By Gerry Nevile
September 15, 1915
The Honorable. the Minister of Militia and Defense.
Acquisition of land for Valcartier Camp Site
With reference to your request for a memorandum as to how the matter of the acquisition of Valcartier lands, with particular reference to the attached letter, dated September 3, from Mr. Mynott to the Prime Minister. Now stands, if we are to continue to recognize Lt. Col. McBain as the representative of this Department in connection with the acquisition of these lands, Mr. Mynott’s letter, in view of recent events, is hardly entitled to much consideration.
You will remember that when Lt. Col. McBain proceeded to England for the second time he left as his Agent at Valcartier to carry on the negotiations in connection with these lands, Mr. Frank Mynott, and we were advised by Lt. Col. McBain that we should act on Mr. Myott’s reports as if they came from him. I laid this matter before you and you approved of our acting in accordance with Lient. Colonel McBain’s request.
After the investigation before the public Accounts Committee last session it was decided to proceed to have the compensation to be paid in these several cases in the Exchequer Court with the least possible delay. Steps were taken accordingly, but it was impossible to have the cases heard by the Exchequer Court before the summer vacation.
Mr. Mynott after entering upon his duties, continued to negotiate with the property owners with a view to coming to a settlement if possible pending the cases being heard in the courts. He soon after began to represent that we were offering the farmers much too little for their properties. He was summoned to Ottawa in this connection, and you approved, before you last proceeded to England, that we should tender the defendants offers based on the Cloutier and Moore valuations which, as a rule were higher than those we had up to that time offered. As in some cases the Cloutier and Moore valuations were very much in excess ofthe valuations which we has heretofore based our offers on, It was considered desirable that we should obtain a further valuation to insure that we would not be paying an excessive price by adopting the Cloutier & Moore valuations, and it was suggested that Mr. Richardson of Messrs. Richardson and Argue, who acted for us in connection with the acquisition of the Connaught Range properties and who was being employed at Valcartier would be a good man to employ to make this further valuation. It was afterwards decided that Mr. Argue should be associated with his former partner, Mr. Richardson. The Department of Justice was notified to stay proceedings in the Exchequer Court pending the result of these further valuations and negotiations.
When the first lot of the Richardson and Argue valuations were received it was found that they were very much in excess in every case of any previous valuations obtained. Mr. Mynott went about with Messrs. Richardson and Argue. He made very copious notes of all that passed and he began to write letters which would seem to show that he was the representative of the vendors rather than acting for our Agent. His conduct was such as to make us doubt very much if he had not lost all his senses. The result of it all was that we realized that we were in a very much worse position thon we had been and I was directed by the acting minister to proceed to Valcartier to see these farmers personally and to offer them the Cloutier and Moore valuations plus 25 percent and interest from date of expropriation, the 25 percent being intended to cover compensation for forced sale and also for damage of all kinds .
The farmers were notified that I was to visit them, and Mr. Mynott to hold himself in readiness to accompany me. On arrival I was held up by Mr. Mynott. He told me, as he already told me by letter, that Lieut. Colonel McBain was not remunerating him for his services, and he intimated that if the Department would not employ him as its representative he would place himself at the disposal of the defendants and fight the Department on their behalf. I persuaded him to modify the stand he was taking by promising that as the Department would be remunerating Lieut. Colonel McBain for his (Lieut. Col. McBain’s) services I would endeavor, when a settlement was being effected, to have the Colonel settle with him. I told Mr. Mynott, as he had already been told, that both the acting Minister and the Deputy refused positively to recognize him as our agent; that our Agent was Lieut. Colonel McBain. To whom he would have to look for pay for his services.
I practically accomplished nothing by my visit. The defendants appeared to have very positive knowledge that the Richardson and Argue valuations were very much in excess of any previous valuations. When there is added to this the fact that Mynott lost no opportunity to tell the defendants that they were being outrageously treated by the Department, it is not a surprise that the defendants held out for prices which they never dreamed of a few months ago.
Upon my return I made a report to the Acting Minister advising that we adhere to the prices which I had offered. viz: the Cloutier and Moore valuations plus 25 percent, and interest from the date of expropriation. And that we proceed in the Exchequer Court to have the compensation to be paid determined. As Lieut. Colonel McBain was daily expected, no action was taken pending his return. The first opportunity the situation was discussed with Lieut. Colonel McBain and he advised that we should proceed in the Exchequer Court and that we adhere to our original offers, and this we have done. It is expected the cases will be heard in the Exchequer Court about October 18 but no definite day has yet been fixed.
Acting Deputy Minister,
Ottawa, Nov 3rd, 1916.
Re-acquisition of lands, Valcartier Camp Site
Dear General Hughes,
In reply to the Prime Ministers letter of the 28th ultimo, I beg to state as follows:
I should first say that in my report which accompanied my letter to you of Oct. 11th last, 1 was quite aware that I merely gave a statement of how the matter of the acquisition of the various properties within the Valcartier Camp Site stood at date of writing, i.e. what headway had been made to date by this Department in the purchase of the lands and what still remained to be done. This was all that I understood the Prime Minister desired in his letter to you of October 5th. I also understood that you were familiar with what had transpired and the reasons for the delay and were, therefore, in a position to furnish the Prime Minister with any further information he desired.
You are of course aware that the negotiations for the acquisition of the various properties within the Valcartier Camp Site have been wholly in the hands of Lt-Col. Wm McBain who was appointed for that purpose by you and moreover, privy Council is fully aware that this work is being carried out by an agent on behalf of the Department as your report recommending the purchase of the Valcartier Camp Site so informed Council.
You will remember that the first Order in Council authorizing the acquisition of the land for the Valcartier Camp Site was passed on June 20th. 1914, and the area authorized to be acquired under this order in Counci1 was enlarged by authority of a subsequent Order in Council dated August 27th, 1914.
Lt-Col. McBain prosecuted the negotiations with the various vendors for the purchase of their properties.
Until the end of the month of October, 1914, when after he had come to terms with a certain number of them, he left for England, presumably with your permission.
It was found impossible, during Lt-Col. McBain’s absence, to make any headway with the negotiations with the various owners still to be settled with. However. Steps were taken, in the meantime to obtain further valuations of some 15 properties against the owners of which Lt-Col. McBain had recommended that we take expropriation proceedings, so as to check the valuations which he had obtained. and Messrs. Cloutier and Moore who were recommended by the Hon. Mr. Casgrain, were accordingly in the month of January last to make fresh valuations. They submitted their valuations at the end of February, just prior to the return of Lt-Col. McBain from England .
Lt-Col. McBain arrived in Canada from England about the end of the first week in March and the question of closing up as quickly as possible, the purchase of the various properties within the Valcartier Camp Site was immediately taken up with him. The new valuations of Messrs. Cloutier and Moore which were in nearly every case higher than the valuation he had himself obtained, were shown him. Lt-Col. McBain after seeing Messrs. Cloutier and Moore and talking the matter over with them still adhered to his previous recommendation that the prices he had offered were fair and just and therefore recommended that we proceed right away with the expropriation cases and on April 9th last forwarded a new list of properties against the owners of which we should proceed.
This list included additional names to those mentioned in his first report. On April l4th the Department of Justice was instructed to take expropriation proceedings in the case of all the owners named in the list given by Lt-Col. McBain; and in the cases of certain of the owners who had been offered by Lt-Col. McBain less than the valuations, we made by your instructions, a fresh offer before proceeding to Court based upon the actual valuation and gave them until May 10th to accept.
The preparation of the information and other details took some time and it was found impossible to get the cases ready for consideration by the Exchequer Court before July 1, the date on which the legal summer vacation began.
In the meantime Lt-Col. McBain at the end ofthe month of April had again left for England whether with your permission or not, I do not know. He left as his representative to carry on the work of the purchase of the land, Mr. Frank Mynott, advising the Department that we were to consider any recommendations made by Mynott as coming from himself.
Mr. Mynott had no sooner entered upon his duties than he commenced criticizing what had been done by his employer Lt-Col. McBain. He urgently represented to the Department that the owners were being unfairly dealt with and that the prices we had offered were far and away below the value of their properties, and he recommended that we make offers based on the valuations of Messrs. Cloutier and Moore. So on June 10th, after a personal interview with Mr.Mynott you instructed that fresh offers be made to the several vendors based upon the valuations of Messrs. Cloutier and Moore, as it was expected that no delay would be caused thereby, in bringing any cases to the exchequer Court during the Autumn sitting of the Court. The Department of Justice was accordingly instructed to hold the expropriation proceedings in abeyance, pending the result of the fresh offers.
These fresh offers were made personally to the several vendors against whom we were proceeding in the exchequer Court by my assistant, Mr. Jarvis, who was in charge of the Department’s end of the work, and in every case except one were refused. I attach in this regard a memorandum addressed to yourself on Sept. 15th last by my assistant.
Mr. Jarvis duly reported and recommended that we adhere to the prices that he had offered. Viz; Messrs. Cloutier and Moore’s valuations plus 25% and interest from date of expropriation and that we proceed in the exchequer Court forthwith. However as Lt-McBain was daily expected no action was taken pending his return which was about the beginning of August. The matter was immediately taken up with him and he recommended that the Department of Justice be instructed to go ahead with the expropriation cases, upon. however, the bases of his offers which he still considered were all the Department should pay. The Department of Justice was forthwith advised and it is understood that the expropriation cases are to come off on the 6th inst.
With regard to the balance of the owners referred to in my report of Oct. 11th. some 43, and to which the Prime Minister particularly refers in his letter of Oct. 28th, I understand Lt-Col. McBain has taken up the matter of the purchase of their properties, tentatively with the various owners concerned but he is anxious before proceeding further with regard to these properties to wait, if possible, the result of the cases now before the exchequer Court as by so doing he expects to be able to come more easily to terms. I do not know what other reasons Lt-Col. McBain may have had for delaying until now in coming to terms with these owners, but I am given to understand that in the greater number of these cases no hardship is being suffered by our not coming to an immediate agreement with the owners for the purchase of their properties as is the case in regard to the owners against whom we are proceeding in the Exchequer Court. I also understand that a number of the property owners with whom negotiations are still proceeding are owners of small sub-lots on which they do not permanently reside, their homes being elsewhere.
I can only repeat that, as you are well aware, the matter of the purchase of the Valcartier lands has been left entirely in the hands of Lt-Col. McBain. Every means have been taken by the Department to avoid undue delay and to give, if possible, immediate effect to Lt-Col. McBain recommendations. Lt-Col. McBains’s unavoidable absence has handicapped the proceedings, although on his second visit to England he did leave somebody to look after the work for him viz: Mr. Mynott, but shortly afterwards, Mr. Myott and Lt Col. McBain apparently had a falling out, and from that time on, up to the time he was dismissed, Mr. Mynott seemed to be practically playing his own hand, without any consideration for his employer.
I may add that when I saw the confusion which was arising, owing to the recommendations of Mr. Mynott being directly at variance with those of his employer Lt-Col. McBain, I not only suggested verbally to the Hon. the Acting Minister the urgent necessity of recalling Lt-Col. McBain to this country but I also suggested it to you upon your return from England, and finally Lt-Col. McBain was ordered back to attend to the matter and clear it up.
Yours very truly.
Major-General, . ~
The Hon. Sir Sam Hughes. K.C.B.
Minister of Militia and Defense.
LETTERS AND EXCERPTS
August 27, 1914
From: Lt.-Col. Wm. McBain, Chateau Frontenac, Quebec
To: Deputy Minister of Militia & Defence Ottawa
I wish you would mail me a copy of the Order-in-Council recently passed giving authority to purchase or expropriate the additional area required for militia purposes. At the same time I would ask you not to send a copy of the Order to the Notary, nor to instruct him to close at the prices named in the valuations. It is just possible that I will be able to do better than these prices.
When I sent you the valuations, I stated that owing to the short space of time I could not have copies made. I would be glad if you would send me copies, as requested, for my records, and oblige.
Yours very truly,
August 29, 1914
Deputy Minister to Wm. McBain
I have the honour to inform you that, on the 27th instant, an Orderin-Council was passed, authorizing the acquisition of certain additional lands as an extension to the Valcartier Camp grounds, aggregating, approximately 10,116 arpents at a total cost not to exceed $140,000. I understand that you have been furnished with a plan showing the properties by the Director of Engineer Services.
ORDER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS DATE MARCH 2nd, 1915.
MOVER: – SIR WILFRED LAURIER
Lands taken possession of by the Government for the Camp at Valcartier.
1. The following lands have been taken by the Crown for the Valcartier Camp Site: –
(a) Parish of St. Gabriel de Valcartier; County of Quebec lots 1 to 43; 54 to 115, 124, 125, part 126; 135 to 154
(b) Parish of St. Ambroise, County of Quebec, Lots 329 to 342; 885 to 888.
(c) Parish of Ste. Catherine de Portneuf, Lots 276 to 287; 413 to 420.