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Mr. Chandler and myself reached Toronto on the 15th of June, and during our stay at the seat of government, received from His Excellency the Governor General, from the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament, from the members of the administration, and from the Mayor, and citizens of Toronto generally, such marks of distinction and courtesy as assured us of the very high estimation in which the Provinces we represented were held.
Invited to take seats in Council on the 16th, we were at once assured of the cordial coöperation of the government of Canada ; of the readiness of the administration to accept the terms offered by the Imperial government, and to unite with Nova Scotia in meeting the difficulties presented in New Brunswick, by such fair modification of those terms as would enable Mr. Chandler to secure the coöperation of that Province. It is due to that gentleman to state, that he made no importunate demands ; explained the position of his government, and the prevailing sentiment of the country, frankly, and then left it to the discretion and good feeling of the conference to determine to what extent the peculiar aspects of New Brunswick should be considered, and aid given to that Province, in the construction of one of her great lines, to enable her to complete them both.
If New Brunswick maintained an antagonistic position, it was clear that neither the line to the St. Lawrence, nor that to Portland, could be accomplished; the proposition of the British government would in that case have to be rejected, and the three Provinces be driven, in bad temper, and at ruinous rates of interest, to carry on their internal improvements without mutual sympathy or coöperation.
To obviate this state of things, appeared to all parties most desirable; and, at length, Mr. Chandler was empowered to invite the coöperation of his government upon these terms, it being understood that the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia were to be bound by them, if New Brunswick acquiesced :
That the line from Halifax to Quebec should be made on the joint account, and at the mutual risk of the three Provinces; ten miles of crown land along the line being vested in a joint commission, and the proceeds appropriated towards the payment of the principal and interest of the sum required.
That New Brunswick should construct the Portland line, with the funds advanced by the British government, at her own risk.
That Canada should, at her own risk, complete the line from Quebec to Montreal, it being understood that any saving which could be effected, within the limits of the sum which the British government are prepared
to advance, should be appropriated to an extension of the line above Montreal.
That, on the debt contracted, on the joint account of the three Provinces, being repaid, each should own the line within its own territory.
It was also understood that Canada would withdraw the general guarantee offered for the construction of railways in any direction, and that her resources should be concentrated upon the Main Trunk line, with a view to an early completion of a great intercolonial highway, on British territory, from Halifax to Hamilton; from whence to Windsor, opposite to Detroit, the Great Western Company of Canada have a line already in course of construction.
This policy having been arranged, it became very desirable that Mr. Chandler should return promptly to New Brunswick to submit it to his colleagues, and to assure himself that, in the event of the administration assuming the responsibility which it involved, they would be sustained by a majority of the Legislature. Allowing a sufficient time for a deliberate review of the whole ground, and for a final decision, a meeting was arranged with Mr. Chandler at Dorchester, on my return. I rejoined him this afternoon, and was happy to receive from him the assurance that the government of New Brunswick will be prepared to submit the policy agreed upon to the Legislature of that Province, with the whole weight of its influence, so soon as the government of Nova Scotia intimates that it is prepared to coöperate on the terms proposed.
The final adoption of this great scheme of intercolonial policy, now rests with the people of Nova Scotia, to whom, it is probable, that it will be submitted by a dissolution of the Assembly at an early day. I have pledged the government to it beyond recall. I have staked, upon the generous and enlightened appreciation of their true interests by my countrymen, all that a public man holds dear. Having done my best to elevate Nova Scotia in the eyes of Europe, and of the surrounding Colonies, I have no apprehension that she will repudiate the pledges which I have given.
Her clear interest demands the prompt acceptance of the proposition.
1st. Because it secures to her, within a very few years, a railway communication of fourteen hundred miles, extending through the noble territory of which she forms the frontage, and with which her commercial, social, and political relations, must be very important in all time to come.
2d. Because it gives to her, almost at once, connection with eight thousand miles of railway lines, already formed, in the United States; makes her chief seaport the terminus for ocean steam navigation, and her territory the great highway of communication between America and Europe.
3d. Because, on the extinction of the debt, she will possess a road with which there can be no competition within the Province; a road towards which two great streams of traffic must perpetually converge, and the tolls upon which must become a source of revenue, increasing with each succeeding year.
4th. Because the completion of these great lines of communication will give to all the North American Provinces a degree of internal strength and security, and consideration abroad, which will far transcend any pecuniary hazards which may be incurred.
5th. Because the completion of these lines will draw into the Province much of the surplus labor and capital of Europe.
Gth. Because the line from the seaboard once completed to Canada, there cannot be a doubt that it will soon be extended into the fertile and almost boundless country beyond ; being followed, at every advance, by a stream of emigration; and ultimately, and in our own time, reaching the shores of the Pacific.
It may be argued that we ought not to risk any thing beyond the limits of our own frontier. But I regard the risk as involving a very slight liability beyond what we have already cheerfully assumed.
All our calculations have been based upon the presumption that our roads will cost £7000 currency per mile. From the best information which we could obtain in Canada and in the United States, gathered the opinions of the chief promoters of the Vermont, Great Western, Portland, and St. Andrews roads, — there is every reason to believe, if the Provinces avail themselves of the most modern experience, and of the present low price of iron, that, with the money in hand, and large contracts to offer, the work need not cost much more than £5000 currency per mile. Should this be the case, the sum which was originally contemplated will probably cover the whole expenditure for which Nova Scotia will be liable ; and, if it does not, with her present low tariff and annually increasing consumption, the deficiency may be soon surplied.
But after a careful examination of the country traversed by American and Canadian railroads, and of the general testimony borne by their promoters and officers, that in all cases thé
with which they have been constructed has cost from seven to twelve per cent., I have brought my mind to the conclusion, that a railway built with money at three and a half per cent., will pay almost immediately, even if made through a wilderness, provided the land be good, water power and wood abundant ; and provided that there are formed settlements at either side, to furnish pioneers, and local traffic with them, when they are scattered along the
line. We have other resources, beyond our own limits, in associations of the industrious and enterprising, who are prepared to come into the Provinces the instant these great works are commenced; and who, within the limits at least of the lands dedicated to this enterprise, will soon form a continuous street, through that portion of the territory between our frontier and the St. Lawrence, which appears to present any really serious hazard.
In estimating the relative risks and advantages which this scheme involves, it should also be borne in mind, that while Nova Scotia has but little crown land left along her portion of the line (and this las been frankly explained), the lands which Canada and New Brunswick are prepared to grant are extensive and valuable. They will probably amount to three million of acres, which, if sold at 5s. an acre (and with a railroad running through them they will soon command a much higher price), would form a fund out of which to pay the interest on the whole capital expended for the first three or four years.
I cannot close this report without some notice of the very enthusiastic and honorable treatment that I received during short visits to Quebec and Montreal. In both cities, men, the most distinguished for social positions, commercial and intellectual activity, and commanding influence, vied with each other in recognizing the importance and value of the maritime Provinces. Among all ranks and classes, the railroads seemed to be regarded as indispensable agencies by which North Americans would be drawn into a common brotherhood, inspired with higher hopes ; and ultimately elevated, by some form of political association, to that position, which, when these great works have prepared the way for union, our half of this continent may fairly claim in the estimation of the world.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
JOSEPH HOWE. WM. H. KEATING, Esq.
On the 21st, Mr. Howe returned home, and was greeted by a brilliant display of fireworks, and by other enthusiastic demonstrations on the part of his fellow-citizens. His report was immediately published, and the House was dissolved on the 26th of July
All parties now prepared for the elections. The railway policy had been matured, it was for the people of Nova Scotia to accept or reject it, upon the terms arranged with the Imperial
and Colonial Governments. With a view to lighten the load which New Brunswick would have to assume, in providing for the two lines through her territory, Mr. Howe had generously offered that Nova Scotia should assume the cost and proprietorship of thirty miles beyond her territory. This was a noble offer, worthy of the country and characteristic of the man, who regarded British America as a whole, and sought no small advantage for that part of it where he happened to reside. It formed, however, the most assailable point of his policy; and political opponents, were not slow to magnify the risks and dangers of such an expenditure.
On the 28th of July, Mr. Howe retired from the representation of the county of Halifax, and threw himself upon the county of Cumberland. His reasons for taking this step are given in his parting address :
For the last fourteen years, you have done me the honor to elect me one of your representatives. During all that time, I have enjoyed a measure of public confidence, and received an amount of enthusiastic support, of which any man might be justly proud. Judging from the opinions expressed on every side, I am assured that I should receive, at the election which approaches, almost unanimous support. Were I at liberty to consult my own personal feelings, nothing could be more gratifying than to afford you again the opportunity to stamp with your approbation my public labors and exertions. But it is my intention to throw myself upon another constituency, for reasons which, when frankly explained, will, I have no doubt, meet your approbation.
Circumstances have opened before me a field of labor so extensive, that I cannot successfully cultivate that field, perform my official duties, and attend to the local affairs of forty thousand people, spread over a county one hundred miles long. My obligations to the whole Province, to North America, to my Sovereign, whose honor I believe to be deeply involved in the great measures now in progress, compel me reluctantly to resign a charge which others, not more zealous, but less occupied, may easily be found to assume. I must seek a constituency less numerous, whose local interests will occupy less time. I should prefer the smallest township in the Province, for just in proportion as I am relieved from minor responsibilities, will be the degree of leisure I shall have to investigate and deal with more important questions.
I have another reason. Upon the great issue now presented to the