Province of Canada, Legislative Council, 8th Parl, 4th Sess (1 September 1865)

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Date: 1865-09-01
By: Province of Canada (Parliament), The Quebec Daily Mercury
Citation: “Provincial “Parliament. Legislative Council. The Quebec Daily Mercury (2 September 1865).
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(Reported for the Mercury.)


FRIDAY, 1st Sept. 1865.

The SPEAKER took the Chair at halt-past eleven o’clock, pursuant to the adjournment of the previous day.

After routine—


Hon. Mr. FERGUSON BLAIR, from the Private Bills Committee, reported that the Committee had considered the Bill to facilitate the transactions of the Quebec North Shore Turnpike Road Trustees, but that inasmuch as the said bill appeared to partake of a pubic character, they recommended that it be referred to a sleet committee.

Hon. Mr. PRICE then moved the reference of the Bill to a Committee composed of Hon. Messrs. Panet, A. J. Duchesnay, Boasé and the mover—Carried.


The Bill specially to incorporate the Tadousac Hotel and Sea Bathing Company having been reported from Committee without amendment, was then ready a third time and passed.


Hon. Mr. HAMILTON (Kingston) from the Committee on Banking and Commerce reported several amendments to the Bill to amend the Charter of the Upper Canada Bank.

Hon. Mr. ALLAN explained the amendments, the first of which he stated consisted in the correction of a mere clerical error, and the other gave a permissive power to the shareholders, at their annual meetings, to reduce. If they deemed essential to the interests of the Bank, the number of directors. He moved their adoption.

Hon. Mr. SIMPSON said, though it was not his intention to oppose the Bill to take a vote of the House in regard to it, he desired to express his dissent from the clause in it relating to the increase of voters to be given by shareholders in certain cases, which was a step he considered neither desirable not advisable to take.

Hon. Mr. ALLAN said he could not withdraw this amendment, inasmuch as it had been adopted at a very large and influential meeting of shareholders.

The report was adopted and the Bill was then read a third time and passed.


Hon. Mr. BOSSÉ introduced a Bill to incorporate the Curé of the parish of Notre Dame de Québec.


Bill to incorporate the Union St. Henri, of the Parish of Montreal.—Hon. Mr. PRUDHOMME.

Bill to incorporate Les Sceurs de l’Assomption of St. Gregoire.—Hon. Mr. PROULX.

Bill to incorporate the London Collegiate Institution.—Hon. Mr. MACPHERSON.


Pursuant to order, the House then went into Committee on Hon. Mr. Fergusson Blair’s Bill relating to short forms of mortgages in Upper Canada.—Hon. Mr. MACPHERSON in the CHAIR.

The Committee reported several amendments which were concurred in, and the Bill was then ready a third time and passed.

Pursuant to order, the House also went into Committee on the Hon. Sir. N. F. Belleau’s Bill for the granting of additional facilities in Commercial transactions.—Hon. Mr. WILSON in the CHAIR.

The Committee reported the Bill with several amendments, which were adopted and the Bill was then read a third time and passed.


Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL brought in the report of the Select Committee, to whom was referred the Bill to provide for the better regulation of fishing, and the protection of the fisheries, recommending a number of additional amendments to the Bill.

The report having been received—

Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL said the amendments were not of a very important character, and, with the consent of the House, he would proceed to explain them as briefly as possible. In the first place, it had been ascertained by the evidence before the Committee that we could not very well fix an arbitrary period or close season suitable for all the waters of the country. What was adapted for one part, was not adapted for another, and, especially, with regard to certain parts of the Upper Canadian waters, it had been found that what was the proper close season, for another. It had been therefore thought advisable in this respect to give power to the Commissioner to fix the close seasons in accordance with the circumstances of the various localities, and the arbitrary terms in the Bill and been accordingly qualified. With the exception of the close season for salmon, which remained fixed, it was proposed to leave the Commissioner to adopt the seasons for bass white fish, pickerel &c. according to the different […]. Then it was thought that the penalties in the Bill were limited in a way that might work harshly. The minimum fine was $8; which many members thought be too severe in certain cases, where the office was only slight. The Bill had been amended therefor so as to leave the penalty to the discretion of the magistrate in such cases. The maximum fine was placed at $20, except for the offence of destroying the fish by chemical compounds or other deleterious substances, which was punishable by a fine of $100. Then again no right of appeal had been given from the decisions of magistrates and it was thought desirable to provide such a right. But there were some remote parts of the Province, such as in the Lower St. Lawrence, where an unrestricted right of appeal might work very injuriously and defeat the ends of justice. For such cases it was provided that the appellant; before taking his appeal should be obliged to deposit in the hands of the magistrate the amount go the fine and costs.

Hon. Mr. McCRAE-What about seines.

Hon. Mr. CAMPBELL—All limit had been struck out as far as regarded the length go seines in the lakes. It had been deemed advisable to retain a limit to the length of seines in a few of the rivers of Upper Canada. There was no limit to the length of seines elsewhere. He moved the adoption of the report.

Hon. Mr. PRICE.—Honorable gentlemen, the subject of our Fisheries now before the House is one of very great importance to the future interests of this Province—and which we should carefully consider, to provide the best means possible of protecting and carrying them on for the general benefit of all, and not for the exclusive privileges of any. There are fierce opinions on what the protection should be. Certain theorists, who know nothing practically of the fisheries in this country or in Great Britain and Ireland, are trying to prejudice public opinion in Canada, to carry out the views of the British theorists, who hold, and are the fishing rights of Great Britain and Ireland in their own light, knowing nothing go the fishing rights of this country; little do these Canadian theorists and amateur fisherman wish to assimilate our laws with those of Great Britain and Ireland, above the interests are altogether different from those of Canada. The rivers of Great Britain and Ireland running through the different landed estates, belong, as far as fishing rights are concerned, to the great landlords, who derive a very considerable revenue from the leasing of those fisheries opposite their own property. As salmon always come back to spawn in their native river, these landlords, know that by abolishing all nets on the sea coast and estuarine they would enhance their own interest, I and the value of their private fisheries, and by the immense influence they have brought to bear on the Commons and Lords of England, have carried their point in a great measure. All tidal fisheries have been abolished, with the exception of a few ancient grants, which have been recognised—thus giving to the proprietors of the rivers the whole salmon fisheries to themselves. These rivers are all netted, in every way possible to take the salmon, by drag nets sweeping across the river, and by drift nets floated down from one side of the river to the other, attached to boats. Their fishing time is from seven to eight months in duration. In Canadian waters the right of fishing the rivers is vested, but with five exceptions, in the Crown, who lease the rod fishing in them to gentlemen, and the net fishing of the estuary and coast to fishermen, receiving rents from all in proportion to the value of their fisheries. The netting season commences about the 15th June and lasts till the 1st August, but there are generally but five weeks run of fish, so that no great damage can ben done in so short a time by the nets; and the fish once in the river, are in their nursery, only troubled by the rod fishermen, who can do no great damage either, so that by having no netting or spearing in the rivers, if they are only properly guarded to prevent such, the result cannot be otherwise than a large production of fish. Were the views of our theorists carried out and netting done away with in the estuaries and on the coast, and netting allowed in the rivers alone, as in Britain, the result would be the damage of the spawning beds, being raked up by the nets; no rest for the salmon to fecundate their spawn; dirty, unclean fish would be sent to madekety, at a far greater cost than from the coast, where they are taken in their priest order and immediately packed in snow in boxes or schooners for the market. If taken in the fresh water rivers, they could only bet brought down in canoes exposed to the sun and weather, to be packed below, and the greater part of the fish once purged by living in the fresh water become sickly and do no live on half the time of those taken in the salt sea. All we require to show the British theorists and fishermen, as well as nonbelievers in Canada, that the interests are not the same, is to allow net fishing only in estuaries and on the coast—only rod fishing in the rivers, allow the fish to remain quiet in the fresh water in the rivers, allow the fish to remain quiet in the fresh water—guard the rivers well and the result are long will show that the views I entertain with all practical fishermen in the Province area the correct ones. Attempts have been made to show the great falling off in the take of salmon have been rapidly increasing, and, even if the law is not carried out more effectually than it has been during that time, must go on increasing rapidly, but if the present changes are fully carried out the next five or six years will show such an increase as to surpass the most incredible. Mr. Austin, the Secretary of the Quebec Game Protection Society, in his remarks on the Fishery Bill, addressed to the Hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands, has made some assertions which are altogether unfounded—and then altogether one-sided—without going into all, I may mention the most glaring. He asserts that in one single tide 1800 salmon were taken from he Tadonsae Fishery. Never in any case were much over 300 fish taken in a tide there during the most favorable years; and never in any case did the whole take of the season much exceed 3000. The single river that once gave its 50,000 salmon in one year, although care is taken not to mention its name, is supposed by Mr. Austin to be the Esquimain. The whole fisheries of the Bay of that name, about 12 miles of cost fishing produced that quantity by report some years ago—but that is not now river, and those fish must have belonged to at least a dozen rivers higher up, toward which the fish were winding their way from the Labrador coast. The fishing of the tay are also quoted by Mr. Auston, for a series of years taken from the Encyclopedia Britannic. Now those quotations are only from the upper river fishing of Lord Gray’s at Kinfauns which is about two-thirds of the fresh water fishing of the Tay. Great care is taken to prove by those fishing that the stake nets in the tide waters have reduced the take in the river but no returns of the net fishing in the tide waters is given to show if the average take of both have not been about equal for many years, as it is reported to be by the net fishermen, but they have been so shy that no one has known from them their yearly take, so it could not be made public. But there is no doubt from Mr. Buist’s return of the river fishings, which is the one in the Encyclopedia Britanica, as he was the party who furnished it, that the destruction of fish has not been great, or the grille would never have increased as they have done in the Tay; salmon must have gone up and escaped their nets, for while their take has decreased the grilse have gone on increasing all the time, as will be seen from the following statement given by Mr. Buist, viz.:—Finctuations of Lord Gray’s fishings on the Tay, from 1788 to 1845:

10 years—1738 to 1797—before the use of stake nets in the estuary:
87,003 salmon,
17,070 grilse.
Total….104,073 fish.

10 years—1801 to 1810—after stake nets were placed in estuary:
45,663 salmon,
16,168 grilse.
Total….62,831 fish.

10 year—1815 to 1824—after total removal of stake nets:
90,101 salmon,
86,891 grilse.
Total….196, 992 fish.

10 years—1825 to 1834—with stake nets on the coast, before Navigation Act:
47,381 salmon,
92,422 grilse.

10 years—1836 to 1845— with stake nets, under the Navigation Act:
67,129 salmon,
109,388 grilse.
Total….176,467 fish.

This statement shows exclusively that the Salmon could not have been destroyed or the Grilse would not have increased as they did, and there is no doubt, if a correct statement could be given of both fluvial and and estuary fishing that the average yearly taken was about the same. I would wish to touch on the subject of other fisheries, but I have already detained the House too long. I will merely off that it will be impossible to deprive our farmer and poor fishermen who cannot afford twine nets, of the right to put out their famine or wicker fisheries, but I think it would be to their their advantage, if they would make the pound of net-work with strong twine, it would eventually be cheaper to them, and would admit of the small or young fish escaping. These fisheries have existed since the settlement of the country, during that time they have never been the cause of the diminution of Salmon. The salmon have been destroyed by the mill-damn, (head of saw-dust settling on the spawning beds,) spearing and netting all the season on the rivers. Do away with those, and protect the rivers rigidly and we will soon have plenty of salmon.

The motion was carried, and the Bill was then read a third time and passed—

The House then adjourned.

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