Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (18 June 1866)

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Date: 1866-06-18
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 15-17.
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MONDAY, June 18th, 1866.

The speaker took the chair at 3 o’clock p.m.

A number of positions were brought up and laid on the table.

Mr. Burnell introduced a bill to encourage immigration and settlement of wildlands of the province.

Hon. Mr. Howland moved that a warrant to be issued for the election of a member to represent the riding of North Oxford in place of the late Hope F. Mackenzie. Carried.

Mr. Chambers inquired of the ministry if Mr. H Wilson had been dismissed from his office as Inland Revenue inspector, and whether any investigation into the conduct of that gentleman had taken place in reference to his discharge.

Hon. Mr. Galt said Government did not think it advisable to retain Mr. Wilson after the resolutions which had been made in regard to his office as inland revenue inspector.

Mr. Jones (North Leeds) asked whether it was the intention of Government during the Session to introduce the bill for the protection of Canadian farmers and manufacturers the duty on articles imported from the United States.

Hon. Mr. Galt said the subject was under discussion.

Mr. Blanchet wished to know if Canada was to be represented at the Paris exhibition of 1867.

Hon. Mr. McGee replied that Canada would be represented at the universal exhibition to be held in Paris in 1867.

Mr. Chambers moved for all papers and correspondence in regard to the trial of Smith Halliday, the Maitland distiller.

Honorable John a MacDonald said that as the trial was still going on, the papers could not be laid before the House.

Mr. Chambers, after some discussion, withdrew the motion.

Hon. Mr. McConkey submitted the following resolution: that in the opinion of this House, the free grant of the public lands of the province to actual settlers (under such regulations as might be deemed advisable) would prove highly beneficial, and tend very much to induce immigration, and the consequent rapid development of the resources of the provinces. — Mr. McConkey, said, in a former Session he had moved a series of resolutions on the subject of free grants, and other matters relating to the management of the public lands.

He now brought forward only the resolution which referred to free grants. It had been said that on account of the early accomplishment of Confederation, this was not the proper time for discussing a question which would soon be dealt with by the local legislatures. There might be a good deal of force in this, but he thought the sooner the free grant system was adopted in this country the better it would be for its prosperity. He believed it would be the means of immediately drawing a large accession to the population of our country. This result would certainly follow in his section and on the North Shore […]

  • (p. 16)

[…] of Lake Huron. Instead of opening colonization roads 100 or 150 miles in length, he thought the Government should make shorter roads traversed by cross lines, and then thrown open the lands free to actual settlers. The money received for lands at 70c or $1 an acre was a mere bagatelle when the settlers had difficulty in paying It, compared with the advantages of the settlement of the country by producing and consuming population. Families had gone to the Muskoka settlement in expectation of free grants, and when arrived there were told they must pay 70 cents an acre. Disappointments of this kind interfered very much with the settlement of the country. The timber dues regulations had also caused complaints as if a man only sold a couple of sticks off his lot to buy bread for his family he was liable to prosecution. This should be remembered by government at once.

He approved of the course of the commissioner and resuming the lands on which settlement duties had not been performed, and a great many of these have gone into the hands of the actual settlers at a moderate cost. He did not desire to press the resolution to a vote, but only to have the matter discussed that the country might know the state of the case.

Colonel Holton said there was a strong feeling through the country a favor of lowering the price of public lands as it was believed the result would be a largely increased immigration. No doubt there was a great difficulty in the way of settling this question on account of the lumber interest. But it should be remembered that every year must diminish the value of the lumber interest while on the other hand every year increase the importance of settlement . The revenue from the timber trade must annually decrease, while the more we carried on settlement the larger would be our revenue and the more permanent its character.

He regretted that hitherto the lumbering interest had yielded so much influence in this country as to prevent the settlement question being dealt with as liberally as its importance required. We should have as Crown Lands agents men whose whole time would be employed in aiding the progress of settlement.

Col. H. also complained that lumberers had taken up lots all over the country, stripped them of the timber and then gave them out. There might be difficulties in devising and introducing the best possible system, but it was not much to our credit that a matter of so much importance should be laid aside year after year and no action taken.

Hon. Mr. McDougall said, after the announcement by the mover, that he would not press his motion to a decision; There might not, perhaps, be much practical utility in discussing it. At the same time it was always useful to the Government to hear the views of members who had practical knowledge of this important subject. As regarded the motion itself, you might say what had already been said the other evening, that with reference to our public lands, and the policy hitherto pursued and their management, it would be highly improper for the Government to propose, during the present Session, any measure for changing materially the existing regulations. These lands would very soon be placed under the control of the local Governments, and to them must be left the task of making any radical change in the system. Much might be said in favor of free grants, but there was this important point to be taken into consideration:

At this moment there were between seven and eight million dollars of arrears due in Upper Canada on public land sold to settlers. The hon. member might be able to satisfy his own constituents the propriety of free grants, but he questioned if it would be popular in older townships, where they who had made the country had been compelled to pay to the last copper, that strangers and newcomers to this country should get the remaining public lands for nothing. But whether it might be found expedient hereafter to lessen the price of our public lands, or to increase the free grants, he might stay that along the colonization roads much of the land was at present open to the settlor without cost. The commissioner of Crown Lands was now pushing forward a number of roads crossing that; For instance, the Monck road, which would cut all the colonization roads from the Ottawa to Muskoka Lake, and it was his intention to make free grants along that line, and other lines yet to be made. (Hear, hear.)

Whether this principle should be extended was a question which ought to be left to the respective representatives of upper and lower Canada when they met [sic] in their local Parliaments. The member for Peterborough had not exactly stated that case as it stood, as to the right to cut timber. That right gave no right to the land , and it was competent for anyone to go on the timber limits and choos his lot, and , on conforming to the rules, to take possession. The hon. member had spoken lightly of the revenue derived from the lumber interest, but in 1863 the products of the forest exported from Canada produced no less than $3,753,000. and in ’64 the sum of $4,167,000.

These figures showed the importance of the timber interests, and he would repeat that anyone who desired to purchase a lot of land and survey townships, open, although within the timber limits, could do so, and the moment he showed he was a bona fide settler he got the benefit of the timber. If settlers were punished in Simcoe for cutting a stick of timber it was contrary to the regulations of the Department. They had to show, however, that they were bona fide settlers, and not mere trespassers going without authority into the timber limits.

Mr. J.B.E. Dorion moved, in amendment: that in a young country, possessed of so great resources and such space as Canada, the emigration of a portion of its population is an evil greatly to be deplored. He said there was a large emigration proceeding from Canada, and urged the Government to adopt measures for developing our manufacturing and mining industries. He recommended imposition of duty on unmanufactured tobacco, which he said could not be done when the reciprocity treaty was in existence.

Mr. Joseph Dufresne opposed the amendment, because he contended the whole question ought to be left to the local Governments.

Mr. Perrault spoke in favour of free grants.

Hon. Mr. Chapais opposed the amendment, saying its promoters were demagogues, who wanted to make political capital out of the question. They spoke against their country in order to raise the United States at the expense of Canada. He thought usurers were the chief obstruction to the settlement of the country.

Mr. Pope moved an amendment to the amendment, to the effect, that it was inexpedient to take up the question at the present time, in view of the early accomplishment of Confederation.

Attorney general MacDonald said, while he concurred in the spirit of the member for Compton’s amendment, he considered it went too far. If adopted by the House it would be a declaration by the legislature, which would have the effect of preventing the commissioner of Crown Lands, from making any change whatever.

Hon. Mr. McGee, did not doubt Mr. Dorion’s right to move his amendment, but he thought it very inexpedient to press it under present circumstances. If it should be voted down by a large majority, he protested against that majority being taken as an expression of opinion against the various propositions in the amendment. It would only be an expression of opinion on the part of the House, there is a time for everything and that now this amendment was both out of time and place (Hear.)

To a large extent he went with the hon. member. He had affirmed the propriety of a homestead law and protection to manufacturers, and he (Mr. McGee) was in some degree favorable to both. He held that in certain stages of manufacturers they should get some measure of protection until able to go alone. Mr. McGee said the present was not the time to bring forward the important subjects embraced in Mr. Dorion’s resolutions, the Government was only a provisional Government, we were in a state of transition, and these questions should be left for the new Governments and legislatures to settle.

Mr. Evanturel had the floor when the House rose at 6 o’clock.

At half-past seven the debate was resumed and continued for some time, the yeas and nays being taken on Mr. Pope’s amendment which was carried. — yeas 59 nays 29.

A long discussion then ensued as to the effect of carrying the amendment, Mr. Dorion endeavouring to bring up the remainder of his resolution on the subjects of free grants, homestead law &c., &c., but it was finally ruled that the carrying of Mr. Pope’s amendment had disposed of the question.

Mr. O’Halloran moved and address for an enquiry into the circumstances connected with the late attack by the Fenians up on the frontier, in the County of Missisquoi, with a view to ascertain the losses suffered by the residents, that the same may be reimbursed by the Government.

Mr. H addressed the House at considerable length, denouncing in patriotic language the conduct of the invaders, and stating that from his personal knowledge of the Irish Roman Catholics residing there, not one had given a door comfort to the enemy, but they had proved as loyal as any other portion of the community.

Attorney General MacDonald said the responsibility rests not upon the Government, but upon this House and the country, to reimburse these people for their losses. He would assure the hon. member, however, that the Government had not waited in the discharge of its duty to the country in this particular, for already arrangements had been made for an enquiry into the losses which had been suffered through the recent invasion, both in eastern and Western Canada. (Hear, hear.)

As to the first part of the resolution, declaring that the invaders had been permitted to menace a portion of our frontier, for nine days, without an armed force having been sent against them, he considered it a most uncalled for and a most unwise censure upon the military authorities who had acted in every particular with the utmost promptitude. We had the assurance that the British Government would put forth its last man and expand its last dollar in our defense, and it was not for us to catch any reflections upon their administration. It had been the fault not of the authorities of the country, but of those of the United States if these men had hung on our frontiers for 9 days, but he thought the placing of one of their ablest Generals on the frontier to enforce their neutrality laws, and the manner in which he had discharged his duty was a proof of their sincerity and good faith towards us. With one part of the hon. gentleman to remarks, he (the attorney general) heartily sympathised.

He was fully prepared to hear that Irishman an Irish Catholics in Canada were true and loyal to the country. Everywhere East and West had this fact been proved, and he said it without hesitation that there is not a more loyal body in Canada, and this he believed was because they found that the real or supposed grievances of Ireland did not exist in this country. Their loyalty he regarded as one of the best compliments that could be paid to the Government and the institutions of Canada. He hoped, with the explanations which had been given at the hon. member would not press his motion.

Mr. O’Halloran replied, disclaiming any intention of censuring the military authorities, though he thought there had been an error somewhere, and he believed that an inquiry might be useful to guard against the like in future. He was, however, satisfied with the explanation of the hon. attorney general, and would consent to withdraw the resolution.

Hon. JS MacDonald disagreed with the position taken by the attorney general West, and spoke for some time on the issues raised by Mr. O’Halloran’s motion.

Mr. Dunkin contended that all parties were completely taken by surprise, and that though we had all become very wise after it was over, yet there was such a want of information when the emergency occurred, that it was not to be expected that everything could have been in a perfect state of readiness for the attack. You mentioned it as a fact, that there were only two volunteer companies on the frontier, and they but recently organised. He deprecated discussion on the points raised by the member for Cornwall.

Mr. Ferguson, (South Simcoe) said that he considered the attorney general had fully satisfied his mind as so the first part of the motion, regarding the menace to the frontier from the United States, but he should be sorry if it went abroad to Upper Canada, that there was to be no investigation into the management of the volunteers at Fort Erie. The people of Upper Canada had it on their minds that volunteers had not been fairly treated, but he blamed no one. All he had to say was, at the case appeared now to rest between 2 officers, one day volunteer and the other a regular officer, and he did hope that the matter would be investigated. It was said there was a plan of battle, but the one party reached the field too soon, while the other did not reach it at all. (Hear, hear.)

This was a case which desired immediate attention, he would not say of the Government but of the military authorities, and he hoped the attorney general would be prepared to announce that Col. McDougall, would soon take the case under consideration.

He (Mr. F) did not see why the attorney general had made such a distinction of class as he had done, in speaking of the subject of loyalty. The Irish Roman Catholics he was happy to say, were generally loyal, it was true, but among the volunteers of Upper Canada they did not furnish anything like a proportion of volunteers according to their population. The volunteers in that part of the country were chiefly composed of Orangemen and other Protestants, and do not see why the Catholic should be specially singled out for complements. Whatever of sympathy the Fenians had received had been from them, and he was glad it had not been much, for he would be ashamed of his countrymen in Canada if any considerable number of them would be found so base. He, with all his orange and Protestant principles, had never been to one two wish to deprive the Catholics of equal rights with every other country; And in this country they had even got more than their rights and he considered it, therefore, their duty to be loyal without any special compliments. He mentioned , that being on duty on the front, he had seen a Company […]

  • (p. 17)

[…] of French Canadian volunteers sent forward, and none were more disappointed than they that they had come too late to give the fanny and marauders their deserts.


Considerable discussion took place regarding the propriety of investigating the circumstances connected with the management of the volunteers at Fort Erie in which Mr. McGivern said he had put a similar motion on the notice paper, for an enquiry and desire to know what he be granted.


Attorney General MacDonald stated that he would answer the question when nausea came up. His reply having been in this instance confined to the motion I will for the house.


Mr. O’Hallohan’s motion was then withdrawn.


On motion of Mr. Archambeault address was carried for claims and accounts of gentlemen employed as Crown prosecutors.

On motion of Mr. Archambeault an address was carried for information laid before the Government by L.O. Tetu Esq., against Rodolphe Laflamme, Esq.

On motion of Mr. Somerville the House resolved to go into Committee of the whole to consider certain resolutions on the subject of the inspecting of leather and raw hides.


The House then adjourned at 20 minutes to 12 o’clock.

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