From Toronto to Gravenhurst.
Opening of a new link to the Northern Railway.
Gravenhurst, Nov. 13.—The opening of the fifteen miles of railway from Severn to this village, which work has been carried out by the Northern Extension Railways Company, recently amalgamated with the Northern Company, was celebrated today by a gathering of representatives of railway and commercial interests. The leading farmers of Muskoka and adjacent counties assembled here to meet a party from Toronto, composed of public men and gentlemen anxious to cultivate trade with the interior of the Province, and exchange congratulations at the completion of the railroad to the foot of the Muskoka lakes. The proceedings of the day included the presentation of an address to the President of the Northern Company, and a dinner given by the municipality of Muskoka to their guests. These events passed off in a very successful manner.
Although the new section of line only covers fifteen miles, its construction will prove a valuable addition to railroad communication between the frontier and the back country. Tapping the trade at the south end of the Muskoka lakes, it will prove an excellent feeder to the main road, for the timber got cut and lumber manufactured within the great watershed to the north, which drains four thousand square miles of forest land, will be shipped by cars to the markets at Toronto and elsewhere. Already the people of Gravenhurst have dubbed it "the sawdust city of the North", and there can be no doubt that with a revival in the lumber trade will come increased prosperity to the settlers of the Muskoka district, which is specially adapted by its streams and lakes for the cutting and shipping of lumber. Gravenhurst now boasts of two sawmills, and the manufacturers proposed to build seven other mills within a short time. Between 800 and 1,000 men were shantying in the woods last season, Cook Bros. alone have 200 men employed. The Directors of the railroad anticipate a large traffic in the carriage of lumber and supplies for the shanties. Considerable freight is also expected from the settlers, who are now estimated to number ten thousand. Increased attention is being directed to cattle raising, for which the country, when cleared, appears to be adapted, and respectable crops are raised in some localities by the indomitable energy and patience of the hardy men who are making homes for themselves in the Free Grant Districts. The appearance of the country north of Orillia, as seen from the railway cars, is extremely bleak and forbidding. After leaving Severn, the granite-formation crops up to the surface, forming the height of land between Lakes Simcoe and Couchiching and Lake Muskoka. To the south, however, there are tracts of fine farming land; while to the north, this ridge being passed over, lies a wide arable country which is being rapidly peopled by thrifty settlers. In spite of many drawbacks, prominent among which is the inhospitable appearance of the approaches to the country, the extensive region of Muskoka has made remarkable progress. It was thrown open for settlement by the Crown Lands Department fifteen or sixteen years ago. In 1861 the district of Muskoka proper contained about 300 souls; in 1871 the population was estimated at between 5,000 and 6,000, and at the present time, including outlying portions which generally pass under the name of Muskoka, the people are thought to number about 10,000. The splendid chain of Muskoka lakes afford an easy and uninterrupted line of communication for about one hundred miles, and are available for steamers about one half that distance. The steamboats owned by Mr. Cockburn, which ply of these waters, have undoubtedly been of great utility in settling up the country, and also afforded excursionists an opportunity of seeing many beautiful stretches of wood and stream in the district which could not otherwise have been reached. As a sporting resort, Muskoka is widely known.
The extension of the Northern Railway northward has an important bearing on the question of the tapping of the Pacific Railroad at French River in the interests of Toronto, so as to direct a considerable portion of the trade of the Northwest to that and other cities in Ontario. The charter of the Extension railways Company gave them power to extend their line to Bracebridge, and that power is, by the amalgamation of the Company with the Northern, transferred to the latter corporation. It is, however, very doubtful whether that authority will be exercised, at all event for many years to come. The distance from Gravenhurst to the mouth of French River is only 90 miles, and it is confidently believed that the country does not present any exceptional difficulties to railroad construction. Should the preliminary survey undertaken by the Ontario and Pacific Junction Railway Company be attended with favourable results, there will, no doubt be a line carried north of effect a junction with the Georgian Bay branch of the Pacific at an early date. By the terms of the Northern Company's Act, the Company are obliged to give running powers over their line to other railroad corporations. The completion of the road to Gravenhurst may, therefore, be regarded as the first link in the line between Toronto and French River, the second link of which will be supplied by the Ontario and Pacific Junction Company at the earliest practical day. The line from Barrie to Orillia was opened in Nov. 1871, to Washago in Sept. 1872, to Severn in Nov. 1874, and to Gravenhurst this 13th Nov., 1875.
A special train, comprising four cars and two engines, gay with bunting, on acting as pilot, left
Brockvilledepot for Gravenhurst at 8 o'clock, under the charge of Mr. P. Clarke, jr., Mechanical Superintendent. There was a large party of gentlemen onboard from Toronto, and additions were received at stations on the way. Among those present were:—Messrs. R. Bell, M.P.P.; W. McDougall, M.P.P.; George Laidlaw, President of the Credit Valley Railway; H.S. Howland; W. Thomson, President Northern Railway; Major Greig, Ald. Adamson, J.B. Robinson, M.P., C.J. Campbell, Ald. Turner, Noah Barnhardt, Hon. F. Smith, W. Eliott, and Robt. Jaffray, Directors of the Northern Railway; F.W. Cumberland, Managing Director; T. Hamilton, Secretary; B. Cumberland, Traffic Inspector; G.D. Boulton, solicitor; J. Harvie, Traffic Master; Owen Jones, Chief Engineer, C.W. Postlethwaite, Purchasing Agent, N.C.Ry.; W.H. Howland and H.L. Hime, Directors late Northern Extension Railway; Hon. T.B. Pardee, Hon. C. Wood, S. Broughton, Manager Great Western Railway; Aldermen Baxter, Colwell, Cornnell, Tinnlog; J.R. Silliman, W.F. McMaster, J.D. Edgar, John Burns, T. McCracken, Alex. Manulog, H. Colwell, S.W. Farrell, W. Ramsay, James Graham, E.A. Smith, S.C. Kennedy, D. C. Ridout, N. Dickey, James Goode, J. Ginty, Hn. G.W. Allan, F.C. Capreol, R.M. Wells, John Dickinson, Hon. J. McMorrich, Major R.L. Denison, W.T. Kiely, Mr. Nicholson, Dominion Emigration Agent for Scotland; Mr. Jones, representative of the Emigration League, England. The run to Gravenhurst was performed in about five hours and a half, including a short halt at Allandale for lunch. Between Severn and the Northern terminus several gangs of men were still at work, and the lustily cheered the pioneer train as it passed by. At the Gravenhurst depot, which is a neat and commodious station-house, a crowd of inhabitants of Muskoka Township, including Reeve, Mr J.P. Cockburn, Mr. Cockburn, N.P., Mr. [Clarence] Moberley, &c., were assembled, and gave the visitors a cordial welcome. The party then walked to the edge of Muskoka Lake and went onboard one of Mr. Cockburn's steamers for a short trip.
Presentation of an address
While onboard a meeting was organized; and the Reeve, on behalf of the residents of the township, presented an address to the President f the Road. The address was in the following terms:—
"To Wm. Thomson, Esq.,
"President of the Northern Railway of Canada,
"We, the inhabitants of the village of Gravenhurst, and of the township of Muskoka, tender you a hearty welcome to our midst. We congratulate yourself and colleagues on the success which has attended your spirited efforts in completing a work for which the country is primarily indebted to the unselfish enterprise of your predecessors, Hon. Frank Smith and his associate directors of the Northern Extension Railway Company. We are satisfied you will reap a rich and speedy return from your undertaking, whilst we are equally certain that this district will quickly lead in agricultural and commercial prosperity. We cannot allow the occasion to pass without thanking your managing director, Mr. Cumberland, for this untiring energy and ability in having so successfully carried out the financial arrangements for the construction of this railway—a task few men would have undertaker in the face of the unusual difficulties which beset the enterprise from its inception until its completion.
"Signed, on behalf of the inhabitants,
"Reeve of the Township of Muskoka"
Mr. Thomson, in acknowledging the address, which was handsomely illuminated, said,—"Gentlemen inhabitants of Muskoka,—On behalf of the Northern Railway Company of Canada I thank you for the cordial welcome you have extended to us on arriving by our line at Gravenhurst. You are, as you justly express in your address, primarily indebted to a few enterprising citizens of Toronto who had foresight to discern and energy enough to secure the advantages to be attained by railway construction to this point. We believe that the work now inaugurated is pregnant with the nest interests alike of your district and of our city. We see in it a means by which territory yet undeveloped may be brought into active industry, and made to contribute to the commercial strength of our country. We shall rejoice and be fully rewarded for whatever efforts have been put forth in promotion of an undertaking the construction of which is so well calculated to contribute to the strength and prosperity of our Province and to open up a highway stretching out toward our great North-western territories. Reciprocating your kindly greeting, we trust that today a basis had been laid of a connection between your district and the city of Toronto of a permanent and stable character, which shall have its fruition in the future prosperity of both, and create a lasting combination of interests resulting in mutual advantage.
Col. Cumberland expressed his pleasure at the cordial reception tendered the party by the people of Muskoka, and his satisfaction that they had not forgotten the services of the original promoter of the undertaking—Hon. Frank Smith. He trusted the new line would tend to the prosperity of the township and to the development of the commerce of Toronto.
Hon. Frank Smith, in response to loud calls, briefly expressed his thanks for the warm welcome. He said the Extension Railways Company had always been resolved to reach the waters of the Muskoka lakes. This task they had accomplished, but its fulfillment was largely due to the energy and indomitable perseverance of Col. Cumberland.
On the boat reaching the shore the company proceeded to the Township Hall—a frame building of respectable dimensions, which was soon crowded, there being about four hundred persons present. Dinner was there provided by the Township. The interior of the hall was gaily ornamented with evergreen and motto decorations, in which Mr. Cumberland was termed "the Railway Pioneer of the Free Grant Districts", and Mr. Cockburn "the Pioneer of our Lake Navigation". A band, which was stationed in the gallery, played several lively selections during the repast.
The usual loyal and patriotic toasts were given by the Chairman, the Reeve, and warmly received and honoured.
Major Denison replied for the "Army, Navy, and Volunteers".
Hon. G.W. Allan acknowledged the toast of "The Legislators of the Dominion and of Ontario". As representing the Senate he claimed for that body the credit of doing good service in legislation, notwithstanding the "chaff" of some young members of the House of Commons that the Upper House was a body of old women; and he trusted the day would never come when the toast of the Senate would be received otherwise than with cordiality. (Applause.) As a Canadian he did not yield to the representative of "Canada First" in his attachment to the Dominion, which he trusted would always remain part of the British Empire, and felt proud of "Canada, our Home". Any one who had foretold a comparatively short time ago that so large an assemblage should meet there to celebrate the opening of the railroad to Gravenhurst would have been thought a far-seeing prophet. Only a short time ago that part of the country was as little known to the citizens of Toronto as was the farthest point in the North-west today. He trusted the construction of the railroad would be followed by benefits to the communities at both termini. The interests of the Northern Railway and of Toronto were identical, and that last link of road would prove, he hoped, but one step towards securing for the railway a large share of that traffic which would be brought from the North-western country. If there was one road more than another that would aid Toronto in securing that trade, it was the Northern Railway. (Hear.) The citizens of Toronto would feel that, in constructing the road to Gravenhurst, an important step had been taken towards bringing the products of the soil and forests to the markets with greater facility.
Mr. Cockburn, M.P., replied on behalf of the House of Commons. He congratulated the county on the event of that day, which would be productive of much benefit to Toronto and the Province of Ontario. By the completion of the railway to its northern terminus, Muskoka had been emancipated from many disabilities under which it had laboured in the past, and an outlet had been provided for the lumber trade. He thanked those by whose efforts that happy result had been brought about, chief among whom was Col. Cumberland. By some persons his actions had been misunderstood, but if examined, they would be found to be dictated by a desired to serve the interests of his Company, and also those of the country. The work which had been accomplished was a stepping-stone towards reaching Lake Nipissing and tapping the Pacific Railway. (Applause.) He was informed that with the completion of the line from Washago to Gravenhurst there was no difficultly in building the road on to Nipissing. After complimenting Mr. Moberley, the contractor, the speaker concluded by expressing his interest in the welfare of the Northern Railway, which he was glad was the railway to penetrate the Muskoka district.
Hon. Mr. Pardee also spoke briefly. He remarked that the road just completed afforded an outlet during the summer months for the trade of the country lying between the Ottawa River and Georgian Bay, but they should not reset satisfied with a summer route, but urged that a railway should be built into the interior country which should be settled. Railways preceded colonization, and he trusted that and some other lines would be extended to the Pacific Railway, if not further. (Applause.) Had it not been for the energy of Col. Cumberland and the contractor, the people of Muskoka would not have obtained the advantages of railway communication at such an early day. He hoped the time was not far distant when they would celebrate the opening of a road into the interior of the country. (Applause.)
Mr. Wm. McDougall, M.P.P., expressed his belief that the Northern Railway had proved of more advantage to the people of Toronto as a pioneer in opening up the country that any other road which had been constructed. The great trunk lines, such as the Grand Trunk and the Great Western, enjoyed advantages not possessed by the Northern, but it was satisfactory to know that the latter, which was a colonization road, had been attended with success. It might be prudent not to express his views on matter connected with the railway and the county of Simcoe, which would be brought before the Legislature, but in dealing with such questions he trusted all political and party feelings would be cast aside. (Applause.)
Mr. J.C. miller, M.P.P., referred to the position of Muskoka in 1868, when he settled there, at which time there were not more than 1,000 people in the whole district, where there were now 10,000. He thought the Provincial Government had not sufficiently aided the construction of the railway, while the Dominion Government were using all efforts to build a road to British Columbia, whose population did not exceed that of Muskoka.
Mr. J.B. Robinson, M.P., thanked many friends present for aiding him in this election, and then reminded the company that he had induced the Corporation of Toronto to give $200,000 to the Northern Railway and that was done against the opposition of some of the best and ablest citizens. He said he had been present at every celebration in connection with the railway. He remembered the celebration of the shores of Lake Simcoe, when it was said that the tapping of that district would be in the best interest of Toronto. The construction of the additional mileage to Gravenhurst was "a big thing" for Muskoka and Toronto were thereby united to the benefit of both communities. Whether as citizen, alderman, or member of Parliament, he tendered to the President and those interested in the advancement of the Northern Railway his best support, and he pledged himself to do all within his power to advance its interests. (Applause.)
The Chairman proposed the toast of "The Northern Railway Company and Northern Extension Railways Company", coupled with the names of Mr. W.R. Thomson and Hon. Frank Smith.
Mr. Thomson, in acknowledging the toast, said he felt gratified at being present as the head of the directorate of the Northern Railway to celebrate the accomplishment of that which they had long desired—the extension of the road to the waters of Muskoka. The Northern Railway had added fifteen miles to its length, and it had reached the point of territory which must in the future contribute very largely to its revenue and earnings. They did not anticipate that those results would immediately flow from reaching that point, but they certainly did look forward to a good return at an early day for the large expenditure which the Company had incurred. (Applause.) The Northern Railway Company was not in a position, when the Extension Lines were talked about, to prosecute any further their line of road. The capital account of the Company was closed and could not be reopened. They were largely indebted to the Dominion Government, and without that debt being wiped off, it was impossible for the Company to build another mile of railway. But so important did it seem to the people of Toronto to penetrate the more remote district to the north of the city, that a Company was formed to prosecute and build the Extension Railways, which now formed part of the Northern Railway of Canada. (Applause.) The people of Toronto and Muskoka could not feel too thankful to those gentlemen for the labour they had bestowed in accomplishing the object which they were assembled to celebrate. They had spent many years of great anxiety, and had become responsible individually for large sums of money; but had it not been for the credit of the Northern Railway Company in London, which endorsed the notes of those gentlemen, and for the energy of their Managing Director, whose word seemed to taken [illegible—for gospel] in London—(laughter and applause) the road could not have been built at so early a day. The road had been built without any outside aid except that of the Government and the city of Toronto, and the results which would flow from it, he hoped, would exceed their most favourable anticipations.
Hon. Frank Smith, in replying to the toast, complimented Col. Cumberland on the success which had always attended his financial negotiations in England. He urged upon this bearem [sic] to ask Parliament to make the Northern Railway the highway to the Pacific, and said that the people of Ontario would not be true to their own interests if they neglected the opportunity afforded to take such action.
Mr. W.H. Howland spoke to the toast of "The commercial interests of Toronto, and the northern country now connected by railway". Adverting to the yearly visits made that district by the Muskoka Club, of Toronto, he claimed to have aided in the settlement of some of the Islands in Lake Joseph. He complimented the settlers on their energy and perseverance, and remarked that since the Northern Railway had been extended to Orillia much addition trade had flowed to Toronto, which would increase with coming years. As a Director of the Extension Lines Company, he had always found that Col. Cumberland took a wide view of all questions and looked to the future. He concluded by giving the health of the Managing Director of the Northern Railway.
Col. Cumberland, in reply, said that good and evil report, in the presence of the most generous assistance of the most able men of the community, but in the presence also of distrust, suspicion, and misunderstanding, the Company had kept on the even tenor of their way, determined never to stop until at all events Gravenhurst was reached. As a railway expert his policy would be, if again charged with the responsibilities of legislation, to map out the country so as to concentrate its financial strength only on selected channels of communication, so that the works might be rapidly completed and the settlement of the country encouraged. It was a bitter disappointment that the line to Gravenhurst was not completed four years ago. They had no aid except from the Government and the city of Toronto, because, though aid was offered by Barrie and Orillia, it was coupled with such conditions as to leave no margin. With the Government subsidy and the aid of Toronto the Company had built the road, and the Government subsidy was so small that between the time it was granted and the rails laid the price of iron had so changed as to sink it. He trusted the Legislature would devote its attention to adopting certain channels of railroad connection to open up the country so that the front settlements should not turn their backs upon the rear, and concluded by expressing his entire confidence in the officers of the Company.
Ald. Baxter offered a few words in response to the sentiment "Our guests—the Corporation of Toronto and County Council of Simcoe".
Ald. Turner also poke to the toast. He excused himself for making a speech, first, because of the lateness of the hour, and second, because it was generally supposed that owing to the event of the previous Saturday, he was at present labouring under great depression of spirits, and for this reason he might ask to be excused. (Laughter.) However, as Mr. Robinson had referred to the contest in West Toronto, he (Ald. Turner) gladly availed himself of this first public opportunity of congratulating him upon his election, and hoped that while his honourable friend would appreciate ably discharge the responsible duties of the position, he would bear the honour with that modest diffidence which was so pleasing a characteristic of all great men. (Applause.) The city of Toronto and the district of Muskoka were deeply interested in the event which they were today called upon to celebrate, and he was glad to hear Mr. Robinson say that both in his legislative and individual capacity he would do all in his power to assist the Northern Railway is securing whatever legislation might be deemed necessary to place the road and its connections on a prosperous and sound financial basis. This was the more gratifying, inasmuch as an impression had gone aboard that his honourable friend was not as loyal to the company as his speech that day indicated. Whatever doubt therefore existed was now entirely removed, and he (Ald. Turner) felt assured, from the positive manner in which Mr. Robinson had spoken, that he would take the earliest opportunity of proving his sincerity. (Hear, hear.) Referring tot he remark of Mr. Robinson that it was he who had been chiefly instrument in inducing the city of Toronto to give the sum of $200,000 in aid of the Northern Road, Alderman Turner said he had no desire to deprive the hon. gentleman of any credit that was justly due to him, but the fact was that it was not a gift but simply a stock subscription, and one of the present obstacles in the way of that financial elasticity essential to the future success of the road was the very stock held by the city of Toronto and the county of Simcoe. (Hear, hear.) The former municipality had within the past few years given bonuses in aid of other railways to the extent of $700,000, and in view of that fact he thought they could well afford to surrender the stock, and thus make it a bonus to the road that above all others had proved most beneficial to the city, and he must once more state his regret that both municipalities had not promptly and cheerfully done so. (Applause.) He expressed his high sense of the liberality and discernment of the Council of 1870 in granting a bonus of $100,000 in order to enable the Extension Company to tap the water of Lake Muskoka at Gravenhurst, for he felt assured that it was one of the most judicious and profitable investments that the city ever made. (Hear, hear.) And as proof that the present Council were as alive as their predecessors to the advantages accruing from the connection, they had voted the sum of $10,000 to aid in making the preliminary surveys for the construction of another hundred miles of road running north. (Applause.) He was pleased to hear a Minister of the Crown speak so encouragingly as he had done today, and, notwithstanding the reticence of one of the leaders of the Opposition, he felt sure that nothing short of a continuation of the road through the heart of the Free Grant territory to the Pacific Road and Lake Nipissing would satisfy either the people of the section or the city of Toronto. (Applause.) On behalf of the city of Toronto he thanked them for their cordial response to the toast, and, referring to the mutual interest which both had in the road just completed, congratulated the municipality of Muskoka on being that day brought into railway communication with the commercial centre and capital of the Province. (Loud applause.)
Mr. John Hogg replied on behalf of the County Council of Simcoe.
Col. Cumberland gave the healths of the Chief Engineer and the Contractor of the road, to which Mr. Owen Jones and Mr. Clarence Moberley briefly responded.
Mr. Thomson proposed "The Ontario and Pacific Junction Railway", in connection with the name of Mr. J.D. Edgar, President of that Company. He said that it was an undertaking that had been alluded to already by different speakers, and its importance to Toronto and Ontario could not be exaggerated. (Applause.)
Mr. Edgar, who was warmly received, said that he regarded the railway achievements of the past that they were celebrating today as an earnest of what could accomplished in further extension northward. Gravenhurst was an important point to have reached, but there were loud calls upon us to go forward and onward. The settlers struggling in the backwoods called for nearer markets, the large tracts of pine timber remote from streams demanded cars to carry their lumber away, the valley of the Maganetawan spread out its fertile acres before them, and the waters of Lake Nipissing and the Upper Ottawa promised to place a splendid trade within their grasp. The Georgian Bay Branch Railway was actually under construction, and while a large new section of Ontario would be opened up by it, the trade would go straight thought to Montréal unless we were ready to be up there and complete for it. The whole from of Ontario from Hamilton to Belleville was pressing its railways to this point and converging here, and it would be an extraordinary state of affairs if such great interests could not secure the construction of a common neutral line to connect Gravenhurst with the branch of the Pacific. Was Ontario, with its large surplus, to lag behind the sister Province of Québec, which had just adopted the hold but wise and patriotic policy of opening up by a railway, the great region north of the St. Lawrence to settlement and civilization? He was glad to hear the Commissioner of Crown Lands speak with so much confidence of the liberal policy that should be pursued in this matter, and hoped that the Legislature would next session place this line on so sound a financial basis as to secure active construction next summer. (Applause.)
"Success to the Township of Muskoka" was then pledged by the company, which retired from the hall after giving cheers for the Queen.
The journey to Toronto was made in about four hours, the party arriving in the city at about eleven o'clock.
Ref: Muskoka Wharf