February 27, 1911 (11th Parliament, 3rd Session)


George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)



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.

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