Prince Rupert in the Making

ERNEST CAWCROFT May 1 1909

Prince Rupert in the Making

ERNEST CAWCROFT May 1 1909

Prince Rupert in the Making

ERNEST CAWCROFT

From the Bookkeeoer

THE modern captain of industry has achieved another triumph in undertaking to make cities to order. The creation of a city in the ancient world involved the problem of conquering and defending a pivotal site; the location and de velopment of a metropolis in the days of our revolutionary forefathers was the combination of possibilities and circumstances; but the past fifteen years have been signalized by the making of cities to order either to gratify the pride of an autocrat, or to meet the necessities of modern business.

It is a trite truism of history that mankind tends to follow the watercourses of the earth. The ocean afforded the first open sea, inviting the adventuresome traders of all nations ; then the rivers led men along definite routes of exploration, tempting them far into the interior of unknown continents because the voyagers were confident that they could return home by the same route ; and the inland lakes became the basis for operations designed to secure vast tracts of the new continent for the exclusive dominion of the white race. During the da}rs of Venetian commercial supremacy, the trade which flowed to that centre of life followed the Mediterranean Sea : the

ancient world boasted of no great city like Rome unless a river Tibei afforded a means of influx and egress; without the Thames London would not have become more than a thriving village, rather than the distributive centre of the earth. The Hudson River flowing into the sea furnished the basis for the commercial supremacy of New York city; the Great Lakes became the basin for the rich wealth of the west in the early days of the republic : and when the people of New York state showed their sagacious sense by connecting the Hudson with the Lakes through the construction of the Erie canal, they simply multiplied the number of advantageous locations open to the settling sons of men. Mankind followed this artificial waterway and a chain of cities resulted. The Merrimac furnished water power and Lawrence and Lowell became the textile centres of the nation : Duluth became the

famed city of the unsalted seas because it was located at the head of Lake Superior. The number of cities which afford illustration of this historical truism may be multiplied without limitation. The racial principle still prevails in shaping the commercial destinies of the continent ; but it has been supplemented or modified by the power which steam placed in the hands of the railroad magnate to promote the arbi trary location and development of cities to meet the demands of particular business enterprises.

The cities of the seaboard are destined to retain their commercial supremacy. The ocean invites the competition of all men; there can be no monopoly of routes and the existing cities of the sea reap the benefits of that fact. But in the growth of existing cities and in the location of newer communities on the shores of the Atlantic and the Pacific, the railroads of the continent are to be the determining factors. The complaints filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission by the commercial bodies of rival cities relative to differentials are an evidence of the fact that the future growth of existing cities is in the sole hands of the railroads subiect only to government regulation. But the self interests of

the citizens of these rival cities assures an adjustment of this situation ; and hence it becomes of more decided interest to witness the movement to select this or that location out of many available sites as the terminus of pending railroad or waterway projects.

The nations are racing to the open, warm water ports of both oceans. Fort Churchill on Hudson’s Bay, nearer to the wheat fields of the north than any other seaboard point on the continent would be the metropolis of the New World, were there no ice lloes in the bay during seven months of the year: New Orleans and Galveston arc becoming the export centres for western grain because the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico affords points of export open to ships of the world for twelve months of everv year. The needs of the people of Russia, similar in effect to those of the inhabitants of the American north-land, impelled the Czar into war with Japan. Prompted by the political will of Peter the Great, the Russians have ever sought the warm water ports of the south, whether on the yellow seas by force or along the Black Sea by skill in diplomacy. This racial tendency re suited in the making to order of Dalny, that wonderful city of the Russian littoral in Asia, just as the needs of the United States Steel Corporation led to the upbuilding of Gary on the Indiana shores of Lake Michigan. Colon has been modernized because it was needed as a canal terminus, and La Boca will be of commercial and strategic importance when it becomes the Pacific terminus of the Panama water way. Thus it is evident that in every part of the world the hand of the magnate may be seen modifying or supplementing the racial tendency to follow the water courses of the earth.

Once man located at a given point because he reached that spot in his sailboat, because the drinking water was wholesome, or the firewood available in quantities. To-day he is moved by somewhat similar considerations, but to a larger degree ; but this mastery of his necessities is enlarged through the development of land transportation facilities. In other words, the railroads» enable him to select the best of many sites on ocean, river and lake, which appeal to him as wholesome places to live and work from an economic and scenic standpoint.

The truth of this argument finds support through the location of a railroad city at Port Simpson on the Pacific Coast. Prince Rupert is the appropriate name given to this city which is being made to order. It is planned to create a commercial pivot, through the meeting of the Grand Trunk Pacific with the waters

of the Pacific, which will be a fitting monument to Prince Rupert and his associate gentlemanly adventurers, who took title to the soil of the western provinces in the name of their king and in the interests of their Hudson’s Bay Company. The success of other cities on the Pacific coast, which have been made to order through the concrete application of the plans of the vigorous railroad magnates, assures the rapid completion of the work now undei way in the upbuilding of Prince Rupert.

Every railroad must have a starting point and a terminus. The start ing point in the past was and is today determined by the pivotal location of lake and ocean harbors. In the early days of railroad construction, the railroads followed the population which had located along tho waterways before steam was applied to transportation: to-day the people follow the transcontinentals, rapidly filling the virgin lands opened to settlement through the laying of the steel highways. The former fact is illustrated by the existence of the Grand Trunk connecting in the east with Montreal and Quebec on the St. Lawrence and with Halifax on the Atlantic seaboard. These pivotal connections enabled the railroad to import European immigrants and in turn to export grain to the hungry cities of Europe. But once the starting point is predetermined, the terminus may be one of many available sites, particularly in view of the latter day willingness of population to follow the railroads and to inhabit the made-to-order cities of the transportation magnates.

To-day the Grand Trunk is work ing in conjunction with the Dominion Government for the purpose of constructing a transcontinental which will traverse the rich lands of the western provinces and connect with advantageous eastern ter minais. It was clear to statesmen and railroad engineers alike, that

this quasi-governmental line must connect with the eastern depots of the Grand Trunk, thence tap Fort William and Port Arthur as the grain centres of the Dominion at the head of Lake Superior, and pass per force through such strategic distributive centres as Winnipeg and Edmonton. But when the survey reached Edmonton and when the engineers were no longer led westward by the course of the waters of the fertile Saskatchewan valley, the matter of routes became a subject of interesting study. It is true that far beyond Edmonton the Indian hunters have continued to find valuable furs and that Hudson Bay missionaries continue to tell of the mining and agricultural possibilities of the Peace river country.

But the engineers and statesmen were confronted by the triple problem of selecting one of the several routes which complied with certain test condi/bons. In the fiist place, the engineers had to find a pass through the Canadian Rockies, just as the surveyors of the Canadian Pacific were compelled to spend two years in finding and working their way through the now famous Rogers Pass : then in taking the line through the country and over the grades of the Rockies, it was necessary to strike a deep and warm water port on the British Columbia shores of the Pacific. The engineers were checked on the other hand by the necessary demand of the statesmen that the railroad pass through fertile land, whose climate and summer sunlight invited the cultivation of the ambitious and adventuresome sons of both continents. Two years of work enabled a thousand youngsurveyors to combine their brains and brawn in meeting this demand. The Grand Trunk Pacific leaves Ed monton and the headwaters of the Saskatchewan to traverse the laker of the Peace river region, the territory adjacent to the famous Athabasca Landing, through the picturesque White Horse Pass, affording a lower grade over the Rockies than any other road in the United States or Canada, and thence down through the thickly timbered lands of British Columbia sloping to the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

And in approaching the waters of the Pacific the surveyors sought a harbor which combined depth of channel with surrounding hills tc protect the promised city from the storms of the Pacific and from the guns of a possible Asiatic enemy. There at Port Simpson they found a bay of the Pacific which conforms to these conditions. A glance at the map of British Columbia shows that Port Simpson is five hundred miles north of Vancouver, the city which was created twenty-two years ago as the terminus of the Canadian Pacific railroad, and that the desirable harbor upon which Prince Rupert is located is nearer the Asi-

atic mainland than any other point which juts into the Pacific from the continent of North America. Situated on an estuary which to a degree is similar to the formation of the Clyde in Scotland, surrounded by forest-covered hills between which a navigable river flows and rendered defensible as a commercial and naval base because of the adjacent position of the Queen Charlotte Islands, the site of Prince Rupert as the terminus of a new transcontinental will inevitably impel the development of a metropolis of the Dominion.

The completion of the Grand Trunk Pacific along the route described means that a steel avenue for the timber and grain of the north will be provided between the Atlantic and Pacific. The lumber of British Columbia will be removed eastward to the cities of the Atlantic, while the grain will be distributed

in both directions along this route to the bread centres of the continent. The arrival of the Canadian Pacific at the forest-skirted site now known as Vancouver signalized the creation of a commercial city within the following decade, and in the same sense the coming of the Grand Trunk Pacific to Prince Rupert implies that preliminary preparations must be made for accommodating the commerce and the passengers moving from the Occident to the Orient. The pivotal fact should not be overlooked that the Grand Trunk Pacific will afford the quickest route for mail and passengers between London and Tokio. And why? Simply because the railroad moves faster than the steamship the trains will meet the European ships on the eastern point of land extending into the Atlantic, while the harbor of Prince Rupert is nearer to Asia thaï any other site on the continent. The long rail haul is an assurance of speed and thus it is evident that this new railway and the commerce destined to pass through Prince Rupert are to play a distinctive part in cementing anew the ties of the British Empire.

Trade is headed for Prince Rupert in the same sense that it inevitably flows to Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver. The city is to be placed just in the convenient way of a commercial movement. The transportatioi leaders, no less than the people of northern British Columbia, have not overlooked this essential fact. Today preparations are being made fo* the export and import commerce which will follow in the wake of the completed Grand Trunk Pacific two years hence. In other words, this day Prince Rupert becomes a city in the making.

Nor is Prince Rupert to be founded on ordinary village lines in the hope that the years will provide the spirit and characteristics of a metropolis. The town is not going to be permitted

to grow from a village into a metropolis. This made-to-order city is to start life upon a metropolitan basis. The exigencies of railroad development assure this happy consummation.

And are not the reasons for thii clear to the thinking mind? Wher the Grand Trunk arrives on th shores of the Pacific at Prince Rupert, it must have freight and passenger business. Tourists cannot be led this way to the Orient without an assurance that the accommodations at the point of departure are excellent ; and freight cannot be handled at a profit unless the point of export or import is supplied with every mechanical device to facilitate the cheap and expeditious discharge of large cargoes. Thus the railroad men responsible for the location and development of Prince Rupert have made it clear that the town will be laid out on a metropolitan basis. This means that first-class hotels and paved streets will be provided for the prospective globe-trotters; while cranes, large docks and every mechanical appliance will be afforded to promote the movement of cargoes from the cars to the ships of the Pacific.

To-day the traveler in visiting Prince Rupert by means of the steamships plying between the cities of Puget Sound and Alaska is impressed by the evidences of industrial activity which characterize the coming metropolis. Two years ago only a saw mill and the tents of the surveyors indicated the site of the city now making to order. To-day the docks which are being extended to line each side of the deep narrow harbor; the ships and government schooners which pass in and out of the harbor : the more substantial buildings in course of construction under the direction of the representatives of the Grand Trunk Pacific, are the forerunners of the bustle and metropolitan energy which will mark the town when the first transcontinental moves throng’White Horse Pass and down to the Pacific two years hence.

The construction of this city-to-be has attracted the attention of the globe trotter, the real estate speculator and the adventuresome from many lands. But while those types of humanity serve to give color and zest to the rapidly growing community, they are not being allowed to exploit the city at the expense of the future interests of the region. There are to be no narrow lanes running through Prince Rupert because a few speculators are not willing to undertake adequate and scientific surveys; there are to be no shacks which will remain as a vested interest to menace the town by fire and mar the architecture of the place ; and the epidemics arising through faulty sewerage and bad water will not arise in connection with this city

as in the case of many similar municipal sites., because a wholesome supply will be tapped by the railroad at the outset. A city which is to be the export centre of a transcontinental railroad and the point to which the steamships of the Orient will converge will reap a decided commercial impetus because of the existence of a sanitary port from the beginning of municipal life.

' The architectural defects of the cities of the republics of the world are well known. Only a Czar can plan and build a Dalny; only a United States Steel Corporation is able to lay out a Cary on a plain of land with streets running at right angles and every municipal device designed to aid in the upbuilding of the place as an industrial centre; and no successor of the autocratic Napoleon has dared to make the marked changes in the street lines which the First Consul made in his capital in the interests of the architectural beauty of Paris but at the expense of the vested property rights of the citizens. The problem therefore, confronting the friends of municipal development, in a day when the courts afford every pro tection to the rights of the abutting property owner, is to lay out and promote the growth of a city on broad, expansive lines. Happily, this is possible because the Grand Trunk Pacific has retained the title to the site of Prince Rupert which it gained from the Dominion Government; and when the available city sites are placed on the market next September, the broad streets of the city will have been marked, the sewers will, have been placed and those safeguards will have been established which are preliminary to the expansion of the community along metropolitan lines without a few individu als profiting at the expense of the general welfare. Hence the student of municipal government may look forward to the completed Prince Rupert as a type of community growth along deliberate and sound lines.

There is history to be made during the next twenty years with Prince Rupert as the pivot of human activity. Little did the men who first reached Vancouver on the Canadian Pacific realize that the path which they trod down to the sea would become the Hastings street of brick and pavements within ten years thereafter. Vancouver had to divide the glory of rapid growth with the other cities of the Puget Sound region, and it is in that sense that Prince Rupert will enjoy a distinction altogether unique. The completion of the Grand Trunk Pacific

will force the growth of Prince Rupert and the existence of the railroad and the city will in turn force the establishment of another line of steamers plying between the Orient and North America and in fact the project is already announced ; no less will the extent of the international and coast commerce, which will centre around this harbor under the shadow of Alaska, make the place of strategic naval importance. A glance at the map, with particular attention devoted to the location of Queen Charlotte Islands, will show the reader that Prince Rupert has the advantages of the seaboard without being deprived of those natural sources of defense from attack, which are an unconscious factor in the development of every metropolis.

To Hawaii by way of the Panama Canal and to Japan by way of the Peace river and Prince Rupert, will be the next call made to those whose feet are moved by the spirit of the wanderlust. The rapid construction and near-by completion of waterways and transcontinentals foretell the growth of commercial pivots along the whole Pacific Coast from La Boca at the mouth of the Panama Canal to the frost-bitten harbors of Alaska. The geographical location, the warm Japanese current, the inevitable commerce which must follow the steel avenues of trade, and the tendency of mankind to move along the lines of least resistance, in this age in Pullmans but in a previous century in river boats indicate that Prince Rupert will become one of the most important links in this new chain of commercial emporiums.