Mr. G. M. Murray (Cariboo):
I heartily agree with the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra (Mr. Green) who has suggested that assistance should be given by the Department of Defence Production.
This discussion brings to mind an historic moment in the history of Canada. In 1874 discussions took place in the House of Commons as to the final plan or route for the Canadian Pacific Railway. After everybody had had his say, Sir John A. Macdonald, the great leader of the party so well represented by the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra, rose in his place to speak. At that time Sir John was in opposition. His speech, as mine will be on this occasion, was brief: I have at least that in common with the great first prime minister of Canada.
After consultation with certain people he said, "There is no doubt that the road should go along the line discovered by Alexander Mackenzie, and that it should pass down through the Peace river area, through the Nechako country, and so on." He put his finger on the map, where Fort George was located, and said, "That is the centre; that is where the rivers meet; that is where the trails cross. That some day will be a great city." Fort George is today Prince George; and of course it is an outstanding centre in the Cariboo electoral district which I have the honour to represent. I mention it in this connection because the Cariboo country is the
hinterland to Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Vancouver and the other great coastal ports on the Pacific.
I am supporting this measure because u brings to fruition the dream that, no doubt, that great pioneer statesman had of the development of the interior of British Columbia. I refer not so much to the development that has taken place along the 49th parallel in the southwest corner of British Columbia, but rather to the heart of the country where most of the wealth is located, where we see the great plains and the great timber areas, where we find the waterpower and the minerals.
That is where we should have a metropolis, the place where Sir John placed his finger, at the confluence of the Nechako and the Fraser, the site of the present city of Prince George.
The building of this industry at Kitimat is probably the greatest event in northern British Columbia since the building of the first railway. I commend the minister upon his having appreciated quickly the need for rail extensions there, and the building of this Kitimat cut-off. I would hope that later he might see his way clear to have the Canadian National Railways build a branch into the Peace river country. I know that Premier Johnson of British Columbia has that in mind. The people of British Columbia are united in their desire to see a railway in the Peace river country, the great agricultural area in which few people live, but a place where all kinds of grains and fodder can be grown. Indeed, that area can produce most of the products grown here in Ontario, with the possible exception of tree fruits.
That area remains to be tapped by rail. If a town is built at Kitimat, and if this branch railway is to be as profitable as indicated, then there must be back of it and back of Kitimat an extensive farming industry. There must be dairy and other products to supply a big industrial population. Recently we had a discovery of oil and large quantities of natural gas in the Peace river country. I believe that today consideration is being given to running branches from the proposed pipe line to Vancouver to serve Prince Rupert, Kitimat and other places on the northern Pacific coast.
I think also of the great development which has taken place in the interior of British Columbia north of the 60th parallel within the confines of the riding represented by the hon. member for Yukon-Mackenzie River (Mr. Simmons). During the last year or so there have been vast developments in all kinds of
minerals, particularly uranium, oil and natural gas. That country has no rail connection with the Pacific coast and I visualize the construction of a line, possibly down through Grimshaw in Alberta, the continuation of the Northern Alberta railway over into the Peace river bloc in British Columbia, with a further extension from there by Canadian National Railways to Pacific tidewater.
These great smelters and refineries will just naturally be located around Prince Rupert, Kitimat and other points on the Pacific coast. I think it would be wrong to think otherwise. The construction of railroads in Canada is a matter of great national importance today, just as it was in 1874. We are entering a new era of discovery, mechanical devices, invention and general development.
Last night we had as a guest in this House of Commons the president of the Canadian Pacific Air Lines Limited. In the early thirties when so many young men were having to go into the unemployment camps wondering what they were going to do, Grant McCon-achie thought that it would be a good idea to become an aviator. He had been firing a locomotive on the Canadian Northern railroad. He learned to fly an aeroplane and went up into the north country where he flew out furs, fish and everything that offered. He carried these commodities down to Prince George, Edmonton and other rail centres.
From that small beginning he developed a great business. I am very happy that I had some little part in getting him launched out of Ashcroft with the first air mail service out of the Cariboo. From that small beginning he built up a great air fleet which now spans the Pacific to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand as well as points in South America. Great wealth has been brought to this country through the operation of that air service as part of our transportation picture now being worked out in the northwest and toward the completion of which the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) is making such a great contribution.