711.42157 Sa 29/150

The Secretary of State to the British Chargé (Chilton)

Sir: In your note of January 30, 1924, in regard to the project for joint action by the United States and Canada for the improvement of the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Lake Ontario for navigation and the development of water power, you informed me that while the Government of the Dominion of Canada desires to [Page 344]give further consideration to the suggestions brought forward in my note of May 17, 1922, to Sir Auckland Geddes with a view to carrying out the recommendations made by the International Joint Commission, the Dominion Government is nevertheless prepared to act without delay on the recommendation for the enlargement of the Joint Engineering Board which assisted the Commission in making! the investigation of the project and to appoint additional engineers to the Board with a view to having it undertake the preparation of a final report covering the engineering features of the whole project, including its cost.

You informed me also that the Government of Canada intends to form a committee which will in consultation with the Canadian members of the Joint Engineering Board, inquire fully from a national standpoint into the wide questions involved in the project.

In reply permit me to say that this Government is gratified to learn that the Canadian Government hopes shortly to be in a position to take further action on the proposals made in my note of May 17, 1922, and meanwhile is especially pleased to be advised that the Government of Canada intends to create a committee for the, purpose described in your note. This Government, similarly, will immediately constitute a national committee which will in consultation with the American members of the Joint Engineering Board make adequate inquiry from a national standpoint into the questions involved to the end that the project for the improvement of the St. Lawrence River for navigation and the development of its water power may be carried forward as speedily as possible.

This Government is glad to give its assent to the suggestion that the Joint Engineering Board should be enlarged and, in response to the request of the Canadian Government for its view as to the number of additional engineers which should be appointed, suggests that two engineers be added to the Board by each Government, the membership of the Board thus being increased to six, three of whom would be representatives of the United States and three would be representatives of Canada. In connection with this enlargement of the Board it may be noted that the first of the recommendations made by the International Joint Commission was that the Governments of the United States and Canada enter into an arrangement by way of treaty for a scheme of improvement of the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Lake Ontario. It would appear that the Commission did not contemplate that negotiations for a treaty should be postponed until after a report should be made by an enlarged board of engineers but that negotiations should forthwith be opened, that the proposed works between Montreal and Lake [Page 345]Ontario should “be based upon the report of the Engineering Board” accompanying the report of the Commission, and that the Governments should have the benefit of the advice of an enlarged Board of Engineers before a “final decision” should be reached.

This Government would propose that the instructions to the enlarged Engineering Board should be prepared in joint conference by the two advisory committees which the Governments of Canada and the United States intend to establish, as indicated in your note and this reply, and that the two committees should accordingly be empowered to meet in joint conference for the purpose of formulating such instructions. However, the instructions would be given to the Board of Engineers by the Governments and the report of the engineers would be made to the Governments.

As it appears that the report of the Board of Engineers of June 24, 1921, while of a preliminary character, as contemplated in their instructions, nevertheless presented a general plan believed to be practicable in its main features, this Government would desire to have included in the first instructions to the enlarged Board the two fundamental questions whether the scheme for the improvement of the St. Lawrence Waterway which the Board presented in its report of June 24, 1921, is practicable and whether the estimates of costs made by it require revision. The time within which the Board should make its report should, as was suggested by the Canadian Government, be determined in advance and stated in the instructions. It is believed that the fundamental questions can be reported upon within a short time. If the suggestion that the instructions to the Joint Engineering Board be prepared by the two advisory committees in joint conference be acceptable to the Canadian Government the appointment of technical officers especially for this purpose as proposed by the Canadian Government would not be necessary.

This Government further suggests that the two committees be empowered to meet from time to time in joint session in order to prepare supplemental instructions for the Board of Engineers as occasion may require, and to consider and develop the broader aspects of the whole matter so that each committee may be as helpful to the other as possible.

This Government is hopeful that the foregoing proposals will be acceptable to the Government of Canada and I should be pleased if arrangements can be made by telegraph for publishing them simultaneously at Washington and Ottawa.

Accept [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes