Friday, June 21, 1872 The Woodstock Sentinel (Woodstock) Page 2, col. 3

Railway meeting.

On Saturday last [June 15, 1872] a large and influential meeting of the ratepayers of Port Dover and adjoining country was held in the Town Hall, to consider the important question of Railway communication to this section of the country. O. Ansley, Esq., Reeve of Woodhouse, was called to the chair, supported by B. Powell, Esq., Deputy Reeve, and James Riddle, Esq., was requested to act as Secretary.

Dr. N. O. Walker, then addressed the meeting, explaining the object of the meeting, and after briefly alluding to the causes which led to the defeat of the By-law submitted by the Council, of the Corporation of the County of Norfolk, for the sanction of the ratepayers of the County, he earnestly urged upon the representatives of rival schemes present, the necessity of unity of action, so that the want so urgently felt by the County, for railway communication with the through lines North, might not be forever, unsatisfied, by rival outside interests. He said that if now, as heretofore, two rival companies should oppose each other before the people, no one scheme which would be presented could possible meet the general support of the people. He alluded to the cordial manner, in which the people of Port Dover and vicinity, had on all occasions, received every feasible project; and begged the gentlemen from Woodstock and Brantford present, to view the people of Port Dover as favored suitors and if they could not arrive at a conclusion which of the schemes was the most worthy we might possibly agree to wed both of them, a bigamy in railway unions was not forbidden by statute. The Doctor's remarks were well received and he his seat amid great applause.

Andrew Thompson, Esq., was next called upon and said, that he believed the time had passed for Railway bonuses, therefore, it would devolve upon the enterprise of the people, who felt the necessity of railway communication, and let them put their hands in their pockets, and out of [their] private means, libearlly contribute towards securing the railway facilities so ardently desired, and they would have the satisfaction of, even benefitting those, who blindly and unreasonably opposed all railroad schemes,against their own wills. He said he was ready to assist in this, or in any other way, to the utmost of his ability; and strongly urged upon the meeting to throw aside every prejudice and cordially unite in adopting the scheme best calculated to promote the public good.

Wm. Grey, Esq., Mayor of Woodstock, next addressed the meeting, and after expressing the great pleasure he felt in meeting the people, of Woodhouse and Port Dover, on this occasion. He said that although the people of Woodstock and Port Dover had been estranged from each other in railway matters, for some time past, still it was but a temporary interruption of acquaintance, and he hoped that this attempt to renew acquaintance, would result in reviving the old affection and culminate in the complete success of railway communication from Woodstock to Port Dover. He did no appear at this meeting solely as the representative of the interests of Woodstock, but also to consult with the people of Norfolk as to the proper steps to be taken to utilize our common property, namely, the W. & P. D. Railway line, upon which so much of our money had been expended, and make it serviceable to all the municipalities concerned. He stated that men of railway experience had estimated the grading and improvements on the line to be equivalent to a bonus of $4,000 a mile, but unless it was utilized, under the new charter, it would be a total loss. He was not quite in accord with the views expressed by Mr. Thompson in regard to the bonuses, but firmly believed, that the intelligent farmers of every township along the line would see it their interest, to come forward and liberally aid this feasible and practicable scheme which would secure to them railway facilities, by which their property will be greatly increased in value. It was not his intention to criticize the project advocated by the friends from Brantford, but he did consider that he had been unfairly dealt with at the Simcoe public meeting, when the Brantford friends taunted him and his friend Mr. Oliver.with coming before the people of Norfolk with nothing to show in the shape of charter. He now held in his hand a charter, granting the most favorable conditions any railway charter could contain, and he felt satisfied that the intelligent people of Port Dover and of the County of Norfolk would avail themselves of the privileges of this charter and join with the people of the Norwiches and Woodstock for the purpose of sustaining their joint interest in this railway. This opportunity once lost might be for ever, and it would be a lasting regret, should it be allowed to slip away. The Provisional Company under this charter is now properly organized and will as soon as the private stock subscribed amounts to $100,000 be in a position to enter into arrangements to complete the whole line, and further the town of Woodstock had a recent public meeting resolved to grant a bonus of $50,000 towards the construction of this railway project. He pressed upon the meeting the necessity of persistent and energetic efforts on the part of the people of this section, and there was no doubt of their efforts being crowned with success. After several appropriate remarks connected with the great advantages the completion of this Railway would confer upon the several municipalities through which it passed, he took his seat amid great applause.

W. J. Imlach, Esq., next addressed the meeting, in the interests of the Norfolk Railway Company. He said in coming before this meeting as having been beaten on the By-law, he would have to go further into the matter. He did not acknowledge being beaten—nor would the Company he represented recognize the term. The By-law was hurried forward contrary to the wishes of the Company, and local interests and the absence of definite points of location and the terminus at Port Dover caused the defeat of th By law. He could not agree with Dr. Walker, that it was possible for two rival companies to agree upon united action, at least, not until the coming of the millennium. The position we now stand in is this, having advantages, not equalled by any other local road, it being part and parcel of the Great Western, one of the best, if not the best institution in the country, giving us facilities, not possessed by the Woodstock or any other line, and already in connection with Lake Huron. Speaking of the coal trade, he said the Norfolk road would draw a much larger business than the Woodstock line. The Great Western required a large quantity themselves, by their connection with the lines running North and West. They would be able to deliver coal cheaper by the Norfolk road from Port Dover, than it could be done by the Welland Canal. The Company never deviated from the opinion, that Port Dover would be the terminus of the Norfolk road, and no other place. The Company would once more appear before the County Council, when they would be prepared with something definite and satisfactory. In a few days the Norfolk Railway Company expected to meet, in conference, with the President of the English Board of the Great Western, who is now in this country, when with the aid of the local Directors any side issues that may have arisen will be dispelled, and his appearance with his friend Mr. Watt was evidence that they had no intention of giving up the scheme and he hoped that before the expiration of two years the locomotive whistle would be heard at Port Dover.

Mr. McWhinnie, was next called to the platform, and expressed the great pleasure he had in appearing before so large and influential a meeting as this, and certainly it augured well for the future success of this railway undertaking, to see the people of this section so much alive to the necessity of railway facilities. He perfectly agreed with Mr. Imlach that the two schemes now presented could not work together, as there was no common ground upon which, in the working out of the two projects, the promoter of either could stand. He felt assured that the people of Woodhouse and the County of Norfolk would see the vital importance, in all their interests, to unite with their old friends the people of Woodstock, and join hands in lifting from total extinction a project, which had by the most rascally dishonesty, cost our people so much, the effects of which were still pressing upon those municipalities interested in the Woodstock & Port Dover Railway; but he felt that in defence of right and justice, the Government ought to relieve those municipalities of this incubus which has so long retarded the progress of this section of the country, depreciated the value of real property and depressed the energies of the people. He thought he might with perfect confidence appeal to his friends, of Brantford, although advocating a rival scheme, for their cordial co-operation in aiding them, if union of action was required, to obtain relief in that respect, inasmuch as by the action of the Government and the legislature, our security in the road was completely taken out of our hands—in fact—the legal tribunal of our land, justified on one occasion, the position taken by the municipalities concerned, and decided that the Government had no claim upon them in equity. He then gave statistics which showed clearly that the amount of funds required, to place the Woodstock & Port Dover Railway upon a perfectly practical basis, was much less than what would be necessary to float the Brantford scheme, and the benefits which would accrue to Port Dover and surrounding country from the former, than could possibly be expected from the latter scheme presented by the friends from Brantford. The current of our manufactures flowed north and westward and salt and coal two important staple articles would seek this transit to supply the wants of the people. To place the Port Dover and Lake Huron Railway Company in a position to appoint its Board of Directors and enable them to enter into negotiations with the Great Southern Railway Company, or any other railway company which would secure the completion of a competing railway it was necessary to obtain subscribed stock to the amount of $100,000 of which ten per cent must be paid, and placed in one of the Chartered Banks of the Province. The work done on the Port Dover and Woodstock road is already equal to a bonus of $4000 per mile besides a preferential right to the facilities of the Port Dover Harbor which belonged to the Woodstock and Lake Erie Company. A bonus of $2,000 per mile from the municipalities would make this scheme the most practicable railway project yet presented. With regard to the auspices under which the Norfolk Railway Company took its birth and had its being, namely, the Great Western of Canada as Mr. Imlach boasted. Mr. McWhinnie did not think it advantageous to the Commerical, Agriculatural or Manufacturing interests of the country to form such mammoth corporations of that kind, as without competition was absent. But without further [illegible] the meeting by a more extended consideration of the advantages of the Woodstock connection, he said, that the presence of the Mayor of Woodstock and himself at this meeting was more particularly for the purpose of [ascertaining] the feeling of the people of this section who were so closely allied with the people of Woodstock and equally interested with them in the revival of this line of railway. He trusted the people here would carefully consider their own interests and minutely compare the cost and advantages of this scheme with that of the scheme advocated by the friends from Brantford, and he felt convinced that the conclusion would be in favor of the Woodstock and Lake Erie Railway in which all the municipalities from Port Dover to Woodstock are equally interested.

Mr. Watts of Brantford, next addressed the meeting. He would not enter upon a critical comparison of those railroad schemes which had been presented to this large ad intelligent meeting he was satisfied to leave that comparison to the judgment of the people themselves, and would content himself by placing the position in which the Norfolk R. R. now was fairly before the meeting. He would warn this meeting in the outset that failure was a term unknown to the projecter of this scheme, they would in their next appeal to County of Norfolk take the matter in their own hands and see that every ratepayer in the interested municipalities would have a clear understanding of the details of this Company's project, he quite agreed with Mr. McWhinnie that railway competition was a vital necessity to large cities and instanced the Harriburgh Branch which the people of Brantford had obtained at a cost of $80,000 and the advantages accruing to the commercial interests of Brantford is worth thrice that sum. He further compared the manufacturing facilities of Brantford and stated they were without a compeer in the Dominion and their flour now supplied the market of the Atlantic provinces, and was daily increasing in importance and dimensions; the extension to Lake Huron which was already secured from Brantford by Hamilton, Grey & Bruce, while as the extension from Stratford in the Woodstock scheme was quite hypothetical and extremely problematical be forcibly urged upon the people of Port Dover to co-operate with the people of Brantford in completing this great railway connection between the lakes and across the Peninsula traversed by the great through lines.

The following resolution was moved by Dr. N. O. Walker, seconded by A. Thompson, that a committee composed of the following persons viz: A. Thompson, N. O. Walker, A. Lees, J. Bell, T. L. Gillies, W. Turner, N. E. Lowe, F. Perritt, G. Wilson, O. Aubrey, J. Austin, J. Scott, J. Riddell, J. Alexander, E. Hall, R. Hellyer, W. Roe, L. C. P. O. McCoy, O. Austin, [illegible] Waddell, J. Beanpu, E. Hammond, [illegible] McBridge, B. Varey, P. S. Bagley, F. P. Guy, P. Lawson, J. Decow, H. Roberts. D. Sharp, C. Dixon, R. Waddell and B. Powell be appointed with power to add to their number to assist in maturing the Port Dover and Lake Huron, the Norfolk or any other projected railway terminating at this Port and to confer with the directors of any of the above Companies for said purposes.

A vote of thanks was cordially tendered to the delegates from Woodstock and Brantford for their attendance and services at this meeting—thus ended one of the most enthusiastic railway meetings ever held at Port Dover, and with the happiest results, in bright prospect.

Railways: Pt.D. & L.H.Ry.