Newfoundland National Convention, 13 December 1946, Debates on Confederation with Canada


December 13, 1946

Report of the Transportation and Communications Committee:[1] Committee of the Whole

Mr. Smallwood Mr. Chairman I would suggest that Mr. Secretary might read the report on the tourist trade.[2] There are two very long appendices attached to the report, and another not quite so long, three in all. It might not perhaps be necessary for these appendices to be read, although members would no doubt like to refer to them throughout the debate.
[The Secretary read the report on the tourist trade]
Mr. Fowler I would like all the members present to know that my knowledge of the Tourist Board[3] is comparatively new, and chiefly confined to this report, and the correspondence I have lately read in the press as a result of the resignation of the Tourist Board.
The opening remarks of the Committee suggested that the Tourist Board's work was one of the bright spots in the country's affairs. It has been demonstrated quite clearly that the Tourist Board has more than given good returns for the money they expended. It is incomprehensible that the work of the Board has been treated in such a careless fashion by the Commission of Government. The mind of a government that will look at the work of the Tourist Board, that has worked voluntarily over a period of 20 years, and dismiss their labours in such a summary fashion, is beyond my comprehension. I can only assume that the gentlemen handling our affairs are not only utterly callous to the future of our country, but actually do not want to see this country prosper. It is apparent that tourist traffic can be a major industry but for reasons best known to themselves the Commission of Government are not going to see this industry properly developed. If we had the power I would like to move a vote of censure on the Commission of Government for their attitude towards the most important industry of the country.
The future of the tourist industry cannot be too strongly stressed. I am firmly convinced that with a proper approach it can be a wonderful asset to us. We have seen what the tourist industry in Nova Scotia has meant — why, in the last year alone the sum of $22 million was realised, Even with the very conservative figure of $50 per tourist in Newfoundland in the last year before the war, the sum of $346,500 was realised. I am certain that $50 is too conservative and at least the sum of $ 10 per day is spent by tourists coming to Newfoundland. This would mean that $750,000 came to the revenue in 1939.
Newfoundland is the least explored country in the world as far as tourist traffic is concerned. It has a real attraction for tourists, and if we properly develop the traffic Newfoundland is assured of a definite income that will increase as the years come. When we realise that for salmon fishing alone we have over 200 fishing streams, we can be sure that our country's possibilities are of immense value.
Mr. Higgins I heartily endorse everything Mr. Fowler has said. I agree with his condemnation of the powers that be over our tourist trade. I congratulate the Committee on a very fine and full report, because I see tremendous possibilities in the future for our tourist traffic. I, like a good number of you here, have gone over a great part of the country. I have observed it particularly from the tourist standpoint, because most of my wanderings have been for sport-fishing or shooting. I am convinced it is a factor in the economy of our country. All we have to do is look nextdoor to our immediate neighbour, Canada and Nova Scotia alone, where the attractions are not a patch on our own, in spite of any ideas some people may have. We look at our own and we see that in 1939, 6,900 tourists came here and spent an estimated $346,500, and that for an expenditure by this government of $34,932. I am sure the figure of $50 spent by each tourist is very conservative and this $346,000 coming into the country can easily be doubled, or possibly trebled. In the past three years the Tourist Board's grant from the government has been $26,000, and we have seen 210 NATIONAL CONVENTION December 1946 the returns. We saw the crowds of tourists in the country this year, even though no preparations had been made for their accommodation. We have seen all during the war years the potential visitors we will have, even if members of the forces and their relatives only came here once. All that goodwill that has been built up is in grave jeopardy by a government which, rightly or wrongly, is pursuing a most extraordinary policy. I have criticised Major Cashin in this House earlier in the debates about remarks made about this government. I am beginning to wonder if he is not right and I am wrong. Because the attitude of this government today is utterly incomprehensible; and your report, Mr. Smallwood, is the same thing. All we have to do is look at the correspondence between the Tourist Board and the Commissioner for Public Utilities leading up to the resignation, the most discourteous treatment any body of citizens was ever handed in this country by any government. It is hard to realise that in the Commission of Government are three Newfoundlanders who subscribed to the letters shown in this correspondence.
The correspondence began September, 1945, urging on the government the necessity of taking action about the tourist policy. After a lot of cajoling they finally agreed to have two experts, one at a time — the Mathes agency was the first one, they came down and made a survey in 1945, and they made their report.[1] On page I you will note: "Has Newfoundland a tourism potential worth developing? Our answer is most emphatically YES." They give reasons why. You have the report of Oliver[2] who comes back in his report this year entirely agreeing with the Mathes agency. On page 1 Oliver says, "Newfoundland has a very considerable tourist potential, and there should be no doubt of that. I have not attempted to detail it, because Mathes' presentation to your Board has already done so in comprehensive fashion." These two reports were all any government should need to be quite certain they were on the right track. They had their own Board's recommendation for years before that; their constant urging on the govemment for action; and then to bolster that position that had these two agencies make these very valuable reports. And what do they do? All we have to do is refer ourselves to the correspondence and we will see the most discouneous letter ever written by a government department to a semi-govemment agency. and written to nine men who comprise this Tourist Board — nine unpaid citizens who have given, some of them, 20 odd years of service to the country. Their names alone will tell you who they are and what their work means: W.A. Reid, J.F. Meehan, J.W. Allan, C.E.A. Jeffrey, A.B. Perlin, Leonard C. Outerbridge, Cyril Duley, A.W. Bentley, And, I believe, Herbert Russell, who did not sign the letter because he is an employee of the government and could not very well do so. They write the Commissioner for Public Utilities urging the implementing of these reports. The various letters show how they went about it. Mr. Reid wrote on 6 June to J.S. Neill, the Commissioner, and I want to read part of it:
With reference to the report on the tourist possibilities of Newfoundland, made by Mr. Douglas R. Oliver of Toronto, copy of which was forwarded to you on April 16th, I have to inform you that the Board has given careful consideration to this report, and considers it to be a sound and conservative appreciation of the situation, and is generally in accord with the recommendations and suggestions contained therein. If you will refer to my letter to the Hon. Sir George London of September 19, 1945, copy of which is enclosed. which sets forth very clearly the Board's views regarding what steps should be taken in this matter, you will see that the strong recommendation was made that immediate steps be taken to procure from the Canadian National Railways or some like source, the services of a thoroughly trained and competent executive from their tourist department. This man should come here without delay to study the situation and to make recommendations to the government as to the best form of organization which should set up for the development of the tourist December 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 211 industry.
As a result of this recommendation, authority was eventually given for Mr. Oliver's visit, which culminated in the report above referred to, and which confirms the contention of the Board and the opinions expressed by all those whose advice has been sought and who, it is believed, are in a position to speak with some authority on the subject, namely, that the tourist industry in this country is capable of successful development.
It is now the urgent request of the Tourist Board that the recommendations contained in the report should be implemented as quickly as possible, particularly with regard to the setting up of a new government tourist organization. Here let me say that it is the feeling of the Board that the head of this organization should occupy a position analogous to that of the chairman of the Fisheries Board, or the manager of the Newfoundland Railway.
I have been requested by the members of the Board ... to set forth their position with regard to the future of the Board's activities. Just prior to the outbreak of the recent war, the matter of the appointment of a full-time director, and the general expansion of the activities of the Board were under active discussion with the Hon. Sir Wilfred Woods who was at that time Commissioner for Public Utilities. When the war intervened it was agreed that for the duration of hostilities tourist expenditure should be kept to a minimum ... but that the organizations in St. John's and New York should be kept together with a view to expansion to take advantage of the anticipated post-war travel demand. Two years ago the opportunity occurred to secure the services as director of Mr. C.C. Duley, who has been associated with the Board since its inception.... Mr. Duley became the Board's director, and since that time, largely due to his efforts, an intensive study of tourist possibilities in selected localities has been made and various recommendations forwarded to the Commissioner. However, no indication of the government's attitude towards tourist development has been forthcoming, and no policy in this connection has been announced. The members of the Board, some of whom have served for 20 years, now feel that they are entitled to a definite pronouncement from the government as to its policy with regard to the development of the tourist industry....
As you know, the members of the Board are all engaged in businesses of various kinds and it is therefore impossible for them to devote more than a certain portion of their time to this work. If, however, the development which we hope to see takes place, we are all prepared to do anything we can to be of assistance to the Government in this undertaking.
(signed) W.A. Reid, Chairman
That is the letter and I make no excuse for reading it at this length because the answer is all the more worthy of condemnation.... The answer to the letter was in this form.
I should be glad if you would refer to your letter of the 6th June, concerning the report made by Mr. Douglas R. Oliver upon tourist possibilities in Newfoundland.
Your letter and Mr. Oliver's report were considered at a recent meeting of the Commission of Government and 1 have been directed to inform you that, while the government believes the tourist industry in Newfoundland is capable of development, it does not propose to incur expenditure in the erection of accommodation for tourists, as it is felt that this is a matter for private enterprise.
The need for additional roads is appreciated and progress is being made in this direction as quickly as circumstances will permit.
As you are aware, the government is already making a grant of $26,000 per annum to the Newfoundland Tourist Development Board. No doubt the sums so made available will continue to be expended to the best advantage.
The government is not prepared to establish a new tourist and travel authority.
(signed) J.S. Neill.
(for) Secretary for Public Works.
We look at this programme — this expenditure of $59 million — and there was not one cent allocated to tourist traffic. It would definitely 212 NATIONAL CONVENTION December 1946 indicate that the "Big 6" have made no allocation for anything in the way of tourist development. In spite of all the advice they have had, in spite of experts going over the country, they come back and say, "No, we have no interest." That is the only department of the government which produces money — big money.
This Board has resigned and the next thing we will have is the paid personnel of the Tourist Board receiving their notices at the end of the year. I do not think we should let the opportunity pass without at least expressing our opinion on the utterly ruthless policy of the government. It is the one department putting in time and effort and getting returns. But it does not meet with the approval of our rulers! It leads to the belief that has been expressed that the government does not want this country to become wealthy, for reasons best known to themselves. We have got to be kept in the condition of servitude so that we will not get too independent.
If we refer to the paid personnel of the Tourist Board, I know the work that has been done by them. They are not paid for working nights, Sundays or holidays; but the Board has been there nights, Sundays and holidays. Even the voluntary workers have been there on such occasions. It has not cost the country anything, because the Tourist Board and the paid personnel have been crusaders for their ideas rather than merely earning government money. Some departments know what work has been done by that Board and their value; and the government expresses its thanks in three paragraphs. We have this letter addressed to Mr. Reid:
26 November 1946.
1. I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of the letter of the 15th November, addressed to His Excellency the Governor in Commission, signed by you and other members, tendering your resignation from the Board.
2. I am directed to accept the resignations. In doing so I am to express the thanks of the government for the services you have rendered and to express our regret that you have found it necessary to sever your connection with the Board.
3. I have sent a copy of this letter to the other signatories under reference.
(signed) J.S. Neill
After 20 years service, that is what the government thinks of our fellow countrymen. I think I have gone further than I intended to in this matter. That is such a rank injustice that I could not let it pass without giving you my comments as I feel them and as I believe a good many members felt today.
Mr. Smallwood There are several points about tourist travel business that ought to be brought out. If an American or Canadian concern comes to Newfoundland to start a paper mill or a mine, we are all very glad. It means they employ Newfoundlanders and pay out wages, it circulates money. But a paper mill or mine uses up some of this country's natural resources. There is this about the tourist trade; money is brought into Newfoundland by tourists who come here and spend and do not use up any of the natural resources. You might also say it is money for not exactly nothing; they get pleasure out of our climate, our air, out of meeting our people and by knocking around the country. Some of them do take some salmon and other fish — that is a very small diminution of the resources. This Tourist Board, as Mr. Higgins said, has been working for something like 20 years, absolutely free. When the Tourist Board appeared before the Transportation Committee I am sure all the members were deeply impressed.... These hard-headed, practical businessmen are not easily impressed with the financial possibilities of anything. We were impressed by the great faith these men had in the tourist possibilities of Newfoundland. I have been a firm believer that the tourist trade constitutes the most promising thing we have in this country today. If Newfoundland in 1946 had been ready to receive them, Newfoundland could have got many, many thousands of the tourists who, in this present year, were spending $4 billion on the North American continent. It would not take a great many million dollars to bring into Newfoundland each year 40,000 - 50,000 tourists. If 100,000 tourists can be brought into Nova Scotia in one year, I feel quite confident that we can bring that number of tourists into Newfoundland for a fortnight or a month or six weeks and some even longer, every summer, it can mean $10 million or $15 million of new money coming in without costing the country anything in the way of its natural resources.
We have got to get away from the idea that the only tourists who can be brought in here are the men who come in for salmon fishing. That's the old idea, but this Mathes advertising agency of New York, a large and important American concern, who have specialised in the travel trade, representing many hotels and other tourist catering organisations in the US, when they surveyed the tourist possibilities of Newfoundland they pointed out that this idea is entirely wrong. You will see listed one thing after another which to other people, Canadians and Americans, are quaint, unusual, appealing and interesting. When they spend three or four weeks here they go back thrilled and interested by the different accents they find, and the different scenery we have. These things have a cash value, and it does not cost anything for American or Canadian tourists to have a look at us. What stands in the way? This Mr. Douglas R. Oliver who submitted his report, spent five years as director of the Ontario government's   Trade and Tourist Bureau. Ontario gets most of the tourists who come into Canada, over one million tourists in a year.... So they bring this Mr. Oliver. He comes down and makes a study and looks over the various plans that the Board had drawn up, takes them back and submits these plans to another man in Ontario, who is the manager of a firm which is catering to tourists, and operating a number of hotels, who looks over them with his expert eye and points out some weaknesses. For instance, the plan for Stephenville area.... There they propose that a tourist hotel should be built. Their original idea was that it would be one large building but when Mr. Oliver submitted that plan to that tourist hotel manager in Ontario, up in Muskoka Lakes, he said, "Look, all the experience we have shows that it would be a mistake to have one building to house all your tourists. Instead of that have one building, and a series of small cabins scattered through the trees around that large building. They can sleep in the cabins and eat in the hotel. You cut down the cost of accommodation, heating, etc." Finally they got this report and presented it to the government. What are they asking the government to do — put up a lot of tourist hotels? No. They are asking for one only, in the west, centering around Stephenville, because you have magnificient fishing and scenery there, and also Corner Brook. Hook up that by road, and your tourist can land by boat at Corner Brook and later on by air at Stephenville or Harmon Field, and coming east and west by road they can center around this Stephenville area. They have taken that as a seeding ground. Now, they said that if the government would build that hotel as an example, then if it worked out private capital would be encouraged to build the same kind of accomodation centres in the other areas.... If only the government would spend a few dollars. They have $30 million belonging to us accumulated over these rich war years, and if they would build just one, beginning at Stephenville, as an encouragement and an example to other people, then in the course of a few years we might end up by having a magnificent tourist trade.
The government had no faith, belief, no interest in it, being just coldly indifferent to the whole thing, and you have the future of these eight or nine men of whom Mr. Higgins speaks, working their hearts out, giving their time and work, you would not know but the fate of the country depended on the way they have been working, and the government are completely indifferent to it. They have given them $180,000 in all those years, and for that in these same years the Tourist Board hands back $4 million. If they can find a better proposition than that I would like them to lead me to it.
If the people of Newfoundland only knew the possibilities there are for the tourist travel trade, if they could see the millions of dollars that could be brought into this country by merely spending a bit of money. What have they spent on land settlement schemes? Gone down the drain a lot of it. They have spent millions in the last ll years and what have they got to show for it? Here is a chance for them to spend one or two million and bring in perhaps a million a year.... We can only try to let the country know.
Mr. Ashbourne I think this matter has been well covered by previous speakers. I feel sorry that the Tourist Board has decided to retire. I guess they felt it was about the only thing that they could do — probably as a matter of protest. It is a natural consequence, after being no doubt greatly disappointed at the lack of encouragement, that they should feel as they do. We are situated on an island, and probably there was a time when people who perhaps had a certain fear of the sea hesitated to leave the mainland; but 214 NATIONAL CONVENTION            December 1946 today, with the advance and progress of air transport, we are in another and different situation altogether...
As Mr. Smallwood said, we know we need accommodation in Newfoundland to look after tourists. We certainly want more road extensions, so that the roads will come to the piers and these people will have outlets so that they can come, see and enjoy our trout and salmon fishing, and also take in the beautiful scenery. Faith and a breadth of vision are essential in this matter, and I can only hope the resignation of this Tourist Board will bring the matter to a head, and that the government will change its attitude so that this country can come in on this mine of potential income.
Mr. Northcott I too agree with the various speakers in connection with the tourist trade. It is nothing short of a crime that the government has not assisted in every possible way the tourist trade in Newfoundland. The possibilities are beyond all comprehension, and should be pushed to the limit, especially when the government had the men at its disposal to do the job. The figures of $50 per person quoted in the Amulree Report are very conservative... If we go over the tourist trade in the right way and make it worthwhile I am convinced that it would be the second or third largest industry in this country today. I fail to see why the government has not taken a greater interest in this all-important issue. If it were outside interests looking for concessions the chances are they would have been given, but unfortunately the people asking for these concessions happened to be Newfoundlanders, and that is why I think they were not granted.
Mr. Hickman Mr. Chairman, I am wondering if Mr. Smallwood could tell us, in relation to these figures covering the number of tourists from 1929 up to 1939, do they include those people who travelled here by the S.S. Fort Amherst and Fort Townshend and Fort St. George, arriving here on Thursday and leaving Saturday, or are they people who have come in for a definite stay?
Mr. Smallwood The figures given are strictly tourists. They are not travellers or businessmen or returning natives, but people who come in here on pleasure bound. It would include some round trippers. The round tripper in any country is regarded as the poorest result of the tourist trade.
That is the person who with a fortnight's holidays with pay, the round trip, canjust afford to perhaps buy a book or two and take snapshots and a few souvenirs, but they are the small minority. The big majority — well, Mr. Hickman will have noticed in one of the appendices the exact account of the money spent. The Tourist Board estimates the money that a handful of tourists spent this year, 1946. They counted the number of tourists that visited a few rivers this year, and got an exact count of what they spent, and it was I think $80,000 or $90,000, an average of $400- 500 per tourist.
There are cases well known to the Board of tourists coming and spending from $1,000 to $1,500 or $2,000. We have all known of cases where the wealthy tourists have actually adopted the families of their guide for instance, and send money down to these families each year. Many of them are extremely wealthy men, some in Canada and the States whose income runs up to from $100,000 to $1 million a year, and they don't mind spending $4-5,000 a year. It is a country they don't know, unusual and different, and these round trippers are so insignificant in number that it's hardly worthwhile mentioning them at all.
Incidentally, here is a table just brought in, for the first nine months of this year, 1946. In the first nine months of 1946, 700,000 US automobiles entered the Maritimes with tourists. Incidentally, the house will be interested to know that 2,000 motor cars arrived at North Sydney for the purpose of coming over to Newfoundland, thinking there was a ferry service on the boat, as there is on PE Island. The federal government has a ferry which takes 60 motor cars aboard. They do not need to get out of their motor ears. 2,000 arrived in Sydney thinking they were going to get to Newfoundland, in addition to the 700,000 who entered the Maritimes. We have no conception of what a monumental trade this travel is. Americans have itchy feet —they get in their cars and go all over the American continent. We want to get a batch of them here where they will spend American money.
Mr. Hollett I thoroughly endorse the statements of Mr. Fowler, Mr. Higgins and others, particularly in regard to the Tourist Board, and the frightful discourtesy handed out to them by some junior clerk in that department —- at least he was December 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 215 ordered to do it....
In dealing with this report of the Tourist Committee I hope I am not going to throw cold water on the enthusiasm expressed by other members. I note 1 1/2 pages are taken up with tourist trade in Canada, which gives us some interesting facts I cannot find in the rest of the report about Newfoundland. In looking at the tourist traffic as it applies to Canada, and looking at it as it applies to Newfoundland, we are looking at two different propositions. In the United States a man gets in his car, takes his family, and drives to some place in Canada with little or no inconvenience.... In this country, there are 90 miles separating us from the mainland, absolutely no ferry service. When you get to Port-aux-Basques you get on a train which is slow moving and you eventually arrive at Glenwood. I have been there and I have seen tourists coming to Glenwood. At one time I heard a lot of curses from four tourists who came up from the Gander River and had to stand outside the station, the waiting room was locked, waiting for the car, a train coming up from Grand Falls. They did not like the trip very much. The type of tourist we will get will be sportsmen, people who want to get away from it all, get clear of the office and into the wilds where no one can get at them; men who do not mind roughing it. They will go to the Humber and the Gander and other lakes. That is the type we have been getting in the past. In the report I think the Committee envisages what Oliver and Mathes envisaged; that is, that the government should construct a road; that they should build a first-class hotel at Stephenville with several cabins; that hotels be built in other places, and so on. I do not see that the Committee has brought in any figures to show just what this scheme is going to cost the government.
Mr. Smallwood It is in the appendix.
Mr. Hollett That is only a small part in a large scheme. I would say the Committee has not been able to get facts or figures from the Tourist Board as to the possible outlay of money it will cost the country. I am not speaking against the tourist traffic; it has possibilities I feel that there is little possibility of making much money as a private concern until we get a road through the country, and until we get a few landing places for small planes where people with lots of money can come in and drop down near the lakes or rivers where they want to fish. Such a plan as that brought forth by Oliver and Mathes would have to be presented to Dominions Office, and when you say the Commission of Government tumed down the suggestions of the Tourist Board, simply say Dominions Office. They, in their wisdom, cannot see any possibilities in this country for tourist traffic. If we can ever get to the point where we get transinsular road, I do not think we will have to ask the government to start business.
Mr. Smallwood In the Mathes' Report the very point which Mr. Hollett raised is dealt with:
C. Accommodations
We must be extremely frank and say that here is Newfoundland's first great weakness. But it is not one that cannot be quickly remedied. As the Bank of Montreal plainly stated in their recent report on tourism in Canada, the American sportsman and tourist wants first class accommodations. This means attractive location, distinctive appearance, good beds and mattresses, hot and cold running water, showers and private toilets, cleanliness and paint. That is not their idea of luxury — just comfort.
Section three of the report covers the other points raised.
Mathes and Oliver do not say there must be a transinsular road. At the point where tourists land, whether it be Port-aux-Basques, Corner Brook, St. John's, Lewisporte or wherever, there ought to be roads leading out; that does not involve a transinsular highway. If they land in Port-aux-Basques, where are they going to go then, when there is no road leading out of Port- aux-Basques?
Mr. Hollett Where did the 2,000 think they were going?
Mr. Smallwood They were on four wheels and probably thought they would wander around Newfoundland and go back by way of Nova Scotia. But if there had been a ferry across the Gulf even, there still would be no place to go when they got in Port-aux-Basques. They would just have to go back across the Gulf. That is the problem to be solved.
Mr. Fudge I have listened with a great deal of interest to Mr. Smallwood's report on the tourist trade, and one thing strikes me as outstanding. You will remember that Mr. Smallwood was able to give the exact number of tourists entering Canada during 1945, even the exact number of 216 NATIONAL CONVENTION December 1946 dollars spent there. I wonder if Mr. Smallwood would be good enough to tell us where he got this information and from whom? When it came to the question of the exact number of items comprising the purchase by the government of the equipment at Gander this fine detail was not available. Surely some sort of inventory was made and that self same inventory must now be in the possession of the Commission of Government. Further, it appears to me that if Mr. Smallwood had taken the same pains to obtain this inventory as he did to get the figures of the tourist trade in Canada, this information would now be in our hands. The purpose of this Convention is to enquire into the position of this country, and no doubt by his figures he intends to show what the tourist trade will mean here. That depends on the future form of government we may have, as the Commission of Government, I understand, has already turned thumbs-down on the tourist trade. However, Mr. Smallwood's figures on the value of the tourist trade to Newfoundland 1929- 1939 are small in comparison with Canadian figures. I cannot understand why our Commission of Government turned down the aggressive policy to encourage this trade. Certainly an explanation should be forthcoming. It is a question of vital public importance. I feel hot under the collar when I am reminded of the Gander deal whereby the Commission saddled us with $1 million a year operating cost and then turned down a profitable tourist trade. I can only come to one conclusion and that is that their only interest is to run us in the hole. Perhaps we cannot expect the Dominions Office to display great interest in our welfare, but we should expect and demand from the Newfoundland representatives their sense of duty to the people of our country.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Fudge asks the question as to where the Transportation Committee got its figures on tourism in Canada. We did not need to look for it; the Bank of Canada in one of its monthly circulars gives an article on that very topic, and the Tourist Board considered it part of their job to know the movement of tourism in Canada, so that they had figures and they kindly provided the Transportation Committee with a copy. As to the inventory of the equipment at Gander, I said before, and I repeat, I doubt if the government has a complete list of the endless variety of things they bought from the RCAF when they took over Gander.
Mr. Harrington I am in accord with everyone else who condemned the present regime for their utter disregard of the possibilities of the tourist trade. It is one of the things I always believed in, and I believe in it more now because I see the Commission of Government does not. It seems, as Mr. Fudge says, that anything that costs money, they are all for it — Gander for example; any way we can make money, that is out. Page 10 of the Oliver report says:
So many Newfoundlanders with whom I discussed travel trade, and its chances of expansion, talked in terms of, "But we have only three months of a season here", or, "Yes, but we never see any tourist money," or "Tourists won't come, our summers are too chilly", or, "Why would we let tourists spoil our fishing for us?"
This is not defeatist talk. it springs from lack of appreciation and understanding of the industry, and is a natural argument for people who have still to rub shoulders, so to speak, with tourist traffic in great volume. These people are not aware that in the province of Ontario, which annually takes approximately 70% of Canada's total tourist revenue, most of the first-class summer resort hotels operate most profitably on a two and one half month's basis. These people are not aware, either, that the tourist dollar, no matter how or where spent, eventually to some extent and in some form touches every person's pocket. Nor do they know that long before Ontario had any main roads, or even before there were motor cars, Americans came tremendous distances by train and boat, to locate summer cottages, fish and hunt, and generally relax and rest.
Not realising that what can be accomplished elsewhere can be accomplished in substantial degree in Newfoundland, the average Newfoundlander talks of tourism without thinking, and unconsciously builds, within himself at least, an unwarranted prejudice against your travel trade cause. It is important that we get tourist consciousness. As a matter of fact I was talking with a gentleman on this tourist business and one point he mentioned interested me, it would only be a small part of the overall scheme, but he spoke of Harbour Grace and the possibilities of making December 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 217 that town a convention town with the possibility of clubs and societies in the States coming here to hold their conventions — for example the Rotary Club, and other societies. This whole tourist business is a splendid opportunity. I would like to go on record as being thoroughly disgusted with the regime in its dealings with the Tourist Board.
Mr. Miller Before I get too indignant over this Tourist Board business, I think it essential for us to have the cost of the proposed programme We have what it cost under different headings — we know we must have better roads, but at $50,000 a mile, how many of these can we afford? We also must have cabins; we must have ferry service on the Gulf; but we do not know what all this is going to cost, and that is the essential information. We have a surplus of $27 million — this programme looks extensive — would it cost $27 million? I do not think it would be justified. If it cost $2 million, yes. I do not know how far this programme was recommended to the government, I do not know what it will cost. If something better than a guess should have been made and should have been presented here, then I could really feel that the Tourist Board were handed out an injustice. It is essential for us to have that. It is an important point and one to which we will, possibly, have to look to in the future when the thing is considered again. With regard to the government's setting up of cabins, I disagree, I think that should be done by private enterprise. The government should find the roads and facilities Sometime the highway will be inevitable. But the cabins should be done by private enterprise — the least we get the government into business, the better for Newfoundland.
Mr. Smallwood There were three points raised. In one of these reports the amount of money which the Tourist Board proposed to be spent was stated. It is not even $2 million. As to the point about this being the job for private enterprise — yes, the reports all say that it should be done by private enterprise, but they point out that this is a country in which businessmen who have money to invest don't seem to have great deal of faith in it, and the pioneer work should be done by the government. The government should build just one to test it out and see if it works. If the government built them all it would cost about $2 million, but for one it would cost $100,000.
The other point that Mr. Miller raises is also dealt with in one of these reports He ventures to assume that roads for tourists must be paved. It says in the Mathes report that a paved road is better than gravel, nevertheless tourists coming to Newfoundland would not be expecting to find paved roads, but a half-decent gravel road over which they could travel at 25 or 30 miles an hour. The fact that a road is not paved, but gravel, is rather quaint and different to tourists
Mr. Penney With the spirit and principle of the Tourist Board before us I am in sympathy and appreciate the services of the very fine men who served on that Board for so many years without any pay, but sitting here this afternoon and listening, Mr. Smallwood made me a little nervous in talking about the development of the tourist traffic, where he envisaged thousands of motor cars up there in North Sydney trying to get across and come down this way. I felt very nervous over it, because they will drive to the right, and half the people around Conception Bay might be wiped out. Then again they are going to catch our salmon and sea trout, our partridge and snipe, and take away our venison, and even if we have lots of money we won't have so much fish. Insofar as the principle of the tourist traffic is concerned, I humbly step in with the rest of the men who have spoken regarding the members of the Tourist Board, but if we left our natural resources open to a great multitude of tourists we will hardly have anything left but money.
Mr. Vardy I agree with the previous speakers. We are all too conscious of the fact that almost every bit of advertising that Newfoundland has had has been usually had, apan from the little bit of favourable publicity given us by the Newfoundland Tourist Board. We who have travelled on the various continents know that. I have seen five of the seven seas. In view of my knowledge of what little has been done in the way of advertising our country abroad, I was not surprised to find that so little is known of Newfoundland. A few days ago I received a letter from New Zealand, addressed to "Newfoundland, Canada". Not long ago I received a letter from a friend in Australia addressed "Newfoundland, North America". He was probably correct!
In reviewing the action of the Newfoundland Tourist Board, I fail to see, in view of the government's insane attitude, how the Board 218 NATIONAL CONVENTION December 1946 could do anything else but resign.... In one section of our report we find that they willingly throw away $1 million a year, chiefly for the benefit of foreigners, and in the same report we find them bickering over a few thousand dollars which could be wisely spent to promote the best interests of this country.
Mr. MacDonald Shortly after this Convention met I put through a question before committees were appointed, on this very subject of tourist development. The question was divided into five parts. I have never received a direct answer to those questions, but in this report those questions are all answered.... I have met a lot of tourists in my time, and found out that they enjoyed it very much here....
Mr. Ballam I did not think that we were all going over the question before the House, that is individually making speeches on it.... The tourist traffic is probably of more interest over on the west coast than in this part of the country, simply because we have bigger fishing rivers, we have steamship routes in Corner Brook, and there seems to be a desire amongst the people who come to visit primarily that part of the coast, so that the action of the government in not supporting this movement of the Tourist Board is, in my opinion, very bad. I know that next summer it is anticipated by a certain fraternal organisation that they will have a conference in Corner Brook, and that might mean a thousand people coming in there for a start, and much potential income. If the country had any encouragement from the government along these lines similar excursions would be made, and we would materially benefit from it.
Mr. Fudge Mr. Chairman, there is a point on which I am not satisfied. That point is the question of broadcasting. I would like to know from Mr. Smallwood, if he does know, the frequency and power of radio station VOUS, and on whose authority they operate. Perhaps this may come under the 99-year lease of Fort Pepperell, but I would like to know anyhow.
Mr. Smallwood In dealing with broadcasting we did not go into the question of VOUS at Fort Pepperell or the other station at Argentia, or the one at Stephenville. These are not in Newfoundland, they are in the USA, on American bases, and we did not feel our authority extended that far. However, if Mr. Fudge would bring a motion that a delegation be appointed to go to these bases, I have no doubt that delegation would get that information.
Mr. Fudge I would prefer to make a motion that we go over and capture those places.
Mr. Crosbie I am not satisfied with the answer you gave Mr. Fudge, Mr. Smallwood. Yesterday we heard a lot about VOCM, about frequency and channels of the air. Who gave VOUS the channel? Certainly if they got it VOCM should have it, they were here before the others.
Mr. Smallwood That does sound like a very valid argument. If VOUS are over the 250 watts that VOCM has. and authorised by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs that makes a very strong case for allowing VOCM to increase their power to the same extent. If the House wants the Transportation Committee to go into that I am satisfied to make a motion to that effect....
Mr. Ballam I imagine that the postal telegraph authorities here gave permission to VOUS to operate and they would have the necessary information. I think it would be a simple matter for Mr. Smallwood to get this information.
Mr. Higgins ldon't want to interrupt, but are we not supposed to be discussing the tourist traffic?
Mr. Chairman That's perfectly true. I allowed some latitude in the hope that some information would be brought out.
Mr. Hollett We are discussing the whole report of the Communications and Transportation Committee, and I think this is a matter that effects the general public. We have heard how appreciative the general public are of the services given by VOCM. I would like to make a motion that we ask the Committee on Transportation and Communications to inquire into the authority under which they act and the frequency they have, that is the watt power, if I am in order.
Mr. Fudge I second that.
Mr. Chairman The motion is that, through Mr. Smallwood, the Transportation and Communications Committee do inquire into the authority under which VOUS operates in this country, and also the power which has been allotted to them by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.
[The motion carried]
Mr. Higgins I move that the report be received.
Mr. Bailey I don't know just how we should take this. It seems we must be in the right and the December 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 219 whole world in the wrong. Whatever part of the world I have been in there is one thing a government is interested in and it's the tourist trade. If the government of Switzerland had left out the possibility of the tourist trade that country would be in a lot worse condition than she is in today. In fact it's the one thing that makes that country one of the best living countries in the world with the assets that she has got. It's only valleys and mountains, snow and ice, and farming land is at a premium.... There are other countries in the world in the same position...
I think some men on the Committee lifted their eyebrows when I asked Squadron Leader Pattison the potentialities of travelling in Gander, and he said, "I think we don't want them, we have got nothing for them to come to, even people who want to stay over we don't want, because they are something we can't manage because we have no facilities for them." So I don't know, we acquired the Gander very cheaply, but for a country like Newfoundland we acquired the Gander at a sacrifice. Having acquired Gander at a sacrifice, if there was any way it could be made pay, why should they turn their thumbs down on it? I believe people travelling from the old country to the west would stop over for a day or two and have a look at it if the country was interested in it.
I don't hold with Mr. Miller about private capitalisation because I don't believe hotels in this country are going to flourish. It is not the hotel that you have got to look at, it is the dollars that are left behind in the country, and in that way the government has to take hold of it. Perhaps in time, when the country comes up to expectations, people who have come here and had a good time will go back and talk about it, and it may pay just as well as St. Petersburg or Key West. The Government of the United States came in at Key West and took a hold there and built up the road and helped the people. They did not build any hotels, but they came in and helped the people get on their feet, and paid the unemployed people who were starving, fixed the roads and fixed the golf course I believe that the government should at least spend $1 million on this. I don't believe it would be lost to the country. When the dollar is spent everybody gets the good of it, in fact one of the reasons that our whole economic system was so bad was that our dollars were not turned over. All our earnings we received in a chit around the table or an IOU. Anything which takes money out of the country, the Commission of Government is interested in it. They had their concentration camps, or land settlements, yet they could not get a bulldozer to go around and plow up five or six acres of land. Now they have other plans. That has been the policy all through. The Commission of Government wants to stay here while there is a chance. Apparently the country is on its feet now, but by the time they are through with it, perhaps another commission will want to come in.
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Higgins properly condemned the discourtesy of the government in the way they treated the Tourist Board, but it would be a pity if the net result of the debate were to concentrate on that side of the matter. The Tourist Board is merely an incident — the thing that matters is tourism; bringing people to Newfoundland and having them spend money. We are hoping the tourist trade will develop in this country. I would like the people to see it as a chance to help the country. Up to the outbreak of war, everything Newfoundland needed she had to import; she paid for everything she received with the money she got from the things she exported. But when the war came, a new element came into the picture. We were not dependent during the war on the money we got from the things we exported to foreign markets; we had new money which the Canadians and Americans paid us for work in building defense bases. That construction has stopped and very little money is coming to Newfoundland today from work on the bases. We are back again to where we were before the war. The big thing about the tourist trade is that it will bring into the country new money. The Commission of Government has this chance of bringing new money into the country, dangling before their very eyes, and they have done nothing about it. So far as they are concerned the tourist trade does not exist. They are not interested in a thing which is going to bring money into Newfoundland. If this report does not put that thought across to the people of Newfoundland, then it is just a waste of words. It is not enough to feel sympathy for the Tourist Board for the way the government has treated them; the thing to be disgusted with is that the government has neglected what is going to be a 220 NATIONAL CONVENTION December 1946 big source of revenue.
Mr. Newell There is no need to attempt to refute anything said about the Tourist Board. We are all in perfect agreement about that. What I am concerned about is the subject matter of this report. I feel in some cases it is a bit vague. Apart from registering our indignation at certain things, I find myself listening to this motion that we rise and report progress and I ask myself, how much progress? I feel it is not even open to debate that tourist trade is an economic value to the country. We must assume that everyone knows that. I think it is pertinent to enquire how much money should we spend on it. What do we find in the report? To use their own words, "We are convinced that the travel trade has within it the possibility of becoming one of this country's most profitable and most considerable economic resources." It is too vague. I hope when we consider this report again some consideration will be given to the financial side of it. How much do we want any government to undertake, and how much should we leave for private enterprise? Is it going to be private enterprise or free enterprise or social enterprise? That is the question we have to decide. It is a serious question and we should give it some thought.
Apart from that I have no cause to disagree with anything that has been said, except in this one other instance The report does not say on whose authority they based their information. I am not trying to compare the attitude of the government as against the attitude of the Tourist Board, but I wondered if the government was asked their viewpoint on the matter. I am not particularly concerned about their viewpoint, but reverting back to something you said, Mr. Chairman, before you became Chairman, about our sitting here as a bench of judges, it seems to me necessary that before we pass judgement on any matter of policy we should get both sides of the story; maybe the Committee satisfied itself on that point, but I would like to know....
I am inclined to disagree with Mr. Smallwood when he says that we should try and get certain things or thoughts across to the people of Newfoundland. I think the presence of microphones may incline him to that thought. WhatI am concerned is with facts that will aid us in our deliberations a little later on.
Mr. Smallwood I hate to disagree with Mr. Newell on anything because usually I agree with what he says. The point about getting information across to the people — I feel strongly about that. We are 45 men whose job it is to gather all the information we can get and on the basis of that information make up our minds on what kind of government we will recommend. But when we have done that, a much bigger choice has got to be made, and that is by the people of Newfoundland. I feel that the people are even much more entitled to get this information than we are — they need it more than we do.
Mr. Newell I was not criticising our putting information over to the public. I am sorry if you misunderstood me there. I understood your remark to be in connection with making the people tourist conscious, and I do not think that is necessary as the people are already tourist conscious.
Mr. Butt It must be shown that we have to spend money in order to get money. That is of primary importance. I do not want to put myself in the position of defending the government, but by having Gander, people are getting value in dollars and cents. If we spend $500,000 as a deficit, we get back $1 million in wages; therefore the country has benefited by $500,000.
Mr. Smallwood If it costs one million and we get one million, are we then square? Does one cancel out the other?
Mr. Butt How much money have we got out and how much do we hope to get back? That is of primary importance. We should find out what money they are going to have to find and what they are going to get back to make themselves more self-supporting.
Mr. Northcott I think the amount asked for was $2 million — $200,000 a year over a period of ten years. After a year or two if it worked, it would be increased. If they had gotten that when they asked for it, we would have a big tourist trade in Newfoundland.
Mr. Hollett I do not see the logic of Mr. Butt's argument with regard to Gander — paying $1 million to civil servants and going in the hole another million! Getting back to the other point under discussion — the information which Mr. Newell wanted — I do not see how the Committee could have gotten all the facts in regard to possible expenditure; and as to making an estimate as to cost, the most it could have been December 1946 NATIONAL CONVENTION 221 would be a guess. Mathes speaks of a casino, resorts, etc. Tourist trade is a gamble, but it is a gamble worthwhile.
Mr. Smallwood I move that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again on tomorrow.
[The motion carried. The committee rose, and the Convention adjourned until January 8, 1947]


Newfoundland. The Newfoundland National Convention, 1946-1948 Vol 1: Debates. Edited by J.K. Hiller and M.F. Harrington Montreal: Memorial University of Newfoundland by McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995).



Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Gordon Lyall.

Notes de bas de page:

  • [1] Volume 11:75. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [2] Volume 11:123. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [3] The Tourist Development Board was a voluntary board staffed with a paid director operating under the Department of Public Works.
  • [1] J.M. Mathes, Tourism Potential in Newfoundland; an Investigation carried out by J.M. Mathes Inc. (New York, 1945). This survey was made on the request of the Nfld. Tourist Development Board. Volume II: 140. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [2] Douglas R. Oliver, A Report on Newfoundland's Tourist Trade Position (Toronto, 1946). Volume 11:128. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]

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