Mr. G. R. WEBB (Leeds):
Mr. Speaker, it is rather a coincidence that the hon. member who has just taken his seat (Mr. Lionel Bertrand) made a speech on the same subject that I wish to discuss. I am sure his speech will be found to support what I have to say, and I trust that what I say will bear out what he has said with reference to the tourist traffic.
Before this debate closes I wish to speak briefly in the interests of the tourist industry in Canada, and the crying need for further attractions and accommodations of all kinds, particularly in the way of additional and improved and well equipped national parks. Especially am I interested in this as it applies to Leeds, the constituency I have the honour 5849-106
to represent in the house, and if hon. members will bear with me I would like to give the house a brief description of my county- hence you will understand just why I am particularly interested in this industry.
Leeds county has been so landscaped by nature that the changing beauty extends from the St. Lawrence river on the south, with its fairy groups of islands, to the Rideau chain of lakes on the north, which, with its hundreds of land-locked and connecting lakes, offers to the angler and to the vacationist opportunities conceded to be unsurpassed. The county of Leeds is favourably situated on No. 2 highway, half way between the city of Toronto on the west and the city of Montreal on the east, the two largest cities in Canada. Within its own borders are situated the attractive industrial towns of Brockville and Gananoque on the St. Lawrence river, and many beautiful and busy villages both on the St. Lawrence and in the Rideau lakes district, all well equipped to take care of the tourist's every need. It is a vacation land without a superior, within a day's drive of more than a third of the population of the United States.
The hon. member for London spoke in this house a few days ago, lauding the city of London, but lamenting the difficulty of being "fenced in" by government-owned property.
I am glad to say that in my county of Leeds no such condition exists. Urban centres have plenty of wide-open spaces for expansion, and not even imaginary boundaries between rural and urban peoples exist. Here friendship knows no bounds. This is our great asset, as the people tilling the soil make up our largest population, and without their efforts and co-operation our hopes for success would be futile.
Overlooking the St. Lawrence river for forty * miles is the scenic highway, running from Brockville to Gananoque, and passing different points of interest along the way. Along this highway, and located at Ivy Lea, is the new Thousand Islands bridge, the only bridge connecting Canada and the United States between Cornwall and Niagara Falls. This particular point is in the heart of the Thousand Islands and gives an unsurpassed view of the scenic grandeur of the islands. Tour boats run regular trips along this waterway, and the visitor misses an unforgettable experience if the trip among the islands is not included in his vacation itinerary.
Now that I have taken you for a short trip through my riding you will understand why I am deeply interested in adequate accommodation and entertainment for our guests.
A short time ago I was tremendously impressed by a headline in a Canadian newspaper which read1: "Tourists mean more than
The Address-Mr. Webb
money", and "Is it possible that by constantly emphasizing the money value of the tourist trade, we are in danger of unwittingly doing ourselves an injury? Every year those in charge of our tourist activities put out statements estimating what it has meant to Canada in dollars and cents to entertain so many hundreds of thousands of visitors during the season and nearly always there is a comparison with other seasons."
Quite naturally the average merchant judges a tourist season by the amount of money he receives from tourist patronage. If his sales to tourists are up, it is a good season. If they are down, it is not a success. Similarly, operators of hotels, eating houses, filling stations, overnight cabins and all the other establishments which benefit from tourist custom are inclined to assess a season by the amount of tourist money that enters their tills. It has been said that some people are not above having special prices for tourists which differ from those charged the domestic trade. I cannot vouch for the correctness of such a statement.
From my point of view the great and growing tourist business of Canada ought to mean, and does mean, something more than the money that accompanies it. For one thing, it cannot fail to do a great deal to promote international understanding, something that is needed more and more in this world where it is so often lacking. Americans and others who visit Canada, and Canadians who visit the United States, and other countries, as large numbers of them do from year to year, must obtain a new appreciation and understanding of the countries visited and of their inhabitants. The more contacts we have these days between the peoples of different countries, the better for their understanding and the better for the future peace of the world. Therefore if we in Canada welcome and serve our guests in such a way that they will carry home friendship and understanding, I firmly believe the monetary side of the picture will take care of itself. Canada has much to offer to tourists, but to make it a lasting business we must be prepared in the face of competition to give value at all times, and make sure they at least carry away friendship and understanding.
Masses of figures showing the money value of tourists have been recorded, and I am not going to labour the point as to the money value of the tourist industry to Canada. I believe we all appreciate it to the full.
I said Canada has much to offer - the question is how are we going to sell it to the world? Many opinions enter into this phase of the subject. Time at my disposal does not
[Mr. Webb. |
permit me to do more than mention a few of the suggestions I believe might be considered.
During the tourist season our hotels, tourist resorts, and all available accommodation are taxed to capacity, and doing a pretty good job, but if we are to take care of this ever-increasing population someone must be responsible for further accommodation. However, I shall touch on this later.
We have always considered two or three months in the summer as the tourist season, but I believe Canadians should begin to realize the recreational value of their winters. We should accept the responsibility of advancing in large print to the world the winter fairyland we have to offer, and promote to our. own people the idea that we have a greater opportunity than ever before for development of winter vacation places. So many more young people have become accustomed by war service conditions to outdoor life, that it is only natural there will be an urge for winter sports, not only on the part of those who have learned to ski while in northern posts, but those who seek a change from the southern climates. I maintain that the development of winter use of hotels, cabins and hostels will enable those who manage them to undertake much improvement rvhich would not be justified by shortterm summer patronage alone.
As our national parks are closely linked with the tourist industry, I have a few words to say as to their value in meeting the desires of the tourist. I have spoken briefly on this matter at least three times in this house, and I may say that after talking with hundreds of visitors, I am convinced that national parks are among our greatest tourist lures. I am not familiar with the great national parks in western Canada, but I can say without fear of contradiction that in eastern Canada accommodation falls far short of demand. I submit that my riding, the county of Leeds, is in a specially favourable position for a major development in the form of a national park in the Rideau lakes area. Possibly in all fairness to the hon. member for Lanark (Mr. Blair) I should take in a piece of Lanark.
In the days of the depression, and later on during the war, the government found it necessary to economize drastically in all park expenditures; but surely the time has arrived when all existing parks will be put in first-class condition with good supervision, and, where co-operation with provincial and municipal governments can be obtained, some new parks will be opened up. Again I submit that my own riding, the county of Leeds, is
The Address-Mr. Maclnnis
the ideal place to start and I feel sure every co-operation will be extended by all concerned.
Many unfavourable reports of late have been circulated regarding the treatment of tourists and others at border points. These reports may be exaggerations, and I hope they are, as I have always received the most courteous treatment from officials. However, officials at border points receive their instructions from Ottawa, and if these instructions are too drastic we should place the blame on those in charge in Ottawa, not on the officials at the border, as they are only carrying out the duties assigned to them. And while it is necessary to have regulations, I submit that the government should make them as palatable as possible, removing all unnecessary bars. I am sure border officials will enforce them with the greatest of courtesy to men and women of good will.
There is one other type of visitor who can hardly be classed as a "tourist," and for whom I have the greatest admiration; I refer to the summer resident. These people were visitors to Canada; and so favourably were they impressed with our way of life and our geographical location for summer sports and recreation that they invested large sums of money in substantial homes, and their annual return, like that of the swallow, seems to bring the welcome promise of warm weather and sunny skies. I shall not go into the monetary advantages of having these temporary residents with us, as they are too obvious; but in spite of their value to our welfare, they are perhaps the least important of the benefits we receive.
The hon. member for Lambton West in his speech asked for a separate ministry to administer the tourist business. While it may be said this will add to the cost of the government, I must agree-with all due credit to Mr. Leo Dolan, director of the Canadian government travel bureau-that this is no one-man job. If the tourist business is to go ahead on a businesslike basis, if we cannot have a separate ministry I suggest the formation of a dominion commission which will carry on without change despite a reversal of party or government. It is essential that such a commission be formed at once in order to give the tourist business an incentive and the study it deserves; and with the heavy responsibilities which the Minister of Trade and Commerce already has, I should think he would welcome such a suggestion.
Today, when any road will lead to the ends of the world, travel is prescribed for ills of both body and mind because of the new scenes and ideas which divert the mind from 5849-106*
the old emotions. Tomorrow's citizen will be a great traveller. He will demand the best in travel by rail, by road, on water, or in the air. He will want comfortable and good living accommodation. He will demand value for his money, and there will be keen competition for his patronage. In supplying his needs, Canada will have a great opportunity.
I submit the tourist industry should be given high priority by federal, provincial, and municipal governments in partnership with private enterprise in the development of the tourist industry in Canada. I trust my few submissions will receive favourable consideration by the departments of government interested.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY