The Labrador Boundary

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21 Oct., 1926.


Mr. Macmillan.

Sir John Simon.

21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Sir Thomas

21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.


21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

p. 6

that the true boundary of Newfoundland territory on the mainland of Labrador is what we contend, nothing that has been done without the consent of the self-governing Colony of Newfoundland can possibly have had the effect of restricting that boundary at all. There comes a point, very late in the history, where that consideration is material.
I promised your Lordships to endeavour to present this to the Board from a chronological point of view, and therefore one must choose a date at which to begin.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Would it be inconvenient if we looked at the map now?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Not at all. It is to be found in the pocket at the beginning of the red volume.

Mr. MACMILLAN: You might mention, Sir John, that it is a Newfoundland map which I do not agree with.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, it is designed to show the view which the Colony of Newfoundland presents as to its rights in the matter.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Have you not been able to agree this map as representing the territory and the claim?

Mr. MACMILLAN: No, my Lord.

Sir JOHN SIMON: My friend I dare say will take an opportunity, without necessarily doing it in front of the Tribunal, of just letting me know in what respect he does not think it a proper picture.

Mr. MACMILLAN: Yes. I merely wanted to indicate that we have certain views on these lines, and we do not agree about them.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am not talking about the lines at all. I am merely talking about the boundary of the coast—the physical fact that the coast has these indentations.

Viscount HALDANE: Apart from the lines—for the rest is there much wrong?

Mr. MACMILLAN: I am afraid there is a good deal of disparity.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I shall in due course learn from my friend if there is anything the matter with the outline where the water touches the land. I use the most inoffensive expression, and say, where the water touches the land. I really do not think there is. If your Lordships look at the map, the first thing that is important to appreciate is that Labrador is a peninsula. The map is described as a map of the Labrador Peninsula. The isthmus which cuts off the peninsula is to be found

p. 7

in the map indicated at the bottom left-hand corner. Certain colours are upon the map—yellow, green, pink and blue—but of course in addition to that there is much uncoloured area which is land, and which is here left white. The isthmus, speaking broadly, which cuts off the peninsula of Labrador is therefore the band of land which stretches from James's Bay, the southern part of Hudson's Bay, to the River St. Lawrence more or less in the neighbourhood of where the Saguenay River runs into it. I am not fixing precise termini, but what I want first of all to get before your Lordships as a matter of geography—as is no doubt well known to all your Lordships—is that Labrador is in that sense a peninsula. I think it is a matter of some 300 or 350 miles across the neck of the peninsula. I am not the least on political rights or boundaries for the moment. Your Lordships see that from that neck or isthmus of some 300 or 350 miles you have this great area swelling out. You do not get the whole of it on this map, because if you travel along the shore of James's Bay and Hudson's Bay you go off the map at the top before you have rounded the corner from Hudson's Bay into Hudson's Strait. It is a very considerable area, very far north of course. Then you find the coastline trending south-easterly again, and you come into this very large bay which is called Ungava Bay. Ungava is a name which at one time was a name used for a portion of this territory. Then trending north-easterly you come to a point where the colours begin, and your Lordships will notice Cape Chidley. Cape Chidley is one of the definite termini which are mentioned in the definitions which your Lordships have to consider, Cape Chidley, as your Lordships notice, being at the entrance to Hudson's Strait, if you regard yourselves as entering Hudson's Strait from the Atlantic. Then, trending broadly in a south-south-east direction, comes this long and extremely indented line, fringed with a great many islands, breaking into the land by some very considerable openings. I am quite deliberately avoiding the use of words like “inlets” or “estuaries”; I will call them openings. I refer, for instance, to such as Saglek Bay, which your Lordships will hear something about, and Hamilton Inlet, a very large opening indeed, and a whole series of other indentations. Then when you get very near to the right-hand edge of the map and towards the bottom of the green, you will find yourself approaching the Strait of Belle Isle. The Island of Newfoundland (which is not coloured) is, of course, on the opposite side of the Strait of Belle Isle. What you see there is the northern portion of the island of Newfoundland. Then if you regard yourself as sailing through the Strait of Belle Isle in a south-westerly direction, as some of us have perhaps done, you are now entering that part of the sea which is called the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Of course, it is not the River St. Lawrence, it is an immense part of the sea. In due course you pass along this pink area. I will call it, though incorrectly, for the moment the pink oblong. It takes a very important place in the argument, and I will indicate at once to your Lordships why the pink area is so important. The pink area is important because that pink area at one time did not form any part of the Province of Quebec. At a certain stage in the history it was added to the Province of Quebec,

p. 8

and a great deal turns in my submission, when we come to examine the language of these documents, on the way in which that transfer is described. It has a very close bearing on what is, in one sense, the issue of this case—the sense in which the word “coast” of Labrador is used.
Then we come to Anticosti Island, which those who approach the St. Lawrence by the summer route are accustomed, on a fine day at any rate, to see in the distance on the starboard hand. Then at the bottom of the area uncoloured you see the promontory on the southern side of the St. Lawrence estuary, which is ordinarily called “Gaspé.” You see Gaspé Bay. Perhaps you also notice two other things marked on this map—the Bay des Chaleurs, which is a bay on the southern side of the Gaspé Peninsula, and the Magdalen Islands which come in for a particular purpose.

Viscount HALDANE: Where is the entrance to the St. Lawrence?

Sir JOHN SIMON: The entrance to the St. Lawrence is between the blue area which is on the north side, and the uncoloured promontory of Gaspé, which is on the south side. Does your Lordship see Tadoussac, which is on the southern edge of the map?

Viscount HALDANE: At the mouth of the Saguenay River?

Sir JOHN SIMON: At the mouth of the Saguenay River. When you come to Tadoussac and the Saguenay River you are entering the St. Lawrence. At what point the St. Lawrence River may be said to begin and the Gulf of St. Lawrence to end is a thing about which opinions might differ. Your Lordships appreciate that this little map of mine by no means presents the area of the Province of Quebec. Quebec itself is beyond the map, and of course Montreal, and Three Rivers, and the rest of it. This is simply a map to indicate the peninsula of Labrador, because it is with reference to a fraction of that peninsula that the present dispute arises. If your Lordships would care for them, I would give your Lordships just two figures to get some sort of conception of the areas we are dealing with. Dealing with the Labrador Peninsula as being the area the boundaries of which I have just traced with you, and having this isthmus of from 300 to 350 miles at its neck, you may take it in round figures that the whole Labrador Peninsula is something like 511,000 square miles. I will not pledge myself as to an odd thousand, but that is about it.

Viscount HALDANE: Is that as claimed by you?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Oh, no. That is the whole Labrador Peninsula covered in this map, coloured or uncoloured, green, yellow, blue and pink, or not coloured at all. I am only giving your Lordships a very broad figure.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: It takes in a good deal to the north as included in your figure?

p. 9

Sir .JOHN SIMON: Yes. If you were to regard yourself as cutting off at the neck what is called the Labrador Peninsula, it is a matter of 500,000 square miles.

Viscount HALDANE: That is a great deal more than you claim?

Sir JOHN SIMON: That is a great deal more than we claim. The matter which is in controversy, which for the moment you may assume as being the green area, is about one-fifth of that. There again mensuration might bring it out rather differently, but call it that. It is about one-fifth, though it is a very large area, of course. But then Canada and the North American Continent under the British Crown is a very large place, as anyone who has been there is deeply impressed to observe.
That perhaps will give you for the moment a notion of the kind of subject matter. Now, if I may pass from elementary geography to equally elementary history, I would invite your Lordships for a moment to meditate on the year 1763. I shall have to go back a little bit earlier than that for one or two purposes, some of them quite important, but still the year 1763 is really the year upon which one needs in the first instance to concentrate. Your Lordships remember that that was the year of the Treaty of Paris, as the result of which the French lost their dominions.

Viscount HALDANE: In what year did Wolfe defeat Montcalm?

Sir JOHN SIMON: In 1759, on the morning of the 13th September. There was then a series of very interesting and important events, but the definite treaty which put in shape and reaped the fruits of that and other victories is the Treaty of Paris of 1763. Just to remind your Lordships in the first instance very broadly—the effect of the Treaty of 1763 (some terms of which we shall need to look at closely) was that the French surrendered to George III. the French dominions in North America so far as they were east of the Mississippi. In those early days what was west of the Mississippi might very well have been in some places a matter of speculation. Lord Finlay in particular will remember some people had already gone round Cape Horn and had found what there was in the region of what is now called British Columbia and Alaska; but if you regard yourself as exploring from the Atlantic and pushing in, though of course there was something known west of the Mississippi, a great deal of it was quite undiscovered territory, and one broad result of the Treaty of Paris of 1763 was, as your Lordships will recall, that the French gave up any claims to empire on the continent east of that, while they reserved certain rights to the west of the Mississippi.

Viscount HALDANE: Does any map show the course of the Mississippi?

p. 10

Sir JOHN SIMON: Oh, yes, we have some maps here which are very interesting from that point of view. It appears to me, and I am sure it will commend itself to your Lordships, that when we come to try and construe some of these documents—which are very difficult to construe—it may be very material to try and put ourselves as it were in the chair of the negotiators and draughtsmen, and for that purpose it may be important to see what sort of maps were available, because it may help us to understand what they were saving and doing. The exception, which is a trifling exception, under the Treaty of Paris of 1763 to the general proposition that the French withdrew altogether from North America east of the Mississippi, is that the French retained two islands—the Island of Miquelon, and the Island of St. Pierre, two islands off what is now called Nova Scotia.
That was the broad result. The result was that it became the duty of the British authorities to determine how this new territory was to be dealt with. It is perhaps not easy to state with precision exactly how much new territory the British Crown got, because, of course, Britain already had quite considerable interests in that region of the world. But what is quite clear is that the French, when they were definitely withdrawn, made an immense addition to what I may call the area to be disposed of, and what you will find is therefore that in connection with these new responsibilities the authorities at home made a series of new arrangements and adjustments, and it is in connection with those that you find the ancient Colony of Newfoundland getting an area on the mainland, while in about the same time you also find the carving out of other areas under the British Crown, such as, for instance, the Province or Government of Quebec.
There is another thing which I would venture respectfully to ask attention to at the outset on this historical side. Consider for a moment what were the British territories in that part of the world before the victory of Wolfe, and apart altogether from the cession of territory made by the French in the Treaty of Paris. There are several which must be most carefully borne in mind. The first one I would venture to mention is the Hudson's Bay Company territory. Your Lordships will remember that the Charter to the Hudson's Bay Company was a Charter granted by Charles II. in the year 1670. Therefore the Hudson's Bay Company was, of course, established in possession, and in what was very nearly sovereignty, over an immense solid area before ever these events in the middle of the eighteenth century took place. I think it is convenient now—it will have to be done at some time—to get a slightly clearer view of what the extent of that Hudson's Bay Company territory was. Of course it was vast. I have heard people sometimes in Privy Council cases talking about the Hudson's Bay Company having one-third of Canada, and it is, of course, most important for me that I should bring as clearly as I can before your Lordships' minds what were the other compartments of this area before we come to the question of what was done with the new and additional territory.


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