The Labrador Boundary

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21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.


21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.


The Lord

21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

The Lord

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Treaty, that were left without any provision being made for civil government therein. I can give more illustrations, but that is one.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: It would not be the whole yellow patch because Hudson's Bay came rather near.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is the whole if Hudson's Bay is to be regarded as limited by the area which drains into Hudson's Bay; that yellow area does not drain into Hudson's Bay, it drains into the St. Lawrence.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: I was thinking of Hudson's Bay as marked on this document; it does not matter, there is something there.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is quite plain, therefore, when this lozenge which was the boundary of the Government of Quebec in 1763 was marked out there would be a large extent of country within which there were Colonies and Settlements of the Subjects of France, who claimed to remain therein under the faith of the said Treaty, and which was left, without any provision being made for the administration of Civil Government therein. Then it says: “and certain parts of the Territory of Canada, where sedentary fisheries had been established and carried on by the Subjects of France, inhabitants, of the said Province of Canada, under Grants and Concessions from the Government thereof, were annexed to the Government of Newfoundland.” That refers to this fact: if you come down the River St. Lawrence and examine the character of the fisheries which are being conducted on the northern edge of that river and the Gulf, coming down from Tadoussac and generally pushing on till you come out to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the side which is nearer to Quebec and furthest from the Atlantic, the fisheries were to a large extent what were called sedentary fisheries; that is to say, the people there actually settled there and built places there, they were working from a fixed locus, whereas the fisheries which were what I may call of the Newfoundland character were, as one of your Lordships observed earlier, really fisheries to which you came and went because the whole policy of the British Government at this time, and for long afterwards, was to discourage permanent settlement in Newfoundland and to insist that the fishing fleet must go out every spring and then occupy itself with the business for which it had come and return in the autumn. That was for a very long time the principle sought to be applied in connection with Newfoundland, and what you may call broadly Newfoundland Fisheries. This Act of Parliament is reciting that fact. You see that you have put under Newfoundland so large an extent of the coasts of Labrador as involved putting some people who used to he French subjects of French Canada who were sedentients. This is one of the motives for changing the boundaries: “May it therefore please your most Excellent Majesty that it may be enacted; and be it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice

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and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same.” Now comes a boundary of the most astonishing character. We have become so accustomed to the area of the United States that it gives one almost a surprise to find where the boundary of Quebec used to be. The boundary of Quebec which is now prescribed would include as I make out, some four and a half of the present states of the United States or five. The boundary may I explain is going to be traced beginning at the other end. You will remember when we had the boundary defined in the Proclamation of 1763 you were taken round this lozenge-shaped area and you finished up at the Bay of Chaleurs, and then were invited to cross the Gulf. At this time the Act of Parliament was going to trace a boundary beginning at the other end. It is very soon going to include much larger territories, but it starts the same. Your Lordship will see at line 27 on page 158. May I say I attach some importance to the word “bounded,” because it seems to me extremely unlikely if the Act of Parliament is going to say a particular area, this enlarged province of Quebec is bounded by so-and-so, it does not enclose Quebec with a complete boundary; and if it encloses Quebec with a complete boundary you will find the Newfoundland case succeeds: “Bounded on the south by a line from the Bay of Chaleurs, along the High Lands which divide the rivers that empty themselves into the River Saint Lawrence from those which fall into the Sea”—that is what I call the spine of the Gaspé Peninsular—“to a point in Forty-five degrees of Northern Latitude, on the eastern bank of the River Connecticut, keeping the same latitude directly west, through the Lake Champlain.” Down to there it is practically the same as before, you are retracing your steps—“until, in the same latitude it meets the River Saint Lawrence.” Now we are going to go further afield: “From thence up the Eastern bank of the said river to the Lake Ontario; thence through the Lake Ontario, and the River commonly called Niagara.” Your Lordship remembers Niagara lies between Erie and Ontario—“and thence along by the eastern and South-eastern bank of Lake Erie, following the said bank, until the same shall be intersected by the Northern boundary, granted by the Charter of the Province of Pennsylvania, in case the same shall be so intersected; and from thence along the said Northern and Western Boundaries of the said Province, until the said Western Boundary strike the Ohio; But in case the said Bank of the said Lake shall not be found to be so intersected, then following the said bank until it shall arrive at that point of the said bank which shall be nearest to the North-western angle of the said Province.” Your Lordships need not trouble about the grant to Pennsylvania, because it was really in the form of a quadrangle; the whole point was whether the North-western angle of the quadrangle would, as a matter of fact, be struck by this new line at one point or another; this is the part which matters: “And thence along the Western Boundary of the said Province.” That is to say the Province of Pennsylvania; then it goes on: “Until it strike the river Ohio.” The River Ohio would come out on the Western side of the Province of Pennsylvania about half way down: “and along the Bank of the said River,

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westward, to the Banks of the Mississipi.” Your Lordships know the Ohio is one of the principal tributaries of the Mississippi—“and Northward to the Southern Boundary of the territory granted to the merchants adventurers of England, trading to Hudson's Bay.” That. you see, is the same idea as we had before. It is the idea that the Hudson's Bay Company has got an area which will run back from Hudson's Bay until it reaches the height of land. When you get the height of land and the water begins not to flow into Hudson's Bay, but to flow South, then you will have the sources of the Mississippi. That is the idea of it. Then most extraordinarily they say: “And also all such territories, islands, and countries, which have, since the tenth of February 1863, been made part of the Government of Newfoundland, be, and they are hereby during His Majesty's pleasure, annexed to, and made part and parcel of, the Province of Quebec.”
My Lords, it is impossible for anybody to follow the whole of that elaborate description in one's head. What I am anxious to do is to put the point which is the only revelant point as it seems to me in reading it.

Viscount HALDANE: Might not this include the whole of Newfoundland?

Sir JOHN SIMON: It would, except, of course, the island.

Viscount HALDANE: It says: “Also all such Territories, Islands and Countries.”

Sir JOHN SIMON: Obviously, I agree, it is my case. It does include territory, but since it is only the territories which have been annexed to Newfoundland since the 10th February, 1763, it is leaving out the island. My whole case is that what Newfoundland got was not a strip a mile wide, but it got a territory, and this territory is now being taken away from it. I want to put the point to the Board, and 1 can put it without any map, what in my understanding is the point and a very important point to be made on this document.
Consider what the two contrasted cases or contentions here are.

Viscount HALDANE: You notice the words “been made part of the Government of Newfoundland.”

Sir JOHN SIMON: I do. I want to put what I conceive to be the only relevant point which arises on this document, and it is most material to consider what the two cases or contentions are between which your Lordships are invited to choose. My case is that the area in the Peninsula of Labrador, which was for a certain number of years annexed to and made part of the Government of Newfoundland, is not a mere narrow ribbon, a mile or whatever it is, running along the sea-shore, but is a very substantial block of territory running into what is a natural boundary. The other view put forward is: No, all that Newfoundland had since the 10th February, 1763, is this little ribbon.

p. 54

When I read this document and discover that it is proposed to define the boundaries, that is why I emphasise the word “bounded,” at line 27 on page 158. When I am told this is a document which is going to set out for me how the enlarged Province of Quebec is bounded, I naturally assume when I have traced it all out, that I shall have got a consolidated area, but if my friends are right, all I have got is this: I have got an area, the boundary of which is defined from the Bay of Chaleurs, which then runs westerly by Lake Champlain, the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, down the side of the then Colony of Pennsylvania, along the Ohio reaching the Mississippi, then running right up reaching the Hudson's Bay boundary, but after that I am given no assistance whatever, except I am told “And this ribbon a mile wide is also to belong to you.” My submission is that that is most improbable.

Viscount HALDANE: Where do you get that ribbon on that construction?

Sir JOHN SIMON: You get it in the words on page 159, you are to go on till the River Mississippi hits the Hudson's Bay boundary. Then line 13: “And also” that is to say the new Province of Quebec is also to contain “all such Territories, Islands, and Countries, which have, since the Tenth of February, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-three, been made part of the Government of Newfoundland.”

Viscount HALDANE: That is everything.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Quite. Then your Lordship sees I am told all the Government of Newfoundland got was a thing a mile wide.

Viscount HALDANE: You say if that is the construction, the whole went to the Government of Newfoundland?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Nobody disputes it, that is not the controversy, nobody disputes whatever the Government of Newfoundland got on the mainland in 1763, that exact area, neither more nor less, passed by the Statute of 1774. The whole question is, How much was it?

The LORD CHANCELLOR: This carries all the territories which belonged to the Crown of Great Britain in North America, bounded on the south by this line along Pennsylvania to the Mississippi, then it turns north and stops at the boundary of Hudson's Bay.

Sir JOHN SIMON: That is it.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: It is everything belonging to Great Britain, stopping at that boundary?


p. 55

The LORD CHANCELLOR: You got everything between the southern line and Hudson's Bay?

Sir JOHN SIMON: That is right.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: What light does that throw upon the question what is covered by the words “And also the territories which have been made part of Newfoundland.” Whatever that territory is, of course, it comes into this Grant, but how does that show what it is?

Sir JOHN SIMON: I agree it does not show it. This is merely a consideration. It is going to lie very much reinforced when we come to the pink piece; but 1 am only pointing out that the language of this document is entirely consistent with the view which I have been pressing, that is to say, if for a moment we might assume that “all the coasts of Newfoundland” means this solid green piece, then, of course, when you are told that you are going to bound the large Province of Quebec by this line, and are going to transfer all such territories, Islands and Countries as have been made part of the Government of Newfoundland, then, of course, the thing would fit. I quite appreciate what the Lord Chancellor puts to me. I cannot say that the other construction is either nonsensical or impossible, but to say the least of it, it is very odd that it should be supposed that you are making a complete boundary of the Province of Quebec, if the other view is right, because it would necessarily involve this, that although you carry things up to—the Hudson's Bay boundary, where the Mississippi ends—which was not quite right geographically, but was nearly right—after that you are really throwing into the Province of Quebec not only the Newfoundland territory, but also the territory which had never been either Newfoundland or Quebec.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: It is all the territory of Great Britain between the southern line and Hudson's Bay.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It may be.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: All, including or adding to it the territory which had been granted.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It may be. I am not saying that that is contrary to the language, at all, or impossible.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: I do not say that this is conclusive.

Sir JOHN SIMON: There are very few things which are conclusive in this case, although I think we are coming to one or two things which are very striking. But one sees now why it is that you come to a stage in 1774, when this transfer was made.


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