Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry
Issue 14 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Tuesday, October 16, 2001
The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, to which was referred
Bill S-22, to provide for the recognition of the Canadian horse as the national
horse of Canada, met this day at 5:35 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.
Senator Leonard J. Gustafson (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, today we are studying Bill S-22, to
provide for the recognition of the Canadian horse as the national horse of
Senator Fairbairn has some excellent pictures of the Canadian horse with her
today. Perhaps senators could look at them in order to know what the horse looks
Our first witnesses are from the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association.
Mr. Guy Paquet, President, Canadian Horse Breeders' Association: Founded
in 1895, the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association was incorporated under
Canada's Animal Pedigree Act. The association currently has 834 breeders and
owners throughout Canada and in the United States. In addition to promoting the
Canadian horse, the association ensures the validity of Canadian horse
The breed made its official début in 1896, with the establishment of a General
Stud and Herd Book, and this must be considered one of the important steps in
the recognition of the Canadian horse. The breed's origins go back as far as
1647, when the first horse arrived in the Saint Lawrence valley.
In 1992, historian Paul Bernier published a comprehensive study of the Canadian
horse, the result of lengthy research. In order to write the history of the
horse, the author had to consult all the studies, monographs, biographies and
other sources containing information about horses. After consulting Mr.
Bernier's work, we prepared this summary of the history of the Canadian horse.
Paul Bernier pointed out that there were no horses in America before the first
European settlers arrived. In Canada, French horses were delivered to Acadia in
1609, 1610 and 1615. However, the colony at Port-Royal was looted in 1616 and
the herd vanished.
In 1647, in Quebec City, the first horse was imported into New France, as a gift
to Governor de Montmagny. In 1665, King Louis XIV sent a shipment of horses to
the colony, having decided in 1660 to take responsibility for the colony's
administration. Four other shipments of French horses followed, in 1667, 1668,
1670 and 1671.
After this last shipment, the King and Intendant Talon, who supervised the
distribution of the horses on their arrival, considered that there were now
enough horses in the colony to furnish a dependable supply of colts to all who
needed them. All told, some 82 horses arrived in Quebec City during that period.
As Mr. Bernier points out, the shipments of horses were one of the most
successful features of the French colonial operations. Not only did the horses
become an indispensable element of the social and economic life of New France,
but they reproduced and adapted at a rate that exceeded the expectations of the
governors. The horses transplanted here formed a new breed, with traits harking
back to their origins and new characteristics that developed from their
adaptation to the life and climate in America.
By 1685, there were 156 horses. Their number continued to grow, reaching 1,872
horses in 1706 and 3,786 in 1716. At the time of the Conquest in 1760, there
were 12,757 horses in New France. It is clear that all of these were descended
from the horses sent over by Louis XIV. At the time, contacts with the New
England colonies was limited, and trading was hindered by geography, namely the
Mr. Bernier reports that after 1720, there was one horse for every five
inhabitants. This increase in herd numbers is attributable to the horse's many
uses, and also to a law forcing owners to breed their mares. Governors of the
time considered breeding horses to be a citizen's duty.
While this period was noteworthy in terms of the number of foals born, there was
less concern for and less attention paid to selection. According to Mr. Bernier,
they left the development of the breed to chance and natural selection, which
allowed the hardiest to survive and created a race renowned for its toughness.
It was not for nothing that the Canadian horse was nicknamed "The Little
For about 100 years, until the Conquest of 1760, with no new French horses being
brought in and isolated from the English and Spanish horses in New England, the
Canadian horses had time to establish their traits and develop into a distinct
and separate breed.
At that time, there was no official Canadian breed. Nor was there a specific
conformation description for these horses. However, the Canadian horse evolved
in isolation and could not have inherited traits from other breeds. In addition,
comments made by observers of the period, and sketches and pictures (notably
paintings by Cornelius Krieghoff), show that the horse of that time resembled
the Canadian horse we know today.
This is some of the earliest evidence that the Little Iron Horse is indeed part
of Canada's history and part of Canada's heritage.
The Conquest was a turning point for New France society. The new arrivals
influenced the way of life in the Saint Lawrence valley and opened the door to
trade between New France and New England. Horses were also traded. The qualities
of the Canadian horse were quickly discerned and appreciated south of the
Later on, at the time of the American Revolution, the Loyalists who came to
settle in Canada wanted to retain strong ties with their homeland, England. They
imported stallions and crossed Canadian horses with their British animals, which
were primarily Clydesdales from Scotland. The fashion also held sway among
French speakers and the Canadian horse was also used in other types of
cross-breeding. Over the years, however, there remained ardent admirers of the
Canadian horse who felt their little horse had some superb qualities that were
likely to be lost if mating with other breeds was promoted.
This was a dark age for the Canadian horse, which suffered from all too numerous
sales to the United States and from indiscriminate breeding.
Reconstructing the breed began in 1869 when the Parliament in Quebec City
established an agricultural commission for the province of Quebec. This agency
had a mandate to resume breeding of Canadian horses. On October 12, 1869, its
That a supplement be accorded to the three agricultural societies with the best
stallions of the Canadian breed, whose quality and purity are recognized by Dr.
Têtu (provincial veterinarian) and J. Dawes.
The Commission also stipulated that the bonus was set at $100 per horse and that
is would be awarded on the condition that the agricultural society keep the
stallion for two years.
In 1870, Louis Archambault, Minister of Agriculture and Public Works, called for
the abolition of the supplement for importing stallions.
Canadian horse breeding then took another track, as the animals were now to be
assessed by experts. Breeding became more scientific and was based on specific
evaluation criteria, opening up the possibilities for genetic selection. Out of
this new philosophy came the idea of setting up a national stud book, although
it took nearly twenty years before it actually happened, in 1890.
With a budget of $100,000, officials bought 50 Percheron, Norman and Breton
stallions. Not one single Clydesdale was purchased, proof of their desire to
"return the Canadian horse to its origins."
Unfortunately, the stud book made little impact on breeders, as it was used
primarily by experimental farms and by breeders in the US who were always
interested in the qualities of the Saint Lawrence valley horses.
In 1886, the agriculture commission decided to open a breed herdbook. This
clearly expressed desire had an impact among breeders of horses that many
already considered extinct. Over the next year, agricultural shows, and
primarily the one in Quebec City, attracted a few very good Canadian horses,
proving that the breed was indeed still alive.
In 1889, the agriculture commission asked the Canadian cattle herdbooks
committee to make room for Canadian horses. Dr. J.A. Couture, chief veterinarian
for the Ministry of Agriculture, was tasked with seeking out, inspecting and, if
they were worthy, entering their names in the stud book. Dr. Couture found few
stallions with the sought-after traits, but discovered a large number of
appropriate mares, and it is from this core group that the breed was rebuilt.
Also at that time, Dr. Couture bought together the breeders whose horses had
been entered in the stud book and founded the Canadian Horse Breeders'
Association. The Canadian horse now had another tool to ensure its development.
In 1905, the Ministry of Agriculture pointed out that the results over the past
twenty years had been more than encouraging: the stud book now contained 2000
The federal government also took note of the breed's development and gave its
unequivocal support to the Canadian horse. With the backing of Mr. J.G.
Rutherford, a specialist with the Department, Agriculture Minister Sidney Fisher
introduced a plan to improve the breed. The decision involved reviewing the stud
book. In 1907, Rutherford, with the assistance of two representatives from the
Canadian Horse Breeders' Association, one of whom was Dr. Couture, and two
representatives from the federal Department of Agriculture, decided to close the
studbook and conduct another inspection of the horses.
Of the 2,528 horses registered at that time, the committee retained only 134
stallions and 835 mares. Unfortunately, as the committee was unable to go
outside Quebec, a number of horses in more distant locations such as the
Maritimes, Ontario, Western provinces and the United States, were stricken from
the stud books. In 1910, following an information campaign targeting
agricultural shows, the studbook contained 1,500 entries.
In 1912, the federal Minister of Agriculture followed up on the committee's
second recommendation and inaugurated a breeding program at the Cap-Rouge
Experimental Station near Quebec City. In 1919, the program was transferred to
St. Joachim, near Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. The government ended the improvement
program at St. Joachim in 1940. The Quebec Department of Agriculture took over
the program and a Canadian horse breeding program was begun at the demonstration
farm at Deschambault. It was here that, twenty-five years later, a new selection
program was launched.
From 1964 to 1979, the goal was to develop traits that made the Canadian horse
better for riding. The breeding line, known up until that point as producing
carriage horses or pack horses, needed to be refined.
This attitude was attributable to a new state of affairs. The advent of steam
engines, initially, and then electricity, the automobile and the tractor,
gradually replaced the Canadian horse, as well as the other breeds, on the farm
and in the city where they had been used for public transportation. Recreational
riding than became more important. The Quebec government remained involved until
1981, when the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food decided to auction
off the 44 horses in its Deschambault stables. The ministry justified its
decision by saying that it wanted to give responsibility for the herd back to
breeders. Around the early 1960s, however, the Canadian horse was again
threatened with extinction once it was no longer being used as a pack horse. A
number of breeders, even though they continued to raise Canadian horses, failed
to register them.
This situation led the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association to open its stud
books. As reported in the CHBA minutes, from 1970 to 1973, the association
agreed to enter in its stud books mares whose parents were not entered, as long
as its inspectors considered the horses to have sufficient traits of the breed.
However, these horses were not considered purebred, but there was a series of
regulations that promoted registering their offspring, so that, three or four
generations later, the foals would be given purebred status.
In 1978, the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association judged the herd at between 250
and 400 horses. Today, its estimate is around 3,2000 and the number is steadily
rising. Since 1999, about 400 foals have been registered every year. Canadian
horse breeders can once more claim victory. The ever-increasing demand for
horses for leisure, for riding or pulling carriages, will provide the Canadian
horse with a fresh opportunity to regain its position in Canada's equine
The history of the Canadian horse is closely linked to the development of
Canada, as they helped the farmers of the time to build a vigorous society. The
also played a significant role in developing our economy, bu allowing for the
transportation of people and goods, and by bearing the brunt of the active
trading that went on between Canada and the United States.
Twice the breed faced extinction, but efforts made by farmers enabled it to
remain an important part of our history. It is certainly a national symbol that
continues to attract the attention of Canadians. Over the past few years, the
demand for Canadian horses has steadily increased. In 1998, our association had
670 members, only 32 per cent of whom were not residents of Quebec. Today, we
have 834 members, and 43 per cent of them live in other Canadian provinces.
In 1999, for all of these reasons, Murray Calder, MP, tabled a bill providing
for the recognition of the Canadian horse as the national horse of Canada. The
Canadian Horse Breeders' Association lent its full support to this initiative.
Today, a new bill providing for the recognition of the Canadian horse is being
considered. We are delighted to support this measure, and we hope that
parliamentarians will rally together in honouring our Little Iron Horse, and by
declaring "The Canadian horse is the national horse of Canada."
The Chairman: You have given us a thorough run-down of the history of the
Canadian horse. You are the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association. Do you
register all the horses across Canada?
Mr. Paquet: The Canadian Horse Breeders' Association is responsible for
registering all horses in Canada.
The Chairman: I am somewhat familiar with cattle breeding and
registration. We have Maine-Anjou cattle, and so on, on our farm. Some cattle
are purebred and then some are half-bred. Do you have that within your
Mr. Paquet: Yet, we have experienced the same thing in recent years.
However, following the reconstruction of the Canadian breed, horses exhibiting
some of the traits of the breed were deemed to be Canadian horses, although not
purebreds, except for stallions. As I explained to you in my presentation, three
or four generations later, they became purebred, or were deemed half blood, or a
three quarter mix.
The Chairman: Possibly, I should have used the words "full
blood" or "half blood" or something. Do you use those terms?
Mr. Paquet: Yes, the same thing.
Senator Oliver: In your presentation, you spoke about the fact that these
horses were not purebred. Of the 3,200 horses in Canada today, how many do you
consider to be purebred?
Mr. Paquet: According to the stud book, they were all considered purebred
at the time. Currently, a horse that is legally registered is deemed to be a
purebred Canadian horse.
Senator Oliver: Before this designation of "purebred" was given
to all these horses, what were some of the other animals in Canada with which
they were being bred? Were they being bred with the Morgan horse, for example?
Mr. Paquet: In the past, some horses were bred with the Clydesdale, as I
noted in my presentation. However, since the stud books were last opened, the
focus has been on breeding purebreds only.
Senator Oliver: Is it correct that most of the 3,200 today are about 15
or 16 hands?
Mr. Paquet: No, generally speaking the Canadian horse should ideally
stand between 15 and 16 hands.
Senator Tunney: Mr. Chairman, I have a question and a comment. What
method of identification do you use? Is it tagging or under-the-skin
identification? Is it electronic or physical?
Mr. Paquet: These electronic chips are implanted under the skin in the
animal's neck. They are furnished by a very reliable organization and are
recognized under the Animal Pedigree Act. All registration is regulated under
Senator Tunney: When I look at the picture that you have provided, I see
that the cover has a buggy whip on it. Buggy whips used to be popular 50 years
ago. With present concerns about animal rights, they may not be so popular. That
is my comment.
Mr. Paquet: That is just for show.
Senator LaPierre: It is important not to have half breeds.
Mr. Paquet: There are no half breeds.
Senator LaPierre: Are there other breeds that could be designated as
Mr. Paquet: No, at present, no breed can be designated in Canada as the
Senator LaPierre: Bill S-22 applies only to the breed which you have
spoke of today?
Mr. Paquet: That is correct, senator.
Senator LaPierre: Western aboriginal peoples also had horses.
Mr. Paquet: Yes, they did.
Senator LaPierre: What became of those horses?
Mr. Paquet: These horses were the result of cross-breeding. They were not
considered purebreds, but rather mix breeds.
Senator LaPierre: As you may know, the sons of La Vérendrye journeyed to
the West and came in contact with the Spanish American horse. These horses were
ultimately imported into Western Canada at some point in this nation's history.
Mr. Paquet: That is correct.
Senator LaPierre: Were they ever bred with our horses?
Mr. Paquet: Occasionally, farmers and aboriginals may not have registered
their horses. It is possible that the breeds were cross-bred at some point.
Senator LaPierre: You stated that there are an estimated 3,200 Canadian
Mr. Paquet: Yes.
Senator LaPierre: We could bring all the horses to Ottawa and look at
Mr. Paquet: Yes.
Senator LaPierre: The 3,200 horses?
Mr. Paquet: Yes.
Senator LaPierre: I will arrange that.
May I offer another reason why this horse should be recognized as our national
horse? Before the Conquest, Quebec-Canadian society was dominated by a crook who
starved the population to a large degree. They had no meat and nothing else to
eat, in many instances. The women of Quebec, including Montreal, and the farmers
all around ganged together and marched to see Vaudreuil, the first Governor
General of Canada, to ask him to feed them. He told them to eat the horses. The
women said, "We cannot eat our friends."
The horse is our friend. We do not eat horse meat. They did not eat horse meat
when they had nothing else to eat.
Mr. Paquet: That is true. In the past, that has happened.
It is important that this horse become the national horse of Canada.
Senator Fairbairn: I wish to thank you for coming here tonight. I feel
that perhaps I should be sitting up there with you, rather than around the table
with the other senators.
For the benefit of my colleagues, I have brought pictures, not just to show what
a fine animal the Canadien horse is, but to show that it has indeed become a
symbol in other parts of this country. I am from Southern Alberta, where there
are a number of breeders. There are also very active breeders in the central
part of our province. The animals shown here are hugely popular in my area, but
they are also used, for instance, in a place like Spruce Meadows, the
international equestrian park outside Calgary. They will often have, as a
symbol, the Canadien horses in a sort of parade of honour at the opening of
Obviously, I support this bill. I support my colleague, Senator Murray.
Certainly, the people whom I represent in my province are very proud that such a
bill would be before our Canadian Parliament.
You represent the national organization. To what degree does the organization,
aside from its record books, keep in touch and stay involved with the breeders
in other parts of the country? Three thousand horses across the land is not an
enormous number for a significant, historic breed like this. How closely do you
keep in touch with other breeders who may have smaller herds, but who,
nonetheless, are eager to do what you are doing and preserve the breed?
Mr. Paquet: Currently, the association publishes a quarterly journal
called The Canadian Horse. Each district, be it British Columbia,
Ontario, Quebec or Atlantic Canada, has an opportunity to share news about all
local members. News from Alberta, Ontario and elsewhere is also published. The
journal provides an overview of all of the activities of the association's
board, an account of meetings as well as minutes, and a rundown of the decisions
made by association members who own Canadian horses.
In order to own a Canadian horse, a person must be a member of the Canadian
Horse Breeders' Association. That is the most important requirement. All
pertinent information about the Canadian horse is available nationwide to
Senator Fairbairn: You have underlined the point that, through the
efforts of your organization over many years, you have it narrowed down into the
purebred, pure blood Canadien horse breed. In different parts of the country -
for instance, Quebec - would your herd at any time connect with the herds of
those folks in central Alberta or wherever? Do you do that?
Mr. Paquet: Obviously, we are in contact with these individuals. It is
possible for Albertans to bring in sperm from stallions in order to breed new
full blood horses in Alberta.
Senator Oliver: I have a supplementary question. Are there any of these
horses in the United States of America? If so, what would happen if the sperm of
a stallion in the United States were to go to a mare, say, from Quebec? What
Mr. Paquet: Currently, any horse sold to the United States comes with a
registration certificate issued in accordance with the Animal Pedigree Act. This
certificate is issued in Canada. An individual who arranges to have his mare
impregnated in the United States could obtain a purebred certificate by
contacting the Canadian Registration Board. Blood and DNA samples are then
requested. The breeder must supply a sample of the horse's blood which is then
analysed by a lab to confirm blood lines. A certificate is then issued decreeing
that the horse is indeed a Canadian horse.
Senator Wiebe: I have several questions. Before I begin, I wish to say
that I support this piece of proposed legislation 100 per cent, although I must
admit that my favourite horse is the Morgan horse. That horse was developed
strictly in America.
I gather from your history, the Canadien horse developed basically from 1647 to
1978. The animal that we now call the Canadien horse has evolved over those
years. Is that a correct assumption?
Mr. Paquet: To date, it is going rather well.
Senator Wiebe: While this horse has many of the traits of the original
1647 horse, in effect, we in Canada have done the same thing as they did with
the Morgan horse - we developed our own horse.
The Chairman: I think we need come clarification here.
Mr. Paquet: I am having a bit of a problem with the interpretation. Could
you kindly repeat your question?
Senator Wiebe: From the presentation that you made on the history,
basically the horse that is registered today as the Canadien horse was developed
here in Canada during the period 1647 to 1978. Since 1978, there have been no
more additions or changes made to the actual breed, but changes did take place
during that time period. Is that a correct assumption?
Mr. Paquet: No, there have not been any changes. The only change over the
period has been that the Canadian horse is perhaps a little taller today.
Senator Oliver: It is still 15 or 16 hands?
Mr. Paquet: Yes.
Senator Wiebe: In your history, you said that the general public no
longer had use for draft animals; they were looking for riding animals. To meet
that demand, you made some genetic changes to the Canadien horse. If that is the
case, what we did was develop our own horse here in Canada. Therefore, the horse
we have registered since 1978 may have the basic traits of the original horse
that arrived in 1647, but other traits have been added throughout the years,
like the Clydesdale, for example, and some of the others.
According to your history, there were periods of time when no record of studs
was kept. Therefore, to re-establish that record, you had to allow for three or
four generations of what you thought was the Canadien horse to be recorded. At
that time - that is, after three or four generations - you could then begin to
issue your stud papers again.
Senator Oliver: That is what they did.
Senator Wiebe: The argument that I am making is that you, or the
association, have developed a horse that is very distinctive to Canada and added
some traits along the way - for example, for riding.
My argument is to add weight to the fact that, yes, this is a Canadian horse,
because we have developed it to suit our particular needs in this country. Is
Mr. Paquet: Moreover, I mentioned in my presentation that back at
Deschambault stables in 1969, some Canadian horse breeders asked that the breed
traits be refined. Some shortcomings had been identified, the horse being
heavier and more robust. Today, with these refinements, the Canadian horse is
Senator Wiebe: I imagine that you have had an opportunity to read the
bill. Are there any aspects of it with which you do not agree? That may lead to
my next question.
Mr. Paquet: As Président of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association, I
am aware of the difference of opinion as to the translation of Canadian Horse
Breeding Association and Canadian Breeding Association.
We have never had a problem with the translation and feel the association should
be referred to as the Canadian Breeders' Association, to satisfy both
association. In our view, the expression "Canadian horse" translates
equally well in English and in French.
Senator Wiebe: I asked that question because, as you know, the way the
bill is written, the name is spelled "-i-e-n." If the translation of
the presentation that you made before us today is correct, at the Canadian Horse
Breeders' Association the spelling is "i-a-n."
Senator Stratton: It is both.
Mr. Paquet: When the stud books were opened, the terms developed for use
were the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association in English, and the Société
d'éleveurs de chevaux canadiens in French. That explains why the word is
spelled "CANADIAN." We do not object to that and we accept both
spellings, because that is the translation of "cheval canadien."
The Chairman: It is in the translation. It could certainly be either way.
Senator Stratton: Are you suggesting that the bill should be corrected?
Senator Wiebe: No, I am not suggesting that. I was just asking for his
opinion on that and he gave it.
Senator Stratton: I do not know the first thing about horses, although I
have been on a few. I have designed a few riding stables, as well as boxcars for
Everyone around this table seems quite supportive of the Canadien horse. I am
not against it at all. This is much like the debate on our national sport. We
started off talking about hockey as our national sport, and what did we end up
with? In typically Canadian fashion, we ended up with hockey and lacrosse. My
question today is: Will we end up with a situation where, all of a sudden, other
horse breeding associations will come to us and say, "What about us?"
Will we be stepping into a minefield where every other association will want to
have its own breed identified as "the Canadian horse"? We must address
that issue, because we could end up with hockey and lacrosse all over again.
Mr. Paquet: I understand your question perfectly well. The Canadian Horse
Breeders' Association has a constitution stating that the Canadian horse belongs
to Canadians and Quebeckers and the underlying principle cannot, under any
circumstances, be exported beyond these borders. This is a horse that has been
bred and refined in Canada for Canadians. Given that there are only 60 of the
3,200 horses in the United States, it is inconceivable that one day this horse
might no longer belong to us. There would need to be over 834 members in the
U.S. for this horse to be entered in competitions. The national office is
located in Quebec. This is a Quebec organization with head offices in Quebec. It
is inconceivable that our Canadian horse might one day disappear.
Senator Stratton: My real question is: Is there any other horse in Canada
that is a truly Canadian breed?
Mr. Paquet: No, senator, it is the only horse.
The Chairman: Thank you for appearing here this evening. This has been an
We will now call on our next witness, Mr. Ted Lawrence from Rare Breeds Canada,
to take his place at the table.
Mr. Ted Lawrence, Chair, Rare Breeds Canada: Mr. Chairman, thank you for
the opportunity to appear before your committee this evening. I am an
engineering geologist by trade, but an organic farmer by choice. For several
years, my wife and I have been raising rare and endangered species of domestic
animals on our farm in the Gatineau. We raise Newfoundland ponies, which are
very similar to the Canadien horse. It could be considered a truly Canadian
animal as well.
This presentation reflects the perspective of Rare Breeds Canada. It stresses
the heritage and historical aspects of the breed and where we are going with it.
Rare Breeds Canada is a federally incorporated charitable organization founded
in 1987. It is dedicated to conserving and promoting rare and endangered breeds
We have a quarterly journal called Genesis in which our activities are
published. It is distributed to approximately 800 members throughout Canada.
Our mission is to make Canadians more aware of their agricultural heritage and,
through education and niche marketing, involve them in preserving endangered
breeds of farm livestock. We do this in a number of ways. The most visible is
through a host farm program. Rare Breeds Canada owns rare animals, or those in
danger of extinction or threatened, and places them with farmers across Canada,
who act as hosts. They breed these animals and increase their numbers. In
exchange for this, they receive every second one of the progeny. Rare Breeds
Canada then places these new groups of animals on other host farms and repeats
We also have a large sperm bank from rare and endangered domestic livestock. We
also promote the commercial value of heritage breeds. If there is no commercial
value, there is no interest. This is paramount, because they will become extinct
if there is no commercial use for them.
We try to educate the public about what we are doing and its importance. We work
with other organizations in Canada, such as the breed associations for the
various endangered breeds, as well as with similar international organizations.
The most important are a similar organization in Britain, and an American
Tonight I would like to provide information in support of the bill, discuss
possible problems and issues, and comment on the importance of heritage breeds.
When requested to make this presentation, I asked myself about the criteria we
use to judge a national symbol. We have a history of using plants and animals,
and various other symbols, to represent us, both nationally and provincially.
They must be historically significant. They must be recognized by a broad base
of the population and be widely distributed. They must have heritage
significance for Canadians.
The use of symbols in Canada federally goes back a long way. Back in 1678, the
Hudson's Bay Company used the beaver on its official seal. The beaver was also
used on the coat of arms of Nova Scotia in 1621. We have embraced the maple
leaf. It has been on the coat of arms of Canada since 1921. We see the maple
leaf on the flag we adopted in 1965.
Although use of the beaver has a long history, it was only officially legislated
as a symbol for Canada in 1975, as was the maple leaf in 1996. The history is
long, but we did not legislate it until more recently.
Most of the provinces have a provincial flower and/or tree and/or a bird as
symbols. They also have minerals, gems, tartans, official colours and wild
animals, and some provinces also have domestic animals as symbols. Therefore,
there is a broad foundation for designating the Canadien horse as the national
horse of Canada.
Other domestic animals that have been used as symbols by provinces include the
Newfoundland pony and the Newfoundland dog in Newfoundland. Nova Scotia has the
duck tolling retriever. Quebec has the Canadien cow, the Canadien horse and the
Chanticleer chicken. The North has the Innu dog.
What is the historical significance of the Canadien horse? You have just heard a
presentation on the detailed history of the horse in Canada. I will touch on
only a few points.
The Canadien horse was the first horse in New France. It dates back to the
mid-1600s. A horse of Norman and Breton stock, it was a gift of Louis XIV. This
horse has been the foundation stock for a number of modern breeds. The
population was at its peak in the mid-1800s. It is legendary for its use as a
draft or riding horse, and for its even disposition and intelligence. As you
heard, the stud books were opened in 1885 and registration started in 1905.
Is there regional recognition for this animal? There are breeders in all
provinces of Canada, the Northwest Territories and the United States. Animals
have been exported to Europe, South America and elsewhere. They are well known
for endurance in trail riding. They are draft horses of phenomenal strength and
stamina; they have been proven in the show ring and dressage; and they are
prized as family horses.
How widely is the population of the Canadien horse distributed? All pedigree
animals in Canada are recorded in the Canadian Livestock Records under the
Pedigree Act. To date, there have been 8,599 registrations. Half of these have
been since 1975. From 1910 to about 1950, the average number of registrations
per year was only 25. In many years, no animals were registered. Between 1970
and 1980, on average, 45 animals were registered per year. Between 1980 and
1990, the average was 100. Between 1990 and 2000, the average number of
registrations was 182. The most recent year for which we have complete figures
is 2000, when there were 380 registrations. This includes both pure and non-pure
Approximately two-thirds of Canadien horses are in Quebec and approximately 12
per cent in each of Ontario and Alberta, with the rest distributed elsewhere.
Canadian Livestock Records estimates that there are 2,000 breeding females, with
a total population of 4,000 to 5,000.
As for its heritage significance for Canadians, we believe that the Canadien
horse was pivotal to the success of the economy of New France - prior to the
horse, only oxen were used for draft animals - and also to the survival of early
inhabitants. The Canadien horse has had a major influence in farming as well as
in the development of other breeds of horse.
The heroic deeds of the Canadien horse are well represented in Canadian
literature and art. I give you the example of Cornelius Krieghoff. The
attributes of the Canadien horse, which include a docile nature, willingness to
work hard, loyalty and intelligence, reflect the values of Canadians. It is one
of only a few Canadian domestic breeds. The only others that come to mind are
the Canadien cow and the Newfoundland pony. These are the only breeds that were
developed in Canada.
Doubtless the Canadien horse is worthy of being the national horse of Canada.
I should like to touch on a couple of related issues. First, the Canadien horse
was designated a heritage animal in Quebec in December 1999, along with the
Canadien cow and the Chanticleer chicken.
There are organizations and people with diverse agendas with an interest in the
Canadien horse. There is a risk of changes to the animal and the breed
standards. To understand this, we must understand what a breed is. A breed is a
group of animals that, through selection and breeding, have come to resemble one
another and pass on their traits uniformly to their offspring. However, a breed
of domestic animals is termed such by common consent of breeders. Therefore, the
breeders control what the breed will be. In the past, the Canadien and all other
domestic breeds have evolved. In numerous cases, other bloodlines have been
introduced, either for various specific reasons or naturally. When that is done
by design, it is called "upgrading." In fact, we have two categories
of Canadien horse, pure and non-pure.
The Canadien horse is the only breed in Canada for which the breed standards
were set and approved by the federal government based on the conformation of the
horse over 100 years ago. If we truly want to save the Canadien horse and
designate it as a national symbol, these standards should not be changed.
Breeders may breed as they wish, but they must not expect to change the
qualities of the Canadien horse as set down by the breed standards. If the breed
standards are changed to allow upgrading and changes, we will destroy the very
entity that we are trying to preserve. In the past, there was rigorous
inspection of breeding stock, and only those animals that conformed were allowed
to be bred.
Our heritage breeds have a wide genetic diversity. They are a storehouse of
genetic attributes. When we breed for certain traits, we may lose some other,
very desirable traits, such as the ability to resist disease, to survive on
meagre rations and to properly mother their young.
We have many industrialized breeds in Canada. The Holstein cow is a good
example. This breed provides 80 per cent of the milk in Canada, but that is
accomplished by feeding very high levels of cereal grains and through pricing
that favours milk with low milk solids. It is a very specialized market. If this
animal should be endangered in some way by disease and we lose it, there will be
a tremendous impact on the industry.
If we are to protect these animals, we must maintain the genetic diversity of
the minority breeds that have the ability to resist disease and survive in a
grass-fed economy rather than a grain-fed one.
Our heritage breeds have the ability to respond to changing markets and
environments, to different farming styles, requirements and methods, and to
health issues that may evolve.
Finally, I should like to put forward our recommendations. We recommend that you
accept the Canadien horse as the national horse of Canada. However, we would
like to see the breed's standard included as part of the designation. Without
it, the wonderful attributes that have made it what it is could be changed. In
the process, we would lose the very characteristics that we cherish.
The Chairman: You raised an interesting subject when you mentioned any
association changing or upgrading a species. I am quite familiar with that in
the associations that concern themselves with the Maine-Anjou, the Semintal and
other breeds. They do exactly that. Do you think there will be unanimous
approval of that type of approach? I know where you are coming from.
Mr. Lawrence: As I said, there are people with different agendas. There
are people who would like to see a larger Canadien horse, perhaps up to 17
hands. They would like to have a horse that would perform better in the show
ring. However, would that be a Canadien? It would be a change in the breed, but
it would still be called a "Canadien." However, it would not be the
heritage animal that we know.
The Chairman: It is possible for a certain animal to turn out a little
differently. However, it is still of that breed. You then say, "That is the
kind of animal I want." Therefore, you select and breed that animal up to
your herd standards. By so doing, you are changing the breed to some extent,
because the animals begin to depict the profile of the animal that you selected.
That happens in grains, cattle, horses and so on. I suppose there is no breed in
which it does not happen. You are doing the same thing. Yet that horse would be
registered as a Canadien horse.
Mr. Lawrence: To give you an example, the Canadian Livestock Records
Corporation registers the animals. The breed's standard is set by the
association and approved by the CLRC. Depending on the breed association, they
may have strict requirements or they may not.
I know for a fact that some breeds of cattle are classified when they are born
and before they are registered. Any that do not meet the confirmation are
culled. They are not allowed to breed them. With other breeds, the breeders are
allowed to do as they please.
I want to make everyone aware that the characteristics of this horse could
change over time.
The Chairman: I think we get your point. Of course, it is very evident
that, in some cases, the United States has different regulations from Canada.
That certainly indicates that there are changes and differences.
Senator Wiebe: To follow up on that line of questioning, is there more
than one Canadien breed standard out there today?
Mr. Lawrence: That question would be best put to the breed association.
My understanding is that there is a breed standard that we go by today. However,
it can be changed by a vote of the members.
Senator Wiebe: Is the breed standard that is used today the same as the
one that was passed 100 years ago?
Mr. Lawrence: I believe so. I think there were some minor variations to
allow larger horses. However, I stand to be corrected. I believe 15.3 hands was
the maximum. Exceptional animals that were larger, such as stallions, for
example, would have been allowed. Generally, I think that animals up to 16 hands
are allowed. However, there is nothing to say that if there were a consensus, it
could not be moved up or down.
Senator Wiebe: If we include the breed standard as part of the
designation in the bill, then another piece of legislation would be required in
order for any changes to be made.
Mr. Lawrence: That sounds like it, yes.
Senator Wiebe: By so doing, we are tying the hands of the breed
association itself. Rather than government dictating the terms, would it not be
better for the breed association to do that?
Mr. Lawrence: The government set the original breed standard. I believe
that it was legislated. If we want to keep the original horse and prevent it
from changing, then we must have some restriction. If it is left to the breed
association, it may stay the same, but there will be pressure from some
individuals to change it. That is an undoubted truth.
Senator Wiebe: Basically, you are recommending that pressure be put on
legislators in the government rather than on the breed association?
Mr. Lawrence: I am saying that if you want the Canadien horse to be the
national horse of Canada, and you choose it because of all its wonderful
attributes, then you will want to protect those.
Senator Wiebe: However, I may suggest to you that just because it is in
legislation, it does not remove the pressure. It just changes where the pressure
Senator Oliver: There is a breed standard now.
Mr. Lawrence: There is a breed standard, yes.
Senator Wiebe: My next question is more for information purposes than
anything else. You mentioned that the Canadien horse has been a foundation stock
for a number of other breeds. Do you know offhand what other breeds have used
Mr. Lawrence: The Morgan horse, the Tennessee walking horse and the
American saddlebred are the three of which I am aware.
Senator Wiebe: I knew there was a reason why I liked the Morgan horse.
The Chairman: I was on the Island of Guernsey, or Jersey, I do not
remember which, where it is against the law to have any cow other than a Jersey
or a Guernsey.
Senator Tunney: That is the Channel Islands.
The Chairman: That is how far you can carry this idea. I might say that
the only cow I want in Canada is the Maine-Anjou black cross.
Senator LaPierre: Tell me about the Newfoundland pony. This might lead me
into a hockey-lacrosse situation. Newfoundland entered Confederation in 1949. In
that year, we had to re-write the early history of Canada. Can you tell me if
the Newfoundland pony was here prior to 1647?
Mr. Lawrence: I cannot give you an exact date, but it has been here for
Senator LaPierre: We had better check this out, because we could end up
with two national horses, which might please everyone. We would have a national
pony, the Newfoundland pony, and a national horse, the Canadien. That would be
an entirely Canadian solution.
Senator Fairbairn: Except for the horse breeders.
Mr. Lawrence: We could have a national horse and a national pony.
Senator LaPierre: That is a better solution. Will you propose an
amendment to the bill?
Senator Fairbairn: When you talk about the standards, are we not here
because it has been important to the breeders and owners of the purebred
Canadien horse to keep it that way? Is that not why we are being encouraged by
the Horse Breeders' Association to place this horse in a special category?
The breeders that I know would not be seduced into, all of a sudden, modifying
the breed so that it could be a bigger horse or a smarter horse in the ring.
They want protection for the Canadien horse that they have.
Mr. Lawrence: There are people who would like to change it.
Senator Fairbairn: They would not have a Canadien horse if they changed
Mr. Lawrence: That was my point. They would have a Canadien horse if
there were consensus to change it. That is to say, if the Horse Breeders'
Association membership voted to allow animals of, say, larger than 16 hands to
be included, they would be included if it were voted on and approved.
There are many people selling Canadien horses today that barely conform, or do
not conform, to the breed standard. They are Canadien horses but they should be
culled. They should not be bred. They do not conform to the breed standard.
Senator Oliver: Certainly that is not something for legislation. Surely
that is a matter for the breeder.
Mr. Lawrence: I wish to make you aware that it is not as simple as it
Senator Wiebe: Are those horses registered?
Mr. Lawrence: Yes.
The Chairman: The same thing happens with cattle.
Mr. Lawrence: Many breeds are derived from mutant animals. Some say there
is value in the mutation. They breed it, upgrade it and form a new breed. This
happens regularly with domestic animals.
For all registered animals, there is a classifier who comes to look at those
animals and says, "Do they conform to the breed standard?" If he does
not pass them, they cannot be registered.
Senator Fairbairn: For clarification, did I misunderstand the previous
witnesses who referred to a definition where the purebred Canadien horse
standard was there and it was protected and recognized as well? There were mixed
breed Canadien horses, but the Canadien horse was the standard horse. That is to
say, whatever people wanted to do in mixing, they had a mixed breed Canadien
horse, but that is not the Canadien horse that we would be putting into
Mr. Lawrence: People are free to crossbreed and do what they like. If
they crossbreed, they cannot register the animal as a Canadien horse. There are
two categories that are registered currently: pure and non-pure registrations.
In a non-pure category, as described by Mr. Paquet, mares that conform to the
breed standard can be bred with registered stallions, so they could be included
as Canadiens. The offspring, as they move up the line and become purer and
purer, could be put into the pure category, but they are not introducing any new
blood from outside now.
The Chairman: That was evident in the cattle lines. For the longest time,
the biggest, highest, heaviest cow you could produce was wanted. It sold best.
In the last few years, there has been a move to around 1,100 pounds, and that is
the breeding that sells.
Mr. Lawrence: To give you a good example, the Charolais cow 100 years ago
was a rare breed. Now it is the breed that is most desired worldwide. It is a
very large animal.
Senator Tunney: If there is pure parentage, how can you not give someone
a registration to the offspring of that animal? If there are other traits that
might work against it being registered as pure, then okay. However, on size, I
do not see how you can do it, for this reason: You may register that offspring
when it is two years old but it has another two years to grow. Could you
register it as pure at two years old and then withdraw the registration at four?
No, sir, you cannot. From my experience in registered animals - dairy cattle, in
particular - you cannot deny those that have been registered.
I am sorry, I must leave for another meeting. However, I should like to hear
your reaction to that comment.
Mr. Lawrence: In many cases, it is left to the breeder to be responsible
not to breed animals that do not conform to the breed standard.
I breed sheep. I have sheep that are registerable, where both parents are
purebreds. I look at the offspring and say, "He is not worth anything. I
cannot register him." However, I can register him - but that only depletes
the quality of the breed. This happens with all breeds that are registered. The
breeder has a choice.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Lawrence, for your evidence. The committee
will give it consideration.
Next is Mr. Lalonde, President of the Upper Canada District Canadian Horse
Breeders, and his brother, Gerry.
Mr. Regent Lalonde, President, Upper Canada (Ontario) District Canadian Horse
Breeders, UCD: I am Ray Lalonde, President of the Upper Canada (Ontario)
District Canadian Horse Breeders.
Before my presentation, I would like to introduce my brother, Gerry Lalonde, one
of the directors of Canadian Livestock Records Corporation. He just returned
from British Columbia. He travelled through Canada by truck to deliver some
Canadian horses. To answer Senator Fairbairn's question of a while ago, there is
quite a bit of interchange between breeders in the east and the west of Canada.
I would like to expand on our background. Our grandfather bought a farm in
Cumberland on the Ottawa River in 1903. The first and only horses that ever
worked on that farm have been Canadian horses. My father bought the farm from my
grandfather in 1949 and Gerry and I bought it from our father in 1986.
We are actively involved in breeding Canadian horses and we have approximately
45 of them. We also have a horse carriage business. We hire out carriages for
weddings, to the Government of Canada and to the Prime Minister's Office on
special occasions. Our carriages are over 100 years old. You have probably seen
us in the city on several occasions.
We know something about Canadian horses, both small and tall. We have both at
our farm. The buyer of the horse decides whether he or she wants a small or a
The Chairman: What is a prize horse worth?
Mr. Regent Lalonde: We have a stallion that is worth $75,000.
The Chairman: I'll take two.
Senator Oliver: How many of your horses are mares?
Mr. Regent Lalonde: Three-quarters are mares. At this time, there is
great demand for tall horses. The market dictates what breeders should raise.
Senator Oliver: Is it correct that they cannot exceed 16 hands?
Mr. Regent Lalonde: They can exceed 16 hands. The standard dictates
between 14 and 16 hands, but the background on your certificate says that you
have a purebred horse. It may be less than 14.2 hands. There is great demand for
ponies and 14.2 hands is the limit for ponies in Canada now. Some breeders are
concentrating on breeding below 14.2 hands for the pony clubs. Ponies are ridden
by young girls and boys aged 15 to 16 who are getting into riding horses.
In response to Senator Fairbairn's question, we are actively involved in
artificial insemination of Canadian horses at our farm. We have a laboratory and
we ship semen across Canada and the U.S. by various means of transport. This
facilitates the mixture of the blood of the Canadian horse.
My comments were prepared in consultation with the board of directors of the
Upper Canada (Ontario) District Horse Breeders. I am President of the only
district organization in Ontario that is recognized by the national organization
that Mr. Paquet represents. I will provide an overview of the background of the
Canadian horse and suggest a very small but crucial amendment to the bill.
The breed of horse known as the Canadian horse is an integral part of Canada's
history and heritage. The breed is descended from less than 50 horses sent to
the colonists of New France in the mid-1600s by the King of France, Louis XIV.
These animals were distributed to noblemen and certain farmers in the colony who
had shown the greatest initiative in clearing and cultivating their land. From
this original stock descended all subsequent Canadian horses without influence
from any other breeds for 150 years. Due to natural selection, only the
strongest managed to survive the rigours of winter and the many privations
experienced in a developing colony to evolve into a breed of horse uniquely
acclimatized to Canada.
The Canadian horse was indispensable to the settlers of New France, helping to
transport settlers and to clear the land. These horses were the foundation of
the economic well-being of New France and later played a similar role in
Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 stimulated a great demand for the
sturdy Canadian horse that was exceptionally well adapted to the rigours of war.
Within a few years, the breeding stock was depleted from a high of 150,000 to
near extinction. On the 20th day of November, 1905, Mr. Sydney Fisher, the
Minister of Agriculture, approved the incorporation of the French Canadian Horse
Breeders' Association of Canada. The French version was called "La
Société des éleveurs de chevaux canadiens."
Attached to the documents that we have provided is a copy of the Act respecting
the Incorporation of Livestock Records Association. This act came into force in
1900 and the incorporation took place in 1905.
The original English version of the application for the incorporation reads as
The objects for which it is formed are to keep a record of the pedigrees of pure
bred French Canadian Horses, and to collect, publish and preserve reliable and
valuable data concerning the breed.
The original French version reads as follows:
Les buts de la Société est de définir un lit de généalogie pour le cheval
canadien pur-sang et de recueillir, conserver et publier des données exactes et
dignes de foi sur sa trace chevaline.
I have spent many hours examining all the minutes of the annual meetings since
the inception of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association. I went to the office
of Agriculture Canada and went through all the documentation. Throughout these
official documents the breed was always called "le cheval canadien" in
French and from 1905 to 1935 it was called the "French Canadian horse"
in English. In 1935, Dr. Gardner shortened the name to the "Canadian
horse" only, and that has been used officially ever since.
From reading Bill S-22, an act to provide for the recognition of the Canadien
Horse as the national horse of Canada and, in French - Le projet de loi S-22, la
Loi portant reconnaissance du cheval de la race canadienne comme le cheval
national du Canada - it has become apparent that the proposed bill does not
address the wording used in historical documents relating to this topic. On
examining the entire document, it is obvious that the proposed bill does not
meet the guidelines set out in the official languages law. Furthermore, it does
not keep the spirit and intention of the historical documents in mind.
I strongly suggest that the bill refer to the breed of horse as "the
Canadian horse" when addressing English readers and "le cheval
canadien" when addressing French readers.
The intention of the bill is to give official recognition to this breed. We
would be doing a vast injustice to our forefathers if we did not refer to this
breed by the name that has always been used. I recommend a name change in the
bill.The words "la race cheval canadienne" are never mentioned in
those two official documents of Canada. The French and English minutes of the
annual meetings of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association have never referred
to anything but "le cheval canadien" and, from 1905 to 1935, "the
French Canadian horse" and, from 1935 until now, "the Canadian
Gerry can comment on the feedback he got from western Canadians.
Mr. Gerry Lalonde, Director, Canadian Livestock Record Corporation: Mr.
Chairman, I recently returned from a tour of western Canada where I met with
quite a few breeders.
They had a district meeting, which I was invited to attend on Thanksgiving. They
are very proud and pleased that such a bill is coming forward, except, as my
brother mentioned, with regard to the naming of the horse. They are very upset
about that. Later this week you will have representation from British Columbia.
They are very upset at the name change.
As I mentioned earlier, right through the Western provinces, le cheval canadien
and the Canadian horse should be in this new bill. I received that very strong
message. I had an opportunity to discuss all kinds of other issues, but that
issue always came up since it was within a week of our being allowed to come
before this committee.
The Chairman: For clarification, are you saying that if it is written in
the French language to say the French Canadian horse...
Mr. Gerry Lalonde: They are saying, Mr. Chairman, to leave it as is.
Leave what it is now, as recognized in all the bills, but change your bill.
Leave it the way it is written in the statute. Your bill, Bill S-22, should read
as the Canadian horse, for the English reader, and le cheval canadien for the
The Chairman: That is what I was asking. I did not make that clear.
Mr. Gerry Lalonde: This is the clear voice I have received across this
Senator Wiebe: To follow up on that, is there any Canadian Horse
Breeders' Association in Canada that uses a spelling other than Canadian,
Mr. Gerry Lalonde: If there is, they are not recognized by the national
association. We have a Constitution. There are a few groups in this country that
have taken off on their own and that is fine, but they are not recognized. We
represent the breed that is recognized and sanctioned by the federal government.
Senator Wiebe: How is it spelled on the registration papers that are
Mr. Gerry Lalonde: They are right here. It is exactly the way we are
Mr. Regent Lalonde: "Canadian" in English.
Senator Wiebe: Is it spelled "d-i-a-n"?
Mr. Regent Lalonde: Yes. They have the bilingual format, French on the
left side and English on the right side. All the official documents are so
Senator Wiebe: Speaking for myself, I have no problem with that, but we
will be hearing a presentation by the senator who moved the particular bill. We
will have to wait and find out his reasoning behind the spelling of that
Mr. Regent Lalonde: In answer to your question, I did send Mr. Daniel
Charbonneau a letter of concern. He addressed this very issue with Senator
Murray, I believe, who agreed that the name should be changed. However, this is
Senator Wiebe: So far, you are the third presenter today and no one has
opposed the change.
Mr. Regent Lalonde: That is possibly because of our background. We are
French and English. When people in the West have correspondence or questions,
they usually call Gerry or myself, because of the language involved. The
westerners cannot always get definite answers from the association in Quebec. We
are the people who receive the complaints.
Senator Wiebe: Are all of the Canadian horse breeders throughout Canada,
who have horses that carry that registration certificate, members of the
Canadian Horse Breeders' Association? Is that the same as your association?
Mr. Regent Lalonde: The national one, yes. They have to be members to
Senator Fairbairn: My only question would be, is this a view that would
be as well supported by the members of your association, the larger association
in Quebec? Would they have any problem with this, if this is the correct
Mr. Regent Lalonde: I do not know which way the other associations are. I
know the B.C. association is in favour of what we are suggesting. Some
individuals would love to see "Canadien" used in both versions, but I
think the intention of the bill is to reflect the historical background of la
cheval canadien. Therefore, I cannot see why the bill was drafted - and I am not
questioning that - when la race chevaline canadienne was never mentioned.
Senator Fairbairn: This gentleman might be able to say what the view is
from the national association.
Mr. Paquet: Mr. Chairman, as I indicated earlier, there is a slight
problem. We have received calls from members from a number of provinces
informing us that they do not quite agree with Bill S-22. If you look at the
documents, you will note a reference to breed standards. If you check in both
the French and English versions, you will note that the expression used by the
association to please everyone is "Canadian horse" in English, and
"cheval canadien", in French. These terms were accepted in 1915 when
the constitution of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association was reviewed. These
were the two agreed-upon expressions. Currently, we are facing a dilemma in that
the Quebec group is not recognized by the national association. I wanted to
point this out because the Quebec group will likely be appearing before the
committee next week, They do not meet the standards to be recognized in Quebec.
For example, if there are 434 members in Quebec, at least 218, or 50 per cent,
must meet the association's standards in order to speak on behalf of Quebec.
I know that several organizations have asked to testify. The Canadian
Association has no objections. The fact remains that the owner of a Canadian
horse must be in possession of a registration certificate and must be able to
prove that the horse is indeed a Canadian horse.
According to the association's standards, the ideal Canadian horse should stand
between 15 and 16 hands. This has been generally suggested. However, we cannot
prevent someone from buying a Canadian horse, regardless of size. The decision
to acquire the horse rests with the buyer.
Getting back to the Quebec association that will be testifying next week, I
believe it represents a club, and not the Quebec District. This group is free to
come and express its views, but it cannot speak for the Canadian Horse Breeders'
Senator Fairbairn: Does your national association have strong membership
in the Province of Quebec?
Mr. Paquet: Currently we have 434 members in Quebec. This figure accounts
for nearly half of all members nationwide.
Mr. Gerry Lalonde: In support of what Mr. Paquet has said, a group from
Ontario will make a presentation to you, but it is only a club with Canadian
horses. It is not sanctioned by the national association and it is not part of
the Upper Canada (Ontario) District. It is trying to promote Canadian horses in
the way it deems fit.
Senator Wiebe: Do you know how large its membership is Canada-wide?
Mr. Gerry Lalonde: It is a small group in Ontario.
Mr. Paquet may be in a better position to tell you the numbers in Quebec.
Mr. Paquet: At present, they have exactly 50 members who meet the
association's standards. One contentious issue is the size of the horses.
Another Quebec group, the Regroupement des éleveurs et des propriétaires de
chevaux canadiens du Québec, has asked to appear before the committee. They
will likely be submitting a brief. They boast 286 members. The basic requirement
is 217 plus one. Therefore, we have no choice but to recognize this organization
in principle because it represents the majority of members in Quebec.
Senator Wiebe: In order to register horses as purebred, do members have
to register through your organization?
Mr. Paquet: Yes, they must purchase a membership. If you own a Canadian
horse, automatically you must be a member of the national association. To our
minds, the important thing is for the district to represent and speak for the
majority of members. That is the democratic way. For example, a small group
representing only 10 per cent of the 434 breeders, or 43 members, cannot pretend
to speak for the Quebec district. To avoid any confusion, we insist that each
organization represent 50 per cent plus one of the members within its own
district, in keeping with the rules of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association.
Senator Wiebe: Can we safely assume that 50 per cent plus one of all
Canadian horse breeders in each province belong to your association?
Mr. Paquet: All members belong to the national association. However, one
small group does not share our views about the Canadian horse. Some prefer to
see a smaller, or a larger horse. The Association recognizes both large and
small horses. Regardless of its height or size, the Canadian horse is one
clearly recognized by the National Registration Board as the Canadian horse. It
is impossible to take a horse that stands 15.22 hands and breed it with a
stallion that stands 15 hands and as a result, get a horse that stands 16 hands.
Oats and other kinds of feed have altered many of the horse's traits. Today, the
Canadian horse is viewed in a much better light than it was a number of years
ago and opportunities for refining the breed's traits have increased.
I want to assure all members of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association that
horses standing 14 hands will command the same respect as horses standing from
16 hands. That is the current position of the national association.
Senator Wiebe: Has your association approached the RCMP to indicate that
it should use the Canadian horse in the musical ride?
Mr. Regent Lalonde: We have.
Senator Wiebe: I hope you continue to lobby.
Mr. Paquet: On that same subject, Canada presented Queen Elizabeth with a
horse. We would have liked it to be a gift of a Canadian horse. We questioned
the RCMP about this, but did not receive an answer.
The Chairman: Thank you for appearing here this evening. This has been
very interesting. We will be hearing from other witnesses and I believe this
will be easier than I thought.
Mr. Regent Lalonde: If any senators are interested in visiting our farm, we are
20 minutes east of here on Highway 17. It would be a great pleasure to show you
The committee adjourned.