Western was running between Hamilton and Windsor, on the Detroit River, and the Northern was (pen from Toronto to Barrie, on Lake Simcoe. An Act passed in 1852—the Consolidated Municipal Loan Fund Act—permitted municipalities to borrow money on the credit of the province to aid railway enterprise. Counties, townships, towns and villages vied with each other in bonusing railway lines in all directions. The result was disastrous. Rail-way construction became a mania, and it needed the crisis of 1857 to put a stop to the building of useless lines. Many years elapsed before the municipalities were relieved of the burden of debt thus incurred.
Railways in the Maritime Provinces.—In Nova Scotia an Act was passed in 1854 providing for the construction of rail-ways as government works. In the following year a line was opened from Halifax to Windsor, and an extension of it toward Pictou was well under way. In New Brunswick the work of railway construction was at first let to contractors, who became bankrupt, and in 1855 a line from St. John to Shediac was under-taken as a government work. It was completed in 1860. In 1864 was passed what was facetiously called the Lobster Bill—in so many directions did its various clauses point—offering liberal grants in aid of railway construction. Under it many lines were built.
A Fair Equipment.—By the time Confederation became an accomplished fact, the various provinces were all fairly well equipped with railway facilities, and only a connecting link was needed between Canada and the Maritime Provinces. Telegraphic communication had kept pace with the railways to some extent, indeed, had preceded them. By the year 1860 there was an efficient service throughout the provinces. In 1858 the first Atlantic cable was laid, but was almost at once broken, and it was several years before it was again in successful operation.
The Reciprocity Treaty, 1854.-The desire for commercial expansion was also shown in efforts to obtain free trade with the United States, by a mutual abandonment of the customs duties upon importations. In 1854 Lord Elgin went to Washington in company with delegates from Canada, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and succeeded iii negotiating the Elgin-Marcy Treaty, popularly known as the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854.