Page images
PDF
EPUB

our neighbors across the frontier I would speak with all respect; but when I see $400,000,000 of British capital employed in the United States, and but a few millions here, I ask myself, and felt authorized to ask the Imperial government, why should this be? And I endeavored to make them comprehend the national importance of turning the streams of capital and emigration in this direction.

The impression made by Mr. Howe in Canada, might be gathered from the flattering notices of the Press, of all shades of politics. Introducing him to the merchants of Montreal, the President of the Board of Trade, Hugh Allen, Esq. said:

Mr. Howe was an eminent man; eminent as a politician, as a legislator, and an advocate of internal improvements. He was not here present as a politician. The meeting was one entirely independent of politics ; and he would not introduce any thing to mar its harmony. He [the Chairman) was surrounded by gentlemen of all shades of politics, from the staunchest conservative to the most zealous republican, and it would be wrong in him to say a word on politics. He had also before him, a great number of gentlemen of French origin, to-night, and he was delighted at the occasion which had brought them together. He would take occasion to express to them the sentiments of pleasure, felt by gentlemen of English origin, at seeing them among them. They were glad to see them taking that share in commercial affairs to which their position entitled them, and which properly belonged to them. The English were not only willing, but anxious to yield it to them, if they would only take it. It was not, then, as a politician that they met Mr. Howe, nor as a legislator, but as a great advocate of internal improvements. The people of this Colony were glad of a chance of associating and extending connections with their fellow subjects of Nova Scotia, and of the Provinces below.

At Quebec, the following resolution was passed with acclamation :

That the thanks of this meeting be voted to the Hon. Joseph Howe, for his eloquent address on the great undertaking which now occupies the attention of all the Colonies of British North America, — the railroad from Halifax to Quebec and Montreal ; that this meeting has no doubt that his efforts will be crowned with success, and that, while expressing their approval of an acceptance of the liberal offer of the British government, they give their entire approbation to any measure which may be adopted by the Legislature for the execution of this road.

In moving it, the Hon. F. W. Primrose said :

It must be a source of the greatest gratification to all present, to understand how favorable the appearances were; that at length this project, so important, as well to the mother country as to all the British North American Provinces, was likely soon to be realized; and to express how deeply sensible we all are of the debt we owe to that honorable gentleman, for his indomitable exertions in behalf of this splendid scheme of national communication between these Provinces, and to which must be mainly attributed the probability which now appeared of its accomplishment.

Mr. Anger, who spoke the sentiments of the French Canadians at the Quebec meeting, was equally enthusiastic:

In seconding this resolution, he begged to say a few words, to express the feelings of gratitude of his fellow citizens of French origin towards the honorable traveller who had just addressed the meeting, for the mention he had made of the people of that origin, and principally for the eminent services he had rendered in England and on the continent in promoting the magnificent scheme of a railroad on British territory from Halifax to Quebec and Montreal. After the eloquent address he had listened to with so much pleasure and enthusiasm, he felt more embarrassed than he had ever felt in giving utterance to his thoughts and feelings; but he was encouraged by a sense of justice to declare, that for his zeal, talent, and success in promoting the great Halifax and Quebec Railway, the Hon. Joseph Howe would be considered the benefactor, not only of Nova Scotia, but of all the North American Colonies. Nature has traced a great public highway, that extends from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the interior of North America; and to complete it, it requires that we should place alongside of it an iron rail, that will baffle the inclemency of our winters. The interest and future prosperity of the British North American Colonies require that they should unite and draw near each other, and seal the common cause and their common friendship with an iron tie. If we aspire to any thing noble, to any thing grand; if we desire a name amongst the nations; if we do not wish to see our respective countries disappearing piece by piece, and overwhelmed in the American Union, we must form a Union of our own, and, as the honorable gentleman observed, the descendants of the two nations, the English and the French, who on this day rule the world, must form a race surpassed by none on the continent of America. The difficulties resulting from the difference of origin, and the absence of intercourse between the people of the different Provinces, will soon disappear, when one can on one day shake hands with his friends and fellow citizens at Toronto, and the next day at Halifax.

Within the last ten years a great change in that respect has occurred in Canada. Independently of advantages, he [Mr. Anger) saw the very great benefit, in a financial point of view, of obtaining a loan of £7,000,000 at three and a half per cent., while the value of money in Canada was about seven or eight per cent. The expenditure of such a capital would have the effect to spread a line of farms, hamlets, and towns from Halifax to Quebec. After what had been said by the honorable gentleman, he felt it would be unbecoming for him to enter at length on the importance of this work, and to divert the attention of the meeting from the impressive and eloquent remarks of the Hon. Joseph Howe, and he would conclude by stating that he was sure that every one present would respond to his sentiment, when he saluted that gentleman as the apostle of the progress and future greatness of the North American Colonies, united in a powerful confederacy.

Mr. Howe returned through New Brunswick, meeting Mr. Chandler at Dorchester, and receiving from him the welcome information that the government of New Brunswick had ratified the agreement made at Toronto, and was prepared to construct the two lines upon the terms proposed. On the 20th July he addressed to his own government this official report of his proceedings :

Amherst, July 20th, 1851. Sir, — The negotiations, which I was charged to conduct with the governments of Canada and New Brunswick, having been brought to a close, in a final conference held with the delegate from the latter Province this afternoon, I lose no time in submitting, for the information of His Honor the Administrator of the government, a report of my proceedings under the commission and instructions with which I was honored by His Excellency Sir John Harvey.

You are aware that His Excellency Sir Edmund Head had selected the Hon. Edward B. Chandler to represent the government of New Brunswick at Toronto, and that it had been arranged that I was to meet him at Dorchester on the 1st of June.

As I had to pass through the county of Cumberland, where the bill,

1

pressed so earnestly on the Legislature at its last session, originated; and as it was more than probable that public opinion in New Brunswick would be largely influenced by the decision of that county against the measure, and in favor of the proposition made by Her Majesty's gove ernment, I deemed it to consist with my duty to invite, in the shire town, the most ample discussion of the whole subject. I therefore addressed a letter to the Custos Rotulorum of Cumberland, acquainting him with my intention to attend any meeting that might be called for that purpose.

On reaching Amherst I found that a meeting had been convened, and that a very numerous and respectable body of the leading men of Cumberland crowded the court house. The result of an animated discussion, which extended over several hours, was an almost unanimous decision to sustain the views and policy of the government. · At Amherst I received invitations to attend two meetings in the county of Westmoreland, New Brunswick, and another in the county of Kent; the former I accepted, as the places named lay upon my route; the latter I was compelled to decline. The unanimity of feeling displayed at Dorchester, and at the Bend of Peticodiac, convinced me that the rural population of New Brunswick only required information; and that, when the subject came to be fully discussed, their support would be given to any fair modification of the terms which the Legislature had rejected.

An experiment on the city of St. John appeared to offer less assurance of success. The office bearers and agents of the Portland company resided there; and formed, with their friends, clients, and stockholders, an organized combination. A large portion of the press had taken its tone from these gentlemen; and, for many weeks, the proposition contained in Mr. Hawes's letter and the general policy of this government, had been discussed in a spirit which was certainly not calculated to ensure me a very cordial reception. When I entered the city I was assured that there would not be three exceptions to the unanimity with which the offers of Her Majesty's government would be rejected and condemned. The result of the discussions which ensued, at a public meeting to which I was invited by the citizens, may be gathered from the altered tone of a very influential portion of the press, and from the fact that the promoters of the Portland company have postponed further proceedings until the 20th of August. “It is evident," says the editor of The Freeman (a journal originally hostile, still doubtful, but faithfully interpreting the prevailing sentiment of the community), " that the public mind is excited by the magnificent proposal of Earl Grey, as interpreted by Mr. Howe and others."

Having attended three meetings within His Excellency's government, I deemed it but respectful to proceed to Fredericton, and explain to Sir Edmund Head the reasons by which I had been influenced, and the general views which I entertained. These explanations were regarded as satisfactory, and I received from His Excellency very gratifying marks of confidence and consideration.

On reaching St. Andrews, on my way to the United States, I was met by a deputation, with a request that I would address a public meeting at that place on the following day. Though apprehensive that the interest which the people of St. Andrews naturally felt in the success of their own railroad, might place them in hostility to the intercolonial lines, I consented to attend the meeting; and received, at its close, the most satisfactory assurances, from a very large assemblage of all ranks and classes, that no mere local interests, or predilections, would induce St. Andrews to place herself in opposition to a great scheme of intercolonial policy and improvement.

The charge having been frequently made, that the government of Nova Scotia had broken faith with the Portland convention, and much pains having been taken to persuade the people of that city that the North American and European line had been abandoned, it appeared very desirable that the conduct of this government should be vindicated, and its policy clearly explained to the leading men of this friendly and very interesting community. Mr. Chandler and myself spent nearly a day at Portland, on our way to Canada. Mr. John A. Poor, one of the most active members of the convention, rejoined us at Toronto, and we exchanged frank explanations with, and received much courtesy from, that gentleman and his friends, on our return. Misconceptions, previously entertained, were dispelled by these friendly conferences. Mr. Hawes's letter of the 10th March, Earl Grey's dispatch of the 14th, addressed to the Governor General, with copious extracts from the correspondence between the Imperial and Colonial governments, have been published and extensively circulated in the State of Maine. Assuming that the policy explained to them will be acted upon in good faith, and 6 that the Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia will, in some mode or other, most agreeable to themselves, carry out the plan of a continuous line of railway from the boundary of Maine to the eastern shores of Nova Scotia,” all opposition to our policy has been wisely withdrawn by the people of Portland; who are now appealing to the Legislature and citizens of Maine, to come promptly forward and supply the means to complete that portion of the line which is to extend from Bangor to the boundary of New Brunswick.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »