The Labrador Boundary

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21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.


21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.


The Lord

21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

The Lord

21 Oct., 1926.

Mr. Macmillan.

Sir John Simon.



21 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.



p. 61

height of the land, then it was exactly right to say: “Take your scissors, cut the thing across until you hit the fifty-second parallel, and then travel westward, and then we shall have taken away, or in substance taken away, so much of the said coast as we want to take away.” I am not saying that it is not a conceivable view, because, of course, it is conceivable, that all this elaborate reference to the fifty-second parallel was accidental or meaningless or all moonshine but it does seem to be a most extraordinarily improbable thing. If your Lordships would let me call attention to, at any rate, one map, which is in some respects, perhaps. the most authoritative map of its kind—

Viscount HALDANE: Before you do that, would you tell me if this is your interpretation, “Be it therefore enacted that so much of the said coast” that is the coast of Labrador really, because the said coast was the whole coast, “as lies to the westward of a line to be drawn North and South from Ance Sablon” which we see on the map, “as far,” North that is, “as the fifty-second degree of North latitude, with the Island of Anticosti, and all other Islands adjacent, shall be re-annexed to and made part of Lower Canada.” That means not only the whole of the blue, but, so far as any rectification is necessary to effect it, the whole of the light blue line along that, everything.

Sir JOHN SIMON: By light blue, does your Lordship mean the slate colour? That has been Quebec continually from 1763 to the present day; it has never ceased to be Quebec.

Viscount HALDANE: It only began there, according to this, in 1763. The words of the Statute are sweeping; it throws into Quebec all this.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It throws into Quebec the pink.

Viscount HALDANE: The words are wide enough to cover the slate.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It really is not so, with great respect.

Viscount HALDANE: Is not it?

The LORD CHANCELLOR: It is the word “re-annexed.”

Viscount FINLAY: “Again re-annex.”

Sir JOHN SIMON: The slate colour had never belonged to anybody but Quebec.

Viscount HALDANE: You apply “re-annexed” to that.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I do, my Lord.

p. 62

Viscount HALDANE: That is quite right.

Sir JOHN SIMON: There is a lot of controversy in this case, and I am not surprised that at the moment your Lordship should have speculated on that; I went through the same process myself, but, as a matter of fact, there is no controversy on it.

Viscount HALDANE: I understand there is no controversy; I was only taking the construction of this Statute.

Sir JOHN SIMON: We must be careful if that is so. I think your Lordship will find that, so far as regards that area on my map which your Lordship has called the blue, that is the slate colour, that portion was made part of the Government of Quebec in 1763, and it has never ceased to be part, at any rate, of the Province of Quebec ever since.

Viscount HALDANE: Anyhow, the pink is what is covered.

Sir JOHN SIMON: The pink is what is covered. Let me be perfectly fair and frank as regards the other view; the other view, as I conceive, is bound to be this; that though the coast was a mere selvedge, none the less Parliament has chosen to use language, unnecessarily, which carries your line 40 miles inland, though one mile is enough. Such a thing is a conceivable argument; I have heard many worse arguments. The question is: Is that right? Is not, on the other hand, the language of the Statute very very strong as going to show that the whole of that pink was regarded as coast? Before the Court adjourns for the day may I suggest a final and rather severe exercise, which would be to take the Canadian Atlas, and I will ask your Lordships to turn in that atlas to Map No. 11.

Viscount HALDANE: I gather you are keeping for us the Statute of 1825 till to-morrow morning?

Sir .JOHN SIMON: This is in order to illustrate the Statute of 1825; I am not taking a new point. I want your Lordships to be good enough to look at a most interesting and remarkable map, which is No. 11. Your Lordships may be interested to know that if you were looking at the original of this map (which is here) it seems extremely probable that you would be looking at a map which was actually studied, and it may be marked by King George III.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: With his own hand?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, his own actual copy, because when King George III died, George IV was so obliging as to allow George III's Library to go to the British Museum, and, amongst other very valuable documents, both maps and books, which then passed into the national custody at the British Museum, was this map. It is known as “John

p. 63

Mitchell's Map.” John Mitchell was a very remarkable man. He was a scientific man, and his first interest in science was botany. You will find an interesting life of him in the “Dictionary of National Biography.” He spent a certain portion of his life, the middle portion of his life, in the New World; as a matter of fact he lived in Virginia; and this map, which is known as “John Mitchell's Map,” is a map which had a great reputation. What I want your Lordships to observe is this: supposing, for the sake of argument, we were considering what was to be done in 1825 in view of the expediency of re-annexing to Quebec so much of the said coast of Labrador as is defined by drawing a line from Ance Sablon, Sandy Bay, due North to the fifty-second parallel, and then really upon the fifty-second parallel. Now here is this Sandy Bay. I do not know whether your Lordships have observed it, it is very correctly placed, with a little Island at the mouth of it called Woody Island. It is not inaccurate, it is just about right: there is the place. Supposing you draw a line due North from that point, you will strike a parallel of latitude, fifty-two in fact. If you then travel due West along that parallel, you will notice that in due course you will come to the head waters of the River St. John, they little extend beyond it, but in substance that is so. And, what is also rather interesting, my Lords, this particular map, which there is some reason to think was George III's own copy, though that is not material, has got marked on it, in a slight wash, the old line which you may remember, which was the boundary of the original Government of Quebec, which you will recollect ran from the head of the River St. John to Lake St. John.

Viscount HALDANE: What is the date of this map?

Sir JOHN SIMON: This map itself, though its reputation continued long after its date, was a map of 1755.

Viscount FINLAY: This map No. 11?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord. I could give you other illustrations, but the interest of the thing, as it seems to me, and the value of it from the point of view of the case of Newfoundland, is this: therefore, if you are going to take that portion of the Coast of Labrador which it is expedient to re-annex—

The LORD CHANCELLOR: This cannot be 1755, this must be after 1763, must not it?

Sir JOHN SIMON: No, because the mark which you have called attention to was believed to be put on the map afterwards. 1 believe 1 am right in saying that John Mitchell had produced his map about 1755.

p. 64

Mr. MACMILLAN: The original map was 1755, and then a number of things were washed into the map afterwards.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It was a sort of map of reference. What the Lord Chancellor not unnaturally noted, which indicated something later than 1755, was something put in. There are much later things than that in it, if your Lordship is interested to know. There is, for example, an extremely interesting thing; there is a reference to Mr. Oswald's boundary, the boundary as described by Mr. Oswald. It is that red line which runs through Lake Erie. Mr. Oswald was the British representative, or one of the British representatives, who took part in the negotiations which led to the Treaty of Versailles which ended the War of Independence and established the boundaries of the United States of America; so that was after 1783, and that is one of the reasons why I should rather have thought that King George III might have spent a few interesting hours on this document. I am only using it as an illustration. What I am pointing out to the Board, as well as I can, is: how very much this view of the geography strengthens my case. It is absolutely consistent with the view that “the said coasts of Labrador” in the document of 1763, did not mean a mere selvedge, but, on the contrary, meant the area of land draining to that sea.

Viscount HALDANE: Labrador and New Britain meant all the green here?

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am not on the label; I am on the point that if you look at this map and then read the language of the Section in the Act of 1825, you begin to see why it is that they said “Go up to parallel 52 and cut of so much of the coast of Labrador as parallel 52 will cut off,” because you observe, amongst other things, that the head waters of the River St. John are just about parallel 52. I may say this is the more striking because it has been discovered within the last few years, quite recently, since this controversy arose with Canada, that as a matter of fact the River St. John was not as long a river as people thought, and there had been for many years a confusion; it has been supposed that a river which lies in the upper part there, was the upper waters of the River St. John, whereas in truth and in fact it is the upper waters of another and adjoining river.

Viscount FINLAY: An adjoining river, not a tributary?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, a separate river called the Romaine.

Viscount HALDANE: The Romaine goes much further north according to the map.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am dealing with the thing as it actually is to-day; whatever the name used to be, to-day you will find the

p. 65

St. John is quite a small stream, but we have to look at it with the eyes of 1825.

Viscount FINLAY: My recollection of the map is what my noble and learned friend has stated; it would seem that the head waters of that river would take it a great deal further.

Sir JOHN SIMON: In fact, it is almost impossible to read that into it. Please do not for a moment pay any attention to my casual observation; I will check it. I was only telling your Lordship as a matter of fact that the course of the River St. John was not quite what these maps suppose.

Viscount HALDANE: You say on this map the St. John goes up apparently to the fifty-second parallel.

Sir JOHN SIMON: So it does in a great number; in fact I do not know of any map down to this where it does not.

Viscount FINLAY: It is a very odd sort of corner. Was it ever put on paper in the form of a map until this Atlas was put in?

Sir JOHN SIM0N: I thank the Ministry of the Interior of Canada and the Ministry of Railway and every other Ministry that Canada has ever had, because they have been recording this boundary ever since with the greatest regularity.

Viscount FINLAY: In the same shape?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Certainly, there is nothing else. We will show you, if it is material, that they have in express terms stated that this is the boundary and it is derived from the Act of 1825.

Viscount HALDANE: They have always worked upon this map?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Always. What I am saying is: What an extraordinary thing! You say in 1825 you are going to carry out the expedient purpose of re-annexing to Quebec a certain portion of the said coast, and that you should do it by travelling 40 miles inland and running along the fifty-second parallel, which the maps of the period show to be the height of land, and yet at the same time you come and tell me that the only subject matter Parliament was dealing with was this tape or strip.

Viscount HALDANE: When I referred to the green that is there, I did not quite appreciate the importance of the reference to the source


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