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Joseph Howe
Chapter VII - Howe and Railways


WHEN Howe entered public life, railroads were just coming into vogue in the world. In 1830, the experiment of operating railways was successfully inaugurated in both Great Britain and the United States. Naturally these new and somewhat expensive means of communication were confined at first to great centres, but quickly enough began to be extended, and before 1840 they had become an important feature of transportation. An eye like Mr. Howe's could not long escape observing the necessity and utility of railways, and as early as 1835, a year before he had been elected to parliament, he wrote a long and elaborate editorial in the Nova Scotian, advocating a railway from Halifax to Windsor, that point being selected because it is situated on the Basin of Minas which opens into the Bay of Fundy, and would thus connect Halifax, by means of the numerous ports along the Bay, with a large section, not only of the western but of the eastern portions of the province as well.

After entering public life, Howe felt that the question of responsible government was paramount, and until Nova Scotians had the right to govern themselves and secure full control over their own resources and revenue, it was useless to consider other questions. For twelve years, therefore, he devoted his undivided attention to this great question, with results which we have been able to appreciate.

When the Liberal government was formed in 1848, an order-in-council was passed, at an early session, authorizing the survey of a line of railway between Halifax and Windsor. Mr. Howe, associated with Mr. W. F. Desbarres, was appointed commissioner to carry out the terms of this resolution, and a survey was made and estimates of costs given which were submitted to the legislature in 1849. The exhaustive report made by Lord Durham in 1839 constitutes the origin of many important questions which have since then engaged the attention of British American statesmen, and have led to great and far-reaching measures. One of the suggestions in this famous report was a railroad on Canadian soil to connect the Maritime Provinces with Canada. Durham urged it both as a military necessity and as a pre-requisite of the political union of British North America. However, as the imperial government and parliament did not give much effect to Lord Durham's recommendations, they did not lead to any immediate practical results in British North America.

In 1845 a company was formed in London which proposed to build a railway from Halifax to the St. Lawrence, and this proposition was submitted to the governments of the several provinces for their support. A public meeting was held in Halifax to consider the matter, and a resolution was passed asking the government to aid and support such an undertaking. In this movement, Howe did not, at first, take an active part. At the moment his chief duty was to secure the downfall of Lord Falkland and the Tory administration, and to that single purpose he devoted himself until after the elections of 1847. The legislature, however, at the instance of the governor, in 1846, adopted a resolution pledging Nova Scotia to co-operate with the other provinces interested in a joint survey of the line to the St. Lawrence, which we may designate by the name which it has since acquired as the Intercolonial Railway. The sum of ten thousand pounds was spent by the governments of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in securing this survey which was made by Major Robinson, and has become known in Canadian history as the Robinson Line, which indeed, does not differ very materially from the line which was adopted in 1868 as the route of the present Intercolonial Railway. The Robinson survey was submitted to the legislature in 1849. Mr. Howe was then in power, and during that session the government submitted to the legislature a measure giving the right of way with ten miles of Crown land on either side, and twenty thousand pounds sterling per annum as a subsidy to be paid until the road was able to earn profits.

Similar legislation was adopted in Canada and New Brunswick. At this time it was believed that the imperial government would also contribute to the construction of this road, which was deemed of immense importance from an imperial point of view. No action, however, was taken by the imperial government immediately, but at a subsequent date a report was obtained from a Captain Harnett, R.E., who spoke unfavourably and in disparaging terms of the entire enterprise, and the British government, in distinct terms, declined to render any assistance. Such was the position of railway matters in 1850.

So far as can be judged by his recorded utterances, and by his general policy, Mr. Howe, from the beginning, had been favourable to the policy of the construction and owning of railways by the government. He always argued with warmth that railways were, like other highways, for public utility, and should be owned and controlled by the public and for the public. Seeing nothing likely to arise out of these larger schemes which were as yet somewhat vague, Howe proposed a resolution in the session of 1850, pledging the credit of the province to the extent of three hundred and thirty thousand pounds for the construction of a railway between Halifax and Windsor, and made an eloquent speech in support of it. Naturally a new proposition involving a public debt created a good deal of opposition, and was one of those advanced movements which always alarm the timid and the ignorant. Howe fought for his resolution as well as he could, and foreseeing the impossibility of getting the whole sum voted, finally yielded sufficiently to secure the voting of half this sum, feeling well assured in his mind that if once the enterprise could be inaugurated he would have no difficulty in getting the remaining amount voted subsequently. During the summer of 1850, considerable excitement in railroad circles arose in connection with a scheme for uniting Portland with the Maritime Provinces by means of a road then named the European and North American Railway. This project was to unite Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by rail with the rapidly developing railroad system of the United States, and to further this movement a great railway convention was held at Portland, July 1st, 1850, and delegates from the governments of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were invited to attend. The delegates from Nova Scotia were Mr. James B. Uniacke, the leader of the government, Mr. Johnston, the leader of the opposition, and Mr. Fraser, of Windsor. The gathering was a notable one. Great hospitality was bestowed upon the visiting delegates by the city of Portland. Eloquent speeches were made, and resolutions were adopted with great enthusiasm that a company should be formed to carry out this enterprise at once.

When the Nova Scotian delegates returned, a public meeting was called at Temperance Hall, Halifax, to receive their report and to take into consideration what measures should be adopted on the part of Nova Scotia to further this project. When the scheme came to be carefully examined it was found that the road would cost at least twelve million dollars and no steps appeared to have been taken at this enthusiastic Portland convention to determine where the money should be found. Certainly no company was available with sufficient capital to carry on this enterprise. The state of Maine could hardly undertake its portion of the work because it had already mortgaged its resources to the limit for railway construction within the state. The larger portion of the line would traverse New Brunswick which had scarcely two hundred thousand inhabitants and could not afford, on its own responsibility, to raise the money for this work, and Nova Scotia's contribution of one hundred and forty miles to the frontier, would involve, under the most favourable conditions, a very large sum. After resolutions had been passed, thanking the delegates for their efforts, adopting the line proposed and recommending Halifax as a terminus, Howe arose and began that active participation in railway enterprises in British North America which has placed his name foremost among all men who are associated with this critical period in Canadian history. A resolution had been moved appointing a large committee to cooperate with the people of Portland. Howe made a speech on this resolution, which completely changed the whole temper of the meeting and incidentally reveals how thoroughly he had considered all phases of the railway question. He pointed out in clear and incisive terms the impracticability of this Portland scheme under existing conditions. He declared that no considerable portion of the great sum required for the construction of this road could be raised by the provincial guarantees of Nova Scotia or New Brunswick or the state guarantees of Maine. The only way that any railroads could be constructed in these provinces for a long time to come was by their government assuming the responsibility, pledging their public revenues, borrowing money and expending it directly on the work. His resolution was as follows:—

"Resolved, That, as it is the first duty of a government to construct and to control the great highways of a country, a respectful address be prepared and presented to the lieutenant-governor, praying that His Excellency would recommend the provincial parliament to undertake the construction of that portion of this important work which is to pass through Nova Scotia on a line between Halifax and the frontier of New Brunswick."

This lucid proposition commanded instantly the unanimous and enthusiastic support of the entire meeting. An address signed by the mayor and the city council was presented to the lieutenant-governor urging his government to take immediate measures to secure the construction of railways in Nova Scotia, on the authority of the government's credit. The governor very soon afterwards sent a despatch to the colonial secretary, indicating the movement in favour of railway construction in the province, and the necessity of spending about eight hundred thousand pounds sterling, which at six per cent, interest, would have to be paid by the province and would amount to forty-eight thousand pounds. This, with an imperial guarantee, could be secured at three and a half or four per cent, and would thus make the annual expenditure for interest throughout the province very much less. Earl Grey, in his response under date September 21st, 1850, intimated to Sir John Harvey his entire approbation of the support which he and his administration were giving to railway construction, and stated that in his opinion it would be of the highest service to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to have railways constructed. He concluded, however, -with the statement that, while very anxious to promote the enterprise, he regretted to say that Her Majesty's government would not recommend to parliament any measure for affording pecuniary assistance for the construction of even the railway from Halifax to Quebec, and still less for the construction of any similar railway less national in its character to be undertaken by the people of Nova Scotia. This action of the imperial government is only in line with the general policy pursued steadily for many years in colonial enterprises. It is possible, perhaps, that in the end, its result has been advantageous to these provinces, because it has fostered a spirit of self-reliance. Whether increased independence bears with it a corresponding increase of .cohesion within the empire is a deeper question than the immediate future will solve.

Howe and his friends were not entirely discouraged by this summary disposal of their proposition by the imperial government, and it was determined that in order that the question be properly understood by the home authorities, capitalists and railway contractors, a delegate should be forthwith sent to England to give light upon the resources of the country, and at the same time to enlist the sympathies and produce broader views on the part of British statesmen. Howe was naturally chosen for this task, and on the first day of November, 1850, he sailed for England. Upon arriving there he at once sought an interview with the colonial secretary, Earl Grey, and after thus opening up the important subject he had come to discuss, he addressed two letters to him, embodying fully and exhaustively the exact situation in relation to the various provinces of British North America. It is necessary again to repeat that the only satisfactory biography of Howe is the publication of his own speeches and letters. A mere epitome of these letters would give no adequate idea of their wealth of information or bold and splendid grasp of all the great problems which, for more than fifty years since that date, have been and still are, engaging the attention of the best minds British America has produced: the advantages of railways and the necessity for better steam communication between Great Britain and Halifax; the importance of uniting all these provinces by a railway between Halifax and the St. Lawrence ;'the desirability and importance of making Canada, through direct imperial effort, a field for the great emigration which was going out from the British Isles; and the interest which the inhabitants of Britain themselves had in the development of the active and progressive peoples that had sprung from their loins and settled in growing communities throughout the world; and, above all, the supreme importance of binding them together in one common policy, imperial in its character, and bringing to the councils of the empire the intellect, sympathy and cooperation of all the bright minds, reared and to be reared in its outlying portions. These letters appear in the "Speeches and Public Letters," Vol. II., page 400, and may also be found in the "Journals of Nova Scotia" for 1851.

Every moment of Howe's time during his protracted sojourn in Great Britain was devoted to stirring up interest, among all classes, in British American affairs. The publication of these letters in England at once riveted the attention of the foremost men in Great "Britain upon this broad colonial statesman. He received an invitation from the mayor and corporation of Southampton to address a public meeting in that important seaport, and he did so on January 14th, 1851. The hall was crowded with an audience composed of the best people in the city. The speech delivered by Howe upon this occasion is regarded by many of his friends as his greatest effort. It would be difficult, however, out of such a number of orations as must be put to his credit, to assign first place to any one. It certainly was an effective address. One extract only can be given, for the speech is of great length:—

"When I last visited Southampton little thought that I should ever return to it again, and certainly never dreamed that I should have the honour and the privilege to address, within its ancient walls, and with the evidences of its modern enterprise all around me, such an audience as is assembled here. I was then a wandering colonist, surveying, eleven years ago, Europe for the first time. Attracted to Southampton by the beauty of its scenery and by its old associations, when I entered your spacious estuary, and saw on the one side the fine old ruin of Netley Abbey and on the other the New Forest, famed in ancient story, I felt that I was approaching a place abounding in interest and honoured by its associations. And when I put my foot on the spot trodden in lays of yore by the warriors who embarked for the glorious fields of Agincourt and Cre9y, and on which Canute sat when he reproved his fawning courtiers, I felt my British blood warming in my veins, and knew that I was indeed standing on classic ground.

"But, sir, on that occasion I did not see those evidences of commercial prosperity which I was anxious to observe. In visiting to-day your splendid docks, your warehouses, your ocean steamers, your railways, and rising manufactories, which have been created by untiring energy and honourable enterprise within a few years, my pride in your historical associations was quickened and enlivened by the proofs of modern enterprise which distinguish this great seaport.

"The object of my visit to England is to draw closer the ties between the North American provinces and the mother country. To reproduce England on the other side of the Atlantic; to make the children, in institutions, feelings, and civilization, as much like the parent as possible, has been the labour of my past life; and now I wish to encourage the parent to promote her own interests by caring for the welfare and strengthening the hands of her children; to show to the people of England that across the Atlantic they possess provinces of inestimable value."

The effect produced by this speech was gratifying. Howe was invited to attend a banquet given by the corporation, his health was proposed by the mayor and drunk with great enthusiasm, and the Hampshire Independent, the leading paper of the city, referred to his visit and speech in terms of the highest appreciation. The metropolitan press devoted a great deal of attention to Howe's utterances on colonial questions, and in the House of Lords a discussion arose on the subject of his letters to Earl Grey. Lords Stanley and Mount-eagle referred especially in strong terms to the importance of the questions opened up by these letters, and asked the government what policy they intended to pursue in view of these representations, strongly urging that Howe's propositions be accepted.

Mr. Howe's utterances attracted another class— the railway magnates, Sir Morton Peto, William Jackson and Thomas Brassey, who were capitalists and railway contractors. They put themselves in communication with Howe, and thus became interested in Canadian railways. These men did not prove of advantage to Howe's aims and policy, but they were led to an investigation of Canadian resources, and ultimately became associated with the construction of the Grand Trunk Railway.

Of social attentions while in London on this occasion, Howe was the constant recipient, but naturally his mind was mostly absorbed in the great purpose of securing an imperial guarantee for the construction of a railway from Halifax to Quebec, which would carry with it a railway from Halifax to the New Brunswick border, and thus incidentally serve the interests of the eastern and northern portions of the province. In endeavouring to get some definite action on the part of the Whig ministry then in power, Howe experienced enormous difficulties. During the session of 1850-51, parliament was embroiled in acute faction fights; to such a degree, indeed, were these dissensions carried that on February 21st, 1851, about the time that Howe was hoping to have obtained favourable consideration of his propositions from Earl Grey, Lord John Russell's ministry resigned, and this left everything in doubt and difficulty. The session in Nova Scotia had already opened, and Howe realized the importance of having something to submit to the House of Assembly before it prorogued. For several days it was extremely doubtful what would become of the ministry, or whether Lord Derby or some person else would undertake to form another. This suspense lasted until March 3rd, when Lord John Russell resumed office and agreed to continue the government. By the 10th, Howe was able to obtain a letter from Mr. Hawes, written under the authority of Earl Grey, the colonial secretary, and this letter was in every way exceedingly encouraging and satisfactory. Indeed, it went further in this direction than any subsequent action on the part of the imperial government in respect to guarantees of colonial loans. A possible exception to this was the undertaking to guarantee a portion of the money required for the construction of the Intercolonial Railway at the inauguration of confederation in 1867. The important points of Mr. Hawes's letter, which was somewhat lengthy, were as follows:—

"I am directed to inform you that Her Majesty's government are prepared to recommend to parliament that this guaranty should be granted, or that the money required should be advanced from the British treasury, on the conditions which I will now proceed to state. In the first place, as Her Majesty's government are of opinion that they would not be justified in asking parliament to allow the credit of this country to be pledged for an object not of great importance to the British Empire as a whole (and they do not consider that the projected railway would answer this description, unless it should establish a line of communication between the three British provinces), it must be distinctly understood that the work is not to be commenced, nor is any part of the loan—for the interest on which the British treasury is to be responsible—to be raised, until arrangements are made with the provinces of Canada and New Brunswick, by which the construction of a line of railway passing wholly through British territory, from Halifax to Quebec or Montreal shall be provided for to the satisfaction of Her Majesty's government.

"In order that such arrangements may be made, Her Majesty's government will undertake to recommend to parliament that the like assistance shall be rendered to these provinces as to Nova Scotia, in obtaining loans for the construction of their respective portions of the work. If it should appear that, by leaving each province to make that part of the line passing through its own territory, the proportion of the whole cost of the work which would fall upon any one province, would exceed its proportion of the advantage to be gained by it, then the question is to remain open for future consideration, whether some contribution should not be made by the other provinces towards that part of the line; but it is to be clearly understood that the whole cost of the line is to be provided for by loans raised by the provinces in such proportions as may be agreed upon, with the guaranty of the imperial parliament. The manner in which the profits to be derived from the railway when completed are to be divided between the provinces will also remain for future consideration."

This important letter, Howe at once communicated, with an elaborate report, to his government, and on April 5th sailed for Halifax, arriving home on the 14th.

During Howe's absence some difficulties had arisen in'connection with the ministry, which involved the resignation of one of the ministers, Mr. George R. Young, and Howe was called upon to exercise his tact in allaying any unpleasant feelings that had arisen from these internal dissensions.

Howe's report and the despatches from Downing Street were laid before the House, and were received with an almost universal chorus of approval. Of course, those opposed to the ministry and opposed to government railways made some criticisms, but the sentiment almost universal in the legislature and throughout the province was that Howe had achieved a great work and had succeeded in an unexpected degree in enlightening Her Majesty's ministers and interesting them in the affairs of British North America.

Another difficulty which immediately presented itself to Howe was the opposition which the promoters of the Portland scheme offered to his proposal. The imperial government did not undertake to guarantee provincial bonds for the construction of a railway from Halifax to Portland. The foundation of their guarantee was that imperial interests were concerned in the construction of a railway from Halifax to the St. Lawrence, and there were many persons in both provinces who looked upon the Portland scheme as the more useful and desirable. Howe did not offer any opposition to the Portland project, but he exerted all his efforts to securing the construction of the Intercolonial Railway, regarding this enterprise as having important and far-reaching relations to the consolidation of the British American provinces and the strengthening of the empire. Howe, armed with Mr. Hawes's letter, had now the task of securing the cooperation of New Brunswick and Canada in furthering this great enterprise. It became necessary, consequently, that he should at once take steps to that end, though his first care was that the people of Nova Scotia should be fully enlightened upon the whole question. Before leaving, therefore, for New Brunswick and Canada, Howe addressed a great public meeting of the citizens of Halifax at Mason Hall on May 15th, and this speech sets forth in masterly terms the whole position of British North America, its importance to the empire and its great future. Note one passage:—

"With such a territory as this to overrun, organize and improve, think you that we shall stop even at the western bounds of Canada? or even at the shores of the Pacific? Vancouver's Island, with its vast coal measures, lies beyond. The beautiful islands of the Pacific and the growing commerce of the ocean, are beyond. Populous China and the rich East, are beyond ; and the sails of our children's children will reflect as familiarly the sunbeams of the South, as they now brave the angry tempests of the North. The Maritime Provinces, which I now address, are but the Atlantic frontage of . this boundless and prolific region, the wharves upon which its business will be transacted, and beside which its rich argosies are to lie. Nova Scotia is one of these. Will you, then, put your hands unitedly, with order, intelligence, and energy, to this great work? Refuse, and you are recreants to every principle which lies at the base of your country's prosperity and advancement; refuse, and the Deity's handwriting upon land and sea, is to you unintelligible language; refuse, and Nova Scotia, instead of occupying the foreground as she now does, should have been thrown back, at least behind the Rocky Mountains. God has planted your country in the front of this boundless region; see that you comprehend its destiny and resources —see that you discharge, with energy and elevation of soul, the duties which devolve upon you in virtue of your position. Hitherto, my countrymen, you have dealt with this subject in a becoming spirit, and whatever others may think or apprehend, I know that you will persevere in that spirit until our objects are attained. I am neither a prophet, nor a son of a prophet, yet I will venture to predict that in five years we shall make the journey hence to Quebec and Montreal, and home through Portland and St. John, by rail; and I believe that many in this room mil live to hear the whistle of the steam engine in the passes of the Rocky Mountains and to make the journey from Halifax to the Pacific in five or six days"

In 1871, when British Columbia was incorporated into the Dominion of Canada under the condition that a railroad should be built to the Pacific ocean in ten years, most men regarded this as a vast and, perhaps, impossible undertaking. It required faith, in 1871, to undertake such a project by a united Canada which had grown enormously in population and resources during the preceding twenty years. What are we to think of the great mental vision and splendid faith of a man who, before confederation was seriously conceived, could, in 1851, make a prediction that men within the sound of his voice would live to hear the whistle of the steam engine in the passes of the Rocky Mountains ?

In New Brunswick, Howe had to encounter exceptional difficulties.. The interests of the greater number of the people seemed to be in the direction of the railway to Portland, and the route which Major Robinson had selected for the Intercolonial ran along the north shore of New Brunswick, where population at that time was slight; it did not touch the cities of St. John and Fredericton, nor the populous centres of the St. John River. Howe had no less a task before him than to convert the people and government of New Brunswick to his views and interest them in carrying out their share of the project according to the terms of Hawes's letter. He addressed meetings at Dorchester, Moncton, St. John and St. Andrews, and then visited Fredericton to confer with the governor and members of the government. In his public speeches in New Brunswick, Howe grappled with the matter most adroitly and clearly demonstrated that there was no disposition on his part or on that of the government of Nova Scotia to interfere with any of New Brunswick's railway projects, but merely to interest them in a project of common advantage to all British American provinces, namely that of securing a line from Halifax and St. John to the St. Lawrence. He undertook to point out to them that by means of this promised guarantee of a loan from the imperial government, the money for both projects could be obtained upon conditions involving scarcely more obligations upon their province than one project would entail. The result of his efforts in New Brunswick was entirely successful, and he was able to induce Mr. Chandler, a leading New Brunswick statesman, to accompany him to Toronto, where he was to meet the Canadian government, with Lord Elgin at its head, on June 15th. On his way thither he passed through Portland, and being entertained by the leading citizens, he so presented his new scheme as to modify any hostility on the part of Portland or the people of Maine.

The Canadian government, after full consultation with Messrs. Howe and Chandler, promptly accepted Howe's scheme and adopted a minute of council agreeing to recommend to parliament at the next session a measure to provide their portion of the Intercolonial Railway loan upon the terms embodied in Mr. Hawes's letter on behalf of the colonial secretary. Mr. Chandler, after this order-in-council had been passed, returned at once to New Brunswick to endeavour to procure a similar order-in-council from his government. Howe remained for a short time in Canada, and he was everywhere received with the greatest enthusiasm. A public dinner was given to him by the citizens of Toronto, which the governor-general, Lord Elgin, attended. He and Mr. Chandler were taken to Hamilton accompanied by leading members of the legislature, and were entertained by Sir Allan MacNab. Coming down to Montreal, Howe was given a public dinner by the leading merchants of that city, at which Mr. (afterwards Sir) Hugh Allan, the president of the Board of Trade, presided. He was also given a picnic at Belceil. The public addresses of Mr. Howe in Montreal were delivered very soon after the outburst of dissatisfaction with trade matters, which led to the issuing of an annexation manifesto, and the whole tenor of his speeches was to enlarge upon the value of British connection, and to invoke not only colonial pride, but to make it coincide with a due regard to the obligations we owed to the motherland. At Quebec Howe was given a notable reception. He was invited by the mayor and corporation to address a public meeting, and his speech was lauded by the press in the most flattering terms. He was tendered a public banquet, but declined. Indeed, at this moment Howe was the most prominent figure in British North America. Mr. Angers, at the meeting at Quebec, declared that "For his zeal, talent and success in promoting the great Halifax and Quebec railway, the Hon. Joseph Howe would be considered the benefactor not only of Nova Scotia but of ail the North American colonies." Howe returned to Nova Scotia, passing through Dorchester, N.B., on his way. He met the Hon. Mr. Chandler, who informed him that the government of New Brunswick had ratified the agreement made in Toronto, and was prepared to construct the two lines upon the terms proposed.

On July 21st, Howe reached Halifax, and was greeted by enthusiastic demonstrations of welcome on the part of the citizens, including a display of fireworks. He had prepared a lengthy and circumstantial report of his mission to New Brunswick and Canada, which was published at once and gave universal satisfaction.

The House of Assembly was dissolved on July 26th. Mr. Howe, who had been a representative of the metropolitan constituency of Halifax since his entry into public life, resolved to seek a constituency at this election in Cumberland county, alleging as a reason that - the attention required by the interests of a county so large and populous as Halifax pressed upon him too severely in connection with his larger public duties. It seems probable, however, that Howe, being well assured that Halifax was perfectly safe to elect four supporters of the government, felt it desirable that he should secure support in another constituency by his presence. The elections were sharply contested by the opponents of the government, and there were signs of opposition in the county of Cumberland, but Howe on entering the county proceeded with an active canvass, rode on horseback four hundred miles in twelve days, and made twenty speeches, which produced such an effect that opposition was withdrawn.

To indicate how highly Howe was appreciated outside of the province, an extract from a speech delivered during this campaign at Amherst, by the Hon. Mr. Chandler of New Brunswick, will be a striking testimony:—

"Mr. Howe need not, on personal grounds, come to Cumberland to seek a seat. Any constituency in the three provinces would be proud to accept his services. His reputation is North American, his speeches at Southampton, his letters to Earl Grey, have elevated all the provinces in the estimation of Europe—have roused them to a knowledge of their own resources. I do not hesitate to say that no other man in the empire could have conducted that negotiation so ably, that no other man could have ripened this great scheme, so far, or can now bear up the weight of it in the legislature. This we all feel to be true; but what I admire about Mr. Howe is the simplicity of his manners, combined with such high intellectual resources. Negotiating with ministers of state, at the governor-general's council board, or even in the presence of his sovereign, as beneath the lowly roof of the humblest farmer in the land, he is ever the same—Joe Howe." The result of the election was altogether favourable to the government. Halifax returned four supporters; Howe and his colleagues were elected in Cumberland by acclamation, and a good working majority was obtained.

The railway policy, which had thus been apparently consummated, so far as the three provinces were concerned, was doomed to be shattered. The compass of this work does not include a history of Canada, nor is it profitable to enter into details of the difficulties which ensued. Messrs. Jackson, Peto, Betts and Brassey had fixed their minds upon railway enterprises in Canada, and sent their agents with all kinds of specious proposals for the construction of the work. Howe was not captivated by these, but wished to adhere strictly to the original proposition of having the road between Halifax and Quebec constructed by the three governments, the loan for the necessary money to be guaranteed by the imperial government.

The legislature of Nova Scotia was called together on November 4th, and Howe soon after brought down the railway bills, which pledged Nova Scotia not only to the construction of a piece of road between Halifax and New Brunswick, but for thirty miles beyond the boundary. After a protracted debate his railway measures were carried by large majorities. It became evident, however, soon after, that New Brunswick was being captivated by propositions from English capitalists for the construction of the road to Portland, and Mr. Hincks, representing the Canadian government, came down to New Brunswick, and a conference of the three provinces was asked to meet at Fredericton to reconsider the whole question. Mr. Howe declined to join this conference, foreseeing then the influences that were at work. The delegates, however, came to Halifax, and it was easy to see that there was a determined disposition on the part of New Brunswick, aided by the influence of the Canadian government to make the route of the Intercolonial by the valley of the St. John River, rather than by the Major Robinson route. Howe would not join in this movement because he believed it would jeopardize the imperial guarantee. The New Brunswick legislature, however, adopted this proposition, and the next step was to obtain the consent of the imperial government to the changed route. Messrs. Hincks and Chandler went to England. They asked Howe to join them. It was, however, impossible for him to accede to this for the reason that the election of himself and Mr. Fulton had been set aside by a committee of the legislature, and it became necessary for him in mid-winter to contest an election -in Cumberland. The campaign proved a severe one, but on March 24th, 1853, Howe and his colleague, Mr. Fulton, were again triumphantly returned for the county of Cumberland. On his return he received complimentary addresses and a large escort of the men of Colchester county, and in Halifax he and his colleague were received and conducted to the House by an enormous crowd of people and a torchlight procession.

Now that the election was safely over, some still thought that Howe should go to England and join Messrs. Hincks and Chandler, but this was not his view. He foresaw difficulty and failure. Lord Derby's government was by this time in power, and it distinctly refused to give the imperial guarantee for a line through the St. John valley. Mr. Hincks also had an unfortunate quarrel with Sir John Packing-ton, but he succeeded in making arrangements for the construction of the Grand Trunk Railway. New Brunswick likewise became involved in contracts with these English railway men, which turned out unfortunately, if not disastrously, and even the terms and conditions upon which the Grand Trunk was constructed were not, viewed by the light of history, altogether satisfactory from a financial point of view.

On August 5th, 1852, Sir Gaspard LeMarchant became governor of Nova Scotia, Sir John Harvey having died the previous spring. Howe now reverted to his original policy of constructing railways for Nova Scotia as a government work, and quite irrespective of the action of any of the other provinces. On August 25th an order-in-council was passed, pledging the administration to proceed with the construction of railways east and west, and authorizing contracts to be entered into, subject to the approval of the legislature, for raising the funds and carrying on the works. The publication of this order-in-council brought offers from Messrs. Peto, Brassey & Co., and Sikes, King and Brook-field. It was deemed advisable that the resources of these proposed contractors should be enquired into, and still more necessary that financial arrangements, whereby the money could be secured upon the credit of the province, be made in London before proceeding with any enterprise. To this end, Mr. Howe left for England on October 28th, 1852, and, having completed his arrangements with Messrs. Baring Bros. & Co., for negotiating the provincial bonds to the extent of one million pounds currency ($4,000,000) he returned in the latter part of December.

During the session of 1853 Howe introduced a measure authorizing the government to construct railways upon the great thoroughfares to the extent of one million pounds. This measure was opposed by Johnston and his supporters in a most determined manner. Canada had entered into a contract with Jackson and his friends to construct their railways, as also had New Brunswick, and it was contended that company railways could be secured with moderate subventions in Nova Scotia at much less cost and by incurring a very much smaller provincial obligation. Howe, against his better judgment, deemed it wise to respect these objections. He withdrew his measure and substituted facility bills to give effect to the proposition of the opposition, and announced that he would allow a year to pass and see if favourable contracts could be obtained for the construction of the railways. A year passed by and nothing substantial was accomplished. Consequently, when the House met in 1854, the ground was clear for Howe's original proposition. It was proposed that a line should be built from Halifax to Pictou in the east, and a line to Windsor westerly, to be ultimately continued to Annapolis or Digby. Some prominent men in the legislature who had hitherto been in opposition to the government, including Mr. L. M. Wilkins, announced their conversion to Howe's policy and supported the government. The railway measures were passed and the government was empowered to proceed at once with the construction of the sections east and west, the line being common to both sections as far as Windsor Junction. After these measures had been successfully carried through the House, a complete reorganization of the government took place. Mr. James B. Uniacke, the attorney-general and formal head of the government, being in ill-health and desiring to retire from active public life, accepted the office of commissioner of Crown lands. This left the way clear to Mr. Howe to assume in name as well as in reality, the leadership of the government; but he had other views. The Railway Act had provided that these railways were to be constructed by a board of railway commissioners, the chairman to be a permanent salaried official with £700 a year, the other members to be merely consultants without salary. Howe chose, for reasons which it is not quite easy to understand, to give up his position in the government and take the subordinate position of chief commissioner of railways. He alleged that his object in leaving the government and taking the post of chief railway commissioner was because of his conviction that railway construction was the most important matter at the time, and demanded his undivided attention. He understood well that many difficulties were to be encountered and many dangers to be faced in the introduction of railways into the province, and he felt the work would be safest in the hands of one who was in thorough sympathy with the undertaking. At Howe's suggestion, Mr. William Young, who had been speaker for a number of years, was called upon to form an administration. He accepted this duty and took the office of attorney-general. Mr. Wilkins became provincial secretary, Mr. Henry solicitor-general, and Mr. Howe ceased to be associated with the executive government of the province. He retained, however, his seat in the legislature, as it was expressly provided in the act that the chairman of the railway board should be eligible to sit in the assembly, and it is needless to remark that although no longer in the executive, he continued to be the leading figure in parliamentary halls.

This sketch embodies the actual conditions of railway construction in Nova Scotia. The railway was pushed forward as rapidly as possible to Truro and to Windsor, and was owned and operated as a government railway. In 1864 provision was made for extending this government road from Truro to Pictou. Consequently, when confederation was formed, while Ontario and Quebec entered the confederation with a large public debt, and without equivalent public works, certainly without any railways to represent this debt, Nova Scotia entered the confederation with its quota of debt, but with railways already profitable to represent it. Indeed, if the railway between Halifax and Pictou on the one side and Halifax and Windsor on the other were operated to-day upon ordinary commercial principles, they would pay fair interest upon the reasonable cost of construction.


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