- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 16 Nov 1910, p. 89-100
- Casgrain, Senator J.P.B., Speaker
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- A lesson from history: "All nations that have become great have realized the paramount importance of easy means of communications." England's example. Uniting the various provinces of our magnificent Dominion by perfecting our system of inter-communication. Reference to Major Stephens' address on waterways. Remarks with regard to the widening and deepening of the Welland Canal. The remainder of the address deals with railways, and is offered under the following headings: A Tribute to the Grand Trunk; Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann's Wonderful Work; The Canadian Pacific Railway; Saving British Columbia to Canada; C.P.R. no Longer a Modern Road; Change in Principles of Locating Railways; Steep Gradients in the Rockies; Altitude of C.P.R. Summit; The Grand Trunk Pacific; Distances of the G.T.P.; Gradients on the G.T.P. and Transcontinental; Altitude of the Summit on the G.T.P.; Coal and Water Power; Farming Lands; Superiority of Transcontinental Over Other Routes; Mr. Charlton's Prophecy; 50,000 Bushels of Grain Drawn by One Locomotive; 7,000 Feet of Adverse Grades between Pacific and Atlantic; Cheap Transportation an Essential Factor for Prosperity; Example of the United States; Nearly One-Half the Railway Mileage of the World in the United States; Railways Unable to Cope with Trade of the United States; Mr. James J. Hill's Declaration; An Impracticable Suggestion; Mr. Hill's Waterway Scheme; An Interview with President Roosevelt; The Hudson's Bay Route; Icebergs in the Straits; Perilous Navigation; The Voyages of the "Neptune"; A Specially Built Ship; Not a Route for Commerce; Access to Bay by Rail; A French Writer's Views; England's Foresight; Canada's Service to the Empire. The strategical importance of these transcontinental lines; their inestimable value to Great Britain in the event of complications in the Pacific, or of trouble in India.
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- 16 Nov 1910
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- THE PROBLEMS OF TRANSPORTATION IN CANADA.
An Address delivered by Senator J. P. B. Casgrain, C.E., before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto, on Nov. 16th, 1910.
Mr. President and Gentlemen
A lesson from history:--All nations that have become great have realized the paramount importance of easy means of communications.
The famous Roman roads, over which the edicts of the mighty Imperial Senate were carried to the uttermost parts of Europe and Asia, still bear witness to the greatness of the Roman Empire. And what Rome accomplished two thousand years ago, England is, at this very day, doing in India, in Nigeria and in East Africa, where a celebrated railway engineer has recently been appointed Governor-I refer to my distinguished compatriot, Sir Percy Girouard--for the express purpose of developing that great country by means of railways.
England's Example.--I am sure that you will agree with me, that we, in Canada, cannot do better than follow England's example in that respect. Indeed, I cannot conceive a more efficacious way of uniting more closely the various provinces of our magnificent Dominion than by perfecting our system of inter-communication. Nor could we leave a more valuable legacy to our children than these great transportation lines whose far-reaching importance not only to Canada, but to the whole Empire, can not be over-estimated.
I need hardly apologize, therefore, for having selected this subject for my address today.
Major Stephens' Address on "Waterways."--I understand that you recently had the privilege of listening to a very instructive address on our "Waterways," by my friend, Major Stephens, President of the Montreal Harbour Board. I know how much thought and study he has given to this subject and how completely he has mastered it and, therefore, do not propose to deal with it today, but will confine my remarks to railways. I will only mention with regard to -the widening and deepening of the Welland Canal, that if it should be decided to deepen that canal to a depth of 20 feet, the other canals should, likewise, be deepened and widened as far as the ocean port of Montreal. It would obviously be a very shortsighted policy to deepen one canal and leave the others as they are, for just as the strength of a chain depends on the resistance of its weakest link, so the measure of usefulness of a canal or of a series of canals may be gauged by the draft at the shallowest point.
A Tribute to the Grand Trunk.-Now, to come to my subject, let me preface my remarks by saying a word for the old Grand Trunk. It has always seemed to me that hardly enough credit has been given to the pioneers of that great undertaking, some of whom were officers of the Royal Engineers then stationed in Canada, the (first President being Sir John Tyler, a Captain in that distinguished Corps.
It is well to remember that when the Grand Trunk ryas commenced, railway construction was still in its infancy. The high explosives and powerful mechanical appliances that now so greatly facilitate excavation work, had not yet come into use and moreover the transport difficulties, owing to the entire absence of railways, were very great, and rendered the task of the engineers even more difficult than it is today.
Great credit is therefore due to them for having successfully overcome all these obstacles and also for having induced the British investor to furnish the capital necessary for the construction of the Grand Trunk.
It has been in operation for so many years that one is perhaps apt to forget what a prominent part it has played in the development of Eastern Canada, how many flourishing centres it has created in this Province and how much it has done for this beautiful city.
Now, Gentlemen, what the Grand Trunk has done for Southern Ontario, the Grand Trunk Pacific will accomplish for 'Northern Ontario and the West, as we shall see presently if the brief time at my disposal will allow. Messrs, Mackenzie and Mann's Wonderful Work.But first, let me congratulate Toronto on possessing two such enterprising citizens as Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann, whose marvellous success as railway builders is, I believe, without a parallel in the werld. It was stated at a banquet given four years ago, in honour of Mr. Mackenzie, that 10 years before, there was no Canadian Northern Railway, while on that day, it could boast of having 3,850 miles in operation.
Do you realize, Gentlemen, that this means that, during 10 years, Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann have not only built, but equipped one mile of railway every day. No one better than an engineer can appreciate the extraordinary skill and administrative ability required to accomplish such a gigantic undertaking and I am proud, and we have all reason to be proud, that Canada has been the scene of this great enterprise.
The Canadian Pacific Railway.--The Grand Trunk was followed by the Canadian Pacific Railway. I firmly believe that nothing has done more to advertise Canada or contributed more powerfully to create that splendid era of prosperity which we now enjoy, than the construction of the C.P.R. and its administration by men of such extraordinary ability as Sir William Van Horne and Sir Thomas Shaughnessy.
Saving British Columbia to Canada.--Not only has the C.P.R. benefited Quebec and Ontario, it has also virtually created Manitoba, has brought Saskatchewan and Alberta into existence and has saved British Columbia from becoming part and parcel of the United States. That last statement may be rather a surprise to some present; it came to my knowledge last August, when I was in Victoria and had the good fortune to meet the Hon. Mr. Beaven, who was for some years Prime Minister of British Columbia. He told me that, had it not been for the construction of the C.P.R., the whole of the Pacific coast from Mexico to Alaska would have become United States territory. Delegates, who were in favour of joining the United States, came to Ottawa and asked for the construction of a waggon road to British Columbia. They knew full well that such a concession would be unacceptable to the province and hoped that it would lead to annexation. But that farseeing old statesmen, Sir John A. Macdonald was too shrewd for them. "A waggon road," said he. "Why! I'll build you a railroad."
C.P.R. no Longer a Modern Road.--The Canadian Pacific, however, is no longer a modern road. Thirtyfive years have elapsed since the first sod was turned on the banks of the Kaministiquia River. I remember the occasion very well, for I was one of the engineers. The principles which govern the location of railways have since undergone a complete change.
In those early days, the primary consideration was the cost of constructing the line, while the subsequent cost of operating it was hardly considered. Hence it was that engineers endeavoured to follow the surface of the ground as much as possible and made use of sharp curves and very steep gradients to avoid deep cuts and large fills.
Change in Principles of Locating Railways.--But with increased experience came knowledge, and today the predominant consideration, and rightly so, in the location of a railroad, is the cost of operation.
It was this consideration that led the C.P.R. to rebuild their line from Port Arthur to Winnipeg and from Winnipeg to Calgary. The old road may be still seen as one travels in the train, sometimes on one side of the line and sometimes on the other.
Steep Gradients in the Rockies.--But, unfortunately, the sections of the road where the heaviest gradients are met with, namely, over the Rockies and the Selkirks, and along the north shore of Lake Superior, and from North Bay to Lake Superior, cannot be re-built. Thus, near Field, B.C., there was a grade of 4.4, equivalent to 220 feet to the mile, and it required several locomotives to push up a small freight train and three or four for an ordinary passenger train.
By a very clever piece of engineering, viz., a double spiral tunnel, this grade has now been reduced to 2.2, or 116 feet to the mile. It is still a very steep grade, but there was no object in further reducing it, as equally steep grades are met with elsewhere on the C.P.R. and especially in the Selkirks.
Altitude of C.P.R. Summit.--Remember, that the C.P.R. crosses the Rockies at a height of 5,320 feet above sea-level and that after climbing over this summit, it descends to 2,500 feet to cross the Columbia River and then rises again to 4,361 feet to get over the Selkirks.
The Grand Trunk Pacific.--Let me say at once that the Grand Trunk Pacific is being built according to a higher standard than any road of the same length has been built by in any part of the world. This is not an exaggerated statement, for, according to the reports of the best engineers, it is an absolute fact that no road of equal length has ever been constructed with such easy gradients and flat curves.
Distances of the G.T.P.--I will speak about the gradients, presently, but first, let me show you how much nearer Quebec will become to Winnipeg by the new route. The distance from Quebec to Winnipeg by the C.P.R. is 1,585 miles, by the Transcontinental 1,350 miles, i.e., 235 miles less. Now, from Montreal to Winnipeg by the C.P.R. the distance is 1,422 miles, so that Quebec will thus actually become 70 miles nearer to Winnipeg than Montreal is today by the Canadian Pacific Ry.
Again, from Cochrane junction, where the Temiskaming Northern Ontario Ry. joins the Transcontinental, the distance to Toronto or Quebec is practically the same. The mileage, therefore, from Toronto or Quebec to Winnipeg by the Transcontinental will be about equal.
Gradients on the G.T.P. and Transcontinental.--But far the most important feature of the Transcontinental is the extraordinary easiness of its gradients.
Cochrane junction, as you probably know, is situated on a magnificent tableland or plateau at an elevation of some 1,100 to 1,200 feet above sea level. This great tableland, which gradually descends to 800 feet at Winnipeg, extends over an area of about 200 miles in Quebec and some 400 miles in Ontario and, over this immense tract of country, the Transcontinental scarcely encounters any gradients.
The soil is a rich clay, 15 to 20 feet in depth and as fertile as Manitoba, where everyone knows good wheat can be grown.
From Winnipeg, to Edmonton, a distance of 783 miles, and from Edmonton to Wolfe River 125 miles, the road is very fine and goes over the prairie with very easy grades and very few curves.
From Wolfe River, where the prairie ends, the so-called Mountain Section commences. It scarcely deserves its name, however, for it contains no gradients steeper than 6-10 of one percent, that is 32 feet to the mile, thus enabling one locomotive to pull the heaviest train to the summit.
The summit is reached with this easy gradient at an elevation of 3,708 feet.
Altitude of the Summit on the G.T.P.--How low the altitude of this summit is, may be realized when one considers that it is only 280 feet higher than the city of Calgary, which, as you know, is on the prairie.
After the summit is crossed, the gradients continue to be easy for 27 miles, and then comes 21 miles with a grade of one per cent. along the banks of the Fraser River.
Coal and Water Power.--I may mention, "en passant," that the best of coal is being mined on both sides of the line for miles and that there is also a splendid water power here which could be utilized at very little expense to electrify this part of the road.
Farming Lands.-From the Fraser River to Fort George, there is excellent farming land, which was practically all taken up before the advent of the railway.
From Hazleton, 180 miles from Prince Rupert, the road is practically level.
I travelled there last August for some 50 miles. There is also rich farming land along the banks of the Skeena River.
Superiority of Transcontinental Over Other Routes.--The immense superiority of the Transcontinental over any other road, as a grain carrier, is due to the fact that a train can travel from the Yellowhead Pass to tide water at Quebec without encountering any adverse grades greater than four-tenths of one per cent., or 21 feet to the mile.
Mr. Charlton's Prophecy.--Some years ago, people thought it impossible to construct such a road. Yet there was one man who believed that it could and would be done. I refer to the late Mr. John Charlton, who, in a memorable speech delivered in Parliament, declared that the railways of the future would be built with such marvellously easy gradients as 1 have just mentioned. He is no longer amongst us, but his prediction has become a "fait accompli," and today it is possible for one locomotive to draw a train load of 2,200 tons from the West to tide-water at Quebec.
Now, gentlemen, let us see what such a train load is equivalent to when it consists of grain.
50,000 Bushels of Grain Drawn by One Locomotive.--If from this gross load of 2,200, a third be deducted for the weight of the cars, a liberal allowance, there remains a net load of 1,466 tons, which, at 33 bushels to the ton is equivalent to 50,000 bushels. In other words, one locomotive can today, on the Transcontinental, draw 50,000 bushels of grain from the foot of the Rockies to tide-water on the Atlantic. On no other railway system in the world can one locomotive, however powerful, draw such a heavy load. Not even on the New York Central or the Pennsylvania road; except on certain sections and not for any great distance.
7,000 Feet of Adverse Grades between Pacific and Atlantic.--It is a remarkable fact that the total ascent to the summit of the Rockies and the adverse grades added together from tide-water on the Pacific to tidewater on the Atlantic, only amount to 7,000 feet, while on the C.P.R. the total ascent between the same points amounts to 23,000 feet.
Cheap Transportation an Essential Factor for Prosperity.--Now, let me enunciate a mere truism: Material wealth, in its ultimate analysis, is but the conversion of the raw material of nature into useful commodities and their transportation from the place where they are produced to the place where they are wanted. It is obvious, therefore, that easy means of transportation are an indispensable requirement for the attainment of material wealth.
Example of the United States.--This is well exemplified in the United States, where the marvellous expansion which has taken place in every department of human industry is undoubtedly due to the fact that our neighbours have better grasped ,the paramount importance of transportation facilities and more fully developed them than any other nation.
Nearly One-Half the Railway Mileage of the World in the United States.--Let me quote some figures to bear out my statement. There are, today, some 500,000 miles of railway in the world, and. it is a, remarkable fact that half of this enormous mileage is owned by the United States and Canada.
I need hardly tell you which has the bigger half. We have 25,000 miles and the balance, 225,000 miles, nearly enough to go ten times around the world, is in the United States.
Railways Unable to Cope with Trade of the United States.--Yet, this gigantic network of railways is unable to cope with our neighbours' ever-increasing volume of trade, and they, as you doubtless remember, suffered some vears ago from a congestion of traffic which considerably affected the business of the country.
Mr. James J. Hill's Declaration.--It was on that occasion that that famous railway man, James J. Hill, a Canadian, by the way, with that clearness and conciseness of expression which characterize his utterances, declared that the business of the country was growing 10 times faster than the transportation facilities, that, with the present standard gauge of 4 ft. SYS ins., locomotives had reached their maximum limit, both as to dimension and power, that, in fact, this gauge was too narrow to meet the increasing demands of trade and that the only solution was to return, if possible, to the old broad gauge.
An Impracticable Suggestion.--But after due consideration, his suggestion was found to be impracticable, owing to the prohibitive cost of renewing or strengthening all the bridges and viaducts and of enlarging all the tunnels and of converting the whole of the rolling stock to the broad gauge.
Mr. Hill's Waterway Scheme.--Mr. Hill, however, had an alternative proposal. 'He suggested that a greater use should be made of those means of transportation which nature herself has provided. His idea was to deepen the Mississippi as far as St. Louis and to make the railways tributaries of that great river. Then to improve the navigation of the Illinois River and connect it with the Chicago Canal. The latter is primarily intended for sewage purposes, but as it is 20 feet deep and 200 feet wide, it appears to be well adapted for navigation, and there is no reason why it should not be used for that purpose.
Mr. Hill was of opinion that with these waterways as auxiliaries, the railways would be able to cope with the traffic and that the problem of transportation would be satisfactorily solved, at least for a generation to come.
An Interview with President Roosevelt.--I happened to be in Washington when that question was being discussed, and in the course of an interview with Mr. Roosevelt, our conversation soon turned to that topic.
The President, pointing to a terrestrial globe, said there were three main outlets for North America: the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence and the Hudson's Bay route, and turning to me, he added: "You, in Canada, have the Hudson's Bay route." I gently reminded him that we considered we still had some claim on the St. Lawrence route. I did not, however, think it wise to tell him what I thought of the Hudson's Bay route nor to refer to a speech I had made on that subject in the Senate.
The Hudson's Bay Route.--But I have no objection to telling you that I neither share the enthusiasm nor the sanguine expectations of the advocates of this northern route.
The navigation of the Bay, an immense sheet of water, 900 miles from north to south and 600 from east to west, is indeed possible for three months of the year, but, unfortunately, between the Bay and the high seas, there are 500 miles of straits, the navigation of which is rendered extremely dangerous, owing to the constant presence of icebergs.
Icebergs in the Straits.--Dr. McCrea, who accompanied Earl Grey during his trip to the north, was forced to admit, in the course of a speech made in Montreal, that they had met icebergs in the Straits in August. As a matter of fact, they are to be found there during every month of the year, and thus constitute a constant and most serious and dangerous obstacle to navigation.
Perilous Navigation.--It sometimes happens, when the wind is blowing in an opposite direction to the currents which are very swift in the Strait, that these enormous icebergs, some of them tower 60, "l0 or 100 feet above the water-line while their depth below the surface may be roughly estimated at 10 times their height, carried by the currents, collide with the surface ice driven by the wind at five or six miles an hour, and crash through it like huge battleships. Woe to any, ship that should lie in its path; nothing could save her. I may add that the surface ice itself is a source of grave danger, for it is quite thick enough to damage a ship and yet it is not high enough to be visible in thick or foggy weather or at night.
The Voyages of the "Neptune:--I fear that the voyages of the "Neptune" may have led people to rather under-estimate the perils of these Straits.
A Specially Built Ship.--The "Neptune," as you may be aware, was specially built by the Government and designed to withstand ice pressure. Its hulk is covered with 4 ins. of British oak and lined with 4 ins. of greenhart, and the space between them is packed with rock salt. The bow is of solid timber, 8 ft. thick, and is sheeted with iron 1 in. thick. Moreover, the bulk is shaped like a saucer, so that the effect of the lateral pressure of the ice is to raise it bodily out of the water.
No ordinarily constructed merchant vessel could therefore stand the pressure which the "Neptune" is designed to resist, and even were ships specially built for this route, they would have to be so heavily insured that the high premium would more than counter-balance any saving in distance.
Not a Route for Commerce.--I do not consider, therefore; that the Hudson's Bay route is a commercial possibility, but I am not opposed to the construction of a light railway to Churchill or Nelson to give access to the Bay.
Access to Bay by Rail.--I do not think, however, that our knowledge of the nature of the country around the Bay would justify any large expenditure of public money in the construction of a first-class road.
A French Writer's Views.--A French writer, employed by his Government to report on the resources and trade of Canada, and who has just completed his tenth annual inspection, recently declared, in an interview in Montreal, that Great Britain was always ahead of every other nation in looking out for new fields for her commerce and industry, and that she had been the first to realize the marvellous development of Japan and the awakening of China, which have given rise to an enormous and growing trade on the Pacific, and consequently across the North American Continent.
England's Foresight.--He added that England had, therefore, shown great foresight and wisdom in spending, or rather investing, her money to build or improve the Canadian transcontinental routes. They provide her with an invaluable link with the Orient, and enable her to land her wares, or if need be, her troops, on the shores of the Pacific nine days after their departure from Great Britain.
Canada's Service to the Empire.--I need not dwell, gentlemen, upon the strategical importance of these transcontinental lines. It is obvious that in the event of complications in the Pacific, or of trouble in India, they would be of inestimable value to Great Britain.
Gentlemen, let us remember that it was the whole of Canada that rendered this splendid service to the Empire, and let us hope that should new responsibilities arise, the whole of Canada will likewise not hesitate to do its duty.