The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume I


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of England, like that already in existence round the island of Newfoundland itself. For the maintenance of this nursery for seamen, it had been found essential to prohibit all settlement and colonization. The two systems, that of the established sedentary fishery and that of the nursery for seamen, were diametrically opposed, and they naturally came into conflict in the area between the River St. John and Blanc Sablon, since there had been some French posts further east than St. John. And the Quebec Act of 1774, referred to in paragraph 13 hereof, was passed with the object of putting an end to this conflict.

9. In the years between 1763 and 1774 the Government of Newfoundland showed considerable activity in its new dependency. In particular, Hugh Palliser, who became Governor some six months after the Royal Proclamation, not only issued Regulations for the Fishery on the coast of Labrador (on the 8th April and 28th August, 1765), but clearly regarded himself, and in the light of his instructions rightly regarded himself, as charged with duties towards the native inhabitants, viz.:

   (i) to ensure that they were fairly and properly treated;

   (ii) to foster trade with them;

   (iii) to protect and encourage the missionaries who went among them ; and

   (iv) to prevent the subjects of foreign states from trading with them.

(See his letter to the Lords of Trade, 1st September, 1764, and his orders of the 8th April and 10th August, 1765, and the Representation to His Majesty upon the complaints of the Court of France dated the 16th April, 1765.) Governor Palliser himself interviewed at Pitts Harbour four hundred or five hundred of the savages "who come yearly from the North to the Straits of Belle Isle" (cf. his reports of the 11th September and 30th October, 1765). The missionaries, whom Governor Palliser encouraged to go among the Esquimaux inhabitants, were Moravian Brethren of the Society of the Unitas Fratrum, and by an Order-in-Council dated the 3rd May, 1769, 100,000 acres at Esquimaux

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Bay were granted to them (no doubt in response to their Petition of 23rd February, 1765). It appears from a report of two of the brethren to Lord Sydney, dated the 26th May, 1784, that the Society established settlements in 1770 at Nain, in 1776 at Okkak, and in 1782 at Hopedale. The Governors of Newfoundland exercised jurisdiction by means of the missionaries in these jurisdiction by means of the missionaries in these settlements. See the Report by James Hutton, Secretary of the Unitas Fratrum, dated 6th December, 1773, from which it appears that as far north as 59 deg. 30 min. of North latitude, the governor's orders in reference to the punishment of crime were made known to the Esquimaux; and cf. Governor Palliser's Report of the 20th October, 1768, and Governor Shuldham's Proclamation of the 4th May, 1772.

10. It is clear from the documents dated 5th December, 1765, containing the account of the voyage of the four missionaries from May to November, 1765, that Governor Palliser did not restrict his interest to those native inhabitants who lived along the margin of the sea; his inquiries were directed to the possibility of trade and intercourse with the inhabitants of the interior. The first of these inquiries is shown in the Governor's Report in answer to the questions of the Board of Trade, on the 19th March, 1766; in his Report Governor Palliser suggested the establishment of a fur trade with the mountaineers, whom he described earlier in the Report as living "inland far from the coast." Such a fur trade was, in fact, established (cf. Governor Shuldham's remarks in obedience to his instructions for the years 1772-3, Article 25). It required, as George Cartwright pointed out in his Memorial of the 6th January, 1773, "a thorough knowledge of the interior part of the country, which, on account of the deep snows and the rigour of the furring season, is only to be acquired by slow degrees," In addition to Cartwright, other fishermen frequented Newfoundland established themselves early in the fur trade on the Labrador. Jeremiah Coghlan (who extended his operations from Fogo to Cape Charles and afterwards to Alexis River) in his letter to Governor Montague of Newfoundland of the 30th August, 1777, writes

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of employing on the Labrador one hundred men in the seal and cod fisheries, and forty men in the salmon and furring business. And it appears from Cartwright's Memorial already referred to that Mr. Pinson, the pioneer of the import trading house of Noble & Pinson, was beginning to establish himself thus early on the Labrador.

11. In order further to consolidate the position of the British Crown in the area under his government, Governor Palliser suggested on the 13th May, 1766, the erection of blockhouses to encourage the adventurers and to establish the possessory right to the country at a place in the centre of the whole coast. This course was sanctioned in a letter from the Duke of Richmond to the Lords of Admiralty, dated the 28th May, 1766, and a blockhouse was in fact built at York Fort in Chateau Bay. This blockhouse was garrisoned from Newfoundland until the garrison was finally withdrawn in November, 1775.

12. The Governor of Newfoundland also took steps from the first for the administration of justice on the coast of Labrador, as witness the surrogate commission given by Governor Graves to Captain Saxon of H.M.S. "Pearl" for the area from the entrance of Hudson's Straits to the river St. John on the 20th June, 1763, and the similar commission, dated 13th April, 1765, and given by Governor Palliser to the Captain of the sloop "Zephyr," from the River St. John to Cape Charles, and to Sir Thomas Adams of H.M.S. "Niger," from the entrance of Davis Straits to York Harbour inclusive. It was natural that these early Governors, in establishing in their new dependency a second nursery for seamen similar to that already formed in the island of Newfoundland itself, should set up the same system of administering justice by means of naval surrogates as was in force in the island. In the island of Newfoundland, as in Labrador, large tracts of the interior country are to this day practically unknown and wholly uninhabited, and in both in the early stages the surrogate system was sufficient, since almost all those for whom justice has to be administered were to be found by the sea shore.

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SECTION III—1774-1809.

13. The Royal Proclamation had not long been issued when it became apparent that some of the grants made by the French before the Treaty of Paris for the seal and sea-cow fishery extended further east than the River St. John; and those who had settled on the coast east of that river were early discontented with the energetic way in which Governor Palliser enforced the regulations for a non-sedentary cod fishery. Cf. Governor Palliser's Report of the 30th October, 1765, and the Representation of the Lords of Trade of the 27th March, 1766. On the 14th August, 1767, Governor Palliser refused the request of Governor Carleton of Quebec that these settlers should be protected in possession of their settlements. On the 19th December, 1772, the Lords of Trade took the matter again into their consideration, and on the 22nd April, 1773, there is a Minute of the Privy Council showing that the question was discussed of annexing to Quebec the area between the River St. John and Bay Phillippeaux (which is the same bay as Brador Bay).

  Eventually in 1774 an attempt was made to solve the difficulty by an Imperial Statute annexing to Quebec all the territory added to the Government of Newfoundland by the Proclamation. In the Preamble of the Act of the Parliament of Great Britain giving effect to this decision (the Quebec Act 1774, 14 Geo. III. c. 83), it was recited that certain parts of the territory of Canada where sedentary fisheries had been established and carried on by the subjects of France, inhabitants of the said Province of Canada, under grants and concessions from the Government thereof, had been by the Royal Proclamation of the 7th October, 1763, annexed to the Government of Newfoundland and thereby subjected to regulations inconsistent with the nature of such fisheries. The Act then went on to enact that all such territories, islands, and countries which had since the 10th February, 1763 (the date of the Treaty of Paris), been made part of the Government of Newfoundland should be annexed to and made part and parcel of the Province of Quebec. Consequently the area now in question became part of that Province, and Governor Carleton received

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instructions as to policy in regard to it. But as appears from Articles 30, 34, 35 and 36 of the Instructions to Governor Carleton, after the passing of the Act referred to, these sedentary established settlements east of the River St. John covered but a small district of the coast, and the policy of the Home Government was to continue on the remainder of the coast the non-sedentary cod-fishery for the benefit of the west of England seamen and the British Navy. It is not surprising that the Quebec Government did nothing to support this latter policy, with which they were unfamiliar and had no sympathy, in an area too far distant from their seat of Government for effective control to be maintained without considerable effort and expenditure. It is clear that the Quebec Act was too heroic a remedy for the evil which it was designed to cure.

14. By the Quebec Act, the boundaries of the Province of Quebec as now extended, were defined as reaching "Northward to the Southern Boundary of the territory granted to the Merchant Adventurers of England trading to Hudson's Bay," and it was provided, as already stated, that "all such territories islands and countries which have since the 10th February 1763 been made part of the Government of Newfoundland" were. . . "during His Majesty's pleasure annexed to and made part and parcel of the Province of Quebec, as created and established by the Royal Proclamation of the 7th October, 1763." The result of this Act, according to the submission of the Colony of Newfoundland, was that the areas coloured green, red, blue, and. yellow on the map, marked "A," which will be found in the pocket of this Case, were all under the government of the Province of Quebec.

15. By virtue of the Quebec Act the Government of Newfoundland was deprived from 1774 until 1809 of jurisdiction in Labrador, but the Act left Quebec with an area which she could not administer, and this mistake, as will subsequently appear, was remedied later. Throughout the period from 1774 to 1809 the Governors of Newfoundland continued, in their capacity as admirals commanding in chief the ships on the station, to undertake without refer-



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