The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume I

Volume II

Volume III

Volume IV

Volume V

Volume VI

Volume VII

Volume VIII

Volume IX

Volume X

Volume XI

Volume XII

21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.


21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

The Lord

Sir John Simon.

21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

p. 26

was a matter of record with the British commissaries at any rate. It is not quite certain that the French agreed. I am not asking for the moment that this map should be examined from any other point of view. There are several things that we shall have to look at in a further connection, but all that I am saying is that in the Treaty of Utrecht, there being this possible question of debate, there you get another illustration of the fact that in the early part of the eighteenth century, if you had to determine to what line to run back for the purpose of arriving at the grant of a bay or a piece of coast, that is the way in which it is done.
Now, with those preliminaries, which have rather departed from my strict chronological formula—

The LORD CHANCELLOR: The date of this map is 1763.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord. I am just coming to that date.

Viscount HALDANE: Just at the time when there was great excitement.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am just coming to the year 1763. I want your Lordships to take three dates in 1763, and to examine the documents which record what was decided on those three dates. The first date is the date of the Treaty itself. The Treaty of Paris was signed on the 10th February, 1763, and your Lordships will find the relevant extracts from the Treaty in the first volume at page 330. It is printed both in the French text at page 330 and in the English text at page 334; and I will take the English text on page 334 for convenience. There is no controversy about it.
Your Lordship has got to see what it is which as the result of the definite Treaty of Paris of the 10th February, 1763, France ceded to Britain. General Wolfe had led his famous assault, he had landed on the spit of land called the Anse de Foulon, just above Quebec, very late in the night of the 12th September. His 4,800 men, which is all that he had, on the Plains of Abraham, had defeated Montcalm at dawn; and soon after, on the 13th September, Wolfe, of course, and Montcalm too, had both been killed in the battle; or at least Montcalm had died of wounds incurred in the battle, immediately afterwards. Brigadier General Murray, who was one of his Brigadiers—another one being my learned friend's ancestor, Brigadier General Monckton—had assumed command in the now conquered City of Quebec. Between 1759 and 1763, General Murray administered the area under more or less temporary provisions. Now the seven years war was over, the policy of Pitt was completely successful, and here you have the definitive treaty of peace. “The Definitive Treaty of Peace and Friendship between His Brittannick Majesty, the Most Christian King, and the King of Spain”—the King of Spain was always called in those days His Most Catholic Majesty, so that there you have the three—“Concluded at Paris the 10th day of February 1763. To which the King of Portugal acceded the same day.”

p. 27

Now the parts that matter are these: paragraph 4, at the bottom of page 334, says this: “His Most Christian Majesty renounces all pretensions he has heretofore formed or might have formed to Nova Scotia or Acadia in all its parts, and guarantees the whole of it, and with all its dependencies, to the King of Great Britain: Moreover, His Most Christian Majesty cedes and guarantees to his said Britannic Majesty, in full right, Canada, with all its dependencies, as well as the island of Cape Breton, and all the other islands and coasts”—“islands and coasts,” your Lordship will observe—“in the gulph and river of St. Lawrence”—that did not mean he was ceding a mathematical line, or, I should have thought, a strip a mile wide, but it meant an area bounded on the sea by the seashore.

Viscount HALDANE: Was there any definition of Acadia in the Treaty?

Sir JOHN SIMON: No, my Lord, but Acadia itself was a name which was used rather at that period, rather for what I should now call the maritime provinces of Canada than for the area around Quebec.

Viscount HALDANE: It was also used as a synonymous term for Canada?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes; you would sometimes have documents that talked about “Acadia or Canada,” but if you look at the old maps, and especially the French ones, you will find that Acadia is the term which is used for the maritime provinces, as we should call them now.

Viscount HALDANE: This Treaty was made in Paris. Sir George Murray remained on and became Lieutenant-Governor until he was succeeded by Sir Guy Carleton.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am going to call attention to a very important illustrative document in the case. The language of the Commission which was given to Sir Guy Carleton, both when he was first appointed and when there was a new appointment given by which his administration was changed, is a very important point for the Newfoundland case, I think; but we have not reached that yet.
His Most Christian Majesty the King of France cedes all these things, and “all other islands and coasts in the gulph and river of St. Lawrence, and in general, every thing that spends on the said countries, lands, islands, and coasts, with the sovereignty, property, possession, and all rights acquired by treaty, or otherwise, which the Most Christian King and the Crown of France have had till now over the said countries, lands, islands, places, coasts, and their inhabitants, so that the Most Christian King cedes and makes over the whole to the said King, and to the Crown of Great Britain, and that in the most ample manner and form, without restriction, and without any liberty to depart from the said cession and guaranty under any pretence.”

p. 28

Viscount FINLAY: You are reading from the English version

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, I was, but it is just the same.

Viscount FINLAY: Were three two originals?

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am not quite sure whether there was a stipulation whether either of them was the original; but the Treaty is to be found in a collection of Treaties, both in English and in French, and there is no controversy as to any difference of languages. Page 334 of Volume 1. gives you the English version, and it is paragraph IV. of that, beginning at the bottom of the page. And perhaps your Lordship will note, although I agree that it is not very important, that the word “coasts” is used in the bottom line of that page. It is not very important, and I am not laying any stress upon it.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: This is a translation. It is “cotes” in the French.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord, but it was both in English and in French at this time. I am sure we shall satisfy your Lordships about that. Then he surrenders the whole of the French Enipire, and then there is a stipulation, which your Lordship will remember, I have no doubt, to protect the Roman Catholics who were thus passing under the jurisdiction of Britain. Then you will find that there is an exception.
I think that Lord Haldane would probably be interested in paragraph V, in view of something that he said a few minutes ago. You will see that it speaks of the “coasts of Nova Scotia or Acadia,” just as I said a moment ago. It begins by stipulating that “The subjects of France shall have the liberty of fishing and drying on a part of the coasts of the island of Newfoundland,” and so on. Then it says: “And his Britannick Majesty consents to leave to the subjects of the most Christian King the liberty of fishing in the gulph of St. Lawrence, on condition that the subjects of France do not exercise the said fishery but at the distance of three leagues from all the coasts belonging to Great Britain, as well those of the continents as those of the islands situated in the said gulph of St. Lawrence.” There was a lot of controversy about that which does not matter now. Then at the end of paragraph V it says: “and the fishery on the coasts of Nova Scotia or Acadia.”

Viscount HALDANE: What was Nova Scotia then?

Sir JOHN SIMON: It was what it is now, with New Brunswick added. “The fishery on the coasts of Nova Scotia or Acadia, and everywhere else out of the said gulf, shall remain on the foot of former Treaties.”
Then, overleaf, at page 336, your Lordships will see the Mississippi mentioned. It is in paragraph VII, which says: “In order to re-establish peace on solid and durable foundations, and to remove for ever all subject

p. 29

of dispute with regard to the limits of the British and French territories on the continent of America: it is agreed, that, for the future, the confines between the dominions of his Britannick Majesty and those of His Most Christian Majesty, in that part of the world, shall be fixed irrevocably by a line drawn along the middle of the River Mississipi, from its source to the River Iberville, and from thence, by a line drawn along the middle of this river, and the lakes of Maurepas and Pontchartrain to the sea; and for this purpose, the Most Christian King cedes in full right, and guarantees to his Britannick Majesty, the river and port of Mobile”—that is away down in Florida, as your Lordships will remember—“and every thing which he possesses, or ought to possess, on the left side of the river Mississipil except the town of New Orleans.” Your Lordships may take it, I think, because I have checked it quite carefully, and it is not a matter of great controversy, that the effect of it was that except for the two little islands of St. Pierre and Micquelon the French abandoned altogether the territories which lie to the east of the great river Mississippi, and any rights which they had left were to the west of that river.

Viscount HALDANE: Where does the Mississippi rise?

Sir JOHN SIMON: It rises quite close to the Great Lakes of Canada, but of course, rather to the west of them. As a matter of fact, at the time when this Treaty was made, they did not know exactly where the Mississippi did rise, and I rather think that they thought that if you went up the Mississippi right to the top, you would have reached the height of land, and you had there begun to get into the Hudson's Bay territory. That was their idea, as I think you will see from the documents. The Mississippi does, as a matter of fact, rise to the west of Lake Superior.

Viscount HALDANE: Somewhere near Buffalo.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Further to the west than that, my Lord. It really rises somewhere below Winnipeg.

Viscount FINLAY: To the west of the Great Lakes?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, and to the south of Winnipeg.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Map No. 14 shows it.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord, it does; I am much obliged.
Now your Lordships see what was the trouble which the British authorities had to tackle. Thev had got there a consolidated empire. It was no very important concern of theirs to decide exactly how much of it was British before, and how much of it became British only as a result of cession; but if you put the two things together, they had got the whole of it. Therefore, the next thing that happened was that they

p. 30

had to decide what was to be done, and now your Lordships will find that there follow—and I will take them strict chronological order—two other important dates in 1763. The first of them is a document of the 25th April, 1763, after the Treaty. That is to be found on page 149 of the first volume of the Appendix, and it is the Commission of the Governor of Newfoundland, Governor Graves. I will tell your Lordships at once what the other document is, as a matter of convenience. The other document, which is also in the year 1763, is a document which came into existence some months later, a document of the 7th October, 1763.

Viscount HALDANE: In which book shall we find this?

Sir JOHN SIMON: They are both in the first volume, and that one is at page 153.
I therefore desire to call your Lordships' attention in due chronological order to the Commission, which is on page 149, and to the proclamation which is on page 153, and I will take the Commission first. It is a very important document in our case. It is headed : “Commission passed under the Great Seal of Great Britain appointing Thomas Graves to be Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland, the Coast of Labrador, etc.”
Now let me explain what had been the position as far as Newfoundland and Governor Graves were concerned down to this point. Graves was already the Governor of the Island of Newfoundland. Ile was already that; he had got a commission for that.

Viscount HALDANE: Was he a layman, or was he an Admiral?

Sir JOHN SIMON: He was an Admiral, my Lord; and you will find that these people are all Admirals. Your Lordship will not understand me to be avoiding this point at all; it is perfectly clear that the further object which the authorities had in mind, both in connection with the island of Newfoundland and in connection with the coast of Labrador, was an object which one may call maritime. There is not the slightest doubt about that. They appointed Admirals, and they were careful to select the man who was Governor of Newfoundland, and they secured at the same time that he was Commander in Chief of the Fleet on the Newfoundland station. They regarded Newfoundland as a nursery for seamen. They discouraged settlements as much as they could, because the experience of going backwards and forwards made British sailors experienced. They laid down rules that whenever the fleet went out they must take with them what was called “one green man in five.” That does not refer to the uncomfortable experiences of crossing the Atlantic, but it means that they had to take someone who had not been there before; and there is not the slightest doubt that the purpose which was in the minds of those who made these arrangements was primarily a purpose which you may term maritime. I am not disputing that. Not only that, but at this time and for long afterwards


Partnered Projects Government and Politics - Table of Contents Site Map Search Heritage Web Site Home