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CHAPTER XIII

 

THE CANADIAN RAILWAYS AND THE WAR

DURING the decade preceding the outbreak of the Great World War there had been a tremendous speeding up of railway-building in Canada. Two new transcontinental lines had practically been completed and much double-tracking had been done along the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway. In addition to this numerous branch roads had been constructed. On June 30th, 1914, the total operated mileage in the Dominion was 30,795 miles. In 1914 alone, the Canadian Pacific Railway built 620 miles of new track, the Canadian Northern 515, and the Grand Trunk 450. There was a general feeling that railway construction had been overdone and that years would pass before some of the lines would be able to pay running expenses. Some held that, largely due to excessive railway-building, Canada was in for a period of depression and that harder times than those experienced after the completion of the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway were about to eventuate. Be that as it may, Canadian Railways have proved an inestimable boon since the outbreak of war.

For at least twenty years before the declaration of war Germany and Austria, particularly the former, had been spending enormous sums on railways, many of which were purely for strategic purposes. To the borders of Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Russia, Roumania, Serbia, and Italy lines had been run that were of little commercial value and were evidently intended for the free movement of troops and supplies in time of war. Canada in her railway-building had no thought of war, but her railways were to prove to be her greatest war asset; without them she would have played but a minor part in the struggle. The Canadian railways from the

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