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.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

The Lord Chancellor.

Sir John Simon.

The Lord Chancellor.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

Sir John Simon.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Finlay.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

The Lord Chancellor.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.


p. 79

in the minds of those who legislated and directed, was unquestionably a fishery.

Viscount HALDANE: I suppose you say the purpose was not only to encourage fishing, but to provide a class of man from whom seamen might be recruited.

Sir JOHN SIMON: That is true also, though on this again I think it is necessary to say that what was primarily in the minds of the authority at home in those old days was that the British seamen, the people coming from Bristol and other places—South Wales a lot of them came from, and many Pembrokeshire men it will be interesting to some people to know—coming across the sea as Captains Courageous, as Rudyard Kipling puts it, or coming as “Pêcheurs d'Islande,” as Pierre Loti would say, acquired a skill and hardihood which made them desirable recruits for the British Royal Navy.

Viscount HALDANE: I think the French put a stress on that too.

Sir JOHN SIMON: They did. You will find documents among these documents (which are very interesting reading though they are not very relevant for the argument) in which a French Company like the Compagnie de Canada, are making representations as to the great importance of there being a grant on lease in this or that area, because they say: this is the way in which you will be able to get stout fellows for the purpose of the French Navy. There is no doubt at all, my point is, of course—it is familiar to every lawyer, and I do not want to spend time insisting on it—the fact that that may have been the primary purpose to be served, when the apportionment and grant was made, is no reason at all for saying that the language of the grant may not be such as to include that land, which at that time, and indeed for hundreds of years afterwards, was regarded as quite worthless.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: It is to be remembered too that Graves' Commission does talk about persons residing and settling.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Oh yes, my Lord.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: So that it clearly contemplates some land attached to the coast.

Sir JOHN SIMON: At present I have only been giving your Lordships, as well as I could, a sort of sketch of the case in chronological order; I am afraid 1 shall have to trouble the Board to go back, and when we go back, you will find again and again, though the important and main interest is on the sea board, the language of the instruction is such as to show quite clearly that justice was to be administered, natives were to be looked after, territory was to be borne in mind, and all that sort of thing.

p. 80

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Of course, you would have to assume that the framers of these documents in 1763, the Commission and the Proclamation, had in mind some definite area when they framed those documents.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, or at any rate, the language they used can be made certain now that it becomes important to see exactly to what point it goes back.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: I follow your point on the Act of 1825 so far.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am sure your Lordship does.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Of course the terms of that Act simply show, not only that the part which was cut off from Newfoundland territory was treated as coast, but that the part behind it, as far west as the St. John River at all events, may have come within that restriction.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think so.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: To what distance is another question.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I quite agree, my Lord. I am not saying there is not a great deal to be said on both sides in a case of this sort, but I am very anxious you should see what are the main considerations.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Does this Lake Ashuanipi go into the River or into the bay? It is in the south-west corner of your plan.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is not connected with the River at all. There is the height of land between them. The Ashuanipi there is a very complicated water system, and if you were to go up the Hamilton River you would be able to spread out and visit a great number of these lakes on either side, but the whole system of lakes carries down to the Hamilton River.

Viscount HALDANE: Would you tell me before you leave that whether the Beech Lake and the Dyke Lake, the Beech Lake particularly, appear to drain down into the River running to the north, the George River, and that appears to go through the height of land.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It really is not so. I can tell your Lordship it is not so, it is really due to the fact that this little hand map your Lordship has before you has got this blue line rather thickly and heavily coloured, and it is very difficult for the eye to penetrate what is under it. If your Lordship will turn for one moment to Map No. 42 in the Newfoundland Atlas you will see the actual survey, quite a modern survey, by a Canadian geographer.

p. 81

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: On your sketch map if you look at the dotted line running down, you will see that is so drawn, whether it is right or wrong I do not know, that it runs between two lakes.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I quite agree, but it is a little difficult for some eyes to see.

Viscount HALDANE: What does this map represent?

Sir JOHN SIMON: If I may be allowed to expound, I think it is useful to do this now. Mr. A. P. Low is a distinguished geographer who was in the service of the Dominion of Canada. If your Lordship looks at the typed note on the left-hand side you will see, “This map in four sheets accompanies the annual report, Volume 8, for 1895, issue in 1897, by the geographical survey of Canada, and illustrates, as one of the legends states, ’Facts obtained during A. P. Low's expeditions of 1892, '93, '94, '95, and '96.’ Low was during those years an official of the Canadian Geographical Survey, became Director of that Survey in 1906, and a year later was made Deputy Minister of Mines.” If we want to know what is the fact about this area–I am not for the moment talking about any political distribution or any historical matter–the fact is to be found most authoritatively here, and you will see it is this distinguished Canadian official who has dotted right through the map the approximate height of land. If you will start at the top of it, Cape Chidley, you will see there is a dotted line, a long stroke and a dot, which he labels “Limits of Approximate height of land,” and he carries that dotted line carefully, it finds its way the whole way round, and improves and quite correctly improves these lakes about which Lord Haldane has been enquiring on the Newfoundland side.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: The difficulty is that extremely complicated part on the left-hand side.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is a very remarkable water system.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: If you follow that dotted line, it does seem to divide rivers running one way from rivers running the other.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I daresay. If I may give your Lordship an illustration, which some of us at any rate may have observed, if your Lordship has ever had occasion to pass from Switzerland into Italy by the Bernina Pass, your Lordship will know that as you pass over the Bernina Pass, you come to two lakes; one I think is the Lago Nero and the other the Lago Blanco, if I remember rightly; in some portions of the year the distance between the two lakes is not more perhaps than the width of this room. One of them drains into the Black Sea and the other of them drains into the Adriatic, and that is the point, that is the divide of land; the one that drains into the Black Sea runs into a River

p. 82

which goes through the Engadine, and ultimately gets into the Danube and so into the Black Sea.

Viscount FINLAY: In Guiana I think there is a case of that kind, which really makes a sort of Island, because the water at a particular point runs both to the East and to the West.

Sir JOHN SIMON: There is one instance as a matter of fact in the continent of North America, which is recorded in one of these maps, where the geographer has writeen, “At this point the water runs both ways”; and any of us who have been over the Canadian Pacific Railway will remember very well how you reach a particular point where you see the Great Divide, as you look out of the train—which means you watch the water outside the carriage window, and for a long time you see all the streams running one way, and then when you come to a level piece at the top you have the Great Divide, and beyond that the streams run the other way.

Viscount HALDANE: When we have a dotted line, “approximate height of land,” is there no map which shows what the contour of the height of land is?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes; I will give your Lordship that. It is a little difficult because it is a sectional matter, but at any rate your Lordship may take it that Mr. A. P. Low is the most accurate authority on the fact of the height of land being at this point; therefore I think I made good what I was suggesting, that really my thick blue line on my sketch map is designed to indicate how it goes.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: This map rather spoils your point about the head of the St. John River, but that you say was owing to a mistake in the old geographies.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: They thought it went up to the fifty-second degree.

Sir JOHN SIMON: One of the things which Mr. Low points out in his Report (I am going to read you an extract from it later on) is that down to this time everybody has believed that the St. John River is the River which goes up to this point, but, as a matter of fact, they had never traced it the whole way up, and unintentionally people have passed from one stream to another; but what your Lordship said is quite true, we have always had that in mind and, without in the least using this map No. 42 as though it amounted to any admission by Canada, or by some official of Canada, for any purpose whatever, disregarding the fact that he labels it, “Dependency of Newfoundland” (you see the description all along “Dependency of Newfoundland”), nobody had thought of this mile strip in Canada, I am quite certain, in 1895. Dismiss all that. at any rate you get the fact about the height of land. These

p. 83

people had continually traced it up and they had definitely the headwater on one River.

Lord SUMNER: On the map of 1755, there is shown, according to Mr. Mitchell, approximatcly what he took to be the headwaters of St. John's River, which were in the region of 52; therefore, the line taken along the fifty-second parallel would roughly, you say, intersect the headwaters of various rivers including the St. John's River, and you say that appears from the map; but as I read it, it is clear that according to him, they went an indefinite distance further to the North, because they go clean out of the picture altogether, and, for anything the map shows, I might have supposed the headwaters of the St. John's River to be at 62 instead of 52.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think that is true, although I should not have said the map indicated they went indefinitely further.

Lord SUMNER: They are out of the picture altogether.

Sir JOHN SIMON: They are getting very attenuated, the line is becoming very spidery, but I agree, if I may say so, and that was the observation of the Lord Chancellor made to me in rather a different form.

Lord SUMNER: It goes to the importance of the point you are putting about what was probably done on Mitchell's map, which was 1755; it was used in 1763 and probably down to 1825, and following the false geography got from that map we may read the descriptions of the various documents as meaning that the line is to run at where they supposed the height of land would be.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I quite agree.

Lord SUMNER: Unless you make out that Mitchell's map shows the height of land to be round about 52, which it does not show, I do not see how that argument is made out.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I agree, and I am much obliged to your Lordship, because I think the real contention is more correctly put in a slightly different form. What your Lordship said clears up the point. What I am really concerned to insist on is that this pink piece was cut out of a greater whole, which is “The Coast of Labrador”; it is cutting out a portion of the Coast of Labrador.

Lord SUMNER: As the Lord Chancellor said some time ago, that is a point you have made very clearly; you said it is idle to take 120-mile shears to cut a mile boundary line.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think your Lordship's way of putting it to me is really the proper way. I agree I had not put it quite accurately. It is not necessary at all to my argument, and your Lordship has made this plain to me, to say that there would be nothing at all, as it were,

[1927lab]




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