Confederation
1864-1949



The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


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Volume XI
Contents

Volume XII








22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Mr. Macmillan.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

The Lord Chancellor.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

The Lord Chancellor.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.


p. 136

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think the map he must have been referring to—in fact, I think we have identified it—is that one in our Atlas, No. 35, which your Lordship looked at earlier in the day, where you called my attention to the phrase “supposed boundary.” I think he must have had this map before him. It is on rather a small scale, and when you look at the map to see what it means, it is on so small a scale that you can hardly see it, but it looks as though it indicated some sort of water channel which cut across the yellow and got into the white.

Mr. MACMILLAN: That is quite a common feature of several of the maps. They did not know the location of the North West River in those days, and they drew it debouching into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There are several instances of that.

Sir JOHN SIMON: There are, but at the same time I should hardly have thought they would not have known by the year 1878—

Mr. MACMILLAN: In 1888, ten years later.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I was saying I should hardly think that those persons in 1878 who were really devoting themselves to geography would not have found out that there was a North West River in Hamilton Inlet. However, it does not matter. It is rather plainer on this other one. I do not know whether your Lordship cares to see it.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: No, I can see it on this map.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Now, my Lords, that is starting a chase which went on for some time, and, as sometimes happens, I think the cautious, and I dare say acute, judicial view which urges that something quite explicit should be done is not quite the same as the possibly dilatory but certainly vague policy which postpones the precise decision; and from this time forward Mr. Justice Pinsent for some time is pressing the point. At page 346 it is interesting to observe that at any rate Sir John Macdonald, who was Prime Minister of Canada, thought, and very properly thought, that his official map was perfectly right and that there was no difficulty about it. He quotes the Act and he says: “If any maps have been issued in Canada showing other boundaries than these they are inaccurate. The undersigned therefore recommends that this despatch be referred to the Minister of the Interior, with instructions to make full inquiries as to the issue of the said maps and to report as to the best means of correcting any such errors.” You will find in a moment he comes to the conclusion that there is not any error.
Mr. Johnston, a very well-known name in connection with map-making, on page 347 makes a memorandum. If I understand rightly, Mr. Johnston was the Canadian geographer. He was, I think, a relation, at any rate, of the very well-known Edinburgh firm, and I

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rather think that when Lord Dufferin went out to Canada, he took with him Mr. Johnston, who became Geographer, and there is no doubt Mr. Johnston's views on these matters are quite important. Mr. Johnston made memorandum which he addressed to an official in the Canadian Government. He says: “With reference to the memorandum of Sir John Macdonald hereunder (10th May, 1889) and the despatch of the Secretary of State for the Colonies (9th April, 1889), I find the jurisdiction of Newfoundland in Labrador more fully defined in the ‘Imperial Letters Patent’ (28th March, 1876)” and so on. Then he says at line 23: “On the sketch map which I have prepared to accompany this memorandum, taken from the maps of British North America, by Arrowsmith, of London, and W. and A. K. Johnston, of Edinburgh, it will be seen that the custom has been to make the boundary of Labrador, southerly, from Cape Chudleigh (at the ocean entrance to Hudson's Strait, along the height of land) to the undefined northern boundary of Lower Canada (now Quebec), thence easterly and south along the said northern boundary of Lower Canada and Anse Sablon. It does not appear that this line was intended by the geographers to represent the boundary of the territory in Labrador under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland, but must probably be the dividing line between Labrador and what was supposed to he Hudson's Bay Company's territory. The name ‘Labrador’ or ‘Peninsula of Labrador,’ in its full geographical application, has been generally understood to cover the whole region between the Atlantic Ocean and the east coast of Hudson's Bay, as evidenced by the earliest maps of the country. On the map of the Dominion, published from time to time by this department, the same system of drawing the Labrador line has been followed as on the British maps, but we have invariably taken the precaution to show it in a dotted line with the words supposed or undefined applied to it.”
Mr. Johnston there is not quite accurate. They have done so sometimes, but not always. “My impression is that nothing more was intended than a comparatively narrow strip along the coast (coloured pink), which would include the fishing stations, missions, Hudson's Bay Company's posts, etc., and such a strip, probably, is all that is included in Imperial instructions to the Governor of Newfoundland, as indicated in his despatch to the Colonial Secretary, 27th February, 1889. He writes: ‘The frontier laid down by the Dominion Government . . . does not correspond . . . with that laid down in my instructions, thus leaving a large tract between the two lines which is under no one.’ The so-called neutral tract referred to here, I have no doubt, is that coloured yellow on the sketch map, and which is, beyond question, a part of the ‘territorial transfer’ made to Canada by the Imperial Government in 1880.” Then he quotes Mr. Justice Pinsent. And then he goes on to say: “It is hardly necessary to remark that Canada has not defined any line between the two colonies, either on official maps or otherwise, and, so far as I am aware, the question is now placed before the Dominion Government by the Colonial Secretary for the first time. At present the best maps of the interior of Labrador (as might be expected) are very inaccurate and misleading in their character, being largely made up from the crude sketches of Hudson's Bay Company's officers,

p. 138

supplemented by Indian reports. A map is now, however, being prepared in this department, under my own supervision, which will be ready for the printer in a few weeks, and which will contain the latest and most reliable information in relation to the geography of the Labrador region.” What he encloses is something which he has prepared in which he draws a substantial coast selvedge cutting across at Rigolet, but in other respects, as far as I can see, including the backs of the bays; and then, having indicated a sort of watershed, he says of the yellow portion: “Presumed to be part of the ` ‘territorial transfer’ made to Canada by the Imperial Government in September, 1880.” There is nothing whatever contemporaneous with the Order-in-Council of 1880, so far as I know, which indicates, or indeed suggests, that the motive of the Order-in-Council of 1880 had to do with this area. There were very large areas which no doubt were affected.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Is he right in saying that the wavy line along the heights corresponds with the eastern boundary of the Hudson's Bay territory?

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: I see on the map he says, at the line dividing the green from the yellow: “Watershed: formerly the easterly limits of H.B.”

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Is he right in saying that?

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think what one can say about that is this. That is certainly the view that is expressed in the House of Commons map of 1857. That is in the Newfoundland Atlas Map No. 26.

Viscount HALDANE: What he is suggesting is that there is a definite transfer to Quebec, but all the rest is undisposed of.

Sir JOHN SIMON: That is what he is suggesting.

Viscount HALDANE: That is what his map shows.

Sir JOHN SIMON: His map is drawn to accompany his particular despatch. Nobody had ever done it before. I was just going to trace it back by reminding the Lord Chancellor, if I might, that I think it is reasonable to say that the green on Map No. 26 verges on the pink on the height of land. That is by no means limited to that, however. It is to be found again and again in the older maps so far as the Hudson's Bay is concerned. Indeed, it was one of the points that I was seeking to make earlier in the argument. For instance, it is put in an obscure form in some of the quite early ones, and in a more precise form later on. Take Map No. 12. That is a very important map. I am going to call attention to some commentary on it at some time. Map No. 12 is Bellin's map, 1755. Here you have, as you see from the legend: “Les possessions des François sont colorées en bleu; celles des Anglois sont colorées en

p. 139

jaune.” He therefore is colouring the Hudson's Bay territory by this verging yellow line, and though one cannot be quite sure, I think there is no doubt that that is intended to be the height of land. Would your Lordship observe the words “Hauteur des terres” on the boundary between the yellow and the blue on the meridian 95?

Lord SUMNER: You notice that to the left of the words “Hauteur des terres” there is also the phrase “Grande étendue de pays entièrement inconnue.”

Sir JOHN SIMON: That is quite true, but the two things are not only not contradictory, but, if I may say so with great respect, deal with quite different points. The proposition that my territory goes back to the height of land is a proposition which is neither advanced nor impeded by the further proposition that I cannot tell you on this map how many miles that will be.

Lord SUMNER: Oh, no; but it is indicated where the height of land is in a territory which is entirely unknown. If you content yourself by saying, wherever it is when it is found out in this unknown land, that will be the limit to your territory, then there will be no contradiction. He has not found it out.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Quite so. He is a more honest geographer than some.

Lord SUMNER: I thought the point might be of some value to you yesterday in this connection as evidence that in those days, at any rate, it was taken for granted that the height of land was a natural frontier of a country, approaching from the sea. Even although you could not tell where it was, there must be one. Therefore when you get there you will have discovered the undiscovered boundary.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Explore another avenue. Your case is that the Coast of Labrador runs back to the height of land. It seems you may also say that at that point it runs back to the Hudson's Bay boundary. It is the same thing.

Sir JOHN SIMON : Yes.

The LORD CHANCELLOR : That is all there is of Labrador.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes. If you remember, my Lord, I called attention to that view very early in the argument yesterday. Of course, when you have first the Hudson's Bay territory granted—which I asked the Board for the moment to assume meant the territory running back to the height of land—and then you proceed, by the Commission to Graves, to say that the Governor of Newfoundland is to have jurisdiction on the Coast of Labrador beginning at the entrance to Hudson's Straits,

p. 140

it perhaps is worth noting that that is, if I am right, beginning at the point where the Hudson's Bay territory ends, and if it was a question of going back and tracing the boundary, again if I am right, the same height of land serves both purposes.

Lord SUMNER: I think you will find that in the sixteenth and seventeenth century geography “coast” is constantly used merely for that line that you approach from the sea. There were half-a-dozen separate coasts in the Bight of Benin—the Guinea Coast, the Slave Coast, the Gold Coast, the Ivory Coast, etc. There is the Coromandel Coast in Southern India, and there is the Mosquito Coast, and two or three others in the Gulf of Mexico, none of which, as far as I have understood, had any definition involving the proposition that you could not go extending into the interior. And if you come to consider the extension made in the eighteenth century by the American colonists, they claimed the right to proceed across the continent until they came to the sea on the other side as inherent in the fact that they were colonists upon an Atlantic coast.

Sir JOHN SIMON: True. But the last view, of course, is undoubtedly taking the thing on quite a different line. That is disregarding mountains, and it was a bad claim.

Lord SUMNER: It appears to have been the idea that you landed on a coast for the purpose of going into the interior when you were ready to go.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes. May I take up the illustration your Lordships give? We have prepared ourselves—and I have here the assistance of a whole book about them—instances like that for the purpose of showing to what extent the coast, in cases of that sort, really meant what you may call the basin drained as between two points on the coastline. Directly, in answer to the Lord Chancellor, I say that the view that the boundaries of the Hudson's Bay territory were discoverable, I will not say identified, is strongly confirmed by such a map as this. It is true that you find the words “Hauteur des terres” where the land is unknown, but it is material to observe that you get the words “Hauteur des terres” over again when you are getting to much better known land. You get it at the southern point, and I am not sure whether you do not get it a third time. Anyhow, there is no question that the line is drawn with the intention of showing how far the Hudson's Bay territory would extend, if this map indicates accurately the river systems running into Hudson's Bay. There is no doubt about that.
Then the next thing is this. That view prevailed so far as the Hudson's Bay Company was concerned throughout, and here I can give the Lord Chancellor the answer to a question he asked me yesterday which for the moment I was not able to deal with. If you look at the variation of the boundary which on some of the maps is called the

[1927lab]




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