Legal Experiences with our Land Purchase

Apr 02, 2020
In 1982 as landed immigrants we arrived in Canada. We had previously made an offer on a half section of land.  A section is one square mile which is 640 acres, so we were purchasing 320 acres. I had never purchased a house or land in either the UK or Canada, so the whole process was new to us.

We made an offer on a half section of land in the Assiniboine Valley, 5 miles NE of Virden. The contract was drawn up, we were advised we could add conditions, so we added the following conditions to the purchase contract, and this was all drawn up by a lawyer.

1 Subject to obtaining landed immigrant status
2 Subject to obtaining a MACC or FCC farm mortgage
3 subject to finding suitable and adequate water for hog production

I think the completion date for exchange of contracts was May. The late spring meant we could not start test drilling for water before the contract completion date was upon us. I called the lawyer and asked for a two week extension date to our contract to allow us to do some test drilling for water. I should add that the half section of land had no house or buildings on it, we were starting from scratch.

Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later when I was working for a friend making bee hives I received a message from my wife, " Our farm purchase was off ". I called Pat back, "What the hell was happening?" Pat didn't have any details, just a call from the lawyer saying the deal was off. "To hell it is, you call the lawyer and tell him I am on my way to Brandon and that he had better be waiting in his office for me when I get there". Pat replied, "But look at the time and there is a 'weather advisory' out". "What the hell is that?" (We didn't have them in the UK and I had no idea what Pat was talking about). Pat replied that driving was not advisable and I needed an hour to reach Brandon and it was a quarter past four and the lawyer left at five. "Just tell him I am on my way, and that he had better be in his office when I get there."

Our only vehicle was a long box Ford F150 two wheel drive truck with a big 400 cu in engine. I loved that truck, I still have her but sadly her age and hard life is showing. Damn it, these Canadians are not kidding when they say driving is "not advisable". Several times I found myself wishing for my old 4x4 Land Rover, but that mighty V8 Ford pulled me out of the ditch on several occasions; I had fitted two good rear tires to her. My faithful dog looked over the seat back (she was a super cab), with mild amusement in her eyes while I struggled to stay on the road and keep the speed over 110. Damn this snow! I made it just after five, the office staff were all gone but the Lawyer let me in and directed me to his office.

What is going on I asked? The lawyer replied "I asked for a two week extension and hearing nothing back, I assumed it had been granted"."You assumed, I didn't hire your services to assume anything", I replied. I was shocked and I simply blew up. I told him that our finances were extremely limited and his incompetence was putting the future of my family in jeopardy. I gave him both barrels and then some! He sat there, meekly taking it all. I remember telling him "I came here expecting to get the other guys guts for garters and instead find that you, the professional lawyer, who we hired to avoid such situations, has dropped us right in it." It is not often I get mad but I was mad then. The Lawyer made some feeble remark about lots of other property on the market, that did nothing to improve my feelings. We called the real estate agent and I agreed to visit them. This husband and wife team become very good friends of ours.

I was greeted with George saying "Let me pour you a scotch". I replied just make it a strong cup of tea, I have to keep a very clear head. I explained the situation and they agreed to visit with the owner the next day, which was a Saturday. To cut a long story short, after George poured a bottle of Rye down the owners throat - he agreed to accept our offer, but we would have to drop clause 3 "subject to finding suitable and adequate water for hog production". If I would agree to this we would all meet at the Royal Bank in Virden 9 am Monday morning and complete the land purchase. The lawyer would have to be there and the contracts would be exchanged and signed.

I decided to arrive at the Bank in time for a pre-action recce and parked discreetly out of the way. The lawyer arrived next, he tried the Bank door, it was still locked. I watched him closely, he seemed agitated, nervous, this was confirmed when he tried to light the filter end of a cigarette. I smiled to myself, a plan was forming in my mind.

We all entered the Bank and the contracts were signed. I asked Dave the Bank manager if we could have a few minutes in his office, so he left us. I turned to the Lawyer and explained the importance of good quality water and plenty of it for hog production. I went on, "I have budgeted X amount of dollars to drill a well, when my budgeted figure is exhausted you will pick up the balance and I don't care if we have to trench it 10 miles". He agreed in front of witnesses.

Life went on and in due course we drilled a well on the second site just 100 meters from the house, we hit great water and lots of it. All was good. Our house was constructed, the hog barn built. I personally welded all the steel penning and Pat painted it all by hand when she wasn't running errands, feeding me and looking after two small kids.

In the middle of summer we received a bill from the lawyer for the land Purchase, "Bloody nerve" I thought and told Pat to ignore it. A few months later we got a reminder, I asked Pat to call the Lawyer and tell him I would call in and discuss it next time I was in Brandon. Pat replied "But you never have time to go to Brandon!" I just smiled.

Sometime later in the fall I had to go to Brandon so Pat set up an appointment with the lawyer, I had a plan formed. I was shown into his office, the door was closed, we exchanged some pleasantries on the weather and the price of hogs then I said "this Bill you have for me"... "Oh yes your bill" he opened the center desk drawer, pulled it out and offered it to me.

I refused to accept it, I could feel my blood starting to surge. "We hired you for your professional expertise and experience so that we had no problems with our land purchase, you failed to provide that service". He replied "Yes, I can understand how you may feel that way". I was starting to lose it, I was fighting to keep my cool and dignity. I thought to myself, then why send me the bloody bill.

I leaned forward and looked him in the eyes, "I do not intend to pay you one cent of this bill". I paused allowing this to sink in, then I carried on. "I will make a deal with you, you tear up this Bill and I will walk out of here and never mention your name in respect to our land purchase".

The lawyer tore up the bill into little pieces and dropped them into the bin beside his desk. I wished him good day and walked out of his office.

I climbed into the truck where Pat was waiting for me. "How did that go?" Pat asked. "Not bad" I replied.

Keep your powder dry,
Mr. Wolverine

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