It is when one comes to consider Panama’s influence on rail traffic that it becomes apparent the Canal may divert half the Dominion’s traffic to seaboard by Pacific routes. Why do you suppose that the big grain companies of the Northwest want to reverse their former policy? Formerly the biggest elevators were built east, the medium-sized at the big gathering centers, the smaller scattered out along the line anywhere convenient to the grower. To-day, as far as Alberta is concerned, the biggest elevators are going up farthest west. Why? Why do you suppose that the big traction companies of Birmingham, Alabama, the big wire companies of Cleveland and Pittsburgh are looking over the Canadian West for sites? One Birmingham firm has just bought the site for a big plant in Calgary. Why do you suppose that the Canadian Pacific Railway is building big repair shops at Coquitlam, and the Canada Northern at Port Mann? Why are both these roads also stationing big repair plants at inland points, one at Calgary, the other supposed to be for Kamloops? It is not to help along the townsite lot booms in these places. No one deprecates these town lots running out the area of Chicago more than the railroads do. “Wild oats” hurt trade more than they advertise the legitimate opportunities of a new country.
Take a look at them!
From Fort William to Alberta is one thousand two hundred miles, to Calgary one thousand two hundred eighty, to Edmonton one thousand four hundred fifty-one miles. From Alberta to Vancouver is slightly over six hundred miles. Port William navigation is open only half the year. The Pacific harbors are open all the year. Manitoba and Saskatchewan wheat may be rushed forward in time for shipment before the close of navigation. Because Alberta is farther west and must wait longest for cars, very little of her wheat can be rushed forward in time; so Alberta wheat must go on down to St. John, another one thousand two hundred miles. Look at the figures—six hundred and fifty miles from Alberta to the seaboard at Vancouver, two thousand four hundred miles from Alberta to sea-board at St. John! In other words, while a car is making one trip to St. John and back with wheat, it could make four trips to Vancouver.
One year the crop so far exceeded the rolling stock of all the railroads in America that millions of dollars were lost in depreciation and waste waiting for shipment. This state of affairs does not apply to wheat alone nor to Canada alone. It was the condition with every crop in every section of America. I saw twenty-nine miles of cotton standing along the tracks of a southern port exposed to wet weather because the southern railroads had neither steamers nor cars to rush shipments forward for Liverpool. In New York State and the belt of middle west states thousands of barrels of fruit lay and rotted on the ground because the railroads could not handle it. In an orchard near my own I saw two thousand barrels