He was appalled by the number of charters granted to railway companies, the condition of which were never observed. He was disturbed that in many cases the charters were obtained by speculators who had no intention of constructing railways.
Senator Davis produced the statistic that between 1900 and 1908, sixty-five companies, excluding the three transcontinentals, had been chartered to construct 37,862 miles of rail but only 463 miles had actually been laid down by thirteen companies.
The years between 1896 and 1914 were a time of national euphoria over Canada’s growth. This was summed up in Sir Wilfred Laurier’s memorable statement that “the twentieth century belonged to Canada.”
This ebullience was ephemeral, based as it was on political opportunism, intemperate speculation, unbounded optimism and wishful thinking.
This was reflected in the number of railway charters granted that affected Western Canada and Alberta especially between the years of 1902 and 1915.