The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume I


Page 27
sponsored by
Dr. David Graham,
St. John's, NL

Page 28
sponsored by
Gerald Hallowell
Lunenburg, NS

Page 29
sponsored by
Gerald & Patricia O'Brien,
St. John's, NL

Nlfd. Atlas.

Page 30
sponsored by
Tanya Saunders,
Conception Bay South, NL

p. 26

29. No protest or objection was ever made by the Governments of the Province of Lower Canada, Canada, or Quebec, or by the Government of the Dominion of Canada, to the exercise of jurisdiction by the Government of the Colony of Newfoundland on the Labrador in and by the acts referred to in paragraphs 23 to 28 (inclusive) hereof.

30. In 1880, by an Imperial Order in Council dated 31st July, 1880, all British territories and provinces in North America not already within the Dominion of Canada, and all Islands adjacent to any of such territories or possessions, with the exception of Newfoundland and its dependencies, became annexed to the Dominion of Canada. This Order in Council expressly protects the Colony of Newfoundland from the loss of any part of its jurisdiction, and it is submitted that the only effect of the said Order in Council upon the matters now in dispute is to limit the territories in Labrador claimed by the Colony of Newfoundland to territories acquired by the said Colony before the 31st July, 1880.

31. It is submitted that the effect of the Proclamation and Statutes hereinbefore referred to is to give the Colony of Newfoundland jurisdiction over all the Coast of Labrador, from the River St. John to Hudson's Straits and the adjacent islands, except—

   (a) The Magdalen Islands, the only territory taken away by the Quebec Act 1774, and not restored by the Act of 1809, and

   (b) The area west of the due North and South line from Anse Sablon to the 52nd degree of North Latitude, and the Island of Anticosti, which were taken away by the Act of 1825.

32. By a Canadian Statute passed in 1898 (61 Viet. c. 3) the Canadian Parliament purported to lay down certain boundaries as being the boundaries of the Province of Quebec. In 1912, by a Canadian Statute (2 Geo. V. c. 45), the Canadian Parliament purported to extend the boundaries of the Province of Quebec. It is submitted that in so far as the

p. 27

boundaries described in the said Canadian statutes encroach upon territories subject, at the dates of the passing of the said statutes, to the jurisdiction of the Colony of Newfoundland the said statutes are ultra vires and of no effect. The Dominion of Canada had no power to enlarge the jurisdiction and territories of one of its provinces to the detriment of a self-governing colony. In support of this submission the Colony of Newfoundland will rely (inter alia) upon the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 and the Colonial Boundaries Act 1895. It is also to be observed that the Canadian Statute of 1912 was passed some nine years after the present boundary dispute definitely began. For these reasons it is submitted that the said Canadian Statutes are to be wholly disregarded in determining the matters now in question. As appears from paragraph 30 the material date for the purposes of the present case is 31st July, 1880.

33. Wherever the interior boundary may be found to be, it is submitted that the territory under the jurisdiction of the Newfoundland Government extends inland from the indented coast-line as a base, that is to say from the line where the salt water touches the land. The tracing of the coastline necessarily involves in this instance, as it involved in the case of the Alaska Boundary Dispute, following the windings of the coast round the heads of inlets or arms of the sea such as the Hamilton Inlet, whether or not the waters contained therein are territorial waters. A consideration of the reason for the annexation of the coast to the Government of Newfoundland supports this conclusion: for "coast put under the care and inspection of a Governor to the end that open and free fishing may be extended to and carried on" thereupon, clearly connotes the sinuosities of a coast line as the basis for the establishment of the fishery. But it is submitted that the use of the term "coast" would of itself lead to the same result, even without the assistance to be derived from the purpose of the annexation. Lord Alverstone observed in his opinion, in the Alaska Arbitration, at he knew of no recognised rule of international which would by implication give a recognized

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meaning to the word "coast" as applied to the sinuosities and waters which he was discussing, different from the coast itself.

   Mr. Taylor, in his argument for the United States in the same case, suggested that only two possible coast-lines were known to international law, namely (1) where the salt water touches the land, which is the coast-line for boundary purposes, and (2) the political coast-line—that invisible thing superimposed on the physical coast by the operation of law, which exists for the purpose of jurisdiction. It was unsuccessfully contended by the British Government in the Alaska Arbitration that "coast" means lands bordering on the ocean and cannot properly be applied to the shoreline of a narrow bay, gulf or river, and that an inlet or fiord less than six miles wide, though it is an indentation of the coast, is not a part of the coast itself. It was pointed out that where an inlet is less than six miles wide, the three marine leagues from low-water mark (over which international law gives a maritime state a certain property right in the ocean) are to be measured outside the line joining the headlands.

   It is submitted that the result of the Alaska Boundary Arbitration is to establish the United States contention that "coast" for boundary purposes means the line where in physical fact the salt water touches the land. The headland to headland line has no application to "coast" in this sense; it owes its origin to the conception of the territoriality of certain waters, for it is the natural and logical outcome of the notional three-mile limit of jurisdiction. There is no necessary distinction between the waters within the three miles limit from low-water mark and the waters of inlets where the entrance is less than six miles across and the entire land boundary forms part of the territory of the same state. The waters in each case are territorial on the same principle, namely that potestas finitur ubi finitur armorum vis, and on the same assumption that three miles is the limit quousque tormenta exploduntur. Accordingly it is submitted that in however wide a sense the waters within the maritime belt are to be regarded as part of the territory of the adjoining state, the expression "coast" still means the line where land meets salt

p. 29

water, and that in precisely the same way even if waters inter fauces terræ may be regarded as forming part of the adjoining territory, the meaning of the expression "coast" remains unaltered and the coastline is not to be determined for boundary purposes, any more than in physical fact, by notional lines drawn from headland to headland, but involves following the actual sinuosities of bays, inlets and creeks.

34. It is next submitted that it is clear that more than a mere strip of littoral was intended and understood to be annexed to and placed under the Government of Newfoundland by virtue of the Statutes Orders-in-Council and Proclamations hereinbefore referred to. In the Commissions issued to Thomas Graves dated the 25th April, 1763, to Hugh Palliser, dated the 20th March, 1764, and to their successors as Governors of Newfoundland, the following words appear: "and we do hereby require and command all officers civil and military and all other inhabitants of our said islands and the coast and territories of Labrador and the islands adjacent . . . to be obedient unto you in the execution of this our commission and the powers and authorities therein contained." In the same way in Article 12 of Governor Palliser's instructions 1764, he is directed "from time to time, as the nature of the services will allow, to visit all the coasts and harbours of the said islands and territories" under his Government. Again, in their Instructions to Governor Palliser of the 14th May, 1765, the commissioners for the office of Lord High Admiral refer to the coast of Labrador as "that country."

35. The evidence to be derived from maps affords strong confirmation of this submission. Indeed, it appears from them that the expression "the coast of Labrador" was commonly used at the material dates as equivalent to "Terra Labrador" so as to include the whole or almost the whole of the Labrador peninsula.

   But more definite indications of the considerable extent of the territory annexed to and placed under


the Government of Newfoundland under the description of "the coast of Labrador" appear from—

   (a) The Privy Council Order of the 2nd December, 1774, approving a grant to John Agnew and others of all mines, minerals, metals, and ores whatsoever within the island of Newfoundland or upon such part of the sea-coasts of Labrador as lie within sixty miles of low-water mark in the open sea between the River St. John and the southern limits of the territory granted to the Hudson's Bay Company.
   (b) The words of the Royal Proclamation of the 7th October, 1763—the source of Newfoundland's original jurisdiction on the Labrador—whereby the Government of Quebec was "bounded on the Labrador coast by the River St. John and from thence by a line drawn from the head of that river, etc." These words show that the "coast" comprised an area extending inland at least so far as the length of the River St. John, as it was then understood to run, i.e., to about the source of the modern River Romaine, or some 120 miles.
   (c) The words of the Act of 1825 (6 Geo. IV. c. 59), whereby "so much of the said coast of Labrador" (i.e., from the River St. John to Hudson's Straits) "as lies to the westward of a line to be drawn due North and South from the Bay or Harbour of Anse Sablon inclusive, as far as the 52nd degree of North latitude," was re-annexed to Lower Canada. From these words it appears that the "said coast" comprised an area extending inland at least as far as from Ance Sablon to the 52nd degree of North Latitude or some forty miles.

36. Finally it is submitted on behalf of the Colony of Newfoundland that the boundary as between Canada and Newfoundland in the Labrador Peninsula under the Statutes, Orders-in-Council and Proclamations, is so located and defined as to include within the jurisdiction of the Colony of Newfoundland the Eastern and South-Eastern watersheds of the Labrador Peninsula (together with the bays, harbours, inlets, creeks and rivers within that area), but less the territory west of a line drawn



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