Is “Settler” Argument Fact or Fake?

J. HERBERT HODGINS March 15 1925

Is “Settler” Argument Fact or Fake?

J. HERBERT HODGINS March 15 1925

Is “Settler” Argument Fact or Fake?

The fourth of a series of outstanding articles advocating a pulpwood embargo.


AN OLD Turkish proverb says that “an egg to-day is better than a chick to-morrow.”

And this, to my mind, sums up the mental attitude of those individuals who dismiss with a gesture the national element of Canada’s pulpwood problem.

Men are invariably Turks in their instinct to grasp that which is immediately before them. They eat the eggs as they are laid.

For the national welfare, as well as for the ultimate individual good, it is the part of wisdom to conserve to-day’s eggs that to-morrow’s chickens may provide constant supplies of eggs for the future.

Well-defined progress issues from a provident practice.

“This is the organic duty of governments,” as that influential French-Canadian newspaper of Montreal, La Presse, points out. “Governments must adopt and follow a national policy, aiming to limit individual appetites and to discipline them, and to this end, regulate the exploitation of our national riches so as to insure profitable yield for the community and the conservation of such profits in the interest of our national future.”

Thus, in a nut-shell, La Presse plpads for a pulpwood embargo, emphasizing the Dominion-wide, rather than the individual, interests which are at issue. Any other viewpoint is short-sighted.

When the agents of United States’ manufacturers came to Ottawa, during the sessions of the Royal Commission on Pulpwood— to persuade the politicians against an embargo on the export of Canadian pulpwood—the politicians hit upon the plausible excuse that an embargo would deprive the farmers—the settlers—of a market for their wood. This argument continues to be advanced at this time. It has a certain poignant effect; it definitely projects the pulpwood question into the political arena.

Actually—looking to their individual rights—the private land owners have little to fear from an embargo. If they had no further assurance, the fact remains that their market at profitable prices is assured by the force of economic factors involved.

Assurances for the Settlers

THE settler bogey is a mere gesture, says the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, which has given assurance that it will provide an adequate market for settlers’ wood.

In its convention resolution at Montreal on January 30, the Association set forth as follows:

“Be it therefore resolved that, until some more efficient means of control can be agreed upon as practical, an adequate export duty should be imposed upon logs and pulpwood exported from Canada.

“That such a duty should be imposed upon a graded basis increasing annually so that the various interests involved may have due opportunity to make any necessary adjustments.

“That the proceeds of such duty should be devoted as far as possible to the work of conservation and protection of our forests.

“That this association desires to give its assurance to the governments, federal and provincial, that it will extend its fullest co-operation to all necessary measures to provide an adequate market for farmers' and settlers' wood should any surplus supply develop.

"That the con-

Are Bogus Settlers Stripping Timber Lands?

QUEBEC’S problem of the “faux colon” is a contentious item of provincial administration at this time.

“It is asserted,” according to the Pulp and Paper Magazine, “that many acres are taken up by bogus settlers, who are planted on such land, primarily, if not solely, for the purpose of taking off the timber and pulpwood. This contention is supported by the report that 90,000 acres taken for settlement reverted to the Crown in one year.

“The wood on this 90,000 acres would go a long way to supplying all the paper mills in the St. Maurice Valley.”

tinued study of this all important question be urged upon the several authorities to the end that our forest resources be conserved as far as possible and ultimately utilized for the development of home industries.”

There are Settlers and Settlers

IS THIS settler problem as acute a menace to any considerable number of individual Canadians as it is made out to be?

It is no secret that the “settlement” of many forest areas in the province of Quebec, at least, is pure fake. These “settlers” are frequently placed on land that has no arable possibilities. They strip the land of its wood and abandon it. They quit it in a condition that renders it utterly valueless.

There is so much arable land throughout Canada, awaiting settlement, that it would appear to be unnecessary to invade land suitable only for tree-bearing for this purpose. Obviously, these areas are not “settled” strictly for their farming possibilities.

These, too, are the settlers responsible in measure for forest destruction.

. The Canadian Pulp and Paper Association in a statement to the Royal Commission on Pulpwood said:

“A large part of the fire losses is due to the introduction of settlers into areas close to the forests and the complete failure of the provincial authorities to enforce upon them the more elementary rules of fire protection, or to imbue them by educational methods with a proper care in the handling of fires. In one respect the Quebec law actually makes a fire on his own land beneficial to the settler as he is thereafter permitted to cut and sell an unlimited quantity of timber from the burnt-over area (which may still contain a lot of good wood) whereas without a fire he may cut only five acres a year.

“The whole policy of admitting settlers into timber lands is open to grave question; the settler maintains himself for a few years by completely stripping his land of timber, five acres at a time or with the help of fire, and when this is done the land, which has been ruined as forest for a hundred years to come, is as likely as not to

prove valueless as plowland, and the settler moves on to repeat the operation elsewhere."

Yet these are the “farmers” and “settlers” whose vested rights Canada is told she must protect.

Arthur Penny, managing editor of the Quebec Chronicle, declares this problem of the “Faux Colon” presents many difficulties. He places the amount of land, in Quebec, originally colonized in this manner, then forest stripped and finally abandoned, as high as forty per cent.

I have been credibly informed that within the past month a conference took place in New York city when a group of men advanced a scheme of “assisted immigration” into Canada—the underlying motive of which, however, was to plac« “settlers” upon remaining freehold forest areas.

These “settlers” would be decoys for foreign manufacturing interests.

These would be “settlers” whose individual vested rights would be “destroyed” were a pulpwood embargo instituted at any time in the near future!

Preserving Rights of All Canada

RECENTLY, answering Angus McLean, president of the Canadian Pulpwood Association, Frank J. D. Barnjum, who has been a profound student of the situation, said:

“Mr. McLean’s suggestion that a government restriction on the exportation of privately owned pulpwood would constitute an interference with ‘vested rights’ is probably sound so far as it goes. What I am concerned with is, however, preserving the vested rights of the people of Canada. If, in doing this, individual rights are interfered with there are ample means and plenty of precedent for providing proper compensation.

“As a matter of fact, however, as I have repeatedly shown, an embargo on the exportation of raw pulpwood would rebound to the advantage of the Canadian owners, be they settlers or otherwise, as well as prove of immeasurable advantage to the country.

“I am not so sure that it would benefit personally the pulpwood jobbers and dealers who now derive a profit out of the devastation of Canada’s fast-dwindling wood resources. An embargo would not do away with competition in the purchase of privately-owned wood, no matter what may be said to the contrary, and the settler would find a demand for his wood and a market price equal to that which he now enjoys.”

Two Vital Reasons

FRANK W. CLARKE, president of the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, contends that there are two vital economic reasons why an embargo or an effective export tax on pulpwood should be supported: first, as a means of extending the life of the available supply of wood and of assuring the survival and the future development of the industry; second, as a protection for the industry under existing conditions.

In other words, it behooves Canada to conserve its egg and develop the chicken which will supply Canadians with eggs for the future!

Discussing the economic factors involved in the exportation of pulpwood and its effect upon the Canadian industry, President Clarke, in his recent convention address, said, in part:

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“Let us look at present conditions in the industry. Aside from the newsprint companies, which aré having their own difficulties at the present time, all other branches of the industry—sulphite, mechanical and kraft pulps, fine papers, wrappings and boards—are, with few exceptions in a more or less critical state. It has been claimed that the high American tariff is responsible for this situation. This may be true to some extent, but there is no tariff operating against our wood pulp. I think the real reason for the situation is more fundamental. So long as pulpwood can be purchased in large volume in this country and shipped across the line, just so long shall we have competition to force the price of our finished products down to a point which makes production here unprofitable and which results in driving our mills into liquidation.

“We are supplying our competitors with raw material to our own undoing.

“The mills in the United States which operate on Canadian wood have none of the overhead charges in connection with their wood supply that we have to carry and, consequently, enjoy an undue advantage over us in the cost of their raw material. When our mills are operating on reduced schedules or are entirely shut down, these heavy overhead charges have still to be carried: an American mill, in similar circumstances, is relieved of such charges. Are we not at least entitled to protection up to the extent of our overhead?

“An adequate export tax on pulpwood shipped out of the country would provide funds for the protection of our forests and to that extent would relieve our mills of some of the heavy expenditures that they are now called to meet. A straightout embargo would be even more effective.

“Our industry is the greatest user of two of Canada’s most important natural resources—hydraulic power and wood— and as an industry we are the largest employers of labor and the greatest consumers of Canadian products whether derived from the farm or from the factory.

Of National Concern

CONTINUED expansion and success of the wood products industries is of vital concern to every inhabitant of Canada, whether capitalist or worker. If we can impress this upon the people of Canada, we can automatically impress it on the Government, for in all fairness it must be granted that it is the aim of the Government to give the people what they want.

“The pulp and paper industry uses more than one fourth of the total developed water power of the Dominion. Over sixty per cent, of this is used in Quebec. It was stated recently in Quebec

Legislature that 750,000 cords^of pulpwood were exported in one year from this province and the records show this to be about the average for twenty years. This represents an equivalent of 500,000 tons of newsprint. The wood may have brought into the province as much as $3,500,000. Kept here and manufactured into paper its value would have been, at last year’s selling price, in the neighborhood of $25,000,000. The difference between the two values is made up largely of conversion costs, which, in other words, means wages for labor.

“In addition, its manufacture here would have entailed development and utilization of an additional 170,000 h.p. of electrical energy, or an increase of forty-six per cent, over present consumption. Additional labor required would have given employment to some 8,000 men in pulp and paper mills.

“Everything that can be ufged in favor of restricting the exportation of power is equally applicable as an argument for restriction of the exportation of pulpwood. If we are to keep power in Canada we must find use for it.

“The power situation and the pulp and paper industry are thus intimately associated and unless the future of the latter is assured it will be useless to place restrictions upon the export of power. There is a vast amount of available water power in the Dominion as yet undeveloped and since the pulp and paper industry is by far the largest user of electrical energy, it should not be difficult to convince the Governments, both federal and provincial, that the pulpwood situation and the future possibilities of our water powers are identical.”

Can you give thought to this problem and remain unconvinced of its basic nationalism? Clearly, as set forth by the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association before the Royal Commission on Pulpwood:

“The forests are not merely so many dollars’ worth of property owned by individuals or the state; they are, if preserved, the sources of the healthy, happy, and remunerative employment of thousands of Canadians for indefinite generations to come. If destroyed, they may be the source of poverty and hard-, ship to many thousands of Canadians, some of whom, perhaps, have never seen a stand of timber or handled an axe or entered a pulpmill.”

Unduly to consider the “settler” and to ignore or neglect a great national industry, is to eat to-day’s eggs rather than provide for the future chicken—particularly as there is no logical reason why a roundtable conference between Government and leaders of the industry cannot completely wipe out the threatening anomalies of the future.