May 19, 1908

LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF.

I am glad you are not my brother-in-law. Now, Mr. Speaker, I

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   LAND COMPANY-TIMBER LEASES.
Permalink
CON

Edmund James Bristol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRISTOL.

Will the bon. gentleman (Mr. Turriff) allow me a question for information ? Do I understand that these lands were made available, or that Mr. Creelman claimed they should be available and proceeded to file a petition ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   LAND COMPANY-TIMBER LEASES.
Permalink
LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Air. TURRIFF.

want to make a further statement. The original land grant, as I have said, contained 2,822,235 acres, and since the date of the sale to the Saskatchewan Valley Land Company, there has been selected out of that original land grant over 2,000,000 acres, not by the Saskatchewan Valley Land Company, but by the Saskatchewan Land Company and the Canadian Northern Railway Company, and the subsidy grants in connection with the Qu'Appelle and Long Lake Railway ; so that in the original grant that they claimed was so very poor, and where they could not get the lands they required, in that grant alone there has been over 2,000,000 acres selected since that date. Now, Mr. Speaker, ns this statement has been made, not only in Halifax, but I understand in Toronto, and was published by the ' Mail and Empire,' I wanted to put the facts of the case before the House, and to state absolutely that the area was not increased but was reduced from 12,000,000 acres to 4,500,000 acres.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   LAND COMPANY-TIMBER LEASES.
Permalink
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. GEO. E. FOSTER (North Toronto).

I have heard the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat (Mr. Turriff), and if I mistake not other members on the other side of the House, complain' of a lack of courtesy when they thought that something was brought up on this side in which hon. gentlemen opposite were interested, without any due notice having been given. Now I would like to ask the hon. gentleman if, before making this attack on the member for St. Antoine, Montreal (Mr. Ames), an attack which he premeditated, which he prepared for, he in any way made an intimation to the member for St. Antoine that he was going to bring it up, and impugn his reputation for accuracy, and impugn also his veracity as a man. I took the precaution to ask my hon. friend from St. Antoine whether he had received any notice, and my understanding is that he had received none at all from the hon. member for East Assiniboia (Mr. Turriff). Very well. The hon. gentleman then -will not complain if he receives a Roland in return for his Oliver. At this moment it seems apropos to bring another case before this House, which I think will have a good deal of interest to the country at large, and considerable interest to the department in which this hon. gentleman who has just made this fiery attack and then subsided, was at one time a very prominent officer, and perhaps of some little interest to himself, who has been on more than one occasion fond of impugning the veracity of my hon. friend from St. Antoine, a member in good standing on this side of the House, and in good standing as a business man from one end of the country to the other.

Now I propose with your permission to make a short analysis of the case and to lay the facts before this House and the ^ Mr. TURRIFF.

country, and before the hon. member for East Assiniboia. There is a section of land known as section 29, township 1, range 6 west of the 2nd meridian, which at one time was school laud ; I believe it was also coal land. I believe at present that section 29 is being developed as a coal field, and promises to be a pretty rich development. The coal field is called at the present time, if I mistake not, the Roche-Perce coal field. Now this land has a history, a history with which the hon. member for East Assiniboia is to a certain extent connected, and I propose shortly to trace that history. As I have said, this was a school section, and belonged to the category of coal lands. It was applied for in the years 1900, 1901 and 1902 in the order named, by T. H. Gibnour, August, 15, 1900, .T. F. Howard, May 1, 1901, and S. J. Griffis, on March 25, 1902. When Gilmour applied he was told that the department was not anxious to sell the land, that it was in fact school land, and could only be sold by public auction, and that was not available for lease. So these three applicants in the order named received, I suppose, the same answer through and through. However, difficulties are made to be overcome ; and if that is not the proper way of putting it, departments are made for the purpose of overcoming and solving difficulties. So after a little consideration a way out was found, and an order in council was passed in June, 1902, opening this school section, and may be others in that vicinity, so that they could be leased as coal lands by the Department of the Interior. Now remember Gilmour one, Howard two, Griffis three, in the order of application, were all applicants before this was opened by the order in council for lease, and were all told that it could not be leased, as it was school land, and the department had to go according to a certain rule. It is on record that these people made no other application before the order in council opened it to lease, and the department had become, by that order in council, authorized to lease these school lands. In the end it turned out that Griffis, who was the last applicant, got the lease of the school lands on November 14, 1902 ; that is the last applicant became the final possessor of the lease of this section. Gilmour, the first applicant, does not seem to have been satisfied. Consequently through his solicitors, in the belief that he had not beeu fairly dealt with he brought legal training and service to his hand and on the 9th of May. 1903, certain solicitors sent in his behalf $96 as the rental for the six current months to the Department of the Interior and asked that it be credited to their client, the first applicant, Mr. Gilmour. This letter is replied to by Mr. Keyes who says that the lease has already been given to Mr. Griffis and that Mr. Griffis has paid the rent and the $96 is forthwith re-

turned to the solicitors of Mr. Gilmour. Mr. Gilmour is not satisfied yet and so he brings a suit in the Supreme Court in the Northwest Territories at Moosomin. An order was secured from the court dated the 25th of June, 1903, to one G. W. McLaren to examine J. G. Turriff who was, at the time of this transaction, commissioner of lands. On the 7th day of July, 1903, Mr. J. G. Turriff was duly examined under oatii and gave his testimony. I think X shall have to read that testimony so as to have it upon the records of the House. In the first place I have a declaration by Mr. J. D. McLeod, deputy local registrar of the town of Moosomin, in the province of Saskatchewan, deputy to the local registrar of the Supreme Court of Saskatchewan, for the judicial district of Moosomin, and he says:

I do hereby certify that the annexed is a true copy and correct copy of the examination of one J. G. Turriff held in connection with the action brought by Thos. H. Gilmour against Silas I. Griffis, which said action now remains of record in the said Supreme Court of Saskatchewan for the judicial district of Moosomin and which said examination was filed in the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories for the judicial district of eastern Assiniboia on the 12th day of June, A.D. 1903.

Given at the town of Moosomin, in the province of Saskatchewan, the 7th day of April, A.D. 1908.

(Sgd.) J. D. McLEOD, Deputy Local Registrar.

Here is the attached copy of the evidence, but before that comes we have a statement of Mr. McLaurin, the examiner :

In the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories, Judicial district of eastern Assiniboia, between Thomas H. Gilmour, plaintiff, and Silas I. Griffis, defendant.

I. whose name and seal is hereunto subscribed being the examined named in the order issued in this action dated the 25th dav of June, A.D. 1903, hereunto annexed, hereby certify as follows:

1. Before I in any manner acted in execution of said order I on the 7th day of July, 1903, duly administered to John G. Turriff named in said order the following oath, namely: ' You are true answers to make to all such questions as shall be asked you, without favour or affection to either party, and therein you shall speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God/

2. The deposition hereunto annexed is the deposition taken down before me of the said Turriff, examined, cross-examined and reexamined before _ me in my office according to ray appointment herein hereto annexed and under the said order; and the signatures subscribed to such depositions are respectively the signatures of said Turriff and of me, before whom such deposition was taken; and each of the documents annexed to such deposition and marked by my initials was produced by said Turriff at the time he gave the evidence in such deposition contained and thereat declared by him each to be respectively true and certified copies of the originals thereof now on file in the Department of the Interior of the Dominion of Canada, and in his custody as the Commissioner of Dominion Lands in the said department.

3. The said deposition truly states the evidence given by said Turriff before me as examiner under such order at said time and place. .

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 7th day of July, A.D. 1903.

(Sgd.) G. W. McLAURIN, Examiner.

(Seal.)

Here follows- the evidence given in this court by this witness :

In the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories, judicial district of eastern Assiniboia, between Thomas H. Gilmour, plaintiff, and Silas I. Griffis, defendant.

Pursuant to order made herein the 25th dav of June, 1903, John G. Turriff did appear before me on Tuesday the 7th day of July, 1903, to be examined herein.

Present-W. H. Curie for plaintiff, H. Millar for defendant, and the said John G. Turriff having been duly sworn said as follows:

I am the Commissioner of Dominion Lands in the Department of the Interior of the government of the Dominion of Canada and as such I have in my custody in such department all the papers and correspondence in connection with the lease of section 29, township 1, range 6, west of the second meridian, in the Northwest Territories, to Silas I. Griffis, dated the 11th day of November, 1902, from the said department. [DOT]

There was an application from Mr. Gilmour to purchase the land but he was told that it was not for sale. This is school land and can only be sold by. public auction to the highest bidder. The mode of disposing of these lands is fixed by the Dominion Lands Act. Subsequently it was decide'd that we might lease school lands for coal mining purposes ; regulations were framed governing the leasing of school lands and an application was then made by J. F. Howard either to purchase or lease and also bv a Mr. Griffis. Subsequently both Gilmour and Howard withdrew their applications on condition that the lease would issue to Mr. Griffis, and when that was done it left Mr. Griffis as the only applicant and the lease was granted to him in the ordinary course. Mr. Griffis paid six months rental and the lease was issued to him.

As commissioner, these matters are referred to me in the ordinary way, and I am speaking altogether from my knowledge of the letters on file in my office, certified copies of which I now produce.

I know the statement I have made is correct, because I have the correspondence on file now.

I produce certified copies of all correspondence from both Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Howard and Mr. Griffis as requested by counsel on both sides.

The papers marked exhibit * A ' are certified copies of all the correspondence between J. F. Howard and the department in connection with these lands, and exhibit ' B' is certified copies of all correspondence between

S7(jo

the department and T. H. Gilmour, and exhibit ' C ' is certified copies of all correspondence with Mr. Griffis in connection with the same.

Exhibits ' A,' ' B ' and ' C ' constitute all the correspondence we have with Gilmour, Howard and Griffis in connection with these lands.

To Mr. Curie:

The department received the plaintiff's, Gilmour, application in August, 1900, John F. Howard's application in May, 1901, and the defendant, Griffis' application in March, 1902.

The department became authorized to lease school lands in the month of June, 1902.

Just above you will notice that the witness declared that the latter two made application after the order in council in 1902 had been issued authorizing the lease of school lands for coal mining purposes. There seems to be a little disparity in that. I imagine that the latter statement is the correct one. This would be a considerable time after the latest of the three applications :

The applications of these three persons were not renewed after the order in council was passed authorizing the lease of coal lands and the three original applications stood.

So that the witness of course has twice discussed his first proposition and he leans to the opinion in the last two utterances that these were not renewed after the order in council, so I imagine that is the proper statement of the ease.

The department recognizes the relative time of application,? in considering who shall be the successful applicant.

Q. Then which of these three applicants has the best right to the lease of these lands under the practice of the department?-A. Mr. Gilmour's application was first, Mr. Howard's was second and Mr. Griffis was third. If Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Howard had not withdrawn their applications Mr. Gilmour would have been given the first opportunity of leasing. If he had not carried it cut then Mr. Howard would have been given the next opportunity. The custom of the department in all cases is to deal with the applications in the order of priority.

Q. Then Gilmour's withdrawal was of material assistance with Griffis in enabling him to get the lease?-A. Yes.

That finishes the evidence. I have said that Griffis, the last applicant, got the lease in the end. At a certain time Griffis got busy ; he evidently wanted, if you can infer from the correspondence, to get that section of coal lands for himself and he wanted, if possible, to get rid of Gilmour and of Howard and I imagine pour parlers went on between them, Howard clinging to his right of priority and to have a portion if they made any arrangement amongst themselves and he does not seem to have got that portion. Some telegrams were produced by the witness at that time. He said he produced all the correspondence they had in the department. These letters Mr. FOSTEB

and telegrams were introduced. What are they ?

September 18, 1902.

Mark the date :

Winnipeg, Manitoba, September 18, 1902. The Minister of the Interior,

Ottawa, Ontario.

Sir,-Re coal mining rights on section 29, township 1, range 6, west second meridian.

On or about July 2, A.D. 1902, I made application for lease of and right to mine coal on legal subdivisions 5 to 12 inclusive in section 29, township 1, range 6, west second meridian.

I hereby withdraw said application and do hereby relinquish all claim to any mining or other rights in or on said land, provided a lease therefore is granted to Silas Griffis.

Yours truly,

(Sgd.) JOHN F. HOWARD.

That was on September IS, and by it he released absolutely and relinquished all claims on one condition, namely that this lease is issued to Mr. Griffis. But he does not seem to have lost interest after making the relinquishment, and on October 8 he telegraphs :

Winnipeg, Manitoba, October 9, 1902.

J. G. Turriff,

Department of the Interior, Ottawa, Ontario.

Kindly wire giving date when Griffis lease likely issue. Important.

(Sgd.) JOHN F. HOWARD.

Note that Mr. Howard has absolutely relinquished his right and all claims he has to these lands on condition that the lease goes to Griffis. A few days after having written that letter on 'September 18, he again becomes interested and he says :

Kindly wire giving date when Griffis' lease is likely to issue. Important.

(Sgd.) JOHN F. HOWARD.

Evidently the man must have some interest still in this property. We may exercise our own judgment as to what it was. Was it an interest arising out of an arrangement he had made with Griffis that the lease should issue in Griffis name but that he should receive consideration of some kind for relinquishing and assigning his rights.

On October 28, we have the following

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   LAND COMPANY-TIMBER LEASES.
Permalink
?

John F.

Howard,

Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Form of lease before Department of* Justice. Am hastening matter as much as possible.

(Sgd.) J. G. TURRIFF.

That is the correspondence so far as it was brought down and Mr. J. G. Turriff swore that he had brought down ' All the correspondence which we have with reference to this lease with regard to Griffis, Howard and Gilmour.' Well, Sir, it was not quite all.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   LAND COMPANY-TIMBER LEASES.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh, oh !

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   LAND COMPANY-TIMBER LEASES.
Permalink
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Howard got busy at Winnipeg with his letters to Turriff relinquishing his claim and his later telegram to Turriff urging him to hasten the issue of the lease to Griffis. On September 18, he started in to hurry and I have here a letter dated Ottawa, September 15,1902, reading as follows :

Dear Mr. Howard,-I duly received yours of the 2nd instant, addressed to Mr. Sifton, in reference to the coal mining rights on section 29, township 1, range 6, west second. The way the matter stands, Gilmour might be considered the most entitled, although after the orders in council providing for leasing were passed your application and his are on even dates.

There was only one application made by each applicant up to this date, but Mr. Turriff in writing to Mr. Howard says :

The way the matter stands, Gilmour might he considered the most entitled, although after the orders in council providing for leasing were passed your application and his are on even dates.

He continues :

It will, however, be. more satisfactory if Griffis can do as he says,-get an assignment or withdrawal from Gilmour-and we will issue lease to him for the whole section. I trust that you can get this arranged satisfactorily. If not, let me know and I will see if we cannot do it anyway, but I would much prefer to have Gilmour withdraw.

Yours truly,

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   LAND COMPANY-TIMBER LEASES.
Permalink

J. G. TURRIFF.


This is marked private. That was correspondence as much as any correspondence that ever went on with reference to those negotiations between the deputy commissioner and the gentlemen themselves. What right had he to mark that as private and after swearing that he produced all the correspondence with reference to this section of the land retain this amongst his own private correspondence. What right had the commissioner of lands in the Interior Department of this government at this city of Ottawa to interest himself as between Howard and Gilmour and the man Griffis. What right in the world ? None. He is the sworn officer of this government. He has to stand there as a judge in the case and issue in the final resort what is proper to be issued. He has no more right, Sir, than a judge upon the bench who is trying a case would have to write private letters to one of the litigants suggesting means and methods by which some of the litigants could be got out of the way to his pecuniary injury. ' On September 15, Mr. Howard takes a hand and gets in his own relinquishment quick, and as a matter of course. I believe Mr. Gilmour was acted upon and put in his relinquishment too. But, the interest of Turriff did not wane after the writing of 2771 the letter of September 15. He slept over night-two nights-and then he thought and sent this telegram : [DOT] Ottawa, Ontario, September 17, 1902. That is two days afterwards.


?

John F.

Howard,

Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Do not act on my letter of fifteenth. Writing you to-day.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   J. G. TURRIFF.
Permalink

J. G. TURRIFF.


Well, he wrote on that same day, September 17. Here is the astounding letter that was written by an officer of this department, the Commissioner of Lands, who had all these lands under his particular care as lease issuer. Private. Ottawa, September, 17, 1908. My dear Howard,-I just wired you to-day not to act on my letter of the 15th until you saw Griffis. I have just seen a friend of his here who tells me that possibly Gilmour will hold you up for one-quarter or one-third interest in the business, and I do not want to put you in that position, and unless Griffis can get Gilmour's withdrawal for a very trifling amount it would be better not to go near him at all, and we will issue the lease to Griffis. Yours sincerely,


J. G. TURRIFF.

?

John F.

Howard, Esq.,

Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   J. G. TURRIFF.
Permalink
CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Crooked as usual.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   J. G. TURRIFF.
Permalink
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Those are letters written by J. G. Turriff, Commissioner of Crown Lands, to the contestants before him, Gilmour having the prior right, Howard the . second and Griffis the last by his own sworn testimony. Gilmour having the prior right to be considered first, Turriff interfered by private letters and telegrams in the interest of the last applicant, Mr. Griffis, in order to save him paying a fair value to Gilmour for the prior right and telling him in the end: Don't let yourself be held up. I will see you are not held up and unless you can get rid of him for a mere trifle I will issue the lease-and it was issued. No comment is needful after that, I leave it with the House and with parliament and with the country.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   J. G. TURRIFF.
Permalink
LIB
LIB

Robert Franklin Sutherland (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

Of course the only motion before the House is the one to go into Supply and the hon. member cannot speak unless with the consent of the House.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   J. G. TURRIFF.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Let him speak.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   J. G. TURRIFF.
Permalink
LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF.

With reference to the hon. gentleman's first remarks as to the bringing up of a matter of privilege In connection with reflections made on myself by the hon. member for St. Antoine division (Mr. Ames) I certainly was not aware that in matters of that kiud it was customary to give any notice, one way or an-

other. I notice that the hon. member for St. Antoine (Mr. Ames) does not give me any notice when he goes around the country traducing me. However, the facts of the matter which the hon. member for North Toronto has brought up are exactly as he has stated.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SASKATCHEWAN VALLEY
Subtopic:   J. G. TURRIFF.
Permalink

May 19, 1908