Sorel is a large centre of trade already. There will be a large quantity of products that are shipped perhaps from Montreal now which will be shipped from Sorel. All that large district from St. Hyacinthe on the Richelieu river will certainly ship its produce through Sorel. This is one of the wealthiest parts of the province of Quebec and of the country. My hon. friend has just stated that the government does not vote money directly for the port of Montreal. It is true the trade has paid so far for the works that have been carried on in Montreal. I do not know whether it is the best policy that can be followed, because if we are to compete with American ports, we will be obliged to be progressive, and it may come to pass that public opinion will insist that the government shall do for Montreal what we are doing elsewhere; that is to say, carry out works at the public expense. But, so far the trade of the country that is passing through the port of Montreal is paying the interest on the money that is being expended there. It is about the only port that is supporting itself in that way.
I do not suppose there is much difference between the opinions of my hon. friend and myself in reference to the port of Montreal. Probably if we understood each other we would agree. But, in reference to making Sorel an ocean port, it is a new proposition, and I question very much the practicability of the scheme.
This question is not at all a new one. Within a short time this proposal has come before the House. In 1899, I think it was, or, in 1900, when
This is the only expenditure of money that lias ever been asked by parliament for any works at Sorel.
Will that complete the work ?
Yes, the amount of the contract is $255,000.
Do I understand that it is intended to make Sorel an ocean terminal, the same as Montreal and Quebec ?
the Minister of Public Works was away, an appropriation of $25,000 was taken. It was rather a tentative appropriation and was found to be insufficient. Nothing was done upon it. Last year, after having had complete surveys made, an appropriation of $100,000 was asked from parliament and then it was stated that these works, which were intended to be constructed at Sorel, would cost anywhere from $150,000 to $175,000. Now, the intention is to make Sorel an ocean port. This seems to surprise the hon. member for Toronto (Mr. Kemp). There is really nothing in it that should surprise him. Sorel is at the confluence of the
Richelieu river and the St. Lawrence, and from time immemorial it has been the great artery of communication for the whole interior of the country south of Montreal. But railways are taking the place of waterways, and two railways are now converging at Sorel, the south shore which has been constructed from Montreal to Sorel and beyond Sorel to Nicolet, and will be completed this year probably to Lotbiniere. There is the United Counties Railway also which became the Rutland Railway, and which I believe now belongs to the New York Central, and it comes from the New York Central railway system at Lake Champlain to the town of Sorel. The traffic of a very wealthy section of the country, of eight or ten of the most wealthy counties in Quebec-Richelieu, St. Hyacinthe, Yamaska, St. John, Iberville-and others will come to this harbour. It is not possible to doubt that a very large trade will be brought there and this work is contemplated in order to accommodate that trade. I was surprised to hear my hon. friend from Simcoe (Mr. Bennett) make some comparison between the expenditure in the province of Quebec and the expenditure in the province of Ontario. It does not matter in what province we make the expenditure, if It is to accommodate the trade of the country at large, which is coming more and more to the valley of the St. Lawrence, and nobody will grudge money spent for that purpose. This is not only for Sorel, but it is a part of the system to equip the harbours of Montreal, Three Rivers and Quebec. I am sure that my hon. friend from Toronto (Mr. Kemp) has no doubt whatever that before many years, there will be enough trade coming from Ontario and the west to supply all those harbours, of which Sorel is one.
I am glad to have this information. I was not a member of the House when the vote was first taken in 1899 and I did not hear the discussion. In fact until now I never heard of Sorel as a prospective port for ocean vessels. When we consider how long Quebec has been stagnant and how few of the ocean vessels have called there of recent years-in fact only the Leyland line is coming here this summer after years of waiting-we may reasonably come to the conclusion that Montreal and Quebec will be for years the principal ports of the St. Lawrence. I confess that I do not see how Sorel is to become an ocean port. I quite agree with the Prime Minister that the valley of the Richelieu is very fertile but the agricultural products of that district are not sufficient to afford trade for this large harbour.
So far as the Rutland road is concerned it will bring no traffic to Sorel for export, because its terminal at one end is practically in New York, a sea port, and Sorel would be the other. It will be many years, and Mont-Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
real and Quebec will have to develop to an enormous extent, before Sorel will get any trade as an ocean port. My impression is that the wharf at Sorel at present is sufficient for the trade of that fertile valley to which the Prime Minister has referred.
Mr. HUGHES (Victoi'ia).
Who are the contractors for this work.
Messrs. Poupore & Malone.
Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).
Did the contract call for hemlock or pine.
I have not the specifications at hand, but I will lay them on the Table.
Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).
I would like to see them.
Will the minister lay on the Table a copy of the contract ?
Have the works proceeded so far ?
Oh, yes, they will be completed at the end of the season. Poupore and Malone have a splendid equipment, perhaps the best of all the contractors I have.
How much was spent last year ?