Charles Alexander MAGRATH

MAGRATH, Charles Alexander

Personal Data

Conservative (1867-1942)
Medicine Hat (Alberta)
Birth Date
April 22, 1860
Deceased Date
October 30, 1949
land surveyor

Parliamentary Career

October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
  Medicine Hat (Alberta)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 3 of 30)

May 16, 1911


I do. I say that in any other streams that cross the international boundary that, in a'il human probability there will not be an instance in which the interests on one side can be injured through the diversion of the stream on the other side.

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May 16, 1911


Mr. Speaker, before resuming my argument which was broken off

owing to the House adjourning for lunch, I would like to revert for a moment to a feature that I may not have made absolutely clear this morning, and that is that while article two enunciates that sound principle that in the case of streams flowing across the boundary, vested rights on one side must be honoured on the other; that owing to the rider which does, not allow that feature to be applied in the only existing case, that case had to be settled by special arrangement, and which was done in article six. I merely wish to point out how that sound principle was totally disregarded by the negotiators in article six, wherein the Canadian company, with a canal taking 800 cubic feet per second from the St. Mary's river, with legal rights up to 2,000 cubic feet per second, was only given a prior right of 500 cubic feet per second against the St. Mary's river, and not even that, because when the stream falls so that three-fourths of it will not produce 500 feet, then the Canadian canal will only be entitled to what that three-fourths of the stream amounts to. On the other hand, the charges against the Milk river in Montana, adjudicated at 350 cubic feet, are given a prior right of 500 cubic feet per second against that stream, though, of course, I know it is not capable of producing that amount in normal years during the irrigation season.

Returning now to that undated memorandum which I was dealing with when the House adjourned, the only question which Mr. Anderson raised which appears to have been seriously considered by our government, was his criticism that the United States need not build immense reclamation works whereby Canada would be served therefrom; but our representative disposes of even that view on page 80 of the return, in which he says:

Therefore, it will not be necessary for the United States, Mr. Anderson says, to provide any storage on St. Mary's river. The flaw in this argument is in the fact that Mr. Anderson deals with average flows.

And elsewhere on page 82, he says:

It is probable, therefore, that the dam will be built.

I think Secretary Ballinger's letter, of which a portion already has been read, indicates that there was not very much flaw in Mr. Anderson's argument. Elsewhere, it appears that Mr. Anderson referred to a very important feature which appeared in a communication made by the late John Hay, then Secretary of State, to the British ambassador, dated at Washington, February, 8, 1903, as follows:

It is proposed to deal with this matter in strict conformity with the laws concerning the right to the use of water as recognized by the Mr. MAGRATH.

courts of the arid region, both on this side of the international boundary and on the other. The principle may be stated in the language of section 8 of the Reclamation Act: that the right to use of water shall be appurtenant to the lands, irrigated and beneficial use shall be the basis, the measure and limit of the right.

Mr. Anderson pointed out that that statement substantially meant that the Canadian company should be protected in its legal appropriation against the St. Mary's river. That statement of Secretary Hay is the sound and just principle of allowing vested rights to be protected, but our government's representative, in criticism on that point on page 75 of the return, uses the followinig language:

I do not think there is much force in this argument. The United States would probably say in reply that if they are bound by Mr. Hay's words they are bound only in the sense in which he personally intended them.

It is rather an astonishing admission that Mr. Hay's own views were not used against his country in discussing this question. It appears to me that it would be more in the interest of Canada if we had theorized less, and had dealt in a practical way with a practical question, which, however, of course could only have been done by practical men. Finally, on page 83 of the return, we find the following statement from our representative:

It is suggested in the note that storage on the Canadian side of the boundary could be secured at less cost and with greater assurance of permanence than at the outlake of the St. Mary's lake. This is corroborated by Mr. J. S. Dennis of the Canadian Pacific railway, who has a thorough knowledge of the engineering questions involved. While in the government service about fifteen years ago, he surveyed the whole of that region for the very purpose of ascertaining the possibilities of irrigation by water diverted from St. Mary's river. His view is that by utilizing the storage facilities of the northern slope of Milk river ridge, Canada can store all her share of the water, and that the storage in the basin of the St. Mary's lake would be of little or no service to her.

There are three features in the foregoing statement worthy of some attention. First, we have the statement of American authorities endorsed, namely: that storage facilities in Canada are better than in the United States. It is not a question of permanence of structures, because the United States is committed to the construction of a dam some forty feet in height, which will probably hold behind it 200,000 feet of wateT. It is a question of putting two holes in the bottom of that dam, one for the use of Canada, the other for the use of the United States. That of course, would involve the building of the American canal as originally located, and involve

that country in greater expense. Instead of that, however, there is to be one hole in that dam twenty-five feet above the river level, out of which the American share of the water will be taken, and the Canadian share of the water will go down the valley uncontrolled.

Then, we have the opinion of Mr. Dennis, that by using the storage facilities of the northern slope of the Milk river, Canada can store all her share of water. That statement is absolutely incorrect. The storage facilities of Canada are situated many miles from the St. Mary's river. They can only be connected by earthen canals with the river. Those cana'ls can only be operated in normal years, about seven months in each year. We must realize that earthen canals must be closed down in order to allow them to dry out, so that teams can be placed in them to do the necessary repairs before the frost sets in. Any child in these northern latitudes knows that water cannot be carried in such canals during the winter months. Then, what happens to the flow of the stream for what, I may term, the five winter months? It is true that water will run longer than seven months, but I have already explained that the canals have to be closed down, and my 'experience in operating canals, is that they have never operated more than about seven months per year. So that at once disposes of that question. Then the other statement is that the storage in the basin of the St. Mary's lake would be of little or no service to Canada. All I have to say in connection with that is that the storage in the basin of the St. Mary's lake, is good enough for the United States, and, looking carefully over the entire treaty, and the success which has attended the efforts of the United States in its negotiations. I am disposed to think that what is good enough for that country, should be good enough for this.

Sir, when this question was before the House in May, 1909, the right hon. the Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) criticised me rather severely for importing, as he said, political bias into this debate. I absolutely deny the charge, Sir. I was not sent here to throw platitudes at anv one in this House. I came here to look after what I regard as the interests of the people of this country. I went into the western country over thirty years ago, without any very great appreciation of the value of either water or timber. I settled on the plains of western Canada, and it gradually came to me the great value of these two natural advantages. I was connected with development work in southern Alberta, and I say that any man who has an interest in this country 288

should be glad to take part in making two blades of grass grow where one grew before I realize the necessity, as the people in that country to-day realize the necessity of every drop of water we are entitled to. We know that we have not sufficient water for our needs; and when the government allows water to be taken from us to which we are legally entitled, I have every right to come here to criticise the government. More than that, Sir, we are not doing what I consider we should do in the development of the water resources of that country. We have vast bodies of water going down towards Hudson bay, and doing little or no good. The government should carry on careful investigations to see to what extent the water can be put to beneficial use. Nothing is now being done in that direction beyond the measurement of some streams. But, before we can attempt the development of our water resources other things need to be done. We have certain gentlemen north of Lethbridge asking that water should be taken out of the Belly river for use in that country. They are not in a position to say whether that is or is not feasible from an engineering point of view. The government ought to go to their aid and tell them to what extent it is feasible.

Now, a few words dealing more closely with the Bill before us-that is in reference to the appointment of the three gentlemen who will be associated with the three appointees of the United States for operating the Waterways Treaty. I understand that the three representatives of the United States were selected several weeks ago and that ex-Senator Carter, of Montana, is one of them. Senator Carter was most active and aggressive in pushing forward Montana's claims during negotiation of the treaty.

I consider that our government has a great opportunity to render a signal service to Canada in the selection of the three Canadian representatives. In my opinion, it is not a question of obtaining gentlemen with legal lore, as the questions which will be involved are engineering questions. We know that continental Europe has been forced through circumstances to reduce transportation to a science. She has been forced to bring her water routes-the very cheapest-to the highest point of development. She has developed energy for industrial purposes in the same way, and in doing so, has made use of electricity for the transmission of power produced from water. Irrigation with her has likewise been brought to the highest point of efficiency, therefore, her engineers have had greater opportunity than has yet been offered in young America, but America is being forced in the same direction, through keen competition. Then, it appears to me that this is

the time for Canada to hunt for a man who stands pre-eminent in that branch of the engineering profession, which this commission will be called upon to deal with, namely, water questions. L'et us get that man, regardless of price or where he comes from,as we need a man with such a reputation that when he speaks he will be listened to throughout Europe as well as America. Having secured such a man, let our government place a copy of the treaty in his hands with instructions to carry on investigations along the international boundary, so that when the five-year period for which the treaty was made comes- to an end, he will be able to point out all the weak places so far as Canada is concerned. Place before him a map of Canada and draw his attention to the vast bodies of water possessed by this country, with streams flowing in almost every direction; point out to him the strategic position this country possesses in the world of commerce, and the vast quantities of raw materials we possess. Tell him to study Canada's problems of industrial development so as to be able to lay down a policy of water-power development and water transportation that will permit this country to get its products into the markets of the world at the lowest possible figure. Then, Sir, every link that we lay down in our transportation system will be -a link in that enlarged plan of'our ultimate aim in the matter of transportation which will enable Canada to be a great country with a prosperous people.

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May 16, 1911


Oh, yes, they cover many pages. The return shows an extraordinary situation for which 1 question if any parallel is to be found in any business organization. Here, we had secured the services of an expert in irrigation to deal with a purely irrigation question, and that expert submitted a lengthy and able report. In the return which has been brought down we find an undated memorandum addressed to the Minister of the Interior by a representative of our government, evidently prepared between the end of 1909 and March, 1910, and in this undated memorandum, Mr. Anderson's views are pulled to pieces by the people who employed him as an expert, instead of throwing Mr. Anderson's opinions and views up against those on the other side of the controversy and following them up by sound argument of our own. I repeat that I question if it is possible to find a parallel for action of that character in any business institution in the wide world It might not be out of place to state here, that the negotiations so far as the United States is concerned, were either conducted by the Technical Officers of the Reclamation Service who were familiar with every foot of the ground, through which these streams run, or when not conducted by them, one or more of those men were at the elbow of those who were in charge of the negotiations. I challenge the government to produce any evidence to show that that was the situation so far as Canada is concerned. Why there was not an expert within one thousand miles of the gentlemen who conducted the negotiations for us. It is true that the Minister of Public Works, when his resolution was before the House, undertook to certify two gentlemen as Irrigation Experts. I am aware that those gentlemen are experts in certain lines, but they would be the last to say that they were in any way expert in water questions, and the minister in attempting to manufacture them into Irrigation Experts simply exposed the weakness of this feature of the case, which I have been largely criticising, and instead of elevating the gentlemen in question into the sphere of Irrigation Experts, he had shown to the country at large his methods of looking after the interests of the people of this country.

At one o'clock, House took recess.

House resumed at three o'clock.

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May 16, 1911


I would now like to trace the evolution in the plana of the United States Reclamation Service for the diversion of water from the St. Mary's river. The Annual Report of the Reclamation Service for 1902 submits complete plans in detail. It was the intention of that service at that time to ibuild a dam fifty feet in height across the St. Mary's river, a short distance below the point where it leaves the lakes. The report, a copy of which is to be found in the library of parliament, shows that a number of borings were taken at various points across the valley of the river to determine the character of the foundations of the dam, and the borings so obtained justified those reputable engineers who have been investing millions of money elsewhere in the United States in connection with similar works, justified them in suggesting a dam of the height named, and which would impound in the reservoir so created in the St. Mary's lakes about 25,000 acre of water. The American canal was to be taken out of the reservoir at practically the river level, or about the bottom of the dam. I am aware from personal observation, that that proposed canal encountered some very heavy side hill cutting during the first seven miles in getting away from the St. Mary's river valley. I am aware that the Reclamation officers were most insistent in those days that that was the only proper way to conserve the waters of St. Mary's river. That they were positive in their statements that Canada had no such opportunities to conserve the total flow of the stream. And, in that I believe they were absolutely correct, because there are no lake areas through which the river flows on the Canadian side and which might be converted into reservoirs.

Possibly, through indifference on the part of our government, the United States became less ambitious to do all the conserving of the waters of the St. Mary's river, and concluded to look after No. 1 only. They changed their plans. They decided to raise the level of their canal some twenty-five feet in order to_ escape the heavy side hill cutting to which I have just referred. That would necessitate that building of a dam twenty-five feet high in order to raise the level of the river to their canal. They then,

' 9!on'c^ded store half the waters of the St. Mary's river, which necessitated carrying their dam some fifteen feet higher-those are the plans so far as they are known at the present time.

Then the Reclamation officers set about to demonstrate that Canada had excellent opportunities to store water within her territory- We find on page 72 of the Return the following extract in a letter from Secretary Bate, dated Washington, February 9,

Mr. REID (Grenville)

The natural conditions north of the International boundary in Canada are more favourable for water storage at reduced cost and with great assurance of permanency and safety of the structure.

It is regrettable to think that Canada did not appear to have any one sufficiently acquainted with this matter to have pointed out to our American friends the position taken by their own reputable engineers a few years previously, and I say. that it is humiliating to be told by a prominent engineer in the United States, an engineer who has not been in any way connected with the Canadian government case, that the trouble with Canada in this controversy was, that she had no one connected' with the case who had any knowledge of irrigation. The engineer who made that statement to me did not know that Mr. G. G. Anderson had been called in, and to whom, I propose referring very briefly in a few moments. -

Why did our government not insist upon the price being paid which the Right Honourable gentleman referred to in addressing the House in May, 1909? He told us that when we were giving the use of the Milk river channel through Canada to the United States which made the American project feasible, we were given that right because we were going to havfe immense reclamation works established by the United States which would be a benefit to my constituents during the long summer months. Evidently some reason appeared in the horizon of the government between May, 1909, and that well known month of March, 1910, when the American surtax was likely to be put into effect against this country on the 31st day of that month, and all on account of some treaty-making jaunts to Europe wherein seme European countries have special privileges in trading in toilet soaps in Canada. We all remember how our friends opposite appeared so pleased when the Honourable Minister of Finance reached a settlement with the executive of the United States in connection with the matter. When it was announced that commercial interests of this country were not to ibe penalized in the markets of the United States because the Honourable Minister of Finance gave that country some privileges in the matter of trading in peanuts and a few other minor articles in this country. I am disposed to think that we were told on that occasion that the slate had better 'be cleaned and the outstanding questions between the two countries settled. _ If my view is right in that respect,

I am disposed to think that Southern Alberta is paying pretty dearly for the privileges that Canada has of securing cheap European soap. Now, as to the methods pursued by our government in this

matter, the return that has been brought down to this House makes most interesting reading. It shows that the government secured the services of George G. Anderson, a prominent Consulting Irrigation Engineer of Denver, Colorado. The government is to be commended for that because Mr. Anderson is one of the first men in the irrigation profession in America. That, I am aware, is a mere statement, but it can be verified by any one who wishes to write to any financial institution in the State of Colorado. Mr. Anderson was well qualified to deal with the matter because he had been the consulting engineer of the three large Canadian Irrigation enterprises, first, the Alberta Irrigation Company, second, the Canadian Pacific railway irrigation project, and lastly, with the Southern Alberta Land Company, which is operating in the neighbourhood of Medicine Hat. The Return shows that Mr. Anderson submitted an extensive and valuable re. port, dated 22nd April, 1908, giving in detail the history of the questions involved in reference to the division of the waters of the St. Mary's and Milk rivers, and suggested a division that would yield the greatest good to the greatest area, Tegardless of the International" boundary, a principle that I believe should be applied between friendly people and we have heard considerable recently of how friendly we are with our neighbour in this and other questions. We have no evidence that his views were in any way put forward before the American representatives. Then the Treaty was negotiated in the following January, and we had a discussion in this House in May, 1909. It had to pass into the Senate of the United States and a representative of the people there felt that the interests of the people he represented were not being properly protected, and he had a rider attached to the treaty which necessitated its being sent to our government for acceptance. For some reason, not disclosed in the correspondence, Mr. Anderson's services were again brought into commission, and we find a report from him, dated at Denver, 18th September, 1909, in which he criticises the settlement as arranged in article 6. The opening paragraph of his report is as follows:

Thorough and careful consideration of the provisions of the treaty.

It is a pity, Sir, that our representative did not treat the subject in the same way.

Thorough and careful consideration of the treaty with the United States relating to boundary waters and questions arising along the boundary between Canada and the United States signed at Washington, January 11, 1909, so far as the provisions affect the waters of the St. Mary and Milk rivers and their tributaries compels the conviction that they are greatly unjust to the interests of Canada, and for the following reasons.

Now, I do not propose to indulge in any technical discussion of this subject, nor to follow Mr. Anderson in his report beyond making a couple of references thereto.

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May 16, 1911


No, I was not at all aware of it.

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