Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, (5 July 1866)

Document Information

Date: 1866-07-05
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 5th Sess, 1866 at 32-34.
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).

Click here to view the rest of the Province of Canada’s Confederation Debates for 1866.

  • (p. 32)


Thursday July 5th, 1866[1]

The Speaker took the chair at three o’clock.

After routine.

First Reading

By Hon. Sir. N. F. Belleau – Bill to amend the charter of the Quebec Bank.

By Hon. Sir. McMaster – Bill to amend Canada Land Company’s Act

The following Bills were reported from the Committee on private Bills

Bill to ascertain the proprietorship of the commons of Berthier and Isle du Pads, with amendments. Amendments to considered tomorrow.

Bill to enable the Corporation of Belleville to purchase ground for a cemetery, with amendment. Concurred in and Billed ordered for a third reading on Monday.

Bill to enable the Trustees of the Scotch Church at Woodstock to sell certain lots of land, with amendments. Concurred in and Bill ordered for a third reading tomorrow.

Bill to incorporate the Belleville and Marmora Railway, with amendments. Concurred in and Bill ordered for a third reading on Monday Next

Bill to vest certain lands in the Church Wardens of St. James Church, Toronto without amendments. Third reading tomorrow.

Hon. Sir. N. F. Belleau brought in a message from his Excellency with the Adjutant General’s report.

The Speaker announced a message from the assembly with a bill to admit Hewitt Bernard a member of the Upper Canada Law Society, and to enable him to practice in courts as a Barrister & c.

A long debate then followed on the motion of Hon. Mr. LeTellier de St. Just for a committee to enquire int the practicability of navigating the Lower St. Lawrence in winter by steam vessels. The House generally agreed upon the importance of the proposed inquiry and gave additional weight to the motion by extending the range of the Committee’s duties from the limits first proposed viz; the vicinity of Bic and Father point, to the whole southern coast below Quebec, also by empowering the Committee to send for persons and paper, and by adding two members to those named in the motion.

Hon. Mr. Ferrier, in the course of the debate strongly urged upon the Government to send one of their screw steamers down there next winter well equipped and commanded by a courageous captain, and insisted that this would be by far the most effective manner of getting at a proper understanding of the true facts.

Hon., Merrs. Ryan and Skead supported this view, and the latter hoped the Government would promise to send the steamer down.

The motion was then put and carried.

The Joint Printing Committee’s second Report was then brought up for consideration and adopted, and the house adjourned.

[1] This portion was crossed out. The day reappears on p. 33.

  • (p. 33)


THURSDAY, July 5th, 1866.

The SPEAKER took the chair at 3 o’clock.

Among the Petitions presented were several for revising the charter of the Toronto and Owen Sound Railway.

First Reading.

Hon. N.F. BELLEAU introduced a bill to amend the Charter of the Quebec Bank.

Reports of Committees.

Hon. Mr. Allan, from the Private Bill Committee, reported the following bills:—

Bill to ascertain the proprietorship of the Commons of Berthier and Isle du Pads, with amendments.—Amendments to be considered to-morrrow.

Bill to enable the Corporation of the Town of Belleville to purchase ground for a Cemetery, &c., with amendments.—Amendments concurred in and the bill ordered for a third reading on Monday.

Bill to enable the Trustees of the Scotch Church of Woodstock, to sell certain lots of land, with amendments.—Amendments concurred in bill ordered for a third reading to-morrow.

Bill to incorporate the Belleville and Marmora Railway, with amendments.—Amendments concurred in and bill to be read a third time on Monday next.

Bill to vest certain lands in the Church Wardens of St. James’Church, Toronto, without amendments.—Third reading to-morrow.


Hon. Sir N.F. Belleau announced a message from His Excellency.

The Speaker submitted the message, transmitting copy of the Adjutant-General’s Report.

First Reading.

The Speaker announced a message from the Assembly, with a bill to admit Hewitt Bernard a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and to the practice of law in that part of the Province.—Second reading to-morrow.

Winter Navigation of Lower St. Lawrence.

Hon. Mr. Letellier de St. Just moved for a Select Committee, to inquire and report whether or not it would be practicable for ocean seamships to navigate that part of the river St. Lawrence which lies below the harbors of Bic and Father Point, and to cross the Gulf of St. Lawrence in going to and from those parts in winter, and that such Committee he compose of the [text missing]. Armstrong, Bosse, Ryan, Olivier and the mover. Upon the suggestion of several members, the hon. mover willingly agreed to amend the motion so as to extend the inquiry to other ports than those named, and in fact consented that it should embrace the whole coast below Quebec; also as to the best means of protecting vessels from damage by ice. He also agreed to add Messrs. Price and Gingras to the Committee, and at the suggestion of Hon. Mr. Moore the Committee was empowered to send for persons and papers.

In making his motion the hon. member stated that he considered the interests involved in the proper solution of the inquiry as of the utmost importance. For many years it had been a moot point among persons deemed to be good judges whether the Lower St. Lawrence could be navigated in winter. Some said that it could, and others that it was not possible to do so with safety. Others doubted, but it seemed to be very generally believed that it could be done all the year round except in the months of January and February, and even with respect to these two severe month, there were very reliable practical men who asserted that with proper appliances it could be done even in those two months. It would certainly not be denied that if the St. Lawrence could be navigated all the year through with the exception of two months, an immense advantage would be gained by this country, since during nearly six we had to seek an outlet through a foreign land.

A special committee of this House had examined into this subject in 1860 upon a motion of his honor the present Speaker. The Committee had made long and patient researches, and had brought up a report which recommended the adoption of certain measures in order to test the practicability of the matter, and he would now beg to call the attention of the House to the said report. The Boards of Trade of Quebec and Montreal had also interested themselves in the subject, and they also appeared to regard such navigation as practicable.

Then there had been public meetings at Rimouski and Bic to consider the object, and Committees appointed, one of which had reported by resolutions, one of which was to the effect that after taking the testimony of experienced pilots they were of opinion that in every month of the year save January and February the St. Lawrence was navigable from Father Point to the Gulf, and that the said place offered a very favorable site for a harbour of refuge. The report also went so far as to say that the committee considered navigation as possible even in the two months supposed to be doubtful.

A steamer had for some years crossed the St. Lawrence at Lachine, and even at Quebec where the tide was so strong and the current so great an enterprising citizen had kept the ferry open, during the whole of the winter before last by means of a small steamer called the Arctic. This was done by private enterprize, but when the question related to the whole commerce of the country, and secruing [sic] a route in winter independent of a foreign nation he thought the subject important enough to invoke the attention of the Legislautre. There seemed to be little doubt that Father Point could always be reached, and if so a short railway extension would put us in communication with the sea.

He did not say he had entire confidence in the project, but he was willing to allow his doubts to remain in suspense, and to advocate the experiment. For this reason he would give his best efforts to procure the most reliable information, and if the result should be favorable they would be amply rewarded. (The hon. member here read a portion of the report to which he had already alluded.)

This report had been sent to His Excellency, and if he remembered right the Hon. Commissioner of Public Works then seemed disposed to test the matter by experiment, but delays had intervened, and more important things had probably occasioned it to be lost sight of. He hoped however, that the House would grant the Committee. It was not intended to incur expense by bringing persons from a distance but to endeavour to get at the information with as little cost as possible.

Hon. Mr. Bosse did not suppose that the navigation itself was impossible, but the difficulty would be found in providing suitable wharfage. If a place could be found for a harbor or wharf, where vessels could always getalongside and be safe, he believed the other obstacles could be overcome.

Hon. Sir N.F. Belleau said that as the hon. member had consented to amend the motion so as to embrace in the enquiry the whole of the localities below Quebec, he would go heartily for it. He would, however, suggest that two other hon. members should be added to the committee, viz: Hon. Messrs. Price and Gingras, (which, as stated above, were also put on.)

Hon. Mr. Price said he had lived for about nineteen years at the Saguenay, and had never […]

  • (p. 34)


[…] known that a boat could cross to the south side until about the beginning of March.DaashDuring the rest of the winter the river was covered with immense fields of ice, through which water could seldom be seen. But even if vessels could come up to Father Point, he doubted whether importers would be willing to bring their goods that way. It had been said that salt water ice was easily broken, and it was of course true that fresh water ice was much stronger, but still water became exceedingly thick by the action of surf swells beating on the shore.

Even at Gaspe, vessels could hardly come in, and at Prince Edward Island it was only once or twice in winter that they could cross over to the main land. Vessels might get up the Saguenay, as it was a very deep river, with deep banks, and it had been proposed to land troops there in case they were wanted in Canada, but without railway or other adequate means of transport they would be as far away in point of time as if they were marching up from the Lower Provinces. Of the ports named he thought Bic the best.—He was glad, however, that the subject had been taken up, and he had no doubt the Government would do what was proper in the circumstances. (The hon. member being at the far end of the room was very indistinctly head. [sic])

Hon. Mr. LeTellier said that on the 28th December, the Persia had landed troops at Bic, but had anchored out too far. If she had come nearer they would all have been landed in ten hours. For many years he had known schooners leave L’Islet and go coasting about in March, and if this could be done by small frail vessels, how much more safely could it be by large steamers expressly adapted for the name.

Hon. Mr. Perry did not very well see the necessity of prolonged discussion, since all seemed to be agreed upon the propriety of appointing a committee. They asked for no money, and the subject they proposed to investigate was one of the greatest importance to the country, especially to Lower Canada. Few persons could have believed some years ago that the St. Lawrence could be crossed at Quebec by a steamer in winter, yet it was now done with regularity and safety, and it was not at all impossible that the Lower St. Lawrence could be navigated in the same manner at that season.

Hon. Mr. Ferrier said, he had always been favorable to a thoroughly practical investigation of the subject now before the House, but the Government had the best means at their disposal for making it, and that was by employing one of their steamers for that purpose. It was once thought impossible to cross the St. Lawrence, and the very proposition was regarded as wholly unreasonable. However, the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railway Company with which he was connected, resolved to make the experiment, and it was found not only practicable, but was perfectly successful. When the people at Quebec heard of this, they determined to try it there too, notwithstanding the greater difficulties, and it had also been accomplished.

Now if the Government would make the experiment with respect to the Lower St. Lawrence, by sending one of their steamers duly prepared, and put a man of courage on board, who would not be easily frightened, he thought it probably the [text mssing] would be satisfactory. The matter was of such importance that he thought it was well worth she [sic] while risking the value of a steamer in order to put it beyond doubt. If it were successful, the railway would soon be extended to the harbour, and would again very strongly recommend the Government next winter, to make the experiment. It was not possible to determine the question satisfactorily upon the opinions of persons residing along the shores, but so far as he had been able to get at such opinions, they were generally in favor of the possibility of a safe winter navigation of that part of the St. Lawrence.

Hon. Mr. Skead said, this was a subject in which the trade of the whole Province was greatly interested, and the hon. member who had brought up the motion, deserved thanks for it. He thought however that the investigation should not be restricted to the vicicnity of Bic or Father Point, but should embrace the whole southern coast below Quebec down on Father Point. He had been informed by old pilots, that the river might be navigated up to Indian Cove if winter (4 miles below Quebec) and if this were correct, the advantages would be incalculable. He entirely agreed with his hon. friend (Ferrier) in the propriety of the Government testing the matter by sending down a screw steamer there, next winter. This was the only ffectual way of disposing of the question. The steamer could be strengthened expressly for the purpose. The hon. member then related several instances of vessels having sailed at the end of December from Quebec, and safely made the voyage home.

Hon. Mr. Ryan also approved very highly of the suggestion of hon. Mr. Ferrier, and added jokingly that the committee might be sent down in the steamer to investigate for themselves. But seriously he hoped the government would take the matter and give a pledge to the House that they would make the experiment recommended. The motion was then put and carried in its amended form.

First Reading

Hon. Mr. McMaster introduced a bill to amend the Canada Land Company’s Act Second reading on Monday next.

North Shore (Quebec) Turnpike Trust.

Hon. Mr. Price moved for the second reading of the bill to amend the North Shore Turnpike Trust Act.

Hon. Mr. Blair inquired of the Speaker if such a bill could originate in the House. Was it not a money bill? He understood it was to replace some debentures which had been lost.

Hon. Mr. Price said the bill was for the purpose of accounting to the owner of four debentures which had been stolen, but never presented or paid by the Trust, so it was not for raising money but for making a payment which was already due. The old debentures would be cancelled in the books, but before their value was accounted for, the matter would be published six months in the Gazette.

The Speaker decided that it was not a money bill in the sense which would make it objectionable to introduce it in this House. It was simply for devising a mode of giving relief to parties entitled to receive it, and required no vote of public monkey of the imposition of taxes.

The bill was then read and referred to a select committee of Hon. Messrs. Panet, Bosse, Le Tellier, Bolieu, Duchesney nd the mover.


On motion of Hon. Mr.     [text blank in original]                       the second report of the Joint Commtitee on Printing was then brought up for consideration and adopted.

The House adjourned at 5 o’clock.


Leave a Reply