Hon. J. D. REID:
This matter was
brought to my attention a few days ago by the receipt of a telegram addressed to the hon. Minister of Railways, dated January 31, from W. W. Davidson, Mayor of Moose-jaw. This telegram was as follows:
Fuel situation in this section of province is extremely critical. Intense suffering- is prevalent. Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk Pacific completely tied up. Railway Commission on December 4 ordered sixty-five cars per day to be placed at Drumheller for coal, yet within three weeks mines were closed down for want of cars. No substantial quantity coal has been received from this field for three weeks. Movement also very slow on Canadian Pacific railway. Strongly urge you to take this up with Railway Commission that drastic measures may be taken at once to relieve the situation.
When I received that message four days ago, I at once interviewed Sir Henry Drayton, Chairman of the Railway Commission. He told me that he had taken this matter up with the Grand Trunk Pacific, Canadian Northern, and Canadian Pacific Railway Companies, and that his information was that Western Canada was experiencing one of the most severe winters they had ever known; that the cold was very intense the snowstorms very severe- so much so that, according to the information which he had, it was almost impossible for any of the three railway companies mentioned to move their trains. This matter had been before him for several weeks; he had his special officers in that vicinity, urging the railways to do everything they could to prevent distress in that section of the country. He showed me the correspondence that he had had on the subject and the messages that had passed between the several companies. The message from the mayor of Moosejaw was so strong that I felt that I should like to do what I could to assist the Railway Commission, and, if possible, to prevent any distress. The first thing I did was to wire the president of the Canadian Northern Railway Company as follows:
I have received notice situation at Drum-heller and surrounding district suffering for want of coal. Unless immediate action taken and relief given, loss of life may occur. Difficulty caused by your railway not supplying any moving cars. Wire quick what action you propose taking, otherwise I -must bring before Council for their action. I cannot assume responsibility of leaving matter in present cond'i tion longer than to-day.
J. D. Reid,
Acting Minister of Railway,..
I then called up Mr. Bury, the Transportation Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and discussed the matter with him. I asked him if there was any possibility of the Canadian Pacific railway cooperating with the Canadian Northern railway, and, if the Canadian Northern Railway Company could not get a sufficient quantity of coal out there on account of shortage of motive power or cars, whether they would run trains from Drumheller and get the coal into that locality. Mr. Bury told me over the telephone that the Canadian Pacific Railway Company were willing to co-operate in any way they could with the Canadian Northern Company or with the Grand Trunk Pacific Company and that they would do and were doing everything in their power to supply coal along the line of their own railway. That day Mr. Bury communicated to me a message from B. C. Coleman, Assistant general Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company at Winnipeg, as follows:
We have no advice of any kind on Canadian Pacific railway where there is any suffering, or the possibility of any. Schools and churches have had to be closed temporarily in some towns in southern Manitoba, and southern Saskatchewan, but we have been and will be able to prevent any cases of actual distress by supplying our own engine coal where there is no other fuel available. Lethbridge mines have been kept well supplied with cars. The coal has been moved in preference to all other freight, and there have not been excessive delays, taking into consideration the weather. Supply at many towns on Canadian Pacific has been depleted on account of farmers and others driving from Canadian Northern territory in order to reach our railway for fuel. We will, of course, take fuel from Canadian Northern when offered, and have already arranged with them to do so. We cannot help them on Drumheller line. They have plenty engines, and have said publicly that they have the cars. The trouble is due to cuts having been allowed to fill up with snow, the failure of water supply, and the general absence of facilities on newly built branch lines. It is stated on authority Government recorders that taking Western Canada as a whole this is the worst spell of excessively cold and stormy weather it has ever endured since railways built there. There is a great depth' of snow, and there has been no thaw from former cru&t, and the slightest
breath of wind sets the whole sea in motion. Saskatchewan Government should be asked to notify the General Superintendent at Moose-jaw, and this office, of any report they get which indicates the necessity for special action, and we will see that there is no suffering provided the locality can be reached over our line of railway. It is hard for the railway company to distinguish, between cases where there is a general shortage and places where dealers and others are merely anticipating a difficulty, and if the Government can help in this we will be very glad.
I also wired the mayor of Moosejaw asking him if he could give me the names of any places in particularly urgent need of relief. In addition to that, Sir Henry Drayton had telegrams from the members of the Provincial Government and from the mayor of Moosejaw, and I have before me the whole file showing what he had done. Sir Henry Drayton issued orders that the coal trains were to take precedence over all traffic on the railways. Sir Henry sent a telegram only yesterday to Mr. Drury, the engineer of the commission, urging the Canadian Pacific railway to do all they could, and I have here the reply which I shall read to the House, as it explains the situation so far as the Canadian Pacific railway is concerned. The telegram is:
Montreal, Que., February 2.
From Sir H. Drayton,
Referring to your message. Mr. Coleman, our assistant general manager at Winnipeg telegraphs me as follows: " For two years past Moosejaw, Regina, Calgary and Saskatoon have obtained large proportion their domestic coal supply from Drumheller and it is the snow troubles on the Canadian Northern which have caused shortage these cities. This is admitted by the press and has been publicly acknowledged by the coal dealer and is well within the knowledge of Sir Henry's officers on the ground. We agreed soon as Bienfait mines opened up we would take Canadian Northern coal loaded at these mines and would haul to Canadian Northern at Midale. We reached the mines last night and are now getting the switching done. Assistant General Manager Cameron of the Canadian Northern told me yesterday that is would be some time before they could move a car out of Midale as they have cut on line west of there filled to a depth of twenty-two feet. Yesterday to help out city of Regina I started to load up twenty cars Pittsburg coal from our dump at Moosejaw, they agreeing to return this to us from stock of a Winnipeg dealer at Fort William. Five cars this coal to toe delivered Regina to-day,"
Radville and Bengough are not on our lines.
I mention these facts to show you that not only are the Canadian Pacific railway
doing all they possibly can on their own lines, but that an arrangement has been made between the Canadian Northern railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway to co-operate in every way possible to relieve . the situation in that district.
The situation on the Canadian Northern railway line is very bad. On January 29, they wired Sir Henry Drayton, and perhaps this telegram will explain the situation so far as their road is concerned:
Winnipeg, Man., January 29, 1916.
Sir H. L,. Drayton,
Board of Railway Commissioners,
Ottawa, Ont *
Your message date. We are not short of motive power. Wo are, however, in very had shape for water consequent upon the very serious weather that has been experienced. In order that you may know just how our water supply is from Drumheller to Kindersley, I give information connection with our tanks working from west to east Drumheller O.K., Mecheehe very limited supply account extreme cold. Hanna same. Tank between Richdale and Stanmore frozen up entirely. Youngstown only getting about three thousand gallons per day. Chinook same as Youngstown; between Oyen and Benton frozen up entirely; Alsask keeping up at present but account heavy drain afraid may have trouble. Half mile east Flax-combe very limited supply. Kindersley O.K. Water supply at points mentioned thoroughly gone over last summer and if had had average winter weather this year would have experienced no trouble. Been necessary to run water cars on every train between points above mentioned. In order to relieve the territory as much as possible we are sending trains north on the Battle river sub via Vegreville Junction but impossible to tell how long we will he able to do that with any success for reason that water supply on Battle river sub is also bad account extreme cold weather. The supply is as follows; Rumsey frozen up; Big Valley tanks O.K. ; tanks between Warden and Stet-tler frozen up ;[DOT] Red Willow getting about one thousand gallons per day. Between Meeting creek and Edberg frozen up. Half mile south-battle O.K. Roundhill lots of water, but cannot use it account Its quality as engines foam too badly account weather conditions. Engines have had to have their tonnage reduced as much as seventy-five per cent and water consumption handling such reduced tonnage is equal if not greater than would have been in hauling winter tonnage under ordinary conditions. Reports this morning indicate weather is moderating and you can rest assured that every one is on the job and doing everything possible to meet the situation but this winter is one that is extraordinary in the duration of the cold and its intensity.
I have read these telegrams to show that the Railway Commission and the railways have promised me, as Acting Minister of Railways, that they will do everything they possibly can to relieve any possible suffer-
ing in that district, and that they are now doing so.
I have two or three clippings from western papers which confirm these statements. In the Winnipeg Free Press of January 29, I read:
Coal Famine Relieved-Railway Officials adopt Energetic Measures at Saskatoon.
Saskatoon, iSask., Jan. 28.-The coal famine here has been relieved, due to energetic measures adopted by Canadian Northern railway officials to spot cars at the Drumheller field, cars have been promised all mines there tomorrow. A few cars have been arriving each day here and there is no likelihood of suffering unless the weather takes a decided turn for the worse. The storm here during the last few days has not been severe and trains have been running fairly well up to schedule time.
.Snowstorm delays Trains.
The Canadian Pacific railway time-table has been entirely disorganized through the continued snowstorm throughout the country, and system has had to be disregarded. The Imperial Limited from the East, due to reach, Winnipeg at 11.15 yesterday morning, was at midnight reported due here about 3.30 o'clock this morning, while the night Imperial Limited will not be there until late this morning. Trains from the west are likewise hours behind time, but an attempt is being made to keep the local service well to schedule.
i have another long article here from the Winnipeg Free Press, dated from Regina, January 28, which as no doubt the hon. member has seen, it will not be necessary to read. In addition to the steps I have described, the hon. member for Moosejaw (Mr, Knowles) who, of course, is greatly interested in this matter, was over at the office of the Railway Commission yesterday when I happened to be there. The chairman of the Railway Commission assured him that everything the commission could do was being done; and, in addition to that, I told him that everything that the Government could do was being done and also that the railways were themselves doing everything in their power. My hon. friend was good enough to notify all of the officials interested in this matter that he intended to bring it to the attention of the House this afternoon, and so I have brought with me the whole file on the subject. I have also Sir Henry Drayton's file. Both of these files are at the hon. gentleman's disposal, and I am sure that when he has read them he will be satisfied that everything that it is possible to do is being done to meet the situation.
I only wish to say in conclusion that I regret exceedingly that there has been any suffering in the West; but since the matter was first brought to my .attention I have satisfied myself that the several railway companies are doing everything they possibly can to relieve the situation. I. understand that the .main trouble is on the Canadian Northern railway; but, from the information I have gathered, not only from personal conversations, but from messages that have passed between us, I am confident that the Canadian Pacific Railway Company are willing to do anything under heaven to relieve the situation, either by taking coal from the Canadian Northern, or, if necessary, by running their trains over the Canadian Northern line. The correspondence I have had with the chairman of the Railway Commission leads me to the conclusion that he has done everything possible to relieve any suffering that may exist in those districts.