As already announced, the Canadian Pacific Company has declined to receive more than 5,000,000 acres out of the 11,000,000 in the odd-numbered sections in the forty mile belt between Winnipeg and Fort Calgary; and the fact of this declination has received all the publicity which a Government return can give it.
This is a most unfortunate occurrence for the country, and all the damage that will ensue from it is the direct consequence of the gross blunder made by the Dominion Government two years ago when the southern diversion of the main line was sanctioned. Mr. Mackenzie's Government made a thorough exploration of the country. The result of years of careful investigation by the best engineering talent was that a route recommended by Sandford Fleming, north of the present main line, was adopted. This route traversed the greatest possible quantity of our most fertile land. For purposes which are only now unfolding themselves, the C.P. Company chose to throw away all the results of Mr. Fleming's laborious explorations. Instead of taking their line through the best of the Fertile Belt, they brought it as far south as they could. Instead of taking the Yellowhead Pass, they aimed for the Kicking Horse, through which it is absolutely certain no such first-class line as that projected by Mr. Fleming can be driven. The present Government, as if in duty bound, assented to this diversion -- and what are the consequences?
The first of the consequences is to be recognized in the Company's refusing to accept one-half of the land in the railway belt. The next is, that in order to make up for the deficiency thus created the Company has gobbled up every odd-numbered section in the southern part of the old Province of Manitoba, and in the best south of the railway and west of Manitoba. It has become inevitable that whatever other tract the Company asks for must be given to it. The object of the Company will of course be to locate as much of its land as possible in the eastern part of the North- West. From present appearances, nearly twenty millions of the twenty-five millions of acres will be thus located.
Worse than everything else is the fact that the Company's public refusal to take more than 5,000,000 acres along the main line goes forth to the world as a serious and unnecessary hindrance to all efforts for the promotion of settlement. Intending immigrants will surely put the worst construction possible on the matter. It will be impossible to explain to their satisfaction the objects of the Canadian Pacific Company in locating its main line through an inferior section instead of through the best land. They will certainly fail to recognize that the Canadian Pacific was extremely anxious to get its line far to the southward in order that no competitor could come between it and the frontier.