Hon. RAYMOND PREFONTAIXE (Minister of Marine and Fisheries).
There are some points on which the committee at its last sitting required information. I have
that information now. The first point was as to the Lurcher lightship :-
This lightship was built at the Poison Iron Works, Toronto, under contract, for the work on the Lurcher Shoal, about 16 miles WSW. of Yarmouth, N.S. It was absolutely necessary that this vessel should be on her station during the winter of 1903, and to enable her to do this she had to leave Toronto before the work was quite completed. She had a very hard time indeed in getting through the ice, &c., of the canals as far as Quebec; in fact, had it not been for the work of Mr. B. H. Fraser, assistant chief engineer of the department, she could not have got through even as far as Quebec.
The captain, officers and crew were sent up from Yarmouth to meet her in Quebec, and after provisioning she left that place at six o'clock in the morning of the eighth of December, being the very last ship to leave the port of Quebec that year.
Mr. Douglas Stevens, government steamboat inspector, and one of the most well known, trusted and efficient in Canada, under whose superintendence this vessel was built, left her in Quebec, with captain Koenig, of the D. G. S. ' Druid ', who took charge of her on her way down. The lightship encountered very heavy gales of wind and steamed through 280 miles of packed ice before arriving at Summerside, Prince Edward Island. Naturally, encountering this ice knocked her out very considerably, and on arriving at Halifax, here she proceeded after provisioning and coaling at Summerside, a certain amount of repairs had to be done. These repairs were done under the superintendence of Mr. Douglas Stevens, and Mr. Salmon, who at that time was not busily engaged in the department, was sent down to correct her compasses and to see her moored on her station. After the repairs had been finished as speedily as posible in Halifax, the lightship left that port for her station and Mr. Salmon, for personal reasons, did not go and moor her in her proper position, but returned to Ottawa. She was placed on her station by the departmental officers in Halifax, in what they considered the best possible way, taking into consideration that the shipping interests had been informed that the lightship should be in her position on a certain date, and the shortness of time at their disposal.
In reference to mooring the ' Lurcher ' on this occasion, it must be borne in mind that this is the first proper lightship the government have ever had. That her station is probably the most exposed point on the whole American continent, being ; exposed to thd entire sweep of the Atlantic, and the tides and rips of the Bay of Fundy. United States lightships in various places are continually breaking away from their moorings, and the same thing occurs on the English coast. On this occasion the * Lurcher' after being on her station a short time, broke away and had to steam into Yarmouth harbour. Mr. Salmon was again sent down from Ottawa to Yarmouth to have this lightship properly moored, but instead of going out on the vessel and mooring her in her proper position, he remained in Yarmouth a few days, and for private and personal reasons again returned to Montreal, without seeing the vessel properly moored. He then proceeded to write a most scathing and unwarranted, memorandum on the vrork performed by Inspector Douglas Stevens. This Mr. PREFONTAINE.
report was so absolutely incorrect and so ridiculous, that the department took no notice of it; it simply showed Mr. Salmon's entire ignorance of the matter.
The Lurcher lightship, as well as the Anticosti lightship, are acknowledged by experts everywhere to be two of the best vessels of their class ever built, and it was simply owing to Mr. Salmon not carrying out his instructions when sent down on two occasions, but returning for private reasons of his own, without seeing the vessel properly moored, that she broke adrift.
Since that time the Lurcher lias been moored under the direction of Commander Spain, and a plan of the manner in which she is moored is attached. She has withstood this season the heaviest gales that have been experienced on the Nova Scotia coast for the last thirty years, and is still moored in her place, and on Commander Spain visiting her some three weeks ago, she was in her proper position and not likely to break adrift again.
This is only another case of insubordination on the part of Mr. Salmon in not carrying out his instructions, and after being unfortunate enough to be connected officially with the man for some time, I quite agree with the opinion of a very well known master mariner, who having had dealings with Mr. Salmon and speaking of him as a seaman, referred to him as a combination of ignorance, arrogance and pomposity, with ignorance predominating.
Commander Spain shows how she is moored now, and how she has remained in her place without moving any way from that time.