May 13, 1901

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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

I do not know any man who is better fitted than Captain Bernier for that expedition. He has a long experience. He was born in a cold country, and he has been a navigator all his life. He is one of the best built men I ever met. I happen to know a good deal about him. He was one of my employees for some time. He is a man who, I think, can live fifteen days without sleeping, and yet remain as fresh as we are here to-night. He is well educated, and he has travelled all over the world. He is a

strong man, physically an>d mentally. I think his plans are good. I happened once to have him on hoard one of the government boats with a couple of my colleagues, one of whom was the Minister of Finance ; and he gave us a private conference on his X>roposed North Pole expedition, which was so interesting that I shall remember it all my life. He is not a public speaker ; he does not appear to advantage before a large public audience ; but, in a room with half a dozen men, let him explain his venture, and he will convince any half dozen capable men that if there is any man living who can discover the pole, he is that man. Well, what is going to be gained financially by that discovery ? I am not quite prepared to say. But, it will be a great advertisement. Highly civilized countries encourage men who are prepared to go on such ventures. Speaking not as a minister, but as a member of parliament, I would be very glad indeed if the government could see their way to help him. Parliament seems to be well disposed, and the nation seems to be well disposed, towards his enterprise. Nansen is an able man, but I do not think he is as well qualified as Captain Bernier for such an expedition. He had not the same experience nor the same physical strength. Moreover, Captain Bernier has the benefit of the experience of those who have attempted to reach the pole. I am

very glad indeed that both sides of the House seem to agree that Captain Bernier should be encouraged. I think it would be an easy thing to get private subscriptions to a very large amount. I think $50,000 will be raised in a short time in Montreal.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

It should be a national undertaking. The government of the country should undertake it.

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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

Of course, I am not prepared to speak as to that. The right hon. gentleman who leads the government and the House is here. It is for the House to express its views, and if there is a strong opinion on both sides, no doubt the government would be largely influenced by it. I may state, from all the conversation I have had with hon. members on both sides, that the opinion is practically unanimous that if the government should see its way clear to make a grant towards this expedition, it would reflect the public opinion of the country.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

I have had many conversations with Captain Bernier, and have learned from them that he is a man of very considerable experience, that he comes* from a seafaring stock, that he has been a seafaring man all his life, and that he has thoroughly studied the experiences of Nansen and others who have engaged in arctic explorations ; and every Canadian would be proud if, under the auspices of this government, a Canadian could do what no one

has yet been able to accomplish, namely, fix the location of the north pole. I have no doubt that physically and in every other way Captain Bernier is eminently well qualified to take command of such an expedition, and would do as much as any man ever did to accomplish the result aimed at. Speaking for myself and many other members on this side, we would have much pleasure in supporting a vote to fit out a vessel to enable Captain Bernier to enter on that perilous undertaking.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The accomplishment of the object of this proposed expedition would have a very important bearing on our interests. In the impression of many, the discovery of the north pole would enable us much more easily to determine what is our own in making a dividing line between our territory and that of Russia and the United States, leaving aside altogether the great advertisement which it would give this country. I do not think that the government should give a very large grant; but according to the newspapers, jtiaptain Bernier has. been very successful up to the present in getting private subscriptions, and the hope is entertained that he will succeed in getting all that is needed, through these subscriptions, except the supply of a vessel. If a vessel could be supplied for $00,000, that does not appear a very large sum, and I think we might go that far, if he were able to secure all the additional support he requires.

Amount required for repairs to marine hospitals and the building of an hospital at Louis-burg. N.S., $12,000.

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LIB

Thomas Barnard Flint

Liberal

Mr. FLINT.

I would like to call the attention of the hon. Minister of Marine to a subject concerning which I have several times communicated with the department, and that is the advisability of a more careful inspection of the various marine hospitals of the Dominion.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

If the hon. gentleman will allow me, the hon. minister gave us no information regarding the construction and equipment of the observatory on Silver Mountain.

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LIB

Thomas Barnard Flint

Liberal

Mr. FLINT.

These hospitals should be kept up to the best standard, and, as far as I am aware, they are fairly well conducted. But the necessity of something like regular inspection has often impressed itself on my mind. I believe that inspecting could be done at a very trivial expense, because the department has officers who travel around the country inspecting lighthouses and other public works and whose services might be utilized in inspecting these hospitals. A couple of hundred dollars each year would pay the extra expense entailed.

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

I think the suggestion a

very good one, but I do not think it necessary to ask for a special vote. The fund is a trust fund which, although voted by parliament, does not come out of the general revenue at all. It is administered by the accountant in my department on very strict rules. There seems to be almost a conspiracy on the part of many medical men to exact enormous fees from this trust fund which belongs to the sailors, and we have some difficulty in getting their fees kept down to a proper figure. There has been a change in the policy during the last ten or twenty years. Formerly the department used to build marine hospitals at the seaports, and we had our own staff there, but this was found very expensive, and we have adopted the plan of utilizing the many excellent hospitals which have been buiit in most of the cities and towns of the Dominion. In Montreal, we are under contract with the larger hospitals for so much for seaman per day. and the seamen get in these institutions the most scientific treatment at much less cost than if we had them in hospitals of our own.

But there are places where they have not facilities and where we have to provide hospitals. We have one at Pictou. As a result of an inspection made a short time ago, we find some repairs and improvements necessary. We propose also the construction of a cottage marine hospital at Louisburg, the shipping of which port has largely increased within the last few years. Hitherto, we have farmed the men out, as it were, in private houses. But there are no houses where the men can get proper hospital treatment, and to take a sick man and ship him to Sydney for treatment in the hospital may expose him to dangers on the trip. Considering the circumstances, we have decided to build a new cottage hospital at Louisburg, estimated to cost about $5,000. The hospital at Sydney, owing to the enormous increase of shipping there, needs a new wing, and besides we want to improve and modernize the appliances there. This will cost about $5,000. Thus there will be $5,000 for the new hospital at Louisburg, $5,000 for new wing and modern appliances at Sydney and about $2,000 for improvements at Pictou.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPKOULE.

In lake ports we have several hospitals that are called marine hospitals. Do they get any assistance as marine hospitals ?

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

No. All the shipping in the

maritime ports pays a tax for the marine hospital fund and this is kept apart as a trust fund. But the shipping on the lakes is not subject to any such tax and there is no assistance given to these hospitals of which the bon. gentleman speaks.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROTJLE.

The hon. minister has not told us about the observatory.

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LIB
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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

Mr. Stupart, the meteorological director, has been for some years advising the department to construct an observatory on one of the mountain peaks near Banff. So far, I have not been able to get the vote, but this year I have been successful. The observer has visited the peaks, and he has reported to Mr. Stupart, who has decided that Sulphur Mountain, while not the highest, is the most practical point for the work. It will cost about $1,000 to put up a building, which will be of stone, that being more suitable for the work than wood. About $1,000 will be spent in scientific instruments. But the most expensive item will be at least $2,000 for a cable containing the wires that electrically connect the instruments at the top of the mountain with the recording instruments at the base. The building will be constructed under the supervision of the Banff park superintendent.

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CON
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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

Yes.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The government does not intend to put up a telescope ?

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

No, not there. Curiously enough the astronomical observations are under the supervision of the Minister of the Interior. Mr. King, chief astronomer and his staff are in the Interior Department. I believe, although I am not sure, that it is contemplated by the minister to ask a vote for an astronomical observatory with proper instruments.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I think it would be important to have a telescope there because of the elevation and because

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

I do not wish to be understood as saying that the intention is to have the observatory there, I am not sure, but I think it is in the city of Ottawa. However, I would rather that my hon. friend would ask the Minister of the Interior, who, I know, has been giving the matter a great deal of consideration during the last twelve months. They have a fine observatory in Washington with a magnificent telescope, and are doing good work. For my part I would rather see a modern telescope in this the capital city of the Dominion.

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May 13, 1901