Confederation
1864-1949



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
Contents

Volume XII








22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

The Lord Chancellor.

Sir John Simon.


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artificially limited, in the way suggested; nothing whatever. I had dealt, I think, with page 1454.

Page 1460 is a page which is perhaps worth glancing at. Judge Pinsent is reporting what he did in the year 1869. He describes how he has dealt with some serious cases. At the bottom of page 1461 he says: “I sentenced the offenders to six months imprisonment with hard labour in Her Majesty's Gaol at St. John's.” Then he says that he brought the men from Labrador to St. John's in the circuit vessel; so that apparently one of the gentlemen in question started his sentence by having two months on board a ship. He cannot have been very comfortable.

Then on page 1462, at line 18, there is an account given again of the salmon fishery, and in the middle of that page he says this: “I am gratified to be able to state, and I have good reason to believe, that the condition of the resident inhabitants of Labrador will next winter be much better with respect to food than it was last winter. These residents, not having vessels and other means of leaving their own localities, were last summer fortunately obliged to remain home, where they did much better in the fishery than if they had come to Cape Harrison and its neighbourhood; they have consequently been able, generally, to lay in a sufficient stock of provisions for the winter. The census of the resident population of Labrador, from Blanc Sablon to Cape Harrison inclusive, has this summer been taken by order of the Government. The total number is 2,479, comprising”—so and so. Then it goes on: “In this number about 300 Indians and half–breeds of the Esquimaux and Mountaineer races are included. They reside chiefly in the magnificent bay called Hamilton Inlet and that neighbourhood.”—This is a little important for me, and it will help your Lordships if I indicate now why it is important.

There is an important argument to be considered here in the Canadian case, suggesting that Labrador cannot be regarded as having been exhaustively dealt with by this allocation between Newfoundland and Quebec, because this would be wholly contrary to the policy (of which you may find considerable traces in some documents) of making provision for the Indian population. It is perfectly true that the provisions for what were called the Indian lands, when arrangements were made after the Treaty of Paris in 1763, are quite plain and prominent; but I am going to submit to your Lordships, and I think I can satisfy your Lordships, that the reference to Indian lands in these 18th century arrangements is not a reference to just a few people who are on Hamilton Inlet. It is hundreds and thousands of miles away from the area which is really being pointed to. The area of Indian lands in the 18th century, though not very precisely defined, was a very important tract. There was a distinction drawn between the portion of the territory which you might call the territories of His Majesty, and the territory which you might call Indian lands. The reason for that (if I may tell your Lordships now, because it is very important to have it in mind) was this: during the 18th century, and during the conflicts which may be said to have

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come to a head at the time of the Seven Years War, but which, as far as the American continent had been concerned, had been spasmodic for some time before that, the English policy had been a policy—and we always prided ourselves upon it—that we were very careful not only to make bargains and treaties with the Indians, but to keep them. The well—known phrase “Bury the hatchet” as a matter of fact comes down from the time when one of these treaties was most solemnly entered into after there had been a controversy with the Indian tribes, and there was a solemn digging of a hole and burying of a hatchet. That is what that comes from.
But all that was on a wholly different area of country, which I can for the moment briefly describe as the area of the Great Lakes. If your Lordships remember Fenimore Cooper, and that sort of delightful literature, those Indian tribes with the splendid names were to be found in that area, very largely in an area which is now the United States. And really the notion that the authorities, when they were engaged in dealing with Labrador, a practically unpopulated region, were as a main object of their policy providing for Esquimaux on Hamilton Inlet, is quite fantastic.
The reason why I call attention to this on page 1462 about the Esquimaux and the Mountaineer races is this, that as a matter of fact these poor people, of whom there were very few and who were very degraded, I am afraid, or at any rate very undeveloped, are described as “residing chiefly in the magnificent bay called Hamilton Inlet and that neighbourhood. Most of them are connected with the Hudson Bay Company. The half-breeds, who have sprung of Europeans and Indians, are docile, decent and intelligent, they speak good English and are fond of learning to read and write. They are employed”—here we are again, Lord Haldane—“in the salmon fishery in summer, and in furring in winter, catching only a little cod in the fall of the year, for their own consumption. On the whole they make out a tolerably comfortable living. In the summer the coast of Labrador swarms with thousands of people from Newfoundland, who engage in the cod, herring and salmon fisheries during the season—and return in the Fall to their own country. They are, of course, not included in the Labrador census.”
That is the picture which seems to me to be drawn by reading these documents as impartially as an advocate can. I am really trying to save the time of the Tribunal by giving them what I think is the fair impression. The picture you get is that this area was an area which from very early times was regarded as principally, and almost exclusively, important as a nursery for seamen and as the site of a most valuable fishery. The fishery was far from being limited to cod, because there was also a fishery in salmon and other fish, for example, seals, which, of course, are found in the bay. This fishing population was migratory, or, rather, was in the nature of an annual visitant; they came in the spring and went away in the winter. That is the method that is employed. But side by side with that, there was a small body of people who were inhabitants in a permanent sense. There is a very curious word which you find used again and again, and which I am

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told is current in that part of the world: they are called “Livyers,” meaning, apparently, people who live there; and these people, the permanent inhabitants, are there in quite small numbers. Naturally, of course, their base of operations is close to the sea water–line, but when their business calls for it they are to be found some distance inland; and there is a body of testimony to which I must call attention at some stage, which goes to show that there are people who are living, and permanently living, in what they always supposed to be Newfoundland jurisdiction, a long way up the various rivers, away altogether from the salt water, some of them living there permanently, some living there for half the year, and so on.
Therefore the problem is to apply to a peninsula which has those general features the language of these documents, statutory and prerogative documents. And, in doing so, is there any reason for denying what unquestionably was the understanding of everybody for a very long time, that one went up to the height of the land?
Now, my Lords, I had got as far as page 1462. Page 1464 is the report for the year 1870. I will try to save time about it, but it is referring again and again to the salmon fishery and so on, and on page 1466 it refers to the schools. In the middle of that page it gives you a list of the schools. They are on a very modest scale.
Then on page 1469 you get the report for the next year, and you get a mention now of a mail steamer. That is on page 1470. On that page, after again referring to the salmon and again referring to education, four public schools—the report says, at about line 25: “The medicines placed by the Government at my disposal I dispensed to all who required them.” And then at line 28 it says: “The Mail Service for Labrador introduced by the Government last summer was doubtless of great utility and convenience generally to the merchants and fishermen engaged in the trade and fisheries of that coast; but I know that the mercantile house at Blanc Sablon, the southern extremity of our territory and the Hudson Bay Company at Rigoulette, Hamilton Inlet in the North are dissatisfied that the postal steamer does not call on those places, as they are thus practically excluded from the advantages enjoyed by the rest of the mercantile community.”
Then it is rather interesting to see, on page 1475, that you do get migratory Indians who sometimes come across. In fact, there is a lot of material to show that some of these Indians, whose natural habitat is on the bank of the Gulf of St. Lawrence—they come, for instance, from places like Seven Islands, and Mingan, all in the Quebec territory—travel up the valleys; they make their way over the highlands and then trek or come down to the Labrador coast. Thus you get, for example, in 1873, on page 1475, this sort of report from Judge Pinsent: “This season we went in our vessel where I had not been before, to the N.W. River at the head of the magnificent bay called Hamilton Inlet”—your Lordships see where the North–West River is indicated—‒for the purpose of enabling Mr. Crowdy to vaccinate the Indians ”—apparently this is one of the blessings of civilisation which Newfoundland has been spreading in that part of the world—“to

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vaccinate the Indians belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, who have their principal Labrador establishment there, and where Mr. Connolly, their chief officer, resides. It was owing to his representation and request last year that the Government determined to send a medical man to Labrador, for the purpose of vaccinating the inhabitants. Mr. Crowdy performed the operation on all the Indians here assembled, nearly two hundred men, women and children. These Indians are from Canada and the Mountaineer race—they speak the Indian language and follow the Indian mode of living. It was curious and interesting to see them encamped in their birchrind covered wigwams, at N.W. River, employed in building and repairing canoes and other work, preparatory to their journey into the interior of the country for hundreds of miles, on their annual furring expedition, for which purpose they are supplied by the Hudson's Bay Company. In these journeys all go—men, women and children; they travel by land and water, ascending rivers, crossing lakes and passing through woods and over barrens. They start from N.W. River in the summer and return the following spring with their catch of furs. They are Roman Catholics and are attended by a clergyman who comes down for that purpose every summer. These Indians are quite a different race from the Esquimaux who inhabit the north coast of Labrador, and who generally occupy themselves in catching fish and seals.” Then on the next page he reports that the mail service is improving.
Then, on page 1478, you get the report of another Judge, Judge McNeil, and again there is a great deal about the salmon fishery and the settlers. The idea that the Newfoundland Government is concerning itself with a merely transitory population is really utterly contradicted by these documents, and I do not think it can stand for a moment when they are examined.
Then on page 1480 comes a record which brings to an end my second period, namely, a record that the Newfoundland Executive decided to dispense with a separate Judge of the Labrador Court. They have relied, for a considerable time which follows this period, upon help given by medical missionaries or J.P.'s, and sometimes by other persons, and they have found, in the primitive condition of things, or they have thought, that that was satisfactory.
Then there follows au affidavit, and I think your Lordships may as well look at it now. It is the affidavit of Dr. Macpherson, and it is on page 1481. There is a very great deal of testimony of all sorts and kinds in these volumes. I am not going to offer to read more than a small part of it, but I will read what I think is significant. Here is Dr. Macpherson, who says: “I served as a medical officer on the Labrador”—he is using an expression which is so common—“for a period of nearly 3 years between 1901 and 1904. I went there originally as a medical missionary with Dr. Grenfell and was then employed by the Newfoundland Government to prevent the spread into Newfoundland Labrador of an outbreak of small–pox in Canadian Labrador. In the course of this work I vaccinated many persons in Newfoundland Labrador and made journeys into Canadian Labrador to treat small–pox

p. 125

cases, as there was no medical officer there. After this work I rejoined the Grenfell Mission until my return to general practice in St. John's Newfoundland, in 1904. While on the Labrador, Battle Harbour was my headquarters. I went as far West as Bradore, some 10 miles West of the boundary, between Newfoundland and Canada, and as far North as Rigolet.” . . . . Now, my Lords, “some 10 miles West of the boundary” means that he has passed from the green into the pink.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Bradore is just to the left of the line.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord, that is what he means by “Canadian Labrador.” He says that he thought the disease was creeping up, and he is not only a person who has been dealing with the matter in Newfoundland Labrador, but he says: “I passed the boundary and I went as far as Bradore.” Then he says: “I did not go further north, since there was a doctor at North West River, and another with the Moravians at Hopedale.” That, you will find, is one of the bays further on. Your Lordship's eye will probably catch that.—“I used to spend both winter and summer on the Labrador. I exercised authority there under a commission appointing me a Justice of Peace. I was also appointed a Commissioner of the Newfoundland Supreme Court. I tried cases alone and in conjunction with Dr. Grenfell. There was never any difficulty in enforcing our decisions, which were accepted without question. I was also empowered by the Newfoundland Government as Relieving Officer to relieve cases of distress at the Government's expense when I thought such a course desirable. I frequently availed myself of this authority, the traders on the Labrador furnishing the necessary supplies at my order and claiming the price from the Government. I relieved Indians and Eskimos when necessary as well as white settlers. I further held the magisterial enquiries, which are equivalent in Newfoundland law to coroner's inquisitions, in the case of deaths in Newfoundland Labrador, when it seemed necessary. In my time the river at Blanc Sablon was generally assumed to be the boundary between Newfoundland and Canadian territories. Accordingly, when I was in 1902 trying to prevent the spread of small-pox, I had the bridge over the river destroyed and stationed a policeman on the Newfoundland side and also put up a notice prohibiting intercourse from the Canadian side. From my experience I should say”—I do not think that paragraphs in affidavits which say that one Government is the friend and the other is not, have anything in the world to do with it.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: I do not see what there is in this affidavit. He does not say how far up he went, or anything of the kind.

Sir JOHN SIMON: No, my Lord. I think the last paragraph is a little important, where he says: “I further say, from my experience of the Labrador, that the permanent settlers, who live at the heads of

[1927lab]




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