roads; build proper workshops and acquire proper tools so that the men working at the engines might be able to do efficient work; erect proper fences along the whole of their line; build additional water tanks; provide sidings at the various stations; build sheds large enough to hold the merchandise which is very often exposed to the weather for lack of space; haul empty cars from Matapedia so as to take care of the outgoing freight; dig drains and cut weeds; acquire facilities for loading live stock; sweep the stations once a day and keep them clean; and make some arrangements to keep the mails under cover at Matapedia, the mail bags now being left on trucks and often left outside over night.
This is a brief summary of the complaints made against the railway company. The patrons of the road have suggested two alternatives in case the company would not reform itself-either to put the company into the hands of a receiver, or to have the Government add this 200 miles of line to the National railway system. The Railway Commission sat for a day or so and investigated all the grievances which I have summarized. Be it said to the credit of the company, it was found that in many instances the complaints were somewhat exaggerated. On the whole, it was found that the company was doing its best, with limited financial capacity, to meet the requirements of the public from a passenger and freight point of view. A good deal of evidence was given as to the financial situation of the company, and their statements show that the Atlantic, Quebec and Western Railway Company, which represents the last one hundred miles of the railway, had made in six years a total loss in operation over gross earnings of $245,375, and that the Quebec and Oriental Railway Company, the old Gaspe railway, during the same period had made a net gain of $182,788. But the company, through its able manager, Mr. Gordon, contended that all of this money had gone back into the road in the way of betterments, and I think that the chairman of the Railway Commission and his fellow workers found that this statement was true.
I need not go into all the figures. I will quote simply the concluding paragraph of Mr. Carvell's judgment on the whole situation after the investigation. He said:
Generally speaking. I found the road-bed from Matapedia to New Carlisle better than I had expected, although it was far from what might be considered an up-to-date road-bed. All the rivers and larger streams were spanned by steel bridges of light construction but still in fairly
good physical condition. The rails are 56 lbs. to the yard, but evidently of good quality, and the track well laid. The new ballast was quite evident in many places, and there seemed, to be a reasonable number of new ties added within recent years. Culverts were in many cases very deficient, station houses dilapidated, and the whole road showed unmistakable evidence of financial stringency. The passenger cars are antiquated and should not be used for first-class passenger traffic on any railroad. The engines were light, many of them old. and no doubt very expensive as to maintenance. In fact, I do not think any railway company could hope to carry a large amount of traffic, either* passenger or freight, with the equipment now in use on these roads.
A vast amount of evidence was given to the amount of business available along the Gasp6 shore. However, generally speaking, it may be summarized as follows: There is a population of 75,000 with no other means of communication with the outside world by rail. They, of course, to some extent, can carry on business bv water. The fishing industry alone amounts to over $2,000,000 per year. There is a large pulp and paper mill at Chandler on the Atlantic, Quebec and Western. There are enormous forest reserves extending north into the interior for many miles all along the line. The agricultural possibilities are considerable, but nothing like what could be produced were better transportation facilities provided.
As a result of our negotiations, the daily train to Gaspe was restored on May 1, and I have heard no complaints about it up to the present time. The passenger equipment is antiquated and only fit for second-class passenger traffic. They require at least Wvo modern, first-class coaches and one chair car to accommodate the business, and, in my judgment, they require at least four modern locomotives, which will take care of the passenger service. They also require an up-to-date machine shop for the purpose of effecting the necessary repairs to equipment, and I see no possibility under the present financial condition of the company of these necessary improvements being provided, unless they can rent the use of some from either the Canadian Pacific or the Canadian National Railway, and, as the traffic is entirely with the Canadian National, it would seem to me to be a good business investment on the part of the latter road to furnish this road with the necessary equipment, both locomotives and cars, at a very reasonable rental.
That is the gist of my proposal to the Government. We do not ask-and I say "we," because I speak on behalf of my hon. friend from Bonaventure (Mr. Marcil) and myself-that the Government should take over that road; the Government has already enough lame ducks in the National Railway system. But it seems to me that we are quite reasonable in asking the Government to treat generously this important feeder of the Canadian National railways. I say it is an important feeder; that is admitted by the Chairman of the Railway Commission. Mr. Gordon, the manager of the road, who has won the compliments of the commission, states in a memorandum
which was addresed to the Railway Commission in the month of February last:
The fact should not be lost sight of that wo are responsible for supplying the national railways, without cost to them, traffic yielding in revenue something like a million and a half dollars per annum. Inquiry into this should reveal the fact that we are extremely valuable feeders, and, I think, it was to the interests of the national railways to see that we continue as such and that we get every reasonable assistance so we may be able to develop and encourage traffic by continuing such rates in effect as the traffic can stand.
All we ask from the Government is that it implements the suggestion made by the Railway Commission that some of the equipment of the Canadian National railways be rented, if not loaned, to this company, in order to give it a chance to pass over the peak of its difficulties, that is to say, over this period of hard times. We do not want the Government to put the company under the'hammer. We do not ask the Government to take over the road as a lame duck, but we do ask the Government to give this important feeder of the Canadian National system a chance to function, and a chance to develop, by lending to it a few locomotives, a few first-class cars, and a few freight cars. We are not asking anything beyond the recommendations of the Chairman of the Railway Commission. We will be satisfied with that and so will our electors.