New Westminster, B.C. 17 Sep 1883 Marcus Smith Letter
Lot 90 in our auction Saturday 23rd July 2022

                       New Westminster B.C.

                                       Sept. 17th 1883

My dear Nannie

                           I mentioned in my last letter that we had been over two months in perpetual gloom from the dense smoke of forrest fires – a week ago this came to an end we had two days heavy rain and now we have variable weather _ rain and sunshine cold enough for occasional fire in the grate – I am still very busy and shall be till the end of the year but most of the heavy outdoor work is over for a while – Tom has plenty of work and is thriving on it. I think it possible I may return home about the end of the year and perhaps not come back – I think I mentioned in my last that the contractors were getting behind financially chiefly from bad management – aggravated by low prices for their work. It looks like the Intercolonial repeated and they are looking chiefly to Tupper to help them out  so they will probably send some one out to do the dirty work they know I wont do – Nothing to mean for Schreiber to do and he can easily find tools to help him –

What put it into your head about 15 years chance of superannuation. You know that none of the railway engineers are on the civil service list but Schreiber, A McNab and Smellie was. but it was their reward for doing dishonest work chiefly for Fleming – There will probably be some office work to do for a month or two which will give me time to look round but there is little to look round for in Canada where all respectable Engineers are black balled as they wont play into the hands of Contractors Look at Shanly, Light & myself have either of us been offered anything on the great works now going on _ The Ontario & Quebec Railway was given to Lumsden mere Land surveyor never constructed a mile of railway in his life but he is only a dummy put up to save appearances and do the instrumental work – H. Ryan is the Boss by which he will make at least $15,000 a year besides giving subcontracts to his relatives _

The Chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Mr. Barclay is a Nova Scotian – married to a tavern keeper’s daughter _ a young man not over 30 – he was out with me on the surveys in the N. West in 1881 – is a surveyor knows nothing of construction _ another dummy put up to save appearances _ as the C.P.R. syndicate are letting contracts for construction at high rates and do the work as they like but have to employ a dummy engineer to blind the outside land holders __

The Vancouver Island railway contract is signed – – Mr Dunsmuir who works a colliery at Nanaimo is the ostensible contractor – but the real men who furnish the means to go on are a San Francisco firm – Mr J. Hunter of New Westminster is appointed Chief engineer – he was on the exploratory surveys under me in 1874 is a land surveyor knows nothing of construction not half as much as Tom – but he is cunning and two faced – will make a good dummy you must know that these dummies are necessary as the Company’s engineers to give legal sanction to any plunder that is going on –

The only hold I have on the Govt. is some reputation in the country (I mean the public, and as I know their misdeeds they are afraid of my exposing them – and may do something for me till they have all got the money they want from England or Germany – They may even be afraid to force me to leave the contract unless they give me something quite as good ____The only thing I care about here is the climate and my position places me in the highest society _ in Ottawa I have no position – but as you and the children cannot come here I care not to return – my first idea was the best to have brought you all out here years ago and made a stand in the country. I bought a farm in the Nicola valley – the garden of the mainland for $6000 with thousands of acres of free cattle run around – intending to put Tom on it (most of those engaged in cattle raising are English gentlemen’s sons and more are coming out)

Nothing has been done to this farm but a few acres of potatoes and some hay cultivated and the natural increase of the cattle pays for all so that the lot I bought for $6000 sold last month for $35,000 – I gave it up with a forfeit of $250 and Tom has never till within these last few months earned his living and has no prospects before him – It is too late now to do anything in land here or elsewhere – so we can only go on saving and with the good interest we are getting if I could hold my own for a few years longer _ we should be independent

                     Yours ever                                    M. Smith