March 21, 1905

LIB

Joseph Raymond Fournier Préfontaine (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

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.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

Has the minister laid on the table the report of Captain Salmon, which was asked for some days ago ?

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LIB

Joseph Raymond Fournier Préfontaine (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. PREFONTAINE.

It was considered perfectly worthless.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

It seems to me rather a strange attitude for the minister to assume to read a statement criticising a gentleman's conduct as an employee of his department, and at the same time refuse to lay upon the table the report that gentleman sent in to the department when it was asked for from this side of the House.

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LIB

Joseph Raymond Fournier Préfontaine (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. PREFONTAINE.

I have no objection whatever, I will produce the report at eight o'clock this evening.

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CON

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. AMES.

Then it would be permissible to continue the discussion of this Lurcher lightship after the report has come in ?

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LIB
CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

I am glad the minister has stated now what the power of the lights is. When it is considered that one of the [DOT]smallest lights used in an ordinary room is of sixteen candle power, and that at a distance of nearly a mile from the water edge the minister's officers think that a lamp of only four times that power is sufficient to guide ships entering the harbour, of Midland, all I can say is that I have my opinion of the minister's officers. However, as the minister says that this official, who has such an extraordinary knowledge of the requirements of the trade of the lake, thinks it is sufficient to have a light four times the strength of an ordinary room lamp, up on a hill nearly a mile from the water's edge, I sympathize with the minister in having such an official.

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LIB

Joseph Raymond Fournier Préfontaine (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. PREFONTAINE.

The information I have from the officer is that the reflector doubles the lighting power of the lamp so that each lamp would be over one hundred candle power.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

I would remind the minister that if you go into any ordinary village or small town he will find that the lights on the street are from 1,000 to 2,000 candle power. The minister's official seems to have more knowledge, apparently, than the minister has, because the minister bows to him. But I think when the minister talks it over

with him he will come to the conclusion that he had better change his opinion. After Colonel Anderson, if it is he who was responsible, had sent to Midland the two lamps, there was political influence enough to cause the then minister to send back those lights, and to substitute these electric lights. I am sorry the present minister was not in the department then, because I do not think he would have allowed that to be done. The minister is not to blame for these lamps at Midland except for their continuance, for these lamps were there when he came into office. Now I appeal to him whether when he considers that these lights are only four times the strength of an ordinary light placed in a small private room, he still thinks, with his official, that they are powerful enough when placed nearly a mile from the water's edge, to light vessels coming into the bay. I tell the minister again that last fall a vessel coming in at night mistook some of the other lights, and as a result was piled up on the shoals in the middle of the bay, and during the night or towards morning she took fire.

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LIB

Joseph Raymond Fournier Préfontaine (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. PREFONTAINE.

I am not responsible, as the hon. gentleman says, for the installation of these lamps, but from the information that I gather from my officers, I would have done the same thing because two or three lamps of that kind have been installed in the port of Montreal to my knowledge.

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CON
LIB

Joseph Raymond Fournier Préfontaine (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. PREFONTAINE.

Seventy-five candle-power, red lights, so as to distinguish them from others and with reflectors. They are perfectly satisfactory, and we have had no complaint from anybody. On the contrary we have been complimented because there were no lights of this kind before and the mariners were exposed to be misled by the similarity of lights. It is the same in the case of Midland.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

How far would those lights be from where the vessel would be approaching ?

Mr. ^PREFONTAINE. |I would think about a mile and a half.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

When the vessels come around the point they are five miles away from the lights and they are approaching the shoals when they are three and a half miles away.

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LIB

Joseph Raymond Fournier Préfontaine (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. PREFONTAINE.

I say about a mile and a half, because the channel to the harbour at Montreal at the foot of the current is not straight so that the light could not be seen until you turn the corner. The corner would be about a mile and a half away. I know as a matter of fact that in Quebec there are red lights of this kind, that are seen at a distance of 5 miles, from the Island of Orleans, and

there is no trouble whatever. I know this personally as I have been on board steamers coming up to Quebec and I have seen how satisfactory these lights are. There is no confusion with the others, because there is only the one pair of red lights.

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CON

Alfred Alexander Lefurgey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LEFURGEY.

Have there been any complaints with regard to these lights from the shippers ?

Mr. PRBgONT4INE. No.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

Has the harbour master at Midland reported that any vessels have gone on that shoal ?

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LIB
CON

March 21, 1905