February 27, 1911

LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

But, in another way that is practically what was done, the bridge companies of the world have th best of the bridge engineers, with a few^ exceptions, in their employ. All these bridge companies were invited to put in their own designs. But, it is fair to my hon. friend (Mr. Lennox) to add, that they were to adhere to the specifications of the board. As a result, four large bridge companies, including some of the best in the world, did tender. My hon. friend, reading from the ' Scientific American,' complains that they did not have sufficient time to make out their plans and designs, and, as proof, says that it took the board some eighteen months. As a matter of fact, every one of these companies had had access to every investigation the board's staff was making during all these months. As soon as the board started working out their designs, putting on a paper the result of their studies and investigations, representatives from all these companies wyere given free access to everything they had done. So, as a matter of fact, everything that could be got together in the way of information by the board's staff these men had at their disposal. So, they were in the same position as the board which had to make the investigation from the beginning. I had a talk with a prominent engineer the other night, and he said that whatever might be the result, or whoever might build this bridge, one thing certain was that the investigations made and information obtained by the board had contributed very materially to the scientific knowledge of the world, and that information, of course, laid the foundation upon which the other tenders were submitted.

Then, my hon. friend asks why a cantilever design was chosen instead of a suspension, and quoted from the ' Scientific. American ' again in favour of a suspension bridge. One gentleman was strongly in favour of a suspension bridge, but he has had a hobby of that for some years, and possibly it is right. A certain school of engineers, very small in number, were very anxious that this design of a suspension bridge should be tried on the Canadian people at Quebec. But, I say to my hon. friend candidly that not one engineer I have met or have had the opportunity of consulting on this continent or in Europe but disagrees with the proposal to put a suspension bridge there-they were unanimously in favour of a cantilever. One of the bridge firms, the Philadelphia concern, did, for another party, present a plan for a suspension bridge, but it was immediately rejected by the board as insufficient.

Now, I cannot tell why a cantilever is considered better than a suspension. That is a scientific matter. It has been explained to me a good many times, but if I were to endeavour to set forth the technical reasons on the subject, I should only display what I do not know about it. My safe plan is to adhere to the opinion and advice of the men who, I think, are as capable of forming opinions on these matters as any that can be found on the continent.

Now, as to the principle of the bridge: It is fair to say, on behalf of the chief engineer who has resigned, that he always contended for what is known as a single intersection design. The Forth bridge is a double intersection design. The chairman disagreed with some other members of the board on this question of single and double intersection. He contended, and adhered to it to the end, that the single intersection was the proper principle to adopt. They discussed it thoroughly. As a result, the board's design, prepared by Mr. Vautelet, was on the single intersection. And I may add that every design tendered on by any bridge company, either here or elsewhere, was on the single intersection principle, which shows fairly clearly, to my mind, that that was the proper one, because whoever builds this bridge has to take full responsibility for the design as well as the construction on that design.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Can the minister (Mr. Graham) explain what is meant by 'the single or double intersection?

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Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

That is a technical matter which the engineers have threshed out thoroughly. _ It is something that I do not know anything about; and I say with candour that I think there are few gentlemen in this room who know anything about it. But I do not mind giving what seems to me an illustration of it. My hon. friend (Mr. Lennox) has seen a lattice fence. If it were built on the double intersection principle, the lattices would be double. Engineers take the position that it is much easier to calculate the direct stress on the members of a single intersection than to divide up the strains amongst the members of the double intersection. At all events, as I say, all those companies that put in their own designs must have favoured the single intersection, as they based their tenders upon that principle.

Now, as to safety. As I have stated to the House on previous occasions, the instruction always given to the members of the board was that safety was the first consideration. We have had one disaster. As my hon. friend (Mr. Lennox) says, we are not now discussing who was at fault; but we have had one disaster, the most lamentable part of which was the great loss of Mr. GRAHAM.

life. We must provide against anything of that kind in the future. The question of safety might be divided into two periods. There is the question of safety after the bridge is erected-that is one thing that is most essential. But there is another which is second in importance only to the first, and that is safety during erection. One of the chief points under discussion by the board at various times has been, if possible, to secure a design that will afford the greatest safety to both life and property during the time of erection; in fact, at one time that was the chief subject of disagreement among the members, each contending for his own theory, the one part of the board pointing out that it was

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Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Safety in construction is a necessary preliminary condition, because if you cannot get the bridge erected, you certainly cannot use it afterward.

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Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

The bridge might fall down once and a hundred lives be lost and five or six million dollars' worth of property might be destroyed; then the company responsible, might erect the bridge, profiting by their sad experience. But that would not restore lost lives. We must have safety in the erection, so that there will be no other calamity. I impressed that on the board, and they have made that one of the chief features of their discussions, and one of the chief requirements. I do not know what else I can say to my hon. friend. Every precaution has been taken. When this project was brought before the House by myself, shortly after coming into the government, I made a statement to the House, when I asked them to pass an Act to take over this work, on what lines I would try to have the bridge reconstructed. I admit now that I little knew the difficulties I was facing in attempting the reconstruction of the bridge, it is such an enormous undertaking. It may be, that I had the enthusiasm of youth, in thinking I would accomplish everything in a short space of time. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that I am going to accomplish the reconstruction of this Quebec bridge in a safe and sure way, but it is taking a great deal longer time than I expected. Scientific men tell me that I should not be discouraged, that the country should not be discouraged, at the slowness with which we are progressing. For some months we have been feeling our way, and testing it at every step. I believe that is the proper thing to do, and I rather encourage them to take their time and not to hurry, because we must make a success of the bridge, no matter if it does take a few years longer.

Now I said to the House at that time, that I would appoint prominent engineers, men of reputation, and place in their hands the entire responsibility for the

plans, and in addition, the responsibility for the construction of the bridge on the plans. An order in council was passed, embodying those ideas. Under that order in council, Mr. Vautelet, of Montreal, a very prominent and able man, was appointed chairman and chief engineer; Mr. Fitz-mauriee, of London, England, who was associated with Sir Edmund Baker, on the Forth bridge, was appointed as another; and Mr. Modjesba, of Chicago, a very eminent bridge engineer, and a member of the American Society of Engineers, was appointed the third man. They proceeded to prepare the plans, and as I have pointed out, they have differed at various times. Mr. Fitzmaurice, some months ago, I think about the close of last session, intimated to me that he would like to resign his position. He gave two reasons, one was his health, and the other was, that he did not approve of the plans being prepared by the chairman, and thought they could be improved on. After returning from the west I accepted Mr. Fitzmaurice's resignation, one of my chief reasons being, that we were coming to the point where some practical work had to be done in connection with accepting the contracts, and we ought to have a man who could pay more attention to the work and be at the meetings more regularly. His resignation was accepted; and I looked around to find a man to replace him, and I believe I have found a first class men. I went to New York, and discussed the matter with several men, and I heard about Mr. Charles Macdonald, an expresident of the American Society of Engineers, a man who was born, I think, in Leeds county-which is certainly nothing to his detriment-who had been a bridge engineer for many years, engaged in construction, who was afterwards, I think, associated with the American Bridge company, a very successful bridge builder, and engineer, so successful that he had acquired a competence, and is now living in Ganano-que, practically retired. When I went to New York, I was aware that Mr. Macdonald had returned, and was living in Gana-noque. But it seemed to be the universal opinion among the engineers with whom 1 spoke, and of Mr. Vautelet as well, that if I could secure the services of Mr. Charles Macdonald, I would be getting one of the foremost authorities in bridge construction on this continent. Mr. Macdonald, for reasons that are obvious, was not anxious to join the board. He is in a position where he does not have to work any longer, and it took a good deal of persuasion on my part, before he would consent. Finally he took this position: If I can assist this great project, I have such a pride in my old home, and have such a strong Canadianism in my nature, that I will sacrifice myself for a little while, and

give up some of my time, in order to work out this problem. Mr. Macdonald did not know what the remuneration was to be,-I believe he would have consented to act without remuneration-and I consider Mr. Macdonald's motive in coming practically out of retirement, to assist in this work, is a patriotic one exclusively, and that there is no mercenary motive in his act. Now he has been giving attention to this work. As I said, he is a great authority on bridge work. I think nearly a year ago, Mr. Vautelet, in conversation with me, suggested that he believed when the time came for the construction of the bridge-he did not put it just in that way, but that was the essence of what he said-he would feel like retiring. It has been a most trying work for him, and trying on others as well. I thought I had induced him to remain at a recent meeting I had with the board in New York, and I was congratulating myself that Mr. Vautelet would remain as chief engineer. The design prepared by the chairman of the board was his design, he is strongly in favour of it, and believes it is the better design. There was some disagreement as to the design, and he took the position later-that under the conditions existing, he would resign and his formal resignation was handed in. It is possible he would have continued in his desire to resign any way-even if his design had been selected. Among the engineers, I believe it is held that the man who makes a design is the best man you can get to erect the design, because he has faith in his structure, and knows all about it, knows what he is doing, and is more competent perhaps, than any other engineer to successfully complete what he started out to do. I might say that Mr. Macdonald accepted appointment only until the contract is let.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

While the minister is dealing with Mr. Vautelet's resignation, will he pardon me for interrupting him? It is rumoured-and I am only taking it as a rumour, so that it can be cleared up-it is rumoured that Mr. Vautelet refused to consider the other designs, that when the question of selecting a design came to be considered, I think probably at the time the question of awarding the contracts came to be considered, Mr. Vautelet, for some reason, refused to take any part in the question whatever. It is also said that he was so determined about this matter, that he would not put a certain question to the vote at a meeting of the board, and that in consequence, the minister was called in, and had to act himself as chairman. Now I am not, for the present, criticising Mr. Vautelet. What the minister says about his adhering to his own design, and not desiring to continue his

services if it was not accepted, may be a proper position for him to take. But I would like the minister to explain, if he understands what I am driving at, how much foundation there is for that story.

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Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to be absolutely courteous to my hon. friend, but I am afraid it would not lie in the public interest just now, at the point we are at, for me to go into these details. He will see on a moment's reflection, that I am trying to bring order out of all these difficulties, and we must not do anything that might tend to create chaos.

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Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

If the minister does not think it is desirable at the present time, I do not press the matter.

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Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

I will give this much along that point: It is incorrect to say that Mr. Vautelet did not consider these original tenders that were put in. They sat as a board, considered them all and made a report to me, which they all signed on the various tenders, but I thought that was not sufficiently definite, and I asked for a more definite report. The original tenders were discussed by all the members of the board, and the report was signed by Messrs. Vautelet, Macdonald and Modjeska. The other point was merely a matter of detail. At a meeting of the board certain motions were placed before the board, which I will be happy to give the House at a later stage. The chairman thought- and he gave his reasons for it-that these motions were out of order, and he did not put them. I never acted as chairman at any meeting of the board.

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Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

The minister stated that some little time ago, it was determined that the responsibility for the plans and for the construction should be absolutely placed upon the three engineers. The minister mentioned the other day in the House-I think he was entirely right-that when there was an effort to shift the responsibility he said: You gentlemen must take that responsibility yourselves. When the minister formed the plan of leaving the responsibility for the plans and construction upon these three engineers, did they accept that position?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

My Lion, friend is taking me along, step by step, I am afraid.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

At the time that they engaged to act as engineers of this great work, did they take upon themselves the full responsibility for all the proceedings?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

They were appointed under order in council; they knew the order in council providing absolutely for what I have stated.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

They accepted that position?

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Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

Certainly; there was no doubt in my mind that they accepted full responsibility.

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Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Then two of these engineers at least have resigned-Mr. Fitz-maurice and Mr. Vautelet. How does the matter stand as regards the responsibility for construction now that they have resigned?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

Well, their successors accept the responsibility they had.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Did the responsibility mean anything? Was there anything binding upon them at all? There was no obligation taken from them that they would be responsible from beginning to end?

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Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

I cannot exactly get at what my hon. friend means. If the minister accepts the full responsibility of his once, and the people put him out, or if he resigns, he is relieved of responsibility.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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February 27, 1911