The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

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8 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Geoffrion.

8 Nov., 1926.

The Lord

Sir John Simon.

Mr. Geoffrion.

8 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Sir John Simon.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Sir John Simon.

Mr. Geoffrion.

8 Nov., 1926.

Lord Sumner.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Lord Sumner.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Lord Sumner.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Lord Sumner.

8 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Geoffrion.

p. 737

was carried into effect, and possession was taken. Your Lordships will find the evidence of that at page 3351, line 10 et seq. I presume the establishment was destroyed or abandoned during the war that followed shortly after, because we do not hear very much of it afterwards.
On this branch I should like to ask your Lordships to look at the Map No. 21 of the Canadian Atlas, of which the map in front of me is a detatched copy.

Viscount HALDANE : Is that the whole of Labrador ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : No. This is purely to include the posts. I have given your Lordships so far the Fornel post, and some of the King's posts ; but apart from that there were a large number of Canadian concessions all on the St. Lawrence. Your Lordships will see first each side of Lake Melville and Hamilton Inlet you have the Bay des Esquimaux concession in 1749. That is the Hamilton River watershed. Then your Lordships will see a little bit to the left the Domaine du Boy, or the King's Posts. I am not concerned with the limits of the posts. The limits of the posts play a very small part. The Indians hunted where they liked. Nobody tried to restrain them. Certain definite restricted areas were built on where people could receive and exchange the furs : these were the posts; but the large area around meant nothing except that in the large territory around those posts nobody could compete with the grantee of the territory. So that all these limits do not play much part. The important thing is the physical position of the trading post, where the trading post was to which the Indians were to come.
I have pointed out to your Lordships where some of the King's Posts were. Then the third point for which I need this map is this. If your Lordships will take the north shore of the St. Lawrence from the eastern limit of the King's Posts, and follow the shore, your Lordships will see a lare number of smaller grants. They are trading grants as well as fishing grants, and there were posts there. So that thereby these Indians had three groups of places to which they could come. They could come to the King's Posts either inland, or at the shore at Tadoussac, they could come to Fornel at Lake Melville, or they could come down, as fancy suited them, to any of the posts on the lower St. Lawrence. Nobody followed the Indians in the woods to decide where they went. What I have pointed out to you were really competitors. but they were the commercial activities of the French down to 1763.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : I want to know what I am to infer from all this.

Mr. GEOFFRION : I ask your Lordship to infer purely and simply that that is an instance of what were necessarily the Indian relations with the French Government, at the time of the conquest. I have now finished with that branch of the case.
5 E 2

p. 738

The LORD CHANCELLOR : The reference you have given shows there was a concession to Widow Fornel of territory which surrounded the whole of the Hamilton area.

Mr. GEOFFRION : Yes, my Lord.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : That was granted, of course, by the French because it was their country at that time. It ran up to the height of land as far as I can see.

Sir JOHN SIMON : The terms of the concession make use of the expression “ height of land ” in terms. Your Lordship will find that on page 3331.

Mr. GEOFFRION : I read that passage in fact.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : The date of this was 1749, just before the change ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : Yes, my Lord. Then this concession lapsed during the war, because there is no successor to it. It died. The war killed it, and nothing came of it afterwards. Whether the Fornel family were destroyed in the war, or went back to France we do not know.
That closes the French regime, but now I have a little to say on the last chapter of my argument—the Canadian regime. With regard to the Canadian regime, may I put it in this way. I start with a presumption that all these numerous connections cannot have been suddenly broken. The Indians cannot suddenly have changed all their habits, the posts cannot suddenly have all disappeared, and the missionaries cannot all have quitted. I want to add something to that presumption. As regards the missionary work I will say only these few words. The dates I gave your Lordships a minute ago go down to 1862, so that the missionary influence continued till 1862. As regards the commercial part, we ask your Lordships to remember what has been read to your Lordships already about Palliser's troubles with the traders in the St. Lawrence part of his government. Palliser found the French Canadians, the Quebecers, or whatever he calls them, installed all along the St. Lawrence part of the Labrador coast. They were stubborn and fought and defended themselves to the extend that they at first carried the day, and carried too much of it in 1774 by obtaining that the coasts should be given back to Quebec. They lost ground in 1809 when the coast was taken away from them, but they succeeded finally in getting what was theirs in 1825 when they had the coast reconveyed to Quebec up to Ance Sablon. There is nothing more eloquent to demonstrate that the Canadian possession of the posts down to Blanc Sablon continued down to the conquest, and was never interrupted, because after 1825 there was no reason to interrupt it.
The Esquimaux Bay or Hamilton possession is a little more interesting. Your Lordships will find it referred to in Volume III,

p. 739

page 1222. There is a passage there I would like your Lordships to note because I suggest it is of some importance.

Viscount FINLAY : You refer to the letter of the 24th July ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : Yes. It is apparently, as far as I can gather from this record, the first time any Newfoundlander visited inside Esquimaux Bay. This is a report.

Viscount FINLAY : Where is Ivertoke Inlet ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : Esquimaux Bay, Hamilton Inlet, Lake Melville.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Lord Finlay will perhaps remember it is said that the Eskimo word for “ walrus ” is “ ivertoke.” That is said to be the reason. I do not know any Eskimo myself.

Mr. GEOFFRION : The Moravians are the only ones who do. We are embarrassed by the constant change of name in respect of Hamilton Inlet. We have four names, but that is not our fault. It was something bequeathed to us.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Now my friend wants to call it Lake Melville.

Mr. GEOFFRION : Esquimaux Bay and Lake Melville is something different. Lake Melville my learned friend wants to call Groswater Bay. The passage I want to read begins at line 17 of page 1222.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Perhaps my friend would not mind reading from a little higher up, beginning with the words “ From the 13th to the 23rd.”

Mr. GEOFFRION : Certainly, I will read from that point. “ From the 13th to the 23rd I have been employed in ascertaining the extent and source of this inlet. I run up in the Brig 140 miles from N.N.W. to W. & S. distance across from 3 to 20 miles in widest part, thence I proceeded in a shallop (which a Canadian Merchant kindly offer to accompany us) with Canoes to the source, where we arrived at a Grant Waterfall or rapids, one backing the other 90 feet high. I have had communication with the Red Indians, at first they hid themselves from us, after a little coaxing and as far as we were able gave them to understand we came to assist them, they became in a short time familiar, next day I prevailed on them to come on board ; 7 Canoes of them visited us. I regaled them with plenty of beef, pudding and grog, three accompanied us up the river, 50 miles from the Brig. The Canadians have extensive establishments in the salmon fisheries, but their principal gain is the fur trade with the Red Indians. The fishing (cod) establishments up the river for 40 miles are numerous, principally americans for the season.”

p. 740

Lord SUMNER : Might I ask you this on that. If as late as 1821 there were seasonal cod fisheries up the river for 40 miles enjoyed by Americans, I suppose those would be the class of person whom the Governor by his Commission was to keep out of the Esquimaux coast if he could ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : We must first know where he starts his river. Then secondly my answer is this. No doubt he would try to keep them from getting on the coast, but once on the coast they could go as far as they liked.

Lord SUMNER : Your view is that if they eluded his vigilance and landed, and got past his strip, as you say they could go as far as they liked and fish for cod wherever they could find it ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : The evidence is that you cannot fish cod fish inside Lake Melville.

Lord SUMNER : Whatever fish there was. I am quite sure that the Americans did not go there for pleasure. They found something to fish. Whatever it was, your view is that the Governor of Newfoundland could not stop them.

Mr. GEOFFRION : My view is that when the King in 1763 gave his Proclamation he was not thinking of the possibility of Americans finding one fiord bringing them into a river and getting into there.

Lord SUMNER : It is quite impossible for us to ascertain what passed through the royal mind in 1763. Your proposition to–day, if I follow you, is that the duties of the Governor of Newfoundland under this Commission to prevent Americans enjoying British possessions upon the Labrador Peninsular, would not enable him to follow up these gentry and turn them out ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : I think we must first determine where the jurisdiction stops, and it would be for the King, on report, to take the proper measures if he reserves the territory behind. I suggest that the possibility of some Americans eluding the vigilance of the Governor and going beyond the boundary will throw very little light on what the King intended as between the Indians and the fishery.

Lord SUMNER : I understand your point to be, for what it is worth, that whoever was to bring those Americans up that river to book, it was not the Governor of Newfoundland ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : I would have to know first where they were.

Lord SUMNER : Wherever this place is.

p. 741

Mr. GEOFFRION : That is the difficulty. I cannot say whether these particular Americans whom he saw fishing cod would be brought under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Newfoundland, or the King directly, because since they were fishing cod if they were beyond what was intended to be the coast I must be logical and say that, of course, the Governor could not go there unless he got special powers. The only point I am making is that the Canadians were established there extensively in the fur and fishery when the Newfoundlanders came. We find the Fornel there in 1749, and we find the Canadians there in 1821, and the Newfoundlanders certainly had not been there in the meantime.
Coming to Volume VII, beginning at page 3356 and going right down to page 3420, we have what I will call an almost complete chain of title. I will not say it is absolutely complete. There are a few gaps, but that is not surprising. It is, however, an almost complete chain of title from 1785 down to 1835 in respect of posts in Hamilton Inlet, and Esquimaux Bay, dealt with by Canadians in Quebec. I will simply refer to page 3356, and then leave it to your Lordships. On page 3356 we have a licence by the Quebec Government in 1784 as a starting point, to Pierre Marcoux and Louis Marchand, to trade and traffic with the Indians in Esquimaux Bay. We have them in possession in 1821, and we have a succession of titles down to 1835. I must confess that we have a gap from 1749 to 1784. There is no evidence either way. Apparently till 1749 this had been a wilderness. We have one grant to Fornel in 1749. Then we have a licence in 1784, and then a few years afterwards we begin a succession of titles which brings us down to 1835. To be perfectly accurate, I think the titles begin in 1821 and go down to 1835. I think that is really the series of titles your Lordships will find.

Viscount FINLAY : Where is the first of these titles ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : The licence is a sort of title, my Lord. That is at page 3356.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : I would point out to you that there is nothing in that, because it was all Quebec.

Mr. GEOFFRION : Certainly. I am simply giving your Lordship the chain.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : What is the next link ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : At page 3401. That brings you down to the period when there could be no doubt—that is in 1815.

Viscount FINLAY : That is 30 years after the first title.

Mr. GEOFFRION : Yes. I have been asked to give dates when


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