711.42157 Sa 29/302a
The Secretary of State to the Canadian Minister (Massey)
Sir: For more than one hundred years, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River have furnished a common highway and transportation outlet for the population in the interior of the continent in both the United States and Canada. The waterway has been the subject of several treaties and conventions between the two countries. Its development has been a matter of continuous effort on the part of both countries.
Pursuant to reference made to the International Joint Commission by both governments under authority of the treaty of January 11, 1909,16 that commission made investigation of the feasibility of improving navigational facilities of the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Lake Ontario so as to transform that section into an ocean shipway. The Commission submitted its report, signed on December 19, 1921,17 to your Government and to the Government of the United States after taking into consideration the existing characteristics of the waterway and its projected development, as well as the essential economic factors. It earnestly recommended to both governments the making of a treaty for a scheme of shipway improvement of the river between Montreal and Lake Ontario. It suggested, however, that before final decision be made, the engineering features should receive further consideration and study. Delays naturally ensued due to the problems of reconstruction resulting from the war.
On March 14, 1924, the President of the United States appointed the St. Lawrence River Commission18. under the chairmanship of the [Page 488] Honorable Herbert Hoover, Secretary of Commerce, to consider the whole project in its economic and national aspects and to express an opinion as to whether the project should be undertaken and the Government of Canada on May 7, 1924, appointed a national advisory committee under the chairmanship of the Honorable George Perry Graham, Minister of Railways and Canals. Through the arrangements brought about by these committees the two governments by exchange of notes dated February 4 and March 17, 1925,19 gave instructions to a Joint Board of Engineers designated by them to review and extend the engineering plans as recommended by the International Joint Commission in 1921.
This Joint Engineering Board made an elaborate resurvey of the lake and river systems both as to navigation and power, and filed with each government an exhaustive report upon all its engineering aspects. The representatives of the two countries differed as to a few details but from the report it clearly appears that the improvement of the waterway for navigation and power purposes is both feasible and advisable.
The St. Lawrence River Commission appointed by the President to advise this Government on the subject recently undertook an examination of all of the economic as well as engineering facts bearing upon the proposed development and has made a complete report covering all aspects. It concluded that the construction of the ship-way at proper depths would relieve the interior of the continent, especially agriculture, from the economic handicaps of adverse transportation costs which now operate to the disadvantage of many states and a large part of Canada, would serve the industrial well being of both countries in the development of their power resources, and would tend largely to the increase of prosperity and the stimulation of industry. The Commission recommended that negotiations should be entered into with your Government in an endeavor to arrive at an agreement as to the speedy development of this waterway.
The Government of the United States adopts the recommendations of the St. Lawrence Commission. It appreciates the advantages which will accrue equally to both countries by the opening of the waterway to ocean shipping. It feels that the necessary increase in railway rates due to the war, and the modern practices respecting the generation and transmission of hydroelectric power have increased the importance and practicability of early development, and believes that the factors which influence its conclusions must have equal application to, and influence upon, the Dominion of Canada.
In view of the action already taken by both governments, it is apprehended that they are in accord on the principle that the project [Page 489] should be undertaken. If this Government’s conclusion in this respect be correct, there only remains to be effected an understanding as to the methods and means for its earliest accomplishment. It seems highly appropriate that the development of the common highway for the benefit of both countries should be jointly undertaken.
This Government is prepared to enter into negotiations with a view to the formulation of a convention appropriate to this subject and should be grateful to be informed of the views entertained on this subject by your Government.