Canada’s First Contingent C.E.F., First World War, Horse Purchase Scandal.

8164 horses were purchased for first contingent. 398 horses were taken from permanent corps in Canada. Total of 8562 horses assembled at Valcartier for first contingent.

 

WHERE THE HORSES WENT TO.

  • 7911 were shipped to England with first contingent.
  • 481 were sold by auction at Quebec at an average price of $53.74.
  • 19 are now held at Valcartier.
  • 151 are absolutely unaccounted for.

 

A PROVED LOSS ON THE PURCHASE OF HORSES OF $83,139. 481 horses purchased at $172.45 each and sold by auction at Quebec at $53.72 each, making a loss of $57,100. 151 unaccounted for, purchased at $172.45 each, total $26,039.

Total loss to the Country of $83,139.

 

THIS IS A DIRECT LOSS, APPARENT TO EVERYONE. But it does not take into account the loss from inferior quality. And there is no proof that the farmers received the price charged to the Country’ by the Government’s horse dealers.

READ THE STORY. The investigation of the Public Accounts Committee in the matter of horses was practically confined to one district only-the Province of Nova Scotia, but evidences of similar dealings from various parts of Canada was produced. In the Province of Nova Scotia 428 horses were purchased and the methods employed, and the evidence brought forth make it fair to assume that the losses to the country in connection with the horses purchased for the first contingent are far greater than shown in the above figures.

The Machine for Purchasing Horses. The machinery employed for the purchase of horses in Nova Scotia comprised A. Dewitt Foster, M.P. for Kings, elected on a “purity” campaign in 1911, reprimanded in Parliament at the close of last session and forced to resign on April 28th, 1915; W. Po McKay, private secretary to John Stanfield; chief Conservative Whip, who incidentally as a side line dabbled in the fox-raising business, Messrs. Keever and Woodworth, friends of Mr. Foster, both of whom are in the mining business in the United State and Dr. Chipman, Kentville, N.S., a local veterinary, who was recommended for the position by G. H. Oakes, secretary for the Conservative Association for Kings County, N.S.

Evidently Mr. Foster and Mr. McKay knew more about foxes than they did about horses. Messrs. Keever and Woodworth had specialized in mining, and their only qualifications according to Mr. Foster was that “they would pay their own expenses.” Dr. Chipman admitted on the stand that he had passed spavined horses, and that his examination did not extend to teeth or wind.

Thousands of Dollars Handed Over. Confident that this organization could be counted upon the Government guilelessly placed funds to Mr. Foster’s credit at a bank in Halifax. He was provided with blank government cheques, and told to disburse the money. Mr. Foster thereupon turned his “men” to work. Mr. Foster signed the government cheques in blank and handed them to Mr. G. H. Oakes, Secretary of the Conservative Association of Kings County, to fill in the amounts and number of horses purchased. Read Mr. Foster’s evidence, page 807 Public Accounts Evidence, which is as follows:-
Mr. Foster on witness stand.

BY Mr. CARVELL: Q.-But you signed the largest cheque to Woodworth; did you know he was purchasing? A.-Well, we might as well be frank about that; those cheques I aID not sure about all of them, but I think all of them were signed by me and handed to Mr. Oakes, my representative, with instructions that when the horses were passed by the veterinary, the veterinary was to sign the cheque, and he was to fill in the number of horses; having the receipts from the farmers in his hands, he wall to fill in the number of horses.

And the purchasing started.

 

THE LAME, THE HALT AND THE BLIND ACCEPTED.

Read the evidence as taken by the Public Accounts Committee as to the horses in general. Mr. A. B., Harvey of Aylesworth on witness stand.

BY Mr. RHODES: Q.-I am asking you: Did you in your own mind think you were putting one over on the Government in selling horses that were many years over the age? A.-I went to Berwick with a horse. I read their poster, went to the park with the horse not to sell it, drove, there to see the people. When I got to Berwick, I didn’t think that my horse would go according to the poster. I took notice that I had as good a one, if not the best one, they had there-the lame, the’ halt, THE BONE SPAVINED HORSE SOLD FOR $100 and the blind; Well, I drove him up in the wagon. They had a veterinary that carne and examined him; and they says: What do you want for him? I said: What would you give me? They said $150. All right, I says, you can have him. (See page 546 ‘Public Accounts Evidence).

Mr. Spurgeon Selfridge on witness stand.

 

  • BY Mr. KYTE: 
  • Q.-How would you describe the horses which you thought were a pretty poor looking lot? In what respect did you think they were poor? A.-They were both thin in flesh and blemished, and some the worse for wear.
  • Q.-Blemished in what respect? Spavined, ringboned, foundered? A.-Yes, yes. There were all of the blemishes corning to them, I thought.
  • Q.-Did they look as though they were twenty-five years old? A.-Yes. Q.-Well these horses that you have described purchased by McKay? A.-Some of them. , Q.-Did you see them ticketed? A.-J did. (See page 656 P.A.E.)

 

READ ABOUT SOME OF THE INDIVIDUAL HORSES.

 

THE KNEE SPRUNG HORSE WHICH COST THE GOVERNMENT $150.

Mr. A. B. Harvey on the witness stand.

BY Mr. KYTE: Q.-You sold one horse to Mackay at Berwick? A.-Yea.

BY Mr. RHODES: Q.-The horse was sound, was it? A.-No. Q.-What was the matter with it? A.-SPRUNG IN THE KNEES. Q.-Was this spring, apparent to anyone who was a qualified and experienced horseman. A.-Most anybody could. see it if they looked.

BY Mr. McCOIG: Q.-Would you want to ride a horse sprung in the knees yourself? A.-No. I don’t want to ride any of them.

  • BY Mr. NICKLE:
  • Q.-How did you happen to approach them to buy; what just happened; for instance, to whom did you go? A.-I drove in my horse with the rest; they were standing a-round there. This veterit1ary, Chipman, carne along and put a ticket on him and went away.
  • Q.-Where did you go after that with your horse? A.-I stayed right there.
  • Q.-What happened? A.-Mr. McKay came along and wanted to know what I wanted. I said, what can you give me? he said $150; I said, all right.
  • Q.-You made no representation as to the age of your horse? A.-Not a bit, sir. Q.-Did you call his attention to the fact that he was sprung in the knee? A.-I did not have to do that; any man could see it. (See pages 537, 538 and 547 P.A.E.).

 

 

Canadian Artillery horses being watered. November, 1916.

Canadian Artillery horses being watered. November, 1916.

 

THE BONE SPAVINED HORSE SOLD FOR $100.

 

BY Mr. RHODES: Q.-Now, take the next animal you sold. What did you sell her for? A.-The next one was a sorrel horse. Q.-How long had you owned the horse? A.-I got him that morning, four or five hours.

  • BY Mr. NICKLE:
  • Q.-What was the matter with that horse? A.-He was not so very bad; HE HAD TWO LITTLE SPAVINS ON HIM.
  • Q.-Were they dead? A.-I cannot tell you that; I do not know. Q.-Were the spavins quite apparent to the eye? A.-Oh, yes, a fellow could see them.
  • Q.-Could you feel it with your hand down the inside of the leg? A.-You could see them with your own eyes.
  • Q.-How did you come to sell that time? A.-I led them right in, tied them up against a fence with the rest of the scabs, and they carne along and put tickets on them, and they remained with the rest.
  • Q.-Who put the ticket on? A.-Dr. Chipman, the veterinary.
  • Q.-How did you determine the price? A.-McKay is the man.
  • Q.-Tell me about it; I was not there; you were. A.-I says, what are they worth? Can you handle them? He says, what do you want’ for them? I says what can you give me? He says, I’ll give you $100 apiece.
  • Q.-No dickering at all? A.-Not a bit. (See pages 543,544,548 and 549 P.A.E.)

 

THE DARK BAY MARE SOLD FOR $130. TOO OLD FOR SOUTH AFRICAN WAR, BUT PURCHASED NOW.

  • BY Mr. RHODES:
  • Q.-Take the highest priced horse you sold at Kingston; what was the price of that one? A.-$130.
  • Q.-Now give us the colour of the horse? A.-Bay, dark bay mare.
  • Q.-Howold? A.-Crawling along, I should say.
  • Q.-What do you mean by crawling along? A.-Well, she was getting up, you know.
  • Q.-You said she was crawling along. How old was she? AS FAR AS MY JUDGMENT GOES I SHOULD SAY SHE WAS 18 OR 20.
  • Q.-How long had you known this mare? A.-About two hours.
  • Q.-Tell me how you came to the conclusion that she was eighteen years old? A.-Well, people that had known her told me.
  • BY Mr. NICKLE:
  • Q.-Where did you get that mare? A.-From Howard Spurr.
  • Q.-Did you take him in with the rest of the bunch? A.-She carne in alone.
  • Q.-Who was representing the Government? A.-Mr. Chipman and McKay.
  • Q.-You took them up to Chipman again? A.- I led him and tiead him up against the fence.
  • BY Mr. KYTE:
  • Q.-Do you know of any horses that were turned down at the time of the South African War that were sold to McKay? A.-I know that I heard this Spurr mare was supposed to be one that was turned down at that time; as being too old, she was turned down then. (See pages 541, 549 and 563 P.A.E.).

 

THE SORREL HORSE, KNEE SPRUNG, SOLD TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR $90.00, BUT TRADED A SHORT.  TIME BEFORE FOR “A DRAKE AND TWO DUCKS”.

  • BY Mr. RHODES:
  • Q.-Take the next horse, was it a horse or a mare? A.-It was a horse.
  • Q.-What price did you get for him? A.-$90.
  • Q.-You say you have no idea as to its age? A.-I don’t think I was alive when he was born.
  • Q.-How old are you? A.-Thirty-two or thirty-three.
  • Q.-You say this horse you sold at $90 was thirty-two or thirty three years? A.-No. I did not.
  • Q.-How old in your judgment? A.-I WOULD TAKE HIM TO BE PRETTY HANDY THIRTY.
  • Q.-Was the spring in anyone of the knees? A.-Yes, two of them.
  • Q.-Had he any other defects? A.-I don’t think, I didn’t have him long, you know, didn’t use him long. He was sprung up some.
  •  BY Mr. NICKLE:
  • Q.-Did you approach Chipman the same as before? A.-Yes.
  • Q.-And he put the ticket on it? A.-Yes.
  • Q.-And Mackay ‘fixed the price? A.-Yes.
  • BY Mr. KYTE:
  • Q.-From whom did you get this sorrel horse? A.-Mr. C. H. Meader. ,
  • Q.-Who did Meader get it from? A.-Mr. Thomas Baltzer.
  • Q.-How much did Baltzer get for him? A.-$15.
  • Q.-Who did Baltzer get it from? A.-Mr. Daniels.
  • Q.-How much did Daniels get for him? A.-$10.
  • Q.-Who did Daniels get the horse from? A.-Charles Uhlman.
  • Q.-What did Daniels give Uhlman for the horse?, A.-A DRAKE AND TWO DUCKS.

 

BY Mr. NICKLE:

Q.-THIS IS A RATHER SERIOUS BUSINESS. DID I UNDERSTAND THERE WAS SOLD TO THE GOVERNMENT A HORSE FOR $90, THAT WAS BOUGHT A SHORT TIME AGO FOR THREE DUCKS? A.-NO, A DRAKE AND TWO DUCKS.

Q.-WHAT WAS THE MATTER WITH HIM? A.-I ONLY HAD I HIM A LITTLE WHILE; HE WAS SPRUNG IN THE KNEES A LITTLE BIT; HE WAS A BIT OLD YOU KNOW. (See pages 544, 545, 550 and 552 P.A.E.)

Mr. S. Selfridge on witness stand.

 

Horses drawing wagons, Salisbury Plain, England 1914.

Horses drawing wagons, Salisbury Plain, England 1914.

 

THE 17 OR 18 YEAR OLD HORSE, IF, HE COULD NOT SELL HIM HE WOULD KILL HIM.

 

  • BY Mr. KYTE:
  • Q.-Do you know Ingraham Bowlby? A.-I do.
  • Q.-Did he have a horse for sale? A.-He had two of them.
  • Q.-Did you know them pretty well? A.-Yes, one of them particularly.
  • Q.-How old was that one? A.-She would be seventeen or eighteen last spring.
  • Q.-What were her characteristics, how was she as to wind and limb? A.-SHE HAD A VERY BAD DOSE OF THE HEAVES.
  • Q.-Was that one sold? A.-He took her to Kingston!,-and left her there. I was not at Kingston. He said he sold her, she did not come back.
  • Q.-Did you have any conversation with this man Bowlby about the mare taken to Kingston? A.-Yes.
  • Q.-What did he tell you? A.-HE HAD TOLD ME SEVERAL TIMES THAT HE DID NOT INTEND TO WINTER HER, AND HE TOLD ME THAT IF HE DID NOT SELL HER HE WAS GOING TO KILL HER. (See pages 558 and 559 P.A.E.)

 

THE GOOD HORSE REJECTED, BUT THE OLD MARE SOLD.

  • BY Mr. KYTE:
  • Q.-And his other horse? A.-He was a good horse, that is, a good looking horse; He has only had him about a year, and if I remember right he bought him at six years old. He is an Island horse, and a fine horse.
  • Q.-Did he sell that one? A.-No.
  • Q.-He did not sell that horse, he still has him ….t home? A.-He took him down to sell firs,t, and he said that was not the kind they were buying, and he telephoned home TO SEND THE OLD MARE DOWN, AND HE SOLD HER. (See page 558 P.A.E.)

 

THE ABNER WOODWORTH HORSE. 15 YEARS OLD BOUGHT FOR $50, SOLD FOR $130. 

  • BY Mr. KYTE:
  • Q.-That is one of Abner Woodworth’s, was he sold? A.-Yes, he says so. He did not bring him back, I have not seen him since.
  • Q.-How old was he? A.-He said he was fifteen years.
  • Q.-Do you know where Woodworth got him? A.-From Edward Bartaux, I think it was a mare.
  • Q.-What did he pay Bartaux for the mare? A.-I ONLY KNOW THAT HE TOLD ME LAST SPRING HE BOUGHT. HER FOR $50.
  • Q.-Did he tell you how much he got, for her? .A.-He said he got $130. (See page 559 P.A.E.)

 

And so on-.

The required number of horses were purchased (if not the required quality and age) but to this day the country has no record of the prices paid nor the receipt given. Having finished their patriotic duties Messrs. Keever and Woodworth returned to their mining business in the United States taking with them these receipts and vouchers. Mr. Foster admitted on the witness stand that within the past week he had seen both Mr. Keever and Mr. Woodworth in the States but he did not state that he had tried to get them to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to tell what they knew of this transaction.

 

Mr. FOSTER SAID KEEVER TOOK ALL VOUCHERS.

In his evidence bef0re the public Accounts Committee, Mr. Foster, the Tory member for Kings County, and the moving spirit in the infamous horse deals, declared that all the vouchers and receipts for the purchase of the horses remained in the hands of Messrs. Keever and Woodworth who took them away to the United States. He also intimated that he had gone to the United States to see these men, but had not succeeded in getting the papers, nor could he get them to come to the investigation.

 
KEEVER CONTRADICTS FOSTER’S STORY.

Mr. Keever says neither he nor Mr Woodworth have any vouchers. This statement is strangely at variance with what Keever told a Boston newspaper reporter. The Boston Journal, of April 14th published an interview with Keever in which he was quoted as saying I heard a couple of weeks ago that an enquiry was being made by the party out of power in Parliament in to the “general purchases made for the Canadian contingent. These facts however do not jibe with what I know. Mr. Foster was in this office last Tuesday and talked with Mr. Woodworth and also with myself. He did not even mention the fact that an enquiry had been made or was to be made. He was on his way to Washington and I believe he is there at the “present time.” Mr. Keever went on to say “I went with Mr. Woodworth “to help Mr. Foster buy the horses, for he had been able to help some of his constituents sell some of their animals. The apple crop had been ruined and by selling these horses would put a little more money in circulation in that section. As far as vouchers go, and also receipts, neither Mr. Woodworth nor myself have any. Everything was paid for “in Government cheques.” Proceeding with more detail of how the horses were bought, Mr. Keever wound up with the significant statement. If I had known such an enquiry was on, I certainly would have “been there to defend anything said against me.”

 

 

Canadian Artillery horses on way to water. November, 1916.

Canadian Artillery horses on way to water. November, 1916.

 

No Evidence of What the Farmers Got.

These horses, from the Province of Nova Scotia cost the country $170 apiece, and the evidence shows that they were exceedingly expensive at that, but there is nothing to show what was paid to the farmers. Both Keever and Woodworth declined to return to Canada to give evidence, and Mr. McKay when examined evinced· a strange lack of knowledge of the whole affair. Frank McLaughlin of Valcartier swore before the committee on another occasion that for three weeks “dead horses going to the glue factory, about four a day,” had passed on trucks before his door. It is very possible that some of the Foster horses were among them. Horse Purchase Chicanery extended to Province of Quebec.

Only one other transaction was investigated, and that was in connection with the purchase of horses at Sherbrooke, Quebec, by Major Fletcher, one of the Government’s supporters and buyers. Major Fletcher purchased three splendidly bred Clydesdale mares in foal for $250, $225 and $190 respectively, and exchanged them for three of his own geldings. These fine mares secured in a trade with the King are now in Major Fletcher’s possession.

 

Committee Report to Parliament.

It is to be noted that the above investigations covered less. I than 500 of the eight thousand oddly horses purchased for the first contingent. Taking them as samples of the Government’s purchases throughout the Dominion it would seem that the half has not yet been told, and that the losses to the country as’ between the prices paid to the farmers and the prices charged to the Government will far exceed the losses proven by the Government’s own figures. When all the evidence offered regarding horse purchasing had been heard by the Public Accounts Committee, an interim report (No.6) was made to Parliament, and it is worthy of remembrance that this report was moved by Mr. H. B. Morphy of North Perth, the Conservative chairman of the committee. Mr. Morphy’s motion said: “Your committee are of the opinion that the evidence respecting the purchase of horses in Nova Scotia discloses circumstances of such an unsatisfactory character that further investigation and action are necessary, and they recommend that the said evidence and all documents connected with the matters aforesaid be referred to the Department of Justice with instructions to make such investigation and to institute such prosecutions and to take such proceedings as may be found I necessary to protect the public interest Recommend Further Investigation.

“And your committee further recommend that a further investigation should be made by the Government in regard to any irregularities which may have taken place in any other province of Canada, where such steps will be authorized and warranted by evidence or information of credible persons.”

 

But No Sign Yet of Investigation.

It may be noted that at the time this is written, May 15th, there has been no outward or visible sign of any action in accordance with this motion, either by the Department of Justice or by the Government in ascertaining how far the abuses in the purchases of horses may have obtained in other parts of the Dominion. On the other hand rumours and newspaper articles 1 make it quite fair to assume that there was similar lack of business methods, to put it at its mildest, in many other parts of Canada.

 

LOSS TO THE COUNTRY ON 500 OUT OF 8164 HORSES PURCHASED, $81,139.

 
Spañard.

 

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