June 1, 1939

CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

I do not rise to oppose this vote, I simply want some information. I have made a thorough survey of the whole area and all around it on both sides of the river. The obstruction to which the minister

4850 COMMONS

Supply-Public Works-Harbours and Rivers

refers is just north of the city of St. Johns. It is a natural rock barrier in the river. The river flows over the rock in a sort of rapid, not a fall. Is the dam already constructed?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
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LIB
CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

The last time I was there it was not under construction. I have not had. time to go down this spring. I planned many times to go and make a survey but have not had time. The dam, I believe, is about six miles north of St. Johns-I have forgotten the name of the island.

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LIB
CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

When this vote first came up a few years ago I understood that it was to be part of a navigation scheme. Is it still part of a navigation scheme?

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

Yes, it is, because this dam is built practically half way, between St. Johns and Chambly. The present canal extends from St. Johns to Chambly. The length of it is twelve miles. The dam is being built six miles from Chambly. It reduces the length of the canalization by six miles.

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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

That eliminates the small canal on the west side of the river. In other words the water level of lake Champlain will extend on down to the dam at Fryer's island. The low water level of lake Champlain, below which I do not see how the government can be permitted to lower it, is 93-3 feet above sea level. The high water level is 102-6 feet. The report given by the government, if I remember it correctly-I have not had time to familiarize myself with the facts-contained the statement that this dam would control the water level of lake Champlain and from lake Champlain to the dam, at 92-5 feet. I cannot find anywhere in the international agreement the consent of the United States to lowering the low water level from 93-3 to 92-5 feet. Have we that authority? It is not in the international report.

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

I am informed that the understanding that exists between the United States and Canada does not allow Canada to go below 92-5.

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CON
LIB
CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Well, the dam has some merits; it will maintain the level of lake Champlain to six miles north of St. Johns.

I do not oppose, but I commented on the scheme in the beginning because I thought at that time it might be a waste of public money. It was to cost, I believe, in the

neighbourhood of $12,000,000 to $15,000,000 when completed. We shall then have a waterway there of about twelve feet draft?

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LIB
CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Since the first locks, and the canal from Sorel south, are now of twelve feet draft, I do not feel that t'his money is going to be entirely wasted; there will be some benefit from it, though nothing at all comparable with the cost. That canal will be used but little anyway after it is completed; traffic is decreasing and never will increase in great magnitude. There are just a few oil boats going up and down there. Even on the United States end of the canal, from lake Champlain down to where the canal enters the Mohawk river, traffic is insignificant, notwithstanding the fact that there are substantial iron plants adjacent to lake Champlain. However, I no longer feel that the money will be totally wasted, and if the canal is to be completed I suppose year after year we shall have more votes until the work is finished from Fryer's island to Chambly basin.

The question of flooding has been emphasized, but if I were the minister I would not labour that point at all. The flooding does not amount to very much. I ascertained from Washington the height of lake Champlain as of the day I made my last survey, and they advised me that the water level was between 95 and 96 feet above sea level, or approximately four feet higher than the level at which this dam is to maintain lake Champlain. I did not find any flooding at 95 or 96 feet. The road immediately north of lake Champlain, which runs through a very pretty part of the country, was several feet above the water on that occasion. I discussed the question of flooding with the farmers and everyone else with whom I came in contact, and those to whom I spoke told me that at high water in the spring of the year, when I presume the water would be 102 feet above sea level, the road in front of the hotel might be a foot or two under water, but that condition did not prevail for very long. The land immediately north of the lake is largely swampy land, in any event, which could not be worked at all. There were only a few places where in the spring of the year the farmers were held off their land for perhaps a week or two. I was told while there that it was the United States that was asking for some regulation, that there was more flooding on their side of the line. That may not be so, but if they have flooding certainly I would have no objection to assisting our good neighbours to that extent. All I can say is that since the

Supply-Public Works-Harbours and Rivers

project has been started by the government and a few millions have been spent on it, I suppose it has to be completed.

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LIB
CON
LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

Oh, yes; on the construction of the canal.

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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

My memory was that it amounted to several millions. From now on I am not going to oppose these votes. The project is on its way, and while it involves a large sum of money, that money will not all be lost. I still insist, however, that it was entirely unnecessary under modern conditions. If I might ask one further question, because not having seen the dam I do not know how it is constructed: Has the lock that is to be used in the future been installed in the dam that has been constructed?

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LIB
CON
LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

There is no lock in the dam, because boats will pass from the river to the present canal about half way to St. Johns. There is no lock in the dam itself.

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June 1, 1939