The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

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22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

p. 89

old country to go and take up land in Canada—he did not conceive that he had got any—

Lord SUMNER: That map means that the height of land is not the boundary, because there is no height of land in the whole of the world that is straight for several degrees of west longitude.

Sir JOHN SIMON: With great respect—will your Lordship forgive me—what he is drawing is this: he is drawing the 52nd parallel until it strikes the height of land.

Lord SUMNER: That is it. And here it strikes another height of land.

Sir JOHN SIMON: But the height of land runs up, and that is the only place where the words “height of land” are used. He does not say with reference to the boundary of the 52nd parallel, “That is the height of land.” What he says is, “That is the line which the Statute cuts off and adds to Canada.”

Viscount HALDANE: I should have thought that somebody had made a map at some time showing not merely the mountains, but the hills and the rising land; but there does not seem to be any such map.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am conscious that I am putting a great strain upon the patience of everybody. There are one or two, but, I am afraid, not what your Lordship would wish, that is to say, not such a good map as your Lordship would have of your native Scotland.

Viscount HALDANE: I should like to see a map like the map of the Grampians.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord, but the mischief of it is that there is not on the coast of Labrador anyone who can say “My name is Norval, on the Grampian Hills my father tends his sheep.”

Viscount HALDANE: It does not rise to that.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Well, my Lord, the truth is, of course, that we are dealing with a country which is very largely undiscovered.

Viscount HALDANE: But still, there are geographers who do these things. They have done it in Africa, and I should have thought that it would have been done here.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am going to give your Lordship all the help that I can.

Lord SUMNER: You will find that the heights are put in in figures. There are plenty of them.

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Sir JOHN SIMON: I am not ignorant of that, my Lord, but it is a little difficult for the moment.

Viscount HALDANE: You are going to help us as much as you can.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord. My Lord Summer's observation is perfectly just, and I had that in my mind; but I was a little afraid that we might get on to another part of the case. You do find in Low's survey a number of heights given, and if you look at it carefully you can reconstruct the height of the country for yourself from that. Now, if I may just repeat what I was saying, if you look at a map like that Map No. 35, I think it does reinforce the point in the form in which I tried to put it to you, in view of the observation which my Lord was good enough to make to me; that is to say, that the Statute did not take away necessarily from Newfoundland, as between these two lateral limits, the whole of what was called the Coast; there may have been some hinterland, which was still the Coast, but what they took away was what I have called, very inaccurately, an oblong, by which I mean an area the northern boundary of which is a straight line running along the parallel No. 52. And again and again and again that has been the view which has been taken officially in Canada. On the other hand, when you come to the boundary of Newfoundland and Labrador on the West, running up to Cape Chidley, there has been no Statute which has taken a ruler and tried to draw a straight line; and the consequence is that you must find some boundary which will have, of course, turns in it; and the boundary which we suggest, and the boundary which this map indicates, is the height of land.

Viscount HALDANE: I suppose the only question that we are dealing with now is a question of whether the description of the Statute of 1825 agrees with what is shown here as to the 52nd parallel and the height of land.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord, I think that is the way to put it.

Viscount HALDANE: I think that is the only question.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord.

Mr. MACMILLAN: May I ask to see the original of Map No. 35, when my Lord has finished with it?

The LORD CHANCELLOR: I have only got the words, “Height of land and supposed boundary.”

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord, that is right, and I will resist the temptation of asking your Lordship to look at a lot of other traps at the moment, because I want to keep to chronology, rather than to a

p. 91

lot of maps. With regard to the supposed boundary, this is an interesting point; it has no doubt been a matter of some hesitation as to whether or not, when you carry the boundary back on the 52nd parallel from the point where that north line strikes the 52nd parallel from Blanc Sablon, you go back in a straight line right away, or whether, when you meet the height of land which then begins to take a bulge inward, you follow the height of land. Some of the maps are maps which give that sort of bulge, and therefore I imagine that “Supposed boundary” may very well be referable to the doubt which undoubtedly has been felt as to which of those two things should prevail.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: That does not wholly explain it, because those words are used for the northward line.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I had not noticed that, my Lord.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: If you look at it you will see that it is so.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am sure your Lordship is quite right.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: It says “Height of land and supposed boundary.”

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord, quite right.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: But the Act tells you, Sir John. That really is the boundary under the Act, is it not, because the Act tells you to take the line northwards to the 52nd parallel and then take a line westward of that line, that is, to the west of every part of it; and it can only really be to the west of that line, if you are within the 52nd parallel.

Sir JOHN SIMON: You would think so, I agree, my Lord. I am only saying that there is not a complete consistency in the views taken by the map makers.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: Then you go west along the 52nd parallel until you meet the other line.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord. Now may I take one more example to show what I mean? Let us take a map like Map No. 41. I am not saying, and this is not a case where I could say, that these people are stopped. We are trying to find out what is the true construction. I am asking your Lordships' attention to Map No. 41, which illustrates the way in which it has been sometimes regarded. If I may say so respectfully, I agree with Lord Warrington that I should not have thought it was right, but still it is my duty to call attention to it. This again is an official Departmental map. It is one of many, and

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your Lordships will understand that it is not the whole map, but it is a section of it.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: That part that bulges there, just after you leave the due north and south line, that first bulge, cannot be said to be to the west of the due north and south line.

Sir JOHN SIMON: No, my Lord, not in one sense. But it does illustrate another possible view, and it is the view which my Lord Sumner was criticising just now, that is to say that you undoubtedly go up to the 52nd parallel, and the idea is that that gives you a sort of starting off point. Then it would be an indication that Canada considered that from that point she can sweep in anything which the height of land gives her. But I am not much concerned with that detail, especially as that line is not very accurately drawn in any case; but what is interesting is that here again you get what you get again and again and again, a perfectly explicit assertion on the official and departmental map of the Dominion, that non-Canada—that is what I will call it, non-Canada—is very far from being this little selvedge, but apparently it is this very considerable territory.
Now I think your Lordships have had enough of these maps for the moment, because they have at some stage to he dealt with very systematically; and I want to invite your Lordships now to look at this. I have called attention to the language of the Statute of 1825 for the purpose of seeing what it is which Quebec is given by re-annexation. Now there is another way in which you may test the position as it was at 1825, and it is this: whatever Quebec then gained in the pink oblong, the Governor of Newfoundland lost; and, therefore, if you examine the Commission which is given to the Governor of Newfoundland after the change, you will see what is the language which is used for the purpose of describing the reduced limits in respect of which he has jurisdiction.

Viscount HALDANE: The Act of 1825 was a repeal pro tanto of the Act of 1809.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It was, my Lord.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Where is this Commission?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Your Lordship sees that I am approaching the same question, but from the other point of view. If your Lordship will, therefore, turn to the second volume, at page 718, you will find the Commission.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: It is 1825. This happened to be in the same year as the Act.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Of course, it had to be, my Lord, because there is a continuning authority addressed to the Governor for the time

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being, and the moment you take out something from his jurisdiction you must revise his Commission. He has already had one, as a matter of fact, and this is a new Commission to Sir Thomas Cochrane, who at that time was the Governor of Newfoundland. It is on page 718 of the second volume, and if your Lordships will just look down you will see what his new area is. It recites the old area, and then if your Lordships will carry your eyes down at once to line 28 on page 718—I will come back if necessary—you will see the words “to be our Governor and Commander in Chief, in and over, our Island of Newfoundland, and the Islands adjacent, and all the Coast of Labrador, from the entrance of Hudsons Streights, to a line to be drawn due North and South from Anse Sablon, on the said Coast, to the Fifty second degree of North latitude.” I am not saying that there may not be some difficulties of construction there suggested, but at any rate it is not very easy to suppose that a gentleman who was given a Commission in that form was a person who had nothing in the world to do with territory which was running back to the east of that line as far as the 52nd parallel.

Viscount HALDANE: Where is this passage?

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is in line 32. Now if I may put a case, just suppose that during the currency of this new Commission of Sir Thomas Cochrane, an individual were to commit a crime thirty miles back from the coastline, and five miles to the east of this imaginary line. Has Sir Thomas Cochrane got jurisdiction, or has he not? It seems almost impossible to suppose that the people who drew up this document imagined he would not have jurisdiction. There is a judicial system. I am going to show in due course that there were both judicial and administrative arrangements made by Newfoundland on Labrador; and whatever is or is not involved in this language of grant and authority, I should respectfully submit that it was very difficult to suppose that it did not cover that.

Viscount HALDANE: Let us look at the words: “All the Coast of Labrador, from the entrance of Hudsons Streights, to a line to be drawn due North and South from Anse Sablon, on the said Coast, to the Fifty second degree of North latitude, and all the Islands adjacent to the said part of the Coast of Labrador.” That, of course, does not give all that is in the boundary.

Sir JOHN SIMON: No, my Lord, but I want your Lordship just to consider the case that I put a moment ago. That being the language which is used in the authority to the Governor, suppose that an occasion arises for the exercise of his authority, judicial or administrative, at a point which is, say, 30 miles inland, and which is to the east of this line: it is difficult to suppose that the view was, “Oh, of course, I have got no authority there, because it is more than a mile from the sea shore.” Does not this document, whatever else it does, just like the contempor-


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