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Mr. Howe explained the relative powers which would be exercised by the Imperial and Provincial commissioners. He also adverted to probable differences of opinion as to the route to be selected through Canada. Canada must decide these for herself. The other Provinces would not interfere, if their line to the St. Lawrence was not unnecessarily lengthened. Mr. Howe then showed that the railway lines of the mother country being nearly finished, contractors of great resources and vast experience were prepared to come into these Provinces, and bring with them new elements of progress. These might be available, not only to construct the line from Halifax to Quebec and Montreal, but to continue it to Hamilton. He also expatiated on the probable effects which the railroad would have on the whole tone of Colonial society and pursuits — on the press, the bar, the mercantile community, the church. I come not, said he, to propound any political scheme, nor have I formed in my own mind any theory for a more extended organization of these Provinces; but this I may say to those who have, that we must make the railroads first before any combination is possible. To the advocates of legislative union I say, your scheme is impracticable without the railroads. To the Federalist my advice is, make the railroads first, and test your theory afterwards. To the people of the maritime Provinces . he would say, make the railroads, that you may behold the fertile and magnificent territory that lies behind you. To the Canadians he would say, make the railroads, that you may come down upon the seaboard and witness its activity, and appreciate the exhaustless treasures it contains. I wish, said he, that, standing upon Cape Porcupine, you could see the fleets of Americans that stream through the Gut of Canso, and coming one thousand miles, carry off
the treasures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, of the value of which few men in Western Canada have
any idea. While they are catching your fish, whose flour and whose pork do they consume? Not yours, but the productions of the Western States, by which a market is made for their farmers, and employment given to their railroads and canals. Hitherto Nova Scotia has stood alone in the attempt to protect, and in the struggle for, the Gulf fisheries. The government of Canada, I am happy to say, has determined to fit out a steamer to keep the Americans off the Gulf shores hereafter. New Brunswick will probably employ a vessel in the same service in the Bay of Fundy. Nova Scotia already has two upon her coast. With such a force, actively employed, the Americans could be kept beyond the limits fixed by treaty, a market would be created for Colonial produce, and our exports increased at least £100,000. For reciprocity we are all prepared. We will exchange with our neighbors,
if they please, the produce of the soil, the seas, or the mine. will not, then let them have the letter of the treaty, - a pound of flesh, but not one drop of blood.
Mr. Howe showed how a due protection of the Gulf fisheries, and the instruction of the young Canadians in nautical science, would foster a mercantile marine. He also showed how rapidly emigration would flow into the wilderness which now lay between the St. Lawrence and the seaboard as soon as the railroad was made. He looked to the railroad also as a great agent by which the wandering thoughts and best affections of British Americans would be concentrated upon their own noble country. Now, when a bad crop or commercial depression comes (and these come to every country), our young fellows drift off to the United States, and seeing four or five large towns, and a few hundred miles of railroad, wonder at the greatness of the country. I think it is Sterne who accounts for the fondness of ladies for lap-dogs, by observing, “ that the human heart wants something to be fond of.” It does, Mr. Chairman, and something to be proud of, too. Put a young Nova Scotian upon a railroad, and let him travel fourteen hundred miles through a magnificent country which is all his own, with scenery ever varying and interest ever new, and you inspire him with pride and self-confidence that will keep him at home. Send down the young Canadian who thinks Detroit or Buffalo the metropolis of the world, to see Montreal, Quebec, St. John, and Halifax; to see groves of masts around his own sea coast, and a mine richer than California in his own Gulf, and like Newman Noggs, he will begin to pluck up a spirit, and feel that, after all, Brother Jonathan does not own “all creation.” I have not the slightest feeling of hostility to our neighbors across the frontier; but I am well assured that if there is any thing which induces them to esteem us lightly, it is our own estimate of their country and our slight appreciation of our own. When they find us alive to its advantages, standing erect, with a well defined policy, and fourteen hundred miles of railroad traversing its surface, made with money at three and a half per cent. they will begin to respect us more — perhaps to feel that the boot is getiing on the other leg.
Before I close, let me allude to one topic which is often referred to as unfavorable to our future progress. The distinction of race is the ini vidious theme upon which alarmists love to dwell. Perhaps you will bear with me when I say, that to a stranger coming among you, these very distinctions supply most of the variety which charms. We AngloSaxons, proud of our race and their achievements, are too apt to forget how largely the Norman French element entered into the composition of that race. We forget that Frenchmen lorded it over England for centuries; that their laws were administered in her tribunals, and their language spoken in her courts. Gradually the distinctions faded, and out of a common ancestry came that new race which has given laws and civilization to the world. So it will be here. Sprung from two of the foremost nations of the earth, speaking two noble languages, copying from each other the arts of life, the varying lights and shades which give it expression, who doubts that a race will grow up in North America equal to the requirements of their country, and proud of the characteristics of the great families from which they have sprung? Less than a century ago, Sir Wm. Howe led up the Light Infantry to fight the French
upon the plains of Abraham, and the blood of brave men on both sides sank into the soil. But what of that? Their descendants form one family; and his namesake comes to invade Canada in another mode, - to plant a railroad, not a scaling-ladder; and hopes to rouse the lethargic with the whistle of the steam engine, not with the blast of war. So let it ever be. Let us respect each other's peculiarities. The French should imitate the intelligent enterprise of their neighbors. The English should remember that no Frenchman ever lacked courage, no French lady, grace. Let us copy from each other till that time arrives when,
“As the varying tints unite,
One Arch of Peace.”
Addressing the merchants of Montreal, he reminded them of the orator of old, who, when bribed by the enemy, muffled his throat and declined to speak. His throat was muffled, too, and his voice almost inaudible, from the effects of a severe cold caught at Quebec. He regretted his physical weakness and inability, for he never more sincerely wished for the power to utter what he so deeply felt.
I did not, said he, expect from the merchants of this noble city, this handsome compliment. Indeed, if there was any body of men whom I thought the least likely to assemble to do me honor, it was the merchants of Montreal. Most of you have been or are protectionists. Living in a country surrounded by the sea and indented with harbors, where high duties would but encourage Smuggling, I have always been a free trader. Our opinions upon great questions of commercial policy were antagonistic. Upon political questions, we have been sometimes wide as the poles asunder ; but I rejoice, that in all that relates to the internal improvement and national elevation of the Provinces, we cordially agree. On leaving home, my friends warned me, that however acceptable my policy might be to Upper and to Lower Canada, Montreal would be dead against me. Had they rightly judged the state of public feeling here, I should have regarded your opposition as a great blow at the enterprise. I do not lightly value the intelligence and spirit of Montreal, nor the influence she wields in proportion to her widely extended commerce. If Montreal were against me, I should regard it as a great misfortune, but with this brilliant scene before me my mind is happily relieved. Why should Montreal be against me? I recognize her forecaste and liberality in all that I see around me: in your magnificent public structures ; in the beautiful private residences that adorn your city or diversify its mountain slopes; in your commodious wharves, which strangers come from afar to see; in your magnificent canals, which draw down to you the produce of the West. In all these, I recognize the intellect, the energy and restless activity of Montreal. The works already achieved assured me that she could not be hostile to the enterprise of which I am the humble advocate. Montreal, it has been said, is deeply interested in a line to the sea-coast in another direction. She is, and I recognize in the interest she has taken in it, another proof of her activity and forethought. The line to Portland should be completed ; but its friends must perceive that if it is connected with other lines running east and north from Portland to Halifax, Quebec and Montreal, and west from Montreal to Detroit, — which must be the not very remote results of my policy if it be carried out, — their line must be largely benefitted instead of being injured. In my correspondence with Earl Grey, I have advocated and provided for the extension of the Portland road to Halifax. One railroad should not content Montreal. In the present age, cities that do not stretch forth their iron arms to embrace the towns and hamlets around them, — which do not even penetrate the wilderness behind, — will be distanced in the race of improvement, and slumber away in poverty and neglect. Will Montreal be content even when her single line to Portland is completed ? Ought she to be ? No, sir. She must have her line westward to Hamilton and Detroit. She must connect with Galena and the splendid country that lies around the head waters of the Mississippi. Turning to the right, she will require a road up the banks of the Ottawa ; nor do I believe that she will or ought to be satisfied until she has secured the line I advocate, with another down the north shore of the St. Lawrence to Quebec.
All this sounded like rhodomontade to many people in 1851. The guarantee was subsequently withdrawn, and the Provinces were left to complete their public works with their own resources. But yet within seven years Montreal has her lines to Detroit, to the Ottawa, to Quebec and far down the St. Lawrence, beside the road to Portland. The North Shore Railroad to Quebec provided for by legislation and liberal grants of land, will probably be commenced before the lapse of many years.
Adverting to the hopes and fears which had alternately buoyed him up or depressed him during his mission to England, Mr. Howe said :
I was invested with no authority from Canada or New Brunswick. In speaking for them, rather than in their names, I was often compelled to assume a responsibility, and utter opinions which they might afterwards repudiate. But I did what I believed was right, and ventured to point out what I thought all the Provinces desired. I did not disguise what I assumed it was for your interest that I should write and say, but spoke as frankly and freely to the highest in the empire as I have ever done while addressing my old constituents at home.
I felt that many of the difficulties — may I not say all the difficulties — which had arisen from time to time between the people of these Provinces and the Imperial authorities, might be traced to a want of that frank communication which, on many accounts, was so requisite, and that most of our grievances might be removed by plainness of speech, leading to complete understanding of our mutual interests. When I looked at the British Islands, I saw that they had more money than they knew what to do with, and more people than they knew how to feed. I thought that if their attention was turned to our undeveloped resources, and their capital was attracted to our great public works, their surplus labor might be profitably employed in its expenditure, and the Provinces elevated to a more favorable comparison with the neighboring States. We have fertile lands, splendid rivers, extensive sea-coasts swarming with fish — all the elements of prosperity profusely scattered by the Almighty over a country that requires but capital and labor to render it prosperous. For every pound of capital that the mother country has to spare we have a natural demand; for every unemployed man and woman in Great Britain and Ireland we can furnish employment and a home. In the mother country they have twenty men for every tree; we have five hundred trees, cumbering the soil, for every man she has to spare. Of