Probably the minister is aware of the statements made in the Edmonton newspapers and some of the American newspapers, to the effect that the commendable purpose for which the company was organized in the first place, viz.: to locate expatriated Canadians on these lands is not being carried out; and that apparently the company is permitting an American real estate company to exploit their concession. That company is said to be the Kent Realty Company-Mr. Kent being connected with the original company-and last year it took up a party to this concession who underwent great hardships in getting there. When the party found themselves on the concession, they were told that the reason they were brought out was in order that they might condemn the particular sixteen sections as unfit for settlement, in order that they might be exchanged by the company for better sections. If this company is not really fulfilling the purpose for -which it secured the concession, but is farming it out to an American syndicate operating for purely speculative purposes, the government should take that into consideration. The minister will see why I asked my question in the first place. It was this : what information is in the department as to the agricultural character of these sixteen sections ? If these are good lands, naturally the government will say these are the sections you
are entitled to and no others. If they are absolutely unfit for settlement the question will be whether the government will allow the company to exchange them for other '.sections. In settling [DOT] these questions it seems to me that the government will have to know something abc at the character of that country. Apart from that, the government should see that the bona fides of the company is lived up to. I would like to know whether the articles in these papers have been taken notice of by the government, and if so what the government intend to do with reference to this transaction.
In regard to the question of the character of the land, I have to hold to the first position, that it has nothing to do with the case. The company may have conceived a desire to exchange these particular sixteen townships for some other sixteen townships, but the government has nothing to do with that. It is no part of the agreement between the company and the government that under certain conditions as to the quality of these townships, the company would be entitled to exchange them for some other townships. The company are entitled to these townships, not to any others. They are entitled to them on certain conditions. If they fulfil the conditions, they get the land. If they do not fulfil the conditions, to put it in the most favourable light, it is at our discretion whether they get the land or not. As the question is now at issue between the government and the company, I think it would hardly be advisable on my part to state in detail to the House the attitude and the intention of the government. I think it would be better to leave the elaboration of these particulars till after the matter has reached a conclusion. As I have already stated, our attitude is that the company have not fulfilled their agreement. It may be that they will be able to show that they have made a reasonable attempt to fulfil it, and are entitled to some consideration or leniency on that account. That is a matter to be considered. I can hardly be called upon to say what conclusion we may reach upon evidence which has not yet been furnished to us.
The government, as I understand from a return which was brought down a few days ago, on January 4, 1908, notified the president of the company that' they would be given thirty days in 'which to produce satisfactory evidence of their intention to carry out the agreement. That thirty days expired long ago, and seems to have been extended from time to time. Perhaps the minister will tell us how long he intends to extend the time, and when he expects to come to a definite conclusion in regard to this matter.
people have gone to a considerable amount of expense in an attempt at any rate to virtually live up to the conditions of their agreement. I do not know that it is sound administrative policy to ignore that fact when the question is one of the settlement of the country, especially a remote part of it such as that-to consider only the fulfilment of the letter of the agreement if there has been a reasonable attempt to fulfil it. It is, as I have said, a matter for consideration as to what discretion the government will exercise. That is, I think, as far as I can go in the matter. We have not pressed these people unduly. We may have been, in the estimate of my hon. friend, perhaps more lenient than we should have been in bringing the matter to an issue. While I am desirous of seeing that the agreement shall be fulfilled, I am also desirous that people who have made considerable expenditure, as these people have, and have had considerable expectations of benefit to themselves as we have had of benefit to the country, should not be unduly or harshly closed out. However, I can assure my hon. friend that the matter will be brought to an issue,-and that the rights of the government will be maintained.
The point I particularly wish to bring to the attention of the minister is this, that the order in council of July 27, 1901, bears upon its face the evidence as to what was the motive which actuated the granting of this concession. The motive was to induce certain classes of people who had moved out of Canada to come into Canada again, and also to induce certain people who apparently had the intention of moving a way from Canada to come up into that country instead. As this company apparently originated in the province of Quebec, I think there is little doubt that it was the original intention of the promoters to endeavour to induce some people from our province to go into the Peace River section. As far as that was the object, every member of this House will agree that it was a creditable and desirable object; but it would seem as though these people were not living up to that intention, but were farming out their concession-to the Kent RealtJ Company who, as the hon. gentleman knows, were largely interested in selling Davidson and McRae's land in the centrat part of Saskatchewan, and the lands of the Canadian Northern Railway
for the purpose of colonization of an entirely different character and class, which seems to me alters to some extent the attitude of the government towards this company. I would like to ask the minister in taking this matter into consideration, to endeavour to impress on the original concessionaires that the original intention should be carried out as far as possible.
They get the land for a dollar an acre on condition that they put in fifty settlers prior to October 1, 1907, and within five years one hundred more settlers. Then they can buy a certain portion at a dollar an acre, and ultimately a considerable tract at that price. They can begin by buying one-third of the total area, one-third five years later, and the remainder within ten years at six per cent. I think they can eventually acquire the whole sixteen townships by bringing in the settlers as they agreed to do.
The remarks made by my hon. friend from St. Antoine division (Mr. Ames) are certainly worthy of the minister's most serious consideration. It seems to be a very valuable concession, and while the original object is a worthy one, and would be still worthy if carried out, still it will not do to allow this very valuable property to fall into the hands of speculators. I understand the minister to say that he is having five survey parties subdividing in the Peace River country. In what part is he having this subdivision made?
I said one party for the survey of the fifth meridian to Peace river. That is not on Peace river, but going to it. And one party for surveying a block of 3,500,000 acres in the Peace River district. That is to survey and outline this block of land in British Columbia outside of Alberta, but in the Peace River country. These are all the survey parties I have on this list as being provided for Peace river. We find this year that the demands for surveys to accommodate the new settlers are so immediate and pressing that we cannot spare surveyors to do subdivision surveys in the Peace River district this year.
I must have misunderstood the hon. minister, because I took him down as saying that five parties were doing subdivision work in Peace river and was very much astonished to hear it, knowing the difficulties.
I have that here, five parties for subdivision surveys in Peace River district, but that is an error. This list was made up at an early date, and our later information is that we cannot afford to send all those parties to Peace river because we need them in the country adjacent to the presently surveyed and settled country.
The minister made some remarks about the surveyors not being required to furnish accurate reports of the country they were surveying. Would he tell us what is the nature of the compact made with those survey parties? I should think that one of the conditions should be that they would give a comparatively accurate account of the character of the country through which they strike their lines.
The contract surveyor runs the line subdividing the townships into sections. He is paid per mile of line run at certain rates which vary from prairie to scrub and timber. The notes he takes are an indication of the character of the country, so far as they affect the prices he receives for the work. That is information in which he is interested, a contract requiring that he shall report on the general character of the country could not be made-effectively because that would be a matter of opinion. As I have said on previous occasions, we consider ourselves well off when we can secure surveyors, whom we can bind down by contract, to run lines as we want them run and give us a fair account of the nature of the work they do. We have sufficient difficulties in securing the surveyors we require for that class of work without insisting on placing further responsibility upon them which we would not have an equal means of enforcing. That is so far as the contract surveyors are concerned. The surveyors running base and meridian lines, who are employed on daily pay, do give some attention to the country through which they run, but their work is so strictly confined to the line off their survey that it has not any very serious value. To overcome that, however, we have now entered upon a system of attaching to the parties running meridian and base lines what might be called explorers, who have special knowledge of the land and its capabilities. Each explorer uses the survey camp as his headquarters, but occupies his time in ranging over the country. His travels radiate from the camp and he turns in his notes every night to the surveyor. In such cases we expect a reliable and fairly full account of the country through which those lines run. Until recently we have not adopted that system. Now that we have adopted it, I think we shall be able to give the information which is so valuable and so much desired.
Mr. LjAKE. I suppose that the notes which appear in the Surveyor General's reports must be taken from the reports given by the contract surveyors. It would seem to me that these men, who are digging holes for their surveys and so on, ought to be able to give a very fair statement as to the nature of the soil they go through. All that the minister means is that he does not hold them responsible for an absolutely correct statement of the land through which they pass. But the Surveyor General's reports are based upon the reports of the contract surveyors' reports as to the kind of land they pass through. How much land is under contract to be subdivided during the present season?