"II. That no Alien or Stranger whatsoever shall at any time hereafter take Bait or use any Sort of Fishing whatsoever in Newfoundland, or the Coasts, Bays or Rivers thereof, or on the Coast of Labrador of in any of the Islands and Places within or dependent upon the Government of the said Colony: always excepting the Rights and Privileges granted by Treaty to the Subjects or Citizens of any Foreign State or Power in amity with His Majesty.
III. And whereas it is expedient to obviate any Doubts which have arisen or may arise as to what persons are entitled to the Right or Privilege of taking, curing and drying Fish on the Shores and Banks of Newfoundland; Be it enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for all His Majesty's subjects residing in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland or in any of His Majesty's Colonies, Plantations or Dominions, to have, use and enjoy the free Trade and Traffic and Art of Merchandise and Fishery to and from Newfoundland and the Coast of Labrador aforesaid and all and every the Islands or Places within or dependent upon the Government of Newfoundland and peaceably to have, use and enjoy the freedom of fishing and taking bait in any of the Seas, Rivers, Lakes, Creeks, Harbours or Roads in or about Newfoundland or the said Coast of Labrador or any of the islands adjacent thereunto respectively; the liberty to go on shore on any vacant or unoccupied part of Newfoundland or said Coasts of Labrador or any of the said islands adjacent thereunto respectively, for curing, salting, drying and husbanding of their fish, and for making oil; and to cut down wood and Trees on any such vacant or unoccupied Places as aforesaid for building and making or repairing Stages, Ship Rooms, Train Fats, Hurdles, Ships, Boats, and other necessaries for themselves and their servants, seamen and fishermen, and all other Things which may be useful or advantageous to their Fishing Trade to do, as fully and freely as at any Time heretofore by virtue of any former Act of Parliament hath been done there by any
of His Majesty's Subjects, without any Hindrance, Interruption, Denial, or Disturbance whatsoever."
This was the first Act passed by the Imperial Parliament with relation to the fishery on the coast of Labrador. Passed for a period of five years, it was further continued in force until the 31st December, 1834, when it expired. According to the construction given this statute, in its application to Newfoundland, by the Supreme Court of the Island (The King v. Luke Ryan, Nfld., Rep. (1829-45), per Tucker, C.J., at p. 54), it was "the intention of the legislature that the unoccupied part of the sea-coast, with an adequate portion of land for the ordinary purposes of the fishery, should be entirely dedicated to that object." (Vide, also, The King v. Cuddihy, ib. sup. 8, 21, 23).
28. In March, 1824, Lord Dalhousie, Governor of the Province of Lower Canada, transmitted to the Earl of Bathurst, Secretary of State, an address which had been presented to him by the Legislative Council of the Province, praying that the coast of Labrador should be re-annexed to the Province of Lower Canada. The principal ground of this prayer was that the Newfoundland Act, 1809, 49 Geo. III., Chap. 27, "has, in its operation, so separated the coast and islands aforesaid from the Province of Lower Canada and placed them under another government and jurisdiction that the proprietors of the soil lying within the coast and islands aforesaid, most of whom it is believed were resident in Canada, are thereby subjected to laws and regulations incompatible with their tenures and usages and which virtually amount in certain cases to a denial of justice"; and that the separation of the coast from Lower Canada had also imposed serious impediments upon the trade and fisheries on the coast in which-the inhabitants of Quebec were largely interested.
29. In May, 1825, the Chamber of Commerce of St. John's, Newfoundland, addressed a petition to the Earl of Bathurst praying that the coast of Labrador might be continued under the Government of Newfoundland. They represented "the very great importance to these fisheries of continuing
under the Government of Newfoundland all such parts of that coast as are resorted to from hence"; that between 60 and 70 vessels were annually fitted out from St. John's alone, and nearly 200 from Conception Bay, employing altogether nearly 5,000 men in the Labrador fishery; that since the whole business of supplying these fisheries was involved in a course of settlement to be made in the fall of each year in Newfoundland, it would be absolutely 10 impossible to continue "this fishery" beyond the reach of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland. The memorialists represented the inconvenience and absolute ruin to many fishermen which would be involved by a measure which would require them to attend the courts at Quebec.
30. On the 22nd June, 1825, the British North America (Seignorial Rights) Act, 1825, 6 Geo. IV., chap. 59 (Imperial), received the royal assent. The part of the coast which lies to the westward of "Ance Sablon, inclusive" was, by section 9 of this Act, re-annexed to and made a part of the Province of Lower Canada, as hereinabove recited. The parliamentary history of this Act shows that, when leave was given by the House of Commons to introduce the bill, the House ordered that Mr. Brogden and Mr. Wilmot Horton "do prepare and bring it in." Mr. Wilmot Horton, M.P., as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, was principally charged by the Ministry with the preparation and sponsoring of the bill in Parliament. Contemporaneous documents show that, while the bill was in course of preparation, Mr. Horton consulted Lord Dalhousie and Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Hamilton, then Governors of the Province of Lower Canada and the Colony of Newfoundland, respectively, with regard to the proposal that the coast of Labrador should be reannexed to the Province of Lower Canada; that the Governor of Lower Canada agreed to accept, in modification of his Province's claims, the re-annexation of a part, instead of the whole, of the coast of Labrador, and that the decision arrived at, with the acquiescence of the Governor of Newfoundland, was to divide the coast "at a point" fixed upon by the two Governors, viz., Ance Sablon (Blanc Sablon), to the intent that all that part of the coast lying to
the westward of "Ance a Sablon, inclusive" should be re-annexed to and made part of the Province of Lower Canada, "so as to comprehend the last Canadian fishing post of any importance on that shore and to leave to Newfoundland its most westerly fishing establishment." There is, also, evidence that the Ministry did not consider that the transfer of this part of the coast of Labrador to the Province of Lower Canada was going to affect any but a wholly migratory population occupied in fishing. The "line to be drawn due north and south from the bay or harbour of Ance Sablon inclusive as far as the fifty-second degree of North latitude" was, it seems, merely the draftsman's device for effecting the division of the coast at the point agreed upon and was probably intended to serve as a boundary monument, as it were, for that purpose.
FOUTH PERIOD: FROM THE BRITISH NORTH AMERICA (SEIGNORIAL RIGHTS) ACT, 1825. TO THE PRESENT TIME.
31. As a result of the change made by the British North America (Seignorial Rights) Act, 1825, 6 Geo. IV., chap. 59, a fresh commission was issued on the 20th August of that year to the Governor of Newfoundland. By this he was appointed to be Governor in and over "Our Island of Newfoundland and the islands adjacent and all the coast of Labrador from the entrance of Hudson's Straits to a line to be drawn due north and south from Ance-Sablon on the said coast to the fifty-second degree of North latitude and all the islands adjacent to that part of the said coast of Labrador," etc. This description of the territory under the Governor's authority was carried into the Letters Patent of the 28th March, 1876, passed under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, for the purpose of constituting permanently the office of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Island of Newfoundland and its dependencies. The authority of the Governor under the commission last cited was limited by the appointment of a legislative council to advise and assist in the government of the island. He was given no power to make laws, but was
authorised, with the advice and consent of his Council, inter alia, to make grants to the inhabitants of such lands as the Crown had power to dispose of.
32. In 1832 the system of representative government was established, and in 1855 responsible government, as practised in Canada, was conceded to Newfoundland. Under the former, the Island was divided into nine electoral districts and the House of Assembly was to consist of fifteen members; under the latter, the nine electoral districts were increased to fifteen and the fifteen members to thirty. But no provision has ever been made for the representation of the coast of Labrador in the Newfoundland Legislature, nor has anyone been appointed to look after its interests. Only one Minister of the Crown, so far as known, has visited the coast. This event occurred in 1908, when the Minister of Marine and Fisheries supervised the placing of some lights on the coast.
33. The history of Newfoundland's relations with the coast of Labrador, during the century which has elapsed since 1825, illustrates, indeed, the persistence, in some of its principles, of the historic policy so long pursued by the Mother Country towards Newfoundland itself and extended in 1763 to that coast. Permanent settlements on the coast, though not positively prohibited, have, at least, been passively discouraged, and to Newfoundland a temporary fishery there is the principal object. Throughout its whole length from the Strait of Belleisle to Cape Chidley, there is not a single town nor even a village properly so called. The artificial segregations of the Eskimo at the Moravian Mission stations form the nearest approach to settlements. Apart from these, the main centres are the places where the trading posts are established. Cartwright, one of the most important of these centres, has but fifteen families. The other permanent inhabitants of the coast are spread along the coastline in isolated units often many miles apart; and Dr. Grenfell states there is not a single house on the coast that more than 250 yards from high-water mark.
34. Long famous for its cod fishery, the coast of Labrador produces from one-fourth to one-third