PRINCE RUPERT (Historic Alaska Information)
The Portland Canal separated the mountains just enough to pull the International Boundary Line through, and which passes on out toward the sea so as to give Wales Island and another small island, which makes a sort of a protection for these new harbors to Canada. They certainly need them for their harbor protection, which is not good.
Extensive improvements are being made at Prince Rupert. One blast of forty tons of explosives in February, 1909, blew a whole bluff into the channel. Both Canadian and American boats will call at this port this summer, the travel and traffic will be large, and many tourists will invest in town lots. When this road is completed and a branch built to Dawson this port will be a busy one. It will have the shortest route across Canada and from Europe to the Orient. It will tap the rich coal fields, the farming and cattle country and timber resources of the Northwest Territory.
The fish industry of the Canadian Pacific is capable of an annual income of five million dollars, and the gold output of Dawson as much more.
The new town has a population of a thousand now, mostly in tents, but in twenty-five years it will have twenty-five thousand population or more and some of the trade of Vancouver.
Years ago when Frederick Schwatka visited here he wrote that the Canadian Pacific Railroad was after a right of way along the Skeena River. Political struggles betwen that road and the Grand Trunk have been numeruos and titanic since then. Ten or fifteen years ago the Canadian Parliament authorized the Hudson Bay and Western Railway to build from Fort Churchill, on Hudson Bay, the eastern terminus of the Hudson Bay Company, to Port Simpson on the Pacific, the western terminus of that company, entirely spanning the greatest private empire of this or any other continent. The land of Mackenzie, Peace, Strathcona, Sir Donald Prince Rupert and others, fearless and lordly princes in their own domain, lords of all they surveyed.
No more fitting name could have been chosen for this new port, destined to be the largest Canadian city inside of a hundred years, than that of Prince Rupert, who received the first grant from the King, in 1669, of all this domain, and who was afterward first governor of the Hudson Bay Company. To him should be erected the largest monument in Canada.
Grand is and successful will be the scheme to connect the Atlantic and Pacific with a railroad so distant from the United States, so naturally fortified on its western terminus, so direct and short for transcontinental traffic, and so surrounded with resources of sea, mine, farm and forest.
The opening of the Orient to trade, the building of the United States Pacific navy, the power of the Japanese navy, and the growth of the west will cause England to restore and increase the naval facilities at Esquimault or elsewhere near, and keep on this coast a navy equal to the United States or Japan. When Edward Pierrepont in 1883 visited here he had the same inspiration that I have, he coveted it for his own country.
The presidential issue of "54-40 or fight" was a warm one between political parties, but a warmer one, if possible, between England and the States. That issue was left to James Buchanan, our Secretary of State, and Richard Packinham, British Minister to this country, the result of which (1846) we all know.
Mr. Pierrpont enthusiastically remarks that "it ought to have made the minister a duke, and placed the secretary in disgrace." As we gather more facts and history of early settlement, trade and claims, we are inclined to concede like Buchanan to Packinham's theory.
If the Spanish had obtained justice at the Nootka Convention, the coast, from California to Dixon Entrance at least, would belong to Spain. If the Russian traders and explorers would have made claim, history and record of their rights from the beginning, I believe Alaska would extend to California. If the issue of "54-40 or fight" had prevailed the sentiment of so large a per cent of the people of the States and Canada at the time would have made annexation very probable. But that little word "if" is written all over Dixon Entrance, and the issues have passed into history.
In a few years Prince Rupert will be a large city and the statues of Rupert and Packinham will stand on its public squares. If James Buchanan was in error, then later, as President, he did some better, for which statues may be elsewhere erected to him. The population of Prince Rupert will be typically western, and more like Seattle than Canada or England. Our boats and people will be as numerous as theirs. There will be no national strife, but the competition of trade will be keen.