Mr. ROCHE (Halifax).
facilities for the shipment of grain across the Atlantic than the port of Halifax.
Perhaps some hon. gentleman may think that I am an amateur on this subject, as some sceptical people thought the other day that I was an amateur on the subject of farming. I know something about the subject of navigation also. Into the port at Halifax there come the largest steamers in the world. I was on board two of the largest steamers in the world in Halifax, one the steamer Pennsylvania, of the Ham-burg-American line. This, the largest ship in the world, came into Halifax without a pilot, and the captain turned her around himself, under my direction, and went out again without a pilot, showing the superior navigating facilities of that port. Now, Mr. Speaker, there is this point, and it is the solution of this question of navigation : We know that the tramp steamers, those that carry the grain in bulk, and nothing else, are the vehicles of communication which make the rates on grain. You cannot bring them up to Quebec or to Montreal in the winter time. They go to ports in the United States because the grain is collected there for them, and they go to those ports in ballast. What is the great difficulty of winter navigation ? It is that these ships have to come out from England or continental points empty, and that is the great difficulty of winter navigation, as the captains tell me. I only repeat what a number of them have told me. They say : We can get no cargo to bring out to United States ports, and we have to depend on the back freight to make the enterprise pay. Here is the solution of it : Bring out the western trade, bring out the freight from England and other ports to Halifax in these steamers and the whole question is solved. You will have back freights which will reduce the rate on grain one-third or one-half, and there is no other port in Canada to which you can bring those back freights. What about the winter navigation of the St. Lawrence ? Did they not try to run a steamer from Paspebiac to Europe, and what was the report we got ? Steamer still in sight, still in the ice ; a week later, relief steamer gone out, steamer still in the ice ; at the end of a month, steamer still in the ice, steamer in sight, and relief steamer in the ice. They will always be in the ice, and they will always remain there while the St. Lawrence goes out, while the Arctic ocean is to the north, and while the Atlantic is beyond. Hon. gentlemen may talk about intermediate points upon the lakes, about one point on Lake Erie and another point on Lake Ontario, but the only solution is to get down to deep water on the Atlantic. Political parties have been trifling with the question all along. An hon. gentleman said that there was an elevator at Halifax. There was an elevator at Halifax, and grain was shipped through that elevator, but
through the carelessness of the Conservative party the elevator was burned down. There is an elevator at Halifax now, a beautiful, capacious elevator, with every facility adapted to the movement of grain. It only requires the grain to be brought there when the superior advantages of the port of Halifax will be at once demonstrated. What keeps it back 1 Why is not the experiment made ? Is it the timidity of the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals, or is it owing to the lack of rolling stock to transport the grain which is ready to go over the railway ? I am told it is the absence of rolling stock, the paucity of locomotives, and a great many other detrimental circumstances which prevented the experiment being tried.
In regard to insurance upon the St. Lawrence, I may say that amongst my other qualifications, I was 21 years in an insurance office, and I know that the insurance companies who want to make money very shrewdly conjecture where the risk is which calls for these high premiums, and they know that the navigation of the channel of the St. Lawrence from the month of October is very dangerous. In the summertime, with a certain depth of water, the St. Lawrence is good enough, but for all seasons of the year, for all depths of water and all sorts of tonnage, there is no port in the world, certainly not on the western hemisphere, that can compare with the port of Halifax. There is another rival springing up, and a rival with which the St. Lawrence will have to struggle, perhaps in the summer time, perhaps in the winter time. I am informed by the captains of these ships which carry grain, that desperate efforts are being made to make New Orleans the terminus of the grain-carrying trade, and that the navigation of the Mississippi is going to be the great rival of the St. Lawrence. They have prepared their elevators, they have a variety of products to give a variety of cargoes, and they believe that they can successfully compete with any means of communication possessed by us ; but, in the meantime, until the question of these rival ports is settled, we must have some outlet for the trade of Canada, and the problem will not be successfully solved except by means of back freights from Europe, which will lessen the rates of freight, coupled with the use of the free port of Halifax, with all those facilities which are necessary to enable the produce to be handled at a cheap rate, and which will prevent the trade from going by any other route.
Subtopic: TRANSPORTATION OF GRAIN.