Confederation
1864-1949



The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


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Volume VII

Volume VIII

Volume IX

Volume X

Volume XI
Contents

Volume XII








25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.

Lord Sumner.

25 Oct., 1926.

Lord Sumner.

Sir John Simon.


p. 160

Surrender all Ports & Settlements erected by ye French or which are now in Their Possession, as likewise not to saile any Shipp or Vessell within the Limitts of the Companies Charter & to make Restitution of what they Unjustly dispoiled the Company of, in times of Peace amounting to £108,514 19s. 8d. besides Interest amounting to much more than the Principall.”

The LORD CHANCELLOR: I wonder where that comes from; it is not an assessment of damages.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I understand it to be moral and intellectual damage. It occurs again and again; they were very particular even to pennies. They did not get anything. “Sir, you may upon casting your Eye on The Map observe a Line drawne Cross the Grand Lake Miscosinke Twixt Hudsons Bay & Canada, which may serve as a Boundary between the Two Nations. Viz, the French not to goe to the northward of that Line by wood Runners or otherwise or make any settlement from the same towards Hudsons Bay, nor the English in like manner to the Eastward of the said Line towards Quebeck, whereby both Nations may be Limited in Theire Possessions, for the future I have not to Enlarge.”
May I just indicate the sort of line this was? It was a line which went round by pretty well the green boundary, but when you got to the Labrador side, instead of coming out at Cape Chudleigh, it came out at a point which is marked Cape Mugford or Grimington Island to Mistassini Lake. You see what they are doing now, if possible a little pushing out. It is also questionable whether the entrance to Hudson's Straits ought to be regarded as Grimington. There has been no document up to the present, so far as I know, which has ever defined the Hudson's Bay area as beginning at Cape Chudleigh, which is at the entrance to Hudson's Straits, and you can imagine a controversy.
Now, of course, the Hudson's Bay Company being in a strong position, and, of course, knowing that the British would not be unwilling to claim all they could, is pushing its boundary down a bit, and the boundary it proposes is to run from Cape Mugford (Grimington Island) in a straight line to Lake Mistassini, and then going on very much as you see it now.
Your Lordships will find a reproduction of that actual map, which is very interesting because it is contemporary, not in the Newfoundland Atlas, but in the Canadian Atlas, the number of it being 24a. Of course it is not very accurate, but you will see there Hudson's Straits and you will see the point there which we have been accustomed to treat, and I think it is the correct point, as the entrance to Hudson's Bay, Cape Chidley, is not the point from which this line is drawn. Cape Chidley is a short distance further to the north–west. Then your Lordships see the line which they draw from Grimington, and they draw it through the Great Lake of Miscosink, and what they are saying is:

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“Now a satisfactory boundary, one which you might press for, is one which will keep the French to the east of this line and will treat everything to the west of it for ourselves.” It is a second illustration of the same thing, namely, that according to the way the wind is blowing, you get the Hudson's Bay Company either conceding that they will have a little less than they are entitled to, or asking for a little more.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: Lake Miscosink does not appear to be on Arrowsmith's map.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, it is, my Lord; it is really Lake Mistassini. It is just inside the green on Map 26.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Rupert's River runs out of it.

Sir JOHN SIMON: There is no doubt that in proposing a straight line this straight line is a conventional as opposed to a natural boundary; they are not so very far wrong, but what they are doing is that they are getting a little more than they are really entitled to. Then a very amusing thing happened. After the Treaty of Utrecht, when it was signed, Commissioners were appointed and there were very considerable discussions, though nothing was ever settled, and the British Commissioner, though these were his instructions, acted very much as some counsel do when they are trying to settle a case. Having got his instructions to settle on certain terms, he thought it was prudent to ask for more than he was authorised to receive. So when the British Commissioners came forward, or one of them, at any rate, he did not propound this line, though it was his instructions to do so, but he drew the line still further to the south and east, and propounded a line which came out at Davis Bay—no doubt a very proper way to conduct the negotiations.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: I see the St. Lawrence is called the River Canada.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes. In the early days it was called the Great River of Canada sometimes, and afterwards it was called Hochelaga.

Viscount FINLAY: What does Hochelaga mean?

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think it was an Indian word. I am not sure that one would not find it in Longfellow; I will look it up to see. It sounds as though it would have gone into hexameters.
If your Lordships will now turn on a page or two, you will see how the Commissioners dealt with this. At page 4049 is the Hudson's Bay Company's letter. At page 4050 is a Petition supporting it, addressed to the Queen, still in 1709. I pick out two passages only. It is repetition of much the same matter, but there are two things I

p. 162

would like your Lordships to observe. It is petitioning, really, that the thing shall be settled. At the bottom of page 4051, line 37: “But soe it is May it Please your Most Excellent Majestie That the Company found Theire Interest not Comprehended in the Treaty of Risewick, which they are far from attributeing to any want of care in That Gracious Prince of this Kingdomes Honour & Trade, and Rather Thinke Theire Right & Claime was Then overweyed by matters of Higher Consequence depending in that Juncture, for By the said Treaty They found Their Condition much worse Then it was before.” That indicates the attitude at that time. Then at page 4053: “The Premises Considered, when your Majestie in your high wisdome shall thinke fitt to give Peace to those Eenemies whome your Victorious Arms have soe Reduced & humbled, & when your Majesties shall Judge it for your Peoples good to Enter into a Treaty of Peace with The French King, your Petitioners Pray That the said Prince be obleiged by such Treaty to Renounce all Right or Pretentions to the Bay & Streights of Hudson, Quitt & surrender all Forts and Settlements Erected by the French, or which are now in Theire Possession, as Likewise not to saile any Shipp or Vessell within The Limitts of the Companies Charter, & to make Restitution”—and here comes the bill. I think I was right, my Lord. I have made a note here that the victory of Malplaquet was won on the 11th September, 1709, and you see that this document was a document which was presented earlier in the year; the war was still going on.

Then there was another statement of the same thing, which need not be read, but merely noted, at page 4054. They repeat what they are claiming in 1711. Again there is a Memorial to the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations in 1712 to the same effect, and again enclosing a map. These people did not fail for want of any repetition. Then at page 4057 the Lords of Trade address the Earl of Dartmouth (I think he was Secretary of State): “My Lord, In obedience to Her Majesty's commands, signified to us, we have considered the enclosed petition from the Hudson's Bay Company to Her Majesty, and are humbly of opinion that the said Company have a good right and just title to the whole Bay and Streights of Hudson. Since the receipt of which petition, the said Company have delivered to us a memorial, relating to the settlement of boundaries between them and the French of Canada, a copy whereof is enclosed, and upon which we take leave to offer, that as it will be for the advantage of the said Company that their boundaries be settled, it will also he necessary that the boundaries between Her Majesty's colonies on the continent of America and the said French of Canada be likewise agreed and settled; wherefore we humbly offer these matters may be recommended to Her Majesty's Plenipotentiaries at Utrecht.”

My Lords, is it not a little striking—I suggest it is—that the persons who were drawing up these documents plainly thought that the Bay and Straits of Hudson, the subject-matter of the Caroline Grant, certainly did not involve a mere selvedge, but did unquestionably involve a great internal area, exactly how much or where is another thing, but it is plain that when he says they are entitled to the whole Bay and Straits

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of Hudson he does not mean that they are entitled to sail about in the Bay and land on shore, but they are talking, of course, with regard to a great territory.
Lord SUMNER: This is what strikes me on the documents that you have read to us: that when the scales are turning in favour of the Hudson's Bay Company they do not say, as you might have expected: “Under our Charter we are entitled to land area up to a certain boundary; the French have come inside that boundary: we pray that they should be compelled to evacuate that boundary altogether and respect it in future.” What they do claim is a reference to the Bay and Straits and the trade which may be done from the Bay and Straits. The desire is not to observe some natural feature as a territorial boundary, but to restrict the common use apparently of the woods and intercourse with the Indians by, not height of land, but some natural feature such as a river or possibly a parallel of latitude; but I have not yet seen anything except the convertible terms “Main” and “Coast” that seems to suggest that height of land has anything to do with the matter in anybody's mind. That may be possibly because they did not know it.
Sir JOHN SIMON: That is a very forcible criticism, of course. I think as we go on you will find that the expression “height of land” is actually used. I will deal with that later. But the way I should seek to put it for your Lordships' consideration would be this. I agree that this great Company does not talk about the height of land, and probably did not know exactly where it was, but my suggestion was that the view which was certainly taken later of the Grant of Charles II really involved that a natural boundary of that sort is implicit in what they are saying and almost was matter of course at this period; that when you spoke of granting people a coast you really meant that you granted them the slope.

Lord SUMNER: Might I make a suggestion about this? At this stage in these countries, when you are not dealing with permanent settlements or mining or timber, but with traversing the woods for hundreds of miles, it is not the height of land that matters; it is the portage, and you can see that on some of these maps. The Indians have gone by ways where there have been communications by water from one place to another, disregarding altogether which way the water is running. If you look at Lake Mistassini, that represents a water communication quite apart from mountains altogether. What they no doubt did was to keep careful track of the points at which they could begin a portage and get on to the portage on another river. There was no point in following one of these rivers up to its ultimate source, like you might the springs of the Thames, or anything of that kind. At a certain point they found out by experience that it was no good going any further with it, and then the portage begins to another river.

p. 164

>At present I do not think that the height of land was a feature that much mattered to anybody.

Sir JOHN SIMON: My Lord, I am much obliged. It helps me very much to have that indication. It is right, I think, that we should see how the documents now unfold. I quite appreciate your Lordship is not suggesting that we should not.

Lord SUMNER: It becomes very much stronger as you go along.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, but at any rate your Lordship has to see how this matter stands, because unquestionably the view that is to be taken as to the proper limits of the Hudson's Bay territory has a bearing, whether it is for me or against me, on the question of my own boundaries; and that is, therefore, the reason I want to take these branches of the subject together. I will bear in mind what your Lordship has said, but two or three things do turn up later on, and I know how willing your Lordship always is to see how they fit into the scheme of things.
I had got as far as page 4058, yet another petition. In May, 1713, they were saying this: “That your Petitioners being inform'd that the Act of Cession is come over whereby amongst other matters thereby consorted, The french King obleiges himselfe to restore to Your Majesty (or to whom your Majesty shall appoint to take possession thereof) the Bay and Streights of Hudson Together with all the lands seas sea coasts rivers and places situate in the said Bay and Streights, as also all forts and edifices whatsoever intire and not demolished, Together with gunns shott powder and other warlike provisions, (as mentioned in the 10th Article of the present treaty of Peace) within 6 months after the rattification thereof or sooner if possible it may be done. Your Petitioners doe most humbly pray your Majesty will be graciously pleased to direct the said Act of Cession may be transmitted to your Petitioners, as also your Majestys Commission to Captain James Knight and Mr. Henry Kelsey to authorise them or either of them to take possession of the premises.”
On the opposite page Lord Dartmouth, the Secretary of State, writes to the Company and says: “Gentlemen, I have laid your Petition before the Queen who desirs Comeing to any resolution upon the Severall Particulars therein contained”—it must be “who desirs not comeing.”

The LORD CHANCELLOR: I think it is “defers.”

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, I think it should be “defers comeing to any resolution upon the Severall Particulars therein Contained till the Councell of Trade Report their Opinion what is most proper to be done therein. In the meantime I am to acquaint you that her Majesty would not”—I think the word is “Accept” “of a Cession of the Country from the French King, because it belong'd of ancient Right to his Subjects as will appear by your Charter of which I am to Desire you to Send me an Authentick Coppy however it was Necessary to Procure an Order

[1927lab]




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