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Canada and the States By Sir E. W. Watkin Characters: 21052

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04


To the Pacific-Montreal to Port Moody.

On the evening of the 12th September I left Quebec by the train for Montreal, and travelled over the "North Shore" line of 200 miles. One of the secretaries of the Vice-President of the Canadian Pacific, Mr. Van Horn, called upon me to say that accommodation was reserved for me in the train; and that Mr. Van Horn was sending down his own car, which would meet me half way. It was no use protesting against the non- necessity of such luxurious treatment. I was further asked, if I had "got transportion?" which puzzled me. But I found, being interpreted, the question was modern American for "Have you got your through ticket?" I replied, that I had paid my fare right through from Liverpool to Vancouver's Island-as every mere traveller for his own pleasure ought to do; and I was remonstrated with for so unkind a proceeding, as the fact of my having been President of the Grand Trunk was of itself a passport all over Canada.

At Three Rivers, about half way, while reading by very good light-good lamp, excellent oil, very good trimming-there was some shunting of the train, and the usual "bang" of the attachment of a carriage. A moment afterwards Mr. Van Horn's car steward entered, and asked if I was Sir Edward Watkin; and he guessed I must come into Mr. Van Horn's car, sent specially down for me. Where was my baggage? I need not say that I was soon removed from the little, beautifully-fitted, drawing-room into this magnificent car. In passing through, I heard some growls, in French, about stopping the train, and sending a car for one "Anglais." So, on being settled in the new premises, I sent my compliments, stating that I only required one seat, and that I was certain that the car was intended for the general convenience, and would they do me the favour to finish their journey in it? I received very polite replies, stating that every one was very comfortable where he was. One Englishman, however, came in to make my acquaintance, but left me soon. I now became acquainted with Mr. Van Horn's car steward-James French, or, as his admirers call him, "Jim"-and I certainly wish to express my gratitude to him for his intelligence, thoughtfulness, admirable cookery, and general good nature. He took me, a few days later, right across to the Pacific in this same car, which certainly was a complete house on wheels-bedroom, "parlour, kitchen and all." His first practical suggestion was, would I take a little of Mr. Van Horn's "old Bourbon" whisky? It was "very fine, first rate." On my assenting, he asked would I take it "straight," as Mr. Van Horn did, or would I have a little seltzer water? I elected the latter, at the same time observing, that when I neared the Rocky Mountains perhaps I should have improved my ways so much that I could take it "straight" also.

At Montreal, my old friend and aforetime collaborateur, Mr. Joseph Hickson, met me and took me home with him; and in his house, under the kind and generous care of Mrs. Hickson, I spent three delightful days, and renewed acquaintance with many old friends of times long passed. It was on the 28th December, 1861, that Mr. Hickson first went to Canada in the Cunard steamer "Canada" from Liverpool. He was accompanied by Mr. Watkin, our only son, a youth of 15, anxious to see the bigger England. Mr. Watkin afterwards entered the service (Grand Trunk), in the locomotive department, at Montreal, and deservedly gained the respect of his superior officer, who had to delegate to Mr. Watkin, then under 18, the charge of a thousand men. There were, also, Howson, Wright, Wainwright, and Barker; subsequently, Wallis. Mr. John Taylor, who acted as my private secretary in my previous visit, I had left behind, much to his distress at the time, much for his good afterwards. Mr. Barker is now the able manager of the Buenos Ayres Great Southern Railway, a most prosperous undertaking; and poor dear, big, valiant, hard-working Wallis is, alas! no more: struck down two years ago by fever. These old friends, still left in Canada, are leading honorable, useful, and successful lives, respected by the community. To see them again made it seem as if the world had stood still for a quarter of a century. Then, again, there was my old friend and once colleague, the Honble. James Ferrier, a young-minded and vigorous man of 86: who, on my return to Montreal, walked down to the grand new offices of the Grand Trunk, near Point St. Charles-offices very much unlike the old wooden things I left behind, and which were burnt down-to see me and walked back again. Next day I had the advantage of visiting the extensive workshops and vast stock yards of the Canadian Pacific, at Hochelaga, to the eastward of Montreal, and of renewing my acquaintance with the able solicitor of the Company, Mr. Abbot, and with the secretary, an old Manchester man, Mr. Drinkwater. Then on the following day Mr. Peterson, the engineer of this section of the Canadian Pacific Company, drove me out to Lachine, and took me by his boat, manned by the chief and a crew of Indians, to see the finished piers and also the coffer-dams and works of the new bridge over the St. Lawrence, by means of which his Company are to reach the Eastern Railways of the United States, without having to use the great Victoria Bridge at Montreal. This bridge, of 1,000 yards, or 3,000 feet, in length, is a remarkable structure. It was commenced in May and intended to be finished in November. But the foundations of the central pier, in deep and doubtful water, were not begun, though about to begin, and this, as it appeared to me, might delay the work somewhat. The work is a fine specimen of engineering, by which I mean the adoption of the simplest and cheapest mode of doing what is wanted. All the traffic purposes required are here secured in a few months, and for about 200,000_l_. only.

The "Victoria" bridge at Montreal is a very different structure. A long sheet-iron box, 9,184 feet in length, with 26 piers 60 feet above the water level, and costing from first to last 2,000,000_l_. sterling. The burning of coal had begun to affect it; but Mr. Haunaford, the chief engineer of the Grand Trunk, has made some openings in the roof, which do not in any way reduce the strength of the bridge, and at the same time get rid of, at once into the air, the sulphurous vapours arising from coal combustion.

Mr. Peterson told me that their soundings in winter showed that ice thickened and accumulated at the bottom of the river. This would seem, at first sight, impossible. But experiment, Mr. Peterson said, had proved the fact, which was accounted for by scientific people in various and, in some cases, conflicting ways. May it not be that the accumulation is ice from above, loaded with earth or stones, which, sinking to the bottom by gravity, coagulates from the low temperature it produces itself? Mr. Peterson is not merely an engineer, and an excellent one, but an observant man of business. His views upon the all-important question of colonising the unoccupied lands of the Dominion seemed to be wise and far-sighted. He would add to the homestead grants of land, an advance to the settler-a start, in fact -of stock and material, to be repaid when final title to the property, were given.

Taking leave of my old friends, I left Montreal at 8 p.m. on the night of September 15th, in the ordinary "Pacific Express," on which was attached Mr. Van Horn's car, in charge of James French. I went by ordinary train because I was anxious to have an experience of the actual train-working. Mr. Edward Wragge, C.E., of Toronto, an able engineer of great experience, located now at Toronto, has sent me so concise an account of the journey of this train, and of the general engineering features of the line, that, anticipating his kind permission, I venture to copy it:-

"Leaving Montreal in Mr. Van Horn's car, the 'Saskatchewan,' by the 8 p.m. train on the 15th September, we passed Ottawa at 11.35 p.m.

"During the night we ran over that portion of the Canadian Pacific Railway which was formerly called the Canada Central Railway, and reached Callander (344 miles from Montreal), the official eastern terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, at 8.30 a.m. 13 miles from this, at Thorncliff is the junction with the Northern and Pacific Junction Railway, which forms the connection with Toronto and Western Ontario, being distant from Toronto 227 miles. At North Bay, which is a divisional terminus, the line touches Lake Nipissing, where there is a flourishing settlement, the land being of a fair quality. The line is laid with steel rails, about 56 lbs. to the lineal yard, and with ties about 2,640 to the mile. For the first 60 or 70 miles from Callander the line is ballasted entirely by sand, and, with the exception of a few settlements, is entirely without fencing. Most of the bridges are of timber; but there are one or two of the larger ones of iron or steel, with masonry abutments.

"At Sudbury is the junction with the Algama Branch, not yet opened for traffic. This is 443 miles from Montreal. After leaving Sudbury the character of the country changes, and is alternately swampy and wild rocky land. Numerous large trestles are necessary, which will eventually be filled in with culverts and earthwork. The schedule running time of the trains along this portion of the line is 24 miles per hour, including stoppages.

"At 8 p.m. Chapleau, another divisional terminus, was reached, and the schedule running time during the night from that point to Heron Bay, reached at 5.15 a.m. the following morning, is 20 miles an hour. At Heron Bay (802 miles from Montreal) the north shore of Lake Superior is first touched, and the line runs along it to Port Arthur, a distance of 993 miles from Montreal. The scenery here is very wild and picturesque. At one time the line runs along the face of the rock, with the lake from 50 to 100 feet below, the road-bed being benched out on the cliff, and at another time is away back among barren hills and rocks, crossing several large streams (with either bridges of iron and masonry or timber trestle work), which streams flow into the lake at the north end of deep indentations or arms of the lake. The line through this district is winding, having many sharp curves and steep grades. There are several short tunnels, all of them through rock, and not lined. The schedule time for trains on this portion of the line is 16 miles per hour. We were detained som

e little time near Jack Fish, owing to a slight land slide coming down in one of the cuttings.

"The Nepigon River is crossed at a high level with a steel trussed bridge, masonry piers and abutments, and there is an old Hudson's Bay settlement on the river a short distance above the bridge. Between Nepigon and Port Arthur the line runs through a country much more accessible for railways, and the schedule time here is at the rate of 24 miles an hour. We reached Port Arthur at 4 p.m. on the 17th. This is a flourishing town, situated at the head of Thunder Bay, a large bay on the north shore of Lake Superior, and has a population of four or five thousand at the present time. From the north shore of Lake Nipissing to this point, however, a distance of over 600 miles, the country may be said to be almost without inhabitants, except those connected with the working of the railway, squatters, and Hudson's Bay trappers and traders. The weather was chilly during the evening of this day, and a heavy sleet storm arose before arriving at Port Arthur. At night a fire had to be lighted in the car, as there was a sharp frost. During the night the train was detained for some little time east of Rat Portage, in consequence of a trestle having given way while being pulled in, and the train arrived at Rat Portage at 7.30 a.m., four hours, behind time.

"From Port Arthur the line westward is run upon the 24 o'clock system, commencing from midnight; 1 p.m. being 13 o'clock, 2 p.m. being 14 o'clock, and so on. The train arrived at Winnipeg at 12.45 on the 18th (1,423 miles from Montreal), and time was allowed to drive round the town, the train leaving again for the west at 13.30 o'clock. From Winnipeg westward the line runs through a prairie country, which extends without intermission to Calgary, a distance of 838 miles, and 2,261 from Montreal. At Winnipeg the Company have good machine shops, round houses, &c., and a large yard, and has acquired 132 acres of land for these purposes of working and repair and renewal.

"The country for three or four hundred miles from Winnipeg west is more or less settled; in some parts farms are quite numerous, and the land good and well cultivated. At Portage la Prairie the Manitoba and North- Western Line leaves the Canadian Pacific. It is being rapidly pushed forward, and 120 miles of it have already been completed through the 'Fertile belt.' It should have been mentioned that the line between Port Arthur and Winnipeg, a length of 430 miles, was constructed by the Government of Canada and given to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company free as a portion of their system. This part of the line is laid with 57 lbs. steel rails, and is well ballasted. The line is also ballasted east of Port Arthur, though in some places the ballast is of poor quality, and in others there is not sufficient of it. West of Winnipeg, however, there is no ballast across the prairie, except where the excavations through which the line goes afford ballast, it being simply surfaced up from side ditches with whatever the material may happen to be; but it is in good condition for a line of such a character, and the schedule time is 24 miles an hour, including stoppages.

"The train ran through Qu'Appelle, Regina, and Moose Jaw during the night of the 18th, and reached Dunmore (650 miles from Winnipeg) at 15.30 o'clock on the 19th. At this point there is a branch, 3-feet gauge line, 110 miles in length, to the Lethbridge mines, belonging to Sir Alexander Galt & Company. His son, Mr. Galt, met us at Dunmore, and invited us to go and inspect the mines, but as it would have made a delay of at least one day, the idea had regretfully to be abandoned. The train reached Bassano (750 miles from Winnipeg) at 19 o'clock, our time, having made up 3 hours and 20 minutes since leaving Winnipeg, which was the time late leaving there. The train was then exactly 97 hours since leaving Montreal, having travelled 2,180 miles, an average speed, including all stoppages and delays, of 22-1/2 miles an hour.

"During the night of the 19th and the early morning of the 20th, the train ran through Calgary, at the foothills of the Atlantic slope of the Rocky Mountains; and at 5.30 on the 20th arrived at the summit of the Rocky Mountains. As it was just daylight we were enabled to see the scenery at that point and Kicking Horse Pass. From the summit of the Rocky Mountains, for some nine miles, the line is considered to be merely a temporary one, though permanently and strongly constructed, there being a grade for two or three miles of it of 4-1/2 feet per hundred, say 1 in 22-1/2. There are several catch sidings on this grade, running upwards on the slopes of the mountains, for trains or cars to be turned into, in the event of a break loose or run away, and a man is always in attendance at the switches leading to these sidings. All this day the train ran through mountains, the Rocky Mountains, the Selkirk Range, and Eagle Pass. With the exception of the steep grade mentioned, the ruling ones are 116 feet to the mile, and there are numerous sharp curves, usually to save short tunnels. The line, however, is in some parts well ballasted, and work is still going on in this direction. The rails are of steel, 70 lbs. to the yard, and the locomotives, of the "Consolidation" pattern, with eight driving wheels, are able, Mr. Marpole, the able divisional superintendent, stated, to take a train of 12 loaded cars over the ruling grades, two of them being required for the same load on the steep grade already mentioned at Kicking Horse Pass. Mr. Marpole stopped the train at the Stony Creek Bridge, a large timber structure 296 feet high, and said to be the highest wooden bridge in America. The scenery through the Selkirks is magnificent, the mountain peaks being six and seven thousand feet above the level of the railway, many of them even at this season of the year covered with snow, and there being several large glaciers.

"During last year, before the line was opened for traffic, observations were taken with the view of ascertaining what trouble might be anticipated from avalanches, the avalanch paths through the Selkirks being very numerous. Several large avalanches occurred, the largest covering the track for a length of 1,300 feet, with a depth in one place of 50 feet of snow, and containing, as was estimated, a quarter of a million cubic yards of snow and earth. The result of these observations caused the Company to construct during this season four- and-a-half miles of snow sheds, at a cost of $900,000, or $200,000 a mile.

"The sheds are constructed as follows:-On the high side of the mountain slope a timber crib filled with stones is constructed. Along the entire length of the shed, and on the opposite side of the track, a timber trestle is erected, strong timber beams are laid from the top of the cribwork to the top of the trestle, 4 feet apart and at an angle representing the slope of the mountain, as nearly as possible. These are covered over with 4-inch planking, and the beams are strutted on either side from the trestle and from the crib. The covering is placed at such a height as to give 21 feet headway from the under side of the beam to the centre of the track. The longest of these sheds is 3,700 feet, and is near the Glacier Hotel.

"Over the Selkirk Range the schedule time for trains from Donald to Revelstoke, that is, from the first to the second crossing of the Columbia River, a distance of 79 miles, is only eleven miles an hour; but this time table was made before there was much ballast on this portion of the line, and better time can now be made. On the 21st September the Fraser River was crossed early in the morning over a steel cantilever bridge, and the line runs down the gorge of the Fraser River to Port Moody, reached at noon. The train had thus been travelling from 8 p.m. on the 15th September to 12 noon on the 21st, apparently a total of 136 hours; but, allowing for the gain of three hours in time, an actual total of 139 hours. During this time the train travelled 2,892 miles, or an average speed made throughout the journey, including all stoppages, of 20-1/2 miles per hour, and this is the regular schedule time for passenger trains at the present time.

"Port Moody is the present terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, but the line has been partially graded for 12 miles further to Vancouver. Owing, however, to the hostile attitude of some landowners, the Company have not been able to complete this work, as the contention has been made that, although the Company have power to build branches, an extension of the main line is not a branch, and the Company will have to obtain legislation before this can be done. Vancouver at the present time is said to have a population of about 3,000. It is situated at Burrard Inlet, a mile or so inside what are called the First Narrows, but the neck of land on which it is situate is only about a mile across; and in the future, when the town grows, English Bay, which is outside the Narrows, can easily be made the harbour in preference to the present one, as it is fairly well sheltered, and affords good anchorage.

"The trip down Burrard Inlet, the Straits of Georgia, and through the

San Juan Archipelago to Victoria, a distance of about 90 miles from

Port Moody, occupied 9-1/2 hours, and Victoria was reached at 10.30 on

the night of the 21st September."

To this memorandum I may add a few words. First, in praise of the excellent rolling stock; secondly, of the good discipline and smartness of the service; and, thirdly, of the wonderful energy, boldness, and success of the whole engineering features of this grand work of modern times. I should be ungrateful if I did not thank the chief officers of the Canadian Pacific, whose acquaintance I had great pleasure in making, for their exceeding kindness, for the full information they afforded to me, and for showing me many cheap, short, and ready plans of construction, which might well be adopted in Europe. These gentlemen have looked at difficulties merely in respect to the most summary way of surmounting them; and, certainly, the great and bold works around the head of Lake Superior, the many river and ravine crossings of unusual span and height, and, especially, the works of the 600 miles of mountain country between Calgary and the last summit of British Columbia, so successfully traversed, would make the reputation of a dozen Great George Streets.

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