March 11, 1935

CON

Finlay MacDonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacDONALD (Cape Breton):

I think there must be some misapprehension in this matter. I am informed on good authority that the provincial government have already expressed their willingness to grant the site necessary for a national park. There is but one site in the whole province of Nova Scotia suitable for such a park and that is to be found on the island of Cape Breton. For the benefit of the hon. member who has just spoken may I say that the whole county of Antigonish coupled with the neighbouring county of Guysborough would not be hall large enough for a national park. The hon

member seems to be under the impression that all that is required is a kitchen garden. The area required for a national park can be found only in the adjoining counties of Pictou and Inverness, where we could have a national park with all the grandeur and beauty appropriate to such purposes. I cannot say that I am any greater admirer of the local government than is the hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough; in fact I do not think either of us thinks very favourably of it. I understand however that they have given the assurance to the originator of the national parks idea that they are ready to grant a site as soon as a selection is made by an official of this department. We hope to have that done this summer.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

It is interesting to hear

the hon. member for Cape Breton South, especially when the hon. member for Inverness is sitting by his side, state that the only place for a park would be in the county of Inverness. The least he might have done would have been to wait until his colleague and deskmate, the hon. member for Cape Breton North-Victoria, was in his seat, because I think that hon. member would have liked to say something. So far as the hon. member who has just spoken is concerned may I say that all he represents is a hole in the ground. Every time a person steps out of a door in South Cape Breton he is scared to death he will fall in the Atlantic ocean. It is surprising to me that the hon. member would come to this chamber and suggest a national park in the part of Cape Breton he represents. It is quite true that my constituency is not as large as I should like to have it, but last year there were some people in this chamber who wanted to make it much larger. For some reason or other however it was left as it has been for the last ten years. Whether or not the government of Nova Scotia is anxious to grant a site, I believe I am speaking correctly when I state that the people of Nova Scotia do not want a national park. We can do very well without it. If the government is going to spend money, let it help the fishermen, the lumbermen or the farmers; let the minister help these people, as the minister who piloted his bill for $90,000,000 through the house only a few days ago is trying to do. Of course, a national parks program is all right when a Liberal government is in power, because in such times we have an overflowing treasury, business is good, we are able to pay off $258,000,000 of the public debt and have a surplus of $85,000,000. In those times we can build post offices in the hon. member's constituency; we can build public buildings in

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New Waterford, and at such times it is quite all right to talk about expenditures for national parks. It seems to me the hon. member should hang his head in shame when he asks the Minister of the Interior to spend money for national parks in Nova Scotia, particularly when he must know about the deplorable and distressing conditions existing not only in Nova Scotia but throughout the country.

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CON

Finlay MacDonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacDONALD (Cape Breton):

Such a statement as that cannot be allowed to go unchallenged, even if it be made by an hon. member as irresponsible as the hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough-and I do not use the term invidiously. Nova Scotia is not the worst province in the dominion; it is the best. Not only is Nova Scotia the best province, but the county of Cape Breton is the best county. Apparently the hon. member does not appreciate the importance of having a national park; he does not seem to realize the benefits the fishermen would derive from it. I am sure if he did, having in mind the deep and abiding love he has for fishermen, he would withdraw his opposition to the creation of a park. I should be only too happy if the hon. member would find a place in the counties of Antigonish and Guysborough for a national park, but it is ridiculous to think that because he cannot have a park in his constituency he would go the length of preventing any other part of the province from having one.

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LIB
LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

Now that we have

listened to a discussion of maritime rights there is another matter I should like to discuss with the minister, and as I gave him notice of my intention undoubtedly 'he will have the information before him. I note that in addition to providing for national parks the vote provides for expenditures in connection with historic sites. In the town of Battleford, which is one of the oldest towns west of the great lakes and was at one time the capital of the northwest territories, away back in the early days when the Royal Northwest Mounted Police was first established, a barracks was built and attached thereto was seventy-five acres of land. About 1924 or 1925 the mounted police found it expedient to discontinue the occupancy of that barracks. The site of the northwest mounted police barracks is situated about one mile from the old town of Battleford and was at that time within the precincts of the corporation. An application was made to the then Minister of the Interior, the hon. member for West Edmonton (Mr. Stewart) on March 24, 1927.

Prior to this application it was understood that Bishop Lloyd contemplated asking the government to lease this property to him. In a letter addressed to the superintendent, ordnance, admiralty and railway lands branch of the Department of the Interior, dated March 24, 1927, the town clerk states:

Dear Sir:

It is understood that Bishop Lloyd has decided to abandon the idea of leasing the former Royal Northwest Mounted Police barracks here, and if there is no other scheme of making use of the property, the council asks your consideration of a request that the buildings and surveyed area within the townsite be turned over to the town.

That was March 24, 1927. On July 4, 1927 we received a communication from the same department-there was a letter between the one of March 24 and that of July 4-as follows:

With reference to your letter of the 7th ultimo, I beg to advise you that the application of the town of Battleford to acquire the above mentioned property has been given careful consideration and it has been decided to permit the corporation of the town of Battleford to lease the said property, as recreational grounds, for a period of twenty-one years at the nominal rental of $1 per annum.

That arrangement continued until quite recently, then we find a notice from the present Minister of the Interior, dated August

4. 1934, in which he states:

I hereby give you notice in accordance with the proviso contained in the lease or agreement dated the twenty-ninth day of March, 1928, made between His Majesty the King, represented therein by the Minister of the Interior of Canada, of the first part, and yourself, of the second part, that I, Thomas Gerow Murphy, of the city of Ottawa, in the province of Ontario, Minister of the Interior, intend to determine the said lease on the fourth day of October, 1934, and I require you on or before that date to deliver up possession of the premises, namely, that portion of the town plot of Battleford in the province of Saskatchewan, in the Dominion of Canada, particularly described in the aforementioned lease.

Dated at Ottawra, Ontario, this fourth day of August, 1934.

Will the minister explain to the committee why he found it necessary to cancel that agreement entered into in March, 1928? I should like to know further what is being done with the property. Who now occupies the buildings, and for what purpose?

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CON

Thomas Gerow Murphy (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MURPHY:

As the hon. member has stated, this property was leased to the town of Battleford under the authority of an order in council, P.C. 2380, dated December 20, 1927. This lease was given for an area comprising about seventy-five acres, together with several buildings thereon, and it was

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issued to the town for recreational purposes for the term of twenty-one years, from February 1, 1928, at a nominal rental of $1 per annum. The conditions of the lease were briefly these:

1. The lessee to pay the rent as set forth and pay all charges, taxes, rates and assessments during the continuance of the lease.

2. The lessee not to sublet or assign without consent.

3. The lessor to have the right to enter upon the premises for inspection at any time.

4. That the said lands shall be used for the purposes aforesaid, that is, recreational purposes and for no other purpose.

5. The lessee within a reasonable time to repair and keep in repair buildings designated by an inspecting officer to be retained.

6. The lessor may cancel by notice in writing if rental unpaid for thirty days, or for contravention of the conditions of the lease.

7. Manner of notification of cancellation.

The town of Battleford violated the second and fourth conditions of the lease. The second condition was that the lessee was not to sublet or assign without consent, and the other condition was that the lands were to be used for recreational purposes and for no other purpose. The town allowed the iate Constable John Guthrie to occupy one of the houses as caretaker and later allowed H. S. Stewart to use the barracks building to keep cattle, horses and pigs for fattening purposes, and also for housing some of his men. The hon. member must bear in mind that this property was to be used only for recreational purposes. Certain information came to the department in regard to the manner in which the town was allowing this property to be used, and we requested the Indian agent, Mr. S. L. Macdonald, to make an inspection and to report, and this was done. I have before me the details of his report. At a later date the Indian agent was asked to make a further report, which he did, and this report I have also before me. In answer to the last question, as to what is being done with the property at the present time, I may say that the lease has been formally cancelled and there is 'in charge a caretaker in the person of George W. French. The buildings, which have been occupied by certain people to whom permission was given by the town of Battleford, are I believe still in the possession of these people, but notice has been given them to vacate at a certain date.

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LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

I do not think that anything has been done, which would constitute a violation of the agreement, that was not submitted to the department and approved. I have here a letter dated May 21, 1S34, but before I go on to read it I think

that there is an explanation due me if not this committee as to who George W. French is. I think the minister knows a little more about him than I do. Who is he and why is he there?

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CON

Thomas Gerow Murphy (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MURPHY:

I am sorry I cannot give any personal information as regards George W. French. All I can say is that I believe he is a resident of the district and he is at present caretaker of the property.

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LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

If the minister does not know who he is, will he tell us who it was that recommended him to take charge of this property?

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CON

Thomas Gerow Murphy (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MURPHY:

The recommendation was made to me by responsible parties in that district.

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LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

It is all very well for

the minister to say that the recommendation came from responsible parties, but this committee has the right to know who these responsible parties are. There was nothing in the whole transaction, from the beginning until the time the minister took action against the town, that was not aboveboard. There was not a suggestion of change or of a breaking of the lease that was not first submitted to the department and agreed to. The minister speaks of responsible parties. Did the town of Battleford suggest that George W. French be the caretaker?

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CON

Thomas Gerow Murphy (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MURPHY:

As regards the statement

that complaints were not made by the town of Battleford in regard to breaking the terms of the agreement, of course they would not be made by the town. That is obvious.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Gerow Murphy (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MURPHY:

But they certainly did

violate the terms of the lease, and I am informed by my officials that the violations of the terms of the lease were made without the knowledge or consent of the department. As responsible minister in charge of the department, when information was received to the effect that the terms of the lease were being violated, I deemed it my duty to have an investigation made, and this was done. As we had no officer in the Department of the Interior to carry out the investigation we requested the nearest Indian agent, Mr. Macdonald, to make the investigation, and this he did. The action followed.

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LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

There is no use in the minister and me fencing about who George W. French is. If I am wrongly informed, I

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want the minister to correct me. I have no objection to Mr. French being a Tory, but he is also a relative of the minister.

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CON

Thomas Gerow Murphy (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MURPHY:

Mr. George W. French

is not a relative of mine.

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LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

Then let us go back

to the agreement. I hold in my hand a letter dated May 21, 1934, addressed to the department, as follows:

Re File No. 80980-5

Former Mounted Police Reserve- Battleford, Saskatchewan

In reply to your letter of the 27th April I am instructed to say that the buildings have been kept in as good repair as possible, and those marked to be demolished' were sold and the proceeds $644 placed to the credit of a fund from which repairs were paid for as required from time to time. There is now the sum of $238.68 to the credit of the account.

So that the committee may be acquainted with just what happened, may I say that there was a large block of buildings in the [DOT]old northwest mounted police barracks. At one time there were about seventy-five mounted police stationed there. There were the usual quartermaster's stores, barracks, dormitories and so forth. The agreement entered into by the town with the department was that certain buildings should be [DOT]demolished and that the lumber from them should be used in repairing the buildings that had to be kept for historic purposes. The letter goes on to say:

It is true that the building known as the *concert hall was sold to Mr. Quehl and the material removed, the proceeds of the sale being placed to the credit of the fund referred to. The other buildings which have disappeared were treated in the same manner.

The council's reason for this policy was that the material would probably be made away with -the property being so far from town, and much of it was not suitable for repair work.

It is also true that there are some pigs in the large stable, and some cattle in the adjoining shed. These pigs and cattle are owned by Mr. H. S. Stewart whose application to lease the buildings was forwarded to you-

That is to the department.

-on 5th February last and acknowledged for [DOT]consideration 15th February. Mr. Stewart farms 300 acres of the town lands adjoining the barracks property.

It is also true that Mr. John Guthrie, a former constable of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police is occupying the house formerly used by the superintendent, as caretaker-rent free.

I think the minister will admit that it was agreed when the agreement was entered into with the department that someone -should be caretaker. Mr. Guthrie, an old

Royal Northwest Mounted Police man, was given the position as caretaker by the town. The letter continues:

As caretaker he receives no pay. I regret to say that he is very ill at the present time and is not expected to recover. He is over seventy years of age and like all the old mounted policemen has served the west well.

May I refer you to a report-

To which the minister also referred.

-on these premises made by Indian Agent S. L. Macdonald, March 12/34, File No. 389-126. This report was made on the instructions of H. W. McGill, Esquire, Department of Indian Affairs at the request of the Minister of the Interior, and deals fully with all matters referred to except the funding of the money for the buildings disposed of and demolished. Copy of this statement is attached.

As the member representing South Battle-ford in which is situated the old town of Battleford, I merely wish again to raise my voice in condemning, if you like, the Department of the Interior for the action they have taken in this matter. There is no greater historic site in Saskatchewan to-day than the old Royal Northwest Mounted Police barracks, and there is no individual or group of individuals in a better position to take care of those old barracks than is the corporation or council of the town of Battleford. I hope the minister, before he leaves office, will reconsider the stand he has taken on this matter and restore to the old town of Battleford the agreement that was entered into by the late government in 1928. I think the minister himself will admit that it will be just too bad if we are going to allow a property like this to be used as a political football, and I will tell him, whether he likes it or not, that if he does not restore the agreement, every effort of mine will, as soon as the election is over, be used to reestablish the rights of the old town of Battleford in the possession of this property.

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CON

Thomas Gerow Murphy (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MURPHY:

I think the hon. member has very well answered himself. He quoted to the committee a statement that certain of the buildings might be demolished, which demolition was carried out, and that the proceeds were to be used for the repair of the other buildings; that certain of the material was sold and that there was a balance remaining of $238.68, which was not used for the purpose of repairing buildings, which has not been turned over to the Department of the Interior, and which remains unpaid until the present moment. Further-and this is what I wish to draw to the attention of the committee-the hon. member has made a plea that this site should remain with the town of Battleford, because it is an historic site and the Battleford council are the best

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people to administer it. They were given the administration of that area for one purpose only, namely, that it was to be used solely for recreational purposes. They did not so use it; the hon. member admits that himself. Certain of those buildings were used by Mr. Stewart to house cattle, sheep, pigs; stacks of feed were placed on the ground, and of course the grounds would be covered with the litter from the stables in which the various animals were housed. In developing his theme, the hon. member stated that this was an historic site and that the town was therefore the best instrument to be used to perpetuate its memory. I have related to the committee how those grounds were used. I put this question to the committee: Is that a proper and fitting way to use an old historic site-to utilize the buildings for the housing of animals and to have the grounds covered with litter, especially in view of the terms of the lease that the area was to be used for recreational purposes only. I have before me the detailed evidence, the report of the agent as to the condition of those buildings. I do not make any apology for the action taken, and were the matter to be dealt with to-morrow, I would take the same action with the town of Battleford or any other community which had violated, in the manner in which this was done, the terms of an agreement entered into.

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LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

There are two questions I would like the minister to answer. When I read the letter dated May 21, 1934, addressed to the commissioner of Dominion lands, it contains this paragraph, just as the minister has stated:

It is also true that there are some pigs in the large stable, and some cattle in the adjoining shed. These pigs and cattle are owned by Mr. H. S. Stewart whose application to lease the buildings was forwarded to you on 5th February last.

Did the minister receive that application, and did he refuse it or what became of it?

I would like the minister to read the letter if he has it-and I think he has-in reply to this letter sent from Battleford on May 21, 1934.

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CON

Thomas Gerow Murphy (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MURPHY:

That application never

came before me. It may have been sent to the department, but to the best of my knowledge or recollection I did not see it. It may have been sent to the town; the town may have approved it in the first instance and it may have been sent to the department, but I have no recollection of that

application ever coming before me, and I am assured by the officials that consent was never given, although apparently Mr. Stewart was in occupation of that building at the time and had been for some time previously.

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March 11, 1935