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and finally maturing the policy, that, if not ultimately disarranged, would by this time have relieved the British Provinces from the reproach of having to conduct their postal business and military communications through a foreign country.
The conference broke up on the 20th of June. On the 21st, Mr. Archibald addressed a letter to His Excellency the Governor General, which was printed and circulated in all the Provinces early in September.
It is impossible to read this letter, by the light of our modern experience, without a smile:
“In order to carry out a complete railway scheme, commensurate with the requirements of the British North American Provinces,” we are told“ provision must be made for the construction of a Grand Trunk line from Halifax to the American frontier at Detroit."
What could Canada want more?
The configuration and geographical position of New Brunswick render it necessary to the completion of a perfect railway system, that the Province should be traversed its entire length by two main lines.
Who could doubt it?
After describing the unsettled condition of the Province, he proceeds to show how, through the instrumentality of his friends, the great contractors, he intended to occupy her waste lands with an “army of peaceful operatives.” on the part of the association which I represent, to construct the European and North American line through New Brunswick, agreeable to the charter of incorporation and the conditions of the Facility Bills, and to subscribe for this purpose all the capital not already taken up. I therefore provide for the accomplishment of this project upon the precise terms already arranged by the Legislature.”
Why should Lord Grey or Mr. Hawes go down to Parlia- | ment, and ask for a guarantee to build this road, when it was already as good as built without their interference ?
With respect to the Halifax and Quebec, or Northern line through New Brunswick, I propose (certain facilities being granted) in like man
ner, on the part of the association, to organize the company by subscribing all the capital that shall not be taken up in New Brunswick. Ex necessitate, the company must expedite by every possible means the sale and settlement of their lands and the development of their resources; the coal fields will be opened up, iron mines will be worked, foundries, machine shops and factories established. Every first class station along the line will become the nucleus of a town, and every stopping-place will form the centre of an agricultural ambit, and a rallying-point for the poor and unskilled emigrants, who will be cheered and instructed by the well-regulated operations they will witness on every side. The expenditure upon the works will facilitate the settlement of the lands along the line, and the improvement of these lands will bring traffic to the railway. It is not too much to expect that the population and revenue of the Province will be doubled within ten years, and long before the £20,000 a year guaranteed to the northern line shall become payable, the amount will be anticipated in the exchequer from the effects of these operations; and thus the end, in advance of its accomplishment, will furnish the means to this extent. This is no fancy picture, nor does it foreshadow half the realities of such a future as New Brunswick may now command.
Bright visions — alas, too soon to fade.
Then the line from Montreal to Toronto was summarily disposed of, it being demonstrated that Canada would only be required to provide half the money wanted, and have that secured by a first mortgage.
The value of this first mortgage is now pretty well understood in Canada and everywhere else.
Mr. Archibald's clients were to have “the entire contracts for all the contemplated lines, without competition.” This was the pith of the letter. The most attractive but least prophetic part of it was that in which “ the countless millions of the Indian Archipelago, China, and Hindostan,” were seen travelling up and down the roads which the writer was about to make.
This letter, so frank, so plausible, so full of generosity and elevation of spirit, captivated the credulous in all the Provinces. It captivated another class. Those who saw in the lucrative offices and lavish expenditures of a great company, more attractions than in devoted service, poorly enough rewarded, perhaps, which the Provinces wherein they lived had a right to claim.
Mr. Howe was not captivated. He saw through the scheme, and held fast to his integrity. The leader of the Parliamentary opposition in Nova Scotia having published a letter, and declared his intention to support Mr. Archibald's project, Mr. Howe replied to it. His remarks gave some offence to Mr. Archibald, who wrote a second letter, to which Mr. Howe also replied. Though the public mind of Nova Scotia was kept steady by Mr. Howe's firmness and discrimination, it was apparent that a party was forming to give opposition to his policy; and when Mr. Archibald paid into the Commercial Bank of New Brunswick a deposit to entitle his associates to claim all the stock in the Portland line, it was difficult to resist the fascination by which many shrewd men in that Province were perfectly bewildered.
It is impossible to read this correspondence now without the thorough conviction that to the proceedings of these great contractors, and their agents, we are to attribute the ultimate failure of the whole negotiation; and the fact that Nova Scotia was compelled, upon her own resources, to make her own roads. That New Brunswick, after the waste of years and of thousands, was compelled to do the same. That no intercolo. nial road has been made or provided for; that Canada has no security for £3,000,000 advanced to these contractors, while their Grand Trunk Company's stock is at a discount of fifty
We have not space to insert Mr. Howe's letters, but an extract or two will show their general tone and spirit. There is no want of evidence now, in Canada and New Brunswick, to give significance to the distinction drawn in the following passage between contractors who are copartners and those who are not:
Had Mr. Archibald (who is a personal friend to whom I am indebted for much courtesy while in England) or anybody else, come to me when I entered London, with a company prepared to build our railroads at their own risk, or even upon the terms already granted by the Colonial Legistures, my task would have been simple, and my labor light. On the contrary, I found lots of embryo companies, and individuals, zealous to
spend money raised upon our credit, and to speculate in Colonial lands. I found none who were willing to run the slightest risk, or to advance funds not guaranteed by the Colonial or Imperial Governments. I labored to work out my own policy in the full conviction that none were to be found. When I had succeeded, and it was known that so large a sum, advanced, or guaranteed by the Imperial government, was to be expended in the Colonies, the question “who should spend it?” became deeply interesting. It is deeply interesting now. The interest we have in it, my friends, is this — having got the money cheap, to make it go as far as possible. Assuredly it is not to embarrass ourselves with companies and associations, who shrunk from us“ in our extremity," but who appear very anxious to aid us now that we can do without them. Entertaining this opinion strongly, I still adhere to the belief which I expressed at the Mason's Hall in May, - which was reiterated at St. John, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec, — that if we can bring into these Provinces British contractors of eminence, on fair terms, it will be sound policy. If they come, as contractors, I see no reason why they should not expend, for their own and our advantage, the whole seven million.
If they come as co-partners, we shall be at their mercy, and involved in i complications and embarrassments which I desire to avoid.
You invite me, [he says to Mr. Archibald,] to state the objections I entertain to your proposals, which you think are not derogatory “to the honor and interests of New Brunswick.” I will do so frankly.
In the first place you assume that a noble Province like New Brunswick, with a territory as large as Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, all puf together — with a free government, responsible to her citizens — with an industrious population, a flourishing revenue, light taxes, and overcrowded Europe to draw upon for a steady stream of emigration, cannot, with the sympathy and coöperation of her sister Colonies and the credit of the Imperial government at her back, hazard the construction of public works, which you and your friends will yet cheerfully construct, provided you are invested with one-seventh part of her territory, half a million of her money, and provided the other Provinces give you the construction of their railways.
Now, I am simple enough to believe that this proposition includes a flagrant disregard of the intelligence, and an insult to the dignity of New Brunswick. Put all your friends together, unite their entire fortunes and resources, and as our neighbors quaintly say they could not "begin to buy” the homestead of New Brunswick. They could not purchase the property upon a single river. Yet we are told that the people who own the whole cannot risk the construction of these railways, which can easily be accomplished by those whose resources are insignificant in comparison.
After stating a variety of objections to the plans, as detailed in Mr. Archibald's letter, he says:
My last objection touches higher interests than pounds, shillings, and pence. Show me the State or Province that ever willingly granted five millions of acres of its territory, with all its mines, minerals, and appurtenances, to a private association. Nova Scotia would not make such a grant if she never had a railroad. The man who proposed it would sit alone in our Assembly. New Brunswick may be less particular, but such a grant once made, to any association, with all the patronage, expenditure, and revenues, of her two great roads, and a power would be created in her midst which would very soon control both her government and her Legislature.
Canada has discovered how irresistably and certainly this "power" controls her government and Legislature; New Brunswick, whose energies were benumbed by it for years, can count, in round numbers, the cost of her emancipation.
The citizens of Paris used, under the Orleans dynasty, to celebrate their three days of July, commemorative of a revolution in which some blood was shed and but little rational liberty secured. The citizens of Boston, this year, kept high holiday for three days to celebrate the completion of their railway communication with the West, and the establishment of a line of ocea steamships to facilitate and enlarge their commercial intercourse with the Old World.
The 17th, 18th, and 19th of September, 1851, were devoted to pleasure, to civic demonstrations and boundless hospitality. The President, Millard Fillmore, and the chief officers of the national government, came by invitation, with many of the Governors and prominent public men of other States. Lord Elgin, Governor General of British America, was also present, by special invitation, attended by many of the leading men of Canada and of the other North American Colonies. The occasion was most appropriate for such a gathering of the nota