Confederation
1864-1949



The Labrador Boundary


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Volume XII








5 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Lord Sumner.

Viscount Finlay.

5 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Viscount Haldane.

Mr. Geoffrion.

5 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Lord Sumner.

Mr. Geoffrion.

5 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Geoffrion.




p. 704

grants, because one is for two separate places : but the principle does not change.

Viscount FINLAY : The licence is to occupy during His Majesty's pleasure.

Mr. GEOFFRION : It was an Imperial grant. Then, my Lord, I need not point out that there is nothing that determines what will be the depth. Might I again remind your Lordships of the fact that it was essentially an Esquimaux mission, because these men had boasted that they knew the Greenland Esquimaux and they thought that they might be able to approach these men whose language nobody knew. It was for the purpose of preventing fights between the fishermen and the Esquimaux ; and the Esquimaux being coast dwellers the mission was useful on the coast. The boats could not go inland ; they could go hundreds of miles on the sea, but they were not built for going inland.

Lord SUMNER : For what purpose do you understand the fact that 100,000 acres were required ? Was it for tillage ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : No, my Lord, there was no tillage.

Lord SUMNER : What did they want it for ? How many Moravian brethren could have their cabins and places of worship erected on the 100,000 acres ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : May I give your Lordship a suggestion? All I can say is that in those days they were very generous in areas.

Lord SUMNER : I am unable to understand why 100,000 acres are granted to one of these missions in a way that is consistent with its being confined to a strip nowhere more than one mile from high water mark. It seems to me they could not plough the fields, they could not fell timber because there was no timber, and unless they occupied themselves in catching fish, which would be to the exclusion of other people, I do not see what it could be for.

Viscount HALDANE : It was granted out of Crown Land, according to this.

Lord SUMNER : It is apparently not a fixed area of 100,000 acres, but they were to select ; so there appears to be a good deal of ground for thinking that they were to go some distance inland.

Viscount FINLAY : They seem to have contemplated a sort of Esquimaux settlement under the care of the Moravian Missionaries, a sort of town.

Mr. GEOFFRION : And several of them, possibly. Your Lordship

p. 705

must appreciate that these Esquimaux dwell in length, if I may use that expression. They do not go inland. They travel fast along the shore. The intention of the Moravians may have been to choose the best places along the shore where the bulk of the 100,000 acres would have been useful. Tilling is out of the question in one mile and two miles. I think I can suggest that the King was thinking of having granted only one mile ; but one mile, two miles, or three miles would give them timber in all the valleys—not very big timber, but enough timber for their needs. They would have to choose certain good places along a tremendously long shore. Your Lordships have photographs in this book of that shore, and you could have a very long area of two or three miles in depth where there would be comparatively few havens to select missions for the Esquimaux. These Moravians' own information was slight. They had scarcely been there at the time. They were not established there ; it was a venture. They had discovered only one thing, which was that these Esquimaux were cousins of the Greenland Esquimaux, and therefore spoke the same language, and they could probably be approached by these Moravians who had been to Greenland. They would ask for a big strip of land, which would be granted, and no Government in England would think that they were seriously encroaching on any hunting ground of the Redskins by giving 100,000 acres where the Esquimaux could be reached, considering that the Esquimaux, with their training habits, mode of life, and emnity of Red Indians, do not go inland at all. Dr. Grenfell says in Volume V at page 2568, that he knows of no building that was ever further than 250 yards from the coast along the Labrador shore ; and Dr. Grenfell is a very great authority.

Viscount HALDANE : I am not very much troubled about how far it extended, because, after all, the Governor of Newfoundland was the person who had the military forces of the Crown there under his command, and he was the person to protect people, even if they were not in his own jurisdiction.

Mr. GEOFFRION : Your Lordships appreciate that the main answer is the answer made by Mr. Macmillan ; but a lawyer may be pardoned if he tries to give an alternative answer when he does not know whether the main answer has been successful. That is why I am making this point. The main answer is an Imperial grant. I want to challenge the idea that there was an intention of going very far inland ; they would not go inland on account of their purpose.
My last point is : Was the Governor of Newfoundland specially delegated by Imperial instructions as to this ? Who else could be ? There was no government ; it was under the direct home Government. The only access to the territory was by sea. Who else could be chosen to bring these men there, to see to their welfare, to their protection, control them, and so on, except the Governor of Newfoundland ? Certainly not the Governor of Quebec.

p. 706

Viscount HALDANE : There was no one else with any troops.

Mr. GEOFFRION : It was not troops, my Lord, it was ships.

Viscount HALDANE : But there are ships full of troops.

Mr. GEOFFRION : It would have been beyond the jurisdiction of the Governor of Quebec anywhere except when you come to the last grant, the grant of 1818, when it would have been in Quebec ; partly, not all. But the first two grants where the areas are mentioned were made when the hinterland was Imperial property and not Quebec property.

Viscount FINLAY : But these Esquimaux were children of the sea ; you never find them going far.

Mr. GEOFFRTON : They cannot. They feed on sea products, they live on the sea shore, except in certain climatic conditions ; they have not the canoes to travel inland.

Lord SUMNER : Dr. Grenfell says, on page 2569 : “ Esquimo Indians, natives, are in an entirely different category. They must have winter houses, and these must be in, or near, woods. Distance from high water no longer matters, for good transportation is afforded by sledges over the snow and ice.” Be points out on the previous page : “ Since the nearness of timber to the landwash recedes as one goes north, it is obviously impossible to draw any line that would be suitable for all regions. North of Cape Mugford, wood is not cut by Newfoundlanders at all ; north of Hebron there is none to cut.” So apparently the Esquimo Indians who must live in or near the woods in winter had to go some distance inland.

Mr. GEOFFRION : Your Lordship will notice when I made my statement I qualified the season. I had that part in mind and I qualified the season. My point was exclusively the canoe navigation proposition. Then I come to the winter. In winter they need not go 12 miles inland in that area of Esquimaux Bay to find wood. When you get to Ungava Bay the amount of wood that grows there is extremely scarce you are in the desolate regions, but though the Esquimaux live where there is hardly any wood, they prefer a forest if they can get it. According to Dr. Grenfell, the Moravians built houses near the sea. I might say the hinterland was nobody's until 1774, according to our view. From 1763 to 1774 we say that the hinterland was Imperial; when I say it was nobody's, I mean Imperial. From 1774 onwards we say it is Canadian, unless we are wrong on the Quebec Act. and then it remained Imperial until 1818. But could it be suggested that in the earlier grant, when admittedly Quebec had no right there, the

p. 707

Governor of Quebec would be ordered to take care of these people or both Governors jointly ? It had to be the Governor of Newfoundland. That is what I have to say on this particular question, my Lord.


(Adjourned for a short time.)

[1927lab]




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