April 15, 1901

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

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The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE.

These shipments from eastward to Montreal are for export from Montreal. A great deal of even maritime province butter and cheese is handled by exporters in Montreal and shipped from that port to England. The Intercolonial Railway has a regular system of cold storage cars from Metis westward to Montreal.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

If it is desirable to adopt that principle with respect to the export trade, it might be taken into consideration as to whether it is not desirable to adopt it for the purpose of increasing the trade in fresh fish between the maritime provinces and the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. That trade has developed to an enormous extent during- the last few years. It has developed on account of faster freight trains and on account of cold storage facilities being to some extent supplied. At present a very large portion of the Montreal fish trade is supplied from American ports. There is no reason in the world why the Canadian fishermen should not participate in that trade to a very much greater extent than they do at present. The statistics of this trade during the past few years are

given in this report, and they are very striking. I shall read some further conclusions from this report to which I have not yet drawn the attention of the House. It says : That every effort he made to shorten as much as practicable the time of the through freight train running between Mulgrave and Montreal and that close connection be secured, if possible, for points west of Montreal.

That is a matter which I propose to bring to the attention of the Minister of Railways as it does not concern the Department of Agriculture.

That the department of the Federal government having charge of the cold storage operations be requested to assist the transportation of fresh fish in less than car-load lots in the same way as they are at present assisting the shipping of butter and cheese to Montreal.

I understand from the minister that this assistance is given for the purpose of export for England. If it be desirable in that case it would be equally desirable to do it for the purpose of building up the trade be-1 tween our own provinces, and I have not the slightest doubt that with such assistance as is suggested in this report a very large trade in fresh iish may be built up between the maritime provinces and the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. It is of very great importance to the fishermen of the maritime provinces that this should be done, because they could get very much more for their fish in that way than they can by curing their fish and exporting it to the West Indies or Brazil. In the interests of the fishermen of the maritime provinces, as well as in the general interests of the country which would be advanced by building up that interprovincial trade, the suggestions made in this report very well deserve the attention of the government.

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The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE.

I fully appreciate the advantage of such work as is there suggested. The matter has not come under my own special notice inasmuch as I have been dealing in all this cold storage matter in reference to agricultural products. The Minister of Marine and Fisheries has taken up the question of cold storage for bait in connection with the fisheries, and I shall be very glad to discuss with him the possibility of providing the facilities necessary for that interprovincial trade in fresh fish. While our cold storage trade arrangements are guided by the interests of the export trade, yet our refrigerator cars are also available for the internal trade. For instance, butter or poultry or fruit consigned from Toronto to Montreal or from Windsor to Toronto can be put in these cars just as if these products were billed for export. There is no discrimination made, but still all our organization has been carried on with the object of dealing with the export trade, and it was with that view that the House voted the money originally. I sympathize very much with the desire of the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Borden) to encourage our interprovincial trade, and if the House should see fit I am disposed to think that the cold storage arrangements which have been found so successful might be extended to the trade in fresh fish.

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L-C

Edward Hackett

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HACKETT.

Some time ago the Minister of Agriculture informed me that there were negotiations pending for the purpose of providing cold storage between Prince Edward Island and Great Britain. How far have these negotiations progressed ? Spring is now here; shipping will be moving and it is essential in the interests of the farmers of Prince Edward Island that they should have the same facilities which the people of the other provinces have for shipping their products in cold storage to England.

The MINISTER OF* AGRICULTURE. The cold storage would, of course, come under my department, but the arrangement for a service from Prince Edward Island to Great Britain comes under the Department of Trade and Commerce. We have had a standing offer for a number of years that any ships leaving Prince Edward Island for Great Britain should get the same terms for cold storage as ships leaving Halifax, St. John and Montreal. If there is not a regular service from Prince Edward Island we cannot make arrangements for cold storage accommodation. The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Hon. Sir Richard Cartwright) is now negotiating with two or three ship-owning firms for a service this year, and which, I trust, will last longer than this year. I have made an offer to these firms to give them encouragement for cold storage accommodation. More than that, the Minister of Trade and Commerce has told them distinctly, in conjunction with myself that no vessel which is not properly fitted up with mechanical cold storage will be accepted for the Prince Edward Island trade. I may say that last year and the year before, some slight arrangements were made in regard to vessels sailing from Prince Edward Island ; but these vessels were not fitted up with mechanical cold storage. They were supplied partly with refrigerator chambers cooled by ice ; but, as has been found in the trade from other ports of Canada, these chambers are not satisfactory. While better than nothing, they are not what we think is due to the trade in food products from Prince Edward Island. I, therefore, urged very strongly on my colleagues, and they have agreed with me and insisted upon it, that any vessel getting a subsidy for service from Prince Edward Island to English ports shall be fitted up with mechanical cold storage of the most modern type and description.

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L-C

Edward Hackett

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HACKETT.

I am very thankful to the hon. gentleman for his explanation ; but I wish ft) distinguish between him and the

Minister of Trade and Commerce. The explanation of the hon. Minister of Agriculture, while very elaborate, is not very satisfactory to the people 1 represent. I would like to ask him how far the negotiations have gone on, and whether he is in a position to sfate that the people in Prince Edward Island, who are depending on this cold storage accommodation, will have proper ships this year in which to send their products to the English markets ?

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The MINISTER OF TRADE AND COMMERCE.

I trust that when the supplementary estimates come down I shall be able to give the hon. gentleman the explanation he requires. Just at present negotiations are going on with two or three separate parties, and I am hardly in a position to go into details.

Hon. Mr. ROSS (Victoria, N.S.) I highly approve of the remarks made by the hon. and learned leader of the opposition, in urging the necessity of having a better and more rapid mode of transit for the fresh fish of Cape Breton to the Canadian markets. It is a matter of regret to us to find that the markets here and west of us are supplied from Portland instead of from the Strait of Canso. The cold storage system which is about to be adopted for bait is a very different thing from what is required to forward fresh fish in proper condition to the best markets in Canada. We require not only good cold storage, but we require rapid transit, so that the fish may be got to these markets in good condition ; and the earlier they get there, of course, the better it is both for the shippers and those who have the advantage of eating the fish. I think it would also be of advantage to the people of the west if they would get into the habit of using more salt water fish. It might expand their ideas, and enable them to take broader views of public questions than they appear to do at present.

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CON

George Oscar Alcorn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ALCORN.

Will the minister state in detail what steps are-proposed to be taken, in tiie words of this item, for securing improvement and recognition of the quality of Canadian farm products ?'

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The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE.

I shall be very happy to do that; but if the hon. gentleman will allow me to call it six o'clock. I shall give him some details immediately after dinner, as I would rather not be interrupted while giving them.

At six o'clock, committee took recess. After Recess.

Committee resumed at eight o'clock.

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The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE.

When the House rose at recess, my hon. friend opposite asked me what was done by the department to secure an improved Mr. HACKETT.

recognition of the quality of Canadian farm products in foreign markets. I am very glad to have this opportunity of making a short statement with regard to this work. It is one which has largely been developed. The department has taken up the question of cold storage, which has now taken a wider area than would be indicated by the term, although in a general way the lines of work are cognate to cold storage transportation, and the proper preservation of food products during shipment abroad. When, some years ago, I asked for a vote of money to enable me to establish a chain of cold storage transportation, the object I principally had in view was the transportation of our Canadian butter into the English market. For years our cheese trade had been in a most satisfactory condition. The reputation of our cheese abroad had become very great and the business was a profitable one, but our Canadian butter had not a very good reputation, and did not command the high price it should, owing largely, if not altogether, to the lack of proper transportation facilities. Our butter in Canada was made very well, its quality in the Canadian market was excellent, but on reaching the English market it showed a certain deterioration. To remedy this difficulty, we provided cold storage facilities, equipping the main lines of railway with refrigerator cars and establishing cold warerouses where the butter could be stored until shipped from Montreal, Halifax and St. John, and providing mechanical cold storage accommodation on board the trains and steamers. Up to that time what work was done in the way of cold storage was done in furnishing ice-cold storage and had not accomplished the object desired. The moment that mechanical cold storage accommodation was provided, the attention of our people was turned to utilizing it for other products. Prof. Robertson and myself, when in England, found an ample opening for the sale of our poultry in that country, and we immediately undertook experiments in connection with the fattening and proper dressing of our poultry and sending it forward, which resulted in a pretty satisfactory trade being established, with the prospect of a very large increase. Attempts were made also to send forward such delicate products as peaches, pears and grapes, and, in a few instances, plums. 'These were partially successful. But we found that with the best cold storage accommodation, it was difficult to carry some of the fruit in the ordinary way of packing and handling them. We found that the result depended largely on the exact condition of the fruit when packed in cold storage on this side. It did not matter how well the transportation arrangements were perfected, if the fruit was not in a certain exact condition when packed. We found that of two specimens of a particular variety of fruit, packed in similar boxes, carried under ex-

actly tlie same conditions, and handled in exactly the same way, one would arrive in perfect condition and command a high price, and tlie other would arrive In a rotten condition and have to be thrown away. To a certain extent we have solved many of the problems, but do not pretend that they are all solved, but we have clearly proved that in certain conditions we have succeeded in carrying forward fine peaches satisfactorily while pears have been sent forward almost invariably with success. As far as the carriage is concerned, grapes have been sent forward pretty successfully, but we have been met with the difficulty that the English market, as a rule, does not appreciate our grapes as the Canadian market does, so that that trade is still in an experimental stage.

We found, notwithstanding the excellent reputation of our cheese in England, that which is made in the summer and is forwarded in the hot weather, does not command the high price and reputation that does the June and September cheese, and to-day we are trying to solve the problem of bringing about a condition of affairs under which our cheese, shipped all through the season, may be successfully put on the English market, so that in future July cheese will be sold in England at as high a price as June or September cheese and enjoy as high a reputation.

We also found ourselves in a position to investigate the transportation of our principal fruit product, the apple, and found ourselves face to face with the complaints formulated by the fruit-growers and shippers of this country. These complaints were loud, and we felt it necessary to do all we could to find out just where the faults lay.

Two years ago last summer we sent an agent to England to supervise all that was going on in the English market in connection with our Canadian food product trade. He watched the arrivals and made a carefully detailed report. That season we sent only one agent over. I myself and Prof/ Robertson also made a trip to England that season and investigated the condition of affairs there. The reports from our agent were of such a character that they gave us an immense amount of information, but still not nearly enough, and next year we sent him over again with an assistant, and again this year, as a result of the value of the reports we received, we had no less than four agents spending the season in England and looking after this branch of our trade. The chief agent, the one whom we sent over first and who had the most experience, was detailed to watch the Manchester and Liverpool trade with headquarters at Liverpool. We also had an agent stationed in each of the cities of Glasgow, London and Bristol, and during this last season we have had constant reports from these various officers, and now have in the hands of the commissioner of agriculture and dairying, an amount of correspondence and evidence, which,

when sifted out and worked into a report, will be of enormous value to those engaged in the trade in this country.

In connection with this, however, we found another state of affairs. While these gentlemen reported to us the condition of arrival in England of our Canadian fruit products, we had their reports of their arrival very frequently in a damaged condition, and the problem was to find out just where that damage occurred-whether it was in the original package, whether it was in the transportation with this country from the point of production to the port in Montreal, Halifax or St. John ; or whether it was in the ship going across the ocean. Therefore, to complete the investigation and to make it as effective as possible, we came to the conclusion that it was necessary to have officers on this side at the ports of shipment who would report upon the condition in which these various articles were put upon the ships. Therefore, I appointed several men in Montreal, Halifax and St. John to watch the condition of these products as they arrived in the cars from up the country, as they were handled in the port of shipment, and as they were put upon the ship. By reason of the appointment of these officers, I have had what I consider to be a pretty complete chain of evidence as to the way our fruit products have been handled and have gone forward. We have also been able to get a great deal of evidence which was of the utmost value, in my opinion, and which has largely determined my views as to the Bill which passed the other day, known as the Fruit Marks Bill, in regard to the packing of our apples especially. Now, in this connection, two or three things have developed. As I remarked a little while ago, in regard to the cheese, when we first began our work we did not really undertake to investigate the cheese trade. We thought that that trade was pretty thoroughly established on a firm and profitable basis. We knew that Canada had a very high reputation on the English market for cheese. As a matter of fact, we sent over between 60 and 70 per cent of all the cheese sent over to England, and that cheese had a most enviable reputation on the English market. But, we took it as a matter of course that our summer cheese was not as good as the rest: and most people in this country thought it could not be as good as the cheese made in June and September. The summer cheese was, to a certain extent, hurting the reputation of all our cheese in the English market, because it was sold as Canadian cheese-which it was-and the reputation of its comparatively poor quality injured that of all our cheese. It was true that it was sold as Canadian July or August cheese, but its sale had an injurious effect upon us in the English market. Therefore, in the course of our work, we directed our attention to find out in what way that difficulty could be overcome. We found out

two things : In the first place, we found out that our cheese made in the hot weather is cured in curing rooms not impervious to the outside heat. The curing rooms of cheese factories throughout the country we found to he flimsy of construction, so that the cheese was cured in a temperature which made it practically impossible to make a first-class article. We, therefore, sought to induce the cheesemakers of the country to improve their curing rooms. We did this by a campaign of education in the farmers's institutes and the various association meetings throughout the country. We went even further, and advised the local governments, one of which, at least, that of Quebec, which had offered a bonus to cheese factories that made an improvement in their curing rooms. At the same time. Prof. Robertson worked out the best plans and specifications for these curing rooms, and distributed them gratis to every one who would undertake this work. While this education has been going on, practical work has been going on also, a large number of our cheese factories so improving their curing rooms that to-day they can cure cheese in as cool a temperature in the middle of summer as they can in the fall and spring. And we have proven, by careful experiments under the direction of the department, that cheese that is made in the hottest weather may be as good as that made in the cooler weather. As a matter of fact, the cheese does not shrink so much as when cured in heated chambers. The cost of the improvement is so little that the saving on the shrinkage of cheese is sufficient of itself to make up for the expenditure. I am speaking from memory, but I believe lam right in saying, that in one season enough was saved on the shrinkage on cheese to almost pay the cost of improving the curing room.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

Does the hon. gentleman mean the cost of the curing rooms ?

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The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE.

Yes, the cost of improving the curing room. One season's make, in the increased value, which was found to be i cent per pound, and the saving in shrinkage, pays for the improvement in the curing room.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

Does the hon. gentleman mean for the manufacture of cheese or those to which the government are giving a bonus ?

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The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE.

No, the government are giving no bonus.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

But, the government is giving a bonus for this purpose ?

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The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE.

No ; the House is asked under this vote to give a sum toward providing creameries with cold storage accommodation. We are not giving a bonus to cheese factories for curing rooms. The Quebec government did give a bonus for such a purpose.

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LIB
CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

I thought this included cheese factories.

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The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE.

No, it is for creameries. There are some factories where cheese is made as well as butter. We give a bonus wherever they put in cold storage plants, and where they make a certain quantity of butter, and fulfil the other conditions. But, I am speaking of the facts that have come out as a result of our work in connection with the subject on which the hon. gentleman has asked questions. The results show that the improvement in our summer-made cheese has increased the reputation of our whole cheese product. Another point of equal importance was ascertained. It was found that in many cases our cheese was damaged in crossing the ocean by being packed in the hot hold of the vessel. I may say that when cold storage was first established a good many people talked of sending cheese forward in cold storage chambers, but the cheese merchants did not, to any extent, avail themselves of that accommodation, and comparatively little of our cheese was sent in the insulated cold storage chamber. In the hot weather cheese, even in the ordinary hold of the vessel, heats a little from its own ripening; and, in the hoc battened-down holds, it is seriously hurt. In that connection we have investigated what could be done to ventilate the holds of the ships so as to carry cheese forward in more perfect condition. This was made all the more desirable because of the knowledge our cheese-makers have acquired in connection with their curing rooms, because of which summer cheese is likely to be made of equal quality with the June or September cheese. The vote now before the committee does not include anything for this purpose, but I am going to ask parliament in a little while to give me a vote to secure belter ventilation in the ordinary holds of the ships. But, under the vote given, we have obtained the information and carried on the investigations, which have shown us, and proved to the shippers and those engaged in the trade, the necessity of the changes, which I shall outline when that matter comes up.

In this connection, I may also say that in our investigations we have found what was generally stated, but which was not by any means proved, that our apples going forward in ordinary holds of vessels unventilated, have heated, and that in many instances the apples which were put upon the ships in the ports here in fairly good condition, arrived at the other side cooked and hurt to such an extent that they were practically valueless. The general statement of shippers was that all their apples were hurt in that way. This was found not to be the case, but it occurred in many instances. We also found many instances where the apples were heated before they

303a

were put into the vessels, were heated on the railroad journey, or by lying out in the hot sun on the wharfs, and were put into the ships in such a condition that it was practically impossible for them to arrive in the English ports in a good condition. These are facts which have come out as a result of the investigations we have carried on, and they are of the utmost importance to our producers and shippers in this country, and will tend to improve the facilities for putting our fruit products into the foreign markets in a good condition.

There was another equally important result from this investigation. It is a well known fact that a great many of our apples were bruised and hurt when the barrels were opened on the other side. Various explanations were given, but one evident cause was the rough handling of the fruit in transit, in putting it in to ships and taking it out. One of the chief duties of our officers, both in Montreal and in England, has been to watch the handling of our products in transferring them from the railways to the ships on this side, and from the ships to the warehouses on the other side. We found a very deplorable condition of affairs. As a rule our products were handled very roughly. Many of our barrels were hurt and the fruit consequently was damaged. Our cheese boxes were damaged to such an extent that in many cases a large percentage of them was scarcely able to contain the cheese, and in some instances the cheese was hurt. This has always been one of the complaints against Canadian cheese in the English market, that it was not properly and nicely boxed. The same complaint was made of our butter tubs, that they were not properly and strongly made and covered, My officers in the course of their investigations found that this evil was very glaring and demanded a remedy, In many instances it has been remedied freely by the ship-owners and by the stevedores when their attention was drawn to the fact. My officers made reasonable explanations to them, and as a general rule, the ship-owners have applied a remedy, without any attempted coercion and without need of subsidizing or paying them for it; and consequently, during this last season, there has been a marked improvement in the handling of all our fruit products. I may mention as an instance that formerly our cheese boxes used to be bundled up into a net and hoisted by a crane and swung over into the holds of the ships. Perhaps a dozen or fifteen boxes were put into the net promisciously and were let down into the hold, knocking against the sides of the hold and against the beams of the ship. To remedy this a simple contrivance was prepared by which, instead of the boxes being let down in a net, the boxes were carefully piled upon a ! platform five or six feet square, and were j

let down in that manner, with the result that during the last season they were transported in far better condition. This improvement was brought about by a simple suggestion of my officers and carried out by the stevedores without the slightest objection. Other improvements have also been suggested by my officers and adopted by the shippers. We have succeeded in inducing them to use a bag of hay or something of the kind laid at the bottom of the chutes down which the butter boxes are slid, with the result that, instead of the boxes striking the bottom with such force as to split or break them, they fall on something soft and are thus preserved intact. These improvements have been brought about at no expense at all to the trade, and very little to the company. I will not say anything now regarding the ventilation of the holds, because I hope in the supplementary estimates to ask for a further vote for that purpose. I expect to make an arrangement with the shippers by which an enormous improvement will be made in the carriage of our cheese and apples in the ordinary holds of vessels, outside of the cold storage chambers.

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CON

George Oscar Alcorn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ALCORN.

I understood the hon. gentleman to say that certain agents were appointed for the purpose of inspecting the apples for shipment. I would like to know what was the result of the inspection. I would also ask the hon. minister if he intends to publish the information that he has gathered.

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April 15, 1901