MEMORANDUM BY R. WILMOT HORTON
ON THE PROPOSED BILL (THE CANADA TENURES BILL, 1825).
C.O. 42. VOL. 207.
1st The first object of the Canada Tenure Bill is to enable His Majesty, when granting to the Superior Lords a release of their feudal burdens, to impose on them an obligation of making a corresponding concession in favor of their own tenants.
The Act of the 3 Geo: 4th (the Canada Trade Bill) enabled the King to make releases in favor of the Lords; but did not impose a corresponding obligation upon them. The effect therefore was, that the Agricultural Population might remain subject to all those feudal duties by which the progress of Agriculture was impeded, while the Lords were exempted from all their feudal duties to the Crown.—
It is proposed therefore by the present Bill, to give to the Censitaire a right of action against the Lord, if the latter shall refuse to release his own feudal rights, after having himself obtained a release from the King as Superior Lord.—
If the Lord and the Censitaire cannot agree respecting the price to be paid for this release, it is proposed to invest the Supreme Court with the power of appointing arbitrators.
To prevent the inconvenience which might arise from this commutation, it is provided that public notice shall be given to all Mortgagees, and other persons having charges upon the feudal rents & dues to be extinguished. Their dissent will prevent the commutation, until their claims upon the property are paid off or arranged. Their assent will of course remove the difficulty.
A provision is also made for saving the rights of reversioners, and others interested in the property, who do not join in the release of the feudal rights to the censitaire.
2ndly It has been a question much agitated in Canada, whether if Land were granted by the Crown to be held in free & common soccage, it would pass by discent, or by Deed, according to the Law of England, or the Law of France. It is proposed to enact that the alienation and discent of such Lands, shall be regulated by English, & not by French Law.
3rdly Certain parts of the Coast of Labrador, were settled by French Canadians, & the Lands are held upon French tenures.—It is therefore highly convenient that this part of the Labrador Coast should be annexed to the Government of Canada. But the Act of 1747* annexes the whole of this Coast to Newfoundland. Therefore, without the assistance of Parliament, it is impossible to carry this object into execution.—The Bill therefore provides, that the Coast shall be divided at a point which the Governors of the respective Colonies have fixed upon.—The point of division is the point at which the Canadian Settlements end.—
4thly In the Province of Lower Canada there are large Tracts of Land upon which no Settlement duties have been performed, & which are therefore forfeited to the Crown. It is stated that this circumstance has greatly retarded the advance of the Province. But the Canadian Legislature will not apply a remedy. It is therefore proposed to enable the King to appoint Commissioners of locheat, who will proceed according to the rules of the Law of England, in similar cases.
5th There being no person in the Province of Lower Canada competent to make a Surrender of any part of the Clergy reserves, cases continually occur in which the progress of public Buildings, & other public objects, are impeded from the impossibility of making exchanges of Land with the Clergy, when it is necessary to take possession of a part of the Clergy Reserves. It is therefore proposed to enable the Bishop of Quebec to carry such exchanges into effect in compliance with any requisition made upon him for that purpose by the Bishop.