The wonderful advantages which nature has entrusted to Canada are still further emphasized when her geographical position is taken into consideration, and upon this fact must largely be determined the transportation business between the various continents of the world. National interdependence is a fact made evident by the remotest history of our race ; one people have ever demanded the products of another. The east and the west, the north and the south; have from time immemorial met in the world’s marts, finding transportation for their wares through various means. There may. be a mighty gulf between the ancient caravan and the modern express train, but the one is the lineal descendent of the other. The modern steamship has been evolved from the most primitive craft. It is not now the rich, as of old, who demand the luxuries from the ends of the earth, but almost the humblest of the common people count them among the necessities of their everyday life.
This is the time of keen competition in the commercial world, demanding strictest economy, and on no condition does this depend so much as upon cheap and rapid transportation between the markets of the world. Days, and even hours, consumed between ports in the transportation of freight, mails and passengers are matters of great importance ; it means all the difference between success and failure in commercial transactions. These conditions are becoming more and more the feature of the times in which we live, and must in the near future become of still greater importance.
In view of these facts it is of interest for us to look briefly at the possibilities of Canada in the matter of transportation, as indicated by her geographical position, in relation to the great centres of the world’s commerce. On the one side of us is England and the continent of Europe, while on the other is Japan, China and the Orient generally, all of which countries, both European and Asiatic, are densely populated, and demand ever more and more of the products of each other. It is, therefore, interesting to note that through Canada lies the shortest possible pathway between these two widely separated sections of the globe. It is not necessary here to submit any extended table of Atlantic or Pacific distances in support of this contention, it is sufficient to say that Sydney, Cape Breton, is about seven hundred and fifty miles nearer to Liverpool than New York, and is nearer Cape Horn or Good Hope than even New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico.
The position of Vancouver, and more especially Port Simpson, on the Pacific coast, is equally advantageous as related to transpacific ports when compared with San Francisco ; and strange as it may seem, the northern rail haul is not as long as the southern.
It is true that Canada has as yet received very little, if any, advantage from this most advantageous position given her by nature, though it is believed that the advantage of the Canadian route cannot long be ignored. The prejudices and vested interests which have stood in the way on both sides of the Atlantic, cannot much longer work to the detriment, not only of Canada, but of the commerce of the world in general. Pacific connections with the C. P. R. and the East are at present quite superior to any on the Pacific Ocean ; and if Canada had a line of transatlantic steamers of the most modern type and speed, the success of the route would be assured, and the voyage from England to America would easily be reduced to three and one-half days.
Doubtless the near future will witness interesting developments in the matter of a Canadian rapid transit route for mails, passengers and freight between the Orient and the Occident. ” A fast steamship line to Canada will go farther towards the completion of an Imperial girdle of singular value and impressiveness, which, coupled with the all-British cable, cannot fail to exercise an important influence upon future naval and military developments. By P. and O. from London to Japan, from Yokohama to Vancouver by one of the fine liners of the Canadian Pacific Railway, across Canada by Canadian Pacific Railway, from Sydney, Cape Breton, or other selected terminus by quick steamer to Liverpool, should mean something very much under Jules Verne’s eighty days, and stirring, indeed, is the thought that this brisk circuit would be completed entirely under the British flag.”