New Brunswick. Commission to Investigate the Conduct of Deputy [Matthew] Carruthers with Regard to Timber and Lumber Returns.

Abstract: Commission to Investigate the Conduct of Deputy [Matthew] Carruthers with Regard to Timber and Lumber Returns, 1844

The annual report which Deputy Matthew Carruthers submitted to the Surveyor General in 1842 was similar in content to those he had submitted in previous years. However, in March 1843, I. J. Williston, Esquire claimed that Carruthers' report had been improperly prepared: neither manufacturers nor merchants had been charged any duty on the large quantity of timber brought to market in the summer of 1842.

A Commission was subsequently established to investigate that complaint, with Joseph Gaynor, Thomas Robertson, and Asa Coy appointed Commissioners. They made it clear in their report that they had been granted insufficient powers to properly conduct the investigation. Because they had neither authority to enforce the appearance of witnesses nor the power to compel voluntary witnesses to answer all questions, "there had been throughout. . . a great want of direct and convincing testimony". In the end, the Commissioners reported that there was not enough conclusive evidence to either justify the complaint or to clear Mr. Carruthers. Thus they had no choice but to dismiss the charges.

Although the Carruthers' case was unsatisfactorily concluded, the Commission was not without value. In the course of their investigation, they interviewed a number of lumbermen. Although other evidence was provided, the lumbermen refused to produce their account books. The Commissioners sternly reported that they had a "persuasion as to the dishonesty of the Lumbermen in their dealings with the Officers of the Government (not discountenanced we regret to add, by the Merchants)" and the system which was supposed to secure the dues of the Crown was unsatisfactory.


Joseph Gaynor
Thomas R. Robinson
Asa Coy.

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