Among the Gulf ports, New Orleans has spent fifteen million dollars putting in a belt line system of railroads and docks with steel and cement sheds, purely to keep her harbor front free of corporate control. This is not out of enmity to corporations, but because the prosperity of a harbor depends on all steamers and all railroads receiving the same treatment. This is not possible under private and rival control. Yet more, New Orleans is putting on a line of her own civic steamships to South America. Up at St. Louis and Kansas City, they are putting on civic barge lines down the rivers to ocean front.
At Los Angeles twenty million dollars have been spent in making a harbor out of a duck pond. San Francisco and Oakland have improved docks to the extent of twenty-four million dollars. Seattle attests her expectation of what Panama is going to do on the Pacific by securing the expenditure of fifteen million dollars on her harbor for her own traffic and all the traffic she can capture from Canada; and it may be said here that the Grand Trunk Pacific of Canada—a national road on which the Dominion is spending hundreds of millions—has the finest docks in Seattle. Portland has gone farther than any of the Pacific ports. Portland is Scotch—full of descendants of the old Scotch folk who used to serve in the Hudson’s Bay Company. If there is a chance to capture world traffic, Portland is out with both hands and both feet after that flying opportunity. Portland has not only improved the entrance to the Columbia to the extent of fifteen million dollars—this was done by the Federal government—but she has had a canal cut past bad water in the Columbia, costing nearly seven millions, and has put on the big river a system of civic boats to bring the wheat down from an inland empire. There is no aim to make this river line a dividend payer. The sole object is to bring the Pacific grain trade to Portland. Portland is already a great wheat port. Will she get a share of Canada’s traffic in bond to Liverpool? Candidly, she hopes to. How? By having Canadian barges bring Alberta wheat down the Columbia.
And now, what is Canada doing? Canada is doing absolutely nothing. Canada is saying, with a little note of belligerency in her voice—What’s Panama to us? Either every harbor in the United States is Panama fool-mad; either every harbor in the United States is spending money like water on fool-schemes; or Canada needs a wakening blast of dynamite ’neath her dreams. If Panama brings the traffic which every harbor in the United States expects, then Canada’s share of that traffic will go through Seattle and Portland. Either Canada must wake up or miss the chance that is coming.
Two American transcontinentals have not come wooing traffic in Vancouver for nothing. The Canadian Pacific is not double tracking its roadbed to the Coast for nothing. The Grand Trunk has not bought terminals in Seattle for nothing. Yet, having jockeyed for traffic in Vancouver, the two American roads have recently evinced a cooling. They are playing up interests In Seattle and marking time in Vancouver. Grand Trunk terminals in Seattle don’t help Vancouver; but if Canada doesn’t want the traffic from the world commerce of the seas, then Portland and Seattle do.