The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

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Volume XII

22 Oct., 1926.

The Lord Chancellor.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

The Lord Chancellor.

Sie John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

22 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

p. 109

The LORD CHANCELLOR: I see the note in the book is that Labrador extends eastward and northward from that point to Hudson's Straits. It is on page 2295 of Volume V, about line 15.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am very much obliged.

Viscount HALDANE: This certainly shows the real height of land.

Sir JOHN SIMON: There is no doubt of that; that is so.

Lord SUMNER: This is of some importance. In the red book at page 133 there is a small chart which shows very conveniently the exact position at that point. You see parallel 52. The words are that Labrador extends eastward and northward from that point to Hudson's Straits. It does not seem to take you very far in the direction of westward and northward.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I see what your Lordship means.

Lord SUMNER: The north line is on parallel 64. Then you are told it has to go to Hudson's Straits. If the word “extends” is pressed it may be of some importance.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord, but may I make my comment in the same connection—I am sure I may? Your Lordship has, quite rightly, of course, called attention to the word, but whatever may be the word it is immediately followed in the same document by this: “Attached to the Report of the Secretary of State are extracts from the Imperial Statute bearing on the question, and a map showing the exact boundary on the coast and the assumed boundary in the interior.” I am identifying the picture with the letterpress, therefore I suggest it is not unreasonable to say, though I quite agree eastward and northward is not a very happy expression, in fact you can hardly go either eastward or northward from that point—

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Not to Hudson's Straits.

Sir JOHN SIMON: No, my Lord, you could not go northward to Hudson's Straits from that point. I apprehend that what it really means is that it is not correct to say that the whole of Labrador is in one jurisdiction. That would not be correct because there is a Statute of 1825; but when you have taken out what the Statute of 1825 takes out, which we coloured pink, then though that takes out something which is westward of the line, you will have left what is eastward and northward of it; and that I suggest is not used in a very strict sense. It is not with the accuracy with which the navigator refers to points of the compass.

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The LORD CHANCELLOR: It must trend towards the north, because you get the sentence: “That the division-line in the interior separating Labrador from the Dominion of Canada,” and so on.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think so. That little chart is very convenient, and we will look at it in time, but it is not a very good chart on which to operate for the reason that the line drawn there is drawn after the dispute has arisen, and it does not really represent anything at all. It is a highly controversial chart. I should have suggested, for what it may be worth, though I quite recognise it is only of a secondary order of importance, and quite subordinate to the actual language of the statutes, orders-in-council and proclamations, that really this little incident of 1874 is quite overwhelming to show that the view taken in 1874 is the view which you will find again illustrated in the official maps of the Dominion of Canada in 1890 and 1895.

Viscount HALDANE: It is almost enough for you to say that it indicates a large block of the interior of Labrador.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, that is really the position. Again, in order that your Lordships may have at any rate the chronological data before you, may I tell your Lordships that there are two other subordinate branches of the case about which there is a good deal of material in these volumes. So far as regards the administration of justice in the area which Newfoundland administered there is an important history, which is more particularly important as between these two periods. I will tell your Lordships why these periods are important afterwards. The first period is from 1826 to 1834, and the second period is from 1863 to 1874. You will notice that 1826, beginning the first of these two periods, is immediately after the pink area is re-annexed to Quebec. Before 1826 the provision made for judicial administration on the coasts of Labrador, whatever that expression may mean in connection with Newfoundland, was by means of the issue of what are called surrogate Commissions. That is to say, the Governor of Newfoundland—Graves, for example, or any one of them—not only had the appointment of Governor of the Colony and its dependencies, but he also was Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet of the Newfoundland Station, and had independent 35 but contemporaneous instructions in a separate document from the Admiralty. He therefore filled the two offices, being Commander-in-Chief of the Newfoundland Station—Commander-in-Chief of the Blue, I think it was called—and at the same time he was, under the Great Seal, holding the Commission of the Governor of Newfoundland. It was within his competence to a point surrogates to administer, in any portion of the area he thought right, the judicial jurisdiction with which he was clothed. From 1763, Thomas Graves's time, right down to 1774 there were surrogate commissions issued to naval officers who were more particularly to look after the Labrador Coast.

Viscount HALDANE: Does this extend to both periods?

p. 111

Sir JOHN SIMON: No. That happened from 1763, and went on with various breaks for some time. But when you come to 1826 a change was made. If your Lordship will turn to Volume 1, page 307, you will find an Act now called The Newfoundland Act. That was an Imperial Act, and was an Act for the better Administration of Justice in Newfoundland. That statute deals with the Island of Newfoundland in the early part, but if you turn to Section 18, at the bottom of page 313 you will find the following passage. It is noteworthy that it comes in the Newfoundland Act. It is an incident, at any rate, of the government of Newfoundland. The section says: “And whereas it is expedient to make further provision for the administration of justice on the Coast of Labrador: Be it further enacted, that so much of an Act passed in the Fifty-first year of the reign of His said Majesty George the Third, intituled an Act for taking away the Public Use of certain Ship Rooms, in the Town of St. John's in the Island of Newfoundland, and for establishing Surrogate Courts on the Coast of Labrador, and in certain Islands adjacent thereto, as relates to the institution of Surrogate Courts, shall be, and the same is hereby repealed; and that it shall and may be lawful for the Governor or Acting Governor of Newfoundland for the time being to institute a Court of Civil Jurisdiction at any such parts or places on the Coast of Labrador, or the Islands adjacent thereto, which, in and by the said Act passed in the Fifty-first year of the reign of His Majesty George the Third are reannexed to the Government of Newfoundland, as occasion shall require; and such Court shall be held by one Judge, and shall be a Court of Record, and shall have jurisdiction, power and authority to hear and determine all suits and complaints of a civil nature arising within any of the said parts and places on the Coast of Labrador, or the Islands adjacent thereto; and the said Court shall be holden by a Judge, who shall be appointed from time to time by the Governor or Acting Governor of Newfoundland, and shall have a clerk and such other ministerial officers as the Governor or Acting Governor shall appoint; and the proceedings of the said Court shall be summary, and such forms of process, and such rules of practice and proceeding as shall be settled by the Chief Judge of the said Supreme Court, shall be followed by the said Court, and no other.”

Lord SUMNER: Is the word “parts” correct, or should it read “ports”?

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is parts. The word is twice repeated, occurring in line 3 and line 11. It is rather an odd thing that in his effort to describe the statute under which portions of the coast of Labrador came under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Newfoundland the draughtsman of Section 18 had fallen into error. It was not by an Act passed in the fifty-first year of the reign of His Majesty George III that anything was annexed to the Government of Newfoundland. That was done by an Act of 49 George III, Cap. 27, Section 14. You will find that in the same volume at the bottom of page 195. Your Lordships will remember that we went through that yesterday. It is by no means

p. 112

the only example of where, in framing these things, they had not got their references exactly right. There was a statute of the fifty-first year of His Majesty George III which dealt with the Government of Newfoundland, but it is a slip in reference in this particular case. Under the statute I have just read on pages 313-314 you will see that it abolishes altogether Surrogate Courts, and establishes not only a Court, but a Court of Record, with a Judge who is not a mere magistrate. He is what might be called a High Court Judge, a member of the Court of Newfoundland. The name of the Judge appointed was Mr. Justice Paterson. In Volume III, page 1396, you will find the proclamation of Governor Cochrane. You will recall that Sir Thomas Cochrane was the Governor the terms of whose Commission after 1825 I asked attention to a little time back. Here is the Governor's proclamation appointing the times and places for holding what he calls the Labrador Court.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: What is the nearest map to this date, do you remember?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Your Lordship wants to see the place Invuctoke on the map. I think sufficiently for the purpose your Lordship could see it in the little sketch.

Mr. MACMILLAN: It is the Eskimo name for Hamilton Inlet.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is not the Eskimo name for Hamilton Inlet; it is the Eskimo name for sea-cow. As your Lordship will appreciate, this is a very modest circuit. It is no good going circuit to the wilds when there is nobody to try. You may take it at once that, not unnaturally, the places which are appointed for holding this Court are places which could be got at without much difficulty.

Viscount HALDANE: Close to the sea.

Sir JOHN SIMON Of course. The place you had better select, because the easiest one to take, is Invuctoke. That is the Eskimo word for a walrus—the same thing as a sea-cow, I am told by one of my Juniors, I do not profess to know myself. Invuctoke is, as my friend said, Hamilton Inlet. You will find in a moment that when Mr. Justice Paterson comes to exercise his jurisdiction he exercises it about a salmon river 120 miles further inland, but the place where he holds his Court, which you may call the assize town, is Invuctoke. I do not suppose it was a very big place. There are one or two things in the proclamation I should like to draw attention to, because I suggest they indicate not any mere jurisdiction on the littoral, but something you might call solid. At the top of page 1397 there is this passage: “And I do authorise, empower and direct the Judge of the said Court of Civil Jurisdiction, hereby instituted, from day to day and from place to place, or for any number of days within the term, session, or continuance of the said Court, to adjourn the said Court, to meet, re-assemble and sit again in

p. 113

the execution and discharge of the duties of the said Court, when and so often as by the said Judge may be deemed necessary or expedient for the due and proper fulfilment and discharge of such duties. And of these presents all Magistrates, the Sheriff and his deputies, all Bailiffs, Constables, Keepers of Gaols, and other officers of the Coast of Labrador, in the execution of their offices about the premises, are desired and hereby required and commanded to take due notice and govern themselves according.” The language is majestic, but I rather imagine if one had occasion to summon the whole regiment of officials they would not have been found to be very numerous. As a matter of fact there are instances where the Judge had to deal with one or two serious crimes where he adopted the convenient expedient of taking his convict on his ship to Newfoundland, where he could be safely confined. The actual commission—I suppose it is as well to mention it—is on the next page. The Act of Parliament created the Court and authorised the Governor to issue the commission, and here is the commission to William Paterson. He is a naval captain, though as a matter of fact he is also Mr. Justice Paterson, and does quite a considerable amount of judicial work, and reports about it for a number of years. It says: “Know ye that We having taken into our royal consideration the loyalty, integrity, and ability of our trusty and well-beloved William Paterson, Esquire, Captain in our Royal Navy and Companion of the most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, have constituted and appointed him the said William Paterson, Judge of our Court of Civil Jurisdiction in and for our Coast of Labrador.” On page 1399 your Lordships will notice that in addition to his being a High Court Judge, he and another gentleman are made Justices of the Peace for the Coast of Labrador. I will give your Lordships one illustration—it will be quite enough, and I have not many others I could give—of the actual exercise of this jurisdiction. In the same Volume, at page 1406, Mr. Justice Paterson having thus received his commission, and Governor Cochrane having proclaimed the places where the Court in its itinerary would sit, you will find the following extract from the records of the Court. Would you observe that it is headed “Rigolet.” That is probably the best known name of a place in the Hamilton Inlet region. Sometimes it is spelled as here, and sometimes with the additional letters “te” at the end of it. I think it is important to see what is this case he is dealing with. The extract is as follows:—“J. O. Brunet & Co. of Quebec by their partners, Joseph Tourzeon, residing at Rigolet, also by petition set forth his complaint, stating that Mr. Joseph Bird of Sturminster, England, by his agent Timothy Craze of Tub Harbor”—I am going to ask attention to Mr. Low's map in a moment, where we shall get these places more accurately—“in this Bay and by the persons employed under him, have for these three years last past interrupted the complainants in their salmon fishery”—this is of a considerable importance because the suggestion against me is that the jurisdiction of Newfoundland on the Coast of Labrador is so limited that really a deep-sea cod fishery is all they are talking about—“at a place called Kinnamnon Brook in this


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