St. Andrews and Quebec Railroad—Sod Turning at Bartlett’s Mills
Turning of the “First Sod” under the contract for the first section of the St. Andrews and Quebec Railroad
Friday, last, the 4th June, will be a day long to e remembered by the inhabitants of St. Andrews and the County of Charlotte generally. The sun shone out in regal splendour, and at an early hour the busy hum of people, dressed in holiday attire, passed along our streets, and the rattling of carriages and other vehicles, sounded the note of preparation, and gave evidence of a general turn out to do honor to the day. At 9 o’clock, according to previous instructions, the carriages, wagons, etc. with the Directors, Shareholders and Guests, drew up into line at the Court House Square, and at half-past 9, the immense procession advanced, headed by the carriages of the Directors, in the leading one of which was displayed the Royal Standard, and passed through Frederick, Water, Elizabeth, Queen, and Harriet streets to the St. John road, thence via Chamcook to the Frye road, and after a pleasant drive through the woods the procession arrived at Bartlett’s farm, ten miles from Sa, the place selected for turning the sod. The ground was tastefully decorated with flags, and a large number of people from SS, and the neighboring State of Maine, assembled to witness the interesting ceremony. At 12 o’clock precisely, col. Murray, the Administrator of the Government of the Province, accompanied by Mrs. Murray, arrived upon the ground, in his carriage, and was received by the Directors and officers of the Company, under a salute of 13 guns. His Honor and Mrs. Murray were then escorted to the spot selected for turning the first sod, when the Rev. Dr. Alley offered up a most appropriate prayer for the success of the great undertaking.
The Contractor, Mr. Brookfield, was then formally introduced to Col. and Mrs. Murray, and had the honor of presenting to Mrs. Murray the spade and barrow to inaugurate the work. Mrs. Murray then gracefully raised the first sod, deposited it in the barrow, and tipped it at the end of the plank prepared for that purpose, as emblematical of the commencement of the stupendous work. A salute of 19 guns was then fired in honor of the occasion. In the absence of the President, who was unavoidably prevented from attending the Hon. Col. Hatch proceeded on behalf of the Company to cut and turn a sod, and was followed by Alex. Light, Esquire, the Engineer, and John Brookfield, Esq., the contractor, in the same operation, typical of the agency by which the work will be carried to completion at the conclusion of this part of the ceremony, Col. Hatch addressed the Meeting with the following remarks:--
He said, that in turning the sod, he was of opinion, that the many and trying difficulties which the Company had met with during the incipience stages of the work, were about to pass away, and all things new would go on smoothly until is full completion. That though only two out of six persons, the original promoters of the design were living, four of them had gone to that bourne “from whence no traveler returns” yet he hoped and trusted that he remainder might be spared to realize the advantages that must necessarily accrue from the connection of the great Atlantic by Railroad with the great Saint Lawrence and those inland seas stretching to the far West. it was a noble and magnificent scheme to bring the products around the shores of this great sea to a point being the nearest on the waters of the inner Passamaquoddy—at St. Andrews to Quebec, and to exchange them with those brought from so populous and fertile a country as Canada—(Cheers.) It would turn the howling wilderness into the abode of civilization, and no person present could count upon the numerous advantages accruing to human from the undertaking. (Great cheering.)at the time in which this project was commenced, in the infancy of Railroads the conception of the idea was of no ordinary kind, but its completion would far outrun all present calculation in the good to proceed from it—in the immense trade—in linking the hearts of the inhabitants of the Lower and Upper Provinces together—producing internal strength, union, and respect abroad, and above all to insure in them the continuance of the blessing of the British constitution, on which secured all civil and religious liberty. (Cheers.) He tendered his thanks in the name of the Directors of the Company, to His Honor the Administrator of the Province for his presence here this day, and also to his Lady for the very interesting part her ladyship had taken in the ceremony. These kind acts will long remain in the hearts of the people of St. Andrews. He asked, on all sides, unanimity in future proceedings, and by a strong pull—by a long pull (at which he should expect Mr. Brookfield, one of the Contractors now present, would take the lead,) and by a pull altogether, in which the Ladies would be no mean auxiliaries, that this great, this patriotic work would be successfully carried out, and amply realized, and though some of us present may not be permitted to see its entire completion, yet they would leave it as a legacy to their children, and future generations, showing the indomitable perseverance and unwearied zeal of a few persons, under circumstances the most discouraging, in the certain prospect of a railroad from this the nearest point to Quebec, teaching them, that in a good cause, with integrity of purpose, they should never despair. (The Hon. Gentleman concluded amidst tremendous cheering.)
After Col. Hatch had concluded his remarks his Honor the administrator of the Government expressed the great pleasure which it afforded him to be present, and to have assisted at so interesting a ceremony. he entirely coincided with the observations which had fall from Col. Hatch, as to the important effect which the opening of Railways throughout the Province would create; and he stated that he experienced much gratification in noticing a singular coincidence, that his and Mrs. Murray’s visit to St. Andrews should have so opportunely occurred at this time, for it was surely worthy of remark, and might be considered a favorable omen, that Mrs. Murry is niece to Earl Fitzwilliam, the chairman of the Company in England, and who he (Col. Murray) knew, took the liveliest interest in the progress of the undertaking and the general welfare of the Province. (cheers.)
Before retiring to the Bower which was most tastefully prepared for the occasion, Mr. Light and Mr. Brookfield both addressed the assemblage. We regret our space will not allow us to publish their speeches in full, but we cannot refrain from stating, that Ms. Light observed that he had carefully examined and made surveys through the whole extent of the Line, and had no hesitation in saying, there existed no difficulties of any importance, that the grades and curves were all particularly favorable, and ha the general facilities for construction were all that could be desired.
Success to the Undertaking was then drank in champagne, amidst deafening cheers—The health of her Majesty was drank, and god save the Queen, was sung with a depth of tone and feeling which was perfectly electrifying.
A general move was then made towards the Bower, where a cold collation had been prepared, and which had been got up with great taste and elegance.
After ample justice had been done to the viands, so hospitably provided, Col Hatch rose to propose the health of his Honor and Mrs. Murray, and in doing so remarked—
That he was glad to see that day—it was one of great joy to him, and he was happy he had lived to see it. that 17 years had elapsed, since he and some of his friends now no more, had first conceived the idea of projecting a railway from St. Andrews to Quebec, and after years of unceasing perseverance amidst varying scenes of adversity and prosperous fortune, his fondest expectations were about to be realized. (cheers) he had no fears now, as far as human foresight could penetrate, there was no occasion for dark foreboding, all was cheering in the highest degree (great applause.) he had revolved the subjects over and over in his mind, wand the benefit to be derived by the province was incalculable; they, the people of SA, had set an example of energy and enterprise, which he hope would be imitated. The immense resources of the County were at present locked up for want of access to them—the wood of the country, if he might be allowed the expression, had receded, into the interior, and we must bring ourselves in close proximity with it or our people must move away to foreign lands. A railroad would place us side by side again, with the Pine and Spruce groves the wealth of the land.
Our limits will not allow us to follow Col. Hatch through his observations; he closed his speech amidst great cheering.
Col. Murray responded in a neat and apposite speech, stating that it gave him very great pleasure to be present on this interesting occasion—that the undertaking was a magnificent one, and fraught with great benefit to this County, and indeed to the province at large; and that its projectors and promoters were justly entitled to the thanks of the people. He eloquently expressed his acknowledgements, for the compliment paid him and Mrs. Murray by Col. Hatch, in proposing the health; and concluded by giving the health of the gallant Colonel in return,--and for which he briefly returned thanks.
John Brookfield, Esq., in an exceedingly happy speech, proposed the health of Earl Fitzwilliam, prefacing his remarks with a well-merited eulogium on that Nobleman’s virtues, and alluded to the deep interest he had taken I the railroad—a work which he (Mr. Brookfield) and his partner were resolved to complete to Woodstock—but, he observed, he did not suppose it would stop there, it would in due time be carried through to Quebec. The toast was then drank, and followed by a round of applause, that made the welkin ring.
J. W. Chandler, Esq., then rose, and after reviewing the rise and progress of the Company, observed that his friend Col. Hatch was one of the pioneers of this gigantic enterprise, and to whose perseverance the greatest credit was due; there had been others who had afforded able assistance in the infancy of the concern, some of whom were no longer among us, but who would have rejoiced to have seen this day. he dwelt at length upon the practical effects of the undertaking, and said that this work would lay open a fertile inland country capable of maintaining three hundred thousand inhabitants, through the midst of which the road would pass, giving them immediate access to the sea; that it would also open immense virgin forest covered with ship timber, which would thereby be brought into profitable use; that the water power waiting for employment in this county is, practically speaking, unlimited; and that, while the railroad would materially aid in the development of their valuable resources the owners of the work may confidently look for perpetually increasing dividends. He concluded by offering as a toast, the health of Mr. Thompson, the Manger of the Company, to whom he thought the happy consummation of all their ardent hope, and which they were then assembled to celebrate, must in a great measure be attributed, and with it he would couple the health of Mrs. Thompson. (cheers)
Mr. Thompson replied in his usual happy manner, observing that as far as his humble abilities permitted, he would still exert himself in pushing forward the work—and thus if any credit were due to him, he felt more than repaid for any exertion on hi sown part, by a so happy an issue to all the delays and obstacles which had so long attended the prosecution of the work, and which he now considered would go forward without any impediment, and that he sincerely appreciated the honor which was done him and Ms. Thompson in proposed and drinking their healths in the very handsome and enthusiastic manner they had done, and thanked them most cordially.
Several other speeches were then delivered, and the company reformed in line, and a salute of 13 guns was again fired on the departure of His Honor.
Several distinguished strangers were present at the celebration, among whom we noticed Capt. Ford, R. A.; W. H. Drake, A. C. G.; Lieut. Kellog, U. S. A.; Mr. Sherwood, H. R. M. Consul; Rev. Mr. Donald of Saint John.
Great credit is due to Julius Thompson, Esq., for the admirable manner in which the arrangements were carried out; his active mind and body were constantly in requisition. The people of St. Andrews will remember with feeling of pleasure the 4th June 1852, and we heartily join in wishing abundant success to the Railroad.
The foregoing is but an imperfect sketch of the celebration and speeches, for which we crave the indulgence of our readers.