15 October 1845
Letter from Jno. Higgingson (on behalf of Lord Metcalfe, Governor General of British North America) to Wm. Bridges regarding the Halifax to Quebec railway project.
Civil Secretary's Office,
to Wm. Bridges, Esq.,
I have the honor, by command of the Governor General, to acknowledge the receipt of your Letter of the 18th July last, transmitting a Memorial to His Excellency from the Promoters and Provisional Board of the Halifax, Quebec, and Montreal Railway Company, praying:-
1st. A free grant forever of all the unlocated land in the Province of Canada, over which the Line shall pass together with permission to use such timber and other materials along the course of the Railway, as shall be required for the construction of the work.
2d. A pre-emptive right to the Promoters and Shareholders to become the purchasers at each station on the Line of blocks of land, not less in extent than 20,000 acres each, at a minimum price per acre, the purchase money to be paid in ten equal yearly instalments (sic), of which the first shall only become payable at the end of six months from the opening of such portion of the Line as shall be connected with the station to which the said blocks are attached.
3dly. That the Governor and Council of Canada, will be please to recommend this undertaking to the attention and support of the Home Government and otherwise give to the Promoters and Shareholders such assistance and countenance, as may be necessary to obtain for the Company the confidence and co-operation of the British public, and all others locally interested.
I am directed to acquaint you in reply, for the information of the parties from whom this Memorial emanates, that the Governor General in Council has given to it that degree of consideration which the vast importance of the subject merits; and that without offering and opinion on the feasibility of opening a Railroad communication from Montreal to the Pacific Ocean, His Excellency in Council considers that the proposed "chain of steam communication from England to Montreal," is calculated in a high degree to promote the interests and advance the prosperity of Canada, and is an undertaking well worthy of the countenance of this Government, and of the people of this and the neighbouring British Provinces.
The Governor General in Council, without being in possession of more information regarding the proceedings of the Company, is unable to do more than to assure them that they may rely on the Government of this Province for whatever protection and aid it may be consistent to render; and where the Railway may pass through the unconceded lands of the Crown, to confer the right to the Company of using what is necessary for the purposes of the Railroad.
The application for pre-emptive right on the part of the Company to purchase certain blocks of land on the route of the Railroad, will be fully considered hereafter, with reference to the existing laws for the disposal of the waste lands of the Crown,the purposes fo which the Company desire to make such purchases,and the several interests of the Province.
I have, &c.
SOURCE: Nova Scotia Provisional Committee, 1845:26-28