March 23, 1938


Hon. CHARLES A. DUNNING (Minister of Finance) moved that the house go into committee to consider the following proposed resolution: That it is expedient to bring in a measure to authorize the Minister of Finance to pay to the National Battlefields Commission the sum of $75,000 a year for a period not exceeding ten years from the first day of April, 1938, to be expended by the commission for the purposes and subject to the provisions of the act respecting the national battlefields at Quebec. Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Sir Eugene Fiset in the chair.


LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

This resolution precedes the introduction of a bill to continue for a further period of ten years the present statutory provision under which a grant of $75,000 a year is paid to the national battlefields commission. I could give details as to the operation of the commission, if it should be desired at this stage, or I could do so on the bill itself. I think most hon. members of the house are familiar with the work of the commission. I thought I would advance the measure a step to-day, thus enabling any members not here this afternoon but who may be here later to say anything they wish at a later stage.

Battlefields Commission

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

This is a most commendable vote, Mr. Chairman, but the last time it was before the house I put an inquiry to the government which I should like to repeat to-day. I have no objection to this vote, which began a little after the tercentenary in 1910. Quebec is a great gateway into Canada, and a great attraction to the tourist trade. Will the government consider marking out other battlefields? A bill was before the railway committee this morning, for instance, in connection with a new Niagara Falls bridge. The main battlefields in the Niagara district, a most important historic spot, should be improved. The battlefields are located at the gateway into the Niagara district, a district which enjoys the greatest tourist trade entering Canada. There are many battlefields in that district. One is at Point Mississauga, right at the mouth of the Niagara river where the steamer . Cayuga, sometimes carrying as many as three thousand passengers, passes by. At Niagara on the Lake there was a large camp during the great war.

Some of the battlefields are in ruins. True, some of them are under the control of the Niagara Falls parks commission, but something should be done to preserve these historic sites in the Niagara district. Then, we go on to Fort Erie, and at Ridgeway we are reminded of the Fenian raid. The provincial government is doing something at Fort Erie.

Next we come to the historic points in connection with the northwest rebellion. There should be equality among the provinces in connection with this matter. After all is said and done, the government might well take a leaf out of the book of the United States administration. Fort Oglethorpe, in the Cumberland valley in the United States, marks one of the points of battle in the great war between the northern and southern states. Every state in the union has erected its own monument to soldiers who contributed in that great civil war. Many miles of historic sites are preserved.

Since this expenditure was limited, the amount spent has been about the same. I do not think the commission is going far enough. In my opinion something should be done as well in the other provinces. Mr. Chairman, you take a great interest in this work, and I believe you would agree that something should be done to extend the principle of the measure to the Niagara district, and also to other provinces where the historic sites, although not as important to us, are of vast importance to the provinces in which they are located, both in the present and to posterity.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

Has the act authorizing

an expenditure similar to this one expired, and if not when will it expire? Is it believed that this expenditure will complete the work the commission has in mind at Quebec, or is it just another instalment on something, the completion of which is still far in the future?

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

The act itself does not

expire, but the section being amended does expire. The $75,000 annually provided in 1928 for a period of ten years, renewal of which is now asked for a further period, is the maintenance vote for that great area comprising the national battlefields at Quebec. To the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) I would say that so far as I am aware most of the other battlefields are now and for many decades have been private property. Any move to attempt to revive their historic features would involve the acquisition of a considerable amount of property. On the other hand, the national battlefields at Quebec are public property, and were committed to the care of the commission. The vote is to cover the costs connected with maintenance of the battlefields area on the cliffs above Quebec.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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LIB

Robert Emmett Finn

Liberal

Mr. FINN:

While favourable consideration should be given to the preservation of battlefields in Quebec, I must point out that the citadel at Halifax is perhaps the most historic spot in Canada. It is at that point that guns were first fired in Canada in connection with warfare, whether of a rebellious nature or connected with riots. I would ask the minister to give his careful consideration to a letter I shall send him in reference to citadel hill, in which I shall set out all the facts.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

With all due respect to the minister's statement that Stoney Creek and Lundy's Lane are private property, may I say that they have no business to be private property. Historic sites should foe public property. In Ontario we have none of these memorials. Fort Mississauga at the mouth of the Niagara river is a heap of ruin. Some other memorials in the Niagara district are under the control of the Department of National Defence. It seems to me that all the memorials the province of Ontario has are two from the ox-cart days, namely the Trent canal and the Newmarket canal. They are the ones marked out by the government.

The old fort at Toronto was a mass of ruins for years until the city government improved it. At the present time there is some agreement between the government and the city

Battlefields Commission

respecting that historic spot. The city, I think, has the deed. Many memorials were created as a result of the great war. Those are places at which regiments from all points of Canada were trained and, to the people of the municipalities, they are historic spots. For instance, I know that one battalion was raised in Edmonton; in fact it spent about a week in Toronto. Then, there are memorials in connection with the northwest rebellion which mark the spot where soldiers from Ontario and Quebec fought for the unity of this country.

This is the only opportunity there will be to speak on the matter, and there is no reason why the subject should not be studied by some department. Several hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on maintenance charges, and surely, in view of the deficit there will be anyway, along some lines, you can afford a few dollars to mark these great war memorials. We have one, the memorial chamber, right in this building. There are many places all over Canada where young men who took part in the great war were trained and, in the eyes of the local communities, they are historic. Something should be done in cooperation with the provinces and municipalities to save these historic places for future generations.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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LIB

Joseph James Duffus

Liberal

Mr. DUFFUS:

I do not know much about the Newmarket canal, but-

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

I would ask the Minister of National Defence what he has to say about it.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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LIB

Joseph James Duffus

Liberal

Mr. DUFFUS:

I do not know much about the Newmarket canal, but I can assure the committee that the Trent canal is no memorial; it is a very live national entity.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I think we should

distinguish between two different things. This expenditure has to do with the national battlefields commission. Then, as many hon. members are aware, there is another body known as the historic sites and monuments board. I believe they report to my colleague the Minister of Mines and Resources. On the recommendation of the board historic sites of various kinds have been and are being marked in various parts, of Canada. However, that work does not involve the provision of large sums of money for the maintenance of what amounts to a national park such as the one existing at the great battlefield on the heights of Abraham. I am not at all without sympathy for the views expressed by the hon. member for Broadview, but I do suggest to him that there is an opportunity to discuss

the matter on the vote for historic sites and monuments, under the Department of Mines and Resources.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. HEAPS:

Who administers the present fund and looks after the administration of the national battlefields?

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

The present commissioners are Sir George Garneau, LLD., chairman who has been on the board since 1908; Hon A. Turgeon, C.V.O., C.M.G., of Quebec.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

He is dead.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I did not know that.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. HEAPS:

But he is still on the commission.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

The hon. Senator T. Chapais, senator, and a member of the legislative council of Quebec; Mr. N. A. Dussault, of Quebec; and there are at present three vacancies. Then, also appointed by the provinces there are the Hon. W. H. Price of Toronto and the Hon. L. A. Taschereau, K.C. of Quebec.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. HEAPS:

Has this commission complete control over the administration of the act?

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Yes.

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. HEAPS:

Is nothing put on these memorials but references to historical events?

Topic:   BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENT TO COMMISSION OF $75,000 A YEAR FOR PERIOD NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS
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March 23, 1938