The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume I


Page 1
sponsored by
the Labrador Institute,
Happy Valley - Goose Bay, NL

Nfld. Atlas.

Page 2
sponsored by
Dr. Evan Simpson,
St. John's, NL

Page 3
sponsored by
Dr. David Graham,
St. John's, NL

Page 5
sponsored by
Gerald Hallowell,
Lunenburg, NS

In the Privy Council

      the   DOMINION   of   CANADA   and   the
      COLONY  of   NEWFOUNDLAND  in  the





  1. By an agreement in writing, dated the 11th day of November, 1920, and made between the Government of the Dominion of Canada and the Government of the Colony of Newfoundland, the said respective Governments agreed to submit for reference by His Majesty to the Judicial Committee of His Majesty's Privy Council for their decision the following question, viz.:

  What is the location and definition of the Boundary as between Canada and Newfoundland in the Labrador Peninsula, under the Statutes, Orders in Council and Proclamations?

And the two said Governments have further agreed to present a Petition to His Majesty praying him to refer the said matter to the said Judicial Committee to hear and consider the same and to advise His Majesty thereon.

    2. The Colony of Newfoundland submits that the correct answer to the question referred to in paragraph 1 hereof is that the boundary should be a

p. 2

line drawn due north from Anse Sablon as far as the fifty-second degree of North latitude, and should be traced from thence northwards to Cape Chidley along the crest of the watershed of the rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. This line of boundary is shown coloured blue on the map, marked "A," which will be found in the pocket of, and forms part of, this Case. The Colony of Newfoundland submits that this contention is justified:

  (i) by the terms of the documents effecting or dealing with the partition of territory in the Labrador Peninsula between Newfoundland and Quebec or Lower Canada;

  (ii) by the evidence afforded by the maps of the Labrador Peninsula; and

  (iii) by the evidence to be adduced of acts of administration and occupation.

   3. For purposes of convenience the main historical events and documents to which reference is made in this Case are here set out in tabular form:

1632  ..  Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye.     I. p. 326 
1670  ..  Charter of Hudson's Bay Company.     II. p. 367 
1697  ..  Treaty of Ryswick.     I. p. 328 
1713  ..  Treaty of Utrecht.     I. p. 329 
1763  .. 

Treaty of Paris: Canada ceded by France to Great Britain.

    I. p. 330 
1763  .. 

Proclamation under Treaty of Paris: establishing Quebec and defining its boundaries: and giving the Governor of Newfoundland jurisdiction over part of the Coast of Labrador.

    I. p. 153 
1774  .. 

Imperial Statute. Quebec Act, 14 Geo. III., c. 83: annexing to the Province of Quebec what by the Proclamation had been made part of the Government of Newfoundland.

    I. p. 158 
1791  .. 

Order in Council ordering the division of the Province of Quebec into the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada.

    I. p. 164 

p. 3

1809  .. 

Imperial Statute. 49. Geo. III., c. 27: re-annexing to Newfoundland part of the Coast of Labrador.

    I. p. 190 
1825  .. 

Imperial Statute. 6 Geo. IV., c. 59; re-annexing to Lower Canada part of the Coast of Labrador.

    I. p. 205 
1832  .. 

Commission to Governor Cochrane under the Great Seal: establishing representative Government in Newfoundland.

    IV. p. 1954 
1840  .. 

Imperial Statute. 3 & 4 Vict. c. 35: the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada united to form the Province of Canada.

    I. p. 214 
1854  .. 

Newfoundland becomes a responsible self-governing Colony.

    IV. p. 1985 
1857  .. 

A select Committee of the House of Commons inquire into Hudson's Bay Co.'s territories.

    V. p. 2279 
1867  .. 

British North America Act, 30 & 31 Vict. c. 3: the Province of Canada divided: what had been Lower Canada becomes the Province of Quebec.

    I. p. 217 
1871  .. 

British North America Act, 34 & 35 Vict. c. 28.

    p. 242 
1880  .. 

Order in Council: annexing to the Dominion of Canada all British territories and possessions in North America with the exception of the colony of Newfoundland and its dependencies.

    p. 244 

   4. The real starting point in considering the matters in dispute in this Arbitration is the Treaty of Paris, 1763. But in order to appreciate the position at that date, it is necessary to refer shortly to a few landmarks in the history of North America before 1763.

A.—The Island of Newfoundland, 1497-1698.

   In 1497 John, or possibly Sebastian, Cabot sailed to Newfoundland from the west coast of England.

p. 4

His enterprise was inspired by the determination to develop the British Navy which marked the reign of Henry VII., and was, as will be seen, the keynote of British policy in relation to Newfoundland until the nineteenth century. During the years between 1497 and 1583, Portuguese and Basque fishermen, and others from Normandy and Brittany, resorted to the Newfoundland coast in considerably greater numbers than the English. In 1583 Sir Humphrey Gilbert obtained a commission from Queen Elizabeth as Governor of the Island and a large grant of land there. In Hakluyt's words, "he was the first of our nation that carried people to erect an habitation and government in these northerly countries of America." But this attempt at colonization failed, and he himself perished on the return journey.

  In 1610 a further attempt at colonization was made by Guy's Association, which obtained a Royal Charter from James I. granting them the territory between Cape St. Mary's and Cape Bonavista. Under the protection of this Charter John Guy of Bristol settled in Conception Bay, issuing decrees as Governor and starting the long conflict with the transitory fishermen and seamen which supplies the key to the whole history of the island. This conflict, which continued for two centuries, was the result of divergent interests and opposing policies. On the one hand were those who wished to found a settlement in Newfoundland and make it a colony with ordered and established Government, and on the other those who preferred that it should be treated simply as a fishery and a training round for seamen from the west coast towns and villages of England. The latter party represented the consistent policy of the British Government for the next two hundred years, and as a result rules and regulations were drawn up in the Star Chamber in 1633, and confirmed with some variations (unnecessary to be specified for this purpose) by Act of Parliament in 1698 (10 and 11 Will. III. c. 25), which definitely decided the issue against colonization. By this Act, the system of fishing admirals was introduced. The first captain to arrive from England at any harbour for the spring was "ipso facto" admiral for the season, the second vice-admiral, and the third rear-admiral. The admirals performed

p. 5

not only executive but judicial functions, a right of appeal being reserved to the officer commanding the convoy of the King's ships. The Act further provided for the inclusion in the crews of the fishing vessels form England of a specified proportion of "green men," i.e., men untrained in and new to the work.

B.—Canada and New France, 1534-1670.

  Meantime, in 1534, Cartier had made his first voyage to the Bay des Chaleurs and Gaspé. In the next year is the first mention of "Canada," the river now known as the St. Lawrence being referred to as the Grand River Hochelaga, "the waterway of Canada." The word Canada was at that time used to describe the central portion of the territory between Montreal and Anticosti, though from the arrival of Champlain in 1603, Canada and New France seem often to be used interchangeably to connote the French possessions around the St. Lawrence. Champlain can fairly be called the founder of New France. In 1608 he formed a settlement at Quebec, and soon afterwards a further settlement at Three Rivers. In 1641, shortly after his death, a settlement was formed at Montreal. These three settlements (very sparsely populated, for there were only two hundred persons in Quebec in 1641) formed the districts upon which the French organisation was based, and the arrangements made by General Monckton and Lord Amherst after the fall of Quebec in 1759 show that the same division was maintained by the British until Quebec was made into a Province by the Royal Proclamation of 1763. In 1628 an expedition sent from England under Sir David Kirke appeared in the St. Lawrence to challenge the French possession of their settlements, and in 1629 an expedition sent from Quebec was surrendered by Champlain to Kirke. But by Article III of the Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye (concluded after the Duke of Buckingham's failure at La Rochelle), Charles I. rendered and restored to Louis XIII. all the places possessed in New France, Acadia (i.e. Nova Scotia), and Canada by the subjects of Great Britain, Port Royal, Port Quebec, and Cape Briton being particularly mentioned.



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