Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (20 June 1866)

Document Information

Date: 1866-06-20
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 18-19.
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).

Click here to view the rest of the Province of Canada’s Confederation Debates for 1866.


WEDNESDAY, June 20th.

The speaker took the chair at 3 o’clock. The following bills were introduced and read a first time.

Mr. O’Halloran.—To divide the Townshop of Stanbridge into two Municipalities.

Mr. Taschereau.—To amend the Act 27 and 28 Victoria, chap. 23.

Mr. A. Dufresne—To amend the 7th section of chap. 39, 27 and 28 Victoria.

Mr. Taschereau.—To amend the Game Laws of Lower Canada.

Hon. J.H. Cameron.—To incorporate the Canada Vine Growers’ Association.

Hon. J.H Cameron—To amend the Act respecting the Superior Courts of Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction in Upper Canada.

Hon. J.H. Cameron.—To amend the Common Law Procedure Act of Upper Canada.

Hon. J.H. Cameron.—To amend the law relating to Crown Debtors in Upper Canada.

Mr. Pope.— To amend the Act respecting the Bureau of Agriculture and Agricultural Societies.

Hon. Mr. McGee laid on the table the report of the Department of Agriculture and Emigration for the year ending 30th June, 1865.

Mr. Taschereau enquired when the Government would pay to the townships of Lower Canada the sums due them in virtue of the Seignorial Act.

Hon. Mr. Galt said certain sums had already been paid to the townships on this account. The question as to arrears was now being considered by the Government with a view to arriving as an equitable settlement.

Mr. Robitaille moved to add Mr. McGivern to the Contingencies Committee.—Carried.

Mr. Geoffrion moved an address for a statement of disbursements for the analysis of Tumblety’s medicines, in 1857and 1857, and in the case of Barbinas, in 1863.

Hon. Mr. Brown moved an address for all correspondence that may have passed between the Ministers of Finance, or the Receiver General and the financial agents of the Province in England, since 1st January, 1865, on the subject of the unfunded indebtedness of the Province, and the negotiations of a loan to pay off said debt; also, copies of all correspondence between the Minister of Finance, or the Receiver General and the Bank of Montreal, on the same subject.—Carried.

Hon. J.S. Macdonald moved an address for a statement of all appointments made since the 20th day of March, 1864, in the Militia Department.—Carried.

J.P. Smith presented a petition of the Hon. George Brown for an Act to incorporate the Globe Printing Company.

Hon. Mr. Holton moved addresses for copies of all correspondence with the Imperial Government and Hudson Bay Company since last Session respecting acquisition by this Province of North Western Territory.—Carried.

Hon. J.A. Macdonald said he would look over the papers and find which of them could be brought down, at present he did not think it would be for the public interest to make the statement asked for.

Mr. Holton—Perhaps the Hon. gentleman would have the kindness to say whether any steps have been taken in pursuance of the policy announced last Session.

Hon. J.A. Macdonald asked the hon. member Chateauguay to postpone his motion for the present. As regarded the question he had put, he might renew it next week.

Hon. Mr. Brown—Has attention of the government been called to the movement just made by the Hudson Bay Company in that Territory.

Hon. J.A. Macdonald— What movement

Hon. Mr. Brown—I understand that the engineers have been sent in by the Hudson Bay Company with a view to settlement of the country.

Hon. J.A. Macdonald said the government had no information of this, and he was glad that South Oxford had mentioned it.

Hon. Mr. Brown thought the House was indebted to Chateauguay for bringing this matter forward. It was a subject of the greatest importance, and very extraordinary statements having been made a meetings of the company held since last Session, it was right the earliest attention of Parliament should be given to it. He hoped the Attorney General would place before the House at the earliest moment the fullest information.

The motion was then postponed.

Mr. McGivern moved the appointment of a select Committee to take into consideration subjects of the enlargement and deepening of the St. Lawrence canals, and the enlargement of the Welland canal.

Mr. Galt said every one would admit the importance of this subject, and at the proper time it would deserve to have the most earnest attention given to it. But in view of the approaching accomplishment of Confederation, and the pledge that this would be one of the first questions that would engage the attention of the general Government and Legislature, he did not see that any practical good would result from granting the Committee.

Hon. J.S. Macdonald said the necessity of improving our lines of water communication had been strongly urged in a speech from the throne, and he thought the question was one which the Government should deal with. He did not think it proper that a Committee should take it out of the hands of the Government. He would hold the Government to their responsibility in the matter. The meaning of the motion was, that the mover was dissatisfied with the dilatoriness Government, and considered they had been neglectful of the interests of the country.

Mr. Holton—That is a capital reason why the motion should be pressed. (Laughter.)

Mr. Galt thought the member for Cornwall carried his objections to Committees too far. He (Mr. Galt,) considered there were subjects which might be advantageously agitated by Committees of the House, with a view of the future action by the Government, and he did not believe it was the duty of the Government to oppose the granting of every Committee which might possibly have in view a grant from the public purse. This question of the enlargements of the canals was one, in regard to which, under ordinary circumstances, the Government might fairly acquiesce in a Committee. But for the reasons he had stated he hoped his hon. friend would not press the motion, as under existing circumstances it could lead to no practical result.

Mr. Holton, while he believed in the propriety of throwing the responsibility of all such legislation on the Government, could not consent to such an abridgement of the rights of the House, as it might be inferred from the doctrine, that no Committee whatever, of enquiry, as to the Public Works of the country should be assented to by the Government. He was sure, if this Committee was granted, some valuable information would be obtained by it.

Mr. McGivern said, when he last brought this subject under the attention of the House, the Government gave him to understand that the Committee would be granted this Session. He had no desire to embarrass the Government, or throw any obstacles in the way of Confederation, but, feeling as he did, the great importance of this subject, he did desire that it should receive he attention which was its due on the part of the Government and the Legislature of the country. (Hear, hear.)

The subject was one that might be considered somewhat dry in its details, but every one must admit that there was no question which more deeply concerned the commercial interest and the whole community, than that of improving the great internal water communications of the country. And he desired to have this Committee, not with the expectation that the work would be immediately commenced, but with the view of ascertaining, as far as it was possible for a Committee of this House to ascertain, all the facts relating to the subject, and have them placed before the country. Were this done, then at the first meeting of the Legislature under Confederation which we might now look upon as almost accomplished, the subject in all its details could be fairly and properly placed before them.

If he understood the Confederation scheme properly, one of the first questions to be dealt with by the general Legislature was the enlargement of our canals. It was most desirable, therefore, that the fullest information should be collected; and, looking at it from that point of view, he did not see why the Government should oppose his Committee. It had been urged by the member for Cornwall, that it was unconstitutional to refer a subject of this kind to a Committee. In opposition to this view, he begged to remind the hon. gentleman that the progress we had made in this great work of opening up our water communications, from the earliest period to the present time, had been the result of the energy and perseverance of private members of this House. (Hear, hear.)

Every one acquainted with the history of our canals knew the difficulties and obstacles which had been thrown in their way both in and out of the Legislature, and how they had been surmounted. But he believed that, although we now had a water communication to the sea-board, if speedy action for its improvement was not taken by this country, the Americans would absorb a great portion of that Western traffic, of which we were the natural carriers, and which was increasing year by year to an almost boundless extent. He thought it was an indisputable fact that nature had given us the natural channel of outlet for that traffic to the seaboard. And yet, although 120 or 130 millions of bushels of grain annually found their way from the great west to the sea board, there was scarcely twelve millions of this that went by the St. Lawrence. There were two great channels from the upper lakes to the ocean for this trade: one through the United States, and the other from Port Colborne by the St. Lawrence. He thought, if we had the proper facilities, there was no reason why Canada should not have the carrying of at least one half of that trade. The St. Lawrence route, as he had said, had many natural advantages over that through the United States. The Erie Canal was 340 miles in length from Buffalo to Albany. It had 71 locks, 7 feet wide, and was navigable by boats of 200 tons. They took 12 days to reach tide water at Albany, or say 14 days to New York, a distance of 500 miles. The charges of a bushel of wheat from Buffalo to New York were, for canal tolls, 6 ½ cents, shipping charges, elevating, &c., 2 ½ cts., freight 9 cts., making a total of 19 cts. per bushel from Buffalo to New York. On the other hand, taking the Canadian route, we had the Welland canal, 28 miles long, with 27 locks, in all 72 miles against 340 miles of canal from Buffalo to Albany. (Hear, hear.)

The distance from Port Colborne to Quebec was 548 miles, of which 71 miles were canal. The American route was 500 miles, of which 340 were canal. (Hear, hear.)

The difference between the two starting points was but 28 miles. Suppose then our canals were enlarged to admit propellers carrying 35,000 bushels, how would the comparison stand. The time to Quebec from Port Colborne would be 3 days, a saving of 11 days as compared with the time to New York, and freight could be conveyed to Quebec for 5 to 6 cents per bushel, with 1 ½ cents for tools, and  1 cent for elevating at Quebec and all other charges, making the whole charge 8 ½ cents including cost of loading on bord ship—a difference of 10 ½ cents in favor of the St. Lawrence route. (Hear, hear.)

Then taking New York and Quebec as the two starting […]

  • (p. 19)

[…] points, the distance to Liverpool from New York was 3109 miles and from Quebec, 2500 miles, a difference in favor of Quebec of two days, and in favor of the Canadian route from Port Colborne to Liverpool, of 13 days. (Hear, hear.)

One grand obstacle hitherto to the increase of the trade of the St. Lawrence had been the difference in ocean rates, to Liverpool between the ports of Montreal and Quebec on one hand, and Boston and New York on the other, and this had arisen to a great textent from want of regular shipments from the West. The great advantage New York had always had over this country was in its having a supply of ocean vessels. But by having our canals enlarged so that the large class of propellors which now convey the greater portion of the trade of the West to Buffalo, could pass through them to Montreal and Quebec, the speed and cheapness of the route would be such as to attract to it the great volunme of trade and create a sufficient supply of vessels to carry it away. If the people of this country were to occupy the position which their industry, intelligence and indomitable perservance entitled them to a position second to that of no other people on this continent, (Hear, hear,) it was absolutely necessary that this subject should be properly dealt with, and the obstacles to which he had referred removed.

Some might ask, what advantage would be derived by this country from the enlargement of our canals. He replied that, to get one half at least of the great traffic of the Western States would be a great advantage to us. side from the indirect advantages which we would derive, he believed he could show that, by enlargement of our canals, the revenue would not only pay interest on the present expenditure of fourteen millions of dollars, which hitherto had be unremunerative and unproductive, but would pay interest on the whole expenditure, and yield year by year a large and increasing surplus besides, he would assume that fourteen millions of dollars more would be necessary to admit vessels of at least 1000 tons, and he would assume the amount of grain to be carried at present at 120 millions bushels. At the same time, looking at the rapidity with which this trade had sprung up, and the vast resources of the west yet to be developed, we would be justified in supposing that in ten or twenty years more the population of that region would be doubled, while its productions would be increased at least three or four fold. (Hear, hear.)

Speaking on this subject, Hon. Mr. Littlejohn of Oswego, than whom none was better qualified to deal with it, remarked at the Detroit convention, when advocating the construction of the Niagaara Ship Canal, that that canal would in three years increase the volume of trade 100 millions of bushels. But taking the present volume of trade as 120 millions, he believed by enlargement of the canals of the St. Lawrence route would get at least one-half the whole trade. A rate of toll of 2 cts. per bushel, which was not large considering the rate on the Erie canal was 6 ½ cts., would yield $1,200,000. The tolls on the up freight, arising form the increased trade, would yield $500,000— in all $1,700,000—whcih would yield a profit of $220,000 over and above the interest on the whole expenditure of 28 millions. (Hear, hear.)

He would now suppose the yearly increase of the trade to be 5 per cent—a very small estimate when we looked at the rapid advance hitherto of the Western Staes. But, taking the increase at 5 per cent, the second year would yield a net profit over the interest on cost, not including the expense of working the canals, of $294,000, the third year a profit of $442,000, and so on, till at the end of ten years we might expect, as the result of a judicious improvement of our canal system, a surplus of at least $4,000,000. (Hear, hear.)

He heard the Minister of Finance calling hear, hear. Did the hon. gentleman doubt the accuracy of this statement? He would remind him that the Erie canal, which had not anything like the advantages of the St. Lawrence route, had yieleded annually profits averaging about $5,000,000. He thought that, in urging that we should become competitors for the rapidly increasing trade of the West, by availing ourselves of the natural advanyages of our route, it was a very impartial consideration that we would derive thereby an important income, which would aid materially in reducing the taxation of the country. (Hear, hear.)

Another advantage which would result from the enlargement of our canals, was the encouragement it would give to direct trade with the mother country and its colonies; a trade which he was happy to say, he was the first Upper Canadian to organize. He was the first Upper Canadian that imported directly frokmthe West Indies, a trade which was now conducted, and with profit to all, by a number of prominent houses in Upper Canada. (Hear, hear.)

He thought this was a point of great importance. He felt it to be most essential that the people of this country should not be dependent on the people of the United States, that they should not allow them, as hitherto, to be the broker of Canada and to monopolize the profits of the carrying trade. At present they enjoy the profits of carrying both the produce we sent to them, and the articles we received through them from foreign countries. He thought that with the magnificent chain of water communication which we had, a sense of our interest and a proper feeling og pride and self-respect should induce us to encourage, in every possible way, that direct trade which we could carry on with our own shipping, and which would establish, with regard to Toronto, Hamilton, Goderich and other Western ports, a direct communication wit Europe without transhipment. We would then, instead of having our vessels employed only for some four or five months in the lake traffic, and receiving a return of only during that period for the large amount of money invested in them, we would have them employed profitably during the whole year in carrying not only the lake but the ocean trade, which had hitherto been enjoyed entirely by the people of the United States. (Hear, hear.)

We would have a class of vessels suitable for the trade, which could be sent to any part of Europe, to the West Indies, or wherever it was possible to ship the surplus products of Canada, and where we could find the class og goods we required in exchange for them. In that way we would enhance the value of our timber, our staves, and all other products of Canada, the large profits of carryng of which had hitherto, toa large extent, been reaped by the people of the United States, while at the same time the number  of transhipments at Buffalo, New York, &c., depreciated the value of our exports. By having direct trade, we increased their value, as well as that of every acre of land in the country, and on the other hand diminished the cost to every consumer of sugar, coffee, and various other articles which formed a large proportion of the imports of the country. (Hear, hear.)

Having made these remarks with a view to showing the importance of the subject, he would now leave it in the hands of the government.

Mr. Shanly. Had but few observations to make on the subject before the House, and was chiefly moved to saying anything at all in order to show wherein he differed from his hon. friend from Lincoln. IN the first place the desire that he (Mr. Shanly) should act upon the Committee originated not with himself, but with his hon. friend the mover of the resolution, and while expressing his willingness to act with him, he (Mr. S.) at the same time expressed the belief that very little practical good would arise from debating so important a question as our canal policu, the most important question in his judgement with which this country has to deal, ina special Committee.  He believed that practical results would only be arrived at when the matter was taken up in earnest by the Government as part and parcel of a policu.

In the next place he found himself at variance with his hon. friend (Mr. McGivern) in nearly all the views had just expressed, and considered that he had been arguing on false premises throughout. He had suggested to his hon. friend that he should have modified the notice he had placed on the minutes of the House so as to make it apply rather more decidedly to the Welland Canal than to the St. Lawrence Canals as a whole.

When the question was of enlarging the Welland Canal the hon. member for Lincoln would find him (Mr. S.) with him heart and hand but as regards the canals between Prescott and Montreal, his Hon. friend would find him opposed to him in respect of increasing their capacity, whenever the question might come up between them— whether in COmmtitee; in this House, or in the country. The St. Lawrence canals proper, meaning those canals below Kingston, had never been tested to one fifth part their actual carrying capacity. He would venture to say, that they had never been tested, even to one tenth part of the trade that they could commodate, and under such a condition of things he looked upon it as a monstrous proposition, that we should now enter upona  work of such magniftude and expense as that of increasing the capacity of works that already rank as the largest canals on the continent.

He (Mr. S.) believed that so long as we acted on delusion our canals would continue to be afailure, our canal system was erroneous in its very inception, and till we begin to work to an entirely different object from that which impelled us to the building of those canals, results will be disappointing. When we undertook our great canal scheme it was believed as well by people in the Western States as by ourselves that the principal market for western products would be found in England and other European countries and our plans and designs were bent to competing for that trade.

The facts as they exist are that the European market for the breadstuffs of the Western States is a limited and an uncertain one, varying greatly in its demand from year to year. We now know that the great bulk of those breadstuffs are consumed in the Manufacturing States of the Union and that the larger portion of the great carrying trade heretofore monopolized by the New York Carriers is for the supply of their own home market because the people of those States do not pretend to raise those breafstuffs for themselves. Until we make that market the object of our canals and become what our opportunities allow of our being, the master carriers of this continent, our labor in enlarging the St. Lawrence canals will prove a failure in the future as their original constructi [sic] has proved a failure in the past. These were some of his reasons for differing from the line of argument n favor of a general enlargement of our Canals, used by his hon. friend from Lincoln, who still adhered to the belief that access to the ocean was the one great object to be kept in view in maturing our Canal policy.

He (Mr. S.) considered that line, argument and the quoting of rates of freight, as between Quebec and Liverpool, copared with rates between Ne wYork and Liverpool, as old fashioned nd behind the times. Let us place ourselves in the position of being able to carry the bulk of the grain and flour for the greater market, and he did not fear but we could secure our fair share of what was intended for the lesser.

In short, he (Mr. S.) had long come to the belief that our Canals have failed of securing to us the trade we anticipated—not because they are not wide enough and deep enough, but because they have not been extended far enough, and when we find ourself ina position by extending our Canals to Lake Champlain to lay down Western products more speedily and more cheaply at Burlngton or Whitehall than they are now laid down through the Erie Canal at Albany, then our River and our Canals will begin to fulfil their mission, but until that time has arrived, our St. Lawrence Canals will remain a monumental blunder-monsters in point of size, contemptiin [sic] results.

After some further remarks, Mr. McGivern withdrew his motion at the request of Hon. Mr. Galt.

Several other addresses were passed, when the House adjourned at a quarter to six.

Leave a Reply