By A. A. den Otter
Alexander Galt and his son Elliott labored tirelessly to advertise source exploitation on Canada's large western plains. Their coal mines in Alberta gave beginning to the town of Lethbridge.
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Extra resources for Civilizing the West: The Galts and the Development of Western Canada
Galt, the entrepreneur turned politician, wanted a general government with sufficient power to properly manage and develop the wealth of British North America. 21 In this way he not only suggested the creation of a transcontinental state but he also drafted the rough outlines of its structure. The colonials were given a flattering reception, including an audience with the Queen and numerous social invitations, but a decision on unification and financial assistance was assiduously avoided. Finally, by the end of the year, the imperial government decided that the federal scheme was but a Canadian solution to a purely Canadian problem, and that without Maritime consent further action was impossible.
The government's action encouraged the City of Montreal, the Sulpician Seminary, and the British American Land 14 The need to expand Company to make significant investments in the railway. Britain's free trade policy, as well as the full implementation of responsible government for the Canadas, also forced Montrealers to re-examine their commercial policies. They felt betrayed by the imperial government and believed that the unity of the empire had been broken. In reaction, they began to discuss union with the United States and in the fall of 1849 issued the Annexation Manifesto.
To meet the crisis, Montreal had to reduce its transportation costs and seek an ice-free outlet to the Atlantic. The need for a year-round port became painfully apparent in the winter of 1848. Shortly after the annual freeze-up, grain prices dropped sharply in Britain and the value of wheat stockpiled in Montreal fell accordingly. Irate businessmen calculated that the losses incurred could have paid for the Canadian portion of the proposed railway to the Atlantic, and they prodded the government to subsidize the venture.
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