March 16, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


Andrew Knox


Mr. ANDREW KNOX (Prince Albert) :

Mr. Speaker, in seconding this resolution I wish very briefly to deal with one or two points which I consider of vital importance to the people of the West, and incidentally to the people of the whole Dominion. The hon. member for Nelson (Mr. Compbell) has gone into the matter very fully, and brought out a number of very important points as to why this project should be completed. He has shown that a great asset of the Dominion of Canada exists in this route up to and through the Hudson bay, and I think there can be no question that this asset is at the present time deteriorating and being allowed to go backward instead of forward. I am intensely interested in the development of the natural resources of this country, and particularly of those resources in the great Hinterland of the Northwest more or less tributary to the Hudson bay. I cannot think of anything that would tend to the development of those resources more than the opening up of that country by the Hudson Bay railway. There is one other reason which impresses itself upon my mind as to the necessity of doing something along the line of opening up this route, and that is'the fact that at the present time the West is carrying a very heavy burden in the shape of high freight rates. These freight rates have the effect of causing trade and production to stagnate, in that

supplies shipped into the West have to be carried over a most expensive system of transportation, and the products of the West have also to be shipped out over that same system. I- believe that the development of the Hudson Bay route would overcome that difficulty to a certain extent.
The belief prevails very strongly throughout the West that eastern interests are in some way opposed to the opening up of the Hudson Bay route. Consequently, we believe that the delay in completing the project has been inspired by those interests. That belief does prevail very strongly throughout the West. The people of the West have been looking forward for this railway for a great number of years. I might state that at the annual meetings of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers' Association we have dealt with this question year after year for probably 15 years. A resolution has been passed at every meeting after discussion, and in every case carried by a unanimous vote.
As to the difference in distance for supplies going into the West or produce coming out of the West, if we take some point in the middle West, say the town of Kinder-sley, which is a prominent central point, we find that the difference in distance to the ocean outlet from Kindersley is almost 1,100 miles in favour of the Hudson Bay route via Nelson as compared with a point such as Montreal. In the constituency I have the honour to represent, which produces a great deal of produce in the shape of both beef and grain, the difference in distance from almost any point in the constituency is over 1,200 miles. This is something which should surely appeal not only to the people of the West but to the whole Dominion, for the more prosperity we have in the West, the more prosperity we have in the whole Dominion. As to the present state of the road, I have not seen it personally, but I have discussed it with people who have been over it, and I wish to quote a short extract from a western newspaper written by a man who is thoroughly conversant with the road and has been over it. He says:
The ties under those 333 miles of finished track from The Pas to Kettle Rapids are rotten, so rotten that a slow moving train which creeps out twice each month is derailed time after time from spreading rails. The writer was on this train two trips out this past summer, and saw the box cars turned over on their sides, the ties shattered into rotten bits and the rails warped out of shape, because the track is not being taken care of. It is a disgrace to the railway department to so neglect a priceless asset of the Canadian people, and the time will come when somebody must be called to account for this condition of things.
Hon. members from the West have on many occasions drawn the attention of the Department of Railways and Canals to the state of this road, and are anxiously pressing that some attention be paid to it, so that the present conditiop shall not continue.
I do not intend to go into the question of the feasibility of the route because that has been conceded by both the old political parties, and has been pointed out by my hon. friend from Nelson. I should like, however, to refer to the fact that a Senate committee was appointed last year, consisting of 12 members and in their final report I find this:
The committee had in view the securing of information on the following points:
(1) The length of the season during which the bay and strait were reasonably navigable, having in view the presence of ice, the occurrence and persistence of snowstorms, the advantages to be gained by aids to navigation, such as wireless telegraphy, lighthouses, fog signals, and hydroplanes.
(2) The style and size of vessels to be used for the carrying trade.
(3) The relative merits of the two ports, Nelson and Churchill, and the relative cost of the development of each port.
(4) The fishing resources of the bay and strait and of the rivers emptying into the bay.
(6) The mineral resources of the country tributary to the bay.
(6) The utilization of the country for the production of meat and furs to be obtained from the reindeer and musk ox, which would subsist upon the extremely nutritious grasses grown [DOT] there.
This committee was appointed on April 22 of last year, and, after holding fifteen meetings and examining twenty-one witnesses brought from different parts of the Dominion, who had a knowledge of conditions, they submitted their report on June 4. I shall not read the whole report because it is rather lengthy, but I desire to quote the following:
Tour committee makes the following findings upon the evidence adduced before them:
(1) That the Hudson Bay route is feasible and will probably in time be profitable.
(2) That the season of navigation under present conditions is at least four months in length and may by reason of improvements in aids to navigation be considerably increased.
I would draw the attention of the hon. member for North Waterloo (Mr. Euler), who made inquiries as to the length of the season, to the paragraph I have just read.
(3) That in the opinion of this committee sufficient care was not taken in the selection of Nelson as the terminus of the railway, and that the Government should not make further important expenditures upon this port without first making a new and thorough examination into the relative merits of Churchill and Nelson as a terminus of the railroad.
(4) That the waters of the strait and rivers tributary to the bay teem with fish and valu-

able marine animals, and we believe that the bay is equally well stocked but there has not yet been sufficient data collected as to the extent of the fisheries of the bay to enable an authoritative statement to be made as to their value.
(5) That the mines already discovered in the Hudson bay district are of sufficient number and richness to indicate the existence of great potential mineral wealth.
(6) Tour committee feel that they cannot too strongly endorse the value of the suggestion of Mr. Stefansson as to the cultivation of the reindeer and musk ox, and would urge upon the Government that the Department of the Interior be empowered to take hold of this matter, earnestly taking advantage of what has been done in this regard by the United States Government.
(7) Tour committee, although it is somewhat outside the scope of their mandate, cannot close this report without making some reference to the national value of the explorations of Vihljalmur Stefansson. He has completely revolutionized our ideas of the region within the Polar Circle. He has demonstrated that it is possible for white men to live and thrive in that northern region though drawing from no other resources than those afforded by the country itself, and he has proven that those lands which were looked upon as barren and utterly worthless will eventually be a valuable asset to Canada. The committee ventures the hope that the Canadian Government will not be unmindful of the great services performed by Mr. Stefansson, whose reward so far has not been commensurate with the national importance of the work he has accomplished.
(8) Tour committee expresses its thanks to the gentlemen who have voluntarily come forward and given valuable evidence upon the important matters under consideration.
(9) Tour committee submit herewith an extract in narrative form of the evidence given before the committee, and beg to recommend that one thousand copies of this report and the extract of the evidence be printed in pamphlet form for general distribution.
All which is respectfully submitted.
Geo. W. Fowler,
I do not wish to detain the House any further, but I would say that we recognize the necessity of economy at the present time. In looking over the Estimates one is struck by the fact that the Government seems bold enough to put an item there for $5,000,000 for the Welland canal, a project which cannot have any immediate result. Such being the case, surely it is not out of place to request that they consider the completion of the Hudson Bay railway.

Topic:   QUEBEC RIOTS OF 1918
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