The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

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8 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Sir John Simon.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

8 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Geoffrion.

The Lord

Mr. Geoffrion.

Viscount Finlay.

Mr. Geoffrion.

8 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Lord Sumner.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Viscount Haldane.

8 Nov., 1926.


Mr. Geoffrion.

Viscount Haldane.

Mr. Geoffrion.

The Lord Chancellor.

Mr. Geoffrion.

8 Nov., 1926.

Mr. Geoffrion.

Viscount Haldane.

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the Newfoundland regime was in force, and therefore I am told, and properly so, that 1774 down to 1809 is irrelevant because it was ours.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I wish my friend would make plain what page 3401 has to do with the matter. It appears to be the sale of some ship and gear. What is that a title to ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : I am sorry, I have given the wrong page. The page I want to refer to is 3398. That is a notarial deed in Quebec between Quebecers.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Why should not a Quebecer have an establishment ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : It is only an indication of possession. It is an indication that the transfer of rights in Newfoundland would not be made exclusively by these people in Quebec, staying there, the Newfoundland Government being completely ignored. This is only an element in the matter. All I intended to say was that this is an indication of possession. I have documentary evidence here of Canadians being in possession in that period.

Lord WARRINGTON : They might have had the grant while it was all Canada, because this is only a lease to somebody else.

Mr. GEOFFRION : The way this grant got there is extremely obscure. We find no trace of any grant.

Lord WARRINGTON : This is not a grant by Canadian authority.

Mr. GEOFFRION : No. It is a transaction between Canadians. I am dealing with possession by Canadians. I am not dealing with grants by the Canadian Government.

Lord WARRINGTON : They may have obtained possession at the time when it was all Canada.

Lord SUMNER : This document is executed at Quebec. The chattels may have been in Quebec, the chose in action that seems to have been dealt with may have been outside Hamilton Inlet, and I have not at present found anything whatever to show that this is not consistent with a transaction entirely in Quebec in every sense of the word.

Sir JOHN SIMON : I think my learned friend will abandon this point if I point out to him this. If you look at page 3399 the title is based on a will made before a notary in Quebec in 1807—at a time when Newfoundland had nothing to do with it.

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Mr. GEOFFRION : My point is exclusively that this was a Canadian possession. My learned friend has been suggesting arguments, which I have to meet, such as this. That the squatters of Newfoundland who went fur trading in the interior were possessing for Newfoundland. My friend has given affidavits.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Why should there not be a Canadian possession in Newfoundland ? There might have been a Dutch possession.

Mr. GEOFFRION : If your Lordship pleases. I am merely answering a suggestion by my learned friend that a squatter on the Newfoundland shore who goes inland to trade with the Indians is possessing for Newfoundland. My argument which I have suggested on possession is one which may not help, but it is on an equal footing with 75 per cent, of my learned friend's arguments on possession. That is all. I do not put it higher than that. When my learned friend suggests that a squatter on the Labrador coast that goes inland to trap is therefore showing that this was Newfoundland, I give my answer and say that if that is the case the Canadian who settles there would show to the same extent that this is Canada. That is my argument.

Viscount FINLAY : I understand your position to be that your opponent's argument is bad, but that is no particular reason for your deducing another argument equally bad.

Mr. GEOFFRION : I put it forward in ease I have not succeeded in convincing your Lordships. If I knew all that was passing through your Lordship's mind my argument would be much shorter. In case of my not being able to convince your Lordship on this matter, I say if my friend's argument seems, in your Lordship's view, to be good, I have the same argument on the other side. That is all I want to say about that.
Then I need not give your Lordships the fact that the King's Posts continued to be leased by the Government of Quebec. Your Lordships have had that. I think that is challenged. You have evidence in regard to that in Volume VI, page 2761. This is simply to show the posts which were an actual monopoly were being leased by the Government down to 1861. As these King's posts extended into the disputed territory—there were posts as far as Lake Ashuanipi—it is evidence of Governmental possession within that territory. That is all the argument is.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Which of these posts is in that disputed territory ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : The Ashuanipi one. I gave your Lordship the list of them.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : Is that mentioned in this document ?
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p. 744

Mr. GEOFFRION : No, my Lord. It is simply the King's Posts, that is all.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : I see they are named here. They are Tadoussac, Islets de Jeremie, Chicoutimy and Sept Isles.

Mr. GEOFFRION : All the King's Posts were leased, my Lord. Then the last branch of this case that I want to take up is that the Government of Canada has been consistently helping all these Indians with government activity. The records of payments are gathered together in Volume VI, pages 2835 to 2965. They are all shown in detail. Those are the payments for the support of these Indians. Then you have the table of payments, very lengthy tables, following this document, and it begins at page 2837.

Viscount HALDANE : What is the date of this ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : They begin in 1851.

Lord SUMNER : Note A is of some value ; it states : “ Since the year 1851 the Province of Canada and the Dominion of Canada through the office of the Superintendent–General of Indian Affairs and the Department of Indian Affairs have continued to furnish relief annually, to the Montagnais Indians at Lake St. John, on the Saguenay River and on the north shore of the Lower St. Lawrence. The next paragraph is : “ These Indians, for the most part, make their living by fur hunting in the interior of the Labrador Peninsula, leaving for their annual hunt as early as August and September and returning with their furs in the following spring. All the able bodied Indians go on these trips taking their families with them, only the sick and infirm being left behind. (Dr. McDuff makes mention of this on several occasions.) Since the year 1893 this relief has been extended to the aborigines at the trading posts in the northern and eastern portions of the peninsula where the Esquimaux and the Montagnais and Naskopi Indians foregather. It was the custom of the Department for years to send annually to Father Armand 55 pairs of blankets for distribution to destitute Indians on the north shore of the Lower St. Lawrence. In 1897 this number was increased to 75 pairs.”

Mr. GEOFFRION : But the point I want to make is this, the Indians trading in the St. Lawrence were Indians from everywhere in the hinterland. On my learned friend's theory they were subjects of Newfoundland whenever they were on one side of the watershed, and we were simply on that theory relieving their subjects.

Viscount HALDANE : What is your theory about all this ? At that time Canada had not any grant of the hinterland of Labrador and you say Newfoundland had not got it. Well then, is your theory that

p. 745

the Crown making use of whatever Government was convenient asked Canada to take in hand the relief of these Indians ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : I put it this way ; it is a big question whether at this time the hinterland was Imperial or Canadian because your Lordships remember the doubt whether the Act of 1774 gave us this territory, or whether it was given to us in 1880 by the Order in Council. The view we contend for is it was given us in 1774.

Viscount HALDANE : You were excluded from it by the Act of 1825 by a line.

Mr. GEOFFRION : In 1825. The question of the meaning of the limits has been dealt with by my learned friend.

Viscount HALDANE : I am not suggesting that line gave it to Newfoundland, I am only suggesting it limited you. It seems to have a large tract undisposed of which was in the Crown and the Crown asked any convenient Government to take in hand the relief of the Indians within that region. What is your theory ?

Mr. GEOFFRION : My theory fundamentally was that it was at the beginning, this possession question is irrelevant. I am simply trying to meet the objection of the other side. Our case is independent of whether this hinterland was then in Quebec, or in the Crown. All we need to say is it was not in Newfoundland.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : I do not see how the fact that the Government of the Province of Canada as it then was sent some blankets to some Indians in disputed territory who were in distress has any bearing at all on the title.

Mr. GEOFFRION : Then I am quite satisfied with that.

Sir JOHN SIMON : That began in 1893, the year after Canada discovered that this place was valuable.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : 70 years after the document we have to construe.

Mr. GEOFFRION : I am quite satisfied with that because it disposes of some arguments of my learned friend which are more than 70 years after the documents.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : More than 70 years, it is 130 years.

Mr. GEOFFRION : My learned friend gave us evidence of 1810. The next thing I want to deal with is in respect of the rather
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important question, as I think, of the Montagnais dealing with the new. Government immediately after the Conquest. General Murray, on page 3234, at Volume 7, in 1761, writes to William Pitt. He is dealing with the murder of two Tadousac Indians at line 14 by John Collins master of a New York schooner. They are two Tadousaz Indians, I take it Tadousac Indians are the Indians of the hinterland there who came to Tadousac to trade because Indians did not live at Tadousac.

Lord WARRINGTON : That was before the Treaty.


Lord WARRINGTON : This is in 1761.

Mr. GEOFFRION : Yes, it is.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Apparently near the mouth of the River Saguenay.

Mr. GEOFFRION : That is not the point I am dealing with. If your Lordships would let me put my argument, then it can be dealt with or discarded. What I mean is they were Tadousac Indians who had been murdered and we find at line 20 : “ By the intercession of the Hurons of Lorrette this affair has been accommodated to the satisfaction of the Savages consistant with the safety of the Prisoner and the dignity and justice of the British Government. In the course of this treaty the Savages desird I would acquaint all the King's subjects that they having submitted (61) to his Majesty's Government expected his protection and be exempted for the future from the insults of the crews of the ships trading in the river. I have in consequence begd of Genl Amherst to publish this request in the manner he shall think proper to his Majesty's Colonies, and if it was hinted to the vessels from Europe disorders may be prevented which when they happen alienate the affections of the Indians and confirm them in the bad opinion of the English nation the French have assiduously endeavoured to instill into them.”

Viscount HALDANE : Mr. Geoffrion, let us see what bearing this has. The English had won their victory over the French at this time, but there had been no disposition of the territory taken, the documents of 1763 had not come into operation, so everything was in the state of the greatest confusion. General Murray took whatever course he thought was wisest, he dealt with the case whether he had technical jurisdiction or not ; he was a military Governor.

Mr. GEOFFRION : Exactly.

Viscount HALDANE : It was his business to do the best he could.


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