Mr. ARTHUR LUCIEN BEAUBIEN (Pro-vencher) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, a friend of mine related to me that on one occasion, Monseigneur Laflamme, an eminent professor of Laval University, Quebec, opened his speech in the following manner:
I intend to show you that the laying of the transatlantic cable is possible,-and the task is greatly facilitated by the fact that it is already accomplished,-and in demonstrating the practicability of the scheme, I shall bring to bear evidence as satisfactory and convictions as strong as inspired me when I endeavoured to disprove its feasibility.
All great enterprises as regards development have had their opponents and critics. Competent engineers, renowned explorers, and after them distinguished men opposed, with the same spirit, with as convincing arguments and as pessimistic reports-MacLachlan type -the Canadian Pacific Railway project as those which are advanced, to-day, by the opponents of the Hudson Bay Railway.
It would be interesting to ask, to-day, for the production of these official documents containing adverse opinions in regard to the proposed construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. We would find in these documents reports of the nature of the MacLachlan one on the Hudson bay. We would wade through speeches of eminent men who have gone so far as to say that " the revenues of the Canadian Pacific would not even suffice to pay for the greasing of its wheels." In spite of this opposition, the Canadian Pacific Railway was built and now is an object of pride to Canada.
Supply-Hudson Bay Railway
I had prepared quite a number of notes so as to try and satisfy my friends from the East of the advantage which our country would derive from the construction of the Hudson Bay Railway and its practicability. However, this question having cropped up at such a late hour of the session, I find myself obliged to curtail my treatment of the subject and limit my observations to the general outline of the scheme.
Hudson bay is a vast inland sea, measuring 1,000 miles in length and varying in width between 400 and 600 miles. Its depth varies between 70 and 150 fathoms. It has an outlet on the Atlantic ocean through a strait measuring 35 miles at its narrowest width, the depth of which varies between 150 and 300 fathoms.
For more than two centuries, the vessels of the Hudson's Bay Company have navigated these waters bringing from Europe the necessary provisions for the inhabitants of the north and carrying back the inexhaustible treasures of furs which abound in the tributary country of the immense bay. More than eight hundred vessels have entered Hudson bay, and two only of this number have been wrecked. Is this not an eloquent refutation to the statement of those who contend that navigation on the strait and the bay is so dangerous that companies will refuse to insure the ships and the cargoes which they carry on this route? Is there another route in the world where, during the same lapse of time, we have had to register such a low percentage of loss?
The supremacy over this route of which depended the freedom of the fur trade gave rise to bloody battles and homeric combats between the two great races of this country. This is a further historical fact which tends to show that already at a time when navigation had not as an auxiliary, aeroplanes, hydroplanes, lighthouses, wireless telegraphy and other modern aids, navigators were unanimous in recognizing that this route was possible, useful and advantageous. With greater force must we admit that with the progress of nautical science, we are well advised to contend for the establishment of this trade route. Another argument in favour of this route is indeed to be found in the opposition which it encounters. Where does this opposition originate?
It has its source among those who benefit or at least expect to benefit later on from the carrying of western products. It comes from these people who transport our grain, our cattle and our other products; from
those who handle or get a living from this trade. It also arises from persons who plan new enterprises whose maintenance will depend on the traffic of our products. It is the loss of a present or future profit which stirs them to oppose the completion of the Hudson Bay railway. They have dragged in their wake those who, for trade or other reasons are subject to their influence. They contend that the bay and the strait are not navigable and that the grain will never be sent by that route. Why then do they fear competition? We are fully within our rights in doubting of their sincerity. Is there, indeed, one avowed opponent of the Hudson Bay railway who is not at the same time the advocate of another route? Has not even the change of mind of the engineer Mae-Lachlan been followed by a recommendation in favour of the St. Lawrence waterway scheme? Again do I state that the interests of parties in this opposition are clearly shown.
To pass a sound judgment on the chances of success of this route, recourse must be had to information supplied by explorers of this region. Such procedure was followed by the Upper House, in 1920, and the conclusion which was arrived at by the special committee of the Senate was favourable to the completion of the railway. The committee's inquiry covered a very long period, and herewith are some of its conclusions:
1. That the establishment of the Hudson Bay route is possible and wilt eventually become profitable.
2. That the navigable season, under the present conditions, extends over at least^ four months each year and that it may be considerably lengthened if we make greater use of aids to navigation.
Without further quoting from the report, I must state that the opponents to the scheme do not accept this latter conclusion. In support of their contention, they bring forth the evidence of certain navigators whose ships were held up by ice floes or storms in the strait. I do not wish to contradict the truth of their statements. But I do hold that their way of arguing does not rest on sound principles. They draw a general conclusion from a particular case. Were we to judge of the climate of Canada by the temperature which Ottawa has experienced of late, we would falsely conclude that summer does not exist in our country. Nothing, ten days ago, gave us an idea of the intense heat of these last days. This is an exceptional year, and it is only by looking over the temperatures of a given number of years that we can form an exact opinion.
This was the way that the length of the season of navigation in the Hudson bay and strait was determined. Those who have visited
Supply-Hudson Bay Railway
these places during many years agree in the statement that this season is about four months. According to an average established by observation covering a period of seventy years, from 1824 to 1894, there is open water from June 19, to November 8.
Here is what Dr. Bell, a famous explorer who has made a thorough study of the question, reports:
The Hudson bay is free from ice during the whole year. Navigation between the bay and the ocean can nn'y be carried on without interference during four or five months of the year. However, it is exactly at a time when the greatest part of the wheat can be transported to Europe.
I do not think that I am committing an indiscretion by repeating in substance what one day was told to me by Monseigneur Charlebois, bishop of Keewatin. His opinion rests on a long personal experience and on the reports of his missionaries. It is as follows:
There exists no doubt that the water route of the Hudson bay and strait is practicable, and it will to a great extent help toward tihe development of our agricultural and mining resources; it will facilitate the development of our fineries and be of great advantage to our grain growers and cattle breeders.
If I had the time, I could cite numerous extracts and invoke the evidence of Dr. Low, Mr. O'Sullivan, Capt. Anderson, Capt Webb, Mr. Harling, Mr. Herbert Saunders, Capt. Wakeham, Capt. Bartlett, Capt. Kean. Mr. Stefansson, Capt. Freakley, the Rev. W. G. Walton, Corporal Nain, Mr. J. W. Tyrrell, Capt. Bernier and many others whose opinions are certainly worth that of Mr. Mac-Lachlan, who never ventured any further than Churchill, and who had a lonesome sojourn of a few years at Port Nelson. All these gentlemen are acquainted with the conditions of the Hudson bay and strait. Some of them have navigated these waters or lived there for the last thirty years. 'Others have made numerous trips, the country thereby profiting by the knowledge and experience and they, themselves, winning world renown.
It is the reports of these famous and earnest men that have decided our statesmen to undertake the establishment of the Hudson bay trade route. Shall the labours of these men be in vain? Shall the explorations of our hardy navigators remain without practical results?
The railway is almost completed to Port Nelson. The grading is finished, and all that remains to be done is the laying of the rails and the ballasting of the road over a distance .
of about one hundred miles. Are we going to lose the money already spent? If my information is correct, an additional expenditure of some $20,000,000 would be sufficient to open up this commercial market of the West. The benefits derived by the western population during a year only would cover the cost of all that remains to be expended.
Transportation of grain by way of Hudson bay woud be advantageous. That is evident, for the rates on freight are much lower than those of railways and the distance by railway to the shipping port on the Hudson bay would be much shorter than the present distance. Moreover, the transportation of cattle would be benefited in a still larger degree. It is a known fact, to-day, that cattle transported by railway lose much weight, while cattle transported by ^hip fatten and gain in weight.
Mr. Stefansson, whose name is well known suggests that we should raise reindeers in what explorers have designated wrongly as barren lands, since there grows an abundance ot grass essentially adapted to the feeding of cattle. The reindeer is one of the most useful animals. Man feeds on its flesh and milk, he clothes himself with its skin and hide, he utilizes its antlers and tendons. Man also makes use of the reindeer as a draught-animal. This suggestion alone of Mr. Stefansson, if it contributed to stock with reindeers these barren lands where they would furnish their quota of wealth, would be sufficient to immortalize its author.
The completion of the Hudson Bay railway would give a new start to the development of the mines in that region. The mineral deposits which are found in those parts are probably the richest and the most extensive in the country. We first come across, in the Hudson bay, the coal mines of the Belcher islands, and iron deposits which are responsible for the deviation of the magnetic needle. To the east of the bay, in Ungava, silver ore is found, and to the north of the Pas, a mineral belt of untold richness comprising, gold, platinum, copper, silver, molybdenite, iron and lead. To the west near Schiste lake, lies the greatest mass of copper of the whole world: the Flin-Flon mine, the
development of which has been retarded owing to the want of communications.
Then we have, in the centre, the new gold fields of Elbow lake which are at present attracting from all corners of the earth those who have the thirst of gold. The development initiated on the Webb, Hammerston and Murray properties have recently uncovered mineralized masses of a great richness, and only a few days ago platinum was dis-
Supply-Hudson Bay Railway
covered. More to the east at the small and large Herb lakes, are to be found the Bingo and Rex gold mines which have already given fair profits and there are other valuable properties; then, further towards the east are to be found silver, lead, molybdenite and iron deposits. After ail this vast mining region only awaits better railway communication to develop and it promises to be for Canada a source of considerable revenue. One of our colleagues, the hon. member for Dauphin (Mr. Ward) assured me of late that, for the last two years, the engineers in the employ of the Canadian Pacific Railway were going over that region with the evident intention of linking the copper mines of Schiste lake and the gold mines of Elbow lake with some point on their main line.
The establishment of important fisheries would result from the completion of this railway line. Travellers and people who inhabit the country tell us that fish abound in the lakes and rivers tributary to the bay and strait, and also in these latter. Their flesh is excellent, and the establishing of the ocean route would ensure its transportation to the United States and the European markets. Briefly, the wealth of those regions is inexhaustible, and only awaits the completion of this railway to pass into the hands of the hardy worker. The progress of half the country which would necessarily follow on the establishment of this route would in no way hinder the progress of the east, and I should have liked to prove it, but this proof has already been given, and I wish to be as brief as possible.
It was often stated: What would become of the ships remaining idle during seven or eight months of the year? What would become of their crew? .
Allow me to make a suggestion. Would it not be possible to rent them under contract to a government of a country whose products are exported during our winter? I wish the government would look into this matter. There would lie, I think, the answer to the most serious objection that has been brought to bear against the establishment of this water route. It is true that even without such a
contract, the establishment of this route would
still be desirable, seeing that most of the transportation companies in Canada draw at least two-thirds of their revenue during the period of shipment of grain from the west, however, a treaty concluded with a foreign country in order to keep our ships in operation during our winter, would be, I think, to the benefit of our country, and also to the advantage of the country with which the treaty would be concluded.
Canada must be united not only by the love of one's country, the same institutions and the same flag, but also and especially by the spirit of justice, in the equal treatment of all its citizens. The hardships which prevail in the West have their sad sequel in the East. Let us call a halt to our fratricide interprovincial strife and let us labour for the happiness of all. Shall the eastern provinces deny to their three western sisters these $20,000,000 so necessary to the progress and development of the latter. I appeal to this great race which inhabit the banks of the St. Lawrence and which has left throughout the centuries, as far back as Clovis, an epopee filled with heroic and generous deeds;
I appeal to my compatriots of Ontario, descendants of those people who through their courage and resourcefulness have carried to the extreme ends of the globe the freedom of trade, and I beg of them: Pray! do not sacrifice to the cupidity of one or more syndicates of profiteers, the interest, the happiness, the prosperity, and I shall add further, the rights of your western fellow citizens. For we are entitled as well as other Canadians to state aid toward developing our natural resources, our unexploited inheritance, our inexhaustible national wealth, awaiting in the bowels of the earth for laborious hands to bring them to light. We have a right to claim the utilization of the natural outlets of the country for our products, routes which Providence seems to have placed there for us, by carving with its creative hand the vast coasts of the Hudson sea.
Topic: SUPPLY-HUDSON BAY RAILWAY