House of Commons, 28 May 1869, Canadian Confederation with Manitoba



On motion of Sir John A. Macdonald.
Sir George E. Cartier rose to move the House into Committee on the resolutions respecting the acquisition of the North West Territory.
Mr. Mackenzie desired to take the opportunity of obtaining an explanation from the Ministry regarding the recent accession to their ranks, in the person of the President of the Council. He had been unwilling to ask those explanations hitherto, because for some time that hon. gentleman was not in his place, and when he did take his seat was obviously not in the best possible trim for giving the required explanations. But before entering on the important subject before them, it was quite evident that the House ought to be furnished with a statement of the circumstances which had induced the hon. member for Hants to enter the Cabinet. It would be remembered that last year the President of the Council, then sitting on the Opposition side of the House, took very strong grounds against the acquisition of the North West Territory. Speaking, as he then said, not from a purely Nova Scotian point of view, but from a Canadian aspect, the hon. gentleman advanced very strong reasons for taking that positionreasons which ought to exclude the hon. gentleman from holding office in any government proposing to deal with this subject, as the present administration proposed to do. And when so radical a change had taken place in the character of the government, or the position of the hon. gentleman joining them, it was due to the House that some explanations should be given. There was another point to which he also wished to direct attention, and that was that the Government had not yet given the House an opportunity of pronouncing on the new terms made with Nova Scotia. Had they done so, he would before this have asked for the explanations. The hon. gentleman might recollect that on the floor of that House, he contended that Nova Scotia had been despoiled of half a million dollars by the Union Act. He stated, while it was a matter of concern that these revenues should be taken by Canada under an enforced Union, that was nothing compared with the other outrage that she had been robbed of her liberties. It was certainly due to the country that the hon. gentleman should state how it was that, having held and uttered such sentiments, he subsequently became a member of the Government which was not only responsible for the initiation of that robbery, but for 474 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 its maintenance. For his part, he (Mr. Mackenzie) never could see the precise point where the robbery took place or where the liberties of that Province had been lost, but he had been touched while the member for Hants, with moist eyes and uplifted face, alluded so feelingly to the departed liberties of his country. Tears started unbidden to the hon. gentleman's eyes on that occasion, and finding him claim that his country would suffer the loss of all her liberties in consequence of this Union, he (Mr. Mackenzie) felt bound to vote for the appointment of a Committee to find out where we could relieve that Province from the oppression spoken of. And now that the member for Hants had become President of the Council, it was fair to conclude that in some mysterious way the liberties of that country had been restored. It was possible that the hon. gentleman had joined the Government as others had done before him in violation of all his political proclivities (Hear, hear.) Then it was only another step in that political dependence which seems to be a dogma of the Government of this country every day—a step which in the interests of public morality was very much to be regretted. When men holding the most diverse opinions, politically, find a safe refuge in a Government we are driven to believe that these gentlemen after all attach more value to obtaining office than maintaining their patriotic impressions. (Hear, hear.) Was it to be supposed that the hon. gentlemen carried with them into the Cabinet all their conflicting views of public policy on almost every conceivable subject? Or were they all subordinated by the views of the Minister of Justice? He (Mr. Mackenzie) confessed his astonishment at the position taken by the President of the Council, and thought it was evident that the hon. gentleman's country-men generally looked on his accession to office as a purely personal matter. That accession had produced not conciliation and contentment, but merely changed the channel through which the stream of discontent poured. Annexation doctrines were now openly advocated in the very House of Assembly of Nova Scotia, and most scandalous speeches and resolutions, from a British point of view, were daily made in that body. These facts were significant of political degradation, and for that hon. gentleman's own sake, as well as for that of the Government and the country, it was exceedingly to be regretted that such events should transpire, as they could not possibly strengthen the Government, but would weaken it and destroy the bonds of political morality which binds together in this country, men holding sentiments 475 in common. Holding these views, he felt bound to ask some explanation.
Hon. Mr. Howe thanked the member for Lambton in not raising this debate till his (Mr. Howe's) strength had been somewhat restored. He thought it due to the House and hon. gentleman opposite, to state candidly and fairly the reason why he occupied his present position. He would say to them in all frankness that perhaps he might not have been on the Ministerial side at all, had the member for Lambton and the hon. gentlemen acting with him made the other side of the House at all habitable. (Laughter.) When he (Mr. Howe) attended the House and spent forty days on that side, had he as an old Reformer, and an old Liberal, found that sympathy and support he thought himself entitled to, perhaps he might have remained with them. (Laughter). The men on the Ministerial side had accepted the situation—were committed to it, were the executive instruments by which it was to be carried out, and on the other side of the House almost every member, including the member for Lambton himself, was equally committed to the act of Confederation. If he understood the member for Lambton then he (Mr. Howe) was to place himself in this position: he was to attend that House, obey the law, and submit to the Act of Confederation, which had been gained by the pressure of both parties in Canada—and to occupy an isolated position, in such a happy position, commanding no sympathy on the one side of the House nor the other, he was to spend the remainder of his days for the edification and amusement of hon. gentlemen on both sides (Hear and laughter). Had he devoted himself to an isolated existence of that kind he should certainly be a martyr to a very high sense of honour, but if he needed such justification he might almost make an excuse for occupying his present position by saying that he was only following the custom of the country. (Laughter.) Were he to believe the half of what he heard, and he was free to say he did not, were he to believe the charge which he had heard flung by public men at each other across the floor of the House during the forty days he had first attended it, he could consider that the tone of political morality was so high in Canada that he had violently transgressed it in crossing the floor of the House. (Laughter.) He came there a stranger and would do hon. gentlemen the justice to say that he 476 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 had been treated with all courtesy. His complaints of the Dominion Act might, for a time, have been querulous and declamatory, but he had been treated with courtesy and respect by both sides, and so far he had no thing to complain of. But he certainly did expect some hon. gentlemen on the Opposition benches to have arisen and said that Nova Scotia had been hardly used, that there was good ground for the excitement in that Province, and to have sympathised with him in his efforts on behalf of that Province, not to the extent, perhaps, of releasing Nova Scotians from this political arrangement. What took place during the second part of the session he did not know, for he was not in the House then, but during the time he was present, his cause received so little sympathy from the member for Lambton, or his party, that he (Mr. Howe) did not feel at all trammelled as to which side of the House he would sit on hereafter. The hon. gentleman then detailed his subsequent agitation for repeal. How he spent nine months in England, backed by petitions from 30,000 people. How the Act passed in spite of every remonstrance. How, on his return to Nova Scotia, so strong was the dislike to Confederation, that during the election the Unionists were almost completely swept out of political existence. How, along with others, he subsequently went to England to induce the Imperial authorities to reconsider the question of Repeal. How, when the question came up in the House of Lords, only two out of 400 spoke in favour of it, while in the House of Commons only 87 could be found to favour, not the repeal of the Act, but the enquiry into its workings. How, under these circumstances, he returned to his home feeling convinced that repeal was hopeless; but not before warning the British Minister that one result would be the generation of an annexation feeling, as the member for Lambton had asserted that an annexation feeling had sprung up. It was not to be attributed to his changed position, but a feeling of soreness on account of the treatment received from the British Government. He had not succeeded in his mission. What then was he to do? To sit down and do nothing? The member for Lambton seemed to think that he (Mr. Howe) would escape from the public position he had assumed. But he had been elected. His constituents and countrymen looked to him for advice and action. What was he to do? To go screaming out for repeal? To advise the people to break the laws, and resist the power and authority of the Imperial Government? He would not undertake to say what he would have done had he the power, (hear, hear), but the power 477 and force brought to bear against his position was too great to resist. Therefore he felt that there was nothing to do but to accept the situation or enter into a hopeless, dreary contest, which could have but one result. (Cheers.) Just at that time, when we tried everything else and failed, hon. gentlemen from this side of the House came down to us and said—"We cannot repeal this Act, and do not wish to do so, but we are willing to reexamine the financial part of the scheme, and if it is shown that by it injustice has been or is to be done to Nova Scotia, we will endeavour to repair the injustice." His first policy was to test the sincerity of these professions. Negotiations went on, and bye and bye it was quite apparent to the Finance Minister of Canada and the Auditor General that a gross injustice had been done Nova Scotia; and when this acknowledgement was made there was a fair ground for negotiations for better terms. Shutting out for the present any reference to these better terms, as that branch of the subject would come up in a few days, he would merely say that the negotiations were brought to a close and Mr. McLelan and himself were satisfied that justice would be done Nova Scotia. The Ministry by that act established a larger claim to his respect and confidence. The Minister of Justice then did him the honour to renew an offer made months before to take a seat in the Cabinet. He felt they had established a claim on him, and said frankly, "if you think it will strengthen your hands in carrying this measure through Parliament to have my aid and assistance in the Cabinet, you can have it. As far as I am concerned, I would rather continue as I am." He made one reservation, however. He had no hope from the new Government established in England, but many in Nova Scotia hoped to get repeal from them. The reservation he made was this: The moment the Local Government got their answer from the Gladstone Government, if it was unfavourable, as he expected, he was to consider himself free to take office. The answer came, was unfavourable, and he had then no hesitation. As to his opposition to the purchase of the Hudson's Bay Territory, he had opposed that purchase with all sincerity, believing that it should have been the work of the Imperial authorities, and not of the Dominion, but the policy of the majority of the House opposed to that was carried out. The delegates went to England, the purchase was made, and arrangements completed almost before he entered the Cabinet. Now, what would the member for Lambton have him to do? Was he to regard that as a stumbling-block in the way of entering the 478 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 Cabinet? That would be a most extraordinary doctrine, from the day he entered the Cabinet he held himself responsible for the acts and policy of the gentlemen with whom he was associated, but for anything before that period, for any of their sins of omission or commission he did not hold himself responsible.
Hon. Mr. Holton—How about the resolutions today?
Hon. Mr. Howe—They are merely carrying out a policy from which none of us can go back with honour. No public man can get up and ask to have that purchase repealed. All he could say was that he entered the Cabinet covered to a large extent by revolutionary arrangements which he resisted, and if it were to be made a rule that none of us opposing Confederation and its concomitants should ever enter the Cabinet, then Nova Scotia would have very slight representation there. (Hear, hear.) For his part, as long as he found the gentlemen with whom he was associated sincerely anxious to carry out a policy conducive to the welfare of the Dominion, he should act with them, and sustain them; and the moment he could not do so conscientiously, he would tender his resignation.
Hon. Dr. Tupper said that the subject which had been brought forward was well worthy of the earnest attention of the House. On a former occasion he had followed the hon. member for Hants in debate, and stated that he deeply deplored that that hon. gentleman occupied a position which prevented him giving the country the benefit of his services in the administration. With equal sincerity, and an equal sense of public duty, he now felt it right to express his gratification that the hon. gentleman had at last been enabled to take a more prominent and responsible position in the conduct of public affairs. He had never 479 believed that repeal would be successful, but what he had felt was that the vital interests of the Dominion required that the difficulty as respects Nova Scotia should be removed, and the Union enabled to present an unbroken front to the world. He had no hesitation, however, in saying that the difficulty in that Province was very much exaggerated from the outset. He had never looked upon the issue of the elections of 1867 as evincing the desire of the people for Repeal. He had believed and had stated in the House the circumstances which warranted him in coming to the conclusion that by a moderate and judicious course of action all the difficulty might be removed. He had, indeed, always pressed upon the administration the necessity of making such arrangements. He felt that the sooner the representatives of Nova Scotia were able to work out the constitution, the better for the interests of the whole Dominion. Some time ago the Government had done him the honour of offering him a high and responsible position in the administration, but having given that subject the fullest consideration, he felt it his duty to decline. And he had done so on the ground that he should consider how far the acceptance of office would leave him free to advance the interests of his country. He had considered that the acceptance of such a position would mar his usefulness in connection with measures that might reconcile the people to the Union. He did not hesitate to advise the Government—to say to them that he believed it was a solemn duty which they owed to the whole people of the Dominion to exhaust every means consistent with the honour and rights of the country, to bring representatives of the people of Nova Scotia into harmonynot with the Government of the country so much as with the institutions of the Dominion. The House would remember that in the most impassioned appeal he had made on the question, he had implored the anti-Union representatives, instead of standing outside of the constitution, to come forward and assist in perfecting these institutions. The Government had done him the honour to delegate him in England, for the purpose of giving the British Government all the information he possessed on the question.
Mr. Le Vesconte rose and said he would, if the debate continued, claim the right to be heard in reply to the member for Cumberland.
Sir John A. Macdonald said he had to complain of the member for Lambton, and, in a much greater degree, of the Speaker, for allowing this debate to proceed. The simple question was, that the House should go into 480 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 Committee on the resolutions respecting the acquisition of the Hudson's Bay territory; and as the hon. member for Lambton, who sat there self-convicted, had contrived to originate this debate, now that it had been originated, perhaps it had better proceed and let the matter be fully discussed.
Hon. John Sandfield Macdonald objected to proceeding with the debate. It was altogether out of order and hindering the public business at a time when many members like himself were anxious to get home.
Hon. Mr. Tupper said he was not at all anxious to discuss the matter at present.
Hon. Mr. Holton upheld the action of the Speaker. It was not usual in the House for the Speaker to call a gentleman to order who rose to demand, at a fitting time, explanations which it was usual to ask when a gentleman joined the Administration. But the member for Hants being allowed the widest possible latitude in reply, there the discussion ought to end.
Mr. Mackenzie contended that he was perfectly in order when he rose. The Speaker did not know but that he meant to follow up his speech with a motion.
The Speaker defended his position on similar grounds, and said that his impression was that the Honourable member for Lambton was going to conclude his speech with a motion.
Sir John A. Macdonald maintained his position, but
The Speaker ruled against him, and the debate closed.
Sir George E. Cartier then proceeded to address the House on the subject of the North West resolutions. He announced in the first place, as the resolutions involved a money appropriation, that they were introduced with the consent of His Excellency the Governor General. It was needless for him to say that the subject of these resolutions was very important. The acquisition of the North West had been under the consideration of the Government and Parliament of the late Province of Canada for a number of years. It had also engaged the attention of the Parliament of the Dominion, and resolutions having that object in view had been adopted last session. It was difficult to know how to begin in undertaking to deal with so important a question. He proposed to make no preface, but to go 481 into the subject at once and to show that the contemplated arrangement should be cheerfully acquiesced in by the House. The papers showing the proceedings of himself and his colleague in England had been laid before the House. In considering the acquisition of so important a territory we were naturally induced to consider the history of the successive acquisition of territory by our neighbours in the United States. The original 13 States comprised a territory much more limited than that which the United States now possessed; but no sooner did they acquire their independence than they entered on a policy of losing no opportunity of acquiring new territory. First, they got Louisiana. Some Americans were opposed to this, thinking they had territory enough; but the other idea prevailed, and that territory was acquired, affording the material out of which five States have been erected. Not satisfied with this, American statesmen looked to the necessity of extending their territory from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and that idea was finally accomplished. It had taken them, however, nearly 50 years to complete this project; but if the measures now before the House was carried out, we would acquire almost by one act a greater extent of territory, and in some respects more important, than what the United States had acquired during the last 50 years; for British Columbia was standing ready to meet us as soon as we took possession of the Northwest. It was a matter of glorification to us that in so short a time since we entered into Confederation, we had made such progress. Who, under such circumstances, could say that this Confederation had not been successful? In this measure we were completing the territorial element for which protective provision had been made in the Act of Confederation. He would not go into the whole history of the negotiations in England, as all the facts were known to the House. He might explain, however, the reason why he and his colleague had been detained so long in conducting these negotiations. They had been entered upon with the late Government, and when the change of Government took place, they had to be commenced again from the beginning. He thought any one acquainted with the facts would admit that he and his colleague had not unnecessarily delayed the proceedings. The severe illness which nearly proved fatal to his colleague, aggrieved by intelligence of the fatal illness of the being dearest to him in life, was another cause of delay. What they had succeeded in achieving, however, he was sure would redound to the prosperity of this country, and the country should be especially 482 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 grateful to his colleague, who had done his work and done it well, under the most trying circumstances. The agreement entered into resolved itself into two principal points as regarded what Canada had to pay for the acquisition of the North-West Territory; the first being a money payment of £300,000, and the second a reserve to the Company of one- twentieth of the land in the Fertile Belt. The other points were matters of detail. The member for Chateauguay had declared that Canada had got the worst of the bargain. He challenged the hon. gentleman to make good that assertion in the course of this debate, and to criticise freely the arrangement made in all its details. Some misconceptions had in the first instance arisen from certain hostile criticisms in the press; but these had very much disappeared in consequence of the explanation given by himself and his colleague since their return to Canada. He was prepared to contend that this agreement gave us the territory on more favourable terms than those on which we would have acquired it had the address of last session been carried out. Under that address we would have got the sovereignty of country without territory. Under this arrangement we get both, on making a moderate money payment. That payment of £300,000 raised on Imperial Guarantee at 3½ per cent interest, with a sinking fund to extinguish the debt in 45 years would not involve a charge of more than £13,000 or £14,000 a year, while on the other hand we would get customs dues of nearly that amount. Sir Curtis Lampson the Deputy Governor of the Company, had stated that they were willing to pay £10,000 a year in commutation of customs dues. For this trifling amount we secured this immense territory. The question arose what should we do with it? Should we at once commence a railway through the territory, or should we be satisfied with Provincial work which would furnish the necessary summer communication? That question was not at present before the House and he merely referred to it for the purpose of saying that whether we decided on a railway or provisional communication, we had acquired means sufficient to accomplish either object, as it was well known that the United States had built their Pacific Railway by grants of lands along the line. He proceeded to refer to the increase our credit had received in the money markets in the world. The Dominion of Canada was now as well known as the United States, and it was known that we intended to be great. He did not mean that we were to be independent. All our dependence now, consisted in England giving us a Governor General, and he was 483 willing that we should remain dependent to that extent. He was willing that we should remain under the protection of the British Navy. If we were independent we would require to have a navy of our own, but so long as we enjoyed the protection of a navy for nothing at all, we would not ask that we should be free from our present dependence. As regarded then the money payment, he did not think any one would say the bargain was hard for Canada. He would come now to the reserve of lands.
Hon. Mr. Holton: Hear, hear.
Sir George E. Cartier was not surprised to hear the interruptions of the member for Chateauguay. He supposed the hon. gentleman was to build up a great argument against that, and to refer to the Clergy Reserves of Upper Canada as having obstructed the progress of the country. The arrangements made here were very different from those with regard to the Clergy Reserves. Suppose the fertile Belt contained forty millions of acres, the reserve to the Company of one twentieth would be two million acres, spread here and there, subject to municipal taxation, for roads and other improvements, and belonging to a Company whose interest it would be to settle the reserved lots as soon as possible, and to have the other lands also settled, in order that the reserved lots might have as much value as possible. It had been objected that the corporate rights of the Hudson's Bay Company should not be continued. He thought it was for the interest of the country that those rights should be continued. The number of Indians in the territory was very great. Sir George Simpson had estimated the number at half a million souls. Governor Mactavish thought this estimate was exaggerated, but believed the number would be from 180,000 to 200,000. These Indians had been dependent on the Company for employment and if this were suddenly interfered with the results might be disastrous. The officers of the Company had shown a creditable regard for the welfare of the Indians and had, as stated by the delegates, to see that a law was passed which would prevent the sale of liquor to the Indians. He had answered them that we already had a law which would have that effect. He went on to say that we had a great future before us. We had already a population nearly half as great as that of the States of New York, Pennsylvania and the New England States combined, and our population was increasing more rapidly than theirs. Bos484 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 ton had, in a large measure, lost the sea trade, and was not growing. The population of New England was hardly increasing at all. The population of the State of New York, outside the city, was not increasing. Pennsylvania was almost at a stand still. The Provinces at present embraced in the Confederation could maintain as large a population as the States ever had maintained; but what we wanted hitherto had been the prairie element. Under the measure now submitted we would have that element. We would have, like the United States a great West, and he did not doubt that after ten years the census would show that we were increasing in a greater ratio than even the United States as a whole.
After recess,


On motion of Mr. Langlois, the Bill to amend the Act respecting Pilots for below the harbour of Quebec was read a third time and passed.
On motion of Hon. Mr. Holton, the Bill to amend the Act incorporating the Canadian and British Telegraph Company was read a second time. Considered in Committee of the Whole and read a third time and passed.


Sir George E. Cartier resumed his remarks on the North-West resolutions. He said for the last 15 or 20 years the principal increase of population of the United States had been in the Western States. Within a few months we would be in possession of a prairie territory equal to that of the United States, and as the people of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, were a population of producing people, their natural increase would rapidly fill up our western territory. We might look very soon for the admission of Newfoundland. British Columbia was ready to come in, therefore, with the acquisition of the North West. We might say we had completed our territorial organization. Who could foretell the future before us? Was it too much to expect that in ten years we would have doubled our population from natural increase? and taking into account the immigration that would be attracted, we might in ten years be a population of ten millions. The increase of trade would be correspondingly vast. Then we would have an increase to the maritime ele485ment by the addition to the Confederation of British Columbia and Vancouver's Island. We had heard lately the great boast of our neighbours over the completion of their Pacific Railway, which was 3,400 miles from the Pacific to New York. When our Confederation was complete, British capitalists would probably turn their attention to bringing to England the trades of the east by a railway through British territory, which from the Pacific to Quebec would be only 2,200 miles in length—a saving of 1,200 miles, as compared with the Pacific Line just opened. With this great territory at our disposal, it would be a matter for us to consider whether we should not devote a portion of it to encourage capitalists to undertake that railway. He did not say what was the policy of the Government on that matter. They had not yet adopted a policy with regard to it. But so soon as this address was passed, the Government would introduce a measure to establish a Provincial Government in that great country, as the English Government might issue the proclamation giving effect to our address before this Parliament met again. It was important that not a month or day should be lost, after the territory became ours, in organizing a Government and having the lands surveyed, and their character made known throughout this country and Europe. It was a consoling idea to himself and the member for Lambton, if not to the President of the Council, that very soon all that was contemplated by the British America Act would be accomplished. He did not think it likely that any more would be heard about annexation. If it were possible to conceive such a thing brought about, all the money we collected here for the benefit and support of the Dominion Government, and to pay the subsidies to the different Provinces, would be sent to Washington to be jobbed away there; and he hoped we would hear no more about independence either, for independence was merely a project to serve as a cover to annexation. He had been called an enemy to the acquisition of the North West Territory. This was not the case. All he had opposed was its being annexed to Upper Canada. He believed he had now the support of all his hon. friends from Quebec, in going heartily for acquiring that territory. In conclusion, he stated that he had made a mistake, the other day, in announcing that there was some despatches which had not been brought down. He found that they had all been laid before the House. The gallant baronet resumed his seat amidst cheers, having spoken for an hour and a half.
486 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869
Hon. Mr. McDougall, in seconding the resolutions, said it was unnecessary now to go over the history of this question. The only point now to be considered was whether the terms and conditions which had been agreed upon in England were terms and conditions which this Parliament and the country ought to oppose. The member for Chateauguay had stated that the delegates from Canada had been outwitted in the bargain. It was for the House to consider whether that was the fact. He freely admitted that he had been strongly of the opinion, that the position maintained by the various governments of Canada was correct, that the Hudson's Bay Co. has no such right or property in the country we desired to obtain, as would justify their demanding a money consideration for them. It could not be denied, however, that in Ruperts Land, they had rights which would have been recognized in the courts of England. All these rights of a proprietary character were extinguished by this agreement. They would still exist as a trading company, but would have no proprietary rights. He considered that if we had paid ÂŁ300,000 to extinguish the proprietary and governing rights of the Company in Ruperts Land alone, it would have been well expended, inasmuch as it was of great importance to us that there should be nobody possessing a separate governing jurisdiction between us and the Arctic Ocean. It should be remembered too that we would have a valuable equivalent in the custom duties which would be received. He had seen it estimated, looking to the quality of goods imported for a series of years, that the Hudson's Bay Company would have to pay annually ÂŁ30,000.
Hon. Mr. Holton —The Minister of Militia stated it at £10,000.
Hon. Mr. McDougall said the interest would have to be paid at 4 p. c. on ÂŁ100,000. The custom duties received would be say, ÂŁ20,000. The deputy-Governor of the Company has stated his willingness to commute it for ÂŁ10,000. He knew that the great difficulty with Sir Stafford Northcote and Sir Curtis Lampson was to convince their shareholders that they were not losers by the transaction.
Hon. Mr. Holton—How did they do it if your figures are correct.
Hon. Mr. McDougall said the hon. gentleman would find out if he read the reports in newspapers.
Hon. Mr. Galt—Perhaps Earl Granville had something to do in convincing them.
Hon. Mr. McDougall thought it probable that Earl Granville's persuasive eloquence had something to do with it. As regards the reserve of one-twentieth of the land, he believed it would be a great advantage to us to have a great company like this with a direct interest in the development and improvement of the country. This would be a great advantage to us if for example we had to go into the money market to borrow money for improving the Territory. One-twentieth was after all a small proportion of the land as compared with one-seventh reserved for the Clergy of Upper Canada, and which had undoubtedly been an obstacle to the improvement of the Country. It had been arranged also through the efforts of the delegates, that the reserved lands should be subject to taxation from the outset, which was a very important difference from the Clergy Reserve arrangement. The Hudson's Bay Company would occupy a very different relation towards Canada from what they had hitherto done. Formerly their interest had been to keep settlers out of the Country, their interests were in all respects adverse to those of Canada. Now their interests would be the same as ours, and they would heartily co-operate with us. We would find this a great advantage in the management of the Indians. In the United States the Government of the Indians was a source of great difficulty: it was said they cost the Government on an average $50 a head; but with the co-operation of the Hudson's Bay Company under whose influence the Indians had grown up, and whose agencies were scattered all through the country, we would find ourselves advantageously situated in this respect. A short Indian war would probably cost us a great deal more than the whole sum would were we to pay for the territory. The next question, and the practical one we had to deal with, was what we were to do in the way of developing the territory. There had been laid on the desks of members today the last report by Mr. Dawson on this subject. He (Mr. McDougall) considered the first thing we had to do was to fill up the gaps in the fine chain of water communication between Lake Superior and Fort Garry. He had observed that some parties had been organizing companies, with the view of undertaking railway communication at once. He thought, however, on a close examination of the features of the country, it would be discovered that, if there was on this continent any portion of the country through which it would be exceedingly difficult to run a railway, it 488 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 was this country lying between Lake Superior and Fort Garry. It was a country of lakes, and it would occasionally be necessary to deviate 30 or 40 miles from a straight line to avoid these lakes. Until, therefore, the country was better explored, and it was seen whether, as reported by the Indians, a level country was to be found farther to the north, the Government would be disposed to go on with the improvements already begun. It would be observed from Mr. Dawson's report that last year's exploration had resulted in the discovery of a route twenty miles shorter than the Dog Lake route formerly explored. The Government had assumed the responsibility of the appropriation of a sum of money for the relief of the distress of the Red River Settlement, and the amount thus appropriated having been expended in giving employment on a portion of the road from Fort Garry to Lake of the Woods,—35 miles, or one-third of the whole, had already been completed. If the House granted the necessary funds, he hoped that by another season there would be a line of wagon roads and water communication from the head of Lake Superior to Fort Garry quite practicable for conveying emigrants. It had been found that water communication was the best and cheapest for conveying emigrants, and also for a large proportion of the goods that would be taken west. In illustration of this proposition, he quoted a statement by Mr. Hatch, showing that by the Erie Canal alone, as compared with railway communication, there had been effected a saving annually to the great consuming classes of the West of $36,800,000. He might mention, as showing what was thought among the monied men of New York, of the capabilities of the territory he had now acquired, that no sooner was it known there that this territory was about to pass from the Hudson's Bay Company into the hands of Canada, than steps were taken to push on immediately the railway from the head of Lake Superior to St. Paul. Some three or four millions of bonds for this purpose had been sold in the New York market, showing the confidence the public had in the value of railways in that section from the trade that would spring up in the settlement of the interior country. It was unnecessary to dwell on the importance of this acquisition to the people of Canada. We had passed that period. It was manifest, however, we had obtained a great inheritance. The facts regarding its value were well stated in Mr. Russell's recent work. Canada, with this country added to it, would be equal to the extent of Russia in Europe, which sustained 489 sixty-nine millions of people. To fill up, and organize and develop, and govern such a country would give scope and employment enough for all our skill and energies. The utmost anxiety had been shown by the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Granville, and other British Ministers to obtain for Canada on terms which would not be burdensome to us, the control and management of the territory, and it was evident that so soon as the transfer was made there would be in the mother country a strong desire on the part of those who wished to better their condition to emigrate to Canada, with the view of proceeding to the North-West, and there finding new homes under the shelter of British institutions. That desire already existed, and it would be very much increased when it became known that we had taken posssession of the country and organized a suitable Government over it. He considered we were now on the eve of obtaining the great objects we had in contemplation. When the Coalition Government of 1864 was formed the Minister of Militia had informed the House that there was at that time a prospect of securing the admission of Newfoundland. We knew that British Columbia was only waiting the settlement of the question with regard to the Northwest territory, to ask admission also; so that we might look forward to having our Confederacy extend in a short time from ocean to ocean, as was contemplated in the Quebec resolutions. At the time of the Toronto Convention, he (Mr. McDougall) was subjected to a good deal of unpleasant comments from his former political friends, the member for Lambton and others, for having resolved to maintain his position in the Government until the work they had undertaken was completed. He recollected the sneer with which the acquisition of the North West was referred to, as if it would take many years to bring that about, and as if he made the completion of the work merely an excuse for remaining in office. He was proud to believe that they were now on the eve of the completion of that work, and that it would be entirely completed before this Government, in its present form, was dissolved. Only when it was so completed would he feel that he had accomplished the work which he set about in 1864; and all the assaults made on him would fall harmless in presence of the fact that they had achieved a successful result in finishing the great work they had then undertaken.
Mr. Mackenzie said that looking at the particular point as to whether it was better to accept such terms or continue an almost in490 COMMONS DEBATESMay 28, 1869 erminable negotiation, he thought it a wise step to close up the matter at once. He had never doubted that the Hudson's Bay Company had territorial rights in certain sections. But on the other hand he never had any doubt that they had no territorial rights in any portion of the territory likely to become valuable to this country. He dissented altogether from the view expressed by the Minister of Public Works, who considered the payment of one million and a half net a large sum to get possession of all the North Saskatchewan Valley, Hudson's Bay and whatever portion of Labrador the Company had. There was one matter which the delegates ought to have insisted on more strongly. From Sir Stafford Northcote's letter it was easily to be inferred that he thought the claim of the Company to the fertile Belt could not be maintained, and he could not conceive why, under the circumstances, the delegates should have assented to the Company's getting one- twentieth of this fertile tract to which they could maintain no title. He observed too, that the Canadian delegates in their note conveying the acceptance of the terms offered require that the proposal should be accepted pure and simple as submitted by Earl Granville, but the hon. gentleman subsequently accepted a modification of these terms, which was, in his (Mr. Mackenzie's) opinion, very objectionable. By Earl Granville's letter the North Saskatchewan was made the boundary of the fertile belt in which the Company might choose lands; but our delegates agreed to allow the Company to choose their one-twentieth on the north instead of the south branch of the Saskatchewan. The best portion of the land being on the north branch, it would be seen that the Company would in this instance make a most profitable exchange. Then, again, the delegates most unwisely agreed to the proposition that the townships to be formed on the north branch should not extend to a greater depth than five miles. In that case, the Company could obtain their twentieth within five miles of the river, while the settlers would have to go beyond the five miles, and allow the Company's land to be in front. The Company ought to have been bound to accept their one-twentieth in every section of the survey, no matter how far north it extended. Again, another condition agreed to was that no taxation should be imposed for a period of 10 years on the Company's land. In this way it was agreed that the Company should not be bound to select their twentieth till the expiration of ten years, and during that period they would have the right to withhold the taxes from the municipalities which might be formed.
Hon. Mr. McDougall explained that according to Article 6, it would be observed that the Company might defer the exercise of this for ten years, but they did so subject to the condition that they must take their land from that remaining unsold at the time. What would be the result? Sooner than wait till the best of the land had been taken up by the shrewd agents in the country, the Hudson's Bay Company would select their land in the townships as soon as they were laid out.
Mr. Mackenzie knew that the saving clause alluded to was in; but why should this agreement have been made at all? Who proposed it? Did not the Company? Why should they do so, if it were no advantage to them?
Hon. Mr. McDougall said that the Company proposed an arrangement by which they hoped to escape taxation for ten years, but the delegates would not agree to it.
Mr. Mackenzie merely desired to point out these things as blemishes which might have been avoided. With regard to the settlement of the country, that was a matter so exceedingly desirable that he felt disposed to aid the Government in every way in order to accomplish it. (Cheers.) He considered that it would be impracticable to pour a large body of emigrants into that country at once, taking into account the lands to be occupied yet in Canada. But it was always possible to send a vast tide of emigration to these great prairies. If we are to succeed in populating half the continent by emigration from the Old World, as is contemplated in this scheme, it must be done by opening, as speedily as possible, a road whereby emigrants can reach the North West by way of the head of Lake Superior. With our population and country, he believed it would be impossible to absorb more than a certain proportion every year, until we reached that country; but once having reached that point, he believed we would be able to fill up as fast as the territories were filled up by our Republican neighbours. The hon. gentleman proceeded to allude to the numbers leaving Canada annually—the surplusage of their population and expressed the belief that they would as soon as a road were opened go to people this great North West. As to a railroad to that section, it was not, as the Commissioner thought, impracticable, for he (Mr. Mackenzie) believed a good line might be constructed along the Ottawa Valley and behind the dividing ridge to the Lake Superior section and thence to Fort Garry. (Hear, hear.) He looked upon the acquisition of this territory as one of the most important transactions affecting 492 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 the Dominion at present, and trusted within a very few years to see thousands pour into this territory. With regard to the opening of the road, he alluded to the fact that the vermillion gold fields bordered on the river St. Francis and that the whole territory was rich in mineral wealth. It was none of his business he said to allude to the success of the mission of their delegates to England. Indeed the Minister of Militia himself has said all that need be said on the question, (laughter), but he (Mr. Mackenzie) would state with pleasure that the documents in which these hon. gentlemen replied to the Company's pretensions were masterly productions. (Hear, hear.) One very noticeable omission had been made by the Minister of Militia in speaking on this theme. In his review of the history of this question for the past ten or twelve years, he (Mr. Mackenzie) did expect to have heard some allusion to the services of the Hon. George Brown. He (Mr. Mackenzie) could not let the occasion pass without alluding to this old political friend, Mr. Brown, as one who had labored zealously and effectively to advance the open- up of this territory. (Hear, hear.) The hon. gentleman went on to express his regret that the Government had not announced any scheme of Government for this North West, but left it to the last moment. (Cheers.) However, even as it was he was disposed to sustain the arguments rather than protract the negotiations interminably.
Hon. Mr. Galt desired to say a few words on the motion before the chair. When the extent of the territory was considered, its population and the vast influence it must exercise on our future, the bargain was in reality a good one. Ten times the habitable part of Canada only represented a portion of that land. The fertile belt and its resources were as great as its area was extensive. The whole question of its boundary was a very doubtful one, and it was very important that all questions of territorial rights should be set at rest: but he would add that the Imperial Government ought to have extinguished the Hudson's Bay Company claim, and borne so much of the preliminary expense attendant on its settlement and organization. But they had not chosen to do so, and we were to close up this matter at once. This cession of territory opens up a new field of duty to us. We have to open up communications with the territory, organize a government, establish law and order, and extinguish Indian titles. To provide for all this, unquestionably we must prepare ourselves for additional taxation, or else the Ministry, as we hinted at, must come with a larger, broader measure for opening up communication with 493 that country and developing it. This latter was unquestionably the best course to his mind; and to his mind such burdens were a fair charge on posterity, and should not be met by direct taxation. As to railway connection, he could not see why that by way of St. Paul should not be used in preference to constructing a very costly and roundabout line through our own country. He could not see any more objection to our people using such a route, than to their coming into Canada, via Portland.
Mr. Grant: I am sure we only express the unanimous feeling of this House, when I say that we have listened with very great interest to the present debate. The hon. gentlemen who have entered so lively into this discussion, are veterans in such matters, and as a junior member I would claim the indulgence of this House, while taking part in the debate. After the able and well-timed articles on the subject of the "Northwest Territory," which have eliminated from the various Dominion journals of all shades of politics, it is not my intention to occupy the valuable time of this House by any lengthened remarks. As the subject is by far the most important which has turned up for consideration for many years past, I feel it a duty to my constituents to offer a few observations. Step by step since the first inauguration of the principles of Confederation, we have thus far, through considerable trials and difficulties, been enabled to trace the progress of Union on this British North American continent. The historic details of this Northwest Territory, so long in questio vexata from the charter of Charles II to the present time, including the various treaties of St. Germain, Ryswick, Utrecht, and treaty of Paris, the whole subject of transference and boundary has been so well and ably defined by our delegates, Sir George E. Cartier and Hon. Wm. McDougall. No point of interest appears to have escaped their close scrutiny and searching enquiry. As the result of their labours, we are in possession of the terms of Lord Granville, concerning this territory, and now the grave and all important question arises for discussion—Are we to accept his terms? As in all ordinary matters of sale, we naturally are led to enquire into the conditions of the bargain, so with this large estate, and prior to forming a correct estimate, several particulars must of necessity occupy the consideration of every person interested in the future of British North America. The enquiries which crop out seriatim, 494 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 are as to the physical character of this country; its resources; climate; agricultural and commercial advantages. In spite of the disparaging accounts of Mr. Ellice and others, and the unfavourable impression so industriously disseminated by the agents of the Hudson Bay Company, as to the territory being sterile, ice bound, unfit for colonization, and the support of human beings, we must acknowledge, however, from overwhelming authority, that the North West Territory is a grand estate, larger than most kingdoms, the very cream of which is larger than England and Wales together, and as nature in her march from east to west showered her treasures on the land of the United States, until she reached the Mississippi, so there she turned aside to favour British territory in a direction northward. As in the West, so in the North West, the country, in short terms, is a beautiful combination of rich prairies and woods of rolling hills and undulating valleys, of meadows, lakes and streams. The slow progress of this country as to settlement has led to most erroneous impressions in this respect. This is self-evident in tracing the process of colonization from its first inception under Lord Selkirk, in 1812, to the present time. Grand centres for fur trading occupied the entire attention, to the detriment of agriculture and outside commerce. As time rolled on this primitive settlement increased in importance, and necessity rendered an outlet by land indispensable. American enterprise, ever on the alert, forwarded speedily a pioneer emigration northwards into Minnesota, to St. Paul, at the head of the Mississippi, from which point a road was formed to Fort Garry, over which the great portion of both the import and export trade is obliged to pass at even the present time. Not many years ago a trade was carried on with Montreal for the supply of the various articles of life, but even this soon subsided on the opening up of St. Paul; however, more recently, it is satisfactory to know, it is again being revived. The present population of the colony is about 15,000 or 20,000, and its trade is increasing each year, amounting in 1867 to about $2,000,000. However, even this trade is tending at present more towards the United States than Canada. As certain evidence of this fact the importation of British manufactured goods, which in 1860 amounted to £79,937, decreased in 1864 (with increased growth of the settlement) to £65,081, while the imports of the same in Canada had increased in the same period from £2,137,827 to £3,065,254. A trade so important to this country at present, for many reasons, should be worth the effort to be obtained. Even at present our American 495 neighbours lose no opportunity of securing a trade which they no doubt hope may, in course of time, strengthen their position on the confines of the fertile plains of this North west country. Those who have visited the valleys of Red River and the Saskatchewan, (known as the Winnipeg Basin) state that there is a country, lying between Canada and the Rocky Mountains, (400,000 square miles in all) well suited for agricultural purposes, and more than sufficient to support the entire population of the American Union, if cultivated in accordance with agricultural principles of the present day. From geological descriptions the soil is described as generally composed of soft materials, overlaid with a rich vegetable mould, varying from a few inches to several feet in thickness, and resembling very much in structure and quality the south of England, from Devonshire to Sussex and Kent. Where the country is not available for agricultural purposes it abounds in mineral wealth, such as iron, copper, gold and coal, &c. Professor Hind, who, by order of the Government, in 1858, explored and surveyed a great portion of this country, states that the fertile belt of the Saskatchewan contains 32,000,000 acres of the richest soil. Capt. Palliser, Dr. Hector, M. Bourgeau and various other scientific explorers, have described this country as being partially wooded, abounding in lakes and rich natural pasturage lands, and in many parts rivalling the finest park scenery of England; and Dr. King in 1857 when asked his opinion before the House of Commons in England, stated that near Cumberland House the growth of wheat was quite successful, so also potatoes and barley, and as for pigs, cows and horses it was sufficient to say that they flourished. Of the latter the able description given by the hon. member for Algoma is in itself ample evidence as to the productiveness of the plains. As to the growth of wild hay Mr. James W. Taylor, of St. Paul, Minnesota, appointed by the United States Government in 1861 to report on the commercial relations between the United States and the Districts of Central British America, extending from Canada to the Rocky Mountains, affords much valuable information as to the fertility and productiveness of this country. Referring to the country within the above limits, he estimates that there is an inhabitated area of 300,000 square miles, an area that would constitute "12 States of the size of Ohio." Having carefully examined the reports of the various districts comprising this area much valuable information is obtained as to soil, productiveness, geological formation and climate. Vancouver's Island is shown to have in a measure 496 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 the climate of Ireland, while the Southern districts of British Columbia are not unlike England. The north shore of Lake Huron has the mean summer heat of Bordeaux in Southern France and Cumberland house on the Saskatchewan exceeds in this respect Brussels or Paris, while the prairies south of 55° have much milder winters than the more eastern districts. From well ascertained facts Mr. Taylor states that potatoes and the hardier garden vegetables, oats, rye, and barley can be profitably cultivated as far north as 54° in the Saskatchewan district, that wheat and various kinds of fruit are safe as far as 52° and maize to latitude 50°. There is but one opinion expressed by all explorers—British and American—as to the general productiveness of the soil. The Red River Valley is by far the oldest part of the Winnipeg basin and its annual mean temperature is 34°—that of Montreal being 42°. The summer mean is 68°, and exceeds that of Toronto which is only 64°, in fact it exceeds even that of Northern Illinois, Western Wisconsin, and Western Ontario, and on that account, affords an ample supply of summer heat to ripen the various cereals.
Red River produces 40 bs. of wheat to the acre.
Minnesota, " 20 " " "
Wisconsin, " 15 " " "
Pennsylvania, " 15 " " "
Massachusetts, " 16 " " "
In Red River barley is a favourable alternate of wheat, and gives excellent returns—the average weight of each bushel being from 48 to 55 pounds. Oats and potatoes also thrive admirably, and Taylor gives his firm expression to the idea, "that in none of the prairie districts of North America are the native grasses so abundant and nutritious as in these northern valleys." Doubtless there are occasional periodical inundations in that region of country where the Saskatchewan joins the lakes; however, this applies only to a limited extent of country, which, like the plains of Egypt on either side of the Nile will become centres of increased fertility. According to Mr. Russell's report, the extent of cultivated land stretches over an area two and a half times as large as France, which supports 40,000,000 of people, and the cost to Canada at £300,000, which would amount to something less than half a cent per acre. The fertility of the Western States is proverbial ——and of these Minnesota is the youngest and farthest north, and has made the most rapid strides. So great has been the prosperity and growth of this State, that although it was only organized into a territory just 20 497 years ago with between four and five thousand inhabitants, it was admitted as a State ten years ago, with a population of more than 200,000 inhabitants. During the late war, from this State alone, 15,000 soldiers went into the field, and paying besides a war tax, which, in 1864, amounted to upwards of $38,000,000, and the value of land has risen frmo $1 an acre to nearly $6 on an average. All this prosperity has taken place on the very borders of the Hudson's Bay Territory. North of the boundary line, from Canada to British Columbia, is a continuation of the glorious country which is the pride of Minnesota, and under a stable form of government there is no reason why the same degree of prosperity, or even more, may not be developed in the landed country of the Northwest. Mr. Dawson says the climate of Red River will compare generally with that of Kingston, Ont. In 1858 the ice moved in Red River on the 3lst March, and ploughing was commenced on the 9th of April. Average depth of snow on prairies is 12 inches, and in the woods 16 inches. The buffalo are said to winter in the upper Athabasca as safely as at St. Paul's, Minnesota, and the spring opens at nearly the same time, along the immense line of plains, from St. Paul to the Mackenzie river.


Mr. Dawson, on the latest authority, says that the woody districts contain abundance of timber—red and white pine, of large and good quality, and such districts would compare favourably with some of the best lumber regions of the Ottawa. Of peat, for fuel, the supply is enough or more; and, as for coal, it is described as being inexhaustible in supply. Salt, gypsum, and bitumen are known to exist 498 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 in large quantities. When this country has been thoroughly explored, we are led to believe that it will develope vast resources, conductive to wealth, comfort, and happiness, and that such will be the result of government—guiding and ruling that population, which will, in course of time, occupy and settle this vast country.


That the native tribes have diminished in numbers during the past two centuries is without doubt, though there is some difficulty of agreement amongst travellers and others as to the exact causes. On this point no particular benefit can arise from speculation, and, concording the fact, the question arises, how is it best to treat with Indians whenever their rights of property will interfere with the opening up of the country, whether merely for roads of approach or for actual settlement? It is true that the Hudson Bay Company have not hesitated to take whatever lands they required, unasked and unmolested, their interests not being inimical to those of the Indians. Under the Government of this Dominion, and with the system of free grants of lands, agricultural and mineral, a new state of things thus inaugurated will require, and doubtless receive, a wise and judicious course of action. That the Indians consider themselves "Lords of the Soil," is evident from the reports of Mr. Dawson and others. This will also, no doubt, form one of the primary considerations of Government. So long as the operations are confined to providing access to Red River and the adjacent country, no great difficulty will likely arise in dealing with the Indians, who have already signified their willingness to grant a right of way. However, with a view of protecting those who may be attracted to this rich and fertile region, in search of either mineral or agricultural wealth, a large and comprehensive treaty will be found necessary. Of the accuracy of this statement, both Canada and the United States have precedents in previous treaties.


In becoming possessors of the Northwest region it is of considerable importance to have easy and rapid means of access to it, otherwise the whole scheme of occupation and colonization would be of little practical utility. So far there are but three routes by which the settlement of Red River can be ap499proached. 1st. The old route of the Hudson's Bay Company, via Fort York, on the Hudson's Bay, which, owing to the short period of open navigation, is limited to once a year travel. 2nd. The route, via Lake Superior, open on the average about 7 months in summer and autumn. 3rd. The route through the United States, via St. Paul, open the whole year. For practical purposes the first may be considered as requiring no discussion. The other two, however, are worthy of the closest investigation. Taking Toronto as a starting point, we find that the route to Fort Garry, Red River, via Lake Superior, is 1,069 miles, while between the same points, via the United States and St. Paul, the distance is 1,572 miles. Here we have a direct route through our own country to commence with, and by water communication of 839 miles. This route will afford the cheapest mode of transport known for fully three-fourths of the distance. To the great saving of time and cost in furnishing the Red River District with supplies, must be added the difference between the cheap markets of Canada, and the dear markets of the United States, and with prohibitory and protective tariffs. To Canadian merchants a good market will here be secured, not only to the settlers in British territory, but also a share of the trade will thus inevitably be secured in the United States settlements of Northern Minnesota, and thus we will be enabled to return the compliment by a reaction in an opposite direction to that practised on our trade in this northwest country for many years past.
At present, according to the most reliable information, the trade of Red River is estimated at four millions of dollars annually in St. Paul, while the Hudson Bay traflic, via York Factory, cannot be less than two millions of dollars.


The expense of conveying a ton of goods to Red River at present, via Fort William, or St. Paul, is from $90 to $100. By a moderate outlay, Mr. Dawson has estimated that this cost can be easily reduced to $40 per ton, and the time to one quarter of that consumed at present. From Red River settlement eastward, there is a navigable water channel to the foot of the Rocky Mountains; while the natural surface of the prairies for hundreds of miles permits the easy passage of waggons, even without artificial road making. It appears to me that the formal acquisition of this Northwest Territory is the great question of the day with the Dominion, and when we become possessors of it in order that this coun500 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 try should flourish, it must offer a fairer field for the emigrants than the one of older date alongside. With this territory under our control, we will be enabled to offer greater inducements to the emigrant than at any previous time in the history of the country. In taking possession of this vast estate, a broad and a liberal policy is requisite. The distance of the fertile belt of this rich country from Canada, proper renders it somewhat difficult of access and at whatever period we desire to open up and colonize the country, rapid means of communication must, as a necessary consequence, be obtained. If this vast territory is worth purchasing, it is also worth having a communication with—and that without loss of time. Money invested so as to yield an adequate return, must have a solid project to back up the expenditures. Our American neighbours have just completed the Pacific Railroad, in itself the great marvel of the age —next to the Atlantic telegraph. The enterprise is truly characteristic of the time. It was a question of sublime audacity whoever thought it possible to lay down thousands of miles of track, climbing mountains 8,000 feet high, leaping gorges, and causing the Atlantic and Pacific shores to join in an iron bond of Union. Whoever first conceived the idea ranks with a Watt, a Stevenson, and a Brunel. In 1850 there only 9,000 miles of road in that country, and at present there are 60,000 miles. Men are not now content with the old way of accomplishing things. The Pacific Railroad is a specimen of the new and bolder system that now prevails. Man's intellectual power is gaining increased strength, so as to correspond with the magnitude of modern improvements. When the Italian masters flourished, literature had its periods of dazzling brightness, such as the Elizabethian age. Today is the period of grand conception and enterprises; and we Dominionists should feel proud of this age in which we live. The protracted life of ancient times did not enable man to know even as much as is now accomplished in a limited life time. To turn, however, to our own soil, we here in Ottawa, are geographically and politically in the very heart of the world, equidistant from Europe on the one side, and Asia on the other; and the reasons why we should, and must, in the course of time, have a Pacific road of our own, are self-evident. It is all very well to theorise upon the point; but the fact is we cannot afford to have our right flank enveloped by the extending lines of the neighbouring country. If we can do like the Americans, in the construction of the Pacific railway, utilize our domain, the time is not far distant when we may have a Canadian 501 or Dominion railway, otherwise the great trade results of the Far West will flow south of Lake Michigan to the Atlantic. A railway from Montreal, passing through the valley of the Ottawa—the route which nature has marked out, and north of Lake Huron, to Vancouver—would give us a Canadian Atlantic seaport, hundreds of miles nearer the Pacific, with easier grades and numerous other advantages over any route the Americans can adopt. Some time may, doubtless, elapse prior to the construction of so stupendous a work, but I am satisfied that the Government of this country will adopt a liberal and an enlightened policy in the acquisition of the North West Territory, so that it may not burden the people of the Dominion too heavily with taxation, and in order to accomplish such, the railway and the territory co-operatively can alone contribute to the future strength, wealth, and prosperity of the Dominion.
Hon. Mr. Connell addressed the House at considerable length. The question before them was undoubtedly one of the very greatest importance to the Dominion. It was a question not merely of accession of territory, but one which must for weal or woe affect the destinies of the Dominion for all time to come (hear, hear). During the last session he had objected to the course pursued by the Government in this matter, on somewhat similar grounds to those more recently alluded to by the hon. member for Sherbrooke,——that this territory should be purchased by the Imperial, and not the Dominion authorities,—if purchased at all. And he had also objected, because the people of New Brunswick did not understand, at Confederation, that any such purchase was needed. Not merely in New Brunswick, but in Nova Scotia the people were led to believe by the public men of Canada that this territory belonged to Canada; and, speaking as a representative from New Brunswick, he was well aware that the action of the Ministry in bringing down a measure authorizing them to purchase this territory, was altogether unexpected by the people of his Province. He had carefully looked over the records connected with this Hudson Bay Territory, and had long ago come to the conclusion that the company had rights to a portion of that territory—the northern or fur-bearing section; but that the other por502 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 tion, the fertile belt, belonged to Canada, (hear, hear). Hon. gentlemen would see that in sanctioning the resolutions before the House they assumed a great deal of responsibility. But they had now virtually assumed that responsibility, and must see to it that they made their position a good one. He could easily see that in passing these resolutions we might, in some respects, be only doing that which would prove a benefit to the United States. Once we had acquired the Northwest, unless we took proper steps to open it up, and organize it, we would, as he had said, benefit our neighbours across the line, and not ourselves. But he sincerely hoped another course of action would be taken. It certainly behooved us to be very careful, now that we were assuming responsibilities of the greatest magnitude. We had passed the Intercolonial Rail- Way Loan—had voted $50,000 annually to the Governor-General—and there was undoubtedly some ground for apprehending that if we continued on as we had been doing for the past two years, we would inevitably find ourselves in the condition recently alluded to by the Minister of Militia, of having to resort to direct taxation in order to meet our engagements (hear, hear). That was an evil which threatened us in the future, and from which he saw but one way of escape, and that was by assisting, as far as practicable, in promoting public works for the benefit of the Dominion (hear, hear). If this Dominion is ever to be prosperous, beyond all question we must bring our energies to bear in organising a system of public improvements. With a well- planned system, such as this, we can hope to draw amongst us, and provide for, thousands of the over-crowded populations of Europe. But without it, we can do nothing. We have fertile lands almost boundless in extent, but unless we can promote their settlement, they are worse than useless to us. What he wanted to impress on the House was this. We are now about to acquire a vast domain in the Northwest, and we must at once take measures to open it up. Let there be communication by a railway or some other means, but let the matter be set about promptly. The interests of the people of New Brunswick were not so immediately bound up with the acquisition and development of this territory, as were those of the people in the west. But he felt that if this Dominion was ever to be anything, it must be by acting as a united people, who sought earnestly the development, not of a section merely, but of the whole country (cheers). And in this particular instance they had a very heavy stake in following out the course he alluded to. If this North West Territory were only 503 half as rich as it was described to be, not merely by the Hon. the Minister of Militia and Minister of Public Works and others, but by almost every writer who had described it, the Dominion had, indeed, made a most advantageous bargain. But, as he had said, to make the bargain valuable, immediate steps must be taken to secure the opening up of that region. Another point of considerable importance had reference to the treatment of the Indians in this territory. If their title were not fairly extinguished, and efficient steps taken to secure the peace of that section, it was to be feared that with the advance of civilization there would be a repetition of those horrible scenes of rapine and butchery which had marked frontier life in the Western States. Now, this must by all means be avoided. Not only must the country be settled, but the settlers must be protected at the public expense in some way or other (cheers). To show that he had long held these views, the hon. gentleman quoted from some of his speeches in 1865, at the time of the first Confederation campaign. The country he represented was one of the first which carried a vote in favour of Confederation. He thought it an honour they had taken that stand; and he knew they would be gratified to learn that he had in no respect altered his opinions regarding that great change. Addressing his constituents in February, 1865, he said:
"The Hudson's Bay Territory, with 2,260,000 square miles, will also at some not far distant day, be comprised in the Confederacy. Extensive settlements now existing on the Red River, the fields of British Columbia, and the rich deposits of Vancouver's Island, all these extensive territories may, and doubtless will, in process of time, find themselves forming links in this great chain, which is to bind the now existing colonies together, not only with the benefit of each individual part in view, but also the great benefit of all connectedly, as a grand object, and the formation of a closer connection with the Mother Country; the firm establishment of British dominion being worth large sacrifices to obtain. Few countries are richer in mineral resources than that which is contained within the bounds of the proposed Confederacy. We have minerals exhaustless in quantity, only requiring capital and labour to develope them. With the well known enterprise of the people of these colonies, we may fairly hope we are on the way to prosperity and wealth (hear, hear)."
These were his opinions at that period, and from them he had not deviated. That constituency had stood by him and elected him 504 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 for the last 20 years, and he had never during all that period deceived them. He had always, and consistently, sought to advance not merely the interests of his constituents, but of the Empire at large. Further to show that in taking his present stand he was acting consistently, he would quote an extract from the proceedings of the Quebec Conference, which laid the foundation of the Act under which we are governed. One of the articles in the scheme stated: "The communication with the North West Territory, and the improvements required for the development of the trade of the Great West with the seaboard, are regarded by this Conference as subjects of the highest importance to the Federated Provinces, and shall be prosecuted at the earliest possible period that the state of the finances will permit." Now, he was not going to shirk the responsibility of that declaration. As a member of the New Brunswick Legislature and Government, he had aided in carrying out Confederation, and he would not now seek to undo what he had done, and what had received the hearty approval of his constituents. There were, he knew, drawbacks to this Confederation scheme; but these had been owing not so much to that scheme itself as to a lack of proper administration on the part of the Government, and their adoption of a policy at once unsound and opposed to the wishes and interests of the Maritime Provinces. With the experience since gained by the Dominion Government, the errors of the past would, he hoped, not be repeated (cheers.) The hon. gentleman having again pressed on the Government the danger which would result from delay in opening up the North West Territory—and having urged that their magnificient purchase should not be rendered valueless by an inefficient, tardy means of communication—went on to allude to the speedy development of new territories in the Union by the use of British capital. With British gold the people of the States were every day opening up fresh channels of trade, building railroads and canals, and in every way developing their resources. Could we not do so? Our resources were great enough, and enterprises, as profitable as any in the States, could be found on this side (cheers). The hon. gentleman concluded by expressing his doubts as to the wisdom of allowing the Hudson Bay Company such a large reservation of land. It was, he thought, quite enough for the Dominion to open up this new country, and govern it, without to pay besides a large amount of money, and give a large reservation. But, sooner than agree to this land reservation at all events, he thought that it might have been bettter to get rid of their 505 claims altogether by a money payment. The scheme had, however, been arranged, and, as he believed it would not be wise now to reopen it, he would support the resolutions (cheers).
Mr. A. P. McDonald approved of the resolutions; but differed from the Minister of Public Works as to the best mode of opening up communication with the territory. The great difficulty with regard to it was the want of access to it. We had to take a jump of 400 miles before we reached the edge of it. The proposed mixed route he did not think was either feasible or practicable. Would an emigrant be induced to go 1,200 miles by a mixed route to reach the Red River, when at Cleveland or Detroit he could meet railway communication to take him into the Western States. He maintained that the only way by which we could make that Territory available, was by building a railway, giving grants of land to aid its construction. He ventured to say that with a mixed route, 10,000 emigrants would not be induced to go into that Country. Without a railroad, the North West Territory would be a mill-stone round the neck of this Dominion. The million and a half now asked for would not pay for the Territory. The 200,000 Indians found there, would claim as much for their rights as the Hudson's Bay Company. He went on to contend that a railroad would pay for its own construction, and was the only feasible means of filling up the country with an industrious population. The acquisition of the North West had been a leading plank in the platform of the Government party. Now that they had got it, he hoped they would find the benefit of it, and that they would not discover they had got an elephant and a white one at that.
506 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869
Mr. Chipman considered if they had 200,000 Indians to manage when they went to survey the country and cut it up into blocks for settlement, they would have a good deal of trouble with them. He was afraid this whole scheme was to involve a great deal of increased expenditure and increased taxation. First they had to pay ÂŁ300,000 to the Hudson's Bay Company, besides the land they reserved. Then they had railways and telegraphs to build, and a long frontier to defend and after all they had 800 miles to travel before they reached an acre of land that was worth a cent. However, if they were to make a fortune by this territory, he thought they could afford to let Nova Scotia go. (Laughter.)
Mr. Le Vesconte moved in amendment. "That in the opinion of this House it is inexpedient to acquire a territory likely to involve this Dominion in a heavy expense without any prospect of adequate remuneration." In supporting his amendment he referred to the strong views expressed last session by the President of the Council against acquiring the North West. He entirely shared these views, and accordingly moved this amendment.
Mr. Killam thought the opening up of the North West was a matter of merely local interest to Ontario, and as that Province had been placed in an excellent financial position by Confederation he considered it should devote some of its surplus funds to paying this million and a half to the Hudson's Bay Company.
Hon. Mr. Anglin said he had voted last year against the North West resolutions. The House, however, by a large majority had authorized the Government to proceed with the negotiations, and as he believed the delegates had made the best bargain which was possible under the circumstances, and as he has fully accepted the situation, and was willing that Confederation should have a full and fair trial, he felt it his duty to-night to vote for the resolutions of the Minister of Militia.
The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived—Yeas, 15; nays, 121.
Hon. Mr. Holton begged to make a remark with reference to some allusions to himself, made by the Minister of Militia. Honourable gentlemen opposite were so practiced in tergiversation that they seemed to take it for 507 granted that the gentlemen opposed to them would be as ready to turn their backs on themselves, as they in their past career had shown themselves to be. He (Mr. Holton) had never learned that art. He had felt himself constrained, by reason of his own antecedents in connection with this subject, in common with every man who had held office in this country during the last ten years, to stand by the proposition to acquire this territory. He had always contended that it was right to take steps to acquire it although he might take exception to the terms on which it had been acquired. If an amendment had been moved finding fault with any one of the conditions on which the territory was acquired, he would have voted for it, but he could not, under any circumstances, vote against the acquisition of the territory itself. He must, like the member for Lambton, express his surprise that the mover and seconder of the resolutions had made no reference to the agency of the Hon. George Brown in connection with this whole subject. He remembered very well when the initiatory step towards the acquisition of this territory was taken by that gentleman. If any public man in this country had the credit of initiating the agitation which had led to this result, it was Mr. Brown and he had been all along its principal promoter. On him would rest principally the responsibility it the measure eventuated unfortunately for this country, and to him on the contrary would belong the largest measure of credit that would appertain to any public man if it should turn out, as they all hoped it would, of the highest advantage to this country. He regretted that that gentleman was not now in the House to bear a part in the settlement of this question, but as he was out of the House he thought his important agency in bringing about what was now to be accomplished, should be recognized and avowed in this public manner. (Hear, hear) He regretted with his hon. friend from Lambton that some reference had not been made to that hon. gentleman by the mover, and still more by the seconder of these resolutions, for they must all know what the relations of that hon. gentleman had been to Mr. Brown at the outset and throughout the most of his public career. He had been the protege and follower of Mr. Brown, not only in this matter, but in nearly every other political movement in which he had been engaged. Under these circumstances it would have come well from that hon. gentleman to have uttered some few words of acknowledgment of the services of his great leader in connection with this sub508 COMMONS DEBATES May 28, 1869 ject. (Hear, hear) Mr. Holton then said he had intended to have referred to the position of the question tonight as justifying the course he and Mr. Blake took last session, in moving an amendment declaring that the address then submitted would not bring about an acquisition of the territory, but he would waive doing so on account of the lateness of the hour and the weariness of the House.
Sir George E. Cartier denied that he was liable to the charge of tergiversation in any part of his political career. He accused the member for Chateauguay of having, some time deserted Baldwin and Lafontaine, and declared that he (Sir George E. Cartier) stood by the principles of those great men during the fourteen years that he had been leading the Lower Canada majority. He denied also that his colleagues in public had been guilty of tergiversation. As regarded his not having mentioned the Hon. Mr. Brown, the member for Lambton had scarcely done him justice. When he alluded to the mission to England, in which Mr. Galt and the Hon. John Rose took part, it was to show how long the question had been pending. He had not intended to omit mention of the name of Mr. Brown or his usefulness with regard to this question. It was well known to this Parliament and throughout the Dominion the important part, Mr. Brown took with reference to this question in the proceedings of the delegates to England in 1865, and it was with great pleasure he found on his recent return from England that when there were some attempts to prejudice the public mind with reference to some arrangements, Mr. Brown had stood up for his principles and defended those arrangements. In the despatch of June, 1865, which Mr. Brown, with his delegates, signed and agreed to, it was stated that after the settlement of the question it would be necessary to pay a sum of money that the imperial guarantee should be obtained, and it was following up the arrangement in that despatch that they now came before the House asking its sanction to these resolutions. If any one regretted the absence of Mr. Brown from this House he (Sir George Cartier) did, and if he had been here he would not, because he had mentioned his name in connection with a previous delegation, having accused him of wishing to appreciate his usefulness in the settlement of this question.
The House then went into Committee on the resolution, Dr. Robitaille in the chair.
Mr. Mackenzie made some observations on Hon. Mr. McDougall's allusion to the remarks 509 made on his conduct at the Toronto Convention, and denied that any statement was made to the effect that it would be many years before the North West was acquired.
The resolutions were reported without amendment, the report to be received tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Holton enquired what would be the Government business to-morrow.
Sir John A. Macdonald said the House would be asked to concur in the North West resolutions. He would then proceed with the Criminal Procedure Bill, the Patents Invention Bill, and other measures if there was time.
The House adjourned at five minutes to 12, until 3 o'clock on Saturday.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1869. Edited by P.B. Waite. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1975. Original scans accessible at: http://parl.canadiana.ca/.



Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Gordon Lyall.

Personnes participantes: