The Labrador Boundary

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22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

p. 74

whole of Labrador, because Newfoundland ceased to have any area on the mainland at all.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Unless some portion of it was held by Hudson's Bay. There is rather an ambiguous line.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Your Lordship is right about that. That is how the matter stands.
Still perhaps keeping that map for a moment. if I may ask it, before the Board, I would like to return to the point which I was endeavouring to make just before the Committee adjourned yesterday. When we come to the Statute of 1825, which your Lordships will remember you were considering shortly before you rose yesterday, you observe the very striking fact that the statute is re-annexing to Quebec, which in the meantime has shrunken again, a portion of the coast of Labrador. That is the language of the statute and one naturally assumes therefore that if you can identify the area which is thus being made the subject of transfer this will throw some light on what is the meaning of “coast” in this connection, and will help one to judge whether the coast is a mere narrow selvedge or whether, on the contrary, it goes hack to the height of land. Now, my Lord, with that in mind—your Lordships will have this map no doubt, the top of it, in recollection and can examine it again if you think right—one must I think, be struck with the fact that a map of this sort and other maps also at the time showed that, if you started from Sandy Bay or Anse Sablon, as you are directed to do, and if you drew a line due North from Anse Sablon to the 52nd parallel (which is there quite close on the top of the map), and then travelled due West, you were as a matter of fact going up to the height of land as this map showed, you were reaching a parallel, the 52nd parallel of latitude, in which according to this map the head waters of the River St. John were; and you were therefore describing, almost describing by metes and bounds, my pink area, this oblong. And you find as this map showed, and as the fact is, that so far from being a mere selvedge or strip along the sea-shore, this part of the coast of Labrador, to use the language of the statute, is at the Western and of the pink it deep matter of 40 miles or thereabouts.


Sir JOHN SIMON: East, yes, my Lord, and owing to the configuration of the coast line a deeper matter, say, 120 miles, when you come to the other end. I venture to think that that is a very significant thing and the actual language used in the section is language upon which I most strongly rely.

Viscount HALDANE: Where is the 120 miles, I just want to see that?

Sir JOHN SIMON: I do not know whether your Lordship would allow me to stretch over and just point on the map. I can save your

p. 75

Lordship trouble, it is on the smaller map too. May I just point out what I mean, if I may use the original map for the moment? It is the same thing. What I mean, my Lord, is this, the 52nd parallel—

Viscount HALDANE: That is quite distinctly marked.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I do not think, if I may say so. the point I am putting is quite so easy for me to put on my little sketch map as it is on this original. The 52nd parallel is the parallel just at the top edge of this plan; the 52nd parallel is also the parallel in Which the head waters of the River St. John are indicated as rising. If I take Sandy Bay, or Anse Sablon, which is here (indicating), opposite Belle Isle, and if I do what the statute tells me to do, namely, cut off a portion of the said coast by drawing a line due north from Sandy Bay till I reach the 52nd parallel—

Viscount HALDANE: That is Blanc Sablon.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is, and then go west, I am, according to the information given me on that map, in fact, removing and annexing to Quebec something which I am told is coast, and which, according to the cartographer here and other similar maps, runs back to the height of land; and it is really very nearly meaningless to speak of this statutory re-transfer as a re-transfer of coast if, as a matter of fact, coast is this mere selvedge.

Viscount FINLAY: But where is such a selvedge defined?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Nowhere. Your Lordship means this mile?

Viscount FINLAY: Yes.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I do not, of course, desire to carry the argument into my friend's camp at this stage, but, of course, as I indicated to the Board yesterday, it does appear to me that when the turn comes for the Canadian case to be put before the Board, one of the most serious considerations to be weighed will be this: Where do you get this one mile—why one mile, why half a mile, why two miles? As I think Lord Finlay said yesterday, if you mean by a coast line a line, a line is a thing that has length without breadth.
But if, on the other hand. the word “coast,” both in these documents of grant and in the reputable maps of the period and also, I think, in the proper use of the English language, at any rate in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, perhaps even later—if it constantly indicated the slope of the land down to the water, so that the use of the expression in itself carried you back to what you may call a scientific boundary behind, then the whole thing is explained.

Viscount HALDANE: You have told us nothing, so far, about the

p. 76

Ashuanipi River and Lake; these, I take it, were inside, according to you, the height of land.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I would like to look at these. I have not the actual point of geography in mind. Are they on my little sketch map?

Viscount HALDANE: Yes, you see just about the blue line.

Sir JOHN SIMON: In the green?

Viscount HALDANE: Yes.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think it will be found that that does drain into the Hamilton River. That is the reason.

Viscount HALDANE: There is a group of them in the North East corner. I suppose you say all those are within the mountains?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lords. For the purposes of my argument, your Lordship will assume I have got here indicated correctly the way the water runs. Of course, it is a matter which could be checked on the ground.

Viscount HALDANE: I would have liked to have seen some representation of the mountains which formed the height of land; does that appear in any of the maps?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, I am going to put before your Lordships some of those which show it. The land rises, and you have a very considerable rise, as you pass up the Hamilton River; in fact, as your Lordships probably know, because recently it has become a matter of great interest, there is a very splendid fall of water in the Hamilton River, one of the finest falls of water in North America, and, of course, very valuable; and I am not surprised that people cast rather envious eyes on this fall; but it does not alter the fact that the water is flowing into the Atlantic, and if I am right as to the meaning of “the said Coasts,” that particular part is part of the territory which falls on my side of the line.

Viscount HALDANE: Will you tell me whether the hills and mountains which form the height of land run up to the, shall we call it, the green or the blue?

Sir JOHN SIMON: The green we will call it.

Viscount HALDANE: They go up round the height, and then do they come round to the East and follow the height right up to Cape Chidley?

p. 77

Sir JOHN SIMON: Your Lordship will appreciate the test (and I submit the right test if my submission is right) is the test of what is the divide, which way the water goes. Of course, the thing is not sloping down like the roof of a house from the ridge to the eaves; naturally there are very great variations, but at the same time the point is that there is, and must be, of course, scientifically and geographically, and there is, of course, a continuous line of which you can assert that water from Heaven that falls on one side of it, will run down until it passes out into the Atlantic between Cape Chidley and Blanc Sablon, and water on the other side of it will either run down into the water of the Hudson Bay, and therefore will traverse a part of the old Hudson Bay area, or else will run down into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and therefore was part of the old Quebec area; and given, of course, an irregular portion of the earth's surface—it is very mountainous, in fact the mountains go up to a considerable height—it follows necessarily that you are able in that way to divide the whole peninsula as between different (what we may call) natural units; and my case, and I venture to think much of the strength of my case, is this: that those responsible for attributing these different areas to one authority or the other were not leaving this whole thing to guesswork or fancy at some time hereafter, but they were using expressions which, by their very nature, provided the formula for a scientific boundary without the need of further direction.

Viscount HALDANE: I will tell you a thing which puzzles me: the George River, which is further North, seems to run through the heights of land.

Sir JOHN SIMON: If I may say so, that is either because my map is not quite so perfect or just because it is a little difficult to read. It is not so. The George River is not connected with the Fraser River. Does your Lordship see the Fraser River in the green? The Fraser River takes its rise in a lake there which is just at the height.

Viscount HALDANE: That is what I followed. What is puzzling me is further towards the end of the George River.

Sir JOHN SIMON: The South, my Lord.

Viscount HALDANE: To the North the George River apparently runs up and gets towards Cape Chidley; before it gets to Cape Chidley it seems to run over the height of land.

Sir JOHN SIMON: No, with great respect, it does not.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: It falls into the Ungava Bay.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It has never been Newfoundland at all.

p. 78

Viscount HALDANE: It falls into Ungava Bay.


Viscount HALDANE: Then that line is not the line of the upper part of the river, but the line of the Ungava Bay coast.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I see what it is; Ungava Bay is a great Bay inside Hudson's Straits, and Ungava Bay, and what I may call the coast of Ungava Bay, using “coast” in my sense, has never at any time been annexed to Newfoundland—never.

Viscount HALDANE: I see that the coast of Ungava Bay seems to run through the height of land just as you come to Cape Chidley.

Sir JOHN SIMON: You are getting, you see, to a very sharp promontory, that is all it is.

Viscount HALDANE: Yes, you are, the Cape Chidley promontory.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am not for the moment asserting that the actual delimitation of this height of land is absolutely accurate, though we believe it is. I am only using my sketch map, which has been made as accurately as we can—as a matter of fact it is based on the materials of a very distinguished geographer, A. P. Low, who was in the Canadian Geographical Survey and surveyed this area—all I am saying is, assume for a moment that the rain from Heaven (if they have rain in that part of the world) when falling upon the earth will find its way, owing to the configuration of the surface, to Ungava Bay on the one hand or Hudson Bay, to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the other, and to the Atlantic on the third hand, then I say the language which was used in the Statutes and in the particular documents of grant and definition, is intended to secure that you have this natural boundary, ascertainable if not ascertained, and there is no ground for saying that the boundary is some wholly arbitrary strip or narrow confine”the language really does not admit of that because that would leave the whole problem in the air. That is the question. As against me, let me put the case as I understand it—no doubt my learned friend will put it much more powerfully—as against me, it is said, and said with very great force, the primary object, perhaps one may say the only object, with which arrangements were made in the Island of Newfoundland and on the Coast of Labrador for a very long period of time was what you may call a fishery object. That is perfectly true. Nothing that I am arguing is intended to deny it at all. It is perfectly true. It is not true that the fishery in question was merely a cod fishery, that is quite untrue; there was also a salmon fishery, a whale fishery, and what is called a sea-cow fishery: it is not in the least true that it was limited to cod; but it is absolutely true that the purpose, the thing to be served


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