December 1, 1952 (21st Parliament, 7th Session)


George Taylor Fulford


Mr. G. T. Fulford (Leeds):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this debate on the speech from the throne one usually performs the perfunctory duty of complimenting the mover and seconder of the address in response to the speech from the throne. In this instance it is no perfunctory duty; it is a genuine pleasure. I can say without hesitation that in my view the hon. member for Brome-Missisquoi (Mr. Deslieres) as mover and the hon. member for Waterloo North (Mr. Schneider) as seconder made the best speeches I have heard on any parallel occasion during the years I have sat in the House of Commons. Certainly their speeches have put to shame many of the more futile efforts of those of us who have sat in the chamber a much longer time.
It was most gratifying to hear in the speech from the throne mention of the findings of the international joint commission in relation to the St. Lawrence seaway.
Recently I had the privilege of addressing a group of citizens of Canton, New York, in a large auditorium which had recently been opened at St. Lawrence university. I tried to deal with this matter from a different angle than is generally used. I did a little research, particularly on the subject of navigational facilities between the great lakes and the sea. I had said that all my life I had heard this referred to as the St. Lawrence deep waterway, and latterly as the St. Lawrence seaway and power development. I found that I spoke better than I knew because the first committee to advance the project was founded in 1902, and that happens to be the very year I was born.
As one delves into the history of the navigational facilities connecting the lakes and the ocean he will be interested to note that

The Address-Mr. Fulford from the beginning Canada has taken the initiative. The first connecting link was around the Lachine rapids and was constructed by the Capuchin Fathers in 1700. Naturally it was only a narrow ditch capable of carrying canoes loaded with furs. Then in 1797 the Northwest Fur Company, a private company, constructed a canal connecting lake Superior with lake Huron. This canal served a most useful purpose for fifteen years, but was completely destroyed by the United States army in the war of 1812.
I shall not bore the house with all the details of this history but shall try to say enough to demonstrate how proud we Canadians ought to be of the work we have undertaken. In the 1820's a private company began and completed a canal connecting lake Erie with lake Ontario. That was no small feat in those days when it is considered that the height of Niagara falls and the drop of the Niagara river had to be taken into account when the canal and locks were built. Later on this canal was taken over by the government of Upper Canada. Previous to that the government of Lower Canada had circumvented the stretch of river between Beau-harnois and lake St. Francis. Strangely enough the canal of that day followed closely what is now the Beauharnois canal.
It was not until many years later that the present Soulanges canal, which is used at present for navigational purposes, was built. Then in the 1840's the government of Upper Canada started and completed in stages the Cornwall canal and the Williamsburg canal. Those were finally completed in 1848 and permitted small draught vessels to ply between the upper great lakes and the St. Lawrence river below Montreal.
With the completion of the great Welland canal ships with a draught of 27 feet could be accommodated and the "only real bottleneck that exists today is the area from just above Cornwall, Ontario, down to the foot of the Lachine canal. There would be no restrictions upon Canada building a deep waterway in its entirety, as this section would be entirely within Canadian territory.
The section about which we would have to negotiate with the United States begins just above Cornwall and continues to a point just above Cardinal. This is the international section which will have to be developed jointly. Canada can go ahead with the navigational section and the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) has said that Canada courageously will go ahead. But we must have the co-operation of the United States in order to develop power.
We all know that the Canadian power will be developed by the Hydro Electric Power

Commission of Ontario. The international joint commission has given the green light to go ahead, but the matter is still being held up because of uncertainty in the United States as to which authority in the state of New York will be given the right to develop power, whether a federal power authority or a New York state power authority.
In the report of the international joint commission reference was made to the Gut dam; I trust you will not call me to order when I say "Gut dam". The Gut dam was built by Canada at a point between Prescott and Cardinal in order to divert water flowing between two islands to the head of the Cardinal canal and thus eliminate certain dangerously swift currents, and at the same time create a somewhat safer channel. I understand that engineers have estimated that this dam makes as much as eight inches difference in the water level of the upper reaches of the St. Lawrence river, with a somewhat lesser effect in lake Ontario. Not being an engineer I cannot give an expert opinion, but I venture to say that it does not make half an inch difference. I base that statement upon evidence I heard last summer at a hearing of the international joint commission at Ogdensburg, New York. At that time the treasurer of the Ogdensburg Trust Company stated that he owned land on the United States side both below and above the dam and he found that the height of water on both sides of the dam was exactly the same. In other words the water below the dam on the United States side was as high as the water above the dam. We who live in that part of the country know that on the United States side the dam is not visible. The shore line simply seems to be a continuation of the New York state side of the river. To me that evidence showed conclusively that the Gut dam made no difference. However, the international joint commission recommended that Canada should destroy this dam and work is now in progress to carry out that recommendation.
With Canada showing its good faith, I think it is only reasonable to ask our friends to the south to give proof of their good neighbour policy toward us by not holding up any longer than is necessary the action that will determine which body will be given the authority to proceed with the development of the power, whether it be the federal power authority or the New York state power authority. I am sure that every one of us in this house was most alarmed when we read last week in the press of Canada that the whole project may be held up eighteen months or more while Washington decides which authority will be granted the right to develop the power. Surely it is not asking

too much of our great neighbours to the south to ask them to co-operate with us as we have co-operated with them by carrying out the order of the international joint commission.
I should like to suggest that along the connecting waters of the St. Lawrence seaway project certain of the larger ports be designated as harbours under the Canada Shipping Act. I make this suggestion so that these harbours will have the necessary authority to regulate the course and speed of vessels plying up and down the narrow channels. Naturally I have special reference to my own town of Brockville. Recently large ships, both domestic and foreign, have been increasing their speed and the wash from these ships is constituting a menace not only to small craft owners who leave their craft in their boathouses but also and particularly to people who are out on the water in small craft such as rowboats, boats with outboard motors or even canoes. Sometimes in recent years we have seen waves come in that would almost make one think they were rollers coming off a vast ocean.
It has been stated that some years ago when the port of Albany, New York, was opened as the head of the seaway from New York city up the Hudson river one of the large steamship lines proceeded to send an ocean vessel up to Albany. That was well before the war, and that particular line is still settling lawsuits for the damage that was done to small craft, docks, boathouses and other buildings along the Hudson river. Certainly we do not want to see that happen when the St. Lawrence seaway is built. A certain amount of damage is being caused now, and I think it could be avoided if the necessary authority were given to the ports along the various streams connecting the great lakes and along the St. Lawrence connecting lake Ontario with the ocean.
The Address-Mr. Fulford
I also should like-and I have mentioned this in the house before-to call to the attention of the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) the advisability of establishing a weather station somewhere along the upper reaches of the St. Lawrence river. At present the weather prophesying facilities in this district are unreliable. We do not have much fog in the Thousand Islands region but when we do they are bad fogs. Eventually a weather station will have to be set up somewhere between Cornwall and Kingston, and I should like to recommend that it be established as soon as possible. It must be done when navigation facilities for larger vessels are completed, and if it were done now it would be an invaluable aid to farmers in prophesying how severe a frost will be.
We are told to look at the Ottawa valley weather reports, that they will tell us what we can expect. That is not so, and I will give the house a concrete example. Last night, according to the official bulletins in the elevators in the parliament buildings, the temperature in Ottawa reached a minimum of 4 degrees above zero which would be more than enough to create a navigational hazard on the St. Lawrence. I understand that the lowest temperature reached in Brockville was 14 and that the lowest in Montreal was 13, which is not enough to cause a navigational hazard. Therefore in spite of the fact that Ottawa is so near the St. Lawrence valley the fact remains that we are in a different weather belt, and I believe our request for a weather station should be given consideration with the least possible delay.
On motion of Mr. Fulford the debate was adjourned.

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