July 18, 1908

NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION-PURCHASE OF LANDS AT QUEBEC.


Sir WILFRID LAURIER (Prime Minister) moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 219) respecting the National Battlefields at Quebec. He said : This Bill is introduced in consequence of the resolution adopted by the National Battlefields Commission which has been communicated to me as follows : At a meeting of the National Battlefields Commission, held on the 16th instant, the following resolution was adopted: Resolved, whereas the great work entailed in the .tercentenary celebration of the founding of Quebec has absorbed all the time of the National Battlefields Commission; whereas it is most expedient that the commission should be empowered to secure without undue delay certain properties belonging to private parties and which will be required for the Battlefield park j whereas section 10 of the Aot constituting the commission requires the authority of parliament before any land or immovable property is purchased or acquired by the commission; whereas delay means the enhancing in value of many of the said properties which might at present be obtained at a much lower figure than would be likely later; the National Battlefields Commission urgently recommends that the Act respecting the National Battlefields at Quebec be amended so as to empower the commission, subject to the previous authority of the Governor in Council, to acquire if necessary, any or all of the properties specified in a memorandum sent to the Governor General in Council on the fifteenth day of July instant such properties as are not mentioned in the said memorandum to remain subject to clause 10 of the said Act.


J. GEO. GARNEAU.


Chairman, National Battlefields Commission. Section 10, which is here referred to, reads as follows : No land or immovable property shall be purchased or acquired by the commission except with the previous authority of parliament. This law relates not merely to the money voted by parliament bnt to ail other moneys which come into the hands of the commission ; none of these moneys may be used for tlie purchase of lands except with the previous authority of parliament. As the imblic know?, large sums have been subscribed to the Battlefields Commission, and it is expeceted that the Prince of Wales will hand over the money to the commission with some statement made to him of the property which it is intended immediately to acquire for the purpose of creating a Battlefields park. I have a plan, here which * Mr. FIELDING. I will place in the hands of hon. gentlemen on the other side, showing the property which it is intended to acquire. This property is described in the following statement prepared by Mr. E. G. Meredith, notary public . 1. A tract of land on the north side of the Ste. Foye road, belonging to the Heirs Touir-angeau and others. (Site of the battle of Ste. Foye,-a part of which surrounds the lot of land upon which is erected a monument to the memory of General Levis and General Murray-' Monument des braves ') and which is bounded as follows, v.iz.: In front to the south by the -Ste. Foye road, in rear to the north, by the brow of the hill (Cime du Cap)-on one side towards the east by lot number twenty-five,-belonging to I. A. Fortin, .and on the other side towards the west by lot number twenty-eight, belonging to the representatives of the late J. W. Duns-eomb. Which said tract of land was formerly known and distinguished as lot number twenty-six (26) upon the official cadastral plan for the Banlieue,, parish of Notre Dame de Quebec, but which lot has since been subdivided-and the said tract of land is now known and distinguished by different numbers, all of which are subdivisions of the said original lot number twenty-six-together with and including .all or any part of the said original lot-number twenty-six, as the same is now laid put and shown on the plan of the subdivision of the said lot number twenty-six as streets or avenues, and including all or any dwelling houses or other buildings of any kind erected on the said tract of land. 2. A strip of . land on the south side of the said Ste. Foye road, to be taken off the front or northerly end of lots numbers sixty-eight <68), seventy-five (75) and seventy-six (76), and seventy-nine (79) on the cadastral plan for the said Banilieue, parish of Notre Dame de Quebec, the said strip of land to be of such a depth as, when the same is added to the present width of the said Ste. Foye road, will make the said road .seventy-five feet wide an that locality. 3. A strip of land on the east side of the Belvedere road, to be taken off the west side of the said lot number sixty-eight (68) above mentioned, and off the front or west end of lots numbers sixty-nine (69), seventy (70), seventy-one (71), seventy-two (72) and seventy-three (73) on the cadastral plan for the said Banlieue, parish of Notre Dame de Quebec, the said strip of land to .be of such a depth as, when the same is added .to the present width of the said Belvedere road, will make the said .road seventy-five feet .wide from one end of the same to the other. 4. A strip of land on the north side of the St. Louis road (starting from the junction of the said Belvedere road and the said the St. Louis road and running in a westerly direction) to he taken off the south side cf lot number two hundred and twenty six (226)- the fropt or south end of lot number two hundred and twenty (220)-and about one third of the whole frontage or south end of lot number two hundred and eighteen (218) upon the cadastral plan for the parish of St. Coiomba de Sillery. The said strip of land to be of such a depth as, when the same is added to the present width of the said St. Louis road, wil-l make the said road seventy-five feet wide in that locality,-with any houses or buildings to be found on the said strip of land. 5. A strip of land on the west side of ' Gil-mour's Hill' (which leads from the St. Louis road to ' Wolfe's Cove ') starting from the junction of said ' Gilmour's Hill ' with the said St. Louis road and running in a southerly and southeasterly direction as far as the brow of the hill (Cime du Cap)-the said strip of land to be taken off the easterly side of lots numbers two hundred and fourteen (211)-two hundred and seventeen (217) and two hundred and twenty-eight (228) upon the cadastral plan for the said parish of St. Co-lomba de Sillery. The said strip of land to be of such a depth as, when the same is added to the present width of ' Gilmour's Hill,' will make the said hill seventy-five feet wide in that locality, together with any houses or other buildings erected on the said strip of land. 6. A strip of land seventy-five feet in width by the whole length of the ' Marchmont property ' now the * Merici Convent,' on the west side' of the Plains of Abraham,-which was formerly distinguished as lot number two hundred and twenty-seven (227) _ upon the cadastral plan for the said parish of St. Colomba de Sillery but which is now subdivided into numerous lots,-the said strip of land to be taken as close as may be found to be practicable to the brow of the cliff (Cime du Cap)-and also the whole of the irregular tract of land which will lie between the said strip of land when laid out and the said brow of the hill or Cime du Cap. 7. A tract of land comprising several lots of land with houses and other buildings erected thereon in the neighbourhood of * Wolfe's Monument,' to the east of the Plains of Abraham, which is bounded as follows:-In front towards the north by St. Louis street or Grande Allee, in rear towards the south by Monument street (on which street Wolfe's monument is erected), on one side towards the east by lot number one hundred and fifty-three and on the other side towards the west by the Plains of Abraham with the streets intersecting or adjoining same namely:- Wolfe street and Monument street, the said tract of land comprising the lots numbers one hundred and fifty-two, one hundred and fifty-four, one hundred and fifty-five, one hundred and fifty-six, one hundred and sixty-one, one hundred and sixty-one A, one hundred and sixty-one B, one hundred and sixty-two, one hundred and sixty-three, one hundred and sixty-three A, one hundred and sixty-three B, undone hundred and sixty-four, (152, 154, 155, 156, 161, 161A, 161B, 162, 163, 163A, 163B and 164) on the cadastral plan for the Banlieue parish of Notre Dame de Quebec. 8. A piece of land forming the southerly part of lot number four thousand and forty-one (4441) on the cadastral plan for Montcalm ward of the city of Quebec, containing from five thousand to' eight thousand feet in superficies, and a piece of land forming the southerly and southwesterly part of lot number foiir thousand four hundred and forty-two (4442) on the said cadastral plan containing from twelve thousand to fifteen thousand feet in superficies, (said properties belonging to the Ladies Protestant Home of Quebec and the heirs Lampson respectively). 9. The lot of land originally hearing the number four thousand four hundred and forty (4440) on the cadastral plan for Montcalm ward of the city of Quebec, which is now subdivided into numerous lots belonging to the Seminary of Quebec and commonly called ' the Seminary farm,' with the house and other buildings thereon erected. 10. A small piece of land form ing the south east corner of the property of the church of England Female Orphan Asylum (which adjoins the said seminary farm. The only objection which I can see ter this Bill at the present time is that no maximum purchase price is fixed. I pointed. that out In Quebec, and I asked if it were not possible to fix a maximum price, and I received this telegram from His Excellency : Description of property battlefields mailed yesterday, terms of sales not yet arranged as owners of scheduled property advancing price daily. Think commission should be empowered to use moneys already subscribed for purchase. The Bill, therefore, which I introduced is as follows : An Act Respecting the National Battlefields at Quebec. Whereas the National Battlefields Commission has requested that it he empowered to purchase, acquire and hold the lands or immovable property hereinafter referred to, and'it is expedient to comply with such request: therefore His Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows :-[DOT] 1. The National Battlefields Commission may subject to the approval of the Governor in Council, purchase, acquire and hold the lands and immovable property set forth and described in the schedule to this Act. Then follows the schedule which I have read.


CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

When the Act now

proposed to be amended came before parliament this session, objection was taken by several hon. gentlemen to the provisions of section 5 which read :

The commission may purchase, acquire and hold the lands or immovable property in the city of Quebec, or in the vicinity thereof, where the great battles were fought, or which were occupied by the various commands of the respective armies upon the battlefields.

The section is very indefinite as to the extent of lands proposed to be purchased, and it seems to confer upon the commission a very wide power which might commit the people of this country to an enormous expenditure, the extent of which cannot be foretold. There was very little information before the House at the time and by reason of the paucity of information clause 10 to which the Prime Minister has just called attention was inserted, and It reads :

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No lands or immovable property shall be purchased or acquired by the commission except with the previous authority of parliament, and no expenditure shall be made by the commission until it has been approved by parliament. It is beyond question that the measure as introduced would have involved a very protracted debate and would have encountered very strong opposition if it had not been for the insertion of a provision of that kind. I think it was I who suggested that provision, but I did not suggest it exactly in that form. The amendment which the Prime Minister inserted in the Bill in accordance with my suggestion went beyond the scope of what I proposed. What I recollect to have proposed on that occasion was that no moneys voted by this parliament should be expended for any such purpose unless with the previous approval of parliament. This parliament voted the sum of $300,000 by section 8 of the Act to be paid over to the commission, and by section 10 it was provided that the whole or a portion of that amount might be devoted to the purposes of the celebration which is to take place during the coming week. But apart from the moneys which were to be derived by the commission from the parliament of Canada there were other moneys, the anticipated origin of which is set forth in section 7. The commission was authorized to receive moneys contributed not only by this parliament but by the different legislatures of the provinces, or by any municipal or other body, or by any private individual for the purposes of the Act. So far as the money voted by this parliament is concerned it might be and no doubt was a very proper thing to insert the provision which is embodied in section 10, but In as much as a very large amount of the moneys now available to the commission have been derived, not from the vote of this parliament but from other sources, I am inclined to think parliament might intrust to the Governor in Council the supervision of the expenditure of these moneys for the purposes mentioned in the Act, now proposed by the Prime Minister. Possibly a word or two in amendment of the Act, as just, now introduced, might be inserted. So far as I am personally concerned I would not insist very much on that.- It may be said of course that information should be given to parliament with regard to the price proposed to be paid, and I would think that the commission would do well n it to be in too great haste if such haste should involve the payment of any exorbitant sum for any portion of this land. It will be remembered by hon. gentlemen that section G of the statute confers upon the commission all the powers of expropriation with which any railway company is invested under the Railway Act for the purposes of its undertaking. In that provision the commission has a very effective safeguard against the payment of any exorbit-


CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

ant price, and bearing that in mind and also that the proposed purchase is to be subject to the approval and supervision of the Governor in Council, for my part I do not see any objection to the legislation which the Prime Minister proposes.

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CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

It seems to me that under the legislation which was passed with regard to these national battlefields, the commission entered upon a campaign of money collection, and that there was an agreement or contract entered into between the subscribers to that fund and the commission or this parliament, that the conditions under which the commission was appointed and the duties prescribed for them and the power given them, were to be maintained. It was under these conditions the subscriptions were made. Now these conditions are proposed to be removed, and proposed to be removed at this, the last day of the session when there is no time to consider these matters. But there is a plea of urgency. Urgency is a plea that has been made to do service on many occasions. Where can possibly be the urgency ? The people who own these lands on the Plains of Abraham have known for many months that there was a proposition to acquire them for a national park, and why has it become so suddenly urgent that these lands should be acquired by the commission ? What has caused the price to go up so rapidly just at this juncture? I cannot see anything in that plea at all. I do not see any sufficient reason put forward wThy the tacit contract or agreement between this parliament and the gentlemen and legislatures who have subscribed to this fund, should be violated. Let this national commission take options upon this property. Parliament will meet soon again, a new parliament, it is true, but parliament will meet in the course of a very few months before the new year. Let the commission take four or five months option upon this property, and then parliament will be in a position to deal with it.

I do not see any necessity for this Bill, and I must protest against it.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Is it correct to say that the grant that has been made by parliament of $300,000 is none of it available for the purchase of this land ? Has all that land been taken by the commission ?

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

The greater part of the land has already been appropriated by the commission, and I am told the whole of it will be subscribed.

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CON
LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Not for the purchase of land. If my hon. friend will refer to the discussion which took place in this House at the time of the second reading of the Bill he will see that there was a vigorous insistence that all moneys, both

moneys voted by parliament and moneys coming from other sources, should be subject to the control of parliament. This was particularly in view of the possible purchase of the Ross rifle factory. The Ross rifle factory is not included in the present grant of land.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

I understood the Prime Minister to say that none of the Ross rifle property is included.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Chisholm

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. THOS. CHISHOLM.

Without attempting to debate this question, I merely wish to enter my protest against the passage of this Bill at this late hour of the session.

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CON

John Barr

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARR.

As one that voted against this enormous grant, I must enter my protest against this proposition in the last hours of the session. I think we might well afford to wait until parliament meets again.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

As I understand the matter, when we did put this saving clause in the last Act, section 10, I think, people would understand that before we disposed of the money we would thoroughly investigate the circumstances. I think that duty is cast upon us, and I regret that at this time of the session the right hon. gentleman lias brought this matter up. I do not blame the administration for not having brought it up sooner, because I presume they could not bring it up until about this time. In the meantime, I think we are not right in disposing of this money that the people have contributed, without knowing more of the circumstances than we do. The Prime Minister says that we are not by this attempting to purchase the Ross rifle property. That is true, but we are committing ourselves to a scheme which will involve in the end the purchase of that factory. Whilst I realize that we have uo time to discuss the matter now, if I had control of the situation I would not sanction the proposal of this money at the present time. So far as I am concerned. I throw upon the government the entire onus of seeing that what is right is done in this matter.

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Motion agreed to, Bill read the first and second time and House went into committee thereon. On section 1,


CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

I think the Prime Minister should explain where the urgency for this Bill exists. It may be necessary to do, it at some time, but I do not see any present necessity. Why won't it do just as well four or five months from now ?

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July 18, 1908