Mr. S. J. JACKSON (Selkirk).
Mr. Speaker, on this very important question, that of the Hudson Bay Railway, I desire to
-occupy the attention of the House for a very short time. In the session of 1880 chapter 69 of the Statutes of Canada shows that a charter was passed for the Winnipeg and Hudson Bay Railway. After this charter was passed the promoters made application to the Manitoba government for assistance to the road. After several years of negotiations, finally in the year 1886 the legislature passed a Bill guaranteeing the bonds of the road for the first forty miles from Winnipeg at the rate of $6,400 per mile, taking the land grant as a security. I might say here that the Dominion government had given a land grant to the company providing that for that portion of the line which was in the province of Manitoba, about 200 miles, the company were to get 6,400 acres per mile, while for that portion outside of the province of Manitoba, about 500 miles, 12,800 acres would be granted to provide for extra difficulties supposed to exist In the construction of the road. The company went on and built the first forty miles. They did the grading, laid the ties and rails, but put on no ballast, and never operated any portion of this section. The ties rotted on the ground, the culverts and bridges were destroyed by fire and weather, the rails lay along the dump, and the only use made of them for about fifteen years was by the farmers along the line who occasionally hitched on to one and used it as a weed killer on their summer fallow. This forty miles remained from 1886 to about the year 1C00 in the condition I have just mentioned. About that time Mackenzie and Mann got possession of the charter and started to reorganize and complete the line, already graded. They also added about twenty miles, taking the line to Oakpoint, a settlement on the east shore of Lake Manitoba which is now the terminus of the Hudson Bay Railway in Manitoba.
Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, and I think I speak for a very large number of the people of the province of Manitoba, the present location of the Hudson bay road from a point on the Canadian Northern Railway Prince Albert branch, to the Pas on the Saskatchewan river, will never be a satisfactory route for the province of Manitoba. This line starts about thirty miles west of the western boundary of Manitoba, and if completed to Churchill on the Hudson bay would have its terminus to the east of the eastern boundary of the province. In other words, taking Portage la Prairie as the centre of the province our grain and other exports would have to go 170 miles west to this point and then come back east to Port Churchill, about 300 miles, an extra haul for the province on all its exports and imports of 235 miles. If Manitoba is to get any benefit from a Hudson Bay Railway a line will have to be built from Winnipeg .north between Lakes Winnipeg and Mr. S. J. JACKSON.
Manitoba or the east side of Lake Winnipeg which is the best route of all for Manitoba as well as being 200 miles shorter than any other route. In addition either of these two routes would open up a large extent of new and unoccupied territory which is capable of carrying a large population when the land is cleared. Most of this territory is covered with bush which would help the farmers to clear up the land by enabling them to take'out pulp wood and ship it by this railway.
There has never been any doubt in the minds of the Manitoba people as to the benefits of a Hudson Bay Railway to that province but the difficulty in the past has been the owning of the charter by people who could not convince the capitalists of the feasibility and profit of putting money into this railway.
My hon. friend the leader of the opposition seems to doubt that any pronouncement has been made by any member of the government on the question. Let me refer him to what the hon. Minister of the Interior said during last session when introducing his Lands Act:
The government is fully convinced of the propriety of giving the Northwest an additional railway outlet by way of Hudson bay at the earliest possible date. The government believes that with the increase in production of the west now in progress, such an additional outlet will be urgently needed as soon as the railway can be built, even if it were commenced at once. At the same time it realizes that public opinion throughout Canada could scarcely be expected at the moment, in view of the great obligations already incurred in connection with railway enterprise, to sanction the additional obligation that would be incurred by the construction of a railway to Hudson bay, unless special provision were made to meet that obligation. It believes however, that there will be no objection from any quarter if the funds acruing from the disposal of preemptions in the three prairie provinces, under the terms of the proposed land Bill, shall be considered as a provision in place of the land grant stated in the Act to meet the burden upon the credit of the Dominion as a whole that must be assumed at an early date-if not immediately-if a railway is to be in operation to Hudson bay in time to meet the urgent need which is now in plain sight for an additional and shorter railway route from the prairies to tide water.
Now, if this should be agreed to by the government, there is nothing to hinder surveys being made during the coming summer and operations commenced and contracts made in the spring of 1909. This road could be finished in two years as there are no special difficulties along the route. This would help the situation a good deal
as it will most likely be five years before tbe Grand Trunk Pacific is finished. While the line is being built, I would suggest that the government put up elevators with a capacity of say twenty millions so that when the line is finished it would at once become useful in relieving a situation which must become acute every fall until relief is furnished in this way. In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, even after this line and the Grand Trunk Pacific are finished,, there will be enough business to keep all the roads busy for twelve months in every year.
I might say further that my idea would be to give every railroad in the west running rights (under the Railway Commission) over this road from some fixed point, to which they would have to build as soon as this is done, and not before, will the relief for which the west is looking be provided. I would point out another fact, Mr. Macoun of the Department of Agriculture, in giving evidence before tbe Committee on Agriculture, a few days ago, told us of a belt of good land north of the province of Manitoba, through which the Hudson Bay Railway must run on its way to Churchill, of about 100 miles square or 6,400,000 acres. This belt will support 20,000 farmers giving each 320 acres. A few years ago 20,000 farmers in Manitoba raised 50,000,000 bushels of wheat, so it is easily seen what this belt when settled will do for the Hudson Bay Railway. As tbe government are likely to appeal to the people in the near future, I would like to see a plank for the building of this road along the lines I suggest, put in their platform, and from what I know of the people of the county of Selkirk, my majority instead of 500 as at the last election, would, I am sure, reach 1,500. At this late hour, Mr. Speaker, I will not at any further length discuss the subject under consideration.
Subtopic: PEAKER BROTHERS.