The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

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22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

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.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

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the bays, live in the winter almost entirely on hunting and trapping for furs, and that this occupation takes them, like the Indians, far into the interior. So far as I can see this must always have been so ever since settlers have been on the Labrador, for no other means of livelihood than furring is available for them in the winter.”
Then the next gentleman is Dr. Grieve, and his affidavit appears on page 1483. He is a gentleman who went up to the Northern districts; but there again I think your Lordship's comment is correct; he does not help one about how far he penetrates from the sea boundary.

Lord SUMNER: In paragraph 3 he speaks of travelling with dog teams. He could not travel from Anticosti to Okkak without going a very long distance.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord; I am much obliged. I had not noticed that.
The next affidavit is one by Mr. Berteau. That is important, and, of course, so is the matter to which my Lord Sumner called attention. Mr. Berteau is the Comptroller and Auditor-General of Newfoundland, and he says: “In 1881 I was appointed by the Newfoundland Government Collector of Customs at Rigolet and Magistrate for Labrador, and held the appointment for nine years. During those years the Hudson's Bay Company were the principal direct importers to Labrador, but Nova Scotia traders also visited the coast. We made them all pay duties to the Newfoundland Government. As far as the Hudson's Bay Company was concerned, we collected duties in respect of goods intended for use at Rigolet, North West River, Cartwright, Davis Inlet, Nachvak, or for trading with the Indians in the interior.” Now observe what the contrast was, “but not on those intended for use at Ungava.” You will see, of course, that the Ungava Bay has never been, and we have never suggested it was, Newfoundland territory. Consequently, supposing you have goods calling at, let us say, Hamilton Inlet, and there are goods for Ungava Bay, they do not go inland; they go by sea round about. Then in that event, because they are going to Ungava Bay, they are not required to pay customs duty. I do not suppose that they have any elaborate system with bonded warehouses, but you see the reason: there is a significance in that, because you will observe what the distinction is. Here are your goods coming in. Where are they going to? If they are going to Ungava Bay, they are outside. On the other hand, if your goods are going “for trading with the Indians in the interior,” it is all, as far as we understand it, within the jurisdiction of Newfoundland. “When the goods for the Company were of American origin they were brought from Canada in bond and when they had been landed duty paid I cancelled the bonds. Tobacco and other material from Canada on which excise duty would be payable if it was put into consumption was similarly dealt with. Where the goods were of Canadian production I levied duties on them just as if they were coming into a port in the Island of Newfoundland. 3. On several occasions I went up North West River and up the lakes and streams and saw the

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Indians who came out each summer. 4. I performed magisterial duties where necessary.” I told you this famous dispute about salmon was settled. Here it is. “I remember determining a dispute between Fortescue, chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, and McLean, in relation to the alleged barring by the latter of the River Kinnamish against salmon. I decided after inquiry that Fortescue's claim failed.” I think Mr. Berteau's testimony perhaps is required rather to fill in the picture.

If we might just go on in this volume to pick the matters up, page 1489 shows that as early as 1836 complaint was made by persons settled on the coast of Labrador, which may be summarised by saying they did not believe in taxation without representation. They were saying: You have a Legislature which is composed of persons elected from various constituencies in the Island of Newfoundland; you have not a system by which we who live in Labrador, have votes and members, and that being so, they went so far as to say: You cannot tax us. That was fallacious, but they said, at any rate, “You ought not to tax us.” You will observe here that Governor Prescott, who was the Governor at the time, is being pressed by Lord Glenelg, who was Colonial Secretary, and he says: “ The Petitioners protest against the right of the Legislature of Newfoundland, in which they are not represented, to make laws binding on them, and record their belief that they are still under the authority of the King in Council, expressing at the same time their wish to remain so. In this view of their situation the Petitioners are evidently in error. By Statutes 49 George III. C. 27, & 6 George IV. C. 59, as well as by the Royal Commissions to Sir Thomas Cochrane and to yourself, the Coast of Labrador to the Eastward of a line drawn due north and south from the Harbour of Anse Sablon to the 52º north latitude is annexed to the Colony of Newfoundland. The authority, therefore, of the Legislature of Newfoundland to pass laws for the government of the settlers at Labrador”—nothing in the world to do with regulating a cod fishery—“cannot be disputed; but at the same time the claim of those settlers to be represented in the Colonial Legislature demands, and ought to receive, a deliberate consideration.” I cannot help sympathising with the complaint of these people for this reason, that if you look at that Commission, which you did glance at, to Governor Cochrane, in the previous volume, you will find that one of the things he is authorised to do is to convoke a legislative assembly of freeholders and householders within the Island and dependencies, and, as a matter of fact, when it came to the practical business of producing a Legislature, it was not, I suppose, found practicable, owing to the small population, or distance, or what not, and the only people who did sit in the Legislature came from the Island, I think it would be as well to appreciate that in Volume II, page 723, the Commission to Governor Cochrane authorised him to convoke a Legislative Assembly of freeholders and householders within the Island of Newfoundland and its dependencies. That is quite inconsistent with the idea, of course, that the only thing which the Newfoundland Government was doing on the dependencies or the mainland was simply

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having under its care and supervision a fishery. This complaint being made, it becomes a matter of controversy which does not really lead to much. You will see on page 1491 that there is a memorial at the bottom of the page addressed to the Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, by merchants engaged in the fisheries on the coast of Labrador. These people are contending that really and truly there is only an Admiralty jurisdiction on the coast and that that is not, therefore, an area in respect of which the Legislature of Newfoundland can exact taxes. It encloses the document which follows, which is on page 1493, and the comment on it is on some pages which follow, and which are not in a very convenient order. On page 1495 Governor Prescott writes to Lord John Russell and acknowledges the dispatch and says: “The Memorial of certain merchants addressed to your Lordship on which my report is now required refers to Lord Glenelg's said letter and impugns His Lordship's reasoning, but until I am better informed I must believe that every part of this Government, in which a large portion of the Labrador Coast is included, is subject to the laws, whether fiscal or otherwise, of the Colonial Legislature—by an early Act of which the Labrador Court which had existed for several years was abolished in June 1834.” They were complaining, also, that there was no constant Court there. On page 1496 comes a letter from the Secretary of State, signed, I think, by his representative, one of the officials of the Colonial Office, saying: “With reference to my letter of the 2nd of last March acquainting you that the Memorial enclosed in your letter of the 25th of February preceding, which complained of an attempt of the authorities of Newfoundland to levy duties on the Labrador Coast, would be referred to the Governor of the Colony for his Report, I am desired by Lord John Russell to inform you that the Report which has been lately received from the Governor gives His Lordship no reason to doubt that the Labrador Coast as a dependency of Newfoundland is subject to the same laws, whether fiscal or otherwise, to which every part of the Island is amenable; and that, although from the imperfect machinery of the Collection, some parties on the Coast of Labrador may have evaded the duties, no payment has been exacted that was not strictly due.” A number of documents follow, all of which I have read, but which I think I can save your Lordships the trouble of reading by saying that they reinforce that point rather elaborately, but do not, I think, add anything very material beyond that. On page 1533 you will see an indication in a letter from Mr. Donald A. Smith (who is, of course, Lord Strathcona) reporting to his own Governor—this is a letter between Mr. Smith and the Hudson's Bay Company—that he consents to pay duties on the coasts of Labrador under protest; a very good business to pay duties under protest; he does not give the reason that he wants to pay duties to somebody else. He says: “For the other goods from England and Canada, all of which were landed at North West River, the Jacques Cartier being there at the moment, I declined paying, holding that he and the Judge, who accompanied him to this place, had no jurisdiction at North West River. This he argued for some time, of course, professing to view the matter differently, but finally withdrew

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without receiving the duties.” If that is traced through, you will find the duties were paid. Protests were made at different times, and, so far as I can see, in the end you find that that particular controversy dropped. Whether that is so or not, there follow some documents which really put it beyond question. Will your Lordship just take these references to three of four of the statements that are included in this volume. On page 1559 you will find an affidavit by a gentleman named Mr. Blake; he is an old inhabitant and he gives a very interesting account of what he has been doing. “I, Thomas Blake, make oath and say as follows:—I live at Mulligan, about 20 miles below North West River”—that is to say, where the North West River comes out, I suppose—“and about 120 miles from the sea coast”—he means the general run of the sea coast—“I was born in Hamilton Inlet about 66 years ago. My father, William Blake, was born and lived and died here in the Inlet. He was 52 years old when he died. His father, William Blake, came from Devonshire, England, as a young man in the pioneer days of the fishing vessels sent out from England to fish on the coast during the summer season. My grandfather, my father and myself have lived in Hamilton Inlet about 140 years. I have gone into the interior about 184 miles from my home and lived there during the winter season trapping and hunting. I come out in the spring and fish for trout and salmon. I have been doing that for over fifty years. We have owned and occupied the land where I now reside during my father's lifetime and my own. Although living so far up the Inlet and in the interior of the country (being about 220 miles from the coast) I have always considered myself a citizen of Newfoundland, as my father did before me. We have been subject to the laws of Newfoundland and have paid revenue to the Customs ever since the first Revenue Collector came on the Labrador. I remember when the Court was held here at Rigolet by Judge Sweetland and afterwards by Judge Pinsent. I paid revenue to the Collector of Customs, or Customs official, that came with these Judges. I have never had anything to do with the Government of Canada, and I have never obeyed or been asked to comply with any of its laws or rules or directions in connection with the interior of the country, the game laws or fishery laws, nor paid any tax or revenue to any official of the Government of Canada. I have always believed that the land that I have resided on, trapped over and used in the interior, was the Dominion of the Government of Newfoundland and always looked to the Governor and Government of Newfoundland as the rulers of the country.”

Viscount FINLAY: Is there any conflict of opinion on these points?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Very little. I must not overburden the Board by reading more than is right; I am selecting out of a rather large body of evidence things which I think will put it most pointedly. Really the answer to your Lordship's question is, I really believe not. We are not able on our side, of course, to offer you proof of so detailed, persistent and thoroughgoing occupation and administration as, of course, you

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would have in a more developed country; of course not. Indeed, the place is wild, and there is a great deal of it which nobody knows much about even to–day. So far as I know, as against that, there is nothing in these volumes at all to show that the Canadian Government has ever taken an effective part in the jurisdiction, or in revenue matters, or the like, until some extremely belated attempts which, as you will see in a moment, are actually after the dispute has arisen. Since the dispute has arisen, it is wonderful how extraordinarily active the rival Government can be.
That is Mr. Blake. The next one that I thought would be useful is on the next page, Mr. Goudy. He gives an illustration of a very similar sort. This is Joseph Goudy, of North West River. He says: “I am 73 years of age, 70 of which I have lived in this Bay, about 140 miles from the sea coast. I have been a fisherman, hunter and trapper all my lifetime. I have gone into the interior hunting and trapping when I was a young man, but not so far in as my sons go now. There was no necessity then, as fur–bearing animals were much nearer. My sons, Allan aged 36 and Charles aged 34, go in regularly every winter a distance of between two and three hundred miles. They have got a house in there, and stay there all the winter season and come out in the spring; nearly all the young men residing about here, and further on, do the same to my certain knowledge. I own a range of houses and traps for a distance of about 30 miles inland”—traps, of course, for catching the furry animals. “My house, outhouses and gardens, in all about a couple of acres, I have occupied for over 60 years. I have always paid Customs duties to the Government of Newfoundland on all that I bought or purchased. I remember when Judge Sweetland visited Rigolet and held Court there. I also knew Judge Pinsent, and also Mr. Winter, the Collector of Customs, who came with the Court. I have paid duties to the Government of Newfoundland ever since duties have been collected. Although residing up here in the interior of the Labrador, I have always considered myself a citizen of Newfoundland, and subject to its laws and government. It is Newfoundland laws we have to go by. I have never had anything to do with Canada, nor any persons representing the Government of Canada, have never paid any duty to them, and have never obeyed any of their laws or rules and regulations.”
The next one I was going to take is page 1562, the affidavit of Mr. Parsons, now apparently of Montreal. He says: “I spent 25 years on the Labrador Peninsula. I was two years at Cartwright and five at Rigolet.”

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: Where is Cartwright?

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is south of Hamilton Inlet.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: In the last affidavit, Goudy talks about land which he had bought and purchased in the interior and paid duty on. It would be very interesting


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