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Alexander Doull's Railway Town Layout Plan

Plan Of an extensive system of Colonization, in connection with the construction of [a] Railway.

ear Sir,—

Agreeably to your request, I have drawn up the following statement of the mode by which an extensive system of colonization may be combined with the construction of … [a] railway, in such a manner as to admit a safe, steady and gradual extension of the several settlements along the line, and thus to avoid the calamities which frequently result an indiscriminate mass of settlers alighting down in great numbers upon a spot of unreclaimed land, with very inadequate if any pre-arrangements.

There is one very important advantage connected with colonization in the districts of a country through which the…railway would pass, and indeed in all the unsettled portions of the British North American Colonies, which appears to be almost if not entirely overlooked, and that is the title to the land, and consequently the undisturbed occupancy thereof; whilst in may colonies the titles to the land are disputed by the aboriginal inhabitants, who, whilst they are driven back by a progressive army of colonists, hold the vanguard in perpetual alarm, and frequently retaliate upon them by the commission of cruel and extensive murders.

In the colonies where this state of things exists there is a paramount necessity for settlers to congregate together in large numbers, for mutual safety, very much to their disadvantage in other respects; but no degree of isolation which is compatible with the most advantageous arrangements need be guarded against, in reference to the operations of the Canadian Land and Railway Association.

The centre line of the railway being permanently marked upon the ground, and the site of the stations chosen, the next operation would be to erect, and that permanently, such portions of the station buildings as could be readily made to accommodate the parties engaged on the works, and this would be proceeded with until the whole station buildings are completed.

The site of the town would now be marked out; a knowledge of the locality would at once point out the extent to which it would be necessary to reserve land for that purpose, and for the various industrial establishments which would be likely to spring into existence in any particular district.

The proposed settlements would be about ten miles distant from each other, measured along the line of the railway, and extend ten miles from the railway into the country on each side, giving an area of twenty square miles, or 12,800 acres, to each settlement.

In a purely agricultural district the town would not necessarily be extensive, as there would be numerous small villages and homesteads placed in the most convenient positions for efficiently and economically cultivating the above extent of land.

As the railway stations would be the central point to which all the produce of the district would be brought for conveyance to a market, and from which all necessary supplies would be obtained, it would probably be found very advantageous, and more particularly in agricultural districts, to increase the store accommodation at the railway station, so as to serve a purpose of storing up all the surplus produce, until the most suitable for conveyance by railway to market, or for exportation.

The pursuits of the settlers in the several settlements would vary considerably according to the resources of the locality of each particular station. The whole would be more or less agricultural; some agricultural and mining; in many cases agriculture would be combined with various kinds of manufacturing industry.

Several of the stations could conveniently be placed upon navigable rivers, where ship and boat building could be carried on, and also fishing operations to a very great extent.

The accompanying sketch of a town is not proposed in the expectation that it would be carried without considerable modification, according to the varying circumstances of the locations above alluded to, but principally to suggest that some well considered plan for the arrangement of the streets, the drainage, the position of the public buildings, factories and workshops in connection with the railway should be acted upon, and should gradually extend outwards from the station buildings, so that to whatever extent the town would ultimately extend, there would be no necessity for that expensive re-modeling which would be inevitable if no well considered pan was acted upon. The simplest arrangement of the streets has been adopted, as being most susceptible of gradual extension.

As the interests of the Railway Company, and the prosperity of the settlers on the lands appropriated by the Provinces to the Company, would be intimately combined, one establishment of water-works, gas works, and probably saw mills, would be common to all parties, and would be most conveniently established by the Railway Company, and in connection with the station buildings.

In the accompanying plan the railway passes through the town, the station being in the centre of the town, and consists of the necessary station accommodation, with ample store room for goods and agricultural produce of every description. At the angles of the station buildings there are houses for the accommodation of the several parties connected with the management of the station, and a section of the line of railway.

A A is a church and chapel, with adult and infant schools attached. These buildings would not be required until considerable progress had been made in the settlement, as temporary accommodation could be obtained in the station buildings.

B B a public hall, library, museum, infirmary, reading room, and coffee room.

D D, &c., stores for the sale of various articles necessary for the settlement, and to be partly occupied by the lighter trades, and in the manufacture of various minor articles.

E E public buildings, such as baths and washhouses, lodging houses for single or married men, coffee houses, &c. &c.. Some of these might advantageously be erected in the earlier stages of the settlement, as affording accommodation for a great many persons, either families or single persons, at comparatively little expense.

The area or space enclosed by the stores, and not required for the purposes of the railway, would in the first instance be cleared and cultivated to meet the immediate wants of the settlers, but ultimately it could be laid out as ornamental ground, with bridges crossing the railway where necessary. The greater portion of the site of the town could also be brought under cultivation until the erection of the buildings was rendered necessary by the gradual increase of the settlers.

The ranges of buildings marked in the accompanying plan, if set out in distinct dwellings, varying the frontage and character of the buildings so as to produce the necessary diversity in the amount of accommodation suitable to the several classes of occupiers, would produce about 1400 houses, and allowing five persons to each house, 7,000 persons would be accommodated. This is a much greater amount of accommodation than would be necessary in an agricultural district, and would probably be the maximum under the most favourable circumstances, unless perhaps in mining and manufacturing districts.

The spaces M M M M are reserved for the erection of factories requiring the use of steam engines, and such heavy machinery and materials as would be most conveniently placed in connection with the railway sidings.

Cattle markets, slaughter houses, and the manufacture of any offensive substances, would be placed at any convenient distance from the town and railway which would be considered most desirable.

A cemetery would also be placed at some convenient distance from the town.

With respect to drainage, much would depend upon the altitudes, and upon the manner in which the railway would pass through the town. It would however be of the simplest character for promoting cleanliness and health, as well as for saving and applying, the liquid and other manures, as valuable fertilizers for agriculture, and would progress as the town extended.

Much inconvenience has hitherto arisen in the British colonies generally, in consequence of emigrants arriving before the surveys of the land allotments had sufficiently advanced to enable them to take immediate possession, and to commence the construction of their dwellings, and such agricultural or other operations as would most readily and most effectually meet their immediate wants.

In the case of the Canadian Land and Railway Association, the centre line of railway being marked out upon the ground which would become the basis of operation for the survey of the allotments and the site of the stations chosen as the nuclei of the several settlements, the operation of surveying the allotments would be reduced to the simplest possible form, and consequently to the minimum of expense.

Sufficient space would in the first instance be reserved along side of the railway for the construction of a common road, and the several roads which would be laid out at right angles to the railway, and extending from each side of it, would serve as dividing lines for the allotments, as well as for the purpose of affording the means of communication with the railway stations.

The very great facility with which a considerable number of allotments could be set off from the railway, and the case by which the number could at any time be increased to any extent, on each side of it, to meet the growing wants of the several settlements, will be sufficiently apparent to any person at all conversant with the matter, by the bare inspection of the accompanying plan of a town and adjoining allotments.

Much however would depend upon circumstances as to the shape and the size of the allotments.

These circumstances are in the first place physical. Rivers and streams winding through a district of country would have to be considered in laying out the allotments, in order to give the advantages of water frontage to as great a number of allotments as possible, and to extend the benefit of water power as much as possible. Portions may also be unfit for cultivation. Limestone, slate or other formations may intervene, which could be profitably worked by the railway company, or let to individuals with capital, or to an associated body of settlers in connection with land.

Farmers of capital, who are filled with gloomy forebodings as to the future in the mother country, might be disposed to occupy from 500 to 1,000 acres in one lot in the colonies. Gentlemen of capital also, who can neither find elbow room nor a profitable investment for their capital at home, might find it convenient to transplant themselves, with a considerable number of retainers, and occupy one of the twenty square mile districts.

As far, however, as the interests of the labouring and operative classes are concerned, the principle of associated labour and proportionate profits ought to be adopted. The associated bodies to be formed in these kingdoms, governed by such bye-laws as they may choose to adopt, so that they are not incompatible with the general interests of the undertaking, and the moneys subscribed to be guarded in the best possible manner, at their own discretion.

The particular location to be chosen with reference to the occupation and pursuits of the associated bodies. The members of these bodies would be drafted off as required, so soon as the works on the portion of the railway passing through the district selected had been set out; and whilst those best adapted to the various operations connected with the construction of the railway works were prosecuting these works, others would be clearing and cultivating such portions of the land as would be most easily brought into cultivation, in order to render the settlement as early as possible self-supporting.

The members of the associated bodies remaining at home would be supplying those in the colonies, from time to time, with such tools and implements as would be most useful in carrying on the various operations; also small high-pressure steam engines, with couplings for connecting the necessary apparatus for sawing, grinding or pumping.

By this means the progress of the settlements would be so gradual as to avoid the many evils which appear almost necessarily connected with emigration in large bodies, unconnected with public works, and with very inadequate facilities for obtaining possession of the land upon arrival at the place of destination.

One or more of these associated bodies would occupy one entire block of land, of twenty square miles in extent, which would be gradually laid out in the most advantageous manner as the clearing progressed.[...]

I am, dear Sir, yours truly, Alexander Doull