The Canadian Pacific Railway Essay Sample
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The Canadian Pacific Railway Essay Sample
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) is commonly argued to be the most important transportation route in Canadian history, but most do not know the substantial benefits it provided. More specifically, it provided benefits to farmers, financiers, and consumers. The financiers of the railway were the group of people that the railway benefitted the most, mainly because of the significant amount of use it received in the 19th century.
During the 1800s and early 1900s the farmers of Canada benefitted greatly from the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway because of the ease of transportation of goods it provided. The CPR allowed farmers to send their goods east towards the bulk of the population of Canada where they could be easily and quickly sold to waiting customers. This made the lives of farmers in the prairies much easier because their products were available to a larger population resulting in much more money for the work they did. However, while farmers benefitted, the provinces faced the challenge of a centralized government. Provinces like Saskatchewan and Alberta could not profit as much from the work of their farmers because farmers were taxed by the federal government.
This meant that the provinces would have a more difficult time expanding, economically speaking, than they would have if they received taxes from the farmers. The reason that the government felt that it was necessary to tax the farmers was because there really was no limit to their expansion. With the vastly unsettled mid-west of Canada, there were virtually no limits on the expansion of farms, only limits of what the farmers could manage. As a result, some farmers were able to profit massively from the highly productive farmlands. Canada’s overall economy benefitted greatly by the success of its western farmers because of the results of Canada’s western farmers’ prosperity gifted to them by the CPR. In addition, Canada’s economy was improved greatly as a whole through the amount of money brought in from interprovincial trade as well as international trade.
The issue of the centralized government and federal taxation of farmers was later addressed and the decentralization of the government in Canada followed, allowing more powerful, individual areas. As a result, the provinces eventually benefitted more from the CPR through farm taxes.
Financiers were arguably the group that gained the most from the Canadian Pacific Railway, but were initially skeptical about its potential. To begin, the CPR was originally an attempt to level up to the transportation railways being constructed in the USA, as well as a method to prevent American assimilation in Canada. Many people who would be candidates to finance the railway saw this as something that could be a waste of time and money, and also not provide any particular success. However, an industrialist by the name of Jay Cooke saw the economic potential in the railway and his views were agreed with by another wealthy industrialist named Sir Hugh Allen. He took on the project to build the Canadian Pacific Railway initially, but shortly after another financier, William Cornelius Van Horne, took over. These industrialists were the first of many to discover the ability the CPR would have to benefit Canada.
The views of the railway were continuously rising and the near completion was lifting the spirits of those whose money was on the line. Profits were already underway for the financiers because of completed sections being used in early stages of its development. Many financiers of the railway began to anticipate its completion. The first locomotive was launched on the railway on June 18th, 1886, indicating the beginning of a prosperous future. Immediately, profit margins were through the roof and money was flowing into the hands of the CPR’s funders. Financiers of the railway were able to charge clients to use the new route of transportation, which made them millions of dollars because of high demand for shipment from west to east. Overall, the financiers of the railway had benefitted tremendously from the amount of money being brought in by the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The construction of the CPR also provided many benefits for consumers in Canada at the time of being built, as well as after for many years to come. Receiving goods was made much easier through the use of the CPR to deliver products to the eastern part of Canada. This was mostly just a convenience for consumers rather than really benefitting them financially. As a result of easier transportation to the eastern Canada, the price of food and goods was far less coming from the west because of the low shipment costs issued by the CPR, which was a financial benefit for the consumers of Canada.
The standard of living in turn was increased by the lower costs of items needed for the standard every-day life of citizens living in Canada. This was mostly apparent in the lower to middle class division in that time, where obvious gains were apparent, so the new immigrants and poor began to lift out of poverty at a substantial rate. Another benefit that consumers had was that they were not required to pay tariffs on the CPR; only the clients of the railway were required to pay fares to the financiers, which was another convenience for consumers. To put it simply, Canada’s consumers weren’t drastically affected by the construction of the CPR, however the gains to the economic status of Canada’s citizens was improved, which is a major event in Canadian history.
It could be argued that financiers and farmers were neck in neck in terms of who benefitted the most, but there are a few factors which put the financiers on top. The end results of the construction of the CPR were in highest favor of the financiers, because they were the ones that multiplied the amount of money they got back from investing in the building of it. They were able to continue putting tariffs on its use, which really made a never ending supply of funds because of the incredibly high demand of usage.
The farmers didn’t benefit as much because they were the ones that had to pay the tariffs to the financiers to use their new railway to the eastern part of Canada, which meant that they would not be gaining as much as the financiers were at the time. The consumers of Canada were really out of the question for benefitting the most because they didn’t have as much of an outstanding gain as the farmers or financiers. Prices were lowered for them slightly, which, over time, added up to make a significant difference, but not to the extent of that of the financiers. These are clear reasons that financiers benefitted the most because they were on top of the chain of money, they did not owe any, but only had to pay the costs for the maintenance of the railway.
As a result of putting a high investment into building one of Canada’s most important projects in its history, financiers were able to reap the benefits provided by it, followed as well by the farmers and consumers. The Canadian Pacific Railway presented significant economic opportunity, so financiers quickly pounced on its maximum potential, in turn benefitting not only them, but the rest of the Canadian population as a whole, as well as improving Canada’s economy drastically.
Research Question: Who benefitted the most from the construction of the CPR? Farmers, financers, or consumers Web sites, e-sources
Bélanger, Claude. “The National Policy and Canadian Federalism.” Marianopolis College. Accessed October 2, 2012. http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/federal/npolicy.htm. Annotation: The site above provided extensive material about why the CPR was important, as well as specific information about the three groups discussed in the essay. “FIRST SETTLERS: 1858-1911.” CNCC. Accessed October 2, 2012. http://ccnc.ca/toronto/history/info/info.html. Marsh, James. “Railway History.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. Accessed October 2, 2012. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/railway-history. Annotation: This site provided very detailed explanations of the various financiers who funded the CPR in its development. It also had information on how the CPR benefitted Canada as a whole. Morris, Keith. “The Canadian Pacific Railway.” Transport Source Book. Accessed October 2, 2012. http://www.transportsourcebook.ca. Babad, Michael. “How many died building CPR?” The Globe and Mail. Accessed October 25, 2012. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/ top-business-stories/a-quiz-for-joe-oliver-how-many-died-building-cpr/ article1357931/.