Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the commission of the peace, to serve (as it is alleged) political purposes; of a vexatious system of prosecutions for libel at the instance of the Attorney-General, and of the harsh and unconstitutional spirit in which these prosecutions have been conducted.

Your Committee have hitherto felt that they should best and most usefully discharge their duty by studiously abstaining from commenting upon the official conduct of individuals; but it is impossible for them not to call the serious and immediate attention of His Majesty's Governinent to these allegations.

Your Committee also feel bound to urge upon His Majesty's Government, in the most especial manner, their opinion, that it is necessary that a strict and instant inquiry should take place into all the circumstances attending these prosecutions, with a view to giving such instructions upon them as shall be consistent with justice and policy.

Your Committee learn, with the greatest concern, that disputes have lately arisen in Upper-Canada between the local Government and the House of Assembly, which have led to the abrupt termination of the Session of the Legislature of that Colony.

22d July 1828.

MINUTES OF EVIDENCE

Jovis, o die Maij. 1828.
The Right Honourable

THOMAS FRANKLAND LEWIS,

IN THE CHAIR.

Samuel Gale, Esq. called in, and examined.

Samuel Gale,
Esquire.

What acquaintance have you with Canada?—I have resided there almost from infancy.
Are you a native of England?--I am not; I am a native of St. Augustine in East Florida. 8 May, 1828.
Have you held any public situations in Canada ?—I have.

Be so good as to state what they are?-Chairman of the Quarter Sessions for the city and district of Montreal.

Describe the nature of that situation; by whom were you appointed?-The Governorin-chief.

Is any salary annexed to it? There is.

Have you ever held any other public situation in that country?-I think not. I was once indeed, by some communications not under seal, requested to act as a Commissioner relating to the boundary lines between Upper and Lower Canada; there had been some difference with respect to these boundary lines, and I was written to act as Commissioner.

Are you a proprietor in Canada ?—I am; I have lands both in the seigneuries and in the townships.

Then you are acquainted with the division of Canada, with a view to the representation in the Lower House of Assembly?—I am.

Can you state what is the proportion of persons having a right to vote residing in the seigneuries, as compared with those who reside in the townships?-It would be impossible for me to answer that question. I can only state, that the condition which entitles persons to vote by the statute is being possessed, for their own use and benefit, of a dwelling-house and lot of ground in the town or township, of the yearly value of £5 sterling; or of being possessed of lands in freehold, or in fief, or in roture, of the yearly value of 40s sterling, or upwards. How many individuals there may be of that description in the Province I can hardly take upon me to say.

What is the greatest number you have ever known polled at any election that has come under your observation?-That again is a matter to which I have very little attended, and could scarcely take upon me to answer; I believe there is a great difference in the number of electors in different places; in some places more than 3000 votes have been given; in other places, such as Sorel and Three-Rivers, only a few hundreds.

Is not the town at which the election is held in the counties generally within the seigneuries?—I do not know any instance where it is not in the seigneuries.

And near of course to the River St. Lawrence?-Generally near the River St. Law.rence; there are some of the places in the seigneuries that are more or less distant from the St. Lawrence.

Do the voters residing in the townships generally attend the elections?—They do not generally attend at the elections.

What

Samuel Gale,
Esquire.

What prevents their attendance?-The distance at which they are from the places of election; the difficulty of communication from the bad state of the roads, which would require most of the inhabitants of the townships voting at the elections to take a journey 9 May, 1828. of three days, going and returning; and very few indeed would feel inclined to take such a journey, when they would of course find such numbers of other voters present as would render whatever vote they might have to give perfectly unavailing.

What other voters?-Voters in the seigneuries; there are a variety of reasons why they would not travel from their residences in the townships to vote at the places of election; the expense is a very obvious one, the difficulty of communication is another, and the inutility of the vote when given would be a third reason.

You have stated as one reason the bad state of the roads; is there any particular reason why roads are not made from the townships in the seigneuries to the towns where the elections are held ?—The only cause why the roads are not better is, I believe, the inadequacy of the laws regarding communications; the laws were made so as to adapt themselves, I believe, to the making of roads in the seigneuries, where the lands are conceded in a particular mode; those laws, although they might perhaps answer with respect to the seigneuries (that is, answer better at any rate than they would with regard to the townships,) are quite insufficient with respect to the townships; they oblige every individual in the seigneuries to make a road along the front of his land. The land is generally divided into lots of three acres in front; the original object was, that each individual proprietor might have a front upon the river. The lots run back generally to the distance of about 30 acres or a mile, so that each individual proprietor of a lot in the seigneuries may have his road to make along a front of three acres, but in the townships the lots are laid out very differently, and there are reserves between the different lots; so that it must be perfectly evident, that laws obliging a person to make roads upon the front of their lands, could never answer to establish communications between one part of the country and another in the townships.

Have any attempts been made by the Legislature to improve the system of making roads in the townships?—There were nearly, I believe, 25 years passed without more than perhaps £1000 being given towards making roads; from the first period when the Constitution was established in 1791 to 1815, I believe that there was not more than £1000 laid ont upon roads generally to make communications. In 1815 and in 1817, I believe, considerable sums of money were voted for the improvement of internal communications; since that period, for the last ten years, I think, there have not been more than about £3000 devoted to that purpose, or authorized to be so employed.

You say that the laws might do pretty well for the seigneuries; are good roads made under those laws in the seigneuries ?-An Englishman certainly would consider them very bad.

Are they practicable roads?-They are practicable roads?
Is not tere a system of road-making in t seigneuries, conducted under the system of
law that prevails there by an officer appointed, called the grand voyer for the administra-
tion of the roads in the seigneuries?-The person who lays out the roads is the grand
voyer; there is a grand vover in each district.

Can any road be made without his authority?-Not legally established in the country.
Does his authority extend to the Townships?-It does.

How is he appointed?-Those officers are appointed by the Governor.

Has he the power of preserving the road when it is made?-There are persons, sousvoyers and others, appointed to superintend; the grand-voyer makes his proces verbal to establish the roads; this proces verbal is laid before the court of quarter sessions, and there it is either confirmed or rejected. However, it is generally confirmed, inasmuch as the court considers itself only entitled to reject when the forms of the law are not complied with; they consider that the grand-voyer is almost exclusively vested with the right of determining as to the expediency or inexpediency of the road.

When he has determined upon the expediency of forming a new road, in what manner are the funds obtained, first in the seigneuries, and secondly out of the seigneuries, in the townships?—The grand-voyer orders each individual proprietor to contribute so many days work, or such a proportion of labour; (or to make bridges, when it shall le required to make bridges.) The individuals are pointed out in the proces verbal who are to be held liable to make and keep in repair the roads and bridges.

Aro

Are any funds assigned for the purpose?—No funds are assigned; it is done by the Samuel Gate, proprietors, who work in the proportions that he orders.

Both in the seigueuries and in the townships?-Both in the seigneuries and in the townships the work is done in the proportions ordered by the grand vo er.

Is that proportion according to the extent of the individual property through which the road is to go?-The grand voyer, doubtless, in the performance of his duty, endeavours to make each contribute to the road in proportion as he shall benefit from it. Do you mean to say that the authority of the grand voyer is absolute over the preportion that each person is to contribute to the expense of the road-It may be cousidered that much is left to his discretion.

Does he act under any law?—He acts under a law, but the law does not always point out what labour he shall oblige each individual to perform, further than that it shall be done as equitably as possible, in reference to the degree of benefit that the person shall receive from the road and his extent of ground.

Does this system of the grand vo, ers give satisfaction in the Province ?—I believe that the system is satisfactory enough in the seigneuries, but it is not satisfactory, if I may judge from what I have heard, through the townships.

You say considerable sums of money were voted in 1816 and 1817; do you know the amount of those sums?-I believe, by reference to a paper, I shall be able to state that. It was between £8,000 and £9,000 in 1815 and about £55,000 in 1817.

Is it a system that occasions complaints on the part of the townships ?-It does, undoubtedly.

To what purposes were the sums that were voted in certain years appropriated, and what rendered them necessary, inasmuch as it appears that the people themselves have to make the roads?-Their labour in various parts of the country would not have been sufficient, owing to the distance of the settlements, the length of the roads, and other causes. The assistance that the Legislature gave might, in a trifling degree, be intended to supply that deficiency. But the money I believe was chiefly expended upon roads in the seigneuries. It was injudiciously appropriated for local, rather tan for general purposes, for towns and old settled places rather than for new settlements.

Why is this system satisfactory in the seigneuries, and not in the townships?—The power of the grand voyer, and the mode of obliging the proprietors to labour, was one that was better adapted to the seigneuries, owing to the mode of conceding the lands in the seigneuries, than it was in the townships, owing to the manner in which the township lands were laid out.

You mean that the proportion of labour pressed more heavily upon the townships, from their being of greater extent and width-The proportion of labour undoubtedly did press heavier in that way, but it pressed heavier for other reasons; the roads, instead of going along the line of ranges in the townships were obliged to traverse the lots very frequently diagonally. There is this that may be said, however, the seigneuries are more commonly level; the roads therefore may be made in a given direction with more facility; and they follow the concession lines, which are straight lines generally, without much inconvenience. The face of the country in the townships is quite different; there it is diversified by lakes and mountains and falls, and it is not possible for a road to be made along the line of ranges. As far as my observation has extended, I do not know any township in which it would be practicable; therefore that system which would answer in a level country, where a road may be made without deviation, will not answer in a country which does not admit of roads being so made, and where the roads are to traverse either lengthways or diagonally the lots.

In point of fact, is the want of roads in t'e townships, and the wish to obtain a different mode of laying out roads and forming other communications, one of the grievances of the townships wich have been brought before the Legislature, and not attended to ?~ I believe that it is one of those grievances. I have not attended the Assembly myself, and can therefore only speak from information; but I understand it to be the case.

Have petitions ever been forwarded to Parliament upon the subject?-I believe so; I have been so informed.

By your answers it would seem that the roads in general run parallel with the river; is tat so?-The roads along the river generally follow the course of the river, and the roads along the subsequent concessions generally run in a straight line.

In a line at right angles with the river?-Not at right angles with the river always.
Do you recollect any instance of an appeal from the decision of a grand voyer; how does

Esquire.

8 May 1828.

he

8 May 1823.

Samuel Gale, he proceed? As I said before, the grand voyer makes his order with respect to everynew Esquire. road; this order which is called a proces verbal, is presented to the court of Quarter Sessions confirmed, it is very often opposed in the court of Quarter Sessions, but it is almost universally confirmed there, notwithstanding any opposition made to it, unless there has been some defect of form. The law requires certain formalities to be observed, such as that upon a petition presented to him the grand voyer shall cause a notice to be given at the church door, after divine service, that he will come to the place, and requiring all persons interested in the road to give him their advice or opinion with respect to the making the road; if there should be any want of attention to these formalities, and some others required by law, then the court would reject the proces verbal, which would oblige the grand voyer to do it over again with those formalities; but if the objection raised by the party opposing should be as to the expediency and justice of the roads, and the apportionment, the court would rarely venture to dismiss on those accounts, because the grand voyer is considered the judge of those matters. Appeals have sometimes been made from the court of Quarter Sessions to the court of King's Bench, and the court of King's Bench have held the same doctrines as to the authority vested in the grand voyer. Then the inhabitants of the townships consider themselves in no other way aggrieved by the present state of the law, with regard to roads in Lower Canada, than what necessarily arises from the inconvenient manner in which the English towns ips are laid out ?— I cannot say that those are the only complaints I have heard.

In what manner do the inhabitants of the English townships consider that they have been unfairly used by the Legislature with regard to the roads in Lower Canada?— They consider that the Legislature ought to have made provisions better adapted to the situation of the townships than the law which already exists. They also consider that it would have been perfectly fair for the Legislature to have caused money to be laid out in making those communications, and after they were made, in causing, while it should be necessary, some outlay to keep them out, till the inhabitants were enabled to do it.

Are the Committee to understand from what you have stated that it is more difficult to keep up good roads and good communications in the way in which the townships are laid out, than it is in the way in which the seigneuries are laid out?—It is far more difficult to get the roads originally made, as well as to keep them up.

You said that the Legislature, till 1817, had liberally provided for the roads of the province, and that since that time they have been inadequately provided for? What I said was, that there had been no provision that I recollected, except about 10007. during the space of 25 years, from 1791 to 1815; then in 1815 and 1817 there were considerable sums, by an act of the Legislature, ordered to be employed in the improvement of internal communications; and since that period, I believe, there have been only about 30007. devoted to that purpose.

To what do you attribute the Legislature giving less since 1817 than it did before?— I do not recollect the causes that I have heard assigned for it at present.

Since the year 1817, have any Appropriation bills for roads been passed by either branch of the Legislature, which have not received the sanction of the other?-I caunot state whether there was or was not.

Did you consider the want of communication in the townships as one of the grievances you were to represent.—I did, certainly.

To what did you attribute that want of communication, and what were the suggestions you had to offer for the remedy of it ?-Undoubtedly, one of the reasons to which the difficulties of communication, as well as many other difficulties under which the townships labour, I have generally heard ascribed to an indisposition on the part of the Provincial House of Assembly, to give encouragement to such settlements: that I have very often heard assigned as one of the reasons; it is by many believed to be a reason.

Have there been any proposals made in the Legislature to appropriate funds for the improvement of the internal communication in the townships since the year 1817?-There have; and I think that there may have been sums to the amount of about £3000 appropriated for roads, of which a part was directed to be employed in the townships.

Has the Governor, since the year 1817, ever called the attention of the Legislature to the necessity of improving the internal communications ?—Yes, in his speeches or messages, I believe, frequently.

What

« PreviousContinue »