Page 40 - How We Got the Canso Causeway
ISSUE : Issue 25
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1980/6/1
First Great War, 1914-1918....Canada was the granary and partly the arsenal of the Allies; the supply line ran to the seaports at Sydney and Halifax, In all other re? spects the railways achieved prodigious feats in carrying men and materials to At? lantic ports, but at the Strait of Canso, confusion and Exasperating delays were ex? perienced. Rolling stock urgently needed elsewhere piled up at both ends of the ferry, serious losses were incurred from the destruction of perishable goods due to the backing.up of this traffic.... "The story of 1914-1918 repeated itself from 1939 to 1945. When Canada's urgent priority needs were coal from Glace Bay, Sydney Mines, and New Waterford, and steel from Sydney, when the industrialists of the central provinces were at their wits', end for supplies--these vital necessities were forced to trickle through the bottle? neck or hazard a voyage in the* submarine- infested waters of the Gulf. "Another deficiency that has had very ill effects in the past is the costly opera? tion imposed on the Cape Breton mines of banking coal. Stockpiling of coal in the winter runs into large tonnages and adds considerably to the cost of a commodity vital to Canada's industrial life. And it also leaves it in an unfavourable position to compete with American coal in the cen? tral Canadian market. One consequence of this, especially in the pre-war years, was mining in Cape Breton was reduced to the status of a seasonal operation." The pamphlet we are quoting is useful for an understanding of the history and some of the problems the ferry created; it also offers us the particular assumptions and bias of the Canso Crossing Association, a group formed out of the industrial area Boards of Trade. For instance: "In Nova Scotia, the provincial government is spend? ing close to 1.5 million for a causeway to join Cape Sable Island and its 3000 people to the mainland. The provincial government is alert to the fact that it is not enough for people to have the illusion of belong? ing. They must be made to feel that they belong in the truest sense of the word.,,, The continued physical separation of Cape Breton from the mainland of Canada should no longer be tolerated by the people of this country... one can search the whole record of modern development without find? ing a parallel to this situation, where the entire economic and social well-being of 150,000 progressive citizens hangs by such a precarious and fragile thread,... "Among the solutions is one to 'improve' the ferry service. That would be unfortun? ate. The ferry was improved nearly half a century ago when the Scotia replaced the barge Mulgrave and its auxiliary tug. That improvement simply held Cape Breton back. The people of Cape Breton want to be 'an? chored' to Canada, (emphasis ours) not condemned in perpetuity to be separated from it....The cost to be avoided is the cost to the people of Cape Breton of that 'hope deferred which maketh the heart sick.'" Despite that cost, hope would continue to be deferred for another number of years. M. R. Chappell told us that in 1947, fear? ing that the federal government was about to improve the ferry service once again, the Associated Boards of Trade sent W. S. Wilson, John E. McCurdy, and himself to accompany Premier Angus L. Macdonald to Ottawa. For M. R. Chappell it was only one of several such missions to promote a per? manent crossing at the Strait. M. R. Chappell, Sydney: We met with C. D. Howe, Lionel Chevrier, who was Minister of Transport, and J. L. Ilsley (Nova Scotia member of the federal Cabinet), and had quite a session. And Mr, Chevrier--he was hell bent on putting in new ferries at the Strait--everything was going to be new. And they had appropriated I forget how many millions of dollars now, to do that. It had gone through legislature. And I re? member one remark of Mr. McLachlan's, chief engineer--I distinctly remember him saying, "Oh my, why do you want to do away with the Canso ferry crossing? It's a won- Bird Island Tours CAMPING and CABINS A 2 1/2 hour cruise fro • MOUNTAIN VIEW BY THE SEA 4 miles off Trans-Canada Highway at Big Bras d'Or (902)674-2384 CANADA'S UUtGEST AND BEST-KNOWN RECORD STORf SYDNEY SHOPPING MALL, PRINCE ST. Wide selection of every kind of record & cassette. Featuring complete catalogue ordering & accessories, "The only record store you'll ever need." SENATOR'S CORNER, GLACE.BAY IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM, OR IF YOU HAVE A FRIEND WITH A PROBLEM, THAT IS RELATED TO ALCOHOL OR DRUGS, CONTACT US AT THE CAPE BRETON ADDICTION REHABILITATION CENTRE: C. B. Addiction Rehabilitation Centre 14 Local Volunteer Committees assist in dispelling myths about ad? diction, making communities aware of facilities, etc. To join a committee in your area (or for help) call us at the 24-hour infor? mation contact number. DETAILED INFORMATION ON REQUEST. 539-7800 (40)
Cape Breton's Magazine