A letter from Sherman Swift to the Honorable Walter Scott, Premier, Regina, Saskatchewan.
I have your favor of the 2nd of this month, regarding the grant of one hundred dollars made last year, and again this year, to the Dominion Tactile Press of this city.
You will pardon me, I hope, when I say that this intelligence has keenly disappointed everyone sincerely endeavoring to be of assistance to the blind of your province. Two years ago I earnestly urged you to secure a small grant from your Government in aid of the Canadian Free Library for the Blind. At that time you informed me that, in your opinion, such aid was the business of the Federal Government and not that of the individual provinces.
It is therefore with keen regret that I learn of Saskatchewan’s action in thus supporting a concern which, in every essential point, is nothing but a swindle which uses the blind and their necessities as an easy means of fleecing the people of this country.
The truth of this statement would have been at once made clear to you had you taken the precaution to write the Toronto Social Service Commission for information as to the status of the Dominion Tactile Press. The mere fact that the promoters of this contemptible enterprise have been clever enough to put themselves within the law by actually printing a bundle of trash in raised print does not make the concern any more honest or sincere.
If you wish to get an accurate idea of the amount of real good done by the Dominion Tactile Press, let me ask you to apply to Mr. Honeyman of Regina for information as to the number of times the magazines and books printed by that enterprise have been on loan. And I may say here that, with one possible exception, every book printed by the Dominion Tactile Press was already on the shelves of this library, infinitely better printed and bound, and free to the blind readers of your province. The grant of your Government has, therefore, been employed (if employed at all) in wicked and useless re-duplication – wicked because it uses up money which might be devoted to the production new work, useless because the stuff is never read, nor could it be read, so horribly printed in it. I say without any hesitation whatever that the Dominion Tactile Press has not five bonafide readers of its trash in your province.
And I say further that the Canadian Free Library for the Blind is the only agency at present helping, in any useful way, any of the blind of Saskatchewan.
I trust, Sir, that you will, in the interest of the blind of your province, see to it that the Dominion Tactile Press receives no more aid from your Government. The Dominion Tactile Press has not a single blind person connected with it in any way, all the profits gong to support one man and his family, in whose kitchen (or back-yard) the so-called literature is printed. As a blind man who is earnestly striving to be of real service to his fellows, I protest against the countenancing of the Dominion Tactile Press by the giving of government grants, for this aid is used as a bait to catch the unwary in private life.
The enclosed copy of the regulations of the Ontario Education Department governing this library will give you some idea of our status in this province. We have asked, and we ask again, for the support of your Government; but, Sir, we should consider ourselves forever dishonored if we were forced to stoop to the fraudulent methods of the Dominion Tactile Press to secure that support.
Regretting that this distressing subject should be forced upon us both for discussion, but sincerely hoping that good to the blind may result therefrom, I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant, Sherman Swift, Secretary General, Canadian Free Library for the Blind.