Donald Methuen Fleming
Were tenders called in every case?
Were tenders called in every case?
The minister said that it would cost an average of $1,000 per unit for permanent foundations. It seems to me that with respect to the original wartime housing, where houses were being put up for sale, the allowance made was $600 per unit for the same type of work. Why is the estimate $1,000 per unit now?
It depends on the vintage of the houses and the degree of repairs they need when foundations are put under them. I am told that at one time Central Mortgage and Housing made such allowance up to $700, but the amount indicated is an estimate of likely present-day costs.
Item agreed to.
302. Departmental administration, $455,547.
Hon. members will find the vote at page 44 of the blue book and the details at page 373.
I should like the minister to make a statement on this department. He is a new minister and his estimates are coming up for the first time. I should like to hear from him for a minute or two.
Hon. Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources):
Hon. members will note that the amounts shown in the 1953-54 column of the blue book are the amounts provided by parliament in that year for works and services for which the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources continues to be responsible.
The total shown is $21,647,650, of which $325,731 covers appropriations which will not be required in 1954-55. The remaining $21,321,919 may be compared directly with our requirements for 1954-55, which total $22,031,026, or an over-all increase of $709,107, or about 3-4 per cent.
This increase is the net result of a number of increases and decreases. The major decreases are a reduction of $500,000 in the estimated requirements for the spruce bud-worm program in New Brunswick and a reduction of $550,000 in the provision for the eastern Rockies board capital expenditure program which is now coming to a close.
These decreases are offset by an increase of some $440,000 in the national parks operations vote, and some $587,000 in the national parks construction vote. Further increases of a more minor nature will be noted in various votes, and I will be glad to explain these when the particular votes are reviewed.
On this opening item of the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources there is a matter that I should like to call to the attention of the minister. It has to do with the subject of an island in lake Erie, Ontario. This island is a very interesting place indeed from many points of view. It is approximately 14 miles long and varies in width from approximately 1 mile to 3 miles and averages approximately 14 miles in width. There are more than 17,000 acres of land on this island. It juts out from the Canadian shore of lake Erie and stretches out toward the middle of lake Erie almost to the international boundary line. The start of the island, which, owing to the filling in of the marshes, makes it in reality a sort of peninsula rather than an island, forms a long bay about 18 miles wide at the mouth and diminishes to only a few hundred yards in width at the narrow end. This particular island to which I refer would probably make a wonderful site for a national park for various reasons, which are as follows:
First of all, this large island is located within 150 miles of probably the most thickly populated part of the Dominion of Canada. It is in southwestern Ontario and is part of the county of Norfolk. If this island were made a national park it would then be available as a playground and a place which could be visited not only by our own people there but by tourists from the United States as well, and we all know that tourist trade from the United States is very valuable indeed. In addition, this island is a veritable paradise for wildlife. I understand there are more snakes on the island per square foot than anywhere else in the world, but none of the snakes are poisonous. There is one particular variety there which I believe is found nowhere else in North America. It is called the "wamper", a large water snake, from six to eight feet long. It is harmless, although it might cause nervous shock or something of that kind if arrived upon unexpectedly.
There are also eagles on this island, and in the waters adjoining the island there is probably the best small-mouth bass fishing in North America. There may be other places which are as good. I say that in deference to other hon. members, but I do not think that any other place is better. In addition to that, this particular island is also one of the very finest duck-shooting places in North America. The reason for that is the large bay that is formed by this island and the mainland of Ontario and the rest of lake Erie. Because of the fact that this island is nothing more or less than a gigantic sandbar, there are a lot of shallow inlets and bays and small islands
adjoining the inshore side of this long island or small peninsula. In these little bays the waters are not more than a few inches to a few feet deep, and there are large quantities of wild rice which attract a great many game birds in the fall, wild ducks, geese and so on. The island also has a very large stand of virgin timber, which is a rarity in that part of Canada. And, particularly, some of the hardwoods grow to a great size, which is also unique. Unfortunately the present owners of the island are cutting down this timber and selling it.
Hon. members may very well ask why these things exist, and I shall come to that in a moment. The island also has great historic value. It stretches right out in lake Erie and has often been called the Sable island of the great lakes. More ships have been wrecked around this island than anywhere else in all the great lakes put together. As I have already pointed out, the whole island for that matter is a shifting sandbar. Right off the end of the island is a very deep hole, I believe the deepest spot in lake Erie, which, compared with the other lakes, is not very deep, not more than 200 feet deep. The end of the island has been shifting with the winds and currents and as a result during the last century and indeed in this century there have been a great many wrecks.
For those who were able to land on the island without being chased off by the gamekeeper it has often been a source of great interest to see the wreckage of some of these old ships poking up through the sand. Many books have been written about this place. Possibly a number of hon. members have read some of them. It is also of interest that in the war of 1812 when General Brock set out from Port Dover in some small boats, to capture Detroit-which he did quite successfully-the party rowed around this island, landed at one point on it and camped there all night.
There are many other points of interest. At the present time the eastern tip of the island is still retained, I believe, by the federal government and a large lighthouse station is maintained there, whose light guides vessels safely through lake Erie and away from the highly dangerous end of this island. For those who are unfamiliar with this particular piece of land may I say this. When there is still all this wildlife on this island and it is still in the virgin state, there may be many who are wondering why people are not allowed to go on it. The reason is extremely interesting indeed. In the year 1866, which even for Ontario is a relatively
Supply-Northern Affairs long while ago-I would remind hon. members it was before confederation-a special act of incorporation was passed by the legislature of Upper Canada. This act incorporated a company called the Long Point Company. The original directors were to be John Brown, George Hamilton Gillespie, Thomas Cockburn Kerr, William Little, David Tisdale, Lauchlin McCallum and Samuel DeVoe Woodruff. It is rather interesting to note that these gentlemen I have just mentioned were all Canadians and that they all came from different parts of what is now the province of Ontario. One came from Hamilton, one came from St. Catharines, another from London, another from Simcoe and so on. It is also interesting to note that two months before this act of incorporation was passed, these same gentlemen had purchased from the crown virtually all the lands which make up this island of Long Point. Some small parts of those lands were acquired later by the company, but most of the lands were acquired by these same gentlemen from the crown at that time. Hon. members may be able to draw their own conclusions-that is the only thing they can do since all these people are, of course, long dead and gone-as to why they came from different parts of Ontario when they acquired these lands from the crown. In due course these same gentlemen, being the directors at the time of the incorporation of the company, sold this whole island to the company.
It is interesting to note what the objects and purposes of this company were. Paragraph 3 of the act of incorporation reads as follows:
The company may carry on the business of pursuing, protecting and granting licences to take game, muskrats, mink, otter, beaver, and fish, upon the said lands and property or in the water covering the same: and generally the doing of such other acts or things with the said land or with any mineral substance or thing, grown, or to be grown, found or being in or upon the same, as may promote the interests of the company,-
Then they very nicely put in this qualification:
-and not being contrary to the laws of this province, or the terms of the patent from the crown.
Then one of the most interesting items of all is paragraph 4 of this act of incorporation which reads as follows:
The capital stock of the company shall be the sum of fifty thousand dollars, divided into one hundred shares of five hundred dollars each, . . .
Then it goes on to say that this amount may be increased from time to time. It is interesting to notice that the purchase price paid for all this land by the new company to these
Supply-Northern Affairs same gentlemen who had originally purchased it from the crown was one hundred shares of the company. For those of you who are familiar with the rudiments of corporation law, the implication is obvious. For those who are not, let me say this. The fact remains that while the shares in the company were to be one hundred shares of five hundred dollars each, the land given in exchange for these shares was fully paid up. In other words, the land was virtually turned over in exchange for these shares. On the face of it there seems to be nothing particularly wrong with any of this procedure. But let us go into the history of this company and this island a little bit further.
It has been a well-known fact-and to everyone in that part of the country it is common knowledge-that the in fact owners of the company have ever since that date been a number of extremely wealthy men from New York city and the surrounding areas. Occasionally there has been a Canadian member. At the present time I believe there are two and possibly three Canadian members of this club. The rest of them are all citizens of the United States. The late J. P. Morgan, of considerable financial fame, was one of the owners, or was one of the members and shareholders of this company. Many other men with prominent names in American business and financial history have been owners and members of this club. I do not wish to take up the time of the committee to go into this matter at any great length, but the information is easily available.
As I understand it this club-and I say this in order to be fair-has kept up the objects and purposes that were set out in the original charter. They have been scrupulously careful about the taking of game. It is my understanding that the members of this club go to the club only during the duck-shooting season in the fall and that they take only a few ducks, something which is extremely admirable indeed. I understand that they seldom if ever attended the place during the bass-fishing season. I may say that there have been some extremely noted visitors to the club. His Majesty King Edward VIII, while Prince of Wales, was a guest at the club, and I understand he did some shooting there at the time of his visit. Of course that was quite a number of years ago.
To get back to the original suggestion, I feel that this island should become a national park and the property of all the people of Canada, not only for the use of our citizens but as a wonderful attraction for tourists as well. It is quite true that the Long Point Company and its shooting and game club have done a very good job of preserving the wildlife there; and I think they should be
commended for what they have done. While it is true that it may not have been all a matter of altruism, because by keeping everybody else off the island they actually protected the game and fish there for themselves, the fact remains that, no matter what was their reason for doing it, this is a wonderful preserve of wildlife and it is one of the few places of its kind anywhere in the settled or populated parts of Canada.
In addition to the Long Point club itself there is one other club known as the Rice Bay club which is situate in the water area near the shore. This club is set up on stilts on the water and is not actually attached to the land. I understand that they always manage to get along very well with the Long Point Company and the residents of this club have never been asked to leave. I would think it would be quite possible, if these lands were obtained for the public benefit, that there would be no necessity to disturb the people who have had possession and who have enjoyed certain rights there but that they could be left alone. However, I am quite sure that the members of the Long Point Company do not need an island nearly fourteen miles long and a mile and a half wide purely for their own purposes. There should be a good road through the island so that the public can come in, as they do in other natural parks, and see nature as it is under unique circumstances.
There is one other thing of interest about this island and that is what I may call the bay side, which is very swampy and full of wildlife such as snakes and so on, and which would be ideal for setting up any type of reserve. The southern or lakeside shore of the island has one of the most beautiful natural beaches in Canada with very fine, hard, white sand stretching for miles and would be suitable for holidayers. Now the far end of the island, that is the end closest to the mainland, which was never acquired by this company, is at the present time leased by the province of Ontario to cottagers on a 99-year lease basis with certain restrictions on the type of cottages that can be put up there. There are many hundreds of cottages, though in fact only a few have the advantage of a lakefront site. Most of them are in plots of sand toward the middle of the island. These cottagers come largely from places such as London, Woodstock, Tillsonburg, Brantford, Simcoe, Toronto, Hamilton and many other places, as well as from the United States. I know that a great many people from my own riding have summer cottages there and a great many people also have small cabins which they use on fishing and shooting expeditions. At the opening of the bass season
anywhere within three miles of this particular island there are not dozens but hundreds of boats out fishing. For those who have been there it is indeed a unique spot. I could go on, Mr. Chairman, but I do not think it is necessary to discuss this matter at any further length. I think the main idea has been put across to the minister.
However, I understand that there are other islands and areas in Ontario which could be turned into national parks. The minister was kind enough to give me this information, since I did not have time to look it up myself, but I understand that one of these areas is Pelee island, which is at the opposite end of lake Erie near the city of Windsor. I think it would be a rather suitable thing if some arrangement could be made with the Ontario government so that this island, Long Point, can also be acquired as a national park, as well as Pelee island.
I would like to wind up these remarks by emphasizing that such natural assets showing Canadian wildlife as it is in that part of Ontario, and which have remained unspoiled, should become the property of everyone in Canada and should not remain the property of a few very wealthy people from the United States.
Mr. Chairman, I simply wish to say a word as to the policy of the government as regards the setting up of national parks. As hon. members are aware, the first prerequisite is that the land for a park be offered by a provincial government to us free of all encumbrances, and it is only after such an offer has been made that the various factors which have to be taken into account before we can come to a decision are in fact considered.
Mr. Chairman, I wish to make a few brief observations on the first item in these estimates, but before proceeding to do so I must say that I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of the hon. member who has just resumed his seat. His speech was most interesting and informative.
This is a department which during recent years has frequently changed its name and certain branches have been rearranged from time to time. It is, in my opinion, a very important department indeed and one of those departments which offer tremendous opportunity and scope for a minister with talent and imagination, and also a great opportunity for action in regard to the natural resources of this country. I might say, Mr. Chairman, that we are indeed fortunate in having a young minister in charge of this department face to face with some very
Supply-Northern Affairs ancient problems. I hope the combination of the two will distil a very satisfactory result.
I have read the entire report issued by this department because it always makes interesting reading. I think the officials who compiled this report are to be congratulated on issuing a most interesting document. I am, of course, referring to the report tabled on March 31, 1953, while it was still the department of resources and development. I found the report interesting, comprehensive and excellent in every way.
I wish to make again the suggestion I have made on previous occasions when dealing with these estimates, that in my opinion the estimates of this department should be referred to the committee on mines, forests and waters. That committee has not met for quite a number of years and this is a committee that could do a good deal of useful work. I am not suggesting that the estimates should be submitted solely for examination, to ascertain how the money should be spent. I think the estimates should be submitted to the committee so that the committee will have an opportunity to hear from various excellent technical personnel in this department in regard to the amount of work they are doing. There are quite a number of men in this department doing very useful work of which very few Canadians, and indeed I believe a small percentage of the members of this house, are aware, and I think the referring of these estimates to that committee would be well worth while and provide members of this house with an opportunity to learn about the work being done by this very important department.
That is all I am going to say about the estimates at this time. But I do want to say a few words-I see the minister looking at me and I am quite sure he knows what I am about to say-in regard to the recent resources conference held in Ottawa, the first I might say since 1906. This conference was sponsored by the Canadian Forestry Association, the Agricultural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Forestry Institute, the Canadian Institute of Engineers and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. I am sure the minister will agree that it was an excellent conference, at which I spent a most enjoyable two days. I must say I listened with a great deal of interest to the minister's welcoming speech. It was a very interesting speech and indeed a capable speech which was received very favourably by the delegates present. I hope that as a result of the work of the conference and their findings the minister when he next addresses an
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Supply-Northern Affairs organization of that type, or even in addressing this house, will commit the government to some definite action along the lines suggested by the conference.
Two days were spent dealing with the important question of renewable natural resources. There was an excellent discussion on our forest resources and another on soil and water resources, and yet another on wildlife and recreational facilities. Papers were read and discussions were held by people who knew what they were talking about, and some of the most prominent people in Canada working in these spheres made some excellent speeches which were well worth listening to, while the discussion on their papers was interesting indeed.
As the result of these two days of papers, addresses and discussions, the conference summarized its opinions. It did not pass a formal resolution but more or less by general agreement summarized the findings of the conference. I think it is quite fair to say that the opinion was generally expressed that there should be a national policy in the development of our natural resources devised as the result of dominion-provincial cooperation. That question was mentioned again and again in the papers and discussions that followed.
It was also suggested by several speakers that a royal commission should be established to study the whole question of conservation of natural resources in Canada, to gather evidence, hear opinions, and make recommendations and prepare a report. I was also very interested to notice that repeatedly, whether the speaker came from British Columbia, the prairies, central Canada or the maritimes, the opinion was expressed that we must have a national approach to this problem and that there should be greater contributions from the federal government towards a general overall national conservation policy in Canada.
These were not the opinions of people who had not given consideration to the subject. These were the opinions of people who have lived with these various questions, forest resources, soil and water conservation, wildlife and recreational problems, for many years, and that was a summary of their opinions. I hope that as the result of that conference and its findings, as the result of the meeting together of minds of people prominent in these fields from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the government will give some consideration to the findings of the conference. I trust that the immediate result will be an increase in the estimates of this department next year in order to assist the provinces with respect to forest protection,
soil and water conservation, conservation of wildlife and recreational resources.
I do not know whether the minister has received any formal representations from the conference but I would certainly like the minister to give consideration to the opinions expressed there and to inform the house if the government is being moved in the direction of calling a dominion-provincial conference to establish a national policy on conservation as the result of consultation and co-operation.
I have received a letter from my good friend, Mr. Van Camp, but I have not yet received the resolutions adopted at that conference. My hon. friend may rest assured that the officers of my department and I will give these resolutions all the consideration that they certainly deserve.
Assuming that we will not conclude consideration of the national parks branch tonight, possibly what I am about to say might be taken as notice by the minister because I am sure that he and his officials will want the opportunity to secure the information which I require. The minister may or may not recall that last December, when we were considering amendments respecting the operation and maintenance of parks, I asked a question to this effect. I wanted to know what rights go with leases when leases are granted in park areas or in areas under the jurisdiction of the parks branch. After I had said that I had certain information with respect to a bad situation in connection with Banff national park, the minister asked me to submit the information to him. I thanked him and said I would, but I must say that it has taken me until this time to get all the information I wanted.
Last week I was asked to meet two different organizations for the purpose of discussing this matter. The area I have in mind is just outside Banff national park and is known as the Ya-Ha-Tinda area. It covers eighteen square miles and consists of portions of township 32, ranges 11 and 12, west of the fifth meridian. According to an order in council passed on the 14th of March, 1950, which I have before me, this area was set apart for the use of the dominion parks branch for grazing purposes. I have heard that a ranch is now established in that area.
But, Mr. Chairman, these are the complaints. Is this still a park area? It is under the jurisdiction of the parks branch, but is it still a park area? If so, do the rules and regulations governing parks apply here? This is what we find. In this area of eighteen square miles some persons are permitted to hunt big game and some are denied the right. Rangers have stopped certain persons
from going in there but when these hunters have challenged the jurisdiction of the ranger no action has been taken.
On the gate leading into the property is a no trespassing sign. Apparently the no trespassing sign applies to some people but does not apply to others because certain persons have been refused entry to this eighteen square mile area while others have been permitted to enter. I do not mind telling the minister that the meetings I had last week were with two branches of the fish and game association. These hunters have gone in there and have seen hunting going on. They have seen game shot and taken out of the area and yet they themselves have been excluded from this eighteen square mile area and have been threatened with prosecution if they enter.
These people say to me that if this area is to be a game preserve, as are the park sections, that is fine, they have no complaint; but if it is to be an area in which some people are allowed to hunt, then all should be allowed to hunt there. They tell me that recently a part of the area has been plowed up and they think that is strange. They say it is a mistake. Part of the area is very similar to the prairies and has a type of grass known as prairie wool. If that is removed it will be an absolute disaster.
In this eighteen square mile area there is some of the finest scenery that you would want to see, and yet according to the sign on the gate and according to the orders given by the rangers it is closed entirely to the public. They think there is something strange about all this. This has been the experience for a number of years now and these men would like to get true information with respect to the situation. If the area is closed, if the public are completely excluded, they want to know it. If those in authority have the right to put up a no trespassing sign on the gate then these people would like to know it. A very good road leads right up to the gate where the no trespassing sign is posted. Cars can move right up to that point. Within a matter of three miles inside a most beautiful waterfall can be seen. Yet, as I say, these people are ordered out of there and are warned what will happen if they go in. On the other hand, others go in there and camp. I was asked if I would look into the matter. I may say that I have just returned today and I had hoped to be able to get the facts together a little better. I trust that this matter can be straightened out so that I can advise these people as to the true situation that exists in that eighteen square mile area.
May I ask one question for clarification? Would the hon. member say who has been doing the warning he is talking about?
The park employees?
Yes; they must be park rangers because these men told me it was a federal park ranger. Under the order in council, Mr. Chairman, it says:
Whereas the Minister of the Interior reports that it is proposed to withdraw certain lands including Ya-Ha-Tinda area from the Rocky Mountains park, Alberta, and that the said area is now used and will continue to be required by the dominion parks branch for winter grazing:
Therefore, His Excellency the Governor General in Council . . .
As you will note, it was set aside out of the region by the parks branch, presumably for winter grazing. Then down below it states:
. . . also withdrawn from disposal under the said act and set apart for the use of the dominion parks branch for grazing purposes.
These men tell me it is a federal forest ranger who is in there and who orders them off the place. Incidentally, he misses an island, apart from the park proper, but there is provincial land all around him. Here is the order in council. I have seen recent correspondence between certain of these men who have complained to the provincial government. The provincial government has had some correspondence with the federal authority in connection with it. I believe the province recommended that a corridor be cleared into this area in the park. In any event, quite a number of these letters are filed, and it is most disturbing and most confusing. Perhaps the minister would like to look into it.
May I ask the hon. member if he would hand me a copy of the order in council that he had in his hand? That would help me clarify the position. Perhaps then I will be able to answer his question.