LACHANCE, Arthur, K.C., LL.B.

Personal Data

Quebec-Centre (Quebec)
Birth Date
June 22, 1868
Deceased Date
March 1, 1945
crown attorney, crown prosecutor, journalist, lawyer

Parliamentary Career

January 19, 1905 - September 17, 1908
  Quebec-Centre (Quebec)
October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
  Quebec-Centre (Quebec)
September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
  Quebec-Centre (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 5 of 10)

March 31, 1915

Mr. LACHANCE (Translation):

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March 31, 1915

Mr. LACHANCE (Translation):

I beg the Postmaster General's pardon. I am sure of what I say because in the month of October, I happened to go several times in that locality and the work had been stopped. Resides I lately read in a Quebec paper, iLe Soieil or L'Evenemmt, but I rather think it was in Le Solerl although I am not positive about- it, that the work was stopped .since the beginning of August.

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March 31, 1915

Mr. LACHANCE (Translation):

Mr. Chairman, just before six o'clock, when you left the chair, I was replying to the claim of the Minister of Railways that the Transcontinental Railway was now ready to start operations, even at Quebec, and that there were in that city sufficient facilities to meet the requirements of both the passenger and freight traffics. I have already quoted from correspondence between the ministers and the city authorities, to prove that such a claim is without foundation; that there are at present at Quebec neither docks, nor elevators that could be made use of by the Transcontinental Railway and that the Minister of Railways has refused to carry on these works but has suggested that it was for the Harbour Commission to see to

them. .

As a matit-er of fact, the Board of Iradc appealed to the Harbour commission. Alas, a new deception awaited them, as will be seen 'by the two following letters, one from Mr. Levasseur, secretary of the Board of Trade, to Mr. Renault, the other from Mr. Renault to Mr. Levasseur:

Quebec, September 21, 1914.

Mr. Raoul Renault,

Secretary-Treasurer of the

Harbour Commission.

Dear Sir:

On the lltli of August last, we sent to Hon. Mr. Pelletier, the representative of the Quebec district in the Dominion Government, the enclosed letter. X have instructions from the board of directors to communicate to you a copy of this letter, as well as the answers of the Hon. Mr. Pelletier and of the Minister of Railways and Canals.

You will notice that the Minister of Railways and Canals suggests that the works at Lamp-son's cove, etc., for the Transcontinental Railway terminals are under the direct control of the Quebec Harbour Commission.

M. T. LeVasseur,


Quebec, September 26, 1914.

M. T. LeVasseur, Esq.,


Board of Trade,


I have the honour to acknowledge your letter of the 21st inst. enclosing a letter to Hon. L. P. Pelletier regarding the work which the Harbour Commissioners are now carrying on at Lamp-son's cove.

In reply, I have instructions to inform you that the improvements now being effected at

Lampson's cove are destined only to provide a landing for the railway ferry-boat.

Yours very sincerely,

Raoul Renault,


Quebec Harbour Commission.

So a peculiar situation arises; nobody is willing to take charge of the most indispensable part of the terminals, namely the docks and elevators. The Government do not concern themselves about it; the Harbour Commission will not have anything to do with it, neither will the Minister of Railways.

It would be difficult to find in the past, under any of the administrations, a similar chaos in an undertaking of -such importance: no controlling head, no acting body, no definite plan, no responsible authority over the actions of the parties interested; one pulls this way, another that way, to suit personal or political interests.

And what about the famous Union station at the Palace? To reach it a tunnel had been proposed; has the work been started? The hon. member for 'South Renfrew (Mr. Graham) has asked the following question:

1. Has the work been started on the proposed tunnel in connection with the maritime station of the National Transcontinental at Quebec?

2. If so, what amount has been expended on the work up to December 31, 1914?

The hon. Minister of Railways and Canals answered -as follows:

1. Yes.

2. $372,514.86 have been expended by the land commissioners and $154,293.83 by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company on the right of way and buildings.

What relation the purchase of that land and the construction of those roads and buildings can have to the tunnelling of the cliff from Sillery to St. Malo, is not easy to isee. Then, what generosity has prompted the idea of connecting with the construction of that tunnel the Canadian Pacific Railway? But what can be clearly seen is that the tunnel is not under way, that many .years will pass and many millions will be spent before it is completed, if ever the scheme should .materialize; and meanwhile the Transcontinental will be without approaches to the station which is planned for it and without any accommodation for the handling of its freight. _

To be just, I must ,say that last spring, the Government started work on the foundations of a freight station at Champlain market; but these foundations were barely out of the ground when the work was stopped about the end of July.

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March 31, 1915

Mr. ARTHUR LACHANCE (Quebec Centre) (Translation):

Mr. Chairman, the resolution before the House gives authority to the Government to lease or otherwise acquire that part of the Grand Trunk Pacific railway known as Lake Superior Division, between Lake Superior Junction and Fort William, in Ontario, the power to be exercised in case the company refuse to operate the Transcontinental. The contract made in 1903 between the late Government and the company provides that the company has to take over the railway only after its completion. Now, the road is not yet completed according to the terms of the contract, and that is one of the reasons given in the correspondence brought down before the House by the Minister of Railways why the company is withholding its signature to the lease recently submitted to it by .the Government. Among other incomplete works on the road, the company mentions the whole of the work on the terminals in Quebec city and harbour. I wish to make a few remarks on this last point. I regret to say that the company seems to have taken a correct stand. Not only the terminals 'are not completed, but I should even ibe justified in stating that they are barely started. As a matter of fact, from the information given the House during this session, we find that during the year, as well as during the past three years, no progress has been made in the construction of these terminals in Quebec city and harbour, and that-the only activity manifested by the Government since it is in power has tended to destroy rather than build.

I'ts indifference and apathy can neither be explained nor condoned.

A few words on the conditions that existed in 1911. The railway had been built up to the city; the foundations had been started for a station at Champlain market to cost $1,000,000. Many millions of dollars had been voted to construct deep water wharves 1,800 feet in length in the region of Cape Diamond, the terre-plein that would foe left to be used for yards, sidings, freight-shed and elevator sites. The interested parties, the city of Quebec, the Transcontinental Railway Commission, the Grand Trunk Pacific Company and the Government, had acted jointly to devise this whole scheme that was to take two years to complete, after which time the Transcontinental would itself be ready to operate its trains from the Atlantic to the Pacific. But as 'soon as the Borden Government came into power, it upset all these arrangements which were both advantageous and logical. They stopped the work between Quebec and Cup Rouge, and in the meantime there has been nothing doing in that region; between Cochrane and Quebec as well everything moves at a snail's pace. For constructing 35 miles of grading and 88 miles of track, which remained to be done in that section in November, 1912, and which required at most a few months, a whole year was spent, the road having been completed only in November, 1913. That premeditated delay was doubtless intended to facilitate the cogitations of the new president of the Transcontinental Railway Commission, Major Leonard, on the problems of slopes and curves; but we realize how as a result of those cogitations the traction power from Cochrane to Quebec and even to Moncton, was impaired. At the beginning of the undertaking in 1905, the engineers had determined the grades over the whole line from the Atlantic to the Pacific, as follows: stapes runnings east, four-tenths of one per cent or 21 feet per mile; slopes running west, five-tenths of one per cent or 26 feet per mile, then later six-tenths of one per cent or 31 feet per mile. It must, however, be stated that slopes were to be avoided except where it would be impossible to obtain an absolute level. By means of these very gradual slopes, a locomotive could pull double the weight that it could draw on any other road now in operation in this country. Now, between Cochrane and Quebec, Mr. Leonard has increased the slopes from 21 feet to 100 feet per mile of road; with the necessary result that a locomotive, having pulled as long a train as its power would allow from Prince Rupert to Cochrane.

*would not (be able to proceed to Quebec without dividing the train into two sections. The objectionable character of such a condition of things need not be pointed out. The efficiency of the road' was impaired without any justification.

But as regards Quebec itself and the con-struetdon of the terminals, I claim that since October, 1911, the Government's action has been ineffective, and at times even destructive. What about the shops that were to be put up at Cap Rouge for the *building and repair of cars? The Government is building them at St. Malo, with only half the capacity first decided on, -and only for repairs. The Quebec Board of Trade has entered a protest against these changes in its report for 1914. At page 124 may be found a letter from its president, Mr.. Joseph Picard, dated the 5th of December, 1914, to Hon. Thomas Chase Casgrain, the new Postmaster General, which reads partly thus:-

The construction of. the Transcontinental Railway car shops at St. Malo, is progressing satisfactorily; but those car works have no shops for the construction of cars, as were to have the carworks which had been planned at' first for Cap Rouge. We were given the assurance that this omission would be rectified, because Mr. Chamberlin has stated that the Transcontinental will require for car construction as extensive facilities as any other transcontinental system.

We ourselves have also during last session entered protests, but in vain, and you will find that the board1 -of trade's representations will likewise have no practical results.

Then, to connect these carworks with, the railway, the Government had to purchase from the Great Northern Railway five miles of line at -a cost of $175,000 to w-hi-ch three *jniles had to be added at a cost of ten to twelve thousand dollars. And -all that expenditure was made when -it -would have been so simple and logical to build them at Cap Rouge where they would have been in cloiS-e, touch with th-e m-ain road and where must pass all the rolling material of the Transcontinental from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

As to the terminals themselves, namely the stations, yards, freight sheds, elevators, they were to be located in- the vicinity of Champlain market and Cape Diamond. Thus located close to the deep water wharves, they would have been part of the Transcontinental system and intended first of 'all for its own -service and under its direct contr-ol. Now -the Government want them built in the valley -of the river St. Charles, on the property of the Canadian 115J

Pacific Railway Company, where, in all likelihood, they will be of service to 'and under the control of that company especially. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company had -agreed' to the first plans; and now refuses to accept the others because, if those plans were carried' out, the company would -be dependent on the Canadian Pacific Rail-way. Notwithstanding these objections, the Government persists in its new proposals; 'but the consent of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway is a necessary condition under the contract made in 1903 between it and the late government. However it may be, the. consent or refusal of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway to the proposed changes do not in any way justify the Government's apathy for more than three years.

Yet, since October 1911, the citizens of the city of Quebec, particularly through their board of trade, have constantly urged the construction of those terminals; their solicitations were never more pressing and frequent than during 1914, hut were 'always fruitless. Thus- at page 69 of the annual report, I find the following to have taken place at a meeting of the board of directors held on the 2nd of June:

His Honour Mayor Drouin, being invited to report on his recent interview with the members or the Government at Ottawa respecting the work on the Transcontinental, complied willingly. The board was not satisfied with the explanations given by the members of the Dominion Government concerning the delay in the construction of the terminals of the Transcontinental at Quebec, particularly of the freight sheds or stations. It was then decided to send a deputation to Ottawa, and a telegram was sent immediately to the representative of the Quebec district in the Dominion cabinet, Hon.

L. P. Pelletier, asking him to name a day and hour for an interview with the deputation.

As I turn over tbe leaves, I find ia minute at page 70 which is an answer to the statement of the minister of Railw-ays that the terminal facilities of th-e Canadian Pacific * Railway at Quebec were -sufficient for the traffic on the Transcontinental. H-ere is the note:

On the 9th of June, the board sent to the Hon. I,. P. Pelletier a letter informing him that .the elevator built on the Louise jetty by the Harbour Commissioners will scarcely be of any use for the local trade, because besides the sum of $2 per car charged by the Harbour Commission for the use of the sidings on the Louise jetty, the Canadian Pacific Railway charges the excessive rate of 2J cents per hundred pounds for the use by the same cars of its own sidings, or rather for the use a few hundred feet in length, that is $15 for every car of 40,000 pounds capacity; there is moreover $1 per car to be paid at the elevator for the loading of each car, which means the excessive total charge of $18 per car.


And that is the elevator which we are asked to believe would according to the new government scheme satisfy for the requirements of the traffic on the Transcontinental, when this very elevator, under its present management and on account of the railways interested in it, can hardly handle the local trade.

To further show the groundlessness of the statement made by the Minister of Kail-ways regarding Quebec's ability .to cope with the handling of the freight at that place, I again quote from the report, at page 75, of a meeting of the board of directors held on the 12th of June, 1914:

Mr. Jean Guay points out the delay in the construction at Quebec of the terminals for the Transcontinental Railway. By means of small topographical charts which he distributes among the directors, he shows that there is no general plan of the whole works, that no provision has been made either by means of a tunnel or otherwise for connecting the car works at St. Malo with the Transcontinental Railway; that the new grain elevator of the Harbour Commission could hardly he utilized by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. He adds that a representative delegation should go to Ottawa and interview the Government on this subject, so that precise information may be obtained that could then be communicated to the members of the Board of Trade at a special general meeting that could be held in ten days or so.

The Chairman points out that it is hardly possible to obtain in just- a few days precise information and that it would he better to adjourn sine die or that meeting whenever it will be necessary.

So, here we are in June, 1914, after three years during /which the Government have had* under consideration this question of terminals, yet the president of the Board of Trade has yet been unable to obtain precise information. Besides, even we members of this House have never been able to get anything definite in the way of information.

About that time, the Government seems to have been somewhat inclined' to revert to the original scheme of elevators and deep water docks at Cape Diamond. Thus, at page 91 of the report, there may the seen a latter, dated the 2nd of July, 1914, written by the president to Hon. L. P. Pelletier, then Poistmaster General:

Dear Sir,

I have communicated to the council of the Board of Trade the result of our recent visit to the terminals which are to be constructed at Quebec for the handling of the freight on the Transcontinental and also your decision to press the construction of the docks and of an elevator at Lampson's cove.

The directors wish me to convey to you their thanks and congratulations for this decision and their hope that these works will be pushed rapidly to completion so that Quebec may be able to handle the grain from the Northwest

as soon as the Transcontinental begins to remove it to the sea.


We are informed that the contractor intends to construct the 2,000 feet docks which you have authorized, from Lampson's cove in a westerly direction, in the shape of a simple wharf or protecting wall, fronting on the river in a straight line. A wharf of that kind would accommodate only three large vessels and it would become necessary to construct very wide and expensive galleries leading from the elevators ; while if docks were constructed on the same plan as those of Halifax, St. John, Morn treat and New York, there would be five times times the accommodation for an equal frontage.

On the 11th of August, the president writes another letter giving particulars about the docks at Halifax.

But that scheme of docks >and elevators is entering a new phase. I have here two *letters explaining the reasons of its failure:

Ottawa, August 15, 1914.

Mr. Jos. Picard,

President of the Board of Trade,


Dear Sir:

In further reference to your letter of the 11th inst., I beg to forward you a copy of the reply received by me from Hon. Mr. Cochrane, relating to the docks intended to afford terminal facilities for the handling of freight on the Transcontinental at Quebec.

Yours very sincerely, .

(Signed) Louis P. Pelletier.

Ottawa, August 14, 1914.

Hon. L. P. Pelletier,

Postmaster General,


Dear Mr. Pelletier:

I beg to acknowledge your letter of the 13th inst. with enclosed a copy of a letter from Mr. Jos. Picard, president of the Quebec Board of Trade, and in reply to state that the harbour at Halifax is under the control of the Intercolonial Railway, and so under the direct control of my department, while the harbour at Quebec is under the control of the Harbour Commissioners, with whom I have nothing to do.

Yours very sincerely,

(Signed) P. Cochrane.

The stand thus taken by the Minister of Railways seems to me unwarranted. He slates: I am concerned with the docks in Halifax baribour, because that harbour is under the management of the Intercolonial the latter being under the control of my department. But the Transcontinental is also under the control of his department, because, for the last two years, the minister has taken over the powers of the Transcontinental Railway Commission. The original plans also provided for the construction of those docks by the Transcontinental Railway Commission. Moreover the Government 'has constructed the docks at Levis and never claimed that it was for the Quebec harbour commission to see to that work.

The answer of the minister therefore merely evades the question, and1 justifies our suspicions that the Government is ill-disposed towards the Quebec terminals.

At six o'clock, the committee took recess.

The committee resumed at eight o'clock.

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March 31, 1915

Mr. LACHANCE (Translation):


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