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REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF DOMINION LANDS.
OFFICE OF THE DOMINION LANDS COMMISSION,
WINNIPEG, 7th December, 1881.
Ottawa. SIB,—I have the honor to submit for your information my appual report for the departmental year ending the 31st October, 1887, also the reports of Mr. Wm. Pearce, the Superintendent of Mines, Mr. J. M. Gordon, Inspector of Agencies, Mr. H. B. W. Aikman, who has been appointed a member of the Land Board, resident in British Columbia, with headquarters at New Westminster, and also the report of Mr. E. F. Stephenson, Crown Timber Agent for the Province of Manitoba.
REPORT of the work of the Commissioner's Office, for the Departmental Year ending
31st October, 1887.
No. of Letters Received.
No. of Letters Seat.
1,604 1,543 1,777 1,780 2,737 2,463 2,480 3,098 1,662 2,133 1,716 1,482
Seed grain notices and cir
Number of notices to show cause sont out in the year ending
31st October, 1887........... Number sent out last year.....
Applications for Homestead Patents.
1,367 There is, as you will observe, an increase in the work performed in my office, due in part to the distribution of seed grain to settlers in Assiniboia, Prince Albert and Battleford. The number of claims to lands in Manitoba, under the Manitoba Act and under the Order in Council relating to Staked Claims, which have been disposed of, is 41, and I am happy to say that very few now remain to be dealt with. The time within which claims under the said Act through occupancy might be filed expired on the 1st May, 1886, and unless tbis limitation should affect prejudicially the rights of persons who, excepting through the issue of patents, are unable to make satisfactory titles to lands claimed, through occupancy and possession, on the 15th July, 1870, it is desirable that the time for receiving evidence in these matters shall not be extended. The few remaining claims under the said Act, through purchase or lease from the Hudson's Bay Company, for which letters patent have not issued, will be dealt with as beretofore, no limit of time having been fixed within which to file the requisite evidence with regard to them.
Receipts from Timber.
The report of Mr. E. F. Stephenson, Crown Timber Agent at Winnipeg, shows an improvement in the revenue.
The amount received this year is $45,610.50, being an increase of $3,941.08 over
The returns of the local Timbor Agents in the Territories amount to $19,068.14, being a decrease of $2,303.17 compared with the receipts of last year,
The returns of the Crown Timber Agent for British Columbia amount to $15,141.47, being an ir crease of 85,984.81 over the receipts of last year.
The number of inspectors has been recently increased from six to seven, by the re-appointment of Mr. W. J. O. Bourchier to his old position. It was found necessary to add to the staff in consequence of the large amount of extra work devolving upon the inspectors in examining the homesteads of settlers who had given six modihs notice of intention to apply for patent. Before finally deciding upon an application, I now receive in pearly every case a report from the inspector, who has been upon the ground and ascertained precisely what the settler has accomplished in the way of improvements, and is in a position to speak definitely as to the good faith of his occupation.
The inspectors are being utilized more largely than ever in receiving evidence in support of these applications, thus saving settlers the expense of proceeding with their witnesses to the district land office.
Intelligence Service. The office at Winnipeg of the Chief Intelligence Officer, Mr. J. A. Metcalfe, has proved of material assistance in protecting and advancing the interests of newly arrived immigrants, directing them to localities where they may find suitable home. steads, or, if not at once prepared to take up lands, to employers who require their services.
The scope of the information in this office accessible to persons intending to make homestead entry will, in a short time, be very largely extended. It is proposed to keep there an accurate record of the position of overy quarter section in Manitoba and the North West, so that with the least possible labor and delay, intending settlers may be advised upon arrival at Winnipeg, where suitable homesteads may be secured. Mr. T. R. Burpé, Secretary to the Dominion Lands Board, who recently visited Ottawa for the purpose of examining records at the Head Office, bas devised a system of registration which is calculated to prove must useful, showing the exact position of every quarter section, whether it is patented or available for entry.
In connection with the office at Wiponipeg outside offices are established at Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat. The one formerly in operation at Moosomin has been closed and the officer who was in charge of it, Mr. E. Brokovski, has been promoted to the position of Agent of Dominion Lands for the Battleford district. The Medicine Hat office was opened recently and entrusted to Mr. E. Rochester, who was formerly employed in the Dominion Lunds Office at Calgary. In cousequence of the small extent of lands available for entry in the vicinity of Moosomin it will not, I thiok, bə necessary to re-open the intelligence office at that point.
Pre-emptions. It was deemed advisable in the public interest to issue a circular calling upon all persons in arrear in payments due upon pre-emption lands to pay within a limited time. The 1st January next is the date fixed upon. It was not the intention, of course, to deprive any one of the credit allowed under the Orders in Council providing for deterred payments by instalments, but it was ascertained that pre-emptions stood entered in the various Agency books in the names of settlers who were not in residence upon their homesteads and who were not entitled to the priviliges of the said Orders, having no intention of returning to their lands or of purchasing their pre-emptions. I feel satisfied that a very large number of entries will be cancelled through default in payment or in furnishing satisfactory reasons to justify the Gov. ernment in granting further extension of time. The lands, the entries for which are thus cancelled, will, under sub-section 5 of section 38, cap. 54 Revised Statutos, be thrown open for homestead entry, offering most eligible locations for intending settlers, and effecting a marked improvement in the settlement of the localities in which these lands are situate.
Seed Grain Advances. In consequence of drought or prairie fires the crop throughout the district of Assiniboia and in Saskatchewan River settlements, Prince Albert and Battleford, gave last year an exceedingly poor return. Representations to this effect were made to the Government by the North-West Council. It was asked that the Government should furnish the settlers seed in these districts, and in all the sum of $129,713.22 was provided for the purpose. The purchase and distribution of the grain were ontrusted to me and added very largely to the work of my office. All of the grain was bought on tender and subject to the approval of Mr. D. Horn, Acting Government Grain Inspector, who certified every car load to be either No. 1 grade or the best grade that was at that time procurable. I had little difficulty in obtaining a sufficient quantity of wheat No. I hard, but, owing to the partial failure of the oat crop in Manitoba in 1886, I was obliged to make arrangements for the importation of a large quantity of this grain from Ontario, and although overy precaution was taken in cleaning and preparing it for seed, it was not, I regret to say, in some instances, as clean as I could have wished. In no case, bowover, did we accept any seed that in the inspector's opinion should have been rejected, and, indeed, none of which the inspector did not fully approve.
The quantity of grain distributed to 2,032 settlers in Assiniboia was: wheat, 43,663 bushels; oats, 55,952 bushels; and barley, 10,236 bushels.
In the Prince Albert district 186 settlers received 664 bushels of wheat, 2,211 bushels of oats, and 1,898 bushels of barley; and in Battleford 64 settlers received 343 bushols of wheat, 3,578 bushels of oats, 755 bushels of barley, and 938 bushels of potatoes.
The whole cost of the grain was, including expense of distribution, $108,000, being $21,713.22 less than the amount provided.
Every settler who applied received all the seed he could use upon his own place, up to the limit of 100 bushels.
It is estimated that the product from the whole of this seed is not less than 1,500,000 busbels, which, but for this action of the Government, would not have beon grown.
It was at first stipulated that the settlers in the Prince Albert and Battleford districts should repay two bushels of grain for every bushel which they received. This, in view of the heavy transport charges involved in moving the grain from the line of railway to these remote settlements, was not an inequitable arrangement; but u8 the crop in these settlements was not a success in 1885 or 1886, in consequence of which they could ill afford to repay double quantities notwithstanding the fair crop this yeur, you decided to recommend that the Government should acoept bushel for busbei in discharge of the obligation, the same as in Assiniboia.
Borrowers of this seed are under obligation to return it on or before next April. I cannot as yet form an opinion as to the quantity we are likely to receive, but as the crop was good generally throughout the Territories, it is probable that the major part will be returned to the Government.
In any event there will be a very considerable loss. We paid for wheat, oats and barley, respectively, per bushel 70 cents, 60 cents and 65 cents, and are realizing now on the grain so far paid back 50 cents, 25 cents and 35 cents per busbel.
Recent Amendments to Dominion Lands Act, The amendments to the Dominion Lands Act suggested in my annual report for 1885, which have since become law, are operating very satisfactorily.
The six months notice of intention to apply for patent enables us to receive a report from a homestead inspector in nearly every case before deciding upon an application, while the settler avoids the expense of proceeding with his witnesses to the office of the local agent for the purpose of filing his evidence. The inspector visits him on his farm and receives the evidence there.
Cancelled Pre emptions. The determination of Parliament to allow you to open cancelled or abandoned pre-emptions for homestead entry upon conditions as to residence and cultivation slightly more stringent than the ordinary provisions is producing very satisfactory results, and I am satisfied that a large area of these lands will be entered for during the coming year. The improvement to be thus effooted in consolidating settlement will be most thoroughly appreciated by resident settlers in the neighborhood whose greatest difficulties at present arise from the isolation of their position. I am also convinced that the effect upon the publio revenue by the settlement of the lands in question will be better than the results of slow sales and the non-occupation of the lands in the meantime.
Hay Regulations I beg to submit for your consideration the advisability of so am ending the regulations now in foroo with regard to the cutting of hay, that, instead of granting quantity permits, we may issue permits covering a specified area of land not exceed ing say, one quarter section, to which the permittee, upon payment of a certain fee, of, say, 10 cents per acre, shall obtain the exclusive right.
I would respectfully suggest the propriety of your asking Parliament to provide ready means of redress against trespassers upon hay lands, operating in the same way as those which have been provided to meet the case of illegal cutting of timber. An amendment to the Dominion Lands Act, having this object in view, is most necessary to the successful enforcement of regulations.
School Lands. After consultation with the Government of the Province of Manitoba, it has been decided to offer for sale at an early date 250,000 acres of school lands situate in all parts of the Province. The lands for the purpose of this sale have been arranged in five districts, separate auction sales to be held at the most central place in each. The first will be held at Manitou on the 10th January, and at an interval of one week similar sales will be held at Winnipeg, Portage la Prairio, Brandon and Minnedos&.
The value of each quarter section to be offered has been appraised by an official of the Local Government, and another from my own office, and the reserve price-in Do caso less than $5.00 per acre—is governed by this appraisement, representing fully the present market value of the land. The terms of sale will be those prescribed by Section 25, Chap. 54 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, namely, at least one-fifth in cash at the time of the sale and the remainder in four equal successive annual instal. ments with interest at the rate of 6 per cent. per annum.
It is, I believe, in the interest of the Educational Endowment fund as well as in the interests of settlement that these lands should be placed upon the market. At present a considerable dumber of the quarter sections to be offered are in possession of squatters who, whilst enjoying the benefit of Municipal improvements and government, are in a position to refuse payment of taxes, and I believe very often do so. The coctinaed cultivation of these lands must in some degree exhaust them and diminish their intrinsic value.
The time chosen for the sale, following a bountiful harvest, seems to be opportune ; and I am satisfied that the reserve prices which bave been adopted amply protect the interests of the scbool fuad.
Immigration. The number of immigrants reported by Mr. Metcalfe, Chief Intelligence Officer, to have arrived here during the year is 17,035, being an increase of 7,737 uver last year, although in 1886, it must be borne in mind, the rolurns were for ten months only
There is, I am happy to report, & marked improvement in the class of immigrants who are now being attracted to this country. The arrivals in the past year are said to be largely agriculturists, and many of them possessed of considerable