A century ago, when Canada’s prime ministers were visionaries and not bank-appointed aspirants of positive branding, our founding fathers dreamed of a Canada with three major ports on the West Coast.
The first would be near the southern border and guard the Dominion from the South: Vancouver. The second would be near the southern border of Alaska, either Seward or Prince Rupert, and guard us from the North. The third would be a smaller port and serve the Yukon and Stikine: Skagway, which the Americans managed to convince an international mediator to give to Alaska.
Charles Melville Hays died on the Titanic. He was the magnate and visionary who made it his task to mirror the Canadian Pacific Railway/Vancouver success with the Grand Trunk Railway (later the Canadian National)/Prince Rupert pairing). That the death of one man should prevent Prince Rupert from building the epochal central hotel, waterworks, street grid, lot layouts, and parks systems—the many factors done in Vancouver but not in Prince Rupert—speaks to the role of leadership and drive even today. Only a few years ago did CNR finally finish building a modern port facility in Prince Rupert.
Prince Rupert was selected as the western terminus, over Seward or other possible locations, because although it is on an island, the island is very close to and easily connected to other islands and the mainland by bridges; and the fact that the city is the closest in Canada to Asian markets—a full days’ sailing closer than Vancouver.
The overall area lends itself to a large city, wrapping around multiple harbours and bays—potential for the most beautiful city on Earth. It has access to abundant clear and clean water as it is located near the mouth of the Skeena River, not to mention the incredible hydropower potential emanating from the many rivers in British Columbia’s enormous Coast Mountains. It is an excellent location for a major city, if perhaps a bit on the wet side (in deference to Scottish and Vietnamese readers).
Indeed, part of the reason for the skyrocketing real estate prices in Vancouver is simple: the city is full. The city can really only go up, not out. The Canadian economy wants and needs another major western port.
Although the Grand Trunk was built mainly by Chinese labourers, we do not hear as many of the horror stories about its construction as we do about the CPR; indeed, it is reported that a Chinese city gave Mr. Hays the keys to their city as an honour before his untimely passing. Perhaps it is time to close the circle.
Hong Kong was built on an isolated island off the coast of China, annexed to Britain after the outrageously corrupt Opium Wars. However, this island, protected by British laws, became a magnet for Chinese seeking a better life, and by hook and by crook, became an unrivalled economic centre. Today it remains the main interface between the West (and its money) and China.
But it may be dying. We all know that. We want to pretend that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will realize the error of their ways. We want to believe that Hong Kong is such a powerhouse it will be around forever. We want to believe that the influence of Hong Kong will create a better China. But we all know, deep down, that we could be wrong. The CCP has unapologetically killed hundreds of millions of its own people over 70 years (and I’m not including 400 million compulsory abortions), and continues mass incarceration on an industrial scale, especially in Xinjiang in China’s northwest. After a few years of building trade links, countries like Kazakhstan are turning back to Russia, and Kenya and Sri Lanka are turning back to Britain, because they have learned they cannot trust the CCP.
Hong Kongers know it too, which is why there have been months of protests. But what if they lose? The CCP is too good at controlling entire populations. Both the current and former Chinese ambassadors have threatened Canada as a whole, and made statements about “white privilege.” Ambassadors are meant to be the embodiment of diplomacy and good manners. If this is the best the CCP has to offer, it is terrifying what talent pool they are drawing from back in the People’s Republic.
Here is my idea. Canadians, let us create a charter city at Prince Rupert, and mirror Hong Kong-style British laws, while creating a generation-long timeframe for merging those laws with the Canadian standard. Let us speak to Hong Kongers and ask them to pool their still-massive wealth, and create a fund that will finance the infrastructural needs of a new metropolitan Prince Rupert. Let us finish Mr. Hays’ plans for Prince Rupert, while developing an economic package so that current residents benefit fairly from the transition of their small town to a major city.
Let Hong Kongers of good repute who agree to uphold the Confederation, give up foreign citizenship, speak English or French fluently, vow against working for foreign parties (read CCP), come to the new city. Let Prince Rupert become the New Hong Kong in Canada, and let it be a Canadian city, but also the last bastion of what is left of the true China. Let the energy, people, and wealth-building magic of Hong Kong come here, where it will be safe.
We may also discuss the eventual re-division of British Columbia into its four main pieces: Vancouver Island, Stikine Country, Athabasca Country, and the southern B.C. mainland (once called New Caledonia). This would also serve First Nations interests, but I digress.
If any readers are swayed by my words, please feel free to email me and perhaps we can do this the grassroots way, because we know our elected leadership won’t do it. Meanwhile, despite their best efforts, millions of Hong Kongers may slowly continue their march to living under totalitarianism, while Canada will continue its slow march into stagnation.
Peter Scholz MCIP PMP
Professional Land Planner
Arviat, Nunavut, Canada
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.