May 28, 1948 (20th Parliament, 4th Session)


John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative


I endorse what the hon. member for St. John-Albert said in giving credit to the minister. In this House of Commons we too seldom, in opposite parties, give credit to those on the other side who do try to do something, and as far as I know the present minister is the first federal minister who has really put his teeth into this problem.
I compliment the minister, as did the hon. member for St. John-Albert. I also appreciate what was said by other members representing Halifax, Cumberland, where the works are going on near the experimental farm, to which the minister referred, Royal, Queens and other parts of the maritime provinces. We can include all hon. members from the maritimes.
Since I have been here, on one occasion or another I have spoken of the marshlands of the maritimes. Last October I spent some time in Albert county and also in the area in Nova Scotia about which the minister spoke. I must pay tribute to the early French pioneers. They did a marvellous job without machinery. They must have done it all with wheelbarrow, shovel, pick and so forth.
In the county of Albert last summer I saw one of the aboiteaux in action. In English, this means a valve in a trough or box, through which the water flows. It hangs on a hinge; when the water is draining off the land, this flap or valve moves seaward, and when the tide is coming in, the flap is pushed shut so that it keeps the sea out. The engineer on the job told me that these aboiteaux were built 200 years ago by the early French pioneers. That is a great tribute to those people.
I support this resolution and I will support the bill as well, for in my judgment it is long overdue. Anyone who heard the figures given by the minister will realize that the completion
of the job would be too much for either Nova Scotia or New Brunswick by itself. The province of Prince Edward Island would like to have dikes too, but I have not heard so much about that. I believe the whole house will support the bill.
One thing that struck me favourably about this debate was the sympathy of everyone for any province that is in distress. The feeling of members generally toward any part of Canada that is in distress is something admirable, and it brings home to us the fact that all Canada is our business and not merely the little bailiwick that each of us represents for a short time. The country at large is our concern, and every member has been in sympathy with this proposal. Some members have referred to their individual troubles, and they are very real no doubt, and should be attended to as quickly as possible, but all those members supported the resolution.
I have heard the amount of acreage stated at between 80.000 and 100,000 acres. Even
80,000 acres are well worth reclamation. It would mean a great deal to the productivity of maritime farms. The farmers roundabout apparently grow hay on the marshlands, but for some years they have not been able to do so. Years ago these activities yielded great returns, but of recent years the farmers have not been able to do much in this way.
Last summer I spent some time at a delightful little town called Hillsborough where the gypsum plant is located. They were rebuilding the dikes there. As one drives south, I presume, from Hillsborough toward the gypsum plant, the roadway lies through lowlands.
The day I was there the water was over that roadway. The tide was in. After the tide went out, I myself went along the roadway across there at the other side of the depression. The land between the roadway and the bay was under water. But when the works now being constructed are completed that land will be reclaimed.
One of the engineers gave me a copy of the bill, or maybe I got it later in Fredericton; I have forgotten which it was. I presume it was a bill passed by the New Brunswick legislature last year or the year before. It stated that the gypsum company, the railway whose line was flooded when the tide was in, and the owners through an agreement were providing for a dike or the repair of that dike. So I hope that, when this bill goes through, the people in Albert county who certainly had great expense-and that includes the railway, the gypsum company and the owners of the land-will be considered for the return of
Reclamation oj Marshlands

what, they spent. They may not be through yet. More money may have to be expended there.
If the minister goes there, he will find the town of Hillsborough a very nice town. It has a fine hotel, which serves the best meal I believe I ever tasted. If I go back there, I am going to head straight for that hotel. I have forgotten its name, but it is on the left side of the street going south. It is well operated and serves fine meals.
In closing my remarks, may I say that I just rose because I know the areas about which the minister spoke. Having seen the tide across the road and across the low lands, I heartily support the reclamation of these lands.

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