Abstract: Royal Commission Re: Charges Against Restigouche Boom Co., 1906

The Restigouche Boom Company was incorporated in 1879. Its business was to construct and maintaining booms on the Restigouche River. Typically booms were a line of connected floating timbers extended across a river designed to obstruct passage or catch floating objects, in this case timber.

Early in the twentieth century a number of charges were brought against the Company by at least seven different complainants. Although a number of specific complaints brought by the parties, only five were considered by the Commission established to examine these charges. The Commissioners were Frederick Barker, Supreme Court Justice; Ora King, Barrister; and John Kilburn, lumberman.

Of the five charges, only two were discussed at any length. Charges of improper payments, discriminatory business practices, and negligence of fiduciary responsibility were dismissed. However, two serious charges still stood. The first charge was that the Company had leased, in effect, their entire operation on the Restigouche River to one of the lumber companies on the river, William Richards and Company Ltd. The second, brought chiefly by the Dalhousie Lumber Company, was that the Boom Company had been negligent to the extent that a great number of logs were lost every year.

The report does indicated that a series of dubious deals had been struck between the Restigouche Boom Company and the Richards logging company. Nonetheless, the Commissioners seemed to be very subdued in their conclusions. Ultimately, they found that since the boom operation was in a real sense a public good, that "a substantial reduction in the tolls exacted from operators [lumber companies]" was to be made. On the second charge, the Commissioners seemed more ambivalent. On the one hand they were not convinced that the Boom Company had displayed much diligence in following escaped logs, but also noted that the number of logs lost, significant though they were, were not "altogether" the fault of the Restigouche Boom Company.


Frederick Barker
Ora King
John Kilburn

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