THE GEORGIAN BAY WATERWAY PROJECT
An Address by MR. CHARLES HOPEWELL, Mayor of Ottawa, before the Empire Club of Canada, on December 7, 1911.
My. President and Gentlemen,-
I wish to thank the Empire Club very heartily for the honour extended me by inviting me to address you here today upon this great national question, the Georgian Bay Canal. I like the name of your Club. At least I like the name "Empire." It has a peculiar charm for me, I am free to admit, when it is coupled with that other word "British"-"British Empire." (Applause.)
I quite understand that an address in the middle of the day to a number of business men must of necessity be brief, and therefore I shall begin at once with the discussion (and it will be perhaps a very disconnected discussion) of this great question. I have brought a map along and have had it tacked up here, which--shows roughly the outline of the Georgian Bay Canal. Let me say one or two words to preface- what I may say a little later. In connection with this project, the advocates of the Georgian Bay Canal are in no way opposed to the deepening of the Welland Canal. This, however, is not our position, although I have heard it so stated over and over again. I wish to be frank with you. I believe that discussion in a frank, manly way just to procure investigation is one of the best things we can have for any great project. It cannot be discussed too much; we cannot know too much about it. Will you allow me to say this, that 'there are two things we need to bear in mind in this great Canada of ours today. One is, that we should not have in Canada today a patriotism of a sectional nature, a patriotism that is not broad enough and big enough to cover from the Atlantic to .the Pacific, and from our southern boundary to the north pole. The other is, that in the discussion of all our great questions we keep in mind its national rather than its sectional bearing upon' the country, for here in Canada we have (and I think we all believe this) the greatest country that the sun shines upon today. I remember an American friend of mine stating a little while ago, or at least I listened to him dilating upon the magnificence of the great republic to the south of us, and he dwelt upon her commerce, her development, her finances, her wealth, and her numbers, and I said to him, "My dear fellow, there is just one thing in which you excel Canada, I admit, and that is with regard to your northern boundary, for, while you have the greatest nation under the sun as your northern boundary, we must admit we only have the north pole." (Laughter.) This question, "the Georgian Bay Canal," is one of national importance, and should not therefore be discussed from a sectional viewpoint. On this map the outline of the Canal from Montreal to the Georgian Bay is shown, a distance of 282 miles shorter than the St. Lawrence route. The red line on this map shows, as you can see at a glance, the volume of trade from the west beginning, as indicated here, at Fort William and ending, as indicated on the red line, at Montreal. Perhaps, as your Chairman has indicated; the most importtant thing to discuss here today is the benefit to be derived from this great project by the city of Toronto. Let me say that any great project that will develop this newly discovered great northern Ontario with its ten million acres of clay belt, with its yet undiscovered sources of wealth, will do much more to increase the commerce and business of Toronto than the development of the carrying trade on the outskirts of the Pro, vince on the St. Lawrence river. Further, there are throughout this Georgian Bay Canal route enormous pulp lands, enormous water powers, iron ore, and many other products that will be developed, and will create by their development an enormous trade. In 1870 (I think it was), when the Commission was appointed for the deepening of the Welland Canal, conditions of that -lay were vastly different from what they are today, because at that time our great Northwest was practically undiscovered. The wheat fields of the West were not dreamed of, and the traffic that was then to be provided for was the trade of the Western States rather than that of Canada. But today, what do we find? That within our own borders we are rapidly developing a traffic ample to make business for both routes; and what we contend, those of us who favour strongly the construction of the Georgian Bay Canal, is, that the construction of this great highway shall not be delayed by the construction of any other waterway. We contend that a national highway within our own territory, over which the British flag and the British flag alone shall fly for all time, is preferable to an international waterway where the authority is divided. (Applause.) And further, that no amount of money spent upon this St. Lawrence route can or will develop any natural resources of Canada, and while it will provide for the great carrying trade from the West through to Montreal, it provides it by a route that is 282 miles longer, and that is not altogether within Canada. Further, it must not be forgotten that the deepening of the Welland Canal cannot benefit our Canadian ports, unless the whole route is deepened through to Montreal. It is abundantly clear that the deepening of the Welland Canal for the larger vessels of 22 feet draft would only transfer the point of competition farther east, but could not reach Montreal unless the 22 foot waterway was provided the whole distance through. I think I am not making statements that can be controverted, but simply stating facts which can be easily grasped and understood. Another thing: Mr. Wiseman, the great engineer, in his evidence before the Senate of Canada a year or so ago said that the deepening of the St. Lawrence waterway to 22 feet through to Montreal would cost at least double the amount of money needed to build the Georgian Bay Canal entirely. Now, the amount of trade, according to the Commissioner's report for the Port of Toronto for agog, if my memory serves me aright, that came through this Welland Canal, amounted to just three thingsabout 700,000 bushels of grain, 70,000 barrels of oil, and 29,000 tons of soft coal, and when I mention soft coal isn't it abundantly evident that in providing great channels through which the commerce of the east shall pass to the west, and the trade from the west shall pass to the east, that a return cargo is necessary to make them feasible and profitable. Nova Scotia coal would furnish one large item for a return cargo for grain-carrying boats and would result in the use very largely in the Province of Ontario of millions of tons each year of the product of our own. land and of our own eastern Maritime Provinces instead of as now bringing it from the United States. So you see why I want to emphasize the point that this is a project which needs to be discussed from the standpoint of its national bearing. Some months ago you will remember the farmers of the West visited Ottawa to interview Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the late Government, and I had the privilege on that occasion of welcoming those gentlemen at the opera house in Ottawa. It was a splendid gathering; they filled the house to overflowing; and I took occasion to say that morning, "Gentlemen, while you are here in the East I wish you would just take a little time to look into the merits of the Georgian Bay Canal project as it would affect you in the West, for I am quite sure that nothing will cheapen the carrying of your wheat to the Atlantic seaboard to the same extent as the building of the Georgian Bay waterway." Well, as one man they almost broke out against me and said
"We want to get the Hudson's Bay Railway. We want no Georgian Bay Canal." I did not argue With these gentlemen, but the incident showed clearly that the mind of a certain section was concentrated upon a single project without investigating the larger aspects of the whole question. I must hurry along, because, as I said at the outset, I cannot trespass upon your time to any very great length. ( A voice: Take your time.) Well, it is a question that really needs a great deal of time to consider and requires much discussion. I would not say that the choice lies between the Georgian Bay and the Wetland Canal routes, for we need both, but I would say that the American nation, under the Treaty of Washington, gets the full benefit for their trade through the Welland waterway without paying one cent for it, and that for every dollar expended on that route by Canada the benefits will be shared by our American cousins to the same extent as ourselves. One of their own eminent engineers of the State of New York, in making a report to the Senate of that State, declared that he "would recommend the forsaking of the 186 miles of the Erie Canal and the cutting of a piece that is only 38 miles through to Syracuse, down to Albany and thence to New York." He reported that there was no doubt that, if they provided a deep waterway from Lake Ontario to their own American seaboard, the Dominion of Canada would provide a deep waterway from there through to the head of the lakes, and, building upon this supposition and knowing the Treaty of Washington gave them the same rights in the Welland Canal as the Canadian traffic, of course they would benefit enormously at our expense. I am of the opinion, however, that the growing traffic and the needs of this great country, both to the north and to the west, are such as to warrant the undertaking immediately of the carrying out of both projects. (Hear, hear!) The reason I mention the Welland is to show, simply, that as a national waterway, as a national project, it has not the advantages of the Georgian Bay route. From a purely British-Canadian standpoint it is surely most desirable that we carry our own produce through our own territory, and thus reach the markets of the world under the British flag. (Applause.)
The water powers on the Georgian Bay route have been estimated by, I think, Mr. Tye, one of your own eminent engineers of the City of Toronto. He has said that the removal of the great industries of America from the valley of the Ohio to the valley of the Ottawa depends upon the enterprise of Canadians, because upon the 440 miles of the Georgian Bay Canal route at least 1,000,000 electric horsepower can be developed. Just think of it,-that, at $5 per horsepower, would almost pay the entire cost of maintenance and operation, together with interest on the total initial expenditure.
MR. MURRAY: Who would own that horse-power?
MAYOR HOPEWELL : Canada.
MR. MURRAY: Or private corporations?
MAYOR HOPEWELL I am not discussing private corporations owning this, but from the large standpoint, that this water power is in Canada and belongs to the people, and ought for all time to be held for the people, and I am assuming that this will be done. Then as to conservation of the flood waters, as pointed out by engineers (I am quoting authority), that the whole of the water in those stretches, including the River Ottawa on which the great City of Ottawa is built,-that city which is not second to Toronto or any other city in America, because it is the centre of the influences that are moulding this nation today-(applause), and I wish to say right here that whatever in the future be the ideals, be the character, be the aspirations of the people of Ottawa, the same will be the aspirations, the ideals and character of the people of this country. May I digress just a moment to say a word on this point, that I think the day has arrived when Canadians from, the Atlantic to the Pacific, and all over Canada, should take a deeper interest than they do in the building up of a capital worthy of the nation, not for any sectional reasons, but in order that we nay, like the American people, have a capital of which every Canadian is proud.
The average flow of the Ottawa River is about 22,000 cubic feet per second, and ought to be twice that amount, and would be if the water was conserved, for there is flood water enough if conserved, as it will be if this great work is carried out, to keep the water (during the dry season when the water is low) in the port of, Montreal and in the lower stretches of the St. Lawrence at least one foot higher than it can be kept today, and that as a national asset alone is worth millions to Canada. Some say there is not water enough up here, but the reports of the Government engineers say there is ample to supply all that will be needed. It is also stated that large vessels Of 500 or Goo feet would not use it. If you look at history I think you will find 'that that argument was used against the Manchester Canal, and the merchants of Manchester, who believed there was nothing in it, built a fleet of, I think, some. seventy vessels of their own and today they are carrying over 5,000,000 tons a year to all ports in the world, demonstrating that large vessels can and will use an inland waterway through a narrow channel. It has been stated. that the navigable season would be short, but there is not one foot of this great waterway any farther north than Sault Ste. Marie. I think anyone will admit that the port of Montreal would fix the date of the opening and closing of navigation on both routes. Therefore( this whole waterway would be open every day in the year that the port of Montreal is open; the navigable season upon this Georgian Bay route would be exactly the same as upon the St. Lawrence. That need not be argued.
Another point in favour of this route is that the traffic would be carried to Montreal without transhipment. I think it is clear that to remove the point on the Welland route further east where transhipment from the larger to the smaller bottoms would be made would not reduce the cost of transportation, for unless you carry freight all the way through from the lake ports to Montreal it seems to me nothing would be gained by removing the point of competition say as far east as Kingston. Why the fear should exist in the mind of any Canadian that 'if this Canal is built it will detract from the benefit to be, derived from the other scheme (or block it altogether) is something that I could never understand. Now, with reference to our great north country it is surely evident that the filling up of that country with people, arid the development of its trade, would mean a great increase in the volume of business to the City of Toronto. I do not know if you ever thought of this--that sentiment in the world is changing. There was a day when the man in business thought that the best policy for him was to keep as far away as possible from the other fellow in the same line of business and just do as little as he could to encourage or help his competitor to succeed. The idea prevailed that there was only one way in life to succeed, and that was over the bodies, reputations, and the financial ruin of his neighbour and competitor. I am glad that day is gone and people are beginning to realize more clearly that broader and better conception, viz.: that every man's success depends upon every other man's success and not upon his failure. (Applause.) I was in the little town of Berlin at the turning on of the HydroElectric power. We have only one furniture factory in Ottawa, but there are quite a number in that town, and I thought they would object to bringing in competition in their line. But I found that those men said, "Bring in more. furniture manufacturers if you can, and we will give them a bonus if we can." Why? Because they have come to recognize the fact that the more factories they have in the same town the better for all, because it is easier and better to meet the competition of your neighbour than to meet the same competition from some other place. And that is the fact in connection with this undertaking. Canada is big enough, and wealthy enough, and her finances today are in good enough shape to enable the country to carry out both great systems oft waterways to the sea. Then, no matter what the future may hold, the great national advantage, not only to Canada but to the Empire, of being able to take by an all-Canadian waterway to the Great Lakes Canadian or British ships, without the possibility of international complications, must be apparent to all. Let us be in a position to carry out our own will under the British flag. (Hear, hear!) There are many points upon which we might, speak. I saw an article in the Toronto Saturday Night some time ago to which I wish to refer, but before doing so permit me to say that I see a gentleman in this audience whom I did not expect to meet here. He is old enough to be my father, though he looks almost as young as I do, but when I was a little lad and he was being nominated for the legislature in the good old banner county of Carleton in the Province of Ontario, I remember he said to me, as we drove along on the way home, "If ever you get on your feet to speak to an audience,- always stop when they are listening." (Laughter.) I want to tell my good friend, ex-M.P.P.-G. W. Monk, that I have never forgotten his advice.
But this newspaper article said that Ontario had been for years sitting with her thumbs in her mouth on the doorstep letting the multitudes go by and that the cry of the West had been heard upon the back lines, they side lines, the villages, and in the cities calling for the sons and daughters of Ontario to go west and grow up with the country; while all the time to the north of us, in our own great province of Ontario, we had undeveloped, undreamed-of sources of wealth, and homes for the millions, and the makings of at least eighteen large counties, to be added to the .Province of Ontario by the development of that north country; and the call was that Ontario and the eastern provinces should wake up to that which they had within their own boundaries and turn their attention to the development of their own resources, and keep their sons and daughters to plant upon the soil of their own native provinces.
Now, gentlemen, if my coming here today has in any way stimulated interest and thought in this matter, that is all I expect, and I hope that you will study it, not from a narrow, sectional standpoint but from the standpoint of true Canadians, and if it merits your support, support it, because you know in this democratic country any great project that the government undertakes can only be undertaken when public opinion favours it, and that is as it should be. It is, therefore, the duty of those who believe in any great project, to educate as far as possible public opinion in favour of it so that it may be possible for a government to undertake it. Only $100,000,000 is the estimate, and let me say that no great national work has ever been undertaken where there is more accurate data available than there is in connection with this scheme. The Government of Canada has spent over three-quarters of a million of dollars to ascertain the facts and to get accurate information in connection with it, and this mass of reliable information is available to all.
You told me, Mr. Chairman, that you did not wish to keep this meeting longer than an hour, and I shall not trespass further on your time. I thank you for your patient hearing. (Applause.)