Mr. Cameron's Appointment—Judge Richardson
Administrator During Cameron's Illness—Bulyea's Mission to the Yukon—
Liquor Permits for tiie Unorganized Territories—Yukon District Cut Off
from North West Territories—Comment of the Assembly—Increased Revenue—Untaxable
Lands—Consolidation of Territorial Ordinances—Increasing
Prosperity—Death of Mr. Cameron.
In June, 189S, Malcolm Colin Cameron became Lieutenant-Governor of the
North West, arriving at Regina on July 1. Throughout his long political
career be had manifested the keenest interest in western affairs, and it
will be remembered from our discussion of Parliamentary debates of the
early eighties that if his views had at that time been supported by a
majority in the House of Commons, the grievances of the West might have
been settled without the costly sacrifice of the year 1SS5.
Unfortunately, Mr. Cameron's regime as Governor of the Territories was
exceedingly short. During the first session of the Assembly the
Lieutenant-Governor was taken seriously ill, and the duties of his
office had to be performed chiefly by an Administrator.
This officer was the Honourable Hugh
Richardson, with whose name the readers of this History are already so
familiar. From 1876 to 1887 he had been a Stipendiary Magistrate and
official legal advisor of Lieutenant-Governors Laird and Dewdney, and
since that date he had with dignity and efficiency occupied the position
of Senior Judge of the Supreme Court of the North West Territories.
The Third Legislature assembled for its
fourth session August 16, 1898. Since the last session, Mr. Bulyea,
representing the Executive Council, had spent several months in the
Yukon District, where the recent discovery of gold and a consequent
influx of miners required that those responsible for the Territories
should take steps for the security of law and order. One of the most
important duties devolving upon the Territorial Government in connection
with its administration of affairs in the Yukon District arose from the
imperative necessity of regulating and restricting the import and sale
of intoxicating liquors.
The difficult task was very
satisfactorily performed. Satisfactorily especially from the standpoint
of the citizens of Alberta, Assiniboia and Saskatchewan. There were
distinctly humorous features in connection with this expedition of Mr.
Bulyea's. By a whim of fortune the Yukon had suddenly become a gateway
through which teeming multitudes of thirsty miners were crowding into
the interior of the North West. The West shuddered at the thought that
there was nobody there to collect funds payable in licenses for the sale
of the spirituous liquors those miners would require for the efficient
prosecution of their trade. Moreover, unless the collector of this
revenue, acting on behalf of the North West Government, retreated to
some inaccessible point forthwith, word might reach him at any time that
he no longer had authority to take the money. The rumour was already in
the air that the Dominion Government was on the point of separating, for
administrative purposes, the Yukon District from the rest of the North
West, so there was no time to lose. Mr. Bulyea was despatched in hot
haste to turn to the best possible financial advantage the waning hours
of Territorial jurisdiction in the far North. On the last day of 1907 he
left Regina upon his long and arduous journey to the Yukon. He, of
course, travelled via Vancouver and Skagway, from which latter point he
set out for the Canadian Yukon in February. March 15th saw him at Lake
Bennett, and 011 April 12th lie arrived at Dawson. The race was won. In
spite of friction with certain representatives of the Federal
Government, Mr. Bulyea collected for the benefit of the Territorial
Exchequer some one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, the reward
of promptitude, before announcement was made by the Dominion authorities
of the severance of the Yukon District from the North West Territories.
The Territorial Commissioner on August 25th left Dawson on his return
journey, arriving at Regina 011 the last day of the session, September
18th. Indeed, the members bad deliberately remained at the Capital in
order to welcome home their successful envoy, with his sorely needed
contribution to the funds available for the roads and bridges of the
In connection with this amusing passage
at arms between the Federal and Territorial Governments, Mr. Bulyea's
colleagues had been far from inactive during his absence. The whole
circumstance is interesting enough to call for review.
Under the North West Constitution as
amended in 1891, the control of the liquor trade, in that portion of the
Territories that was organized into electoral districts, was vested in
the Lieutenant-Governor and his Assembly and Council, but in the
unorganized districts it was controlled by the Lieutenant-Governor,
acting under the instructions of the Minister of the Interior at Ottawa.
In 1897, however, full Cabinet Government was accorded, an Executive
Council being created. Henceforth, all the official acts of the
Lieutenant-Governor required the advice and consent of the North West
Cabinet. The new provisions came into force on October 1st. A number of
large permits approved by Mr. Mackintosh were objected to bv Air.
Haultain. The Premier agreed to recommend all permits that had been
promised prior to October 1st, but required the production of the
correspondence antecedent to that date by which the Government was
committed to the issue. Mr. Haultain carried his point and enforced the
payment into the North West Treasury of a considerable sum that, but for
his determined action, would have been lost. A serious conflict between
the Federal and Territorial authorities was now precipitated. After Mr.
Bulyea's departure for the Yukon, to regulate the sale of intoxicants
and vindicate the jurisdiction of the Territorial Government, the
Secretary of State advised the Honourable Mr. Justice Richardson, who
was acting as Administrator in the absence of Mr. Mackintosh from the
Territories, that henceforth he was to issue no permits for taking
liquor into the unorganized districts, except on the recommendation of
the Minister of the Interior, the Honourable Clifford Sifton. Mr.
Haultain considered this an unconstitutional curtailment of the
jurisdiction of his Government, and presently advanced a test case by
recommending for approval a specific application. In accordance with his
instructions from Ottawa, Mr. Richardson refused to grant the permit and
the North West Premier had the case, with his protests, referred to
Ottawa. A deadlock now ensued as Mr. Haultain would not countersign and
thus make legally valid permits approved by the Lieutenant-Governor and
his Administrator, and that official would not countersign the permits
supported by Mr. Haultain. Consequently, from early in the winter until
the end of May, 1898, no permits whatever were issued. A spirited
correspondence took place, Air. Ross vigorously supporting his chief.
Ultimately the Ottawa authorities realized that their position was
constitutionally untenable and the obnoxious instructions were
It was not intended, however, that this
should work to the financial advantage of the North West government.
Parliament had passed an act cutting off the Yukon District from the
North West Territories for the purposes of separate administration and
it was evidently intended that this act should come into force before
Mr. Haultain could exercise the powers remitted to him by the
cancellation of the former instructions. It so happened, however, that
Parliament sat a fortnight longer than had been expected, so that this
Yukon Act was not signed by the Governor-General till June 13th.
This respite offered an opportunity,
which Air. Haultain and his colleagues did not fail to grasp.
Applications for permits had been pouring in and an indefinitely large
sum might have been realized 011 permit fees. However, Air. Haultain
governed himself by Air. Sifton's public statement
that the population of the Yukon was
40,000, mostly adult males, and by the statistics showing the average
consumption of liquor throughout the Dominion to be two gallons per
head. Accordingly permits were issued within the remaining two weeks of
the Territorial Government's authority for the import into the Yukon
District of 80,000 gallons. Upon this quantity-Mr. Haultain collected
the sum of $160,000 in fees at $2.00 a gallon.
The action of the Parliament of Canada
in cutting off the Yukon District from the Territories did not meet with
the entire approval of the Assembly, and the following resolution was
incorporated in the reply to the speech from the Throne:
"While the cutting off of the Yukon
official district may have been done in the general interests of the
country, we cannot but view with apprehension any indication of the
disintegration of the Territories as they are at the present
constituted, and we note with satisfaction that your Government took the
necessary steps to exercise their jurisdiction in the Yukon District,
and we will await with interest the report of the member of the
Executive Council entrusted with that duty."
On September 12th, the House passed a
resolution affirming the desirability of an early and final
determination of the boundary lines between the North West Territories
and other Provinces and Territories, but denying the right of the
Parliament of Canada to alter the limits of the North West Territories
without the consent of the Territorial Government. The Assembly, on
behalf of the people it represented, laid claim to equal rights with the
people of the Provinces in this respect. However, the Legislature
expressed its consent to such revision of boundaries as would separate
from the North West Territories those regions lying North of the
boundaries of British Columbia and Manitoba, respectively. At the same
time, the Legislature declared itself firmly of the opinion that the
political unity of the Territories should not be disturbed. After a
lengthy debate this resolution was carried by a vote of eleven to ten.
As a result of the windfall arising
from the policy of the Territorial Cabinet with regard to the
importation and sale of liquor, the Lieutenant-Governor was this year in
a position to make unprecedented announcement that the revenue of the
past year had considerably exceeded the estimates. Moreover, as result
of negotiations between the Government and the Minister of the Interior,
a bill had been passed at the last session of the Federal Parliament
relegating the North West Irrigation Act to the administration of the
Territorial Commissioner of Public Works.
The old question of untaxable lands
again came up for discussion. On motion of Mr. Haultain, seconded by Mr.
Ross, it was resolved that in the opinion of the Assembly immediate
action should be taken by the Federal Government to compel the location
and patenting of all lands to which railway and colonization companies
were entitled. The failure of the Federal authorities to act upon this
suggestion long enabled great speculating corporations to avoid their
share of taxes for schools, local improvements and other purposes. It
was the custom of the companies to make formal choice of a parcel of
land within the reserve covered by their option, only when a purchaser
had been secured. This anomalous privilege worked great hardship in many
quarters for very many years.- For example, in one school district known
to the writer less than half the land was available for taxation, though
the remainder was being offered in the market by a great land company
which paid no taxes. In consequence, though the ratepayers allowed
themselves to be taxed for school purposes at the highest rate permitted
under the law, they were unable to maintain a yearly school without
steadily going deeper and deeper into debt.
The task of the Commissioners who had
so long been engaged in consolidating the Territorial Ordinances still
occupied to a considerable extent the attention of the authorities,
though it was now nearing completion. Among the numerous new Ordinances
passed at this session was one amending the Irrigation Districts Law.
This considerably simplified the procedure with regard to irrigation
enterprises and rendered it much less expensive, to the great advantage
of the south western portion of the Territories. The House was prorogued
by his Honour the Administrator, on September 17th.
The records of the year evidenced
substantial prosperity and offered bright prospects for the future.
Immigration was rapidly increasing and it was evident that the
Territories had entered upon a period of unprecedented growth and
Owing to his continued ill health, Mr.
Cameron had been compelled to return to Ontario, and on the 26th day of
September, 1898, the people of the West and of Canada generally were
grieved to learn of the fatal issue of his illness.