|Saturday, January 29, 1898||The Globe (Toronto)||Page 5, col. 5|
Parry Sound trade.
How bad railway communication affects it.
A loss of thousands.The worth of the lumber trade to Toronto.
That twenty-two hours' wait at Scotia Junction—A visit to Canoe Lake.
Parry Sound, Jan. 19 (Special.)—It took thirty hours to reach this town from Toronto, and as at 7 o'clock this evening I finished a journey of some 210 miles, which began at twenty minutes past 1 yesterday afternoon, I was not disposed to wonder that the good people of Parry Sound are becoming more and more detached from Toronto, their former distributing centre. Railway communication can exhibit strange freaks, and in this case it has outdone itself. There is but one passenger train a day in each direction on the Ottawa, Arnprior & Parry Sound Railway, which already is locally known as the Canada Atlantic, and when at 7 o'clock yesterday evening I reached Scotia Junction it was not consoling to know that the western-bound Canada Atlantic train had gone towards Parry Sound only two hours before. Scotia Junction is not a large place. It consists of a fairly large station, a decidedly small hotel and a dilapidated Canada Atlantic locomotive, which stands lonesome, sulky and chilly in aspect upon a siding which plays an important part in the freight transactions of the locality. Up the line a matter of a mile and a quarter is Emsdale, a place of some four hundred inhabitants. Around are hills, woods and a swamp. While the hotel can make the wayfarer comfortable enough for the night, the place is ill-supplied with attractions to enliven the wait from morning till dusk. You can leave Parry Sound and be in Toronto in hours; the railways have joined hands to place the town in the unenviable position of being hard to enter and easy to leave, so far as Toronto traffic is concerned.
A long delay.
In this case on sojourner at the Junction had rebelled against the prospect of a day spent in exasperating idleness, and at a trifling additional expense had made an excursion eastwards by the morning Canada Atlantic train as far as Canoe Lake, in Algonquin Park, where Messrs. Gilmour Brothers have a large sawmill, and an Aladdin-like village, the temporary centre of an immense industry. The railway trip past a dozen lakelets and through the dense woods of the park was pleasant, and the hospitality of the representatives of the firm at Canoe lake made an interesting day of it, but that was not fault of the railway connection, and people engaged in business do not usually care to have a whole in the middle of their operations to devote to a dilettante exploration of interesting industrial phenomena. When in the afternoon I boarded the train for the run from Canoe Lake to Parry Sound, I bought an Ottawa newspaper, which contained news which I shall not see in a Toronto paper until this time tomorrow evening. The same train which brings into Parry Sound this morning's Ottawa and yesterday afternoon's Montréal newspapers carries in yesterday;s Toronto newspapers. the Toronto mail is actually sent east to Ottawa and then west to Parry Sound. If Parry Sound continues to do business with Toronto it must possess a contempt for a time which does not usually characterize us nineteenth century folk.
All that can be said as to the cause of delay is that the first overt move came from the Grand Trunk. With a run of some 263 miles to make, over a road which has been so recently completed as to make slow time necessary in many sections, the Canada Atlantic is naturally interested in getting away from Ottawa at a fairly early hour. To make connection with the Grand Trunk train, which formerly left Toronto at 12.50 p.m., the line used to hold its western train back until about 9 o'clock, and the tow crossed at Scotia Junction about 6.30 o'clock. A few weeks ago the Grand Trunk three back its train half hour, so that it leaves Toronto at 1.20 o'clock and Scotia Junction an 7 o'clock; this being done to make connections with western trains at Toronto. The Canada Atlantic declined to put back its time table to correspond, and in fact soon after advanced it to where it is at present, so that the Parry Sound train leaves Scotia Junction two hours before the Grand Trunk train pulls in.
Our railway opponent.
That the Canada Atlantic Railway is not friendly to Toronto is very evident up in these parts. it is a proposition capable of a decided proof. First of all, in its natural desire to increase passenger traffic along its long thinly-stationed line it gives rates that must prove a strong temptation towards east and west travel, and which are evidently designed to get Parry Sound people into the habit of visiting Ottawa and Montréal. At present here are bills out over the country side announcing a $3 fare from Parry Sound and a number of contiguous points to the Ottawa ice races. Single fare excursions to Ottawa re given twice a week. This, of course, is in the ordinary course of business. The Gilmours' employees at Canoe Lake can tell of further evidence of this policy which has attained to some degree of local celebrity. Gilmours' people are almost to a man inhabitants of Trenton, and Toronto has been their distributing centre so long that it seems like home to them. Hitherto their route homewards twice a year has been to Scotia Junction, down the Northern to Toronto, where they dealt with the departmental stores, and on to Trenton. It is 37 miles to Scotia Junction and the fare formerly was 95 cents. The whole trip cost something like $10.75. Lately the Canada Atlantic offered an even $5 fare to Trenton, the route being Ottawa, Carleton Junction and the Central Ontario Junction, thus using the Canadian Pacific and Central Ontario Railways. At the same time, while keeping the fare from Scotia Junction to Canoe Lake at 95 cents, they increased the fare from Canoe Lake back to Scotia Junction to $1.25. The Grand Trunk met this with a proportionate cut, and the Gilmour people, or at least the majority of them, still stick to the Toronto route. At Canoe Lake it was stated to me that a case occurred where a man who was going north on the Northern was given the old 95-cent fare, while others who were going to Toronto were charged the increased fare.
Discriminating freight rates.
In freight rates the same thing happens. Enough has been said to show the Toronto preferences of the Gilmour people. Their station at Canoe Lake is in its way a marvellous affair. A year ago the shores of the beautiful lake on which it stands were dense forest; now there is a monster mill, a store, a hospital, offices and a set of boarding houses, and some forty million feet of lumber piled over the ground. When the lease is up the village must vanish; that is the condition of the bargain with the Government. Clustered around it are eleven camps, each with from 75 to 100 men in it. The mill itself employes when running some hundreds of men. It would be safe to say that the average number of men employed there all the year round is 800. These men have to be fed by the company, and it must cost from $75,000 to $80,000 a year to supply provisions alone. The pork comes from Chicago, the fresh meat and vegetables from near Barrie and from Renfrew; but outside these articles there is an immense amount of supplies, such as groceries, etc. which must come from some Canadian distributing centre. Of the total amount, I was informed by an official, who was in an uncommonly good position to know, some $50,000 worth would come from Toronto, were the freight rates equitable. But they are not, and the goods are bought in Ottawa and Montréal. The supplies of ready-made clothing (tailors are few in this part of the world) and of boots and shoes needed are enormous, and they, too, come from the east. Some of Sanford's good come to the camp via Montréal.
Why is this the case? The freight rate per hundred weight from Ottawa to Canoe Lake, 176 miles, is within a cent and a quarter of the rate from Scotia Junction to Canoe Lake, 37 miles. There is a loss of at least $100,000 yearly to Toronto in the matter of supplies alone. In addition to this, the lumber goes eastward, and were the rates propitious, a good quantity would probably go to Toronto, to be shipped to Rochester and Buffalo, if not to Oswego. At present much of it finds its way via Ottawa to Kingston. Thus the intervention of the Canada Atlantic Railway deprives Toronto of a large annual trade from this camp alone. Previous to the opening of the line the supplies for the company's camps were drawn from Toronto, going by rail to Huntsville, from there by water to Dorset on the Lake of Bays, and from there being "cadged," to use a lumberman's phrase.
The lumber industry.
Thirty miles east again is Whitney, where the St. Anthony Lumber Company has as large an establishment. Here, too, supplies come from the east. The 32-miles extension of the Grand Trunk from Haliburton might tap this trade, thought it must be remembered that the Whitney people probably have no previous attachment to Toronto. It is difficult, however, to see what trade could be drawn from other points on the Canada Atlantic; Gilmour's, for instance, would probably find rates as high on Toronto goods from Whitney as from Scotia Junction.
This whole district is filled with lumbering industries. There are the two great establishments at Canoe Lake and Whitney. Twenty-three miles east of Scotia Junction, Mr. Brennan of Huntsville has a big limit, and, it is said, will put up a mill. The Victoria Harbor Company has another in the neighborhood. Thirty miles east from Scotia Junction are Messrs. McLeod, McCormick & Sheppard's tow camps. At Rainy Lake, 26 miles east of Scotia Junction, is Messrs. Hale & Booth's limit. McPherson & Co. have a limit twelve miles east of Scotia Junction. At Carney, six miles east of Scotia Junction, there are a couple of mills, one of them a very interesting establishment where birch timber is made into furniture shapes and set in the rough to Britain and Germany. There is talk of a pulp wood industry starting there soon. West of Scotia Junction are more mills and limits. Some of these places which are close to the line of the Northern still buy their supplies from Toronto, but their products very largely go east; the statement was made to me that the Canada Atlantic actually refuses to take business for Toronto. Summing it all up, it would not be far wide of the mark to say that along this east and west belt from Whitney to Parry Sound, there are lumber industries which employ from 3,500 to 4,000 men, and which create annual demand for supplies worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly. Then running northerly from Parry Sound there is another belt of lumber camps which probably employ a couple of thousand more. Good authorities on the lumber trade here support me in saying that there is in this whole district a trade in supplies which is worth somewhere about a million a year. Toronto at present retains the Parry Sound belt, but its hold on the Canada Atlantic belt is feeble and relaxing. Will it hold the Parry Sound trade?
Railways: G.T.Ry., O.A. & P.S.Ry.
Stations: Canoe Lake, Scotia