Martha Louise BLACK

BLACK, Martha Louise

Personal Data

Independent Conservative
Yukon (Yukon)
Birth Date
February 24, 1866
Deceased Date
October 31, 1957
author, homemaker

Parliamentary Career

October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
  Yukon (Yukon)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2 of 6)

January 17, 1939


I believe that was done in I860, but the permission was revoked after six years. At one time there was a Canadian customs office in Skagway. The stars and stripes and the union jack flew side by side. That was a great convenience, but unfortunately some one with more of what he thought was patriotism than brains objected to " that rag," as he called the union jack, flying in God's country. I was not a British subject at the time, but I stepped up to him and I said, " Another fool " 1 He looked at me and said, " That is like all you English women." I said, "As it happens I am the eighth generation bom and brought up in the United States." I told him that that had been done for the convenience of Yukoners going through United States territory. I told him that the United States would have to apologize, that Canada would have to accept the apology, but that the Yukoners would have to have their baggage and other possessions examined at the summit. So I suggest that if the road is built, it should be understood that we have a free port of entry at Skagway.

It is difficult for Alaskans and Yukoners to put up with the tariffs between the two countries when they pass from one country to the other. Perhaps this trade agreement of which we have heard so much will change conditions, but at any rate if the road comes to pass, as it probably will-the Hudson Bay railway came to pass-we should try to get the best bargain we possibly can. My confreres in the United States are good bargainers. I say that without any disrespect. I come from a family of down-east Yankees who made money selling wooden nutmegs. If they could do that then, I am sure they have not lost that ability at the present time.

When coming to the house many members display a spirit of optimism, while many others display a spirit of pessimism. We in the Yukon have been greatly favoured by not having the large numbers of unemployed that you have on the outside. A few drifters came in this summer, one or two of whom did not want to work. However, I must say that I believe I could count on the fingers of one hand the men who did not want work. One man came to me and said that he was tired of trying to get work. I asked him if he had tried pick-and-shovel work. When he told me he had not, I asked him what he had come there for. He said, "I heard you say that the Yukon was a place where every man could get a job." I said, "I may have said that, but what I meant was that every man who wanted a job could get a job provided he was willing to do gruelling, back-breaking work." I told him he could not get anything for nothing in that country. He leaned back and looked at me and said that I was a fine member. He told me, "The government has to take care of me or else send me out." It is not often that I lose my temper, but I did then. I used language that he understood. I am sure

The Address-Mrs. Black

you would ask me to retract that language, Mr. Speaker, if I used it here. I said to him, "Why don't you walk from here to Skagway?" He said, "How far?" I told him it was only about four hundred miles. He said, "What do you mean by insulting me?" I said, "My husband and my brother have walked that distance and they are much better men than you will be even though you live to be a thousand." He said, "This is no country for a white man to live in." Under the circumstances, I was forced to agree with him.

The Yukon is a good country; it is a cruel country; it is a kind country; it is a wicked country. It is a country that you can love; it is a country that you can hate, depending upon your attitude. I have lived there for forty years; I have travelled from one end of Canada to the other, as well as across the United States; I have travelled overseas; but I have never in my life seen a country that could thrill me as does the Yukon. We have our cruelties; we have our hardships; we have our glories, and we have our magnificent summers. We have our flowers, our vegetables, our gold and silver, but only when we work for them. If we come down here, it is because we have worked, not because we have sat back and folded our hands.

I wish that hon. members were more familiar with that country. Then, instead of smiling when I ask for a favour, instead of thinking that the Yukon wants all and gives nothing, they would remember the many men from that part of the country who have paid off the mortgages on their farms; they would remember the many men who served overseas during the great war. Out of a population of less than 5,000, over 500 men enlisted before conscription was brought in. All of us are ready to serve this country in time of peace and in time of war. We pray for the glory of peace and hope for its beauty.

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January 17, 1939


Mr. Speaker, I should like to add my word of congratulation to the mover and the seponder of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. Especially do I wish to congratulate that younger member, the hon. member for Stormont (Mr. Chevrier). It has been my good fortune to know the hon. gentleman rather well, and when I see a young man speaking with equal facility in both French and English I am really consumed with envy. Ever since I have lived in this country, which has been for forty years now, and have known it as a bilingual country, I have felt it a shame that the young people of this day and age, as of forty years ago, have not been taught to speak both French and English. We have in the hon. member for Stormont a shining example of what the young people of to-day should know.

Perhaps it is unnecessary for me to touch upon the trade agreement. More and more as I come here each session I have a feeling of isolation; I feel more and more that I am alone. It is not that every individual member is not exceedingly kind and courteous; it is because of the fact that my constituency is so isolated and so far away from the rest of Canada. The trade agreement affects us not at all. In that north land we produce only the mediums of exchange, namely, gold and silver. When times are prosperous in Canada-or, as we in the north call it, on the outside-we pay higher prices for the goods we purchase. When depression is rampant throughout the country we are able to get our goods for less. So I think hon. members will understand when I say that from a selfish standpoint the trade agreement affects us not at all.

It seems to me that we on this continent are singularly blessed in the peace that we have, outwardly at least, throughout the country. We are free to use our own language. We are free to worship in whatever church we choose. We are free to move about whither we will. There is no one to say us nay, no one to regiment us as the peoples of Europe are regimented. I have been both shocked and surprised in reading papers throughout Canada

The Address-Mrs. Black

to see that other people are demanding the rights of -their languages. I have not been afraid that either this government or any future government will listen to those demands, because any government must have before it the horrible example of the continent of Europe, with its multiplicity of languages, which has become a modern tower of Babel. That factor must account for much of the trouble taking place in Europe at the present time.

During the September crisis we in the Yukon heard the voice of the world over the radio. We were thousands of miles from London, the heart of empire; yet there was not a heart in the Yukon but beat in unison with the tragedy which was taking place overseas. There was no one who did not feel the greatest amount of sympathy for that Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain. Not only did he turn the other cheek to the enemy but he turned it several times. Certainly he must have suffered the greatest agony of humiliation when undergoing what he did. But in undergoing that, while thoughtlessly many people have said -that he gave away much that he should not have given away, for the time being at least he saved the world from a horrible slaughter.

Yesterday afternoon when the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) spoke, I heard him say that the danger was not past, a fact which I believe we all realize. Only the cool heads will be able to stave off the danger a little longer, and yet a little longer, until possibly the world may realize the utter madness of another holocaust such as those of us who are older went through between 1914 and 1918. There is nothing for a government to do but to do the best it can in times of such anxiety. Those of us who are not responsible can sit on the side lines and criticize. It is very easy to find fault; it is easy to criticize. But I sometimes wonder how much better we could have done ourselves. I doubt if there are many of us who would have done even as well. During the crisis the Yukon was deeply interested, dreading the thought of war. Yet at the same time every heart beat in unison with the empire and every person was willing to do as was done in the days of 1914, 1915 and 1916. If needs be, they were ready to answer the call of king and country.

Changing the subject very quickly, we come to the pleasant thought of the visit of Their Majesties, the King and Queen. In 1937 I had the privilege of suggesting to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) that silver coinage be issued by the government to

commemorate the coronation. Not for one moment do I intimate that the minister followed my suggestion. But the fact remains that silver coinage was issued, and among my few souvenirs I cherish the coin issued at that time, as well as the silver dollar issued at the time of the silver jubilee.

We see by the papers the government will again issue souvenirs by way of silver coinage and stamps. I am particularly interested in the issue of silver because in the Yukon there is a large territory in the Mayo district devoted to silver lead mining. As hon. members from British Columbia will no doubt point out, that province also is interested in silver mining, and anything that can be done to encourage our miners will surely be of infinite help to that class of people, upon whom many governments depend.

In the royal couple about to visit this country we have a fine example of manhood and womanhood in the British Empire. Suddenly these two people were called upon to fill a staggeringly difficult position. Neither one of them had trained deliberately to occupy a throne. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is a commoner, though of royal descent through the female line. The king was a prince occupying a secondary position. Yet in the twinkling of an eye those young people accepted a huge responsibility. No one in the world can say they have not filled the position thus far with grace and dignity not only to themselves but to the empire at large. Courageously and prayerfully they are carrying on. We owe them a great debt and our best efforts to make their lives happier and easier. They are coming to Canada and from one end of the country to the other every respect is to be shown them.

Unfortunately the Yukon is not to be visited by the royal couple, but I am free to say that Yukoners one and all feel a steadfast loyalty and fealty to- those young people who are carrying on so bravely and so well. Possibly they are fortunate in the example which has been set them by the late King George Y and his royal consort Queen- Mary for whom the world has the greatest affection. Although I was born and brought- up in the republic to the south of us, from girlhood I was trained by a grandmother who had strict old country ideas, and later by the sisters of the Holy Cross I was taught to look on England as-a shining example of what royalty could show to the rest of the world. That was taught, despite that conduct of England towards the colonies which made them rebel. Queen Victoria, later her son, then her grandson and then her great grandson have all been

The Address-Mrs. Black

familiar figures to me, both from reading and through conversation at home and at school. I have lived here now for forty years and have grown to realize what this country can be, what it has been and, pray God, what it will be for many years to come.

It is possible that the most interesting thing to us in the Yukon at the present time is the Alaska-Yukon highway. Many years ago the building of the road was advocated, and I well remember when Mr. Tolmie, the then premier of British Columbia, in the company of his ministers, took a trip as far as he could in northern British Columbia. My husband was appointed a member of the Canadian commission, and he now has in his office hundreds of photographs, surveys, letters and reports dealing with that road. I could give to the house a hundred reasons why the road should be built, and possibly I could give as many why it should not. If the road is built, I trust that men who know that northern country will be put in charge. It will be an enormously expensive work. The government of Canada cannot afford it, and certainly the government of British Columbia, debt-ridden as it is, cannot afford it.

We are told by the public men of the United States that that country wants this road for defence purposes. We have to face the fact that should- the United States be at war, Canada would be at war. We have to face the fact that if any untoward incident brings Canada into a war, the United States will be at war. That country could not stand by and see Canada fall. That would be impossible. She would not allow foreigners to touch Canadian territory any more than we would feel that we could allow foreigners to touch United States territory. The United States wants the road, and if the government is going to allow it to be built, I would urge that the United States be asked to pay every cent of the cost of building the road through Canadian territory, employing only Canadian labour and giving to Canada a free port of entry at Skagway. Some hon. members may smile at the mention of a free port of entry at Skagway, but we have a precedent. A free port of entry was allowed during the reign of Queen Victoria at Sault Ste. Marie and in the Gaspe.

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June 20, 1938


Like the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil), I never see a young man walking the streets, begging, but I say, "There, but for the grace of God, goes my boy." I have felt keenly this sit-down strike in Vancouver; I have kept thoroughly posted regarding it from members of the government and from friends in Vancouver, and I have wondered just what would be the outcome. It is a matter of absolute indifference to me what promises the politicians made in 1930. It is a matter of absolute indifference to me what promises the politicians made in 1935. But it is not a matter of indifference to me what we in this house are going to do to-day for the good of our country. Law and order must prevail. There is no doubt at all about that. But we have been taught that we can temper justice with mercy. No matter what efforts or what suggestions the government put forth to help these unemployed, notwithstanding the crime that they have committed -for they did commit a crime when they occupied federal buildings-no matter what the government will propose in order to help them, I would certainly support that government to the best of my ability, in the house and out of it.

This is a time for us to consider not so much party as men. We have a very difficult, a very peculiar situation confronting us. Thousands are out of employment. It is not a question of whether they are taking part in a sit-down strike, or whether they belong to this party or that; the question is, What are we going to do to help make those men worthy citizens, not of British Columbia or of Saskatchewan or Ontario, but of Canada? If the time should come when the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) needs men, he will take them from all over Canada, irrespective of provinces; he is not going to ask what is their place of birth, their home or their residence. Two-thirds of these young men have no homes. They have left their families; they have drifted, as other hon. members have said, from place to place, from the coast on the east to the coast on the west. They cannot go back to the widowed mother who is trying to take care of other children; they cannot possibly go back to * their homes, under other circumstances. We must do something for those men. There is no territory and no province in the matter of unemployment; it is a problem of vital interest to everyone.

I have felt the utmost pity for and sympathy with the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers).


Unemployment-Vancouver Situation

I believe that he has honestly tried to do his best. We do not always agree. I have not felt that invariably he has done what others might well have done. However, for eight years the governments-we, you and I, men and women all over this country-have been building roads to perdition for our young people. We have been helping them on this downward path. Now, I say, it is time we built a better road. It is time we gave these men work and ceased to plead that we have not the money; for if this building, which cost many millions of dollars, were burned down to-day, there would be plenty of millions available to rebuild it. On occasions of great stress and emergency the money is always to be found.

As I said before, it is a matter of perfect indifference to me what this or some other government promised. It is a matter of indifference to me what comments are made by newspapers on the other side of the line, how bitterly they criticize our Canada. It is impossible to pick up a paper published on the other side without reading of rape, murder, arson and kidnapping; but if we, a puny ten millions, have a paltry sit-down strike, others criticize us. Let them begin at home. Let us begin at home. From the bottom of my heart I as a mother plead with the government to try to find work for the unemployed, not merely in British Columbia or somewhere in the east, but throughout Canada, in the spirit in which we speak of 'her when we say:

The wholesome sea is at her gates,

Her gates both east and west.

Let us see to it that while we enforce justice, law and order, we also enforce help for the under-dog. No one can uphold those who disobey the law; but let us from now on give those men work, so that they will have no cause to disobey the law, and will become a source of pride to us and to our country.

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June 8, 1938


May I say a few words, as probably the only member who can hope for nothing from this bill? It has been said that at thirty-fire years of age the house would be too old. Our homes in Dawson are built largely on a glacier. The home in which I live, a frame house, is almost forty years old. It still stands; it is still comfortable and I expect to live in it as long as our people up there send us here.

Mr. 0. B. ELLIOTT (Kindersley): From

the experience of the last three years' operation of the Dominion Housing Act it would seem that it is almost hopeless to look for any loans from the lending institutions, apparently because the returns to the insurance companies have not been sufficient to induce them to take part in this work. I was glad to hear the minister refer to the insurance companies Last year I tried to obtain a loan personally from different insurance companies in Edmonton for the purpose of building a home for myself. I was prepared to put up more than the twenty per cent equity and to comply with all the regulations. I had plans for the home and I approached several of the insurance companies as well as mortgage companies, but they would not give the cooperation they promised in connection with the Dominion Housing Act. I even went to the mayor of the city of Edmonton and called up several insurance companies, but with the same result. They say they have not made loans for the last seven years in Alberta, and that suggested to me that it was not because of any opposition at that time to the social credit government.

The city of Edmonton during the fall embarked upon a plan with money obtained, I believe, from the dominion government for unemployment relief. The plan was quite successful. They built several apartments and private homes, apparently to the satisfaction of those who were in charge of the project. Of course, as the minister pointed out, the city has a large number of vacant lots and these were utilized for the purpose. The only fly in the ointment is the increase in the price of materials that have been going into homes. There has been a constant increase, in the western provinces at any rate, in the price of materials, especially plumbing. The remarks of the minister in that respect are therefore opportune and I wish at this stage to commend the government. I think they are to be congratulated on bringing in this legislation, because it is certainly required in the western provinces in 51U52-233J

both the urban and the rural municipalities. The municipalities themselves can make good use of the money. I would ask the minister what the maximum amount of interest will be to the private individual who builds a home. Will the maximum be 1| or 2 per cent?

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May 23, 1938


If he was in good health.

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