Mr. W. H. McMillan (Welland):
St. Lawrence Waterway turned. On that occasion the Hon. William Hamilton Merritt made a speech from which I should like to quote a few extracts. The ceremony took place near the little village of Allanburg, and two hundred persons were present. In his introduction, he said:
We are assembled here this day for the purpose of removing the first earth from a canal which will, by the shortest distance, connect the greatest extent of inland waters in the whole world; and it gives me peculiar pleasure to find that the line of this canal has been, located in this neighbourhood, the inhabitants of which have tinned out on all occasions with a zeal and alacrity worthy of the undertaking.
He expressed some of the difficulties with which they were faced in this way:
We were fully aware of the supposed magnitude of the undertaking; we were sensible that the personal interest of the capital and talent of the district was against us, and that we had no cooperation to expect from them, which the result fully proved. Every attempt has been made to get his project taken up by able hands, but not one individual of extensive capital in the province, or in any high official station, has given it the least assistance, except the Hon. John H. Dunn.
They had other difficulties. For instance, it was hard to get local subscribers to pay up their subscriptions, because it was rumoured that the people in Quebec who had subscribed had not paid up their subscriptions. He enumerated the benefits that would accrue in this way:
Instead of remaining in this dull, supine state, in which we have been for years past, we shall mingle in the bustle and active scenes of business; our commodities will be enhanced in value, and a general tide of prosperity will be witnessed on the whole line and surrounding country. In short, gentlemen, we are situated in a country favoured with every advantage, in soil, climate and situation; its resources remain only to be known to draw men of capital amongst us; and we trust, now that improvements have been commenced, it will increase, and that we may witness the same spirit of enterprise here that our neighbours, the Americans, possess in so eminent a degree.
Further on he says:
We remove the only natural barrier of importance
the falls of Niagara. The rapids between Prescott and Lachine command the next consideration.
Just as they do today. There is one more paragraph I should like to read which makes some comment on what the people thought of the government of the day:
When we contemplate the natural advantages we possess over the Americans in our water communication, it is astonishing to think of the apathy and indifference that have hitherto prevailed amongst us on this subject. If we inquire the cause, nine-tenths of us would blame the government.
Just as we do today.
There never was a more erroneous idea. We are ever inclined to move the burden from our own shoulders, and can only blame ourselves.
Then in one last sentence he says:
It is a rare occurrence that measures of great national improvement originate from the administration of the government.
Most of this work, Mr. Speaker, was done by hand. Diggers were hired at 63 cents a day, Upper and Lower Canada subscribed for stock, and by five years later-in January, 1829-boats were able to go from lake to lake. Since that time two canals have been built. One was built in 1870 and another was started just before the first war and was completed in the early thirties. I hope hon. members will forgive me for giving part of this historical background.
In those early days, when money was scarce, the people had vision and foresight. There was less dependence upon the government than there is today, and they tackled something more out of proportion to their means than we are asked to do today. It is true that the profit motive was present there, but in those early days the people of Upper and Lower Canada united their resources to build something that was for the good of Canada as a whole. The same spirit I would say is evident among members of this house. Practically all members are in favour of this project. Likewise, I think that we as members should support the government in projects in other parts of Canada if it can be proved that they have a good economic basis and can stand on their own feet.
I think the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) made a brilliant exposition of this subject in introducing the bill the other day. I would be interested to see figures showing prospective earnings of the navigational part of this project. I think we all should like to see such figures. In the light of present-day requirements of iron ore and of the movement of other commodities, we should probably be able to get figures as to the minimum tonnage that would be required in any one year to liquidate this amount of money that has to be spent.
I am convinced that we should construct steel mills to process our own iron ore in this country as much as possible, but I would be adverse to withholding any iron ore from our friends to the south in the United States. I think we should remember that our country was built up by iron and steel from their mills.
I do not agree with the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis) when he says that this resolution is only window dressing for the purpose of providing power for the province of Ontario. I am not conversant with the engineering part of the program, but I imagine that one project is a complement to the other. In any case, the province of Ontario will pay in full for its power, and I think it is time that we clear up this bottleneck of shipping in the St. Lawrence.
The minister said that money would need to be spent on the Welland ship canal for dredging, and that the locks were adequate. There are seven locks on the Welland ship canal. Locks Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 7 are single. Locks Nos. 4, 5 and 6 are twin; they are called twin flight locks. They are built that way because of the contour of the land which is the Niagara escarpment. These locks are built end to end, and they succeed each other much like the steps on a stair. Their total lift is 139i feet. A few hundred yards from the top of lock No. 6 is lock No. 7, where boats are lifted to the summit level which is practically the level of the water in lake Erie. At the present time when shipping is busy in the canal, lock No. 7 is a bottleneck. Certainly in years to come, if the canal gets busier, I would think that lock No. 7 would need to be a twin lock. There are many industries along the canal. It is the hope that the minister will give favourable consideration in regard to the naming of Port Colborne, which is situated at the lake Erie end of the canal, as a port of registry.
In conclusion, I would say that the people of Welland county are much in favour of this double project, because in times past we have been short of power, and it will not be long now before we shall need more power in that area where power is produced; we should also like to get an adequate gateway to the Atlantic.
Topic: II, 1951