Inauguration of Provincial Institutions—Forget's
Inaugural Speech —Choice of Capital—Lamont's Railway Bill—Provincial
Finances—Acrimonious Party Warfare— Prince Albert Elections—Provincial
Educational Legislation and the Supplementary Revenue Act—Supreme Court
and District Court Judges—Taxation of Railway Corporations—New
Election's Act—Redistribution Bill—Provincial Elections of 1908.
In the presence of the Governor-General,
the Premier of the Dominion, and many other distinguished guests, on the
occasion of the inaugural celebration of September 1, 1905. Mr. Forget
took his oath of office as the first Lieutenant-Governor of the Province
of Saskatchewan. In reply to the Governor-General's announcement of the
new dignity conferred upon the former Lieutenant-Governor of the
Territories, His Honour spoke in part as follows:
"My first words must be of thanks to
your Excellency for the high distinction just conferred upon me. I
tender those thanks most sincerely. I appreciate the honour, and I hope
I fully recognise the responsibility of the office 011 which I have
entered. It is no little matter to be the firstly appointed Lieutenant
of Your Excellency for the new Province of Saskatchewan.
"Even in ordinary circumstances the
event just witnessed by this large gathering would have great interest
and significance, and the circumstances are not ordinary. It has often
been said lately that the change of status now achieved by the North
West is the most important event that has occurred to Canada since
confederation. This may well be so, for arc we not today completing the
structure of federated Canada? I say then that the event is one of
general interest and significance, and if I may be excused a personal
reminiscence, I would say that it is to me especially a matter of
peculiar fascination. Today this immense throng of North West people
have witnessed the swearing-in of the first Lieutenant-Governor of the
Province of Saskatchewan, and my mind goes Lack to a small gathering at
Fort Pelly on the 24th of November. 1876, when I witnessed the
swearing-in of my esteemed, distinguished and venerable friend.
Commissioner Laird, as the first Lieutenant-Governor of the North West
Territories. There is a shade of sadness on the pleasing recollection in
the fact that Commissioner Laird and myself are the only survivors of
those who witnessed that historic event. From that day to this I have
lived a North Wester, have been associated with the Government of the
Territories and have been closely associated with the growth of the
institutions around which we now live."
The political history of the next few
years abounded in events of the first importance. Premier Scott, with
his Cabinet colleagues, Messrs. Calder and Motherwell, and the members
of the Assembly generally, enjoyed such an opportunity for constructive
statesmanship and the handling of large public questions as but rarely,
if ever, can occur again.
On March 29, 1906, the
Lieutenant-Governor opened his first session of the First Legislature of
the Province of Saskatchewan. Mr. McNutt was elected Speaker, and Mr.
Sutherland, of Saskatoon, Deputy Speaker.
The choice of a Provincial Capital was
one of the most interesting issues before the First Assembly. Claims
were raised in many quarters, but especially in Moose Jaw, Regina, and
Saskatoon. The members of the Legislature in a body visited Regina's two
chief rivals, and every species of pressure, legitimate and
illegitimate, is said to have been brought to bear upon the Assembly.
Finally, however, the Premier on May 23d announced the decision of the
Government in favor of Regina, and received the endorsation of the
An important railway bill was
introduced in this session by Attorney-General Lamont, and duly approved
by the Assembly. It provided that any railway company obtaining a
railway charter from the Provincial Government must complete at least
thirty miles of its line within two years, and the whole road within
five, and that railway companies must fence their right-of-ways. The
bill vested in the Government the power to expropriate any railway
constructed under a provincial charter, and to transform it into a
government road. Mr. Haultain, the leader of the opposition, criticised
the bill in various regards, and in a number of instances his suggested
improvements were adopted by the Government. The companies incorporated
during this first session were: The Saskatchewan Central Railway
Company, The Moose Jaw and Suburban Railway Company, The Canada Central
Railway Company, and The Saskatchewan Railway Company.
The Hon. J. A. Calder delivered his
first budget speech on May 16th. There had been expended under warrant
between the date of inauguration and December 31, 1905, ?iiS,6oi.oo. The
Government estimated the needs of the public services for the fourteen
months ending February 28, 1907, at $2,067,567.00. The revenue for the
North West Territories for the year 1904 had amounted to only
$841,846.00. It was thus rendered evident that under the new regime the
Government was enjoying a much freer hand than had Mr. Haultain's
A number of resolutions of general
interest were passed during this first session. The Assembly placed upon
record its regret at the death of Mr. Thomas Tweed, who for so long had
been a prominent citizen of the Territories. The Dominion Government was
urged to grant an investigation into the claims of the retired servants
of the Hudson's Bay Company, and their descendants, in the matter of
Lord Selkirk's lands and deeds. The "sum of $5,000.00 was voted by the
House in aid of the sufferers in the 'San Francisco earthquake. A
measure was introduced by the Premier raising the sessional indemnity of
members of the House from $500.00 to $1,000.00. In committee Mr.
Haultain proposed that the amount be set at $700.00—a proposition
defeated only by the chairman's vote. Considerable other legislation was
also passed, in all sixty-four measures.
The opposition, led by F. W. G.
Haultain. criticised the Government chiefly with regard to financial
matters. Under the new system the Premier was in receipt of a salary of
$6,000.00, and his colleagues of the Cabinet were to be paid $5,000.00
per annum, in addition to their sessional indemnity. Mr. Haultain
considered these salaries and the cost of legislation generally to he
disproportionate to the Provincial income. Seventy-five thousand dollars
had also been allowed as the Province's share for the maintenance of the
North West Mounted Police force. It was argued that the Government
should have insisted upon the Federal authorities retaining the complete
financial responsibility for the maintenance of the force. The
opposition also disapproved of a vote of $2,500.00 for the Western
Immigration Association. A vote of non-confidence passed upon these
criticisms was defeated by a strictly party vote of fourteen to eight.
The House was prorogued May 26th.
Reference must be made to a series of
disagreeable events arising out of the Provincial election. Mr. J. F.
Bole had been declared elected in Regina with a majority of three. His
opponent, Mr. H. W. Laird, together 'with his supporters, alleged,
however, that the ballot boxes had been tampered with, and in due time
the case was ventilated in the courts. The upshot of the matter was that
Air. Bole retained his seat.
A series of suits for alleged criminal
libel also arose from the acrimonious party warfare of the day. The
Premier won a verdict and trifling damages in his case against the
editor of the Regina Standard, but lost a similar action against the
editor of the Regina West.
. The election in Prince Albert County
was attended by deplorable circumstances. Very shortly before the
election the retiring officer ordered the establishment of three new
polls some three hundred miles north of the city of Prince Albert. Apart
from these polls, the opposition candidate, Air. S. J. Donaldson, had a
majority of fifty-six, but when the deputy returning officers from these
remote localities returned to Prince Albert, some ten days after the
election, their ballot boxes were found to contain one hundred and
fifty-one ballots all marked for the Liberal candidate, Dr. P. D.
Tycrman. This turned Dr. Tyerman's minority into a majority of
ninety-five. It was quite evident to everybody, however, that a fraud
had been perpetrated. One of the deputy returning officers promptly
absconded, and the others were arrested. They admitted that they had
never even reached the polling places in question, and were fined
$200.00 and costs each. Nevertheless, when the official recount took
place before Air. Justice J. E. P. Prendergast, lie decided that, under
the law, he had no function to perform except that of counting ballots
actually found in the boxes. In recalling this extraordinary incident it
is but just to say that Air. Donaldson himself vigorously resented
reflections cast in certain quarters upon the Judge's integrity, and
that opposition newspapers, such as the Regina West, admitted that,
under the circumstances, Judge Prendergast could not have acted
otherwise. Accordingly, Dr. Tycrman was gazetted as member for Prince
Albert, though he did not take his seat. Action was entered against the
returning officer, and the matter was before the courts off and 011 for
more than a year, when at last a verdict was given.
However, in April, 1907, the committee
of the Legislature on privileges and elections took into its
consideration the claims of Air. Donaldson, and found them valid.
Accordingly, by a unanimous vote of the Legislature, Air. Donaldson was
declared duly elected.
A large number of other protests had
been commenced, when, to the amazement of the public, Air. Prendergast
admitted the legality of an objection raised by counsel claiming that as
the Autonomy Bill had not distinctly declared the continued validity of
Territorial legislation respecting elections, the Courts of the Province
had as yet no jurisdiction in such matters. This judgment was
subsequently upheld by the Court 01 banc. Under the circumstances, the
Assembly itself alone had power to consider protests.
The separation of the Territories into
two Provinces necessitated the organization of a separate educational
council for Saskatchewan. Its members were Messrs. William Grayson, of
Moose Jaw; W. R. Sparling, of North Battleford; T. H. McQuirc. of Prince
Albert; A. H. Smith, of Moosomin, and the Rev. David Gillies, of St.
In July, 1906, Messrs. Scott and Lamont
visited Ottawa, where they arranged with the Dominion Government for the
transfer of the Land Titles System and various other important public
institutions from Federal to Provincial control.
Toward the end of the year the
Premier's ill health obliged him to leave the Province for some months,
and during his absence the Hon. J. H. Lamont acted as Premier.
The second session of the First
Legislature met on February 20, 1907. Important changes were introduced
in connection with the administration of justice. A jury act was passed
increasing the number of jurors required by law from six to twelve. A
new Supreme Court Act provided for a judicial system to replace that of
Territorial days. The new Supreme Court was to consist of five judges
residing at the Capital, but going on circuit at regular intervals. This
Court was to have both original and appellate jurisdiction. Salaries
were placed at $7,000.00 per annum for the chief justice, and $6,000.00
for each of his colleagues in the Supreme Court. The Province was also
divided into eight districts, with district courts, the judges of which
were given a wide jurisdiction, though in civil causes it did not extend
to cases involving a sum of money larger than $300.00, which has since
been extended to $500.00. The Law Society was also reorganised as a
Provincial body, and was given large disciplinary powers.
In presenting his second budget, Hon.
J. A. Calder, Provincial Treasurer, was able to report that the receipts
had been somewhat in excess of the estimates, and that a surplus of
$482,280.00 was carried forward. The chief item in the estimated
expenditures for the current year was that for public works. This
provided for the outlay of a million and a quarter dollars on small
bridges, and a quarter of a million on roads. The estimate for education
was only $25,000.00 larger than this last sub-item.
Next day Mr. Haultain introduced a
resolution calling for the "early establishment of a telephone system
owned and operated by the Province." An amendment was introduced by Mr.
George Langley on behalf of the Government and duly carried. This
proposal was one affirming the desirability of Government ownership of
telephones, but instructing the Government first to make thorough
inquiry into existing systems.
Much other important legislation
occupied the attention of the House, and some of the measures will be
further discussed elsewhere. Prominent among them was an Act defining
the scope, functions and character of the prospective University of
Saskatchewan, while another bill dealt with the organization and
maintenance of a system of High Schools. Closely associated with these
measures was the Supplementary Revenue Act. which was introduced by Mr.
Calder. It provided for the levying for educational purposes of a tax of
one cent an acre upon all taxable land outside of village and town
school districts. As a portion of this money would be used for the
support of High Schools, the law provided that the children from the
rural portions of the Province should be admitted to these institutions
Early in the summer of 1907 Mr. Scott
was again able to take up his work, and on June 21st he was the guest of
honour at a very large and noteworthy public banquet at Regina.
In the autumn Attorney-General Lamont
resigned his seat as member for Prince Albert city, and was appointed to
the bench of the Supreme Court. Mr. William Ferdinand Alphonse Turgeon
succeeded him as Attorney-General, and writs were immediately issued for
an election at Prince Albert. The opposition candidate was Mr. J. S.
Bradshaw, formerly Mayor of Prince Albert, to whom the uncontested
ballots gave a majority of one. There were, however, 339 contested
ballots, and when these had been reviewed in court, Mr. Turgeon was
ultimately declared elected by a majority of fifty-four. Meantime, Mr.
Scott's health made necessary a second leave of absence, during which
Mr. Calder acted as Premier.
The Hon. Edward Ludlow Wctmore was
appointed Chief Justice of the new Supreme Court, September fifth. The
other judges appointed to the Court, in addition to the Hon. J. H.
Lamont, were the Hon. J. S. I'. Prendergast, Hon. II. W. Newlauds, and
the Hon. T. C. Johnson. On November 21 st the appointment of the
district court judges was also gazetted: Reginald Rimmer for the
Cannington District; A. G. Farrel for the Moose Mountain District; T. C.
Gordon for the Yorkton District, and T. F. Forbes for the Prince Albert
The third session of the First
Legislature was opened by Chief Justice Wetmore, acting as
Administrator. An important measure of this session was the Provincial
Treasurer's Bill providing for the taxation of railway companies upon
their gross yearly earnings within the Province. A rate of three per
centum was to he levied in the case of lines seven years in operation,
and one and one-half per centum on those in operation for five years and
up to seven. The chief reason advanced in justification of this mode of
taxation was the Canadian Pacific Railway Company's claim by virtue of
its charter to be exempted from taxation on its roadbed, superstructure
Attorney-General Turgeon introduced
legislation to take the place of the old Territorial Elections Act. The
colored lead pencil system was replaced by printed ballots similar to
those used in Federal elections. Whereas formerly an individual's right
to vote, if it were questioned, was investigated after the election, it
was now provided that such inquiry should be made before. Voters' lists
were to be prepared by registrars and their deputies, on the basis of
personal registration in cities and towns and registration by
enumeration in rural districts. The district judges were to be revising
officers. While the bill was adversely criticised in some of its details
by the opposition, Mr. Haultain on the whole approved of the measure. "I
think," said he on May 1st, "that the Government had dealt with an
important matter in a broad and effective manner, and I congratulate the
Much debate of a somewhat less amicable
nature attended the passing of the Redistribution Bill. The whole
subject was placed in the hands of a select committee. The members of
the committee representing the Government and the opposition,
respectively, prepared and exchanged elaborate maps on the basis of
which the Province was first divided into four sections to be
represented by so many members each, and was ultimately mapped out into
forty-tour constituencies. This was an increase of sixteen. Among the
other bills passed during the session was one providing for a five-year
term for future legislatures, subject, of course, to the
Lieutenant-Governor's right of dissolution.
The House was prorogued on June 12th
and on July 20th the First Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan was
rather unexpectedly dissolved. The ostensible reason for the dissolution
was the passing of the Redistribution Act, and the desirability of
bringing it promptly into effect. However, less than three years had
elapsed since the elections of 1905, and the opposition claimed that the
advice given to His Honour in this connection was not justified by any
public necessity and was based simply on a desire of the Government to
take their opponents by surprise. The elections resulted in the return
of twenty-seven Liberals and fourteen Conservatives, but involved the
defeat of the Hon. Mr. Motherwell, Minister of Agriculture, and the Hon.
Mr. Calder, Minister of Education and Provincial Treasurer. A short time
afterwards, however, the Federal elections caused vacancies in Saltcoats
and Humboldt through the election of Mr. Thomas McNutt and Dr. D. B.
Neely to the House of Commons. Mr. Calder was returned for the former
constituency and Mr. Motherwell for the latter.
The election of 190S, like that of
1905, was associated with a number of cases of criminal libel. During
the campaign the Premier had made deliberate charges reflecting upon Mr.
W. H. Laird, the Conservative candidate for Regina. The resulting
lawsuit went to the Supreme Court, and on February 1, 1909, the jury
announced the impossibility of agreeing upon a verdict. The case, with
others that had been based upon it, was withdrawn, as also was one
entered by Mr. J. G. McDonald against the Premier, and another commenced
by Mr. Scott for defamation of character. At the close of 1908 Mr. Scott
announced that a royal commission would be appointed to inquire into
charges against the Minister of Education in connection with the letting
of school book contracts. Wholesale accusation and insinuations in this
regard had no doubt been influential in bringing about the personal
defeat of Mr. Calder. The commission consisted of Chief Justice Wetmore
and Mr. Justice Newlands. Its report, dated April 8, 1909, exonerated
the Minister of Education.
As approach is made nearer and nearer
to the time at which a history is actually written, difficulties
confronting the historian become, in many important respects,
increasingly disconcerting. The lapse of time is essential in order to
any general agreement as to the meaning and permanent importance of the
events that might or should find a place in a record of political,
social and industrial development. The portion of the present work
devoted to these topics will therefore conclude with the expiring of
Lieutenant-Governor Forget's term of office and the succession of His
Honour, Lieutenant-Governor George William Brown, in 1910.