By Frank Leonard
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Additional info for A Thousand Blunders: The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and Northern British Columbia
Even the federal minister of railways attempted to persuade the company to reverse its stand. That the minister had no success indicates that Morse spoke not of his own accord but at Hays's direction. 63 If the GTP could not obtain a land grant under its own name, it would do so through another charter, the Pacific Northern & Omineca Railway Company (PNO). In July 1904, Hays obtained options from a 38 A Thousand Blunders syndicate of Victoria businessman for a moribund railway charter from Kitamaat harbour to the junction of the Skeena and Copper rivers and then up the Skeena to Hazelton.
The minister would change his position for only one concession. C. '94 It is extraordinary that the minister regarded 6,700 acres, one-half of the reserve land in question, much of which was separated by water from the townsite proper, worth $3 or $4 million. What is more surprising is that the railway company officers apparently shared this belief since they agreed to Pacific construction to obtain this land. Indeed, one source suggests that the company would have regarded the minister's estimate as very low.
But Morse, now disappointed at not obtaining a general land grant and, in fact, misunderstanding the proper designation of the reserve in question, barged into the negotiations and berated the premier. He also advised McBride to defer to Green on the matter since the minister had demonstrated that he understood the requirements of the company in the Kaien Island purchase. Morse concluded that the premier had already promised to sell the reserve to the company at the same price as in the earlier transaction.