Fifty Years Ago.
Dear Sir:- Westmorland for the last fifty years has been singularly favored in having a few philanthropic gentlemen to whom it is much indebted. Mr. Charles Allison in the matter of higher education; the Honorables William Crane and Edward B. Chandler, associated with Messrs. Hanington, sen., Palmer and Landry as members of the Assembly, effected the completion of nearly all the bye roads and many other necessary public works in the county. Their services included about the first fifteen years of Her Majesty’s Reign, and reached beyond that time some years.
Within the last six years the much needed and long talked of N. B. & P. E. Railroad has been completed, through the instrumentality of a few private gentlemen. True, Josiah Wood, Esq., the Hon. Senator Bostford in the Senate, and Josiah L. Black, a part of the time in the Assembly, were public men. But these gentlemen, with a few loyal associates, commenced the work, expended a large amount of their own money in giving the work a start, and through their efforts succeeded in getting the usual Government grants.
It would be well if as much could be said of Westmorland, as a body of loyal, far-seeing freeholders and voters. The county, by its representative, was almost a unit in opposition to railroads from the first; it denounced the idea of building the Intercolonial Railroad, declared the time had not come for such a work, the country was too new and there would be nothing for it to do. It was an enemy to the school law; that law that the U. States saw the necessity of, enacted and carried out more than one hundred years ago. It made the most desperate effort to defeat Confederation, knowing that it was by that policy that the old colonies succeeded in driving France out of America, and finally of driving England out of their territory. It was by this policy of union that they became the great and powerful nation, the United States of America. Yet Westmorland yielded its opposition only when a great majority of the wiser counties of the Dominion forced it upon us.
It helped to defeat the long contemplated Baie Verte and Bay of Fundy canal, after a million of money was on the estimates to commence the work, and its representative had become, for the first time, a member of the Government at Ottawa. It was at this time the canal got its quietus, and has not since been thought of.
It fought to the bitter end the encouragement of our manufactories and the National Policy, a policy that was adopted by the States and held sacred, and is zealously guarded by their great statesmen.
Westmorland, by its representative, denounced, in its conception, the Canadian Pacific Railroad scheme as an impossibility, a fraud, and only the ravings of madmen, declared it an undertaking too great for even Great Britain’s resources, and but failure in the end, if persisted in, with utter ruin to the Dominion, must be the consequences.
Such was the state of things from about 15 years after the commencement of Her Majesty’s Reign until six years ago, when the county seemed to awake to the fact that it was not keeping up with the times; that its policy was not what made the United States great; that there must be something wrong. Some were unjust enough to censure their representative, but in that they were wrong. His views were what he honestly believed, and when advocating them he thought he was advocating the views of his constituents. He had good reason to think so, for he was never backward in publicly or in privately making his sentiments known, and he was endorsed by a large majority. I imagine I hear someone ask: and what could be the cause of Westmorland’s many mistakes? Simply, I humbly submit, for the reason that we kept that effete superannuated school law too long on our statute books.
But Westmorland has made mighty strides during Her Majesty’s reign. A majority of the counties of the Dominion have generally kept up with the times, and where Westmorland has come short it participates in the general weal.
There is now a scheme on foot called Commercial Union. Exactly what that scheme is, its promoters do not make clear. They seem running foul of one another at every turn. They tell the farmers it will greatly increase the value of their produce, that they have but to secure a majority of the people of the Dominion at their backs to work a revolution in the entire tariff, customs and coasting regulations of the United States. They tell the farmers, with their support, they can convert that high protective duty nation- the United States – into a nation of free-traders, and when that is done the Dominion will be a comparative paradise for them.
Whatever the motive of these Commercial Union men, it does not require a Solomon to see that the whole scheme is clap-trap. I was about to say to the people of Westmorland, weigh the matter well, but it may not be worth that; yet we are liable to be imposed upon if we do not give some thought to the introduction of things new.
18th Aug., 1887. X. X.