Permission was given to the American gov-enment, I believe, some 25 years ago to dredge in Canadian waters. That permission has been continued ever since. Not only have they been allowed to dredge in our waters, but they have been allowed to place lights and other aids to navigation. Whether this is a right or wrong policy is a matter for the House to decide, but 25 years ago, and perhaps more, permission was given to the American government to do these things. So far no trouble has taken place and I hope we will not have to regret it later on.
I do not understand that we are in our own waters when we are in the channel alongside Hay Island. I understand the channel is in American waters. I would like to ask the hon. minister whether I am rightly informed. There is no use in talking about having an independent Canadian waterway from the head of Lake Superior to the St. Lawrence if, at a critical point after leaving Lake Superior, we are beholden to the good offices of the American government to enable us to get from tlie Soo Canal to Lake Huron. Have we a channel 15 or 16 feet in depth from the Soo Canal to Lake Huron ?
I cannot say.
I understand that we are dependent on the American government to enable vessels drawing more than 15 feet of water to get down to Lake Huron.
The Department of Public Works has not done any work of that kind on the lakes. I am not prepared to answer the question my hon. friend has asked. The Department of Railways and Canals is dredging in the lakes. Because there were canals at both ends of the lakes, the Department of Railways and Canals has always gone on dredging the lakes. Last year or the year before that, we undertake a survey between Kingston and Prescott in view of ascertaining whether we could not have a Canadian channel of our own, in the way that my hon. friend is pointing out. The survey will be completed in a month and then we will be in a position to know in an accurate way, in what position we are ? Again I say that the Public Works Department have done no work in the past in these lakes.
We are asired here for an appropriation for harbours and rivers for Ontario and I thought this was the place to endeavour to elicit information. It is surely reasonable to expect that before making this appropriation the hon. minister will be able to make a statement to the committee, whether it is a fact that we have not got any Canadian water channel that will enable Canadian vessels drawing 15 feet of water or over to get down from the Soo Canal to Lake Huron, and that we are dependent on the amity and good will of the American authorities to allow our Canadian vessels to go down. I do not know whether that is a fact or not, but I am asking for information.
I believe that we have not such a channel now. Some parts of the channel were in Canadian waters but these parts have been dredged by the Americans. That does not make our waters American. We have simply allowed them to dredge in Canadian waters.
But this is American water as I understand.
. The MINISTER OP PUBLIC WORKS. I do not think so. I will be in a position in a day or two to give a definite answer as to that.
I submit that this is a matter of sufficient importance to be taken into consideration when we are discussing what is called the national transportation scheme. We have been flattering ourselves that we were independent of our American friends; that we had a perfect water transportation system from the head of Lake Superior to the St. Lawrence, a system of inland navigation that had not a peer anywhere else in the world. We have been speaking about the desirability of keeping pace with the times by getting freight vessels of a capacity of 250,000 bushels, to enable us to bring in Canadian bottoms to Canadian ports on the Georgian Bay, the
steadily increasing products of the Northwest that are available for export. Surely, if we have a comprehensive grasp of this transportation question it is of some importance that we should not be barred at any time, or under any circumstance from the right to navigate the St. Mary river and that we should have in Canadian waters absolutely, a channel of sufficient depth to enable these large freighters (which are the only profitable vessels on the upper lakes) to get from Sault Ste. Marie to Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay ports. I must confess that I shall be very much surprised to find out that the information that I obtained last fall is correct, but it is a matter of sufficient importance to justify me in taking up the time of the committee to make inquiry from the minister. If he is not advised at the present time, I hope he will make inquiries and take the House into his confidence in the near future. It is a matter we ought to know all about.
I do not believe that I am wrong in saying that we have a complete channel. I made a mistake in saying that some part of the channel was in American waters. I know that at Kingston
I am not speaking of Kingston; I am speaking of the other end of the St. Mary river.
The MINISTER OB' PUBLIC WORKS: I have no doubt that at the other end the channel is in Canadian waters, but the Americans have been allowed to dredge it. However, the next time I come before the House I will have the whole information on that point.
I may say to the minister that American despatch boats manned by American sailors are to be found along the route of that new channel, with the object of compelling vessels to observe regulations made by the United States authorities as to the maximum rate of speed at which vessels are allowed to travel through this channel.
I would like to know exactly to what point the hon. gentleman refers ?
The point I allude to is, that I am advised it is an American channel in American waters.
In the St. Mary river; the river that connects Lake Superior with Lake Huron; twelve or fifteen miles east of Sault Ste. Marie. I have been told that this channel is in American waters absolutely, and that our vessels of large draught which take iron ore from Michipicoten, and the vessels that go to Port Arthur, Fort William, and Duluth, to bring down grain, are
compelled to use the American channel east of Sault Ste. Marie, because there is not sufficient depth of water in the Canadian channel. I wish for information on that point.
Mr. SUTHERLAND (Essex).
The hon. member for Toronto (Mr. Clarke) need not be more surprised that Canadians use the American channel in the St. Mary river, than that in the Detroit river the Americans are using the Canadian channel and are spending thousands of dollars each year in deepening that channel. It is not more surprising that we should be using their channel than that they should be using our channel in the Detroit river.
That does not help the situation any. We all thought that we had a sufficient Canadian channel of our own.
I will bring down the information.
Mr. SMITH (Wentworth).
I wish to call the attention of the minister to the fact that in going up the Sault channel on the Canadian Pacific Railway boat, the passengers can only be landed on the American side. I was humiliated last summer to find that to get to the Canadian Sault I had to go on the American side and take a ferry boat across the river. On making inquiries as to the reason, I found there was no pier with deep enough water on the Canadian side, and consequently that all Canadians who go to the Canadian Soo by boat must be landed on the American side.