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








25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

25 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.


p. 180

in the year 1390 by Nicholas and Antonio Zeni, two Venetians, who in a Voyage to the North were driven by Tempest upon this coast. This account is given by Hackluyt in the first Volume of his collection of Voyages; but as he cites no other authority for it than Hearsay, except the simple Testimony of Abraham Ortelius who published a Book of Cosmography called Theatrum Orleis in the year 1520; and as the Account itself and the manner in which it is related carried evident marks of Invention, there is great Room to doubt its Veracity, and indeed it seems to be rejected by all late historians, and particularly by Pere Charlevoix in his History of New France. As little credit ought for the same reason to be given to what is related by some other Writers of a Discovery of this Country by Francis Scanlon a Pole in the year 1477. The first authentic account we have of a Discovery of this Country was of that made by Sebastian Cabot in the year 1497, who had a Commission from Henry the Seventh to make Discoveries to the Westward. In the first Voyage he made in consequence of this Commission he fell in with the Land in Latitude 67 North, from whence he continued his course southward along the Coast of Labrador to Newfoundland and the Baccalaos Island ”—that, I think, means the Cod Islands—“and from thence down to Florida. At his Return to England he brought with him three savages whom it is said he took in Newfoundland; but as that Island is only visited by the Natives from the Continent at certain Seasons of the year, and then only on the Western Coast, it is most probable that he brought them from some part of the Coast of Labrador, and there is the greater Reason to believe this, as Gaslar Corterealis who is said to have visited this Coast in the year 1500, and from whence it has the name of Terra Corterealis, brought from thence a piece of a gilded Sword, and saw amongst the Natives several Toys, and other evident Vestiages of Europeans having been lately amongst them. After this several Voyages were made by the English to these Northern Parts of America, particularly by Martin Frobisher, John Davis, George Weymouth, and James Hill”—I dare say that your Lordships will remember that in the early maps Davis Inlet is indicated as a very big opening, and in some of the early documents it is said that it was not Davis himself, but Weymouth, who penetrated into the inland, that is, the main—“in the year 1576, 1577, 1585, 1586, 1587, 1588, 1602 and 1605; but as the Object of these Navigators was merely to discover a Passage to the Westward, it does not appear that any of them visited the Coast of Labrador, except John Davis, who in 1586, landed in a Harbour in Latitude 56, where he stayed trafficking with the Natives for several Days.”—There was confusion in the early maps. I think your Lordships have already noticed this. In the early maps there was confusion between the place which is merely called Davis Inlet, which your Lordships identified this morning, and Hamilton Inlet. There is no doubt that there was confusion between the two.—“This is the first authentic Account we have of any actual Possession being taken of that Country on the Eastern side. The rest of these Navigators pursued their course still further to the Westward giving English names to several places at which they touched. In 1610

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Henry Hudson sailed through Davis Streights into the Bay which has since been called by all Geographers of all Nations Hudson's Bay, of which he took possession in the name of the Crown of England, and stayed there a whole Winter. Possession was again taken in the name of the Crown of England of this Bay by Sir Thomas Button, who also wintered there in 1612 in a River called Nelson's River in Remembrance of his Captain who died there”—it is close to York.

The LORD CHANCELLOR: And you have the Button Islands?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord. Then it goes on: “In 1631 Captain Luke Fox by command of King Charles the First made a voyage to Hudson's Bay, and amongst other places entered Port Nelson, and finding there a Cross which had been erected by Sir Thomas Button with the Inscription almost defaced and worn out, he erected it again with a new inscription declaring the Right and Possession of His then Majesty King Charles the First, and named the adjacent Country New North Wales”—that is why I said that New South Wales and New North Wales were quite early names on the maps, and they were not put in as late as the eighteenth century. It is as early as this: “Charles the First.” “The Troubles and Civil War, which broke out soon after this, put a stop to any further Undertakings of this sort, nor does it appear that any Voyages were made to this Country from the year 1631 until the year 1667, when Zachary Gilman being fitted out by the Merchants of London sailed thro' Hudson's Streights to the Bottom of the Bay and settled a Trade and built a Fort there, which is called Rupert's Fort in Honour of Prince Rupert who joined with the Merchants in the Adventure.”

Viscount HALDANE: Was that the beginning of the name Rupertsland?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord.

Viscount HALDANE: The Fort was so called, and they called the rest of the land Rupertsland.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord, that appears in the Charter. The Charter was three years afterwards. Zachary Gilman—

Viscount HALDANE: He anticipated it by calling it a fort.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord. He probably thought that it was a good plan to pay a compliment in high places. He gets there in 1667, and very prudently and properly labels it “Rupert's Fort.” Then he goes back, and in 1670 the Sovereign grants a Charter to, amongst others, his entirely trusted and well-beloved Cousin Prince Rupert, who joined in the adventure. That is the way these things are done. Then it goes on: “In 1669 another Voyage was undertaken by the same Adventurers, and one Captain Newland entered there

p. 182

making a publick Declaration of His Majesty's Right, and affixing up the Arms of England as a mark of Sovereignty. In 1670 the Adventurers in the aforementioned Voyages were incorporated into a Company by Letters Patents, by which Letters Patents the sole Trade and Commerce of all those Seas, Streights, Bays, Rivers, Lakes, Creeks and Sounds, in whatsoever Latitude they shall be, that lye within the Entrance of the Streights commonly called Hudson's Streights, together with all the Lands and Territories upon the Countries, Coasts, and Confines of the Seas, Bays, Lakes, Rivers, Creeks and Sounds aforesaid, that are not already actually possessed or granted to any of His Majesty's Subjects or possessed by the Subjects of any other Christian Prince or State, with the Fishing of all sorts of Fish, Whales, Sturgeons and all other Royal Fishes in the Seas, Bays, Islets and Rivers within the Premisses and the Fish therein taken, together with the Royalty of the Seas upon the Coasts within the Limits aforesaid, was granted to the said Company and their Heirs for ever. In consequence of this Grant the Company in 1672 appointed William Bayley to be Governor of all their Forts and Factories, who established a Trade with the Natives and made Settlements at Port Nelson and other Places. In the year 1682 in time of profound Peace the French sent two Ships from Quebec into Hudson's Bay and dispossessed the English of the Fort and Settlements in Nelson's River. They continued to make further Depredations until the year 1686, when all the Company's Factories and Settlements at the Bottom of the Bay were surprised and taken by a Party of French sent over land from Canada.”—This, your Lordships will remember, is the subject of these grievous complaints which we were looking at earlier in the morning.—“In consequence of this Grant the Company in 1672 appointed William Bayley to be Governor of all their Forts and Factories, who established a Trade with the Natives and made Setlements at Port Nelson and other Places. In the year 1682 in time of profound Peace the French sent two ships from Quebec into Hudson's Bay and dispossessed the English of the Fort and Settlements in Nelson's River. They continued to make further Depredations until the year 1686, when all the Company's Factories and Settlements at the Bottom of the Bay were surprised and taken by a Party of French sent over land from Canada. Upon these repeated injuries and depredations several memorials were presented by the Company to King James 2nd and Complaints having been made to the Court of France they were referred to Commissaries appointed on both sides to meet in London in order to settle such Points as were then in dispute between the Crowns relative to America. This Negociation however was of very short Duration and the Conferences, the chief object of which was the Redress of the Damages done in Hudson's Bay, were broke off by the happy Revolution, which took place soon after, and before any satisfaction could be obtained or the Points in Dispute adjusted.” That explains why the Treaty of Ryswick—

Viscount HALDANE: This appears to have nothing whatever to do with it.

p. 183

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think it was a phrase that was not inappropriate in the mouths of the Lords.

Viscount HALDANE: It merely meant to say that the thing stopped then because of disturbances caused by the change of Government.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord; but still, after all, the Lords of Trade were making a report to the prerogative authority, which, not unnaturally, was accustomed to hearing the revolution described as a happy revolution.

Viscount HALDANE: They liked the term.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord. Happiness, I am afraid, is often a mere incident rather than anything else. “The happy Revolution, which took place soon after, and before any satisfaction could be obtained or the Points in Dispute adjusted. During the War which broke out a few years after between the two Nations the French took York Fort from the Company to which they then gave the name of Bourbon; the Company however recovered this Fort again in 1696, but it was soon after re-taken by the French, and the Peace which was made in 1697 put an End to all further Hostilities.”
Then I think I can save your Lordships' time. The report quotes the article in the Treaty of Ryswick which your Lordships saw this morning, and then it says: “In Consequence of these Stipulations, Commissaries did meet at London, but the Peace was of so short a Duration as to prevent their coming to a final Determination upon any of the Points which were the subject of their Conference. It appears upon an Examination of the Memorials and other authentick Papers which were delivered by the Commissaries in support of their respective claims to Hudson's Bay as well in the Conferences in 1687 as those in 1699, that the English Commissaries insisted that all that part of North America, which comprehended Hudson's Bay, was discovered by Sebastian Cabot in 1497, that this Discovery conveyed a Right to the Crown of England to that Country, that that Right was afterwards established by the Discovery made and the actual Possession taken by the subsequent Navigators at times when no other Christian Princes or States had any Possession or even Knowledge of those Parts, the French in particular not having any Settlements in Hudson's Bay until 1682, and that this Right was further confirmed by the Treaty of Neutrality in 1686, by which it is stipulated that both Nations shall retain all the Dominion, Rights and Preeminencies in the American Seas, Roads and Waters in as full and ample manner as of Right belonged to them. In answer to this it is alleged by the French that this part of North America is called in all ancient Geography the Coast of Labrador, and was so named by the Spaniards who discovered it long before the English. That the Voyages mentioned to have been made by

p. 184

the English were merely the Discovery of a Passage to the South Seas, whereas they could prove an infinite number of Voyages to have been made at that time to the Coast of Labrador by the Normans and Basques, that the Possession taken of Hudson's Bay in 1612 was at a time when the French were in actual Possession of the Country, that the English did not know the Northern Country from the year 1497. That the several Authors who write of Canada give it no Bounds to the North; That all the Northern Bay was comprehended in the Limits set down in a Grant made in the year 1628, by which a Canada Company was established”—

That means La Compagnie de Canada, Cardinal Richelieu's Company. “And that if the English had had any knowledge of the Bay, or any pretention to it, they would not have failed to have reserved their Right in the Treaty of 1632, which restored Canada to France. That although the French had not at that time nor for a long time after any Forts in this country, yet they traded with the Indians and had settlements upon the Rivers which fall into Hudson's Bay, and they produced several Acts to prove the Indians acknowledged the Sovereignty of France before the English ever thought of going thither. The said Commissaries also referred to several Grants, Edicts and Letters Patent of the Crown of France in the years 1540, 1598 and 1627, by which all that part of North America including the coast of Labrador”—you see the ease with which this phraseology is used, “the coast of Labrador”; it cannot possibly mean a seashore—“and the Bay since called Hudson's Bay is granted to certain Companies and private Adventurers. The said Commissaries also refer to several subsequent Grants and Letters Patent of the like nature, from whence they argue an uninterrupted possession and therefore allege that the Treaty of Breda in 1667 and that of Neutrality in 1686 favor their claim. The English Commissaries in their reply to the French Memorials, insist upon the right of the Crown of Great Britain founded upon prior discovery and possession, and although the discovery and possession upon which that right is founded might be made in search of a North West passage, yet that did not hinder that a discovery made and possession taken in such pursuit was rightful and proper. They further alleged that the Grants and Letters Patent cited by the French are of no force, there never having been any actual possession taken.” Then in the next paragraph 24: “That as to what has been alleged of Canada having no bounds to the northward it is plain by all Maps that Terra Labrador and Estoitland are in the North of Canada lying northward between Canada and Hudson's Bay, and they did never hear that the French had laid claim to these two Countries. That as to what had been urged with respect to this country not being reserved in the Treaty of 1632, there was no need of reserving that which was so remote and not so much as known to the French and that the Treaty of Breda favoured the English who were in actual possession before the 1st of January 1665. That as to what had been alleged by the French that the Normans and Basques made voyages to Labrador at the time of the first discovery of this Country by the English, it was not disputed, but that this country was three or four hundred Leagues, distant from the Bay.” That is all

[1927lab]




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