p.2 PUBLIC WORKS
We take the following remarks from the Hamilton Spectator on the necessity of an immediate enlargement of the Canadian canals. We fully agree with our contemporary, and we have good reason for believing that the Government is also of the opinion that the time for the enlargement has arrived. The Welland Canal, as the most important link in the chain, will, we hope, before this year expires, be undergoing the enlargement so long called for, and the want of which is beginning to tell so seriously upon the revenues of that work:
We suppose we shall not know the precise figures until the meeting of Parliament and the consequent publication of the accounts, but we fear there can be no doubt that the revenue from public works for 1859 will again exhibit a decrease. We know the tolls collected on the Welland Canal were much less in 1859 than in 1858, and as this canal is, so the whole are likely to be. And where this decending scale will cease, we cannot tell, which is the worst feature in the matter. Possibly if we practice the doctrine of laissez aller, the Welland Canal will sink to the level of the Rideau, and cost us more for management than its tolls amount to.
We find, on examing into the causes of the decline of the number of vessels passing from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, and vice versa, that the size of the craft on the Upper Lakes has increased with the business they have to do, and that there is a large fleet on Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior which cannot pass through the Welland Canal locks. We were aware of this when we lately suggested that it would be well to see if a method could not be devised for deepening, widening, and lengthening, gradually if need be, the whole of the locks on our grand chain of canals.
The points of view from which this matter may be regarded are so various, that it is difficult to say which we should choose. Let us look at this one.
There is a portage from Sarnia to Hamilton which would offer by far the cheapest route for grain from the West to Oswego and New York, if there were propellers of adequate size plying between Hamilton and the ports on the other side of the lake. But the large sized propellers of the Upper Lakes cannot come down to do this business, and people cannot well build such vessels here now, since, if from any cause the grain trade should fail for a single year, they could not be sent to seek employment in other trades elsewhere, the Welland Canal barring their way to Chicago, the St. Lawrence canals their way back from Montreal.
The fact is, the deepening of existing canals is the all important step to be taken. Let us do it, if we can, without imposing any unreasonable charge on the exchequer, for it will never do to sink all we have already spent if further efforts can prevent such a consummation.