Old St. Andrews



The Great Railway Scandal



The Argyll and the Great Railway Scandal


Dec 8/1869


Trains Stopped
We sincerely regret that Mr. Osburn, Manager of the NB and C Railway has issued a notice which appears in another column that the trains will stop running to St. Andrews for this winter after the 31st December. The reason assigned is—“in consequence of the failure of business and bad state of the track.” This will interfere with the proposed connection of the Western Extension and Fredericton Company who have advertised connections with St. Andrews and very materially affect the interests of this town. Can no means be devised to keep the trains running to SA; are we so completely helpless that we can do nothing to avert so untoward a consequence? Will no action be taken or efforts used to secure the running of the trains? Had it not been for the exertions of St. Andrews people and their indomitable perseverance and luck, Charlotte County would today be without a main line or branches.


Dec 13/1869
Courier feels a conflict of interest in Osburn’s being a contractor for the Houlton branch.


Dec 22/1869
Big meeting in St. Andrews regarding proposed closure of track. Reproduced verbatim.
Editor implies St. Stephen influence at work to detriment of SA, and that the St. Stephen branch would remain open while the St. Andrews branch would be closed.
The public meeting on Friday last, for the consideration of Railway affairs, was open of the most enthusiastic and harmonious ever held in this place. Those present spoke and acted as one man; hey felt that it is a grave wrong about to be inflicted upon them, that an incalculable injury would be done to the Bondholders and the inhabitants of the town and country, by the closing of the main line from the Junction to the terminus at St. Andrews.
            Under such exciting circumstances it is surprising those present at that large meting, were so calm and discriminating; their very looks denoted a fixed determination founded on a sense of justice to maintain their rights and protect their interests by legal means at whatever cost, and thereby prevent what they feel would be a great injury, and detrimental to the interests of St. Andrews, and indeed the upper country also. Whoever heard of a trunk line 88 miles in length, having several miles leading to its ocean terminus closed, to foster a branch of 19 miles to a river port closed by ice, for some week? And on what other road are the trains of a branch permitted to run over the main line? When these questions are answered there are others in reserve.
            The people of St. Andrews only ask fair play, that they will have; they have borne with much annoyance and considerable loss, but this lat net is “the straw which broke the camel’s back,” the power dressed in brief authority, may learn that the monied interest of any one section, will not be permitted to trample upon the rights of the people in other sections.
            With reference to the “falling of trade” this community will be prepared at the proper time to show, that in a great measure it has arisen from unfair and unjust influences, and persons outside of the town, are ready to endorse the views so entertained. As tot the “bad state of the track,” we have yet to learn, that any accident or mishap has occurred on this end, for the past few month. In the opinion of many it is just as good as many other portions of the trunk line considering that it has not had its proportional share of maintenance and repair, it being the first constructed.


Threat to close line from junction to St. Andrews. Supposed influence of outside parties.


Jan 5/1870
More on railroad scandal.


Jan 12/1870
Henry Osburn asks Standard not to publish railway timetables henceforth and not to supply any more newspapers. Editor reacts.


Jan 19/1870
Statements have been industriously circulated by opponents of SA, that “St. Stephen capitalists own all the Railway bonds.” This is about as correct as another assertion that they own all the lands. Let us examine: the Lands owned by the English Bondholders in Charlotte County amounting to 7000 acres were sold at Sheriff’s sale in May 1867, and were bought in for St. Stephen capitalists but up to this day have not been paid for; the deeds still remain in the Sheriff’s office, and will be handed over only when the purchase money is paid! This statement is not made under cover of correspondence, and we challenge contradiction. It is currently reported that these lands have been operated on for the last two years, and large quantities of lumber carried off. Is not this a most outrageous act, and one which merits unqualified condemnation, if not legal correction. Were the English Bondholders made aware of this fact by their New Brunswick agent. If not, they know by this time.
            The bold assertion openly made at St. Stephen last week, “that the people of St. Andrews cannot succeed nor accomplish anything in the course they have taken to complete the running of the trains as they know St. Stephen owns the line”—is a piece of sheer humbug. It requires more than the boast and bluff of inimical and interested opponents to convince St. Andrews people that they cannot succeed, or that the Line is owned by Capitalists in St. Stephen. That some of the Bonds are held here cannot be denied; and that Bondholders in England have sold all their right to the Railway, at a sacrifice, will require better authority than the ipse dixit of the diplomats who went home to misrepresent the real value of the railway. The fact of a line costing 800,000 pounds being bought for 60,000 is too large a mouthful for people to swallow, particularly when it can be shown that the Line has paid working expenses and something more.


The NB&C Railway schedule shows that only the St. Andrews City Station section has been curtailed: “The skeptical will now be convinced that there is a determination to close the St. Andrews end of the line. Although the trains still run twice a week, the uncertainty of the line being kept open, has prevented merchants here filling orders for Houlton, if the articles ordered are perishable.”


Public meeting held to push for completion of NB&C Railway to Riviere du Loup from Houlton.


Jan 26/1870
Proofs can and will be adduced to show the incorrectness of such statements, published by interested persons to cloak their unhallowed designs. “Acting under instructions” may serve as an excuse for the time to conceal the real design; but the questions arise—were these “instructions” (if given) based upon correct information from a reliable source? Were proprietors interests consulted and promoted, and was even handed justice extended to the business men of the Town, and others whose preferences were in favor of transacting their shipping business at SA? These questions have been answered in the negative, by persons said to be well informed; and cases have been cited to show that positive injustice has been practised. It is also stated that for months the plant has been removed quietly to SS, but in such a manner as not to awaken suspicion of the ultimate object. All the locomotives with the exception of a small one have also been sent up the line, and should a heavy fall of snow occur, the trains could not run. Are not these facts evidences of the intention to close this end of the railway, months before public notice was given to that effect. The people generally do not believe that the assigned reason was the real one. Why was not this end of the Line which had paid its way, repaired if it was required; why lay down new rails and repair one portion of the line for the benefit of a certain locality to the disadvantage of others. Such positive unfairness is apparent to the most casual observer. Honor and justice are confined to the narrow limits of some men’s pockets—their sole object appear to be to benefit themselves and make money at all hazards.
            The course adopted with reference to the stoppage of the trains (why by the way are still running) has been disastrous to trade and travel here. Cargoes intended for this port and passengers, have gone to Saint John, for transmission by rail to the upper country; and the policy has not made the promoters richer, but injured their neighbours.
            It was a doubtful proceeding, to pull down and remove a strongly constructed large building, centrally situated, which could be sold to advantage if it was not wanted for railway purposes. This piece of vandalism led to the some remonstrance on Monday morning last, and had it not been that wise counsel prevailed, it is probably a very unpleasant occurrence would have taken place. The most peaceable and orderly are not always able to control themselves under provoking circumstance. Such a proceeding would not have been tolerated in any other part of the County. How long, O how long will the people’s tempers be tried.


Feb 2/1870
The railway, or rather that portion of the main line between the junction at the St. Stephen branch and the terminus at St. Andrews has been closed for the winter. . . . Is it not surprising then, that after the amount of money expended in its construction—their influence with the govt to take stock—the large expenditure of capital in this erection of buildings and wharves, among the latter a steamboat landing expressly to the Railway, and doing business over the line-- that they are resolved to maintain their rights by legal means?
            Notice of discontinuance by Osburn.


Feb 9/1870
Trains to be discontinued for six weeks.


March 2/1870
Railroad Management for the Benefit of the People!
How is it? Here we have a number of our coasting schooners in the harbor waiting employment, while there are several cargoes of railroad sleepers hauled out along the line, of which tow or three cargoes at least should have been shipped by this time, and realized from. There is also a large quantity of pig iron to be delivered at St. Andrews. Why are not the cars running to St. Andrews and this freight brought down, as in former seasons, when the winters were much more severe than the past has been? The severity of the past winter, advanced as an excuse, was to say the least, a mere pretext. The track we learn is nearly or quite clear of snow and ice. The only answer we can honestly give, from current report, is that There was a determinate intention to divert from this port to St. Stephen . . .the petition of the people has been received by the Legislature, and an investigation will be entered into by the Railway committee, which will, it is generally believed, bring out the facts, that will confirm the people in the opinion, that there has been an effort made to divert the trade of St. Andrews from its legitimate channel.


March 16/1870
The Railway investigation before the Legislative Committee, commenced yesterday, the proceedings and result will be looked forward to with great interest by very many in this County. Some of the witnesses left here early on Monday morning last by Stage for SS, from whence they would take the cars for Fredericton. While waiting for the departure of the train, they were kindly received by St. Stephen people, who expressed a hearty sympathy for them, and wished success to them in the efforts to obtain their rights. For be it understood, that outside of that little coterie termed the “Land Ring,” and “Calais Bridge Co.,” the people of that locality are liberal and independent and accord to the inhabitants of the Shiretown all the privileges they possess and would, if requested, aid them in protecting their interests . . . . They have felt the potent influence of money, and its iron rule, but are free men, and do not fear to act or express their opinions openly, upon public question . . . It remains for them now to decide whether the new Bridge is to be built, which will make Calais the terminus of their railroad, and forever sweep away the cherished hope of having the terminus at St. Stephen.


Dec 28/1870
Review of year, esp. NB&C Railway problem. See photocopy.
Never perhaps did a year open with gloomier prospects ahead for us, than that which is drawing to a close; never were gloomy anticipations more agreeably disappointed.
            In December last, notice was given by the manager of the NB&C Railway, that the running of the trains over this end of the Line would be discontinued after December 31 Standard of last year. That announcement raised such a howl of indignation throughout the whole Eastern section of the County, that both the Manager and his prompters deemed it judicious to yield to it, and the trains were after a short interval run as usual. The long continued series of attempts, covert and open, of a half a dozen men in St. Stephen to utterly annihilate our track reached its climax in the announcement referred to. Owing to the public spirit of half a dozen men in the community, this grand final effort of theirs was defeated. To that plucky half dozen too much credit cannot be given, for we believe their efforts turned the tide in our favor, at the most critical point in the history of the Town. The great development of communication with the interior will render any similar attempt impossible, in future; henceforth we will have the whole of the upper Saint John River counties as our allies in the “Battle of the Towns.”
            At the beginning of the year, both Town and Country were still labouring under the effects of the terrible storm which had but lately swept over our county, carrying death and destruction with it. Trade was dull—“nothing doing’ was the complaint of the day. The croakers were predicting ruin, desolation and the speedy arrival of the time when our houses would be abandoned to the owls and bats, and our streets to be beats of the forest. The hopeful scarcely believing their own words, maintained that something would turn up. Northing tremendous or unusual did turn up,, and the ruin and desolation never came; and now on reviewing the course of events since that time, we can safely say that few towns in NB have during that period enjoyed more general prosperity and business success than St. Andrews.
            Our labourers and mechanics have found ample employment at good wages, throughout the year. Our merchants report trade as having been good and increasing; they have supplied the people with goods at as low rates as they can be purchased in any town in the Province. Our trade with the Islands has largely increased, as also the Dry goods trade with St. Stephen and St. George. Messrs. Odell and Turner, whose stock is not surpassed in the County, Stevenson, Magee, Bradley and others, can show large and well selected stocks in their line. Real Estate has increased in value, houses are in demand. There is not a vacant tenement of the better class, for which more than one bid has not been offered. There is more money in the Savings’ Bank than at any pervious time in its history. The fact speaks for itself; we have nothing like poverty in our midst; and all this if we are “a race of paupers.”
            The past season has been a remarkably unhealthy one in North America, but sickness has not come nigh our dwellings to any uncommon extent. Temperance has spread her banner, and flourishes in our midst, and to her we owe much, very much. Our good old town is a quiet place; life and property are perfectly safe with us; we need no policemen.
            If even our St. Stephen friends think of moving, we invite them to come this way and taste of our good things, and they will find that, despite the utterances of unprincipled Christians, we are no heathens, and that St. Andrews is just as good a site for a terrestrial paradise as can be found.