poor and cannot afford to
bear the expense of building a railway to its northern end. They do not make a distinction
between the country and the inhabitants thereof, The country is rich, Forty years ago Fort
Rupert (at the north end of the island) exported cargoes of coal to San Francisco. It was
rich then in coal and people; now only rich in coal and other of nature's treasures. Forty
years ago—aye, thousands of years ago, if you please—Nanaimo was rich, but apparently to
the eye barren, poor, and unpopulated. To-day it looks rich and prosperous, although, indeed,
it is poorer than forty years ago—poorer by the amount of coal stolen from the mines and
sent up the chimneys of receivers. The coal did not dislocate itself—but a number of people
arrived who removed nature's stores, opened her bowels, and by so doing enriched themselves.
The inhabitants became and are prosperous. The earth was compelled to give up her riches,
and the industrious people put them into their pockets. A country may be rich, but without
people to appropriate the riches it remains stagnant.
There is a large portion of the island looking as barren and poor as Nanaimo, and even
Victoria District, did forty years ago. This large portion retains its riches undisturbed.
Why ? Because there are no suitable people on the ground to make her yield them. It is
dormant, not poor. For instance, plow this now poordookiny land, and each acre will deliver
annually thirty or more dollars in the shape of agricultural and horticultural products—in
this case the prosperity will not be derived from coal. It is only a difference between educts
and products. Muscle, brain and capital are required for each—but the agriculturalist's
muscle, brain, industry, and the judicious use thereof, are his capital. It is his own; he does
not borrow it, excepting from his food. Say one farmer cultivates twenty acres of land—the
produce thereof will be six hundred dollars' worth per annum. One thousand farmers will
therefore cause the earth to produce six hundred thousand dollars annually from twenty
thousand acres of land. One hundred thousand acres would therefore produce three million
dollars per annum ! There are at least a million acres of such land on the island, and four
millions more for similar or other purposes. Yet ignorant pessimists say the island is poor !
Ridiculous nonsense ! What is wanted has been clearly shown to be people—these being
what the country is poor in.
Of course the farmers would consume say twenty per cent, of the produce of the land at
first; but in ten years a thousand farmers would certainly have five hundred thousand dollars
per annum to sell or exchange  for other needed  articles.    Remember, this produce would be Correspondence—Northern Railway.
new and created wealth—an annual birth ! Cannot merchants, manufacturers, artizans,
mechanics, railways, steamboats, and so forth, see and foresee the grand effect upon them and
the whole country of this new vivifying influence and power? Let it be asked whether,
instead of lazily moaning and muttering "times are bad," it would not be better if they exerted
themselves a little to help to better things, i. e., by getting people into the country, which
means to say, using their influence to get a railway through the country to the north to carry
them in. The whole country would be ma<le to pi'osper, and Nanaimo be twice as large and
more than twice as prosperous as now. What is the difference between British Columbia now
and forty years ago ? Simply the settling of people to live or enrich themselves by appropriating nature's treasures, or upon those who procure them. What else brought us all here ?
Those who have settled on land have become well to do ; add more, and they will also prosper
themselves and assist others to do so.
Having done with " poor," building must now be dealt with. Pessimist is wrong. The
scheme never proposed that the country should build a railway, but that a company should do
so with their own money, and when built that it should be the property of the company.
What the Province has to do is to provide, say, forty thousand dollars per annum for the
purpose of guaranteeing two per cent, per annum, or, say, one million and a half of dollars,
this being the portion the Province has to bear. Pessimists ask, where's the money to come
from 1 Look ! The island possesses five million stagnant acres. These five million acres are
worth money if a railway passes through them, but are worth nothing to the Province without
a railway. Give, then, the railway company the money's worth in land,—say somewhere
about a million acres of land in one block, square or oblong. This would at once relieve the
Province from the payment of any interest in money. (Of this more by and bye,) So,
pessimist, you may now be able to see that the country is rich and not poor, and that she can
afford her share of the sum necessary to guarantee the interest on the bonds. By giving land
the Province will get a railway and inhabitants on the land at one stroke—for it is population
and production that the railway, as well as the Province, requires. The land will be well
Having shown that the country is not poor, and that it is not called upon to build a
railway, but only asked to pay forty thousand dollars per annum, which the country, as also
the inhabitants, can easily afford to do, it must now be remembered that the scheme takes it
as incontrovertible that the railway will be sustained not only by local traffic, but also
nourished by a new trade, by carrying American goods in bond to Alaska, and passengers;
also by an increased business with the north-west coast and Queen Charlotte Islands. The
railway will be beneficial to all these and to the Province, and therefore to Canada. The only
way to get settlers, the wealth producers and business creators, on the land, and gain new
trade in new regions, is by means of a railway. If new sources of wealth be necessary, and
no one will say they are not, then a railroad is a necessity, and, being so, obstacles to its
construction must be overcome. People must be prepared to make present investment of land
or money for future gain. The country has done much for us; it is but right and proper that
we should do something for the country.    By helping her we shall be helping ourselves.
J. S. H.
Victoria, B. C, October 1st, 1886.
To the Editor :—True it is that, since the above was written, my old friend Mr.
Dunsmuir invited me to take a trip to Nanaimo. I went over a most excellent road, in a
most excellent carriage, and in pretty quick time. People had better go and see not only the
tremendous work that has been clone, but also the magnificent scenery, Let, however, people's
eyes not deceive them. The eye will see very little cultivated land and very few people on
the route; but although not seen, plenty of cultivated land and people exist at Cowichan,
Chemainus, and other places. The railroad runs through the bush, and farms and farmers
are hidden from view by the bush. The trip makes one more sure of the desirability of
extending the railroad, and the practicability of doing so.
J. S. H. 53 Vic. Correspondence—Northern Railway.
Victoria, October 7th, 1886.
To the Editor:—In a former communication, published last Sunday, it was stated that
Vancouver Island alone had still one million acres of land lying dormant, rich and ready to
produce grain ; and four millions more acres for other useful purposes, such as lumbering,
mining and stock-feeding. It was likewise stated that by running a railway through this
land it would soon have producers on it, but not without. That the provincial share of
guarantee for such a railway would be about forty thousand dollars per annum for a limited
period. That "one thousand additional farmers, each cultivating twenty acres of new land,
would cause the earth to produce annually six hundred thousand dollars from twenty thousand
acres of land, and more when they extended the area of cultivation." Of course allowance
has to be made for the farmers' consumption. That this wealth would be new and created
annually, but only to be had by getting a railway built to enable the farmers to get to and
from an otherwise comparatively inaccessible country. The vivifying influence on commerce
of such a creation of new wealth was mentioned at the same time. There has now been
placed before me a Dominion blue book. Its revelations are terrifyingly true. The Province
paid for imported provisions during the year 1885 no less a sum than six hundred thousand
dollars, and one hundred thousand dollars more for customs duties! The whole of these, and
more, the land of the Province could have produced. Why did it not do so? Simply because
it had not a sufficient number of industrious farmers to clo the necessary work. How was
this food paid for ?    Possibly by the country's gold, coal, lumber and fish.    This is
sending the country away to foreigners
with a vengeance, and reducing it to poverty without any adequate benefit to itself. The
coal, gold and lumber cannot be replaced—they are gone forever ! Look at Cariboo and take
The quantity of this imported food has doubled within the past ten years ! How long
can this drain be borne ? How much longer shall this prodigality continue ? How long save
at the spigot and let out at the bunghole ? The candle is burning at both ends. This old
and still growing complaint is removable and remediable, but requires not apathetic but
energetic treatment. That our country could have produced this $600,000 worth, and saved
the $100,000 more paid for customs duties, take the following example: For imported flour,
wheat, barley, oats and oatmeal, the country paid to foreigners (in round numbers) $250,000,
and in addition $36,000 for customs duties. By the cultivation of only fifteen thousand acres
of our own country's land all this flour, wheat, barley and oats could have been produced; the
$250,000 put into local circulation in the Province, and the $36,000 for customs duties saved !
The remainder of the $600,000 worth, and the $100,000 customs dues, resulted from the
importation of butter, 323,000 lbs.; sheep, 19,183; hogs, 2,000; cattle, 576; lard, 210,000
lbs.; and hams, 786,000 lbs. ! What a frightful picture for a country possessing a splendid
climate and millions of acres of fertile land. To cultivate fifteen thousand acres of new land
less than seven hundred and fifty new industrious farmers are required, and for raising the
butter, sheep, hogs and so forth, say two hundred and fifty more, making one thousand new
agriculturalists in the whole. That is to say, get a thousand new agriculturalists settled, and
they will cause to be produced in the Province the provisions for which the Province now pays
to foreigners
and an additional $100,000 customs duties annually. The remedy for the disease is then
evidently a thousand and more additional agriculturalists. What does a thousand industrious
men engaged in agri—and other culture mean ? Means the occupation of one hundred and
fifty thousand acres of land, and the creation of $600,000 new wealth ; wives, cows, hogs,
poultry and their produce; mills and millers; coopers and carpenters ; blacksmiths and
labourers; life, activity and cheeriness where dismal solitude and weirdness now reign.
Means a thousand additional people supplementary to the agriculturalists. The farmer
exchanges with the miller, the miller with the cooper, blacksmith and machinist, the
machinist with labourers of various kinds, and all with traders, public-houses, churches, and so
forth, before their produce leaves the Province to pay for goods that she cannot yet manufacture. The proceeds of the country do their duty to the country first by supplying residents,
miners, lumber and fishermen.    The coal, lumber, gold, fish and so forth, sent foreign is not a Correspondence—Northern Railway'. 1889
matter of barter, but paid by cash. The lumber, coal and fish trade would not be lessened in
consequence of our growing our own food, and ceasing to import it from foreign. The farmer
would receive the money from the lumbermen, mill-owners, etc., now sent foreign to buy
provisions, and so benefit the local industries and our country. It is, then, to the interest of
all to promote and
The home market is undoubtedly good. The exchange of coal, lumber, fish and so forth for
foreign flour, wheat and other esculents may suit short-sighted, non-producing traders, but it
will not people our lands, and indeed does traders but little good. Dare traders, machinists,
artisans and so forth—dare they say that they would not receive more benefit from the circulation of half a million of new wealth than they do now from the petty commissions and
profits on foreign imported cereals ? Who can foretell what new local, industrial interests and
pursuits may arise from the new created wealth. Towns are subsidiary to the country; the
former will prosper with the latter ; the one is essential, necessary and complimentary to the
other. The leg must not complain of the arm. They ought to work in unison, support each
other, and be one body. How is it that production, and the great gain to be derived therefrom, has been neglected ? Has the Province paid too great attention to school education, and
too little to teaching industrial pursuits ? The two ought to have gone hand in hand. In
order to get these desirable settlers on Vancouver Island it has been said over and over again,
and is now repeated, a railroad must forthwith be constructed, i. e., extending the existing
Nanaimo Railway to the northern end of the Island, through the now comparatively inaccessible but rich, though dormant and unpeopled, lands. Remember the greater part of the flour,
wheat, oats and barley imported are consumed on the Island and the people on the coast, and
remember, too, that about fifteen thousand acres of land will yield them. There is the land,
get workers thereon.    The cost to the Province of a railway will be about
for a limited period. The duties paid annually on imported flour, wheat, barley, oats and
hogs (the $60,000 for butter and animals are omitted) amount also to $40,000 ! Speak then,
gentlemen, will you prefer paying $40,000 per annum for a limited period for a railway, with
its advantages for settlement, growing your food, the formation of a commercial distributing
city north, supplying merchandise and passengers for the whole of the north-west, including
Alaska ; the creation of $250,000 new and additional wealth, and the saving of the $40,000
now paid for customs duties on flour, etc.; or will you prefer continuing to pay foreigners
$250,000 for provisions, and $40,000 additional for customs duties, besides leaving your own
country unpeopled and unproductive, and losing the point and town for the distribution of
passengers and merchandise to the whole of the north-west. Which will you prefer ? To
make yourselves and country progressive and prosperous, or to retrograde and go on building
up foreign, and commercially inimical, countries ? You see the $40,000 for the one or the
other are equal !
P.S.—Let it be known that the writer has no interest whatever in this (to be) railroad,
save such as becomes every individual who has his country's interest at heart. He makes a
present of the conception to the public and their representatives, hoping they will bring it to
maturity—the sooner the better for them and the country.
J. S. H.
Victoria, October 20th, 1886.
To the Editor :—That the Federal Government, Sir John A. Macdonald being chief,
desires the prosperity of every part of the Dominion goes without saying. That the heroic
leader of the Government will do all he can to advance still further the prosperity of the
country does not admit of doubt, and therefore as the extension of the Nanaimo Railway to
the north end of Vancouver Island will conduce very materially to the prosperity and
progress, not only of British Columbia, but also of the whole of the Dominion, there can
hardly be a doubt that the far-sighted and energetic leader of the Government, and the able
Ministers generally, will assist the building of this extension of  the northern railroad, but 53 Vic. Correspondence—Northern Railway.
whether in the shape of a money grant annually for a number of years, or a lump sum down,
or so much for each mile of the line completed, must be left to their consideration, always
remembering that the construction of railways on Vancouver Island costs more than in the
level and less difficult portions of the Dominion. On this and other accounts British Columbia desires the Federal Government to grant, for the construction of this railroad, say not less
than $100,000 per annum for a limited number of years (say twenty), British Columbia contributing $40,000 per annum, either in money or land, for a similar period for the same purpose.
This railroad is required for at least three special purposes:—
1. For Imperial purposes, as well here as elsewhere.
2. The settlement of Vancouver Island and adjacent archipelago.
3. The extensive developing and further acquisition of the trade and passenger traffic of
the north-west coast and Alaska.
Nature made Vancouver to be the natural protector of British Columbia. This duty is
to be fostered by the Imperial and Dominion Governments, who intend to extend the means
of defending their various interests, whether civil or military, at home or abroad, by means of
fortifications at Esquimalt and other parts of Vancouver Island. These fortifications will
probably require the extension of the Nanaimo Railway for the purpose of having rapid
communication with and transport to various strategic positions, not forgetting the desirability
of being able to get to Indian encampments and Indian troubles without unneedful and
dangerous delay.
That Vancouver Island should be peopled, and would pay to be peopled, has been proven
in a previous communication. That the further extension of settlement is difficult and will
be very slow is certain, except the railroad be built, rendering access to the lands quick, easy
and safe. With the railway the country will be settled quickly; without it the ensuing half
century and, perhaps more, may see it still dormant and stagnant, which means, in addition,
the loss of the trade and commerce of the great north-west, which she otherwise might have
Now is the opportunity, because people are flocking to this country seeking homes. The
access to the land not being easy, cheap, or rapid, they retire to other, and very often to
foreign, countries—a loss of valuable people—loss of new productions and wealth—loss of
consumers—loss of revenue—loss to themselves and to the Dominion. Every agriculturalist
is worth at least $20 per annum to the Dominion, and $500 per annum to British Columbia
in the shape of produce he would cause the soil to yield.
The length of the extension will be only about 175 miles, and the cost of construction,
say, about $5,000,000. To make matters short, the Island wants an abiding and producing
population. The fertile land is a certainty, its productive powers a certainty, its lovely
climate a certainty, its timber and minerals a certainty, its lakes and fish a certainty. To
make all these productive the means required is the railway. That this will bring and settle
an abiding, permanent, productive and rooted people upon it is a certainty. There are no ifs
about it. Miners may come and go, but the agriculturalist abides forever—to supply the
miners and other consumers—but those are too few to supply even the home market now.
Hence it is that the railway is so much wanted, as it will bring agriculturalists in its train.
That the settlement of the Island will be conducive to Dominion interests in the shape of
more taxable people and more consumers of Canadian or foreign goods and manufactures is
plain, and equally plain is the assertion that permanent, abiding settlers, and production from
asting productive sources is the true basis of a continuous prosperity. The northern terminus
of this railway will create a commercial city, and become the distributing point for the northwest coast, including Alaska and Queen Charlotte Islands, because by means of the railway
passengers and merchandise will be able to be carried much more safely and quickly and
cheaply, and the breakers of the narrow and tortuous channels between Vancouver Island
and the mainland be avoided.
It will now be advisable to take a chart. A glance thereat will show the position the
north end of the Island holds for commercial and other purposes with the great north and west
coast—and remember the coast leads to the interior where good land exists and metallic gold
is taken out. Observe the extent of coast, its bays and inlets, and the archipelago extending
from the Haro Straits to the far north, and observe the remarkable narrow, tortuous and
dangerous channels between and among them. Remembering, too, the Seymour Rapids,
which detain even steamships for hours daily.   Observe, also, Queen Charlotte Islands—fertile, 10 Correspondence—Northern Railway. 1889
and containing abundance of coal, timber and minerals. Observe, too, Alaska. Queen Charlotte Islands are about 125 miles from Vancouver Island, and Alaska only 240 miles from the
same point on Vancouver Island.
There is a seam of coal on Queen Charlotte Islands sixteen feet thick.
These northern are growing countries, containing gold and other riches and industries,
also a considerable number of whites and Indians who are well to do, and who would do
better, and have more wants, were there more conveniences in the shape of a northern commercial city, or more frequent and regular communication, not only to supply but to
encourage the growth of such wants. Such intercourse and communication will follow as a
matter of course.
It need scarcely be said that the population would soon increase; that they would consume Canadian goods and manufactures—supplying sustenance to the transcontinental roads,
and to the various cities, whether they be on the island or the mainland.
This railway is also required in order to successfully compete with outsiders in the commerce of the north. For by rapidity of motion, as far as time is concerned, now " distant
places " will be brought closer to our doors and " future " forestalled. British Columbia has
to be at once in the field. Outsiders will be handicapped by the Seymour rapids, and the
other difficulties, dangers and delays of the narrow, tortuous and difficult navigable narrow
channels leading north or south.
Let it be now observed, and attention paid to the observation, that British Columbia
pays in customs duties alone very nearly a million dollars annually, equivalent to $20 per
head for each man, woman and child in British Columbia, or three times more than is paid by
any other Province in the Dominion. The population, therefore, of British Columbia is equal
to one hundred and fifty thousand people in any other portion of the Dominion. Five
thousand British Columbians (equal to fifteen hundred families) would therefore contribute to
the Federal revenue one hundred thousand, dollars per annum, the total amount asked for from
the Dominion Government for a limited number oj years I Fifteen hundred families ! In a
very few years there would be an enormous increase of this number, and then the temporary
investment of the Dominion Government in this railway would pay them handsomely and
permanently year after year, and evermore increasing. Add to this the creation of an
extended market for eastern goods and manufactures—a creation destined rapidly to grow and
afford labour and profit to additional population. It remains to be said that in soliciting the
assistance of the Dominion Government, it is asking for a railway that will soon pay itself;
enhance very quickly the prosperity of British Columbia, and, indeed, the whole Dominion.
British Columbia has been the cause of the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, of
which the Dominion is now so justly proud, so British Columbia would now be the cause, by
means of the extension of the Nanaimo Railway north, of giving the Dominion largely
increased commerce, a largely increased number of people, and of adding one more laurel over
the brow of the illustrious head of the Government, and add a mite to the welfare of the
J. S. H.
Victoria, August 29th, 1889.
To the Editor:—The bustle and turmoil of the election being over, it may be expedient
to write a few lines about the extension of the Nanaimo and Esquimalt Railway to the north
of Vancouver Island. This extension must be considered as independent of the proposed
Canadian Western—a separate project. Whether the Canadian Western be built or not,
this Nanaimo extension ought to be built and running at a very early period, and not to be
dependent upon the success or failure of the Canadian Western. Although the latter will find
the former to be probably necessary to the completion of its scheme, still we must not allow
it to be considered as dependent thereon, but as a distinct enterprise; the failure of one must
not militate against the other.
Perhaps some few may read of, and fewer think over, the Nanaimo extension, but pray
beg both to take a map and see the relationship Vancouver Island holds to Queen Charlotte
Islands, Fort Simpson, the vast archipelago of islets intervening between it and the mainland.
They must notice, and indeed cannot ignore, the propinquity of Alaska. It will be observed
that 53 Vic. Correspondence—Northern Railway. 11
reckoning either from Washington Territory or Esquimalt, say, indeed, the Straits of Juan de
Fuca. The distance from the north end of the island to Fort Simpson (by water, of course)
is about four hundred miles; from the same point to Queen Charlotte Islands about 170 miles,
very much the same distance indeed as from Esquimalt to Tacoma, between which cities there
is now daily communication, although a very few years ago a weekly and weakly small steamer
almost more than sufficed to supply the wants of both ; an ordinary steamer could therefore
run from Vancouver Island to Fort Simpson or Alaska in thirty hours, to Queen Charlotte
Islands in a dozen. Supposing then the Vancouver Island railway built, the journey to Fort
Simpson or Alaska from Esquimalt need not occupy more than forty hours under very ordinary
conditions, and Queen Charlotte Islands be reached in less than twenty-four, whereas now it is
nearly impossible to get to Queen Charlotte Islands at all, and it takes more than four days to
get to the northern boundary line. Of course the time might be still further lessened if the
trains and steamers made quicker time than that reckoned on, viz.: twelve miles for a steamer
and thirty for a railway per hour.
It must on no account be forgotten that the Canadian Western Railway is designed to cross
That is to say, not far from Comox. The distance from this point to the north end of the
island is, say, about 170 miles ; so it will be seen that the Canadian Western need not build
this portion at all—a portion of the utmost importance to Vancouver Island, whether considered from a colonization, commercial or strategic point of view. Consider them combined,
and the answer is irresistible, viz.: the Vancouver Island Railway must be considered as a
separate and distinct undertaking, not dependent on the success or failure of the Canadian
Western scheme. The latter may die, the former must not, but indeed must have immediate
The late Hon. R. Dunsmuir, whose loss is a fearful calamity, doubtless intended extending the Nanaimo Railroad, at his own expense, from Wellington to the Union Mines, and
indeed the railway from the Union Mines Railroad he considered in the right line to Wellington. It is only necessary, then, to consider two hundred miles of railway, say from the
Union Mines, i. e., Comox, to the north end of the island. The cost of building this, in
connection with the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railroad, would be about $4,000,000. The
interest on $4,000,000, at two per cent, per annum, would amount to only $80,000 per annum,
or for twenty-five years to $2,000,000. Supposing twenty-five thousand people to exist now
on Vancouver Island ; if each paid one cent per diem toward this object it would amount in a
year to (leaving Sundays for the churches) $78,750,
if we consider the amount to be given by the Dominion to assist in paying the interest (say
one-half). Of course a tax levied on their real and personal property would be but a fraction,
say one-fourth of one per cent., to cover the needed amount, particularly if part of the interest
were paid in land in lieu of money. I think these figures show the practicability of Vancouver Island to build this so much needed railway, a railway which would return interest to
the taxpayer and country manifold.
Any one who pleases may reckon the cost to be five millions to construct both railway
and steamboats, and in this case the interest to be paid would be $100,000 per annum. Good
things are not to be had by writing or talking, but by paying for them. It comes to this in
the end anyhow.    What is to be gained by this
per annum ? A railway that will afford rapid ingress and egress to our lands, and to enable
people to get at and settle on them, which now is nearly impossible. Every additional industrious settler will increase business, and further, will help to lessen the one-fourth of one per
cent., so he will be doing two good things at once. Moreover, by producing grain, flesh, hay,
milk, eggs, fish, and other esculents, he will keep in the country the money sent away to foreign
countries for eatables, which our own lands can, and ought, be made to produce by moderate
labour and exertion of the settler. There is room for a million of such people, for Vancouver
Island is just the place for a poor man to settle, as he has there wood, water, fish and game at 12 Correspondence—Northern Railway. 1889
his very door.    Few people do more than live—to live is the prime necessity.    It takes very
little land to supply a man with all the necessary food.
In addition to this, it will become a commercial road, carrying goods and passengers not
only to British territory, but to and from Alaska. Let any one examine and note the number
of people and the quantity of goods travelling north, and he will soon learn that this is not
imaginary.    In this way the railroad will be beneficial to the whole of Canada and America.
This will certainly spring up at the terminus of and along the line, bringing in their
train new industries ; in fact Vancouver Island will have a great and industrial producing
population—the very thing it lacks now. Is not this sufficient remuneration for the outlay
of one-fourth of one per cent, per annum—or a cent a day for every individual ?
All this can be had independently of the Canadian Western. If and when this be built
no doubt it will only be too glad to make use of this Vancouver Island Railroad to the north,
and, in fact, will afford inducement and encouragement to the projectors of the Western or other
lines to come to the island, buy the railroad, and relieve us of the tax. Indeed, our trade with
Alaska—the carrying goods and passengers there from Eastern States and Canada—will be one
of the chief business supports of the line, as it is one of the chief inducements to build it. If,
however, the overland line be not built, the business of this island railway will be sufficient to
pay expenses, and give to the Province enormous benefits and advantages. This railway is
required at once ; without it, other places will advance ahead of us. It is ruinous to wait for
and depend upon the completion of the Western line. The Vancouver Island line is required
now, and the inhabitants are able to bear the cost. If they will not, then let them stick in the
mud, as they soon will do.    Providence helps those most who help themselves.
J. S. Helmcken.
Printed by Richard Wolfendkn, Printer to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty.


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items