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Attorney-General Memo Regarding School Construction


[ The labelling room in the commune's KC jam factory, Unknown, UBC Special Collection 15-16 ]


Dear Mr. Premier:

re Doukhobours.

I have yours of the 11th instant.

Under section 129 of the “Public Schools Act” (R.S. 1924, c.226) the Council of Public Instruction has ample authority to build or re-build these schoolhouses and to levy on Community property the expenses incurred.

Under the Community Regulation Act (R.S.1924, c.37) enacted in 1914, provision is made for the levy on Community property of any penalty imposed under certain of our Provincial statutes upon any person who is a member of the Community (See ss.5,9). Prosecutions for failure to send children to school are covered by these provisions.

I agree with you that we must continue to handle the situation 'carefully and firmly'; in fact I think 'drastically' is a better word than 'firmly'. We might as well have a conclusive argument with the Doukhobours now as later. They must understand that they cannot disregard our law.

For your information I enclose herewith a copy of a letter I have received from Mr. MacPherson of Grand Forks, together with a copy of my reply, and a copy of my instructions to the Superintendent of Provincial Police.

Yours faithfully,
[signed] A.M. Manson


[A.M. Manson's response]

March 12th,
1 9 2 5

D. MacPherson. Esq.,
Grand Forks, B.C.

Dear Mr. MacPherson:

re Doukhobours.

I have yours of the 7th instant.

I have conferred with Doctor MacLean and we are agreed that the Doukhobours must be dealt with most rigidly. Immediately upon hearing of the last school fire I sent for Inspector Dunwoody of the B.C.P., who had just returned from New York with ‘Cannonball’ Baker, whom we had extradited in the Beryl G. murder case. I instructed the Superintendent of of Police and Inspector Dunwoody that no stone was to be left unturned in bringing to account those responsible for the burning of the school. You of course will realize how difficult it is to get information in this connection. The Doukhobours are apparently to a man protecting the guilty parties. They proect themselves under the guise of understanding no English, and the Inspector will have the very greatest difficulty in getting results. However, he will do his utmost.

Doctor MacLean advises me that he has instructed that Inspector Sheffield be appointed Official Trustee in the place of Inspector Miller. This change will go into effect immediately.

Inspector Dunwoody will have charge from the Police end. Instructionshave been given that he should co-operate with Inspector Sheffield, with the Grand Forks School Board and with our citizens generally and that prosecutions be launched wherever the necessary information can be obtained. Inspector Dunwoody will have the assistance of the necessary staff to carry on his work satisfactorily.

I understand that Doctor Maclean has given instructions that school sites be determined upon immediately and all or part of the burned schools replaced without delay.

I shall be glad if you will advise me of the development of the situation as you see it and rest assured the Department will give every possible assistance in bringing these people to time.

Yours very truly,

P.S. I enclose herewith a copy of my letter of instructions to the Superintendent of Police.

Source: BC Archives, Premier — 1925 — Doukhobor, GR 441 Vol. 246 File 7, A.M. Manson, Attorney-General, "Attorney-General Memo Regarding School Construction," March 12, 1925.

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