Seventh.-The advantage of the several routes proposed, for the trade that is to be accommodated.
First or Sorel Route.
So far as designed to be a Channel for that portion of the Lake trade that seeks a market on the Hudson River, this cannot be recommended as the proper one for the proposed Canal. It will not be the most favourable for the lumber trade of the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence above the mouth of the Ottawa. The cost of transportion from Sorel to St. Johns, as I am informed, is one cent per cubic foot of timber. I am not able to say what the cost of transportation (by rafting) is from the mouth of the Ottawa to Sorel. The distance is near 60 miles, and a portion of the Rivers St. Lawrence and Ottawa between these points is difficult, and the cost, including risk and the delay that must attend that route, I suppose would be not less than half a cent per foot, and make the total cost to St. Johns by this route one and a-half cents per cubic foot, or seventy-five cents per ton of 50 feet. If the same aggregate toll be charged (one-fifth of a cent per foot) as now charged on the Chambly, the transportation from Lake St. Louis to St. Johns would be not exceeding-three fifths of a cent per foot, or thirty cents per ton of 50 feet, or a saving of nearly one cent per foot. It must be kept in mind that whatever cheapens the route to the Hudson River, not only enhances so much of what may take that route, but will also enhance the value of that which goes to Quebec, and viewed in all its bearings the apparently small sum of one cent per foot must be regarded as worth from a quarter to half a million of dollars per annum to this lumber trade. With these remarks I must leave the Sorel route as quite out of the question.
Second or Longueuil Route.
The termination on the St. Lawrence is very unfavourable for the lumber trade. Whatever of it goes down the Ottawa to its junction with the St. Lawrence would not (and could not in rafts) be brought up to the Canal at Longueuil. It must be brought down the Lachine rapids, and owing to the strong currents in the river opposite and above Longueuil, it would be difficult to stop the rafts at the terminus of the Canal, and if they should pass it they would probably go on down the St. Lawrence, rather than attempt to bring them back against so strong a current as prevails in this part of the river. It is not therefore believed the lumber trade of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence could derive much benefit from the Canal on this route.
The strong current in the river between the terminus of this route and Montreal would be unfavourable for vessels entering and leaving the Canal. For the Western trade destined for the Hudson, the Beauharnois route would be thirty per cent. including tolls, and forty per cent. without tolls, more favourable, and the Caughnawaga direct line, including tolls, twenty-eight per cent. more favourable than the Longueuil route, and give the most favourable accommodation by the latter route to the lumber trade of the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence, above the junction of the Ottawa in Lake St. Louis. The only circumstance in favour of this route is that the trade would pass Montreal, and might find a market in that City, and would so far improve its commercial interests. This it is desirable to secure, if it can be done consistent with the main objects of the enterprize. How far the Canadian Government may consider it proper to hazard this, for such incidental benefits as would result to Montreal, it is not my province to decide. The navigation is now open and free to Montreal, and whatever route may be adopted for the projected Canal, it is not supposed it will direct any trade from her, but rather in any event bring a large trade so near her door that she can secure from it all that her commercial position will enable her to command.
Montreal will have no privilege taken from her, and will have increased inducement to improve every natural advantage she possesses; this new channel of a great trade will be near, and tend to promote every branch of industry, increasing the inducements to improve the vast hydraulic power in her vicinity, and thereby multiply the sources of her wealth.
Viewing the enterprise as in the main designed to improve the value of the St. Lawrence Canals, as well as the Welland, to enhance the value of the great lumber interest of the St. Lawrence and its tributaries, and to improve the facilities of commercial intercourse with the United States, I am constrained, (much as I should be gratified to second the wishes of Montreal,) to pass by the Longueuil route as not the proper one to secure the great object of the projected Canal.
In the conclusions to which I have arrived in regard to the first and second routes, it has not appeared important to regard as material the estimate of the cost in construction. Other considerations are too decided to permit the entering of this as a material element in the comparison.
Third or Caughnawaga Route, Champlain level.
It appears this route has been more generally regarded than any other for the projected Canal. It enters the St. Lawrence near the foot of Lake St. Louis, where a smooth sheet of water allows good facilities for vessels to enter and leave the Canal. For the convenient and ample accommodation of the lumber trade in transit from the St. Lawrence to the Canal. By this route a large portion of the Chambly Canal would be enlarged, and render it easy to give the same character of navigation to the mouth of the Richelieu, should it hereafter appear that the trade with the lower St. Lawrence would warrant it.
It appears from Route Table No. 5, the cost of transport, including tolls, will be twelve per cent. more on this route than by the direct line from Caughnawaga, and about sixteen per cent. more than by the Beauharnois route.
Fourth or Beauharnois Route, and direct Route from Caughnawaga.
These routes are very nearly equal in regard to the Western trade, the difference being nearly say four per cent. in favour of the Beauharnois route, including toll. The toll, however, in this comparison is nearly five cents per ton more than on the direct Caughnawaga route ; and on two millions of tons, the revenue would be near one hundred thousand dollars per annum greater. This would provide for an extra expenditure of over one million of dollars. The Beauharnois route will not provide for the Ottawa lumber trade, nor well for the trade of the lower St. Lawrence, that may seek Lake Champlain and the Hudson. The Caughnawaga terminus is clearly the best for this. Here the Ottawa lumber comes in well, and it would not be able to reach the Beauharnois Canal without too great expense. The trade of the lower St. Lawrence, above referred to, would find, via Montreal and the Lachine Canal, a convenient and cheap transit, via Caughnawaga, to Lake Champlain; and would be subject to delay and extra expense if required to go by the Beauharnois Canal, and thence to Lake Champlain, which would probably prevent this branch of trade from taking the proposed Canal at all.
It has been stated, the Beauharnois route makes a junction with the Caughnawaga direct route at a point four and one-tenth (4 1/10) miles from its terminus at Caughnawaga. If therefore the Feeder required for the direct route is made navigable, a practical union of the two routes would be effected, that would provide for the best accommodation of the several interests of trade above referred to. If a route can be found that will secure in the best manner all the great objects of the enterprise, it is clearly the one we are in search of. The Caughnawaga, Champlain level, does not secure this. It is about twelve per cent. less favourable for the trade that collects in Lake St. Louis, and near sixteen per cent. less favourable for the Western trade that seeks the Hudson. No adequate benefit, in my judgment, would be obtained to compensate for this loss, especially when it is considered that the general question of competition with a rival route is such that all the attainable sources of advantage should be carefully secured in the route adopted. The direct Caughnawaga line, with the Feeder made navigable, will be more expensive than the Caughnawaga route on the Champlain level, and less expensive if the Feeder is merely to supply water for the Canal.
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