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- Canada and the States - 5/71 -
case of the Provinces, rather towards the United States than towards each other or the British Empire. Thus there were, in 1860, many causes at work to discourage the idea of Confederation. And it is by no means improbable that the occurrence of the great Civil War destroyed this tendency.
I remember an incident which occurred at a little dinner party which I gave in Montreal, in September, 1861, to the delegates who assembled there, after my visits, in response to the appeal just made to the Governments of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, on the subject of the Intercolonial Railway. It illustrates the personal isolation alluded to above. The Honorable Joseph Howe, then Premier of Nova Scotia, said, "We have been more like foreigners than fellow-subjects; you do not know us, and we do not know you. There are men in this room, who hold the destinies of this half of the Continent in their hands; and yet we never meet, unless by some chance or other, like the visit of the Prince of Wales, we are obliged to meet. I say," he added, "we have done more good by a free talk over this table, to-night, than all the Governors, general and local, could do in a year, if they did nothing' but write despatches. Oh! if you fellows would only now and then dine and drink with us fellows, we would make a great partnership directly." And the great partnership has been made, save only that Newfoundland still remains separate.
In Canada the divisions between the Upper and Lower Provinces were, in 1861, serious, and often acrimonious; for they were religious as well as political. The rapid growth of Upper Canada, overtopping that of the French-speaking and Catholic Lower Province, led to demands to upset the great settlement of 1839, and to substitute for an equal representation, such a redistribution of seats as would have followed the numerical progression of the country. "Representation by population"--shortly called "Rep. by Pop."--was the great cry of the ardent Liberal or "Grit" party, at whose head was George Brown, of the "Toronto Globe"--powerful, obstinate, Scotch, and Protestant, and with Yankee leanings. In fact, the same principles were in difference as those which evolved themselves in blood in the contest between the North and South between 1861 and 1865. The minority desired to preserve the power and independence which an equal share in parliamentary government had given them. The majority, mainly English and Scotch, and largely Protestant and Presbyterian, chafed under what they deemed to be the yoke of a non-progressive people; a people content to live in modest comfort, to follow old customs, and obey old laws; to defer to clerical authority, and to preserve their separate national identity under the secure protection of a strong Empire. Indeed, it is difficult, in 1886, to realise the heat, or to estimate the danger, of the discussion of this question; and more than one "Grit" politician, whom I could name, would be startled if we reminded him of his opinion in 1861,--that the question would be "settled by a civil war" if it "could not be settled peaceably," but that "settled it must be--and soon."
The cure for this dangerous disease was to provide, for all, a bigger country--a country large enough to breed large ideas. There is a career open in the boundless resources of a varied land for every reasonable ambition, and the young men of Canada, which possesses an excellent educational machinery, may now look forward to as noble, if not more noble, an inheritance than their Republican neighbours--an inheritance where there is room for 100,000,000 of people to live in freedom, comfort, and happiness. While progress will have its periodical checks, and periodical inflations, there is no reason to doubt that before the next century ends the "Dominion," if still part of the Empire, will--in numbers--outstrip the present population of the British Islands.
Now, in 1886, all this past antagonism of "Rep. by Pop." is forgotten. Past and gone. A vast country, rapidly augmenting in population and wealth, free from any serious sectional controversy, free, especially, from any idea of separation, bound together under one governing authority, with one tariff and one system of general taxation, has exhibited a capacity for united action, and for self-government and mutual defence, admirable to behold.
_Towards the Pacific--Liverpool to Quebec._
Leaving Liverpool at noon of the 2nd September, 1886, warping out of the dock into the river--a long process--we arrived, in the fine screw steamer "Sardinian," of the Allan line, off Moville, at five on the following morning; and we got out of the inlet at five in the afternoon, after receiving mails and passengers. It may be asked, why a delay of twelve hours at Moville? The answer is--the Bar at Liverpool. The genius and pre-vision of the dock and harbour people at Liverpool keep the entrance to that port in a disgraceful condition, year after year--year after year. And the trade of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, and Derbyshire, is compelled to depend upon a sand-bar, over which, at low tide, there is eight feet of water only. Such a big ship as "The Sardinian" can cross the bar in two short periods, or twice in the twenty-four hours, over a range, probably, of three or four hours. On my return home I wrote the following letter about this bar to "The Times":--
"THE BAR AT LIVERPOOL.
"SIR,--You inserted some time ago in 'The Times' a letter from Professor Ramsay detailing the troubles arising to travellers from the other side of the Atlantic, owing to shallow water outside the entrance to Liverpool, and you enforced the necessity of some improvement, in a very able article. Professor Ramsay was at that time returning from the meeting of the British Association, held in the Dominion of Canada.
"Still, while time goes on, and the question becomes more and more urgent, the bar, with its eight feet of water at low tide, remains as it was, save that some navigators contend that it grows worse.
"Yesterday 340 passengers, of whom I was one, by the noble Cunard ship 'The Etruria,' experienced the difficulty in all its varieties of trouble.
"After rushing through very heavy seas and against violent winds for three or four days, we cast anchor a good way outside the bar at 5 o'clock yesterday (Sunday) morning. The weather was too rough for the fine tug-boat, 'The Skirmisher,' to come so far out. So, after swinging about till 10 o'clock, we moved slowly on, crossed the bar about half- past 11, and were off the northernmost dock later on. Here the usual process of hauling the ship round by the aid of the tug took place, and then the further process of putting the baggage on board the tug, in advance of taking the passengers. I was fortunate in being taken off the ship in a special tug-boat by some friends, got to the landing- stage, where the baggage is examined by the Customs, and, a carriage waiting for me, was at the Central Station at Liverpool at one o'clock. But, with all these comfortable arrangements, I had lost at least seven hours, and had missed all morning trains. The other passengers, I fear, did not get through for two or three hours later, and those for London would be lucky if they just caught the 4 o'clock train.
"It would not, I am told, be prudent to take a ship of the size and draught of 'The Etruria' over the bar till two hours before high water on a flowing, and one hour after on an ebbing, tide. Thus, for such a ship--and the tendency is to build larger and larger vessels--the margin, even in moderate weather, is probably three hours out of the twenty-four, or, in other words, exclusion from the port for twenty-one hours out of the twenty-four, more or less.
"Lancashire will soon have to say whether its manufactures and commerce are to be tied to the bar at Liverpool; and, in the new competition of ports, a port open at any time of tide must ultimately draw the trade and traffic.
"Before the Committee of the House of Commons, on Harbour Accommodation, on which Committee I had the honour to sit, it was proved that every country in Europe, having a sea-board, was making and improving deep-water harbours,--except England.
"Take the case of Antwerp, which is already attracting traffic to and from the great British possessions themselves by reason of its great facilities.
"Liverpool is a place where the dogma of absolute perfection is accepted as a religion. But some of us may be pardoned if, in both local and national interests, we must be dissenters.
"That the bar may be made better instead of growing worse is obvious. But the great cure is by cutting through the peninsula of Birkenhead and obtaining a second entrance to the Mersey, always accessible, and obviously alternative. This was the advice of Telford seventy years ago, and 'The Times' has called public attention to a practical way of working out the Telford idea, planned by Mr. Baggallay, C.E., and laid before the Liverpool authorities--in vain.
"I may add that if our ship had called at Holyhead, the London passengers might have left Holyhead on Saturday evening instead of Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, a difference of a day.
"I beg to remain very faithfully yours, "EDWARD W. WATKIN. "Northenden, _Oct_. 18, 1886."
Some Liverpool cotton broker wrote to me to say that I had forgotten that there were two tides in the twenty-four hours. Nothing of the kind. There was one word miswritten, and, therefore, misprinted, which I have corrected: but the broad fact remains, and why my compatriots in the broad Lancashire district do not see the danger, I cannot comprehend, unless it be that some of them are up in the "Ship Canal" balloon, and others, the best of them, are indifferent.
Steaming along, after leaving Moville, we passed Tory Island, the scene of many wrecks, and of disasters around. It has a lighthouse, but no telegraphic communication with the shore at all.
I wrote a letter about that to the Editor of the "Standard." Here it is:--
"SIR,--Newspapers are not to be had here, but as this good ship is only a week out from Liverpool, and five days from out of sight of land to sight of land, I may fairly assume that Parliament is still discussing Irish questions.
"Thus I ask your indulgence to make reference to a question which is decidedly Irish, but is also Imperial, in the sense that it affects the lives of large numbers of persons, especially of the emigrant class, and is interesting to all the navigation and commerce of necessity passing the north-west extremity of Ireland.
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