February 28, 1905

L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

Would the hon. gentleman be good enough to tell us whose frank was used ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABUSE OF FRANKING PRIVILEGES.
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LIB

Adam Zimmerman

Liberal

Mr. ZIMMERMAN.

I have not the envelopes in my possession at the present time, I have sent them to the Postmaster General.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

Does the hon. member know whose frank it is ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABUSE OF FRANKING PRIVILEGES.
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LIB

Adam Zimmerman

Liberal

Mr. ZIMMERMAN.

It is the Dental Supply Company's circular and price-list.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

How can the member make the statement that the gentleman whose frank was used had no interest in the business if he does not know who he is ?

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LIB

Adam Zimmerman

Liberal

Mr. ZIMMERMAN.

I made some inquiries, and my impression was that the member was not in the business.

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LIB

John Costigan

Liberal

Hon. JOHN COSTIGAN (Victoria, N.B.).

While this matter is up, I would like to say a few words on it because my attention has been drawn to it before and I have discussed it with a number of members. There is another feature about the franking privilege which has not been touched on. In former years it was a greater convenience

to members than it is to-day for we used to be able to frank our letters with our initials or our stamp and we could mail them from our hotels or private residences at the nearest post office box in the city, which was a great privilege. An abuse grew up and the attention of the House was called to the fact that the initials were easily imitated, and this led to such an abuse that the Postmaster General of the day very properly put a stop to that system and ordered that our frank should be good only in the post office in the House of Commons. It is a great inconvenience not to be able to post letters at post boxes through the city and to have to bring them here to the House of Commons. Those who discussed the question know that there is good reason for res-tr'eting the privilege to the House of Commons post office, but we suggest to the Postmaster General that he might extend that privilege so that any member who chose to frank a letter by writing his full name on it could post it in any part of the city. There would be little danger of the full name being imitated, while there was evidence that initials were being frequently copied. Members have received several letters from the post office with apparently their initials, although they had never seen the letters. The Postmaster General has said that he would accept a suggestion in favour of doing away with the stamp and requiring the use of initials. That is all right, but I ask him to take into consideration the suggestion that such members as choose to frank their letters with their full names should be allowed to post them at any post box in the city.

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CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

Mr. Speaker, I simply desire to ask the hon. gentleman who made the statement a few moments ago (Mr. Finlay) with reference to literature that went into his riding, whether the literature was franked during the last session of parliament or after the House prorogued. W e on this side got the idea that he was referring to literature sent out after the conclusion of the last session, whereas, I rather think the literature the hon. member refei'S to was sent out during the last session, quite correctly' under the regulations. I would like the hon. gentleman just to state the case.

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LIB
L-C
LIB

Motion agreed to, and House went into Committee of Supply. At six o'clock, committee took recess. After Recess. Committee resumed at eight o'clock. Archives, $20,000.


LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Hon. SYDNEY FISHER (Minister of Agriculture).

The increase in this vote over Mr. COSTIGAN.

that of last yrear is due to the very large expansion of the work in connection with this branch of the department. About a year ago an archivist was appointed and new duties were allotted to him. A report was made to Council which authorized the transfer of various documents in other departments to the archivist's branch and the archivist was given the custody of these records. A building is needed to house these documents ; that building is now under contract and the contract requires it to be finished on the 1st of next October. We will then transfer the documents from all the departments, classify them, catalogue them and place them in such form that they will be available to the public for reference. This will involve more work in that branch. In addition, I had the new archivist inquire into the condition of affairs in the archives branch and make a careful examination. There was no catalogue of the papers which are called the Archives of Canada and this made it very inconvenient for students of our history. The work of cataloguing is advanced to a considerable extent and will be pressed to completion. In connection with the copying in Paris of documents which bear on the early history of our country, I may say that for years we had two gentlemen there, Mr. Marmette and Mr. Richard, who had chosen out documents which referred particularly to the French regime in Canada and these gentlemen reported that these documents ought to be copied and placed in our archives. A large number of such documents have been chosen, but a comparatively small proportion of them has been copied and sent out here. A certain expenditure has been made each year in this work.

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CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Mr. Tantet an officer of the French government in the Bibliotheque Frangaise has been in charge of the aetual copying work. It is considered that there is no necessity to spend further money on the selection of these documents until we have made more progress in copying those which have already been selected. Under Air. Tantet, expert coypists of the libraries in Paris are engaged in this work, which we wish to press forward more rapidly than in the past. In addition to the archives in Canada and to the records of the other departments under the control of the government, there are a very large number of important historical documents and papers scattered throughout private libraries, in some cases in the possession of private individuals, and in other cases in possession of various local historical societies. It would be impossible to get copies of these documents within any reasonable period of time, but the greater number of them are available to the public under certain restrictions, and it is proposed to publish a guide to these documents, indicating their existence, where they are to be

found and what their character is. The student of history will be able to refer to this guide which can be prepared at a comparatively small cost. One thousand dollars will be devoted to that purpose. Also, there are a large number of historical documents bearing on Canada, not only in Paris but in Great Britain as well as in Spain, Italy and other continental European countries. We wish to find out where these are, and what their nature is so as to be able from time to time to obtain copies. I think the House and the country will agree with me that this subject of the collection and preservation of our archives is one of great interest and importance, and that it is time we should take the necessary steps to secure a systematic and efficient administration of this branch of the department.

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CON

Alfred Augustus Stockton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STOCKTON.

I fully agree with what has been said by the minister as to the desirability of acquiring all historic documents and data that we can possibly get to be placed in our archives for the benefit of Canada. If, however, the minister would endeavour to get the original documents which are scattered throughout the country, instead of copies of them, it would be very much better, because it is always an object on the part of the original investigator or the historical writer to consult the original documents. I am glad to know that such progress has been made and is being made with respect to the documents in Paris. I would like to know what progress is being made with respect to the documents in the record office or in the foreign office in London. At the time of confederation all the public documents of the province of New Brunswick were taken to London, and consequently those who take an interest In historical studies have been at a great disadvantage as far as New Brunswick is concerned. I think the additional amount will be well expended if it is used in collecting historical data with respect to the Dominion of Canada. Every year that passes will make it more difficult to collect that data, and the more vigorous we are in attempting to collect it now, the better it will be for the archives department and for the future writers of the history of our country. *

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I am very glad to hear what my hon. friend has said, and I quite agree with the expressions he has used. 1 would like very much to get the original documents, and whenever we can we do so to the extent of our finances, but in very many instances the owners do not wish to part with oi'iginal documents, and then we have to take copies. This is the case almost entirely in Europe. For a number of years past we have been spending about $5,000 a year on the other side of the Atlantic, of which about $1,000 has been spent in Paris and about $4,000 in London. The great bulk of the copies we have received in our archives 1 58

library here have come from London, and not from Paris. Out of three thousand volumes which we have in our archives, only 229 have come from Paris. Each of these volumes contains a number of documents, so that the three thousand volumes would represent about half a million documents. I have been myself almost startled at the figures that have been given me of the number of documents we have in our archives. There are about half a million documents there besides the bound books. A little while ago we received from the Secretary of State's Department alone over a million documents to take charge of and look after; but we had not sufficient accommodation or facilities for dealing with them. That is one reason why it is so necessary that we should have a new fireproof building where these documents could be safely stored, classified, catalogued and made available. At the present time, in the various departments, the great majority of the documents are stored away in boxes in out of the way corners and rooms and are quite inaccessible, and in many instances there does not seem to be anybody who knows what these boxes contain. We shall have to take these documents and put them in a building where they will be safe, and then classify and catalogue them. This is a part of the work to be done as soon as the new building is ready.

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CON

Alfred Augustus Stockton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STOCKTON.

I had occasion three or four times to consult the archives in Ottawa and the arrangements seemed to me to be very good indeed. I was anxious, a few months ago, to get some documents respecting the early history of New Brunswick, and I went to the archives department and in a very short time got copies of just what I wanted. They had not the originals, but they had copies which had been obtained from the offices in London. Therefore, I think we ought to feel somewhat proud that we are getting along as well as we are respecting the archives of Canada.

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L-C

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

Has the minister enlarged the distribution of the report of the archives?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

The report is printed as a parliamentary blue book. It is parliament that decides the number to be printed.

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February 28, 1905