ADDRESS TO THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY ANNUAL MEETING,
TUESDAY, FEB. 18, 2003, HERITAGE LODGE
TOPIC: HISTORY OF MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT
i.e. M.D.. of Lincoln #542
To give even a cursory history of Municipal Government in the area east of Elk Point, one should really commence before the Province was formed in l905 and the land was in a District, probably either the District of Alberta or the District of Saskatchewan. And we should consider some of the conditions that early settlers labored under.
There were forms of local organization such as Herd Districts in 1883 and Fire Districts in 1886, In 1887 the Territorial Legislature passed an ordinance to permit the formation of Districts so that a simple system of taxation might be instituted and the proceeds used for road construction. In 1893 only a single township could organize but this was later expanded to two townships and then to 6. When Local Improvement Districts were encouraged in l905 and there were finally sufficient settlers one was formed in 1910. It was referred to as Territorial Unit #542.
Taxes were set at 3 and 1/8 cents an acre, or $5.00 for 160 acres, not including educational tax.
The Rural Municipality Act was passed in l912 to provide for rural municipal corporations composed of 9 townships,elections were set in wards instead of at large in 1913, and in 1918 the Municipal Districts Act required Improvement Districts to become municipal districts, and assessed land value became the basis for taxation.
However under the former Rural Municipality Act, in 1914 the Lincoln Rural Municipality #542 was formed east of present Elk Point. The reason for the name is presumed relative to the US background of some residents. The M.D. was to be governed by a Council of 6. Taxes were to be levied on land only with assessment set at $6 per acre, at a rate of taxation of 8 and 1/3 mills on a dollar, and functions were to provide for 'local public works and roads, public welfare, sanitation and health, and protection to persons and property'. Property owners could work out taxes at
a pay rate of 20 cents per hour for a man, 40 cents an hour for a team of horses, a 10 hour day, up to a total of $4.00, and this was later increased to 2/3 of municipal taxes.
Seed grain advances were first made in l918 and 1919 and somewhat over the next 20 years so seasons have been dry here previously.
Welfare in the form of so-called Relief was provided in 1919 and 1920 but was not an outright grant but was repayable with interest at 7%.
In Feb. 1921 Dr. F>G> Miller approached Council with a plan to erect a private Hospital in Elk Point, with the M.D. to pay a per diem for each patient. In 1925 it was established that Dr. Miller provide care for a patient at $1.00 per day conditional upon receipt of a grant of $400 per year.
Gopher tails were paid for at 2 cents up to the end of May and 1 cent thereafter.
Livestock from other areas were considered a nuisance because they consumed grass that local farmers wanted for their own free-ranging stock.
A $5 professional tax was levied on school teachers but this was found to be uncollectable because the Department ruled that " A school teacher is merely an ordinary worker or labourer...and is therefore not considered in the professional class.
Support was included in l928 for efforts to finish the railway gap between Heinsburg and North Battleford.
A plan for the Hamlet of Lindbergh was registered in 1929 and this spelled the end of Mooswa.
The net income for farmers over the entire province was stated to be $400.
During the Depression relief was granted from $5 to $12 permonth for a large family and Widowed Mothers Allowance as reduced from $40 to $30 per month.
Tax Consolidation Agreements were offered to hopefully collect more tax arrears.
In l932 wheat was sold at 22 cents a bushel, and oats at 9 and 1/2 cents. Church ladies supplied chicken suppers at 25 cents.
Old Age Pensions were usually $10 per month.
Unemployed men were placed on farms in winter and were paid $5 per month by the government and were expected to work for board.
In 1933 the Council set aside the N.E. 8-56-4-W4th as a recreation area beside Whitney Lake.
From 1929 to 1934 incentives were all directed to keeping farmers on the land and after 1934 they were designed to assist farmers to recover from the depression.
Lots in the hamlet of Lindbergh increased to $20.
Scrip was paid out in 1936 by the Provincial government and called Prosperity Bonds. The holder put a provincial 1 cent stamp on it every Thursday and could cash it in when full. But it was not legal and was discontinued.
Incentive of a 7% discount was offered on early payment of taxes.
Farmers were encouraged to grow legumes for feed and to improve soil fertility, and a Weed Inspector was appointed.
In 1938 notice was received of intention to form the Village of Elk Point.
Because tamarack was becoming scarce the MD purchased forms to construct concrete culverts.
The proposal of the E.P. Board of Trade to apply for a bridge across the river in l939 was supported. The same year there was mention of a proposed school Division.
In 1940 wheat yields in 4 townships were around 9 bushels per acre and farmers were not even able to sell that amount because of wartime quotas.
In 1941 a Wheat Acreage Reduction Policy encouraged farmers to seed fewer acres to grain.
School districts had already been amalgamated into School Divisions and in l941 the Municipal Districts Act was amended to provide for enlarged Municipal Districts.
And so the M.D.'s of Champlain, Lincoln and Laurier were merged into the M.D. of St. Paul.
The snow plowing issue of the time was settled by a motion to use Municipal equipment to clear the main market roads.
The School Division approached the Council regarding snow-plowing school bus roads, and this was a contentious issue that would culminate in the formation of a County. From my memory of the situation, the School Division needed to only forward a request and a County would be formed.
I am not providing a total history of Municipal Rural Government but only some of the part involving the M.D. of Lincoln # 542.