The Labrador Boundary

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25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

The Lord Chancellor.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Sir Thomas Warrington.

Sir John Simon.

25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.

25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

p. 170

take the line out at the water's edge at the Bay of Davis in 56½ degrees of latitude. That is his claim. In fact, the place called Davis Inlet, which I suppose is the same as Davis Bay, is a little more south than that. If your Lordship takes the parallel 56, you will find it strikes the green just at Davis Inlet.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: I expect St. Peter's Haven is not far from where they thought Davis Inlet was.

Sir JOHN SIMON: That is quite right.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: I think if you mark the parallel 55 on No. 14 you will find St. Peter's Haven would be about 56½.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: Why is this yellow line pushed back? It is said to have been settled by the Commissioners, but that, I gather, was not true; it was put forward by the Commissioners, this line with the inscription along it. As a matter of fact, the Hudson Bay boundary, as I understand on this map, runs along north and south from this Lake. Was that arranged in some way?

Sir JOHN SIMON: No, I do not think that indicates any convention or settlement at all.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: What is this map?

Sir JOHN SIMON: This map is one of the maps of 1763, which was drawn for the purpose of showing what was the result of the Treaty of Paris and the arrangements that had been made under it.

Viscount HALDANE: I understand you to say that this map put things as settled which were not settled till after 1763.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Your Lordship has not quite got my point. This is a map which was published in 1763.

Viscount HALDANE: I know, but it did not show the things as settled then: it shows what had in fact been claimed, but was not settled in 1763.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is not quite so, with respect, my Lord. This map shows, for example, the new Government of Quebec, the lozenge boundary which was carved out in 1763 as the result of the defeat of the French. It shows that in the same way that it shows, for instance, the boundary of East Florida and New Florida .

Viscount HALDANE: The Treaty of Utrecht left the whole of Labrador, except that to the north of a line which was not agreed, to France.

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Sir JOHN SIMON: That is right.

Viscount HALDANE: It was not till 1763 that Great Britain became possessed of the southern part of the Coast of Labrador.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes; and then no doubt there would have been a little disputing about that, for there would have been British settlements.

Viscount HALDANE: The Hudson Bay boundary was not settled in 1763.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I do not think 1763 is of any significance for settling the Hudson's Bay limit at all.

Viscount HALDANE: Was anything done then about Hudson's Bay?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Not about Hudson's Bay—that is to say, drawing it down on a map and agreeing this and that as the latitude and longitude of the boundary.

Viscount HALDANE: When do you say that was done?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Never. The case I make about Hudson's Bay, if I may summarise it, and it is convenient to do so now, is this: I say on the true meaning of the language of the grant of Hudson's Bay it was a grant to the Hudson's Bay Company of the Bay and the Coasts and the territories; and though, of course, you could not have drawn a map to show how far it went, that really was, in my submission, a grant of the basin. That is what I say. I say that really has been recognised again and again; I give your Lordship as an illustration the House of Commons map of 1857. I point out that at times the Hudson Bay Company had to put up with a smaller claim because they were being pressed by the French, and at another time they endeavoured to make a rather larger claim, as for instance, after the Treaty of Utrecht; but neither the smaller nor the larger claim was ever laid down or agreed or fixed: and when you look at such a thing as this map of 1763, which is designed to show the arrangement made after the Treaty of Paris, you must not be misled, if I may presume to say so, by this dotted line which is inscribed “The Southern Boundary of the Hudson's Bay Company's Territories settled by Commissaries after the Treaty of Utrecht,” because it was not settled and, so far as the British Commissioners were concerned, it was not quite the line. That is all I say, and I say it now because when one looks at this map it creates confusion otherwise.

Viscount HALDANE: So that, according to that, really the Hudson Bay Company took as part of its territory land which had not become part of the British Crown.

p. 172

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes. Again and again the internal boundary of the Hudson's Bay Territory has been regarded, not as an ascertained but an ascertainable boundary. Your Lordship recollects, for example, that when the Province of Quebec is enlarged by the Statute of 1774, it is enlarged by saying that it is to have such and such a Southern Boundary, and the Mississippi as a Western Boundary, and it is to go on until you reach the boundary of the Hudson Bay territories. In exactly the same way, when the Hudson Bay Territory is thrown into Canada in 1870, there is an express extension of Ontario, or Upper Canada, so that it actually reaches the sea water in James Bay. I will come to the moment when the Quebec authorities thought they would like to have an extension to James Bay as well, but my point is that though it has never been a thing which you could say had been fixed by latitude and longitude, or traced on the ground, right through the history the Hudson Bay area, in my submission—and I have a few documents coming now to show it—is treated as an area which is a basin, and the explanation of their sometimes departing from that principle, as, for instance, they do in the map of 1763, is not really that anyone suggested that it was not that, but that the situation at the time of the Treaty of Utrecht was one which gave an opportunity for a slight exaggeration of the claim.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: Of course, if their claim, which at the time of the Treaty of Utrecht was a well justified claim, was they were going beyond the basin, they may not have thought they were that far really.

Sir JOHN SIMON: That is my point, my Lord. It is convenient, I think, at this moment to do what has already been slightly done—observe how in these maps the words “East Main” or “West Main,” as the case may be, are used. Your Lordships have noted how in the communications between the Hudson's Bay Company and the British Government, in the late years of the seventeenth and the early years of the eighteenth centuries, they speak about the West Main or Coast. Would your Lordships, in this connection, look at one or two maps, not many? Take, for instance, the map which is No. 15.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: No. 14 also is an instance.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes; I have got “East Main” marked there.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: What is No. 15?

Sir JOHN SIMON: In No. 15 your Lordship again will find “East Main.”

The LORD CHANCELLOR: What is the date of No. 15?

Sir JOHN SIMON: The date of it is 1764. That is a rather

p. 173

important map from another point of view, which I will mention in a moment. A still more interesting one, in some respects, is No. 17. I shall be very grateful if your Lordships will kindly look at No. 17. Here undoubtedly is an exposition which is entirely in my favour, where you not only get “East Main,” but you get what I have not observed on any other map—you get the actual inscription “Labrador Coast.” Your Lordships see the word “Coast.” It is surely very, very striking. Incidentally you get what, no doubt, is a highly artificial and conventional indication, but you do get an indication, of a height of land running from Cape Chidley down and dividing the Labrador Coast and the East Main, though I agree it leaves a very considerable area on either side of the mountain.

Lord SUMNER: It is just like the fifteenth and sixteenth century idea of the mountains of the moon.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Your Lordship does not misunderstand my argument; I am sure your Lordship does not. I am not saying the mountains are there, or that is the way they run; but if you are distinguishing between the East Main Coast on the one hand and the West Main Coast on the other, it is a very strong observation that there is a very strong indication, on a map of this kind, that they lie on respective sides of the line.

Viscount HALDANE: It must be borne in mind that the Crown was not dividing everything up. The Crown was making grants out of a territory which was, or had become, British territory, and therefore it may be that the Crown disposed of that.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is quite possible, my Lord. That is an important view of it, and has always got to be carefully borne in mind.
Then will your Lordships kindly look at map No. 20? There you will find the East Main and Labrador very plainly distinguished, and as far as East Main is concerned, which I know has been treated as synonymous with “East Coast,” I get the clearest indication that it is a very substantial piece of territory.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: This is a latish map. It is 1822.

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is, my Lord.
Then the next matter touching Hudson's Bay, if I may try again to keep to chronology, is, I think, in 1752. In the year 1752 this important incident occurred: a petition was presented by a number of gentlemen, who were merchants in London, to the Crown (George the Second), asking for a grant of a portion of British America lying on the Atlantic Ocean; they were really asking for what I might call a Labrador grant. Now, if I am right, as long as you did not go up to the height of the land, you would not necessarily invade the Hudson's Bay territory because you made a grant of Labrador coast; but still it would be very natural, before

p. 174

the grant was made, to see whether the Hudson's Bay Company, which was an established company, strongly entrenched and, of course, deeply committed, had anything to say about it.
Now, if your Lordships will kindly turn to page 4098, you will see the way in which the Hudson's Bay Company dealt with an inquiry which was made to them. They seem to me, with all respect, not to have dealt with it very candidly. The geography was not very well known to everybody. They addressed the Lord Commissioners of Trade and Plantations in these terms on page 4098 in Volume VIII. If it is not inconvenient, I will ask your Lordships also to have available one other document which bears upon this, and that is the Report of the Lords of Trade and Plantations on the Petition of Merchants. It is in Volume III, and it is the first document in that volume; your Lordships will find it on page 883.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: I have read through this memorial in Volume VIII, and I think we might dispose of that first.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord, only that you have to read that document with the other document.

Viscount HALDANE: What are you going to show by this?

Sir JOHN SIMON: I am going to show how it is dealt with, my Lord.
If I may say so, Lord Finlay, I have, of course, carefully examined the long article on “Coast” in Sir James Murray's well–known dictionary, and it may be that at some stage your Lordships will desire to have that referred to. I think I am right in saying that your Lordship was rather hoping to look at it at some stage.

Viscount FINLAY: At the moment I was looking for the definition of “Main.”

Sir JOHN SIMON: That I have already looked at also. I will dispose of it now, and it can be checked.

Viscount FINLAY: It is most familiar in reference to the Spanish Main.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I confess that I have been rather under the impression—but I was wrong—that the Spanish Main was a phrase which referred to an extent of sea. It does not refer to that.

Viscount FINLAY: It refers to an extent of mainland, as distinguished from islands.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord. In this connection the word “Main” is used for a continent, or mainland territory, as opposed to islands.


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