A New Telegraph to the Pacific

[Trade Journal]

Publication: The Telegrapher

New York, NY, United States
vol. 1, no. 5, p. 42, col. 1-2



We find the following intelligence in the report of the committee of the Hudson's Bay Company, to the shareholders, for the year 1864, in relation to the proposed telegraphic line from the Red River Settlements, across the territories of that Company, and through British Columbia to New Westminster, on the Pacific.

The report states that "although the country between the Red river and the Rocky Mountains was well known to the officers of the Company, the committee thought it prudent to dispatch Dr. Rae, with an assistant, for the purpose of examining and reporting upon the best route for crossing the territory, and traversing the Rocky Mountains between Fort Edmonton and the head waters of the Fraser River. Dr. Rae's report may be expected at any moment, and in the meantime a portion of the telegraphic wire and insulators are actually on the Mississippi waiting only for the spring, to be sent up to the Red river. Two other portions of the wire have been sent by sea to Victoria and to York Factory, respectively, as being at those points nearer their destination than they would be if sent through Canada and the United States. The warm thanks of the Hudson's Bay Company are due to the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada for the liberal manner in which they have assisted in the transport of the wire sent over their line, free of cost, and for their general aid to this enterprise. Telegraphic communication from the Atlantic to the Pacific, across British territory, must be an object of the utmost importance, and the committee have no doubt, therefore, that in itself this enterprise will ultimately prove advantageous to this Company."

From this statement, it would seem that another year is likely to witness the completion of a second distinct line of telegraphic communication across the continent, via St. Paul, Minn., and thence to Pembina, Red River, and over the route above described.

It will probably be some years before we shall witness the completion of the line between Red River settlement and the present north-western territories, of the Canadian telegraphic system, at Ottawa or Collingwood, which will be necessary in order to form a complete communication between the two oceans, entirely upon British soil.

We shall look for the report of Dr. Rae with much interest, for it is not improbable that the route of the Collins Overland Telegraph may, when definitely decided upon, coincide with that of this line for a considerable portion of its length. By reference to a map of British North America, it will observed that a line commencing at St. Paul, Minn., and running thence towards the interior of the British Possessions and down the McKensie river, crossing over to the head waters of the Yonkon [sic] Yukon, and thence down that great river to its mouth, would not only be the most direct, but the most favorably located for convenience in transporting supplies and materials. It is well known that the interior of the Hudson's Bay Company's territory is a perfect net-work of navigable waters, from the United State boundary line to the Arctic Ocean. We know not what political objections there may be to this route, but in other respects it presents great advantages, among which may be mentioned, the celerity and economy with which the work may be carried on, with the existing facilities of that region for transportation, and subsistence, as well as the abundance of timber along the whole route, as far as the mouth of the McKensie.

On the contrary, should the "Overland line" be built from New Westminster, through British Columbia, via Frazer [sic] Fraser river - the only alternative presented by the nature of the country - the routes of the two lines will again coincide for a considerable distance along the valley of that river, if not its entire length.

The running of both these important lines for a distance of several hundred miles upon the same route, would be a mutual advantage, as one organization only would be required for the purpose of the inspection and repairs of both lines, and could be supported at the joint expense of the two companies, a matter of considerable moment in a mountainous and uninhabited country, like the one under consideration, where the amount of money required for the above purpose would form the heaviest item in the annual bill of working expenditures.

We see no account as yet of anything being done towards the construction of the line between Red river and the Canada's, before alluded to. The unexplored and unsettled tracts of country, to the northward of lakes Superior and Huron, through which this line must pass, will render the construction of the line so expensive in comparison with the benefits to be derived from it, as to probably delay its completion for a number of years.


Keywords:Collins Overland Telegraph : Hudson Bay Company
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:November 26, 2005 by: Elton Gish;