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








26 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

26 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

26 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

26 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

26 Oct., 1926.

Sir John Simon.

Viscount Haldane.

Sir John Simon.




p. 239

Labradore which lyes between Hudson's Streights and the Streights of Belleisle, to search and explore the great Inlet commonly known by the name of Davis's Inlet, in order to discover, whether the same has or has not any passage to Hudson's Bay, or any other inclosed Sea”—I called attention to some maps, and if your Lordships are disposed to make any sort of note in the margin of maps which should be looked at at some stage, they are the inset to Mitchell's Map——

The LORD CHANCELLOR: That is Map No. 9, is it not?

Sir JOHN SIMON: It is Map No. 11 in the Canadian Atlas, my Lord, and there is a little inset which shows this part. Then there is Map No. 9 in the Newfoundland Atlas, which is Senex, and also Map No. 11, which is Bellin. Those are very good instances to show that at this time it was not known. Those maps all illustrate that point, and they do show, as I said before, that whatever else was intended, it was certainly intended that under the authority of the Governor of Newfoundland there should be a penetration through this opening. Of course, it may be said that it still would be done on shipboard, but it was a thing which was known to go at least thirty leagues inland. As a matter of fact, Hamilton Inlet runs up something like 120 or 130 miles.

Sir THOMAS WARRINGTON: Is Hamilton Inlet what is called here the Great Inlet?

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes, my Lord, it really means that. Davis's Inlet, or Davis Bay, is on the map to–day called Hamilton Inlet; but there had been confusion, and what was really referred to by these early explorers as Davis Bay was undoubtedly Hamilton Inlet.
Then the next one is paragraph 8, on page 393, which says: “You are also to enquire and report to Us, by Our Commissioners for Trade & Plantations, whether any or what further Establishment may be necessary to be made, or Forts erected in any part of Newfoundland, or the other Islands or Territories under your Government, either for the Protection of the Fishery, the Security of the Country”—so that it is not limited to fishery, although, of course, that was primary—“or the establishing and carrying on a Commerce with the Indians residing in or resorting to the said Islands, or inhabiting the Coast of Labradore.”
Then on the next page, page 394, will your Lordships kindly note incidentally—I will not develop it myself, but I think my learned friend Mr. Barrington Ward may have something to say on the fishery aspect of the matter—that there is a plain indication in paragraph 10 that apart altogether from the cod fishery, other fisheries are important; for instance, it says: “Whale and Sea Cow fishery may be carried on in the Gulph of St. Lawrence and upon the Labradore Coast.” We shall come across the salmon in a moment.
Then the expression “Islands and Territories” occurs again in paragraph 12, and it occurs again at the bottom of page 395, in the last

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line of that page, where it says: “If anything shall happen which may be of advantage or Security to Our Said Islands and Territories.”
In one of the documents there is an interesting reference to the fact that the Lord Bishop of London had specially addressed the Sovereign and had stated that due provision should be made for the spiritual needs of the population.
Then on page 396 will your Lordships first of all look at clause No. 25, which says: “Whether any person, at his departure out of the said Country, or at any other time, do destroy, deface or do any detriment to the Stages, Cookrooms, Flakes, &c., or to the materials thereunto belonging, which had been possessed by himself or others, and whether they repair the defects, that may be in their Stages or other Conveniences, by Timber fetched out of the Woods, and not by committing any manner of Spoil or Waste upon the Stages already built.” There is no doubt at all that it was intended that this drying operation should be carried out with the use of timber from further back. In the same may he was to ask, in paragraph 33, about rinding of the trees and setting fire to the woods.
Then on page 399 there is a set of interrogatories of the most elaborate kind, which showed that the Governors of Newfoundland would be kept busy, and indeed they were. Governor Palliser sent the most elaborate answers. Just look at the sort of things that were wanted to be known in reference to the islands and territories. It begins about ships and boats, but will your Lordships just look at line 17, where it says: “The Value of Seal Oil and of Furs taken by the Inhabitants last Winter?” and in the same way at line 23: “The number of Inhabitants, and how many have been born or have died there, since the departure of the last year's Convoy”; and at paragraph 41: “In what manner the Inhabitants are subsisted, what Land is there improved? Whether the Country produces such Provisions as they want, and whether they have any number of Cows, Sheep and Swine, or whether they receive any Provisions from Our Plantations in America, of what sorts or kind, and the quantities thereof? Whether the said Inhabitants are wholly supplied with Sail Cloth, Nets and Tackle for their Fishery, and with Woollen, Linen, Leather and other Manufactures for their use and wear from this Kingdom,” and so forth.
Of course, the whole thing reflects what is to be found in a sentence in one of the speeches of the great Lord Chatham some twenty years afterwards, that the view taken of plantations and establishments such as these was that they were a double blessing to the mother country: in the first place they provided a market where it was possible to sell wool, linen, leather and other manufactures, and in the second place they provided things like fish and other things which were needed in the home market. Lord Chatham had a famous sentence upon the double value of these lands.
In the same way. on page 400, in paragraph 47, you get this: “Whether any Trade is carried on for Beaver and other Furs by the Inhabitants, or by any other who remain in the Country?” and in paragraph 48: “Whether the Houses, Buildings and Inclosures of the

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Inhabitants are at such distance from the water side as not to hinder or obstruct the Fishermen in making their Flakes, or in drying and curing their Fish?”
Now, my Lords, I do not propose to delay you any longer about that. I make a submission about it which I hope will be thought to be reasonable.

Viscount FINLAY: What are “flakes”? Are they nets?

Sir JOHN SIMON: They built up stages or platforms upon which or from which they dried the fish—they laid the fish out.

Mr. MACMILLAN: They cleaned and stripped and laid them out.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Yes; it was a sort of table; those were the flakes; and it was that kind of thing at the margin of the sea which the French were anxious to preserve so far as the island of Newfoundland is concerned.
Now my submission about it, to put it once and for all, upon my instructions, is this: I am not in the least disputing that the purpose and motive and governing consideration in all this business was the use of the margin of the sea in connection with fishing of different kinds. But with great respect, that is not the real question. The question is whether or not, when you get annexed to the island of Newfoundland—the whole island, most of the interior of which was quite unknown—an area described in this way, that does not give you what I will show your Lordships is called a natural boundary, and whether that natural boundary is not the height of the land.
Then, next to that, there comes another document on page 406, which is the Admiralty Instructions to Captain Thomas Graves, and the date of that, as your Lordships will see, is the 2nd May, 1763. May I make one observation about Admiralty Instructions, which I think may perhaps make their relation to the other documents a little clearer. In the case of Newfoundland, this rather curious practice was followed, that the man who was appointed Governor and Commander in Chief of the area—whether it was Newfoundland, or whether it was Newfoundland and the Coast of Labrador—was also, by an independent instrument, given the command of the Fleet, the King's ships on the Newfoundland Station; and what is very significant is that even after the Coast of Labrador was transferred to Quebec in the year 1774, so that the territorial jurisdiction would pass altogether from the Governor of Newfoundland, Admiralty Instructions to the Governor of Newfoundland (who from 1774 had nothing but Newfoundland to look after) still continued for the purposes of surveying and controlling affairs on the Labrador Coast.
I rely upon that fact, because it seems to me to show that, as a matter of fact, there were two jurisdictions, not coincident. The jurisdiction which you may call the purely Admiralty jurisdiction is a thing that goes on even after the Coasts of Labrador had been trans–

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ferred to the Governor of Quebec; and it is therefore very difficult to suppose that the jurisdiction which you may call the territorial jurisdiction is a jurisdiction which is the same thing as the Admiralty surveillance. It is a curious fact that at the very time when Governor Sir Guy Carleton, who was the Governor of the extended area of the Province of Quebec is in express terms given jurisdiction over the coasts of Labrador by transfer from Newfoundland—at that very time the Admiralty instructions to the Governor of Newfoundland that he is to keep the fleet protecting the fishing, go on just the same.

Viscount HALDANE: I suppose it was Imperial defence.

Sir JOHN SIMON: Of course, it was. I am only saying, my Lord, it is difficult to think that the two conceptions are not different, one the conception of the administration of the territory, which is called the coast of Labrador, and the other the Admiralty jurisdiction which your Lordship says was defence.
I do not think if that is clearly understood it is necessary to read much. You will notice at the bottom of page 406, in the first paragraph, you get: “And whereas you have received His Majesty's Commission appointing you Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland, the Coast of Labrador front the entrance of Hudson's Streights to the River St. Johns”—then on the top of the page: “Taking care to prevent all illegal trade, during your continuing on that coast.” Then in 2; “You are agreeable to an Act of Parliament of the 10th and 11th years of King William the Third,” and 4: “And whereas the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations have represented to us, that it is very prejudicial to this Kingdom, that the fishing ships do not bring home from Newfoundland the complement of men they carry out, many of them being enticed away to New England and others left in the country.” I cannot help thinking the country there means the Newfoundland area—“for which reason they have desired We should give you directions to signify to the Masters of all British ships at Newfoundland that they take care to bring home the number of men they carry out.” Then 5 deals with foreign ships who are claiming to fish, directing them to take care that foreign ships do not do it except within their rights under the Treaty of Utrecht. Then on page 408 I think your Lordships will find paragraph 7 and on page 409 you will find paragraph 9 to be of some little use; 7 is: “And you are to exert your best endeavours to encourage and support the Whale Fishery, in the Straits of Belleisle and more particularly the Fishery in York Harbour and on the other parts of the Coasts of Labrador and to hinder any trade and intercourse being carried on by any persons whatever other than the Subjects of Great Britain with the inhabitants of that country, which of right belongs solely to His Majesty.” Evidently “that country which belongs solely to His Majesty” is what I may call a territory: “And you are likewise to protect the salmon and seal fishery along the Coasts, and likewise the fisheries carried on by His Majesty's subjects in the Gulph of St. Lawrence, near the Islands of Madelaine &c.”

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That answers Lord Haldane's question, the islands of Madelaine were really a fishing ground—“and to settle and guard the Fishery not only at Placentia and Saint Johns, but as far to the northward upon the coasts of Newfoundland, and upon those of the Continent of Labrador”—the expression “Continent” is used several times—“as His Majesty's Subjects shall be employed in catching and drying fish, taking care to prevent the Subjects of France from giving them any disturbance.” Then in paragraph 9: “And in Order that this service may be more effectually performed We have directed the Commanders of the four ships and sloops named in the margin at the beginning of the Instructions.” If your Lordship cares to turn back and look in the margin you will see the names of the vessels were the Pearl, the Tweed, the Terpsichore, the Lark, and one or two others—“carefully to visit the several Harbours, Coasts, and Fishing Grounds, as well those upon the coasts of Newfoundland as those upon the Coasts of Labrador, and to the Northward, with directions to them to prevent the French from drying their Fish.” Then it goes on to talk about making charts.

Viscount HALDANE: You observe he is not to go beyond the tidal estuary for this purpose. He was not there as a ruler to do what he thinks, but he was to go there. It all points to Imperial defence.

Sir JOHN SIMON: I think it does. I do not quite catch the place.

Viscount HALDANE: 8.

Sir JOHN SIMON: “But not to remain there beyond the time necessary for this purpose.” I think that means the French fishermen who have got certain rights reserved to them by the Treaty of Utrecht, who are therefore entitled to make a temporary use of the shore, are not to be allowed to stay there longer than is necessary for such user. May I just tell my Lord Haldane, because I think he will see I am conceding what is in his mind, there is no doubt at all these Admiralty Instructions of which we speak are really mere instructions for the operation of the Fleet. There is not the slightest doubt about it, and in this capacity as in those days it was called Commander in Chief of the Fleet—you might think that was a military title, but it really was a naval title—on the Newfoundland station there can be no doubt whatever in that character these operations were purely from the sea, purely a matter of supervision and regulation and the like. My point, my Lord Haldane, is, those are Admiralty Instructions. Side by side with that, and presumably different from that, is a Commission which does not come to him in his character as Commander in Chief of the Fleet on the Newfoundland station, but on the contrary comes to him in his capacity as Governor of an area; and the most striking thing is, I am sure your Lordships will think it has some significance, I repeat myself, that when you get the transfer of what I may call Newfoundland and Labrador from the Governor of Newfoundland to the Governor of Quebec, you will find the Governor of

[1927lab]




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