I asked during the last regular session how it was that Quebec, one of the important maritime provinces of Canada, was without a life-saving 'Station, and the minister said he would look into the matter.
I have here a memorandum prepared by Admiral Kingsmill, in consequence of my hon. friend's request:
Memorandum for the Deputy Minister.
Regarding your request for a note giving reasons why there are no life saving stations on the river St. Lawrence: On the upper part of the St. Lawrence there is no necessity for any station, as vessels getting into difficulties are not likely to be completely wrecked so as to endanger the crew.
The lower part of the St. Lawrence is populated nearly all along its entire banks for a long way down, by farmers, etc., and If a small vessel is wrecked, until you get Into the gulf there are seldom heavy enough seas to break up a vessel before the persons on board could get ashore. I believe, several years ago it was proposed to erect a station in Chaleur bay but I can find no record of anything having been done.
As to establishing stations now on the lower part of the St. Lawrence and the gulf, I see less reason for it than in the past. At present, in the fishing communities there are so many large and well equipped motor boats that there would be no difficulty in getting men to go to a wreck if necessary, while the difficulty of proper supervision of a station districts is so great in these outlying districts. I could not recommend the establishment of them. .
There is no doubt a considerable feeling about, that had there been a life saving station in the vicinity more lives would have been saved when the Empress of Ireland sank off Father Point. A collision in open water is no reason for establishing life saving stations. Had there been a station near at hand it would have meant one more boat to assist in rescue work. The chances of collisions taking place in the vicinity of life saving stations are remote, it is impossible to provide against such accidents. That is Admiral Kingsmiill's opinion.
I referred some time ago to the circumstances .surrounding the death of Joseph Le Blanc, of Point Felix. There is a feeling of unfairness among the relatives of this sailor who think that the truth was not told during the discussion which took place in the House last session in regard to this matter. I wish the minister to bear with me until I point out to him that there were some unintentional errors made in the statement which he gave last session. This sailor was in the employ of the (Government and on board the steamship Canada. He fell ill and was put in the hospital in Montreal. He died there on the 22nd of August, 1913, pnd on that date a telegram was sent to his nearest relative, Mrs. Margaret Richard, of Point Felix, announcing his death. The dispute was as to the date of the answer. On the 22nd August, 1913, the telegram was sent to Mrs. Benjamin Richard telling her that her brother Joseph had died in hospital at Montreal. It was stated by the minister in the discussion that took place that Mrs. Richard did not reply to this telegram until the 27th of August, and that it became necessary in the intervening period to bury her brother in Montreal, instead of sending the body to Port Felix as the relatives desired. I pointed out to the minister that Mrs. Richard informed me that she replied to the minister on the following morning, the 23rd August. The minister stated positively that he was instructed by his officers that such was not the case, and that Mrs. Richard's telegram was sent to the ship on the 27th of August, not the 23rd. During the summer and autumn I took the trouble to investigate this matter, and I got copies of the telegrams. I find that some officer in the department of my hon. friend must have misled him as to the dates. The first telegram [DOT] received by Mrs. Richard is the following:
Halifax, N.S., August 22, 1913. To Mrs. Benjamin Richard,
West Port Felix, N.S.
Joseph LeBlane died Montreal General Hospital. If you want body buried Port Felix you will have to pay expenses. Otherwise Government will bury him Montreal. Reply Canada, Halifax.
(Sgd.) Jim Bond.
Jim Bond was a sailor on board the Canada, and apparently the captain of the Canada asked him to send the message to
Mrs. Richard. The minister told us last year that the captain authorized Bond to send a message, and that it was sent in Bond's name. But this telegram stating that the Government would require the relatives of Joseph LeBlane to pay the funeral expenses did not appear on the file last year, although we thought we had a complete file of the telegrams. Now this is Mrs. Richard's answer:
White Head, August 23, 1913.
To Captain Stewart,
D.G.S. Canada, Halifax.
If Government will forward Joseph LeBlanc's body to Mulgrave free of charge we will meet it there. Otherwise please have buried Montreal. Advise answer.
Yes, Mrs. Richard got the telegram late on the 22nd, and she answered early on the morning of the 23rd. This is the reply I received from Mr. Laid-law:
Halifax, N.S., August 16, 1914.
J. H. Sinclair, M.P.,
House of Commons,
Dear Sir,-Your favour of the 15th inst.,duly received. The Port Felix message you refer to was received here dated Whitehead, N.S., August 23rd at S.36 a.m. and sent to the Dockyard by messenger for delivery.
It appears that the D.G.S. Canada was not in port and we were instructed to forward the message to Shelburne, N.S., which was done on the same date. Our Shelburne office immediately reported the message as undelivered, the Canada not being there. On August 27 Shelburne advised us to disregard her former service as the Canada had arrived at Shelburne and message had been delivered.
It would appear from the above that the Canada was at sea between the 23rd and 27th of August last year and that Shelburne was her first port of call.
If you should desire further information in regard to this message I shall be glad to do what can to assist you.
I presume it was delivered at Shelburne on the 27th. It was taken to the dockyard by a messenger of the telegraph company about 8.30 on the morning of the 23rd. The point I wish to make is this. Some one in the department of my hon. friend, either in order to conceal the real facts or by mistake, informed the minister that Mrs. Richard's telegram was dated August 27 and not August 23. The minister produced in the House a copy of the telegram, which he stated was a correct copy. It will be found on page 5334 of Hansard of last year, and reads as follows:
August 27, 1913.
The Captain Canada,
Shelburne, Nova Scotia.
If Government will forward J. Leblanc's body Mulgrave free of charge it will be met there, otherwise please have buried Montreal.
I want to point out to the minister that this telegram must have been partly manufactured by some officer in his department, and I was surprised that any officer should change a telegram just to fit the story that was put up by somebody in regard to this matter. In the first place the telegram produced by the minister last year is addressed to the captain of the Canada at Shelburne, N.S., whereas the actual telegram sent by Mrs. Richard was addressed to the captain of the Canada at Halifax. In the second place the date of the telegram produced by the minister last year is dated August 27, whereas the telegram sent by Mrs. Richard was dated August 23. The minister was very positive about it. He says on the same page of Hansard from which I have already quoted: " she did not send it until the 27th of August." It was further stated that, if Mrs. Richard had replied to Dr. Ower, at Montreal, LeBlanc's body would have been sent on to port Felix. I want to point out that Mrs. Richard did reply to Dr. Ower at Montreal, on the same day that she replied to Captain Stewart. Here is her message to Dr. Ower:
Port Felix, August 23, 1913. Manager, Montreal General Hospital,
Have you instructions from Marine Department to send Joseph LeBlanc's body home or bury there. Reply.
Mrs. Benjamin Richard.
That telegram was not produced with the file of last year. It was said that Mrs. Richard sent no communication whatever to Dr. Ower at Montreal in regard to her brother's body. On August 25 Dr. Ower replies to the telegram sent to him on the 23rd. It was received at Whitehead on August 25th and it is as follows:
To Mrs. Benjamin Richard, Whitehead.
Marine Department has given instructions for body to be buried here.
That telegram was not produced at all. It was either taken from the file or it never was received by the minister. I understand that the Canada has wireless machinery on board and that she could have received the message if the officers at the dockyard at Halifax had wished to communicate with her. Evidently they did not regard this matter as of sufficient importance to forward the message to the captain of the Can-
ada which they might have done. It cannot be said that it was Mrs. Richard's fault that the message did not reach its proper destination because it was the fault of some one in the Marine Department. It looks as if the real reason for it was to be found in the instructions of Captain Stewart, who says: .
You must pay the expenses ; otherwise Government will bury in Montreal.
That was not stated in the discussion which took place last year.
So much for that phase of the question. Then, the relatives of this deceased sailor thinking that they were badly treated, made application to the minister for some compensation to the orphan child that was adopted by the sailor and left helpless at Port Felix. Some consideration was due to these people. The sailor was an unmarried man and it is rather an unusual thing for a man under these circumstances to adopt a child. But he did adopt a child and when he died the child was without any help or support. The sailor's sister applied to the minister for some small compensation owing to the fact that the sailor had died in the services of the Government of Canada. Here is what the minister said in reply to that request:
My hon. friend (Mr. Sinclair) has referred to the fact that perhaps something should be done in the way of assistance for a child which the hon. member says Leblanc adopted. Leblanc had only been a few months in the service of the Marine and Fisheries Department as a sailor on board the Canada, and our information is that this chold who was living with him was a nephew, and that the father of the child is living and is well able to provide for it.
That statement also turns out to be untrue. The child is not a nephew of Mrs. Richard or of her brother. The minister says that the father is well able to take care of the child but I want to tell my hon. friend that it is not known who the father of the child is. The fact is that the child is an illegitimate child and his father is not known. The story of this child is told by Mrs. Richard herself in the following letter:
East Port Felix, June 22, 1914. My dear Gentlemen:
Just a few lines to tell you that I have received your book and the letter-
That refers to a copy of Hansard.
-but my letter was gone, I think you got it now, and also I have read the question over and over again, and I see all the mistakes they have, say even to tell that the child was a nephew to poor Joe and to us, what a lie as I must say, nothing else but a lie, and another
thing to say that the J. Bond on board of the D.G.S. Canada was a cousin of the deceased, that is another fraud, and even to say the child's father was well able to provide for it, they know more than I do about its father. I know its mother, and that is all I know, and nobody else in this place know who is the child's father's name. I will tell you the whole thing about this boy. The first one that took the boy was our brother Remie Leblanc. You have heard about him before. He was married and they had no family of their own, so they heard about this young girl having an infant that she was wanting to give him away to somebody. She was alone, no one to work for her, and she was crippled, no one to earn her living, so she gave her child to poor Remie before the magistrate and a couple of witnesses, then after a while Remie and his wife both took sick, the wife took sick in May and she died in November, and eight months after Remie died, and this brother of ours, Joe, took the child and looked after him the same as a father to his own child, and they both came and stayed with me, and they had no one, no woman to wash and bake for them, after they stayed with me, Joe was going away to earn for both of them, he was taking everything to the house, and I was taking everything to Sinclair, I am writing to Mr. Hazen, telling him all the matter again. See if he will answer my letter. I know he won't answer it.
I will write again to Mr. Borden, see what kind of answer I will get. I know he will answer back. This is all.
(Sgd.) Mrs. Margaret Richard,
East Port Felix, Guysborough Co., N.S.
That is the story of the little boy, and it appears that my hon. friend was misinformed when he stated that his father was living and was well able to take care of him. I do not know whether this will induce the minister to change his mind and to make some compensation to the child or not, but I think it would only be fair to the relatives in Port Felix who have felt very badly over the fact that their brother was buried amongst strangers in Montreal in place of his body being sent home when he died in the service of the Government, but which was not done because of the small expense which it would have necessitated. The department, without much expense, could have had the body transferred from Montreal to Mulgrave. That is all over, the body is buried in Montreal and there is no help for it now, but the child is still living, the people are needy, and if the minister could reconsider his position and make some compensation that would help to clothe and feed the young child for a short time, owing to the fact that he was left helpless after
the death of this sailor, it would be a gracious thing for him to do.
I do not think there is any advantage in discussing this matter very much further, but the facts as they are disclosed by the records in our department are these: Le Blanc was a sailor on board the Canada, he had been on board for about two months, the boat was in Montreal, he was taken ill and he died of natural causes and not in consequence of any injury he had received while in the service of the Government of Canada. He died in the Hospital in Montreal, after receiving all proper medical attention, he was a Roman Catholic in religion and he was buried according to the rites of the Roman Catholic church, in the cemetery at Montreal.