|Friday, February 28, 1873, Vol. 20, No. 9||The Woodstock Sentinel (Woodstock)||Page 2, col. 1|
The railway meeting.
The friends of the Port Dover and Lake Huron Railway have abundant grounds for satisfaction at the result of the meeting in the Town Hall, on Friday night [Feburary 21]. The merits of the road, its financial position and prospects, and the general character of the management, were all subjected to searching and severe public criticism, and the result was a decisive vote of confidence and unwavering support, by the meeting. This too, in spite of certain designing individuals to prevent it. We allude now, not to the few gentlemen in town who opposed the road from its inception and whose opposition is, therefore, worthy of respect; but to others who calm to be its original promoters and quondam friends, but who, for reasons not difficult to guess, are now its bitterest and most crafty opponents. Unable to influence public confidence in the scheme themselves, they called in the assistant of Mr. Laidlaw and other Toronto gentlemen, whose opposition they supposed, would be more potent. Only the grossest [sic] misrepresentation of public sentiment in Woodstock could have induced Mr. Laidlaw and his friends to interfere with the progress of a road which will not be a rival of, but an aid to the Credit Valley Line. It is needless to add that such misrepresentation was not wanting. The schemer for forestalled the action of the Council in having the meeting called, and who, by making use of one or two others equally anxious to burke the Port Dover scheme, was quite equal to the task of misleading strangers as to the proper course to be pursued in order to secure a bonus for the Credit Valley Company. They were told that the Port Dover and Lake Huron project was a humbug, that its Board of Directors was a bogus one, that the people of Woodstock had lost faith in it, that they regretted having voted $50,000 for its construction last summer, and that nothing more was necessary to induce Woodstock to repudiate that bonus, than the opposition of the Credit Valley Company, and the advocacy of the claims of that road at the meeting by Mr. Laidlaw and other experienced Railway campaigners. Inspired by such counsels, and with the alleged assurance of Mayor Fletcher that the best plan was "to go for them," (the Port Dover Company ) it is not surprising that Mr. Laidlaw was induced to make an onslaught upon the Port Dover and Lake Huron road. Had Mr. Laidlaw remained on the platform until the close of the meeting, he would, doubtless, have discovered how great was the mistake made, and how far from the truth were the misrepresentations of our local schemeres, into whose hands he had for the time fallen. The courtesy always extended to strangers by a Woodstock audience permitted the attack of Mr. Laidlaw and his friends upon the Port Dover project to pass with but little more than a silent demur, put when opposition was attempted by those at home, who had once been its most blatant advocates, the indignation of the meeting became unmistakable and the speakers "wilted." Had the Mayor volunteered an explanation of his connection with the presence of the Toronto gentlemen, the [illegible] irritation shown by the meeting, and all questioning as to their right to be present, would have been avoided. Mr. Fletcher knew, at least a day or two before, that Mr. Laidlaw would be present, if indeed he did not, as alleged, invite him. His conduct under the circumstances was, therefore, neither frank nor manly, and if there was anything unseemly in the action of the meeting towards Mr. Laidlaw and his friends, Mayor Fletcher is mainly responsible.
In reference to the reasons given why Woodstock should refuse to re-vote the bonus of $50,000 to the Port Dover Road, little need be said. Mr. Laidlaw's arguments will avail nothing in causing the ratepayers of this town to break their pledge once given. Neither will his assurance that the road cannot be built, and if built, will never pay, be accepted without question. The people have fully considered these matters long ago, and are not to be thus easily dissuaded from carrying out faithfully and honestly their well-matured convictions. The Port Dover bonus will be re-voted on Monday, and that too by a larger poll than in August last. We warn the ratepayers, however, not to vote, as is proposed in certain quarters, for the Southern road only, but also for that to the North. By voting against the one part, you vote against the other, and the failure of the one means the failure of both. To quote from the Times: "the faith of parties (the Municipalities and Directors) guarantees the entire line."
Railways: Pt.D. & L.H.Ry.