A Railway to Connect
Nova Scotia with Canada

1846

Source:
The Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia
1847: Appendix No. 8



This webpage contains the complete text of sixteen official
documents written during 1846, to explore the feasibility of
a railway to connect Nova Scotia with Canada.






Contents:
These documents are presented here in the same order as they appear in Appendix No. 8.

•  #   1846 April 2
         from the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Halifax
•  #   1846 April 18
         from W.E. Gladstone, London
•  #   1846 April 16
         from James Stephen, Downing Street, London
•  #   1846 April 17
         from C.E. Trevelyan, British Treasury, London
•  #   1846 April 18
         from C.E. Trevelyan, British Treasury, London
•  #   1846 June 17
         from W.E. Gladstone, London
•  #   1846 June 26
         from W.E. Gladstone, London
•  #   1846 June 13
         from James Stephen, Downing Street, London
•  #   1846 June 13
         from James Stephen, Downing Street, London
•  #   1846 June 13
         from Captain John H. Pipon
•  #   1846 June 18
         from C.E. Trevelyan, British Treasury, London
•  #   1846 June 26
         from W.E. Gladstone, London
•  #   1846 June 17
         from W.A.B. Hamilton, British Admiralty, London
•  #   1846 April 3
         from W.M.S. Colebrooke, Fredericton
•  #   1846 April 3
         from Charles P. Wetmore, Fredericton
•  #   1846 April 2
         from Charles P. Wetmore, Fredericton





[One]
  Government House,
Halifax, 2nd April, 1846

To:— The Right Honorable W. E. Gladstone, &c. &c. &c.

Sir:—
I have the honor to transmit, for presentation to the Queen, an Address from the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia, on the subject of the projected Rail Road from Halifax through New Brunswick to Quebec and Montreal, praying that should the undertaking be found to be a practical and prudent one, Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to cause to be applied towards its completion the same amount of money as would have been expended on the formation of the Military Road, which it is understood Her Majesty's Government had it in contemplation to construct through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada.

The Address also prays Her Majesty's favorable consideration of a set of Resolutions, a copy of which accompanies this, and the object of which is to obtain an accurate and careful exploration and survey of such portions of the Province as it is probable the Rail Road will traverse, and by that means ascertain at once the feasibility of the project, and the probable ultimate cost of carrying it into effect.

It will be at once seen from the tenor of these Resolutions that the local Legislatures have followed a wise and guarded course, and one likely to inspire confidence in their future proceedings.

I venture to hope that Her Majesty's Government will therefore be disposed to accede to the wishes of the House of Assembly by sending out qualified Engineers, and by advancing, in any other possible manner, the execution of the work.

The local Parliament has pledged itself to provide for the expense of the Survey, but as it would of course be desirable to diminish the amount of that charge as much as possible, I would suggest the employment of Military Engineers, the whole or part of whose emolument (as may be deemed just by the Imperial Government), might be defrayed by the Province; and I venture to add, that the rapid approach of the season, during which all public works are carried on in this country, renders an early communication of your intentions in this respect of the utmost importance.
  I have, &c.
Falkland

This letter, dated in Halifax on 2 April 1846, was signed by Lucius Bentinck Cary, 10th Viscount Falkland, Governor of Nova Scotia, and addressed to British Colonial Secretary William Ewart Gladstone.




Lucius Bentinck Cary, 10th Viscount Falkland (1803-1884)
Governor of Nova Scotia, August 1840 to August 1846

William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898)
British Colonial Secretary, December 1845 to June 1846





[Two]
Extract of a Despatch
from the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone
to His Excellency Viscount Falkland,

dated 18th April, 1846


I have to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship's Despatch of the 2nd April, No. 22, in which you enclose an Address to the Queen, from the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia, together with certain Resolutions of that House, on the subject of the projected Rail Road from Halifax to Quebec and Montreal.

You will, I think, concur with me in the opinion, that it would at present be premature to enter upon the consideration of the request of the House of Assembly, that the money which may be voted by the House of Commons for the construction of a Military Road through the British Provinces of North America, should be devoted to the formation of a Railway.

Whenever the Survey, which it is essential should be first undertaken, shall be completed, I shall be prepared to offer my advice to the Queen as to the course which it may be proper to take in reference to the request of the Assembly for the appropriation of these funds to the Rail Road.

I am happy to inform you, by this early opportunity, that I have recommended the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury to give their sanction to the employment of Officers of Engineers for the Survey in Nova Scotia, and the neighboring British Provinces, for which the House of Assembly has pledged itself to provide, and that instructions, in accordance with my wishes on this subject, have been given by their Lordships to the Master General and Board of Ordnance, who will communicate with their Officers in North America.

I enclose for your information, copies of the Correspondence which has passed between this Department and the Treasury, and that Office and the Ordnance Department, and have to add that I shall hope to be able to make known to your Lordship, at a future, and not distant time, the maturer intentions of Her Majesty's Government with respect to this Survey.




[Three]
  Downing Street,
London, 16th April, 1846

To:— C. E. Trevelyan, Esquire, &c. &c. &c.

Sir:—
The project of a Rail Road between Halifax and Quebec, having excited considerable attention in the British Provinces of North America, as well as in this Kingdom, Mr. Secretary Gladstone has been in communication with the Governor General of Canada, and the Lieutenant Governors of the Provinces concerned in this undertaking, on the preliminary points which it is necessary to determine, before any active proceedings can be adopted for the construction of such an important work.

Mr. Gladstone having, by the Mail which arrived yesterday, received from the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia a Despatch enclosing an Address to the Queen, from the House of Assembly of that Province, with Resolutions pledging the House to provide for the expense of the Survey of those parts of Nova Scotia through which it is expected that the Railway would pass, has directed me to request you would represent to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, that as Her Majesty's Government consider the proposed enterprize an object of general, as well as Provincial importance, they are desirous of affording their co-operation to the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia, in the requisite preliminary measure for which that House has now pledged itself to provide. It will not, however, be sufficient to restrict the proposed Survey only to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Gladstone does not doubt that the people of Canada and New Brunswick have been equally animated by a desire to aid in the formation of some great chain of communication, by Railway, between the several Provinces; and (although their Legislatures have not, so far as he is at present aware, adopted proceedings corresponding with those of the Legislature of Nova Scotia) he considers that it will not, on that account, be proper to withhold from the former Provinces the advantage of the Survey which will be afforded to Nova Scotia.

The season during which this work can be executed being necessarily very limited, it would not be advisable to defer its commencement, and Mr. Gladstone would therefore impress upon the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury the expediency of an immediate intimation being made to the Board of Ordnance of the wishes of Her Majesty's Government, that instructions should be conveyed by the ensuing Packet to the Commanding Engineer in the British Provinces in North America, to depute such Officers of that corps to undertake the Survey in question, as may be selected by the Master general and Board of Ordnance for that purpose.

I am further to request that the Board of Ordnance may be distinctly apprized that to render this Survey adequate to its object, it will be necessary to examine the question where the port of embarkation for England would most properly be fixed, having regard to the convenience of the Public, the purposes of despatch, and the general safety of the port and terminus in time of War.

Mr. Gladstone hopes to be enabled, before the next Packet, to consider, in connection with the Master General and Board of Ordnance, the specific instructions which it may be proper to give to these Officers.
  I am, &c.
(Signed) Jas. Stephen





[Four]
  Treasury Chambers,
London, 17th April, 1846

To:— The Secretary to the Ordnance

Sir:—
I am commanded, by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, to acquaint you, for the information of the Master General and Board of Ordnance, that a desire having been expressed by the Legislature of Nova Scotia to establish a Rail Road between Halifax and Quebec, and to have the best opinion as to the line which it would be expedient to adopt, their Lordships consider it to be an object of General, as well as Provincial importance, that the best line should be selected; and they therefore request the Board of Ordnance to give to the Legislature of Nova Scotia the assistance of such Engineers at present in North America as they may consider qualified for this duty, and to send out to them orders to place themselves without delay in communication with the Governor General of Canada, and the Lieutenant Governors of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, for the purpose of effecting such a Survey as may enable them to form a judgement as to the line most expedient to be adopted.
  I have, &c.
(Signed) C. E. Trevelyan



Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan, 1st Baronet (1807-1886)
Assistant Secretary to the Treasury, January 1840 to January 1859





[Five]
  Treasury,
London, 18th April, 1846

To:— R. Byham, Esq., &c. &c. &c.

Sir:—
With reference to my Letter, dated the 17th instant, on the subject of the Survey of the proposed Rail Road between Nova Scotia and Canada, I am commanded by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to transmit for the information of the Master General and Board, a copy of a Letter from Mr. Stephen, dated the 16th instant, stating the wish of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs, that the Survey in question should embrace a comprehensive plan of communication between the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswaick, and Canada, and adverting to certain points to which attention is particularly required, and I am to request that you will move the Master General and Board to send instructions by the Mail about to leave England to the Officers of the Royal Engineers in the three Provinces above mentioned, to take early and effectual steps to carry Mr. Gladstone's wishes into effect, in communication with the Governor General of Canada, and the Lieutenant Governors of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
  I am, &c.
(Signed) C. E. Trevelyan





[Six]
Extract of a Despatch
from the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone
to His Excellency Viscount Falkland,

dated 17th June, 1846


I have to acknowledge the receipt of your private Letter of the 2nd June, reporting that no steps had been taken by the Military Authorities at Halifax in furtherance of the projected Survey for a Rail Road in Nova Scotia. I regret that it has been impossible for Her Majesty's Government to give effect to their wishes in respect to this Survey at an eralier period, but my Despatch of the 15th instant, which you will receive by the hands of Captain Pipon, will put your Lordship in full possession of the arrangements which have been made upon this subject, and explain to your Lordship why the Military Authorities at Halifax have received no instructions on this subject.




[Seven]
Extract of a Despatch
from the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone
to His Excellency Viscount Falkland,

dated 26th June, 1846

I transmit, herewith, for your Lordship's information, copies of a Correspondence between this Department and the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, on the subject of the estimated expenditure to the end of September next, for the Survey of the projected Rail Road in British North America.

Your Lordship will communicate to Captain Pipon, and Lieutenant Henderson, a copy of the Letter from the Assistant Secretary to the Treasury, for the information and guidance of those Officers.




[Eight]
  Downing Street,
London, 13th June, 1846

To:— C. E. Trevelyan, Esquire, &c. &c. &c.

Sir:—
I am directed to acquaint you, for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, that the Master General and Board of Ordnance have selected captain Pipon and Lieutenant Henderson, of the Royal Engineers, to undertake the duty of ascertaining the best line for a Trunk Railway from some Eastern Port in Nova Scotia, through New Brunswick, to Quebec and Montreal.

In the Letter addressed to you on the 16th of April, I stated that the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia had pledged itself to provide for the expense of a Survey of those parts of that Province through which it was expected the Railway would pass.

I am now to inform you that the House of Assembly of New Brunswick has by Resolution dated the 2d April, declared, "that they would not be behind hand with their fellow subjects, the people of Canada and Nova Scotia, in making such provision, both from the Public Funds and Lands, for the establishment of a Railway, as the resources of the Province would warrant."

In Canada, likewise, Mr. Gladstone has reason to believe that the Legislative Assembly of that Province has been recommended by the Government to grant a sum of money to defray the expenses of a Survey and Estimate, for the construction of the proposed Rail Road, and he considers it probable that there will be no objection on the part of that Province, or of the other Colonies, to share in the expense of these preliminary proceedings.

Relying upon the disposition of these Colonies to defray eventually the expenses that will be incurred in the Survey, (and for the repayment of which application will be made by Mr. Gladstone at the proper time,) I am to state that no funds having yet been provided for the commencement of the work, Mr. Gladstone considers it necessary that Her Majesty's Government should make such an advance of money as will enable Captain Pipon and Lieutenant Henderson to proceed upon their destination without loss of time, and to purchase in this country such Instruments, Camp Equipage, Stationery, and other necessities, as are indispensable for their operations.

Mr. Gladstone also thinks that it will be necessary to authorize the Commissariat Officer in Nova Scotia to make advances to these Officers when called upon by them to do so.

Mr. Gladstone will obtain from Captain Pipon, and will transmit to the Treasury, as exact an Estimate as can be prepared of the cost of the different articles required for the expedition.

I am to add, that the general expenditure of this service, and the personal allowances of Captain Pipon and Lieutenant Henderson, will be on the same principle and scale as in the case of the Officers employed in laying out the line of boundary under the treaty of Washington.
  I have, &c.
(Signed) James Stephen



Sir James Stephen (1789-1859)
British Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (1836-1847)





[Nine]
  Downing Street,
London, 13th June, 1846

To:— C. E. Trevelyan, Esq., &c. &c. &c.

Sir:—
With reference to my other Letter of this date, on the subject of a Survey for a Rail Road in British North America, I am directed by Mr. Secretary Gladstone to transmit to you, for the consideration of the Lords Commissionaers of the Treasury, the copy of a Letter from Captain Pipon, containing an estimate of the probable expenditure of this expedition calculated to the end of September next; and I am to request that you would move their Lordships to issue the necessary authority for providing this Officer with the means of defraying so much of these expenses as their Lordships may think requisite for their immediate purposes.

I am to add that Mr. Gladstone had understood from a previous Letter from Captain Pipon, that all the non-commissioned Officers and Privates proposed to be employed on the Survey were actually in America. It appears, however, certain, that seven of these men must now be taken from this country, and it is in some degree doubtful whether the remainder will be met with at Halifax.

This circumstance will occasion some additional, but unavoidable expenditure.
  I have, &c.
(Signed) James Stephen





[Ten]
  London, June 13th, 1846

To:— The Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, &c. &c. &c.

Sir:—
With reference to my Letter of the 9th instant, in which I stated that application had been made for authority to employ twelve non-commissioned Officers and Privates of the Royal Sappers and Miners, on duties connected with the exploration Survey for a Railway from Quebec to some port in Nova Scotia, I beg to state that seven of the men nominated for the duty are at present in this country, and that it will be necessary that passages be provided for them to Halifax.

The other five, who were employed on the North-eastern Boundary Commission, and lately at Washington, orders have been sent out from the Foreign Office to Lieutenant-Colonel Estcourt, directing him to send them to Halifax to wait my arrival, had they not already left on their return to England, of which there seemed to be some doubt, and in which case it will be necessary that they should be sent out again.

With regard to the amount which I think it would be desirable that the Treasury should advance, in the first instance, towards defraying the expenses of the expedition, I beg to submit an Estimate of the probable expenditure, up to the end of September:
Estimate for Survey of Rail Road,
Halifax to Quebec

1846
£ s d
For the purchase of Instruments,
as estimated in Letter of June 9th
171 4 0
Two passages for Officers proceeding
from Liverpool to Halifax, at
£40 19s. each, in Mail Steamer
81 18 0
Seven ditto for Soldiers ditto at £20 each 140 0 0
Five ditto, from Washington to Halifax,
at about £10 each
50 0 0
Camp Equipage, including
Tents, Cooking Utensils, Axes, &c.
150 0 0
Provisions to be purchased on arrival, and
forwarded to Depots along the Line of Road
to be surveyed or explored, 45 men 92 days
provisions, at about 1s. 6d. each per day
310 10 0
Working pay of 12 Sappers, at about
average 2s. 6d. each per day, for 92 days
138 0 0
Pay of 30 Laborers for three months,
at 20 dollars a month
360 0 0
Salary of Officers for quarter
ending 30th September
300 0 0
Ditto for arrears previous to 1st July 120 0 0
Contingent expenses 100 0 0
  1921 12 0
This does not include Blankets and Stationery,
which it is presumed would be supplied from the
Government Stores.

There is not time now to get the Camp Equipage made in this country.

I think it right, therefore, to acquaint you, that some delay will take place on our arrival in Halifax, before the parties will be prepared to take the field.

Before determining on the precise plan of operations, I am desirous to ascertain at what time it is intended that the negotiations or examinations respecting the Boundary Line between New Brunswick and Canada shall commence.

The plan on which, generally, I would propose to carry on the exploration Survey, would be by forming four or five parties, each consisting of two men of the Sappers, and about six Axemen or Laborers, who should explore, and make a rough traverse Survey, registering the heights of the Barometer along a given section or line of country; two parties, consisting of one Sapper and one Labourer each, would, in the meantime, be stationed at convenient points (of known altitude) such as a point on the Sea Coast, whose height above mean-tide level could easily be ascertained with stationary Barometers, which would be registered every hour, and with which the Barometric Observations made along the different lines of Survey would be compared, and the relative heights deduced.
  I have, &c.
(Signed) John H. Pipon
Capt. Royal Engineers





[Eleven]
  Treasury Chambers,
London, 18th June, 1846

To:— J. Stephen, Esq., &c. &c. &c.

Sir:—
With reference to your Letters dated the 13th instant, I have it in command to acquaint you, for the information of Mr. Secretary Gladstone, that the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury have been pleased to direct the Paymaster General to issue the sum of Seven Hundred Pounds to Captain Pipon, of the Royal Engineers, as an advance to meet such portion of the expenditure specified in his estimate, as would become payable previously to his arrival at Halifax, on account of the preliminary Survey of a line of Rail Road in British North America; and have also directed further advances, to the extent of One Thousand Three Hundred Pounds, to be made from the Commissariat Chest in Nova Scotia to the Officer, to meet the residue of the expenditures for that service.
  I have, &c.
(Signed) C. E. Trevelyan





[Twelve]
Extract of a Despatch
from the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone
to His Excellency Viscount Falkland,

dated 26th June, 1846


I transmit to your Lordship, herewith, the copy of a Letter from the Secretary of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, signifying the opinion of their Lordships upon the question which has been referred to them, as to a proper site for the Terminus in Nova Scotia for the projected Rail Road to Quebec and Montreal, and I have to request that your Lordship would communicate the copy of this Letter to the Commissioners appointed to ascertain the most eligible line for a Rail Road through the British North American Provinces.




[Thirteen]
  Admiralty, 17th June, 1846

To:— James Stephen, Esq., &c. &c. &c.

Sir,—
Having laid before my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty your Letter of the 13th instant, representing that various propositions for the construction of a Railway between Halifax and Quebec, have been brought under the consideration of Mr. Secretary Gladstone, and requesting to be furnished with such information as my Lords may possess upon this subject, more especially with reference to the Port to be selected for the Terminus on the Sea Coast, and also with their opinion thereon, I have it in command to acquaint you, for Mr. Secretary Gladstone's information, that my Lords have received from Captain Owen certain suggestions on the subject of a Railway to Quebec, of which the following are the main points:

Captain Owen shows in his Letter, that from a Western Port of Ireland to the nearest Port of Nova Scotia, Canso Harbour, is about 2000 miles, or ten days steaming.

From Cape Canso to Quebec, by direct distance, is 480 statute miles [770 km], or by a practicable Railway 540 [870 km], which would be performed in twenty-two hours [average speed 40 km/h, all stops included (not bad for 1846) — for comparison, in March 2013, the scheduled trip time for VIA Rail passenger trains, Halifax-Montreal, is 21 hours 55 minutes].  He further assumes that London is twenty-six hours from a Western Irish Port, and that Quebec would therefore be twelve days from London.

The first line of Rail would, from Canso, run along the Northern Shore of Nova Scotia to the head of Petit-Coudiac [Moncton, New Brunswick], after passing the Coal Mines of New Glasgow, thus ensuring a supply of Coals.  The Ports of Canso he says are good, not incommoded by drift ice, have deep water, and no outlying dangers – they were used by the French before 1760, as a winter rendezvous, and are now a rendezvous for our Merchant Vessels.

At the head of Petit-Coudiac he proposes that a branch should turn off to Halifax, from which it is distant 150 miles [240 km], or six hours.

The sea route to Halifax would require fifteen hours more than to Canso, and it is a more difficult Harbour to enter.

I am, however, to remark, that the tenor of captain Owen's statement is to show the advantage which would accrue from the English Packets going direct from England to Canso, as regards communications with Quebec; and if the Rail Road were constructed from Canso to Halifax, the communication with the latter would be equally quickly preserved; but if there were to be but one Terminus in Nova Scotia, my Lords doubt whether the advantages of Canso would compensate for giving up the rapid communications with the far more important Port of Halifax as the Terminus.

My Lords, however, would strongly recommend, that the plan suggested by Captain Owen of a Railway between Halifax and Canso, and between Canso and Quebec, should be the course adopted.

Annotation added

  I am, &c.
(Signed) W. A. B. Hamilton



Admiral William Alexander Baillie-Hamilton (1803-1881)
was Second Secretary to the British Admiralty





[Fourteen]
  Fredericton, N.B.,
April 3, 1846

To:— His Excellency Viscount Falkland, &c. &c. &c., Halifax, N.S.

My Lord,—
I have the honor to enclose to your Lordship the copy of an Address, with a series of Resolutions passed by the House of Assembly of this Province, pledging their support to Her Majesty's Government in the establishment of a Railway to connect the Provinces of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
  I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's
Most obedient servant,
(Signed) W. M. S. Colebrooke



Sir William MacBean George Colebrooke (1787-1870)
Governor of New Brunswick, March 1841 to April 1848

NOTE: There appears to have been a printing error in the source document,
rendering the Governor's initials as W.M.S. instead of W.M.G.  This may
be attributable to the handwriting of the original document or a copy.





[Fifteen]
  New Brunswick, House of Assembly,
April 3d, 1846

Resolved, That copies of the Resolutions passed yesterday, on the subject of a Railway to connect the British Colonies on this Continent, be furnished His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, and that an humble Address be presented to His Excellency, praying that His Excellency will be pleased to transmit the same to Her Majesty's Government, as well as to the Right Honorable the Governor General of Canada, and the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.
  (Signed) Chas. P. Wetmore, Clerk





[Sixteen]
  New Brunswick, House of Assembly,
April 2d, 1846

First — Resolved, That nothing would tend more to advance the prosperity of the British Colonies on this Continent – to cement their union, and preserve their integrity as valuable appendages of the Crown, than a Railway connecting the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

Second — Resolved, That this House confidently looks to Her Majesty's Government for its parental aid toward this great National Project.

Third — Resolved, That this House viewing the establishment of such Railway as a measure of the greatest importance to these Colonies, both politically and commercially, will not be behind hand with their fellow subjects, the people of Canada and Nova Scotia, in making such provision both from the Public Funds and Lands as the resources of the Province will warrant.
  (Signed) Chas. P. Wetmore, Clerk





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A Railway to Connect Nova Scotia with Canada

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