William THOBURN

THOBURN, William

Personal Data

Party
Conservative (1867-1942)
Constituency
Lanark North (Ontario)
Birth Date
April 14, 1847
Deceased Date
January 23, 1928
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Thoburn_(politician)
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=e6ff10cd-b633-4ffa-baba-3be20ae91f85&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
woollens manufacturer

Parliamentary Career

October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
CON
  Lanark North (Ontario)
September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
CON
  Lanark North (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 23 of 26)


April 13, 1909

Mr. THOBURN.

No.

Topic:   THE WOOLLEN INDUSTRY.
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April 13, 1909

Mr. THOBURN.

If I may be perinitted to answer the hon. gentleman, I may say that I pointed out clearly that when the woollen industry of this country was in a flourishing condition, there was a much higher price paid for wool, with the duty as it is at the present time. If the hon. gentleman will take my advice and rearrange the tariff on woollen goods, I cannot see why that state of affairs should not come around again, from the natural demand that will be created by the increased manufacture of woollen goods in Canada, and the increased price of wool to the Canadian farmer. I pointed out that there was a time when we paid as much as 52 cents a pound for Canadian wool, with the duty just the same as it is now. Why were we able to do that? Simply because the mills were all in operation, using Canadian wool. But owing to the change in the tariff on the manufactured article, there has been such an importation of English woollen goods into this country that they have displaced the demand for Canadian wool, and consequently the price of Canadian wool decreased until it has reached the price at which it stands to-day. Just what corresponding duty would be required on the manufactured article if you put ten cents a pound on wool I am not prepared to say. I am not engaged in the manufacture of tweeds; I am engaged in the manufacture of flannels, and speak from that standpoint; but I would not like to speak for the general manufacturers of tweeds in the Dominion of Canada.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE WOOLLEN INDUSTRY.
Subtopic:   THOS. DELWORTH,
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April 13, 1909

Mr. THOBURN.

For the information of the hon. membeT for Strathcona (Mr. Wilbert McIntyre) I may say that his Temarks indicate one of the difficulties that have always existed in this discussion-there is such a wide misapprehension of the facts. The hon. gentleman says that he believes the woollen manufacturers have a protection to the extent of 30 or 35 per cent. I want him to understand that I have been struggling under a duty of only 22J per cent.

Topic:   THE WOOLLEN INDUSTRY.
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April 13, 1909

Mr. THOBURN.

Such a difference is an utter impossibility because the product of an employee in a woollen factory is principally turned out by machinery; it is not the same as two labourers working in competition; it would be impossible to get the machine to turn out double the quantity in this country that it would in England.

Topic:   THE WOOLLEN INDUSTRY.
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April 13, 1909

Mr. WM. THOBURN (North Lanark).

Mr. Speaker, as a new member of this ' House, I crave the indulgence of the members for a short time while 1 discuss this question in which I am so very much interested. The remarks which I have to make may not be clothed in that grammatical form which is familiar to hon. members on both sides, owing to the fact that I have not been blessed with a college education nor with a grammar school education, nor even with an ordinary common 'school education. I have had to earn my living since before I was ten years of age; so that if the hon. member for South Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) is a fair specimen of the farming community of this c untry, I claim to be a fair specimen of the working men of this country. Now, Mr. Speaker, the remarks which I have to make refer to a very large number of the worKmg men, the working women, the working boys and the working girls of Canada who are engaged in the woollen industry. My remarks are not made from a theoretical standpoint or from what I have heard or read, but they are made from 28 years of hard practical experience. I have been here on several deputations to this government asking for a revision of the woollen tariff. I do not know whether the hon. Finance Minister is going to ask me before I am through what it is we want: if he is, I will answer him to the best of my ability. Although several deputations on behalf of the woollen industry have waited on the government during recent years, nothing has been done by the government other than to send to Great Britain a commissioner to investigate the causes of the difference in cost of manufacture in Great Britain and in Canada. I have the report of that commissioner, and I will say on behalf of the woollen manufacturers of Canada that we are thankful that the government have done even that much, because if they take the trouble to examine this report, they will realize the great disadvantage under which the Canadian woollen manufacturers labour as compared with the woollen manufacturers of Great Britain. The report is addressed to Mr. John Me-

Dougald, Commissioner of Customs, Ottawa, Canada, and it says:

Inclosed herewith is a complete list of wages that are now being paid in the districts of Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield to operatives in the manufacture of woollens and worsteds, when paid by the days or by the week.

After going very fully into the cost of the various branches of manufacture, the report says:

In order to make a comparison between the cost of manufacturing in Canada and in Great Britain, it would, in my opinion, be necessary to take into account the following items: 1, wages; 2 more expensive factory buildings; 3, extra cost of heating; 4, additional buildings; 5, extra capital employed in carrying larger stocks; 6, higher rate of interest on money; 7, increased cost of machinery; 8, more expensive motive power; 9, owing to Canadian mills having a limited market, they are compelled to show a large number of designs each season, and manufacture from comparatively short warps, which interferes with production and increases cost; 10, the specialization which is so general in Yorkshire has many advantages in lowering the cost of production.

In order to ascertain the actual difference in the cost of producing goods in Great Britain and in Canada, I have gone to the trouble of getting comparisons of five of the principal items enumerated in this list: 1, wages; 2, higher rate of interest charged in Canada as compared with Great Britain; 3, extra cost of fuel; 4, more expensive factory buildings; 5, increased cost of machinery. I took that report to a woollen manufacturer, who has a factory similar in size to the one on which the commissioner apparently based this report, that is, a ten-set mill, or one with ten sets of cards. I took it to the Rosamond woollen company mill of Almonte, which is conducted on the best principles, a mill whose exhibit of tweeds at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia captured the gold medal against all American competition.

A woollen mill is divided into some eight or ten different parts. I have taken the five principal parts and made a comparison in respect of these between the factories in Great Britain and those in Canada. There are what we call the dye-house, the scouring plant, the carding room, the spinning room, the weaving and finishing room. These are the five principal rooms. While there are several others, these are the most important and are the ones with respect to the operation of which I have compared the prices. Here are the wages given by the commissioner, whom we sent to England, as paid in Great Britain and those paid for similar help in Canada. First, take the dye house. In Britain the overseers receive $12.16 per week. In Canada 1314

we pay them $20 per week. In England, the labourers who work under .the overseers, receive from $5.16 to $7 per week. In this country we pay them $8 per week. In the carding room, the overseers in Britain are paid from $14.60 to $17.04 a week and in this country they get $24 per week. Their under help receive in Britain $6 per week and in this country $8. The women and girls employed in those rooms receive in Britain $3.65 per week and we pay them $6.16. In the spinning department, the overseers receive on the otheT side $9.73 a week and in. this country $18 per week. The men working under them receive $3.40 per w'eek in Britain as compared with $7.40 per week in this country. In the weaving department, the overseers receive in Britain from $12.16 to $13.38 per wTeek and we pay them $18. Their assistants get on the other side $4.87 to $6.33 per week as compared with $11.20 on this side. In the finishing denartment, the overseers in Britain receive $8.52 to $9.73 per week and we pay them $18. The boys and girls in the different departments in the finishing room, receive in Britain from $2.43 to $2.92 per week, whereas we pay them from $5.40 to $6.16. Then the mechanics are paid in Britain $8.36 per week whereas here they get $10.12.

Those are the differences in wages paid in the five principal branches in a woollen mill, comparing the two countries. A very important question, to my mind, was to find out what difference that would make, comparing a mill of this country with one of similar size in the old land. I asked the Rosamond Woollen Mill Company if they would kindly let me know what their annual pay-roll amounted to. They replied that it amounted to $82,000 per annum, exclusive of office help. The difference in the rates of wages between the two countries, taking it at a very low average, would amount to 50 per cent in favour of the mother country, and in that average I think I am rather under the estimate according to the commissioner's report. How does that work out in a mill, the size of the one I have referred to? The Rosamond Woollen Company pay $82,000 in wages per annum. A mill of similar size in the old country would pay only $55,000 per annum. In other words if you add 50 per cent to the $55,000 you have $82,000. So that a mill of the size of the Rosamond Woollen Mill in Canada is paying $27,000 a year more in wages than a mill of similar size in Great Britain.

The next item that struck me is the difference in the cost of money in Canada as compared with Great Britain. Nobody knows that difference better than the hon. the Minister of Finance. When I say that it takes a pretty solid industry in Canada to get money at 6 per cent, 1 am putting the rate as low as possible. How does that compare with the rate in Great Britain? I

have had money myself in an indirect way on goods shipped to this country, sold strictly on a cash basis, from the time the goods were shipped until the money was paid, and I was charged a rate of 2i per cent per annum. But I am basing my calculations on a rate of 4 per cent in the old country, which I think is reasonable compared with 6 per cent in Canada. How does that work out in a plant the size of the one I have referred to? They have in use in that concern no less than half a million dollars, which, at 6 per cent, gives $30,000 interest per annum. A concern requiring the same amount of money in the old country can get it at 4 per cent or $20,000 interest, would have to pay $20,000 in interest, showing a difference against the Canadian manufacturer, in the case of a mill of similar size, of $10,000 per annum. The next item is the cost of fuel. In the old country, fuel costs exactly one-half, perhaps a little less, what it does in this country. A mill, such as the one I have referred to, uses $6,000 worth of fuel in a year. A mill of similar size in the old country will consume $3,000 worth of fuel. In other words it costs the Canadian manufacturer $3,000 more for fuel than it does the British manufacturer and he has to use more. The next item is the cost of buildings and machinery. Let me cite an actual occurrence. A couple of years ago the Rosamond Woollen Company advertised for tenders for the erection of a large weaving shed. The building was to be a large one of either brick or stone covered with iron. The lowest tender was $28,000, and the parties thought the price so enormous that they gave up the idea of erecting the building. Shortly afterwards^ one of the members of the firm had occasion to visit the old country for the purpose of purchasing some woollen machinery. While there in" conversation with some manufacturers, he happened to refer to the building of this weaving shed. They asked him to submit plans and they would get an estimate. He gave them the dimensions, and to his utter astonishment, the estimated cost was $18,000 for a building for the construction of which $28,000 was the lowest bid on this side. That makes a difference between the two of 55 per cent. How does that apply to a plant similar to the one I have referred to? *The cost of the building in that town was $130,000-a magnificent stone building, no better in the Dominion for its size." But in the old country a building of the same proportions would cost 55 per .cent cheaper.

In other words, a building that, in this country, would cost $130,000 could be built m the old country for $84,000. There is the difference in that item alone, of $46,000. The interest on_ this^ amount is $2,760 a year. The next item is the machinery. In that plant, the machinery cost $150,000. I' Mr. THOBURN.

think there is about 37i or 38 per cent dif-fernce in the cost of machinery in Canada as compared with the old country. It may not be quite that now, but at the time these mills were supplied with machinery the difference was actually greater, the Canadian manufacturer has to pay for cases and freight delivered to Liverpool from the place of manufacture 121 per cent, and when you add whatever duty there is and freight, it makes it, I think, not far from the figure I have given. Take this plant of $150,000 and deduct 371 per cent, and you get $106,000. In other words, it costs $44,000 more to supply a mill of this size with machinery in Canada than it does in Great Britain. The interest on $44,000 is $2,640. So, with $46,000 extra for the building, and $44,000 extra for machinery, you have $90,000 as the added cost of such an establishment in Canada over the cost of a similar establishment in Great Britain. In summing up the annual expenditure, the difference in wages, the difference in the rate of interest, the difference in cost of fuel, the difference in interest charge because of extra cost of building and machinery, we find a total of $45,400. That is the amount, in round figures, which it costs the manufacturer in this country to run a mill like that in Almonte more than it would cost to operate a similar mill in Great Britain.

Now, there has been a good deal said in this country about inferior machinery. We are told that it is because the Canadian manufacturer has inferior machinery that he cannot produce cloth as cheap or as good as the manufacturer in the old country produces. I deny that charge, and I speak from experience. I venture to say that, in proportion to the machinery we have in operation in Canada to-day, we have just as good machinery if not better, than they have in Great Britain. And I would like nothing better than to have the right hon. Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), the Minister of Customs (Mr. Paterson), and the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) visit the manufacturing town of Almonte and see if what I say with reference to machinery is not correct. These gentlemen may say: There is no

use in our going there, because we are not judges of woollen machinery. I meet that argument by asking them to bring with them the best expert woollen manufacturer they can find in the Dominion of Canada, and see if he does not bear out my statement with reference to the character of woollen machinery used in this country.

Now, Mr. Speaker, you can understand, from the figures I have given, how difficult it is for the manufacturers in Canada to compete with the manufacturers in Great Britain. I do not know whether

any of the hon. members opposite have ever visited the manufacturing districts of Great Britain; but I have done so, and I know that it is a sorry sight to see the operatives coming out of these woollen mills, wearing wooden shoes and with shawls over their heads, not as well clad as the squaws of our country are. Compare this with the manner in which our operatives are clothed; compare the homes of these people in Bradford and other manufacturing districts in Great Britain with the homes of the workers in woollen mills in Canada, and I do not think any member of this House would wish to see our operatives compelled to live in such homes as those occupied by the operatives of these great manufacturing districts in Great Britain. But I can say this also, give the Canadian working man the same chances as those enjoyed by the working man in the old country and he will produce goods faster and I think better. For some reason or other, we have to work faster in this country than they work in the old country. What the reasons may be, it is a little difficult to say, but I know, from what I have seen, that the fact is as I state. Possibly, some of the hon. members opposite, or some on this side of the House have travelled in Great Britain. If so, they can hardly help having noticed that the manner of working there is much slower than it is in this country. I went through Great Britain once in the harvest time, and I saw more help in one harvest field there than you would find in five harvest fields in this country. Help is so cheap that there is no difficulty in getting abundance of it. _ One of the most amazing things- speaking from a Canadian standpoint-I saw in travelling through the British agricultural districts was a man ploughing in the field driving three horses, tandem. I suppose every Canadian will know what I mean when I say ' tandem,' with two boys leading the horses. To the Canadian eye, nothing could be much more ridiculous. I will guarantee to take a Canadian boy of seventeen years old, put him behind the plough with a span of horses, and he will do more work in a day than that man was doing with his three horses and two boys. There is the difference between the workman in Canada and the workman in Great Britain.

Topic:   THE WOOLLEN INDUSTRY.
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