Mr. G. F. HODGINS (Pontiac).
Mr. Speaker, I have listened with great attention to the hon. member for North Renfrew (Mr. G. V. White) who introduced this question and also to the hon. members who followed him. On this all-important question of the Georgian Bay canal. I believe that since confederation there has been no question which should so engage the attention of this parliament or the people of Canada as the early construction of the Georgian Bay canal. We have heard so much to-night as to its merits that I do not feel like asking the indulgence of the House in what would be a repetition of the many great things that have been said in its favour; but I feel that I would be remiss in my duty to my constituency, as well in my duty a-s a member of this House, if I did not take this opportunity of endorsing the construction of the Georgian Bay canal. It is not a new question, it has been before the people of Canada since before confederation, and I do not feel bashful or backward in endorsing the scheme when I find that it has been endorsed by the greatest statesmen of our country, by the railway magnates of Canada, by large shipping interests, by various boards of trade as well as by the press. Consequently I feel quite at liberty in endorsing the scheme as one that should be of the greatest possible benefit to. the Dominion of Canada. I have no doubt that the delay in construction has been owing to its enormous cost; but considering that it will take 10 years to construct this great water-way, which is estimated to cost $100,000,000, an expenditure of $10,000,000 per annum will cover the entire cost and I feel satisfied that when this great canal is completed and opened for the great commerce of our Northwest and of the east, it will amply repay the government of Canada for its construction. When you consider the enormous strides the great provinces of the west have made in the last Mr. DEVLIN.
decade and their great prospects for a still further increase, I am not at all optimistic in predicting that when this canal is opened for transportation, the grain production of the great western provinces, will exceed one billion bushels per annum. Considering that in 1900 the total production was 32,000,000 bushels, in 1907, 160,000,000; in 1908, 232,000,000; and in 1909,
314,000,000; I do not think I am over-estimating when I predict that by 1920 the total production of grain of the three western provinces will exceed 1,000,000,000. We may estimate that one-half of that will be for export. Such an eminent authority as Mr. Robert Reford, of Montreal, one of the leading ship owners of Canada, claims that wheat may be transported from Fort William to Montreal at a saving of 2 cents per bushel on the present rate. That would represent $10,000,000 on the export of Northwest grain alone, quite sufficient to pay the interest on the investment of $100,000,000 as well as the maintenance and operation of the canal.
Much has been said with regard to enlarging the Welland canal, but while I believe in the deepening of that canal I am of the opinion that the day will come when both these canals will be required. And as the people of Ontario have been enjoying for many years the advantages of the Welland canal, I think it is in their interests and that of Canada generally that the Georgian Bay canal should be first constructed. The enlargement of the Welland would interfere to a great extent with the present traffic, whereas by building the Georgian Bay canal first, the people of Ontario would have a complete circle of waterways and the province of Quebec would have a water-way along its entire front. Speaking of the county I have the honour to represent, I may say that the natural resources of Pontiac alone would justify the construction of this great water-way. We have in Pontiac county enormous areas of timber, pulpwood, mineral and other resources awaiting easier and cheaper transportation facilities. I was rather surprised to hear, during the debate on the budget, the hon. member for Peterboro (Mr. Stratton) say that pulpwood was worth about $5.75 per cord in the raw, but that, when manufactured into paper, it was worth $38 to $45 per cord for low grade paper, and) $50 to $100 for high grade. Last year the export of pulpwood, at a valuation of $5.75, represented something like $4,500,000, whereas had it been manufactured into paper, it would have represented over $40,000,000.
There are many people in this country who believe that protection is the greatest possible factor in building up a country, but in my opinion, transportation will do
more for us than protection ever will. I believe that if this Georgian Bay canal be built it will give our Canadian water routes an advantage over every other on this continent, and do more for the benefit of this country than possibly could any tariff.
So much has been said regarding distance and the cost of transportation, that I do not think it would be wise for me to take up the time of the House in discussing this phase of the question. I might, however, refer to the exports of wheat during the present year from Fort William by way of the great lakes. During the past year, some 77,000,000 bushels of wheat were shipped from Port Arthur and Fort William to the sea-board and intermediate points. Some 54,000,000 bushels were carried in Canadian bottoms and 23,000,000 in American bottoms. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that were the Georgian Bay canal constructed, not only would we carry through that water-way the products of our Canadian northwest, but also to a great extent those of our American neighbours. Our neighbours view with alarm the construction of this great canal, and they rather favour the deepening of the Welland canal. Naturally they would prefer the latter, as we would have to bear the cost of the improvement while they would get the trade. I have before me some very interesting letters on this question, but as there are many other hon. gentlemen who are anxious to speak, I shall not detain the House by reading them.
The Nova Scotia coal question has been dealt with in a very able manneT by the hon. gentleman who preceded me (Mr. Arthurs) so that I need but briefly refer to it. During the year 1908, the total production of Nova Scotia coal represented some
6,300,000 tons, which gave employment to some 13,000 miners. Only about 2,000,000 tons of that coal found its way west of Quebec, while on the other hand the province of Ontario imported from the United States some 8,000,000 tons. Had this coal been purchased instead in Nova Scotia, it would have given employment to 25,000 more men and have also given employment to Canadian shippers, so that I say if we want to build up our country, the first thing we should do is to attend to this transportation question. $100,000,000, which is the estimated cost of the Georgian Bay canal, is no doubt a large amount, but when we consider the resources of Canada, when we consider the fact that there are $735,000,000 of the people's money in our savings bank, when we consider the high credit of Canada in the money markets of the world, I do not see why the cost of the enterprise should make the government hesitate, and I believe that the government will receive the endorsation of the entire people if it should undertake this
work. I trust that the right hon. the Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), who, with his colleagues, has done so much for the upbuilding of this country, will not hesitate in building this canal, and that Sir Wilfrid Laurier's name may go down to posterity as the creator of this great waterway, as well as of the many other great public utilities which have been inaugurated under his regime. Sir, I shall not take up more of your time on this question, knowing that there are others desirous of speaking, who can deal with the question more capably than I can.
Subtopic: SUMMARY OF COST.