Old St. Andrews



St. Andrews and the CPR



Between 1889 and the middle part of the next century, the presence in New Brunswick and St. Andrews of the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company was of paramount importance to the local economy. Or rather, it was supposed to be. For many hopes depended on favours that CPR bigwigs such and Sir William Van Horne and Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, respectively 2nd and 3rd Presidents of the Company, might care to bestow on the town, given the fact that they had summer homes here and might perhaps be thought to owe the Town some sort of debt of gratitude in exchange for the manifold blessings of nature that the locality had bestowed on these harried denizens of scorching upper Canada. Specifically, St. Andrews wanted port development. This was just an extension or renewal of a dream which went back to 1835 and got underway in a practical way in 1847 with the beginning of the St. Andrews and Quebec Railway. The dream of being a winter port for the Canadas when the St. Lawrence was frozen died off in the second third of the nineteenth century when the Grand Trunk beat St. Andrews to Montreal, but was revived in 1889 when it became evident that the CPR was going finally to connect the last piece of the much delayed short rail line across Maine, thus connecting St. Andrews with Montreal. This was all the talk in the Bay Pilot for the 1880s. And when the CPR completed this task and added to its holdings the New Brunswick Railway Company, and when on top of this, beginning with Sir William Van Horne's decision to built a summer home here in 1890, then it seemed as though fortune was about to smile on dear dilapidated St. Andrews. For now the CPR could ship grain from the Great North-West (the prairies, now being rapidly settled by the CPR) to Europe and elsewhere through its terminus at St. Andrews. But alas it was not to be. St. Andrews didn't have any sort of port development to attract the CPR, while Saint John did. And the CPR wasn't about to spend money where it didn't have to. Indeed, it would have preferred to use Portland, Maine. Only pressure from the federal government decided the winter port issue in favor of a New Brunswick city. So St. Andrews, agitate as it might for decades, never did become the fabled winter port, but around the turn of the century the CPR did take over the wharfage of B. F. Dewolfe and add some of its own. Until the seventies, these wharves occupied a significant part of Indian Point, though they are gone now


Basically, St. Andrews was disappointed in the CPR, in Van Horne, and in Shaughnessy over the winter port issue. It also hoped for more summer hotels, as Van Horne once let slip the remark that "one hotel will not a summer resort make." After the Argyll burned in 1892, there was only the Algonqui left. But again, nothing happened, in spite of much pressure from the local papers.


Other economic issues which dogged the town and which it hoped the CPR would alleviate were the lack of water and electricty. Eventually the Town obtained both of these amenities through the CPR and the Algonquin by way of surplus, but for decades the Hotel guests had electric lights, even flush toilets at its golf clubhouse, while St. Andrews relied on paraffin lamps and hundred year old wells.